WARNING: Listen - honestly, just don't read this. It's trash with a few pretty sentences in later chapters that I intend to rescue some time. Everything else is garbage. Don't pick through the garbage guys, you're better than that.
Notes: This fanfic is not DH compliant and will never even come close to being so. Chapter one and most of chapter two was written before the release date for the seventh book had even been announced, so obviously its content is contrary to canon, in many places.
Chapter 1: Setting Off
As the morning sun fell upon Hogwarts, Harry Potter lazily stretched his legs under the soft blue covers of his bed; this was probably the last time he'd wake up in these particular quarters of the castle and he intended to bask in his comfort as long as possible. Eyes still closed, he whispered "Good morning, Lady," to Hogwarts Castle, and snuggled deeper into his bedding as her response came. Not touching the original stonework dampened the effect but he could still feel a soft wave of sensation all about him and this morning it was quite like a hug from Mrs. Weasley. She knew of his plans to leave and unlike on his graduation day, when he still hadn't spoken to her beyond giving passwords and she'd been more than ready for him to get on and go like all the other seventh years, today she was sorry to see him go.
Of course, he'd learned appreciation in his knowledge of the castle, which changed his explorations and interactions immensely. Harry was a resident who did not slam doors or curse moving staircases and this alone improved Hogwarts' opinion of him. That he was ridiculously well-formed helped as well, for he bore not only the mark of Slytherin in his parselmouth ability and the sorting hat's approval as a 'true Gryffindor' but also the much-diluted blood of Ravenclaw, unknown by his parents but proven by his presence in Rowena Ravenclaw's former bedroom. While in the library's section on magical theory, he'd accidentally stumbled upon her personal corridor, which featured nine doors and a split stairwell leading to the second floor. In order to gain access to this corridor one only needed to speak the password, Stet Fortuna Domus, but the doors within were known to only open for an heir of the Ravenclaw family - Harry later learned he was descended not from Rowena but from her bastard half-sister, a tie which apparently was close enough.
After being hired by Headmistress McGonagall as Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, he requested the Ravenclaw corridor, which was unused and fairly useless for anyone else except as a shortcut to the library, be his personal domain in the castle. It was extremely convenient and he considered it to be a heavy win. Rowena had taught three subjects at Hogwarts and one was where DADA classes were currently held. Harry had opened a door on the middle floor in the corridor, which was even with the third floor of the castle, and found the back of a large portrait. Behind or in front of this portrait, depending upon your perspective, was the defense classroom. At the time he'd considered it unlucky, as a class had been in-progress when he'd started trying to move the portrait to see where he was, but getting a position which would put his class one floor above his own office and two floors below the teachers' living quarters had changed his opinion immediately.
Two years of exploring the corridor as a visitor and three years spent living in it had made it a home for him, far more so than the little house in Hogsmeade he spent summers in, which was solely his. Today, he had to bid it goodbye for good and this was the reason keeping him in bed so long. Tomorrow, he may not actually have a bed to sleep in. He and Dobby were taking their hippogriff friend, Buckbeak, and leaving their beloved Hogwarts behind. Thinking this while in his cherished home was enough to make him want to wave his arms about and yell but not enough for him to want to stay or change their plans. In two hours Dobby would be waiting for him in the woods beside the road to Hogsmeade and he would meet him, no matter what they were turning their backs on.
Remembering he had a time limit on how long he could louse about prompted him to open his eyes and, laying on his side facing his dark wood nightstand, a shimmer of white motion swam into view. A sleepy smile graced his face as he thought that this was something he could take with him. He reached over backwards, to his other nightstand, which was safe to fumble on, and found his glasses. Putting them on the pretty blur became a frosted glass stag, six inches in height and busy as usual; right then it was pretending to graze. Harry stretched his arms up above his head and slowly climbed out of bed. Reluctance was excusable but the night before he'd been busy discreetly saying goodbye to his colleagues without actually telling them he was leaving, exhausting and time-consuming work which had put him off of finishing packing. There wasn't too much to do, he was only taking a backpack's worth of things from his room, but his morning ablutions would take about forty minutes, it was a twenty minute walk to his meeting spot with Dobby and there was always the possibility of interruptions from students or fellow teachers. Punctuality wasn't dire but the house elf certainly deserved that much respect, as much as he was helping Harry.
Harry left his sleeping alcove, went down three steps on the left and then circled around into the small living space which completed his bedroom. It fit a loveseat upholstered in gold crushed velvet, a plush deep scarlet arm chair, an oak rocking chair, an empty gold-plated owl cage and stand, a tall and slim oak bookcase and a solid oak side table, all surrounding a blue and gold area rug. Ignoring the voice chorusing 'home,' he went to the brown faux suede backpack on his couch and obsessively checked that what he thought was there was, in fact, there. The three-volume set of defense books Sirius and Remus had given him for Christmas when he was fifteen lay flat against the bottom, his two favorite Weasley sweaters were on top of them and between the sweaters were two picture frames, containing the only pictures he felt he could safely take with him, one of Hedwig and another of Dobby. He felt the back of the inside of the bag, which did, inexplicably, still contain the two books he'd put in the inside pocket the day before, Moste Potente Potions and a soothed copy of The Monster Book of Monsters, which was restrained with a belt, just in case. Possibly having the latter pre-packed was the source of his worry. This left the bag half-full.
