(Author's note: Liberal borrowings from Aaron Allston's X-Wing: Iron Fist. The man is a god, and it's still the only book I've ever cried over. I like to think of it as a tribute - rather than just ripping it off - as without Aaron's books, I doubt I'd be writing today. I've tried to make my story as different as can be, while still retaining that emotional punch I can only dream of being able to deliver. Oh, and this is the second version of this story, as the first version ended a bit abruptly for some tastes.)
"Mr Weasley? I'm Doctor Standish."
"Doctor, how's Harry?"
"Mr Weasley, I'm sorry. . ."
"Ron. . ."
"Hermione, I can't believe it. It can't end like this, can it? Not after all we've been through?"
"We were. . . We were ambushed. Death Eaters. There were so many! But Harry. . ."
"Shh. . . It's okay. Take your time."
"Harry fought so hard. He was amazing, Hermione! I thought that we'd be okay. Then he arrived."
"Yeah. The filthy bastard waited until Harry could barely stand. Then he Apparated in and hit him in the back. . ."
"Ron, it's okay. You can do this another time."
"No, you should know this. Harry just shrugged it off. Anyone else, they would have been dead, or knocked out at least. But Harry just took it. It was like it didn't matter to him."
"He was a great wizard."
"He was our friend."
"Yes, he was."
"I was on the other side of Voldemort. When he turned around, I could see Harry's face. He just looked tired, Hermione. Do you remember when Dumbledore died? How Harry looked then? It was just like that."
"Harry came towards Voldemort and just backhanded him. It sounded like thunder. It must have been a spell, but not one I've ever heard of."
"I think that maybe Aberforth taught him something. Something that Dumbledore was working on, a last desperate tactic..."
"Yeah. He must have done, I 'spose. Whatever it was, it worked. Voldemort went over like he was made of paper."
"What happened next?"
"Harry came forward, and Voldemort waved his wand. Oh, oh God. . ."
"Ron. . ."
"It was the Killing Curse, Hermione. Avada Kedavra. And Harry caught it."
"He caught it. I swear to God, he caught the Killing Curse. He held it in his hand, but there was green light all over him. He must have known, right? He must have known that would happen?"
"Probably. It does sound like Harry."
"Then he punched Voldemort with the Killing Curse in his hand. And that's the last thing I remember."
"It seems that everybody felt it. Some people are still in St. Mungo's."
"Yeah. I'm not surprised. When I woke up, Harry was lying against a wall. He seemed quite cheerful."
"Yeah. He was sitting there, scribbling away on a bit of parchment. Merlin knows where he got it from. He looked at me, and just grinned."
"Glad to see you woke up. I was getting pretty worried."
"What happened? Did Voldemort, I mean, is he. . ?"
"Gone. I think he is, anyway. I'm pretty sure."
"Well, it's. . . not really that important. It's something I learned how to do."
"You learned to catch the Killing Curse? Bloody hell, Harry."
"I know it sounds weird, but. . ."
"Weird? If I hadn't seen you do it. . . And how the hell did you learn? Did you just let someone chuck Killing Curses at you 'til you got it right?"
"Er, no. We weren't. . . sure it was going to work, to be honest."
"You weren't sure? You weren't sure?"
"Ron, don't shout. I've got a bit of a headache."
"A headache! You're lucky to be alive!"
"Yeah, about that. . . Here, take this."
"What is it?"
"A will. Some last thoughts."
"No, not last thoughts. You can't mean. . ."
"Yeah. I'm pretty sure. I mean, I caught a Killing Curse. I couldn't just do that and it not. . . have any affect on me, you know?
"Oh. Hey, hang on then. We can get you to St Mungo's. They can take care of you."
"Can't. I. . . already tried Apparating. And calling for help. There's too much. . . magic. Too much inter. . . ference."
"I tried carrying him, but my leg was torn up and I couldn't get very far. He was right, I couldn't use my wand. I dragged him a bit, and then finally Lupin found us. But it was too late."
"You do know that there was nothing that you could have done, don't you?"
"Yeah, the doctors said he'd been gone for hours when they found us. I just. . ."
"Ron, I know. . ."
"We were just shopping, Hermione. Why did it happen like that? Harry should have had everyone there to protect him, not just me."
"I wish I could say something to make you feel better. You helped Harry a lot, we know that. It says so in the letter."
"The letter he left. The first bit was for everyone. Most of it was just for you, though. No one's read it, of course."
"Here. I'll let you have some peace to read it."
"Right. Thanks, Hermione."
"You know where to find me."
Voldemort is gone.
I thought that everyone would want to know that.
