I don’t own the world of Harry
Potter. Jo Rowling has that distinct pleasure. I just love hanging out in it!
As always, thanks so much to Felina
Black for her support and enthusiasm as my wonderful beta!
It’s A Wonderful Life
The snow outside
the window of the tower room had increased. The wind was driving the frozen
flakes against the pane. A draught slipped around the frame, chilling the only
occupant of the room. Harry sat on his bed, turning the handle of the knife
Sirius had given him over and over in his hand, staring at it. Sirius had only
given him three gifts, and he had squandered them all.
the broom he had coveted for so long, he had lost because his temper had got
the best of him and he had succumbed to the stupid taunts of Malfoy.
The mirror he
had simply forgotten about. How could he have forgotten about one of the few
gifts his godfather had bestowed?
The knife he had
wasted on a door, a door that was just one more tantalising falsehood that
The night his
naivete had cost him his dearest friend, his brother, his father. That is what
Sirius had become. He was Harry’s family. He was what Harry held on to. He
was Harry’s reason for existence. And now he was gone. One more to the list.
How many people
had suffered because he, Harry, was alive? His mother, his father and twelve
Muggles had died. Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny and Luna had all suffered for
claiming his friendship. Mr and Mrs Weasley had lost a son because they had stood
by Harry. Sirius had paid the ultimate price while running to rescue Harry
from his own stupidity. It had become almost a catechism, repeated nightly
since the failed rescue. How many more would be added to the list before the
end? So many lives wasted on him. He pummelled his pillow, his jaw locked in
anger as a hard fought tear slipped silently down his face.
“I DON’T WANT TO
BE HUMAN,” he had railed at Dumbledore. He had not been exaggerating. He
wanted it all to end.
I wish the
pain would go away.
I wish all
this had never happened.
I wish I’d
never been born.
“Do you, Harry?”
Harry’s head jerked up. There, sitting straddle
backwards on a chair, arms draped over the back, with his chin in his hand,
looking at Harry with a glint of amusement in his grey eyes….
“You wish you’d never been born?” he parroted back
“You’re a dream. You’re not real. You’re dead!”
Harry scrubbed the scar on his forehead with his
fist. There wasn’t the slightest tingle to suggest that Voldemort was once
again tormenting him with this vision. This vision of the one person he wanted
more than anyone else.
“I don’t understand.”
“Don’t you, Harry? I’m here to help you.”
“No, something a lot harder. You’ve just been
granted your wish.”
“What wish? That you never died?” Harry leaned
forward, eyes wide with excitement.
“No,” Sirius chuckled, “Nothing that simple either.
Come on, we don’t have long. It’s almost Christmas.” Swinging his leg
carelessly over the chair, he stood and reached out to Harry. As his hand
touched Harry’s shoulder, Harry felt himself drawn into a vortex of colour and
Harry blinked at finding himself standing on Privet
Drive, at the front gate of number four. A wreath hung on the door and a
single string of lights ran along the roofline.
“What are we doing here?” Harry asked with a growl
Sirius grinned at his obvious aggravation. “Visiting
some old friends,” he said pointing at the car that had pulled into the drive.
Harry’s Aunt Petunia was getting out of the car. There was something different
about her. It took Harry a moment to realise it was the expression on her
face. It wasn’t pinched. Her face was relaxed and she had a genuine smile on
her lips. Her hair was not the shellacked blonde helmet he was used to, but
rather fell in soft waves around her face. He could see a resemblance he had
never noticed before between her and photos he had of his mother.
As his cousin Dudley climbed from the back seat,
Harry dropped his jaw. Obviously the diet and boxing was taking effect.
Dudley was no pixie, but he wasn’t of the gigantic proportions he had attained
last summer either. The two of them disappeared into the house, chattering
happily about the contents of the bag Dudley was carrying from a bookstore.
Harry turned to look at Sirius. “What has happened?
They look so…so…”
“Well, there hasn’t been a threat hanging over their
heads for fifteen years. No fear of someone coming after them to get to you.
No fear of magic being discovered by the neighbours. Just an ordinary,
suburban life, like anyone else on this street.
