Disclaimer: Not mine, JKR's and whatnot.
Give It Your Best Shot
Chapter 1 – Worldly Travel
"Fuck!" Harry Potter swore and let out a pained filled groan. He knew that he had been right. He had told Ron that they shouldn't have gone in without back up. He had told the red head that the place looked unstable. Of course, Ron Weasley, Avenger of Light, had dismissed his concerns. After all, if a Death Eater thought it was a good enough building to retreat to for cover, then the inside couldn't possibly be a mirror image of the outside. No, there was no way that the floors were crumbling and the walls were buckling, just as the mortar was falling apart and the roof was caving in. Nope, there was not a chance in hell that the war-torn building, and every other war-torn building along the street, was unsafe to enter.
With another groan, Harry attempted to shut his mind to the pain coursing through him so that he could do a quick health assessment. He had no clue how many floors he had ended up falling. All he knew was that he had followed Ron up several flights of stairs and deep into the rundown office building in pursuit of the enemy. They had ended up splitting up on one of the upper floors to do a standard sweep and recovery, having lost their target amongst the many corridors the second that the bastard had opted to take his chances amongst the offices, instead of continuing towards the roof. It had been when he had just finished clearing the ninth office on his side of the building that a blinding flash of sickly looking light had come hurdling towards him from up the hall. He had managed, or at least he thought that he had managed to erect a shield in time. Regardless of if he had or not, the curse had still sent him flying through the air and crashing violently to the floor some twenty feet back. The next thing that he knew, the floor was caving beneath him and he was falling.
Harry felt the tension leave his body, upon finally managing to force his mind away from the pain and to the rest of what he was feeling. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, he was lying in a comfortable bed with blankets pulled up to his chest and a hand lolled lazily at his side, while the other rested up by his head. He must have taken the hit harder than he had thought, as he sure as hell didn't remember losing consciousness at any point.
Fully expecting to open his eyes to a wood-paneled room in St. Mungo's, which had thankfully been the first building in Britain to be rebuilt after the war, Harry froze – his paranoia and observation skills honed over the duration of the war kicking into high gear – as he opened his eyes to a blue walled, wood floored room that he had no recollection of. There was a Gryffindor banner hung above a dark stained writing desk in the far corner. A set of matching bookcases filled with books was to the left of the desk. A window covered with deep blue, sophisticated looking curtains was centered between the bookcases and the wall that the bed that he was resting in was position against. A small sitting area had been set up below the window. Bedside the bed was a richly stained bedside table with a mass of fiction books and a lone oil lamp stacked upon it. Not far from the bedside table was a shelf that looked to be filled with random possessions. A Nimbus 2000 was leaned against it, appearing new and hardly used, and a wardrobe had been shoved in the corner opposite the bed with the door of the room position along the far wall between it and the desk.
With slow movements, Harry pushed himself to sit up. He winced, his muscles sore and his joints stiff. However, he noticed that the pain had receded somewhat without him having to continuously employ Occlumency to block it. As gingerly as possible and with full intentions of finding out the status of his current situation as quickly as possible, he swung his legs off the bed. He scowled and felt his paranoia rise – panic momentarily gripping him, before he mastered the emotion – upon finding himself stripped bare down to his pants with his wand and its holster missing from his wrist. He scowled deeper, sensing that something was indeed very wrong, as he took in how pale, scrawny, and unblemished his body was.
"What the hell…?" Harry frowned at his hands, which were smaller than he remembered them being a day ago. He brought his right hand up to his face and studied it closely, as if it were a strange plant specimen or a bug that he had never seen before. Where the words 'I must not tell lies.' had once been carved into the back of his hand, there was now nothing but smooth skin. As the implications of such a discovery set in, his other hand flew to his forehead, feeling for the one scar that would surely remain no matter what happened to him. He felt his stomach plummet and all the blood drain from his face, as his hand did not find the jagged edges of his famous lightning bolt scar, but only even, undamaged skin.
Before he could think too long on his missing scars or his too small hands and scrawny body, a soft, melodic humming that sounded from somewhere beyond the closed door of the room that he was in altered him to the presence of others nearby. As the humming drew nearer, he had but a moment to decide on a course of action.
