Title: Dimensional Shift
Author: Keira Marcos
Fandom: Harry Potter
Genre: Time Travel, Angst, etc etc
Summary: Harry Potter takes a leap of faith in search of his soulmate.
Author’s Note: THIS IS A SNEAK PEEK AND A WORK IN PROGRESS. DO NOT ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT IT. IT’LL HAPPEN WHEN IT HAPPENS.
– – – –
The world was in ruins. Two years into the war with Voldemort, the muggles found out about the magical world en mass. The resulting chaos and fighting was so extreme that entire magical communities and muggle cities were basically wiped out in days. Ten days from his sixteenth birthday, and Harry Potter was alone in the world. Tom Riddle lay bleeding to death a few feet from him, the sword of Godric Gryffindor pinning him to the ground ten meters inside the far circle of the crumbling remnants of Stonehenge.
Harry dropped to his knees beside the man who had ruined his life and destroyed their world. “Was it worth it?”
Riddle hissed. “I won’t stay dead, boy, there is nothing you can do to stop me from returning.”
“There is, actually,” Harry said and took a deep breath. “You see, everyone else is already dead. There is no one left alive to gather up your soul, there is no one left for them to sacrifice so that you can live. There is just me, Tom and I’m not going to bring you back. You’ll die and maybe it won’t be so scary. Maybe you’ll realize that dying really is the next great adventure.”
“If you let me die, you’ll be all alone.”
“I’ve been alone since you murdered my parents, my friends, my family… but I won’t be alone anymore.” He clutched his wand in his hand. “You see, Tom, there is a reason why I lead you here—a reason why it was so important you die in the last magical place on the planet.” He watched Riddle’s eyes widen with fear. “That’s right, Tom. You’re my ticket out of here.”
“You don’t have the gutsss for such magic,” Riddle hissed.
“You’re already dead—your body just hasn’t caught up with that fact yet. Why should I stay here and suffer when I can go? My soul mate is waiting on me, Tom, in another dimension—in another place. I think fate owes me one, don’t you?”
– – – –
He pulled up the hood of his cloak before he pushed open the double doors leading into the great hall. It was full of students—most of which he knew very well from his dimension. But these—all of these people were strangers to him no matter how familiar their faces might be.
Dumbledore was on his feet immediately, wand drawn. “Stop! You will not harm my students!”
Harry felt the wards go up, children being pushed tables and all away from him by Dumbledore’s magic. It was impressive—the Albus Dumbledore of his dimension had been weakened by war and curses by the time Harry was magically aware enough to feel him practice magic.
He pulled his wand with care and held it over his heart. “I swear on my life and magic that I mean no harm to anyone who would not seek to harm me, so mote it be.” His magic flared beautifully, glowing white and pure despite the sacrifical magic that had brought him to this new place.
Dumbledore’s wand lowered by fractions and inclined his head. “Do you seek aid of some kind, stranger?”
“I seek… a place to belong, Headmaster. I have traveled long and far in search of the most amazing gift magic has ever offered to magical kind.”
“I left a dead and empty world behind,” Harry admitted. His face still shrouded in the cloak he turned towards the students and looked at them. There appeared to be three Potter children at the Gryffindor table and one at the Ravenclaw table. None of them were him. “I have just one hour to determine if this is my new home before my magic makes ready to take me to another world—another place to search.”
He turned to face Dumbledore and found the old wizard slightly pale.
“A dead world? What happened to your world?”
“Voldemort rose from the dead and destroyed it—between him and the muggles, the entire world’s population was decimated within two years of his ressurrection. He spared no one and the muggles didn’t either. They dropped nuclear weapons on us, tailored diseases that magic could not fight to kill anything and anyone with magic. In the end, only Tom Riddle and I remained—both immune to the muggle diseases and the nuclear poison.”
“What…” Dumbledore took a shaky breath. “Young man, what is your name?”
Harry let his gaze flick down the length of the staff table and saw his mother’s face. Not in a picture, but a living, breathing version of Lily Potter. His father was standing, his wand drawn, one hand resting on his wife’s shoulder.
“If I can not stay—it would be a cruelty to say,” Harry admitted.
“What answers can we give you, young man?” Minerva McGonagall asked. “Voldemort lives here—he was gone for many years but returned four years ago when he used an artifact to return.”
“He succeeded in the Chamber of Secrets in this world then?” Harry questioned. He looked back at the Gryffindor table and found it a Weasley short. He lowered his head briefly. “In my world, I… saved the person who had the diary.”
“Little Ginny Weasley was… killed,” Dumbledore admitted sadly. “We haven’t been able to retrieve her body from the chamber as we do not know where it is.”
“The entrance is in Myrtle’s bathroom,” Harry supplied. “The sink in the middle—there is a snake on one of the faucets. She’ll be in the back of the chamber but I caution you—there is a bassalisk in the chamber. She will not take kindly to another intrusion.”
“I thank you for the information,” Dumbledore said solemnly. “Her parents would thank you as well if they were here.”
Harry nodded. He turned then and looked at the Slytherin table. Some of them flinched under his attention but not Draco. He was on his feet, staring at him so fiercely that Harry’s heart tripped a little. Draco Malfoy. The boy he’d only seen in pictures before he’d started his search—his father had killed him shortly after his tenth birthday because it had been revealed in the Book of Souls that his son was the fated soul mate of the Boy Who Lived. Harry had one picture of him—a clipping from the Daily Prophet and it had been taken at his tenth birthday party.
“Where is Sirius Black?” Harry questioned suddenly and focused on James Potter.
James paled dramatically and took a steady breath. “He was murdered fifteen years ago by Voldemort—he died defending my son… my son Harry.”
“And where is your son Harry?”
“He perished with his godfather,” James admitted hoarsely. “The last victim of the Death Eaters before Voldemort’s resurrection. Memories we retrieved from Death Eaters who witnessed it said that my son’s… magic deflected part of the killing curse back to Voldemort and he was vanquished—his soul ripped from his body. Bellatrix LaStrange killed my boy Harry shortly there after.”
Harry blinked in surprise and took a deep breath. “Who is the Minister for Magic?”
“Amelia Bones,” Dumbledore answered. “She is a strong leader and even with his magical strength—Voldemort hasn’t been able to gain a foothold in the four years since his return.”
Harry nodded. “Okay. Okay.” He took a deep breath. “I need you let Draco Malfoy out of the protection ward, Dumbledore. I swear on my honor, I would cut out my own heart before I would hurt him.”
“Lord Malfoy, do you agree?”
Harry blinked at the title but focused on Draco as he considered the situation. “You can keep your wand drawn, Lord Malfoy.” He conjured a table with a flick of his wand, placed his wand there and followed it with three blades and the Sword of Gryffindor. “I swear to you that I mean you no harm.”
Draco nodded and stepped through the ward, the magic of it clinged to him and his robes briefly as he stepped fully into the space that Harry occupied. “How many worlds have you visited?”
Draco’s gaze widened in horror. “You’ve done this thirty six times?”
“Thirty six hours have passed since I cast the spell,” Harry admitted. “At the end of the hour, my magic will take me away again if this world is not right for me.”
“How do I help you end this torture?” Draco asked wide-eyed.
“Your willingness to do so is quite relieving. In some worlds, you are arrogant and horrible. In others, much like my own – you died very young. Ten worlds ago, I came upon you—only to find you dying. Eight worlds ago, you were a marked Death Eater and Voldemort’s enforcer.” Harry paused at the way Draco blanched. “Five worlds ago, you were broken—destroyed emotionally and mentally by repeated exposure to the crusciacious curse. In the last world, you pretended to be everything I needed but my magic was pulling me away anyway. In the last minutes I was there, you tried to put a knife in my heart.” He touched his chest then, the fabric of his shirt was torn and bloody under his cloak though his magic had healed the injury.
Draco put away his wand and with care rolled up both of his sleeves to reveal pale, unmarked arms. “I am no Death Eater, stranger. I can’t pretend to know what you need or want from me. I’m the Lord of my family because my father is dead—murdered by the Dark Lord when he refused join him upon his resurrection. No one in this castle is a marked Death Eater—our wards prevent it. The ministry has taken custody of any underage children of Death Eaters—they live here year round and have no access to their parents poor influence.”
Harry frowned briefly his gaze flicking back to the head table. “Where is Severus Snape?”
“Dead,” Dumbledore murmured. “He was killed by the shade of Voldemort six years ago when another professor was possessed. He saved our school and young Mr. Longbottom but he was lost to us.”
Harry nodded. “In my world, Severus Snape was a spy for the Light—the bravest man I’ve ever known despite his poor disposition and personality. I grieve with you for his loss, Dumbledore.”
“It is we who grieve with you,” Minerva whispered. “To lose…everyone as you have.”
Harry waved a hand and a small hour glass appeared to his left. It was half-empty. He took a deep breath and focused on Draco Malfoy. “What do you know, Lord Malfoy, about the Book of Souls?”
Draco stared at him in surprise. “It is a book that records magical soul mates upon their birth. My parents believed that I had a record at one time but the book wouldn’t open for me when I tried shortly after my tenth birthday.”
“That’s because your soul mate was dead,” Harry said gently. His gaze flicked to James Potter. “Killed by Voldemort when he was little more than eighteen months old. A child of prophecy and so much magical power that if he’d lived—Voldemort would have never had any hope of survival. No matter the consequences—Tom Riddle can not live in a world where Harry James Potter lives.”
“How…” Lily stood. “How do you know that? How do you know about the prophecy?”
Harry pulled a glowing blue orb from his robe and it activated. The prophecy played out in front of him—still active and vibrant. Magic arced around him and Draco Malfoy as it played out. The silence that followed was deafening, alien. He put the orb down on on the conjured table and then glanced at the hour glass sand still flowed but it was glowing white.
He lowered his hood carefully and met his father’s gaze unflinchingly. “Because I am Harry James Potter-Black, Heir Regent of Gryffindor, Lord of the Ancient and Noble House of Black.” The Black family ring glimmered into view on his hand. “In my world, my godfather lived and my parents—perished defending my life. I was raised and magically adopted by Sirius Black. I don’t remember a day when I didn’t have a wand in my hand. He trained me, was a father to me, and six months ago he took a Killing Curse for me. In doing so, he renewed the runic sacrificial protection that my mother placed on me as a child and that allowed me to seek out a new world. This world if…” He trailed off and focused on Draco. “If you will have me, Draconis Lucian Malfoy, Lord of the Noble House of Malfoy.” He glanced towards the hourglass, the sands were quivering in it.
“I…” Draco stopped and bit down on his lip.
“The sands will not allow me to stay if you aren’t the one,” Harry said quietly. “This ritual will work for me—it will take me to the one that magic has meant for me. If not you, then another version of you. I do not doubt it. Do not let guilt or your desire to see what you call suffering end cloud your judgment, magic will not accept it and it would be doing me the worst kind of service.”
“I’ve had an empty place inside me for as long as I can remember,” Draco said quietly. “Ten minutes before the doors to the hall opened—something filled it up. Is that when you arrived?”
“Just outside Hagrid’s hut,” Harry confirmed. “I thought Fang was going to bite my arse to be frank.”
“You said guilt.”
“I’m the one force in the universe that can end Voldemort’s reign of terror. I don’t know many in any Universe that wouldn’t try to keep me.”
“How many have tried?”
“Numbers two, six, twelve, and fourteen,” Harry said succintly. “You were dead on the fifteenth world but they were desparate—they tried to lie and eventually tried to destroy the hour glass in order to keep me. They failed.”
“You can’t have him,” a female voice called out from the Slytherin table. “I am his betrothed. We are to marry next year. He swore on his magic!”
The hour glass dulled as Pansy Parkinson stopped just short of the ward—Harry blinked in surprise but stepped back from Draco even as Malfoy reached out for him. “No, I’m sorry.”
“But, I don’t love her. It’s just a duty.”
“A duty you’ve sworn on your magic,” Harry said gently. “I cannot share my soul mate with another, Draco.” He took another step back. The sands started to swirl in the hourglass. He glanced towards Lily and James Potter—they were looking at him so intent on him—the four Potter children standing with them now. “Names?”
James cleared his throat and touched them in turn. “Adam, Elizabeth, Orion, and Della meet your brother Harry.”
“I’m sorry to be so cruel. I thought I could stay,” Harry looked at Draco and saw the open devastation on his face. “If any of you have an ounce of decency—you’ll obliviate him. You’ll memory charm them all so they don’t remember me.”
“I don’t wanna forget,” Della said with a frown.
Harry smiled. “Perhaps not you then if you promise to keep it a secret.”
“Harry,” Draco began, his voice hoarse and broken. “Please, there must be a way.”
“You know there is no honorable path we can take—you swore on your magic to wed her. If you were really the right one for me… you would have never promised yourself to another.” Harry reached out with his magic and all of the things from the table flew to him. He sheathed the sword last and looked toward Dumbledore. “Do right by him, Albus, he doesn’t deserve to suffer his life with this knowledge.”
Dumbledore nodded abruptly. “Of course, Lord Black.”
Harry focused on Orion Potter and found the boy staring at him as if he was trying to memorize him. “You were named have a great man, you know. I’ve never known a better more loyal man that Sirius Orion Black. He was courageous, honest, and the strongest most dedicated of wizards. I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for him.”
Orion nodded. “My… our Dad says so all the time.”
Lily Potter suddenly rushed forward, her magic clashing with the ward and wrapped her arms around him. “Please, please don’t go.”
Harry inhaled sharply, taking in the jasmine in her hair and let his fingers clench on her robe. “This is the first time you’ve been alive,” he whispered. “In all the other worlds, you died for me or with me as a baby.” He set her back slightly so he could see her face. “I’ve only ever seen pictures before.” He touched her cheek with trembling fingers and brushed away a tear. “You can’t know… you can’t possibly know what I would endure for this moment.”
“Please stay,” she whispered again. “Please, Harry.”
“When my mum died for me—she cast a protective charm on me based on her love.” He paused when she nodded abruptly. “Sirius reinvigorated that charm when he died for me—he threw all of his magic into it with the last seconds of his life. That magic—that love is guiding me now. I can’t control it—I’m at the mercy of their love until I find a place that is meant for me.” He looked at Draco and found the younger man silent with tears streaming down his face. “It’s not his fault he’s not the one.”
“He could be the one,” Lily whispered fiercely. “I could find some way to break…”
“No,” Harry said gently. “And please don’t let him suffer with this memory no matter how much he insists he wants to keep it.”
Lily nodded. “Okay.”
The hourglass rattled in the air and started to turn in slow circles as James slipped past the ward. He took his wife’s hand and pulled her back. “I hope you find what you need to be happy, son. I’m sorry that it’s not here with us.” He offered Harry his hand and Harry took it with a sharp in take of breath. “You’re everything I could have wanted you to be, you know. The moment you were born—I knew you were going to be a strong, good man. A fighter.”
Harry smiled. He looked at his other siblings and settled on Adam. “Don’t… feel guilty the day you put on the ring. If it was meant to be Harry’s he would be here to wear it.”
Adam nodded. “Alright.”
“You’ll be an excellent Lord Potter. I’m sure Dad will make sure.” Harry looked at Elizabeth—saw their mother and father in her much as he did himself. She looked the most like him of all of the Potter children. “Don’t let some wizard turn your head before you figure out what you want to be.”
She smiled. “I won’t. You don’t let that thing stop taking you places until you find a home.” She pointed at the hourglass as it swirled. “And it’d better do its job right.”
“It’s being guided by our mother’s love—there is nothing I trust more in the universe.”
“Is there…” Dumbledore stopped and stared at the hourglass with anger. “Lord Black?”
“He made horcruxes, Dumbledore. Slytherin’s locket, Hufflepuff’s cup, Ravenclaw’s Diadem, and the diary. His snake is probably one—he made one of young Harry but Bellatrix killed that one when she killed him. You know who the other baby was in the prophecy. It’s still active in this world, don’t leave him in the dark and don’t leave him untrained. I’ve seen worlds where you did that—it wasn’t pretty. He can’t beat him the way I did but he can defeat him. I’ve heard it was done on at least four different worlds.”
“How did you do it?” James asked.
“I shoved the Sword of Gryffindor through his chest,” Harry said dryly. “Then I set him on fire and used his magic to activate Stonehenge.” James snorted and Harry grinned. “When a Potter makes war—he takes no prisoners.” Finally, he stepped back further and called the swirling hourglass to him. It swiveled wildly in front of him. “I wish you peace.”
“Why aren’t you Lord Potter?” James questioned suddenly.
Harry smiled then, rueful. “Damn ring told me that I couldn’t claim the Potter title as a chaste man.”
James shook his head with a small smile and Harry popped away with a bright flash of magic.
– – – –
Hogwarts was a massive pile of rock and decaying magic. It wasn’t new destruction by any means. Harry sat down near the lake and took a deep breath. His last few turns had been nightmarish. Each turn left him refreshed and new as if he’d just left his world. It was in its own way as much a torture as the empty life he’d left behind. A figure appeared in the shadows behind him and he tilted his head. “I mean you no harm.”
The shadow moved closer to him and finally a thin, unspeakably frail Dobby sat down beside him. “Yous not my Harry Potter.”
“No, I’m not.” Harry paused. “You’re not my Dobby. Mine died protecting me.”
“My Harry Potter died saving the whole world,” Dobby said reverently.
“Is there anyone left?” Harry questioned.
“The magic be dying,” Dobby explained. “It not being strong enough to survive the war. Magics people go live like muggles.”
“How are you still alive then? Don’t house elves need magical bonds to live.”
“Magic stays with me,” Dobby whispered. “Maybe I can be your new Dobby.” He shifted closer and reached out hesitantly to touch Harry. “Yous could be my new Harry Potter.”
The lonliness had been overwhelming after Sirius had perished. He’d been the last in a long line of people who sacrificed themselves so he could end Tom Riddle’s existence. He knew Dobby’s magic wouldn’t deter or alter the ritual—his mother’s love was too strong. He held out his hand and their fingers brushed together—magic flared as Dobby willingly tethered himself to Harry’s magic.
“Oh.” Dobby sat back wide-eyed. “Yous very magical.”
“I bring with me all the magic of my world,” Harry explained and sighed. “And I will take the last of the magic of this world with me it seems.”
– – – –
The cloak he’d fashioned for Dobby was made of the same material as his own. The elf never strayed far from his side during the turns. Each world pulled at them, wanted him to stay and in turn made Dobby long for the magic that swirled, wild and healthy around them. In some, the magic was already subdued—fading away and those were the worlds when he didn’t even try to seek out anyone. This world was vibrant and Harry felt himself pulled once more towards Hogwarts. He was always pulled toward Draco. He wondered if this world’s Malfoy would be the right one.
Dobby’s fingers clenched on the folds of his robe as they paused in front of the large double doors leading into the school. There was a war ward on the door—built on intent and the Dark Mark. He’d seen the ward only once before—it was both a comfort and disconcerting. Voldemort existed in this reality but the people were at least proactive about their defense.
He passed through the ward easily and Dobby took a deep breath as he passed along with him. Wards rarely put off a house elf but this one made the little guy shudder a little. Harry paused and let his magic extend over the ward as he studied it. It reeked of Dumbledore’s magic. It wasn’t deadly but it was a war ward—designed to keep out the worst kind of people. Forced apparation was the choice of deflection. He laughed softly as he realized that the ward automatically apparated offenders to the Ministry of Magic, probably a holding cell of some kind. Very smart.
Dobby darted ahead and opened the doors to the Great Hall and then waited until Harry came forward before moving, his fingers curling around the folds of Harry’s robe as he passed him.
“Hold.” Dumbledore stood.
Harry smirked under the hood. “Merlin, if you say—you shall not pass—I might laugh myself sick.” Several muggleborns started to laugh and Dumbledore smiled.
He looked around the room—taking in the slight changes that an alternate universe had wrought. Hermione Granger was a Ravenclaw. Neville Longbottom was a Hufflepuff. Ginny Weasley was at the Gryffindor able ensconced between the twins…and Ron Weasley was missing. He frowned and let his gaze travel around the room again. Merlin, Ron was in Slytherin. He pictured six generations of Weasleys rolling over in their graves.
He let himself finally look at Draco Malfoy and wondered if the boy already felt the pull. From the hard glint in his silver eyes and the set of his jaw—Harry figured he did. He liked the reluctance, the fire—the suspicion. Draco Malfoy was no one’s toy and it was relieving to find him so fierce so many turns later.
“Stranger, I would know your business in this castle?” Dumbledore drew himself up to his full height.
“I seek sanctuary,” Harry said carefully. “I’m a soldier for the Light. I mean no harm to anyone who serves the Light. I swear it upon my magic and life.” His aura flared as the oath settled around him. It was the oath of the an ancient and noble house—protocol of the well-mannered wizard.
“Sanctuary from what?” Minerva McGonagall questioned.
“You have a war ward on the door of a school,” Harry pointed out dryly. “One might assume I seek sanctuary from Death Eaters.”
“Assumptions have never been my strong suit.”
“No, ma’am, that much I’ve always known to be true about you,” Harry agreed. He focused on Dumbledore. “What do you know about dimensional travel, Headmaster?” He loved asking that question because the jaw dropping reaction never got old.
“I know it requires a great deal of magic and often times sacrificial magic. Willing sacrificial magic,” Albus said sadly. “Tell me, young man, where do you come from?”
“A dead world—wrought so by magical and muggle war. Disease, nuclear weapons, and strife caused by Voldemort,” Harry said quietly. “I seek the most magical of gifts—provided by Fate herself.”
