Disclaimer: JK Rowling and Warner Brothers, etc own Harry Potter and the world. I do take credit for the deformed story plot you are about to see.
A/N I know this is probably a weird piece of work, coming from me--but I just thought it up and decided to try, I'm not sure what will become of it. I'm not good at keeping Harry in character...I apologize if you get confused!
Summary: A ''Harry's old as the hills'' ficlet. He can't remember who he is, or what he did in his youth. Has Harry really forgotten--or is he trapped in something, much worse than old age? Somewhat H/G and R/H
"Sorry, but I'm having a bad retirement..." --Harry Potter
Once Upon a Memory
Another morning, another day, another night filled with glimpses of his past. It'd been a long time since he could remember who the memories were of; he saw flickers of the people he once cared about and loved. A flash of red hair, the back of a bushy haired brunette, sometimes a long gray beard not so different from his own, when it wasn't hair he saw, it was toothy smiles and black smiling eyes, who were these people? He'd ask himself every morning after one of these dreams occurred.
The old man sighed, and sat on the bench that had settled itself onto his porch. It was cold and stiff, but he didn't seem to notice. He was used to it by now, for this was the only place he could sit and still get a nice view of the sunset everyday, it was the only thing that comforted him; assured him that he'd made it through yet one more day.
When one was as old as Harry J. Potter, they began to wonder if they were still living or not, there was no one around to tell him when he'd passed, he hadn't interacted with anyone in ages, not that he wanted to; he preferred the peace and quiet, and watching his beard grow past his knees.
Every morning, he readied himself for his usual day--a morning walk around the grounds of old Godric's Hollow, his home of over one-hundred years, then a slowly cooked breakfast, then he'd spend the rest of the morning reading through his books, lunch would come and then he'd settle down for an afternoon nap and wake up and venture out to visit his wild animals, kept on the grounds for some reason he couldn't recall--an old friend had given him the beasts, but that was as far as his memory reached.
Though sometimes a gruff voice echoed in the recesses of his mind, "Shoulda left hippogriffs fer later..."
Then he'd head in for an early dinner and spend part of the evening inspecting his broomstick collection, his most prized possessions. Sometimes when he stared at the old antique Firebolt long enough, (once used by him--long ago--) he could remember voices...
"Listen, Harry, can I have a go on it? Can I?"
"I don't think anyone should ride on that broom just yet!"
"...the best broom there is..."
The voices were haunting, so clearly remembered, yet not remembered at all. He often thought that he was going mad, one too many years alone with his thoughts and... The memories. If that's what they were, or were they things only conjured up by his own loneliness? He couldn't leave that possibility out...
After his time spent with his collection of broomsticks, he'd go to his last task of watching the sunset and then go to bed where the dreams would come. He believed these dreams to be memories of the past, things he'd forgotten--probably on purpose, for many a dream had the emotion of sadness etched in its colors, he wasn't sure what he dreamt, but he knew it was sad. Why remember something that brought pain to himself?
Some nights were better then others, on Tuesday he could dream of conquering dragons and reminisces of friendships mended; the next of snakes--horrid snakes. He never remembered why he hated snakes, but there was something about them he didn't like--they represented something from his past he'd apparently wanted to forget.
For Harry didn't know what had happened to him, just that long ago, something had happened that made him forget. He'd lived here ever since with the same routine, the only visitors were strangers, just checking on him to make sure he still lived. How pathetic.
Whatever terrible thing that had happened to make him forget who he'd been, must have been colossal--for what else could make a man discard of what made him who he was? Sure, he was Harry Potter, old man, but that was all he knew. What did Harry like? What did he do? Who had he known? Did he have a family? Friends? Did he even have a past at all? Who was he?
These questions bothered him, especially at sunset when he contemplated why he still lived, when he hardly counted as a person in his state of mind.
The old man shrugged, and pulled off his glasses, observing the broken part of them, it seemed once upon a time he had been quite active--they appeared to be cracked repeatedly in the same spot... Strange; normally magic hid these things...
Magic, there was something he understood; he knew spells and theories of magic, but when it came time to recall how he knew it... Things went blank.
He was interrupted from his thoughts, by a rather loud clunking sound on his porch. The sound was unfamiliar to his ears, since so long it had been quiet in his life.
"Harry?" Came a hesitant voice, and Harry put his glasses on and stared at the intruder--or, upon second inspection--intruders. It was a boy who had spoken, no more then seventeen. He was tall and faintly lanky; a shock of red hair on his head and his nose seemed too big for his head.
"Yes, that is me, now may I ask--who are you?" Harry questioned, alarmed at this boy. Beside the redheaded boy was a girl, the same age as the boy, her arm was linked with his, and her brown hair was pulled back out of her face; she had a anxious look about her as she stared at Harry intently.
"I'm--" the boy looked bewildered for a moment, "You don't know me, do you." It was a statement, not a question.
"Am I supposed to know you?" Harry asked, his hand fingering his wand in his pocket. Outsiders he was used to, but not young outsiders--this couple could only mean trouble.
The girl and boy shook their heads, "May we sit down?" the girl spoke for the first time, and Harry nodded.
"I guess we should introduce ourselves--I'm Ron Weasley." The boy spoke, holding out his hand to Harry and shaking it, before taking a seat beside him, his uncomfortable vibes evident in the way he sat too straight and his legs were stiff.
"I'm Hermione Granger." Their names held a vague familiar air to them, but Harry couldn't place it.
"If you don't already know," Harry began conversationally, "I'm Harry Potter."
