Hello, all. I still have another story I am working on—chapter's nearly finished, honest. But, this idea came to me and wouldn't leave. So, I'm going to be writing this fic mostly as an exercise to make myself write every day or at least every other day. So, the chapters could be as little as a paragraph or two, to a bit longer, like this one. And there may be quite a few mistakes. No promises. But, I'm putting it out here anyway, because reviews make me feel like I need to keep going. So, Cheers! Let me know what you think.
In the aftermath of the Great Battle of Hogwarts, a lonely boy sat bereaved. His white blonde hair that had been strewn in the wind offset his silver eyes, a mistiness about them betraying his turmoil. His side had lost. Lost.
Though every fiber of his cowardly being hoped for the Dark Lord to lose, his sense of logic wouldn't allow him to truly believe he would. A seventeen-year-old reckless Gryffindor was never supposed to overcome the seventy-ish Heir of Slytherin and by far the most powerful wizard alive, since Dumbledore's demise.
Dumbledore, there's another thought he tried to ignore that sat heavy in his storm of deeds he wishes undone. If only he had taken him up on that offer before Snape had arrived at the tower...
The young man sat surrounded by the survivors, of both sides, some being arrested at wand point, others wailing in lament. He, himself, watched his own father carted off while his mother clung to the hem of the evil man's robes, desperately trying to follow him. The Ministry granted that wish all too easily, the boy thought. They had taken her too.
He knew she would not face as many charges as his blatantly guilty father, having never taken the mad man's mark herself, but nevertheless, he was alone in the world. No family, no friends. If he had ever even had any friends. Slytherins, by trade, didn't often have friendships, but when they did they were immensely powerful. However, this young wizard had never experienced that and even seeing it in others' friendships confused him. Especially his arch-nemesis and company.
Hours after the first wave of wizards began to leave, he remained. He remained motionless as the more influential members of the war left. He continued sitting in the same spot, a hidden alcove across from the Great Hall, as the last few members of the Order of the Phoenix left. And when the last two stragglers, a certain green-eyed savior and his bushy haired sidekick approached the Headmistress right outside his cocoon, he sat as still as the statue next to him.
"But, Professor McGonagall, what about the school?" asked the young witch, her bushy head carrying leaves and sticks in its mass.
The new Headmistress responded soberly, "The school is in no shape to re-open anytime soon, I'm afraid."
"What about our N.E.W.T.s! How will I get a job if I haven't completed them?" He could hear in her voice that she had begun to panic, in a typical academic tantrum from the girl. Like her deeds of the past year would not be taken into consideration... the blonde wizard chuckled to himself. Some things never change.
"Calm down, Miss Granger. The school will open eventually, and you will be invited to return for your seventh year. In the meantime, however, you will just have to get by on your accolades alone. You, too, Mr. Potter."
The curiously quiet green-eyed boy nodded. "I wasn't planning on returning this soon anyway."
His companion about burst a gasket at this news. "Harry! What were you planning on doing then? You have to have an education. No one will take you seriously if you don't take your N.E.W.T.s!"
In a dead-panned response, he said, "I just defeated the darkest wizard of all time, Hermione. Of. All. Time. I think they will most likely take that into consideration, don't you?"
"You can't live off this forever, you know. You've seen how fickle the public can be. They forget in an instant, the second a piece of bad press is reported, you're the attention-seeking leper again."
"I know." He replied, dejectedly.
"Well, Mr. Potter," The Headmistress began, attempting to play the peacemaker, "What were you planning on doing for the next year or two, then, if you weren't going to return to Hogwarts?"
The blonde boy had been wondering the same thing, and was glad she asked.
"I'm going to travel the world a bit. I'm not ready to go out there and have everyone kiss up to me. I don't want to hear their thanks, or listen to their criticisms. I need some time just for me. I finally have this huge weight off me, and I don't want to waste this second chance I've been given by immediately settling down. I want to see the world, China, Japan, Australia—"
"Australia?" cut in the young witch.
"Yes, Australia. Merlin! The moon and Timbuktu if I can manage it! I've never left England, Hermione! I've been in about three places my entire life: with the Dursleys in Surrey, at Hogwarts, and a few weeks in Diagon Alley in London. I want to get out, see things, and experience life."
"I have an idea." She started, "And you can say no, and I will completely understand, so don't worry about that."
"Just tell me what it is, 'Mione."
"Well, what if you started this grand tour of the world in Australia? I need to go there to retrieve my parents anyway, and I really would rather not go alone. This way you'd be with me, and you would ease yourself into your journey by starting off with someone you're comfortable with. What do you say?"
