Disclaimer: You know it, I know it… Harry Potter doesn't belong to some random kid over in Canada (ie, me), it belongs to a wonderful goddess of a person living over in Great Britain (ie, not me).
That was the first of the thoughts that came to me after I'd killed him. Or realized that I'd killed him. Who? Voldemort. The Dark Lord. You-Know-Who. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The-Bastard-Who-Ruined-My-Life. Whatever you want to call him.
Looking back, I'm actually quite surprised at how collected I seemed. I shouldn't have been. I should have been weeping, or even laughing, I guess… Perhaps striking some heroic pose; standing gallantly over Voldemort's crumpled corpse, the rising sun defining my silhouette. I did none of those things, on account of me being unconscious for a significant portion of time immediately after I'd "vanquished" the "evil". And it was cloudy, anyway … and about mid afternoon.
Why was I unconscious? Well, it was a better option than being dead, I suppose. Damn prophecy. Anyway, I think that a few minutes unconsciousness is a pretty small price to pay after fighting that war for over a decade (starting at the end of my fourth year), carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders for nine years of that time, fighting in every damn battle possible against the Death Eaters because it was expected of me, spending every spare moment researching (and putting to use) any spells that I could find just to keep me alive long enough to finally defeat Voldemort. I believe that animagus training and occlumency are directly responsible for my continued existence after Hogwarts; the former to hide me, the other to prevent me from being found.
The Daily Prophet called me the Boy-Who-Lived, and afterwards, they called me the Man-Who-Saved-Us-All. In between, they called me crazy, or heroic, depending on who was writing the articles, who was paying those who wrote the articles, what I had done recently to catch the attention of those who were paying those who wrote the articles, and any number of other influences I don't care to think about.
I wonder what they would call of me if I had failed. Probably the "Boy-Who-Screwed-Us-Over", or something equally witty. Wait; would there be a Daily Prophet to report anything, if the Death Eaters took over? Would they keep it open, to spread propaganda, or just create one of their own news sources (I can see it now: "Culinary Corpses Weekly"!). Oh, well. I only get the paper for the crossword puzzles nowadays, anyway.
Back to that day; so I wasn't standing heroically over Voldemort's body. I was, in fact, passed out from sheer physical/mental/magical/grammatical (I really don't think I'm ever quite in my right mind when contemplating this) exhaustion. I don't believe I slept more than a few hours during the whole week leading up to that final confrontation, and any sleep I did get wasn't exactly pleasant, as The-Bastard-Who-Ruined-My-Life took great pleasure in sending me visions of whatever nefarious deed he was currently doing (torturing muggles with dark spells, inventing new dark spells to use when torturing muggles, discussing with his Death Eaters about dark spells they had used when torturing muggles in the past, answering his fan mail from purebloods around the world, etc.) during inconvenient moments (for example, all the time).
The battle took place out on the moors outside the town of Godric's Hollow. Because of this setting, I have determined that the Irony Gods are ruling my life. It all ended where it all began! Wow! (Insert sarcastic vocal tone/facial expression/hand waving here, by the way). Hundreds of Death Eaters gathered on one side, and all remaining Order of the Phoenix Members, ministry Aurors, and miscellaneous witches and wizards from all over Europe on the other.
I remember looking out over the misty field, at the hundreds of black-cloaked figures. I remember looking up at the overcast sky above me, then at the ground, and wondering where earth ended and sky began. It was difficult to tell, as all was gray. Aside from the figures across from us, half hidden by the mist. They were all dressed in black.
I remember standing with Ron and Hermione at by side, Ginny and Neville and the pitiful remains of the DA at my back. There weren't many left, but more there were more than I had hoped. Luna and Cho Chang had died in the same battle, two years ago. They outlasted Justin, Denis, and Seamus by five years. Dumbledore was gone, too. Now that'd been a heavy blow. I hadn't seen Fawkes for months, and Remus was at St. Mungo's healing from the last battle and the latest full moons. I don't even want to think about Sirius.
I remember waiting. We were all waiting; all of us. Waiting in silence. Neither us, nor those across from us, seemed to want to make the first move. It was agony, the waiting.
And then, through the swirling mist, I saw him. Voldemort.
Voldemort began with his usual taunting, as he had every other time I've met him in battle. This was what, the thirtieth? fortieth? time I'd done so. I've lost count. Anyway, he was running through his script, "your mother was a foolish mudblood", "your father was a foolish muggle-lover", and "join me this time and I won't kill you". They didn't affect me anymore, as I had determined that they are all lies. No matter how many times he said them to me, they would still be lies. Now wouldn't that be something? Say something enough times and it becomes true? Well, I'd have started by saying "Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die! Die!" to Voldemort, every time we met.
…I've already sated that I'm almost never in my right mind recounting this stuff, you don't have to tell me again.
