I have a lot I want to say about this story. I've been writing it off and on for a couple years--really only a year and a half, but somewhere in the middle my computer crashed and I went a year without any way to work on this--and I'm glad it's finally gotten to the point where I feel comfortable posting it. Aside from "So Not Myself," I think it's my longest finished fan fiction--it might be longer than "So Not Myself," I haven't even checked. I'm a bit proud of it--I really learned to like some of the characters I normally avoid.
The origin of the story: Many years ago I read a well-written, but unfortunately unfinished story in which Harry wakes up and realizes that Hogwarts was a dream. In it, Draco was a hippie and Snape wore--if I remember correctly--sandals. I couldn't force myself to depart from characters that far and I don't think I would want to, but the idea has hung around, prickling at my brain when I have nothing else to think about.
If the unfinished hippie-Draco story is yours (I looked for it, but couldn't find it again), this is one's for you. Finish your story and send me the link: I really liked it. ^_^
Quick note: this story is finished, but many of the later chapters need to have a fine edit done on them, so I'll be posting in chunks (probably one a week).
Disclaimer monkeys tell me I don't own any of this and I feel inclined to believe them. I hope you all enjoy reading and please review.
Stretching and yawning, Harry rolled over on his side, wincing as he did so. There was a sharp pain in his head. Squinting through the sunlight, he felt around the bedside table for his glasses. There was too much light...and no hangings to draw....he must be in the hospital wing. That would be the only explanation....
"Where did I-- Here they are," he muttered sleepily, picking up the warm frames and putting them on. The blurry world was suddenly focused and it took only a second for him to realize that he was most certainly inot/i in the hospital wing at Hogwarts.
A huge bay window with straight, blue curtains was thrown wide open, letting light and heat stream into a large bedroom. There was a small dresser covered in trinkets, and a desk with books and papers stacked neatly on it. The bed he was lying on was large and comfortable, spread with layers of blankets and comforters. The walls were papered with posters of people he had never seen before. Some of them were playing musical instruments and others were playing soccer or doing sports tricks on bikes and snowboards.
Looking around frantically, Harry tried to find something he recognized. There was nothing. It was all foreign. Climbing out of bed, wobbling as he tried to balance on his feet, he braced himself on the bedside table.
"OK," Harry told himself slowly, rubbing his sore forehead. "There is a very good explanation for all of this. You just need to find it." What was the last thing he could remember? They were in Hogsmeade. Ron and Hermione were bickering about something they were supposed to be looking for, and he was... The memory faded like a dream.
Making his way tentatively to the door, Harry turned the knob. He peered out into a hallway that looked as normal as any he had ever seen. Still photographs on the wall depicted several older, and some much younger, people.
They aren't moving. A muggle house, he thought, poking at one of the pictures.
Feeling a little more steady on his feet, Harry ran his hand along the wall just in case he got dizzy. Making his way slowly down the hall, he came to the top of a flight of stairs. They were carpeted in brown, with a heavy railing down one side. From the floor below, he could hear voices. Trying not to make noise, not entirely sure he was even suppose to be in this muggle house, Harry crept down the stairs.
"I won't do it. The visiting nurses come to give him his injections, and that's all he needs. They say there's nothing else they can do for him there, so he's staying home." It was a woman's voice. Firm, laced with a hint of fear.
Looking around the corner, Harry saw a glass door at the end of the hall, the silhouettes of two people playing across its smoky front.
"I don't like it any more than you do, but Dr. Brown says it's for the best."
"Dr. Brown's not the authority in charge, is he?"
"I trust his opinion more than old Doc Crawford's," the man retorted.
Too wrapped up in trying to pick out what they could be talking about, Harry missed the next step with his foot and fell forward, catching himself against the wall with a loud bang! "Ouch!" He wasn't sure if he should rub his head or his wrist, for both were throbbing painfully.
The glass door opened.
"Who's out-- James! Harry!"
