Shift to Reality A Harry Potter fic by Stormy

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Giving in to a deeply rooted depression, Harry is lost in a world where there is no Voldemort, no tragedy and no pain. Can Sirius convince his godson to give up the paradise in his mind for cold reality?

Takes place: the summer following Book 4: Goblet of Fire

Archived: The Weather Witch's Domain

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Chapter 4 (Added 15-Jul-02)

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It was a strange feeling to have your body disappear around you. Sirius decided it was worse then apparating but not quite as bad as using a portkey. Instead of a tug behind your navel that threatened to turn your guts inside out, this was more of a dematerializing, kind of like that 'beaming' method he'd once seen on a Muggle television show. He wasn't sure if he liked it.

He could dimly feel a warm, safe presence all around him and it didn't take him long to figure out that he must have made it to Harry's mind. He felt comfortable there, as though Harry's subconscious had recognized him, sensing that he meant no harm and letting him in.

No harm, he thought morosely. Not yet anyway.

It was like wading through downtown London during pea-soup season. Blackish-grey mist enveloped him, hiding everything – if indeed there was anything – from view. He waved his hands a bit but the mist only shifted around his own movements without actually dispersing.

" Well, now that I'm here, how do I find him?" he muttered, blowing his breath out in exasperation. " I can't see a bloody—hello!"

A small passage way seemed to open up in front of him, the mist retreating to the edges of the 'corridor'. Sirius grinned wryly.

" Any port in a storm – and that's a fairly obvious port." He started walking.

He didn't know long he walked for but gradually he began to notice that the mist was actually thinning, or completely gone in some places. He sped up his movements, feeling more and more certain that he was getting closer to his godson. Then suddenly the mist ended.

Sirius watched as the murky fog that surrounded the edges of Harry's dream world abruptly gave way to a cheerful, homey scene. In the blink of an eye, he was transported to a cozy little home, one that was disturbingly familiar.

Sirius bit back a sudden urge to cry as he realized where it was he was standing. The large painting over the fireplace couldn't be ignored, nor could the huge, cushy muggle-style sofa's facing each other in the large, open living room. There was no doubt about it. He was in Godric's Hollow.

He ran a hand down the framework of the wooden door wonderingly. Etched in the wood were the notches of James' growth years. James had always joked that his son was going to have the strip of wood on the other side for himself, and that they could do comparisons when he was older.

This isn't right, Sirius thought, shaking his head. Godric's Hollow was destroyed. How does Harry know these kinds of details well enough to add them to a dream?

He could hear murmuring voices coming from the direction of where Sirius remembered the kitchen to be, and he turned, thinking it might be Harry.

" Hey Padfoot! How's it going?"

Sirius froze as a voice he thought he'd never hear again broke through his muddled thoughts. His mind raced, instantly rejecting, accepting and rejecting what it was he was hearing. Almost afraid to look, he turned back to the living room. His jaw dropped as he took in the sight of one James Potter, looking exactly the same way as he did, the last time Sirius had seen him alive.

*~*~*~*~*~*~*

(Excerpt from letter to Hermione from Remus)

...Allows you to stay in the dreaming world, a world that's more real then reality. It's a spell designed to trap the dreamer, holding them as a willing captive to their inner most desires. Dumbledore has an idea of what Harry is dreaming of but he won't give any details. He said it was Harry's decision when Sirius brings him back, if he chooses to divulge what was going on in there.

Don't worry about Harry Hermione - Sirius will bring him back safe and sound. I'll owl you the minute there's any change....

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Sirius rubbed his eyes, disbelieving. When the grinning form of James Potter refused to disappear, he felt his knees going weak, and he stumbled over to the sofa, collapsing on top of it, staring hungrily at his best friend.

" James...is that really you?"

" Of course it's me!" James walked over to the couch and sprawled out on the end in his familiar, comfortable style, draping one end over the back. He smiled at Sirius. " Who else would I be?"

" You..." Sirius could barely speak. " I..."

" Hey, relax pal." James reached over and punched Sirius lightly in the shoulder. " Look, I know what you're flipping out over. Trust me - what happened wasn't your fault."

" Wasn't my fault..." Sirius echoed hoarsely.

" Yeah. You think I can't see what goes on from up above?" James winked and then he sobered. " I saw what Peter did, Siri. I saw you take the blame and get sentenced to Azkaban for something that wasn't your fault."

