A/N: Hey, everybody! Sorry for the long wait, but I wanted to write this prequel as well as the next chapter before I updated this.
THIS IS A PREQUEL, SO IT HAPPENED BEFORE THE PREVIOUS CHAPTER! It just explains what happened with Harry before he met the Avengers.
I will upload the next chapter in one or two days (or sooner, if I got enough review…) :P
Warnings: (light) slash, swearing
Many thanks to Lucy in the Sky with Dimonds for being my beta, and to Novus Ars, who helped me through this chapter. Thank you, really! :)
You are sitting by the bare kitchen table, staring at the gleaming, flawless black ring, which was delivered to you this morning by Hedwig. You are shivering, too afraid to even look at your long dead owl. 'How did this happen?'
First of all, last time you checked, Hedwig was very much dead.
Also, the Gaunt ring was lying in the woods somewhere, with a crack going down in the middle of the dark stone. You dropped it there, and, in hope it will be lost forever, you never went to search for it.
Neither of the two should be sitting in your kitchen, whole again, like it was the most natural thing in the world.
You get up from the white table, leaving behind the Hallow and the idly staring bird, and go back to the unmade bed. This is certainly just a bad dream – as soon as you fall asleep, you will be back in the real world.
"Welcome, Harry. How are you?" You smile warmly at McGonagall who came out to the castle gates to greet you. Last time you saw her – more than three years ago, just a week after the final battle with Voldemort – she looked ten years older than she really was. Now she looks at least thirty years younger; being the Headmistress of Hogwarts must have helped her.
You don't even reach the Great Hall before she asks about your life. You didn't tell anything to anyone – except Ron and Hermione – because you don't want others telling you what to do. You blame the Dumbledor-ish twinkle in her eyes, but you answer the old witch's question.
"I live in a small flat in the suburbs of London. Everything is entirely muggle around me, so the reporters can't find me, but it's still not isolated, like a small town would be."
"Isn't it too expensive?" You just laugh at her question.
"Money isn't an issue for me. I got quite a sum for killing off Voldemort," you hope she doesn't notice your smile turning forced. "So Ron, Hermione and I decided to take a few years off; we thought we deserve it, after our hellish year being on the run and all," You realize halfway that you said too much. Well, it's too late by now. You have to listen to the lectures of the former Head of Gryffindor through the rest of the journey.
When you finally reach McGonagall's office, she gives the password to the gargoyle with a strict and disapproving look directed towards you, but she still turns back and leaves you alone, just like you agreed on before. It was really hard to convince the professor to leave you on your own in the office, but after three days of pleading and swearing that you won't touch anything, except what you really must, and also promising you won't ruin her office, she gave in. You told her that you needed to be there in order to get rid of something in connection to the war. She probably came to the conclusion that you wanted to talk to Dumbledore's portrait, but your pride wouldn't let you tell it to her. Well, as long as she leaves you alone, you are perfectly okay with her theory.
You step into the office and begin to look for Gryffindor's Sword immediately; trying not to notice how much the room changed since Dumbledore's… death. You no longer avoid this simple fact, but that doesn't mean you want to look up at the portrait of the previous headmaster.
You hear a forceful tapping by the window, and you go and let in the owl out of reflex, so it can drop off its burden at the headmistress' desk to be examined later. You don't curse anymore when you realise it's Hedwig, who should be dead, but is not; and whose sudden return was not just a weird nightmare your mind came up with. She perches herself on the back of Minerva's chair, and you can only hope that she won't leave a nasty surprise there for the Headmistress.
At the back of the office, just beside the Sorting Hat, lies the Sword. One would think McGonagall, with her Gryffindor pride, would cherish it more than that: putting it behind a glass or hanging it up on the wall, not leaving it to gather dust on a shelf.
You quickly pick it up before laying the Resurrection Stone down at the middle of the office's stone floor. "I'm sorry, Hedwig," you glance at the panicked, wildly hooting owl one last time, before you lift the Sword over your head, and even though every fiber of your being protests, you bring it down swiftly. You think your heart would break in two just before the Sword could touch the Stone, but you cannot stop the movement any more, even though your instincts are screaming that you are doing something incredibly wrong and you know you shouldn't be doing this.
