A MALIGNANT WORLD
Harry Potter happily snuggled into his blankets, smelling the pleasantly cool summer breeze, ready for the next day. Remus Lupin was moving in tomorrow. Sirius had spent months convincing the unemployed professor to sell his family home and live with them under more comfortable circumstances. Harry loved Remus's visits, especially the happy banter and nostalgic storytelling about his father, James Potter. The thought of having a real family excited him like a little boy before Christmas. His long day of Quidditch flying practice in the countryside was carefully calculated by Sirius to counteract this, however, so that he could fall asleep quite promptly.
He awoke very soon with a start, shockingly uncomfortable. It was cold, bitterly cold, like the dead of winter. Harry began to sit up, but lost his balance from leaning on numb hands. 'Stay calm,' he commanded himself. He tried to rise more slowly and peeled his stiff eyelids open to a blurry winter world. Fumbling around, he found a navy blue backpack tied to his leg left of the pile of dirty rough cloth that was his bed. Inside he found his glasses, which were a little scratched and damaged, but he could survey his belongings and surroundings. He untied the rather nice backpack, which also contained a battered wand, a set of extra clothes, and a half-eaten loaf of frozen bread. His pajamas were gone; he was dressed in an unfamiliar newer blue cloak with a stained green coat beneath it and torn jeans with damp cuffs, presumably from slushy puddles.
He appeared to be in a community of transients, none looking too friendly. They were protected from the wind on each side by two large concrete pillars. Near the other pillar was a hot blue fire-wizard flame, thought Harry-around which slept at least twenty men and women, wrapped in tattered woolen cloaks. There was no one his age at all, which seemed to be a bad sign. He moved closer to the fire and was met by a threatening wand from an old man.
"Don't touch my bag! Get your own place, boy!"
"No, I just wanted to get warm for a minute. Can you tell me, where am I? What is this place?"
The elder wizard eyed him very suspiciously. "You've been hanging around here for two weeks, boy. Do you expect me to believe this idiocy? I don't feel sorry for you. Get out!"
Harry backed away a little. "You misunderstand-"
But the man was still yelling at him, and the entire group had awoken. A toothless hag approached him and slurred, "I told you not to cause any more trouble or you'd be out. Bad enough with you yelling about your nightmares and waking us up, but picking a fight with Willie is the last straw." She spat when she spoke, causing Harry to withdraw. "Get out!"
Harry didn't see any reason to argue, so he rushed to retrieve his bag and left the camp before any others challenged him. He had to find out where he was anyway. He ran up an embankment and discovered he had been beneath a bridge near a frozen pond. Nothing seemed familiar. If he had been kidnapped and taken somewhere, it still shouldn't be winter. He shivered and wished for the July night to which he had fallen asleep. He began to search for more people, running until he found a park where a gathering of very old witches and wizards were sleeping. He sat down away from them in a dark corner behind a tree, lit a fire with his abused wand--it took three tries-- and tried to gather his thoughts.
A dirty, scarred, middle-aged man in black crossed the street and walked silently through the sleepers. He watched them carefully for signs of movement. Two women didn't appear to be breathing, so he pried their wands from their hands and ran. He was too absorbed to notice Harry's fire across the park.
A sleeping wizard stirred and shoved one woman's body away from the fire. Harry shivered intensely and turned away. 'What is this place?' He extinguished his fire and moved on through the rundown streets in search of help. He passed empty dark shops with broken windows and a few mostly-intact houses, but he couldn't find anything that looked like a payphone or public floo access. He didn't even see any owls. Finally he gave in to exhaustion and decided to sleep in one of the damaged shops. No one was awake to help him anyway.
He awoke early to the sound of the shopkeeper's arrival. He escaped the shop just in time through the side door. He sat in the alley and ate some of the cold stale bread until people began to traverse the streets. Most looked very poor. Those who didn't were walking quickly and looking nervous, holding their cloaks tightly to both sides to discourage pickpockets. A notable exception appeared, however. Patrolling the road was a well-dressed, menacing looking man, whom everyone seemed to avoid. Harry pulled up his hood and came closer, pretending to windowshop in a bookstore, the London Dark Arts Book Emporium. At least he knew where he was now. He glanced sideways at the man: muscular with a black mustache and familiar. Harry's eyes grew wide in recognition, and his heart skipped a beat. It was the Ministry's executioner, the Death Eater Waldon Macnair. Harry was beginning to understand what was going on. It appeared that the Death Eaters had won, and wizard London was in ruins.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Harry sat down right on the sidewalk in shock as Macnair passed silently, glaring at everyone who caught his eye. A moment later, he arose with new resolve. He had to find out how this happened. He had to help. He suppressed his shock and questioned the nearest woman. "Did the Death Eaters take over? When did this happen?"
She walked away before he finished, shouting, "I don't have any handouts! Get away!"
Down the road, Harry could see Macnair confiscate a white-haired witch's wand. "Only the loyal deserve these," he announced to the crowd, displaying it above his head before snapping it into several pieces. Harry squeezed his own wand tightly in his coat pocket beneath his cloak.
He continued to search for answers, trying the poorer people this time. He was brushed off, shoved aside, even punched in the head by a drunken wizard, leaving a bruised lump which throbbed miserably in the chill air. Finally, a kindly witch took him aside. "Boy, if you really don't know what's going on, then you'd better not let anyone know. You-Know-Who's men will make an example of you."
