Forever and beyond
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. All I've got are the books, the DVDs, some fan items, my laptop, my imagination and my undying love for Harmony.
A/N: This chapter takes place at the end of year seven, during the final fight. I'm completely ignoring Deathly Hollows though. So don't be confused, because the beginning of the chapter has nothing to do with the final fight in DH. I'm ignoring Dobby's and Hedwig's death, too, simply because this is my story and I can do whatever I want with it. I'm using a few things mentioned in Deathly Hollows though, for example that Hermione sent her parents to Australia.
Harry Potter was standing in a clearing at the entrance of the forbidden forest, facing his greatest enemy, Lord Voldemort. It was only the two of them. A fight wizard against wizard. No Death Eaters to protect their master, no friends standing by Harry's side. That was the way Voldemort had wanted it. He wanted to proof once and for all that he was the most powerful wizard alive and that no teenage boy was able to beat him. Voldemort had switched wands with Lucius Malfoy and Harry was fighting with Ron's wand. Both wizards didn't want another surprise like the one three years ago. While they were fighting, Death Eaters were trying to take Hogwarts over. Harry hoped the prefects had at least had enough time to evacuate the younger students. And above all, he hoped that his friends were alright. No, you can't think about them, now. You can't afford to wonder if they are dead or alive. Not now.
"Let's see how strong you are without the help of your parents, Potter," Voldemort challenged him.
Harry met Voldemort's gaze. "I'm surprised that you have the guts to face me without your Death Eaters to save you, Tom." Harry answered, intentionally using Riddles detested first name.
"Ready to meet your mudblood mother?" asked Voldemort.
"Ready to go to hell?" Harry asked back.
After that, everything happened very fast. "Avada Kadavra!" Both wizards said the spell at the same time. Using his seeker reflexes, Harry tried to jump out of the curses range, trying to keep his wand pointed at his opponent at the same time. Two flashes of green light blinded Harry and he found something very powerful hit him with a force that threw him back against a nearby tree. That's it. I'm dead. Harry thought.
But he didn't feel dead. He felt different, but not dead. On the other hand, how could he know how being dead felt? Harry tried to identify the sensations he felt. He felt pain. His whole body hurt from the hard collision with the massive oak. He could feel blood running down his cheek where one of the branches had cut his skin. That wasn't the unfamiliar feeling though. He knew pain. He had felt pain more often than he could remember and he had definitely felt worse than he was feeling now. No, that wasn't it.
He felt something inside himself that he hadn't felt before. He felt power. It almost felt as if he could feel the magic running through his veins. Harry stood up, ignoring the protest of his hurting muscles. He reached for his wand and searched the clearing. Where was Voldemort? Had he hit him?
Harry spotted a body lying a few meters away from him. Carefully, newer lowering his wand, Harry made his way towards Voldemort. When he was standing next to him, Harry immediately saw that the most feared wizard of the century was dead. Lifeless eyes were wide open and stared at Harry in an expression of utter surprise. The eyes weren't the angry red eyes Harry knew from his previous encounters with Voldemort. They were Tom Riddles eyes, looking misplaced and grotesque in a face that barely resembled a human being anymore.
Harry was brought back to reality when he heard a hushed noise. It sounded like glass breaking, but Harry wasn't sure, because the sound was too far away. Hogwarts! Harry thought. The fight in there obviously wasn't over and his friends needed him.
When Harry got nearer to the school, he saw what had caused the sound he had heard in the forest. Several windows in the Gryffindor tower were broken and Harry could see flashes of light in several colours behind the broken windows. Harry felt panic rise in his chest. The Death eaters had invaded the Gryffindor tower! Suddenly, Harry had only one thought: Hermione! The young wizard ran as fast as his feet would carry him and soon he had reached the castle.