“You seek your soul mate,” Dumbledore said quietly and a hundred voices started speaking in hushed whispers around the room. “What does your magic tell you, young man? Have you found the right place?”
“It tells me no more than it has than the first seventy-three times I’ve done this, Albus.” His hand drifted until it rested on Dobby’s shoulder as the elf moved closer. “We will travel until magic is satisfied.”
“Who sacrificed themselves so that you could do this?” Albus questioned.
“My mother died for me when I was eighteen months old and used runic magic based on love to protect me from the darkest of men,” Harry began. “Six months ago my adopted father took the Killing Curse for me and in doing so allowed me to move forward in my efforts to end the war on our world.”
“And you lost?” Albus probed.
“No, I just won too late for it to matter,” Harry said in return.
“You have a decision to make,” Albus asserted.
“Magic does,” Harry corrected. “You might say I’m being lead by love.” He paused and let the Headmaster twinkle at him. “Who is the Minister for Magic?”
Harry was extremely fucking grateful that he still had his hood up because his jaw was dragging around his knees. “That’s not… the usual answer.”
“We are very fortunate to have such a strong and morally sound wizard as our leader in such a trying time,” Dumbledore explained.
Merlin’s pants. Harry exhaled sharply and shared a horrified glance with Dobby. “I see.” His gaze flicked down the staff table, his parents if they lived most often were at Hogwarts as professors. He spied only his father. Disappointment settled in him but he let it go. There was nothing he could about it and he was beyond mourning the woman who had died for him.
There were two little girls—twins at the Gryffindor table with sparkling green eyes and curly black hair. No brothers then, he thought idely, and thought about the fresh faced Orion and the solemn Adam he’d met ten times in previous turns. No sweet little Della whom he’d only met twice or Elizabeth whom he had only met once.
“Where is Sirius Black?” Harry questioned.
At the staff table, James Potter stood. “I’m James Potter. Sirius was my friend.”
“Was,” Harry repeated. “How did he die?”
“Defending his godson’s life,” James said quietly. “The Dark Lord killed them both.”
It was another theme he was quite familiar with. If James wasn’t at home to defend his family—his oldest son died and with him so very often was Sirius Black.
Harry nodded. “Very well.” He looked down at the stones. “I came here for a person, as you must have already guessed. In some worlds I’ve visited—he’s dead, in other’s he’s a Death Eater, or already promised through magic to another.”
“You seek your soul mate,” James said quietly. “You’ve traveled through seventy-three different worlds searching for your soul mate.”
“It’s all that I have left, Lord Potter,” Harry said quietly. “I have to believe that I deserve it.”
James nodded and slowly regained his seat.
Harry turned to look at Draco Malfoy on his feet, moving away from the table, ignoring the whispers of the other Slytherins, even the incessant sputtering of Ron Weasley. He made himself stand still—to let the other man come to him. It was so important that it was Draco’s will that made him come forward—to accept the pull of their magical connection.
“I’m not dead,” Draco said wryly.
“No, I see that.”
“I’m not a Death Eater.”
“It’s a relief to know,” Harry admitted. “It’s so often not the case. I can’t tell you how many times an alternate version of you has tried to kill me.”
Draco smirked. “Adds a little spice to the whole thing, you think?”
“I’ve always enjoyed danger more than I should.”
“Despite my father’s opinions on the matter, I’ve made no promises to anyone.” He paused and inclined his head. “I don’t plan to start tonight.”
“I would expect nothing less,” Harry said.
“Tell me your name,” Draco demanded as he came to a stop near him. Arms crossed, elegantly tailored robes falling just so. He was quite the picture.
Harry waved a hand and the hourglass appeared. It was always there—lurking just to his left spinning and shifting the sand that controlled his destiny. The flow of sand was steady, the soft blue indicating pending travel unchanged. He frowned at it and glanced once more at the head table. “Where is Severus Snape?”
Draco frowned. “My godfather is the Master Potion maker for the Ministry.”
Harry nodded. Something was wrong with this world. “And Voldemort? What of Voldemort?”
Draco paused and inclined his head. “Voldemort?”
“The leader of the Death Eaters,” Harry said patiently.
“His name is Tom Riddle,” Draco said patiently. “Riddle claims to be the Heir of the House of Slytherin though because his father was a muggle… he lost all rights to his Noble house when the laws changed in the late sixties. The Death Eaters are a political organization—bent on corrupting our society by allowing mudbloods to have more than they rightly deserve. It’s no more or less than that.”
Harry reeled back in shock and took a step away from Malfoy. “And who is the Dark Lord?”
“Gellert Grindelwald, a power hungry psychopath who kills indiscriminately.”
That was certainly a first. Dobby made a small distressed sound and threw up a magical shield that encompassed them both. It pushed Malfoy back away from him. The little elf hadn’t let anyone get close enough to hurt Harry since they had bonded. Harry’s magic flared and his cloak started to swirl around his legs, the sword strapped to his side came into view.
He glanced towards the hour glass, aware that the sands wouldn’t speed up for him. He’d nearly bled out early on waiting on the hourglass to take him to the relative safety of another world.
“On my world, Grindelwald was defeated in 1945 by Albus Dumbledore. He spent the remainder of his life in prison,” Harry said quietly. “He was a foul, cruel man—evil really. Death was too good for him.” He looked finally at James Potter. “Where is Lily Potter?”
James blinked as if startled. “I divorced her and when she refused to have her magic properly bound in servitude to a pure blood due to her muggle born status she was given the Kiss.”
Harry hissed in outrage and Dobby shifted closer still. He flung back his hood and glared openly at the man. “Then I am glad that your world’s version of me did not live to see you cast aside and allow his mother to be Kissed.”
James shot up from his chair. “Harry?” He rushed around the table only to be violently repelled by Dobby’s ward. “Harry.”
“Don’t. Merlin, don’t. I want no part of such a monstrous world. I didn’t spend the last two years of my life fighting—watching everyone I loved die for this.”
“Wait,” Draco demanded and reached out to touch the shield. “Don’t make a hasty choice. Surely you feel the call of my magic. I felt you—I felt you the moment you arrived.”
“My mother is a muggle born,” Harry snapped. “She’s mindless or dead because of your father’s disgusting politics. How could I possibly accept such a situation.”
“She wasn’t your mother,” Draco insisted. “Not the Lily Potter that was here—she’s not your mother.”
“There is nothing here for me,” Harry said quietly. “I’d wither and die in such a world—so corrupt that even the meaning of the Light is damaged beyond repair.” He looked at Dumbledore, utterly heart sick. “How could you let this world fall so far from grace?” His voice broke and he looked away from them. Instead he focused on Hermione Granger. “Did you let these monsters bind your magic?”
Hermione flushed and looked away. “I am bound to the House of Malfoy.”
Harry laughed bitterly. “Of course, only the best and brightest for the House of Malfoy.” He glared openly at Draco and the pureblood wizard flinched at the contempt bleeding off of Harry. “Is she your slave? Is that how it works in this world? All of her brilliance and magic subjugated and abused for your gain? Merlin, how the fuck can you think I’d want to stay in a world so damaged? That I’d want a man so foul that he would seek to own another human being?”
Draco paled. “Please wait—you don’t know what good you could do here. Grindelwald killed our version of you because you were prophesized to kill him. You could end our war. Make our world a better place.”
“Better for who?” Harry demanded. “Better for people like you? Merlin, why the fuck would I want to make this world better? I hope it burns to ash!” His magic snapped around him. “And I hope none of you ever forget that it was your corrupt, disgusting politics that lost you the power and patronage of an archmagus.”
Dobby’s shields brightened as they were hit by magic. Malfoy’s wand was glowing at the tip—his own magic crackled around him.
“Do you think I’ll let you leave?” Malfoy demanded. “That I would accept the loss of such power and potential when it could belong to me?”
Harry laughed bitterly. “You think you can hold me here? Do you even know how much of your magic is being subdued by to your nature? Don’t you know?” He leaned forward, the shield crackled between them. “You’re a burgeoning archmagus, Malfoy, crippled by your own darkness. I am a warrior for the Light. You aren’t worthy of me.”
“I am the future Lord of two houses,” Draco shouted.
Harry snorted. “I am the Lord of an Ancient and Noble House.” He waved his fingers and the Black ring appeared. “I am the Heir Regent to the House of Gryffindor. I am the Last Scion of the House of Potter.” He sent James Potter a glare. “I can’t imagine the my grandfather’s ring would deny me – in this world.” He watched the man flush with anger and maybe embarassment.
The hour glass started to spin wildly and Harry let himself focus on Dumbledore once more. “I’ve been to many worlds—and never have you been a weak man. I feel your magical power ebbing and flowing through this school like a river. I know you never wanted to lead but perhaps, Albus, it’s time you grow a pair and rectify what is wrong with your world before magic deems you all unredeemable and leaves. You can’t think it will be patient forever. Magic is alive and it won’t be forgiving.”
Harry held out his hand and Dobby curled his fingers against Harry’s palm.
– – – –
Turn One Hundred-Six
They appeared in the middle of a violent, torrential storm. He hated the rain. In the last world he’d appeared, the sun had been high and a quidditch game had just ended. Draco Malfoy had been beautiful—full of life and the sweet promise of burgeoning magic. And already magically betrothed to Susan Bones. Voldemort had never returned to that world—he’d died with Harry Potter. Their magic tethered together for eternity.
Dumbledore met them at the door—it was late, well past dinner so Harry wasn’t surprised that the Headmaster hadn’t waited for them to come completely into the castle.
“Stranger, welcome to Hogwarts.”
Harry let his hand drop to Dobby’s shoulder and the elf leaned in close. “Good evening Headmaster Dumbledore. I am a traveler seeking the most magical of gifts.”
“A traveler?” Albus questioned as he motioned them into the castle. Dobby cast drying charms on their robes as they passed through the entrance. “It is a harsh night for travel, young man.”
“Magic compels me,” Harry admitted. “My time is short, Headmaster, I must be blunt.”
“Very well,” Albus agreed. “Come up to my office?”
“Yes, that’ll be fine.”
Harry let himself be lead up the stairs. The magic felt good in this world—robust and unrestrained. He settled in a chair near the fire and laughed softly when Dobby pulled out a small trunk and set about making tea.
“It’s good that you do not travel alone,” Albus said with a small smile.
“I did for a long time,” Harry admitted. “It’s much better now.”
“Can you tell me why you are so sad, young man?”
“I come from a dead world, sir. A world ravaged by war and devoid of magic. I’ve traveled through many worlds—each amazing and incredibly sad in their own way. Voldemort…” He trailed off when Dumbledore startled. “He’s not returned here?”
“He did,” Dumbledore said hoarsely. “Some years ago—brought to life by a diary he left a soul fragment in before he was vanquished.”
“Vanquished,” Harry repeated. “When he tried to murder little Harry Potter in his crib?”
“He succeeded,” Albus said sadly. “The entire house was destroyed in the magical backlash. When I arrived—I was barely there in time to save James Potter.”
“And Lily Potter?”
“She was at the Ministry the night of the attack—but she died five years later after the birth of her third child. Both of her living children are here at Hogwarts—second and fourth years. Their father is the Defense Against Dark Arts teacher.”
Harry took a deep breath and gave Dobby the tea cup back. “I see.” It was more than he had on his original world but so much less than he’d had on others. “Who is the Minister for Magic?”
“Cornelius Fudge. He’s a politician but he’s worked very hard to protect us since the ressurrection of Voldemort.”
“And the Death Eaters? Are they recruiting heavily?”
“No more than they did before,” Dumbledore admitted. “Voldemort has refrained from violence and has instead used his followers in an attempt to subvert our government.”
Harry nodded. “That’s quite common actually. In some worlds, he outright bought his ideals into law. Those are the most terrible worlds—painted with a false tranquilty and peace. I can’t even think about those places without growing so furious I can barely breathe.”
“I understand,” Albus murmured. “How many worlds have visited in your quest?”
“Over one hundred,” Harry admitted. “I grow tired.”
“Yes, I imagine that you do.” Albus sighed. “Can you tell me who you are?”
Harry hesitated briefly and then slowly lowered his hood. “I imagine I might look familiar to you.”
Dumbledore stared at him startled. “Yes, of course, you do.” He reached out and touched his face with trembling fingers. “My sweet boy, I would’ve done anything to protect you in this world. I’ve spent every day since your… since his murder feeling as if I didn’t do enough to protect him.”
“Because of the prophecy?” Harry questioned.
Dumbledore frowned. “What prophecy?”
Harry inclined his head and then pulled the prophecy orb from the interior pocket on his cloak. He brushed the fingers of his wand hand over it and it activated.
“Oh.” Dumbledore took a deep breath. “That’s why—that’s why he killed them all.”
“Killed who?” Harry questioned.
“He killed… six children over that summer and fall—all of them born in the summer the year before. Even a few of his own follower’s children. It must have been shortly after this prophecy was given.” Dumbledore stared at the orb sadly. “The most heinous of those murders was that of young Malfoy. The Dark Lord cut down both of his parents and allowed Bellatrix LaStranger to… torture the babe to death.”
Harry closed his eyes and nodded. The pull of magic hadn’t been the same. He’d known, instinctually, that Draco Malfoy was dead in this world. “I see.”
“Your gift,” Dumbledore murmured. “The one you search for—you seek a soul mate?”
“Yes, but he’s dead in this world. I don’t know why the magic brings me to worlds where he is not here. There is nothing for me here. Nothing.” Harry rubbed the bridge of his nose. He hadn’t had glasses for over a year—the spell to correct his vision had been considered dark magic by the ministry but it had just required more power than the average wizard had. In fact most often it was conducted within the confines of a conclave—organizations outlawed by the ministry of his world. He’d joined his first conclave shortly after his fifteenth birthday.
He spent a few minutes outlining the horcruxes Voldemort made in his world and where they’d been hidden. Then he handed Dumbledore a scroll—one he had duplicated nearly twenty times.
“What is this?” Albus questioned.
“It is a ritual,” Harry murmured. “You’ll need a full conclave to perform it – a dual coven would be even better.”
“What does it do?”
“It will release the magic of this world—rendering you all squibs including Voldemort. No one will escape it. If you don’t—he’ll lead your entire world to ruin, Albus. Not even the muggles will survive. You have a duty to the greater good, you know that. You’ll know when the time comes to perform the ritual, when there is nothing left to fight for. Without magic, Voldemort won’t be able to remain here.”
“To take all the magic.”
“Better a world without magic than a world without life,” Harry said softly. “Magic will take care of her own. Shortly before the magic started to flee from our world—the magical creatures began to disappear. Hermione theorized they were taken into other worlds. Dobby,” he began and the elf lowered his hood. “Dobby was from a world where magic was retreating—we don’t know if magic made that choice or if someone released it. The magical creatures all disappeared. Only he remained—we believe he was waiting for me.”
Dumbledore nodded. He stood and took the scroll to his desk. “You could stay with us—fight here. Save us.”
“I really can’t,” Harry admitted. He waved a hand to reveal the hour glass. “I’m at the mercy of the ritual I cast until I accept a soul mate. Draco is dead on this world—there is no hope that I can stay. I’m sorry, Albus. I really am.”
Dumbledore stared at the hour glass for a few seconds, watching the sand pool at the bottom. “Fate is a harsh mistress, Mr. Potter.”
“I don’t know why he killed them all,” Harry said. “The prophecy cleared stated that his equal would be born in July. He really should’ve only targetted your Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom.”
“Perhaps he didn’t learn the entire prophecy,” Dumbledore said. “Or it could be different in our world—have you encountered a world where the prophecy or even the chosen one was different?”
“It is most often myself or Neville Longbottom,” Harry admitted. “In one world, Draco Malfoy was the Boy Who Lived but his own father killed him before he even attended in Hogwarts. That’s a prevalent theme—Lucius Malfoy killing his own son in revenge or to prevent him from bonding with his soul mate.”
“I fear for you, lad,” Albus admitted. “All that you’ve already seen—all that you might see before you find your place in the universe. I’m afraid that you might eventually break under the stress and strain of it.”
“The magic protects me after a fashion,” Harry admitted. “It dulls the pain of each hour I spend on a world that is not for me—heals any wounds that I might suffer. Since the ritual was built on sacrificial magic—it’s very protective. My mother’s love shields me, Albus. She’ll protect me until I find a world to be my own.”
“Good.” Albus nodded. “I have something… for you.” He went to a bookshelf and pulled a slim brown hard bound book from it. “Can you take things with you?”
“Yes,” Harry admitted but didn’t elaborate. He certainly wasn’t going to admit to the contents of the leather pouch that he carried nor the one the that Dobby carried—each full of shrunken trunks full of gold, books, and other items they’d looted from his own vaults on multiple dead worlds.
“Take this,” Albus said quietly. “Have you seen it before?”
Harry took the slim book and let his fingers brush over the title. The Archmagus by Niall Gryffindor. “On my own world, I’d heard of it but never seen it. I searched for it in the final days before the ritual. I believe that my Dumbledore must have destroyed it shortly before his own death to prevent my secrets from being revealed. He was the only one who even suspected that I might be an archmagus. How did… how did you know?”
“The moment you passed through the wards, your magic invigorated our protections and even the warding stone of Hogwarts. As I am keyed to them directly—I felt it. Very few magical beings have the ability to directly impact the wards of such a magical place.” Dumbledore stood and walked to stand by his fire. “Rest, lad, just rest and spend what little time you have left here in peace. I won’t request more from you.”
Harry relaxed in the chair and nodded. “Thank you.”
– – – –
Turn One-Hundred Seventy-Three
Harry slid to his knees, holding a trembling Dobby. “Don’t die. Don’t die.”
“I is okay,” Dobby whispered, his fingers clenching on Harry’s cloak. “Magic made me better.”
Harry loosened his hold on the elf and with a wave of his hand cleaned the blood from his cloak and the long tunic he wore. “I never expected… Merlin… that was a fucking nightmare.”
Dobby nodded and rubbed his chest and prodded the hole where the blade had cut the cloth as it had pierced his body. “Very bad place, Harry Potter, it was very bad place.”
“It was,” Harry agreed.
The sun wasn’t shining and the day was cool—edging towards the winter. They were at the edge of the Forbidden Forest and Hogwarts loomed in this distance.
Harry looked up and sighed at the familiar lumbering form of Hagrid. The half-giant was always the same—gentle, careful, and glad to see him. It was a relief to find such a friendly face after the last world he’d been on.
“That be my name,” the man said jovially and held out a hand to help Harry stand. “Been a while since I’ve seen anyone around these parts—what with the ban on magical travel.”
Harry nodded. “Right. Do you live here?”
“The Ministry kept me on after they closed the school,” Hagrid explained. “Needed someone to keep an eye on things while they discuss the future.”
“Future.” Harry bit down on his bottom lip. “I see.” He didn’t feel the pull of Draco’s magic so he knew that he wouldn’t be staying in this place. He lowered his hood and watched the half-giant closely as he stared. “Do you know who I am?”
“I…” Hagrid frowned. “I feel like I should know you, lad. Have we met?”
“Tell me, Hagrid, what happened to Harry James Potter in this world?”
“Oh.” Hagrid sighed. “The poor lad was killed when he was just five years old by his muggle relatives. Dumbledore… well, he lost his positions because of it. No one could trust him anymore because he let that poor little babe down so.”
Harry nodded. “And the Dark Lord?”
“He came back a few years back—killed Neville Longbottom. It’s too dangerous for the school now—all of the muggle born and half-blood children were sent abroad at first. Then their parents followed and soon all that was left were the pure bloods.”
“And you,” Harry said. “You stayed.”
“Aye, I did but I’m leaving soon. I have a position with a dragon preserve, you see.” Hagrid motioned him into the hut and Harry let himself be seated at the table. He accepted the expected rock cake with a little ache deep in his chest. He’d never be able to say no to a rock cake.
“That sounds like a dream come true for you,” Harry murmured. “Can I tell you a story, Hagrid?”
“I love a good story,” Hagrid smiled broadly.
– – – –
Turn One-Hundred Eighty-Six
Draco Malfoy burst out of the front doors of Hogwarts before Harry was even half way across the courtyard, a handful of professors at his back calling for him to stop. Dumbledore threw up a hastily created dueling ward and Harry stopped. Draco’s hair was short—pretty rare, most of the versions he’d met of the young man were fond of wearing their hair longer than even Harry wore his.
“Who are you?” Draco demanded fiercely from one side of the glowing ward. “What are you doing to my magic?”
Harry smiled. “That’s not me… exactly… it’s Fate giving you a little nudge.” Dobby leaned against his side and Harry let himself relax a little. A semi-friendly conversation was a vast improvement. “Are you aware that you’re outside in your night clothes?”
Draco flushed and huffed. “You woke me from a dead sleep!”
“And frazzled him so that he violated all of the safety protocols of this castle,” Severus Snape said silkily, shifting around so that he was closer to both of them. “Show us your face, stranger.”
Instead, Harry bared both of his forearms and showed them instead. Then he pulled his wand, placed the tip to heart, and swore on his magic that he wished no one harm that didn’t mean him harm. It was an easy oath to take—most people meant it on a fundamental level and Harry was no exception. He’d never hurt anyone who hadn’t hurt him first.
“I must speak with Albus Dumbledore.”
Albus stepped free from the crowd of professors and older students. “I am here.”
“I am a traveler guided by love and magic seeking the most magical of gifts.”
