Harry was taken back to Hogwarts along with the others, where Madam Pomfrey and several medical specialists from St. Mungo's were awaiting them.. Daphne was placed in a bed and privacy screens were erected around her. Hermione was also placed in a private area, while Harry, Neville and Tracey were all examined.
Harry was made to drink several potions, and ordered to lie back and rest. He couldn't do it. He kept looking over to where he knew Daphne was lying, hoping that she would be okay, and hating himself for what had happened.
He had nearly lost her tonight. She had come to help him, and had gotten hurt quite badly, as had Hermione. In fact, they all had been wounded in some way. And Ron. Ron had actually died. The red head who had been Harry's best friend for so long, had sacrificed himself to save him.
Madam Pomfrey fussed over him a bit and made him take a few potions before bustling over to assist the St. Mungo's volunteers. He stared at the screens that hid his girlfriend, wondering if she was going to be okay, or if she would hate him for what had befallen her.
An hour passed that way. Harry simply staring towards where Daphne lay, trying his best not to think about all that had befallen him and his friends that evening. Occasionally, Harry would look at the other beds where Neville or Tracey lay. The blonde Slytherin girl had fallen asleep not long after they got back, while Harry could see Neville staring at the ceiling, whispering to himself.
The doors to the Hospital wing opened and four Aurors walked in, heading straight for Umbridge's bed. One of them, Harry recognized as Kingsley Shacklebolt. A tall imposing woman followed a few moments later and joined them.
Harry was relieved to see Madam Bones was unharmed after the events of the evening. Umbridge stirred, and sat up. Harry guessed Madam Pomfrey had healed her leg a while ago. Her pouchy eyes bulged as the Aurors pointed their wands at her.
"What is the meaning of this?" She asked, in that disgustingly sweet voice she used. Harry felt his stomach turn at the sound.
"Undersecretary, Dolores Jane Umbridge. You are under arrest for the use of the Cruciatus Curse. You are to be taken to Azkaban to await trial." Madam Bones spoke clearly, while glaring at the fat little woman.
"Is this some kind of joke?" Umbridge chuckled, but Madam Bones and the Aurors did not even smile.
"YOU!" Umbridge turned her hate filled eyes at Harry. "You've been telling more of your lies. You're not going to get rid of me, boy. I'll not be facing the Dementors!" She moved swiftly, launching herself out of bed, and ran at Harry, her fat little fingers spread to grip at his throat.
She only made it a step or two before Kingsley tripped her. Umbridge fell flat on the floor, screaming with rage.
"I'm going to get you Potter. I'll make everyone see what a nasty little lying murdering bastard you are! I'm stronger than you, boy, and I will have my revenge!"
Umbridge was suddenly glowing red for a split second as a stunning spell hit her in the back of the head. The hospital wing fell into silence, and Harry saw nearly everyone was staring at the limp form of the High Inquisitor, as the Aurors collected her off the floor.
"Take her away gentlemen." Madam Bones sighed. She turned to Harry and in a few steps was at his bedside. "Mister Potter, I was asked not to speak to you by Dumbledore, but I feel I need to inform you of some things that will likely happen in the next few days. You and your friends will be questioned about tonight's events, as well as events that took place during this year, in regards to your former Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher."
"Fine." Harry said, his voice hoarse and soft.
"Harry, what you six did tonight is something amazing. You should be proud."
"I'm sorry, Madam Bones, but I just lost my best friend. I'm as far from proud as I can be." Harry shook his head.
"I'm sorry. I suppose that was very insensitive of me. Even so, you killed two of them. One of which was easily the most dangerous of all of You-Know-Who's followers. I know for a fact that your Godfather is very proud of what you managed to accomplish tonight."
Harry looked up quickly at the casual mention of Sirius. Madam bones winked at Harry. "He told me so himself when I took him home. I promise you this, I will not rest until he is free."
She offered her hand and Harry, head spinning at the revelation, shook it. She gave her condolences regarding Ron, and left, presumably to make sure Umbridge made it to Azkaban.
