A/N: I'm enjoying getting to re-imagine this story again. Hopefully the new description will pass muster this time. The second chapter should be up by the end of the week or monday at the latest. Those of you who've read the original should find this chapter to be fairly close to the original but there are changes so I recommend reading it again. I'm also interested in finding out if you like this version or the original better. Enjoy and Let me know.
All's Fair in Love and War
The wards had fallen. Harry could sense it and knew it wouldn't be long before the door was blown in like Voldemort had done when he attacked his parents here all those years ago. He was in the living room of the house in Godric's hollow. Hermione was nearby preparing the ritual she'd discovered that they all hoped would allow them to permanently escape the hell they currently found themselves in. Neville and Luna stood near a window watching for the enemy.
"They're coming love," Harry said calmly to his girlfriend. "How much more time do you need?"
"Not more than a minute," Hermione responded her face tight with concentration. "I just have a few more runes to draw and it'll be ready."
"We'll hold them off," Luna said confidently.
She'd walked away from the window. Neville walked with her holding her hand while his wand was in the other.
"Don't worry," he said echoing his girlfriend's confidence. "We'll give you the time you need."
Hermione momentarily stopped working and gave them both a hug.
"Don't take any chances," she said sternly. "We've lost too many friends already and don't want to lose anymore. Slow them up and get back here quickly so we can go."
"Should I go with you?" Harry asked his friends only to see them shake their heads. He felt rather useless standing around doing nothing while everyone else was taking action.
"You need to protect her while she finishes or none of us are going anywhere mate," Neville responded patting him on the shoulder. "You've got the most important job here even though it seems like you're not doing anything. Don't worry, we won't be long."
With that he took Luna's hand again and headed for the door. They opened it carefully and slipped out. Soon he could hear sounds of battle and prayed they were all right. He kept his wand ready and watched the door as he reflected on how they'd got here.
After he'd defeated Voldemort, he'd been hailed as a hero. He was inundated with requests for interviews and seemed to be the subject of hero worship everywhere he went. It got to the point that he hardly ventured out into public and had almost become a recluse. Hermione seemed to share his sentiments but Ron, it seemed, couldn't get enough and spent more time making public appearances than he did with them. Ginny seemed to love the attention as well causing several fights when Harry refused to take her to certain parties or social functions. The fact that they'd been broken up since the end of sixth year and he'd told her he didn't feel that way about her any more didn't make any difference. She continued to act like they were still a couple. But he'd already given his heart to another.
He and Hermione comforted each other after Ron left them in the tent and had grown closer as a result. After the battle of Hogwarts, they both realized their feelings had changed both for the youngest Weasleys and each other. They took it slow but soon realized that what they felt for each other was true love. They soon began spending a lot of time with Neville and Luna who'd also become a couple after the war and the two couples quickly became close friends. When they told Ron and Ginny about their relationship neither one took it very well at first but after awhile they seem to accept it and they were all friends again. Then things started to change.
Bill and Fleur were murdered and Harry and Hermione were implicated. At first, the Weasleys stood by him but then more attacks occurred. Hagrid, Flitwick and Mcgonagall were all killed in an attack on Hogwarts and Kingsley was assassinated outside the ministry. Suddenly the daily prophet was calling Harry the new dark lord and his friends his deatheaters despite there being no proof that he was involved in any of the attacks. Percy, not surprisingly, was the first Weasley to turn on him and was quoted in the Daily Prophet accusing Harry of trying to take over the government leading to charges being filed and forcing Harry and his friends underground.
Soon there were ministry sponsored attacks on his friends and their families. Augusta Longbottom and Xenophilius Lovegood were killed in their homes although Augusta managed to take a few of them with her. Harry then went into action to protect everyone else he cared about. Many friends joined him and together they tried to evacuate those being targeted but somehow the ministry always seemed to be a step ahead of them. Andromeda Tonks and Harry's godson Teddy died during their rescue attempt along with Lavender brown, the Patil twins, Seamus Finnegan and several members of his old quidditch team.
