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An Hourglass of Ashes

Chapter Text

SUMMARY

A promise or a curse? {in the end it was both. They were both.}

Time did not appreciate being twisted, and Time made sure they knew it. {Harry x Hermione, HHr, Harmony}

Our golden duo is thrust into a tilted past. To make matters worse, they've arrived from different futures. To make matters disastrous, neither properly remembers anything. {be careful Harry... you've made an ally of Death, but an enemy of Time}

DISCLAIMER

If I owned Harry Potter, I would not have five figures worth of student debt slowly sucking away my happiness. Honestly, student loans are essentially the Muggle Equivalent of a Dementor. This is all just a very verbose way of saying JKR owns Harry Potter and I, to my and my wallet's despair, do not. (Let's be real, if I did, then HHr would have happened, Draco would have gotten a massive redemption arc, and in no way shape or form would either of the Twins died.)

MAIN PAIRING:

Harry x Hermione

BACKGROUND PAIRINGS/ OTHER RELATIONSHIPS:

Lily x James, Frank x Alice, Blaise x Luna (later). I am open to other pairings.

Marauders friendship (barr the wretched rat), Alice and James friendship.

AUTHOR'S NOTE

WARNING - Characters that are ostensibly being bashed will (mostly) be redeemed, and I will try to give reasons for OOC'ness. I am going to try to avoid gross mischaracterizations (e.g. Ron and Molly will at no point be calling Hermione a mudblood). That being said, it's a Harry x Hermione fan fiction, so of course there will be some non-cannon (but should have been cannon) feelings and reactions. There will be at least one OC in this story.The major one will be Harry's brother (this will be a pseudo WBWL fic, you'll see what I mean later ;-) ). This fic will be addressing some morally dark themes, and you will often be encountering a Grey!Harry and a Grey!Hermione. This first chapter is more of a teaser to gauge interest in the story, so if you enjoy please do let me know that you want more by leaving a comment/ kudos/ review!


An Hourglass of Ashes


" Awful things happen to wizards who meddle with time, Harry."

~ Hermione Granger, Prisoner of Azkaban


Chapter 1

Three Prices Paid


" You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us?"

~ Albus Dumbledore, Prisoner of Azkaban


Harry opens his eyes to an endless expanse of white.

'Death is silent.'

His thought echoes loudly. The stray words are closely followed by the relieved observation that he isn't in any pain. It is a welcome but surprising state, as the last sensation he remembers is the cold impact of a familiar green light.

'Third time's the charm,' he notes bitterly.

'Oh, don't you dare be so broody, Harry James Potter.' Hermione would chastise teasingly, probably while playfully cuffing him over the head. Her warm brown eyes would shine as she smiled to soften her reprimand. Or, at least, she would smile. If she were here. If she weren't… if she weren't…

' The dead don't smile.'

Harry's gut twists, and flashes of their past encounters burn behind his eyes.

("There's a reason I can hear them, the horcruxes. I think I've known for a while, and I think you have too." Harry's voice breaks at the end.

Hermione drops her grip on Ron's arm and cautiously approaches Harry, slightly limping as she meanders around the ruins of Hogwarts – the crumbling imitation of what was once their home. A bastion of safety, now broken and beaten; a shade in the place of a beacon.

"I'll go with you." Hermione offers, gaze tearful and pleading.

"No." Harry shakes his head roughly. "Promise me, Hermione. Promise me you won't follow me. Kill the snake. Kill the snake, and then it's just him."

His words barely leave before she clings to him. She clutches him cruelly, in a way that reminds him of what he is really sacrificing. Her grip tightens.  She doesn't smell like vanilla or honey; just tragedy. He lifts his cheek from her shoulder, looks over it to meet Ron's devastated face. There is no easy-going smile, no willful ignorance, not anymore. They all know that Harry James Potter will die today. 'I'm trusting you with the snake,' Harry wants to say to Ron, as resigned green meets bereaved blue. 'I'm trusting you with Hermione, Ron. I need you to stand by her. Love her, appreciate her; I want you both to live long and happy lives even if they are without me. I'm sorry you have to lose another brother. Be happy, Ron.' Harry wants to say a lot of things to the first friend he ever had, but he thinks his battered soul can't push the last words from his lips.

