A/N: For the record, it is December 25th as I write this, so you will understand why I say, "Merry Christmas."
Menecarkawan wondered if Mr. Hare was smarter then Harry. The answer is an obvious no. Mr. Hare had the advantage of a normal home life, whereas Harry spent ten years living out of a cupboard. The difference is that he was encouraged to learn while Harry was encouraged to stay out of sight.
I must also apologize to Remus Lupin's Lover. I lied about 'DRACO IN LEATHER'.
In a repetitious closing, I would again like to thank everyone for reading, and for reviewing. And because everyone likes to see their names in print:
Thanks also to Kitty Minky who gave this story its first review, Lauren, Petite Sorcieres (I can't do the accent. Sorry.), Dumbledork, I Love Redheads w/ Fangs, Vmorticia, Ciceronian, DCSF, Starlight, Permanently Unhinged, MagicalFerret (who is free to use this world), The Brainless Wonder, Lotus Myst, The Unforgiven (who will not be forgiven. Why break a winning streak?), Mr. Hare, Nightzone, and Gummy and Bunny. Last and not least, I would like to thank all of the people who do not matter.
CHAPTER THREE: RAISE HIGH THE ROOFTOPS
"I think I understand," Draco said as Hermione finished telling him everything she knew. "Do you see, Hermione. In this world, I accepted everything my father taught me without regard for whether it was wrong or right. But in my world, I did the same thing. I accepted the things that my father taught me without question. The difference is that I was taught to be a populist. My father wanted me to follow in his footsteps. It's just that in this world, he wore different shoes."
"And that is why you are different."
"No, Hermione. You are why I am different. Until I met you I was happy to follow. You, she, taught me to believe in what I said." Draco sighed. "I even know why Harry is different. You should have him visit his mom."
"Draco? You're fading."
"Because I learned, Hermione. Goodb . . ."
Hermione stood alone in the corridor, then ran to the Gryffindor tower.
"A pleasant room," Harry said, "but not what I expected."
Ron was surprised. "Is your common room that different."
"No, it looks exactly the same. That's why I didn't expect it."
Ron shook his head, and started to say something, but Harry interrupted him.
"Weasley, do we have a great deal in common? You and I, I mean him, well, you know what I mean."
Harry arched an eyebrow. "Is that a good guess? After all the years you've spent together, I hope it is. The truth is, I can't see us as friends. It doesn't make sense."
"Harry, Ron," Hermione said as she ran into the room. "Malfoy's back."
"Malfoy?" Ron asked. "Our Malfoy."
"The one who hates us," Hermione acknowledged. "I was talking to Draco when he suddenly disappeared."
"Mr. Drake? He left without me?" Harry said. "That wasn't very polite."
"Where's Malfoy now?"
"I don't know," Hermione said, "Draco and I were walking to Gryffindor when it happened. If Malfoy isn't here, he could be anywhere."
It was morning as Harry and Ron turned a corner on the way to the Great Hall and ran into three familiar people.
"If it isn't Mr. Hare," Malfoy sneered, while Crabbe and Goyle laughed.
"Careful, Harry," Ron warned. "He's nothing like your friend."
"Draco is Draco," Harry said with a light laugh. "He's close enough to the Draco I know."
"I'll show you how close I am," Malfoy said as he reached inside his robe
"Watch it, Harry," Ron shouted and reached for his wand. The three Slytherins had already drawn theirs and were shouting their hexes when Harry yelled "Protego."
The Shielding Spell deflected the spells back on their casters who fell backward onto the floor. As Malfoy tried to cast another spell, Harry shouted "Expelliarmus", and the wand flew off down the hall. "Do you want to try anything else?" Harry asked with unexpected menace in his voice.
Malfoy uttered a few curses, but decided that discretion was the better part of valor. Harry said nothing as the three limped away.
"That was amazing," Ron said. I never expected something like that from you. I mean . . ."
Harry grinned as Ron stumbled over his praise. "Draco never had good reflexes when it came to dueling. In a fair contest, he could never win. I suppose that's one of the differences. Draco knows how to lose and laugh. Malfoy wants to win at any cost."
Ron was amazed. "It really is an act. You really are brilliant underneath all that."
"Did I do anything your Harry wouldn't do? Or couldn't do?"
Ron paused and then admitted, "No."
"I didn't think so," Harry said with a smile. "The two of us seem to be very much alike. When you see your Harry again, tell him to learn to smile a bit more."
"I will," Ron said appreciatively.
