A/N: Be warned all ye who enter here...err, read this story. Language, violence, gore, sexual situations, murder, death, genocide, infanticide, sex (But no full on lemons), some of it certainly objectionable. This is a story where bad things happen to bad people. And good people. And people in general.
Hermione Granger, October 31st, 2060
Time was up. She knew that beyond the shadow of a doubt. Time. If only she had more time. More time, more people, more resources. Ignoring the screams, the gunfire, the spellfire, she kept walking, dragging her burden with her. They wouldn't hold them off for much longer.
Another explosion rocked the building, the roar of the jet providing close air support drowned out all other noises for a few moments, before giving way to an inhuman screech. More screams, as part of the ceiling collapsed, crushing one of the precious few remaining defenders. With each step, she could feel her heartbeat getting weaker. The steady thump from the mortar rounds coursed through her body stronger than her pulse did. The only thing keeping her from bleeding out was the chunk of metal impaled through her. Even all the rituals to enhance her strength, speed, resilience, healing, and numerous other factors, couldn't keep her going much longer. Without such enhancements, she would have already died.
"It's alright 'Mione, just leave me...we don't both have to die..." Like everything else, she ignored the voice. Even He wasn't going to stop her from completing her final task. Steadily, she moved on, hand firmly gripping the carrying handle on the back of His armored vest. Already, long imprinted compulsions took effect over her. A fail safe she built into her own self.
"Mione...leave me...even you can't save me..." Maybe if she hadn't spent the past couple decades lying to Him, that statement would be true. She never did tell Him. The entire purpose of the MAGI project was just that. To save Him. Maybe she was selfish enough to hope it would be able to save her as well. At the least, a small part of her. In her musings, she never noticed that her heart stopped.
"Please...I can't watch you die for me..." More troops rushed past. She waved them off when they stopped to help her. This was her burden. Hers, and hers alone. If they didn't involve themselves here, they would only die. There were much worse things than death. All they could do buy her more time. Mere magic and technology were never meant to fight such things. It wouldn't be long now until one of humanity's few effective weapons could be deployed. She already overheard the fire support specialist call in the strike.
Thankfully, He stopped pleading with her. Sweet death claimed Him. As much as it hurt her to even think it, she was glad he finally died. He wouldn't be alive to see her final sins. He was fortunate enough to die still believing in her humanity. Just a few hundred more feet, to where she needs to go. Already she could hear the gunfire and spellfire dying off. Time. She needed more time if she was to save him.
"STARLIGHT ROUNDS INBOUND! DANGER CLOSE! DANGER CLOSE!"
The world went white. Then black. She never let go of Him as they were violently thrown. Getting back up, she opened her eyes. Black. Nothing but black. She was blind. No matter. Magic would guide her. She could feel where she needed to be. How couldn't she? It was only the greatest beacon of magic the world had ever seen. He must have known it existed. He was never as stupid as He pretended to be. "It was a hell of a ride Mione...just leave my body."
Noble idiot. Even beyond the grave, He still tells her to save herself. Since she trapped his soul into his body, it was certainly an impressive trick, but she wouldn't be dissuaded. Harry always did that, the impossible. He bent and broke rules of magic at a whim. The rules never truly existed for him to begin with, and then he took command of the elder wand. Decades of using it, and it's traits rubbed off on him. Effortlessly, he would violate the rules of magic as if they didn't exist, no longer needing the Elder Wand to perform feats of magic that should be utterly impossible.
"I'm dead Hermione. Please, don't throw your life away. It doesn't have to end here."
The world had already ended, it just didn't realize it yet. It'd be a few years yet, before civilization truly falls, and maybe even decades before the final die off, but there was no preventing it. That which broke Atlantis had returned. Even now, the military power of the world paled in comparison to what Atlantis wielded. Only the most optimistic portrayal of history could say that Atlantis won it's final war. It merely succeeded in not losing completely.
Finally, she arrived at her destination. The wall melted away, allowing her access, then resealed as she passed through. What troops were still alive wouldn't care about being abandoned. They were all too happy to die for their lady. Another thing she never told Him. This project was too important to let it be guarded by those that could have any agenda besides her own. She did it for Him.
"I always knew 'Mione. I knew long before, just what you became. I just didn't care. Though I never realized just how far you slipped. Not that I've been a saint myself."
If it was anyone else, she would have destroyed their very soul for that. But it was Him. Everything was to save Him from the fate she was destined for.
"Why? Why 'Mione? Why am I worth such things?"
