Semi-Summary: Voldemort is dead. But so is Harry Potter. How does it change the world? And what happened to Harry's body? And who is the mysteriously cloaked figure? Don't worry. My stories are usually much better than their summaries. Or semi-summaries, if you will.
Disclaimer: Not mine. Goes for the entire story.
A/N: The title of this story comes from a quote by Tryon Edwards:
"It is the fixed law of the universe, that little things are but parts of the great. The grass does not spring up full grown, by eruptions: it rises by an increase so noiseless and gentle, as not to disturb an angel's ear-- perhaps to be invisible to an angel's eye. The rain does not fall in masses, but in drops, or even in the breath-like moisture of the fine mist. The planets do not leap from end to end of their orbits, but inch by inch, and line by line, it is that they circle the heavens. Intellect, feeling, habit, character, all become what they are through the influence of little things. And in morals and religion, it is by little things-- by little influences acting on us, or seeminly littles decisions made by us, that every one of us is going, not by leaps, yet surely by inches, either to life or death eternal."
Chapter One-In Memoriam
A lone figure stood before the memorial, stooped against the harsh winds and freezing rain of the storm. A hand rose from the cloak's dark folds to rest upon a single name. Sirius Black. It was the first on a seemingly endless list of names. A finger traced it lovingly.
Suddenly, beneath the hood, the figure's face contorted into a pained grimace. The hand jerked back, clenched, then slowly relaxed and returned to the name.
Sirius Black - the first name in a long list of those loved and lost. After a moment, the scarred man beneatht the cloak allowed his hand to drift along the wall, and paused, posture rigid, at the end.
Tom Riddle was the next to last name.
The man clenched his jaw resolutely as his hand traced the final name engraved in golden lettering on the memorial. He sighed, then - patting the wall one last time - frowned, turning his back on the list of the dead. Behind him, the final name glinted, shining brightly in defiance of the storm raging around it.
I will not die, it seemed to say. You cannot win. I will not die.
The two words presented on the memorial were both much simpler and much more meaningful, though: Harry Potter.
"Yes," the man whispered fiercely to himself as he slowly made his way back up to the looming Castle Hogwarts. "Harry Potter is dead."
"Bravery is enduring the unavoidable without complaint. Courage is initiating the avoidable when it's the right thing to do.
They are two completely unrelated traits.
Most Gryffindors have some hidden vestige of bravery within them. They're the children who, instead of crying when they get a shot, count back from one-hundred instead; the ones who get back up after scraping their knees and keep running, eager to show off their wound to their friends.
Peter Pettigrew was brave enough to betray the only friends he had.
Conniving is being able to trick people. Cunning is being able to do it with skill, understanding, and empathy.
Most Slytherins are conniving. They lie without blinking, or twitching, or whatever it is that bad liars do. They can become your best friend then drop you, cover your back then turn around and stab you in it, without regret. They're the children who get an extra cookie by accusing others of stealing their first, or delight in watching other kids being punished for mistakes they have not made.
Tom Riddle-- Voldemort, that it--was conniving enough to get Rubeus Hagrid expelled for opening the Chamber of Secrets when Voldemort himself was guilty of the crime.
Cleverness is remembering things well. Intelligence is understanding them.
Most Ravenclaws are smart. They know all the answers in class. They're the kids who read the dictionary because they can, and they want to impress others with their large vocabulary. They're the kids who hop up and down in their seats with their hands waving in the air when a question is asked asked. They know the answer. Always. But everyone knows they know it. And what use is that? None.
Everyone always told me that I should have been a Ravenclaw.
Devotion is what dogs have for their masters. It is a blindness. Loyalty is what one has for friends. It is a choice.
Most Hufflepuffs are devoted. To their schoolwork, to each other, their school, their families. To themselves, especially. They're the ones who work hard and things well, and take pride in their work. A little too much pride, sometimes. Some of them become pompous because they look around and see themselves as the best. They don't mean to flaunt themselves, but their pride is too great for them to back down.
There was a good reason that Neville Longbottom wasn't sorted into Hufflepuff.
