Both Harry's and the Death Eater's wands flew out of their hands and soared back towards the entrance to the Hall of Prophecy; both scrambled to their feet and charged after them, the Death Eater in front, Harry hot on his heels, and Neville bringing up the rear, plainly horrorstruck by what he had done.
"Get out of the way, Harry!" yelled Neville, clearly determined to repair the damage.
Harry flung himself sideways as Neville took aim again and shouted:
The jet of red light had flown right over the Death Eater's shoulder and hit a glass-fronted cabinet on the wall full of variously shaped hour-glasses; the cabinet fell to the floor and burst apart, glass flying everywhere, a bit of glass pierced Harry's hand. He just had time to wince before the cabinet began putting itself back together.
Bits of wood and glass from around the room began flying back towards the cabinet. Harry watched in horror as his body was jerked towards the rebuilding cabinet. The bit of glass in his hand was pulling him towards it.
Harry's head whipped towards the source of Hermione's voice as he scrambled to find something, anything, to hold on to.
Harry grabbed onto a table as he watched the Death Eater – dead, with a piece of glass through his chest – hurtle past him and into the cabinet.
She was coming from the doorway to the room and she was also being pulled toward the cabinet; blood was trickling down her face from numerous cuts that seemed to glitter in the light. Harry let go of the table he was holding on to and tried to get across the room to Hermione, but he couldn't manage it, the cabinet's pull was too strong.
As he was forced to jerk and stumble across the floor towards the cabinet he heard Neville cry out, "Harry! Hermione! What's happening?"
Neville was holding on to a table with one arm, cradling the other arm against his body as the table slowly edged closer to the cabinet. Harry could see a wicked looking piece of wood sticking out of Neville's arm.
"I don't know!" Harry screamed back as the force pulling him grew a hundred times stronger.
Hermione grabbed onto a desk with one hand, "Accio wand!" she cried. Harry's wand flew from a dark corner into her hand.
Harry watched in horror as Neville lost his grip on the table and was pulled head first into the space the cabinet occupied while he cradled his injured arm. An instant later Hermione followed behind him as she lost her grip on the desk. A mere second later Harry was following them, no longer able to stay standing through mere force of will.
As the swirling mass of wood and glass around the cabinet came at Harry's face he threw his hands up over his face and closed his eyes.
Harry took a deep breath and braced himself for the impact, but, instead of hitting the swirling mass of glass and wood he felt himself be sucked into a small whirlwind. It felt as if he was laying against a moving fan.
Cautiously, Harry opened his eyes and then immediately shut them again.
He was in a tornado, with sand swirling around him. He could feel it hitting his face, scratching his glasses, and getting inside of his robes. He was tossed around, upwards and downwards. Eventually he had no idea of what was up and what was down.
Harry wanted to open his mouth and call out to Neville and Hermione; but didn't dare, the sand was already trying to take over his nose, and he didn't want it doing that to his mouth.
After what seemed like eternity the wind around him began to die down. When the wind was nothing but a gentle breeze Harry nervously opened his eyes again. Through his scratched glasses he could make out the distant figures of Hermione, Neville, and the dead Death Eater floating on the breeze with him. They were the only thing visible. Everything else was an almost blinding shade of white.
"Hermione! Neville!" Harry called out as he waved and tried to get their attention. As his mouth was open he felt some left over sand land in it. It tasted disgusting – like burnt bacon.
The two of them turned in midair to face him.
"Harry! Catch!" Hermione yelled out as the wind died down a little more.
Harry reached his hand out and caught the wand she tossed at him. Its weight settled into his hand comfortably. It felt good to be armed again. Before Harry could do more than tighten his grip on his wand he felt the wind come to a sudden halt. His stomach gave a lurch, not unlike the feeling he got from a portkey, and he was suddenly no longer floating on the breeze – he was falling.
A scream escaped his throat as he fell towards the invisible ground. As if from a great distance he heard two more screams join his – Neville and Hermione had to be falling also, not that he could turn to look.
As he fell it felt as if his robes were getting larger, they billowed around him even farther than they had during the tornado. Harry stuck his arms and legs out, trying to use the billowing robes as a parachute – anything to slow his descent.
Harry looked over at his wand hand as he fell and a frown crossed his face – something didn't look right.
Before he could dwell on that thought he felt himself hit something. The air escaped his body in a rush as his eyes jerked shut. The world became very dark and quiet. No longer did he hear wind rushing around him. No longer could he hear his heart beating. An instant after that he could no longer even hear his own thoughts.
And so, slowly, the Chosen One passed out.
Chapter 2: Harry's Landing
Unknowingly, Harry makes a change.
Everything was green.
Why was the world green?
That was Harry's first thought as he blinked blearily. Even with his glasses on the world was a blur. All he could make out were shades of green waving back and forth in front of his eyes.
After some blinking and shifting around Harry finally figured out why everything was a blur. In fact, it took a sharp something jabbing into his shoulder blade to remind him.
His glasses were all scratched up from the sand that had swirled around him. Sand, that he now realized, was now covering him from head to foot.
Harry sat up carefully, trying not to hit his head on any of the branches surrounding him. He was doing a remarkably good job at it until his overly large robe caught on a branch and jerked him to one side. Instantly there was a sharp pain on Harry's forehead and he felt something warm begin to trickle down his face.
Grimacing in pain he lifted off his glasses and raised his wand, which was still clutched tightly in his hand, "Reparo!" he said quietly.
He wasn't quite sure why he was almost whispering, it just seemed the prudent thing to do. His nerves were still on edge from recent events.
Slipping his now repaired glasses back on his face Harry looked around and finally figured out where he was.
He was in a hedge.
On a sunny day.
And that was about all he knew.
Shifting carefully Harry wiped the blood from his forehead and began moving through the hedge.
It was hard work.
His robes kept catching on things and his body didn't feel right. Almost as if someone had cast a shrinking spell on him.
Harry was almost out of the hedge when he heard an excited boyish voice say, "How'd you do that? Do it again!"
There was a quiet squeak and some mumbled words.
"Don't give us that!" A different boy yelled.
"Liar! Do it again!" Another boy hollered.
More mumbled words and then the harsh sound of skin hitting skin. A girl cried out and began to sob.
"Grab her arms! We'll make her do it!" The first boy ordered.
Harry had heard enough.
He didn't know where he was or what was going on, but this was not right.
He scrambled out of the bushes and found himself in a small field surrounded on three sides by the same hedge he had just been crawling through. This didn't seem very important to him at the moment, he'd worry about where he was later.
Harry's attention focused in on the site of three young boys of about ten standing around a girl of maybe five or six. The girl's blonde hair had fallen out of its pigtails and was hanging down around her terrified, tear filled face. Her dress was mussed and there was a hand-shaped red mark on her cheek.
Two of the boys were holding her up by her arms so that her tiny feet were just brushing the ground. The third boy had a hard grip on the girl's chin, his free hand raised to give another slap.
Instinctively Harry started to raise his wand. He was just about to cast Stupefy when he realized how the boys were dressed.
They weren't in wizarding robes
Frustrated, Harry jammed his wand up his humongous sleeve. He really had no idea why his robes were now so large and at the moment he really didn't care.
"Do it!" The leader screamed at the little girl, spittle flying out of his mouth and onto her face. The girl flinched and tried to look away, the boy's rough hand stopping her.
"Let her go!" Harry shouted, stopping so that he was a few feet away from the children.
The ring of authority in Harry's voice made the three boys freeze. Slowly, as one, they turned to look at him.
The leader was a big, beefy boy that reminded Harry a bit of Dudley. There were a few differences though. The coloring was all off, but the facial expressions were so similar that Harry found himself wondering if this was a long lost Dursley.
Somehow, it wouldn't surprise him.
The Dudley look-alike's jaw dropped as he looked Harry up and down. After a moment he began to laugh, the other two boys joined him in the laughter.
Harry frowned, he didn't quite understand why these boys were laughing at him. Sure, he was no boxer, but he was definitely bigger than a–
Harry froze as he realized that he WASN'T bigger than these boys. In fact, he was quite a bit shorter than them.
The Dudley look-alike finally stopped laughing, "Who are you, runt? Another freak like her?"
Harry opened his mouth, and then closed it again. He wasn't sure how he was going to get out of this. He couldn't use magic, these were muggles. He also couldn't count on his size, he was somehow smaller than these boys. He couldn't even count on his trusty speed, if he ran they might not all pursue him and that wouldn't help the little girl.
Harry's heart began to pound hard in his chest as the Dudley look-alike took a step towards him. He looked around frantically until his eyes caught on something on the ground. It wasn't his first choice, but it was probably his best one.
"I guess I am." Harry said before putting his idea into motion.
In a rush Harry reached down and grabbed the horse dung in his hand then he turned and threw it right in the Dudley boy's face.
The boy let out a rather girlish shriek and then gagged as dung got in his mouth. He bent over and began losing his breakfast.
Harry ran straight at the little girl, knocking over the Dudley look-alike as he went and then ploughing head first into the other two boys.
After a moment the little girl untangled herself and scrambled away as the three boys feel down in a tangle of arms and legs.
Harry looked up long enough to see the little girl staring at them, blue eyes wide and full of a mix of emotions he couldn't even begin to identify.
"Run!" Harry shouted at her.
He wasn't able to see if she listened to him, because just then one of the boys grabbed his hair and swung his head backwards into the ground.
Things got blurry after that.
Harry continued to swing and kick with all of his might as blow upon blow fell on him. He felt the cut on his forehead reopen and he heard the crunch as he glasses broke.
Eventually the blows stopped coming and Harry felt himself growing dizzy. His limbs felt like lead and there wasn't a single part of his body that didn't hurt. He felt his head loll to the side as his eyes slipped close. It was just to much work to keep them open.
His last memory before he lost consciousness entirely was of someone gently picking him up and carrying him.
Chapter 3: Letters to Someone
Harry gets help from an unexpected source.
"Percival, does he look familiar to you at all? I swear I've seen him before, but I don't know where."
"Now that you mention it…he does sort of look like Marcus – if Marcus was skinnier."
"I do think you're right…"
"I wonder who he is though, he's very young."
"I know, and he had a wand up his sleeve."
"Really? That's odd, he can't be more than nine or ten."
"I don't think he stole it, it feels like his wand."
"Hmm, Kendra, did you get a look at the sand he was covered with?"
"Yes, it was full of some sort of magic, wasn't it?"
"A very strange, unknown magic, but a magic nonetheless."
Voices pierced through the fog clouding Harry's brain and he struggled to make sense of what they said. He caught something about someone named Marcus and someone else named Percival, but nothing else made sense.
"Mummy! He's waking up!" A familiar girlish voice squealed when Harry tried to open his eyes.
"Shh, Arianna. No need to shout." A soft, elegant feminine voice stated.
Harry managed to pry his eyes open. At first the world was blurry, but it came into focus as soon as someone placed his now repaired glasses on his face.
He was lying on a bed in an old fashioned bedroom. The bed he was in had four posters and curtains hanging from it – like his bed at Hogwarts.
The mattress under him shifted a little and Harry looked over to see the blonde girl from the field sitting on the bed. She was watching him with eyes more full of more hero worship than Colin Creevey's ever had been. Harry dodged her eyes and looked her over, checking to see if she had been injured in the scuffle.
He was happy to see that she was almost in perfect health. Only the scrape on her chin showed that she had been involved in anything dangerous and that would heal. Harry was glad he had saved her, whoever she was.
The sound of a throat clearing made Harry look up at a rather good looking middle-aged man. His auburn hair had a few lines of silver in it and his blue eyes sparkled a little, despite the seriousness that resided in them as he looked at Harry.
"What is your name, young man? We'd like to know who you are so that we may properly thank you for saving our little girl from those muggle bullies." The man's voice was strong and firm, but with a pleasant undertone that struck Harry as familiar while at the same time making him feel safe.
"I'm Harry Potter," he found himself saying with a voice that felt a little dry and dusty.
To Harry's surprise there was no recognition from the man, girl, or the woman he had just now noticed standing next to his bed. They were obviously wizards from their use of the word "muggle", but they didn't know his name? Just where was he?
"You're a Potter? Well, thank you Harry Potter for saving Arianna. Is there any way that we could ever thank you?" The man said formerly.
Harry felt his face flush. "No, need to thank me."
The man observed him for a moment, "Nonetheless, we are forever in your debt. Now, who do we need to Floo for you? You must have family that's waiting for you."
"Umm…" Harry looked down at his hands. Should he tell them he fell into a vortex of swirling time turner sand? Would that mean anything to them?
As he was trying to figure out what to say the door to the bedroom slammed open and two boys came tumbling in. Their auburn curls flashed in the sunlight pouring in through the window as they rushed to the bed.
"Arianna! Are you safe?"
"We heard Will hollering from his kitchen something about you and a freak!"
Harry stared at the babbling boys checking over the girl named Arianna. One looked to be about ten or eleven and the other was somewhere between the little girl and the older boy in age. Harry wasn't good enough to guess his age.
The man cleared his throat and instantly the boys grew quiet and looked up at him.
"Boys, I'd like you to meet Harry Potter, the boy that saved your sister. Harry, I'd like you to meet Albus and Aberforth, my sons."
Harry felt his eyes grow wide as he stared at the boys. Albus? Was this Albus Dumbledore? No, it couldn't be! Albus was a common name, wasn't it? But…
The older boy's eyes were twinkling as they studied Harry with a steady intensity that felt all too familiar. Without even asking Harry knew the truth – these were the Dumbledores.
It was the younger boy, Aberforth Harry thought his name was, who spoke first.
"Thank you for saving little Arianna," his voice was full of gratitude and he smiled as he gave Harry a little bow.
"Yes, thank you," Dumble– no, Albus said as he gave a small bow also. There was no smile on Albus' face and Harry got the distinct feeling that this boy wasn't the same man he had known at Hogwarts.
"Um, I just did what anyone would have done." Harry replied as he studied the young Albus Dumbledore. The similarities between the old man he had known for years and the young boy before him were obvious, but so were the differences.
This boy's face showed an arrogance and a sense of pride that Harry had never seen in the Headmaster. The spark of intelligence in the twinkling eyes was still the same, and the way he looked at his little sister reminded Harry of how Ron always looked at Ginny. He obviously cared for her quite a bit and it made Harry wonder why he had never heard about Dumble– Albus' siblings.
It also made him think and wonder if there was anything else he didn't know about the Headmaster.
"Whatever you say, dear. Now, I'm Mrs. Dumbledore and this is my husband – Percival Dumbledore. We'd like to welcome you to your home and invite you to stay for as long as you need to. Are you hungry? I'm sure I can get you something from the kitchen." The woman said this with a cheery smile on her face that was rather at odds with her severe hairstyle and bone structure.
"Uh, sure, I'll get up to eat," Harry tried to sit up as he talked before gasping in pain and dropping back onto the bed.
His ribs felt like they were on fire!
Mrs. Dumbledore put a hand on his shoulder, "You shouldn't have tried to move, the potions are still working on healing you, it will be another hour before your broken ribs heal. Just lay here and rest, I'll be right back."
She patted his shoulder affectionately and then left the room in a graceful swirl of skirts, calling out for Arianna to come help her as she went. Harry and the male Dumbledores watched as Arianna skipped out of the room, pausing at the door to give Harry a wave and a smile before leaving the room.
Mr. Dumbledore turned his piercing gaze on Harry when the door clicked close. "Well, boy, who do I need to contact?"
Harry gulped as he realized that the question he'd been asked before the boys had come in hadn't been forgotten. "Uh…I don't know."
Mr. Dumbledore's eyebrows rose as the boys looked on curiously. "You don't know? I didn't notice any permanent damage on your skull when I examined you, there shouldn't be any memory loss."
Harry's fingers played nervously with a loose thread on the sheet he was lying under. "No, I didn't lose any of my memory…but I still don't…" Harry trailed off as he looked over at Albus and…Aberforth? He thought that was the other boy's name. He supposed he'd have to tell someone that he'd traveled through time, but he didn't think the boys should know. This Albus didn't quite seem like the one he knew and anyway, he was still angry at the Headmaster for ignoring him during the past (future?) year at Hogwarts.
Mr. Dumbledore caught him looking at the boys and seemed to catch the hint. "Boys, go see if your mother needs help," he said without taking his eyes off of Harry.
"But…" Aberforth started, but he was cut off when Albus grabbed his arm and dragged him out of the room.
When the door shut Mr. Dumbledore said, "Well?"
Harry opened his mouth and then stopped when he saw a shadow move under the door out of the corner of his eye, he turned his head to look and after a second he knew what caused it.
"Sir, they're at the door."
"If there's anyone at the door they'll get to meet the belt in about ten seconds when I open it." Mr. Dumbledore said loudly as he moved towards the door.
There was a scrambling behind the door as Mr. Dumbledore paused, his hand on the knob. As soon as the hallway grew quiet he opened the door, revealing an empty hallway. He let out a soft chuckle, "Works every time. Now, what's your story, are you a runaway?"
"No, I didn't run away. Actually, I'm here because of an accident." Harry answered as Mr. Dumbledore pulled up a ladderback chair and took a seat next to the bed.
His eyebrows raised in disbelief, "An accident?"
"Yes, you see, my friends and I were being chased by some Death Eaters in the Ministry of Magic when a cabinet full of Time-Turners fell over. They broke and the world started spinning. The next thing I knew I woke up in that hedge and heard Arianna crying." Harry said in a rush, afraid that if he said it slowly he might not be believed.
The look of disbelief on Mr. Dumbledore's face was even stronger. "Death Eaters? Time-Turners? What gibberish are you speaking?"
Harry blinked in disbelief. He didn't know what a Time-Turner was? Was it not invented yet? He guessed it made since that he didn't know what a Death Eater was, Voldemort wasn't even born yet, was he?
"A Death Eater is a follower of Voldemort, a dark wizard that's trying to take over England when I'm from. A Time-Turner is a little hourglass that lets you travel through time. It only works for small amounts of time, except when a whole cabinet of them breaks, I guess," Harry explained.
Some of the disbelief disappeared from Mr. Dumbledore's face. "And, just when exactly did you come from?"
Mr. Dumbledore's jaw dropped and his eyes widened to an impossible size. "You traveled back in time 105 years?"
"Um, I guess so," Harry said as he resisted the urge to shrug, his ribs were still sore.
As Harry watched the Dumbledore Patriarch pinched the bridge of his nose and took a few deep breaths before speaking.
"Let me guess, you want to get home?"
"If that's possible, some of my friends are still in danger, including two that fell into the swirling sand also."
"Alright, this is beyond my abilities, I'm just a small-time Healer. I think I'm going to call in a few of my old friends from Hogwarts if that's alright with you." Mr. Dumbledore stood up and brushed off his old-fashioned black robes before walking over to a small writing desk.
"Um, I guess it's okay, if you trust them."
Mr. Dumbledore pulled out a few pieces of parchment and began scribbling furiously on them. "Oh, yes, I trust Marcus and Donald with my life. They should be able to help. Donald studies and sells magical stones. Maybe he can tell us something about the sand I found on you. Marcus works at the Ministry as an Auror, he should be able to smooth your entry into this time period if you have to stay for awhile."
The letters were soon written and sent off. Harry spent another half hour or so flat on his back waiting for the potions to finish their work. When his ribs finally finished mending he was able to get up and go down to a sitting room filled with sunshine, food, and lots of old magical artifacts.
In a way it reminded Harry of 12 Grimmauld Place, down to the sprawling family tree on the wall. Only the atmosphere was different. There were no scorch marks on the family tree and none of the magical objects looked dangerous – some even looked downright silly. One vase kept turning black and yellow and buzzing like a bumblebee everytime Arianna dropped a flower into it. This would set her off into a fit of giggles that made Harry smile.