Looking at the woman who stood as still as if she was petrified by the sight of him, Harry's mouth fell open. It was his mother. Her face was tired and her eyes--her glowing, lively, green eyes--were round with surprise. Harry suddenly felt very much like he was going to pass out.
"What do you mean, 'Harry?' What are you...." The man who came out of the other room behind Lily was short-ish with messy black hair. "Harry," he breathed.
A huge lump had formed in Harry's throat and he could barely breathe. This was a dream. This was some terrible, wonderful dream that he never wanted to wake up from.
Lily suddenly came to life, closing the distance between her and Harry in two long strides. She wrapped an arm around him carefully. There were tears in her eyes. "You're awake," she said softly.
James, too, began to move, walking into the adjoining room briskly. "He's going to fall over again. Get him to the couch." He cleared the throw pillows off the nearest end of the couch, then he dashed across the room and picked up a phone that was hanging on the wall, furiously dialing.
Once Harry was safely seated on an over-stuffed, brown leather couch, his mother's supportive arm still around him, he finally managed to speak. "Mum?"
"Oh, honey. We thought you'd never--I mean, we hoped, but they said--" She broke off, her voice failing. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. "I was so scared," she whispered, pulling him into a gentle hug.
What's going on? Am I dead? Harry wondered. Deciding there could have been stranger answers to this riddle, he voiced his concern.
With a short, nervous sort of laugh, James sat on Harry's other side. He almost seemed afraid to touch him. "No, Harry. You're fine. You'll be fine. Dr. Crawford is on his way over."
"Where am I? What happened?" Trying to look around too quickly, Harry ended up having to lean forward and press his hands to his forehead in an effort to stop the nauseating dizziness that swept over him.
Lily brushed his hair back. "You don't remember?"
"There was a car accident."
"No, that was lie," he explained hurriedly. "Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon only said that--"
Looking confused, James said, "Vernon and Petunia?" He looked slightly disgusted at having to say their names. "We haven't seen them since you were small. What brought them into your mind?"
"Since I was-- But just last summer--" The worried looks on his parents' faces made him stop. Harry wasn't sure what was going on, but he was starting to get the feeling that he should shut up and let them explain a few things before they started to think he was crazy. "A car accident?" he asked.
"Last month," his mother explained. "You hit your head and didn't wake up. The doctors said-- But it doesn't matter what they said, because they were wrong. You're awake, you're fine."
"I was in a car accident?"
"Lily, let him be for a minute. He's still probably pretty dazed." Looking at Harry, James said, "I bet you're hungry, huh?"
Now that he thought about it, he was hungry. He was starving. The thought that he hadn't eaten in a month sounded very plausible. "Yeah."
"I'll get you something."
"We don't know if he should be eating," Lily said. "He's been on those vitamin injections. Get him some water." She smoothed Harry's hair back. "You can have something after the doctor's looked at you."
"All right." Settling into the idea that he wasn't dead, though he wasn't sure he agreed that he was "fine," Harry began to look around the house. It was decent sized and tastefully decorated. There was a tall potted plant next to the fireplace and the drapes were light green. On the mantel, he saw several pictures of a boy smiling, playing, and covered with ice cream. He squinted at them. They were of him!
"Those are pictures of me?"
Walking into the room and setting a glass of water on the coffee table in front of Harry--(With a small glare, Lily slipped a coaster under the glass.)--James followed his line of sight. "Yep. All except that last one over there. That ugly mutt's your Uncle Sirius. You remember him, don't you?"
"Sirius." Knowing he should probably stay put, but not really caring, Harry stood quickly and crossed the room with a few shaky steps. He picked up the picture.
"Harry! Sit down!" Lily was at his side in an instant.
Ignoring her, Harry stared at the picture. It was Sirius. He was sitting on a motorcycle, his long, black hair loose around his shoulders. He was grinning. "He's alive?" Harry's voice shook terribly.
"Yeah. He's fine." There was concern in her voice.
