Chapter 1 : To the well-organized mind . . .
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Harry Potter had faced death more times, perhaps, than anyone else had ever had, or should have to face. At age one he had watched his parents die, and became an orphan. At fourteen, he had watched Cedric Diggory murdered in cold blood, and had to cope with the reality of death. Then, only a year later, witnessed the death of his godfather, Sirius Black, and had wanted to die himself because of it.
At sixteen he had lost his mentor, his guide, his hero, Albus Dumbledore, and was left completely alone and responsible for not only himself and his friends, but the fate of the entire wizarding world. In the Battle of Hogwarts and the events leading up to it, he had lost more people, seen more friends die, than he ever had before, and had even died himself. But they had won the war, and Harry had faced his own personal demons and defeated Voldemort.
Finally, in his nearly eighteen years of life, Harry Potter saw no more untimely death.
Harry had then been free to live his life, and learn what true happiness was. He married Ginny Weasley, and had three children, and they brought such joy in his life that he had never known before. He loved his family with all his heart, something he had never been able to say before.
Harry also became an Auror, along with Ron, and within a few years, Harry’s new ideas and his reformation of Auror policies won him the head office. Crime was at the lowest rate it had been in centuries and there was, at long last, peace.
After Kingsley Shacklebolt had retired as minister, the entire population of wizarding Briton demanded he take the job. Reluctantly, he had, and the ministry functioned better than it ever had under his care. New, better policies took hold, and he was quite a popular minister.
Quite a few years later, after all his children had left Hogwarts, he left the office, and retired. He spent a few happy, quiet years with his wife.
Then his quiet life was uprooted when the Headmistress of Hogwarts asked him to take the job of Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher. By this time he had become quite restless, and happily jumped at the offer.
Harry had loved being an Auror, but he realized that teaching young witches and wizards how to properly defend themselves had been what he had been meant to do. If he truly thought about it, he might have known it all along, ever since he was fifteen and taught Dumbledore’s Army.
By now Harry had grown a bit older. His jet black hair had turned an iron gray, his face was lined with age. He also started to grow a beard. Ginny had not been amused with this decision, but had gotten used to it, though it was still a favorite standby argument when they became bored.
His three children had all married and had children of their own, who were by now all in Hogwarts. Harry loved having all twelve of his grandchildren in classes. And, he was pleased to report, they were all excellent students.
And then, Harry experienced a kind of death he never had before—a natural one. At the age of one-hundred-twenty-five, Minerva McGonagall had reached the end of her life. And so, Harry became Headmaster.
Harry had not quite known what to make of her death. He had never experienced such a thing before and, though Harry was far from being afraid of death, it had unnerved him. He had not had to deal with death in so long, that the mourning process was quite difficult for him. But, eventually, Harry had pushed through, and became as good of a Headmaster as Albus Dumbledore.
This was but the first of his old friends to die off naturally. Kingsley was next to go, and then (Harry had not been so distressed since Fred Weasley’s death), Molly and Arthur Weasley were buried in the ground next to their son in Ottery St. Catchpole’s cemetery.
After that went Hagrid, and that had by far been the worst. It had been his older self’s Dobby, and it had changed him. When Charlie died not long after, Harry retired from Hogwarts.
At the age of one hundred and twenty, he knew his time was drawing near. He waited for Death to come to him as an old friend, spending the remaining years of his life with his wife, his closest friends, and his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Harry had long since accepted the fact that his oldest friends, colleagues, and family members were quickly dying off. Nevertheless, it had come as a shock when Ron had died. Harry was devastated. Though he knew Ron was in a better place (Harry knew quite well where his friends were, having been there himself once before), Harry could not help but miss him.
Next was Hermione, and, though Harry was quite as distraught as he had been when Ron had died, he accepted this fact with surprising ease.
Harry knew his time was coming, and soon. He was quite older than either of his best friends had been when they had gone, and Harry felt it in his very soul that he would soon have to depart this life for another. In fact, he was quite looking forward to it. His worst fear, however, was that he would go before Ginny and leave his wife alone.
Harry was grateful when she died before himself, though it had been by far the worst death Harry had ever experienced. It took several years off his already depleting life and was quite rough on him. He hardly ever left the house and Harry saw the pity in his grandchildren’s eyes when they came to visit.
And only a year later, when he had reached the ripe old age of one hundred and fifty, Harry knew. It was time.
He thought back over all this as he lay on his deathbed. Harry had indeed lived a long, full life, and he was more than ready to leave this world for the next one. The next great adventure . . . as Dumbledore had always said.
The moment of his death, he knew, was only a few short hours away. It was time to say good-bye to those he loved and would be leaving behind. His great-grandchildren with their parents came first, and Harry loved that they were so young and full of life, and had, hopefully, long lives ahead of them. They had shed their tears, said their last goodbyes.