"We know," Hermione and Ron said together, and Ron added, "We know everything about you Harry."
"Well, in that case, would you mind telling me all about me?" Harry asked, wondering if these people held the secrets to his past, the key to unlocking these haunting memories.
Ron and Hermione shifted uneasily, and Hermione settled in closer to Ron for support of some kind, Harry raised his eyebrows. "We were hoping you'd remember..." Hermione said dejectedly.
"Remember...?" Harry asked.
"He didn't tell us what to do if Harry didn't remember anything." Ron said quietly to Hermione.
"Remember what?" Harry insisted, who was 'he' and why were they talking about himself like he wasn't there?
"We weren't expecting it... He must remember something though." Hermione said knowledgably, "Ask him."
"Ask him what?" Ron demanded, looking even more uncomfortable.
"Anything," Hermione answered, "Something about what he remembers."
"Hermione..." Ron whined, eyeing Harry nervously. Harry just sat there, waiting for them to tell him what to do. He wasn't used to company, what to say and how to act...
"Fine, I'll ask him," Hermione turned her attention to Harry, "Harry, do you remember anyone? What sort of people do you know--names please?"
What kind of questions are these? Harry wondered, but answered truthfully, "No one...No one at all."
Hermione and Ron's faces fell, "No one Harry? Not Ginny? Dumbledore?"
Hermione looked like she might cry, "Oh Ron! We'll never get him back now..."
"How about your parents, Harry? Do you remember anything about them? Who you are? Just tell us what you do know!" Ron said urgently, Harry looked into his face, and decided that he could withhold his own questions, to answer the questions of the two slightly panicked teenagers.
"Hmm...Well, I know my name, where I live--spells--" Harry was cut off from his reminisce by Hermione.
"Spells? Do you remember where you learned them? Or how you got your wand?" she asked him, her eyes looking desperate.
Harry sighed, somewhat upset that he couldn't be of any help to the young pair, "No... Sometimes I remember glimpses I guess you could call them, but never anything--tangible."
"Glimpses?" Ron and Hermione asked together, their eyes full of hope. They hung to Harry's words like a life line, they were clearly looking for something or someone Harry used to know of, and were hoping he could tell them.
"Glimpses, yes..." Harry gazed wistfully at the sun, which was almost wholly vanished from sight. "At night, I'll have these dreams, not of anything actually happening, but at the same time my subconscious knows something is going on... Do you understand?"
"I think so Harry," Hermione said thoughtfully, "It could be, that your memories are coming back to you--but you still can't grasp what the memories are about, they're like someone else's memories altogether..."
"That would make sense," Harry said softly, "If this helps..." Ron nodded encouragingly to him, "Frequently, I'll look at something, and know what I think about it, but it's as if I've never made the decision myself about it. For instance, I know I hate snakes--there's something about them they remind me of--what it is, I don't know for certain...its things like that, and when I'm with my broom collections--sometimes I remember people's voices..." Harry trailed off, unsure of himself.
"What do these voices say, Harry?" Ron asked gently, looking more comfortable then he had previously, as he kept one arm around Hermione.
"Just last night, I was looking at my old Firebolt--"
"So you remember it was yours?" Hermione jumped at the chance of Harry knowing something.
"No, I don't remember--it has my name labeled on it," Harry said, his old voice hoarse and he looked longingly out, as the sun disappeared for good, he didn't notice their disappointed looks, "Let's go inside, shall we?" he asked, politely. Impulse took over as he led them into the dining room and they sat around the table.
Ron stared in awe at the house, it was very lovely and richly furnished--but no pictures of family or friends; no personal touches. It made sense though, that Harry wouldn't add his own touch to the house, the old man was probably not even sure what his tastes were; what he liked--it was as if the house was made for him to live in by someone who knew very little about him.
"Any more questions? Or am I going to be able to ask you--who you are and what you're after?" Harry asked good-naturedly, as he took his seat at the head of the table, Ron and Hermione on either side of him.
"Just a few more..." Hermione said a small smile on her face as she looked at the old man in front of her.
"Fine, fine get to asking," Harry urged, he was used to going to bed right about now...
"Do you have any contacts whatsoever?" she asked him, "People who come and visit?"
"Oh yes," Harry said, happy to be able to answer a question in affirmative, "The Ministry comes to make sure I'm still breathing every few months or so..." Hermione and Ron exchanged glances.
"Oh," Ron said, "So...you're all by yourself here?"
"Yes, it appears I am." Harry said unfeelingly.
"It must be lonely..." Hermione noted, and Harry looked into her eyes and saw sadness in them--sadness--for him?
"It's not really as lonely as you'd think," Harry said, trying to make her feel better, "You get used to it, and I've been alone for--well over a hundred years."
"Man, you're old, Harry!" Ron blurted, and Hermione glared at him.
"Don't waste time, Ron! We have to hurry..." Hermione scolded, and turned once more to Harry, "So, you know about the Ministry of Magic?"
"Somewhat--I know they exist and are a government unit... That's about it," Harry said, feeling slightly ashamed for never bothering to find these things out.
Ron let out a groan of frustration, "So, basically you know nothing about everything?" he asked grumpily, and Harry tried not to be offended.
"That's right... I'm sorry I can't help you." Harry said, looking down at his wrinkled hands.
"Oh, it's fine Harry... It's not your fault." Hermione soothed him, her eyes welling up with tears, and Harry wondered what he'd done to upset her now. He looked to Ron for answers, but Ron looked just as upset--like he'd just lost his best-friend.