Harry looked over at the telephone James used earlier. And then he noticed a television set in the corner. The still pictures in the upstairs hallway.... A muggle house....
The doorbell suddenly rang, bringing Harry back from his thoughts.
"That should be Dr. Crawford." James strode to the hall, returning with a short man with thick glasses and a medical case. "See. I told you. Up, and everything."
"Well, that is quite the surprise." The old man motioned stiffly with his arm. "He really should not be standing up though."
"I tried to tell him just that," Lily replied, trying to steer Harry back to the couch.
Harry complied with little more than an odd look at the short doctor, Sirius's picture still clutched in his hands. He sat down heavily.
"Now, let's get a good look at you, Mr. Potter." Dr. Crawford bustled by the coffee table and set his bag down. Leaning in close to Harry's face, his eyes, already magnified by his huge glasses, growing bigger, he yanked down on Harry's lower eyelid. "Hmm," he said importantly.
James and Lily stood beside each other on the other side of the room, looking on expectantly.
"'Hmm,' what?" Harry asked.
"Your pupils seems fine." The little man pulled a long stethoscope out of his black bag. "Let's have a listen. Shirt up."
Harry set down the picture he clung to and lifted his button down pajama shirt. He winced when the cold metal touched his bare chest.
"Hmm." Dr. Crawford's face crinkled up with thought. "A couple deep breaths." After listening for a moment, he hmm-ed again and pulled the white plugs out of his ears. "Well, he seems all right. We'll want to go ahead and do some tests. Some CT scans." Rubbing his hand repeatedly over his mostly bald head, the doctor looked perplexed. "I just don't understand it."
"He's better?" James asked in disbelief.
"I won't say anything until I see the scans, but he seems to be fine. If you'll follow me back to the hospital, we'll get those done up right away. Just in case anything is going to come up...."
"Harry, honey, you sit there," Lily said, grinning broadly. "I'll get you a jacket."
"He doesn't need a jacket. It's nearly eighty-five degrees out there," James protested.
"He's in his pajamas!" she hissed, leaving the room.
Dr. Crawford, meanwhile, was poking and prodding Harry's ribs. "That hurt?"
He poked harder. "That?"
Scowling, Harry said, "A bit."
Harry glared at him. Looking over the man's head, he saw his father trying not to laugh. His father...
Could this really be real? Could his parents really be alive? It seemed like a cruel joke. Somewhere the Weasley twins were going to pop up and start laughing, shouting, "Fooled you, didn't we?" But they didn't.
"Any memory loss? Do you remember things all right?"
"Me? Oh, umm, I don't..." How was he supposed to explain this? Yes, he remembered quite a bit very well. All of it was about a world with magic and a giant castle of a school called Hogwarts.... "I remember Sirius," he finally said, pointing to the picture.
Lily walked back into the room. "I found your soccer jacket. It was hanging in the laundry room."
Dr. Crawford's brow drew tightly. He seemed to be thinking very hard. "Do you remember your parents?"
Harry was suddenly very aware of his parents staring at him. "Well, yeah, but it's weird. I had a...I guess it was a dream. And they were in it, but none of this," he motioned to the room, "was. I know who they are. I mean, I recognize them, but that's it."
"But you know Uncle Sirius?" James asked.
"He was in my dream, so I recognize him, but I don't know.... I mean, he could be different. In my dream, he went to school with you guys," he explained, looking at Lily and James. "He was really popular and he was really...reckless."
James laughed. "That's Siri."
"Mmm," Lily agreed with somewhat less enthusiasm.
"Well," said Dr. Crawford, snapping his black medical bag shut, "it's not uncommon to have slight memory loss after something as traumatic as you went though. However, it usually comes back in a few days. We'll keep an eye on it." He started to the door. "Shall we?"
Lily hurried to Harry's side and helped him up, wrapping his jacket around his shoulders. She led him out into the sunlight.