A few seconds later, Madam Pomfrey came by him again, muttering about loud mouthed toads disturbing her patients as she forced him to take a dreamless sleep potion.
"I don't want it." Harry protested.
"Mister Potter, I know that you are worried about your friends, but if you do not take this, then I will have to stun you, and I do not wish to do that, so please do not force me to take more drastic measures."
Harry sighed, and took the potion. Other than Professor McGonagall, Madam Pomfrey was the only adult who could ever truly frighten him. After he swallowed the thick liquid, the matron forced him to lie down, and he fell into a deep sleep.
The next morning, Harry awoke as the sun warmed his body. There was the smallest moment of confusion as he stared up at the ceiling, and then everything came flooding into his mind. He sat up quickly, and found his glasses. Once he could see properly, he looked to Daphne's bed, which was still hidden behind Privacy screens, as was Hermione's. Both Neville and Tracey were all still there sleeping soundly.
Harry turned to see Astoria Greengrass sitting next to him. She looked tired, but still had a smile on her face. She offered him a glass of water which he took and drank down eagerly.
"What time is it?" He asked.
"Nearly nine in the morning. Looks like you guys had a very rough night." She said simply, looking to where her sister lay. Harry simply nodded, not trusting his voice at the moment as he followed her stare..
"She's going to be okay." Astoria said turning back to Harry. "She was awake a while ago, and all she wanted was to know where you were and how you were. Madam Pomfrey wouldn't let her get out of bed though. She's tougher than she looks, you know."
"She's ok?" Harry asked, and Astoria nodded. Relief washed over him at those words. Daphne was alive, and she was going to be ok. His heart beat a little faster, and he sighed, feeling some of the weight on his shoulders evaporate.
"It was a really bad hex, and she's going to be stuck in here until school is over, but she's going to be okay."
They fell silent for a few moments before Astoria broke it.
"I'm really sorry about Ron. It was in the paper this morning. They didn't give any details only that he was killed by Bellatrix LeStrange, and that Bellatrix was killed later, by Neville." Tears began to shimmer in the girl's eyes. "He wasn't really the nicest guy, and he said a lot of mean things to me, and my sister. But he was funny, and I think I'm going to really miss him. Does that even make sense?"
Harry shrugged slightly. "I wish you had the chance to really get to know him, because he could be a really good friend. He was a really good friend. One of my first friends ever."
She reached over and took Harry's hand in hers. Harry looked at her, and she stared back at him. She got up from her seat and engulfed Harry in a strong embrace. At first, Harry felt awkward. He and Astoria had never been physical in their friendship, but it was as if the younger girl knew he just needed someone to hold him for only a moment. She clutched at his shoulders, and Harry found himself melting into the girls embrace. The tears came hard, and Harry was sobbing, while Astoria held him tightly.
She said nothing, and just let him cry. She knew that there was nothing to say, or to do except be a friend to him now, just as he'd been to her all year. After a bit, Harry got himself together, and pulled away from Astoria, who smiled encouragingly.
"I know that I'm not that close to you, but you've been really nice to me all year. More than that, you've made my sister incredibly happy. If you need someone to talk to, no matter what it is, even if I won't understand, I can listen."
"Thank you." Harry tried to smile, but he couldn't manage it. Astoria stood up, straightening her robes a bit. She gave one last sympathetic look and left him.
That afternoon, he was released from the Hospital wing, and told that he should go to the Headmaster's office. He walked slowly, not sure what he expected. He was puzzled why he should go to the Headmaster's office, as he had seen Umbridge taken away the night before, not to mention the fact that the Headmaster's office had sealed itself after Dumbledore had left.
When he got to the Stone gargoyle, he was surprised when it jumped aside before he spoke. More confused now, Harry climbed the spiral staircase to the door, where he knocked softly.
Harry thought he'd lost his mind, but opened the door to see that Professor Dumbledore was sitting behind his desk once again.
