The vast majority of the afternoon was spent helping McGonagall hide her house under the fidelius charm. Harry and Hedwig may have only had five and a half more days in this dimension, but Harry didn't want his former professor to be in any danger simply because she saved his life. They decided to make McGonagall herself the secret keeper, since Harry would be leaving and the charm would collapse once he left. Hedwig was right out as a choice since she didn't understand the magic and while Harry trusted his friend with is life, he didn't trust her with any secrets just yet.
The charm was fairly simple in its execution but complex in its own way. Much like his anti-gravity charm, the fidelius charm needed to be cast on a series of runes. These runes were difficult insomuch as they couldn't be carved on anything, but had to be free floating. The reason the spell was used so little, was that very few people in the world had the power to make long lasting, free floating runes. Even Harry doubted that his runes would last for very long, but he was confident that they would last long enough to keep McGonagall safe.
Following afternoon tea, Harry began. He traced the perimeter of the house, placing the five necessary runes at the points of an invisible pentagram. After tracing the five runes in the air, leaving them floating as a red after glow, Harry felt the first strains on his magic. He felt slightly dizzy from using so much, so quickly, but waved McGonagall and Hedwig's concerns off. He would be fine. Finally, after weaving the charm into the runes, Harry and McGonagall went into the house to complete the casting. Hedwig had to remain outside, for anyone not involved in the casting of the charm could have their mind wiped by the spell and stood a very good chance of ending up with permanent spell damaged to their psyche.
The binding of the spell to the secret keeper was much like taking an oath. McGonagall held her wand up while Harry chanted the long and complex incantation, ending forcefully with the word, "FIDELIUS!"
The tip of McGonagall's wand glowed brightly for a moment before dimming just a quickly. Harry's mind felt like it was full of cotton since he was inside the dwelling without having been told the secret. He shook his head briefly to clear it to no avail. "Well, it's done," he said drunkenly. "Now, mind telling me where you live so I can get rid of this fuzzy feeling in my head?"
McGonagall gave a very uncharacteristic smirk. "Oh, I don't know," she drawled. "Maybe I'll let you suffer for what you put me through at school."
"Minerva…" Harry pleaded as the room began to spin. "Please?"
McGonagall sighed and rolled her eyes, a rueful smile on her face before leaning over to whisper the location of her house in Harry's ear. He sighed with relief as the cottony feeling vanished.
"Thank you…" he said.
Harry went out to collect Hedwig who was staggering around in a panic, since the fidelius magically made her forget where Harry was. She was his lifeline in this strange world and his absence was horrible for her. McGonagall whispered the secret to her too.
Harry's plan was a simple one and was distinctly non-Gryffindor. He planned (planned being the key word) on using his owl form to scout things out by flying around the major wizarding conduits in wizarding England; Hogsmeade, Diagon Alley, then the Ministry. He wanted to find out if things were as bad as his confrontation with Bellatrix and the soldiers had made it out to be, or if it was an isolated incident since he was Harry Potter. Things like that always happened to him. His initial plan was to locate Malfoy and subdue, or kill him if necessary by storming the ministry, but McGonagall informed him scathingly that it was a "recklessly stupid, Gryffindor plan" and that he should change it. So change it he had, and his owl form was what he had come up with.
The next morning, Harry woke early and wolfed a breakfast down. McGonagall woke when Harry was about half way done eating with a bleary eyed, disheveled Hedwig in tow. He said goodbyes all around and then went outside to apparate away while McGonagall set about teaching Hedwig to control her new magic.
The ominous thud and flash of light from the windows of the house did nothing to reassure him.
Harry spent the entirety of the day observing. From his vantage point perched on the eave of a shop, Harry saw that Diagon Alley was as subdued as the day before. People rushed to get their daily business done, hurrying from store to store and out of sight of the ever present guards. In the three or so hours that Harry spent there, he didn't see any other altercation like the one he had been involved in. He recognized a few people. Dennis Creevey and his fiancée Romilda Vane went by a group of soldiers without being accosted, though they kept their heads low and hurried along. He saw Cho Chang walking the lane too. But no one was attacked or harassed like the woman and her daughter had been that first day.
The only conclusion Harry could come to then, was that the woman had done something wrong. Nothing, however in Harry's mind warranted such treatment, especially toward a young mother. Realizing that he would most likely not find anything else here, Harry swooped down into an empty alleyway to change back to a human and apparate to his next destination; Hogsmeade.
The all wizarding village on the outskirts of Hogwarts was much the same as Diagon Alley. Few people were out and about, but those that were rushed to their destinations before rushing back to their homes or apparating away and the same black suited, red armband wearing soldiers patrolled here too. Flying through the owl access in the Three Broomsticks, Harry saw that the pub was doing business as usual. The atmosphere was subdued but the building was packed as usual.
