Across The Time - Where It All Begins

"Avada Kedavra!"

"Expelliarmus!"

Fate had decided that those two words would be the last Voldemort would hear.

The Battle of Hogwarts was over. The Dark Lord was dead. It was a decisive win. All the surviving Death Eaters scattered into the wind with Aurors in hot pursuit behind them. Reports poured in from every quarter as the morning drew on. The fleeing Death Eaters were rounded up, the innocents were released from their prisons and they got a new, albeit temporary, Minister of Magic.

The celebratory mood was short-lived however once reality sets in. The survivors were busy picking up any remaining pieces of what they had left and mourning the dead. Fred Weasley, Colin Creevey, Nymphadora Tonks, and Remus Lupin were among the fifty who fell. Their body was placed right in the middle of the Great Hall away from the body of Tom Marvolo Riddle. Voldemort's body instead was moved into a small chamber right behind what used to be the High Table.

The result of the battle changed everyone's life in more ways than one.

And through the jubilation and mourning, the celebration and the grief, Harry Potter became the necessary part of it. They needed him to be there for them. They wanted him to see what his actions really meant for them. No one wanted to know how tired and how weary he was. No one wanted to know how he craved support from the one he loved. All they knew was that he had to keep on giving. It wouldn't matter to them if all he had left were skin and bones.

It was due to the courtesy of Luna Lovegood that he managed to make his escape.

It was within the headmaster's office that he received his final advice. It was within the headmaster's office that he got back his wand. And it was within the headmaster's office that everything came to a close.

"We better get back to the Great Hall, Harry," said Ron the moment they stepped out of the headmaster's office.

But Harry had another plan.

"You go ahead. You too, Hermione," Harry said.

"Harry, if there is something else you need doing or some other place you need to be, we're with you," said Hermione. "We're not going to leave you."

"She's right, Harry," said Ron. "So what is it, mate?"

Harry would expect that.

"I'm going to the Gryffindor Tower. I need some rest. It's been a while since the last time I slept. I missed my bed, to be honest. Now that Voldemort is dead, I'm looking forward to a dreamless sleep. I never got that as far as I could remember," said Harry.

Ron nodded in understanding.

"Alright, let's go," he said.

But Harry shook his head.

"No. You need to go back to the Great Hall. Both you and Hermione. They're going to need you, Ron. I'll be fine. I promise," said Harry.

"But-"

"No but. Please, Ron. You need to go. Your parents will be looking for the three of us. I won't be able to get any rest if I too go back to the Great Hall. At least you could explain to them," said Harry.

Ron however hesitated. He looked worried.

By this time, Hermione grabbed Ron's arm. She seemed to understand why the boy acted that way. Ron was worried about his best friend's safety.

"Harry's right. Let's go, Ron. We should let Harry get some rest," she said. "He is safe. Right now Hogwarts will be the last place any Death Eater will choose to hide." Turning to Harry, she spoke, "You look peaky. I would drag you to see Madam Pomfrey, you know me, but I agree you need rest and a lot of it. We'll catch up with you later. We'll bring you something to eat too."

Harry smiled.

"Thank you, Hermione," he said.

Hermione returned his smile. Still grabbing Ron's arm, she steered him away from Harry and they both made their journey back to the Great Hall.

Harry watched as both his friends disappeared behind the corner at the end of the corridor. He then turned around and began to walk.

But Gryffindor Tower wasn't where he was heading. He won't be able to enter the common room anyway. He didn't have the latest password though he was sure the Fat Lady would grant him access anyway. He killed one of the most dangerous dark wizards of all time after all.

He arrived at the Entrance Hall. He purposely chose a longer route just so that he could trick Ron and Hermione into thinking he was really going back to the tower. He needed utmost privacy for what he was planning to do.

