Disclaimer – Anything you don't recognise from canon is mine.
Warning – minor character death
Chapter 12 – Letting Him Win
Harry wouldn't sleep, pacing restlessly before the fireplace in their room until Snape eventually stunned him and tossed a vial of Dreamless Sleep down his throat.
'Now what?' Adele asked, gently pushing the hair back of Harry's face, wishing she could take away the frown that marred his face even in sleep.
'Albus has gone to the Ministry building in Montreal. He's trying to get the Canadians to allow several dozen Aurors to Portkey over before morning. Ashley's preparing the others as best he can and you, my dear daughter, are going to sleep as you try and remove the anguished look from his face and let him sleep peacefully until the morning. Merlin knows he needs it.' Snape muttered, his own brow furrowed with concern.
Adele nodded. 'Tom Riddle will be there tomorrow, won't he?' She asked tremulously.
Snape could see the anxiousness written clearly across her face. 'I would presume so.' He answered quietly.
'Do you think...Can he...Riddle won't...'
Snape clutched her shoulder tightly. 'I won't let anything happen to him, Dela.'
'I know.' She whispered.
Snape cupped her cheek. 'Your mother would be so proud of you.' He murmured.
Adele smiled and kicked off her shoes, shrugging out of her robe before lying down beside Harry and pulling him into her arms. 'It's alright, Harry. We're all here for you. We won't let you do this alone no matter what you say.' She whispered placing a tender kiss on his cheek as she carded her fingers through his hair.
Snape watched silently until almost ten minutes later when Harry finally relaxed and the frown that had marred his face faded. With a nod to Adele and a whispered plea for her too to get some rest; he swept from the room, closing the door softly behind him.
The Dreamless Sleep was a few hours shy of its usual potency and the sun was just peaking up over the horizon as Harry slid silently from the bed. He didn't look back at the still sleeping Adele as he dressed and slipped noiselessly from the room.
A vampire might have had excessively acute hearing but they were also incredibly stealthy and there was no other sounds of movement as Harry stole through the hallways and down the stairs. He was just crossing the main entrance hall when...
'Harry, dear boy, don't do this.'
The headmaster's pleading voice startled him causing Harry to let out a yelp. 'H...how?' He gasped. Had the headmaster been standing there all night waiting for him?
Dumbledore gifted him a wry smile. 'I know you so much better than you think, Harry.' He chuckled softly.
Harry rolled his eyes. 'Say whatever it is you have to say, Albus and then let me go.'
Dumbledore's expression became pained and he crossed the few steps to place his hands on Harry's shoulders. 'Harry, please, explain it to me. Tell me why you must do this on your own, I just can't understand it. Help me to understand, dear boy.'
Harry stared into the blue eyes that were full of tears. 'You're scared.' He whispered incredulously, his own eyes widening at the thought of Albus Dumbledore being scared of anything.
'Yes.' Dumbledore murmured. 'I cannot bear the thought of losing you, Harry. And I know that is exactly what will happen if you insist on doing this on your own.'
'I can't put them in danger, Albus. I have no right to ask that of them.'
'But you're not asking them, Harry. They are willingly going.'
'Albus, we've been over this before.' Harry sighed heavily, shaking his head. 'I don't want them going. This isn't just about the clan now, this is about my fight with Tom Riddle.'
'And as you are the Genus of the Clan of Klamath, it involves all of us.' Ashley spoke up from behind Harry and the Boy-Who-Lived whipped around, a hand raised and a hex on his lips.
'What have I told you about sneaking up on me.' He growled.
Ashley's lips twitched as did Snape's who was standing next to him. 'My apologies, Dominus. I did not mean to startle you.'
Harry relaxed and dropped his hand.
'You're as paranoid as Moody, Potter.' Snape snorted.
Harry raised an eyebrow in a gesture eerily reminiscent of the man smirking at him. 'Better paranoid then dead.' He said bluntly.
Snape visibly stifled a laugh. 'Touché.'
Harry shook his head in disbelief. They were about to fight for their very lives and they were all joking and laughing. 'What the hell is wrong with you all? Don't you realise what is going to happen today?' He cried.