Albus blinked in surprise and moved forward until he was between Severus and the ward. “Young man—we welcome you to Hogwarts.”
“Albus,” Severus hissed. “This could be a trick.”
“He’s already surpassed all of the intent wards, Snape,” Remus Lupin snapped. “Even the ones that we have to regularily pull you through.”
Harry would’ve smirked at Snape if he wasn’t still wearing his hood. As it was, Dobby snickered. Snape glared at the elf and Harry moved in front of him instinctually.
“Don’t even think about it, Snape. I’ve killed in his defense before and trust me when I say he’s not had much to laugh about in years.”
“You’ve killed in the defense of your house elf?” Snape demanded snidely.
Harry took a step back from the ward and Draco made a wounded sound. “I must ask a series of questions.”
“Ask,” Draco demanded hoarsely. “Please ask.”
“Who is the Minister for Magic.”
“Amelia Bones. She took Cornelius Fudge’s place after he was killed shortly after the resurrection of the Dark Lord.” Malfoy shuddered and tried to move closer.
“The Dark Lord,” Harry repeated. “Also known as Voldemort or Tom Riddle?”
“Yes,” Dumbledore answered and put a calming hand on Draco. “We’ve been at war for over five years. Voldemort used the Philosopher’s Stone to return to life.”
That was a fucking nightmare, Harry thought wildly. It was a new circumstance—not one he’d seen repeated on any other world he’d visited. “This is the Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix then?”
“Yes, after a fashion. I closed the wards two years ago and I haven’t allowed the children to leave the school’s land since the fighting began in earnest. Voldemort hasn’t tried to attack us in nearly a year but we must be on our guard at all times.”
He focused on Draco who was pale now, his fingers trembling. “You’re a Veela.”
“Yes,” Draco whispered. “Half. My father is a half-Veela. When it is dominant—even a small amount of Veela blood will register has half. My mother is a witch.”
“You’re mating urge has emerged.”
Draco nodded. “Please stop backing away from me.”
“I want you to know that if I don’t get to stay that it wasn’t your fault and that in no way is it a rejection of you. The magic won’t let us connect if we aren’t perfect for each other,” Harry said quietly.
“Not stay?” Draco demanded. “You must stay! You must.” He tried to step forward but Snape grabbed him. “Please. You must stay.”
“As long as we don’t touch, your mating drive will go dormant if I leave,” Harry said quietly. “It’s best that we not touch.” He revealed the hour glass with sweep of his hand. “My time is limited.” He focused on Dumbledore. “Where is your Harry Potter?”
“Killed during his first year trying to save the Philosopher’s Stone,” Dumbledore said quietly. “He was left to die of his wounds due to his friend’s fear. I found him too late.”
Harry blinked in surprise. “Not Hermione.”
Dumbledore shook his head. “No, of course, not. The poor girl was inconsolable when Harry died. She didn’t return her second year. She is being schooled in America at Salem.”
Ron Weasley had gone with him to rescue the stone. Who was the third in their Golden Trio? Merlin, he was almost afraid to ask. “Then who?”
“Ron Weasley,” Draco said quietly. “He ran and hid when Voldemort was resurrected and didn’t tell anyone about Harry or Hermione down in the traps. She was just unconscious from magical exhaustion but Harry bled to death.”
His stomach clenched in disgust and horror. He’d grown up with Ron Weasley—there had never been a braver or more loyal friend for him. His Ron had died defending Hermione from Death Eaters—even as she lay dying Ron didn’t stop until there was no hope and then he, too fell.
“Did you know him?” He asked Draco.
“We were practically raised together,” Draco said quietly. “Harry was my best friend and… I believed he was my mate until tonight. Until I felt you.”
“Raised together?” Harry frowned.
“Our mothers are the best of friends,” Draco explained quietly. “His mother is my godmother. His godfather is my cousin on the Black side of the family.”
“Your father isn’t a Death Eater?”
Draco reeled back in shock, clearly horrified. “Of course not, Merlin, the Death Eaters are… blood purists and my father is a Veela. The entire Malfoy line descend from Veela royalty.”
He looked towards the hourglass and it was glowing blue the same as always. His magic was telling him that they were being honest with him. Since it had all began—lies were easy to detect. Harry frowned and bit down on his lip. The times that it had been glowing white returned to him in flashes of memory—in each one it was after he’d revealed his identity. The acceptance went both ways, he thought.
“Is James or Lily Potter here?”
“Here,” Lily said quietly. She pulled a dark haired man along with her out of the crowd of adults. “We are here.”
“Tell me…” Harry paused and cleared his throat. “Tell me about you.”
Lily smiled sadly and raised an eyebrow. “I have four children—Harry, Adam, Elizabeth, and Della. Adam, Elizabeth, and Della are all in school. Della is a first year—she was sorted into Ravenclaw much to the horror of practically everyone but her. James and I are professors here—I teach NEWT level Charms and Transfigurations. He teaches DADA. We came here as teachers when Adam… for Adam’s first year. We couldn’t… risk… it was difficult losing Harry like we did.”
Harry nodded. “Who is the Boy Who Lived?”
She frowned and shared a look with her husband before looking towards Dumbledore. “I’m afraid I don’t catch your meaning, young man.”
“On my world, a prophecy was told of a chosen one who would be born as the seventh month dies. He was prophesized to defeat Voldemort. A few months after his first birthday, Voldemort found him and his parents in hiding—he murdered his parents and tried to kill him. But for some reason the Killing Curse didn’t work on the Chosen One and he was spared. The magical backlash vanquished Voldemort.” He paused. “You said Voldemort returned over six years ago? Where had he been?”
Lily’s mouth trembled. “There was a prophecy? Is that why he came?” She closed her eyes. “It happened much the way you said—except James and I weren’t at home. Sirius was watching Harry when it happened—Sirius was near mortally wounded when we found him and Harry had a cut on his forehead but… we didn’t know what had happened. Sirius didn’t know either. He remembered being in a dual with his brother and then nothing. We had no idea that the killing curse had struck Harry.”
“So he grew up normal here—with a normal family,” Harry said wistfully.
“Yes,” Lily whispered. “Until… until the Dark Lord succeeded in killing him during his first year here at Hogwarts.”
It was too much, Harry thought. He’d never find a place in a world where their Harry Potter had lived so long. The hour glass was spinning gently—glowing a gentle blue. Dobby trembled beside him, his fingers curling into his robe.
“Easy,” Harry whispered, his hand curled around the elf’s shoulder.
“It’s so nice here,” Dobby whispered. “Why magic not like it?”
“I don’t know,” Harry said simply. He closed his eyes briefly aware that the pull between himself and Draco Malfoy was already ebbing away. “You feel it leaving?”
“Yes,” Draco said in a small wounded voice. “Why? Why won’t… you’re rejecting me!”
“No,” Harry snapped. He opened his eyes immediately. “I am not rejecting you, Draco. Don’t you dare let your nature get the better of you in this.” He watched the blond flush with a mixture of anger and shame. “Fate is a fickle and cruel bitch. She tears at us all—twists the world with all of her strength. You already have a mate, Draco. Deep down you know that but you’ve let your grief for your friend cloud your judgment.”
“Can I see you?” Draco questioned. “Can I see I your face?”
“It would be the cruelest thing I could do,” Harry said shortly. He took another step back from the shield that Dumbledore hadn’t vanished. “Albus, you are aware that Voldemort split his soul?” He watched the older man’s eyes widen. “I see you weren’t. On my world, he did it eight times and on others he did it just seven. The eighth on my world was accidental.”
“Do you know what he’s using to anchor them?” Albus asked, his voice hoarse with shock.
“It differs from world to world.” He rummaged through his pouch and pulled out two parchments which he sat on the ground in front of him before taking another few steps back. “I’ve listed all of the ways that I know. The other scroll is… a ritual of last resort. There may come a day when the cost of the greater good will be… dire.”
“I understand,” Dumbledore said softly.
He nodded and turned to leave.
“Wait.” Lily Potter hurried forward, letting go of her husband’s hand. “Wait, Harry, don’t… please.”
“Lily, it’s not…” James trailed off as Harry turned around and paled. “Are you… Merlin… are you my son?”
“No, Lord Potter,” Harry said with some regret and slowly lowered his hood. He took a deep breath at the choked sounds that came from Remus Lupin and Snape. “I am not your son. I’m the son of a different James Potter.” He cleared his throat at the soft agonized sound Malfoy made. “Draco, thank you so much for being his friend. I never had that honor on my world. I can’t imagine he would have valued a good friend any less than I do.”
Draco took a deep breath. “The urge is completely gone now.”
“Look at this as closure, then.” Harry inclined his head and glanced down at Dobby who had slowly pushed back his hood. “This guy familiar to you?”
Draco smiled suddenly. “Dobby.”
Dobby leaned against Harry like a shy child. “Good eve, Master Dragon.”
“You’ll take care of him?” Draco asked.
Dobby nodded with solemnly. “With all my magics.”
“Harry.” Lily came to a stop in front of the shield. It shimmered against her magic. “Harry.”
“Your Harry died trying to do the right thing,” Harry said softly. “I can’t say that I won’t eventually do the same thing. It’s in… my soul to fight.”
She nodded and tears slid down her pale cheeks. “You’re… beautiful.”
Harry blinked and then offered his father a rather wry smile. “Most people say that I look just like my father. I think that might make you a little bias.”
“No,” Draco whispered. “Not at all, you’re beautiful. I always thought so… even when were five and you stole your dad’s broom to fly all the way to Malfoy Manor because you got mad at your parents.”
“I trust he was properly punished for that,” Harry said gently.
“As much as I was for hiding him for two hours in my walk-in closet,” Draco admitted.
The soft hoot of an owl caught Harry’s attention and he turned slightly to see Hedwig perched on a low wall that surrounded the courtyard. “Oh.”
“She hasn’t…” Lily trailed off. “She hasn’t let anyone touch her since our Harry died.”
Harry held out his hand and the owl lifted without a sound to sail across the court yard to land on his arm gently. “Hello, beautiful. I’ve missed you.” She twittered gently and rubbed her head against his cheek, mussing his hair. “I lost my Hedwig two years ago—she was killed by a Death Eater.” He stroked her feathers and looked at the Potters.
“Take her,” James said hoarsely. “Take her with you if you can. I’m surprised she didn’t die of a broken heart when our Harry died.”
“If you’re sure?”
Lily laughed sadly. “I don’t think she’d forgive us for letting you leave without her.”
“Do you know why you can’t stay?” Draco asked. “Why the mating urge faded?”
“I think the mating urge only flared for you because of your grief over you losing your friend,” Harry said gently. “The Veela in you recognized my magic and it was confused for a little bit. We aren’t compatiable magically.”
“Because my I’m a half-Veela?” Draco questioned with a frown.
“No, because he’s an archmagus,” Dumbledore said quietly. “His soul mate must be his magical equal. Your Veela magic often overwhelms your magical core. You simply aren’t compatible. He’d… burn you out.”
“We weren’t made for each other,” Harry said somewhat sadly.
“What about my own Harry?” Draco demanded.
“I don’t know. I don’t think anyone can know.” The hourglass started to spin and the sand began swirling like a mini-tornado inside. “It is time.”
“Wait,” Albus called. “How did you defeat the Dark Lord on your world?”
“We destroyed our world, Albus. We fought until there was nothing left—not even the muggles survived it.” He lifted his chin. “If Harry was your Chosen One, Fate would’ve never allowed him to die that day. I think you know who has the power to end this war in your world.”
“He’s so young.”
“So am I,” Harry said shortly. “War is no place for childhood dreams. Teach him, Albus. Don’t leave him unprepared. Don’t underestimate Voldemort and respect the gifts magic has given you.”
“I won’t forget,” Albus said carefully. “Thank you, young man, I wish you peace.”
– – – –
Turn Two-hundred Thirty
Hogwarts was nothing but a burnt out shell. Harry was sitting by the lake, ignoring the snack Dobby had laid out for him. The centaur had appeared across from him nearly ten minutes before. “Go tell him that I only have forty-five minutes left on this world. If he has questions—he should come, now.”
Dobby nodded. “Yes, Master Harry.” The elf popped away, spoke to the startled centaur then returned to Harry’s side. “He comes.”
It was Bane. The last centaur Harry would expect to be curious about him. He wondered what kind of reception he could expect from him. The Bane of his world had been cold, heartless, and completely without a single good opinion of wizardkind. He’d never stumbled across a centaur in his dimensional travels.
“Harry Potter,” Bane said shortly. “You should not remain here—this world is dying.”
“I can see that,” Harry agreed. “Are you the last of your kind here?”
“I hold the last of our magic,” Bane said. “The others are gone.”
“Magic took them to a different place perhaps?”
“Dead,” Bane said. “In the wizarding war.” He paused. “Just like you—you’re dead.”
“Did your Harry Potter defeat Voldemort?”
Bane snorted but nodded. “They killed each other—the rest of the magical world followed. It was as if they ripped magic open—tore it asounder in a way that it could not recover.”
“They probably did,” Harry murmured. “Did you need something from me? I know of a few worlds—other dimensions where your kind flourish. There must be others—you could travel with us.”
Bane shook his head. “I am not meant to leave this world. I did not know, at first, why I survived when the rest of my kind succombed to the muggle diseases. Then I started to see you in visions.”
Harry stared. “I’ve never known a centaur so direct in my life.”
Bane smirked. “Your Dobby did say you were short on time.” He held out both of his hands and with visible effort started to pool his magic. It shaped into a glowing yellow ball of energy and cackling magic. “This is for you.”
“You’ll die,” Harry said, staring at the bundle of wild magic Bane held out in front of him. “Are you sure…”
“It is my purpose,” Bane said shortly. “Fate is, indeed, a cruel mistress but I will join my own kind.”
“You… saw me say that in a vision?”
“Many times,” Bane admitted. “You’ve been traveling for a very long time Harry Potter.”
“Longer than I expected.” He stood up from the bank and stopped to stand in front of Bane. “I am honored to be trusted with such a gift.”
Bane held out the orb, his eyes already dulling. “To live and find happiness, Harry Potter, is all that you owe the world you left behind.”
He took the orb and it sank into his body with a small swoosh. His magic surged inside him and Bane sank to his knees. They were almost eye level now. Harry reached out and touched the centaur’s face. “May you live among the stars and see the far distant future, Bane son of Joidan.”
“Thank you,” Bane whispered fiercely.
Harry stumbled slightly as he guided the centaur down to the ground. He found himself sitting with Bane’s head in his lap and running his hands through thick dark hair. “Rest. You’re tired.”
“Wizards believe our kind cursed but you see, Harry Potter, you see that is not true.”
“Not cursed,” Harry agreed. Bane’s body heaved with a deep, ragged breath. “Dobby, fashion a raft quickly. One that will hold his weight and put as many anti-fire charms on it as you can manage.” He continued to comb his fingers through Bane’s hair. “On my world, you were a right arse to me.”
Bane laughed loud but brief. “I was on this world, too.” He grew serious. “But he died for us all—it was just too late. The muggles knew about us and the ministry didn’t protect us. They couldn’t even protect their own. The entire magical population died on this world because of their fear and hatred.”
Harry sighed. “It was much the same on my world.”
Dobby slid the make shift raft of logs he’d lashed together into the shallows of the lake and looked back expectantly.
Harry offered him a sad smile. “Are you in pain?”
“No,” Bane whispered. “I feel as if I should sleep.”
“Then sleep,” Harry murmured. “Sleep and remember the beauty of this world’s past. Children laughing and your younglings running in the forrest. They’re waiting for you on the other side – all those who loved you and whom you loved.”
“Sorry,” Bane whispered.
“Being an arsehole, on this world and yours. I shouldn’t have treated you like you were just like the rest. You were special—I knew it. I saw it. I just ignored it. It was short sighted.”
“You’re forgiven,” Harry murmured. He let his magic gather on his fingers as he touched Bane’s cheek, brushing away an unexpected tear from the centaur’s face. “Let go Bane, it’s alright.”
“Thank you,” Bane whispered. “Thank you for coming.”
The centaur gave one final shuddering breath and the tension drained from his body. Harry blinked in surprise then looked toward Dobby who was standing just to the side. “Okay, help me get him on the raft.”
Dobby levitated Bane easily with a wave of his hand and settled him on the raft. He gave the craft a little push with his magic and it drifted away from shore.
Harry conjured a dark blue ball of fire and threw it. Bane’s body was immediately enveloped.
Hedwig landed on his shoulder then, a fat mouse dangling in her mouth. Harry frowned in disgust but the owl just dug her talons in enough to let him know that his opinion on her diet was not her problem.
– – – –
Turn Two-Hundred Thirty-Two
He appeared at the edge of the Forbidden Forrest—it was the muggle security patrol that startled him most. There were magical wards all over the place – suppressing the magic of Hogwarts and those inside. He’d never seen anything like it. Dobby shivered against his side.
“Do we interfere?” Harry whispered.
“Not right—magic should be free.”
“I agree.” Harry lifted his hand and Hedwig flew up to land on a tree branch. “Do your hunting girl—my magic will pull you with us when it’s time to leave. I have to see what I can do for these people.”
He stunned the guards first—standing just short of the suppressing ward. Then he ordered Dobby to pop around on the outside to make sure they’d gotten them all. He tied the muggles up like mummies for good measure and then set about dismantling the ward. A small part of him was concerned—worried that he was unleashing something horrible but his instincts were rarely wrong. This ward felt oppressive and wrong. It felt like Tom Riddle’s magic which was surprising. Why on Earth would Riddle try to subdue other magicals for muggles?
The ward shattered under the brunt of his magic. He stepped onto the grounds of the school, finally, and cast a few more ropes around the captive muggles. The path up the school was well-tended, carefully so in a way that he’d never seen. Hogwarts had always had a very natural but somewhat wild look about the grounds. Hagrid hadn’t liked holding nature hostage to asetethics.
The front doors opened as he entered the court yard and he lowered his head as Albus Dumbledore stepped outside. Minerva McGonagal came with him—their hands clasped together tightly. Each had a wand drawn.
“Wizard,” Dumbledore began. “Are you responsible for taking down the ward that held us here?”
Harry lifted an eyebrow and then with a frown lowered his hood. “I am. I hope that I do not come to regret that decision.”
“You have acted against the law,” Dumbledore began. “We have been under muggle control for nearly two years.”
“Muggle laws have never really been much of a concern for me. Where is the ministry? Why did they let the ward remain in place?”
“We are all that is left of magical Britian,” Minerva whispered. “We have four hundred children in the castle—their families as well, at least the ones we could save. The muggles captured Voldemort and he made a deal with them—not realizing that he could not control them as he often controlled his own followers.”
“Abandoned for the most part,” Minerva said. “We’re allowed to travel there by train to retrieve supplies for potions but that is all. Voldemort’s wards suppress our magic.”
“Is he dead or alive?” Harry questioned.
“Dead. The muggles killed him after he’d erected the wards,” Dumbledore said. “But, he may very well return. Who are you?”
“I can say with some certainty that he will return and may God help the muggles when he does. He will not take their betrayal lightly. The resulting conflict could destroy life on this planet.” Harry pulled the scrolls from his pouch. “I have about forty minutes left before I’m forced to leave. I will go and destroy all the wards I can find—starting with Diagon Alley and working my way around to Hogsmeade.” He handed the scrolls to Albus. “These scrolls contain information that you might be useful to you, sir.”
“Who are you?” Minerva questioned. “The muggles have imprisoned every magical child they’ve found and all the ones we had on our rolls first—are here with us.”
“I am Harry James Potter—the son of James and Lily Potter, Heir Regent to the House of Gryffindor.” He offered her a formal bow. “I believe on this world I died quite young—I feel no remenants of my magic.”
“Yes, our Harry died when he was just a babe,” Albus said hoarsely. “Killed by Voldemort.”
Harry touched the scar on his forehead and nodded. “Do you have apparation coordinates for the facility they are using to imprison the muggle born?”
“It’s Azkaban,” Minerva whispered. “It is heavily warded as well.”
Harry grimaced. “Dumbledore, make as many portkeys as you can—all with the coordinates for the school. After I finish tearing down the wards—I’ll go the island and send the children here. My time may run short. I’ll do as much as I can before I’m forced to leave. Dobby will be helping me.” The elf appeared at his side. “Do you have house elves in the castle that can come with me?”
“Yes,” Albus agreed.
“Dobby, gather up any who can help,” Harry ordered. “I’ll start on the wards. Meet me on the shore near Azkaban.”
“Wait,” Minerva held out a hand. “Wait just a moment.” She rushed back into the castle and returned in under a minute carrying a small wood chest. “This is the muggle repelling stone we had in Diagon Alley. I rescued it the day before the final wards were put in place. Albus and I have both put additional charms on it. Once you place it and activate it – the muggles in Great Britian will start to forget us. In a week, maybe less we’ll have faded completely from their memory. Thankfully, we aren’t public knowledge—just the PM’s dirty little secret. It’s a modified Fidelus Charm so it should take care of any records they’ve kept as well.”
Harry nodded and accepted the chest. “You may have to do some oblivating as well.”
Albus smiled then. “My boy, I’m willing to visit every house on this entire bloody island personally.” He brandished his wand a little. “Visiting the Prime Minister sounds like a little more fun than I’ve had in years.”
Harry nodded. No matter what world he visited—Dumbledore was always kind of barmy. It was actually quite a comfort. “You give them hell, sir.”
