Harry woke with the sunrise the next morning to find Ginny still lying next to him. I wish we had a blanket, he thought, blushing and trying not to look at the sleeping girl.
Ginny stirred slightly in her sleep and after a moment, her eyes fluttered open. She looked around blearily until she spotted Harry, who was just pulling on his trousers. His face flushed when he noticed her looking at him and he mumbled, "The Order should be here soon."
"Well, could you hand me my clothes then?" said Ginny, making no move to get up. "Where're Neville and Luna?"
"Still asleep, I guess," said Harry, handing Ginny her clothing and trying to avert his eyes, a task he was finding very difficult to do.
When he turned back around, Ginny was completely dressed and was slowly approaching him. "You're not going to be weird again, are you?" she asked, placing her arms around his neck.
Harry smiled softly and said, "No. I don't think I will."
"Good," muttered Ginny, placing a soft kiss on his lips.
They were interrupted by a slight cough. Neville was standing in the entrance to the cave, looking a bit anxious. "What is it?" asked Ginny, not turning around.
"We found something that you might want to see," he said, leading them towards the back of the cave.
Luna was sitting on the ground, examining something in the very back of the cave. She motioned for Harry and Ginny to sit down and pointed to the wall. Inscribed in the soft rock were initials that were all too familiar. T.M.R. 1946.
"The last Horcrux," said Harry quietly. "It's got to be here somewhere." He stood up and began looking around.
"We've already checked," said Neville.
"Why didn't you get us first?" asked Harry irritably.
"You were busy," said Luna bluntly.
"Right," said Harry, suddenly becoming very interested in scratching his neck, as Ginny shuffled her feet sheepishly.
"So what do we do?" she asked, changing the subject.
"Did you try digging?" asked Harry.
Neville shook his head. "Here," said Ginny. "Go grab a few sticks from outside. I can transfigure them into shovels." Luna ran off to do so. "So we're going to dig a hole in the ground until we find something?" said Ginny incredulously.
"Not in the ground," said Harry, tracing the initials with his finger. "In the wall."
Two hours later, the Order members arrived outside the small cave. "Harry, are you in there?" called Mr. Weasley.
"What are you doing, Arthur?" growled Moody. "Constant vigilance. There could be Dark wizards in there!"
After a few moments, Harry and his companions emerged from the cave, dirtied and ragged looking. Clutched in Harry's hands was a shimmering gold crown, encrusted with rather large rubies and the figure of a roaring lion. Gryffindor's crown.
"Is that the last Horcrux?" asked Remus, coming to Harry's side.
Harry nodded, not taking his eyes off the crown. After a moment, he dropped it on the ground. He raised his wand and muttered a curse. A blue light shot out of his wand and struck the crown. It caught on fire, and a scream started to erupt from the burning object.
"Silence it!" snapped Ginny. "That's what got us caught before."
"Silencio!" growled Moody.
The shrieking stopped and, after a few moments, there was nothing but a shriveled lump of twisted gold. Harry looked up at the group that had gathered. "How many people are there?"
"We've got thirty-five total," said Mr. Weasley.
"Is that enough?" asked Neville quietly.
"It'll have to be," said Moody.
The rather large group headed towards the small house. About a third of them were carrying little packets of Peruvian Darkness. The plan was to release them as soon as they got inside the house, on a cue from Harry. Fred and George had provided everyone with the countercurse, which would allow them to see through the darkness. "Alright, Fletcher," grunted Moody, once they were close to the house. "Do something useful for once."
Mundungus and Chris headed stealthily towards the house. "Be very careful, Chris," muttered Mundungus. "They'll have some very advanced alarms on here."
"Trust me," whispered Chris, giving his uncle a dirty look. "I know how to deal with them. I'm paid to think like criminals."
"Well, that's just dandy," retorted Mundugus, pulling out his wand. "I am a criminal."
Chris didn't respond but, instead, pulled a credit card out of his pocket. After watching his uncle disable the charms, he fiddled with the door for a bit until it finally unlocked. He motioned for the others to come join him. Chris and his uncle backed up and allowed Harry and those with the Peruvian Darkness to stand up front. As he walked passed Colleen O'Dell, he gave her a little pinch and whispered in her ear, "That little trick of mine turn you on a bit, baby?"
"How is it, Fletcher," she hissed, not taking her eyes off the still unopened door. "That you can be thirty-four and still be a boy?"
"Quiet," growled Moody.
"I'll give you a date if we get out of this," said Colleen, squeezing Chris's hand as Harry grabbed the door knob.
The Order members hurriedly scurried inside, expecting to be attacked the moment they stepped in the door.
"Look at all the staircases," whispered Ginny.
There were about ten different staircases, all in the floor. "Where're the Death Eaters, do you reckon?" asked George, clutching the Peruvian Darkness tight in his hand.