Snape folded his arms across his chest and raised an eyebrow. 'Just what is going to happen today, Harry? It looked to me as if you were about to wander into the Cellatin compound on your own and expect to live long enough to kill the Dark Lord.' Snape said in a tone that clearly stated he thought the task impossible. 'Fight off more than a hundred Vampires and Merlin only knows how many Death Eaters and still be strong enough to take on the darkest wizard of the age.' Snape's eyebrow rose further. 'I am mistaken aren't I, Harry. Surely you're not still that much of a Gryffindor. I thought you knew better by now.'
Harry's eyes glittered furiously and he seemed to grow taller before their eyes. 'Do not question me, Snape. I know what I'm doing.' He hissed.
This time Snape did laugh. 'Ha, you're an idiot, Potter. You have no idea of what you're doing.' He sneered.
The sword appeared in Harry's hand in milliseconds and the same amount of time later it was resting menacingly against Snape's throat. 'I beg your pardon?' Harry breathed, his entire body shaking in anger.
Snape's eyes glittered dangerously in return, even as Ashley and Albus stared between the two men in horror. 'One hundred vampires, one hundred Death Eaters, the Dark Lord ...and you, Potter.' Snape said slowly. 'Those are odds even the most addicted gambler would refuse.'
Harry just stared unblinking at the older wizard for several long minutes as Snape decided to go on.
'Harry, if you do this, insist on going to do this on your own, do you have any idea of what would happen to the clan and the rest of the wizarding world in the aftermath? What would happen to Dela? You cannot win on your own. It matters not how powerful you are, or how fast you are. You cannot protect yourself from everybody all of the time. If you don't let us help, you will only be prolonging our deaths as they will happen sooner or later. Sooner, rather than later, I imagine. Please, Harry, listen to your head instead of your heart for a change. I know there is Slytherin in you, please just let it rule you this once.' Snape added in a slightly pleading voice.
Harry remained motionless for several moments before his eyes narrowed and he nodded.
'Fine.' He whispered banishing the sword with no discernable movement. Snape sighed gently.
Harry looked around at the three men as Albus placed a hand on his arm. 'Now what?'
It was Albus who spoke. 'Now, we plan.' He said cheerfully. 'Come on, everybody's waiting.' He added, tugging Harry gently by the elbow towards the dining hall.
Harry's eyes widened. 'Who's waiting?' He asked curiously.
Dumbledore smiled and threw open the door to reveal most of the Order and practically ever Auror employed with the British Ministry of Magic. Also arrayed around the room were several dozen of whom Harry could only surmise to be Canadian Aurors. Everyone was milling around, cups of tea and coffee being held loosely as they talked softly about the upcoming battle.
The talking stopped when Harry walked in.
'Hey Harry.' Bill and Charlie Weasley came over and shook his hand.
'Thanks for coming.' Harry replied gratefully. 'Particularly at such short notice.'
'There was never any doubt, Harry.' Arthur assured him as the rest of the Weasley family joined them.
Harry glanced around the room. 'Ron and Hermione aren't here, are they?'
Arthur shook his head as Fred and George rolled their eyes dramatically.
'They wanted to-' Said Fred.
'-But we said-' Cut in George.
'Mum stunned them both-'
'-To keep them at home.' The Twins finished together.
Harry stared between them as his brain quickly went over what they had said and sighed in relief. 'Well that's two less people I have to worry about then.' He muttered, only to earn himself a smack across the side of his head from Adele who had snuck up beside him.
'Oww.' Harry growled, rubbing his head.
Adele just raised an eyebrow at him, before tugging him towards the head of the table. It seemed to be a signal of sorts as those in the room also spread out around the suddenly longer table and sat down; looking expectantly back at Harry.
Harry glanced at Adele who nodded at him encouragingly but just as he opened his mouth to speak there came a soft knock at the door. It opened a moment later to reveal the rest of the elders of the clan and most of the Vampires who had been at the gathering the evening before. Harry's eyes widened as the over eighty strong group filed into the room.
The Aurors and Order members must have been expecting this as none seemed surprised the see the others, however the same could not be said for the clan members who starred in surprise at the rest of the group, especially the British Aurors in their blue robes. Harry waited until they had filled the room before beginning.