"Harry!" a sobbing Mrs. Weasley engulfed him in a firm loving hug. The emotions he'd been suppressing came to the surface again, and his eyes stung with new tears. He looked over the woman's shoulder and saw that Mr. Weasley was standing, with Ginny in his arms. Her face was flushed and tear stained, while the Twins stood looking terribly morose.
"I'm so sorry." Harry sobbed. "I never meant for him to…I tried to make them stay behind.
"There is no way in this world that Ron would have let you go there by yourself." Ginny said thickly.
"She's right Harry." Mr. Weasley nodded. We taught him to always stick by family. There is nothing more important or worth fighting for than the people you love. And Ron loved you as a brother."
"He didn't really know how to express his feelings, but I know that your friendship he treasured above anything else." Mrs. Weasley added through her sobs. "We all love you Harry, and we know it wasn't your fault. We all wanted you to know how much we care for you, and that you are not to blame for this."
She held him at arms length so she could look him in the eye as she spoke. It only made Harry feel worse. He knew they were only saying those things to him because they didn't want him to feel bad, but Harry knew that it was his fault that Ron was dead. He had led them into that nightmare, and Ron had paid the highest price for Harry's folly.
"Come on, Molly, we have a lot to do." Mr. Weasley said, taking his wife by the arms. "We'll be laying Ron to rest in the orchard by our home, Harry. It was one of his most favorite places on earth."
Harry could only nod as Mr. Weasley gave a weak smile, then led his wife out of Dumbledore's office, followed by Ginny, who hugged him tightly.
"I know that you don't believe us, but it's true, we all know it wasn't your fault. Don't let this eat you up. Ron would be so angry if you did." She whispered. She then placed a soft kiss on his cheek and followed her parents.
Harry hiccupped, trying to settle himself again. He turned to see that Fred and George were now standing before him. Fred and George were rarely seen without some kind of smile, but at the moment, there wasn't a hint of humor on their identical faces. In fact, looking at them now, Harry hated what he saw. Something he never imagined he would ever see on the pranksters faces. Regret.
"We never got the chance to tell him that we …" Fred started, but turned away.
"The thing is, we were never truly very nice to him. He was our first test subject." George admitted. "We picked on him constantly. We knew that he had low self esteem and we exploited it as often as we could."
"But we never hated him." Fred said, turning back to face Harry. "And now, he'll never know that."
"You gave him something to be proud of, Harry." George said sincerely. "Something we should have done."
"You were a better brother to him, than we were, and for that, we can never thank you enough."
Harry's heart broke again. He had been allowing the guilt over what happen consume him, but it was at that moment, that Fred and George's overshadowed his own. Harry couldn't even imagine what the twins, who were never spiteful people, in his eyes, might be feeling over losing their younger brother whom they had spent years tormenting for laughs.
Harry knew that Ron looked up to all his brothers, and had a particular soft spot for Charlie, but always spoke fondly of Fred and George, even when he was complaining about them. Despite their constantly taking the mickey out of him, Harry knew that Ron could always count on them no matter what.
"I think he knew." Harry found himself saying.
Fred and George nodded softly before they each gave Harry a pat on the back and left Harry alone with the Headmaster, who looked as if he were fighting his own tears. He motioned for Harry to take a seat in front of the desk, and wiped at his eyes with a handkerchief.
"My deepest sorrows to you Harry. Ron Weasley was truly a unique individual. A faithful friend, who did what many often promise to do for those they care for. His sacrifice will be remembered through history, if I have any say in the matter."
Harry said nothing, but stared at Dumbledore's desk. Dumbledore got up and went to the cabinet to retrieve his pensieve. He set it down on the desk and took his seat again.
"First, I would like to tell you that the events of last evening have done irreparable damage to Minister Fudge, and the Ministry in general. It is doubtful that he will last the month as Minister of Magic, and between you and I, that could be a very good thing."
Harry felt himself smile a bit at hat, but it faded almost instantly. Dumbledore then steepled his fingers as he leaned forward.
