Harry Potter and the World that Waits. Tentative
Summary: A shell shocked but triumphant Harry Potter decides to leave his world behind for another. Someone should have told him that AUs can be really, really different. HP/ X-Men crossover.
Special Thanks to CosmosGravitation, who helped me by betaing this and bouncing ideas off of. Great source for X-men info.
Note: This chapter and the second chapter were originally posted by another user without my permission. I assure anyone who may have seen the other work, that I am the original writer of this, as I hope you will be able to tell by reading the third chapter I've decided to post with the original two that had already been put up. I do apprecaite the user taking down my fic once I discovered it, it was a very responsible action on their part. Still, I see little point in saving these chapters as they have already been put up once.
Chapter One: Old Worlds
Nobody leaves this world alive.
Proof that, once again, wizards know better.
He should be given a medal. A big Order of Merlin First Class. Just for what he was currently having to endure. All that other stuff didn't matter. He should get a medal for sitting in this bloody-uncomfortable-ministry-issue-straight-backed-chair-from-hell. There simply wasn't a way to get comfortable in it. And he'd tried every way. He'd been shifting uncomfortably for the last three hours. Nothing worked. Voldemort really could have taken lessons from the Ministry of Magic. Give him the Cruciatus any day.
Harry rubbed his arms. He wished it had armrests at least. Still, he had to admit the auror robes were nice. He examined the material. Not wool, something softer. When Kingsley had tossed him this robe, Harry had put it on greedily. The warmth of the cloth felt almost sinful. He hadn't been warm in...almost a month. They said it had only been a month, less than a full month actually. Harry frowned, it had seemed longer. Lying in that damp cell had felt like years. Hogwarts had seemed so far away, like he was looking back on a memory from his childhood. But it had only been nineteen days.
Tearing himself away from unwanted thoughts, Harry focused on the real problem. He shifted his body again...maybe if he leaned back more? It was the way the chair's back didn't curve he decided, it just didn't line up with his spine. Sigh, it was no use.
Trying to distract himself, Harry examined his current cell. No, not cell Interrogation Room. The auror who had shuffled him into it had called it such,
"It's quiet in there you can have some privacy, maybe rest for a bit", the man had said somewhat kindly.
Rest. Ha. He'd gotten used to sleeping on stone floors, but this chair...never. Hmm, maybe the floor would be comfortable? No, he had longed for a chair for a month/ nineteen days/ forever, he wasn't gonna give it up now just because it was the worst chair in the world.
The walls were gray, but not stone, they were painted and they weren't wet. Much better.
Dudley had always loved crime dramas. Harry had often wondered if Dudley considered them training videos for later in life. Dudley would sit, his pudgy face next to the telly, and yell advice to the criminal. Hey don't say that he's bluffing. You idiot, they can't really toss you out the window. Harry, mid-cleaning, had paused a few times. He'd often wondered how the cops chose who got to be the good cop or the bad cop. Did wizards have its equivalent? Good auror, bad auror perhaps. Maybe they did, they had certainly copied the muggle interrogation room design. The only thing missing was that two-way mirror.
"Why's he just sitting there?" asked a burly auror with sandy hair. He turned to the man beside him with raised eyebrows. The two men had spent the last hour gazing through a special window into the next room. To them, it looked like any window but the other side was charmed to look and feel like a stone wall.
"What would you expect him to do?" was his partner's gruff reply.
"I don't know, throw a fit, fall asleep, ask for a lollipop? Anything really."
"He was held prisoner by You-know-who for almost a month. I don't think we'll be able to do anything to intimidate him." The older auror turned to his young partner with upraised eyes. The sandy haired man merely blinked.
"It's just creepy, you know." The burly auror shivered slightly which looked rather comical. His partner didn't laugh.
"Well, I think we should go talk to him, he's rested enough."
"Uhh, sure. The boy-who-lived... geez."
"Don't get star struck son," said the veteran auror firmly. The younger auror gulped and straightened his broad shoulders. Still, the older man couldn't blame him. These young people had grown up listening to the great legend of Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived. He was the closest thing to a hero their generation had ever known. Heck, the kid even impressed him. Still, it was a sad state of affairs when the world's hero had more kills tallied than most deatheaters.
Harry put his head down when the door opened, but his eyes looked up from the fringe of his messy hair and watched whoever was coming in. His eyes slid over the faces, he didn't know them. He'd been hoping he might be able to see Tonks or maybe Kingsley. He let his gaze settle on the younger man for a moment. He might know him, or maybe a brother or something. There was something about the big build that seemed familiar. The other auror was short and slim, he looked tiny next to other man. This smaller auror had neatly combed black hair, white streaking the temples and a slim nose. Harry subtly watched his eyes and noticed an intelligent, calculating quality to them. Harry had little doubt who would be in charge. After awhile, he'd grown used to gauging people. Knowing what to expect from them. The large blonde man was new; the older man was the one to watch out for.
Harry growled at himself in his head. You aren't a prisoner anymore. They aren't going to...They're the ministry, they can't very well inflict serious harm.
But Harry didn't trust the Ministry, hadn't since he'd learned Sirius wasn't given a trial. And he certainly wasn't going to trust it after the problems Fudge had caused. It was just like the Ministry to try locking him in Azkaban. So he decided that a little caution on his part wasn't terribly paranoid. It wasn't paranoia after all, not if they really were out to get you.