'I'd like to thank you all for coming.' He said loudly and clearly. 'Something was revealed yesterday after the meeting that unfortunately concerns us all. As the bodies of the Cellatin spies were being disposed of last night something rather disturbing was found. Each of the five carried the mark of Lord Voldemort branded clearly on their forearm.' Whispers broke out around the room as those from the UK shuddered at the Dark Lord's name and the Vampires growled softly at the thought of any of their kind joining such a madman.
Harry waited for the noise to die down before continuing. 'As some of you are aware, an ultimatum was delivered last night to Darian Cellatin. At the time it was given I was unaware of the affiliations of the Cellatin Clan. Now that the situation is clear I can state quite assuredly that when we pay our visit to the Cellatin compound today Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort, will also be there.'
The Aurors around the room nodded in understanding as the Vampires just stared back at him in silence. 'This is the final battle between me and Riddle as has been foretold; of that I have no doubt, but I need your assistance. I want no one needlessly risking their lives today but I need some of you to help me get to Riddle and look out for me long enough to enable me to destroy him.'
'We've got your back, Harry.' Kingsley Shacklebolt called out from across the room and Harry smiled gratefully.
'What of Darian Cellatin and his clan?' Christian questioned.
Harry's eyes darkened and his expression became icy. When he spoke it was as if the very temperature in the room dropped several degrees. 'By allowing such a mark to be burned on their skin they have disregarded the rules of the Ancients. Vampires bow to no one except their clan, and in agreeing to follow one such as Voldemort their very lives are forfeit. They can no longer be trusted and the ultimatum given last night has been declared void. No member of the Clan of Cellatin is to see another sunset. So it has been spoken, so it will be done.' He finished quietly.
'SO IT WILL BE DONE.' Every Vampire in the room repeated after him startling the witches and wizards around them. Those that knew Harry well, Dumbledore, the Weasley's, the Order members, were gaping in astonishment at him, none having even an inkling that the Boy-Who-Lived was capable of ordering the deaths of almost a hundred people without batting an eyelash. Only Snape and Adele seemed to understand.
'They are not his family, Albus.' The potions master murmured when he saw the elderly wizard open his mouth to speak.
Harry nodded sagely as the Vampires all bowed as one. 'Thank you.' He said softly. 'Let's begin.'
Harry all but stalked towards the gates to the compound that protected the Cellatin Clan, in a remarkable likeness to his father in law. Snape followed his eyes full of pride at the strength and certainty the young man was showing as he swept up the long paved driveway, the large group of Aurors, Vampires and Order members following.
Harry stopped into front of the enormous iron gates. This was it. The day he had been born for. In that moment he wished Adele had been by his side. He had asked her to stay behind in not so many words.
'I could order you to remain.' He had whispered softly as he tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear. 'But I won't. I will trust you to make the right decision in spite of your wish to choose otherwise.'
Adele had stared into the vivid green eyes as her father and Dumbledore had shifted nervously nearby. Both men knew she would undoubtedly insist on going with them, so they were stunned when she leant up and kissed him softly.
'I will be waiting by the door for you to return.' She whispered in return before hurrying from the room.
They had left shortly thereafter.
As if knowing what Harry was thinking Snape placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed, gently shaking the Boy-Who-Lived from his reverie. Harry turned; catching the eyes of those closest to him. 'Be careful, please.' He begged quietly. Snape, Dumbledore and the other Aurors and Order members nodded in reply before they all moved to the back of the group and after donning invisibility cloaks as Harry turned and stepped forward to the open gates.
'In the name of the Ancients I demand entrance.' Harry called loudly.
Without any sign of movement from inside the two huge gates swung back.
Partway down the path were a group of six Cellatin vampires. 'We have been expecting you, Genus of Klamath.' The oldest looking one spoke up. 'We didn't expect such a large party.' He added looking at the large group that was pouring through the still open gates behind Harry.
'I would imagine not, however, they have accompanied me as entitled to under the Rules and no more should be said.'
The Vampires exchanged glances before finally the eldest nodded. 'If you would follow us, our lord awaits.'
'Three guesses as to which one, and the first two don't count' Harry growled startling the group. 'Never mind.' He added gesturing impatiently to move on. Ashley snorted loudly but didn't speak as the six began leading the group, eighty strong, through the corridors of the exceedingly large house.
