A/N: Lots of complaints in the comments about the age difference and how that will impact romances. Harry will be 20 when he goes back to Hogwarts, I have no intention of pairing him with any of the children in his year. I haven't even decided if I will pair Harry with anyone at all. If I do, it definitely will not be an 11 year old. Harry and Theo are friends, and will definitely not be the pairing.
The next morning Harry awoke excited. In the bright light of morning his idea seemed even more perfect than it had the night before. With a burst of energy he tore out of bed and into the bathroom briefly before practically skipping down the hall to Theo's room, where he took a running leap into his friend's bed.
Theo groaned and buried his head under his pillow, "Why?" he whined, sounding heartbroken.
"It's a beautiful day!" Harry chirped happily, splaying out next to his friend on top of the elegant purple bedspread.
"Ughhh. Go back to being sad and let me sleep."
Harry grinned up at the ceiling, and folded his hands over his stomach. "I've got so many thoughts for what we can do today." He said, using his most annoyingly cheerful voice. "Take a stroll down to the bog of eternal stench," Theo made a disgusted noise that was only half muffled by his pillow, "do our Transfig homework," Theo groaned, "convince the goblins to have a water balloon fight," Theo made a semi-interested noise, "or convince Jareth to take us to the Brownie realm and give them some milk and get a whole bunch of magic chocolate in return."
Theo's head popped up at that, "Seriously?"
"It's amazing." Harry enthused, waving his hands wide, "and I've got a craving. Sarah loves it too. If Jareth won't take us, she will."
Theo blinked twice, "I know it's amazing. The sell Brownie made chocolate Above. But it's insanely expensive. I've only had it once. At Draco's 8th birthday party."
"Ugh." Was Harry's opinion of that, "I thought we agreed not to mention him for the entire break. Actually, why limit it to break? Let's never mention him again, ever."
Theo snorted, lying his head back on his pillow and yawning wide, "You know he's really not that bad."
Harry made a noise of concern, reaching out to place a hand to Theo's forehead, "Oh dear, you've come down with some awful brain sickness that has completely warped your view of the world! How many fingers am I holding up?" Harry asked, waving four fingers in his face.
Theo cracked up, and started batting Harry's hands away, "Stop it! Get away!" this immediately devolved into a slap fight, which only ended when Harry was shoved all the way off the bed. He landed on the floor with a solid thump, and Theo raised his arms over his head in victory, "Winner!"
Harry was laughing too hard to get up for a few minutes. When he finally calmed down he pulled himself up, and then immediately reached out to pull Theo's blankets off the bed. Theo groaned theatrically, "Come on." Harry said, "time to get up. The faster we eat breakfast the faster we can get to magic chocolate."
Theo yawned so wide it looked like he was trying to swallow his own face, before getting up, stepping purposefully onto Harry's stomach before running into the bathroom and slamming the door behind him, giggling faintly.
Harry groaned when he was stepped on, but couldn't react fast enough to catch his evil friend. He got off the floor and dusted himself off, feeling practically buoyant. He knew, for the first time since his Hogwarts letter had arrived, that everything was going to work out alright.
Sarah was easily convinced to take the boys over to the Brownie Realm. They had a lot of fun. Harry came back with a picnic hamper full of chocolate and Theo had a stack of chocolate bricks precariously balanced under his chin. They stopped at their rooms first to secret it away, breaking little corners off as they did, unable to resist. Theo collapsed back onto his bed with a groan, shutting his eyes just as Harry came in. "Stomach ache?"
Theo moaned pathetically, and threw an arm dramatically over his eyes, "Leave me here to die."
Harry giggled, and opened his mouth to respond, but was interrupted by the booming voice of his father, "Harry, I need you in the mirror room. Alone."
Harry furrowed his brow, concerned. Jareth sounded exhausted. He half shrugged at Theo, who had lifted his arm up to look over in confusion. "I'll be back in a few minutes. Don't wander into the labyrinth."
Theo snorted, "I'm not going to leave this bed."
Harry laughed again, and made his way to the mirror room.
