Chapter 1: Getting Picked Up
It was an ordinary day.
Nothing new or exciting to foreshadow the hell of emotions and pain Harry would go through later in the day when he walked out of the newly built Grimmauld Place that morning with several ministry letters in his hands and a piece of toast caught between his teeth.
No, it was blue skies, flashing camera lights on the corners of the streets at him, little kids running up to him with quills asking for his autograph ... just, as usual. Well, as usual as usual could get to Harry now.
It was four months after the fall of Voldemort and people were still mobbing Harry as their hero and savior. Still. Hermione had told Harry the fame and lack of privacy wouldn't go away for awhile, if not ever, but Harry had been genuinely disappointed when Hermione had been right, again.
He couldn't go to the ministry or to even Hogwarts, without being stopped at least five times in the street by various people wanting to congratulate him. To ask his opinion. To apologize for doubting him a few years back. To shake his hand. To make sure they knew how proud of him they all were.
It was exhausting.
So Harry ignored the usual displays of flashing photos at the corners of his eyes and focused on the pale sheet of parchment between his fingers with tight lips. Neville's not going to like this, Harry thought to himself as he read to the last line of the letter from St. Mungos. Not at all.
Harry sighed and folded the parchment back into his trousers back pocket. Hermione wasn't going to like it either. They had all thought the last of the Death Eaters had been brought in or wiped out from the wizarding world. Harry's jaw rotated backwards slowly. Apparently not.
"Mr. Potter! Mr. Potter!" a short male reporter yelled from the side of the road at him. "Mr Potter! Do you have any comments on the Minister's newest announcement this morning from St. Mungos? Are you worried there might be more death eaters left? Do you have a plan of action?"
Harry glanced at the darkly robed man. The other reporters seemed to gather courage from the first and began shouting at Harry as he walked farther down the street. Fourteen more yards until the disapparation perimeter, Harry thought to himself.
The crowd mobbed together on all sides of Harry in a complete circle, yelling and shoving the nearest person to them in a vain attempt to reach closer to Harry.
"-any leads on Lucius Malfoy's escape-"
"-Hogwarts opening again-"
"-muggle policies for new students-"
"Mister Potter is it true you're being considered the new head Auror?" the short first reporter yelled out to his left.
"No," Harry answered the question solely. What an absolutely ridiculous notion.
"Sir, do you plan on-"
The air around Harry went dark and the oxygen seemed to get heavier.
Death Eaters was Harry's first thought.
Reporters screamed on instinct and Harry whirled around, his robes whipping around with him to whatever attack this was. His wand was immediately in his hand and up in the air, pointed to the chilled, and darkened air.
"Run!" reporters screamed at each other, losing their heads.
Dicimus enim viro. Dicimus quippe fortissimi. Fortissimum. Et vincet mors una vincere malum quod imminet. Et insontes una recta mundi," a whispered voice chanted through the darkening air around him. Soft, almost childlike, but at the same time, chilling and dark. It sent shivers down Harry's back and caused the saliva to disappear from his mouth.
"Harry Potter!" the short reporter from earlier yelled at Harry from across the street. Harry looked up instinctively at the call. The man's eyes locked onto Harry and his mouth dropped open in horror. His hand raised upwards into the air and his pointer finger extended towards him, pointing at something invisible to Harry, but terrifyingly real to the shorter man.
Past experiences had forced Harry to understand that expression all too well.
"Run!" he shouted at the man, stepping forwards and throwing himself as fast as he could across the street. "Move! Get up! RUN!"
The smoke-like air around Harry followed him as he ran, and Harry choked in the black. The mist gripped his legs, pulling him down, and Harry landed heavily on his knees. His wand slipped from his fingers on impact. NO!Harry reached for his wand, reaching forwards and landing on his stomach, but the mist pulled him back sharply as if it sensed the danger it was about to encounter. Harry looked up desperately, only to stare solely into the eyes of the reporter across the street. "Run!" he yelled one last time at the frozen reporter. Run, he thought as the smoke reached over his chest and wrapped itself around his head, blacking out his vision. Run.
Cold chills seeped through his robes and imbedded itself into his skin and bones. The blackness pulsated around Harry, drawing him backwards and off his stomach into the air. Harry's glasses slipped off his nose, and the thin wiring tumbled downwards before Harry could catch them off his face. Another cold draft pulled him backwards like a python to it's prey and Harry squirmed against the current as hard as he could. He tried vainly to grasp anything to hold him down, but the draft caught him upwards, and thrust him towards the sky faster than his own Firebolt would.
This wasn't right. This wasn't the type of Death Eater magic he'd come to know and recognize. This was... it was different.
Not dark, exactly. But heavy. And it seemed to almost call to Harry. Like a string to a puppet. It yanked Harry backwards, and through the darkness, further into the chilled skies above him. Vaguely, Harry almost thought he heard someone scream his name. Hermione maybe. Mrs. Weasley?
The child-like voice of the repeated chant deepened into a man's voice around him, echoing in blackness before it multiplied into more than one. Several deep voices, and more joining in at every second. It was a like a choir, and chant got louder in his ears. The pull got stronger, and Harry felt all the air leave his body as if someone had taken a vacuum to his lungs. His insides twisted, his bones felt compacted, and a fiery shot of pain flashed across his head, over his scar.
No. No, this was not right at all. His scar hadn't hurt him since Voldemort's death. It wasn't possible. It couldn't be right. He'd seen the murderer fall. The whole school had. Voldemort wasn't-
And the familiar hot flash of burning pain set his scar on fire like a whip to wet skin. Harry grasped at his head in pain, unable to breath, and unable to scream. He choked on the air in his throat. His stomach heaved. His eyes burned. His chest tightened- and suddenly, the air thinned, his ears popped, and his back was slamming against cold concrete.
"Holy shi-" A young man's voice screeched somewhere to the left of Harry.
"Jonathan what are you doing here?" A woman's sharp voice asked across the other side of the room.
"I-" the young man stammered.
Air forced its way into Harry's chest, and his eyes flew open. His stomach recoiled inside of him, but he sucked in as much air as could through his gagging mouth and heaving chest. White blurry dots, and a familiar black haze of unconsciousness creeped along the sides of his eyes. "Wha-" Harry managed to spit out angrily. The room spun like a toy top, and Harry choked on his words. He closed his eyes forcefully and tried to breathe through his mouth. It wasn't working out all that great.
Around him, he heard the voices of men and women alike shouting at each other over him. In anger. Surprise. Anxiety. He recognized those tones, but none of the voices.
"Get Minerva, he just passed through," The first woman shouted at someone.
Professor McGonagall? What- Harry thought in a daze, his mind slowing in on itself and groggily catching bits and pieces of the shouting around him. Unconsciousness was close.
"-oks like a child!"
"It wasn't like I could chose who came through the-"
"-on't understand, we've kidnapped someone's chi-"
"-didn't I tell you this was a bad idea?" hissed a soft, familiar, female's voice. Who-
"-irius back down here, the portal has to be reclos-" Mrs. Weasley?
"Jonathan you get to your room this instant young man! Your father and-" Maybe Tonks?
No. No that can't be right, Tonks was dead. He'd seen the body. Who then- Harry forced his eyes open, trying to raise the hundred pound weights that felt like they were firmly over the catches of his eyes. He fought the drowsiness, blinked rapidly to focus the blurred, spinning world, and focused his chest into relearning how to breathe by himself.
A curtain of dark red hair framed by a pale thin face hovered above Harry's vision. He couldn't see the details very clearly, but he could see that it was a woman, middle aged with laugh lines around the mouth, but aged lines between her brows like she'd been frowning a lot. She was glancing down worryingly at him, searching his face with her eyes. Her eyes-
Harry gasped up at the woman, and his heart seemed to come to a crashing stop in his chest. Her eyes. HIs vision might be blurry, but he could see the color of her eyes perfectly and they were green. Bright green even under the shadow of her red hair. Red hair. Pictures hidden in a scrapbook under Harry's bed flashed across his eyes. Stones of pressure seemed to crack Harry's ribs and he gasped up at her. "You-" he spluttered.
"Lily, love, is it… did it-" A man's voice came from behind her.
The woman in front Harry tipped her head sideways at Harry. "James… look at him. He's-"
Harry's mind shut down like blinders to a shut window. His eyes rolled into the back of his head, a flash of heat washed over his forehead, and suddenly, Harry saw comforting blackness.
Chapter 2: The Potter family
He was warm. The beginnings of waking up sluggishly crawled through Harry's mind. He was lying down on a soft mattress, and a thick blanket was pulled up over his chest, almost directly under his nose. He felt comfortable, safe even, but was starting to feel hot. Harry swallowed and parted dry lips. Really hot. Almost like—
Memories of what had happened before he'd fallen unconscious crashed against him like icy water, and Harry bolted upright from where he was lying. His mother. Or … woman. The woman who had her eyes. His eyes. And her red hair. A cruel reminder really, getting kidnapped by a woman who looked so close to the woman he'd stared at for hours in a thin scrapbook. His eyes widened, and he breathed in quickly, eyes darting around for a possible threat. Right. Kidnapped.
Ron was going to kill him.
His eyes quickly cataloged the room, but Harry could see only blurred outlines without his glasses. Which were still at Grimmauld Place. Annoyed at himself, Harry squinted at the water colors around him. He was alone. He breathed out confused but faintly relieved. Why leave a kidnapped man in the room alone? Where they that confident? He gazed around the room again, picking up the smaller details and furrowed his eyebrows together. Possibly. He was left lying down in a bedroom. A guest room maybe, from the looks of the worn edges of a wooden dresser across the room, and the shaggy red rug by the single door to his left. Used, all of it, but empty of personal objects. Not even pictures.
Harry swung his legs over the bed and stood up slowly, still cautious of threats. No spells held him down, no warnings went off in his room or outside. He was alone. It was quiet. Peaceful even, if you didn't think about his kidnapping.
Harry grimaced to himself. Forget Ron, Hermione was going to kill him. He was supposed to be recording their adventures down today in a ministry pensive and start muggle correspondences for the incoming first years at Hogwarts. Without him, Hermione would have to do it, and with Ron away at Auror training, she would have to do it all by herself. Harry winced. He didn't envy Ron.
Harry looked around the room again squinting at the blurred images and looked down at his clothes. They had left him in his original clothes, thank merlin. That would have been… Harry shook his head. No, he didn't want to think about it.
Someone knocked on the door and Harry held back a jump of surprise. "Um… are you dressed? Awake? Mr… uh, man?" it was a young man's voice. A familiar voice actually. Harry thought back and matched the boy's with the voice he'd heard when he'd first… landed. Wherever that was.
Jonathan. His name was Jonathan, Harry thought. But to send him here? Send a boy? Harry grimaced. "I am. On both accounts. You can come in," Harry called out, tensed.
The door opened slowly, and a blurry, short young man pushed his head in the door hesitantly. He had black hair, and light brown eyes, hazel almost. He had an oval face, but with less baby fat than his height suggested. Maybe a fifth or sixth year then. Harry couldn't define the rest of the boy's features. Jonathan grinned at him, looking a little forced. "S'good you're awake. Thought maybe you'd fallen into a coma."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "How long have I been unconscious?" No demands, no threats. Just a child asking to see if he was awake. Where was he?
"Two days uh… Sir. You've been sleeping harder than an inferius." Harry tried not to wince at the mention of the zombie-like creatures and instead watched quietly as Jonathan opened the door all the way and stood in the door way, leaning against the door frame.
"Harry," Harry said, looking down at blinking a couple of times. If he didn't have his glasses, then he didn't have his wand either. Good Merlin, Hermione and Ron were going to kill him. Mrs. Weasley too.
"What?" Harry looked up and locked green eyes with hazel. "You—is that your name? Harry?"
Harry nodded. "No one calls me Sir, at least, no one who's ever met me more than once."
Jonathan grinned lightly. "Yeah, I can understand," he said looking down. Jonathan swallowed suddenly, like he was building himself to do something. Harry tensed automatically, and calculated the distance from the boy to the door. No windows, but if he pushed hard enough, the boy would be surprised enough to let him through. An escape from an unknown place though, that could be an issue. "I.. uh , well Si—Harry, I don't know if you remember anything—"
"I do," Harry answered, tight lipped. Anger edged his voice, and Jonathan's head snapped up, looking more curious than scared.
Jonathan nodded. "You do? Then you know where you are?" Now the kid was looking a little scared.
Harry eyed him cautiously. "No. No I don't. I remember being pulled away from my morning toast." Harry leveled his eyes at the boy. "Anything you'd like to share then?"
Jonathan swallowed and shook his head. "The others should be coming back soon. They'll explain what happened, and why you… why they called you."
Shock jolted Harry's heated gaze. "'Called me'?" he echoed. "What—"
Jonathan shook his head and held up his hands in surrender. "Listen… Harry, I can't say anything until the rest of the order gets here. They want you to know why there was no other choice to—"
"The order?" Harry asked, frowning. "What's the Order got to do with this? No one's had a meeting since Voldemort die—"
"Don't say his name!" Jonathan yelled, stepping into the room and reaching out to Harry in horror.
Harry stepped back, surprised at Jonathan's reaction. "What do you—"
Jonathan looked around the room, fear etched deeply into his young face. "You can't say his name here. You don't understand. If you said it then—"
"Jonathan, what are you talking about? He'd dead. Voldem—mhhh." Jonathan reached out and clasped a hand over Harry's face, cutting off his voice.
Jonathan stepped closer to Harry and stared him in the eye, his face tight with fear and his breathing quicker than a flying snitch. "No he's not Harry. Not here. Maybe where you've been… where you live, he might be, but here, he's still darkening the world. Still killing. Still—"
Harry slowly pulled Jonathan's hand away from his face. "The taboo?" Harry asked quietly.
Jonathan nodded, his eyes glancing around. "The house is protected, under a lot of wards, but you—you can never be too sure. He can be anywhere. Anyone."
Harry narrowed his eyes and stepped slowly away from the young man. "I'm in a parallel world. A different dimension."
Jonathan nodded wordlessly, looking unsure.
"You brought me to another world with Vold—with you-know-who. Another Dark Lord. Another Light and Dark battle raging. Another Hogwarts. Another—" Harry cut himself off. Another everything. Another Ron and Hermione. Another Dursely's. Another—
Harry looked back at Jonathan. "Jonathan," Harry started, something acidic rising from the depths of his stomach, "the woman from before… She had red hair, and green eyes. She—"
Jonathan looked confused. "The woman that yelled at me? That's my mum, Lily. Dad, his name's James, actually was there too. He got there right after you passed out. Weird really, you and my dad look a lot alike. Sirius thought you could pass off as twins if dad was younger. Sirius is my dad's best mate." Jonathan looked closer at Harry, like he was trying to read something off his face. "Do you know them in your world?"
Harry's tongue must have swollen, for he couldn't speak. Merlin, he felt he could barely breathe. Lily. Her name had been Lily. And James. Lily and James. Sirius. And he was in a different world. One where Voldemort was alive. One where— Harry turned his back on Jonathan and breathed deeply.
"What is your last name?" Harry asked quietly, coming out almost as a whisper.
Jonathan was quiet for a moment. "Potter," he answered just as quietly like he knew the importance of his answer. "Jonathan Ignotus Potter."
Harry took a quiet, shaky breath, and latched his fingers together in front of him, away from the prying eyes of Jonathan. His brother. No, Harry thought immediately, not my brother. This worlds Harry's brother. Not mine.
"Harry?" Jonathan asked. "Did you know me in your world? My mum?"
Harry swallowed and breathed out. He shook his head. "Not at all," he said truthfully. "Do you—do you have an older brother Jonathan?" If this world's Harry was here, did that mean they already know who he was? Was he was still here? Harry frowned. Could they meet? Could two of the same people even live in the same dimension? Hermione had said once that dimensions were tricky business. Only one person of the same soul could theoretically be in the same world. So was this worlds Harry sent back to his then? He blanched. Oh Merlin, the reporters would turn him to shreds.
"What?" Jonathan asked, his voice broken, and quieter than before.
Harry turned around at the sound of Jonathan's voice in confusion. He'd only asked— oh. Of course. That's why I'm able to be here. Harry only had to look at his face to know. "Your older brother died didn't he?"
Jonathan looked back and forth between Harry's eyes. "Harry." Harry tried not to jump at his name. "His name, it was Harry James Potter." Jonathan looked away towards the bed Harry had woke up in. "He was my mums and dads first child. He died after a… a family friend went dark."
"Peter," Harry said, mostly to himself, nodding in thought. Of course, instead of Voldemort coming, Peter could have just as easily killed him. Stolen him away as a child. He had plenty of opportunities as a close family friend. Babysat one time, and was gone forever from this worlds Lilly and James. Handed over to Voldemort so Lilly couldn't sacrifice herself for him.
"Yes," Jonathan said breathlessly. Harry looked up and found Jonathan's eyes glued to his. "Peter Pettigrew."
Harry nodded, answering his unsaid question. "I know of him."
Jonathan looked closer at him. "Did you—"
"Jonathan!" a woman's voice shouted from outside the room, somewhere else in the house. "We're back. Dumbledore wants us back there soon, so get your—Jonathan?" the woman's voice got louder and the thin clicks of high heels echoed down the wooden hallway outside of Harry's room. "Jonathan, where are you?"
"Here mum. I'm… well—"
A thin red headed woman rounded the corner and stopped before the doorframe, staring. She looked at Jonathan first, and then at Harry. Her eyes pierced through the blurry world and Harry could only stare as she took him in and then surveyed the room like she expected it to be in shambles. "Jonathan…" she started quietly. "What are you doing—"
Harry was talking before he could think about moving his mouth and his eyes stayed glued to her, drinking in her frame. "Your son Mrs. Potter, has said nothing to me. He only answered a few questions of mine that I needed to know, including the fact that I have been taken from my world and placed into a new one."
Despite his soft tone, Lily nearly flinched. "I am sorry for your… discomfort at this Mr…"
"Harry," Harry tried to smile. "Just Harry."
"Harry," she said quietly, showing him her own small forced smile.
Harry nodded. "Jonathan has been informing me of your worlds… differences from mine."
Lily glanced at her son before returning to look at Harry. "As I said, I am sorry for this, but—"
"—you have to wait for the order," Harry nodded, smiling a little for her benefit. Why though, he had no idea. He was the one in a different world, replaced in one completely unfamiliar.
Lily's eyes jumped in surprise. "You also have the Order?"
"The Order of the Phoenix?" Harry asked. "Yes. We also have one. No longer needed, but there still the same."
Lily smiled, and Harry didn't think he was breathing. His mother was beautiful. It was no wonder his father had fallen so hard for—No. Not your mother. Not your father. Think. Not your world. Not your family, Harry thought viciously to himself. Better to correct it now than get ideas later. Not yours. "So the Dark Lord was vanquished in your world then?" she asked with a shine in her eyes.
Harry nodded and smiled back at her. He couldn't help it. He didn't think he wanted to. "It wasn't easy." His smile turned sour with the memories that decided to assault him with the lasting taste of his words. "It was horrible." Harry's jaw clenched together and he looked away, thinking back on the day Voldemort had died. The bodies lined up, wrapped in white cloth. "It's something I don't ever want to do again." Harry looked back up at Lily and found her staring back at him with mixing emotions. Sadness. Anger. Pain. Regret. Shame. Harry stared at her and swallowed. "Ever."
"Harry I—"she started, opening her mouth farther before closing her mouth with a click.
"She wants to say that we're sorry," someone said from the doorway. Harry looked up and locked eyes with hazel eyes. A different eye shape than Jonathans, but the same hazel. An older man, with untidy black hair and circular, wire frame, glasses. James Potter.
Harry felt numb. All emotions felt turned down like a volume button pressed on mute. He stared at the man watching him from the doorway, and finally, he could see why people thought his father and him the same. They were nearly the same height, with James standing only an inch or two taller than him. He had Harry's eyebrows, and cheekbones. The same chin and nose. The same width of shoulders, maybe Harry's a little less wide and a little less arm muscle, but nearly the same. Almost like looking into a mirror.
"Mr. Potter," Harry said, surprised at himself at how even his voice sounded.
"Harry," James nodded to him.
Harry turned to Lily. "There's no need to apologize ma'am. I would just ask you to return me to my home and all would be forgiven." Harry thought quietly at the back of his mind at how formal he sounded. It was slightly disturbing.
Lily's eyes watered at the corners, and Harry stood stunned at her. "I'm so sorry Harry, but we can't."
Harry furrowed his eyebrows together and watched silently as a tear slipped from her eyes. "You can't what?"
Her lips thinned in a sad frown and her chin shook. "We can't send you back Harry. I'm so sorry, but we can't."
A heavy weight at the bottom of Harry's stomach fell and he suddenly felt weightless. Numb again. Shocked. Denial. No. That wasn't right. This was a misunderstanding. Wrong. This couldn't—Harry shook his head and stepped backwards. The back of his legs hit the side of the bed and he let himself fall down against it. Wrong. "Why?" Harry asked, looking up to James. "What did you do to—" Harry stopped himself and looked to Lily. "What did you do?"
"Don't talk to her like that!" Jonathan yelled angrily. Harry glanced at him and back at Lily who was crying silently.
"I'm sorry," Harry whispered. "I just… I'm sorry." Harry shook his head and ran a hand through his hair distractedly.
"No," Lily said, walking closer to him, until she was right in front of him. "We are the ones who should be apologizing. When we did the summoning ritual, we had assumed an adult would come through. Not a… well not a child Harry."
Harry smiled thinly. "Mrs. Potter I haven't been a child for a long time."
Lily kneeled down to his height on the bed. Harry looked up to her and met her eyes with his silently. She looked calm. Warm. Safe. How she'd looked in Harry's imagination for all his life. "You were supposed to be a veteran auror. Or someone wiser than what we had. We summoned the most capable to defeat him. The strongest. The one who had already defeated him. None of us had any idea that…"
Harry nodded, understanding. "It would be a teenager barely out of Hogwarts?"
Lily nodded. "I don't know how the spell went wrong, I checked, double checked, and triple checked the runes before we started the ritual. For our mistake, I am sorry."
"The Potter family apologizes," James said from the doorway, walking farther into the room, coming up behind Lily. Jonathan stood closer to his father at his side. "For our mistake, we have taken you from your world, and out into one unfamiliar and dangerous."
Harry looked up at the tree of them in confusion. "Wrong? The spell didn't go wrong."
Lily looked ashamed. "Yes it did Harry. It was supposed to retrieve the vanquisher of the Dark Lord in your world. Not a child."
Harry sighed. Here we go. "Your spell worked Mrs. Potter, the Potter family owes me no apology."
Jonathan's eyes widened. "No way in Merlin."
Harry smiled grimly at the young man. "Trust me, killing the great snake face wasn't worth the publicity that went along with it. I barely get left alone."
Jonathan looked at him incredulously. "You defeated the Dark Lord?"
Harry felt the familiar slip of darkness engulf his chest. "Not without a great amount of help. And lost lives."
Lily stared at him, her mouth opened in quiet horror. "You killed him?"
Harry looked away from her, shame rising from his stomach from the look in her eyes. "I had no choice. He had killed so many already. So many students."
"He attacked Hogwarts?" James asked, his voice loud in the quiet room.
"In the Final Battle, yes, but he had had control of Hogwarts for a year before that," Harry stared at James and grinned from the corner of his mouth. "So really, the spell worked perfectly."
"Your parents…" Lily said turning Harry's attention back to her, looking at him with sad eyes. "They let you—"
"My parent's died a long time ago Mrs. Potter," he interrupted quietly. " That's the side effect of wars. People die who don't always deserve to. They had no say in what I did with my life and they had no advice to give with the defeat of Vold—you-know-who." Harry swallowed. "They just gave me silent support. And for that much I was grateful." He breathed out and stood up from the bed, feeling the small Potter family watching him with careful eyes. "I'd like to think they're proud of what I did."
"For defeating you-know-who? You can bloody well bet there proud of you Harry. I can just imagine the kind of—" Lily lightly smacked the back of Jonathan's head, cutting him off.
Harry watched Jonathan make hurt eyes at his mother and Lily brush the back of her sons head softly. An ache Harry knew all too well swelled at the center of his chest, and he purposely moved his gaze away. Hazel eyes met his, and Harry knew James had been watching him. Studying him, might have been the better word. Harry kept his locked with James, too stubborn to look away, admitting his weakness. So it hurt. So what. Other kid's parents had been taken away in the war. He was no one special.
"So," Harry said steadily staring at James. "The Order meeting?"
Harry couldn't read the man's facial expressions, but suddenly James seemed a little less intense. "Dumbledore asked us to arrive at Headquarters as soon as you'd awakened."
"Is Grimmauld Place still Headquarters?" Harry asked, curious.
"It was recently installed as Headquarters actually, about three years ago. Was it—" James asked.
Harry nodded. "For us too."
James nodded and Harry looked to the door. "Anything else?" he asked.
James grinned. "Well, we'd best get you glasses before you squint any harder and your eyes will fall out."
Harry didn't even raise an eyebrow. "Very funny."
"Sirius thinks so."
James turned around out the door, and Harry blinked back the sour feelings left by his Godfathers name. Jonathan followed after his father's heels out the room, missing Harry's slip of the face, but Lily was standing behind for Harry and had not. Harry followed after Jonathan without prompting, and Lily followed after him with a furrow between her brows.
Chapter 3: The Order and A Surname
James transfigured a book on the hallway table outside into a pair of square glasses and handed them over to Harry. Harry accepted them and slid them on easily, instantly grateful to the suddenly clear cut world around him. "How did you know the eye prescription?" Harry asked looking over to James for the first time without the blurry edges.
The sides of James's face tipped up into a smile. "Educated guess."
Harry didn't have time to think about what that meant as in the next moment, Jonathan was turning him around to face him with a bright smile. "They look good on you," he said grinning. "Not as good as they'd look on me, but, even perfection has its limits."
"Oh I'm sure," Harry deadpanned.
James flashed an amused smile and walked down the hallway ahead of them. Jonathan tipped his head at his father's back. "Come on. Don't want to miss our own party."
Harry followed James and Jonathan Potter out of the room he'd woken up in and farther down through the massive house. It was a nice house, Harry decided. With polished wooden floors, tall windows, thin, light colored curtains, and worn brown furniture throughout, the house looked … well, homey. Something completely different from the tornado of the comfortable Burrow, or the pristine Dursely home; it was a nice median between the two. Something Harry decided that he quite liked.
"You have a wonderful home," Harry said out loud, not missing Jonathan's smirks whenever he glanced back and saw Harry staring.
James looked over his shoulder backwards at him, and grinned proudly. "Potter Manor. It's been in the family for generations actually. The parents wanted somewhere smaller, Lilly and I needed someplace bigger than our last. With new memories." The grinned turned bitter at the end, and Harry realized he must have been talking about himself, or, the other Harry. The Harry that died.
Although, where had the Potter Manor gone in his world? Harry didn't think he owned anything more than Sirius's old home and his family vault of course, but still, where had this house been in Harry's world?
"So we're not in Godric's Hallow then?" Harry asked, looking out one of the tall windows. Outside was a grassy field large enough to put in a quidditch pitch in, with large oak trees that rose taller than the upper floors. A pond, small lake maybe, covered the far right side of the property surrounded by tall trees and green grass as well. Like something out of a post card really, Harry mused.
"Did your Potters live there too?" James asked with a raised brow.
"Huh?" Harry snatched his concentration back and glanced at James confused for a second before it caught back up with him. The house. Right. Godric's... oh. Smart. Real smooth Potter. "Oh, uh, yea. The Potters... for a bit they did. Not there anymore."
Jonathan slowed and fell into step beside Harry. "Well don't skip the details Harry. Where'd we go to? Tell me not America though. Granddad threatened to whisk us all there once, when Hogwarts looked about to fall a couple years back, and I thought I'd rather move to Beauxbatons than go there."
"What's wrong with the States? And Beauxbatons?" Harry asked lightly, though confused. There wasn't anything wrong with the Beauxbatons Academy here was there? Was it overtaken? Harry felt a little worried at the thought of Madame Maxime being taken away as Headmistress. Though, if she was half giant, and nothing had changed from the original War, Harry doubted the Headmistress was still taking care of the school. Or even alive.
"Oh nothing's wrong with it per say, but they're all a bunch of stuck up, pixie nosed-"Lilly smacked the back of her son's head forwards and Jonathan ran a hand through the back of his dark hair grinning. "Of course, don't say that to Bill Weasley or you'd have a curse thrown at your back so fast Merlin's bal-"
Lily smacked the back of her sons head a little harder. "Jonathan," she warned, staring with narrowed eyes.
Jonathan raised his hands in surrender to his mum and grinned back to Harry. He came close to Harry's ear and whispered, "No really though, if you meet them you'd-"
Jonathan backed up from Harry and laughed. "Alright! Alright, sorry. Just trying to make him laugh, that's all."
Harry didn't laugh, but he grinned at the younger man's attempt. "So Bill and Fleur got married here as well then?"
Jonathan nodded. "Soon as they could. Yours?"
Harry nodded. "Summer before my seventh year."
"So they were destined, in both worlds." Jonathan huffed a little like it was a blow to his ego.
"Disappointed?" Harry smiled.
Jonathan shoved his hands in his pockets with a grin. "No, she wanted me before Bill."
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Right. I'm sure."
Harry doubted it, and thought about where the French lady and Jonathan could have met. Only one idea came to him. "You were her date for the Goblet of Fire's Ball then?"
Jonathan frowned, confused. "No, I met her at an Order meeting in my third year. What's a 'Goblet of Fire'?"
It was Harry's turn to frown. "You didn't... Hogwarts didn't hold the competition for the Goblet of Fire?"
"When?" Jonathan asked, his frown falling deeper. "Recently? As in, the past few years? Merlin no. Heard rumors about it in my third year, but the Headmaster thought that it would be too dangerous," Jonathan said, glancing at Harry. He stared for a few seconds before his lower jaw dropped a fraction and his eyes widened in disbelief. "No way. You did? You were in the competition?"
Harry looked away, down the hallway that was leading them through to a large living room with two fireplaces and a balcony out to the backyard.
"You won the competition? You got the eternal glory? The galleons? What did you do with that much money?" Jonathan asked with a slack jaw. "What were the challenges? How did you defeat them? McLaggen swears he heard Flitwick say there could have been dragons!"
Harry resisted the urge to roll his eyes at the mention of the daft Gryffindor who had hit Harry with a bludger in his sixth year. He opened his mouth to answer, but Lily beat him to saying anything.
"What year were you in Harry... when you joined the competition?" she asked behind him. Harry felt her eyes on him from behind, but didn't turn around. Something...off was in her voice. She was holding something back, and it set Harry on edge.
"My fourth year Mrs. Potter," Harry answered truthfully. "And I didn't really have a choice," he mumbled under his breath, only heard by Jonathan who turned to give him a weird look.
"Your fourth year?" Lily echoed. "Surely, there was an age limit for such a competition," she said, making the statement sound more like a question. "The history of the games should have disbanded the Goblet of Fire from the beginning by itself. To play it again, and in the times of you-know-who's war with such a young student should have been forbidden."
"It's a magical contract Mrs. Potter, no one had a choice."
"But a fourth year?"
Harry didn't like where this conversation was going, and with each question, he began to get more and more uncomfortable. What could he say? What would be too much? Should he say anything? Did they need to know?
Harry ran a hand through his hair again and sighed. "Mrs. Potter, it's a long story and not one I intended to share…" Harry let his sentence drop and his teeth clenched together. "Ever."
The Potter family and Harry stepped through the living room into a large kitchen with a small side door that looked the size for a house elf. James stopped and turned around, picking up a small butter knife in the process. He turned and faced Harry dead on. "It's alright Harry. You don't have to say anything you don't want to. I know you must be..." James trailed off, unsure how to proceed and Harry didn't step forwards to help him. James looked down at Harry and sighed. "...disoriented."
Harry narrowed his eyes. "That's a word for it," Harry agreed lightly, though he didn't look away from James.
James turned away first, and pulled out his wand. "We'll be traveling by portkey to Headquarters."
"Alright," Harry answered tightly. He just wanted this to get on with.
"Ready?" James asked, looking around first to Lily, then Jonathan and Harry. Harry nodded, and James muttered a spell under his breath at the butter knife. The knife glowed blue, and James held out the butter knife to everyone around the table. "On three," James said. "One." Harry reached out and touched the tip of the knife. Jonathan followed his lead and touched the blunted edge. "Two." Lily reached out afterwards and locked eyes with her husband. Harry watched them silently communicate and wondered from the back of his mind if they were practicing legilimency. "Three."
The world spun around Harry, his chest compressed inwards, and his stomach rolled. Harry felt as though he were in the center of a spinning wheel traveling much too fast that was slowly compressing him into a rubber tube. Harry closed his eyes against the swirling colors and waited for it to stop. The spinning lasted for a second longer before Harry was released to an unmoving floor and strong walls. Harry leaned against the first solid piece of house he could find and Jonathan clasped a hand at his shoulder like he was trying to be a comfort. "Not used to travel by portkey?" he asked.
"I prefer broomstick if I had the choice," Harry said honestly, trying to remember how to breathe.
Jonathan laughed. "You're like my dad. Love to live his life on the back of a Nimbus. Never liked portkeys either." Jonathan squeezed his shoulder and walked ahead of him down a familiar hallway. Jonathan glanced back at him. "Think you can remember how to get around?"
Harry stood up and gave him a dry look. "I'll manage."
Jonathan grinned and shot him a sickly sweet pout. "Don't need me to hold your hand or anything Harry?"
"Piss off," Harry said back with a grin, standing up straight and walking ahead of Jonathan. "Where's the meeting held at?" Harry asked.
"Where was yours?" Jonathan said walking in step with him.
"Dining room," Harry answered automatically. He looked at Jonathan and raised an eyebrow.
"Same. Biggest place without screaming portraits," he shrugged.
Harry almost laughed. When Grimmauld Place had been burnt to the ground, the annoying 'art' had been burnt as well, so he didn't have to worry about waking up to Mrs. Black causing him morning headaches. It was one of the rare times he was grateful the Death Eaters had been there. Harry quirked a side smile. "I can imagine."
"You don't have to worry about that don't you?" Jonathan guessed.
Harry shrugged his shoulders and made his way farther into the house. He heard James and Lily following behind him, and he suddenly realized that they had heard Jonathan and him taking. Harry clenched his jaw and squashed down a bloom of smug happiness that rose unchecked in the middle of his chest. Not okay Potter. Knock it off.
Harry kept walking but stopped himself in front of the suddenly present closed dining room door. The Order was behind the door, and behind that, were faces lost to his world. Sirius. Remus maybe? Mad-Eye? Snape? Harry froze and didn't think he could move to open the door. He wanted to open the door. Oh Merlin, he wanted to see Sirius and Remus. But at the same time, he really really didn't want to. They didn't know. Didn't share the same experience with him that he had had with their memories. They had never met him. Didn't know him. He was just a memory lost to them. A shadow of the boy that could have been in their world.
Harry could hear faint voices through the door, but none that he could distinguish between. He put his hand on the door knob, trying to force his body to just keep going, but his fingers wouldn't move for him. He couldn't open the damn door.
"Harry?" Lily asked behind him.
Of course they were standing behind him and watching. Of course.
Harry didn't let go of the door, but he looked behind him over his shoulder. "Sorry," he whispered. Lily looked confused for a moment, before her lips parted in understanding and she looked across to James beside her with sad knowing etched in the wrinkles of her eyes. "I just need to…"Harry let himself trail off, unable to really say anything else. Until what? He was okay? This wasn't okay, and he wouldn't be. Not with reliving this. These people were dead to him.
"Take your time Harry. Do what you need to," James said lowly, nodding to the door.
"I hadn't even thought about…" Lily said softly, trailing off to her own inner thoughts.
A vein in James's cheek ticked. "No one did Lils, it's not your fault."
Lily looked at the hand Harry had wrapped around the door handle with white knuckles. She shook her head, like pity, lost to her own musings. "You shouldn't have to. You were supposed to be someone else… "
Harry looked up sharply.
Someone else couldn't do it. Harry had. Harry had lived every damned year at Hogwarts doing what others couldn't. He had been the one who got that bloody sorcerer's stone. He had fought the damn snake that had come out of the Chamber of Secrets. He had killed it. He had fought off dementors, gone through the Goblet of Fire, lived through Voldemort every year's encounter, watched his family die, friends get hurt, and he had been the one who had died to bring down one of the worst Dark Lords the world had ever seen. Harry. Him. He wasn't a child to be pitied, he was a man who had outlived a Dark Lord, and dammit he wasn't about to let himself be labeled as someone to be brushed aside because of his feelings.
Whatever had paralyzed his hand from moving released him as hot anger rushed through his blood and across his face. "Sorry for that then," he said darkly before he opened the door and looked away from Lily. He watched her face fall before he could turn his gaze completely away, and a small part in the pit of his stomach turned in guilt.
He ignored it and walked through the door into the dining room.
Conversation stopped. Heads turned and Harry gazed over every head in the room, but didn't keep his gaze focused on one person for too long. He kept his eyes moving, taking in every face, and burying his feelings from showing on his face. "Afternoon," Harry said softly, looking over Mrs. Weasley, Fleur, Luna, Fred and George. They all nodded back, but Harry could only stare for a moment longer at both of the red haired twins. Both of them. They were sitting close together from their heads previously bent together over a scrap of paper, muttering under their breaths like they were keeping a secret only they could manage. Harry kept his face blank as he passed them, but he didn't think he could up and speak if someone had asked him to at that moment.
Behind him, Harry heard James talking quietly, "Sirius back yet?"
"Not due back till after five," a deep voice answered. Kingsley?
Someone stood up from the left side of the room, and Harry immediately followed the movement, his eyes finding periwinkle blue staring at him through half-moon spectacles.
"Dumbledore," Harry breathed out. Why was he surprised?
The older wizard smiled softly at Harry. "You know me from your world my boy?"
Harry watched the man smile from the corners of his mouth. Something he'd seen so many times before, but hadn't realized he'd missed it until just then. Good Merlin, Dumbledore was standing right in front of him. Still alive. "Honestly Headmaster, I doubt there are very few people who don't know your name from either world."
Jonathan laughed from behind Harry and slung a friendly arm across his shoulders like they had known each other for years. "His humors a little dry, but you get used to him."
"Yes because we know each other so well," Harry snarked.
"See. He agrees."
"You are definitely a Potter." Harry shrugged the arm off and stepped away.
Fred and George Weasley laughed from across the room and another pair of men closer to Dumbledore hid scoffs behind broken coughs. Harry turned to them, and surprisingly, recognized them. Fabian and Gideon Prewett. With matching red hair, identical grins and wrinkled faces, Harry was surprised to not have noticed them sooner. They wore different clothes, but they held themselves in the same way matching brothers would. It was uncanny, how much they shared likeness to Fred and George.
Mrs. Weasley must be happy. Harry nodded to them without thinking. "Mr. Prewetts," he said.
The laughing stopped. Gazed turned from warm to suspicious in the next moment and Harry really felt as though he needed to be hit over the head. With something large. "You know us?" one of the twins asked. And heavy.
An uncomfortable silence followed his question and Harry stood rooted to the spot. Did he lie? Admit the truth? Harry turned and decided just to ignore the problem. He spoke to Dumbledore. "The Potters told me the Order needed to speak with me. I'm here."
Dumbledore gazed at him over his glasses like Harry was a puzzling book in another language. "Yes, I dare say you are," the aging wizard said softly, staring unabashed. It was quiet for a moment, before he straightened suddenly like he had come to a decision. Inside, Harry cringed. Dumbledore had had a habit of doing that, and when he did, the grandfatherly aura disappeared and instead a strong sort of determination seemed to ooze from him. And it was currently, all aimed at Harry.
"Professor?" Harry asked.
"Yes my boy?" Dumbledore said stepping closer.
"Can we start…"Harry watched Dumbledore walk closer and closer to Harry. His eyes didn't waver and his robes barely moved as he walked, giving Dumbledore the strange effect of seemingly to walk on air. Harry rotated his jaw backwards. To others, Dumbledore might have looked serene, but to Harry, seeing that glint in his eye, and the sure way that he walked with his wand, caused Harry to unconsciously lean backwards. It made the old wizard look powerful. Dangerous even. "Stop staring at me."
Harry hadn't realized he'd spoken until he saw Dumbledore pause midstep. "I'm sorry?" Blue eyes focused like a laser towards him.
Confusion and embarrassment heated his face. What an overreaction. Harry opened his mouth to apologize, but then felt a brush against his mental shields. He jolted upright in surprise. Had the Headmaster just…
The warm feelings of seeing his old Headmaster disappeared, and Harry got angry. Really angry. "Do not get into my head Albus," Harry hissed low, his eyes narrowing dangerously. "I have been kind so far since I discovered I had been kidnapped from my home. I have listened patiently to the Potters explain why I'm here, I have stayed friendly, and I have not let my impatience at this ordeal get the best of my temper," Harry started, feeling a warm tingling rise at the base of his hand.
"I have been a very patient man Albus, but do not mistake my friendliness for ignorance. Do not think that I will sit in the dark of information that is needed for me to return to a home I was stolen from." Harry felt cold magic rise to the top of his skin as his anger grew. Wand or not, his anger was curling from the hurt imbedded in his bones. With every person he'd lost, every spot of blood he'd seen, every pair of glazed over eyes he'd closed, it could have been stopped so much sooner if he had been trusted with the important information from the start. The hurt, confusion, anger and regret washed together like paint to create a black wall of anger that was fueling his magic. "Do not mistake me for a pawn in your game Albus. Do not think manipulation or mind reading games will save you from the Dark Lords will only become a rope of security that you will hang yourself with. And do NOT mistake me for the boy in years you see in your sight."
Harry's voice boomed, and Albus's beard was brushed backwards at Harry's release of magic in every word. Harry kept his eyes locked on Albus, but the wizard's robes flew around him like a fan was set in front of him in a Loreal commercial. The wind pushed Harry's hair in front of his eyes for a split second, distracting him, and he lifted his eyes from the Professor's no-longer-twinkling blue to the room around him.
Wands were pointed at him from all sides. Face's blurred together, and all he saw were Fred and George smashed together on the ground under their mother who was covering them with her arms away from Harry. Away from Harry. Like he was the threat—the danger. Harry looked down at himself and felt his lips part in surprise. His feet weren't touching the ground. Harry was floating.
His surprise dropped him back to the ground and he landed unstably on his feet. He held out his arms to balance him and the wands of the wizards around him followed. "Albus?" Professor McGonagall asked to the right of Dumbledore, her wand up to Harry.
"I'm quite all right Minerva. Just a little taken back is all," Dumbledore said, brushing his beard back over his chest. "A slight miscalculation really," he said, looking up to Harry, who was watching him closely.
Dumbledore hadn't raised his wand. He hadn't tried to protect himself. Knowing what Harry was saying, threatening, he hadn't even raised a hand back. Guilt slunk down Harry's back and wriggled around in his chest like a dead weight. Accidental magic didn't happen unless strong emotions were involved, and that was usually for children with magic untrained. Harry was not an untrained wizard. "I'm sorry," Harry blurted out, looking to Dumbledore. "I don't know where that came from, I just… I've had a long day."
The anger surprised him; Harry didn't know where it had come from. Maybe left over from the war, all of the funerals he'd been to recently, the stress of leading the Wizarding World into a new Era, the change… Harry sighed deeply. "I do apologize for my actions against you Professor. I am… disoriented," Harry said, borrowing back James's word.
Dumbledore did not come closer to Harry but instead nodded to Minerva in a silent order. Professor McGonagall nodded in understanding and lowered her wand, but did not put it away. The other wands followed her direction and were put lowered or tucked back into different colored robes. Harry doubted they were far from itching fingers though.
"I believe it is I who should apologize Mr…" Dumbledore said, still standing away from Harry.
"Harry," Harry answered. "Just Harry."
"You've no surname boy?" A rough, gnarled voice asked from Harry's right.
Harry glanced over to the speaker and fought to keep a smile from his face. Mad-Eye Moody looked exactly the same from the last time Harry had seen him. Maybe a few more scars across his face, but the patchwork looked the same. His magical blue eye whirled around in its socket every couple of seconds, but Moody's normal one blue one strained at Harry's face darkly.
So his temper tantrum hadn't gone unchecked in his eyes then. Another point lost to him.
"I do," Harry said slowly.
"Is it a secret you can't share with the class?" Moody asked, narrowing his one good eye at him.
Harry opened his mouth, and then abruptly shut it. Well that was the question, wasn't it? "I… I think it best if no one knows my last name just yet Mad-Eye."
