Title: Faded to Black
Spoilers: All four books
Summary: After a devastating final battle with Voldemort Harry makes a decision which dramatically changes the course of his life. Eight years later his past surprises him forcing him to face things he'd wanted to forget.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended
Author's Note: First story, so feedback (including 'constructive' criticism) will be welcomed.
The silence, after so much noise was deafening, making his ears ring. Straightening up slowly Harry Potter blinked through the dust surrounding him before carefully placing his wand down on one of the few tables that had remained standing upright in the Three Broomsticks. Moving quickly, aware that he probably only had minutes, he stripped off his Hogwarts school cloak and bending down again arranged it carefully over Ginny Weasley's body trying, unsuccessfully, to cover the worst of the wounds visible through her torn and blood soaked clothes. Crouching by her side Harry reached out one unsteady hand to close her glassy, sightless eyes, then brushed her matted, auburn hair away from her face before leaning forward to press his lips softly to her forehead for one final time, blinking away the tears he could feel prickling at the edges of his eyes as he did so. Standing once again, Harry swallowed past the lump in his throat and surveyed the scene around him with as much of an air of detachment as a seventeen-year-old war veteran could muster.
What had once been a thriving wizarding pub was now little more than ruins. All around him tables and chairs had been left in splinters and what had once been the bar was now buried under the part of the roof, which had collapsed during the battle. The battle. Harry let out a deep breath he hadn't realized he had been holding. It was over; after nearly three years of terror Voldemort had finally been defeated. He looked across to where what was left of the once powerful and supposedly immortal dark wizard now lay in a heap of bloodied robes half buried by bricks and dust and was once again surprised at how seemingly easy the conflict had finally been decided. Next to him was the stunned and bound form of his father's one time friend and then later betrayer Peter Pettigrew, ready and waiting to clear Sirius' name.
Harry surveyed them coldly, feeling no sense of victory or relief at the sight, for although the battle had been won, the cost had been high. Too high. Harry thought back to Albus Dumbledore's sudden death six months before and as he did his eyes fell on the still form of Lucius Malfoy; dead from a curse meant for his Death Eater son. Too bad it didn't save him Harry thought as his eyes travelled the few feet to where his one time nemesis lay, hand outstretched to his father, a look of desperation and pain etched onto his pale face.
Harry looked away and his eyes fell on the motionless forms of some of his other classmates who had come along with Harry and Ginny to celebrate the end of their exams. Seamus Finnegan, Dennis Creevey and Elizabeth Price from Gryffindor he knew of course, as well as several members of the Ravenclaw Quidditch team and others he thought he recognised, were all visible from where he stood, along with the numerous other patrons who had been caught in the cross fire of the surprise attack. How many might actually still be alive Harry couldn't tell and didn't have time to check, as the sound of approaching shouts and running footsteps attested to, reminding him of the next and final task that he had set himself. Looking out of what used to be a window he could see several distinct forms, his godfather and Remus Lupin amongst them, moving swiftly in his direction, alerted no doubt by the explosion. With one last glance back down to where Ginny still lay peacefully Harry picked his wand up from where he had left it, steeled his expression into one of neutrality and Dissapperated with a pop, mere seconds before the rescue party frantically burst onto the scene.
Bursting through the door of the Three Broomsticks wand in hand, Sirius Black stumbled over the remains of a chair and froze.
Moving further into the room to allow the others behind him to enter he braced a hand against the wall to steady himself as his eyes began frantically searching the room for any sign of his godson. Spying a shock of red hair lying across the rubble a few feet away he felt the icy feeling that had settled in the pit of his stomach the moment the explosion had sounded all the way up at the castle solidify and he staggered the few paces across the room and dropped to his knees beside the still figure, nausea rising in the back of his throat.
"Holy….God…." he reached out his hand and gently brushed it across the girl's forehead, nearly snatching it back compulsively when he felt the coldness of her skin. "Ginny".
Sweeping his eyes across her body, barely noticing the cloak that covered her his gaze fell on the four still forms lying next to her. "Fuck" Sirius shot to his feet.
"Remus! Snape!" His frantic shouts alerted his colleagues from where they had been checking some of the other bodies scattered around the room for signs of life and they carefully made their way over to him as he reached the fallen figures of the most hated and feared dark wizards.
"Dear Lord" Remus' quiet exclamation barely registered with Sirius as the three of them stared disbelievingly down at the still forms lying at their feet.
"Are they…?" He broke off and it was Severus Snape who knelt down carefully to check the bodies. He straightened slowly and Sirius noticed that the man's face was even paler than usual and when he spoke his voice was hoarse.
"Dead" he said his shock showing in his voice. He gestured towards Voldemort and the Malfoys, before turning back to face Sirius. "Pettigrew's alive though, just stunned".
