Chapter Thirty-Four: The Forest Again

Harry, though filled with dread, accepts that he has to die. He sees that Dumbledore knew him well enough to know that he would sacrifice himself willingly if he could save the lives of others. He notes that Dumbledore overestimated him, because the snake remains undestroyed, but he trusts that someone else can manage to kill the snake, now that Ron and Hermione know how.

Harry puts on the Invisibility Cloak and goes downstairs, almost running into Neville, who is helping carry in the dead body of Colin Creevey, the younger boy who had long idolized Harry. Harry avoids encountering any of his other friends, but goes up to Neville and gives him the information that the snake Nagini must be destroyed, in case anything happens to Ron and Hermione. So if the chance presents itself, and Neville happens to think of it . . . he should kill the snake.

Harry enters the forest. He takes out the Snitch Dumbledore left him, whose message said “I open at the close.” He tells the Snitch he is about to die, and it opens for him, revealing the cracked Resurrection Stone. Behind him, the shades of his parents appear, as well as Sirius and Lupin, who was killed in the recent battle. The shades tell him they are proud of him and that it doesn’t hurt to die, and they promise to stay with him in his ordeal, invisible to all but him.

Harry goes farther into the forest. He sees dementors, but they are powerless to affect him, as the shades of his loved ones act like Patronuses. In a clearing in the forest, Voldemort stands, surrounded by followers. The hour is up. Voldemort says he thought Harry would come but must have been mistaken. Harry says loudly that he wasn’t, as he steps out of the Cloak and drops the stone, causing the shades to vanish. He keeps his wand put away.

Everyone waits for Voldemort to act. Hagrid, taken prisoner and tied, shouts at Harry but is silenced. Harry thinks of Ginny’s face and her kiss. Voldemort casts the Killing Curse, and everything vanishes for Harry.

Chapter Thirty-Five: King’s Cross

Harry gradually comes into consciousness, naked. He opens his eyes and finds himself in an unformed, dreamlike place. He hears something pitiful yet unseemly flapping and thumping. He wishes for clothes, and robes appear before him, which he puts on. He sees that he is in a great hall. He sees a small, naked child, looking like it’s been beaten and stuffed out of sight, struggling for breath. He wants to help it but is repulsed by it. Dumbledore’s voice tells Harry that he cannot help it.