After the Final Battle

Summary: A darker Harry right after the final battle.

I want to kill Ron Weasley, I really do. I find myself fantasising about killing him and not with anything as quick as a killing curse. No, I want to kill him slowly. I want him to suffer. I want to strangle him, slowly choke him and watch the light dim in his eyes as he struggles to breathe.

Don't look at me like that. Can you honestly tell me he deserves to live, after all the shit he's pulled? Don't forget that the penalty for desertion during a time of war is death. At least I think it is. I know it used to be at one point, but the modern military is a bit more forgiving than it should be. Still, here in the magical world our punishments have always been a bit more…medieval.

Yes, yes, I know, we're not in the army and yes, he did come back. That's not good enough. We were at war and the red-haired Weasel deserted not only me but also the girl for whom he claims to have feelings. Shouldn't that warrant some punishment?

How can you say that? I imagine you asking. Isn't he your best friend? Haven't you been friends ever since you met on the Hogwarts' Express?

No. No, we weren't.

Yes, yes we met on the Hogwarts' Express. But friends - please. I'm sure he thinks we are, but on my part, not so much.

Oh, I made a calculated effort to appear to be friendly with him. He was useful after all. He had three older brothers attending Hogwarts at the same time. One of whom was a prefect and the other two were severely twisted, in all the right ways. Rebuffing Ron Weasley at that point could have meant making enemies with three people who could have made my time at Hogwarts quite miserable. Instead, I instantly gained three additional allies, all for the price of putting up with Ron. Granted Percy wasn't worth it in the end but the twins more than made up for him.

Ron also made a good buffer. He is and was a jealous prat. Even then, he didn't like me hanging out with other people and his abrasive attitude has driven more than a few of them away over the years. Which was all good as far as I was concerned. I don't like most people. I hate hanging around them. I much prefer being by myself. You try spending ten years living in a cupboard with the Dursleys as your jailers and then you can tell me how social and well adjusted you feel.

However, if I ever sat down on my own in the Gryffindor common room I would always be inundated with people coming up to chat and make small talk, wanting to get to know the Boy-Who-Lived. Small talk, ugh, ugh and more ugh. I can't stand it. If I sat with Ron Weasley then I didn't ever have to worry about any of that, as any one with a lick of sense preferred to avoid him. Initiate a chess game and I barely had to make any conversation with him either.

It's actually quite funny. Ron really, truly thinks he's good at chess. Hah! He falls into the most predictable patterns of play. I could have beaten him any time during my years at Hogwarts. I never did, of course. I know him only too well. If I had started beating him regularly then that would have been the end of my quiet time as he would have immediately stopped playing with me. As it is, I barely had to pay any attention to the game. I could sit and think about whatever I wanted and only had to pay enough attention to the game to make sure it didn't end too quickly.

It's not as if he never got anything out of it either. Apart from the fame and attention he got from being associated with me, I have also saved not only his life but also the lives of his sister and his father.

In spite of all that - he still betrayed me. He still deserted me. And that was after he had already proven to be absolutely useless on the Horcrux hunt. All he ever did was whinge and complain. All the bloody time. And then he ran away crying out for his mommy.

Still think he deserves to live? No. Good, I'm glad you agree.

I imagine you're shocked. I imagine a look of absolute disbelief upon your face. This can't be Harry Potter. This can't be the boy who walked into the forest expecting to die. This can't be the boy who was ready to sacrifice everything for his friends.

And you're right. It's not.

I didn't walk into the forest expecting to die. Why on earth would I sacrifice myself for the sheep of the wizarding world? What did they ever do for me that I would be willing to do that? Nothing!

Oh, some of the things you've heard are true. Snape did hand me a bunch of memories. I'd been lucky enough to find him as he was dying. Not lucky enough to do the job myself but you take what you can get. I wanted to make sure he was dead. I would have finished him off myself if there had been even the slightest chance that he would survive. I never got the chance. Pity that.

He did hand me a bunch of his memories and yes, they did suggest that I should let Voldemort kill me. But come on. Would you take Snape's word on anything? And on something as important as this? Fat bloody chance. Memories can be faked after all. Even if he hadn't been able to construct them from scratch, he had everything he needed to make them up. That conversation with Dumbledore - He had access to his office for the whole of this year. He could have easily gotten someone to look like Dumbledore and faked that whole conversation. Polyjuice needs a live donor but put an Imperius Curse on Aberforth and toss in a few glamours and hey presto; you can be seen having a conversation with the late great Albus Dumbledore. It's not like pensieve memories come with an authenticated time stamp. No way in hell was I going to believe anything that Snape told me or that I got from him.

Why did I go into the forest then? It's simple. I went there to kill Voldemort. Old Tom Riddle had been kind enough to stop the battle and tell me exactly where he was. I wasn't going to give up a chance like that. We were losing the battle after all. I knew that if things continued the way they were that Hogwarts would soon be conquered.

