•Sixth Degree - Hurt •
"I hurt myself today, to see if I still feel pain" Trent Reznor, as sung by Johnny Cash

Oh, Sirius, I finally did it. I finally beat that bastard. I beat him with my bear hands. I tried to let all my anger out on him. That didn't work. I could only beat him with love. Love for you. Love for Mum. Love for Dad. Love for every single person that has ever been lost to me because they simply care about me.

Oh, sorry, almost blew up your painting. I guess I have finally become what I needed to become in order to beat him. An emotionless void. For if I have any emotions whatsoever, something stands a great chance of blowing up. I guess that's what I have to reap for increasing my magical power so quickly without putting any temper on it.

Wait; there are still a few emotions that I can have: happiness and love. Ironic isn't it? The two emotions that I feel as if I can no longer feel, and they are the ones that I am allowed to feel. This world...God Sirius, I don't know if I can do this any longer. Voldemort is still gone, and I still feel his weight crushing down on my shoulders. The others have been trying to help, you would be proud of Tonks. She really has served as a great inspiration, and is really great about making sure I don't go to far one way or the other, keeping me level. I know she thinks of me like the younger brother she never had, and I agree, she is like the sister I never had.

All because of Voldemort.

That man screwed up my life so badly Sirius. Not just mine, but everyone involved in it. I wish I could say that I used this as a so called 'learning experience,' but what can I learn from it? Never to love, because it will just bring you pain in the end? Yes, I can hear your voice right now, so you can stop it. I'm starting to sound a lot like Moody. That man is the face of every single person that has suffered for the wizarding world, and for so many years they just ignored his legacy, didn't even realize what he was doing for them. Simply because he refused to feel emotions. It's necessary if you want to be as effective as he was...but at what price? I know he doesn't want me to end up like him, but what choice do I have at this point?

I can't keep going on like I am right now for the rest of eternity. Susan has certainly helped me a lot. She...I don't know how to describe her without saying that she's my own personal savior. In those final weeks before my final confrontation with the devil incarnate, she helped make sure I didn't collapse under the strain. I don't know why she doubts herself; she is one of the single most well rounded people that I've ever met. She's well versed in both the magical and muggle world's cultures, and has an understanding for magic itself that I envy. She's everything that I once hoped Hermione could be. Hermione has been my anchor since we became friends. The one true constant that was in this world. Hermione though...she has some problems that she needs some help with. She doesn't seem to know that just because you know how to do something, doesn't exactly mean you can do it. She's also incredibly naive, but I digress. I worry greatly about her, because she could really do great things in this world.

Looking over at your picture Sirius, I can't help but think of the end of my third year, when I first truly met you. The first time I truly felt that I could possibly have a home. Now...now I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm going into Auror training in a few months, graduated rate of course, seeing I did defeat that bastard. But from there? I don't know...I don't even know who I am anymore. Voldemort, as strange as it sounds, was my life. He made me live, to defeat him. What do I do now? God dammit Sirius, I wish you were hear right now. What am I to become?

"How are you feeling child?" Dumbledore doesn't exactly startle me any more with his appearance. With my magical training, I can tell you right now that Seamus is trying to sneak firewhiskey into the party...and he hasn't left his house yet. Yeah, another great side effect from that magical overload. God help me Sirius...

"Every day goes by, and I still think of him everyday," I tell him, being entirely truthful. I've found that it's easier to work with the man if you don't leave things out, "Some days are okay, while other days are pretty effing far from okay."

He doesn't respond, as he feels that I want to go on. He's right, "I know that I should be happy that I finally got rid of Voldemort, and that the wizarding world can go back to some semblance of normalcy."

I take a breath, still not facing the man. I don't think I could at this point, "But I can't help but think of the price that has been extolled for this peace. I know it seems selfish, but I can't help but think of why I had to be the one to grow up without parents, had to see some of my best friends die around me, and have to be the one that defeats the greatest evil."

Dumbledore places his arm around my shoulders, and while it is a comforting gesture, something that makes it seem like he is accepting me, I still can't face him. What right do I have?