– – – –
Turn Two-Hundred Forty-Six
The turning felt like a mixture of apparation and a portkey… without the part where he landed on his arse. Hedwig always appeared on his shoulder and Dobby on his left—his hand curled into Harry’s robes.
The pull towards Hogwarts was no less or more than it always was when Draco Malfoy was alive. He strode forward, confident and unafraid. So many turns into his quest there was really nothing left to fear. It was unnerving—after all he’d been traveling none stop through different worlds for more than ten days. Things should have started to get overwhelming—he should be on the edge of sanity. He really should be irritated how often he manages to pop into Hogwarts right around dinner time and Dumbledore has not once offered him a place to sit for a bloody meal.
The wards around the castle where strong, well designed but ulimately rather benign. The magic of this yet to be explored world was rich and heavy in the air. He stepped up to the front doors and pushed gently at them with his magic. Hogwarts immediately responded—the castle’s wards flexed and absorbed the pure magic he had to offer and the doors trembled slightly before falling open under the weight of his power.
It was, indeed, dinner time again but the tables in the great hall were packed full—full of more children than he’d ever seen at Hogwarts even during the Tri-Wizard tournament on his world. Dumbledore stood and came around the staff table with a bright smile. He approached with hands held out in an offer of greeting. Barmy Factor 10+, Harry thought wryly.
“Welcome to Hogwarts, stranger!” Dumbledore twinkled at him.
“I thank you for your kindness, Headmaster Dumbledore.” He shook the man’s hand in greeting and wasn’t surprised when a strong mind brushed over his mental shields. Dumbledore had never required eye contact to read someone’s mind. “I am a man seeking sanctuary in my greatest hour of need.”
Dumbledore nodded and took a step back. “Times are trying, of course, the war has stretched on for so long that at times I fear our world will never be the same.”
“How long has Voldemort been resurrected.”
Dumbledore tilted his head slightly. “Resurrected? He has been waging a war in the magical world for over twenty years, young man.”
“Oh.” Harry gasped in surprise. He glanced around the room—taking in the faces of children he knew and those he did not. The staff table was twice as large he expected to be and James Potter was sitting next to Lucius Malfoy. Harry blinked at that—it was certainly not a common accurrance. He sighed. “I’m going to ask a series of profoundly insulting questions, Albus.”
Dumbledore blinked and then smiled, small and obviously amused. “Then you may began at once.”
“Are you or anyone else in this castle a blood purist?”
“No, we provide shelter and sanctuary to all those who oppose Voldemort and his Death Eaters.”
Harry let his magic loose a little, tasting the truth of Dumbledore’s words. “Voldemort is Tom Riddle—a half-blood son of a near-squib and a muggle, right?”’
“That is not well known, but yes.”
Harry nodded. “He killed Harry Potter roughly fifteen years ago on October 31st because of a prophecy?”
Dumbledore stilled and nodded, his eyes grave. “Yes, he killed young Harry and his godfather, Sirius Black.”
Another world where Lily hadn’t been there to cast the runic magic that would’ve saved her son’s life. Harry looked at the staff table once more, focusing on the James Potter of this world briefly. He could see several magical bonds flowing off the man—familial bonds. He had a wife and children in this world.
“Who is the Minister for Magic?”
“I am.” Lucius stood. “I have served in that post for the last ten years—the Ministry itself has continued to operate and exist out of Hogwarts for the last three years—since Voldemort destroyed our building in London.”
Harry nodded. “And you are not and never have been a Death Eater, Lord Malfoy?”
Lucius’ mouth dropped open briefly. “No, young man, I have not. I declared a blood feud on the House of Gaunt when Tom Riddle murdered my father for his refusal to join the Death Eaters.”
Good way to get elected Minister for Magic, Harry thought. He nodded. “I apologize if I’ve offended you, sir.”
“I am not offended.” Lucius regained his seat and tilted his head. “I am… intrigued. Tell us where you come from, stranger.”
Harry waved a hand to reveal the dimenionsal hour glass which was glowing white. It hadn’t glowed in white nearly twenty turns. For a few seconds, he could only stare. “I am a traveler—seeking the most magical of gifts. I come from a dead world—ravaged by magical and muggle war. The last survivor.”
“The most magical of gifts,” Albus repeated. “You seek your soul mate.”
“There is no greater magical gift,” Harry said carefully.
“How many worlds have you searched?” James Potter questioned.
“Over two-hundred,” Harry answered. He looked around the room—forcing himself to start at the Gryffindor table. Hermione Granger was staring at him intently. “Tell me, Miss Granger, what do you think of the magical world?”
Hermione’s gaze widened. “I… when I first learned that I was a witch… my excitement knew no bounds. I thought perhaps I might literally bounce out of my skin.”
“Then you learned about the war.”
“Yes,” Hermione nodded. “And I was still so… very pleased to know that there others like me. All of my life, I had felt as if I didn’t fit in with muggle children I went to school with. I couldn’t… be like them. I found the world too fascinating. I found knowledge too addictive. It wasn’t until I learned that I was a witch that I found out that the qualities I’d been teased about where quite common for witches with great gifts in spell crafting and design. Hogwarts has taught me to accept and celebrate who I am.”
“You don’t regret coming here? Not even with the war and bigotry that Tom Riddle tauts?”
“His hypocracy is a stain on the magical world, yes, but I have faith he will be defeated.” Hermione bit down on her bottom lip. “Why do you want to know?”
“On my world—you were the brightest witch of your age. You found and taught me the spell that allowed me to leave my world when I was the last one to remain. On other worlds, you are just as bright and just as brave as the Hermione I grew up with. But on some—you hate magic, you hate the magical world and all that it has to offer because of the bigotry and the double standards and the pure blood propaganda that was thrown in your face from minute one of your introduction into the magical world.”
Her eyes widened. “Oh.” She tilted her head. “On your world—where were you sorted?”
“The Hat wanted to put me in Slytherin but I talked him into putting me in Gryffindor,” he admitted with a smirk and everyone in the room laughed a little. “I was determined to get into the same house as the pretty little girl from the train.”
Hermione flushed and shook her head. “Did that work on your Hermione?”
“Not in the least,” Harry said cheerfully. “She lectured me every hour that she was awake until I lost her.” He sobered and cleared his throat. “I couldn’t have asked for a better, smarter, more loyal friend. She was my sister in magic.”
He glanced over the Weasleys—sort of stunned to see both Bill and Charlie sitting near the end of the table. There were other adults at the Gryffindor table as well—Remus and Tonks to be specific. He turned to the Huffelpuffs—taking in their earnest faces before he settled on the Ravenclaws. “Hello Luna.”
“Hello.” Luna smiled. “Do you think it’s time for you to stay?”
“I don’t know for sure. What do the nargles have to say about it?”
“They think we’re a pretty good fit,” Luna said mysteriously and lifted her chin when several people around her snickered.
Harry nodded. “I think so, too. I’ve always found the nargles to be very helpful if one only stop to listen carefully. Mage sight is so rare in someone so very young—I’m glad to see you have it under control in this world.”
“Some Lunas suffer,” Luna offered. “Because when their mother didn’t give them her magic when she died.” She touched her breast bone. “I carry my mother’s magic—it protects me from the information I can not comprehend.”
“A mother’s love is like no other,” Harry said by way of agreement. He finally settled his gaze on the Slytherin table and found Draco standing and glaring at him pointedly. “Hello, Dragon, forgive me for keeping you waiting—I’ve turned so many times that I find lately I try to stave off the disappointment as long as possible.”
Draco huffed and shushed a young boy with the same pale blond hair with one hand. “I’m not a Death Eater.”
“No, of course not,” Harry agreed. “If there is a universal truth in all the worlds I’ve visited it is that you are loyal to the point of stupid to your sire.”
Draco flushed. “There is nothing wrong with being my father’s son.”
“There doesn’t appear to be on this world,” Harry said. “That’s unfortunately not always the case. Are you betrothed, engaged, magically bonded or anyway promised to another human being on this planet?”
Draco smirked. “No. Though my father keeps trying to encourage me to form such an arrangement.”
“Are you straight?” Harry asked dryly.
“I am open to possibilities,” Draco said diplomatically and grinned when his own father snorted in amusement. “It’s fortunate my father loves me to the point of stupid.”
“Indeed,” Harry agreed. “I need to ask one of those profoundly rude questions.”
“The one about my love life wasn’t profoundly rude?”
Draco sighed. “Go ahead.”
“Is your Veela heritage dormant and will it remain so?” He paused. “Don’t deflect and don’t lie.”
Draco shared a look with his father and Harry wasn’t surprised to find Lucius rather pale, even for a Malfoy. He cleared his throat and took a deep breath. “It is dormant and there is every reason to believe it will remain that way. How on bloody Earth did you know about it?”
“I’ve seen you in full shifted bird form on three different worlds,” Harry said. “On another—you appeared to have the dormant characteristics but my magic interacting with you –threw you into a mating heat.”
“And that’s bad?”
“His magic isn’t compatiable with a Veela,” Albus surmised.
Draco lifted one fine blond eyebrow. “What are you, then?”
“An archmagus,” Harry murmured and around the room came to utter silent stand still. “Tell me, Draco, do you believe in destiny?”
“I didn’t,” Draco admitted. “I never even come close to wanting to see the Book of Souls—a lot of children make something of a priligremage of it after they turn eleven. I didn’t. It seemed like knowing if I had a soul mate was some how taking away my free will.”
“I didn’t know I was lonely until you arrived—I felt you before you even passed through the castle wards.” He glanced towards the hour glass and then at his father. “How will you decide?”
“Magic will decide for me,” Harry admitted. “I ask questions—out of curiousity and the desire to know why I’m being denied the sanctuary I fought so hard for.”
“You fought in the war on your world then,” Draco said.
“I ended the war on my world,” Harry responded. “I saw magical combat for the first time when I was just fourteen. My godfather had trained me my entire life for it—I took out half a dozen Death Eaters when they kidnapped me from the school during the Triwizard Tournament during my fourth year. To say they weren’t prepared for me to react like a seasoned auror is something of an understatement.”
“Oh.” Draco exhaled sharply and nodded. “Then your godfather was a good man.”
“The best I’ve ever known,” Harry said without hesitation. He turned back to the staff table and slowly lowered his hood. “He sacrificed for me repeatedly and without hesitation until the day he died taking a curse for me.”
James Potter stood immediately, his face rapidly paling even as a woman came from the shadows behind the staff table. Immediately, half the people he knew to be in the Order of the Phoenix on his world followed. Harry glanced just once at Molly Weasley before focusing on his father.
“Are you…” James cleared his throat and braced himself on the table in front of. “Merlin.”
“No, but people have often made that mistake,” Harry smirked when James laughed abruptly. He sobered. “I am Harry James Potter-Black, Lord of the Ancient and Noble House of Black, Heir Regent to the House of Gryffindor, and on my world the Last Scion of the House of Potter.” He glanced towards the Gryffindor table—taking in the three children that were quite familiar to him. Orion, Adam, and Della Potter. There was no Elizabeth at the Ravenclaw table. “But I see on this world that, that honor belongs to another.”
Lily Potter came to stand beside her husband, her face just as pale and drawn as James’. Hedwig flew through one of the high windows and Harry held out a hand for her. She landed on his forearm with a graceful swoosh of her wings and Dobby pressed close as the hourglass started shift and turn—glowing whiter than it ever had before.
“Wait,” Draco called out and rushed around the table. Only his father’s astoundingly quick response kept him from coming closer. “Let me go, Father.”
“He’s right,” Harry said. “You should stay back. I don’t know what the magic is… going to do.” He focused on Lily Potter. She had followed Lucius around the table. “Everytime I see you – I can’t get over how amazing you are.”
“You were raised by Sirius,” Lily whispered. “James and I… died?”
“You died for me,” Harry said bluntly. “You sacrificed yourselves so that I could live. It is that sacrificial magic that is guiding me now—leading me to a place where I can be safe.”
Lily swallowed hard. “I had the ritual ready—you can’t know how often we have wondered how things would’ve been if we hadn’t gone away that day. I just needed… a change of bloody scenery.” She bit down on her lip. “You’re beautiful.”
Harry blushed. “Merlin, you always say that.”
She laughed. “It’s true—your magic is alluring and amazing. I’ve never, ever been in a room with anyone like you before.”
The hourglass started to spin wildly and Draco jerked against his father’s hold. “No. Don’t you dare leave! Our world isn’t perfect but you can’t say that the next one will be either. Stay with us!”
“The choice isn’t mine,” Harry said his eyes soft and filled with wonder. “It’s always been about you—Draco—on every world. Every time I’ve encountered a version of you—it was you who spurned the reaction of the ritual.” The hourglass disappeared and his vision went black almost immediately.
– – – –
“Yous not give my Master Harry any potions that I not know!” Dobby shouted and spread his arms in front of the bed where they’d brought his master after he’d fainted in the hall. “Stays back!”
Poppy regarded the little elf with impatient amusement. “Shall I take a vow on my magic not to hurt your Master Harry?”
Dobby glared at her shrewdly. “Yes.”
The amusement drained away from her face. “I would never harm a patient.”
“So they all says!” Dobby pointed a finger at her. “Then on the one world you tried to stab him and on another you lets a bad Dumbledore give him a love potion! Bads people! Every new place had bads people! They hurt us, tried to keep us—tried to kill us when we could not stay!” Dobby was trembling with the magical strain of the shield he’d kept around himself and Harry for the last hour.
Poppy came to stand just outside the shield and got down on her knees so she was eye level with Dobby. She pulled her wand carefully and placed it over her heart. “I, Poppy Pomfrey, do solemnly swear on my life and magic that I will allow no harm to come to Lord Harry James Potter-Black while he is in my care as a patient. I will allow no one to interfere in his health, his mind, or his wishes until which time he is capable of handling his own affairs. So mote it be.”
Dobby slumped then his eyes rolled back into his head and he fainted too. Hedwig, from her perched position on the head of the bed, hooted indignantly.
– – – –
She cleared her throat and took a seat. Her fingers curling around the tea cup that Lily Potter slid into place in front of her. “He’s been through—a great deal. His magical core is expansive and fully developed—rare for a man his age. He makes every appearance of being just sixteen years old—on par with where our Harry would be if he had lived.” She glanced briefly at the Potters before continueing. “There are curse scars—not just the one on his forehead all of which are as healed as they ever will be. He’s broken the majority of his ribs, both legs, and both arms sometime within the last two years as they have all been regrown.”
“Merlin,” Minerva whispered. “He’s just a boy!”
“And at one point during the last two years,” Albus murmured. “He became the Leader of the Light on his world, Minerva. He all but said it in the hall.” He glanced towards the Malfoys and found Draco staring into his tea cup. “This is a great deal to take in.”
Poppy nodded. “He and his elf are magically exhausted. The elf more so than Harry—he appeared to be moderating their bond so as not to take as much ambient magic as he needed from his Master. I’ve never seen an elf do that before. I had to make a vow on my magic to not harm Harry before the elf would let me treat either one of them. I tried to send the owl to the owlery and she all but attacked me in response.”
“They are all three magically bonded together,” Albus said. “You can see the bonds trailing off Harry—how he managed to bring both a familiar and a house elf through that ritual is astounding.”
“When will he wake up?” James Potter asked. “I’d like to see him as soon as he does.”
Poppy paused and then took a deep breath. “You can’t… James… you can’t expect him to want to be with your family like one of your children. In all the ways that matter, he is a grown man with more war experience than many sitting at this table. I should warn you that the House of Black has accepted him—in this world as its Lord. I spelled his medical records and his name appeared as Harry James Potter-Black, Lord of the House of Black. The Sirius of his world must have used a blood magic adoption ritual.”
James nodded. “He’s also my son, Poppy, in all the ways that matter to me. He needs a home and a family –for all the reasons you stated. Lily and I are of one mind on this issue. He is still under age and I’ve already filed the proper paperwork with Lucius regarding his guardianship. I don’t want to take anything from him—even in our world Sirius made Harry his heir. Sirius had no intention of ever having his own children.” He cleared his throat. “We just want to protect him, Poppy, he obviously hasn’t had anyone to do that since his godfather died on his own world.”
“No, I agree,” Poppy paused and frowned. “I don’t know how to treat his magical exhaustion.”
“What do you mean?” Draco demanded. “You can’t treat him like you would one of us?”
Poppy exhaled. “I’m not sure what would happen if I gave a fully developed archmagus a pepper up potion and I can’t ask him. His magical core is harvesting wild magic from his surroundings. Shortly before I left the infirmary, his elf woke up and erected some kind of magical shield around him. It was so thick with magic that in some places it was opaque. I have a colleague in France who has experience with healing and treating an archmagus though it was nearly a hundred years ago. I’ll contact her once I’ve confirmed that is okay that I do so with Lord Black.”
“As his legal guardians, James and Lily can offer you that permission,” Lucius said setting aside his tea.
“No.” Poppy shook her head. “You all need to keep in mind that we are dealing with the most powerful magical being on the planet. You can talk about legal rights and his being a minor all you want but that doesn’t change what he is. I believe he has the right to choose whether or not he accepts anyone’s guardianship.”
Lily put her hand on James’ arm when he started to protest. “No, she’s right. We can’t just start making decisions for him like what he wants is unimportant. It would be presumptious and cruel. As much as I wish it were true—he’s not our Harry. We owe it to him to get to know who he is and hope that he can accept us in his life as his parents.”
James huffed but nodded. “I just…” He swallowed hard. “There hasn’t been a day that has gone by when I didn’t wonder what Harry would have turned out to be. To have even a version from another world here is – it’s such an overwhelming gift.” He rubbed his face with both hands then focused on Dumbledore. “What did he mean by Heir Regent of Gryffindor. That isn’t a title that runs in my family.”
Dumbledore pursed his lips and turned to stare at the Sorting Hat. “Terrance?”
The Hat’s mouth split wide and it wriggled a little on the shelf. “The Heir Regent of Gryffindor is a magical title acknowledged and bestowed by Hogwarts herself based on merit and purity of soul. It requires personal sacrifice, profound and unequaled magical power, and a vow of loyalty to Hogwarts herself.”
Dumbledore stare at the Hat for a few seconds. “Personal sacrifice?”
If the Hat could have looked abashed, it would have. Terrence cleared his throat. “Chastity, Albus, until which time he is magically bound to a soul mate.”
Draco blinked just once and averted his gaze. “What did he get in return?”
“Hogwarts woke in him the power of an archmagus,” Terrence explained. “The same power he will wake in his bonded soul mate upon their union.”
More than one person turned to look at Draco Malfoy
“I won’t have my son pressured into a relationship like this, Albus,” Lucius said quietly.
Draco put his hand on his father’s forearm and squeezed gently. “Father, had I not already accepted him—the ritual would have never allowed him to stay. I made this choice practically before I even saw him.”
“But Draco…” Narcissa began and then trailed off when her son turned to stare at her. “He’s a stranger to us.”
“To you,” Draco corrected. “He’s a stranger to all of you but I know him in ways I cannot hope to explain. He’s known nothing but pain and grief and sacrifice for the last three years of his life but before all of that—before the war on his world he spent his days learning and training and flying. He has good memories buried in his past—memories that he’s shielded and sometimes even hidden from because of all that he lost. I see it in his eyes, hear it in his voice, feel it lingering in his magic when he casts.”
“What do you intend to do?” James asked.
“I’m going to give your son something beautiful,” Draco declared. “I need to go to the owlery—there is a broom out there somewhere that Harry’s name on it—he just doesn’t know it, yet.”
– – – –
Harry turned into the hand stroking down his cheek and opened his eyes. Lily Potter snatched her hand away with a blush but Harry caught her fingers in a light grip and pulled her hand back. “It’s okay.”
She smiled. “I promised Poppy I wouldn’t wake you.” She trailed her fingers through his hair. “My darling boy, brought back to me.”
“I will never stop grieving the beautiful baby that was taken from me,” Lily whispered. “Just as I can imagine you will always know that it wasn’t me who brought you into the world.” She cleared her throat. “But I believe if we try we could be a family—I could be the mother that you were denied.”
“I can… we can try,” Harry said softly. “I had a good life—well before Voldemort returned. Sirius was… a great parent to me.”
“I’m so glad,” Lily’s mouth trembled. “I fought with your father over him wanting Sirius for your godfather.”
“He died for me in my world.”
“In this one as well,” Lily whispered. “He fought off ten Death Eaters and dueled Voldemort for more than hour before he fell. We have memories from a few of the Death Eaters that survived that day. He killed more than he left alive.”
“Sirius was always a vicious fighter,” Harry murmured. “He must have killed twenty men the day he fell on my world. At first, when the war was new – he and Dumbledore fought constantly about the way Sirius had trained me. The first time I killed in combat—Dumbledore had a complete melt down. He said that Sirius had put me on a dark path and that I would never serve the Light the way I should’ve.”
“But he was wrong,” Lily said. “You are the Warrior for the Light. The beacon of your entire world.”
“I was, yes.” Harry sighed. “But in the end, it took too long and I let Voldemort… I let him kill everyone and every living thing on my world. I don’t how I can attone for that.”
“Did you do all that you could?”
“Make every sacrifice asked and unasked of you?”
“Yes,” Harry took a deep shuddering breath and closed his eyes to keep tears from flowing. “Yes, of course, I did.”
“Did you kill that son of a bitch before you left?”
Harry’s eyes snapped open and he stared at Lily Potter for a few seconds increduleous. “Yeah, I planted the Sword of Gryffindor in the middle of that corrupt bastard’s chest and set him on fire.”
“Then you did what Fate demanded of you,” Lily murmured.