So I sneaked into the forest. Thanks to my invisibility cloak, I managed to get really close to him. I had the perfect shot and I took it. I cast my best blasting curse, the one capable of reducing a human body to a fine red mist. I fired it at nearly point blank range right at Voldemort's back.

I missed.

I don't know how he managed it but damn the bugger was fast. It was as if he felt the spell coming at him. He ducked and rolled, impossibly fast. He was almost a blur as he spun around and fired a killing curse at me.

He didn't miss.

I died. Let's just take a moment and let the gravity of that statement sink in. I died and then yes, I did have a conversation with Dumbledore in what may or may not have been the afterlife. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that Snape had in fact given me memories that were true. I would have kicked Dumbledore's ass but there's really not much point in that when you're dead.

The rest of the story is nearly the same as you've heard. I came back to life and I defeated Voldemort, right in front of everybody. For some reason they're saying I killed him with an Expelliarmus. Please. Even I'm not stupid enough to try that. I wanted Voldemort dead and I sent a heart-exploding curse at him. Doesn't leave a mark of course and most people wouldn't be able to recognise it right it off the bat especially when you don't vocalise the incantation. But still – an Expelliarmus? That's just dumb.

Back to Ron however, I still want him dead and I was so glad that you agreed.

Unfortunately, I can't kill him. I would absolutely love to see him die a painful death. I really would. Why, oh why couldn't someone have killed him during the final battle? It's a sick, sick god that lets someone like Ron Weasley live and kills off people like Fred, Tonks and Lupin. All three of them had more talent in their little fingers than Ron has in his entire body. I would have even traded Colin Creevey for Ron if I could have.

Still, I really can't kill him. Why? I'd imagine you want to know. Why can't I kill him? Certainly not for any feelings of friendship towards him or for any squeamishness upon my part. I killed my first man when I was eleven after all. Oh, Dumbledore gave me a song and dance about how Quirrell was already dead but it was my hands that burnt him to a crisp. My hands that held on tight to him even after I knew that they were burning him. He's not the only one either. Come on. We were in a battle. Did you really think I was tossing stunners at the enemy? Hell no! I was shooting to kill and I did. I lost count actually, of how many of them I killed. It doesn't bother me in the least. They were the enemy and they were trying to kill me. Killing Ron would be just as easy, incredibly easy. No, nothing like that is stopping me from killing him.

No, shocking as it is, I can't kill him because of Molly Weasley.

Molly Weasley. She is an incredibly annoying woman. Loud, shrill and bossy, she insists on treating everyone around her like they're five years old. She's interfering and controlling and most of the time I can't stand her at all.

She is also the only woman who has ever acted even the slightest bit maternal towards me.

She has knitted jumpers for me. She has let me stay at her house and she has cooked me my favourite foods. She has mended my clothes, fussed over my health and shopped for me. She has been the only adult I know who has ever attempted to look after me.

I saw her boggart once. A boggart shows you a person's deepest fear. Not surprisingly, her boggart showed her members of her family lying dead. What was surprising, to me at least, was that I was one of the people she saw lying dead. Her deepest fear was that her family would be hurt and I was included there, right along with her sons and daughter. To someone who's been told their entire life that they're not wanted by the only relatives they have, well, let's just say that it left a bit of an impression.

If there is any living adult in the entire wizarding world that my cold dead heart has even the slightest regard for, it would be Molly Weasley.

I might still have done it, killed Ron that is. Unfortunately, I recently had to witness the effect of the death of a family member on Molly. Fred's death has absolutely devastated her. I cannot and will not put her through that again or add to her grief in any way.

Still, I need to do something about Ron.

Why, you ask.

Hermione Granger.

Hermione is someone who is an actual friend. I don't make friends. I never have. When I was a child I thought they were strange mythical creatures like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. I decided long ago that I did not need or want friends. And yet, somehow Hermione, inexplicably, infuriatingly, has become a friend.

I don't know how it happened. Was it just the fact that I saved her from a troll? I still have no idea what made me do it. It's not as if I wanted to play the hero but somehow for some inexplicable reason I did. I couldn't get rid of her after that and I tried, oh how much I tried in those first few weeks. Nothing obvious, of course. I could not be seen being mean or nasty to her. Not me, not the boy who lived. However, I made sure we never ever did anything that she wanted to do. We never even talked about the things she was interested in. I was sure that would be enough to get rid of her.

It didn't.

We've had our share of problems too. Most notably the time she went behind my back to McGonagall regarding the Firebolt. Then there was that whole kerfuffle about the Potions textbook. I still don't understand why she was so against that book. It's not like I wasn't willing to share it with her. I offered, several times.

