The day it happened, Molly was rummaging the biscuit tin, looking for suitable snacks to serve for her weekly chat with Tonks. The door to the cleaning supply cupboard flung open on its own accord. Startled and hands trembling, Molly headed over to the cupboard with her wand drawn.
She found a toddler who had a head full of bronze curls in front of the open cupboard.
The child blinked at her. "Aun' Mowwy?"
Molly put her wand away. "Yes, dear?" She asked whilst wondering: Who are you? How did you know my name? How did you get here? Boy or girl? Blue dragon onesie suggests boy, but you never know…
The child beamed. "Aunt Mowwy!" he or she cried and flung him or herself to Molly's legs.
Molly went down to her haunches and wrapped her arms around the little one. Bewildered though she was, Molly couldn't help but relish at the chance to hold a small child. Molly's heart swelled when the toddler nuzzled his/her face into her bosom and let out a happy sigh.
The cleaning supply cupboard's door bounced off a wall for a second time.
"Benedict, NO!" a familiar voice called out.
Molly hefted the child up in her arms and jumped to her feet. "Harry?" she called. Dumbledore told her he'd bring Harry to the Burrow as soon as he could convince old Horace Slughorn to return to Hogwarts. Dumbledore intimated the talk may take several hours. Did he manage earlier than expected? Or did Slughorn rebuff Dumbledore's offer?
Molly lit up with surprise and delight when Harry Potter stepped out of the cupboard.
"Harry! I wasn't expecting you for another three hours!" Molly said, hurrying over.
Harry goggled at Molly, wide-eyed.
Molly frowned. She noticed just now Harry's jet-black hair was heavily streaked with white. (Did Fred and George send a joke hex his way?) Also, the scar on his forehead looked as though it transformed from a single lightning bolt to a lightning storm. There was also the minor detail of the little baby strapped to Harry's chest with a pink blanket.
What in Merlin's name was going on?
Harry covered his face and groaned: "Oh, no, not again."
Molly was beyond curious. "What are you talking about? Where is Dumbledore? How did the talk with Slughorn go? Do you know who this is?"
Harry lowered his palms to cover his mouth and said nothing.
Molly took in the white in Harry's hair and the expanded scar again and started to doubt.
Molly shifted the child to her left and groped for her wand. "Harry? That's you, isn't it?"
Harry dropped his hands and smiled wanly. "Yes, Mrs. Weasley, I'm Harry."
Molly took in the tone of his voice, the old soul behind his green eyes, the aura of someone who learned pain and suffering and loss too early in life… Molly felt her doubts subside. This was Harry. Her Harry.
"The boy you're holding is Benedict," Harry said, pointing at the little boy Molly carried while rubbing the back of the baby strapped to his chest. "He's not supposed to be here. I need to take him back."
Harry then strode over to Molly and held out his hands.
Molly couldn't help but look up and stare. Harry had grown so much! Not as tall as Ron, but just a fraction of an inch shorter. He was also broader around the shoulders and had an honest-to-goodness stubble around his chin and mouth. It seemed like only yesterday she found him in King's Cross station, tiny and all alone, trying to find platform Nine and Three Quarters for the first time…
Harry cleared his throat. Molly transferred Benedict to Harry reluctantly.
Harry hitched Benedict to his side with ease. "Time to go home, Benedict," he crooned.
"But Aunt Mowwy…" Benedict protested.
"Yes, Aunt Molly, but no, not that one," Harry replied. He looked at Molly apologetically. "Excuse me."
Then Harry turned heel and walked into the cupboard, shutting the door behind him.
Molly opened the door again a second later, but all she found inside were her brooms, mops, and a bottle of Mrs. Skower's All-Purpose Magical Mess Remover.
There was no one else.
Molly told Albus Dumbledore about the strange visitation as soon as he arrived at the Burrow with the real Harry Potter, who was promptly sent to sleep in the twins' old bedroom.
"How remarkable," was Dumbledore's verdict. Molly couldn't understand how he could sound so composed.
"Why would an imposter come here? What did they mean to accomplish?" Molly asked, wringing her hands.
"Somehow, I do not believe your strange visitor was an impostor," Dumbledore said. "If he was, why would he leave as soon as you returned the child to you? Moreover, if he wanted to pretend to be Harry Potter, why would he show up with such obvious differences such as greying hair and an expanded scar? To say nothing of the small boy and baby he had inexplicably brought with him."