Judging from the pain still afflicting him, he wasn't exactly in any condition for a physical fight, and while he was capable of passive magic to an extent, he had yet to grow proficient at it and, therefore, wouldn't have much success with using it in a fast pace duel. So, without his wand, which he could see nowhere within the room, he wouldn't be up for a magical fight either. Fleetingly, he cast his eyes around the room, assessing the situation as best he could and looking for a weapon of any sort. However, everything about the room was benign. There were parchment and school books in disarray on the writing desk, a combination of beginner magical theory books and magical fiction tales in the bookcases, and photos, knickknacks, and various other random items on the shelf by the beside table. There was nothing in the room that would suggest he was under threat or being held captive, and there was nothing that looked very useful as a weapon. All in all, it appeared to be a room designed for and used by a teenage boy.
And you apparently look like a teenage boy, his mind reminded him snidely. Suspicion and uneasy flooded him. Benign as it all may appear, it was far from benign at all.
With the humming sounding as if it was right outside the door, or was at least very close, Harry made his decision, electing to take a Slytherin approach to the situation. For the time being, it seemed that, whoever his captors were, they weren't interested in harming him. The entire setup smelt of trickery and of lulling him into a false sense of security. With all things considered, he was certain that it ought to be relatively safe for him to play along, while still in a vulnerable state. When he regained his strength and possibly located his wand, or at least a wand, then he could blast the bastards to pieces and attempt to figure out where he was and how to undo whatever the hell it was that had been done to him.
Harry had barely managed to lie back in bed and pull the deep blue comforter back over him, when the door of the room opened. He inwardly cursed as light flooded his eyes, stealing his vision. After discretely blinking a few times, he squinted his eyes against the abrasive light, allowing his night vision to subside.
He watched from his position on the bed, as a petite, red haired woman swiftly entered the room, while continuing to hum. She never once glanced towards him, as she flicked her wand at the curtains over the window, causing even more light to flood the room, as the curtains drew back and tied themselves off. Still humming, she picked up the few items of discarded clothing lying about the room, before leaving quietly and shutting the door softly behind her.
Harry sat back up the moment that she was gone, openly gapping after her. Certainty he had not just seen what he thought that he had seen. No, no you didn't, he assured himself, reminding himself that everything that he had seen and would see was a trick. The woman who had just entered the bedroom was not his mother. Lily Potter had died 22 years ago.
Taking a deep breath to calm himself, Harry pushed back his anger at the thought of his mother's memory being tarnished in such a crude way. He needed to think objectively. Rash action, when he was not in top form and did not have his wand, would most certainly result in him getting himself killed. He was going to need to be smart about how he proceeded. Clearly, whoever was in charge had put a lot of thought into how to get whatever it was that they wanted from him. He really couldn't afford to let his emotions rule him at the moment.
"Lily, have you seen my tie?" a male voice yelled, startling Harry. "You know…the red one with the stripes?"
"It's in the laundry," a female voice yelled in return, sounding further off than the man. "You wore it yesterday, Hun. Just wear the blue one."
"But it's my lucky tie," the male voice complained loudly. To Harry, it sound as if wherever the man wasn't all that far away.
"Do you two always have to yell in the mornings?" a peeved female voice entered the conversation, as a door wrenched open. The door slammed shut a second later and was followed by irritated muttering. Another door opened and slammed a bit further away, before the sound of a tap turning on drowned out the muttering.
Things quieted, though Harry could have sworn that he heard the man chuckle. As he sat straining his ears in hopes of gaining some sort of further insight into his situation, he reflected that the male voice had most likely been meant to have belonged to 'his father'. The second female voice he couldn't be certain of, but the first no doubt belonged to 'his mother'.
"A sister perhaps?" Harry wondered, furrowing his brow. Looking around what he supposed was supposed to be his bedroom, he caught sight of the various photos on the shelf to the right of the bed and bedside table. Taking care to get up slowly, he crossed over to the shelf and bent down to study the photos.
There were several different scenes captured within them. He recognized James and Lily Potter, Remus, Sirius, and a few others in the photos, like the Weasleys, the Longbottoms, Dumbledore, Mad-Eye Moody, and select other members from the Order of the Phoenix. He scowled, however, at a photo of Sirius with his arms wrapped around a woman that he didn't know. They appeared to be a couple and had three small children running around them with far too much energy. All three kids, two boys and a girl, looked strikingly like Sirius with his dark hair and all. Not a single one of them had the woman's golden locks, but one of the boys did have her dark eyes.