Don't ask me how I know - if you're reading this then you can't anyway, because I'm dead. Sorry, black humour. Hey, Sirius would have laughed. Get it? Black humour? - because I just know. He was here, and I thought my head would explode, and now he's not. I guess whatever it was that Professor Dumbledore prepared for me worked.
Once I've finished writing, I can ask him.
He once told me that, to the well organised mind, death was just the next great adventure. I'm beginning to understand what he meant. I'll be able to see my parents again, and Sirius. I'll be able to meet all my family. I guess it's time.
I'm quite looking forward to it.
I know, it sounds really morbid. Well, again, if you're reading this, then I was right, wasn't I?
Still, the important thing is that Voldemort is gone. Everyone have a party. It's what you did last time, when my parents died. It's what you should do this time. And if you want to raise a glass to me, then mine's a Butterbeer.
The rest of this letter is for Ron Weasley's eyes only. Anyone else reading it will get hit with the Bat Bogey Hex. (You'll have to get Ginny Weasley to do it to you. She never did teach me that spell in the end. There were a lot of things that we...)
Ron was there. He's a hero. The ordinary wizard - I don't mean that in a bad way - who survived the final battle. He was amazing. Make sure he's all right.
I'm not going to go into the pathology of this, mainly 'cos I don't know enough to be sure. Suffice to say that my left side feels completely numb, which might mean a heart attack, I guess. I can't breathe properly, either, so there might be a collapsed lung. Basically, I don't think I'm going to live. I wish that I could fight, but it's just...
I like to think that you're going to take this quite hard - if not, don't tell me - but you shouldn't, although don't think that I don't appreciate it. You were great. You took down nearly half the Death Eaters, and that gave me enough strength to take out Voldemort. If you're sitting there, moping about how you could have done more, stop it. The only people responsible for my death are Voldemort and me. It's a private affair, so get lost, right?
I don't really have time to do a will. It takes effort, and there's all sorts of legal mumbo-jumbo. So you're it. I don't mean you get all the money, but you get to decide who gets it. I imagine there's some sort of war orphans fund. I'd like some of it to go there.
There should enough left to you that you can get yourself a ticket to every game the Cannons play next season. I think it's going to be a good year. If you don't go, then Hermione can use the money for S.P.E.W. I want some money to go to that, too, though.
I guess you'll get to be famous, now. I hope you enjoy it. I don't mean that in a nasty way, but you actually did something to be proud of. I was only little when I stopped Voldemort the first time. You survived the final battle against him. That's pretty good going, mate. I'm proud of you.
Then again, I've been proud of you since second year. Yeah, the second year. Not the first year, with the Philosopher's Stone. That was good, but if I was proud of you, I'd have to be proud of myself, too, and, well, I'm not going to waste my time discussing my insecurities and hang-ups here.
No, it was the second year, when you tried to hex Malfoy, remember? With all the slugs? You were puking slugs, and still trying to get at Malfoy to defend Hermione.
I told you, didn't I? I was nearly put in Slytherin. The Hat wanted me to go there, said I'd be great. I would have been, too. I would have taken Voldemort's place. Either that or died early when my ambition got the better of me.
But you kept me grounded, mate. You were always there, always a show of what I was fighting for. I've got a lot to thank you for. You and your family took me in when the only home I'd known was with the Dursleys. I'd have done anything for any of you for that.
And you pretty much always stood by me. Even when you didn't, it was always my fault. Sorry about that, but I'm glad you stuck by me.
I guess. . . In the end, I always had to live for now. There wasn't a future, really. There was just the now, and now I suppose there's not even that.
I'm looking at the stars. They're beautiful, Ron. Why didn't I ever notice that before? All sorts of things that I should have done, and now I won't have that chance. . .
I'm getting lightheaded, and you're starting to wake up. I don't have much time, and this isn't turning out how I imagined.
I guess what it comes down to is this:
Thanks for being my friend. I needed one, and you were it.
"If Harry had fought. . . He was talking like he'd given up. Could he have survived?"
". . ."
"I don't know. Maybe, maybe not."
"He never thought of the future. Never. He never dared. . . Never thought that he'd survive. And he didn't."
"Now... I don't know. I need time to think. I have a now, and a future. That's more than Harry has."
"We'll be here when you make your choice."
"And the Cannons win! The Cannons win! The Chudley Cannons are the Quidditch Champions of Great Britain and Ireland! After a wait of more than a century, the Cannons are the Champions!"
"He was right. Harry was right."
"He usually was, about the important things, anyway."
"I'll never forget him."
"No-one will, Ron."
"But it's time to move on, isn't it?"
"I think so, yes."
"He gave us a future. He gave his life so that we could have a future, and the cocky bugger even got me a Championship for the Cannons as well."
"That sounds like Harry."
"I guess... I guess he's happy now, with his family, watching us."