They failed to save Hermione's parents and lost George Weasley, Susan Bones Hannah Abbott and Dean Thomas in the process. After that they went into hiding as Harry comforted his friends on their losses and tried to figure out how the ministry always knew where they'd be. Hermione checked for tracking charms but found none yet their hideout was attacked the next day. There was only one possible answer, they had a traitor in their midst. Hermione had been learning legilimency and began passively checking their friends to see if she could determine who the traitor was. It turns out there were two of them. Ginny was harder to read but Ron was an open book and gave them all the answers they needed.
Molly and Arthur Weasley weren't happy when they found out that Harry and Hermione had broken up with their kids to be with each other and apparently decided to take actions to stop it. They forged an alliance with the Malfoys and other pureblood bigots like Deloris Umbridge to force the couple apart. The plan was to frame them for murder and force them to marry Ginny and Ron in order to save each other's lives. Hermione would then become a proper house wife and the boy who conquered would have an acceptable pureblooded wife.
The Hogwarts attack was their intended first target but, when Bill and Fleur were approached, they refused to help and threatened to expose the plot. Molly promptly killed her first born son while Arthur killed his wife and that became the first attempt at a frame up. The subsequent attacks served two purposes. First it eliminated potentially powerful allies from helping Harry and stirred up public paranoia making it easier to move against the savior of the wizarding world. Ron and Ginny were willing participants and provided information to the ministry that led to the attacks on his friends and their families. They also found out that George Weasley had had no knowledge of or part in the plot. After Bill's reaction, they'd kept him in the dark because they knew he wouldn't go along and didn't want to have to kill him too.
They quickly fled in the middle of the night and left the two Weasleys behind and were then down to only the two couples. Shortly after that they were tried in absentia and found guilty. They were sentenced to death without any deliberation or any true evidence that they had committed any crime. Realizing that they were running out of time, they began researching a way to escape that would enable them to fix things without having a death sentence over their heads when Hermione came across a ritual in a book she'd taken from the Black family library. They'd all agreed to try it and she'd begun to prepare it when the wards fell letting them know they wouldn't have nearly as much time as they thought they would.
"It's ready," Hermione said bringing him out of his revelry.
He immediately stepped to her side and took her hand as she started the incantation. The runes started to glow slowly getting brighter and brighter until it started to affect his vision.
"Where are they?" She said anxiously. "They've only got another minute before it activates."
"They'll be here," he assured her while pointing his wand at the door.
Thirty seconds later the door opened as their friends burst through. Neville made a beeline for them and didn't notice that Luna had stopped. She closed the door and put a locking charm on it before heading their way. Neville got inside the circle and panicked when he realized that she wasn't with him. She was in full sprint as the door blew in while the Runes got even brighter. She was a few feet away when a figure came through what was left of the door. It was Ron. Harry fired a curse at him but he ducked out of the way then immediately fired a curse that managed to hit Luna in the back as she dove for the circle. Her eyes went wide as her body landed in her boyfriend's arms.
"Luna!" he screamed while Harry pointed his wand at Ron again but, before he could do anything, the Runes activated and they were gone.
As the runes activated, the light became blinding then Harry found himself in total darkness. It felt like he was floating slowly through space. He also knew he was alone. That wasn't much of a surprise because he knew if it had been successful, he would arrive in a different place than the others. After a while, he stopped floating and soon began to feel aware of his body again. It felt like he was sitting in a chair and he could hear noises around him. There were car horns honking in the distance, people talking a little closer but they sounded muffled and a car radio that sounded like it was blaring right into his ears. A voice he instantly recognized caused him open his eyes and jump in surprise.
"Wake up boy! We're here. I haven't got all day let's get your trunk out of the boot so I can go!"
Harry didn't respond to his uncle he just got out of the car and headed to the back. Vernon met him there and helped him get his trunk on a trolley then looked at Harry and laughed evilly.
"Good luck finding platform nine and three quarters." He said with a sneer. "And don't bother calling me to come pick you up either. You aren't allowed back to my house until next June and if I had my way, you wouldn't be back then either. Now go on, get out of my sight."
