My Lost Youth
By MantisSage (Kailea)
Formerly called "Present to Past."
Warning: Major spoilers ahead! (For books 1-7)
Summary: This is not your usual time-travel story. Harry is transported to the time of the Marauders, but at a different age and he does not fully remember who he is and is therefore unsure who are enemies and who are friends.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or anything/anyone else that JK Rowling has created. Besides, you would not want to sue me because I own nothing except a blanket, a computer, and a busted clock. This disclaimer is applicable to all following chapters.
(Excerpt from "My Lost Youth" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
"There are things of which I may not speak;
There are dreams that cannot die;
There are thoughts that make the strong heart weak,
And bring a pallor into the cheek,
And a mist before the eye.
And the words of that fatal song
Come over me like a chill:
"A boy's will is the wind's will,
And the thoughts of youth are long, long thoughts."
Chapter 1: Incidents
The trio slowly walked through the deserted Hogwarts Hall towards the familiar Gryffindor common room. The Fat Lady was absent, but thankfully the portrait door hung open. It seemed the battle had even reached here, for a window was shattered, armchairs were knocked over, a wooden chair lay splintered and broken next to a sadly tilting table. But this went largely unnoticed in the cold morning light filtering through the silent, still air.
Harry was already in the clean, fresh-feeling pajamas that he had found on his bed when Ron came up after hanging back with Hermione in the common room. Harry looked at Ron and saw a very old look upon his face, as the despair, pain, and exhaustion was brought back to mind. Harry didn't want to think of those empty bodies in the Great Hall: of Lupin and Tonks and Fred. He only wanted to sleep and just for a short time forget the pain.
"You know what," Ron said slowly after pulling off his filthy shirt, "only yesterday morning we had escaped Gringott's on a dragon's back. Only a day ago… it's weird." For a second Harry thought Ron was delusional, but then realized with shock that it really had only been yesterday, less than twenty-four hours ago. It was weird, for that adventure seemed so far away- but a great deal had happened in those few hours: certainly the longest day he would ever experience. Thinking back was like traveling through a dream and his mind barely had time to revel in the disbelief before he laid his head upon his pillow and was asleep.
The first thing that told him he was awake was his own deep breath. He felt like he was floating, surrounded by warmth and softness, and the only noise was a gentle silence- neither suffocating nor strained. No thoughts intruded his consciousness; there was only the realization that he was comfortable, content, and perfectly unwilling to move.
He slowly opened his eyes, only to discover large silver-grey orbs peering intensely at him. With a jolt he sat up- now completely awake- to sit face to face with Luna, who was smiling at him with her usual surprised look.
"Oh, good! You're finally awake." She said with a clap of her hands.
"Wha- what are doing here?" Harry asked, pulling the blanket closer around him, remembering he was only in his pajamas, bewildered by her presence. "Isn't this the boy's dormitory? Were you watching me sleep?"
"Oh, not all the time. You just happened to wake up on my shift." She said, standing up, "You know you've been asleep for a week."
"A week! What? Well what's happened-"
"Yes. They were going to take you to St. Mungo's if you didn't wake up soon. I'm really glad you won't have to go. You would be amazed at what the nurses do with their spare time and bed curtains." She said all of this in her usual, upbeat manner. At first Harry wondered if he had simply imagined the whole battle. Maybe he had imagined all of the past year. She acted like nothing had changed- like no one had died. But then again, this was Luna…
"I'll go and tell everyone you're all right," she continued, standing up from the wooden chair and heading towards the door. "You are all right, aren't you?"
With his glasses back on, he saw Luna clearly now, and replied, "I think I am. Is everyone else all right?"
"Yes, we're all mostly fine. You will probably look better after a shower. I think Ron placed those clothes there for you."
"Where are Ron and Hermione?"
"Close by," she replied standing at the door, gazing out his window. The sun was higher than he had expected it to be: it was already afternoon. "I will go tell them you're awake. They'll be very happy to hear it, I'm sure." Although still groggy and confused, he was startled by her sudden departure. She paused and smiled at him, "I'm glad you're all right."
Harry wasn't sure what to make it, especially why Luna had been watching him sleep, but he shrugged it off. The idea of a warm shower was too inviting and he was certain that Ron and Hermione could offer answers.
After a relaxing hot shower and dressing in the casual black robes present, he caught a glimpse of Ron and Hermione lounging in their old bedroom before being nearly knocked off balance as Hermione jumped from her seat and hugged him tightly, pinning his arms to his sides. Harry could hardly see Ron smirking through Hermione's bushel of hair, as she spoke hurriedly into his shoulder, sounding close to tears, eventually relinquishing her grip. "I'm so glad you're all right! We've been worried sick about you! They weren't sure you were going to wake up… Thank goodness!"