After the initial pleasantries, we got right to the duel. Ever since my fourth year, we've both been cautious enough in our aim not to invoke the Priori Incantatem again. There's no real point; he can't kill me with it, and I can't kill him with it, so it's anti-productive for both of us. I don't remember a whole lot of the rest of the duel; I remember hearing quite a few "Avada Kedavra"s and "Crucio"s from both sides, and I'm sure that there were many other random dark spells besides, and of course the constant underlying pain from my scar (that had grown steadily worse over the years from twinging occasionally to downright excruciating all of the bloody time), but other than that, it's all quite a blur to me (much to the disappointment of the Daily Prophet reporters and their readers afterwards). But I do remember the look on Voldemort's face when I struck the last blow. It wasn't quite surprise; it wasn't quite hate; it wasn't quite pain, but it was all of those things, I suppose.
What did I kill him with? A pistol, actually. A simple muggle gun. The one thing that he didn't anticipate. Clever, wasn't it? And ironic, too. The Dark Lord who hates all thing muggle is killed by a muggle weapon. … Damn Irony Gods.
I'm not normally a very good shot. But from half a meter away, you don't really have to be. Normally, I can't hit a bull's-eye to save my life.
But, if I used a bullet to kill Voldemort, and not some new and unheard of powerful magic spell, why did I pass out immediately afterwards? For a number of reasons, actually, not the least of which being sleep deprivation, hunger, and shock. Yes, Saint Potter, He-Who-Saved-Us-All, actually didn't expect to win, and keeled over from shock!
I don't know how long I was dead to the world. I didn't dream. No nightmares. When I woke up, I felt as if time had stopped while I slept. But from the silence around me, once I was aware enough to understand the silence, where once the furies of battle sounded, told me that time definitely hadn't stopped.
When I woke up, I saw gray. I was lying with my back to the ground, facing the sky. And I thought, 'It's over'. It was. The war. Lives. My purpose. Everything…. Aside from pain, of course, but for now, I didn't think of that. My scar didn't hurt anymore, and that was how I really knew he was gone. Stiffly, I had rolled up into a sitting position. My robes were sticky with mud, sweat, and blood.
Upon sitting up, my eyes immediately focused on the crumpled robes not two feet from where I sat. They were Voldemort's remains. One couldn't even call it a body. It certainly wasn't human. It had the appearance of an Egyptian mummy; it's pale skin leathery and dry, the facial features twisted, and its gaping eye sockets were empty. The malicious red eyes that had haunted my dreams were no more.
I almost didn't know what to make of it. I coolly registered the gaping hole in its chest.
After a minute (an hour?) of staring, I staggered away. I didn't know where I was going. I just knew I had to get away. From it. From the battle. From memories. From everything.
…. I did take great satisfaction in kicking the thing before I left, however.
I left the gun with it. I didn't need it anymore.
I tottered across the field, managing somehow not to trip over any of the corpses. I didn't look at their faces. I didn't want to see Ron's or Ginny's or Hermione's or Neville's or anyone else I knew's face lying down there, in the dirt, with the vaguely surprised look that Avada Kedavra gives you.
'I have to get away.' That was my next coherent thought. I didn't think that perhaps people were looking for me. I didn't register anything around me. There was only silence, and the infinite gray.
So, how do I get away? I could always apparate, but I'd prefer not to risk splinching myself. Besides, I didn't have a real destination in mind. That led right to the original question: how do I get away?
Simple. I flew.
Not on a broomstick; after one battle (how long ago was it, five? six? years ago?), my Firebolt… well, lets just say I haven't yet found a use for hundreds of tiny broomstick splinters. Aside from kindling, anyway, but I never had the heart to burn even the useless remains of the first present I ever got from my godfather. I never bothered to get a different broom.
So how did I fly, one might ask? My animagus form. It's a raven.
I know, I know, surprise, surprise. Everyone always seems to expect me to become a stag, like my father. Some told me, later, that they'd thought I'd have been a dragon, or a phoenix, despite the fact that no wizard has ever become a magical creature before. There people go again, expecting the impossible from me. I'd never become something so… flashy, for lack of a better word. So no, I didn't become a Sniget, or anything.
I was a raven. I am a raven. I guess it's symbolic, or something. In some cultures, they symbolize death. In Norse culture, they are Thought and Memory (Odin All-Father keeps the two ravens Huginn and Muninn). You can tell I looked this up, can't you? Well, I didn't, actually, but Hermione did. She was just wondering if ravens had some sort of magical power that even Dumbledore was unaware of that could be found by searching through every single book in the Hogwart's library. Yes, even she believed that my animagus form, too, had to be some sort of exception to the rule.
Still, this form suits me. Nobody notices ravens, when they sit quietly, in a tree in the woods, on a lamppost in the cities… They fit in. Usually. And if they get in trouble, they can simply fly away. Free from obligations.
