Disclaimer: I own nothing of the Harry Potter characters.
Chapter one: A tragic ending to a tragic life
Albus Dumbledore, Britain's much heralded 'Leader of the Light', stood riveted to the ground. His eyes drifting over the horrific blood stain, his nose assaulted by the metallic scent in the air though he only half registered it as his thoughts were awhirl with all manner of what if's and maybe's.
All his carefully laid plans and schemes had all been for naught. He was responsible for this,... this tragedy. He was as wholly responsible as if he had done the deed himself.
Hadn't he though? Hadn't he brought all to ruin by his adherence to his personal mantra of "for the greater good"?
The greater good-Bah!
Where in the world is it written that the 'greater good' is purchased through the blood and pain of a hapless orphan?
He'd thought to toughen the boy up, to prepare him for the increasingly arduous ordeals that lie ahead. He'd done that by all accounts only he 'd been so proud of himself and all his well thought out schemes that he'd failed to take into account the most important element of his plan.. the child himself.
Harry was a person, not a tool. He had feelings, hopes and dreams of his own. Childhood wants for acceptance maturing into teenage desires to give and receive love.
By all accounts he had at least become the "Champion of Light" that he was guided into being.
Guided? Hmm,.. that's a too nice term for manipulated.
Great genius that even he considered himself to be... he was in essence just a fool.
Why fight when there was nothing left to fight for?
What cause was there left to fight for when you no longer had anyone or anything left to fight for?
He had stood idly by whist Umbridge stripped Harry of all but his breathing privileges. Persecuted and tortured daily, vilified in the 'Prophet' and the student population at every turn. Snape was given free rein to abuse and belittle him from the very day a too thin and underdeveloped Harry Potter set foot within Hogwarts. This school should have been a bastion of hope, let alone a safe haven for him as it was for the other students.
Dumbledore even went so far as to coerce the rest of the staff to take a hard, unsympathetic stance , if not outright ignore any and all concerns "Potter" related, no matter how legitimate those concerns may be.
Merlin above...how he loathed himself. Not just for what he'd done, but for what he failed to do.
Sirius Black was dead. He should have cleared his name from the onset, knowing as he did, that Sirius was innocent of all wrong doing.
He could have left the boy that much.. a father figure... someone to care for and be cared for by.
But no... with Sirius out of the way it was far easier to harden the boy through endless trial and strife.
He's hardened him alright. He'd hardened him to the point that his impact with the ground had broken it as well as himself.
Albus Dumbledore stood contemplating the blood drenched lawn beneath the Castle's Astronomy tower; this the final resting place of the "Light's Chosen Champion".
This is what all his careful scheming had wrought: a wondrous child driven by despair to take his own life.
This was how he'd repaid the Potter's sacrifice.
This was the end result of his obscene delusions when he consoled himself that Sirius' imprisonment had served a higher purpose for "the greater good".
This was the net gain for letting, nay.. encouraging Snape to persecute a kind and courageous child who craved nothing more than acceptance from peers and some measure of anonymity from strangers.
As terrible a tragedy as this is, it could have been less so, had he but the courage to match the boy's own; Harry's body lie writhing upon the Ministry's shattered floor; demanding with Voldemort's voice to be killed, tempted though he was, he could not risk taking the chance as Voldemort would undoubtedly vacate before the killing curse did its dread work.
But,... there had been that fleeting moment when Harry had held sway,... when his eyes changed back to their pleading green and with his own voice he'd begged...
"Do it now... I can't hold him long... do it n-now...!"
Such valor... fueled by an immense, unwavering love for one's fellows. Had he but the semblance of the boy's own courage he could have finished it.
True; the boy would have been lost, but so too would Voldemort have met the true death.
Ancient knees unused to bending even in their youth fell to the blood stained lawn. Bitter tears came not for oneself but for that which was now lost.
Tears came not for the loss of a "prophesy's child"or a "champion" or even for "the boy who lived", but for a boy. A sweet, caring, courageous boy who knew so little of love yet held more love than most would ever know.
Two days earlier...
