A nineteen years later fanfic with some rather serious changes to the Deathly Hollows canon. Most who are dead stay dead, but what becomes of the world when it's heroes step down. That's the question asked here, and it's answered in a rather bleak manner.
Intro: A new Sort of Sorting
When happy unravels, all we have is an ending.
But unlike those story books that end "and they lived happily ever after" the ever after is fatally flawed and thus always falls apart. Unlike taught history where the pages run out with some happy go lucky phrase about how "and this is why the way the world is now" with a barely concealed "what a glorious age this is" jammed between the lines there is a bitter truth. One censored from the young, and at times, the old. The true historians (even poor Professor Bins who has nothing more than an eternity before him reciting the same facts) know this truth. History never ends, merely marches ahead to time's never ending tempo.
And, tragically, that drive leaves things behind.
Sometimes the trivial is lost, an emphasis to a word here, a person there.
Sometimes though, what's lost is… immeasurable.
Too vast to be replaced, too gaping to be patched by a memorial…
"Albus Severus Potter, come forth!"
No longer does Minevra usher the children forth. A man more bone than flesh with clip board in attendance calls the roll of "those who've yet to be sorted" his voice so dull, this ritual so trivial he yawns through it all, from start to finish. Hagrid's voice, though jovial in ushering the "firsties" forward is dimmed, at the shadows of the castle he is to turn back, and despite the thunder of a conflicted heart he does as he's done since the decree was first passed.
The colors of four are dimmed, the Phoenix little more than ashes swept under the rug, an Order taboo.
As for world order…
Ministry is as ministry does.
Hung before, symbols all but lost in tattered and frayed banners, the four look down, within the dust choked remains of their splendor. A hat, as battered as the banners is offered to each student as they step forward. The hat plopped upon the bewildered head (no explanations offered, nor are the honestly expected) the familiar dark, a whispered, undocumented conversation.
Savored later, for there's little left undocumented these days, but such is not the concern of mere children.
Expectant silence, then the pronouncement.
There are no cheers at each pronouncement, merely "civilized conduct" approved per the ministry. A subdued clapping really, a few smiles perhaps.
Never mind how those smiles are watery, the faces of the professor's strained.
"Hmmm, breaking tradition are we?" The hat murmurs. "Best of luck to you then… We'd best put you in... Slytherin!"
No applause this time, only shocked silence, than that bored voice with it's attendant drawl chimes in.
"The green table, Mr. Potter." A gesture of the board is made, just in case the boy is colorblind or something.
With a blush, the boy complies.