Disclaimer: Nothing you read here is mine.

One of the (hopefully minor) issues with A Curse of Truth (*ahem* which you should read if you haven't) is that the PoV character is a little too accepting of his situation. I was aware of this while writing it, but I never really came to a conclusion on how to fix it without changing too much of the story. So this was an exercise I did in the middle of writing that: re-imagining how a person might react if he's pulled into an alternate Harry Potter Universe with knowledge of canon, except seen from HP characters' viewpoints. It's a similar situation, except told from a sort of third person sort-of-limited Harry PoV.

It should be obvious from the summary and the Humor category, but this is not to be taken at all seriously (despite how seriously it ends up taking itself). I have Chapter Two and a bit of Three written, but I don't know how much further this will get as this is not my main project. I guess it depends on the response I receive.

I apologize in advance for the ridiculousness.


A Summoning Gone Awry

Chapter One: The Summoning

"Are you sure this is going to work, Luna?" Hermione asked for the tenth time since the ritual began. Her chocolate brown eyes and bushy brown hair clashed magnificently with her black and purple Ravenclaw robes.

"I'll let you know when it's over, my love," Luna said dreamily, slate gray eyes never leaving the runes she's carving around the center of the pentagram.

"Luna..." Hermione whined.

Harry chuckled playfully. "She does that to tease you, Mi. It's only us here, you know that." His bright green eyes danced with mirth as he looked across at Padma and Cho who also hid smiles.

"That doesn't mean it's not embarrassing," she muttered, glancing around at her girlfriends. "Besides, shouldn't she be sure before we actually complete it?"

"Considering it's never been done before, I don't see how that's possible," Cho said, in a velvety soft voice...with a Scottish accent of all things.

"You went over the Arithmantic calculations and the rune placement yourself, Hermione," Padma pointed out, flipping her long, raven locks over her shoulder. "Several times, I might add. Between you, Luna, and Cho in her NEWT year, I trust nothing bad will happen."

"Then why did you have to catch the mistake with the linking multiplier yesterday, Pad?" Hermione said, lips pursed petulantly. "Cho and I both missed that one."

"It was set too low, Hermione," Padma said, rolling her eyes. "It gave us a much larger power margin, or we can complete the ritual four times in a single night instead of three, with only a slightly lower margin than we originally planned."

"That's still assuming they're as powerful as Harry without any of us. What if they're stronger?" Hermione shot back.

"Ladies, ladies," Harry said with a reassuring smile. "You're all brilliant. It's going to work."

"Maybe we should have invited Su or Mike," Hermione said, biting her lip, "in case we need somebody to take us to the Hospital Wing."

"They don't know about us, Mi," Harry reminded her.

"Also, it's really sexy when you bite your lip that," Cho said with a grin.

"Cho..." the bushy-haired girl growled.

"That, too," Padma put in.

"You're impossible, all of you," Hermione huffed.

"That's why you love us," Luna said happily, sitting up. "Harry, will you funnel a bit into the naud at your apex? Just a little, I want to test the flow and balance."

Harry chuckled playfully. "Not gonna lie, Luna, that sounds more than a little bit dirty."

"Focus, Harry," Hermione scolded.

"Already going," Harry said as his eyes seemed to flare green without even pulling out his wand.

Luna quickly tapped her wand to her temple, after which her slate gray eyes turned completely white. "Whoa, stop Harry, you're activating the elemental controls as well. No, it's fine, there's not enough power to open the center. Cho, the stem of your laguz should be a bit longer, and the top left to bottom right diagonal of your dagaz needs to be slightly wider, Padma." She taps her wand to the same temple and her gray eyes return.

"No matter how many times I see that, Luna, it's still scary," Cho said, shuddering slightly before bending down to fix her water rune.

"Is that it, Luna?" Hermione asked in surprise.

The smallest of the four girls shook her head, dirty blonde hair bouncing off her shoulders. "At least as far as the charging, distribution, and elemental runes go. We can't monitor the disruption fields until we actually attempt the first summoning."

"That sounds like a recipe for disaster," the bushy-haired brunette said, more to herself.

"You know the fields will collapse inward, if they do at all," Cho pointed out from her knees, "that's why you insisted on wasting energy by cascading the hagal-reid rings inward five degrees per step and added in an outer algiz ring, remember?"