Harry was happy to see them, and grateful upon seeing the tray of sandwiches on a bedside: he was famished. After a few odd remarks, the conversation quickly became a question-answer sequence.
"So ever since I fell asleep someone's been watching me?"
"We just thought it would be bad if some deranged You-Know-Who supporter came and snuffed you while you were sleeping. That would certainly be a let-down after everything." Ron said.
That did make sense, Harry thought as he filled his cheeks with a ham sandwich. "Still," he said after swallowing most of it, "it's creepy knowing someone was watching me sleep." He hoped he hadn't done anything embarrassing like snore.
"Still better than me, mate. I had a man sleeping in my bed for three years."
Harry had no comeback. Hermione put her hand to her brow in exasperation- it seemed the other two didn't notice the implications of what Ron just said. She tried not to think about it.
"So has anything else major happened? Any attacks?" Prompting Harry to get his old holly-feather wand from next to his mole pouch, that reminded him to check on his other wands- the hawthorne was still there, but… "The Elder Wand!" Harry yelled, spinning around to face them, "It's gone!"
"No, no," Hermione reassured him, pulling out the afore-mentioned wand from her pocket and handing it to Harry. "I was worried something might happen to it while you slept." Harry held all three wands in his right hand- his holly, Draco's hawthorn, and the elder- he found it to be a bit excessive.
"But we left the invisibility cloak with you," Ron said, pointing to a chest at the base of the bed. "I'm amazed no one took it in the battle."
Ron and Hermione told Harry about the clean up of the Ministry of Magic, the messy affair of dealing with the Hogwarts students who, once again, had no finals, the beginning of the death-eater trials, the status of the injured still at St. Mungos.
"And… you missed the funerals," Hermione said softly. Ron turned his head away. "It's been a week. We couldn't wait much longer." She whispered apologetically.
"Everyone?" Remus, Tonks, Fred… Ron wouldn't meet their eyes. "Ron… I'm so sorry…"
There was no response. Harry felt like there was nothing to say. They had died because of him. Did the Weasley family hate him for it?
"We haven't seen George for a few days." Hermione said in the silence. "And Teddy's grandma has been caring for him." That child was an orphan now. Like Harry. "I- er- we… were planning to visit the graves in a few days. You can come too."
Honestly, that was perhaps the last thing Harry wanted to do. To see the mounds of earth were his friends lay beneath- to think of the still, pale bodies lying alone in their dark tombs. And it was his fault they were dead. Like everyone else who had died, ever since his parents' deaths. Throughout his entire life people died for, or because of, him. Despite these thoughts, Harry nodded. The least he could do was visit their graves and pay his respects.
"I should be heading back home, let everyone know you're awake, "Ron muttered. "My mum's been worrying about you on top of everything else." He stood up, prompting the other two to do the same. Hermione tried, in vain, to make him stay for a while longer, look at the repair work or visit the lake or… but she ended her appeal with a wild hand gesture and few compelling suggestions. It was apparent to Harry that she wanted to keep his mind off of Fred's death. Harry didn't know what it was like to lose a brother, but he knew it would take more than a week to let the memory of Fred rest.
On the way to the Great Hall Harry was astonished at how many people were still at Hogwarts. He could only guess at why they were all there. He even saw a few students with their parents: collecting their trunks, perhaps? Harry wouldn't have minded everyone if they did not stare at him even more intensely than before. He always hated the attention he got as the-boy-who-lived or The Chosen One. He feared what new titles may have been added to his name. At the moment he didn't want to be known as anything but Harry Potter.
Engrossed in a conversation, the trio didn't notice when they turned a corner on the third story and found themselves face to face with Draco Malfoy.
Harry and Ron quickly pulled out their wands, while Hermione protested weakly that Malfoy was on their side now- kind of.
"Oi! I don't even have a wand!" Draco exclaimed.
"Right," Harry said, having forgotten that little fact, "I still have yours. Here," he called out, throwing the hawthorn wand to him. Harry had never liked it, and certainly didn't need it now. Draco caught it single-handedly, not taking his eyes off Harry. Apparently he still had a seeker's skills.
"So is this the fabled wand everyone's talking about?"
"If it was, do you think I would give to you?"
Harry still held his holly-and-phoenix wand as Draco did the same, both eyeing each other warily. It felt so natural that both expected the other to shout out a curse, regardless of the lack of any tangible reason.
"Boys!" McGonagall shouted, making both of them stop mid-curse and look guiltily up at their former professor who was approaching them with an all-too-familiar face of fury.
