Chapter 1 : I'll Never Forget Them
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People came to me in thousands, their eyes shining bright with tears while waiting for me to perform a miracle. All of them had a look of innocence to their faces, as they asked me why their wife, or their husband, or their son, or their daughter had died while the great Harry Potter lived. All of them wondering – hoping – that I would have the answer as to why their lives had turned horribly wrong.
None of them seemed to understand that I was just one man – one man amongst an army of thousands more. I wasn't the strongest, nor was I the bravest – I wasn't the most talented, or the smartest. I was just a man who had been protected by his mother's love as a child, and had the whole world thrust upon his shoulders at the age of eleven.
I wonder if anyone knows how that feels, to be told when you're eleven years old that not only are you a wizard, but that you should have died. That you were considered a hero for something you couldn't even remember – for something so tragic as your parents' death.
For that first year, I thought it was fantastic. I was so proud that for once I wasn't seen as such a failure in life, that people were glad I was alive. But by that first summer, when Dobby was stopping all my mail, reality began to sink in. I didn't want people to be happy I was born because it saved them from death – I wanted someone to be happy I was born just because of who I was. I wanted parents who would look at me, kiss my forehead, and tell me I was the best gift they had ever been given.
Only no one ever treated me that way – even Ron, my best friend, his first reaction to me was, "Are you really Harry Potter?" And Hermione – her reaction had been nearly the same, "Are you really? I know all about you, of course – I got a few extra books for background reading, and you're in Modern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century."
Everyone thought they knew me, because they knew my story – but they didn't know me; the legend of my parents death is not who I am. I resented being defined by something I couldn't even control; I loathed the fact that people I had never met knew more about myself then I did. It was shocking and revolting at the same time, that some people would spend so much of their time reading about me. That people like Colin Creevey looked up to me, and that in the end I failed them all.
Colin...I had been his hero, the person who could do no wrong. Only in the end, I could – in fact; I did the worst anyone could do to him.
I let him die.
My friends swore it wasn't my fault; even his younger brother, Dennis, said that Colin would have wanted to die fighting for what he believed in. But what boy, at the mere age of sixteen, thinks of how he wants to die? How can anyone tell me that, that is the way he wanted to leave this world? Because we all know that's a lie; Colin wanted to grow old, to become a photographer for the Daily Prophet, to have a family. He wanted to live his life – not to lose it when there was still so much more left of it.
Death. What kind of fate was that?
It was supposed to be my fate. Everyone knew it – I had accepted it at the age of fifteen, when I first heard the prophecy. I was born to die for the good everyone – I was not supposed to live.
That night of the Final Battle, everything had been planned out. I kissed Ginny hard and long, and then told her that if anything happened I wanted her to move on and live a happy life. Ron, Hermione, and I had embraced and I had told all of them that they had saved me when I hadn't even known I needed saving. I told them that I would always love them, and that I would watch them from behind the curtain. Mrs. Weasley hugged me and kissed my cheek, ruffling my hair as I told her she was the mother I wish I could have had. Professor Lupin held me and told me that my parents would have been proud – I told him that he was like a father to me.
I had said my goodbyes; I had been ready for death.
I suppose, you could say, death wasn't ready for me.
That night, I didn't win because of smarts or talent – I won simply out of sheer luck, because Hermione hit Voldemort with a stunning charm from behind, and I had killed Him with His back turned. It had been a coward's way of winning, to fight when a person didn't have the chance to fight back. Ron and Hermione justified my act, saying that He wasn't a person at all, but a mere shadow of what He once was.
When I killed Him, my wand disintegrated with an alarming amount of force after being made to fight its brother. It had felt like all of my magic was going away with it, and when that happened I collapsed into a heap on the ground; my last thoughts, that this was the end.
Three months later I woke up alone in a bed, surrounded by flowers, chocolates, cards, and balloons. For a few moments, I hadn't known where I was or what was going on, until I looked to my right.
I was in the insanity ward at St. Mungo's and my roommates were Alice and Frank Longbottom. To my left, I was shocked to find their only son, Neville along with his fiancé, Luna Lovegood. I remember that I stared for a long time, until I began to yell for help, begging for someone to explain what had happened to me, wishing that someone would come.
And they did – nurses, healers, friends, reporters, fans, photographers – you name it, they were there. Everyone surrounded me with those same bright, shining eyes and asked me how I felt, and the one thing that wouldn't leave my head that I just had to get out was, "Did anyone survive?"
There had been a moment of silence – a silence so loud I could barely hear myself think – when the healer gave a hesitant chuckle and pulled out a potion, "Now, Mr. Potter, I'm sure you're very excited to hear how things turned out but I think it would be best if you rested right now."