With that he got back in his car and drove away without waiting for a response. The ritual had worked. It was September 1st, 1991. He was on his way to Hogwarts for the first time again. He hurriedly made his way to the platform before the Weasleys made their appearance as he had no desire to run into them this time around and quickly boarded the train. He searched through the train until he found who he was looking for. Hermione and Neville had already secured a compartment and were sitting across from each other. Both were looking out the window he hoped watching for him. He opened the door and entered pulling his trunk behind him. He closed the door and was immediately attacked as Hermione threw her arms around his neck and started kissing him. He immediately responded confident that this was his Hermione and heard her moan against him. After a few minutes they parted.
"I guess it worked then," he said smiling at the girl in his arms.
"For most of us at least," a distraught voice behind her responded.
Harry and Hermione immediately parted in embarrassment and turned toward their friend.
"We don't know that it didn't work for Luna, Neville." Hermione said trying to comfort him.
"Ron hit her with a curse and she fell into my arms!" he said anguish evident in his voice. "And I don't know if she was still alive when it activated. I swear, if it's the last thing I do, I will kill him!"
Hermione immediately moved to his side put an arm around him comfortingly and looked to Harry for help.
"Ron will get his Neville," Harry said with certainty. "They all will. We'll find out as soon as we can if our Luna made it but no matter what, Luna is here. If it's not the same Luna we were with a few hours ago, she'll still be our friend and will still eventually fall in love with you. For now, though, we need to plan our next move unless you need more time Nev?"
Neville shook his head.
I'm fine Harry," he said hesitantly. "I-I just need to know as soon as possible okay? I'm going crazy not knowing."
"How does tomorrow sound?" Harry answered him giving him a tentative smile. "Tomorrow's Saturday so after we get our schedules we should be free all day. We can go visit her and find out if she made it or not."
Neville nodded and managed weak smile. Luna had approached Hermione with a special request during the planning stages of the ritual. She wanted to know if it would be possible to send her farther back than the rest of them were going. If they were going back in time to fix things, there was something far more important to her than sorting out the Weasleys that she'd like to fix. It further complicated things but Hermione's intelligence was up to the task and she soon had it worked out. If Luna made it, she'd have been back for over a year now waiting for the rest of them to arrive and probably desperate to see them again especially Neville.
Hermione stood up and placed locking and silencing charms on the door and added an additional one to make people think the compartment was full of nondescript students that no one would recognize or want to bother then sat back down beside Harry.
"Ok, it's safe to talk," she said softly. "What should we do first?"
"Decide on a house I guess," Neville answered. "I really don't want to be in the same house as the Weasleys."
"I don't either Nev," Harry replied. "But I think we need to stay in Gryffindor."
"Why?" He asked.
"Pettigrew," Hermione said simply and Harry nodded his head.
"I aim to catch him early this time," Harry continued. "We'll need someone we can trust to help us at some point and Sirius is at the top of my list of trustworthy people after you two and Luna. But that's not the only reason. There's Fred and George and the Marauder's Map. They really were our friends and the map would be a useful tool while we're at school. Also, it would hopefully keep Dumbledore's overly large nose out of our business for as long as possible."
"B-But Harry," Hermione said looking shocked. "Dumbledore was a-"
"Manipulative old coot who took way too much interest in my life," Harry responded cutting her off. "As a result my childhood was a living hell and my Hogwarts years weren't much better. I figured it out love. My whole life was a setup completely orchestrated by the old bastard so that I would follow his master plan. From meeting the Weasleys to sacrificing myself in that forest and once you became my friend, yours was too. Didn't it strike you as odd that he constantly pushed you to spend more time with the Weasleys during holidays than with your own parents while leaving me to rot with those horrible people?"
"That is strange Harry," Hermione conceded. "But the wards-"
"Were just a good excuse to convince me to go back," Harry interrupted again. "He could have sent them into hiding as soon as he found out how they treated me and let me live with the Weasleys or Sirius or he could've let Voldemort have them for what they did but no I had to go back there for the bloody greater good. God, I hate that phrase. Well, not this time. This time I'm calling the shots on my life and the old coot along with the rest of the wizarding world can kiss my arse."
Hermione put her arms around Harry to comfort him. Any argument she might've had died when she saw the pain in the eyes of the man she loved.
"I won't let them hurt you again Harry," she said softly then kissed him in hopes of lightening his mood. He responded to her kiss and gave her a smile before turning serious again.