"Now for the difficult part. Harry, it is my fault that all of this happened to you and your friends. I know that you are very likely blaming yourself for all that happened, but the blame lies solely with me. Had I done what should have been done, then things might not have happened as they did."
"What do you mean?" Harry asked, looking into the tired face of the Headmaster.
"Harry, I could have easily taken you to the Department of Mysteries and had you take the prophecy so that we might hide it, or even destroy it, as you did tonight. But I feared the inevitable questions you would have asked. Questions you have asked me on several occasions. I only wanted for you to have a happy childhood. Something I failed at long ago, but was to stubborn to admit to."
Harry cocked his head now, truly puzzled by what he was hearing. Dumbledore sighed deeply, steeling himself for what he was about to admit to.
"I placed you with your relatives because of an ancient magic your mother invoked the night she sacrificed herself to save you. A deep and powerful magic. It is the reason you must return to Privet Drive every summer." He said, keeping his eyes locked with Harry's Harry said nothing, simply waiting for it all to be revealed, and knowing he was not going to like what he was about to hear.
"It was my sincerest hope that your relatives would treat you as they did their own child. I thought they would raise you with love, and kindness. I should have taken a stronger hand in your upbringing. At the very least checking on you from time to time, but in my flawed wisdom, I felt it was best for you to not know of the wizarding world until it were time for you to rejoin it. I felt that you would be best served staying far away from the fame that defeating the Dark Lord brought, especially as you would have no recollection of the event itself."
"You were probably right on that, sir." Harry offered. He hated his fame, as it had brought him nothing but trouble since he'd come to Hogwarts.
"When you came to Hogwarts, I began observing you, and found that, despite your awful home life, were becoming a remarkable young man. Kind, generous, eager to prove yourself, and truly humble. I was very impressed, especially at your resourcefulness. What you and your three friends did to protect the Philosopher's stone was nothing short of amazing. I was truly proud of you all.
"You faced Voldemort, and had emerged victorious. It was then that I had a decision to make. To share with you all I knew, or try to protect you from the burden. I chose wrongly that night. I was still convinced t you had a chance to have a somewhat typical childhood. Yet, Your second year, you managed to find yourself in the middle of a conspiracy designed to ruin the school. Once again you acted beyond your years and saved not only young Miss Weasley, but the school as well. Then the next year, you learned of the existence of your godfather, and saved him from losing his very soul. Each and Every year, you proved over and over again that not only were you ready for the knowledge, but you had earned the right to the truth, but I was now entrapped by what I had feared all along. I had grown to care for you, Harry, and I wanted to protect you, much the same way as Mrs. Weasley wishes to protect her children from the horrors of what is to come.
"But last year, is when I failed you worst of all. Last year you were entered into the Tri-Wizard tournament against your will, and once again you proved, not only to me, but much of our world what a strong, and amazing young man you were. I should have stepped in then and begun what I should have since the day you stepped through our doors. I should have rained you myself."
Dumbledore gave another weighty sigh, and Harry knew they had arrived at it at last.
"I have known all along what was in the prophecy, because I was there when it was first made. Before you were born, I was interviewing a teacher to fill the position of Divination. That candidate was rather unimpressive, until, just before I was going to leave, she went into a trance of sorts and made a real prediction."
"Trelawney." Harry muttered, realizing who Dumbledore was speaking about.
"Indeed." Dumbledore nodded. Dumbledore waved his wand, and his stone Pensieve floated from it's resting place to his desk. With another wave, a small likeness of Professor Trelawney appeared and in a very gravely, ethereal voice spoke.
"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… and 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…"
Dumbledore waved his wand a third time and he sat staring at Harry who had suddenly got up and began pacing. Dumbledore could feel the air in the office ripple with energy. Harry's fists clenched and unclenched.
"I do not ask forgiveness, because all I did was out of concern for you. I made many mistakes, but I aim to rectify them all."