Anyway… I don't know how long I flew. The sky grew darker, and on some subconscious level I recognized it as nightfall. The clouds remained, and no stars shined through their inky blackness. I drifted in the darkness, in the wind. An endless night. Ravens aren't night creatures; I couldn't see in the dark. I was simply swept along with the wind. The air was charged with something static. Thunder. There would be a thunderstorm soon.
After a while, the wind began to pick up. Soon after, I heard the whispery sound of hundreds of fluttering leaves. A forest. I glided downwards, my black feathers ruffling against the wind.
Not a moment after I entered the cover of the trees, it began to rain.
I landed on the ground with a small hop. I didn't disturb the layer of slightly damp, soon to be more than slightly damp leaves on the forest floor. As the first raindrops landed on my head, I changed back, and sank to the ground, leaning against a nearby tree for support.
Miserably, I closed my eyes as the rain began falling in earnest. Within seconds, my normally messy hair was plastered to my head. It was a healing rain, I suppose. It washed away some of the mud, sweat and blood that seemed to be a part of my very being. Of course, it also made my robes completely soaking wet with cold water, but for now, the rain was soothing.
I must have sat there for hours, in the rain. I was sheltered from the wind. I couldn't see anything at all, and all that could truly be heard was the sound of the storm, the steady beating sound of the falling rain, water filtering down through the trees. Thunder rumbled in the distance.
Perhaps I dozed off. In that light (or lack of) it was hard to tell whether or not I even had my eyes open or not. What I do remember is a pair of green, luminescent circles appearing in the darkness. Because they were at about… ankle-level, I suppose, and maybe because I was too exhausted to react, I didn't. I just watched as they came closer. I didn't move.
I did, however, nearly jump out of my skin when a small, wet vaguely fluffy thing pressed up against my left shin. Maybe I let out a yelp. It certainly wasn't a high-pitched, feminine shriek, no sir.
…Some heroic vanquisher of the Dark Lord I turned out to be.
That thing brushing up against my leg then made a very quiet, almost timid sound. After a split second, I recognized the sound, and that stayed the hand that was currently reaching for my wand (still in it's holster). I'd spent too many afternoons in Mrs. Figg's cabbage-smelling house not to remember what creature makes the sound "meow".
Slowly, I let my hand fall onto the worn handle of my wand (eleven inches, holly, phoenix feather core). I drew my wand, muttering a quiet "Lumos". Yes, it was a kitten pressing against my leg. It was black, or such a dark brown as to appear black when soaking wet and in the middle of a dark forest in the middle of the night. Its eyes were a deep, dark green.
Silvery streaks of rain were illuminated, briefly, as they passed straight down through the tree branches and through the soft circle of light from my wand. I stared down at the kitten; it stared up at me. It's eyes seemed impossibly large, their green depths reflecting flecks of light. They seemed even larger than they had any right to be under the circumstances; the kitten's fur was plastered down against its small body much in the same way as my hair was against my forehead.
Without so much as a by-your-leave, it then jumped up on top of my knees, curled up and began to purr.
I couldn't help it. A bubble of laughter tore up through my throat. The hand that wasn't holding my wand aloft automatically reached up to stroke it behind its ears (a spot I'd learned that cats loved to be scratched through quite a lot of practice at Mrs. Figg's).
Here I was, having just defeated the darkest, most evil wizard of my time, and where was I? I was in the middle of a forest, soaking wet, hungry, tired, lost, and petting a small cat that seemed to have appeared from thin air.
There is something hypnotic about a cat's purr. It is calming, soothing, comforting… I can't think of a way to describe it. But with that small kitten's purr rumbling up through my chest, I felt my little aches fade. I let a small smile tug at my lips. A warm feeling filled me. It took a moment for me to realize what it was.
It wasn't happiness, not by a long shot. It was more… the thought that happiness was possible.
At that moment, I wasn't the Boy-Who-Lived. I wasn't Saint Potter, the Vanquisher of Evil. I was just Harry, sitting under a tree, petting a kitten. Content with the thought that the world wasn't in any immediate peril, if I was thinking at all.
The rain stopped, the clouds cleared. The sun rose that morning, and it was a beautiful day.
A/N: You can tell I wrote the bulk of this at one-thirty in the morning, can't you? This fic started out as a way to stave off insomnia one evening. I ended up writing for… about two and a half hours, perhaps more. Anyway, I thought I'd just mention that the idea of Harry's animagus form being a raven wasn't originally mine (although I have given it a lot of thought). I drew inspiration from a picture of Bluefooted's, over on deviantart. If you want to see it, go to my bio, click on my own deviantart page (I have a link there), then go to my favorites. The picture's there… somewhere. And while you're there, check out some of her (his?) work. Awesome stuff.
... You know what I just realized? That this fic has no point what so ever. Meh.