So I have finally updated this story. I'm very sorry to all the readers for leaving it this long. And thank you to everyone who reviewed and was still reviewing even years after any updates. I hadn't really expected people to still remember this story but thank you, your reviews were what pushed me to take up writing for this fic again.
There is still one more concluding chapter to this story. I'm following the same basic plan I made for this fic all those years ago (thank god I had all my notes). This chapter is unbetaed, sorry about that, but I'm still open to any betaing offers for the next chapter, which shouldn't take more than a few weeks to do. Hope you enjoy!
The Golden Trio
Luna read through the letter with interest. It had appeared on her desk yesterday when she was locked in her room. She had put it inside her robe pocket quickly, waiting until she got to the bathroom before reading it.
Ever since the Order had caught her helping Harry she had been kept under constant surveillance. An Order member was always stationed outside her room and she was pretty sure they were watching her inside her room as well, maybe with tiny Minch bugs. She had read about them in her father's newspaper, they recorded a picture of their surroundings and could report it back to someone with the right spell.
They had tried interrogating her but she hadn't told them anything so far. Did Harry want everyone to know he was from another universe? For now she was sticking to the story about not being able to resist helping her old boyfriend.
She put the letter back into her pocket, resolving to try and reply to it the first chance she got. She couldn't stay in here for too long without them becoming suspicious.
She flushed the toilet and let the tap run for a few seconds before letting herself out and walking back to her room. She lay down on her bed, staring up at the ceiling and wondering if all Deatheaters put smiley faces on their letters. Harry hadn't ever done that, but he did used to draw little pictures on his letters sometimes, of Quidditch, Luna, his owl, his favourite thestral.
She rolled over on her side, staring ahead and not blinking. It had been sad when Harry had died. She hadn't left her room for a few days and it had been several weeks until she had been able to hold a proper conversation.
The horrible feelings had faded away eventually, but this other Harry had seemed to bring them all back again. It was difficult to look at him and know he was Harry but not her Harry.
Luna stopped that train of thought, turning her mind back to the letter. It had been signed 'a friend' but who was that? She didn't have that many friends and she was pretty sure none of them were Deatheaters. It must be someone who knew about her and Harry.
Had Harry told anyone else? He could've told Draco Malfoy, she mused. He had been Harry's best friend, the only Deatheater the same age as Harry.
"He's a decent bloke," said Harry. He was lying on the sofa, resting his head on Luna's shoulder, his face dirty and his robes ripped, his eyes closed with tiredness.
"Was the mission okay?" asked Luna seemingly randomly, her fingers combing out the tangles in Harry's hair.
"I already said, there wasn't a mission; some Deatheater made me and Draco clean out one of the dungeons. Just 'cos we're the youngest!"
"Hmm," she said, letting him know she didn't believe him. He still did this, almost pretending he wasn't a Deatheater, just a normal kid at school or something.
"Anyway, what was I saying? Yeah Draco, he's nice," said Harry, getting back the previous topic, unfazed by Luna's interruptions. "He can seem a bit unfriendly when you first meet him but he's really just shy, he doesn't know how he's meant to act. It takes him a while to make friends. And! He's spoilt like you wouldn't believe! I found this Muggle radio once, I got it to work and I listened to it whenever I could. Anyway Draco got so jealous of it that he actually went and pinched it off me!"
Luna smiled and made a little hum, now working Harry's hair into tiny plaits.
"Yeah, he waited until a week after it went missing before going 'Oh Harry, look what I found. Isn't it a coincidence finding this just after you lost yours?' Yeah right. We kind-of shared it after that though anyway ... Anyway, he's my best and only friend in there, really."
"Am I going to get to see him?" asked Luna.
He looked up at her and shrugged. "Maybe. I don't know what he'd be like though. Some things don't always mix well."
So that was Draco Malfoy. Harry hadn't wanted them to meet. But she needed to do something to help this Harry. He wasn't a Deatheater, and if he was drugged, like the letter writer had said, then he might let something slip. It wasn't safe for him there.