Tearing his eyes away from the photo of his godfather and what he assumed was meant to be his godfather's family, he set his sights on one of the many photos of the 'Potter Family', or so he assumed it was his family. He recognized 'his parents' easily enough, as well as himself. The girl, though, he didn't recognize. She was maybe a year or so younger than him. She had their father's black hair, as well as his eyes. Her face, however, was a reflection of their mother's soft features. In the photo, the girl wore her hair long with a few braids added to her ponytail, while several loose strands fell around and framed her cheekbones. She was beautiful – a perfect blend of their parents.
Harry shook his head of the direction his thoughts were going, before he could think much more on the girl. Get a hold of yourself, he reprimanded. She's not really your sister. You never had a sister!
Once again thinking objective about the situation, Harry decided that he should probably get dressed and at least attempt to figure out who his supposed sister, the woman that Sirius had his arm around, and the three twerps racing around Sirius and the woman, all three looking strangely like his godfather, were meant to be. He wasn't certain what his captors wanted from him, but he figured staying ahead of them and not getting caught unaware would be the best course of action for the time being, which meant that he needed to figure out who was who and what was what. With careful movements that wouldn't strain his aching body, he pushed himself up to stand and headed over to the wardrobe.
Upon opening the wardrobe, Harry immediately raised an eyebrow at his assumed fashion sense. The Harry that he was supposedly portraying didn't appear to own a single pair of jeans, nor did he own a t-shirt. As if that weren't bad enough, 'Harry' seemed to be a big fan of plaid…a really big, big fan of plaid and button up, restrictive looking shirts, along with some very strange looking robes. Resigning himself to what clothes were presented before him, he pulled down a pair of plain, tan trousers that looked comfortable enough and threw on one of the many pristine white undershirts. He didn't even bother with the plaid or the weird robes, before shutting the wardrobe. He had better things to worry about than plaid clothing.
Dressed for the day, Harry set his sights on the writing desk. It appeared to be the most likely place that he might find something that would tell him who his supposed sister, the woman, and the three kids were. Upon coming to stand before the desk, a flicker of surprise rushed through him at seeing a half-finished essay in what was distinctly his handwriting sitting out atop the desk. Without picking it up, he read the title of the essay. It was a transfigurations essay that McGonagall had assigned to third years at the end of each year. So I'm supposed to be fourteen or am going to be turning fourteen soon, he mused.
Moving the essay aside, Harry set about looking through the rest of the possessions atop the desk and rummaging through the drawers of the desk, looking for old letters or anything else that might tell him a bit more about his situation. As he opened drawer after drawer and found more and more personal belongings, notes, and a general, disorganized mess, he couldn't believe how much of a boring, weakling the Harry that he was supposed to be portraying was. He had apparently written out an entire list of his fears. It looked to be an excise of some sort, causing Harry to wonder if he was supposedly seeing a Mind Healer. Judging from the long list of 'Harry's Fears', he most definitely needed to. He was apparently afraid of everything from loud and sudden noises to the dark and the forest to werewolves and dementors.
"Wake up, sleepyhead!"
Harry started and whipped around – dropping the list of 'Harry's Fears' in the process – as the door of his supposed bedroom flew open and hit the wall behind it with a loud bang. His instincts had him in a defensive stance, despite the ache that he felt throughout his body protesting his quick movements. Upon his gaze settling upon on a man standing in the open doorway, who had messy black hair and hazel eyes framed by gold rimmed glasses and who looked very much as James Potter should at 34 years of age, he blinked owlishly.
The smile that had been on the imposter's face, upon throwing open the door, disappeared and the man let out a disappointed sigh.
"Harry, we talked about this, remember?" James said, as he approached Harry with slow movements, as if he thought Harry was a wild animal that would surely bolt if given the chance.
Harry allowed the man to take him by the arm and guided him back over to the bed, finding it difficult to master the surge of anger that stir within him and not do something stupid that would most likely get him kill. He stiffened rigidly, as the imposter sat down next to him and pulled him into a hug. The embrace was firm, yet reassuring. He didn't like it. The thought of a Death Eater hugging him in such an intimate way, let alone close enough to hug him at all, made his skin crawl and his hand itch for the reassurance of a wand. The fact that it was a Death Eater disguised as his father made the entire situation all the worse.
"You were doing so well," James said despondently. "Did something happen?"
Yes, something happen and you damn well know it, you bastard. You and your comrades have taken on the appearance of my parents and are quite blatantly attempting to fuck with my mind. That, however, didn't seem like an appropriate answer to give considering his current vulnerability, so Harry elected to stay quiet. It wasn't like he knew what the imposter was referring to anyway.
