Five bloody years.
Standing on the sidewalk across the London street from a virtually unchanged pub called The Leaky Cauldron, a young man who now knew himself to be Harry Potter marveled inwardly over how long it'd been. A whole half-decade from the very anniversary, when the Boy-Who-Lived finally had enough.
Back then, Harry thought life couldn't possibly get worse, what with the horrible consequences of the battle at the Department of Mysteries: Sirius falling through the Veil, Voldemort back again, and most of his friends recovering from their own injuries after fighting at his side. Except he'd been totally wrong, with yet another ghastly bit of bad news being regretfully told to him by Headmaster Albus Dumbledore in this ancient wizard's Hogwarts office. Basically, all because of some stupid prophecy, Harry James Potter was fated to battle a Dark Lord vastly more powerful and experienced at magic than him, and it'd all end with either the most formidable evildoer in the wizarding world or an untrained, amateur fifteen year old wand-wielder losing this vital confrontation.
Losing, as in getting killed. Gee, what were the odds regarding exactly whom this would happen to, unquestionably as painfully as possible?
After wrecking Dumbledore's office in his display of magical rage, Harry stormed out of that place, ignoring the older wizard's pleas after him to calm down. Like hell he would calm down! For the last couple of years, it'd been just Harry and one or two friends against that berk who'd killed his mum and dad. During this, the rest of the bloody wizards and witches making up the whole sodding British magical sheeple mainly considered their so-called savior to be a young Dark Lord, a fame-obsessed attention seeker, and a potential enemy of the corrupt politicians running the Ministry of Magic. Often all three at the same time, to boot.
Harry Potter was still supposed to die for them?
Piss on that. Gryffindors might have the reputation for running into danger, but this was completely different from a predetermined, one-sided suicide pact! Maybe he really should have become a Slytherin, like the Sorting Hat had suggested in his first year here. Judging by their history, those cunning and sneaky members of that Hogwarts House would've strolled onto the battlefield well after everyone had slaughtered each other, looted the bodies, and sold off the land as 'properly-manured' fields ready for planting crops guaranteed to flourish from the numerous corpses buried there.
Anyway, enough was enough! In his state of blind fury, Harry called for Dobby in the castle corridor, and he ordered this ecstatic little house-elf to apparate them out of Hogwarts. Where? Why, to the one place where he'd been treated in an absolutely businesslike manner, unlike elsewhere in the whole lunatic wizarding world. Which just happened to be Gringotts, the goblin bank.
There, Harry's already boiling temper reached superhuman levels of sheer ire at learning from his unearthly accounts manager several little details that a certain bearded arsehole never got around to telling the teenage boy. Namely, after surviving the Triwizard Tournament last year, Harry had become an adult in the eyes of magical society, and he could've freely lived away from Hogwarts wherever he pleased, far from the Dursleys and possibly with Sirius. Not to mention this same achievement of attaining early adulthood had also opened for Harry the main Potter family vault, and he was rich, rich, rich!
That did it. In a very calm voice, Harry asked a wary Griphook if Gringotts could transfer his entire account into a muggle bank. When the shocked goblin asked what their client was planning, Harry declared he was renouncing the wizarding world. He'd damned well had his fill of betrayals from the people supposed to be protecting and supporting him. No more, not ever. They could one and all deal with Voldemort completely on their own. Harry was leaving the country, getting away as far as possible, and staying away from any more involvement with wizards and witches.
Griphook stared in alarm at the human steadily looking back at the bank employee seated at his office desk and inwardly dreading the prospect of telling his superiors about losing one of their biggest depositors. After several moments of desperate thought, the goblin offered a different option for Harry. These underground-dwelling creatures had their own, special kind of magic, and for a sizable fee plus keeping the rest of his funds at Gringotts, they could place upon him a very singular type of spell to give him a completely new life. This spell would allow Harry to conceal himself from any of his former friends and enemies (who most definitely would both be looking for him) by shielding the teenager from any possible magical search. It would also subtly change his physical appearance to make him unrecognizable by muggle means of identification.
However, there were three major drawbacks to this rarely-used spell. For one thing, it would completely suppress Harry's magic. He'd be nothing more than a muggle, which was why on the rare occasions this same opportunity had been offered to human wizards and witches, those people had all and sundry shudderingly refused such a horrific choice. Ironically, this would help Harry stay hidden, since nobody in the wizarding world would ever dream he'd in fact chosen this, given the other drawbacks of the spell.
