"I don't know," Harry said trying to clear his mind.
It had seemed so simple when Dumbledore coached him through the day—showing him exactly what he needed to do in order to keep himself safe. It was just as Harry had wanted the whole previous year when Umbridge had terrorized the students and staff of Hogwarts. But sitting there, listening to the old man tell him exactly what words to use with Scrimgeour Harry began to wonder what James would have told him to do. James was had not told him what to do. It seemed that James found it a personal affront just to speak to him. The things that James said to Dumbledore seemed very insightful. Like that occulmency would be no help against Scrimgeour.
Scrimgeour raised an eyebrow, after Harry didn't elaborate on his statement. He took off his glasses and laid them slowly on the desk, then picked up a pen and began scribbling out across of torn piece of parchment.
"Sir," James began. Scrimgeour simply held up a finger to him before folding the parchment into a parchment airplane and gently laying his wand on the nose of the plane. Harry carefully kept the awe from his face as the light touch brought the plane into the air as Scrimgeour lifted his wand and then with a flick, set it flying out through the doorway.
"Twelve people are dead." Scrimgeour said once the parchment had flown out into the main room. He put his glasses back on and wrapped his left hand around his right fist with his elbows resting on the desk. "What do you know?"
"I'm afraid, sir." Harry replied honestly with a slight flutter to his voice. At the end of it, Dumbledore had said to improvise if none of the coaching applied. Harry really was following Dumbledore's orders, even if James' advice seemed to apply better.
Scrimgeour's thin smile opened a bit.
"What if they come after me?" Harry asked worrying his hands and looking between James and Scrimgeour nervously.
"Now, son," Scrimgeour immediately jumped on the show of weakness. "We won't let anything happen to you. Between your father and the Aurors here, no one is going to harm you."
"I can't have Aurors following me around all the time," Harry hesitated, briefly regretting the tactic he'd taken. "What about school?"
"Dumbledore may be a pain to deal with but he's a more than competent wizard and Hogwarts itself has enough built in protections for the students." Scrimgeour replied offhandedly.
Harry worked very hard to keep his face straight and not to scowl at the head of the auror department. Hermione had regaled him enough times that Harry knew all about Hogwarts' various wards and protections, but as a student that knew how to get around almost all of them they weren't the reason Harry felt safe in the school. He was hardly going to explain any of that to Scrimgeour though.
"Have you had him examined?" Scrimgeour asked finally giving James a chance to speak.
"He's malnourished," James reported.
Harry tried not to wrinkle his nose at the man's choice of things to report. Any information given to Scrimgeour would be a lead in the investigation. While Harry personally did not like to think of himself as malnourished, it did not strike Harry that malnutrition would be particularly helpful in actually finding out what had happened. Wouldn't James want the aurors actually helping to figure out why his son was dead?
"He was almost completely drained of all his magical stores,"
Scrimgeour nodded very slowly and then held up his hand again as he scribbled across the scrap of parchment before sending it out the door again. Once he was done he reached down to open a drawer in his desk and pulled out a blue piece of parchment. He took his time filling it out, even when a younger auror, only a few years out of school with a nervous habit of constantly swallowing, appeared at the door. Finally Scrimgeour elaborately signed the bottom and handed it to the junior auror. The mousey looking young man hurried from the room as quickly as he could while still appearing to walk.
James let out a long annoyed sigh and gave Scrimgeour a bored look however Scrimgeour's lack of attention to the insubordination seemed to only irritate James more.
"As Potter's son I'm sure that you are well aware that what the consequences having lied to me will have. I see no reason to impress them additionally upon you." The man's yellow eyes narrowed down on Harry causing him to unconsciously clutch his wand. "There is nothing of any of the encounter that you remember?"
"I don't even remember seeing my father at the train station," Harry replied giving his voice a little shake and hoping that it was attributed to trauma and not to how nervous he felt. "I saw him for the first time at my aunt's and I can't even remember all of that clearly. I wish I remembered more. I wish I could help."
Scrimgeour seemed to forgo any response in preference of opening a slim container sitting on top of his desk and pulling out a gray colored piece of parchment.