He shuffled in place a moment, then whipped around in the manner of someone about to get something done, walked seven paces to his rocking chair, which he would not see tomorrow, and picked up the folded bundle of his day's clothes. Everything he was going to wear after he left had been carefully thought out but this, the attire he'd have for both locations, was something he'd been especially careful about. It had to be appropriate for all his needs that day, an in-between and Harry had become quite familiar with those. He turned to leave and his eyes flicked over to the side table. Feeling what he and Dobby had come to call Packer's Anxiety, he held his clothes in one arm and took four quick steps to the side table, snatched up the wooden flute Hagrid had made for him for Christmas his first year at Hogwarts and grabbed a long-bodied, plush toy wolf by the neck. After carefully placing both in the bag on the sofa and looking at them for a moment as though he expected them to jump back out, he hurried out of his room and across the hall to the bathroom. Of course, he'd have to check the bag to make sure they were still there as soon as he got out.
The decision to pitch-all and run, as Hermione described it, was not an easy one for a Gryffindor to make. First, he had needed to convince himself that it wasn't blind fleeing, as Neville had put it. Then he'd had to find the reason he really was doing it, after everything he'd learned. Technically this wouldn't save or even help anyone he knew, it could only benefit people who were very much like them. Individuals belonging to an entirely different world which was running with the same set-up as their own, only slightly less developed. For example, there would still be a Hogwarts but instead it might have been named Pigzit; they would have an Albus Dumbledore, something Harry still sorely missed, but theirs might prefer taffy over lemon drops. They wouldn't know him and technically never would meet him as a child, he might not even be born in their world, or if he was, perhaps he'd be good at chess and thus cease to be himself.
The picture of what would happen was convoluted and rather confusing even to Harry. He'd spent years studying time travel obsessively, only to find that what he wanted was quite impossible. He couldn't go back as far as he wanted to and still mesh with the timeline he'd be jumping from, but what he could do was mesh with a different reality's timeline, a world which was following in his one's steps near-perfectly. He had the tools, painstakingly constructed, and he'd done his research. Everyone was half-expecting him to pull some crazy time-turner stunt one day, as he'd made no secret of his research and anyone who knew him realized he'd like to go back and fix it all. Most people thought of his mania as being centered around the prelude to the war, in which he lost his godfather and his mentor, the war itself, in which everyone lost far too much and the aftermath, which had been anything but rejoiceful for the Boy Who Lived and had been the final straw which prompted him to throw himself into what had seemed like an impossible quest.
Luna knew the whole truth, he'd told her because she'd been the only one who hadn't treated him as though he were demented after finding out he held such great interest in time travel. Initially Hermione had humored him and aided in his research, believing he would give up and accept the facts before they ever found anything useful but after nearly four months of him being perfectly serious on the matter she'd gotten too frustrated to continue, started a screaming match with him and left Scotland two weeks later. Luna had been genuinely accepting and displayed no small amount of curiosity in his findings. After discovering the impossibility of his initial quest, he had worked out a better plan than the original and gone to her with it. She had smiled broadly and called him as idealistic as a one-eyed snorkyhoobler and reckless as a niffler in London. He didn't know quite what a snorkyhoobler was and he'd never seen a niffler in London but she had positively glowed with pleasure, so he'd taken it as a compliment or something close to it. He figured she'd said it was stupid and she approved, which was more than enough for him.
Finishing his shower, Harry stepped out and did his best to not look at the luxuriant bathing pool (it was far too large to call a bathtub) he was leaving behind. If he'd gotten in that instead of the over-sized marble shower, he most certainly could not have climbed out before noon of next Wednesday. He brushed his teeth, shaved, cast a drying charm on his hair and dressed. He'd chosen a grey chenille turtleneck sweater, nice but nondistinct, red vinyl pants, in a 'retro' style cut which had come back into fashion with a vengeance, a red wool robe, worn unfastened and in a style of casual daywear which had been common for sixty years and black dragonhide boots, in a traditional cut, with the tops tucked under his pant-legs. He was time-safe, not presenting anything too unusual to a 1973 magical crowd but also showing his normal taste of attractive practicality to anyone who saw him between the bathroom door and Dobby. His sturdy backpack would only complete the picture of both Professor Potter going into town and young wanderer.
Turning away from the mirror he walked to the counter which stood between the entrance to the bath and his laundry hamper. Though he'd tossed his pajamas in the hamper for the elves, not knowing what would happen to the things he left behind once he was gone but not wanting to leave dirty laundry, either, the scarf he often wore to bed was sitting upon the counter where he'd set it aside while undressing before his shower. It was a silver scarf, given to him by Luna, woven of what was supposedly slipjibber silk which she said warded off nightmares. He'd never found any evidence of the existence of 'slipjibbers,' beyond Luna saying they did, but for some reason the scarf worked, except in warding off strange nightmares like ones about being chased by giant blocks of cheese or marrying Hermione. Picking up the fine material, he ran it through his hands as he walked to the door.
