“Well…here goes nothing…” Harry murmured while taking a deep breath and gazing down at the contraption he held in his hand.
The contraption—Harry had named it ‘the gate maker’, represented months of hard work—after picking Tom Riddle’s brain for a couple of weeks, he’d gotten to work building the thing. It was finally done, and today was the test run.
If it worked, he’d be having himself a little adventure in another world, where he could hopefully use his ninja skills in actual combat and have a bit of excitement.
If it didn’t work at all, well, he’d be heading back to the Dursleys for a week and then summer with Sirius and Adeline as per usual.
If it sort of worked…well…he would be trapped in another world and unable to return, and would never see his friends and family again, and they’d never know what happened to him.
There was a reason Harry’s hands were shaking and he was having a sudden bout of self-doubt and second thoughts.
Worried or not, he was still going through with it.
He loved Sirius, he’d become fond of Adeline. He’d miss Remus, Barty and even Dora. He’d miss his friends, and school…. But he was still going; even though the consequences could well be dire should anything go amiss.
Having magic powers and ninja skills, the ability to fly and teleport, and being unable to use any of it ever, was slowly driving him mad.
He felt trapped, like he was suffocating, and slowly dying by inches.
There were days, when the sky was blue and the weather was fine when he wanted nothing more to just hop on his broom and get lost in the sky for hours…but he couldn’t, because a muggle might see, and that was against the law.
He had to be ‘normal’ by Dursley standards when he was with them, and was mostly in the house when he was with Sirius—they would let him outside without an escort, as they all seemed to think he was going to be attacked if he did. Telling them he was perfectly capable of taking care of himself did no good.
Everyone in the wizarding world was so used to living under the shackles of secrecy, they had internalized it to such a degree that their very spirit was compromised—it sounded dramatic, put that way, but it was true.
Wizards tended to stay in the house—there wasn’t really much to do on an average day beyond hang out at the pub for a bit, or go see a quidditch game anyway. When they did go out, they scurried from place to place, and worried the whole time about muggles—which most found to be stressful, so they didn’t do it much.
Even when doing ‘unobtrusive’ magic, you got slammed.
He and some of his friends from school had done a summer solstice dance at Sirius and Adeline’s wedding; there had been enough people there that, when it really got going, it had sucked in the townsfolk nearby and led to an all-night dancing party. The Ministry had come down so hard on everyone involved that many were still stinging from the fines. The muggles of the town, all two hundred and fifty of them, had been obliviated, and the dances had later been made illegal.
Anyone found violating the law would be fined, and possibly serve a jail sentence for secrecy violations if any muggles were swept up.
He and his friends who’d been at the wedding had practically spent the summer as prisoners, confined to their homes, but for a few (very brief) outings.
He gone from there right back to school where you were either in class or your common room, and the weather got cold enough that going outside started to become a chore.
Then, last summer, on top of the debacle with the wedding, he'd been grounded for three weeks for being 'cheeky'. It had all become too much--like the walls were closing in on him, and there was no freedom to be found anywhere.
It was this unhappy state of affairs that had led to his current mad scheme.
He had been told, several times and by several people, that Tom Riddle had been an incredible wizard—brilliant, a prodigy, a guy who could just ‘do stuff’ other people couldn’t.
He had used the picture he’d made—an externalization of his connection to Voldemort—to pick the man’s brain. He’d ‘nudged’ a bit, to get him thinking on the possibility of travelling to other worlds.
Much to Harry’s delight, he’d gotten working on the problem.
Then, after a couple of weeks of poking at the idea, he’d come up with a way to do it.
The ‘gate maker’ in his hands was the finished result of Tom Riddle’s work; Harry just hoped he’d made it correctly and didn’t forget anything.
He was currently in the Chamber of Secrets, with Hedwig by his side watching him impatiently.
It was September 1st.
Right now, upstairs in the great hall, Harry was also sitting with his friends at the Gryffindor table, enjoying the opening feast of the new school year. How could that be, you wonder?
It was really very simple.
For some unfathomable reason, Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, had arranged for Hermione Granger, resident know-it-all and general annoyance, to be given the power to bend space and time so she could take every class Hogwarts offered.
The device was called a time-turner, and Harry had discovered she had the thing quite by accident. Once he’d discovered it though, he realized he’d found the perfect way to ‘slip off’ for an adventure with no one the wiser.
With some luck and some ingenuity, he had made a (non-magical) copy of the thing and swapped it with the real one just before Hermione had turned it in to Professor McGonagall at the end of the year. Once he had it in hand he had slipped off by himself and set the thing to turning, until he’d zipped back a whole year. He had actually watched himself and his friends heading into the great hall before slipping off to the Chamber of Secrets.
He now had a year to go adventuring with no one the wiser.
He had done what he could to make his trip as pleasant as possible. He had a tent, he had medical supplies, he had books, he had food (under preservation charms), his broom and a small magic carpet, he had his wand, (as well as a workable spare he’d found while poking through his vaults) he had swords, he had daggers, and he had his trusty Hedwig, who’d insisted on coming along.
He was as ready as he was going to be…all that was left was to see if the gate maker even worked.
Hands shaking, and with a stomach full of butterflies, he held the thing in front of him and pushed the shining green button.
A high-pitched whine began to sound from the device and a beam of light shot from the front end. The air in front of him rippled and then began to twist in on itself, faster and faster until it formed a small spinning knot. The knot pulsed and then widened until a portal opened up in front of them.
Hedwig squawked and flew to Harry’s shoulder, where she bristled and glared at the doorway suspiciously.
“Ready, girl?” Harry asked quietly.
Hedwig’s claws tightened on Harry’s shoulder and she gave the little half-bow that served her as a nod of agreement.
“Let’s go then…next step, adventure!”
Steeling his courage, Harry stepped through the portal, which shut behind him.