Disclaimer: I trust you've read the thirty chapters before this one, so you may know by now that Harry isn't mine, I just like to mess with him.

A/N: So, here we are, the LAST CHAPTER of the Sword of the Hero. The next story is called Harry Potter and the Defiance of the Hero, and will be available here very soon - if that's not soon enough join the Yahoo! group in my profile, because its posted there completely, as is most of the third and last installment.

Thank you for reading all this way with me, whether you liked it or not, let me know,

joe6991 - the Boy Who Laughed


Chapter 30 – There Are No Happy Endings

When you fight, you don't fight for abstract values like the flag, or the nation, or democracy. You fight for your buddy. You fight to keep him alive, and he fights to keep you alive, and you go on that way, day after day, battle after battle. And when one of your buddies dies, something inside you dies as well. But you go on. You fight, so that his death isn't meaningless, his sacrifice isn't for nothing.

Richard Marcinko

Severus Snape walked with a purpose up through the unnaturally quiet corridors of Hogwarts. It had only been one day since the battle that had changed the world, and still most of the details on what had finally beaten back the Dark Lord were unknown. Unknown to the general public that is.

Snape knew more than most. Dumbledore had confided in him and told him of Potter's sacrifice. How he had survived the Avada Kedavra again and almost destroyed Voldemort with his magic. Fool... Snape thought bitterly.

He passed many students, all too quiet in the halls. Their faces were downcast and utterly defeated as they headed to dinner in the Great Hall. Snape frowned and continued up towards the Headmaster's office. He and Dumbledore had some difficult decisions to make.

Having learned all he could from his usual sources, Snape had a fair idea of the current condition of the Dark Lord. All reports indicated that Potter had almost killed him.

The gargoyle guard was down as he arrived and Snape ascended the stairs silently. As he rose small mutterings and snippets of whispered conversation reached his ears from within Dumbledore's study. Without knocking, he pushed open the double wooden doors and slipped into the room.

As he had suspected, the room was occupied by Dumbledore, Weasley and Minerva. After exchanging curt nods, Snape sat down into one of the offered plush chairs opposite Dumbledore's desk. His gaze instantly fell on the old man behind the desk, who sat hunched from the great weight that rested upon his shoulders.

Over the past year Snape had watched as Dumbledore fell to the ravages of age, and now he sat there hunched and as still as a statue. Deep lines were etched across his bearded face and Snape could easily have mistaken him for a sculpture. He was rigid and the deep grooves in his face were rough and brutal. The only sign that life actually resided in Albus Dumbledore was the two sharp chips of blue in his eyes that held little warmth and even less of the twinkle that was once their trademark.

Snape was worried, and it was one of those rare occasions where the worry showed on his face. Damn you, Potter... he thought.

"I trust you have word, Severus?" McGonagall said with a strain, offering the potions master the slightest of nods.

Snape was silent for a moment as he looked from Minerva to Arthur and then finally back to Dumbledore. "The Dark Lord is weakened," he whispered after a moment, pulling his black robes around him as he spoke. "Potter nearly succeeded in ripping him from his body once again..."

"Anything else?" asked Arthur, almost desperately.

Snape nodded. "He has almost died," he replied. "I doubt he will be able to even move under his own power for a month. Pure magic is coursing through his veins though. When he returns, and, be assured, he will return," Snape spat, turning to each of his colleagues in turn. "The power he will possess will be extraordinarily... destructive."

Arthur Weasley shuddered. "How long do we have to find Harry then?" he asked of the small group.

Dumbledore sighed and brought a small cup of tea to his lips, other than that he did nothing. "Has the Ministry begun the search?" asked McGonagall.

Arthur shook his head. "The destruction of Hogsmeade displaced hundreds of people. Hundreds more need to be buried," he said quietly. "We have neither the resources nor the man power to mount a search at this point."

"Surely you can spare one man!" There was a moment of silence, brought about by Snape's uncharacteristic concern for Harry.

"From what your daughter told us, Arthur," McGonagall said. "Harry was near death after battling You-Know-Who. Right now he could be dying alone... and for Merlin's sake, this is Harry Potter we're talking about!"

"Harry is strong-" Arthur began but was cut off.

Dumbledore, who had until this point remained silent, spoke. "Harry is strong," he managed. "But his choices have now led him beyond our help..."