Draco would be able to get Harry out of there but would he still want to help if he knew Harry wasn't his old best friend?
That didn't matter right now though, she decided. The most important thing to do was to help Harry, and Draco was someone who could do that. She closed her eyes, stomach tensing with anticipation and started planning out her reply.
You worked out who I was pretty quickly. Don't use my name again, someone could find these letters.
I'm ready to take him out of here whenever you are. He's getting worse. I can't leave him there much longer.
I'll bring food and water. You get a self-assembling tent.
Don't worry, I have only three more days left before I'm free. I'll need a few days to prepare everything before we can run off together. But what about your family? They may not accept you back after this dishonour, are you absolutely sure about this?
Awaiting your reply with Love
I'm prepared to do anything for the sake of our baby. Let's meet 6 days from now, on Tuesday. Await a message from me with the exact time and place. Make sure you have a broom handy.
P.S Try to bring some Healing supplies and books as well. The baby's cold has gotten worse these last few days and I'm worried.
Luna hung in the air, holding the broomstick tightly with white hands, her body hunched over in an effort to remain warm. It had taken her several hours to reach the meeting place, not helped by her less-than-stellar flying skills, and by now her whole body felt like an ice block.
She let go of the handle with one hand, bringing it up to her mouth and blowing into her fist, trying to heat it up. She rubbed her boots against each other, trying to force some blood back into her numb feet. It was a pity she couldn't cast a warming spell on herself; she didn't dare in case somebody at the Ministry would be able to trace her wand.
She glanced around and saw a tiny black figure to her right, flying towards her. She watched and waited several minutes before it reached her.
Draco came to a stop in front of her and stared at her for a few seconds, seemingly suspicious, before Luna took it upon herself to speak.
"There's a large forest several miles west that we could camp in," she said. Draco nodded slowly and she looked down at the bundle hovering underneath his broom. "Is that Harry?" she said curiously and moved closer to try and see.
Draco jerked his broom backwards suddenly, almost protectively, and said, "Let's just get going already. I'm freezing."
Harry was back in his cupboard. He was sitting curled up against the wall, a warm blanket draped around his shoulders. A tiny fire was burning on the floor in front of him, a cauldron sitting on it, purple vapours rising from it.
There were spiders all around him, their eyes glowing as they watched him. Harry was staring fixedly at two spiders on the floor, next to the cauldron.
"We're going to fix you Harry," said one of the spiders.
"Drink this potion," said the other. "It'll make you better."
A spider descended from the ceiling by a thread, holding a glass filled with a purple smoking liquid. "Drink it Harry," it said, its many eyes looking into his.
Harry took it and drank, the liquid warming up his body. There was a bellow from outside his cupboard and the pounding of feet. He glanced over at the door in fright, thinking Uncle Vernon was going to come crashing through in any moment.
"Don't worry," said one of the spiders on the floor, and the cupboard door disappeared, melding into wall. "We won't let them hurt you."
"Stay here and be safe," said the other spider.
Harry smiled and shook his head. "I can't stay here forever," he said. "It's time to go."
"You'll let me go because you love me," stated Harry.
"We won't let you go because we love you," countered the spiders.
The cauldron tipped and the purple liquid fell onto the fire, which burned up suddenly with bright intensity. Harry held up his arms, protecting his eyes, and felt a spider land on him. He shook his arms, but another one fell on his head. He tried to brush that one off but felt a sudden deluge of spiders, their tiny bodies hitting him softly. He clamped his mouth shut and flung his arms about, trying to get them off him.
They would crawl through his mouth, he would crush them under his feet, they would prise open his eyelids and crawl into his skull—
"Harry! Calm down!"
Something was gripping his wrists tightly and he fought back, panicking.
His eyes flew open. He blinked several times before he recognised Malfoy sitting next to him, his face pale.
"Are-are you awake?" stuttered Malfoy.