Harry nodded to Ashley who moved backwards through the ranks and by the time they reached what Harry could only assume to be a large ballroom, going by the carved designs around the doors, the group was lighter by more than forty as half the Vampires had branched off in groups of five at various points to, as Harry put it, flush out any Cellatin not already waiting with Darian and Riddle for them to arrive.
Just as the Vampire leading them reached out to open the door Harry felt his scar twinge and knew he had guessed correctly.
Without ceremony he flicked a finger at the doors causing them to fly open, slamming back against the wall but it didn't startle the occupants within. Harry didn't care as he stalked forwards, mindless of the searing pain in his head as his eyes burned angrily at the sight of Tom Riddle and who could only be Darian Cellatin sitting side by side at the top of the hall.
'Ah Harry, so nice of you to finally join us.' Riddle hissed.
Harry folded his arms over his chest and glared.
Riddle ignored it. 'I was just telling Darian here that the last place I expected to see you was Canada and then, suddenly, here you are.'
'You're full of shit, Tom.'
Harry deftly sidestepped the steaming red curse allowing it to hit the ground beside and behind him with a sharp crack. Riddle raised his wand again, a ready curse on his lips when Harry spoke.
'You do realise you've cost them their existence, don't you, Tom?' Harry questioned, raising an eyebrow. 'What could you have possibly offered them to make them turn from the old ways? Untold wealth? Unheard of power? As much blood as they could drink?' He added sarcastically.
Tom Riddle rose and moved to stand only feet from the Boy-Who-Lived, his red eyes piercing Harry where he stood. Harry struggled not to step back when the pain caused by the proximity of the Dark Lord exploded causing him to see stars.
Riddle smiled maliciously. 'Oh no, Harry. I offered them so much more than that.' He hissed sibilantly. 'I offered them the blood of the strongest wizard in the world.'
Harry's eyebrow rose further but was he completely unprepared for the next words out of Riddle's mouth.
'I offered them the blood of the Genus of the Clan of Klamath.'
Harry froze. 'Excuse me?'
Riddle reached out towards Harry and the young man stepped back even further from the Dark Lord's reach. 'I offered them you, Harry.'
'I reiterate, excuse me?'
'You're dead, Harry. The prophecy was fulfilled the day you let that traitor's spawn Turn you. I have no reason to kill you any longer, but if your destruction will aid my allies, who am I to say no?' Riddle shrugged, a decidedly muggle action Harry never thought he'd see from the insane wizard.
Harry snorted softly. 'Oh, how bloody ironic.' He drawled, his small snickers quickly turning to full blown laughter.
Those in the room shifted nervously as the temperature rose in direct relation to Harry's mirth. Riddle glanced back at Darian who nodded and also rose, moving to stand beside the Dark Lord. Harry was still snorting softly to himself as he looked between the two men.
'Darian tells me there is no better aphrodisiac for a Vampire than the blood of a powerful wizard.' Riddle said conversationally once Harry had finally quieted.
'It also restores ones strength.' Darian added, a glint to his eyes that Harry really didn't like. The head of the Cellatin reached out towards Harry who saw the glint of metal in the man's hand and flicked his wrist, the sword instantly appearing in his hand and pointed at the vampire's throat. There was a scuffle around them as Vampire and Death Eater alike tried to restrain themselves from attacking.
'I think not.' Harry said succinctly, while wandlessly summoning the runic collar from the Vampire's hand and banishing it. 'Now, Genus Cellatin, while I do have a bone to pick with you, my first task is the half blood excuse for a Lord standing next to you.'
Riddle bristled and went to speak but Harry's words stopped him, green eyes bright with resolve. 'He may have decided I was no longer a threat but he still has to answer for his crimes against me and my family.' Harry's green eyes darkened so much they were almost black as his gaze turned to capture red eyes and the temperature in the room fell degree by chilling degree. 'And revenge is a dish best served very...very...cold.'
Darius immediately moved towards Harry in what was clearly a threat, in spite of the sword at his throat and Harry quickly ended it. His life, that is. 'I did warn him.' He said quietly as Darian Cellatin's head rolled across the floor and his body crumpled to the ground.
There was a scream from across the hall before chaos erupted.
It was almost as he had thought it would be. From the very moment he had found out about the prophecy Harry had known that the final battle would be brutal. However even he had been unprepared for the bloodbath that took place over the following three hours.