His chosen route still brought him close to the Great Hall. He still met a few of the survivors but at least, he didn't meet any of the Weasleys. He glanced into the Great Hall, and saw the Weasleys congregating around Fred's body. Fleur Delacour was there as well, standing hand-in-hand with her husband.

The situation was quite chaotic inside the Great Hall. Everyone was busy managing their own affairs post-battle and this somehow offered Harry the chance to slip away without anyone noticing. He took that chance of course and soon through the low-hanging morning mist, he found himself walking along the damp path that lead towards the Black Lake.

There was one final thing that needed to be done. It was part of the reason why he couldn't let Ron and Hermione tag along. He needed to hide the Elder Wand and nobody can know where its final resting place would be. And he knew just where it would be.

Inside the white marble tomb just beside the lake.

A few months earlier, he saw a vision of Voldemort breaking into Dumbledore's tomb to steal the Elder Wand from its owner. The top cover of the sarcophagus was completely destroyed in the process. As expected, Voldemort never make any effort to repair the damage he did. He just took off after he got what he wanted.

The tomb now in front of him was in perfect condition. Someone must have repaired it, Harry concluded. If only he knew who repaired Dumbledore's tomb.

He stood there, pondering for a few minutes on whether or not he should break into the former headmaster's tomb. He knew it would be immoral for him to do that but at this point, the tomb would be the safest place to hide the most powerful and dangerous magical object ever. He wouldn't trust Hogwarts or even Gringotts. He broke into both establishments before. Both attempts required laborious effort but he did it anyway.

After a few minutes of contemplating, he made his decision.

Harry took out his wand.

"Please forgive me, professor," he said.

He muttered the incantation and with a single wand movement, the top cover of the tomb lifted. He guided the cover with his wand as it moved sideways, exposing the content within.

He leaned over to glance into the tomb, half expecting to see smoldering remains lying within the sarcophagus. What he saw surprised him though. Dumbledore's body was perfectly preserved with no sign of decomposition whatsoever. He looked a little bit pale though.

Anyone else would think Dumbledore was merely sleeping within his tomb for he looked so peaceful.

Harry took out the Elder Wand. He looked at it for a few short moments before carefully placing it within Dumbledore's resting hands.

Before closing the tomb cover, he decided to say a few words:-

"I don't know if you inside the portrait and you that lay in here are the same people but if you aren't, I just wanted you to know that we won," he began. "We did it, professor. We won. I wish you could see it."

Tears began to stream down his cheeks. Gathering whatever strength he got left, he continued, "Tom Riddle is no more. He's gone for good this time. But many people died, Professor. Fred, Tonks, Remus, Colin, Lavender... they all died. I wish they hadn't but..."

He very, nearly couldn't continue. There were so many things he wanted to say, so many things he wanted to confess but all of it remained stuck at his throat. Saying them was a lot more difficult than he initially thought.

"They were brave. The bravest I ever knew. You taught us well. You taught me well. You can rest easy now, professor," he said after taking a deep breath. "And thank you for everything."

That was all he could say.

With a swipe of his wand, the top cover of the tomb moved back into its initial position. He also took the initiative to magically seal the tomb. No one would be able to break into it. The secret shall be buried within its bowel forever.

He spent the next minutes standing in silent respect for the fallen headmaster.

A lot of things went through his mind at that point. He had fulfilled his purpose. There was nothing else needed to be done. He was finally free. And yet, he felt empty. He had no idea what was coming for him next. He spent the last many years looking behind his shoulder. Now he no longer needed to do that.

But where would he go from here?

Going back to the Dursley would be the thing of the past. He didn't have an inkling on where they were at that very moment or if they were still alive. He hoped so. He hoped they were still alive. Despite the many years of animosity between him and the Dursley, he bore no ill will towards them.

He was drowning deep within his thought when all of a sudden someone called out to him.

"'Arry?"

He turned around and was surprised to see Fleur standing behind him. He quickly looked away and hastily wiped away all the remaining tears from his face using the sleeve of his shirt.

