Chapter 1 : One.
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Harry opened his eyes blearily, everything was rather blurred. He seemed to be lying in a brightly lit hospital wing, dark brisk shapes swam in and out of his vision. He wondered if he’d had another Quidditch accident. He hoped dearly that no one had set Lockhart on him but he did indeed feel as if he had lost his bones, flat and rubbery and exhausted. Had they made him down a bottle of Skele-Gro? He moved his neck an inch, a crowd of faces stared down at him.
A healer bustled by, setting a vial of vivid green potion on Harry’s table. He stared at the vial before him, maybe if he closed his eyes he wouldn’t have to drink it again. He felt his stomach growl angrily, Ron and Hermione would have brought him some food, maybe a caldron cake or a chocolate frog. Madam Pomfrey couldn’t object to that surely? Harry opened his eyes, reached over for the potion and sat up slightly, if he was going to get in her good books, he’d have to drink it. It didn’t taste like Skele-Gro, or burn. His entire body was numb instantly. Ah, pain relief potion.
“Dad!” exclaimed Albus. “You’re awake!” Alas, thought Harry, no chocolate frogs then.
“Oh, Am I? Lovely,” his feeble attempt at a joke was met with laughter. Of course it was, he was the 117 year old ‘Chosen One’, people always laughed along. He looked up, he could see his children, his beloved godson, Teddy, his nieces and nephews, his grandchildren, great grandchildren and a few great great grandchildren scattered around his bedside looking worried. Gathering that he was in St. Mungo’s, Harry got down to business. He was old and his family looked worried, he assumed it was serious.
“James, son, look for Hermione’s old beaded bag will you? Just under there,” He gestured pathetically, when did his arms stop doing as he told them? “Brill. In there’s my Invisibility cloak. You, Al and Lil are to share it, and pass it down through your kids too,” There was emphasis on the word ‘share’ which brought people to chuckle. When the kids were at Hogwarts they used to squabble endlessly about the cloak. Some of the grandchildren and great grandchildren looked thrilled at one day getting the cloak, and then they remembered to look sad. James nodded silently and returned it to the bag.
“Dad,” said Lily, her voice quavering. “What about your wand?” She drew it out carefully, fingers trembling and laid it in his hand; he gave it a flick and returned it to her.
“I think, maybe we should have it...buried with me. I adore my wand.” Lily’s eyes filled with tears and she placed it in the bag next to the cloak. Harry sighed and looked around. The healers didn’t seem busy, most were in awe of him. There was a crowd of people at the window, Harry felt a rush of sorrow and waved weakly. A Creevy relation snapped a photo and murmured to his Quick-Quotes-Quill which scribbled furiously, of course the Daily Prophet was getting in on this. Harry smiled fondly, looked up at all the tear filled eyes for the last time and closed his own. Like his ancestor Ignotus Peverell before him, Harry met Death gladly, as an old friend and they departed as equals.
Harry saw black once more, there was a peaceful silence surrounding him, he felt a slight squeezing sensation, like mild Apparation, and then found himself lying on a ground of sorts. The ground had no texture, temperature or angle, it just was. Harry wasted no time in opening his eyes and sitting up. He was in a white translucent mist, which swirled around in indistinct shapes. Looking down, he was not surprised that he was naked, nor that he could see clearly without his glasses. His body was no longer scarred from his Auror days, it was no longer the body of an old man, he was 17 again. He seemed to be alone but assumed Dumbledore would arrive and for then Harry thought he’d prefer to be clothed, and then ,as if by magic, robes appeared. Pulling them on he chuckled to himself, ‘as if by magic’ what was he? A muggle?
Harry resolved himself to wait for Dumbledore, wishing for some company. He sat back on his heels and waited, peering out inside the ever-swirling mist. A black figure appeared on the horizon, striding forward at an alarming rate, cloak billowing out behind him, he looked almost regal. Harry peered at it, it was a man, and it drew closer. It was Severus Snape! Snape stood before Harry who said nervously,
“Severus, I mean... Snape...I mean Professor Snape, I mean...” Harry drew himself to his full height and looked Snape in the eye awkwardly, Snape smirked.
“Potter,” he said, with a hint of greeting in his tone. Severus Snape had been changed by death. His long black hair was shining; he was broader, seemed taller and was almost tanned. His face was not wrinkled or drawn but looked as if it could possibly...smile. The idea of that was so alien it was disturbing to Harry's brain.
“I expect you have questions. Follow,” And with that he strode off, leaving Harry to scramble after him like a child, forgetting that he was over three times Snape’s age and in fact Harry Potter.
They walked swiftly and in silence until Harry broke it,
“So, we’re dead,”
“Obviously,” said Snape, curtly.
“And this is Heaven?”
“You speak of Heaven how you used to speak of mind reading, these are muggle ideas. This is not Heaven, this is after. After-Death. Do not expect to run into a wise man with flowing white hair and white robes. Unless of course it’s Albus Dumbledore,” Snape made a strange noise that sounded somewhat like a laugh. Harry decided he liked the new Snape.