He tried a different tact. "Please, could you tell me which way I can go to find houses with families? Or maybe people my age? I'm not from around here."
"People your age?" she quoted, looking stern. "You looking for muggles or what?"
"Well, no..." stammered Harry. "Just... wizard families--but none of You-Know-Who's people."
"Wizard families. That aren't Death Eaters? You ARE confused. Well, your best bet is the edge of muggle London then. You need to head north, past Crystal Alley. And try to keep a low profile, dear. Crystal Alley's all You-Know-Who's loyalists, and you're not safe unless you belong there."
He thanked her and headed up the road. Fortunately, Macnair was gone. The witch had not misled him. Over a few hours' walk, the crowds thinned and the battered storefronts turned into luxurious manors at Crystal Alley. Harry felt the familiar sickening feeling of nearby Dementors as he rushed past the opulent Death Eater homes. They had Dementors patrolling their neighborhood? Suddenly, Crystal Alley ended, and he was in Muggle London, which appeared largely normal. He quickly shoved his blue cloak into his bag, exposing his muggle jacket. He turned back, and the wizard section was disguised as a large factory and parking lot.
He spotted a payphone on the corner and ran to it. He dialed Sirius's new phone number collect. The operator informed him that there was no such phone number in service. Harry dropped the receiver, defeated. He considered trying the Dursleys but knew they wouldn't answer. He didn't remember any other phone numbers. Where was he going to go?
He headed to an electronics store with many televisions in the window. Cautiously, he entered, so he could watch the news. "...Another young man was slashed viciously and left to die in Surrey. Brian Morrison, age twenty-two, was found in the forest near his home last night. The werewolf was apprehended and destroyed by police. Its human identity is currently unknown. A photo of an ill-looking blond-haired teenager was displayed with a telephone number below it. Harry choked in shock and nearly ran into a video player display. 'Werewolves? On the MUGGLE news?!' And "yesterday's" date on the screen was last January. It was the same year. But the next story was a greater shock. "Still at large is the wizard Thomas M. Riddle, also known as Voldemort, believed to be of Little Hangleton." A sketch of Tom Riddle was displayed, looking little older than his diary, but very human. Harry missed the rest of the report. He didn't hear how Riddle was armed and dangerous and not to be approached at all costs as he outright fled the store, knocking over merchandise. The owner pursued him and called him a thief.
Harry ran until he couldn't anymore and stopped by a department store. He caught his reflection in the window before his breath fogged it. He looked quite like a vagrant. Surreptitiously, he entered, looking for a washroom. He managed to get much of the dirt and ashes off his face and changed into the other cleaner clothes, but he was sorely in need of a haircut and bath. He looked much less noticeable already, though. A quick spell removed a few big stains from the oversized green coat. Refreshed and warmer, he headed back outside.
He rested by a covered-over fountain in the shape of a large unicorn, digesting this new reality. It wasn't seeing Voldemort's picture that frightened him--it was that he looked so young and human and that he was on television! The muggles even knew he was a wizard! Everyone around him thought the world was normal. No one knew anything was wrong but him. He felt weak and scared and overwhelmed. He needed to find help soon.
He was lost in half-panicked thought when someone gripped his shoulder from behind. "Harry, is that you?" a familiar voice hissed, turning him roughly.
"Sirius! I'm so glad--"
"Shh!" Sirius Black clamped a hand tightly over his mouth. "Not so loud. We don't know who's listening." He let go. "Come on. You're going home. NOW."
"Okay!" The man seemed surprised by his compliance but still half-dragged him into an empty alley. Sirius put his arms around Harry and they disapparated, reappearing in a very small but clean apartment.
"Where is this?" Harry pulled away. Even if the world had gone crazy, he'd still expected to be going back to their house.
Sirius ignored that. "What the hell did you think you were doing, running away?! I've been looking for you for three weeks! You almost got yourself killed! You know what the Death Eaters do to children, and the werewolves are everywhere--you could have been bitten! It was just full moon!" He pressed a small silver locket into Harry's hand. "You even ran off without your amulet."
"What are you talking about? I just got here--"
Sirius smacked his head. Harry's jaw dropped in shock and pain. It hurt more than he expected, impacting where he was punched on the street earlier. Tears stung his eyes. "Now clean yourself up, Harry." Sirius left, leaving the boy motionless and silent in the bathroom doorway.
'He's not my Sirius. I'm all alone.' Still, Sirius was the only person he could trust, and he was off the street now. He'd try to find his friends soon. Harry tried to put it out of his mind as he showered. He was grateful to find clean muggle clothes waiting for him. He looked for a comb and scissors, and froze at the sight of his reflection in the mirror. His skin was rough, and he looked older, as if a hard life had aged him. Combing his tangled hair proved difficult, so he had to cut several knots out of it. He trimmed his bangs to get them out of his eyes. The scissors clattered into the sink. Something was very, very wrong. On his forehead, there was no scar at all, only a large tender welt on the opposite side near his temple.
No scar. Death Eaters everywhere. That was the missing piece. In this world, Voldemort hadn't attacked Harry as a baby, and he'd never been defeated. Harry lightly traced the pattern of his scar with his fingernail, leaving a rapidly fading mark on his unblemished skin. He'd always wanted to be "just Harry," and now he was. And Wizard London, maybe the whole wizarding world, was in ruins.