"Is that all you need?" Harry asked kindly, and the pair nodded numbly, "Then...May I ask you why you're here?"
"Well, we were here...To bring you back home, but I guess this is your home..." Hermione said delicately, and Harry was again unsure of what was going on, they weren't telling him something, but he didn't have the heart to ask.
"Not to be rude or anything, but it's time for me to go to bed..." Hermione and Ron stared at Harry, the hopelessness in their faces tearing at his heart, and he cursed whoever did this to him--or whatever happened to cause this dratted forgetfulness.
"Nothing Harry? Really--you can't recall a thing? The Dursleys? Professor McGonagall, Colin Creevey not even--" Ron paused in his rant to take a deep breath, "Not even Voldemort?" He managed to get the last name out, and felt a rush of power when he said the most feared name of the past Century.
The name struck a cord deep inside Harry, and he bent down his head in pain as memory after memory rushed through him, as he remembered that last day he'd had memories.
He recalled a boy and two girls, their names were on the tip of his tongue, and he couldn't remember what they looked like, but he knew he'd loved them intensely. He remembered being seventeen like the two teenagers before him, and facing a great evil--this Voldemort--and fighting him, and winning. It had been a bittersweet triumph to him; even now he could still taste the blood in his mouth as he'd lain down beside the fallen corpse of his greatest enemy.
He'd been shocked at what he'd done, but had looked forward to reuniting with his friends at his school... What had been its name? He remembered pulling himself off the cold ground, and looking towards a castle and knowing he was almost home, that was when it had happened. Harry had walked towards the steps of his school, when he felt someone grab his arm and pull him back--he'd turned around to find himself face to face with a minion of Voldemort.
The minion removed his hood, and it wasn't an evil face he saw, but a familiar one--someone he knew very well, the older man had had a look of regret in his eyes, as he led Harry around the castle, and they arrived by the lake, where bodies lay everywhere...
Mangled bodies--dead bodies. Harry had felt his knees give out at the sight of them. The minions were gone, but they'd done their damage. "I need you to help identify them Harry, can you do that? We don't think any survived...the students… Attacked the school while you and the Headmaster were gone...They're all dead..."
"Voldemort, I remember him." Harry said, his voice deathly quiet, he looked up into the eyes of Hermione and Ron, "He killed the only family I'd ever known...My best-friends." He looked into the eyes of Ron, and saw that they were--pleased.
"You remember," Ron said, a smile tugging at his lips.
"I wish I didn't." Harry said bitterly, "No wonder I forgot--who'd want to remember finding out your best-friends are dead?"
"We're still getting somewhere," Hermione said, taking on a professional look. "I think we've just opened up a leak in his blocked memories, it's just like taking away an Obliviate charm... Harry, do you remember the name Hogwarts?"
Harry suddenly felt elated, "Hogwarts! It was my school!" He told them excitedly. "The school where I learned magic..."
"Good, Harry, good!" Ron said, patting the old man hard on the back, and making Harry almost lose his breath.
"Watch out! Old bones you know," Harry told Ron, who was grinning at him.
"What else do you remember?" Hermione persisted, "Ron we have to hurry! The--"
"Yes! I know!" Ron said, suddenly it seemed to Harry, as if something enormous was about to happen, and he needed to discover who he was immediately, or he might never remember it. It was like this was his last chance. Suddenly Hermione and Ron were desperate and edgy, and started asking him many questions.
"Albus Dumbledore! Do you remember him?" Hermione asked. An old beard and twinkling eyes--and kind words entered Harry's mind...
"I remember, yes--Professor Dumbledore--the Headmaster!" Harry said joyously.
"What about--Professor Snape? Remember how he hated you and always got you into trouble?" Ron asked, and Harry connected Snape with the man in his memory of Voldemort. Sad memories or not, he knew he had to do this.
Harry nodded willingly, as he felt the knowledge of his life slip into him. It was quite the rush...
"How about Hagrid? Your friend the half-giant?" Hermione inquired, her and Ron were leaning towards Harry, getting in his face and asking questions; it was comedic in a 'dangerous last chance' kind of way.
"Hagrid... He was the man with the Hippogriffs!" Harry said after a moment.
"Yes! Yes!" Ron and Hermione rejoiced, eyes full of happiness and hope.
"What about Sirius? Do you remember Sirius Black? Your Godfather?" It took a few minutes longer to recall the escaped convict, but Harry remembered him well.
"Sirius... Snuffles..." Harry whispered.
"You even remember his nickname! Oh, Harry! That's wonderful!" Hermione squealed.
"What about... Ginny?" Ron asked, knowing he might get somewhere with her. Harry sat for a long moment; trying to remember her... It took longer then remembering Sirius and Hagrid put together...
He searched his mind, and leeched on to a head of red hair, and a beautiful smile... He'd loved her once... That he knew, and he knew she was another who had died that day, years ago. "Ginny...she died in my seventh year of schooling..." Harry said softly, one of the few things he could recall about the girl.
Ron looked like he wanted to say something to him, but Hermione silenced him with a look, "Red hair? Right?" Hermione prodded.
"Hmm... Yes... and a beautiful smile," Harry said with a nod, a wistful look glazing the aged green eyes. Ron and Hermione grinned at one another.
"It's hardest to remember the ones he's closest too." Hermione said, and then she shifted nervously. "Harry, do you remember--who your best-friends were...?"
Do I want to? Harry asked himself, it had been painful remembering Ginny--what would it be like to remember the people he'd known better then anyone else? The people who befriended him and were like his family...
