A/N Just a little idea that came to while I was listening to the wonderful 'Going Home: Theme of the Local Hero' by Mark Knopfler for the film Local Hero. That song never fails to send shivers down my spine.
The grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry were veiled in clouds of thick, black smoke as a result of the fierce battle that had been fought there between the forces of good and evil.
The magnificent castle itself, which for centuries had stood as a constant pillar of strength, wisdom, light and safety in an otherwise dangerous and ever changing world, was also showing signs of the battle. Many of the windows had been smashed, doors were hanging off their hinges after being violently forced open and parts of the walls were starting to crumble and fall apart.
The air was full of the piercing cries of the wounded, the heartbreaking sobs of people finding the lifeless bodies of their loved ones and the shouts and struggles as the few remaining Death Eaters were rounded up.
Harry Potter, who was lying in a crumpled heap a few feet away from the main doors, heard everything that was going on around him and a small part of his mind told him that he had to get up, not only to try and help wherever he could but to make sure he had finally destroyed Voldemort once and for all. However, he could not focus on that part of his mind. All he could focus on was the fiery pain that raged through his body and what it meant. All he could focus on was the pain that told him he was slowly dying.
Ginny ran through the grounds as fast as her injured ankle would carry her searching for Harry. She shouted his name and asked everyone she could if they had seen him but nobody had. Then, just as she was getting desperate she saw a familiar mop of unruly, black hair.
"Oh Harry," she cried in relief, throwing herself down next to him and carefully giving him a hug.
He stiffly hugged her back, ignoring the extra pain brought on by moving and then asked in a quiet, croaky voice, "Are you alright Ginny? Are you hurt at all?"
"I'm fine," she replied. "And you will be soon as well. Hermione will come over and fix you up as usual and you'll be fine," she added, more to reassure herself than Harry.
A doubtful look crossed Harry's face as he knew it wouldn't be that simple but Ginny resolutely ignored it and started running her hand gently through his hair and his eyes slowly slipped shut and he let out a sigh as he finally allowed himself to relax.
Suddenly his eyes flew open. "What about Voldemort?"
"You did it Harry," she replied elatedly. "He's gone. You know what that means don't you? We've got a wedding to plan. 'As soon as Voldemort's dead we'll get married', that's what you said. You promised and I won't let you wriggle out of it now."
"I'm so sorry Ginny, but I don't think I'm going to be able to keep that promise," whispered Harry.
"Don't say that," admonished Ginny, tears welling up in her eyes. "You're going to be alright. You have to be alright, for me. I can't cope without you, I love you too much," her voice trailed away and a few tears slipped down her cheek.
Harry tried to think of something to say that would comfort her but he couldn't come up with anything so he simply reached up and softly wiped her tears away.
A flash of lightening illuminated the grounds for a moment and Ginny, hearing someone cry her name, spun round to see Ron and Hermione running up to them.
"We've been looking everywhere for you two," exclaimed Hermione, hugging Ginny and then Harry. Harry tried not to cry out but the pain was too much to bear.
Hermione quickly let go of him at the same time as Ginny said tearfully, "Please help him 'Mione, he's really hurt."
Hermione nodded, took out her wand and began to scan Harry's body to determine where his worst injuries were. Ron, who was kneeling opposite Ginny and Hermione on Harry's other side, had stayed silent throughout the whole interaction because the sight of Harry in so much pain had left him speechless. It wasn't that he had never seen him in pain, after all Harry had spent more time in the hospital wing then the rest of their fellow pupils put together. The grey, deathly pallor, however, was not something Ron was used to seeing, nor was the uncontrollable shaking and shivering.
Harry had picked up on Ron's uncharacteristically silent behaviour and turned to him with questioning eyes. Ron forced a cheerful smile onto his face and started chatting light-heartedly to him, joined every now and then by Ginny.
When Hermione realised what the scan was saying she gave a soft gasp, which went unheard by Ron and Ginny. Her eyes filled with tears and she began to start the scan again, hoping that she must have made a mistake but her reaction was enough to confirm Harry's suspicions.
Unlacing his hand from Ginny's he reached over and took Hermione's hand and she reluctantly met his gaze.
"It's too late isn't it?"
Hermione nodded unable to speak around the sob that was rising inside of her.
"What do you mean?" Ginny asked, glancing fearfully between Harry and Hermione. "You can help him can't you? He will be alright?"
"No Gin', I don't think there's anything Hermione can do this time," Harry answered in a soft but surprisingly calm voice.
Ron and Ginny turned back to Hermione in the hope that she would contradict him but she just nodded her head, agreeing with him. Ginny gave a little sob and Ron's face turned almost as pale as Harry's.
Harry gasped at the fresh onslaught of pain that coursed through his body and clenched his hands so tightly that small droplets of blood fell onto the floor from where his nails had cut into his skin.
His friends felt so useless watching him writhing around in pain and knowing there was nothing they could do to help him. They held his hands and spoke to him, hoping he would take some comfort in their presence, until it passed.
Harry started coughing weakly into his hand. When he removed it from his mouth it was covered in blood but he didn't seem bothered by it, he simply wiped it off onto his robes and looked back up at his friends.