He burst into the living room to challenge Sirius. "How did my parents die? Tell me!"
Sirius turned from the fireplace, where he had been gazing at a picture of Lily Potter. "What are you talking about? I'm still angry, and I don't want to hear any games!"
Harry pushed up his bangs. "My scar is gone. Does that mean Voldemort never tried to kill me? What happened to my mum and dad?"
"Don't be ridiculous. I'm right here. What scar are you talking about?" Sirius started at the sight of his bruised forehead. "What happened to your head? I'm so sorry I hit you! I didn't know you were hurt. I was just so angry that you ran off, and your attitude has been so bad." He healed it with his wand. "Is that better? Are you dizzy at all?"
Sirius was using his special parental ability to completely ignore a child's main concern and get caught on the wrong topic. "I was hit by a drunk on the street. Look, will you pay attention? This is important! What happened to my parents?"
His godfather began to take him seriously. "You must have a concussion. Lily died ten years ago, Harry. And I'm just fine, as you can see."
Harry's face grew blank, and he became nauseous. "Mum sacrificed herself for me when I was one year old. That wasn't ten years ago."
Sirius picked up the photo off the mantle and shoved it at Harry. "Then how could you be five here?" Lily was waving, holding the hand of a young Harry. Sirius stood behind them, his hand on her shoulder. "This was right before she died. Before things got really bad."
"Listen. I'm not the Harry you know. Something's different. Everything's wrong. And are you trying to say that you're my father? My father is James Potter, and he was killed by Voldemort. You're my godfather. You were best friends at Hogwarts," Harry tried to explain futilely.
Sirius exploded, and Harry was afraid he'd be hit again. "Harry James Black, who have you been talking to?! Who told you that?"
"I haven't been talking to anyone. It's the truth! I'm telling you, I'm not the Harry you knew. My dad was James, and he was an Animagus, a stag. You're Padfoot, and you and Remus and Peter and my dad were best friends, but Peter was a traitor!" He sank onto the couch. "I think I'm losing my mind! Nothing's right here. There are Death Eaters everywhere."
"Losing your mind? You know better than to joke about that, with the Dementors around! I never told you these things! How could you know?" Sirius looked furious.
"Don't call me that! I'm your father."
"My mother and father were killed by Voldemort when I was a baby. My mother died for me, and when Voldemort attacked me, Avada Kedavra rebounded on him. In my world, he's weak but regaining power. I've fought him myself. Three times! You were my parents' secret keeper, but they switched to Peter, and you were blamed for their deaths. You spent twelve years in Azkaban for a crime you didn't commit. What else can I say to make you believe me? I'm not making it up. I've only been here since last night, when I woke up under a bridge."
"If you hadn't told me about James," he began slowly, "I would have thought that someone had altered your memory. James died when you were a baby. I promised Lily to take care of you, and I became your father. Lily never told you about him, and neither did I because we wanted to keep you safe. She died when you were five, and I killed the Death Eater that had come to destroy us. No one attacked you. There's no way you could have known this. Hogwarts was destroyed when you were young. The whole school blew up with hundreds of children inside. We never told you about it."
"Is that where the children went?" Harry couldn't believe that even Death Eaters could be so cruel.
"Yes. Most children older than you were killed at their schools. Many others were hunted down for 'population control.' Then wizards stopped wanting to have children out of fear. Only Loyalists to Voldemort have families now... or ones like us that pose as muggles. You're lucky you look old for your age and that you brought along a nice robe--yes, I searched your backpack. You'd have been dead as soon as you were spotted."
"I saw Macnair."
Black sighed. "You were VERY lucky, then. I didn't know you knew who he was."
"In my world he works for the Ministry, disposing of so-called dangerous creatures, but I was wondering about the muggles. I saw that Voldemort was on the news, and they knew his real name! And why isn't Muggle London destroyed?"
"Voldemort and the Death Eaters used to attack the muggles, but got bored with them. They didn't really consider them a challenge, so now they're left alone, except sometimes by the werewolves. Telling the muggles about Voldemort was Dumbledore's idea, his last before he died. He believed that knowledge was power, and that the muggles deserved to know that Voldemort was just a person named Tom Riddle. I dare say that's what prompted the attack on Hogwarts."
"Dumbledore's gone..." He was probably Harry's only hope. "Then where are Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley and Remus Lupin?"
Sirius looked at him like he was deranged. "I don't know any Grangers. Weasley, well if that's the Ministry family, they were all killed years ago when the Ministry collapsed. And Lupin... I don't know how you found out about him. He left with the werewolves years ago. If I see him, I'll kill him, the traitor."
It was a lot to digest. He sat in silence for a while before asking, "What happened to the werewolves? And... MY Remus is our friend."
The man grunted disdainfully at the last comment. "All of a sudden, you're so interested in history? The werewolves joined Voldemort the same time the giants did because the Ministry started hunting them. Voldemort promised them power and acceptance. I hear now that they're revolting against him because of more mistreatment. Personally, I don't care. They got what they deserved when they joined the enemy."
"Don't you need all the help you can get? Somebody's got to do something about this."
"We're going to question them soon. Theosa's got a lead, and the Resistance is going after them. That's why I had to find you. I'm going away for a while... again. And you CAN'T leave the building while I'm gone. We're supposed to be acting like muggles, and you could have gotten us both killed when you were out there in public."