“A threat. They think Voldemort would just stroll
down the street and blast them?”
“When you lived there, yes. After all, that’s what
happened to your parents. Your Aunt Petunia was well aware of the consequences
of taking you in, but she did it anyway, because she loved her sister.”
“She sure had a funny way of showing it to me.” Harry
paused. “But you said there hasn’t been a threat. What happened? Are my
parents still alive?” Harry asked hopefully.
“No. After hearing the bit of the prophecy, his
favourite little spy told him that both James and Lily and Alice and Frank were
due to have babies in the end of July. Voldemort made a personal visit to both
homes a week or so before you were due. No one survived. You and Neville were
“That was your wish, wasn’t it Harry? That you had
never been born?”
Harry sat on the low wall of the garden, looking at
the door that had closed behind his aunt and cousin. “So I never got dumped on
their doorstep. I never had live with them.”
“Well, they seem much better off, not having me
ruining their lives.”
“Is alive and well, unfortunately.”
In the distance a church bell chimed the quarter
hour. Sirius’ face lit with a grin.
“Did you know that every time a bell rings, an angel
gets his wings?”
Harry looked up at Sirius with a question on his
lips, but Sirius had placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder once more and they
were caught in the maelstrom again.
This time they landed on a street in a different sort
of neighbourhood. These homes were older than the housing estate where the
Dursleys lived. The Edwardian brick houses spoke of comfortable wealth that
didn’t need to impress anyone.
As Harry regained his balance, a familiar voice
sounded behind him. He spun on his heel to see Hermione and her mother coming
towards them. They stepped around Harry and Sirius and turned into the walkway
leading up to the nearest house. Harry noticed that Hermione looked tired and
her shoulders curved in a way that suggested she didn’t want to be noticed.
Harry watched as they disappeared behind the enamelled dark blue door.
“She didn’t even speak,” Harry rounded on Sirius.
“She’s never met you. As a matter of fact, she’s
never met any wizards, that she knows of.”
Harry cocked his head in puzzlement.
“One of the first things Voldemort did after taking
over the government, was put Hogwarts under his direct supervision. The Quill
that recorded the births of all magical children was captured. The data is now
under the control of Voldemort’s followers. The only children invited to Hogwarts
are those of magical families. If you aren’t from a pureblood magical family
you will never know about Hogwarts or the wizard community.”
Harry watched as a net curtain was pulled aside at a
first floor window. Hermione peered out at him, with a slight scowl on her
face. Harry gave a slight wave at her, and the curtain quickly dropped back
Sirius looked up at the window with a sad look on his
face. “Hermione goes to an ordinary Muggle school. She is top of her class,
of course, but she knows she is different. She can feel it. She’ll just never
know what it is. She’ll go through life always feeling out of place.”
“She knows though, she senses it. She senses us,” Harry argued,
looking at the dropped curtain.
“Yes, undoubtedly, but she’ll never have the
opportunity to use it, or even explore it. So much lost, so much wasted,”
Sirius mused. “Of course, she is safer, for now.”
“What do you mean, ‘for now’,” Harry asked.
“Voldemort still has his hatred for Muggles. He is
systematically eliminating Muggles. He calls it the ‘final solution’. Of
course Muggles just think it’s an epidemic of flu, but soon the numbers will be
too great to ignore. Muggles with any magical inclinations or connections are
the first being targeted. Your aunt and cousin, as well as Hermione and her
parents will be gone by this time next year.” He gave Harry a squeeze on the
The sight that greeted Harry as the whirling stopped
made him smile. There, striding out of the back door of The Burrow, were Fred,
George and Ron. They had brooms on their shoulders and as they headed up the
hill towards the makeshift Quidditch pitch a voice called out from the shed.
“Boys, mind yourselves. Don’t fly too high, and keep
a keen eye out.”
“Yes, Dad. We will. You mind you don’t do something
dangerous with that ‘aumotobile’ you keep tinkering with!” Fred said with a
wink at his brothers.
