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A/N: This story is in memory of my fellow classmate, Andrew Stockwell, who died this late September in a helicopter crash. His loss was extremely hard on everyone of us here in Eden Prairie, MN- and all over. He was one of those kids that everyone loved- one of those kids that was always smiling and positive. For a long time, we were all lost, so I decided that perhaps writing about it would help relieve the stress. So I gave myself some time and I sat down one night and wrote this story- it helped me vent my feelings and allowed me to kind of say goodbye. Don't take this personally or let this give you a different opinion on my story; just view it with an open mind and appreciate what you've got.
I'm sorry I haven't updated for a long time, but it's been hard to concentrate lately, and writing this certainly helped clear my head. Thank you for your cooperation and patience. Please take this story lightly and cherish all of your friendships. You never know when someone you love won't be there anymore.

Water swirled around him, engulfing him in a whirlwind of waves and bubbles. He couldn’t see anything but his own flailing arms and the dark currents around him. His own gurggly screams of fear rang in his head as his lungs slowly got heavier and heavier. He was drowning… drowning… The water was pulling him deeper and deeper. It was getting darker and colder as his arms flung about helplessly, though with less and less strength with each passing moment. He could hear his mother’s anguished cries in his head now, willing him to keep fighting. But he was out of air… out of strength…

Don’t let me die down here. Please… I have so much to live for… Am I really meant to die as a teenager? I’ve got things left in my life that I’m destined to do! What about Ron and Hermione? And Ginny? And Hagrid? And everyone else that I’m supposed to protect from certain death if Voldemort is to return? Please, please don’t let me die…

His muscles were screaming in protest as his heart beat faster and faster. He knew his time was almost up. He needed air. Of all things at that very moment, all he wanted was one last breath of fresh, life-giving air… Was it really too much to ask for?

With an incredible effort, he looked up above him towards the surface; he could no longer make out the beam of light showing through the depths from the sky above. Would he ever see the sky again? No, it was gone… Gone, and there was no way he could push himself to get back. He closed his eyes, not wanting to stare at the blank darkness above that blocked him from the world he was slowly fading away from. If there was no light for him to look upon as a sign of hope, was there anything he could look to to give him a will to survive? Was this the way Cedric, Sirius, and his parents had felt when they were at death’s door? Nothing to drive them, to encourage them for one last fight before the end… Nothing that seemed to be worth living for?

Harry felt his lungs seize up with the weight of water as he was unable to take in any more air. A great pressure rose on his chest and his head seemed to burst with pain. If he hadn’t been surrounded by water, tears would have been distinguishable on his defeated face. He stopped his struggling attempts to get to the surface, knowing it would be to no avail. His heart gave one last fruitless beat before quavering to a stop. Then the lifeless body of The Boy Who Lived was carried down to the unknown depths of his watery grave…


All he could see was a bright light that was so brilliant, he couldn’t even see his own hand in front of his face. He blinked. He could sense nothing around him; could hear no sounds, nor distinguish any movement. Then, as if it had never been there, the light surrounding him disappeared.

Harry stared wide-eyed at the sight before him. Hundreds of people were sitting in countless rows of black, straight-backed chairs. A narrow aisle ran down the center of them, a black satin carpet running the length of it. Soft, wordless music played all around him, sounding soothing and comforting on his dazed and fearful mind. The room was barren, with white walls and a deep green carpet. Extravagant bouquets engulfed the room, their beautiful blossoms overflowing from the intricate vases. As Harry looked wonderingly on the nearest arrangement, he heard someone amidst the crowd cough. That’s when Harry realized how quiet it really was in that room.

Harry straightened; not a single person spoke. There was no laughter, small talk, nor any conversation, in that matter. The only sound was the muffled sobs and an occasional stifled sniffle. Curious, Harry made his way towards the black carpeted aisle, trying not to make noise. When no one made a move to stop or quiet him, he began to slowly walk down the aisle, staring at the faces of the people sitting in such icy sadness. Harry noticed a woman halfway down the back row of chairs that he recognized immediately; it was Rita Skeeter. But this was not the Rita Skeeter Harry remembered. She did not wear any lime green, banana yellow, or hot pink. She did not have her Quick-Quotes quill or notepad. She was not bombarding anyone with questions. She sat completely still, staring at her hands, which were folded in her lap. Harry gaped at her for a moment before continuing down the aisle.