"Hello Mr. Potter, I'm Auror Cadwallader, this is Auror Proudfoot," introduced the larger man. Harry frowned softly.
"Cadwallader...do you have a brother in Hufflepuff?" asked Harry. The young auror paused, flicking an unreadable look to his partner.
"Uh, yes. Michael." Cadwallader was hesitant, which seemed odd to Harry, he'd expect the auror to know his own brother. They looked alike too.
"Chaser, right?" prodded Harry.
"Mr. Potter," interrupted Auror Proudfoot. "We were wondering if we could ask you a few questions about the circumstances under which you were found.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "Found?" He coughed slightly. "I wouldn't exactly call it being found...I mean I wasn't exactly lost was I?" Harry's gaze shifted from auror to auror, Cadwallader swallowed. They had indeed known where Harry Potter had been for the last month, knowing hadn't been the problem.
"Yes, well... when the Ministry stormed the Riddle house of Little Hangleton, Mr. Potter you were the only living person."
"Yes," Harry agreed. He waited.
"How did that come to be?" questioned the older auror. Harry looked down at his palms.
"That is a very long story," Harry said. His voice was low and the two wizards before him strained to hear. When his face lifted a wrinkle creased between his eyebrows, revealing a somewhat puzzled expression.
"I don't really know." Harry's statement seemed to echo throughout the small room. The two aurors turned to each other.
"You don't know? Mr Potter that excuse isn't going to fly. You were found in a home with over twenty bodies, and the Unspeakables are telling me that the...the fragments you were located with belong to You-Know-Who. Now, the Ministry needs– "
"Oh well, that was Voldemort," conceded Harry. Once again the two aurors shared a glance.
"Ah...good, now we're getting somewhere. Now, Mr. Potter what happened to...well, you know who."
"I killed him," replied Harry. The two adults gazed at the young wizard with shocked expressions. He was just a kid. It was the strangest thing in the world to have this young man calmly reveal that he had blasted a man to bits. Not just any man but the most powerful dark wizard for centuries, a man who caused Aurors to soil themselves on a regular basis. It was creepy, Proudfoot was starting to understand what Cadwallader had meant.
Eventually the older auror managed to grunt. He cleared his throat before asking another question.
"And, how did you manage to...eh. We have it well documented that your wand was snapped when you were captured nineteen days ago..." the question was left rather open. Neither auror seemed comfortable pressing the-boy-who-lived. Personally Proudfoot was of the mind that You-Know-Who deserved whatever he got. He wouldn't loose a wink of sleep if he let Harry Potter go right now. But his supervisor had wanted answers. Proudfoot was a ministry man, through and through.
Finally Harry spoke, his voice weary. "He just blew up, can't that be enough, boom, nothing bigger than a matchbox," Harry muttered in a distracted way. He lowered his head again, looking at his lap. The aurors exchanged glances which Harry didn't see. The boy looked deep in thought. The two men seemed to reach to the same conclusion at the same time. The sent each other commiserating looks. The poor lad must be feeling guilty. He'd killed a terrible dark wizard, worst in history, and the poor boy felt guilt for taking another man's life.
They couldn't have known that Harry wasn't feeling guilty or repentant, rather he was still considering his chair. What if he pulled his legs up and sat with knees folded? Nope. Had someone jinxed this chair on purpose?
The aurors had watched Harry frown, cross his legs, frown, then uncross them. They wisely stood up and slowly backed away.
"Um...could you excuse us for a moment Mr. Potter" Proudfoot managed to say without a stutter.
Harry nodded without looking up. The aurors, once again using slow steady movements, backed out of the room. The larger man even seemed to be attempting to tip-toe backwards, resulting in a sort of awkward ballerina-like prance. Harry raised an eyebrow. He'd known Moody was a few cards short of a full deck, and understandably so, but he hadn't imagined mental instability would be a requirement for all aurors. Oh well, maybe he'd make a good auror after all.
It didn't really matter. He liked what aurors stood for, but most of them seemed to get rather caught up in the rules. That was one thing Harry had a problem with. He'd even lied to those aurors...he could have told the truth. Nothing much mattered anymore.
Well almost nothing. He certainly had to do something about this chair.
Harry's eyes shifted around, he rubbed his fingers together nervously before raising his right hand. He lifted his palm into the air, looking around once again.
He didn't know if it would work. It had been so terribly hard the first time, like he'd been breaking down a stone wall with his fists. It had hurt, a terrible ripping feeling inside of him. It came from the same place inside that had ached while the Deatheaters had been having their fun. A place somewhere deep in his chest which had ripped out his arm, harpooning through muscle and sinew.
Oh well, pressing matters to attend to, Harry thought to himself. He had to try it again, what was a little more pain? Reaching this decision, Harry's hand slid through the air, a white sparkling wash of magic in its wake.
It had been different this time.
Harry couldn't avoid the small smile that crossed his lips. His first smile in a month. He sighed in relief and utter comfort. He leaned back, relishing the plush upholstery of his newly transfigured chair. He should have tried this hours ago. Harry closed his eyes. In the space of less-than-a-month his world had fallen down around him, he'd killed Voldemort, fulfilled his retched destiny, and somehow managed to master wandless magic.
And Harry didn't care. Just another abnormality to add. Really, all he wanted to do was sleep. With a comfortable sigh, Harry Potter let himself slip into the peaceful, hazy world where grief, pain, fear and loneliness could not reach him.