However, from the look she threw at him, he had a hunch that she already saw those tears.

Fleur came up to him and gently placed a hand on his arm.

"What are you doing out 'ere all by yourself, 'Arry?" she asked softly.

He turned back to look at her. He saw her smiling kindly at him. Even with the multiple wounds that covered various parts of her body, she still looked captivating. Those wounds as a matter a fact began to heal themselves right in front of his eyes and they left no scars. This led him to question whether or not Fleur truly was only a quarter veela like she always claimed.

"Nothing," he replied. "I just want to be alone for a little while. By the way, how do you know that I'm here?"

"I saw you," came the reply. "Outside of zhe Great 'All. Ron and 'Ermione told everyone you 'ad gone back to zhe Gryffindor Tower to rest but instead, I saw you leaving. I was afraid zhat you are going to run away so I followed you."

"Did you tell anyone else?" asked Harry.

Fleur shook her head.

"No. I told zhem zhere's somezhing I need doing. I left immediately before zhey could say anyzhing."

"I see. I'm not running away, Fleur. I don't really have anywhere else to go."

"Please don't say zhat, 'Arry."

Harry went silent.

Turning her attention towards Dumbledore's tomb, she spoke, "You missed 'im, don't you 'Arry?"

Harry nodded.

"Yes. A lot as a matter a fact. He's part of the reason why I'm still alive."

"I see."

"I take it that you've been here for a while. You saw everything?" asked Harry. That was his main concern actually. He truly didn't want anyone else to find out the secret he dearly wanted to keep under wrap.

Fleur nodded.

"I saw and 'eard everyzhing," she said, her eyes remained transfixed to the tomb. "Zhat wand, iz it belongs to Dumbledore?"

Harry wondered if he should lie.

"Yes. I was borrowing it from him. Now that I no longer have any use of it, it's time for it to return to its original owner," said Harry, deciding to tell her the truth. Fleur had proven her worth to him. There was no reason for him to repay her with something that is untrue.

Fleur once again nodded.

And for the next few moments, they both stood silently, side by side.

"I know I never ask this but how is your family, Fleur?" asked Harry, deciding to break the silence.

"Zhey are safe back in France. Papa actually wanted me to return to zhem knowing zhat a civil war iz brewing. 'E even wanted to send people to fetch me but I flatly refused. I told 'im zhat my place iz beside Bill and zhat I won't ever leave 'im for I am 'is wife. What kind of wife am I if I leave my 'usband when 'e truly needs me by 'is side?" said Fleur.

"Your father is worried about you, Fleur," said Harry.

"I can take care of myself, 'Arry."

There wasn't any doubt about her statement. She had proven herself as an excellent fighter. It wasn't for nothing that the Goblet of Fire chose her to be one of the champions for the Triwizard Tournament.

Another silence.

"I saw you weeping. It broke my 'eart," said Fleur. Turning to Harry, she continued, "If you really don't 'ave anywhere else to go, you can come and stay wiz us at zhe Shell Cottage. Bill and I are more zhan happy to 'ave you wiz us."

Fleur's offer took Harry by surprise. While the matter of his place of residency during the summer holiday did cross his mind, not once he thought about staying with Fleur and Bill. It won't be appropriate.

"Thank you but I'm afraid I must decline," he said.

Fleur raised her eyebrows.

"Why not?" she asked.

"You and Bill are going to build a family, Fleur. I can't be in the middle of it," said Harry. "I don't want to be a nuisance."

"You won't be a nuisance, 'Arry," said Fleur a little bit firmly. "You saved us all and you saved Gabrielle. I do not forget."

Harry shook his head. This wasn't the first time Fleur brought up The Triwizard Tournament's Second Task that happened three years ago. She kept on acting as if she owed him big when in fact she owed him nothing.

"Gabrielle was never in any danger. You know that, don't you?" he reminded her.