"When has fighting ever been allowed in the halls! I expected better from both of you- as soon as danger's gone you return to your immature-" she stopped, wagging finger still raised. The absurdness of the situation was dawning on all of them. They were all suddenly acting as if it had all never happened. As if there had never been an epic battle where they stood, all that fighting. It was like it had all been a horrible dream. Harry stifled a laugh.
"Well," McGonagall started again with a small cough, "the rules haven't changed and fighting is still not permitted in the halls. I would have thought you had had enough fighting." She finished. Even Draco had felt the deadly consequences of fighting in the battle.
But that didn't stop them from acting as enemies. In fact, Harry was grateful to Draco and McGonagall. Unlike everyone else, they did not treat him any differently from before. It made Harry's world feel more stable- as if no matter what bizarre thing happened, he could always rely on Draco's animosity.
As McGonagall left, Draco slid forward and whispered under his breath, "Lucky for you it was McGonagall. If it had been Snape I wouldn't have left you standing."
"Snape!" Hermione cried, clapping her hands to her mouth. Draco turned questioningly before continuing on his way. Harry also turned and was startled to see them looking so stricken. Ron suddenly looked ill.
"What… what about Snape?"
"We forgot him!" Hermione whispered. Harry still didn't understand. Snape was dead. What was left to forget?
Upon seeing Harry's confused expression, Ron added in a low voice, "He's still in the Shrieking Shack."
It took a long second for Harry to digest that. "What?" he shouted. "But- it's been a week!"
"We never told anyone." Hermione whispered more to herself than the boys. "No one else knew he was there. No one would have even bothered to check there."
"Well, we were a bit preoccupied with everyone else." Ron added in a dead voice. Between the mourning, funerals, St. Mungo visits, and sleeping, they had completely forgotten about their old Potions professor whose body was still in the Shrieking Shack, surely drained of all blood. Ron made a grimace at the mental image. At least it had not been too hot these past few days.
"I'll go get him." Harry said.
"Harry, this isn't something that you should do alone." Hermione said.
"She's right. It's not something you should be doing at all. We'll tell someone and then go to the Burrow. Everyone's waiting to see you."
Despite a desire to see Ginny and the rest of the Weasley family, Harry wasn't eager to go to a house of mourning, wasn't ready to confront them. So he said he would stay at Hogwarts and meet them at the Burrow later. He could tell McGonagall about Snape's body and could go look for others, maybe try and find Neville or Luna. He watched them walk into the Great Hall from his position on a staircase, ignoring loud whispers from a family passing by.
Sure it was a lie, but he reasoned he would make it a truth after he took care of Snape's body. That was his main reason for staying behind. He slipped on the Invisibility Cloak and headed to the main doors leading outside. If he listened to reason he would have just told someone, but instinct or obligation prompted him to go alone. After seeing Snape's memories in the Pensieve he felt a strange intimacy with the man, perhaps knew him more intimately than any other person. With Snape, it was possible.
Within an hour, crawling through the familiar earthen tunnel, he arrived at the entrance of the Shrieking Shack with his Cloak back in his pocket. He hesitated, breathing through his mouth. The foul stench was diffusing through the top of the robe that he held over his nose and mouth. Severus Snape's body was just there- it was revolting. He would have used a bubblehead charm if it had not been so disrespectful. How many times had Harry witnessed death? He felt he understood it enough not to be surprised, but this time was different from the rest. The very air felt different with the sour touch of the corpse's presence. All noise seemed muffled and it felt like another dimension from outside. It took a stretch of the imagination to think that outside this shack there was a sweet breeze off the lake blowing on green grass and fresh summertime flowers under a cool blue sky. Outside there was color and life. Inside Harry only knew death and darkness.
Harry had never before noticed the smell of death- of the rotting corpse and spilled blood. The body was disgusting to look at. The formerly crimson blood had dried black on the stained floorboards and the bits of skin visible under the black shoes, cloak, and hair, were even more disagreeable to all the senses. The putrid smell aside, it was nauseating to look at- the shriveled skin was dark and mottled, and the face was… Harry avoided looking.
It was surreal seeing this man, dead, before him. Harry looked around at the room, avoiding seeing the body, as he reflected and waited for the nauseous feeling in his gut to subside. He had met him only as a Potions professor. How could he ever have known how their relationship would develop and change? How could he ever have known this would be his fate? Or know that he would be doing something so absurdly intimate with him as moving his dead body. It was even stranger in the lonely silence. The room was always dark, but the shadows somehow seemed darker than usual, as if filled with something sinister. Were these deep shadows Death's fingerprints? He could almost envision Death, wearing Peverell's invisibility cloak, slip noiselessly into the room, and find Snape standing there, scowling like usual (he couldn't imagine Snape allowing himself to be touched by Death, or anyone for that matter). Maybe when Death left, the shadows didn't lighten, the fresh air didn't return, and sounds forgot to be heard.