What he saw was amazing: a neighborhood with several houses lining both sides of the long street. The houses were all different colors. Some were two-story, some one. They all had well-kept lawns and flowerbeds. Towards the far end of the street, several younger boys were playing basketball in the street. It was a little like Private Drive, but somehow not as oppressive.
After a very short, quiet car ride, Harry and his parents walked up the wide steps to the hospital. Sitting in the waiting room, Harry couldn't help but stare at everyone. Was this his real life? But Hogwarts had seemed so real...
"Something wrong, Harry?"
He shook his head. "I just.... I can't believe it. I mean, I thought...." He didn't want to tell his father he thought he was dead, but at the same time, he didn't know how he should explain what he was feeling. "I just had a very weird dream. It felt so real."
Smiling, James rubbed his son's shoulder. "Well, it's over. You can forget about it."
"Yeah." It's over. A burst of relief and happiness almost too big to keep inside exploded in Harry's chest. No Voldemort. No Death Eaters. His parents--his friends--were all OK. It was just a dream, and now everything was all right.
Harry suddenly felt a burning desire to know what was real and what wasn't. "Dad?"
"Did you have a friend named Remus, too?"
"You don't remember Uncle Remus?"
"Do I call him 'uncle?'" he asked uncertainly.
"Well, you used to."
"Oh. Is Sir--Uncle Sirius my godfather?"
Lily nodded. "God help you if anything actually happened to us."
Harry couldn't help but grin. Maybe this new world wasn't so much different from the old one. He started to wonder if everyone from Hogwarts was there. Ron, Hermione....
Standing up, Harry nodded to the nurse. "Right here."
She led him down the hall to a changing room and handed him a set of clothes. "You can get dressed right in there. When you're finished, go into the office across the hall, right there, and the doctor will be in shortly."
Walking into the bathroom, Harry looked around. It was dim and smelled of too much bleach. Catching a glimpse of his reflection out of the corner of his eye, Harry stopped and turned to the mirror, staring. There, on his forehead, was a perfect lighting bolt scar. He reached up and touched it lightly with his fingertips. It was still stinging slightly.
Getting changed quickly, Harry walked across into the office where his parents were waiting. "How did I get this scar?"
"In the car accident," Lily explained. "Don't worry about it, honey. It doesn't show very much."
"Yeah," James agreed. "And if it doesn't go away completely, you can make up some war story for it. Impress the girls."
A chill went down Harry's spine. To have anyone, let alone his parents, talking about his scar like it was nothing more impressive or important that an ugly mark disturbed and unsettled him.
"James, I'm sure the last thing he's thinking about right now is impressing girls."
Before either James or Harry could reply, the door opened and short, little Dr. Crawford walked in. "Let's get you in the machine and see what there is to see, shall we?" he said pleasantly.
Two hours later, back in his pajamas, Harry walked up the path to the front door of his new house. It still didn't feel familiar in any way, but he was sure it would soon. The doctor had cleared him as healthy. He had to go back for a few follow ups to make sure nothing was going to take a bad turn, but other than that, he was free and clear to resume his normal life, with a few minor, temporary restrictions.
When they walked through the door, James, grinning, picked up the phone.
"Who are you calling?"
"Sirius and Remus should know he's better," James said defensively.
"You can call them, but I don't want them coming over. Harry needs his rest."
As much as Harry appreciated his mother's concern for him, the thought of getting to see Sirius was just too tempting. "I feel fine. I've been resting for a month," he pleaded.
Lily looked back at him.
"Mom, please?" It was funny how easy it was to call her that. He had to smile to himself.
"I don't want you over-doing anything."
"I swear I won't. I'll sit right on the couch and I won't move at all. Promise. Just, please, let them come over."
"Yeah, honey, please?" James added.
Sighing, she shook her head. "I can tell I'm going to have a handful with both of you running around again. All right. But you stay sitting!"
James had already finished dialing Sirius's phone number.
Grinning, Harry followed his mother into the kitchen. It was small and cute, decorated in blue with little white geese. He watched Lily as she opened the refrigerator and took out some sliced ham.