The Order members and Aurors had swarmed in shortly thereafter, Dumbledore and the others kept on at the Death Eaters, whose number slowly but surely began to diminish, and the Klamath all but tore the enormous house apart until every remaining Cellatin clansman had been found and eliminated.
Harry however, knew nothing of this. His attention was focused solely on the Dark Lord. Riddle continued taunting him as they dueled. He distantly realized Snape had been right about his ability to defend himself against others when several times he felt a curse singe his back only to find the caster downed moments later by Snape, Dumbledore or one of the Weasley's. He knew they were indeed watching his back and with that in mind he closed everything off and concentrated on the only task he had.
Riddle and Harry traded both curses and insult for more than three hours.
'Give up, Potter. You can't win.' Riddle hissed.
'I already am, Tom. I won the moment you cursed me as a baby.' Harry growled dodging the steaming hex that flew past and casting one of his own.
'You're nothing, Potter. These people think of you as nothing more than a tool.'
'You're wrong. They are here because they care for me.' Harry retorted.
'Even if you win, Harry, you will be nothing. You will have done your job and they will abandon you, just like your parents did.'
Harry saw red and the temperature in the room skyrocketed. 'My parents didn't abandon me. YOU KILLED THEM!' He bellowed, the curse coming off his palm in that moment was actually crackling; Riddle's eyes widened and in his stunned admiration of the boy's innate power he forgot to duck or shield. Not that it would have mattered. The curse flew across the room at such speed it was if it had apparated itself there.
The flaming ball of red light hit Riddle and an inhuman scream tore through the air around them as the Dark Lord staggered, clutching his wand in one hand and his head with the other. Harry waited, his eyes burning fiercely as Riddle recovered enough to look up, red eyes narrowed and a malicious sneer on his face.
'Look around you, Potter. Go on.' He hissed and Harry finally did, taking in the stunned looks of those remaining as they stared fearfully at the glowing Boy-Who-Lived. 'Even those who claim to care for you think you're a freak.'
This time it was Harry who screamed, not in pain, but in anger. 'I'M NOT A FREAK!' He bellowed, an enormous sword that was seemingly made of flames actually shooting from his hand to pierce Riddle's chest. Riddle's eyes rolled back in his head and his body was consumed by the flames before, moments later, it exploded, throwing Harry back several feet and showering all those closest in searing ash.
'HARRY!' Dumbledore cried, rushing forwards and gathering the young man in his arms. 'Harry, can you hear me? Say something.' The elderly wizard pleaded.
'I'm alright, Albus.' Harry whispered croakily, blinking as he tried to clear the spots dancing in front of his eyes. 'Help me.' He murmured as he struggled to stand. Snape hurried to help as well and before he knew it Harry was on his feet surveying the carnage that covered the floor, walls and even parts of the ceiling.
'Dear god.' He breathed.
'Dominus.' Ashley staggered up to them, a large gash in side bleeding profusely.
'Ashley, stand still.' Harry ordered, shrugging off the hands that held him as he placed his over the wound and murmured softly.
'Thank you.' The Vampire sighed as the bleeding stopped and the skin knit back together. Seeing this, Christian began sending over the other injured clansmen and one by one Harry healed them. Snape quickly moved between the Aurors and Order members doing the same.
It was more than an hour before all those injured had been healed. Dumbledore kept a watchful eye on Harry as he moved through the ranks of Vampires and continued healing those he could. He could see the boy was drained. He was sweating heavily and by the time they were close to finishing his hands had begun shaking erratically. The Canadian Aurors Portkeyed back to their Ministry, taking their seven dead and Harry's profuse thanks for their help, with them. The British Aurors went with them to floo back to London. Thankfully they hadn't lost any members.
'Well done, Harry.' Arthur Weasley said softly the Weasley family finally made it across the room. Harry saw the lost look in the man's eyes and glanced quickly at the remaining members of his surrogate family, his eyes finally landing on Charlie standing behind his father, Bill cradled in his arms, a large gash on his temple. Harry's eyes filled and he pushed past Arthur, a stricken expression on his face as he began casting charm after charm on the pale figure held protectively in the now eldest Weasley's arms.
'God, no. Bill, no.' He whispered, tears streaming down his cheeks leaving clear tracks through the blood and grime. 'Please Bill, wake up. You have to wake up.' He pleaded brokenly.
