There was sand under his fingernails, gritty and sharp, and no banishment spell had yet been invented that could rid him of every last grain. He scratched at his robes to jar it loose, then gave in to it as the price of being there. The desert was cold at night, and the sandstorm had buried the landscape so thoroughly Harry felt for a moment like he was at the end of the world.
It was not an unfamiliar feeling.
Egypt wasn't far enough to outrun his ghosts. They still clung to his shoulders and whispered in his ear and wouldn't give him a moment's peace. He ran to the only person he had left, but the ghosts had only grown bolder.
Behind him a village of sand-coloured tents rose from the undulating dunes, impervious to the scouring storm. He could turn around and go back inside, climb into the narrow cot with Bill and hope that if he pressed close enough there would be no room for anything else. But there were some curses even Bill couldn't break.
Harry picked a grain of sand from his hand and let it fall, joining the billions of others. That one's Sirius, he thought, who fell in the Department of Mysteries. And that one Remus, caught and tortured by Voldemort's minions. Hermione, Snape, lost in a laboratory accident. Another scattering the Weasleys, all but one crushed in the Battle of Ottery St. Catchpole.
Seamus, Dean, Neville, Tonks, Kingsley, Mad-Eye, hundreds of others on both sides of the battle, flattened when Voldemort was defeated and wizarding Britain shattered. And Dumbledore, who died so that Harry could remain to count grains of sand in the desert.
Just a handful of refugees remained, scattered about the world like leaves in the wind. Harry's hands would never be clean.
In the end, the only one he managed to keep at bay was Voldemort. The rest would stalk him to the end of days.