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Selflessness

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Pushing Hermione and Ron ahead of him. Harry stopped to seize Fred’s body under the armpits. Percy, realizing what Harry was trying to do, stopped clinging to the body and helped; together, crouching low to avoid the curses flying around them from the grounds, they hauled Fred out of the way. “Here” said Harry, and they placed him in a niche where a suit of armor had stood earlier. He could not bear to look at Fred a second longer then required, and after making sure the body was well hidden, he took off opposite of Hermione and Ron.

Harry couldn’t put another person he cared for in danger, Fred’s haunting yet gleeful expression jumping to the forefront of his mind. The sooner he ended this the better, and he knew Hermione and Ron were capable of staying safe amongst the mist of war. Harry couldn’t let them recognize what he was planning, knowing they would delay him or try to convince him otherwise. Approaching the rubble blocking the majority of the corridor, he ducked behind a large slab of stone for cover of passing spells through the gaping hole in the wall. Cool air breezed in, chilling the sticky blood upon his face and sweat dripping down his brow.

 Breathing deeply, Harry pulled the cloak over his body, covering everything evenly. Edging around the rubble, the soles of his feet and fingertips slip clean of the cloak, allowing better grip as he steadily climbed around the stones, the noise of rocks crumbling under his feet and hands drowned by the surrounding battles. Spells hitting stone around him, he worked harder at trying to clear the rubble, reaching the end of the blockade towards the room of requirement. What felt like forever, he finally cleared the mess; Harry’s palms bleeding from bits of stone and debris.

Down the now cleared corridor, he grasped the cloak around himself firmly, passing the destroyed room of requirement and still knocked out Goyle. Rushing down the cracked staircase at the end of the corridor, he carefully maneuvered past death eaters on the stairway. Deep voices mumbling between the pair, they failed to notice Harry squeezing past them along the wall as they discussed strategy. Harry focused on his mission, needing to get outside quickly to reach the forest before Voldemort grew more impatient. At the bottom of the stairs, Harry slipped his wand out of his pocket, holding it defensively yet firmly as he maneuvered past groups of fighting pairs. It was difficult to distinguish who was fighting who. He managed to find another hole of rubble at main floor level after a bit of wondering. Harry sped past it, stepping over a female slumped. Her body bloody and mangled beyond recognition outside of tan bits of flesh poking out from under the stones.

Swallowing, his throat feeling dry and tight at the sight, he refocused on reaching the forest. Running through the grassy grounds, he danced around gaping holes in the dirt, avoiding the approaching trolls and spiders a few feet away heading towards the schools’ main entrance. The copper scent of blood draining his senses as he breathed deeply, his stride wide and aggressive with purpose. If he could reach the tree line he could rest for a bit.

Would it hurt to die? His will to live had always been so much stronger than his fear of death. Yet it did not occur to him now to try to escape, to outrun Tom. It was over, he knew it; and all that was left was the thing itself: dying.

Riddle wanted him. Harry had hoped, perhaps naively, he could negotiate for everyone’s safety if he turned himself in. Tom was manipulative, deceitful, but he did value magic. He did sound regretful earlier, regarding the loss of magical blood when he called out to Harry. Harry was just so exhausted of loss surrounding him, leaving him more isolated year after year compared to his peers. He could die for those he loved. It was honorable.

Reaching the tree line, he kneeled, panting heavily as he collected his thoughts. His head swarmed with pain and anxiety, his mind flashing through thoughts of his chosen family and friends. His reservations built up in his gut, threating to spill out his eyes as he teared up. He hoped they could forgive him for dragging them though so much pain and destruction by simply knowing him. He hoped they could find happiness either under Voldemort’s reign or outside Europe.

His trembling right hand lifted to rest over his pounding chest, and he felt the pouch settled over his sternum. Reaching into the bag, he pulled out the shinning ball of gold. It glimmered mutely; the surrounding sounds of war dulled into a buzzing noise around him as he considered it closely. Harry must die, this had to end. I open at the close. Harry felt like he was losing his mind, coming to the realization that Dumbledore must have known this truth. Dumbledore didn’t intend for Harry to win this war; Harry must have needed to surrender at the right moment. He felt almost numb, that Dumbledore hadn’t really cared for him as he thought the old man had. Harry pressed his lips to the golden sphere, whispering “I am about to die.”

The snitch broke into two, and Harry grasped it into one palm carefully, bringing Draco’s wand up with his opposite hand and nudging the two halves apart, revealing a cool black stone. The resurrection stone sat upon his palm, the hallows engraved in the center. He understood that this must have been a consolation prize from Dumbledore. He wouldn’t really have his parents with him, but having them near would bring some sort of closure. Harry turned the stone thrice, green hues glancing around eagerly awaiting his parents and perhaps Sirius.

The first to appear was his father, then his mother and finally Sirius. It was crazy to think his parents were not much older than him at death, it felt oddly reassuring to see them so young and haunting. Sirius looked much more fit and youthful then when he passed, his ghostly eyes gleamed with happiness looking down at Harry. Apparently, they could see him through deaths cloak.  ‘’ you’ve been so brave.” His mother looked proud and hungry at his form, longing in her expression. He wished he could embrace her. “You are nearly there, we are so proud of you” Harry turned his face towards his father, he looked so much like Harry but wearing lopsided glasses.

“Does dying hurt?” Harry couldn’t shake the anxiety in his chest, the childish question parting from his lips. He craved reassurance, and the stone in his palm could feel it. Eager to bring death to its young master.

“Dying? Not at all. Quicker and easier then falling asleep” Sirius reassured quickly. “He wants it to be quick, over.”

“I didn’t want any of you to die. I don’t want anyone to die. This was my fight. I am so sorry.” Harry focused on Sirius; the stone warm in his palm. “I should have been more careful. You didn’t have to fall through the veil.”

“Its okay Harry. You will join us soon.” All three specters reassured, all their expressions loving. “We will be with you until the very end.”

Harry looked down at the stone, finding it a little odd his family was so eager to see him pass on. Perhaps there was more to this magic then he knew. Shrugging it off, he took a deep breath, lifting Draco’s wand ahead of him and murmuring Expectro Patronum. Allowing the warmth of his families love to distract from the growing numbness his impending death brought him. His stag shone bright and proudly, peering down at him expectantly.

“This message is for Tom Riddle. Tell him I am here. I wish to negotiate the terms of my death.” The stag nodded whisking away through the trees. Standing, Harry stretched out his sore muscles, facing the depth of the forest. Turning the stone in his palm, his family faded away, and he repocketed the stone and the snitch pieces into his pouch. Taking a wide step forward, he refitted the cloak to fit his body evenly, moving to greet death like an old friend.