The voices in the corridor stopped abruptly. Harry fixed his gaze determinately on the floor.
Four people came in. Harry didn't look up, but he knew from the uneven thump-clunk on the marble that one of them was Mad-Eye Moody.
"Harry," said Kingsley Shacklebolt's deep, gruff voice, "are you up to making a statement?"
Harry jerked his head. Yes, he'd make a statement. This was just the beginning of statements he'd have to make, and it didn't matter if he started now or if they got to him later.
"Can you tell us what happened after you left the Death Chamber?"
Harry drew a breath, his chest constricting painfully around it. "I followed Bellatrix Lestrange to the atrium. We dueled. Voldemort -" He had to stop and take another breath, letting it out slowly. "Voldemort appeared. Dumbledore saved my life. And he killed him." Harry gritted his teeth, rocking forward in the chair. "Voldemort killed him."
There was a short silence.
"Now, wait just a minute," said a voice Harry did not recognize. "You say You-Know-Who killed Dumbledore? But then - surely you aren't saying - well, that you killed You-Know-Who?"
Harry laughed mirthlessly. "No. Sorry."
"Then how - ?"
A hand was placed on Harry's shoulder, and Lupin's soft voice came to him as though from very far away. "Harry?"
A darkness was closing in around him, and his own voice reached him like a distorted echo. "Dumbledore... took him down... with him."
Harry awoke in the light-flooded infirmary, his head throbbing. For one moment, as his hand flew to his forehead, he thought his scar was burning again.
His hand met bandages.
And he remembered everything.
Voldemort, inside his head. His head exploding with pain. Being blind. Wanting to die, and in that moment finding a kind of peace that he had never felt in life. And the screaming. A long, lingering scream of fury and agony. Lightning exploding, not through his tightly-shut eyelids but through a jagged gap in his forehead.
And then... nothing.
No pain, no sound, and an impenetrable darkness.
It had taken him a long time to open his eyes, and he found that he had curled into a protective ball on the floor. In front of him, Voldemort and Dumbledore circled in silence, like partners in some kind of dance, wands outstretched. Twin beams of light, one red and the other green, connected between them, and for a moment Harry was blind again, thrown backwards by the force and burning heat that exploded in front of him.
And then they were dead, and Lupin was picking him up off the floor, half-hugging and half-strangling him to get him out of the way of the stone walls and ceiling crumbling around them.
They must have made it. Harry's next disjointed memories were of seeing his friends, some of them able to walk and some being carried, Death Eaters being led away, bodies on the floor covered with white sheets, and blood... and being questioned.
He sat up slowly. He didn't seem to be hurt, except for the pain in his head.
For the first time, he noticed he was not alone. Lupin was slumped in a chair next to his hospital bed, his robes rumpled and his hand even in sleep gripping his wand tightly.
There were sounds on the other side of the curtain separating Harry's bed from the rest of the infirmary, and he pulled the edge of the curtain aside.
Almost every bed he could see was occupied. He saw Neville's hunched form on the bed nearest his, and Luna sitting on another with her upturned face gazing dreamily out of the window, the fingers of both hands heavily bandaged. He searched for Ron and Hermione, but didn't see them. One bed was stripped, a rust colored stain in the middle of the mattress.
Madam Pomfrey was bent over an unmoving figure lying on a bed at the far end of the room. Harry thought he saw red hair, and heaved himself to his feet.
"Where do you think you are going, Potter?"
Harry turned, his head reeling as he looked up at Snape bearing down on him.
Lupin jerked awake with a startled grunt. "Harry?"
He saw Snape, and for a moment looked confusedly between the two of them. "Severus. I must have dozed off..."
"Obviously," Snape said, his lip curling.
Lupin was guiding Harry gently but firmly back to the bed. Harry could feel Snape's eyes burning into him.
"Does he need another potion, Severus?"
Snape scowled. "No. This one is for Granger."
Harry twisted out of Lupin's grasp. "Where is she? Is she all right?"