"We can try and find him," Arthur persisted.

"You can indeed try," Dumbledore replied. "But I doubt you will find him anywhere upon this earth."

"What are you saying, Albus?" Snape asked.

Dumbledore's eyes pierced into him for a long moment and all Snape saw was sadness and defeat reflected in them. "Harry has..." he began but then seemed to be at a loss for words. "He..." he tried again.

"We will begin tomorrow," Mr. Weasley assured him with a tired strain to his voice. "Other projects can wait for now..."

McGonagall watched Dumbledore with a growing concern but did not say anything. With a glance at her pocket watch she saw that dinner had just begun. It would be best if the students were informed of the current situation. "I must see to the students," she said quietly and then excused herself.

No one tried to stop her leave and a cold silence fell upon the room. "Well Molly will want me home as well..." Arthur said. "Dumbledore," he nodded to the Headmaster. "Severus..."

With a final worried glance at Dumbledore, Arthur strode over to the fireplace and grasped a handful of powder. "The Burrow," he called and then disappeared in green flames.

Snape and Dumbledore lapsed into silence as their colleagues and friends departed. It was a comfortable silence they now shared, as they had done many times before, but the recent events still hung over both of them bitterly. It was like a splinter in their minds that was too painful to remove or forget . For Dumbledore it was Harry's sacrifice. For Snape it was the countless dead.

"Tea, Severus?" asked Dumbledore sadly once the silence had stretched on beyond comfort.

"No thank you, Headmaster," Snape replied. "I feel the need for something stronger than tea."

Dumbledore nodded and with a wave of his hand summoned a bottle of brandy from his cabinet across the room. He poured Snape and himself a drop and sat back tiredly. "Why do you think he did it, Severus?" Dumbledore asked after a moment, swirling the liquid in his glass.

Snape took a slow slip of his brandy and considered his response. "I tested the area in which the blood magic was cast," he began. "Where Potter and the Dark Lord duelled, it was stronger than any magic I've ever come across. Whatever spell he cast, the Dark Lord planned to destroy this castle. Potter stopped it the only way he knew how."

Dumbledore shook his head. "I was aware of that, Severus," he managed. "What I was really asking was why Harry felt the need to do it. What was going through his young mind as he realised Hogwarts would fall? Did he hesitate? What values and morals were ingrained into him, and when; for him to be able to willingly sacrifice himself to the unknown? I want the answer to these questions, because nobility like that has rarely been seen in this world."

Severus Snape took another agonising sip of his brandy and in so doing drained the glass. I don't know why Potter did it... he thought. To look so much like his arrogant father and at the same time, be nothing like him. He had learned the hard way about the horrors of this life, namely by defeating them, but why would he sacrifice himself?

"Perhaps these answers elude you, Albus," Snape began, in what was a gentle tone for him. "Because you are blinded by a love for Potter. Look at it from an unbiased angle and many possibilities arise."

"Are you in a position to see these possibilities?" Dumbledore asked, raising an eyebrow.

Snape fell silent and put his glass onto the desk in front of him. "I am," he answered eventually. "Potter sacrificed himself because he knows no other way. For use of a better phrase; he doesn't know when to quit."

"That is where you are wrong," Dumbledore said dryly. "It is not that he doesn't know when to quit. It is that he doesn't know how to quit. A subtle, but remarkable difference nonertheless."

Snape sneered as Dumbledore refilled his glass with warm brandy. "For all his power, he is no longer with us," he stated. "Potter was given a gift that could, and has, changed the world. But these morals you speak of, Albus, these morals Potter has, may have just cost us the war. He turned his back on his fate and destiny when he stepped into the abyss."

"Severus, I don't-" Dumbledore began but Snape was not finished.

"As much as it pains me to admit it, we needed Potter to win this war," Snape continued. "His power could have one day been unmatched by all who have gone before him. Even the Founders, even Merlin," he said sincerely and quickly. "But the Dark Lord used his only weakness against him. It nearly cost Voldemort his life, but he did. Potter is gone and his power and our hope went with him!"

Dumbledore surveyed Snape for a moment as all the portraits around the room held their breath as the two of them argued. "What weakness do you speak of?" the headmaster asked eventually.