Because the world ended. Before the MAGI project even began. Because she failed, and it was her fault. She just never told Him. Laying what was left of His mutilated body into the middle of the floor, she pulled her wand out. Looking to the ceiling, even blind, she could see the magic. A prism of solid starlight hung there. Certainly enough to vaporize the continent. Or, just enough to power the true goal of the MAGI project.
"What does it do 'Mione?"
It would power the magic she was working on, and if he'd stop pestering her, she could explain once she finishes. She gave His dead body a dirty look. Even now, He still breaks rules. He shouldn't be able to talk to her! Admittedly, if she wasn't bleeding all over the floor, and minutes from invoking the darkest magics she could create, she would have found it quite a turn on, the way he effortlessly violates reality itself. Back to the matter at hand!
Pouring what little strength she had left through her wand, she created a magical connection between herself and the piece of solid starlight. Magic itself given a physical form. The entire room began to glow, as runes lit up. Wherever they were covered with blood, the blood would boil away. Had He or She been able to physically see, they would have found the beautiful blue glow relaxing.
Runes. Thousands of runes, written in liquid starlight that was doped with her own blood. Ok, and His blood too. No comment from the peanut gallery?
"I trust you 'Mione, and you asked me to be quiet."
Of course He trusted her. He always did, no matter how little she deserved it. He always trusted, and always forgave her. She'd cry if she had enough of a soul left.
What little soul she was able to preserve, was His. With a slash of her wand, she released the seal holding His soul into the dead body. That allowed the room to go work. He would never forgive her for this, but He would be alive to not forgive her, and that was all that mattered.
"Don't! You can't do that 'Mione!"
Resting the tip of her wand to her chest, she hesitated a moment. Then another moment. And another. Tears were rolling down her cheeks. Even with a soul as corrupted and destroyed as hers, He still loved her. And that was why she was going to do what she had to do.
"Promise me Harry. That you'll take care of her."
"What are you talking about? 'Mione!?"
"Me. She needs your help, and unlike me, she's worthy of your help. This is the true purpose of the MAGI project Harry. To break the barrier between worlds, and allow you to escape. There are things far worse than death Harry, and I can't escape such a fate. I can't escape with you."
"I've always loved you Harry, since you jumped on a troll for me. Take what little of my soul that isn't tainted Harry. It, no, I will help you, and always be with you" Resting her wand on her chest, she slowly drew it away, pulling her soul from her body. Instead of the white light that all souls had, a blackened ball of darkness was pulled from her chest. Not even Riddle's soul, after all he did, looked like that.
He knew it was useless. The moment the soul left her body, she was already dead. Which made the what was happening an even bigger shock than Hermione pulling her soul from her body.
"It's alright Harry. It's alright." Holding the soul in front of her, she pushed it off, to where it floated over Harry's body. Slowly, a bright blue light began to seep from the soul, collecting into a much smaller ball under it. Harry's soul slowly rose to meet it, accepting it into itself, wrapping around it, to protect it. Already, Harry's soul truly accepted her own, and they began to intermix. She smiled at the scene, knowing Harry would never realize that he's violating more rules of magic and reality. He never seemed to realize it. Decades with the Elder Wand, and violating the rules of magic just came naturally to him.
"You always trusted me fully Harry. Thank you, for letting what little of my soul remained in. In a few minutes, the tainted portion of my soul will be used to power this. I can't tell you very much about where you're going. I can only tell you what I know. You will have your family Harry. As I've failed to give you a family of our own," she wrapped her arms across her stomach "I can give you your own family back. They will need your protection."
Even dead, she still managed to cry. "Find my counter part Harry. She needs you. Promise me you'll look for her, you'll protect her, you'll love her."
"On my life, my magic, and my own soul, I swear it 'Mione! I will always love you, protect you, and cherish you, in this world or any other!"
Her corpse smiled, tears falling from her face. "She's had a shitty life Harry, worse than your life. I...just don't let her become what I am. I'm sorry I've lied to you Harry, I just wanted you to live your life, without the world on your shoulders. I'm sorry Harry, but the world you're going to need you."
"What do you mean it needs me?"
"I found a way to save you Harry, but the only world I could create a stable connection to in time, is a world you'll have to save. I don't know from who, or from what. Unlike this world however, it can be saved. In the end, my Saving People thing might be as big as yours. I love you Harry. In this world and all others."
The compulsions that imprinted Hermione's personality onto her dead body finally ran out, and her corpse crumpled to the ground. All that was left was for the magic Hermione set in motion to do it's job.