Snape crossed the few steps and wrapped an arm around Harry's shoulders, forcefully pulling him away from Bill and holding him close.
'I'm sorry, God, I'm so sorry.' Harry mumbled over and over into the potions master's robes.
'Harry...' Arthur began but stopped at a shake of Snape's head.
'Open.' The potions master said firmly, holding a vial to Harry's lips. The Boy-Who-Lived did as he was told and swallowed the Dreamless Sleep without protest. A minute later he slumped in Snape's arms and the man picked him up carefully.
'Take him, Severus.' Charlie said quietly. 'He can't cope with this now. Albus and Dad will make sure everything is done.'
Snape looked around him at the blood stained walls before his piercing black eyes landed on Ashley. 'Raze it. He wouldn't want it left standing.' He ordered.
Ashley nodded, sparing Harry a glance. 'I know.' He murmured bowing slightly before he, Kellin, and Christian quickly moved to do as Snape had requested.
'Go Severus.' Dumbledore's face contained an almost impossible combination of both sadness and relief. 'Dela will be waiting.'
Snape nodded curtly in response and, knowing the wards had fallen when Riddle had been destroyed, he quickly apparated off with a soft pop.
Harry stared out across the lake. The sun just setting over the horizon painting the snow covered ground a brilliant pink. He wrapped the thick cloak tighter around him as if to try and keep out the cold that Harry knew was coming from within.
A month had passed since Christmas.
A month since the destruction of the Dark Lord.
A month since the Light side lost more than thirty of their most loyal soldiers.
Not that they had been needed anymore. It seemed as if all of Tom Riddle's followers had been in Montreal that day and the Vampires of Klamath hadn't bothered distinguishing between Death Eater or Cellatin. To them, if it carried the Dark Mark, be it wizard or Vampire, it was to be eliminated.
The peace that had reigned throughout the United Kingdom over the following month had been unprecedented.
But too many had died; and that was something Harry just couldn't live with. Aside from Bill they had lost Kingsley and Moody, Flitwick, Emmaline Vance, Arabella Figg, Dieter and more than two dozen of the Clan.
Everyone told him not to blame himself. That it wasn't his fault. That he did his job and he had no control over anything else.
But Harry couldn't shake the feelings of guilt. The responsibility of so many deaths weighed on him to the point of breaking. He stopped eating or sleeping, he barely spoke, and his eyes contained a haunted look that never went away.
Dela tried to talk to him but Harry would barely respond, in the end she gave up trying such a direct route and instead just held him when he did finally sleep, soothing him when he woke up screaming only hours later.
At first Ron and Hermione wouldn't speak to Harry, upset that they hadn't been able to help as they had always swore they would, but after several weeks of watching Harry retreat further and further into himself at the deaths of Bill and the others, they quickly realized that it was probably better that they had stayed home where it was safe.
Eventually, after many late night discussions, Harry's closest friends and family decided something had to be done. Harry couldn't continue, couldn't live as he was. He was finally free and he couldn't bring himself to enjoy it.
It was the result of this final discussion that had the tall red headed figure walking the final feet across the school grounds to stop behind the trembling figure of the Boy-Who-Lived, reaching out and placing a gentle hand on the young man's shoulder.
Harry turned, glancing up before his eyes looked down again. 'Hey, Charlie.' He whispered.
They stood silently side by side for almost fifteen minutes before Charlie spoke again. 'Did Bill ever tell you how proud he was of you?' He asked quietly.
Harry turned away, back to the water. Arms held tightly around his body in an effort to stop the visible trembling.
'He wouldn't want you doing this to yourself, Harry.' Charlie said sadly.
Harry's head dropped and his shoulders hunched.
'He loved you, Harry. You were like a little brother to him.' Charlie insisted, trying to get through to the young man in front of him.
'Charlie, please don't.' Harry said quietly. 'I can't hear this right now.'
Charlie growled softly reaching out with both hands and grasping Harry's shoulders, spinning the young man to face him. 'Harry, stop it. Stop this wallowing in guilt.' He ordered shaking him angrily. 'You did what you had to and so did they. Every single person who died that day believed in you and in what you stood for. They knew they were helping to bring about a peace that many witches and wizards today have never seen, and they went there with their eyes wide open. They knew what might happen and they wanted to help. You're insulting their memories, the memory of what they sacrificed by believing yourself to be responsible for their deaths.' Charlie ranted staring into Harry's dull eyes. He took in the pale drawn face and both his expression and his tone softened.
