He stumbled through the cheers, the cries of Harry, like one in a waking dream.

He was back home at Hogwarts. Where he belonged.

It wasn't home at all, without Ron and Hermione and, Harry realized, even Snape. Ministry officials and representatives had come to visit him. The disappearance of the Boy Who Lived had to set off some alarms, after all.

He didn't remember what he had said to them.

He'd have been talking about his experience right now and trying to make some sense of it with Ron and Hermione, but they were no longer here.

In Voldemort's captivity, Harry had almost forgotten about their deaths, pushed somewhere to where he didn't have to confront reality. He'd thought that he'd been about to die, so it didn't matter that much.

Right now, he hated Hogwarts. He hated the Owlery, the Quidditch pitch, the classrooms… everything.

He'd been hiding in the hospital wing all the time he'd been there, actually.

"Harry, you know that they wouldn't have wanted you to be like this."

"Shut up, Neville."

"I-I mean… you know. Ron and Hermione, they didn't give up their lives to have you-"

He hadn't finished the sentence. Harry's hex had just missed his head by a few inches.

"Harry, you can't stay in there forever."

Remus. So they'd even resorted to finding him to make Harry get up.

"Yes, I can." Maybe if he stayed there long enough, his wounds would heal and he'd be ready to face the world again. Maybe not.

"Go 'way, Professor."

He didn't hear Remus Lupin leave.

Good. Let someone else take care of Voldemort; let someone else be the hero. He just wanted everyone to leave him alone.




"What?" Then Harry registered his face. "What's happened?"

"It's Dumbledore."

What? But they were at Hogwarts, weren't they? There was no way for Death Eaters to-

"What happened?"

"It looks as though Lucius' son killed him and made a run for it." Lupin's face, so grim and devoid of hope.

"Malfoy?" He didn't believe it. Couldn't. There was no way that the boy who'd been his schoolboy rival, the bouncing ferret, could have killed Dumbledore… was there? Unless…

A conversation floated to the top of his mind again. Something that Voldemort had told him about Malfoy and a Vanishing Cabinet and why hadn't he remembered it until now?

His scar burned as though his forehead was about to combust in a flash of brilliant fire. He welcomed the feeling for once, because it meant that something was still familiar.

"Where are they?"

"Harry, you can't just get up. We need to guard you; there might be others who are hiding somewhere-"

"Let me go!"

They didn't, but Harry heard that Dumbledore's body had been found at the bottom of the Astronomy Tower.

He didn't get to see him again until the funeral.