Harry would also lose any memories of his history in magical Britain, up to the very fact he himself was a wizard. Skilled goblin legilimencers would obscure those recollections, making Harry think he'd lived a normal existence like the rest of the magic-lacking world. Griphook told his intent listener it'd be best if Harry kept as much as possible of his past muggle experiences, since it would make it easier for him in his new life. They'd still be altered a trifle to keep any searcher from tracing him by these recollections.
Finally, that same life would last for a good while. At the discretion of the wizard accepting the spell, it could take up his entire lifetime, even to their deathbed. Of course, there were shorter alternatives, but not all that many. For various reasons, the very minimum the spell could be cast until it finally wore off was five years-
"I'll take it," briskly announced Harry to an astonished Griphook.
A day later, Harry Palmer, a very wealthy young Englishman newly emancipated from his disgusting Thursleigh relatives, showed his just-issued passport to the customs officer at Kennedy International Airport at New York City. When incuriously asked if he was here for business or pleasure at the United States, Harry happily replied to the apathetic bureaucrat, "Oh, pleasure, of course! I'm definitely going to enjoy my vacation here for a long, long time!"
Eighteen hundred and twenty-four days afterwards, Harry James Potter woke up in his extremely expensive New York apartment just off Central Park, and he remembered everything.
The wand lying by his side on the silk bedsheets definitely helped, too.
Next came a hasty telephone call arranging for the first available flight (first class, of course) to London, a quick shower, dressing in the nearest clean clothes at hand, and eight hours or so later, Harry was back in his native country. Right in front of the first place in wizarding society where Hagrid had taken him to just after his eleventh birthday. Well, enough delay. It was time to see what'd happened since the son of James and Lily Potter had vanished from the world he'd left behind while in a seriously bad mood five years ago.
Looking both ways with necessary caution and then once more due to those bloody drivers on the wrong side of the road, a nearly-spherical Harry waddled as fast as he could manage across the street. Stopping on the other sidewalk, the three hundred pounds-plus man spent a few moments wheezingly catching his breath.
Ruefully glancing down at his protruding stomach stretching out to its limits his Batman t-shirt, Harry pulled out his wand from the front pocket of his extra-wide cargo pants covering massive, flabby thighs. Holding in pudgy fingers this small magical stick ready just before entering the pub concealing the entrance to Diagon Alley, Harry made a nervous flick of this to produce the only spell he could manage now, a brief flicker of red sparks from the tip of his wand. Reaching up with his free hand, the young wizard brushed aside a dangling lock of the long, greasy hair reaching well past his shoulders, wiped at his perspiring face mostly hidden behind a stringy mustache and beard, and he hoped for the best.
Even if the Leaky Cauldron appeared to not have changed the slightest in the last five years, Harry certainly had. Whatever his last name might've been during then, either Potter or Palmer.
For this young man unknowingly having a different identity, the first couple of years of his self-imposed exile had been a lot of fun, though. He'd traveled extensively throughout America, staying in the finest hotels and lodging places, gawked at the sights, and discovered the joys of McDonald's and their ilk. It certainly beat his previous lifetime spent with his penny-pinching uncle and aunt.
Harry had been more than glad enough to leave behind those pillocks who lavished all their love and food on their only child known as Buddy Thursleigh. As for their loathed nephew, Fergus and Phillipa Thursleigh had grudgingly taken him in after his unacceptable parents with their free-living ways had been killed in a car crash. While growing up in his relative's house, Harry had been kept on starvation rations by them while also being made to slave around their sparkling-clean residence. When the Swiss lawyer from Khrindotts Bank had eventually showed up there and presented Harry with the family will having an impressive number of zeros in it, and also offered to arrange for him to permanently leave, the whole neighborhood had rung with an euphoric whoop of joy. Followed by a blistering stream of invective directed at his cowering relatives just realizing what they'd lost by treating their suddenly wealthy beyond belief nephew with utter disdain for the last fifteen years.
However, while approaching his eighteenth birthday after several years of roaming around the country, Harry found himself feeling a little odd. After some thought, this teenager realized he was…lonely.
Other young people he'd encountered in his travels seemed to have no trouble making attachments with the opposite sex, but Harry honestly had no idea how to go about this for himself. He'd never had any friends either at the Proffit Drive neighborhood or at school there, since Buddy and his gang of bullies always scared them off in their games of 'Harry-hunting.'