He sighed, and searched his memories, hard... But nothing came--a laugh--a chess game--a large book--but not the people connected to them. He strained his mind for them, and he felt the time slowly slipping away, but nothing came--he couldn't remember.
"I can't," Harry said gloomily. "It's too hard."
"Don't give up Harry. Keep trying," Ron said optimistically.
"I am trying, and I can't." Harry said tiredly, "It's too much--can't we try again--tomorrow?" he asked hopefully.
"We can't come back tomorrow Harry." Hermione said, "This is the only chance you have to set things straight, and you have to remember your best-friends to do it, and we can't interfere any further."
"Why not?" Harry probed.
"It's against the rules," she said simply, "The rules of us being able to come here."
"Ah," Harry muttered, "Doesn't make sense, but I guess I'll have to deal with it."
"Try this Harry--all these people you do remember--many of the times you saw them, you saw your best-friends. Just search memories of them and you'll find your best-friends," Ron said his eyes worried, and fearful.
"I am--Ron this isn't as easy as it looks you know," Harry said, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes. He was tired, and this was wearing him out.
"Oh Harry please! Hurry up and remember!" Hermione begged, "We don't have the time--" she glanced at the clock "We leave at eight O'clock, and there's nothing to stop us--it's ten till!" She said, trying not to get hysterical, and Ron took her hand across the table to relieve her stress.
"He'll remember, he'll remember," Ron chanted to her in a calm voice, but Ron's eyes held a different story. "Keep trying Harry, Think--what was Ginny's-- full name?"
"Ron--is that allowed?" Hermione glared at him, "If we mess up--then this entire ordeal is for nothing." she hissed.
"I'm not cheating, I'm using a loop hole, we were allowed to tell him who we were--why should this make any difference?" Ron argued, and the two continued to bicker as Harry thought about Ginny.
Virginia--that had been her full first name...But her last name and middle name escaped him.
"Ronald Weasley! I can't believe you said that!" Hermione screeched, it appeared Ron had said something highly offending to Hermione by the way Hermione had shouted and the way Ron had turned very red in the face.
"Weasley! Weasley." Harry suddenly remembered Ginny's last name and something else...'My father told me all Weasleys have red hair, freckles, and more children then they can afford..." His enemy had said it, by chance, and it gave him the key..."Ginny Weasley, that's it!" He studied the anxious looking Ron for a moment, before saying, "Ron--you aren't related to her by any chance?" He asked innocently, and Ron and Hermione gaped open mouthed at him.
"Now Hermione, you're the one who did the cheating..." Ron muttered, looking cautiously at Harry. "Um...Yes, I'm related to Ginny," he said, chewing on his bottom lip, and Hermione kicked him in the shins under the table and made him grimace.
"How? One of her brothers' great-great-grandsons?" He asked suspiciously. He'd known Ron had seemed very familiar, now it explained why.
Ron let out an aggravated sound, "He'll never figure it out!" He gritted out to Hermione.
"Hmm... Let's try this!" Hermione said thoughtfully, "Harry, think back to the first day of Hogwarts of your first year and who you met."
"I met..." He thought for a few moments, before finally saying, "A boy, with red hair! Was that my best-friend?" Harry asked, feeling like he was on to something.
Ron glanced at Hermione, who gave a slight nod of permission, "Yes, that was him."
"He was a Weasley, wasn't he?" Harry stated, and Ron and Hermione nodded, looking more hopeful then ever. "Was he your great-great-uncle?" Ron and Hermione's faces fell in disappointment, and Ron's shoulders slumped as he sat back in his chair.
The clock chimed eight, and abruptly his two guests disappeared.
"Ron Weasley..." Harry thought about the name, it seemed so familiar. "Hermione Granger..." He said, testing the name on his tongue--it felt like he'd said it before, a hundred times... "Ginny Weasley, Sirius Black, Hagrid and..." Who were his other friends? Were they all dead?
Harry retired to his bed, going over the things in his mind--could it have all been a dream? It was certainly very strange, but he was immune to strange things--they'd ceased to affect him since... Before he could remember.
He fell asleep that night, and had many odd dreams, giant spiders were there, and Ron Weasley was there complaining about how he hated them, beside him stood Hermione Granger, talking to Harry about Hogwarts, A History. The book was familiar to Harry, and Hermione seemed to know it very well, as if she'd read it many times...
Harry awoke, and quickly put on his glasses and got dressed, he wondered if maybe he'd dreamed Hermione and Ron up out of loneliness, maybe all the dreams and memories were things he created, maybe none of this was real...
Instead of going for his morning walk, Harry went straight to his library and picked up the book he'd stored on a dusty shelf, never once had he read it... Hogwarts, A History had dusty and yellow pages, but as he looked at it, he knew he hadn't dreamt it up --for inside the front cover was this: Property of Hermione Granger.
Harry was confused, and it took him a moment to comprehend how on Earth Hermione's book had gotten into his house, and then he had to think through how Hermione's name could be in a book older then her parents should be...
He flipped through the pages, and saw notes scribbled on the sides, most of them from Hermione, but then there was a page near the back that had three types of script doodled in...