The blade easily enters the Stone, stopping only when nothing but the metal ring holds the Hallow together. For a moment, everything stills. Then your chest feels like it wants to explode, Hedwig is hooting wildly, and you cannot do anything but watch as your beloved familiar's feathers fall off her body and she drops dead; the signs of decay already noticeable on her form. The scent of rotten flesh makes you remember your terrifying visions with Voldemort, where you could see every torture, could hear every scream, feel all the pains and the warmth of the victims' blood on your hands…
Then abruptly, purple light enters your vision, and you feel a sudden force, throwing you into the wall behind you. Everything is fuzzy for a moment. Then, in the next moment, you realize that you are lying on your back, and the Sword is lodged into the stone floor just inches away from your left ear... Well, that was close. You hear a distorted 'hoot', before something white and heavy drops onto your chest and bites your nose so hard that you are seeing stars even five minutes later.
You are running towards the castle gates. You left quite in a hurry, before McGonagall could find out that you'd ruined her office. You will make a firecall and apologise that way, when you have the proper distance between you and your former professor.
You almost reach the gates when you catch a glimpse of something moving near Dumbledore's tomb. You pause, glancing at the gates desperately, which would guarantee safety and freedom to your poor self. You hesitate too much, because in the next moment Hedwig drops from your shoulder to the ground in order to get out from under your invisibility cloak, and she takes off towards the graves. You curse before you wrap your cloak tighter around yourself, and follow your damned not-so-dead owl.
You find her sitting on the top of Dumbledore's grave. When you get close enough, she takes off again, but you no longer pay her any attention. Something is not quite right. Screw that, something is definitely wrong.
You are searching through your pockets for your wand, almost snarling when you only find the once again undamaged ring in the pocket of your trousers, before remembering that you are actually holding that blasted piece of wood in your left hand ever since you left the headmistress' office.
You hastily stick out your hand from under the cloak before sending a jet of purple light at the tomb, too busy watching as it lifts up the top stone to notice that you have never even heard of that spell before.
This moment marks the last semi-normal day of your existence.
The stone barely moves to the side an inch when something shoots out of the gap, hitting you at in the chest so hard that your body forgets how to breathe. But in the next few minutes it's the last of your concerns.
You quickly grab the offending object, and you realize it's the Elder Wand just in time to see it turning into dust. Really, you shouldn't be surprised when the dust makes its way into your nose and mouth, choking you even more. The hole that the Resurrection Stone burns into your thigh almost goes unnoticed, because your Invisibility Cloak suddenly feels so heavy that you are sure it broke some of your bones. 'Is it some kind of revenge for what happened in the office?'
Thankfully, you pass out before you could even hit the ground.
When you wake up, you are hurting all over, can't find the Resurrection Stone, your original wand explodes in your hand, and you are bloody invisible.
It takes you a week to realize you are actually not dead, and another two to find a way to turn visible again.
Five years has passed since the final battle. Two since the 'Hallow Incident'. One since Fred Weasley's ghost showed up at the Burrow, when you were there too.
It happened during a family gathering. Everyone had a great time, when suddenly Fred glided into the room casually, instantly freezing the room. He had never said what happened between his death and showing up, nor did he reveal why or how did he come back, but you could make an educated guess.
You are sitting in the backroom of the WWW shop, trying to ignore the tension between you and your two best friends. Things were not going as smoothly as you wanted since the 'Hallow Incident'. Strange things happened around you all the time, and you could never explain them. You still have to use a stick of wood to hide your wandless abilities, and you always have to make up an excuse why can't Ron borrow your Invisibility cloak, or why do you keep around a bird resembling Hedwig so uncannily, when it's clearly unhealthy, according to Hermione. These small things put a strain on your relationship, and you are sure it won't take long before they lose their patience with you, or you get fed up with all the nagging and just snap.
You are so immersed with Fred, whose form is getting less and less transparent every time he gets near you, that you don't see the mischievous glint in Ginny's eyes as she drops something into a cauldron of Instant Aging potion. The explosion following it is too noticeable to miss.
You quickly vanish the smelly goo covering you, trying not to laugh too hard at Hermione's face, who is screaming like a banshee with her fists clenched.
"Hermione, please! It's just an aging potion! It will only turn you five years older for a day, not burn your skin off!" Ginny shouts, trying to drown out Hermione's voice.
You look around, and just as Ginny said, everybody looks five years older. Not only in wrinkles and such, but their hair and nails grew quite a bit too. Side effect of the potion, it seems.