Most people don't see these distinctions. That, or they simply refuse to acknowledge them. The Sorting Hat calls Gryffindors courageous, Slytherins cunning, Ravenclaws intelligent, and Hufflepuffs loyal. Maybe, once upon a time, in a castle long ago, there lived four founders who found at least one of these admirable traits in every witch or wizard they endeavored to teach, but these days, they're rare gems. Most people haven't a speck of any of these in them. But they find it simple to close their eyes and pretend. Well, I won't. I can't. Not after knowing Harry.
Harry Potter was terrible at understanding girls." Hermione paused, and smiled sadly as those in the audience who had really known Harry chuckled reminiscently. "He didn't know what to do in response to tears because he never allowed himself to shed them. He didn't comprehend or enjoy physical affection because his first memory of it was at the end of fourth year, only a few months before his fifteenth birthday, when Mrs. Weasley hugged him after he had just seen a classmate murdered, witnessed Voldemort's rebirth, and had the Cruciatus curse cast on him several times. He wasn't very good at handling all the little day to day problems because he had to deal with so many that were so much bigger than most people our age could comprehend. He didn't open up emotionally, because whenever he did, his confidante ended up dead. He wasn't a terribly good student because his relatives beat him for getting better grades than his cousin when he was in primary school. He was severely claustrophobic, because he was often locked in a cupboard under the stairs for the first eleven years of his life. He wasn't a great social mingler, because his first friends ever were Ronald Weasley and me, and we didn't meet until our first ride on the Hogwarts Express.
But, disregarding the many things that he was terrible at, Harry Potter was the best friend I ever had, and the best friend I ever will have. He was courageous-- annoyingly so. I once scolded him for having what I called a "saving people thing". He was cunning-- he told me once that the sorting hat wanted to put him in Slytherin, but he talked it into changing its mind. He was always so good at acting like he was fine when he couldn't possibly have been. He was loyal-". Hermione's voice broke as a sob escaped her control, and tears cascaded down her cheeks. "So very loyal. It almost seemed unreal, sometimes, because he never wavered in that loyalty, when anyone else-- anyone-- would have. And he was intelligent. Only, instead of shoving that intelligence in people's faces, he shared it with them, in the hopes that it would keep them alive a little longer.
He was generous. And caring. And endearing. And self-sacrificing.
And I guess that's why we're here today, isn't it? He sacrificed his life," Hermione paused, sending the audience a scathing look, "for a society of people who refused to save themselves.
And I hope that one day you realize exactly what was lost the moment Harry James Potter, the man behind the title that he so despised, died."
There was no applause. None was needed. They all knew it was the cold, hard truth. And it shocked them. Hermione Granger had accomplished her goal. She had shown them that "Just Harry" had been far greater and far more human than the Boy-Who-Lived-Only-To-Die-Saving-The-World could ever have been.
As Hermione darted away from the podium and toward the castle Hogwarts, a cloaked and hooded figure in the back of the audience rose, and started after her. It stopped short, though, when she was pursued by Ronald Weasley, and the figure, deciding to stay just a bit longer, turned back around and seated itself once more.
Albus Dumbledore stepped up to the podium, his countenance grave and his eyes brimming with tears of sorrow. "If everyone would care to listen, I have a story to tell," he said softly, knowing that he would be heard by the completely silent crowd. "Once upon a time, there was a boy - no matter what they say, or do, to conceal that fact, that's all he was in the beginning. This boy was as far from spoiled as a little boy can get. He was treated like a house elf by his relatives, with whom he had lived for his entire life, barring his first year, before his parents' murder. He was often locked in the cupboard under the stairs, and more times than I wish to count, he was beaten. The cruel relatives gave him little in the way of food and possessions, while they doted on their own terrible child.
One day, after many years of hardship, this boy received a letter, an invitation borne to him by a half-giant with a heart to match his large size. An invitation to a school of wizardry. The half-giant told the boy all about the school, and took him to an alley where all sorts of things were sold, from post-owls and wizard's robes to magic wands and flying broomsticks. There, the half-giant told the boy about the wizarding world of which he was a part - the wizarding world of which he was a celebrity. A hero. A savior.
That half-giant, Rubeus Hagrid, became the boy's first friend. Hagrid, as a birthday gift to the boy, who had only just turned eleven, bought him an owl. The boy named his owl Hedwig.
That owl, Hedwig, became the boy's second friend, and his beloved familiar.
