Rated t for teen
Disclaimer: all you recognize belongs to JKR.
Notes: spoilers for DH.
Harry Potter glared at Voldemort, refusing to curl up and surrender despite the fact that he was surrounded by Death Eaters, the fact that he was exhausted, injured, half starved, and had already fought a running battle. He didn’t have a plan, didn’t even have the faintest spark of a plan, but that was no reason to give up. Gryffindor bravery, or perhaps foolishness.
“You stand before me, captured, defeated,” Voldemort bared his teeth in what wasn’t quite a smile. “I shall not play games this time, Harry Potter. You will die.”
Harry forced himself to smirk and taunt his enemy. “Because you’ve had such spectacular success with that so far…”
“Avada Kedavra,” His red eyes seemed to glow as the curse left his wand.
There was nobody to sacrifice themselves for him this time. Held fast between two Death Eaters, Harry couldn’t dodge. He couldn’t attempt to invoke the priori incantatem effect again.
The green light struck him, the flaring and dazzling along tiny cracks in his spectacles.
With that, Harry Potter collapsed, dead.
* * * * * * * *
Blinking, Harry tried to figure out how in the world he had gone from about to die in front of Voldemort to standing in the middle of King’s Cross station. For that matter, the station had never been empty, but now… The ceiling seemed much higher. There were no people bustling from train to entrance. He stepped towards the train, and his footsteps didn’t echo. In the distance, he could hear a baby wail.
Looking towards the wail, harry saw something like a baby, but it was looked raw and ugly, as if it had no skin over muscles, and it was gaunt, with over-long arms and legs.
“Do not concern yourself with Tom,” the voice reminded him of Professor Dumbledore, but it wasn’t quite.
Harry faced the speaker, his hand twitching with the desire to pull his wand, despite his exhaustion. Just as the voice had been very much like Professor Dumbledore’s but not quite, the person’s appearance was not quite like that of Professor Dumbledore. The eyes were a different blue, the long beard more like the pale gleam of moonstone than the white beard of a very old wizard. “Why? This place… it’s not really King’s Cross, is it? What’s happening?”
“Ahhh, Harry, you do go right for the heart of the matter,” the not-Dumbledore smiled. “You see a familiar place, one that you associate with changing worlds. For you, the place you see is where you would pass between the magical world and the mundane world. You are here because it is a place between.”
“Not between the magical and the mundane though,” Harry murmured. While he was facing the not-Dumbledore, the wailing from the small shape that wasn’t a baby had stopped. He wasn’t quite certain if it would still be there if he looked. “If I get on that train, it won’t take me to Hogwarts, and it won’t take me to London.”
Harry felt himself shiver, and he remembered the fractured flare of green, Voldemort’s horrible final words. “Am I… dead? Is that how people go to the afterlife?”
“Perhaps. Events have twisted from the way fate intended. You have a choice to make, Harry. If you board the train, it will take you to the afterlife, to a place of peace and rest, where you will be reunited with those who have gone ahead of you. Or, you could go back, try to finish the tasks set before you,” the man smiled. “Most people don’t get to make that choice, Harry.”
Harry considered the choices. He could see Sirius again, see his parents. No more fickle wizarding world, no more rumors and battles and demands. No more horrible teachers or corrupt ministry. All he’d have to do would be accept death.
Let Voldemort win.
If he did that, he would see the rest of his friends again, very soon. They would all be killed. Probably in horribly painful ways.
“How do I go back?” The bones of a plan was starting to take shape for Harry. He had a wild idea of a way that he just might be able to manage the impossible task set before him.
“Focus on yourself, on your body. Remember where you were, and wake up,” the being that wasn’t Dumbledore smiled. ”I’m glad you aren’t ready to give up yet, Harry Potter.”
Harry gave a weak smile, and focused. He didn’t know if this plan would work. It was dangerous, risky… but if it did, he could save them. He could save the students trapped at Hogwarts, save the muggle-borns the Ministry held, save Sirius.
Harry had a long history of not asking adults questions. The Dursleys’ had tried to beat that out of him, with better luck than their efforts to bat out the magic. He seldom asked his teachers questions unless it was over his course material, and rarely then. Had he asked, he would have been told his plan was impossible. But he didn’t ask.
And that was why he succeeded.
* * * * * * * * *
His head throbbed in time with his heartbeat, and thick incense left him feeling smothered. Blinking, Harry realized that it had worked. Sparkles of candlelight reflected from the crystal ball on the table, and revealed a much younger looking Ron Weasley almost asleep across the tiny table from him.
Sibyl Trelawney was droning on about signs and portents, and how they must all learn to clear their inner eyes. Glancing that way, Harry could see a very young looking Hermione sitting across from a girl that he could almost remember, someone who had been killed before his fifth year.
“Yesss…” Harry could feel himself smiling. There was still time. Time to make everything better.