"Please understand, Mr. Potter... their families are very distraught just now and emotions are running high. Just please.. give them some time to adjust? Hopefully everything will sort itself out and tomorrow you can visit your friends." Madam Pomfrey beseeched him, offering hope that never quite reached her eyes with its sincerity.
Now that Sirius was gone all that was left to him were the friends that currently occupied the infirmary. Thankfully, most of their injuries were minor, but Ron and Hermione were badly wounded and it was his fault. He knew and apparently so did their families as Madam Pomfrey was trying to be polite, but the message was clear: GO AWAY.
Tremulously he nodded his acceptance and ghosted away from the infirmary door that the nurse was effectively barring his entry to.
All that was left to him was... nothing.
Yet another moment in a life filled with them where the best of intentions ultimately ended in ruination.
Why am I so stupid?
Why couldn't he have " kept his head down" as McGonagal had warned him too.
Why did he always barge ahead without thinking things through first?
And why,.. why couldn't Dumbledore have ended this madness when he'd given him the chance?
The headmaster had known the prophesy, he'd knew it all the time, and still he'd not acted in that brief moment when Harry had given him the chance.
And despite everything, he just knew that tomorrow's papers would be full of Voldemort's return.
He wouldn't then be vindicated in the public's eye, just vilified for having allowed Voldemort's second return to power.
It would start all over again as it did every year: The open stares of contempt and distrust. The whispers behind ones back. Maybe they'd even come up with an updated- "Potter Stinks" button.
He'd weathered it before, but at least he had Ron and Hermione's support then. Now he was alone though. It would be like the magical world's version of "Harry Hunting" only with nowhere to run and no place to hide. Two more years of that to look forward to after another summer of the Dursley's... no thanks.
Woodenly he made the trek to his dormitory, thinking to pack his trunk and make a run for it. He hadn't any idea to where, only that anywhere was better than here and what the future held for him.
What more could they do to him? What else could they take?
Unfortunately he was about to find out.
Harry stumbled through the portrait hole to the Griffyndor common room finding it unusually packed for this time of day, considering it was a bright summer day outside and tests were over for the school year.
All conversation ceased the moment he entered the room and eyes turned his way. Some were far more hostile than he would have ever guessed from those he knew as not really friends, but at least being 'friendly acquaintances'. Others looked sick and turned away or let their gazes fall to the floor as if they were ashamed of something.
He wished the twins were here to at least make a joke or say something outrageous to lighten the mood.
From the corner of his eye he saw Katie Bell nervously approach him. He couldn't fathom what could be so bad or what could have happened for her to look that way. She was always a bright, confident person, one of the many reasons she'd made head girl this year.
She stopped just in front of him and in a hushed tone of voice apologized...
"I-I'm sorry , Harry..."
OH-No,... Ron... Hermione...one of them must've..? His mind reeled as he waited on her next words that he knew would further shatter his existence.
Katie continued... "but we,.. er, that is.. most of us... have decided,.. that is... we took a vote and well,..." Katie struggled to finish and failing that.. Seamus Finnigan, in all his smug glory, obliged by cutting in sarcastically...
"You're out, Potter." he sneered triumphantly."Four of our own in the infirmary, two of them fighting for their lives and all because of YOU!"
"I-I'm out?" Harry echoed hollowly, not understanding what they were telling him, though he clearly understood their hostility over current events as he loathed himself far more than they could.
He turned his puzzled eyes back toward Katie, who was fidgeting and wiping at her eyes with the pad of her hand.
"O-Out of Gryffind-dor.."she clarified tremulously. Stunned though he was, he could at least tell by her reaction that she hadn't wanted this, whatever this was?
Honestly, he hadn't a clue what this all meant, so he asked. "Er, um,.. what does that mean; "Out of Gryffindor"?"
He found out what it meant when Dean Thomas and Jack Sloper heaved his, already packed, trunk forward and wished him a fond adieu in the form of a sneering, disdain filled flick of the chin toward the exit that clearly stated..GET LOST.
Shocked though he was by this turn of events he least thought to ask for the return of his owl's cage.
Katie Bell broke down completely at that and was helped to a chair by Alicia Spinnet, who, for her part, didn't seem to keen on the direction her housemates were taking things.
