Chapter One – The End of the World
Disclaimer: Nothing from J.K. Rowling's books belongs to me, including, but not limited to characters, settings, plot, and spells. If I ever claim them, may I be Avada Kedavra-ed until I am dead.
The ruins stood as a testament to all of what awaited anyone who dared scorn the will of the Dark Lord. Visible to Muggle and wizard alike, the remains of what had once been the premiere institute of learning in the Wizarding World would endure for all time, protected from the elements, attack or reconstruction by an impenetrable globe of pure magic, created by the Dark Lord himself.
Inside the castle, all was quiet. The magic stairs, moving portraits, and enchanted ceiling in the Great Hall had been stilled. Only the most fundamental enchantments remained, those anchored in the rock of the castle by the Founders themselves, preventing the collapse of the rooms and ensuring at least the survival, if not necessarily comfort, of anyone in the most dire of need.
A rustle sounded through the dead halls. The school's last student was awakening, finally revived by youthful health from the abuse her body had taken during the Final Battle.
The girl's hand twitched, stretching out unconsciously for her fallen wand. Her searching fingers brushed the wood, then grasped it. She opened her eyes.
The scream echoed infinitely, forevermore audible to one who takes the time to stand silently for a moment with their ear close to the stone.
Hermione Granger screamed, oblivious to the protest of her parched throat. Facing her was the corpse of Neville Longbottom. He had been hit by a curse that sliced from his left ear to under his right arm. Part of his jaw had been severed and now lay upon the stone floor, connected only by a flap of skin from his neck, and the bone of his ribcage was visible through the torn flesh left by the curse, dark with clotted blood.
Some part of Hermione's brain compared the severed jaw to models she had seen in her parents' dental practice. Neville had needed braces and should have had his wisdom teeth extracted.
Hermione closed her eyes and rolled away from the horrific visage of her schoolmate. She lay motionless, then heaved. Her body attempted to rid itself of the poison it had ingested, not able to differentiate between poison of the body and poison of the psyche.
She knew the war was over. The dead had not been buried and the Light had lost. She only wondered why she, the most famous Mudblood in the Wizarding World, was still alive. The nausea did not completely pass, but once her stomach had calmed, she opened her eyes once again. Scrabbling to her feet, she looked around the hall. For a moment, she was unable to comprehend the sheer number of dead students, teachers and Order members. One by one, she picked out her former professors and classmates from the corpses as she walked across the room. Then she stopped. Black hair tousled, glasses akimbo, glassy green eyes staring at the ceiling, Harry Potter was dead. His wand lay broken beside him, the strands of the red phoenix feather limp with his blood.
The world went black.
Hermione opened her eyes once more. Harry Potter was dead. There was no one left to fight. There was only her, Hermione Granger, alone in the ruins of the Last Battle.
Hermione soon learned that she could not leave Hogwarts. She sat in the Great Hall, looking over the destruction left in Voldemort's wake. Ignorant of whether it was day or night, she grieved, sometimes silently, sometimes shrieking as though her screams would wake the dead sleeping on the ground.
Finally, she stood again and squared her shoulders. She began going to each corpse. She removed their wands and sometimes a few personal effects and conjured a note giving the name of their owner. When she was finished and had placed everything in a nearly classroom, she began the more difficult self-imposed task.
Tears running down her face silently, she began. Blue flames consumed the bodies. Hours later, the last flame went out.
"Evanesco," Hermione murmured brokenly. The ashes disappeared. She sunk to the floor.
A green light rushed toward Harry.
"Harry, watch out!" Hermione screamed.
He fell, half turned to her.
"Ah, the Chosen One's pet Mudblood," a sibilant voice said.
Hermione looked up from Harry's fallen form into red eyes.
Hermione woke up, soaked with sweat. She looked around the hall, taking in the silence and emptiness around her.
There was nothing else to be done, and she could not sleep any longer.
She left the Great Hall, planning never to re-enter it.
One month later found Hermione still trapped inside the castle. She had lost considerable weight, in spite of the vast supply of food in the kitchens, and rarely slept more than a few hours at a time.
She spent most of her time in the library. The same as it had always been, she could almost believe that Madam Pince would materialize around the corner, watching for any mistreatment of the treasures of her domain.
However, Hermione was not the same as she had always been. She went straight to the Restricted Section, filling her mind with the knowledge that had been forbidden. She read incessantly, desperately.
Yet another month later, Hermione had read everything of interest in the Restricted Section. Her hair had lost its characteristic bushiness and hung like a curtain in limp spirals around her face. Her face was shadowed and gaunt, and her hands had begun to look skeletal.
She had taken to wandering the halls of Hogwarts like a wraith, exploring every room, though never entering the Great Hall. Finally, she stood in front of the last room that she knew of.
The stairs began to spiral upward as Hermione named one of her first experiences with magical candy. She entered Dumbledore's office.
The magical devices were still spinning and the faint scent of lemon drops wafted from a crystal bowl on the cluttered desk. The portraits snored in their frames, unaware or uncaring of the lifelessness of their home. Hermione saw a door in the back of the office that she had never seen before. She turned the doorknob and entered the room. It appeared to be Dumbledore's private suite. She assumed that his death had destroyed the wards on the door.
The rooms looked nothing like what one would expect of debatably the world's most powerful wizard. They were fairly plain, comfort clearly more important than impressiveness. But even odder than the contrast to expectations was the completely bare back wall, unobstructed by furniture or decor except for a stone doorway, covered with runes.
It looked familiar.
The last month of summer passed. School would have been starting any day. Hermione had spent the past month studying more intensely than she would have even if she had been preparing for her N.E.W.T.s. She had been right. She had seen the archway before in a little musty volume she had found behind a book on chimeric Animages. It was called the Portal of Thwarted Fate. There was not much information on the doorway, except a theoretical explanation of how one might use it and a very general description of what it might do. The unknown author suggested that it could send someone into the unknown, defying the path lain out for them and creating a new destiny irrespective of their original circumstances.
It did not take Hermione long to decide to attempt the ritual. According to the book, she should need only to read the spell written in runes on the arch correctly and be completely single-minded about her decision. There was one detail about which she was slightly concerned, that the caster be garbed by death, but she refused to believe that it could be anything other than metaphorical. And if that were the case, she had seen and caused more than enough death to be adequately garbed.
Around the beginning of September, Hermione was ready to attempt her journey. She gathered a few things that she thought might be useful, money she had found in the dormitories, the book instructing her about the portal, a few other rare volumes, a plain change of robes and a single personal item, Harry's Invisibility Cloak.
She stood in front of the portal with her bag on her shoulder and chanted the spell. Nothing happened. Refusing to accept defeat, she looked through her notes again. Changing her pronunciation of one of the more obscure runes, she tried again.
A white mist fluttered in the portal, moved by a nonexistent breeze, before disappearing into the black abyss created by the spell. Hermione shifted her bag and stepped into the void, destroying all that had happened in the future and creating a new world.
AN: So, there's the first redone chapter. Actually, it was completely rewritten. As I said in the note posted earlier tonight, it will vary. Please review, even if only to harass me for removing all the chapters on such short notices, or no notice, you might contend. I think that it will be a bit darker and more deserving of the genre "Drama" this time around. Give me your thoughts.