Harry crawled out of the crater near the forbidden forest that was formed by the explosion that had sent Tom to finally meet death. The explosion had been created by the brother wands. The spells had been cast and they met in the middle. The joint moved towards Harry, then it moved towards Tom. It kept the seesaw motion up for what seem like hours to Harry. Finally it moved toward Tom and kept moving. When it reached his wand it exploded throwing both men back and making this crater in the ground. When Harry woke up the first thing he did was check for a pulse on Tom. Not finding one he let out a yell of victory and climbed out of the crater.
All fights had stopped and everyone was watching to see who would emerge from the dusty, smoky hole. Harry stood up and shook himself and said, "Ok, whose next?" Every Death eater still standing threw down their wands and put their hands on their heads, "Good choice."
Harry then started looking around. The ground was littered with bodies, he tried not to look to closely at them, he didn't want to see this and remember what happened. He just wanted to find the Weasleys and Hermione. As he stumbled across the battle field he tripped on something. When he looked up from the ground he saw something he never wanted to see. Ron was laying on the ground with his sightless eyes staring at the sky. Harry's heart constricted and he looked away only to be met with the sight of Hermione not far away.
Harry was devastated, he pulled the two bodies close and held them as he cried. He didn't know how long he had been that way when he felt a hand on his back. He looked up into the sorrow filled eyes of Poppy Pomfrey. She was urging him to stand and follow her to the battlefield hospital as she took the bodies back. Harry numbly followed her, not looking around until she stopped. His breath caught in his throat as he saw her lay Ron and Hermione next to the rest of the Weasleys, Luna and Neville. Harry fell to his knees, they were all dead. Even his beautiful Ginny was laid out next to her mother.
He couldn't stand it. It was too much. He jumped up and ran from the area. He ran until he reached a grassy hill far from the crumbling school. Harry looked at his watch, one minute until his seventeenth birthday, he hoped he never made it to that day. Out loud he said, "I wish no one had died but me. I don't want this life anymore. There is nothing here to live for. Take me away." A star crossed the heavens as he finished and collapsed unconscious on the ground.
At the same time in another place
Neville fought. Every time he finished one off another was there to take its place. He could see his mentor Albus fighting off to his side. More people than he had ever met were surrounding him and fighting with him against the forces of evil. After dispatching his last opponent Neville faced the most evil one of all. "Voldemort."
He stepped forward and started throwing hexes. He had trained for this day for longer than he could remember. This was why he was born. He didn't care if he died as long as he took this worm ridded piece of filth with him. This was the man who had killed his parents. He had taken his life away and now Neville intended to return the favor.
Albus had always told him, stay away from unforgivables, look to your environment to help you do what you need to do. Magic is part of nature and nature herself will help you. He spied his help as he jumped out of the way of a killing curse. If he could just get around to the other side. Neville ran in a half circle dodging curses until he was in the right position. He turned his wand toward Voldemort and yelled, "Protego."
The defensive shield was his strongest spell It picked up the mad man and threw him back into the tree that was burning behind him. He went with such force that the broken limb behind him pierced straight through his chest. Nothing beats good aim Neville thought. He then summoned the body to make sure it was dead. As it was flying through the air Neville caught the sight of his mentor Albus falling. Before he could move Voldemort's body hit him knocking him down. He checked for a pulse and found none so he shoved the dead body off his legs and ran to check on his friend. He was too late Albus was gone.
Some people around him were patting each other on the back and congratulating all those around them. Others were like him bent over the body of a loved one. While others wailed and cried Neville just stared. Sometime later a field medic came and took the body as he did he congratulated Neville on a job well done. Their world was now free at last. Neville stood and wandered off. Hogwarts had always been his home but it wasn't anymore it was barely standing. He walked for a while, he didn't have any place in mind he just walked. He ended up on a grassy hill far from the battle field and his home. He looked at his watch. One minute left of his seventeenth birthday and he said, "I wish no one had died but me. I don't want this life anymore. There is nothing here to live for. Take me away." A star crossed the heavens as he finished and collapsed unconscious on the ground.
The next thing he knew he was falling, "I must be dreaming" he thought. After a few moments he hit the ground and another person. The two people tumbled down a slope and finally came to a stop at the bottom.
Two men opened their eyes and looked at the face not far from their own, "Sorry" they said at the same time then chuckled and started untangling their limbs.
"Are you ok?"
"Who are you?" they asked at the same time. They chuckled and the first man stuck out his hand "Harry Potter."
Harry looked at the man closely, he did look a lot like Neville but not exactly, this guy had a lot more muscular build than his Neville "I know a Neville Longbottom, but he died yesterday in battle against the dark wizard Riddle."
"Well I was in a battle yesterday, but I killed a dark wizard named Voldemort, I won but lost my only family member left so I had to get away for a while." Neville said.