"How did you find me? And who's Theosa?" Harry had so many questions, but he knew he'd already asked too many. Sirius kept rubbing his face and frowning.
"You always liked that unicorn fountain when you were little, before times got so bad. It was just luck that you were there, I suppose. Theosa's the Resistance leader. She comes here all the time. Look, I'm not saying I believe you, but something happened to you. You aren't even acting the same. I'm going to have Theosa check you over tomorrow to find out what's going on."
"Sir--er... I want to help the Resistance. This place is horrible."
"Maybe when you're older. Now get some food, and I want you in bed. You've been running around for days, and you look exhausted."
Harry slept in the only bedroom, basically a windowless closet with a bed that uncomfortably reminded him of the cupboard under the stairs on Privet Drive. He heard the door lock behind him and a muttered spell to prevent escape. It seemed that this Sirius was still worried about his "son" running away. Harry was too exhausted to care and just relieved to see someone familiar who almost believed him. The lumpy bed was a comfort to his sore body, and his large dinner had filled his stomach pleasantly. He drifted to sleep, mind confused and stressed, wondering if his friends were really dead and hoping fervently that everything would be normal in the morning.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Harry's dreams were full of fear and running, cloaked Death Eaters confronting him at every corner. He awoke with a scream to find Sirius already beside him. "You were yelling. You had a nightmare. Go back to sleep."
"Please stay with me?" he murmured, not opening his eyes.
"Okay. Just rest."
Harry then dreamed of his mother. She was telling a story to children, a large group that seemed to stretch on as far as he could see. Her hair and skin glowed from within, and she was the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. A true angel. "Mum, what's happening? Who are these children?"
"These are the ghosts of the past. Children who never got to grow up because of Voldemort. I'm their guardian now." She patted a little girl's head.
"What do you mean? I... don't know what's happening. I really just want to go home."
She came to him and held him close, filling him with strength and joy. "You can't go home yet. These children deserve justice. Everyone deserves justice. You must help defeat Voldemort and bring this world back to its proper destiny. Only friendship and love can overcome evil. Remember that."
She seemed to fade away, as Harry yelled for her to come back. "Don't leave me! I have so much to tell you!" She disappeared as Harry awoke alone in the dark, foreign room.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Breakfast was eaten in silence as Sirius read the muggle newspaper. Theosa apparated suddenly. She was a tall, formidable, middle-aged woman dressed in plain dark grey muggle clothes with her blonde hair tightly bound in a bun. Her sharp green eyes looked Harry over intensely, seeming to pierce his thoughts. "I'm glad you found him, Sirius. Patrols have increased at the border. You were just in time."
She gently drew him to her, placed her wrist to his forehead and closed her eyes. Harry felt an unusual sense of being in two places at once. He felt more aware than before, filled with a tingling excitement. It ended abruptly, leaving him with a sense of loss, of feeling too simple.
"You were right to call me, Sirius, but not for the reason you thought. He has had no recent Death Eater contact. He is absolutely telling the truth, and he's here to help us." Theosa released him with a smile. "Something big is about to happen, isn't it, Harry?"
Black shot out of his chair. "You believe him? Then, what happened?"
"Wait, how did you do that?" Harry asked excitedly. "You believe me? Can you help me get back?"
"It's a very rare ability and a very helpful one. And you know you're not supposed to go back yet. The Resistance needs you." She addressed Sirius, "I don't know how he got here, but their minds have been switched. I don't believe your son is in any danger. They'll both return at the proper time."
"My world's a lot safer than this one, if he's there," observed Harry just as Sirius said, "He's a lot better behaved than mine, anyway. I'll keep him."
Harry looked shocked. "Don't you love him?"
Sirius's trademark smirk showed as he ruffled the boy's hair. "Just kidding." He had a sense of humor after all. "If Theosa believes you, it has to be true. I trust her with my life. I just don't understand it, though."
Theosa and Sirius discussed strategies for several hours in the living room. Harry didn't know the background, so his mind wandered. When the topic came to werewolves, though, he blurted out, "We have to find Remus Lupin!"
Theosa's eyes leveled on him. "Why do you think that?"
Harry turned red. He wasn't sure what made him say that. He thought for a moment, then answered, "In my world, we were afraid that the werewolves and giants would join Voldemort. Dumbledore said we had to get to them before the Death Eaters did. Remus is my friend, and Sirius's too. I know we can convince him."
Sirius scoffed. "He's NOT my friend. I'd rather put a silver bullet in him. He ran off as soon as the Ministry started looking for his kind and joined the Dark Side. He never tried to stand up for himself... or help Lily and me."
Angry tears came to Harry's eyes, but he suppressed them. He started to speak, but the leader stopped him.
"I think, Sirius, that we have to believe that fundamentally people are the same here as in Harry's world. If Harry believes that Lupin should be your friend, perhaps you've misjudged him. We should proceed with our plan but with different intentions. It's time someone offered peace to the werewolves."
Sirius's respect for Theosa was the only thing that stopped him for speaking his mind. "I still say we go soon, while they're weak from the full moon."
"We go tonight to meet the London pack. I'll inform everyone, and we'll convene at dusk. Bring Harry." Theosa disapparated abruptly.
