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Thread of Gossamer
They wheel him down the crowded hallway, my parents and Ron and Hermione crowded around his side along with Order members and Healers. His face is covered in dirt while scratches run the length of his splayed arms. The glossy black hair we have all come to love is disastrously tousled, but even Mum doesn't take notice now. He hasn't opened his eyes in twenty minutes and I already know what they refuse to accept—he won't wake. Not this time.
It was foolish of us to pin our hopes upon him—that we know now. To think a boy of seventeen could defeat the most evil wizard in the world was ludicrous, but he was exceptional, so we believed. If only we had listened to what he kept telling us; if only we had looked beyond ourselves into his burden and realized it was far too heavy for one person alone to bear. Yet, we failed to look past his innocent and loving face. We failed to give him a chance at life, the one chance we all clung to so selfishly. We failed him, and, by doing so, we failed ourselves as well for now there is no one willing to sacrifice any more, no one willing to bring back the light of dawn in this ever present darkness.
We all took from him in turns, basking in what he gave so freely. He offered us hope and freedom; he was the one person we could all point to and pin our dreams upon, knowing, on blind faith, that he would be the one to bring back what was once good and perfect in our world. Never did we once entertain the thought he might not prevail. Oh, we might have thought about it, but it was in our sleep, in those tiny secluded moments that you speak of to no one. It was easier to believe in the lie, and so we did. Now he has paid the price.
I don't hear what the Healers say as their spells cover his body in an ethereal glow, their lips moving, eyes shifting and trying desperately, oh so desperately, to restore him to life. But, I ask, what would be the point? For even if he were to come back what would be left for him? Nothing worth his return, I assure you that. My mother continues to cry, grasping one of his bloodstained hands with white knuckles. I can tell from the movement of her mouth and the fact her eyes are closed, tears falling silently, that she's praying for her wayward son. Hermione clings to my brother, unwilling to look at the still face of her best friend. Her cries are muffled by Ron's Weasley jumper, cut and unraveling in places where he was hit by curses, his robe having been discarded long ago. He stares at my father, as if there is something he can do to right the situation, but my father merely lays a hand on Ron's shoulder, giving it a small squeeze to reassure him that whatever can be done will; yet, I doubt even my father's newfound abilities as Minister will be enough this time. Somehow, Ron seems to know that as well for his face goes incredibly pale and he buries his head in Hermione's bushy hair as a sob rips through his abdomen, emerging silently.
A nurse rushes into the room, bringing back sound and sense of time. She's pushing a cart laden with potions, though, unbeknownst to her, they won't revive him. He's safe now, I realize. Never again will he feel the pain of rejection or the aching hollowness that comes with being alone. He won't ever have to return to the Dursleys and listen to them bicker and complain about his existence, as if it was something he could control. I watch as his chest moves up and down, the sound wheezy and pained; he doesn't have much longer. Lupin seems to notice this as well, for he looks up, tears pooling in his eyes, and stares at me. His eyes are empty save for anger. There is no one left for him here anymore—all of his friends have been killed in the war. The young man before him was his last charge and he feels he has failed all over again.
I look away, refusing to see the ache written on his face or the deadness in his eyes. Instead, I stare at the once pristine floor, now covered with scarlet blood and the mutilated shirt they cut from the boy's torso. A bottle falls to the floor in the chaos and shatters, the tiny pieces of jade-colored glass slipping across the tiles as the amber liquid inside spreads slowly, edging ever outward. No one takes notice; one of the Healers gives the mess a cursory glance as glass crunches underneath his weight, but immediately returns his attention to the patient in front of him. His career rides on whether this one lives or dies.
People are gathering outside the door—their voices are loud and frantic. Light fills the small window on the door as photographers hold up their cameras, trying desperately to get a picture of the tragedy unfolding; they hound him even on the brink of death. I remember him telling me how much he hated reporters. He never could understand his fame because he never thought he was worth it. What he failed to understand, however, is that we weren't worth it; we weren't worth his sacrifice and we didn't deserve his kindness. Our world is the only reason he's lying on that gurney, being touched with rough, calloused hands and being subjected to numerous last attempts.
The glow around him is fading, the thin thread holding him here is unraveling and everyone seems to know it. One of the nurses guides Ron and Hermione from the room, leading them toward what I presume is a waiting room. Mad-Eye and Tonks follow soon after, not able to watch the proceedings any further. They cannot hide their guilt, knowing they put him there. My father has to pry my Mum's hand away—she doesn't want to leave. She can't accept the fact that all of her babies are safe and this one, the most important to protect, is lying in front of her, slipping from this place before her very eyes. It becomes too much and she collapses against my father who calls for a nurse and a wheelchair to take her away.
Lupin holds his hand as he fades away; the older man's tears falling upon the open wounds on the younger's arms, cleaning them and leaving white trails on his skin through the dirt. There is a gash running down the professor's cheek, and, though it has stopped bleeding, it is mottled with dust. It is a testament that only the dead will have seen the end of war. The light wanes a little further and Lupin holds on tighter, whispering words I cannot hear. He glances at me, gives a curt nod, and then takes the Healers with him as he leaves.
The sounds outside are gone. I assume my father has taken care of the reporters and is now sitting with all those he considers his family. Lupin's face will tell them all they need to know. I rise from my spot in the corner and cross the unwelcoming, stained tiles to reach his side. All that's left of him lies before me, a tiny glow residing just above his heart. I put my hand over his heart, feeling the slowing beats as they count out his last minute. What does one do when they feel that last beat, knowing that such a noble, wonderful heart will never give life again? How does one keep living when their hopes die? More importantly, how does one ever breathe again once their love is gone?
I stare at his cool, clammy face. Beads of sweat cover his forehead, smearing the earth on his face into muddy red streaks. The potion on the floor is seeping through the holes in the soles of my shoes, but I don't notice; all I see is him. His face is pale, yet calm, accepting death and all that comes after. He is dying the way he lived. I watch as the light around my hand grows dimmer before falling through my flesh and returning into him, straight through his heart. There is one more beat, and then nothing.
He is safe now. He's with his parents and Sirius; all those he ever loved will be with him again, and he won't have anything to fear. The worst, for him, is now over. I press my lips to his clammy forehead which, surprisingly, is still quite warm. The dirt on his face is gritty against my lips, but I don't care. As my eyes close I whisper to the silence; "Sleep well, Harry."
End of Thread of Gossamer
“Only the dead have seen the end of war.” --Plato