“I’ll kill him here, too.” Harry relaxed on the bed. “And I’ll do it before he takes anyone from me. Fate gave me this new place—this new world full of people that I lost and I won’t let Tom Riddle continue to take a piss on it.” He glanced over at the other bed and frowned at Dobby’s still form. “What is…” He pushed back his covers and stumbled out of the bed before Lily could pull him back down. Harry sank to his knees beside the small, narrow cot. It wasn’t a regular infirmary bed but something they’d brought in so that Dobby could be comfortable and close to him. He appreciated that about Poppy—she was normally a very thoughtful woman—no matter what world he was on. He picked up Dobby’s hand and rubbed his thumb over knobby knuckles. “Dobby.” The elf’s eyes snapped open and tried to sit up but Harry stilled him. “Why…” He frowned then huffed in anger. “Why aren’t you taking what need?”
“Not want to be burden,” Dobby said and tugged at his fingers. “I be well, Harry Potter.”
“You are not!” Harry snapped. “How fucking dare you!” He planted his hand flat on the elf’s chest and shoved at Dobby’s smaller core with his own magic. The elf jerked in under his hand and his eyes went wide. Harry lifted his hand away and huffed. “Don’t you ever do that, again, Dobby. Not ever.”
Dobby flushed and averted his gaze. “Yes, Master Harry.”
“Sleep then I want you to eat until you’re full,” Harry tried to stand but his knees were too weak to support him. “Don’t… just don’t…”
“Harry.” Lily wrapped her arm around his waist and helped him stand. “Don’t be angry with him—he was just trying to keep you safe.” She put him back into bed and covered him up.
Harry glared at Dobby who was pretending to be asleep. “I don’t even miss the magic the bond takes.”
“You were magically exhausted,” Lily said. “After the hourglass exploded—it must have used your magic to close the ritual. You’ve been asleep for a week.”
“A week,” Harry said and sighed. He held out a hand and two pillows from across the room flew to him. He propped them up behind him and sank back on the pile with a frown. “I’m starving.” He pointed a finger at Dobby without even looking in his direction. “You stay put.”
“But Master Harry!” Dobby wailed. “It be being my job.”
“You sleep,” Harry ordered. “No whining—only Death Eaters and babies whine.”
Lily laughed softly and patted his leg. “I’ll call an elf from the kitchen to fix you a plate. Do you have any favorites?”
“I… haven’t really had a choice about food in a long time,” Harry admitted. “Just whatever is being served for lunch or dinner will be fine. I don’t want to make extra work for them. They are feeding an awful lot of people here.” He paused. “Hmmm, where is…”
“Your Dad?” Lily prodded.
“Yeah, that’ll work.” Harry wet his bottom lip. “Teaching?”
Lily checked her watch. “His last class ended a few minutes ago. Would you like to see him?”
Harry nodded. “I need to speak to him alone, actually. Is that okay?”
“He’ll be thrilled,” Lily admitted dryly. She leaned down and kissed his forehead. “I swear, Harry, I’ll be the kind of mother your mum wanted for you. I’ll do the memory of her proud.”
Harry blinked away tears as Lily Potter hurried away. “Dobby.”
The elf huffed and crossed his arms. “Dobby be sleeping like Master Harry ordered.”
Harry laughed. “You liar.” He grinned when the elf turned his head and eyed him with only a little bit of ire. “Don’t suppose you know what they did with my stuff, do you?”
“There’s a trunk at the end of the bed,” a voice offered from at the edge of the curtain that hid Harry’s area of the infirmary from the rest of the room.
He looked up and found the three Potter children standing there. He offered them a smile and motioned them forward. “Well, come on in then.”
Della immediately darted forward and crawled up on the end of the bed while Orion stopped at the foot of the bed so he could grab the trunk and drag it around so it was sitting between Harry and Dobby. Adam took the chair that Lily had abandoned.
“I’m Della.” Della folded herself into the Lotus position. “We have pictures of you—when you were a baby.” She frowned. “It’s kind of confusing—cause I know our Harry died.”
“Yeah,” Harry nodded. “I’m sorry about that.”
“We visit his grave in Godric’s Hollow every year on his birthday,” Adam said in a near whisper. “I don’t… think he’d mind if you came with us next year.”
“I will,” Harry said.
“Did you need something out of the trunk?” Orion asked.
“Yeah,” Harry ran a hand through his hair. “There should be a black moleskin pouch—bottomless. It’s full of personal stuff.”
Orion opened the trunk and stared for a second. “Hmmm… there is a great big sword in here.”
Harry laughed and leaned over so he could look. “That is the sword of Gryffindor. I think Godric must have been a half-giant.” He pointed towards the bag. “There that one.”
Orion shifted the sword out of the way and plucked up the pouch. His hand grazed over a shining silvery cloak. “Oh, hey, this is Dad’s.”
“Actually,” James began. “That is his. Mine is still in our family quarters.”
Harry took the pouch and tucked it up against his side as James settled a tray of sandwiches down across his lap. “Thanks, I’m suddenly starving.” He picked up half a sandwich and raised an eyebrow. “I’ve met you guys before, you know.”
“Oh yeah?” Della questioned. “I’m your favorite already, right?”
Harry grinned. “You always entertain that’s for certain.” He pretended to frown. “On one world, you shamed the entire family by being sorted into Hufflepuff. I’m still kind of second-hand mortified about it.”
Her mouth dropped open and she stared at him in horror for a few seconds before Orion and Adam started to laugh. “You’re horrible.”
“He was raised by a Maurader,” James said fondly. “Did they properly introduce themselves?”
Harry shook his head. “Just Della. The other two are… obiviously overwhelmed by my brilliance.” He glanced towards the trunk. “Or maybe the great big sword.”
Adam snorted. “It is huge.” He held out his hand. “I’m Adam Sirius Potter. I turned fourteen in August. Fourth year Gryffindor and I play Keeper.”
Orion offered his next. “Orion Marcus Potter, third year. I play chaser. My birthday is in June.”
“I’m Adele Heather Potter but I’ve always been Della. I’m a first year.” She bounced a little on the end of the bed. “You’re in Gryffindor, right?”
“It’s where I was originally sorted,” Harry said diplomatically. “I’m not sure if the Headmaster will want me staying in the tower with you guys. It just depends, I guess, on if I can take classes.”
“You can.” James prodded Adam out of the chair and sat. “You guys, I need to talk to your brother alone.”
Della frowned. “Oh, but, Dad… he slept for a whole week. This is the first time we’ve gotten to do anything but stare at him.”
Harry laughed and flushed at the same time. “The lot of you came here everyday to stare at me?”
“Yep,” Adam offered him a little smirk. “We aren’t the only ones, either. You’ve got Malfoy all atwitter.”
“Shut up,” Harry said with a laugh. “I’ll be awake after you guys have dinner if you want to come back.”
James said nothing until they were all gone then he carefully cast a privacy ward around the area. “Okay, son, tell me what you need.”
Harry swallowed hard. “You two are pretty serious about that, huh?”
“About being your parents?” James lifted an eyebrow. “You bet your arse we’re serious. Genetically speaking you are my son. Magic and blood tell in the magical world, Harry. You know that. If you went to Gringotts, they would not be able to tell you aren’t of my magical line. It is important that you accept that. I’ve already made all the claims necessary with the ministry and with the Goblins. It’s a matter of patriarchal duty—I feel compelled to shield you, protect you within the House of Potter. I hope you understand.”
Harry nodded. “I do.” He cleared his throat. “I’m okay with all of that except… except I want Adam to inherit the title. It’s his by right and I already have Sirius’ title. I know it transferred.” He looked down at his hand and the Black ring appeared. “It’s important that I honor him with this. Do you understand that?”
James leaned forward and put his hand on Harry’s, his thumb grazing the Black ring. “Sirius Black was my best friend—my brother in magic. I would be furious with you if you did otherwise. He lived and breathed for you from the moment you were born. If you hadn’t looked like I’d knocked off a piece of my magic and made a kid with it—I would’ve been concerned about your parentage.”
Harry laughed and turned his hand over so he could squeeze his father’s fingers gently. “He taught me so much. Loved me so much that sometimes it hurt us both. We fought more than anyone thought was appropriate to be honest but we were family to each other. When I was ten, the Ministry tried to take me away from him. I almost tore down the Ministry of Magic in the resulting temper tantrum. They stopped trying to separate us after that. They were afraid of me—afraid of what I might become if Sirius wasn’t on hand to keep me in check.”
James glanced down at the plate. “Eat, we’ve been giving you nutrient potions but they don’t really satisfy the body.”
Harry extracted his hand from James’ and picked up another sandwich. “Talk to Adam alone—it’s important that he understand what he’s always expected to be his will remain his.”
James nodded. “If you’re sure. You have to know he wouldn’t begrudge you the title. They are all three so very happy to have you here. We’ve had to run them out all week. Della has been fighting with your mum for the right to comb your hair of all things.”
Harry laughed and blushed. “Merlin. I don’t know that I’m ready to have a bunch of females in my life.”
“You have no idea,” James muttered. He smiled. “But I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”
Harry nodded and polished off two sandwich halves in quick succession and then pushed the tray back. He sighed when James took it and left it on the end of the bed. “I have… I need stuff.”
“Okay, give me a list and I’ll get started.”
“I need history books—world history and European. I need lessons on politics, social mores, and law for this world to see where the differences are. I also need a self-updating Book of Spells and I should visit Gringotts as soon as it is safe to do so.”
“I can take you this weekend,” James said. “It’s best if we do our business in France. The branch in London is under surveillence by Death Eaters but most of the European countries have put up wards keeping Voldemort and all of his marked followers out.”
“Who is the Regent of the House of Black?”
“Up until a week ago,” James began. “It was being held in trust for Draco Malfoy. He was the closest living male relative and would’ve inheritated the title upon his majority.” He inclined his head. “Why did you claim the House of Black at your age?”
“That bastard,” Harry began and flushed at that raised eyebrow. “Pardon me.” He huffed. “The man who was the Minister for Magic on my world—he tried to take me into custody and name himself my guardian. He was a blood purist but not a follower of Voldemort. I would’ve spent nearly six months under his control if I hadn’t claimed the Black ring. He tried to prevent it but I have more power in my left big toe than he had in his whole body. I claimed the ring and stimutaneously went through my magical maturity. Then I came to Hogwarts and was offered the Regency of the House of Gryffindor. I couldn’t say no. I didn’t want to say no.”
“And the Potter title?”
Harry shot the ring on James’ hand a narrow glance. “It told me no because I was a virgin.”
James snorted and sobered when Harry glared. “Sorry. I’m just not surprised—you come from a long line of very… amourous wizards. I don’t imagine it could’ve been much different on your world.”
“I’d like detailed family histories for the House of Potter and the House of Black,” Harry murmured. “I need to know who the active Death Eaters are and all that entails. Some people will try to tell you that I don’t need to know—they’ll be wrong. I need to know more than anyone else on this world.”
“Can you tell me why?” James asked.
Harry picked up the pouch and silently pulled out the prophecy orb. It was still glowing—blue and bright indicating that it was still active. He flicked it with his magic and it began.
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches … born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives … the one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies …”
James took a deep breath and nodded. “Okay, yes, we have a similar prophecy on this world. It went dark when…”
“Voldemort killed your son,” Harry said bluntly. “But this one is still active which means and it still responds to me without driving me insane.”
“Yes, okay.” James stood up and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. “Goddamn it.”
Harry put the orb back in the pouch with calm hands and watched James Potter stalk around the small section of the infirmary protected by the privacy charm. “Keeping secrets is something that Albus Dumbledore is very good at.”
“Agreed,” James said. “He’s… a good man.”
“In almost every instance of meeting him I would agree,” Harry said. “Sometimes he’s driven by a desparate desire to save everyone he can and it makes him blind to the needs of the individual. On my world, he was so damaged by war and grief that he did more harm than good. He kept information from me, would have left me untrained if Sirius hadn’t been around. He foolishly believed he could let me have a childhood and for that – six billion people died.”
James sat down abruptly. “Okay, I won’t keep… I’ll tell you everything I know and I can assume you’ll be having a similar conversation with Albus.”
“Yes, of course. If I can’t trust him to be honest with me I won’t stay at Hogwarts. I need comrades in arms, not barmy old wizards who want me to forget I’ve already been at war for two years.”
James laughed sadly but nodded his agreement. “I’ll be your advocate in this, Harry. I won’t let Tom Riddle take you from me again because you didn’t have the information you need.”
Harry relaxed on the bed. “Sirius… Sirius was always my voice in the past when I couldn’t get the Order to listen to me, to follow my lead—he kicked their arses until they started paying attention.”
“He was a good Dad, then,” James said gently. “I’m glad. I always knew he would be. He feared it—because of his own parents. He said he would be a horrible parent.”
“The first time I called him Daddy he cried,” Harry admitted. “I was so freaked out and Remus didn’t know what to do with either of us.” He picked at the edge of his blanket. “Peter Pettigrew was your Secret Keeper?”
“Yes.” James’ face clouded with anger. “He’s dead.”
“I killed him on my world—he put a knife in Sirius’ back when I was fifteen. Remus and Sirius wanted to save him from his own weakness. They were out in the garden and Peter—he stabbed Sirius. I killed Peter before Remus even had time to react.”
James sighed. “Ah, lad, I would’ve never wanted that for you.”
“Neither did they,” Harry allowed. “But he… Peter had already taken one father from me and I wasn’t going to let him do it again. We wouldn’t have even been in that situation if Dumbledore hadn’t convinced Remus and Sirius to give Peter a second chance. He was good at that—making people think the best of even the most horrible people.”
“Years of war have changed him,” James allowed. “He doesn’t fight often but when he does, he doesn’t taken prisoners. Albus hasn’t left the school in two years and the last time Death Eaters tried to take Hogwarts—Albus killed forty before Voldemort backed off. His defense of the school is legendary at this point.”
“That’s a relief,” Harry admitted. “The Malfoys?”
James smirked. “Well, I have to admit I never thought I’d have kid marrying into that family but they seem to be handling things well. Draco isn’t taking any sort of argument against his obvious choice. His mother is worried about you. She’s been trading out with Lily—watching you while you sleep for most of the week.”
“Merlin, who hasn’t been in to watch me sleep?” Harry demanded.
“Most of the students are prohibited. Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood both talked their way in yesterday—after all you spoke to them directly. Draco has visited a few hours every day and Poppy gives him privacy for that. Your owl has been staying with him—pretty much all the time. He’s spoiling her rotten.”
“She’s already rotten,” Harry said. “I… found her on another world. A world where their Harry died during his first year at Hogwarts. Dobby, I found on another world altogether.” He glanced towards the elf. “He was holding on to the last of the magic that world had left. I couldn’t leave him behind. I don’t know what kind of rules exist for house elves…”
“None to speak of really beyond the normal,” James said. “They can’t be bound against their will. It’s rare for a wizard to mistreat a house elf because they can break the bond and leave.”
Harry’s eyes widened briefly. “Oh, on my world they are bound and can only be freed if the wizard or witch they are bound to wishes it. I’m not sure how it was on Dobby’s world. He never said.” He glanced towards the elf. “I’ll talk to him about it later and let him know that he can leave if he wants. I’d never hold him against his will or force him to leave if he wanted to stay.”
“I don’t think you’ll have any problems then.”
Harry nodded. “Is the Wizengamot seated?”
“Yes, it meets once a month in the Great Hall.”
“I intend to take the Black seat,” Harry said without preamble. “I need your support for that.”
“You have it,” James said immediately. “I figured that’s why you wanted the lessons on politics here.”
“I have a very macabre request,” Harry admitted.
James lifted an eyebrow in question. “Okay.”
“I need to know… who is dead and who is alive and what their loyalties are,” Harry admitted. “On my world, Lucius Malfoy was a vicious Death Eater and he killed Draco when he was little more than a child to prevent him from even meeting me. He knew his son was my soul mate and would rather have him dead than bonded to a half-blood.”
James paled. “I didn’t realize… that the differences were potentially that extreme. That’s why you asked about Peter?”
“Yes.” Harry nodded. “On my world, Minerva McGonagall and Dumbledore were married.”
“Same here,” James confirmed.
“Remus married Tonks in my fifth year.”
James cleared his throat. “They’re not married but I’ve heard they are romantically involved.”
“They married on my world despite the regulations against it.”
“What regulations?” James questioned with a frown. “There were rules against half-bloods marrying pure-bloods?”
It was Harry’s turn to be shocked. “Hmmm, because Remus is a werewolf.”
“Oh. Merlin, no, Remus was one of the first to receive the cure when it came out the year before he turned eleven. His father practically bankrupted the House of Lupin funding that cure and, of course, now they have a great deal of money from distributing the cure.”
“That’s awesome,” Harry said with a small smile. “He suffered so much in my world because of it.” He looked down at his hands. “Severus Snape. I don’t remember seeing him in the hall. Where is he?”
James frowned. “Severus Snape is Voldemort’s second in command.”
“Two half-bloods leading a blood purist terrorist campaign?” Harry asked with a roll of his eyes.
“They publically blame the ‘taint’ they were born with on the Ministry for allowing muggles and muggle born to mix with magicals,” James explained. “Insanity is rarely rational.”
James frowned. “Bellatrix? You mean Narcissa’s sister?”
“Yes, on my world she was married to Rudolphus Lestrange. She was insane—corrupted by dark magic and was a fanatical follower of Voldemort. Sirius was forced to kill her about eight months ago.”
“Frank Longbottom killed her and the Lestrange brothers for attacking his home,” James explained. “I haven’t thought about her in years.”
Harry relaxed a little. “So Neville has his parents? That’s great. They were tortured to insanity in my world—his barmy but rather feisty grandmother raised him. She was a vicious witch on the battle field… could cast Russian battle magic like a boss.” Harry smirked at the memory.
James laughed. “I can’t imagine it. Augusta teaches Politics and Social Ethics here for sixth and seventh years.” He paused. “Speaking of, Albus asked me if you managed to bring any sort of records regarding your OWLS or schooling.”
Harry frowned and picked up his pouch. “Maybe? I took my OWLS at the end of my fourth year. I received EEs and Os on everything that I tested for.” He rummaged around and pulled out a scroll that might be his results. “Sirius kept it with all of our stuff when we had to run. I don’t think it was in the tent…” He opened the scroll in his hand and scowled at it. “Bastard.”
Harry handed him the scroll. “Cornelius Fudge tried to put me on trial for violating the decree on underage magic use outside of school for fending off a bloody dementor.”
James snorted. “I trust Sirius took care of this?”
“He called for a no-confidence vote against him. Fudge was the Minister for Magic at the time. It was a political blood letting of the first order. I was just fourteen.”
“You fended off a dementor at fourteen?” James demanded. He hurriedly read the parchment. “You have a … corporeal Patronus? Most adults I know can’t do that.”
Harry summoned his wand from the holster still on his arm. He’d been relieved to find it still in place when he woke up and then had belatedly realized that Poppy simply hadn’t been able to see it; much less remove it. “Expecto Patronum!”
A shiny silver Patronus burst out of his wand—a hulking, version of Padfoot—easily twice the size of the his godfather’s animagus form. James stared at it in wonder. Padfoot wandered over to them and James reached out hesitantly to run his fingers along the surface of the Patronus. “I’ve missed you so much, Padfoot.” The grim snorted, lifted his head and howled before fading away as Harry lowered his wand. “Before Sirius died—my Patronus was a stag.” He flushed when James turned to look at him in shock. “I remember Prongs from when I was little.”
James smiled. “Really? I used to take you for rides when your mum was… fuck.” He sat back in the chair. “It’s so easy to forget that you’re not… that you are from a different world.”
“It’s not every day someone you love comes back to life,” Harry said. “If a version of Sirius walked through that door, right now… I’d beside myself with relief and happiness and a variety of other things that would probably freak him out.”
“We could freak him out together,” James said quietly. “No one… has ever taken his place in my life, Harry. I envy you the years you had with him and the years he had with you.”
“You and Remus aren’t close?”
James took a deep breath. “Things changed between us after Sirius was killed. I blamed myself and Remus blamed me, too. We were all terribly young and said things that makes being more than casual friends now—somewhat difficult.”
“That’s a shame,” Harry said quietly. “Remus was a big part of my life—part of my childhood. Sometimes he was the only thing between me and Sirius and all out war.”
“Your relationship with Sirius was that volitaile?” James asked.
“He… was fiercely protective. Demanding. Adament that I survive and that I never let anyone, not even him, defeat me. I was casting auror level magic by the time I was ten. He had his house so well warded that the Ministry had no idea where I was much less that I practiced magic at home. I’ve carried a wand since I was six. He taught me to survive. He taught me to be independent but he railed against my independence. It was a double edged sword.”
– – – –
Harry was sitting in the window with a book when Draco arrived. He felt his magic shift—responding to the boy who would be his mate in the coming years. James Potter had been gone only a handful of minutes. “Is there a long line of people waiting to visit?”
Draco placed a pair of books on the cushion beside him and then sat down in the other end of the bay window. “No, well, I heard that your brothers and sister plan to return after dinner but Dumbledore said the rest should wait until tomorrow. Tonight is for family.”
Harry reached out and picked up the books. “Magical Politics by Cornelius Fudge.” He raised an eyebrow. “He was the Minister for Magic in my world.”
“He’s a solicitor and a political theorist here,” Draco offered.
The other book was simply labeled Magical Law; he recognized it as a Ministry publication – an expensive self-updating copy. “Thanks. I was just speaking to my father about needing these things.”