Uncaring of what was expected, required, or even theoretically possible, Harry's soul lazily moved towards Hermione's body, and settled over it, as if to caress her. She was after all, far more important to him than he himself could ever be. A world without Hermione wasn't a world worth living in. The least he could do was caress her one last time.
He never noticed that they were no longer alone in the room.
Harry Potter, August 1st, 1991
"I have a message for James. AVADA KEDAVRA!"
Harry saw it, and didn't hesitate for even a moment. He knew he wasn't always the best son. Or the best brother. He knew he was arrogant and full of himself. In fact, truth be told, he was a right asshole headed to a bad end. It had been on his mind the entire day. His life until this point, shamed him. For all his numerous faults, when put to the ultimate test, his body moved as if on autopilot, his mind already knew the consequences, and lodged no objection.
No thought, no hesitation. Harry Potter dropped the cauldron he was carrying and tackled his ten year old sister, whom the killing curse was aimed for. Perhaps if his mom wasn't carrying several bags, or if his dad wasn't working today, they could have conjured something to block the killing curse. Maybe if uncle Moony or Padfoot were here, he wouldn't have to die. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. As his body impacted his sister's, he could see his mom just getting her wand out. In the end, Harry Potter regretted his life, but not his sacrifice. His life for his sister's. It was a fair trade. As the green light hit him, Harry Potter was no more.
Iris, ten year old child of James and Lily Potter, screamed, until her scream was cut off by a heavy impact, knocking the air out of her. Even at ten, she could feel the foul magic of the killing curse meant for her as it slammed into her older brother. For Iris, it seemed as if time came to a stop. She could hear the people in Diagon Alley screaming. She could feel the hatred and venom in her mother's voice as she started casting. Most of all, she could feel her brother die. The sick feeling of the magic coursing through his body, she could even feel as his soul detached from his body.
Together, Iris and her dead brother crumpled to the ground while her mother began to fight. Already, she could hear the pops as people started apparating away until the anti-apparation ward slammed down, and the screams as those who couldn't apparate began to run. Iris laid there a few moments, trying to catch her breath after the impact, before it finally sunk in. Her brother took a killing curse for her.
"Harry?" She began shaking him. "Harry! NO! HARRY!" She continued shaking Harry while crying out for him until a witch viciously kicked Harry off of her.
"Well, what do we have here?" Reaching down, the witch roughly dragged Ivy to her feet by her hair, holding her between Lily and herself, before firing off a bone breaking hex into Lily's leg. With a scream, Lily crumpled to the ground, small chunks of bone puncturing her leg from where it shattered.
"Not a moment too soon my flower. She's as good as they say." The wizard was favoring his side heavily, his dark robe darkening from where Lily managed to slip through his defenses. He was bleeding, but nothing too bad.
"Lily Potter, your husband has been a very bad boy. I'm afraid we've been paid to kill you and one of your children, to let him think about what he's done. Really, it's nothing personal."
The venomous look Lily gave the wizard said everything for her. To her, it was personal. Very personal. "James will hunt you down."
"Hahahaha. That's just it Lily, he will hunt us down. He will follow us, right into a trap. He's made several powerful and wealthy enemies. Nothing but the best for your husband. Isn't that right my Flower?"
The witch smiled at her wizard, while yanking Iris side to side by her hair. "That's right! Nothing but the best! Now Lily, if you just die, your daughter will be free to go. Just toss your wand away, or you'll see what a reducto will do to her pretty head." Yanking Iris's hair down elicited another scream from the girl, until a wand was jabbed into the bottom of her mouth hard enough to close it.
Lily just squeezed her wand for a moment, knowing that help wouldn't arrive. Not in time. With a sob, she discarded her wand, before breaking down crying. She, like the witch and wizard that just ambushed her and the children, never noticed Harry wasn't as dead as they thought.
"Ahh, music to my ears Potter. I am, however, a professional. A promise is a promise, your daughter will be released unharmed. You'll see your son again soon enough, and we'll send your husband to join you shortly. AVADA KEDAVRA!" As the green bolt left his wand, he lost his smug look as a cauldron came into view, before it shattered under the force of his killing curse.
As Harry came to, he noticed a few things. Where ever he was, it was outside. His chest was hurting a great deal, and maybe even a few of his ribs were broken. Nothing he hasn't dealt with before. Voices. He could hear voices, but he couldn't place them. Not until he heard one of them say 'James'. It almost sounded like his mom. He heard her voice in enough nightmares, he'd recognize it anywhere.