If Moody was surprised to have Harry recognize him, he didn't show it on his face. He only leaned forwards on his staff and sneered. "Oh, and why's that?"
"I'm treating this like a wizard would if they were to go back in time. I don't know what has happened in your world, what you know, or what you've done to get where you are now. If I give information that you're not ready for, I doubt you'd like the end result," Harry answered calmly.
"That's not for you to decide boy. You're only here to give us information! No matter the bloody cost of what you think!" Moody yelled.
"Mad-Eye whatever horrors you think you've seen in this war, I can assure you, if given the right opportunity, could grow far worse than you can even dream."
"And you've experience in this?" someone else familiar asked. A soft voice, worn and wearied, but comforting. Harry followed the voice, and turned his head to look at a graying, aging, middle aged man with tattered clothes and old eyes. Remus.
"Experience? No, thankfully. I had a friend stop me before I did anything stupid," Harry said, staring. Harry looked down at Remus's hand and saw no wedding ring. So he wasn't married to Tonks then. Or had had Teddy.
Remus stared back at Harry and frowned in thought. "Are you ... well?"
Harry blinked away from Remus and nodded. "Yea, sorry. It's uh, been a long a while since I've seen y—well you're counterpart."
Remus blinked and bowed his head. "I see. How long ago did I die in your world?"
"Four months," Harry answered quietly.
"You can answer that, but you can't tell us your last name!" Moody barked angrily.
"That's completely different," Harry said, turning away from Remus, who was now staring openly at Harry.
"Like Death Eaters bloody left testi—"
"Alastor," Dumbledore interrupted quietly, cutting Moody off. "I do think Harry only has our best wishes in mind. He does not seem the type to…" Dumbledore looked to Harry. "…scare easily."
Harry sighed. "Why don't we just start from the beginning. You tell me your story, and I'll—"
"What? Lie to us and make yourself a cover to hide under?" Moody asked hatefully.
"No, but I'll consider telling you all of my story."
"That's not good enough!"
"That's all I can give you."
Moody turned to the wizards surrounding him. "We haven't tested him. He won't tell us his name and he admits to hiding secrets. He can't be trusted!"
"Alastor that does not—"Dumbledore tried.
"Your eyes deceive you Albus, this is no ordinary boy! I can see him!" Moody yelled, slamming his staff to the ground. Red sparks erupted from the end of his staff and Harry nearly jumped from his skin. Merlin he'd forgotten how loud that man's voice could get.
"What do you mean, you 'see him'?" James asked, glancing at Harry.
Moody pointed at his magical eye. "This doesn't miss much. Not much at all. It's kept me alive through dark wizards and idiots alike at my neck and it knows when it see's something bad. Something dark."
Harry frowned. "I am no Dark Wizard Mad-Eye."
Moody turned to him, and his magical eye stayed strained on Harry. The back of Harry's neck shivered uncomfortably. "A part of you is."
Harry's frown deepened and annoyance cut through his voice. "What do you mean 'a part of me'—" Harry stopped his sentence and stared at Mad-Eye is coming horror. What Moody had meant, what he said, it couldn't be right. Be real. "That's not possible," Harry whispered. "It was killed."
Moody sneered. "Apparently not."
Harry felt the world spin and he backed up ungracefully as the world tilted in front of him. He held out his arms to catch himself, but fell backwards onto, surprisingly, a cushioned chair. His backside hit the back of the seat and he leaned forwards in the chair so his elbow was on his knees and his head was in his hands. The room was silent.
"Harry?" Jonathan asked.
Harry shook his head. He didn't want to talk. He didn't want to negotiate with Moody. He didn't want to have to explain why a part of him, a part he thought had been killed off by Voldemort, was back again and darkening his soul. Dammit he'd just gotten his own unattached soul back! And how the hell was Voldemort's soul attached back onto—
Harry thought back to the sudden flash of pain he'd gotten when he'd 'passed' through to this world. Had that been… Oh Merlin. Harry ran a hand through his hair, making it stand on its end, and looked up tiredly. Several people gasped. Harry looked over confused at the noise. What? What had he missed?
"Oh Albus," Professor McGonagall said, staring wide eyed at Harry.
"That's not possible," Remus breathed out in shock, his eyes fixed on Harry.
Harry turned around behind him to see what they were all staring at, only to come face to face with the back of the chair he was sitting in. What were they all looking at? Harry turned back to the mob of witches and wizards before him confused. He glanced around, and found the older generation staring at him in shock while the younger generation took turns staring at their parents before staring at him in confusion. "What?" Harry asked them all, looking at them all. What had gotten into them?
Moody moved forwards from the group and coughed lowly. "Your surname boy," Moody said quietly, if not gently, "was it Potter?"
Chapter 4: The Road So Far Here
Dozens of eyes trained on Harry as Moody's question hung in the air. Your surname boy, was it Potter? Harry's throat closed and he leaned back in his chair, linking his fingers together in front of him. Oh Merlin. Did he tell them the truth?
Moody stared at Harry avidly, and Harry looked back unblinking. No, lying wouldn't be wise. Not here, and not now. But could he tell them everything? Was this Voldemort even like the Voldemort from Harry's world? Both of Moody's eyes didn't move away from Harry's face, and Harry sighed out tiredly. Well, this was going to be a story to tell when he got back. "It is. My name is Harry James Potter," Harry lowered his head in a nod.
Jonathan's mouth opened and he leaned back on his heels in surprise, before he turned to his parents to look for confirmation. James and Lily Potter stood together, hands tight in the other's palm, standing like statues in the room of quiet amazement. Harry peered at James across the room, breathing slowly. James stared back, his head drooped low, and his eyes roaming over Harry's face wildly like he was trying to memorize every line in his face. James met Harry's eye and a corner of the man's lips came up.
Heat simmered under Harry's chest and his nose itched at the sudden warmth. It was a smile. Half of a smile really, but it wasn't pity, anger, or an apology. It was a smile. Something that said hi, welcome back. Something that meant I don't regret it... And I care. An answering smile automatically twitched at the side of Harry's mouth and the heat spread to the tips of Harry's fingers.
He looked to the red headed woman on James arm, and the small smile fell away. Like a damp cloth over a fire, Harry's insides fizzled out and a pinprick of ice caught him deep in the stomach. She was crying. Green eyes solely focused on him, she heaved in deep breaths that shook her shoulders and released broken tears down her face in used tracks. She looked at him like the world was breaking, like she'd been lied to her entire life and an unthinkable truth had been set before her without warning. She grasped James tighter and a fresh course of tears ran down her cheeks as she took him in front of her.
Harry stared back at her tears and shaking shoulders. Her hands shook in James's and she leaned against him heavily like she couldn't stand her own weight. "I knew it," Lily broke out, her voice loud in the deathly silent room, "I knew you—you—"Lily shook her head, and tears fell from her face onto the floor.
Harry swallowed, his fingers gripping each other tightly. What could he do? This wasn't his mother. Not really. He couldn't comfort her; tell her it was alright, because It wasn't. Not for anyone. She was seeing the child she lost so many years ago, and he was seeing the family he never got to enjoy. Harry opened his mouth to say something, but nothing came to mind that seemed right, so he closed it again and stared as Lily turned her head from him and cried into James's shoulder. Harry looked down, unsure of the silence that followed Lily.
"So your him." Jonathan's voice was barely over a whisper and Harry looked straight up into Jonathan's eyes. Jonathan's wide hazel eyes, so shaped like James's, gazed at Harry like he'd found a favorite book that had been missing for years. His expression was crossed between disbelief, a blind sort of happiness, and growing curiosity. It was so open that it made Harry stare right back just to watch the flicker of emotions slide into place every couple of seconds.
Lily's hiccupped silent sobs echoed to Harry's ears and he looked away from Jonathan back to Lily and James. He swallowed again. "Should I leave?" Harry asked.
James looked up, away from Lily, and shook his head. "She'll be okay, it's just…" he trailed off and looked off to the ground.
Harry nodded. "…a shock." Merlin did he know.
"But maybe…" Dumbledore started, looking at James over his glasses, "…it would be wisest if she left to collect herself."
James clenched like teeth like no that wouldn't be a great idea at all, but he nodded just the same. "Lily?" he asked softly, looking back down at his wife.
Lily shook her head and took a rapid amount of uneven, short breaths. "I'll be fine," she said, talking into James's shoulder. "I'll be fine. I just need… I just needed some time."
"You do not have to stay," Dumbledore said softly.
Lily looked up at him sharply. She opened her mouth like she was going to say something, but James's hand wrapped around her tighter, and her head fell on James's shoulder tiredly. "No Albus, I'll be fine. I'll stay."
"Are you quite sure?"
"Yes." The note of finality rang through the room and it seemed like an invisible starting flag for the rest of the wizards in the room. The tense silence that made the room louder than it was supposed to evaporated as wizards and witches started conversing to each other under their breaths, looking at Harry from underneath eyelashes and at the corners of glancing eyes.
From across the room, Harry watched as Dumbledore swished his robes around him and sat down lightly on a dark colored chair. He looked up, and Harry turned away before the man could make eye contact. Beside Albus, Moody slammed his staff down to the ground like a judge would with a gavel, calling attention to himself, and cutting off the growing voices. "Alright," he said gruffly, starting off. "So we have another Potter among us. This still changes nothing. He's still from a different world than us and so far…" Moody looked Harry down like a teacher would a bad student, "…he likes keeping secrets."
"That secret wasn't for you to know," Harry said tensely, getting angry. It wasn't as if he'd blatantly told them all he was someone else. He hadn't changed his appearance and played as someone else. He hadn't pretended to be ignorant. He hadn't lied to them. He had just cut off the pieces that didn't need saying. Like a bad piece of fruit, Harry mused. I just left out the parts they didn't need to chew on.
"That you're the son of James and Lily Potter? You have a twisted sense of what needs to be told boy, if you think that leaving out you're a child of a light family isn't our business."
"It wouldn't matter if I was from a light or a dark family. I'm still here unarmed and cut off from any resources that would help rectify that," Harry said glowering at Moody. "You want my help? You help me first."
"And get you, what, a wand? So you'll be in an even better spot to kill us all? No, no I don't think so. That's not going to happen, even if you are a Potter," Moody growled darkly.
"Being a Potter has nothing to do with it. You still took me from my home. I'm still sitting here because you all kidnapped me and gave me nothing in return but a promise that I need to talk to the Order to get me back from where I came." Harry stood up, and eyes followed him. Some looked wary, and had their hands back at the tips of their wands, looking for a sign of Harry's explosive anger. Harry ignored them. "You say you want answers to Voldemort?" Various people around the room gasped and stared around wildly at the room as if the Dark Lords presence would walk through the walls at his mention. "I want answers on how to get home. I want to know exactly what you all agreed to when you did this and how to reverse it. I have my own life, my own world, and my own people who are missing me, probably going out of their minds in worry right now because of your actions. And until then, I don't have to do a damn thing, and that includes telling you about who my parents were."
"Were?" Remus asked slowly, coming into Harry's view of vision. Remus looked for the first time, scared of the answer. Like he really didn't want to know.
Harry nodded shortly. "Were."
"Harry," Dumbledore said, pulling the attention back to the powerful wizard. "I believe that we have all started off on the wrong foot. Let us explain—"
"You still kidnapped me. From a different world. Which, might I say, though an impressive feat of magic…"Harry glanced at Lily at this, and she gave him a watery lift of the lips. "…it was highly… inconvenient."
"I know Mr. Potter. And as the leader of the Order I do extend my apologies, but you must understand why we did it."
Harry was silent for a moment. "You don't have to explain. I bet you were just desperate." Seventeen or more years of this war and people were still left standing? They must have been pushing desperate a long time ago.
Dumbledore lowered his head. "Though an accurate assumption, that is not all."
"No?" Harry asked, lifting an eyebrow.
"No. While we have been fighting this war for the Light for quite some time, it has come to my attention that recently, a standing point of power must arise," Albus said.
Harry retraced the words through his head and sighed. Like it or not, Harry already knew he was getting pulled back in to Dumbledore's life of chess. "Why recently?"
"A window of opportunity has been prophesized for the Dark Lord to fa—"
"You pulled me here because of a prophesy?" Harry asked, horrified. Another one? Honestly? Good Merlin, those damn things just kept playing with his life.
"Are you familiar with prophesies then?" Dumbledore asked, looking closely at Harry.
Harry wasn't stupid, he knew that look. Dumbledore had heard Harry's prophesy in Harry's world, and he had no doubt that he had heard the same one here. But what was he going to do? Lie? After everything he'd told Moody? No. No, he would just have to tread carefully. "Unfortunately."
Something in Dumbledore's eyes sparkled to life. "Interesting." Ahhh bloody fuck. He probably just shouldn't have said anything.
Harry breathed back a low sigh, pushing back the urge to just up and leave away from his old Headmasters eyes and turning mind. "What did this prophesy say?"
Dumbledore smiled softly. "It said that in the next year and a half, the light would have the chance to right the balance once more by a man who had already done it in another life."
Harry's mind reeled. Right so it was another prophesy about him. Wonderful. "And of course, you thought it would be a brilliant idea to just go and take what you needed then? Without asking or warning them first?"
"Well, no one expected… well a child," Arthur Weasley said from Harry's right. Harry glanced over to the red haired man and the older wizard raised his hands cautiously. "You have to understand, we thought we were getting the witch or wizard that had defeated the Dark Lord. We didn't purposely intend for the spell to go wrong, and for the consequences to be so…" Arthur looked to James and Lily. "…intense."
Harry wanted to sigh again. This was getting old. "The spell worked. Whatever you did, trust me Mr. Weasley, it worked."
Arthur looked at him strangely. "It couldn't possibly have. The defeater of the Dark Lord in your world would have—"
"Is standing in front of you," Harry deadpanned. "If any of you were from my world, you would know that the downfall of Volde—oh for Merlin's sake, you-know-who , was over four months ago. It had taken place in Hogwarts and that he died at the hand of the 'Boy Who Lived', one of the many very fine titles I've been gifted with since the original fall of you-know-who," Harry said with a blatant undercurrent of bitterness.
Arthur tipped his head at him, and the room exploded into voices all trying to talk to one another.
"Wait," Remus said over all of the voices, causing the swell to lower. "What do you mean, the original fall?"
Harry opened his mouth, and then closed it. "No, you first. I want to know why you sent me here and why it's so bad that you can't handle it yourselves."
"Well it's not like we haven't tried," Fred said from behind his father.
"Because we have," George nodded in agreement.
"Thing is—"said Fred.
"—he won't die," George finished.
Harry nodded. "Yes, that was to be expected."
"What? No it's not, you don't understand—"Fred said, enunciating his words like Harry was slow.
"—he literally, cannot die. Moody's tried—"
"—James has tried—"
"Even Dumbledore has tried for Merlin's sake! The man—" George said.
Harry looked between the two of them amused. "Yes, well, having a horcrux on hand would make him near immortal. Having seven, well… he's not going to go easy that's for sure."
Fred and George looked at each other confused. "What's a horcrux?" Fred asked, looking up at Harry.
George shrugged and looked up to Harry as well. "Never heard of it before."
Harry looked up to Dumbledore, unsure if he should say anything. Dumbledore nodded his head, motioning him forwards, though Harry knew Albus knew what he was talking about. "You first. Tell me what's happened and I'll answer your questions. Well," Harry glanced at Mad-Eye, "most of them anyways."
Dumbledore leaned forwards in his seat, his eyes tuned to Harry's face. "When would you like to start?"
Harry's eyes shot around the room, searching for a familiar greasy black haired man, but didn't see him. Disappointed, Harry looked back at Albus with a heavy heart. Had he turned over completely in this world? Because Lily hadn't died, did Snape belong to the Dark Lord's will? "Let's start with the first prophesy Professor. The one that predicted the downfall of the Dark Lord."
A heavy silence sat around the room after Harry's words and he felt something …off about it all. Dumbledore lowered his head sadly, like he had expected this and Harry sat back down on the seat he'd left. Others around the room returned to their seats from Harry's outburst of accidental magic and traded sympathetic looks with people around them. No, something was very off. "When Sybil had first predicted the death of the Dark Lord, Severus Snape was outside the door, listening in, his mind already wrapped with promises from the Dark Lord," Dumbledore started calmly. "He reported back to his master about what he found out, only half of the prophesy heard, and as suspected, the Dark Lord wished to have the child killed so his rein would never be threatened."
Molly Weasley rested her head against her husband's shoulder lightly and took a deep breath. Harry saw tears at the corners of her eyes and he turned away confused. Was she crying for him? For his death? Were the Potters and the Weasleys close in this world?
"Two children fit the description from the prophesy: Harry Potter born from Lily and James Potter, and Neville Longbottom born from Alice and Frank Longbottom." From beside the Headmaster, Minerva stared at a couple near the back of the room, holding tightly to each other. A round faced woman with short brown hair had her eyes closed in grief, and her husband with dark hair held her close around the middle with his arms completely enwrapping her.
Harry was confused. Were his parents close to the Longbottom family as well? Harry skimmed the faces around him. Where was Neville anyways? He was old enough to come to an— oh. Oh Merlin's beard.
"The Dark Lord ordered for children born near the end of August to be killed. He could not accept the risk of one of the children in the non-magical word becoming a muggle-born and rise against him, so he had muggle and Wizarding children alike killed that year. All over Britain, children's bodies showed up untouched, but dead in the most random of places. There was a mass panic for some time that it was a serial killer that was somehow poisoning the children."
"Is Neville dead here?" Harry asked quietly, unaware that he'd said it out loud. One of his best mates? Dead? Because of Voldemort?
"Did he grow up smart and strong?" Alice's clear voice cut through Harry's thoughts. Harry turned towards her slowly and nodded. He wasn't lying. Neville was no longer the fat child people could pick on. He was taller than Harry with broad shoulders and deep set eyes that he had frequently heard Padma Patil call 'bedroom eyes'.
Harry nodded. "He did. He's also one of the bravest friends I've ever had. The girls flock to him," he said with a small smile for her. The woman choked on a laugh and looked up to her husband, resting her head against him again.
"As you can imagine, it was a hard time for everyone then," Dumbledore said, recapturing Harry's eyes. "Even more so for those who were betrayed." Harry didn't have to look away to see James or Remus's face to know who Dumbledore was talking about. "But the Dark Lord grew paranoid. His thoughts grew more twisted as the bodies of the children he'd demanded dead rose in numbers. He no longer cared for just the children born in August. He wanted them all dead born in that year." Harry's stomach tumbled and an unpleasant chill raced down his back. Voldemort had killed him here, fine, but every other child as well? Not just Neville? There were more? "He called his followers to him and ordered for every child born that year, every child that could attend Hogwarts in eleven years, to be killed and brought before him." Dumbledore looked to the Weasley family sadly. "Many were taken, and too many died before the aurors and the Order could stop him."
"Ron?" Harry asked. "Ron's dead too?" Both Gryffindors were dead here. Were they all? Seamus? Padma? Susan from Hufflepuff? "Hermione Granger?" Harry asked, his voice quiet.
Dumbledore was silent for a moment, taking in Harry's anxious face. "I do not recognize the last name Mr. Potter. And if she was muggle born, then there is a large chance that she was killed before she could attend Hogwarts."
Harry took a deep breath and rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly exhausted. Ron, Hermione, and Neville all gone from this world. Voldemort really was a monster in this place just as much as he had been in his. "And then?" Harry asked. "What has he done since then?"
"He's been building an army," Remus answered for Dumbledore, crossing his arms in front of him and looking around the room. "All the 'dark' creatures the ministry once threw out and shunned to magical boarders turned to help Voldemort. He infiltrated the ministry to the point where the minister is his puppet and the newspapers are his mouth to the public. He's quietly taken over every major city in Britain and has started expanding to the outside world as well."
"The muggles?" Harry asked, suddenly horrified at the mental images assaulting him from his imagination.
"He tried, about five years ago, but was surprised at the technology of what muggles could do when backed into a corner," Arthur answered with a tight smile.
Harry furrowed his eyebrows together confused. Did that mean…? "What about the Statue of Secrecy? Do muggles know of us then?"
Remus and Arthur traded glances. "No. Most of the populace doesn't," James said.
"But," Arthur started slowly, "some could not be shielded from the attempts of the Dark Lord."
"What does that mean?" Harry asked, becoming more confused. The muggles knew, but didn't know? Only some knew? Was there a mass panic? Was magic being prosecuted like people had feared?
"It means," someone new said from the dining room door, walking in and echoing steps against the wooden floor, "that the aurors couldn't find all of the muggles and wipe their minds." Harry turned his head to the new voice and nearly choked when he found himself looking straight at Sirius Black.
Sirius, who looked healthier. Stronger. More grown up, but less haunted then he had been when he'd gotten out of Azkaban. His face wasn't as thin, his hair looked thicker and there was a tan glow about his face that suggested he'd been outside more than inside recently. He looked better than Harry had ever remembered seeing him. "Sirius," Harry breathed out.
Sirius gazed at Harry as he walked farther into the room, coming to a stop besides James and Remus. "Harry," he nodded slowly in greeting. He reached out his hand as if to shake it, but then put it behind his back and looked to Remus. "Remus sent me a message about your… trip. It's nice to finally meet you."
Something like a snitch seemed to be lodged in Harry's throat and he had to swallow a couple of times before he could return an answer. "And you Mr. Black."
Sirius pretended a flinch. "Just Sirius please. Mr. Black was my father."
Harry nodded. "Sirius then."
Sirius grinned and looked around the Order. "So where were we?"
"We've been explaining to Mr. Potter the history of our world compared to his," Dumbledore explained. "We were just explaining the ministry's involvement."
"So you told him how they've been sitting on their arse and done nothing then?" Sirius asked.
James smiled. "That and about the witch hunters."
"Witch hunters?" Harry asked. That wasn't something his world had. No, if the ministry had even the slightest suspicion that a muggle had gotten wind of the magical world, they would have been obliviated faster than most could get a muggle investigation. It wasn't right, but after the fall of Voldemort, no one wanted to deal with the possibility of another war. Even a muggle one.
Remus nodded. "Like Sirius said, the aurors couldn't obliviate all of the muggles Voldemort attacked. There were just too many. Some muggles got angry and scared. Not the best two emotions to mix together, and started a sort of …gang."
"A witch hunting gang?" Harry asked, mixed feelings sorting through him. "Do they hunt all witches and wizards?"
"Any they can get their hands on. Light or Dark side doesn't seem to matter to them," Sirius said.
Harry breathed out. Well, that didn't help them. But then again, it didn't help Voldemort either. "That's… different. That didn't happen in my world. Not at all."
"It's been that way for some years. Only until recently did the muggles get more aggressive," Gideon Prewett said.
Harry looked up at the red haired wizard. "How aggressive?"
Fabian shifted in his seat next to his brother. "Lucius Malfoy's youngest son was murdered two months ago. There was almost an announcement for an all-out war."
Yes well, Lucius would against muggles, especially if he thought something lesser than him had managed to kill his own blood. But youngest? Was it Draco? Or was it someone from this world that Harry's didn't have? "Youngest son? Lucius has two?" Harry asked.
"Three," Sirius corrected. "Draco, Rogan and Mathew. Mathew's death has sparked more muggle murders than the statue of secrecy knows how to deal with recently."
"Alright," Harry said nodding, keeping up. "So there was no boy-who-lived here, the Dark Lord's still insane, the ministry is shit, an army of dark magical creatures are helping the Dark side, and muggle gangsters hunt who they think are wizards and witches. Is that all?"
Harry looked to Dumbledore for his answers, and the old wizard nodded. "It would seem that you have most of the information regarding our world." He raised an eyebrow at Harry. "Now would you tell us yours?"
Harry glanced around the room, looking over every face before he sighed. "Yea, I guess it'd be for the best at the moment."
"How do we know—" Moody started to say, but Harry cut him off.
"Dumbledore has a pensive doesn't he? If you don't believe my words, you can believe my memories," he growled out.
Moody blinked like he was surprised. "That'll work."
"I have no doubt," Harry deadpanned. He turned to Albus. "Professor would it be alright if we brought it here from your office? I'm sure we can …enlarge it for the rest of the Order to watch."
Dumbledore looked over his glasses at Harry and smiled in his grandfatherly way. "Do you believe it would be faster than explaining it all here?"
Harry nodded. "That, and no one would have reason to doubt me." Harry didn't look at Moody, but he could feel the man's magical eye on the side of his face.
"Of course," he nodded. "Sirius, if you would…"
Sirius stood up at his name and pulled Remus along with him easily. "We'll be back in a minute," he winked at Jonathan. "Feel free to keep the time."
Sirius backed up against Remus dramatically and clutched at his heart. "You wound me."
"Harry agrees with me," Jonathan deadpanned, looking unimpressed.
Sirius looked at Harry and smiled. "Does he?"
Harry put his hands up in surrender. No way was he getting pulled into whatever was going on between them. "I don't have—"
"Oh yea. Harry's been talking bad about you since you came in," Jonathan grinned wickedly. Harry shot him a dark look. No he hadn't! He wouldn't—
Sirius grinned just as wickedly back. "Oh has he now? Right, well I'll just have to get you both sorted when I come back then."
"Like to see you try. I bet Harry and I could take you."
"In your dreams Pup."
"Not even in my nightmares would you have the grace to be," Jonathan quipped back. Harry watched silently as they traded back words and Harry almost smiled. They weren't being serious, they'd just been pulling his leg, trying to make him feel included. Jonathan swung an arm around Harry's shoulders. "We'll just see about that," he told Sirius, ending whatever argument they'd been on.
Remus rolled his eyes and tugged at Sirius's sleeve. "I'm sure. Come on."
Sirius smiled and followed the werewolf through to the fireplace, before they disappeared in green flames.
Jonathan released Harry's shoulders and turned to look at him closely. "You know, I'm actually looking forwards to seeing what happened in your world."
Harry looked away and out back towards the fireplaces. "Don't be." Because he wasn't. What was he going to show them? The adventures Ron, Hermione and him had had? The thousands of school rules they'd broken? The things he'd one that he wasn't so proud of? His time with the Dursleys?
Harry gritted his teeth and stared at the fire place stonily. No, he wasn't going to enjoy this at all.
The fireplace at the far side of the dining room roared to life and out of the green flames, Remus and Sirius stood together with a stone basin between them. A pensive. "How long?" Sirius asked, walking in step with Remus out of the fireplace and towards Dumbledore.
"Fifty four seconds," Jonathan said defeated. "Six more seconds and you would have owned me and Harry a new broomstick."
"I don't remember that being a part of the deal actually," Sirius grunted as he carefully placed the pensive down. He looked back at Jonathan. "I do remember you saying you'd clean the library if you lost though. That memories pretty clear."
"No idea what you're talking about. Do you Harry?"
Harry remained silent. He didn't know exactly how to maneuver through a conversation like this. It was like trying to remain unpranked in front of joke shop with Fred and George just looking for a victim.
"Oh, don't remember do you? Wanna take a look then?" Sirius said nodding sideways at the pensive. "To jog your memory?"
"Sirius," James said exasperated.
"Enough!" Moody slammed his staff down on the ground, sparking magical flares into the air. "We've got the pensive, let's start doing what we came here to do!"
Dumbledore glanced airily at Mad-Eye, and the auror grimaced back at him, before turning to Harry and gesturing him forwards. "If you would be so kind Harry."
Harry stepped forwards. He looked down at the stone pensive, and memories he'd thought best not to look back on rose in front of his eyes. His vision seemed to glaze over, and he could practically see the ghost shaped movements of a video playing through the bad parts of his life. So much death…
"Harry?" Dumbledore voice asked.
Harry shook himself and looked up to Dumbledore. "Sorry what?"
Albus looked him over the tops of his glasses closely. "I'd only asked my boy if you would start with when you got your letter. It would seem best to start from the very beginning."
The letter. His first Hogwarts letter. At the Dursleys. "I… I don't know how to start it, or how to get the memories. I've seen others do it, but I've never myself."
"Ah," Dumbledore said raising his hands and pushing back his sleeves. "Simply, think of what you want to show, and let your wand grasp the edges of your mind."
"It's a year's worth of memories Sir; I don't think you'd want to look at all of it."
"Focus on what you think is most important. I dare say that it will be something you'll have to get used to if you wish to show us all of your years at Hogwarts."
Harry nodded halfheartedly. Like it was going to be that simple. "Right."
"Do try Mr. Potter, no one will fault you if it takes more time than it usually would to look through a year of memories. We will all keep in mind that this is your first time dealing with a pensive and its magic."
Harry nodded again and reached into the back of his robes for his wand. He came to an empty pocket and frowning, looked to his other pocket. Gone too. Remembering his fall before he'd been picked up, Harry looked up at Dumbledore sheepishly. "Sir, I don't have my wand with me."
Dumbledore smiled and reached into his own robes. "No matter Mr. Potter, I do believe you can use mine." Coming back out, Dumbledore pulled out a wand Harry recognized immediately. The Elder Wand. People around the room gasped and were suddenly speaking up in protest. Moody was especially loud in voicing his opinion that Harry was going to kill them all as soon as he'd laid a finger on his wand, but Dumbledore paid them no mind. He watched Harry pull the wand from his fingertips carefully and grasp the worn wood with trepidation. There were no sparks like there had been last time, but it warmed in his hands none the same, like it was welcoming an old friend. "You know of this wand then?" he asked, his blue eyes swift and piercing.
Harry didn't look away from him. "And it's history."
Albus looked away. "Yes, such a bloody one for such a small thing."
"Not so small when you're the most powerful wizard in the world."
Albus looked back and pulled a small smile. "The nature of one's power decides entirely on the opinion of the users around him I'm afraid."
Harry didn't know what to say to that. The room had gone silent again. Harry looked down at the wand silently and then rose the tip of it to the side of his head. First year… Images danced in front of Harry's eyes faster than he could see, and he pulled himself away, ending the images of him at his younger self getting in the Dursleys car. Harry pulled the wand back from his head and a thin stream of bright blue string floated along with it.
"Now place it directly into the pensive," Dumbledore said.
Harry followed his instructions and lowered the tip of the wand into bottom of the liquid filled basin. Harry passed back Dumbledore's wand to its owner and stepped back from the basin. Dumbledore lifted his wand in the air high over his head and brought it down swiftly like he was using a whip instead of a wand. His mouth did not open, but the stone basin glowed blue at the touch of his wand, and like a piece of gum stretched out, the basin began to grow sideways too. It kept growing, until Harry was sure the basin would just break in half. Suddenly it came to a stop, and Dumbledore raised his wand again. "Confringes!" he said loudly, and the basin broke into pieces.
Harry stepped back in surprise, but watched wide eyed as Dumbledore flicked his wand upwards and brought the broken pieces of the basin above his head. Squinting, Harry saw the bits and pieces of stone grow into individual rounded edges, like a cup. Dumbledore's wand flicked again and the cup shaped fragments moved around the room, landing in front of every order member.
"Now Harry," Dumbledore said, leaning over a small cup sized portion of the basin. "If you would be so kind as to go first."
Harry looked down at the rounded pensive in front of him, still attached to the neck and bottom of the basin. "Me Sir? Why would you want me to go through it, I've already lived it."
Dumbledore looked up from his miniature pensive. "Each pensive in front of every order member will see the same thing that you do so in yours, it would be wise to look in and rewatch your occurrences for later questioning I'm afraid."
Harry looked away from Dumbledore and sighed. Right. "Okay," Harry said. He looked up and found himself staring at Jonathan. "You ready?" he asked.
"More than ready. Are you?" Jonathan asked raising a suspicious eyebrow.
"Well I don't really have a choice, so I?" Jonathan looked down and shrugged weakly. Harry looked back down at the pensive. "Alright. Here we go." Harry took another deep breath and lowered his face into the liquid below. Lights twisted in faded colors around him, and shadows lengthened like an old movie that played on the tellies.
Harry landed on his feet in the middle of the Dursley's pristine living room. People of the order arrived around him in their transparent forms, looking around the tidy room with open fascination. "Blimey," Arthur said, staring closer at the rows of unmoving pictures of Dudley. "These are muggle pictures then? And look! A real fire place!"
Lily took one look around the house and blanched. She turned to James and whispered hotly in his ear. James's eyes darted around the room, like he was trying to look for something, before he reared back in surprise. Lilly nodded heavily and James wrapped an arm around her shoulders. Harry turned away from them. "Harry," Arthur asked, coming towards him with a curious glint in his eye. "Did you live here with muggles?" Harry nodded and Arthur gestured around the room wildly. "Then where are your muggle pictures? It's all of the same boy here."
Harry grimaced. Here it would start, all the damn questions. From the room beside the living room, the phone rung and Harry heard the sharp heels of his aunt moving around the kitchen. If Harry could remember, today would have been Dudley's birthday. Oh bloody wonderful. Harry nodded towards the kitchen door at the wizards turning to face him. "Come on then," he said, putting his hands in his robes pockets and walking out first.
He walked out of the living room and straight into the dining room and kitchen, where upon the kitchen table, sat all of Dudley's thirty seven presents. The younger Harry sat at the far side of the table with a plate of eggs in front of him, mostly untouched. "Order, the man at the end of the table is my Uncle Vernon Dursley, the blond child is my cousin Dudley Dursley, and I'm over there at the end," Harry said pointing to each person in question.
"Do you and your cousin and you share the same birthdate?" Fred asked, looking over the pile of presents.
"No, the presents were all Dudley's."
Fred and George exchanged wide eyed looks. "Well, that explains why he's so fat then," George said simply. Harry smirked.
The over weight Dudley was ripping into his gifts, just unveiling a gold wrist watch, when Petunia came walking back into the room from answering the phone. "And that, is my Aunt Petunia."
"You lived with them?" Lily asked faintly, looking at Harry with large eyes. Harry nodded, and looked back to the scene in front of him.
"Bad news, Vernon," Petunia said. "Mrs. Figg's broken her leg. She can't take him." Petunia jerked her head unmistakably in Harry's direction, and the younger Harry's face brightened like he'd just been handed a wrapped gift with his name in neon lights. The present Harry cringed at how expressive his younger self looked. God, he looked like a kicked puppy being invited to a treat.
Dudley's face fell in horror. "Now what?" Petunia asked, looking furiously at Harry.
"We could phone Marge," Vernon suggested.
"Don't be silly Vernon, she hates the boy."
"Bleedin hell," Fred said looking at the present Harry with wide eyes. "Not very nice muggles are they?"
"Did they always act like this?" Bill asked, looking between the muggle adults in the memory.
Harry looked away and sighed behind clenched teeth. He couldn't see a way out of this. Was there a way to skip through parts?
"I suppose we could take him to the zoo," Petunia said slowly, "and leave him in the car…"
"What? Tuney!" Lily yelled in outrage.
Jonathan leaned in towards Harry. "Well, I guess this is why we don't visit much then?" Harry shrugged a shoulder. He had no idea if this worlds Petunia was like his. If she was, Harry was relieved Jonathan had never met the woman, her husband, and their son. They weren't pleasant.
"The car's new. He's not sitting in it alone…" Vernon said trailing off.
"Yes, because that's the worst that could happen," Lily fumed at the oblivious Vernon.
Dudley began to sob loudly, fake, ugly sobs that had his mother instantly beside him. "I… don't… want… him… t-to come! He always sp-spoils everything!"
"Good gracious," Mrs. Weasley said with a grimace. "What a spoilt boy."
The edges of the memory shifted and Harry silently breathed out in relief. Oh thank Merlin, they were leaving. The shadows lengthened around them like a canvas painting dripping down paint that was still wet, and from the darkness Vernon's voice rocked through the silence around them.
"I'm warning you," Vernon's voice said roughly. "I'm warning you now, boy—any funny business, any at all—and you'll be in that cupboard from now to Christmas."
"I'm not going to do anything," Harry heard his younger self say from nowhere earnestly. "Honestly…"
The images shifted.
"What cupboard?" Lily demanded, looking straight at Harry. "Harry, you tell me right now, what cupboard?" Her voice was piercing, and cut like a knife to his already raw nerves.
"I—"Harry was cut off.
Everyone landed in front of a returning Dursley car pulling into the driveway with a purple faced Vernon getting out of the car and rearing around to pull the Younger Harry out of the car by his hair. "Go—cupboard—stay—no meals," he puffed out, too angry to speak. He pushed Harry at the door, and Harry took off inside the house like the devil himself was on his heels.
The image blurred. "What happened?" Jonathan asked, wide eyed at Vernon.
"No meals?" Mr. Weasley echoed, looking to Harry.
"I accidentally set a snake on my cousin and his friend at the zoo," Harry stated flatly. He grinned suddenly at the memory. "I was actually pretty funny until Uncle Vernon figured out it was me."
The Order looked at him strangely, like they couldn't quite believe their ears. "Was Vernon always so… physical?" Remus asked, looking at Harry closely.
"Not always," Harry said truthfully.
"And the cupboard?" Lily asked, her eyes flashing.
"It was where I slept," Harry sighed.
"Where you—you slept?" Sirius asked, leaning backwards. "Your bedroom was in a cupboard?"
Harry waved the question away. "It got better, just watch."
The image changed again. Younger Harry, Dudley, and Vernon were sitting at the breakfast table with Petunia behind them, fixing something on the stove. "Get the mail Dudley," Vernon said, not looking up from his morning paper.
"Make Harry get it," Dudley answered.
"Get the mail, Harry."
"Make Dudley get it."
"Well, looks like you had the Potter stubborn streak," Sirius smiled.
"Poke him with your Smelting stick Dudley," Vernon answered.
Sirius clenched his teeth.
"What a vile man for a father," Mrs. Weasley stated lowly, eyeing the large man.
"It's no wonder the pig acts the way he does," George said. Fred nodded with him.
Younger Harry dodged the stick and ran out to the hallway. A second later, he came back in, passed the mail onto the kitchen table, but kept a yellowish parchment in his hands. His eyes looked glued to the paper, like he was stunned his name was written on the sheet.
"Your letter," Jonathan smiled.
Harry nodded. "The start of some of my best memories," he said faintly fond. He was being truthful; all of his good memories were mostly in Hogwarts. It truly had been his first real home.
"Dad! Dad, Harry's got something!" Dudley shouted, pointing to the younger Harry.
Younger Harry looked up surprised, but before he could reach away, his letter was ripped away from him by Vernon. "It's mine!" he shouted back, trying to get his letter back.
"Good, you tell them," Sirius smirked.
Vernon sneered. "Who'd be writing to you?" He looked down at the letter, and suddenly, his face took on a deep purple hue, like he'd stopped breathing.
"Harry, in this world… I was your Godfather. In your world, why wasn't I the one to come and take you in after your parents… well…"Sirius asked, turning to look at Harry.
"The ministry made a mistake," Harry said deeply, turning from Sirius. "A traitor was clever, and you got thrown into Azkaban without a trial. Remus was said to be an unfit parent because of his monthly problem. They ended up being all that was left." Harry left out the bit about the blood wards, he didn't think he wanted to explain that at the present time. Sirius looked like he'd been punched in the gut and then had ice water dumped over him.
"P-P-Petunia!" Vernon spluttered, his hands shaking with the letter in front of him.
Petunia frowned and took the letter. Her eyes read the front of the yellow parchment, and she choked, looking like she was ready to faint. "Vernon! Oh my goodness—Vernon!"
"Oh don't be so dramatic Tuney, it's only a damn letter," Lily said sadly.
The shadows claimed the images again and the scene changed to a Young Harry lying on the ground at a shady looking shack with wind whistling in from the outside storm. Harry was staring at his cousin's wrist watch avidly like he was counting down. His fingers ticked down at passing numbers and a smile was reaching his face.
"I was counting down to turning eleven," Harry explained to the order crowded around the room.
Three—two—one. Boom. Hagrid came through the door, set the door right, yelled at the Dursley parents who had come down at the noise, and sat himself down for tea besides Harry. Harry watched from the back of the room as the Order watch his memory continued onwards. No one said or commented on anything until Hagrid had started yelling at Vernon at Harry's lack of knowledge at the Wizarding world.
"Good Merlin I forgot how scary Hagrid could be," Bill Weasley said during one of the quiet silences.
"Yea, no kidding," Jonathan said.
"But yeh must know about yer mum and dad," Hagrid said gently. "I mean, they're famous. You're famous."
"Were you?" Jonathan asked, glancing back at Harry.
Harry nodded. "Unfortunately, still am."
"What? My mum and dad—they weren't famous were they?" the younger Harry asked, wide eyed.
"Yeh don't know… Yeh don't know…" Hagrid said running his fingers through his hair nervously. "You don't know what yeh are?"
"You didn't know you were a wizard?" Fabian asked sharply. "They didn't tell you?"
"They didn't approve of magic."
Hagrid and Vernon began yelling at each other, and eventually, Harry was handed his letter by Hagrid himself in front of a roaring fire. Harry heard his younger self ask Petunia about knowing he was a wizard, and watched as Lily seemed to fold in on herself. Her eyes were teary and he clutched at James's sleeve like a life line.
Vaguely, Harry heard Hagrid yelling at Dursely again. "—A scandal! Harry Potter not knowin' his own story when every kid in our world knows his name!"
"You really were a big thing back there," Jonathan said, mildly impressed. He shook his head. "Why though?"
"Just watch," Harry said tiredly.
"But why? What happened?" his younger self asked. Hagrid's anger faded and anxiety replaced his face. Hagrid explained to his younger self who Voldemort was, spoke of his parents as being good witches and wizards, and how he came to Harry's house when he was a baby on Halloween night and killed his parents.
Lilly's face was chalk white. Jonathan looked mildly sick, and James's face was set in stone that didn't look like it'd move for a hundred years.
"An' then—an' this is the real myst'ry of the thing—he tried to kill you too. Wanted ter make a job of it, I suppose, or maybe he just like killin' by then. But he couldn't do it. Never wondered how you got that mark on yer forehead? That was no ordinary cut. That's what yeh get when a powerful, evil curse touched yeh—took care of yer mom an' dad an' yer house, even—but it didn't work on you, and that's why yer famous Harry. No one ever lived after he decided to kill 'em, no one except you, an' he'd killed some o' the best witches an' wizards of the age—the Mc Kinnons, the Bones, the Prewetts—an' you was only a baby, an' you lived."
"The Prewetts?" Mrs. Weasley echoed softly, turning immediately to look at her older brothers. The older twins looked back at their younger sister and nodded, as if to reassure her they were still there. Others in the room turned or glanced from the corners of their eyes at Harry to get a look at his scar. Harry narrowed his eyes and turned away with clenched teeth. Here it started. Bloody scar.
"Took yeh from the ruined house myself, on Dumbledore's orders. Brought yer here to this lot…"
"Load of old tosh!" Vernon yelled in denial. The edges of the memory faded out, and the conversation was lost to the Order and Harry. The room swam again, and unlike before, the flashes in front of Harry came faster, less specific, like someone had a telly remote and was fast forwarding through a movie. Jonathan stood closer to Harry, watching the images stop for a moment and say a few words before they span away again, lost to the faded shadows of his memories.
"Welcome back Mr. Potter. Welcome back." An image of Younger Harry surrounded by an assortment of wizards and witches in the Leaky Cauldron flashed momentarily in front of the Order.
"So proud Mr. Potter, I'm just so proud."
"Always wanted to shake your hand—I'm all a flutter!"
"Well, you certainly were popular now weren't you?" Jonathan smiled behind Harry.
"Annoyingly so," Harry agreed without a thought. "Sometimes not always for the best."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Harry suppressed a sigh. "You'll see."
Jonathan gave him an odd look. "Right."
The scene changed. The Order and Harry landed in a familiar train station, with a younger Harry looking around the muggle station with wide eyes and a small frown. "Eh, got lost Harry?" Fred asked smiling, nodding at Harry's younger self.
"It was my first time, I didn't know where I was supposed to go," Harry rolled his eyes away.
"Where was Hagrid?" Lily asked, frowning at the eleven year old.
"Taking care of … Hogwarts business," Harry said carefully. Lily narrowed her eyes at him. Harry nearly flinched back. Brightest witch of her age. Right. Harry mentally groaned at forgetting. His mother—no, this world's Lily, was one of the smartest people in the room, tricking or lying out right to her would be a mistake. Lily continued to give a sharp eye and Harry turned hurriedly to the scene in front of him instead of facing her. A big mistake.
"—packed with muggles of course—" Younger Harry's head snapped up at the word muggle and zeroed in on a large red haired family.
The image shifted, like the scene was moving faster again. Mrs. Weasley from the memory smiled down at the raven haired child in front of her kindly. "Not to worry," she said with a smile. "All you have to do is walk straight at the barrier between nine and ten. Don't stop and don't be scared you'll crash into it, that's very important. Go on, go now before Ron." She motioned behind her at a tall, gangly red haired boy with big hands and feet and a large nose, who nodded at Younger Harry a bit blankly.
