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Chapter Twenty-Eight

Dumbledore's dying

The words floated around Harry's numb brain, but they lost their meaning in the maelstrom of emotions the boy was feeling.

Dumbledore's dying

Words Harry had dreaded subconsciously for the last eight years, knowing that one day, his guide and mentor would be gone.

Dumbledore's dying

The numbness travelled throughout Harry's body, dulling the pain and sweeping away the exhaustion.

Dumbledore's dying

A phrase Harry would hear echoing in his mind for the rest of his life.  If the great Albus Dumbledore was dying, then he had no chance.  With the elderly wizard gone, Harry would no longer have his disapproval of the Dark Arts - something that had no doubt kept him in line for many years.  Life would never be the same, but then, if life was only three days, what did it matter?

Severus stood to one side, silently observing the play of emotions across his young friend's face.  The last he saw, though, was defeated resignation, and the Potions Master immediately became angry, knowing what Harry was thinking.

“ You can't give up now,” he grated, startling the boy out of his thoughts.

“ Why not?” Harry whispered.

“ Because I believe in you.  I believe that if you want to fight this thing, you can.  You just have to believe in yourself.”

“ I can't!” Harry shouted, gaining everyone's attention, “ Without Dumbledore to keep me in line, I would lose myself!”

“ Do you think he is the only person keeping you straight?” Severus asked him incredulously.

“ His disapproval of the magic I use has made sure I don't turn evil!  Without him here, I'll slip again, and next time it will be too late for me!”

“ Have you so little faith in your friends?” Severus asked, shocked.  Harry lowered his eyes in shame.

“ It's not that I don't have faith in my friends, Sev,” he muttered, “ I just don't have faith in myself.  I've been going down the path to true darkness for years, and without Dumbledore here, who will pull me back?”

A single tear rolled down Harry's cheek, and Severus uncharacteristically pulled the boy into his arms and embraced him.  The other occupants of the room watched in fascination as their saviour finally broke down, the pressure of the revelations washing away as he clung to his Slytherin friend and sobbed.  When he finally calmed down, Harry looked at Minerva and smiled sadly.

“ I want to see him.”

“ Harry…” she started, but the look in his eyes silenced her.  She nodded her head, and pulled back the curtain around the bed next to Harry's.  In it lay Albus Dumbledore, looking pale and sickly.  For once, he looked his age.  His eyes were closed and his breathing was shallow.  He looked bad, and Harry turned away after a moment, too upset to look any more.

“ What happened?” he asked, “ The last time I saw him he had been holding his own against Voldemort.  When I got him out of the fight, I thought he'd be alright!”

“ He was exhausted from fighting the Dark Lord,” Hermione said, sadly, “ He's not as young as he used to be, and as soon as you took over the fight with Voldemort, he collapsed.  One of the Death Eaters hit him with several curses, the results of which have injured him beyond healing.”

Harry closed his eyes as a wave of sadness and emotional pain filled him.  Dumbledore was like a grandfather to him.  He was a mentor, a trusted ally, and a friend.  He had been a rock for the boy, someone who could be relied upon no matter what.  Most people in 1943 would have condemned the time travellers, or at least turned them away as lunatics.  Albus, though, had believed them, and most of all, believed in them.  Despite his disapproval of Harry using the Dark Arts, he allowed it, showing how much trust he placed in the young saviour.  Now that he may no longer be there to support Harry, the Boy-Who-Lived didn't know what he would do.

As the physical pain of his condition flared up and Harry once more fell into unconsciousness, a silent tear streaked down his cheek.


The next two days were longest days of the time travellers' lives, and also the shortest.  They spent the time they had researching ways of curing Harry, even calling in Lolide and Vrykolakas for advice and solutions their people may be able to provide.  Harry drifted in and out of consciousness, the constant pain he was in worsening as the hours dragged on.  No matter what the group tried, there was nothing they could do for the saviour of the wizarding world.

In the rest of the country, there were celebrations in every wizarding settlement.  It was just like the last time Voldemort had been defeated, with parties in the streets and the Obliviators working overtime with the amount of sightings of magic by Muggles.  Everyone was happy, though, and didn't care what trouble they were causing.  Harry Potter had done it again, that which no-one else could do.  He had defeated the Dark L ord Voldemort, and brought safety and freedom to the wizarding world.  Little did the people know that their saviour was dying.