The mirror room was directly below the throne room. The seven walls, floor and ceiling were all smooth sheets of Below mirror glass. Harry was comfortable with every room in their castle, but the mirror room always gave him an odd feeling, like static electricity, or standing outside while a thunderstorm rolled in. It made the hairs on his arms prickle, and sometimes it put him a bit on edge. He walked into the room with a grimace, shivering as goosebumps erupted all over. Jareth was hovering mid-air, cross-legged, the only thing in the room, with his eyes closed. Harry closed the heavy door behind himself, and the reflections bounced back and forth between all the mirrors into infinity.
"Dad?" Harry asked, hesitantly, after a few moments had gone by in silence.
Jareth sighed, loud and hard. He opened his eyes, and unfolded his legs, stepping down from mid-air like he was stepping out of a chair. "Is this really what you want?"
Harry hesitated. Jareth sounded and looked exhausted. His hair wasn't like it usually was, nearly flat against his skull at the top. His shoulders were drooping, like he was minutes away from falling asleep. "Are you okay?" Harry asked, instead of answering.
Jareth smiled ruefully, waving his hand around his head, which forced his hair up and out to it's usual style. "I've been delving deep. I had forgotten how exhausting that was. I may need to start an exercise regime of some sort. Ignore that, however. Answer my question."
Harry blew out a breath. He had no idea what Jareth meant by 'delving deep', and knew instinctively that asking would not get him any more information. "I know it's … extreme. But it makes sense. I can feel that it's the right thing to do." Jareth looked doubtful. Harry quickly searched for another reason, unable to really articulate why the plan felt so right. "It fits the prophecy."
Jareth snorted. "You know better than that. Trying to 'figure out' a prophecy is fool's work."
Harry tried not to fidget under his father's scrutiny. "I don't know. I don't know what you want me to say. I just know that this plan, if you think it's possible, feels right to me. It answers all of your concerns, and mine. We both get what we want."
Jareth blew out another breath, and two crystals appeared in his hands. He sent them spinning with a casual flick. "What I want is for you to be kept safe, here, forever. To never leave and never have to worry about anything." Harry didn't know what to say to that, and his mouth fell open as he groped for a response. But Jareth continued before he could get his thoughts together, "That's impossible I'm sure. If I wanted that I should never have taken a wizard child to be my heir. And I can't imagine anyone but you being my heir." Harry fought a blush, and looked down to the floor, but Jareth's proud face was reflected off the floor back up at him.
Jareth waved both of his hands out, sending the two spinning crystals flying. They stopped a hairsbreadth from the walls. They froze there for a moment, before beginning to spin, slowly but at the same rate. Jareth rolled his hands, creating two more crystals, and flung them out too, to a third and fourth wall. Jareth moved back two steps until he was in the exact center of the room. He created two more and sent them to the fifth and sixth wall, and then closed his eyes, cupped his hands in front of himself. Harry watched this with a bit of amazement. Harry couldn't yet create crystals. He could call them, have them appear from somewhere, or transfigure paper or other supplies into crystal. Harry was good at juggling them, but couldn't keep them moving when he wasn't in contact with them.
Jareth drew in a deep breath. The six crystals continued to spin, one in the center of each wall, except for the north facing wall. Suddenly Jareth flung his cupped hands out, and each crystal split into three. The top crystals drifted up to nearly touch the ceiling, while the second crystals stayed where they were. The last drifted down to hover near the floor. A slight furrow appeared in Jareth's brow, and, with a flash, images appeared in each of the spinning crystals. Harry looked over to the one that was closest to him, and saw a group of dwarfs in a mine. On his other side a group of faries stipped necter from teacups.
An enormous yellow crystal slowly collapsed into existence in front of Jareth. He reached out, cupping it carefully, as he would a flame. Almost gently he pushed it towards the empty wall. It stopped, nearly kissing its own reflection.
Jareth groaned with relief, and opened his eyes, stumbling forward a bit. "There." He said, his voice rough. "Those are the bridges to each realm. We will have to break each of them to separate this realm's time stream. I haven't manifested them in a number of decades. But they must be manifest to be broken."
Harry looked around the room, picking out images of realms he'd been to, and ones he hadn't yet seen, "It's beautiful."