"Oh, Arthur, it's Ronald," Mrs. Weasley said heartbrokenly. She stared at the son she'd never gotten to know with wide, sad eyes, drinking in the tall frame unblinking. Her shoulders shook minutely and her lower lip trembled with the whispered name that rolled off her tongue over and over. "Oh Ron." Arthur clutched his wife's hand with white knuckles. His was swallowing repeatedly, trying to keep back tears, and keeping his eyes set on the red haired child in front of him just as much as his wife.
Fred and George were staring avidly at the younger brother that stood in front of them, tall and skinny from growth spurts. Fleur was holding Bill's hand tightly, and Bill rested his other hand on his father's shoulder with heavy eyes and downcast shoulders. But… Harry stared around the room. Where was Ginny? Had she die—
Mrs. Weasley hiccupped past a twisted sob and Harry breathed out sadly. He was glad Ron wasn't here to see this.
"Ah alright," Younger Harry said, nodding to himself, like he was building up his courage. He turned his cart around and stared down the brick wall a couple meters away with a determined eye. "Okay." Younger Harry pushed his cart forwards slowly at first, but then after a few steps, broke into a run and gladiator charged the wall with his dark hair whipping around his head madly. His cart pushed forwards faster and faster at the wall, but just before Harry could see himself go through the wall, the image shifted and the noise of the muggle station drifted away.
"Aw come on, it was at the good part!" Jonathan's voice broke through the somber atmosphere and Fred broke out into a laugh.
"Yea couldn't have waited to see his face on the other side," he smiled, throwing an arm around his twin brother's shoulder.
Younger Harry was sitting in the scarlet train, staring out the window closest to him, clearly listening in to the conversation of the red haired family not far from him. "—more owl telling me you've—you've blown up a toilet or—"
"Blown up a toilet? Never blown up a toilet."
"Oi! Look, it's me!" George said, pointing and smiling at the other version of himself.
"Forget you, look at the handsomer one!" he exclaimed, pointing to himself. "Wait. Were we wearing those jumpers in our third year?" Fred asked, cocking his head to one side.
"Great idea though. Thanks mum."
"It's not funny. And look after Ron." Molly and Arthur held their hands tightly between them.
"Don't worry, ickle Ronniekins is safe with us."
"Shut up," Ron said, speaking for the first time, and looking over at his older brothers.
The younger Fred smirked before looking back at his mother. "Hey mum, guess what? Guess who we just met on the train?"
The younger George grinned wide. "You know that black haired boy who was near us in the station? Know who he is?"
James's frowned. "There always like that to you?" Harry nodded, silent as he watched his first year's train ride roll out in front him. Merlin, this felt like such a long time ago.
The scene changed again, and Harry smiled at the memory of Young Harry and Ron sitting together in a train car with sweets littered around them, obviously deep in conversation. Harry could see a small, happy smile at the corners of his younger self's mouth and he smiled back at the memory in front of him.
"Help yourself," Younger Harry said, nodding at a chocolate frog in front of him, "But in, you know, the Muggle world, people just stay put in their photos."
Ron looked at him with an open mouth. "Do they? What, they don't move at all?" Ron sounded amazed. "Weird!"
Wizards and Witches watching the memory around Harry smiled softly. It was the smile of adults watching the shine of innocence. Something that made them stand a little taller in their shoes, and grasp a little tighter at their goals in defeating the Dark Lord. The innocence that held them up would bring them closer to the force of will inside themselves in stopping the Darkness. Harry smiled humorlessly at their hope and smiles.
The memory twisted away from them. Replacing it, was a Younger Harry and Ron still in the Hogwarts train car when the compartment door opened and a blonde boy stepped in. The images blurred. "Oh, this is Crabbe, and that's Goyle," the blonde boy said gesturing behind him at the two boys in the hallway. He met Younger Harry's eyes with icy blue. "And I'm Malfoy. Draco Malfoy." The image blurred and Draco was suddenly holding out his hand to Harry. "You'll soon find out some Wizarding families are better than others, Potter. You don't want to go mixing with the wrong sort. I can help you there."
"I think I tell who the wrong sort are for myself thanks."
"That's Draco Malfoy then?" Jonathan asked with a raised brow.
Harry frowned at Jonathan. "Of course, what—you haven't seen him around Hogwarts?"
Jonathan shook his head. "What? The Dragon Prince of the Malfoy name?" he scoffed sarcastically. "No. He wouldn't want to dirty his shoes with the mere presence of us half-bloods and commoners."
"You—"Harry shook his head. "People call him the what?" A choked laugh escaped his throat and he leaned back on his heels. The Dragon Prince. The bleedin Dragon Prince. Oh Merlin, Ron would have loved this.
That memory slipped away and just as quickly another came. A young bushy brown haired witch stood in Ron and Harry's compartment. "And you've got dirt on your nose, did you know?" The witch turned on her heel and walked out. Ron glared after her.
Harry smiled. "Hermione Granger," Harry said to the Order proudly. "The brightest witch of our age."
Harry was pulled away and the Order followed him through another dark second before he landed himself in the warm glow of Hogwarts's Great Hall. The younger Harry was seated in front of a small party of waiting first years before the teachers table with a wide, black hat on top of his head that covered his eyes. Students in the hall whispered behind their hands and glanced at Younger Harry with a mixture of excitement and curiosity. Suddenly, the Sorting Hat's mouth opened up and shouted across the hall, "Gryffindor!"
The hall below him exploded into ear numbing cheers.
"Ha ha!" Sirius said, smiling and nudging James's shoulder with his. "What did I tell you? Course he was going to be a Gryffindor."
"Well what did you think he was going to go? To the snakes?" Jonathan pretended a shudder. "Merlin no."
"Sorting hat actually didn't know where to put me, really," Harry said looking over to Jonathan, James and Sirius. "So I chose Gryffindor."
"You—"Jonathan choked inhaling, and coughed. "—you chose Gryffindor?"
"Better than Slytherin. Didn't want to end up with that blonde git."
"But—no one choses."
"I did. The Sorting Hat said I had a good mind, was faithful, and had bravery. He even said Slytherin would help me to greatness. But," Harry shrugged a shoulder, "Gryffindor sounded better at the time."
"Yea, well, Gryffindor's should better all the time," Jonathan smiled. "Always better than Slytherin anyways."
Harry was quiet for a moment, staring at Jonathan with a furrow between his brows. "Jonathan, not every house is perfect," he said, wondering if this was the best way to start. "Slytherin might not have the best… reputation, but that doesn't mean every snake in its house is bad."
Jonathan grimaced. "Not in your world maybe, but here—"
"They are more alike than you'd want to think," Harry interrupted. "Trust me, I don't particularly have fond feelings for them, but some aren't as rotten to the core as they'd have you believe."
Jonathan shook his head, "Gryffindor—"
"—isn't always filled with the bravest of people," Harry said slowly. He eyed Jonathan. "You have already felt the effects of that in your world with your missing Harry. I felt it in mine with having no family." Jonathan's lips parted, and he glanced quickly at his father and mother next to Sirius. "Just… keep that in mind when you watch these. Not every house member truly lives up to the reputation wizards and witches have set up for the houses that separate Hogwarts."
The memory changed.
Hermione, Neville, Harry and Ron were sitting in the Great Hall for breakfast, listening to Hermione rattle off Quidditch tips from an open book in front of her.
"Ah," James smiled. "First day of flying then."
Suddenly Neville's owl came swooping down and dropped a package off from his grandmother. Neville opened it and held it out for the others to look at. "It's a Remembrall!" he explained. "Gran knows I forget things—this tells you if there's something you've forgotten to do. Look, you hold it tight like this and it turns red –oh..." The ball glowed scarlet in front of him. "…if you've forgotten something…"
Draco Malfoy walked by their table and snatched the ball out of Neville's hands. Harry and Ron jumped to their feet.
"Malfoy's," Jonathan rolled his eyes.
"You're not going to start a fight right there in the middle of the Hall are you?" a female asked to the left of Harry, near Remus. Harry turned and smiled at the pink haired woman raising an eyebrow.
"Course not Tonks," Harry grinned at the sight of her. And she was standing next to Remus. Maybe they weren't married… but…
Tonks's eyes lit up. "You knew me in your world?"
Harry nodded. "We were friends."
The smile slipped from her face. She glanced over at Remus and nodded slowly, coming back to look at Harry. "Were?"
Harry realized his slip of the tongue and rubbed at his neck. "It was a war Tonks. A lot of my friends died." Harry glanced up at her. "Sorry."
She blinked and tried a smile. "Don't be. You're right, though I'm glad that I died doing the right thing there," she said. "Didn't leave behind a special someone did I? Eh?" she winked at him. "Give a girl a hint."
The warm feelings at seeing Tonks vanished. Oh Merlin. He flinched back at her words and left the inside his head reeling. Left behind someone important. Someone—oh Merlin Teddy. It had been his turn to look after Teddy the day he was taken. Teddy was still with his grandmother. Safe, a part of his mind whispered at him, untaken from his world. But still Harry hadn't showed up. The reporters would have… well they would have told everyone he was dead wouldn't they have? And Teddy… only four months old… Harry shook his head and smiled apologetically at Tonks who was staring at him in shock and confusion.
"You just reminded me of something that I… well, it can't be helped now," he said, turning his attention back at the memory.
McGonagall showed up quicker than a flash. "What's going on here?"
"Malfoy's got my Remembrall Professor."
"Just looking Longbottom," Draco drawled before dropping the ball onto the table and walking away with Crabbe and Goyle at his heels.
"Longbot—" Lily gasped, staring at the light haired boy with wide eyes.
Harry glanced at Neville and nodded. Yea, Neville wasn't really all that upset about the ball if Lily was wonderi—oh. Right. Harry suddenly realized, this was the first time they were all seeing him.
"That's my son?" Alice asked, staring at the boy with wide eyes. "That's my baby boy? My Neville?"
Frank stared a little open mouthed at the boy clutching his Remembrall. "My mother took him in then? She took care of our son? She loved him?" He looked to Harry. Harry nodded for the man's sake. Yes, Neville's gran cared for him, Harry guessed, in her own way. She was stern and demanding, but she loved him. She just missed her son. "Oh thank Merlin," he choked out. He wrapped a protective arm around his wife and she leaned against him weakly, keeping her eyes fixed on Neville.
The memory changed. Draco Malfoy was holding Neville's Remembrall in his hand, glaring at Harry with a challenge written in his stance.
"Give it here Malfoy," Younger Harry said quietly. All of the Gryffindors and Slytherins stopped talking to look at Harry and Draco.
"Where was the teacher?" Remus asked.
"Taking Neville to the Hospital Wing. His broomstick went batty and threw him off. He broke his wrist, I think if I remember correctly," Harry answered, watching the younger version of Draco glaring in his memory.
Draco smiled nastily. "I think I'll leave it somewhere for Longbottom to find—how about—up a tree?"
"Give it here," Harry yelled, but Draco jumped onto his broomstick and was up in the air before Harry could finish his sentence.
"Come and get it Potter!"
Harry grabbed a broom.
"Oh bloody hell, you don't even know how to ride a broom, what are you going to do? Throw your wand at him?" Bill asked.
"No!" shouted Hermione. "Madame Hooch told us not to move—you'll get us all into trouble!"
Younger Harry ignored her.
"Harry," Lily said exasperated. James grinned proudly and Sirius laughed, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Nice going Pup," Sirius smirked, not looking over to Harry, but saying it to him all the same. Harry felt a warm caress of pride at Sirius's praise.
Younger Harry kicked himself into the air and rose swiftly into the air, before turning sharply and coming eye level to Draco. Screams and gasps from the girls below echoed in Harry's memory and Ron let out an admiring whoop below him. Malfoy looked stunned.
"You're a natural," James breathed out with a smile. "Did you see Remus, Sirius? Look, my—"
"I saw," Remus smiled.
"I'm looking mate. I see it. Congrats."
"Look, never been flying before and look at his posture! His hands in the correct position at the neck of the—"
"James, love, we can see. I'm sure it'll get even better, just watch," Lily smiled, watching the Younger Harry.
"Give it here," Younger Harry called out, "Or I'll knock you off that broom!"
"Oh yeah?" Draco tried to sneer, looking worried.
Harry leaned forwards on his broom and shot like a javelin at Draco. Draco only just got out of the way in time and Harry sharply turned back around so he was facing Draco again. A few people below were clapping.
"You sure he's never ridden a broom before?" a blonde woman asked with a small smile. Harry recognized her as Marlene McKinnon, a woman who had been murdered by Voldemort in his world.
"You saw where he lived Marlene! No, this is just sheer talent," Sirius said, smiling at her.
"No Crabbe and Goyle to save your neck up here Malfoy!" Younger Harry called.
"Taunting Harry?" Lily said disapprovingly.
"He had Neville's stuff! I wasn't just going to let him get away with that!" Harry defended.
"Yea, man's got to stick up for his friends Lily-flower!" Sirius said proudly. "A true Gryffindor if I've ever seen one, which, might I add, I most definitely have."
James tried smoothed back his unruly hair. "Aw Sirius, didn't know you thought so highly of me."
"HA!" Sirius barked. "You're funny, no I was talking about the gorgeous man I wake up to see every morning in the mirror," he smiled, winking at Marlene who rolled her eyes and stepped closer to her dark haired husband who just look entertained at the whole conversation.
Remus smacked the back of Sirius's head.
Malfoy looked down at the ground and seemed to have come to a decision at Younger Harry's revelation. He looked back up grinning. "Catch it if you can, then!"
"Oh hell," Lily muttered. James and Sirius grinned. Remus looked faintly worried.
Malfoy reached his arm back and released the ball high into the air before streaking back towards the ground. Younger Harry watched the ball glint in the sun, before he pointed his broom at the descending ball and leaned forwards. He pulled his broom downwards and the wind caught his hair, whipping it around his face wildly. Harry reached a hand out at the Remembrall inches from his fingers. The ground was coming closer and closer to him, just moments away from crashing into him.
"You're going to crash!" Lily yelled.
James and Sirius were no longer smiling, and Remus was watching transfixed. Dumbledore watched with no comment, but his eyes were calculating.
A half a meter from the ground he caught it, just in time to pull his broom straight, and he toppled safely into the grass with the Remembrall in his grasp.
"HARRY POTTER!" Professor McGonagall yelled, running towards Harry. "Never in all my times at Hogwarts—how dare you—might have broken your neck!"
The memory faded out.
"Oh no, McGonagall got you. Didn't even get to stay in Hogwarts that long before you were expelled then," Jonathan said, eyeing Minerva standing in with the order.
"But did you see his sixteen meter dive! DID YOU SEE IT, DID YOU?" Sirius said, grasping James's shoulders with both hands and shaking him.
"I SAW IT SIRIUS. I SAW IT," James yelled back just as loud, laughing. Sirius caught his arm around Jonathan's neck and pulled him to his chest. "Oh, you've got competition Jonny. I might have a new favorite."
"Oh the humiliation," Jonathan rolled his eyes, wriggling to get out of Sirius's arms.
"My heart," Sirius said, clutching at his chest and releasing Jonathan. "My cold, and bleeding heart."
"Well he might be your favorite, but Harry likes me best. So, you can go suck on a Vampires—"
"Jonathan!" Lily warned.
Sirius laughed and slapped Harry's back. "Not even on a proper broom in your first year. I've got to see this for myself." Sirius left his hand on Harry's shoulder. "Fly with me later? See who's the better flier?"
Harry nodded, and didn't trust himself to speak, only focused on the very real hand on his shoulder.
Sirius grinned and squeezed lightly before letting go.
The darkness blurred and Ron's face came into view with a slack jaw. "You're joking." Ron dropped his food back onto his dinner plate. "Seeker?" he asked, "but first years never make—you must be the youngest player in about—"
"—a century," Younger Harry said, scooping food into his mouth. "Wood told me."
"James… he's… he got on the team as a first year," Sirius said a little lightly.
James nodded and looked to Remus. "He got it from me." Remus held back a smile and looked away exasperated. Lily smiled at the corner of her mouth.
"Well," Sirius said, clapping his hands together and rubbing them furiously. "I call him."
"What?" James asked, looking affronted. "You can't call—"
"Yes I can. I just did. If you wanted the flying prodigy you should have called him first." James opened his mouth, but Sirius cut him off. "You're just jealous I got him first, you little—"
"—can't call him, he's mine! Literally mine!"
"No he's not, you can't—"
Harry looked up, ice freezing through his body and keeping him still. Had James just… James was staring at Sirius fiercely, and Sirius's mouth was hanging open. Lily was staring at James, her face closed off and frozen. Jonathan looked a t his father with widened eyes and turned to Harry, who was still staring at James. Jonathan glanced between them. He looked Harry up and down like was sizing him up and turned his head to the side. He was quiet for a moment. Then he nodded, like he'd come to a very important decision. "Yep. I agree. It's been seconded."
Harry turned to Jonathan, shocked. He couldn't just vote. This wasn't his family. He wasn't even from this world. He couldn't just…"You can't—"
Jonathan shrugged a shoulder. "Too late. You were born a Potter, I'm a Potter." He gestured to his mother and father behind him. "Dad's a Potter, mum's a Potter. We're all Potters and the Potter family need to stick together. Welcome to the family." Jonathan glanced at his mother who seemed to have frozen in her shocked state before turning back. "But I guess you'll have to meet the girls later then."
"The—the girls?" Harry asked, more confused than he could really put into thoughts. Honestly, had he just been drafted into a family? Voted in and told there he was, that was it?
"Yea, my—well now our younger sisters. Gabby and Nikki, uh… Gabriella and Nicole. They're twins. They're second years. One in Ravenclaw, the other in Hufflepuff actually."
"You have sisters?" Harry asked, surprised. He shouldn't have been, because if his parents had lived then he most likely would have had siblings, but it was strange to him.
"No. We have sisters. They'll love you. Don't worry about it. It's too bad they couldn't come here tonight so you could meet them, but anyone who hasn't graduated Hogwarts isn't allowed in the Order or to its meetings."
Harry frowned and shook his head. "Jonathan, I'm not—I can't just be—"
"Oh, look, another one!" Jonathan said pointedly turning from Harry.
Harry, Jonathan, and the rest of the order landed in a dark room. In front of them stood four frozen eleven years olds, looking up with dropped jaws at a massive three headed dog, staring back at them in shock as if they'd suddenly appeared in front of it. Harry, Ron, Hermione and Neville looked too scared to breathe, let alone move.
"Bloody hell, run!" Fred yelled at the memory. "What are you staring at it for? Move!"
Like the memories younger students could hear Fred, they all jumped as one and moved to a wooden door just to their left as fast as they could. They shoved each other through, sprinted out the door, shutting it firmly behind them, and ran as fast as their feet would allow them back to the Gryffindor common room.
The image blurred, and Ron was talking to Harry, panting loudly. "What do they think they're playing at, keeping that thing locked up in a school?"
"That was in Hogwarts?" Lily asked, looking back to normal.
"You don't use your eyes, any of you, do?" Hermione asked, panting. "Didn't you see what it was standing on?"
"The floor?" Harry suggested. "I wasn't looking at its feet, I was too busy with its heads."
"No not the floor, a trap door. It's obviously hiding something."
The image blurred.
"It's no wonder no one can stand her. 'it's levi-o-saw, not levio-saw'," Ron said walking with Harry and a couple of other students their age back to the Great Hall. Hermione knocked in Harry as they made their way in. Harry was startled when he saw tears on her face.
"I think she heard you," Younger Harry said.
"So?" said Ron, looking a bit uncomfortable. "She must've noticed she's got no friends."
"Ronald," Mrs. Weasley said angrily. "You take that back and give her a proper apology!"
The image blurred again.
Harry sat with Ron on Halloween night at the Great Hall, eating as much as he could. Hermione was nowhere to be seen.
"Oh Ron, chasing off the ladies already?" George smiled lightly.
Professor Quirrell burst through the doors, stopping the cheer and happy eating, and coming to a stop at the teachers table panting and shivering. "Troll—in the dungeon—thought you ought to know." He collapsed into a dead faint.
Lily's face drained of color. "What? A troll? In Hogwarts?"
"What kind of troll?" Fred asked excitedly.
"Trolls aren't smart enough to get in by themselves, how in the name of Merlin…" Bill said, frowning.
The memory blurred and Harry grabbed Ron's shirt to a stop as they followed their classmates. "What?" Ron asked.
"I've just thought—Hermione."
"Oh no," Remus said, already seeing how this was going to play out.
"What?" James asked.
"He's your son James. And a trolls in Hogwarts. Can you guess what's going to happen?" Remus asked. James turned his attention back to the memory with a worried frown at the corners of his mouth.
"What about her?"
"She doesn't know about the troll."
Ron bit his lip. "Oh all right, but Percy better not see us."
"Bloody hell," James murmured.
"Don't worry. He lived through it, see, he's right there," Sirius said, pointing at Harry from the corner of his eye.
"That's not much of a help Padfoot," James said quietly, just barely loud enough for Harry to hear.
No, this story will not be a read-along, this is just for the order to grasp what harry's been through. things will be less detailed in the next chapter, promise.
Chapter 6: Blood Promises
The troll dropped to the floor in a dead faint in front of the Order and the past Harry, Ron and Hermione in the memory.
"Bloody hell," muttered Jonathan with wide eyes at the mountain troll.
"Wicked," Fred and George grinned together.
"Brilliant," Sirius smiled.
"Troll snot," James grimaced at the past Harry who was dislodging his wand from the troll's nose.
Harry watched the memory with a faint smile in the twist of his lips. This had been the beginning really, the troll incident. The beginning of the Golden Trio. The beginning to the best and worst times of his life with his best friends, right there in front of him. He smiled a little wider and the scene disappeared.
"Did you get through any part of the year without getting in trouble?" Lily asked, her voice tinged with smarting exasperation.
Harry breathed out a considering sigh. "Do you want the truth?"
Jonathan laughed and Lily gave James the stink eyes like it was entirely his fault. "Never mind," she said with a faintly amused shake of her head.
The memory shifted and Harry saw himself in his dormitory with Ron, staring astonished at a pile of presents in front of him.
Harry sighed and concentrated on the memory. He wondered if he could just speed them up like a fast forwarding of a muggle movie. To skip over the less important parts, and just get through it all. He really had other things to do, things to discuss… people to… revisit.
He wondered in Ron had a gravesite here. Harry thought about it for a moment. Should he see if Hermione was really dead here too? Was there even a possibility that she was alive here? If she was, where would she have gone if not to Hogwarts? Did she even know she was a witch? How far was this reality split from his?
Harry narrowed his eyes at the memory and willed the memory to skip faster. A straining in the upper part of his head flushed across his face like a hot breeze out of an open oven. The image jumped from Harry opening his first present to him opening his last, the cloak of invisibility.
"Woah the cloak!" Jonathan smiled, nudging Harry with his arm. "You inherited it already? Mum won't let me until I graduate Hogwarts."
"That's the last thing you need Jonathan; another reason to upset your teachers at Hogwarts," Lily said lightly, like they'd had this discussion plenty of times before.
"Aw Lils, the boy needs to grow into it. Look at James, it turned out good for him," Sirius smiled.
Lily didn't look the faintest bit amused. "Yes, I do remember, in case you were wondering. I was there for those growing into moments. There's a reason Jonathan won't be handed over the cloak just yet, and you Sirius Black, are one of them."
Sirius clutched his chest. "Everyone is just so mean today."
"Maybe if you were half the prat you think you are people would be nicer," Jonathan smiled sweetly.
Sirius turned to Jonathan seriously. "James."
James raised an eyebrow. "Yes Sirius?"
"What about him?"
"He's abusive to me, do something about it."
James hid a smirk with a false scowl at Jonathan. "Tisk tisk son, be nice to your uncle."
Jonathan pulled his tongue out at Sirius. "I like my Godfather best."
Sirius shot Remus dirty look. "Never mind. I blame you Remus."
"I'm heartbroken," Remus deadpanned.
The Christmas scene faded away and a younger Harry looked up to a younger Hermione in the library. "Nicolas Flamel the only known maker of the Philosopher's Stone," younger Hermione said, reading out of a thickly bound book.
"The what?" Jonathan said with furrowed brows.
"The Philosopher's Stone," breathed Lily. "You-know-who… did he… the guard dog…"
Harry nodded. "Dumbledore hid it in Hogwarts; Hermione, Ron, and I were interested in it. We were trying to find out everything we could about it here."
"But why? Why was it at Hogwarts?" Lily asked. "In the wrong hands… In you-know-who's hands…"
"Hold on—"Fred said.
"—what's a Philosopher's stone?" George finished. "I mean—"
"—what's so special about it?" Fred asked.
"It produces the Elixir of Life. Makes the drinker immortal," Bill answered, looking over at Lily with dawning eyes. "If the Dark Lord drank from it, and then became immortal…"
"Is that what happened here then?" Jonathan asked. "That's why he can't die?"
"No," Harry shook his head. "The Elixir of Life lets you live longer, that's all. If you're hit with a spell, a particularly nasty disease, the drinker will die. Volde— you-know-who can't die because he has a whole different set of dark magic behind him."
Jonathan nodded. "That's right. You called it a… horx… a horz— what was it called again?"
Harry nodded to the memories. "You'll find out. Just watch."
The library vanished and Harry found his younger self, Ron, and Hermione in front of the three headed dog, who was fast asleep.
"You're—what are you—were you crazy? You went again? Didn't you learn from the first time?" Jonathan asked with wide eyes. "Do you enjoy being a chew toy for the vicious and scary?"
"Don't let Hagrid hear you talking about Fluffy that way. And besides, we played music to him and he went straight to sleep. It wasn't—"
"Its name was Fluffy?" Sirius laughed.
"How did you know it fell asleep at the sound of music?" Lily asked curiously. Suddenly, her eyes narrowed and hardened like she had thought of something truly horrible. "You didn't experiment during the nights a couple of times did you? Get yourself hurt in the process?"
Harry was surprised. "What? No! Hagrid told us. By accident mind you, but we figured it out in the end. "
"And you're there because…" Fred asked, looking at the three particularly large heads of the dogs asleep in front of them.
"We thought Snape was trying to steal the stone."
"What, Snape?" Mad-Eye snapped, looking hardly at Harry. "What do you know about Snape boy?"
"Severus Snape? He was Potions Master at Hogwarts in my world. He was a spy for Dumbledore… is he not here?" Harry asked, his insides suddenly cold.
"He's uh… No, he's not the Potions Master at Hogwarts. Slughorn is." Jonathan said softly. "Severus Snape is you-know-who's right hand man here Harry. He's evil."
Harry looked to Dumbledore. That couldn't be right. Not Snape. No way. He was too invested. Too—Harry thought about his mother, and suddenly, he wasn't so sure. He'd only agreed to help Dumbledore to save his mother in his world. What if Snape and his mother weren't as close in this world? What if he didn't love her here? What if he never had? Would he still be part of the light then?
Harry met his gaze with Dumbledore and the older man stared back at him with expressionless eyes. No twinkling eyes, but no hard stare either. Harry didn't know what to make of it. "Snape's part of the Death Eaters?"
"I'm afraid so," Dumbledore said, sounding stiffly to Harry. Was he … was he lying to him?
Harry narrowed his eyes. "Really?"
"I'm sorry to …inform you of that. Here, he is a murderer and one of the Darkest wizards after you-know-who himself," Bill said lowly, looking out to Harry. He met Harry's eyes and looked confused. "But in your world… he wasn't then? What as he there?"
Harry looked away and glanced at Lily, who was resolutely staring at the ground with a hand fisted in James's shirt. "He… He was one of the bravest men I'd ever met," Harry answered truthfully.
Lily looked up to him, and Harry glanced away quickly. Jonathan looked unbelieving. "You serious? We're talking about the same bloke right? Greasy hair and big nose?"
Harry rotated his jaw in annoyance. "Yes Jonathan. The very same. Now shut it and watch."
Harry turned and crossed his arms over his chest tightly, focusing on the memory playing out in front of him. The Order was silent, and as a whole, they watched the younger Harry and his two friends descend down the trap door beneath Fluffy's large paw.
Harry watched himself almost get strangled by devil's snare, (which Lily thought Hermione was brilliant in) fly through the thousands of keys before getting the right one and flying through the locked door, (which Sirius, James, and Jonathan thought he was amazing in) and Ron get them through the chess board by sacrificing himself. (Which the Weasley were amazed and proud of. Sirius thought Ron was a good friend and approved of. James seemed impressed.) The potions test and the already unconscious troll flew past them, and finally, Harry watched himself face off with Quirrell.
"A professor?" Lily asked astonished.
"He had many followers," Harry said as explanation. Younger Harry stepped towards confused, and then resolutely determined in front of Quirrell. Quirrell spoke of the mirror in front of them, and Dumbledore shook his head sadly.
"Of course, to be tempted with the sights of the Mirror of Erised," he shook his head slowly.
Lily blinked in surprise. "The mirror that shows your heart's desire," she stated knowingly. "What's it doing there?"
"Holding the stone," Harry answered.
"Why's it—"Jonathan asked.
"Best hiding place isn't it? You can only get it if you want it, but not to use it. Clever it was. Never have thought of it," Harry said, leaning against the room's walls easily and glancing at Dumbledore. "Only a genius would've thought of it."
Dumbledore inclined his head. "It was not this worlds me."
"No," Harry agreed, "but you share his mind Professor."
In front of them, Harry watched his younger self and Quirrell talk to each other in front of the Mirror.
"What is it, what do you see?!" Quirrell shouted at the younger him.
"I- I'm shaking hands with Dumbledore. I've won the House Cup," younger Harry said back. Harry almost smiled. Merlin, he really couldn't lie back then.
"You were a shit liar," Fred deadpanned.
"You should've taken lessons from us," George agreed.
Jonathan cocked his head to one side at the younger Harry. "You saw inside the mirror right? So what did you see the first time?"
"My heart's desire," Harry answered tensely.
"Yes yes, but what?"
Harry opened his mouth, then closed it. "Something I'd always wanted."
"The fastest broomstick? Never ending sweets? Dates with the hottest in Hogwarts? Head Boy? What?"
Harry glanced at Jonathan. "My family Jonathan. That was my desire, now drop it."
Jonathan's lips parted and his face fell from his previous amusement, to sadness, then shame. "Harry I didn't—I'd forgotten, I'm—"
Harry held up a hand, cutting him off. "Don't say you're sorry. Just … just don't."
"He lies," an invisible voice hissed horribly from the corners of the room.
"What the actual fuc—" Fred started and Gideon put a hand over his nephew's mouth before sharing a quick glance with his younger sister.
"What was that?" Sirius asked.
Quirrell looked purple in the face. "Tell the truth! What do you see?!"
"Let me speak to him"
"Master, you are not strong enough!"
"You-know-who?" Remus asked, horrified. "But you're eleven!"
"But he was defeated by you when you were a child right? Partially? He'll be weakened?" Sirius asked with dark eyes.
Harry ignored the questions and let the memory play out for them. Harry eyed Dumbledore and Mad-Eye as Quirrell attacked him, trying to strangle him. Order members shouted over each other when the teacher's hands wrapped themselves around younger Harry's skinny throat, but Mad-Eye watched with narrowed eyes and Dumbledore stared with sad eyes, like he was disappointed.
Harry heard the squeals and shouts of shock when Younger Harry started to melt the skin from Quirrell's face, and Harry scanned the room at the horrified faces. Yes, let them see him defeating a grown man, let them know he was not a child to be controlled, to be manipulated here. Let them understand what he'd already done. Harry concentrated on the memory, and whisked them all away as Voldemort's spirit rose from Quirrell's ashes and Younger Harry collapsed to the ground.
He felt a small headache forming, but he pulled through to the next memory, where Dumbledore was sitting in front of him in the infirmary next to his pile of well-wishers sweets.
"You—you almost died," James said, blank faced.
Harry didn't disagree. "Almost."
"Happen to you a lot then?" Jonathan joked lightly.
Harry didn't find a point to lying if he was going to show them his memories. "Every year." He winked at Jonathan. "Get's boring if I don't almost die a couple of times."
Harry let Younger Dumbledore explain what happened to Quirrell and the stone, how he was able to burn him, what his scar was, and were Ron and Hermione were. At the end of the discussion, the Order was quiet and Harry pulled at the end of his memories to come to a close. They didn't need to see anymore, he'd like to keep some bits of his life private thanks.
Harry pulled himself out, and he found himself leaning away from a cup of bluish water filled with his memories. Harry shook his head and blinked a couple of times to chase away the fragments of his memories away from his eyes. Around him, Order members awoke around him, rubbing sore necks and conversing quietly around to one another. Jonathan nudged him with his shoulder. "Hey, you didn't let us see any of the quidditch games!"
Harry smiled a little for his sake. "Maybe later. I'll let you take a look."
Harry didn't know if he could. Should he though? Harry shrugged a shoulder. "Er… yea, promise."
Jonathan grinned. "Brilliant. Maybe you'll give me some pointers then? Help me out a bit? Give Sirius a one up?"
"Oi! I heard that!" Sirius called from besides James.
"I meant for you to you old dog!"
Harry grinned and stood up from the chair he'd been sitting in. He looked around the room and managed to see Dumbledore listening quietly to a whispering McGonagall in his ear. "Right," Harry said, clapping his hands together in front of him. "That was first year. This time, for the rest I mean, I'm going to give you the essentials, and that's it. Sorry I made you go over a couple of the slower parts first year, but this time, I know what I want to show you."
"Ready already my boy?" Albus asked, pulling away from the professor and walking towards Harry.
"Yes Sir," Harry said. "I'd rather just get this done with."
"Scared of what we'll see Harry?" Sirius grinned. "A proper snogging in a broom cupboard then?"
Harry snorted. "You wouldn't be seeing that, believe me. No, I think I've got a better hang at this, so I think I'll just be giving you the memories in more years."
Sirius looked to James and then back again at Harry. "More years? So not just your second then?"
"No, I was thinking maybe my second, and third, and fourth. You'll like it I think. Plenty of running if I remember correctly."
"Running? To what?" Jonathan asked.
"Away from mostly," Harry said.
"Away? Gryffindors don't run away—"
"I did, and I'm still breathing because of it. You'd think that would be more important."
Jonathan looked shocked for a moment, before he nodded and looked away. "Right."
Harry looked to Dumbledore. "And I won't be there with you for the next bit."
Jonathan looked back at Harry. "What, you're not coming with us?"
Harry shook his head. "I'll give you enough to know what happened, I don't need to go over all the years again."
"Are you sure?" James asked.
Dumbledore peered at Harry over his half-moon glasses. "If you so wish then Mr. Potter." Dumbledore reached into his robes and pulled out his wand again, before handing to over to Harry.
"If he's not going with us, what will he be doing?" Mad-Eye asked. "He'll be here with all of us at our most unprotected!"
"He's not gonna kill us!" Fred said.
"You can't know that, you've only just met the—"
"You've seen what he's done, just in his first year, do you really think that's the past of a killer?" George argued.
"Yea, better first year than even you I'd imagine!" Fred said, switching off with his brother.
"And you've done far worse!"
"Ex-Auror, probably killed Death Eaters!"
"And you can look at his face—"
"—probably never even—"
"—said an unforgivable—"
"—in his whole life!"
Harry flinched. They had too much trust in him, much too fast. He had really only just met them all. They didn't know him, didn't know what he could have done… Bellatrix flashed through Harry's mind. Harry shook his head. No, they didn't know him at all. This all had to stop. Now.
Harry put his hands in the air and everyone stopped talking. "What happened so far… what's… been said," Harry glanced at James. James looked back at him with open hazel eyes. "…You all need to know, that, I'm not your Harry Potter." He looked around the room, and faces closed in on themselves thinking. "I'm not. Mad-Eye is right to be so suspicious. You're in a war. I would be too if you all were in my world." Harry sighed tiredly. "Though, I never would have grabbed someone from another world in the first place, anyone who would have... showed up claiming to know to kill the Dark Lord would have been suspicious."
Harry looked over to the Potter family there. "And while I'm… really, just happy, I guess, at how well you've accepted the fact that I am a Harry Potter, the fact remains that I'm not your Harry Potter. I'm a different Lily and James son. I'm not—"Harry shook his head. How did he say this? "I can't be the son you lost. You don't know me. I don't know you. You've moved on in your life since Harry died, and I've moved in a completely separate direction. Completely separate. I'm nothing like your Harry would have been, and I'm only here until I've finished sharing what I know so you can all get a move on back into your war. After that, you'll never see me again. Ever."
Mrs. Weasley sniffed behind Harry sadly. Harry didn't turn around. The Potter family and Sirius and Remus stood rooted before Harry with matching expressions of grief, knowing, sadness, and flecks of disappointment. Did they really think that Harry would have stayed? They'd only just met him! Would they have accepted him that easily? That fast? His eyes followed the move of James Potter squeezing his wife's hand in comfort and in the back of Harry's head, a traitorous thought bloomed unchecked across his mind. What if I did though? What if I stayed?
"You didn't tell him?" Mrs. Weasley said, sounding ill.
Harry's eyebrow came together. Didn't tell who what? He turned. "What?" he asked Mrs. Weasley.
Mrs. Weasley looked Harry straight in the eye and Harry nearly jumped back in surprise. Mrs. Weasley looked old, Harry suddenly thought. Her eyes were downcast, the wrinkles in her face seemed shadowed, and the weight of the world looked like it had hung on to Mrs. Weasley for far too long. "Harry," Mrs. Weasley licked her lips and breathed in deeply, "you can't leave."
Harry didn't understand. "Yes I can, I'm giving you what you wanted and then I'll be on my way, you can reverse the spell."
"Harry," Mrs. Weasley sighed, her eyes tearing up and her face falling.
Harry was a touch scared. "What?" he asked. "What?"
"It was a blood spell Harry," it was Lily's voice who answered, and Harry turned to her with a swelled throat. "Every active member in the Order gave one drop of blood. One drop to draw the runes, and with that one drop… it signified a promise."
"What type of promise?" Harry's thoughts were in a whirl wind trying to piece together Lily's words, but in the darkness of Harry's subconscious, he knew, he just knew, he wasn't going to be able to come home for quite some time. Of course not. Why would anything be that easy for him?
"We asked for a warrior to defeat the Darkest of our Wizards in the runes. When we wrote it down in blood, it was a promise meant for the wizard coming through the veil. The wizard that comes through cannot go back until what he's promised is done. Until the Dark Lord falls in this time Harry, you cannot go back to your world. I'm sorry." Lily looked away and clutched James's hand.
Harry looked away and glanced over the witches and wizards standing in front of him. "You've got to be kidding me," Harry said quietly. He looked over at Dumbledore. "And you agreed with this? This plan? To just rip someone away from their world, and expect them to be okay with being in a blood contract after the most dangerous Dark Lords in all of time?" Harry looked at him with unbelieving eyes. "Really?"
"We had no choice Mr. Potter. The time of the prophesy was at hand, and we needed the warrior that could save our world." Dumbledore's eyes shone under his glasses, but Harry didn't think it was from tears.
Harry shook his head. "I'm not your warrior. I'm just Harry."
"Well, Just Harry did the impossible in his world," Dumbledore said.
"I had a lot of help," Harry argued.
"You would have help here," Dumbledore said back. He waved around the room and Harry twirled the wand between his fingers nervously. "An entire organization of help."
No, Harry had had help from people he trusted. He couldn't say the same for the people here. Not now. Maybe not ever. "I…" Harry shook his head and sat back down on the chair behind him. "This is wrong." This was very wrong. He was never meant to be here, never meant to see his family again, the possibility of what his family could have been. Never meant to know what he'd lost.
"I'm so sorry," Lily whispered in the silent room. "I am so, so sorry."
Harry looked up. Lily's green eyes, so like his, were shinning and red tinged form the tears down her pale face. Her cheeks were flushed and the tip of her nose was red. And Merlin, she was still pretty. A natural beauty. Pretty in only the way a child would see their parents, hazed and immortalized, but she was still crying. Sad about him, Harry. Telling him she was sorry that he'd come. That he'd seen her and known who she was. She was sorry.
"Don't be," Harry said just as quietly. He looked away and swallowed. He wouldn't cry here. Not in front of everyone there, no way in Merlin, but damn was it getting hot. "Don't be."
Harry picked up the wand, closed his eyes, and placed the tip of the wand to the side of his head. He let his thoughts gather. Second year. He looked through his memories carefully and chose what he thought they needed.
Dobby visiting him.
Halloween night and finding Mrs. Norris petrified with Ron and Hermione.
Harry speaking Parseltongue for the first time in the dueling match against Draco.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione taking Polyjuice Potion and getting into the Slytherin dormitory.
Harry's trip through the Diary.
Finding Hermione petrified.
Harry and Ron going down with Lockhart into the Chamber of Secrets, finding Ginny, defeating the snake, and getting back up. (Harry thought he'd just give them the entire memory of that one, he didn't know what he could cut off and speed up, he didn't want them to miss any of the information. Plus, Jonathan was going to lose his head at the snake.)
Freeing Dobby, getting Hermione back.
Harry pulled the memories from him quickly, in order, into the cup. He looked back up and blinked a couple of times. "So second year, third and fourth year then, right there?" Sirius asked, motioning at the stand in front of Harry.
"Just second year actually. That was a bit harder than I thought it was going to be."
"We can do it all a year at a time if you'd wish," Dumbledore said.
That made Harry decide. "No, no, it's fine. I'll get third year." And Harry closed his eyes again.
Harry blowing up Aunt Marge and running away. Harry first meeting Sirius Black (in Animagus form). The Knight Bus picking Harry up.
Harry's talk with Fudge at the Leaky Cauldron.
Harry gave them a short snippet of the quidditch match against Hufflepuff. Just enough to show him falling from a dementor's attack.
Fred and George giving the Marauder's Map to Harry.
Harry stopped for a moment and wondered if he should let the order know of what Sirius had been accused of. Let them all hear the conversation inside the Three Broomsticks. It was kind of private. Not even Ron and Hermione had been there. No, he wouldn't give it to them. Not all of it, just enough to know that the people in his world thought Sirius was guilty. Harry continued on.
Lupin tutoring Harry in the Patronus Charm
Ron being dragged under the Whomping willow, meeting Sirius, then Remus, and then Snape, finding Wormtail, (Harry thought he'd just give them the whole memory intact) having Remus change, the dementor attack against Harry and Sirius, Hermione showing Harry her time-turner, Hermione calling off Remus, and finally Harry fighting off the dementors.
Harry pulled away and let the memories fall into the cup one by one, in order. There, second and third year. "I think I'll do it like that then. This is second and third year. It'll be a lot to take in, and pulling the memories away are hard enough. Two years at a time will be what you watch," Harry said looking up to the Order, who had started talking amongst themselves while he worked. Harry handed Dumbledore back his wand.
"Second and third year?" Jonathan asked. "s'not going to boring is it?"
Harry grinned. "Not in the slightest."
"But you're not going?" Moody asked. "You'll just stare at our backs while our mind go somewhere else?"
"Someone could just stay behind Moody," Remus suggested.
"Are you offering then Lupin?"
"I will," Bill Weasley said. "I can watch the memories later on, or we could take turns I guess, but for this time, I'll stay with Harry. If he doesn't want to rewatch his old life, he shouldn't have too."
Mad-Eye looked Bill up and down. "Someone will trade after this." He was in agreement then.
"Of course," Bill agreed easily.
Mad-Eye humphed and looked down at the small cup in his hands. Jonathan nudged Harry. "No time like the present, see you in a bit."
Harry nodded back at him. "See you."
Jonathan grinned and one by one, the Order members turned and fell into Harry's memories, until the room was silent and unmoving.
"So," Bill Weasley said, cutting through the silence, "Just you and me then huh?"
"Looks like it," Harry said.
Bill grinned. "Brilliant."
"So," Bill started with a grin. "A scar, a Dark Lord, and my dead brother's supposed best friend from another world." Bill looked at Harry from across the room, his eyes staring intently into Harry like he was looking for an answer he hadn't questioned. "All in one day. I've got to say today's really been more interesting than my last few."
Harry nodded, unsure what to say or where this was going. He leaned back in the chair he was sitting in uncomfortably. "Didn't know being a curse breaker was dull work." That didn't sound as awkward out loud as it did to him, did it?
Bill looked surprised for a moment before he looked away and a sour expression passed over his face. "It is when you're not a curse breaker anymore."
Harry frowned. "What do you mean you're not anymore? What happened? What do you do then?"