The Ministry of Magic was in chaos.  The Aurors who had survived the battle were telling everyone about Voldemort's resurrection.  Stories of the battle were rife, spreading like wildfire amongst those who had not witnessed it.  The loss of Cornelius Fudge was also celebrated by many, but the power vacuum was causing some trouble.  The most senior Ministry officials had taken it upon themselves to call an election to choose a new Minister.  The overall air of the government was excited, relieved, and more than a little disrupted, but nobody was complaining.

Hogwarts saw an extension of the celebrations.  Every House had run amok, throwing wild parties and swapping stories, yet also mourning for their members lost in the battle.  The teachers had cancelled classes until further notice while they tended to the injured and compensated as best they could for the loss of the headmaster.  Minerva had taken over as headmistress, but was too preoccupied with Harry and Albus' conditions to deal with the students.

As the eve of 8th May came, everyone was losing hope of finding a cure for Harry.  His condition had worsened earlier in the evening, and Poppy was sure he would be dead the next day.  The rest of the time travellers had been ordered out of the hospital wing when Harry fell unconscious once more, as the Mediwitch insisted they needed sleep.  When Ginny and Glen told her they wouldn't sleep until it was over, the wily witch slipped some Dreamless Sleep potion into their tea, taking the decision out of their hands.

When Harry awoke in the middle of the night, he looked blearily around him and found the infirmary free of any visitors.  The stillness of the night air was disturbed only by the rasping breaths of the elderly wizard in the next bed.  Harry gritted his teeth through the pain and turned his head to the right and looked at the headmaster.  Over the last two days he had watched the other man become increasingly weak.  He hadn't woken up, which broke Harry's heart.  He had so wanted to speak with his mentor before their lives ended.  

As Harry closed his eyes against the pain he was in, he listened to Dumbledore breathing.  It soothed him, and he soon began to drift off to sleep once more.  The sudden cessation of the background noise quickly brought Harry back to a state of alertness.  Silent tears began to fall from his closed eyes as he realised that Dumbledore was gone.  A soft chuckle startled him immensely.

“ Now, Harry, there's no need for that, my boy.”

Harry's eyes shot open at the familiar voice and he looked wildly over in its direction.  His eyes widened in shock as he saw a transparent figure standing next to his bed.  It let off a soft blue glow, and as Harry looked up into the figure's face, he was met by a pair of familiar twinkling blue eyes.

“ Professor!” Harry gasped.

“ Yes, Harry, it is I.  Don't be afraid.”

Tears poured freely down Harry's face now, and he began to softly sob.  Dumbledore placed a transparent arm around the boy and pulled him into a hug.  The green eyed boy buried his face in the soft creases of the ethereal robes and cried until he had no tears left.  When he had calmed down, he looked up at his friend and mentor.

“ How?” he asked.

“ Ah, well, you see Harry, the ones we love never leave us.  Especially not when we are in need of help,” Albus said with a smile.

“ But…I'm beyond help,” Harry sniffed, “ I'm going to die too, and there's nothing anyone can do about it.”

“ Are you sure about that?” Dumbledore asked.  Harry thought long and hard, before nodding his head resignedly.

“ We've looked everywhere for a cure, and there isn't one.  I need magic in my cells to allow them to heal.  They've nearly completely broken down, I can feel it.  Madame Pomfrey doesn't think my natural magic will start to return for another week, which will be too late.”

“ Nothing is ever too late, my boy.  Every problem has a solution; it's just a matter of finding it.”

“ Well, what would you suggest?” Harry asked.  Dumbledore just smiled at him and began to fade.  The younger man began to panic, increasing his grip on the headmaster's robes, but to no avail.  The figure became a glowing ball of soft, blue light, which suddenly slammed into Harry's chest and began to spread throughout his body.  The last thing Harry heard as the darkness claimed him were Dumbledore's words.

Every problem has a solution; it's just a matter of finding it.


When Harry woke up the next morning, the first thing he noticed was that the pain that had been a constant part of his life for the last three days, was gone.  When he tried to move, though, he felt a wave of dizziness pass over him, and both of his hands were grasped tightly.  Opening his eyes, he saw Glen on one side and Ginny on the other, both with silent tears coursing down their faces.  Thinking back to the night before, Harry tilted his head to the right and saw the empty bed next to his.  A wave of sorrow passed over him and his own tears began to fall.

Don't cry, Harry, he heard echoing in his mind, All things come into this world, and pass out of it once more.  I am no different.  Do not be sad, young one, for the ones we love never leave us.

The familiar words from the night before brought a smile to Harry's face, and he let out a light chuckle.  The others in the room, including all of his friends and family, gave him a strange look, and shot each other glances of concern.

