Disclaimer: Everything recognizable belongs to the wonderful and talented J.K. Rowling and associates. No Copy Right Infringement is meant. As if my poor attempts at writing could compare with her imagination. :O
Author's Notes: I'm terribly excited about this story. The idea has lived in my mind for some time and I have finally committed the idea to paper. This has been my first opportunity in writing a time-travel story. I hope that the idea (though extensively written about) will be somewhat different. I hope you enjoy the story and please, let me know your thoughts – both good and bad. I love all feedback and have such a fascination of what readers think. This will be a slow build, so if that idea isn't appealing, this may not be the story for you. I believe in telling the back story and trying to build the suspense word by word – line by line. There is nothing truly as beautiful as the written word – it makes our imaginations come to life in the most realistic of ways.
Very special thanks to muhnemma. You have been so wonderful in helping me Beta this story. Your time and dedication are astounding and I thank you.
This first chapter is just the prelude – the background if you will. It lays the foundation for the story. Without further ado and more inane ramblings, I hope you enjoy.
Courage is not the absence of fear, but simply moving on with dignity despite that fear.
- Pat Riley
December 1997 – Hermione's POV
The light of the moon shined through the clouds and gave light to us as we saw what remained of the explosion. The house stood as a frozen image to the atrocities that had taken place here. The damage was irreconcilable as were the crimes that had taken place on that cold night so very long ago. What used to be a two storey cottage nestled in a grove of woods was now a broken down pile of shattered dreams. The second floor was almost demolished. The left part of the roof still seemed intact but the right side of the roof line or what it used to resemble was completely missing. The room was open to the elements. I wondered how many snow storms and how many rain showers that opened room had seen and suffered. It had once been a happy and peaceful place that a little child called his nursery, but now it resembled a demolished battle zone where ideas and illusions were ruined and bitterly taken away. Salt water traveled down my face and fell to the cold ground. I didn't even try to dry my face. My tears came from real pain and it was an insult to try and hide the pain I felt in standing there.
I felt a hand grab onto mine and I gave it as much love and comfort as I could manage. It had become customary for one of us to grasp the hand of the other when one was under duress. It was a sign of love and deep friendship.
I knew Harry wanted to visit Godric's Hollow more than any place we had already traveled. It was a place to him that represented so many different things and caused so many conflicting emotions in him, but above everything else it was a place where he had spent his last moments with his parents.
We approached the wrought iron gate that surrounded the broken house. When one was closer they were able to see that the elements had also affected it. The tarnish on the metal had built up over the years and destroyed something that had once probably been immaculate. It seemed to be something that told the tale of the house's story and the people who had once lived there. They were happy and a beautiful unit. Their family was complete for the time. There was a little boy that was surrounded by his parents' love and never understood the bad thing that waited to tarnish his family. But when they were finally exposed to the one element that wanted to eliminate them, there was nothing to be done. They had to weather the storm of their life and it eventually destroyed them and the life they created.
I reached out slowly with our combined hands and touched the corroded gate. We both let out a gasp of surprise. Before us a sign rose up from seemingly out of nowhere. On it were words written about what had taken place at this very spot and the crimes against nature that had been committed. The house was left as a monument to that time and that fatal event. It was sad to read and brought tears to both of our eyes. Our hands tightened on the other as we read what had been written on the sign by those who had visited over time.
The writing on the sign had initially made me angry, but with soft words of understanding whispered, I began to see what he did. The messages left behind by people who had visited were of hope and love. They were of sympathy and wishes for a better tomorrow. They were for a child who had lost his parents in the most tragic of ways and suffered something so heinous. The words were also of appreciation and love for a boy that no one had really known, but had unknowingly saved them. I did understand these words but I also understood the person who stood next to me and grasped my hand tightly.
I understood he had lost both of his parents on that tragic night. I understood that he had lost the comfort of his protector's arms and the love he would have reveled in for his life time. I understood he had lost his childhood and feelings of joy when someone looked to his beautiful face. I understood that he lost moments that were slated for delight and wonder but ended up in abuse and neglect. I understood that a little boy, barely on the cusp of becoming a toddler had watched through innocent eyes as his mother was killed before him. Then his mother's loving face was replaced by something that resembled a snake as the snake had tried to take his life, but instead left him scarred with something that defined him as the person he was destined to be.
But even with these tragedies that marked the young boy's life, he overcame. He learned what was expected of him and carried the weight of that mantle. He faltered under the strain, and he cursed his lot, but he always rose to the challenge. People always professed to know him intimately, but they were liars. There were only few he gave his complete and utter trust to and if one were counted in that select few then they were blessed. He loved them fully, and forgave them time and time again. He risked all that he was to save that person from harm simply because he loved them. Even with the trials of his childhood and the abuse he suffered he was able to love, and it may not have been a perfect love, but that was alright . . . was there such a thing?