"The Dark Lord happened," Bill said, looking back at him. "The minister is a puppet in his hands and curse breakers were banned from magic studies three years ago."
"What?" Harry was confused. What was the purpose of blocking off an entire branch of magic? "Why?"
Bill shrugged his shoulders. "Dunno. Didn't have time to ask. All found to be practicing were thrown into Azkaban or kissed publically."
Harry's jaw dropped. "Kissed? They gave Dementor's kisses out publically? Like the whole community watched?"
Bill nodded. "Still do. In the execution center like anyone else who goes against the Minster."
Harry was sure his mouth must have been hanging wide open, but he couldn't find it in himself to reset his jaw. He was too horrified. A public execution? In the Wizarding community? What in the name of Merlin had this world come to? Who was the minister here to let them fall this far? Why hadn't the Order stopped this? Why hadn't anyone done anything about it? Harry shook his head. "Where exactly is the … execution center?"
Bill glanced at him from the corner of his eye and stood up from his chair. "Come on. I want a cuppa tea. Moody would have my hide if I left you alone here."
"Merlin forbid," Harry deadpanned.
Bill grinned and nodded to the kitchen. Harry got up and followed the older man out. "Don't be too hard on Moody. A Death Eater killed his cat three months ago. He's still getting over it."
Harry nearly tripped. "A cat?" he blurted.
Bill grinned wider. "Sugar in yours?" he asked nodding to a porcelain cup in his hand.
Harry looked around Bill and realized he had put the kettle on over a very muggle looking stove in the middle of the kitchen. "Uh, no thanks… is that a—"
"Muggle machine? Yea, Dad convinced Sirius to let him install it about six years back. It's called a strov? A stox? … Storn?"
"Stove," Harry suggested lightly.
Bill looked back at the kettle heating over the stove and nodded. "Yea, that. We all call it the muggle heater here, well, other than Dad, but, well… I'm sure you know how he is about muggle items if you were close to our family in your world."
Harry nodded and leaned against the other side of the stove. "Yea, I know how he is."
Bill glanced at him and pulled another cup out for himself. He nodded towards a small table off the side of the kitchen's left wall. Harry took the hint and sat himself down with Bill following a moment later, carrying two cups of steaming tea with muggle tea bags sitting in each one. Bill handed one to Harry and he accepted without a word. The ex-curse breaker sat across from him and took a careful sip of his tea while staring straight at Harry with a closed expression. "So," he said, "where was I?"
"Execution center," Harry answered, leaving his tea untouched. "Where is it at?"
"Diagon Alley," Bill said taking a sip. "Right where Flourish and Blotts used to be."
Harry let that sink in. So right in the heart of a wizard community. A great place to strike fear into its citizens. "But where'd Flourish and Blotts go then?"
Bill leaned back in his chair. "Torn down. Been gone ages. About seven and a half years actually."
"They took down Flourish and Blotts and put an execution center there? Where do Hogwarts students go to get their books?"
"They don't." Bill stared silently at Harry for a moment before setting his cup down on the table. Harry stared at him confused and a little lost. "Harry, Hogwarts is… well, it's not what it used to be. Probably not the same Hogwarts that you are used to."
"What'd you mean?"
Bill blinked at him. "Hogwarts is a Rebellion School Harry. Officially against the Dark Lord. And because our Minister is in the hands of You-know-who, our school was ordered to be burned to the ground and have its teachers killed."
"Teachers killed? But Professor Dumbledore and McGonagall … Hogwarts is gone here?" Harry asked, astonished. No, that couldn't be right. Not Hogwarts. Not his home.
"No, no Hogwarts still stands, and the teachers are fine, but it's no longer the open Wizarding school it used to be," Bill explained. "It has shields surrounding every side, lets in only a few students a year to learn magic, and is soaked in tons of protection counter curses that even the Goblins of Gringotts would have marveled over, courtesy of yours truly." He motioned to himself. "Well, before I was put on notice that if the ministry caught me doing anything they'd have me kissed." Bill picked up his cup again and took a small sip. "Of course since then, I haven't even looked at a curse that needed breaking. Mum's worried the ministry will just sentence me to make me an example."
"Hang on" Harry said leaning forwards, "If your part of the Order, aren't you officially against the ministry anyways?"
"Not exactly," Bill said shaking his head. "There are blurred lines really. People who are completely converted into the blood purists ways, and the people who have some sort of conscious deep down. If someone was given the order to kill you, some would hunt you down until they died trying, and others would go after you just like they were told, but they wouldn't really try to get you. Do you understand? They do what they're told, but if they're given the opportunity to turn a blind eye from certain situations, they will."
"Am just really lucky, and have a few friends in the right places."
"The whole order?"
"Some are good spies in high places."
"Spies." Harry said, his eyebrow raising in question. "Like Sna—" Harry shut his mouth with a click of his teeth, nearly nipping his tongue, and swallowed the rest of his question. No not like his Snape. This Snape was evil… maybe.
Bill nodded anyways to him. "James Potter, Sirius Black, the Longbottoms, and some others in the Order work inside the ministry. From the inside out."
Harry nodded along. That made sense, in a way he supposed. "But Dumbledore, he's the Headmaster, is he—"
Bill nodded gravely. "He's public enemy number one. Has been for some time."
"And people believe that?"
"They don't really get much of a choice. It's either accept it or die."
Harry nodded again. He looked down at the cup in front of him and pulled in towards him. He let the warmth from the hot water seep through the glass and into his fingers, warming sense into the edges of his conscious. Harry could feel Bill's eyes on him, but he continued to stare at the cup in front of him in silence anyways. It was unreal, this world. So much more death and destruction. Problems he had never faced before, never really thought that this was anything ever think about actually.
And they wanted him to fix this? This… this… mess? This topsy turny world that made no sense at all, and was better and worse than his own so much that it was making his head spin? They thought he could do this?
"No," Harry said, letting go of the cup. "No. No." Harry pushed the cup away from him, standing up from his chair, and the hot liquid spilled away from him towards Bill.
"Harry?" Bill asked, standing quickly away from the liquid and reaching out to him, worried.
Harry leaned away from Bill's hand like it was poisonous and fell farther backwards into the kitchen away from him. "No," Harry repeated, shaking his head. "I can't. I can't do this." Harry shook his head harder. "You don't understand, I can't do this."
"Harry." Bill put his hands up in surrender. "Harry stop. I know. I know you don't want to. Probably don't even want to think about it. I know. I know. Harry."
Harry took another step back and hit the door frame of the kitchen. "I barely made it out the first time," Harry rambled. His head shook fiercely, and from the back of Harry's mind, he found a small part of himself wondering silently if he was having a panic attack. Did panic attacks feel like this? Anxiety? Fear? "So many died. So many faces I knew. All of them gone forever, no matter what this dimension shows me. So many, that… that I… I can't do this again. Not with them. Not like this."
"Harry," Bill said quietly like he was talking to a wounded animal. Is that what Harry was now, a wounded animal? Harry looked up sharply at Bill. Anger flushed his face and a hot fire burned from the inside of his chest.
This was his fault, Harry found himself thinking. His and all of the Order members here. All of them. Wanting him to fight in a war against a man he hated more than anything. Against the copy of a man who was worse than his darkest night terrors. Pulling him away from his hard won safety. His family. The family that he'd so desperately longed for his entire life. Tearing him away and pushing him into another war. Another Death filled world. More anger here, and desperation. More sadness and hatred. Taking him from his blood ridden achievement , from the life he'd won in victory, and shoved head first into another one that was much darker. His fault.
Not Harry's. No, Harry hadn't done anything wrong this time. He hadn't made the choice, he hadn't done stupid or gotten someone killed. He'd already done everything he was asked to do. He'd won the right to live in peace. He'd won it. No, this time someone else had made the call and had twisted his destiny to fit their schedule. The Order. Bill. Dumbledore. Moody. … James. Lily. … Jonathan. They'd done it.
"You," Harry said, his voice a whisper in the quiet room, but calm and cutting like a sharp razor to soft skin. "You," he repeated. "You all, asking me to come here and fix your bloody problems. Like a child asking for their mummy to get a toy back from the neighbors."
Bill's face dropped in surprise. "What?" he asked, his hands dropping to his sides.
"Just picking me up. Taking me like you could buy me from a shop. 'DARK LORD DEFEATER: only five drops of blood!' Is that how you all did it?" Harry sneered, anger rushing through his veins and heating the tops of his skin. "Picking out the one you liked best, just throwing magic around and taking people from their homes? Did you think that would actually work?"
"Did you really think, that anyone would be okay with that? Because even if it hadn't been me that defeated Voldemort—" Bill flinched at his name. "—I can guaranty you that someone who had lived through the death of the Dark Lord would never want to go back and do it again. They would never volunteer, or ask to be put in the same situation again. They wouldn't be thankful. They would hate you. Hate you for asking them to do something that terrible again. Hate you for even thinking that you thought they could put themselves through that." Harry clenched his jaw and balled his fists. "Taken away and told to be soldier in someone else's battle."
Bill stared at Harry, his shoulders limp and his jaw unhinged from shock.
"Hate to break it to you Bill, but no one works that way."
"What… Harry. You can't— what do you—"
"I mean you can fuck off. Go find someone else to be your savior. This boy-who-lived is done playing hero. So done. I'm done, Bill. I might have known you in my world, but here, you're just a face copying the emotions of someone I've been kidnapped from. You're not real to me. None of this is. It's all yours, and that includes this war."
"But you can't go home until you-know—"
"I know what Lily said. I was in the same room as you. I know what they say must be done."
"Am getting home, no matter what. I know that… I accept that." Harry stared at Bill. "I understand that, but it doesn't mean that I'm not going to be mad. You still did what you did and I will hate you for that, because if I die here, I will never see my family again."
Bill stared back at Harry solemnly and nodded. "I know, and I'm so sorr—"
"No you're not," Harry said looking away. "If you were I wouldn't be here." Harry turned to walk out of the kitchen, but looked back before he left. "Don't say things to me you don't mean. It'll just piss me off."
Harry sat quietly on one of the soft chairs in the dining room with the rest of the unmoving members. Bill sat a couple of chairs away from him, looking from Harry to random Order members around the room, waiting for them to wake up. Harry leaned back farther in his chair and sighed. Merlin he was tired. It felt like weeks since the last time he'd slept.
From the corner of his eye, Dumbledore's head bobbed away from the cup in his hands. Harry sat straight up and Bill looked immediately at him. Harry nodded towards Dumbledore. "They're coming back."
Bill looked at Dumbledore and stood from his seat. Slowly, like they were all waking up from a dream, people began leaning backwards from the cups, opening their eyes and blinking away the last images they'd seen. Then, came the whispering, the growing voices and the shaking heads. The room grew loud and Harry almost didn't hear his name until he felt a hand wrap around his upper right arm and swing him around.
"A Basilisk? ARE YOU INSANE? A BASILISK?" Jonathan yelled in front of his face, quieting the couple of members around him. "Fifty feet it was! FIFTY!" Jonathan threw out his arms in example. "It was this big! And you came at it with a hat. The bloody sorting hat!" Jonathan shook his head and grasped Harry with both hands on his arms. "And then the dementors. There were hundreds. Do you know what Dumbledore said? That only a really powerful wizard could have accomplished that! And you have the patronus like my dad, which, I'm not gonna lie, was weird at first, cause I thought we were seeing him in the beginning, but then you just blew them all away and then saved Sirius by saving a Hippogriff? Mate, you need to write this all down. Do you even know how much money you'd make?"
"Don't really need the money really, it's all just—"
"And then the quidditch game! Oh Merlin, you should have seen Fred and George, they were going absolutely bonkers. Dad was really impressed too, and Mum was furious that there had been dementors during a game, but then happy Uncle Remus had come and helped you sort out your patronus. Do you still have the same patronus? I heard that sometimes it can change." Harry opened his mouth, but Jonathan kept on going. "And the Chamber of Secrets? In the girls bathroom? Moaning Myrtle? I about thought I was going to lose my head when I found out. Although, going to be honest, I was a little scared when I found out you were a Parselmouth. Didn't know it ran in the family. Dad looked a bit worried, Uncle Sirius was a bit put off, but mom said it might have been because of the scar on your head, and everyone sorted themselves out after that. And you got the Map from Fred and George! They were very happy with themselves when they found out, mind you. Might come bugging you in a bit actually…"
Jonathan went on and on, and Harry let him, silently watching the boy's mouth open and close, not really listening to the words coming out of his mouth. Members around the room quieted and watched as Jonathan built himself up to run out of steam, uninterrupting. "—And then we all saw Wormtail again and, well, you can imagine how that all played out. No one really thought the Sirius in your world was coming after you to kill you, but anyways—"
Sirius stepped forwards and put a hand over Jonathan's mouth. "All right pup that's enough I think."
"Yeah yeah, keep your excuses for someone who's not already sick of your annoying little teenage voice."
Jonathan ripped Sirius's hand away from his mouth. "My voice doesn't crack anymore!"
Sirius smiled. "Hmmm."
Harry opened his mouth again, but the noise of the fireplace coming to life stopped him short. Out of the center of green flames, a giant of a man with a mane of black frizzy hair walked out into the dining room with an air of control. "Dumbledore Sir, there's trouble at Hogwarts," his voice echoed around the room.
Wizards and witches jumped to their feet. "What is it?" Sirius asked. "What's happened?"
"Are the children all right?" Lily asked, her face tight with fear.
"Did the walls come down?" James asked right after her.
"I'll answer yer questions if you'd give me 'alf a minute!" Hagrid said, his voice rising. "All ye need to know is we need to leave. Now."
People rushed to the fireplaces or out to other rooms with other ways of getting out. Some ran to the foyer to dissapperate. Jonathan grabbed Harry's arm. "Come on, you're going to want to see this."
"What, Hogwarts? I've been there."
"No, not Hogwarts, although… that too, but I was talking about the twins."
Harry was confused. "Twins? I've already met Fred and George."
Jonathan rolled his eyes and pulled Harry with him to a fireplace in front of several people. "Our twins. Our sisters. Remember?"
Harry remembered, but he shook his head at him. "Our—Jonathan, I—"
Jonathan grabbed a handful of floo powder and threw it down. "Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," he yelled over the noise of shouting people. Harry's words were cut off with the rising of ash and the suddenly tall consuming green flames that wrapped around him. He barely saw Moody, James, Lily, Bill, and Sirius looking out after him before he was whisked away into the flames.
In the next moment, Harry was pulled out by Jonathan into the headmasters office in Hogwarts. Harry didn't even have to look around before Jonathan was pulling him up and away from the fireplace and out to the outside halls. Harry tripped over himself once, in order to catch up, but soon found his feet and ran side by side with Jonathan. He'd have time to talk to him later he'd guess then.
Just as long as—Harry stopped. He and Jonathan were sprinting down an empty hall with large windows at one side. Large enough to see the landscape at the side of the school below. Harry turned out to the window and narrowed his eyes. "Jonathan!" Harry yelled, stopping the younger boy in his track and making him run back.
"What are you—"
Harry pointed out at the green hillside nearest Hogsmead. "There," he said quietly, his tone flat and concentrated. He thought he'd smelled smoke.
UP NEXT: Harry gets a little action, meets some people related to him, and becomes a badass.
Chapter 8: Rescues and Idiots
Jonathan took one look at the smoke outside and started running down the hall again. "It's Hogsmead!" he shouted, his voice echoing down the empty hallways. "Hogsmead is under attack!"
Harry glanced back at the smoke filled skyline and ran after Jonathan. A foggy confusion followed his steps. "Doesn't Hogsmead have protection?" Harry shouted after him.
Jonathan didn't look back at him. "Sort of," he yelled.
Harry met his pace and they ran side by side down stairs and across empty hallways. "What do you 'sort of'?" he yelled at him as they jumped from one hallway to the next.
Harry and Jonathan got to the entrance doors. "I mean," Jonathan said, hauling one large wooden door open. "Sort of."
Harry and Jonathan ran out onto the grassy hillside that led up to Hogsmead. Harry could smell the smoke that filled his lungs and could hear faint screaming from over the hill. Harry ran faster, and Jonathan followed, easily keeping up with him. As the top of the hill got closer, Harry's mind spun faster in his head. What was he going to do? Throw sticks at them? He still didn't have his wand. Where was the rest of the Order already? What was 'sort of' protection? Shields? Order members? Who was here at Hogwarts at this time of the year? Were they were just going to waltz into a burning village?
Harry shot his arm out and wrapped a hand around Jonathan's arm. He stopped in his tracks and yanked backwards. "Wait!" he yelled.
Jonathan was pulled backwards, nearly pulled off his feet, and tripped backwards into Harry, slamming into the older boys chest, and sending them both to the ground. "Bloody hell!" Jonathan said, the air knocked from his lungs on the ground. "What in Merl—"
Harry picked himself up from the grass and looked downwards at Jonathan. "You're just going to go running into Hogsmead?" he demanded. "No protection, no plan, no backup? Are you insane?"
"What?" Jonathan asked, looking up. "They need our help! We can think about a plan la—"
"No, we can't!" Harry felt like throttling the boy. "Jonathan, there could be Death Eaters there."
Harry shook his head. "No, the order is still coming, and you can't just run in alone."
"I have you! We don't need anyone else to go in and—"
"I don't even have a wand!" Harry yelled over him, raising his hands into the air. Jonathan looked over Harry, like he was just remembering why he was there, and sat back down on the grass heavily. "We can't just go in without a plan or the Order!" Harry yelled again. The words seemed to make Jonathan sink farther into the grass. He nodded once like a sullen child.
A high pitched scream came echoing over the hillside and Jonathan lurched to his feet, his eyes wild and his fists clenched. "Doesn't matter, we have to get in there."
"Jonathan, no." Harry grabbed his arm again, but Jonathan shrugged him off violently.
"My sisters are in there!" he yelled, looking at Harry with wide eyes. "Both of them, probably scared out of their minds, or…" Jonathan clenched his teeth, unwilling to go on.
Harry nodded once. "Or dead." Jonathan looked up at him.
"Yea," he croaked with a paling face. "Or dead."
Harry watched Jonathan inwardly close in on himself at the thought. His face went slack, his shoulders stiffened, his back curved like he was going to curl in on himself, and the palms of his hands were pressed tightly against his robes. Something red hot poked and rubbed against the insides of Harry's intestines at the suddenly darkened face in front of him. Like some wiring twisted wrong and jumbled spark plugs were sparking off bad electricity. It caught Harry deep, and it loosened his tongue. "All right," Harry stated before his brain could catch up. "So we go save them."
Jonathan looked up again at him, but his eyes lightened and Harry could watch as the hope and relief washed over his face. It was unnerving, but it also left a little warmth in the edges of his fingers. Harry turned from Jonathan and back up at the hill. "So," he started, wondering how he was going to do this. "First, we get back to Hogwarts."
"I had no idea this was here," Jonathan said, looking around the secret passage way into Honeydukes, his wand lighting the way in front of both of them.
"Your dad never showed you?" Harry asked, confused. Wouldn't it have been a right of marauder passage or something?
"No, neither did Uncle Remus or Sirius."
Harry turned to glance back at the younger wizard. "That's… not what I would have expected."
"Mum must have told them not to. Knew I'd sneak out and get chocolate before dinner or something."
Harry turned back to the front, letting the idea slide for now. "Yea, or something."
Harry and Jonathan followed a curve in the tunnel and stopped in their tracks. The sides were caven inwards, and the ceiling was almost nonexistent, allowing dirt and huge rocks from the foundation of Hogwarts to block their way. "Dad or Sirius must have sealed it off years ago," Jonathan whistled. "That must be why they never told me about them."
Harry ground his teeth together. So he'd just wasted time. Wonderful. Hogsmead was under attack and he was going on about secret tunnels like a child in their grandparent's house.
Jonathan glanced at Harry and seemed to pick up on his dark mood. "We can't blast through it?"
"Not if we wanted Hogwarts to come down on top of us," Harry said, frustrated. He looked over the tunnel once more, and shook his head. There was no other way. They would have to go through Hogsmead like Jonathan had originally said. "Dammit." Harry turned from the tunnel on his heel and started to walk back towards the way they had come in. So close, he'd thought, that he'd outsmarted—The sides of the tunnels blurred in the corners of Harry's eyes like the heat you saw above pavement on a hot summers day and he spun back around again. Was that… Had that been—No, had they really?
"Harry?" Jonathan asked, farther ahead down the tunnel, but looking back worried.
"The tunnel," Harry said, squinting his eyes at the cave in. He took one step to the left and then another to the right, cranking his head sideways at the dirt around him.
"It's a cave in. Remus, Sirius or Dad must have made them collapse so that no one else could come in. I thought we'd already gone over this?"
"No, the tunnel. It's not a cave in… well, I don't think so at least."
"What are you—"
"Come over here and tilt your head at the edge of the passage's wall. Tell me what you see."
"Why would I—"
"just come over here and do it!"
"All right, all right, geez don't get your robes in a twist." Jonathan walked next to him and stood where Harry had indicated. "All right, so like this," He turned his head. "Look at the wall, check, now what exactly am I supposed to be looki—woah." He squinted his eyes and leaned forwards. The edge of the tunnel wall blurred again. "Is that—?"
"A glamour? Yeah. Yeah, I think so."
Jonathan looked to Harry. "So we can just walk through?"
"If there aren't any more traps, yes."
Jonathan bit his lip, caution lighting his eyes. "Sirius and Dad would put traps if they did this."
"Smart of them," Harry nodded solemnly. He took a step forwards and Jonathan put his hand on Harry's shoulder. Harry turned and suddenly realized how tall Jonathan was to him. Almost eye to eye. "I'm right behind you," Jonathan said, releasing him. Harry nodded once and turned back around, putting one step in front of the other. It's not there, it's not there, he chanted to himself in his mind. Like the train station going to Hogwarts for the first time. It's not there. Not really. Harry kept his eyes fixed in front of himself and moved forwards step by step. The air thickened around Harry, his left ear seemed to pop, and he felt the squeezing hand of Jonathan on the back of his robes tighten. The air crackled like electricity for a moment, and then Harry felt himself walk completely through the glamour onto the other side.
"Damn," Jonathan breathed as Harry knelt to feel the sides of the wall in front of him for reassurance. "That was…" He cracked his neck from side to side. "…uncomfortable."
"I doubt that's all they'd have set up if your dad and Sirius really did close the tunnels and set up the cave in." Harry turned back around to the front. "They'll probably some kind of guardian or… I dunno, spell we'll have to cross over before we reach the other side."
"How do you know?" Jonathan asked, stepping after Harry down the cave way again.
"It's what I would have done, if not just completely destroy the tunnels." Harry looked onwards, an uncomfortable feeling rising from his stomach.
"Where what they?" Harry answered back automatically, following the next bend in the tunnel. There would undeniably be another test at the end. If a glamour was used to stop people from coming out of Hogwarts, what stopped people from coming in?
"Were your tunnels closed, you know, back where you used to live?"
Harry jumped back to the present, away from his inner thoughts. He glanced back at Jonathan. "Yes, for a time they were."
Harry did a sort of half-shrug. "Not since Volde—not since you-know-whos death."
"Oh," Jonathan said quietly. "Right. You and the great snake…" Jonathan was silent for a moment, and Harry counted down mentally in his head. He felt a question coming up. Like an itch at the back of his head. "So uh… how was it? Killing him. Did you… well, what I mean is-"
"Did it feel good?" Harry asked, raising his eyebrows.
Jonathan nodded, looking up questioningly. "Yeah."
Harry rotated his jaw backwards and swallowed. The uncomfortable ball in his stomach tightened and the hairs on the back of his neck rose. "No. And yes." Harry scanned the tunnel ahead. He should be close. Very close to the entrance to Honey Dukes. "I helped defeat Lord Voldemort, and avenged the memories of the people he killed. It felt… I dunno, good. Great. Even wonderful I guess. All the stress and fear finally fell with his body when his curse came back at him. It was… freeing. To not look over my shoulder ever again. To know my greatest enemy was gone. The murderer of so many people… my parents… was never again getting up. Never hurting my friends or family. Honestly, killing him made me happy, it really did, but at the same time, it was horrible. Disgusting. It tore me apart because I'd finally done what I was always 'meant' to do. Finally completed my prophecy. I'd killed him. Right there. In front of everyone I knew. Everyone I loved. In the front yard of my first home. I'd killed someone." Harry could feel the crystal clear image of Voldemort's body falling to the ground, and the silence that rang in his ears. The never ending silence. If filled Harry's ears and nearly drowned out Jonathan's voice.
"It had to be done." The words broke through and sounded hollow in Harry's head. Had to be done.
"Yeah," Harry said dully. "That's what Ginny said afterwards. 'Had to be done.'"
"Ginny? Ginny Weasley? You knew her in your world? Oh wait, course you did, you were Ron's best mate right?"
"Yeah. Yeah, we were."
Jonathan nodded like he understood. "So you and Ginny. Close then?"
There was something lighter in Jonathan's voice and Harry looked at him strangely. "Yeah. Why?"
"Oh you know, just curious."
"Yeah." Jonathan nodded and stepped side by side with Harry. "So then anyways…" he breathed out with a long sigh. "…how close exactly?"
"Oh Merlin, no." Harry shook his head, keeping a straight face. "No, no. We're not having this conversation."
Jonathan nudged him with his elbow into his side. "Ah HA! So you are close. Very close? Really close? Close enough to feel her—"
"Jonathan, no. Just no."
"Oh come on."
"So you aren't?"
Harry rolled his eyes. "Not anymore."
"So… what… that's definitely a yes then? Oh Merlin, Bill and Charlie are going to love this."
"It's not—we aren't—"
Jonathan smiled. "A Potter dating a Weasley. Mum would love it. And to be honest, Ginny's… she's something." Jonathan smiled appreciatively. "That hair of hers."
Harry smiled for a second. Yeah, Ginny's hair was beautiful. It was one of the things Harry had loved about her. "Beautiful."
"Yeah, she is," Jonathan smiled dreamily. Harry raised an eyebrow. Jonathan seemed to have caught himself smiling, and looked at Harry quickly, embarrassed. "Er—well—what I mean is, she's uh…"
"Absolutely amazing?" Harry asked, grinning at Jonathan. "It's okay, you don't have to choke. I'm not dating her."
"You're not? But I thought—"
"I was. Well, we were. Dating, I mean. Just… not anymore."
"She break it off because she couldn't handle all the Potter genes?" Jonathan joked lightly.
Harry smiled sourly. "Not exactly."
Jonathan and Harry turned another side of the tunnel. "She break it off after the war?"
Harry shook his head and Jonathan glanced at him with serious eyes. "I ended it because of the war."
Jonathan stared. "What?" he frowned. "If you-know-who was dead, then there couldn't have been much of a war could there have been? I mean, no one was left except for the—"
"Death Eaters, yeah," Harry nodded. "The Death Eaters and the memories of who were gone." Harry's insides hallowed at his words. "Both there to haunt me wherever I went. Hermione nearly died twice, Ginny was kidnapped, and people's faces followed me every step I took."
"Death Eaters kept on then?" Jonathan asked.
"They will no matter what. They lost their lord and master once, but seeing him die in front of them started an uprising within them. A jostle for power across their ranks."
"That's horrible. You'd think they'd just give up with—"
"This is it," Harry interrupted him stopping. Jonathan stopped with him and Harry stood in front of a large stone staircase that seemed to never end to the ceiling.
"Great. How do we get in?"
"I'd expect the stairs."
Jonathan looked at the stone staircase and then around the tunnel, as if he expected his shadow to come jumping out at himself. "Right. So you're going first then?"
Harry gave him an unamused look and stepped forwards to the stairs. He stepped onto the first step and immediately the room temperature dropped. White mist escaped from Harry's mouth and Jonathan backed up so the tunnel wall was at his back. "What is it?" Jonathan asked quietly.
Harry glanced around the tunnel taking in everything. "Dunno. Doesn't feel like a dementor. Some kind of spell I'd guess."
"Just hold on, let me go up and see—"the temperature rose like a sudden heat wave in the middle of a desert and the stone under Harry's feet became white hot. "Ah—damn!" Harry jumped sideways from the stone, straight to the hand rail beside him, and leapt backwards again at Jonathan from the burning metal. He radled his painfully tingling hands to his chest.
Jonathan looked at Harry's hands before looks around the tunnel with an apprehensive gaze. "A little bipolar if you ask me."
Harry shot him a dark look and tentively unclenched his hands from his chest. His skin stretched and burned, but Harry forced his skin to expose itself to the cooling air around him. The burn wasn't serious, a little bubbled flesh, but it stung like a paper cut with lemon juice and Harry grimaced down at his hands annoyed. "That was… different I guess," Harry said.
"You think that was it?"
Harry snorted. "I think that was a warning."
Jonathan looked at Harry's hands with leveled eyes. "So then what do we do? Go back?"
"And waste more time? No. We keep going. We know what to look out for now. You ready?" Harry asked.
Jonathan put on a wide grin and put his wand out in front of himself confidently. "Always."
Harry nodded and grabbed the railing. It was no longer hot, but his hands didn't appreciate the close contact. It stung like a fresh carpet burn and Harry locked his teeth together. "You come up right after me okay? If I'm right, whatever test is right outside the door, so be ready. For anything."
"Good. See you." Harry turned his head up to the ceiling and began the slow ascent up to the trap door. The steps were steep and the room was getting colder again with every step. Whatever spell or magic in the room was getting more and more powerful with every step he took. Remembering the last time he'd come through this passage, Harry counted over two hundred steps before he put his hand out in front of him before the ceiling so his head didn't hit the trap door ceiling.
Soon enough, Harry's hand met cold wood and Harry called out behind him tentively. "Jonathan? You there?"
"Here Harry," Harry heard the voice somewhere below him.
"Where's your light?" Harry asked, not seeing him. Harry could climb through the dark because he'd been here before, but Jonathan was the one with the wand and on his first journey through.
"Here. Here, let me just—" Harry saw the yellow light of a wand a couple steps below him and Harry waved over to the blinking younger boy. "Come on, we don't have all day."
"Right," Jonathan caught up to him a few seconds later and Harry tapped the trap door above him lightly. "On the count of two."
Jonathan snapped his head to him, his wand held tightly in his hand. "What? Why two?"
"Because three's overrated and I said so," Harry answered, not really seeing the importance of why three numbers mattered over two.
"But you can't just—"
"Onetwo. Go!" Harry pushed the trap door open and climbed out of the staircase quickly, his body low to the ground, and his eyes scanning the room with narrowed eyes. Jonathan was a second behind him, and nearly slammed into Harry's back, when the older boy had suddenly stopped in front of him. "What in the name of Merlin's—do you do this on purpose? You couldn't move over just another—" Jonathan stepped around Harry to his side and looked at the room from the far left. "You said we were in the cellar right? Looks a bit big to be a cellar. Did the enlarge the inside? Guess they must have to—"
Jonathan stopped mid-rant and glanced at Harry, who was staring in front of him, completely frozen. Harry whispered to him with a tight jaw and unmoving eyes and Jonathan froze as well on instinct. "Don't make any sudden movement, don't make any loud noises. Keep calm and look in front of me, do you understand?" Harry asked.
Jonathan nodded, and looked up. "Holy mother of Merlin," Jonathan breathed out. "You have got to be kidding me."
"Hush, I think it's confused. Don't do anything surprising."
"Surprising? Surprising Harry? It's a bloody dragon."
"Yes. And the exit's behind it."
Jonathan looked up behind the green, enormous lizard and cursed under his breath. Of course it was. "This is the test? A dragon? What the bleedin hell was Dad and uncle Sirius thinking? I mean a Welsh Green?"
"You can ask after all of this is over." Harry kept his eyes fixed, unblinking into the face of the large animal in front of him. A deep green and darkening brown tips, the color of the under canopy of a forests leaves, the dragon's scales gleamed over the small light from Jonathan's wand and assorted never ending candles around the room. Its horned head was unmoving, and its huge orbs of eyes, the color of wild green that could have only been taken out of the underbelly of nature, stared directly at Harry. "But for the love of all magic, don't move."
"Do you have a plan?"
"Nice. Short and simple. Not exactly reassuring though," Jonathan hissed.
"Shut up," Harry hissed back shortly.
Outside, a bang blasted dust from the corners of the room, and the dragon's head snapped back like it had been awakened from a daydream. Screams of people were faintly heard through the walls and Harry saw Jonathan flinch minutely beside him. "Jonathan. Run."
"What? D'you –"
"NOW!" Harry shouted, his arms thrown out beside him and his stance spread in front of the dragon. Jonathan didn't hesitate, and leapt forwards around Harry. The dragon's head shook, and its mouth drew back, long white teeth exposing themselves from the back of reared lips. It's long tail whipped in the air and the eighteen foot dragon reached his neck back, tipping its jaw upwards and opening its mouth. Harry had just enough time to mentally curse before the dragon roared an ear splitting roar that sent Harry's hair backwards and Jonathan's face hard into the wood of the exit door.
"Don't let her fire touch you or your dead!" Jonathan yelled.
"She?" Harry shouted.
"She!" Jonathan yelled before he turned and open the wooden exit. "Hurry!" Jonathan yelled, stepping out into the exit, and turning back to Harry.
"Right," Harry muttered to himself. Here we go again. One on one. With no wand. "Right," Harry said again. The dragon spread its feet apart and aimed its head at Harry, its mouth opening wide. Wild green eyes met his like a challenge and Harry spread his feet apart, keeping his arms in close and his head low.
Harry didn't know exactly when the dragon had decided to released her fire on him, but Harry was already moving up and away, sliding across the wooden floor like a baseball player looking for a homerun towards the underbelly of the dragon. The spray of blazing thin streams of fire passed over Harry, boiling the air over him and singing the tips of his uncontrolled hair. He slid to the front legs of the beast and rolled away from the claws that tried to stamp him out like an insect. Harry could feel the heat of the fire on the left side of his face, when he rolled to a stop and scrambled to his feet.
"Jonathan, find your dad or a member of the Order. Find your sisters." Harry kept his eyes focused on the green scales, and like she knew she was being called, the dragon turned her head to him and roared again, this time with what seemed like annoyance. She tried spreading her wings, but the low risen ceiling kept them down near her body. Thank Merlin for the small miracles.
"I'm not going to just leave you!" Jonathan shouted back.
"Well you're not helping!"
Harry jumped to the right, right under from another small torrent of flames and dove behind a shelf filled with sugar quills and liquorish wands. The exit was feet from Harry, but the dragon turned around faster than Harry thought possible, and her tail whipped right in front of where Jonathan stood resolutely still. "Here then, catch!" Jonathan shouted.
Outside, bangs and shrill screams echoed just barely over the noise of the dragon, and Harry faintly saw Jonathan reaching his arm back and throwing something in the air. "HARRY!" Jonathan yelled as a thin piece of what looked like wood flew through the air towards him.
Harry's eyes snapped back at him and then at the downward spiraling object. Jonathan's wand. Harry zeroed in on the flying wand and threw himself forwards at it. He reached as far as he could with his given momentum, but not far enough. The dragon's tail caught the end of the wand in an upwards swing and flung the piece of wood through the air, over the dragon's head and on the side of the burning room. Harry didn't pause to think.
He let himself fall into a roll out of his failed attempt to catch the wand and then sprung to his feet. The dragon's tail swished above him hazardously and Harry sprinted away as fast as he could towards the burning section of Honey Dukes cellar. He dodged the dragon's front legs like a pair of huge bludgers and threw himself at the edge of the fire.
At the edge of the curling fire, Jonathan's wand sat the orange flames licking at its base threateningly. Harry reached out and plucked it from the ground and spun on his heel. The flat end of the dragons tail speed across the air, straight towards Harry and he dropped himself into a forwards roll, away from the fire.
She roared again and turned herself around in a blink of Harry's eye. Harry felt spreading flames at his back, so did the only rational thing he could, and went forwards at the dragon. He raised the wand high in the air and shouted "lumus solan!" before him. He sprinted straight at the dragon, bright sunlight igniting the tip of the wand and burning sunlight bright at its eyes. She roared louder than she had before, rocking the walls.
Harry lost his footing for a second, tripping over a tipped over box of chocolate frogs, and he landed hard on his chest, the wand rolling away from his fingertips on the ground.
"Harry!" Jonathan yelled from the entryway, blocked off from coming in with the dragon's tail swinging impressively at the entrance.
Harry didn't even bother getting to his feet, he just scrambled forwards using his hands, knees, and elbows towards the rolling wand. He caught the wand by its base with the curve of his finger and hauled it in his hands as fast as he could. A huge, muscled, and scaled green leg stomped its foot to a stop right in front of Harry's fingertips and Harry swallowed hard. Her wings rose upwards and broke through the roof, shattering wooden beams and collapsing the ceiling inwards over the burning floor. Harry didn't bother ducking, but kept himself as still as possible under the dragon's head. Jonathan reared back into the hallway, ceiling tiles coming down hard and landing on his head and shoulders.
Looking up, the dragon's head was lifting itself for a launch, fire attack, or another roar, Harry was unsure of, but he knew he had to do something, and do something fast if he didn't want to be burnt meat strips at the end of this. Harry forced his feet under himself and pointed his wand directly at the dragon's eye. The head moved downwards, at the deadly speed only a carnivore could move, and Harry leveled his wand with unblinking focus. He had one shot. "Immobulus!" he shouted. A blast of white light erupted from Harry's wand and straight at the Welsh's green eye.
The dragon's head stopped and its extended jaw froze like a snapshot of a camera. Her feet were frozen to the floor, and her large wings were unmoving, half opened to the sky and half curled from the broken ceiling. Only her huge eyes remained moving, and only to blink venomously at Harry. She seemed to be saying, "Oh you are going to wish I had ripped you limb from limb when I had the chance you little two legged chicken." But she had, by all means, stopped moving.
"Merlin," Jonathan gaped from the doorway. "You did it. You beat it."
"No," Harry shook his head, because he hadn't. "I just slowed her down. The spell will wear off sooner rather than later, and then she'll be really, really angry."
"So we run now right?"
"So we can have her come after us and roast us before we get a look at a Death Eater? No. We need to… I dunno…" Harry thought about it for a moment. "Communicate? Tell her we mean her no harm." Harry flinched as his own words. That probably sounded as dumb out loud as it did in his head. Talking to dragons? He'd never heard of it before. Charlie had never said anything. Hermione had never mentioned anything. Harry bit down on the side of his cheek in thought. Then what did he do?
"And how are we going to do that? You speak Dragonese?"
"I don't—" Harry was going to say that he didn't know of a way, but he stopped himself short. He stared at Jonathan with widening eyes. When he thought about it, he did know of a way. Sort of. Kind of. It might work. Ish. "Merlin help me," Harry said quietly. He raised his arm and Jonathan's wand up at the dragon, and her eyes narrowed in on the thin piece of wood dangerously. Harry emptied his mind completely, and then stared intently into the dragon's green eyes.
Legilimens, Harry thought as hard as he could. And then he dove into the dragons mind.
Images in colors Harry couldn't identify blurred past him, memories of sharp foreign smells whirled like a tornado in his senses, and the flight patterns of her prey raced through Harry's mind and imbedded the presence of her feelings onto his. He could feel her fear, her caution, her bruising ego, and good Merlin, her intelligence. Nothing bashing and sharp like Snape's mind, or twisted and painful like Voldemort's, but curved and fluid like wind or water. Foreign. Incredibly different and unexplored.
Her mind twisted under his and lashed out, angry and confused. Harry let go of her memories, but stayed on the outside of her walls. "Stop!" he shouted at her in his mind. "Stop I'm not going to hurt you I just—stop!" Her mind lashed out again, harder now that she knew how to hurt him, and slashed with anger, bitterness, pain, and hate. Harry drew himself farther backwards, but her attacks kept coming. Images of sharp teeth, claws raked with prey's blood and fire from her belly were shot through his mind, wave after wave, crashing against him and keeping him as immobile as his spell did on her. It was terrifying, and Harry couldn't help but remember the last time he'd faced a dragon, in Gringotts, and how different this was from then.
The image of Harry, Hermione, and Ron jumping onto its back and breaking out of the floor of Gringotts flashed bright in his memory. How he'd gotten away from the goblins, how they'd ridden the dragon to the lake, jumped off, and watched it fly off to freedom rolled like a video, and at the next moment, the dragon's mental attacks stopped. Her mind reached back into herself, for a moment, and Harry thought hard of the memory again. Hermione helping Harry helping Ron onto the white dragons back, and breaking through the ceiling to freedom outside. He concentrated on the image and the feeling of flying away into the sky on a dragon's back for the first time.
Her mind responded with an echoed memory of the white dragon flying away. Another image of the sky replaced that, sent straight to Harry, and he felt as if she had asked him a question. Sky? Harry didn't understand, and he felt her flash of annoyance. She gave him another image. An medieval form of armor. Black, scratched, and worn, but solid. Armor? Harry thought to himself.
He felt another flash of annoyance, but she said no more to him. Harry brushed aside his own frustration and pulled the images shed asked him to his mind front.
Armor and sky. That… Harry tried finding connections in his mind, but failed to see what she could be meaning. She was asking after the white dragon, Harry knew that much for sure, but sky? A human's armor? What could a dragon need with an old fashioned human's arm—and just like that, Harry understood.
It wasn't about the armor, but the idea of it. Safety. From an enemy, or from injury. The sky then, a place where human's couldn't go, and Dragons could overtake them even on broomstick, a place of safety for things with wings. She was asking if he was safe.
Harry opened his mind for her cautiously, and showed the white dragon flying away, happy in the sky, even though it was blind and malnutritioned. He gave her the sky image she'd given him and said "yes", or maybe the feeling of yes, he didn't know, but he gave it to her, and she pulled away from him, deep into her own mind. Harry tried to go after her, but she lashed out at him, not as sharply as she had to begin with, like she was sucking and twisting the life from him, but flat and bored, like a mother would slap a child's hand from a hot stove. Harry somehow, found that amusing. Him almost being mothered to by a dragon. He released her mind and stepped back from her slowly.
Jonathan stood still, quietly in the doorway. "What … did you just… did you?"
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"You were gazing soulfully into the dragon's eye. Don't give me that. Either you just made mental contact, or Charlie and you need to have a talk about bestialit—"
"Jonathan, shut up."
"But what are you doin—"
"Oh for Merlin's sake! Fine!" Jonathan through his hands in the air and leaned against the door frame. "By the way, the order arrived."
"You saw them?"
"Heard them more like. They heard us too, but I figure they have a bigger mess to deal with."
Harry looked at the close eyed dragon in front of him. "Right."
"Hey what do you think—"
The dragon's head moved upwards, and its eyes opened. Jonathan shut himself up without being asked. Harry stood completely still, and let the dragon find him. The spell had worn off. He didn't think she would attack him, not really, but if she did, well, Harry held the wand in his hand extra tightly just in case. The dragon zeroed in on Harry immediately, and lowered her head to his face. Harry stared at eyes as big as his whole hand, amazon jungle green, and untamed. She stared back at him, her gaze focused on him completely, before she reached her head back up to her body and puffed out a gust of smoke like she had just evaluated him and didn't find him all that spectacular.
Harry coughed the smoke away and glanced at Jonathan. "I uh… ready to go?"
"Will she let us?" Jonathan asked, looking over her skeptically.
"I think," Harry answered honestly.
Something blew up outside, and Jonathan jumped. "Yeah… sure let's go."
Harry glanced up at the dragon again. "Right, well … I'll be seeing you then." Harry turned on his heel, and he felt large eyes on his back all the way to the door. Looking up, Harry saw the ceiling in ragged holes, showing bits and pieces of the darkening sky.
"Harry?" Jonathan asked.
Harry stared up at the sky. "Why doesn't she just leave?"
Jonathan looked around the burning pieces of wood and extra candy. "I doubt she'll be able to stay here now, so I guess she'll have too. Come on, the Orders getting their robes handed to them."
"Right. Okay… bye," Harry didn't think that's what he should have been saying to her, but he didn't know what else to say. Go back and ask her why she's not leaving a burning house? Why she's guarding the entrance? How'd they get her to guard the entrance? No, Harry had another mission still unfinished and he hurried away from Honey Dukes cellar as fast as he could, leaving the dragon to herself in the suffocating flames.
Harry followed Jonathan to the front door of Honey Dukes and pushed him down beneath the front window. Outside, Order members were standing in a line against masked Death eaters holding captives in their hands with wands to their throats. "Human shields," Harry said under his breath.
"What?" Jonathan asked, straining to get a look as well.
Harry let him, but kept him low to the edge of the windows glass. "The people they're holding. They're using them as human shields."
"But they're just people."
"Better them get hit with a spell than themselves."
"So what do we do?"