Jareth blinked, looking around the room, "Yes. I suppose it is. We currently have 18 bridges anchored here. It will take me roughly an hour to remove each of them. Adding in recovery and meal breaks, and it will take two days for us to complete the process."
Harry moved around the room, looking at the steadily spinning crystals. He stopped when he found the image of Stonehenge. "When do we start?"
Jareth blew out a breath, "Sarah's holiday is in three days."
Harry had to smile, "It's called Christmas actually."
Jareth waved that off with an eyeroll, "The day after that we will go Above and collect the supplies you will need. Books and so on. We'll drop your friend off at his house, and return here to begin the process of breaking the bridges."
Harry considered this plan. "I think some of the stores may be closed the day after Christmas, so we may need another day." Jareth inclined his head in absent acknowledgement. Harry blew out a breath, "So we're really doing this?"
Jareth sighed, and then took a seat on nothing, propping his chin on his palm as he looked at his son, "Your mother is very much in favor of your mad plan. I am in favor of you not going back to Hogwarts." Jareth sighed and reached up to tug at the ends of his hair, "I'll be honest with you. I am going forward with this because I am hoping, however fruitlessly, that you will lose interest in the wizarding world as you age."
Harry's stomach twisted nervously. He considered what to say for a moment, before finally settling on, "I guess we'll see."
Jareth snorted softly, and stood again, "Your friend should go home before we start breaking bridges. I haven't done it in many decades but I faintly remember that one breaking sometimes backlashed and broke another. I'd hate to have to leave that friend of yours in some other realm."
Harry half smiled. "I'll let him know."
Theo had been pretty understanding when Harry had informed him that he couldn't stay after Boxing Day. Theo had written a letter home, and received a response that his parents would be expecting him on the 27th through the end of break.
Harry and Theo spent the three days before Christmas exploring the seemingly never ending adventure of the labyrinth. Twice, Harry got Sarah to bring them through to other realms to explore there as well. At night they worked together on their homework assignments.
Harry, meanwhile, and without letting Theo know, began preparing for the next nine years. He unpacked his trunk and evaluated all the books he had. He sent Hedwig through a mirror with a letter for Professor Snape, asking for a copy of the book lists for every year, and any additional recommendations. After a moment's hesitation he also asked if there were perhaps any exams from the upper years that he could use as study guides. He hoped that the Professor wouldn't ask too many questions. He wouldn't put it past the man to figure out the plan with a little more information.
Together he and Jareth wrote a letter to the Goblins at the bank, explaining what they were going to do and asking them to send a goblin with the most complete understanding of the Above world and politics, who would be willing to teach the royal family what they knew. After a moment of consideration Jareth sent a similar letter to the elves and fairies, asking them to send over some books for the training of his heir. He casually mentioned that he was reconstructing the bridges to Below and they would be down for a while.
Harry got a response from Professor Snape on the 24th. The list was two scrolls long and somehow the man had managed to pointedly not ask any questions. Harry had to smile at the clear air of 'whatever crazy thing you're planning, I don't need to know'. Harry compared the list to the books he'd already purchased and crossed off the ones he already had.
Theo was also pointedly not asking any questions. He ignored the arrival of Snape's two scrolls, and didn't ask any questions about why he couldn't stay until the end of break. Harry appreciated it, because he didn't want to lie.
On Christmas Eve Sarah left to visit her human family as she always did. Jareth opened a mirror to Above and spelled it to be an open portal so that owls could come and go easily. Harry sent Hedwig out with Christmas presents for Neville and Professor Snape, and tried not to wonder about getting anything back. To distract himself he took Theo out to give some treats to the various Goblin villages around the labyrinth.
Sarah came back Christmas Eve, late. She stumbled through the mirror with a scowl. Harry looked up from where he and Jareth were constructing a Christmas tree with a smile. "Did you have fun with your family mom?"
Sarah's scowl lightened, and she reached out to comb her fingers through Harry's wild hair absentmindedly. "I suppose that's one way to put it. Darling do we have any-?" Sarah's question was interrupted by Jareth waving his fingers lazily, and handing her the glass that appeared. Sarah took the glass of wine with a grateful sigh, and immediately fell into her throne with another, heavy, sigh. She closed her eyes as she took a drink, and didn't reopen them.
