Chapter Nineteen "Return"
DISCLAIMER: The characters and story plot of the Harry Potter franchise do NOT belong to me, I am just one of the many privileged enough to write on J.K Rowling's marvelous novel series.
As soon as the words had travelled from his mouth, Harry could feel his body twist, squeeze, and turn in a variety of different ways before being snapped back together into perfect form inside the Weasley families fireplace. Having his stomach settled in what seemed like an upside down position, he clutched his gut and stumbled from the soot covered cove of the fireplace, all the while holding back several consecutive dry gags that could at any moment turn into a chunky slop of throw up.
"Harry, are you alright?" asked the sweet tentative voice of his mother from a short distance away.
Not giving a reply as he felt if he opened his mouth he would hurl, Harry simply nodded and clenched his eyes closed. Though even with them shut as tight as a bedroom windows curtains he could still see a dim flash of green light from the fire behind, signalling his fathers arrival.
"Everyone make it one piece?" asked James, his enquire came out in a caring but impatient tone. His head shaking to and fro as if to throw of the ash of the fireplace from his hair. His hands then taking his oval spectacles in hand to give them a quick cleaning with the hem of his jacket.
"Everyone is safe and sound," replied Lily as she passed by her husband towards her alternate son. "Harry?"
"Hmm?" hummed Harry, his head beginning to spin.
"Are you sure you're alright, do you want to sit for a minute?" asked Lily quietly as if to ask it any louder would be to embarrass him in front of the others in the room.
Pushing a quaint smile on his face, Harry shook his head while reaching a hand out to the nearest wall to keep him from toppling over. "I'm fine, really. You don't have to worry about me, travelling by floo has just never sat well with my stomach."
Lily looked to be understanding, however the mother instinct in her still had one of her hands on the boys back to rub soothing circles.
Placing his glasses back on, James blinked a few times as his eyes adjusted back to the clear clean lenses. The first sight to meet him was the distant gaze of his daughter by the Weasley's living room door looking past him, which he followed to find his wife and Harry. "Is he okay?"
"He's fine, James, we have it all under control," answered Lily, her emerald eyes locked on her son and his well being. "Why don't you go ahead and try to find Arthur or somebody else, dear."
Not being one to argue or protest under the current circumstances, James simply gave a swift one look over his assembled family then walked from the room a rushed pace. No doubt to go and seek out an Order member who might be able to offer him some news or relieving information about one of his dearest and oldest mates.
"Mum?" asked Rose shortly after her father left the room.
"Yes, Rose?" responded Lily, her eyes never leaving her son who had a bit of colour starting to return to his face.
"Can I go and find Ginny and the twins now?"
"Yes, but if you go outside stay close to this house," Lily answered, her head turning to her shoulder so to take a glance at her daughter. "Also, be a little discrete when it comes to Harry please."
"I know, I know I'll keep it all hush hush," Rose assured as if her mother's request was obvious. "See you later Mum, Harry."
Raising a hand Harry gave a half wave to his sister as he straightened up and stepped from his mothers tender compassion. "I'm fine," he uttered quietly, seeing the unrelenting face of worry from his mother he had to add a sincere, "thank you."
"Are you sure you're alright? We can sit a bit longer if you would like, there isn't any rush." said Lily, her eyes scanning the teen for any signs of ailment yet there was none to be found.
"I'm fine really," Harry said, his eyes nearly rolling at having to convince his mother he was feeling okay, a chuckle almost left his throat at the thought of understanding how Rose always seemed to feel in circumstances like this.
Still concerned Lily continued to watch him before the gasp at the rooms doorway stole her focus, there standing as pale as one of Hogwarts ghosts was Mundungus Fletcher, looking into what were a usually greedy calculating pair of beady eyes all she saw was horror in them as they stared fixed on Harry.
"Um, hello?" Harry greeted slowly to the man frozen in the doorway, he was used to people looking at him having been the boy-who-lived and all, but the way this man looked at him was something entirely different. It was a look that could send a chill down ones spine.
Fletcher's mouth trembled as it tried to form a voice a single name was whispered in a stutter. "P-P-Potter."
"Mundungus," began Lily, slowly walking toward the man. "You have nothing to fear, this isn't the same Harry you think you know. He's different."