"He says he DOESN'T KNOW! He must KNOW!" Commander Pennet's voice fluctuated between growls and yelling as he glared at the two aurors before him. They lowered their heads and offered no explanation. Pennet began pacing his office, stopping every once and awhile to glare at the men before him. They weren't supposed to fail him like this. He had hand picked them. Hand picked!
True, they weren't the best aurors at his disposal. Proudfoot wasn't bad. A professional. But their skill hadn't been important, he knew he could trust them. You see, Pennet wasn't stupid. He might work for stupid politicians who couldn't tell their wands from their arses, but he knew better. Boy, did he know better! He knew that Dumbledore had some secret group involved in fighting this war. He didn't like it, but he knew it. Civilians shouldn't get involved with auror business, but what could he do? They'd pop up and lend a hand, and if it saved a few of his men he wasn't about to cause a stink. But that didn't mean that he trusted them. Secret groups like that tended to like to keep stuff, well...secret. Pennet didn't like secrets. Made everything messy. Better to be up front. He was a lawman, and in his opinion secrets fostered lies, and only criminals lied.
Thus, he couldn't let someone from that secret group interog, cough, interview, Harry Potter. He needed to get the full story. If he'd had his way, it would have been himself doing the interviewing. But the department was still in shambles. Only a few hours ago, the wards protecting the Dark Lord's headquarters had gone down with a hissing shriek, sounding an excited alarm within the Department of Law Enforcement. Seeing their chance to rescue poor Harry, if the boy was still in one piece, they had stormed in. What they had found had surprised everyone.
The aurors had been armed to the teeth, ready for the merciless opposition expected of deatheaters. Yet when they had entered the dark, and even Pennet would admit, spooky mansion, they were met with no resistance. Indeed the first people they had found were dead. The further into the house they went, the more bodies they discovered. No one was alive. The people, some dressed in full deatheater garb and some still in their everyday robes, had seemingly dropped dead without warning. One poor fellow had been using the loo, just slid off the toilet, a copy of Frisky Young Witches still in hand. It wasn't until they reached the magically converted basement that they saw any signs of violence. What might have once been an ordinary muggle cellar was now a dungeon that might have made the Spanish Inquisition envious. Rows and rows of dank rooms lined a hallway that seemed to stretch on for miles. Yet a door nearby had caught the aurors' attention. It hung limply on its hinges, as if some great force had blasted it open.
The red stains were also distracting.
Pennet had seen more than a few grisly sights in his time. But nothing had frozen his breath like that had. The blood spread out in great arching splashes, unrecognizable thicker bits floated like islands in a red sea. The walls gleamed with an odd sort of shine, nearing them he realized the rough stone had been melted smooth. But nothing in the room was destroyed. Any object in the room had merely been shoved back into the wall, as if directed by an incredible force. The only thing in the center of the room was one thin figure standing upright, observing it all with a dazed, almost surprised look on his face.
Kingsley Shaklebolt had run forward, that man's reflexes had always been quick. A young auror, Tonks was her name, had darted after him. Kingsley had already removed his own robe and was draping it around the young man's shoulders. The boy-who-lived looked up startled, as if just realizing that he was now sharing a room with a contingent of aurors. He clutched at the robes that Kingsley had wrapped around his thin frame. Indeed, the boy was terribly thin. He looked like a living skeleton amid this room, this house of death.
Pennet finally composed himself and his eyes narrowed when he say Kingsley and Tonks begin whispering to Harry Potter. He had suspected them as part to Dumbledore's group. He strode forward, expertly ignoring the squelch his boots made as they walked through the blood.
"Harry, are you okay?" he heard Tonk's murmur.
"I'll take it from here," stated Pennet firmly. Tonks had raised her head and glanced at him mutinously.
Kingsley subtly nudged her arm before responding, "Yes sir." Pennet had grabbed the boy by the shoulder, Harry had followed without resistance. Beckoning to two more trustworthy aurors, he thrust a portkey into one's hand.
"Get him back to the department, I'll have some questions for him."
But the questions had been pointless apparently. What was that muggle saying? If you want something done right you have to do it yourself? They had a point. Pennet bunched up his sleeves as he continued pacing. He'd get some answers out of the boy. Cadwallader and Proudfoot were obviously too enamored with the boy's fame to pressure him. Yes, he'd get his answers! This wasn't going to be some mysterious, unexplained event like You-Know-Who's defeat in 1981. This was gonna be crisp and clean, and it would save them all from having to bother with this nonsense again.
"Commander, has any information come back on why all those other wizards died?" asked Proudfoot.
"No, they haven't found anything."
"Do you reckon he might have killed them with his bare hands?" suggested Cadwallader. The large man had tilted his head in thought.
"I've heard it on good authority that he received physical training. Supposedly he's pretty good at it. Well coordinated." Proudfoot added.
"Not surprising he'd be good. Not if you ever seen him play Quidditch. Good spatial awareness." Cadwallader's voice irritated Pennet. That hero worship was what made this job harder.
"I have heard he's had some defensive training. Dumbledore provided some at Hogwarts. But I doubt anyone, and especially not a starved sixteen-year-old boy, could take on the Dark Lord's army without a wand." Pennet glared back at the two aurors who quickly looked down at their feet.