He was very glad he'd rescued her from those bullies.
Harry spent the afternoon sitting on the couch watching Albus and Aberforth play wizarding chess while Arianna wandered around the room playing with various things. The boys seemed intent on just watching him out of the corner of their eyes. Harry couldn't blame them – he was an unknown that had saved their sister from pain. He'd probably be a little standoffish also.
Arianna was another story. Every little while she'd run across the room and throw her arms around him in a big hug and thank him while proclaiming him to be her, "Special Hero."
It was a little embarrassing and probably didn't help Albus and Aberforth feel comfortable around him either.
While he sat there his mind kept going over recent events as he wondered how he'd get himself back home. Was Hermione alright? What about Neville? How were things going back at the Ministry? Had help arrived? Was everyone safe?
As these questions kept running through his mind the afternoon slowly slipped by. Mrs. Dumbledore kept popping her head in every once in awhile to check on them, but Mr. Dumbledore was off doing something and didn't make an appearance until the sun was setting.
He walked into the room holding a couple letters in his hands. "Harry, can I talk to you in my office for a moment?"
"Sure," Harry said as he slipped off the couch and followed Mr. Dumbledore into a dark paneled room lined with shelves covered in books and strange objects.
Mr. Dumbledore didn't take a seat behind the desk or in one of the comfortable looking leather chairs in front of it. Instead, he shut the door and leaned back against it, a frown on his face.
"Harry, I got a letter back from Marcus, he's quite interested in meeting you and helping out since he's also a Potter."
"Really?" Harry asked in surprise. He had family here? That was an odd idea, he'd never had any family other than the Dursleys, but, he supposed, it made sense for him to have family here – his father had to have come from somewhere.
"Yes, Marcus Potter is planning to come down tomorrow with his son Richard, he's the same age as Albus, so I suppose he's your age also. You're ten, aren't you? You look ten."
"I suppose I am ten here. I'm actually fifteen. I was born in 1980. I think the sand affected my body or something like that," he shrugged.
"Interesting, that explains your wand then, we'll talk about that more when Donald gets here. That's who I wanted to speak with you about also. Apparently a rather confused boy claiming to be one Neville Longbottom was found by some muggle policemen. They took him to Donald's house claiming they were family. Donald finds this rather odd, since, as far as he knows, he's the only Longbottom left in England."
"Neville! He's alright!" Harry exclaimed.
"I take it you know this boy?"
"Yes! He's one of the ones that also got caught in the Time-Turner sand!"
"Wonderful, I'd hoped it was something like that since Donald is also arriving tomorrow with your friend in tow."
Harry grinned, a weight lifting off his chest. True, he didn't know where Hermione was yet, but if Neville was here, then she was bound to be around somewhere. And, if they could find her, she'd be able to explain the Time-Turners better than he could.
With any luck they'd be home before the week ended – if they could find Hermione that is.
Chapter 4: Down the Path
People meet and the story speeds up.
A girlish giggle is carried through the garden, quickly followed by a squeal of delight, “Richie!!!!”
Harry looked up from the book he was staring at to see Ariana race past him and into the arms of a dark-haired gangly youth. The boy grabbed Ariana under her arms and gave her a little twirl, making her giggle and squeal again.
Harry closed his book and stared at the boy curiously. For some reason he looked familiar, especially the hair. Was this one of his relatives? What had Mr. Dumbledore said was the boy’s name? Ronald? Richard? It was Richard, wasn’t it?
As Harry watched someone else join the boy and Ariana at the gate to the garden his breath caught and a lump appeared in his throat.
Standing behind the boy was a plump man of about thirty years. He had messy black hair and a round, cheery, easy-going face. Despite the differences the similarity between this man and Harry’s father was unmistakable. This was definitely one of his relatives, maybe even his ancestor.
Ariana let out another squeal when she saw him, “Uncle Marcus!”
Marcus knelt down so he was on Ariana’s level and gave her a friendly hug. From across the garden Harry could clearly hear his polished, aristocratic voice, “Good morning, young lady. You’re looking more beautiful everytime I see you.”
Ariana giggled again and Harry felt the lump disappear as a grin slipped onto his face. He couldn’t help it, just seeing his family act like normal, nice human beings made him feel happy.
“Come meet my hero!” Ariana said when she was done giggling. She grabbed their hands and pulled them down the garden path to where Harry was sitting.
Harry knew the exact moment that the newcomers saw him sitting in the shade. The boy’s jaw dropped and his eyes grew wide while Marcus looked merely surprised.
Ariana didn’t notice their reaction; she just kept pulling them over until they were in front of Harry.
“Uncle Marcus, Richie, this is Harry! He saved me from the bad boys. He’s my hero!” As Ariana said this she let go of Marcus and Richie’s hands and threw herself at Harry, giving him a big hug and making him drop his book so he could hug her back.
The three Potters stared at each other for a moment, their eyes moving across each other’s faces.
“Percival spoke the truth, the resemblance is uncanny,” Marcus finally whispered.
“Are we related?” Richie asked in a shocked voice. Even through the shock Harry could tell from his voice that this boy had been raised among purebloods. His voice held the same aristocratic tone that Draco’s had at the same age. There was no coldness in this boy’s voice though, only shock.
Harry glanced down at Ariana before answering. She didn’t know he was anything unusual and he didn’t know if her parents wanted her to know.
“Ariana, can you let your parents know they have guests?” Harry asked.
Ariana pulled out of her hug and grinned up at him, “Yes.” She then turned and skipped up the garden path to the house.
Once she was out of earshot Harry spoke.
“Yes, I think you’re my great-grandfather or something.”
Richie’s face grew confused, “Huh? How is that even possible?”
“You really did travel in time?” Marcus asked.
Harry nodded, “Yes, I was born in 1980. An accident happened and I woke up here, in 1892.”
“Astounding!” Marcus exclaimed while Richie’s jaw hit the garden path.
Albus almost fell out of the tree when Harry said he was born in 1980.
So that was what was so odd about the boy! He could understand why his parents hadn’t wanted to tell Ariana or Aberforth about it, they were just babies. But he was ten! He’d be eleven next month! His Hogwarts letter was supposed to arrive any day now. Why hadn’t they told him?
“You’re really from the future?”
Albus looked down and scowled at Richie. Why was it alright for Richie to know? He was only a few months older. It wasn’t right!
As anger boiled up inside of him at the injustice Albus noticed the wind beginning to pick up. It took him a moment to realize that he was the cause. Unwilling to give away his hiding spot, even to relieve his frustration, he took a few deep breaths and forced himself to calm down.
There had to be a reason they hadn’t told him. His parents usually told him everything, or at least, they never hid anything from him.
What was different this time? Was it the boy? Were they keeping it from him because Harry had asked them to?
Why would they do that?
Was there something special about him?
Albus scowled and glared at Harry. The boy was not to be trusted. Sure, he had saved Ariana, but could that have been planned? Albus had tracked down Jimmy earlier and quizzed him on the incident. The boy had claimed no knowledge of it. He didn’t even know anything about Harry.
It had been rather odd.
Albus scowled even harder as his parents walked up the garden path and greeted Uncle Marcus and Richie. Aberforth and Ariana were nowhere to be seen and before Albus could even wonder where they’d been sent off to he found out.
“We’re free to talk for a little while. Albus is off on one of his nature walks and I sent Aberforth and Ariana to buy us a cake from the bakery in the village. It’s not often we all gather together.”
“A cake sounds lovely, Percival. Now, when is Donald going to be here? You mentioned in your letter that you wrote to him also?” Uncle Marcus asked.
“Yes, he should be here any minute.” His father turned his attention to Harry, “Harry, this is Marcus and Richard Potter, the last of the pureblood Potters.”
Harry shook hands with Uncle Marcus and Richie as he murmured politely, “Nice to meet you.”
The awkwardness in the air was thick enough to cut, even Albus could see that, and he usually missed little things like that.
Everyone kept looking back and forth between the three Potters.
The silence was only broken when Richie asked, “Are you going to be eleven by September 1st?”
Harry frowned a little, which confused Albus, why would he frown when asked about his birthday?
“My birthday is July 31st, I don’t know what day it is now though, so I don’t know,” Harry finally responded.
“It’s July 19th,” Albus’ mother said.
Albus almost lost control of his tightly wound temper when he heard the next little snippet of conversation.
“That’s wonderful! We’ll go to Hogwarts together! What House do you think you’ll be in?”
The excitement in Richie’s normally bored voice made Albus want to send his breakfast down on everyone’s heads. Why was everyone making such a big deal about this boy? He didn’t look like anything special.
The only thing special about him was that he’d used magic to stumble back in time somehow. And that probably wasn’t even his doing! He was only a child, and a tiny one at that, even if he was spirited. He’d probably gotten caught up in someone else’s experiment.
As the discussion below him dissolved into talk about Hogwarts and the Houses Albus settled in to wait for Uncle Donald. Hopefully the conversation would become much more interesting then, after all, his father wouldn’t have called Uncle Marcus and Uncle Donald to meet Harry without a good reason.
“Come on, boy. They’re waiting on us!”
Neville resisted the urge to sigh and trudged over to Donald, stepping carefully over the baskets upon baskets of stones and gems that littered the house. This man had to be his ancestor, he claimed to be the only Longbottom in existence, but Neville had never known anyone in his family to have such a strong obsession with rocks.
Plants he could understand, but rocks?
What was interesting about them?
“If you make me late I swear I’ll never marry and ensure that you’re never born!” Donald said this as he grabbed Neville’s arm. Before Neville could even come up with a response they apparated.
One second Neville was in a rather dirty and rock-filled version of the house he grew up in, the next he was in a pleasant grove of trees. Birds chirped in the branches above him as bees buzzed in the late-summer flowers.
Neville only got a moment to look around before his ancestor dragged him off. They hurried through the grove for a little while before stepping onto a little dirt path that snaked its way through the trees.
By this point Neville was panting and almost wheezing. He’d forgotten how chubby and out of shape his younger self was. Longbottoms were pre-disposed to childhood chubbiness and his grandmother’s cooking hadn’t helped.
When he felt like he was going to pass out he managed to find the strength to jerk his arm out of Donald’s grip.
“Pl –please, slow down,” he managed to get out through giant gulps of air.
Donald stopped and looked him over for a moment. “Are you going to live?”
Neville nodded weakly before putting his hands on his knees and trying to focus on drawing air into his lungs.
“Alright, I’m going ahead then. I refuse to be late. Just follow this path until you reach the fork. Go left, the Dumbledore residence is at the end of that path.”
By the time his words registered on Neville he was gone. Neville frowned as his breath began to return to normal. They were going to the Dumbledore’s house? Why hadn’t Donald told him that? All he’d said was that they were going to where Harry was.
Was he going to get to see the Headmaster as a child? Was he born yet? Neville had no idea how old Professor Dumbledore was. He knew he was older than Gran, but how much older?
Shaking his head at his pointless wonderings he set off down the path. This time he traveled at a much more leisurely pace, taking the time to observe the different plants. Judging from the types of plants he guessed he was somewhere in southwest England, maybe near the Isles of Scilly. There was no hint of salt in the air, so he knew he wasn’t too close to the coast.
After about ten minutes or so Neville was interrupted from his musings when he reached the fork in the road.
He stopped and stared down each of the paths, trying to remember which way Donald had said to go. He’d been too focused on breathing to focus on the instructions and with his naturally forgetful mind…well, now he was in a pickle.
Neville crossed his arms and bit his lip as he looked from one path to the other. Was it left or right?
He found himself wishing for his wand, but Donald had taken it away from him as soon as he had arrived. He’d been told he could have it back if he got a letter from Hogwarts, which wasn’t likely in Neville’s opinion. How could he get a Hogwarts letter if he was really fifteen?
It didn’t make sense.
Turning his attention back to the problem of which fork to take Neville realized he had only one good decision: sit and wait.
He wasn’t sure how far past the fork the house was and if he took the wrong one he could wander for hours. His best option was to sit and wait for Donald to get frustrated enough to either come and get him or send someone to get him.
So, attempting to get comfortable, Neville found a likely spot under a huge oak tree and settled down to wait for someone to come and look for him.
Aberforth shifted the basket on his shoulder as he wandered down the forest path. Ariana skipped along by his side, singing some song about dancing fairies.
Three pretty fairies, three pretty fairies,
See how they dance, see how they dance,
They all dance for the fairy queen,
Who sits upon her pumpkin throne,
Did you ever see such a wonderful sight,
As three pretty dancing fairies?
Aberforth resisted the urge to sing along. He was eight years old, much too old for singing children songs. He’d be at Hogwarts in a few years, even his mother was trusting him more.
He smiled at that thought. Last summer he wouldn’t have been allowed to go the village alone with his sister, especially on such an important errand. It wasn’t often that they got a bakery cake. Aberforth liked his lips at the thought of the cake residing in his basket. It was a delicious looking concoction covered in icing, chocolate, and berries.
Aberforth couldn’t wait until after dinner.
Suddenly Ariana’s singing stopped and Aberforth looked up to see her squatting by the side of the road, staring at something under the giant oak tree.
“Ariana, what did you find?”
“A boy,” she put her finger over her lips and looked up at him, “Shhh, he’s sleeping.”
Aberforth frowned and set the basket down carefully. A boy? Why was a boy down here? The only other boys around here were Albus and Harry and Ariana would recognize them.
Creeping over Aberforth found a blonde, chubby boy of about Albus’ age sleeping. He was dressed in plain black wizarding robes.
Carefully Aberforth reached out and poked the boy in the shoulder. A moment later he found himself flat on his back with the boy’s fist raised, like he was aiming an invisible wand at Aberforth’s head.
Ariana let out a shriek and ran over to push the boy off, before she reached them though Aberforth had already reacted.
He bucked his hips and gave a little twist of his body. He almost had the boy pinned when he woke up the rest of the way. Before Aberforth knew what was happening he and the boy were rolling around on the ground, trying to get the upper hand on each other.
“Stop it!” Ariana yelled, but Aberforth ignored her. He didn’t know who this boy was, but NOBODY got the best of him in a fight! Especially not some strange chubby boy, even if he was older.
“I said, STOP it!” Ariana screamed.
Just as Aberforth thought he was going to get the upper hand he abruptly found himself yanked off the ground and suspended in the air, just out of reach of the other boy.
Aberforth saw the shock he felt mirrored on the other boy’s face. It took a moment for him to realize that there was nothing holding him in the air. They hadn’t been pulled apart because an adult had found them; rather, Ariana had done a little magic.
Surprised, Aberforth looked over to see Ariana glaring at them, her little hands on her hips.
“Ariana! Put me down!”
“No! I told you to stop it! Why’d you attack him?”
Aberforth gaped at her, “What? I didn’t attack him! I poked him to wake him up and he attacked me!”
“What else was I supposed to do!?! I fell asleep in a weird place and woke up to people leaning over me! For all I knew you were Death Eaters!” The boy exclaimed.
Aberforth and his sister frowned in confusion as they looked at the dangling boy.
“Death Eaters? What are those?” Aberforth found himself asking.
The boy blanched and shook his head quickly, “Forget I said that! Hey, do you know where the Dumbledore house is? Donald ran off and left me and I don’t know which way to go.”
Aberforth could tell the boy was trying to change the subject and he wanted to ignore it. He wanted to know what a Death Eater was, but he had the feeling that Ariana shouldn’t know what it was. So he filed the question away for later, when Ariana wasn’t around.
“Uncle Donald’s here?” Ariana asked.
The boy’s face lit up, “So you know him? Can you take me to the Dumbledore’s?”
Aberforth rolled his eyes, “Of course we can. I’m Aberforth Dumbledore and that’s Ariana Dumbledore. I’ll take you there right now if Ariana will just let us down.”
“Oh! Sorry!” Ariana squeaked. She squeezed her eyes tight and seemed to concentrate really hard for a moment. When nothing happened she opened her eyes and looked up at Aberforth with tears swimming in her eyes. “I don’t think I can…”
Aberforth sighed, it figured.
“Don’t worry, Ariana. Just grab the basket and hurry home. Father can get us down. This isn’t a really uncomfortable position, is it–” Aberforth paused when he realized he didn’t know the boy’s name.
“Neville. And, no, it’s not uncomfortable. Just embarrassing, not anything new to me.”
“I’ll be right back then!” Ariana ran over, grabbed the basket, and carefully hurried down the left path.
Once she had disappeared around a bend in the path Aberforth turned (as best he could) to stare at Neville.
“What’s a Death Eater?”
Neville bit his lip and seemed to think for a minute, it looked like he was trying to come to a tough decision. Finally he spoke.
“Have you met Harry Potter?”
Aberforth frowned, this boy knew Harry? Were they friends? They didn’t look enough alike to be family. “Yes, he’s at my house. He saved Ariana from bullies yesterday.”
Neville smiled and shook his head ruefully. “He does that. He saved me a couple of times over the years.”
Aberforth could see why Neville would be bullied, but he was still confused, “What does that have to do with Death Eaters?”
“Harry and I were at the Ministry of Magic with a few more of our friends. We were there to rescue someone from Death Eaters. They’re evil wizards that follow the most evil wizard of them all, he’s called…” Neville stopped and gulped before saying in a rush, “Lord Voldemort. Don’t make me say his name again. He’s been trying to kill Harry since he was a baby. We don’t know why.”
Aberforth was still confused. “Why have I never heard them? Are they in control of the government?”
Neville shook his head quickly, “No, you haven’t heard of them because they won’t be around for another hundred years. There was an accident and Harry, another friend, and I found ourselves swept back in time to now. I think we’re going to try and find our other friend and get back home if we can.” Neville’s face grew resolute, “We have to get back home, our friends are depending on us.”
Aberforth tried to process the information he’d been given. Harry and Neville were from the future? When he thought about it, it made sense. About why Harry seemed so odd, why he had a wand, and why his father had called his two best friends for help.
“Is it so bad in the future that you have to fight evil wizards before you go to Hogwarts?” Aberforth found himself asking.
Neville shook his head, “No, for some reason when we came to the past I got younger, I don’t know if Harry or Hermione did, but we’re all really fifth years.”
“Yeah, we just took our O.W.L.S., I wonder how we did on them. I’m sure I flunked everything. Gran’s going to be really disappointed.”
The look on the other boy’s face was so disappointed that Aberforth couldn’t help but say, “I’m sure you did fine.”
The two of them lapsed into silence after that as they dangled in mid-air.
Aberforth was never so happy to see his father as he was when he rounded the bend in the forest path. His father was accompanied by Harry and Richie. The two boys were talking animatedly about something and Aberforth couldn’t help but notice the similarities between them – they could’ve been twins.
“Harry!!!” Neville called out when he noticed that the rescue party had arrived.
Harry looked up and grinned when he saw Neville. Aberforth couldn’t help but notice that the grin transformed his features. He’d smiled since he had arrived yesterday, but not like that, not a smile of pure joy and honest friendship.
“Neville! Good to see you! Haven’t I seen you in this position before?” Harry called out.
Neville grinned back and chuckled, “Yes, but this time I can’t blame pixies! Unless Aberforth’s sister here is part pixie!”
Aberforth’s father chuckled, “I think she might be. It comes from her mother’s side, I’m sure.”
Aberforth grinned as his father waved his wand and he felt himself float to the ground. His sister was definitely pixie-like.
“Thanks, Father. Ariana’s dangerous.”
His father chuckled again, “Yes, she’s going to be a very powerful witch if she just survive long enough for us to get her to Hogwarts.”
