AN - I love the topic of Harry going back in time to change things and make them the way they were supposed to be. I've read all the stories on PK that deal with this, (some are still in progress), but I've really wanted to write one of my own, so without further ado... Here's Chapter 1!!
A jet of green light shot from the end of Voldemort's wand and at the same time the Death Stick in his hands went flying away from his pale, long fingers and straight to its master, who had come to take full possession of it at last. Harry, his hand outstretched to catch the wand with the unerring skill of the Seeker, became aware of an oncoming bolt of green only a nanosecond before it actually struck him squarely in the chest.
It seemed to take him an age to fall, as he tried unsuccessfully swerving to the side to dodge Riddle's killing curse, he heard only the beginning of what would be a series of screams of terror and agony from the defenders of Hogwarts and cries of jubilation from the horde of victorious Death Eaters. For a fleeting moment, he managed to look at Hermione, tears dripping down her beautiful face, her hands over her mouth as she watched in shock. Green eyes met brown ones for barely a second, a second that contained all eternity, a second that epitomised seven years of friendship, understanding, loyalty and...love?
He would never know, for he broke eye contact with the love of his life, toppling and striking the ground with a resounding boom, the noise signifying the doom of the valiant freedom fighters whose struggle had gone in vain.
Harry's body glowed golden for a moment before fading. The light went out of his emerald, green orbs for the last time leaving them void and emotionless. His body burst into flames as soon as this happened and even before he burned completely, his body vanished entirely. All that was left was two of the Deathly Hallows and Draco Malfoy's hawthorne wand.
Harry coughed as he tried to make sense of his surroundings, looking around him. He got up from where he had fallen and scanned the surrounding area. It was as if he was surrounded by clouds all around and yet, he was definitely walking on a solid surface. It was not unlike the limbo he had entered just an hour ago, and yet there were a few changes.
The whimpering, pitiable, stunted creature was not there this time, however there were two other people sitting on chairs. One of them was an old man who looked as though he had enjoyed everything life had to offer him, and the other was a young woman who looked to be in her early twenties. She looked like she had been crying for some time.
Harry took the seat by the old man and asked in a seemingly conversational tone, but in reality wanting to make sure, 'So we're dead, huh?'
The old man looked increduously at him for a moment, before asking him how he died.
'Well,' Harry said, not wanting to go into the details with this stranger, 'I did something as an experiment pretty sure it would work but it backfired.'
'Youth,' the old man muttered, looking away from Harry and chancing an awkward glance at the woman beside him, as though she too had tried something which had failed. The lady took no notice of the man, too wrapped in her own misery. Harry became curious as to how she died.
Harry didn't bother asking the man how he died, for it was fairly obvious that he had died of old age. He was also pretty sure this man wasn't British, as he didn't recognise the Harry Potter. He looked past the man back at the young girl, wondering for an instant whether she too had been killed. If so, she was taking the news much worse than he was, although that thought sickened Harry. He was dead. Voldemort had won. He had failed the Prophecy, failed the world, failed Dumbledore, failed Hermione.
His heart clenched at the thought of Hermione. He loved her and he had failed her. Tears started leaking from his eyes as he thought of how all they ever shared was that one magical hour that cold night when Ron had left. That was all they had to remember.
That's all she has to remember me by. I'm dead, remember? Harry thought dejectedly, playing with the hem of the clean, white robes he seemed to have received in 'heaven'. Or was it hell he was going to because he had let the world down?
He looked up again when he heard a crisp, confident voice cry out, 'Robert Fiendthorne, a hundred and seven!' He watched the old man walk to a small door, and just like that, he vanished.
He shifted himself so that he was sitting next to the young woman. He looked at her for a moment, wondering if he could ask.
'I was killed, if you really want to know,' she said softly, not looking at him.
'Oh, I'm sorry, are you from England?' Harry asked sympathetically, wondering for an instant whether this girl had died because of Voldemort.
'Yes, I was killed by the Snatchers by order of Dolores Umbridge,' she said, spitting out the last two words.
'Are you Muggle-born?' Harry asked.
'Does it really matter? I'm a person. It was horrible. I'm glad I got to live so long - You're Harry Potter!' she exclaimed suddenly on noticing his scar.