"It's not a waste," Hermione pouted.

"You're right, my Heart," Harry said, his expression placating. "I'm pretty sure I could have regulated the draw without it, but I'd rather you all be safer." He was telling the truth; putting as much energy into the hagal-reid disruption field as they were planning...well, having it collapsing outward would hurt. The algiz Shield ring would have absorbed some of that, but he didn't like taking stupid chances. Or at least, not when it involved his girls.

Hermione beamed at him.

"Ever the chivalrous one, our Harry is," Luna said, her head tilted to one side and lips curled up into a smile.

"Done, here," Padma announced as she joined her four friends on their feet.

"Looks good, Padma," Luna said, giving the olive-skinned beauty a nod after scrutinizing her work. "Harry, can you try it again? And use your wand this time, if you don't mind, so we can open the gates separately."

"Of course, my Light."

Luna cheeks pinked for a moment at Harry's use of her pet name before she tapped her wand to her temple once again. Harry touched his wand to the naud rune, which once again causes the thurs power runes to glow slightly. "Perfect. Hermione, Padma, wands to your ansuz, please." The two comply and their odal and dagaz runes, respectively, glow slightly. "Cho, our turn." The two at the bottom of the formation touch their wands to the control runes and Luna's ingwaz and Cho's laguz glow with the same brightness. "Harry, there should be enough in the power runes, now. Go ahead and open the gate to your mannaz."

He tapped his wand to his ansuz and then stood back up with the four girls. "There was a mild resonance backlash there," Harry reported.

Luna nodded, eyes still on the rune-laced pentagram. "I saw."

"Should be regulated by the algiz ring," Hermione pointed out.

"And opening the gates simultaneously," Cho added.

"How are we on efficiency, Luna? I don't think I'm feeling any dissipation." Padma said.

"I don't really see any either. A minimum of ninety-five percent, I'd say. Pretty much perfect isaz placement."

Harry reaches his hand over to the girl on his left. "Bloody hell Pad, that's fantastic!"

"Language, Harry," Hermione chided as the olive-skinned girl blushed at the compliment.

"Sorry, Mi," Harry said with a smile that said he was anything but. "Well, at this point I think we should go for it."

"Ugh, sometimes I think you should have been in Gryffindor, Harry," Hermione said in disgust.

Harry chuckled at that. "You wound me! I mean, Parv's okay, and the Weasley Twins were brilliant, but what would I have done there all these years?"

"The Weasley Twins, Harry?" Hermione put her hands on her hips in her quite familiar and endearing scolding stance. "They left school before they even took their NEWTs!"

"And look where they are," he countered. "You know how brilliant they both are at Potions; I'd put them up against you and me even with the Prince's notes, and they had Snape the whole time! And while Fred was better at Charms and Transfiguration, George probably could have pulled some of this off, too."

"But they broke the rules constantly!"

"And what would you call this, Hermione?" Cho asked with a grin.

"It's not against the rules to design your own rituals," Hermione muttered.

"I suppose in that case we should pay the headmaster a visit, see what he thinks of our work," Padma said with a suppressed grin.

Hermione's mouth clamped shut at that.

"Let's go higher, Harry," Luna cut in finally. "Everybody close your elemental gates." They all tapped their wand to their respective control runes almost simultaneously.

"Link for this one?" Cho asked. Luna started to shake her head, but Cho persisted. "We should, just to make sure our link doesn't destabilize the charging process."

"She's right, Luna," Hermione put in, "I know it shouldn't since we're going through Harry, but we might as well make our test match the real thing as closely as possible."

Luna nods. "Brilliant, as always. Can you set me up, Hermione?"

"Sure, you need a recharge?" Hermione asked.

"A little, I kept the Sight up too long that last time." Hermione and Luna joined hands, and the latter sighed in relief before she reached out to Cho. Padma joined soon after, only leaving Harry out of the link.

"Damn, Luna, I think you're catching up to me," Cho grumbled.

Luna shook her head. "That's Hermione's fault, I'm over-saturated. Are you drawing on your Twin Bond, Padma? You're getting closer to Hermione I think."

It was Padma's turn to shake her head. "I was before now, so I'm still near full. But I close it off when we're linked, since I'm pretty sure Parv would feel it...especially with Harry linked. And I only seem closer to Hermione after she shared some with you, and even now she's still well ahead."

