Notes: no pairings, semi-HBP compliant, BEING REWRITTEN. Thank you for the patience. Also, beta'd by imadoodlenoodle, who's a dear for sticking with me and being ever helpful; and Brackets, who's invaluable for kicking my butt. Many thanks to both!
They were at war.
Through the heat of a dozen duels, Harry caught sight of Bellatrix prowling up behind the twins. Her grin was bloodthirsty. He sprinted after her but was too slow. The red of her spell lit up her target, and he watched in horror as Fred Weasley collapsed to the floor, screaming and writhing blindly. Crucioed. At once, his brother was kneeling beside him, but a moment later George was mowed down too.
Harry's wand was aloft before he realized it.
Bellatrix twisted away, a flash of purple illuminating her surprise. It was replaced by amusement when she caught sight of Harry.
"Why, it's little Harry Potter." She tossed her head, her manner extravagant and drunken, the ragged curls coiling atop her head like snakes. "Using the Sectumsempra, Potter? How 'dark' of you."
She clapped her hands, gleeful and mocking, and Harry felt a bone-deep exhaustion well up inside himself. He was so sick of the fighting, the pain, the constant worry that someone he cared for might be hurt. He was sick with the stench of death. The battle had raged since morning, and he wanted nothing more than to see its end.
Bellatrix was laughing now, stalking forward as he backed away cautiously. Above him, wayward spells sailed left and right, prickling his skin with the buzz of magic. He knew she was forcing him into the middle of the fight, but to what end, he had yet to discover.
She didn't speak again until he was surrounded on all sides by Death Eaters, their wands readied but not poised to attack. "You know, Potter, as we all know, that you would have been a wonderful addition to the Dark Lord's forces."
The words were a slap.
"What?" He clutched his wand fiercely, his knuckles turning white from the force of his restraint.
"Don't—play—dumb." She punctuated each word with a jab of her wand. "We all know you're denying your true nature. You play the part of the Golden Boy, but I haven't forgotten last May, Potter. You used the Cruciatus, don't you remember?"
At that, a ripple of unease traveled through the assembled crowd. Harry gripped his wand even harder, staying silent.
"It's a pity you never realized your true potential. You would have been amongst the greatest of Slytherins." She laughed again. "But it's much too late now."
Her eyes slid beyond Harry, and he whipped around. Behind him, the people had scattered, providing a clear view to the crumbling fountain.
A figure loomed before it.
Harry's stomach sank.
"Potter," said Voldemort, smiling, twirling his wand casually, "you're a fool if you still believe you can win."
The Dark Lord gestured to the countless bodies littering the floor. They were broken dolls, bloodied and torn. A lump rose in Harry's throat. He knew Voldemort was right. Today had been a mistake; the battle was already lost.
Voldemort raised his yew wand.
"Allow me to take care of your comrades," said the Dark Lord, and the irony was not lost on Harry as a web of light flew through the atrium, ensnaring every one of Voldemort's opponents. Harry watched in horror as Ginny, closest to him, choked under her bonds, struggling. The Death Eaters swarmed in the interim, forming a ring around the standoff.
"Now we can have a proper duel." Voldemort's voice was soft, his eyes glittering dangerously.
"And then?" asked Harry. He was surprised by the strength in his voice.
"Then, once I undoubtedly win, I will establish a new order. All those who have opposed me today will be killed."
Harry's chest constricted, his heart thudding painfully. He couldn't let so many people die because of him, but at the same time, he knew there was no way for him to win. The last of Voldemort's Horcruxes had yet to be destroyed.
"You have another option, of course," Voldemort offered with a sharp grin, sensing Harry's dilemma. "You can surrender, and I shall show leniency to your comrades."
It was a lie, a teasing offer that Voldemort didn't expect him to accept.
"I'm not a fool," said Harry, too bold as always. "You'd never honor your promise."
Voldemort's eyes flashed. "Do not throw stones, Potter, unless you wish to arm your opponent." In the ensuing silence, the room's tension mounted. Voldemort continued in little more than a whisper. "Nevertheless, I have my own reasons to keep these fighters alive. They could prove useful."
