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As soon as Hagrid heard the voice, he knew who it was. He was too good a person, too brave, not to save all those innocent lives when he had the chance. He knew that he would never let the hour pass idly. But still, Hagrid was wholly unprepared for the sight of his crimson-speckled face behind his round glasses, glinting in the firelight. The scar on his forehead almost blended into the blood on his blanched, yet rigidly defiant face; perhaps it was that of his friends, perhaps that of his enemies. Perhaps both, finally united in sardonically disguising the cause of their loss, of this war. But his green eyes truly betrayed the fear building in him to Hagrid, the heavy sense of loss that his steady walk to death had brought. The whole world seemed to shift on its axis, and Hagrid's legs gave beneath him; he was only kept upright by the bonds strapping him to the tree.
The giants roared, the Death Eaters cried out, gasped in surprise, even laughed. Hagrid saw You-Know-Who freeze where he stood at the head of the clearing, lock eyes with the boy standing before him defiantly, separated only by the crackling fire, oddly merry. Why was anything merry when he was about to die? Suddenly, Hagrid found his voice.
"HARRY! NO!" He struggled desperately against the ropes binding him, tried to break free, and he could feel the tree shaking overhead, but he didn't care. He just had to get to the ebony-haired man in front of him and knock some sense into him. He couldn't just die. He couldn't. "NO! NO! HARRY, WHAT'RE YEH -?"
"QUIET!" a blond Death Eater shouted, and with a flick of his wand, Hagrid's voice was cut off. He felt as though his breath was cut off as well, but he continued to struggle, because he had to get to him. Harry couldn't die. He couldn't. Hagrid made a promise.
As Hagrid rushes down the street, feeling the stones quaking beneath his massive feet, he sees the war memorial flash past him, focusing on reaching the end of the road, swallowed by the velvet night sky, dotted with stars, half-covered by clouds. Dead leaves skitter across his path, crunching underfoot as he huffs and puffs, the thought of the wailing child in the darkness urging him to go faster before the Muggles take notice. As he finally reaches the cottage, the edges of the hedge curled and turned black from the violent burst of back-fired magic, he can hear the little boy's cries, echoing emptily in the night, in the house. Hagrid doesn't know what to do for a moment, feeling unspeakably saddened by the sight of the crater in the right side of the top floor, where his cries resonate from. But then he hears the baby's screams rise in pitch and intensity and he puts his fear and his uncertainty behind him as he pushes the gate wide open, the force so great that he nearly blows it off its hinges. He strides purposefully toward the darkened building, takes a deep breath, and pushes the door open.
Hagrid creeps through the threshold slowly, almost as if he expects You-Know-Who to spring up from behind the coat stand, toppled over onto the floor. He begins to place one foot in front of the other, cautiously, dreading seeing what he knows he will see. He screws up his eyes and steps toward the stairs, getting ever closer to the little boy, and looks up at the ceiling, where he imagines him to be. But in the next step, Hagrid does not look where he puts his foot, and the soft carpet is replaced by something squishy but hard, and he slips back. Looking down, horrified, he sees James Potter.
His glasses are skewed on his otherwise unaltered appearance, except for a slight expression of fear and something harder to place, something brave. He lies spread-eagled on the floor, his wand nowhere in sight, and Hagrid cannot help but let out a sickened gasp and a howl. He allows himself a moment to grieve for the man in front of him, his wails joining the baby's in a twisted harmony, before sniffing resolutely and stepping over the body. He begins to climb the stairs, and he almost wants to turn back, to run and hide, but Dumbledore gave him a task, and he must complete it upon his word.
At last, as he reaches the landing, he sees the door standing ajar at the far end of the hall, and beyond it the deep purple sky. With heavy footfalls weighted with trepidation, Hagrid decides that he wants this over quickly, that he does not want to dwell on the sight of their bodies. He walks brusquely to the door, his arms brushing against the moleskin of his coat, and pushes it, only to see it stop, blocked by rubble. The child's cries stop momentarily at the thump, and Hagrid forces the door back, stooping so that he can fit his massive frame in the room. He looks around, and sees a small boy with a tuft of black hair, screaming at the sight of the stranger, buried under a pile of blackened rubble.
"Harry," Hagrid croons, trying to keep the shaking from his voice. "Don' worry. I got yeh."
