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Chapter Twenty-Seven

The first sound Harry was aware of when he started to regain consciousness was the frantic conversation of the Hogwarts teachers.  As he blearily opened his eyes and looked around the Hogwarts infirmary, he noticed all of the staff gathered at one end of the hospital wing, a worried looking Poppy Pomfrey whispering furiously to them.  Looking more closely, he noticed Ron and Hermione were there as well, listening to what the Mediwitch had to say with rapt attention.  Blinking slowly and waiting for his blurred vision to clear further, Harry furiously tried to remember what had happened to land him in the infirmary once more.  After mentally going over the last events he could remember, he suddenly sat up in shock as he realised what had happened.  His sudden movement sent a flare of pain through his body, and his loud groan of protest alerted the other occupants to his condition.  Ginny and Glen, who had been napping in the chairs at either side of Harry's bed, also woke with a jerk.  Harry himself flopped back down on the hard mattress, moaning as pain coursed through his system.

“ Harry!” Hermione called as she reached his bedside, “ You're awake!  How do you feel?”

The green eyed boy sent her a poisonous glare at the question, and the girl coloured in embarrassment.

“ Alright, stupid question,” she conceded, “ Where does it hurt?”

“ Everywhere,” he groaned, and Ginny quickly took his hand in hers.  He gave his girlfriend's hand a light squeeze before asking the obvious question.

“ What happened?”

There was an uncomfortable silence as the others shot each other conspiratorial looks.  Harry began to frown at their actions, realising they were deciding what not to tell him.

“ I want to know everything,” he said in a voice that brooked no argument, “ If something's happened, I don't want you to keep it from me.  I need to know.  What happened to Voldemort?”

That was the first thing that leapt to mind for the Boy-Who-Lived.  After all, the last thing he remembered was the Dark Lord hitting him with a rather nasty looking spell.  What happened after that was a complete mystery.

“ We're not sure,” Ginny told him.

“ What do you mean, you're not sure?” Harry bellowed, distraught, “ That was supposed to be the final battle.  Did he escape or didn't he?”

“ As far as we can tell, he's gone,” Severus told him.  Harry closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead where a headache was starting to develop.  It seemed like none of his friends were willing to give him a straight answer.

“ Just tell me what happened after I passed out.  The last thing I remember was him casting a spell, then everything went black.  What was the spell he cast?”

“ It is called `animus annihilare', a Dark Art of the foulest nature, which destroys the soul,” Minerva told him, “ It is very potent, and very difficult to cast.  We believe You-Know-Who only used it as a last resort, seeing as the Killing curse wasn't working on you.”

“ Well, I'm obviously not soulless,” the boy replied, scathingly, “ So what went wrong?”

“ It backfired,” Ron explained, “ It hit you after you fell to the ground, then the colour intensified and it sort of bounced off of you and hit Voldemort.  We couldn't really see what happened next because there was a bright flash of light, but when it was over, we dropped the shield and went to see if you were all right. Where Voldemort was, all we found was a pile of ash.”

Harry contemplated this for a minute before it suddenly dawned on him what had happened.  The others watched perplexed as a brilliant smile spread across his face and he began to laugh heartily.  Several minutes later, he finally regained control of himself, and his eyes, sparkling with mirth, met each of their gazes one by one.  His friends and family immediately saw something they had never seen in the green eyed boy.  His features were no longer tense, and the fear and hopelessness that had been mirrored in his eyes was gone.  In the place of a depressed and weary man was a carefree teenager who looked genuinely happy.

“ Harry?” Ginny asked tentatively, “ Are you alright?”

Harry grinned at his girlfriend and pulled her in for a passionate kiss, which left Ginny breathless, and most of the teachers embarrassed.

“ I've never felt better in my life, Gin,” he said, “ For the first time in my life, I am no longer shadowed by Voldemort.  He's gone, he's really gone!  I did what everyone wanted me to do, and now I'm free.”

“ But how do you know he's gone,” Glen asked.

“ Because the spell rebounded on him.  You said it yourself, it was a potent Dark Arts spell to destroy the soul.  It was aimed at me, but bounced back and destroyed Voldemort's soul.  He won't be coming back.”

“ I don't get it,” Sirius said, looking at his godson in confusion.  Harry smiled and looked at the Potions Master.

“ Sev, can I see your left arm, please?”

Severus, a little warily, pulled up his sleeve and bared his arm, where the Dark Mark still marred the skin.  Harry smiled, and looked at the others, who were watching him in consternation.  They were obviously waiting for him to explain himself.  However, Harry noticed dawning comprehension on several faces.  For the benefit of those who didn't understand, he explained himself.

“ I control the Dark Marks, as many of you will know.  I gave Voldemort his Mark, and he gave them to his followers.  I, however, controlled them all, as I was the one to create the original Mark on Tom Riddle's arm.  One of the little known properties of this kind of binding magic, is that anyone who possesses a Dark Mark cannot kill the one who put it there.  That is how I survived as a baby.  I transferred some of the control to Lily Evans' womb when I was in 1976, thus giving any offspring she had the protection from Voldemort the control allowed.  As a result, the Killing curse bounced off of me and destroyed Voldemort's body.”

“ And this time the same thing happened,” Hermione said.  Harry nodded to her.

“ Exactly.  The soul destroying spell would have killed me, but because Voldemort carried the Mark he was unable to do so.  The spell backfired and destroyed him instead.”