“Oh, she’ll survive. It’s the rest of us that won’t.” Richie said in his normal, perfectly dead-pan voice.
Harry grinned, “I know what you mean, a friend of ours has a little sister like that. Doesn’t Ariana remind you of Ginny, Neville?”
“A little. I can see Ginny hanging us up in the air if we get on her nerves,” Neville replied as the five of them headed up the path, Alberforth’s father quickly pulling ahead of the rest of them with his longer stride.
“Yeah, I hope she and the others are alright.” Harry said so softly to Neville that Aberforth almost missed it.
“They’re fine, you trained us well,” Neville said back just as softly.
“Do you really think so?”
“Yes,” Neville said firmly.
“I’m glad you have faith in me after that trap.”
“It wasn’t your fault, you were tricked.”
“Harry, even if we’d known it was a trap we would’ve followed you.”
“That’s a stupid thing to say.”
The two boys chuckled softly then and Aberforth shared a look with Richie. The two of them had no idea what Harry and Neville were talking about, but they did know one thing – something about the camaraderie between them was contagious, they wanted to be friends with these two boys. They wanted to be a part of whatever it was these boys were doing, no matter what.
Wow, I’m sorry for the almost month inbetween chapters! There’s a very, very good reason! I swear!
I’ve been working, having a social life, and job hunting. With the first and last two items taking up the most time. I started work on this chapter three weeks ago and just finished it yesterday…
So, because of that, I gave you a super long chapter. I don’t know when I’ll get time to write another chapter, maybe Monday (don’t hold me to that), but there shouldn’t be a gap quite that long again.
Now, I’ve had an interesting development in my job hunt – I may be going to Asia. As of right now I have a (maybe) job in Macau, we’ll see if the school likes my resume. The recruiter is hopeful. The other couple possibilities are teaching English in South Korea. O_O Amazing, right?
Now, about this chapter – I broke the Harry only pov! That’s a first for me (in this fanon)! But I felt it was required in this story, especially since so many characters are virtually original characters since we know almost nothing about them and I can’t very well spend seven books giving you information on them from Harry’s pov. Plus, I wanted to practice writing from someone other than Harry’s pov. I hope I did a good job.
Oh, and Albus, Aberforth, and Neville are very important to this story, so they deserve their time in the pov limelight sometimes. :D
Hope any fellow Americans had a good Independence Day!
Enjoy! Read! Review!
Chapter 5: Returning to Hogwarts
More meetings as Harry grows comfortable in this new world.
Albus stared out the carriage window at the busy London streets. As far as he could tell no one even noticed that he wasn't engaged in the ongoing conversation – and that was fine with him.
The last month had been absolutely horrible for him. It should have been a month filled with excitement with all of the focus on him – instead it had been a nightmare.
First, his birthday had been ruined. His mother had decided that since Neville's birthday was the 30th, Harry's the 31st, and his own the 1st they could just have one large celebration on the 31st instead of three small ones.
Albus did not like sharing his birthday.
Second, his parents had been so busy talking in whispers with Uncle Donald and Uncle Marcus that they didn't even notice when he broke the singing teapot. That teapot had been a wedding gift from Aunt Belinda and he'd once gotten his ears boxed for putting it down on the table roughly.
He freely admitted that he'd broken it on purpose.
Third, the fact that he was going to Hogwarts wasn't a big deal anymore. The morning his Hogwarts letter had arrived it had been accompanied by four other letters. Richie had been visiting, since Uncle Donald was there, so Albus had expected to see his letter.
It was the other three that were the surprise.
One had been to Uncle Marcus letting him know that he'd gotten the favor from the Headmaster that he'd wanted. From his snooping and eavesdropping Albus knew that the favor involved getting the two time-travelers into Hogwarts without anyone realizing they were from the future. They'd made up some story about Harry being Uncle Marcus's son from a muggle woman, which wasn't entirely unheard of it. Neville had been more difficult, but he was finally labeled as some long lost cousin from a squib, no one would believe that Uncle Donald had a son.
They'd gone to Diagon Alley to get supplies the day after getting the letters and Albus spent the entire day trailing along behind the group. For some reason Albus couldn't understand Richie had attached himself to Harry and Neville, not quite acting like a moonstruck calf, but much closer to that then Albus had ever thought possible for his cool, collected friend. Aberforth and Ariana had been the true moonstruck calves, following right on Harry's heels and hanging on his every word.
It made Albus want to be sick.
That was the fourth bad thing about this past month – he'd lost his siblings to Harry Potter. No longer did they want to play with him or follow him around, now they looked to Harry for entertainment. He felt like an old, broken toy when they were around. A toy that you can't bear to throw out, but you really don't want anymore.
And so, as the carriage navigated the busy London streets Albus stared at the window and sullenly plotted how to make everything go back to the way it had been before.
Even if it took him years, he'd make sure things got back to normal, no matter what.
As soon as the carriage rolled to a stop Aberforth swung the door open and hopped to the ground. Quickly he turned and pulled the step out for Ariana. It took a little maneuvering for her to get out of the carriage. She wasn't used to wearing such a fancy dress.
Once she was down he pulled her over to side and out of the way so that everyone else could get their things. Watching the growing activity around the carriage, Ariana's small hand in his, a lump began to form in Aberforth's throat.
It was hard for him to believe that it was September 1st already. It seemed like only yesterday that Harry had rescued Ariana from those boys. When he'd first stumbled into the spare bedroom with Albus and seen Harry lying on the bed he never could've imagined that Harry was so amazing.
From listening to Neville and Harry talk Aberforth knew that there was an extremely evil wizard in the future and that Harry had met him and survived four times. The adventures the two of them talked about made his feet itch. He wanted to set off and find his own adventures, like they had.
Realistically he knew that the only adventure he had to look forward to was getting his Hogwarts letter in three years. Until then he'd just have to wait.
After all, you couldn't go on an adventure without a wand.
Ariana squeezed her brother's hand as she watched the four older boys disappear, one by one, through the platform barrier.
Tears stung her eyes as she realized that it was just going to be her and Aberforth until Christmas. She didn't want to go that long without seeing Albus, Harry, Neville, and Richie.
She gave a little sniff, trying to stop from crying. She was a young lady, young ladies didn't cry. It took every ounce of willpower in her little body, but she managed not to shed a tear, at least for the moment.
Later, as the train began to pull away from the station she felt herself finally losing the battle with the tears. She was just about to break down when Aberforth pulled her into a hug and kissed the top of her blonde head.
"Shh, they'll be back soon. I'll keep you company until then."
"Of course, I'll never leave you."
The two of them turned as one and waved at the train. They didn't know if they waved at their friends and brother or not, neither of them could make out the student's faces through their tears.
Finally, when the train was nothing but a speck in the distance, they allowed their parents and uncles to escort them off the station.
Neither of them noticed the ragged person watching them from the shadows.
Harry gave one final wave out the window at little Ariana and Aberforth before the train rounded a bend and the children disappeared from sight. Plopping back on his seat he grinned across the compartment at Neville.
"We're going back to Hogwarts."
Neville grinned back, the smile transforming his face, "And I have my wand back finally."
"When did he give it back?"
"Right before I got on the train."
Harry chuckled, "I don't think Uncle Donald trusts you."
"I don't think he trusts anyone. Remember? The tailor at the robe shop almost went into shock when he heard I was living with him."
Harry frowned as he remembered Mr. Fuller. The little bird-like man had given a squawk of surprise and almost tripped over a stool when he heard Neville's last name. When he'd found his voice again he'd said, "Donald Longbottom let someone sleep in his house?"
"Yeah…I wonder what the story is there?" Harry said curiously.
"Uncle Donald was abandoned by his mother when his father died. He grew up all alone in that huge house. According to my mother he didn't even shed a tear when he got the letter saying his mother had turned himself into a rock in the Himalayas." Richie said calmly before burying his nose back in his potions book.
Harry blinked in surprise. Uncle Donald's mother was a rock now?
Before he or Neville could wrap their minds around that little bit of information the compartment door slid open to reveal a tall, black haired boy already in his school robes, a prefect badge on his chest.
His eyes scanned the compartment coolly before settling on the empty spot next to Harry. A small, cold smile curved his thin lips.
"Ah, there's apparently room in this compartment." His voice was high, cold, and strangely familiar.
Harry was half afraid he was going to sit in there with them, but instead he pushed a small girl into the compartment.
"Miss Thompson, please stay in here for the remainder of the trip. I don't need mudbloods cluttering up my compartment."
The blood began to boil in Harry's veins at the use of the word "mudblood", especially so freely from a prefect. His hand started to edge towards his wand, but before he could do anything the boy gave a curt nod and slammed the compartment door shut.
The girl just stood there in front of the closed door, not moving. She was already in her school robes and they looked a little worn, like they were second-hand. Her dirty brown hair hung in a curtain over her pale, bony face.
Harry didn't think he had ever seen a more miserable looking human in his life. He opened his mouth to say something, but Neville beat him to the punch.
"Are you alright? Did he hurt you?" Neville got to his feet as he said this and pulled her over to sit beside him and Richie, tossing Richie's stack of books onto the other boy's lap.
If the situation had been different Harry would have burst out laughing at the sight of Richie trying to frantically hold on to all of his textbooks.
The girl nodded slowly and then asked in a quiet, almost indiscernible voice, "What's a mudblood?"
"A cruel and vicious insult for those of muggle-birth," Richie answered promptly as he finished stacking his books on the seat across from him.
Harry had a weird sense of déjà-vu. Could Hermione and Richie be related? Wait, where was Hermione? Was she even in this time period? Uncle Marcus had been on the lookout for her in the Ministry and Harry had at least expected to see her at Platform 9¾. She knew the train always left at eleven on September 1st.
Harry's attention was drawn out of his thoughts and back to the girl sitting between Neville and Richie. A rather foul and uncouth word had just popped out of her mouth.
"So, he's a bully and a prefect?"
Richie shrugged, "Most likely. That was Sirius Black, the son of our very pureblood Headmaster. The Blacks are not exactly known for liking those of muggle-birth."
At the name something twisted in Harry's stomach. That boy had been a Black? Did that mean he was related to his Godfather? With how small the Wizarding Community was they probably were related somehow.
"So all that's different here is that we get to carry twigs and mumble magic words at each other?"
Harry couldn't help but wince at cynicism in her young voice. He also didn't like the idea of his wand being called a 'twig'.
"Most likely, human nature is the same the world round. The main difference here is that the people like Black end up in Slytherin, so we more normal people can avoid them much more easily." Richie's voice was a little softer now than it had been since they'd boarded the train.
"Slytherin? What's that? A magic spell?" The girl asked in confusion as she pushed the stringy hair off her face so that she could see Richie more clearly.
"No, it's one of the four School Houses: Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Gryffindor. Slytherin is for the ambitious. Hufflepuff takes the loyal. Ravenclaw is for the brains. Gryffindors are the brave ones. Normally though they just act first and think later."
Harry chuckled at the description of Gryffindor. He'd been known to do that a few times. He shared knowing look with Neville as they remembered the times they had saved the thinking for later – when Hermione let them.
"How do you know which House you'll be in?"
Richie shrugged, "They pick the best one-"
Richie was cut off by the compartment door sliding open quickly and then slamming shut as someone threw themselves into the compartment.
A girl stood there in a very odd and garishly colored dress. She stood there for a moment, trying to catch her breath, as they all watched her curiously.
A group of people moved noisily through the corridor outside before she put her hands on her hips and spoke.
"Now, are you four going to say somethin smart? Or can I stay here?" Her voice had a rather strong and odd accent to it. Harry knew he had heard an accent like it before, but he couldn't remember where.
Miss Thompson pointed over at Richie, "I think he says a lot of smart things, or he has in the past few moments. Is that a bad thing?"
One thin eyebrow on the new girl's face rose until it was almost touching her braided hair. "What sorta smart things?"
Miss Thompson shrugged (Harry made a note to ask their names as soon as he could), "He was telling me about the School Houses."
"Those sorta smart things ain't bad. I think I'll stay here." Then, without another word the girl pushed Richie's books onto the floor and plopped herself on the bench next to Harry, pulled a thick book out of her bag and began to read.
Since the book was much too small to be a school book Harry was curious. He leaned forward just a little so he could see the author and title.
From the Earth to the Moon
Harry's eyebrows shot up a little. He wasn't that big into reading, but he recognized the name Jules Verne. One of his teachers when he had lived at the Dursleys had loved what he called "Classic Science Fiction". Jules Verne was one of the authors his teacher had raved about.
Harry looked up from the book to catch the girl staring at him.
"Ya got a problem with me choice of book?"
Harry shook his head quickly, "No, I was just curious. By the way, I'm Harry Potter, what's your name?"
The girl eyed him suspiciously for a moment before responding. "I'm Illyria Wooten."
"Nice to meet you, this is Richie Potter, Neville Longbottom, and uhhh….Miss Thompson." Harry had been pointing each person out as he said their name and now his hand hovered in mid air, pointing at Miss Thompson as he realized he didn't know her first name.
"I'm Emily Thompson, pleased to meet you," she filled in for him.
The girls stared at each other for a moment, as if they were measuring each other with their eyes. After a moment they broke into matching grins.
"Can I call you Em?"
"Only if I can call you Illy."
Illyria made a face at this and shook her head, her thin, beaded braids swinging out and hitting the wall as she did so. "Ugh, no, I'll call you Emily."
Emily's grin broadened, "Works for me."
The trolley came by a few minutes later and soon the five of them were buried up to their eyeballs in sweets. The way Emily ate them Harry wondered if she'd eaten for days. It was later, as they were slouched around the compartment, slowly digesting their goodies, that Harry learned the interesting backgrounds behind these two girls.
Illyria was a muggleborn her father was Jamaican shopkeeper that had been unlucky enough to fall in love with an English woman. The two of them had ended up eloping and now spent their lives doing one of the few jobs still open to them – entertainment. Illyria had grown up on the road with her four brothers. It had been a rather pleasant shock to her when she'd gotten her letter since she'd never much fancied being an entertainer.
Emily's parents had died in a fire when she was very young. She rolled the sleeves of her robes up a little to show the burn scars covering her arms before quickly rolling them back down. She rather pointedly didn't say anything about the years between the fire and the present, though Harry noticed that she did keep playing with the rough wooden cross around her neck as she told them that she had a cousin on board the train, but that he had bumped into some blonde boy and then disappeared, leaving her to get into trouble with Sirius Black.
As the train continued it's long journey north Harry couldn't help but wonder what would be different at Hogwarts. But the question that really kept plaguing him was: Where was Hermione?
Back in London the Leaky Cauldron was doing a steady stream of business. Every room in the small inn was full as parents with all of their children off at Hogwarts had a small holiday.
The barkeeper, Old Tom, moved quickly behind the bar, filling drinks as fast as people could drink them. His wife, Marsha, was in the kitchen churning out more food than they usually sold in a week.
He didn't give a second thought to the small squib girl helping his daughter wait on tables. He was just grateful to have extra help for the cheap price of a pallet by the fire and three meals a day.
And I leave you with that. I did originally plan to put another scene in this chapter, but I think I'll save it for the next one. I know Neville didn't get a voice, but, don't worry, his voice is the missing scene which will now head up the next chapter :D
Also, I hope you like the OC's. Considering the time period there just aren't enough canon characters to go around. And the ones I do have (like Sirius Black II), weren't really given a personality by JK as far as I can find.
I'm truly sorry it's been so long since I updated. Between work, job hunting, having a really active social life (it's a new thing for me, I think I like it, lol), and 'the event' as Nicole (nicluvly) dubbed it. I'm done talking about though, I got all of my feelings out in my last one-shot and I'm on the mend.
Oh, anyone know a way to speed up an FBI background check? :D That's all I'm waiting on for my Korean job hunt.
Really, eight weeks to run my fingerprints through the system, print off a paper, stamp it, and send it back to me? I had to get my fingerprints done for my teaching certificate and they got my card, sent it to the FBI, got it back, made my certificate and got it to me in less than four weeks. Does that make sense?
Eh, whatever, lol, I'm in no rush. I have an ok part-time job, a roof over my head, and medical insurance as long as I'm living at home without a full-time job.
I just want to know when I can expect to leave….
Hopefully it won't take as long to do the next chapter. Definitely not a month. I'll get at least one, if not two or three, more in by DragonCon. Yes, I'm going :D
I can hardly believe I've been doing this for only a little over a year.
Okay, enough rambling from me! My bad habits are creeping back in….
Enjoy! Read! Review!
Chapter 6: The Sorting
Harry and company are sorted into their houses.
When the train pulled into Hogsmeade Neville followed Harry off the train. The two of them were followed by their new acquaintances and possible friends. The looks on their faces as they stumbled towards the wrinkled old man calling out for the first years to follow him was reminiscent of his own look the first time he got off the Hogwarts Express.
Like he had done several years ago Neville headed across the platform towards the waiting boats and the lake. A tremor of anticipation went up his spine at the thought of seeing the castle from the lake at night once again.
In the shuffle of moving bodies Neville found himself separated from Harry. He ended up in a boat with Emily Thompson, Richie Potter, and another boy that he didn't recognize. The new boy's dirty blonde hair was cut in a rather unflattering bowl-cut, which didn't help his angular features out at all.
"A-yo! I'm Preston, Preston Turnipseed. Who're you?" The new boy, Preston Turnipseed, leaned over excitedly as he said this so his face was just a few inches from Neville's face.
Neville leaned back quickly at the sudden intrusion of his personal space, almost tumbling over the side. Only a quick grab from Richie and Emily saved him from a wet tumble.
Preston completely missed this, "Isn't this excitin? I can't really believe it. Me and me Ma were visitin me grandma when I got me letter. I grew up in America you see. I had no clue 'bout all this, me and me Ma were all balled up when we read the letter. But then the Professor showed up and cleared things up for us. Right nice of him, wasn't it? He took us to that weird leaky bar, no, pub, sorry, don't know me English words yet. Well, he took us to this pub and then to that magic street. Til we saw magic there we thought he was a four-flusher, just like me Pa. Me Pa's spendin time in the pokey for cheatin at cards. Ma says he's no good, but I like him still. He always gets me the best presents. Specially when he's fresh out of the pokey, dunno why, think he's sayin sorry. What does your Pa do? Bet he's a wizard. Ain't that just the best? I can't wait to use me wand. Promised Ma I'd send her somethin' splendid fer Christmas. She has to go home, so I can't see her til next summer. Ain't that sad? Yeah, it's sad, but it's also excitin'. I wonder what my Pa's gonna say when Ma tells him? He'll be proud, he will. He's good like that. Always tellin me to better meself and make him proud."
Neville felt his jaw go slack as Preston continued to talk. Did the boy ever breathe? Or even wait for someone else to answer? Looking over at Emily and Richie he saw that they were just as slack-jawed as him.
Where had this boy come from, and what was he doing at Hogwarts? Neville had never heard of an American coming to Hogwarts. Didn't they have their own schools over there?
After a half a second Neville realized that Preston had grown silent. Wondering what had made the boy shut his mouth, Neville looked up.
And then he saw it.
The castle was just as magnificent as he remembered it, possibly even more so. It sparkled and shined above the lake like a giant fairy castle. He'd never seen anything so beautiful. The lights reflected in the black lake water, making him feel like he was surrounded by dancing fairies.
Apparently he wasn't the only one that thought it was magnificent. There were audible gasps and cries of awe and surprise as everyone caught sight of the castle.
Unfortunately, the moment of quietness from Preston was too short for Neville's taste.