“I showed him which books I’d brought,” Draco murmured. “The Prophet is already reporting on your arrival. We don’t know how it leaked. We haven’t let an owl off the school grounds since you arrived.”
“Byline Rita Skeeter?”
Harry sighed. “She’s an unregisterd animagus—a beetle no less. Your father should have Dumbledore tweak the wards to warn for animagus in animal form crossing onto the school property.” He put the books aside and glanced out the window. “I’ve been watching the Slytherin’s practice. You aren’t on the quidditch team?”
“Yes, actually. I’m the Captain and play chaser.” Draco looked out the window. “I tried to cancel practice since I was going to come up here after dinner but they said they could run drills while I…”
“Made nice with the nutcase from another dimension?” Harry asked with a laugh.
Draco’s gaze widened. “No, not at all. I’m the envy of practically every sixth and seventh year in this place—you traveled to over two-hundred worlds for me. It’s humbling, Harry. I worry that I’ll be a disappointment to you.”
“That’s impossible,” Harry murmured. “Soul mates are everything to each other. I’m not perfect and I certainly don’t expect you to be. You aren’t under any kind of pressure to… be here are you?”
“Just the pull of your magic and mine,” Draco said. “I felt you wake up. You have no idea how much control it took not to dart out of class and make for the infirmary.”
Harry grinned. “I imagine I do actually. I wanted to go search for you immediately; despite the fact that I could barely stand.”
– – – –
“Your OWL results are quite good,” Minerva McGonagall said as she spread the paper out in front of her on the desk. “You’ve only missed a few weeks of classes and Albus and I agree that you should start out with the sixth years. We are prepared to accept your previous Sorting unless you’d prefer to have the Hat access you again.”
“I chose Gryffindor a long time ago,” Harry said. “I don’t want to make that choice again—I’d have to choose between my siblings and Draco. Either way I’d end up hurting someone’s feelings. Perhaps it’s best if they believe the Hat refused to sort me a second time.”
Minerva nodded. “Now, you play quidditch? Are you a Seeker by any chance?”
Harry grinned. “I was actually but I no longer qualify to play.”
“Why?” Minerva frowned.
“Mage sight. The snitch couldn’t hide from me if it dug a hole and buried itself,” Harry admitted.
“That is unfortunate,” Minerva frowned. “You were horrible, right? Played poorly?”
“I never lost a single game I played in,” Harry admitted and grinned when she sighed dramatically.
“Lie to me, lad!”
“I was horrible. I could barely sit a broom,” Harry deadpanned. “You despaired of me constantly and begged Sirius to take me off the team.”
“You are a poor liar,” Minerva complained. “Classes you’d like to take?”
“DADA, Potions, Transfiguration, Charms, Politics & Social Ethics, Herbology, History of Magic, and Ancient Runes,” Harry said. “I’d also like to take a few independent studies with anyone who is available and willing.”
Minerva nodded and picked up a quill. “Your interests for independent study?”
“Dueling, estate management, and accounting,” Harry admitted. “I’d really like Flitwick for Dueling unless… he’d prefer not to.”
“Oh, no, he’s chomping at the bit,” Minerva said dryly. “I barely kept this meeting between the two of us to be honest. They wanted to a hold a bloody staff meeting and just invite you along.” She put aside the quill. “I am… I’m going to ask you this just once and we’ll never need to speak of it again unless you bring it up.”
“Are you okay with the Potters claiming guardianship over you legally and socially until which time you are a legal adult?”
“If I weren’t?” Harry asked.
“I would file a protest with the Ministry and help you seek legal emancipation. As far as I’m concerned, Harry, you are a grown man with a grown man’s problems and certainly a grown man’s experience. I’m not going to treat you like a child today or tomorrow or any of the days that may follow.” She sat back in her chair. “To that end, I’ve had Hogwarts make a few changes to the Gryffindor tower and you will have your own set of rooms.”
“It’s for the best,” Harry admitted. “I have wretched nightmares. I’m also more likily to curse first and ask questions later if I’m startled. I can’t ignore the fact that the last two years have been a nightmare for me. We’d no more than finished our OWLS then the war took a vicious turn. We had to smuggle the muggle borns out of Europe.”
“Is that why you took them as a fourth year?”
“My fourth year was a combination of fourth and fifth year classes,” Harry explained. “The Headmaster was trying to educate us as fast and as thoroughly as possible. Third year students and up were issued time-turners in order to cram all that we could into each day. I never had a fifth year. By the time September first came around that year—Hogwarts was closed and the muggles had found out about the magical world enmass. In less than eight months—everyone was dead. We didn’t know until too late that muggle governments had been developing biological weapons to kill magicals.”
“Oh.” Minerva’s fingers drifted to her mouth. “You mean… oh Harry, what a nightmare.”
“I won’t let them do it on this world,” Harry said succintly. “I found out all the information I need to take the research from the muggles. I have a list of people to memory charm a mile long. I won’t… it’s just not going to happen again.”
“The Warrior for the Light,” Minerva murmured. “I’ll help you in anyway I can, you know that.”
“You did on my world, too.” Harry cleared his throat. “You were an amazing duelist and stayed with me until nearly the end. You succombed to one of the muggle biological weapons a few weeks before Sirius was killed. I’d thought when we lost Albus that you would follow shortly but you proved me wrong.”
“I’m glad she was there for you,” Minerva said. “I will continue on with that tradition until I have no other choice.”
– – – –
“Everyone was quite beside themselves when you insisted on meeting with me in private, Lord Black.” Lucius Malfoy made a production of his tea and Harry watched the ritual with some small amusement. The neat little table that had popped into place beside the Minister when he’d sat down in the visitor chair was laden with a tea service and tiny sandwiches.
“I will say things to you that you’ll wish no one will ever know,” Harry said shortly. “They’ll plague you—give you nightmares, perhaps, but I have no choice.”
“Very well,” Lucius murmured. “Continue.”
“The dimensional ritual took me to two-hundred and forty-six worlds, including this one.” Harry paused and watched Malfoy sit down the tea cup that had started to rattle in his hand. “Voldemort’s war marked each of those worlds and in some cases outright destroyed them. On nearly all of those worlds, you were a Death Eater. Your ancestors had taken great pains to hide your Veela heritage with dark rituals. In the worlds where I was not killed as a baby by Voldemort—you killed Draco before he reached his first year at Hogwarts. On the worlds where he was allowed to live—he was as corrupt and twisted as any full grown Death Eater.”
“To prevent him from bonding with you,” Lucius murmured. He swallowed. “You don’t trust me, do you?”
“On my own world, it was your actions and Dumbledore’s stubborn belief that he could change the Death Eaters that eventually lead to our war spilling out into the muggle world. The muggles in turn—destroyed us with biological weapons that caused illness and disease we could not cure. We didn’t have time to research for a cure—people dropped dead within weeks of being exposed. The muggle govermnments had planned for it well in advance. They are probably stock piling these biological weapons even as we sit here. I’ll need to speak to the Head of the Unspeakables. I’ll also need your help in meeting with the leaders of other nations. The US was the first to start wiping out their magical population. The other nations quickly followed suit.”
“I’ll do whatever is necessary to protect our society and people,” Lucius murmured. “I can send a man to the International Confederation of Wizards—Albus gave up his position as Supreme Mugwump three years ago when Voldemort made his first major move on the Ministery in nearly a decade. Monsieur Victoir Delacour is the current leader of the confederation.”
Harry nodded. “I need something personal from you.”
“I know.” Lucius withdrew his wand and placed the tip at his heart. “I, Lord Lucius Malfoy, do solemnly swear on my life and magic to never under any circumstances to intentionaly cause my son, Draconis Malfoy, physical harm.”
Harry flushed and looked away as the oath settled. “I’m sorry for that.”
“Don’t be—you’re entitled to a little paranoia considering your circumstances and I have no intention of hurting Draco and if I ever lost my mind and tried—I’d prefer to drop dead than succeed.”
“It did cross my mind on several worlds that Voldemort might have forced you to kill him,” Harry murmured. “I know you are concerned about what will happen between me and Draco but I want to assure you—I need you to know that I would do anything up to and including cold blooded murder to keep him safe. The Warrior for the Light does not deal in shades of gray – I have allies and I have enemies. There is no room in life for in between.”
Lucius nodded. “Welcome to my family, Lord Black.” He stood and with a flick of his wand the table and tea service disappeared. “I have some meetings to arrange for you and… you are about to meet my wife who wants to discuss your wardrobe of all things. Please indulge her—she is determined to do something to make you feel more welcome.”
Two hours later, Narcissa Malfoy and his mother had gone through three trunks of clothes that he and Dobby had gathered up from different worlds and put together a rather smart but sedate wardrobe for him. He’d had to send Dobby to Hogsmeade to pick up school robes and then had suffered through his mother fitting them for him. She was quick about it and Narcissa was rather handy with a sewing charm as well.
“What is in these trunks?” Lily asked holding up a stack of shrunken trunks that were tied together with a pieace of leather.
Harry took the bundle carefully and checked the charm on the leather. “Easy, if this leather comes undone—it would be dangerous.”
“Why?” Lily demanded.
“The trunks would expand rapidly and probably lose their weightless charms at the same time. I think six billion galleons probably weighs a lot,” Harry said dryly. He put the trunks back in his moleskin bag and looked up to find both women staring at him. “What?”
“We must… we must go to Gringotts immediately,” Narcissa hissed. “That kind of money is a target for the Dark Lord.”
“Only the three of us know about it,” Harry said gently. “I’ve my own privacy wards in place now. Even if Rita is in the castle—she can’get near me without me knowing about it. Dad said he’d take me this weekend so I could claim the Black vaults and I’ll set up a secure vault for my things at the same time.”
“Where did you get that money?” Lily asked.
“I pillaged the Potter and Black vaults on several worlds, including my own. Sometimes I couldn’t get into the bank for one reason or another but on worlds that had basically been destroyed—it was easy to retrieve whatever I needed from the vaults.” He’d also picked up his own wand on over twenty worlds—he had a stock pile of holly and phoenix feather wands in a special pouch deep in his moleskin bag. He frowned. “Is Garrick Ollivander still alive?”
“Yes, he runs a shop in Hogsmeade,” Lily explained. “It is the one magical village we’ve managed to erect the anti-Dark Mark wards around. So everyone that could move from Diagon Alley, did move. Is your wand damaged?”
“No, but I need to ask him some questions and if possible retrieve the version of my wand from this world—it’s special. I can’t let it fall into the wrong hands.” Harry’s hand tighened into a fist. “If it’s been sold—it’ll have to retrieved at all costs. I can’t stress enough how serious this is.”
“Why?” Lily asked, her voice tinged with horror.
“It’s brother wand was sold to Tom Riddle.”
– – – –
Of course, he hadn’t gotten out of the castle without James Potter and Lucius had decided to join them so he could approve Harry having a “second wand”. Draco had met them at the stairs and had glared at everyone until his father had merely sighed and nodded. They took a carriage into the village and stopped right in front of Ollivander’s shop. Harry had been awake for three days but he’d had little interaction with anyone outside of his Head of House and his family. Dumbledore was in France meeting with Minister Delacore regarding a meeting of the ICW for Harry. He’d yet to spend any time with the elderly wizard and he wondered what Dumbledore was waiting on.
Garrick Ollivander was standing behind the counter with a black box sitting in front of him. “Ah, Lord Black, I believe you’ve come for this.”
Harry lifted the lid off the box and trailed one finger down the holly wand. “Yes. I’m pleased to find you haven’t sold it.”
“It was only ever meant for you,” Garrick said. “When you were killed as a child—I thought to destroy it but something told me to hide it instead. I’ve kept it hidden for a very long time.”
“Minister Malfoy is here with a decree that will allow me to purchase and carry a second wand,” Harry murmured. “I’ll need an auror grade holster.” He started to remove his money pouch only to have James Potter stay his hand. “Sir?”
“It would mean a great deal if you would allow me to purchase his wand for you,” James said quietly. “I never thought I’d even know what wand was meant for… him.”
Harry nodded. “Okay.”
A few minutes later he was strapping the holster to his left arm with Draco’s quiet assistance. The blond kept pausing and shivering a little as he worked with the small straps. “What is it?” Harry asked.
Draco flushed and glanced towards their fathers. “My magic is flaring… like it did the first time I held a wand.”
“Every single time I touch your skin,” Draco murmured and flushed when his father’s left eyebrow made every attempt to crawl up into his hair line.
“It’s not unexpected,” Harry said as he withdrew his dominant wand and casually disillusioned the holster. Everyone in the room stopped moving. He looked at Draco’s stunned face. “What?”
“You just disillusioned an auror holster,” James said in ill-disguised horror.
“Is that illegal?” Harry asked as he let his dominant wand slide back into the invisible holster on his arm, drawing attention to that obviously disillusionsed holster as well.
“No,” Lucius murmured. “It’s just believed to be impossible due to the level of charm work on it. Between the strongest known anti-summoning charm, the adherence charm, the dimensional sizing charm… I’ve never known anyone to accomplish it. Of course, we haven’t had an archmagus amongst us in sometime.” He turned and looked at Ollivander who was staring at Harry—his eyes dark and unfocused. “Garrett?”
“He’s disillusioned half a dozen weapons on his person in auror grade holsters, including the two wands he now carries.” Garret picked up the wand box and to offer the second wand.
Harry flushed as he picked up the second holly wand and holstered it. He hadn’t been able to leave the infirmary without arming himself to the teeth. He didn’t even feel dressed without the comforting weight of Gryffindor’s sword across his back. “It’s not as difficult as you might think—the problem is that the charms are piled on top of each other instead of weaved together. I just weaved the disillusion spell into the anti-summoning charm.”
“The sword, the two dueling long knives,” James guessed. “Two wands, and what?”
Harry offered Ollivander a glare and the old wizard just shrugged. “I have a hunting knife in my right boot and an anthame on my belt.”
“An anthame?” James questioned.
Harry tensed. “On my world ritual magic was illegal but I belonged to several conclaves during the war. They became necessary. Carrying an anthame is a matter of habit but I can put it away if that is a problem or if such things are illegal here.”
“Ritual magic is not illegal,” Lucius said. “It is rare that someone your age be involved in a conclave but as you’ve already made clear—your situation on your former world was tenuous and wrought with grave risks already—what is a little blood magic between those you trust most when compared?”
– – – –
There were two mini-Malfoys flanking Draco the next time Harry saw him. One was too young to even be a first year and the other had to be at least thirteen. He lifted an eyebrow at he two boys then focused on their brother. “Introductions wouldn’t be out of line here.”
Draco lifted an eyebrow. “You haven’t met them before?”
Harry shook his head. He’d resolved to tell Draco very little about the fate of his family on different worlds. “I only had an hour on each world as I traveled. Often times I felt like I’d barely figured out how to breathe again before I was taken away.”
“This is Abraxas, the love child, he’s lived here at Hogwarts since the Ministry building was destroyed. He’ll be nine in a few weeks,” Draco touched his youngest brothers shoulder and the slim, pretty little boy shifted closer to his brother. He waved a hand at the older boy. “And this Marcus, the Spare.”
Marcus grinned. “Wanker.” He held out a hand to Harry. “Pleasure. Our father has warned us against asking you a bunch of questions but we made a list for later when you’re more fully recovered.”
Harry laughed. “That’s fine.” He motioned them to sit. “You can tell me stuff for now.”
Marcus immediately sat while Abraxas followed Draco to a small couch. “What did you want to know?”
Harry picked up a book on politics he’d spent the morning reading. “On my world, the houses were divided along strict lines—animosity was extreme especially between Gryffindor and Slytherin. I haven’t read much about that in the social politics so I figured it either didn’t exist or it was considered impolite to discuss.”
Draco seemed to consider his words. “There is a friendly rivilary among houses regarding house points and quidditch. It is my understanding that when our father’s were students here—that there were often bitter disagreements between the houses but Dumbledore worked hard to put that in it’s proper place in the wake of the war. He didn’t want to foster an environment that would end up creating more Death Eaters. We take Social Responsibility and Ethics all seven years we are here. Dumbledore also introduced classes on the origin of magic and genetics. He’s managed to all but eradicate the idea of blood superiority in our generation. The books he’s published and distributed throughout Europe have done a great deal to educate adults on the subjects.”
“Good.” Harry nodded. “Who is currently winning the House cup?”
“The bloody Hufflepuffs,” Marcus complained and grinned when Draco tutted at his language. “That’s okay because we’re going to own them during the next quidditch match.”
Harry’s tempus charm tinkled bells through out the room and he cancelled it with a little hand gesture. “I’m due for a dueling session with Auror Shacklebolt.” He turned to Draco. “Did you want to watch?”
Draco’s mouth dropped open. “You’re going to duel with the Head Auror? Are you insane?”
Harry grinned. “They want to get a good grasp on what I know and what I need to be taught. It’s just an exhibition of sorts—we aren’t going to hurt each other permanently.”
– – – –
The Kingsley Shacklebolt of this world was just as intimidating as the one on his own. Harry had the advantage of six years under the auror’s tutilage but he had no illusions that it would be an easy fight. He knew the auror had been instructed to go hard on him by quite a few people. He figured because they wanted to dissaude him from fighting. He discarded the robe he’d worn most of the day and then pulled off the sword off as well. The moment it left his body, the disillusion charm fell away. He ignored the intake of breath as he pulled his dueling knives, holster all from his back and put them down on top of the sword.
He took the place Flitwick motioned him to and exhaled deeply as he watched Shacklebolt being lectured quietly by Amelia Bones. She’d been against the duel but hadn’t spoken directly to Harry about it. In fact, the woman had avoided him entirely after a brief introduction. He supposed she found him unnerving—walking around with a dead child’s name.
Alice Longbottom appeared at his side. “Are you sure about this?”
Harry offered her a grin. “Yeah, totally. You’re worrying about nothing, you know.”
Alice huffed. “Did I let you run willy-nilly around on your world, too? Some godmother I must’ve been.”
Harry averted his gaze briefly and cleared his throat. “I have no doubts that you would’ve been an amazing godmother to me if you’d been capable of doing so.”
“So it was just you and Sirius?” Alice asked ignoring of their audience.
“And Remus Lupin,” Harry explained. “Not officially—officially he couldn’t even live in the same house as me because we didn’t have a cure of lycanthrophy but he was there often and we made a family of it.” His gaze flicked to the doors and he frowned at the sight of his younger sister and brother. He’d reluctantly agreed to Adam’s presense but he’d be adament about Della and Orion being excluded.
“What are you two doing here?” he demanded, not giving James Potter a chance to ask them the same question.
Della crossed her arms. “We want to watch.”
“Absolutely not,” he said and pointed towards the double doors leading out of the hall. “In your dorm, right now.”
“But, Harry…” Orion started and flushed at the glare it earned him. “Alright, fine.” He grabbed Della’s hand and started to pull her towards the door. “Never get to see anything fun.”
“Stop.” Harry took a deep breath. “You think this is fun? Is that really what you think?”
Orion opened his mouth and then closed it abruptly having realized what he’d said and to whom. “No, sir. I don’t. I apologize.”
Harry huffed. The last thing he wanted was his bloody little brother sir’ing him like that. “Just go to your dorms.” He averted his gaze and accidently looked towards the Malfoys.
Lucius straigthened. “I can send Marcus from the room if you wish.”
“No, that’s okay.” He unbuttoned his shirt and shrugged it off leaving him clad in a thin white t-shirt that clung to his frame and a pair of black trousers. He tossed it on his pile of discarded items and with two little flicks drew both wands. He retook his place and found Shacklebolt in place. “Whatever she said – you should probably ignore it.”
Kingsley snorted. “Why the hell would I do that?”
Harry flowed into the standard dueling stance and shook back his hair. “You started training me on my world when I was eight years old. Sirius had to bribe you with life time quidditch tickets to the Harpies.” He glared. “You’re not a bloody Harpies fan here, too, are you?”
Kingsley glared back at him. “They are a great team!”
“Oh, whatever,” Harry flicked the wand in his left hand and dueling wards pushed their audience to the edges of the room. “First one to break a bone has to pay to resupply Pomfrey with skelegrow.” He paused. “Reducto.”
Kingsley barely darted to the side.
Three hours later, they were both sprawled on their backs staring at the enchanted ceiling. “I’m knackered.”
Kingsley snorted. “You need to release the wards. I think I’m gonna need blood replenisher.”
Harry snorted but found the energy to release the ward that still shimmered around the room. “Big Nancy girl.”
Draco was kneeling at his side an instant later. “Merlin’s pants, Potter, that was amazing.” He waved a potion in front of him. “Pepper up?”
Harry nodded and took it and the assistance sitting up. “You know—you know you’ll be an elemental mage once you mature, right?”
Draco paused and then nodded. “Which makes you the wild mage. Father sent Marcus from the room after you used a field healing spell to set your own arm.”
“Can’t expect a healer to come around to check on you in the middle of a battle,” Harry said softly and flinched when Poppy appeared on his left. “Shaklebolt owes you potions, not me.”
She snorted and took the empty vial of pepper up. “Both of you are spending the evening the infirmary.”
Harry started to protest but his attention was drawn to Amelia Bones shouting. She was pointing her finger in Kinglsey’s face and the older wizard was flinching back from her like a child.
