I suppose in the music industry this would be called a bonus track. It's not really a chapter but a vision of sorts. In chapter thirteen and fourteen both Hermione and Harry recall the aftermath from the duel between Harry and Voldemort. There are only a few theories out there as to how Harry will defeat Voldemort and what will happen thereafter. I have two. The one I'm writing here is a theory that takes little risk and doesn't include all the hints given by Jo Rowling. My other theory is much more complex and would take much more to write. It also wouldn't allow for what happened in Human Condition.

If you're interested please read, if not then I can't force you to. It's just what Harry experienced, per Human Condition, after he killed Voldemort in the duel of the century.

Choosing Life

The blinding gold light followed by the burst of green confused Harry momentarily. For a brief second he blacked out. In a brief second he was standing, clutching his wand tightly as it was connected to Voldemort's beam, then he was on the ground. It was only a brief second.

Harry pushed himself up on his elbows so he could look across the room and hopefully glimpse his opponent.

The two of them had been battling relentlessly for ten minutes and after a time Harry became physically exhausted. No Death Eaters had been present, Dumbledore was nowhere to be found, and Harry made it impossible for Ron or Hermione to help. It was just the two of them, one on one. Ron and Hermione had gotten him this far, worked with him, encouraged him, inspired hope in his heart, but this was Harry's battle. Only Harry could defeat Voldemort. Only Harry had the power. He wouldn't have them risk their lives for his own.

A shiver of fear spiraled down Harry's spine as he tried to see Voldemort. Harry wasn't sure if he'd killed him or not. He thought perhaps he had, but he'd blacked out for a brief second after their wands connected.

Voldemort was lying flat on the floor and from here Harry couldn't tell if he was breathing or not. He pushed himself off the floor and walked slowly over to him.

It was hard to describe the emotion Harry felt as he saw Voldemort's body slowly decaying to ash. Relief wasn't a strong enough word to encapsulate everything Harry felt. Joy, happiness, pleasure, were too weak for the warmth, the easing in his soul.

It was all over. Voldemort was dead.

"NO!" cried a voice from Harry's left.

Harry whirled around and saw a man he didn't recognize. The man had gray hair, a handsome face, and a thin stature.

"NOO!" He yelled again, staring not at Harry but at Voldemort's form.

Harry walked toward him, thinking the man looked vaguely familiar.

The man heard Harry and turned toward him, his face mixed with vile hatred but also sadness. And Harry recognized him. Tom Riddle.

"You insolent fool!" Riddle screamed, advancing on Harry. "You destroyed me!" Riddle tried to grab Harry, tried to strangle him, but his hands passed through him. Knowing he'd failed, Riddle thought a full body attack might work, but he passed through Harry again. Harry turned around to watch when he saw something even more peculiar and more disturbing than anything he'd seen yet.

Himself. He saw himself, lying on the dark floor, eyes wide open, mouth parted, limbs spread. There was his shattered wand in his right hand smoke rising from its splinters. Harry shook his head. No, this was just a delusion. This wasn't real. Harry must've knocked his head on the floor when he blacked out. He wasn't dead. He couldn't be dead.

Riddle was also staring at Harry's body. Then he turned and grinned.

"I'm not alone here," he said wickedly. He cackled but Harry vaguely heard him. He walked to his body and kneeled down beside it. His green eyes, Lily's green eyes, once so full of life, were dull. They were open but they did not see.

"No," Harry mumbled, shaking his head. "This isn't real. This is a nightmare. This isn't real."

Riddle's laughter filled the desolate space. "Harry Potter, the boy who lived!" he screamed, mingling his delight with fury as his mirth rang out.

Harry stood and spun around. "SHUT UP!" he yelled, thinking of nothing better or appropriate to say. "SHUT UP!"

He ceased when Harry squint at a point behind Riddle. A darkness, darker than the shadow they were standing in, formed in mid air. Riddle turned slowly to see what Harry was so interested in.

Slowly the dark point grew and took a curious form. As it morphed, Harry felt a chilling, a biting cold nip at his…was it his skin? It couldn't be, he no longer had skin. It nipped at his soul. Harry was curious and watched the dark form take shape: an archway. A stone archway that was not veiled with a black curtain, but only black.

Off to the right of the archway another form evolved. This one shimmered, stirred, and grew bright. It seemed to be moving toward them rather than appearing like an apparition. Harry watched as this new form changed into a white being. A woman.