What he saw there could only be classified as a scene of destruction. The gate was gone, obviously blown away by an angry Death Eater. Somebody had obviously put on a fight. Some of the knight statues lay on the floor and several of the paintings were blemished by angry cuts, probably from misplaced curses. The trail of destruction ran all the way through the castle. Wherever Harry went he saw cuts in the walls, burned curtains, overturned furniture and scattered school bags. The worst thing was the bodies though. In some of the corridors he passed he saw students lying on the ground, some clearly dead, some might just be unconscious. Harry knew he should stop by each of them to search for a pulse, but he couldn't. He was devastated to see the bodies people he had seen every day during the past years, but right now his main concern were his friends. The mere thought of seeing Hermione's lifeless body on the floor made Harry feel sick and he ran faster than he had ever run in his life. When he reached the tower Harry saw that the portrait of the fat lady had been blown away just like the entrance gate.
Harry needed a moment to assess the situation. It looked like the majority of the Hogwarts staff, nearly everybody from the DA and several members of the Phoenix order were there, fighting off dozens of Death Eaters. Ron was the first of his friends Harry spotted. He was fighting against Dolohov, the bastard who had hurt Hermione during the battle at the Ministry in fifths year. Dolohov was giving Ron a hard time, but his friend seemed to have the situation under control. Next to Ron he could see Ginny, who just escaped a blasting curse from Peter Pettigrew. The curse missed her closely, blowing up a nearby armchair instead. Harry could see Tonks blocking a curse from Bellatrix Lestrange. Her husband Lupin was fighting by her side, against a Death Eater whose name Harry couldn't remember at the moment. Harry also spotted Fred and George in a corner of the room, fighting with Crabbe and Goyle senior. McGonagall was in the middle of the fight with Bellatrix' husband Rodolphus. Kingsley was there, too, fighting off a Death Eater Harry hadn't seen before. But the one Person Harry was searching for most desperately was nowhere to be seen. Where was Hermione? Before Harry could decide what he should do next, Ginny spotted him standing in the entrance. "Harry!" she cried out, overjoyed. "Oh my god, Harry you are alive!"
This caused a chain reaction among the fighters. Most of the Death Eaters were stunned when they saw Harry, because the fact that he was standing there could only mean one thing: Their Master was gone! The teachers, students and order members came to the same conclusion and that knowledge gave the exhausted fighters new strength. The most quick-witted of them like Lupin, Tonks, Kingsley and McGonagall took advantage of their opponents' state of shock and knocked them out with quick stunning curses. The now free fighters quickly went to assist the students with their opponents.
Unfortunately, Dolohov had recovered from his shock faster than Ron from his joy to see Harry. The Death Eater screamed "Sectumsempra"and Harry managed to rush to Ron's side and save him with a shielding charm just in time. Ron used the opportunity and quickly disabled his opponent with a stunning spell as well.
"Where's Hermione?" Harry asked his friend, never taking his eyes away from the battlefield. "She's guarding the Heads' common room. She and one of the sixths year's prefects brought the younger kids up there. We didn't have time to get them out before the Death Eaters came. Hermione wanted to guard the room until the prefects could Acio the school brooms and help the kids to escape." Ron explained. Without a further word, Harry ran towards the Heads' room. Ron was following close behind, but stopped when he saw that Fred had been hit by a curse, falling and losing his wand in the progress. Ron hesitated for a second, but went to help his brother then, leaving it to Harry to help their best friend.
Harry could hear Hermione's desperate screams even from the bottom of the staircase
that led to the common room they shared as Head Boy and Girl.
When the trio had returned to Hogwarts after they found and destroyed the last remaining Horcrux in November, Harry and Hermione had been made Head boy and girl like originally intended. Malfoy, who had been Head boy during the first two months of the term, had thrown a fit, but McGonagall had remained hard.
Harry could feel fear mixed with a rage he had never felt before. He would kill whoever was causing Hermione pain. When Harry reached the common room, he saw that the door had been blown away as well. The sixths year prefect, a friendly boy named Damian North, was dead. He had obviously managed to get all the children out but it had been too late to save his own life.
