Disclaimer: Not Mine.
Author's Notes: This is the time to say goodbye to something that has been very close to my heart for such a long time. I started this fic back in November for NaNo and finished it in December. It's the longest thing I've ever written and both the hardest and easiest story to tell.
I just want to thank all of you who've come along with me for the ride. Through all the tears and joy and pain of this journey, I hope I've managed to touch a few with Harry's story. I know I have appreciated every single comment.
I've always felt that we don't get to choose who we love, or who loves us back. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't and all we can do is hang on to it when it does because more often than not we don't get our happy ever afters, either.
Daily Prophet Death Notices. August 15th, 2006.
Deceased: Harry James Potter 31.07.1981 to 22.07.2006 died peacefully at home after a short illness. His partner, friends and family were in attendance. A private memorial service was held at an undisclosed location shortly thereafter.
Front page of the Daily Prophet, December 15th, 2006.
In a special release before the holiday season, the Potter Foundation (The Potter Orphanage Trust to Educate Rascals) is releasing the long awaited autobiography of Harry Potter.
The Foundation, headed by the late Mr. Potter's partner, Draco Malfoy, proprietor of Perfect Potions and good friend Mrs. Hermione Weasley, Head of the Public Library, have announced that proceeds from the sale of the book will go towards the Hogwarts education of any child unable to afford the cost.
Mr. Potter's book, A Certain Kind of Memory, tells the story of his celebrated life in his own words and his very personal account of the illness that claimed his life. "While Harry was a most private person, he wrote the book for the people of the Wizarding world to see that he was just a man who made mistakes and had faults just like the rest of us," Mrs Weasley said, today. "And he wanted you all to have the truth about him and about his life and not have it altered by the rose coloured glasses of a society still grateful for something he did a long time ago."
Mr. Malfoy could not be contacted for comment; friends stating that he preferred to stay away from public discussion of his and Harry's life together.
This reporter would like to add that he had the privilege of knowing Harry and attending Hogwarts with him. He is sadly missed by all his friends, by Draco most of all, but we'll always have special memories of him to keep our hearts warm.
The letters Harry wrote on that last night.
By now you probably know everything.
First up, I have to say I'm sorry and I have to try and explain why I didn't mention my illness to anyone.
The last time I prepared for death I was facing Voldemort and I knew I was going to die. At that point I didn't have the chance to say goodbye to anyone. No chance to set things right or say final words to anyone; it all seemed so surreal. And I remembered thinking at the time that if I'd had the choice, that was not such a bad way to go. Nothing could be done about it then but what can you say, anyway? Don't go? I'll miss you? Goodbye? Once they're said, what else is there to say or do apart from dwell on it?
I wanted, and yes, all right, it's selfish, but I wanted nothing to change. I didn't want to see the concern on your faces every time we met. The giving me the once over to check and see if you could see any symptoms. The worry and the anguish I knew you'd all suffer. Some of you would have put your lives on hold for me. Indefinitely. And that would have been ridiculous because I had no idea how long I had. They gave me some vague idea that was fairly accurate in the end I guess, but I would have hated any of you doing anything different or putting things on hold just for me.
And don't tell me you wouldn't have been any different than you normally are. You can't say that you wouldn't be thinking about it every time we saw each other. And that was what I wanted to avoid. I wanted to spend what time I had left in the company of my friends, enjoying being a part of their lives and living it with them.
Hermione, you know you would have dived into research mode and spent every second you had trying to come up with a cure for cancer. Or for mine at least. And then I would never have seen you speechless or married and I would have missed our lunches each week.
Ron, you wouldn't have been able to look sideways at me without wanting to either run as fast as you could away from it or curse something.
Gin and Blaise…how could I have played those scratch Quidditch matches without one of you telling me that maybe I shouldn't be?
Molly, you and Arthur have been the closest to parents that I have known and I can never thank you enough for that, but you know you both would have fussed over me so much that I'd have suffocated under it.
The knowledge would have put too much pressure on you, too, Seamus. Your job means everything to you and it would have been unfair to put that sort of story into your hands without you heading down to the pub regularly and drinking yourself into a stupor over it.
Luna, thanks for holding back as much as you did. I know they'd been telling you things for longer than when you confronted me about it – and no one hassle her about that, it's not fair. I made her promise not to say anything. Daphne, look after my girl, yeah?
Pansy…well, hell, I could have told you, I guess, because while we're friends, you've never held back from telling me I'm an arse and I wouldn't have expected you to stop now. But you would have told Draco and to be honest, if you'd done that I would have done something terrible.
I can't even begin to articulate what having Draco in my life as a partner has meant to me. If I had that time over again there isn't anything I would do differently, even though I've hurt him badly by not telling him. He's definitely the love of my life. Nothing even comes close. I've written him a separate letter, sticky noses, and if he wants to tell you what's in it then he can.