"Stupendous! Tha' place is marvelous! Are we goin' to be goin' ta school there? Wait 'til I tell me Ma 'bout it!"
Neville tuned Preston out again and just let the sight of the castle soak into him. For the first time since falling back in time he felt like he was safe.
Sure, he liked the Dumbledores, and his ancestor wasn't too bad…even if he was eccentric, but he'd never really felt comfortable during the past month.
Now though, now he was home.
A shiver of delight and anticipation went down Albus' spine when he saw the castle. He'd known it would be a glorious sight, that's what all the books had told him, but nothing could have prepared him for the sheer majesty of Hogwarts.
He knew as soon as he saw it that this was where he belonged. His future lay inside of those ancient stone walls.
He just had to find it.
Hermione looked up at the huge clock above the bar for the millionth time that day.
A flash of sadness swept through her as she realized it was finally time. The train had to be at Hogwarts now and even now Harry and Neville should be crossing the lake with the real first years.
She couldn't believe her luck.
She'd popped into this time period in the middle of Poland. Why she had appeared there, she didn't know. She supposed it had something to do with space being as flexible as time, but she wasn't sure.
She'd narrowly dodged some bandits by using some quick transfiguration work before starting out across the country. The compass spell she'd taught Harry during the Triwizard Tournament had really shown it's worth during her month long trek across Europe.
Most of the trip had been uneventful. She'd spent her time sleeping in barns and doing whatever she could to get fed at night. She'd tried transfiguring pebbles into coins, but hadn't been able to get the metal composition quite right. One shopkeeper had tried to get her thrown in jail because the coin wasn't the right shade of silver.
She'd only found herself saved in that instance because of a cheerful boy with golden hair. He'd spoken quickly to the shopkeeper in Polish, handed over some coins, and then hurried her away before she could say anything.
He didn't speak English, and she didn't speak Polish, so communication had been hard. She did manage to get across her thanks before slipping away from him, which hadn't been easy.
He'd tried to take her home with him and normally she would've agreed, but he was much too curious about her. She'd ended up stupefying him and disappearing into the woods.
She'd finally gotten to London a few days ago and had managed to get Tom the Innkeeper to let her stay and work for him. She'd convinced him she was a squib who had been thrown out of her home when she didn't get into Hogwarts.
That morning she'd slipped out of the Leaky Cauldron and over to King's Cross Station. She knew that today was September first and she was sure that if Harry and Neville where in this time period they'd think this was a good time and place to meet.
And, sure enough, she'd found the two of them, unfortunately it hadn't been how she'd expected to find them.
She'd expected to find them hiding in the shadows like her, trying to not mess with the timeline and not cause a paradox.
Instead she'd found them strolling in the middle of a huge group of wizards. Wizards that were rather important. Wizards they should've steered clear of.
If Hermione hadn't been worried about causing more disruptions she would've stormed across the station and bashed those two idiots' heads together.
What were they THINKING?
Maybe Neville wouldn't have known what to do, but Harry had traveled in time with her before. He KNEW that you couldn't do anything to mess with time that hadn't been messed with already. Sure, he'd gotten away with the Patronus Charm and saving Sirius and Buckbeak, but they had already known it was going to happen.
This time period was an unknown. They didn't know what had been changed and what hadn't. Anyway, no one had ever traveled this far back in time before. Even now time might be ripping at the seams after having so many people thrown into the wrong time period. Maybe that's why she'd ended up in Poland.
She didn't know and there was nothing she could do now but keep a low profile and wait until Christmas Break.
Maybe she could sneak down to Flourish and Blots and do some research while she waited…
Once again Harry stood in the Great Hall with a group of first-years and listened to the Sorting Hat sing its song.
And, like last time, his stomach was in knots and he felt most definitely queasy, if for an entirely different reason this time.
The Hat could see inside of his head. It would know he didn't belong in this time period.
What would it do?
Images of all sorts of possibilities were flashing through his head. Would it call for help? Would it fry his brain? Images of smoke coming out of his ears as he writhed in pain appeared.
Would he be thrown in prison?
Would the Dumbledores be punished for hiding him?
Would his ancestor be punished?
It was with a jolt that Harry heard a plump wizard with bushy eyebrows and even bushier sideburns call out "Black, Phineas."
A weedy boy with jet black hair strode confidently up to the Sorting Hat. The Hat only sat on his head for a second before it shouted out, "SLYTHERIN!"
Harry watched as several more students were called up, including a boy named "Crabbe, Walburga," before, "Dumbledore, Albus," was called.
Harry grinned as he watched Albus go up to the Sorting Hat. He couldn't believe he was about to watch the great Albus Dumbledore be sorted into Gryffindor. This was a moment of history, one he couldn't wait to discuss with the Headmaster when he got back to his own time.
The large Sorting Hat slipped onto Albus' small blonde head. Unexpectedly, for Harry, it didn't immediately call out Gryffindor. Nothing happened for so long that hushed murmurs began to circle around the room. After what seemed to be an eternity the hat shouted out, "SLYTHERIN!"
Harry's jaw hit the floor. Albus was in Slytherin? Had he always been in Slytherin? Come to think of it, Harry had never asked him what house he had been in, he had just assumed Gryffindor. Had he been wrong?
What was going on?
These thoughts kept racing through Harry's head as, "Gamp, Hesper," became Ravenclaw and "Gideon, Brittany," and "Gideon, Gerald," became Slytherins.
When "Longbottom, Neville," was called whispers filled the Great Hall and Harry turned his attention to his friend. Surprisingly Neville didn't seem nervous or even stumble as he went up the Sorting Hat. He walked up to it like he was taking a stroll around the lake.
The Sorting Hat sat on him for about a full minute before saying in its firmest voice yet, "GRYFFINDOR!"
Harry grinned and clapped with the rest of the first-years. As he was clapping he heard someone comment in a confused voice, "I thought Donald Longbottom was the only one left in that family. Where did this boy come from?"
Turning, Harry saw a dark-skinned boy at the Hufflepuff table staring at Neville in a very curious way. Judging from the other confused faces and the whispers when Neville's name had been called Harry could only assume that this boy wasn't the only one wondering that.
"Lestrange, Robiere," was called next. Harry wasn't surprised when he was sorted into Slytherin.
And then it was Harry's turn. The queasiness returned to Harry's stomach even stronger than it had been before as he crossed to the stool, sat down, and slipped the Sorting Hat onto his head.
"Oh, what do we have here?" A voice whispered in his head. "Somehow, I've looked at you before, but I don't remember doing that."
"I'm like Neville," Harry thought back.
"Yes, I see that. So you traveled through time and somehow grew younger while you did so. That's probably because you ingested or touched some of the Time Sand. There's a reason they kept it trapped in an hourglass you know."
"Ah, so, you aren't going to tell on me?"
The Hat gave a dry chuckle, "Why would I tell on you? You're still loyal to Hogwarts. I see you're confused about something. What is…oh, Albus Dumbledore. I suppose I'll tell you, since you need to be warned. I was going to put that boy in Gryffindor, just like his parents, but he asked otherwise."
"WHAT?" Harry shouted inside of his mind.
"Yes, he wants to become more than he is and he doesn't believe that Gryffindor will help him achieve greatness."
"But..but it does! He's the best wizard of the 20th Century! He's amazing! How…what caused this?"
"Why, you did, dear boy."
Before Harry could wrap his mind around that thought the Sorting Hat shouted out, "GRYFFINDOR," the plump wizard pulled the hat off of his head, and he was stumbling over to a seat at the Gryffindor table.
Neville gave him a concerned look, but Harry didn't respond. Old lectures from Hermione on time travel were now swimming though his head, taking over his ears, and drowning out the rest of the Great Hall.
A couple minutes later Richie joined him at the table.
"Harry, what's wrong, you look like you've seen a ghost." Richie whispered after he took a seat.
Harry shook his head, blinked, and swallowed sharply. "Richie, I think I did something really wrong…"
Neville leaned over to listen as Richie frowned and asked, "What did you do?"
Harry stared down at the gleaming gold plate in front of him, "I don't know."
Ok, updates should be more regular now. I’m settled into my new job and apartment here in Changwon, South Korea.
I’m keeping a blog of my time here, here's the link if you’re interested.
You can follow it if you’re a gmail user or just put your email in at the bottom to get a message when I update.
I’m sorry for the two months between updates. I was going to post before DragonCon, but had a lot of stuff to do for my job in Korea. Then, right after DragonCon, I had a death in my immediate family and spent the next three weeks sorting things out with that. Then I was off to Korea and getting settled in.
Again, if you want details, it’s in my blog. I’m not going to write a novel for my AN anymore. :)
Hope you’re having a good week!
Chapter 7: A Seed of an Idea
In which an amazing idea comes from an unexpected source.
During the entire first week at Hogwarts Harry kept getting distracted. Every time he wasn't actively interacting with people or doing something for his teachers he was thinking. Going back over every minute of the past month and a half.
He was desperately trying to remember what he could've done to change Albus. He kept spilling stuff on his robes at mealtimes, walking into people or walls, and messing up in class.
During the first Transfiguration class they'd been trying to turn a match into a needle. Neville and Harry had agreed to pretend to be on the same level as the other first years – which required a lot more concentration than you would think. So, it was almost a total disaster when Harry's mind wandered off during class. Instead of just waving his wand and producing no results – like everyone else – he turned his match into a perfect needle. As well as every other match on the desk he was sharing with Neville.
Luckily Professor Macmillan had only believed it to be a fluke when Harry was unable to repeat the spell properly. He'd gone back to reading his book at his desk muttering something about too much raw talent and not enough skill to fill a thimble.
That first incident had occurred on Monday.
On Tuesday Harry almost gave himself away when he came out of his daze in the middle of History of Magic only to realize that Professor Binns was actually still alive. The only thing that gave it away was the fact that it's impossible for a ghost to sneeze and wheeze all over his desk. Only Neville's kick to his leg kept him from saying something stupid like, "You're alive!"
Even if it hadn't given him away it would've earned him a detention.
On Wednesday he'd almost fallen off the Astronomy Tower. He'd been lost in thought one minute, and in the next he'd been dangling over the edge of the tower. His robe had been grabbed by Misletie Chevalier and Emily Thompson while Richie had rescued his telescope. He still wasn't sure what had happened, and neither was anyone else. Though Professor Black had accused him of playing around and had given him a detention for that Friday night.
Lack of sleep and a near death experience had made him less than happy when he woke up on Thursday morning. This wasn't helped when he arrived in Defense Against the Dark Arts and discovered who the teacher was. Professor Malfoy had an intense dislike for Gryffindors and was quite happy to assign them lots of homework. It hadn't helped that Professor Malfoy was almost a carbon copy of his descendent, Draco Malfoy, the two of them could've been twins.
The only good thing about Thursday was that they had Charms next. Except, Harry almost blew everything when he called their professor Percy, but, truly, anyone would've made that mistake! The resemblance between Professor Billius Weasley and Percy Weasley was uncanny. They looked as similar as Fred and George. Luckily Professor Weasley hadn't realized that Harry was talking to him.
Then, on Friday, during Potions, Harry had almost killed everyone. He added too many cockroach eyes and turned his Straightening Serum into a strong, explosive acid that ate through everything.
It even ate through solid stone.
The class was all huddled on narrow stone columns (all that remained of the floor) and covered in acid burns by the time Professor Rosier managed to get everything under control.
After that little incident Harry found himself with detention every Saturday for the next month. Professor Rosier did not believe in mistakes and second chances. His exact words were:
"There is no humanly possible way you could have 'accidently' doubled the number of cockroach eyes. You did that on purpose and without even thinking through the consequences, just like most Gryffindors. As punishment you'll spend every Saturday for the next month in detention learning how to stop and think.
"Did you really do that on purpose?" Emily Thompson asked at lunch later, when they were all healed and cleaned up.
"Don't be stupid, of course he didn't. There's not enough of him there to do anything like THAT on purpose." Misletie Chevalier said through a mouthful of sausage and egg.
"How could you think that, Emily?" Neville asked as he shot Chevalier an annoyed look. "Does Harry seem like the sort to try and kill everyone?"
"Well…no…but he has done a lot of stupid things this week." Emily replied pertly.
Harry hurriedly finished chewing and swallowed.
"I could've sworn the directions on the board said ten ounces of cockroach eyes, not five."
"Then maybe you should see Madam Abbott about getting new glasses, not that it will help you if you're so blind as to mistake a five for a ten."
Harry just rolled his eyes at Chevalier. Really, he had no idea how he'd messed up the potion. He'd made the Straightening Serum many times before; he should've known to only add five ounces of cockroach eyes. Still, when he'd glanced at the board and read ten ounces of cockroach eyes he hadn't questioned it, nope, he'd just slid ten of them into his cauldron and looked on in shock as the world exploded around him.
It had probably been one of the most unpleasant moments in potions he'd ever had, which was saying a lot.
"There's no use arguing over why it happened. What's done is done, after all. Now, I don't know about you, but I'm going to go get started on Professor Malfoy's essay on basic shields so I can actually enjoy my weekend." Richie's cool voice cut through the heated discussion that Harry had just noticed going on between Neville and Chevalier on whether Harry really needed his eyes checked or not.
Harry nodded, "That sounds like a good idea, I'll join you."
Richie nodded before looking around the table, "Anyone else?"
All they got was silence and a few shaken heads so Harry and Richie left the Great Hall and headed up to the Library to get their papers done.
About two hours later Richie laid his quill down and pronounced himself done. Harry had been finished for a while already. He didn't know why he'd ever thought essays like this were hard – they were nothing compared to O.W.L.S. preparations.
"Great, want to go see what's going on outside? We still have a couple hours until dinner," Harry asked as he began packing up his bag.
"In a minute, first I want to know why you've been acting so strangely since we got to Hogwarts."
Harry's breath caught, "Me? Acting strangely? How so?"
"One, you keep getting lost. Two, you almost fell of the Astronomy Tower. Three, you keep staring at Albus. Four, you almost killed all of us this morning. Oh, and several other little things not worth mentioning."
"I've just been trying to act like a normal first year, that's all."
"Harry, I spent a month with you and heard all sorts of things from Neville about you as well, you've been acting oddly."
"You really have."
Harry looked up from his bag to see that Neville had appeared from around a bookcase.
"I haven't been acting oddly. You two are imagining things."
Neville crossed his arms, "Harry, I'm not imagining things. I've known you for years and if Hermione or Ron were here they'd agree with me."
Harry took a deep breath, trying to keep the anger he felt welling up inside him under control. Really, he shouldn't be angry, the two of them were trying to look out for him.
"Look, I'm not acting oddly for any reason. It's just that Hogwarts is so different, yet frighteningly similar, it's throwing me off. I'm in Gryffindor, but the common room looks off and we're in the wrong dormitory. Add that to all the teachers that look familiar, but are different. I'm also worried about Hermione and how we're going to get back to 1996."
Harry purposefully didn't mention his worries about Albus and how they might've changed the future. They wouldn't understand. They'd never had a Hermione lecture on time and paradox. Granted, you weren't supposed to go this far back with a time turner, so the rules might be different, but it probably wasn't a good idea to change things, especially something as important as your Hogwarts' House.
"Harry, I'm being thrown off by all those things too, but you don't see me almost killing everyone. What's the real reason?" Neville crossed his arms and gave Harry a very un-Neville like stare.
"Harry, please, tell us, we're your friends," Richie added.
Friends? These were his friends? Sure, Neville was someone Harry considered a friend, but not a close one, not like Ron and Hermione. As for Richie…Harry had only known the boy for a month! Just a month!
"Look," Harry said through gritted teeth, "there's nothing wrong. I'm just having trouble adjusting, that's all."
"Harry…I don't think-"
"Neville! Shut! Up!" Harry roared as he finally lost it. "There. Is. Nothing. Wrong. Okay? Absolutely nothing!"
Neville and Richie stumbled back a step at the sight of Harry's anger. They held matching looks of surprise with just a hint of fear on their faces.
Harry ignored them as he shouldered his bag and stormed out of the library. He was oblivious to the fact that every pair of eyes in the library followed him out; including a pair of twinkling blue ones.
As Harry stormed down the hallway blood rushed in his ears as he shoved his way through a gaggle of Hufflepuff girls at the bottom of the stairs.
He was just so sick and tired of it all!
He was sick and tired of Dumbledore screwing up his life
First, he'd sent him to the Dursleys and keep him in the dark.
Second, he'd ignored Harry all year.
Third, he'd up and joined Slytherin!
Why had Albus Dumbledore joined Slytherin?
And how was it Harry's fault?
Was it something he'd said or done at the Dumbledore's that summer?
No, it couldn't be! He'd only ever been nice to Albus!
These thoughts continued to swirl angrily through Harry's head as he headed out of the castle and onto the grounds. He didn't pay attention to where he was walking, he was too busy worrying about the future and what Dumbledore being in Slytherin meant to the world.
If Dumbledore turned evil, like so many Slytherins, then who would stop Voldemort? Who would keep Hogwarts safe from Voldemort?
These fears were so strong running through Harry's thoughts that he didn't notice the dozing body lying under a tree.
Well, he didn't notice until he tripped and fell on them.
"Gah!" was accompanied by a startled snort and someone trying to jump to their feet, only to get tangled up in their robes and fall flat on their face.
Harry pulled himself back to his feet hurriedly turned around to help whomever it was that he had tripped over.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
The other student pulled himself up into a sitting position and checked to see if his nose was broken. When he found it to be in its proper position he grinned and pushed his flaming red hair out of his face.
"Yeh, I'll live. Yeh can't hurt me, yeh ain't nuthin but a bag ah skin an' bones."
Harry looked at the other boy and fought the urge to groan. Why, of all the people at Hogwarts, did he have to trip over Preston Turnipseed? The lone American at the school, no one quite knew why he was here and not at some school in the states. His accent grated on everyone's nerves, primarily because he never stopped talking. He also was quickly become none as the class dunce. He was worse than Neville had ever been and he didn't seem to care.
"Well, I'm glad you're alright," Harry backed up a few steps. "I really need to go now."
"Are yeh a regular four-flusher or do yeh jus' not like me?"
Harry stopped moving backwards and frowned at Preston, "Pardon?"
Preston grunted, "Yeh heard me."
Harry shook his head, "I heard you, but I didn't understand you. What's a four-flusher?"
Preston rolled his eyes, "Don' yeh now nuthin? A four-flusher is a liar."
Harry's frown deepened, "Then why didn't you just say liar?"
Preston shrugged, "I guess I jus' wanted ta see how stupid yeh really are."
Harry's blood began to boil again, just like it had back in the library. "Stupid? I'm not stupid."
"Yeh coulda fooled me."
Now Harry was truly angry again. Who was this little boy to call him stupid? He'd fought Voldemort four times and survived every time! He had just taken his O.W.L.S.! There was no way he was stupid! Harry gritted his teeth though and tried to control his temper. He didn't want to accidently hurt this little kid.
"I'm not stupid. I've just been distracted."
Preston scoffed, "Coulda fooled me. Anyways, what yeh gots to be distracted about? Yer just a kid like me."
Harry tried to count to ten.
He failed, probably because the look of disgust and disbelief on Preston's face was too much to bear.
"I have plenty to distract me! You'd be distracted too if your best friend got lost and couldn't be found!" Harry practically shouted.
Preston blinked up at him for a moment, when he did speak it was in a calm voice, like one you might use with a small child. "Why don' yeh send 'em a letter?"
Harry rolled his eyes, "How can I send them a letter if I don't know where they are?"
"Send 'em an owl. Ain't those creatures magic or somethin'? Can't they find anyone?"