Looking as though he hadn't heard a single thing Lily had spoken, Mundungus bolted from the room at such a pace Lily didn't think him even capable of moving at.
"This isn't going to be good is it?" Harry asked, one of his hands going to rub at the back of his head.
Shaking her head, Lily went to stand by her son. "It'll probably be better if you stay behind me encase anyone starts casting hexes."
"I can take care of myself you know," Harry replied under the sound thundering foot steps coming their way. His eyes directed to the arched doorway of the living room.
In just under a second what was just a fairly empty room was full of people, all of whom held their wands out in front of them and pointed at Harry. Behind the mass of witches and wizards Harry could make out his father in the back pushing through while trying to force several wands down.
"Stop! All of you stop! Put down your wands!" roared James, squeezing to the front of the crowd he grabbed Frank Longbottom's wrist and yanked his arm down. "He is not a threat, trust me! Dumbledore can explain everything."
Bringing his wand arm back up, Frank narrowed his eyes. "Step aside, James. The boy is a wanted criminal."
"He was a wanted criminal, but that Harry's gone," James defended sternly, putting himself between his family and the crowd of Order members looking as though they were out for blood. "Please all of you just lower your wands, Dumbledore can explain everything. Would you think we would actually bring Harry here if we thought he would harm anyone?"
"How long have you had him?" Emmeline Vance questioned with a raised brow from the back of the group.
"For quite some time, we can explain all of this shortly now please quit pointing your wands at my wife." growled James, not only was he frustrated about not knowing the whereabouts of Remus, but he now had the complex task of persuading those of the Order that Harry was not in fact a Death Eater.
Being the first to put her wand back into the confines of her robes, Molly Weasley shared a look with Arthur and her two eldest children. Following her lead they did the same followed shortly by the others. "I'm sure you can understand our concerns here, James."
"Yes, Molly I do," James said, turning to look at his wife and Harry for a moment. "Why doesn't everyone take a seat here and maybe we alleviate some of your concerns while we wait for whoever else has yet to arrive."
"We're just missing Sirius, Snape, and Dumbledore." piped in Elphias Doge as he shuffled to one of the many couches in the room.
"Any word as to where they are?" James asked, looking from face to face.
"Sirius sent word that he'd be late, he's trying to follow some leads in regards to Remus' disappearance," answered the uneasy looking Kingsley Shacklebolt, the tall dark skinned mans piercing eyes floating around Harry. "As for Snape I'm sure he's with Dumbledore, as for your son here I would quite like to hear this story."
"Of course," Lily cut in, she eyed all those staring at her and gave a soft smile in return as short lived as it was. "As you all know our Harry was given the Dementor's kiss for his crimes..." there was a short pause as if it almost hurt to have said that bit. "He's gone yet we've been given the blessing of this Harry to our world, you see he's not from here."
"Not from here?" repeated Arthur skeptically. "Where's this Harry from then, France?"
"That isn't what I meant, I think Harry actually might be better suited to tell you all this," Lily said, her eyes turning to the messy haired teen. "Harry?"
"... Sure," Harry said, his hands dug themselves into the pockets of his trousers as he looked at all the unfamiliar and familiar faces. "The way it was explained to me is that me, or my soul as it is was transported from entirely different world from this, or universe I guess you could say. In mine things are a lot different, actually I don't think I've seen anything similar at all to my world except maybe the Durslys did."
"Dursley's?" asked Mundungus, the man sat hunched in the back of the room.
"My sisters family," explained Lily. "Continue Harry."
"Well, getting to the point I suppose. In my world I always seemed to be the focus of Voldemort and on the night he returned to his bodily form he cast a spell on me that separated my body from my soul and sent it here, whether that was intentional or not I don't know." Harry said, looking to Lily he gave a shrug that asked if he needed to say more.
"Thank you, Harry," Lily said. "Does anyone have any questions?"
"Uh yeah, are we just taking his word that this is what happened? We're not going to look into this more and find any thing to collaborate what he's said?" asked Charlie Weasley, he looked at the others and saw a unified nod of agreement.
