Switching Places
Chapter Seven // Hi! Remember me?

Disclaimer: Not mine. The End.

James tried to get to Harry's room as soon as they arrived. While they were cajoling the nurse Dr. Burke swept past, pausing just long enough to tell the lot of them to go to the waiting room and stop hectoring the nurses. There was a brief argument and the men found themselves sitting in a row under the window. James put his head in his hands, resigned to waiting. Sirius, on the other hand, whispered plans to Peter, accentuated with agitated hand gestures.

"I need a lab coat and a clip board," Sirius' eyes glittered with visions of storming the ward, striding past the nurses, and slipping into Harry's room.

Peter, pale as a sheet, shook his head every time Sirius looked at him.

"Remus can wear a nurse's robe," Sirius continued, tapping his chin thoughtfully.

"Sirius!" Remus hissed. "This is neither the time nor the place."

"Four doctors walking down the hall is going to look too suspicious," Sirius glared back.

"Hiding in plain sight," Peter mumbled on autopilot. He rather looked like he would be sick.

Sirius slapped him on the back heartily, "That's the idea, Petey-boy."

In the same monotone, "Don't call me 'Petey-boy'."

"Sirius," James said in a weary voice, "Can't you feel the magic in this place?"

"Only a muggle wouldn't," Sirius said, affronted.

"If this is what you feel in the waiting room," James hissed, "Then imagine what will permeate Harry's room. I will not have you endangering my son with one of your plans."

Sirius looked crestfallen.

Remus nudged Peter, "A pair of Aurors just came in. Do you know them?"

Peter watched the pair cross the waiting room toward the main ward, "Yes, that's Avery, a top official." He nodded to one man in blue Auror robes with light brown hair, "and I know the other man's face. He's an Unspeakable. They work together, a sort of detective team."

"They must be here about Harry," Remus looked over at Sirius expectantly.

"I'd assume so," Sirius wore a vaguely thoughtful expression as he watched them.

Remus nudged Peter, "Why don't you two do some snooping?"

"We do not 'snoop', Remus," Sirius stood and pulled Peter up with him, "We are investigating, because no one will tell us anything unless we find it out for ourselves."

When they were gone, James sat with Remus in companionable silence while a hundred horrendous thoughts swirled through his head. The room was half filled with people: adults, children, and the occasional medi-witch/wizard. Just like yesterday and years before that. Anyone of them could have poisoned Harry. His son was unprotected yesterday and he was still very vulnerable now. Their conversations float around the room, words here and there could be heard in the cacophony of sounds: worry, anger, laugher and weeping. It all thudded in James' head, making him very tense. He opened his eyes to stare at the floor and ease his headache. A glance told him Remus was waiting patiently with his hands folded. "So, what did you tell her?" James asked curiously, his face half hidden by the slump of his shoulder.

"I said there was a change in Harry's status and that we were going for a quick check. And could she hold down the fort for a bit," Remus relayed.

James chuckled quietly, "I don't know how you do it. If I told her the same thing everyone would have come, including the house elves."

Remus clasped James' shoulder, "It'll be alright."

"I hope so, Remus," James said, sounding more weary than ever.

About fifteen minutes later Sirius was bodily hauled out of the ward by a large nurse who probably had a giant for an ancestor, followed quietly by an embarrassed Peter carrying a lovely, elaborate flower arrangement. "The next time you're here unsupervised I'm fire calling the Aurors." She dumped him in a chair in the corner and returned to the ward without a backward glance.

Sirius, groaning and rubbing his neck, stalked over to Remus and James, "Bloody woman," he grumbled.

"You are lucky she really didn't fire call the Aurors," Peter said in a steady, anger laced voice. He placed the flowers on the chair opposite himself. "These were given by the Weasleys," he told James, "but the nurse said they can't be in the room anymore."

"I didn't mean to nock over that cart," Sirius whined.

For a moment it looked like Peter was going to snipe right back, but he sighed and carded a hand through his thinning hair. "Dammit Sirius..."

