He had received a Dementor's kiss. You couldn't believe it. You can't believe it even now, after all these years that he has lain on that bed, hardly breathing and kept alive by that ... ‘machine.'
You and your friends were fighting against Dementors and Death Eaters; the Dark Lord had been defeated, but his followers were still trying to fight and to escape.
A few seconds before, he had been alive, fighting the Dementor and telling you that ‘Everything will come out all right.' A few seconds after, he was only a shell. He was ‘gone,' as someone had told you. His beautiful eyes that often had looked at you with anger, with love, with friendship, and with amusement had become empty and fixed, as if he was blind. His body, that until a few seconds before had fought and tried to protect you; his body, that had been so alive, so strong, was now still, able only to breathe and swallow. His voice, which had often consoled you, yelled at you ... would never say a word again.
You had cried, implored. You had shaken that doll-like body, prayed for him to come back, to look at you again, to smile again.
Someone, you couldn't remember who, had grabbed you by the shoulder. You were too shocked to have accurate memories.
"Let him go! Don't you understand? He's gone. You can't do anything to bring him back!" he had said, hugging you. But you had fought with all your strength to tear yourself from his embrace.
"NO! He's not gone, you see? He's still alive, he can breathe ... he's not gone! He's not gone, ..." you had started to repeat, as though it were a nursery rhyme. You were crying, yelling, screaming. Your face had turned red, and your hands had fought against those of a person who only wanted to calm you down.
The last Dementor, the one that had stolen the soul of the most important person in your world, had been trapped. All the Death Eaters had been captured. Dead bodies had lain all around amidst the blood. Other people had cried over the corpses as you had cried on his body. The only difference was that he hadn't been a corpse. He was still alive. He breathed, blinked, swallowed; blood ran through his veins, his heart still beat. But he was gone. He was bloody gone. Why? It wasn't fair.
You had torn away from the person who was trying to console you -- console you; as if that was possible -- and fallen to your knees, hugging that breathing and living body. You didn't want to let him go.
You had brought him home. He had stood up and walked straight, following you as you gave him your hand, guided him, gave him directions. He had sat down in the living room, drank the water you brought to him and swallowed the food you had tried to make him eat. His fixed eyes still blinked, and his chest still moved up and down with every breath.
You knew that he was only a living golem, that his soul ... his soul was now bearing the worst of punishments, trapped forever and experiencing a pain he didn't deserve to endure. He, who had already suffered so much in his short life, was condemned to suffer for the whole of eternity. Was it fair?
No, your voice had screamed within your head, it's not fair at all.
You knew that it wasn't fair. You also knew that there was nothing you could do about it. But you didn't care. Until you saw his chest rising to take a breath, his eyes blinking, you would have done everything in your power to keep him alive. He didn't have a soul anymore, but he was alive.
Then a few days after the final battle, he had started to scream. You had been sitting on your favourite armchair, talking to him as if he could reply and showing him a jumper you wanted him to wear; but everything fell from your hands as you ran to the sound of his wails. He was having convulsions. You had thought that it was the end. You had started praying to God, a being whose existence you were uncertain of and had never really cared about before. You had started to yell, begging for someone, anyone, to help you. Hermione had ran to your side, who knew from where. She had tried to part you from his shaking body.
"He's dying. You can't do anything to save him. I saw that he was breathing slower today. You can't do anything to save him. Let him go."
"NO! I know that he's still alive! There must be a way to keep him alive. Hermione, ... I don't want him to die. Please! Please, help me!" you had yelled, trying to escape from Hermione's embrace and keep holding that shaking body. But Hermione hadn't let you go. In the end, you had to give up and hug her back. You had started to cry. You didn't' want to, but tears had started to fall from your eyes and you weren't able to stop them. "I don't want him to leave me alone ..."
"But you're not alone. We're with you, you know," Hermione had tried to say. But you didn't want to hear her words; it wasn't the same thing. You loved them with all your heart, but it wasn't the same thing.
Hermione had tried to convince you for a moment that had seemed infinite, then she had torn herself from your arms and stared into your eyes.
"If you really don't want him to die, I know that there's a way to keep him breathing. But ... it's not fair," she said. Your heart had skipped a beat at these words. There really was a way to keep him breathing? Why the hell hadn't she said anything before?
"I don't care! Tell me! What should I do?" you had demanded. Hermione's frown had turned blank.
"Wait for me, I'll be right back," she had said before she Disapparated, leaving you alone. Where had she gone? you wondered. You had been alone with that screaming body, hoping that he would keep yelling and shaking, because as long as he kept screaming, he'd be alive. You had been alone for a time that felt eternal, but in reality, the hands of the clock in the living room showed that only a few minutes had passed.
Hermione Apparated back.
