Warning: There are some spoilers for the seventh book (which I haven't actually read but steal a couple of concepts from). Insert standard disclaimer if you want to about... here.
Dancing with Myself
Chapter 1: Well There's Nothing to Lose
The nothingness went on for an eternity until, quite suddenly, it didn't.
It was as though the world, all of it, were approaching from a great distance with its sounds and smells and sights all surging into being at the same time.
Harry groaned and fell to his knees. Something had changed, of that he was sure, though his mind was too disorganized to clue him in to what had changed, or even how he knew that something had. He put his hand to his forehead, but even that didn't feel quite right. It took a few seconds of staring, but he finally realized what it was. His left hand had somehow regrown the missing joint on the middle finger, something that it hadn't had in years. Not since he'd been clipped by a dark curse during his last stand against Voldemort.
Harry blinked and the examined the back of his hand, noting the odd lack of scars on it, as well. With all of the advances in magical medicine, the only thing that could leave a scar for any length of time was auric damage from a magical backlash or darker spell. That was one of the reason the Cutting Curse wasn't considered dark magic. You could lop someone's hand off with it, but magical medicine could replace the hand if the person didn't die of blood loss. The patchwork of damage he'd become accustomed to was missing. Blinking, he raised his other hand and was almost relieved to note the faint tracery of "I will not tell lies" engraved upon it.
Something had happened, and he was only just starting to piece together what.
A sound caught his attention and he instinctively drew his wand from his wrist sheath. Almost as an afterthought, he drew his other wand, as well. The motion had been automatic, but it gave him pause as he looked at the brother wands, one holly, the other yew, both with feathers from the same phoenix as cores. Dueling with brother wands was an unknown practice, but Harry had always liked a challenge. As it turned out, the effect could be quite devastating, though draining. Fortunately for Harry, he had power to spare.
If these changes were indications of some sort of trap, his would-be attacker had made a grave mistake in not disarming him. In the eight years since he'd left Hogwarts, Harry had no unanswered defeats to his dueling record. If he was beaten, he did not rest until he had returned the favor, though that had proven unnecessary for the last three years.
Moving with a quiet ease that spoke of more than just combat training, Harry inched toward the sound, not bothering to disillusion himself or draw out his father's invisibility cloak. If the source of the sound posed a threat, then it would not be fooled by such petty tricks. If it was... well, then Harry would rather face it in the open where he could move freely.
The sound soon resolved itself into a soft sobbing and Harry relaxed a little as he approached a clearing in the lightly forested area he was moving through. He recalled a few dark creatures which cried, but none of them were native to the type of temperate forest he was moving through. There, kneeling by a stream, was a young girl, barely in her teens from the look of her. Her long red hair hung down over her face in a concealing curtain as she wept uncontrollably.
Faced with the choice of approaching a crying girl and heading back the way he came, Harry froze for several moments as he considered. On one hand, he was no good with women, as evidenced by his short and disastrous dating career. On the other hand, this was the first person he'd run across, and he couldn't shake the feeling that that was significant in some way.
Sighing softly, Harry holstered one of his wands and held the other low, concealed by the edge of his robes so as not to startle her. "Excuse me, miss," he said, though it came out as something of a croak. He cleared his throat and pressed on. "Excuse me, but do you-" he started, but his voice came to a strangled stop as the girl raised her face. It was a face he knew all too well, having seen it in the photo album Hagrid provided him all of those years ago.
Almost as one, two voices spoke, one saying "mum" and the other "dad". Then, just as quickly as it started, the moment shattered. The girl staggered to her feet, frantically fumbling for her wand. Harry, reacting on instinct, summoned it to him, noting as it flew toward him that it was holly, just like his.
"Who are you?" the girl asked, her shoulders slumping. She sniffled another time and then straightened up, drawing her shoulders back and taking a long breath as though preparing to face her executioner.
"I could ask you the same thing... who are you and where am I?" he asked in a low, even voice. Thoughts were colliding in his still somewhat foggy brain with increasing frequency. The girl, for all that she looked like his mother, had brown eyes.
The girl blinked at him. "You honestly don't know?" When he didn't respond to that, she seemed to relax a little and said, "Harriet Lily Potter. And your name in return?"