Harry glanced between them. "Can you use the excess, Luna? Doesn't that increase our power margin?"

"In the link we can use it," she said slowly, "but as soon as we drop out, the excess would dissipate quickly."

"I think we should ignore the extra power margin, Harry," Hermione said firmly.

"No problem," Harry said with a shrug. Then he grinned. "So are you ladies done feeling each other up or are you balanced now?"

"You're such a pervert, Harry," Hermione said with a roll of her eyes.

"Frankly, I have four rather good reasons to be," he said cheekily. "It's a wonder I get anything done at all."

"Too much, Hermione!" Luna gasped just before her and Cho let out a sigh of relief.

"Sorry," Hermione said sheepishly. Harry figured he riled her up a bit too much that time. She turned a mock glare on Harry. "We're ready now, pervert."

With a grin, Harry offered up both hands and Hermione and Padma took them simultaneously. "Got it!" All four women gasped at the initial burst when Harry joined the link.

"Not yet, Harry! Morgana's tits, have you gotten stronger since last week?" Padma cursed as she panted.

"Language, Padma," Hermione said without conviction, eyes glazed over with the pleasure and pain of Harry's overwhelming magical energy surging through the link.

"Sorry ladies," Harry said as he controlled his output and almost immediately heard four equally relieved sighs.

"Link is still stable, passing control to you, Harry," Hermione reported. Once Harry felt the ball pass to him – for that's what it felt like, a ball of tightly interwoven magic – he ramped up his magic again. They dropped each others hands then, having no need for physical contact after the final link was established.

"Padma's right, Harry, you are stronger," Cho said.

"We haven't linked with him in a while, I think we're just used to Hermione doing the overwhelming," Padma pointed out. "Maybe it's part of the same thing, but Harry's magic does feel rougher, though."

"It is magnificent," Luna said dreamily. "Harry, go ahead and start charging. I don't think it will matter in the long run, but don't forget to drain enough from us so we won't lose the extra juice Hermione gave me."

"Drain your juice?" Harry grinned widely. "You make me sound like a—"

"Harry," Hermione cut him off.

"Sorry, Mi. Charging." Harry held his wand against the naud rune, slowly accelerating the process.

"Luna," Hermione said, voice growing worried at a flicker in the bright, bluish-white glow of the lower two thurs runes.

"Harry can you—?" Luna's eyes turn white before she finished voicing the question. "Thanks. Back up, Harry. Getting too close to resonance down here."

"No problem." Harry backed off quickly so the light stabilized, then slowly pushed it back up.

"Stop, just a pinch lower, Harry," Luna said.

Harry complied. "It could take some time to max out at this flow rate. I've got a feel for it now, I think I could jump past the resonance."

"No, Harry," Hermione said quickly. "You could jump right into the second one. We can handle this."

"A little flickering won't hurt," Padma pointed out.

"I'd rather not drop the efficiency of your wonderful charging runes, Pad," Cho said.

"Actually, Harry, let's go ahead and open the elemental gates," Luna said.

"On my mark," Harry said crisply, removing his wand from the naud rune and giving the ladies time to move their wands into position. "Three, two, one, mark!" The white light slowly poured into each of the element runes. Harry's mannaz glowed purple, Hermione's odal glowed yellow, Luna's ingwaz glowed green, Cho's laguz glowed blue, and Padma's kaunan glowed orange. The thurs power runes dimmed slightly. "Looks completely solid! Simply beautiful, ladies."

"Harry, try to charge it up again," Hermione said, eyes unfocused in thought. "The extra pathways should change the fundamental frequency."

"Up or down, Hermione?" Cho asked. "I can't do that in my head."

After a moment she shakes her head. "I can't either. Harry, start over again, just in case."

"You got it, boss." Hermione rolled her eyes as Harry pressed his wand tip back to the siphoning rune. "You with me, Luna?"

"I'm watching," Luna assured Harry as he slowly increased the flow once again. In too short a time, Luna spoke again. "Stop, Harry, back it up a little."

"But this is slower than before," he said, disappointed.

"Sorry, nothing we can do now," Luna said.

"Hermione," Cho said in a thoughtful voice, "we could tinker with the diameter of the circle or the distance between the thurs and elemental runes."