Angelina Johnson explained to him that the inquisitorial squad had taken his having escaped them badly and had cowardly retaliated by...
Harry stumbled and nearly fell backward in shock... his beloved Hedwig...gone...
Distantly, he remembered hands pulling away his Gryffindor stripped tie and another tearing his former house patch from his robes before they guided him out through the portrait and changed the password to ensure he couldn't reenter.
Some few, he noted, were crying as he left, though who they were beside Katie he couldn't really grasp, such was his state of utter shock and dejection.
Many more seemed celebratory and were congratulating each other as he left... these people's faces were indelibly etched on his mind's eye.
He may not have known all their names, but he would forever remember their smug faces.
He had been consoling himself that at least he still had Hedwig to keep him company in his trek out into the world whilst searching for a better life. This world had proved to be every bit as cruel and uncertain as the one he thought he was escaping from every first of September.
The next morning found a lone figure clinging to the edge of the astronomy towers' ramparts. Though it was early summer, the nights still held a spring chill to them, especially for one having slept outdoors overnight.
The blue bell flames he'd conjured had done little to ward off the encroaching night's chill. All the struggling flames had been good for was a light to see by and what he saw only added to his melancholy.
An empty cage... A trunk filled with stained and oversized cast-off clothes. A picture album that was little more than a stark reminder of what he'd not only lost but had never really even known in the first place.
A mirror... A mirror that he'd forgotten he had and now he would never need let alone for as little as to cast his reflection in... it now repulsed him.
The fire he'd set in his trunk after that had at least proved sufficient to ward off the cold long enough for him to drift off into a troubled sleep.
He awoke near midday; having escaped dawn's first waking rays beneath the shelter of the rampart wall.
His joints were stiff from the cool paves upon which he'd slept- he didn't care.
His stomach growled ominously, having not partaken of food in longer than it cared to remember- he didn't notice.
The ash of all that he once owned, in the world, swirled away on the breeze making him feel strangely free.
Free and unencumbered as he hadn't felt since,... well, since ever.
He sat contemplating this, oblivious to the sights and sounds of the castle and grounds beneath his perch on the tower.
The day passed and the sun was beginning to set when a soft throat clearing disturbed his lengthy repose. Normally, he would have welcomed the company, any company. But just now he found the interruption an unwelcome bother.
Still it was better that dwelling on thoughts of what will never be.
He glanced over his shoulder to find Susan Bones cautiously approaching with a copy of the 'Prophet' twisted in her tremulous grasp. Today's late edition had, for once, accurately recorded the events at the ministry. He couldn't know it, but the whole of his former house were currently reading those events and feeling none too proud of themselves for what they'd unthinkingly done to a truer Gryffindor than most.
Susan had always been kind to him. She was pretty in a natural unassuming way. Susan had bouncy strawberry-blonde hair that framed soft cheeks and an even softer pair of blue eyes. She also had a nicely kept figure and a voice that was a music all its own.
He's secretly fancied her for some time not that she or anyone else would ever be interested for that matter.
"W-Why?" Susan asked apprehensively. "Why did h-he have to die?"
He didn't bother to ask to whom she referred, he already knew. Susan was asking about Cedric as she had many times before. No matter what he answered nor how placating, she never seemed mollified and eventually returned to ask the same thing over again.
His mind scrambled for yet another platitude that might give her some measure of comfort, but eventually he decided- why bother.
Maybe she needed to hear the truth? Why though,.. what good had telling the truth ever really done him?
He had the scars to prove it indelibly etched into the back of his hand for posterity's sake.
OH... what the hell...
"He died for no other reason other than that he was in the way." Harry answered coolly.
"B-But couldn't he have dodged or couldn't you have intervened.. something?" she nearly begged, not nearly fathoming the absolute pointlessness of her friend's death.
"It all happened to fast. By the time we even registered the shock of someone so callously throwing out the 'killing curse' it was too late. I imagine it was much like what a fly experiences sitting on a wall; one minute you're there minding your own business and the next-splat!"
His analogy, though accurate, was a harsh reminder of the delicacy of life.