Harry stared at Preston in shock. At first his brain was empty and silent, and then his thoughts started spinning again.
Why hadn't they thought of that already? After all, Hedwig had always found Sirius, no matter where he was hiding. So why couldn't they find Hermione the same way?
"Preston, you're a genius," Harry whispered just before he took off running back to the castle.
Preston watched as Harry Potter ran off. Once the skinny twig of a kid was gone he muttered, "Took yeh long enough."
Oh my god, did that take me forever to update! I never planned to let this story get away from me, but upon reaching Korea I suddenly became unable to write a word of fiction. I've been too busy taking in information that I've barely been able to create anything. Then, when I finally started to get a handle on my new world I got a boyfriend (who is amazing and now, after six months, I can honestly say I love him very much). What little creative juices I've regained have all been turned towards working on my original story, nicknamed DS.
You can thank my ability to write fanfiction again on the month long visit from my sister. I don't know what it was, but just being around her made me want to start writing again. I think it might've been from her getting me to watch the Potter Musicals (go, see them NOW if you haven't already).
I shall do my best to not have nine months between now and the next update.
As for Harry's anger in this chapter, remember, he's still the angry kid from OotP. Sirius never died here, thus forcing Harry to get over himself and grow up.
I hope to have the next chapter up within the next few weeks, we'll see when I can get to writing.
Chapter 8: The Waiting
In which Harry sends off a letter, does what he does best, and waits.
Harry raced up the last few steps to the Owlery. Once there he paused to catch his breath before pulling out parchment and a quill.
Then he began writing.
It didn't take him long, the message was short and he'd figured out what to write on his run through Hogwarts. Once finished he read through it one more time.
This is Harry, I'm at Hogwarts with Neville. We've teamed up with our ancestors and the Dumbledores to figure out how to get back to our time. Time-turners have yet to be invented. I thought Hogwarts would be best place to wait, but I think I was wrong. I did something terrible, and I need you to help me fix it. Please, I can't do this without you.
I hope you're okay, please respond as soon as you get this message and let me know where you are.
Happy with what he wrote he quickly looked around for a suitable bird. He finally decided on a sturdy looking barn owl, he didn't know how far it would have to fly.
Tying the message to the owl's leg he looked the owl in the eye and said, "Take this to Hermione Granger."
The owl cocked it's head in confusion and Harry felt a shimmer of disappointment and fear. Was it possible the owl couldn't find someone not from this time? Or was Hermione not here at all?
Pushing aside the fear Harry looked the owl in the eyes again and brought up an image of Hermione in his head. "Bring this letter to Hermione Granger."
The owl still looked confused and Harry almost shouted in frustration and fear. Why couldn't the owl figure out who he meant?
Was Hermione not here? Or… Harry shuddered in fear, was she dead?
He slumped against the wall and stared at his hands.
Images of Hermione's body, lying as cold and lifeless as Cedric's flitted through his head. Tears pricked the corners of his eyes as he tried to not cry.
He didn't know how long he sat there, but eventually he had an epiphany.
He'd been asking the owl to find the Hermione he'd last seen, the sixteen year old Hermione, not the eleven year old Hermione! That had to be the reason! Harry wasn't exactly sure how the owls found people, but he'd always thought of the person he was sending the letter to when he spoke to the owl.
Jumping to his feet Harry looked the owl in the eyes again and pictured Hermione as she had looked when he'd first met her: all bushy hair and buckteeth. "Bring this to Hermione Granger."
The owl let out a little hoot of acknowledgement and lifted itself off its perch to fly swiftly out the window.
After sending his letter to Hermione Harry went down to dinner, where Richie and Neville refused to sit anywhere near him, unless he told them what was really the matter. Harry wasn't ready to do that so he'd been forced to sit between Misletie Chevalier and Preston.
Misletie had just stared at her food all through dinner and Preston had talked his ear off. Harry wasn't quite sure what he had talked about either. All he'd caught had been something about a pig and an outhouse.
It was hard to listen to someone when they talked with their mouth full of half-chewed food.
Along about dessert Harry had tried to get Misletie to talk to him, but she'd just shot him an angry, hate-filled glare before returning to her pudding. Harry wasn't sure what her problem was and he didn't think he wanted to know either. Harry spent the rest of dinner listening to the argument going on between the three Smith brothers. It was mildly entertaining - primarily because it reminded Harry of the arguments between the Weasley Brothers.
At the thought of the Weasleys a pang of sadness shot through him, he wondered, what had happened to Ron?
After dinner he served his detention with Professor Black. It was during this detention that he finally encountered the Headmaster in person.
"Good evening, Elladora. How was-"
Harry looked up from the lines he'd been writing to see a tall man with jet black hair, a pointed beard, and thin eyebrows standing in the doorway to Professor Black's office. He was dressed very professionally in midnight black robes that looked like they could stand on their own. Harry recognized him from a portrait he'd seen once in Professor Dumbledore's office.
He looked down his sharp nose at Harry and raised an eyebrow, "A detention already?"
Professor Black nodded, "Yes, he decided jumping off the tower in Astronomy class on Wednesday night was a good idea. Harry Potter, this is Headmaster Phineas Black, my brother." She looked at him pointedly, "I'm sure you know that by know, don't you?"
Actually, Harry hadn't noticed that. He had heard on the train who the Headmaster was, but he'd promptly forgotten as soon as he'd pulled the Sorting Hat off his head, it hadn't really been important. Rather than say that the identity of his Headmaster wasn't a big deal he just nodded politely and said, "Nice to meet you Headmaster."
Headmaster Black nodded back politely while his sharp eyes studied Harry. Harry felt as if the Headmaster could see into his very soul; after a moment though he turned his attention back to Professor Black.
"Elladora, I came here for a specific reason." From the way he said this Harry was certain that this specific reason was not discussable in front of a student. "But I also wanted to talk to you about Phineas. I heard from Xerin that he's causing problems in the Slytherin common room for Sirius. Could you please deal with that? Sirius does have his O.W.L.S. this year and he doesn't' need to worry about his little brother saying unacceptable things around our equals."
Professor Black shot a quick glare at Harry when she realized that he wasn't writing. Harry hurriedly began scribbling out, 'I will not act like an untrustworthy baby on the Astronomy Tower,' again
Once Professor Black was certain that Harry was doing what he was supposed to she spoke again, "I'll see what I can do. Don't worry about it. Also, you might want to check in on Weasley, he's spouting some very un-pure things lately, and around students too."
"Alright, I'll have a talk with him. Now, when are you going to be done with detention?"
"In about twenty minutes I think, he needs to finish the page he's on and one more."
"Sounds good, I'll see you in my office in thirty then."
Once Headmaster Black was gone Professor Black settled herself back at her desk and wrote something. Then she folded up the piece of paper, waved her wand, and sent it soaring out of her office. Once it was gone she smiled a small smile and went back to grading papers.
About ten minutes later Harry was on his way back to Gryffindor Tower as he massaged his cramping hand. He hated writing so much.
Upon reaching Gryffindor Tower he found most of the students to be enjoying their first Friday night at Hogwarts. Harry wasn't feeling very social though and since Richie and Neville refused to talk unless he told them the real reason he'd been out of it, he decided to just go to his room and go to bed. Though he had wanted to tell them about the letter he sent.
As he lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, his fingers slipped under his pillow and fingered the worn piece of parchment there.
After a moment he pulled it out and whispered, "I solemnly swear I am up to no good," as he tapped it with his map.
His eyes scanned the parchment, searching for any familiar name from the future, but all he saw was Albus Dumbledore relaxing in the Slytherin common room and Neville Longbottom in Gryffindor tower.
Sighing, he whispered, "Mischief managed," stuck the map back under his pillow and went to sleep. His want clenched tightly in his fist, just like it was every night since he'd come here.
On Saturday he woke early and went down to the Great Hall. Then he wandered the grounds until it was time for his detention. The rest of the day was spent getting to know just how Professor Rosier's potions cupboards differed from Snape's.
Harry wasn't impressed by the difference.
Rosier seemed to have an even greater fondness for creepy things in jars. It also looked like he'd never cleaned out a cupboard before; so many things were rotten that Harry almost threw up a couple times. He was so nauseated that he couldn't touch the sandwiches a house elf brought him at lunch.
By the time he was free and heading up to Gryffindor Tower to wash the rotten smell off of himself he was not in good mood, despite the glimmer of hope in his chest at the thought of his letter to Hermione.
As he was passing a deserted classroom near the dungeons when he heard some strange noises. There was some grunting and a small whimper.
Frowning, Harry peeked inside the classroom. What he saw there made him angry, very angry.
Standing in the room was the black-haired prefect from the Hogwarts Express. Next to him was a boy and a girl. The three of them were standing over a small figure lying on the ground.
"Do you understand the situation now, brother?" Sirius Black, the prefect asked coldly.
The figure on the ground just whimpered. Harry assumed that the figure was actually Phineas Black, the boy that was causing problems for Sirius according to the Headmaster.
"Sirius, I think he understands. Don't you Phineas?" The girl asked as she leaned over Phineas. Her voice was soft, as if she was trying to comfort him, but the sickly sweet smile on her face destroyed any affect her voice created.
Phineas just whimpered again and the girl leaned closer to him, "Phineas? Did you say something?" She reached out to touch his shoulder.
As soon as she touched his should he struck at her, as swiftly as a snake. She fell backwards as his small fist connected with her stomach. As she tried to catch her breath Phineas raced towards the doorway.
He never made it.
One of the other boys grabbed him. He thrashed in the boy's arms, trying to kick and punch him, but his blows seemed to have no effect.
Sirius let out a dry chuckle, "I'm glad to see you have the family spirit, if not the family brains." Then he sighed, "I didn't want to do anything more drastic, but you leave me no choice." He raised his wand, "Cru-"
Harry didn't think, he threw open the door and shouted, "Expelliarmus!"
He hadn't aimed the spell at the Sirius's wand; rather he'd aimed it at the boy holding Phineas.
Phineas shot out of the boy's hands. As soon as he hit the ground he took off running.
He ran through the doorway, grabbing Harry's arm and began dragging him down the hallway. Harry quickly got his feet under him so that he wasn't being dragged for long, rather, he was almost outpacing Phineas.
The two of them raced up stairways and down hallways. Eventually they reached a humpbacked witch that Harry found familiar. He pulled Phineas to a stop and quickly opened the secret passage. Just as he and Phineas disappeared into the tunnel he heard Sirius and his friends run past.
Harry sighed in relief. He had no doubt that if it came down to a magic duel he could hold his own against the fifth years, but he didn't want to give away how much he know. After all, what first year could do fifth year level spells? Especially when they'd only been at Hogwarts for a week? It was already bad enough that he'd cast Expelliarmus.
The two boys waited for what felt like an eternity, hoping they wouldn't be found. After a while the Slytherin boy, Phineas Black, turned to Harry and said, "Who are you and why did you save me?"
Harry frowned at the boy's cold, aristocratic tone. "I'm Harry Potter," he shrugged, "and I just did what I do." Hermione's accusation that Harry had a saving people thing flitted through his head and he couldn't help but smile, she'd been right, though he'd been too worried and angry at the time to acknowledge it.
Phineas looked at him with suspicion, "Really? A Potter? I suppose I should've seen the resemblance. You're the long-lost half-blood from a muggle woman, aren't you?" Harry nodded. "Anyways, what do you mean, 'I just did what I do'?"
"Exactly that. I can't stand by and watch someone get hurt while I'm doing nothing."
The boy chuckled, "No wonder you're in Gryffindor. I'm Phineas Black by the way. That was my brother and his two friends back there."
"So I gathered, can I ask why he was going to torture you?"
Phineas shrugged as he opened the passageway and looked out into the corridor. "Oh, the usual reasons. I made some comments about the government and the way the world is run, he didn't approve. My brother is even more of purist than my father."
Harry stared at Phineas in shock, "He tortures you regularly? And your father lets him!"
Phineas slipped out into the corridor. "Yes and no. My father has no idea that Sirius tortures me and if I told him he wouldn't believe me. Sirius is the golden boy, he can do no wrong."
Harry followed Phineas and proceeded to close the passage again. This boy's relationship with his brother sounded eerily like Harry's relationship with Dudley before those amazing, magical letters had arrived.
"Are you going to be safe going back to your common room tonight?"
Phineas shrugged, "Probably not, but he won't cast Crucio in the common room, even he's not that crazy. I'll just get some more common hexes put on me. Luckily I've spent the past month studying the counter curses to the ones he uses most often."
"Don't you have any friends in your house to help you?"
He let out a small snort, "This half-blood called Thompson is the leader of the band of boys this year. He's very charismatic and ambitious. Once he realized that I was out of favor with my brother and not my father's favorite he stopped trying to win me over. I'm allowed to be around them, but that's about it."
Harry frowned, "Thompson? Is he related to Emily Thompson in Gryffindor?"
"They're cousins I think. I know they grew up together. Every once in a while he laments the fact that she's not in Slytherin."
The two boys continued in silence until they reached the marble staircase. There they said goodbye before parting ways as Harry headed up and Phineas went down.
"Call me Harry, all my friends do."
Phineas smiled then, for the first time, "Okay, farewell then Harry."
"See you around, Phineas."
Harry found himself whistling as he went back to Gryffindor Tower. Between the letter to Hermione and the saving of Phineas and possible friendship he was in a good mood. He could always use more friends.
Still, in the back of his mind, he worried.
What changes would come from him having saved Phineas? And, would they be bad, or good?
The next two months passed by slowly for Harry.
Every morning for the first month he eagerly awaited the mail, always checking to see if a letter from Hermione arrived, and every morning he was disappointed. By the time October arrived he didn't even spare the owls a glance – for as the weeks slipped by he grew more and more depressed. He still refused to tell Richie and Neville about Albus, so they would have nothing to do with him.
In classes he still did poorly. Despite the fact that he knew all the material he still kept messing up. In potions he was the worst, his potion almost always went horribly, horribly wrong. Several times it almost killed him. Despite this he still enjoyed potions. It was the only class he had with Phineas. They two of them had a good time together, despite Harry's feelings the rest of the time, he could still manage a smile for this poor boy. Harry still felt the age gap with Phineas that he felt with the other first years, but like with Richie, it wasn't as bad. He was very intelligent and rather mature for his age.
Unfortunately, the good times with Phineas did nothing to stop his growing depression. Despite the fact that he was at Hogwarts it felt like that horrible summer when he'd been stuck at the Dursleys.
Even the weather seemed to affect his mood. About halfway through September the clouds rolled in and refused to move. It rained more often than not and once, in early October, it got so cold that it snowed.
Not even the excitement in the castle as Halloween and the first Quidditch match between Gryffindor and Ravenclaw grew closer could make Harry feel better.
In fact, if he hadn't felt determined to figure out what was wrong with Albus and get Neville back to the right time he might've just given up.
Using his growing friendship with Phineas, Harry was able to keep tabs on Albus. Apparently he'd quickly become best friends with Thompson. Even though Thompson was the acknowledged leader, Phineas was sure that he didn't do anything without Albus's permission. It was also because of Albus that Phineas was allowed to still be around them, though Phineas didn't know why.
It reminded Harry a little of Fudge and Dumbledore, just give Fudge more of a spine.
Oh, and a brain.
Part of Harry couldn't help but blame Fudge for his predicament right now. If he'd just believed him about Voldemort…
Images of shoving Fudge's bowler-cap clad head at Voldemort's nose-less face flitted through Harry's mind as he munched on his bacon early on Halloween morning.
As he moved on to his toast he heard the normal flap of wings as the morning post arrived, but he didn't bother to look up.
So it came as a complete surprise to him when a sturdy looking barn owl landed in front of him and stuck his leg out.
Harry's eyes grew wide and he saw that his hand was shaking as he reached out and untied the letter.
The owl grabbed a piece of bacon off of Preston's nearby plate and then flew off into the air.
Harry slowly turned the letter over and gasped.
There, written in a familiar tight handwriting were the words:
To: Harry Potter
From: Hermione Granger
Author’s Note: There you go, it’s been a week. Next one should be a week also, maybe a little longer, I have some vacation time coming up and plan to travel a little, so we’ll see. I promise it won’t be nine months though!
Chapter 9: A Step to the Side
Albus, as he experiences his first week at Hogwarts.
Albus was finding Hogwarts to be a glorious experience. He could tell, after just a day, that the people he was meeting in Slytherin were the sort of people that would help him achieve his goal.
His fellow first-year Slytherins all had lots of potential. Albus knew that they would go far if they learned how to use this potential, and he was sure that with his help, they would figure it out.
Albus knew that he wasn't precisely a leader; rather, he was an academic, best suited as a mentor. Maybe, one day he'd be able to lead others without effort, but he had yet to learn how. The thought of standing in front of a group of people and telling them what to do sent a shiver of fear down his spine, and Albus did not like to feel afraid. That was why he'd attached himself to Robert Thompson. The boy was a born leader and very intelligent, but he also lacked the creative spark necessary to keep people following you as you gain new followers.
This was first noticed by Albus on the third day of school.
"I can't believe it," Robert groaned as he slumped into an empty chair near Albus in the Slytherin common room.
Albus looked up from his Transfiguration essay, "What can't you believe?"
"Phineas Black. I heard from Gerald, who heard it from Brittany, who heard it from Alyssa that Sirius was hexing Phineas in the common room this morning. According to Alyssa, Phineas is out of favor with not only his brother, but also his aunt and father."
Albus carefully raised one eyebrow, as he had seen his father do, "So?"
Robert rolled his eyes again, "Don't you understand Albus? I can't have someone Headmaster Black doesn't like hanging around us! Just think how that would make us look!"
Albus put his quill down on the table and tried to think of the right words to say. He'd have to do this delicately. While it might be a bad idea to keep Phineas in their inner circle, it couldn't be a good idea to chase him away during the first week of their first week at Hogwarts.
"Robert, have you given a thought to the future?"
"What? The future? What does that have to do with Phineas?"
"Well, think, family dynamics are constantly changing. Phineas may be out of favor now, but that may change in the future. If it changes and we've shunned him, then he won't forget, or forgive. Blacks never forget anything, especially when they've been wronged."
Robert grew quiet at that.
After a minute Albus went back to his essay – he wanted to finish it before they went up to Astronomy.
After maybe twenty or so minutes Robert finally spoke again, "Alright, he can join us, but he won't be part of us. We won't go out of our way to include him or shun him. Think that's safe?"
Albus slowly nodded, "Sounds safe to me."
"Good. Now, can you help me with this Charms question? I really have no clue what Professor Weasley was talking about."
He started pulling papers and books out of his schoolbag while Albus resisted the urge to sigh in annoyance.
He really just wanted to finish this essay.
Albus realized something after the first week of school.
Harry Potter was an atrocious student.
So, it was with great happiness that he sat down on his first Friday afternoon to write a letter to his family.
Dear Mother and Father,
I hope you are doing well. Hogwarts is rather splendid, from the top of its towers to the deepest dungeons. I don't know if you've heard, but I was sorted into Slytherin. I know everyone else in our family has been in Gryffindor or Ravenclaw, but I must say that I like it here. I've made some good friends and with my ambitions I know that this house will be a good fit. I hope you're proud of me.
I'm not sure if you've heard from Harry, but he doesn't seem to be doing as well. I only have two classes with him, Potions and Astronomy, since he's in Gryffindor and they did not go well at all. In Potions today he managed to destroy the classroom and almost kill us in the process. In Astronomy he almost fell of the tower and died. I'm not sure what's wrong; I haven't been able to talk to him.
I hope Ariana and Aberforth are doing well. I can't wait until they're old enough to come to Hogwarts. I want to show them everything!
