Author's Notes: In all honesty, there were going to be more letters. But I've simply lost my inspiration for this story—and anyway, how many times over can you say the same thing without repeating yourself?
Thank you to everyone who's reviewed!
And another one bites the dust. ;)
The sun was setting, sucking the last of the natural light from Hogwarts' grounds. Harry watched the darkness spread, devouring the grass and sliding up the trees. He Could almost feel Voldemort's eyes on him, separated though they were by the Forbidden Forest and its creatures.
A stack of letters lay behind him, envelopes disregarded, parchment strewn hastily as the pages of each mixed and mingled and merged. His cheeks were damp, but not wet; though his fingers trembled his wand stayed firm inside them. He sat alone, eyes sweeping in the world—its red-tipped mountains, silent breezes, and stone-stilled courtyards filled with the tired and the hungry and the injured.
Hedwig hooted once, nipping gently at her master's sleeve. He hesitated for a moment, then nodded once and tied a bit of parchment to her leg.
She took off into the night and he stood, watching her go, bathing in the growing moonlight. He gathered the letters at his feet and tucked them into his shirt pocket, eyes fluttering closed for an instant as he toyed with the wand in his hand.
He moved slowly but without hesitation, passing through the halls of the castle and walking towards the wood with calm determination.
He could feel Voldemort pressing closer, reaching, clawing, dragging him into a fight he's never wanted and hardly deserved. It was time, at long last, to finish. The end was drawing near and Harry watched it come.
The gentle weight of parchment seemed to lift him, to remind him of the years before and the sunlight of that morning and the laughter he's missed.
It was hard to be scared, just then.
Hedwig landed softly, hooting twice until someone paid her any attention. Hermione untied the parchment on her claw and began to read aloud.
I'm sorry that I had to clump you all together. You each deserve your own letter, your own book of things that I am grateful for. I cannot describe how many times you have saved my life; from Voldemort, yes, but more than that. From loneliness—from fear—from doubt—from boredom—from the Dursleys—from despair—from myself.
Do you understand?
I love you all. I don't say it enough—I have never said it enough, I could never say it enough. It is you that I fight for today, and you that I bleed for, and you—perhaps—that I die for.
I do it willingly.
I know I'm not the best with words. In my wildest dreams I couldn't describe what you mean to me. (Although, admittedly, my wildest dreams aren't exactly filled with goodbye letters but rather endless supplies of Sugar Quills and Quidditch World Cups and Gin—and girls.)
There are so many things I wish that I could say. I wish that I could tell you. Ron, you are my best friend. I have never known someone as loyal or hilarious or easy-going. You have always been the one that knows how to cheer me up, and stuck by my side even at my git-iest moments. (Also, you scream like a girl.)
Hermione, you know I would not have made it through Hogwarts (or life) without you. I mean that. Beyond the fact that you are infinitely smarter than I am, you have always been there to clean up my messes and smack me over the head when I needed to be smacked. You are the sister I never had and didn't realize I wanted—needed— until I met you.
Ginny, I can see that there has been a severe case of miscommunication between us. You say you've made yourself obvious; I say that you clearly underestimate my thickness. You are beautiful funny and fierce and wonderful and I will never forget you. If this had been a different life, I would have worked very hard to make sure you had a key part in it, do you understand?
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, you are the only parents I have ever known. You have been the best family any bloke could ask for and I am so grateful you've put up with me all these years. Where would I be without your cooking, Mrs. Weasley? Eighty pounds scrawnier, that's for sure.
Remus, you say my parents would have been proud of me. Do you not know that they would be proud of you? You are the kindest, gentlest, most deserving soul I've ever met. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Fred & George: in the event of disaster, I've left you a significant sum of money for your gift shop. All I ask is you name something after me—something absolutely tasteless and that would make even Voldemort wince.
McGonagall—believe it or not, your countless scoldings have taught me something. You have always been the one to treat me just like every other student, and for that I thank you. You've had to put up with a lot from me and you've never given up. I can't explain how much that means.
Without you all, I am less than nothing. Thank you for being a part of my life.
I will see you in a couple hours. After all, what can go wrong?
All my love—all of it.
And though at the last he was unaccompanied—though only two wands were active when the final words were said—though only the trees and the moss and the endless midnight sky bore witness to history—Harry Potter was not, nor had he ever been, alone.
The magic was bright and colorful and collapsed in on itself, taking with it a heart and a soul and a scar.
The held a funeral.
It was controversial, at first—no one wanted an upset or a problem or to disrespect. But it was important, they decided, to put him—andit and them—to rest.
No kind words were said—no pity was shed—no eyes leaked tears. But his body burned and his ashes scattered into the stars, punctuating the end of every constellation.
Not many came, and no one expected them to. Ron did not come, and Hermione stayed away. Only Ginny (who needed to see it, needed to understand that he was really and truly gone), and Remus (who'd lost so much and hadn't thought there was anything left to lose), and McGonagall (for he had been, after all, a just boy).
And Harry. Harry came too, to watch his greatest adversary burn into harmless, weightless ash that might settle on his clothes but could so easily be washed away.
They walked back in a silence broken only by the soft, relieved twittering of birds.