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All seventh years were in nice, neat black velvet graduation dress robes, with traditional witch and wizard hats. Harry and I, being Head Boy and Girl, were to each give a speech about memories, challenges, happy times, and all that other sappy end-of-school talk. I knew I would miss Hogwarts greatly, but I'd be fine as long as I was in touch with my friends, especially Harry and Ron.

Poor Harry. Everyone was expecting a huge, moving speech from him, THE Harry Potter. But I know he doesn't have a speech prepared yet. He's had blinding pains in his scar, and was sick of people being so proud of him. He and Ron even joked that he'd get up there and just say nothing, though I sincerely hoped he wouldn't do such a thing.

"You okay?" I asked uncertainly, as he was looking slightly pale.

"Absolutely," Harry lied.

I had never accumulated enough courage to tell Harry that I loved him. I always thought that he'd never take me seriously afterwards. I didn't want to risk losing our friendship. Not to mention I don't think he would ever think of me that way. I was just Old Dependable Bookworm Hermione. The one who never took chances, and tried to never break rules. The one who never lived life.

But after seven years of crush, I had finally realized that Harry meant everything to me, even if that feeling was one way. To me, he was not the Boy-Who-Lived, but more like the Boy-Who-Was-Always-Kind-and-a-Great-Friend. My friend. The first real one I've had.

Ron was never the same. I knew he had previously had a crush on me briefly, but he wasn't the same person Harry was. Sure he was loyal, and dependable in a crunch, but I had never thought of him as anything more than one of the best friends someone could have.

I had spent weeks making up my speech, writing, revising, memorizing. I had every word, letter, space, and punctuation mark locked away in my mind, waiting to be unlocked and unleashed. My key - memories, experiences, feelings. Friends, family, foes, studies, and magic. Happiness, sadness, and love. Love - the most magical thing of all.

Clapping sounded throughout the Great Hall as Dumbledore finished his own speech, and everyone, including Malfoy, was as silent as the dead as Head Boy Harry Potter walked silently up to the podium.

Sure enough he hadn't prepared his speech, but I bet I'm the only person who noticed. Words came to him as if they were written in the air right in front of his handsome face, but no one could see any letters.

"I have learned many things throughout my time at Hogwarts. Magic, potions (Here I waited for Ron to snort, snicker, or scream, but he too was mute.), how to care for magical creatures...But most importantly I have learned the value of friendship. Hogwarts has been the most of a home I've ever had, and the friends and acquaintances I have made are more valuable to me than any charm, incantation, brew, or creature. Kindness has been shown to me by everyone here at least once, and that has changed my life. The real magic at Hogwarts is the friendships people make that will last their whole life. And with these friendships we go out into the world. The real world, where friends may be the only ones who can help us. So as you leave today, take care of yourself, and more importantly take care of your friends, for they will do the same."

At this the whole hall stood up and clapped, and a shocked Harry replaced the steady and sure one. He smiled his infamous lopsided grin and walked back to his chair, next to me.

"You are bloody brilliant!" I exclaimed, softly, but loud enough for Harry to hear over the dying applause.

"You'll be better," he stated.

"I doubt anyone could out do that performance!"

"Thank you, thank you very much," Harry joked in an Elvis impression. I laughed, both at the voice, and at Harry's impeccable timing. He muttered one last assurance that I'd do great at this, just like everything else. He said that the hall would explode after my speech. Despite his meaning of applause level, he was too right on this life altering day.

I walked up and said my speech, which was quite boring, even to me. As everyone listened politely, I swore, in my head of course, that I'd tell Harry I loved him before we left on the train tomorrow. Little did I know that my window of opportunity was smaller than one would guess.

As I uttered my last line, of how people should remember all the good times and friendships they made, as Harry predicted, the hall DID explode.

A flash of bright light flew through the hall as an explosion blew the wall up and shattered surrounding windows. The lights all went out leaving just about everyone in the dark, in more than one way.

To my surprise, not a soul uttered "Lumos". I, and everyone else who hadn't already guessed, found out quickly as a raspy-but-loud, cold voice laughed an evil laugh.


He turned on the lights, probably to make sure everyone could see him. He walked over to Harry, red snake eyes gleaming, and pasty, white, shiny, bald head contrasting greatly with his darker-than-black robes. The fabric was like an abyss as he tried to make himself more menacing by pulling the dark hood over his head.

"Potter, Potter, Potter."

"Don't 'Potter, Potter, Potter' me you cowardly piece of crap. If you're here to kill me, let's duel!" Harry snarled. Boy, Harry was the bravest person I knew, or for that matter, would ever know.

