This plot has been running in circles in my mind for days, literally. I don't think someone's done it before, this whole "Hermione meets Harry's parents in the beyond", if it has been done, I haven't seen it.
Anyway, it was supposed to be a light-hearted oneshot, but… the angst kind of snuck up on me and I couldn't twist the story to be more happy, so, yeah. Still, I hope you enjoy it.
Disclaimer: HP belongs to JKR, I'm just playing with her toys.
"a vast ocean of green"
(dh au, sequel to "put 1 and 0 together" // "He has my eyes." Second chances come for a prize, and Hermione finds hers to be too high.)
The first thing Hermione became aware of was the cool, hard floor under her back-her very naked back. The next thing that made it into her consciousness was that, regardless of her nude state, she didn't feel cold, in fact she felt pretty comfortable. The last thing her mind registered was that, wherever she was, it was very bright.
That, and the hand caressing her hair.
She opened her eyes, blinking a few times to disperse the blurriness. A pair of green eyes came into focus slowly, so familiar, so loved, and Hermione smiled.
The eyes glinted affectionately, but the chuckle that followed was not the one she expected to hear.
"I'm sorry, dear, but you got the wrong Potter."
No, that soft and feminine voice did most definitely not belong to Harry. And as she finally managed to regain enough focus to see clearly, she realized the voice was right: she got the wrong Potter. Sitting up quickly, and regretting it for a brief second, Hermione turned around to face the one person she really never expected to meet-ever.
"You… you're Harry's-"
"-mother, yes," the auburn haired woman cut quickly, offering her hand. "Lily Potter. It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Hermione."
Dumbfounded, Hermione shook the offered hand slowly, not quite believing her eyes. "Uh… The pleasure is mine, Mrs Potter."
"Just Lily, please."
Lily stood up and gave her an amused smile before motioning for her to stand up as well. Once she did, Lily gave her an once-over before arching her eyebrow. "You know, James is dying to meet you and I'm sure Sirius wants to see you too, but I really doubt you want to stay… like that while meeting your boyfriend's father and godfather."
Hermione tilted her head to the side in confusion before gasping, her eyes widening once she grasped Lily's meaning. Quickly, although her mind reminded her it was rather pointless now, she used the arms to cover herself as best as she could, and blushed brightly when Harry's mother laughed in response. "Ah…"
"Just think of something comfortable to wear and it should fix your predicament."
Hermione nodded once and then closed her eyes and pictured herself wearing a pair of shorts and a jersey. She opened her eyes when she felt the whispers of soft fabric touching her skin, looking briefly over her shoulder she caught sight of the word POTTER across her back and smiled.
Lily chuckled softly, successfully snapping her attention back to her. "So, when did he stake his claim?"
A blush graced her cheeks, growing more intense as the memories of that Christmas day, and the week that followed, when their feelings finally broke free of their restrains, filled her mind. Looking back now, it was she the one staking claims, but then Harry wasn't complaining and he said, in no uncertain terms, that he wasn't letting her go after that night. When she answered, she wasn't completely aware of it. "It was Christmas, but it wasn't about staking claims as much as merely recognizing we were idiots for denying the obvious for so long."
Lily smiled knowingly at her words, but offered no comments. "Come on, then. Time for introductions."
Taking her hand, one Lily Potter led her somewhere off to her left and only then Hermione became aware of her surroundings.
It was an endless blank space, filled in white and perhaps too bright. There was no distinctive horizon and no shape of form that she could recognize.
Eventually Lily stopped in front of a door that came out of nowhere. She turned to look at her and with her ever-present smile, spoke. "Welcome, to the Potter's ancestral home."
The door opened to reveal a magnificent hall, with a marble staircase leading to the balcony of the second floor, from where two other set of staircases rose from each corner to the third floor. However, Hermione didn't have much time to admire it because as soon as Lily closed the door behind them a black blur shot straight at her, enveloping her in a massive hug.
"Hermione! It's good to see you again!"
"Sirius!" And that was all she managed to say, for Sirius tightened his embrace, effectively locking her arms at her sides and thus preventing her from returning the gesture.
Lily laughed next to them, patting Sirius on the shoulder. "Enough, Padfoot, you're going to smother her."
And it was true, too. The embrace was too tight and prolonging too much and Hermione found she was having problems breathing. "Can't! Breathe!"
Sirius picked her up, spun once, and then let her go, smiling widely. "Sorry about that, Hermione."
She smiled back, a little surprised by his displayed exuberance, but before she could answer to his apology, Sirius took hers and Lily's hand and started dragging them down a hallway off to their right, urging them to go faster with each step.
