Harry Potter's emergence from beneath the invisibility cloak is thwarted by a sleeping spell, and Ron and Hermione vanish- the battle ends in surrender. Now, three years later, the Wizarding world believes their Chosen one is dead and his dearest friends are cowards . They live in fear, at the mercy of Lord Voldemort. Just released from Azkaban, a very changed Luna Lovegood is living on the streets and finds herself rescued by George Weasley. After a mysterious old woman visits, they learn the truth behind Ron and Hermione's vanishing and that they suspect that Harry may be alive. Reluctantly pulled into the new rising rebellion, in a new world where good has become evil, evil has become good, and it is impossible to trust those you once called your best friends...can they possibly win?
Very dark in parts, mature content
Heavy description of character death in first couple of chapters
Disclaimer: Harry Potter is the property of JK Rowling
A/N: So, the bad news is that I didn't get much work done on 'The Year After' during my time offline, but I am back on now and hope to have an update on that very soon. The good news is that I have a completely new story, a major departure from anything I have written before, with five chapters complete. They need some work though so...we'll see how often I can update. Please review and give me some input. :)
Please keep in mind that the characters have spent time in Azkaban...they will not be "in character", particularly not in early chapters. Some character traits will emerge later in the story.
22/8/11-So, just did a re-read on this chapter whilst checking something for continuity, and DAMN I had a ton of typos! I did a rewrite and got them all, also did a little changing around. Think it is better now! :) -CJ
A cheer rose from among the battlers as Neville Longbottom pulled the burning sorting hat from his head, from within it, he pulled out a long jewel encrusted sword. Harry Potter's instructions rang in his ears
'Kill the snake.'
He raised the sword, giving it a mighty swing, his swing missed, grazing the snakes head and bringing forth a small bit of blood. Voldemort turned his fury on the young pureblood wizard, he raised his wand…
His curse bounced off an invisible wall, from somewhere, someone had protected the boy. He quickly encased the snake in the crystalline cage once again and vanished her to a safe place. She was his last hope for survival, he dare not tear his soul any further.
His death eaters were under siege from the forest now and more wizards were pouring in to aid in the fight. They were being buffeted into the castle, then into the great hall. From the corner of his eye he saw the Malfoys run off, in search of their precious son no doubt, he would deal with them later.
He was under assault from many sides. The fools actually thought they had a chance against him, Lord Voldemort. They said that he was the most evil wizard in a century, foolishness! He was the greatest wizard in history…he would not lose!
A myriad of curses flew around him, he fought them off easily. The only one who might have defeated him was dead. He had nothing to fear. That was when he heard it, the pre-curser to the fall of his greatest follower.
"You'll never hurt our children again!"
She was dead, Bellatrix LeStrange, his most loyal servant, dead in a jet of green light. From the corner of his eye, a most unbelievable sight appeared, a face that was supposed to be dead. Harry Potter, just emerging from his invisibility cloak. But he had killed him! If he should try to kill him now, would some miracle return him to life once again? It was best to put him out of commission for now, to put him into a sleep so deep that it would take him days to awake…he could deal with Potter at his leisure. He aimed his wand and spoke the curse silently so none would hear or see…
Harry Potter was gone, his face hidden once again by the cloak that had been his savior so many times, but would now be the doom of the entire wizarding world. With an evil grin, Voldemort turned back to those who battled him, throwing them off with a single curse. Then, he aimed his wand at Molly Weasley, sending her to
join her son in death. Her husband ran forward, his face drenched in tears, it was only a moment later that he joined her on the floor. Others came forward, McGonagall, Slughorn, Flitwick…all gone in a flash of light.
He raised his wand over his head, calling forth an enormous ball of red energy…enough to kill them all.
"Your chosen one is dead. You have no hope." Voldemort turned slowly, his face calm, he almost looked bored. "Drop your wands now, or join them."
They looked around, searching for direction from the ones who head lead them into this battle -they found none. They looked to one another, waiting for someone to step forward to take the roles that had been left vacant-yet none stepped from within the group of the battle weary.
In a sound like raindrops, their wands clattered to the floor.