" It was my idea..." Sirius began desperately. The knowledge that this was all just a figment of his godson's imagination faded away as he stared at his dead friend. This was what he had wanted - to hear James say it wasn't his fault. He wanted his best friend's reassurance, he wanted to see Lily and beg her forgiveness, he wanted-

He stopped. Want. That was what the Dream World spell was all bout, wasn't it?

He realized James was speaking to him, and he shook his head.

" Sorry, what did you say?"

James laughed. " I said you've done a great job getting Harry to open up with you. He really loves you, you know."

Sirius gaped at him. " James, because of me, your son spent his childhood with your wife's family. He was mistreated, starved, belittled and mocked all his life."

James waggled a finger at him. " Ah-ah-ah. You did not kill thirteen muggles and get caught trying to escape - you were framed. It's not your fault you weren't around for Harry. But when you found out he was in danger from Peter, you managed to escape Azkaban - an incredible feat in itself, by the way - and did everything you could to protect my son. Even as a wanted criminal, you still continuously put yourself at risk to help him, be near him and offer him advice. You're doing everything you can, and I couldn't ask more of you." His eyes crinkled as the familiar smile he'd perfected back during their school days, shone at Sirius like the warming rays of the sun. " I couldn't have made a better choice then you as his godfather."

Despite himself, Sirius felt tears welling up in his eyes at the frankly spoken yet heart-felt words directed at him. He felt as though he'd been waiting to hear that and only that ever since that fateful day he was grabbed by Ministry officials and dumped in his six foot by six foot cell. Before he could say anything though, James had jumped to his feet.

" Come on Padfoot! Let's go - Lily and Harry are still working on that stupid crossword puzzle - they'll never solve it without us!"

Sirius was yanked off the couch and dragged into the kitchen before he had time to even consider a token protest. His eyes widened as he took in the cozy scene in front of him. A much younger-looking Harry was perched on of the kitchen chairs, eagerly scrawling an answer on the crossword. Next to him, one arm around his shoulder in a familiar gesture of love and security, sat Lily Potter, who looked up with a huge smile at Sirius' entrance.

Before she could speak however, Harry waved his arm in James's general direction, his eyes still firmly fixed on the paper.

" Hey dad! Four letter word for personal dwelling."

" Home, home on the range!" James sang off-key. Harry scribbled the answer down. Lily stood up.

" Sirius!" She crossed the kitchen and enveloped the stunned man in a huge hug. Sirius couldn't help but return it, wrapping his arms around her as tightly as he could. She smelled like peaches and sunlight, a fresh Lily smell he could remember James raving about like the love-struck idiot he had been in seventh year.

" Oh Lily..."

" Sirius," she said, tears in her eyes. " I hope James was able to talk some sense into you. About Wormtail, Harry and everything."

" Well--"

" Sirius!" Harry yelped as he heard his godfather's name and bounded across the kitchen, sliding part of the way in his sock feet. Before he could fall though, James had reached out, steadying him. Harry flashed him a quick grin. " Thanks dad." He turned back to the animagus. " Sirius, it's great to see you!"

He hugged his godfather and then tugged him over to the table. " Help us with this thing, will ya?"

Sirius allowed himself to be seated. He watched as Lily resumed her seat next to her son, trailing one finger down the puzzle as she read the clues out loud, wrapping her other arm around Harry's shoulders again. He took in the smaller stature of his godson, the youthful eyes sparkling with happiness instead of being haunted by shadows. James seated himself next to Sirius but not before he ruffled his son's hair affectionately. Sirius felt a lump growing in his throat.

This was what had Harry so enthralled that he didn't want to return. His parents, real as life, showering him with the love and attention he never received during his years at the Dursely's. That was Harry's heart's desire. It was all he wanted. Sirius cleared his throat but before he could speak Harry was looking at him expectantly.

" Huh?"

" I said, three letters. More then a duet but minus a quad."

Sirius blinked. " Trio."

" Oh yeah!" Harry scribbled the answer down.

" James? " Sirius turned his head. He had to know something. James cocked his head to one side.

" Yeah?"

" What ever happened to Voldemort?"

Sirius felt Harry's gaze on him and he looked over to see his green eyes flashing dangerously before returning to normal. James shrugged.