"Sir, that's—" James started only to be silenced with the twitch of his superior's lip.
Similar to the previous form, it took Scrimgeour a while to fill it out and James began to fidget in his seat much to the annoyance of Harry. It seemed the man was incapable of sitting in silence for more than several minutes and Harry wondered how anyone could make it this far into their life without that essential skill.
When the head of the auror department finished with his quill, he set it down on the desk and carefully pulled the gray piece of parchment apart so that it became apparent to Harry that it was actually two thin pieces pressed together. The black piece was folded into a plane and sent flying out into the main room. The white piece he pushed forward to Harry.
"This is to be taken to Wyatt Louthen," Scrimgeour explained to Harry leaving the boy slightly confused. "Today." He finished harshly turning back to the paper work neatly stacked on his desk.
James stood up immediately and gave Harry a mildly impatient look when the boy wasn't quite quick enough to follow. Harry grabbed the parchment in front of him and found himself once more under the constant smother of the over-protective and loving father. Out in the main room, the aurors had found something more important to do and did not flock to them immediately. Harry did find himself dragged over to where Sirius sat speaking to Frank and Alice Longbottom in hushed tones however.
"He wants Louthen to talk to the boy," James explained breaking up the close proximity of the others' heads. Sirius wrinkled up his nose and Frank scowled to match the one that James wore.
"How are you doing Harry?" Alice asked ignoring James with a pleasant smile.
"Alright I guess," Harry replied courteously hoping the skeptical looks Sirius was giving him wasn't drawing any attention to them. "And you?"
"Very well, thank you," Alice answered as the men groaned about this Louthen fellow between themselves.
Finally, James announced it was time to go, said farewell to Sirius, Frank and several of the others before dragging Harry back out into the hallway.
Despite the way the boy flinched every time James threw an arm over his shoulder, he seemed to be playing his role very well. It was also difficult for the auror to decide whether to commend the boy for how well he'd done with Scrimgeour or to be annoyed with him for not following Albus' instructions. The truth in the statement about not remembering seeing his father at the train station struck James as particularly brilliant given the situation.
The walk back through the ministry to the floo fireplaces went quickly enough and since it was later in the morning, less people stopped working to chat with them.
"So where are we going?" Harry asked as James grabbed a handful of green powder.
"Saint Mungo's," James responded curtly. All aurors and their family members knew where to find Wyatt Louthen.
"Oh," Harry said looking very intently at the pot of floo powder while grabbing a handful.
James stepped through the warm air of the fireplace into the middle of the flames and threw down his powder while clearly stating his destination. A moment later he stepped out onto the pristine tiles of the hospital floo room. Three of the four walls of the room were lined with large stone fireplaces and despite the constant fires the room was kept perfectly ash free at all times. The boy followed through a moment later and once again stumbled out of the fire. It was beginning to get embarrassing and James wondered how the boy was 16 and still hadn't learned how to walk out of a floo. Harry wasn't covered in ash this time but James figured that should be attributed to the magical properties of the room rather than an improvement in the boy.
"Come on," James gruffly insisted motioning to the door. Harry showed no sign that James behavior bothered him, and rather just did as he was told, annoying James even more.
"Louthen is a mind healer, but he specializes in trauma and circumstance in addition to magical symptoms." James explained having decided it was better that the boy was prepared. "He's a master legilimens and occlumens but won't go digging around in your mind today. Scrimgeour wants to make sure that your mind is working as it should, and that there aren't any magical restraints on it."
The boy nodded slowly listening to James as they walked.
The floo room door took them out into the reception area, the blonde witch behind the desk winked at Harry after she notified James that Louthen was expecting them and to head on up. He hadn't even turned his back before she started etching her floo address into the air in golden letters using her finger. Giving up the act James sent her the tough-auror face he and Sirius had practiced in the bathroom mirrors their entire seventh year and steered Harry into the elevator. The witch scoffed and rolled her eyes as the door closed.