"It iz true what you said but still you didn't leave 'er down zhere," said Fleur, nodding towards the Black Lake. "You could 'ave someone else, perhaps zhe official to get 'er out of zhe depth of the lake but you didn't do zhat. You could win but you decided to forfeit your winning when you treated Gabby as your own and zhat iz saying a lot. It may not matter much to you but it matters a lot to me."

"Still, it won't be right, Fleur."

By this time, Fleur looked very unhappy.

"Fine. It iz an open-ended invitation if you ever change your mind. You can come visit us anytime you want and I really 'ope you will. Anyway, 'ave you decided on where to stay for zhe summer?"

Harry paused at this.

"No, I haven't. I can't go back to the Dursley. I don't know where they are or if they are still alive. Not that I want to but still," said Harry. "I guess we'll just have to see. Something will come up I'm sure of it."

"I don't want you to go back to zhe Dursley. I 'eard stories. 'Orrible stories. I don't like zhem. If you don't want to stay wiz me and Bill, you can stay at zhe Burrow. I am sure zhey will be more zhan 'appy to 'ave you zhere," said Fleur firmly.

Harry glanced at the castle that loomed behind them. The Weasleys would still be in there somewhere. Turning back to Fleur, he said, "We'll see."

Fleur seemed to know what he was thinking though.

"Zhey are practically your family, 'Arry. Zhey will gladly 'ave you staying permanently wiz zhem. Ron will be very 'appy too. You don't want to stay wiz me and Bill, zhat iz fine but please consider my suggestion. At zhe very least, I will know where you are instead of 'aving to wonder about you staying out zhere somewhere all by yourself. I still want to see you," she said.

Harry just stared at Fleur. He knew that Ron and Hermione were loyal to him and so did Ginny but Fleur? Her level of devotion and loyalty was a little bit unusual.

Perhaps it was a veela thing.

It took a while but he finally nodded.

Fleur smiled satisfactorily. She took Harry's hand and said, "Let's go back to zhe castle. Zhey are probably waiting for you."

Harry nodded. He gave Dumbledore's tomb one last look before departing to the castle with Fleur.

But halfway there, Fleur suddenly let go of his hand and stopped dead on her track. Harry looked at her questioningly.

He then realized the reason why.

Up ahead, Ginny was walking towards them.

"I'll see you back at zhe castle, 'Arry," said Fleur. Without waiting for his reply, she immediately departed.

Harry watched as she walked towards Ginny. She gave Ginny a smile and a quick nod when she reached her. She then walked past the younger girl without saying a word.

Ginny failed to reply to Fleur's gestures. She just stood watching Fleur's receding back. It wasn't until Fleur climbed up the marble stairs that led into the Entrance Hall that she finally turned back to Harry.

She then walked up to him.

"What are you doing out here, Harry? Ron told us you were going back to the Gryffindor Tower," she said the moment she arrived.

"Had a change of mind," said Harry, smiling. "I went to see Dumbledore."

"With Fleur?"

There was a hint of jealousy buried deep within the tone of Ginny's voice. Harry noticed that. He shook his head.

"No. I was alone at the beginning. Fleur came to me much-much later. She was looking for me. She thought I went missing. We were just paying our respect. That is all," explained Harry.

"She told you that?" said Ginny. "I know something wasn't right after she left us but I couldn't put my finger on it. Then I remembered you didn't have the entrance password into the Tower. I was also thinking about keeping you company while you're resting. I was on my way there when I saw you both at Dumbledore's tomb." She then folded her arms to her chest. Her eyebrows creased. "You were standing a little bit too close to her, Harry."

Harry chuckled. He reached out, took both Ginny's hands into his, and began caressing them. Looking deep into her eyes, he spoke, "I have my eyes only on you, you know that, right? And Fleur, she already has Bill. The way I see it, she's head over heels in love with him. She won't be looking at any other man anytime soon. Besides she's older than me. I'm not her type and she's not my type either no matter how pretty she is, you can count on that."

