A/N: Just a little something from a drabble that I've had kicking around on my drives.
I never expected to be the one who survived.
In a way, I was the odd one, the one who the odds just seemed stacked against. They called us the "Golden Trio" behind our backs, and occasionally to our faces. They scorned us, all of us for various reasons, me for being smart, a genius really if I were to be so vain, that and being a Mudblood and better than so many of them, and I was, but not for what they think of. Ron, he was the target of so much, of his being a "blood traitor" from a family of them, of his family's destituteness, and his sheer…Ronness… I really should use actual words, but I'm tired. And Harry, he was the best of us, so much better than the rest of those Neanderthals with magic, and the ones without, so why am I the only one who walked away from that night, alive, though not whole, not in the slightest.
He was the true leader, despite those who said I made his decisions for him, I did not. He was the shining example for who we should have been, had we but known it, and the one who in the end deserved so much more. A life, a home, a warm, filled bed to come home to at night, he was the one above all of us who deserved that. And Merlin, I wanted nothing more than to give it to him.
No, I was the one who should have died, who should have been the one never to come back that last night, but I was not. Ron was the first of us, lost to the darkness, and in some ways, though I love him still, though not in the way he had hoped and part of me had as well, he chose his own fate. The night he left Harry and I, left us together in a cold, tent in the middle of a blizzard for the warmth and love of his brother's hearth he sealed both his fate and any chance of what he had courted me for, in his own haphazard way, for years. That night, as I watched him vanish, and I turned to watch Harry's shoulders slump as he turned away, I knew he was not what I truly wanted.
And as he made it to his brother's hidden home, he attracted the attention of a band of Snatchers, who ambushed him as he stepped through the wards of Bill's home. In the end, he attributed himself well, between him, Bill and Fluer, two dozen of the dark Aurors and Death Eaters fell, to only their three, Bill and Ron to an eternal sleep, and Fleur to a madness that keeps her in St. Mungo's still.
I remember the day we heard, heard from a wizard Harry and I knew casually, who had graduated a year before Dumbledore died, and I watched as Harry changed, as the last mantle on his powers crumbled, and the last shackle on his heart closed.
All those years ago, Tom Riddle had indeed marked Harry as his equal, as the one who could face him to a standstill, and indeed the prophesy was right. Harry was his equal, at one. Not at eighteen, the day that he finally stood against him for the last time. Dumbledore was in many ways, an idiot. An old man, who for all his past greatness, had become so set in his ways, so set in what he thought the world should be that he never understood the realities of who he was fighting, or the people that were truly fighting the war. By the time Harry stood against Voldemort, on a lightning torn, rain and sleet-filled night, he had broken through at least two and perhaps three separate bindings on his potential, and even Tom's years of dark study could not match him in the end, or at least I don't think they could. Harry never came back that night, and the only thing I found by the time I made it there, with nearly half my leg blown off from my own fight with Bellatrix, only a hundred meter crater remained of the battlefield, with only a small pile of shattered bones and ashes, along with a broken ebony wand, remaining of Voldemort.
I only found Harry's wand, and no other sign of the man who…I will miss more than anyone.
It might have been different, we might have prepared differently, had we known the truth, that Harry's powers had grown so, that the shackles had only provided a means to further exercise his power to grow them beyond anything seen in centuries, as the strain had, just like a set of physical muscles, caused this magical might to grow and strengthen. Perhaps Dumbledore wasn't that stupid in that after all, but if so, he died before he realized his plan, if it was such.
It has been almost five years since that day Harry…left, and I have not been back to England since a few days after. I escaped to Australia, only to find that my parents had died, not from a Death Eater or some random bounty hunter looking for a spot of gold, but in a stupid auto accident, victim of a lorry whose brakes should have been replaced the year before.
With no other anchor left on my life, Hogwarts seemed a distant memory, and most of the Weasleys did not want to have much to do with me, blaming me for Ron's death, since Harry was out of their reach after all, I stepped into the shadows and vanished. An owl caught up with me in Siberia, and I learned that I was the richest witch in the world, or at least how the goblins put it, I was the designated heir to the Potter, Black and Gryffindor fortunes. Technically, according to them, I was only the caretaker to the vaults, since they only considered a wizard dead once they had found the body. They still held Merlin's vault ready for him, periodically expanding it to hold the compound interest, and since Harry had left no body, he was only in more or less in limbo.