His bewilderment began to grow as he kept on walking farther and farther on. He recognized so many people there. Tom, from the Leaky Cauldron; Stan Shunpike and Ernie Prang from the Knight Bus; the witch from the Hogwarts Express that handed out treats; Fleur and Gabrielle Delacour; Madame Maxime; Mr. Bagman; Cornelius Fudge; Percy Weasley; Arabella Figg, and Rufus Scrimgeour were among those that sat stonily still, staring ahead of them. He also recognized many, many faces of his fellow classmates that he had only glimpsed in the hallways. He could remember the faces, put couldn't put together any names; these were people he recognized but did not know, and yet the sadness etched in every line of every face was more clear than Harry had ever thought possible. Their faces were all pale and ghostly, and some, like Fleur’s, were wet and tear-streaked.

Harry’s eyebrows narrowed in confusion. Why were all these people here, and why were they looking so sad?

As Harry continued his progression up the aisle, still coming across more and more familiar faces, he became more and more frightened with every step. Then he looked down the next row of people, and gasped in horror. Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, Neville Longbottom, Parvati and Padma Patil, Lavender Brown, Dennis and Colin Creevey, Angelina Johnson, Katie Bell, and Alicia Spinnet were all sitting there, sitting as still as statues. Nearly all of them were crying, if not fighting back tears with failing perseverance. All of his fellow Gryffindors looking overwhelmingly miserable? What was going on here?

In the row in front of them sat Hannah Abbott, Ernie Macmillan, Luna Lovegood, Justin Finch-Fletchley, Anthony Goldstein, Michael Corner, Terry Boot, Lee Jordan, Viktor Krum, Oliver Wood, and (Harry’s heart gave a faint squirm) Cho Chang. She was crying the hardest of them all. He could hear her petrified sobs from behind her handkerchief as torrents of tears ran down her pale cheeks. Her hair was as beautiful and brilliant as ever, her face more pretty than any others in the room, and yet Harry had no idea what was making her features so terribly sad and forlorn. Harry stared at her for a little while longer, letting himself wander in those eyes that had captivated him not so long ago. Then he came to the final row of chairs.

What he saw next made his jaw drop and knees shake so terribly, he had to grab onto the nearest chair for support. The people he knew best, the people he loved above all else, were crying helplessly before him, their faces so blank and discomforting, it took Harry’s every will to look on. Fred and George sat stony-faced on the far end of the row, both wearing identical grievous faces. They did not wear their dragon skin jackets, but matching black robes with a number seven on their backs.

Then his eyes wandered farther down the row. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley sat next to them. Mrs. Weasley was crying loudly into her husband’s shoulder as tears fell silently down his face. Bill and Charlie sat next to them and, to Harry’s amazement, were also crying. Harry had never seen either of them cry before; he had always thought they were so strong. Bill with his earring and independent air, and Charlie with his years of dealing with fire-breathing dragons, neither of them seemed likely to ever shed a tear. And yet, here they were, plain and simple, small glistening tears sliding down their faces. Past them, Harry looked astonishingly at the faces of every member of the Order of the Phoenix he had ever had the chance to meet- and more. Lupin, Tonks, Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Mundungus Fletcher, Dedalus Diggle, Elphias Dodge, Emmeline Vance, Hestia Jones, Professor McGonagall, and all the teachers that taught at Hogwarts were all weeping softly, their faces pale as a ghost. Then came Hagrid, who was howling into a giant handkerchief, his whole beard wet from tears. He wore his formidable hairy suit and bright tie, but his clothes were wrinkly and frayed, as if he hadn’t been wearing them with much thought lately. His face and eyes were red from crying, and his cheeks were pink and splotchy. Ginny sat next to him, patting his gigantic arm weakly, crying uncontrollably herself. She wore a tight black robe with a thin veil over her face, which was deathly pale beneath it. Her face bore nothing but grief and he had never seen his best friends’ sister look so incredibly sad…

Harry stared at her for a while, his eyes wide with shock. What could possibly make Ginny be so sad? The look on her face was almost more than he could bear, and he had to finally peel his eyes away from her. Then his gaze fell on the last two people, who were sitting nearest him. He looked down upon them and let out a petrified moan.