Looking around, Harry took stock of the situation as well as he could without being noticed. A witch was holding up a little girl, with a wand tucked under her chin. Harry could already see the blood making it's way down the little girls head. Another wizard had a witch at wand point. The witch on the ground looked like...no...she didn't look like her. It WAS her. All you ever wanted. Family. He was given a chance to have a family. And already, someone was trying to take it from him. Another glance at the little girl, and he guessed she was a sister. A sister!
Within reach, was an overturned cauldron with a few different knives laying next to it, along with several other tools for potions. Just a standard potions kit. Probably for Hogwarts. It wasn't much, but it would be enough. Listening to the conversation, he already pieced together the fact that this world's Harry just ate a killing a curse. Really. Who hits the-boy-who-lived with a killing curse and actually expects it to stick? Then again, if mom is alive, I might not be the-boy-who-lived. And why the hell haven't any Auror's shown up yet?
The second problem, Harry could do something about. Maybe. Opening his senses to magic, Harry found the answer. The man put up anti-apparation wards. Very scary anti-apparation wards. There's a trick to putting up effective and powerful wards without an anchor. Most Auror's can easily throw up run of the mill wards in moments if they don't need to be overly powerful. Stopping a person from apparating and such. The upside is, it's free. The known downside is, few people can truly make them powerful enough to stop, say, Dumbledore, or even just a small group of run of the mill wizards. The unknown downside, at least at this point in time, is that a sufficiently skilled wizard who knows how can take control of such wards. Silently slipping into the ward, Harry prepped himself to seize control at a moments notice. Once he was ready, Harry waited for his moment.
That was all he needed. Springing to his feet, Harry snagged the cauldron and threw it. A knife quickly followed in the other direction.
Before the bolt even hit, Harry seized the ward, made a mental note to thank Hermione for being a bloody genius, and inverted the keying, making the ward slam down on his new opponents, while opening it up for anyone else to freely apparate in or out. As the shattered chunks of metal hit the ground, Auror's were already apparating in as the knife he threw took the witch in her wand hand, causing her to let go of her hostage and drop her wand.
"WHAT!?" In fear, the wizard fired off a curse Harry couldn't recognize at Lily. He didn't have the magical strength to conjure or transfigure something to block the strike. He was running on empty, presumably a side effect of taking a killing curse. He took the only course available to him. Harry stepped in front of the curse, throwing his hand forward, using what little magic he had to coat it with the most powerful shield he could. For an eleven year old boy with no wand, it was impressive. For all that, it may as well have been a sheet of paper. The dark curse blew right through his shield, blowing Harry off his feet.
"Harry! NO!" The last thing Harry noticed was both his sister and the witch trying to get a hold on her going down in a hail of stunners, and the wizard was caught flatfooted. The curses that took him down were most certainly not stunners. Collapsing to the ground several feet from where he stood, he began to vomit blood. A detached part of his mind noted that it felt a great deal like the cruciatus curse, but only worse. It wasn't long before the sweet nothingness of unconsciousness claimed him.
"Bloody hell Prongs, am I reading this report right?" Sirius looked up from the report at James. "I guess that explains the bottle of Fire Whiskey. This...this...how could someone do this? Who could do this?"
"It had to have been a death eater. But how did they find her? No one could find her! Bloody Albus Dumbledore hid her away! Most the Wizarding World has tried tracking her down, with no success."
"Yea, to keep her safe. We can see how well THAT worked! Who knows how long those muggle aggression and lust wards were up for! According to this, they've been there YEARS! The wizarding world trusted that man to protect her, and he never checked up on her! He just left her in an orphanage!"
"And then someone covers the orphanage in wards to make her life a living hell. What you see in that report isn't the full story, it's only what we've managed to drag out of her so far, and it's all been verified with her medical exam. Padfoot, I'm reassigning you and Moony to her, full time. Until she gets onto the Hogwarts express, one of you will be with her at ALL times. I'm...I'm authorizing the use of full force to protect her. Madame Bones has signed off on it. If something doesn't look right, curse first, curse second, and curse a few more times before you drop your guard enough to ask questions."
"So she's in your office now?"
"No. Jameson took a dose of polyjuice, and she's providing a body double. The VIP is currently with Director Bones and Moony. If I thought for a moment I could pull Moody out of retirement, I'd have him here too."
"You should try anyways. Moody might actually come out of retirement for this. Where are we going to keep her?"
"The ministry has provided a safe house. Sirius, I don't trust the ministry. I can't prove it, but I have my suspicions on what happened. I need a massive favor, and this is why I'm calling you in."
"You know I'd do anything for you Prongs."