Entering the hall, he paused and gave a little wave of goodbye to the best bathing room he'd ever seen as he closed the door. He was even with the third floor in this part of the corridor; the only other doors on the level went to his bedroom and the defense classroom. Turning right, he went down the short hallway which ended in a right angle, leading to a stone staircase that went to the fourth floor. The section of Ravenclaw's corridor at the top of the stairs also had three doors, though one was hidden within an alcove at the end of the hall. Harry went straight to the first door, which opened to a storage closet, and he set the scarf down on a shelf before picking up his Firebolt. Leaving his broom behind, the one Sirius had gotten him, was a crushing necessity. His only consolation was that he'd be working to save another Sirius Black from going to Azkaban and later getting killed.
He removed his clip-on broomstick compass, which Ron had given him on the Christmas of their fifth year at Hogwarts, and gave the broom handle a few loving strokes before setting it down. He'd already said a proper goodbye to it the weekend before, when he'd ridden it for hours in pursuit of a snitch on Saturday and then on Sunday, when he'd flown purely for pleasure, savoring every rush of speed he'd be giving up for the next thirty years, or possibly forever if the Firebolt was never developed in the other world or he was killed or disabled before then. Minerva had been thrilled, seeing him getting out for fresh air and exercise. Sybill Trelawney, as they'd been drinking an evening brandy in her tower, had told him she sensed it meant he was preparing to do something foolish. Ten points to Sybill for an accurate prediction.
Setting the compass beside the scarf he picked up a small, latched wooden box containing a trick snitch from Fred and George and grabbed a pair of soft red mittens off another shelf; they'd been a gift from Minerva and each featured a tiny golden snitch which raced along the material. Piling the scarf and compass on top of them, he stepped back with the bundle and closed the door. Looking down the hall and then down the stairs, he went back to his room and carefully deposited his things on the loveseat, beside his bag, then rushed back out into the hall and up the stairs again.
The two remaining doors were on the opposite wall of the first. Harry walked by the second and went through the archway of the alcove leading to the third. The antechamber contained four straight-backed darkwood chairs at one end and a cleared desk with a slightly grander matching chair at the other. Beside the desk was the door to Harry's personal office. He privately thought that a former Ravenclaw teacher, though certainly not Rowena herself, had used the alcove as a publicly accessible office while disciplining students. At least that was the impression he'd gotten when he'd found a small number of canes and whips inside the more personalized office beyond the door. He hadn't felt it right to just toss those, since things left in Ravenclaw's corridors by former residents were meant to become the property of future residents, but he had hidden them all on the floor at the back of the storage closet down the hall.
Entering the teacher's office he'd come to think of as only his, he wondered what the next resident would think of it, assuming there ever was one. He'd made it a cheery eyesore, keeping the plush blue rug but turning the wallpaper red, with gold stripes. The three cherry wood bookshelves centered on the left and right walls were flanked by matching stands which held a variety of devices and baubles, ranging from a counter-top foe glass to the model Firebolt Tonks had given him for Christmas in his fifth year. His walls were covered in framed wizarding photos of nature scenes, such as the Giant Squid lounging in the shallows of the lake and Ron's owl Pig somewhat successfully dodging snowflakes in his usual frantic darting flight pattern. He hoped whoever came along next wouldn't shove everything in the back of the closet with the canes and whips.
The stand on the left of the bookcases on the left wall of the office had a small gold pillow, cradling the Remembrall Minerva had given him the first Christmas after he started teaching. The stand on the right of the same bookcases had a round, red velvet pillow reminiscent of the pouffes in the Divination classroom, which cushioned a crystal ball that was about the same size as the Remembrall. Sybill had gifted him with it on his twenty-first birthday, handing him a little wrapped box and saying, "Congratulations, I've lost a few bets," and the humorous acknowledgement of her penchant for predicting his death had opened the door to his current friendship with the odd woman. Long discussions of his death omens and the hidden accuracy in 'false' predictions were the reason behind the tea cup and saucer on his desk.
They'd been drinking tea, trying to sober up for classes and he'd recognized it as the same tea cup Trelawney had seen the Grim in during his first class with her in third year, which he then told her had probably been a symbol for the return of his godfather, Sirius. She had taken his remembrance of the cup's traits and its use in accurately divining such a significant personal event in his life as a sign that he was attuned to it and meant to have it. Sybill had insisted he take the cup and its saucer with him when he left the tower and had him promise her he'd use it to read tea leaves at least once a month, to 'keep it seasoned.' Her manner had brought to mind Hagrid packing Norbert up for Romania. Their still slightly-intoxicated states may have been responsible for the exchange but the day after they both felt they were even and refrained from mentioning it, though she'd sometimes remind him of the promise and ask if he was keeping it.
The next heir of Ravenclaw to enter his office would be inheriting two unburdened pillows and an eyesore of an empty space on the corner of his busy desk. The crystal ball in the tea cup, the cup on the saucer and the Remembrall cradled in the crook of his arm, Harry closed the door on one more part of his home, refraining from waving as he had done to the bathroom. He returned to the loveseat in his room and gently settled the glassware onto the cushion. Looking at what was waiting to be packed, he stuffed the crystal ball into one red mitten and the Remembrall into the other then settled both into the bag, next to the toy wolf. On impulse he reached down to the bottom of the bag and felt the bindings of the defense books from Remus and Sirius; all three of them were still there and he hoped this latest confirmation would ease his Packer's Anxiety. He was sure Dobby wasn't having as much trouble with his own little knapsack.
