Harry lay sprawled on his back on the battlefield in the wet grass. The Final Battle was over and the Death Eaters, now deprived of their Master, had fled. The sky above Harry was steel gray and the only sound he could hear was the wind starting to stir high in the treetops above him. The battlefield, which lay just beyond the Forbidden Forest, was deathly silent. The ground was hard beneath the thick grass where Harry lay. He waited and listened with his eyes closed for what felt like forever.
It was bitter cold but Harry could barely feel it. He thought he should be shivering, but he was numb. Voldemortís lifeless body lay several feet away. The Dark Lord was defeated, and would not return. An air of finality breathed across the silent clearing. Lying in the grass alone, Harry didnít see how anybody else could know where he was. No one, he thought, would be able to find him out here, surrounded by rugged terrain, tall trees, and a barrier of inky, impenetrable darkness. Voldemort had cast a curse to create this barricade; it had been his ultimate attempt to force Harry into a one-on-one confrontation. The Death Eaters had engaged the Order members in skirmishes, stumbling around in confused circles in the blackness. Ron, Hermione, Remus, Neville and the others had tried to break through Ė Harry had heard them. But nobody succeeded. A short, thick, broken-down wall of gray boulders bordered the expanse of grass, and broad, dark trees skirted the landscape. The realization crept over Harry that he was slowly losing his own life.
The duel between Harry and Lord Voldemort had been so incredibly intense that it seemed the only things keeping Harry standing were youth and skill. In the past, Harry's confrontations with Voldemort had been characterized by selfless acts of outside intervention. However, this final duel of the most advanced magic had left Voldemort dead and Harry feeling very alone, having survived the encounter, it seemed, without the help of anyone. He felt defeated and forsaken.
Overwhelming pain from his battle injuries, which had been unbearable at first, was starting to fade. Harry didnít seem to mind the darkness that was beginning to close in on him. He was half being pulled under, and half letting go. For the first time in his life he felt himself relaxing. He was dying and if he gave in, he thought, his peace would be complete. No more Death Eaters, no more Malfoy, no more Dursleys, no more burning scar. He was exhausted, to the point of surrender, with the kind of fatigue that saturated his body and his mind.
All at once he felt as if the earth beneath him had collapsed in a downward motion, slowly at first and then gaining speed, and he didnít resist it. He released himself to what appeared to be the beginning of a pleasant fall. The wind whipped underneath him as he sank into air, billowing his robes. Soon the pain of not knowing his parents, never feeling like he fit in, carrying the burden of being The Boy Who Lived, would be over. The emotional pain he had carried all those years had proved to be more suffocating than any physical pain he had ever endured. At last, he would be with his Mum and Dad and Sirius and Cedric. He would pass through the curtain, too. He could almost see them now, and a sweet sleepiness began to cloud his mind. He was descending into a mist, which was blanketing him and bringing him a final, numbing comfort. He continued to feel himself fall.
Suddenly a sound like an echo in a cave cracked the deathly silence. Someoneís voice was barely distinguishable outside of the envelope of fog - a girlís voice. Harry didnít recognize who it was at first. The sound was disturbing his surrender. She, whoever she was, was repeating something over and over, and he realized it was the sound of someone crying.
"Harry, oh, Harry Ė " she sobbed, "Please, no, no, you canít go!"
Harry couldnít believe it. Someone was calling him back, and he wanted to know who it was. He didnít know how to stop the speedy descent he was making, but that didnít seem to matter, because it gradually slowed without his own maneuvering. His eager plunge into the afterlife was coming to a halt. He felt himself floating now, hovering, suspended in the blackness. He couldnít move, and he didnít want to move. He was listening very hard.