Harry gritted his teeth, fighting the tide of outrage he felt at the way Voldemort spoke of Harry's friends as though they weren't human, merely objects to further a goal.
"So how do you respond, Potter? Do you choose to surrender? Or to fight?" Either way, you will die.
Harry smiled without humor. There was no choice, really. He couldn't win, and if there was the slightest chance that he could save the others from their gruesome deaths, he'd take it. He guessed, wryly, that perhaps he'd inherited a penchant for martyrdom from his mother. Every gaze was on him as his fingers uncurled. His wand dropped to the ground with an unceremonious clatter.
Voldemort laughed, triumphant. "You choose to surrender, do you?"
He waved his wand, and Harry flinched before forcing himself to still. A moment later, his limbs were snapped taut, immobilized.
"It's done." Voldemort surveyed the atrium, sneering. His voice echoed over the crowd. "Harry Potter, your Savior, was never more than a foolish boy." Disdainful, he turned to Harry. "Let me teach you a lesson for defying me, Potter."
It was all Harry could do to keep breathing. He sensed what was coming next, and from the stifled gasps around him, it seemed his friends did too.
When the spell hit, everything went black.
. . .
Harry awakened, aching and disoriented. The air was sterile, stifled, the world around him blurred. He didn't know where he was. For a fleeting moment, he hoped he'd returned to Hogwart's Hospital Wing. Then his memories returned in a sudden rush: the Ministry, the battle, Voldemort. He buckled under their weight. How had he managed to escape death again?
He sat up slowly, groping for his glasses, and heard a voice exclaim, "You're awake!"
Startled, he jerked his arm back to rest on the bed. In front of him stood a man in a white coat, his concerned expression growing clearer as he neared.
"How are you feeling?" asked the man. Harry assumed he was a doctor.
"Tired, but otherwise fine, sir," Harry replied uncertainly. His voice sounded strange to his ears, pitched higher than he remembered. But if the doctor thought anything of it, he gave no hint.
"Good, good! What's your name, son?"
At the question, Harry's insides churned. If the man didn't know him, then he was certainly in Muggle territory. That left the question of where he was, exactly, and how he had gotten there.
"Harry," he said.
"P—" He stopped. It would be stupid to reveal his identity when he didn't even know where he was. "Pennington," he finished after a beat, plucking the name from an old book he'd read for DADA. If he remembered correctly, the Penningtons were a Slytherin line that had died out long ago.
The doctor jotted down the name on a clipboard. When he finished, he cleared his throat. "All right, Harry, I'm Dr. Richards. You're in the Children's Ward of the Royal London Hospital, and you've been unconscious since they brought you in a week ago."
Harry stared at the man, incredulous, his mind whirling rapidly. He'd been in the hospital for a week. Anything could have happened in a week—a week he'd spent in the Children's Ward—and suddenly he felt too old to be called a child.
"It's August eighteenth, if you were wondering."
"August?" he echoed faintly. His head spun. It'd been July, the Ministry battle just days before his birthday.
"Right," confirmed the doctor, studying Harry curiously. "August eighteenth, nineteen thirty-eight. That surprises you?"
Harry felt the air knocked out of him. Surprised wasn't the right word. Blindsided, maybe. He sat frozen in disbelief, the doctor's words loud in his ears, audible even over his thundering heart. Was this a cruel joke, he wondered, a dream?
This was impossible.
"Harry?" The voice seemed to come from far away. Harry forced himself to focus. "Does that surprise you?"
Harry swallowed, taking a sharp breath, and nodded.
Dr. Richards set down his clipboard with a castanet clack, folding his hands thoughtfully. "Do you recall any recent accidents? Injuries?"
What could Harry say? He couldn't tell the truth. "No, nothing, sir."
"What's the last thing you remember?"
The despair on his friends' faces, the green of the Killing Curse burned into the back of his eyelids. "I—I don't..."
"You don't remember? Anything?" the doctor asked, his forehead crinkled. Harry blinked, processing the words, and realized they were his way out. If he pretended not to remember his past, he wouldn't have to recall it.
"Yes." It was the first firm word he had uttered since waking. "I don't remember anything."