"He used you too love," he continued stroking her face lovingly. "I don't think he wanted us to be close at first. I think that's why Ron was so mean to you early on. Once it became obvious you were here to stay he decided to use you as best he could. He used your natural tendency to respect authority and impressed on you the need to watch out for me. As a result you constantly advised me to talk to him thereby keeping him in the loop on all our activities. Then later, we became his payment to the Weasleys for their loyalty to him and helping to guide me on the path he'd laid out for me. That's why they came after us when we had the audacity to choose for ourselves. We belonged to them. Sold to them like cattle by Dumbledore and they refused to give us up."
Tears filled her eyes as his words sunk in. He wasn't sure if he was convincing her or if was just the memories of the world they'd just left until she nodded.
"You're right Harry," she said finally her eyes widening slightly at the realization. "I don't know how I didn't see it before"
Then her expression turned angry.
"Well they can kiss my arse too!" she yelled releasing her fury.
Harry laughed out loud at hearing his girlfriend curse memories of 'Harry! Language!' that she'd said to him countless times echoing in his mind. He then reached down and lightly caressed the area she'd just mention before meeting her eyes.
"If it's all the same to you love," he said flirtatiously. "I'd prefer it if I was the only one who got to touch your lovely bum."
"I feel the same way about yours," she responded saucily while returning his caress with one of her own. The sound of a cleared throat brought them back to reality and reminded them for the second time that they were not alone. They turned toward their friend grinning sheepishly.
"Sorry Nev," Harry apologized. "Dumbles used you too. You were his backup weapon in case I failed since the prophecy could have fit either one of us. But did he prepare you or me for that matter? No, he left us hanging and what information he did give us was in the form of riddles like it would have killed him to just give it to us straight."
"I agree Harry," Neville responded seriously. "And I don't think we have any other choice. We have to walk in there tonight and kill the old fart straightaway."
His face remained serious and Harry started to get worried he meant it until his face broke into a grin. Harry laughed in relief and Neville laughed as well. Hermione joined them and when they were done all the tension had been released and they were more relaxed.
"Thanks Nev," Hermione said when they'd calmed down. "We needed that."
"No problem," he replied smiling then turned serious again. "But all kidding aside, If Luna didn't make it back, I will kill them all or die trying starting with Ron Weasley."
Harry returned his serious expression as he met his eyes.
"If she didn't make it back," he responded. "We'll help you."
He understood how his friend felt. If it had been Hermione that'd been hit with a curse, he was quite sure he'd have waited for the Weasleys at the platform and killed them on sight. Hermione nodded her agreement as well. They wouldn't be playing around with stunners anymore. Their enemies would lose a limb or their lives but, either way, once they were down they would stay there.
"Trust me Nev," he continued. "I expect that, eventually, we will kill them either way but I think a quick death is too easy for them. I think we need to make their lives a living hell first like they did ours then finish them off like they tried to do to us."
"Have something specific in mind?" Neville asked.
"I have a few thoughts," he responded. "But I think the two of us along with our brilliant girlfriends can come up with even better ideas."
A brief shadow of fear passed over Neville's face at the mention of Luna but then the smile returned. The rest of the trip went by without incident. Thanks to Hermione's charms, Draco and his goons passed right by their compartment as did Ron. Neville tensed up momentarily when he saw the redhead but calmed down after he was gone.
"He's probably under orders from the old coot and his mother to befriend me on the train." Harry said of his former best friend. "Unfortunately they're going to be terribly disappointed."
His friends laughed and they spent the rest of the trip acting like the kids they appeared to be. They played several games of exploding snap along with gobstones. Harry once again bought out the snack cart and, without Ron there, He actually got to eat some of it as did the others. He actually smiled at the thought of Ron having to eat the sandwich his mum had sent with him.
Soon it was time to put their robes on. Hermione went to the bathroom to change while the boys changed in the compartment. When she returned they chatted pleasantly while they waited for the train to arrive at Hogsmead. Harry thought about Hedwig who was down with the trunks waiting to be taken to the castle along with all the other student's belongings when something occurred to him.
"We can't use Hedwig for any 'official' letters," he said to his friends. "She's too recognizable. We'll have to use school or post owls and just use her on letters to your parents," he said to his girlfriend. "Or your gran, Nev or any letter we're not worried about being intercepted or recognized as coming from me."