This left the scarf, snitch box, broomstick compass and tea cup and saucer on his little gold sofa. He stood still looking at them a moment and then made the circular trip to his sleeping alcove and went to the nightstand on the right of his bed which displayed a small number of glass items, surrounding a bronze filigree lamp; his frosted glass stag had the most room to itself, as it would often 'explore' up to a square foot of space. Beside an unanimated crystal statuette of Merlin was the pocket sneakoscope Ron had given him for his twelfth birthday, which resembled a glass top. It would sometimes spin and whistle when the stag investigated its neighbors too closely. He picked it up, took it around to the sofa and wrapped it in the scarf Luna had given him, then set it down in the bag, tucked under the stuffed wolf so that it was also cushioned by the sweater beneath it. A good deal of space in his backpack was going to be hogged by the Weasley sweaters he was taking but they could not have been left in Hogsmeade to be packed by Dobby without drawing suspicion, as he wore them too often, and they did make for good padding.
Going back to the alcove he went to his dressing armoire and took out a blue velvet dress robe, timesafe, which had been a gift from Hermione in the days they'd still been talking to one another. He laid it out on his bed and placed the stag, which cocked its head in his direction, in the center. He then folded it in half and quickly rolled it up before the figurine could escape. This bundle went into the bag as well, pressed against the back of the stuffed toy. He added the snitch box and compass to the growing number of what would appear to most as cushioned odds and ends. He smiled as he thought of what his younger self's response to this sort of packing would be. "Well, that's just great Harry, you can use the wolf teddy to spy on Voldemort and later kill him with a ballerina music box melody. Are you mad? How about adding a flamethrower in there, Potter? Are you even taking your wand with you or are you going to show up on his doorstep with a pocket full of daisies?"
He was, in fact, not able to take his wand as it was rather too distinct. If it came out that he owned a wand containing a core of Fawkes' feather, he could be found out as a future version of Harry Potter or be called out as a traitor who had stolen the feather. Things could go very horribly wrong, which meant he had two choices: use the spare wand he'd purchased years before or go to Ollivander's in the other world and get the wand which would otherwise be destined for their own Boy Who Lived. Either way, the holly and phoenix feather wand which bore the scars of fourteen years of his magic would be staying behind.
Fitting the tea cup and saucer between the mittens and wolf, he picked up the bag with both arms and carried it to his bed to finish up. According to the clock on the wall he had forty minutes until he had to meet Dobby. He removed two Weasley sweaters from an armoire drawer and tossed them over his shoulder and onto the bed; that made the total four. The next thing to fly was his invisibility cloak, followed by handfuls of boxers and socks. He then closed the drawers and doors and went to the nightstand on the left side of the bed, which held more practical things than the one on the right. His wand was on the top surface but he ignored this and opened the drawer beneath.
Over a month before, he had prepared the contents of this drawer. Three unbreakable crystal vials, holding what he felt he might need most, besides Dobby and his wits. A vial each of Felix Felicis, a special kind of water from the Betweens and a strong nutritional potion of his own design which he hoped could help sustain Dobby, Buckbeak and himself in an emergency, for up to two weeks. Beside the vials were two money bags meant to protect against such an emergency. The magic pouches were filled to full capacity, leaving him with six thousand galleons as insurance in the new world. The last item he was taking from inside the stand was a much-loved sheathed dagger, which he took a moment to secure in the inside of his right boot. The smaller-capacity money bag he normally went to Hogsmeade with was on the stand's top, next to his wand, and he took this and stuffed it securely into an inner robe pocket before tossing the other two magic bags from the drawer onto the bed, picking up the vials, shutting the drawer and turning to the great mess he'd made.
He spread his emerald green sweater over the top contents of the bag, leaving it quite full. The foremost front pocket on the backpack was then stuffed with socks and boxer shorts, the unbreakable vials leaving the pocket fatly stuffed as well. In the second pocket on the front, which went two thirds the length of the bag, he first packed his folded invisibility cloak, then added the fourth and final Weasley sweater, which was bright scarlet, and on top of this he placed the two money bags. Doing up the snaps of all three over-flaps, he took a deep breath and slid the straps over his shoulders. This was it; he resisted the desire to take it back off and double check the inventory, as he was at least reasonably sure the defense volumes, his four favorite sweaters and his nightmare-repelling scarf were all right where he'd left them. No need to check and no time, either, Packer's Anxiety be damned.