So, anyway, that's why I wanted to die in my own way, so that I could enjoy you all – without the encumbrance of your knowledge of my illness. Selfish? Maybe. Draco always did say I thought everything was always about me. Maybe he's right. If he is, then I behaved true to nature. If he's wrong, then I deserve to be selfish just this once. I am sorry you're all hurt by it, but I'm not sorry I did it. I can't be. I've had the best year of my life and you have all given me something so unique and precious that I could never ever thank you enough.
On to more practical matters. I want to be cremated; the thought of being entombed forever in a small dark place does nothing for me. I'd prefer to think of myself as flying with the breeze, so scatter my ashes somewhere you know I like. Over a Quidditch pitch somewhere. Just don't bury them someplace or keep them in a container and pretend I'm there. Don't put a headstone anywhere and then go there sometimes and plant flowers as if you're visiting me. You don't have to go anywhere to visit me; all you have to do to visit me is to think of me. And please, please don't let the Ministry put up stupid monuments to me. If people want to remember me, they can do so by donating to the education fund at the Orphanage.
And don't cry. I know it's too much to ask and I've done enough of it myself over the last year. But I'm going, hopefully, somewhere where my parents are waiting for me. Do you realise that now I'll get the chance to actually know them? Can you imagine how magnificent that is? Dumbledore always said that death was merely the next great adventure and I'm off on mine. It's only death. Nobody's to blame for death. It isn't a punishment for anybody's sin, none of that nonsense. It's just death.
No sad music at my funeral and no grieving oratory and, most of all, no big fancy ceremony. I'd really like it if you just sat around and had a few drinks with all the people I love, so that when you remember my funeral you smile while you do it. Play the music I loved and turn it up. I'm going to check in a few times to make sure you're all okay.
Love me, remember me at my best and never forget how much I love you all.
Harry's letter to Draco not available to be reprinted.
Golden lights from the streetlamps reflected oddly shaped forms on the windows of Flourish and Blotts. Being Christmas, it was snowing and the drifts had piled high against the shop wall in places but the shopfront windows were clear, backlit by bright spotlights highlighting the whole display window and the books therein.
Two people stood outside, looking through the window at the picture on the cover of each one of the books. A picture of a smiling Harry and Draco at Christmas in the chaos that had made him laugh so hard, was displayed under the title, A Certain Kind Of Memory.
One of the onlookers sighed heavily each time the two kissed, a little tremor in his breathing as if he was trying to hold back too many memories or wishes. Or tears. His companion had slipped her arm through his and rested her head on his shoulder, comforting and yet not obtrusive.
Their faces were reflected in the glass of the shop front. One pale and lined with grief clearly showed the pain of loss. The other, no less grieving, was smiling softly though.
"You chose a good picture, Draco. He would have liked that one. I remember we laughed so hard that day and it seemed like nothing could get any better."
Draco nodded, but said nothing; he didn't think he could manage to say anything without breaking down completely.
They stood silently for a while, just watching the loop of the picture.
"Are you sure that you won't come for Christmas dinner with us?" Hermione asked. "We'll all miss you."
Draco shook his head. "I can't. It will be too much like last year and…not the same without him." There was a fine tremble in his voice. He continued in a whisper. "And mother is expecting me." Harry had given her back to him and he wasn't going to forget that or let her go again.
Hermione leaned up and kissed his cheek. "All right. Look after yourself, Draco. We all love you, don't forget that."
He pulled her in for a hug, throat suddenly full. "I won't." He stood there holding Hermione as the snow started falling around them. "Not sure how I'm supposed to go on without him yet," was all he managed to whisper, before Hermione pulled back and smiled at him.
"When you feel up to it, go and talk to Luna. You'll work it out. He loved you for a reason, you know, that had nothing to do with how gorgeous you are. He loved how strong you are, how much dignity you carried yourself with and how much you'd grown. He really respected you, Draco."
Nodding, he let her go home. It was hard to explain just how Harry's death had affected him and he'd be lying if he thought he was coping well. Maybe when he came back from France, he'd go and see Lovegood. Maybe, if, possibly, could…they all seemed directionless, which was how he felt these days, like losing Harry had suddenly taken his rudder away from him and he was helpless without him there as a reference point, as he had been in one way or another since they'd been eleven.
First, he needed his mother.
Well, he really needed Harry but his mother was his mother and in a category all her own.
He stood and again faced the window display of books, leaning forward and resting his forehead against the cold glass. He knew it didn't do to dwell on the past but it had only been a few months.
He had time. He had all the time in the world to make those memories things he could look at and remember without feeling lost and alone.