An excerpt from Sehnsucht, a Harry Potter fanfiction by M. Street, based on Chapter 35 of The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling.
Harry yawned and stretched, reaching automatically for his glasses on the bedside table. But his hand felt only air. Turning to look, he saw nothing but white all around. Harry rubbed his eyes and blinked to clear them. The white slowly shifted, creating tracks and platforms and the great domed ceiling and old stone columns he was familiar with. Kings Cross Station. He looked around and under the bench where he was sitting for his glasses. They were nowhere to be found, but then he realized he didn’t seem to need them anyway. Everything looked perfectly clear.
A soft sound caught his attention, and Harry rose from his seat to look for it. A quavering kind of whimper came from under one of the other benches, and he bent to see if there was a lost animal there. Instead, a disturbing sight met his eyes: a shriveled and bloody body looked carelessly shoved underneath—a child-sized creature, flailing frantically as it struggled to breathe. Harry thought he ought to try to help it, but he had no wand and was loathe to reach out his hand and touch the thing, fragile and hurt though it seemed.
“It’s all right,” a gentle voice called. “He will be taken care of.”
Harry leapt backwards as a huge figure knelt down beside him. The giant silver knight reached out and tenderly scooped up the ravaged body, pausing to nod briefly at Harry before turning away and carrying the creature off into the white expanse where Harry would have expected to see the train station’s escalators.
“I expect you’re quite tired, aren’t you?” This time, the voice was accompanied by a hand ruffling his hair, the way Sirius sometimes did, and Harry felt tears spring unbidden into his eyes. Yes, he was. So very, very tired. Weary of the fighting and anxiety and struggling to act like he had it all together and wasn’t afraid.
Harry blinked back the tears and looked towards the source of the voice—white robes, white beard—but he couldn’t quite focus on the face. “Professor Dumbledore?” he asked hesitantly.
“No,” the voice said with a soft laugh. “Although I must admit the beard is similar. You know, I once had a moment like this. Just about this time of night, too. Like you, I was asked to accomplish an important task that, at times, seemed impossible. And at that moment just before the end, before that last push for victory…you have to ask yourself if it’s been worth it. Was it worth it giving up everything to do what you were born to do? Giving up so much for other people’s freedom? Shouldn’t there have been an easier way?”
This time, as Harry looked, the face grew clear. It seemed too young to have such a white beard, and the eyes were a rich warm brown that looked as if they crinkled with laughter much of the time.
“Who are you?” Harry asked. “What was that body? Who took it away? Where are we? Am…am I dead?”
The man laughed again. “All reasonable questions. Where do you think we are?”
“It looks like Kings Cross Station,” Harry replied, looking around at the pristine white space.
“It does, doesn’t it? What you see is supposed to look like something that makes you comfortable. And I think you picked the train station because you’re ready to move on, aren’t you? Ready for all this to be over?”
Harry nodded, feeling the weight of exhaustion and emotion once again press down on him. “So I am dead, then?”
“No,” the man said firmly. “Not yet. We are in the pause of a moment, the space between heartbeats.” He walked over to the bench and sat down, patting the seat next to him for Harry to come sit.
“And what about that…that thing under the bench?” asked Harry with a slight shiver, as he sat down. “What was that?”
“Ah,” the man sighed, looking sad. “That is a travesty of Tom’s own making. That spell you call the killing curse doesn’t kill someone the way you might think. It doesn’t stop their heart or do anything physical. That spell separates the soul from the body. And so, that night in Godric’s Hollow when the curse rebounded and separated his soul from his body, a piece of his soul latched itself onto you. And in trying to kill you tonight, Tom has inadvertently done you a great service by separating that remaining piece of his soul from your body.”
“I was the accidental horcrux,” Harry murmured. “But that piece of his soul…it…” Harry made a face. “I didn’t know whether I wanted to help it or not. It seemed helpless, fragile, but so…awful. What’s going to happen to it?”
“What do you think should happen?”
Harry looked surprised. “I don’t know. I want him to be finished. I want all this to be over. But…Dumbledore said he might still be saved, that he could put his soul back together if he just felt remorse for what he’d done. So part of me wants that for him too.”
The man grinned broadly, proudly, as though Harry had won all his House points single-handed. “You have recognized an important truth. Justice will be done, you don’t need to worry about that. In the end, justice is always done. But justice without mercy is a sad affair. So yes, remorse and repentance are always options. To see what a mess you’ve made of something and try to set it right.”