Harry was blissfully unaware of the fact that the press were banging on the doors, begging to catch the last moments of the Boy-Who-Lived. But they were thankfully held back, due in a large part to the Aurors and his grandchildren and an undertone of respect.
Now, in the last few hours of his life, his aging children surrounded him. Their hair was streaked with grey, their faces lined with age, yet Harry saw only the small children they once were. His beautiful daughter, Lily, who looked so like Ginny, and his two sons, Albus and James. Both were like their namesakes in that James had a knack for creating trouble and bringing a smile to people’s faces, and Albus, who like Dumbledore was quite wise and had a quirky way of saying things that made you think. But Albus was also like Harry in that he saw his younger self in his youngest son.
Harry, like his ancestor, Ignotus Peverell, was going to die a natural death, undefeated. And so, as Harry had intended to happen nearly one hundred and thirty years ago, the power of the Elder Wand would be broken, and would cause no more bloodshed in the desire for the repulsive object.
As for the other Hallows, the Resurrection Stone still lay where he had dropped it in the forest so long ago, unfound and unnoticed, as far as Harry knew. The invisibility cloak was still in his possession. He had, of course, loaned it to his children whenever they had need. But, knowing how the magic worked, kept it in his ownership until now, on his deathbed, when he was ready to greet Death as an old friend, when he would pass on the Cloak.
“Albus,” croaked Harry, his voice old and raspy. His youngest son drew near, and took his father’s wrinkled, liver-spotted hand.
“Get the cloak.”
The atmosphere in the room changed dramatically. His children tensed. They stared at their father with despair in their eyes. This finalized it, made it more real than anything else could, though they had known all along. Albus gently dropped his father’s hand and left the room. Fifteen minutes he returned, the silvery invisibility cloak in his hands. And Harry thought back to long ago, when he opened that Christmas package and first placed his hands on the silky fabric.
Use it well.
Harry certainly had.
James and Lily watched as Albus offered the cloak to his father. Harry placed his hands on his trusty old invisibility cloak, remembering all the times he had spent under it with a fondness, but did not take it.
“Albus,” said Harry to his son, and they looked at each other, identical green eyes meeting, one pair happy, the other sad. “It’s time. It belongs to you now.”
Lily had started to cry, silent tears streaming down her face. Harry looked between them, his heart swelling. James looked sad, but Harry saw the hint of responsibility Harry rarely saw that came from being the oldest child. Harry knew he would take care of his siblings. Albus was sad and mournful, looking down at the folded cloak in his hands. Harry knew he was holding back tears. Lily was the only one crying outright. She gripped her father’s hand tightly, sniffing quietly.
“Don’t cry, Lily,” said Harry, placing a hand on her cheek. This, of course, only made her cry harder as she placed her hand over his. “We’ll see each other again.”
Albus was now crying, too. Tears splashed onto the cloak.
“You look so like your mother, lovely Lily,” whispered Harry reassuringly. “I’m going to see her again, and your aunts and uncles, and your grandparents, all of them.”
Lily could not help but smile through her tears at her father’s happy grin.
“Daddy,” she said, sounding like the young child Harry remembered. He lowered his hand, and turned to his middle child, who, (though he would never admit it) was his favorite. He loved them all equally, of course, but Albus was too much like himself not to be his favorite.
“Your namesake once said that to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure. Don’t be sad for me, there’s nothing to be sorry about. I’m going to the place I turned down when I was seventeen. I know, because of you three, that I made the right decision to come back.”
They said nothing, they all knew his famous story, even the parts that were not so famous.
“James,” whispered Harry, and his eldest son came forward. “Take care of them. Remember me, remember what I did, so others might learn from it.”
“How could we forget you, dad?” said James quietly and seriously. A rare moment, James Potter being serious.
Harry smiled, and all of them were still, waiting, for a long time. Harry’s body racked with coughs, and his children rushed to help him or call the nurse, but Harry waved them off. The time was too soon to worry about it. Death was impatient.
This time was the same as before, he knew he was going to die. Yet he felt so different about it. He was not walking cold-blooded to his own destruction, but was warm and safe in his bed. His tired heart had already beat a lifetime’s worth of beats. He was not afraid. He knew what was going to happen, where he was going. There was no turning back, just as there had been no turning back when he was seventeen.
“My family,” he said, looking at his children, warmth filling his dying heart. They smiled, listening to him. “I never had one as a child, and now . . . here I am, surrounded by them. I love all of you so much. I’m so proud of each of you. I’m so grateful to have a family. There’s nothing quite like it.”
Now all his children were crying, and held some part of him. His hands, his shoulder.
“Lily,” said Harry softly, and his daughter looked up at him. “Will you read it to me?”
“Of course, daddy,” she said, sniffing. From beneath her cloak she drew a small, weathered, ancient-looking book, and opened it to the last story at the back of the book.
“There were once three brothers who were traveling along a lonely, winding road at twilight . . .”