" That loony toon that thought he was going to take over the world? Dumbledore got rid of him quick enough."

Harry smiled and turned back to the puzzle. Lily pointed.

" Look - eleven words, person who talks to snakes. Parslemouth."

" Got it."

" What about the Death Eaters?" Sirius asked slowly, having a feeling he knew what the answer was going to be.

" Oh, they disbanded for good. Most of them were inducted into the Order of the Phoenix after 'seeing the light'." James grinned. " Most of them were just confused or easily intimidated, not really evil."

Sirius nodded. More wishful thinking. He gazed sadly at his godson's bent head. If only it were that easy. He could easily see why Harry didn't want to leave. Still, he had to. Dumbledore had told him to retrieve Harry was a fairly simple matter, but then why did it feel so damn hard?

" Harry?"

" Opposite of died. Five letters."

" Lived. Harry?" Sirius leaned forward. Already he was starting to hate himself for agreeing to come here. Remus should have been the one to do it; he had a way with words, a way of softening a blow. Sighing mentally, he squared his shoulders and hoped that Harry would forgive him. He cleared his throat and Harry looked up innocently.

" Yeah?"

" Harry...this isn't real."

" Huh?" Harry looked confused. Lily and James looked at each other, and then Lily cleared her throat.

" Here, six letters. Catches the snitch."

" Seeker." Sirius stood up. " Harry, can't you see what's happening here? This isn't real!"

" What are you talking about?" Harry asked warily. " Of course this is real.
What else would it be?"

" Harry, your parents are dead," Sirius said gently. " They're dead and gone. Voldemort destroyed this house when you were a baby. That's how you got that scar--"

He froze when Harry brushed his hair back. There was no scar. Harry glared at him.

" What are you playing at Sirius? Why are you saying these things?" His fingers clutched at the crossword puzzle so tightly the paper was beginning to rip. Lily had one hand on his back and she was glaring at Sirius too. The expression on her face nearly took his breath away, transporting him for a minute back to the Gryffindor common room after one of the Marauders stunts had gotten one of them hurt. Her eyes were flashing with indignation.

" Leave him alone! You're his godfather, for god's sake! Why are you trying to hurt him this way?"

Sirius looked pleadingly at them. " Lily...Harry...I'm not trying to be cruel."

He reached out and took the crushed paper from Harry's white fingers. " Look.... Harry what kind of crossword puzzle is this? You know all these answers."

Harry shrugged. " So it's an easy one." He scowled. " So what?"

Sirius smiled sadly, restraining himself from reaching over to tousle the boy's head.

" Fantasy's are always easy. Your problems simplified, eliminated. Reality is much more difficult to accept. I know that better then anyone."

Harry backed away from him. " Then why are you trying to ruin this? Everything is perfect! I have my parents who love me--"

" You have figments of your imagination, pandering to your innermost desires Harry," Sirius replied, steeling himself. He could feel his own heart breaking as he spoke harshly to the one person he cared the most about in the whole world. He tried not to think of how much Harry would most likely hate him when he brought him out his happy dreams and back into a world where he was hunted, his parents were dead, and new problems crept up around every corner.

It wasn't fair. More then anything, he wanted this. He wanted Harry to have this. This little world Harry had carved out through the use of such a dangerous spell was perfect, the world they could have had if Voldemort never existed. He wanted to joke with James and flirt with Lily in front of him. He wanted Remus to walk in the door, admonishing him and James for being late for work. He wanted Harry to see what his parents had been like, how truly special they had been. But they couldn't. This couldn't be. He fought back his tears as he stood up, towering over Harry and Lily. James stood up, anger written on his handsome face.

" What do you think you're doing?"

Sirius gritted his teeth, staring at the dead form of his best friend, brought to life by his godson.

" You're not real," Sirius told him softly, resolutely ignoring the look of terror starting to break over Harry's face. " I wish to God you were, but you're not. If you were really Harry's father, you'd be telling me to get your son back into the real world before he kills himself or you'd kick my ass from here to China."

James stepped back, an odd look on his face. Sirius waited a minute to see if he would do anything but James simply stared at him. Sirius nodded once.

He turned to Lily who was standing in front of her son protectively. His eyes softened.

