For posterity's sake, I'd like to point out that the Harry/Hermione dancing scene in DH part 1 was possibly my least-favorite scene in that movie. Seriously, was I the only one who thought that was a really strange and misplaced attempt at interjecting happiness and light into a situation that was, inherently, supposed to be dark and mildly-depressing? It was almost as weird and uncomfortable as the locket scene for me, and that's saying a lot.

But the song they danced to? Utter brilliance. Whoever picked that song is a total, certified genius. And that's who this fic is for; that unknown genius (or geniuses) who chose "O Children".

Obviously, I'm not JK Rowling (well, I guess I could be and you would never know it, so you'll just have to take me at my word that I'm definitely not), so I don't own any of the characters mentioned, nor do I own the title/lyrics (those would be Nick Cave's, I guess, or whoever owns the rights). The song I am so smitten with is "O children", by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, by the way.

Hope y'all enjoy…

Here comes Frank and poor old Jim,
They're gathering round with all my friends.
We're older now, the light is dim.
And you are only just beginning…

Guilt gnawed at him constantly these days. Even as his wife told him to put it aside, to try and crack a smile now and then… well, they were in the middle of a war. He might have cursed his unborn child to his pariah's life, something he'd already cursed Dora with; he'd just been called a coward by his favorite former-student, and had to admit to himself that Harry had been right; and what was there to do now? He felt useless.

Had it really come down to this? How many fully-capable adult witches and wizards were there ready and willing to fight Voldemort, to finally eliminate the threat once and for all, and what were they doing? They were letting Harry and Ron and Hermione wander around alone in the wilderness, looking for some mysterious weapon; they were letting Ginny and Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood lead a student rebellion against Hogwarts' new Death Eater regime; they were letting ill-prepared teenagers shoulder the weight of the war, and it wasn't fair.

Poor old Jim's white as a ghost.
He's found the answer that was lost.
We're all weeping now, weeping because,
There ain't nothing we can do to protect you…

They were children; children who had seen more and done more than most, but children nonetheless. They should not have had to face such evil alone.

But then, there were so many things that were not as they should be; James and Lily should have been alive; Sirius should never have gone to Azkaban; Remus should never have been attacked by Greyback as a child; hate and hurt and betrayal and evil should never have touched any of their lives, but they had.

The thought had entered into his mind, every now and then, to run, to flee, to find safer shores elsewhere. If anywhere was safe… but the thought was always followed by another: that if he did run, if he did abandon his friends, his allies, his family, he would be no better than Wormtail. And he was better than Peter Pettigrew; that much, he knew for certain.

O children…

So he would not run. He could not run now. There was no turning back, and as much as he hated the idea, there was no protecting them anymore. He would help as much as he could, as he knew they all would, but the kids were on their own this time. He could only hope and pray they were strong enough.

Strong enough to defeat a tyrant. Strong enough to stop an army. Strong enough to save their world.

O children…
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice.
Rejoice, rejoice…

Strong enough to make it out alive.

Forgive us now for what we've done, It started out as a bit of fun.
Here, take these before we run away.
The keys to the gulag…

They called him a genius, all those years ago; a prodigy, possessor of one of the most brilliant minds ever known. They called him wise, and asked for his help. And he gave it freely, for a time, just as he had taken so eagerly what they offered in return.

A younger Albus Dumbledore would have taken the position they tried to hand to an older, more tempered version of himself. He'd have basted in the praise, and lost himself to temptation. They've never realized that; it is why they never understand his reasons for being content at Hogwarts. Doesn't he aspire to great heights? Doesn't he want to make the world a better place? They ask these questions without ever realizing that had anyone offered to make a teenaged Dumbledore the leader of the free Wizarding World in Britain, all would have been lost; if they had given him what he so desired then and there, he would have turned out no better than Tom Marvolo Riddle.

No. It is better this way. He sees that now, though eyes shaded by time and experience. He is a teacher, and has always been so. Anything more… anything more, he would falter. Anything more, and it might happen again.