'Yes I am,' Harry replied monotonously, somewhat startled from her abrupt change in tone. He couldn't believe his luck. Even in limbo, he had people noticing his scar and gasping.
'So if you're here, then that means...it's over? Y-You-Know-Who's won?' she gasped, and then quickly added, 'I'm Nora Brighton, by the way.'
'Yes, I guess. I-I'm sorry, Nora. I really tried my best. I always had a feeling that Voldemort could somehow be defeated. But the truth is, Voldemort won the moment Albus Dumbledore fell from the lightning-struck tower.'
'It's ok,' she whispered, placing her hand on his, looking into his eyes. Harry looked away, feeling unexpectedly nervous at being subjected to her stare. For some reason, this woman reminded him a lot of Hermione. The depression that he had managed to ebb away for the time being, came back to him, hitting him like a slap on the face.
What would happen to Hermione now? She was a Muggle-born. His body crumbled as he thought of the certain cruelty they would inflict upon Hermione. Would they give her a painless death by an Avada Kedavra, or would they torture her as a pastime? Bile swept up in Harry's throat as he thought of Hermione screaming in agony, worse than she did in Malfoy Manor. He fell from his seat, slumping to the floor with a strangled moan, his head in his hands. He cried softly, just barely noticing that Nora had also gotten down on the ground, wrapping her arms around him softly. He stayed like that for a moment, trying to imagine and convince himself that it was Hermione who was embracing him, with her light vanilla fragrance and her ever-knowing nature.
'I'm a Muggle-born, I passed out of Hogwarts five years ago. My parents were school teachers. After Professor Dumbledore died, I hid my parents and myself away in a different part of England, and till now, we evaded capture,' she said, crying softly.
Harry looked at her, waiting for her to continue, forgetting his own grief for a moment.
'And then... then they arrived. Umbridge blasted down our main door, and she marched in with ten Snatchers surrounding her. I don't want to go into the specifics but she was the one who killed my parents and my little sister. Then she came upto me and spat in my face telling me that those filthy Muggles should have considered it a great honour to be personally killed by her. She then sat in a chair and then called two of her thugs to...to deal with me,' she said.
'Oh, so then they...they k-killed you?' Harry asked, feeling repulsed by how insincere his words sounded.
'No...they first...played with me, and then they...they killed me,' she whispered.
Anger arose in Harry, he clenched his fists and willed himself not to roar in frustration ; he couldn't believe that anyone could do something like this. She was just an innocent, pretty, young woman who suffered all this because her parents were Muggles. Briefly he wondered if atrocious things like this happened very frequently throughout the last year when they were hunting for Horcruxes.
'I was saving myself, because...because I was going to get married in three months, I even had a r-ring,' she said, now crying openly, rubbing her right index finger over her left ring finger, staring at the ring wistfully, unable to speak any more words.
Harry too couldn't stop his tears as he took Nora into his arms, running his fingers through her long hair, whispering cooing words into her ears. He was always bad at dealing with crying girls, pity he knew what to do with them only after he died.
He didn't know how long they stayed wrapped in each other's arms, taking comfort in the other's presence, but they were brought back to earth, or limbo rather, when they heard a familiar voice call out, 'Nora Brighton, twenty-two!'
Nora stiffened, moving away from Harry, looking fearfully at the door from where the voice had sounded. She got up to go, looking back at Harry with a sad smile. Harry also got up and went toward her.
Taking her hands in his, he said, 'You're a good person, you haven't sinned in your life, which means nothing bad will happen to you when you go in there.'
'But I'm dead,' she complained, trying to rub away the fresh tears forming in her already red and puffy eyes.
Harry only smiled. 'Don't pity the dead, pity the living, and pity those who live without love, an old friend told me, or something to that effect,' he said, massaging the back of her hand soothingly.
A ghost of a smile appeared on Nora's face. Pleased with himself, he added, 'And that same person once told me that after life, death is but the next great adventure.'
He bent over, and cupping her cheeks, he gently kissed her on the lips. It wasn't meant to be romantic, but only comforting and supporting, something a peck on the cheeks couldn't do. She closed her eyes for a moment, and drew away from him, walking towards the door of Fate.