"Hurry up! James can't wait another second to meet the girl who conquered Harry's heart!"
Soon, Hermione was ushered into what she supposed was the drawing room of the Potter's home. And there, walking towards her with a warm smile, was the boy she loved above anyone else-
-only, not really.
James Potter grinned at her, pulling her into a warm hug before stepping back and moving to stand by his wife. "Sorry, kiddo, wrong Potter."
His comment struck a chord deep within her; this was the second time she named the wrong Potter since she woke up… there. She felt Sirius, and she knew it was him simply because the Potters were walking a few feet ahead of her, push her gently until she was sitting, but her mind was not really there, no-her mind was on the fact that no matter how hard she tried to remember where Harry was, she couldn't. Oh, she remembered being with him… fighting maybe, before waking up there, but she couldn't remember under which circumstances they got separated and…
She looked up into those green eyes she loved so, only they came with the wrong face-the wrong Potter. And, suddenly, it all made sense. Her being where she was, Harry being somewhere else-alive.
The three adults smiled grimly at her, not saying a word. Lily stood up and walked to the other side of the room, near the windows, while James knelt in front of her, grasping her hands.
"We were wondering when it was going to sink in," said Sirius, giving her shoulder a gentle squeeze.
"So I… I'm dead?"
James gave her hands a firm squeeze and nodded; next to her, Sirius nodded solemnly as well.
"Bellatrix," said Sirius, a dark frown marring his face. "When Hagrid put Harry at Voldemort's feet you… lost it. You shot a spell at Voldemort and the battle began anew."
"It was pretty chaotic for a while," said James, picking up the tale where Sirius trailed off. "We, as in the three of us, couldn't keep track of what was happening, until…"
James' sad gaze locked onto hers, but he said no more. Hermione could see the conflicting emotions running behind his hazel eyes, so she tried to prompt him to keep talking; she needed to know what happened to her-to Harry. But she needed not to worry, for Lily chose that moment to speak.
"Until you heard Harry scream your name, then you turned in time to see him cast the Shielding Charm that blocked the Curse Voldemort aimed at you."
Hermione looked at her in shock, her mind running a mile per second as images flashed before her eyes. She didn't have time to take in the sight Lily presented fully, because Sirius voice broke through her racing thoughts just then.
"That's when my dear cousin took advantage of the distraction, and struck you with a Killing Curse."
It all was too much to take in. She was dead. Harry was alive. But how? She had seen his body and… did it matter? He was alive! Harry was alive and well and…
She released her hands from James' grasp and slid them over her lower abdomen, pressing lightly; her eyes closed tightly as tears pooled at the edges but she refused to break down yet. "Oh, Harry…"
In one careless moment, Harry lost the only family he had left; the family he'd been certain he would have for the rest of his life. His family.
"I'm so sorry…"
"Why are you apologizing? It wasn't-"
"It was!" Hermione didn't dare open her eyes and look into Lily's, no, such a sight would certainly break her; to remember Harry while looking into those eyes, imagine his grief… no, she couldn't take it. "It was… I failed him. I promised him we would survive the battle and live long and happy, and I screwed up. I promised him the family he craved since he was a baby… I promised him his happily ever after and… and… I failed!"
"You haven't failed, Hermione. You still have a chance to keep your promises."
Her eyes snapped open in time to see Lily place a black-haired, green-eyed baby boy on her lap. The boy looked to be about one year old, and seemed very happy to be in her arms if his brilliant, dimpled smile said anything. Unconsciously, her arms went around him, pulling him closer and feeling… a connection.
The boy cooed at her and something sparked in Hermione's mind.
"He has my eyes," said Lily, drawing her attention away from the boy for a while. "Harry's eyes."
This, more than anything else, finally broke her, and the tears she'd been holding back trailed free down her cheeks. Hermione hugged the boy (her son, Harry's son, dear God) to her chest and cried silently, regretting her mistake deeply. Oh, how she wished she could go back, just to be able to right all her wrongs, starting with that kiss at the end of Fourth Year, when she'd so wanted to kiss his lips before chickening out.
Oh, if only…
And then Lily's words came back to her. She looked up, into the expectant gazes of Lily, James and Sirius, before voicing her question and was greeted with relieved, although still slightly, sad smiles.
"Yes, you've been granted a second chance. We can send you back to the realm of the living," said James, absentmindedly ruffling his grandson's hair.
"How will you do that? I thought nobody survived the Killing Curse."
"Under normal circumstances, Hermione, nobody can," said Sirius. "But as I'm sure you know, the purpose of the Killing Curse is to claim a life-a soul."