Harry stared at him before he realised his hands were still being held. He pushed Malfoy's hands away violently, and muttered, "It was just a dream."
He shut his eyes suddenly a second later, overcome by nausea.
"I'm going to be sick," said Harry through gritted teeth. He heard Malfoy move quickly and a plastic bucket was shoved into his hands. He gripped the bucket and tried to breathe slowly, sweat beading on his forehead.
After a few minutes of sitting tensely, trying to force the sick feeling away, he started to feel a little better. He opened his eyes, though he kept the bucket on his lap.
Malfoy was kneeling next to him, his eyes wide. "That's just some side-effects from all the potions and stuff," he said. "You're getting better though; this is the first time you've woken up properly."
"What," said Harry flatly, feeling too sick to bother putting his thoughts into any more words.
"You're not in the base anymore. I took you out of there. They weren't – I mean – I think you're better off away from there, the-the potions and spells didn't ... seem to be making any difference. But now I … I don't - I don't think I can go back..."
Malfoy bit the end of his thumb very hard and looked away, his eyes very wide now.
"Um ... you left them to save me...?" said Harry slowly, not quite sure of what he was hearing. His manners drilled into him from the Dursley's kicked in. "I, um, thank you, I suppose."
Malfoy gave a little watery smile at this, though he still didn't meet Harry's eyes. Harry quickly searched in his brain for something to distract Malfoy; it was getting quite uncomfortable watching this display of emotion from the last person he would have expected it from.
"Hey – uh, so, where are we?" he said, noticing his surroundings. "...A tent?"
Green canvas was stretched above Harry and a mess of blankets and duvets covered the floor. A box with some dirty plates on it sat at the far end of the tent and a bag and some coats were lying on the floor nearby.
Malfoy blinked a few times then turned to face Harry. "It's a self-assembling tent," he said, his voice still not quite back to normal. "Lu- I mean, I brought it. We're in a forest in Wales, we keep moving around so no-one can find us."
"Cool..." said Harry, feeling suddenly tired. Maybe he'd sat up too fast or something. He pushed the bucket off him and lay back down in the soft bedding.
"-And I've got some food, and drinks ... so you can just ask if you-"
Malfoy trailed off at the sound of zips being opened and rustling fabric. A few seconds later a figure came climbing through, dirty blonde hair concealing her face. Harry recognised her anyway.
"Luna? I thought it was just Malfoy. Wow."
Luna sat down next to him and smiled. Harry found his eyes drifting shut anyway and offered a smile back before closing them completely.
"You didn't tell me he woke up," he heard Luna say quietly. "We made an agreement."
"I don't have to tell you everything!" came Malfoy's whispered retort. "He's my friend; I was the one that rescued him."
Luna said something back but Harry wasn't concentrating on their words any longer. He let himself drift off to the sound of their arguing. It was vaguely comforting, reminded him of the Dursleys in fact...
The next time Harry woke up it was the middle of the night. He blinked into the darkness for a second, disoriented, and sat up. Luna and Malfoy were lying on either side of him, duvets wrapped around them.
Harry rubbed his eyes for a bit before deciding he was too awake to go back to sleep. He touched Luna gently on the shoulder and shook her. She was the only one who knew the truth about him and he wanted to know what was going on.
"Luna!" he hissed. "Luna – sshh, no don't say anything."
Luna blinked up at him and sat up, moving slowly. "This is a funny time to be awake," she said softly. "What's wrong?"
"I need to know what's going on. Why's Malfoy here?"
"He rescued you Harry. He was the one who first contacted me."
"Okay. But why is he still here? We need to get rid of him, he's a Deatheater!"
Luna pushed herself up further, pulling her legs into her chest. She peered over at Harry with utter bemusement. "Harry, you were too," she said, eyes wide. "And a lot of people see me as a Deatheater conspirator."
Harry stared at her and suddenly scrunched up his eyes before holding his head in his hands. He couldn't handle much more of this. He stayed there for a couple of seconds, tense, before taking a deep breath and looking up.