"Promise me, Hermione," he repeats instead.)

It had been a miniature war within an ongoing battle to force the promise from her bloodied lips, but she ultimately relented. Her desperate words and begrudging concession had alighted a bittersweet hesitation from him. And he remembers, at the time, feeling morosely unsurprised. He had thought it fitting - quite par the course for his life - that he would begin to suspect the true depth of Hermione's feelings for him just moments before he faced certain death.

Only he hadn't died. Not that time, anyways.

Voldemort's defeat at the Battle of Hogwarts is but one chapter in the saga of tales lived by the Golden Trio. In the aftermath of the battle, their world gave a good show of healing, and masquerading itself for the better. Harry and Ron were accepted into the Auror Academy. Ginny and Hermione finished their final year lined in Gryffindor colours before the latter proudly joined The Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Kingsley was announced as the new Minister. Death Eaters were arrested. There was no looming plot or conspiracy; they were finally safe and they were finally happy.

Of course, their respite from misery was a transient thing.

Ron and Hermione had a falling out, a much more volatile (if less publicized) one than Harry and Ginny's own. The Ministry's corruption continued, foiling many of Kingsley's attempts at progress. Not all, but at least some, known Death Eaters were given pardons. Pureblood supremacy was hidden but existent, spawning secret factions that worked with foul intentions. It was one of those vulgar groups that ripped the most important person in Harry's life from him.

Hermione Jane Granger, age 21, was tortured to death just three days after she secured the passing of an equal working pay rights bill for magical creatures. The perpetrators had taken wizarding photos of their atrocious deeds, and then sent them to news outlets and families alike, eager to breed panic. However, only Harry's package of moving photos had been also accompanied by a letter.

' To the Boy-Destined-To-Die,

The Mudblood begged for you to save her in between her screams.'

Ron did not handle Hermione's death well. The Weasley blamed both Harry and himself for not finding and saving her in time. And once, when Ron first started to accept that she was truly dead, he even blamed Hermione herself for choosing to save Harry instead of running when she sensed the shadows that followed the duo back from the bill's congratulatory dinner.

Ron had been a mess for weeks.

But Harry?

Harry saw red.

Red. Red. Red.

And he saw nothing but red after the vile photos for months. When his vision finally cleared, he found himself standing in a room doused in the rotten iron stench of blood and guts and gore.

Red. Red. Red.

("H-Harry? What… Oh Merlin, Harry, what did you do?!")

Ron had been part of the Auror squad that was first on site at the gruesome scene.

Red. Red. Red. 

- Remember the colour of the Torture curse? -

Ron, his brother; a sentiment that remained true even after Ron started to suspect that Harry loved his ex-fiancé, and even after Ron realized that Hermione had softened towards the would-have-been-best-man's advances. His brother's eyes had widened in disbelief and horror. Harry supposed he should have been equally appalled at his own actions, but all Harry felt was justice.

("They tortured her, Ron.")

Harry remembers saying, a cold neutrality carving his jaw as he looked upon the advancing Aurors' wary eyes and raised wands.

("I only wish I had killed them slower.")

Harry saw it clearly; the shattered look in Ron's dulled blue eyes when the Weasley realized that – in all the ways that mattered - both his best friends were gone. And it wasn't worth much in the end, was it? Because vengeance had been a fleeting filler for the festering wound in Harry's chest. The supremacist bastards' blood had not breathed back life into Hermione's corpse. Harry's carmine crusade had not brought her back... 

A black wraith drifts into Harry's peripheral vision, and he rips himself from his bleak musings to attend to it. The robed spectre starkly contrasts against the bleached setting, and its threadbare appearance steals Harry's attention from the sharp red and blue fragments in his mind. Blithely, Harry wonders if he should assume a defensive position, then quickly decides that any protective movement would serve no point. After all, the Boy-Who-Lived is dead. For true, this time. That being said, even if Harry does not fear the approaching skeletal hands of the dastardly apparition, neither is Harry ambivalent towards the wafting beast hidden by floating dark fabrics. No, there is no ambivalence, just... resolution.

Harry has intent. He has a purpose, a goal... a promise.

("Promise me, Hermione. Promise me you won't follow me.")

