Notes

Alright, so I've had this idea in my head since I read the final Harry Potter book. I never planned on writing it, but I'm taking a Harry Potter freshman seminar this year and we were required to write a short story based on the world of Harry Potter, so what do ya know...I got a chance to write it anyway: ) Basically, this story is an alternate ending that takes the place of chapter 35 and replaces all chapters after that. This is my first and last Harry Potter fanfic.

In addition, I was required to create a visual element for this assignment, so there IS a "trailer" to go with this if anyone is interested.

http://s124 (dot) /albums/p39/Lilwazzabug/?action=view¤t=HarryPotter (dot) flv

Spoilers for, of course, all books (and movies for the trailer), especially Deathly Hallows. Any mistakes are entirely mine, for I do not recall each and every detail from Deathly Hallows.

Enjoy, and...please don't get mad at me if you were happy with the way the series ended.

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Harry Potter And The Way It Should Have Ended

He was back in the lake again. Back in his fourth year at Hogwarts when the hand of fate had been forced and landed him as the first underage champion to participate in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Or that's how it felt, at least. Harry felt as if he were floating; the graceful feeling of weightlessness wrapped around him like warm silk. And, just as it had been in the second task, he could breathe effortlessly.

There was soft keening coming from somewhere and Harry could make out voices around him, but they were distorted, distant, and echoey...they sounded frightened.

"My Lord?" The loathsomely familiar voice seemed closer this time and Harry opened his eyes at Bellatrix Lestrange's stunned-sounding inquiry. He blinked in mild surprise. The forest looked different. All colors had taken on a calm, muted appearance. The sky overhead had turned a pale white and purplish wisps of clouds were moving quickly across it; their movement seemed to coincide with the background noise of wind that whispered softly in Harry's ears. Across the clearing, Voldemort's minions were the only exception to the otherwise-muted hue their surroundings had taken on. They all seemed to be wrapped in dark fingers that bled raggedly into the surroundings as they moved. Every single one of them stood staring with shock-rounded eyes at a figure lying on the ground, its shape blending almost completely with the ground around it except for a dull, dark glow that weakly emanated from the midst of it.

Narcissa Malfoy stood next to her husband Lucious, her expression a little less dumbfounded then all the others'. Dolohov, Yaxley, and Fenrir Grayback stood at scattered distances from what looked to be only a puddle of robes. The two giants towering at the edge of the clearing just stared dumbly. Dolohov took a slow step towards where Bellatrix was kneeling with her boney hand outstretched tentatively towards the prone figure. A choked, gasping sound issued forth suddenly from her bloodied lips and her head whipped around towards Dolohov.

"He is dead," the wicked woman squeaked out. The horror tainting her voice spread throughout the small group like a ripple, culminating in a shared murmur of confusion and disbelief. Harry wished he could get acloser look and before he had the chance to tell his feet to walk, he was moving across the clearing. The others did not seem to notice him as he approached, they were just a flurry of panicked voices as Harry stopped in front of the figure on the forest floor.

The red eyes stared up at Harry, but where there had been hate and pure malice before, now there was nothing; just a blank, empty stare devoid of any illusion of power. Harry looked from Voldemort's lifeless corpse to the monstrous snake Nagini coiled next to him, no longer in the bubble of its master's protection. It turned its massive heard towards Harry. The serpent's eyes locked with the young wizard and they stared at one another. Harry cocked his head curiously as Nagini's eyes flashed red for an instant before the most human expression of fear flitted across the slitted orbs.

A series of shouts sounded from behind Harry. He looked over his shoulder. The battle up at Hogwarts had moved to the forest. A group of tired-looking but still determined witches and wizards stood as one at the treeline. Harry immediately noticed that while the Death Eaters stood out as shadowed beings against everything else, the group across the clearing seemed to glow. The rainbow of different colors littering the crowd all stood out in vibrant contrast. Among the crowd of bloodied warriors—teachers and students alike—Harry saw Mr. and Mrs. Weasley at the front along with Professor McGonagall. Luna stood nearby, her long, silvery hair frazzled and sticking in every direction. A dozen or so house elves stood calf-high at various spots in the crowd.