He grinned down at his letter. He didn't think it carried any of his anger at Harry or his delight that Harry wasn't doing well. It also didn't give away that he knew that Harry shouldn't be doing so badly, after all, he was really sixteen.
Though, come to think of it…Albus frowned. Why was Harry doing so badly? Sure, he hadn't expected him to be stupid enough to show how easy he found the material, but he still shouldn't be the worst in the class.
Really, Harry should've been up at the top, challenging Albus, Richie, Neville, and that Gamp girl in Ravenclaw for the top few slots.
Now that Albus had realized this problem he couldn't stop his brain from trying to solve it. Why was Harry doing so poorly?
This problem tumbled through Albus' mind as he sealed his letter and headed up to the Owlry to find his owl, Myrddin.
As he approached the stairs to the Owlry he heard a cheerful voice whistling as it descended. Due to the narrowness of the staircase Albus moved off to the side and waited to go up.
He was glad he did.
Coming down the staircase was none other than Harry Potter.
Albus hurriedly backed up and flattened himself against the wall. He didn't feel liked dealing with Harry, especially when he was in such a good mood. That's when it was worst. Harry didn't seem to realize that he was slowly destroying Albus' life.
Harry walked by, continuing to whistle, and completely oblivious to Albus. Once Harry rounded a corner and disappeared out of sight Albus breathed a sigh of relief.
As he sent off his letter with Myrddin he couldn't help but wonder - who was Harry sending a letter to? And why had it made him so happy?
Albus loved information, he'd heard his father say several times that knowledge was power, and he firmly believed this to be true. After all, what separated a great wizard from a mediocre one? It wasn't their bloodline or power, though that did help, no, what truly made one great was knowledge.
It was for this reason that Albus made sure to be waiting outside of Professor Rosier's office on Saturday afternoon. His heart was beating hard inside of his chest as he waited in the shadows. He'd had to run here from the lake since it had taken awhile to ditch Robert and the others without gaining suspicion and he'd been worried that he'd be late.
What he was planning to do probably wasn't his smartest idea, but Albus knew that he had to learn why Harry had been so happy after sending that letter, and also, who he had sent the letter to.
The door to the potion master's office opened and Albus pushed himself deeper into the shadows. Harry emerged and, despite the exhaustion on his features, he still looked extremely happy – too happy that had just served detention for almost killing everyone.
Albus' eyes narrowed as he watched Harry walk off. What was he so happy about?
As he followed Harry through the corridors he couldn't help but wish that he knew more magic – there had to be a better way to spy on someone.
Albus was just peeking around a corner after Harry when he heard someone shout, "Expelliarmus!"
A moment later he pressed himself flat against the wall as Harry and another boy raced by. Albus frowned, it looked like the other boy was Phineas Black…
He didn't have time to think about it because as he stood there watching Harry and Phineas run off someone grabbed him by his collar and threw him up against a wall. His head swung back hard and hit the wall, immediately the edges of his vision turned fuzzy and black as he blinked blearily down at the boy holding him.
"Sirius! I got him!"
Another boy, as well as a girl, appeared in Albus' vision as it continued to grow darker. He thought the boy holding him was Blysin Rouge, a fifth year. If that was true, then the other boy had to be Sirius Black, and the girl was Rosalee Selwyn. The three of them went everywhere together.
Dimly Albus saw Black punch the back of Rouge's head, "You imbecile! This brat's hair is the wrong color! Put him down!"
Rouge immediately complied, and Albus dropped to the ground, his head hitting a protruding stone in the wall as he went.
His last thought before darkness overtook him was, "Harry Potter, now you're REALLY going to pay."
Albus was having a wonderful time. He was in his parents' garden with Ariana and Aberforth. The three of them were racing around, chasing the garden gnomes that had recently moved in.
Naturally, Albus was the first one to catch one. He let out a whoop of joy and swung the creature over his head, as fast as he could. Then he opened his hand and let it fly.
Then a funny thing happened. There was the sound of shattering and someone shouting.
Albus frowned, and as he did so the garden disappeared. Instead he was looking at the inside of his eyelids. And that made him frown even harder.
Why was he looking at his eyelids? The last thing he remembered he'd been…
Albus shot up, his eyes flying open as he looked around him. He was in the hospital wing, next to his bed was Madam Abbott. She was cleaning up something on the floor. Looking down, Albus could see a pillow, water, and some broken glass.
"I'm glad you're awake!"
Albus turned from the mess to the other side of his bed, where a small, pock-marked boy sat with a broad grin on your face.
"You were barely breathing when I found you and your head was the wrong shape, too. Luckily Professor Malfoy was walking by. He brought you up here and Madam Abbott fixed you up ."
Albus started at the boy, "Uh, who are you?"
"Oh! I'm Elphias Doge! I'm in Hufflepuff, we have History of Magic together. You're Albus Dumbledore, aren't you?"
Albus was saved from replying by Madam Abbott.
"Well, I'm glad yeh woke up! Yeh took a nasty blow ta the head. I've ne'er seen a head tha' badly squished at Hogwarts before. Now, no more throwin' yer pillow 'round, yeh hear?"
"Good, now, let me look at tha' head of yers."
As she studied his head he studied Doge. His first thought was that he'd have to thank this boy for saving him. His second was him wondering if this boy would be of use in his quest to make everything the way it was.
"All righ', yer good to go. Supper was served long ago, but there are sandwiches on the table. Eat up, then get ta bed. It's late."
With these words she walked off. Albus watched her go until he found a plate full of sandwiches stuffed into his face.
Albus looked over at Doge for a moment before grabbing a couple sandwiches. Now that there was food in front of him, he was famished.
After a couple minutes of stuffing their faces Albus asked, "Why'd you stay?"
Doge shrugged, "Nowhere else to go. Anyways, I was worried about you. You were barely breathing when I found you."
"Well, thank you. I'm glad you found me."
Doge gave a toothy grin, "So am I."
For one wondrous instant, all of Albus' plans for the future and revenge against Harry disappeared and he grinned right back at Doge.
Okay, it's been a crazy week. Right now it is 7pm on Friday night here in Korea and I'm meeting friends in two hours to go out. My vacation also started today and goes until next Tuesday. Due to this and the fact that even when I'm not on vacation MY will be, I will probably have little writing time. Oh, and next Saturday is my birthday and we have plans...so...
The next update will probably not be for two weeks. Maybe a week and a half if I can do some writing once MY heads back to Seoul on Aug 5th. We shall see. But, don't worry, you will get an update and the next one will actually tell you what's in the letter from Hermione.
Now, I hope you enjoy, this chapter was super hard to write, probably because my mind is already on the next awesome few days...
Chapter 10: A Letter and a Quarrel
In which Neville finds his spine a few years earlier than expected.
Neville had not been enjoying his time at Hogwarts. He'd somehow thought that things would be better when he got here. After all, Hogwarts was special. Anything could happen at Hogwarts. Once they got to Hogwarts they'd be able to find Hermione and find a way back to 1996.
It hadn't happened.
Instead Harry had gotten really, really weird.
And Neville didn't know why.
Things had been fine during the Sorting. The Sorting Hat hadn't let anyone know that they weren't from this time period. Yet that had been when Harry started acting oddly.
Neville frowned down at the dirt-filled pot in front of him.
What had happened at the Sorting to change Harry so much?
The only thing that had surprised Neville had been Dumbledore being put in Slytherin. He'd always assumed that he was a Gryffindor. But, after a few moments of thinking he no longer found it that surprising. After all, Dumbledore had always seemed like a very ambitious person, even if his number one ambition was to run Hogwarts and keep its students safe, while being the only person You Know Who was afraid of.
"Hey! Neville! Yeh usin' that shovel?"
Neville jerked out of his thoughts and stared across the table at Preston Turnipseed who was messily putting seeds in a pot. It looked like there was more dirt on the table then there was in the pot.
"Uh, no, I'm not. Here you go, Turnipseed," Neville handed the small shovel over.
Neville began to pick up the small Stink Lily seeds and slip them into his pot. He didn't know why Professor Beery wanted them to grow these things. From what he'd seen of the example they didn't have much to recommend them, in fact, there was no known use for the Stink Lily.
Still, the act of putting the smelly little seeds into the rich dirt brought a smile to Neville's face and made his worries about Harry seem more manageable.
He'd seen Harry in a mood before. Hadn't he been in a mood all of last year? He always came out of it when he was needed to play the hero. All Neville had to do was make sure he was around to help Harry came out of his mood.
That is, if Harry wanted him. It wasn't like he was good at anything that didn't involve dirt.
"Here yeh go!"
"Huh?" Neville looked up in confusion at the shovel in front of his face.
"Don' yeh wan' yer shovel?"
"Oh, yeah, sure," Neville grabbed the shovel and turned back to his pot.
"Hey, Neville, why yeh look like yer best friend just died?"
Neville's head whipped up and he stared at Turnipseed in shock. What did he mean, his best friend died? Harry wasn't his best friend. Harry was Ron and Hermione's best friend!
Though…wasn't Neville at least Harry's friend? Even if he was a worthless wizard, only good for playing in the dirt?
But... then why wouldn't Harry talk to him? Why was he doing his best to avoid Neville, leaving him with Richie, a boy five years younger?
They were two schoolmates and friends, lost in a time not their own, and yet Harry would have nothing to do with Neville.
Anger hit Neville and his body tightened up. The small seed in his hand flew across the room and hit Misletie Chevalier on the nose, making her squeak and yell out something in French.
Why didn't Harry want to talk to him?
Why wouldn't he tell him what was wrong?
Sure, he was useless, everyone said so, but that didn't mean he was completely useless.
If nothing else Neville could look out for Harry in class and stop him from almost killing himself, and others, with his careless mistakes.
That's what friends did, right?
And they were friends, weren't they?
Hadn't they just spent the last year training together, sneaking under Umbridge's nose and having adventures together?
Yes, all of it was true.
So why was Neville being treated like a distant acquaintance? Did Harry see him as no better than Richie? A boy who knew nothing of war and pain?
Not that Richie was a bad sort; he was just young and inexperienced. He may've lost his mother to an experimental potion gone wrong, but he still had his father.
Unlike Harry and Neville.
Really, why wasn't Harry treating Neville better? They were two peas in a pod. Orphans (or a virtual orphan in Neville's case), lost in time, and just wanting to go back home.
Neville looked across the greenhouse at Harry, who was distracted putting seeds in his pot next to some pockmarked Hufflepuff.
Yes, tonight he would confront Harry and not let him get away until he explained himself.
And it was probably the least pleasant grin to ever grace his face, though Preston Turnipseed found it pleasant.
Unfortunately, Harry turned out be as slippery as one of Hagrid's blast-ended skrewts. Every time Neville came close to cornering him he disappeared down a secret passage, usually ones that Neville hadn't even known existed.
It made him wonder how Harry knew about them.
So, it was with an annoyed grunt that he plopped into a seat next to Richie, and at the opposite end of the table on Halloween morning.
He'd almost cornered Harry in their tower this morning, but then Cory Smith had come racing into the room babbling about the pumpkins, ghosts, and black cats that had taken over the Great Hall.
Neville was getting frustrated. He'd been trying to corner Harry for a week now and had gotten no closer to finding him then he'd gotten to finding Hermione.
Though at least they were having some luck there. Richie had gotten a letter yesterday letting them know that they'd heard about some strange bushy-haired girl on the continent trying to pass off fake transfigured coin as real. But that news had been stone cold by the time Marcus Potter had gotten there.
But at least they knew she was in this time period.
Neville's thoughts were interrupted by the morning mail.
Owls of all shapes and sizes dived towards students as they delivered their letters and packages of Halloween candy.
Neville didn't expect anything and so wasn't surprised when he received nothing. What he was surprised about though, was the big barn owl that landed in front of Harry.
Neville watched as Harry slowly reached out and took the letter as fear made his hands shake. The owl grabbed something off of a plate and then flew off, but Neville barely noticed, his eyes were glued on Harry.
Carefully Harry turned the letter over and then gasped.
A second later he was on his feet and racing out of the Great Hall, dodging the black cats lying everywhere.
Neville was right behind him.
That was the most emotion he'd seen on Harry's face since he had screamed at him in the library two months before.
Harry raced up the stairs and down a corridor or two before stopping at the doorway to an empty classroom.
He turned around to look both behind him and Neville ducked behind a suit of armor until he heard a door open and shut.
Peering carefully around the armor he crept down the hallway until he reached the door Harry had disappeared through.
As silently as he could he pushed the door open.
Inside he found Harry pacing in front of an open window reading the letter and frowning.
Curiosity raced through Neville about the contents of the letter, but he stamped it down. He'd find out what was in the letter after he made sure Harry understood that the time for being in a mood was over.
Harry gave a jump; dropping the letter as his wand flew to his hand.
Neville stared at the wand pointed right at his heart and frowned.
"Are you really going to attack me?"
Harry looked at his wand in surprise before stuffing it back up his sleeve. "No, I'm just jumpy. You should know better than to sneak up on me."
Originally Neville had planned to confront Harry as dramatically as he had yelled at them in the library. But now…well, now he had a different idea.
"So, who's the letter from?" Neville asked as he walked toward Harry.
Harry shrugged casually.
Too casually, Neville thought.
"It doesn't matter."
Harry's eyes narrowed, "Yes, really. You know I'd tell you if it was something important."
Neville scoffed, "No you wouldn't. You never tell me anything."
"Yes I do! I told you about Sirius! You came to the Ministry of Magic with me."
"Only because you couldn't get rid of me. Admit it Harry, you don't tell me anything. You think you're the big hero so you never ask anyone for help." Neville paused and stared at Harry for a moment before continuing. "Actually, you do sometimes ask people for help. People like Hermione and Ron. You'd never think to ask me, the uselessly plump boy that can barely pass his classes."
Harry gaped at him and Neville wasn't sure if it was from his words or the cold anger in his voice. Neville rarely got angry, he didn't see much point in it, but when he did… Well, let's just say that he well-deserved to be related to his grandmother.
Though, his angry was a lot quieter and longer lasting than that of his grandmother's.
"No! I don't think that you're useless! Why, after Hermione you were the best in the DA! I just didn't want you to come with because this is my battle! I can't ask others to help me solve problems!"
Neville's fists clenched and he closed the remaining distance between Harry and himself.
Their noses were almost touching when Neville whispered, "Liar."
Before Harry's eyes had been upset and surprised, but now they flared with anger.
"WHAT? I don't tell lies!" He pushed Neville away from him.
Neither of them saw the letter get kicked a few feet away as Neville stumbled backwards.
"Of course you do! Everyone lies! It's just that you lie to yourself!"
"No. I. Don't."
"Yes, you do! You can't admit, even to yourself, that you can't do everything alone! That's why you spent the last two months ignoring me! Me! The person that traveled through time with you! The only one that knows what it's like to lose everything to You Know Who!"
"I haven't been ignoring you! I've been avoiding you!"
Neville balled his hands into fists and stomped towards Harry, until they were nose to nose. "What's the difference? All I know is that you, one of the only friends I have, can't seem to trust me. Even after everything!"
Harry's eyes narrowed, "You think I don't trust you? Fine! I'll prove that I do! I'll tell you what the letter is about! It's from Hermione. I wrote her two months ago and just now got a response."
Neville's jaw dropped, "Hermione? So, is she alright? What did she say?"
"I don't know," Harry growled. "You interrupted me before I could read more than a few sentences."
"Come on! Let's read it! Where is it?" Neville stepped back and began looking around for the letter.
Harry frowned and looked at the floor by the window. "I could've sworn it fell right here…"
Hurriedly the boys began looking around for the letter, but it was nowhere to be found. By the time they'd torn the room apart they were both sweating and terrified.
"Where could it be? No one was in here but us," Harry said as the two of them stared glumly at the floor by the window an hour later.
"What did the little you read say?"
"She apologized for not writing before. Then she said something about being put into a new government program for squibs. The last sentence I read mentioned someone named Janice Selwyn."
Neville closed his eyes, trying to stop the headache that was threatening to come. He always got headaches when he lost his temper, which he always forgot since it happened so rarely. "Janice Selwyn? Hmm, Selwyn is a pureblood family. Maybe if we write Mr. Dumbledore we'll find out what this government program is."
"I guess that's all we can do. I wonder where that letter went."
"I don't know, I just hope no one found it."
The two of them stood up and headed for the door. As they were about to leave Harry caught Neville's arm. The two boys stared at each other for a moment, brown eyes meeting green ones.
Harry cleared his throat, "Look, Neville. I know we're in this together, it's just..." he looked down at the floor, "I made a mistake, a big one, I don't know if it can be fixed. And, well, maybe I'll tell you what it is later, but I shouldn't have avoided you. I should have told you about my letter to Hermione."
Harry raised his head again so that their eyes met.
"Is this an apology?" Neville asked.
Harry nodded, "Yes, I've been an idiot these last two months. Probably more of one then I was last year."
Neville nodded firmly, "Okay, apology accepted. Now, let's go get a letter to Mr. Dumbledore. Then we'll join the other boys at the lake and pretend nothing strange happened. Alright?"
Harry smiled, "Sounds good."
In a dusty broom closet Albus sat behind some rusty buckets. Light from his wand illuminated the letter in his hands as he read.
When he finished the letter a small smile slid across his face. Yes, this letter answered a lot of questions. Now he just had to figure out how to use this new knowledge to achieve his goal.
After all, knowledge is where true power lies.
I apologize. This chapter is two months late. August was super crazy at work and a friend of mine's girlfriend was visiting Korea, so we were always doing stuff. Then I started job hunting for next year. And after the job hunt finished I got sick. Now I leave in three days to fly back to the States to visit my family. So you probably won't get a post until the end of October, once I get settled in at my new job and apartment. After that it will likely be every two weeks or so for a chapter if I can keep it up.
The plot will accelerate after this chapter, and so will time. I hope you enjoyed Neville knocking some sense into Harry, he really needed it, didn't he?
Chapter 11: Selwyn's Squib Training Center
Hermione dropped her load of dirty laundry in the hot, soapy water and stopped to catch her breath as she rubbed her aching lower back. She was so tired. She could barely stand.
"Stop lazing about, girl! Go get another load!" A cruel voice called out.
Hermione hurriedly moved away from the hot tub glaring at the heavily muscled matron, Madame Shaker, who had given the order. As she crossed the large, hot room, it was all she could do not to drop to the floor. Only fear of another whipping, like the one she'd gotten for the letter a month ago, kept her on her feet.
As soon as she stepped outside the bitter cold slapped her in the face making her catch her breath and break out into a harsh cough that left her bent double, barely breathing.
"That sounds quite nasty. Has it been looked at?"
When she regained her breath she looked up through her matted and tangled hair to see who had spoken. As soon as she saw him she lost her breath once again.
"Harry?" she gasped.
He shook his head, "No, but I know him. In fact, we're related. You must be Hermione then?"
She nodded up at him mutely. The resemblance between Harry and this man was uncanny.
"Well, I'm glad I found you. You wouldn't believe how hard it was to get Selwyn to let me see her little program here. Took some talented lies combined with my bloodline and position as an Auror. And even then she won't let me out of her sight." He glanced over at sharply dressed witch talking with the man that drove the dirty laundry wagon.
As if she knew she was being talked about, Janice Selwyn glanced over at them. The sharp-faced woman frowned and said something to the driver before striding towards them.
"Girl, are you bothering Auror Potter? He's a very important man with no time for squib girls."
