A/N: Yay, a new longer story! And I'm actually working on 'Hermione, I Miss You' right now for those of you interested in seeing it continued!
Come Back to Me
Chapter 1 – An Ending Becomes a Beginning
"Hermione, come back to me," Harry panted, wiping the sweat, soot, and tears out of his eyes, his throat burning. Hogwarts was on fire and dead bodies, human and not, littered the grounds around them. "You promised…" he stopped to cough. "You promised you wouldn't leave me. You said you wouldn't end up like Ron if I let you fight," he said softly. "So please, come back to me." A single tear dropped onto her still face and carved a track through the dirt marring it. "Hermione…come back to me!" he cried.
"She's dead, Potter!" a voice cackled from behind her. "And you'll be joining her right now! Avada Kedavra!"
Harry angrily whirled around shot to his feet, his magic blasting the spell away from him. Voldemort froze, shocked, and backed up as the ground trembled under Harry's feet. The raw power he was exuding was absolutely overwhelming.
Harry thought of nothing but killing this man who had ruined and ended the lives of so many, including his two best friends.
"You think your tricks will intimidate me, fool?" Voldemort shouted, fear driving him to raise his wand again.
Before he could cast a spell though, a giant burst of magic completely disintegrated half of his body below the neck. And as he started dying, his first thought was, My horcruxes…gone? He didn't know how, but the idiot boy-who-lived had managed to destroy all of his fallbacks. And now…now he was dying.
He couldn't let it end like this. He was Lord Voldemort. He didn't lose. He didn't die. Certainly not to the hands of a seventeen-year-old, at that.
No…he wouldn't lose.
As the remainder of his body fell to the ground, he pointed his wand at Harry and flourished it, not knowing what he was doing but pouring every last bit of magic into it that he could.
He wouldn't lose.
The magic slammed into Harry's magic and let out a burst of bright light so hot that it seared Voldemort, who closed his eyes to preserve them for the last few seconds of his life. When his body hit the ground, the Dark Lord found just enough strength to open his eyes one last time, and the ghost of a grin found its way onto his face when he saw that Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, was no more.
That was right. He didn't lose in the end.
"Harry," a gentle voice said. "Harry, it's time to wake up. You'll be late to the Hogwarts Express."
Harry shot up out of bed, sweat drenching him and a wild look in his eyes.
The beautiful redheaded woman, who Harry assumed was the owner of the voice, brought a soft hand to his forehead. "Harry, are you alright? You're not too hot…did you have a nightmare?"
Was that what it was? Harry couldn't…quite…remember. Something about a Dark Lord named Voldemort and Hermione…
"Hermione!" he shouted.
That was right. He had just fought the final battle. He had been fighting Voldemort and Hermione had taken a Killing Curse meant for him. He had destroyed Voldemort, and then…and then…
"Harry?" the woman said.
"Ma'am, you have to tell me what happened," Harry said anxiously, trying to climb out of bed.
But she sat him back down and folded her arms. "Did you just call me ma'am, Harry?" she said, offended. Or so Harry thought, for then she sniffed and grinned at him. "At the very least you should call your mother 'miss.' I'm not that old."
Harry froze, looking at the woman in shock. Mother? "Mother?" he said, repeating his thought aloud. "As in…Lily Potter mother?"
Lily's smile faltered. "Harry, are you okay?"
Harry slowly looked around the room he was currently in, taking in everything at once. The room was filled with items that were completely to his tastes and showed the wear and tear of a younger boy who had once lived there. This was his room. He had grown up in it. This was his mother, who was killed when he was a child.
Yet here she was.
He reached a hand out in awe and gently touched her face, his eyes widening when he discovered she wasn't an apparition but was actually right in front of him. "Mum," he said, the word feeling oddly comfortable as it passed through his lips.
Lily grabbed his hand. "You're really starting to worry me here, Harry," she said. "Am I going to have to have Madam Pomfrey check up on you first thing at school?"
