Kings Cross Station.
"Harry." He spread his arms wide, and his hands were both whole and white and undamaged. "You wonderful boy. You brave, brave man. Let us walk."
Stunned, Harry followed as Dumbledore strode away from where the flayed child lay whimpering, leading him to two seats that Harry had not previously noticed, set some distance away under that high, sparkling ceiling. Dumbledore sat down in one of them, and Harry fell into the other, staring at his old headmaster's face. Dumbledore's long silver hair and beard, the piercingly blue eyes behind half-moon spectacles, the crooked nose: Everything was as he had remembered it. And yet…
"But you're dead," said Harry.
"Oh yes," said Dumbledore matter-of-factly.
"Then… I'm dead too?"
"Ah," said Dumbledore, smiling still more broadly. "That is the question, isn't it? On the whole, dear boy, I think not."
They looked at each other, the old man still beaming.
"Not?" repeated Harry.
"Not," said Dumbledore.
"But…" Harry raised his hand instinctively toward the lightning scar. It did not seem to be there. "But I should have died - I didn't defend myself! I meant to let him kill me!"
"And that," said Dumbledore, "will, I think, have made all the difference."
Happiness seemed to radiate from Dumbledore like light; like fire: Harry had never seen the man so utterly, so palpably content.
"Explain," said Harry, "How can I be alive?"
"I think you know," said Dumbledore. "Think back. Remember what he did, in his ignorance, in his greed and his cruelty. He took your blood and rebuilt his living body with it! Your blood in his veins, Harry, Lily's protection inside both of you! He tethered you to life while he lives! He took your blood believing it would strengthen him. He took into his body a tiny part of the enchantment your mother laid upon you when she died for you. His body keeps her sacrifice alive, and while that enchantment survives, so do you and so does Voldemort's one last hope for himself."
Harry was still confused - "B—But B—But," her cried. "My body... How can you say that I'm still alive... I don't think that any of my friends are going to think of doing the kind of ritual that brought Voldemort back and without a body..."
It was now Dumbledore's turn to be confused - "He killed you with the Killing Curse my boy. Avada Kedavra kills without leaving a mark on the body so your body should be right where you left it. And as I just explained because of the blood connection all you need to do is — go back. Go back and you will be alive again. There should be absolutely no need for any ritual!"
Harry slapped his forehead - "Bugger," he cried emphatically. "Bugger it all for... Damn it! You know, you really should have let me know that was your plan. The problem was that I thought I had to die and..." He snorted in disbelief. "Bloody hell! Yet another frigging time your habit of keeping things too close to the vest has buggered things up royally!"
Harry turned around and slugged Dumbledore as hard as he could, his fist pounded into Dumbledore's face with a most satisfying thump. Dumbledore went flying backwards over one of the chairs that littered the place. "Why the hell couldn't you have written a letter or something you damned bloody idiot…. All you had to do was let me know that I had a chance, just knowing that I had a chance of bloody surviving would have been enough and we wouldn't be in this mess. Urgh, I don't even have words to describe what a fucked up incompetent you are..."
Dumbledore was absolutely astonished. The punch hadn't hurt of course, since he was in fact dead but just the fact that Harry had hit him was an incredible surprise to him. "My dear boy… I—I—I have no idea what you are so annoyed about. You can go back… Why are you so angry? Everything has worked out perfectly. What is the problem?"
Harry glared at his old headmaster — "The problem," he spat, "my dear Dumbledore is that I thought I HAD to die. The memories made it clear that Voldemort could not be defeated as long as I was alive And while I was willing to go through with that I certainly saw no reason to 'go quietly' as it were. Just letting Voldemort kill me… What kind of frigging idiot would I have been if I did that? I'm a Gryffindor not a weak bloody Hufflepuff. Gryfinddors, when faced with certain death don't just lie down and die. No, they try and take as many of the enemy down with them before they go. The problem, you old goat, is that I remembered the story of Agnes Nutter. That, Dumbledore is the frigging problem."
"Agnes Nutter?" asked a confused Dumbledore. "I don't really remember who that is, I'm sorry to say."