"She wants me to bring you?" His godfather was silent for a moment. "Bring your silver amulet, at least. I am going armed."
Harry pulled the shiny engraved necklace from his pocket. Before he put it on, he pried open the locket with a fingernail. "It's my mom."
"I gave that to you when your mother died. She charmed it to protect you. I couldn't believe you left it here. Well, my Harry did. God, I hope he's okay. We weren't getting along very well because I'm gone a lot." Sadness clouded his eyes for a moment. "Get some dinner and get ready. We'll have to go soon. I guess you'll get to see what I do when I'm not working in muggle law enforcement."
"You're a policeman?"
"It pays the bills, and I get a lot of Death Eater information. Sometimes I have to cover up certain things from the muggles too. Now what's this you said yesterday about Azkaban?"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
They convened at an empty warehouse and met around a large table with odd mismatched chairs. There were five people that Harry hadn't met, three men and two women, all clad in black muggle clothes. Theosa didn't mention Harry's situation at all as she began to brief everyone. "We should thank Rebekah for gaining the knowledge we needed to implement our plan tonight."
Rebekah, a pretty witch with a long dark braid, was unusually quiet with a strange look on her face, as if her mind were far elsewhere. Theosa stopped speaking just as Harry had observed this. She recognized the look in Rebekah's eyes. It was unfocused but forcing itself to concentrate. In a swift movement, Theosa grabbed her, pinning her arms to her sides and holding her firmly to the leader's chest. The group held a stunned silence. Rebekah made no resistance, leaning limply as she was held down. Theosa's eyes narrowed further with suspicion. She scanned the other woman's mind. It was blank, with little thought and just an awareness of her surroundings. Her memory was gone, and she was an empty vessel waiting to deliver information to the enemy.
The other wizards and witches looked upset before Theosa even explained anything. Theosa's wand rendered Rebekah unconscious, and she slumped on the table. The others had obviously seen this before, but Harry had no idea what was going on. Theosa looked at him sadly. "She's been tapped by the Death Eaters. They used a powerful memory charm to destroy her memory, and now she is meant to mentally record our activities and report back to them."
'A human video recorder...' Harry asked quietly, "Will she recover? What will happen to her?"
"She's gone. Someone will need to stay behind and keep her here." She took a deep breath. "I thought that all of you could defend yourselves, but maybe I was wrong. Does anyone have any information about this?"
The freckled pale-skinned witch next to Rebekah was sobbing. "I was supposed to see her yesterday, but she never came. I didn't think anything was wrong."
"It's not your fault," Theosa's expression softened. "Just bring her back to your home and stay with her until we get back. We'll resolve this then." The girl nodded, touched Rebekah's back, then they both disapparated. She continued her briefing. "Since Rebekah has been lost, we may be entering a trap. I still feel that the time to contact the werewolves is now. Proceed with extra caution. We are leaving earlier than planned, so we still may be ahead of the Death Eaters. We now have to negotiate with the wolves before they do."
They prepared to disapparate, Harry still confused as to his role and disturbed by what had happened to Rebekah. She would likely be killed, he decided, shivering. He wouldn't let that happen to himself.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The forest clearing was deceptively peaceful in the darkness with a gentle snowfall illuminated in the dim moonlight. Everyone was on guard, but none of the seven expected an attack from above. They were physically overwhelmed by unnatural werewolf strength as their attackers leapt from the tree branches, having smelled and heard the group in advance. They were apparated into an old house before they knew what had happened. The six wizards and their leader were cornered in a musty room by twenty male werewolves with wands. They were in human form, but that made them no less intimidating.
"We're on a mission of peace!" Theosa declared, pocketing her wand.
Someone stepped forward. It was Remus Lupin, looking absolutely terrifying. His hair was very long and grey and his bearded face had a long jagged scar across his cheek. He had a look of wild fury in his eyes when he saw Sirius Black. Lupin snarled, "You want peace? So why are you carrying silver?" He gestured at Sirius's silver bracelet.
"For our protection only." Theosa answered for him.
Sirius returned the look of hatred. "So what are you going to do with us?"
"You mean to ask what I should do with YOU. What about doing the same thing you let the Ministry do to werewolves ten years ago? Or should we just keep you here for a few weeks until we get hungry?" Lupin leaned close to his enemy.
Black chose that moment to release his handful of silver dust into Lupin's face. Remus screamed and recoiled, and Sirius earned himself a magical binding and gagging from the other werewolves.
Harry was beginning to realize how impossible his situation was. "Are you okay, Remus?"
Remus grunted as a friend tried to wipe the silver dust with an old cloth. He couldn't see Harry as his face began to blister.
"Let me help. It won't hurt me to touch it. Remus, it's me, Harry."
Remus stopped breathing for a moment and gestured to the other man. "Roger, give it to him."
Harry wiped the dust from his friend's face quickly and got out his wand. It was immediately seized. "I just wanted to help him. Do you have any ointment?"
Roger shoved a tube of smelly ointment into his hand. "Use this. No wand."
The boy gently rubbed the ointment onto Remus's face, being sure to reach the small creases in his eyelids. The swelling reduced quickly, but his face was looking shiny and scarred. "Can you see?"
Remus tentatively opened his eyes. "Mostly. Why are you here, Harry?"
Harry didn't answer. "Please don't hurt Sirius. He's just being an idiot."
On the floor, Sirius grunted from behind his gag in response.
