Note: This is my first Hagrid fic and it's for my roommate kateydidnt. She and I read Deathly Hallows together and she's been giving me inspiration long before and ever since. Thanks to her for this unavoidable challenge.

000

I remember the first time I held Harry. Scared Lily half to death that I'd squash him or summat. James, always the one to take chances, told her I was no harm at all. Great man, that. He'd've made friends with a manticore if he had the chance, just like me and Dumbledore. Well, what could you expect from a bloke who ran about with a werewolf.

He made a lot of noise, Harry did. Squalling his red little head off until he figured out I meant him no harm. That was soon as I let him see my face. Most kids, they take one look at that soup-catcher of mine and think I'm some kind of monster. Harry thought it was funny. Even tried to eat it at one point that night.

He was just shy of two months old then and it was the last time I saw Lily and James before You-Know-Who got to them. 'Twasn't right, him having to stay indoors all day. I expect it made him just as angry as his Dad, but there wasn't any way around that. 'Sides, James and Lily probably made it worth it to him. They'd spent a fair few months trying to keep You-Know-Who at bay and were scared of what the world they'd give their baby would be like. Sometimes, I think that's why they fought the war that hard. They would have given anything to see that nightmare end.

And then, not a year later, they did. They stood between Harry and death and won the upper hand. Harry got to live in a world where he didn't even know about You-Know-Who. I think Lily and James liked it that way, even if they had to leave him to make it happen.

I got to hold him again that night, though it weren't the way I wanted it. I probably could have squashed him that night I was holding him so tight, but I was scared. He was the tiniest thing I'd ever seen, little enough to fit in my palm and he weighed about as much as a dormouse. He felt light as a ghost kiss, but was still loud as a Swedish Short-snout.

Still, he stopped crying eventually. I expect he didn't think he had anything left to cry,, even though he had plenty of reason to. He just dropped off just before we had a near-miss with some snowy owl over Bristol. He'd earned his right to sleep and I don't expect he woke up until those ruddy Muggles of his started hollering over him in the morning.

That was the last time I carried him until now and this is probably the last time. God knows what we're gonna meet at the castle, but by Merlin, I ain't gonna stand with that devil. I'll stand against him until I can't stand any more and then people will know I died to fight him, just like Lily and James. Just like Harry.

Only, he didn't fight there at the end. He could have outspelled the likes of Malfoy or even that nutter Lestrange. He could have fought off You-Know-Who until I found a way to help him. Until I could stop playing the great idiot and put myself between him and that monster.

It ain't right and there's a lot more to it than that, but I've never said much worth remembering. You-Know-Who gave me the order to carry him, but he didn't need an Imperius curse because I don't think they could have stopped me from doing it in the first place.

So much has changed in sixteen years, but then again, nothing has. They call what I'm carrying a deadweight, but it feels like he's no heavier than that night I pulled him out of the house at Godric's Hollow. A deadweight's supposed to be a burden. Harry never will be one.

I have too many things to grieve for tonight, but one of them's the fact that he's silent now and he's never going to speak to me again. I'd let him tell me he hated me if it meant he could be alive to say it. Most likely, he'd say something much better than that.

Great luck I'll have trying to explain this to Ron and Hermione. How'd he die, Hagrid? Did he fight them? Did he take most of them with him before You-Know-Who finally got him? Who did he die protecting?

I don't know what I'll say to all of them except one. I can tell him how You-Know-Who killed him—Harry let him. I know where I should have been—at his side, not trussed up like a tamed beast.

I know who he died protecting and it wasn't anyone in that forest. There're so many that he died protecting that a Quidditch stadium couldn't've held all of them. He didn't know their names, but he knew the ones that mattered.
Ron.

Hermione.

Ginny.

Teddy.

Hagrid.

He probably could've named a couple dozen more, but I saw his face. I knew he walked in there ready to die if it meant that no one else would have to. Maybe he thought it would work that way. Maybe he was right. Maybe there's something waiting for all of us at the school that not even he or even Dumbledore understood. Whatever he died for, he had to believe that it was worth it.

If I ever figure out what it is, I'll fight for it. Until then, I'm just going to fight.

The last time I carried him, it was taking him from his home to the place that should have been called that. I wanted him to be given a good life. I hoped those Muggles would know that he was worth protecting and I wanted them to treat him as the Boy Who Lived, not the boy who was still taking up space in their ruddy broom closet. I wanted to take him home with me that night.

Ron and Hermione will ask if he said anything before he died, if he said goodbye or told me what to do as if I could do what he couldn't. Like the last time I carried him, he didn't make much sound after first and last two words.

You-Know-Who finally did what we all wanted. He showed his weak spot, like a dragon who has one scale missing, and said he was mistaken. Harry even fought him on that, with good reason. You-Know-Who expected him to be another Dumbledore, another champion and worthy opponent. Of course he wasn't mistaken about that.

Maybe Harry was the mistaken one. Maybe he believed in Dumbledore's own faith so much that he thought he had to go it alone and that he could. After all, he's beaten the devil off every time, so this shouldn't have been different.

Maybe he died tonight because, like the last time I carried him, it was finally time for him to go home. Not that place in Surrey or even Hogwarts, his real home and mine.

I'm carrying him home to Hogwarts, but Harry is going to the home where his Mum and Dad are still waiting for him.