"This is unusual," admitted the doctor, who picked up his clipboard briskly to scribble down a note, "but not unheard of. The nurse will need to give you some tests."
Tests? Harry felt abruptly overwhelmed. Everything was happening too fast. He needed time to think, to breathe.
He asked to use the toilet first. When he made to slide off the bed, the doctor reached out a steadying hand.
"Harry, are you nearsighted?" Apparently, he'd noticed the boy's squint.
Harry said he was, and Dr. Richards noted it on his chart.
Walking to the bathroom felt odd to Harry. The floor was smooth under his feet, the doorknob cool in his grasp, but something about the experience seemed distinctly wrong. He pushed open the door, taking a tentative step inside, and gasped. He stepped forward, then stepped forward again, and was soon so close to the mirror that his breath fogged up the glass. Numb, he pressed his hands gingerly over his features, dazed with disbelief.
The mirror reflected a face he hadn't seen in six years. Watching his reflection avidly, he traced his trembling fingers over his features and found both to be smaller and younger than he remembered. Yet his eyes were as green as ever, and the angry scar still marred his forehead. He was still Harry Potter, but he wasn't sixteen.
He was eleven.
He turned on the faucet shakily and splashed the stream of water onto his face, bracing himself. It was cold, temporarily blinding, but when he blinked away the droplets, his appearance remained unchanged. Taking a deep, steadying breath, he turned off the water and backed away. He was being silly. Washing his face wouldn't wash away the youth. He finished quickly and returned outside. There, the doctor was waiting for him, conversing animatedly with a nurse. They both looked up at his entrance, and Dr. Richards made introductions.
"Harry, this is Nurse Shelley. She will be conducting your tests today."
Nurse Shelley was thin, overwrought and pale. Her blonde hair was streaked with gray strands, and she toyed with them constantly as she led Harry through the wing and into a small room. A scale awaited them, along with a simple bed and a table of instruments. Harry submitted to the measurements she took, and it wasn't long before she left. The optician arrived next, shuttling him to another room with a letter chart on the wall. When Harry failed to read the fourth line, the optician clucked about the poor state of his eyes.
"Well, we'll send you the glasses in a week's time," he said. "You'll just have to make do for now."
Harry was taken to a small dining hall afterward. It was dingy but clean, with little chairs at little tables. It was an odd hour between lunch and dinner, silence weighing heavily on the room. Harry barely noticed. His mind was entirely elsewhere.
He recalled the battle, the Killing Curse. He recalled surrendering, felt sick.
In fifth year, he had been tricked into believing a lie. It had cost Sirius' life.
This, here and now, could be a lie also.
As much as it went against the Gryffindor grain, he resolved not to be reckless. He'd watch carefully until he knew what was going on. There had to be wizards here—Dumbledore, even—but he was wary of trusting too easily.
This could be a lie.
While Harry had been embroiled in his internal debate, a man had approached him. Harry turned around, looking up, and felt his jaw slacken.
The man had mussed black hair and hazel eyes. Judging by the laugh lines around them, he was in his early fifties. He looked like an older version of James Potter.
The man's reaction to Harry was similarly shocked, his eyes widened in a stare, but he recovered quickly. "Hello," he said again, "Harry, right? Dr. Richards asked me to speak to you. I'm a mind healer—a psychiatrist, I mean. My name is Charles Potter."
Harry's heart gave an extra hard thud. His lungs seemed to threaten to give. He shook the proffered hand feebly, wondering if Charles' name and appearance could be a coincidence. It didn't seem likely.
"Pardon my staring," Charles was saying. "It's just that you look quite like my own son. But he's an adult now, married and contributing to society."
He winked good-naturedly, and Harry felt his lips pull into a weak smile. He didn't know what to say, so he stayed quiet.
Charles glossed over the silence easily. "As I was saying, I'm here because Dr. Richards believes you have amnesia. I don't know much about the situation, I'm afraid, but I'm hoping you can help me out. I understand that you can remember your name?"
"Can you remember any others? Ones that sound familiar?"
Harry shook his head.
"Places? Do you know if you're from London?"