Hermione sat beside Ginny, her entire body shaking from her uncontrollable sobs. Her nose was pink, her eyes were bloodshot, and her lips were dry and cracked. The makeup she wore was running down her cheeks with the steady trail of tears that flowed from her eyes. She had dainty black gloves on her quivering hands, which shook as they tried to hold onto a sodden handkerchief. She stared ahead of her, though Harry doubted whether she could see much through her tear-filled eyes, and seemed oblivious to the muscular arm wrapped comfortingly around her shoulders. Ron sat next to her, his face buried in Hermione’s hair as he kissed her forehead, trying to conceal his tears of anguish. Every breath he took quivered and seemed to cause him a great effort as he cried quietly. He was still as tall and gangly as ever, but his whole body seemed to shrink in sadness, looking as frail and helpless as a dry autumn leaf.

“R-Ron? Hermione?” Harry choked, speaking barely over a whisper, “W-What’s wrong? Please, why are you all crying?” He stared at them hopefully, waiting for them to mutter an answer, but neither of them acknowledged his presence. They kept on crying, their bodies shaking from the pain they were going through, unable to explain in words what they were feeling.

Harry frowned. He was scared now, and his two best friends were ignoring him. What on earth is going on? This wasn’t a question of who was going to speak or not; all Harry wanted to know was what everyone was so incredibly sad about. Why weren’t any of them asking for him to help? Did they not even care that Harry was panicking at the sight of their miserable faces? Didn’t they notice their friend standing alone before them, almost crying himself?

“What’s wrong here!?!” Harry yelled, spinning around to stare furiously at the crowd before him. “Why won’t anyone tell me what’s happened?!?” His eyes darted about helplessly. No one moved. No one looked up. No one said anything. In fact, not one of them made the slightest indication that they had heard him at all. “Won’t somebody answer me? Anybody?” He cried weakly, fighting back the agitation that was rising in his chest. He turned back to Hermione and, after a moment’s hesitation, he waved his hand in front of her face. She didn’t blink. She didn’t flinch. She just stared ahead of her, tears streaming down her face.

That resolved Harry’s only possible suspicion. He had often experienced the sensation where he could see the scene playing out in front of him, and yet no one was aware of his presence. It had happened to him when he fell into a memory from Tom Riddle’s diary; when he fell into the memories of trials in Dumbledore’s ancient penseive; and when Dumbledore was showing him memories about Voldemort in his sixth year.

But who was responsible for all of it this time? Harry thought to himself, Could it possibly be Voldemort again? This was Harry’s first accusation that came to mind, but he had the certain feeling that the Dark Lord had nothing to do with it. Then who was responsible for this?

Harry straightened up and peered at all the people sitting quietly before him. He noticed all of them wore black (besides Hagrid, of course) and many of the women wore thin veils over their faces. Everyone was as pale as a ghost and every single person looked so incredibly sad that it made Harry’s own heart tighten with grief. All but a few were weeping mournfully, their muffled sobs penetrating the stony silence.

Why are these people here? And in such a sad display?

Then Harry began to put two and two together. His eyes grew wide and he gasped in horror as he realized…

Oh no… It’s a funeral…

But who died? And where is the body?

Harry looked back at Hermione. Her face was shrouded in a state of pain and sorrow that Harry never thought possible. This was not the Hermione he knew so well… But then he noticed again that she was still looking straight ahead of her. Slowly, ever so slowly, Harry turned around to face wherever it was that Hermione-and everyone else- was staring at.

And there, on a raised platform at the front of the room was a majestic mahogany coffin surrounded by beautiful bouquets of flowers. A beam of light glowed upon the sleek, shiny wood. Its thick, powerful form was long and smooth and Harry saw beautiful gold designs woven into the wood on the top edge. The gold hinges were shining in the spotlight as the top of the coffin was held open for viewing. Just the presence of it sent shivers up and down his spine.