"Luna ... you're the only one who knows the truth. I need your help, I need to get back to my own world. Please ... I-I don't know what to do anymore ... I just-"
"You want to go back?" asked Luna. Harry nodded and after a few seconds hesitation she nodded back. "I'll help you Harry. But Draco wants to help you too." She paused and then spoke up. "He wants to help you get back to normal, become the other Harry..."
"What?" said Harry. He let out a breath shakily. "We have to tell him. I can't become the other Harry, I'm a different person."
"Harry," she said softly. "He gave up everything for the chance to have his friend back. He can't ever return to Voldemort again..."
Harry stared at her. She didn't seem to be deliberately guilt-tripping him. Her tone and expression were those of someone simply telling the plain truth. He looked away for a second and Luna started talking again.
"You decide when to tell him. I can't help you if Draco doesn't know and we won't be able to keep it a secret forever."
Harry nodded tightly, feeling like he couldn't speak. She seemed to sense the conversation was over and crawled back into her cocoon of bedding, bidding him goodnight. After a few seconds he went to sleep too.
Harry lay back on the grass and kicked away some twigs on the ground. It had been a day since he woke up properly and he was starting to enjoy himself. The calm
and laziness of tent living was a complete contrast to all the stress of constantly running away from the Deatheaters or the Ministry.
Luna and Malfoy had insisted that Harry rest for almost every minute of the day, which was partly why he was lying here. They were acting a bit overprotective but it didn't bother him that much really. He was just glad he was in no-one's clutches anymore; Voldemort's or Dumbledore's.
It was rather like a holiday in fact. A pause from all the general chasing, fighting, kidnapping and so on. He smiled at that. A safe haven.
There was a rustling behind him and next second another body had flung itself down next to Harry. Harry didn't bother opening his eyes.
"Luna?" he said. "Is that you?"
"No..." came a distinctly male voice, sounding put-out. "It's Draco."
"Oh, hey," said Harry, opening his eyes and sitting up. Malfoy didn't look at him, just staring up at the blue sky. There was a few seconds of awkward silence during which Harry tried desperately to think of something to say.
"Um-" he started.
"You died in that fire," Malfoy said eventually.
"Oh right - the one at the Daily Prophet?"
Malfoy nodded and continued. "I think I went crazy for a bit after that." He went red and paused before speaking again, his voice thick. "You left me all on my own. So I ... I had to get you back..."
"What do you mean?" said Harry slowly.
"I – I found a spell," Malfoy said haltingly, "in a book in the Dark Lord's library. It – it said how to bring people back to life."
"Malfoy, that's not possible," said Harry very clearly, although he felt like he was trying to convince himself more than Malfoy.
"Look, Harry. I was sure I did it right," said Malfoy pleadingly. "I checked everything, I didn't miss anything. I don't understand what went wrong. You were – you were meant to come back the same, I-"
Harry gripped his hair tightly, covering his face. He didn't say anything, just clenched his hands as hard as he could. There was a cautious touch to his hair.
Harry smacked Malfoy's hand away, his face burning.
"You stupid stupid idiot!" Harry hissed, trying to hold himself back from shouting. A flicker of fear passed over Malfoy's face. "Did you not think that maybe I was better off dead? That maybe I preferred to be over in, heaven or whatever! I didn't want to come here! You-"
"Harry, I just – I missed you," stuttered Malfoy. "I wanted to see you again. I didn't mean to-"
"You're just a selfish brat! Did you even consider the mess you could land me in! I – Christ ... just - just drop it, okay?" spat Harry, getting to his feet. "I'm going to go talk to Luna."
Draco spent maybe ten minutes after Harry had stormed off just yelling at himself in his head. He was so stupid, he didn't ever think, Harry probably didn't want to be friends anymore, idiot idiot idiot!
He kicked the ground angrily and paced around the small clearing until his anger faded away and he began to feel scared. What was Harry talking to Luna about? Maybe they were plotting to leave him behind.
