What would have happened to Harry Potter's life if things had gone different that fateful night when his parents were stolen from him? What if Snape hadn't heard the prophecy? What if Harry and Voldemort didn't meet that night and Voldemort remained powerful?
31 October 1981
Sirius was running frantically through the forest. He didn't have much time and he knew it. The cold air was hurting his lungs and he could feel the familiar taste of iron and blood in his mouth, but it didn't matter. Nothing mattered now. He could not stop; it was a matter of life and death.
A branch hit him in the face and he felt the hot trickle of blood down the side of his face. He finally reached the back door of the house of his second home and yanked it open.
"He's coming!" he yelled and the beautiful, red-haired woman sitting in the living room gasped. Lily Potter needed no explanation as to who was coming. Only one person, if he could be called such, could bring Sirius to their door in such a panicked state. Her husband, James, was quick on his feet and yanked out his wand.
"I hear him!" Lily exclaimed and indeed they heard a spell hit the front door. "Take Harry!" she begged, her voice quivering when she shoved the baby into Sirius's arms.
"I'm not leaving," he cried out and reached for his wand as James just had done.
James grabbed Sirius arm and roughly pushed him towards the backdoor. "Take him and hide!" he ordered. They heard footsteps in the hallway and Sirius looked at Lily, tears streaming down her face.
"Please!" she pleaded, she read Sirius's expression and added, seeing the look of doubt on his face, "Sirius, please…" Sirius gave Lily a grievous look and in a split second turned and ran.
He ran even faster then he had when trying to warn them. He looked over his shoulder and saw the green light through the windows. He squeezed the child closer to him.
"I've got you, I've got you," he assured him. "I won't let anything happen to you." He heard Lily's screams and saw yet another green light. Warm tears dripped on baby Harry's head and that night Sirius made a solemn vow to find and kill Peter Pettigrew. No matter what it took.
The deaths of James and Lily Potter were not the first or last. Many who refused to join Lord Voldemort were killed. Voldemort, known by most in the wizarding world as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named or You-Know-Who, soon ruled all of Britain. Many fled the country, some chose to live among Muggles. Those who had fought against him went into hiding. Even Sirius was forced to live under the cover of his Pure-blood heritage.
Voldemort appointed his faithful followers Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange to be Minister and Mistress (as she called herself) of Magic. Muggle-borns were banned from Hogwarts and had to attend a special school, led by Headmistress Minerva McGonagall. The school named Improbus, which appropriately meant Inferior, only taught Muggle-borns magic potions for cleaning and cooking and such, all advanced magic was prohibited and if a Muggle-born was caught doing such magic or carrying a wand they would be sent to jail or killed on the spot. All Muggle-borns had to be informed of their magical status to protect the magical community from these Muggle-borns accidentally noticing their magical powers and exposing them to the rest of the Muggles.
However, most Muggle-borns returned to the Muggle world after their forced education. Muggle-borns had no rights in Voldemort's new United Kingdom. They were workers, slaves, and treated as house-elves. They were not allowed to take jobs of any real significance. Should a Pure-blood wizard choose to marry a Muggle-born, said wizard and their children would be banned from all occupations of any meaning.
Naturally, not all magical people followed the rules of Voldemort. The Order of the Phoenix still existed, though it kept a bigger secret than anyone would have liked. The leader of this group was the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore.
Harry Potter was a member of the Order of the Phoenix, also. It was well-known that Harry's parents had been killed by Voldemort for refusing to become Death Eaters; this was, however, forgiven by his fellows at Hogwarts. Harry was raised by his godfather, the very wealthy and powerful Sirius Black, who was also a secret member of the Order.
Harry's best friend was Ronald Weasley, a Pure-blood wizard who Harry had shared a Gryffindor dormitory with during their days at Hogwarts. Ron shared Harry's and most of Gryffindor's beliefs about Voldemort. Ron, like the rest of his family, was an active member of the Order of the Phoenix.