“And I wanted to say thanks, sir,” Harry continued, clumsily,
“For what, Potter?” Snape asked sternly,
“Saving humankind for Lord Voldemort,” he retorted bravely, Snape glanced and him and said,
“No matter, Potter,” he almost blushed. “Thank you for erm, naming your son for me,”
Snape looked down and away, it was awkward and Harry wished he’d stayed quiet. Looking around Harry could see the mist solidifying, it was becoming something,
“King’s Cross Station, of course!” Harry exclaimed, it was still white, but different shades of it. The ground was becoming porcelain white, hard and shining, the sky a glowing cloudy white. There was a spectrum of shades that weren’t a greyish white or a blueish white but just different shades of the colour, that were all real but all, blatantly white. The air smelled faintly like spring, cool, crisp, fresh and new, the light that streamed from all angles in never ending ribbons was almost blinding. Harry blinked, feeling somewhat like a trapped animal.
“Getting wiser for your years I see,” said Snape,
His eye twitched in what could have been a wink. Harry took it as friendly. They carried on walking.
“And what? I’m supposed to board a train?”
“Yes. There are three trains: Past, Present and Future. We all make this choice, which to take, do you want to leave an imprint of your soul, as a ghost among the living?” asked Snape with obvious disdain for that path.
“N-no, sir,” said Harry, with a rush of newfound respect for Nearly-Headless Nick, with a guide like Snape there was a certain bravery in being afraid of death.
“Right,” continued Snape, “So, you must board the train of Past,”
“Because, to freely be in the future, you have to understand the past,” Snape sighed boredly, turned on his heel and began to walk away.
“SIR, wait!” cried Harry “What are those?” he asked, pointing. There were bright spots of mist, they twisted and formed beings, like human patronuses. They were brighter than light, lighter than air and they danced and twirled like Veela. They all seemed to levitate towards different trains on the three stark white platforms. Each platform seemed empty to Harry but the shapes disappeared into invisibility, spilling into nothing like into a broken dam.
“The souls, Potter,” said Snape exasperatedly, as if it were obvious.
Snape strode away, as quickly as he had appeared. He was gone. Harry watched the shapes, he was mesmerized by them. He assumed that they were like him, newly dead and awaiting guidance. He saw one flit on the train marked Present another to the Future. A train pulled up beside him, it was a deep claret red, like the Hogwarts Express. Harry tore his eyes away from the souls and searched for some kind of sign reading Past like there were on the other trains. There was none, but feeling lucky, like he was on Felix Felicis, Harry climbed aboard anyway.
A woman with strange, baby blue, long hair grabbed his hand and dragged him into a compartment. She gripped him in a bear hug.
“Tonks!” Harry cried. She didn’t seem to want to let go, Harry looked behind her and yes, it was Remus Lupin, looking younger and happier than Harry had ever seen him, his face split by a large grin. Tonks finally let go and Harry took a look at her, she looked the same as always, cheery and lovely. Her hair was suddenly flaming orange.
“Will you ever grow up and stop changing it?” Harry laughed, “You’re just the same as Teddy and Remus,”
“She is not the same as me,” Remus argued jovially pulling Harry into a hug,
“I meant Teddy’s son...” Harry explained, “Don’t you know about him?”
“Course we do, he’s pulling your leg,” Tonks said, grinning.
Harry plonked himself down next to her. The train was old fashioned, like the Hogwart's express, except they were the only people on it. They were sat in a compartment and there was more white mist outside the window. It was a rectangular room, bathed in the same bright light, the candles that lined the walls seemed pointless next to the dazzling window. The walls were deep, curdling mustard, Harry decided he didn't like the colour and they faded to a glimmering gold and that next to the royal red velvet seats, made Harry feel as if he were in the Griffindor common room, safe, at home. The train began to pull out of the station.
“So, you’ve been watching me?” he asked,
“Oh yes, you’re like muggle TV!” said Remus. “Congrats on the kids mate,”
“And thanks for watching over Teddy,” added Tonks, sounding almost sad.
“I hear you were met by none other than Snivellus Snape at the station,” continued Remus “Gives him a break from moping around after your mum, if James didn’t like him so much these days, he’d be showing us his knickers faster than you can say Levicorpus,”
Harry felt a twinge of guilt, having seen the last time he’d had that used on him,
“Don’t call him Snivellus, he’s a war hero, like you are,” Harry retorted “And since when did my dad like Snape?!”
The Mauraders hated Snape, it was common knowledge.
“When am I seeing the others anyway?”
“We know Harry, we like him really,” said Tonks softly, “We like everyone, you can’t hate people here. You can choose your emotions and you’re normally happy all the time. You’ll probably like Draco. You’ll see your Dad and your Mum soon, Sirius even sooner. You’ve got to learn about this place, newbie!”
“Anything else he should know?” Remus asked his wife fretfully, as if they weren’t doing a good job.
“Ooh you can choose your age too!” and as if to prove it, Tonks shrunk into a 10 year old girl with lime green pigtails.
“Creeps me out when people do it though, Albus Dumbledore spends a lot of his time as a gurgling baby. It’s weird,” whispered Remus. Tonks grew back up again.
“You can only be as old as you died though,” she continued, she then stood and pressed a button.
“I can’t make it past 38,” said Remus wistfully.
And with this the train came to a juddering halt, outside the window was still misted but it was becoming shapes again.
“Your stop Harry, up you get,” said Tonks, pulling him to his feet and to the dimly lit corridor. The wide doors slide open for him and he looked tentatively outside.
“But where am I?”
“Godric’s Hollow of course,” they chorused and pushed him out.
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