"Still, sir, it would all be self-defense wouldn't it..." Cadwallader started to argue.
Pennet's door burst open.
"Com-mmander," stammered a frazzled young recruit "There...there are more bodies turning up. Two over in the Wizemgot offices, Diagon Alley has a bushel it sounds like."
Pennet rolled his eyes.
"Send a squad to Diagon Alley; I'll take a couple men to the Wizemgot. Merlin knows the politicians are having conniptions. Contact me if we get any more calls." Pennet shook his head as he hastily assigned aurors to squads.
Harry Potter was just gonna have to wait.
Tonks had been assigned to a squad she had never worked with before. It wasn't that unusual these days. The Ministry had been recruiting almost anyone. Before things had gotten so hectic, she had gotten herself assigned to work with Kingsley. It was easier that way for one of them to slip off and do any Order business that might be needed. But today everything was far from normal she'd been hastily assigned on body-duty with a group of other younger aurors.
Still, even in these new squads it wasn't difficult to slip away. Her squad had been a group of men, and in her opinion all of them as alike as toy soldiers. They were tough, protective, and not terribly bright. Probably signed on to be an auror because they looked good in uniform. It had only taken a few tears and a fake fainting spell for her to convince them that she was a silly female who had been traumatized by the today's grisly sight. At first they had attempted, rather awkwardly, to comfort her but had quickly sprinted away in relief when she confessed that she needed to be alone. Apparently tracking down dead deatheaters was easier than dealing with a distraught witch. Tonks couldn't help grinning. Maybe the hat was right, she might have done well in Slytherin.
She kept her eyes open and her pace steady as she walked towards the interrogation rooms. She felt horrible that this had been her first chance to get away. Harry had been in there for over three hours. She pushed aside the guilt and concentrated on finding where he was kept. It had to be in one of the rooms in this corridor. She spotted only one closed door. Tonk's rolled her eyes. They were making this too easy.
She tapped her wand against the door and released a sigh of relief when it opened. Pennet had been terribly watchful lately, it wouldn't have surprised her if he had restricted access.
She entered the room quietly, finding Harry asleep in a large overstuffed chair. At least they gave him something nice to sit on she thought happily. She kneeled before him. He looked so exhausted. She hated to wake him.
"Harry," she had only whispered his name when he jerked awake. He seemed to relax upon seeing her.
"Lo Tonks. What you doing here?" He yawned.
"I came to check on you. How are you? Do you need anything? Water? Food? Just let me know. I'm sure Dumbledore will be here soon to straighten it all out." Tonks let her eyes rove over Harry's thin form. Someone must have provided him with clean clothes as there were no blood stains on the white shirt and draw-string trousers that he was wearing under Kingsley's robe.
"Dumbledore, why's he coming?" Harry looked up at her, a dazed look in his eyes. Tonk's didn't like what she was seeing. Harry's normally vivid eyes seemed somehow dull. The boy yawned again and leaned back into the chair. Tonks's bit her lip. Something was wrong. Oh Harry, what have those monsters done to you?
"Of course he's coming. We're not going to leave you here."
Harry shrugged at her words."Here isn't bad. The chair's nice now, here is fine," he claimed.
Tonks was becoming more and more alarmed, "Harry, you're in an interrogation cell. You're aware of that right?"
Harry eyed her for a moment, "I know."
"Doesn't that bother you? Harry, you stopped Voldemort, they should be giving you a parade and instead you're locked in a little gray room. Doesn't that seem off to you?"
Harry shrugged again, he looked away from Tonks. His empty, green eyes staring into space.
"It doesn't matter."
Tonks gripped his shoulders firmly, "What do you mean it doesn't matter...?" Harry's eyes slipped past her again.
"It really doesn't matt--"
Tonks didn't let him finish. Her words cut through his casual dismissal, "Now look here Harry Potter, don't tell me it doesn't matter! Tell me what's happening here, why are you acting like this?" Her eyes narrowed as she surveyed him.
Harry merely shrugged again, his eyelids weak as if he was slipping back into sleep. Tonks felt more concern tug at her. Had Harry been cursed? Was he more hurt than they had noticed? Surely the medi-wizards from earlier had scanned him for anything serious. They'd healed his broken arm...surely they must have checked for curses. A soft voice interrupted her oddly maternal panic.
"Tonks...Tonks I'm done. I did my bit. I did what I was supposed to. And it cost. I always knew it would. Ever since I first heard those words. It just cost more than I thought it would. Sirius, Cedric, all those students. My Mom and Dad. Remus. How many others?" Tonks cringed. There had been others. The nineteen days he had spent with Voldemort had been some of the bloodiest she had ever known. Harry noticed her expression and nodded.
"I've seen so many things, he showed me so many things, I don't know what to believe. Which ones were lies and what was true. Is Hogwarts still standing?"
Tonks looked up to tell him, but Harry shook his head and began speaking again.
"It doesn't really matter. It feels dead to me. I'm done. Now, I don't regret what I did. But I don't...I'm tired. I just want to be somewhere quiet. Right now, this is just fine. Tell Dumbledore the Ministry can do what it wants with me. It's done. You won't have to worry anymore." Harry closed his eyes when he finished speaking. Tonks couldn't ignore the ache in her chest. She drew her hands close to try and drive away the chill Harry's words had put in her heart. Was that really all he thought, that he was just a used weapon? She could see he did. He was lost in that dark world and there was nothing for him to grab onto.