Looking into the man's dark eyes, trying to comprehend what he had just been told, Sirius felt himself sway and took an involuntary step backwards. He felt, rather than saw Remus take a concerned step towards him and then felt surprisingly calm hands grab his shoulders to steady him.
Snape moved off to continue the search of the rest of the room and Sirius turned to face his friend.
"Moony? Where's Harry?" His words were a plaintive whisper and his friend squeezed his shoulders gently as he shook his head, his face filled with worry.
"I don't know." Suddenly Sirius' temper snapped and he was filled with a desperate anger.
"Well then look dammit! He has to be here somewhere!" He snapped at the other man who quickly released his shoulders as Sirius whirled away to begin frantically searching the room.
They had been searching for what seemed like hours and there was still no sign of black hair and green eyes. Almost as soon as Sirius had begun his search they had been joined by a team of ministry officials and medi – wizards, who had immediately begun to search the rubble for those who were still alive, moving them to St Mungo's for treatment. The dead were left in peace for now whilst the ministry tried to make arrangements for the large number of bodies. Sirius tried not to think about it. The only exceptions had been of course Voldemort and the Malfoys. Where they had been taken Sirius neither knew nor cared but he had seen Snape talking quietly to the Minister of Magic shortly before they had been removed so he knew that they would have been dealt with properly.
"Black!" Sirius paused in his task of moving aside yet another pile of bricks and dust and looked up to see Snape coming towards him holding the black cloth that he vaguely remembered to have been covering Ginny. He stood up to berate the man for moving it when Snape's next words stopped him cold.
"Isn't this Potter's cloak?" He asked holding the dirty material out towards him. Sirius took it, carefully examining it to see that yes, it was in fact Harry's cloak, finding the initials HP which had been carefully stitched inside the hood by a delicate feminine hand he remembered Harry telling him with pride to have been Ginny's.
Clutching the material to his chest like a lifeline, Sirius felt the desperation filling him go up a notch and he whirled round.
"Harry!" He called into the dust and rubble. "Harry! Are you here? Can you here me?" He paused. Nothing answered him apart from the silence of the others as they watched him and the pounding of his own heart.
"Harry!?" He tried again, more desperately, his voice cracking. "Harry! God damn you! Answer me!" He turned again and hit a table with his shin causing him to stumble into the wall. Suddenly Remus was there, once again a hand placed carefully on his shoulder.
"Sirius" Remus' voice was surprisingly calm and the pressure with which he gripped his friends' shoulder increased. "We've looked. He's not here Padfoot. He's not here." Sirius felt tears fill his eyes as he thought of the boy he'd sworn to protect.
"Well then where is he Remus hey? Where the fuck is he?"
Appearing soundlessly behind a row of large, green conifers Harry peered through the branches and was pleased to discover that he had managed to land in his desired spot. He had only travelled through this area once or twice with the Dursley's many years ago now and he hadn't been sure whether he would be able to remember it accurately enough. However, not having been anywhere else outside of known wizarding areas, that he could remember anyway, he had had few other options and he couldn't risk anyone from the wizarding world seeing him. Trying to collect his thoughts he sat and watched the cars zipping by on the A14 in front of him, on their way to Cambridge, all blissfully unaware both of the young man sitting quietly behind the trees and the world - saving acts he had just committed.
Taking a few deep breaths to steady himself Harry thought about what he was about to do. He had it all planned perfectly. After all he'd given the idea a lot of thought over the last year or so. For a brief second he felt a pang of regret for those he was leaving behind and a twinge of shame that he was taking what would probably be considered the easy way out. But then…. everyone else had someone, Ron and Hermione had each other, Sirius had Lupin to look after him and even Snape now had the school to keep him occupied, though that last thought still made Harry snort slightly in disbelief - how a former Death Eater could become the headmaster of the world's most prominent wizarding school he would never know, though he supposed it hadn't helped that Professor McGonagall had been adamant that she didn't want the responsibility. He sighed. His friends, he corrected himself, his family, would be all right, he was sure of it. He wondered briefly if they would look for him, but as soon as he thought that and imagined their reactions to the scene he had left behind in Hogsmeade, Ginny's still face surfaced in front of his eyes and he knew he was doing the right thing. He had lost so much over the last three years, seen and done more than any person could be expected to do and remain unscarred, he certainly hadn't and now that Voldemort had finally been defeated Harry didn't even know if he had a purpose anymore.
With that thought in mind Harry took a deep breath, stepped out from behind the bushes and moved closer towards the edge of the busy road, wand still tightly clutched in his right hand and an expression of fierce determination etched onto his face. Watching the traffic he waited for the right moment and when it came he held his wand out pointing toward his own chest and uttered one word 'Obliverate', whilst simultaneously stepping out in front of the speeding white ford transit van. His jumbled mind registered a loud squeal of tires a brief second before everything faded to black.
*****TO BE CONTINUED******