When Harry entered the room he didn't' pay attention to the body of his fellow Gryffindor though. All his attention was captured by the sight and sound of Hermione screaming in agony under the Cruciatus Curse of Lucius Malfoy.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry called and disarmed Malfoy, who hadn't seen him coming. Before he knew what was happening with him, Malfoy was the one screaming in agony while Harry tortured him. Harry felt a burning hatred he hadn't known he was capable of filling him as he kept his wand pointed at Lucius Malfoy. He would die for what he had done to Hermione, but before he died Harry would torture him until he begged to be killed! Harry was so absorbed in his rage that he didn't even notice that the floor under him started to shake. He didn't notice the wind blowing around him, lifting Hermione's schoolbooks from the table nor did he realize that the paintings decorating the walls had fallen to the floor. Harry didn't know how much time had passed. Seconds, minutes or hours. He didn't know and he didn't care. Malfoy was screaming and shaking, begging Harry to stop and Harry was enjoying every second of this. Then suddenly a soft, familiar voice brought Harry out of his rage induced haze.
"Harry!" Hermione called softly and Harry's head turned around to look at Hermione. She was sitting up now, shaking and watching him with a shocked expression, tears streaming down her cheeks. What am I doing here? Harry wondered suddenly. Hermione needed him and he was wasting his time with Malfoy! Harry quickly released the Death Eater from the Cruciatus curse, just to point his wand again at the helpless man a second later. "Avada Kadavra!" Harry said and for the second time this day he killed a man. Only this time, he didn't do it because he had to, but because he wanted to.
Harry didn't even waste a second to look at the man he had killed, but hurried over to Hermione.
"Hermione, are you okay?" Harry asked as he knelt down beside his friend. Hermione looked up to Harry and gasped when she saw his face close-by for the first time since he had entered the room.
"Harry, what happened to your eyes?!" Hermione asked stunned.
Harry was confused. "What's wrong with my eyes?"
Before Hermione had time to answer they were interrupted by Ron who was storming into the room. "Hermione, Harry, are you okay?"
Harry turned to look at his friend. Like Hermione, Ron gasped when he saw Harry's eyes. "Bloody hell, Harry!"
"Can at last anybody explain to me what's wrong?" he asked angered, turning to Hermione again.
"Go away from her!" Ron demanded and when Harry turned to face Ron again he saw that his friend was pointing his wand at him. "
"Damn, Ron, have you gone insane?" Harry yelled, standing up and raising his wand instinctively. "It's me! Harry!"
"I'm not so sure of this!" Ron replied.
"Put the bloody wand down and tell me what's going on for god's sake!" Harry yelled and made a step towards his friend.
Before Harry knew what was happening to him, Ron called "Petrificus Totalus!" Harry felt his limps go numb and a second later he crashed to the floor, hitting his head painfully at the hard wood.
"Are you mental?!" Hermione screamed at Ron and a second later she was kneeling beside him, raising her wand to release Harry from her boyfriend's spell.
"Hermione, don't! You don't know if that's still Harry in there! Maybe he is possessed by You-Know-Who!" Hermione looked up, glaring at her friend.
"Damn, Ron, Harry saved me! Malfoy tortured me and Harry killed him! Does that sound like something a person who is possessed by Voldemort would do?"
Before his friends were able to finish their argument Harry heard footsteps of several people coming from the stairs. Harry panicked. What if some of the Death Eaters had managed to knock their opponents of and were coming to attack them now? Harry could see Hermione stand up and point her wand at the entrance. He assumed that Ron was doing the same thing, but couldn't see it from his position. Harry hadn't felt that helpless since he had been forced to watch Dumbledore being killed. To his relieve, the voice Harry heard next belonged to Lupin.
"What's going on here?" His former professor asked.
"Harry is possessed by You-Know-Who or something!" Ron told him.