Harry looked at Jonathan questioningly. What a … beginners thing to ask. Harry didn't like to think himself specially trained in this, but he knew not to ask questions in the middle of wizard pissing match. "Has the Order ever let you come with them to one of these?"
"A fight?" Jonathan raised his eyebrows. "No, mum would go mental."
"So this is your… first?"
Jonathan caught Harry's wary glance. "Not really no."
"Merlin," Harry muttered before turning back to the situation in front of them. "Alright, I'm going to need a wand. And you need yours. So I'm going to go fishing."
"Fishing? Since when do wands require a fish to— hey!" Jonathan whispered furiously. Harry ignored him and unlocked the door from Honey Dukes silently. He passed Jonathan his wand. "Stay here for a moment okay? Don't do anything… stupid," Harry warned. He turned away, crouched low to the ground, and ran deep through the streets, letting the shadows cover him and the corners hide his skinny frame.
"Now where to find a—" farther down a passage ahead of him a white masked Death Eater stood, watching the Order members and Death Eaters standoff with the prisoners. He could hear the two groups shouting at one another. "What have you got?" a Death Eater asked.
"Nothing you need to know of!" a short female Order member yelled.
"A dragon perhaps?" Another Death Eater asked. "Hiding all the way out here?"
"Fat chance!" Harry heard Fred yell.
"Don't you think if we had one, we'd use it against you?" George added.
"Shut your filthy little blood traitor mouths!" Harry's blood ran cold at the sound of Bellatrix's voice somewhere in the mix. Bellatrix Lestrange. Not so dead here.
Harry walked silently closer to the Death Eater, keeping his feet light and his breathing silent. Closer than a foot from Harry, the Death Eater turned. Harry saw the man's hand rise and Harry acted faster than he could think. Reaching his arm up, he slammed the heel of his palm against the guys nose, crunching bone and gushing blood down the gaps of the mask. The Death Eater reached to grasp his face, but Harry kneed him far lower than chest, and the man sank to his knees, unable to speak, to barely breathe through the blood and the mask. Harry ripped the wand from the man's hand and he felt a sliver of magic touch his fingertips and wind around his wrist. Well, he had dueled him and won. Sort of.
"Silencio," Harry whispered to the man, stopping him from groaning, or calling for help if he'd had enough breath to do so. He bound the Death Eater, knocked him out, and put a notice-me-not charm over him for when he came back later. Grasping the wand tightly, he crouched down, and ran his way back to where Jonathan was hiding near Honey Dukes.
Or more specifically, where Jonathan had been. Coming back, Harry realized Jonathan was no longer there. In fact, looking around wildly, Harry couldn't find out where he was. "Damn," Harry whispered.
"Oi! I've got another!" Harry heard a young, reedy voice announce from across the street. Harry ducked his head low, but became aware that no one was talking about him. It was about the wizard the reedy voiced Death Eater had in his arms.
"Jonathan," Harry muttered darkly. Stay here. That's what he'd said. Stay there. Don't do anything stupid. Walking away violated both of what he'd said. The little—
"What should we do with 'im?" the Death Eater asked, no more than sixteen years of age, coming down the lane, talking to a taller Death Eater with long, shiny, blonde hair. Harry narrowed his eyes. That was a Malfoy's hair, he was sure.
"You've caught another Potter? He'll go nicely with his sisters. Put him away," Lucious sneered with a flick of his head dismissively. Somewhere on the opposite side of the house, something exploded and Lucious frowned darkly. A roar, unmistakably a dragon's roar echoed across the alley. Harry grinned. So she hadn't just stayed where she was. She'd decided to get out and do something. Good for her. "This won't do, "Lucious said. He took off in the sound of the roar and blasts direction, his black robes whirling behind him, out of the alleyway. The short Death Eater nodded and bowed away from Lucious, and Harry followed slowly meters behind him.
The Death Eater held Jonathan at want point down the alleyway. He kept shoving him, taunting him with flames at the back of his neck, and whisper down his ear things that Harry couldn't hear. Around a corner they went, and then at the Three Broomsticks they stopped. "Inside," the Death Eater ordered.
"Why don't you take your wand and shove it up you—"
"Now! And I'll just keep your little wand with me all safe and sound. You won't need one where your going." The Death Eater shoved him, and Jonathan went through the front door on his chest. Reedy voice Death Eater laughed and put a head in the door. "I've got another one for you. Malfoy says it's a Potter." Something was said on the inside of the Three Broomsticks and the Death Eater laughed. "Have fun then, I hear there's a dragon around." The Death Eater turned, but then turned back around and poked his head in the door again. "Oh and don't forget the portkey will be here soon. Make sure there all ready to go. …Yeah, okay. Okay." He closed the Three Broomsticks door and Harry threw a stunner at him as soon as the lock had latched.
The Death Eater fell to the ground. Harry walked up to him and kicked the Death Eater over so he was face upwards. "Thanks for the help." He leaned down and checked his pockets, until he found not only Jonathan's wands, but four others as well. He took them out and then grabbed the Death Eaters own wand as well and bound the Death Eater to the ground. Moving as fast as he could, Harry dragged the man to the edge of the Three Broomsticks, and dropped him to the floor.
Now he just had to get insi—Harry felt a stunning spell fly past his head. He turned around fast enough to miss the second, and then the third aimed at him. He held up the wand he'd won and blocked the next two spells that were marginally darker. Meant to crack skulls. There were three of them. All impossibly young. Fifteen, sixteen maybe. Two short, and one of medium height. All stocky, and low to the ground. The tallest threw another curse, and Harry blocked it, his eyes going between the three robed Death Eaters.
"Haven't seen you before," one of the shorter ones said.
"Just joined up the Order huh? Bad mistake. More fun on the winning side," said the other.
"That was our friend you just killed," the tallest said.
"I didn't kill him," Harry said. "I only took away the rest of his lacking brain cells."
The tallest grimaced hatefully at him. "You think your funny, do yah?"
Harry grinned for him. "Funnier than you for starters." Harry tossed him another shit-eating grin. "Probably smarter too." He looked him up and down. "—and more handsome."
"Watch your mouth you muggle-lover. Intestina expellere!" The tallest Death Eater shouted.
Harry held up his wand and a shield covered him before the spell could hit. It bounced off, and disappeared into the brick walls around them. "Done yet?" Harry asked.
"Not by a long shot halfblood."
"You need new insults."
"Shut up I don't need you telling me what to say."
"I wouldn't if I could. I'd lose IQ points standing to close to you."
One of the shorter ones shot a body bine curse and Harry held the shield but immediately returned the fire. "Petrificus Totalus!" he shouted, and the flash of light hit him square in the chest. The boy fell to the ground, limp, and the other two turned for a second to look at their fallen comrade.
Harry aimed for the other shorter boy. "Expelliarmus!" he whispered into the air. The wand flew from the boys hand and the boy turned shocked at his loss. The wand fell between them and the taller boy was turning back around. Harry pointed his wand at the taller and shouted, "Levicorpus!" As the taller boy was turning his head back around, his feet were being dragged from beneath him, and in the next second he was hanging upside down in the air. The taller boy's wand fell from his hands and the last remaining boy reached out to grab onto it. Harry stunned him and then the taller boy before dropping him to the floor and binding all three up magically.
He didn't bother dragging the bodies somewhere to hide them, he just moved on and left them tied and unconscious on the floor. Harry walked to the Three Broomsticks and unlocked the door with his wand. "Jonathan!" He yelled coming in.
The once hospitable bar was overturned, and broken bottles and plates littered the floor. There were many faces he skimmed over, looking for just one, but he was able to recognize flaming red hair that only belonged to Ginny, blonde hair that said Luna and a couple other kids younger than him in the crowd. So they weren't dead then in this world, that was a comfort. They were huddled against the wall, their arms wrapped around their knees, or over one another. Cuts and bruises were visible on the faces, hands, arms and some legs, but nothing looked fatal. "Jonathan!" Harry yelled again, searching over the many kids faces. There must have been over thirty.
"Harry behind you!" Jonathan's voice came from his far right, but Harry turned on his heel immediately and raised his wand to his eyelevel.
Two Death Eaters came running at him, their wands raised high in the air like madmen. Harry focused in on them and let his instinct carry his words. "Everte Statum!" he shouted, and the two masked men flew backwards off their feet and through the wooden walls behind them.
Harry turned to the sound of Jonathan's voice and watched as Jonathan followed the departure of the two Death Eaters. "Holy mother of—"
"Let's go," Harry said, tossing Jonathan's wand to him. Jonathan caught it midair and twirled it in his fingers expertively. "Who knows how to use a wad better than the idiots in the other room?" Harry asked, shouting at the students staring at him. All younger. From about eight, he thought, to Luna or Ginny's age.
"I do," Ginny said, being the first to step up. "My friend Luna does as well."
"Do you know where your wands are?" Harry asked.
Ginny shook her head. "The man who grabbed Luna and I took them."
Harry pulled out the wands he'd taken from the Death Eater. "Any of these yours?"
Luna picked up one from the five he was holding up. "This is mine, and that's Harriet Ellesmere's," she said picking up a second wand with dark wood.
"Okay. Just pick one then. You're going to need a wand if we're getting them all out of here," Harry told Ginny.
Ginny picked one of the longer ones and turned towards Luna. "Alright let's go give it to Harriet." Ginny turned to him and held out her right hand. "I'm Ginny. Ginny Weasley."
"Just Harry," Harry faked a grin and turned to the rest of the people around them. "Older kids step up. If you know how to use a wand, come on then. We have to get everyone out of here, and I need volunteers."
Two older kids, one Harry remembered from his years old Slytherin house stepped up, and another, a girl two years younger than Harry, from Hufflepuff, accepted the wands. "Ready then?" he asked the gather of students around them. There were some nods, but they mostly just looks from one another to the unsteady kids around them, cautiously getting closer and closer.
"Ginny and Luna, you lead the front, take the kids out and go down to Honey Dukes. In the cellar, or… what's left of the cellar is a stair case. Take it. Go all the way through no matter what. It'll lead you straight into Hogwarts." Harry turned towards the three left. Harriet, a Slytherine, and Hufflepuff. "Harriet stay on the left side of the group, erm… you on the right," He pointed to the young Hufflepuff whose name he couldn't remember. "And you take the back. Make sure no one gets left behind. Keep them moving as fast as you can," he told the familiar Slytherin. He turned to Jonathan. "You, behind him. Follow him out."
"What? No, I'm staying with you." Jonathan took a step back like Harry was going to physically throw him out.
"Have you found your sisters?"
"Make sure they all stay safe. They're counting on you. Your parents, the Order, I need you to get them out safely, and then when they're all through to the other side, I need you to collapse the tunnel."
Jonathan frowned aghast. "Why! It's brilliant! We can—"
"The Dragon's not there to protect it right now. You can get in and get to Hogwarts, but if you can, then so can the Death Eaters." Jonathan paled and leaned back on his heels. "So we have to collapse the tunnel. They wanted all of you for something. Now I'm letting you go, but that's means they'll be after every one of the kids. They'll be after you. They'll follow you right into, hopefully with you, a trap."
Jonathan nodded his head with Harry's plan with growing excitement. "Get them trapped inside the tunnel then close it down on them."
"Exactly. Just make sure you do it and you do it fast, because they'll come after you with everything they have," Harry warned seriously.
"And you?" Jonathan asked.
"I have … stuff to do." He needed to figure out just how powerful Voldemort was here, and how out of his league he seemed to be. He needed more information, and not just one sided from the Order. "But I won't be gone long."
"So you're… you're staying here?"
Harry nodded. "I'll help the Order and your parents get as many Death—"
"Gabby! Nikki!" Jonathan interrupted Harry, yelling over him. "Come here!" Jonathan looked over his shoulder at a small corner of the room that seemed remarkably untouched, and watched as two identical looking girls with dark auburn hair and bright hazel eyes walked towards him with cautious eyes. Jonathan turned to Harry when the pair of girls had stopped beside him. "Harry, this is Gabriel and Nicole Potter. Gabby's in Ravenclaw, Nicole's in Hufflepuff. Gabby and Nikki, this is Harry. You'll probably be seeing each other a lot, so I thought I'd introduce you before we went off." They both looked incredibly familiar to their mother, but they had a mix of their parent's hair and they had James's eye color but a rounder shape of the eye. They stood at about Harry's chest level and the looked at him with piercing eyes, like they already knew his darkest and well kept secrets. They were a little off-putting.
Harry nodded at the girls and wondered if he should shake their hands. Is that what one did when meeting your little sisters from a different world, who weren't actually related to you, but somehow still kind of were? Harry didn't know, he settled on a nod, and the girls nodded back.
"You look like dad," the one named Gabby announced first off.
"Dad doesn't have a younger brother right?" Nikki asked.
"I'm sure of it."
"What's your last name then?" Nikki asked.
"It's just Harry," Harry said, looking down at them. "But listen, follow the group that's about to lead you, and go as fast as you can. Move and don't look back. Don't hesitate, just run, do you understand?"
Nikki nodded captured by his words, but Gabby looked untouched. "How many times exactly have you done this before?" she asked boldly.
Harry held back a sigh. "Jonathan, take care of your sisters, I'll see you later." He nodded once more to the two little girls and turned to Ginny. "You ready?" he asked.
"Sure, as I can be. You're sure there's no dragon waiting for me?"
Harry nodded. "Ninety percent sure."
Ginny lifted a ginger eyebrow. "Lovely." Harry looked off at the windows outside and saw the coming shadows of masked men. He grasped his wand tighter. Ginny followed his gaze and clapped her hands loudly at the room. "All right, no pushing , but everyone out. NOW. Move along, no, just go. Drop it, you don't need it right now. Go!"
Jonathan caught Harry's gaze one last time before he exited with the kids, and Harry nodded at him solemnly. It's wasn't like they weren't going to see each other again after this was all over with, but it made him feel better anyways. Jonathan turned from him, and Harry left the Three Broomsticks to find out where everyone else was. Seeing no one, Harry ran through the eerily empty streets by himself, looking through the shadows and the sharp corners.
Ahead of him, he heard the roar of a very, very angry dragon.
Chapter 9: Wings and Mirrors
Harry threw himself down the empty alleyways as fast as his legs would carry him. The setting sun strained at his eyes, but he pushed forwards, keeping his ears open for the next roar of a familiar dragon.
"Oi!" a white masked Death Eater with long arms and a short torso yelled at Harry as he ran by. "Come back here you—" Harry heard the shout of a Crucio behind him, and he swerved to the right, watching silently as the green flash of light passed the fabric of his shoulder by a few centimeters.
Harry threw a paralyzing spell over his shoulder at him, and kept on running. Now was not the time to be distracted by the odd Death Eater behind his ears. Behind him, he heard the crack of someone disapparating. Harry rounded a corner and saw a flare of ruby red flames reach upwards towards the sky like a backwards waterfall. A monstrous roar accompanied the burst of flame and Harry hurried still faster, trying to catch up the fray of spells and yelling at the next corner. Harry figured this was where all the fighting was happening. Where all the missing Order members and Death Eaters were.
Harry rounded the last corner and came running away from the edge of the town. Around him stood the tall and dark Forbidden Forest, and a few meters inwards, stood the emerald green dragon that he'd shared a mind with. Death Eaters and Order members were spread out around the grassy fields, covering behind trees and shooting spells faster than Harry could keep up with. Death Eaters were disapparating onto the field person after person, landing down with a steady ease and raising ready wands to the grossly outnumbered Order Members. Order members would disapparate away from spells aimed at them a moment before they touched down, and would reappear randomly at another point in the battle with a curse at their lips and their wands high in the air. Spells bounced harmlessly off the scales of the dragon, but Harry could see her right wing, protected against her body, bent at an odd angle and dragging on the ground. Rips and splatters of blood were flowing from missing scales or tears in her wings.
A spray of blood washed against the gleaming scales of the dragon, not her own, Harry was able to see, but an unrecognizable Order member who had been decapitated. The dragon roared, and Harry jumped, coming back to his senses. He ran to the edge of the battle as fast as he could. Though they had a dragon, the Order wasn't doing so well, and bodies were already covering more grass then stepped on.
Harry pointed his wand at the back of the nearest Death Eater. "Stupefy!" he shouted, and watched as the black robed man dropped to the ground, limp as a cloth doll. Harry stared at the body. But would he get back up? Would another Death Eater renerverate him and let him kill someone else while Harry was just stunning them? Harry leveled his eyes at the next closest Death Eater and ran farther into the fray. "Parum oculus!" he shouted, and the Death Eater fell to the ground, clawing at his eyes, unable to see. Harry stunned him as he passed, but a crushed boulder blasted away from somewhere to Harry's left fell from the sky, and landed directly on top of the Death Eaters face, spraying blood to the back of Harry's legs. Harry turned before he could get a better look and kept running.
"Distraho!" Wands broke into pieces in their hands. "Stupefy! Everte Statum!" Death Eaters were thrown off their feet and against tree trucks. Harry didn't watch to see necks break or odd branches poke through the bodies. He kept his eyes focused on wiping the field clean. To engage the Death Eaters enough that the kids down in the tunnels would have enough time to get away before someone found out and alerted the Death Eaters. Again and again his opponents fell to the ground, and again and again, more Death Eaters were forced to acknowledge a new threat at their backs. Wands were pointed at him and spells flew past Harry's ears, forcing him to duck and swerve away. He kept his wand up, but he counted the number of masks looking at him. He was far outnumbered. Twelve? Seven? Fifteen to one? Too many faces at once. Wands came up at him.
"Come on then!" he yelled, pointing his wand at them evenly. "Let's see what you can do!"
"James Potter!" someone yelled at him, throwing a curse that Harry ducked to the right to avoid.
"Not quite," Harry yelled back, and brought his strongest shield around him. "Densaugeo!" he shouted, and another fell black cloaked man fell to the ground with a hole through his stomach.
The group advanced at him and multicolored curses lit the air. "Incarcerous!"
More and more spells came at him, and Harry could barely raise his wand fast enough to defend himself. He didn't have time to even think of a spell, much less cast one. He took a step backwards, and the Death Eaters advanced with triumphant loping steps. Harry was stuck. More than stuck. He could quite possibly die right here if something didn't happen. Distract them. For a second. One split—
The dragon roared and a wave of orange and red flames descended from above the group down on them. Grass, cloaks, hair, skin, and bone was melted from the downpour and the Death Eaters screamed their pain at Harry as they dropped to the ground, dying or dead. Order members took the roar as a warning and disapparated before the fire could reach them. Some Death Eaters hadn't been so lucky, and newly apparated Death Eaters were caught in the burning before they'd had time to realize their feet were on solid ground again. Twitching limbs and burnt blood was left when their echoes faded, and Harry watched with wide eyes as the last of the eight Death Eaters that had been in front of him stopped living. Shock was something he was used to pushing away, but the empty caution left in his mind from the heat enveloped him for a moment before he could blink or remember to breathe in.
A red curse passed his face with a hair of space between him, just barely missing, and someone screamed out Harry name in warning. "HARRY!"
Harry snapped back into himself. He ignored the melted flesh and smell of burning bodies. He pulled himself back into the present and lifted his wand at the first Death Eater he saw passing. "Expelliarmus. Incarcerous!" Snake thick ropes appeared from the fabric of the Death Eater's clothes and wrapped around him like vines on a tree, pulling him to the ground and keeping him unmoving while his wand flew through the air, lost to the flying spells and trampling feet of the battle.
Harry turned towards the sound of his name and came eye to eye to the worried face of Lily Potter. "Harry," she breathed out, running to a stop in front of him and sweeping her gaze over him like she was checking for blood. "Are you alright?"
"Fine," Harry answered listlessly. "You?"
Lily looked up into his eyes and flashed him a tired grin. Someone screamed behind her, and Lily automatically held an arm out to Harry, and swept her eyes around them, looking for a threat. "Jonathan?" she asked Harry, pointing her wand upwards and shooting off a spell somewhere to Harry's right.
"Safe," Harry answered honestly.
"All of them?"
"Yes," Harry answered.
"Where?" Lily asked, eye eyebrows together.
"In the tunnels under the school, the secret passage ways."
Lily glanced at him briefly. "How do you—" Lily turned back towards the battle and closed her lips tightly together. "Nevermind," she said, looking over to the dragon. "So it was you who released the dragon then?"
"Not on purpose," Harry said, knocking a Death Eater out who was about to strike down a small blonde Order Member with an angular face. "But it looks to have turned out for the best."
Lily nodded humorlessly. "She has. Natara's gotten the best of the Death Eaters who came through the borders first."
"Natara?" Harry asked, thinking of the dragon. So that was her name, he thought to himself. But then, Lily said a border had fallen. "How did the Death Eaters get in?" Harry asked, shouting to Lily over a roar from the dragon.
"Someone took down the shields against dark magic, humans, and dissaparation," she yelled back.
"We don't know. Someone already from inside the shields."
"So a traitor."
"That's what Moody tells me," Lily slashing her wand downwards and releasing a dark purple curse that flew out of Harry's eyesight.
"The plan then?"
"Get the shields back up." A Death Eater with the stomach of a wine barrel came thundering towards them with his robes whipping around his fat frame. Two or three Death Eaters joined with him like a heard of advancing horses and Harry turned in time with Lily to face the coming threat. They lifted their wands together, and without a word, flicked them down like the next tock of a ticking clock. Green and blue flashed from their wands and one of the three fell face first into the dirt. Lily's hand reached into the back of her robes and pulled out a small vile of a dark blue substance. Lily held out her arm to Harry as he was about to throw another curse. "Cover your eyes."
Harry's wand stopped halfway down and he frowned. "Why would—"
Lily threw the potion out at the Death Eaters and took a step back, pulling Harry with her. Like slow motion, the potion flew through the air, and when it touched down on the ground, the glass broke, but the blue potion inside lit up like a Christmas light and turned a golden yellow. It expanded outwards in a golden mist that blew outwards with the force of a bomb, exploding up and out right in front of Death Eaters. The potion became brighter and brighter, and Harry had to look away at the ground to keep his eyesight.
When the light had passed and he could look back again, Harry could only see the crisp clothes of smoking fabric left from the remains of the Death Eaters. "What—" Harry started to say.
"An exploding potion," Lily answered, coming right behind Harry. "I don't have many left, but here, take this—" Lily shoved a bottle at Harry's hands and Harry grasped at it firmly, less it fall and kill them all. "—and help the dragon."
"What?" Harry asked, thrown back. "why—"
"You released her, you take care of her," Lily said, her green eyes piercing at him. Harry hadn't noticed before, but blood was dripping from her forehead down the side of her face to her chin. There were dark colors under her eyes and her face suddenly looked too thin. Like skin stretched just barely over sharp bone. "We need to get as many Death Eaters out before the shields come back up."
"Who's getting them up?"
"Dumbledore and James. They're both gone to replace them." A shot of a flashing curse behind her spun Lily around and Harry watched silently as she shot off a curse wordlessly, her face concentrated and cold. She spun back around to Harry and met her eyes with his. "Try and stay alive."
"So dragon, and live. Right," Harry nodded.
Lily gave him a sort of half smile and lifted her eyes to the scene around them, taking everything in. At least for the moment, the battle seemed to be happening to fast for it to really care about Lily and Harry. It went on around them, but unlike Lily, Harry kept his eyes on the red haired woman in front of him and ignored the battle surrounding him. Lily's eyes wandered, dreamlike over Harry's shoulder. "We need a distraction," she whispered, her voice old and worn.
Harry turned his head a little to the right, in front of her eyes and Lily's attention focused on him. Harry grinned for her a little from the side of his mouth. An idea was forming in his head and it made a small part of him leap like an excited child. "I can do that." He pulled backwards and flashed Lily the potion bottle in his hands. "Watch the skies for me," he said before turning away without another word.
Harry heard his name shouted behind him, but he picked up his pace and started running away from the sound of her voice. He ducked under spells, and arms, and ran as fast as he could to the giant green scaled dragon sitting in the very middle of the destruction. Remus's face passed him, and he barely nodded in recognition before he was pushing, shoving, and stunning people as he passed.
Soon enough, Harry was standing feet away from the thickly muscled legs of Natara, with no Death Eater immediately around. Her large head turned towards him, teeth barred menacingly, and Harry put his hands up in surrender. She stopped short, and her eyes narrowed in on him. Harry stared back her and saw a glinting recognition in her green eyes. She huffed, turning her head, like she was saying Oh. You. Took you long enough, I thought I was going to have to eat them all on my own.
A red curse flew over Harry, bouncing off the dragon's green scales. Harry shifted his angle, pointed, and shot. He shot spell after spell, at every white mask he saw. Some evaded and rolled, some fell and toppled to the grass. It became a sort of rhythm, Harry thought, he'd attack as he saw and the Death Eaters did the same against him. The dragon roared and spit fire for those who got too close, and got smashed by a whipping tail or shredded by sharp claws. Harry was ignoring the blood sprayed from levitated rocks or branches, the nicks of attacks that made holes in his robes or slashes from an over excited blasting charm. He just kept moving, kept his eyes open, and his wand pointed.
But then Bellatrix laughed. It wasn't an evil laugh, per say, it wasn't even all that loud. It sounded only meters away, but the sound none the less stopped him for a second, because he knew that laugh. From the last time he'd seen her, at Hogwarts. Laughing and twirling about as she cut down his classmates and friends. Smiling as unblinking eyes fell away from the tip of her wand and landed still warm on Hogwarts's grounds. He knew it, and it froze his limbs for a split second.
A split second was all that was needed for those opposite him. Faces unseen, the various Death Eaters across from Harry seemed to decide together that now was the time to attack. Like a tsunami, all at once, curses flew from their wands and descended over Harry before he could blink. He raised his wand arm above his head, his mind screaming spells, but he could only shield a few, that he knew for a certain fact. "Protego Maximus!" he yelled, and the spell threw him back a couple feet, a blue lighted shield rising above him. Spells bounced off of top of the shield, but some came down before the shield was completely up and one caught Harry's left arm.
A blinding pain. Red hazed. Fire consuming. He yelled, maybe screamed, he didn't remember. All he remembered was the feeling of ripping flesh, like someone was scratching his skin off with razored fingernails. Digging a hole into his arm muscles and carving his skin like wood with salt and lemons. Harry felt blood down his arm, and he felt his legs give out under him. He fell on his knees and looked up.
The Death Eaters had seen him fall, and like in a slow motioned muggle movie, Harry saw them raise their wands again to finish him.
Your wand! A familiar voice seemed to yell at him in his head. Harry use your wand! But he couldn't lift his wand arm. It was stopping the blood from his other arm. Keeping flesh from falling. He couldn't—didn't have time to—
Harry felt the ground tremble and the echoed blast of Natara's roar beside him. Hairs rose on the back of Harry's neck. He looked back, and the one unhurt wing of the dragon was unfolding itself from her side and reaching over Harry like a green scaled sky. Harry looked up as it passed over him, and spells from beyond the protection of the wing bounced off her scales back at them. Harry smiled.
He turned to look at the face of his savior and the smile dropped from his face. The dragon's eyes were closed. Pain, he thought. Closed in pain. Her breathing was labored like she was fighting for her breath and her horned head flinched from a blast of an exploding boulder outside. She was weak. Very weak. And she wouldn't be able to protect him forever. Not like this.
Harry looked at his bleeding arm and grimaced. He wouldn't be able to either. Episky, he thought. He brought his wand up and thought it again, this time concentrating on what he wanted. The blood vanished for a split second before it started going again and Harry was able to see how bad he'd been hurt. He grimaced again. It didn't look good. It was like the front side of his arm had been blown away. Skin was missing from beneath the shoulder to the middle of his bicep. It wrapped around to underneath the arm and Harry looked away. Luckily, it didn't look too deep, but damn did it hurt.
He didn't have any wraps with him, disinfectant wipes, or otherwise. He had his wand though, and running through the spells he knew, he's only heard of one that might be able to help him. It was something Snape had used when Harry had cursed Draco with Sectumsempra in his sixth year. Harry pointed his wand at his arm, letting the blood run down his arm. Merlin he hoped he was going to do this right.
"Vulnera Sanentur," Harry said, remembering the pronunciation. He concentrated on his arm to stop bleeding. The wound stopped bleeding and Harry sighed with relief. "Vulnera Sanentur," he said again closing his eyes, careful to say the words correctly, and to concentrate on what he wanted done. He opened his eyes and took a look down. He swallowed back his stomach when he saw that his skin was starting to knit back together. Not all the way, but enough where we could wrap a bandage around it and call it a job well done. "Ferula," Harry whispered, watching as a bandage appeared around his arm tightened around the half-healed skin. It still bled through the bandage, but not as much as it had been.
He looked up Natara who was staring at him with severe eyes and watching his movements closely. "Alright," he said quietly. "Now your turn."
She huffed and smoke filled his nostrils. Like you could help me, her gaze seemed to say.
"I can," Harry insisted. "Your wing? Let's just finished this. I can get us both out of this and chase them all right out." Her eyes narrowed in on him and she leaned forwards dangerously close to his face. "You ready?" he asked defiantly into her eyes.
The dragon blinked at him and leaned away, pulling her head away, and roaring outside of the protection of her wings at the battle outside. Harry ran back to the end of her wing near the tail. He could see a series of flashing lights, but he kept going until he was ducking under the back end of her wing and standing close to the base of her tail.
No one noticed him standing there at first, too many were engaged in someone else. Harry took the opportunity and ran behind the unmoving tail. There was no way he was going to make it to the other side of her, and he couldn't climb up, but he could use her own leverage for him to reach her back.
Looking in front of him, Harry saw that her tail was tapered out from the base to the tip, and a series of sharp, brownish black sharp pikes stood out from the center of her tails scales. Harry would have to go up at an angle.
"Right," He told himself, and then started running before his brain could catch up to stop him. Harry's shoes slipped the first step he took, running up the side of the dragon's scaled tail, but before he could fall off the side, he was pushing his other foot forwards and he was running faster and faster up the end of the dragon.
Harry felt the tail moving upwards and Harry didn't have time to yell out before his feet slipped out from under him and he was on his way, falling butt first down the rest of her tail and onto her back like an enormous green scaled slide. He grabbed onto the closest spike's base before he could fall off, and her tail lashed out at the ground, slamming Death Eaters to the rooted grass.
Harry pulled himself onto the top of her back, a smooth section on her scaled body where no spikes were found, and the wings came together at her back. Harry leaned to her right wing, hanging limply at the ground, close to her body. "This is either going to be very good. Or very bad," Harry heard himself say out loud. He'd either get a very pissed dragon, or a boneless dragon, and Harry wasn't sure which would be worse. Harry guessed he was going to die either way after this.
He raised his wand and pointed it downwards at the oddly angled wing. Human bones were weaker than a dragon's bones, Harry knew that for sure. They were also more dense, their scales usually impervious to all magic attacks, but would it accept magic help to heal a broken bone in the wing? Harry grimaced and figured he'd find out one way or another now. A green flash of light sped across his vision, and he leaned backwards, almost directly into a spike, to miss from being cursed. He leaned back forwards and closed his mind of all other things except the wing in his mind.
"Harry look out!" someone from below yelled, and Harry automatically leaned backwards and opened his eyes. A flash of a red spell crossed in front of his nose and Harry went cross eyed for a moment, trying to spot it as it flew by him. It passed him, just barely, and Harry looked downwards at who ever had yelled at him.
Bill was just below him, throwing out curses like it was second nature. "Bill?" Harry shouted.
Bill sent a spell at a death eater facing two other Order Members as well, and turned to Harry with an incredulous expression. "A dragon?" He yelled, like Harry had just given him a very hard arithmetic question.
"Do you know how to fix broken bones?" Harry shouted.
"What?" Bill shouted back at him, over the roar of dozens of fighting witches and wizards.
"Bones! Do you know how to fix bones!"
"Brackium Emendo!" Bill shouted, ducking, and looking up at Harry from near the Dragon's feet. "Why? Did you break your—"
"Are you sure!" Harry shouted. Emendo meant heal, Harry thought, but Brackium? Wasn't that meant for hand, or forearm or something? Would that work on a dragon?
"How about on a dragon?"
"Er—" Bill lifted a piece of the ground into the air and shot it forwards at a coming Death Eater. "No?" Bill shot another spell. "Different bones and such."
"Do you know what the wing's called then?"
Harry leaned over the side of the dragon and shot off a curse at a Death Eater who was aiming at Bill's head from the side. "The wing! Of the dragon! What's its name!"
Bill turned around, and ducked, red faced, and bleeding from the side of the head. "It's got more than one bone!" he shouted shortly.
Harry turned quickly to look at the unmoving wing. It was the front one, he suspected, as the scales were torn at the front, and it looked uneven from his height. Harry turned back to Bill. "The front one!" he shouted as loud as he could over the battle below.
"Of the wing?!"
"Front bone!" Harry repeated.
"The thick or skinny ones?"
Harry glanced back. "The skinny!"
Bill looked upwards, like we was asking the advice of a cloud above him. "Er—"
"Bill!" Harry shouted.
"Duck!" Harry yelled, twisting in his unbalanced seat and throwing a shield around Bill from an incoming sickly yellow curse. Bill ducked, and came back up panting, and looking a little lost.
"The spar bone!" he boomed grinning, like he was celebrating his own genius. "Charlie called it a spar bone, I remember!"
"Know a spell that could fix it?"
"No! Why would—"Bill ducked away, under a passing spell, and Harry found himself alone on top the dragon without Bill's guidance anymore.
Harry turned to the head of Natara, and three separate spells flew out around him. Harry. "Sorry," he shouted at her, hoping she heard him. Harry lifted his wand and narrowed his eyes at the oddly bent bone. If he couldn't find the word to fix a certain bone, maybe he could just say fix and hope for the best. "Emendo!—"Harry thought about the wing for a split second and focused downwards again, words played out in his mind. "—Maximus!"
His wand tip lit like an electric blue light, the wood vibrating beneath his fingers, and Harry watched as a dazzling dark blue and green light shot from the end of his wand at the front of Natara's wing.
Natara roared, her neck arching into the sky like she was convulsing, and her teeth snapping dangerously into the sky. Her roar boomed across the battle ground, putting a lull into the battle, like they were awaiting orders for the next moment. Harry hung onto the back of the dragon with his arm wrapped around a spike as hard as he could. Natara's tail lashed out at the ground, and Death Eaters and Order members alike backed away.
Harry looked at the wing, his eyes straining from the movement of being nearly thrown off, but when he did get a clear view, he smiled. It had worked. There were a few missing scales, some blood from puncture wounds, but mostly, the wing was intact. She could fly.
"Brilliant," Harry grinned.
Natara's roar died off and one of her large green eyes turned to look back at him, like she was assessing whether or not to kill him. Harry swallowed and looked down at the silent battle ground below him. "Shall we?" he asked, looking back into her eye. Natara looked at him, taking in his face, he thought, for a moment longer before turning her head right back around and roaring, what he thought, was a triumphant shout.
Her wings spread out across the opening of the Forbidden Forest and Harry looped an arm back around a spike. Harry looked down, and made eye contact with the first person her saw, Bill. "Let's finish this!" Harry shouted as loudly as he could, his voice hoarse from the never ending day already.
Bill raised his wand into the air and shouted his agreement, causing Order members to shout along with him, and start a crashing wave of exploding cries. "For Hogwarts!" someone shouted, and like a mocking bird given a new sound, others took on the chant and Death Eaters fell back a step confused and suddenly wary.
Natara's wings beat up and down, and Harry realized he was somehow meters off the ground. Order members cheered, and Death Eaters became defensive, raising wands and backing into shadows of the forest. Looking down, Harry saw one Death Eater, particularly close to Bill, pointing his wand at the back of Bill's head.
"Duck," Harry shouted, not really caring who heard and blasted the Death Eater back, through the air and into a waiting tree. His body flew, and when it landed, it was like someone had blown a whistle at the beginning of a dodge ball game, because suddenly everyone had their wands in the air and was blasting each other apart.
Natara flew higher into the sky, her wings bringing them farther upwards with every beat of her wings. Soon, Harry could make the outlines of the battle but nothing more. Wind rushed through his hair and the smell of smoke was in his mouth, drying his throat and nearly causing him to choke.
"Natara," Harry coughed. "Natara!"
The edge of a green eye looked back at him, like she was listening.
"You have to get us back down there. We need to be the distraction they need!" The wind rushed at his mouth, seeming to blow away his words. Natara was still looking at him though, focused and silent. Her eyes were digging into his, and Harry knew she could understand. He knew. "Natara go down!" he cried with a shout over the wind.
Natara turned her head back to the front and her wings beated slowly in the air. Like the top of a roller coaster Harry had seen on the telly at one point, Natara stopped her wings midflight, and arched her back high into the sky, her body hanging downwards, unmoving in her first seconds. Harry could feel his heart beat in his fingertips.
Then without a sound, Natara's head dipped farther downwards and Harry began to fall. The wind smacked his face and nearly blew his glasses off his nose. His stomach plunged into the deepest pit of his body, his blood raced, he didn't feel he could breathe, and it was wonderful. Maybe better than being on a broom. He was falling, but it wasn't terrifying at all, it felt exhilarating. Like he had binged on a package of chocolate frogs for the last two days and he was just now able to get out and release his energy. Harry smiled and whooped at the air, flinging his hands outwards and just letting his legs hold him in place as he fell through the sky.
In front of him, the dragon seemed to snort, like she was amused, and Harry reached back down for the pike in front of him. He could see the ground coming up at Natara and himself and he narrowed his eyes at the battle below as it became clearer and clearer. Harry grimaced at the sight and tightened his legs around Natara. "On my count!" he yelled. Natara didn't turn her head to him.
They got lower and lower to the ground and Harry leaned to one side, trying to figure out the best place for a target. He didn't expect Natara's entire body to turn with his leaning weight and he leaned the other way as soon as he saw they were turning. Harry breathed deeply, and turned his head instead to find a way in. So like a broomstick, Harry thought to himself.
Natara snuffed smoke in the air like she could read his thoughts and was offended. Harry grinned at the thought. Alright, like a vastly larger broomstick who can breathe fire and has claws, Harry thought, and Natara had nothing to say back, like she was satisfied.
Weird, Harry thought. Almost like she can read my—no…
Can she? Harry caught himself and blinked. Can you?
Natara snorted fire again, and Harry got a distinct impression of amused annoyance. Like a mother telling a toddler not to knock over the food bowl off their highchair. Good Merlin.
A group of Death Eaters on the ground had their wands pointed together at the sky, aimed at him, and away from the rest of the war. Harry pushed away his new information into the back of his mind, narrowed his focus on the group, and leaned his body in their direction. Together Harry and Natara flew over them, arching around their circle. "Now!" Harry yelled out loud and in his mind. He brought his wand down on the group and Natara began to breath fire down on them as well. Harry thought that they didn't stand a chance.
Leaving smoke and burning flesh behind them, Harry moved on from the remains of the Death Eaters and back into the rest of the battle. He cast spells when he saw an individual outnumbered or about to die, but mostly, Natara was wiping the field with fire. Order members had disapparated from the field when she had come down with Harry to stay away from the fire, and had reappeared at the edge of the forest, starting a wall of good magic, and protecting the forest while Natara and Harry took out the loads from above them.
Harry didn't keep track of the time. He just saw one target after the next, over and over again, lost in the battle. Lost in the panic that someone would die if he wasn't right there to help. If he and Natara weren't fast enough, or bright enough to burn the killers around them. Death Eater after Death Eater fell, disapparated away, or deflected the spell and fire. Several of them even fought back, putting a hole in Natara's wing, and throwing spells at her underbelly. None of it slowed them down, but it made Harry aware of just how long he'd been in the sky.
It was dark now. The sun had set a long time before him, and the only light was the fire that sat on the ground from Natara's breath.
Death Eaters had started to disapparate from the grounds, and had been gone for good almost an hour. They only came back to throw a sneak attack at the edges of the forest, or a potion up at Natara, but then immediately they would disapparate away again, alive and unhurt. The shields weren't still up. Harry flew over the edges of the Forbidden Forest and saw Lily standing on guard with other order members.
With most of the Death Eaters gone, Harry felt as though he'd completed his job, and mentally asked for Natara to land them both down near the edge. Natara complied, her feelings of exhaustion and wariness leaking over into his mind and feelings. She landed hard onto the ground, her body weight against her, making her nearly fall over her own feet, and Harry was thrown forwards in his slick seat. Harry turned his face away, but his shoulder wasn't so lucky from the impact and when he fell forwards with the landing, his left shoulder was impaled threw the first spike in front of him.
Harry didn't feel anything at first, too lost in his own hazy tiredness to really understand what had happened, but when he felt that he couldn't move backwards, and he tried to yank himself away, the pain hit and Harry nearly threw up at the sudden crashing pain exploding behind his eyes and feverish fire racing through his veins. Harry cried out, gagging on his own breath, and he saw Natara's head snap up and turn to him.
He saw a mental image of himself through her eyes, bent over himself, bleeding on her back, and a sinking feeling of … something as she watched him. Her head came forwards and she huffed a thin trail of smoke from her nostrils. Dimly, Harry heard his name being shouted from somewhere to his left. He couldn't find the strength to lift his head towards its direction, so instead, he pulled himself away from the spike, inch by bloody inch.
He breathed deeply through every pull out, and by his last inch, he was gasping like he'd just gone a round in quidditch. He threw himself backwards, pulling himself away from the spike, and his wand hand came to cradle his shoulder.
"Harry…" His vision was going blurry, and he swore the world was spinning upwards from him. "Harry… Harry…" He couldn't breathe, he thought. He couldn't blink, or breathe, or scream or— "HARRY!" Someone's hands were at the sides of his face, tipping his head up. Harry's eyes opened, looked up, and at the same time his ears started working for him again.
"—shields holding for now though we still—"
"—breathing fire are you insane? He could—"
"—okay? He doesn't look too well. Is that blood—"
Harry leaned back from the hands at his face and found that he was on the grass, surrounded by people who were lost in their own conversations. Arguments were thrown across from his body in the circle that they'd made and once red blood on their faces seemed brown in the darkness of the night. Harry strained to see masks, and as he found none, the back of his mind suggested that he was lying in front of Order members. He didn't know which would have been worse.
His arm still hurt from the blast of the Death Eaters he'd tried to heal himself, and then the spike through his shoulder on the same arm, Harry felt nauseous, tired, and in pain every time he breathed out. He started to close his eyes again, but a hand on his face made him look upwards. A curtain of red hair and green eyes looked down at him with a relieved smile. "Harry," Lily breathed out softly, wiping something from his face with the edge of her robes.
"The shields—" Harry said trying to get himself up from the floor.
Lily pushed him back down onto the grass gently. "Are fine. They've been fixed, and all the Death Eaters were banished out from Hogwarts grounds."
Harry let Lily keep him down on the grass. Frankly, he didn't think he'd be able to actually get up all the way anyways. "The Order?" he asked.
Lily looked up at the arguments going on around her. "Most are fine. We lost a few today, some were grievously injured."
"How many died?" Did it matter? Had he done enough?
Lily swallowed and smiled at him. "Less than we'd expected from an invasion against Hogwarts. Thanks to Hagrid's quick message, you, and to Natara." Her smile turned soft and she pushed hair away from Harry's face that must have had some dried blood caked in somewhere. "The Order thanks you."
"And the kids?" Harry asked, blinking past a dark shadow that seemed to want to cover over his eyes.
"Safe in Hogwarts as far as I—"
"Lily! Lily, theres—"
"James!" Lily's eyes left Harry's, but her hands remained in his face, which Harry was grateful for. He didn't think he'd slip away just yet when Lily was right in front of his face, talking to him. "Over here, I'm—"
Harry heard stomping feet and a few people shout for others to be careful. "Lily, I heard about the drago—what's going—Harry?"
Harry couldn't find the energy to move his head to look at James, so he kept his gaze focused on Lily. "James," she said with another relieved smile. She looked down at Harry. "He fell off the dragon when Natara landed. I think he might have impaled himself on one of her front spikes, and he had a blasting curse that nearly took his arm right here. He's lost a lot of blood and the Order physicians won't be here until—"
"Lily, love, it's okay. We'll take care of him. We might be able go to my parent's house and let my mum have a look at him if there isn't enough space here."
Harry grimaced as he didn't particularly feel like moving thanks.
"—But that's not our only problem. The kids—"
Harry's eyes closed and his hearing wandered away for a moment. What had he said? Kids? The kids, did he know they'd been—
"—gone. Jonathan just found me. Ginny went after her, and got taken as well."
"Ginny and Luna?" Lily whispered, a tired sadness closing over her face.
"Gin?" Harry asked, shaking his head and pulling his eyes open. What had happened? Ginny wasn't there? Luna? Taken?