Harry ignored her and stood up, walking towards the door and wondering if his father was alive. "Mum? Is dad…well, you know…"
Lily sighed. "Sorry Harry, but James got called into an emergency meeting today and won't be here to see you off. Winter break will come before you know it, though."
A grin began to split Harry's face as he opened the door of his room and looked down the hallway. He didn't know how it had happened, but he had somehow ended up in an alternate universe where his parents were still alive.
A thought struck him. "What happened to Voldemort?"
"Voldemort?" Lily asked, cocking her head in thought. After thinking hard for a few seconds, she finally shook her head and said, "You're awake now, dear. I don't know what kind of dream you had but it sounds like it was a doozy. Now hurry up. You're all packed up and ready to go, so just grab your stuff and we'll apparate to nine and three quarters."
This was truly amazing. Not only were his parents still alive, but there was no Voldemort? This was absolutely amazing! Did that mean, too, that Ron and Hermione and everybody who died in the Final Battle were all alive and okay?
Still. "How did this happen?" he asked out loud.
Lily shook her head. "Harry, I don't know what you're talking about, but get your stuff ready. Time to go."
"Right," he said, still overwhelmed. He looked around, spotted some bags, and picked them up, then smiled at his mother. "Ready."
She raised an eyebrow. "And Hedwig?"
"Oh," said Harry, grinning when he saw that his faithful owl was alive and healthy.
Lily took a deep breath. "Your last time going to platform nine and three quarters, Harry. You ready?"
Harry glanced at the thing in his hands, looked up at his mother, then did a double-take back at his items. "Er…where's my broom?"
"Your what?" Lily asked, confused.
Harry almost said, Don't tell me there's no flying in this universe! "My…you know…my broom…to fly?" he said, making a small flying motion with his hand.
"I know what a broom is dear, I just wonder why you need one," Lily said.
Harry frowned. "How would I play Quidditch without a broom, mum?"
Lily froze. "You want to play Quidditch, Harry?" she whispered.
This time Harry froze. Was Quidditch some sort of taboo here? "Erm…yes?" he said hesitantly.
She ran up and hugged him. "Your father will be so happy! I knew you'd eventually come out of your shell!"
My shell? Harry did his best to hide his confusion, and as he did, he realized something. My mother is hugging me. He didn't know exactly how to describe it, but it was truly the most amazing thing he had ever felt in his life. A warm feeling spread through him and he hugged her back, happiness radiating throughout his body. He was doing something he thought he would never have the chance to do in his life: he was actually hugging his mother.
And he said the words he had always wanted to say. "I love you, mum."
She pulled back and looked at him, a smile on her face. She ruffled his hair and said, "I love you too, Harry." She threw him off balance when she suddenly side-along apparated them to platform 9¾ , and then said, "We don't have the time to get you a broom before you go, so your father and I will get you one and send it to you, okay?"
"You'll buy me a broom before I get on the team?" he asked, impressed.
She smiled at him. Harry knew that smile, too; it was a smile that said she was proud of him. He didn't know what he had done to deserve it, but it felt really good. "You'll make the team," she said.
Harry was glad for her vote of confidence. He hugged her and she hugged him back, saying, "Have a great year as Head Boy, Harry."
Once again, Harry froze. Head Boy? "Thanks," he said quickly so he didn't worry her again. Then, trying to seem natural, added, "I'll uh…see you over break."
As he started walking toward the train, he turned back to Lily. Now that the shock was beginning to wear off, he realized he didn't want to leave for school. His mother and father were this close to him now, and he had to go to school?
His mother smiled sympathetically. "It's alright, Harry. It'll be better than last year, I promise. I spoke to Dumbledore for you."
Harry's face immediately flamed. His mother was fighting his fights for him? And what had this universe's Harry done that had made last year so bad? He opened his mouth to tell her he didn't want to go anyway, then thought of how she might be disappointed. At least, he thought she would. So he smiled at her, taking her alive and healthy image in one more time, and said, "Bye, mum."
"We'll see you over winter break, Harry," she said, and he nodded and turned around.
He got back on the train without looking back, but once he was on he ran to an empty compartment and looked at his mother as the train began to depart. As if she knew he would do that, her eyes found him immediately and she waved him off the entire time until the train rounded the first bend.