Harry leaned over Sirius. "Are you okay?" One of the older male wizards tried to pull him back, and before he reached Harry, he was thrown against the wall by one of the captors. His head impacted with a loud crack, and he didn't move.
"That was a valuable hostage, Louis! You didn't have to do that!" screamed Lupin, his rage turned on his own packmate. "You killed him."
"We're hostages?" asked Theosa evenly.
"You are now our hostages until we get what we want."
"To have equal rights with normal wizards. To have equal safety and opportunities. And protection from Voldemort."
Sirius grunted wildly on the floor, writhing around. Angus, one of the wizards, leaned close to him and whispered something.
The last wizard, Andrus, spoke up. "Have you even been to London? We don't have any rights either, unless we pretend to be Muggles or join the Death Eaters! They kill our children, and we live in the streets starving. It's not like it used to be. We want your help to get rid of the enemy! We're on the same side here!"
Theosa walked very close to Lupin and looked deeply into his eyes. "You know we're telling the truth. Please let some of them go. I know you want peace too."
Lupin's men advanced on her, but he held them back with an outstretched arm. His eyes were still locked with Theosa's as he tried to read her intentions. "She's telling the truth," he said softly to the others. "Let two go."
Andrus and his brother Angus disapparated suddenly. Harry appealed, "Please untie Sirius. I'll make sure he doesn't do anything stupid."
Theosa whispered, "You three need to talk." Remus nodded automatically.
"What's she doing to you?" yelled the violent werewolf, Louis. "She's putting you under a spell!" He forcefully grabbed Theosa by the throat and shoved her against the wall, holding her above the floor.
"Let her go!" screamed both Harry and Remus.
Theosa was oddly compliant as she leveled her gaze upon Harry. Her eyes seemed to reassure him. In an instant, her throat was crushed, and she was gone.
"She was our last hope," murmured Sirius, who had escaped his bonds in the commotion.
"Society doesn't have room for people like you, Louis. You're why people hate us." Remus's eyes filled with rage as he leveled his wand at the other werewolf. No one moved to stop him. Sirius's wand joined his. Both simultaneously shot out silver projectiles into Louis's heart. Louis fell to the ground, dead, with a stunned look on his face. Lupin whirled around. "Would anyone else care to challenge me?"
Everyone shrunk away from the alpha male. "Go!" yelled Lupin to the werewolves. The three of them were alone now.
"So, Lupin," Sirius spat, "you say you didn't join Voldemort? Where have you been then?"
Harry covered his face with his hands. It was all up to him. Remus and Sirius were half-crazed lunatics, and he had to forge a friendship between them. 'I'd really just like to go home now,' he wished.
"Remus," he began, "I know you didn't join Voldemort. Sirius, I know you don't really believe that he did."
"No, I didn't join him. If I had, I wouldn't be living in a collapsing old farmhouse with twenty-three other people," he pointed out.
Sirius seemed to censor himself as his mouth opened and shut silently. He stared into Lupin's eyes, searching for a sign of familiarity. "I hear that the werewolves who joined him aren't more than slaves, actually. Involuntary soldiers on the full moon."
Something broke between them as they stared at each other. Maybe it was a canine sense, or just old friendship remembered, but they both backed down and began to communicate.
Harry withdrew to another corner of the room. The discussion soon turned to him. He noticed that Sirius avoided mentioning that he was from another dimension, rather prudent considering the shaky ground they were on. Lupin wanted to know what happened to Lily, why Harry was present at such a dangerous situation here, and finally, just what sort of person he'd grown up to be.
"You'd be proud," Sirius smiled, dropping his guard. "I think he would have been as good a student as you were." This brought the subject to old times at Hogwarts and some tense old memories.
"You know," recollected Remus, "that damn Death Eater Snape would have deserved it. I heard he led the attack to destroy the school. Maybe if I had attacked him, things would have turned out differently."
Harry had to resist the urge to smack himself in the forehead. 'United by their homicidal urges. At least that's something.' He thought he actually heard them apologizing to each other a moment later.
"Harry, I'm sorry I wasn't there for you." Remus said. "I'm so sorry about Lily. I was already in hiding then."
"It's okay," he mumbled. "I just want you two, er... to not kill each other."
They both laughed. Sirius threw his silver bracelet to the floor and embraced Remus. "I didn't realize how much I missed you. Harry and I were alone, and it was easy to blame you for everything. I'm so glad you didn't join Voldemort."
Remus looked a little awkward. "Me too. That you didn't, I mean. No more silver dust, please?"
At that moment, a dozen Death Eaters burst into the building and captured them so quickly that they had no time to react.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Harry awoke to a pounding head on a cold concrete slab. He could see Sirius and Remus lying near him.
Sirius had a stream of blood dripping from his temple. "Oh, I forgot, Remus. I was supposed to tell you that one of my people was tapped." He tried to rise too quickly and sank back down to the floor. "Didn't know that anyone was coming though. At least not yet."
"That was too easy for them," realized Lupin. "Where were my guards?"
"I think you got sold out."
Harry struggled to his feet. "There's something I have to tell you! I had a dream, and my mother told me that I had to defeat Voldemort. I think we have to do it together."
The men looked at him like he was mental.
"No, really. Do you have any wands? That Roger took mine. Not that it worked very well, anyway."