Lily took a seat on her other side and stroked her hair. "Once a person dies, Hermione, the soul takes a full minute to leave the body, then hovers for about two more minutes until all the links that keep it attached to the body are severed. Muggle doctors, when the heart of a patient stops, do their best to work within these three minutes to reanimate the person, to make the heart beat again. Healers do the same. If the body cannot be reanimated within those three minutes, the soul leaves completely and the person dies. That's what happens under normal circumstances."
"The Killing Curse bypasses those three minutes by forcing the soul to leave the body, severing all the links, immediately," James said, continuing the explanation. "A person struck with a Killing curse equals to a person who's been dead for a least ten minutes."
"Then how can I go back? Who knows how long I've been here! And-"
Lily stopped her rant by placing a hand over her mouth, and shook her head with something close to exasperation. "You're missing the point, Hermione. Remember what Sirius said."
"The Killing Curse's only purpose is to claim a soul," she replied quickly.
Next to her, Sirius nodded encouragingly. "Exactly. A soul, just one."
"And when Bellatrix struck you down," said James, looking impossibly sad. "There were two souls in your body."
Hermione gasped and her gaze shot down to the baby cuddling in her arms, dozing off as the conversation around him was simply too boring for him to stay awake. She didn't need to hear anything else, her mind drawing a conclusion the moment James finished talking. A searing pain blossomed within her chest, but she knew that no matter what she said-what she did, the decision was already made.
She'd already lost.
Harry watched her silently from afar.
It'd been three days since the War officially ended, three days since Lord Voldemort was finished for good. Three days since Hermione was struck down by Bellatrix curse.
Harry didn't remember much after Hermione fell. Oh, he remembered the panic and the rage, but everything else was a blur and when he came to Neville was screaming for someone to help him take Hermione to the Hospital Wing before she lost too much blood. The Order and the Professors had taken care of the remaining Death Eaters, those who had escaped the blast that obliterated Voldemort, that is, as he rushed to Hermione and Dissaparated.
A quick scan and some potions later, and Harry spend the next two days sitting by her, watching her recover slowly.
When Hermione woke up, she had been inconsolable. She spent the good part of an hour sobbing in his arms; mourning the loss of what later he would know to be his unborn son. Once she'd calmed down enough, she told him everything: her encounter with his parents and Sirius and why she had such encounter; the choice to come back that was taken from her even before she knew she had it; the despair she felt when she was pushed back…
Harry could understand her grief, because, unlike her, he had been given his choice, a choice he made gladly because he could not fathom to leave Hermione alone in this world… Had he been in her place, he knew he would have made the same choice she did… if the choice had been his -hers- to make.
But as it was, their unborn child had chosen for them.
Succumbing to the urge to have her in his arms, Harry closed the distance between them and sat behind her, embracing her shaking form. Hermione took one shuddering breath and gave into his silent plea to let him share her pain, snuggling into his chest.
"He had your eyes," said Hermione.
He tightened his embrace, feeling as she fisted her hands on his jumper, and reminded himself to be strong. "Y-yeah?"
Hermione nodded slowly, and he could feel her tears soaking through his clothes. "And you hair too. He had the cutest little smile and… and dimples. Your dad said he was just like you…" She took a deep breath, moving her head until her face pressed against the side of his neck. "He… he was perfect, Harry, perfect."
And what was he supposed to say? How was he supposed to fix this? How could… how could he make all this pain go away? He had no bloody idea! Oh, why, why, why did fate like to screw with his life so much?!
"I'm so sorry, Harry…"
"Hey, no… It's not your fault, it's not… not your fault, Hermione," he had to stop talking, he was nearing his breaking point and he needed to remain strong.
But, of course, Hermione, who was so attuned with him, had other ideas. Reaching up, she grabbed the back of his head and pulled until their forehead bumped. "Harry…" That was all it took, his name on her lips, the willingness to share their pain darkening her eyes, and his tears were free to roam his cheeks.
"It's okay…" he whispered. "It's okay, love, he's okay… He's with mum and dad and Sirius and they'll love him as… as…"
"As much as we do," she completed his sentence. "And when the time comes, we will see him again. For now we just…"
Harry closed his eyes, and the image of a small black-haired and green-eyed boy flashed by, with the cutest little smile and dimples on his cheeks, chanting "bye-bye" from his place in the arms of the mother he never knew; his father and godfather flanking her.
He opened his eyes, dropping a kiss to Hermione's temple, and let the tears dry in his cheeks. "For now we just live."
So, there it is? Are you crying? Well, I'm not but I am sad… shoo, this is why I don't like angsty fics, makes me sad…Document created with wvWare/wvWare version 1.2.7