He let out a moan and sank to the ground. He stared at the grass for a moment before mentally squaring his shoulders. He needed to find them. He needed to apologise to Harry.
He stood up and set off into the forest. Several minutes in his search he heard voices. He picked his way through the vegetation towards them, trying to be quiet, but Harry and Luna apparently heard him, because their voices stopped immediately.
"Harry I-" he started to say as he approached the two sitting on the ground.
"No, look ... I'm sorry," Harry said, looking slightly uncomfortably. "I overreacted ... um, me and Luna, we need to tell you something."
"Sit down," said Luna gently.
Draco almost tiptoed over to them and sat down nervously on the grass next to them. Harry and Luna glanced at each other before Harry started talking.
"The spell you did," he started. "It didn't work. You can't bring someone back to life, Malfoy. It did something else, the next best thing I suppose. I ... I'm not the same Harry you knew, okay? I'm still Harry Potter but I'm ... not Harry Potter, somehow ... I mean. Urgh, Luna, how do I explain this?"
Luna stated it bluntly. "He's Harry Potter from a different universe. Your spell must have dragged him over to here. He's Harry but he's had totally different things happen to him, he's lived a different life."
There was a few seconds silence before Draco started to laugh. "What in Merlin's name are you talking about? I did a spell to resurrect the dead. Harry came back to life. The fact that he's here should be proof enough."
"I didn't come back to life, Malfoy," insisted Harry. "I never died. I'm not the Harry you used to know. I'm sorry but ... he's dead."
"He's not dead!" said Draco forcefully. "You're not dead! You're here; I brought you back to life. You just came back a bit ill, that's all. I'm sure these are just delusions or something."
"Look at this!" said Harry suddenly, pushing away his hair from his forehead. "Look! Your Harry never had this before. I got this scar when I was a baby, I'm a different person!"
"No..." said Draco, his voice faltering for the first time. "No ... you're – you're Harry. I – I know you are. You're my friend, I – you, I know you're the same person. You're my Harry..."
"I'm not," said Harry softly, sounding like he was feeling sorry for Draco. "I'm sorry but ... I'm not. I'm not the Harry you used to know."
Draco didn't reply, rubbing his arms and hunching over slightly, before moving to crouch on the ground, head bowed.
Luna spoke up suddenly. "Harry, you go back to the tent," she said, having abruptly decided the conversation was over. "I'm going to talk to Draco a bit more."
"What?" said Harry startled. "But-"
Malfoy and Luna turned up four hours later at the tent, when the sky was getting dark. Harry had been going through some books that Luna had brought about alternate dimensions, looking for any hint of how to travel between dimensions.
Malfoy appeared drained, and there were leaves sprinkled on his clothes and hair. Luna looked tired as well, but satisfied. Harry looked up from his books expectantly.
"I'm okay," Malfoy said finally. "I – I'm just ... going to have a sleep now..."
And he pushed past Harry to smother himself in the blankets, lying on the floor turned away from them. Luna sat down next to Harry and picked up a book of her own to read, staying silent on the subject of her conversation with Malfoy.
The two of them read in silence until late, before deciding to give up the ghost and go to sleep.
It was maybe three in the morning when Harry was startled awake from his dream about Ron and Hermione back in his own dimension, wondering what had woken him up. A rough tug at his arm answered his question.
"Up!" hissed Malfoy.
His face was barely visible in the darkness but the wand pointed at Harry's face took up all of Harry's attention. Malfoy tugged at Harry's arm again and pulled him to his feet. Harry tried to speak.
"Shut up!" Malfoy whispered harshly and started to drag Harry out the tent.
Harry was too surprised to fight back properly and was flung out of the tent onto the ground. He edged back on the ground away from Malfoy, wishing, for the umpteenth time, that the Ministry hadn't taken his wand.
"You're an imposter," said Malfoy, eerily calm. "You've been lying to me all this time ... pretending to be Harry. You took advantage of me."