"Alohomora," he spoke gently and with a loud creak and small bits of rust flying into the air, the iron gate opened. We walked in sync through the opening and with a flick of his wand it slowly closed again. The path to the house was an overgrown garden. I had to stop several times or face the prospect of falling. We finally stopped at the entrance to the house and I felt a shudder go through my body. It was as if I could feel the residue of magic that had been used long ago. I was unexpectedly pulled into his arms as he tucked his face into my long bushy hair he adored. I wrapped my arms around his neck and slowly caressed his neck.
"It's fine, Harry." I murmured to him, not in a placating voice, but one of understanding. "We can turn around and leave. I would never think less of you." I felt his breath as it left his body and blew strands of my hair against the skin of my neck. I knew he was gathering his strength from the both of us and I willingly gave it to him. He moved the hair from my neck and replaced it with his lips. It was a tender kiss that lasted for a mere second, but spoke of his thankfulness. He lifted his head again, and I looked up into his hurting jade colored eyes.
"It's something I just have to do, love."
"I understand, Harry. We all have to conquer the ghosts of our past at some point in our lives." A half smile lingered on his lips before he looked up at the foreboding house that had been in both his reality and night terrors. He again exhaled, trying to remove the fright from his body.
"I'll be in after you, love," I said to him in a comforting voice. "I know you want to go in alone, and I respect that choice, Harry, it's your past and your decision." His sad eyes bore into mine and I saw a tear that had lingered in his eye since we arrived finally fall onto his pale skin. I wiped it away because I knew he wanted to enter the house with his head held high and his emotions in some kind of balance. I leaned into his strong, lean frame and tenderly placed my lips to his. They were cold from the temperature but still soft. I put a little pressure behind the kiss and he returned it with his heart. We broke away after a few seconds of indulging ourselves for comfort. "For good luck, Harry." He laughed a little and I knew he had more of the strength and control he sought after.
I took out my wand and placed a strong sticking charm to the structure. The strength of the spell whirled around us as the residue of the magic died out. I felt a little light headed after and quickly sat down. I knew the spell wouldn't last forever but it gave me peace of mind with Harry wanting to enter. I wasn't sure how durable the structure was, so I wanted to give it more stability. I felt Harry's hand on my shoulder and knew he was worried about my weakness.
"I'm fine, love. Just more magic passed then I had anticipated. I'm not sure how long it will last but it should cover you for an hour. Just be careful of other things like debris and pieces of ceiling littering the ground, yeah?" He kissed my check before using my shoulder as leverage to stand. I placed my hand over his and gave it a little squeeze before he pulled it away. The sound of his footsteps faded the further he traveled into the first house he had once lived in. I gave him ten minutes, in which I collected myself, to traverse into the house without my hovering.
I knew this was my chance to look over the house in silence. I had been working on something for Harry for a couple of years. He had no knowledge of what I was doing and that was as it was supposed to be. I had originally gotten the idea from Hagrid. I had been collecting anything I could find of Harry's family, not only his parents, but his grandparents and other deceased family members. I wanted to give him a piece of himself. Harry knew who he was as an individual but not as a member of his family. So after researching through old books, writing owls to people whom had known anyone from his family, scouring through old editions of the Daily Prophet and other publications of the Wizarding world, I had amassed quite a collection of stories, anecdotes, pictures, family trees, and letters written by the family members themselves. It was a project of both labor and love, but something that ended up meaning more to me than I could have ever imagined. I learned much about the Wizarding world though the project, and even more about the family of my best friend. I hoped that when I presented my gift to him he would also learn as much as I had.
The rooms downstairs were silent, so I knew Harry had finally made it upstairs. I grasped the handle to the front door and slowly shut it. I didn't want anyone walking by to know there were actual people here. I looked around the door frame and noticed how many cobwebs had been spun. I became lost in my thoughts as I cleaned some of the webs away and wondered what Ron would have done if presented with this situation. My heart hurt more than I could bear with thinking of him.