After finishing their studies, Ron and Harry began working for Ron's older brothers, Fred and George, in their chain of joke shops—Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. The joke shop was only their cover, though. In reality, they were more involved in the Order than most.
Sirius had long since disappeared from the magical world, after finally refusing Dumbledore's mission of living as a Pure-blood and becoming a spy for the Order. He was unable to handle the stress of the mission and went into hiding with most of the Order. Officially, Sirius had died from disease, which worked well for Harry. When the word spread that Harry had inherited the Black fortune, Harry was welcomed enthusiastically into the inner circles. Ron however was never invited, even though he was a Pure-blood, many in the wizarding world thought poorly of the Weasley's. It was well-know that Ron's father had a special fondness for Muggles. He was only still alive and not in Azkaban because the evidence against him was lacking.
Sirius's best friend, Remus Lupin, was also in hiding with his wife Nymphadora Tonks. Many of Harry's friends had left London, only Dumbledore knew were they all were.
Harry, now twenty-four years old, was sitting in the Leaky Cauldron, waiting for his Ron to join him. As usual, Ron was late and Harry was getting restless. He stared down into his ale and thought about his godfather. He hadn't seen him for more than a year, and he wanted to see him—badly. It was not unusual for Harry to dream about giving up his undercover mission and join Sirius in the camp, but Harry knew he was far too valuable for that. He had connections on the inside. Many of the Death Eaters called him their friend, which allowed him to get important information. He was also known for helping people with illegal activities, he was one of the best at getting in and out of Britain. Many Death Eaters came to him for help with such activities and he obliged, only to record every item and then bring this information to Dumbledore, of course.
Harry wondered about his godfather every day. He had never been to Sirius's camp; they couldn't risk anyone seeing Harry in the woods. But Harry knew they were all training for the battle against Voldemort, and he badly wishes he could join them.
Harry glanced down at his watch again. Ron wanted to meet him at the Leaky Cauldron so he could introduce him to some girl. Harry knew the drill; Ron would fancy someone and she'd be around for a few weeks before Ron got tired of her. It was usually pretty innocent.
"Can I fill that up for you?" Harry snapped to attention as his thoughts were interrupted and looked up at the person who had spoken to him. He met a pair of brown eyes with small flecks of gold. A very pretty girl was looking at him. Her features were round and she had a warm air about her. She was chewing on the corner of her bottom lip.
"Well?" she asked.
She smiled at him. "Maybe you've had enough," she laughed.
What a smile! Harry thought. The girl started wiping his table with a dirty rag.
"Oh, I'm not drunk or anything, this is my first," Harry stumbled over the words.
"I know, I saw you enter," she answered.
"Oh, OK," he gave her a goofy smile and she laughed a little. Harry looked at her hand that was holding the rag; it looked small and delicate. "Are you making fun of me?" he asked.
"Would I dare?" she joked but didn't look at him, she looked intently down at the rag she was using to get the stain off of the table. "Can I get you another drink?" she finally asked and put her hand on her hip. He nodded and as she turned and walked to the bar he couldn't take his eyes from her. She returned with the drink.
"Here you are, sir," she smiled.
"Harry, my name is Harry."
"Nice to meet you, Harry," she said and put the ale in front of him. She turned to leave.
"And your name?" he quickly said. She turned around again and their eyes met. She looked as though she was unsure of whether or not she should reveal her name.
"Hermione," she answered and her eyes twinkled a bit before she hurried back to the bar to help a customer. Harry kept looking at her; he couldn't put his finger on it, but there was just something about this girl.
He grabbed a handful of peanuts and shoved them in his mouth. He didn't know what had gotten into him. He did not need to be thinking about women at this point in his life. He had far too many important things to take care of. As Mad-Eye used to say, women will only serve as a distraction, which was exactly what he didn't need. Harry had dated, of course, but he always stayed away from anything serious. He looked over at her again. She looked up and met his eyes and smiled before turning away again. There was something there, he just knew it.
After a minute or so he finally grabbed his ale and sat down at the bar. She looked up at him.