His depression growing over the next few months, Harry soon started finding comfort in food. He ate his way through numerous alterations in his clothing sizes, which didn't make it any easier for him to begin potential relationships. In turn, this discouraged him even more and made him eat even more, with the vicious cycle continuing for years.
Eventually coming to a bloated rest back in New York City, Harry bought a place there, and he holed up in his new home as a solitary hermit. During this, the obese young man idly stumbled upon an entirely new addiction: Internet porn. Huddled behind his computer, Harry spent his days for the next couple of years gazing vacantly at the naked bodies presented on the monitor while shoveling down his gullet immense amounts of takeout food ordered from the local restaurants and left outside his apartment, and he basically vegetated there.
It might've eventually ended up as yet another New York Post story of someone found decaying in their home, seated in front of a burnt-out screen with their right hand clutching another part of their body in an actual death grip, until Harry woke up in his specially-reinforced bed with all of his memories back. As mentioned long ago by the goblins, their spell had lasted the full five years set in the contract a young wizard had willingly signed in an office buried deep inside Gringotts.
It was only when he leaned back in his double seats in the first-class section of the plane returning him to England, that a glum Harry realized just how much trouble he was in at the moment. Dolefully regarding his extremely overweight body along with his neglected hair sprouting from his entire head, all dressed in slovenly clothing, which as a result had gotten him disdainful looks throughout his panting trip through the airport, Harry tried to reassure himself that magic could fix it all. There hadn't been any fatties around in the wizarding world, right? Considering how Ron had eaten with such gusto every single meal at Hogwarts, this red-haired boy should've been a perfect match back then for what Harry looked like now, so maybe there was some sort of spell to keep…
In the airplane seats just barely containing his immense rear, a corpulent young man winced to himself at the dismal thought of all the people he'd deserted years ago. All right, so a furious teenage wizard had clear cause back then for running away from a society which basically treated him either like an idolized knight in shining armor out to save them all, or a dangerous menace busily plotting to be the next Dark Lord enslaving them all. In either case, the Boy-Who-Lived was supposed to lay down his far too short life for the moderately grateful wizarding world, who'd then happily get back to their own affairs, without even bothering to think further about that sacrificial hero.
Glowering into the distance of the airplane interior, Harry inwardly fumed to himself all over this once more. This was quickly suppressed by the wave of sudden remorse passing through him, when Harry also remembered specific people like Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny, Luna, Hagrid, and others who'd both liked and helped him during his stay at Hogwarts. Except their friend Harry Potter, who they'd been counting on to join with them to stop a monster in his evil plans, had left this ancient magical school without a single word to anyone, and hadn't been heard of ever since.
Harry's moon face now showed real shame on his pudgy features. Shifting uncomfortably in his airplane seats protesting under the excessive weight they were supporting, Harry tried to grasp for whatever comfort this offered the point that during the few minutes he'd spent on his computer before leaving his apartment for the airport, there hadn't been any particularly bad news about England. No strange, inexplicable attacks on the populace at large or any other odd events such as this. Life was evidently as normal as it ever got for the British muggles going about their daily business. Which possibly meant that Voldemort and his vile forces were still being held off by the rest of the wizarding world.
For the rest of his flight, Harry consoled himself with this. Further encouraging his cautious optimism was the detail of how the Leaky Cauldron appeared now, after his direct taxi ride there after arriving in London. The outside of this dingy pub looked the same as it'd ever done during his few visits here. Which definitely had to be a positive issue, given that any conflict within the wizarding world would've overflowed to show signs of this struggle upon the meeting point between magicals and muggles.
Standing in front of this small drinking establishment, Harry took a deep breath, held his wand ready, and approached the front door. It was now time to see what'd happened since he left, for good or ill. Pushing the door open, Harry took an hasty moment before stepping inside to consider the sardonic detail that at least nobody would possibly recognize him, what with the way he looked like now. Not even the landlord and bartender of the Leaky Cauldron, whose familiar name Harry absently called out while striding into the pub: "Tom!"
"Eh?" came from the complete stranger seated behind the bar counter, looking up from reading the newspaper laid out on top of this piece of furniture.
Harry gazed in his total bewilderment at the unknown man impatiently looking back at the fat young wizard holding a wand in his right hand. Eventually, Harry managed to stutter, "Er, where's Tom? The landlord here, I mean."