"Harry," the voice whispered, "donít leave me Ė "
The plea was echoing in his ears. He felt warmth, like an intense summer sun, begin to bake away the dampness of the mist he was in. Now he could feel his wet clothing sticking to his skin. An intense anticipation swept over him. He wanted to go back. He didnít want to rest anymore, not now. He desperately wanted to see his parents, but that could wait, they would understand. Someone else was calling him and he began to will himself to return. The pain from the battle was returning too, but the ache inside him was stronger. The sound of the wind rustling in the trees was far above him again. He felt the hard ground beneath him, felt someone holding him as they knelt beside him, their arms cradling him. Her head was buried in his neck and she was sobbing, her tears warm on his cheek. She was rocking back and forth and clutching him closely. Harry felt himself revive with a convulsive gasp, sucking in the cold air much like when he had propelled himself above the surface of the frigid water of Hogwart's lake after the Second Task in the Triwizard Tournament years before. Now the girl who had been cradling him so tightly jerked back and let go of him with a shriek, dropping him with a thud on the ground.
"OW!" Harry yelped.
"Oh, Harry!" she gasped. "Harry, Iím so sorry! Iím so sorry, oh, Harry Ė " she paused in amazement, "Harry, youíre not dead! Youíre not dead! Oh Harry, youíre alive! And Ė Iíve dropped you! Oh Harry, have I hurt you? Are you Ė are you alright?"
He turned his head slightly and drew her into focus, blinking back the brightness. His round, black-rimmed glasses were bent and askew on his face, one temple tweaked and pointing way above one ear, with the lenses covering one eyebrow and his nose instead of his eyes. She made a hurried attempt to align the lenses properly and hook the temple back behind his ear.
"Sure. Never better."
She clapped her hands over her mouth, and burst into an embarrassed giggle, which escalated into uncontrollable snorts and laughter. The corners of his mouth widened into a weak smile, and with an effort, he began to chuckle. She leaned over him, her head now touching his chest, her long, red hair cascading onto his robes. Her laughter gave way to tears and she wept again, shaking with sobs.
"Harry," she choked, "I was afraid Iíd lost you Ė "
"Lose me? Iím amazed you could even find me here."
His arms were leaden with pain and exhaustion, but he managed to lift one arm slowly and place his hand lightly on her head. It was all he could do to pat her hair softly. She rose up slightly to look at him, sniffling and wiping her nose with the back of her hand. She was the most beautiful sight heíd ever seen, even if her eyes were slightly puffy and red from crying, and he felt flushed with the revelation. She smiled sheepishly. He stroked her hair and pushed it haltingly behind her ear, smiling back at her.
"Donít cry, Ginny. Please donít cry."
The image of his mother, a near-reality only moments ago, swept through his mind. Had he been saved from death again by someoneís love? "íIf there is one thing Voldemort cannot understand, it is love. He didnít realize that love as powerful as your motherís for you leaves its own mark.í" Dumbledore had understood the life-giving power of Love. Harry had fought Voldemort to the death, and nearly his own death, fulfilling the prophecy. But just like his motherís love flowed through his veins, protecting him when he was a baby, he had been saved from the misfortune of a premature demise again, this time by the love of another woman. He now felt a sort of hopeful force charging through him, lifting him up and drawing him towards Ginny. It wasnít magic or spells that had conjured him back. The thought that this meant that Ginny must love him, dawned on him like a sunrise. Harry was alternately confused and thrilled. Ginny brushed the fringe off his forehead, grinning at him shyly. Then, suddenly, she startled. "Why Harry, your scar, itís gone Ė"
Harry reached up and anxiously rubbed his fingers on his forehead. The skin where his lightning bolt scar had once been, now felt flat and smooth. "What Ė what do you mean, itís gone? How can it be gone?" he stammered.
"Itís not there, Harry. I think Iíd notice if something like that was missing."
He continued to rub the spot in disbelief. Trying to process the chain of recent events was dizzying, but Harry thought that it began to make sense. He achingly raised himself up on one elbow, and with great effort pushed himself to sit up. He held his head in his hands, Ginnyís arm around his shoulders.
"Ginny . . ."
"Ginny, someday Ė " he shot her a meaningful glance, "not today, but someday, Iím going to see my parents again. And when I do, youíve got to meet my mum."
"Apparently, you two have got a lot in common."