"I want you all to promise me that you'll look out for each other."
Ron and Hermione both nodded and muttered "We promise", tears running unchecked down their faces, but for Ginny this was too much. Burying her face in Harry's chest, she began weeping into his robes.
"Oh Gin'," breathed Harry, reaching up to rub her back. For the first time that day his eyes filled with tears as well.
After a few minutes she took a deep breath and sat up, taking Harry's hand in hers again and giving him a watery smile.
"It won't be so bad," he said, squeezing her hand. "You'll all still have each other and you never know, I might get to see my parents again. And Sirius," he added, with a smile.
He shuddered again and then said, his eyes travelling from Ginny, to Hermione, to Ron and then back to Ginny, "I love you."
Then everything went dark.
Harry blinked a few times and realised he was lying flat on his back on the ground. Groaning, he sat up and suddenly noticed he was in a place he didn't recognise. Not only that, but all the injuries he had sustained during the battle had been healed.
Standing up, he looked around him. To the west there was a large mountain range, their tops hidden in mist. Coming from there was a large, winding river which wound its way through the valley Harry was standing in before veering off north where Harry could just make out a town, its windows glittering in the newly risen sun.
Much nearer in the opposite direction was another town. Harry decided to start heading towards it. He reached into his pocket for his wand but then stopped. He felt unusually safe and secure here and decided he didn't need it. It was a strange feeling but one he could definitely get used to, he thought with a smile.
As he walked towards the town he couldn't help but notice that everything felt so much more vibrant and alive, which was slightly ironic as he assumed that he was dead. The colours, the sounds, the scents were all so much more vivid.
Harry had now almost reached the nearest buildings. He noticed that there were two houses slightly apart from the rest of them, just on the outskirts. Nobody was around so he stopped and began studying this strange country again.
As he turned round he noticed that the mist on the mountains had crept down and now covered about the top half of the peaks. The strange thing about it, though, was that it had now acquired a definite red hue, reminding him of Ginny's hair.
A soft breeze floated towards him from the mountains, ruffling his hair. Suddenly he froze. He was sure he had just heard a voice crying his name. Straining his ears he realised it was Ginny and although they were quite far away it was clearly coming from the mountains.
It broke his heart to hear how desolate and grief-stricken she sounded and he almost began running towards the mountains in the hope that he would somehow be able to reach her but the noise of a door opening behind him made him turn around.
Bending down to pick up the milk bottles on her doorstep was a women, wearing a green dressing gown, with dark red hair.
Harry's heart started beating faster. Could it be her?
She started muttering to herself but her voice carried over to Harry. "I don't know why Sirius couldn't have brought it in when he came over, annoying mutt."
It must be her!
As she straightened up, her eyes casually swept the landscape but when she saw Harry she stopped. There was silence for a moment as they stared at each other and then the milk bottles fell from her lax grip, breaking the spell that seemed to be upon them.
Closing the gap between them she took his face gently in her hands and turned it this way and that, studying it, before looking into his oh so similar eyes.
"Mum?" Harry whispered and Lily Potter's eyes filled with tears as she nodded.
"Lils, is everything alright?" asked James, who had come to the door when he heard the bottles smash. When he saw who was standing next to Lily he grabbed the doorpost in shock. By now Sirius had also come to see what was happening. When he saw his Godson a small smile appeared on his face although he was deeply saddened that Harry couldn't have had a happier, longer life.
When he saw that James hadn't moved he gave him a little push towards the two people. "Go on."
Lily and Harry hadn't noticed that they had company. Just as James had appeared Lily had thrown her arms around him and Harry had buried his face in her neck and they were still standing like that, with their arms wrapped around each other, as James slowly approached them.
He could hear Lily repeating "My boy, my beautiful baby boy" and from the way her shoulders were shaking he could tell she was crying.
Slowly they pulled away. Lily dried the tears that had trickled down Harry's cheeks and said softly, "We're so proud of you," before pressing a kiss to his forehead.
Harry was so overcome by emotion that he couldn't speak and tears filled his eyes again. Lily, seeing this, silently wrapped an arm around his waist and started to lead him towards the house but stopped when she James standing there. She stepped back and let them have a moment together, and, seeing Sirius watching from the doorway, beckoned him over.
When Harry saw Sirius his mouth fell open. He had seen photos of Sirius from when he was in school and knew that he used to be rather handsome but twelve years in Azkaban changed that. Even after he escaped he never quite lost that gaunt, hollowness. But now it was as if he had never been there. All the traces of it had been wiped from his face.
After another tearful hug Harry looked around him again and then said hesitantly, "So am I dead then?"
Lily nodded sadly, "Yes."
"What happened?" asked James.
"There was a battle," Harry said, with a shudder. "At Hogwarts. I killed Voldemort."
Lily wrapped her arm round his waist again and said, "Come on. Let's go home."
Harry turned and saw that the mountain range was completely hidden in mist now and Ginny's cries were quite faint. He slowly turned away from it for the last time and allowed Lily to lead him into the house, followed by James and Sirius.