" Tiger Lily," he said, using her nickname from the fifth year. "Lily-girl, you'd be threatening to hex my hair three different shades if I even considered leaving Harry here."

Lily gazed at him a long moment before stepping next to her husband. Sirius looked at Harry crouched on the floor, his arms wrapped around himself protectively, glaring up at him in fear and anger. He looked for the entire world like the lost little boy he'd always been inside, the one never seen by his friends or teachers. Harry Potter, legendary defeater of Voldemort was gone, and before Sirius, was Harry Potter, orphan. Sirius prayed for his voice to remain steady as he saw the sheer desperation start to enter Harry's eyes.

" Harry, it's time to wake up for real this time."

" NO!" Harry shouted. There was a loud crack and suddenly the tidy kitchen disappeared, replaced by a black void. They hung there in mid-air, staring at each other, one with deep sadness and the other with fear. " Why did you ruin this for me! I was HAPPY!"

Sirius closed his eyes. When he opened them again, tears were streaming down his face, the strain of the whole situation taking its toll on him. " Harry, I know you wish you had your parents back. If I could give you even five real minutes with them by dying, I'd kill myself in a heartbeat. Not a day goes by that I don't wake up and wish I was crashed in their spare room again, with James downstairs singing off-key while your mother tried to make breakfast without throwing it at him to get him to shut up. If I could give it all back to you, I WOULD."

Harry was shaking. Sirius turned and saw James and Lily standing behind him. They had started to fade. Sirius swallowed. Despite Harry's determination, subconsciously he'd already begun to accept the inevitable. He'd always known deep down, but it had been so easy to just dive head first into the fantasy. Sirius couldn't blame him - he had found himself wavering when he'd first seen James and heard the words of forgiveness he'd so wanted.

" I...I just wanted..." Harry choked out. James and Lily faded even more and even though he knew they weren't real, Sirius had to force himself not to run after them, to keep them there through the sheer force of his will alone.

" I know what you wanted, Harry," he whispered. " I want it too. I wish you didn't have to live with the threat of Voldemort over your head. I wish so much that you could just erase the guilt you feel over Cedric's death. But that's all they are Harry - wishes. It's not real."

There was another crack, louder this time, and suddenly James and Lily were gone. Sirius bit back a cry and turned to see Harry, looking his proper age. He raised his head, and Sirius could see the familiar, lightning-shaped scar branded on his forehead. His eyes looked older, haunted by fears and torments no adult, let alone a child, should have. Sirius looked at him carefully.

" Harry?"

Harry nodded tightly. " Sirius."

The dead tone in his voice sent a shiver down his spine, breaking his heart at the sight of those green eyes so devoid of life. The name Harry Potter had always inspired hope in the wizarding world. But now, there wasn't even a trace of hope to be found in his empty, green eyes. The last remaining shreds of Harry's fantasy life dissipated like the morning mist on a gentle breeze, teasing Sirius with one last attempt to bring back what he wanted most. He shook his head.

" Harry."

" It worked Sirius. You broke the spell. I'll wake up now." Harry's voice remained flat, lifeless. He gazed at Sirius, suddenly looking far older then he should. His eyes were once again filled with shadows of nightmares that would have most adults screaming in the St. Mungo's beds. His arms were still wrapped around himself protectively, and he took a step back, away from his godfather. " You did it."

Sirius nodded slowly but Harry's words filled him with a sort of dread. Then again, it wasn't to be unexpected, was it? Hadn't he just ripped the illusion away? Stolen all that he'd ever wanted? Sirius wanted so desperately to apologize but the words stuck in his throat. Harry looked away. " You'd better go now."

Go? Sirius was about to ask what he meant when all of a sudden he felt an enormous tug right behind his eyes. His head exploded with pain and he cried out in pain as the connection between him and his godson was severed. The last thing he saw was Harry curling up in a small ball before everything went black.


*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Poppy started as Harry suddenly rolled over, curling up on his side in sleep. She hastened to untangle the tubes and wires connecting him to the IV unit, glancing over at Sirius who had a faint frown on his face. She redirected her look at Dumbledore.

" Did it work? Is Harry okay?"

Dumbledore nodded. " In a matter of speaking, Poppy." Madam Pomfrey looked confused until she followed Dumbledore's eyes to where he was staring at Harry, and the single tear sliding down his pale cheek.


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End Chapter 4

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