Molly recalled Other Harry (or so her mind settled to call him). How much he was like her Harry, a sameness that couldn't be feigned. But they were not identical, though Molly couldn't put a finger on how the two Harry's were different, besides the obvious. Something about the two little children he brought…
"What should we do?" Molly asked.
"For now, we can do nothing," Dumbledore said. "But let me know if your strange visitor shows up again. I would like to speak with him."
Other Harry didn't return for the duration of summer break. Nothing out of the ordinary happened in the Burrow besides the kerfuffle between Fleur Delacour and Ginny.
Molly told no one else about Other Harry. She certainly didn't mention him to Harry himself. The boy had enough trouble on his plate.
But at night, while she lay in bed, listening to her husband sleep, Molly fancied she heard a door creek open.
Halloween morning, Molly came downstairs, thinking vaguely of frying up bacon and toast for breakfast.
She found her cupboard wedged open and Other Harry at the kitchen table.
"YOU!" Molly shouted, whipping out her wand.
Other Harry put his hands up in surrender. "I come in peace."
"Who are you!?"
"I'm Harry Potter, Mrs. Weasley," Other Harry said, with Harry's voice and Harry's eyes and Harry's face. It made Molly's blood run cold. "Just not the Harry Potter of this world."
"What do you mean?"
"Er, I could get into the multiverse theory and interdimensional travel, but I don't think we've got the time," Other Harry said, looking sheepish. "So let me summarize: I made an enchanted mirror that was supposed to show you a world that reflects what you are most curious about. Only, it didn't work and kind of exploded inside my broom closet. Now the closet takes you to a world that reflects what you are most curious about."
Molly took a moment to digest that. "You made a closet that lets you travel between worlds."
"Yes," Other Harry confirmed.
"You're a Harry Potter from a different world."
"What is your proof?"
"If I am a Harry Potter, I would know something private about you," Other Harry said. "For example, I know what Mr. Weasley calls you when no one else is listening."
Other Harry's pale cheeks went pink. "Molly-wobbles."
Molly felt herself mirroring his flush. "That's right."
Molly lowered her wand and Other Harry put his hands down. After a moment's hesitation, Molly joined Other Harry at the table.
They sat there studying each other for a while. Molly tried to guess at Other Harry's age; after having her Harry for many weeks, she realized Other Harry had little trace of the teenage gawkiness her Harry still had.
"How old are you?" Molly asked.
"Nineteen, about to turn twenty," Other Harry answered.
Molly felt her heart beat faster. "Is You-Know-Who still around in your world?"
"Not since my fifth year," Other Harry said.
Molly felt both elated and dismayed. That Other Harry's world differed from hers went without saying. Yet somehow she hadn't imagine their timelines would diverge to this degree. Her Harry had just started his sixth year at Hogwarts, while You-Know-Who was back in full power and was as terrifying as ever. Their future looked bleak with no resolution in sight.
But perhaps Other Harry could shed some hope.
"Is he gone for good?" Molly pressed.
"Mmm, yes," said Other Harry cautiously. "I gathered Voldemort—" Molly shuddered— "sorry, L.V. is a present and active problem here."
Gathered. "You took a peak around, didn't you," Molly said.
"The closet wouldn't take me elsewhere and I couldn't help myself," Other Harry said.
"And what do you think?" Molly burst out, no longer able to contain herself. "Do you think … do you think You-know-Who will be defeated here, too? Can you tell me how you did it?"
Molly felt her heart sink to the pit of her stomach when Other Harry gave her a look that held a world of sympathy and sadness.
"I don't know," Other Harry answered. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Weasley, but I honestly don't know. Who knows if your world is the one where L.V. wins? Not that I think he will, mind you, but I really can't say without knowing what your L.V. is capable of, what your Harry has in his arsenal, and so on. Besides, I don't know if telling you how my world got rid of our L.V. for good will help you at all."
"But it could give us ideas," Molly argued. "That can only help, can't it?"
"Maybe, but I'm not sure," Other Harry said, full of sympathy. "There are several people in my world who made victory possible, and I can't see how you'll manage without them. For example, I noticed you didn't recognize Benedict."
Molly felt the phantom sensation of holding the little boy in her arms. "Is he one of those irreplaceable people?"
"Kind of," Other Harry turned mischievous. "Benedict is my little brother."
Molly's jaw dropped.