Needing another business to compare the pub to, Harry changed back to a human before disguising himself with a few concealment charms. His hair was now a dirty blond and his eyes were a nondescript brown. Then, Harry headed to Honeyduke's candy shop. It would be another good place to gauge things in the village.
The bell above the door jingled as Harry entered the warm shop. Harry returned the old man behind the counter's greeting as he surveyed the inside of the store. It was business as usual in the candy store too. People seemed a bit happier as they made their purchases of candy and other sweets. Harry left the store with a small frown on his face.
Harry didn't spend too much time in Hogsmeade but he was rapidly coming to a conclusion. Things didn't seem all that bad. People were subdued, and beyond that first incident in Diagon Alley (which involve him, and should be discounted, since Harry always seemed to attract trouble), were thriving. Businesses seemed to be doing well, there was peace, albeit forced, and there was no dark lord murdering people.
The frown on his face deepening, Harry apparated to the ministry.
His first real shock of the day came when he realized that he had simply apparated into the ministry. Sure, he could always do that, but with the way things were; heightened security and subdued atmosphere and all, Harry had thought he would have ended up in some sort of check point. But no, once again, it was business as usual in the governmental building. Ministry employees spilled out of the fireplaces or apparated in behind him before bustling over the polished obsidian floors toward the lifts to go wherever they happened to be needed.
Harry decided to go through with his initial plan. He took the visitors entrance back up to the London streets before changing back into an owl. It only took a minute to locate Lucius Malfoy before Harry took to the air with the 'intent' on delivering a letter to him. Harry let his instincts guide him through the ministry building, unsure if there was a mail room of sorts that owls were directed to. Sure enough, at least that much of a security measure was in place, and Harry found himself in an owlery with a multitude of hooting and screeching owls. He fluttered to the floor where a harassed looking ministry employee was hurriedly gathering, sorting sending the letters, notes and packages to various other employees.
The middle-aged man startled when Harry fluttered down to the floor. "Hello, you handsome bird," he said kindly. "Have you a letter for me?"
Feeling at least a little remorse, Harry changed back and quickly stunned the man before he could utter a word. "Sorry, mate," he said before quickly using his disillusionment spell and layering it with his cloak. Suitably stealthed, Harry then made his way out into the building proper.
It didn't take long to find the Minister's office, but unfortunately it was locked. Through the picture windows inset in the doors, Harry could make out a secretary furiously scribbling on a parchment. He knocked lightly, hoping that she would get up to investigate. She did, but she didn't open the door, instead only peaking through the windows and looking back and forth. Seeing no one in the corridor waiting at the door, she shrugged and went back to her paperwork.
Harry bit back a curse and tried again, this time with his wand ready. He readied himself as the plump blonde woman approached the doors again and as she neared, he quickly cast a low powered imperius curse.
He had long ago learned that Voldemort's creed, 'There is no good an evil, only power and those too weak to seek it', held some truth. Spells themselves weren't inherently good or evil. The person who used the spells, however was a different matter. A righteous person could use an Avada Kedavra to protect his family, as much as a criminal could use a Patronus to defend himself from Dementors. That is, if the criminal could dredge up enough hope, and happiness to cast the spell, but that's beyond the point. The criminal could still cast it. Very few spells would actually corrupt and Harry made it a point to steer clear of those.
Thus, Harry had delved into the unforgivables. He still couldn't cast a proper Cruciatus curse, since he rarely wished someone to suffer, and only once, during the fight with Voldemort, had he hated enough to cast an Avada Kedavra. And even then, he had immediately felt dirty afterward. The imperius curse though, was a handy tool.
As her eyes glazed over, Harry mentally ordered her to open the door so he could slip in. Once he was in the room, he dropped the imperius and stunned her. Harry then crept up to the open office of the minister. There, Harry got his first glimpse of the man the Lucius Malfoy had become.
Holding the position of Minster for Magic hadn't treated the man well. He looked visibly stressed; his normally long platinum blonde hair was lank and dull. His eyes were sunken and had bags beneath them, and the man was muttering to himself as he paced in his office. Harry almost pitied him. Almost…
Lucius Malfoy was a wreck. That much was clear, but he was still one of the best Ministers for Magic that the country had ever seen. Still, something had to change.
"You have really bolloxed things up, haven't you?" Harry said from beneath his invisibility cloak.
Malfoy glanced up from his paperwork in a panic, and Harry could tell just how badly the pureblood was handling his new station. "Who-who's there?" Malfoy shouted.