Hermione looked down at her feet and shook her head. She hated acting subservient to this woman. But what else was she supposed to do? Her wand was hidden in her mattress upstairs. Also, if she left now she wouldn't be able to help the other children. What would they do without her? Who would cast warmth charms on their blankets? Or keep the infections away from their wounds?
No one, that's who.
"Oh, don't worry about it Mrs. Selwyn. I was just going to ask her if she knew anything about John Pierce." Auror Potter turned back to Hermione. "Now, girl, do you know anything about John Pierce?"
Hermione shook her head, "No, sir."
He gave her a quick pat on the head. "Ah, well, maybe one of the others will know. You can return to work."
"Yes, sir," she said with a quick bob of her head before hurrying over to the laundry cart. The whole way across the courtyard she could feel Selwyn's eyes boring into the back of her head.
Hours later Hermione lay in the dark on her lumpy bed and watched the other children slip into nightgowns and slide under their thin blankets, shivering the whole time.
There was a little Samuel Blishwick, freely given to Selwyn after he failed to get a Hogwarts letter. As a parting gift his father had blinded him – courtesy of the family ring and a backhanded slap. The poor boy only spoke in his nightmares.
Across the room was Kathleen MacMillan. Her parents died when she was a baby and she was raised by her grandparents. When she got no letter they decided to beat her, hoping she'd burst out with magic. Instead, she'd nearly died. After she'd recovered enough from the beating she ran away. She'd walked and hitchhiked all the way from Aberdeen, Scotland to London in search of her uncle. Unfortunately, when she showed up at the Ministry Selwyn found her first.
Kathleen had been here for two years already and her back was nothing but a mass of scar tissue. Not a month went by that she didn't escape, only to be brought back and whipped until she couldn't stand.
Every other child in the room had a tale nearly as tragic. As the importance of blood grew, the treatment of non-pure or non-magical children fell by the wayside.
When Selwyn had found Hermione in the Leaky Cauldron she'd planned to escape into the wilderness as soon as she found the chance. Once she'd seen these children though, she'd decided to stay.
They needed her.
And to hell with not changing the past.
Harry and Neville had already changed a lot, at least according to Harry's letter. What would one more change do? Especially if it helped these innocent children?
Once the room was quiet Hermione slipped her hand into the mattress and pulled out her wand. She gave it a few waves under the blanket. Her charms were simple, but they made such a difference. The thin blankets were now as effective as any blanket found at Hogwarts.
No one would freeze to death tonight. Not like they used to.
Smiling, Hermione slipped her wand back into her suitcase and flipped onto her back.
Then she froze.
A weird rustling noise had just come from her hair.
Cautiously she reached up and ran her hand through her filthy, tangled hair. There, hidden under one of the worst tangles was a piece of paper.
Hermione slipped out of bed and went over to the moonlit window to read it.
We're getting you out of there. We really don't care what you do, but you need to create a disturbance – something big that will give the magical law enforcement cause to enter. Maybe some magic? No one knows exactly what goes on at Selwyn's Squib Training Centers. But Marcus Potter (the man you met today), is sure it's not good and that the majority of the magical community would not approve. Please create the disturbance soon. We really need to talk.
Hermione nibbled on her bottom lip. A disturbance? A magical disturbance? She couldn't do anything that might injure the children. Also, she couldn't use her wand. That would create all sorts of questions.
What if she didn't use a wand?
She'd read some about wandless magic before, and the key was focus. After all, that's what a wand did – create focus. Just like spell words. Accomplished wizards could do silent spells. Extraordinary wizards could do wandless magic – as long as it wasn't anything delicate.
It would take her some time, but that was okay.
Hermione was frustrated. She'd been practicing wandless magic for three weeks now and all she'd managed to do was make her pillow float a few inches off of her bed.
She gave the big pot of laundry in front of her a strong stir, splashing boiling water everywhere.
A heavy arm came out of nowhere and hit her on the side of the head, throwing her small body several feet across the room.
"You clumsy bitch! How DARE you burn me!"
Hermione tried to focus her eyes as she felt Madame Shaker grab the front of her dress and pull her off the ground.
"Gareth! Get the cane! This little brat needs a lesson!"
She screamed, "NO!" and began kicking and punching Madame Shaker, trying to get free.
All that got her was another slap on her ear.
When the world stopped moving a minute or so later she was tied to the post in the middle of the room.
Then the cane came down on her back and she screamed. Several blows later she heard Gareth say, "Melissa, I think teh gurl gots enough."
"Shut your flytrap, Gareth. I'm in charge here and you know I don't accept disobedience."
Through a haze of pain Hermione saw one of the children move out of the crowd. It was little Samuel.
There was a gasp from the other children. Samuel only talked when he slept, and then his voice was full of terror and pain.
Now though, his voice was strong and firm.
"What. Did. You. Say?" Madame Shaker's voice was suddenly very hard and cold.
"I said stop."
"Why?" Her voice was suddenly very dangerous.
Hermione wished she could see Samuel's face.
Madame Shaker let out a bark of laughter, "The only one that's going to die here today is you. Gareth, tie him up!"
While Samuel was tied up Hermione was given another few hits. After the second one she passed out from the pain.
When she came to again she saw Samuel's crying, pain filled face across from her. He let out a scream as the cane landed on him again.
Hermione lost it.
Power flowed through her veins as her entire being focused on one thing: ending Samuel's pain. Pain he was enduring because of her.
The ropes holding her hands turned to ash in a second. She stood up, too focused to sway as pain swept over her body. Blood rushed in her ears as the explosions began.
She'd never felt such power before, and she didn't think she'd ever feel it again.
Smoke and steam filled the air as she tore the laundry down.
Hermione was never quite sure what she did that day, but when it was all over the laundry was a pile of ash, the children were all safely in the center of the courtyard, Madame Shaker and Gareth were tied up like trussed pigs, and her wand was safely in her pocket.
Then the cavalry came.
So many wizards arrived that the place was a sea of robes, every single one bearing a badge from the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.
Hermione felt herself start to collapse, but found herself caught by someone. She looked over to see Kathleen. There was a look of awe and wonder on the girl's face.
Kathleen helped Hermione over to the other children, who were being asked questions by the Department Head. Before Hermione could reach them she felt someone grab her shoulder and swing her around.
Hermione screamed in pain as cruel fingers dug into her damaged skin. Her scream was cut short by a sharp slap to her face.
"You little brat! You did this! You destroyed all of my good work! Just wait until I get it back running again! You'll never see daylight again!"
Hermione cradled her stinging cheek as Janice Selwyn screeched at her.
"I'm sorry Mrs. Selwyn, but I'm going to have to ask you to unhand that child."
Auror Potter had arrived.
"This child is under my control! I can do with her as I see fit."
"No, you can't."
"Auror Potter is correct," the Department Head had joined them.
"MacMillan, surely you know the law. The Ministry gave the care of all squibs abandoned by their families to do with as I see fit. This girl was cast aside by her family. I took her in and cared for her."
"Actually, the Ministry gave you the care of abandoned squibs so you could prepare them for life in the Muggle world, which doesn't seem to be what you were doing. But," he held up his hand to stop her from speaking, "we'll deal with that during the investigation and following hearing. As for this girl, she's not a squib. She caused all of this destruction with magic."
"NO! She couldn't have!"
"Oh, but she did. Now, Auror Potter, would you escort Miss…"
Hermione focused her swirling vision on MacMillan and opened her mouth to give her name. That proved to be a mistake. A wave of dizziness and pain swam through her just before she lost every bit of gruel she'd eaten for breakfast.
Once her stomach was empty she closed her eyes and held tightly onto the strong arm of Auror Potter. She didn't dare talk, not when she could barely hear or speak.
Dimly she heard Kathleen say, "Her name is Hermione Granger."
"Ah, thank you…" MacMillan's voice trailed off. "Kathleen, is that you? What are… No! Mother and Father…they LIED to me?! I thought…"
Hermione cracked her eyes open just enough to see MacMillan sweep Kathleen into a hug.
When he let go of Kathleen he cast such a murderous look at Selwyn that Hermione shivered.
"You said she wasn't here…"
Selwyn gulped and then apparated.
MacMillian's shout was so loud that Hermione gasped in pain, clutched her head, and let the blackness wash over her.
Chapter 12: A Taste of Chili Pepper
In which not much happens to our heroes, but lots is discovered, and also talked over.
When Hermione awoke she was confused. She couldn't see a thing. All she knew for certain was that she was lying on her stomach on something that felt suspiciously like a cloud. Quite different from the thin, lumpy mattress she'd spent the last few months on.
Cautiously she raised her hands to touch her face, wincing as the movement made her back burn. What she found on her face scared her.
There were bandages, so many bandages. They covered her eyes and wrapped all the way around her head.
"Hey! Harry! She's awake!" a rather familiar voice whispered.
Hermione opened her mouth and tried to say, "Neville?" but all that came out was a raspy croak.
"Neville, hand me some water," an oddly familiar, but very comforting voice said.
Arms lifted her carefully and Hermione felt a cool glass pressed to her lips. A second later the most delicious water she'd ever tasted slipped past her parched lips and down her throat.
When the water disappeared she whispered, "More, please."
Soon more delicious water was slipping down her throat. When he was all gone she let out a sigh of satisfaction as she was lowered back to the bed.
"How are you feeling?" Harry asked.
"Like someone ran me over," she said, thinking of her burning back and her now pounding head, "and then left me with a blast-ended skrewt.
The boys chuckled.
"Well, you were pretty beat up when Marcus brought you here. The Healers weren't sure you'd make it," Harry answered.
"It was all we could do to stay at Hogwarts until term ended once we got the news. Only reason we didn't leave early was the lack of transportation between Hogwarts and St. Mungos without an adult wizard's help." Hermione could hear the apology in Neville's voice.
"What was wrong with me?"
The same person that had given her water replied. "Fractured skull, internal bleeding, and nerve damage around your eyes. That was just your head. As for your back, the skin was so frayed that bone was showing. This wasn't helped by all the magic you used to destroy the building. I think the fact that you controlled it so well is what made you so exhausted. You almost didn't have enough strength to accept our healing spells."
"Yes, luckily Mr. Dumbledore isn't the small-time Healer he claimed to be."
The comforting voice, which Hermione assumed belonged to Mr. Dumbledore, replied with a mild chuckle, "I am a small-time Healer. It's just that I focus on internal magical injuries – usually caused by exhaustion or over-exertion."
Hermione touched the bandages over her eyes again as she thought of the nerve damage he mentioned. "Are…are my eyes going to be okay? Can I see?"
"Yes, everything should be fully repaired. Now that you're awake we're going to slowly thin the bandage over your eyes. You've been in a magically-induced healing coma for about a week now so it could damage your eyes if we take off the bandage too quickly. You should be able to leave here on Christmas Eve."
Hermione felt one side of the mattress dip as someone sat down and took her hand.
"Hermione, I'm so glad you're alright! When I heard of the actual disturbance you caused…" Harry trailed off, but the guilt was evident in voice.
"Harry, it wasn't your fault. I…I lost my temper. Anyways, it's my own fault that I was there. I had my wand; I could've left at any time. It's just, well, I couldn't leave those children."
"Yes, but it's my fault it took so long to find you. If I'd only thought to send you an owl earlier… If I hadn't lost your letter… If I hadn't gone to Hogwarts… Well, you would've been found sooner. Also, if I hadn't gone to Hogwarts I wouldn't have screwed up things so badly."
"Well if I'd just approached you at the Hogwarts' Express instead of skulking in the shadows then none of this would've happened."
"And if I hadn't hit the time-turners with my spell we'd all be safely in our own time. Now, are you two done having a guilt party?" Neville asked briskly.
Hermione was shocked, "Neville? Is that really you?"
Neville groaned, "Yes, it's me. Now are you two done accepting guilt so we can have a real conversation?
"Just, first, can you tell me what happened to the children?" Hermione asked.
"Most of them were returned to their families. It turns out that most parents believed that their children were being trained in muggle professions. They were even paying for it!" Mr. Dumbledore's voice was full of shock at that fact.
Hermione frowned under her bandages, "But none of the children I was with were there willingly."
"That's because yours was a special one for unwanted children. The other ones used different punishments, always careful to leave no evidence. Also, there were no deaths at the other ones. The children even got to write letters home, they were just heavily censored."
"How about the children at mine?"
"Most of them have been fostered with upstanding ministry employees. Marcus Potter, my good friend, has agreed to foster you."
"How about Kathleen?"
"Kathleen MacMillan. The girl I was leaning on when Selwyn grabbed me. I know she had family still that might want her."
"Oh, Marcus told me that she was reunited with her uncle, the Head of Magical Law Enforcement. He was NOT pleased about her condition. Turns out he's spent the last two years looking for her. He even requested Selwyn's papers to see if Kathleen was listed. She wasn't there at all. I really don't think Selwyn's going to do too well at her trial."
"So MacMillan was able to catch her?"
"Yes, she was caught trying to break into Hogwarts to collect her daughter and flee the country."
"Really? Why did she have the laundrys anyway?"
"We're not sure. Maybe it will come out in the trial. Though there is the theory that she thought only hard labor would prepare squibs for the muggle life. Frankly I think that idea is too sane for Selwyn."
"Thank you, Mr. Dumbledore. Has anything been found that could help us get back to the right time?"
"Possibly," Neville said, "my ancestor, Donald, studies rocks. He's been working with the sand Harry and I came back covered in to figure out how it works since time turners don't exist yet."
"I know they don't exist yet. They were invented by Cornelius Cornfoot in 1943. He was trying to find a way to go back and rescue his sister from Grindlewald's killing spree."
"Of course you know when it was invented." From the tone, Hermione assumed that Harry had rolled his eyes.
"As to what I was saying," Neville continued, "Donald thinks he's come close to a breakthrough. He told me he'll let us know as soon as he can. Apparently he wants to get rid of me as quickly as he can."
"Oh, no he doesn't. Donald is just a rather private person. Ever since his mother left him to turn into a rock he's hated all humans. Only reason he puts up with Marcus and me is because we were friends before the incident."
"Still doesn't make me want to be around him," Neville said rather snarkily.
Now Hermione was really confused. Who was this boy and what had he done with the real Neville?
"Um, well, as I was saying, we shouldn't be here messing up things. As Cornelius Cornfoot found out, time-turners aren't meant to change the past. In fact, if you do change the past you're likely to change the future, and it's never turned out well," Hermione continued.
"Why, has something happened before?"
"Cornelius did go back and save his sister, but in doing so he caused thousands more deaths. In fact, when his sister was alive Grindlewald was never defeated. The world fell under his spell until Voldemort rose up and usurped him. Cornelius was so distraught that he went back in time and made it so that time-turners could never go back more than twenty-four hours. Then he jumped back to right before his sister died, destroyed the time turner, and killed his past self. Time-turners were still invented, but they could only go back a short time and he left a detailed journal telling of the dangers of time travel."
"How in the world do you know all of this?" Neville asked in surprise.
"McGonagall told me to make sure I knew all of the dangers."
"Excuse me, but I need to talk to you three about something before I go check on a few patients," Mr. Dumbledore cut in.
"What is it?" Harry asked.
"Well, while I was helping heal Hermione I noticed something odd. Once I saw it with her I remembered noticing it when I helped heal Harry after he saved Arianna."
Worry seeped into Hermione. What was odd? Was it something dangerous?
"What was odd?" Harry asked.
"Your souls don't look right. They don't even feel right."
"They don't feel right?" Neville asked. The confusion in his voice quite evident.
"A soul is like a patronus. Everyone's is different. The best way to describe it is as a flavor. Some people's taste like cinnamon – others like honey. The thing is; it's always one basic flavor. It's different with you two though. Harry's was primarily mint, but there were also hints of cinnamon, apples, and chili peppers – while Hermione's was mostly apples, with a dash of cinnamon, mint, and chili peppers. Now, Neville, would you mind if I checked yours?"
"I suppose not…"
"Alright, just hold still, this will only take a minute…"
The room was silent for a moment and Hermione grew restless. She wished she could see what they were doing. Being blind was not fun. Anyways, what had Harry meant when he said he'd lost her letter? Had he lost it before or after he had opened it? If it was before then everything was fine, but if it was after–
Mr. Dumbledore's voice broke through her thoughts.
"Very interesting. Yours is mostly cinnamon with a bit of mint, apple, and chili pepper. That proves my theory. I believe that when the three of you traveled back in time you were 'damaged' in a way. Your bodies were returned to a previous time. I'm not sure why or how since that's not what I study. But, it might be because you ingested some of the sand. Even now you seem to be returning to your proper age."
"What do you mean by that?" Hermione asked.
"I'm not sure about you Ms. Granger, since I just met you, but Neville and Harry look older than they did a few months ago. I'm surprised no one else has noticed since they now look more like thirteen then eleven."
"Hey! He's right!" Neville exclaimed. "Harry, look! You're almost the same height as me, and I'm certainly thinner then I was when I got here. Why didn't we notice that before?"
"That's what I'm about to talk about, if you'll let me," Mr. Dumbledore said pointedly.
"Oh, sorry," Neville said in a rather familiar sheepish tone. Hermione smiled to hear a bit of the old Neville.
"Now, what I was about to say: When the sand changed your bodies it also changed your souls. Problem is: souls don't recover from magic as easily as bodies do. When the three of you were caught in that time sand tornado your souls got blended some. I believe this is because you went back past the day you were born, which caused your souls to become unstable and mix together. Then, when you emerged from the tornado your souls became stable again, but they were forever changed. If you've had any odd moments these past few months this could be due to the mixed souls, since souls take a long time to recover from being torn apart."
"Do you think this will this be fixed when we go forward in time again?" Hermione asked.
"I'm not sure, but I'm thinking not, since moving into a time when you're supposed to be alive should only make your souls more stable, not less so. I do wonder where the chili pepper came from. Was anyone else in the tornado with you?"
"There was a dead death eater," Hermione said.
"Are you sure there was no one else there?"
"No one," Harry said.
"I suppose that if he had recently died then his soul wouldn't have left his body yet. That's most likely why. Especially since all the magic being released from the broken time turners would've made it difficult for a soul to travel to wherever they go when they don't become ghosts."
"That's rather fascinating," Hermione said.
"Yes, it is. I'd like to talk some more on it later, but right now I need to go check on a couple other patients. Boys, I'll send someone for you when I'm ready to leave."
As soon as the door shut Hermione asked the question that had been pricking at the back of her mind since Harry had been apologizing.
"Harry, what did you mean when you said my letter was lost?"
"Just that. Neville and I got into an argument and when we stopped arguing the letter was gone."
Hermione rolled her eyes at this. "Really? You two were arguing? Did you open the letter before you lost it? If so then we're okay. I spelled it to be a random letter from an old friend if anyone but you opened it."
"Um…" Harry cleared his throat nervously. "I had already opened it when it disappeared."
"WHAT?!" Hermione exclaimed, pushing herself off the bed before falling back down hard, as her back burst into flames. Her face hit the mattress, hard, she felt like someone had just swung a hammer at her head. Gritting her teeth against the pain she growled, "Do you have any idea what was IN that letter?"
"No, Neville distracted me before I read more than the first sentence."
"Hey! It's not my fault that Harry was being a prick! He needed a good talking to!"
"Why didn't you just act like a wizard and summon it with your wand?"
Horrified silence filled the room.
"We..uh…" Neville started.
"Didn't really think about that…" Harry finished.
"You idiots!" Hermione had to resist the urge to fight through the pain enough to stand up just so she could bang their stupid heads together. Really, how could they have been so STUPID?
"Ugh, it's too late now. Someone has that letter. We need to figure out who and do damage control if we can. The things in that letter… I talked about Voldemort, Death Eaters, and being careful."