You sweep your waist-long hair out of your face, grinning at Fred, who, being a ghost, is the only one unaffected by the potion, before you realize it's too silent in the room. You sigh. Not again!
"Okay, guys, what is it this time?" You ask in a resigned tone, even as every muscle in your body goes taut, ready to flee if necessary. It may be a good idea, seeing the fear and confusion on everyone's face.
"Harry…" Hermione's voice is shaking, and she takes a step back, instead of getting closer to you – never a good sign. This will be pretty bad, you just feel it. "You were affected by the potion too. You have longer hair and nails, just like us," she analyses the situation. Right. Then it can't be that bad. "But why have you not aged?"
This is the moment you apparate out.
You have spent the last three hours staring at your reflection in the mirror. There are people outside of your wards, trying to break it down, but you don't even notice their attempts.
You are twenty-two. With the potion, twenty-seven. And apparently, you look like a fucking twenty-year-old. Your life officially sucks.
You swallow hard, before you touch your long hair with both of your hands – your nails became short again, though you don't remember why or how it happened – and although you want to scream until your throat bleeds, you only let your magic float gently into your locks, reducing them short again. You go to the kitchen and start making a tea, as your magic releases the hold on the wards, allowing whoever is outside to walk into your little flat.
The door is blown in, spraying splinters of wood into your cup.
"You could have just opened the door by the handle, you know," you say it in a matter-of-fact tone, trying to fish out the splinters from your tea. You shouldn't have bothered with it, as in the next moment the cup is pushed out of your hand and breaks into million little pieces, while you are being choked by the bushy hair of a sobbing Hermione Granger. You look up over her shoulder, shocked, and see half of the Weasley clan lingering not far from you, relief written over their faces.
"We were afraid you would do something… stupid," Bill offers at your questioning look. "When you left, Ron contacted me, knowing you would lock yourself up. I tried to get in sooner, but your wards…"
Ron, who is holding a rather exhausted looking Ginny in his arms, turns to you and says what you needed to hear the most, "Don't scare us like that again, all right, mate? Something is very wrong here, but that doesn't mean we won't stand by you, whatever happens, you know."
When you see Fred and George nod their heads in the background, you burry your face into Hermione's hair and desperately try not to let your tears fall.
First you try to hide the fact that you don't age from the public. It's just that the public usually makes it impossible to hide anything from them.
It's been almost two months since the Weasley family found out about your status as the Master of Death – half of them at the accident with the potion, the others when you told them at the next whole-family dinner -, and your friendship with Ron and Hermione became stronger than before. There were still some awkward moments, like when you tried to explain why you can't bring back Fred fully, but those were easily forgotten.
You are walking down in the crowded streets of Diagon Alley, laughing on Ron's joke, when a spell hits you from behind. You are dizzy for a moment, and maybe you even pass out, because there is a completely blank minute in your memory. The next thing you know is that you are standing in the middle of the street, hands stretched out in front of you, and a few metres ahead of you the walls are painted red. The crowd, pressed to the walls, are watching you with fear and awe mixed in their eyes. You are not too sure you want to know what happened, so you take the speechless Ron's arm, and apparate out of the deathly silent Alley.
Next morning, when the Daily Prophet arrives, you get to know that the spell which hit your back was the Killing Curse, sent by a powerful Death Eater, who was surrounded by purple light before he exploded into tiny little pieces.
Though it leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, you dismiss the event. Maybe the Killing Curse was not powerful enough, and you haven't sent any spell at the man, right?
When you notice your hands are ice cold and shaking, you realize you are still not too good at lying to yourself. The paper noisily slips from your numb fingers.
By the time you are twenty-four, you give up on trying to hide your new status. After the first assassination attempt, the remaining Death Eaters and dark wizards – even some light wizards too – got really desperate. Anywhere you went, someone tried to kill you. Each of them ended up dead.
After seeing you being blown up and the pieces putting themselves together with the help of some purple tendrils, Ron insisted you to enrol in Auror training. You three – yes, even Hermione, who was never an Auror-type – got in, even though it was the middle of November. You all got special training, so Ron and Hermione could catch up with the others, while you got trained by the best Aurors even after your friends joined the regular training group. After a while, the Unspeakables turn up at your training. It's just a few days after it that you begin to get regular invitations for tea with the Minister of Magic. As it turns out, he is quite afraid of you. Maybe it's because you seem indestructible, but the Minister implies several times that he wouldn't stand in your way, if you wanted anything. Coward bastard.