He expected her to burst into tears, maybe even flee the area wailing in her despair and helplessness.
What he got instead was anger.
"Why then? Why didn't you kill him when you had the chance?" Susan nearly screamed in accusation, brandishing the newspaper where he could just barely make out a picture of himself trying to duel back against Voldemort in the Ministry's atrium.
"I couldn't..." he returned bleakly, turning his eyes away despondently. He hadn't the power or the experience to even make a dent let alone finish the job.
Susan snorted disdainfully at that in sarcastic amusement. "Then what good are you?"
Months and years would pass as he considered what was more shattering? Those words said in the heat of righteous anger and disappointment or the ground upon which he'd thrown himself.
He realized in that moment that he was the fly. He was nothing more than a fly and a spare one at that.
He had no possessions, no home, no friends left, nothing.. except a nutter out to kill him just to show the world that he could.
It was just a matter of time before the inevitable occurred and-Splat!
The only real unknown in the equation was how much more he would be forced to suffer before- splat!
It was then in that darkest of moments that he decided he would rob Voldemort of his future victory and thereby save himself that much more suffering and loneliness.
Then what good are you? Susan had asked.
He answered in the only way he knew how in that darkest of moments... he jumped.
"NO...GOD IN HEAVEN-Nooooo!"
Susan had no conscious recollection of how long she stood staring blankly at the spot on the rampart wall that Harry had thrown himself from. It wasn't until the screams coming from below tore her from her state of utter shock.
She haltingly dared to peer over the edge of the astronomy tower's ramparts finding the horror she knew she'd find lying broken on the lawn below.
In the last rays of twilight's demise she saw Professor McGonagal clutching desperately at a broken figure as a dark stain spread out ever wider from beneath them.
"No , dear child of the light ... no? Lily flower... James, Sirius,.. help me,... please don't take him from us!" McGonagal sobbed and begged as she cast every charm she could think of to try and preserve what life still remained in his broken shell.
Minerva McGonagal had been recovering from her many wounds, (at the hands of aurors led astray by Umbridge), when the news of the Ministerial battle broke only to be followed by the Order arriving to inform her that yet another of their number had fallen.
All she could think of in that moment is that her dearest cub would need her. Harry's last true family in the world was gone and all anyone could do was whisper in fear over Voldemort or blame the child openly for not defeating him when they'd dueled.
Defeat him? Bah- what madness; pitting a fifteen year old against a master sorcerer with years and years of experience and a penchant for killing.
She'd left the hospital on shaky legs with cane in hand, only... too late.
She'd no sooner had the castle doors in sight when a smallish figured fell to the Castle's lawn with a sickening- whumph.
She couldn't see who from the distance she was yet away, but she'd known. She'd known it was her dear cub. She could feel her heart shatter just as he did at that moment of impact.
She would have dropped then and there to vent her grief were it not for the fleetest of hope that he might yet survive, impossible as that may sound.
But when had the impossible not aligned itself with Harry Potter?
Fervently she begged and pleaded with all she knew to spare the boy and thereby spare the rest of us. She knew what the 'prophesy' foretold just as she knew and had seen through all of Dumbledore's many machinations to see it come to fruition.
She cursed herself many times for letting his view hold sway. Now, finally, when she'd decided once and for all to intervene on the boy's behalf.. only- too late.
Not for the rest of Magical Britain, she didn't care a whit. They'd made their own mistakes and were about to reap their just rewards. What she cared for, all she cared for lie broken in her arms. His precious life was spreading out across the lawn and his once vibrant green eyes were dimming.
The last ray of twilight held them captive as if the world itself struggled to hold on a moment longer to keep the dark at bay, clinging to the boy's broken form in desperate hope.
The world itself seemed to be holding it's breath.
It was in that faintest of moments that Minerva's aged eyes beheld a miracle: the boy's chest rose and fell,... and rose again.
Minerva gasped in renewed hope casting the strongest preservative spell she knew before gathering the boy to her breast and trudging off toward the distant gate so she could apparate them directly to St. Mungo's, not daring to entrust him to even Madam Pomfrey's care as she was a Dumbledore supporter thru and thru.