"What kind of facts would you be hoping to discover that could collaborate what he's said, he's from an entirely different universe he didn't bring any of his belongings with him," James said. "Dumbledore looked into his memory and that was enough for him to believe him, and don't we all have faith and trust in his judgement?"
"If Dumbledore was here to tell us that himself I think we might be able to see things as you and Lily do, but as of right now we have to look at this situation as two parents who terribly miss their son and are willing to do and say just about anything to try and get him back no matter how terrible he may be." Arthur said softly.
"Well then you can take my word for it, Arthur. The boy is as innocent as your own children," came the gentle voice of Dumbledore as he entered the room with the black robed Severus Snape close behind. "Good evening everyone, I apologize that we must meet here under such grave circumstances but I hope by the time we leave we may be able to provide some answers as to where our dear friend Remus is."
"Albus," James greeted, glad to finally have the old Headmaster here to bring order to the Order. "Do you know anything, is he alive?"
"These are questions that would be best fitted in front of an adult audience would you not agree James?" Albus asked, the old wizards eyes going to rest on Harry. "If you wouldn't mind my dear boy, I am positive there are some old friends of yours outside who I'm sure you would love to see again,"
Taking that as his cue to leave, Harry nodded but was in no hurry to leave the room quickly, his stomach was already becoming tied in knots with the thought of being able to see Ron and Hermione. But then there was also the sickening sensation of wanting to know what happened to Remus.
Stomach flipping and turning with his mind to numb with thoughts, Harry didn't even notice the stars of the Order bearing into him as he walked from the room, his legs carrying him to the kitchen and a window to the outside where he could make out distant figures seated on and around a picnic table. There was a lot of red hair to be found and one frizzy brunette.
Before he could even make up his mind about going out to see the friends who weren't his own, Harry was startled by the gun shot 'POP!' that went off as Sirius Black appeared outside from thin air. The mans dark curls looked similarly greasy to that of Snape and sleepless bags under his eyes, all evidence lead Harry and anybody else to see him to the conclusion he had not slept for quite some time.
Walking towards the kitchens side door, Sirius entered the Burrow without even noticing his Godson's presence until almost knocking him over as he headed towards the living room. "Oh, bloody hell mate... I didn't even see you there, sorry about that."
"It's no problem, Sirius," Harry replied, he offered the haggard man a smile but it didn't seem to do much to lift his Godfathers spirit. "Is everything alight?"
"Everything is fine, work has just been a lot lately and then with Remus... There's just a lot on my plate and it just keeps getting piled up with more," Sirius answered, he let out a yawn and felt for a piece of parchment in the breast pocket of his black leather jacket. "Worse is that when things seem to be going right there's always something that plunges it into the bad."
Harry eyed the paper in Sirius' jacket for a moment but turned to meet the older mans gaze. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"If there was your parents would murder me for even suggesting it." Sirius said, again his hand felt for the parchment as if making sure it was still there.
"They're not really my parents, I can make my own decisions and if there's anything I can do to help find Remus or anything else, I want to do it." stated Harry.
"They're your parents in every sense, Harry. And I respect your noble offer but I'd have to decline, what kind of Godfather would I be to put you at risk," Sirius replied, he looked off into the direction of the living room then back at Harry. "I'd better go and check in with the Order, I'm already running late. Keep practising that spell I taught you, hopefully soon I can teach you some more."
"I will." agreed Harry, he took the light punch to his arm from Sirius then watched as the man left. Looking to the window he could still see who he knew to be his sister and old friends, but his Godfather's words left him with a cliffhanger and a need to see that piece of parchment.
Waiting a few seconds to let his Godfather get some distance, Harry quietly crept after him, the voices of the Order growing clearer the closer he got to the living room. Pressing his back up against the wall outside of the living room, he slowly peaked around the corner to find Sirius close, with the room so packed with people there wasn't much of a choice to go stand. Even more odd was that his Godfather's jacket was off and draped along the arm rest of a near sofa where Mundungus sat.
Crouching down, Harry gave a look over to make sure the coast was clear or clear enough not to be noticed as he crawled on hands on knees towards Sirius' jacket. Looking up at Mundungus who seemed raptly focused on the discussions going on, he reached up and felt along the leather until his fingers brushed the crisp paper. Working it gently from the pocket, he gripped it in his fist and crawled out from the room. When he was hidden behind the wall he took one more peak around the corner before unfolding the parchment to read.