Harry was quiet for several moments as he tried to decide what he really felt about that. What would it look like for Tom Riddle to feel remorse for what he’d done? Was that possible? He’d sunk so deep and so willingly into darkness.
“I tried to warn him,” the man said, giving Harry a sad smile, as though he knew his thoughts.
“Warn him? How?”
“Your prophecy. The darkness can not be allowed to rise unchecked.”
“But why wasn’t he stopped a long time ago? Before things got this bad?”
“I like to work with free will,” the man said, frankly. “That’s the way things were set up a long time ago. Give people a chance to change. But if something is free to be good than it is also free to choose to be bad. This has made evil possible. It is also what makes love and joy and goodness possible. But I was very clear that someone would be sent to oppose him.”
“Me,” Harry sighed.
“You were raised up for such a time as this.”
“But…Dumbledore said Voldemort chose me, that he decided the prophecy was about me.”
“Free will again,” the man shrugged. “Tricky business. You see, the question of blood status is a wound that has been festering in your people for far too long. And sometimes the fever that accompanies an infection must rise and then break before a wound is healed. So we let the rebellion play itself out, and give people time to choose to do the right thing.”
Harry sat there for a moment mulling that over.
“You’re worried about something,” the man said, a fact, not a question.
“Will it matter?” Harry finally burst out. “I was willing to do whatever it took. Willing to die so that he could be defeated. Now I have to go back and face him again, face dying all over again. And when it’s all over, is anything going to change? Will any of this matter to how wizards treat Muggle-borns or argue about blood status?”
“Are you worried about dying or worried about the world you will leave behind?”
“Well…um…both, really. I guess.” Harry ran a hand through his messy hair in frustration.
“As to the first, you have been able to witness first-hand something many people never understand. In dying to ourselves we become truly free. You being willing to give up your life is what finally freed you from the evil of Tom Riddle’s soul. So in that sense, you didn’t come to die. You came to live.”
“And the second?”
“It is almost impossible for humans to recognize the ties that bind them together—those elusive threads that connect people and stories and destinies. If it weren’t for you, Hermione could very well have been killed by that troll your first year. If it weren’t for Hermione, you wouldn’t have been able to free Sirius. Without Sirius, Remus Lupin would have probably given up hope for his own life. Without Remus and Artemis falling in love, Lina wouldn’t have joined the Order and fought so hard to ensure the werewolves were freed from the reservation. Without Lina, Severus would have continued his work alone and would never have been forced to face what was truly keeping him in bondage. You were appointed to face Tom Riddle, but each thread is important in its own way. Each person reaching beyond themselves and being willing to sacrifice. That is what will change the world, Harry. As Professor Dumbledore once told you, choices make all the difference! After this battle, there will be quite a few who are finally able to recognize the innate treasure in all people, whether they are magical or not, no matter their blood status or House, if they’re a werewolf or a House Elf, because they all chose to fight together.”
Harry nodded, though he thought that sounded very optimistic. “I…I guess if you’re sure things can change. If you’re sure it matters. Then I guess I’m ready to go back,” he said, taking a deep breath of resolve and running his hands over his jeans restlessly. “Thank you.”
“Time to go then,” the man said encouragingly as he and the white station began to darken and fade away. “And remember, I will always have others fighting with you and for you, even when they are unseen.”
“Wait,” called Harry. “Do you mean those warriors? And you never said who you actually were!”
A warm laugh echoed around him. “It’s Christmas Eve, Harry,” he heard the man call back. “I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”
Harry blinked his eyes and found himself lying uncomfortably on the castle floor. Drops of salty water were falling onto his face, and he peered up to see Sirius, face crumpled in grief and tears falling from his eyes as he grasped Harry by the arms and began to drag him away, out of the chaos erupting around them. Harry closed his eyes again, trying to stay as limp as possible, thinking through what he had to do next.
See part 1 of M. Street’s submission called Fan-Fiction and Faith:God Can Use ALL Things here.
About Monica Street
On a lighter note I love tea and chocolate and music and old things. I’m a stay-at-home-homeschooling-mama of four, and I am the parent who has introduced her kids to Hogwarts, Narnia, the One Ring, the Avengers, the Justice League, and the ways of the Force. My husband shakes his head and smiles.
I post stories on the mobile app Texties as M Street, fanfiction.net, and Wattpad under the profile MamaStreet.
Feel free to email me if you want to talk stories at mamastreetstories@gmail.