Rise of The Phoenix
Three Years Later-
The streets were mostly deserted when the young woman ventured from her makeshift home in an abandoned building. It was nearly four A.M., a dangerous time to be out about Knockturn Alley, but it was the only time she would do what needed to be done. Luna Lovegood may be homeless and destitute, but she was still proud, too proud to have people see her digging through rubbish bins behind the Leaky Cauldron for food.
She stuck to the back alley's, avoiding the drunks who still wandered here and there on the main street from the many pubs. That was pretty much the main fare these days, now that Diagon Alley and Knockturn Alley had become one. There was no need to separate good magic from dark magic…not anymore…there was only one sort of magic taught at Hogwarts, the only sort Headmaster Yaxley allowed.
Luna pushed the thoughts from her mind and pulled the lid off one of the bins. Luck was with her, Tom had put the food in separate bags from the rest of the trash. Sometimes, she thought he did this on purpose. Often, the food she found looked as if it were freshly made, once she had even found a whole cherry pie and an ice cold container of milk that was no where near the expiration date. Finds like that always reminded her of the feasts at Hogwarts and the old days, the days before the war…the days before the battle.
She hated thinking about the past, it forced her to think about the present, about just how horrible things had become since the Battle of Hogwarts. When she closed her eyes, the shock nearly came back. She saw Harry Potter dead on the ground, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, and the teachers that had taught her so much. She remembered the feel of her wand slipping from her fingers, the clatter of hundreds of wands falling to the floor, being herded into a group and lead away. Then, the numb feeling of being paraded through Hogsmeade - Voldemort leading the way, riding on Bane the Centaur with the body of Harry Potter put on display as a trophy of battle.
She had been ushered into Azkaban, forced to watch the executions of the remaining members of the Order of the Phoenix, Muggleborn classmates and her own father. It had only been a month ago that she had been branded and released, branded with a large D, showing her status -Derided, meaning that she had restricted privileges. D's could only live in certain areas, only buy certain things, and under no circumstances, were they allowed to carry wands. Some deluded themselves into thinking that the D stood for Dumbledore.
Luna, however, wasn't one of them.
There had been talk lately that a new rebellion may be rising. It was foolishness. Luna had tried the path of resistance and had watched her father die for her efforts, she had lost everything,…everything except her life. It was all she had left, she wasn't going to give that up.
"Well, what do we have here?"
Luna froze, she had been careless, so lost in thought that she hadn't been paying attention. Coming toward her now were two men, two men who were much bigger than she. She cursed herself silently, wondering if they were Voldemorts Snatchers or someone like her who lived on the streets. Neither was a particularly appealing option, but at least if they were D's like her, she had a chance of outrunning them. There was no chance of outrunning a Snatcher.
The men came into view slowly and Luna was relieved to see that they held no wands, a quick flash on their hands showed that both had large D's. These days though, that wasn't a guarantee that they were safe. In these times, many good wizards had gone bad.
"What's that you got there?" A man with sandy blonde hair and breath like the bottom of a cheap bottle of wine moved closer. "You been stealing off someone?"
"No," Luna edged toward the end of the alley, wondering if she could outrun the two. "I found it."
"Found it did you?" The second man was somewhat shorter with dark, receding hair. "You're a D too, you packing a secret wand somewhere sweetheart?"
"I think she might be." The Blonde man licked his lips, thinking of the high reward he might collect for turning in a D with an illegal wand.
"Are you both mad?" Luna looked at them incredulously. "You know the penalty for a D carrying a wand is death, you think I'm that stupid?"
"You're Loony Lovegood aren't you?" The blonde man said, moving closer for a better look. A strange smile came to him as he took her in, then he moved back a step, leering at her. His laugh made her flinch. "I thought so."
"Who are you?" Luna looked at the man closely, he looked to be close to her age, but it was hard to tell these days. His face was heavily scarred, he had obviously fought in the battle, the brand on his hand gave proof to that.
"I don't think she recognizes us." The dark haired man laughed "I think we should be a bit insulted. After all those DA meetings too."
"We were always too good for the likes of her anyway."