She wished she could be the thing that held him. That she could reach out her hand and be the comfort he needed. But she wasn't. The truth was Tonks didn't really know Harry. She'd helped rescue him from his dreadful relatives once. She amused him by changing her nose over the dinner table. But Harry had never turned to her for anything, and he never would. Harry had been 'grown-up' by the time she had met him. He'd seen death before she met him. He'd faced his own death, alone, before she met him. No, it had been too late for Harry Potter to think he could turn to her.
It was moments like this that she wished her prank pulling cousin hadn't slipped away. Sirius could have helped Harry. He'd shown up in Harry's life, a little late perhaps, but still soon enough to have gotten inside that thick skin Harry now wore. Sirius would have said the right thing. He could have given Harry the hope the young man desperately needed. She could remember the way Harry's face lit up when Sirius was around.
Tonks took a breath. She hated the rules. As a result she'd been lectured to many times over her life. Rules were supposed to be important. They kept you from doing things that landed you in even more trouble. But sometimes rules caused trouble. Bureaucracy and little silly inane rules could hurt people. Leaving them huddled in large armchairs, looking at a life which seemed more than unfair.
A rule kept Harry uninformed and lost. Sirius Black's favorite phrase had been, 'rules were made to be broken'. Consequences would come.
"Harry," she said his name and it was as if he didn't even hear her. "Harry," her voice was louder. The young wizard shifted his gaze. "Harry, Sirius isn't dead. He's alive."
"What!?" The sharp timbre of Harry's voice ricocheted off the walls. Tonks flinched. Harry's eyes were now wide open a raging green so bright it made her blink.
"I...I, he's alive somewhere. Harry, he slipped through the veil."
Tonks hesitated. For a moment her resolve to be like Sirius, be reckless, seemed to suffer a shot of common sense. True, she could lose her job. And, it wasn't even really her secret to share. A friend from the Department of Mysteries had confided this to her. How many other consequences loomed. Perhaps a little more thought was needed. Still, Tonks watched Harry's hungry eyes and couldn't stop what she had started. She had to give him this hope, maybe if she pulled him out of this haze now she could save him. Give him the drive to leave this self imposed imprisonment.
"After Sirius fell through the veil, the Unspeakables did more research into it. See, the veil has always given off a cold magical signature. Very similar to the brief snap of magic after a wizard dies. But it isn't death Harry. It's subtly different."
"So..." Harry rubbed his temple trying to figure out what Tonks was saying. If it wasn't death, what was it?
"It's a gateway to other worlds Harry. Alternate dimensions. A passageway. Imagine. Sirius is alive somewhere. A world like ours but different. Maybe he's really happy, playing pranks with your dad. Not dead, not gone. Still living his life, just somewhere else." Tonks watched as the information sunk in. Harry's lips quirked into somewhat of a smile.
"So, he's okay...can they bring him back?" Harry's voice was starting to sound more like him, and Tonks gulped afraid to tell him the truth. But she wouldn't lie.
"No, my friend who told me this, he said that there are an infinite number of worlds. He could be anywhere, they wouldn't know where to look." Tonks waited for Harry's reaction.
Harry shoulders had sagged slightly, but his eyes still flickered with life. "But he's alive." Tonks couldn't avoid the bright grin on her face.
"Yep, he's alive. Probably still causing trouble."
"That's nice to know." Harry nodded. His eyes grew far off again, but they weren't dead, they weren't as lost. Tonks felt her heart beat happily, the joy of knowing she might have helped Harry made her want leap into the air.
And, she did leap, but in surprise not joy.
The interrogation door swung open. Two aurors that Tonks knew shuffled in. The stopped when they spotted her.
"Auror Tonks what are you doing here?" asked the older man, Proudfoot was his name Tonks remembered.
Tonks attempted to smile charmingly. She had the feeling it didn't turn out well.
"Ummm..." she stuttered. Matthew Cadwallader was fighting a grin. Tonks had been a year behind him in Hogwarts.
"Were you assigned to this case?" demanded Proudfoot.
"Not exactly," conceded Tonks.
"This is a violation of your orders Auror Tonks, and you are in an unauthorized area. Who is your supervisor?" Proudfoot didn't really seem mad, just annoyed.
"Kinglsey Shaklebolt," she replied, faking a dour expression.
"Well come on," Proudfoot indicated the door.
"Bye Harry," she said as she passed him.
"Bye Tonks, sorry about this." Tonks turned around and sent him a glare when she noticed the playful smile on his face.
"You think this is funny, wait till you're an Auror."
"Auror Tonks," barked Proudfoot. Tonks rolled her eyes. Making her shoulders more erect she left the room, Proudfoot right behind her.
The older Auror quickly matched her pace. "What do you think you were doing, Pennet's already in a strop about this nonsense."
"Oh, Pennet can go suck a duck."
"Suck a— what?" Proudfoot looked at her with confused and incredulous eyes. She didn't explain and the man coughed trying to hide what could only be called a giggle.
"Come on Proudfoot, you can't think Harry should be locked up in there. He should be at St. Mungos. The kid was held by Voldemort for a month!" Tonks didn't bother lowering her voice as they returned to the main area of the Department of Law Enforcement. Proudfoot had flinched at the name but otherwise remained calm. He lifted a hand to his forehead, running his fingers through the white hair at his temples.