"Harry! My parents!" she replied ecstatic. "They're alive! I can't believe it didn't occur to me before. I can't wait to see them again."
He smiled at his girlfriend and noticed Neville was smiling too and seemed to be carrying a little less weight than he had been earlier. Harry figured he'd been too preoccupied with Luna, understandably, to realize his grandmother was alive as well. "You can use Hedwig anytime you want love," he told her and was rewarded with a passionate kiss. He made a mental note to try and earn as many of those rewards as he could.
The train finally arrived and they disembarked. When they stepped off the train there were a lot of people staring at them and Harry figured it was because they hadn't seen them on the train. He smiled at how well Hermione's charms worked but wasn't able to dwell on it as a familiar voice rang out through the crowd.
"Firs' Years this way!"
Harry turned to see Hagrid, the first friend he ever had and smiled. It took all his self control to keep from running up and hugging him. Instead, he walked up to the gameskeeper and smiled.
"'ello Harry," Hagrid said smiling. "Got ter the train okay I see."
"Thanks to you Hagrid," Harry responded returning his smile. "These are my friends; Hermione Granger and Neville Longbottom."
"Good ter meet ya both," he greeted them both kindly. "You should stop by sometime fer tea. I live on the grounds you know."
"We'd be delighted to Hagrid," Hermione answered him and Harry knew it had to be hard for her to pretend she didn't know him.
"Good. Well my door is always open ter Harry and his friends." He replied. "Now you'd better find a boat cuz it's time ter head over ter the castle."
They found an empty boat and climbed in. Harry noticed a familiar redhead making a beeline for their boat and quickly pushed off before he got there
"Harry! Wait!" came Ron's voice as they moved away from the dock.
"Well, I guess that answers my question about our meeting being staged." Harry whispered to his companions.
"What do you mean?" Hermione asked.
"When Ron and I first met," he responded. "He introduced himself and when I told him my name he acted like he had no idea. Yet, just now, despite never having laid eyes on me today much less being introduced, he knew who I was and called me by name."
"That bastard!" Hermione replied her voice rising slightly before she caught herself. "I'm sorry Neville, but when it comes to that git, it may just come down to which one of us is lucky enough to hit him with a kill shot first!"
Neville just smiled.
"As long as he's dead," he said cheekily. "I'll be fine either way. It's him continuing to breath that I find unacceptable."
They shared another laugh and chatted about nothing important the rest of the way to the castle.
When they got to the castle, Harry got out first followed by Neville. He offered a hand to Hermione as she got out and she gratefully accepted then they joined the crowd of students making their way up to the castle. He heard bits of conversation concerning the exact nature of the sorting along with several theories and was momentarily taken back to the first time he was here. Professor McGonagall's greeting pulled him out of his revelry and he pretended to listen to her speech as if it was new to him.
When she left them in the small room across from the great hall, he and his friends had a conversation like many that were going on around them so they wouldn't raise suspicion when suddenly Neville was pushed out of the way. Neville immediately grabbed the offending arm and twisted it forcing the owner of the arm to his knees. They may be eleven again but that didn't mean they'd forgotten their training. Unsurprisingly, it was Draco Malfoy. Harry immediately pulled out his wand and pointed it at his two goons. Beside him he noticed Hermione do the same thing a no nonsense expression on her face. He knew that if Crabbe and Goyle so much as twitched, they'd regret it. Draco yelped in agony as Neville leaned down until he was close to his ear but the crowd around him had gone silent and everyone heard what he said.
"In polite society it is considered rude to push someone and interrupt their conversation. I would think that even a pathetic excuse for a wizarding family like the Malfoys would've taught proper manners to their children. In the future, I would appreciate it if you displayed appropriate decorum and requested an audience with us like a civilized person should."
With that he gave his arm one more twist then released him and pushed him towards his friends. Malfoy got to his feet and rubbed his shoulder then sneered at his attacker.
"Like anyone would want to talk to a squib like you Longbottom!"
"I would," Harry responded. "In fact, I was until your intrusion a moment ago and I don't appreciate you insulting my friend."