My hand hit something hard and I let out a little yowl from the pain. The cobwebs were so thick all I could see was a point sticking out. I reluctantly thrust my hand into the thick of it and started to remove the offending things. I watched as spiders crawled up the peeling wall to safety. When most of the gossamer labyrinth was cleared I was able to make out the point. I gasped and painfully fell to my knees. I was in shock from what I had seen. I didn't understand how it was never recovered and placed to rest. It had been left behind with the wreckage that was the house like it was unimportant. Thick tears fell from my eyes in fast waves. I wiped the tears with my hands so I could get a better look. It didn't seem fair, yet here it was before my very eyes. I shakily reached my hand out and touched the wood that was covered in grime. My heart broke at the state of it, but already knew these were wasted emotions that accomplished nothing. My finger seemed to flare when I touched the wand. I quickly pulled back and waited to see if something happened. When everything was still the same, I picked the wand up tenderly from the ground and marveled at how it heated up my fingers and the palm of my hand that were wrapped around it. A tear fell from my eye again as I lovingly cleaned the grime off of the wood with the hem of my shirt.
I wondered who had been so carless with something that had fought evil. I studied the now semi-clean wand and saw the beauty of it. Heat continued to travel through it and into my chilled skin. I wondered if the wand was thankful that someone had finally rescued it from its ensnared trap and it was giving its thanks. I wondered if the wand had missed the touch of skin against it that it instantly flared with heat. I had never heard of a wand doing such a thing, and I had to admit it scared me a bit, but I was more curious than anything.
I remembered Harry telling us about his wand acting of its own accord and I had chosen not to believe him. I was ashamed of my actions and my response to him. I thought about whose wand this could have been and remembered the story Harry had told me.
"My mother was in the room with me, Hermione. She stood in front of me and risked her life so that I could live. She begged him and that Bastard just laughed at her like she was some silly girl. If I had never hated that monster before, that very moment cemented my hatred." He fiercely wiped the tear from his eyes and looked up.
"Where was your father, love?" I spoke softly, knowing he wanted to tell me the story to get it out in the open and out of his head. His sad eyes returned to me and I placed my hand in his. He entwined our fingers.
"He was down stairs trying to keep Voldemort away from us. He told my mother to take me upstairs. He was dead before he even got a chance to defend himself."
We both had cried after that and held onto each other for a long while.
I was holding James Potter's wand. It was mahogany and eleven inches. I knew from a missive I had received from Ollivanderwhich described Harry's parents' wands. I knew he had originally told Harry when they had first met about his parents' wands, which was what gave me the idea to write to him. I wanted to know the stories of how excited his parents were and how they showed that excitement. I wanted to know what emotions were displayed on their faces and how long it had taken for them to finally find their right match. These were stories that Harry should have gotten from his parents but was robbed of that opportunity. Ollivander said that James Potter's wand was a little different because it was carved with Celtic Knots which stood for eternity . . . the eternity of life . . . the eternity of love . . . and the eternity of nature. I found that information beyond amazing and so interesting.
The wand was even more beautiful than the concept. The knots wove together in long continuous strands and wound from the tip almost down to the handle. I was floored to have been holding something so special. I also knew this would be something that Harry would appreciate for life. I was almost finished with his present and I was going to give everything to him on his birthday, including something that had quickly become the pièce de résistance. I gently touched along the grooves of the knots and cried at the magic I could feel coming from the wand. I cried for the injustice of what had happened to the owner of the wand, and I cried because it had been discarded so easily.
I heard footsteps descending the steps and quickly took out my shrunken rucksack. I wandlessly enlarged it before I stuck the wand gently into it and shrunk it back. I was planning on giving the wand to Harry, but I wanted it to be on his birthday and the surprise he loved the most. I stuck my bag back into my pocket as Harry turned the corner. I could see the lingering wetness in his eyes and on skin. I quickly stood up and made my way to him. He willingly came into my arms as I pulled him down. We stood there for a time before we heard the house shifting around us.
We both pulled away and I stroked the face of my beloved friend.
"Were you able to do what you needed, love?" He just nodded his head, and pulled my hand into his. He walked out of my arms and turned me around with him. I knew this was his way of telling me he was ready. He opened the front door and looked around one last time before we both stepped out again. He lovingly shut the door and fingered the knob with his free hand, that wasn't clutched in mine, one last time.
"And thus closes another chapter in the Harry Potter Saga," he jested, but I read between his meanings. He was finally letting go of something that never had any closure. He would always mourn his parents and their unfair ending, but in coming here he was able to listen to the ghosts of the past and return them to their rightful place.
He let go of the door handle and, with us both giving one last look to the house, we walked silently to the gate, opened it up, and closed it behind us as we walked on. The only thing we could hear was the sound of our shoes as they hit the road, the wind that blew past our ears and the creak of the gate as it closed once more and latched into place, barring the memories to follow.
Author's Notes Continued: I hope you liked it. Please, if you have the time, let me know your thoughts. Hope everyone had a great New Year, whatever your plans were.
Next chapter should be up soon. =)