There is nothing left of him but bone and ash.
Harry lets his eyes linger on the grim site of the Dark Lord’s defeat, his wand held loose in his right hand, her lifeless body held tightly against him with his left.
He could not look at her pale face, pale lips, dead eyes. It did not make sense for her to be without life; even her hair was flat and matted. Hermione Granger was gone.
Her sacrifice, the last in this long and terrible war, made the victory possible. But he wished it had not been. He wished she was still living, breathing, and that he was there alone, bloodied and tortured under the control of Lord Voldemort. That she had not been there to save him, to revive him, to bring him back to the light.
But she was there, and with her presence came her downfall.
“You’re here to take her from me.”
“I’m here to say goodbye, Charlie.”
“You’re hoping she’ll go with you, though.”
“Why would I want that? After Ron – ”
“After Ron died, you had nobody but Hermione and she had nobody but you. But you forced her to come home, and I was here for her, and now she loves me, too, and you can’t stand it…You love her, I know it.”
“I’ve always loved her. And yes, it’s bloody hard to watch her fall in love with someone else – someone who wasn’t there through everything that that’s happened. But after Ron died, I sent her home for a reason. To protect her. I’m not going to put her in danger, Charlie. I just want to say goodbye.”
“Even if you don’t take her, she’ll leave…”
“I won’t let her. I’ll go where she can’t find me.”
“She’ll find you.”
“I just want to say goodbye.”
He had not wanted her to follow, but he had known Charlie was right. Hermione Granger would not give up on him; she would not give up on the battle. She would be there until the end, because that was the right thing to do, because of Harry, because of Ron. She would give her life for the fight if that was what it asked of her.
Charlie had given Harry a dark but pleading look when he left them alone.
He told her he was leaving to face the end, to face Voldemort, to destroy him once and for all. She had cried, and pleaded him to let her come, and he told her no and they argued. She then slapped him hard across the face. Twice.
“You shouldn’t be weakening my defenses before my big fight,”
he had said. She had laughed, and then she began to sob again, “Damnit, Harry. This is my fight, too. I owe this to you. I owe it to Ron.”
He kissed her, Charlie be damned. Then he left, knowing he could do nothing to stop her from following.
He was dying when she found them. He wasn’t sure what had happened, how she had held off Voldemort long enough to heal his wounds and pour potion past his lips. He just knew that when he felt the strength return to his limbs, when he had opened his eyes, there was a flash of green and Hermione Granger was dead.
It was not long after Harry claimed his victory.
Now, still covered in blood, he began to cry over Hermione’s body. He thought of Charlie, and knew he would be devastated. He knew he would angry; he would be angry at Harry, at Voldemort, even at Ron, who had long since passed. He would be angry at the world and at God and the Devil. He would be angry at Hermione, even. For making him fall in love, and for leaving and sealing her own fate.
Harry could not feel that anger. Not now, not yet.
He only felt grief. Sadness. Despair. Darkness.
“You could have let me go. You could have stayed with Charlie. You could have been happy.”
If only she’d let him say goodbye the first time.