Harry gave the room a bittersweet smile and looked to his wand, which he was abandoning to who knew what fate. "Good wishes," he told it, and quickly left his room thinking that if he hadn't cried over leaving his broom behind then he certainly wouldn't do it over one of the greatest symbols to him of the war with Voldemort. In the corridor he turned right and hurried down the short hall, to turn left and go down the stairs to the second floor. The first door was on the left and he sped past it to the one centered in the wall on the right. Going straight into the little parlor he'd converted from an apprentice's bedroom, he picked up his last bit of luggage from the table, a very special pocket watch and an average deck of playing cards, and settled each on his person, the deck in an outer robe pocket. Looking up at the quirky enchanted window that presently displayed the night sky and full moon, he smirked and shrugged, going back out into the hallway and finally, walking by the final door of the corridor without more than a cursory glance, left his home through the portrait at the end of the second floor hall.
He tossed his usual careless, "Good morning, Madam," over his shoulder to the guardian portrait of Ravenclaw's corridor, who happened to be a beautiful pink flamingo. Whatever students saw this made no note of it, as it wasn't unusual to see their Defense Professor standing before the flamingo painting and holding brief, one-sided conversations. Something they'd all come to accept was that Professor Potter, though quite ravishing and very cool, was a bit mad. Since none of them had ever met Professor Dumbledore, some of them felt he was a wild man and speculated as to whether he'd be fired or committed first. He couldn't wait until the more conservative children of thirty years before met him.
He made it out the front doors without being stopped by anyone and once outdoors he pressed a kiss to the castle's archway, something he'd gotten in the habit of doing whenever he left the castle's protection five years ago. No one would think anything of it and only he and Hogwarts knew it was a kiss goodbye. He'd felt a rush of warmth and comfort come over him from the brief touch to the stonework and was able to walk away from her, his first and only real home, without doubts.
Dobby would be waiting thirty feet into the woods beside Buckbeak, guarding Harry's life's work. It had taken two years of research for him to be grounded enough to know what he wanted. Another three to plan and assemble the Blacksphere and between that, his uncountable years in the Betweens, questing after the most essential component of his plan. He had needed the sands of time and paid a high price to retrieve them.
When first starting his insane mission, he'd researched time-turners, discovering they worked because they were in fact filled with the sands of time, a magical element only found in the dream world. This was how a person could feel they've been living days or hours in their dreams - their minds were removed from the constraints of time for as long as they were in the dream world. So, in order to create a magical object which would move him through time, he needed to get the bloody sand first. There had been record of people going into the between world, which existed both of the real and imagined, and the reports of such incidences ended in the person either never returning, going mad or waltzing into the Department of Mysteries with a fresh supply of extremely rare magical substances. Unspeakables were the subjects of these last accounts, the providers of the sand in all those time-turners at the Ministry Harry remembered smashing in his fifth year.
So he went to the Unspeakables. Well, he tried to anyway and after he'd been attempting to catch one for a year and a half, they'd either felt sorry for him or been annoyed enough by his presence to approach him from behind, knock him out and kidnap him and then wake him up in a poorly-lit concrete room and ask what his problem was. Very nice of them, really. He told them of his intentions to enter the realm between worlds real and imagined and claimed it was to retrieve water from the pool of tranquil dreams, which would ensure a good night's sleep for years. Knowing he was a former fighter in the war and that if the Boy Who Lived disappeared or went mad there would be more than a little trouble in the wizarding world, they offered to get some for him. Of course, he refused and told them he would not be dependent upon someone else securing his state of mind every few years for the rest of his life. They eventually agreed and taught him all he needed to know in order to manage. Luckily he'd already mastered occlumency, learned from a desperate combination of Snape's head-splitting lessons, Dumbledore's portrait's advice and books Hermione had thrown at him with a vengeance.
After completing his training, which mostly consisted of mastering his emotions and learning to operate sufficiently while under duress, he was given the Draught of Living Death and placed under the charm which would guide and hold him in the dimension of their world which shifted between dreamful imaginings and corporeal horrors, a land of wakeful death which he had come to think of simply as the Betweens, a place he'd eventually come to understand better than he would have liked. He'd spent over two months in the Betweens, as counted in the Waking World. In the Dream World it was an eternity and in the Betweens immeasurable but some compromise between the two, as in everything else there. Somewhere between two months and eternity, to retrieve an adequate supply of sand and water, having needed the water he'd told the Unspeakables he was going in to retrieve in order to cover for having withdrawn the highly contraband materials needed to manipulate time. The Tri-Wizard Tournament seemed like a pick-up game of Quidditch by the time he woke up, clutching his vials of water and only relaxing when he felt the weight in his coat of the two money bags filled with sand.
It was lucky he'd decided to take so much and have the room to experiment when he got home or else he never would have bought something as ridiculous as a money bag that could hold up to three thousand galleons, never mind buying two. At twenty-one, Harry had never made a purchase exceeding three hundred galleons and could not think of a reason to ever do so. He'd not known how a wizard could spend one thousand galleons on a shopping excursion and things like houses or brooms - well, who paid for them in coins? That's what Gringotts was there for! Being somewhat known in Diagon Alley as a low-key shopper, he'd gotten quite a look when he'd walked into Hausman's Magical Practicalities and asked for two of their second-largest, most durable coin bags, particularly when he specified that he wanted magic bags, not enchanted ones which only had enlargement charms on them. The ones he'd walked out with were temporal distortion safe, having been woven from the start as magical objects which were simply self-containing, instead of having been merely mugglish bags that were tampered with to make them behave like magic ones. The risk of an enlargement charm reverting during his trip into the Betweens had been too great - it was worth the galleons spent, to know he wouldn't wake up in the Department of Mysteries covered in sand or be unable to bring enough back with him to do more than go back a few years.
