But still amazingly, Voldemort continued to resist.
"Hermione!" Harry called, "When I say 'now!"
stop shielding me and join your attack power to mine. NOW!"
There was a sudden surge in the power Harry was putting out. His energy grew even closer to Voldemort. But still the evil wizard fought back. Harry could not believe there could be so much evil! He could feel it flowing back towards him, creeping along his energy beam, trying to get at him.
"You can't defeat me!" Voldemort screamed. "No power can defeat me! I am invincible!"
"Not today!" came a voice from behind Harry. Harry felt a wand touch his back.
There was a sudden surge in the energy he was putting out. A new power surged along his beam, and two shimmering objects.
A portal began to open behind Voldemort. He struggled to hold his ground. Suddenly the two objects in the light grabbed him. Harry could see Voldemort's spirit being yanked from his body and carried backward through the open portal. The two figures carrying him became visible. They were Neville and Diane!
Harry glanced quickly behind him. Their bodies lay on the ground. "No!" harry screamed, "No!" But it was too late. As Voldemort's physical form burst into flames and began to be consumed his spiritual form screamed in agony as it too, began to burn, and break up. In a few moments it was gone. Neville and Diane came back through the portal.
"Somebody had to die, Harry," Neville remarked, "to take him to The Afterlife, and destroy him forever. It couldn't be you and Hermione, so we decided it had to be us."
"It's all right, Harry," Diane put in, "we'll be spirits for a long time. We'll help you from this side! It's really all right!"
Harry tried to compose himself. Others were gathering around. He saw Voldemort's people on the ground writhing in pain, and snapped out of his dilerium. "Remove the marks from them!" he cried, heading for one woman. "Hurry! Break the connection! It's the only chance they have. Quickly!"
Ron and Viktor joined him and combining their power they removed the woman's mark. Almost immediately she seemed better. They went on to another. After a time things grew quiet. Harry came back to the two bodies lying on the ground. Professor Potter appeared.
"Did you know?" Harry asked.
Potter shook his head. "I suspected," he answered, "but I would not have been permitted to interfere, Harry. It was their choice. They valued your life more than theirs. They were willing to die to put an end to Voldemort. Sometimes, Harry, no matter how much power you have there's some things you can't do anything about. You just have to let it happen for the good of all. They have no regrets, Harry."
"My life," Harry snapped, "wasn't any more valuable than theirs! They shouldn't have done it!"
"What's done is done, Harry," the professor answered, "and this can't be undone. It simply has to be accepted, and their gift honored. It would be wrong to do anything else."
Harry knew he was in an argument he couldn't win. He went through the school checking on things and finally got to the hospital. He found the two Weasleys sitting in chairs by the door. "How did it go?" Harry asked.
"Oh, not too bad," both brothers spoke in perfect unison. "Two trolls busted through the wall, some kind of flying thing came in, a cross between a bird and a crocodile, and four death eaters managed to break down the door. They never got in, however. We used that fixing spell of Hermoine's to put everything back together. But the caretaker better make sure we did a good job!"
Harry smiled. "I'm sure you did!" he comforted.
Hagrid appeared. "Gretel?" he called.
"Here, darling!" Gretel answered. "The youngsters took very good care of me. Come say hello to Cedric!"
Hagrid went over and uncovered the little bundle laying beside Gretel. "Well, hello Cedric!" he remarked.
"Welcome to Hogwarts! It's going to be your home for a long time! You'll probably still be here when Harry's headmaster."
"Cedric?" Harry remarked.
"In honor of a fine young man we used to know!" Hagrid answered. "All our family names are just too old fashioned! We thought it the most appropriate one."
Harry nodded. "We'll you'll have a story to be told about your birthday, young fellow!" Harry remarked.
Harry saw Sir Nicholas pouting in the corner and went over. "What's the matter?" he asked.
"It happened during the fighting," Nicholas remarked, "and I can't undo it. I don't know what to do!"
"What?" Harry asked.
Nicholas pulled on his head and nothing happened. His neck stayed intact!" "I'm ruined!" Nicholas cried, "I'm not special any more!"
Harry laughed. "Sir Nicholas," he said "you will always be special even if all the positive energy flowing around here did put your head back on! You will always be our Nicholas!"
"Here here!" everybody standing around cried.
The ghost smiled. "I don't know about the rest of you, " Harry remarked, "but I'm going to stand an hour's watch over our friends and then I'm going to bed."
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