Lily looked down at Harry. "Two were taken Harry. Some older kids wanted to come and help, and Luna had gone against them, but they went anyways. Luna followed after them and—"
Harry didn't want to hear anymore. He knew what happened after that. Ginny and Luna were gone. Taken. He let his eyes close in around himself, letting the blackness comfort his pain and sudden fear that reached up from the base of his spine. He needed to sleep. To heal. He needed—
Harry's consciousness fell with his last thought and then all he knew was the comforting blackness.
Sunlight woke him up.
Familiar sunlight that always streamed right into his eyes when he least wanted it blinded him as he slowly opened his eyes and squinted at the infirmary he knew he must have been laying in. Looking to the night stand beside his bed, and finding his glasses, Harry put the square lenses on his nose and blinked his vision back correctly into place. It was morning then. Or afternoon, if Harry was looking at the sun position in the sky correctly.
Harry looked down at himself and saw that his entire left was nearly wrapped with white bandages, and his shoulder was wrapped as well but also with a cooling spell that felt like ice across his back. There were other small bandages around his legs, and newly fresh skin that seemed to cover the small nicks and scratches he'd gotten from falling rocks and too-close-misses. Harry sighed. It looked better than he felt at least.
Harry looked around the infirmary on his left and right and surveyed the damage. He wasn't surprised to see every bed taken in the room for medical treatment, as he had just come out of a battle, but he was surprised to see a completely unconscious Jonathan sitting on a stool at the end of his bed with his face squashed into the covers where his feet would be. Harry snorted at the scene. A sharp pain shot up his chest and across his back at the movement, and Harry's laughs died with a wince.
"I wouldn't move Mr. Potter, not many can say they've lived through what you did last night, and only a boy too," Madam Pomfrey said walking in from her office with her red and white medical robes pristine as ever.
"How long have I been here?" Harry asked.
"Fourteen hours," Madam Pomfrey answered shortly. "You'll need to stay for at least the night as well to see if we can grow back the muscle damage done to your arm when the Blasting curse took most of your skin."
"Just tonight?" Harry asked with an amazed eyebrow.
"I have other patients that need my attention Mr. Potter."
Harry felt like that had been a scolding for some reason. He swallowed and nodded to her politely. "It's just Harry Madam."
Madam Pomfrey glanced at him from the corner of her eye. "'Just Harry'?" she asked, and Harry nodded. She blinked at him, and Harry was suddenly reminded of how very different these worlds were. In his world, Madam Pomfrey would have been strict yes, but she was also always doting and careful about her tone with patients. "Well Harry, you're lucky. Without the treatment you gave yourself to the arm, you would have lost too much blood and would have died."
Harry looked at her slightly shocked. "Madam?" He hadn't told her he'd done it himself.
"I know a patch job when I see one Mr—Harry. Next time, I'd advise to use Sana Cutem. It heals the skin."
Harry nodded and smiled from the side. A thought came from last night and he looked up warily. "Madam Pomfrey, the children that were taken last night, have they been found?"
"Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood? No, I'm afraid not. They're still missing." Madam Pomfrey raised her wand over Harry's head and down his left side, her brows coming together at the middle in a frown.
"But they are looking, right?"
Madam Pomfrey glanced at him again. "Yes, of course Harry, they'll search until they find them."
"All right," Harry said, nodding to himself.
Madam Pomfrey turned her wand on him and glared like she had heard a dark whispering in his head. "And that does not mean you can just get up and leave because your 'bravery' commends you to do so, do you understand me Mr. Potter? I'll not have sick patients leave before I release them. If I so much as find you out of bed without my permission, I'll tie you to that bed and spoon feed you through every meal , do you hear me?"
Harry's eyes widened and he nodded his head silently. Yes. Fine. No, he would not be getting out of bed then. Good. He'd just stay right here. Yes.
Madam Pomfrey smiled thinly. "Good. Now get some sleep. The muscle regenerative potions I've given you for your arm and shoulder will most likely make you sleepy and thirsty. If you need water, just give a shout and I'll come running alright?"
"Yes Madame Pomfrey," Harry nodded.
"Good," she smiled. "Now sleep." With that, she turned away from him and glanced at every bed before she retired back into her office.
Harry watched her leave, and then turned to look back at the sleeping Jonathan. His face was completely squished into the covers, making his lips look like he was pulling a fish face and his eyebrows were drawn together like he was looking at something in his dream world that he didn't agree with. He looked like a mad fish, and Harry laughed lightly, making sure not to move his shoulders and chest too much.
"Harry?" Ron's voice echoed from the right.
Harry's head snapped up and turned to the right, towards his name. Ron had definitely said it. It was definitely Ron's voice. Beside Harry's bed, just hanging in the air like a mirror hung on a wall, a small circular blue and whitish portal entrance stared at Harry with Ron's open mouthed face in the middle, like it was Ron who was shocked to see Harry and not the other way around.
"Ron?" Harry asked quietly.
"Harry?" Ron asked again, coming closer so that it was just Ron's face in the portal thing.
"Ron? What are—what are you doing here? How did you find me? What is this—" Harry exploded in questions, whispering his excitement at the image of his best friend. He leaned forwards in bed, ignoring his muscles screaming their opinions as he settled forwards.
"Harry, where are you mate? The whole world's gone mental trying to find you." Ron looked at Harry closely, taking in the bandages and bed. "Are you… no, you can't be at Hogwarts, can you?"
"Not really," Harry said slowly.
"Not really?" Ron asked confused. "But it looks like—"
"I am in Hogwarts, Ron, but it's not—"
"What? Well, brilliant! Dunno why Mc Gonagall didn't tell us yet if your there. Unless you just got—"
"Ron I'm not at our Hogwarts!" Harry said quickly, cutting him off desperately, whispering and looking around the room at the sleeping people around him.
Ron did a double take. "What? What do you mean 'not at our Hogwarts'? There's only one in the world mate, you must know th—"
"Exactly Ron, there's only one in the world, and I'm in someone else's Hogwarts."
A confused dawning of understanding spread across his face. "You- you're… that's not possible Harry."
Harry gave him a dry look. "I'd love that to not be true Ron, but you're looking at me sitting in the infirmary at Hogwarts… just in a different world."
Ron stared at Harry and opened his mouth like he was going to say something, but then unexpectedly shut it and continued to stare. "Well, how—how did you , you know, get there?"
Harry sighed, and blew the clean hair off of his forehead to the side. "Blood magic apparently."
Ron's eyes widened and he leaned closer to the portal. "But that's illegal!"
"I don't really think they cared about that Ron."
Ron flushed and looked around Harry's bed. "What happened to you? Did they… " Ron's eyes narrowed on the bandages. "Did they beat you?"
"What?" Harry asked shocked, and looked down at himself. "No, Oh Merlin, no, no, Ron, they didn't do this to me. I ran into a lot of Death Eaters."
Ron looked specifically at Harry's shoulder and Harry sighed. "That was a dragon's spike, not them."
"A dragon's—" Ron choked. "A dragon's spike? What did you do, run into a dragon on the way there too?"
"Physically? Yeah actually."
Ron opened his mouth, shut it, and then nodded, like he had decided that he was just going to accept everything and move on. "Okay, er… So, you're in a different world with a lot of Death Eaters then. That's… nice."
"Ron, Voldemort's still here in this world."
"What?" Ron's face went very pale and he looked off to the side from his side of the portal like he was looking at someone.
"Yeah and so are my—well, Lily and James Potter are alive here."
Ron's lips parted in surprise and he looked at Harry closely. "You parents? They're alive there?"
"They're not my parents Ron, they're just…" Harry trailed off, not knowing how to word it.
"Right," Ron nodded, letting Harry escape the awkward turning conversation. "What about anyone else we know? Sirius? Remus? Tonks?"
Harry nodded. "All here, as well as Dumbledore, and—"
Ron turned from the portal like he was checking over his shoulder. Harry fell silent. "Ron?" he asked. Ron looked back at him, and a slight look of panic floated in his eyes.
"Harry," Ron said swallowing. "I've got to go."
Ron licked his lips. "It's hard to explain, but—" Ron looked over his shoulder again. "—technically, I'm not supposed to be here."
"Technically? What—Ron, where are you?"
Ron smiled hesitantly. "Er… muggle transportation?"
Harry's jaw dropped and he thought for a second that he hadn't heard right. "What? You—you're in a muggle transp—"
"I think it's called a chube?"
Ron nodded with a smile. "Eh, that's it! It goes underground on tracks right?"
"What…" Harry blinked a couple of times and sighed. "What exactly are you doing there?"
Ron looked uncomfortable again. "Running?"
Harry gave him a dry look. "From?"
"You—" Harry was torn between anger, confusion, and being extremely amused. "Ron, start from the beginning."
Ron looked over his shoulder and murmured something to someone behind him. He looked back at the screen with wide eyes. "Muggles are scary Harry."
Harry turned his head sideways. "You have no idea."
"Nothing. What happened?"
Ron leaned forwards into the portal. "After you disappeared, the whole Ministry went on alert for you. The Order, Dumbledore's army, even the muggle police started looking for you. Hermione, Luna, and Ginny had heard about it and went to see the—"
"—place where it would have happened." Harry nodded. "Smart one, your girlfriend," Harry said.
Ron pulled a half grin. "Afterwards," he whispered. "Hermione said there was a residue left behind from magic like our own, but a little off."
"A little off?" Harry echoed.
"You know… elf magic and magic animals have their own magic. Goblins and Wizards have their own as well. Hermione found leftover magic she said was 'remarkably similar to ours, but also—' er…'fundamentally different'? I think that's how she said it, anyways, same magic, but also different."
"Same magic different worlds. Makes sense," Harry said.
"Yeah, that's what Luna said. Hermione thought it was rubbish of course, thought must have been a trick of a Death Eater, but Luna was real serious when she said you had gone away and someone not from our world had taken you."
"Yeah, well, I wouldn't have believed her myself. Sounds a little too E.T for my taste."
"What's an E.T.?"
"It's a—never mind, then what happened?"
"Well, it happened like you would have expected. Luna brought back some 'special' mirror that her father said could communicate with people from another world. Hermione said there's no such thing. Ginny was dragged in the middle…"
"And you took Hermione's side," Harry sighed, leaning back in his bed. And then a fight would have started.
"She was really stressed alright! You had gone missing, McGonagall was asking her to do things for next year's curriculum, journalists were breathin down her neck and … she just got overwhelmed."
"So then how do you have the mirror?" Harry asked.
"Hermione threw it on the ground. Luna went out crying. Ginny with her. I picked it up, Hermione saw me and…" Ron trailed off. "—well you know how she is when she's worked up."
"So you gave her some air."
"And forgot my wand on the way out."
Harry shook his head and grinned. "Floo network then?"
"We'd all met at Hermione's parents place."
Harry snorted kindly. "And you know how to take the tube?"
Ron colored. "Hermione showed me. I've not gotten off anywhere, so I'll just stay on until it goes back to the station I left at. I'd expect her to be cool headed when I come back after all this time, especially when I tell her you're alive, and the mirror actually works!"
Harry smiled. "It's been good to hear you."
"Only been a gone a day."
"Been a long day."
Ron grinned. "I could understand that." Ron looked over his shoulder again. "Listen Harry I've got to go. The muggles are starting to stare at me like I'm crazy. I think they think I'm just talking to a girl's mirror."
"Well how do I get in contact with you?"
Ron looked back at him, panicked. "I dunno. I guess it'll be me getting to you then."
Harry swallowed. "Good luck."
Ron grinned. "You too mate."
Harry watched Ron close the portal from him, the blue and white lights disappearing like it had never been there before. The emptiness seemed to have taken the daylights sun rays from the room with the closed portal. Ron was gone. His connection to home was gone. Harry breathed out, long and deep, ignoring the twinge at his shoulder and looked down at the foot of his bed.
Jonathan's eyes were wide open, and staring at him with raised eyebrows.
Harry froze and stared Jonathan in the eyes. "How much did you hear?"
"Enough," Jonathan said, picking his face from the bed covers. "Ron seems nice though."
"He's my best mate." Harry thought that he sounded defensive, even to himself.
"I gathered." Jonathan rotated his stool to look directly at Harry. "Did you talk to him about the kidnappings?"
"I thought you heard all of it."
"I heard most of it, but you didn't answer my question. Did you?"
Harry turned his head to the side. "No. I didn't have the time. Why?"
"Well do you have a plan?"
"I thought the Order members were taking care of it."
"They'll find the bodies sure, but I want Ginny alive." He looked at Harry with a challenge. "How about you?"
Harry narrowed his eyes. He felt like he was playing a game of word chess with Jonathan, and he hated chess when it wasn't against Ron. "I'm not going to be discharged until tomorrow."
"I need to make preparations anyways," Jonathan said back.
"Do you have a plan?"
"Not really?" Harry copied dryly. "You know we need a plan. We can't just do whatever we wanted like… I don't know, ride into the Death Eater camps on top of Natara and burn the place to the ground while saving the damsels in distress right? We can't just go in like a pair of idiot knights from muggle fairy tales."
Jonathan smiled a cunning smile that contorted his face to look almost like a carbon copy of James Potter. "Why not?"
"You're not serious."
Jonathan stared at Harry who stared back at Jonathan with even eyes.
"Oh Merlin, you really are serious."
Chapter 10: Insults and Cages
"No." Harry pushed his newly acquired wand into his back pocket and pushed open the double set doors of the Hospital Wing like the free man that he was.
"Why?" Jonathan asked, trailing Harry out of the Hospital Wing with a confused face. "It would be brilliant! Natara would—"
"We're not using Natara to deep fry the Death Eaters," Harry said shortly. They had been over this conversation all of yesterday night and now this morning when Madam Pomfrey had released Harry from his bed rest.
"But why not! It's the best plan we've got! The—"
"—Only plan we've got," Harry interrupted. "And it's not good enough."
"—and Luna are nearly fully trained wizards. They can handle one night by themselves," Harry stated stonily. Jonathan pulled an exasperated face that Harry ignored. "I don't think the Death Eaters want them dead, so I think for now, they'll be fine."
Jonathan raised a sarcastic eyebrow. "Oh? And for how long exactly?"
"I dunno. Have you talked to your parents?"
Jonathan shook his head and Harry traveled down a flight of stairs with him at his side. "Mum and Dad have been up all night getting Hogsmead cleaned up and sending out search parties. Actually, the whole Order has been up all night trying to get everything fixed and safe." Jonathan's eyes flashed to Harry's left arm, still covered in bandages. "Speaking of, how's your arm?"
Harry squashed the urge to roll his shoulder. He'd most likely break the new skin if he did that. "Healed, mostly. Madam Pomfrey said I shouldn't do anything to upset the outer skin, as it's 'still delicate'."
Jonathan snorted. "She'll love our plan then."
Harry grimaced, tinged with annoyance. "That is not what we're going to be doing Jonathan," He said, falling back onto his old argument. "We're not bringing Natara."
Jonathan groaned. "But why not!"
"Because it wasn't just me and the Order that got hurt," Harry replied, heading down the marble stair case. "Natara did too. She's still recovering."
"How do you know?" Jonathan rolled his eyes. "You haven't seen her since you fell off of her. She could be fine. She could be more than fine. I heard Bill and Hagrid took care of her last night after the shields came back up, and Hagrid's always wanted a dragon."
"Because," Harry rubbed at his chest, feeling his lungs expand and deflate with a tightness that never really let Harry forget breathing hurt for him. "I can feel it."
"'You can feel it'" Jonathan echoed with a scoff. "Right. Like you could actually —whoa, wait a minute, you can feel it?" Jonathan stopped and turned to Harry, causing Harry to stop at the bottom of the marble stair case as well. "Like you actually feel her? Natara? You know how she's feeling?"
Harry rubbed his chest with his unhurt arm again. "Well, sort of, I guess." The ach in Harry's chest seemed to soothe when Harry thought about it. "I know she's hurt. Her wings bother her, her throat seems a little sore, and she's tired right now."
Jonathan's eyes widened to the point where it looked as if they would pop out of his head. "No way," he breathed out. "You—do you even know how—oh merlin, I'm gonna have to call Charlie." He turned briskly from Harry and continued his way down the stairs and out to the Entrance Hall. Harry followed behind him, feeling a little lost and more than a little tired. He wished he could just go to sleep instead of following Jonathan around or waiting for Ron to call him on his magic mirror.
"Slow down will you?" Harry asked, wincing at his fast movements. "I can't exactly—"
"Jonathan!" Lily's voice rang from just outside the castle's doors.
"Mum," Jonathan said, coming to a stop at the entrance with Harry right behind him. "What are you doing here? I thought you were at the Ministry with dad."
"I was," Lily said, glancing behind Jonathan and seeing Harry. "I was just coming to meet with Dumbledore." She nodded at Harry with a warm smile. "Good morning Harry. Feeling better?"
"Much, thanks," Harry said back politely.
"Madam Pomfrey let you out already?" She asked, her eyes coming to his bandage covered shoulder.
"She says that she's got other patients who need her more," Harry said back honestly with a neutral smile.
Lily nodded. "I know, I saw the hospital wing before I left for the Ministry." She smiled again and tightened her hand around a rolled up newspaper that Harry hadn't noticed she'd been holding before.
Harry glanced at the paper and narrowed in at the sight of flames and the tail of a dragon zooming out of one of the moving pictures in the front page article. Harry turned his head. "Is that—?"
Lily looked down at her hands and unfolded the newspaper with a sigh like she'd been dreading talking about it. "It's this morning's paper from the Weekly Prophet." She held it out to Harry for him to take.
"Weekly?" Harry asked, closing his hand around the paper and looking it over.
Lily took her free hands and wrapped them around herself. "The Daily Prophet was canceled. The Weekly Prophet has all of the advertisement and propaganda that the Dark Lord wants. Nothing in the paper hasn't been looked over by top ministry officials and passed over close inspection."
On the top of the Weekly Prophet was a large black and white photo of Harry riding Natara over a burning Hogsmead building. Above the picture of him in big black text said "DANGEROUS ANDMYSTERIOUS ATTACKER IN HOGSMEAD!" Harry grimaced and looked at the paragraphs beneath his and Natara's picture.
Lily sighed again. "It says that you stood alone in the 'Burning of Hogsmead', and that government forces only just stopped you from kidnapping more than twenty children."
"The Burning of Hogsmead?" Harry asked, looking up at her. "Is that what they're calling it?"
Lily nodded and Jonathan scoffed. "This is dragon shite! Harry saved them all! He's not a mass murderer!"
Harry folded up the paper and handed it back to Lily. "They seem to think so. It's a good thing they only got a picture of the side of my face and can't connect me back to you."
Jonathan frowned. "How could they?"
"My name," Harry stated. He looked back to Lily. "Is this what you were going to show Dumbledore?"
Lily nodded. "I doubt he hasn't already seen it, but we need to figure out what to do. You've just became public enemy number two to the rest of the Wizarding world."
Harry moved the door open wider with his good arm to let Lily inside. "Just behind Dumbledore then?"
Lily walked past him. "Only with a lot more people wanting your head on a stick."
"They don't even know his name though," Jonathan said confused.
"No, they don't, but that's a blessing and a curse. No one knows who Harry is, so it's a mystery that looks important from the outside. Everyone knows Dumbledore, knows how powerful he is, so they know that even if they found him, they probably wouldn't be able to turn him in to the Ministry. Harry on the other hand, while riding a dragon is unheard of, it doesn't strike the same shadow of fear that Dumbledore does. People will come looking for you Harry. For money, or for rising power inside the Dark Lords circle." Lily stared at him seriously. "You just put a target on your back and the whole of the Wizarding world knows it now."
Harry let that wash over him slowly, and he settled against the wooden door. "Spectacular," he muttered. "Really brilliant." He looked up to Lily with a cold stare and a sinking realization. "The Order isn't going to want me to go out anywhere are they?"
Lily pursed her lips. "I don't know. I was going to discuss it with Dumbledore." Harry knew what that was going to mean.
"Then we're coming with you," Jonathan said resolutely. Harry glanced at him.
Lily frowned and crossed her arms over her chest. "No, you're not Jonathan Potter. You and Harry will go eat breakfast and wait. The adults will figure out a plan to keep him safe." She turned to Harry and gave him a warm smile that seemed to warm Harry to his toes. "Don't worry Harry. We won't let anything happen to you." She reached out and placed a soft hand on Harry's injured arm. "At least nothing more."
Harry gave her a smile that he hoped looked completely genuine.
Jonathan didn't take the hint of Harry's silence. "But you're talking about his life," he said affronted. "Don't you think he should have some say over what he wants to do? He is an adult."
Lily opened her mouth to say something, but Harry spoke before her, cutting her off. "It's okay Jonathan. I don't mind. Lily is only doing what she thinks is best for me."
Jonathan turned to him with wide eyes full of surprise. "But Harry—"
"—and besides," Harry said, letting himself sag against the wooden door. "I'm tired Jonathan. Breakfast and some time to think over a plan to help Ginny and Luna would help me more than arguing over whether or not I want to go back up all those steps to the Headmasters office."
Jonathan's eyes immediately went to Harry's shoulder. "Oh, oh right. Sorry, I forgot for a moment that you—alright sorry, I'll help you to get some breakfast then." He took up Harry's good arm around his shoulders and nodded at Lily silently. "Mum," He said.
Lily smiled and straightened up. "I'll see you two after I talk to Dumbledore." She smiled at the both of them. "Be safe."
Harry smiled back at her, and Jonathan rolled his eyes. "We're inside Hogwarts mum, I doubt we'll do anything life threatening unless the eggs try to choke us on the way down."
"All the same," she said, turning from them to go up the staircase.
"We'll try," Harry said as she climbed away from them.
Jonathan dropped Harry's arm when Lily was out of sight. "Alright then, come on, the Great Hall is—"
"I know where the Great Hall is," Harry said, stopping him.
Jonathan shrugged a shoulder. "Well alright, I was just trying to be—"
"Come on, we need to get out the apparition shields in Hogwarts," Harry said, turning right around and heading outside.
"To the—to the what? I thought you said you were hungry!"
"I said that to your mum."
Harry didn't bother slowing down, or turning around. He kept on his march towards the outside and yelled out behind him. "You coming? I thought you wanted to save Ginny and Luna!"
Jonathan was silent, but Harry heard his running footsteps coming up from behind him. "I knew it!" Jonathan said victoriously. "I knew you weren't just going to sit back and let them take over."
Harry didn't feel like he could say anything against that. "Adults will want to take over, and keep you 'safe' even when what the world needs is you to get up and do something." Harry sighed out. "Even in a different world, the adults here are the same."
"They would want you to do nothing?" Jonathan asked.
"Worse," Harry said. "They would want to use you to finish their own illusions of moral practicality." Harry and Jonathan were at the edges of the forbidden forest now, and Harry took out his wand. "Come on, I have a plan."
"Hold on." Harry took Jonathan's arm, closed his eyes thinking of a single place in the world, and then with a pop, they were gone.
"You okay?" Harry asked, watching Jonathan spin forwards at their landing.
"Fine," Jonathan grimaced. "I like flooing better to be honest."
Harry didn't have anything to say to that, and pulled Jonathan up by his arm. "Come on, we don't have much time."
"What time?" Jonathan asked straightening up.
"Morning traffic," Harry said looking around him and taking in the small changes from this world's magical community center from his own.
Jonathan looked up and stared around him as well. He frowned. "Diagon Alley? What are we doing here?"
Harry took in the rows and rows of shops, crowded alleyways, and varying colors of cloaks with narrowed eyes. There weren't as many people as he would have originally thought at one of the busiest times in Diagon Alley, but then again, cutting out muggle borns would have cut off a good chunk of the population. Harry watched packs of wizards and witches move around him, looking over everyone with suspicious eyes and clenched hands. It looked to Harry as if they were all moving about each other because they had to, and had no enjoyment in being outside other than the fact that they needed something from the shops. It made Harry's teeth clench at the similarities from this world and his when the Dark Lord's presence had been known again in his Wizarding world. Harry looked back at Jonathan.
"Getting people's attention."
Jonathan leaned towards Harry. "Why?"
"Well a criminal needs to be captured," Harry stared straight at Jonathan. "Wouldn't you agree?"
Realization came crashing down like a brick wall over Jonathan's face and he breathed out lightly. "Merlin."
Harry grinned at Jonathan's face and turned around towards the town with climbing dread in his stomach. "I'll need your help for this," Harry said to him, keeping his voice down.
Jonathan was close at his back when Harry heard him say, "What do you need me to do?"
Harry glanced at him quickly. "Play along."
Jonathan didn't have time to agree. Before he could open his mouth, or Harry could rethink what he was about to do, Harry had twirled around and had his wand tip pointed directly at Jonathan's nose. "Stand back! You'll never take me!" Harry shouted at the top of his lungs. People around him jumped, before realizing he had his wand, and backed up into the shadows of the shops. Others saw Harry's wand and grabbed at their own, pointing them at the ground, but visible to everyone else around them.
Someone with bright green robes and dark skin with flashing hazel eyes shoved people out of the way towards Harry and Jonathan. "What's going on here?" he shouted with a voice of authority.
Jonathan looked at Harry, and Harry stared at him back, raising his wand a little higher, looking like a bigger threat. Jonathan's face fell into a look of terror. "It's him! The man who burned Hogsmead!" Jonathan yelled louder than Harry had, catching everyone's attention. "He's come to destroy Diagon Alley! I heard him say so! He'll kill us all!"
People around Harry withdrew their wands and shoved at each other, either trying to get in closer to where Harry was, or trying to get out of the way. Harry turned to the crowd. "Stay back!" he yelled, waving his wand furiously in the air. Someone from the side flashed a camera at him and Harry drew in his eyebrows, hoping he looked fearsome and menacing. "Or I'll burn you like I burned Hogsmead! Stay back! I warn you! Not even Voldemort himself could stop me if I wanted! MOVE!"
People gasped at Voldemort's name, and things crashed to the floor as people suddenly desperately moved away like the plague was about to catch up to them. The man in shiny green robes pushed others out of the way and reached out to Harry. "Now you've done it!" he said, as he shoved someone away. "Drop your wand, or I'll remove your hands!"
Harry turned to the man and pointed his wand into the air. "Come and get me," he said quietly. Incendio, Harry thought, and watched as a blast of fire reached from the top of his wand and caught the tips of the shops around him. "Run!" Harry shouted at the fleeing crowds around him. "Run for your lives. Let Voldemort's sniveling Death Eaters see who really can cause the most damage," he boomed.
People ran in all directions, ducking and screaming as the fire started to spread over the roofs of the shops around them. Harry watched them run, and thought that this would do. Voldemort, or at least a good number of his followers would show up since he'd said his name twice in the middle of Diagon Alley.
The man in the green robes shot a spell at Harry, and Harry ducked backwards, letting the spell go over his chest. Harry saw Jonathan from the corner of his eye pushing back people to get closer to Harry, his face shocked and his eyes wide, with his arms reaching for Harry. Harry turned to grab ahold of Jonathan, but someone shoved him to the side, and he fell to the ground. Jonathan escaped his vision, and Harry rolled away from people's stomping feet. He got to his own feet and ran through the crowd, shouting over the crowds and bellowing names worse than he thought Fred and George could come up with.
Let them take the bait now, he thought.
Harry didn't see Jonathan until the younger boy's hand wrapped around his bad shoulder and had pulled him back, tearing the new flesh on his shoulder. Harry yelled out at the pain and Jonathan immediately let go. They were crouched together against an overturned stand at the corner of an alley. "We have to run! Aurors have come and Death Eaters have started showing up near Olivanders!"
Harry grabbed his shoulder and turned to Jonathan. "That's the point!"
Jonathan stared at him in disbelief. "They'll kill you!"
Harry shook his head. "Or they'll take me straight to Voldemort."
"You don't know that."
"They'll hold me with other prisoners."
"Or they'll take you straight to You-know-who's chambers and he'll kill you straight off!"
"I have a chance to find both Ginny and Luna with this."
"We don't know if they'll take us to them!"
Harry gazed at Jonathan tightlipped as people ran around them, and Jonathan searched Harry's face with growing realization. Harry didn't look away and Jonathan held his gaze. "I'm not going, am I?"
Harry shook his head minutely. "You're right. I might die. I might not even make it to Voldemort's feet. They might kill me right out and I can't bring you in on that. You could die because of that. Because of me." Harry glimpsed up at the people running around them. "I need you to go back to the Order."
"But I want to go with you," Jonathan shook his head furiously.
"You can't." Harry snapped back, peering at him and narrowing his eyes. "And don't try to be a hero by coming back for me. This is my decision to make. Go back with your family."
"YOU are my family," Jonathan insisted. Harry clenched his teeth together and Jonathan kept his eyes fixed on Harry. "You're a Potter. I won't leave you."
"You have to." Harry caught a piece of debris flying past them and pointed his wand at it. Portus, he thought in his head, imagining Hogwarts as its destination, and watched as the piece of trash glowed blue. Harry looked back up to Jonathan. "Sorry," he whispered. The blue of the portkey reflected back in Jonathan's eyes and the younger boy scrambled back like it would burn him.
"No! Harry don't –"
Harry threw the trash forwards, and it caught Jonathan's upper leg. Jonathan looked up at Harry with wide eyes for a split second. The portkey glowed bright blue and Harry watched the betrayal and disbelief in Jonathan's eyes swirl before he disappeared with the portkey, hundreds of miles away.
"You!" Harry recognized the voice of the man before with the green robes and he looked up in time to see the man running at him with his wand extended, pushing through the crowd with flashing white teeth.
Harry moved backwards, scrambling into the alleyway and sprinting through the shadows, letting them cover his escape deeper into the town. A dark purple spell flew past his shoulder and Harry threw himself out of the alleyway as fast he could, running full sprint to Olivanders. He passed dissaparating people, and families calling for their children.
A Death Eater apparated a few feet in front of Harry wearing long black robes and a shiny white mask. "Oi! Ugly! I'm over here," Harry yelled at it.
The Death Eater turned to him and had its wand out faster than Harry could keep his eyes on. Harry brought up his own wand. Another Death Eater apparated beside the first and Harry watched them walk together in front of him. Harry held up his wand and put his hands up in surrender.
"All right. You got me."
Both of the masked wizards stopped for a moment. "You're surrendering?" asked the first.
"Just like that?" asked the second.
Harry felt a little giddy. This was probably the stupidest thing he'd ever done, and the most dangerous. He didn't know what he was thinking when he'd thought of this, and he definitely didn't think he knew what he was doing now. He just let his mouth run on sass until he could think of his next step. Harry looked straight up at them. "Take me to your leader."
The muggle reference was probably lost on them, but Harry felt a little ridiculous anyways.
"You—you wish to see the Dark Lord?" the second asked, his voice colored in surprise.
"Fine, makes it easier on us then," The first said dismissing him and raising his wand at Harry.
"He wants to?" the second asked again.
The first shrugged. "Must be mental. Not our problem, we just get the bounty on his head don't we?"
The first took off his mask and looked at Harry with a grin. Harry knew him. A year ahead of him. A Ravenclaw. He didn't know the boy's name, but he knew his face. He'd died in the Battle of Hogwarts against Voldemort in his world. The boy twisted his face in a cruel smile and winked at Harry. "Nighty night," he said in delight.
Harry knew what was coming, and felt the flash of a stupefy spell against his chest before he saw it coming from the first boy's wand. A spreading numbness faster than he could blink, and then his eyes were closing and he lost consciousness in the middle of the running wizards and witches.
Harry woke up in a cold sweat, and in a cage.
Not chained to a chair or a potion shoved down his throat, that much was certain and he was grateful for, but he was still behind thick bars. He checked his pockets, and sure enough, without a wand. Well, at least they hadn't killed me, he thought to himself. He was lying on a cement ground with a blanket. He sat up, rotating his shoulders around and looking around.
A large room, was what he gathered. There wasn't much light, but he wasn't the only jail cell in the room. The cell was big enough for him to lay down on the ground both ways comfortably, but he doubted if Ron was here, he would feel the same. It was cold, a certain unnatural chill in the air that Harry recognized as Dementor aroma, and looking both to the left and to the right, he was certain he wasn't the only one sitting in a cage around him.
There were no windows and very little light from magical orbs hanging in the air, but he could see the shape of a body on the other side of his bars to his left. Harry looked closer and leaned forwards. As a matter of fact, Harry thought it could be a girl in this next cage over. She had slim shoulders, very short cropped hair, he could see from her back, and she was very, very thin. Dangerously thin that would have Mrs. Weasley in a fit.
"Excuse me," Harry said through the bars. "Er… miss? Do you know where we are?"
"Leave me alone," her voice was cracked and thin like a reed played too long.
"I'm sorry to… to bother you, I just wondered if you knew where we might be? And, have you seen any new people come in here. Two girls, they'd be about my age, one with long red hair and the other with long, sort of almost white blonde hair." Harry waited, but the other girl didn't seem like she was going to answer. "Er… hullo?"
The girl sat up, her back to Harry, and the think blanket that was wrapped around her fell to the ground. She breathed out in a long sigh. "You one of them?"
Harry wondered if she was still talking to him, and if she was, what was a 'them'? "Uh, a what?"
"A wizard. One of those things that use magic."
"A thing?" Harry answered automatically. "I'm.. yes, I am a wizard. Not from around here though," Harry said, leaning against the back of his bars.
"You have the accent," she remarked shortly.
"Well, yes, but that doesn't mean.—" Harry trailed off and thought about her words. The way she had said them. They were entitled almost. Knowing. Realistic and bold on the verge of rude. It was very familiar actually, if Harry thought about it a bit more. "Do… do I know you?"
"No," she said coldly, and Harry for a second almost believed her, her voice was so sure. "I don't affiliate myself with murderers."
Harry was taken back. "I'm not a murderer!"
"You use magic. That's good enough." Once again, her voice was so sure, so upright. It rang a bell in the back of his head, but Harry couldn't place where he had heard her before.
"You act like you don't—hang on, are you… are you a muggle?" Harry's eyes widened and he sat back against the bars with a new sense of breathlessness. No wonder she wouldn't like Wizarding people then. Locked up by one, probably treated horribly. Worse than horribly, if this world was as bad as the others had said.
"I'm a hunter." Her back straightened and Harry was too shocked to speak for a moment. A hunter. So that was a real thing here.
"A witch hunter?"
"All magical beasts," she answered.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "What if they haven't done anything to you?"
"They're magical. It would only ever be a matter of time." To Harry, that sounded like vengeance. Something out of a muggle book in the supernatural section.
"So they've hurt you then, hmm? Is that why you hunt … er, us?"
"You're a murderer. No one else will do it, so we do."
"You're an organization? You said 'we' so I'm guessing you're part of something much bigger?"
"Stop talking to me murderer."
Harry frowned. "I'm not a murderer. Well, not really. I am fighting in a war though, so technically, it depends on how you look at it. But I've never hurt a muggle before. I was raised by muggles."
"Well, to be honest, if anyone's a murderer here, to me it would have to be either you, or the Death Eater who locked us in here. You can take your pick as I'm fairly sure you've killed before, and Iknow the Death Eaters have."
Her head turned slightly to him, and Harry only saw the shadow of her face, still too dark to recognize who she was. He had caught her attention. "Is that what you call them? Death Eaters?"
"It's what they named themselves actually," Harry answered honestly. "It's what Voldemort, their leader, decided to name them I guess." Harry crossed his arms over himself to keep the chill out, and briskly rubbed his hands over his arms.
Apparently, she could see him and she wrapped the blanket at her back around her again. "It's always cold here. You'll be needing the blanket."
"Doesn't surprise me," Harry said, getting to his feet and fetching his own small blanket. "It's the effect of having a dementor in close proximity."
"A dementor?" she asked, her voice just barely colored with curiosity.
"A magical being that kind of sucks the happiness from you," Harry wrapped the blanket around himself. "While this place seems depressing, the kind of hopelessness hanging in the air is caused by them. They live off of it."
"Of course it's magical," she scoffed like Harry had just proven that the whole of magical society was dark and dangerous.
"Well they're dark creatures. Not all magical creatures are dark though. Unicorns are pure light magic, and Dementors usually are only supposed to be guarding the Wizarding prison, to keep dark wizards inside."
"I'm not a wizard," she stated stonily.
"No," Harry agreed, looking at her closely. "You're not, are you?"
"So why are they here?"
Harry leaned back against the bars and sighs. "Well when one of the darkest Dark Lords enlists the dark creatures of the Wizarding world to his aid, they abandon their job and do what he orders." Harry shrugged. "Or we could just be in Azkaban."
"Azkaban," she echoed.
Harry nodded. "The Wizarding prison."
"Why are you here?" she asked.
Harry looked up at the ceiling. "I called the Dark Lord some unsavory names in public and challenged him in a large Wizarding community."
"Are you an idiot?"
"Sometimes," he shrugged again. "But I wanted them to find me, so it all worked out for me."
"You're in a cage."
"Yes, but they didn't kill me, so," Harry said offhandedly. "But why are you here?"
Harry almost kicked himself at his question. She didn't trust witches or wizards. It wasn't like she was going to answer him. Harry let the silence deepen for a couple more moments before he opened his mouth to talk about something else. Surprisingly, he heard her voice answer softly.
"They caught me," she said quietly.
There was silence again. "I'm sorry," Harry said to her after a moment of dark silence hung between them. "Not all of us are like this, I want you to know. There are good wizards and witches out there."
She scoffed sarcastically, with an edge of icy coldness. "You'd know then?"
Harry was silent for a beat longer than necessary. "I'd hope so. I've been fighting this war since I was a kid."
"Against us?" her question was more of a statement. "The 'muggles' of your world?"
"No, against Voldemort," Harry said.
She was quiet for a moment, like she was processing his words. "The Dark Lord that everyone keeps talking about? Your parents let you fight against him as a child?"
"My parents were killed because of him. I lived with muggles for a time remember?"
The girl was quiet. "Were you… what they call a 'muggleborn'?"
Harry looked back at her and shook his head. "No. My mum was though. She married my dad, a wizard, and had me, a 'half-blood'."
"You're not a 'pure blood' or whatever that nonsense is?" she asked. Her tone turning defensive. "How do you even have a wand?"
"Not from around here, remember?" Harry grinned once. He leaned forwards and looked straight at her from behind the bars. "The real question is what are you? Half-blood, or muggleborn? A squib from an important family perhaps?" Harry looked at her back and saw her tense. "No one I've met has a reason so young to do something so drastic as kill unless its self-protection, or revenge. I'm guessing yours is revenge. So magical background." He waited for an answer.
Moments passed and Harry wondered if she was truly going to keep silent. "Muggleborn," she finally stated like it was a death penalty to an innocent man. "Nearly eight years ago, when I was eleven, a wizard—those Death Eaters came to my house and killed my parents for being what I was."
Harry stared at her harder. Eight years. She'd have been in his year then. Maybe she didn't go to Hogwarts, but she'd have been in his year just the same. "What's your name?" he asked quietly.
The girl breathed out and turned to face Harry. She kept her face downwards, but Harry could see familiar cheekbones, pointed chin, and once upon a time too large teeth. The curly hair had been cut to a boys short haircut, but when she looked up at Harry, he couldn't mistake her eyes for anyone else.
"Granger," she said, staring at him through the metal bars. "Hermione Granger."
Harry's stomach fell and air seemed to blow away any brains he possessed in his skull. He stared at this worlds Hermione with widening eyes and overpowering dread. "Hermione," Harry echoed. "Merlin, Hermione."
"You're alive," Harry breathed out in surprise and awe.
Harry's eyes couldn't get any wider. Hermione. It was Hermione. Alive. Completely alive and breathing in front of him. As in staring back at him, kind of alive. She was actually there.
Hermione's eyebrows were scrunched together on her forehead and her confused frown turned predatoril at Harry's reaction. "You know my name," she said it like it was an accusation.
Harry nodded automatically. "Yes," and then Harry remembered the bars around him. Not Hermione. Not his, at least. "—and er… no. Not really, I guess… Sort of."
Hermione leaned away from the bars of her own cage like Harry could reach through them and grab her. "No, I saw your face. You already know me." Her face was pulled back into the shadows, but her voice wavered with a hint of fear. "Did you follow me here? To finish me off? To ask where the others are?" she asked.
"What?" Harry asked, colored with surprise. Others? "No. No! I just… it's complicated," Harry said, mentally cursing himself at his reaction to her. "… but I know you… not from here." Yes, Harry, brilliant, he thought to himself. Wonderfully put. That didn't sound weird at all.
"Not from here?" Hermione echoed sarcastically. "Only know who I am but from a different place? America? Egypt? Keep files at your ministry that tell you everything about us? Is that how you know my name?"
Harry shook his head rapidly. "No, that's not what I meant." This was not the way he had foreseen this conversation going. "I know a…" Aw hell. "…a different you." Because that made sense.
Harry clenched his teeth together and any sort of friendliness from Hermione's face fell. Harry was going to have to tell her. He sighed. She was a complete muggle here. NO magical experience.
His Hermione didn't think it was possible. This Hermione wasn't even going to understand—ah Godric, Harry sighed through his nose and went ahead anyways. "You're not going to believe this—"
"—no, I won't," Hermione agreed darkly.
Harry plowed forwards despite her words. "—but I know you from a different world. A parallel world. Like this, but also really different," Harry said. He pointed at her, and Hermione jumped like she expected herself to catch fire. Harry immediately lowered his hands and put them in his lap.
"A parallel world?" Hermione asked dryly. "That's the best you've got?" Harry didn't think that question was meant for him to answer, so he remained silent. "God, your ministry really doesn't know how to teach you all to lie very well do they?"
"It's not a lie," Harry argued.
Hermione shook her head and started to turn from him like she was done with their conversation. Harry doubted that he would be given this chance to talk to her again if she turned from him now. "Wait!" he called desperately, his voice quiet and sincere. "I can prove it to you."
Hermione froze, and slowly, her head turned to look behind her at Harry. "Can you?"
Harry nodded, but his insides squirmed. Could he? This was a completely different Hermione. A different person, different experiences. Everything that made her Hermione to him wasn't there. What could he know about her that was truly her here?
"Your middle name," Harry blurted out. "It's Jean. Hermione Jean Granger."
Hermione turned her back to him. "You could have found that on a birth certificate, that isn't something newsworthy."
Harry swallowed. "But your middle name was supposed to be Jane, after your father's mother. The lady at the desk got the name mixed up after you were born, and by the time your parents had seen it, they hadn't really minded. The name seemed to 'just fit you'," Harry repeated the words Harry had heard Hermione use when she had told them this story over the summer break of his fourth year, sometime after the Quidditch World Cup.
Hermione was silent and unmoving behind her bars, and Harry continued on, desperate to grab onto any random fact about her that he knew.
"You don't like heights," he stated. "You'll go somewhere with a deep drop off if you have to, but you down like the thought of falling, so you avoid fast moving things that could send you to the ground."
"That sounds like common sense," Hermione stated without emotion.
Harry smiled, grateful she was at least still listening to him. "You'd be surprised," he said, thinking about her dislike of brooms. "And you love books. Any book that has real pages and a bendy spine, whether its three hundred years old, or right off the press, you love reading and learning more than doing … I dunno, girly things like dying you hair or something. It's your favorite thing to do, to read. You love learning about anything you can get your hands on. Anything."
Hermione was silent again.
"You don't like too sweet things. You can't stand maple sugar sweets, and you'd like salty or sour over milk chocolate anytime," Harry said. Hermione had the slightest turn in her head towards him, and Harry continued on, his thoughts coming easier to him now that he knew she wasn't just going to completely block him out.
"You don't believe in anything that can predict the future. You think it's rubbish," Harry smiled. "You wouldn't believe in magic unless you saw it, because your logic dominated, and you really reallyhate it when adults lie to you because they're supposed to be someone you can rely on." Harry fell silent, letting Hermione take the next step. She didn't move.
He was immensely relieved when Hermione finally turned to look at him from her side of the cage after a few drawn out moments and look at him with penetrating eyes. Better to be scrutinized then ignored, he figured.
"That's right," she said with narrowing eyes at him. "And wrong."
Damn. He figured not everything would line up exactly, but he had hoped more than just her intelligence would transfer from his world to this. Harry didn't say anything, but kept his eyes on her.
"I love reading books. Much better than a computer when you can feel the pages, and I do love the less sugary sweets." Hermione shifted the blanket tighter around herself. "And your right about my middle name, my parents did accept Jean because they thought it fit me better, and yes, I do hate looking down from a tall building." Harry grinned. "—But, your wrong about lying adults. I don't hate it when they lie, I accept it." Harry's face fell.