The irritated expression of the other person in the hostelry quickly shifted into sudden comprehension, with him responding, "Oh, him! Tom retired close to a year ago, sir, selling the pub to me. I'm Gordon McAllister, the owner now. Are you an old customer, Mr…?" The doubtful trailing off of this last word showed the questioner indeed had no idea who his newest visitor really was, which made Harry instantly decide to use the same false name he'd gone by for the last five years.
"Palmer, Harry Palmer. Yes, I've been here before, but not for a very long time. I stayed at the Leaky Cauldron for a few weeks then, but I moved to America after that and haven't been back since."
"Ah," grunted Mr. McAllister with a satisfied air. He civilly continued, "Well, if you're going to be at the ceremony too, there's a chance you might bump into Tom there. He came through here about an hour past, along with everybody else on their way to Diagon Alley. I was going to shut the place up and join 'em until you dropped by. Give me a minute to lock the door and put up the sign, and I'll take you out back to the courtyard. You might not remember the entry code-"
"Wait! What ceremony?" came from a truly confused Harry, whose puzzlement only increased after a hasty glance around at the completely deserted pub, save for himself and the new landlord. He directed his attention back to where Mr. McAllister was goggling at him in evident dumbfoundment.
"Blimey," the older wizard muttered under his breath with real disbelief. He went on in a louder tone, "I didn't think it was possible for any of us to not know what today is. But, what you just said, you're here from the colonies, aye?"
Harry cautiously nodded.
Seeing this, Mr. McAllister appeared gratified at having the chance of passing onto some important news for an ignorant listener. Taking in a proud breath, the Leaky Cauldron's proprietor announced, "Why, young man, it's a once-in-a-lifetime ceremony, and nobody can say he doesn't deserve it! The whole wizarding world's going to honor our very own hero on the first anniversary of Voldemort's death! It was unanimously decided by the entire Wizengamot, that in recognition of his incredible bravery and skill in using his magic to destroy that evil monster and every one of those stinking Death Eaters, none other than Ronald Weasley will be declared the Supreme Wizard of Britain!"
There was a short pause.
Bringing up his free hand not holding his wand, Harry stuck the tip of his left little finger into the ear on that side of his head, wiggled it a few times around in there, and then he thoughtfully extracted the digit with a resulting slight popping noise. In an extremely polite voice, Harry then requested, "Could you repeat that, please?"
Giving Mr. Palmer a rather considering stare, the pub owner obviously reminded himself that other bloke was from overseas and so needed to have things clearly explained to him. Willingly enough, Mr. McAllister slowly and plainly spoke again, "The greatest Gryffindor of them all, Ronald Weasley, leader of this year's winning English team in the World Quidditch Cup, master of wandless magic, and all-around Champion of Hogwarts, is going to be awarded the unique title of Supreme Wizard in Diagon Alley today. I'm bloody well not going to miss it, so can we- Are you all right?"
This worried interruption with a final question in it was due to Mr. Palmer abruptly turning pale and beginning to sway on his feet. The pubkeeper started to reach for his wand just in case the portly man there fainted and fell flat on his face, as he looked to do at any moment. There was no possible way Gordon could possibly lift or move by himself that load of blubber, so it'd be a damn good idea to have a quick Wingardium Leviosa charm on hand.
"I think there's been some sort of horrible mistake," croaked the other wizard, his pudgy features still paper-white behind that disgusting facial foliage. Mr. Palmer deeply inhaled to then shudderingly release this, with it ending in him plaintively appealing, "The only Weasley I know with that name has red hair-"
"Well, of course!" Mr. McAllister indignantly broke in. He tapped the newspaper still spread out on the bar counter in front of him, adding, "Got his picture right here, from the parade yesterday, walking out with his harem. You can look for yourself!"
World Cup Quidditch Captain.
Okay, a couple of minutes ago, he must've been run over by a lorry when crossing the street earlier to get to the Leaky Cauldron. Right now, Harry was actually hallucinating everything inside a speeding ambulance on the way to the nearest hospital to get treatment for his serious brain damage. There was absolutely no other explanation whatsoever for what he'd just heard.
Nevertheless, when Mr. McAllister spun around the newspaper to present its contents to Harry, this young man dazedly shuffled forward in his sandals. Winding up in front of the counter holding this sheet of paper, Harry gaped down at the moving image making up the whole upper front page of the Daily Prophet.