"HARRY, RON," Hermione called out as she ran down the hall. "I talked with Dumbledore and he agreed."
"I've always found him to be an agreeable fellow," Harry commented. "It is good to know he hasn't changed."
"I'm Serious," Hermione said sternly, then huffed when both Harry and Ron grinned at her. "We're going on a trip. Dumbledore's arranging it. We'll have plenty of company. Just in case."
"Where are we going?" Harry asked.
Hermione smiled. "We're taking you home."
"You can do that?"
Harry stared at the collapsed ruin of a house, nothing more than a mound of dirt after so many years. Hermione, uncertain how to act, took his hand and squeezed it.
"If I were Draco, that would have helped," Harry told her as he let his hand slip from hers. "All you've done is reinforce the differences between us." He didn't turn around to face the headmaster, but asked, "Is this truly my home?"
"It was, Mr. Potter."
Harry stepped forward to get a closer look.
"Harry?" Dumbledore put a hand on his shoulder. "We need to take a short walk. There is something you need to see."
Harry looked up. For the first time he did not have a smile on his face. He simply nodded his head and followed Dumbledore to the graveyard. He stopped in front of the marker for the twin graves and stared silently for several minutes. Then he smiled. "I think we should return to the house."
Albus arched an eyebrow. "And why is that?"
"I've realized what the Traveler Stone is. I don't think I'll be here much longer, and I am certain that I know where your Harry is. He'll need his friends when he returns."
As they walked back, Harry explained to Ron and Hermione while Dumbledore walked behind them and listened.
"It's a simple thing, really," Harry said. "The key is the phrase to learn what might have been. I will return to my own world as soon as I fully understand your Harry. I think I do, but I need to ask one question."
"And the question is?" Hermione asked.
"We're almost to the house," Harry said. "I'll ask it when we're there. It's a simple question, really, and I'm sure I know the answer."
They walked the last block until they were back at the house, and Harry led them to what would have been the backyard.
"My question is this," Harry said with amusement. "Am I in love?"
"Not really," Hermione said.
"I'd say you were," Ron answered, "You and Ginny are . . ."
Harry frowned, but Albus Dumbledore cleared his throat.
"You are in love, Harry, but not the way you think, not the way that Draco loves Hermione. But the way that you love your family."
"That's it!" Harry said excitedly. "That was the missing piece of the puzzle. It's the Weasley's, Sir?"
Albus nodded, but Ron frowned.
"Harry, what about my family."
Harry grinned. "I was wondering why your Harry and I were so much alike, despite the bad things in his life. I knew he had to have someone in his life. I assumed he had a girlfriend. Someone he had been close to for a long time. Instead he had a family. Yours."
Hermione laughed as Ron grinned, and said, "Mum always treated you like you were one of us."
"I am what I am," Harry said as he began to fade, "because my family loves me."
"He's gone," Hermione said.
"Not quite," Ron said and pointed behind her. Harry was standing there with his back to them, wearing an orange sweatshirt.
"Harry?" Ron said, and Harry jumped.
"Ron? Hermione? Um, Professor Dumbledore?"
"The Chudley Cannons?" Albus asked with amusement.
"Why does it say World Cup?" Ron asked.
"They won, last year, second time this decade," Harry said, overcoming his surprise.
"Welcome back, Harry," Hermione said, giving him a hug.
"Thanks, Bright Eyes," Harry said and grinned as she gave him a surprised look.
"You've met me? What was I like?"
"Very surprised," Harry explained. "But not as surprised as Malfoy. You should have seen his face when you showed him your ring. Draco told me you knew about that."
Ron snorted. "When he came back, the first thing he did was hunt you down. Harry, you're better than him in both worlds."
"I think I'd disagree," Hermione added.
"And I think we should continue this discussion at Hogwarts," Albus said as he held out the portkey.
"What was it like," Hermione asked over dinner.
"It was a vacation," Harry said. "When Malfoy and I arrived, we started fighting when some teacher cast a spell and took our wands away. He noticed my scar, and that was when they realized what happened."
"Was it the Charms Professor?"
"Then you know?" Harry asked, and Ron and Hermione nodded.
"What about the Charms Professor?" Ginny asked.
"In this world, he's You-Know-Who," Harry said and laughed at the reaction. "He was a wonderful man, and very thoughtful. He was the one who insisted that I be sent home immediately."
"What was it like? Meeting your parents?" Hermione asked.
Harry didn't say anything, but his smile said it all.
"Harry," Ron asked, "You said the Chudley Cannons took the World Cup?"