If Harry Potter wanting six thousand galleons on hand three years before raised eyebrows, it would have sent up fireworks now. He loved his remaining friends, of course, but some of them had become quite a pain. The offer of defense professor over three years before, just a month after his secret journey to the Betweens, had been Minerva's way of ensuring she could keep an eye on his health and safety. It was appreciated but the ensuing years of constant speculation over what he was doing and what his true state of mind and health were was sometimes rather grueling. If he didn't love Hogwarts and genuinely want to teach there, his ex-professor's constant concern likely would have driven him out after the first year. It had probably been the sight of his exhaustion and overly-alert mindset which had prompted her offer, not knowing of the trials he'd faced while living in the Betweens and thinking he'd been doing God could only guess what to himself in the months between his visits at Hogwarts.
She was a good friend and a loyal advocate; tomorrow she'd be getting a letter telling her so. The crucialty of his goodbye letters arriving after he was well and truly gone but before panic set in had kept him from simply employing the Owl Post services; the Boy Who Lived wanting so many time-specified deliveries would no doubt be talked about in Hogsmeade and the risk of it reaching Hogwarts or, Merlin forbid, Neville and the Weasleys, was too great a chance to take. They all suspected he'd try to mess about with their timeline one day or another and as such had kept their eyes on him, questioning any behavior they considered a warning sign. He had no doubt Hermione had owled them all a list of things to watch out for, as now he could hardly visit his own house in Hogsmeade without someone showing up to baby-sit him and ask just what business he was about.
In the interests of his mission's security, he had charged a kitchen House Elf named Midgy, whom Dobby claimed to trust implicitly, with delivering his letters to Professor Minerva McGonagall, Professor Sybill Trelawney, Mrs. Weasley, Charlie Weasley, Fleur Weasley, Neville Longbottom, Luna Lovegood and Draco Malfoy. The rest of the world could go hang but the last of his friends and family deserved something more than whatever rot the Daily Prophet would print about the Boy Who Lived going missing. He was sure that after Minerva got over the shock of having lost one of her favorite former students, she'd make tactful and discreet announcements to first their fellow staff members and then the student populace. His other colleagues were good acquaintances of his and likable enough but he didn't feel he owed any of them a personal explanation or farewell. He had favorite students he'd miss, including some cheeky fourth year Slytherins who reminded him more of the Marauders than the Junior Death Eaters he'd gone to school with, but his missive to the Headmistress also included a brief letter of address to the student body which he'd asked her to read during her announcement.
Aside from his personal letters, his account manager at Gringotts, whom he had developed quite an appreciation for, would be alerting certain parties by the end of the week that, according to the terms of his living will, they were due at Gringotts for the reading of his last will and testament and the distribution of his bequeathments to them. There was a great deal of gold in his vault that he and Dobby just wouldn't be able to carry with them without risking suspicion as to who they were and where they had gotten their funds from but the remaining Weasleys, Neville and Sybill could use it well. He wasn't leaving an heir behind, so all things Potter needed a home as well. It had taken him a few months to be sure of just what he wanted done with everything and for everyone, that leaving the Firebolt behind in Ravenclaw's corridor for some future Ravenclaw heir to fly with and giving Grimmauld Place to Draco, donating a year's supply of doughnuts to the Ministry's Auror division and leaving Hermione with a large line of credit at a House Elf Relocation auction house, had all been the proper things to do. There were a dozen other similar bequeathments, some genuine and others his last laugh in his home world.
Coming upon the bend in the road which would ensure he was out of view of Hogwarts and Hogsmeade when he ducked into the forest, he recalled Dobby's preparations, which had all been very simple as the House Elf was far more concerned with his friend the great wizard Harry Potter's comfort and future well-being. The elf's devotion was still a bit frightening at times but it had also made him the perfect accomplice, someone Harry knew he could count on to keep quiet about his secrets and be effective in helping him manage in the new world. They'd picked this day the previous spring and had spent the summer in their Hogsmeade home planning preparations, deciding what stayed and went. He remembered that his elf friend's greatest issue in leaving their dimension was that nearly all of their photos and portraits would have to stay behind. No discernable images of their human friends and no pictures depicting Harry before his scar had faded could follow them into the sensitive situation they would be creating. Having developed a strong taste for photography and honed a more respectable skill in art than the childish rendition of Harry he'd drawn ten years before would suggest was possible, Dobby had found this condition to be as tearing as leaving behind Ravenclaw's corridor was for Harry. He'd bet a thousand galleons, which he happened to have on him, that the elf's little knapsack had at least one portrait off the walls of their home, timesafe or not.