That didn't sound pleasant in the least. Her eyes stared back at him emotionless and solid. "Adults have been lying to me since I was eleven, after my parents were murdered. They lied when they told me someone would look after me, when my parents would be taken care of, when there was nothing they could do for me. Your ministry lied to me when they would help find the murderers," she stated. "I don't like it when adults lie, I expect it."
"I'm sorry," was all Harry could say. And he was. Even though it wasn't his Hermione, she was still her, the brightest witch of his age, but restricted from becoming one of the greatest people Harry knew in his life.
"Don't," Hermione smiled and looked away with a sour expression. "Just don't." She looked away with a shake of her head, stopped for a moment, and then stared at Harry with a new look of comprehension falling over her eyes. "So a different world then?"
Harry sighed and leaned his head against the bars behind him. "Yeah. Completely insane right?"
Harry grinned again and let his body relax as much as it could against the bars.
"Why are you here?" Harry heard Hermione asked after a couple minutes of comfortable silence.
"Came to rescue friends. Going exactly how I thought it would to be honest."
Hermione scoffed lightly. "I'm sure, but I meant was what are you doing here, as in this world. How did you get here? Why did you leave your old world? Were we good friends in yours?"
Harry studied Hermione from his side. "You're one of my closest friends there."
She grinned lightly. "Friends with a wizard? That must be some world you lived in."
Harry wrapped his own blanket around him more securely. "You're a witch in mine. You went to Hogwarts at eleven. You were in my year, the same house even, and you were one of the greatest Wizarding minds of our generation."
Hermione looked surprised. "Your ministry let me go to Hogwarts?"
Harry nodded. "It's a different world. Different outcomes of the war."
"The light and dark you talked about earlier," Hermione nodded along to the conversation.
Well, this Hermione and his were different. Harry nodded back. "Exactly. In mine, the Dark Lord was defeated for a period of time, just enough to let muggleborns and half-bloods come back to school to get the education they needed for the magic they had."
"Who killed him in your world, this Dark Lord?"
"Voldemort?" Harry asked. "A child. Well, I say child, but I mean—"
"Don't say his NAME!" someone from the opposite side of Harry's cage whispered venomously. Surprised at their interruption, and silently cursing himself for his own stupidity, Harry twisted around to the sound of the voice.
"Who are you?" Harry asked, lowering his voice in case anyone else in the entire room around them heard him.
"You spoke his name! You spoke the Dark Lords name, you insolent little brat. You spoke his name. You dare—"
"Yes I dare," Harry cut off the scratchy tone of an unused voice. "I dare to use the name of the cowardly serpent that hides himself away, but you didn't answer me. Who are you?"
"A face you might know from your other world," the voice wheezed.
Harry felt his face draining of color. Wonderful, grand timing Harry, he thought to himself. Tell her all your secrets in the middle of jail surrounded by a ton of other people. Who else had heard him? How much had this person heard? All of it? Most of it?
"Who are you?"
The voice laughed, sounding choked and sick. "You look like James Potter, do you know? I knew him when he was your age. Tall, but never as tall as Sirius. Remus was about the same height, I remember, and you have his hair," the voice said and Harry's insides dropped from his stomach and hid in a hole a hundred meters beneath his feet. There was no way. "But I know he has only three children now, and you don't look like Jonathan."
"You know what Jonathan looks like Wormtail?" Harry spit out at the shadow beyond his eyes.
"I do," he said. Hands covered in dirt and grime grabbed at the bars separating them and Harry watched as Peter's face came slowly into the dim light of his cell. Eyes sunken into his skull, blond scraggily hair all but gone from his head, and dull skin seeming to have turned to an odd color of yellow wax, Wormtail revealed himself and Harry stared at him unmoved. "I remember all of their faces. Including Harry's."
Harry grimaced. "Harry's dead. You led Voldemort to him."
Peter winced at the Dark Lord's name. "Not if he returned from another world as you have. You'd be his age. You have your fathers face, Harry Potter. Harry James Potter," Wormtail started to laugh again, his voice cracking from disuse. "Come to destroy the Dark Lord from your world? Come to fulfill the prophecy? Send mudbloods back into Hogwarts?"
Harry glowered at the older man. "Someone has to."
"And you would do it? Hmm?" Peter giggled, his eyes widening behind the bars madly. "Would you Potter? Destroy the greatest wizard of this generation?" Peter smiled widely and laughed with a gaping mouth, showing rotten teeth and a discolored tongue. "Would you save the world Harry? Harry. Save the Light? Save the serpents reputation would you? Would you! Would you, would you, would you?" Peter threw back his head and laughed at his own genius and Harry cringed back in horror.
Wormtail was insane. Completely insane.
Harry shook his head and stared at the adult still laughing before him. "What did they do to you?"
"DO?" Peter stared at Harry and cut off his laughs. "Do to me? They made me. Insane as He himself! Turning and turning I am a proper dark wizard. Turning and turning."
"Oh my god," Hermione whispered. "They drove him mad."
"Mad," Peter echoed with a nod. "Not mad but happy he says. No guilt now. All gone from me like baby Harry. Little baby Harry. Such soft hair he had. Such eyes. So like hers. Not round and small like a rats but big like a doe and bright like Slytherines robes. Robes and baby Harry. Bye bye Baby Harry. Bye bye. Bye." Peters eyes closed and he wrapped his hands around himself, rocking back and forth on the ground. "Bye bye baby Harry. Bye bye," he repeated over and over again. "Bye bye."
"He—" Hermione started to say with horror in his voice.
A door somewhere in the dark slammed open and a bright light in the far corner to Harry's left illuminated a portion of the room. "What's going on here!" a young voice yelled.
"Baby! Baby! Baby Harry!" Peter crowed. "BABY BABY BABY!"
"Peter!" the voice yelled. "Shut it or I'll remove another toe!"
"BABY HARRY! He COMES, Baby Harry returns! He RETURNS," he yelled.
Harry heard choruses of groans and sighs from people unseen around him in cages. Like they were used to it. "Peter I'm warning you—"
"That's it." Whoever opened the door, the door out Harry noticed, came farther into the room and lit the end of their wand. They came from the door and walked forwards until a boy of about fourteen with white blond hair was standing in front Peters cage with a wand extended and a sneer firmly planted across his face. "Peter," he drawled.
"The child returns to kill the Dark Lord! Back, back and turning back and turning. He comes and defiles the Dark Lords name. He comes! Returns," Wormtail cried. "Back!"
The young boy grimaced at Wormtail, disgusted, but listening to his rants with an open ear. "Who said words against the Dark Lord? Who?"
"Little Harry. So small and green. Eyes of his mother and destined to fulfill a prophecy. Beware he returns to the Dark Lords enemies. He returns!"
The blond boy squinted darkly at Peter. "Who is Ha—"
"Baby returned!" Wormtail screamed, and the boy stunned him with a small flick of his wand, shaking his head annoyed.
"Can't even form a proper sentence," the boy sneered and put his wand away.
Harry looked at the boy closely. Blonde hair. Young. High cheek bones. Grey eyes. Almost the spitting image of Lucius Malfoy. "Rogan," Harry said out loud, putting the pieces together. This must be Draco's younger brother.
The boy stopped and turned to Harry with a ticked up blond eyebrow. "Something to say blood-traitor?"
Well the apple didn't fall far then here either. That made it easier then. "Only how pretty your hair is Malfoy," Harry grinned.
A scowl replaced the boy's otherwise smooth face. "What?" he hissed.
"Your hair. It's very pretty for an heir of the Malfoy family. Tell me, does Voldemort have dress codes for you all? Only have your hair a certain length before—"
Rogan pulled his wand from his robes and pointed them directly at Harry. "You dare say his name? Who are you, a filthy muggle loving—"
"Yes I dare," Harry rolled his eyes. "More importantly, I'm looking for some friends of mine; you might know them. One was a blonde girl with hair almost as pretty as yours, and another girl with bright red hair. They might have come through here last night. Ring any bells?"
Rogan raised his wand higher at Harry, meant to be threatening. "Quite prisoner, or I'll add another scar to the one on your head."
Rogan moved to the front of Harry's cell and pointed his wand down at him. Harry looked up at Rogan with his best 'annoy-Snape-until-he-curses-you' grin. Rogan was within Harry's arm reach. "We'll that would be something. I'd almost be impressed if you did—"
"You're still talking blood-traitor," Rogan said, coming so close to the bars that his forehead almost touched the metal.
Harry continued on talking as if Rogan had not. "—Seeing as you don't have a wand."
Rogan's eyebrows came together in confusion. "Don't have a—"
Harry lashed out before Rogan could finish his sentence. He grabbed the back of Rogan's knee and yanked him towards the front of the bars while reaching forwards and pulling the front of his robes down so that the upper part of his body slammed against the metal bars. Rogan's face smashed down on the metal, and Harry's hand slid upwards , capturing Rogan's wand and twisting it from its previous owners stunned fingertips.
The wands wood warmed under his fingertips, and Harry pointed the wand at a thrashing Rogan. The younger boy opened his mouth like he was about to scream for help, and Harry lifted the small piece of wood to Rogan's stomach. "Stupify," he whispered.
A flash of light, and then Rogan was falling backwards to the ground unconscious. Harry stood up from the ground. His shoulder ached, and Harry expected that he had torn the skin again. When he got back, he doubted Madam Pomfrey was going to be a happy witch with him. He let the blanket around his shoulders fall to the ground as well, and pointed the wand to the lock on the outside of his cell. "Alohomora!" Harry called, and watched gratefully as the gate unlocked itself and the metal door swung outwards. "Thank Merlin," he said breathing out.
He walked out of his cell and turned to Hermione's with a grin. "See? Told you, all part of the plan."
Hermione didn't look impressed. "Beating a fourteen year old was part of the plan? Congratulations, your plan sucks."
Harry shook his head, looking sorrowful. "And here I was about to release you."
Hermione got up from the floor, blanket still around her. "Will you just walk away?"
Hermione was looking at him seriously, and Harry dropped the grin. Could he have? "No," Harry stated and unlocked her door as well. "Come on, I'm going to get us out of here."
"And your friends?" Hermione asked, stepping out of her cell and coming to stand beside Harry.
"How?" Hermione asked looking at him seriously.
Harry glanced up at the lights above their heads. "Get the lights on for one, to see where we are and then move from there. Any ideas?"
Hermione stared up at the lights with calculating eyes. "Some."
Harry was by what he thought must be the front door. "No electricity here. We'll have to open the cages one by one."
"Will that be a problem?" Hermione asked, coming up behind him.
"It will be if we are actually in Azkaban."
"You know what you want to do?"
Harry didn't actually, not really. "Just follow my lead."
Harry unlocked another door with a twist of his new wand. The two people waiting for him to open the door just inside reached for him as they got out, and smiled very broken and tired smiles in thanks. Harry nodded back to the pair and nodded silently behind him where he had all the other prisoners he'd released go. "Follow the stag. He'll lead you to a line of other people. Stay there, and stay silent. If you want to keep breathing tomorrow, stay as unnoticeable as possible." The two people nodded, their eyes wide and serious at him, and Harry nodded back, letting them go so he could start on the last cage in the building. He'd rescued more then he thought we could have, but none of them were the people he wanted to save. Maybe he'd been wrong and Ginny and Luna had been sent somewhere else. What if he had to go back to Hogwarts and Jonathan without the girls?
Harry looked inside and saw another two people standing in the far side of the cage. "Hullo," Harry said, trying to sound unthreatening. "My name's Harry, and I'm here to help you."
"This'll be the second time," a familiar voice said stepping away from the corner shadows. Her long red hair swayed behind her, and though she had been missing for nearly a day, Harry thought she still looked better than most people would had they been in her shoes.
"Ginny," Harry breathed a smile at her, relieved.
She nodded back at him, a hint of a grin as well. "Harry Potter."
Harry motioned for her to come forwards. "Just Harry here actually."
"A 'just Harry'?" Luna asked coming up from behind Ginny and following her out of the cage. "I didn't know there was more than just you. Are there two?" Luna stared at him as she passed, and Harry got the feeling she was asking more than he understood.
"Er… no?" He said moving back for them. "Well—"
"Then one Harry Potter must be you as well," she smiled. "Right Ginny?" she turned to look at the redhead.
Ginny looked to Luna and searched her face before glancing back at Harry. "Eh, yeah."
"Coming?" Luna asked, leading them back to the other prisoners Harry had helped escape.
Ginny followed after Luna, and Harry walked with Ginny, watching the shadows he passed for anyone he might have missed. "How long were you here?" Harry asked her.
"In the cage? Not long. We were moved there after we woke up about a day ago," Ginny answered, watching the cages as well. They walked past Wormtail's and they both deliberately looked away. He wouldn't be leaving with the others, and Harry doubted any of the others minded if he was left unconscious in his cell. Rogan laid unconscious in Harry's old cage, tied up and gaged. No one looked twice his way either.
"So you've been here the whole time?" Harry asked. "They hadn't moved you here after being somewhere else?"
"No. Just here," Ginny glanced up at him. "Why?"
Harry frowned. "Trying to guess why they took you."
"They take everyone who goes against them," Ginny dismissed with a grimace.
Harry figured that was probably true here, but it didn't make sense as to why she was still alive then. "But in Hogsmead, Death Eaters wanted all of the children they had captured. Not dead, and none of the adults. Just children. Why? And why not kill you right out to make a point if he really wants to punish the order or the Light side?"
Ginny's eyes hardened in the small light offered. "I… I don't know. Why not kill us?"
Harry sighed and rose the tip of his wand higher in the air when they came upon the last two people in the line of escaped prisoners. "Here, stay at the back. I'll try and get wands, but until then, look out for the ones who can't protect themselves."
Luna turned her head at Harry. "The muggles," she stated.
"Yes, the muggles here. I don't know how many there are here, but don't let anyone fall behind. Everyone leaves here."
"You sure you can offer that?" Ginny asked turning from him and heading towards the back of the line. Luna's face didn't change except for a small raised eyebrow, and Harry walked towards the front.
"No. I don't." But he was already this far, so who was he kidding if he wasn't going to get them all out? All he needed to do was—"No," Harry said, coming to a stop. It couldn't be that easy. Could it?
Holding his wand out and thinking of Hogwarts, he waited for the twist in his stomach and the pop in his ears with a ready stance. He thought harder of Hogwarts and where to land, but nothing happened, and Harry didn't move.
He opened his eyes and continued forwards. So, then, not that easy. There were anti-apparation spells, and probably anti-porkey spells as well. He would have to get out of the boundaries of wherever he was to get them all out together in a portkey. Wonderful, but it wasn't like he hadn't been expecting that.
Harry made it to the front where Hermione was waiting with the first of the ex-prisoners. Altogether, Harry had seen how many had been in the cage here and he counted twenty six people in front of him. Twenty six people that now relied on him to get them out alive.
Harry brought his hands together. "Right," he said with a clap. "You want to make it to the outside, you're going to need to keep close to the ground, keep quiet, and keep up. If you don't—" Harry thought about what to say, and then shrugged at the stares pointed his way. "—you'll probably die."
Harry heard Hermione scoff beneath her breath. It wasn't the most graceful of speeches, Harry knew, but looking at the serious gazes back at him, he thought it had done the trick. "Ready?" Harry asked. He turned before someone could answer him, because Merlin he wasn't even ready. "Alright," Harry whispered to himself, grabbing the edge of the front door. "Go."
He pulled and opened the door as quiet as he could. The door lead to a well lit room with wine bottles hanging from shelves, and a table with magic playing cards shuffling themselves in the middle. Hermione came up behind Harry. "There are two seats. One was the blonde. Where's the other?"
Harry looked around the empty room. That was a very good question. Where was the other? "Stay towards the shadows, and keep your eyes open."
Hermione glanced over at him and Harry looked back at her with a straight face. Harry thought it had been good advice for her. Her face showed that she didn't think so. "Don't tell me what to do wizard."
Hermione turned to go back to where she had been, but Harry grabbed at the back of her hand, stopping Hermione where she stood. "Don't," Harry said, keeping her hand warm in his for a second before dropping it. He didn't know why he'd grabbed her, but he knew he didn't want her getting too far away from him. Some part in the back of Harry's mind reminded him that this wasn't his best friend, but a witch hunter who's probably killed someone like him before. The other part of his brain didn't care. He wasn't going to let her just leave. "I just don't want you getting blasted through the walls," Harry said, meeting her eyes squarely.
Hermione looked back at him with very serious eyes. "I know how to protect myself."
And Harry didn't doubt it for a second.
He could practically see the gears turning in her head, probably thinking of ways she could take him down. She might not have a wand, but that didn't mean that she couldn't hurt him if she wanted to. "I know you can," Harry answered. Harry motion for the group to come forwards. "Come on, let's get them out of here."
"There's that voice again, telling me what to do."
Hermione didn't sound angry, so Harry grinned as he opened the wooden door out of the wine filled room. "Let's go," he whispered behind him. "Quietly."
Hermione huffed softly, but followed him out.
It was a long chamber that he had walked out into. Dark stone lined the floor and walls, and the only source of light was the enormous cracked windows that were spaced throughout them. Sunshine on both sides looking in. It was more of a relief than anything. "We're not in Azkaban," Harry whispered relieved.
"Any idea where we are?" Hermione asked at his heels.
"No idea." Harry walked forwards, glancing out the windows. Nice stone walls with very clean windows. Not a place to hold prisoners all day.
There were Death Eaters outside. Patrolling or just going for a walk, Harry didn't know, but he knew he didn't want them seeing him. Harry ducked beneath the windows, keeping himself low to the ground. He looked back at the group behind him. "There are Death Eaters outside. Keep yourself out of their line of sight." He turned back around, and kept moving forwards.
Harry slowly made it to the other side of the long hallway without being spotted. Hermione was right behind him, only a breath after he'd stepped away and walked towards a thick wooden door that seemed to be his exit. Harry was still looking at the door when Hermione came up beside his quietly. "They're taking too long."
Harry frowned and looked behind him at the twenty five other people. Hermione was right, they weren't even halfway across yet, taking their time and treading softly.
"If we don't hurry, they'll notice that we're gone," Hermione whispered.
"I know," Harry said watching the prisoners move closer.
"How long until the blonde wakes up?"
Harry frowned deeper. Rogan. He'd nearly forgotten. "Shortly." Hermione pinched her lips together, and Harry moved to the edges of the window. "Hurry up!" he whispered at them fiercely. Some of them looked up with wide eyes. They were trying, he knew, but it wasn't fast enough. "We have to keep moving!"
"Some are hurt!" Ginny whispered back at him from behind the lines with bright eyes.
Harry stomped on the urge to shrug. "Quickly!" he said. Did she not see how little time they had? Rogan was surely awake by now, and he could only be missing for so long.
It took another three minutes for them all to get across. Harry already had the next door open. "Come on," he ordered, and led them out.
There were hallways, and rooms, foyers, and sitting areas, but as Harry began to get himself deeper and deeper into the maze of rooms, the less sure he became of where he was going. Green colors followed him with every room, and black furniture sat in every available space. Expensive. Top rate magical fixtures. Death Eaters wouldn't keep fourteen year olds in a place like Azkaban. They'd be somewhere familiar. Somewhere like a school, or…
"I think I know where we are," Harry said, stopping for Hermione.
Hermione sagged against a wall closest to him. "Wonderful. Could you find its front door?"
Harry looked around the room he had stopped in filled with magical paintings that seemed to be asleep, and turned to let the people behind him catch up. "I don't think we can leave through its front doors."
"If we're where I think we are," Harry started, feeling a sinking stone fall through his middle, "then we won't even make it to the front door."
Hermione's gaze was locked onto his face, searching his expression with a parting mouth. She turned behind her to make sure no one was behind her, then stepped closer to Harry, and dropped her voice to a whisper. "Where are we?" she asked, looking up at him.
Harry looked over at the rows of paintings that seemed to all be related to each other like a family tree. All had blonde hair and very sharp facial features that seemed to the cut the canvas they slept on. All the fame family, sitting proudly framed on walls, bearing their family name high on the walls. Harry found that it looked very typical for a family of old purists. He looked back to Hermione who was still very close to him. Ginny and others followed in behind Hermione and Harry made eye contact with her before looking back to Hermione. "The Malfoy Manor."
Hermione didn't look as deeply disturbed as Harry felt, but Ginny gasped and some of the other prisoners who Harry thought to have Wizarding blood hunched in on themselves and muttered to one another. Hermione watched everyone's reactions. "Who are the Malfoys?"
"A dark Wizarding family."
"A 'pure blood'?" Hermione asked seriously.
"Yeah. Come on, let's go through another door."
Harry started to close the door and Hermione stared around him into the paintings room. "Why? What's wrong with—"
Too fast for Harry to stop, an old painting that looked as old as Hogwarts opened his eyes and immediately eyed Hermione like he could smell a person without a wand in his presence. His face frowned, and Harry stumbled back, trying to get out his eyesight. He was too late he realized because in the next moment, because the painting started screaming at the top of his lungs. "MUD BLOODS LOOSE IN THE HOUSE. BLOOD TRAITORS AND MUGGLES IN THE HOUSE OF MALFOY. MUDBLOODS AND TRAITORS!"
Harry slammed the door shut and grabbed Hermione's arm. He opened the door adjacent to him and sprinted through the rooms ahead of him with Hermione following in his hand. The screams of the painting followed him and instead of getting quieter as he ran farther, it seemed to follow him and get louder with his every step. He saw Ginny's red hair flash in the side of his vision, and heard the thunderous pounding of escaped prisoners at his feet. They were all following him, and now the house definitely knew they were gone.
He needed to get them outside. Get a portkey.
Harry passed into another hallway with huge windows on each side. Green fields were on both sides around him with a scattering of dark woods beyond it, and no Death Eaters were patrolling through them. Harry figured they must be inside the house by now, looking for all of them. Harry pointed to the window with his wand. Reducto, he thought, and the glass shattered to the ground.
He jumped over the shards and lifted himself over to the grass on the other side. He turned to everyone behind him, and stared at their wide eyes. Wordless magic. Right. They probably wouldn't like that too much considering where they were. Oh well. Harry motioned them forwards fiercely. "Come on! We haven't got all day!"
Hermione was the first to come forwards, and she bypassed his helping hands, jumping over the broken window swiftly and landing beside him with controlled moves. Harry tried not to be too surprised at her and turned to the rest of the mix of muggles and wizards. With her next to him, both Harry and Hermione helped people jump over the glass and wooden frame of the window to the grassy area around them as fast as they could. Luna was last, and when she crossed over with Harry's hand on her hip and Hermione's hand her other, the back doors of the hallway were thrown open and wooden splinters flew through the air.
Harry figured his good luck this far had had a good run.
Harry reached down and picked a stone off the ground. He pointed his wand at it and thought Portus to himself. He thought of Hogwarts, and its green grassy hills. Of its giant wooden front door. He pulled his wand away and tossed the stone to Ginny who was staring at him like she was waiting for his word. "It's a portkey. You know what that is right?"
Ginny nodded at him and tightened her hand around the stone like it was a life line, which considering, probably was.
Harry lowered his head towards her. "Then you know how it works. Get them all together in the trees. You have forty five seconds," he said quickly. "Alright? Now run." Ginny was frozen beside him and the people around him turned to him. "Run!" he ordered, pointing to the woods behind him. "RUN!" Hermione didn't move and Harry stared her straight in the face. "You too. I don't have time to protect you."
"Magic Hermione. You can't fight that from here. Run. All of you, RUN NOW. GO!" he blasted a window closest to them with a wave of his hand. Hermione watched the window fall, and she kept his eyes with hers for a split moment.
"We're not done." And then she was pulling the hand of someone with a twisted ankle to hobble faster away from him. Like a gun in a muggle movie going off in a foot race, those that had followed him ran to the woods after Hermione.
Harry didn't turn to watch them run. He looked back to the opened doors and watched as hooded and normal looking wizards and witches started filing through the door with their wands high in the air. Harry threw a stream of blasting charms though the broken window. Stone cracked, and someone screamed on the other side.
They needed time to run as far as they could. Out of the line of spells. They didn't have enough wands to make it far with that many people, and Harry hoped that in that time, they could outrun the boundary line of anti-apparation and portkey lines. He looked over the edge of the broken window and falling pieces of stone and wood. Death Eaters and open faced wizards were looking through the debris with squinted eyes, looking for him. Harry stood up from his place and pointed his wand at them.
They hadn't seen him yet, so Harry decided to give them a little clue.
"Tell Voldemort I'm looking for him. And that I know his secrets," Harry said calmly, and tipped his wand downwards. Heads turned to him and Harry grinned. Protego Maximus.
A blast of white magic flew from his wand and expanded outwards at the Death Eaters like a moving brick wall. The rest of the windows shattered around the dark wizards and witches and the force of the blast blew them off their feet and through to the other side of the hallway, landing on glass and broken wooden ends.
Harry turned on his spot and started sprinting.
He had, what? Twenty seconds? Fifteen?
He made it to the edges of the forest before he felt the first curse pass beside him.
He ducked behind trees, and followed the lead of trampled grass to see his group of escaped prisoners holding onto a red haired woman in the middle. Ginny had her eyes closed and the stone cupped in both of her hands. It was starting to glow a bright blue.
So even less time than he had originally thought. More like five seconds.
A curse passed his hair and burnt the edge of a fly strand. Harry jerked away and turned to the mob behind him. That had been just a little too close for comfort. But Ginny and the others weren't all gone yet.
"Here I'm over here!" he shouted to get their attention. "Oi! Voldemort!" he yelled. "Voldemort, Voldemort, Voldy-Oldy-Odly-Mort! VOOOOLLLLDEMORT! Over here, I'm – oh Merlin." Harry flattened himself to the ground. Dozens of multicolored spells passed over his body. Curses rebounded from the trees and landed around him. Harry twisted on the ground and rolled as the curses bounced from the trees to the ground. He pushed himself to his feet and ran in the opposite direction of Hermione, Ginny, Luna, and the rest of the escaped prisoners.
"Come on and get me you great baggy pieces of—"
A blast or fire and roaring winds exploded from the right of Harry, lifting stone, dirt, and trees into the air. Harry was blown off his feet and shot across the air. He crashed against the base of a very hard, very large, tree stump. His wand fell from his hand as he fell to the ground, his lungs stopped functioning as his eyes crossed, and his glasses shattered on impact.
He rolled on instinct to his knees and forced his lungs to jump start to life. He gasped in and huffed out air out like a panting dog, trying to remember how to properly breathe. Through his pain, he heard the soft foot falls of a single person walking slowly towards him.
Harry looked up, but only saw splintered glass and various magnified images of blond hair. A man. He must have been tall though, to make Harry look that far up. Long white hair. Down to his shoulders. Not as long as Lucius Malfoy's hair though. So who—
"Away! I will deal with him. Start searches in all the surrounding cities. Now!" someone shouted. A cruel voice that sounded as if it had never been touched by love. To honest though, it sounded familiar. Very familiar. Almost like—
"Saying the Dark Lord's name is an offense punishable by a kiss from a dementor," the smooth, familiar voice of Draco Malfoy said almost conversationally. "I knew blood-traitors where stupid, but I didn't realize that they were all as mentally as unstable as you."
"What can I say?" Harry grinned, looking up. "I'm special."
Harry knew his wand had fallen to the ground at some point. But where. Behind him? Harry shrugged at him. "Probably a little bit of both to be honest."
"Where are the prisoners?" Draco drawled like he was getting bored.
By now? After all that? "Long gone."
Draco knelt beside him and Harry felt the edge of a wand at the underside of his jaw. "Where?"
After that, all Harry felt was pain. Hot, fire consuming, and mind breaking pain. Thousands of needles digging into his bones, his blood boiling in his skin, and dry air carving out his lungs. He didn't know if he screamed, for all he could feel was the pain.
Like a rubber band being pulled back, the pain was suddenly gone and it left Harry gasping on the ground and his stomach rolling. "Where. Are. The prisoners?" Malfoy asked, his face close to Harry's and his voice hard as steel.
Harry had collapsed to the ground when Draco had Crucio-ed him. He was lying nearly face first to the ground with his hands on either side of his face, holding himself up, but he could feel a sharp point digging into his thigh. A stick perhaps. Or a wand.
"We left one behind," Harry gasped, reaching downwards. "He's still there, probably chatting with your brother over fish and chi—"
The pain came again. This time Harry did scream. He knew he was because he could feel his voice shredding itself in pain like an echo in his ears. He didn't count how long it went for, but when the pain stopped, Harry felt at least three years had been shaved off his life. He had the wand in his hand though, and that gave him the strength to open his eyes.
"How do you know of my brother?" Draco raised his voice threateningly, which when Harry thought about lightly, really didn't make any sense considering that he was already on the ground.
"He's sitting next to Wormtail," Harry coughed, turning himself over to he was lying on his back and Draco was kneeling over him with his wand nearly on his nose. Harry grinned. "He's still alive."
"Lucky for you," Draco growled. If Harry could see him, he would have sworn he look relieved.
"Obviously not lucky enough. I've still got your ugly mug in my face," Harry wheezed.
Draco raised the wand and touched it against Harry's nose. "Where did you send the prisoners to?"
Harry smirked at him and kept his lungs moving. He was afraid if he stopped thinking about making his lungs work, they wouldn't again for him. He didn't know how badly he looked, but he could feel his shoulder screaming at him, and blood running down his face. "Far far away."
Draco grimaced at him and raised his wand into air. "Fine. We'll see if you can still be so smart without having your—"
A rock came flying from the side of Harry's vision and straight against Draco's skull. Draco's head snapped to the side, and his body crumpled to the left of Harry, blood falling from his temple and mixing in with his blond hair. He was still breathing, but he no longer had his wand pointed at Harry. Harry stared up in amazement and surprise at where Draco had kneeled over him just a moment ago. How—
Someone ran up beside Harry and Harry looked up to see a closely shaven head and bright eyes. "I thought I told you to run," Harry said lightly.
Hermione scoffed. "Right. Like I'd let you tell me what to do."
Harry stared at her for a moment and then choked out a laugh. "Right."
Hermione reached down and pulled on Harry's arms until he was sitting upright and she was kneeled in front of him where Draco had been not a minuet before. "Are you alright? I saw what he… are you okay?"
"I'll live, but we have to get out of the anti-apparation boundaries before Draco gets back up."
Hermione looked at the blonde. "You know him?"
Hermione helped Harry to his feet. "Sort of?" she repeated.
Harry nodded. "Sort of." He pointed the wand in his hand at his glasses and repaired them so he could see again. He blinked when the glass pulled itself together and Hermione squinted at the product like she was categorizing the information in her mind for later.
"Alright, where's the anti- whatever you called it?"
Harry pointed farther up the hill where the trees got a little thicker. "There. Far enough from the house to come and go without a lot of magic needed."
Hermione nodded with him. "Alright. Ready?"
Harry swallowed and forced his legs to work for him. "Yeah. Let's just go." Before he turned to leave, Harry looked back at Draco for the first time properly. He was wearing expensive clothes, that much was the first thing to stand out to Harry. Much more expensive than he'd even seen on his worlds Draco, and had rings of silver on most fingers, but his eyes seemed sunken in more, and his face a whole lot older. He didn't look like a child. He looked like someone who had been an adult for a while who didn't like the world they were living in and had given up.
Harry looked down over Draco, and then squinted harder when a shiny piece of metal at his neck caught his attention. A necklace? Harry kneeled over Draco and grabbed at the silver chain with a growing foreknowing.
No way in Merlin.
He skimmed the necklace down to the front and found a locket. A great big, ugly looking, green locket with an 'S' on the front.
"Shit," he said.
"What?" Hermione asked, coming beside him.
Harry broke the necklace from around Draco's neck and put it in his pocket. "We'll be needing this later," he told her. Harry felt a sort of gross calm fall over him when the necklace touched his pockets, and he tossed his head to the side to shake out the feeling of the necklace whispering in his ear.
"Alright," Hermione said slowly. "So do we leave him here?"
"Well we're not taking him with us," Harry grinned at her and got to his feet. Hermione put an arm around his waist to help him up.
She grinned back at him. "Fine with me." Hermione half pulled half carried him up the hill, their steps getting faster and faster as Harry got more and more nervous of the unconscious blond behind him. "Here?" Hermione asked, coming to a stop at the top of the hill.
"Yeah. Alright. Hold on tightly to my—"
A flash of green passed by Harry and Harry pulled Hermione to the ground faster than he thought his mind was capable of moving. The curse flew over Hermione's head by a centimeter and passed into a tree behind her. Harry looked down the hill and saw Draco standing up with his wand poised for fighting. Harry cast a stunner, but Draco blocked it with a wave. Harry threw another, but was waved away again. Harry knew what was going to happen before Draco lifted his wand, but he still didn't move away when Draco looked him right in the eye from down the hill and whispered something. The killing curse shot up straight to Harry, and Harry twisted away from its path, pushing Hermione behind him as well.
The curse passed him, and Harry pointed his wand at Draco. This wasn't his Draco. Not the one from his world. There, Draco was a boy who was trapped in circumstances he couldn't get away from. Here, Draco was the 'Dragon Prince'. A man who had completely accepted what he was and what he wanted to do. They were completely different.
So Harry felt no regret when he looked Draco dead in the eye and whispered, "Avada Kedavra."
The spell hit true, but Harry didn't watch long enough for the blond's head to hit the ground. He grabbed Hermione's hand, took a step, felt a tingle pass over his spine, and apparated away back to Hogwarts.
Harry also didn't see Rogan running to his brothers body screaming, and flashing off accidental magic like fireworks on a holiday.
AHHH guys, thanks for the positive feedback :)
Chapter 12: Things to Sort
Harry's feet touched down on the grounds of Hogwarts and he felt himself falling backwards from the impact. Hermione caught him before his legs gave out from under him, and together he and Hermione fell down on the grass in exhaustion.
"Harry?" Hermione asked, squeezing his upper arms like she was asking if he was awake.
"Yeah?" Harry asked lightly. "You okay?"
Hermione choked out a laugh. "Fine. I was going to ask you the same."
Harry felt like his arms were going to fall off and his head was going to explode. Breathing hurt and he thought that his shoulder was probably just one big ugly mess right about now. "Oh I'm just.. brilliant."
"Yeah?" she breathed.
"Yeah," Harry said back conversationally. "You?"
"Oh," Hermione said leaning back on her arms so Harry was against her stomach. "Fantastic. Let's go have another go."
Harry huffed out a laugh. He didn't understand why he was laughing, but the space around him seemed light and her joke caught him off-guard. He smiled. "Yeah. We'll do that." From ahead of him, Harry could see the outlines of robed people running towards them from the Hogwarts castle.
Hermione saw them too. "Where are we?" she asked, looking around her.
Harry figured they were sitting somewhere between Hogwarts and Hogsmead. Just outside of both the protection boarders. Not too far of a walk towards a bed. "Thats castle up there? It's Hogwarts, a Wizarding school of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
"Hogwarts?" Hermione said like she was tasting the word out on her tongue. "A magical school?" she asked sounding surprised and a little suspicious.
"Well where do you think we learned it all? The backyard of our parent's houses?"
"Well… but a school?"
"That would seem to be the most conventional use of learning."
Hermione nudged him with her shoulder. "Oh shut up, I'm just asking."
Harry grinned. "No, I know." He looked back at the tall castle. "To be honest, I didn't quite believe it either."
"You didn't know it existed?"
"When i was a kid? I didn't even know I had magic. I thought I was having some sort of freak accident every time my accidental magic acted up."
"What about your family? They knew right?"
"I grew up with muggles. They told me I was a freak, so eventually I began to believe it."
Hermione frowned at him narrowly. "I thought you said you were a half-blood, not a muggleborn."
"I am a half-blood."
Harry could see the faces of Lily, James, Remus, Mr. Weasley, Fred, and Tonks now from below the hill, running up towards them. "My parents were killed by black magic followers as well." Harry didn't tell her the difference between their situations, but he figured he wouldn't have to. A lost parent is a lost parent.
"When?" Hermione asked lowly.
"I was about a year old."
"Not exactly," Harry muttered out. Later Hermione and Harry would blame it on the exhaustion, but when the group of wizards and witches found them, they found the pair leaning on each other for support and laughing hard enough to wheeze more than a little hysterically.
Harry woke up the hospital wing. Again.
"Morning… or.. well, not," Hermione said from the bed he figured was to his left. Harry groped around for his glasses before he could make out the short haired girl to his left.
Hermione had a book between her hands and was propped up in her bed. She had dark circles under her eyes and whatever scratches she'd gotten in the Malfoy Manor were wrapped up in gauze instead of having been disappeared altogether. Some of her injuries had stains of red blood coming through the cloth. Harry frowned at the wounds.
"Did you… resist treatment?" he said as a greeting.
Hermione sighed and stared back down at her book. "You've been asleep for eight hours. It's nighttime. I'd guess around eleven."
Harry took a closer look at her. "Did you sleep at all?"
Hermione flipped a page. "I'm not tired."
"You're exhausted," Harry argued.
"Right." Harry pushed himself forwards in bed so he could sit upright with Hermione, and immediately regretted his decision. His shoulder screamed out in pain and Harry nearly fell back in bed at the shock of the pain. He took weight of his left shoulder and pushed his back against the headboard.
Hermione didn't miss his wince and hiss of pain. "You shouldn't be moving it," she tisked.
"You should let madam Pomfrey take care of your cuts. She's a talented Medi Witch."
Hermione glanced at him from the corner of her eye curiously, winning over her book. "A what?"
"The same thing as a doctor, just in magical terms."
"A magical doctor?" she stated flatly. "Wait does that mean… Do your people have medical diseases?" Hermione asked, abandoning the book altogether and turning to him a little from her bed. "Real sicknesses with magical properties?"
"You do realize we're normal people? We're not an entirely different species. And, hang on, you know that you're one of 'us' right? You have magical blood in your veins." Harry's shoulder flared in pain again at his movements and Harry reached up and cupped his shoulder gently, like his hand would suck away the pain.
Hermione down at the closed book in her lap. "Accidental magic," she stated quietly. "It's not the same thing as being…" She looked to Harry. "Whatever you are."
It was Harry's turn to look away. He glanced around him at the number of filled beds in the Hospital Wing with him. "Is everyone alright? Did they—"
"The doco—Medi Witch gave them all something to sleep. They all made it back fine in case you were wondering. The redhead had a lot of visitors. A lot of blubbering really." Hermione reopened her book.
"Are you sure?"
Harry took his wand from beside the bed and swung his legs over the side of his bed. Hermione watched him from the corner of her eye, and when she saw what he was going to do, she sat completely up in her bed. "Harry!" she shout whispered. "What are you doing?"
"Coming over to you," Harry grimaced. He stood himself up, and felt a rolling blackness pass over his eyes and face. He stood still for a moment so he could catch his breath and started to take small, baby steps towards Hermione's bed.
"Don't—" Hermione raised a hand as if she would catch him if he suddenly pitched forwards.
"Don't worry I won't collapse on you," Harry tried to grin as he came towards her bed and sat down on the edge next to her.
Hermione scooted closer to him like she wasn't sure he wouldn't just fall over on her. "Are you sure? You look a little pale Harry. Maybe you—"
"I'm fine Hermione. I just—" Harry took a deep breath and let the pain settle in his bones before he looked back at her. "Needed to take some baby steps."
"Baby steps?" she asked with a raised eyebrow.
Harry grinned. "Baby steps." He glanced at her injuries with a sigh. "With you, this will be your baby steps."
Hermione looked down at the gauze on her arms before staring back up at Harry. "What are you talking about?"
Harry held up his wand, and Hermione went very still. Harry lowered it very slowly and set the piece of wood on his lap. "Don't worry, I'm not going to force it on you."
"Force what?" Hermione asked, very voice suddenly sharp and her eyes cold.
"Healing your wounds," Harry said calmly. He knew she had had bad experience after bad experience with magic, but that didn't mean he could try to change her perspective on it just a little bit. "I know you wouldn't let Madame Pomfrey do it to you because you don't trust her."
Hermione's eyes softened a little, and Harry suddenly wondered if he had missed something. "You think I trust you?"
Harry smiled at her. "I know you wouldn't have saved my life if you didn't think I was worth saving."
Hermione tipped her head towards him and smiled from the corners of her mouth. "True."
Harry licked his lips. "So will you let me help you?"
Hermione glanced at the wand in his lap. "Why do you want to help me?"
"Well, you did save my life."
Harry dropped the smiled when she didn't smile back at him. Hermione wasn't going for the light tone in his voice. She frowned. "No but why?" She looked up at him. "Why try to…" she waved her hand around at the room. "…desensitize me to magic? It's obvious you've been trying to prove to me that magic is good as also bad ever since you met me. Do you want something from me? From the other hunters? Do you want me to join you because I look like your friend from another world?" She shook her head, and Harry could practically see the gears turning in her brain full of the different possibilities. Harry didn't like where this was going. Like she seemed to think he was using her.
"No," Harry said immediately. The possibilities stopped rolling over Hermione's eyes and she looked at him, shaken and still, Harry could see, completely exhausted.
"What?" she asked.
Harry twirled the wand in his hands. "Okay, so maybe.. partially, yes I'm doing it because you look like my Hermione, but it's only because I know her brilliance, and when I see you, I see the potential." Harry looked up at her and she stared back at him with a calm expression. "I've known my Hermione Granger for nearly eight years. I know who she is, and I know how clever she is."
Hermione glared at him fiercely. "I'm not her."
"No," Harry nodded slowly, careful of her piercing eyes, "you're not." Harry twirled the wand between his fingers. "But you're still clever. More clever in some ways than my Hermione is, because you've gone through different experiences." He looked at her wounds. "My Hermione, for the first couple of years I knew her, trusted adults first. Thought they would help her when no one else could. She trusted them too much, and when we needed them, we were … uh, screwed over." Harry cleared his throat. "Multiple times."
Harry turned to Hermione and offered the wand up to her between them in his palm. Hermione didn't take it, but Harry didn't expect her to. "You on the other hand, while still brilliant, have already seen the world at its worst and know the muggle population more than anyone I know here."
"Because I am a muggle," she said quietly.
Harry met her eyes. "No. You're not."
Hermione didn't say anything back.
Harry started up again. "So when I say that I want to help you, I mean it. Not because I'm mistaking you for a friend I have in a different world, but because you're a witch. You were born to be a witch. You were supposed to be the greatest mind of the century. You still are, I have no doubt with other schools, but for the magical world, you were prized because of what you could do when you put your mind to it."
Hermione looked at him for a moment, before her gaze fell to the wand between them. She reached out to touch it, but at the last moment, pulled her hand away and looked back up to Harry. "Baby steps?" she asked.
Harry smiled and then nodded. "Baby steps."
It took Harry less than three minutes to actually heal Hermione's scrapes and cuts. It took more than thirty minutes to answer her questions about the pronunciation, the hand movements, the wand, and every other magical thing Hermione could come up with to ask about when Harry was treating her. When he was done, Harry moved over to his bed beside her and they talked about the amount of magic it would have taken for a person's body to be transported to a different dimension and different theories on how to bring them back.
Harry found it all quite fun. After a while though, Harry noticed Hermione's eyes shutting periodically, and he remembered that she hadn't had the privilege to sleep yet. So he pretended to be falling asleep as well, and when he was sure she had followed his lead and was deeply under, Harry sat up in bed, ignored his shoulder, and stood up.
"That was… quite the conversation," Harry heard someone say behind him.
Harry turned with his wand pointed at the stranger before his mind could process who had said it. He nearly dropped his wand when he realized he was pointing it at James Potter. Harry blinked rapidly and lowered the wand a little sheepishly. "Er.. sorry. I didn't hear you."
James Potter moved closer to Harry, his face falling in to the lamp light that hung above in the ceiling even this late at night. "No, it's quite all right. I was just uh… well, I was just keeping watch over Ginny while her families out."
Harry didn't know if he should drop the conversation there and leave or actually talk to the man who was his … sort-of namesake. He put his hands in the pockets of his rumpled robes. The necklace was still there, sitting silently in his pocket. Well, that made his next trip certainly easier then. "None of the Weasley's could make it to see her?" he asked.
James looked back at where Ginny was supposedly sleeping. "They did actually, for a while. But then the news broke out about the Malfoy Manor attack in the prophet and well… it's been chaotic. I thought it best for a family friend to watch over her while everyone's… out."
Harry nodded. He hadn't expected anyone to be waiting for him to wake up. Not really. "I'd bet."
James nodded after him and put his own hands in his pockets like he was trying to starve off an awkward moment. "Are you alright after all of that?"
Harry blinked. "What? The imprisonment? It wasn't so bad. Better than I expected to be honest."