He perks up at the sound of his voice, still sniffling, and Hagrid manages a small smile at the light of recognition at his name. But then, the boy stares off into the far corner of the room, and without thinking what it is, Hagrid trains his gaze to follow Harry's. All he sees is a shock of dark red hair, and a pale, lifeless hand, peeking out from the rubble, and Hagrid turns away. He feels as though it is a disservice, a dishonour to Lily to not look at her, but he can't. Seeing her and her husband, so young, but gone, never to return, is too much to handle. The child begins to sniffle again, and Hagrid notices that the wee thing looks cold. And then it hits him: it's because of this child that You-Know-Who is gone. It's because of him that all those witches and wizards are safe from the harm and the damage that was previously inflicted on them. It's because of him that the darkest wizard ever is vanquished. Hagrid suddenly sees that this is so much more than fetching a friend's son; it's preserving the hope of the wizarding world. He strides over, kicking away rubble, and gently picks Harry up. The baby sniffles a little at Hagrid's unfamiliar face, but seems trusting enough after Hagrid smiles at him, his beetle eyes crinkling. It's then that Hagrid notices the gash on his forehead. It's such a curious shape…a lightning bolt? He wonders whether it had anything to do with the curse, or whether it was merely coincidence.
"C'mon," he mutters, although it doesn't affect the child. It's more for his own encouragement. Hagrid plods his way out of the house, tears streaming down his face, silently shaking with sobs as he passes Lily and James. Harry makes no noise, wrapped in a blanket that Hagrid has extricated from one of his many pockets with difficulty, and cradled in the giant's mammoth arms. He starts, an alarmed expression on his face as Hagrid does the same at a rumbling in the distance once they're out in the crisp autumn air. A giant motorcycle comes into view, descending from the heavens and coming in to touch down smoothly on the cobbled stone street. The rider, a young man with dark hair falling over his face, scrambles off the bike before it's fully stopped and raises a hand when he sees Hagrid. He sprints to meet them, but stops dead after a few paces when the house comes into view. In the ghostly light of the moon, his handsome face is cast into eerie shadow, but Hagrid recognizes him all the same- it's young Sirius Black. He lets out a heartbroken sob, more of a wail, really, and falls to his knees, his face in his hands.
Hagrid walks over to him, Harry peering over his arms to glimpse the man, and Sirius stands up. His face is tear-streaked, and his bottom lip trembles in a vulnerable way. He is white and shaking, and looks lost, like he doesn't know what to do anymore.
"Hagrid," he begins, but he flounders for words and leaves the sentence hanging. Hagrid can't think of anything else to say, so he hoists Harry more securely into his arms and pats Sirius on the back while he moans and weeps into his hands.
"There, there," Hagrid says, knowing that they are empty words, but his next statement is, undeniably, full of truth. "They didn' die fer nuthin'."
Sirius looks up at that and sees his godson nestled in the crook of Hagrid's arm, still with an upset look on his soft features.
"Harry," he breathes in relief, holding out a hand. The baby wraps a hand around his finger, and the corner of Sirius' mouth tugs up in a reluctant smile. "Give Harry to me Hagrid, I'm his godfather. I'll look after him." He reaches out the other hand to take Harry, but Hagrid turns away.
"No, Sirius. Dumbledore said Harry's ter go ter his aunt an' uncle's."
The younger man frowns a little, tears still leaking out of the corners of his eyes, and he hesitates a moment before speaking in an even voice. "I'm sure Dumbledore has his reasons, Hagrid, but as Harry's appointed guardian I have a duty to care for him."
"Yeh said it yerself," Hagrid argues. "Dumbledore has his reasons."
"That doesn't change the fact that they're Muggles, and they'll never understand him," Sirius exclaims, vehemently gesturing with his hands. "They'll never fully appreciate him. Hagrid, you should have heard the way Lily talked about them- "
"Dumbledore's wiser n' both o' us, I reckon. He'll know what ter do, an' right now, I got ter get this young lad here home," Hagrid concludes, a tone of finality permeating his otherwise measured voice.
Sirius casts a pained look at the child before laying a hand on his forehead. "Alright." Harry closes his eyes sleepily at the contact, and keeps them closed when his godfather removes his hand. "Take the bike to get Harry there. I won't need it anymore."
And with the swish of his billowing black cloak, he disappears into the night. Hagrid looks around, noticing that a few lights are on from the commotion, and strides over to the bike. It's big enough that he can ride on it, so he sits astride it, places the baby securely on his lap, and revs the engine. With a kick of the pedal, he's soon soaring through the air. As he looks down at the infant now sleeping peacefully, the red slash across his forehead at odds with his jet black hair and eyes that Hagrid knows are vivid green, he makes a promise. A promise to keep him safe, as long as he's alive; to keep him whole, to keep him from harm, to do everything in his power to help the boy in front of him.
"I promise yeh, Harry," he whispers.
Hagrid continued to struggle with his bonds, while he looked desperately, despondently, at the young man confronting this fiend, who had caused so much death, so much destruction. He was only one man, but he held the entire battle in the palm of his hand. And as You-Know-Who muttered words that Hagrid could not hear, as he raised his wand, as a flash of green light illuminated the clearing, Hagrid saw Harry Potter fall to the ground, dead, and knew, in his heart, that he had failed to keep his promise.