He sighed, so loud and dramatically that the woman turned to stare at him. “What did you expect, Madame Bones? Did you honestly think I was a child playing at war games on my world? I’m the last surviver of an army of thousands. I lead wizards and witches five times my age into battle in little as six months ago. I waged war on six different continents and killed hundreds of dark wizards in the last two years.” He forced himself to stand then put away his wand with a practiced flick of his wrist. “I stand here… a living memorial to the lives of six billion beings—both magical and muggle. If you think I’m going to let anyone on this world coddle me while Voldemort sets this place on fire – you’re as insane as he is.”
“You’re a sixteen year old boy!” Amelia snapped.
He held out a hand and the sword of Gryffindor snapped into it. “Do you know what this is?”
She stared at the weapon. “No, I’ve never seen that sword before.”
“Godric Gryffindor carried it. I left my own version of it on my world—this sword appeared on my back seconds after I arrived on your world. It appeared for me on every world I visited—all two-hundred and forty six of them. It is the sword that Godric received from his great grandfather. Arthur Pendragon called it Excalibur.” He paused and let that information settle on everyone in the room. “I am the Heir Regent of Gryffindor. In a different time and place, if the magical world were still ruled by feudal claims and magical power—I would stand before you a king. Do not speak to me as if I’m a child ever again. That you agree with me or not is never going to be my concern. Magic herself gifted me with everything I am and with those gifts come a duty and a responsibility that I could not explain to you in full if I lived to be a thousand years old.” He inclined his head and with a brief nod to Draco stalked towards the door. “I’ll be in the infirmary putting my name on that bed I’ve spent the last two weeks a prisoner.” He turned and stare at Amelia Bones. “On my world, you were like a mother to me but you also respected my choices and my destiny. We have a great deal to offer one another but that won’t happen as long as you treat me like a child.”
– – – –
Hermione Granger had presented him with four scrolls on their second meeting. Each scroll chock full of information she thought he might need. Lists of Death Eaters who were free, who were in prison, who had died in battle and who had been declared “innocent” through the years when put on trial. Detailed family trees for all the members of the Wizengamot, and a list of all the current/active laws on the books. He wasn’t surprised to find there wasn’t an underage magic law. The world had been at war too long to allow a law in place that would prevent a magical child from defending their own life.
He’d quickly committed her work to memory and had sent her a list of topics he was interested in. The witch had fallen over the task as he knew she would. Hermione was in her element when she felt useful and Harry had grown to realize that many of the children in the castle felt absolutely useless in the war because of the way they were coddled and sheltered. It was something he was going to work to change.
Orion had barely spoken to him in two days which was why he’d sent for him. Harry still hadn’t been released from the infirmary following his duel with Shaklebolt despite the fact that he was fine. He sighed as the younger man entered the room and finished up his note to Luna Lovegood. He handed it to Dobby who popped away soundlessly.
“I was… an arse,” Orion began.
“I wasn’t much better,” Harry admitted. “When I was your age—I was already casting battle magic with war mages from ten different countries. I spent the summer I turned thirteen in Japan with Sirius training. I realize you don’t need or want to be treated like a little kid.”
“They shelter us a lot here. I haven’t been off the castle grounds since I was a first year,” Orion admitted. “Della was born here and she’s never even been to Hogsmeade. She gets to go to Godric’s Hollow in July every year. That’s it. Our parents are worse than some of the others—I guess because of how our Harry was taken away.”
“I can’t imagine how they suffered—losing a child like that,” Harry admitted. “I worry that I will be a continueous reminder of what they lost.”
“I think the good outweighs any of that,” Orion murmured. “I don’t think war is fun. I know it’s not. I work in the infirmary sometimes when there is an attack and the adults have to go out to fend off the Death Eaters. The last time Diagon Alley was attacked I spent six days in here. I know more healing magic than I do anything else.”
Harry nodded. “Good. That’s really good, Orion.”
He smiled and shrugged. “Well, Adam has the title and Della is already showing signs of being a curse breaker. She tested well in that area when she was accessed. I needed something that was going to be for me.” He paused and cleared his throat. “We were surprised when Dad told us that you didn’t want the Potter title.”
“I would’ve been proud to wear my father’s ring,” Harry began carefully. “Fiercely proud, in fact, but that is for Adam on this world. I don’t resent it. I have the Black title and my responsibilities as an archmagus won’t end with the war.”
“You believe you’ll end the war?” Orion asked.
“I know how to kill him,” Harry said simply. “I’ll end this war because I can’t let him take my family from me again. Magic gave me this world to protect and I won’t fail her.” He paused. “I am sorry that I was so short with you in the hall. I’m just used…”
“To people doing what you say,” Orion said with a small laugh. “I guess that comes from leading an army of thousands.”
“Heard about that did you?”
“Marcus Malfoy was listening in,” Orion confided. “He came and told us all immediately.”
“You two are friends?” Harry asked. He’d never seen the Potter children interact with the Malfoy children.
“Not before—not really but we’re all going to be family,” Orion shrugged. “We agreed that it would be best for you and Draco if we did our part to make that happen as smoothly as possible. You’ve both got a lot of pressure on you already without us being arseholes to each other on top of it.”
They both paused as the door to the infirmary opened and Draco Malfoy swept in with a long brown paper wrapped package. Minerva McGonagall was at his heels followed by the rest of the Malfoys and the Potters.
Draco grinned. “It finally came. I had to order it from Italy.” He brandished the package with a little flare and laid it carefully on Harry’s lap.
Harry touche the paper hesitantly. “I haven’t… when the magic on our world started to fracture… flying on a broom became practically suicidal overnight.” He unwrapped the broom carefully and grinned at the Firebolt. “Merlin, Malfoy, you must really like me.”
Draco blushed and laughed. “Shut it.”
McGonagall, who was bouncing slightly at the foot of the bed, rushed around and thrust a box at him. “Here.”
“What is this?” Harry questioned, frowning at the bleed of magic off of it. “It’s stupidly powerful.”
“It is a inhibition medallion,” James said dryly. “She made us all work on it for the last week. Even Albus can’t use his mage sight with it on.”
“Oh.” Harry laughed and shot his head of house a wry look. “Seriously?” He opened the box and pulled it out. The little medallion glowed mutely with magic and it had a Gryffindor lion on it. He took it out of the box and the world around him shuddered slightly. He blinked and swallowed hard. “Oh.”
Draco reached out and snatched it out of his hand. “Are you alright?” He demanded.
Harry nodded. “Just… I reached my maturation about six months ago, shortly after Sirius’ death. There was no one around to teach me to manage my mage sight so I had to get used to it being active all the time.” He held out his hand and Draco hesitantly put the medallion back in his palm. “I didn’t realize how much of a burden it was.” His fingers curled around the necklace and he closed his eyes.
“What are you doing?” James asked.
“Checking out the magic,” Harry admitted. His eyes flew open immediately and he exhaled sharply. “Where did you get this medallion?”
Minerva frowned. “Oh, I had your fellow sixth year Gryffindors search in the Room of Requirement for something fitting. Ron Weasley found this.”
Harry swallowed hard. “Don’t… let anyone else into the Room of Requirement, not until Dumbledore returns. There is something in there—I can feel the effects of it lingering on this necklace.”
“Is it dangerous?” Lucius Malfoy demanded. “We should remove it now.”
“No, not without Dumbledore. I don’t trust myself to do it alone and very few has the magical power to resist it.” He met the elder Malfoy’s gaze. “I need you to trust me on this, sir. There are some things so evil in this world that they defy comprehension.” He took a deep breath. “I need to do a few things. I need to claim the Black vaults—all of them, including Bellatrix Lastrange’s. Have the Death Eaters held the bank in Diagon Alley at any point in the war since my counter part was killed?”
“No,” James said numbly. “The goblins are vicious. Even Voldemort isn’t interested in crossing them and starting another goblin war. He can’t fight two wars at once.”
“Have the goblins declared themselves neutral?”
“Yes, twenty-five years ago,” Minerva admitted.
Harry reached out suddenly and grabbed Draco’s wrist. “You’re curious about the room?”
“You won’t go in there,” Harry said fiercely. “Draco, promise me.”
“Harry,” Draco frowned and tugged at his wrist. “We’ve been going into that room for years. We do training exercises in it.”
“It could damage your magic,” Harry snapped. “It could taint you so much that we’ll never be able to bond and that would kill me if it didn’t reactivate the dimensional shift ritual.”
“You can still shift into another reality?” Lily Potter demanded, horrified. “Why haven’t you deactivated the ritual?”
“I can’t,” Harry said. “Don’t you think I would’ve? I shifted two-hundred and forty-six bloody times. I thought I was never going to find a place.” He released Draco and bit down on his bottom lip. “Only bonding will stop the ritual completely.”
Draco blushed furiously and averted his gaze. “Oh.”
“And I’m not ready for that,” Harry said before any of the adults could speak. “I need six months to a year to heal magically before I could even consider opening up my core for such a ritual.” He glared pointedly at his father when James started to speak. “Beyond that, I don’t think anyone in this room is in a position to tell me when I should sleep with someone.”
James flushed. “Right, sorry.” He covered Della’s ears briefly and the little girl huffed and shoved him. “Not in front of your sister, Harry.”
“I know what bonding is!” Della claimed. “I looked it up in the library!”
James sighed and glared at his wife. “Why did she have to take after you?”
Harry sat back against his pillows. “Dobby!”
The elf popped into the room immediately. “Yes, Lord Black.”
Harry shot him a look. The elf always used his title when they weren’t alone. “Do you know where the Come and Go room is?”
“Of course, Lord Black.”
“Go guard it. Find another elf in the castle you trust to take turns with you. Absolutely no one is to enter it until the Headmaster returns. I’ll speak to Hogwarts this evening when I meditate so she’ll help you.” He paused. “Have you located Winky?”
Dobby flushed. “Winky be working in a shop in Hogsmeade but she not be bonded. I tells her about you.”
Harry nodded. “If she wants a bond—tell her she can come to me.” He paused and inclined his head. “Have you found your counterpart here?”
Dobby shook his head. “He not here. I find my mother though. She says her Dobby never bonded and he dies.” He pulled at his ears. “He not have his Harry Potter.”
Harry grimaced. “I see. Very well. I’d like to meet your mum later if she agrees. Go guard the door.” The elf popped away without another word and he frowned because everyone was frowning at him. “What?”
“You, hmmm, treat your elf like a friend,” Adam pointed out and cleared his throat. “Most wizards don’t.”
“I see.” Harry turned to his father. “You said they weren’t slaves here.”
“No, they aren’t. Most wizards don’t interact with house elves unless they are bonded with one and even then they rarely know them. They share magic and the elf repays that boon with service,” James rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s not a big deal or anything that you seem to have a friendship with him.”
“I found Dobby on the fifty-sixth world I visited. His Harry Potter had died defeating Voldemort. My Dobby—the one that I had bonded with as a baby took a knife in the back for me. I buried him in Godric’s Hollow three weeks after I buried Sirius. This Dobby—he’s traveled with me to all those different worlds, took curses for me when they tried to keep us against the will of the shifting ritual. On one world, an auror put a sword in his chest because he thought if he killed Dobby it would disrupt the ritual.” Della made a soft, distressed sound and Harry grimaced. “But, the ritual—it protected Dobby just like it protected me and on the next world we were both uninjured again. I had to defend his life… violently several times during our shifting. He is my friend and I don’t know that I would have survived the ritual emotionally if I hadn’t found him.”
“You bonded with an elf as a baby?” Draco asked, stunned. “Harry, that’s practically impossible.”
“Yes, they all thought so, too,” Harry agreed. “I was two years old and the Lucius Malfoy on my world was on trial for being a Death Eater. It was revealed that he had a part in Peter Pettigrew becoming a Death Eater himself and the magical court determined that he owed the Potter estate a debt for aiding the Dark Lord. On our world, house elves were highly coveted and only for the most wealthy. I don’t remember it but apparently during the court proceedings—I shouted out Dobby’s name and held out my hand. It broke the bond between the elf and the House of Malfoy. The magical debt settled between us in that instant and Dobby bonded with me. I spent three weeks in St. Mungo’s because they were afraid it would kill me and Dobby couldn’t free himself. They barely kept him from killing himself to keep me safe because they weren’t sure what his suicide would do to me either.”
“Merlin’s pants,” James muttered. “I bet Sirius lost his mind.”
“Yeah,” Harry laughed. “He did that pretty regularily.” He shot Narcissa a look. “The Blacks are all kinds of crazy anyways.”
She grinned. “Yes, we are.”
He focused on the broom and laughed. “You actually made me the medallion so I could play quidditch?”
Minerva huffed. “You bet your arse I did.” She flushed and averted her eyes at the look she got. “I haven’t had a decent seeker since Oliver Wood graduated.”
“He was a Keeper on my world,” Harry said. “And kind of crazy actually. Who’s the captain?”
“I am,” Adam shoved his hands into his pockets. “But if you wanted…”
“Merlin, no, I hated being captain. I made Ron Weasley take over after doing it for just three weeks,” Harry shuddered. “Does Ron play for the house team?”
Adam shook his head. “We don’t get a long. He’s got… issues.”
Orion snorted. “Boy does he.”
“Lads,” James said quietly. “That’s quite enough.”
Harry smirked. He knew they’d tell him later. “Ron was my best mate on my world—we grew up together. I spent as much time at The Burrow as I did Grimmauld Place.” He paused and frowned. “Right. I need to go to Grimmauld Place as well.” He turned to Narcissa. “Has anyone been there since Walburga died?”
Narcissa frowned as she thought about it. “No, the wards sealed and it can only be opened for the Lord of the family.” Her gaze dropped briefly to his hand. “Which is you, of course.”
“Does that bother you?”
“It might have if… well… you’re going to marry my son so it doesn’t bother me. Your child will inherit the title and that is fitting.”
“Mum,” Draco frowned. “We can’t have children together.”
“Yes, we can.” Harry coughed and laughed as the blood drained out of Draco’s face. “Not traditionally, I mean, but archmagus pairs are capable of reproduction through ritual.”
“Oh.” Draco sagged with relief. “Merlin, that’s so much better than what…” He trailed off and shuddered in horror which made every wizard in the room start laughing. “Can you bloody imagine?”
“No, son, and I’d rather not,” Lucius muttered.
Harry laughed and pulled his moleskin bag from under his pillow. He pillaged around in it for a few seconds and pulled out a book which he offered to Draco. “Some light reading.”
Draco took the book and bit down on his lip as he stared at the table. “Really?”
“Really, you should be prepared. We’ll start working on mental and magical exercises to get your core ready. There is no need for you to go through what I did during my maturation.”
“What did you go through?” Della asked in a quiet voice.
Harry hesitated but relaxed when his father abruptly nodded his consent. “I was under some political pressure and the Minister for Magic on my world was corrupt. I couldn’t trust that he wouldn’t try to use me for his own gain so shortly after I buried Sirius, I went to Gringotts and claimed the Black ring. Sirius did a blood adoption on me when I was five so the Black ancestral magic wasn’t unfamiliar to me. I was pretty much alone at that point—most of the Order of the Phoenix was dead or scattered to hide from what was left of both the magical government and the muggles. Voldemort had become a secondary concern as he was just as hunted by the muggles as the rest of us. Hogwarts had locked down shortly after we fled and the fighting began in earnest. Ron and Hermione took me to Hogwarts because my maturation began when I put on the ring. Hermione believed and hoped that the school itself might have built in protections for maturing wizards due to its history. She wasn’t wrong. She didn’t expect and we never realized that the magic in Hogwarts was actually sentient. She took me as her Heir—the first Heir of Gryffindor since Godric’s grandson died.” He looked at the book Draco held. “The last archmagus born in Great Britian.”
“Niall Gryffindor,” Draco murmured. “This is… a fantastic find, Harry. There are rumors about this book but I asked Dumbledore about it during the first week you were here. He admitted it had been lost hundreds of years before.”
“It was destroyed on my world as well. A Dumbledore on a different world gave it to me—he felt it belonged with me and his world was on the brink of destruction. By the time my hour was up with him, he’d all but decided that the only way to defeat Voldemort on his world to was release all of the magic.” His gaze dropped to his new broom then he glanced around the infirmary. “Where is Poppy anyways?”
“Not far enough away for you to get out of here with that broom!” Poppy called from her office. “Don’t even think about it!”
“You have always been a tyrant!” Harry shouted back. “When I was five years old I told Sirius it was your goal in my life to make me as miserable as possible!” He grinned when she laughed and settled back on his bed.
“Was your world all bad?” Della asked. “All bad all the time?”
“No, of course not.” Harry placed the broom on the trunk beside his bed and took a deep breath. “I traveled the whole world over when I was little—Sirius didn’t like staying in Great Britian so we travelled and he taught me himself. When I began my first year at Hogwarts, he took a position as the DADA teacher. He turned out some of the best fighters the school had ever produced—not a seventh year who took their NEWT in DADA did less than an O the entire four years he taught there. Of course, we spent a lot of time brewing skele-grow in potions class a result because he didn’t coddle anyone.”
“Not even you?” Della asked. “You were his kid.”
“Especially not me,” Harry said carefully. “My survival came first. I wore an emergency portkey all of my life, Della, until I destroyed it in the final ritual on my world. He put that portkey on me in the… ruins of my parents house in Godric’s Hollow and keyed it to his magical signature. Not only would it bring me to him automatically if I was hurt but he could direct it with his magic—send me home or to Hogwarts to keep me safe. He built the portkey on my mother’s sacrifical magic just as I eventually used that portkey to build the ritual that brought me here.”
“But was he a good daddy?” Della questioned. “Did he tell you stories and sing you to sleep?”
“Stories, yes, and he stopped singing to me when I was three at my request. He sounded like a dying cat when he sang,” Harry grinned when she laughed. “What’s going on in your head?”
She huffed. “It’s like you got cheated, that’s all. Cheated out of mum and dad and that’s really not fair.”
“Life rarely is,” Harry said. “But I had Sirius and a variety of other people who made themselves a family around me. It wasn’t traditional but I knew I was loved and I was protected from the worst of my fame until I was ready to attend Hogwarts.”
“You were famous?” Della leaned forward. “For what?”
He touched the healed scar on his forehead. “For surviving. They called me The Boy Who Lived which was utterly ridiculous but there you go.”
“Surviving what? When Voldemort attacked?” Adam questioned. “What is that scar?”
“I survived the Killing Curse,” Harry admitted. “I’ve survived it twice actually—both times Voldemort tried to kill me he failed.” He shared a glance with his parents, who knew that small bit of information before focusing on Lucius Malfoy who was staring at him—horrified. “I don’t know that I would survive it again and I certainly won’t endeavor to find out. I’m not suicidal or anything.”
“If you were suicidal, you would’ve stayed on your world and died there,” Lucius said bluntly. “I’ve arranged for the meetings you’ve requested. Delacour will arrive by portkey in three days. Representatives from America and several other magical governments will also attend. They are all very interested in meeting our archmagus. Is there anything else we need to do before that meeting.”
“An official magical bethrothal for me and Draco,” Harry said. “We don’t want anyone to get the idea that either one of us is available for marriage to someone else. It will prevent charms or potions.” He focused on Draco who was staring at his hands. “It’s a safety measure. I realize…”
“Hush,” Draco said dryly. “Yesterday, Blaise Zabini walked around half-naked for most of the day and I never even glanced his way. My magic has already made this decision. A contract makes perfect sense and you’re right. It will save hassle and political strife if we make it official now. If some idiot managed to trick me into a bond—it would reactivate the ritual, right?”
“I was on two worlds where you were already contracted to marry someone—it didn’t let me stay on either. Not even the one that was practically perfect. I begged Dumbledore to oblievate the Draco Malfoy on that world—he was betrothed him to Pansy Parkinson.”
Draco made a face and glared briefly at his own father. “Merlin.”
“I’d never bethroth you to that disagreeable witch,” Lucius muttered. “Though she’d certainly be willing.”
Draco and Marcus shared a look and shuddered.
“I need to start dating someone,” Marcus declared. “Someone meaner than Pansy.”
Orion and Adam exchanged looks and said at the same time, “Luna Lovegood.”
“Seriously?” Marcus asked.
“Seriously,” Orion promised. “That witch is vicious when she’s crossed. She cursed Ron Weasley mute for three weeks last year because he called her crazy. I mean everyone knows she’s not crazy—just really magically gifted. The older she gets the more stable her magic will be. He was an utter prat to her. Half the girls in Gryffindor aren’t talking to him because of it.”
The door opened and Hermione Granger came in overloaded with books and scrolls. “Harry, I brought all…” She trailed off and blushed. “I’m sorry, I thought you said you’d be alone this afternoon.”
“I thought so,” Harry motioned her forward. “Come on in, I don’t think any of them bite.”
She nodded and smiled when Adam, Marcus, and Orion all darted forward to help her with burden. “Thanks.” They all three blushed and Harry laughed.
“Did you get that stuff about the muggles?” Harry asked.
She shook her head. “I sent an owl to a friend but they are living in France so I haven’t gotten a response yet. It’d be better if I could take a portkey to Paris and use a computer myself for the research.”
“Right.” Harry frowned. “Minister, can you arrange that for her?”
Lucius raised an eyebow. “What do you need from the muggles?”
“They used germ warfare—designer diseases to kill us on my world. These were projects they’d had in development for years, sir. They were studying us and our DNA long before Voldemort made us known to the rest of the world. The magical muggle governments in America and in France launched weapons at us. I need to talk to a squib named Michael Torren. He worked for British Secret Service on my world – if he is in the same position on this world then he will know exactly what is going on in our own government. They used his DNA to research us.”