Snape sighed and drank again from his recently refilled glass. "He cared too much, Albus," the bitter potions master began with a strain. "He cared about what happened to this school, its students, and its professors. He cared too much about this entire world and this weakness, this obligation he felt he owed everyone, his morals, Headmaster, are what has killed him. His bravery, his courage, his damn Gryffindor qualities are what have finally led him to the grave."

Dumbledore pondered these words. His mind travelled over a thousand minor details in Harry's life that had turned him into the extraordinary and powerful person he was today. Nothing he saw leapt out of him as a weakness. Harry rose above weakness.

"You are wrong, Severus," Dumbledore said simply. "His passion to care, his passion to love, is what kept him alive since he first survived the Curse all those years ago. This passion continues to do so. I do not believe Harry to be dead."

"Then where is he?" asked Snape.

"Beyond our help, but alive, and still fighting," Albus said, with no lie in his voice. He did not know where the circle of light had sent Harry, but more than a hundred years of studying magic had taught him that spells had a way of changing worlds and boundaries. Throwing Harry into that power might have been Voldemort's gravest mistake.

"How do you think he survived the curse again, Severus?" asked Dumbledore.

"Through his vast amounts of pure magic," Snape replied. "We have all seen the reports. Potter's pure magic is huge. It doesn't come as a surprise that it protected him against Avada Kedavra."

"Perhaps," Dumbledore said. "But I think Harry tapped into something a lot deeper than pure magic to save Ginny Weasley, and survive the unforgivable curse again."

"How..." Snape began but quickly changed his question. "What?"

"The power the Dark Lord knows not..." Dumbledore recited. "Voldemort already possessed pure magic, as do all witches and wizards. Harry possessed it in much larger quantities than the rest of us but it was not a power the Dark Lord knew not. The pure magic had been forced into Harry through circumstance and was continually forced to grow as he fought one life threatening battle after another this year."

"You believe Potter has another power?" Snape asked.

Dumbledore smiled truly for the first time that day. "Oh yes. He must. For Voldemort to be able to live after being assaulted by Harry's pure magic proves it. He may grow stronger once he recovers but Harry will forever hold the advantage over him once he learns how to tap into this deeper power."

Snape began to see sense in Dumbledore's words and formed a few theories of his own. "Love," he whispered, so quietly it was almost not heard. "Potter somehow manifested his love into a power." It sounded ridiculous to him but Dumbledore nodded and his eyes again twinkled.

"The power the Dark Lord knows not," he said carefully, those words now making more sense than they ever had before. "Harry has delved into a magic stronger and more terrible than any other force in this world."

"So he has more pure magic than all of the students at Hogwarts combined," Snape said sarcastically. "And yet he still manages to create something new on his own..."

Dumbledore shook his head. "Not quite..." he added. "There is, in fact, one other known instance where this love magic has been documented."

"Where?" asked Snape.

"Behind a door in the Department of Mysteries," Dumbledore answered. "Put there by Godric Gryffindor himself almost exactly one thousand years ago and never opened since."

Early the Next Morning

March 23

Nothing but pain and bitter anguish enveloped Ginny as she awoke. Though she kept her eyes closed, they could not stop the fresh flow of desperate tears. Everything that had happened over the past few days ran through her mind and she searched for some hope that would help her keep her sanity.

The worst thing had been telling Ron and Hermione. They had faltered, but were resolutely strong. She knew they had their hope to cling to, as did she, but how could Harry have survived against so strong of a magic? It didn't seem possible.

With a sigh, Ginny rolled over in bed and picked up Harry's silver ring from the bedside table. She had given it to him at Christmas only four months ago. Only four months, she thought. The world had changed beyond repair in those short months, and Harry had been at the centre of it all.

Ginny idly placed the ring on her index finger but it was much too big. It hung loosely and would easily fall off if she dropped her hand. With a long, desperate sigh, she placed the ring back on the bedside table and rubbed her eyes of sleep. She didn't want to have to get up today. She felt physically and emotionally drained.

Down in the common room she could hear people moving around and talking, getting ready for another day at Hogwarts. She envied them in their ignorance... well most of them anyway. As it had a way of doing, the story of what had happened to Harry had spread through the school like wildfire, as had the rumour that he loved her. No, Ginny could not face the crowds today.

The morning slipped slowly by and at about ten thirty; Ginny sat up in bed and picked up her wand. After a few summoning charms she sat with a quill and ink, and something much more special to her. Resting on her knees was her journal.