Riding up to the fourth floor took longer than James anticipated and to make it worse the boy had gone unusually tense next to him. Taking a discreet glance downward, he noticed the boy's face had gone crimson making the white of his scar stick out noticeably between the fringes of his bangs. James didn't even make an effort of hiding his snickers and smacked the kid on his back causing him to lose his balance and stumble forward. The boy gave him an annoyed look but didn't say anything.
"How'd you get that scar anyway?" James asked relaxing in the boy's obvious discomfort.
"Car accident," Harry replied curtly stepping out of the elevator with his head down and flattened his hair over scar again.
Renewing the act once more, James guided Harry toward the correct office throwing a "Witch Weekly: Smile of the Week" winning smile at the passing patients and staff. The door was already open when they arrived and James stepped into the mind healer's office.
The center of the room was open with a large Persian rug in vibrant red and yellow symmetrical designs swirling across the floor. Against one wall sat a backless tan-suede couch with one edge raised. Plenty of aurors had been forced on that couch over the long course of Louthen's career. James forced a smile to his face to keep from shuddering at the sight of it. The arm chair where the healer usually sat was worn red leather with a rigid pattern of black buttons on the high back. Louthen himself was knelt in front of a soft-red, wood bookshelf populated with Freud, Jung and Pavlov.
"Hello," James greeted announcing their presence.
"James," Louthen responded.
A man in his early 50s it took his an unusual amount of time to stand. Louthen wore the lime-green of a healer which clashed awfully with the warm colors that adorned his office. A tall and lengthy man he towered over both the short Harry and James. His dark hair was neatly slicked back which left the square face open and uneven pock marks openly displayed.
"Harry, it's nice to see you well," the older man said shaking Harry's hand slowly. "If you would lie down on the couch?"
Louthen moved slowly over to his chair and conjured a simple chair for James next to his own.
Harry was sitting on the couch, his hands on his knees and his head bowed, not making eye contact with the healer. James briefly mused over why the boy was always so uncomfortable.
"I need you to lie down, for the analysis, Harry," Louthen said softly motioning for Harry to lean back on the raised portion of the couch. The boy moved reluctantly onto his back but folded his arms over his stomach.
With a twist and flick of Louthen's wand four bronze objects floated off the shelf where they traditionally, neatly sat. Upon making it to the couch, they hovered two feet away from each aligning with the compass points above the boys head. On the southern point, a long hollow cylinder hung about his chest parallel to his energy flow so that it pointed toward his feet. The largest device was on the eastern corner with, a semi-sphere with three wide bands rotating around its widest point like Saturn's rings. To the north, was a flat box with a multicolor film similar to the soap bubbles James' mother used to float around the kitchen as she cleaned. The final object was about the half the size of a bludger and would have be a perfect sphere if strips weren't constantly rotating in different directions giving an occasional glance of a blue glow in the center.
"These are instruments to determine the flows and the strength of those flows in your head. They won't harm you but they are going to move around a bit. Focus on your breath." Explained Louthen smoothly as Harry's eyes began to flutter closed. "There you go, relax."
James found himself begin to relax below the soft words of the mind healer's spell. The scent of lavender drifted through the room as the instruments floated above, below, around and through each other, the slight movements enough of a report to the healer as he occasionally hummed in approval, raised his eyebrows or made small gestures directing them. It was a nearly half an hour before they settled back into the four compass points trembling noticeably in the air. Louthen stood pushing the eastern instrument out of the way and stared down at the boy for several moments. Harry's breathing was deep and completely undisturbed even when the healer touched his face to brush his hair away from the scar.
"It's a curse scar but like nothing I've ever seen before," Louthen said to neither of them in particular. "There's a lot of damage in there. The flow isn't just disrupted, it's almost completely blocked. The scaring goes far beyond the physical tissue."
Harry opened his eyes slowly and raised a hand to cover the resulting yawn.
"I'd like to see you perform any basic spell of your choosing,"
"Sir," the boy hesitated and fiddled with the pocket of his robes.
"The ministry is well aware that underage wizards need to perform magic in my office as part of my examination occasionally. There will be no penalty." Louthen reassured resulting in the boy drawing his wand slowly.
"Lumos," Harry incanted with the appropriate swish and the tip of his wand lit up accordingly.
"Remarkable," the healer spoke in little more than a breath.