"I don't know," muttered Moody. "Follow me."
He headed towards the staircase in the center of the room. As soon as he set his good foot on the first step, a loud bang went off, followed by a siren.
About twenty Death Eaters filed up a staircase on the left side of the basement. "NOW!" shouted Harry.
At that moment, the room filled the sounds of stumbling and the Order members muttering the countercurse. Ginny was wrenched away from Harry as a burly Death Eaters smashed into her. She felt a hand grasp hers and looked up to find Luna pulling her up. "Harry says to find Ron and Hermione," said Neville, leading them to the other side of the basement. "Pick a staircase."
Taking a wild guess and hoping that it would lead them to where they needed to be, Ginny chose a staircase and hurried down it, drawing her friends away from the curses that were now flying through the air.
"Quietly," whispered Ginny, putting a finger to her lips. "Keep your wands out."
They walked down a dingy, disgusting hallway which was lit only by a few small candles that were lining the walls. It seemed to go on forever. There were no doors or windows. Nothing. They had to be walking for at least a half an hour when, suddenly, a door at the end of the hallway burst open, and a dark-haired woman stood facing them. She looked just as surprised as the three companions were. It was Bellatrix Black.
In a heartbeat, Bellatrix had laid a curse on Luna, the first to gain her attention because of her long blonde hair, which shimmered in the faint light. Luna fell to the floor with a slight cry as the curse hit her. "Expelliarmus!" shouted Ginny, causing Bellatrix's wand to shoot into Neville's outstretched hand.
"Do you honestly think that you could possibly defeat me with a little charm like that?" sneered Bellatrix, regaining her balance.
She made a move to head for the door. "You're a coward," said Ginny, as her two friends trained their wands on the Dark witch. "You would run from three schoolkids?"
"Look," whispered Luna, so that only Neville and Ginny could hear. "Around her neck."
Hanging from Bellatrix's neck was a silver locket.
The last Horcrux.
Taking advantage of the trio's distracted state, Bellatrix ran forward and grabbed her wand. "Stupefy!" shouted Neville.
The dark-haired woman collapsed at their feet just before she could utter a hex. Neville stood staring at the woman at his feet with a disgusted expression, one like neither Luna nor Ginny had ever seen on his face. After a moment, he kicked over her body so that it rolled over. He bent down and yanked the locket off her neck. "Should we just leave her?" asked Luna quietly.
"You mean instead of killing her?" asked Neville sharply. "Yes." He gave the woman another slight kick. "I can give her mercy when she gave none to my parents."
He dropped the locket at his feet and brought his heel down upon it, releasing an unearthly shriek from the tarnished metal.
The last Horcrux had been destroyed.
"We've got to get out of here," said Luna, tugging on Neville's sleeve. "That sound will have Death Eaters here any moment."
Neville nodded, trying to regain his composure. He had never felt hatred in his life but now, as he looked down at this woman he felt that and a twinge of something else. Something that may have been pity.
Finally, he tore himself away and started to follow Ginny and Luna. The only door in the hallway was the one that Bellatrix had entered from. "It's our only choice," said Luna softly, squeezing Neville's hand.
Without another word, Ginny swung the door open, hoping that the room was empty.
After a brief second, a cold, cruel voice cried out, "Crucio!"
"Ronald!" gasped Hermione. "Ronald, wake up!"
"What is it?" grunted Ron, rolling over.
Agnes was pressed against the bars on their cell, listening. The three Death Eaters who had been chosen to be put in guard of them were mumbling nervously to one another. There had been a great deal of shouting and clamor coming from upstairs. "Someone's here," whispered Agnes, rejoining her friends. "I think they've found us!"
No sooner had the words left her mouth, then there was a great cry as the dungeon's door swung open.
Neville let out a shout as the curse hit him and he collapsed to the floor, writhing in pain. So this is what my parents felt, he thought distantly, as a feeling of burning agony filled him. This is what drove them mad.
After Voldemort released him from the curse, he lay on the floor, feeling as if he would never be able to move again. "A little Longbottom, are you?" asked Voldemort nastily. "Did you finish off Bella, then?"
"No," said Ginny loudly, hoping to draw attention from the obviously injured Neville, who seemed to have passed out.
Voldemort turned to her, his red eyes revealing a touch of amusement. With the flick of his wand, he sent a brief shot of pain towards Ginny, saying, "Didn't they teach you at your school never to speak unless spoken to?"
Ginny, although she had gasped when the curse had hit her, raised her head to meet those cruel eyes, a look of defiance on her face. Voldemort, noticing this, chuckled softly. "And who are you, little lady?" he asked, his lip curling maliciously.
Ginny said nothing and attempted to stare him down.