Everlasting Thoughts

Harry had given it to her, and she had written in it dozens of times. All her fears, her desires, her regrets had been written in its cream-white pages over the past few months, and Ginny felt that the book had become a part of her. She opened it to a fresh page and inked her eagle feather quill.

With the quill poised over the page, Ginny sniffed, biting her bottom lip. Her eyes glazed over with unshed tears and heaving a sigh, wrote.

You're gone.

It's been two days. Two long days of nothing but suffocating silence and regret. The castle is so quiet and the atmosphere so tense.

I miss you.

I don't know if you're coming back or if you're even alive, but I have to believe that you are. You survived the curse again, Harry. You have done what no one in the history of our world has ever managed to do and, while the curse didn't kill you, you still may be dead.

Please don't be dead, Harry. Please.

I grew up on stories of your bravery, of your courage and defeat of You-Know-Who, of Voldemort. It was your mother's love that saved you that awful night so many years ago, your mother's love that first allowed you to challenge the power of evil and live. It wasn't of your own making that you had to face him, Fate decided that for you, but you faced it admirably and with more heart than anyone could ever hope to ask for.

I don't know why I'm writing this.

I love you, Harry. Isn't that enough? I fell in love with your legend, but over the years, you became more than The Boy Who Lived to me. You became just Harry. You were just Harry. Not the person the world sees, not the legend. But real and strong. I watched you struggle silently over the long years, one life-altering trial to the next, and yet you still survived.

I saw the burden you carry grow until it seemed you were walking with a hunch. You were too young to carry that burden, to have the weight of the entire world placed unfairly upon your shoulders... but you faced it with the same will to survive and heroism as you showed in that clearing only two days ago. I realised that you were too young to carry it, but you were the only one with the strength and heart to do so.

I love you, Harry. But you're gone and I don't know if you're coming back.

Albus Dumbledore paced his study silently. Four days had passed and no sign of Harry had been discovered. Dumbledore was not surprised. He had expected as much. The magic that Harry stopped was stronger than the foundations of Hogwarts; it would never reveal all of its secrets. Harry was fighting on his own now.

Fawkes sang softly, heartening Dumbledore. He looked at the open and forgotten books and scrolls that lay on his desk. He searched for anything that would help them find Harry, but there was nothing. And there won't be, he thought sadly. What have I done? he questioned himself darkly.

"What have I done?" he said to the room this time. "What have I done...?"

"Still fighting the inevitable, Albus?" one of the portraits asked him.

Dumbledore sat down heavily in his large chair and looked up to Phineas Nigellus. "Indeed, Phineas," he said with cold eyes. "Our world needs to repair itself."

Phineas laughed harshly. "What happened four days ago is not going to be so easily repaired," he said. "If it ever will be."

Dumbledore fell silent, as did Phineas and Fawkes. "I failed Harry," he managed after a time.

"Failed?" questioned Phineas. "No I don't think so..."

Dumbledore shook his head. "My decisions have decimated the Wizarding world, and put Harry in the grave."

"Noting could put that boy in the grave, Albus," Phineas replied with another harsh laugh. "He is far too strong for that."

Despite it all Dumbledore smiled. "He does possess rather high amounts of power..."

Phineas nodded in agreement. "Not just magically strong, Albus," he said. "That boy possesses morals that put the rest of us to shame. He is selfless, resilient, kind, decent, just. He is everything we should be, and more."

Dumbledore nodded and for the first time that day, the familiar twinkle flared into his eyes. "You're right, Phineas," he said. "Harry cannot be dead."

"No, Albus," Phineas agreed. "People such as him don't fall out of stories without living to see the end. Mr. Potter will return, rather spectacularly and just when he is needed I think."

"I fear he will be needed all too soon," Dumbledore replied gravely. "Voldemort's strength will return, maybe not for many months but he will be back... and without Harry..."

"Our world will fail," Phineas finished sadly and the two of them fell into a deep silence. After a long minute, it was broken. "Where do we go from here, Albus?"

Dumbledore sighed and removed his glasses from the pocket of his robes, placing them on his face. "From here, Phineas, from here we tell the world what happened."

Harry Potter's Final Repose?