"A Muggle couple adopted me when I was nine," Other Harry explained. "Dr. and Mr. Watson. Officially, I'm Harry Watson, not Potter. That's important."
Molly covered her mouth. "So Benedict is…"
"My adoptive little brother."
Molly nodded her head slowly. "Your new parents had him late."
"He was an impossible surprise," Other Harry said. "Two years before we became a family, my Muggle mum fought in a war in Afghanistan. There she sustained terrible injuries that made her unable to have her own children."
Molly ached for Other Harry's adoptive mother. She couldn't imagine not being able to have children. She also wondered what reversed Dr. Watson's injuries.
"But then I started Hogwarts, and several wizards and witches—people like Dumbledore—did a lot of extra-legal things to help her recover," Other Harry said. "I think they wanted to show their appreciation for adopting me and keeping me around, despite discovering I'm a wizard."
"She found out after adopting you?" Molly asked.
"She found out the day she retrieved me from my second to last foster home. I turned my then guardian's hair blue," Other Harry replied.
Molly winced; she'd heard Muggles didn't take accidental magic well and often took them as a sign a demon possessed their magical child. "They didn't mind?"
"Oh no. Sherlock—that's my Muggle dad—was absolutely delighted. Did all sorts of experiments with me to figure out what magic can do. John just shrugged and rolled with it."
"That's my Muggle mum."
"But John is…"
"…Is usually a guy's name. Yes, I know."
Molly decided to not further question the oddity of Harry's Muggle mother's name. "Benedict called me Aunt Molly," she noted.
"Yeah, well, you were there for him since the day he was born," Other Harry said, grinning. "You showed us how to get to Platform Nine and Three Quarters, sat with me in the Knight Bus when I missed Hogwarts Express on my second year, and then made weekly visits to London after John had Benedict, buying nappies and babysitting. To quote John: You and Arthur are a Godsend. I don't know how Sherlock and I would've coped without you two. Very badly, probably. When I stop and think about it, I'm like: my son is the Magical World's Most Famous Child and I'm just a stupid Muggle. What the heck?"
Molly felt her whole face burn. It was strange to think of herself as a close friend to a Muggle, let alone the adoptive mother of Harry Potter. She once thought she might befriend Hermione's mother, when they met at the Leaky Cauldron four years ago. But nothing came out of the encounter. The Grangers were busy people, and Molly got a sense they had no desire to expand their friendships to include wizards and witches.
Molly patted her hair nervously when she noticed the tender fondness in Other Harry's gaze. "Well, I imagine your world's Arthur was beside himself over the opportunity to ask about Muggle things," she said.
"Oh, yes. Remind me to tell you what happened at my twelfth birthday party when I invited your whole family to our flat." Other Harry let out a small cough. "Okay, enough sidebar, back to the main point: We couldn't have defeated L.V. without my Muggle parents. My world's Dumbledore said so."
Molly strangled her encroaching dismay. "Our Harry still lives with the Dursleys. That doesn't mean your Muggle parents don't exist here. Maybe we can find them and ask for their help on the sly."
"Possible," Other Harry admitted. "You should ask Dumbledore. You told him about my first visit, right?"
"Yes, and he asked me to tell him if or when you return."
"Well, then," said Other Harry, solemn and serious. "Go tell Professor Dumbledore I'm here. I'll stick around until he gets the message. And ask him if he knows a Muggle detective named Sherlock Holmes."
It took Molly a lot of wrangling and jumping through hoops to get the message to Dumbledore, what with the new and increased security measures around Hogwarts. In the end, Molly had to summon a Patronis, record the message and send it off.
It was late in the evening when Albus Dumbledore made his way to the Burrow, bursting with excitement.
"Harry Watson, I presume," said Dumbledore pleasantly.
Other Harry nodded. "And you are Professor Dumbledore. I'm glad you're a universal constant."
"As am I, Harry. As am I." Dumbledore's blue eyes twinkled. "Your adoptive father is Mr. Sherlock Holmes."
Other Harry nodded. "Yes."
"And your mother is Dr. John H. Watson."
Other Harry's eyebrows went up. "Yes. How d'you know John's middle initial?"
"In our world, Mr. Sherlock Holmes is a fictional detective from the Victorian era, whose exploits are written from the perspective of his close friend and companion, Dr. John H. Watson, late of the Indian Army."
Other Harry looked aghast. "Fictional?!" he croaked, sounding as though Dumbledore destroyed the foundations of his world.