There was something in the tone, an underlying snobbishness, though it was diminished by time and circumstance. There was only one person she could think of from Dumbledore's army like that.
"Zacharias Smith?" She gasped, trying hard to reconcile the man in front of her with the snobby boy she had known at school.
"One and the same." he bowed exaggeratedly "And my companion, Michael Corner."
"It…it's been a long time." She wanted badly to feel relief, three years ago she would have, but she knew that Azkaban had done horrible things to people. Some had come out evil, some had even been turned to Voldemorts side.
"It has…we should catch up." Zacharias moved closer "You can start out by giving us that food."
Michael moved in next to him, closing the distance between them.
"I don't think I would like to give you all of it." Luna hedged further away. "I could share though."
"I don't think so." Michael moved a step closer, his eyes moving over her body. "You could share something else though…it's been awhile since I had a woman."
"You'll do," Zacharias laughed cruelly "Even if you are Loony Lovegood."
"I think not." Luna turned, running down the alley. She spotted a door, a door with an opening that she was just small enough to slip though… that they were too big to. She pulled on it, but it stuck and she forced her arm inside. A hand gripped tightly on her collar, pulling her backwards and down onto the ground. Her head slammed hard on the cobblestones and she began to grey-out.
"You shouldn't have run." A foggy voice said against her neck "Now were gonna have to hurt you."
"No…" She moaned "Please no…"
She felt her legs forced apart, her arms held up high over her head while a hand slid under her sweatshirt. His mouth covered hers and she bit down hard on his lip, she tasted blood…
"You Bitch!" Zacharias yelled, sitting up and covering his mouth.
"You shouldn't have done that!" Michael laughed "Now you've gone and made him angry!"
The last thing Luna saw was a fist rushing up to meet her face.
George Weasley hated being alone, but there was nothing for it, he was all alone in the world.
Most of his family had been killed during the battle, his mother, his father, his twin brother Fred. Percy was serving a life sentence in Azkaban for betraying the Ministry of Magic, Bill lived in solitude at Shell Cottage-his wife had been deported after the war.
Ron had vanished without a trace, some said he had gone off with Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom to start a new rebellion, some said they had run with their tails between their legs. Even Charlie, who hadn't taken part in the battle, was exiled from the country, and D's,…D's weren't allowed international travel.
But the worst, the very worst thing, was Ginny. Ginny who had gone mad, who refused to accept that Harry Potter was dead and claimed that she had seen him in the Great Hall moments before Voldemort killed their mother. For two years she had been tortured by the dementors in Azkaban and now she lay in a bed next to the Longbottom's and Gilderoy Lockhart, heavily sedated. Her healers in doubt that she would ever regain her mind.
There had been times, just after admitting Ginny to St. Mungo's, that George considered suicide. It was Ginny that kept him from giving up. Sometimes, when he sat by her side, even though she was heavily sedated, he was sure he saw a spark of her former self in her eyes. She was in there somewhere, he knew it, but that spark would never take hold until she could accept that Harry Potter was dead.
The bitch of it was, he could understand why her mind refused to accept it. Ginny had loved Harry since she was ten years old, since the first moment she met him on Platform 9 ¾, and just when it seemed her dream was finally coming true it had been cruelly snatched away from her.
Harry Potter, the boy who lived…the chosen one. The boy who died and left them all alone. George had never seen him as any of those things, he had only seen him as someone he loved like a brother. To the Wizarding world though, he was all of those things and when Harry died, all of their hope died with him.
George looked around at his empty shop. Once, it had been the most popular shop in Diagon Alley, now it was no more. Diagon Alley was no more, combined with Knockturn Alley by Minister of Magic, Dolores Umbridge, while he was locked away in Azkaban. The D on his hand meant he was no longer allowed to own his own business, but because he had owned the building before the war, he was allowed to keep it. Small consolation. He came back to find it and the flat upstairs looted, everything of any value gone. He wasn't sure why he stayed here, there were too many memories, sadness in every corner…yet he couldn't make himself leave. Sometimes, he thought he could feel Fred's spirit here.