James picked up the card that had been stuffed in between the stems, "It was very nice of them, but I didn't think Arthur would send such a ... large one though." He read the card thoughtfully.

"Did you find anything useful?" asked Remus.

"You were right," answered Peter, "They're here to investigate, interviewing the nurses and aids for the most part."

"Avery's just poking his wand about," grumbled Sirius. He was sulking.

"Mr. Potter?" Dr. Burke had appeared. He stood a few feet from James with an air of tense professionalism.

James put the card back, "Are we allowed to see Harry now?"

"Yes," he put up his hand when all four men stood, "but only one other man can come with you. Harry's condition is stable, but still too delicate for too many visitors." The good doctor took a moment to glare at Sirius.

James noticed, "Come with me, Remus?"

Together the two followed Dr. Burke into the ward, listening to his instructions and warnings. They only had ten minutes.

Even then James wasn't prepared to experience it. The room reeked of medicinal magic, perpetually hanging in the air like a dusty hazy. It clung to his robes and left a tangy taste in his mouth. In the center of it all was a bed with a small looking teenager strung up like a gruesome marionette. Harry's shoulder was in a muggle cast and elevated. His head bandaged and neck stabilized. Everywhere, muggle and magic mixed together in a wretched effort to preserve the boy's life.

"Some of the wounds have opened again," Dr. Burke told him quietly. "They will heal again and we expect a full recovery. However…"

"What?" James sank into the chair in the corner of the room. It had never been returned to the bedside.

"There might be some lingering effects. We aren't sure what was used, but there might be brain damage compounded by the head injury, poison, and lack of oxygen for an extended period."

"I supposed it will all be sorted out once he wakes up then," Remus looked pointedly at the Doctor.

"If he wakes up," Dr. Burke corrected.

James clenched his hands together so they wouldn't shake, "When- when can we take him home?"

"Not for a while yet-"

"If we hire a private nurse to over see his care?" asked James in a tight voice.

"With a referral from you," Remus added.

Dr. Burke considered it, "A week, maybe more. Once the wounds are closed and it's safe to move him. The anti-toxin is working much slower than we expected. The magical field that allowed for his rapid healing before also allowed for the poison to saturate his system. Traces may remain for months. You're son is very, very sick, Mr. Potter. I cannot allow you to move him out of the ward before his recovery is mapped out. I will personally look into a nurse for his care." When the other men assented to his proposal he said, "I will give you some privacy then," and left.

"I always said that Harry would make me prematurely gray," James joked weakly. They silently watched Harry and his tenuous grasp on life. Someone had nearly succeeded in killing his son. Or perhaps did something close enough. His eldest son with Lily's eyes... James lifted his head for a deep breathe of air through his mouth as his stomach twisted up. God, he was going to be sick. "Remus, he can't stay here. I can't let him stay here."

"Yes," Remus replied quietly from somewhere behind him, "But not yet. We'll talk to Dr. Burke about adding security to protect Harry. Perhaps Sirius can get one of his more sober buddies to sit in here?"

"Yes, someone we can trust." James wondered if his werewolf friend could hear the desperation in his voice. He didn't say anything else and Remus didn't prompt him. They stayed until a nurse came to escort them out. Sirius was less than pleased about being kept out and Peter was unusually quiet. Still, the plans were made with the doctor's approval. A few minutes before they left the nurse who carried Sirius out of the ward was sitting unobtrusively in Harry's room, watching and waiting. Tomorrow that seat would be filled by one of Sirius' most trusted Auror buddies. "Basil owes me a favor anyway," Sirius said after the arrangement was made.


On the other side of the universe things were no easier for Harry Evans-Potter. Once Ron shut the portrait, Harry tried to convince Ron that he didn't fancied Hermione. But from the way the conversation was going, he also had to explain that he wasn't overly-afraid of her either.

"So, if she's you're girlfriend, not mine. Never was mine nor will ever be," Harry said carefully while Ron laughed at him, "Why was she acting like that? Like... like she acts around you sometimes?"

"Hermione may be my girlfriend, but she's also one of your best friends here," Ron replied, amused.