"Your glass still looks pretty full," she smiled mischievously. Harry looked down at it. He definitely did not need a refill.
"Oh no, I just thought I'd sit over here for a while."
"Oh you did, did you?" She smiled again. She started wiping one of the dirty glasses but threw him flirty glances.
"So you are new here, right?" he asked and took a drink from his glass.
"Yes, only been working here for two weeks."
"And do you like it?"
"It's good enough. Nice company at least," she smiled sweetly and Harry could feel his cheeks getting hot. She leaned forward and her sweater slipped off one of her shoulders, he fought the urge to reach out and pull it right. He looked at her creamy skin now exposed, it was indeed very enticing.
A customer sat down further down the bar and she walked over to help him, Harry watched her pull her shirt right as she talked to the customer. The customer pointed at something behind her and Harry saw her turn around and reach for some peanuts, the customer tilted his head and looked at her backside. Harry glared at the customer, but also stole a sneak peak of her.
As Hermione poured the new customer a glass of wine she glanced over her shoulder at the dark stranger she had been talking to. He was looking at her very intensely and she looked away. He was giving her a very intense look and she couldn't help being fascinated by him. His eyes had the greenest emerald color she had ever seen.
As she finished with her customer she hesitated for a moment but then walked back to him.
"And where do you work? The ministry?" she asked and leaned against the bar.
"No, I work at the joke shop down the street."
"Really, I walk by there every day and I've never seen you," she quickly stated.
"I work mostly in the office, in the back," he answered just as quickly. "So do you live close to there? Or in that direction?" Hermione laughed and Harry smiled at her, she had a very pretty laugh
Hermione grabbed his glass and filled it even though he hadn't asked. Harry reached out and took her hand as she returned his glass to him. She froze and gave him a wary look.
"Do you like it?" she asked, shaking herself.
"This beer? Not really," he smiled again and let go of her hand. Hermione retracted it but could still feel his touch on her skin, he had warm hands.
"I meant your job."
Harry shrugged, "It's good enough, I guess."
They both became quiet and looked at each other for a moment before Hermione smiled and looked away.
"What?" Harry asked and smiled back.
"Nothing." They locked eyes again.
"So are you allowed having a glass at work?" he nodded towards the many bottles behind her.
"No, Tom would fire me in a heartbeat."
A young man Harry recognized from school waved at her and he watched Hermione hurry over to him. Harry watched her go, he could see the other men in the bar looking at her and he couldn't blame them. She was breathtaking.
She glanced over at him again; he had his back to her now. She could tell he was strong, his shoulders were broad. She walked back over to him.
"So who are you waiting for anyway?"
"Who says I am waiting for anyone?" he said and took a sip.
"You keep looking at your watch."
"You are very attentive, aren't you?" he stated.
"A girlfriend?" Hermione wanted to slap herself, what was making her flirt with this man? She felt a bit embarrassed; it was such an obvious attempt of finding out more about him.
"No, no girlfriend," he answered obviously content with her question, he smiled at her and she bit her bottom lip.
"Harry!" Ron's voice boomed loudly across the bar and Harry spun around. Ron was walking towards the bar and slapped his big hand on the back of Harry's back.
"You're late," Harry pointed out.
"Sorry about that mate, you know... Stuff got in the way." Harry glanced over at Hermione and she was still looking at them.
"No problem, I had good company." Harry looked over at Hermione and she beamed at him.
"Hey pretty lady, can I have one of these?" Ron asked Hermione and pointed at Harry's glass. Hermione nodded and walked away to get him a glass.
"So where's the girl?" Harry asked. "Dropped her already?"
"No, not this time. I found me a keeper!"
Hermione returned with his drink and Ron drank half the drink at once. Hermione walked away to give them some privacy.
"So? What's the story? Do I have to guess?" Harry asked annoyed with Ron's obvious attempt at being coy.
"That's her, it's her!" Ron smiled goofily and nodded towards Hermione. Harry blinked.
"The girl in the bar?"
"Yeah. Her name is Hermione."