"Oh, if only it were that easy Potter. But no, I have to torture you first. And you don't want to ruin my fun do you?"

I was beginning to wonder why no one was doing anything. This was Harry Potter! Who cares what the prophecy says?! Harry will never turn Dark. Why can't people be more trusting?

I was trying to think of any useful spells when I heard the Dark Lord scream, "Crucio!"

I realized now that I couldn't move. It was as if I were glued to the chair, and it to the floor. Seeing Harry in pain was the worst torture anyone could do to me. I began to cry, as I knew that there wasn't anything I could do. I felt so useless.

Tears were running down my cheeks, as if it were a rely race, and my heart had just passed the baton to my eyes. No wonder people call the eyes the window to the soul. I finally shook myself of my shock as I witnessed Harry writhing on the ground in utmost pain. I then snapped.

"Harry!!!" I screamed at the top of my lungs. Not even tears could muffle my desperate attempt at trying to help Harry. Unfortunately, I brought a bit too much attention to myself.

Voldemort ceased the Cruciatus curse on Harry and advanced on me.

"Well, well, well. What do we have here? A worthless mudblood? How disgusting!"

I finally broke off from the chair and stood up. Anger had replaced fear, and for the first time in my life, I actually hated someone with all my heart. I hated Voldemort stronger than I loved Hogwarts. The anger washed over me, and I was pissed.

"Ooh, a mudblood," Voldemort hissed. "Want to kill me do you? Go ahead!"

"Hermione, NO!" Harry screamed. " Don't let him fill you with hatred. It only leads to darkness!"

I knew what Harry said was true, but it was so hard not to hate the person, if one could call him that, who had screwed up so many lives. Harry could have been just a normal kid, instead of some sort of celebrity that people goggle at due to a scar.

"Care for this mudblood, do you Potter? Too bad, she's about to visit the dirt she belongs with...on a one way trip."

My fear came rushing back. He was about to kill me? I had barely begun to live, and I had to throw the rest of my life away? Why? Just so Voldemort can prove he hates muggle-borns? Am I just a point for someone to prove? In that case why was I born in the first place?

"Say good bye, mudblood," Voldemort whispered. Then, "Avada Kedavra!" A flash of bright green light hurtled towards me, and I closed my eyes. Waiting...waiting...God, I would miss Harry...Waiting...I don't know what I would have done without him...Waiting...I love Harry Potter...Waiting...Nothing. Not nothing in a blank, dead way, but nothing as in I was alive.

I opened one, then both eyes. Yes, I was alive. But why?

The answer was right in front of my eyes, literally. Harry. I immediately felt my heart sink lower than low.

"Why Harry?" I demanded of the person who gave up their life to shield me.


Harry's last words touched my heart and gave me more tears than I thought humanly possible.

"I love you too, Harry," I whispered, but I was too late. Harry would never know that the person he gave up his life for loved him back.

"Why Harry? I'm not worth it!" I sobbed. He had never been truly kissed. He always said that he'd wait for the one he loved. A kiss on the cheek for everyone else, or, at most, a quick peck on the lips. But never an all out kiss that's really a promise of love. Never in love with anyone else. He had waited for me, and I was too late.

"Oh Harry!"

I closed in and kissed him. The tears streaming down my face no longer mattered as I felt the love of my life slipping away into oblivion. I poured my heart and soul into that kiss, hoping somehow that the kiss would bring him back to life. But no such luck. Without him my life meant nothing. It was also my first kiss, and it meant more to me than life itself. I cannot live without Harry. Not only would I miss him with all my heart, but every day I'd remember that it's my fault he's dead. "The great Harry Potter sacrifices himself for one of his best friends".

"No! Not Harry!" I cried. "No! Take me instead! I'd gladly die for him! Please, just not Harry!"

My tears flew freely as I realized the only way to join Harry was in death, and I had every intention to do so. But I refused to let Harry's sacrifice be in vain, as I realized the true power of love. Love can overcome all obstacles.

I looked at Voldemort. One glance and I knew I had Harry's power. His love fought against Voldemort just like his mother's had. The power surged through me as I did both one of the best and worst things I had ever done in my life. I faced Voldemort and whispered.

"Avada Kedavra."

He fell lifelessly to the floor as I knew both Harry and I had killed Voldemort. Despite breaking the law, I had saved lives, and was ready to give up my own life to join Harry.

God, did I love him more than anything.

I, like Voldemort and Harry, had the last words I ever heard uttered to me in a whisper. Except for me, it was my own voice.

"Avada Kedavra," I whispered to myself as I joined Harry for eternity, happy, fulfilled, and totally ready.

The Western Tower