Harry’s breathing was slow and heavy. He hesitated for a moment, and then took a step towards the coffin. An eerie sensation was writhing in his chest as he grew nearer and nearer to the great display before him. When he was but four feet from the coffin, he stopped in his tracks. Only one more step further and he would be able to see whose body lay in the coffin. Whose life had been so fatefully claimed. One more step…

Harry took a deep, racking breath that seemed to echo through the mysterious silence that surrounded the coffin. He clenched his eyes shut tight, and with one foot in front of the other, walked forward and ascended the raised platform. He reached out blindly until he felt the cold, wooden edge, which he gripped tightly with both hands.

And there he stood.

He couldn’t bring himself to look at the face of the one who lay before him. He just couldn’t bring himself to open his eyes. Whose body was lying in front of him, so innocently robbed by death? His knees shook with fear as he dug his heels into the ground. He refused to back down off the platform- but was he not brave enough to even open his eyes? Harry clenched his teeth fearfully, gripped the wood coffin even harder, and let his breath out in a shuddering sigh.

Then he snapped his eyes open.

Harry let out a horrified yell, not audible to the people behind him. His knuckles were white on the coffin, and his entire body was shaking violently.

No…No, this cant be happening. This can’t be real… Harry thought desperately as he looked at the ebony, tangled hair; that recognizable thin, pale face; the small, round nose upon which rested a pair of round, black glasses; and the lightning-shaped scar

It was him.

He was looking at himself in the coffin, his eyes closed and his mouth set in a thin smile as if he wanted nothing more than to lie in peace in the coffin. His cheeks still had their tint of pink to them and his thin hands were clasped gracefully across his chest. The rest of his face was incredibly pale and so fragile-looking now that there was no life left in him.

But how could this be true? Surely, he wasn’t dead. This was some false memory- or some sick joke. After all, he was standing right there, wasn’t he? He was moving, breathing, blinking, smelling, feeling… He was alive. Alive!

And yet, what was he seeing lying in front of him? An echo? A dream? Another prophecy? No, this just had to be a joke. A prank. A hoax. He, Harry Potter, was not dead! Why was his mind playing such awful tricks on him like this? Why must he be tortured on such an emotional level? Who would do such a thing as to tease him like this?

Harry stared at the body of himself lying so peacefully in his coffin. His face looked so calm and tranquil, and he couldn’t think of a time when he had ever felt that peaceful. His hair was just the same- as untidy as it had always been. Just like his father’s. And those eyes. Although Harry could not see them through the closed eyelids, he longed to look into those eyes that were so much like his mother’s. Those eyes that would hold the same peacefulness that filled every line of his face. He wished he could lose himself in their depths and dream of his mother, whose eyes were just like his…

Harry shivered, even though the room wasn’t at all cold. He closed his eyes again, too sad to look at that face any longer. He took a long, deep breath as he tried to shake the images of his mother and father out of his mind. The thought of her at the moment was more than he could bear. He turned around slowly and climbed numbly off the platform, not daring to ever look behind him again. He could feel himself shaking, and yet he couldn’t explain why. Was it because of all the pained faces now sitting before him again? Was it because of the face he had just seen in the coffin? Or was it because he was beginning to grasp the feeling that this whole thing wasn’t some kind of prank?

As Harry made his way down the aisle between the rows of seats, he stopped in mid-step and slowly turned around to gaze once more at Ron and Hermione. He had never seen either of them in so much pain before, and it made his heart ache horribly that he couldn’t comfort them. He stared at their blank eyes that seemed to be lost in oblivion, not really seeing anything. He had never seen eyes to hold such deep, dark, empty solitude. After all the fun and happiness that had lit up those faces over the years, it seemed impossible that they could now look so incredibly tragic.

Harry backed away, overcome with all the grievous emotion. He did not know this Ron and Hermione- nothing had ever made them look so hopeless.

Unless their most important friend in the world died…

“But I’m not dead!” Harry cried, turning to face the rest of the mourners. “Stop crying! I’m NOT dead!” He ran down the aisle until he came to Hagrid’s weeping form hunched over in his horrid hairy brown suit. He stood on his tiptoes and grabbed Hagrid’s shoulders, shaking them as violently as possible. “Snap out of it, Hagrid! I’m right here!” He cried, but as hard as Harry shoved, as hard as Harry yelled, Hagrid would not move. He did not take any notice of the boy before him.