"Harriet..." he managed as his eyes tracked upward to the jagged lightning bolt scar on her brow. "I am Harry James Potter." Thoughts had finally focused and he remembered what had happened just before he awoke in the forest. "What did your Aunt do when you broke her vase, the one with the blue flowers?"
The girl's mind appeared to not be fully engaged as she raised her arm, pulling the robe back. "She cut me with the biggest piece, right here." She pointed to a small divot just to the right of her left elbow. Harry pulled his sleeve up and did the same thing, showing a nearly identical scar.
"I think I'm you," Harry said as he lowered his wand.
"You're me?" the redhead asked, her confusion written plainly across her face. "What... how..."
As she sputtered, the ridiculousness of the situation hit him and Harry laughed. He waved his wand, creating a pavilion with screened walls and two heaps of cushions inside for seating. "Come, sit. This may take a while," he said and levitated the girl's wand to her. As a show of trust, he turned his back on her and walked inside to sit down.
Of course, the act wasn't as trusting as it appeared. Harry had every confidence in his highly tuned magical senses alerting him to any surprise attacks. To his relief none came and soon he was serving conjured tea to his 'guest' in the pavilion.
"So, tell me a bit about yourself?" he prompted. "How did you end up crying your eyes out in what is, if I don't miss my guess, the Forbidden Forest?"
"I..." the girl started and then looked at Harry for a moment in consideration. It didn't take long for her to decide to continue. "I've just been entered into a tournament. One with a historically high body count, my only friends have abandoned me, and the rest of the school thinks I'm just seeking attention."
Harry nodded, he well remembered those days. At least, Hermione had made an effort to stay his friend, but she hadn't exactly gone out of her way to throw over Ron, either. "That sounds lonely," he noted as he reassessed the girl before him. He'd thought her young, perhaps twelve, but if she was in the Tri-Wizard, she would be fourteen. Apparently, her Aunt and Uncle were no more inclined to feed a niece than a nephew.
"Yeah," she grumbled, staring into her tea as though it might help her divine an answer to her situation. "What did you mean... you're me?"
"Oh, that... well, I think we're the same person, just from different realities. You're the person I would have been if I'd been born a girl. Well, and I appear to be several years in my past as I'm actually twenty-five."
"You don't look twenty-five," the girl remarked, looking him over so intently that he started to get nervous.
"Yeah, I don't think I am... I don't even feel twenty-five right now. Maybe seventeen, but not twenty-five. If I were twenty-five, I probably wouldn't find you as attractive-" he stopped himself suddenly. "Sorry, I didn't mean to say that out loud. I'll just be shutting up now."
A faint blush colored Harriet's cheeks but she giggled. "No, please, tell me how pretty I am. You're the only one who has noticed. I mean, aside from Ginny."
Harry's embarrassment was short lived as he suddenly found himself dealing with tea coming out his nose. "Ginny Weasley? No way."
Harriet laughed and nodded, blushing but enjoying the look on his face. "Yep! Apparently, there are all sorts of sayings about Quidditch playing girls. Ginny thought that just because I can handle a broom that I might be interested in her quaffle. You save her from a basilisk, and she reads a little too much into it."
Harry laughed himself hoarse at the thought, much to Harriet's amusement. "I actually dated her, you know. In my sixth year... I wonder if you're destined to do the same." He laughed again as she glared at him.
"Alright, so maybe not. Your earth shattering beauty aside, I was going to tell you my story. I'm guessing that pretty much everything is the same up to this year... First year, there's the stone and old snakeface in the back of Quirrel's head. Second year, there's a basilisk and a Weasley stalker. Third year, there's an innocent godfather, a dirty rat, and a hoard of Dementors. This year, there's the tournament. With me so far?"
She nodded and he pressed on. "Well, the tournament ends with snakeface coming back to life, and fifth year was spent with the Ministry trying to make me a villain. Sixth year, Dumbledore spent 'training' me, though it was fairly pointless. He managed to get himself cursed early on in the school year and eventually had Snape kill him at the end. Seventh year, was... well, it was war. I had to assemble some artifacts and destroy some others... actually, hang on a second." Harry stopped talking and started digging in his robes. The pockets were far deeper than they should have been and held any number of useful things.
"Here we go," he said as he pulled a distinctive length of wood from his pocket. "The Elder Wand. Go ahead and see how it likes you," he said, handing it over to his alternate self. If his theory was right, the wand would work for her and the rather insane idea that had occurred to him might just work.