Luna, thinking that she was taking advantage of Voldemort's interest in Ginny, began to raise her wand, only to have Voldemort shoot a curse towards her a moment later. She had no time to dodge, and it hit her square in the stomach, throwing her back against the wall. "Luna!" cried Ginny, making a move towards her friend, only to find that her legs had become immobile.
She could only watch as Luna's blue eyes closed and her body went limp. Ginny fought furiously against the paralysis of her legs, wanting only to see if Luna was okay. "She's not dead," said Voldemort, after watching the young girl struggle for a bit. "Now I asked you, who are you?"
Again Ginny refused to respond.
A moment later, she was hit with a mental force so powerful that she did not know how to react. She felt visions of her past rise to the front of the memory and realized that Voldemort must be using Legilimency on her. She tried to fight against him but did not know how and felt powerless as her memory lay open for Voldemort to probe. Lying in the Chamber of Secrets and being woken by Harry...sneaking the Extendable Ears in Grimmauld Place...Quidditch...Harry kissing Ginny for the first time...Harry breaking up with Ginny...last night...
There. It seemed that Voldemort had found exactly what he was looking for. "Ginny," he whispered mockingly. "Have you missed your Tom?" He looked her up and down. "So this is the girl that the 'Boy-Who-Lived' has chosen," he said, his twisted smile ugly and leering. "My, how you've grown-"
Before he could say another word, the door once again burst open to reveal Harry, standing with his wand drawn. "Harry," said Voldemort, spreading his arms in a mockingly welcoming manner. "How nice of you to join us."
"It's over," said Harry, keeping his wand pointed at the Dark Lord.
Voldemort looked unfazed. "Haven't you learned by now, Harry, you can't kill me," he said.
"Actually, he can," interrupted Ginny, directing the last statement at Harry. "We destroyed the last Horcrux."
Leading the way, Fred entered the dungeon, blasting a Death Eater with a Stunning Spell. He was followed by George, Elle, and Sharon, all of whom immeadietly shot Stunning Spells at the remaining Death Eaters. "Agnes!" called Elle, running down the dark passage.
Sharon grabbed her arm, stopping her. "How do we know there aren't other Death Eaters down here?"
"They would've come out by now," said Fred, pushing past the both of them. "Where are you?"
Ron grabbed hold of the bars of the cell and shook them repeatedly, knowing that there was no way his weakened voice would carry. Moments later, their rescuers appeared at the door. "Move back," said George.
A moment later, the door was blasted in, and the three were freed. Elle hurried forward and clasped her daughter in her arms. "I thought I'd lost you," she murmured, holding Agnes as though she would never let go.
Fred and George helped Ron and Hermione up and hugged them both. "How're you feeling?" asked George.
"Pretty good," grunted Ron. "It was like a trip to the Bahamas."
"Haha, funny, Ronald," snapped Hermione. "Do you have any idea how you're going to get us out of-"
She couldn't finish her sentence because at that moment, her legs buckled underneath her. "Fantastic," muttered George, running a hand through his hair.
Sharon, however, had just sprinted up the stairs, where her old schoolmates had been keeping watch. She returned with Bernard Anderson, who had been the Keeper on James Potter's Quidditch team and was now playing professional Quidditch for the Appleby Arrows. "He can carry her," said Sharon, as Bernard scooped Hermione into his arms.
"Ron, Agnes, will you be okay?" asked George.
Ron nodded, and Agnes was too busy being embraced by Fred and her mother to respond. Elle tugged softly on her daughter's arm. "Let's get out of here."
A shadow of fear passed over Voldemort's face as he realized that he had suddenly become vulnerable.
Moments later, half of the Order of the Phoenix raced through the door.
Realizing that he was now outnumbered and very, very mortal, he did the first thing that came to his cunning mind. He grabbed Ginny Weasley around the waist and raised his wand to her throat. "Nobody move," he hissed.
Everyone froze in their place, not daring to even breathe. The tension in the air was suffocating. There was no way out. If anyone made a move to stop him, Voldemort would undoubtedly kill Ginny. He couldn't Disapparate. He had placed the charms himself.
The door opened again, and Alastor Moody entered. "You're finished," he growled, training his wand on the wizard.
Voldemort jabbed his wand into the pale flesh on Ginny's neck and laughed. "Hardly," he sneered. "I have a secret weapon of my own, in my arms right now."
With the arm that was holding Ginny, he slowly stroked her side with one of his long, pale fingers. Ginny shuddered and Harry had to stop himself from rushing forward. "Let go of her," he muttered.
Voldemort laughed again. "You see, he won't touch me while I have her. He's not willing to sacrifice her," he said. "That's the problem with your little thing called 'love'."