Harry was still scanning the sea of faces for Ron and Hermione when all went silent, every single set of eyes in the crowd focusing at something on the ground. Harry also glanced back at where Voldemort lay, but upon turning around again realized that none of the eyes were looking that far across the clearing. Someone in the crowd let out a grieved sound and Harry finally was able to trace everyone's gaze and what it was that held their attention so completely.

A part of Harry had known since he'd woken up to the quiet sound of someone's tears and a whole different world of appearance and sensation. He had gone into the forest expecting and preparing for it. So it was with not too much surprise that Harry found himself looking at his own body, lying lifeless on the forest floor. He looked carefully between Voldemort's and his own body for a few more moments. And he smiled.

All those years ago when Voldemort had killed Lilly and James Potter—the same night he had turned his own wand on Harry and attempted the most deadly of the three Unforgivable curses—he had not counted on it not working on the youngest of his victims. He had not counted on it perpetuating his demise. He had not intended to transfer a part of himself to the child and Voldemort had above all not taken into account what might happen if that particular part of himself were to be eliminated.

Somewhere in the back of his mind, since the moment he'd learned what a Horcrux was, Harry had suspected what the connection between himself and Voldemort was. And after his recent Pensieve journey, Harry was more certain about it than ever before: he was Voldemort's seventh Horcrux. Without a doubt, the action had been unintentional, but even a powerful wizard could underestimate the ramifications of a severe spell such as the Avada Kedavra gone wrong; in fact, Harry had been counting on it.

Movement caught his eye and Harry looked up from his own body to find that Mr. Weasley had stepped forward. His robes where ripped and hanging raggedly in places and a bruise had darkened much of the left side of his face, but the man stood tall and straight and his face was taught with steely determination. The clearing was completely silent; even the wind rushing in Harry's ears seemed to have quieted somewhat. Mr. Weasley took a deep breath, his chest puffing up impressively with the movement, and raised his wand high in the air.

"For Harry!" The booming war cry filled the clearing completely, echoing solidly, rising higher and higher above the treetops until the last trace of it had been swallowed by the ensuing silence. Then came the concurring uproar. The army of wizards behind Mr. Weasley erupted in a cacophony of similar cries and feral yells. Hundreds of wands were brandished in the air and higher, tinier screams could be heard as some of the house elves held up torches they were carrying and waved them about zealously.

Pointing his wand out ahead of him, Mr. Weasley charged forward, closely followed by the rest of the crowd. Harry stepped to the side as the throng rushed toward him. He saw more familiar faces shaped with determination as they ran by. Charlie Weasley, Seamus Finnigan, and Ginny, with tears streaming down her face, all the while a wordless scream issuing forth from her mouth. Professors Flitwick and Sprout were part of the throng, as well as many other students Harry had known and seen around Hogwarts. Again, Harry found himself searching for Ron and Hermione when a loud growl caused him to turn around.

"Corticio!" The normally timid voice was almost unrecognizable in the deep, demanding tone it was sporting, but Harry was able to make out Neville Longbottom's determined war cry and sought out its origin just in time to see a silver jet of light explode from the tip of Neville's wand. The glittering blast hit Nagini with a loud, metallic shing sound and the great snake wilted to the ground, it's giant head neatly severed from its body where the spell had hit it. The dark glow that Harry had seen shining dimly in the center of Voldemort's corpse immediately extinguished and the body morphed into the same color as the ground it lay upon. Harry felt an odd release in the pit of his stomach and he breathed a deep sigh, feeling as if he'd been holding it in for all his life.

As if their master's pet had been the last thread holding them together, the Death Eaters turned from their respective opponents and fled in the opposite direction, followed quickly by the giants, the expressions of fear on their bouldar-sized faces almost amusing. Harry watched with a great sense of triumph and pride as his friends, classmates, and teachers moved as one in pursuit of the late Voldemort's followers. The shouts and pounding of feet faded eventually and the clearing was quiet again aside from the soft whistling of wind that did not disturb a single leaf nor a speck of dust.

Harry looked over to where Nagini lay in a curled heap, then over to where his own body lay at the opposite side of the clearing. Harry was surprised when he saw Hagrid's giant form kneeling next to his body; someone in the crowd must have cut him loose before running off in pursuit of the Death Eaters. While he had forgotten his old friend's presence, Harry realized he was finally able to identify where the soft keening sound he'd been hearing was coming from. Fat, silvery tears were streaming down the short stretch of Hagrid's cheeks before disappearing into his unkempt beard. Harry looked between Nagini's then his body a few more times, taking in what had been the final two things standing between a great evil's demise. A contented sigh breathed noiselessly from Harry. It was finally over.