"Malfoy ... just ... calm down okay?" said Harry slowly, trying out his negotiation skills. "You don't want to do this."
Malfoy responded by firing a rope binding spell at him.
"O...kay," said Harry, his skills as a negotiator apparently less than sub-par. Last time I believe anything I see in 'The Bill', he thought sullenly.
"What reasons do I have to keep you alive?" Malfoy demanded. "You stopped the real Harry from getting here and then you tried to take his place!"
"That's not true," Harry insisted, resisting the urge to edge away. "...This isn't my fault. I was confused, I didn't know what was going on ... Look, I'm sor-"
Malfoy fired a curse, just barely missing Harry's head and singing the grass next to him.
There was a sudden movement from the right and the next minute a figure dressed in a nightgown ran out from the tent and stood between the two of them, arms held out.
"You wouldn't kill your friend, would you?" said Luna, her wide eyes fixed on Malfoy. Harry leaned over slightly to look past her and see Malfoy's reaction.
Malfoy shook his head angrily. "You've already said he's not the real Harry. He's nothing to do with Harry, he's a fake!"
"No," she said softly. "He may not be the same person but he's the only link we have to Harry. He's the last thing we have left of him."
"So what! If he's not the real Harry then it doesn't matter! I wanted Harry back, not some stranger!"
"We can't have him back properly," she said softly. "But when I'm with this Harry, I ... remember things about the old Harry I'd forgotten. It's like his memory is being kept alive. I don't want to lose that. He's my friend now. And ... if you just let yourself get to know him..." she trailed off.
Malfoy had lowered his wand and bowed his head. "But..." he said, so quietly Harry could hardly hear him, "I wanted him back..."
"So did I," said Luna. "But this is the closest we can get. I don't want to lose the last reminder of Harry."
Malfoy clenched and unclenched his wand hand in agitation before waving his wand and releasing the ropes binding Harry.
Harry stood up cautiously. "So ... crisis averted?"
Harry wriggled his toes in the water, glancing back at Luna and waving. He rolled his trousers up a bit more and waded deeper into the stream.
"Is anyone joining me?" he called, not turning around.
"Not me," said Luna, turning back to the piles of books around her. "I need to keep reading." She wound a chain of daisies around her hand as she read, tearing them to shreds.
"I'll help you in a minute," replied Harry absently. He stared down at his feet, looking for any fish, but the water was too cloudy to see anything. "This is a great Muggle tradition, you know," he said. "Paddling. I got taken with the Dursleys once, to the beach on holiday."
"You're not a Mudblood, are you?" said Malfoy suddenly, sitting up from where he'd been lying on the bank. His face was a mixture of disgusted and betrayed.
"Don't say that word," said Harry annoyed. "Or I'll say Voldemort." Malfoy flinched and he smirked. "Anyway," he continued. "No, I'm not, but I live with Muggles. Lived, I mean."
Malfoy looked even more annoyed at that. In fact, he'd been in a bad mood for the past few days. Harry had a pretty good idea why but he'd decided he didn't care. He started wading back to the shore, walking over to where Luna was sitting.
"Which books do you want me to look through?"
"Try those ones," said Luna absently, pointing vaguely and not looking up from the book she was currently reading.
Harry grabbed one and sat down next to her, flicking through. He glanced up at Malfoy, who had gone back to lying on his back, staring at the sky.
"Malfoy," he said, getting annoyed. "Why don't you actually help, instead of sitting there?"
"I don't do researching," replied Malfoy snidely, not moving. "That's Muggle work."
"God, Malfoy," said Harry, throwing his book on the grass. "Look, I've got to get back home, okay? And this is the only way we can do it. So help."
There was a pause and Malfoy sat up. "And why do you have to go exactly?" he asked. He turned to Luna. "Why are we even helping him do this? Why can't he just stay? Couldn't we give him Harry's memories and he could ... pick up his old life or something?"
"Why?" said Luna, cutting Harry off before he could speak. "What would be the point?"
