After the Fall
by Jedi(insert underscore here I hate FFN formatting restrictions)Amara
Author's Note: This is my first Harry Potter fanfic; I usually restrict myself to the Pokémon fandom, but since reading Lightning on the Wave's excellent Sacrifices Arc, I was inspired to write my own HP fic. If you haven't read her fics yet, you're doing yourself a disservice; go to username lightningonthewave and read them NOW. This fic is also one of my first efforts to write a full-length fanfic, as I'm a one-shot specialist; in fact, I'd planned to have this a series of one-shots from different points of view, but thought it might work better as a cohesive whole. My background is best demonstrated in the chapter lengths, which are likely quite a bit shorter than what one would normally see in a full-length fanfic. Gah. And as I can't capture J.K. Rowling's voice, I write in my own style; hence the narration is rather OOC, and the characters are probably fairly OOC as well. x.x
Harry Potter is not my favourite series of books, but it lends itself well to fanfiction and its author is not against fanfiction.
I was planning to use a lightning bolt as my separator, but I phail at ASCII art.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own the Harry Potter concept, series or characters.
RATING: I've placed a "T" rating on this fic for themes, possible violence and language. I don't think it will go beyond that; I'm not even sure if it'll go up to that. (Your US ratings system is a little different to ours in Australia, and I don't quite understand it yet x.x.)
APPROXIMATE SETTING: Just after the fall of Lord Voldemort. Post-HBP, post-canon, post-Harry. After leaving school, Harry, Ron and Hermione tracked down the remaining Horcruxes, destroyed them and went to confront Lord Voldemort. Harry did battle with the Dark Lord and killed him, but was lost to the wizarding world in the process. The aftermath is discussed from a number of POVs; one you certainly won't have is Harry himself, being dead.
PAIRINGS: RonxHermione, HarryxGinny, some DracoxHarry.
NOTE ON SPELLING: I'm Australian. I use Australian/English spellings not US spellings. If that bugs you, sorry. I'm not changing them.
DEDICATION: This chapter is dedicated to JKaizer, who forced me to read HP fanfics and basically did everything else for me, too. He's also the only person I know will read this chapter. (less-than sign here)3 ya Gweggy!
I promise my other author's notes won't be as long as these were. Call this an "initialisation pass", if you like. I combined the introduction and first chapter into one page, as they're short. Mmm, so here comes the story...
What Came Before
It was a year, now, since Albus Dumbledore had died, killed by the two-timing Death Eater Severus Snape. It didn't feel like a year. Hermione Granger sighed as she looked at the photograph in her hands. Three smiling faces looked out of it - Ron's, her own, and between them with a shy grin on his face, Harry.
She missed Harry, but had already accepted the fact that he wasn't coming back. That he couldn't come back. She had seen him die, and been the second person to hold his dead body. She hadn't wanted to touch the other one.
The preceding year had been one of the best years of her life. Darkest, certainly, but also the lightest. She had never felt so able to reach out to her friends whenever she needed them. They'd always been close, but they had become more of a unit than ever during the search for the Horcruxes, and now one of them was gone.
Harry was gone.
Hermione had never managed to find out who R.A.B. was. She could only conclude that it had been an assumed name, as her forays through the annals of wizarding history had never turned up anyone with a connection to Voldemort. Hermione had never had time to complete her search before Voldemort had tracked them down and confronted them. Harry had had no choice.
She could only hope that R.A.B., whoever he or she was, had managed to destroy the Horcrux.
The letter came in the morning post.
Petunia Dursley shuddered slightly as she bent to pick it up from the doormat. She noticed the lack of a stamp in the corner, recognised the green ink on the front. She couldn't think - didn't want to think - why they would send a letter here, of all places. Surely the boy had notified them when he'd left the house for good? It had been almost a year. They should have been able to track him with their... abnormality.
She lifted the envelope gingerly between two fingers, and gasped as she read the name on the front.
Mrs. Petunia Dursley
4 Privet Drive
Little Whinging, Surrey
It was only then that she realised something might be wrong.
Petunia flipped the envelope over and stared at it for a long moment, before slipping her index finger under the flap and tearing it open. Neatly. She started to draw the heavy parchment from the envelope, then thought better of it, moving back to the kitchen and sitting down. Taking the page from its covering, she opened it.
July 9, 1998
Dear Mrs. Dursley,
We regret to inform you, as next of kin, that your nephew Mr. Harry Potter has passed away. I am sure this will come as unwelcome news, but assure you that he died a hero, fighting He Who Must Not Be Named in defence of the wizarding world. I wish to offer a Ministry of Magic-funded funeral for the deceased.
Minister for Magic
Petunia sat for a moment, motionless. She didn't know how to react to the news.