On September the first, Ninteen-ninety, the boy boarded the train that would transport him to a world he yearned to understand, A world of magic, and beds he could sleep in, and such strange things as moving staircases and friends. That day, the boy made his third friend, Ronald Weasley. He did this, not by flattery or persuasion, but by acceptance. Ronald Weasley was poor. The boy understood this, and had accepted the same status in his own life. Ronald Weasley was nervous. The boy understood this too, and accepted that he would experience such a feeling many times throughout his years. Ronald Weasley was alone when he approached the boy. If there was one thing the boy could understand completely and utterly, it was knowing that you were alone, and accepting it. And thus, a bond was formed.
Not long after that, the boy found his fourth friend in one Hermione Granger. There are some things you can't share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll is one of them. From that point on, the three young Gryffindors were inseparable - The Golden Trio, as a certain Potions Master used to refer to them. And their friendship was golden, and unshakeable.
At the end of that first year at the school, the boy and his two friends postponed Voldemort's return to the Wizarding World. The bond between the three became stronger.
At the end of their second year, the boy defeated a basilisk and sliver of Voldemort's soul, yet again preventing his return, and saving Ginevra Weasley's life, making another true friend of her in the process. The bond strengthened still.
At the end of their third year, the boy drove away over one hundred dementors with his patronus, and in so doing, defeated his own worst fear, which was fear itself. He rescued his wrongly convicted godfather with a time turner, and saved from death a man who deserved much worse. And still, the bond grew between the three.
At the end of their fourth year, the boy was captured by Voldemort. He watched a friend fall to the wand so feared by the wizarding world, and dueled with the Darkest Wizard of the Century after undergoing the effects of the Cruciatus and overcoming the Imperius. He managed to escape, ensuring that his friend's body be brought back to his parents. His friends aided him in his recovery from this terrible event, and their loyalty to each other grew by leaps and bounds.
At the end of their fifth year, the boy's godfather was murdered by Bellatrix Lestrange. The boy was there. He saw it. He was devastated. He felt indescribably empty. He blamed himself. Again, he faced Lord Voldemort. And again, he triumphed. He returned to Hogwarts, only to learn of a prophecy, a prophecy about himself and Voldemort:
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not. Either must die at the hand of the other, for neither can live while the other survives. The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies.
The boy understood it. The boy accepted it. The boy grieved with his friends for his godfather. And then, the boy trained. For the next two years, between skirmishes with Death Eaters and Dark Creatures and Voldemort himself, the boy trained excessively and intensively. The boy grew more powerful by each passing day. The bond between the three friends seemed to grow weaker by each passing moment. The boy distanced himself over time, ever afraid that Voldemort would hurt his friends for the crime of being close to his heart. It wasn't difficult to distance himself. The boy had his training, and though they remained loyal to the end, the two friends parted from him.
The boy led the final battle. He defeated Lord Voldemort. He was killed in the process. In winning, the wizarding world has invariably lost. We have lost a boy who was kind and loyal, and brave and cunning. A boy who was accepting and forgiving, and fiercely devoted. A boy who just wanted to be normal. A boy with the world on his shoulders.
This boy, as we all know, was Harry. Not Harry Potter. Not the Boy Who Lived, or the Man Who Vanquished. Not Mr. Potter, or First Commander.
Just Harry. And he will be missed, not because he was Harry Potter or the Boy Who Lived or the Man Who Vanquished or Mr. Potter or Commander, but because he was Just Harry. As it was Just Harry who sacrificed his life for the world.
To Harry -- Just Harry." Dumbledore, his twinkle seen from even the back row, held up his glass to the toast as a single tear trickled down his weathered face.
The cloaked and hooded figure in the very back of the crowd blushed, though it was unseen by anyone. The man beneath the cloak knew many things, not one of which was that he should leave soon, before he was discovered. He knew that Ron had probably caught up with Hermione and comforted her by now. He knew that he would thank the Headmaster if he could. He knew that Harry Potter -- or Just Harry, if you would -- didn't deserve all this. He knew that he had a pounding headache. He knew he would miss this place. And, unfortunately, he knew that at that very moment, the hundreds of people congregated here today were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed voices: "To Harry -- Just Harry!"
A/N: This will be a story. The idea's been bouncing about in my head, and it won't go away. This likely won't be continued until I get a bit further along in Angel's Revenge. Please review this. I haven't gotten many reviews for any of my pieces of writing so far.