"You can have--What is it?"
Walking over to her, Harry hugged her tightly. "I love you, Mom." Now that he had a moment to just think about it, he felt overwhelmed. His parents were really, truly alive. He could see them and talk to them....
"Sirius is coming...." James's voice trailed off as he walked into the room.
Letting go of his mother, Harry crossed the room and hugged James. "I love you, Dad."
James hugged him back for a second, messing up his hair even more, before pushing him away and hold him by the shoulders at arm's length. "Love you, too," he answered somewhat awkwardly.
Harry looked at Lily, who was wiping tears off her cheeks again. "Go sit," she ordered gently. "I'll bring your lunch when it's done."
Letting go of Harry's shoulders, James glanced at the clock over the stove. "Game's gonna start soon. I'll grab some sodas and meet you on the couch." He messed up Harry's hair one last time then padded towards the refrigerator.
Grinning, Harry watched him for a moment, then turned back to the hall. The trail from the kitchen to the living room already felt familiar. As he sat on the couch and reached for the TV remote, he spotted the picture of Sirius where he'd left it on the coffee table. The remote forgotten, he picked up the photo and started looking at it again.
"Tried to get you a Coke, but Mom said water only for a couple days. Sorry."
"It's fine. Thanks."
James set the drinks on the table with a low thump.
"Use a coaster!" Lily called at the sound.
Making a face, James scooped two coasters out of the little holder and set the glasses on top of them. Settling onto the couch, James grabbed the remote and stretched his legs out as he clicked the TV on and flipped to the sports channel.
Looking down at the red and gold soccer jacket Lily had put on him earlier, Harry recalled Dr. Crawford's warning to stay away from soccer at least until his next check up. Soccer.... "Dad?"
Still looking at the TV, James raised his eyebrows. "Hmm?"
"Do I play soccer for school?"
James grinned proudly. "Best center Eldwood's ever seen. 'Cept for maybe your old man."
Feeling troubled, Harry faced the TV. He watched as the pre game stats rolled down the screen. He didn't remember ever playing soccer. He only remembered Quidditch, that funny game his subconscious must have made up, with broomsticks and Snitches.... He suddenly ached to fly. Was it strange to remember an imaginary sensation of zooming through the air so vividly?
"Do I have a friend named Ron?" he asked suddenly.
Looking away from the stats on the TV, James said, "Course you do. Since you were little." He leaned forward and took his soda.
Harry looked back at the TV. He suddenly felt strange and uncomfortable. He wasn't sure what he should say to his father. He'd never really thought about what he would say if he met James because Dumbledore had made it very clear during first year that he never iwould/i meet him. It was a fantasy he'd banished from his mind almost completely.
"Wheaton's stats are up."
"Oh," Harry said stupidly.
A heavy silence fell around the sound of the announcer who was commenting on the players. Just as it reached an unbearable level, there was a loud bang from the front hall and a deep, throaty voice called, "Coming in!"
James looked up and started to open his mouth, but Harry beat him to the greeting. Completely forgetting his promise to stay sitting, he jumped off the couch and half-ran to the hall. "Sirius!" As he rounded the corner to the hall, Harry skidded to a stop.
What he saw was not the Sirius he knew. The man who stood before him was healthy and handsome. His hair was full and clean, and his eyes were light and dancing. For a moment, Harry didn't recognize him. Then, Sirius laughed and Harry knew exactly who he was.
"Hey, Sleeping Beauty!"
Harry nearly jumped on Sirius, hugging him as tight as he could.
Laughing again, Sirius scruffed up his hair roughly. "Glad to see you, too, kid-o."
"Harry James Potter!"
Harry let go of Sirius and the two turned with slight horror to see Lily standing in the open doorway leading to the kitchen. She was wielding a spatula and looking lethal. She jabbed the spatula towards the living room. "Couch, now!"
Looking sheepish, but grinning uncontrollably, Harry walked back into the living room.