"The point?" Malfoy suddenly exploded. "We could get Harry back! Don't tell me you don't want that?"
"It's been a year already!" said Luna, her voice tense. "He's gone."
"Yeah," added Harry. "Maybe you should just ... get over him."
Malfoy said nothing, clenching his fists before he sat down abruptly. After a few minutes, during which Malfoy ripped up the grass around him, Harry dragged his eyes away from his back and turned back to the books.
He opened one of the books quietly, looking over at Malfoy and then Luna nervously. His safe haven was obviously not as stable as he'd previously thought.
Several days passed. The three of them moved every other day to shake off anyone tailing them. Harry and Luna spent most of their time researching, but Malfoy refused to participate. He talked to the black-haired teen a lot, telling him stories about the Harry he'd known, as if hoping this would remind Harry of his other life.
Finally Harry and Luna had a breakthrough with their research. One of their books mentioned a gateway between worlds ... a veil.
Harry had seized upon this information immediately, desperate for some way to get back home.
"I thought you said it was a gateway to death."
"That's what they told me. But I bet they didn't even really know, how could they?" Harry whispered back, careful to keep his voice down if Malfoy was anywhere nearby. "When I was there ... I heard voices from it. Maybe that's people in other dimensions, talking or something."
"What about your father? Didn't you say he fell into it? Wouldn't there be two James Potters here then? Or was it someone else...?"
"Someone else ... I don't know if he's here, but maybe he's in another world right? You said there were loads of universes. Hey, maybe I could go find him and bring him back to my world!" Harry's eyes lit up.
"Mhm..." she sighed wistfully, as if envying Harry. "But let's focus on getting you back first. I think we should keep looking for a few more days and then..."
That had been several days ago. They had scoured the books and found several other mentions of this, and a potion that appeared to counteract the lethal nature of the Veil. Harry was certain they had found the way back to his own world.
They hadn't spoken to Malfoy once about this. Luna and Harry were both in agreement he wouldn't react well to the news. That was why they were both currently sneaking out at four in the morning.
They walked until they were well out of view of the invisible tent. Harry faced Luna and hesitantly grabbed her hand before he was pulled along when she apparated, compressed out of existence and dropped carelessly on hard tarmac.
Harry lost his balance slightly but was pulled back by Luna's strong grip. They looked around, aware that it would be trouble if anyone had seen them, but the street was deserted. They ran across the road to the red phonebox: the tourist's entrance to the Ministry of Magic.
Luna pulled open the door and they squashed in together, panting slightly. Harry took the phone off the hook and looked over at her with a questioning look.
She nodded and leaned back against the glass, closing her eyes. Harry pressed the numbers quickly and held the phone loosely near his ear while he waited. A smooth voice rang out around them.
"Welcome to the Ministry of Magic. Please state your name and business."
"Lu-" Harry stumbled and realised they would probably have to give fake names. "Um – Neville Longbottom and uh, Ginny Weasley. We're, uh, here to ... jump through the Veil?"
A couple of badges dropped out and he bent down to pick them up. As he did so, Luna spoke up over the woman's voice and said, "Wait a second," and tapped him on the head. Harry felt something like ice-cold water trickle over him and stood up to see Luna do the same, her body weirdly camouflaged against the phone box's walls.
He glanced at the badges he was holding and huffed out a laugh when he read:
Neville Longbottom. Suicide mission.
Luna handed over her wand and the box started to move, sinking into the ground. Harry turned the wand over in his hands as he stared at the layers of ground going past the windows; Luna fiddled with her earrings. The box shuddered when they came to a stop; the woman's voice was saying something but neither of them paid it any attention.
As the door opened Harry darted out to the left, Luna following close behind. The echoing hall was lit by thousands of candles, casting shifting shadows that he knew would work to their advantage.
There were only a few people there. One of the skeleton crew looked up at the sound of footsteps and Harry threw out a stunning spell, hitting the man dead on. His partner shouted in surprise and shot out a spell blindly. Harry shot an Expelliarmus, missed, and got her a second later with a full body bind.
