A/N: This is my very first fanfiction. Actually it’s my first fiction, period; I haven’t written anything before. I’ve been reading HPFF for about a year now, and I’ve only just plucked up the courage to try my hand. This little ficlet was inspired by a song called “Mad World” originally sung by Tears for Fears, but the version I listened to was done by Gary Jules (it’s from Donnie Darko). I highly recommend playing it while you are reading, if that is at all possible for you.
The look on their faces said more than words ever could. No one spoke; none of them seemed capable of anything except identical expressions of blank horror. Yet, they were all there together. It was as if the very earth had taken a breath and, in an instant, they had felt it and moved blindly towards the place where he was lying. At this moment, they weren’t mothers, daughters, friends, fathers, brothers; just people that he had touched in a way that was all his own. Ginny, Molly, Ron, Hermione, Arthur, Fred, Bill, Neville, George, Tonks and Remus all stood there, as still as trees around him for what seemed like hours. They couldn’t look at each other; they knew that seeing their own despair and anguish mirrored would make it all too real.
After an eternity, a noise like the rustle of dead leaves broke the silence. It came from the slightest figure, the girl with red hair.
“Harry…” It was barely a whisper, but they had all heard.
All was still again for an age, as if she hadn’t just spoken. Then, as if jolting herself awake from a nightmare she took a few halting steps in his direction. Her knees gave up when she reached him, but her eyes never left his face.
The others watched dazedly as she slowly and deliberately leaned down to his bruised face. She whispered in his ear words that the others would never hear. As she sat back on her heels, they couldn’t help but notice the look of grim determination on her tear-streaked face. Dark hope slowly crept into each of them as they watched her sit steadfastly beside him. Somehow they all knew without a doubt that she would reach him.
They had all known what would be required of him to end it once and for all. They all knew it was a possibility, yet none of them ever really thought he would die. When the very air around them was swallowed up, it could have only meant one thing. He couldn’t possibly still be alive. Nevertheless, they were all shocked when they came upon his lifeless form. But when this girl, the one who loved him so fiercely, knelt by his side, looking for all the world as if she were prepared to fight off the hounds of hell, none of them could contradict her.
~ * ~
He stood nearby, there but not there, watching them all. Though each of their faces were frozen in horror, he saw their souls. There was regret, pain, anger, despair, longing, sorrow, and all on his behalf. He wanted to tell them everything was alright; that things had probably worked out for the best this way. He was more than a little ashamed to admit that he was relieved that it was finally over, after seeing the pain on the faces of the people he cared most about, especially her. He had only just begun to turn and walk towards the bright warmth and away from his loved ones, ready to start this new journey, when he heard her voice whisper in his ear from a million miles away.
“Come back, Harry. We’ve got many more years to come.”
It took him a while to make sense of this, but eventually he remembered what he had once said to her on the day another loved one was put to rest.
“I just wish I’d asked you sooner. We could have had ages… months… years maybe.”
He had never told her, but he had never felt such a burning in his heart as he said these words, thinking of what might have been. At the time, he attributed it to the bottomless sorrow of that day, but as he felt it again he knew it was something else entirely. He wanted more than anything to have more time with her, to hold her hand and kiss her cheek. It was his deepest desire to look into her eyes again, to see her soul bared to him and to bare his own in turn. He had never had much experience with love, but still he knew. He loved her as he had never loved another, not even his parents who had given their lives for him. As he pondered this, he realized that a boy who had lived 11 years without ever feeling love was somehow filled with that very thing. He thought of his surrogate family, of the very first friends he ever had in his life, of the ones who loved him both because of who he was and who his parents had been to them, and of the ones who had sworn to protect him with their very lives. It seemed odd to him that he was only just noticing what had been in his heart all this time.
He couldn’t leave them all yet. As inviting as warm oblivion was, he knew he wanted many more years with these people gathered round his broken body on the cold ground. He had to have many more years with her.
Against all odds, they saw his eyes flicker and slowly open, locking with the bright brown ones directly above him. Immediately, pain more intense than any he had ever felt came rushing back into his battered body. Only one thing was on his mind, though, as he gave her a pain-filled smile.
I couldn’t leave you. I’ll never leave you, he thought. As he tried to form the words,
“-you,” was all that came out. She knew exactly what he meant. She returned his pained smile with one of her own as tears of relief, and of the sorrow that might have been poured down her cold cheeks.
There would be more pain for them all. Life would inevitably provide tragedies and disappointments, as it had always done. But for once, they all were sure that there would be many more years, come what may.
~ * ~
The familiar quote comes from p. 647 of the US edition of Half-Blood Prince.