"No he isn't!" Hermione objected. "Something must have happened to Harry in the forest. His eyes... they are red, like Voldemort's, but Harry is not possessed! He saved me! He killed Lucius Malfoy! Remus, tell Ron that somebody who is possessed by Voldemort wouldn't do that! In the mean time, I'll remove the curse that Ron used on our friend!" Hermione stated angrily.
"Miss Granger, wait a minute." The new voice belonged to Professor McGonagall.
"Professor!" Hermione exclaimed. "You can't seriously want to leave Harry bonded! He didn't do anything, except for saving the Wizarding World of course. He must feel horribly lying there completely motionless. He can't even see what's going on and I'm sure he is as confused as we are."
"Miss Granger, I wasn't going to tell you to leave Mister Potter bonded. I just want you to take his wand before you release him."
"But Professor..." McGonagall interrupted her student. "If we are convinced that Mister Potter is still completely himself after we examined him, he will get his wand back."
"Yes, Professor," Hermione gave in, but she sounded everything but pleased.
A moment later Hermione was kneeling beside Harry again, looking in his eyes. "Harry, I have to take your wand." she said apologizing. Harry blinked one time to show her that he understood and wasn't mad at her. Hermione nodded and took Harry's wand out of his rigid hand, before she pointed her wand at him and said the counterspell.
"Thanks." Harry muttered and sat up.
Hermione hurried to assist him. "Slowly, Harry. You hit your head pretty hard, you might have a concussion."
"I'm fine." Harry argued. He looked around and saw that Ron, Lupin and McGonagall were standing at the door, wands in hand and were carefully watching him. Harry turned back to Hermione. "Do I really have Voldemort's eyes?"
Hermione looked uncomfortable. "Well...yes."
Harry looked away from her. "I'm sorry. It must be horrible to look at me."
To Harry's surprise, Hermione took his face in her hands and forced him to look at her. "Harry, it could never be horrible for me to look at you. Not after I was so afraid to lose you for all these years. When I look at you, I'm just happy that you are alive and with me. I'm sure we'll find a way to work everything else out."
Before Harry was able to say anything, Hermione pulled him into a firm hug. Harry returned the embrace and held Hermione as tight as possible and finally he felt an immense relieve. He was holding Hermione in his arms. She was alive, he didn't lose her. Right now, nothing else mattered. And in this moment, Harry realized that he loved Hermione. He didn't love her like a friend or like a sister, but in the way a man loved a woman. He loved her in the way you could only love your soulmate. Harry finally realized that Hermione was everything to him and that he couldn't live without her. Great! Harry thought sarcastically. Could there be a worse moment to realize that you are in love with your best friend, who happens to be your other best friend's girlfriend who happens to be your girlfriend's brother? Could his life get any more complicated?
He didn't have much time to think about his love life, because Professor McGonagall addressed him as soon as Hermione had ended the hug. "Mister Potter, can you tell us what happened during your fight with Voldemort?"
Harry thought about the question for a moment. "Everything went really fast, a lot faster than I thought it would. We met in the forest, talked for a few moments and when we started to fight, both of us used the Avada Kadavra immediately. We spoke our curses at the same time, I think. I tried to escape Voldemort's curse and at the same time keeping my wand at him. Then, all I remember was that there was blinding green light and something very powerful hit me. The force of whatever it was made me stumble and crash into a tree. When I stood up, I saw that Voldemort was dead. His eyes were open and I could see that they weren't red anymore, but brown like they were when he still was Tom Riddle. I thought that it was strange, but didn't give it much thought. I came back here as fast as I could to see if my friends needed my help."
McGonagall and Remus looked thoughtful. "Harry, do you feel different since then?" Lupin asked.
Harry nodded. "Yes, I do. It's hard to describe. I feel more powerful somehow. And when I came in here and saw how Malfoy hurt Hermione, I felt... Remus, I have never felt that angry. I've been so angry that I wanted to kill somebody before. I felt like that with Sirius when I thought he had betrayed my parents and then with Pettigrew. But I didn't have the urge to torture them. But today... I did torture Malfoy and I enjoyed it!" Harry admitted, shocked with himself.