Harry shook his head again. "I'm sorry."
"No, no, don't be sorry." Charles hummed thoughtfully, rubbing his chin. "Let's assume that you are, for now." He took out a pen and a small pad of paper from his jacket, beginning a list of street names. "Tell me if any of these stand out to you in particular."
Harry said that none of them did.
"Well, probably not a Londoner, then." Charles didn't appear deterred. "How about major events. Do you remember any?"
"What do you mean?"
"For example, when did the Great War happen?"
Harry wasn't sure if answering would be good or bad. "Nineteen-fourteen through nineteen-eighteen?"
"That's right!" Potter beamed, apparently glad for the small breakthrough.
Over the next half hour, Charles asked a wide array of questions. The more personal they became, the harder it was for Harry to lie. He suspected some of his answers were inconsistent, but with no way of knowing the other's thoughts, he couldn't be sure. He didn't know how much to give away. Charles was unwaveringly patient, kind, and Harry felt an affinity to him. When Charles asked if Harry had ever caused anything strange—"as if by magic," the man said—Harry nearly confessed his secret. He had to force himself to deny it, though, because related or not, he couldn't trust Charles.
At the end of their session, the man stood, offering his hand again for Harry to shake. It was then that Harry realized his fists had been clenched the entire time, his nails leaving half-moon indents just below his knuckles. He hoped Charles didn't notice.
"Unfortunately," the man said, apologetic, "there isn't much I can do for you. I will, of course, continue visiting to check up on your progress."
His eyes probed Harry's searchingly, and for a second, Harry thought the man was going to say something else. But the moment passed, and Charles turned away. He seemed hesitant, almost disconcerted.
Clearing his throat, he offered Harry a smile. "Good luck in the future, Harry."
Harry nodded mutely, watching as Charles walked out the door.
Later, Nurse Shelley found him staring blankly into an unfinished bowl of soup. "Didn't eat all your food, hm? A lot of people are going hungry out there, you know."
Contrite, Harry's gaze snapped up to meet hers. "Sorry. I lost my appetite."
"And why is that?" she asked as she led him away.
Harry mumbled something incoherent, and much to his relief, she didn't pry. Back in the original wing, Dr. Richards was awaiting him, ready to share the results of Harry's exams: excepting the amnesia, he was normal in every way. When Dr. Richards finished speaking, Harry couldn't help but ask whether Charles Potter had mentioned anything else.
The doctor mistook Harry's concern for displeasure over the diagnosis. "I'm sorry, but I doubt Mr. Potter has misdiagnosed you. He's one of our few mind experts—it's truly a pity he doesn't work here full time."
The last part was said musingly, as though to himself.
"Where else does he work?" asked Harry.
"Oh, another institution... I can never remember its name." With that, Dr. Richards patted him on the shoulder and left.
Harry didn't sleep well that night. He had a nightmare about the battle. Everyone around him was dying in agony, screaming as the Ministry atrium shifted into the graveyard. Harry was tied down, nearly drowned in a pool of his own blood, with Nagini slithering around him, taunting him gleefully. He spat at her and woke up speaking Parseltongue.
Not long afterward, Dr. Richards arrived. In the gray morning light, Harry could see a line of worry in his brow.
When the doctor opened his mouth to speak, he looked as if he wanted to ask Harry something but instead said, "We've found a place for you to stay."
Harry nodded for him to continue.
"It's an orphanage in London."
"An orphanage?" That wasn't unexpected. He had no one here, after all.
"Yes, one that's managed by a lady named Mrs. Cole. It's called Wool's."
Harry didn't know whether to laugh or to cry.
Will you put up the chapters of the old Juxtaposition? I appreciate the polite inquiries but no. It was taken down for a reason.
Will this plot follow the old one? Again, no. It was originally intended to follow the old one, but it didn't work out that way.
Why not write this in a new entry? Because so many people have this one on alert, I thought it'd be simpler this way. Looking back, I realize I could've done things differently.
What happened to the placeholder chapters? Technically, they violated TOS. And since my story was already deleted once, I didn't want to give fanfic admin another reason to do that.
How often will you update? It will be time, once it is time.