Later that day...
"Dead..." a despairing voice monotoned from the Great Hall's entry. "The child is dead..." Minerva paused, wiping at her eyes with a linen handkerchief that was already wringing wet.
What little noise from subdued conversation had silenced from the first. Now, the Hall was filled with shocked gasps of denial and shrieks of dismay.
No one had bothered to ask who she was referring to- they knew. Just as they knew who was ultimately responsible... themselves. They'd all contributed in some fashion or another.
Professor McGonagal stumbled wearily into the Hall. Her tartan robes were stained with copious amounts of blood- his blood.
Young witches began to openly cry into their hands or fall into each other's comforting grasp as the shock ebbed and reaqlity began to settle in.
McGonagal pulled herself up short at the Gryffindor table where none dared meet her accusatory gaze.
She'd known what they'd done. She knew from the moment her eyes discerned the missing emblem on his blood stained robes.
Without preamble she cast a spell,(as head of house), that removed the entire table's signet from their robes. "I see no Gryffindor's here." she announced with utter disdain dripping from her every word.
"Minerva.. perhaps.." Dumbledore's voice cut in, rising from his seat.
McGonagal's eyes snapped toward the table from the head table. "Be silent you fool!" she scathed, taking some slight satisfaction in the way he slumped back pale faced in his chair.
"Do you at last feel vindicated?" she growled out in utter contempt, focusing her ire on the man responsible for today's tradgedy. "Have you at last taken all that you could from the child in taking the last thing he had- his life?"
Dumbledore seemed to fold in on himself, looking the frail old man that his years should, but had never indicated before.
McGonagal turned the knife. "Not that he ever had even the remotest semblance of a life... you saw to that personally by placing him with neglectful, abusing relatives that despised him through no fault of his own save being born magical. But that wasn't enough.. no?" she smirked triumphantly going for the throat.
"When he finally was allowed to escape his tormentors you replaced one abuse for another by turning your pet death eater loose on him." Minerva nodded her chin meaningfully toward Snape who was still staring in shock at the unfolding drama around him.
Students were crying openly in shame and regret as were many among the staff.
Temporarily she turned her riotous anger from Dumbledore to Snape. "Happy with yourself, Severus?" she simpered with anything but sympathy for his plight.
She pulled at her robes meaningfully. "This is all that remains of Lilly's child within these walls."
Snape lowered his eyes despondently toward his cooling meal.
"Look at it, damn you!" McGonagal shouted in his face.
Snape's eyes snapped back up to stare in horror at the display. The acrid smell of blood assaulted his nose as he fought the bile threatening to rise up the back of his throat.
"You've always wanted his blood, well here it is. Tell me... which half is your beloved Lily's and which is your hated school yard nemesis?"
Snape's head snapped back in revulsion and self loathing at that. With an anguished cry he bolted from his seat and fled the Hall.
"Ever the coward..." McGonagal commented off handily in his wake, dropping her robes back into place with a satisfied sigh of having made some accomplishment.
Her gaze swept the Hall taking in the mournful, dour mood that had followed her arrival.
"Badgered, bullied and vilified by his own." she commented toward all of them, her eyes traveling toward the Slytherin table where she was pleased to see that even Draco Malfoy appeared genuinely distressed.
"Enjoying your evening edition of the "Prophet" Mr. Malfoy?" she asked smugly, eyeing the paper displayed in his trembling grasp.
"There it is for all of you to see with your own eyes. He's back- yes? Apparently Mr. Potter was telling the truth. Not that it matters now. Tell me, Mr. Malfoy.. you fancy yourself Mr. Potter's better in all things..." she reminded the ponce of a bully. "...is that thing he's dueling with on the front page something you'd care to face in a duel?"
She was rewarded with Draco's face taking on a greenish tinge. "What no smart remark? No glib reply,... how unbecoming of a Malfoy? Look at that thing that your rich, pureblood father bows and scrapes to. Now that he's locked away I suppose your next in line to prostrate yourself before that monster alongside your demented aunt?"