You are standing at the back of the crowd, watching all the grieving faces. The funeral of Molly Weasley is a sorrowful event.
Your surrogate mother died in an accident while you were in Romania with your friends and Charlie. She was hit by a car when she went in to the muggle part of London for something. No one knew what it was.
You do not dare to go closer to the ceremony. You refused to bring back Mrs Weasley – not that you even knew how to do it -, and though you know the family will get over it with time, you don't want to cause a scene right now with your presence. Although you miss her greatly, you are resigned. You know that death cannot be avoided – at least, not by normal people – and that you must let go of Molly Weasley, or else it will break you. At least you still have your friends, and you will be there for each other, even after this tragedy.
You are wondering what you will do when they will be lying in a coffin, and you will be still standing here, alive, not aging.
You can't take this anymore.
You are twenty-eight in three months. You know you can't wait that long; you are too depressed even now. You can't bear it anymore.
Five months ago, after Molly's funeral, you began to talk about a mysterious – non-existent - lover you have. You never told a name, you only did 'accidental' slip-ups about this person.
Today you told Ron and Hermione that you are quitting the Auror training and you are going to travel with that someone in two weeks from now. When they asked for her name, you looked out of the window of your flat, desperately trying to come up with a name. How could you never make up one before this? You read out the first name that came into your sight.
You are still cursing "Alfred's Gym".
You are lying on your back in your bed, staring at the ceiling, ears still ringing from all the yelling about you leaving, running away from your family. When nobody was really bothered by your lover being a man, you began to think. Would it be really that bad to date another guy?
Maybe you should go out to a club and try to get someone for tonight. Probably a bloke, just to do something random and too weird, even by your standards. You've never done it before, but perhaps it will detour your thoughts from the depressing stuff.
It was a total disaster. You are not going to date. Ever. Again.
Not just guys, but girls either. No. Never.
Three days after you told your friends that you are leaving, you bring home a girl.
Next day, another.
Next it's a guy. After he left, you swear you are never going to do something this stupid ever again.
Next day, you bring home another guy. It looks like you can't keep your promises, even if you make them to yourself. By now, you are too numb to feel guilty.
You packed up everything you thought you would need – which was not much, by the way -, and left without a word to anyone.
You have been with the Avengers for almost two months.
Right now, you are trying to calm down the hysteric crowd and usher them down to an underground garage. San Diego – the next random city, where Loki decided to run amok – is a huge place, and the population is high, so it's not an easy task. You erect an invisible shield around the people, making sure no one gets hit by the flying pieces of concrete, steel, and wood. You are lucky that your magic, when you are using more of it, disables any and every electrical technology – including cameras - in a hundred foot radius. This way S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn't know anything about how you save the civilians, just that you do it somehow. They don't even care, probably. From greater distances, filming the other Avengers is more interesting anyway.
You hear a huge 'boom', and you turn around quickly to see if you need to use your magic a little bit more in order to protect the people on the ground. What you actually see makes you swear so badly that a few people turn around to send you a reprimanding glance. You can't care less.
The explosion you heard was Tony Stark firing some kind of missiles at Loki, who was standing on top of a smaller building a few floors over the Iron Man, with his back turned. The little bombs almost hit the god, but at the last moment he turns around and manages to get out of the missiles way. The only problem? What goes up, must come down too. In this case it means a bomb into one of the buildings, where probably some people are still hiding.
You quickly make yourself invisible, and apparate where you suspect the bombs might fall. You miss the target by a few blocks, but you quickly correct your mistake, and throw a shield around the building, absorbing the blow effortlessly. You sigh in relief, before you hurry back to protect the citizens from those dancing monkeys who call themselves the Avengers.
A/N: Next chapter is the Aftermath of the first chapter. I hope you don't want to kill me now. And remember: reviews make the author happy, and a happy author means quick update! So be nice, kids, and instead of chasing me around with a stick until I collapse, leave a review! :)
Thank you all for the wonderful reviews! I appreciate them, even if I don't answer them all. Thank you. ^^
Also, the next chapter is in third person. Don't be surprised!