"You knew." Harry hissed, and Dumbledore nodded slowly.
"You knew. All this time you knew. I asked you in my first year, and you refused to tell me. RON IS DEAD BECAUSE OF YOU!" Harry shouted, and several glass jars exploded. Dumbledore hung his head sadly, refusing now to meet Harry's cold hard stare.
"It is true." Dumbledore said quite sadly.
"He trusted you. I trusted you. How could you do this to us? Did you even consider for a moment what might happen? If I had known, I would have avoided going to the Ministry."
"Harry, we both know that is a lie." Dumbledore said flatly. "You believed your Godfather, your family, to be in peril. There was no force on this earth that could have stopped you. You even snapped the wand of a Ministry official to get to Sirius. You would have fought all of Voldemort's forces to reach him. That is one of the things that makes you such a powerful enemy to Voldemort, though he does not yet realize it. Another is your friends."
Harry gave the Headmaster a very hard look, but Dumbledore shook his head.
"If Lord Voldemort had the respect and love from his followers that you have from your friends, he would have a most formidable army, and we would truly be unable to defeat him. It is their love for you, and you for them that makes you truly powerful. It is why he was unable to hold onto your mind last night. I do not know if you saw him when he emerged from you. He suffered greatly, and I believe he will begin employing Occlumency against you. I would be most surprised if he tried again to invade your mind."
Harry was feeling exhausted now. It had been a very emotional day for him, and he no longer had the energy to remain mad at the Headmaster. Especially now. As he looked at Dumbledore, who for so long had appeared as symbol of strength and wisdom. All he saw now was a man. A person who made grave errors in judgment, just as anyone else could. Dumbledore was no god. He was just a human being, just as Harry was.
That revelation did much to abate Harry's anger. In fat, it seem to crush him a bit more. His view of the world was crumbling around him, and he wasn't sure what he was supposed to do about any of it now.
"So what does it mean?" HArry asked. "Does it mean only I can kill him?"
"Prophecies are never black and white, and for the most part, should never betaken seriously. However, Voldemort took this one seriously, and set evens in motion that must now be fulfilled, if we are ever to be rid of him. That is why I should like to do what I should have done and begin training you. Starting this summer."
Harry looked up at Dumbledore's kind blue eyes.
"I never wanted you to have to face any of this, Harry. However it is clear that the only way it can end is if you and I figure it all out. Will you allow me to help you?"
Harry shook his head. As if he had any choice in the matter. If he wanted to defeat the Dark Lord, then of course he would accept Dumbledore's help. There was no other option.
"Will you promise to tell me everything I want to know, no matter how trivial or crucial, no matter what it is?"
"I owe you at least that, Harry. I swear on my magic that you shall know everything in this story, and I will also swear I will do everything in my power to teach you as much as I can to help you in the coming war."
Harry stood from his chair, and offered his hand to the aged Headmaster. Dumbledore gave another sad smile and shook the young man's offered hand.
"I think it would be good if you returned to your dormitory and got some rest, or perhaps, paid a visit to Miss Greengrass. We will have plenty of time to speak over the summer."
Harry knew he was being dismissed, and as much as he hated it, he wanted to get away from the older man right then. He was still angry, and more than a bit confused. As he descended the stairs, he thought about going to see Daphne, but his own guilt prevented him from doing so. There was so much going on in his head, he was certain that he would not have been good company for his girlfriend at the moment. Instead he returned to his dormitory, and avoiding the questions being thrown his way, went to his bed where he stayed the rest of the day.
On the final day of school, as students were heading to the carriages to board the Hogwarts Express back to London, a handful of students met in the Great Hall, all dressed in black. Their personal things had been sent home already, as they would not be riding the train home, but were to attend the funeral of their mutual friend, Ron Weasley.
Harry stood alone, apart from his friends, much as he had been doing for the last few days. He taken to hiding under his Invisibility cloak, and using the Marauder's map to avoid any interaction with his friends. He had been thinking deeply on matters ever since his meeting with Dumbledore, and had come to several conclusions.