A crunching of twigs turned Harry's attention back to the woods. Muffled shouts followed and Harry saw an orb of light bobbing closer through the thicket of trees. Two figures, the shorter one supporting the taller, broke into the clearing. Harry smiled, relieved. It was Ron and Hermione. Both looked exhausted and wild-eyed and a little worse for the wear, but altogether in good form. Ron's left pant leg was torn from hem to knee to reveal a bleeding cut on his calf. Hermione had one arm wrapped around under Ron's shoulders and she held her wand aloft in the other, the Lumos spell making the tip glow.

As Harry watched, Hermione slowed to a stop after apparently taking in the sight of Hagrid kneeling close to his own body. The orb of light at the end of Hermione's wand faded and extinguished and her arm drifted numbly to her side. Both her and Ron's faces had gone lax, stolen of all determination that had framed them upon their entry into the clearing.

Ron broke away from Hermione's support and took a limping step forward. His face scrunched with the apparent pain it put on his injured leg, but he seemed to ignore it and continued to walk forward. Hermione caught up with him to help and they moved as one toward where Harry's body lay.

Hagrid lifted his head as they approached. Harry saw his lips move, but could only hear the suddenly-louder wind whispering soothingly in his ears. Ron dropped to his good knee next to Hagrid, staring blankly down at Harry's still body. Hermione melted to the ground on Ron's right. Her face immediately crumpled in tears and she buried her face in both her hands. Ron continued to just stare, then blinked after a moment and put his arm around Hermione, hugging her close against his side.

Hagrid's lips began to move silently again and he jerked his head up, apparently indicating where Voldemort's body lay. Ron looked up and Hermione lifted her head from her hands after a moment, the right one wiping insufficiently at her drowned eyes.

Ron's chin trembled a little. The movement seemed to break the dead calm of his face and his features morphed into a variation of triumph and anger. His mouth opened wide and his lips moved animatedly. Harry could have sworn he heard his friend's yell distantly. He thought he heard something containing "...beat you." and a rather colorful term that he'd never heard Ron use before. Harry smiled fondly; he was going to miss the three of them.

"You'll see them again." Harry turned at the voice he'd been able to hear too few times in his life. Standing across the clearing, looking more tangible than ever, was his mother. "The ones you love always return to you in the end." Lilly Potter opened her arms and smiled warmly at her son.

Harry looked behind him where Hagrid, Ron, and Hermione all kneeled. He took a moment, taking in their faces one last time, letting the torrent of happy memories that each evoked wash over him. He smiled, then turned and moved towards his mother. Harry ran the last few steps eagerly and was finally able to feel the warmth and love of her embrace. He closed his eyes contently and allowed himself to take in the moment that he'd dreamed about so many times.

After awhile, Lilly held Harry back and looked at him. Her eyes sparkled as she smiled again and brushed the unruly hair out of Harry's face. Harry felt seventeen years worth of words pass between them and smiled when every single one went unspoken yet entirely understood.

His mother brushed a hand over his cheek before reaching it across his back and cupping the opposite shoulder. When she moved to his side, Harry realized there was something behind her that he hadn't seen before.

The stone archway was familiar, as were the misty black curtains that blew softly in it. However, the feeling of dread Harry remembered associating with it had been replaced by one of peace. The whispers he had remembered hearing had become voices greeting him cheerfully or saying his name, a number of them familiar. As Harry allowed his mother to guide him closer, the curtains became more transparent until he was able to make out figures behind them.

He grinned happily when he saw Sirius smiling back at him. And his father, James. And Dumbledore, Lupin, Tonks, Moody, and all his other friends who had journeyed through the archway before him.

Harry and his mother paused right at the edge of the now completely translucent curtain. The edges of it blew out and one flicker of cloth brushed the back of Harry's hand, leaving a soft, warm feeling in its wake. Harry gazed around at the familiar faces and the approving smiles lighting them brightly. He looked at his mother who just smiled warmer and nodded. Harry turned his eyes forward ahead again and—with a long exhale of complete contentment—moved through the curtain with his mother to join his father. And Sirius. And everyone else who had come to be his family over the seventeen years of his life.

