Warnings and Disclaimers: Nothing particularly new, except to state that since HBP came out since the last time I posted a chapter on this, this story is officially AU.
As they approached, the stout drummer took up position behind Potter, reminding a rather uneasy Severus of nothing so much as a bodyguard. The blonde stared belligerently at them, prompting the Slytherin to slip a hand into a pocket to finger his ebony wand. Albus seemed to take no notice, but the wizard knew he was mentally cataloging every single movement, every expression.
Like the wary one that had appeared on Potter's face as they drew near.
The young man sent Severus a look of pure annoyance. "I thought I told you to leave?" he hissed, his green eyes flashing.
"Fortunately, I do not now and never have taken orders from you, Mr. Potter," Severus returned dryly. "Otherwise I have no doubts you would at some point have ordered me to 'drop dead'."
"So in your own twisted little world we're great friends, I take it?" the Gryffindor replied, cocking his head to the side.
"Boys, boys, please!" Albus broke into the argument, holding his hands in the air to interrupt the flow of verbal vitriol. "Really. You don't even remember each other and you still don't get along!"
Potter eyed him with a hint of disbelief. "I really don't see the need to be buddy-buddy with a stalker. Especially when he brings company." The blonde nodded his head a little, obviously agreeing with his friend.
Severus' eyes narrowed, and the Headmaster stepped figuratively between them once again just in time to prevent an undoubtedly blistering retort. "In light of Mr. Potter's... indisposition... don't you think reintroductions might be in order?"
"That's assuming I want to know you..." Severus heard the young wizard mutter. He wished he could truthfully say the same, but from the hints Albus had been dropping over the last couple of years, they needed Potter if they were to have any hope of defeating the Dark Lord.
"Now," the elderly man continued, "my name is Albus Dumbledore, and I am the headmaster of the school you attended up until you vanished a couple of weeks ago. My associate is Severus Snape, one of your professors, and-"
"And you're both a couple of crackpots," the as-yet-unnamed muggle interrupted with a derisive snort. "I've known Harry for a hell of a lot longer than a couple of weeks. Get a new bloody line!" He grasped Potter by the elbow and began to tug him away. "C'mon, Harry, we still need to pack up the rest of the equipment."
The boy went willingly enough, and the two wizards stared after them. "Well, that went well enough," Albus said sighing. "Not as well as I had hoped, perhaps, but well enough."
Severus turned to frown at the older man, just in time to see the headmaster pull out his wand and waggle it after the departing duo with a quiet murmur. "And that was...?" he prompted with a quirked brow.
"Why, 'twas but a simple tracking charm, my lad," Albus replied, directing a look towards his younger companion that clearly conveyed his hurt over Severus' suspicion. Long exposure to such looks had long since inured the Slytherin to any feelings of guilt, however, and the man merely scowled. "Young Harry doesn't seem to be in too cooperative a mood. Perhaps if we see where he goes he'll be feeling more accessible at a later time."
The potions master glanced again in the direction the savior of the wizarding world had vanished into. "Somehow, I doubt that..." he murmured. He didn't know what or why, but something told him that finding the boy had only been the beginning.
They still had a long road ahead of them if they wanted Harry Potter back.
"Can you believe the nerve of that guy?" Matt grumbled as they carried the last of their band's equipment out the back door. From there it only a few meters to the end of the alley and the little secondary parking lot where their vehicles waited. "I think he really thought you'd believe him just because he bloody said so."
"Some people are like that," Harry replied absently, ostensibly occupied with making sure the looped power cords he carried over his shoulder were in some kind of order.
Sam glanced back at them. "You know, Harry, you don't seem very worried about this."
The musician shrugged, blowing his messy bangs out of his face. "It just doesn't seem very important. I mean, I doubt I'll ever see them again." Reaching the van, he stacked the cords inside, as behind his back his friends exchanged concerned looks. None of them thought he was taking this seriously enough, but they also knew him well enough to know he wouldn't welcome their mother henning with open arms.
Fine. So they'd just have to be subtle about watching their gentle, much too naïve friend.
When again Harry awoke, the only light in the room came from a brazier filled with glowing embers. He was surprised to see a tray had been placed on the floor near his pallet, since it meant someone had entered while he slept. The tray held a coarse brown bread and a few slices of meat, long since grown cold, but Harry's ravenous stomach didn't much care about the temperature as he shoveled the food in.