James smiled good naturedly. "Didn't scare you ?"
Harry shrugged and found himself grinning back. "Had worse, so it wasn't that big of a deal."
James's smile faltered and Harry looked away. Right. It was awkward again. James cleared his throat. "But are you, umm… are yo—what I'm trying to say is, are you okay after killing Draco Malfoy?"
Harry turned to look back at James, and realized with a start, that his hazel eyes were searching Harry's green with such rapt attention, Harry was sure his thoughts were being read out like a borrowed library book.
"Er…" Harry thought back to James's question. "I'm fine. Mostly. I knew what had to be done and it was either him or me." He turned to James again. "How did you know it…"
"How did I know it had been you?" James asked. "Hermione. She refused to be helped by Madam Pomfrey, so instead of sleeping, she was sharing her story with the order."
"She actually talked to you all?"
"Well, she did when she was moved next to you."
Harry turned to look back at Hermione, and found himself watching her breathe. At least he knew that she was starting to warm up to him then. He turned back. "She's an amazing witch… well she will be. I'm sure she would have cooperated when she felt you deserved it."
James coughed out a laugh. "Yes, I'm sure that given time, she wouldn't have tried to breathe fire at us through her eyes."
Harry grinned. "She couldn't have been that bad."
James pointed a finger at him. "You didn't see her. We almost couldn't get you two to the hospital wing with all the commotion she was making."
Harry smiled and relaxed against the wood at the foot of his hospital bed. Harry thought about who would have had to dealt with her temper, and he switched his weight between his feet uneasily. "How is… er, how's Jonathan?"
James stared at him and sighed out, crossing his arms over his chest. "Safe, thanks to you."
"But?" Harry prompted, because he doubted Jonathan would have taken being shoved out of a war kindly.
"But… he was angry for a while," James admitted. "He thought you had betrayed him, and he was sour for a couple of hours."
"And now?" Harry asked. It didn't matter what Jonathan thought of him, Harry knew that at the surface, but at the same time, he didn't want the only person who had been genuinely open with him when he had first gotten here to hate him. Call him crazy, he liked Jonathan as a friend. He was probably what Harry would have been like if there had never been a war, or a dead family to deal with.
"Now? He's fine. He even came to sit by your bed side for a couple of hours before Lilly made him go home," James smiled casually.
"That's… that's good. I'm glad he's okay." Harry felt awkward. Again. He thought now was probably the best time to leave. He had turned on his foot towards the door, when James's voice caught him in place.
"You don't have to look out for him, you know," James said.
"I—"Harry turned around confused. "What?"
"I know Jonathan gets… overwhelming sometimes. He tends to stick too close to some people too fast. And I know that you've already made it clear that we are not your family. So I just want you to know that it's okay if—"
"If what? I tell him I don't want him as my family?" Harry interrupted. "That he needs someone else to play big brother?"
James hardened. "I wouldn't have put it in those words, no, but if—"
"He's fine where he is, doing what he's doing. Being Jonathan," Harry stated.
James grinned. "Good."
"Good?" Harry asked, suddenly confused. Had he missed something? Did he—why was he smiling like that?
James nodded. "Good."
Harry tipped his head to the side. "I—okay. I'll just be…seeing you later then."
Harry had turned back around towards the door when James's voice stopped him again. "Where are you going?"
Harry pointed at the doors. "Outside."
"Madam Pomfrey said you needed mandatory bed rest."
"You were half dead."
"But I'm fine now."
James walked up after him. "Where are you really going?"
Harry didn't quite know what to say. He just sort of spat out the truth. "The girl's bathroom."
That apparently, had been the last thing James had expected to hear. "The—I'm sorry the what?"
Harry tucked his hands back into his pockets. "Visiting Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom."
James stared for a second, and then nodded soundly. "Right. Okay, let's go."
James took off in front of him, and Harry whipped himself around in surprise. "Wait what? I didn't—"
"Madam Pomfrey would have my head if she knew I had let you walk out of here. The least I can do is tell her I'm watching over you while you're supposed to be on mandatory bed rest," James smirked confidently. "Come on."
"I—Merlin," Harry resigned with a sigh. "Alright, hold up, I still can't move my shoulder about too much!"
The walk to the girl's bathroom wasn't as awkward as Harry had thought it was going to be. It was actually, comforting in a weird way. Someone to talk to. James would often more likely laugh at him than talk, but that just made Harry's spirits lighten that much more. He was rarely smiling even in his own world. Between Ginny and him going on a 'break', and then attending all of the funerals felt from the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry rarely had time to not break down and try not to cry.
Honestly, Harry felt it had been the pressing media that held him together. Well, that and Ron and Hermione. With every passing day, the Prophet would plaster his face over the newspapers and every family that could get ahold of his hands would shake it and thank him for his work. They would tell him of how their children were safe, how they couldn't ever thank him enough, how they would always remember him for this, and whenever they let go of his hand, all Harry could see were the rows and rows of covered bodies inside of Hogwarts after the war.
Then a picture would flash, and Harry would turn towards the light. The Daily Prophet called him Hope.
Harry didn't smile for the camera, but if his face was kept them all moving forwards, then Harry wouldn't turn away. He kept his face straight because he couldn't smile, and he couldn't move when he was being thanked.
So it was nice when he didn't have to say anything back to James as he talked quietly down stairs and hallways through the castle. He didn't have to apologize for someone else's loss when they told him that he had held up their family's revenge by killing Voldemort. He didn't have to shake back a hand he didn't want to touch, or purposely look in control when he felt like falling against a wall and just holding his head.
He smiled when James would talk wildly with his hands, or flash his wand annoyingly at sleeping portraits for his enjoyment. He wouldn't walk to close, like he was in Harry's space, but just barely kept a distance that didn't feel uncomfortable.
It set Harry's nerves down. He grinned along with his stories and would listen when James had decided that humming seemed like the best thing to do instead of rambling. It wasn't complete silence, but it was nice. Something peaceful.
Eventually, they made in to Myrtle's bathroom.
James opened the door for Harry, and Harry walked in before him. The room was just the same as it was in his world. Empty, cold, and as Harry walked farther in the room, he felt ghostly eyes on him. Myrtle was staring at him from her toilet stall. Harry looked to her and nodded politely. Her eyes widened in return, like she was surprised he hadn't done something nasty towards her.
"Sorry Myrtle, I'll only be in here for a moment. We'll leave you alone again pretty soon," Harry said.
James followed him in. "Isn't this the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets?" he asked, looking around. Harry looked up in surprise for a moment before he remembered how he'd shared his memories. Right.
Harry nodded. "That's where I'm going."
James looked to the ring of sinks dryly. "Oh." He nodded. "Alright then."
"The basilisk will still be there."
James nodded, wandering around the sinks like was staring at them for the first time, but stopped when the words seemed to process through his mind. "Wai- What?" he turned to look at Harry. "If it's still down there—"
"I need basilisk poison," Harry said evenly.
James looked like he was backtracking. "Basilisk poison?" James asked. "Why—"
"I found a horcrux at the Manor. I need to get rid of it, and basilisk poison can do that."
James's eyes were wide open. "You have a horcrux? On you? Right now?" he asked disbelieving. "Why didn't you go to Dumbledore? Tell him that—"
"Dumbledore isn't my keeper," Harry interrupted, looking away from James and marching up to the bathroom sinks calmly. "And he doesn't have anything that can destroy a horcrux. He doesn't even know what they are."
James came beside him. "And you think this is the way?"
"I know it is."
"So you're going to march in and almost die again, or worse, actually die?"
Harry ignored James and told the sink to open. He didn't feel himself slipping into a different language, but from the sudden closed face of James, he figured he'd done what he wanted. The sinks began to move and sink in towards the ground. James took a step forwards to take a closer look. Harry stood where he was.
"Does it feel weird?" James asked, looking down the deep tunnel in front of him. "To speak Parseltongue?"
Harry moved to the edge of the hole with James. "Not really." He glanced sideways at James. "You can go back you know. I don't need you to come with me."
James glanced back at him dryly. "My Lily might not look it but she can give a tongue lashing to match Minerva's. Don't ask me to do something that might actually kill me."
"A basilisk might kill you."
James made an acknowledging face. "Death by a giants snakes poisonous teeth is better than the poison of an angry wife."
Harry grinned lightly. He didn't feel all that scared going down to the Chamber of Secrets. He was sore, yes, and tired, but he wasn't scared. He'd been there before. He'd done this by himself, and when he'd only been a second year. He had had the sword of Gryffindor to help him last time, sure, but then again this time, he wouldn't have the memory of an angry Dark Lord putting him on a speed timer. He had a sort of plan planned out about how he was going to do this, but he doubted the basilisk was going to just hand over some of its poison, or for that matter, a tooth.
"You're good at transformation, yes?" Harry asked, stepping closer to the hole just at the edge of his feet.
"Pretty good, yeah," James said, coming to the edge beside him. "Why? Are you going to turn the big snake into a flower?"
Harry didn't bother that with a response. "No. I need a cauldron though. Can you spare me one?"
James looked at Harry, surprised. "I…" James blinked and drew his wand. "Yes. Hold a minute." James muttered under his breath and used a loose bathroom tile to turn it into a large, grey cauldron before Harry. James levitated it before Harry and Harry grabbed it from the air easily.
Harry looked down the tunnel and cleared his throat. "Another thing?" Harry asked.
James looked up at Harry from under his fringe. "Hm?"
Harry licked his lips. He didn't know if James would do this for him, and if he didn't then he would have to do it himself. At a later time, which actually, might just kill him if talking to the basilisk didn't work out. Harry looked over to James. "I need something else. Something I think you might be able to get."
James glanced down at the tunnel before the both of them hesitantly. "Ah, and that would be..?"
Harry's hands tightened on the cauldron. "I need the sword of Gryffindor."
James opened his mouth, and then glanced at the cauldron cautiously. His eyebrows twitched like he was putting together puzzle pieces in his mind and he looked to Harry again with a frown at the corners of his lips. "Do you… You have no idea what you're going to do down there do you?"
"I'm going to destroy the horcrux," Harry stated flatly.
"And you've an idea on how to do it then with a giant snake beneath our feet?" James pulled a hand through his hair, making it stand wildly around his face and crossed his arms over his chest.
Harry swallowed. No, not exactly. He didn't know exactly what he was going to do, but he knew the horcrux needed to be destroyed. The last time he'd been hunting horcruxes, he had had a poisoned blade from the basilisk. Or a fang of the basilisk. The other option was fiendfyre, which, Harry thought with a slight shudder, just wasn't going to happen.
"That's why I need the sword."
"From Dumbledore," James raised an eyebrow flatly.
"The sword. You want the sword from Dumbledore, and you want me to go and get it?" he asked.
Harry saw James's rising reluctance like a building brick wall. "Yes," Harry said. He needed it. More than that though, he needed to go alone. If the basilisk didn't react well to Harry's presence there, he would strike out. Harry didn't know if he could re-defeat the basilisk, but he knew he wouldn't be able to look after himself and James at the same time. One of them would get hurt, or worse, die, and that had Harry's insides twisted inside him.
"You think you can use the basilisk's venom to absorb into the blade?"
Harry nodded stiffly. "Yes."
"By yourself." Harry knew that James knew if the older man left to get the sword, Harry would go down to the Chamber of secrets by himself. James was staring at Harry with a blank face and hands tucked into the pockets of his robes with tight shoulders.
Harry wondered briefly what the older man was thinking. That Harry was truly insane? That the kid who looked like what his dead child would have looked like was …dangerous ? Harry thought so. He probably would have thought the same thing.
Harry stared defiantly at James looking over him. "Yes."
James looked down at the hem of his robes and shook his head. "That's not…" he shook his head again. "No." He raised his face to Harry's. "I'm not leaving you to go down there by yourself."
Harry felt a curl of anger rise in his chest. "I can do this by myself." Harry could. He'd been doing it for years, at the end, it ended up just being him. Him and his shadow, walking through the dangers and living through the colors of spells that followed his steps. He could do this.
Something in James's face died out, and he looked off down at the tunnel, letting his wild hair cover up the most important planes of his face so Harry couldn't see what had happened. His shoulders looked low to the ground, like he'd given up, or accepted something. Like something heavy fell on his shoulders or fell away, leaving him weak in his stance.
"I know you can," James said to the hole. "I've seen it. Your memories. I know you can, and you will without anyone next to you."
Er.. yes? Harry was put off. He didn't know what exactly to say that. "Well, … good. Er I—"
"But you don't have to anymore," James stated thickly, coming up with his hair falling away from his face. "You don't have to be alone. Not here," James said, his face sincere and honest. Like he was speaking straight to the child locked away in the back of Harry's mind and insecurities. "Not with me. Not when you're here. I won't leave you."
The words echoed. Harry swallowed past a swollen throat. "You don't have to—"
"I want to Harry," James said, cutting him off.
Annnnd of course he did. Just what Harry really didn't want to hear right now. He shook his head and ran a hand over his head, sending his hair flying across his forehead. "I can't- you can't come with me."
James studied Harry for a moment, before stepping back and crossing his hands over his chest. He grinned cheerfully. "Well, you could try stopping me."
Oh for the love of Merlin. "I need that sword."
James shrugged. "Fine." He clapped his hands together loudly, making the ringing echo across the tiles like a war bell. "Dobby!"
Harry's eyes felt like they'd pop out of his head. Dobby? of course, everyone else in this world, so why not-
There was a 'pop' in the echoing room, and suddenly, a big eyed, familiar house elf appeared in front of the pair wearing a dress coat and mismatching socks with a knitted hat on the back of his head. "Dobby sirs?" Dobby asked, standing tall and bowing.
"Dobby?" Harry gasped with a smile.
The house elf looked up at his name over at Harry. "The sir knows Dobby?" Dobby asked, his green tennis-ball like eyes widening larger.
"Yes- no, no not really. i just- it's- uh, nice to ...see you Dobby."
"Harry Potter is kind," Dobby said, bowing his head forwards a little before looking back to James. "Mr. Potter? You called for Dobby?"
James rubbed his hands together. "Yes, um, well, I would understand if you didn't want to do this, as its not under your working contract between us, but er… i need you to get something for Harry and myself."
"Mr. Potter?" Dobby asked. "Dobby will serve the Potter family until he dies sir. For saving him from the other family. Dobby will do whatever Mr. Potter asks sir."
Harry looked over to James. Dobby worked for the Potter family then? After… saving him from the Malfoys? What was-
"Yes, I know Dobby, the thing is, the thing you would be getting would have to be from Dumbledore's office." James was looking at Dobby, and the house elf was staring back him unblinking. "Something you might have to steal from the headmaster."
Dobby blinked, but Harry didn't see anything close to fear or shock on the house elf's face. "Is that what you wishes sir?"
James looked to Harry before turning back to Dobby. "Yes Dobby, get it as fast as you can. Then bring it to Harry. Only Harry, do you understand?"
Dobby bowed. "Harry Potter is part of the Potter family, he is a young master then too." Dobby turned to bow to Harry as well and disappeared with a 'pop' in the next moment.
"He-" Harry said, looking after where he vanished.
"Alright, no excuses now," James said, interrupting Harry and standing in front of the entrance again. "Dobby will get the sword, you have the cauldron to get the poison and the horcrux." James grinned lightly and put his hands into his pockets. "I'm coming with you."
Harry was silent. No more excuses, he was right. He wanted to come with him. Help him. Harry turned to the tunnel as well. "Fine. Ready?"
"Always," James said behind him. "And if you think you're going to lead me down there just to kill me later on I'll have to-" James's joke cut off halfway. James breathed in sharply and grabbed the back of Harry's shoulder. "What the bleedin hell is that?"
Harry looked behind at James, took in his shocked face, and looked up to what he was staring at somewhere up in the sky in front of them.
Harry's heart beat picked up and his face split into a smile. "Ron! Hermione! Luna!" he called brightly. In front of him was the glowing blue mirror that Harry had seen in the hospital wing two days ago. His friends were standing close together on the other side of the mirror, looking at him in shock, and then back at James like they couldn't believe their eyes. Luna, of the three, was the only one who didn't look a bit put off.
"Harry?" Hermione asked.
"Woah mate, I know you said that your parents were alive here and all, but I didn't expect them to be so…"
"Alive?" Harry finished.
"Yeah. Yeah exactly."
"Ever so eloquently Ron," Hermione said beside him.
Luna smiled. "He really does look just like you."
"I-" Harry said.
James stepped beside him and looked upwards at his friends. "Harry?" He looked down at Harry and raised an eyebrow, something Harry was sure he couldn't actually do. "Care to explain?"
Chapter 13: Black Magic Worries
"Uhhh… right," Harry started. Above him, Hermione, Ron, and Luna were staring down at Harry and James with a mix of surprise, and wonder. James was staring back up at them with a completely blank face.
Harry felt a little awkward in the middle. "James, uh, meet Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, and Luna Lovegood. Guys, meet … eh, James Potter."
James looked over each one of his friends, taking in their appearances, and saying nothing, though his eyes studied Ron and Hermione more than the ravenclaw beside them.
Ron blinked. "So it's really true then. Voldemort is alive in this world as well, isn't he?" He stared at James like he was checking to see if the man in front of him was the apparition instead of himself.
James nodded, still silent.
"You're alive," Ron said quietly. He seemed to realize he'd said this out loud, and he looked up sheepishly at Hermione before looking back at Harry. "Bit of a shock, i'd guess."
Harry grinned. "You've no idea."
Ron glanced at James again and then at the bathroom behind them suspiciously. "And you made it to wander around a girls bathroom."
"Moaning Myrtle's bathroom," Harry corrected offhandedly. "And what's you mean 'made it'? You saw me before. Of course I made it."
James looked over to Harry surprised and Harry rolled his shoulders back awkwardly.
"Well yeah, but after I talked to you, Hermione told me that wizards who thought people could travel in between worlds would die if they traveled inside their bodies. That only their souls could travel through and live."
Harry looked down at himself briefly. "But I'm fine."
Ron raised an eyebrow. "Exactly." He glanced at Hermione. "So if they were wrong about that, all those theorists could be wrong about other things as well, right?" Luna nodded silently beside him. "Mate, you really could be in a different universe then, right?" Ron asked.
Harry shrugged. "Seems like it."
"Well, then how do we get you back?"
Harry looked back at James. James met his eyes, and looked away, giving Harry a sort of silent permission. Why Harry had even looked back and asked was something that only crossed Harry's mind as weird after he had turned around to face his friends.
"Well, I think I … I should start off with how I found myself here," Harry said, looking into each of his friends eyes slowly. "And then explain why I can't go home yet."
Harry recited his story.
Everything from how he got there, to sharing his memories with the Order, to the battle in Hogsmead, to getting out of Malfoy manor, and making his way to the Chamber of secrets with the horcrux necklace in his pocket. He told about killing Malfoy and riding the dragon, and finding out that Ron, Neville and Hermione weren't alive here in the sense that they were in his world. When he was done, Hermione was the first to speak.
"So I'm a witch hunter?"
"Of a sort I guess," Harry nodded.
"Have I…" Hermione choked. "Have I killed other wizards before?"
Harry shook his head. "I don't really know. Maybe. Maybe not, I haven't asked her yet."
"And you let her inside Hogwarts?" Ron asked furiously. "With everybody else?"
"She won't hurt anyone," Harry argued quietly. "She just… needs a push in the right direction."
"In the magical community?" Hermione asked.
"That's in total shite over there right now?" Ron asked a beat behind her. "Great idea, just give her another reason to despise us, seeing us fight each other over the purity of blood. That'll go over well."
"Look," Harry said, shaking his head and coming back to the subject and problems at hand. "If something happens, I'll… fix it, but for right now, I have to go talk to a basilisk, so can we really do this later?"
"Later?" Ron asked, echoing him. "What, do you think that we can just talk to you whenever we very well please with this mirror? It doesn't work that way Harry! We've got to talk now! Before-"
Hermione looked off on her side of the world and frowned. "Ron, Luna… we're going to have to-"
"Harry Potter, you listen to me right now," Luna said, cutting off Hermione and stepping closer into the mirror, having just her face take up the small circular frame. "This isn't about how you got there, or what you'll have to do to get back. The last time you destroyed all the horcruxes, you died."
Luna's voice seemed to fall from her usual dreamy state and sounded deep and echoing in Harry's ears. Her face was flat of emotion, but her eyes were bright, and her hair looked to be glowing in the bathroom light around him. It was a little scary, Harry thought to himself. Something not even as usually unordinary as Luna was.
Harry didn't turn to look at James beside him. He felt the older man move though, he'd taken a step closer towards Harry, and it made Harry almost look away from Luna.
"This time, are you willing to do it all again?" Luna asked. "Lose more people, even though they're not from here?" Harry thought of Sirius, Remus, Tonks, Mad-Eye, James, Lily, and Jonathan when Luna paused for a breath. "Could you still live with it?" Her eyes stared directly into his. "Because if you come back, no matter what happened here, what happens there will stay with you forever as well." Death, that's what she was talking about. The people he would lose here as well the ones he'd already lost in his own world. Again. "Don't forget that when you … defeat Voldemort again."
"I…" Harry trailed off, and blinked a couple of times. "I won't."
Luna nodded. "Good." She turned away from the mirror, and looked off away into her own world on the other side of the glass. "I think I'll find Ginny now. She's wanted to talk to you too." And with that, Luna walked away from the mirror, leaving only Hermione and Ron with Harry and James.
"But you'll have to go through it all again," Ron said, watching Luna leave and turning back to Harry. "Finding the horcruxes, destroying them, facing off with him… You'll have to repeat everything."
Harry nodded, letting the truth sink into his bones. "I know."
"Without us," Hermione added in, making the feeling in his bones heavier and darker. "You'll be doing this on your own this time." Hermione bunched her eyebrows together and looked worriedly back down at Harry. "Harry, this will be very dangerous. You could die."
"I'm always almost dying," Harry said dryly back.
"But he won't," James cut in from the side, and standing tall. "He'll get back alive, because he's not alone here," he said. "He has us. The Order, and his… the Potter family. We wouldn't let him die on us." He looked to Harry briefly and nodded resolutely and looked towards his friends again, like Harry's face had made up his mind. "I swear to you."
For the first time since he'd gotten here in this world, Harry felt the blanket of safety warm his insides and block out the fear and nagging worries in his head. It completely overpowered the sense of dread every time someone here looked at him like he was their savior. It made him forget he was standing in the middle of a girls bathroom about to face off with a snake older than he was. All of a sudden, he was filled with a sense of power and fluttering heat that soaked in his chest and ran a sort of maple syrup through his veins.
It felt wonderful. Better than wonderful.
There was a resounding silence that rung in the bathroom, keeping Harry cocooned safely for a few moments before Hermione shifted nervously in the window-portal above him.
"But Harry…" Hermione said in a near whisper, her voice rising in fear, "... the last horcrux."
And with the pause that followed her words, the safety leaked from his shoulders and the warmth seeped from his insides, filling it instead with ice that crackled and grew, filling his throat and lungs.
Ron looked at his girlfriend with wide eyes, and then back at Harry in panic. "You don't mean…" Ron trailed off. "He couldn't have… Harry wasn't…"
"He has six that we know about then," Harry said, ignoring Hermione's words. "And then one we don't."
Ron looked between Harry and Hermione like he was playing a game of ping pong with his eyes.
Hermione's eyebrows were furrowed together and she was looking down at the ground like she was going over something in her head, or she was trying to memorize something very quickly.
Harry didn't entirely like the look on her face, when she looked back up at him a moment later with impossibly wide brown eyes. "Hermione?" Harry asked, a feeling of regret turn up in his stomach like acid. He didn't think he wanted to hear what she was going to say.
Hermione lowered her shoulders and put her hands together, her fingers gripping each other enough to make them turn white. "I don't want to play devil's advocate Harry, but… it's… possible that…" she stopped and looked down. She blinked and sighed. Then cleared her throat. "It's possible that you might still have the seventh horcrux."
Harry's eyes snapped up. No. No, that wasn't.
That wasn't possible. Voldemort had killed him, and Voldemort's last horcrux had died when he did that day. Harry had felt it, seen the train station afterwards, and was living in the after affects. Harry had died, let himself be killed, to get rid of Voldemort's last horcrux. He couldn't just… become one again. That would be… "That's … there's no way," Harry said, shaking his head.
James looked between the two of them with confused eyes. "What are you-"
Hermione looked desperate. "Harry… all prophecies… if they're made, they can't be broken."
"What- what does that even mean? What are you talking about?" he asked, thinking back. All prophecies… like his prophecy? "Are you … The first one? The original prophecy? The one that I finished? That this world's Harry died for?"
Hermione nodded. "The Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not," she quoted from the damned thing. "He's already marked you Harry. Whether you think it's your scar, or his part of his soul in you, you were marked, and you have the power to kill him with that. And 'for neither can live while the other survives.' If it's true you're actually there, then you won't be able to come back until he's dead. You'll be bound by that prophecy until Voldemort's gone and the prophecy's finished."
Harry looked to Ron to see if his friend had any idea what Hermione was talking about. Ron's face was as blank as Harry's mind. His prophecy, or rather, first prophecy, had nothing to do with this. "But that prophecy ended when this Harry died. It was his prophecy, not mine. I finished mine. Don't you remember the battle of hogwarts?"
Hermione looked down and licked her lips uncertainly. "Of course I do Harry, but you're wrong. It's not just his prophecy, it's yours too. It's Harry Potter's" She took a breath. "I've.. read about them you see," she said, looking up, "while you've been gone. And, the one thing that's always repetitive about the… nature of prophecies is that they're persistent. Almost to the point of never ending Harry." She looked down at him with wide eyes. "If a prophecy is about a family, it'll follow the family for generations until it's fulfilled. If it's about a specific person, fate sort of seems to…move out of its way to make the words come true. Prophecies are dangerous, Harry, I didn't know how much so until I'd looked into it, but the facts still say that if you're given a prophecy, it won't stop until it's completed."
"This isn't my prophecy Hermione. The Harry that lived in this world died as a baby. Whatever… prophecy that was here, can't be. It died along with this worlds Harry Potter."
Hermione silently shuffled her feet and wrung her hands in front of herself. "But now Harry Potter has returned. Back from the dead to sort of say."
"I'm not this world's Harry Potter."
"No, but you're a Harry Potter. If dimensional travel is real, and the prophecy didn't explicitly say that the original prophecy was only about this worlds Harry Potter… Harry, you could very well be the only one who can defeat Voldemort in that world. Again."
Harry didn't know what to say. It didn't make sense. Well, actually, it did, sort of… in a weird twisted way, and it made Harry's head spin. When he had first crash landed here in this world, his scar had begun to burn and hurt again. It wasn't supposed to ever do that again. Harry blinked rapidly and swallowed whatever words threatened to spew out. "That's-" Harry said.
"Completely insane," Ron spat out between Harry's words, looking between him and Hermione again. "You can't think that-"
"I don't think Ronald, I've … hypothesized. There's a difference."
"Harry?" James asked. "What…"
Harry turned towards James. Right.
Still didn't know what was going on.
Harry licked his lips nervously. "You haven't seen my memories yet, but in my seventh year, Hermione, Ron, and I went searching for horcruxes to destroy parts of Voldemort's separated souls, so we could kill him without him coming back again and again," Harry explained. "We figured out what they were, and where they were, but it wasn't until the Battle of Hogwarts that I figured out what the last one was and how to destroy it."
James's face was blank. He didn't look like he knew, but when he stared at Harry, Harry knew that he must have at least guessed by now at what the last horcrux was. "You?" the question was more of a statement than anything. "You were the horcrux?"
Harry nodded. "You died protecting mum and me, uh… I mean, the other you died, protecting Lily and I, um… when Voldemort attacked. Peter had been the secret keeper, and led Voldemort right to yo-them. After y-James died, Lily begged Voldemort not to kill me. When he disagreed, she sacrificed her life for mine, putting a sort of-"
"-Protection around you," James nodded like he completely understood. "Right? He couldn't touch you."
"No," Harry said in agreement. "He couldn't kill me either. And when he tried, he was blasted into nothing, a ghost I guess, of a sort. It destroyed his body, and… a part of his soul. Which looked for the closest host it could find."
James's hazel eyes were wide. "You."
Harry nodded. "Me."
"Which is why I'm saying that it could be you again," Hermione said, interrupting Harry and James and turning them back to the two people floating above them. "If the prophecy-"
"Hermione my mum died before Voldemort lost a part of his soul so i'd become a horcrux. He can't just-"
"Mate, he's killed a lot of people in his life," Ron shook his head, looking between his girlfriend and Harry.
"Exactly, so literally anyone else could be a possible horcrux sacrifice for a new horcrux to be made in this timeline since this Harry Potter died." Harry looked up to Ron. "Right?" He turned between his two best friends. "It couldn't be me again."
Hermione looked to her boyfriend for a moment, sharing a second between them in silent conversation. "No, Harry," Hermione said turning from her boyfriend back to Harry, "I think it can only be you."
"But that's…" Harry trailed off.
"Has your scar hurt again since being over there?" Hermione asked him slowly.
Harry looked down at the bathroom floor. Yes, it had. So yes, then, it had to mean… "Just once…" Harry admitted quietly, "...when I first got here, it was like a sort of flashing pain… nothing as bad as it used to get, but…"
"Still there," Hermione finished, and Harry looked up at her with a sinking feeling leveling his stomach.
Ron's face contorted into a look of pain. "Mate…"
"Does that…" James trailed off in question. "Will you… die?"
Harry huffed out a sarcastic laugh. "I'll have to," he nodded. "Yeah."
"Harry," Hermione's face crumpled. Her eyes started to shine, and Harry looked down at the opened entrance below him. "Harry… We just got you back."
"I'll come back," Harry said looking up. He wouldn't let this stop him. Voldemort was defeated before, and he could do it again. He could. He wouldn't die here, in this imitation of the life he could have had once upon a time. He would get back to his friends. His families waiting for him. Teddy. "I won't die here."
Hermione was crying, her tears falling slowly down her face. She tried smiling when Harry caught her eyes, but it just made the tears fall harder and she hiccuped as a sob shook through her shoulders.
Ron's arm reached out around Hermione's shoulder and he nodded resolutely, like he didn't doubt a damn thing Harry would say. "And we'll find a way to meet you there. Me and Hermione, we'll get there too. Make sure you don't muck up everything over there… Soon as we can, we'll meet you on your side."
Harry smiled, and crushing doubts made his insides feel heavier with every breath. Serious blood magic got him there. Ron and Hermione were good, the best he knew, but he didn't think even they… "Yeah mate. I'll… just be waiting for you then, yeah?"
Hermione turned her face to Ron's shoulder, and Ron pulled her tight against him, and he smiled a deliberately wide smile. "Save some Death Eaters for us then, yeah?"
"Course, see you?"
Ron looked up out of Harry's vision of his side of the mirror and swallowed. "Yeah. As soon as we can. Ginny's not here, but next time. I know she'll want to see you."
"Right," Harry noded. "Bye then."
Ron nodded, Hermione close to him, and lifted his wand. The mirror image closed in on itself like a popped bubble and in the next moment, Harry was staring up at nothing except the walls of Myrtle's Bathroom.
Harry rolled back his shoulders. "Right. Now for the basilisk." And he jumped down the hole without warning, before James, into the entrance into the Chamber of Secrets.
"Is there anyway that-"
"No, I have to die for it to happen."
"But if we just-"
"You can't if it's living in me."
"It might not be. We don't know for sure."
"Harry, you can't just-"
"What?" Harry interrupted James as they journeyed farther and farther into the depths of the chamber. "Just can't kill Voldemort? Can't do it because I might not come back? The only reason I'mhere is to kill him. If I die, I did it taking out a Dark Lord. I'd be pretty okay with that."
"Why are you so okay with dying?!" James yelled, a sudden anger exploding from his voice behind Harry. "What would it take for you to-" Harry was pulled back around and turned to face James head on, with furious eyes shining into his. "You can't just want to die. No one wants to. Why are you so okay with it?"
Harry didn't want James's hand on him. Didn't want to talk about this. He wanted to sleep. Wanted to go home. In his house. Where he had already gone through all of this, was safe, but he couldn't manage to force himself to shake James's hand off his shoulder.
"I almost die a lot. Have been since I was eleven. I'm used to it." Harry shrugged and tried to turn, but James kept him in place.
"And that makes it okay?" James kept Harry's shoulder beneath his palm. "Do you think that that makes it fine?" he asked, his voice rising again. "It's not. It's unhealthy, and you-"
"Sending kids to fight their parents war isn't exactly healthy," Harry spit out and lurched his shoulder James's hand.
Too far. He'd just crossed a line, and he knew it. Had seen it on James's face before he turned. Shouldn't have- but the empty hopeless feeling was consuming him. Washing over him like a wave that he couldn't escape. He would die again.
You'd think he would be okay with that, as he's already done it once before, but it terrified him. What if he didn't get the same choice like he did last time? What if there was no train station waiting for him when he died? What if he just… moved on?
That… scared him. Terrified him. He didn't think fate would be so nice this second time around to him. He might actually die. Here. Without… well, by himself truly.
James followed behind him in silence, for the first time since he'd met him. True silence, that unnerved Harry to the core. It didn't seem… didn't feel natural. But Harry didn't know how to turn around and make him say something again. Didn't know if he wanted to.. or if he could. His insides didn't feel right, and his head felt crowded, like he was being pulled into too many directions by screaming voices.
Harry suddenly stopped when he realized the wall stopped in front of him, and he was at the opening of the main chamber inside where the basilisk would meet him. They'd made it. "We're here," Harry said quietly. He turned to look behind him, and was almost surprised to find James looking straight at him with focused eyes, and a drawn wand by his side. "You ready?" Harry found himself asking.
"Yes." Forwards, cutting, simple. James turned his attention to the door, and Harry brought his wand out as well.
Harry turned to the door and focused at the snakes rounding the perimeter of the door. "Open," he said, and the stone snakes started moving backwards for him.
Just like that.
"Keep your eyes downturned. Don't look at it straight in the eyes, or you'll die. If it attacks you, aim for the eyes though, it is it's first weak spot," Harry told James before he walked in the familiar room.
"Right," James said following him in and keeping his wand low beside him. "And how will we get this big snakes attention then?"
"Shouting for it I guess. I've never done this before," Harry said tensley.
"Will it respond to you?"
"I don't even know if I'll be even able to communicate with it. Last time, it only would listen to Tom Riddle. I wasn't able to speak to it."
James nodded. "The Basilisk is supposed to be Salazars, then maybe it can only be controlled by his true heirs," James said quietly. "Maybe it was trained, or charmed, to only obey those of his blood."
Harry grimaced. "That means i'll have to kill it then."
"It's a dangerous creature to begin with. It's outlawed by the ministry because it can not be tamed by any one wizard. It would have been dangerous to someone eventually."
"Still. It's…" not a shame exactly, but it was beautiful in it's own way. To have lived so long and to be a living piece of history.
"Better to kill it now, then let Voldemort control it, and let it do his dirty work later on," James said quietly.
And with that, Harry agreed. He couldn't let it become Voldemort's pet killing machine. "Alright. Keep your eyes down. I summon the Basilisk of Salazar Slytherin before me!" Harry yelled, hoping that would do the trick.
His words echoed hard over the dark stone around him, and Harry waited.
Minutes passed, and nothing happened. Harry felt embarrassment and confusion rise from within. "Why-"
And then the thundering sound of scales against stone reverberated against the chamber and Harry dropped his eyes to the floor. "Don't kill it yet, I need to know if I can communicate with-"
Harry heard something huge splash into the water meters in front of him and the hiss of a giant serpent fill the air. Harry stood up straighter and announced himself to the Basilisk. "Basilisk of Salazar, do not attack us! We've come to-"
Harry didn't know how he knew, but he threw himself backwards and cut himself off. A vicious hiss flashed past his ear, and he heard the rough scratching of scales ricochet past his side, inhumanly fast.
Nevermind. No talking then.
"Summon a rooster!" Harry yelled out. He scrambled back keeping his eyes downwards, but his ears open and his head whipping around. He didn't see- where was-?
"What?" James yelled back.
Ah there it was. The serpent hissed and Harry summoned a flash of blinding light to blind the snake for a moment as Harry crawled away. "A rooster! The crow of a rooster is fatal to them!"
"Oh, for the the-" Harry heard didn't look up to see where James was, but he did hear the sound of flapping feathers near him in the next moment.
"Make it cro-"
The Basilisk's back end was near Harry and could hear the scales shipping close through the water and around towards him. If he didn't move- didn't end this- he would-
A sudden stop. A splash of collapsing water, choking sounds, a hissing breath, struggling movements, and then silence.
No hissing, no water movement. Gone.
Harry opened his eyes.
And then he grinned with relief. "You can open your eyes James. It's over."
He turned his head, and grinned at a crouching James with his wand still extended from his spell casting. The older man opened his eyes slowly, one a time, like Harry had said, and looked over at the 50 foot snake lying dead in front of him. He looked at the head, all the way down to the tail, examining every drawn out inch and whistled, leaning back on his heels.
"We did it," Harry smiled.
"That we did," James looked over to him and smiled warmly. He nodded to the serpent. "Time to collect that poison?"
Harry huffed out a laugh and got to his feet. "We'll need a flask."
"I'll get that," James said turned to a pile of crumbling rocks.
Harry was about to walk forwards towards the older man when he heard a soft pop behind him. Harry turned and his spirits soared higher. "Dobby!" he smiled.
"James Potter asks Dobby to get him the sword sir, and Dobby does sir!" Dobby said, coming forwards and presenting a gleaming sword to Harry. "Dobby brings it you!"
"Brilliant Dobby! You're brilliant!" Harry cheered, taking the sword and lifting it up from the house elf. Harry turned to James's direction and brandished it to the air. "We've got it!" Harry crowed triumphantly. "We did it!"
James turned around with a flask in hand with a smile. "We did it. Togeth-" James eyes caught his and he stopped suddenly, frozen in place for a moment, before his face relaxed into a soft smile. Nothing like the excitement he'd been in a moment before.
Harry turned around, searching for something behind him. "What?" he asked, flipping his messed hair away from his face. "What is it?"
James shook his head. "Nothing. You just… you look like a hero." James smiled jokingly and nodded at him. "Sword and all."
Harry smiled. Then he lowered the sword slowly and reached into his pocket, deliberately not meeting James's eyes. The horcrux hung from his fingers precariously, like it was going to try to escape from him, and Harry threw it to the ground in front of him.
"Fill up the flask," Harry said, nodding to the snake at James. "This hero needs to finish his quest."
James laughed, shaking his head to the Basilisk. "That was the cheesiest thing I've heard in a long time."
"You started it."
James laughed again and nodded. "That I did. I'll keep that in mind next time."
When James came back to Harry, he held out a large flask with a dark sort of green liquid inside that sludged against the glass. Harry nodded for James to come closer. "Come on, pour some of it on top the blade. It'll only take in things that will make it stronger."
"You want me to do it?" James asked.
"You summoned the rooster. You should do this too."
James looked at the poison and then at the sword between them. "Alright, just make sure it's nowhere near you, Basilisk poison is really acidic."
Harry huffed a laugh. "I know."
James glanced at him with an exasperated smile before he carefully poured the greenish sludge over the blade from base to tip. The poison disappeared into the blade when it touched down, but some fell over the sides and fell to the ground between them, and Harry shuffled closer to James to keep the stuff away from his feet.
James pulled the flask up, and Harry turned the blade over in his hands. Nothing was falling from it, so he took that as a good sign. "Stand back. I don't know how the locket will react this time."
"This time?" James asked, pulling away and keeping the flask a comfortable distance from himself.
"Yeah. Last time I did this, it sort of… exploded? And it'll try to… get into your head."
"You make it sound as if it's living."
"It is," Harry replied and walked up to the locket sitting on the ground. "Open," he whispered.
The locket unlatched itself, and like last time, exploded outwards in an inhuman,silvery, light. Wind blew Harry nearly off his feet, and behind him, Dobby fell to the ground in a defensive crouch. "Harry Potter," a sickly smooth voice echoed over them, "I've seen into your heart, and into your dreams. I know what you really want."
"Yeah, doubt that," Harry muttered before he lifted the sword above his head.
"I won't lie to you Harry. I can see the loneliness in your soul, the anger at being deceived by those closest to you over and over again, and the loss you've felt with the years you've aged inside Hogwarts walls. I can more than see it. I can feel it. Like we're one." Harry froze, the sword seeming to stop above him. "I know how similar we are, both abused by the muggles, left to the side unless someone wanted something from us. I know your anger. Your hurt. I know you can feel the similarities between us."
Harry's eyes narrowed. "We are nothing alike."
The silver mist throbbed brightly into the air around him, and Harry got the feeling it was laughing at him. "We are so similar sometimes you can't tell us apart. Can you?" it asked smugly. "Can't tell between the wizard the public see's, and the wizard you feel like you're becoming with each passing day."
The mist twisted and another Harry, silver and inhumanly perfect, stood in front of him, waving to invisible crowds with a bright smile across his face with flashing camera lights, illuminating against his silver glasses. Behind him, a shadow of Voldemort loomed behind him like a dark skyscraper. Voldemorts clawed hands reached down, stabbed the perfect Harry through the back, and a black darkness filled the eyes of Perfect Harry, like he'd been a inflatable doll.
The Perfect Harry turned around, cut himself free from Voldemorts fingertips and a flash of green light sent the shadow of Voldemort to the ground, dead. Lights flashed again, and Perfect Harry smiled again, but Harry could see the blackness of Voldemorts poison still behind Perfect Harry's eyes, bleeding out through the silver figure, turning him as dark as Voldemorts shadow had once been.
"You desperately fear becoming the one thing you destroyed to keep your loved ones safe," the voice taunted, filling Harry's ears.
Perfect Harry's eyes glowed red as the rest of his body turned inky black, and a dark aura surrounded him, as he lifted from the ground and floated in his immense power.
"You fear what you would do if you ever were weak enough to submit to the darkness inside of you."
The Dark Harry grinned evilly, and struck down passing silver outlines of people he knew. Mrs. Weasley, Kingsley, Hagrid, Ron, Hermione… Ginny. They all fell into a pile at Dark Harry's feet, and Dark Harry exploded into a dark light that spread over Harry and the surrounding chamber like an icy promise.
The sword shook in Harry's hand from being over his head for so long, and he could feel sweat covering his forehead.
"But I could help you. I can help you become powerful enough to keep the darkness at bay. keep you strong enough to keep your friends and family safe. Forever."
"Harry don't listen to it! You're nothing like- Harry!"
The silver outline of Ginny rose and filled out to be a beautiful replication of perfection in front of Harry. She turned to Harry and smiled, lifting her hand out to him like she was inviting him in. Her eyes were so bright, so happy and safe.
"I could promise you forever Harry. Forever keeping them safe, and keeping you strong. Away from the darkness that's already inside you. I would never let you down."
Let him down. Safety. Strength. Darkness. Images flashed through Harry's mind, and Sirius's face came to him. Darkness in his mind from Voldemort. Tricked. Sirius falling backwards into the archway feet away from Harry. Voldemort entering his mind. The pain.
Harry's arms unlocked and he felt his arms drop if surprise.
Harry focused forwards and lifted the sword above his head. He ran unblinking through Ginny's apparition and swung the sword down through the silver and black mist. The voice was screaming. In anger. Desperation. Pain.
Harry didn't care, all he could see was the last time he wasn't strong enough to control his own mind, and his father figure dead through the archway, and gone from him forever.
Never again. I'm not like him. I'm not like him. I'm not. I'm not like him.
He didn't realize the screams of pain had turned into someone yelling his name until he felt himself collapsing to the ground on his knees, and a strong hand around his shoulders keeping him up straight.
Slowly the vibration of screams turned into separate words, and Harry could make out James face yelling at him, saying his name over and over again.
"Harry! Harry look at me! Harry!"
Harry looked up at James and grabbed his wrists, feeling the blood pumping through him like a steady rhythm. "I'm not like him," Harry chorused out loud. "I'm not like him. I'm not. I… I'm not like him."
James fell to his knees beside him and clutched Harry's shoulders with his hands. "You're not Harry. You're not like him. Do you hear me? You're not. You're not him. You're a good person. A good wizard. You're not him-"
The babbling went on and on and Harry felt himself falling over. James caught him against himself and Harry's head fell between James's head and the crook of his shoulder. "You're not him Harry. You're not."
"I'm not," Harry echoed, the flashes of silver fading from his frozen vision. "I'm not."
"You're not," James said, keeping Harry against him, and rocking back onto his heels. "Harry, you never were, and you'll never be. Ever."
Harry nodded against him. "I'm not."