"I know, it's bad business Tonks. Forget Mungos I was expecting we'd be calling the undertaker. You know we all were. Stay for a night, Stay for life." Tonks felt a shiver run down her spine as Proudfoot repeated the little rhyme that had been created during the first Dark War. It had been created by the aurors to describe someone's chances if they were captured by the Dark Lord and his followers. If you escaped in the first few hours, you stood a chance. If you were gone for a day, they'd be lucky to find a body.
The eerie little rhyme had been humming in Tonks's head ever since Harry was taken. Both the Order and the Ministry had done all they could to reclaim him, but it had been impossible to send anyone into Little Hangleton. The four attempts had been horrific failures. Not long after Sirius had died, Voldemort had come out into the open. Reclaiming many of his former allies. He'd also established a kingdom of sorts. The desolate Riddle house had become his base, his influence and control spilling out around it, infecting the area like a plague. No one seemed prepared to go near it.
The Order had rallied together for a few desperate attempts at rescue. Remus Lupin, the last of the marauders had been one such attempt. Dumbledore had tried to talk him out of it, but the stubborn werewolf acted on his own. He'd gotten the closest of all of them, but was still captured and killed before he could enter the house itself.
Tonks sighed. She hoped that the knowledge that Sirius Black was alive would be enough to counterbalance all the misery Harry had known in this world.
"Shaklebolt," Proudfoot called. The dark skinned auror raised his head and nodded to the other man. "Caught Auror Tonks trying to get Harry Potter's autograph," teased Proudfoot.
Tonks opened her mouth in a wide O. "I was no--" Kingsley shot her a warning glare. She frowned and snorted in annoyance. "Fine."
Proudfoot turned and left with a backwards wave, chuckling to himself as he went. Kingsley raised his eyebrows at the young auror. Tonks tried to lean against the cubicles in a casual way.
Kingsley looked down before stepping closer to the witch, his voice was a low murmur, "Tonks, we're on thin ice as it is. Best not give Pennet a reason to sack you." The older auror's tone made Tonks squirm.
She sighed and leaned her head back. "I won't, I just feel terrible knowing Harry is being treated like a prisoner. Why isn't Dumbledore here yet?" Tonks ran hand through her hair, currently spiky black, before turning to Kingsley who was frowning.
"I'm not certain. I imagine he's doing what everyone is trying to do, figure out how to proceed from here. Deatheaters all over England and Europe dropped dead. Voldemort is gone. All in just a few hours time. It's quite a change from the downward spiral we were dealing with yesterday. Harry's safe for the moment, and the conditions, while not ideal, are better than he has endured for the last month. Let's just sit tight and see how the wind changes."
Tonks bit her lip. Kingsley was being sensible. He was probably right too. But it wasn't what she wanted to hear at the moment.
Cadwallader entered the room smiling. He had prevented himself from laughing in Tonks's face, she could be a vindictive witch when she wanted to be. He could still recall a terrible prank she had pulled in her first year on Wallaby Winters after he had teased her about her real first name. No doubt the genes she had inherited from the Black family were hard at work in her. But, after Proudfoot had lead her out, Cadwallader had shut the door and given in to the little chuckle that had been threatening to come out.
"That's not particularly nice," Harry commented. The boy seemed more 'normal' at the moment and it put Cadwallader at ease.
"Oh it's all in fun. Still I appreciate if you wouldn't mention it to her." Cadwallader stood before his own chair, looking across at Harry. He noticed that the official Ministry chair had been transfigured into a very comfortable plush recliner. Tonks's doing he reckoned. She was very nice deep down; trust her to think of Harry Potter's comfort.
"Like it?" Harry asked noticing the auror's gaze.
"Nice bit of transfiguration. Never my area truth be told, always better at Defense. I think I drove McGonagall spar. Course Tonks was...Ravenclaw? I think, bound to be better. Looks comfy." Cadwallader went to sit in his own uncomfortable chair only to sink into the softness of an identical plush recliner. His eyes jerked open, examining the chair he was sitting in. It had been of the standard issue only a moment ago...how?
"It will be nice to take a nap in," stated Harry in a friendly way.
"What?" Cadwallader's head swivelled around confused. Yet his eyes did begin to grow heavy. An oddly unaccountable urge to sleep was swiftly overwhelming him. He knew the effects of a sleeping spell well. But...How? Cadwallader's last thought before drifting into sleep was– but he didn't have a wand...
Harry rose to his feet, noting that the auror seemed to be snoring softly. The young wizard smiled and decided to complete the picture by conjuring a blanket to cover him with. He marveled at how easily the magic came. It felt like it was bouncing around in his skin. He hadn't even needed to utter the spells, and he had never been an expert at silent magic.
Whatever had happened to him while in Voldemort's clutches had certainly paid off. Leaving the auror behind, Harry quickly and quietly left his Ministry cell behind. Leaving the room he whispered a spell and the uncomfortable trickle of having a cold egg broken on your skull seeped down his hair. None of the aurors, busy at work, even noticed a disillusioned sixteen year old wizard move past them, enter the lift, and no one noticed that the lift left level two and traveled to level nine, which housed only one department. The Department of Mysteries.