Her words were rewarded with Draco sicking-up at the mental image of what his life was to become.
"M-Minerva.. really..?" Dumbledore tried reason but was cut off again.
"I said be silent!" Minerva shrieked in the old man's face. "The last Potter is dead. Lily's child dead on these very lawns. Gone now.. and with all hope for the rest of us gone with him."
Dumbledore opened his mouth to try and dissuade her but she would not be denied as she shouted the contents of the prophesy out 'word for word' for all to hear.
If she'd thought the Hall was as a whole shocked and regretful before that was as nothing compared to the pall that settled over the student body.
"We will fight as if all hell depended on our winning, for it will. Naught but death, slavery and worse lie in store for us should Voldemort win." she pronounced soulfully.
"Think on this in the dark days ahead. Think on this when you go into battle or choose outright to submit to the inevitable. Think on how you might have gone into battle with an acute sense of hope in your ultimate triumph had you but ears to hear with and eyes to see."
"A champion stood among you. He wanted neither accolades nor worship for his many deeds."
At this McGonagal paused to recant all of Harry Potter's past deeds that were as little more than idle gossip and rumor among the whole of wizarding Britain, let alone the student body.
Seeing the still incredulous looks and disbelief on many faces she looked to Dumbledore to confirm her accounting.
"Do I exaggerate?"
Though the old man loked stricken unto death at this point, he managed to nod and state desolately for the record.. "If anything you are too modest in your summation, Minerva."
McGonagal turned challenging eyes on the whole of the student body, singling out a few for effct."Take on a sixty foot basilisk, Mr. Malfoy, and perhaps, for once, you will have actually earned the right to brag the way you do. "
Malfoy did the unexpected and broke into bitter tears.
"And you, Mr. Finnigan.. why don't you take a stand for what is true and accurate at the expense of your peace and personal self respect, lost for no more than your willingness to tell the truth, no matter how unbecoming that truth may be?"
Seamus Finnigan was rewarded with many friends and supporters moving their chair surreptitiously farther away from his person.
Minerva was satisfied to see that Seamus was about to get the "Harry Potter" treatment in spades.
Minerva saved the best for last, she felt she owed it to Harry despite her misgivings.
Susan Bones sat trembling with her friend, Hanna Abbot rubbing supportive circles on her cask and cooing reassuringly in her ear.
McGonagal strode up to the young Hufflepuffs and addressed Susan with a bit of sympathy in her tone despite what she was about to relay.
"You have lost both your parents, a devastating loss to be sure. Imagine if you will what it would mean to lose your Aunt,.. your last remaining family in all the world?"
Susan closed her eyes and shook her head trying to fight back tears as she fought to dispel the image of her mind and lost.
At seeing her resolve sway, Minerva finished. "Now imagine in the wake of that losing your friends and having your entire house turn against you? Imagine the loss and despair, hoping for all the world to find nothing more than a supportive shoulder to cry out the injustice of it all, let alone a compassionate word from someone who could at least empathize with such loss?"
Susan's horror filled eyes shot open with a gasp as she realized that McGonagal knew. How she could have known she couldn't fathom, but she knew that Susan had been there in his darkest moment of need and had only served to make things worse.
Susan fled the Great Hall in tears of shame and revulsion, her friends hot on her heal shooting reproachful glares at McGonagal for having caused Susan further distress.
If anything their disproving looks helped her to feel somewhat vindicated in the child's behalf.
Sighing, Minerva Mcgonagal turned her attention back to the entire Hall and addressed them with more compassion than she felt or that they even deserved.
"Today, mourn... for tomorrow you will be going home. Go home and think on the events of this year and what they may or may not portend for the years ahead. Let us each come to grips with who we are and decide if it is who we wish to become. Let your hearts and your conscious be your guide. Harden yourselves for what lies ahead, for now, more so than ever before, we need each other. We can yet prevail if we unite as one mind and one voice.
If you can do it for no other reason,... than do it for him."
That said, McGonagal left the Hall an emotional wreck, planning to take her own advice over a large glass of her native scotch.
She hadn't hardly sipped more than a finger's width of single malt when a tentative knock sounded at the door of her private quarters.