"I don't need to rest! I feel like I've been sleeping for years," I replied. All I could do was stare at the people around me, camera's flashing in my face that reminded me of Colin, reporter's trying to get the inside scoop of the Final Battle which made me think of Rita Skeeter – maybe if we had protected her more, they wouldn't have gotten to her. Hermione and Ron, watching me with those wide eyes, waiting for me to say something. All these people were around me, waiting for me to say something brave, something remarkable – something unforgettable.
But I didn't say anything to the reporter's. Instead, I looked past the crowd around my bed and saw Mrs. Weasley watching the scene unfold in front of her with tears in her eyes. She was leaning to her left, as though someone was holding her up, but when I looked no one was there. And it was then that I noticed that look of sadness in her eyes, and I knew that Mr. Weasley would never be there to give support to his family again. We stared into each other's eyes until finally she mouthed the one question I didn't have the answer to, "Why?"
I remember that I turned away, with the desire not to see the pain on her face – the pain that I caused. Though I can't remember Mr. Weasley's death, I can assume that it had something to do with me; something to do with that battle.
That night I couldn't sleep, for all I could hear was the deathly breaths coming from Neville's bed. I remember that I had gotten up and stood above him – my old school mate, the boy-who-could-have-been-me – and asked him to talk to me. But his brown eyes endlessly stared at me as though I wasn't there. Even Luna – Loony Lovegood – wouldn't answer me when I spoke to her; I wanted to shake her, to make her start speaking of Wrackspurt's and Nargle's. But she didn't answer, and now that I think back to her blank blue eyes, I don't think she ever will.
A little under a week after I awoke, Ron and Hermione took me home to their flat in London. Everything was so different then before; the muggle newspapers didn't speak of mysterious murders or odd happenings around the world. Badly disguised wizards didn't walk by looking frightened anymore, and I was able to walk with my friends without the fear of being attacked. It was almost as if I was...normal.
I felt free.
When we reached their flat, I couldn't help but silently stare in awe at the place they had built for each other in such little time. Photos of our years at Hogwarts covered the walls; books on potions and healing adorned the bookshelves. Ron's shoes were tossed across the floor and there was a bowl of fruit on the kitchen table. The door to their bedroom was open, and the bed unmade as if they had rushed out of it in some sort of hurry. It almost felt like home.
But the sense of security I felt walking through those doors was suddenly ripped from me as I saw a picture of the DA – Dumbledore's Army. Neville and Luna left to live out the rest of their life at St. Mungo's, never to remember who they were or what they did – never to know they were heroes. Fred who had lost an eye, and his sense of humour after Albus had died. Who would never again see his best friend Lee Jordan, or his brother George who had both been stolen from him through murder. The Patil twins, Padma and Parvati, who had committed suicide together soon after hearing of their parents deaths. Michael Corner who had made it through the war and fled to America with a mind full of things he should never have witnessed. Colin Creevey and Dean Thomas who had been murdered at the hands of Bellatrix Lestrange and her husband Rodolphus. Cho Chang and her best friend Marietta Edgecombe had turned to the side of the Death Eaters and were now spending two life sentences in Azkaban.
And then there were the last four members – my best friend Hermione Granger, living with our other best friend Ron Weasley – who happened to be her boyfriend. His sister and my ex-girlfriend, Ginny, studying to become a Healer at St. Mungo's; and last there was me.
Me, Harry James Potter, who should have died months ago instead of allowing innocent people to fight a battle not meant for them. And as I stared at the pictures on the wall and the life I realized I didn't belong anymore. I couldn't stay in a world where I would always see a face that hid another of a ghost.
For a week I stayed with Ron and Hermione, never mentioning how I felt about everything. Every morning we would wake up, and Hermione would conjure up some breakfast as we talked of normal things. For the first time since our First Year at Hogwarts we talked about things that didn't mention life-threatening situations. Ron gossiped about things he heard around the Ministry, Hermione mentioned old school chums she'd seen who'd made it through the war. And myself? I listened, taking in everything they told me as if I were an eager child about to go to school for the first time.
But I couldn't stay. This wasn't my home any longer – I suppose you could say it never was. It was almost as if I was a visitor to the wizarding world, destined only to experience the magic and miracles it could give me and then turn away from it all. This world didn't need me – I didn't deserve it any longer.
When that week of awkwardness ended, I went to the Burrow for dinner – to celebrate my healthy recovery. As I sat there that night, I remember the feeling of complete nervousness coursing through my veins, as I waited for the moment when I would tell them the truth. And when it finally came, I still couldn't believe what I was saying myself.