There was a brief pause, in which the hidden wizard wondered why the girl's parents were in Australia—weren't they muggles? Is it common for muggles to need to be 'retrieved' from other continents? Then his line of thought was interrupted when the other wizard finally answered his friend.
"Yeah, alright. I have to start somewhere, and you've done so much for me already, I can do this for you. Besides, it's probably best to start in a country where they speak the Queen's English."
"Oh, great, Harry! I can't wait to find them. I just hope they won't be too angry."
After briefly forgetting the Headmistress was also in the conversation, the blonde was reminded when he heard her ask tentatively "Why would your parents be angry with you Miss Granger? Surely, they'll be ecstatic you are alive after all this mess."
"Oh. Well, you see... I sort of... obliviated them, Professor."
"Yes, I erased myself from their memories and created a new identity for them and they moved to Australia. I just couldn't bear the thought of them being killed because of me. This way, they would be harder to track, and..." she paused. Then added in a more cynical tone, wizened by months of war, "And if they were to be captured, they wouldn't be able to give any information about Harry if they had none at all."
There was an awkward silence, while the other two let that soak in.
But soon enough Professor McGonagall broke the silence, "That was extremely dangerous of you, Miss Granger, but under the circumstances I can't see any better alternative. I admire that you had the gumption to think of that, and the courage to execute it."
"Thank you, Professor." Her protégé replied, her voice laced with genuine gratitude.
It made the blonde a bit nauseous, to be honest.
"So what are you going to do, Professor? How are you going to re-build the school?" The young man added to the conversation.
The old woman responded tiredly, "I'll have to re-build it myself. You can't re-build Hogwarts with magic, you know. For the wards to work properly you have to manually repair the school, one brick at a time, only then can you add the wards to the entire thing. Any magic used in the building process is cancelled out as soon as the main wards are cast. If done improperly, the entire building could collapse."
The young witch gasped, and the hidden youth scoffed at her histrionics. "So you're going to repair the entire building—by hand—and by yourself? Why can't you have help? There are loads of people who would want to help rebuild the school. Everyone loves Hogwarts!"
"Yes, I know they would gladly help, but I can't supervise them all at once and I can't trust them not to cheat with magic."
"Surely if you explained why they couldn't use magic—" the boy began, only to be cut off by his professor.
"Yes, it would do to tell hundreds of half-hearted volunteers that the wards on Hogwarts are non-existent while we re-build the school. If any of the Death Eaters had escaped the Battle, they would immediately attack the building again, as soon as it got out that there are no protective wards on Hogwarts now. No, no, we cannot afford to let vital information like that out. And out it would get out, too. You know the propensity for gossip in our world."
The two younger participants were silent for a moment, lost in their thoughts. The blonde boy, also, was thinking quite hard about something. No, she would never… but what if…? A seedling of an idea began to take root in his mind.
"What if I came to help you, Professor? After I find my parents I can come back here and help."
"That's very generous, Miss Granger, but you didn't come out of this war just to leave your parents again, minutes after finding t hem. No, no, dear child, you need to spend some time with them. I won't have it any other way." She insisted, quite strongly. "Besides, I have a candidate in mind for an assistant, already. I'm sure he would help me."
"Who?" asked the Boy-Who-Lived-to-Annoy.
"You'll just have to see, won't you Mr. Potter?" She teased. "Now, then, the two of you have spent too much time here already. There is nothing more that you can do, and I know you must be beyond exhausted. You both have circles under your eyes that suggest you are more raccoon than you are people right now. So, go on then. I'm sure you have a lot of packing to do."
"You're right, Professor, I think I'm going to sleep clear into next week." Said the boy. "Well, not without trying at least." He added with a pleased laugh.
"So if the wards are down, we can just apparate from here?" his bushy haired friend asked.
"Yes, that's correct, Miss Granger."
"Okay, well, thank you for everything Professor. And do not hesitate to owl me should you need any help."
"I'll keep that in mind. In the meantime, I'll be fine. Hopefully I will see you as Head girl in a year or two, depending on how fast I can repair this castle."
"Head girl, really? How—"
"Yes, really, dear girl. Now, off. Both of you. I need to start cleaning this mess."
With a few more goodbyes, the hidden blonde heard the distinct sound of disapparation, and let out the breath he had been unknowingly holding.
A few seconds went by, and the Headmistress had yet to move from where she had been standing. He wondered to himself why she would just be standing there, not moving. From the conversation he had overheard, she had someone to owl. Her assistant wasn't just going to show up without knowledge that he needed to be here. So why was she hesitating?
"Mr. Malfoy? You can come out now." He heard, and his heart completely stopped.