A year later, in the middle of the Amazon, I found myself disturbed by another owl, this one a wedding invitation to Ginny and some random wizard's wedding, who except for blue eyes, and an unblemished forehead looked much like another wizard who once held her heart, or something. For some reason, I chose not to go.
I spent the rest of the time traveling, moving from place to place, sometimes staying in Potter or Black residences, sometimes in swanky hotels, and sometimes in mud huts or under bridges, it did not really seem to matter to me.
Could I have changed it, could I have led him to come home, would he have come back that night had I said what I almost said before we split up, to run to our battles against our nemesises? Could the three little words that I had longed to hear him say for so long when I was younger and then had given up on, could those three have caused him to return? I don't really know if I want to know, for I think the answer might just destroy me.
I have changed over the years, the long bushy mass of hair is gone, bobbed off at my ears more or less, it was too much of a pain to keep anywhere near neat and orderly, not that it ever was. The last bit of baby fat that I carried is long gone as well, or at least that's what I infer from the not so occasional pass that I have directed my way when I am in a local, such as now, where the dress is more relaxed than that of my years in England. I have even taken up a few of the offers. Why not, I am a witch after all, and between the lifespan and the natural immunity to most any Muggle ailment my magic offers, I can afford to play. Not that any of them mattered the next day, or even an hour later in most cases.
It turns out that there were a lot of things us poor Muggle-born and Muggle-raised did not know, or at least were never told that that even needed to look or where to look for it. The extended lifespan for us was only mentioned casually, and we never thought about the ramifications or looked about us at them, since everyone we were around was older or was our age. I am twenty-four and I look as if I'm eighteen, and with the exercise I get these days and a very fit eighteen. By the time I'm forty, barring just letting myself go like so many witches do in England, I will probably still look maybe twenty or so, and the gap will only grow larger as my Muggle peers age.
Likewise no one told us about the greater world, about where I could go or what I could do. I have solved great mysteries since I left, cracked a thousand-year-old ward in the mountains of Japan, I have visited the deep sea colonies of the Merpeople of Alaska, ghostwritten two books about Harry, and the war, and I have fought duels for honor against men and women who called Harry a coward for the way the war ended.
Sometimes I wonder if I should have convinced Harry to leave with me that night after Ron left, if I could have just convinced him to leave England to that maniac, and gone somewhere else, I did try, I think, unconsciously, when I asked if we could just stay in the Forest of Dean and grow old together. Of course, I don't know that I could have, Harry was the reluctant savior, the tired warrior, the one who fought for others and never himself, and the only means that I think would have swayed him, I was not yet ready to give, not even to him. I had not yet been ready the night he left either.
Hermione paused and stood, laying aside her journal to stretch, rising on her toes. The late afternoon was pleasant for southeast Asia, here on the southeast Thailand coast along a deserted beach. Walking to a low beach wall she stood for a long moment, letting the breeze rustle her skirt and thin white shirt, causing a faint shiver along her torso. She frowned and sighed faintly before sitting back down on the beach wall, and summoning the journal to her hand to start once more.
I don't know why I wasn't. Even then, even as I cried and let my heart break for one of my boys, I knew the one who would never abandon me was beside me still. Or at least, he would never leave me by his own choice. But that choice had been taken from him years before, by a half-mad old hag with delusions that she was a prophet, an old man with delusions of greatness, and a unrecalitrant bastard with delusions of love…and to this day, I am not totally sure which is which.
Had I but known, I would have dragged him kicking and screaming to my bed that night, if only to delay the inevitable, to delay the last time I would hear his voice or catch a glimpse of the eyes that have haunted my dreams.
Instead, to remember the confused little boy who I first met on a swaying, clattering old train, and the man who shattered the hold the darkness had established over a country, and prevented the shadow from falling over the rest of the world, I only have a holly wand that seems to like me just about as well as my own, and a sword that seems to come to my hand when I want it. And I have a feeling that the name on it before it said Gryffindor might have started with an E.
And if so, I wish I knew what my role is in this cycle of time. Am I Gwenivere or Nimue? If I am the later, then why is my Merlin missing, why can't I have sealed him away for his safety in the endless cave? And if I am the former, Ron might have been my Lancelot, but why can't I change the ending to be with the Arthur that I truly want?