Somewhat hesitantly, Harriet took the wand and gave it a swish. There were no sparks, but her teacup rose into the air and hovered steadily.
Harry smiled widely. "That wand is one of three artifacts that, when mastered by one person, allow for some amazing things to happen. Hang on for just a moment."
Rising, Harry stepped out of the tent and Apparated away. The work of fifteen minutes saw him pop back into the clearing. "I come bearing gifts," he said with a smirk. He tossed the ring to Harriet who caught it. She looked at it, puzzled, but he didn't offer an immediate explanation.
"Now, let me tell you some things that you probably don't know. First of all, you know that Dumbledore inflicted the Dursleys on you, but you probably don't know the real reason why. The story about blood protection is pretty much all made up. He did have a good reason for doing what he did... but it's far less pleasant than you might think. You see, when I was born, I had powerful accidental magic. Powerful as in several scales of magnitude greater than your average child. For my own safety, my parents used a number of binding spells to contain my magic. They were doing the right thing, but it's what happened a year after that that made things go bad."
"You see, when Voldemort tried to cast the killing curse on me, my magic instinctively responded. Whether or not it would have stood up to the killing curse is an interesting question... and I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that. However, Voldemort had performed most of the ritual to create a Horcrux, which is a kind of dark magic vessel that lets him put pieces of his soul into things so he can't really die, and that magic, along with the killing curse, interacted with the bindings on my magic and my magic itself. In the end, it resulted in a piece of Voldemort's soul being tied into the magical bindings, him dead, and me with a scar and too much fame."
"Have you started to have the dreams yet?" he asked and got a tentative nod in response. "Those are a result of the linkage with the soul fragment. He is also leaching off a considerable portion of your magical strength in order to survive. Now, Dumbledore figured a lot of this out when he saw me right after the incident and realized that I'd have to somehow break the bindings to stand a chance against Voldemort. Unfortunately, to do so would mean that the soul fragment would be released into me and could well result in Voldemort rising from the dead in my body. Thus, he had to come up with a plan. He reasoned that a sufficiently powerful will, one tempered by hardship and adversity, would be able to stand up against Voldemort's soul fragment and win out. Without knowing it, he also set up something else… but that's a discussion for another time."
"In the end, his plan had one fatal flaw. The bindings were growing stronger as Voldemort's soul fragment leeched more and more of our magic. Normally, they would have eroded and broken with time, but instead they got only stronger. By the time he figured it out, there was only one way to break the binds," he drew a nervous breath and silently reviewed his plan one more time.
"Do you trust me?" he asked, abruptly changing gears.
Harriet looked at him for a long moment and then tentatively nodded. Harry smiled, though he was inwardly cringing at what he was about to do. "That ring you hold is called the Resurrection Stone. It used to be a Horcrux, but I've gotten quite good at… desouling items. It helps that you and I can pretend to be Voldemort to most magical detectors because of our association with him. Put it on."
There was only the barest moment of hesitation as she did so, and Harry's eyes widened ever so slightly as she slipped it onto her ring finger. He pulled his father's invisibility cloak from one of his deep pockets and handed it to her. "Okay, now put that on."
As she did so, the low hum of power in the room rose to an almost crackling intensity.. The three items might not have been hers, but they certainly recognized her as their master, just as they would accept Harry. "Close your eyes," he said, using every bit of his considerable nerve to keep his voice calm and level.
Harriet swallowed nervously, but did as he directed her. He faltered for a second as he said a silent prayer that this was going to work. He sighed as he raised his wand and incanted "Avada Kedavra".
Harriet's lifeless body toppled backwards, resting amongst the cushions.
AN: Well, part of the inspiration from this story goes to SilverAegis and his story Harry Potter and the Girl Who Lived (this is definitely not a rewrite). When it was first released on CaerAzkaban, the title was 'Sides of the Coin', but I have a propensity for punk rock songs.
I do want to give a big thank you to all of the gang over on CaerAzkaban for pointing out typos in the raw text and giving me ideas. There are three more chapters written at this time and they will make their way here as I proof and correct them.
A warning in advance: This story does explore a fairly odd Harry/Harriet ship which means there are some aspects of ephebophilia and incest involved (though from a certain perspective, they're not).