"I need you to claim the Grimmauld house. There is truly nowhere safer unless we stash her in Gringotts. Even then, it would be a toss up as to which would be safer."
"Don't...you can't ask that of me..."
"It's not for me. It's for her. She needs your help Padfoot. She needs to be under the wards there."
"I...I can't. I can't go back there."
"You won't be alone. Me, you, Moony, Lily, the kids. Please Padfoot? She needs your help. This entire situation is just rotten."
"No..I just can't James. I ca-" Sirus was cut off as an alarm sounded and the Ministry went into lock down.
"What!? Go! Get to the directors office Padfoot! Me and Jameson will meet you there in a minute!"
Sirius didn't waste any time scrambling to his feet and was almost out of the room when he heard yelling and spellfire coming from James' office. James himself didn't waste any time, and kicked his own office door in. Ducking to the side, a killing curse sailed through the door, narrowly missing him.
"Kill the girl! I'll handle him!" Unfortunately, the hit team was fighting a disguised Auror Jameson, the best duelist on the force. The man barely finished his sentence before a reducto from her removed most of his head. Free to move, James fired off several curses at the two concentrating on her. Between James and Jameson, it was over in less than ten seconds.
"James? You OK?" Sirius stood in the door, ready to help.
"Area's clear! Me and Jameson are alright, better than these three at least. Jameson, you're with me. Sirius, they just penetrated the wards at the Ministry and dropped a hit team into MY office. I need you with me on this one."
Sirius deflated. The prospect of going back home after all these years still frightened him. The three dead bodies in the Head Auror's office frightened him more though. "You're right James...I have no choice. Get the girl, and meet me at Grimmauld in an hour. It'll take at least that long to make it safe enough for her to get in the front door."
All three Auror's drew wands as they heard someone running up. "JAMES! JAMES! IT'S LILY!" Peter Pettigrew ran into the front room before skidding to a halt. He didn't even register the wands. "James! Lily and the kids! They're under attack in Diagon! We can't break through the anti-apparation ward! They said one of the kids went down! WE NEED TO GO NOW!"
"Jameson! Protect the girl! Padfoot, Wormtail, lets go! We're apparating as close as we can and moving in on foot!" James tried to not show it, but fear gripped his heart. He wasn't naive enough to believe it was unrelated. Someone was striking at his family, all because he managed to rescue the-witch-who-lived. He knew, deep in his heart, that the next wizarding war had begun, and his family was lined up to be the first casualties.
Thankfully, as the head Auror, he and his team could apparate out of the lock down After all, Auror's are expected to respond to threats. With a quick nod, all three apparated to Diagon Alley, as close to the anti-apparation ward as they could get. A quick guess put the wards origin at roughly 200 meters from their position, but unfortunately, it wasn't a straight shot through. "Lets go!"
The cat, so to speak, had long been out of the bag. Neither of the three hesitated for even a moment. Sirius dived and all four of his padded feet hit the ground in a dead run. Peter jumped onto James' back, landing as a rat onto the back of a large stag. The three of them tore through the alley at a dead run, pushing past the few people who haven't fled to the boundaries yet.
The trio finally made it within sight of the battle in time to feel the wards change. All three, Hero's of the Voldemort war, moved without hesitation. They weren't even finished returning to human before apparating. As soon as the three arrived, stunners were already fired off into the woman grabbing for Iris.
"HARRY! NO!" James panicked at seeing Harry caught by a dark curse. He wanted nothing more than to apparate and take the hit for him, or conjure something to protect him, but he didn't have any time. Watching his son get blown off his feet after moving to take the curse for Lily, James threw every curse he could think of at the wizard, cutting him down where he stood.
Iris was the first to make it to Harry, sobbing while she cradled his head. Whatever she was saying, no one could make out between her sobs. She could feel it. His pulse, his life, his magic, his soul. It felt reassuring, and comforting. He was alive. He saved her, and saved their mum. And he was alive.
"Peter! Get as many Auror's as you can round up in five minutes, and have them meet me in St Mungo's!" With a nod, Peter grabbed the stunned woman and apparated away. "Sirius! Set it up, our lives are in your hands. Send a Patronus when it's clear!" To his credit, Sirius only hesitated for a moment before nodding and disapparating.
Already, a couple more Auror's showed up. "Miller, Watts, grab the kids and take them to St Mungo's!" James himself grabbed his wife, who was still crying hysterically, and apparated himself. It all started with a tip to a muggle officer last week from the school of The-Witch-Who-Lived, and it already nearly claimed the lives of his entire family.