I once, growing up that is, believed in God, in a higher power that in the end, would make everything all right. But now, I truly do not know. In my life, in the years that I have had here I have seen wonders, true absolute miracles that not even magic can explain, but I have also seen the darkest depths of depravity. I hurt, maimed and killed others in acts of war, and even at times danced on that dark, razor sharp line between justice and murder. And I have watched those that I love, be taken from me without rhyme or reason, while their killers and tormentors walk away with a smile on their lips and a jingle in their walk.
A Muggle song that my mother loved talks about a time to heal, a time to live and a time to die. I don't know if this is that time for me. I have thought, more than once about stepping beyond the veil to see what is on the other side, to see if I can once more find the warmth to fill my heart and bones that does not seem to be within me. Not any longer.
The only thing that has kept me here, here where my parents are gone, gone without even having ever regained their memories of me, where a man that I could have loved, though its questionable if I could have tolerated, and the man who I did love, even though I never had the courage to tell him both are gone, is that I cannot be sure that I would be with them. Even the best theoretical magic texts, and the surest theologians cannot tell me for sure where I would end.
Is there a soul? Of that question, I have no doubt, I have seen the darkness tear and rend at them, and I have seen the steel shining in emerald eyes when all was otherwise lost, but yet he could not, would not surrender to the darkness. But Sirius, James, Lily, Remus, Tonks, Ron, Dobby, all the rest, where did they end? And more importantly, where did Harry end? Where is he now? At the feet of Merlin? Playing Quidditch with Ron, his father, Sirius and the rest? Fighting off the demons that torture us all in life and possibly more when we are gone?
Until I have these answers, I will not surrender lightly. I will join my family, all of them in blood and heart, wherever they are, in the pits if all of the magic users are truly damned as the Church thought in the dark ages, or in a more heavenly place, wherever or whatever Harry's heaven might be as that would me mine as well.
Looking around, she reached down under her skirt to draw a holly wand strapped to her thigh and flicked it, causing a tea set to appear, with the pot already steaming. She poured herself a cup and frowned, letting the brew sooth her thoughts for a moment.
Because of this, because I am too tired to do anything else, and too desperate to care, I will do what I should have done long since, I will look back into that night to see what happened when Harry and I were separated. Over all the years, I have kept one secret, one bit of magic that I never shared with Harry or Ron, that I was able to duplicate the time turners using a sample of the sand, that I grabbed that night at the Ministry, when all the others shattered. I found some sand in my pocket, the next day, some must have fallen there, and until recently I could not duplicate the process to make more.
I'm still not sure how I got here. That night, that last night, I only distantly remember the battle, Tom's terrible scream that tore at my very soul as the sword emerged from his back. There was a flash, and a terrible pressure, and then I woke up on a tiny island off the coast of Wales. I was in a cave, a dark, damp place, and I was all alone. My wand, glasses, the Gryffindor sword, even my clothes were gone when I awoke on a stone table, but all of that that would have been alright if she had been there waiting for me to wake. Just like she had so many other times before.
We lost Ron earlier that year, over a stupid argument that should have been settled years before. He died, and part of me died with him, left somewhere on the beaches near the ruins of Shell Cottage. There was a time that it tore me inside because I never buried him, the man who despite our difficulties in the end, was always my brother. But I realized later, as I readied for that last night, sitting in a chair by a roaring fire, my sword sitting across my lap and my wand twirling in my fingers as I tried to blank my mind, to think about anything but what was to come, that at least he died with family at his side, with the love of others providing unassailable armor to his soul if not to his body.
I realized that night, while looking across that dimly lit stone-walled room, that my armor, my shield, was slumbering on an old, battered couch, her mouth slightly open and her hair covering up eyes closed in sleep. That night, I think that I knew, finally, that no matter what happened, at the very least I would be safe in all that mattered, even if I did not live through the day.
Every touch, every casual, soft reassuring word that she had every shared with me over the last seven years passed through my thoughts and steeled my resolve. If for no other reason than to make sure that she was safe…even If I did not get to share that life with her.