As you are now well aware your friend Lupin has been taken, as your brother I reach out this hand despite our differences so that we may both retain what we've lost. I have arranged for the werewolf to be kept in kind condition and free of harm, that being said he can be returned to you in that same condition in exchange for Harry Potter. A single term that is not negotiable.
If you accept this proposed offer you must not inform any member of your precious Order. You must not inform any of your fellow employees at the Ministry. You must come with just Harry, if you are seen with anyone else Lupin dies. This is the only chance you will be offered, I implore you not to ruin this or be thick headed as to believe you truly care for Potter and not take this trade.
Meet at Trafalgar Square tonight at eleven, do not be late. Remember, this is your only chance to get your friend back in one piece, or never see him again.
Looking up from the piece of parchment, Harry peered down at the written letter and more specifically the meeting place. Could he give himself up to save another, if he did give himself up, what would they do with him. Surely they wouldn't be as kind as they were before considering his elaborate escape and inability to cooperate with them. He had witnessed Voldemort torture his own men for less, it wouldn't be to far off to expect a lengthy pain filled sentence under the cruciatus curse.
Even more importantly how would he get there, he was certain Sirius wouldn't just let him turn himself over that easy, then again something about this made Harry think Sirius wanted him to see the letter. The tapping of it in the kitchen and then the entirely all to easy access to it in the meeting room. Maybe all he had to do was talk to Sirius.
Getting to his feet, Harry tip toed back into the kitchen. The clock hanging on the wall providing him with the time, nine thirty. He had an hour and a half to make up his mind and get to Trafalgar square if he decided to give himself up to Voldemort and his Death Eaters, not an easy decision to make when he thought back to his first arrival to this world.
Turning to the window, he looked back out to the group of kids lounging around the picnic table, his friends or people who were his friends just talking, having fun, appearing as if they were care free. He yearned to be with them, share a laugh and not feel the weight of the hefty burden of a decision he had took on upon himself, if only he hadn't grabbed Sirius` letter but he quickly shook the thought from mind when his mind turned to abandoning the first man to truly be welcoming of him in this world. Lupin had been kind to him in this world and the one he called home, he knew right then and there that there wasn't a chance he'd leave the man in the hands of the merciless Death Eaters.
Dragging his eyes from the joyful group surrounding the picnic table to the Weasley`s makeshift broom shed, his hand tightened around Sirius` letter. With a swift glance cast over his shoulder to make sure he wasn`t being watched he dashed from the kitchen, his feet carrying him faster and faster until he was at a full tilt run from the Burrow to the broom shed, his mind wasn`t thinking on anything anymore other than the time and Trafalgar Square. His fingers gripped the handle of the broom sheds door and yanked it open, inside standing along the sheds wall was half a dozen brooms, his eyes grazed over them before taking the newest looking one, even then for the Weasley`s it was still pretty old and used looking.
Walking from the shed, broom in hand and panting, he spared a glance to the picnic table and was surprised to find eyes peering back at him, so maybe he wasn`t as stealthy as he thought. Checking his pocket to make sure he had his wand, he mounted the broom and pushed off from the ground, a few figures by the picnic table made to move towards him but he took off into the sky before anything could transpire.
The wind rushed against him as he flew forward, his clothes rippling fiercely as he pushed the broom to its limits, the ground below was just a blur with the speed he was travelling at. He only slowed down when he had to use the Four-Point spell to make sure he was going in the right direction. After a while his hands grew sore from gripping the broom but he knew he was getting closer, he had gone from farm fields to rural suburbs and finally what seemed like hours he hit the outer limits of London, there were enough noticeable landmarks to know he had made it. As he flew past the Westminster clock tower more commonly known as Big Ben he knew he was just shy of fifteen minutes before he had to meet the person of Sirius` letter.