Hey, he was a hopefully still-growing boy and he hadn't eaten in what seemed like days!
The food was gone much too quickly. Harry sat back on the pallet, pulling the off-color linen sheet that had covered him around his shoulders. It wasn't really cold, not like Hogwarts even during the summer, but the stone and brick all around him gave the air the slightest of chills.
For the first time the wizard had a chance to sit back and actually think about what had happened. Harry groaned and got up, walking over to the nearest wall. Hard enough to make painful stars flash behind his eyelids, he smacked his head into the wall, muttering all the while. "Stupid, stupid, stupid..." Damn it, he knew better than to touch things he didn't know the purpose of!
"It wasn't stupid," a voice murmured behind him. "You were it's purpose."
Harry jumped, spinning around and staring at the speaker with wide eyes. It was a boy perhaps a couple of years older than he was, with burnished red-gold hair that gleamed copper in the fiery light of the brazier and emerald eyes that could have been the mirror of his own. "Who the blazes are you?"
The stranger smirked. "Such a polite boy you are. Who did you learn manners from, a hill giant?" As Harry gaped, the young man walked over to the brazier and picked up a poker, crouching to stir up the dying embers.
"You... you speak English!" the wizard said, relief pouring through him. "Please, could you tell me where I am?"
The boy looked up at him, and though without his glasses he couldn't be sure, Harry thought he was amused.. "Well, at least you said please... You're near Nemea, in the south of Greece."
"Greece!" Harry said with some astonishment. How in the world had he managed to travel so far from Scotland? And... "Oh, no... I've got to get back, the professors are going to go spare
His hair shimmering under the brazier's illumination, the stranger rose and walked over to the Boy-Who-Lived. "That's an interesting term... But I'm afraid it won't be possible for you to return home."
Harry tensed. "What? Why not?" Was he a prisoner here? One hand automatically reached for the wand tucked into the waistband of his ratty jeans.
The other boy held up his hands, displaying empty palms. "I'm not going to hurt you. I'll never hurt you. But you've come too far to go back."
"What do you mean?" Harry kept his hand near his wand. "It's not that hard to get back to the UK. I'll just get a message to Professor Dumbledore and he'll come get me, or I'll catch a plane back..." At least, he hoped the Headmaster would come get him. They hadn't parted on the best of terms last year, and truthfully, Harry wasn't all that interested in mending the bridges between them.
He got a headshake in return, and he could have sworn he'd somehow confused the other boy. "Not too far as in distance, though you managed a fair bit of that as well. It's time you've traveled in. You're in the past."
It took a moment for that to sink in, and Harry felt the blood drain from his face, leaving his cheeks cold. His knees buckled, and he would have hit the floor if the stranger hadn't caught him around the waist and half-carried him back to sit on the pallet.
"...In the past?" he finally managed to say, and the youth nodded. "But... I want to go home! Please, let me go home!"
His eyes sad, the stranger reached out to brush a gentle hand over his cheek. "I'm sorry... I promise, if there is a way to get you home I will find it, but Cronos is a stubborn god. It may not be possible."
Almost against his will, Harry's eyes closed and he leaned into the touch. His fingers were warm and cool at the same time, and surprisingly soothing.
"I will do my best," he heard the stranger say, "but I hope you do not hold it against me that I wish to keep you with me..."
Then the fingers were good, and Harry opened his eyes to find bright morning sunlight flooding through the gaps in the wooden door. The room was again empty, and he was lying down, the linen sheet tucked up around him.
But there was no empty tray on the floor.
A/N: Well, it's about time... The first half of this has been sitting around for forever... Hopefully things are starting to become bit clearer. Oh, and as a note: technically, the region Harry's in should be called Peloponnesus, but there's not much chance Harry would have recognized that name.
Now to go work on Strains of Melody so I can get a chapter out to commemorate its hundred thousandth hit.
Our most sincere gratitude to bellashade, Chara13, E.A.V., Fate, HecateDeMort, Mithros, Shade Dancer, silverkitcat, Tinkering, Toki Mirage, and Von for reviewing.
29 September 2005