ARC 1: CHAPTER 1
For as long as Harry Potter could remember, he had only ever really needed—and wanted and longed for —one thing.
Being that beaten down child living in a cupboard under the stairs, witnessing what he could have had in the doting glances and indulgent smiles Petunia and Vernon Dursley gave to their son, he was helpless to that glow of hope that he could also have a family—people who would love him despite all his faults because no one could ever say that Dudley was perfect .
Even with every hurt, every bruise, every cut, every burn his relatives left him with; that hope did not diminish. Because in a way, he understood. Family cared for one another, even at the expense of others that was not part of that family. In that, Harry could say that family is selfish and he was okay with it. Aunt Petunia had always called him selfish too.
He wanted his mum and dad, but they are dead and death is permanent. So Harry resigned himself to that aching hope for a family.
And then came Magic .
Magic, which gave him Hedwig and Hogwarts; Hogwarts, which gave him Hagrid and Ron and Hermione and Gryffindor and his- their Army. It wasn’t all endless joy and merriment either, but suffering is what makes someone realize how important this one thing is.
In Hogwarts, Harry learned what it is to have a family. And that little kid with wide green eyes, broken beyond everything but for that hope …
Harry Potter would give anything to keep that family alive, because that’s what you do when given something beyond what you deserve.
If that meant sacrificing himself to his enemy, willingly walking down the path towards death that he’d always been standing on?
Harry would do it all with a smile. ( Even if it hurt and burned with the sting of the betrayal of someone he considered his own family, too. )
Because family was worth everything and Harry Potter had always belonged to death since the moment he was born. Raised like a pig for slaughter , Severus Snape had said. But that’s okay, dying has always been a choice for him.
So when Voldemort raised his wand and uttered the Curse that marked their beginning and end, Harry Potter stands with confidence and acceptance. Standing for the first time without the weight of the world on his shoulders.
It doesn’t quite work, though, because Harry Potter still wakes up in that forest minus a dark and foul soul fragment that used to live in his scar. Suddenly, the weight is there again.
Then he fights because that’s all he can do now.
He fights against the exhaustion, fights against the fear and uncertainty until he is facing Voldemort once again.
“Come on Tom, let’s finish this how we started,” Harry spoke with an almost-smile, mind replaying parts of the prophecy ( either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives ),“ together .”
And then they were falling and Harry held on his enemy as they flew across the ruined, beautiful castle until they are on the ground, wands clattering away. Both of them reached for their weapons, one side mirroring the other in a morbid kind of symmetry.
Their fight, their duel was in no way fair nor graceful. Harry never really had the chance to grow into the power and might his magic may possess, and Voldemort was a deranged and broken husk of a man that held too much knowledge and power.
“ Avada Kedavra! ”
“ Expelliarmus! ”
Two spells, the same ones they always used against each other, but now with wands that are not theirs. There’s no Priori Incantatem to interrupt them now, no spectres that the monster before him had killed, nothing but their will and magic to hold against the other. Voldemort may be more powerful, but Harry had something to fight for.
So when the air rippled with the destruction of the last horcrux, Harry wastes no time to recast his spell.
Voldemort crumbles and Harry catches the Elder Wand (feels his entire being sing as his hand wraps around it).
That was when everything went wrong .
Because the moment Voldemort died, the Death Eaters—all those who have sworn their loyalty to the Dark Lord— collectively froze and shrieked . It was terrible and alarming and everyone just stops , frightened of what was occurring.
Then everything went to hell .
For as long as he can remember, Harry Potter had only lived for one thing.
He’d died for it, too.
But that didn’t mean they had to die for him as well .
Harry was supposed to be the hero, the savior. He had defeated Voldemort, had cast the Dark Lord into ashes . He should have known that that victory was too easy.
It took one fail-safe, one backup plan made by a madman. One circumstance to reach.
One spell by an ignorant, foolish boy empowered by courage and certainty of victory.
( And didn’t that sound so bloody familiar —)
It didn’t even take an entire day for him to lose everything . For every single person he cared for be taken away from him.
This was no victory .
Victory should be followed by celebration and merriment. Victory should be the relief of winning against oppression and destruction.
Instead, it is spent trying and failing to build back up what was destroyed. It is days spent without sleep and grief and anger dragging them down.
He’s familiar with death, has walked its path countless times. He even has the Hallows with him, warm and pulsing and powerful and the only comforting thing in his life—
Then Harry Potter burned every single one of the faction of Dark, every single one of Voldemort's followers, into cinders of barely there ashes because how dare they take the only thing that was so precious to him. He burns along with them, fury and guilt and bitterness and fear running through his veins.
And when the rage simmers down into sorrow and grief, Harry Potter laughs and laughs and laughs at the irony it has brought. His own life had never mattered to him and Voldemort knew it. Dumbledore made certain of it.
Master of Death.
Family is what he lived for. And without it...
There’s nothing else left, is there?
(Then he re-accepts Death with open arms, finding and accepting Her favor and affection for what it is; a gift and a curse and a chance for Life no one else could have received.
Because Death had always been a part of his life and he might as well hold on to what was left for him.)