She wore robes of glowing white and radiating from her was a nimbus of gold. Her bare feet left no shadow on the ground as she walked, no sound as she stepped closer to them. Her face glowed, exuded warmth, showed love. Her emerald green eyes sparkled, and her dark red hair shimmered in the gold light that surrounded her.

Lily smiled at Harry but said nothing to him. He blinked in quick succession, thinking perhaps he was hallucinating it all, but she was still there. Her presence did something… made him feel… complete.

But she turned away from him to stare at Riddle. She didn't stare with hate, or anything Harry could describe. She simply stared.

Riddle's eyes were wide with enormous fear as he stared upon her. His expression led Harry to believe that he saw something horrendous, something gruesome and more evil than himself, rather than a radiant and beautiful woman standing before him.

"No," Riddle pleaded, though Lily had said nothing. "NO!"

Riddle fell soundlessly to the floor and futilely dug his fingernails into the ground. He was being dragged by some invisible force into the archway. His face contorted as he screamed. "NO! NO!"

Harry's chest rose and fell rapidly but he did not breathe. Riddle was in the archway now, but he was gripping the sides, trying to pull himself out. "NO!" he screamed, eyes wide with fear. "NOOO!"

In a moment Riddle was gone and heard no more.

The blackness inside the archway melted away and the black veil took it's place. Harry watched it wave until a door in the distant corner slowly opened to reveal Hermione. She ran but Harry knew something was wrong. Her movements were sluggish, but Harry saw that she was running as fast as she could. She was followed closely by Ron, who was also trapped in some kind of time warp.

"They'll miss you," Lily said in a rich pleasant voice.

Harry turned to her and watched her grin at him.

Harry tried to find his voice. "Am I… am I…d-dead?" Harry asked, his voice cracking.

Lily nodded and smiled sadly. "Yes."

Harry didn't believe her. He came about and watched as Hermione and Ron slid before Harry's body and shook him. He couldn't hear but he knew Hermione was sobbing. Her face was red, her eyes full of tears. Ron did nothing but stare down at Harry's body.

Harry shook, his soul quaked. "No," Harry whined, now crying himself.

"You gave your life to save them."

Harry looked back at her. "This can't be happening," he said hoarsely.

"You know it's true," she said. Her voice was so lovely, so full of unending love. "You were Voldemort's opposite. Only you could kill him and only he could kill you. He wanted your death so he could be invincible. You entered this duel knowing you'd have to give your life to stop him."

Now Hermione cradled Harry in her lap, rocking him like a baby, her tears cascading down on his face.

"Are you ready?" his mother asked as she extended her hand toward the archway. Harry turned toward it and was all at once amazed.

Just moments ago he felt a torrential freeze spilling from the stone arch. Now it was…

Harry stood and simply looked into its golden depths. A white curtain hung from the arch but it couldn't contain the brilliant bright golden light that beamed from inside.

A splendid warmth spread all over him. He closed his eyes so he could feel it without seeing. It was wonderful. All he could feel was warmth; a deep, spectacular heat that seemed to radiate from inside him rather than from the archway. He was drawn to it, drawn to the bliss that lay beyond that white veil.

"Can you feel it, Harry?" Lily asked from his side. "Can you feel all of it?"

Though his eyes were closed, a few tears dripped down his face. "Yes," he whispered, smiling as he got closer to the archway. Through his lids he could see the light, he could feel everything… peace. He could feel peace!

He extended his hand and touched the veil. He knew now what lay beyond. It was everything wonderful. Touching that veil he felt it all. Love, peace, bliss. It was just beyond the curtain, ready for him to touch, to dive into. If his heart were still beating inside him it would've raced with excitement, eager to go on.

"HARRY!" he heard Hermione scream in anguish.

Harry opened his eyes and turned back. "Harry no!" Hermione sobbed, rocking him back and forth, her shaking hands in his hair.

"They love you," Lily said. "She would've done what I did—given her life for you. So would he, if given the chance."

Harry frowned in confusion. "What's going on?" he asked.

Lily stood beside him. "A sacrifice like this is given a choice."

"Choice?" he repeated. "I don't get it."

"You had purpose, meaning, and you fulfilled your destiny and duty. Self-sacrifice for the world is given a choice. You died to save, not only Ron and Hermione, but all of them. You get to chose."

Harry watched as Dumbledore ran into the room to tend to Harry.

"What? What do I get to chose?" Harry asked, looking down at her.

"Life or death," she said.

Harry frowned and turned back to her, the place beyond in the corner of one eye, Ron and Hermione in the corner of the other. "You mean if I wanted I could go back?"

Lily nodded.

"As a ghost?"

"No. You can go back, as if you'd never died. You can live again."