On the whole though, she has been remarkably loyal. She could have left several times. Her parents wanted her to leave Britain last year. What did she do? She obliviated them and sent them to Australia unable to even remember that they have a daughter. She stayed. She stayed for me. I appreciate that. More than I can possibly articulate.

However, what I cannot understand, I mean, I find it absolutely impossible to wrap my head around it, it is just that unbelievable - She seems to be attracted to Ron. Ron. I mean, WHAT? Does that make sense? Her and Ron. Ron and Hermione. Do you get it? Cause I don't, I really really don't understand how she could possibly be attracted to Ron. I really don't.

Even if you forget the crappy way he's always treated her. The way he's so casually dismissive of her feelings and interests. Even if you forget the way he led her on before jumping on top of Lavender. Even if you forget all of those facts, there is still no explaining it. They have absolutely nothing in common. Nothing! Not one itsy bitsy teeny weeny thing.

Well, to be absolutely correct they do have two things in common - They were both students at Hogwarts and they both know me. That's about it really.

Before you start accusing me of being jealous and wanting her for myself let me disabuse you of that notion.

Despite what Rita Skeeter would have you think, there has never been anything remotely romantic about our relationship. I don't mean she's not attractive. Far from it. She has grown into her looks rather nicely. Despite that, I have absolutely no attraction for her in that way.

What I do feel is responsible. For some reason I've also always felt a tiny bit responsible for her. It could be a side effect of saving her life, I don't really know, I certainly don't feel that way about Ginny Weasley. Hermione on the other hand is like me in more ways than one, she has no family in the magical world and just as few friends as I do. She is as alone as I am. Someone has to look out for her.

That someone has to be me. Who else is there?

Left to their own devices I have no doubt that that Ron will eventually persuade her to marry him. He is then going to spend the rest of his life belittling her and resenting every single success she has. And there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that Hermione will be far more successful than Ron could even dream of being. Ron is not going to like that and he will end up making her miserable.

His jealousy regarding Hermione's relationship with me might even mean that he will try to keep us apart.

I cannot and will not allow that to happen. Not after everything that Hermione has done for me.

So here I am. It's late at night and everyone left at Hogwarts is either still celebrating Voldemort's defeat or has collapsed in an exhausted sleep. There is no one around to see what I am doing. And what am I doing? I'm in the potions classroom which is luckily undamaged by the recent battle. I am brewing a certain highly illegal, highly restricted potion. I found the instructions in one of the books in the Black library, when we were staying there earlier in the year, and half an hour ago, I had Kreacher fetch the book for me. It shouldn't take long. Just a few hours and the potion will be ready. It's not even that hard. The year I spent poring over Snape's old potions textbook is certainly paying dividends.

What does the potion do? Drink it and for the next hour, you will find yourself to be extraordinarily persuasive. Persuasive, almost to the point of mind control. Anyone listening to you will take your words as the gospel truth. As if they were carved in letters of fire on stone tablets ten feet high. It's even better than an Imperius Curse. People under the Imperius act differently. To anyone who knows them they will seem off kilter. A bit off. Questions might be asked if someone discovers that Ron is under the Imperius. The potion is much much better.

Tomorrow, the very first thing in the morning, I shall take this potion. I will then go and have a little chat with dear old Ron. I shall tell him that someone needs to go with Hermione to help her fetch her parents back. I shall tell him that it can't be him. He needs to be with his family. He needs to be there to support his mother in her time of need. He can't possibly abandon them so soon after Fred's death. I shall also suggest that perhaps he is rushing things with Hermione. Is he sure that he is not letting the heightened emotions of the battlefield make him feel things that he normally wouldn't?

Does he really want to be with someone who would never respect him as her intellectual equal? Someone who wasn't even slightly interested in things like Quidditch and the Chudley Cannons. Perhaps he should spend the summer thinking about things. Perhaps he should think about finding someone who likes him for himself as he is right now and will not be constantly pushing him to better himself.

Why should he settle for Hermione when he could have any girl he wanted? Wouldn't any girl in magical Britain jump at the chance to get to know one of the heroes of the fight against Voldemort? Besides, he really needs a relaxing summer and a chance to sow his wild oats away from the disapproving eyes of Hermione Granger.

Then I will find Hermione and tell her that we should go and fetch her parents right away and perhaps have a little vacation in Australia before coming back to Hogwarts so that she can complete her final year and take her NEWTs. Even without the potion, I should be able to persuade her to spend some time vacationing in Australia. Poor orphan Harry has never been on a vacation after all. How could she possibly begrudge him wanting to spend a few months relaxing on a beach? How could she possibly leave him alone to fend for himself?

Before this summer is out, I will have found her a better boyfriend, someone worthy of her. In the worst-case scenario, if I can't find anyone then I will start dating her myself. Come what may, I will make sure she is happy and that there is someone to take care of her. I will not let her end up with someone like Ron Weasley.

It is the very least I can do.