A/N: First off I would just like to say that re-do fics are not my thing. At all. This particular story can be blamed entirely on Altyerre, whose attempts to demonstrate the error of my ways (by forcing me to read about half a billion of the annoying things) created a plot bunny whose definition of the word "no" is more than a little unusual...I would also like to remind you all that one of the Golden Rules of re-do fics is that the first part is always at least a little bit depressing, otherwise there's no reason for anyone to go back in the first place. So don't give up if the Prologue isn't your cup of tea, the rest of the story should be very different. Cinnamon.
Disclaimer: But naturally I own Harry Potter. However could you doubt it?...You called me a lying what!?
It had been almost twenty-four hours since the stunning finale of the Battle of Hogwarts, but in the half-light before dawn the scene of destruction looked worse than ever.
Walls and towers that had stood for millennia were smashed and crumbling in many places, and the entire castle was littered with wreckage from the battle and coated with innumerable—but thankfully unidentifiable—stains. From his vantage point at one of the partially shattered windows of Gryffindor Tower, Ron Weasley could see that the grounds looked in no better condition. Many of the trees in the Forbidden Forest had been uprooted, and closer to the castle dark shapes lay like the bodies of giants upon the ground. Knowing that they were the bodies of giants wasn't helping much.
So many people had died...Among them was Ron's own brother, Fred, Remus and Nymphadora "Tonks" Lupin and Colin Creevey, who shouldn't have been in the battle at all. There was even a small regret in Ron's heart for Vincent Crabbe, killed by the Fiendfyre that he himself had summoned in an attempt to destroy Ron and his friends. Crabbe was their age, the son of a Death Eater, and too stupid to ever consider that his father's way was not necessarily the right way.
Almost worse than the dead were the survivors; Percy Weasley had mended a two year long breach with his family just in time to join the battle, and was now devastated by the death of a younger brother he had not spoken civilly to for years. Fred's twin, George, already missing an ear from a previous encounter with Death Eaters would now forever be missing his other half.
Across the room on a heavily padded couch Harry Potter, the hero of the hour, year, decade, the Boy-Who-Lived, the Chosen One, the Master of Death, the True Master of the Elder Wand and now Defeater of He Who Must Not Be Named—Lord Voldemort— lay exhausted, with his arms around a sleeping Ginny Weasley, Ron's little sister.
He wasn't sleeping though. After months on the run, hunting down Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes, after a battle which lasted until dawn, after being hugged and kissed and cried on by people whose names he didn't even know, Harry had returned with Ron to their old dormitory to sleep. He hadn't though. They had lain staring at the canopies over their beds until Ron had fallen asleep. When he had woken up Harry was still lying in the same position, unmoving. Ron hadn't said anything, though. What was there to say?
"Severus Snape wasn't yours," Harry had hissed at Voldemort. "Snape was Dumbledore's, Dumbledore's from the moment you started hunting down my mother. And you never realised it, because of the thing you can't understand. You never saw Snape cast a Patronus, did you Riddle?"
To the friends, enemies, acquaintances and strangers who surrounded them his voice had seemed calm, but to Ron, his best friend, it had been loaded with remorse and grief; grief for the senseless death of a man he had always hated, who he would never truly get a chance to know.
Ginny was clinging rather tightly to Harry, even in sleep. They had been apart for months, and who knew what horrors she, Neville, Luna and the other members Dumbledore's Army had undergone in a school overrun by Death Eaters during that time?
Seated in an armchair across from Harry and Ginny sat Ron's girlfriend, Hermione. She had got a lot more sleep than Harry, but it had clearly not been enough. She had kept her cool logic during the battle, keeping him and Harry on track, refusing to break down. Now it looked like the emotion had finally caught up with her.
Down in the Hospital Wing, Lavender Brown, Ron's ex-girlfriend, still lay unconscious. When she woke up she would have to come to terms with the knowledge that she would undergo the horrifying transformation to werewolf next full moon, and every full moon for the rest of her life. If she ever woke up. There seemed to be some doubt about that.
Other people aside from his immediate friends were suffering too. Forever etched in Ron's mind would be the first meeting between Draco Malfoy and Gregory Goyle after the battle. Crabbe and Goyle had been Malfoy's loyal followers throughout their years at Hogwarts, but in that final battle Crabbe had turned away from Malfoy, and Goyle had followed. Now Crabbe was dead, and neither of them seemed to have any idea how to act around the other.
"I'm sorry," Goyle had said, but Malfoy had turned away, and with a shock of disbelief Ron had realised that Malfoy was crying. He hadn't known that he was capable of such emotion.
There were so many complications that nobody seemed to have considered in the heat of the battle. Acting Minister Shacklebolt was already facing the first insoluble problem of his new position as he debated the fates of Draco Malfoy's parents.
Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy had abandoned the Dark Lord before the final part of the battle, intent on finding their son. On top of that, Narcissa had unquestionably saved Harry Potter's life earlier that night, risking her own life by lying to Voldemort to protect him. Whatever her motivations had been, she had prevented the Battle of Hogwarts from being lost—lost by the side opposing Voldemort, that was.
Narcissa's sister, Andromeda Tonks, was expected to arrive later that day, bringing with her her baby grandson, Teddy. She had already lost her husband earlier in the year, and now she would mourn for the loss of her daughter and a son-in-law she had barely known. Parents that Teddy Lupin would not even remember.
If only things had turned out differently, Ron thought to himself. If only I had known then what I know now. It was the kind of useless thought that everyone has from time to time, disregarded by the world and soon forgotten by ourselves. This time though, something was listening.
If only I could have it to do over again, Ron thought, and his world began to spin.