For being a Department of Mysteries, Harry Potter knew it rather well. Much better than any young wizard was supposed to know it. He entered almost on auto-pilot, waiting politely as the room spun. Choosing a door at random before shutting it, letting the room spin again, choosing a door and shutting it, spin, choose, spin. Harry was of a mind that this was a rather silly way to guard a room, hadn't the wizarding world ever heard of laser beams or acid pits which would open to swallow people alive. Toxic gas? Harry decided that a great deal could be learned from watching movies, and that perhaps the wizarding world should rent some. He'd have suggested it, but he didn't currently have the time and really it was their own fault for being a tad backwards.
Finally Harry found the door he was looking for. A raised dais stood before him, a somewhat insignificant veil rustling in wind that didn't exist. He stepped inside and the door slid closed behind him. He paused for a moment, listening to an odd bunch of whispering voices. He took a few steps upward, wondering about the odd noise. When Sirius had first disappeared, Luna had comforted him by saying that the voices were those of people who had passed on, died. And he had been comforted, he should have known not to have believed Luna, she had also advised him about nargles after all. So, what were these voices? Were they the people from another world, their words echoing into his?
Harry paused watching the seemingly weightless fabric. What Tonks had said sounded pretty good. A different world, one that didn't hold the painful memories this one did. A place where his parents may still be alive, his friends... But that didn't matter, not really. Harry was ready to shed this world like an old winter coat. Over the last year, the last month, he'd let go of so many things.
They say that when you are tortured you can break. Harry had always heard that word bandied about in Dudley's war movies. In an odd way, in the first hours locked in the dark, he'd begun to feel like one of those characters and he began wondering when he was going to break. But people aren't made of china. There were many little moments that took pieces from him. It wasn't breaking, it was losing bit by bit. His resolve was being eaten away. At first he'd wanted to escape to see his few remaining friends again, apologize to them for this terrible year. Then as time went on he let that drop away. It hurt too much to know he was failing them. For a short while he'd hung on because the prophecy had to be fulfilled and he didn't want to leave the world in Voldemort hands. Then for awhile he had wanted to live just for himself, because he wasn't ready to die yet. But after another painful evening he'd even tossed that way. This world had been ripped from him, every little bit. He had no desire to be lifted on shoulders and paraded about like a champion. Maybe in some sick way this leap was just another form of suicide, because either way, Harry was done with this world. He wanted peace and anonymity. He'd never get that here.
Still, he stood at the edge for a moment. Perhaps his old nightmares still haunted him, this veil had been symbolic for so long.
Harry Potter took a step.
"He's Gone!" Auror Proudfoot yelled to the Auror Office. Those Aurors still there, and not collecting fallen deatheaters, turned to look upon him with expressions of confusion. Auror Proudfoot, usually rather collected, seemed downright flustered.
"Who's gone?" asked one balding man, his head popping out from his cubical as if he were a mole peering from his hole.
"Harry Potter!" Proudfoot yelled again. This garnered more attention as every Auror now jumped to their feet, surrounding poor Auror Proudfoot who was far from calm at the moment.
"How'd he get out?!"
"He can't have, are you sure you went in the right room!"
"Who might have taken him now?"
"He didn't have a wand!"
These statements were all shouted at the same time. Auror Proudfoot wasn't quite sure who to answer first. So, he shouted back even louder, explaining the napping Cadwallader, who he hadn't been able to rouse, and the empty room. Soon the other aurors turned and followed Proudfoot back to the interrogation room to see for themselves. Leaving only two aurors behind, each exchanging glances.
"Dumbledore will have to know about this. You don't think he escaped do you...I don't see how he could have..." Kingsley turned to the smaller witch. His chocolate eyes were tired and he rubbed his forehead, what else could go wrong now?
Tonks shook her head in a dazed manner. "No, he seemed fine. Said he wasn't even upset about staying in the interrogation room," Tonks suddenly blanched. "He wouldn't," she whispered.
"Tonks!" Kingsley called in alarm as the woman jumped to her feet and ran from the room.
"I just have to check something," she called over her shoulder before leaving a stunned Shaklebolt behind.
Tonks raced to the lift, pushing the number nine button a total of five times. She drummed her fingers against her thigh impatiently. He wouldn't. No, he wouldn't. It didn't even bear checking really. Harry would never do something so reckless. Still...
Tonks jerked from her thoughts when the lift door opened. She felt somewhat startled to see the empty stone corridor, a dark door staring at her. She fumbled with the knob a little guilty. Really she wasn't supposed to be here, and had only ventured past this door once in her life. When Sirius fell. She'd been a little preoccupied at the time, and hadn't had time to pay attention to the little details. Dumbledore had lead the charge after all; the Hogwarts headmaster seemed surprisingly well informed about this particular department.
Still, there was no time loose. With quick steps she hurried down a corridor which opened into a round room. She opened a door hesitantly, closing it when it didn't yield what she wanted. Tonks closed her eyes in frustration as the room spun.
A voice intruded as she cursed under her breath, "About time someone showed up, I paged you aurors five minutes ago. I understand it's a little hectic but protocol...oh hello Tonks."
The young metamorphamagi spun around. "Max? What are you doing sounding so priggish?"
The equally young unspeakable shrugged embarrassedly. "Got left in charge with all the madness going on. Everyone got called out to investigate that Riddle house. Is it true what they are saying?" Tonks nodded her head distractedly.
"Look Maxy old boy, I need to get to the veil room." Tonks said quickly.