Harry smiled, sighed, and sat down, only noticing then that there was now somebody else in the compartment with him. "Still waving to your mummy, Potter," Malfoy spat. At least some things were the same. "Going to miss her changing your nappies?"
"Looks like this year is going to be just as fun as the last," said another voice, which belonged to a tall, red-headed boy who Harry recognized immediately.
"Ron," he said with relief. He was alive!
"Ron?" he said. "Since when have you addressed me by my first name, Potter?"
Woah, what? Malfoy came up to him and put his foot on the edge of the seat right between Harry's legs as he tried to figure out what was going on. He put his elbow on his knee and leaned in close to Harry, then sneered and said, "And now that you're Head Boy, you're going to let us get away with whatever we went, we clear?"
Harry immediately pushed Malfoy off of his chair and drew his wand. Ron began laughing. "Remember the last time you tried this, Potter?"
Harry snorted. "I've been brushing up on my skills this summer."
They drew their wands, pointing them at him, looking supremely smug. Oh, how Harry couldn't wait to wipe the smirks off of their faces. Apparently this universe's Harry wasn't made of much, but these two were about to learn that this universe's Harry had undergone a major transformation over the summer.
Before either of them could do anything, he pointed his wand at Malfoy's face and yelled, "Stupefy!"
Malfoy was blasted back into the hallway, completely unconscious. Harry grinned at Ron, who was staring at him in shock, and twirled his wand between in his fingers. "Show me what you've got, Weasley."
He took up a defensive stance. Ron may have been his best mate in his old life, but he would gladly have Ron be his enemy if it meant he could still be alive. Ron blinked a couple times at him as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing, turned to look at Malfoy's unconscious form, then smiled weakly at Harry. "Look, I'm just going to leave now, Potter. Good luck as Head Boy, yeah?"
Harry grinned at him. "I don't really need luck, Weasley," he said, though with no malice behind it. This seemed like weird-play acting. He couldn't really feel disdain for Ron, no matter how he must have treated the other Harry.
Harry sighed and sat down, running his hand through his hair as he did so. Everything that was different here was so overwhelming. He really didn't know what to expect next; perhaps finding out that he was a Slytherin?
Okay, so maybe he didn't think it would be that extreme, but things in this Voldemort-free universe were definitely a bit odd.
"You seem to have an unusual amount of wrackspurts flitting about your head, Harry," an incredibly familiar voice said dreamily. There was no mistaking Luna no matter which universe you were in. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, fine," he said, relieved that she was the same.
Luna frowned. "I don't think that's true, Harry," she said. "You seem to have a lot going on in your mind." There was silence for a moment. "Does it have anything to do with the fact that you aren't the same Harry?"
Harry froze. How did she…well, Harry figured, she was Luna after all. And, since she was undoubtedly the same Luna and wouldn't tell anybody else, he said, "It has a lot to do with that, actually," he said. This could be the perfect opportunity to let all this out for somebody else to hear. The second one would be Hermione. She would know how to handle a transition like this. There had to be a book on it somewhere.
Harry snapped out of his thoughts when he realized that Luna was still waiting for more. "A lot of everything I know and knew is different. It's kind of…overwhelming," he said.
Luna slowly nodded. She was quiet for a minute, then looked at him with those surprisingly piercing eyes of hers and said, "I think you just need to take everything as it comes. You'll come to understand and appreciate it all in time."
She stood up and held her hand out for a handshake. Harry hesitantly complied with her wishes.
"Hello, Harry, I'm Luna Lovegood," she said, shaking his hand. She waited for some sort of response, and when Harry didn't give it to her, she said, "I'm trying to help you, Harry. You need to adapt to the new aspects of life in this universe. I'm sure the other me that you knew is different from me."
Harry blinked, trying to make sense of exactly what she was saying. He had a feeling it would be futile to try to explain to Luna that she hadn't changed even one bit. So he shook her hand back and said, "Hello Luna Lovegood, I'm Harry Potter. It's a pleasure to meet you."