While he was vacantly taking in none other than Ronald Bilius Weasley, now several years older (and a hell of a lot more handsome than Harry ever remembered about his school friend), his numb wits barely registered the pubkeeper's prideful chattering, "Merlin bless him, don't he seem the very model of a hero? It's lucky for us all what happened when the Shite-Who-Ran buggered off- By the way, sir, you might not want to mention your first name around here; people tend to spit now when they hear somebody being called Harry. Anyway, our Ron woke up at Hogwarts the next day with twice the magic he had before, and it just kept on growing. Headmaster Dumbledore, he soon figured out the other little sod had been wickedly stifling Mr. Weasley's magic, so once that bastard was gone, it didn't take too long until it was clear who'd win against Voldemort. Shame about what happened to Dumbledore then, but Mr. Weasley avenged the Headmaster quite properly, I must say. They were cleaning up the bodies at Malfoy Manor for days. After that, a good dozen girls from every Hogwarts house gladly volunteered to join in a multiple marriage with the recovering victor. It was a wonderful wedding, and it looks like they're all still in love with each other!"
Harry continued to resemble a rotund statue. He didn't move a single muscle during his fixed stare at the photograph, which currently had Ron strolling through packed, cheering crowds of wizards and witches, all while arm-in-arm with Hermione on his right and Cho Chang on the other side. Behind the strutting ginger-haired man, ten other very pretty girls happily trailed along after their lord and master. Deep inside Harry's mind, something went 'pop!' at seeing Hermione blissfully gazing at Ron, with this glowing young woman obviously well into her pregnancy shared by at least half of the harem.
There was also at this time another blatantly obvious biological consequence of the former Miss Granger being large with child. A still-virginal Harry, with all his sexual experience confined solely to Internet porn, couldn't help but instantly classify Hermione's hormone-swelled breasts to be at least 38DD in size…
Of the Hogwarts students blasted out of their peaceful slumber by that horrified shriek, it was the Slytherins who were the ones to at once reach for their wands. However, after a quick check for enemies in their vicinity, those house members in the green-and-silver ties judiciously removed their fingers from gripping these magical sticks when they remembered exactly where they'd just woken up.
Professor Binns' classroom was considered to be neutral territory for all, with this arrangement genuinely respected by every Hogwarts house. Even the most rabid pureblood extremists in Slytherin adopted a live-and-let-live attitude just this once against the mudbloods and other unacceptable scum while they were…studying together in the History of Magic class. In turn, no matter how much the other Gryffindors, Hufflepuffs, and Ravenclaws detested the snakes, the rest of the castle's pupils left them alone during their ghostly teacher's never-ending lectures.
This astonishing result was due to one simple fact: staying on guard against potential harassment by any rival house in that specific Hogwarts class also meant having to stay awake while listening to Professor Binns' mind-numbing drone covering centuries of tedious, unmemorable historical dates, details, and circumstances. No one knew exactly when it'd started (anyone's best guess was the day after their teacher's death generations ago, which incredibly caused him to be even more boring), but an unspoken truce had been speedily agreed between the houses. Each and every one of these residences' inhabitants quickly seized upon the convenient chance for an undisturbed nap during school hours, and so it'd went for the next couple of hundred years.
Today, however, everyone in the classroom had now been rudely brought out of their state of idyllic unconsciousness. This would've normally evoked hard stares, nasty threats muttered sotto voce, and even a few discreet hexes sent towards the pest who'd just roused them all by screaming at the top of his lungs. Led by the Slytherins, of course. Except at this very moment, Professor Snape's darlings were instead quite content with being vastly entertained by seeing Scarhead Potter apparently go insane.
Closely watching with utter fascination shared by virtually the rest of the class, Draco Malfoy and his cronies observed how a trembling, sweaty Potty standing where he'd jumped out of his seat now frantically patted his skinny body all over with both hands. A look of real relief abruptly blossoming on that pillock's face bafflingly occurred right after this. Until, things got even better.
"Keep it down, mate," came in a sleepy mumble from the seat next to Harry. There, Ron Weasley was still using his folded arms as a pillow upon the top of the table where he'd lately been dozing. Even this young man's famed ability to catch forty winks anywhere at any time had been slightly disrupted by whatever his best friend had his knickers in a twist about at the moment. Unfortunately, this sixth son of a large wizarding family was now about to have his day really ruined.