"Entirely, though there are a dedicated group of Sherlock Holmes aficionados who study Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson as though they are real people," Dumbledore said. "Our world will not know your parents except through the pages of a book. That said, I am thoroughly delighted to learn there is a world where Harry Potter got adopted by a modern version of them, and that you, however accidentally, made your way here."
Other Harry stared at Dumbledore for a long time. His color slowly returned, and his rapid breathing went back to normal.
At last, Other Harry said: "You have a crime scene you want examined." It wasn't a question.
"It would be foolish of me to not take the opportunity," Dumbledore replied, much to Molly's confusion.
"Sherlock doesn't accept magical crime cases," Other Harry said. "Not anymore. Sorry, Professor."
Dumbledore heaved a disappointed sigh. "Alas, but I cannot say I'm surprised. I will endeavor to not drown myself in sorrow."
"But I can take a look," Other Harry offered. "I've been helping Sherlock since third year and I do CSI for the Auror Department. Will I do?"
Dumbledore was the very picture of surprised delight.
"More than, Harry. More than."
"Great." Other Harry blew out a sigh. "May I ask you a favor in return?"
"I'd like to meet this world's version of me," Other Harry said. "Please."
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows at the request, but answered:
"Consider it done."
While Dumbledore went to retrieve Harry from Hogwarts, Other Harry returned to his world "to assemble his team."
He came back with two strangers about ten minutes after Dumbledore returned with her Harry.
Molly thought she knew how her Harry and Other Harry differed in appearance. Seeing them at the same time in her home, Molly realized she had no idea.
Other Harry was taller than her Harry and broader all around. Molly could have attributed this to their ages; Other Harry was almost twenty, whereas her Harry was sixteen and thus had more years of growing left. But there was a vitality to Other Harry her Harry lacked, a sense of vibrant health in stark contrast to her Harry's weediness. Molly had a dreadful suspicion she was seeing the result of Other Harry not having to contend with a neglectful upbringing since age nine. He'd been loved and cared for and, most importantly, been fed properly.
Molly felt her blood boil over the Dursleys. Never had she hated a pair of Muggles so viscerally.
"So you're me," her Harry said, sounding awed.
"Yeah, I'm you," Other Harry replied with a lopsided smile. "Or you're me. Not sure."
Harry mirrored Other Harry's smile. If she didn't know any better, Molly would've thought this was a meeting of long-lost brothers.
Other Harry cleared his throat. "Right. My world people are familiar with all of you, but I don't think vice versa. So. Introductions." Other Harry gestured at the pretty girl to his right. "Everyone, this is Julia. She's a potions expert."
"Hi," Julia said, waving.
"And this is Neville," Other Harry said, gesturing to his left, at the handsome young man who had a ferocious trisecting scar across one eye. "He does Forensics Botany."
"Hello," Neville said, and Molly realized with a jolt he was Augusta Longbottom's grandson.
"Neville Longbottom?!" Harry shouted, sounding as astounded as Molly.
"Um, yes?" Neville stammered.
"Oh my," Dumbledore said, eyebrows flying away from his twinkling eyes. "How well you've grown to your own, Neville."
Other Harry elbowed his counterpart. "Congratulations, you've been Longbottom-ed."
Harry gaped at him.
Chuckling, Other Harry turned his attention to Dumbledore. "Where to, sir?"
"Ollivander's," Dumbledore replied.
Ollivander's shop for fine wands looked forlorn without its owner and much of its contents. Other Harry surveyed its boarded up door and smashed window from a distance.
"Did law enforcement go through it?" he asked at length.
"Once," Dumbledore said. "They could say nothing except it was probably the work of Death Eaters."
"When was the crime discovered?"
Dumbledore name the date, which seemed to take Other Neville and Julia aback completely.
"What's wrong?" Dumbledore asked.
Other Harry waved the concern away. "They didn't expect that date, that's all. Was the Dark Mark sighted?"
"I won't make any assumptions until further examination, then," Other Harry decided. He turned to Julia and Neville. "Suit up."
Molly, Harry and Dumbledore watched with avid fascination as their three other-worldly (literally!) visitors dropped to their knees and pulled out nondescript black duffel bags from their trouser pockets in perfect synchronization. They pulled out blue jumpsuits from their respective bags and wore them over their clothes. Clear hair nets, wrinkly shoe covers and gloves followed, and the three wore them as appropriate.