Harry sat down with a sigh, thinking of how he was alone again. He thought of everything that had happened in his life. The night Ron had left. How he had initially just thrown a blanket over a weeping Hermione, but later on had gone and comforted her. They had lain together silently for what seemed like hours, holding each other close, never letting go of the only other person they had in the world at that moment.
Then they had opened up to each other in a way they never had before and started talked about their views, their dreams, their feelings. He remembered how Hermione had told him how she had developed a crush on him sometime in third year, but later pursued Ron, when it was becoming apparent that Harry would never see her that way. He grieved for not seeing what was right in front of him all along, how he had noticed Cho, even Ginny, Ron's little sister ; when all the time Hermione was right there at his side, as she always was.
They told each other they loved the other. Both of them confessed that they couldn't go on without the other in their life and Harry cried silently as he remembered how they had mutually agreed not to do anything, not to act on their affections, because by that time, they had already made unspoken commitments to the youngest Weasleys. Harry and Hermione knew that Ron was their best friend and he would soon be coming back after getting over his anger. He couldn't do this to Ron, he always got everything Ron wanted without even trying too hard for it, and now if he started anything with Hermione, Ron would be crushed. He wouldn't take something that Ron wanted so badly away from him.
Harry cursed softly to himself as he imagined the choice he had made that day. The choice he had made to reject Hermione's love. The decision they had both agreed upon. He had picked what was right, not what was easy.
But still, neither of them wanted to live the rest of their lives without anything ever happening between them. They didn't want to be with other people, knowing that they never did anything together.
He and Hermione agreed that they would be each others' first. Neither of them wanted to lose their virginity to any other person in the world. It was fitting and it was the best they could settle for.
One hour of togetherness was all they had shared. Only one hour. It wasn't fiery, hot and passionate, but slow, gentle and loving. Each stroke that Harry made within her reminded both of them of all the things they had done together. It reminded Harry of the fact that not once in his life as a wizard, had Hermione left him to his own devices. Even now, with the Horcrux hunt going poorly, Hermione was with him, standing firm. She was his rock. Unbeknownst to the other, both of them vowed silently in their minds that they would never forget this night, this one hour. Even before they died, they would take not memories of their lives with their to-be spouses, but that of this one hour.
Weeks passed by, and even after the life and death situation at his ancestral home, Harry and Hermione found only themselves to talk to. Harry began to get a hopeful feeling in his chest that Ron had given up completely on reconciling with them, and by extension, on Hermione.
He approached Hermione in her bed for the first time since that night. He discussed what was going on in his mind, about the chance they still had. To his delight, Hermione agreed. She said that Ron had almost certainly abandoned them for ever, and that it was nearing two months since his departure.
Hermione told him that they would have to be fair to their best friend, and that they would wait exactly another week, before starting what would hopefully be a glorious relationship. Hope blossomed in Harry, things started becoming clearer to him. He couldn't stop smiling ; he felt as though he actually had a future, even though the Horcrux hunt was going terribly.
Three days later, on what seemed to be the coldest morning of that season, Harry arose early and spotted something suspiciously bright outside the tent they were camping in. It led him to a beautiful projection of a silver doe. However, for Harry and Hermione, the outcome wasn't so beautiful as it brought an end to whatever lingering romance they had.
Harry remembered as the days passed by, as more and more people they knew died, till finally all thought of romance was driven away from his mind. No matter what happened, things would never go back to how they were before. Too many people had departed, too many things had changed and Harry and Hermione's friendship never remained the same again.
The last six hours was like a mass funeral for Harry. He remembered with a jolt as Remus and Tonks had both died within seconds of each other, as Fred and George were blown to smithereens, as Hagrid was hit from behind by his old nemesis McNair, as Neville and Luna were hit by random Killing curses. Then brave Kingsley and McGonagall, who were killed by Lord Voldemort himself. Mrs. Weasley, though quite a formidable witch, proved to be no match for Bellatrix Lestrange. Harry still thought that after all that death, he was in with a chance due to the allegiance of the Elder Wand, but apparently he was mistaken.
He frowned as he remembered his last moments on Earth. He still didn't understand what happened. Wasn't the Elder Wand supposed to not harm its master?
Before he could think about the matter any further, he was interrupted by a voice.
'Harry Potter, seventeen!'
Please REVIEW!! I have every intention of making a novel-length fic out of this, and your reviews will motivate me even more!