"Harry, I once had a friend that met the love of his life at the age of nineteen," Dumbledore begins to say in a tone of voice that signifies that I should listen very carefully to this story, "They were married, and had five lovely children. For over fifty years they were happily married and one evening the whole family, including all of the grandchildren were to have dinner at his home. Even though it was such a dark time to be living in with the threat of Grindewald hanging over every wizard's and witch's head. On his way home...he was a bit delayed due to matter concerning work. When he got home he...well..."

Now I'm looking at him. He's pinching the bridge of his nose. You're not talking about a friend here are you Professor?

"What happened Professor?" I ask with, I admit, a touch of fear in my voice. This seems to be a very touchy subject.

"He found...he found that his house had been caught in the fire bombings of the Nazis, and his wife and all of his grandchildren had been killed," the tears are threatening to come out. I never knew this about you before Professor, "In the end, even though he was working very openly against Grindewald, it wasn't him or his evil followers...it was an evil muggle. For months he wandered around aimlessly, wondering if it was even worth continuing to fight Grindewald because in the end what would it matter? He would have to pay a price either way...then he realized that of all the people that should have a reason to stand up against evil, he was the one who had the most reason too."

He takes a small pause, as if what he is saying is too difficult for him to continue. I decide to try to prompt him; I need to know what happened, "What happened to you-er...your friend, sir?"

"He fought back, and eventually conquered his demons, and did all he could to help stop evil until the day came along in which he was sure he wasn't needed anymore," he says with a sigh. Dumbledore...he lost his entire family to that fire and he still went fought. Until...wait. What?

"What do you mean sir?" I ask.

"What I mean Harry is that I finally feel as if I can step back for there is finally someone who can truly continue fighting the good fight with as much passion, and for the right reasons, as I feel that I had," he tells me looking right in my eyes, his sign for totally trusting me. Is he really doing what I think he is? The smile on his face seems to indicate...

"I...see, sir," I reply, offering a similar smile. Now I understand why the man has that twinkle in his eyes.

"Now, now, Harry, you've certainly earned the right to call me by my name," he says with a slight laugh, "Use it son."

"Of course Albus," I reply, when I suddenly think of something that Albus once said...about a fate worse than death. Grabbing his hand before he walks away, he turns to look at me.


"Sir, you once told Tom that there are things worse in life than death...I think I finally realized what you were talking about," I look down for a moment, before looking back up, with a twinkle in my eye I'm sure, "Thank you for sharing that with me...it has helped me in more ways than you can possibly know."

"Of course my boy," he says with a smile on his face, passing by Susan on his way. I just look after Albus with a quirky smile on my face before looking at Susan, who is looking at me with an odd look on her face.

"What?" I ask, turning my head to the side slightly.

"You just seem...different somehow," she says, thinking, "A lot like...Dumbledore."

"I guess I feel a lot like him now," I reply as Moody walks past us to survey the paintings of the war dead. Wrapping my arm around Susan's waist, I turn back to look at Sirius' painting, "Sirius, I don't think I've ever formally introduced you to this girl right here. Sirius, this is Susan Bones, one of the best witches on the face of the earth, who is one day going to change the world."

"Harry," Susan says with a slightly scolding, slightly laughing tone. I laugh too, turning around to see the Weasley's coming out of the fireplace. I give Ron a nod, before he looks around the room, and seemingly not being able to find who he was looking for, starts to walk through the door. When he does this, I see Hermione for the first time this evening, coming out of the corner and walking after Ron.

"Do you think she finally figured it out?" Susan asks me, harking back to a discussion we had once about Hermione.

"I sure hope she did Potter, Bones," comes the voice of Moody, acknowledging us, and then patting me on the back, "Let me know when you have a free night Potter. There are some things I want to show you."

"Of course sir," I say, then turning back to Susan I ask, "Is your Auntie here yet?"

"No, not yet," she says with a certain amount of a downcast tone in her voice.

"Let's go wait then," I reply, and we both start walking over to the fireplace, the whole time with Susan giving me odd looks.

"What?" I ask, with a small laugh, "Is there something on my face?"

"I don't know...wait," she says, looking into my eyes, "There's a certain twinkle in your eyes that I don't think I've ever seen."

"I guess there is," I reply with a small grin, before scanning the room for Albus, who apparently has already left.

Now I understand.