"You are all very disciplined," Dumbledore complimented, while Julia pulled out various gear from her duffel bag. Molly could identify only the camera (and only because it had something that looked like a lens—otherwise, it didn't look like any camera Molly had ever seen). From the corner of her eye, Other Neville was putting up yellow tape that had the words: "CRIME SCENE DO NOT ENTER" printed in black over and over.
"First fundamental rule of investigation," Other Harry said, raising one gloved forefinger, "Secure the scene. The second is: Don't Contaminate It." He lowered his finger. "Speaking of which, I'm not sure we'll be able to find anything of interest. It's been too long since the probable time of crime and too many people have trespassed it since."
"I know, but nevertheless," Dumbledore said.
Other Harry nodded and got to work.
Other Harry and his team didn't enter the premises. Instead, they crouched down to the ground and took photos of—oh. Footprints. Other Neville and Other Harry pulled out black fibers from little nooks and crannies and bagged them into little transparent bags, carefully labeling each bag with a code. They then handed them over to Julia, who took a small white card, wrote the same code on it, and took a photo of the location with the card lying prominently next to it.
Other Harry and his team continued their thorough—almost exhaustive—examination of the shop's outer perimeter. They bagged more items, many of which looked like mere rubbish to Molly's eyes, and took hundreds of pictures. Other Harry shined a strange blue-light across the walls and ground.
"This is a UV lamp. Ultraviolet light lamp," Other Harry explained. "It reveals blood splatter. They show up darker."
"Fascinating," Dumbledore said, eyes alight with keen interest. "I am only familiar with luminol, which I have been told has a similar function."
"Brave New World," Other Harry said. "Normally, I'd bring in a blood splatter pattern expert, but it won't be necessary here."
"What is your specialty?" her Harry asked.
Other Harry scratched his chin awkwardly when everyone stared at him. "I don't have a specialty. Magical Forensics is terra incognita. We're all trying to figure out what it means."
"But if we were to put a name on what Harry is best at, it's spells," Other Neville interrupted.
Other Harry levelled a glare at Other Neville, who just shrugged at him.
"Forensics spells, to be specific," Julia elaborated. "It's the science of figuring out the spells used in a crime."
"How do you do that?" Harry asked, fascinated. "Don't you need the criminal's wand for that?"
Julia smiled indulgently. "Not necessarily. Not all spells require wands," she said. "In fact, wands and incantations as you know it are particular to Europe. The rest of the world use written charms like this."
She held up a sheet of paper with Chinese characters brushed on it.
"Most Asian wizards eschew dependence on mediums such as wands," Julia went on. "So they prefer these. Not to say all criminals use them, or that criminal wizards are mostly Asians, mind you."
Dumbledore nodded with a soft smile on his face. "Their presence is informative for investigator, to be sure."
"But even if the perp used a wand, there are still ways you can trace a spell," Other Harry said. "Here, let me show you…"
Other Harry entered the shop. His two companions and Molly's group followed him.
They found Other Harry standing in the middle of the gloom with his wand out. Molly immediately noticed it was not her Harry's Holly and Phoenix feather wand. Rather, it looked disturbingly like Dumbledore's wand.
Dumbledore noticed, too. "You have my wand."
"Yes, I do," Other Harry said, sounding distracted. "My world's Dumbledore gifted it to me before I confronted L.V. for the last time. Well, I say gifted…"
"I presume my cosmic twin created a situation where you were obliged to disarm him," Dumbledore said.
"Yes. Long story short, my world's Dumbledore wanted to make sure I had a wand that would work," Other Harry said. "It turned out to be unnecessary. I didn't have to use a wand to get rid of L.V.."
Dumbledore nodded thoughtfully.
Other Harry drew in a deep breath. "All right, everyone. Stand back."
Other Harry aimed his wand in front of him. A beam of silvery light shot out of it tip. It had a lighter vertical line in the center. Other Harry slowly rotated from his spot, making the hypnotic light touched every wall, every nook and cranny, even the ceiling.
Once he traced every surface with the light, Other Harry snapped his wand. The shop suffused with blue. Other Harry snapped his wand again, and spots of light appeared. The front door—splintered—looked as though someone splattered it with glowing pink-red paint. A bigger splatter covered the shelves that once held Ollivander's wands. Molly noticed the floating cloud of yellow, the green smog made of tiny particles around the chair, and the indigo glob on the counter.