He was startled out of his thoughts by a sudden loud noise and the sound of angry voices. He was used to people fighting in the alley behind the shop, but this sounded like someone was trying to break in. He would put a stop to it. He went to a drawer, pulled up the artificial bottom, then picked up his prized possession…the possession that could cost him his life if he was caught with it. He cut through the dark, empty back room, trying not to think of the days when he and Fred used to trip over the many boxes that once littered the floor. The door was slightly open and he heard voices just outside. A woman's voice, afraid and weak, reached his ears.
There were two men, one knelt over the woman, his knee pushing her legs apart. The other man was by her head, holding her arms down. The man straddling her jerked up, his hand over his mouth. "You bitch!"
"You shouldn't have done that!" the man holding her arms laughed "Now you've gone and made him angry!"
George tried to push the door open, but something was in the way. He pushed harder, then kicked out at the rock that held the door closed. He looked up to see the first man hit the woman hard across the face, her body went limp.
"What you do that for?" The second man looked up at the first.
"Bitch bit me!"
"What fun's she gonna be knocked out?"
George aimed the wand,
"Stupefy!" The first man fell
And then the second "Stupefy!"
They fell stunned on the ground, he pushed the door open, grabbed the feet of the woman and pulled her inside the shop. Then, he aimed his wand at the two men again.
"Obliviate!" And wiped their memories.
Quickly, before they had a chance to wake, he dragged them down the alley, far away from the shop. Then, when he was satisfied that they were far enough away, he left them laying and returned to the back room, securing the door more fully this time.
George knelt and picked the woman up in his arms and carried her back through the dark back room, through the shop and up to the flat upstairs. He lay her on the bed in his bedroom, then went into the kitchen for a basin of water and a first aid kit. He hid the wand in a secret compartment under a cabinet, then returned to the woman. She was very dirty, her clothes and short blonde hair looked as if they hadn't been washed in ages, yet she didn't have an unpleasant smell. She obviously used some sort of hygiene, rare among the usual Knockturn Alley street people.
He washed her face, and as the dirt came off he began to feel a sort of familiarity come through, as if he knew her from somewhere. It wouldn't be unheard of in this day and age. She had the D and she was somewhere around his age, most of the people he went to school with were destitute now. The few he knew about anyway.
But this woman, the cleaner her face became, the more familiar she too became.
Luna felt a horrible ache above her left eye as the fog began to clear, and the more the fog cleared, the more it hurt. Yet, at the same time, there was a wonderful soothing sensation too. She lay still while the lovely warmth moved over her face, down her neck, and then wiped gently over her hands. There was a slight sting, and something brushed over her eye, a tingle and then the pain was gone. It reminded her of when she was little, when she would fall and her father would use a balm to make her bruises go away. Then, the thought was wiped away when the soothing warmth returned. It was so lovely, she couldn't bear to not know the source another moment more and so she forced her eyes open.
The room was dark, just a single hazy candle on the table. She lay on a bed, next to her a man sat, his hands wringing a cloth out in a basin of water. Part of her knew she should be alarmed, yet she remembered the soothing warmth and because of it, she couldn't be afraid.
"Where am I?" She said softly "What happened?"
As the words left her mouth she remembered, being chased, a door that wouldn't open all the way, a fist coming towards her face. She gasped and sat up, her head began to spin and gentle hands reached for her shoulders.
"It's okay, you're safe." He reassured, using soft pressure to lay her back against the pillows. "I won't hurt you."
Luna nodded and looked up at him. He was very familiar, yet she couldn't place him. A quick glance revealed the all too familiar D on his hand. He was broad shouldered and very thin. His clothes were old and shabby and he wore a ratty stocking cap. Yet there was something about his face, something in his soft brown eyes that put her at ease, the certain knowledge that she knew him, even though she couldn't place him.
"I believe you." She said softly, "I'm probably crazy, but I believe you. I'm pretty sure I know you. Of course, I knew the two in the alley too and that didn't help me."
"Not all D's have turned into criminals." He sighed and turned away slightly, tossing a pot of instant bruise remover balm onto the table next to the bed. "Some of us have managed to hold onto our morals."