'Hermione, reading again?' --Ron
'Don't write in my book Ronald Weasley.' --Hermione
'You write in it, so why can't I? Besides, you wrote in my book.'--Ron
'That was Harry's book.' --Hermione
''Shared by Ron Weasley', is on the front cover--care to have another look?'--Ron
'Stop squabbling on paper!' –An Annoyed Harry
'Sorry' --Hermione and Ron
Harry stared at what was written in disbelief, his friends--they'd been right under his nose, and he still hadn't figured it out... And now it was too late... He'd never see them again... But weren't they dead? Maybe they'd come to take his soul on to the next life, and now he was going to have to wait another six weeks, like Ground Hog's Day...
Harry groaned in despair, he'd been much happier when he couldn't remember anything.
Now he found himself with more questions then he could handle... Why had no one come to see him? What had become of Hogwarts? And most of all--why had he forgotten his life, in the first place?
Besides those questions, there was one in particular that bothered him... Why had he never gone off these grounds? It bothered Harry more then most of the questions did... and he wasn't for sure why.
Hermione was right about Hogwarts, a History, Harry thought to himself as he remembered how much his old friend had liked that book, Very informative.
Harry picked up his wand, and held it tightly in his hand... He knew what he had to do, what he had to find out. There was no other way... He'd done it once before in his youth, he could do it again.
He strolled out on his grounds, breakfast and routine forgotten. He headed to the fenced off area with the hippogriffs wandered the grass, they never flew off--Harry had never noticed before. It was as if he'd woken up from a trance and now all he had to do was look and discover what was reality.
He opened the gate and approached a particularly friendly Hippogriff; he smiled at it and bowed on instinct, not blinking. The Hippogriff bowed back, and Harry approached it, gently petting its head and then slowly climbing on its back.
"Up--up! We fly Hippogriff!" Harry tried apprehensively... What had he done the last time he'd done this in third year? The memory attacked his mind, and he shook it off with only a bit of difficulty, he nudged the beast with his ankles, and he took off immediately into the fresh morning air, the sun beat down on Harry's neck, and for the first time he saw where he lived...
Past his grounds was a wasteland of destruction and death, there was nothing there at all. Just burned trees and brown dirt--like there had been an Armageddon everywhere but on Godric's Hollow. Harry grabbed tightly onto the feathers of the Hippogriff, and tugged it to the right, and up.
"Which way's Hogwarts?" He asked the creature beneath him, and suddenly the Hippogriff jerked around and flew in the opposite direction. "This way?" The Hippogriff kept it's blank expression, "All right then, I'm with whatever you thinks best, after all--I'm the one who can't recognize his best-friends when they're in front of his face..." Bitterness filled his voice, and the Hippogriff, looked at him carefully, detecting his mood.
"Sorry, but I'm having a bad retirement," Harry told the Hippogriff, who nodded in seeming agreement. Harry stopped talking after that, and concentrated on keeping his beard from flying into his face.
They flew for hours, and the Hippogriff led him on and on, going farther and farther north, The landscape never changed, it was still a wasteland... Would Hogwarts even be there? He wondered.
The night came upon him, and the full moon was out, lighting up the way. It was that same moonlight that helped him spot the graveyard. The Hippogriff flew down without Harry even telling it to.
He clambered off the creature, and walked to the gate of the graveyard, 'Hogwarts Memorial'. Harry gasped, and felt his heart ache, so it was true... Hogwarts was gone, and this was all that was left.
Harry didn't doubt he'd find his friends' graves here, this was probably why he chose to forget what had happened all those years ago, this could be what happened shortly after Voldemort's defeat...
He wandered through the graves, they were in alphabetical order, and all those who died that day were there. The first name he caught sight of, made him fall to his knees and stare dumbly.
'Sirius Black' that was all that was there, had Sirius' name been cleared? The thought made it through all the others strongly, his greatest wish when he was younger, was that Sirius would be proved innocent. It was a thought, still strong in his mind, even as he contemplated the death of the man that had been so close to being a father to him.
He read through his classmates names, with only thoughts of respect as he went, finally he came to Hermione's grave--no special words were on any of the graves, just her name staring up at him--she really was dead then.
More and more names--hundreds of names, Remus Lupin, the Patil twins, everyone he'd ever met in the Wizarding World seemed to be there... He came to the end of the line and felt his heart break.
Nine Weasley graves stood lined up close together, like the close family they'd once been. He found Ron and Ginny's graves beside each other and felt tears glisten his eyes, as more and more memories came to him. He touched Ginny's grave with a shaky hand--the graves were over a hundred years old, but they still held the sharp edges of freshly cut stone.
"Oh God...Oh God..." He gasped, it was such pain to see everyone he'd ever known, graves sitting there before his eyes. "I was the only one left..." He whispered, tears burned his eyes--and it proved, that even a grown man who'd lived a hundred years alone, could cry. Why? He wanted to know.
"Why am I still the only one left?" he asked aloud, anger mixed with uncontrollable grief.
He sighed heavily, and willed himself to look away from the graves; he looked across the graveyard and saw the largest grave there, and sat beside it and began pouring out his problems to the man he'd trusted so much in his youth.
"Professor Dumbledore, you once told me that help would come to those who ask for it," he said the stone, "Well I'm asking, but I don't seem to be getting any help." He leaned his head back against the cold surface, praying for a miracle. "I wish you were here to tell me what to do, like you could when I was young... I feel so old, how did you deal with it? And for that matter--this beard! I don't even remember growing it out... I just stopped paying attention to things like that, is that what you did?" Harry asked, not expecting an answer.
"I suppose the world died without me, Ron and Hermione probably came by to save me--but I had to remember who I was first, before I could die... Now I'll probably have to wait another hundred years to see them again." He croaked, "That would mean I wouldn't have seen you, Sirius--or Ginny for two hundred years..." Harry let out a desperate sound, he didn't want to live that long, never had, never would! "I'm sick of living!" He growled.