Harry snorted, "Of course not, you wouldn't remember her. Not you. Not the man who lets them teach the sanitised kid friendly pap that passes for history at Hogwarts. You were much happier letting them tell us stories about Wendelin the Weird instead of the real reason why witch burnings came to an end in England. Unfortunately for you, I've read a few real history books along the way. Like the one that covered the story of Agnes Nutter the Seer."
The English, by and large, being a crass and indolent race, were not as keen on burning women as other countries in Europe. In Germany the bonfires were built and burned with regular Teutonic thoroughness. Even the pious Scots, locked throughout history in a long‑drawn‑out battle with their arch‑enemies the Scots, managed a few burnings to while away the long winter evenings. But the English never seemed to have the heart for it.
One reason for this may have to do with the manner of Agnes Nutter's death, which more or less marked the end of the serious witch hunting craze in England. A howling mob, reduced to utter fury by her habit of going around being intelligent and curing people, arrived at her house one April evening to find her sitting with her coat on, waiting for them.
"Ye're tardie," she said to them. "I shoulde have beene aflame ten minutes since."
Then she got up and hobbled slowly through the suddenly silent crowd, out of the cottage, and to the bonfire that had been hastily thrown together on the village green. Legend says that she climbed awkwardly onto the pyre and thrust her arms around the stake behind her.
"Tye yt well," she said to the astonished witchfinder. And then, as the villagers sidled toward the pyre, she raised her handsome head in the firelight and said, "Gather ye ryte close, goode people. Come close untyl the fire near scorch ye, for I charge ye that alle must see how thee last true wytch in England dies. For wytch I am, for soe I am judged, yette I knoe not what my true Cryme may be. And therefore let myne deathe be a messuage to the worlde. Gather ye ryte close, I saye, and marke well the fate of alle who meddle with suche as theye do none understande."
And, apparently, she smiled and looked up at the sky over the village and added, "That goes for you as welle, yowe daft old foole."
And after that strange blasphemy she said no more. She let them gag her, and stood imperiously as the torches were put to the dry wood.
The crowd grew nearer, one or two of its members a little uncertain as to whether they'd done the right thing, now they came to think about it.
Thirty seconds later an explosion took out the village green, scythed the valley clean of every living thing, and was seen as far away as Halifax.
There was much subsequent debate as to whether this had been sent by God or by Satan, but a note later found in Agnes Nutter's cottage indicated that any divine or devilish intervention had been materially helped by the contents of Agnes's petticoats, wherein she had with some foresight concealed eighty pounds of gunpowder and forty pounds of roofing nails.
*Excerpt from Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
Dumbledore was looking at Harry in absolute astonishment and dread after hearing the story that Harry had just finished reciting — "What did you do, Harry?" he asked even though at this point he really really didn't want to know the answer.
"Well, Voldemort had given me an hour, remember, and after I'd seen Snapes's memories and realised I had to die… I had just enough time to apparate over to an army base I'd come across before and break into their armoury. Really, very easy to do when you have a wand and an invisibility cloak. I have absolutely no idea how much high explosive I shrank down and stuffed into my pockets. I lost count along the way but it was definitely a lot more than a couple of hundred pounds, I can tell you that. I do know that I had exactly a dozen claymore mines shrunken down and strapped to my chest. Add in a few charms and it was easy to create a basic dead mans switch. As soon as my heart stopped which would have been the moment I was hit by the killing curse, all those explosives would have instantly reverted back to their original size and then exploded — probably before my body even hit the ground…. I doubt there would be much left of the forbidden forest let alone my body so… I really don't think there's any possible way to go back."
Harry paused for a bit — "I did manage to toss Hagrid an emergency port key I'd gotten from McGonagall so I hope he survived but anyone else in the forest… I'm surprised this place isn't more crowded actually but then I guess everyone get's their own version of Kings Cross station."
Harry stood up — "It looks like I have to catch a train then and if you don't mind professor I'd really really appreciate not seeing you again so… have a nice death or Next Great Adventure or whatever and goodbye." He walked away from Dumbledore without a backwards glance.