Waking up wherever that was, some mist shrouded island, I did not even know what day or even year it was. I remember waking, still half in a daze and I staggered out of the cave to find a bundle of clothes waiting for me on a bolder. I turned back only to find the cave had vanished as well. My magic was gone as well, or at least it was only a bare whisper of what I had mastered the last time I was aware. At the beach of the island, a small boat, almost identical to the old, unpiloted boats that Hagrid had taken us all to the castle in when I was eleven took me to the rocky shores of Wales, and behind me, the island vanished into the mists just like the cave before it.
Without magic, without funds or transportation, I wandered for a while, hitching rides and hiking to London, to the last and only place that I knew anyone could be. Eventually, about a month or two after I awoke, I noticed my magic returning, growing like it had since I was eleven though where that progression took years, I regained power in days and weeks. By the time another month had passed, I could feel I was almost at my full powers and I gathered myself and used my magic consciously for the first time in what I had learned was almost three years since the night I killed Voldemort.
I vanished and reappeared in Canton, outside Hermione's parents old house, let myself blend into the crowd at a nearby market. Without a wand, I couldn't manage much of the fine magic it would have taken to create new clothes, or change my appearance, my wandless magic was more oriented towards combat and travel, but I could more than manage a few discrete summoning charms, and with a bit of new clothes, and some bit of cash I hung around, casually talking to a few others and I learned that the Grangers had died in a car accident while in Australia, the magic Hermione had used to conceal them had collapsed on their death, restoring the knowledge of them in their neighbor's minds.
Of Hermione, there was no word.
For a brief moment, I thought of revealing myself to the Magical world, but the day I saw a old Daily Prophet in the gutter, its charms having expired so the pictures were unmoving, and saw the statue of me in the background of a story about the new Minister, Arthur Weasley, I turned away. Instead, I slipped away, keeping my head down and the hood of my jumper pulled up as a wizard passed, and I vanished, reappearing at a Muggle long-term storage facility on the edge of Little Whinging.
During the war, early on, Hermione had established a cache of kit, just before we had left for the Burrow, and the hunt that had began there, containing everything that we might need if it all went to the pit. Despite what Ron might have thought, we never had really needed the gear there. Yes, at times we had been hungry and tired, cold and wet, and had slept in a tent most nights, but there was always a need for backup to what we had. Cash, both pounds and galleons, clothes for all three of us, and a couple of spare wands, filled several boxes, along with other assorted kit.
A year later, I had not found her. Within a week or two, I had sussed out that she had left England, and I set out to follow. In Alaska, I found traces of her, traces of her magic that I would know anywhere. In South America, I found a dozen witches, members of a coven, that told me of a Jane Potter, who had saved them from a Warlock looking to make them his harem.
In California, I saw her on a tele monitor, her image in the background of some Muggle news report helping a group of refugees raved by a typhoon in Malaysia. A dozen times at least, I think I came close, either to find in the end it was not her, or that I was too late.
For myself, I found that despite my nemesis now being entertained by a certain Fallen archangel, there was still darkness in the world, still things that went bump in the night that most people could not defend themselves against. And that, yes, Hermione had been right once again, I did have a "Saving People Thing." In a small town in the middle of America, I stopped a group of rogue Inferi from tearing through a school dance. In Greece, a minotaur thought that a few children would be a tasty snack until I blasted him off a cliff, and in South America, not an hour after I later found Hermione had left on a flight to Burma, a triplet of Death Eaters, having survived their master's death by mere happenstance, having been out of the country and off the roles of the Aurors, attacked an orphanage for teenage girls.
At least one of them recognized me before he was blown to giblets.
After all of this, I found myself bouncing in the driver's seat of an old Jeep, probably still here from the American war in this area in the sixties, as I drove down a dark, rutted dirt road towards a pristine white sand beach on the South China Sea. There had been no clue this time, no sighting, no murmur of a destination through the few magical sources that I still employed, the network of House Elves who still considered Hermione and I to be heroes, but there had been a feeling, and urge as I flipped through a magazine and saw a picture of the very beach I was driving to at the moment.
The interesting thing about that particular beach, was that it was the visible portion of a much larger stretch of sand, most of which was concealed under charms due to an old House Black plantation that had once grew Crannanas, which I learned, taking a page from her and doing some quick research, was a magical fruit in high demand in England that tasted like the combination of an orange and strawberry and looked like a bright red banana. I knew she had stayed in the Potter and Black residences on occasion, after all I had made her my sole heir, but I had not ever had such a feeling as this as I stopped the car and got out.