Harry looked at Hermione and Ron. Time had slowed down again; their movements were sluggish.

"This choice is given very rarely, but it is given. If you wish you can keep living from this point forward." Lily smiled as she looked up at him. "It's not an easy choice for you, is it?" she asked. "In life you suffered. In death there's peace."

Harry circled around to the archway again. Just standing her he could feel how wonderful it was. He'd heard it called many things: Heaven, Nirvana, Elysium. It was more than what he'd heard, more than he imagined. It was everything astounding.

"Well for some there's peace," Lily said. "Voldemort isn't there. He'll suffer for eternity like millions of others. Only the good and the selfless can enter here."

Harry twist away from it and watched Ron and Hermione. "So I can choose? I can go back and live, be with them, or I could go on and be with you?"

Lily smiled. "With me, with Sirius, with everyone who has loved you and everyone else who will love you. But Harry," she said gently, "death will always be there."

Harry kept turning his head to the archway then back to Hermione and Ron. Yes it was a hard decision, and she was right: death would always be there. But did he want to wait for it again?

"Do you know if Ron or Hermione---"

"In time they will join the rest of us. They will go like everyone else who is good, into the Place after life."

"And if I chose to stay behind now, does that mean I have to stay there forever?" he asked. If that was the case then his mind was made. Death offered more than eternity on earth.

"No," she replied. "When you die again you will be greeted and welcomed. Next time there will be no choice. You will join us."

Harry had to make it very clear. "If I choose death now, I can never go back?"

"Never."

"But if I choose life now, I can still go to heaven?" he asked, still unsure as to which choice he would make.

"Yes. You will still go to heaven."

Harry was torn. Beyond that veil was bliss. Life held Hermione and Ron.

"Do you know what I'll choose?" he asked her, tears blurring his vision of her radiance.

"Yes, but I can't tell you. What I can tell you is this: you have experienced so much turmoil and have only glimpsed life's joys. When I died I knew I had experienced everything worth living for. I had no regrets. I had done something, experienced earthly bliss that you haven't. And I'm not talking about sex, Harry," she said with half a smile. "I'm talking about something far greater. But," she said, turning her head toward Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore and now Lupin, "with life's joy comes pain. There is no pain in death." She looked back at him with seriousness. "So what will you choose?"

Looking at Ron and Hermione Harry, could feel heaven behind him, beckoning him, welcoming him, wrapping around him like a warm blanket.

"If I go back," he said shakily, "what will my second death be like?" he asked. "Will I outlive them? Will it be p-painful? Do I have to watch them die?" He wiped the tears from his face.

Lily's face remained passive. "I can't say. Choose soon Harry."

Harry walked away from the archway but could still feel its pleasant heat. The anguish on Hermione's face pained him. Ron was lost. Dumbledore was trying to revive Harry and Lupin was rocking back and forth.

Harry looked at Lily, tears in his eyes. "I want to go back."

A tear sparkled in her eye. She nodded.

In an instant she and the archway vanished, with it the warmth and harmony disappeared. Harry's eyes could see Hermione looking down on him, shedding her hot tears onto his cold face. The freezing floor sent shivers down his spine.

He blinked and coughed.

Dumbledore, Ron, and Hermione froze as they looked down at him.

Harry's teeth chattered as the cold stone floor absorbed his returning body heat. He tried sitting up to look where the archway had been, but Hermione tackled him as she sobbed into his shoulder. She said his name over and over in his ear, but Harry didn't call to her. He stared, stared where heaven had been.

He was partially aware that Ron, Dumbledore, and Lupin were talking at him, all three of them weeping. Harry couldn't listen, he couldn't hear them.

His skin tingled from the cold, but Harry tried to recapture that feeling, that presence heaven had offered. He wanted to remember how it felt, that all encapsulating warmth that radiated from him… But it was gone.

"Harry," Hermione said, looking into his eyes. Her face was soaked in tears, her eyes bloodshot, her hair in disarray. "Are you…" she was close to hyperventilating, "are you all right?"

Harry's head lolled back and everyone made very loud hush sounds. Dumbledore shuffled over and took his head in his hands. "Harry?" he said, sounding worried.

Harry's eyes fluttered and he felt very light-headed and thought he might pass out. Lupin bent down and started to examine Harry.

"Harry can you hear us?" Dumbledore asked, looking intently into his eyes.

Harry moved his lips but no sound escaped.

"He needs to go to the hospital," Lupin said, sounding relieved but still anxious.