Mr. Weasley stepped out of the shed. His hair was a
bit thinner, and had lost all the red to it. His eyes looked older, more tired
than the last time Harry had seen him. He watched carefully as his sons
trooped up the hill to the open field beyond. As he turned back towards the
shed, Mrs. Weasley came out of the house carrying two steaming cups. She
handed one to her husband as her eyes joined his in following the progression
of the three young men.
“They’re almost grown,” she sighed.
“Well, technically, Fred and George are grown, but
it’s hard to remember that sometimes.”
Mrs. Weasley chuckled. “Well at least they’re still
safe and sound. They’re not off corralling dragons or hunting treasure.
Still, I wish I knew what their plans were. How can they expect to make a
living working at Zonkos?”
“Well, it’s better than working at the Ministry.”
Mrs. Weasley wrapped an arm around her husband,
drawing him into a hug and planting a soft kiss on his cheek. “I know. I
worry about Percy too. I just hope he can get through this safely. Such a
chance he is taking.”
“He’s doing what is right. It’s not the easy way
out, but Dumbledore thinks it’s imperative that we have someone on Voldemort’s
staff. I can’t get any further in, my opinions are too well known. I’m not
even sure how long I will even have the job I’m in. You can’t get anymore
redundant than Artefact Retrieval. With the laws of separation of Wizards,
there’s hardly any contact with Muggles anymore.”
“We’ll find a way. I have faith that someday
Dumbledore will bring Voldemort down, just as he did Grindelwald.”
“I wish I had your faith,” Mr. Weasley said, gazing
at the wooded path up which the trio had disappeared.
“I have to believe he will be defeated. I have to
believe good will win out in the end. Otherwise our Ginny will have died in
This time it was Mr. Weasley’s turn to embrace his wife,
and they stood, arm in arm, as if holding each other up.
Harry turned to Sirius. “Ginny’s dead?” he gasped.
“But why?” Harry demanded.
“She found a diary in her cauldron and began to write
“I don’t understand. Voldemort didn’t need the
diary. He was alive. Why would he need her?”
“The diary still existed. It found it’s way into the
hands of Lucius Malfoy, who hates Arthur Weasley and his attempts to undermine
Voldemort’s government. Even the demotion of Arthur has not squelched his
determination to gather supporters of Dumbledore. Malfoy decided to teach him
a lesson. He slipped the diary into Ginny’s cauldron, knowing full well what
could happen. Ginny opened the Chamber under the guidance of Riddle. With the
school empty of ‘Mudbloods’, the Basilisk was contained in the Chamber, but
Ginny was drawn down there. She hasn’t been seen since. She sent an owl to
her mother just before she disappeared, telling about the diary and her
struggle against it, but by the time Molly got the owl it was too late. Ginny
had gone. No, Voldemort didn’t need the diary or Ginny, but Lucius thought it
would be a good lesson for Arthur, to show him what happens to those who defy
“Still, didn’t anyone else see what was happening to
Ginny? Didn’t anyone go after her?”
“No one knew where she went. There wasn’t a clever
second year girl to figure out what the monster in the Chamber was. There
wasn’t a brave twelve-year-old boy willing to risk his own life to go after
her. She was led into the lair of a monster, where she died, alone and
Harry stared at Mr and Mrs Weasley and didn’t even
realise Sirius’ hand was on his shoulder till the whirlwind deposited him next
to a crimson-draped four poster in the seemingly familiar tower room. Harry
looked around. “Where are the rest of the beds? There are only two in here.”
“Yes, that’s right. That one is Ron’s,” Sirius
explained, pointing to the bed closest to Harry. “And that one is Seamus’.”
Harry dropped onto the edge of Ron’s bed, trying to
grasp the enormity of everything he had seen. His mind inventoried the things
he had experienced, the things he had done.
“The Philosopher’s Stone, what…”
“Oh, Voldemort is still after that. Quirrell never
did figure out how to get the stone out of the mirror. Voldemort has no
patience for ineffective toadies, so…” Sirius grimaced as he snapped his
fingers. “He’s still trying for immortality, you can be sure.”