Other Harry explained: "Every spell leaves behind a trace. Doesn't matter how small and insignificant, it leave something behind. But before I get too deep in the details, question: do you know what a Pensieve is?"
"Yes," Harry said.
"Great. So you know they are a record of a person's memory. Have you ever wondered why they're accurate?"
Everyone minus Julia and Other Neville blinked at him.
"Human memory is notoriously inaccurate and easy to manipulate," Other Harry said. "It's a proven and demonstrable fact. It's why we don't rely on eye witnesses for court cases anymore. But if human memory is so unreliable, how can we siphon out a memory from a person that accurately shows what happened in the past, up to and including details the supposed owner of the memory cannot know because physical limitations?"
Harry and Molly gaped at him. Dumbledore asked, "What do you think?"
"My hypothesis is that the memory doesn't belong to a creature, but someone else, and they are the owner of universal background memory—UBM for short," Other Harry said. Then he raised a hand. "I will not debate to whom the memory belongs to. Suffice to say, we wizards and witches have access to the UBM thanks to magic."
Dumbledore hummed thoughtfully. "Fascinating."
"There are limits to what you can glean, of course," said Other Harry. "For example, in order to see a past incident, you need to draw the memory through a living eye-witness. Note the 'living' part. It doesn't work on ghosts. Interesting side note: memory charms don't work on ghosts because they're dead."
"Huh," Harry exhaled, while Dumbledore nodded slowly.
Other Harry waved at the spots of light. "The other exception is spells. We're still not sure why, but spells leave a unique signature in the UBM. Like personal history, these markers fade with time. Again, not sure why. But if you get to a scene early enough, you can draw out the spell markers from the UBM."
"And what does the markers say?" Dumbledore asked.
"Not much, time destroyed much of the data," Other Harry said. "But one thing is clear: L.V. will seek one of the Deathly Hallows—the infamous Death stick."
The silence that met Other Harry's announcement was complete.
It was Julia who broke it. "Harry, you pulled a Sherlock again."
Other Harry let out a terrible swear word. "Sorry. I picked up Sherlock's bad habits."
"At least not his habit of gleaning embarrassing private details of his clients," Dumbledore said.
"He's just too polite to say them out loud," Julia said with a grin.
"Oh dear," Dumbledore lamented, but he sounded amused. "I dread to know what you figured out from the smudge of my cuffs and the wear patterns of my boots."
"Not telling," Other Harry said emphatically. "Focus on the crime scene, please."
Other Harry pointed at the red lights. "From the debris, it's easy enough to figure out someone used a blasting spell." He then pointed at the floating cloud of yellow lights. "That's a shield charm. Mr. Ollivander fought back."
Dumbledore nodded. "The green?"
"Transfiguration. It could have been the attackers or Mr. Ollivander."
"Your guess?" Dumbledore asked.
"I deduce," Other Harry said, with a particular emphasis on the second word, "based on the concussive marks here," he pointed them out. "And the blood drippings here." He took out the UV Light again, and showed the dark line of spots, stark black compared to its surroundings bathed in blue. "That the attackers—multiple— stunned Mr. Ollivander, charmed his unconscious body and strapped it down to the chair. See? You can see the fingernail scratches on the armrests, right where someone would've clutched them. But you don't see any rope marks. Conclusion: someone transfigured the chair to keep Mr. Ollivander in it.
Dumbledore studied the marks on the chair's armrest and nodded. "You are very observant."
"Thank you," Other Harry said, blushing. "Now, that brings up the question. Why would Mr. Ollivander's attackers bind him to a chair?"
"One usually binds one's victim to one spot when they wish to interrogate them," Dumbledore observed.
"Yes," Other Harry said, while Molly's stomach lurched with fright. "Mr. Ollivander is a 'neutral' party. He is so absorbed with wands, he doesn't have any polarizing opinion about the whole blood purity agenda. So it's unlikely L.V. would think Mr. Ollivander is against him. But if he suspected Mr. Ollivander of anti-blood purity sentiment, he would have killed him outright."
Dumbledore nodded. "It is far more likely Lord Voldemort would want to interrogate him for his expertise."
"Which is wands," Other Harry said, while Molly shuddered at the mention of You-Know-Who's name. "This suggest L.V. needs something only an expert wandmaker can give him. The need was so urgent he went through the trouble of sending an attack force.