Written by Ian Lyterman

It seems the world once again owes its peace to a
boy only sixteen years of age. Forever the saviour
and protector of the people, Harry Potter has once
again shown his great worth and fought the
Dark Lord in a duel that may have led to the young
hero's death.

Following the devastating events of March 20th,
the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft
and Wizardry has informed the
Prophet of Mr.
Potter's courageous and undeniable noble sacrifice.

Harry Potter.

The world should be used to hearing that
name by now. A boy who has now twice survived the
Killing Curse, slain a basilisk, faced down Dementors
and duelled the Dark Lord. Whenever and wherever
extraordinary and dangerous events have taken place,
one found our hero.

But weep, for Harry Potter may have paid the ultimate
price for our protection. While hundreds of Aurors from
a handful of the world's Ministries battled the Dark Lord's
forces in the village of Hogsmeade, the real battle for our
very world took place in a far more sinister and hopeless place.

Harry Potter and the Dark Lord duelled almost to the death
in a hidden clearing within the Forbidden Forest as the Aurors
and Death Eaters clashed. Unbeknownst to them, had Harry
Potter lost that duel, they would all have perished and Hogwarts
castle would have fallen.

He Who Must Not Be Named summoned an ancient power
to devour Hogwarts and the surrounding area. Through his courage
and audacity, Harry Potter once again survived the Dark Lord's
Killing Curse and succeeded in ending the slaughter that day.
You-Know-Who retreated after Potter almost destroyed him.
The remaining Death Eaters fled as their master did. We are all
familiar with the battle of that day, what we did not know is why it

Before I write any further I think it should be appreciated that our
world possesses only a handful of extraordinary men and women.
Truly extraordinary people that rise above the rest of us and do what
is right for the world. We admire these people. We admire Harry
Potter. These people are so selfless, sometimes deadly, that there
are moments when our history, and our present, leaps forward into
the future on the backs of these amazing people.

Harry Potter sacrificed himself. He stepped into a void of darkness,
into the abyss created by the Dark Lord. He closed a magical portal
that had the force to rip away the foundations of Hogwarts castle. With
no thought to his own well being, he saved us all with one of the greatest
acts of heroism our world has ever known.

A world-wide search began today for Harry Potter, who has neither been
seen nor heard of since his disappearance. After beating back the most
evil Dark Lord to have ever existed, and saving the lives of over a thousand,
has Harry Potter finally succumbed? Was his sacrifice the ultimate one, or is he still
fighting out there? Somewhere between worlds and time is our saviour still

The facts and magic say he isn't, but I believe that the amazing life
and story of Harry Potter will not end this way. A boy who was ruled
by prophecy, but rebelled against Fate, cannot be so easily defeated by
sacrifice or death.

The entire student population and staff in the Great Hall read in awe filled silence the Sunday evening edition of The Daily Prophet. Apart from whispered rumours and overheard conversations, this was the first information they had heard of Harry Potter since his disappearance over a week ago.

Dumbledore had specially arranged with the Prophet to deliver a copy to everyone in the Hall. The silence now had shown him that most of the students were now realising Harry's sacrifice. The article went on for many other pages, discussing in detail Harry's duel with Voldemort and his life up to that point. It was pages full of sorrow and Harry's will to survive.

Ron and Hermione had known what had happened to Harry, but still they read the paper. Ron's eyes had glazed over with sadness and Hermione was openly crying. The Gryffindors read and re-read the article before silently putting it aside to absorb its meaning.

The soft, candlelit glow cast a long magical shadow on the Hall. The sky reflected in the enchanted ceiling was alight with stars and a half-moon that swam lazily overhead. The Hall remained silent.

It was Dumbledore who spoke first. He stood from his chair at the Staff table and did not have to raise his hands for silence. Dumbledore surveyed the sea of faces before him. They reflected heartbreaking hope in their eyes. They expected him to make it right, to bring Harry back. It was impossible. He could never admit it to the school, but Harry was now beyond any help this world could give him. It was in Fate's hands now.

"Do not be discouraged," Dumbledore managed after a long, desperate moment. "Mr. Potter's life may not have been claimed yet. He has defeated Death before, and I have a feeling he will again... He has just saved our world from destruction and has given us the time needed to mount our defences once again."

"I miss him so much," Hermione whispered shakily, her arms around Ron. "We have to find him..."