"Oh, no…" She reached for his hand "Of course not, I'd like to think I am one who has held onto mine. Even though I have had to resort to foraging food out of rubbish bins."
Luna bit her lip with her admission, what was she thinking, telling this total stranger something that she went out of her way to hide? George recognized the look of shame that passed over her face, he had seen it many times before, in the eyes of others who had crossed his path and admitted the same.
"You're not the only one." He tried to give her a reassuring smile. "It's sad isn't it, to think we've gone from house-elf served feasts on golden chargers to eating out of Tom's garbage bins?"
"Do you?" She asked shyly, then hastily tried to recant "I'm sorry, that's a very personal question…I…"
"It's okay." He smiled again, the smile making Luna even more sure that she knew him. "But, the answer is no, I've been very fortunate. Tom gave me a job, I do a little of this and that, sweep out after meals and take out the rubbish and such. He let's me have food in addition to the little bit he is able to pay me. It's not much, the ministry only allows them to pay us so much."
"It's good you were able to find a job, most people won't hire us." Luna knew this only too well, she had been looking for months with no luck. Always, they looked down at her hand and then shook their heads before turning away.
"Tom is sympathetic, and well he should be. He managed to somehow escape that night and hasn't had to suffer as we have. Of course to his credit, he atones in other ways."
"Like leaving fresh food in his rubbish bins?"
"To be more succinct," George grinned "Having me do it."
"Whoever is doing it," Luna looked away, ashamed by her station again. "I'm thankful, I'd have starved to death by now if not for it."
"It's nothing to be ashamed of," George said softly, his gaze penetrating hers. "We know who to blame for this, and it isn't us."
"Yes." Luna looked away "I'm proud of my actions that night, but sometimes I almost wish we hadn't fought."
He wanted to chastise her for her words, but he couldn't, he didn't dare…he often had the same thoughts. Instead, he pulled off his ratty old hat and brushed his fingers through his longish hair, trying to come up with something to say to her, something that would make it all make sense.
Luna gasped, the bright red hair, the missing ear, this could only be one person. He looked so much older than the last time she had seen him, his hair was wisped here and there with white and receded slightly in front. There were scars on his face, from fights in Azkaban perhaps? She had heard that there were often fights in the men's wing, spurred on by the dementors.
"George Weasley!" Her eyes were huge, so huge that George suddenly realized who the woman was. Only one girl he had known had eyes like this. She looked much older-she wasn't a girl anymore, and her long blonde hair was cut short, close to her head and curling softly over her ears. But there was no mistaking her, those huge silver eyes could only belong to one woman.
"Luna?" His face brightened into a pleasantly surprised smile. "Luna Lovegood!"
Though they had barely known one another, he pulled her into a crushing embrace. She was a face from the past, a link to happier days, proof that once there had been a time when he had been happy…when they had all been happy. Luna clung to George tightly, tears escaping from her closed eyes. It was like holding her childhood close again, almost like being transported back to the Room of Requirement and Dumbledore's Army. Like feeling again for the first time that she had friends.
George sighed against her ear "It's so wonderful to see you."
"You too. I knew I knew you…I just couldn't place you."
"I know, I thought I knew you too." George laughed, a laugh almost like the laugh he remembered. "I guess we've both changed a bit." He smiled and moved back slightly to looked at her face again.
"We all have, it's not just us." Luna sighed and pulled back, thinking sadly about the Weasley's. She knew most of the stories, but there was one she didn't know. One she most needed to hear. " Tell me about Ginny, no one seems to know about her."
"Ginny…" George cleared his throat and looked away. "Ginny's not well."
He told her then about Ginny's madness, about her claims that she had seen Harry alive in the Great Hall moments before Molly Weasley was killed. He told her about Ginny's prognosis…that her healer didn't expect her to ever be normal again.
"Oh George, oh no." Luna bit her lip, tears pouring down her face. "Can I see her? Will you take me…please?"
"I don't think that is a good idea." George looked at her pleadingly, begging her silently to understand why he couldn't heed her request. "She's heavily sedated, she won't even know you're there. Wouldn't you rather remember her the way she was?"