Luna finally released his hand. "See, it's not that hard, is it?" she said.
Harry collapsed back onto the seat and Luna took the one across from him. "I guess not," Harry said.
There was silence for a long minute, then Harry said, as a way to break the silence, "So did you come into this compartment to hang out with me? Or…"
"No," said Luna with a smile on her face.
Harry waited for more, then when he realized she wasn't going to continue, asked "Then what are you in here for?"
"The Head Girl sent me to fetch you for the start of the prefects meeting," she said. "You are Head Boy after all."
Leave it to Luna to have to be prompted to have to tell him something important. He stood up and said, "Thanks a lot, Luna. Catch you later."
"Goodbye, Harry," she said before serenely turning her head and looking out of the window.
Harry shrugged and began walking down the hallway, frowning at the amount of people who didn't seem to notice him, evidenced by the fact that people seemed to be bumping into him quite hard. Then he realized that they did notice him, and this was a form of bullying.
He chuckled and shook his head. These 'bullies' had nothing on Voldemort.
Harry knew from what he had heard from Ron and Hermione that the prefects' compartment was the very front compartment, so he made his way up there, ignoring all of the shouts and jeers at him as he passed.
When he opened the door, he was surprised to find that the meeting hadn't started yet. What he was met with instead was a very impatient-looking girl with brown hair pulled up into a loose bun and rectangular glasses that seemed to frame her face perfectly, along with the head girl badge pinned to her shirt. Harry almost called her Hermione, then realized that although she did look like her at first glance and he had been expecting the Head Girl to be her, this woman was most certainly not his best friend. In fact, he didn't know who this person was, but she was certainly channeling Hermione's impatience very well.
"Erm…" he said awkwardly as everybody's eyes turned to him. "S-sorry I'm late."
The girl let out an annoyed huff. "Thank you for showing up when you felt like it, Harry," she said, surprising him. Apparently not everyone hated him here.
In fact, the way she said his name was very familiar. He had heard that voice say Harry many times before. He looked at her again, very surprised as recognition dawned on him, and incredulously said, "Lavender?"
She looked at him like he was going crazy. "We've only been going to school together for six years now, Harry," she said. "Everything all right over there?"
He shook his head quickly. "Yeah," he replied immediately, a bit flustered. So while Malfoy was very much the same, Lavender was quite different. "I mean…you just…well…let's start then."
Lavender cleared her throat and adjusted her glasses in a very official manner, then gave Harry one last disapproving look before starting the meeting. Harry sat watching, amazed at how Lavender was so much more mature in this universe than his own. She conducted the meeting with ease and a smile on her face, all evidence of her normal ditzyness completely gone.
After she was done and the prefects had left the compartment, Lavender turned to Harry and smiled. "You excited for this year, Harry?" she asked. "We get a common room all to ourselves!"
Harry honestly couldn't tell if she was being sarcastic.
"I'm glad we'll get to spend some more time together," she continued. "You're a good guy, and I wish we could have been sorted into the same house."
Harry blinked, though he really wasn't taken aback. There were so many weird things going on here and this was probably one of the most normal. Judging by how she looked and acted, she was probably a Ravenclaw. "Well, thanks," he replied humbly.
She tilted her head and smiled at him, then said, "What happened over the summer that changed you so much?"
Harry was somehow caught off-guard yet again. She could tell from this little of an interaction? He smiled back at her and cryptically said, "You know, it's just one of those things."
She made a thoughtful noise and stood up. "Fair enough," she said with a shrug. When she got to the door, she smiled at him over her shoulder and said, "See you at school."
He nodded at her and she left the compartment, leaving Harry alone again. After everything that had already happened today, it seemed that his previous life had taken place…well, a lifetime ago. Everything new here shouted to him that this was a prime opportunity for a fresh start, and his mind seemed to be doing its best to bury his past in the deepest recesses of his mind.
The only memory that wouldn't go away was the feeling of Hermione's dead body in his arms. That may have been the single most horrifying moment of his life, and he figured he needed to see her alive once more to bury that memory for good. He wished there was some sort of erase function for his memories.