"Oh," Harry smirked, "And who's the other one?"

"What?" Ron asked, aghast.

"Kidding," Harry grinned.

"Oh very funny," he huffed.

"Funny is how I look now," Harry pulled at his hair, "I look like such a dork(*)." Ron only laughed nervously and Harry didn't continue.

There was another, persistent question that Harry had to fend off. For the third time Ron asked, "Anything unusual for you here?"

"That suit of armor used to wear a ballet tutu, stand in the Tondue position to try and trip people," Harry deadpanned.

"Really?" Ron's face lit up.

"No," Harry shook his head. "Ron, if there's anything important, I'll tell you. Right now it's just little things."

Harry stopped in front of a tapestry. "Ron, like this here," he grabbed the back of Ron's robes, "I've never seen this tapestry in my life and I have no idea what it refers to."

Ron only gave it a glance before saying, "The fall of Voldemort."

"Oh, that guy again."

Ron glared at him, "He's more than that."

Harry stared at, trying to find its meaning. Obviously the dark specter to the left was Voldemort. There was a crouching, robed figure to the left. Harry thought it might be a woman. Judging from the stiff posture and white threads, she was dead. In the center there was what looked like a butterfly cocoon. Only butterflies don't get halos of light and float in the air when they emerge. Harry looked back to the black-cloaked figure, minutely shrinking away from the bundle of light. "It's allegorical," Harry suggested, then looked at Ron.

Ron knew he had heard Hermione use that word more than once, "It's you."

Harry, shocked, looked back at the tapestry with renewed interest. It wasn't a huge work compared to others that covered the walls in the winter, only covering a small stretch of space. Most of the tapestries that hung year-round were largely generic. For the winter, and especially Christmas, some of the more elaborate tapestries grace the walls of Hogwarts. They gave back some of the color and life lost to the winter nights and bleak surroundings. When it was first made it must have been prominently displayed. However, now it was like any other. He shrugged off the idea that the other Harry was some demi-god. It wasn't possible. It was only artistic license run amuck.

"The kitchens are still behind the fruit still-life, right?" Harry asked. Ron nodded and they continued on.

In the kitchen he was attacked by a house-elf (ok, it was more like a super-hug). As a result he lay sprawled near the door with a jubilant house-elf on his lap. "Harry Potter has come to visit Dobby! Dobby is so happy Harry Potter is safe!" Harry blinked owlishly at the creature while Ron laughed.

After escaping that there was a near miss with Filch. Then, just when he thought he was safe in the common room, Hermione presented him with a huge pile of books to read.

"I thought you got that for a bit of light reading," Ron said around a mouthful of pastry.

"Harry," she said breathlessly, "You need to know what differences there are between the worlds." She pushed a well-worn copy of Hogwarts, a History toward him urgently. "Who knows what kind of blunders you could make!"

"You're confidence in me is astounding..." he muttered in turn, pushing the book away with a sticky finger.

"It will be easier now, with most of the students being home for the holidays. Once they're back you'll have to deal with every nuance of our world. Even the most minute differences can be trouble," she lectured.

Harry sort of turned her out at "nuance", remembering once when Rose was very little she yelled at him for using such big words she didn't know. Things may be different here, he thought, but Hermione still knew how to preach about learning and proper study.

Harry leaned toward Ron, "Does she still color code out finals schedule?" Ron nodded and rolled his eyes.

It took Hermione a moment to stop, "Especially the last twenty years- Ron!" she glared.


She opened a book and began the leaf through it. "If you had the same enthusiasm for learning your lessons are you do for memorizing quidditch stats, you could both do so much better!"

Harry and Ron exchanged a knowing look. Some things will never change.

"Harry," Hermione asked suddenly, "Tell me the names of all the Gryffindor boys in our year."

"Seamus Finnigan, Dean Thomas, Neville Longbottom, Russell Thickey, Ron and me," he rattled off in a sure voice.

"Who's Russell Thickey?" asked Ron.

Before Harry could answer Hermione asked, "And the girls?"