A thought occurred to Harry then, "Maybe I just have to remember everything I've forgotten... There could still be people I've forgotten..." Harry began checking off the people he remembered in his mind, "Mad-Eye Moody, the Dursleys... Quirrel... Even Hedwig and Crookshanks and Pig! That's everyone important isn't it?" He asked Dumbledore's grave, but it stayed as silent as ever. He thought through every Professor, and every classmate and how he knew them--what effect they'd had on his life (if any). It was quite a complicated mess really.
He remembered people he hated, like Wormtail, and Draco Malfoy. He thought about people he hardly knew--Arabella Figg and Mundungus Fletcher. He reminisced about his childhood, his muggle school classmates, and every Death Eater...
It seemed his memory was completely restored, but yet...He was still alive, and sitting in a graveyard, a setting most people would think lucky.
Harry heaved himself up, his old bones creaking, and walked back over to the Hippogriff, and did the process to climb onto the creature. "Let's go." He said, trying to keep the glumness out of his voice. He'd go back to Godric's Hollow and wait to die, he decided.
He accidentally fell asleep on the Hippogriff on the way home, and when he woke up--it was the middle of the afternoon, and they were directly over Godric's Hollow, "Stop! Stop!" Harry tried to tell the beast he rode, but it went on. "We missed our stop! Where are we--oh that's a good Hippogriff, land here...No, not in the--" They landed clumsily, and Harry held on tightly to the feathers and almost ripped some out, but he managed to stay on him/her, "Forest," he grunted, pushing himself off the wild beast, who quickly scampered off in a tantrum, and Harry waved it away grumpily.
He looked about him and took in his surroundings--there was an old house that was falling apart--it looked as old as Harry...and maybe it was. He stepped up to it, and examined what was written on the door. "The Potters."
Harry gawked at the sign, the house hardly looked like a place people would have wanted to live, the top floor was gone--like an explosion had taken it out...
A memory flashed across his mind, of green light and screaming.
Harry suddenly knew why the Hippogriff had brought him here; this was the last part to unlocking who he was. He put his hand on the door knob, and to his surprise it fell over with a bang, causing dust to stir up in clouds, making him sneeze.
Vines had attacked a few of the walls, and grass and leaves covered the floor, but he could tell what this place was...This was his home, once upon a memory...
Who were his parents? He knew of Lily and James--he recalled staring at pictures of them for hours and hours on end... but he didn't know them... Why? He questioned himself. Why am I alive when everyone else isn't? What makes me special? He demanded silently.
You are the boy-who-lived, a voice whispered in his mind.
"Yes... I am, aren't I?" And it was in Harry's accepting who he'd been and still was, that everything went dark.
"Harry? Harry! Are you awake?" A voice spoke, urgency within its tone.
Harry groaned, and shifted trying to get comfortable. The sounds of more panicked voices around him, was what finally made him decide to open his eyes, who was in Godric's Hollow at this time of night, those stupid Ministry folks no doubt--
Harry's eyes widened in horror and surprise, as he took in his surroundings, there around his bed was Hagrid, Sirius, Professor Lupin, all the Weasleys, Hermione and Albus Dumbledore. "Oh thank Merlin! I'm finally dead!" Harry said happily, sitting up and grinning at his friends, who stared at him nervously. He seemed to be in the Hospital Wing of Hogwarts, he noticed, but he didn't care--he was just glad that he wasn't alone anymore.
"I am dead... right?" Harry asked, his face falling, if this was another dream, he wasn't sure if he could survive it...Then it occurred to him, that that had been his intention in the first place.
"Oh Harry! What did they do to you?!" Ginny cried, throwing arms around him and bursting into sobs and Hermione and Molly were doing the same with their respective Weasley boyfriend--or husband, in Molly's case. Ron held on tightly to Hermione as she cried on his shoulder.
"They? They--Ah!" Harry hollered as he looked down at his chest, "My beard is gone!"
"Beard--Harry? Are you alright?" Sirius asked, with a weak smile on his face. His eyes were teary, and he seemed to be restraining himself from bear-hugging his Godson.
"I'm... I'm young again!" Harry rejoiced, and hugged Ginny back, burying his face in her hair.
"Oh Harry! You were never old," Lupin said, amusement in his voice. Walking over to Harry a grin on his face, he continued, "It's so good to have you back."
"Back?" Harry asked, his overwhelming happiness to see his friends again, draining slightly.
"You've been unconscious for a week, Harry," Albus Dumbledore spoke finally, "We thought we lost you for a moment..."
"What?" Harry asked sharply, Ginny finally sniffling and settling beside him on the bed.
"For one Harry, you aren't dead---now don't look so disappointed," Dumbledore said with a gentle smile on his face, "I'll let Hermione and Ron explain to you what exactly happened to you, and if you have any questions they can't answer--well, that's what I'm here for." Dumbledore left the room with a wink, and everyone followed suit except Ron and Hermione, after giving Harry either a hug or kiss on the cheek--or both in Molly and Ginny's cases.
Harry was feeling very disoriented at the moment and waited patiently for his friends to explain what had happened to him. Ron and Hermione took seats around him, "We thought we lost you--after we left you back there," Hermione said quietly.
"Yeah," Ron agreed solemnly, "We were all here--because we wanted to be with you when you... Erm...died."
"Oh?" Harry said dumbly, unable to think of something more intelligent to say.