Epilogue

"Can you believe it's been ten years?"

Ron looked solemnly down at the giant, marble grave stone. A not-yet and most likely never forgotten pain wrapped around his heart as he looked at the moving image set into the marble, the seventeen year-old face of his best friend smiling shyly yet genuinely out at him. Ron swallowed tightly and shook his head.

"It feels like a hundred." His wife slipped her small hand into his.

"You miss him," she supplied gently. Ron simply nodded. "I do too," said Hermione softly.

It had been ten years to the day since Harry Potter had willingly let Voldemort defeat him. An action which in turn, along with the snake Nagini's death, had destroyed the dark lord forever. The search for his followers had gone on for nearly three years. A number of them had been captured and locked up in Azkaban under close supervision of Ministry's top Aurors. Dolohov and Yaxley had been killed defending their lives, and Fenrir had taken his own, swearing his allegiance to his lord before turning his own wand on himself. As for Bellatrix Lestrange...Neville had finally been able to avenge his parents when a fight to the death had not resulted in his own; he and Ginny had married one year later. All three Malfoys had gone missing the night of Harry's death and, despite the Ministry's best effort, were yet to be found. Honestly, no one expected any trouble from them anymore.

Every year, Ron and Hermione—and for the last five years, their son as well—returned to Hogwarts to pay a visit to their friend. Harry had been laid to rest next Dumbledore's tomb beside the lake; all had agreed that it would be the most fitting and honorable thing to do. McGonagall had gone to the Dursley's herself to deliver the news of their nephew's death. They had sat through the details—who Voldemort was and how it all started, how honorable Harry's actions had been, and how much he had changed—quietly and, for once in their lives, respectfully. Vernon had pretended to brush the news of his nephew's death off, but the unusual paleness of his large, purple face had given away his true feelings. Petunia had sat stiffly in her seat with her hands tightly clasped in her lap the whole time and held her thin lips tightly together, but a few tears still rolled silently down her face as she held her son Dudley—blubbering nonsensically and sobbing—in her arms. In the end, they had agreed to let Harry's body be turned over to the Wizarding world, not even saying anything when they signed the oddly-printed consent papers with a peacock quill.

Hermione gave Ron's hand a squeeze before releasing it and kneeling by Harry's grave to fuss over the vase of flowers she had put there the day of his funeral; both vase and flowers were in perfect condition courtesy of the longevity spell she had put on them. Hermione sat back on her haunches and looked up at the picture of her old friend. She smiled sadly and brushed her fingers fondly over the familiar face and warm smile before standing with a heavy sigh and returning to Ron's side. She slipped her arm through her husband's and looked around. The sun was low on the horizon and mirroring its colors brightly on the lake. The grounds were empty and the occupants of the castle quiet in recognition of the day and the young man who forever changed the Wizarding world.

A soft plunking sound came from the lake's edge and Hermione looked over, smiling, as their son picked up another pebble and threw it into the orange and pink surface. The young boy was just a few months from turning six; he had hair as red as his father's, a brain to rival his mother's, and was already showing signs of becoming a very gifted wizard.

Hermione leaned her head against Ron's arm. "You ready?" she asked softly, not urging or rushing, but Ron nodded after a moment.

"Until next year," Ron said to the picture. He reached out and placed a hand flat on the top of the tomb, the marble warm under his palm from the summer heat.

"Bye, Harry," finished Hermione. And they turned towards the lake where their son was still happily tossing stones into the water. Hermione smiled. "He's going to love it here when he starts his studies." Ron also smiled and nodded, pride counteracting some of the shine grief had coaxed into his eyes.

"We'd better go. Train'll be here soon," he said after a few moments of watching the young boy play by the lake's edge. Hermione lifted her head from Ron's arm and stepped forward.

"Harry," she called, and her son looked up from his handful of pebbles. "Come on, love, time to go home." The little boy stood from his crouched position and dropped the rest of his collected rocks into the lake before wiping the mud off his hands and onto his pants. Hermione held her hand out as their son approached and took the little hand in hers. Ron took her other one and the three of them walked back up the grassy hill, a distant whistle announcing the arrival of the Hogwarts Express at Hogsmeade Station.

The End.