“And Cedric Diggory? Did he survive the Tri-Wizard
“Oh yes. Cedric won. It was quite uneventful,
except Ludo Bagman wound up being indentured to the Goblins for his debts. He
didn’t make much, betting on the Bulgarian Quidditch star.”
Harry nodded his head, pleased with this news. Then
a thought occurred to him.
“What about you? You didn’t have to go running off to
save my butt in the ministry. Why aren’t you alive?”
“I was accused of the murder of 13 people and wound
up in Azkaban. I gave up living after about a year in there. I couldn’t stand
it anymore. All I heard was the screams of my mother as she berated me for
disgracing the family name. I heard the voice of Peter Pettigrew accusing me
in front of a street full of Muggles. I saw the bodies of James and your
mother, with her stomach swollen with a child that would never be born, because
I had convinced them to choose Peter instead of me. There was no reason to try
to escape. There was no Harry to try to protect. There was no Harry to rescue
Harry’s head spun wilder than it had during any of
their whirlwind trips tonight. How could his life have changed so much in the
world? He was Harry, just Harry. Just an ordinary sixteen-year-old wizard.
Somehow, fate had chosen him to make a difference. Yes, because of him Cedric
had died. That was horrible, but even more horrible was the alternative. How
many Muggles had died, and would continue to die, because he didn’t want to be
responsible? He couldn’t think. He buried his face in his hands. Sirius
placed his hand on Harry’s shoulder once more. This time the world did not
Harry allowed Sirius to pull his shoes off his feet
and lift the covers for Harry to crawl under. As his eyes closed in
exhaustion, he felt Sirius lift his glasses off the bridge of his nose, and
stroke his hair gently.
“Time for sleep, Harry. Tomorrow’s another day.
Tomorrow is Christmas.”
The sunlight that peeked through the opening in the
bed drape told Harry he had slept later than usual. He pulled the drape aside,
to see four empty beds as well as his own lining the walls of the circular
room. Harry sighed in relief and climbed from the bed. He looked down at his
wrinkled, dingy clothes. He yanked them off, replacing them with clean ones
that he pulled from his trunk. He bounded down the spiral stairs and into the
empty Common Room. The sunlight reflecting from the newly crusted snow made
the room very bright. His favourite squishy couch in front of the fireplace
looked worn, yet inviting.
“Merry Christmas, you old saggy thing you!” Harry
said with a smile, running his hand over the curved back.
He pushed his way through the portrait hole.
“You’re cutting it a bit thin, if you’re wanting
breakfast,” complained the Fat Lady, straightening the wreath of tinsel
encircling her head.
“Merry Christmas, m’lady,” Harry said, sweeping into
a low bow in front of the portrait guarding the hidden entrance.
She blushed. “Oh, go on with you,” she said, making a
pushing motion with her hand.
Harry half ran down the corridor, and reaching the
first staircase, slid down the broad banister. Repeating this on the second
flight, he found himself being pelted with peppermint humbugs.
“Merry Christmas, Peeves,” Harry shouted with a
laugh, ducking most of the sweets, but reaching up and grabbing a couple from
mid-air, as if they were brown snitches wrapped in Spellophane.
He entered the Great Hall to a rush of smells that
enticed his stomach to growl. Professor McGonagall passed him in the door.
“Merry Christmas, Mr. Potter.”
“And you, professor.” With a grin, he headed for the
table where the people he was most eager to see were seated. He cuffed Ron on
“Merry Christmas, mate.”
“Merry Christmas, Harry,” Ron said, staring at him
Harry reached down and grabbed Hermione and Ginny in
a double-armed hug.
“I’m so glad to see you. Merry Christmas!”
“Merry Christmas, Harry,” Ginny responded, shaking
Hermione looked at him in askance. “Well, you
certainly are in a better mood today.”
“Yup,” he said, sitting down across from Ginny and
pulling a plate of sausages towards himself.
“And to what do we owe this honour?”
Harry thought for a moment, then just shook his head
and grinned. “I just had to see things in a different light.”
In the clock tower outside, a deep bell bonged the
Ginny leaned toward him. “Have you heard the old
saying? Every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that before,” Harry said with a