"You'll soon find out some wizarding families are much better than others, Potter. You don't want to go making friends with the wrong sort, I can help you there!" Draco replied holding out his hand while indicating Neville. Harry just looked down at his hand then met his eyes again.
"Seeing how easily he just took you down," Harry answered him. "I don't think I could pick a better person to watch my back. You'd probably stab it the first chance you got."
He stepped closer until he was right in Draco's face.
"Now let me make this clear." He continued. "Neville is my friend and I will have his back just like he had mine just now. Anyone who messes with either of us or our other friend Hermione here will force us to become unpleasant. We hope that doesn't happen and we can enjoy our time here but you have been warned. There won't be any others, just consequences."
It was said loud enough that everyone heard and understood that the message wasn't just for Draco but for everyone.
"You'd just better watch your back Potter," Draco sneered in defiance.
Harry rolled his eyes. Clearly the git didn't listen.
"I just told you Malfoy," he replied. "I have Neville watching my back so it should be plenty safe from the likes of you."
McGonagall returned ending any further conversation and led them into the great hall. The sorting went pretty much like it did last time and soon they were sitting at the Gryffindor table chatting with their fellow first years. Harry and Neville sat on either side of Hermione making sure no one that they didn't like could get anywhere near her. She was a bit annoyed at the over protectiveness but touched by it all the same. Across from them sat Seamus, Dean and Lavender Brown. Parvati Patil sat on his other side and he was enjoying getting reacquainted with some of the friends who'd stood by him and lost their lives over it. He was having a pleasant chat with Parvati when a voice he didn't want to hear sounded in his hear.
"Oi! Girl!," came Ron's voice in its usual rude tone. "Move so I can sit by my mate!"
Parvati looked up nervously and started to slide over when Harry stopped her and stood up. Ron, not realizing he'd made a mistake, smiled and stuck his hand out like Malfoy had done and Harry wondered how he was ever this guys friend before.
"I'm Ron, Ron Weasley." He said kindly.
An image of Luna falling into Neville's arms flashed in his mind and he found himself wanting to rip the git's throat out right then. He noticed Neville tense up but Hermione had put her hand on his shoulder to calm him.
"Well Ron, Ron Weasley," Harry responded sarcastically. "How is it that I'm your mate when we've never met?"
His smile faded and his mouth started moving like a fish but no sound came out. After a few moments Harry started to sit back down.
"You go ahead and work on that," Harry said finally. "Apparently it's a difficult question at least for you anyway."
There were some giggles around the table except for Neville who was now being physically held in his seat by Hermione.
"While you do," he continued. "Let me put this as plainly as I can. It'll still probably be over your head but we can hope. Parvati is my friend and the seat next to me, for this meal, belongs to her. There will never be a place next to me for you. Not now, not ever. We are not mates and in the future I won't be nice. So approach me at your own risk."
With that he sat down and resumed his conversation with Parvati and ignored the redhead. Eventually, Ron's hunger got the best of him and he found another seat and started eating. Once he was gone Harry turned to his friends.
"All right there Neville?" He asked his friend.
"It's hard Harry," Neville answered the pain and anger from before back in his voice. "It's driving me crazy seeing him and not knowing if she made it."
Hermione put an arm around him as her eyes filled with tears.
"I'm sorry Neville," she said. "I did it as fast as I could."
"It's not your fault Hermione, it's his." Neville responded soothingly.
"Not knowing is killing me."
"Not knowing what?"
They looked up to see Seamus staring at them and realized they weren't alone and had nearly said too much in their emotional state.
"We're worried about a friend," Harry replied quickly. "She's sick and we had to come here so we don't know how she's doing."
They quickly changed the subject and soon it was forgotten. Once the feast was over Dumbledore gave his speech and bade them good night. They followed the prefect who unfortunately was Percy up to the common room and hung out until it was empty. Harry kissed Hermione good night and watched her walk up to her dorm before he and Neville headed up to theirs. A familiar snoring sound could be heard as they entered the room. He cast a silencing charm on Ron's bed and the room became quiet. He climbed into bed knowing tomorrow they would know for sure about the missing member of their quartet and God help Ron once Neville got a hold of him if she wasn't here because he wouldn't.
A/N: Thanks for reading.