"You remember everything now... Don't you, or else you wouldn't be here," Hermione stated, more than asked.
"Yes. Would you believe it took a graveyard and a Hippogriff to make me remember who I was?" Harry asked lightly, and Ron looked interested, but Hermione pressed on.
"Harry--do you remember fighting Voldemort--and killing him?" Hermione asked, apprehensively.
"Yes--right before you two died." Harry said unhappily, still thinking in his elderly life's mind.
"Well, we aren't dead Harry." Ron said confidently.
"You aren't?" Harry asked, a tinge of hope in his voice.
"No and neither are you--we're all alive in this world," Hermione said, a determined frown on her face. "Harry--well... Right before you killed Voldemort--do you know what happened?" Closing in on the main subject slowly.
"He threw an ineffective spell at me," Harry said carefully, not sure where this was going.
"Well... It wasn't exactly an ineffective spell, Harry," Ron told him, "It worked--very well," he added.
"What spell was it?" Harry asked, trying to grasp what they were telling him.
"It was a very complex spell, Harry... It took so long to take effect on you, that you were able to kill Voldemort first." Hermione explained, "We were watching you fight him across the field the whole time--Dumbledore was on his way over when we saw Voldemort fall to the ground...and right after you did too." she said shakily.
"Yes, I know, I know--then I came back and Snape told me you all had died." Harry said bluntly, trying to figure out what was going on here.
"We didn't die Harry," Ron repeated his point, getting rather exasperated, "After that, Dumbledore went to your side and picked you up--no wands involved, and carried you very quickly over to us, at that point--Voldemort's body--self destructed. Everything within twenty feet was blown to smithereens!"
"Really?" Harry said, finding that a somewhat remarkable picture to imagine.
"Uh huh, Dumbledore then examined you, thinking the worst and he seemed to know exactly what Voldemort had done to you," Hermione bit her lip, "We were so certain you were dead, Harry! It was awful!" Hermione whimpered, grabbing for his and Ron's hands.
Ron set his eyes on Harry, "It's true Harry, for those few seconds, we thought you were gone. You were so pale--blood all over and--," he choked off unable to say anymore.
"I'm sorry." Harry said, casting his eyes downward.
"Oh don't be sorry Harry! You wouldn't have gone unconscious had it not been for that last spell--curse I should say." Hermione said, finding her voice again. "The curse--it...It was a comatose spell--sort of, but not really at all--it's not like being in a coma in the Muggle World, it's much worse, from what I was told," Hermione said gravely, "Originally called the Dediscodidici Aevumin, the curse wipes away your memories, and sends your body into a comatose state, and your mind to another place completely. In this place of sorts, you continued living normally--but alone, because...You couldn't remember having friends or family...I was really curious about the Ministry officials you'd told us about--I think that was just something you created in your mind, though not-- "
"Whoa," Harry said, taking in this information. "So you're saying... I was basically--in this alternative universe where I had no contact with anyone, and just wandered around like someone with Alzheimer's disease?"
"More or less," Hermione said, nervously, "You would stay in that state, until you could remember who you were, there were hints--or more like glitches in the spell. Such as your Firebolt, and the fact that the Ministry of Magic still existed." She looked at Harry then with a thoughtful look on her features, "We were all very confident that you would figure things out for yourself...But time was wasting away and you showed no sign of improving."
Ron picked up with the story at that point, "After five days of you staying in that state our time-- because life was flying by like snitches where your mind was--Dumbledore explained that he could send two people 'into' your mind try and save you (obviously me and Hermione)---but we would only have one hour--and we couldn't reveal who we were or what had happened to you... Or else it would throw us back out of your mind or kill you..."
"That's a comforting thought..." Harry muttered under his breath, but it did explain why Hermione and Ron hadn't just told him what had been going on back in...that other place.
"When we saw how old you were--we knew the curse was almost used up--and the next step was--death. You had almost lived through your entire 'life' already, and if we didn't make you see who you were--you'd never figure it out."
"What do you mean?" Harry inquired, and Ron answered this time.
"What she means is, while in this other world you could live one life-- you lived it...Hm... regular there, but your true body was hardly aging at all here at Hogwarts, and if you died in the comatose world... Well, you'd die here as well, even if you were still seventeen," Ron said, looking proud to have explained it better then Hermione.
"Right," Hermione interrupted, "We couldn't bluntly tell you who you were--so we gave you as many hints as we could."
"Harry, you have no idea how much it hurts to have your best-friend in front of your face, and having him know your last name, and when he met you--even somewhat what you looked like--and still not know who you are," Ron said heavily, blinking hard to keep away the tears.
"I'm sorry 'bout that Ron--you have no idea how stupid I felt afterwards--when I realized who you two were." Harry said, giving Ron a brave smile.
"Good thing you did remember us, or I'd have knocked you upside that unconscious head!" Ron said, forcing a laugh, and he blew his hair out of his face. "Of course, you know--Dumbledore, Sirius--and definitely Ginny--were very pleased you knew them."
"I could never forget Ginny--" Harry said with a dreamy smile creeping over his face, then it turned serious once more," I never see things under my nose though, you guys know that!" Harry said, reassuringly.
"It's alright mate, don't mention it. You remembered us in time." Ron said.
"Wait a second....Why is it, while you were asking me all those questions--you were asking me things like 'Do you remember Sirius Black, Albus Dumbledore?' but at the same time you wouldn't tell me Ginny's last name? You made me remember it on my own." Harry said, looking to Ron and Hermione for answers.