"It's okay... It'll be okay. Harry will be back," Ron whispered almost as a catechism of comfort, but not allowing himself to believe it. If Dumbledore couldn't find him, then they didn't have a chance.

"The war has abated for now," Dumbledore continued. "Hogsmeade will once again be rebuilt, and the world will recuperate after the loss of so many lives. The International Confederation will be sending aid and many of the surviving students from the Beauxbatons Academy will soon be continuing their education here at Hogwarts."

Mumbled whispers broke out at this. Ginny listened attentively to Dumbledore but her mind was on Harry and the last moments they had spent together. A silent tear fell from her eye and onto her cheek as she held his ring tightly in her hand.

"I am afraid our struggle is far from over," Dumbledore managed sadly. "Lord Voldemort has been temporarily weakened, but he will return. His armies will grow and the fight will once again be ignited with renewed ferocity." As Dumbledore said this he thought of the prophecy, and of their need for Harry. "Harry Potter will be needed for this to end. I have no doubt that he will return. And when he does, not even the Dark Lord will be able to stop him. He has come too far to lose now."

The silence in the Hall returned and was only broken by stifled sobs throughout the room. Ginny looked around the Hall and at the many glances she herself was receiving. They all knew what had saved her life in the clearing. They knew Harry loved her and that they were more than friends. They also had a deep hope that Harry would return and fight for them. They knew they could not defeat the Dark Lord alone.

Sighing deeply, Ginny thought back to late last year, when she had spoken to Harry about the hope the world had in him.

Harry looked up and into her eyes. "Yeah..." he sighed. "I just hope I don't let them down, Ginny."

Ginny smiled brilliantly at him. A smile filled with trust, hope, belief, and something else Harry couldn't place that spread to her eyes. "You won't," she said simply, without a waver of doubt in her voice. "It's just not who you are."

"You really believe that?"

"Of course I do," she answered seriously. "I wouldn't say it if I didn't."

If Ginny had known then how much it was going to cost all of them for those words to ring true, she would never have said them. Another tear fell from her eyes.

"Harry once spoke to me of happy endings," Dumbledore continued, every pair of eyes still on his. "He told me there was no such thing as a happy ending, but we still have to do our best and strive for one, even if it didn't exist." A tear now fell down Dumbledore's cheek. "Have hope," he managed with a sense of finality. "And raise your goblets, to Harry Potter."

With a flick of his wand Dermas sent a few potion vials flying neatly into his bag. Another flick and a few of his shirts joined them. Ten minutes later and the small room in the staff quarters that he had lived in the past few months was bare of all his belongings. He shouldered the magically enhanced backpack and turned towards the door.

"Leaving without saying goodbye, Dermas?" questioned a familiar voice.

Dermas jumped, startled. "Dumbledore!" he said shocked. "Not many people can sneak up on me like that."

Dumbledore offered him a sad smile. "I have always seemed to have a knack for showing up just where I am needed, Dermas," the wizened headmaster replied. "Tell me, are you leaving?"

Trask nodded. "I am," he said. "I've spoken to Kingsley Shacklebolt about becoming an Auror. He said we can work around the fact that I'm forty years older than the cut-off age."

Dumbledore smiled. "Admirable, Dermas. I suspected bringing you out of retirement might inspire you to take an active role in this war."

Trask nodded. "He saw me fight last week in Hogsmeade with... with Harry. This world is going to need all the Aurors it can get all too soon."

A brief shadow passed over Dumbledore's face. "Perhaps after training they'll place you in the Headquarters on the Hogsmeade road. I'm sure Harry would like to see you again when he returns."

Trask clicked his teeth. "How can you be so certain he's alive?" he asked honestly.

"I cannot," he managed in reply. "The blood magic could have thrown him to any point across time and space, even through the boundaries that separate universes. But wherever he is, you can be sure he's fighting to get back. That is Harry."

Trask sighed and then offered his hand to Dumbledore. "Goodbye, Albus," he said. "Owl me if you hear anything."

And with that, Dermas walked past the headmaster and down out of Hogwarts. With him went his trunk, which held on top of all the other paraphernalia, Harry's sword.

The Sword of the Hero.

Dermas hoped one day to return it.

Ron, Hermione and Ginny sat quietly in Dumbledore's study, sipping on cups of tea and sucking sherbet lemons.

"How are you?" Dumbledore asked kindly, his eyes twinkling.