Harry had been absently looking at a gnawed corner of the table- the smell was just as foul, but it didn't sting quite so much as when he first entered. He looked back at the body and found the eyes staring blankly at him. It sent shivers throughout his body, seeing those clouded black eyes peering into nothing. Harry had been the last thing he saw- Lily's emerald eyes. Had he given him that one small peace before dying- to look into the eyes of the only person he had ever loved, even if it was looking at the face of someone he could never come to love? Harry suddenly wished he had known a little more about the man. True- he had seen into his past and was perhaps closer than anyone else could have known him. But a new thought struck him painfully- had the man ever smiled? Harry wished he knew. Had Severus Snape ever experienced joy or peace? Harry wanted to believe that his life was better than his death- had been more than hate and loneliness. He wished he could have somehow changed it, to know for a fact that Snape felt happiness, even if just for a moment. He couldn't even imagine Snape with a smile upon his stony face.
Harry stepped closer to the body. He would take it up to the castle. It could be given a decent burial. One blackened hand lay curled up on the blood-soaked floor. Hesitating, Harry grabbed the wrist and pulled it carefully to the other hand on his chest. It was stiff in rigor mortis.
Pulling out his wand, he made the body hover, like Sirius had done years ago. With a silent spell he made the body follow him as if tied to the wand tip. Harry once again made his way through the tunnel and the hole in the trunk of the Whomping Willow with the body floating behind him all the while. He couldn't help but recall the first time he had made the trip, and wonder how they had all managed it, hurt, tied together, and dragging Snape… it was almost confusing to compare.
A rustling sound from the Forbidden Forest distracted Harry from heading straight to the castle. Even stranger- the noise continued. Curious, Harry paused, peering into the dark woods. Sure enough, something was moving in the darkness behind the still trees. Carefully Harry lowered the body to the ground and took a few steps closer. What was it?
As he walked towards the noise he realized it was actually multiple noises- flutter, scratch, scrape, trot. It was deeper into the forest than he had thought; already the space between trees was thinning, as was the filtered light. Harry quickened almost to a run when he saw various strange animals of the forest gathered around together, fighting. Even after years of lessons about magical creatures, Harry wouldn't even try to identify all of them, but he was certain that there no simple muggle creatures like sparrows or wolves in the mix. There were thestrals and kappas, things resembling shuddering brown branches, small thorn-covered many-legged insects, bony felines, a few of Hagrid's spiders, amongst others. Harry even thought he saw a unicorn or two in the distance, watching as he did. They were fighting over something on the ground- a large crab-like creature broke from the rest of the mob, clutching a small thing that could have fit into Harry's palm, waving around large claws behind as it scurried from the pursuing creatures.
Harry needed to know what strange object was attracting so many magical beings- he had a suspicion but tried to push it from his mind. With a quick wave of his wand he stupefied the silver crab-thing and the other creatures scurried at Harry's presence, perhaps still wary of any human after all that took place in the forest just a week before. Had they not noticed him approach? In the darkness of the forest, amidst the close together trees, Harry needed to use his wand to see what it was that had caused such a commotion.
Kneeling down, his suspicions were confirmed. The stone Hallow lay before him, still strapped to the Marvolo ring. Those animals must have carried it here. Had its magic attracted those animals? Maybe they are more sensitive than humans and could feel its magic. Had they been fighting over it this whole week? It probably had not been used in centuries.
These thoughts passed through his mind as he looked at the polished stone, shining in his wand's light. He had promised Dumbledore, and himself, that he would not try to find it or use it again. But here it was, he hadn't tried to find it. Maybe he was supposed to take it. It didn't mean he would use, he told himself.
As he reached for the legendary object once again, he forgot about its brothers: the wand still in the pouch around his neck and his invisibility cloak in his pocket. The words "master of death"- whatever its meaning- did not echo through his head as he reached out to unite the three Hallows. He was so calm. The universe could have mocked him for his ignorance.
His fingers touched the stone. He did not even feel his head hit the forest floor.
Author's Note: I have had a few questions asked in comments and I generally assume them to be rhetorical. However, if you have a question that you would like me to answer, write A/R (for Author Response) before or after the question and I'll be sure to reply to it.
Any reviews, questions, comments, flames, etc are greatly appreciated.