They had all these plans, Gellert and he. All these grand designs that, he would not realize until later, were grand and terrible. Why had he put aside his own mind, his own ideas, so freely? The answer was both unfailingly simple and hopelessly complicated. Love; the cause and answer for all of it. But love had failed him then. Ariana's death put all of it into perspective for once. With her death, with Aberforth's blame, he realized for the first time the monster he had truly become, even as the man he had so ardently admired became the tyrannical shadow cast over half of Europe. And he was, for a time, ashamed that he still loved his enemy.

But love became the thing that will save them all in the end, didn't it? It saved Harry when nothing else could have. And without Harry, all will be lost; of that, at least, he is absolutely certain.

He is ashamed, for what he has done this time. For forcing a teenager to shoulder the fate of the world; for not seeing what is so crystal clear in retrospect.

He must pass a heavy burden to Harry, to his friends, but he knows it is the only way any of them will survive. It is the only way Voldemort will fall. He will give them the key to their enemy's defeat, but it is the children who must carry it out. And for that, he is truly sorry.

We have the answer to all your fears.
It's short, it's simple, it's crystal clear.
It's round about, it's somewhere here,
Lost amongst our winnings.

Seven Horcruxes. Seven pieces of Tom Riddle's fractured, twisted soul. Or perhaps five now. Five to find, five to destroy, and then Voldemort himself. He should have known all those years ago, should had been able to see and understand the evil growing in that little boy. But he hadn't been able to admit to himself that he had failed. Failed to save Tom Riddle from his darker leanings; failed to protect Voldemort's victims; failed to stop a tyrant when he could; failed to see what was so obvious now.

It isn't fair, to ask Harry to take on this mission; it isn't fair to leave them all before his plans all came to fruition. But that is the way it must be. They will understand, one day. They will all understand his intentions in the end.

He can only hope and pray that the ones he hurt most will forgive him then.

O children…
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice.
Rejoice, rejoice…

What either of them would give to go back; to take back every mistake, every misfortune, to wake up free from their burdens. To walk across Platform 9¾ and step onto the Hogwarts Express anew. Everything would be different then; no more woe, no more pain, no more evil. But then, death was a little like that.

Hey, little train! Wait for me!
I once was blind, but now I see. Have you left a seat for me?
Is that such a stretch of the imagination?

In death, a man once blinded by ambition and love could shed the cloth he had worn unwittingly for so long; in death, he saw what he had never quite been able to see while he was alive.

And perhaps the train was what he saw, after the killing curse and the fall from the Astronomy Tower; perhaps he wondered then, if there might be an empty seat on it waiting for him. Was it such folly to think that he might climb aboard, return to Hogwarts, perhaps as one of the specters haunting it's winding halls? But then, he knew it wouldn't take him to Hogwarts. It would take him elsewhere, to some mysterious kingdom, far from this world.

Hey little train! Wait for me!
I was held in chains, but now I'm free.
I'm hanging in there, don't you see?
In this process of elimination…

In death, a man once bound by his lycanthropy could finally find the peace that always eluded him in life; in death, the worries of the werewolf in human form could be allowed to subside without consequences.

He would rather be alive, of course; rather be with his family, but here he was reunited with his friends, and his wife, his beloved Dora… little Teddy would grow up without his parents, but at least his father could finally be at peace.

And perhaps now in death, he could board the train anew; and this time, he could be as carefree as his friends had always seemed. Maybe this time, Sirius could truly forget his torturous childhood, and Peter might not be tempted by the power and wealth of his Death Eater comrades, and James and Severus could set aside their petty differences, and Remus could finally accomplish all those grand dreams his condition had always dashed.

O children…
Lift up your voice, lift up your voice.
Rejoice, rejoice…

Redemption was a fickle and elusive thing. But if magic could exist, then maybe anything was possible.


Reviews are nice, if you are so inclined.