She had promised, but he hadn't promised back. So when they took her from him, he followed. And isn't that just ironic? The Boy-Who-Lived chasing the Girl-Who-Died.

' This time, I'm saving you. Hermione, I'm coming.'

The bony hands of the shrouded spectre recede, and the monster's hollow eyes seem amused when its voice rasps, "Peverell blood." Malicious delight twists the creature's mouth as it gleefully warns, "I give nothing for free."

Harry nods. Then he steels himself to make the same mistake as his ancestors.

("I'll go with you.")

It was time to make a deal with Death.


Preview for chapter 2 below.

Author's Note: Whelp, that's a taste of this new fic. Question: which of the following names do you guys prefer for Harry's brother (the one who will be heralded as the BWL)?

A) Evan (after Lily's maiden name)

B) Daniel (after Radcliffe)

C) Charlie/Charlus (after Charlus potter, the boys' paternal grandfather)

D) Other

Image credited to following sources:

/clubs /harry-and-hermione-x-ron-and-luna /images/ 34648381/ title/ harry-hermione-fanart

/ free-transparent-background -png- clipart-bcmoa

/ free-transparent-background -png- clipart-kneza

svgsilh (dotcom) slash image slash


Preview of Upcoming Chapters


- an altered attack at Godric's Hollow on October 31st,1981

- a second prophecy

- Harry meets Hermione


Please review if you enjoyed :-)

Chapter Text

**I EDITED and REPOSTED THE FIRST CHAPTER ON OCT 21st  **


SUMMARY

A promise or a curse? {in the end it was both. They  were both.}

Time did not appreciate being twisted, and Time made sure they knew it. {Harry x Hermione, HHr, Harmony}

Our golden duo is thrust into a tilted past. To make matters worse, they've arrived from different futures. To make matters disastrous, neither properly remembers anything. {be careful Harry... you may have made an ally of Death, but you've made enemy of Time.}

DISCLAIMER

If I owned Harry Potter, I would not have five figures worth of student debt slowly sucking away my happiness. Honestly, student loans are essentially the Muggle Equivalent of a Dementor. This is all just a very verbose way of saying JKR owns Harry Potter and I, to my and my wallet's despair, do not. (Let's be real, if I did, then HHr would have happened, Draco would have gotten a massive redemption arc, and in no way shape or form would either of the Twins died.)

MAIN PAIRING:

Harry x Hermione

BACKGROUND PAIRINGS/ OTHER RELATIONSHIPS:

Lily x James, Frank x Alice, Blaise x Luna (later). I am open to other pairings if you suggest them.

Marauders friendship (barr the wretched rat), Alice and James friendship.

AUTHOR'S NOTE

WARNING - Characters that are ostensibly being bashed will (mostly) be redeemed, and I will try to give reasons for OOC'ness. I am going to try to avoid gross mischaracterizations (e.g. Ron and Molly will at no point be calling Hermione a mudblood). That being said, it's a Harry x Hermione fan fiction, so of course there will be some non-cannon (but should have been cannon) feelings and reactions. There will be at least one OC in this story. The major one will be Harry's brother (this will be a pseudo WBWL fic, you'll see what I mean later ;-) ). This fic will be addressing some morally dark themes, and you will often be encountering a Grey!Harry and a Grey!Hermione. If you enjoy this story, please do let me know that you want more by leaving a comment/ kudos/ review!

P.S. If you like Game of Thrones (especially Arya, Gendry, Shireen, Rhaenys, and Rickon), Supernatural, Bleach, Gundam Seed, Degrassi, Vampire Diaries, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, or The Hunger Games, please give my other stories a try!


An Hourglass of Ashes


" Awful things happen to wizards who meddle with time, Harry."

~ Hermione Granger, Prisoner of Azkaban


Chapter 2

The First Was Family


"… When love is in its strongest form, it is the most powerful thing on this earth. It kills, saves lives, heals wounds, and most of all, brings hope. That is what you have done for me, Lily. You have brought me hope. When I look into your eyes, I know that no matter what may happen to me, as long as I can see those eyes staring back at me, then I'll be fine."

~ James Potter, Mordred


Once upon a time, a ten-year-old girl and boy played amongst the tangled paths of a verdant maze.