She smirked , eyeing the waiting glass she had prepared for just such visitor.
Albus Dumbledore quietly let himself in, knowing he required only to announce his intention as they were old friends and such formality of requiring an invitation was long since lost on the two of them.
Albus lowered himself into the adjoining side chair and helped himself to the waiting drink, sighing with pleasure after a healthy swig passed his lips.
"Quite a performance, Minerva." He saluted his counterpart with his glass, half in appreciation for the drink as well as the speech she'd delivered.
"He deserved all of it and more, if you ask me." She quipped.
Albus nodded, not even considering the challenge in that statement.
"And much more." he agreed.
"I meant every word of it." She countered, wanting him to realize his part.
He nodded and with a sigh he agreed. "And I deserved it. I could not see the forest for the trees, as they say. Now, because of my shortsightedness, Sirius is dead and Harry lies at death's door."
He recounted his actions at the ministry and what had transpired between Harry, he and Voldemort.
Minerva listened to the story without so much as batting an eyelash. If anything she was that much more proud of her cub.
"You should have killed him when Harry afforded you the chance." she decided.
Dumbledore shrugged helplessly. "Maybe. Maybe we might have destroyed the dark lord in the process, but killing Harry would have been a certainty either way."
McGonagal too sighed at the difficulty of such a decision, but steadfastly retained that... "Harry would have held him as long as it took to see it done. He would have found a way."
Dumbledore contemplated the remains of his glass which he swirled idly in his hands. Eventually he answered her, though he was perhaps speaking as much to himself as he was her.
"I know that, but when it came right down to it I just couldn't ... I just couldn't sacrifice the boy. As much as it might have ridded the world of the horror that is Voldemort, how much more so is the horror that I would be depriving the world of such a child?"
Dumbledore finished his glass and with a regretful sigh he admonished. "I'm too old; too old for war and certainly too old to make the hard choices. Had I taken the chance some positive outcome might have at least come from all this misery. Now, the child is as good as dead as if it was from my own wand. That, and Voldemort is free to wage his war unchallenged."
"Old yes, but you've still got a little left in the tank, as they say." Minerva contradicted. "You still had the balls to call in Croaker and his lot." She complimented him though her face held an odd look of foreboding despite her feisty return.
Dumbledore smirked at his second's language and would have scolded her if it would accomplish anything.. which it wouldn't.
"Probably too little too late." he sighed wearily. "Even if Lewis's people can work some miracle or other, the boy will never be the same." He shuddered inwardly at what that fate just might portend. He wasn't deluding himself that the effort was nigh impossible nor that if they were successful just what measures might be employed to reach the level of "impossible".
It was left to the Unspeakables to see if they could perform the impossible and save the child from his many impact wounds.
Finally all avenues of desperation failed as the healers were forced to accept the inevitable.
The lead healer, Garth Samuels stood back from the boy's blood soaked gurney and his eyes traveled to the clock on the wall. He tracked the course of the second hand as he listened to the monitor's signal of the child's fading heart beat.
The distance between those ominous alerts was growing wider and the Healer's dry lips parted as he readied to call out his final verdict for a patient that he wanted so much to save.
The announcement was on the tip of his tongue when Unspeakables swarmed into the emergency surgical suite.
He'd barely even began to protest when their head displayed his credentials as he'd rarely done before as usually the uniform with its many pips on the collar was more than enough validation.
Healer Samuels gaped at the name and rank that denoted the shrouded person looming before him. When the man withdrew his hood enough to reveal his face as the one indicated by his credentials, the healer went weak in the knees.
The Unspeakables took the child without a moment's pause.
The Head Unspeakable asked pointedly for the healer to verify..."Time of death?"
This person's credentials were such that no witch or wizard, not even the Minister of Magic himself, would question his authority in any and all matters.
"S-Six thirty-eight pm.." the healer stammered, understanding the order he was being given.
The Unspeakable nodded, closing his wallet and tucking it away in the folds of his dark blue Unspeakable's robes.
With a last.. "You never saw me... I was never here." He swept from the room knowing that none in the room would ever utter a word otherwise.