Maxwell Tallow rolled his eyes at her nickname. "Does this have anything to do with the warning I sounded out," he speculated. Tonks wanted to grind her teeth. Just like a bloody Ravenclaw, couldn't just point out the way, had to figure things out first. Max was a year ahead of her in Hogwarts and they'd remained friends as both now worked for the Ministry.
"Maxy, just point out the door," growled Tonks.
The dark-haired man shook his head. "Fine, I don't even think I want to know. That one," Max lifted his hand, pointing to a door on her left as he shook his head.
Tonks seized the door roughly, taking a deep breath as she peered inside.
The room was empty.
Tonks grabbed her forehead nervously. He couldn't have.
Max stood behind her, looking in and seeing nothing amiss. "This did have something to do with the intruder a minute ago. The alarms went off but I couldn't see anyone. Tonks...what happened?"
Tonks wasn't paying much attention as she slumped to the floor. Staring vacantly at the veil, tears slipping from he eyes, she told her good friend Max everything that had happened.
Harry Potter was flung forward at an alarming rate. His glasses fell from his face as he landed on his knees. His hands rested firmly on the ground supporting him from being stomach-down on a rather dirty floor. Harry fumbled for his glasses, cringing as he slid aside Merlin only knew what, before managing to snag them and put them back on his face, shakily standing up. Thankfully they didn't seem broken, just bent. He looked around him and was very confused. Had he been thinking a little more clearly he might have expected this confusion. After all, he had just slid sideways through time, arriving in a completely different dimension. But then, a level-headed person likely wouldn't have made this unorthodox trip. Somewhere in Harry's rather jumbled mind he had imagined stepping into the veil and stepping out through another. Perhaps giving some bookish unspeakable a shock. He hadn't expected to land where he had.
Harry looked down. Harry looked up. He was in a tube station.
Indeed, Harry Potter was standing on the tracks of a rather busy looking tube station, muggles moved about a little above him. He watched them for a moment, seeing business men in suits yelling into cell phones, Tourists snapping cameras, and a few hassled mothers alternating between fumbling with groceries and yelling at their children. Everyone was so busy it took them all awhile to notice the teenager in a somewhat dirty blue robe who was peering up at them from bent eyeglasses. The first people who noticed him could only stare for a moment, their faces twisted in an expression of confusion. The only one more confused was the teenager on the tracks.
"OH!" One of the mothers said, being the first to snap out of the surprise. "Help, someone has fallen on the tracks!" The woman yelled. Other people who had been reading newspapers, waiting for their own trains, came to watch. One rather industrious man had picked up an emergency phone and was rapidly talking to someone. Harry himself wasn't nearly as concerned as the people on station seemed to be. There was bound to be a ladder or something nearby. In the meantime he dusted himself off a bit. He only became concerned when a loud yell ripped through the air. Harry looked up suddenly.
"The train's coming!" The same woman yelled. She seemed to be having a great time narrating the event. Harry looked and indeed there was a light streaming toward him from the darkness of the tunnel.
Harry snapped out of whatever shock had been latching onto him. He frantically looked for a ladder. There had to be one.
"Come on lad," some of the men on platform shouted to him. The men reached out their arms in his direction, but Harry had never been particularly tall. His eyes barely skimmed the edge of the platform. He'd never manage to pull himself up, not after the month he'd had, Voldemort was not a caring captor. He looked again for the ladder. He turned his head and the light seemed to be incredibly closer, now accompanied by a loud rushing noise. Harry cursed under his breath. Abandoning his idea of finding a ladder, Harry grasped the hand of a rather large blonde man. The man was leaning forward in an effort to grasp Harry's hand. The man tugged, Harry maneuvered his feet to scale the side.
This all would have worked quite well, except that not everyone had noticed that there was a person about to be flattened under the rails. A large group of elderly tourists, intent of visiting Westminister, had just realized that they were on the wrong platform. They hurried past. One old man, not really looking where he was going, absently banged Harry's helper with a cane. The blonde man, already leaning forward, his feet on the edge, was startled by the sudden rap on the head. Harry's position, ideal for climbing out, was not ideal for a man who suddenly found himself falling forward. Both Harry and the blonde man landed in a tangle about a foot from the tracks.
"Christ," the blonde man said. Harry didn't need to turn to know the train was barreling down upon them. The rails were trembling behind him, making the ground beneath his feet shake. The two men glanced at each other for a moment, the blonde man obviously certain that they were both done for.
"Statute of secrecy be damned," Harry declared quietly. Grabbing the blonde man around the waist, Harry wandlessly cast a levitation charm. He absently kicked off with his feet, speeding up the direction of the spell slightly. With the levitating charm doing all the work, Harry and his attempted rescuer easily leaped the six feet to safety.
Harry stood wearily. The blonde man had not even attempted to stand, choosing to drop bonelessly to his knees.
"Thank you God," the man babbled in relief.
The man's quiet prayer and the train rushing by were the only sound heard in the tube station for a moment. But then with the train gone the man had stopped thanking God for his survival and turned to view the boy who had miraculously "leaped" them both to safety. Eyes were wide, mouths open. Harry thought he caught looks of fear in some eyes. He was really too tired to deal with all this. Would the Ministry arrive soon to wipe memories and put things to right?
Then a voice erupted, making the previously silent tube station recoil.