"Good to see you, too, Lily," Sirius said with a charming smile.
"You get him wound up, and you're out the door," she threatened.
"Yes, ma'am." Still grinning, Sirius walked into the living room and sat down between James and Harry. He laughed and shoved Harry's arm lightly. "Should've known you'd have the game on. First thing out of a coma and you wanna watch sports. You're definitely your dad's son."
"Wasn't a coma," James answered, his eyes alight. "I think he was just playing to get out of the last weeks of school."
"Naw, that's something you'd do. Harry's a good boy, aren't you?"
Grinning, Harry shrugged. Come to think of it, he wasn't sure what kind of boy he was. He supposed he was probably like he'd been in his dream.
"Hey, I was just working on the bike when you called. Putting a new fuel injector in her. You and Harry should come over tomorrow and check her out."
James shook his head as he jerked his thumb towards the kitchen and mouthed, "Lily."
Sirius grinned and whispered, "You're one whipped puppy."
Just then, Lily walked into the room with two plates of pan-fried ham and toast. She handed Harry his plate. "There's some on the stove, if you haven't eaten, Sirius."
"Thanks. I'm starved," he said, standing up and stepping over James's legs.
"Yeah. At least this puppy doesn't have to starve on his own cooking," James called, sitting up and taking his plate from his wife.
Lily sat down where Sirius had been. "Remus isn't coming?"
James shook his head. "He has to work all day--planning and meetings. But he said he'd try to make it over tonight. He has a doctor's appointment, too, though, so he's not sure he'll be able to."
Lily nodded solemnly.
Before Harry could ask what Remus was going to the doctor's for, Sirius returned with a huge plate of ham and toast coated thickly with jelly. "Hey, Betty Crocker and I are best friends," he commented to James as if their conversation hadn't been interrupted.
James looked up from his plate. "And that's why your gut's starting to stick out. Too much boxed food'll do that."
Sirius snorted dismissively and squeezed onto the far end of the couch next to Harry. "I like the bachelor life. So, Harry, what's soccer looking like for you?"
Harry shrugged, gulping down his mouthful of ham. "The doctor said not to get too near a field at least until next month when I go back for a check up."
"Yeah, sort of."
"You'll find something else to do between now and then, though."
"Yeah. What about you? What have you been up to?"
"Nothing too important. Just working. I got a new bike a couple weeks ago. A hobby thing, just to fix up."
"Don't know what to name her. I'll probably wait 'til I paint her to pick something."
Settling into an easy conversation with Sirius, Harry could almost forget things had changed so drastically over the past few hours. It felt familiar, just as if he was back at Grimmauld, laughing and having lunch with his godfather. Their chatter went on well into the game, and Harry only looked at the TV when James pointed out that the team they were suppose to be cheering for had made a goal.
When they game ended, Lily stood up and took the dirty plates. "Harry, why don't you go up stairs and get on some regular clothes?"
Harry laughed a little when he noticed he was still wearing his pajamas and jacket. "All right."
As he went up the stairs, he took his time, really looking at the picture on the wall. He recognized himself at various ages. There was a family portrait from a few years ago close to the top of the stairs, and most of the single pictures of Harry were of him in his sports uniform.
When he got to his room, he walked around it, looking more closely at the posters, and riffling through the books on his desk. There were textbooks and magazines he didn't remember ever seeing before. When he got to his dresser, he picked up a framed picture and examined it closely. There were several boys in red and goal uniforms, all grinning out at him. The person in the middle, holding up a tall trophy, was him. Next to him, his arm thrown around Harry's neck, grinning, was Ron.
Harry set the picture down and sat on his bed. Nothing felt right except Sirius, but he supposed he would get use to things soon enough. He had been knocked out for a month, after all. And Dr. Crawford said it was expected that he'd need some time to readjust to his life.
I just have to say I had a sucky time trying to figure out the new story posting thing...I had to post it, like, three times before it was right! I think it's been too long since I published anything here. Bad Suppi....