"Now, it could be L.V. wants to prevent wizards from having wands, but then he'd target all wandmakers. Last I've seen, Kiddell, Sayre, and Gregorovitch are still in business."
"Correct," Dumbledore said.
"He also targeted Ollivander, who is famous and therefore whose absence would be very noticeable," Other Harry went on. "Why him, if he could've consulted a lesser-known wandmaker?"
"Because he's the best?" Harry said.
"A good possibility," Other Harry said. "But there's another thing—an important thing. You," he pointed at her Harry, "bought your wand from Ollivander and so did L.V."
Molly felt herself pale at this shocking—but not wholly unexpected—revelation.
"Mr. Ollivander remembers every single wand he has sold," Other Harry said. "If L.V. had wand problems, he'd snatch Ollivander because he would remember it as well as yours."
Molly felt herself shaking.
"I don't think it will take L.V. very long to realize Ollivander can't solve his wand problems," Other Harry said. "L.V. could use a different wand, perhaps even force Ollivander to make a new wand for him, but he won't get the results he wants. The wand chooses the wizard, not the other way around."
"So he will seek a wand that is likely to choose him," Dumbledore said.
Other Harry nodded. "You don't have to go very deep into wandlore before you encounter the infamous 'Death Stick'. You won't necessarily connect it to one of the legendary Hallows, but no matter. L.V. will want the 'Death Stick' when he learns: A) it is the world's most powerful wand, and B) can be won if you kill/steal the wand from its current owner."
"The last owner of the Death Stick is an obscure but traceable fact," Dumbledore said.
"Grindelwald," Other Harry said. "He claimed to have the Death Stick. Boasted about it. L.V. would be foolish to not consider the possibility that he might have been telling the truth."
Dumbledore looked oddly subdued when he said: "Voldemort can go to Nurmengard and ask Grindelwald himself."
"And when he does, it's only a matter of time before L.V. figures out who the current owner of the Death Stick is," Other Harry said. "Anyone who ate a Chocolate Frog knows who defeated Dark wizard Grindelwald."
For a second, Molly drew a blank.
Then her gaze dragged itself towards Dumbledore as the horrific truth dawned on her… as well as on everyone else.
It was a long time before someone broke the heavy silence.
"Thank you, Harry," Dumbledore said quietly. "I confess I have not made the inference as far as you have, but it makes sense."
"You're welcome. And I'm sorry you only have yourself to discuss matters such as these," Other Harry murmured.
Now Dumbledore looked intrigued. "Did I have a companion in your world?"
"You do. Julia's grandfather, Grandmaster Shin," Other Harry looked embarrassed. "I wasn't going to say anything I observed, but … Mr. Shin was there to stop whatever happened to your right hand."
Molly's eyes shot to Dumbledore's right hand, which was, she realized, carefully hidden from view.
"Please don't do any more adventuring by yourself," Other Harry admonished.
"Sound advice," Dumbledore said. "One I shall endeavour to follow."
There was another beat of silence.
"We'll analyze the evidence we collected here before we leave," Other Harry said. "We can't do much, not without a proper lab, but it'll be better than nothing."
"You don't think you'll return?" Dumbledore asked.
"Well, my curiosity about this world is sated, so something else can come up on top," Other Harry hedged.
"I see," said Dumbledore, far too calmly to Molly's dismay. "That brings me to a question I have meant to ask: why did you create a mirror that shows you a world that reflects your deepest curiosity? It's a frightfully difficult enchantment to manage, to say nothing of its potential danger."
Other Harry shared a glance with Julia and Neville. Julia nodded, and Neville gave him an encouraging smile.
At last, Other Harry heaved a weary sigh. "I was commissioned," he began.
"Commissioned?" Dumbledore repeated.
"Voldemort triggered an even worse event," Other Harry hesitated for a second. "What year is it here? I guessed the nineties based on my cosmic twin's unfortunate jeans."
Dumbledore confirmed the decade.
"I was born in 2000," Other Harry said, and Molly felt her jaw drop. "By the year 2007, Muggles went through a technology revolution. Long story short, Muggles have means to detect magic activity. Right now, every Muggle government has most, if not all, wizards under surveillance."
Terror like no other gripped Molly. She couldn't believe what she'd just heard. She tried to say something, but her voice failed.
"But … the Statute of Secrecy!" her Harry protested.
"Obsolete," said Harry grimly. "As long as we use magic, Muggles can detect us. Magic gives out a very distinctive electromagnetic signature, and Muggles know what it is and where to find it."
