Dear Ron and Hermione,
I'm not quite sure what to say. I mean, it's not everyday you write to tell your best friends that you're leaving, and for good. Well, I say leaving. I mean dying.
Right. Just...keep reading, all right? I just want you to understand why.
It's not your fault. You two...I would've done this a long time ago, if it weren't for you two. Really, the only reason I bothered fighting Voldemort was because I knew you'd both end up dead if I didn't. But that's over and done with, now.
You know, I've been waiting for this a long time. Since the end of my fifth year, actually. But first I had to defeat Voldemort, and then you two announced you were getting married- and I couldn't leave after that, not so soon before the wedding, and besides, you wanted me to be Best Man. And then you told me that you were going to have a kid, and I wasn't about to do anything to spoil Helen's birth. Then you asked me to be godfather, and a godfather should be there for his godchild, right?
So I put it off and put it off and I pretended to live- and I'm a decent actor when I want to be, so don't think you should have seen the signs. I made sure you wouldn't.
For a while, it was good enough, having you all as my surrogate family. You and Helen, then Danny came along, then James... You brightened everything, so I wasn't quite so lost anymore.
I waited until the kids were old enough to understand- even little James is fourteen, almost fifteen, right? My present'll come on time, no worries.
They're strong, and they'll get on fine without their weird Uncle Harry around. Tell them I'm sorry, will you, and that I love them all. That I wish I could have been a better godfather.
It just hurts, you know? I've felt so empty inside, ever since Cedric, really. It only got worse when Sirius died, and then everything went tumbling out of control, and pretty soon not even flying helped.
Remember how everyone used to call me the Boy Who Lived, before I won? Of course you remember- you're only in your forties, you aren't senile yet. I don't know...my mind isn't working very well at the moment. I think I might be a bit frightened. That's funny- I haven't been afraid of death, not since I can remember. Maybe I'm not as Gryffindor as I thought.
Anyway, what I'm trying to say is that the Lived bit is right. I lived, but I'm not living, and I haven't been since my parents died. It's like I'm running but not getting anywhere- going nowhere fast, though other times it seems to slow...
I have nothing left, nothing but you, and I think I'm too damaged where it counts for that to be enough. I don't know. I don't know anything anymore.
This is why I never married Ginny, you know. What if I'd had kids? I knew I'd still have to leave sometime, and I wouldn't hurt Ginny like that, or any family we might have had. She's happy now, happier than she would have been with me. She deserves- well, she deserves a lot more than someone like me.
Tell her I'm sorry. Tell her I wish I could have been a better boyfriend, a better lover. And tell Anthony that he'd better take care of her, or I'll haunt him for the rest of his natural life, and possibly beyond.
I wonder if I'll come back a ghost. I don't want to. I just...I want to see my parents again, you know? And Sirius. And the twins- they were the only ones who could make me smile after Sirius died, and I miss that. I miss being able to laugh.
Dumbledore told me, once, that death is just the next great adventure, or something like that. And we all know I'm the adventuresome type.
You know, I always wanted to go quietly- maybe slip into a lake somewhere and not come up for breath. But I've been thinking about it recently, and I don't want to go quiet. I want to make people look, make people see what I am, what I've done. I want them to see I'm just a man, just like them. Nothing more, and nothing less. I want to go out with a bang, something no one will ever forget.
Merlin. I don't know what I want. I just don't know anything, and I'm sick of being confused.
I think I'll miss you when I'm gone, wherever it is that I go. I really think I will.
"Uncle Harry? What are you doing here?"
Harry smiled crookedly at James, though the smile didn't reach his eyes. James wasn't surprised- he'd only seen Uncle Harry give a true smile once or twice before.
But there was something else off about his parents' best friend- he looked more rumpled than normal, a little too pale, and he was clutching shreds of parchment in his hands.
"James," the Uncle Harry greeted him quietly, and James got the impression that the man was a centimeter from...well, something. Snapping, maybe. Losing control. "I need to speak with your parents."
The boy nodded, concerned but trying to hide it. Uncle Harry always seemed so strong- it wasn't right to see him like this, as if he were a bruise away from breaking. "Yeah, come on in. They're in the study; Dad's helping Mum with that placement charm she's been working on."
Harry nodded distantly, absently ruffling James' hair. "Right. Good."
He made his way to the study, his mind so busy it felt blank. For once, he completely ignored the portraits lining the hallway, too lost in himself to chat.
The door was open a crack, so he didn't bother knocking, just pushed it the rest of the way open and stepped through.
Bookshelves lined all four walls, and all of them were full to overflowing. The carpet was worn and less than pristine, and the lighting was as bad as that of the Hogwarts dungeons. Hermione was at her desk, scribbling furiously on a scrap of paper- she preferred muggle paper, said it was easier to work with- as Ron watched her fondly from the sofa. Neither noticed he was there, not at first.
He cleared his throat.
"Harry!" Ron said with a wide grin, jumping up and striding over to thump the last Potter affectionately on the back.
"What're you here for?" Hermione asked, a little irritated to be pulled from her research.
Harry drew a deep breath, wavering. This...if he did this, there was no going back.
But life was about choices, wasn't it? And Harry was sick of dying.
"I...there's something I need to tell you," he said, his voice cracking. "Something I've been wanting to tell you for years." And for the first time in years, as Hermione and Ron both led him to the sofa, looking terribly concerned, Harry didn't feel quite so empty.
He wouldn't go gentle.
He wouldn't go at all.