"Well, it would have given who Ron was away--Dumbledore instructed us not to give hints to who we were precisely, and we thought we'd better avoid Ginny's last name..." Hermione said. "What--what did make you remember us anyway? How did you put all the clues together?" Hermione inquired her eyes full of curiosity.
"Hold your horses Hermione, we have one more part to explain, I'd say," Ron said, stopping Hermione's inquisitive mind.
"Yes, I'm very interested to know why I thought all of you were dead," Harry voiced.
"All of us?" Hermione asked curiously.
"Yeah--the day after you guys left me there, I woke up that morning--figured out who you were, jumped on a Hippogriff and flew across this wasteland to get to Hogwarts--and it was a graveyard." Harry said shortening the story up as much as possible, deciding he'd elaborate later, "And you were all there--do you know how much it scared me--to see all nine Weasley's graves?" Harry explained. "In my memories--you had all died, because while I'd been off killing Voldemort, Hogwarts had been attacked."
"Ah! You're on to something there Harry!" Hermione gushed out suddenly. "The last crucial part to remembering everything, was accepting the memories as they came, no matter how bad. Voldemort must have given you memories of us... dying so you wouldn't accept it as true, and continue to live in his world forever."
"Or, it could be that You-- Voldemort, thought that if Harry's so-called memories were terrible enough, that he wouldn't let himself remember." Ron offered.
"That could be true too," Hermione said pensively, "His subconscious would have pushed the memories away, to keep Harry in his perfect state of ignorance."
"Where did all of that come from though--how did Voldemort--give me memories?" Harry asked, feeling more disturbed by the second. He was taking it all in well, and at a fast pace, but he was having trouble grasping some of these intricate ideas...His old age feeling had gone away, but he still remembered living for a hundred years, and being alone day after day. And yet Hermione and Ron told him it had all been something like a very long nightmare.
"All part of the curse, it was very complex--and made up of ancient dark magic from thousands of years ago, from what I read up on in the library..." Hermione said, and Ron rolled his eyes impatiently, and took over the explaining once more.
"The curse was about to take your mind out of the' real' world at an exact time, and Voldemort, knowing what was going to happen to him, cast the curse and inserted his--fantasy of sorts into you," Ron said, while wildly gesturing with his hands, trying to help Harry understand, "You would get--no offense--knocked out right after his death and he just gave you 'memories' picking up right after that since it wasn't like you were going to know what happened past that anyway."
Harry thought about it for a few moments before saying, "You mean he knew I was going to defeat him, and made sure to time it so right after he died, I'd pass out from the curse, and would start a life in this 'dreamland' with his version of what should have happened after his death instead of what really happened?"
"Erm...Right." Ron said uncertainly.
Hermione gave Ron a look, before taking over the conversation again, "This is where it gets interesting too," Hermione looked absolutely pleased that she got to tell Harry this part, and Ron just looked irritated, "To give you the idea of just how powerful the curse really was--it was the curse that made Voldemort's body..."
"Blow up into smithereens?" Ron suggested, and Hermione nodded.
"Yes, it also gave you the final plunge into the new world, and it shook all memories of your friends and life with it. His last remaining energy was so set on sending you there that it just combusted!" Hermione said excitedly, Harry stared at Hermione a moment, before feeling a headache coming on.
"That makes sense." Harry said, then another question popped into his head, "Why was all of England a wasteland though?"
"Because Harry, it wasn't..." Hermione looked hesitant to say this. "Dumbledore has reason to believe, that the world you lived on in, was what Voldemort wanted the future to be--and in this case, he wanted to destroy the Muggle World completely. Why you lived on at Godric's Hollow--well, I guess it was to keep away suspicion--so you wouldn't guess the truth of your life..." Hermione told him.
"Or he may have just wanted me to live on alone forever..." Harry said dejectedly.
"Perhaps." Hermione said, squeezing his hand comfortingly, and Harry then noticed that Ron was staring intently at his and Hermione's hands.
"Jealous?" Harry smirked, finally feeling up to relaxing and getting used to the idea that he had lived a life-time as one person, and now had a chance to do it again--like a second chance at life.
"I'm not jealous," Ron griped, turning beet red--everywhere.
"Well, I'll say this then--I'm jealous." Hermione grinned widely as she noted Ron and Harry's hands, who instantly leapt away from each other, with looks of disgust on their faces.
Ron looked at Hermione for a moment, on his new spot at the foot of the bed, "Jealous of whom?"
Harry noticed then, that things weren't that different--he'd defeated the Dark Lord, survived yet another curse, and his friends had endured it all. It's not so bad, being the Boy-Who-Lived... Harry decided.
Hermione and Ron starting arguing again and Harry just smiled at them, contentment overwhelming him and so he leaned back into his pillow, and fell asleep and for the first time in what seemed like a century, without any miserable dreams to accompany his slumber…
After all, who could have miserable dreams, when all of the years past horrors…were only once upon a memory?
A/N Hmm...I hope to God that's the ending. It was really hard to write--Harry is just--hmm...Hard to write about! I'm not good at him, so I'll just stick to writing about his dad. :-p
IF YOU ARE CONFUSED: sorry. Here's some explanations though; for one--on what Harry knew and didn't--he kept his brains, mostly--it was like a selective memory of sorts...Yeah. He could assume a lot of things too...And that last bit they were talking back and forth between Harry's other life and the one that was real.
Tell me what you think, I've never tried for a fiction like *this* before and I know it was weird and messed up, but it just came to me and I *had* to write it.