The complexity of mind healing always eluded James. While he had been teased for the years he would spend in training to become an auror it took an apprenticeship twice as long to even begin the practical instruction. The intricate nature of the mind involved too many components for James to have any idea why Harry's Lumos was so fascinating to the man.
Even before Harry extinguished his wand, Louthen had summoned a square device and had stuck in Harry's ear. The boy had a violated look that brought James a small amount of joy for the first time the entire outing.
"An average wizard wouldn't be able to perform even first year spells with the amount of scarring in here." Louthen said and paused long enough to notice the confused faces staring at him. "When we do magic, we're drawing on magic from all over our bodies and the energy flows through pathways similar to how blood flows through veins. And just as if there is a blockage in your veins it has negative affects so does a blockage in your energy flow.
"There are three basic components to completing a spell: conversion, direction and intention. Since intention is entirely a mental process, if the pathways are blocked then even simple spells cannot be completed."
"But my spell worked just fine," Harry spoke once it appeared that Louthen was finished.
"Your magic is so strong that what little does make it through your pathways is enough to complete the spell. You may find that more complex spells take additional effort from what they did in the past." Louthen said with a shrug of his shoulder and then a broad smile. "Thank your good heritage for that."
The healer patted the boy on the shoulder and returned to his chair ignoring the slight discomfort in the boy's manner.
"There is scarring that is only a week old that I'm certain I can heal. However I won't know if I can work with the rest until I've healed those scars."
"I won't have him poking around in my mind once a week!" Harry hissed as they stepped onto the cobblestones just outside the cauldron shop.
"Not my problem," James replied unaffected. He pulled a good size purse from his robes and shoved it into Harry's hand. "From Dumbledore for your school supplies—you're to meet Neville at Florean's."
By the time he finished speaking, James was already back in the floo and pronouncing his destination.
Harry took a deep breath and started in the direction of Florean Fortesque's Ice Cream Parlor. As he walked he opened up the leather purse and found a supply list and a mixture of coins. In addition to the usual school supplies was "robes that fit properly."
Diagon Alley was packed with the usual school-shopping rush. It seemed even more packed than usual to Harry. Despite putting off his shopping till the last minute with Ron, there seemed to be more by half bustling in and out of the shops and many of the students Harry didn't even recognize.
Outside of Florean's was a moderately sized group of school children in Gryffindor colors. A flash of redheads caused Harry to grin but it vanished as quickly when he caught sight of the look Neville was giving him. He could be quite efficient on his own; it wouldn't be hard to finish up his shopping alone. Lily had made him recite the floo address to the house enough times that morning that he was certain he could get home. He didn't even have to go back. Knowing Dumbledore there was probably enough money for a few nights at the Leaky Cauldron, maybe even enough till school started.
"Harry!" Ron yelled upon spotting him through the crowd.
Harry froze as all eyes turned toward him. He was not who they expected him to be. He didn't even know all their names and they were all around him then: Ron, Fred, George, Ginny, Dean and more he didn't recognize. Only Neville hung back. They were all asking him questions; he couldn't make out the words through the crowd of voices. Finally a blond boy hushed the rest quite loudly.
"Neville's been telling us about your memory loss," the chubby, blond explained. "He said you might not remember some of us. What do you remember?"
"Well I remember being in Gryffindor," Harry started getting a chuckle from the crowd. Without them rushing him, Harry began feeling a little more relaxed and in control of the situation.
"We've got some shopping to get done! Leave poor Harry alone," Molly Weasley insisted coming from across the street with several other parents. She gave him a half hug, much to his relief. It was nice that some things stayed constant. "Good to see you, Harry."
As parents began shepherding they're children toward the first shop, Harry added himself to the Weasley family out of habit. Mrs. Weasley gave him a welcoming smile and then waved wildly to someone behind him. Turning to look, Harry saw Lily running up panting slightly.
"Sorry I'm late!" She wheezed giving him a quick squeeze. "Where's your father?"
Harry stared at her while quickly running through the occulmency exercises.