"Harry! What are you planning to do now that you've saved us all? Still going to become an Auror?" Bill asked with a smile on his face and his arm around Fleur. "We could always use a new face down at Gringotts – don't rule us out because of the Goblins."
Everyone turned to me, waiting for my answer with those same bright eyes that I've come to despise so much. As I tugged on my collar and cleared my throat, I announced what I had been thinking of since that first night at the flat, "Actually...I was thinking about going to university."
Everyone cocked their heads to the side for a moment, but Hermione smiled, "Really Harry? Oh, that'd be wonderful. I was considering taking a few courses myself. Perhaps we could go together?" She glanced around at the confused faces and tried to explain, "It's just more schooling. A muggle thing."
"Oh, we have those. The Wizarding Finishing School's," Ginny said.
Ron, who still was confused, only heard the word 'schooling' and had gone off into a rant, "More schooling? Who could possibly need more schooling? I realize we didn't finish our years at Hogwarts but come on! We're adults now, aren't we?" He glanced around the room at his family and friends until he carried on, "Come on, Harry. You and I have wanted to be Auror's since we were fifteen years old. You can't possibly want to hold off that dream any longer, can you?"
Again, I cleared my throat, "Actually, Ron – Hermione – I meant that I want to go to University full time. I've been looking into some of the ones in Australia and America. Some in Canada as well."
Mrs. Weasley, who had been watching the scene unfold asked, "A Wizarding Finishing School, Harry? England is supposed to have some of the best, why aren't you looking here?"
Fred, who had been sitting silently on the couch sipping some Butterbeer, finally spoke up, "Mum, I think what Harry means to say is that he wants to go to a Muggle University – and he wants to get away from here."
Their eyes, no longer bright but still shining with confusion; turned to me once more as I nodded my head numbly.
"What do you mean 'get away from here'?" Ron burst out in anger. "Harry doesn't want to get away from London, he's the most famous wizard throughout the world – he saved everyone's lives! He could be anything he wanted, an Auror, a Quidditch player, a professor – bloody hell, he could be the Minister of Magic!"
Hermione however, who had always been much more astute towards these sort of things, shook her head sadly, "But Ron...what if he doesn't want to do any of that?"
Once again, the word appeared that I never had the answer to. One syllable and three letters – and I couldn't come up with an answer to it. As everyone waited for me to reply, I shook my head sadly and answered, "I can't stay here any longer...I don't belong."
There had been a moment of silence before Ginny spoke, "This is a joke, right? Harry, how could you possibly think you don't belong? You have more right than anyone to be in this world."
"I was just a visitor passing through, Ginny," I whispered. "You're all my family...and I promise to stay in touch with you." With that, I disapparated to the Leaky Cauldron, where my things had already been waiting for me. Hedwig had hooted when she saw me, and I remember I couldn't help but smile at her, knowing that she would always be happy see me.
Tom, bald and toothless, heard my arrival, looked up expectantly and brought out the guest book, already assuming I was there to get a room. I remember smiling sadly and shaking my head, causing my infamous scar to be visible to all whom looked.
"Would you look at that?" One wizard had whispered to another, "It's Harry Potter."
A witch then turned to her friends; a Witches Weekly magazine lay on the table with my face on the cover, as they all began to talk excitedly while throwing glances in my direction.
I sighed and turned my wand towards the trunk, ready to shrink it so that I could carry it easily throughout the London streets. I planned to return to my childhood home, hoping I could start my new life from there. But I remember thinking about what it was I was planning to do, and silently I placed the wand in my back pocket, as had been a habit since I was a teenager. Silently, I opened Hedwig's cage and whispered, "Follow me wherever I go."
As I watched the white owl fly off, I felt a tug on my robes and when I turned I remember seeing a pair of wide gray eyes. "Mister Harry Potter, sir," the little girl said. "Is it really you?"
I cleared my throat, used to these sorts of questions after hearing them all since the time I was eleven, "Yes, I am. What's your name?"
"I'm Annabella Ma—" but the girl was interrupted.
A tall man with long white, blonde hair pulled back into a ponytail came marching towards us, "Annabella Narcissa Malfoy, what have I told you about talking to strangers?"
The name Malfoy, which I hadn't heard since my sixth year at Hogwarts startled me, and when I looked up at the man I noticed the resemblance. The little girl – Annabella – turned to him and whined, "But Daddy, he's not a stranger! He's Mister Harry Potter!"
That's when Draco Malfoy and I exchanged eye contact for the first time since we were both sixteen years old. There was a moment of silence before Malfoy raised an open palm, "Hello Po—Harry. I heard you had finally left Saint Mungo's, how are you feeling?"
