So this was how it would end. Harry had never thought he would live long, not with a Dark Lord out to kill him and the British Wizarding World in full out civil war, but somehow he had expected that he would go out fighting. Not like this. What was it Snape had said in the memory he’d been given? Ah, yes… raised like a pig for slaughter. How depressingly true. The headmaster had manipulated him from start to finish. Raised and guided him to this ultimate goal of sacrificing himself. It was all so very clear now that he looked back at it with a more critical eye. Being placed with abusive Muggles, not being told about his magic until he turned eleven, forced through trial after trial every school year. It was a miracle that he made it to the end of the line with the way Dumbledore had gambled with his life.
Harry took a deep, shuddering breath, the crisp and cold night air filling his lungs. There was no point in thinking about the shitshow that was his life, he scolded himself. He had a job to do, he had to…to… well he had to die. Easy peasy right?
The Resurrection Stone hummed strangely in his hand, almost like it had a will of its own. It felt cold against his skin, but not uncomfortably so. It was almost comforting in a way. He looked down at the black Stone, gently rubbing his thumb over the crack that had formed when the headmaster destroyed the Horcrux that resided within the Gaunt ring. There was an odd urge that seemed to push him towards turning the stone. Once, twice, thrice it rotated in his hand, movement being guided by the Stone itself, as if it wanted to be turned. He honestly hadn’t expected anything to happen, but then silvery mist started to form around him. The mist slowly took form, shaping itself into something more human. The view that greeted him just a few seconds later almost knocked the breath out of him. Harry swallowed heavily, tears filling his eyes as he looked onto the forms of his parents.
“M-mum? Dad?” Harry couldn’t believe his eyes, they looked so real, much more solid than the ghosts back at the castle. If it hadn’t been for their washed out colours they would almost have looked alive. Maybe, he thought, maybe he wouldn’t have to face death entirely alone. He knew what he had to do but it didn’t make it any easier.
“Oh Harry, my sweet, sweet boy.” Lily looked at him with a frail smile and teary eyes. She reached out for him, as if she was going to hug him, before realising that the act would be pointless as she wasn’t more than a spirit at the moment. Her arms fell back down to her sides. Harry wished for nothing more than being able to hug her back, he wanted his parents, to have a happy, normal life. But that had never been in the cards for him.
“I- I…” Harry had to wet his lips and swallow away the uncomfortable lump in his throat. He wanted to tell them how much he missed them both, but did he really? He couldn’t remember them, what he really missed was the idea of them. It still hurt though, and the longing was real. The closer he looked at the smiling couple, the more it hit him just how young they had been. An ugly voice inside his head piped up, saying how selfish they had been, having a child in the middle of a war. He smothered those traitorous thoughts and clenched his fist around the Stone, the cold humming, almost like a heartbeat, soothing him.
“We’re so proud of you.” James, his dad, said. They seemed to be grasping each other’s hands for comfort. He said they were proud, but Harry couldn’t really think what of. Was it being manipulated so easily? Letting the public push him around like a meek dog? Or maybe it was allowing himself to have no self preservation in the hopes that he would fit the Wizarding World's opinion of the hero he should be. He certainly didn’t feel like there was anything to be proud of.
“You’ve grown so big.” His mother’s gentle voice brought him out of his musings and he offered her a strained smile. It wasn’t their fault that his life was the way it was, not entirely. Sure they should have taken better precautions, or maybe even have waited until after the war to have a child, but they couldn’t have known that Dumbledore would place him with Petunia, nor that Voldemort would be so determined to fuck up his life. He didn’t know what to say to them. So many times had he imagined what meeting his parents would be like, but now that they were actually here, in a fashion, he was speechless. Did it really matter though? He would soon die and join with them in the afterlife, surely they’d be able to reconnect then?
“Will you stay with me? Until… Until I-“ he couldn’t finish the sentence, the words choking him. Thankfully the meaning was obvious.
“Of course sweetheart.” Lily reassured him.
“Until the very end” James confirmed with a nod. His oval glasses slipping on the bridge of his nose, almost falling off with the movement. He didn’t straighten them. It made him look oddly boyish, like someone who was way too young to be a parent.
“Thank you… Well,“ Harry bit his bottom lip, the nerves making his gut churn. He felt a bit like throwing up despite not having eaten in quite a while.
“I guess this is it then. “ He straightened his back and raised the hood of his Invisibility Cloak until it covered him completely. A thought suddenly struck him, if he could see his parents, maybe Voldemort would be able to as well…
“Will anyone else be able to see you?” He frowned, worrying about the outcome if that was true.
Lily shook her head, red hair fanning about her. “No. You are the only one, and long as you touch the stone we will be here.” Her eyes showed only warmth and love for him, and something seemed to settle inside of Harry. He could do this.
With one final deep breath he began his walk to the heart of the Forbidden Forest, his parents’ spirits keeping the Dementors and their chill at bay. The walk itself was incredibly uneventful. Not a soul could be seen, and the shadows of the forest, cast by the moonlight, seemed darker and more eerie than normal. Not to mention how quiet it was, too quiet. He dared not speak to his parents again in case he alerted someone to his presence. Not yet, not until he was ready. He hoped Voldemort would kill him quickly, surely he must want to end this as well, to beat his arch nemesis straight away now that he had him where he wanted him.
The glade where he would meet his end came about much faster than expected. He felt numb and resigned to the fact that he would die. He didn’t want to, of course he didn’t, he had barely had a chance to live after all. But maybe, just maybe, this was for the better. He would be free in a way, and that was awfully tempting. Getting to be with his loved ones was a surprisingly nice thought.
Voldemort was there in all his pasty white glory, looking like a monster more than a human. Harry wondered if it was the Horcruxes that had caused Voldemort to slowly lose his looks and mind, spiralling into madness the more of them he created. The version of Tom Riddle he met in the Diary came to mind. He had been handsome and charismatic, someone who could have easily become minister if he wanted to. If Tom hadn’t created the Horcruxes, would the war have even happened? Surely the extermination of Muggleborns couldn’t have been one of his original goals, he was a Half-Blood himself. Harry’s thoughts wandered as he looked at the creature he had been tasked in vanquishing, still hiding his presence under his trusty Cloak.
“I thought he would come,” Voldemort’s voice popped the bubble that was Harry’s musing thoughts.
“I was, it seems… mistaken,” Voldemort continued, red eyes pensively looking at the Elder Wand in his hand.
This was it. End of the line. Harry let the Invisibility Cloak fall, rendering him visible to everyone gathered in the clearing. His heart thudded wildly in his chest, like a bird desperately flapping its wings.
“No, you weren’t” Harry said, glad that his voice managed to remain fairly even. His sole focus was directed at Voldemort, ignoring the ruckus of gloating voices courtesy of the Death Eaters jeering at him. He briefly noticed Hagrid crying out to him but it didn’t matter, nothing but Voldemort did.
He was ready.
“Come to die.”
The familiar green light shot out of the Elder Wand, aiming true for his chest. Harry didn’t move. He closed his eyes and let the spell wash over him, greeting death with a smile.