“Because squibs carry the same genetic markers?” Hermione asked as she dug through her school bag for a quill and a blank piece of parchment. “That makes so much sense. I couldn’t imagine how a magical would be naïve enough to participate in that kind of research.”
“But a embittered, disowned squib would have no problem participating,” Harry said quietly. “He had no idea it would kill him, too. I found him a few months ago. He confessed everything he’d done and who else was involved. He knew a lot about the projects in America and in France. He never told the muggles that the wizards would strike back with spells and curses that would make the black plague look like a picnic.” Harry paused. “I have a list of names.”
“What should we do with them?” Lucius asked.
“Kidnap them, find out what they know and then memory charm them so thoroughly they forget their own name,” Harry said bluntly. “We have to do this everywhere. Put compulsion charms on the world leaders that know about us to prevent them from speaking of us and our communities without permission to anyone else. Make it an international magical law. All muggle born children entering the magical world will have to swear secrecy oaths—their families will have to be charmed. That charm can be placed on their first Hogwarts letter.”
“Harry,” Hermione admonished. “That’s horrible!”
He pulled a scroll out of his moleskin and handed it to her. “You wrote that letter to yourself. She knew you’d disagree with the idea of charming little kids and their parents.”
Hermione opened the scroll with trembling fingers and cleared her throat.
It’s very odd to be writing this letter to you but I don’t know if I’ll be able to travel with my Harry to his new home. He’s a good man—stronger than many thought possible. He doesn’t always listen to my advice but I made him swear on his magic to deliver this letter to you if I wasn’t there to talk some sense into you.
Shortly into my third year, I was magically adopted by Sirius Black and became Harry’s sister in blood and magic. This was necessary because the Muggle government killed my parents—murdered them in their sleep because they’d made a magical child. Every muggle born’s parents they could find were summarily executed in the months leading up the major incursion of the magical world by the muggles. They didn’t want to risk having “enemies” on their side of the war. They killed the children too–the little ones that were too young for Hogwarts. Some were barely old enough to walk but they were on the list. The list I made.”
Hermione took a deep breath. “Oh. Oh, no.”
“You did it here?” Harry asked gently.
She shook her head and exchanged a look with Lily Potter. “No, your mother didn’t think it was a good idea.”
“What?” Draco asked.
“On my world, Hermione was dedicated to bringing muggleborns and their families into the magical world as much as possible. Her parents feared magic so she lobbied to create a parent group for muggle born children where they could talk and discuss their issues. The ministry was actually in favor of it and Hermione was given access to the Book of Names so when magical children were born—the new parents would be introduced to what their child really was. It worked very well actually. People were more open to magic and the muggle born children knew more coming into Hogwarts. Hermione received a commendation from the school for her work on the project. She was just a second year and she’d made a huge impact on the magical world with her work.”
“And they used her list to hunt down those babies?” Hermione demanded, tears streaming down her face.
“One of the parents—his son was killed in Diagon Alley and he was pretty high up in the organization. He also worked for the British magical government. In the days following his son’s murder he went a little mad. The results were horrific. He created a hysteria and that hysteria lead to the murders of hundreds. Hermione never recovered from that. The magical world was—infuriated and united against the muggles after that. Many of the witches and wizards involved in the project lost friends, their children lost friends. The Ministry of Magic withdrew all official contact with the muggle government but the damage was done. They started biological warfare within months. Within a year, the world’s population was reduced to a few hundred. I was the last survivor of six billion the day I killed Voldemort.”
“Why did you kill him?” Adam asked. “Why didn’t you just leave—let him suffer their alone for what he’d done?”
“I couldn’t risk that he might follow me,” Harry admitted. He touched his scar. “We were connected on a level I’m unwilling to explain to you. A connection that I’ve thankfully not felt on this world.” He focused on Hermione. “Finish it, please.”
She wiped her face and cleared her throat. “Right.” She sat up a little straighter in her chair. “Harry has my journal. It outlines all the steps that you’ll need to take to keep him safe on your world. I did a lot of research on archmagus while he was off fighting. He’ll need his bond mate, he promised he wouldn’t keep that a secret. There is strength in the bonding of two archmagus. Don’t let him go to war without his partner. He’s a foolishly heroic bastard, you know, so you can’t count on him to have any sense on the matter. I hope he has parents on his new world but if he doesn’t – I pass on you to my sisterly responsibility for the horrible git. Sorry. No take backs!” Hermione laughed and glanced at Harry who was staring pointedly at the ceiling. “Don’t let anyone stand in your way. If the adults in your life won’t help you—don’t ask their permission. Just do what you have to do. I didn’t. I let authority lead me astray and now the brother of my heart is on a new world without me. I know that I will regret nothing more in the last minutes of life than the fact that I left him alone.
On a side note, don’t date Ron Weasley. He’s jealous prat and he can’t be trusted to stay by your side. He means well, he always means well but unless he is drastically different on your world—he isn’t a man who can be trusted to always do the right thing. We were always better friends than we were anything else. His brother, Charlie, however is an outstanding kisser. Look him up!” Hermione laughed and lowered the parchment. “Sincerely, Hermione Granger-Black, The Ancient and Noble House of Black.”
“What?” Harry asked.
“She’s bethrothed to Charlie Weasley,” Draco said dryly.
Hermione sighed. “My parents feared magic here as well. Charlie and I bethrothed so they couldn’t take me from Hogwarts. I’m a ward of the Ministry, officially. Ron offered but he wasn’t of age and Charlie was. It caused some issues in the family but that was over a year ago.”
“Do your parents still know about magic?”
“No,” Lucius murmured. “She petitioned the Wizengamnot—we made the decision to erase their memories of her. They are now living in Australia with no memories of ever having a child. It was for the best. They were quite upset with her decision to keep her magic.”
Harry nodded. He pulled a red book from his moleskin. “I’ve never read it or the letter for that matter.”
Hermione took the journal. “I’m sorry you lost her.”
“I am, too, more than I’ll ever be able to say.”
“May I see the letter,” Lucius asked. He smiled when Hermione turned it over without hesitating. He pursed his lips. “I’ll have to check the ministry records but the magical adoption Sirius Black performed on Harry – stayed with him. Since Harry brought the Black family magics in him, you might be the ward of Lord Black by default.”
Hermione’s gaze widened. “But that would…”
“It would mean you’d have access to the Black ancestral magic,” Harry said. “And so would your children. It’s a legacy my Hermione earned and one I believe she would be honored if you shared.”
“I’ll think about it,” Hermione murmured. “I don’t know that I’ve earned that right, here, Harry.”
“You will,” Harry said simply. “It may not be a choice. You’ll turn seventeen next week, right? If the Black family magics recognize you—the familial legacy I carry will settle on you. Blood and magic tell in the magical world. I’m not sure I have stamina to exise you from the family magic at this point and I don’t know that I have the right to take away what Sirius gave to my Hermione. If it transfers to you—that is the will of magic.”
“I agree.” Hermione nodded. “I’d like to copy her journal and return the original to you, if that is okay?”
“No, thank you,” Hermione murmured. “You don’t know what you being here has done for us already. You brought hope here, Harry, and that was in tremendously short supply.”
– – – –
Harry listened with half an ear as Lucius and James argued over points on the magical contract that they were going to sign on his and Draco’s behalf. Draco was vibrating with ire over the latest point so he stopped writing to pay attention and when he realized what they were talking about he cleared his throat. Their mothers who were hovering over a project with Hermione turned to look.
“I’m not a girl,” he said plainly. “Though I have not seen any dramatic evidence of it… I’m one hundred percent certain that Draco is not a girl. Pure blood customs concerning a dowery simply do not apply when it concerns two wizards. I don’t need anyone’s money. I came here prepared to fund a war. I’ll have even more money when I claim the Black vaults which are extensive. I will not allow my magic to bound up in a contract that is in any way degrading to either of us. Which means not a single galleon is going to change hands on this contract. I’m not buying him and he most certainly isn’t buying me.”
Lucius huffed. “It’s tradition.”
“No,” Harry said simply. “Or I swear to Merlin, I’ll elope with him on my seventeenth birthday and we’ll get married on some obscure beach in the Bahamas by a shaman. Then you’ll both have to deal with our mothers having missed the bonding of their oldest children. It might take them both years to get over it.”
“That is… extremely cruel,” James muttered and tossed his quill.
“I was raised by Sirius Black,” Harry said and went back to his essay. Though he’d yet to attend a single class, all of his professors had sent him assignments. He assumed they were trying to get a grasp on his abilities that went beyond his OWL results which were almost two years old.
“I’m the Minister for Magic,” Lucius protested.
“I’m the living embodiment of Arthur Pendragon,” Harry returned airily and exchanged a fist bump with his brother, Adam. He looked up as the doors opened and Luna Lovegood, bless her loony little heart, glided in. He smiled. “Luna.”
“Harry, I have the letter from my father.” She smiled grandly for Adam when he left his seat so she could have it and placed the scroll in front of Harry. “He is ready to print what you sent me whenever you’re ready.”
“Great,” Harry murmured. “What about delivery?”
“The money you already provided will cover everything,” Luna assured. “He’ll have to hire an owl service to handle deliveries to those who don’t already subscribe but he already has a list of every magical household in Britian that hasn’t moved to Hogwarts.”
“What are you up to?” Hermione questioned.
“Spreading a little bit of hope around,” Harry murmured. “I found out early in my life that the best way to control my public image is to give out the information I want people to have. It discourages misinformation being printed and people will be able to relate to me better as a person. I can’t let that little bug make all of my media moves for me.”
– – – –
Two days later, Harry was settled into private room in the Gryffindor tower. He’d allowed Dobby to unpack some of his things and make him a little bit of home in the room. His parents seemed please with his efforts to finally get more comfortable. Dumbledore had returned the day before and he was set to meet with the elderly wizard after dinner. He’d attended classes and for the most part, the students had handled him being in their classes exceptionally well.
The most difficult class had proven to be Potions. It was the first time he’d had any contact with Remus Lupin who was the Potions Master for the ministry and the school. The man was nothing like the Remus he knew but that was to be expected—this Remus hadn’t live his whole life as a werewolf and from all accounts his family was very well off due to the lycanthrophy cure they’d funded.
He put away the last of his books and made his way back down to the dungeons. He’d been surprised to find that Remus was the Head of House for the Slytherin and that he’d actually been sorted into Slytherin along with Sirius Black when he was in school. Peter and James had still been in Gryffindor and they’d all four still managed to be friends.
He knocked on the door leading into Lupin’s private office and entered when permission was granted. He’d brought three potions books with him to give to Lupin so he could compare them and see if there was anything from his world that their world didn’t have.
“I brought the books,” Harry murmured and put the pile on the corner of Lupin’s desk.
“Thank you, Harry.” Remus set aside his quill. “Your father tells me that the Remus Lupin on your world had a hand in raising you.”
“Yes.” Harry glanced around the room and got settled in a chair in front of Lupin’s desk. “He and Sirius were close like brothers.”
“I understand that Potter has already petitioned the ministry for guardianship of you. If that is a concern for you—I would be glad to sponsor your emancipation.”
Harry inclined his head. “You’re the second person to offer me that, actually. Why?”
“You’re a grown man despite your physical age,” Remus said shortly. “I don’t think they should’ve decided your custody while you were unconscious. It was presumptious and arrogant.”
Harry whistled softly and shook his head. “He said the two of you weren’t friends—I guess I was hoping he was wrong about that.”
“What?” Remus questioned.
Harry turned to stare at him. “The Remus Lupin I knew would’ve cut off his bloody arm to get his friends back. He mourned my mother and father as much as Sirius did until the day he died. He sacrificed himself for me and Sirius—fought off Death Eaters when our hideout was found out. They tortured him to death but he died never giving up my secrets. That’s the kind of man Remus Lupin was on my world. He was poor most of his life, afflicted with lycanthrophy, and mistrusted by practically everyone but Sirius and myself but he was loyal—to me and to the Light. He placed the blame of my parents death where it belonged—on Peter Pettigrew.”
“He’s dead,” Lupin said shortly.
“And since he isn’t around to blame—you blame my father?” Harry asked with a sigh. “Really? Do you think Sirius would’ve wanted that?”
“Do you think you know my best mate better than I do?”
“If he is anything like the man that raised me, loved me, was a father to me – hell yes. I spent sixteen years with the man. He held me when I cried. I did the same for him when our world fell apart—when we lost everyone that mattered. And when he made the decision to boost my protective magic by dying for me—I begged him to find a different way.”
“But there wasn’t one?”
“No.” Harry looked away. “There wasn’t.” He cleared his throat. “You were in love with him on my world, too, but Sirius was as straight as they come. You ended up marrying a witch later in life.”
“How do you know…”
“It’s the only reason you would blame my father for something that wasn’t his fault. You’re still tied up in unrequited romantic feelings.” Harry frowned and glanced around the office. “Tonks deserves better than that. As the Lord of the House of Black—I won’t accept a marriage between the two of you until you’ve gotten yourself in order, Lupin.” He paused when Lupin’s mouth dropped open. “I accepted Andromeda and Nymphadora into the House of Black my third day awake.”
Lupin glared at him. “I don’t believe Sirius raised you to be this high handed and arrogant.”
Harry laughed abruptly and stood. “Sirius made you duel him until you passed out before he accepted your relationship with his cousin. Took eighteen hours and even then he was begrudging about it.” He stood and shoved his hands into his trouser pockets. “War is no place to indulge in petty bullshit like you’ve gotten going on with my father.” He held up a hand when Lupin started to protest. “Seriously, grow a pair. Neither one of you are children anymore.” He walked to the door and turned to stare at him. “And for the record, I wouldn’t need anyone’s sponsorship if I wanted to be emancipated. The only reason James Potter’s magical guardianship is sticking is because I allowed it. There isn’t a man or woman on this planet that has the ability or the power to control me.”
“Not even Draco Malfoy?”
Harry smirked. “Merlin, Lupin, do some reading—I matured first, I’m the dominant in our pairing.”
– – – –
“It breaks my heart to look at you,” Albus murmured after they’d both pushed aside dessert plates. “That’s not fair to you, of course, but I adored baby Harry. I have blamed myself for his murder all these years. I should’ve done more to protect him—to protect you. I can’t believe your Dumbledore didn’t have regrets.”
“He had them,” Harry allowed after a small glance at his parents and siblings. The Malfoys were also in attendance but had offered little conversation. “He allowed those regrets to blind him to the plight of the Light until the day he died. I hope that you have it in you, Albus, to get past it.”
“I have been trying.”
Harry nodded. “When I was five years old, the Dumbledore on my world convinced Sirius that I would be better off in the Muggle world. He’d been trying to do it for years because he thought it was best. They placed me in my Aunt Petunia’s home and put blood wards on the house because of her connection to my mother.”
“You obviously didn’t stay,” Dumbledore said. “James has told me that you traveled a great deal before you came to Hogwarts for your first year.”
“I stayed for a month,” Harry explained bluntly. “I didn’t like the structure of the muggle school but I adapted. My uncle was an utter bastard but he was hardly the first to yell at me. My Aunt blamed me for my mother’s death and she coddled her own child to the point of obscene.”
Lily’s hand settled on his and he realized his fingers were trembling. “She married Vernon Dursley on your world?”
“Yes,” Harry confirmed.
“What did he do to you?” James demanded.
“We brought home monthly progress reports and his son was… not doing well. I, on the other hand, had already had over a year of instruction on the basics. I was reading and writing already. The teacher was quite exhuberant in her praise for me.” Harry looked down at the table. “He said I was cheating because there was no way a freak was smarter than his son and he hit me. I’d never been hit before. Sirius tried to spank me once for lashing out at him magically and he lost it. I ended up spending an entire hour in the corner while Remus talked Sirius down off the proverbal ledge. The thing is that Vernon didn’t spank me—he punched me and he kept doing it until I was so hurt that it activated the portkey Sirius had kept on me despite Dumbledore’s assurances that I would be safe. Sirius was in France at the time—I appeared and fainted at his feet. Vernon had broken my arm and several of my ribs.” He pulled his hand free of Lily’s when squeezed too tightly. He patted her gently and focused on Dumbledore. “After that Sirius never listened to your counterpart again when it came to my welfare or my training. He was so filled with guilt and anger that it drove him to do foolish things to make up for it. The Dumbledore on my world was an icon—the Leader of the Light. He’d defeated Grindlewald and held Voldemort at bay for many years before the night that I was attacked in Godric’s Hollow.”
“It is much the same here,” Albus admitted roughly. “I want to think I wouldn’t have left you with an abusive muggle, Harry.”
“On some worlds, you did and some worlds you didn’t. On one world, you raised me yourself but I was killed during my fourth year. When I appeared on that world—I thought he was going to have a heart attack. He begged me to stay with him but the ritual was in charge. I can’t say I wasn’t tempted –the last few worlds before that one had been so horrible and on his world the war was over.”
“I’ve had several conservations with the minister and your father concerning your questions about our world,” Albus began. “At first I was adament that you not be… you’re sixteen years old.”
“I’m aware of my age.”
“You’ve endured so much that a part of me wishes to spare you more grief and strife. There are men who have been part of the Order who have never seen as much magical combat as you’ve indicated you’ve experienced.”
“I won’t accept coddling from you, Headmaster.”
“No, I know you won’t,” Albus admitted. “That has already been pressed upon me. I won’t repeat the mistakes of my counterpart. Though many are against it, you will be offered a place within the Order of the Phoenix as soon as you wish it.”
“Good.” Harry pulled his napkin from his lap and dropped it on the table in front of him. “Would you like to take a walk with me? There is something in the Room of Requirement that I would like to show you.”
“Just me?” Dumbledore questioned.
Harry frowned and removed the inhibition medallion he’d taken to wearing out of habit. He placed it on the table in front of him and looked at each person in turn. He lingered on Lucius Malfoy then on James Potter before looking Lily and Narcissa in turn.
“Lady Malfoy is welcome to join us,” Harry said shortly and put the medallion back on.
“May I know why the rest of us are excluded?” James asked mildly.
“She’s the only person at the table besides the Headmaster who has ever cast dark arts,” Harry said shortly.
Narcissa flushed and averted her gaze while Lucius merely put his hand on his wife’s and sighed. “Narcissa’s father made her her participate in a ritual sacrifice when she was fourteen years old. It’s the reason she sought and received sanctuary with the ministry at such a young age. She lived at Hogwarts full time until she graduated.”
“I’ve cast the Killing Curse,” James said. “That’s a dark curse.”
“But it’s not a dark art,” Harry murmured. “It’s not even considered dark by magic unless it is done for selfish purposes. I’ve cast the killing curse more times than I’ll ever want to admit in such company and I’m not tainted by it. My aura is not pure but that is because of what Voldemort did to me when he killed my parents.” He stood from his chair and took a deep breath. “We can discuss the matter again later if you want, sir.”
James nodded. “And the object in the Room of Requirement? Will you discuss that with me as well?”
– – – –
His third turn in front of the tapestry, a door appeared and Dumbledore rushed to open it ahead of him. He snorted. “You realize that if something was going to leap out on us—it would kick your arse, right?”
Dumbledore stared at him. “I’m old, not infirm.”
“Just sayin’,” Harry said with a small laugh. “I’m not a damsel in distress.” He motioned the elder wizard ahead of him with a little hand flourish and offered Narcissa is arm. “Lady Malfoy.”
“Oh, call me Cissa, Harry.”
The room was packed full of junk but that was expected. After years of exposure to a horcrux he had no problem finding it. He walked down the aisle and stopped because it was not what he expected at all.
He pulled a small empty bag from his pouch and motioned to the diary. “Sir, I need you to levitate that book into this bag.”
Dumbledore frowned. “The book?”
“Were you hoping for a dragon?” Harry asked dryly.
Narcissa laughed as Dumbledore did as instructed.
“No, not at all I expected some kind of artifact I just wasn’t sure what it would be,” Dumbledore murmured. “I expected something else to be honest.”
Harry closed the bag and expected the ugly dread pooling in his gut to stop but it didn’t. He swore under his breath and moved deeper into the room. The diadem was exactly where he had expected to find it. “The crown as well, sir.”
“That’s…” Narcissa trailed off. “Is that Ravenclaw’s diadem? It’s been lost for years.”
“It is,” Harry said shortly. “Tom Riddle found it when he was going to school here.” He closed the bag again and cleared his throat. “Better but there is another problem.” He turned to focus on the Headmaster. “The Chamber of Secrets? Has it been opened since you’ve worked here?”
“Once when I was a professor,” Albus admitted. “I suspected that Tom had done it but he blamed Hagrid. Was Hagrid at Hogwarts on your world?”
“Yes,” Harry said shortly. “You and I both know that he didn’t open the chamber. He isn’t capable of opening it.”
“No, I knew then. We had a formal trial in front of the Wizengamot and Hagrid was cleared of all charges. He teaches Care of Magical Creatures here, you know.”
Harry smiled. He had known. It was one class he hadn’t had room for and regretted it. He missed Hagrid a great deal. The half-Giant had died early in the war on his world. “So the Chamber wasn’t opened a few years ago—when your Harry would’ve been a second year?”
“No.” Albus shook his head. “Lad… many believe the Chamber of Secret is a myth.”
“It’s no myth. I’ve been in it.” Harry slid the sack into his moleskin. “We should meet in your office. There is quite a large problem in the school.”
– – – –
Don’t fall in love with this. I don’t even know what it is, really. I just sort of went a little crazy for two days a couple months back and wrote this.