"You're still here," Dumbledore noted.
"Before L.V., Muggle powers-that-be left us alone because they didn't know what to do with us," Other Harry said. "It would've cost more to hunt us down than to do nothing. That was the status quo until L.V. reared his ugly head."
"He gave them an excuse," Dumbledore gathered.
"Ample," Other Harry groaned. "We staved off a global witch hunt by putting the electric grid under hostage. I'm pretty sure she doesn't exist here, but the person who commissioned me to make the mirror understands Muggle technology. It was her idea to cause a brief global blackout as a show of power."
"Threat by mutually assured destruction," Dumbledore noted.
Other Harry winced. "Yes. Very Cold War, I know, and just as unfortunate. We have no historical precedent to fall back to, and very little room for error. That's why I was commissioned to make something that'll let us simulate possibilities. What would happen if we do this? What would happen if we do that? The mirror was supposed to show us."
"Except it worked too well, and now you have a closet that takes you to a world that realized aforesaid possibilities," Dumbledore concluded.
Other Harry grimaced, "yes."
"Though it was not what you intended, I say it's still a remarkable feat of spell work," Dumbledore complimented.
"It's not good if it happened by accident," Other Harry grumbled.
"It's amazing," her Harry muttered. "I'll never be able to make something like that."
Other Harry snapped his jaw shut. Stared at her Harry's bowed head and hunched shoulders for a moment. Then he marched over to his cosmic twin and grabbed him by the shoulders.
"Listen," Other Harry hissed. "You're me, and I'm you. Do you know what that means? Whatever I can do, you can, too, as long as you're physically capable."
Her Harry shook his head in disbelief.
"No, seriously," Other Harry insisted. "Moody told you you'd make a good Auror, right?"
"He did. So did mine. But I couldn't make it. I failed the physical." Other Harry flashed a twisted smile. "The incident that freed me from the Dursleys scorched my lungs. I can't do vigorous physical activity for more than an hour. No wonder I couldn't pass the Auror qualifications, eh?"
Harry's eyes went wide.
"I was ready to quit when the Minister for Magic decided he can't afford to let me fail," Other Harry continued. "So he created a new division: magical CSI. That's the only reason my world has a separate forensics division in the Auror office."
"Why are you telling me this?" Harry asked.
"I'm telling you this because there's something in us Harrys that draws us into detective work," Other Harry said firmly. "I actually wanted to be a doctor like my Muggle mum. But people kept pushing me to be an Auror, so I made a good go at it. I thought it was a sign, me failing the Auror qualifications twice." He flashed the twisted smile again. "Look at me now."
Harry said nothing, but he turned thoughtful.
"It may not happen in five years or even ten," Other Harry said. "But you will be an Auror and a damn good one at that. The skills that make you one will come. So don't be discouraged."
"Very well said," Dumbledore said, brimming with pride. "I take my hat off to you… or I would, if didn't fear I'd shower you with dust and spiders if I did so."
Other Harry let out a puff of laughter.
They returned to the Burrow shortly after. As Molly watched Julia show her Harry how to lift latent fingerprints, and Other Neville described how he'd isolate the pollen from the fibers to pin-point the locales the perpetrator visited, she wished they could stay. She wanted to beg Other Harry to come back, to bring his family next time, so they could all meet each other.
But the time came when Julia tapped Other Harry's elbow, saying: "It's time for us to go."
"Yeah," Other Harry sighed.
Molly clutched the front of her robe. She didn't want him to go. From his expression, her Harry didn't want Other Harry to go, either. But neither of them could bring themselves to stop him.
"Good bye, Mrs. Weasley," Other Harry said. "Good luck, me. No going solo, Professor, I mean it."
"Bye," her Harry whispered, while Dumbledore tipped his hat.
Other Harry linked arms with Julia and Other Neville and three of them walked over to the cupboard. Molly willed her eyes to stay open, wanting to see Other Harry to the very last moment.
Then she blinked, and he was gone.
Molly never saw Other Harry again. When she woke the next morning, even her memory of him faded to nothing.
But she never forgot the feeling of hope he brought.
And that, perhaps, was worth all the trouble.
Final Notes: Thus ends Harry's foray into Closet of Possibility. I hope you liked the glimpse into Harry's adult life as Magical CSI.
Which I plan to write in greater detail. Stay tuned!