'Bill and Kingsley and the others would roll over in their graves if they could see you now. All Bill wanted was for you to live, Harry. He wanted you to fall in love, get married, have children. Learn to enjoy what life really was. He was so happy once you found Dela. All of us were. Bill knew more about you then you thought though. He watched you after the Tri-Wizard Tournament, after Sirius died, and he knew you wouldn't go on with your life until Riddle was destroyed. His only hope was that once Riddle was gone you'd be able to grow and live and love. Do you think it's fair to him to keep blaming yourself? Do you think it's fair to anyone that died that day?'
A single tear rolled down Harry's cheek. It was the first emotion of any kind Harry had shown outside his nightmares since the final battle.
Charlie tried a different tack. 'Harry, if you keep going like this, you let Him win. For every day you blame yourself, for every life you feel guilt over, he wins. Riddle was an evil bastard, Harry. He destroyed so many lives. Please don't let him destroy yours too.'
Another tear fell and then Harry's face screwed up into such an expression of pain. 'Charlie.' He gasped and the now eldest Weasley stepped forward and pulled the young man tightly to him.
'It's alright, Harry. Let it out, don't let Him win. Don't give him such power over you anymore.' Charlie murmured rubbing Harry's back gently.
Harry let out a choked cry as his knees buckled under him but Charlie held him upright as painful sobs tore from his throat. 'I'm sorry.' Harry cried.
'You have nothing to be sorry for, Harry.' Charlie said gently.
Harry's gut wrenching cries echoed across the grounds as the sun finally sank over the horizon. Up in Dumbledore's office several people stared down at the embracing figures and smiled.
'Alastor Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Arabella Figg, Dieter Carvan, Filius Flitwick,' One by one, the names of those who had fallen that day were read out. 'And William Weasley. These people are my heroes. They all fought for what we now enjoy and we should remember them. Each was a father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister and there are people left behind that mourn them. But I ask you not to remember them in death, but in celebration of their lives. Remember what each one gave to you, what they meant to you and think of how your lives would have been just that little bit emptier for not having known them.'
Harry looked out across the hall, seeing the Order members and their families, the clansmen of Klamath and others who had fought alongside him that day. He could see many with tears in their eyes, sad expressions on their faces but he didn't give up.
'I ask you now to smile, think of a happy memory of someone who was lost and then turn to your neighbor and share it with them. The memories of these people will remain with us always and they will only grow as we share them with one another. I know they are all looking down at us now so let's show them just how much they meant to us. Let's celebrate all the joy they brought to our lives and show them that while they might be gone, they are certainly not forgotten.'
Harry waited in silence for several moments before he saw Mrs. Weasley's face break out in a fond smile and turn around in her seat to face Minerva McGonagall. 'Did I ever tell you about the time my Bill went on his first date?'
Her voice started many others into action and soon the hall was full of noise and laughter and Harry finally smiled and hung his head, letting out a relieved sighed.
'Well done, dear boy.' Albus said softly placing a hand on Harry's shoulder and squeezing gently.
Harry looked up, his green eyes now shining vividly. He looked around at his family, Adele and Snape, Albus, Ron and Hermione and smiled.
'I'm sorry for worrying you all.' He said sincerely. 'Thank you for persevering with me.'
Albus beamed at him. 'Think nothing of it, dear boy. You're worth the effort.'
'Always have been.' Snape offered, causing Harry to raise an eyebrow.
'Always?' He drawled.
Snape's mouth twitched. 'Always.' He confirmed.
'Hey Harry.' Ron piped up. 'Did I ever tell you about the time Bill caught Fred and George trying to hex everything in his wardrobe with an itching curse and he turned both their skin green for a month?'
Harry snorted. 'You're kidding.'
'Nope.' Ron grinned wickedly. 'He shrunk them too. They were about four feet tall for weeks and Bill refused to tell mum and dad how to change them back. They looked like some demented Christmas elves.' Harry's eyes widened and he burst out laughing. The others exchanged small smiles before they too joined in. Harry, and the rest of the wizarding world, was finally moving on.