“ Harry, don't strain yourself,” Ginny whimpered, “ You'll weaken your body, and we'll lose you quicker.”

“ Just lie still, Dad.  Are you in any pain?” Glen asked.

Harry looked at them quizzically, before realising that today was the day Madame Pomfrey had predicted his body would fail.  While he didn't know what Dumbledore had done the night before, he could feel in his body that it was slowly healing.  He was still very weak, but he was no longer dying.  Looking at the Mediwitch who was hovering off to one side of the group, he motioned her to come over with a shake of his head.

“ Madame Pomfrey, would you please scan me and tell the others the progress of my…condition?” he asked, a slight smile playing on his lips.  Everyone thought he had lost his mind, wondering why he was smiling at a time like this.

“ If you're sure, Harry dear,” she said, waving her wand over him and assessing the damage done to his body.  When she let out a sharp gasp of surprise, Harry laughed lightly, the horror and shock of the last few days finally leaving him fully.

 “ He's…he's…” Poppy gasped, unable to say the words.

“ What is it, Poppy?” Sirius asked.

“ He's…fine!”

“ Fine?” everyone yelled in alarm.  Poppy performed the tests a second, third and fourth time, but kept getting the same results.

“ There's nothing wrong with him.  Most of his cells have healed nicely, and I'm guessing the pain has gone.  I…I don't understand!” she wailed, throwing her arms up in the air.  Everyone looked at a smiling Harry in shock and relief, before each of his friends and family took it in turn to pull him into a hug.  Once the rounds had been done, they retook their seats and looked at him expectantly, waiting for an explanation.  Harry grinned back at them.

“ Every problem has a solution; it's just a matter of finding it,” he said, closing his eyes and falling back asleep.


The next time Harry woke up, there were fewer people in the room.  Ginny was still by his side, as were Glen and Sirius, but it appeared everyone else had more important things to do than stay in the infirmary.  As his head cleared, he let out a loud groan, gaining him the attention of his family.  Ginny have him a tight hug, a broad smile on her face, and Sirius grinned at him widely.  Glen took his hand and gave it a light squeeze.

It's always nice to see a friendly face when waking up from an illness or injury, the familiar voice in Harry's mind commented, They always bring a selection of sweets to guide you on the path to health.

The other three gave Harry strange looks when he suddenly started laughing.  Once he had calmed down, he thought it best to explain himself.  However, there was nothing to stop him from having a bit of fun first.

“ Sorry about that,” he said with a hiccough, “ The voices in my head are playing up again.”

The looks on the others' faces was priceless, causing Harry to laugh even harder.  He could hear an echo or mirth resonating inside his skull, and was comforted that death hadn't jaded the headmaster's sense of humour.

“ The…looks…on…your…faces!” he gasped out.

“ Well, what do you expect!” Sirius yelped, flustered, “ You just told us you were hearing voices!”

“ I know, I know,” Harry said, thinking of Ron and Hermione, “ Even in the wizarding world, hearing voices isn't a good sign.  Don't worry, though, it's only Professor Dumbledore.”

The others immediately fell silent, no longer finding the conversation amusing.

“ Harry…” Ginny said, gently, “ Dumbledore's dead.  Don't you remember?  He was gone when you woke up earlier.”

“ I know, Gin,” Harry reassured her, “ I'm not losing my mind.”

He decided the best thing to do would be to explain what had happened the night before, giving them a decent explanation for his improving health.  When he was finished, Glen and Ginny had bemused looks on their faces, but Sirius looked relieved and a little awed.

“ But Dad,” Glen said, “ If that's true, then how are you healed?”

“ It was Dumbledore's spirit,” Sirius explained, “ When we die, our spirit leaves our body and moves on.  Sometimes, the spirit stays in the mortal realm, in the form of a ghost.  Now, the spirit, while not powerful like the wizard was in life, still retains some of the person's magic.  Without it, we wouldn't have ghosts.  What I believe Dumbledore did when he died was to possess Harry.”

“ Harry's possessed!” Ginny yelled, shocked.

“ It's not a bad thing, Ginny, in fact, it's what's keeping him alive.”

“ My cells,” Harry concluded, “ They need magic to live, and I didn't have any.  When Professor Dumbledore died, he came for a little holiday in my body until my magic could restore itself, using the magic left in his spirit form to allow my cells to heal.”

“ That's ingenious!” Glen stated, a smile on his face.

“ I know,” Harry said, giving his son a hug.

Mentally, Harry was searching out the other soul inhabiting his body, and sent feeling of gratitude towards it.

You're quite welcome, my boy, the unearthly voice replied as Harry spent some time catching up with his friends.