"I went to a Muggle telephone box. I called an ambulance, they will be here in minutes," she had said. Somehow, you had calmed down a bit. You hugged the screaming boy and tried to cuddle him, to make him feel your warmth.
"But there's something you must know," Hermione had continued. "The Muggles will think that he's in a coma. They will plug him to a respirator ... a machine that will keep him alive by controlling his vital functions and giving him what is necessary for him to live. But it will never be the same thing. He will lie on a Muggle hospital bed; he will breathe and maybe his eyes will blink, but he won't be alive. He's gone. You must understand that. He's gone, ..." she had said.
In a small part of your brain, you knew that she was right. You knew that you should've let him go, but you ... you just couldn't.
"I know, Hermione. Thank you for your help," you had muttered, as the sound of sirens came closer and a strange vehicle stopped in front of your house.
Hermione had touched your cheek with her hand in a soft caress and stood up. Three men dressed in white came into your house and ran to your living room. They had approached the screaming body and started to work frantically on it. After a few seconds, they had finished. The body was lain down on something similar to a bed and rolled into that strange machine that had stopped in front of your garden.
You had sat down at the right side of the small bed, with Hermione sitting close to you. The people in white had kept talking to each other, saying things you didn't understand. They put a sort of mask on his face and they put a needle into his arm, linking him to a sort of upside-down bottle. They linked him with other strange threads to a machine on the other side of the thing Hermione had called "ambulance" that was uttering a strange and regular beep. Hermione explained to you that the sound was his heartbeat.
After a trip that had seemed endless to you -- everything was everlasting for you that day -- the car stopped. The men in white stood up, and you had stood up as well, followed by Hermione. They opened the doors of the machine and moved the strange bed on which he was lying, carrying it into the hospital. You had followed the bed and the doctors. Hermione held your waist with her arm and tried to give you some comforting hugs.
You had paced a white corridor, walking up and down on the shining floor, waiting for the doctors to tell you something. But you hadn't actually needed to know anything. You'd already known what they would've said. After some time had passed, you saw a doctor exiting the room where they had brought him. You had stood up from your chair, and Hermione approached from her place beside the window to once again take a hold of your waist.
"You're a relative of his?" the doctor asked. You nodded. You actually were not, but it was as if you were. "He's in a coma. We have tried everything to revive him, but it seems irreversible. His brain is not functioning." You hadn't known what all of this meant. But you knew what he was trying to tell you -- that it would be better if he died. You stared at him with your eyes widened.
"No, please, don't let him die," you had begged.
Three years had passed by now. Years in which you had came here every day, Apparating to a short distance from the hospital and then coming into it as a normal Muggle to stay with him. Years in which you had asked for a Muggle phone to be installed into your house so you could be kept updated on his condition, even if you knew well that no news would come from him. Years in which you had sat down on this chair next to his bed, holding his hand and moving your thumb over its back.
Even now, his body is still warm. The machine to which he's linked always beeps regularly. The nurse arrives every two hours to change the upside-down bottle and to check the mask that keeps him alive. But you know ... you know that he's only a shell.
The doctor comes in, as he does every day, greeting you and checking his condition. As he does every day, he approaches you and whispers into your ear, "What shall we do with him?"
"Keep that bloody machine working," you hiss, your fists shaking.
The man glances at you and his pity is evident in his frown. But he doesn't dare say anything and nods in reply. He goes away and closes the door after him. A few moments later, the door opens again, and someone comes into the room, approaching you and sitting at your left. Your eyes are filled with tears, and you can't see who it is at first. You wipe your eyes with your sleeve and glance again at the person. It's Hermione.
"How is he?" she says. You move your head, motioning for her to look at him. She knows, as you know yourself, that he's always there, always in the same condition, always breathing and kept alive by that machine. Hermione sighs and glances at him for a long, melancholic moment. Then, her face turns to you, and her gloomy stare turns into a frown. "Don't you think that you've kept him here long enough?" she asks.
You shake your head, unable to utter a word. There was a need to call Hermione? You told the doctor every day that you didn't want him to die. You told the doctor that you wanted him to keep breathing, even if, as he said, the coma was irreversible. The doctor had always accepted your words ... for long years. Why did he call Hermione today?
Hermione sighs again and stands up, leaving the room. After a few minutes, in which you fought against bursting into tears, the doctor comes back and approaches.
"I know how you feel," he says.
No, you think, you don't know how I feel. Nobody knows how I feel.
"I know that it's hard, ... but it's time to let him go. You can't do anything for him. In truth, he's been clinically dead since the day you brought him here. Only the respirator keeps him alive. Don't you think that he deserves to rest?" he says.
No, you think. You can't understand. Even if these machines are stopped, even if his heart stops beating, he won't rest. His soul won't rest ... his soul is trapped, condemned to live forever. Nobody can make him rest. Even if he's ‘clinically dead,' as long as his heart beats, he's with me. "I don't want him to leave me alone, ..." you say.