Harry shot Jareth a concerned look. Jareth shook his head minutely, and they turned their attention back to the tree under construction. It was, of course, made entirely of glass and crystal. Harry had constructed the trunk this year out of one thick cylinder of brownish glass, Jareth was creating green shards that looked more like icicles that tree branches, in Harry's opinion. They were sticking the shards carefully around the top of the trunk to make it look like a normal tree. Neither of them fully understood what this holiday was all about, or what a tree had to do with it, but since Sarah had come they celebrated every year. Sarah had given up trying to explain about two years ago.
Jareth handed the last shard to Harry, who considered where to stick it with a squint, before picking one spot that was a little sparser than the rest, he pressed it into that spot, focusing his energy on fusing it to the trunk piece, until he felt the glass give a little, and the two pieces meld. Project done, he stepped back, grinning at their glittery creation. He bounced over to where Sarah was sitting, eyes still closed, a now nearly empty wine glass in her hand. "What do you think mom?"
Sarah's eyes cracked open, and she looked at the tree. A smile unfurled across her face, "It's gorgeous. I love it. Is it supposed to be a maple tree?"
Jareth hummed softly, looking it up and down, "We went a bit more abstract this year. It's the idea of a tree." He frowned suddenly, "Is it supposed to be a certain kind of tree?"
Sarah hid a smile by taking the last sip of wine, "No, no definitely not. It's perfect. Couldn't ask for anything better." She held out a hand and Harry took it, clambering up onto her chair with her. He rested his head against her shoulder, and her hand came up to comb gently through his hair. She sighed heavily.
Jareth glanced at her out of the corner of his eye. He poked at the tree a few times, but Harry could clearly see he wanted to ask Sarah how things had gone at home. Harry decided to put him out of his misery, "How'd it go with your family mom?"
She sighed heavily again, and the fingers in his hair paused for a moment before she started gently brushing through his hair again. "Well. Let's just say it wasn't the way I wish our last meeting for the next nine years went."
Jareth scowled heavily. Harry knew from experience that Jareth didn't like Sarah's family, but that any time he'd tried to comment on it he and Sarah had gotten into intense fights. Harry knew Jareth wouldn't comment until he couldn't physically hold it in anymore, in order to avoid those fights.
Harry sighed. "You could stay with them you know."
Sarah laughed softly, and leaned over to smack a kiss to his forehead, "It'd be much worse to miss nine years of your life than have my parents miss nine years of mine. It'll be fine." She sighed again, "I just wish that my last memory of them for nine years wasn't them telling me that I'd never do anything with my life if I didn't quit my job and go to college."
Jareth muttered something under his breath and Harry spoke loudly to cover it up, "That's too bad Mom."
"Thanks honey." Sarah said. Just then, a whole wise of owls flew through the mirror portal Harry had left open in the corner of the room. Harry jumped up with a squeal of delight, taking the various packages from the owls. Some were for Theo, and Harry placed them under the tree for the morning, and started looking at the ones that were for him. There was one from Neville, and one from each of his Slytherin dorm mates. There was also a package with no kind of tag on it at all. He frowned at it, turning it over in his hands, trying to see if the tag had maybe fallen off or if there was writing on the package itself.
Jareth pulled it out of his hands abruptly, frowning at it. "What is this?"
Harry raised his eyebrows, "I have no idea." He looked around, but the owl that had dropped it had already vanished back through the mirror.
"This is ancient, powerful magic." Jareth was frowning heavily, and carefully opened the package, practically shivering as he pulled out a silvery cloak. He dropped the packaging, focusing completely on the cloak. "My word."
A piece of paper fluttered out and Harry grabbed it. In fine elegant script the note said, This belonged to your father. Blachl adfbafadfb lkdnvlaksndv Use it well.
Harry felt the tingle in his fingers that signaled a spell on the paper. He frowned, and dropped it. "There's a note with a spell on it Dad."
Jareth's head snapped up and he stuck his hand out, the note flew off the floor to snap into his hand. He rubbed it between his fingers like someone checking the validity of a gold coin. With a sharp jerk he pinched his fingers together and tugged a light blue shimmer off the page. Harry had to squint to see it, but it was definitely there.