He walked into the woods, freshly fallen leaves crinkling beneath his boots, and made his way into the small clearing they'd agreed upon. He heard the soft rustling of Buckbeak's wings before seeing the pair, when they were in view he smiled in satisfaction; Dobby was standing on his toes beside the hippogriff, patiently stroking the animal's side as Buckbeak shifted restlessly. A few feet away, the Blacksphere sat on the ground, an orb of transparent black glass holding seven pounds of sand and framed and supported by rounded gold inscribed with runic symbols. An enchanted spherical titanium wire cage comprised of six bars sat within the stand's outer frame but outside the globe's own supporting, pivotal frame and when he activated the device, the wires would spin at an unnatural speed, rotating and powering the globe. It stood only three feet tall and two and a half feet wide but for the next few minutes, it meant the entire world to Harry, quite literally.
"Dobby, do you have the portkey?"
"Yes Harry Potter, Dobby is not forgetting something so important."
Harry smiled slightly at the minor expression of rebuke on the elf's face. "I know you wouldn't, Dobby, it's just the PA again."
The elf sighed at this and nodded gravely, though an answering smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Dobby is understanding, Harry Potter, he is having had Packer's Anxiety since you is leaving to Hogwarts. This morning Dobby was not knowing if he was having packed all his socks or not and he was almost leaving his favorite sweater behind!"
Indeed, there were bits of clothes sticking out of the knapsack strapped to the elf's back, the half-hanging out rainbow sock and purple and green polka dot hat suiting Harry's mental image of Dobby perfectly. Looking at his friend, he saw that the elf had followed their plan and dressed 'discreetly' after reaching the woods, as he was wearing only one hat, only three pairs of socks and a plain maroon jumper that had been one of Ron's discards years before. The blue child-sized backpack, covered in pre-approved timesafe buttons of famous pieces of art, certainly finished the picture. Dobby was a free elf and they wouldn't be hiding that but his normal presentation of himself could imply he was a wild radicalist, classless or even a house elf on acid, none of which would be conducive to their mission. He'd accepted the minor conditions on his wardrobe in stride, knowing wizards thought strangely when it came to such things. Harry was just glad he'd toned it down and gotten rid of the bright pink children's school bag that had neon green zippers; they'd be enough like a traveling circus as it was, without actually begging for crowds of strangers to stare.
"Are you sure you're ready now?" He looked straight into the large tennis ball eyes of his most-needed ally; if Dobby had doubts he could wait or go on his own after regrouping.
But Dobby squared his shoulders and returned the look with a bold edge about him. "Dobby is following Harry Potter wherever he is going, and is always ready to serve Harry Potter." Then the elf abruptly lost his serious attitude. "And besides," he continued in a rush, "Dobby is looking forward to seeing a little Harry Potter again, you was very cute when you was small, and Harry Potter's owl will be alive again, and Hedwig was always willing to sit still so Dobby could be drawing her, and the Wheezies will all be there, and we is to be helping people and - AND Dobby is to be meeting Harry Potter's parents!" At the end of this speech, he looked overjoyed and ready to cry.
"Yeah, well...you know we won't be seeing me or Hedwig for a long time though, Dobby. You never know, something might even go wrong and-"
He was interrupted by an indignant sniff. "Dobby is not listening to Harry Potter saying he is not being born, Dobby is going to take care of as many Harry Potters as there is to be being, and seeing that they be is part of Dobby doing that. We is being ready?"
Used to the elf's stance on the issue, Harry looked about for the satchel of clothes Dobby was supposed to bring for him from Hogsmeade and saw it on the ground a bit away from Buckbeak. Slipping the shoulder strap over his head so that he was wearing both it and his backpack, he then carried the Blacksphere over to the rest of his trio and set it down on the ground before them, keeping one hand on the top. He looked Buckbeak in the eyes and thought the hippogriff seemed a bit impatient and bored with them. Hopefully the surprises coming wouldn't scare him too much. "Whenever you're both ready," he said while smiling at Buckbeak and got a snort from him and nod from Dobby in response. The elf took out the portkey, a bent up spoon, and held it out so that the end of it was resting flat against Buckbeak's side. Harry reached out, keeping his left hand in a firm grip on the Blacksphere, and when he touched the middle he spoke the password he'd set to activate it, "Never enough socks."
The three creatures were pulled through the portkey and whirled to their destination, where Buckbeak made a perfect landing, looking rather pleased, Dobby landed mid-tumble and in the interests of his personal luggage strapped to his back, turned the start of a momentum driven somersault into a cartwheel, from which he came down upon his feet with a minimum of stumbling and Harry outright fell on his face, slamming down flat on the ground and getting the wind knocked out of him by the satchel which had slid around to his front during the trip.
"Harry Potter, sir! Is you alright?" Dobby rushed to his side as the wizard wheezed and nodded. The elf looked to the Blacksphere Harry was still clutching. "Our little black globe is fine too, just look, it's glowing!"
"That's," Harry rasped before taking a deep breath, "because of the portkey trip. I told you the distortional travel wouldn't harm it and might even excite its magic a bit." He huffed once and then grinned at Dobby, who was switching between giving a reproachful look at his friend and eyeing their little time machine with a light of awe. He settled on Harry, of course. "You is needing to be more careful! What if Harry Potter is getting hurt out here? What if you is landing on your back and your things is breaking or the beastie book is waking up and eats through Harry Potter's bag and attacks Harry Potter?"