They all listened quietly, tears streaming down their cheeks, and Harry felt Death’s gentle embrace. Death took his time, letting Harry listen to his ancestor’s story in his daughter’s sad, beautiful voice. He was grateful that his sons had closed their eyes and Lily was looking down at the pages, so they would not see him leave this world for another, would not see the life leave his eyes.
“. . . And then he greeted Death as an old friend, and went with him gladly, and, equals, they departed this life.”
The three children looked up at the story’s conclusion to their father. What they saw made Lily burst into tears and rock back and forth, snapping the book shut.
Harry Potter’s brilliant green eyes looked up unseeingly through his round glasses, his long grey hair and beard sparkled in the faint light. That along with his pale skin gave him an ethereal appearance. A small, happy smile lingered on his face. The faint scar on his forehead caught the light and gleamed. His chest was perfectly still, no breath, no heartbeat.
Albus wrapped his arms around his sister’s shaking shoulders. James sat near his father’s head, stunned. He looked up at his siblings, and they looked back at him with watery eyes. He went to them, held them both, and all three looked down at the Boy-Who-Lived, and knew he had left them.
Harry landed in a place he had been only once before. As before, the flat surface he laid on was neither cool nor warm, only a flat place to be, and he was naked.
Harry sat up, and noticed, as he did so, that his body was no longer old and decrepit, his hair was no longer silvery and long, his beard was gone. His face was smooth and firm. His hair was jet black and thick again. The scars on his chest, forearm, hand and forehead along with the various others and the agespots were not there, only smooth unbroken skin.
Harry looked around, standing. They were the same as before, King’s Cross Station. There was no writhing creature under a bench this time, no shadow of Voldemort. He was free of the taint, as he had been for over a century. On a bench nearby lay the pure white robes he had worn before. He pulled them on.
“Harry, my old friend, we meet again.”
The figure of Albus Dumbledore was striding towards him, clad in white like Harry, younger than he had been in life, both hands whole and undamaged, his silver beard like the one Harry had sported gleaming in the bright white light.
“Hello, professor,” greeted Harry, smiling at his old mentor. “Have you been here all this time?”
“Yes, my dear boy,” said Dumbledore. “I have been waiting for you. And you have indeed kept me waiting!”
“You have had a wonderful life, Harry. Minister of Magic! And Headmaster to boot, my goodness!”
Dumbledore’s eyes twinkled in amusement.
“But that’s not the important stuff,” said Harry.
“No, it isn’t,” said Dumbledore, watching him good-humoredly. “Family is more important. We have both learned our lesson on that. Though I daresay you might have got the better end of the bargain.”
This made Harry laugh. Dumbledore smiled, and waited for him to speak. Harry looked around absently, thinking of his family. Those he had not seen in years, those he had barely knew but loved, and those who had stuck by him for so long.
“And they’re here too?” he asked, looking up hopefully. “Waiting for me? Ginny? And . . . Ron and Hermione, and my parents?”
“Of course they are, Harry, and many more besides. Are you ready?”
“Almost,” said Harry, and he looked behind him, and saw them there, looked down on them as though there was a hole in the floor. His three children were clustered around his body. James was closing his body’s eyes. He looked at them a long time before turning back to Dumbledore. “Yes. I’m ready.”
Harry looked around. Instead of the empty tracks that had been there before, there now sat a train that looked quite like the Hogwarts Express. It was not loud or noisy, though Harry felt as though King’s Cross was quite as crowded as was usual on September the First.
They appeared to him, one by one, each of them shining, emanating a brilliant light, younger and more beautiful than they had been in life. First Ginny, smiling at him and taking his hand as though they had never been apart. Then Ron and Hermione, both beaming at him.
The came his parents, Molly and Arthur, Sirius and Lupin and Tonks, Fred and George, Charlie and Bill and Fleur and Percy. They all smiled at him, Fred and George a bit cheekily. They all wore white robes like himself.
Then came more, and more. Angelina, Audrey, McGonagall, Kingsley, Hagrid. Neville with Hanna and Luna with Rolf Scamander, and even Cedric Diggory, holding the hand of Cho Chang and grinning sheepishly at him. Everyone who had fought and died alongside Harry in war, all of his old school friends and Quidditch team and work colleagues, everyone Harry had ever known and cared for were there, ready to take him away.
Hermione took his other hand while Ron took Hermione’s other one. His parents went behind him and placed a hand on each shoulder. Sirius, Lupin, and Tonks moved beside him, Molly and Arthur came with them, and all the Weasley family, and behind them everyone else. Together, united in this fashion with Dumbledore leading the way, they moved onto the train. There were no seats, but there was really no need for them. The train was perfectly smooth as it pulled out of the station.
Harry looked back at his and Ginny’s children.
“They’ll be alright,” said Ginny.
“I know,” said Harry.
His children slowly faded into the distance as the train moved out of the station, into the unknown. And Harry felt more than ready for the next great adventure.
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