Jareth frowned at it, "Another tracking spell. That man will never give up."
Harry's eyebrows went up, "Dumbledore again?"
Jareth's snort was answer enough, and he walked over to the mirror, still pinching the tracking spell between his fingers. He stuck his hand through the mirror. The image rippled like a pool of water, and then settled when Jareth pulled his hand free again, now without the spell. He dusted his hands together, and glanced back at the cloak. "That thing reeks of Death."
Harry blinked, looking down at it. He took a hesitant step away from it, "Like death?"
Jareth smiled at him, and leaned down to grab the thing, "Not like the state of dying. Like the entity of Death itself. I wonder how your wily headmaster got his hands on something that belongs to Death? It's a notorious hoarder."
Harry shrugged, "He said it belonged to James Potter."
Jareth's eyebrows went up, and then he looked at the note in his hands, which, distracted by the spell, he hadn't actually read before. "Hmmm. Well, if we assume that that's true, it only opens more questions."
Harry resisted the urge to sigh heavily.
Christmas morning dawned bright and crisp below. Theo gave the glass tree an odd look, but seemed happy enough with the presents underneath it. He especially enjoyed the gift from Harry, a selection of Brownie chocolate, Fairy nectar, and Dwarf smithed silver. All extremely rare Above, and correspondingly expensive, but easy to get Below.
Theo had gotten Harry a journal which could be blood-warded so that no one but Harry could ever read what he'd written. Sarah gave Harry some new outfits, and Jareth had given him a large purple shaded crystal, which he said he'd learn about in a few days. His dorm mates had given him various books and Neville had given him a box of chocolate frogs.
Once the presents were opened Sarah made them all large glasses of hot chocolate and french toast. They ate slowly while telling stories, laughing and enjoying the day.
On the 27th Sarah, Jareth, Harry and Theo headed up to Diagon Alley. Theo met his mother, a tall thin blonde woman who just nodded at them from across the alley while Theo made his way over to her.
The three of them spent the rest of the day shopping for everything they could think Harry would need from the wizarding world for the next nine years. At the bookstore they had to take three separate trips out to a side alley to transport bags of books through a mirror.
They also spent a while at the bank, the only place where Jareth shed his owl form. The above goblins were practically having fits trying to decide which goblin would go back down Below to help teach Harry what they knew. Jareth overcame the drama by first turning away any goblins with families, not wanting to separate anyone from their children for nine years, and then questioning them on basic facts of Above history, turning aside any who didn't know or couldn't answer, until there was one left, Ragnok, the goblin who ran the bank. Jareth then told him to come Below as soon as he'd packed what he would need for the next nine years.
That decided, the little family of three went back out to the Alley, and continued their shopping spree. They were nearly done when a small black owl flew down and landed on his shoulder. Harry took the letter from the owl and read it quickly. It was from Professor Snape. It told him that Dumbledore had gotten a hit from one of his tracking spells in a remote part of Scotland, and had immediately gone off to see what he could find out. Harry smirked and turned the letter into a crystal with a flick of his wrist, and then stuck it in his pocket.
"Dumbledore went after that spell fragment you dropped through the mirror." Harry said to Jareth, who was in owl form on Sarah's shoulder. Jareth made a self satisfied chirping sound, and, if an owl could be said to smirk, he was definitely smirking.
Harry snorted in amusement, and they ducked into yet another store.
Back home, in the mirror room in the castle, the three of them sat in a loose triangle arranged around the center of the room. "Alright." Jareth said, looking at both of them, "We have absolutely everything you need, correct?"
Harry looked at the list he'd been working off of. It was a little tattered now, with how many times he'd pulled it from his pocket, crossed something off or edited something, and refolded it and pocketed it again. He slowly went down the entire list one last time, before nodding once. "I'm all set."
Sarah smiled softly, "And I am prepared as well."
Jareth squinted at her, "Are you sure you don't want to have one last meal with your family?"
Sarah just shook her head wordlessly, and Jareth sighed in acceptance. "Well then, Harry, come sit in front of me and close your eyes. I am going to begin collecting the power to close the bridges. Try to follow what I'm doing."
The two of them sat together, knee to knee, and began the long process of separating out their time stream.