His unfocused gaze lowering to stare down at an oblivious Ron, Harry's countenance rapidly contorted into supreme wrath. Again bellowing as loudly as possible to the awed class, the hope of the wizards and witches of Britain scandalously declared, "YOU BASTARD, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU FOR WHAT YOU DID TO HERMIONE!"
Right after that, before anyone could react to what he'd just said, Harry pounced. He grabbed Ron's exposed neck in a steely grip with all ten fingers, yanked him entirely off the table bench by arm strength alone, and while holding up his friend's body in the air, Harry started viciously shaking Ron back and forth. Within a few seconds, the unlucky young man in Harry's clutches was nearly out cold, feebly thrashing his dangling limbs, all while his face turned the same tomato color as his hair. Ron's unanticipated ordeal only ended because of an appalled witch screaming, "Harry, what are you doing?"
Maintaining his most savage glare at the back of Ron's slumping head, Harry froze in shock. He gawked from the corner of his eyes at where Hermione had arisen from her own seat. Unthinkingly letting go of Ron, to then ignore how his near-insensible best mate collapsed onto the classroom floor with his chin bouncing off the stone tiles there while at last going down for the count, Harry spun around. The Boy-Who-Lived next instantly wrapped his arms around the stunned girl in a rib-crushing, jubilant hug.
Harry was still caught up in his half-asleep dream state as the final remnants faded away of this teenager's worse-ever nightmare, with all of its absurd yet extremely realistic details which are the exact qualities of these types of terrifying mental images. So, even if it was totally idiotic of him to do this, Harry then incautiously said something unforgivable to Hermione.
Two minutes later, the Slytherins were one and all gleefully watching the dreadful consequences of Harry's error. Which in turn lasted until Professor McGonagall spoiled their fun by casting a mass Obliviate charm upon the whole class. From where she was standing in the room's doorway, the Deputy Headmistress tucked away her wand. She looked around at the glassy-eyed students who'd just forgotten everything they'd recently witnessed. McGonagall also dourly listened to Professor Binns even now imperturbably delivering his monotonous lecture, and the woman gave an immense, weary sigh over what'd just happened to one of her lions.
Soon afterwards, Professor McGonagall swept into the Headmaster's office, declaring to its sole occupant the instant before stepping inside the castle tower, "Albus, I've had to deliver Harry again to Poppy for a stay in the hospital wing to have his latest injuries treated!"
At his desk overflowing with Ministry paperwork, Albus Dumbledore glanced up in real surprise. He exclaimed, "What, already? That's got to be a new record for him, getting hurt right at the start of his sixth year!"
Dropping his quill onto the scattered documents covering the desktop, the elderly wizard looked pensive for a moment before continuing, "Well, let's look at the bet sheet to see who won. I'm not sure if anyone put down their name for it this early…"
Taking a chair in front of her superior's desk, McGonagall sniffed, "Sybil did, just like always."
Watching Albus pull open a top drawer and root around in there for several moments, a hint of acid crept into the severe woman's strong Scots accent with her adding, "Honestly, how does she ever expect to collect if Harry and all the rest of us are dead because of a meteor hitting the castle during the start of the sorting feast?"
Absently answering, "I haven't the slightest idea, Minerva. You'll have to take it up with Sybil," the Headmaster's gaze through his reading glasses traveled down the sheet of paper he'd just pulled out from the drawer. Dumbledore eventually nodded with satisfaction.
Holding up the paper, this wizard beamed at his sour-faced assistant, telling her, "Ah, yes. It's a tie between Professor Sprout and Madam Hooch as to the first month of term. We'll need the specifics to pick the winner. Who or what did it to Harry this time, and how exactly is he damaged? Details please, Minerva."
"It was Hermione Granger, Headmaster," reluctantly revealed Professor McGonagall. She watched this man suddenly sit upright in his chair and stare at her in disbelief. Before he could protest at what he'd just heard, the transfiguration teacher went on in a very morose tone. "As for his condition, Harry has a broken nose and serious…bruising lower down."
The Headmaster frowned at his companion refusing to meet his eye. Nevertheless, while tapping a wrinkled finger upon the bet sheet he'd laid down on his desktop, Albus reproved her, "Minerva, you're quite familiar with the rules. It doesn't count until Harry actually needs to visit Poppy. You could've healed him up yourself without any trouble, so why-"
With implacable determination, McGonagall succinctly interrupted, "No."