"He had to get back to work. You know Scrimgeour," Harry said as casually as he could. They were walking with the Weasleys and almost to Flourish and Blotts. Lily and Molly laughed and exchanged an exasperated look—ministry husbands.
Along with a bunch of kids from school, Harry supposed it wasn't odd to slip away from his mother and left her with Molly to find his books with the group. It seemed the other Harry was signed up for Defense Against the Dark Arts, Charms, Transfiguration, Potions, Care of Magical Creatures and Muggle Studies for his NEWTS. It was a relief as it hadn't occurred to Him that perhaps the other Harry had taken Ancient Runes or Arthimancy which he had not chance in bluffing his way through.
"You're smaller," Ron commented off hand as they rummaged through Defense books for the correct one.
"They say I'm malnourished," Harry replied.
Ron turned on Harry quickly with a concerned look. "You still gonna be able to play seeker?"
"I don't see why not," Harry replied with a straight face much to his own surprise. It was so typical of Ron to be most concerned about quidditch.
"Find all your books, Harry?" Lily asked appearing suddenly.
Harry struggled not to scowl at the woman. She was paying too much attention to him for his own comfort. He didn't know how to act in this situation. Too big of a misstep was going to give him away, and family interactions were something he was overly familiar. Though he supposed that her not hovering over him everywhere he went would seem very strange to everyone. He was just going to have to deal with it till school started.
"Right here, Mum." Harry confirmed in what he hoped was a situational appropriate response.
Lily took the books from him and headed over to the counter. "Uh, Mum, uh, Dad gave me more than enough money. Mum?"
Lily had insisted on paying for everything and she had bought a lot. There was plenty of clothing that fit him now and some to grow into as well, she insisted that he would start filling out again at school. He tried not to look perturbed at how much she was spending on him, as he suspected any normal teenager would be ecstatic. It made sense that a mother would spend a lot on her recently found son but the act seemed to be taking things too far. The other teenagers frequently found ways to interrogate him innocently about what he remembered and Harry was beginning to feel more natural in that lie however.
He suspected that by the time the Hogwarts expressed rolled around he would be able to start establishing a personality that was as much his own. He could start separating himself from James and Lily and would use the ruse only as a means for an identity. Meeting his parents had been his dream for many years but this was not what he had wanted. And the mystery of how the other Harry had died struck him as uncomfortable. If the same people came after him, wondering how he had survived he could be in a lot of trouble. The lie of not remembering could only take him so far. Brain damage may protect him from his schoolmates but it wasn't as satisfactory to mass murders in Harry's experience.
It had surprised Harry that there didn't seem to be as much rivalry between the houses in this universe. The students from other houses had mostly left the Gryffindor group alone and even smiled and waved on occasion. Even the Slytherins hadn't stopped for the usual exchange of barbs. It seemed usual to Harry, as he had been lead to believe that that rivalry had gone back to the opening of the Hogwarts itself.
"You sure you have everything?" Lily asked once again as they headed towards platform 9 and ¾.
James snorted, clearly still unpleased with being forced to come along. Somehow it almost felt nostalgic to Harry having a disgruntled older male annoyed at having to take him to London to catch the train.
"Mum, I'll be fine." Harry replied starting to use the annoyed tone of a teenager quite effectively.
"Well then, you go ahead first," Lily motioned toward the pillar that would lead them across to the platform.
Stepping through the platform brought the smell of exhaust and smoke not associated with modern trains to Harry's nose. Families huddled over a trunk or two down the length of the train, there were so many of them. Harry stared until James gave him an affectionate yet passive aggressive squeeze on the shoulder.
"There are so many," Harry whispered as he began to notice that even the train was longer.
James gave him a furtive and very effective annoyed look. Harry rolled his eyes and began to wonder how much larger the houses were here in this world. It seemed that without the Voldemort and the Deatheaters the population in the wizarding world was quite a bit larger.
"Harry!" A group of gryffindors yelled from out a train window.
"I'm so glad to have you out of my life." James said giving him an affectionate hug.
"Good luck at school," Lily spoke a little louder than James had but also gave him a hug.
Both James and Lily saw him to the train and waved him off as Harry headed toward the compartment with the gryffindors.