"Was it worth it?" The girl asks while raising an unimpressed brow. "Well?" She prods once more from her position kneeling beside the boy. At his unrepentant smirk, she narrows her gaze towards her careless companion and his newly acquired wound.

The ink-haired boy grins back unashamedly from his prone position on the ground. "This?" He points to the bleeding cut on his calf that they have only just staunched. "Oh please. I've had worse paper cuts," he boasts.

The girl scowls at his preening. Her last few scrubs are just a tad bit firmer than necessary. With a huff, she finally finishes using (soiling) one of her silk handkerchiefs in an effort to clean the cut on the boy's leg. She folds the cloth as best she can, and puts it in her day bag before gracefully rising from her bent position beside the hooligan. With all the gumption of a girl of ten years, she sets her arms akimbo and berates the boy. "This is exactly why I warned you not to climb the hedges."

The messy-haired boy has the gall to direct a pointed look to her own scuffed knees, easily visible above her below-knee stockings as she hadn't yet set her dress right (after tucking the bottom of its skirt in on itself to protect the expensive fabric from the dirt). At his implication, she rolls her eyes before dramatically unfurling the bottom of her dress to easily cover the marks of her earlier rebellion. "These are my family's gardens, you know." She scoffs. "I've grown up climbing these hedge walls. All of them, even the highest ones. I knew I wouldn't fall. But, I knew you would, and you did."

The boy scratches the back of his head with an embarrassed smile. "Well, it was fun… up until the fall," he says lightly, as if the momentary pleasure justified the injury. He shrugs his shoulders. "Thanks for giving me a hand, and all."

She rolls her eyes once more at his typically boyish gratitude, before reaching down to help him stand. "Well I couldn't just leave you bleeding out on our grounds, now could I? You seem the type who would be silly enough to go about getting lost, you know." Her smirk turns impish. "You were actually the only interesting guest at this stuffy event, so me helping you was a bit for me too, you know. Besides, one day, I'm going to be the best Healer in England. You have the honor of being my very first patient."

The newly upright boy offers her a mischievous smirk in return, before lightly tugging at one of her pigtails. "You're alright, you know, for a girl."

She lets out a long-suffering sigh. "You're less than a nightmare yourself, for a boy," she finished mockingly.

He grins abashedly. "So… You willing to help a cripple boy limp out of this maze?"

She rolls her eyes, but her small smile belies her affected ire. "I already said I'm not leaving you, Potter."

She gently slides her arm under his shoulder, and lets him lean against her as they slowly make their way towards the maze's exit and back towards to Summer Luncheon. The boy smirks good-naturedly before dramatically declaring. "How Hufflepuff of you, Greengrass." His smirk quickly softens into a genuine smile. "Next year, I'm going to be a Gryffindor. So I'm sure, one day, I'll be saving you back."

She snorts. "Well, you sure think pretty highly of yourself. I'll have you know, Potter, I'm in the successful business of saving myself, thank you very much." Her nose scrunches. "I'm no damsel."

"Well then, I suppose we'll just have to settle for being friends until I can think of a way to repay you for your heroic deeds." He uses his free hand to exaggeratedly smack a hand over his heart. "My very own dearest knight in shining armour." The foolish action unbalances them both, and nearly sends them both keeling over towards the ground. But, they manage to stay upright.

The girl means to chastise him once again, but instead finds herself giggling at the boy's dramatic flair. His laughter follows soon after.

(They are both lonely children without brothers or sisters, or even cousins close in age. They meet as strangers, and make siblings of each other.

Consequence is not a word a ten-year-old considers.)


~ "Well, it was fun… up until the fall" ~


James Potter does not hate his eldest son, despite the infamous horrors on the stormy evening of October 31 st , 1981.


James's first child enters the world quietly. On July 31, 1980, the newborn Harry James Potter roughly gasps to clear his lungs of amniotic fluid. After an initial bout of newborn coughing, the new Potter quickly settles into steady, calm breaths. The nearly inaudible new heir to the house is followed, exactly two minutes and seven seconds later, by the ear-piercing wails of Evan Charlus Potter.