Not one of them spoke for a moment as they all reflected. Ginny eventually did. "Managing," she said quietly. "As well as can be."

The three of them were shattered. Without Harry they felt scared and alone, even though they had each other. It was worse because they did not know if Harry was alive or dead. Waiting was the worst thing.

"I assume it has not been easy," Dumbledore said. "For anyone. But I would not give up on Harry just yet."

Hermione looked up at the headmaster with tear-filled eyes. "How do we know if he's alive?" she asked quietly.

"We cannot know, Miss. Granger," Dumbledore replied. "But I do not believe Harry to be dead."

"Have you any idea where he is?" asked Ron.

Dumbledore sighed and looked past them and into a foggy future, a thousand possibilities ran through his mind, each one less likely than the last. "I have no idea," he said. "Magic is truly an amazing thing, but it is unpredictable. Harry will have to make some hard choices, wherever he is, to ensure his survival."

The three of them could not say anything to that, so they didn't. "Was there anything else, Professor?" Hermione asked.

Dumbledore nodded. "A few weeks ago Harry came to me with an idea to make the DA into protectors of the school."

Ron looked up at the headmaster and wiped his eyes of tears. "He bought us dragon armour and was... he was lost before he could do anything more."

"I would hope you three, and perhaps Mr. Longbottom and Miss. Lovegood, would like to continue this project."

Ron, Hermione and Ginny nodded their agreement.

The International Confederation

"Hundreds have died on the streets of Hogsmeade. The Dark Lord Voldemort has not been defeated and the boy, Harry Potter, has disappeared off the face of this earth. Could someone please explain to me where we went wrong?"

Dumbledore sighed as the American Ambassador, Sorcerer John Rafter, voiced what the entire Confederation was thinking. The biggest magical battle ever fought in modern times could not avoid scrutiny. He rose from his chair, the magical amplifiers making sure his voice carried to all of the members in the massive auditorium.

The full meeting of the International Confederation involved over two thousand members in the long rows of seats and benches that rose around the room. Situated in the thousands of seats beyond the Confederation benches were over three thousand civilians and members of the world's press.

"I warned this Confederation more than a dozen times," Dumbledore said with an edge to his voice. "Demanding that you recognise the threat that is Voldemort. Most of you chose not to listen and good men and women, good Aurors, have died for your arrogance."

Tremendous cries of outrage sprung from over one thousand members and the cameras from the press lit the massive room with hundreds of flashes. After a moment they were silenced as Dumbledore raised his hands, much like the same way he did in the Great Hall.

"Voldemort cannot be defeated by anyone other than Harry Potter, who has indeed disappeared. But make no mistake, Mr. Rafter," Dumbledore spoke to the American representative. "He is no boy. Harry Potter survived the Avada Kedavra curse once again and stopped the destruction of Hogwarts."

Many gasps and shouts of denial were cried as Dumbledore stopped speaking, but he was not done yet. "You can't even begin to imagine the amount of power needed to destroy Hogwarts, but this is the power Lord Voldemort now possesses. Harry Potter survived through pure courage and audacity, but paid for his heroism dearly in the end."

"What happened to him, Dumbledore?" asked Sorcerer Rafter. "Where is Harry Potter?"

Dumbledore sighed and his eyes glazed over with unshed tears. "Beyond our help," he answered with a shake to his voice. "And that is why we must act now, and create an army strong enough to withstand the coming darkness. Voldemort will return. He is weakened for now, but he will return. All we can do is defend our land, but we cannot do it alone."

The thousands of people in the Hall were silent as they heard the truth in Dumbledore's voice. He continued sadly. "Put aside all your differences, for if we do not unite now, it will not be just the Aurors who pay the price next time. It will be you and your families. Your children will fight this war, as will the next generation. Do not make them suffer as we have. Choose wisely today, the fate of this entire planet depends upon it."

Three weeks after the battle for Hogsmeade and Hogwarts the world was still trying to regain its sense of normality. The Auror ranks were growing slowly, but steadily after the International Confederation had formed a coalition of all the Ministry power in the world. Tens of thousands of Aurors were on alert all around the world for dark activity.

Voldemort and his Death Eaters could not be found. Just like Harry, he had seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth, leaving nothing that could track him. Although the Dark Lord was still alive, peace had momentarily returned to the Wizarding world. It would not last though; it would never last as long as Voldemort lived.

