Author: The Wanlorn
Title: Apocalypse Return 1/?
Summary: It's all over. But there's a surprise in it for Harry.
Spoilers: Definitely The Death. I mean, that's what spurred the whole thing.
Pairing: Ron/Hermione, Harry/Ginny
Distribution: Anywhere, just ask first, okay?
Disclaimer: Everyone and all the places belong to JK Rowling. The plot belongs to me. No money is being made off of this. It's purely because I enjoy doing useless things that will never get me any cash.
Thank Yous: Thank you Lexi for beta'ing. I heart the way you edit my stuff!!! :-P Thanks to April for giving it a second once-over. :-D I heart you both!!! Many thanks!
Author's Note: I stayed up all night to finish the book, then I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed, trying to remind myself that he was probably going to pull a Gandalf and that he's not real, anyway. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried like a baby!
It was over. The nightmare was finally over. Lord Voldemort's body lay on the ground, Harry unsteadily wavering over him. His last thought before he crumpled to the ground, unconscious and near death, was that it had cost too much.
When Harry woke up, he was lying in a bed. The curtain that obscured his view of the rest of the room left him to assume he was in St. Mungo's. Vaguely, he wondered what floor he was on. The thought didn't stick in his mind, though. It faded quickly as he listlessly stared at the ceiling. He wasn't sure how long he had been unconscious, nor did he really care.
Voldemort was dead. Undoubtedly, there would be various raucous parties going on across the wizard world, celebrating the final demise of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. It was for real this time. Harry *knew* it was, the same way he knew when Arthur Weasley was attacked two years ago, the same way he always knew anything about Voldemort. Yes, everyone would be celebrating.
But not Harry. Of course, the price *he* had to pay, the price everyone did, was not too great. It could never be. Even if Harry were the last person on Earth right now, it would be fine. But oh, it was high. All the galleons in Gringotts couldn't cover the cost of the loss of life.
Cedric had been the first. The first casualty of the great war. Then Sirius. The only one Harry could call family. At that time, he thought he would rather be dead. If only he had known.
Just as he was beginning to become closer to Harry, becoming the father he had lost twice, Lupin followed Sirius to the grave. The Weasley family showed a remarkable ability to get out of all the scrapes they got into. But all good luck comes to an end, and George succumbed to the endless sleep.
Never would Harry forget seeing Neville murdered right in front of him, a giant throwing the clumsy student headfirst into a tree, Harry's protective spell seconds too late to save him.
In this last epic battle, as was to be expected, more lives had been lost, lives of people he knew. Snape, with whom he had been getting along with slightly more, had been the first to fall. Moody… Tonks… Hagrid. Handfuls of students from Hogwarts.
Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione. The last he had seen, before following Voldemort on a wild, violent chase, the three of them were alive. His two best friends and his mentor. That might not be true anymore, though. Ron had been badly hurt, Hermione no less so. If it hadn't been for Dumbledore following, Harry never would have been able to defeat Lord Voldemort. But there had been a price to pay for that, too.
Maybe he was the only one left. A lonesome hero, who didn't deserve it. There had been far too many mistakes made by him, too many deaths rested solely on *his* poor judgment. No, he was *no* hero.
He woke up again, roused by the sound of the curtains around his bed rustling. Someone was coming in; just a nurse. He barley spared her a glance. The terrible sorrow for all those no longer traversing the living earth was all consuming.
"Welcome back to the conscious world, Mr. Potter." The nurse's brisk voice barely registered. "Do you feel up to talking to anyone right now?"
Harry didn't answer. How could he feel like talking to anyone? Ever? The question was ludicrous. The nurse seemed to understand; she left quickly without saying a word a few moments later. But Harry could still hear her, talking to someone just outside of the enclosing white. Everything was white. White and pure, not a hint of death. None of the blood on his hands marred the surroundings, the pristine white. But he could see it. Everyone he cared about, strangers, Muggles, the Enemy… It covered him.
"Perhaps what I have to say will make him more responsive." That was Dumbledore's voice. Make whom more responsive?