With his wand guiding him, Harry felt his heart begin to race when he spotted the square down below, it was filled with unsuspecting muggles enjoying the view of the fountains and statue unaware of their meeting to the magical world. Tilting the broom handle down, he began a slow descent, his eyes surveying the square as he went for suspicious looking people, but for all he could tell there was just a bunch of mesmerized muggles now staring up at him and pointing as he grew closer. As his feet touched down and he dismounted the broom, he began to feel claustrophobic as the muggles started to form a crowd around him, most of their mouths agape and eyes wide open.
"RAB?" Harry called out, his eyes going from face to face until he stopped at the sight of someone pushing his or her way through the crowd. Arm raised, he poised the tip of his wand at the oncoming direction of the person pushing through.
So focused on what he perceived was an oncoming threat Harry didn't even notice the other threat pushing through the crowd behind him until he felt a wand pressed against the nape of his neck.
"Drop your wand, Potter." hissed a voice from behind.
"Where is Remus?" questioned Harry in return, his wand still levelled towards a black cloaked man now standing in front of him. His eyes locked with Harry's through the eye holes of his mask.
"The wolf will be released just as soon as you lower your wand." Answered the voice behind him.
From his peripherals Harry could make out a muggle take an unsure step forward. "W-What's going on here?" the man asked tentatively.
The reply the man got wasn't quite what he was probably expecting when the Death Eater in front of Harry raised his wand at the man and sent him flying back, knocking down a few other muggles in the process. There were then a series of screams before the chaos and panic had the muggle crowd dispersing in fear. Amidst the horror and fear of the muggles, Harry managed to dart from the man behind him, turning he fired off a stunning hex which was blocked with ease.
Gritting his teeth, Harry's eyes narrowed at the Death Eater who began stalking towards him, the other one circling him with his wand outstretched before him.
"It's over Potter, give it up before you end up getting Lupin killed." called out the voice of the other Death Eater, the voice sounded familiar. Harry recognized it as a similar tone to that of Sirius.
Crouching down, Harry debated his surrender but for the greater good which was Remus' safety. He dropped his wand and raised his hands over his head. "Where is Remus?"
With the Death Eater who sounded similar to Sirius' coming to stand right in front of him, Harry wasn't all to surprised when the man removed his mask to reveal Regulus.
"Bring out the wolf." ordered Regulus to his partner. The other Death Eater gave a nod and pointed his wand to the sky, a flash of dark purple light shot from it like a flare into the nights sky and illuminated the square, a second later an apparition 'POP!' had two figures appearing. One was a standing Death Eater with a large imposing figure clutching the lifeless wrist of a pale, gaunt Remus Lupin.
"He's dead." said Harry, his voice flat and his heart sinking to his stomach. "You killed him... This was just a trap, you were never going to return him alive..."
"He allied himself with the wrong side, he had it coming." Regulus said, he looked at the emotion of loss etched on Harry's face before kneeling to pick up the boys wand. "Welcome back, Harry. Or should I say, welcome to our world?"
Lunging forward, Harry's fingers fumbled around Regulus' neck, he could see red and feel the rage boiling over him as he pictured Lupin's slumped body as he held onto Regulus' throat with the determination of killing the man, Harry's chance was taken from him as the large bulky Death Eater who had brought Lupin pulled him off of Regulus.
Gasping for air for a moment, Regulus slowly got to his feet. "Take the boy to the Dark Lo-" he stopped mid sentence at the sight of three figures riding brooms coming towards them from above the city skyline. "We've got company, defensive positions!"
Flying at a distance from his twin brothers, Ronald Weasley could clearly make out the Death Eaters below surrounding the person they believed to be Neville Longbottom. Swallowing hard, he looked over to George and Fred. "I've got a bad feeling about this, I think we should go back to the Burrow and make sure the Order knows."
"Hermione and Ginny are off telling them so it's only a matter of time before they follow us here. We've got to save Neville by keeping these Eaters busy long enough for them to get here." George called back in reply, but even he could feel the drum beat of his heart against his chest. He never really was one to be nervous but then again he had never put himself in a situation like this before.
"It's a bit to late to discuss now, watch out! INCOMING!" Fred warned, tugging hard on the broom handle to swerve himself out of the way of a flash.
The sky went off like a spectacle of fireworks with the spells the Death Eaters were sending up above. The Weasley brothers were able to evade most of them until they began blowing up like mines, the shock wave from one knocked Fred from his broom.