James - officially Head of the Ancient and Noble House of Potter since his beloved father's passing six months ago - thinks nothing strange of his eldest son's behaviour at delivery. Rather, James is too busy beaming and crying alongside the love of his life, holding her as she holds their sons, and trying to bask in the sheer joy and hope saturating the moment. It's an idyllic scene in Potter Manor as Alice Longbottom (a healer who is here mere seven days after delivering her own son), finishes guiding Harry and Evan into the world and into their parents' awaiting arms.

There is too much love filling the space for there to be room to question Harry's modest entrance into their lives, or to question the lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead.

And yet, Jame's eldest son's… oddities… continue.

As the weeks and months progress, Harry does not cry or laugh. He doesn't even smile. Lily and James both fret about this. Is there something wrong? Are they not good parents? Is their eldest son sick? To their relief, Alice (James's childhood friend, his Auror team's designated healer, and the godmother of the twins) is always just a floo call away to assuage their fears.

Well, James is reassured.

Lily is not.

Alice offers the Potters a tired smile, having no doubt stayed up the night prior to tend to her own young babe. "Harry is a little quiet, yes, but I've examined him thoroughly. All of my diagnostic spells are clear. Even over that admittedly strange birthmark on his forehead. I promise you both, he is physically healthy. Some young ones are just a little slower to adjust socially, but I'm confident he will catch up soon." Of course, James trusts Alice with his life. This strong and confident woman was once a pig-tailed and pig-headed girl he befriended when he was a rambunctious and riotous boy being dragged to the annual Greengrass Summer Luncheon. And so, even before Hogwarts, he settled quickly into the role of her self-appointed overprotective brother, and she easily cast herself into the part of annoying little sister. Their Hogwarts years were spent mostly in loud banter and quiet defense of each other. He had the Marauder's prank that prick Goldstein relentlessly after the fool stood Alice up on her first date, and she was the one who sat him down and told him in clear terms exactly why Lily Evans refused his grand romantic overtures. James became her unwavering support when facing Augusta Longbottom's relentless scrutiny of her grey family name, and Alice was his steadfast advocate when Lily was learning to love him in their final years of Hogwarts. He stood right behind Alice and Frank when they buried her parents; and she spent the three horrible days from their symptom onset to their death trying to save his parents from Dragon Pox. Alice saved James's own life no less than four times in the field during this wretched war. And so, after over a decade of pseudo-siblingship, James Potter will forever trust Alice Greengrass's (now Longbottom's) words. So he believes her wholly when she holds his shoulder, looks him straight in the eyes, and tell him confidently that "nothing is wrong with Harry."

But there is. According to Lily, at least.

Lily huddles into him, and he feel cold dampness soaking a wet patch onto his chest. "He is sad, James. I can feel this thick… despair coming off of him in waves, every moment of every day and every night. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. Am I so terrible a mother that I can't even make my child happy?"

James understands his wife's concerns. How can he not contemplate their validity, when looking upon Harry's stoic face and unmovable green eyes is such an unsettling experience? Even Sirius, the boy's godfather, expresses concerns regarding the Potter heir's placid temperament. Of course, Sirius once made some (admittedly pretty funny, if poorly timed) joke about how it was a good thing they didn't have to wake up so often in the night, as they would have if Harry was even half as dramatic as Evan. Lily didn't talk to Padfoot for three days after that. She was convinced he was belittling her concerns, and didn't much appreciate it. Of course, Sirius was just being Sirius, trying to entice a smile during a dark time.

And then, a not-so-fake seer uses a job interview to blankly intone words in some dank pub. With her carelessly spoken ominous verses, there is suddenly no more time for worries over a toddler's austere personality. (There isn't even time to mull over the longer-term implications of the prophecy, no time to notice or question the way Dumbledore warily eyes their eldest son, a cautious gaze mirroring the way he once apprised a young boy in Wool's Orphanage). Instead, the Potters' time is spent barricading their home with wards and hiding their twins from the twisted hands of a murderous madman.