What Harry said somehow brought a smile to Ginny's face.

"Thank you for saying that, Harry," she said, smiling.

"Well, if you must know, she invited me to stay at Shell Cottage for the summer."

"I fully expect that you said no."

"Of course I said no. I told her I'm not getting in their way. She and Bill are still newlywed. I'm going to need my beauty sleep. I don't want to wake up in the middle of the night to the sound of the headboard thumping against the wall, you know," said Harry deadpanned.

Ginny laughed hard at this. She playfully slapped Harry on his shoulder. "Mr. Potter, because of that you're going to need a complete memory wipe," she said, still laughing.

Harry too began to laugh. It felt good for him. It gave him hope that despite everything that happened, laughter still exists, that everything would turn out better in the end.

They both continued to laugh.

"We really need to go back, Harry," said Ginny, wiping her tears of happiness from her cheeks. "Mom and dad would be worried."

Harry paused at that.

"Can we stay out here a little bit longer?" he asked.

Ginny stared at Harry. She noticed the anguished look returning to Harry's face and immediately became concerned.

"Of course, Harry," she said. "We can stay."

Without another word, Harry took her hand and they both walked towards the lake. They sat on one of the rocky outcrops that littered the bank of the lake. They spoke nothing at first. Instead, with their fingers intertwined, they spent the first few moments taking in the surrounding.

The sun shone softly on them that morning. From afar, they could several flocks of migratory birds diving into the lake. It was a beautiful scenery.

"I'm sorry, Ginny," Harry began. "I truly am sorry."

Ginny cast a sideways look at him.

"For what?" she asked.

"Fred," said Harry. "I never wanted him or any other to die. I-"

But Ginny cut him off before he could continue, "All of these wasn't your fault, Harry." She then reached up and touched his cheek. "Look at me."

Harry obliged. Their eyes met.

"You-Know-Who was the one to blame," she continued. "Not you. If you haven't done what you did, lots more will die. It could be Bill. It could be Mom or Dad. It could even be me. You prevented the inevitable. You end the war and because of it, a lot more people could live."

"But things would no longer be the same especially for you and your family," stated Harry.

"You're right. Things will never be the same," agreed Ginny. "We just have to accept changes no matter how much we want to avoid it."

"But can your parents accept it?"

Ginny pondered for a moment. "Mom and Dad could probably accept the loss of one of their sons. I'm however, not sure about George to be honest. I don't know how he's going to take it. They're inseparable right from birth, you know. I guess we'll just have to see what will happen but I know my brother is strong. I hope he will remain as such. We are going to do our best to cope with the situation, Harry. We are going to give George whatever support he needs for him to get through. I think we will be able to heal eventually."

"I hope for that too. We all hope for that," said Harry.

"Look into the bright side, Harry," said Ginny, suddenly smiling. "The fight is over. You won. There won't be anyone else to fight with. As a matter a fact, I don't want you to fight anymore. I want you to build your life from here. We both could build our life. Together. No more fighting. No more war."

Harry went silent at this.

They both returned to the castle half an hour later. Along the way, Ginny told him that her parents had decided that Harry should no longer have to go back to Surrey. They wanted him to make the Burrow his forever home. Ron, Percy, Hermione, Bill, Fleur, and George all gave their support to that idea.

Harry of course gladly accepted it.

One thought remained inside his head though. As they continued to walk, he thought about what Ginny said about him no longer having to fight. He glanced at the redhead.

He had a gnawing feeling that it may not be over yet. For him.

To be continued...

A/n: So I'm bringing back this story and this time, for good. Updates will be slow though as my main priority would still be TDWFL.

There will be major changes to the story in term of storytelling, characters development and the tone. This will include closing various plot holes that seems to litter the previous version of the story.

Be warn though, the angsty aspect of the previous story remains in one form or another so if you hate angst, it's best that you guys stay clear of this story.