Yelling at the top of his lungs as he plummeted towards the concrete of the square, thankfully for Fred though George had swooped down through the barrage of spells and grabbed a hold of his twin, the weight of them both however was more than the old broom could handle and it started to lower down to the infuriated Death Eaters.
When touched down, the twins made to engage their foe but their enemy was quicker and more experienced. Fred was disarmed as soon as he drew his wand and as for George he got the short end of a Cutting jinx to his wand arm.
"Bloody hell mate, your arm!" exclaimed Fred, his eyes fixed on his brother bleeding arm.
"I'm fine, I think we have a bigger problem to worry about." George replied, as the two accompanying Death Eaters of Regulus' approached them. "Easy now blokes, we just want our mate back."
"Fat chance of that," growled one Death Eater. "Stupefy!"
George dropped like a sack of potatoes, Fred caught him in his arms and gently brought to him to lay down. Swallowing hard everything around him seemed to become a blur, it was just him and the two Death Eaters before him but out of know where a dark haired teen came running toward the first Death Eater, slamming his shoulder into the large mans back sending him to face plant on the ground.
The other Death Eater sneered and swished his wrist around in a circle preparing to take Harry down, but he like his comrade was blindsided when a flash of red flew by his head followed by Ron Weasley, gripping onto his broom with one hand and his wand in the other, he was flying low just a foot or two off ground and speeding towards his brothers.
"Stupefy! Stupefy! Stupefy!" Ron cast over and over again, his spells zig zagging and sailing towards the Death Eater who in return raised a shield charm.
Watching as the boy who would be his best friend raced forward to the Death Eater so unlike the Ron he knew, instinct kicked into Harry when he saw Regulus casting a spell in the background. "RON! WATCH OUT!"
The freckled teen looked over at his name being called and was hit from the opposite direction, it felt like a punch to his side that made him lean forward, the front end of his broom dug into the ground splintered into a bunch of wooden slivers and sent Ron sliding across the concrete. Harry watched as the red haired teen attempt to get to his feet but a stunning hex to his back had him passing out.
"You're not Neville." Harry heard from behind, looking over his shoulder to a kneeling Fred. He shook his head.
"Who are you?" asked Fred, his body protectively shielding George's.
"Harry Potter." he answered, stepping from George, he made way to Regulus'. In the distance he could hear the roaring of muggle police sirens coming their way. Ready to plead for Regulus' to let the Weasley's go he wasn't even given the chance before a stunning spell hit him between the shoulder blades from behind.
The large bulky Death Eater he had knocked down was back on his feet and heaving in anger. "Bloody snot nosed brat, should've given him a taste of my cruciatus."
"Good thing you decided not to or you would be getting more than a taste of mine," Regulus snarled, he walked over to unconscious Harry and used his foot to roll the boy onto his back. "We haven't much time now, you two grab the red heads and apparate back to the Dark Lord's. Leave the wolf here for the Order."
The two Death Eaters nodded and moved towards the Weasley's, the larger Death Eater took the twins, with one hand at the scruff of Fred's clothes while he slung George's lanky body over a shoulder. The other Death Eater grabbed onto a hold of Ron's hair. Just as they were about to take off the sound of arriving apparitions could be heard all around them.
Regulus could make out his brother and Harry's father in the distant racing towards them with their wands out. They were screaming something he couldn't quite hear nor did he care. Closing his eyes with one hand securely on Harry, he visualized his destination and felt himself be stretched and snapped like an elastic band then shoved through a very thin tube.
All that was left behind at Trafalgar Square bar the soft sound of rushing water from the fountains was a few old brooms, a couple of wands, one dead Remus Lupin and a load of angry, grieving Order Members left cursing in the Death Eaters wake.
A/N: So who didn't think this story would ever be updated? Lol if you did, I am with you alas I proved myself wrong. Now I apologize for the long wait and will do my best to try and get this wrapped up but i'm sure I have promised that before haven't I? Anyways I enjoyed every comment you all left even the angry ones haha, but thank you for taking the time to read and leave a message it's always nice to get a bit of encouragement and see what you thought of it. Until next time folks, take care!