Hermione laid a hand on Harry's shoulder, silently telling him that she didn't judge him. "What does this mean, Professor?" she asked the Head Mistress. "Can something like that happen when two killing curses collide?"
McGonagall looked thoughtfully at her brightest student. "Well, usually no. When two killing curses are spoken at the same time, both fighters die under normal circumstances. In this case, the circumstances aren't normal though. Mr. Potter has had a part of Voldemort inside himself since he was an infant. And since forth year, Voldemort has a part of Mister Potter inside him, because he took his blood. It's possible that this connection caused a further exchange between Mister Potter's and Voldemort's soul when their spells met."
"But, when Voldemort's curse hit me and mine hit him, why is he dead and I'm not?" Harry asked confused.
"That's a difficult question, Harry," Lupin admitted. "I've got a theory concerning that though. The part of Voldemort's soul that you carried inside yourself never made you become another Horcrux, because Voldemort never performed the dark ritual that was necessary to complete the process. On the other hand, I assume that the ritual Voldemort performed on you during your forth year resembled the process of making an Horcrux. He took something from you and placed it into himself, performing a dark ritual while doing so. That could have caused Voldemort to become a Horcrux of you. And like you know, a person cannot die as long as his Horcrux exists. I assume that Voldemort's curse hit you a moment before yours hit him. You would have died, if the fact that Voldemort still lived hadn't protected you. On the other hand, your spell could kill Voldemort, because he didn't have a proper Horcrux left." explained Lupin.
Harry looked at his former Professor, still trying to understand properly what he had just explained. He wasn't surprised to see that Hermione had been faster in understanding the explanation though. "That's logical. There's only one thing I can't understand. Why didn't the same thing happen to Harry that happened to Voldemort 16 years ago?"
Lupin and McGonagall looked very uncomfortable when they heard their clever student asking this question.
"What?!" Harry asked. "You just told me that a Horcrux of me was created without me even knowing about it. You can just get it over with and tell me all the bad news."
McGonagall sighed. "If Mister Lupin's theory is correct, you are only protected by the part of Voldemort's soul that was transferred to you tonight. What's left of your own soul is too weak to stay inside a human form. The fragments of your soul are only held in place by the part of Voldemort you have inside yourself."
Harry was shocked. "Does that mean, my only choice is to either live with a huge part of Voldemort's soul inside me forever or to become the same kind of creature Voldemort was until he came back?"
"Well, there might be a third way." McGonagall answered hesitantly "But it is not easy and it doesn't only involve you, Harry."
"What does that mean?" Hermione asked frantically. "If there is a way to help Harry we must try it, no matter how complicated it is!"
"This isn't really my department. Before I can say more, I have to consult Professor Babbling. She isn't only a very competent teacher for ancient runes, but knows much about celtic rituals, too. We should meet again, when Mister Lupin and I have talked to her. I suggest that Miss Granger and Mister Potter go to see Madame Pomfrey in the mean time. I'll send Fawkes to the Infirmary as soon as I know more. „
An hour later, Harry and were in the Infirmary, separated from the rest of the room by a privacy curtain. Hermione had charmed Harry's classes so nobody could see his eyes during their walk through the castle. Hermione was still a bit shaken from the Cruciatus curse and Harry had insisted that she laid down in one of the beds until Mcgonagall messages would come. Harry had gotten a potion to help his numerous bruises and scratches heal faster. Finally, the friends saw Fawkes fly into the room. He sat down next to Hermione on the bed and held out his foot for Harry, so he could take the note that was attached to his ankle.
Dear Mister Potter,
Mister Lupin, our Ancient Runes Teacher Professor Babbling and I are waiting for you in my office. The Password for the entrance is 'Gryffindor Lion'. Please bring Miss Weasley with you.