Vernon Dursley entered the house with his customary door-slam.
how about that, eh Petunia?" he boomed jovially, striding into
the kitchen. "Best deal I've done in months, the Masons want us
to fit out their whole - Petunia?" It was only then that he
noticed his wife sitting, pale-faced, at the kitchen table, a piece
of paper lying in front of her. She held it out to him, wordlessly.
He took it and scanned it, then looked at her.
"Looks like we're rid of that ungrateful git at last!" he said, breaking into a grin. "Let's break out the champagne, shall we? Call Dudders in to tell him the good news?"
"No," said Petunia, bleakly.
"Petunia - surely you're not... disappointed by this? We've been wanting to be rid of him for years! Perhaps now his people won't be bothering us anymore."
Petunia shook her head. "I know, but... he was Lily's son."
Vernon turned purple. "That good-for-nothing sister of yours means nothing, and nor does her son! What would the neighbours say if they heard you talking about them? I thought we were trying to deny her existence!"
shakily, putting out a hand to brace herself on the table.
"She was my sister. He was her son. Now they're gone."
Rufus Scrimgeour paced back and forth. He couldn't seem to stand still nowadays, though he knew that He Who Must Not Be Named had been vanquished at last.
Vanquished by the Boy Who Lived, who had turned out to be the Chosen One after all.
Rufus had never liked Harry Potter, even when he was still head of the Aurors and had heard glowing reports of the boy from Kingsley Shacklebolt and Nymphadora Tonks. Potter had been mired in controversy and far too independent for his own good. Rufus would have liked to have brought him to task on more than one occasion, but by the time he was no longer under Dumbledore's protection he was too strong to be handled comfortably. Rufus was loath to admit it, but he had been afraid of the boy.
Fear was no longer the problem. Potter was dead. Nothing could reverse that. At least, he didn't think that anything could reverse it.
That morning, Rufus had sent an owl to Potter's aunt, his eldest living blood relative. There were only two with the blood of Lily Evans in their veins now. The owl had been timed to arrive with the Muggle post; Petunia Dursley would have received it by now. He wondered idly how she had reacted, and then realised, in shock, that he had not given her a way to reply to his offer. The offer he had not wanted to make, but that had been expected of him.
About to call Percy Weasley and instruct him to send another owl to the Dursleys', Rufus hesitated. A white flash had passed the window, and now it returned. A large snowy owl hovered just outside the glass, the sheet of paper in its beak stopping it from tapping for entry. Rufus stepped over to the window and loosed the catch, taking the letter from the owl's beak. It perched itself on the windowsill and cocked its head to one side. The note contained only two words:
Rufus looked at the bird, and remembered that Potter had owned a snowy owl.
Ronald Weasley plonked himself down on the battered couch and stared mournfully at the tear-stained face opposite him. He shouldn't intrude on her grief, he supposed, but Harry had been his friend too. They'd shared a somewhat different relationship, though. Ron had been there at the last. He'd seen Harry fall as You-Know-Who collapsed to the ground; he'd been the first to rush over to where two crumpled shapes lay facing each other. He'd been the first person to take Harry's hand and feel the life rushing away.
Ginny hadn't had even that. While Harry was fighting the battle of his life - the battle, ultimately, of his death - she had been safe at Hogwarts, prevented from joining them by the anti-Apparition wards. She had felt it when he fell, and the only person who was there to comfort her was Luna. Ron hadn't known that Harry had linked himself to Ginny; Hermione had told him later. Harry had not wanted to do anything that could hurt the younger girl, but Ginny had insisted, and Harry had loved her too much to refuse.
Hermione stood in the doorway, looking worried. While she had always been welcome at The Burrow, it was still the Weasley family home, and she wasn't sure if she should invade what seemed to be the shared sorrow of a brother and sister. Ron looked up at her, and jerked his head. She came to sit by him, slipping her hand silently into his. They watched Ginny quietly, for a few minutes, before Ron snapped. He jumped up.
you haven't eaten for three days!"
"I can't," muttered Ginny, hiding her face in her hands. "You know I can't."
Hermione reached out to her friend. "Ginny, Harry wouldn't have wanted you to be like this. You know that," she said softly, touching Ginny's arm. Ginny pulled away.
"It's different for you! You were there! You saw it!"
Ron threw up his hands. "You make it sound like it was fun for us. It wasn't. We saw him die."
Ginny took her hands from her face and looked into his eyes, her glare cold as steel.
"And I felt him die, and it felt like I was being torn apart, and I couldn't go to him. I loved him. You'll never understand how I felt."
from the room. Ron turned to Hermione.
"Well, at least she's moved for the first time in... days," he said helplessly. Hermione looked at him.
"Honestly, Ron, sometimes you are such an insensitive git!" said Hermione angrily, before following Ginny. Ron flopped back onto the couch, reflecting that he would never understand girls.