"I'm sure you'd save me," he said carelessly and rose to go stroke Buckbeak's mane of feathers. "We're going to be making another trip like that one, Beaky, and I'm not sure how it will go in practice. In theory, we're going to be phased through the Betweens, which is painless but disturbing, while projecting ourselves out of this world and being drawn into the next, which may result in an awful wizard, hippogriff and elf pancake when we land but should most likely end in the Blacksphere's charms slowing us down as much as possible and eventually cushioning our landing. Then it may seem like we haven't gone anywhere but up and back down to the same spot, but we'll be in a whole different world, Beaky, one that has Hagrid in it." Buckbeak stamped his front hooves against the ground and gave Harry a look as though he had just been promised a big fat ferret for breakfast. "That's right and though he'll be younger and smaller than you remember him, Sirius will be there too." A loud, rough trill sounded from the large animal and Harry smiled widely. There were plenty of practical reasons to take the hippogriff with them, not the least of which being convenient transport and protection of better quality than any guard dog could offer, but primarily Harry felt that after the loss of the two humans who had been most-involved in Buckbeak's life, and the depression his animal friend had suffered after losing Hagrid, it would be an act of cruelty to leave him abandoned by his third caretaker as well.
"We is to be smacked, disturbed, pulled and then land back in courtyard, yes?"
Harry turned to Dobby with a weak smile at the summary. "Yes." The whole thing would be quite a show for anyone they were within view of which was why he'd chosen to portkey out to the courtyard of a long-abandoned wizarding castle on the Isle of Drear. It was under numerous protection charms with no muggle or wizard neighbors and was also quite a wreck. He'd cleared the courtyard of all rodents, reptiles and hindering vegetation during the summer and Dobby had kept it up since.
"Right." Dobby nodded to himself. "Let's go then, Harry Potter." The elf walked over to Buckbeak and bowed to him, the hippogriff in turn lowering himself enough for Dobby to climb onto his back. Harry withdrew his spare wand from his robe pocket, ebony with dragon heartstring, twelve inches, swishy and previously used mostly in emergencies. He bowed to Buckbeak as well, maintaining eye contact, and received a bow in return followed by a lesser lowering of his shoulders than what he'd afforded Dobby. Harry climbed on gratefully, settling behind the house elf and then levitating the Blacksphere and guiding it to them. It only weighed fourteen pounds but was of an impractical size to outright hold, especially while sitting on a hippogriff.
Hovering it in front of himself and above Dobby's head, he reached into the hollow in the base and withdrew three chains, attaching to the Blacksphere, one ending in a bridle and two others in loops of adjustable sizes. He stroked Buckbeak's feathers and with his permission, gently affixed the feather light bridle chain. The adjustable loops went about Harry and Dobby's waists and then Harry touched his wand to the base of the Blacksphere and spoke the incantation to activate it. It powered up quickly, the bars and globe spinning into a dark silver blur, the sand glowing brightly from within the black glass globe and the steady blue illumination of the runes carved into the gold outer frame and base slightly touched by the white-grey glare of the sand.
The chains connecting them all to the magical activity began sparking slightly, though not enough to do more than startle them, and then in a bright flash of grey light tinged blue which came upon them too suddenly to anticipate, they were gone from the waking world and in the Betweens. By the time this change had registered their incorporeal forms had already entered the route suggested to the dream world by the magic in the runic symbols and were going through illuminated tunnels of grey, feeling a complete loss of their comprehension of direction, distance, shapes and space. It was really the most disorienting and nauseating experience any of them had ever had and while in the waking world's time the trip would only take an instant longer than apparition, in the Betweens it seemed to last hours and left Harry fearing he'd made a terrible mistake and they would be trapped in the dizzying spiral until they died. Then, they became aware of something beyond the swirl of greys and each other's presences; the sense of 'down' slowly came over them, sloughing off the hellish trance. Soon they regained their minds fully and realized they were plummeting, Buckbeak was aimed head first towards the ground they couldn't see, however far away it was, and they were diving through the air, drawn by an invisible force, at a rapidly increasing speed. Their velocity increased, surpassing Harry's Firebolt and finally climbing to a level that made him very glad none of them could feel wind pressure in the Between state the Blacksphere had placed them all in.
Eventually the endless grey became choking blue and they gradually slowed to a speed he thought was probably reachable on a Nimbus 2001, something more than tolerable for a Firebolt owner. Buckbeak was still poised to be flying down, likely following the air currents, natural and otherwise, to avoid injury to his wings. By the time they reached clouds, textile sensation was beginning to return and Harry could feel the cold wind against his face. Soon enough, they were slowing to the point that Buckbeak could straighten them out fifteen feet above the ground and spread his wings wide, carefully maneuvering a gentle landing for them, up to the point he contacted the cushioning charms on the ground which Harry had mentioned before, which caused him to lose his balance and stumble so that he was laying on a dissipating pillow of air. The hippogriff turned its head to glare at Harry and the shaken wizard couldn't manage more than a queasy attempt at a smile before collapsing to the side and laying down against the ground too. Dobby was slumped over Buckbeak's feathery mane and was quietly panting, too drained to even ask if his wizard was alright and the three of them fell asleep this way, completely exhausted by their interdimensional journey.