Four days later, Harry was finally released from the hospital wing so that he could attend Dumbledore's funeral.  It had been just over a week since the final battle, and the wizarding world had finally settled down somewhat.  The shock of Dumbledore's death had shaken the wizarding population almost as much as the end of the Dark Lord.  His funeral would mark the end of an important era in magical history.  The dark reign of terror had come to an end, one of the country's greatest and most revered wizards was dead, and the Ministry was undergoing significant changes under the newly elected Minister, Aberforth Dumbledore.  The deceased headmaster's brother had been a surprising candidate, but he was proving to be a capable leader.  

Harry felt a wave of sadness fill him every time he thought of his mentor.  While the wily old wizard was still with him in the most intimate way possible, encased in Harry's body, it wasn't the same as having his reassuring presence there in the flesh.  The day of Dumbledore's death had been officially declared a public day of mourning, and the wizarding world was perfectly willing to show its respect.  After all, Albus Dumbledore had not only seen to the downfall of Voldemort, but had also eliminated the threat of Grindelwald.

The ceremony was very private, and was held on the Hogwarts grounds.  The mourners were restricted to members of the Dumbledore family, and members of the Order of the Phoenix.  On the front row of seats sat Aberforth, Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, several generations of Marauders, the elves and Severus.  The Order council was placed in the seats behind them, until the least prominent Order members were at the back.  Hagrid, as usual, was sobbing loudly, causing quite a disruption.  
As the ceremony in the Great Hall started, everyone stood up and sang one of Albus' requests, `Puff the Magic Dragon'.  Aberforth, as the former headmaster's closest living relative, took the podium first and addressed the crowd.

“ Ladies, Gentlemen, as many of you will know, I am not as good with words as my late brother, but I have a few things I would like to say.  Albus was a man of strength, honour and integrity.  A man well loved by everyone whose lives he touched, simply by being himself.  Many people over the years have thought him mad, or at the very least a little dotty, but underneath his multicoloured robes and Lemon Drops was a man who brought hope to a nation, a nation who without him would have fallen into Darkness.  A nation who owes him a great debt.  I am Aberforth Dumbledore, brother of Albus Dumbledore, and I am proud to call him family.  Thank you.”

As Aberforth stepped down, a great round of applause filled the Hall.  Dumbledore had touched each of their lives in a personal way, so they each felt that Aberforth's words were true.  As each person close to the headmaster stood to say a few words, the atmosphere at the funeral became increasingly emotional.  Last, but not least, Harry took to podium, a slight lump in his throat.

“ You all know me.  I am Harry Potter, the one everyone claims in the saviour of the wizarding world.  I am about to tell you otherwise.”

There was a collective gasp as the crowd stared at Harry in shock.  Inside his head, the Boy-Who-Lived felt Albus' soul shifting and expressing its curiosity.

“ I am here to tell you who the real saviour of the wizarding world is.  That title belongs to none other than Albus Dumbledore.”

A ripple of whispering filled the crowd.

“ I know you all believe I have power.  You all believe I used my magic and my wits to outmaneuver the great `Dark Lord', but in reality I was little more than a pawn.  A minor chess piece in the chessboard of life.  Albus Dumbledore, however, was a king.  Taking out a pawn does not affect the world in any profound way.  There are many more like me; young, impulsive and enthusiastic people with the drive to achieve the impossible.  I am not uncommon.  Everyone has it within themselves to be a pawn, or a rook, or a knight.  However, only a very rare few can be kings, without whom the game is ended.  Albus Dumbledore was more than the headmaster of Hogwarts.  He was more than the leader of the Order of the Phoenix.  He was our king.  The one who brought us all together to fight a common cause, and in the end, the battle was not lost unless he was checked.  Now he has gone, and the game has ended.  The battle is won, and the world is safe.  Without him, it could not have been done, and I commend him.  To Albus Dumbledore!” he said, bowing regally, tears trailing down his face as the crowd cheered.

Well said, my boy, well said, the voice of the man in question whispered in Harry's mind as he stepped from the podium and retook his seat.

As the crowd settled down and the coffin was carried from the Great Hall, Harry, Minh, Lolide and Gaerwyn sang an elven funerary song, backed up by Fawkes.  It differed slightly from the ones the time travellers and their friends had heard at other funerals, and as they all followed the casket onto the Hogwarts grounds, Ginny asked Harry about it.  He gave her a watery smile as he finished the haunting melody.

“ It's reserved for family,” he told her as Albus Dumbledore was finally laid to rest.

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