No one moved—all eyes were still on Harry. Harry wanted to say something so they knew he was all right. He tried to get his lips around a word, any word, so they knew he hadn't lost his mind.

"D-dead," he said.

Hermione grabbed a hand and squeezed it. "He's dead, Harry," she said as she tried to smile. "Voldemort's gone."

No, she didn't understand. That wasn't what he wanted to tell them. He wanted to sit up, to get off this freezing floor of the world, but was still to lightheaded and weak. In his attempts, his eyes rolled back, his body became limp, and he passed out.

o-o-o-o-o

It was warm again. Harry was curled up in it, wrapped in warmth… but he knew it was superficial. It was only a blanket.

He opened his eyes and saw that he was in a strange and very dark room. He pulled the thick blanket up to his chin as he stared. There was a door only a few meters away. He saw through the window a few blurry shapes of people, and heard their mumbling voices. He rolled over onto his other side and glimpsed a large window. It was night out but flickering light disrupted the darkness.

Harry squint and recognized the multicolored flashes. Fireworks.

Harry reached for his glasses and slipped them on, then, gathering the blanket around him, he eased off the bed he'd laid on, and ambled over to the window to get a better look.

He was up in the air, perhaps on the third or fourth story of this building. Down below him were hundreds if not thousands of people. When more fireworks burst in the air and illuminated the sky with brilliant colors, Harry saw a few of their faces. Some cried, some laughed, some did both, and many cheered and embraced one another.

There were banners flapping in the summer wind. Each one of them had "Harry Potter" written on them, with several praises of thanks under or above his shining name.

Harry's chest constricted as his eyes filled with tears.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

Note on Human Condition:

I ended this story with a beginning. I left everything open should I, further down the road, wish to continue on this. I will never write a sequel. Human Condition is a stand alone story and Leucosia is dead. A sequel requires continuity of a plot and they're cannot be one now that the main villain has perished. What I might do is write another story based on the same universe: Harry has a daughter, Hermione is dating Jacob Verit, Ron is at Auror Training, etc. But there would be an entirely new villain with new goals and ambitions. Also I'd make it a him rather than a her. I've actually already thought of him. I like him more than Leucosia.

Will I write more with this universe? I'm not sure. I'll play it by ear. If I did here's what you could expect: no Ashika Narayan (she annoys me now. Woman talks too much.), more Vanessa, plenty of Vampire Slayers, much more Ron and Hermione, not nearly as much angst (!) but much more happiness, romance but not fluff (Harry's not a real fluffy kind of guy), a new position at the Ministry of Magic Arthur thought of by reading Ian Fleming's James Bond, and more humor. See, I have plenty of plot bunnies (Hence the absence of an epilogue.)

I'm writing my own story now, an original piece, and I'm thinking of calling it "The Life of Jaden Baker." That's a working title. It's a little allegorical, very angsty, a lot of psychology, physics (I love physics), and evil scientists, and a really cool character named Seth, formally known as Orin. If you want to know more about it, check out my livejournal. I'll want to take a break from it which is where the fan fiction would come in. If there is one. I'm not sure I'll write it.

I hope you enjoyed The Human Condition as much as I did. Over the next few weeks I'll be writing the second edition (ha ha) by revisiting the chapters and cleaning them up a bit. It's been over a year since I wrote the beginning chapters and I think that's a sufficient amount of time to let them simmer, don't you? Nothing will change it'll just get a bit cleaner. Chapters eight, nine, ten, eleven, and twelve need a face lift, ten especially. Eventually I'll get around to it and possible write it all over again.

Thanks to all of you for reading it, giving me great praise, or not. The critical bits made me laugh, though, I must say. I took a few seriously, those with a good delivery, but laughed at most. Some of those remarks, whether cruel or not, made me feel as if this story was more than a fan fiction, as some people held very high expectations of it. So, if you're out there and you wanted to insult me, you didn't. Telling my something so outlandish and nit-picky made me glad that was all you could find to pick at.

Oh, and about Narayan. If you ever wondered how she was the only one who knew about the "mind melding thing" it's because she put herself into that same coma after she saw her two year old son killed in a crossfire between wizards. This all happened about two hundred years ago. I've known this for a while, even back in Marauder Chronicles. There's a section where Ashika nearly cries when she watches/spies on Lily with little Harry. There was just never an appropriate time for me to insert this information. Ashika looks so young, around thirty-two, because her body stopped aging in order to trap itself in the bliss she had with her son and husband. After she lost her baby boy, her husband committed suicide out of grief and she swore to spend eternity fighting evil wizards.

Thank you all again,

ck