He sprinted to a pillar in the hall and leaned against it, looking around for Luna. She had run over to the fallen woman. She crouched there, scrabbling for something on the ground and a second later, she was running for the nearest pillar, a wand clutched in her fist.
Harry peeked around the pillar. There didn't seem to be anyone else about.
"Psst!" he hissed.
Luna looked over from the other pillar. Harry signalled frantically towards the lift across the other side of the hall. Luna nodded. Harry held up three fingers and then slowly counted down: three, two, one. And then they were both sprinting, running past the fountain symbolising unity between Wizardkind and magical creatures. Something shot over his head: either reinforcements had arrived or they hadn't stunned everyone. He aimed his wand behind him and shot off a few spells at random, not looking back.
Harry forced himself to make the last few feet, lungs straining. And then he was ripping open the door and ducking in. Luna followed seconds later and Harry pressed the level 9 button frantically. He couldn't see the witch or wizard who'd been firing spells at them but he could hear them. The door slid shut smoothly and Harry rested his forehead against the wall, panting as he tried to regain his breath.
"Hell," he said. "They're gonna alert everyone now."
"We can make it," said Luna firmly. "If we get to the Veil it shouldn't take more than a minute to get you prepared."
Harry nodded, trying to focus. They were almost there. He'd be out soon, out of this nightmare.
The lift slowed down and jerked as it stopped, its door sliding open to reveal the Department of Mysteries. It was silent and cold, darkness pierced by only a few candles giving out pools of light. Harry swallowed and walked out, looking around at the doors surrounding them. He didn't remember which one led to the Veil but it didn't matter.
He held out his wand and shouted, "Take me to the Veil!"
The walls spun around faster and faster until slowing to a stop, with one door facing straight in front of them. He crept forward and motioned for Luna to follow. "Come on."
Harry pulled open the heavy wooden door and then they stepped through. His breath caught when he saw the Veil, fluttering in an invisible wind, unable to stop the painful memories surfacing of when he'd lost his Godfather.
His thoughts were abruptly broken by a banging sound and raised voices nearby. Luna looked over at him, and then spun around, slamming the door shut and firing a locking charm at it.
"Harry, that's not going to hold long," she said, eyes wide.
Harry nodded frantically and jogged down the steps, Luna following him. She rummaged in her cloak when they reached the bottom, before bringing out a potion bottle containing a bright blue liquid. This was what would get Harry through the Veil without killing him. It had been brewed using several protective ingredients and spelled with a homing charm that would ensure that Harry would be taken safely to his home universe instead of being forever cursed to wander through the mists.
She passed over the bottle and Harry uncorked it, swallowing it without delay.
He grimaced at the horrible sour taste and started coughing. He was bent over, trying to catch his breath, when there was an almighty crash. Harry's head whipped around to see the door being blasted half off its hinges. Witches and wizards started running through seconds later, dressed in Auror robes, shooting spells into the room, barely missing Harry and Luna.
"Harry, go, go!" Luna screamed, shoving him.
Harry gave her one last desperate look and ran. He heard shouts behind him to stop and a scream from Luna. A stab of guilt and fear for his friend went through him but he couldn't stop. His heart was pounding as he ran across the room, and up the stairs in the middle of the room towards the Veil. He could hear the whispering voices from behind the Veil but he wasn't afraid; he was almost there, he was almost home-
And then he felt a tugging sensation, like he had come to the end of the reach of an elastic band, and he was pulled off his feet and thrown backwards. He hit the floor hard, skidding a couple of feet before he came to a stop in someone's arms. He fought to get back, to get back through the Veil, and ropes suddenly sprung out around his body, pinning him into place.
"Harry, what are you doing?" He looked up to see Lily, her long red hair falling down around his face. "You can't do this, don't leave us," she begged, and he could see tears were welling up in her eyes now.
Harry closed his eyes, ignoring her pleading voice. He had failed. He was stuck here.