I watched the grimace on Malfoy's face as he greeted me politely – to which I was shocked. As I raised my own hand to shake his, I heard a squeal and looked down to see those wide, wondering gray eyes as Annabella jumped, "You know him, Daddy? You know Mister Harry Potter, Daddy? Wait until I tell all my friends! Daddy, were you and Mister Harry Potter good friends?"
For a moment Draco and I stared at each other, neither sure what to say until finally, I nod my head and allow him to turn to his daughter, "Of course, Bella. Harry and I knew each other very well at Hogwarts."
"Where's Mister Harry Potter going, Daddy? He's got all his stuff with him – you're not leaving, are you Mister Harry Potter?" the young girl stared up at me, those shining eyes filled with wonder.
I stammered, "I—I was going to visit my..." there was a moments pause as I thought of the Dursely's until I finished lamely. "...family."
Bella looked up at me with a huge smile, "I like family! Daddy lets me watch Barney, and they sing about family all the time! 'I love you, you love me, we're a happy fami—'"
"That's all right, Bella. I think Harry would like to go and visit them. How about you go visit with Mommy, okay?" Draco teased, reaching down to pinch the girl's cheeks.
She giggled and rolled her eyes, "Okay Daddy. Bye bye Mister Harry Potter, sir."
As she walked away while waving at me, I remember turning towards Draco and saying, "You let her watch Barney?"
"She likes it, and my wife enjoys muggle television," Draco retorted though not in the cruel tone that had been so common for him when we had been teenagers.
"Aren't you a bit too young to be a father?"
Draco shook his head as he gazed over at the dark haired woman who held Bella's hand, "No. I'm not – I wasn't. After I escaped from Hogwarts, Pansy said that we shouldn't waste time," Draco smiled with a dazed look on his face. "Now that I think back to that night, I think she meant she wanted us to leave for America. But the only thing on my mind was that I wanted to have a family, and I loved her. That was all that mattered to me, and I'm lucky enough to say I got what I wanted. Bella's turning three next month, you know?"
I shook my head, in my own dazed expression for Draco did not stare at me with wide eyes. He did not ask me questions as to why I lived while his father now rotted away in Azkaban. Draco was one of the lucky few who gained something from this war – I have heard, life to the dead means a second chance; and I believe Draco was near dead when the war began.
I don't remember much else of what we talked about; there had been some moments of awkward silence, neither sure of what to say. Only, it never mattered for our conversation would slowly drift back towards Bella, and Draco's life with his family.
As I stand here today, I can tell you the irony about my first meeting with Draco still runs fresh in my mind today. Wizards and witches – neither of which I'd ever met – knew exactly who I was. But Draco Malfoy – an eleven-year-old boy who had most likely heard all the stories about me – had treated me like any other Hogwarts first year.
Draco had been the first person to meet me in the wizarding world and not know who I was.
I never did make it to the Dursley's home that night – in fact, I haven't returned there since the summer of my seventeenth birthday. Nor did I return to the wizarding world. Instead, I found a small hotel room and stayed the night while making travel plans on the phone – I made plans to fly to Canada.
And now, here I stand in Vancouver – I'm attending a muggle university and I have friends who have never heard of me before. In fact, no one has, for my name is now James Evans. From time to time I still use magic, though my wand feels awkward when I hold it. I write letters to the Weasley's and allow the muggle post to carry it across the vast ocean that separates us – in one of her letters, Mrs. Weasley said she had started a stamp collection, saying Mr. Weasley would have loved it so.
Ron and Hermione got married last summer and I went to their wedding, and I am now the Godfather to their newborn son, George Arthur Weasley. They tell me often of the life I'm missing out on, and how the Daily Prophet still has articles about where I might be. The Quibbler did a cover on how I had become a Hippogriff Animagi and it had somehow gone wrong. When I was told of this, I laughed hard and long until Hermione told me Luna had died in her sleep the week before.
I still think of my friends from Hogwarts every day, and I think of all the lives that were lost because of me. On the anniversary of the Final Battle I don't go to classes, simply telling my friends it's something they wouldn't understand. I'll never forget the people who stood strong beside me when they didn't have to. They were the true heroes of the battle, I was just one man – one boy – who had had the whole world thrust upon his shoulders at the age of eleven.
Their blood is on my hands, and I will never forget their names.
A/N: This is a story that I couldn't get out of my mind. All that kept running through my mind was, "How would Harry feel if he survived?" You see so many stories where he dies and Ginny grieves, and in all the stories where he survives Harry's married and happy.
But I just had to wonder...what if he thought it was his fault? He does have a knack of blaming himself doesn't he?
So...this is where I got, and I hope you enjoyed reading it!