"Diana Bragge, Girtrude Wimble, Margaret Peasgood, Lavendar Brown, Parvati Patil, and you, Hermione."

"Harry, there are only three Gryfindor fifth year girls here. There has never been a Diana Bragge," Hermione said solemnly.

"And I've never heard of a Russell Thickey," Ron said, "Or any other Thickey in any year."

"I think," Hermione flipped a page or two in her book, "That these other students would be here if Voldemort didn't exist."

"It's more than possible," Ron said quietly, "You-Know-Who took out whole families when he had the chance."

Absolutely shocked, Harry sank into the couch. "So that's four missing Gryffindors, then?" He'd dated Peasegood back in fourth year, she was a decent girl. And Thickey. How many detentions did he serve with that kid trying to blow up each other's cauldrons in Potions? They couldn't stand one another, but not all the memories were bad.

"Or additions, depending on how you look at it," Hermione answered, "I'm sorry they're not here, though."

He waved at her dismissively, "As my uncle says repeatedly, 'This is but a brief respite.' I'll see them again when I'm home."

He could feel Hermione watching him, observing and calculating, "I wonder what Harry is doing for Christmas."

Shrugging, "Probably spending the afternoon with my friends and relations," Harry replied.

Hermione smiled sadly, "That must be so nice for him, even if it is rather bittersweet."

"Oh... I'd forgotten," Harry pushed himself upright. "There isn't, by chance, a Rose Potter in second year, is there."

"No. Did – Do you have siblings?"

"Yes, two. I always thought they were annoying, but I thought they'd always be around too..." he trailed off, staring at the crumpled wrappings of the candy, "I've met your Sirius and Remus... they're different."

They continued to talk until dinner. Hermione carried her Hogwarts, A History, trying to get Harry to read it. He refused. At dinner there was a bit of chaos over the return of the Boy-Who-Lived, but with less than a quarter of the students remaining for the holidays, it was short lived.

Harry looked up and down the table shared by all the students and teachers for the Christmas holiday. I can handle this, he thought confidently.

(*) – If someone can tell me the British equivalent of dork/geek, that'd be great. ^__^

AN - Well, Kate, it's Saturday. Not too late, I hope? A hugmungous Thank you to everyone who has left a review or emailed me. *grovel*

One of the reasons I don't like chapter four is that I give Harry #2 more emotion than his character allows for so that it would dispell the feeling that he was cold and calous. I think I got his personality across better in this chapter. Not everyone liked the parody interlude, but others did. So we'll see what happens if review 200 ever comes. If you have a suggestion, tell me and I'll consider it.

Some Q & A: Gilbert will come in later (and that's all I'm saying). His name is entirely made up (unlike the students in the chapter, went to the Lexion. The first names aren't canon though. Voldie's around. Harry isn't going to wake up yet. This chapter sets things up for the next (ah! Clues!) No, having Harry pose as Harry isn't a good idea, as we shall see. Snape will appear as well, in one form or another. Sirius wasn't being calm so much as seeing that James was flipping out. Ever have that with a close friend? You're both freaking, but you see your reaction in the other person? Eh, that was the idea. Harry number one will be sore and stiff, just as any other person who has to get up after a long sleep. I tried writing under a tree once, it wasn't very comfortable. *Hides under her pillow pile* I've never been chased by a purple flying carpet before. o.o; Harry might be alrigth and he might get back to his orginal dimension. You guys really don't like #2, do you? Harry #1 will survive in one form or another. A Potter Person, it's not that I didn't feel like writing. It's that I didn't have the time, and when I did what I wrote was baaaad (if I wrote at all). Ahh, it was a sucky year. We'll find out who wanted Harry #1 to die. I really don't want to have an 'evil person solioquy' because I don't like them. Not quite James, a harem, according to dictionary.com, is "place reserved for wives and concubines and female relatives in a Muslim household."

Yes, I think that's everything. Anything you think is worth sharing, leave a review. If you want it answered quickly, email is faster. Thanks for sticking around! (I'll be much faster about the next one, though the earliest would be the begining of July. Travel, whee.)