"I'm sorry Professor Dumbledore. Maybe tomorrow…"
Harry didn't hear the rest of the conversation, nor was he interested. Instead, he fell back into the death-like slumber, deep enough to escape the dreams and nightmares.
The light of the enchanted candles bounced off of the white surrounding him, the harsh glare hurting his eyes as he blinked them open. These fits of consciousness were becoming annoying. Why couldn't he just stay asleep? *Why*?
There had to be a reason for this infernal light. He allowed his head to roll to the side. Ah, yes. Somebody was sitting there. Long white beard, silver hair carefully combed… Dumbledore. Harry wished everyone would just leave him alone. Two people were far more than he wanted to see.
"Harry." Dumbledore spoke quietly. "How are you feeling?"
He wasn't sure hwy he bothered, but he tested out his voice. "How do you *think* I'm feeling?"
"Understandable," Dumbledore replied calmly to the scathing, raspy voice. "Ron and Hermione send their regrets that they couldn't be here when you woke up."
"They're alive?" Harry asked, slightly more interested in what Dumbledore had to say. He had assumed them to have died. "Where are they?"
"At their respective homes. I'm sure you understand – their parents are a bit reluctant to let them out of sight. With good reason. There are still quite a few Death Eaters around. The Weasleys are dropping by tomorrow and probably bringing Hermione with them."
Harry had no response for that. *They* all had families who cared about them. He had lost everyone who fit the description, except for perhaps Dumbledore. And *maybe* Mrs. Weasley still viewed him as one of her own children, but that was a big maybe. And if she did, where was she? How many times had he almost gotten a member of that family killed? Too many to count.
Seeing that Harry wasn't going to speak again, Dumbledore continued. "Harry… Just before you killed Voldemort, we – the remaining members of the Order – discovered something about him and what he was doing.
"About how he came back and grew in power."
It provoked little, if any reaction from Harry, so Dumbledore continued.
"Voldemort had to have a source of life in order to continue to live. Through the many years of his original bid for power, the top Death Eaters in the world worked and researched together. They searched for a way, should the inevitable happen, to bring Lord Voldemort back and give him chance after chance after chance at success. Provided, of course, it was not you who defeated him."
Dumbledore paused in the telling, trying to determine if Harry had any inkling as to what was to come. The young man was staring at the ceiling, however, his eyes glazed. Dumbledore couldn't even be sure if he was listening.
"And they discovered what they were looking for. Minutes before Lord Voldemort murdered your parents, they enacted the spell."
"Why do I care?" Harry interrupted, his voice lifeless. Darkness couldn't claim him with this voice buzzing incessantly.
"When someone was murdered by either him or one of his followers, the essence of that person was taken and used to power him. Their bodies went along with them and were stored in a massive underground chamber, replaced here by remarkably realistic simulacrums.
"They didn't count on Voldemort being defeated by you in a final battle. At the moment of his death, every essence he had taken and used was released back into its body."
It took a moment for that to register on Harry's brain. "What do you mean?" he asked. Before he got his hopes up that Lupin, George, Hagrid… That they were all alive once more, he had to make sure that Dumbledore actually meant what he was alluding to.
"I mean that all of the dead on our side since Voldemort returned are no longer dead."
For an instant, Harry met his eyes. But the he returned to staring at the ceiling. "It's not possible."
Dumbledore laughed gently. "Anything is possible, Harry. Come, get up out of that bed and I will show you."
There was a marked lack of enthusiasm as Harry dragged himself out of the hospital bed. Fine. Maybe all of the people murdered were back. But he still mourned the death of the person closest to him since his parents died. Sirius had fallen through the veil; he hadn't been murdered. Nothing would bring his godfather back.
His legs were shaky as he stood up, so Dumbledore grabbed his shoulder to help steady him. There was surprising strength in the old man.
"How long have I been out?" Harry asked perfunctionally.
"Only a month," Dumbledore replied before pulling back the curtain around the bed.
~~End Chapter One~~