Harry leaned back against his pillows in silence as everyone assimilated this piece of information.  As the news began to sink in, smiles spread across every face.  Sirius started to cheer, which made everyone else join in enthusiastically.  Even the usually dour Potions Master had a rare grin on his face.  After a few minutes, Harry cleared his throat and regained everyone's attention.

“ So, what happened to me?” he asked, thinking of the power draining spell Voldemort had used on him.  This, apparently, was not the best topic to mention, as everyone's face fell at the question.

“ Well…” Ron began, nervously.

“ What is it?” the saviour asked, sternly, “ Whatever it is, I want to hear it.  Don't keep it from me.”

Poppy cleared her throat, gaining Harry's attention.

“ Harry, dear, I'm afraid the news isn't too good.  As you know, the spell You-Know-Who used on you drained your power.  Now, normally there would be no serious side effects, just a loss of the ability to perform magic for a period of time.  You, however, are not a normal wizard.”

“ What are you trying to tell me?” Harry asked, dread filling him.  He knew something had gone wrong on the battlefield, and now he realised he felt a lot weaker, and in a lot more pain, than he should do.  His vampiric healing should have helped…

“ It's my vampirism, isn't it?” he gasped in realisation.

“ Partly,” Ginny explained, “ But also because of your elven heritage.  Humans, magical and Muggle alike, have some innate magic, but it doesn't really affect their biology too drastically.  Wizards have more magic in them than Muggles, meaning then can use it to perform spells, but a loss of magic doesn't hurt them on a cellular level.  Elves and vampires, though, are magical beings…”

“ Meaning, they have strong innate magic, just like humans, but it is embedded in their genetic makeup,” Hermione concluded.

Harry sat still for a few minutes, absorbing the information he had been given.

“ Are you telling me,” he whispered eventually, “ That elves and vampires need magic to survive?”

“ Yes,” Sirius confirmed.  Harry closed his eyes in shock, realising the full implications of this discovery.  Elves and vampires were very magical creatures, with their innate magic playing a vital role in their biology.  Without it, their bodies would begin to fail, and they would eventually die.

“ So, I'm dying,” he stated resignedly.  Ginny grasped his hand hard, and Glen laid his hand on his father's arm.

“ I'm afraid so,” Poppy said, her head lowered in resignation, “ At least as far as we can tell.  Are you feeling pain?”

“ All over, sharp and continuous,” he replied.

“ Your cells are starting to break down.  Your vampire healing is still working to some extent, but it can only do so much.  Your elven cells are breaking down the quickest.  We estimate you have maybe three days left.”

“ How long was I unconscious?” Harry asked resignedly.

“ Just over day,” Ginny told him, tears now falling from her eyes.  The young hero pulled her to him and embraced her as she sobbed.  He knew he had to stay strong, for her sake.  Looking at his son, he saw the grief on the other boy's face.  He had only just begun to know his father, and now he would be taken away from him.  A burst of anger flooded through Harry as he saw the hopelessness in his friends' eyes.

“ Well, if I only have three days, we'd better get started,” Harry growled.

“ With what?” Sev asked.

“ With finding a solution.  I don't know about you, but I've been through too much to just lie down and accept a slow and painful death.”

“ But there's nothing we can do!” Glen yelled.

“ I refuse to believe that,” Harry snapped, “ There is a solution to every problem, it's just a matter of finding it.”

“ You don't have time!” Hermione grated out, “ You only have three days!  You'd be better off spending them with your friends and family than looking for something that can't be found!  Harry, I love you like a brother, and the last thing in the world I want is for you to die, but there isn't a solution.  We can't pull off a miracle this time!  Deep down, you know that too.  I've looked!  I spent the last day in the library with anyone not tending to the injured, and there is nothing there!  Nothing

The girl, her piece said, collapsed onto the floor, sobbing.  Ron, upset himself, knelt next to her and wrapped his arms around her in comfort.  Harry felt ashamed for making his friend cry.  Deep down, though, he wasn't giving up.  Not now, after the life he had had.  All he ever wanted was the threat of Voldemort gone so he could settle down with the woman he loved and live his life in peace.  Now that his dream had been snatched away from him, he was seething inside.  Deciding to drop the subject for now, he looked around the infirmary and noticed the beds full of battle victims.  With a start, he realised he hadn't even bothered to find out how everyone else was.  He turned to a watching Sev, asking him what was on his mind.

“ How did the battle go for everyone else?  Who did we lose?”

The Potions Master paled at the question, but answered nonetheless.

“ More than we hoped, but it could have been a lot worse than it was.  From the Aurors, we lost Mad Eye Moody, Joseph Abbot, Alistair Bones, and Electra McKinnon.  Prominent Order members lost include Mundungus Fletcher and Amos Diggory.  Fudge was killed not long after he arrived.”

“ What about the Death Eaters?  Did we get many of the inner circle members?”

“ Lucius and Caligula Malfoy, my father Satanus, Nott, Avery, Bellatrix Lestrange and Robert Black are the most notable.  The Dark vampires were defeated, as were the Dementors and werewolves.”

“ That's good,” Harry said in relief.  He had been worried that one of the most prominent of the inner circle would try to take over Voldemort's position as leader.  With the worst of the Death Eaters out of the way, anyone who escaped would be disorganised and unlikely to put up much resistance.

“ Harry. There's something you should know,” Sev said, choking a little.  Harry was immediately concerned.  Anything that could upset his stoic friend had to be bad.

“ What is it, Sev?”

A tear slipped from the older man's eye as he gave his mentor the news.

“ Dumbledore's dying.”

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