Snape's scowl deepened. "Ten potions to heal the damage. What do you think, Potter?"
Lupin's hands came down even more firmly on Harry's shoulders. "If that's for Miss Granger, Severus, then please take it to her."
Snape looked about to retort, but there was a shout from the other end of the room and he turned on his heel and stalked toward Madam Pomfrey and the now violently twitching body she was attempting to restrain.
"Is that Ginny?" Harry asked, unable to look away.
Lupin didn't answer him, but jerked the curtain closed around the bed.
"Did anyone else die?" It was suddenly hard to breathe. He managed only a whisper. And he couldn't bring himself to say Sirius' name. "Did I get anyone else killed?"
It was a lifetime before Lupin answered him. "No. There are some injuries. No one else died."
And then he had Harry in a fierce, crushing embrace, and reassuring words that meant nothing were pouring out in a deluge.
Harry shut his eyes and was blind again, and there was screaming; a long wail of agony that began with a name and ended in hoarse, broken sobs.
Harry was sitting in the shade of a tree, looking out across the glittering waters of the lake.
He had wanted to be alone.
He had broken away from Ron as he argued with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, who were at Hogwarts to take Ginny home, and had wandered the nearly deserted hallways of the school until he found himself in the courtyard.
Lupin was there, sitting on a stone bench, his dull eyes staring at a piece of parchment in his hand, his shoulders slumped. He neither moved nor looked up as Harry sat down next to him.
The parchment he was holding bore a dozen Ministry seals. A thick, gold-lined envelope lay on the ground at Lupin's feet. The original address, number twelve Grimmauld Place, London, was crossed out; the letter had been forwarded to Hogwarts, and was addressed to... Harry.
"He left you everything," Lupin said, not looking at Harry and still staring at the parchment without seeming to see it. "I suppose that's why they sent this to you."
His stomach clenched, but somehow his hand reached out and took the parchment from Lupin.
It was a posthumous pardon.
For a long time he, like Lupin, stared at it without really seeing it. The words ran together.
He folded it carefully and put it down on the bench beside Lupin, who still hadn't moved, and he backed away, away, until he could no longer see Lupin at all, and was sitting by the lake with his hands around his knees, his eyes prickling as he stared into the reflected sunshine on the water.
Someone would come and find him, he knew. His friends never left him for long, and when he didn't talk, they filled the silence. But for now, he wanted to be alone.
Hogwarts was closing early, though it hardly made much difference; there were only a few days left in the school year. Many students had already left. Ron would be leaving that day if his parents could convince him.
Then there would be a funeral; Albus Dumbledore would be buried on Hogwarts grounds. Harry didn't think he would be there. Unless someone would come for him, and they would have to convince the Dursleys to let him go.
He was going back, and it seemed to him that he was caught in a nightmare. Voldemort was gone; he didn't need his relatives' protection anymore, but he was still a child and he had no one else.
Absolutely no one in the whole world.
He had always, always felt alone, but never like this. He had taken for granted that he had the school, had Dumbledore, had Sirius, had the Weasleys. Even though Dumbledore sent him back to Privet Drive every summer. Even though Sirius hadn't been around. Even though Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had their own children to bring up. He'd had them. Even when they seemed to ignore him or shut him out, or when his letters came back undeliverable, or when he didn't know where they were for the moment. He'd had them.
Now Sirius was gone, and Dumbledore was gone, and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, collecting their damaged children from the hospital wing, didn't spare him a glance.
Suddenly, he knew just how alone he really was. Without parents and friendless, just as he'd been before discovering his destiny, before discovering what he was and the world he belonged to, before coming to Hogwarts. He was right back where he'd been five years ago.
With only the Dursleys.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Hermione limping toward him over the lawn, one hand held stiffly against her ribs. He averted his face, brushed the back of his hand over his eyes, and stood quickly.
"Ron's going," Hermione said, reaching him. "You'd best come, he's putting up a fuss."
Her hand slipped around his, and he didn't pull back, letting her lead him back to the castle.