Panting frantically, Harry ran farther down until he reached Neville Longbottom. “Hey! It’s me, Harry! Please answer me! I’m not dead- I’m right in front of you, can’t you see!?” He waved his arms and snapped his fingers desperately in front of his face, but to no avail. Harry took a step back, his shoulders heavy with defeat. He turned away from Neville, hung his head, and made his way down the aisle. His feet dragged with every step he took, and each time, he felt it harder and harder to hold back tears. No one would listen… No one cared…

He could reach out to no one… And no one reached out to him. He was completely alone…

He was only a few feet past the last row of chairs when he heard a voice speak from behind him. Stunned by the sudden sound from someone other than himself, Harry stood motionless, listening intently to what was being said, but too terrified to turn and see who was speaking.

“The other day, the entire wizarding world lost a hero. A hero that saved our existence since he was only one year old. We lost a savior that dedicated his life to others. He didn’t do this because he was told. He didn’t do this because he wanted to be a hero. He didn’t do this for eternal glory or worldly recognition. He did it all for one reason and one reason only: because he knew in his heart that that was what he was meant to do, and there was no alternative. He was not about to back down to anyone, nor would he let anything get in his way. That defines a hero. That shows who a real savior is. I speak for everyone when I say this. I speak for his classmates, his teachers, his guardians, his family, his fans, his supporters, and all of those who followed his story and acknowledged him throughout the year. I even speak for those who are too dim-witted to admit the accomplishments he so greatly achieved. But most of all, I speak for his friends.

"I speak for his friends, because a friend is what Harry Potter was best at, no matter how well anything else turned out. He was like my brother and I loved him as a brother, and it’s impossible for me to explain the feeling of losing the most important person in my life.”

There was a pause, and the room was deathly silent. Harry’s entire body shook uncontrollably and he could feel cold sweat running down his forehead as he slowly turned around to face the speaker. Harry choked back a sob as he saw who now stood before the crowd.

Ron Weasley stood behind a wooden podium not far from the coffin. He was wearing a pair of black robes that were quite wrinkled and they hung loosely on his thin frame that looked frail and worn from grief. His face was pale, though Harry could tell his ears were slightly pink form nerves beneath his fiery red hair. His mouth was a thin straight line and his face was set as he tried his best to hold back the tears that were threatening to erupt. When he began to speak again, his voice was thick and heavy with sorrow.

“Before my days at Hogwarts, I grew up hearing about this child legend. The Boy Who Lived. He had defied the darkest sorcerer ever before he could even walk or talk. Who could do such a thing? I grew up in awe of this boy, and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I met him on the train on my first day to school. From that moment on, Harry Potter and I became best friends. We had the funniest of times together and shared terrible ordeals as well. Hermione Granger and I encountered He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named with him during one year at Hogwarts, and we helped support him through the horrible tasks in the Triwizard Tournament. The three of us went through experiences throughout our teen years that many people will never know their whole life.

“Our bond stretched to the extreme as we tried to lead the normal life of a teenage wizard as well. I can say that I would have never gotten through my classes without Harry there with me. Then again, neither of us would have made it without the help of Hermione, either.”

Harry chuckled to himself as Ron managed the smallest of smiles before going on.

“We both spent those miserable weeks before the Yule Ball trying to find dates. Without Harry being there to back me up, I would have been a complete wreck. Together, we faced nearly all of the obstacles teenagers could possibly face in their adolescent magical years. And yet…”

Ron paused, choking back another impending sob. The entire crown in front of him was silent; no one seemed to be perturbed by the abrupt halt in Ron’s speech. Harry watched Ron clear his throat quietly and glance at Hermione. Then he closed his eyes for a moment, sighed, opened them again, and continued speaking.

“And yet Harry’s teenage years were more terrifying, difficult and painful than any ball or test- and none of us can even scarcely imagine it. Before the age of seventeen, Harry had come face-to-face with his fated enemy, Lord Voldemort, no less than five times. It is the one thing all wizards hope they never have to go through, and yet Harry was still there in the end to tell his story. He defied the one person that destroyed his family and haunted his dreams. He outsmarted the sorcerer that killed countless innocent people and inflicted immeasurable pain upon him.