For their safety, He told himself as he happen to glance at Hermione, who was sitting with Neville. She had been released from the hospital wing two days ago, and looked as good as ever. Her hair was done in a simple plait and she looked as if she hadn't been sleeping. She had dark circles under her eyes, and they were puffy as if she'd been crying a lot.
Neville looked just as tired as his girlfriend. He was paler than usual, and disturbingly calm. He looked at Harry once or twice, each time with questioning eyes, which hurt Harry badly.
Tracey stood fidgeting. She looked horribly uncomfortable, though she was dressed exquisitely. She looked a bit better rested than Hermione of Neville, but just as nauseous. Ron and Tracey had never been close, and it was almost a given that they never would be, but they had respected one another in the end. Harry was sure that Ron had even considered her a friend, though he had never said it.
"Here we are." Dumbledore said, escorting the last member of Harry's circle. The sight of her stung Harry the worst, for Daphne was the one person he had wanted to see the most, and had adamantly avoided. Daphne was moving very slowly, hanging on Dumbledore's arm. She looked pointedly At Harry, and he found himself coming to her side.
"Hi." He said softly. She looked at him, and gave a soft smile.
"I'm not mad." She said encouragingly. "I know why you've been avoiding us. I think if I was in your place, I might have done the same."
Her lack of anger cut him, and he inwardly cringed. She wasn't going to make this easy, he realized.
"For their safety" He repeated his mantra.
"This way." Dumbledore said, guiding them all to the fireplace. One by one they used the floo to the Burrow where Ron's funeral was to take place. Harry was the last of the teens to leave. As he stepped into the fireplace, he saw Dumbledore looking very disappointed at the younger man. Harry ignored it and called out his destination.
The Burrow had never looked so melancholy. Harry was greeted my Mr. Weasley who hugged him, something the man had never done to Harry. Mr. Weasley then told them that they would be the last ones arriving, and once Dumbledore appeared, they all walked slowly to the orchard where Ron was to be laid to rest.
Harry escorted Daphne, who was moving very slowly. He had heard that she would be taking restorative draughts most of the summer, and that she now had a very sinister scar that started at her left shoulder and cut diagonally down to her navel.
He avoided her eye as they walked, and she respected his silence.
There were about fifty or so mourners waiting for them, and when they all were seated, it was Dumbledore himself who performed the service. He spoke of Ron's courage and his loyalty to his friends. He then allowed for others to say a few words about Ron.
Not many people spoke. Mr. Weasley, Bill, and Charlie Weasley. Neville said a few words about Ron, and even Tracey stood up to say a bit about the Ron she had gotten to know over the past year.
However it was Fred and George's speech, and their act that made everyone cry. They laid a obnoxiously bright orange Chudley Cannons flag over the mahogany coffin after speaking of all the unforgivable things they had made their younger brother suffer through, and how they were more than proud to have been honor to even know Ron, much less be loved by him.
When they were finished, Dumbledore asked if anyone else wished to speak. Nearly as one, the entire congregation turned to Harry. Harry nodded, and rose from his seat, stepping to stand beside the coffin.
"I was fortunate enough to meet Ron Weasley on the train to school in our first year. He took the time to befriend a scrawny, somewhat ignorant boy who knew virtually nothing about the wizarding world." Harry took a long breath, trying to steady himself.
"Through Ron, I learned what I had been missing for most of my life. I knew what it meant to have a friend, and I learn about everything that could come along with it. Our friendship endured it all. We accepted each others faults, and encouraged the strengths we saw in each other, even when we couldn't see them ourselves.
"Ron showed me what it meant to be a part of something as special as family, and for that, for looking past my name and becoming my first best friend, I will be eternally grateful. I will miss you, my friend. My brother."