Harry whipped his cloak off and dispelled the disillusionment charm. He kept his wand gripped tightly in his hand, readying for and expecting a fight. No stranger to death, Harry was fully prepared to have to kill this man to fix things. What happened, however, was anything but climactic. Lucius Malfoy's eyes widened to the point that Harry thought his grey eyes would fall from the sockets. He leveled a shaky finger in Harry's direction before Malfoy's eyes rolled up into his skull and he withered to the floor in a dead faint.
Unable to help himself, Harry started to laugh as he lowered his wand and reined his magic back in. "Huh…That was unexpected."
Obviously the stress Malfoy was under was on Harry's side. The pureblood dictator was simply overwhelmed in seeing someone he thought to be dead and buried standing before him, alive and right as rain.
Harry ducked down to check and see if the man was still alive. He was fortunately, for Harry needed Lucius for the next part of his plan. A quick imperius curse brought the scion of the Malfoy family under his control, and Harry could feel the man, even in his unconscious state, only fight the curse feebly before giving in. Harry gave his order. "You are to immediately disband your police and appoint your successor," Harry commanded. He suggested someone, but left the decision up to Malfoy. It wasn't Harry's place to choose.
As soon as he felt the command seat itself in Lucius' mind, Harry quickly obliviated all traces of his presence from his memory and left the same way he came, making sure to wake the secretary and mail clerk.
The sight that greeted Harry upon his return brought him up short. McGonagall's house was full of thick, billowing orange smoke and Harry could hear someone coughing from the dining room. "Hello?" he called tentatively.
McGonagall came staggering from the dining room with Hedwig in tow, the professor's hair sticking up at odd angles all over her head. Hedwig looked contrite and had a death grip on her wand, which was emitting the odd orange smoke from its tip. McGonagall thrust the girl at Harry with a scowl on her face and stumbled off to the loo.
Harry turned to look at Hedwig. "What…?" He asked before trailing off. The platinum haired girl just looked at her feet in embarrassment, her cheeks a bright red color. Harry noticed that there was some orange powder both in her hair and on her robes. "What were you trying to cast?" he finally asked.
Hedwig was silent for a moment; her only movement was the scuffing of her buckled boots on the carpet. "Levitation charm…"
It took everything Harry had not to laugh at Hedwig's expense. Fortunately he was saved by McGonagall's return. He looked at her questioningly before his shaky resolve broke. McGonagall's hair was still sticking up at odd angles. A double threat against his manhood and life managed to get him to calm down enough to ask his former professor what had happened. McGonagall offered Harry a seat on the relatively clean sofa in the sitting room.
"It would seem that Hedwig's spells only function correctly eighty percent of the time. The other twenty…" McGonagall paused with a tortured look on her face. "This orange powder and smoke is one of the…lesser effects I have been subjected to. My most educated guess," she began, doing her best to ignore Harry's occasional sniggers. "Is that Hedwig's magic hasn't settled yet. You mentioned that she has only been human for three days now, correct?"
Harry nodded, still fighting the giggles. Hedwig fidgeted next to him on the couch and Harry began to busy himself with cleaning the strange orange powder off of her. "What about changing her back into an owl?" he asked, casting a light wind charm to get the last vestiges of the powder out of Hedwig's hair. She squinted as the air dried her eyes, but didn't look away.
McGonagall shrugged. "Honestly, it is too early to tell," she answered. "It is not innate, if that is what you are wondering. It may be that she has to train herself like a normal animagus would have to. It may come naturally once she has complete control of her magic. I really do not know."
Two before the eclipse, the Daily Prophet released a special issue, proclaiming the end of the Malfoy Regime.
Minister Malfoy to Disband Police Force and Name Successor!
By Penelope Clearwater
Early this morning, Minister by political takeover, Lucius Malfoy announced that hence forth, his secret police force would be hereby disbanded and the normal Auror Corps reinstated. He also announced his resignation and placement of an interim Minster to be named later.
A year and a month ago, as we all remember, Harry Potter was confirmed as dead, and Lucius Malfoy instigated his political coup with thrust him into power. Almost immediately, he instated his own police, headed by his sister-in-law and former Death Eater, Bellatrix LeStrange, and began to pass anti-muggleborn and magical being laws.
Earlier this week, another of the numerous Harry Potter sightings was reported. What was strange about this one, however, was the fact that it was after his death. Who was this man who stood up to the police? Was it really Harry Potter returned from the grave to save his country? Did this man have anything to do with Minister Malfoy's sudden decision to disband his police force? No one seems to know, and Minister Malfoy refrained from commenting…
"Huh…" Harry said noncommittally, handing the paper back to McGonagall, who's hair was back under control. The article went on about whether or not the laws would be appealed, but honestly, Harry didn't care. He had accomplished his goal.
