With his eyes barely open, and the catastrophic events from the last couple of months weighing heavily on his mind, Harry stumbled through the smouldering castle, tripping on debris and clutter with each step. He traced his favourite well-worn route, lost in thoughts and memories.
Each corridor that he walked down held a memory for him, that he had buried in previous months, and now he allowed them to surface, and smiled reminiscently as he did so.
When he reached the Fat Lady, she admitted him with a grave nod; there was no need for a password, not today. Besides everyone knew the face of the “Chosen One,” or “Undesirable Number One,” his face has been plastered on every wanted poster in the country for months. It was funny, though Hogwarts was crumbling beneath their feet, the Gryffindor common room was perfectly preserved, the fire still crackled cosily in the grate; the drapes still hung red, gold and moth eaten. Students still left their books and work lying around in indistinguishable piles, although the lone writing desk seemed to have gathered a thick layer of dust in Hermione’s absence.
Each memory that Harry associated with the place came flooding back, and it felt like only yesterday he had been curled up on the squashy sofa with Ginny, playing exploding snap with Seamus, being beaten at chess by Ron, or told off about the inaccuracy of his homework by Hermione. It suddenly, inexplicably felt as if nothing had changed, but, of course, everything had changed. It was this fleeting sense of familiarity that made Harry’s heart ache. He longed for normality, just a normal, mundane, day-to-day routine, he longed for a time where the last year could be nothing but a distant memory.
Harry was so drained, that sleep firmly grasped him the instant he had lain down the snuggly sofa. However, he was haunted in sleep, as he was in wakefulness by HIM. By Voldemort. Each different scenario that played out in his mind became steadily more horrific; Ginny, struggling against his cruel spells, Ron crying beside a lifeless Hermione, Mr and Mrs Weasley being made to grieve for more of their children, his own limp body surrounded by jeering Death Eaters. Finally, several hours later, when his nightmares relinquished their iron hold, Harry fell into a blank, silent, stupor.
A good fifteen hours later, Harry awoke with an unfathomable feeling of euphoria burning in the pit of his stomach. When his mind cleared of that glorious, hazy blankness that one has after a deep sleep; he remembered, it was over. Voldemort was gone.
As the events of the previous day unfolded in his mind, Harry remembered the innumerable innocent lives taken as a result of Voldemorts pathological need for power. Remus, Tonks, Fred, Colin and Snape were just the tip of a horribly large ice berg. Harry’s mind clouded over, and the euphoria began to ebb away; replaced with an inextinguishable guilt. He quickly tallied up what he knew, and blanched as he realised his was accountable for fifty one needless deaths, (that he knew about.) It was fifty too many in Harry’s opinion, because somehow, he had managed to come to term with his grief over the death of Lord Voldemort.
He rose, and stretched, and groaned, as he began to meander down to the Great Hall, in the most roundabout route he could think of. He knew that he would have to face the consequences of his actions, and see the full extent of the damage that he had caused. But he took a deep, calming breath, and pushed open the enormous, oak door…