"You know, I shouldn't be the one to talk this way to you. But ... until you let him go, you'll be trapped in his memory. You're keeping yourself alone, trapping yourself with him. Let him go, let him rest." He sits down next to you and puts a hand on your shoulder. You shrug it off and address him with a glare.
"You're right. You're not the one who should be telling me this. You don't know what happened. How could you, anyway? So ... shut up and go away!" you hiss. The doctor sighs and stands up.
"As you wish, Miss. But ... there's a child who's arrived today in the hospital. We don't have any machines free, and her brain is still alive. She's in a coma, and we can't save her. We don't have a respirator available, and the oxygen bottle she's using won't last forever, ..." he says. Then he leaves.
Your heart sinks. You stare at the door, your eyes wide, as blood drains from your face. You stand up and give a last glance at his body, lying on the hospital bed. You approach the door and go out, looking for the toilet. You're feeling a pain at your stomach, and you don't want to vomit in his room.
As you approach the toilet's door, you see a couple of Muggles crying. The doctor who talked to you has just left them. You cross them on your way, and hear them whisper, "It's the end."
Your heart sinks even more as you reach the toilet. You approach the basin and stare at your reflection in the mirror. The world around you is moving. You are struck by an intense headache, and the eyes of the woman staring at you from the mirror seem to accuse you. You are sick of yourself.
As you come out the toilet, the world is still moving and turning around you. You stagger until you reach the sniffling couple standing outside a room and staring inside. Your stare follows theirs, and you see her -- a small child of four or maybe five. Her face is covered by a mask similar to the one you stare at every day, and her arm is linked to an upside-down bottle, similar to the one that keeps him alive. But there is no sound of beeping; no machine with strange instruments and lights is in the room. You feel horrible.
"She's my daughter," says the woman, who the man was hugging a few moments ago. "She fell from a tree trying to get her cat to come down. The doctors ..." The woman's voice cracks, and you feel even worse. "The doctors said that they don't have the machine she needs available. They are trying to find another hospital where we can bring her, but it could be too late." The woman starts to cry again, and her husband hugs her. You start to cry as well and move away. You come back into the room where you have almost lived for three years now and stare at his face, again. He's still, as always. The mask still covers his face, his breath is still regular and the beep of the machine is still regular as well, telling you that his heart is still beating.
What would he have done? In this situation, what would he have wanted you to do? You stare under the mask at his relaxed face. You pass your hand through his untidy hair and maintain your caress, touching his warm face. His eyes, open and blinking, are staring at the ceiling as they have since the day you brought him here. Your fingers reach his cheek, then slide down his jaw.
You know. You know what he would've done. You know that he never would've wanted...
You leave the room and walk straight to the doctor who had talked to you a few moments ago. You stare at him, tears falling from your eyes. He stares at you and you nod. His face brightens, and his eyes say more than what he had dared tell you before. You know that it's the best thing you could do.
The doctor walks to the couple still staring at the window, and a jovial yell comes from the woman's throat. The doctor points to you with his hand, and the couple glances at you, somehow surprised to know that it is you they have to thank. The woman stares at you and smiles, still crying with joy. You nod and smile, but your heart hurts.
Then, the doctor approaches his room and goes in. You come in as well, following him.
"Are you sure it's what you really want, Miss Weasley?" the doctor asks. You nod, as it's impossible for you to utter a word. The doctor takes some papers from his pocket, and asks you to sign them. You can't read them well: too many tears are falling from your eyes, misting your sight and preventing you from making out the words, but you know that they are the authorization to let him die. You feel horrible signing the papers, but you know. You know that he'd have signed them as well.
The doctor takes the papers and stares at you, grateful. "You did the right thing," he says, then orders his assistants to stop the machine. A few seconds pass, then no more sound fills the room. No more lights flash on the various displays on the wall. Only the beeping makes you know that his heart is still beating, and it comes ever slower.
You approach his still-breathing body, but you know that, in few seconds, it will stop. You lean to his face and give him a kiss on his forehead covered with his jet-black hair.
"Goodbye, Harry," you whisper into his ear as the sound of his breath fades and his chest stops moving. The beep of the machine becomes long and fixed. The doctor glances at his watch and writes on his paper, ‘Time of death: 11:35 AM'.
You glance at his dead body one more time. Your eyes fill with tears of frustration and pain when you notice it. It's not fair ... You can't stand it any more. You walk straight to the door and go out, closing it after you. Hermione and Ron are outside, and you sink into their embrace. It's not fair, you think. It's not bloody fair ...
The doctors had removed the mask from his face, and by doing this, they also let something show -- the most painful detail of all. Now that he was dead, there was no more sign on his forehead of his scar.