"Being careful about what?" Harry asked.
"The Dumbledores. If you affect Albus then the entire future might change. He defeated Grindlewald, one of the worst dark wizards. Without him…well, you heard what happened when Cornelius intervened. Even if he still goes on to defeat Grindlewald, does he discover the twelve uses for dragon's blood? What will the Order of the Phoenix be without him? He's probably the most important person of the entire 20th century. And you're camping out in his house, changing who knows what."
"Well…Albus is in Slytherin, and the Sorting Hat told me that he was going to put him in Gryffindor, but that Albus insisted on Slytherin."
"Oh, Harry….what have you done?!" Hermione cried.
"Well, do we even know what house Dumbledore was in?" Neville asked.
Hermione wracked her brain for a moment, thinking over everything she'd read about Albus. "Actually…no…no we don't."
"Think, the Albus we know in the future isn't very ambitious, at least as far as personal ambition goes, but maybe he was as a child. Maybe he's not ambitious in our time because he's already achieved everything he wanted. Aberforth says that Albus has always planned to be a great wizard. Maybe he sees Slytherin as the way to do it – especially with how important purebloods are right now."
"Maybe…we'll need to keep an eye on him until we can get back to the future."
"And what if the future is changed?" Harry asked.
"We'll have to figure that out if it happens," Hermione said softly.
The three of them sat in silence, lost in their own worries of the future, until there was a quiet knock on the door. A second later Hermione heard it open.
"Excuse me, Mr. Potter, Mr. Longbottom, I need to work on Ms. Granger's bandages. Also, Healer Dumbledore is waiting for you in the lobby."
"Thank you Healer Thatcher," Harry said. "Hermione, we'll be back to check on you tomorrow. We can talk more then. Feel better."
"Goodbye Hermione, feel better," Neville said.
"Bye Harry, bye Neville."
Once the boys were gone Healer Thatcher got to work on Hermione's bandages. It was all she could do not to cry out in pain as her new, raw skin, was rubbed with a foul smelling ointment.
As soon as she was back to the right time period she was going to study the history of healing and just why it took over a week to heal beaten, broken skin, when a hundred years later bones in an arm could be regrown overnight. Surely skin was much easier to heal then bones.
Focusing on her pain allowed her to push aside the growing feeling that something was now horribly, horribly wrong.
Alrighty! Here's the next one. Sorry it isn't as action packed as the last one. Some questions needed to be answered though before we move onto the next part of this story, now that our three heroes have been reunited. Hopefully it won't take me another year and a half to write this next part...I make no promises though. Especially because I've been working on some non-fanfiction writing in my free time now.
Chapter 13: Aiming for the Future
In which people aim for the future, in more ways than one.
Christmas dinner was long finished and Albus was curled up and hiding in the narrow space between one of the armchairs in his father's study and the wall. Luckily he hadn't grown too much in the past few months to fit back here.
Hermione was sitting in the chair he was hiding behind. He'd just managed to get into place before she and the rest of them had come in. If he hadn't been lucky enough to overhear his father tell Hermione before dinner that Uncle Donald had something to share after dinner he wouldn't have
Harry and Neville were situated in chairs nearby while Uncle Marcus, Uncle Donald, and his father were sitting or standing on the other side of the cozy, book-filled room.
"So, you'll be happy to learn that I've made a breakthrough with that sand of yours," Uncle Donald said with his customary frown.
"That's good, right?" Neville asked.
Donald grunted, "Yes and no. The actual sand is from a rather common rock and the spells on it are also rather simple. What makes them so difficult to replicate is how they're blended. It's a pattern I've never seen before. Another problem is: your sand is only meant to let someone travel back in time. Which sort of makes it difficult to send you forward in time, now, doesn't it?"
"Is there a way to make it let us go forward?" Harry asked.
"Possibly, but it will take me several months. Should be the same spells, just a different pattern."
"Is there anything Percival or I can do to help?" Marcus asked.
"Marcus, why do you even ask? Haven't you gotten it through your thick skull that I always work alone?" Donald snarled.
"Well, couldn't it be figured out more quickly if someone helps you?" Hermione asked. "After all, we need to get back as quickly as possible, there's already the possibility that we've changed too much."
"Girl, you let me do my thing and you'll get back safely. Anyone else joins in and you might end up back with the Founders. Got it?"
By craning his neck and looking in the mirror over the mantle Albus could see that Uncle Donald was glaring at Hermione, but she just glared back at him. He had to fight a shiver. No one dared stare back at Uncle Donald, not even his father.
Uncle Donald did nothing to stop Hermione from glaring, instead he just snorted in disgust and turned his attention to Albus' father, "I'm going to leave little Neville in your care. Now, if you'll forgive me, I have work to do. I should have something by summer. See you then."
Then he strode out the room in a swirl of his cloak.
"Neville, are you sure you're related to him?" Harry asked.
"Well, I'm a Longbottom, and he's the only Longbottom left alive, so I have to be, right? Anyways, if we stuck him in hat with a vulture stuffed on top, a green dress, and a fox fur scarf he'd look a lot like my grandmother, don't you think?"
"I really don't like to picture Donald in a dress. That thought could give one nightmares," Marcus said with a fake shudder.
His father chuckled, "Just thinking of what he'd do if he knew we were picturing him in a dress would give anyone nightmares."
Albus couldn't help but agree. If there was one person on this planet that scared him, it was Uncle Donald. The man could turn anyone to stone with just a glance. Wasn't that what happened with his mother?
Though, if Uncle Donald could get rid of Harry Potter…
Well, he might just become Albus' new hero.
Spring was here.
Albus could smell the soft scents of the flowers on the breeze. He was currently sitting on a window ledge up in a long forgotten part of the castle.
He'd found this spot not long after Christmas break. Robert had been getting on his nerves in the common room and whenever he left the dungeons he always felt eyes on him. He didn't know why Harry and his stupid friends were watching him, but it was upsetting.
Sometimes he just wanted to be left alone.
So he'd wandered off through the castle, dipping quickly down several secret passages, and taking sudden turns to try and confuse his watchers. Eventually he'd ended up here. It was just a small, forgotten room up on the seventh floor. The room was empty except for some dusty pillows on the window ledge and a few worn tapestries.
The only thing to recommend the room was the window.
It was very large, with a wide, comfortable ledge to sit on and it also had a magnificent view of the school grounds.
Sounds of laughter came up on the wind and Albus looked out to see a group of students playing down by the lake. He was too far away to make out who they were, but he could tell they were having a wonderful time running through the grass.
A wave of homesickness hit Albus as he watched them playing. He loved the spring. At home spring had always meant spring cleaning. His mother would empty the house of all the furniture as she set to cleaning everything.
Albus had run through the mountains of furniture with Arianna and Aberforth. They'd pretended to be great explorers looking for treasure or heroes off in search of a dragon to defeat.
It had been glorious.
He'd expected Hogwarts to be like that. And in many ways it had been. He'd loved sitting in the common room and talking of the great things he would do one day. It had been so nice to find others with such great ambitions.
Now though, he felt like his goals were too small.
He'd wanted to get rid of Harry Potter, but that would be happening soon.
At first he'd been excited at the thought of Uncle Donald getting rid of Harry, but now it bothered him. He'd wanted to be the one to get rid of Harry. That was the whole point of joining Slytherin. He'd wanted to become so great that everyone would realize that he was better.
But if Harry left…
Well, even if he did become great, and from what Hermione's letter had said he was supposed to become very great indeed, he'd still always wonder if he truly was the better wizard.
Sighing in annoyance at that depressing thought, Albus picked his book back up and continued reading about goblin wars for Professor Binns.
The train came to stop at Platform 9 ¾.
Albus grabbed his trunk, shouted a quick farewell to Robert, bumped into Doge in the hallway before giving him a wide grin and a hug before racing off the train.
He crossed the platform so quickly that he thought he had apparated.
His mother smelled like apples and sugar. He breathed in deeply as he hugged her close. He felt his dad ruffle his hair and he smiled into his mother's waist.
Pulling back from the hug he turned to say greet Arianna and Aberforth only to have his heart drop to his feet.
They were across the platform talking to Harry and his friends.
He felt his father ruffle his hair again.
"They love you more. They're just excited to see their hero. That's all. Don't worry about it," his father said soothingly.
But…Albus wanted to be their hero. He was the great one. He was the one that was supposed to defeat an evil wizard and become Headmaster of Hogwarts. So important that even the Minister of Magic asked for his help.
Harry Potter was just a stupid boy that fell into the past.
Anger building up quickly, Albus grabbed his chest and stormed off the platform.
He didn't want to see anymore. Hopefully Harry would be gone soon.
Not that that would change things much.
He was becoming quite good at hiding, which was a funny thing, since a year ago he never hid from anyone. Now though, he knew that the best way to learn things was to hide. It just made everything easier.
Currently Albus was hiding in the same tree he'd used a year before to spy on Harry, Richie, and Uncle Marcus.
Then he'd just wanted to be rid of Harry as quickly as possible, but now he wanted him to stay.
How could he prove he was better than Harry if the stupid hero wasn't around?
People started talking and Albus focused his attention on the group of people down below him.
"Humph. You owe me big time you three. Do you know how much work it took me to make this little thing?" Uncle Donald held up a small necklace, the single charm on it shimmering as the sunlight caught it.
Harry smiled, "Thank you very much Donald. I'm sorry we've caused so much trouble."
"Just don't do it again, alright? I'm going to be too busy finding a wife so this troublemaker doesn't cease to exist," his growl was rough, but the expression on his face was quite the opposite.
That bothered Albus. What had Neville done to change Uncle Donald's opinion of him?
Harry turned to face Albus' parents.
"Thank you very much for all of your help. We couldn't be going back without you."
His mother smiled, "Well, we can't thank you enough for saving Arianna last year."
"Have there been any more problems?" Hermione asked.
"Unfortunately, yes. That's why we're moving to Godric's Hollow next month. I think it will be good for us to be closer to the Potters and other wizarding families. Especially since Arianna is proving to be such a powerful witch," his father replied.
Albus frowned. They were moving next month? Why hadn't anyone told him? Probably forgot because of stupid Harry Potter and his friends.
"I'm sorry Marcus couldn't make it today. We shouldn't delay going back, even for Selwyn's trial. Can you give him our goodbyes?" Harry asked.
"Humph, of course we'll give him your goodbyes. Now, are you three going to get out of here before the next century? No, don't go putting that necklace over your neck yet, boy. Get over here."
Albus nearly fell out of his tree as Uncle Donald embraced Neville in a crushing hug before pulling back and coughing loudly as he shoved Neville back to his friends.
To give Neville credit, he looked just as shocked as Albus felt – as did everyone else in the garden.
Albus watched as the trio muttered final farewells before they slipped the necklace over all three of them, and then Hermione began to turn the little charm over and over.
Abruptly they disappeared.
Albus' jaw dropped in surprise.
Sure, he'd known they were from the future, but seeing them disappear was an entirely different matter.
"I'm sad to see them go," his mother said with a suspicious sniff.
"So am I, but they had to go," his father said.
"Humph, don't you be having any waterworks, Kendra. I don't like salty tea. Now, let's go inside. If I'm going to find a wife I might as well start now." With these words Uncle Donald strode off toward the house, leaving Albus' parents to follow.
Albus could only stare down at the empty spot beneath the tree. He was so confused. He was glad that Harry was gone, but he was also upset. He didn't want to see Arianna and Aberforth's faces when they realized they only had Albus left.
He'd once again be their hero, but he'd never replace Harry now.
Albus' froze in shock as he realized something.
Harry and his friends knew him in the future. The letter had been clear about that.
Which meant all he had to do was grow stronger and wait.
Eventually he'd find Harry Potter and prove once and for all who the better wizard was.
Yes, that was the way.
Grinning, Albus clambered down from the tree and headed off to find his brother and sister.
And they're off! Now, what will they find when they arrive? That is, if they arrive. Mwhahahaha.
So, people. Do you think they'll get back safely? Or will they end up somewhere else? And if they do end up somewhere else where will it be?
Also, how will the changes in Albus (and his knowledge of the future) change things?
The next chapter is about half finished, so don't worry, your thoughts won't change things, I'm just curious.
Chapter 14: Secrets Revealed
In which several secrets are discovered.
Harry frowned as he saw Albus run across the platform and throw himself into his mother's arms. That boy was so unlike the man he knew that he couldn't stop worrying about what he could've done.
Still, Neville was right. A lot could happen to a man in a hundred years.
"Oh, no," Hermione said softly from his side.
Harry followed her gaze to Arianna and Aberforth, who were standing awkwardly next to their parents and watching their big brother. Their faces were full of disappointment.
It wasn't hard to see why.
Albus was ignoring them in favor of their parents – just like he had during Christmas break.
Harry called out and gave a wave to Arianna and Aberforth. The two children smiled at the sight of him and crossed the platform quickly.
Harry was so busy greeting them and giving them the attention they wanted that he didn't see Albus give him a hate-filled look.
Harry grinned at the shocked look on Neville's face as Donald embraced him – once he got over his own shock that is.
It had been so amusing when Neville called him out for using the wrong type of wood on the time turner. Neville angry was a rather amazing and scary sight, probably more so than Hermione angry. The changing of the wood had been part of the reason they hadn't left a month ago.
Who'd have thought that the only way to impress Donald Longbottom was to engage in a shouting match and ultimately prove that while you knew nothing about rocks, you could talk circles around him about plants?
Once Neville was released from the bear hug the three of them murmured quiet goodbyes and gave the Dumbledores quick hugs. Then Hermione draped the chain of the time turner over the three of them and set it to spinning.
The garden around him disappeared in a swirl of color and shapes. Harry's ears were pounding as he found himself flying forwards. It was just like when he'd gone to save Sirius and Buckbeak back in his third year, except for the flying forwards instead of backwards.
Abruptly Harry found himself thrown to the ground, Hermione and Neville landed on top of him as the chain of the time turner got tangled around their heads.
Harry was the first one to untangle himself.
He stumbled to his feet and pulled out his wand. Quickly spinning in a circle he scanned the small field they'd landed in.
His gaze immediately fell on a rather familiar looking face sitting among the waving grass of the field.
His jaw dropped.
Neville and Hermione untangled themselves and stood up next to him. Their gazes followed his and Neville asked, "Why do I see a teenage Preston Turnipseed over there?"
Hermione groaned, "Because your idiot uncle built us a time turner that broke."
She held up the broken time turner on its chain. Harry could see that the glass had shattered, though the wooden part remained solid.
"Well, I suppose we might as well go talk to Preston since he's heading this way," Neville said before striding towards the blonde American.
Hermione and Harry followed Neville over to the now standing Preston.
As they walked Harry studied Preston. The boy was not any better looking than he had been when he was a kid. His features were still too sharp for his face, and they looked even more angular now that most of the hair was gone from his head in a very short and unflattering cut. He must now be six and a half feet, at least, which only made him look more awkward than he'd ever looked before. His arms were so long they almost reached his knees, which was saying a lot, since his legs were super long.
"Hey, Preston! What are you doing?" Neville asked as they drew close.
"Well now, I was jus' enjoyin me grandpa's field here." Preston looked at them curiously, "Wha' I wanna know is where ya'll been fer the last six years?"
Well, that answered what time it was, Harry thought.
"Um…" Neville looked back at Harry and Hermione for help.
Hermione stepped up and shot Preston a smile, "We've been traveling."
Preston looked at the three of them for a moment before he burst out laughing.
"Yeah, yeh've been travelin'. But yeh haven' traveled far have yeh? At least not in terms of space."
Hermione looked up at him with a confused expression, "I don't know what you're talking about. How can you travel if it isn't in terms of space?"
"Ya'll are time travelers."
The three of them stared mutely at Preston.
"What? Ya'll think I can't smell the oddness on yeh?"
Neville frowned, "Smell? What do you mean?"
Preston just rolled his eyes, "Ne'ermind. C'mon, let's go up to the house. Yeh can tell me where yeh been while we eat me grandma's scones.
When Preston turned to walk towards a big house in the distance the others didn't follow him. He stopped after a few feet and looked back at them.
"Well? Yeh coming?"
Hermione shook her head, "Tell us, how can you smell us?"
"Fine. But I woulda thought at least yeh'd know a skinwalker when yeh see one. Even if those two don't."
"A skinwalker?! But, they've been extinct for almost a hundred years!"
As soon as the words were out of her mouth she gasped and slapped her hands over her mouth, as if to make the words go back in.
Preston's jaw dropped, "EXTINCT?! What do you mean extinct?! There are thousands of us!"
"I'm sorry! I shouldn't have said anything! I didn't think of the time!" Tears came to Hermione's eyes as she spoke.
Harry and Neville shared a confused look, "Um, what's a skinwalker?" Harry asked.
"A humanoid creature found only in America. They are only male and must breed with humans to survive. When they have access to the skin of an creature they can transform into that creature – which is where they get there name. In their natural human form they are extremely tall and bony; they also have the ability to smell thoughts on people. How they read those smells is unknown. They also possess the ability to use wizard magic. Countries with resident skinwalker populations forbid them from learning magic. They were exterminated after one skinwalker learned magic in another country and came to demand more rights for his people in the USA. When the Ministry refused, it's said that the skinwalker went mad from the use of a wand and attacked and killed the wizards. Stories are conflicting on what actually happened since there were no survivors. After that the Ministries in the Americas united and exterminated them as a dangerous menace. The last known one was killed in 1902," Hermione said all of this in one long breath, tears sparkling in her eyes.
"Then I can't do as I planned, if I want me people to live," Preston said calmly, a faraway look in his eyes.
"Then, it was you? You were planning to confront the Ministry?" Hermione asked.
"Yeah, me plan was to–"
A loud bang cut off Preston's words.
The four of them jumped and turned to see three dangerously familiar figures standing nearby.
"Ha! Told you I'd find them!" The high-pitched voice of Bellatrix Lestrange screamed.
"Attack!" yelled Malfoy.
A bolt of green light shot out of the third Death Eaters wand. It flew straight at Neville, who threw up a shield charm just in time. The force of the blow made him fly backwards across the field.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry roared as a bolt of red light shot out of Malfoy's wand.
After that the field erupted into chaos.
"We've got to get out of here!" Hermione shouted as another killing curse hit her shield.
"If ya'll don't get freaked out I can take on a skin and fly us outta this place." Preston said this calmly as he blasted Bellatrix back about ten feet.
"What skin?" Neville said as he jumped out of the way of a stunning spell. It hit a nearby rock, causing it to explode and shower them with rock dust.
Preston let out an evil sort of laugh, "Dragon, Hungarian Horntail."
Harry shot a blasting spell at Malfoy's feet, causing the man to fly into the air. "If you can carry all of us, then let's do it."
"Alright, cover me fer a minute."
Preston put his hand on a leather covered ring attached to his belt. It was so unusual that Harry was surprised he hadn't noticed it before. His hands stroked it as his eyes grew distant.
And then he changed.
Bones began to enlarge under his skin before going off into odd angles. They made horrible grinding noises as they did this. Harry felt like he was about to throw up watching, so he turned his attention back on the Death Eaters just in time to shield Preston from a spell.
A minute later a loud roar filled the field right before flames shot over Harry's head and straight at the Death Eaters, making them throw up their own shield charms.
"Harry! C'mon!" Neville shouted.
Harry turned and ran the short distance before climbing up on Preston's back with Neville and Hermione. He was barely settled when Preston shot off the ground and into the air. Wind rushed all around him. He barely heard Hermione yell a spell that caused them all to disappear.
And with that they were speeding through the air over England to an unknown destination.