Sirius replied, "It used to work fine. Did you break it?" He checked himself. "The Death Eaters got mine."
"No, it wasn't broken. Maybe it wasn't compatible with me."
Remus had leaned over to pull something long and dark from his sock. "I still have my spare."
"Excellent. Now what do we do?"
Footsteps echoed down the hall as their jailers returned. Remus shoved his wand back to safety to preserve their one advantage.
Four dark robed non-descript Death Eaters arrived, led by Barty Crouch Junior. He leveled his wand at Sirius. "I believe you have some information you would like to share. Imperio!"
Sirius's eyes glazed over.
"I want the names of all of your co-conspirators. You will tell me where we can find them."
"NO!" Harry lunged and grasped at Crouch through the bars. Sirius regained control of himself and pulled him back.
"Crucio!" screamed Crouch, blasting all three with the Unforgivable curse. Sirius and Remus fell to the cell floor screaming and writhing. Harry just blinked at the Death Eaters, frankly confused. No agony, not even a twinge. He dropped to the floor quickly to help the two men, but the screams had already ceased. Crouch glared at Harry, focusing his curse on him. "Crucio!" Nothing. "Imperio!" Nothing. "Avada Kedavra!" he shrieked in fury. The blinding green light hit Harry, but he didn't move. Stunned, Crouch stood motionless for a moment before stalking off, commanding his companions to guard his cell. "The Dark Lord must see this!"
The guards ceased staring at Harry after quite a while and stood to the side of the cell to discuss what had happened. Lupin took the opportunity to cast a silencing charm so they could talk.
"How did you do it?" Sirius shouted. "You should have been dead! He hurt the two of us!"
Harry sat in silence, rubbing his forehead. No scar, no mother's protection, not that he had ever even been protected even that much in his world. How did he resist the Unforgivable Curses? He hadn't felt anything.
Remus patted his arm. "Harry, tell us what you're thinking."
"I don't understand why I wasn't hurt."
"Harry... you said you had trouble with your wand. Use mine for a moment."
He took it. "Lumos." Nothing. "Lumos!" Nothing. "Lumos!" Finally the wand glowed with a small ball of wizard flame.
"My wand works fine, Harry. There must be something different about you."
Sirius came closer. "There is. He doesn't belong here." Quickly, he explained the events of the last few days.
Lupin looked skeptical but conceded that it could explain Harry's unusual resistance.
"Maybe... somehow... my magic is different because I'm not from this world. I can't really explain it, but I don't even know how I got here, either. My scar is gone... This isn't even my body. Wait." Harry pulled up his right sleeve. There was also no scar from Wormtail's cut from Voldemort's rebirth ceremony. "Voldemort's just a human, isn't he? He looked human on television."
Sirius and Remus looked at him blankly.
"I mean, he never attacked me, never lost his body. I think... I think if my magic just worked better I could defeat him. I've fought Voldemort before. And he doesn't know what to expect from me now."
"Maybe we should try to escape," Sirius whispered. "I don't know what you think you could do, Harry, but we've got to get out of here."
"No. They're going to bring me to Voldemort. I can help this place. I can kill him; I'm supposed to... If I just had my old wand..." He sank into a befuddled silence.
Remus spoke slowly, "Maybe there is a way. You could have our magic and your resistance together. Sirius, would you submit to a blood binding?"
"You mean with you? Er... I don't think that's safe! You're a werewolf! We don't want to become--"
"Sirius, we don't have much time. It doesn't matter whether werewolf blood is safe if we are executed."
Harry agreed, "You two need to live. Someone has to bring back order around here. There are a lot more Death Eaters out there than just Voldemort. I think... you're supposed to. I'll do anything. What do I do?"
"We three commingle blood, say a spell, and our abilities become joined. You could take my wand and do magic, and it's likely we would gain your resistance to attack as well. We would try to give you our strength, so we may be weak."
"Absolutely. Let's do it." Harry shot a wary look at the guards.
"Hold out your hand." Remus gently scraped Harry's and Sirius's cut foreheads and smeared the blood onto Harry's hand. Then he scratched his own arm, hard, tearing open a long, jagged half-healed wound, making Harry cringe. He joined it to the small puddle of blood that sat Harry's left hand, dripping between his fingers. "You will need to focus on us. Think only about us as hard as you can."
Harry concentrated, his vision beginning to blur darkly at the edges. He thought about his friends and how glad he was that they had forgiven each other and how important that it was that they unite.
"Keep focusing. Now we all grasp hands and say 'Haemo Annexio.' Say it together."
"Haemo Annexio." Harry blinked, clearing his vision, and stared at his bloody hand uncomfortably.
"Let it dry." Remus advised. "It won't take long."
He shook his hand a little and then watched it. It was turning rusty brown, and rather quickly the stain disappeared entirely. He picked up their only wand and faced the back of the cell. "Lumos!" The ball of flame was huge. He turned and aimed the wand at the guards through the cell bars. "Stupefy!" They looked around at each other, looked at him, and wandered off muttering to each other in confusion. "Excellent!"
Remus looked exhausted. "Frankly, I'm surprised that it worked. It's a very advanced spell, and it requires more... loyalty than I would have expected."
"You're my family. In my world, anyway." Harry smiled at Sirius, who was sitting down tiredly. "Now we wait." He tucked the wand in his pocket.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Where are the guards?" Crouch roared. "My Lord, I left four guards here."