"I understand that." Harry said, "I killed Riddle but lost all my friends in the battle yesterday, I'm up here to get away. In fact I'm not sure where I am none of this looks familiar. I kind of ran away in the middle of the night, I was pretty upset, didn't really pay attention to where I was going. I was feeling sorry for myself and wished I was dead."
"Creepily similar to myself." Neville laughed, "I don't recognize it either. Maybe we've been taken to the plane of hero's."
"What's that?" Harry asked.
"Well it's just an old Norse legend my mentor used to tell me." Neville said, "It's said that when a Hero's battle is done, win or lose, he is taken to a place where maidens live to keep the Hero happy and comfortable."
"Wicked," Harry grinned, "As long as the maiden is my girlfriend Ginny. But if this is the Hero's plane then she may be here getting pampered herself."
"Very." Harry smiled softly, "and beautiful, smart, funny… I could go on for hours. What about you?"
"Huh?" Neville asked.
"Oh, no." Neville said, "Didn't have time, I was training."
"Did you like one of your friends more than the others?"
"Didn't have time for friends. I was training."
"Well Neville," Harry said, "You have one now. Where ever we are we seem to be in this together."
"Perhaps we should get off our bums," Neville said, "and see just where we are. Maybe we should split up and take a look around?"
"No," Harry said, "I think we should stick together until we know what we're dealing with. Might be safer to have each other's backs."
"Sounds good." Neville said, "Top of the hill then?"
"Sure, " Harry said.
The two men climbed back up the hill they had rolled down earlier. At the top they looked across a beautiful vista. Behind them was a mountain that rose up out of the trees. In front they overlooked a valley with a mountain on the other side. In the valley was a lake surrounded by a huge forest that ran right up to the foot of the hill they were on. At one end the valley the forest and lake seemed go on until it was out of sight. The other direction it ended at the grounds of a castle.
"Hogwartsl" Both men exclaimed and then turned to each other.
Before either could say another word a white light formed in front of them. In the light they saw the image of a man.
"My two favorite boys." A voice said.
"Dumbledore" "Albus" the two men said at the same time.
"I'm so sorry you had to experience what you have." Albus said, "You were given a job and performed it admirably. But neither of you had the life that I had wished for you. Harry you had friends but never a family that loved you. Neville you had only me for your family but no friends. You have been granted what you asked for, in this world you both died as infants. Tom Riddle and Voldemort are the same person you fought each in your own world. To have peace here you must fight him again, together. He is stronger here and only together will you triumph. Learn well and protect each other."
The white light dimmed and Harry said as he started to walk towards Hogwarts, "Do you want to start or hear my story first?"
"A prophecy was made before I was born." Neville started.
"The one with the power to stop the dark lord comes, born as the seventh month dies, etcetera, one or the other has to die?" Harry asked.
"You too?" Neville asked, "Bet they have it here too then. My parents were murdered but I survived and I was raised by Albus Dumbledore at Hogwarts, his home. He trained me for as long as I can remember, but it was too dangerous to bring any other kids around so it was always just Albus and I. Voldemort was trying to eliminate all muggles and muggleborns and anyone who tried to protect them. He was doing a really good job of it. I defeated him in the battle but I wasn't fast enough, Albus died in the last couple seconds of the battle. I knew his brother and a couple of his friends but not well. I walked away from the battle to a hill top and told whatever fates there are that I wish I had died, I had no one and nothing to live for, just take me away."
"As you said earlier," Harry commented, "Creepily similar to myself. My parents were murdered but I survived, I was raised by my muggle Aunt and Uncle who hated me. I didn't get any training but I learned magic once I went to Hogwarts. Which to me is a school that had around four hundred students. Tom attacked me one way or another every year and I managed to survive and I learned how to fight. I killed Tom in the battle that took place on the grounds of Hogwarts, but I lost all my friends and their families, very few people of any sort survived. I ran off to a hilltop and yelled to everyone or no one that I wished I was dead, I had no one and nothing to live for, just take me away."
"I just can't picture Hogwarts being a school." Neville said, "I wonder which it is here?"
"Good question, did you ever play quidditch?" Harry asked
"Never heard of it."
"Did you ever fly a broom?"
"Yes," Neville said, "I had aerial combat training."
"Wow, everything was training." Harry said, "Quidditch is a game played on broomstick. I'll teach you if they have it, with your broom training and build I bet any team would love to have you."
"Harry at your Hogwarts there were four hundred kids right?" He nodded and Neville said nervously, "I've not been around a lot of people. I've met maybe twenty in my whole life. I don't know if I can do this, I don't know how to act around two people let alone four hundred."
"Tell you what Nev." Harry said putting a hand on his shoulder, "You train me with your combat skills. And I'll train you with what little people skills I have. Grant it I'm getting the better end of the deal here."
"Nev?" He questioned, "So do I call you Har?"
"Not all names can be shortened in a nice way." Harry laughed, "If you don't like Nev I'll call you Neville."