"You never did say what you did, Harry," she said.
Harry shrugged. "I simply convinced him to leave office. No blood shed no violence."
McGonagall took a seat at the table with Harry and Hedwig, the latter of whom was messily eating her breakfast. She still hadn't gotten the hang of using a fork.
"Yes, but what did you do?" McGonagall asked intently.
Harry pushed his own eggs around on his plate looking distinctly uncomfortable. "You probably wouldn't approve," he said quietly.
"Try me," McGonagall retorted equally as soft but leaning forward in interest. "I'm proud that you didn't take his life though, Merlin knows, the man deserves death for what he has done."
Harry prodded at his breakfast a bit more and handed Hedwig a napkin before answering. "I put him under the imperius," he said. "He isn't doing this willingly."
McGonagall could only blink as she sat back in her chair heavily.
"Told you," Harry said. "Once we leave, the spell will be lifted, but the damage will be done. A new ministry should be in place and Malfoy won't stand a chance."
Harry watch as McGonagall pondered something, and he honestly expected to have to defend his actions. But what happened took him by surprise. "Thank, Harry."
McGonagall graced him with a rare, genuine smile. The last time he had seen it was the day he had defeated Voldemort. "Yes, thank you. You came here by accident, and you could have remained in hiding. Instead, you decided to help correct a wrong that was caused by…well, your death. I don't think I, or England in general can thank you enough, Harry."
Harry blushed in spite of himself. "I just couldn't leave well enough alone," he said. "Back during my fifth year before Sirius…died, Hermione once said that I had a 'saving people thing'. She was more right than she knew."
Hedwig had stopped eating, her breakfast forgotten as she watched the conversation like a tennis match.
"So what are you going to do now?" McGonagall asked. "You only have two days left, correct?"
"Well, I was hoping that you could help Hedwig with her magic some more."
Hedwig giggled at McGonagall's horrified expression but quieted down when Harry raised his eyebrow at her.
"I'll take that as a no, then," Harry lamented.
"Even if I wanted to," McGonagall said. "I couldn't." She handed Harry a letter she had received that morning. It bore the seal of the Ministry of Magic of England. "I assume you had something to do with this?"
When Harry finished reading the letter, which didn't take long as the political talk made his brain hurt, he asked, "So you are going to take the job then?"
McGonagall nodded. "I'll only be and interim minister, like the article said. An election will be held once things settle down." She paused and looked at Harry thoughtfully. "Why did you pick me?"
Harry handed the letter back to McGonagall and started cleaning Hedwig's face, since she made no effort to do so herself. It seemed it had been her plan all along, since she looked triumphant at Harry's attention. "I didn't pick you," Harry said, doing his best to ignore Hedwig's content cooing. It was making him feel weird. "Malfoy did. I merely suggested you."
"Why me though?"
Once Harry finished cleaning Hedwig, he shrugged before Hedwig climbed into his lap and cuddled into his chest. He sighed at the girl but couldn't bring himself to shoo her away. "I honestly don't know. It was a toss up between you or Kingsley, who is minister in my world."
"Kingsley Shacklebolt?" McGonagall asked pensively. "Is he any good?"
Harry shrugged again as Hedwig began to play with his hair. "I couldn't tell you. Hermit, remember?"
McGonagall nodded her understanding then started in on her own breakfast during the silence that followed.
"So you really won't help Hedwig learn to use her magic?" he asked after a moment. The scathing glare he received in response was all the answer he needed.
McGonagall returned the next day from her first day as interim Minister with good news. The Aurors had been successfully reinstated and had arrested both Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange for crimes against the country and war crimes. Also, she informed Harry that the horrible laws that had been passed during Malfoy's reign were being repealed. She also informed him that preparations for the next election were already underway, and the first candidate was Kingsley Shacklebolt. It was good news for Harry and managed to cheer him up, at least until Hedwig neatly turned him into a toad trying to cast the aguamenti charm.
Finally, the day of the eclipse arrived, and Harry set about gathering his things. He decided to take this dimension's cloak, as well as the duplicate wand, which had been in the ministry's custody since his death. A few more newspaper articles had been published speculating on the 'Harry Potter Phantom' that had saved the girl and her daughter in Diagon Alley that first day. But no one really believed that he had resurrected, so to speak, so the wand was released in to the control of the minister, who gave it back.
It felt odd Harry, having the wand greet him like it had on the day he purchased it when he was eleven. But it wasn't an uncomfortable feeling however. Casting two spells simultaneously, though, was uncomfortable since the drain on his magic was almost unbearable. He vowed not to do that again.