Then comes another horrific whisper: the warnings of a spy hidden within the Order's trusted ranks. This time, the words send the Potters away from their ancestral manor. They begin to spend their days and nights ensconced in an older, lesser known Potter property. It's a portly thing wedged on a small lot in Godric's Hollow. Frank and Alice, the other pair who have a child fitting the story spun by Trelawney's Merlin-forsaken prophecy, choose to stay in their ancestral home despite the news of a potential turncoat. But of course, James does not find out about the duo's decision from Alice and Frank, but from a breathless Sirius who announces his arrival by banging harshly on their new door in Godric's Hollow.

" James, wait," pleads Lily. "You know her, and you know him." Lily gives her husband a sad and aggrieved look; one lined with the suspicion that their friends' stubborn decision will lead the Longbottoms to early graves. "You won't change her mind, James. I wish you could, but you won't."

" Watch me." James scowls, gently removing his wife's grip from his forearm.

Sirius's hurried words and Lily's premature grief send him flooing to a familiar Scottish estate, trembling with conviction.

" Please, Alice, see sense! There is no Order member who doesn't know the location of Longbottom Manor!" James begs, stepping towards one of his dearest friends. He meets her trademark icy blue eyes, and his stomach lurches when he recognizes that they remain unyielding to his protests. Terror thrums through his veins, his vision teeters…

He sees a pig-tailed little girl dooming herself to death.

The no-longer-ten-year-old-girl offers him a tender look before her back straightens and her mouth hardens. "Frank and I refuse to be chased out of our home by a coward who fashions himself as some Dark Lord." She curves the epithet with mocking derision.

James grabs her shoulders, then desperately shakes them as though the action will somehow change the fool's mind. "You'll get yourselves killed, Allie. Please, I'm begging you. Take Dumbledore's offer. Or even better, stay with us!"

Alice's stubborn look softens as she responds. "Oh Jamie, we'll be fine. Augusta and Frank have both strengthened our wards. I'll be okay." She places her small, calloused hand atop one of his own, and offers him the same hopeful smile she did back when they were ten – back when she nervously approached a bored boy with an offer of escape, and guided him from a stuffy luncheon to an adventure in a hedge maze.

Her arms come around him, pulling him from the past. "We'll all be okay."

Alice's reassuring words send James's gut roiling. There is a cold finality to their embrace, the kind that creeps up his spine with an icy and unremitting grip.

That night, he dreams he is ten years old, weaving through verdant twists and turns as he chases a giggling blonde girl, her pigtails swinging as she joyfully dances out of his view. It's all good and fun, but then her laughter quiets. And then… then her screams begin. James desperately calls for her, runs as fast as he can, trying to search for the little girl he swore himself to protect, only to lose her in the sinister shadowed grip of the towering hedges.

He wakes up sobbing, and Lily clutches him tightly, running a familiar hand through his hair until he settles.


Alice is one of only three trusted individuals who know the address to the Potter's new safe-house, the other two being Sirius and Dumbledore. As the second week of October 1981 chills the air, a third Marauder is trusted with the secret.

" This is the best way." Opines Sirius, has he paces on the red carpet lining their living room. "My family is insane. They are hunting me, thinking I know the secret of Harry and Evan's location. And James, you know I would die before ever letting even a word of this address fall into their ears… but I know the dark spells lining Grimoires that haunt the Black Libraries. If they come across any sort of blood magic… James, I doubt my parents died before naming Regulus the heir. I… I can't trust that he hasn't already found a way to use our Family Magic to force the truth from me."

Remus is not an option for the very reason Sirius no longer is; Fenrir being Moony's own warped version of Regulus. James adamantly refuses Lily's request to name Alice or Frank (he'll not put another target on his sister's back, not when the sound of her screams from his nightmare still echo in his ears).

The meek and mousy Peter Pettigrew is named the Potter's secret-keeper on October 29th.


On the stormy evening of October 31st, the quietest babe to ever be wails unrepentantly for hours.

" Please James, I need you to get Alice. Sometime terrible is wrong with Harry, I just know it." Lily begs.

James does not want to leave his family unprotected, and protests his wife's pleas resolutely. "I refuse to leave you all here alone. Padfoot is due to return within the hour. I'll wait at least until—"

His idea is cut off by an especially belligerent howl from his heir.

Lily's beautiful green eyes turn wet and wild. She grips his arms tightly. "Please, my love. For Harry."


" For Harry."

Those are Lily Potter's last words to her husband.