The jeep shuddered slightly as it stopped and he got out, absently gesturing back and watching it shrink to the size of a matchbox car, which he slipped into a pocket of his shorts. The darkness, no longer cut by the ancient headlights of the jeep filled in, and he gestured in the air. A silver white ball of light grew from nothing to the size of a football and hovered at his left shoulder, lighting a thin path leading from the end of the road, though to the beach.
Stepping out onto it, he vanished the light, leaving only the white sand, which glowed under the celestial light of a full moon which tonight was almost enough to read by. Fifty yards away, a slender figure stood with her back to him, facing out over the silver-capped waves of the ocean. Her shoulders, currently covered in a buttoned down white shirt, tensed suddenly. She froze, and a glowing something that had been in front of her vanished with a quiet pop and a whisper of released power. No real movement came from her, other the slight dance of her shirt and skirt in the soft gulf wind, or a sound, other than the faint murmur of her breathing that came to magically enhanced ears.
"Somehow, I knew," she said very quietly, though the words more than crossed the distance, or perhaps he merely heard them in his head. "Somehow, I just knew."
"You always were the most brilliant of all of us," Harry replied without moving from his spot. "I have been looking for you."
She smiled faintly, nibbling at her lower lip before she slowly turned, her bare feet catching in the sand, "I don't know if I wanted to be found…"
"I'll always find you, Hermione."
She took a breath, a long deep breath that did not serve to fight off the tears blooming in her eyes. Silver tracks slipped down her cheeks, "I k,,,know…H,,,Harry," she stammered. Her knees started to collapse, only to find herself being lowered to the sand gently, and catching a blurred image of her savior as he vanished from where he had been to her side.
An hour later, she sat in a deck chair, on the second floor deck hung out over the waves of the ocean. Periodic pale blue flashes, shimmered behind her as the wards caught any potentially annoying waves from splashing up. The light from the moon, hanging out over the water, lit her from behind, and the fire from a pair of low-burning torches lit her from the front, an image of fire and ice to Harry's waiting gaze.
She looked across a low table at him, sitting in a chair like hers, a pair of chilled bottles between them, and four years of silence and waiting even more. "What happened, Harry?" she asked softly, "I looked for you then, but…"
"I don't know," he replied, shrugging and taking a drink. He rolled the bottle between his hands for a beat, "I remember bits and pieces of that night…I remember seeing you the night before, and then you getting separated from me to duel Bellatrix. I remember Tom's scream at the end and then a flash, and I woke up in a cave on some island off the coast of Wales, about ten or so miles up shore from the Hollow. The cave was…Like something out the stories of Merlin, I was lying on a bier, naked, and when I left it, the cave vanished behind me. The same for the island, and the boat that carried me across to the shore…
Hermione frowned slightly, "Were there a lot of apple trees?"
Harry cocked his head, his eyes widening, "Umm…I noticed some, yeah…Why?"
Hermione shook her head, "No reason." She stood and walked around him, walking to the edge of the deck and leaned out on the rail over the ocean. A shiver as she felt him come up behind her, and thoughts, ideas that had almost taken form years ago, filled her head once more.
"You know this changes everything," Hermione whispered, her words just barely audible over the crashing sea. She shivered again as his hands slipped up to hold her shoulders.
"I think that happened a long time ago," Harry replied as he reached around her, holding her to him as they watched the silver light sparkle along dancing waves.
A/N: Actually the posting of this was inspired by the "new" revelation that JKR wrote the whole R/HR thing as a bit of wish fulfillment from her own life and that she knew that it was wrong. Which is more or less what I a lot of folks, myself included, thought at the time. To this day, I still have not read Book 7, I have it, and I have paged through it for a bit of research at the time, but I so far have not read it in its entiretly. Now, I just might as we can now just replace a few things in our heads and go on.
On another note, my orginal stuff is getting closer to done…Cybernetically enhanced female ninjas, sentient starships that dress like Luna…(at least in my stuff), power armor, aliens…and yeah, werewolves and magic…Hopefully I'll have it up on large book selling site someday… In that note, if there are any artists that would like to try to do a cover image, for free…or cheap…Let me know.