Life without Ron had been bad enough to be honest, but a life without Hermione would be a life without living. If he hadn't been blasted into this alternate universe, he didn't know what he would have done with his old life.
He probably would have killed himself.
The thought-train regarding Hermione wouldn't so slow down; in fact, it seemed to be picking up speed, and he soon found himself recalling their time together. Despite everything that had happened, up until the end of her life that had been the happiest seven years of his.
Soon enough Harry saw Hogwarts in the distance, and felt a nervous anticipation begin growing in his stomach. Once he got in the castle, he would be seeing Hermione again for the first time. Would she be the same, and would they be friends? And honestly, he didn't know how he would react. Also, he didn't know why he was feeling so nervous and over-thinking things. They were best friends – he didn't know why anything would be awkward about seeing her again.
The train came to a stop and Harry shook his head of his thoughts, now caught more off-guard than earlier. Why were his thoughts so weird about Hermione? He went over to a carriage and got in one, and was joined by several younger students – third years by the look of other students chatted about inane third-year things while Harry stared boredly at the castle, that pit of nervousness still growing in his stomach despite his efforts to try to get it to stop.
Once they arrived at the castle, Harry practically ran to the Great Hall, eagerness, anticipation, and nervousness all threatening to overwhelm him at once. He had already seen almost everyone else of importance, yet none of them held as much importance as she.
"Harry, are you going to come sit?" a voice Harry recognized as Luna's asked him from behind.
Without his eyes leaving the steady flow of students, he distractedly responded, "Yeah," and began walking towards the Gryffindor table.
"Harry, where are you going?" Luna asked from behind him.
This did make Harry turn around. "To the Gryffindor table, like I'm supposed to," he said, looking at her oddly.
She pointed to his chest. "Look at your robes, Harry. You might have been in Gryffindor, but the other Harry wasn't."
Harry quickly looked down at his robes and at the patch on breast, and his jaw dropped. "Ravenclaw?" he said, shocked. New universe or not, he figured there was no way he could be anything but a Gryffindor, let alone a Ravenclaw. If he had to guess a new house that he was in, he probably would have said Hufflepuff, since he didn't consider himself all too smart.
Luna smiled at him. "Yep," she said. "Come on."
Harry followed Luna to the Ravenclaw table and sat, noticing as he did so that everybody else who sat at the table left the two of them a wide berth. Harry didn't care though, and craned his neck toward the Gryffindor table to try to find Hermione's familiar curly hair.
Dumbledore began speaking and the sorting started without Harry paying attention at all. He looked at each and every head and all of the faces he could of everybody in the Great Hall, all without finding Hermione. He sighed and slumped down in his seat. There were just too many people and too many heads to be sure that he saw everybody – she had to be somewhere in the hall, after all.
After Dumbledore's speech came a delicious feast as normal, and Harry chatted with Luna about various things, many of them having to do about the imaginary creatures she seemed to be so captivated with. Harry liked talking to her though, since it seemed as though he could say anything he wanted and he wouldn't be judged. In fact, she thoroughly considered everything he said to her. None of the other students conversed with them, and to be honest Harry didn't really care about that. He was glad for it, since it gave him some time to think and process everything.
After the feast, everybody began going to their respective dormitories. Harry stayed, though, waiting for everybody to clear out so he could speak to Dumbledore. He was getting a little worried about the status of Hermione when he still hadn't spotted her by the end of dinner.
Dumbledore must have figured Harry was staying in the great hall so he could have a word with him, since he waited until everybody else had also cleared out. Once everybody was gone, Dumbledore said, "Something on your mind, Mr. Potter?"
Harry scratched the back of his neck. "I was just wondering which house Hermione is in," he said.
"Hermione…" Dumbledore said, grasping for the name.
"Hermione Granger," he said. "Super smart, in the same year as me."
Dumbledore's brows furrowed as he thought harder. Finally, after a few seconds, he looked up at Harry and said, "Nobody by the name of Granger attends this school, Mr. Potter."