Voldemort waved his hand. "We'll deal with them later. Fortunately, your prisoners are still here." Harry rose to meet him, stepping close to the bars. Voldemort looked little more than fifty years old instead of nearly seventy, probably due to his magical skills. However, his icy blue eyes were normal, and he appeared quite human. "My servant spent a great deal of time attempting to convince me that you cannot be killed, boy. How could that be?"
Behind Harry, Remus and Sirius edged to the far corner of the cell, still weak from the blood binding. Harry met his enemy's gaze unswervingly. "Maybe your servant's wand needs maintenance."
"Petulance will be punished. Cooperation will be rewarded."
Harry needed to get out of the cell, so cooperation seemed to be in order. "Test me then... my Lord. I could be an asset to you."
Voldemort's eyes narrowed, but he still seemed curious. Rather than opening the door, he gestured, and Harry reappeared outside of the cell. He pressed his wand to Harry's neck and pushed him down the corridor. He gave Crouch a look that stated that the boy had better be worth his time, then waved Crouch to leave, as they entered a large torchlit room with a cathedral ceiling.
'He's arrogant. We're here alone. He doesn't think I'm a threat.'
Voldemort whirled around him abruptly. "Avada Kedavra!"
Harry winced as the blast of green light lit him. He was pleasantly surprised to find himself still unharmed. At least the blood binding hadn't backfired and left him vulnerable. He forced himself to smile at his enemy. "See? I could prove very useful."
Voldemort's eyes caught the glimmer of Harry's amulet around his neck. "What's this?" He broke the chain, intending to examine it. When he touched the locket, a brilliant white light shot from it, burning his hand. It fell to the floor, and Harry grabbed Lupin's wand from his pocket, leveling it at him.
"It's from my mother, Lily Potter. You killed her." Voldemort started to advance, but Harry shouted, "Crucio!"
Voldemort was far from writhing in agony, but he had fallen to the floor. His mouth seemed to opening and closing convulsively, but no sound came out.
Harry felt something cool wrap around his ankle. It was Nagini, and the snake was about to bite. "Nagini, your master is weak," he told it in Parseltongue. "I'm not the one you want to attack." The snake moved away but went to protect Voldemort rather than attack him.
Voldemort was shocked to meet another Parselmouth. Who was this boy? He recovered from the Cruciatus attack and silently signaled for help, calling a large group of Death Eaters and a dozen Dementors.
Harry was surrounded, but his confidence bolstered him. He could win. It was why he was here. He was the whole world's last hope. He yelled "Impedimenta!" and "Expecto Patronum!" within seconds, before his attackers could even assess the situation. The Dementors fled, and the humans slowed down. His mind whirled and his wand shot around the room, countering curses and incapacitating Death Eaters. For a moment, it was just Harry and Voldemort again.
"No one can help you now, Riddle. You're never going to terrorize anyone again." Harry knew he could win, but he didn't know the spell. Around him, Death Eaters began to struggle to their feet and a new wave of Dementors chilled the room, nauseating him. He thought of everyone who died, the families destroyed, the children who would never grow up. He knew he would sacrifice himself for them. His strength grew to its apex, and the words came to him.
Voldemort charged, screaming, and plunged a knife into Harry's heart.
But he was too slow. Harry yelled "Omnimortis!" at the same time and the room was filled with green light. Death Eaters fell to the floor, Dementors disintegrated, and Voldemort screamed.
A swift dizziness possessed Harry. His eyes rolled into his head, a green sparkling fog fading into an oppressive blanket of darkness. He felt his body fall slowly, feather-light, heard screaming turn to whispers. Hitting the ground was as landing on a soft bed, and the last thing he felt was a sharp pain in his chest before he lost all awareness.
In their cell, Sirius and Remus reeled in pain, feeling a cold numbness in their brains, as if a part of their souls had been ripped violently from them. They both fell to the floor, each with a forehead bleeding from a curse mark. The pain faded, but the emptiness remained.
The door, no longer magically locked, creaked open. Sirius crashed through it, and Remus followed slowly, still drained of energy. They followed the trail of bodies in the corridor, barely noticing Peter Pettigrew lying dead with a twisted face. Sirius found the large high-ceilinged stone room and gasped in shock.
Voldemort was dead, a cobra at his feet, bodies of his most faithful scattered around him. Harry lay on the floor, motionless, face frozen in a last expression of triumph. His chest was still bleeding around the black poisoned knife, but it was his own spell that had killed him along with everyone but his family. On his forehead there was an old scar in the shape of a lightning bolt that matched the new ones Remus Lupin and Sirius Black would forever bear. Remus stood silently, wondering at the scene before him. Sirius began to cry for his dead son.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Harry awoke in his bed abruptly in a cold sweat. He was breathing heavily and clutching his chest. His room at Sirius's house seemed unfamiliar and threatening. As he recognized his surroundings, he thought frantically, 'I have to remember. Voldemort dead... No scar..." But the memory of the other world drained from his mind like sand through his fingers, his breathing slowed, and he found himself relaxing and waiting happily for the morning. Remus was coming, and his family would be complete.
THE END. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
(A/N: Yes, I know it's not too plausible, and there's a lot left unsaid, but it was interesting, wasn't it? I'm considering a sequel to tie it up and clear up some issues. Let me know what you think.)