Alice and James return to a half-destroyed home. They race up the steps, only to find Lily's corpse laid before the cribs of their sons. Evan loudly screeches from his position in his crib, sobbing uncontrollably with bright red blood dribbling from an "S" shaped scar on his left cheek.

Harry, whose brash bawling was the only reason James was not here to protect his wife, is sleeping soundly in his crib.


" JAMES!" Sirius barrels into the battered house mere moments after Alice and James discover Lily's body. "JAMES!"

Alice immediately runs out of the twins' bedroom to confront Sirius, while James remains unmoved from his position on the floor, near catatonic with disbelief as he cradles his wife's cold body.

If James was paying attention, he would have heard Alice whispering to Sirius as she tries but fails to settle the wailing Evan in her arms. ("She's dead, Sirius. Lily's dead.) But James's attention merely alternates between the lack of pulse at his wife's neck, and the soft, quiet breaths of Harry.

If James was paying attention, he would have recognized the wayward direction of his thoughts. ('How dare you sleep so soundly after your screeching… after you led your mother to her death.')

If James was paying attention, he would have heard Alice gasping out Frank and Neville's names; he would have heard her quickly handing Evan to a protesting Sirius. ("Don't you dare go back there alone Alice, are you insane?!")

If James was paying attention, he would have heard Alice flooing back to Longbottom Manor.


~ "I'm going to be a Gryffindor. So I'm sure, one day, I'll be saving you back." ~


In the end, it is Sirius who dons the armour. Sirius, whose Auror training wins out over his Gryffindor recklessness. Sirius cannot be Padfoot, not tonight.

Auror Black – after faced with a vacant-eyed James who refused to leave Lily, and a frantic Alice who ran back to her manor despite his warnings – floos the Potter twins to the Headmaster's office. In that office, he happens upon an unbelievably well-timed higher echelon Order meeting between Dumbledore, McGonagall, Flitwick, Pomphrey, and Moody.

Auror Black gives a succinct report and request for assistance.

Dumbledore takes charge immediately, efficiently delegating out tasks. He assigns the Deputy Headmistress to protect the twins, and he whispers an address to Madame Pomphrey before sending her to tend to and protect a grieving James in Godric's Hollow. With steeled resolve, the Headmaster, a renowned Dueling champion, an infamous Auror captain, and a vengeful Marauder floo to Longbottom Manor.


The four Order members exit the Longbottom fireplace with their wands raised.

As soon as they step into the ancient manor, they see the grotesque image of Alice Longbottom brutally convulsing on the ground. They hear her screaming under the unforgiving red lights streaming from the wands of a maliciously gleeful pair of Lestrange brothers.

They also see Frank under similar red lights, but coming from the outstretched wands of Bellatrix and Barty Crouch Jr. Only he wasn't convulsing, and he wasn't screaming.

Frank wasn't moving at all.


~"I knew I wouldn't fall. But, I knew you would, and you did."~


The Second Great Wizarding War ends.

James's bitter thoughts towards his eldest son do not.

(James doesn't blame Sirius for not coming sooner. How could he blame his closest brother anything? But for some reason... for some intangible reason, it is easy to blame Harry).

Of course, Alice notices, and she stubbornly brings it up more than once.

"That's enough, Allie. It's time for you to leave." James turns away from her, voice haggard as he clutches the iron-wrought railing of the Potter Manor's porch. He stumbles, and thinks he rather likes the taste of hard liquor. (Sometimes he sees Lily's reflection in the bottom of the bottles.) Indulging in the burning liquid is not a thing he will make a habit of, he hopes, but he feels he deserves this one night of numbness at the very least.

He hears his sister sigh. "Harry isn't the author of your misfortune, Jamie. That was Voldemort. That was Peter." He hears her approach, and tenses when he feels her palm gently grip his shoulder.

She hasn't touched him in a while. Not a hug, not a hand, not a cuff on the head. Not anything.


~ "I already said I'm not leaving you, Potter." ~


" She'll be afraid of physical touch for a long time." Madame Pomphrey tells them with a heavy voice. "She'll have tremors, phantom pains…" James feels himself grow dizzy as the skilled mediwitch continues to list the suffering his sister will have to endure. Only Sirius and Remus's steady grips keep him from collapsing. "I will try to give her potions to help control the nightmares… but this is not something that will get better with potions. Truthfully, this is something that may not even get better with time."