The Prophet ran daily articles on the current situation in the world and of the successful reconstruction of Hogsmeade village. Many articles and columns were devoted solely to Harry, who was now mourned by most in the British Wizarding world. It had been widely agreed by the population that Harry had died, but that did not stop the Ministry, led by Arthur Weasley, from searching the globe for him.

His picture was released to the Muggle government and authorities. The British Prime Minister had been informed of the situation and had had all the Muggle hospitals searched throughout the country for a boy matching his description, with several life threatening wounds and a large piece of his shoulder missing. The entire population of the United Kingdom, Wizard and Muggle, was on the lookout for a boy with a lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead.

After one and a half months the search was called off. Harry had not been found. Many now believed him dead. Though he was not forgotten, he rose from a hero and become a martyr in the world's eyes.

Only a few people still believed him to be alive. The entire Weasley clan, Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and a handful of Hogwarts students refused to accept that he was dead. They had accepted he was gone, for how long they did not know, but he was not dead.

Before he disappeared, Harry inspired hope in the wizards and witches of Britain. Many tried in vain to find an adequate description for his bravery and heroism. They searched for a description that would cover his extraordinary deeds. They wanted everyone to know and learn the story of Harry Potter so the world could stand in awe and respect him for his great deeds. His feats of courage were almost incomprehensible to ordinary people. They were to be known so proper thanks could be given, even if he was dead.

Many books were published in the following weeks after his disappearance, detailing Harry's spectacular and heart-wrenching life. The world learned of his struggles through Hogwarts and his sacrifice for the greater good. The Wizarding population found themselves filled with respect and admiration for a boy who had saved them against the strongest evil their world had to offer.

They found themselves imagining how they would have managed if placed in even one of Harry's life threatening situations. They admired Harry for risking his life countless times, even for complete strangers. His struggle caused many to question their own position in the world, and what they could do to make a difference. Candidates for Auror training tripled a week after his life story was released. These people wondered what their lives were for, and whether or not they would lay it down for a complete stranger.

Harry's story, Harry's life, was known to the world, and most could not even begin to imagine the terrible struggle their hero had been through. It restored people's faith in humanity, their hope, to know that someone was out there that had the will and strength to protect them.

It seemed that Harry had hundreds of chances to walk away, to take the easy way out, as most of them would have done. But he didn't. He chose to fight and kill a basilisk, he chose to face down Dementors, and he chose to defy Voldemort. He had many chances to give up, to turn away, to stop, but he didn't. It was a boost to the decency and humanity of the world that someone was willing to go through so much, for no personal gain, and save them all from destruction.

After reading the biography of Harry Potter, which had many passages of direct quotes and most of it written by statements from those close to Harry, one could not help but be changed forever. To have some brief understanding of the deep emotional stress, the physical and mental pain and injury that he had endured, all for a world that could never thank him properly now he was gone, was life altering.

But in the end there were no words left that could describe the absolute, unbreakable set of morals and selflessness that Harry had possessed. It was a spark that hardly anyone on the face of the earth could claim to have. There was heroism, courage and bravery everywhere, but what Harry had was beyond that, and it could not be defined.

In the end, he was gone, but the world was now preparing for a fight without him. The fear of the Dark Lord was still upon them, and many would join his ranks over the coming months as he regained strength and power. With Harry Potter gone, those who had abandoned Voldemort would return once it became clear where the apparent power lay. It would soon become dark again, but the magical communities around the world were no longer idle. The following years would become the most decisive ever faced, but they would be faced by individuals with the same courage that their saviour had possessed.

They could do no less.


A pain in his shoulder that he could not see, or feel with his hands.


Floating in the abyss, the cold freezing the blood in his veins.


A warm wind blew into his face, though he had no idea why it should...


Memories swirled passed him and he felt terribly alone, naked against the vastness of magic and creation.


His memory faded and was replaced with consciousness, but suddenly Death grasped his heart in an icy grip... and squeezed.

Nothing but Darkness.

The End of Part One
of The Hero Trilogy...

I thank you for reading.

A/N: Well there you have it - review, please, and tell me how it was for you. The next story will be posted soon - Defiance of the Hero, where events step up a pretty hefty notch. Oh yes, it gets better...