Now glowering directly into Dumbledore's astonished expression, this woman further asserted in her iciest voice, "This was clearly a case for Poppy to deal with herself. Even if it wasn't, I bloody well am not going to put my wand anywhere near at where an enraged Miss Granger had unreservedly jumped up and down with full force onto that young man's groin!"
In the ensuing short silence throughout the Hogwarts office, Dumbledore discreetly crossed his legs in their robes under his desk.
Eventually clearing his throat, the Headmaster risked, "You obliviated them all, naturally."
At Minerva's stiff nod, the magical school's elderly administrator sighed in irked acceptance. Half-musing to himself, Albus muttered, "Quite right. We must keep all three of the Golden Trio together in our conflict with Voldemort, no matter how much they behave like teenagers. By the way, exactly what brought it on this time? Were you able to get anything?" With those last words a keen look was sent to where the professor was shrugging in her chair.
"It's completely gone from their recollections now, Albus. You know that," an apologetic McGonagall informed him. At seeing his lined face droop in genuine disappointment, this woman obligingly pointed out to the Headmaster, "But I did manage to receive a few impressions after doing it. Luckily, it was one of the rare times for that spell's caster to receive a memory backlash from everyone I obliviated. I warn you, though, they're all jumbled together and frankly it doesn't seem to make any kind of sense."
"Let me be the judge of that, Minerva," urged Albus, leaning forward in his chair, his intent gaze signifying his absolute concentration.
The witch obediently replied, "Oh, very well. From what the class remembers, Harry woke up screaming in the middle of Binns' lecture, assaulted Mr. Weasley for no reason at all - I took care of his injuries, by the way - and then hugged Miss Granger. In their embrace, Harry told her something very peculiar which made her instantly break free, hit him in the face as hard as she could with her textbook, and when he fell to the floor, she-"
"Yes, yes, Minerva," Albus hastily broke in, "we've already gone over that. What exactly did Harry mention to Miss Granger?" This was austerely finished by the Headmaster despite the abrupt smirk now displayed by his female companion.
The evil little smile on McGonagall's lips faded into evident puzzlement, as she bemusedly lifted her eyebrows. "For whatever it means, Harry was so glad her pet songbirds were the same size as before, because it proved Ron had absolutely nothing to do with the latest batch of bread rolls baking in the kitchen. Don't look at me like that! I'm just repeating the best I can what he said!" Those last words indignantly burst from the witch at seeing how dubiously Dumbledore was regarding her.
Bringing up a calming hand, the Headmaster soothed his ruffled assistant, "I know, Minerva. From my own personal experiences over the last couple of years in having to wipe out Harry and the others' memories all too often, it's true the occasional carry-over from them can be most confusing. I still have no idea why that little house-elf with such a fixation on James and Lily's son is viewed in Harry's mind as a pet horse."
Both Dumbledore and McGonagall shared an identical baffled look, until the older of the pair then briskly ordered, "We'll have to discuss this further later on, Minerva. In the meantime, Poppy must've healed up Harry's, er, wounds by now. Given how Binns has to still be talking, the rest of the class should be sound asleep again. A few quick spells by you, and Harry can be back in there with no one the wiser. All right, off you go."
Glad to hear her leader was once more taking charge as was only right and proper, McGonagall arose from her chair. Giving the Headmaster a dignified nod of acceptance, she left the room. Looking after the departing woman until she was out of sight, Albus Dumbledore was soon lost in thought. He leaned back in his chair, brought his hands up to chest level to press their fingertips together, and stared upwards at the stone ceiling. A minute later, the low rumble of an elderly wizard talking to himself was heard in the office:
"And I thought Sybil was difficult to understand. But this won't stop me, either. Let's see now…small songbirds, bread rolls baking…how about tiny tits, bun in the oven? No, it doesn't make any sense, not with Mr. Weasley in the mix. Hmmm…could this be a subtle reference to his enormous appetite? It's a definite possibility, that. Keep it in mind, Albus. Harry, of course, is the most important part of the equation, so what were his reasons for acting in such a manner in the first place? That'll be a good start…"
Author's Note: Yes, it's one of those "...and it was all a dream" fics. Hey, put down the torches and pitchforks! I gave you fair warning in the summary when I mentioned this story's cracktastic properties. After all, it's not like I threw in a long-lost twin sister, had the entire castle read the whole seven books, or did some of the other innumerable genres...