"I don't mind Nev, but Har just didn't sound good at all." Neville said, "And yes I'll teach you if you teach me that's fine."
"Great." They continued in silence for a while when Harry started again, "He didn't say if our parents survived or not here did he?"
"No, but it doesn't matter. We don't have parents here." Neville said.
"Did you ever wonder about them?"
"A little but," Neville answered, "I mean what would my parents do that Albus didn't."
"True," Harry said, "He may have been just fine. But my relatives were… abusive. I always wanted parents who would love me."
"Albus loved me." Neville said, "He would say Neville I love you like you were my own grandson. I want you to survive this war so you must train hard."
"Did you ever do anything fun?" Harry asked.
"I trained, I survived, but I can't really say there was a lot of fun." Neville replied.
"Did you play games?"
"Chess. We played it to work on my strategies and concentration." Neville said.
"Mate," Harry said, "Life here is going to be very different for you. We'll still train and study but we'll also play and laugh. I think your future definitely looks brighter."
"Oookkk," Neville said, "What about you?"
"I don't have to go back to my relatives, life is definitely brighter." Harry smiled.
"What are you the eternal optimist?" Neville asked.
"No," Harry laughed, "I was always moody and depressed before, worried about my destiny to kill Tom. Was I ready, could I do it. Now I've done it once and with my new best friend we'll do it again. It's called confidence."
"You're crazy." Neville said, "I like it. What did your Albus teach you?"
"Not a thing." Harry said, "I learned to fight by fighting and surviving to fight again. I was trained no more than the average wizard."
"What is a normal wizard trained in?" Neville asked, "All I learned was how to fight. I learned how to use defense, charms, potions, and transfiguration to fight."
"What about Herbology?" Harry asked.
"Plants?" Neville looked perplexed, "Never messed with them, you can't fight with plants. Why do you ask?"
"My friend Neville loved herbology." Harry said, "And he used plants in our battle. You'd be surprised what little plant can do."
"We're getting close." Neville said, "That was the muggle repulsing charm."
"And that was the one to keep Death Eaters out." Harry said.
"Keep on your toes," Neville said, "We should be running into the more aggressive ones soon."
"Not necessarily." Harry countered, "If this is a school they won't have those kinds of wards. Too easy for nosy kids to get hurt, then the school is in trouble."
"But…" Neville said, "Won't the kids just learn to stay away from them?"
"No." Harry snorted, "If Fred and George were here they'd be trying to get past them all the time. Give me a rule so I can break it."
"Breaking rules causes chaos." Neville said.
"Ahhh, yes," Harry laughed, "Chaos and Mayhem were their middle names. Lots of fun to be around."
"How can you fight in the middle of chaos?" Neville was exasperated.
"It's not all about fighting." Harry said, "Besides, it keeps the enemy guessing. If you create the chaos they don't know what's going on while you know all of it."
"Unorthadox," Neville said, "Albus always liked a creative plan. He would have loved your chaos theory."
"Well a little more plan in the chaos would have been nice." Harry frowned, "Things didn't go well, a backup plan would have been nice but I've always done the seat of the pants kind of thing."
"I have training and planning," Neville said, "You have experience and creativity, this just might work."
"In coming," Harry said, "On the right."
"Four," Neville said, "Wands out."
"Already there Nev." Harry said, "But lay off the ' I'm going to kick your bum into next week ' stance."
"If they are friendly we don't want them to turn hostile." Harry said.
Neville looked closely at Harry and then copied his stance. Wand in hand, arm by side, walking not marching he thought ready but not attacking.
"They're spreading out. Let's stop here and let them approach," Harry tilted his head, "We also have Centaurs at the rear, maybe three of them."
"Agreed," Neville said, "I wonder if they're meeting each other or just here for us?"
Harry shrugged. After a few moments Albus Dumbledore stepped through the trees causing the two men to raise their eyebrows at each other. The three with him stayed out of sight.
Harry almost started to relax when Neville said, "Wish this Albus already knew us."
From behind three centaurs stepped out and their leader said, "You are trespassing on herd land."
"You are also on our school property." Albus smiled, "May I ask where you are going?"
"Well that's one question answered." Neville whispered.
Harry spoke up, "Sorry, we are travelers. We landed on that hill behind us and we were trying to make our way to that castle we see in the distance. We are seeking refuge. We didn't intend to trespass on anyone."
"That hill," Albus indicated the one they had left, "Did you happen to see what caused the noise about an hour ago."
"We didn't hear any noise." Neville said, "Other than the normal forest sounds and our own conversation."
"What of the light?" The centaur asked.
"We did see a bright white light on the hill." Harry said.
"Did you see the cause?" Albus asked.
"Yes," Harry said glancing at Neville, "we did. If you wouldn't mind lowering your weapons maybe we could sit and talk civilly about it?"