Harry went back to his seat, and Dumbledore rose from his own and stepped beside Ron's coffin. He swished his wand, and levitated the casket slowly. It floated gently to the grave that had been dug earlier, and with great care and reverence, set Ron's sarcophagus down. He then used his wand to cover it all, before conjuring a white headstone, which read
March 1, 1980 - June 14, 1996
Never will there be a truer hero, friend, or brother.
People began to disperse, many of them giving their condolences to the Weasleys. Harry rose from his seat, and looked to Dumbledore, who was going to be taking him back to Privet drive. The Headmaster raised his hand signaling that it would be a few moments. Harry sighed heavily, wanting desperately to leave as soon as possible. He was terribly afraid that id he spoke to anyone that his resolve might crack, and he just didn't want that. He had a plan, and he needed to stick to it.
"You spoke so well."
Harry felt his shoulders tighten. She was behind him now, as he suspected would happen.
"You owe it to her, at the very least. She deserves an explanation." His inner voice said. Harry wanted to argue, but knew that his inner voice was right. Daphne at least deserved to know. They all did, in truth, but her especially. Slowly he turned to face her.
She was as beautiful as ever, and it hurt him to look at her. Her dark hair was don in a simple ponytail, and her dress hugged her softly. He'd never seen her dressed so nicely. It was usually their uniform, with a bulky cloak over her. He had no idea how nice of a shape she truly had, at least until Christmas, when he'd seen her in jeans and a jumper. Then he had discovered just how blessed he was.
However, their relationship had never really hindered on physical intimacy, tough that part had always been nice. Theirs was something deeper. She understood him in ways he doubted any other girl could. Harry tried to clear his head, If he thought anymore on the subject, he would be unable to do what he felt he needed to.
"This isn't how I wanted to do this." He said, his voice grave. Daphne felt her skin erupt in gooseflesh.
"What are you talking about?"
"I can't see you anymore. This thing between us has to end. Now."
"Harry, I know you're upset, and with everything that happened…" Daphne started to say, tears brimming in her deep brown eyes. It tore at Harry's heart, and his insides began screaming for him to stop what he was doing.
"I won't let any of you do what Ron did. I won't anyone else die to protect me. I won't let him use any of you to get to me. I'm not worth it. It'll be better for everyone if you all went on with your lives, and forgot all about me."
"Harry stop it." Daphne pleaded. She was clutching at her chest, and she felt like the world had begun to spin. "You're upset, and I understand, but you're being stupid."
"I'm sorry, but it's better like this. You all deserve a chance at a real life, and you'll never have that so long as you hang around me. All I bring is pain, and death." Harry's eyes wandered to the gleaming white headstone of his best friend. "Good bye, Daphne."
Harry turned and began walking away from his now ex-girlfriend, his insides at war with his head. He hated to do it. He was sure he'd be miserable when he allowed himself to think of what he just gave up, but it was their only chance, her only chance. If he'd learned anything that night, it was that his enemy would use anything and anyone to get at him, and Harry would not allow that to happen again.
He didn't even look behind him as he came to Dumbledore's side, so he didn't see Daphne crumple to the ground, or Neville, Daphne and Tracey come to her side.
"Sir, I'd really like to go now." Harry said to Dumbledore, who looked at him gravely. Dumbledore looked as if he wished to say something, but Harry cut him off instantly.
"I know what you're going to say, Sir, and I've already thought about it all. It's the right thing to do, for the Greater good."
Dumbledore closed his eyes, and sighed. He had never realized in his whole life how ridiculous those words really sounded until he heard them come out of Harry Potter's mouth. He silently swore that he would find a way to make Harry see the error in what he'd just done.
Slowly and deliberately, Dumbledore offered his arm, to which Harry clasped and with a faint pop, they were gone.
Daphne watched as Harry took the Headmaster's arm and disappeared. Her heart broke into a thousand pieces as Harry vanished from her sight, and she fell into her best friend's arms and sobbed harder than she had ever done in all her life. In that very instant, Daphne Greengrass felt that she too, had died.
The End of the Beginning.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: You don't seriously think I'm going to leave it like that, do you?