Since Harry had plenty of money with him in his trunk, and he couldn't very well take it with him, Harry gave his house and fortune to Soxy, Wiggy and Rumpo. Rumpo was overcome with emotion and promptly passed out.
At last, the eclipse began, and Harry could feel the drain on his magic as the spell reinitialized. It was with relief that he realized Hedwig would be taken along, since she said she also felt a pull. Harry gathered his things on McGonagall's lawn, Hedwig clinging tightly to his side. McGonagall was there to see him off, and in distinctly non-McGonagall fashion, was crying.
"I never did get the chance to say this before, Harry," she said. Her voice was steady despite the tears leaking from her eyes. "But, you were probably my favorite student. I will miss you."
Harry smiled at her. "Thanks Minnie," he said cheekily. McGonagall frowned good-naturedly, but didn't scold him for the nickname. "I'll miss you too."
Then, the sky darkened as the moon completely covered the sun. Runes burst to life in blue light around Harry and Hedwig and the same lightning began to arc up into the sky. Both of them were grateful that the lightning seemed to be giving them a wide berth this time, since when the lightning had struck them the last time, not only had it hurt, but it had altered Hedwig. Next, the black hole formed above Harry's head and he managed to get one last look at McGonagall before they were sucked up into the aether between dimensions.
The first thing that Harry realized when he came to was that he had grass in his mouth. Spitting it out, he managed to stagger up onto his knees and glanced about blearily, his vision blurry since his glasses had fallen off his face. It was one of the things he hated the most about himself, relying on the glasses. He started scrabbling around in the grass for them before he noticed a small, blurry, white shape drop them in the grass by his knees. Quickly putting them on his face, he noticed that the small, blurry, white shape was an owl.
"Hedwig?" he asked in astonishment. The owl seemed to bob its head. Taking a chance, he touched upon the familiar bond he had with his owl. Can you understand me?
He received an affirmative answer in response.
"Well, that was an adventure," he said to no one in particular. Hedwig fluttered up and perched up on his shoulder. "Can you change into a human?"
Hedwig seemed to concentrate, then send a negative reply. Harry was momentarily glad, since she had tried to change on his shoulder.
"Do you feel anything different at all?" he asked. Hedwig bobbed her head, saying that she did but Harry hadn't the first clue how to find out what it was.
"So its over then," he said, once again to no one in particular. It was an interesting trip, to be sure. He was glad that the dimension he had visited wasn't too different from his own. From the bit of magical theory on alternate realities he had read, alternate dimensions could be radically different. He had lucked out.
But something was still bothering him. As he surveyed the landscape, he realized that he was nowhere near McGonagall's house. In fact, if he was correct, he was on the Hogwarts grounds. Why had the spell dropped them here of all places? When he had first cast the spell, Soxy, Rumpo and Wiggy told him that they found him and Hedwig slumped in the study in his house. Now, he was on the Hogwarts grounds, but something was horribly wrong.
Beneath his feet, where there should be lush green grass, it being summer and all, there was only barren earth with a few weeds and shrubs dotting the landscape. Looking up, Harry saw that the sky was mostly cloudy, and that the sky itself was a blood red color.
"Why don't you scout around and let me know what you see, Hedwig," he told his owl.
Hedwig leaned against him fondly before taking off into the sky, albeit a bit clumsily since she had been human for a few days. Harry watched her go before setting out to discover on his own. It wasn't long before he wished he hadn't.
There on the cliffs before him, like a burned out skeleton, stood the ruins of what could only be Hogwarts Castle. The stones were blackened in places, as if huge fireballs had impacted the walls. From his vantage point, he could see that Gryffindor tower had been demolished and the entry hall had collapsed. To his right, the black lake was nothing more than a small pond, and all around him, the forbidden forest was slowly encroaching on the once immaculately groomed lawns. Even further down the valley, the once bright village of Hogsmeade was nothing more than a burned out ruin itself.
Harry sank to his knees before punching the hard, unyielding earth in anguish. All he got for his effort was torn and bruised knuckles. "Bloody hell!" he shouted.
In response to his shout, he heard a staccato of pops heralding people apparating in. Harry was in no mood to be diplomatic, and drew his wand, turning to face the newcomers. There, looking on in disdain, was a group of no less than ten death eaters. Their white masks stood out in stark contrast to the red sky.
"Identify your self," the one Harry assumed was the leader said.
Harry just gripped his wand tighter and prepared for a fight.
He wasn't home at all…
A/N: Well, the first world is done. I have a few more planned. ...not much else to say here. This isnt much of an authors note, is it...?