"Would you rather I remember her that way?"
George's smile was a ghost across his face. "I would give anything if I could remember her that way. If you see her, I know you'll leave feeling the same way."
Luna nodded sadly, George was probably right. It was better to remember the Ginny Weasley she had known at Hogwarts. The bright vivacious girl who had stood with her and Hermione Granger to fight Bellatrix LeStrange. The feeling of loneliness came over her again. The realization that, very soon, she would have to leave here, and she would be all alone again. Maybe it didn't have to be that way. She had barely known George three years ago, he was older than her and so much more popular. But things were different now, maybe they could be friends.
"Could I come back to visit you again sometime?" She asked hopefully.
He looked at her with longing. It was so nice having someone to talk to again, it had been such a long time-he had been so lonely. Luna was living on the streets, she was all alone in the world. He had plenty of room-why let her go back out there when there was something he could do to help her - when there was something he could do to help them both.
"You could stay here," George smiled and took her hand again. "I have room, and it would be nice to not be alone anymore."
Luna smiled wanly "Are you offering just because you feel sorry for me?"
"No," George looked at her and Luna had never seen a look that was more sincere before in her life. "I'm offering because I feel sorry for myself. I'm sick of being alone."
Luna sighed and leaned back against him.
The prisoners eyes opened at the sound of echoing footsteps. He blinked, his eyes unaccustomed to the growing bright light. It grew even brighter and he squinted, his eyes trying to adjust behind the frames of his heavily cracked glasses. He forced himself to sit up, once again, refusing to meet his foe lying down.
The voice hissed, the angry red glare fixed on his face. "Are you prepared to surrender your will?"
His voice was a weak whisper, parched from lack of water, yet strong in it's bravery.
"I will never bend to you."
The red gaze shifted, focusing to the only other person in the chamber as he raised his wand. His voice was even weaker, even more parched, yet just as brave.
"Torture me all you want, he will never bend to you."
"Such a pair of brave boys," Voldemort laughed "If only your parent's had been so brave when they met their end. Whining and crying, begging like common muggles to be spared."
Fists clenched in the darkness, they felt anger rage through them, yet this wasn't the time to attack. The time would come, and they would know it. Until then, they had to be strong. They reached out in the darkness, their clenched fists connecting in the darkness at the knuckles.
"Such a show of solidarity." He laughed and aimed his wand
The weaker of the two fell on his side, the horrid burning pain flaming it's way through his body. He clenched his jaw, but even as his body burned, he felt the coolness of his compatriot's hand tight around his wrist. The pain abruptly stopped, then returned again, lessened, returned. Over and over, for what felt like hours, but was only one.
"I tire of this game." He redirected his wand and pointed it at the stronger of the two. "Avada Kedavra!"
The darkness was filled with bright green light and he slumped to his side, his world went dark for several moments, then his eyes opened again. He pushed himself up to a sitting position once again and laughed.
"Better luck next time Tom." He glared at the snakelike face, his mouth twisted up into a mocking grin.
"I will find a way to kill you Harry Potter." Voldemort lifted his chin in arrogance and turned away. "Do not doubt this."
The room went dark again but for a tiny candle burning off in the distance. Harry took a deep breath, then turned to his companion.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes," He breathed softly, his voice echoing his pain. "That was nothing."
"I'm sorry there's nothing I can do to stop him."
"Don't apologize." He spoke softly, he hated it when Harry apologized for things that weren't his fault. It made him feel even worse about the past. "You know why he's doing this."
Harry nodded "Just killing your parents wasn't enough, he wants you to suffer too."
"He can't kill me though." He traced a long thin scar on the inside of his wrist, the scar that had been meant to kill him but instead had ensured that-like Harry- he couldn't die so long as Voldemort lived.
"Were going to get out of this." Harry promised once again. "Ron and Hermione will find a way to come for us."
Once again, Draco Malfoy fought off the urge to remind him that the Wizarding World thought Harry Potter was dead.
Chapter Two Preview
Rumors arise that Harry Potter may still be alive and a dangerous plan of action is decided upon.