“But Harry always pulled through. He was faced with the most horrific challenges, and he accepted them head on. He never thought of the consequences, but of just how to save his own skin- and, ultimately, all of ours, too.” Ron glanced pointedly around at everyone in front of him. Several people tried to smile encouragingly, but the pain and sorrow still shone in their eyes. Ron saw this and averted his gaze to the skies above him as he spoke again.

“Although Harry Potter did finally meet his downfall, he achieved everything he could have hoped for. He opened all of our eyes to the returning presence of the Dark Lord, though some of us caught on earlier than others.” Harry noticed several people squirm slightly in their seats, including Cornelius Fudge.

“He helped avenge the lives taken by Voldemort and his followers. He helped capture enough Death Eaters to rival the statistics of the Aurors! He brought innocent people to justice and guilty people to their rightful punishment. He enlightened the lives of many people in many ways; certainly everyone has a story to support that. Harry made my life countless times more enjoyable than anyone could have ever done. My gratitude stretches farther than words could possibly say, but I know in my heart that Harry knows this-“

Harry’s attention was suddenly diverted by a strange sensation in his toes. He looked down curiously and gasped. A brilliant white light was emanating from the ground and engulfing his feet- and it was slowly moving up his body. As it continued, nothing was left in it’s wake- whatever this strange light was, it was making him disappear. It was taking him away... He raised his arms and stared at his hands; they were beginning to disappear, too, starting at the tips of his fingers. What was going on? Harry looked around frantically, his eyes wide.

Then he heard a voice in his ear…

”Harry, it’s time for you join us now, sweetheart. You have been given a proper farewell by these people, but now it’s time that we finally are together again…” It was a woman’s voice, speaking as soft as the most beautiful, melancholy song. It was a voice he could only scarcely remember from a long time ago. And he had heard it once again in his fourth year in Priori Incantatem.

”Your time here is done, son. You’re ready to join us now…” And then a man’s voice, one that sounded somewhat like his own. Another voice that he recognized from that night in the graveyard… It was so comforting, so wise, and yet… so mysterious… Was it really them speaking to me? Harry thought wildly.

”It’s alright, sweetheart. You’re ready…”

Harry looked up, his vision blurred from tears, as Ron suddenly continued speaking. But this time, he didn’t speak to the people before him; instead, he turned to the coffin and said, “The love that we have all given to you during your time with us will never waver, even though you are no longer with us, Harry. Let this love be a reminder of the life you shared with us as you continue your journey in a far better place- down a far better path-that we can not follow you along yet. We know the love that awaits you there will be immeasurable, but don’t forget about the love from us. The love so many of us fought so hard to give to you in many different ways. A lot of us come from different backgrounds and different parts of the world, but we all shared the same love with you and felt the love that you so graciously gave to us. Never forget us, Harry Potter, for none of us will ever forget you.”

Ron turned back around after a moment and Harry met his eyes for the shortest of times. He could feel the emotions running through his best friend as their eyes met, and knew that he was not alone in this feeling of loss- and new beginnings.

For this is a new beginning… Harry thought to himself as the blinding white light erupted in front of him and completely engulfed all of his senses. He took a deep breath as the last sight of Ron faded from his view. He sighed in content at what awaited him, whatever it may be, and he could feel the presence of people he had long-since loved, but lost so long ago. And those that he had lost over the years.

After all, was that not his mother's sweet, melancholy voice, calling him from somewhere beyond the illumination that engulfed him? Wasn't that his father and Sirius, laughing as they welcomed him on, their presence now so close at hand? Did he just hear Cedric call his name, his familiar rough voice so elated at the comings of his old school rival?

Yes! Yes, that was surely them...

But he could also feel the presence of the people he had just seen- the people he was about to leave behind. He wanted so badly to cry out to Ron, to tell him how much he was going to miss him… but he couldn’t. The sight of Ron was just out of his grasp and his presence was slowly fading away as they were replaced with the oncoming feeling of his lost loved ones. The feeling of them with him erupted in his every cell as he heard the faintest sound of a phoenix song so precious to his ears.

And then there was one more flash of light, and he was gone.

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