James just nods, his eyes glued to the prone form of the not-little-girl-but-still-little-sister-and-what-would-have-happened-to-her-if-Sirius-hadn't…

James needs only to glance over to the adjacent bed, where a red-eyed Augusta Longbottom stands vigil over her blank-eyed son, to know the answer… to comprehend the terrible fate that Sirius saved his sister from.


~ "Helping you was a bit for me too, you know." ~


He doesn't want to hurt her.

But really, what could possibly hurt her more than associating with him?

"Do you blame me, Allie?"

He doesn't need to face her to know that her face crumples at his hoarsely whispered question. "Don't, Jamie. Please. Please, don't bring this up again."

James lets out a derisive laugh, a bitter and empty thing. "How can you not blame me? If Sirius hadn't come for you, you would be just like darling Frank, and Neville would have a fucking vegetable for a mum as well as for a dad—"

He really, really deserves the bruised cheek from Alice's fierce slap.

"How dare you!?" She screams. She shoves his chest harshly, then continues to shove it repeatedly. "How could you?!" She screams again and again. And then her shouts devolve into wails before devolving into sobs. Eventually she ends up clutching his shirt instead of shoving his chest. And of course, they're both sobbing into each other's arms not long after, mourning the losses of the respective loves of their lives.

"I'm sorry Allie. Merlin, I'm so sorry. Please don't leave." He begs her, his voice wet as he decides he never wants to touch a drop of alcohol again. Not ever. Not when it turns him into someone that hurts his family. Not when it turns him into someone capable of hurting the girl he swore to always protect. "Please don't leave." He says again, burying his face into her shoulder, and guiltily continuing to do so despite her initial flinch.

She gently unties herself from his embrace before placing both her hands on his tear-laden cheeks. She offers him a wet smile and a quit promise. "I already said I'm not leaving you, Potter. Remember?"

With her words, they become two little kids again, injured and leaning on each other as they try to navigate themselves out of the twisted path.


~"You seem the type who would be silly enough to go about getting lost, you know." ~


James Potter does not hate his eldest son, despite the infamous horrors on the evening of October 31 st , 1981.

And yet…

He may not hate Harry, but it is a damn battle to love the boy that he blames for Lily's death.  And it's a battle he cannot fight forever.


In a scene that happened (but because it happened, won't actually happen), a young veteran meets a fabled figure.

"So, boy, tell me true. Whose vice did you inherit? Antioch's ambition, Cadmus's obsession, or your sire Ignotus's paranoia?"

Harry doesn't respond (he doesn't need to). They both know that Harry is a smidgeon of all three vices (and then a smattering of others too).

Instead, the two beings on the expansive white plane talk terms. It is transaction of careful words, as they barter over intangible things like love and life. It ends with Harry clenching his fists, and the creature cackling coarsely to punctuate his unwanted commentary.

"And here I thought you a hero. How selfish, to sentence her to such a life."


End of Chapter 2


Next Questions:

1 - Would you rather Hermione be sorted into Slytherin or another House? (I'll be honest, right now, I'm heavily leaning towards Slytherin!)

2 – Would you rather see more of Neville or Ron?

3 – Would you rather see Hermione as the fourth Triwizard Champion, or Harry?

4 - How did you guys like the Alice and James friendship?

Next chapter: 
Harry and Hermione "meet" !

If you are enjoying this fic, please leave a comment/ kudos/ review! Let me know what you like/don't like, and let me know if you guys spot any grammar mistakes please!

So the primary pairing in this story is Harry x Hermione. I don't think James and Alice will be a pairing, I think I'm going to keep them as siblings/besties. Harry's relationship with James will be… strained. I hoped to use this chapter to show some of James' POV before introducing Harry and James relationship from Harry's POV (also to help explain why the Potters and Longbottoms will end up being so close). I meant to get to the Harry and Hermione part in this chapter, but James's POV ran away from me LOL. It was legit supposed to be a paragraph smh. After polling the commenters, Evan Charlus Potter won out as the name of Harry's younger brother, so hopefully you guys are happy with it!