"Do I need to call Healer Strauss?" James asked, releasing Harry from the hug and ducking down so that he could peer into Harry's eyes.
Harry felt unsettle, as the man looked at him pleadingly – the man's hazel eyes looking so desperate, as if the man wished nothing more than to understand what was going on inside his mind. Yeah, you'd like a shot at using Legilimency on me, wouldn't you? Harry thought disdainfully, while keeping up a void expression and remaining quiet. Too bad all you dimwits finally figure out that you wouldn't last two seconds inside my mind. It was so much more fun when you thought that you could just take what you wanted from me and get away with it.
The memory of Avery sitting with drool pouring from the side of his mouth, the Death Eater's mind completely shattered, flashed before Harry's eyes. Avery had been the first of many minds that he had ripped through and left in pieces. Voldemort had just been lucky that he had been just as good as Harry had become at the Mind Arts, otherwise the Dark Lord might have lost his mind to him as well when he had unwisely attempted to succeed where several of his Death Eaters had failed. It certainly would have made the war easier to fight, if he had been able to shatter Voldemort's mind. Unfortunately, after Voldemort's failed attempt to break into his mind and retrieve the prophecy, as well as other highly sensitive information about the Order of the Phoenix and various other fractions of the Resistance, word had spread of his and Voldemort's metal battle and of Voldemort being forced to throw Harry out of his mind in order to preserve his own sanity, after Harry had turned the mental pathway back on Voldemort like he had done to so many before. Very few had dared to meet Harry eyes ever since, ally or enemy alike. What 'James' was doing now was mighty brave of the man.
Harry had to keep a smirk off of his face, as he effortlessly slipped into the imposter's mind, or so he thought that he had succeed in doing so effortlessly. When he attempted to search out an objective, orders, anything that would tell him what his captors were after, he only found memories of James Potter. He saw the man as an Auror, a member of the Order of the Phoenix, a husband, a father, and so on. He pushed harder, not believing what he was seeing, only to find memories going all the way back to James Potter's supposed childhood. He pulled back the slightest bit, hesitating. It was impossible. No one could create such an elaborate and spanning network of false memories. Before he could think further on what he was seeing, the mental connection that he had established with his supposed father was violently broken and he was forcibly ejected back into his own mind.
Harry hadn't even regained his bearings, before he felt a rough hand grabbing him by the hair and painfully wrenching his head back. The next second, a wand was digging into his throat and James Potter was towering over him.
"Who are you?" James demanded, his voice surging with anger.
Harry looked up at the man, while silently cursing himself for assuming that James wouldn't notice his intrusion. It had been awhile since he had last invaded another's mind and even longer since he invaded such an unprotected mind. He had been careless, thinking that he had free reign since he had been met with little to no resistance. He really should have known better than to push without taking proper precautions to hide his presence, unprotected mind or not.
"Where's Harry?" James pulled Harry's hair roughly and dug his wand deeper into the flesh of Harry's exposed neck, clearly losing patience fast.
Yet, Harry could only continue to stare up at the man, still finding it impossible to believe what he had seen in the man's mind. No one, absolutely no one, could create a false memory network that spanned an entire lifetime. He knew, as he had grown over the last eight years to become one of the most proficient practitioners of the Mind Arts to live in the last century and even he hadn't managed to create anything close to resembling even a small network of false memories. To span a lifetime just wasn't feasible. If the memories can't be false, that means they have to be real, the unbidden thought surfaced at the forefront of his mind. However, despite desperately wanting to believe that what he had seen in the man's mind was indeed real, the implications, if the memories were real, were even more impossible and unbelievable than if they weren't real.
His father was dead! His mother was dead! He didn't have a sister!
"Where is my son?" James asked in a low, threatening tone that promised unimaginable pain, if he did not get answers soon. Harry actually flinched, as the words cut through him. They sounded very much like the words of a father concerned for his son, a father ready to do anything necessary to ensure the safety of his own flesh and blood. "Where is he?" James asked even more forcefully, his gripping tightening in preparation on his wand.
"Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Come on! Wake up!" Harry repeated to himself under his breath, closing his eyes and attempting to shut out the world – his furious, supposed father in particular. He was having a nightmare. There was no way anyone could build such a complex network of false memories and no way his father could be alive and standing over him, which meant that it could only be a nightmare. He needed to wake up, and he needed to wake up now! "Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Come on! Wake up! Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up! Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Wake up. Come on! Wake up!"