"Let's see it save you now, Harry Potter," he taunted. "'Love' can't save you. It has no power."
He was so busy mocking the powers of love that he didn't notice as Ginny drew her wand from inside her sleeve and stealthily pointed it backwards at Voldemort.
But Harry noticed.
"Do we know how to get out of here?" asked Gail Dowell, still tiny from her Hogwarts years.
The hallway was long and there was more than one staircase heading upstairs. "Did anybody keep track?" groaned Fred.
There was a shuffling of feet and guilty looks were exchanged. "Fan-bloody-tastic," muttered George. "We'll just have to-"
A door at the end of the hallway opened, and a flushed and terrified looking Draco Malfoy came into the hallway. He threw his hands in front of his face as wands were raised. "Don't attack," he cried. "I can get you out of here."
"Are you kidding me?" snapped Ron. "Why the bloody hell would we believe you?"
"Do you have any other options?" said Malfoy, smirking, although his face was still pale.
"Yeah, actually," said Fred sarcastically. "In case you're to thick to notice all the doors and staircases, I would say that we have a lot of options."
"With Death Eaters behind every door," interrupted Malfoy. "The only unblocked way in this one."
The group looked around at each other, trying to figure out what in hell they were going to do. They all turned to Fred and George for a decision.
"Alright, Malfoy," said George finally. "But if there's any funny business, I guarantee that I will personally kill you."
Malfoy nodded but as he turned to lead them to the correct staircase, he muttered under his breath, "Sure you will."
Ginny hollered the Jelly-Legs Jinx at the top of her lungs, and it was shot backwards toward her captor.
Voldemort doubled over and released Ginny, only for a second. But that second was all she needed. She grabbed Voldemort's dropped wand and stumbled forward into Harry's waiting arms. Harry, meanwhile, kept his own wand trained on Voldemort.
When the Dark Lord rose, it was with fear in his eyes. "You're going to kill me then, Harry," he said softly. "Now that I don't have a wand?"
"Don't listen to him, Harry," Ginny whispered in his ear. "He's trying to talk you out of it."
"Didn't Dumbledore teach you to fight fairly?" said Voldemort, his voice coaxing.
Harry shook his head. "You were never fair," he said finally, his eyes squeezed shut. "You killed without mercy."
"I offered your mother mercy. She chose to ignore it."
"For me," said Harry angrily, his eyes snapping open. "That's the power of love. Something you would never have understood. You're going to die now, Tom."
"Just do it, Potter," said Moody from somewhere behind him.
I can't. I can't do it. He killed so many people but I can't kill one.
"He's barely human anymore, Harry," pleaded Ginny desperately. "Just do it."
Taking a deep breath, Harry mustered all his courage and hollered, "AVADA KEDAVRA!"
After the small rescue group had reached the top of the stairs, with some difficulty, owing to the fact that Bernard was still carrying Hermione, they turned to Malfoy for the next direction. "Well, Malfoy?" snapped Ron, looking at him in disgust.
"You know, Weasley," said Malfoy, sneering at Fred. "The only reason she-" he jerked his blond head towards Agnes -"was punished was because of you. The Dark Lord wanted you and your brother to make weapons for him all along."
"Excuse me?" said Fred, raising his wand.
In a rush, about ten Death Eaters entered the room. They seemed ready to attack, when all of a sudden, each one stopped in their tracks. All were clutching their left arms and had a look of intense pain of their faces.
Something had happened.
Voldemort's body sank to the floor but he was not dead yet. Erupting from his body were hundreds of silvery shadows, which those who were still able to think clearly identified as the souls of those he had killed. Bertha Jorkins. Lily and James Potter. Dorcas Meadowes. His own family. Countless others.
They screamed as they exited the Dark Wizard's body, as if it were painful not only for him, but for the spirits. They were each a black mark against his terribly black soul. And he watched in terror as they swirled around him.
Finally, the screaming grew fainter, and Voldemort's eyes began to roll into the back of his head. The souls began to fade, as their murderer slowly expired. It was all over, at last.
Voldemort was dead.
A similar event was taking place in the hallway that was filled with Death Eaters and Order members. Souls were swirling out of the tattoo on each Death Eater's arm. Elle had focused in on Peter Pettigrew, who was whimpering in a corner as a few souls swirled around him. He hadn't killed that many, she thought, watching the terrified man on the floor.
Then, a gasp escaped her lips as a tall blonde emerged from the Dark Mark on Peter's arm. "I didn't kill you," he moaned.
Brigid said nothing but merely nodded her head. She looked across the room and made eye contact with Elle, who immeadietly collapsed to the floor sobbing. Nobody noticed, though. The room was already filled with the death screams of each Death Eater as they watched their victims whirl around them before they, too, joined them in death.
Voldemort had brought his followers down with him.