The Last Choice
- one-shot -
I wrote this story for Lolaaaa's "Last Kiss Competition". I chose Harry/Voldemort again, of course. I suppose, since they have so many first kisses, and kisses in between, they should also get a last kiss:P.
(Yes, still obsessed with this pairing!)
Disclaimer: I don't own them. No, I really don't. If I did, there would be more Tom Riddle in it :P
Beta'ed by Doriana!
The lovely Renka Doden translated this fan fic into Indonesian, to participate at the Fujoshi Independence Day Challenge.
www. fanfiction. net. s/8501578/1/
If there are any Indonesian reading this, please go to that link and support her! Thank you!
Harry Potter POV
The second time I died I was a hundred and sixty.
I can say with certainty that I have truly lived. Every day since Voldemort's death has been a blessing. I enjoyed every day with my friends and Ginny, mending broken bridges, building my family and slowly healing.
At some point after the war I tracked down the Dursleys and made my peace with them. Dudley had lost a lot of weight and looked very happy to see me, and aunt Petunia actually shed a few tears. Apparently, they had been briefed from time to time with the little news the Order had on me that year. They had also heard what happened at the final battle.
Uncle Vernon had been his insufferable self all through that evening. But, when aunt Petunia left to get the dessert and Dudley left for a bathroom break, he placed a fat arm on my shoulders, and said "Well done, boy!". He never called me a freak again. Then aunt Petunia returned, and I told them about Ginny.
Petunia and Dudley came to my wedding. Dudley got married two years after that, to a muggleborn witch he met at my wedding. They had a splendid daughter that joined Hogwarts at the same time our Lily Luna did, and they ended up best friends, in the same House.
I outlived everyone's predictions. For a brash Gryffindor, I didn't have a heroic death fighting against the newest Dark Lord, nor did I succumb to a new and terrible disease that would later gain my name. Instead, I died of old age, peacefully, in my sleep, with my dear Ginny, also old but eternally beautiful, sleeping next to me.
I had achieved everything I'd ever wanted. I had a big, wonderful family. I'd had wonderful jobs: in my youth I was a very respected Auror, then Hogwarts' Defense against the Dark Arts teacher; I had taught at Hogwarts for fifty years until old age forced me to retire, and after that I wrote fantasy novels and worked in the garden, one of my guilty pleasures. I believe I have achieved perfect happiness.
I still remember the story of the three brothers. I wonder, is this how the youngest felt when they say "he greeted death like an old friend"?
What I didn't expect to see again was King's Cross train station. Apparently, "the waiting room" takes the shape of something that defines us. I thought that aspect of me had changed. I was happy to learn it hasn't.
I also saw that Horcrux. I remember Dumbledore telling me, so long ago, that I cannot help it. I wonder if that was true. It looked the same way, as if time had stopped for "it". Stopped?
And then I looked at my arms, no longer old and wrinkled, but young and tanned, shining with health. What was that saying? You're as young as you feel?
And I remember that Dumbledore was old. Perhaps he had given up that hope long before. Perhaps he never found the strength to forgive himself, and as such, he could not muster the power to forgive others, either.
I cannot say this for sure, as I have no mirror, but I believe I look seventeen again. It could be a side effect of becoming the owner of all three Hallows.
I take another look at the bench and I realize that something has changed. It's not under the bench anymore. It's on the bench. And now, there is someone holding it.
He looks almost the same he did at the final battle. But his red eyes are different. Empty, devoid of the past anger, fury, murderous intent. His face is somewhat serene, disturbingly so. He seems tired, resigned, maybe. It's been so long since he died, why is he still here?
There is no afterlife for fractured souls, a voice whispers into my mind, a voice sounding so clearly like Hermione. Unless they are too unstable and therefore dissipate into spirit particles before making it past the physical plane, they are stuck at the crossroad forever.
Ah, the dead don't have so much trouble remembering even conversations they only halfway heard. I remember at the time I was much too busy trying to beat Ron at chess.
It looks like Voldemort hasn't seen me yet. He is still holding that Horcrux, looking only at that. Perhaps, the little Horcrux is the only other person he has seen in years. And I feel pity for this man, who could have been so great, had he opened his eyes a bit more.
Death hasn't been kind to him, I see.
I am not surprised to see even the grown-up Dark Lord in my version of the waiting room. Hogwarts meant the same for the both of us. At the time when he attacked Hogwarts, I wondered: does this man hold nothing sacred inside him anymore?
Now I think that, perhaps, he was hurting more than all of us.
I feel a wave of pity sweep over me when I look at what's left of the Dark Lord.
There is one more broken bridge that I have yet to mend.
I take a determined step towards his bench. Oh, how he frightened me as a teenager. And now, as an old man, I cannot bring myself to feel even an ounce of fear, contempt or hatred towards him.
I stop in front of him. He lifts his head and finally acknowledges me.
His voice is hoarse and quiet. It holds none of the previous haughtiness.
"Tom" I answer him, and my voice is calm, affectionate. He is taken aback.
I place one hand on his icy cheek, and I caress it slightly. And then I lean in, hoping that in one gesture, I can erase at least a little bit of his pain, make him understand a little bit about life and death.
Voldemort's lips are cold and chapped.
I kiss him slowly, reverently, keeping it chaste and warm. My hand keeps caressing his cheek, the other hugging his thin frame.
When I release him, his eyes are closed, and the baby-Horcrux is gone.
I step back, satisfied, and make my way to the train. I climb the short stairs and I look at King's Cross one last time. Voldemort has opened his eyes, and they are undeniably blue. He suddenly gets up and marches towards the train, towards me, but an invisible barrier doesn't allow him to pass.
"Tom", I say to him, with the same tone as before. "Take your time, as long as you need. I'll wait for you on the other side. We all will."
Take your time, sort through your memories, feel remorse for your actions, reunite with all your other horcruxes, my mind says. Defeat your inner demons. I wonder if he can still legilimize me, because his eyes have not left mine since he left the bench.
Voldemort is crying.
"Don't leave me…you're the only one…"
The only one you have seen in a hundred forty years? Or the only one that has ever shown you kindness? I wonder. He leaves his sentence unfinished, as if ashamed, as if afraid. But I can't go back to him and he can't come to me. I can only let the train whisk me away to Somewhere, where hopefully I will see my parents again, and Sirius, and Remus, Tonks, Fred and so many others…
There is one last thought I spare the poor tortured soul I have just left behind.
Tom, I forgive you.
A/N: I love how this story turned out. Thank you, Doriana, for helping me correct my mistakes! You are a wonderful beta! Also, my dear readers, if you can find the time, I would love to hear your opinion on what I wrote.
And no, there won't be a sequel to this.