"Hmm, yes I see. The sizing of the ansuz channels, too. Good catch, Cho," Hermione mused.

"It took us a week to get this far!" Harry complained.

Padma, ever the pragmatist, steps in. "Well, if we're still going through with it tonight – which I think we should – then for subsequent runs we'll just have to max out first before opening the elemental gates."

This placated Harry somewhat. "So what do we do with this run, ladies? Surely we've used more power than we intended for a simple test. I say we open the central gates and complete the summoning."

"No! That's not what we planned, Harry," Hermione said quickly.

"Mi, you said it yourself: what if they're stronger than we intended? What if they're stronger than all of us combined? At low power we might not get somebody that can help too much, but at least we won't summon a demon or something." He grinned at the roll of her eyes.

"There's no such thing as a demon, Harry," she said flatly, then sighed. "But I suppose you have a point." A burst of anticipation surged through the link, turning cheeks pink all around while Hermione tried to suppress a smile. "Easy there, Harry."

"A little further first, we need to make sure we have plenty to fully activate the third disruptor ring in case the shield ring isn't as efficient as I think it will be," Luna said.

That only slightly dampened the anticipation, which slowly grew back to being stronger than before in the silence that followed.

"Are we going to stay linked afterward?" Hermione asked despite knowing the answer.

"I very much doubt we'll be in danger at this level," Harry said.

"Famous last words," she retorted. "We agreed that we would stay linked this time. You know what might have happened last year if we—"

"I know, Hermione," Harry cut in, anger flaring in the link. All four girls flinched...they knew it was a mistake to bring up the fiasco at the Ministry that had claimed his godfather. Who would've known he and the Order were going to charge in like Gryffindor fools and ruin his plan to spring the trap? Under his cloak and linked to the four Disillusioned girls just outside the Department of Mysteries, he had Disarmed, Stunned, and bound three Death Eaters when the Order charged in. They were forced to drop the link to help out, and then Hermione's grievous injury and Sirius' death enraged him so much that he didn't get to link for his brief fight with Voldemort before Dumbledore had stepped in.

The three young women not involved in the mild spat poured love and forgiveness into the link, which quickly calmed Harry and soothed Hermione. "It won't do to be angry for the summoning," Luna reminded him softly, "if you want to avoid summoning an angry demon."

Harry took a final deep breath and couldn't help but let out a quick chuckle and a small smile. Only Luna could get away with jokes like that. "I'm sorry, Hermione," he said softly.

"I'm sorry, too," she said back, reinforcing her apology with sensations of regret through the link.

After a few moments to dissipate the remnants of the brief disagreement, the anticipation returned. "If you're ready, Harry..." Luna began, but she paused to take a deep breath. "...open up the final gates."

"You know it's going to work," Padma said suddenly. She undoubtedly felt the growing anxiety in the link. It was almost certainly mostly from Hermione, but Harry would be feeling it, too. "You know your part, Harry, you won't fail. Remember why we're doing this. Remember: we'll bring help, and we'll stop Riddle and his Death Eaters. We'll bring help, and no more families will be torn apart in this senseless war." The dagaz rune position belonged to Padma for a reason. Her surprisingly fiery passion galvanized Harry and the other witches, sending waves of confidence through the link.

Five arms shot out as one, opening the gates to the algiz ring, popping a shimmering, pulsing blue shield into existence. Within that, the normally ghostly, purplish-gray smoke of the hagal rings' disruption field was tinted rather blue. With the shield in place, Hermione realized her color observations for the hagal rings were quite useless until she could adjust her current data.

"What's wrong, Hermione?" Cho asked, obviously feeling the unease through the link and attributing it to her.

"I never tried a hagal ring inside an algiz shield before," Hermione said, frowning. "I can't tell if the color's right."

"Can it be wrong?" Padma asked, doubt filtering through the link.

"Tyr and beorc runes respond differently to men and women, and Harry didn't test the hagal rings," Hermione said.

"That's because two former ones are the male and female runes," Cho pointed out, "this should be fine."

"It is the same color," Luna said unhesitatingly, her white eyes never leaving the blue sphere filled with purplish light. Suddenly it reminded them all of the prophecy orb in the Department of Mysteries, which caused another spike of concern.

A wave of comfort washed through the link, obviously from Harry, who, controlling the link, couldn't speak once the disruption field was up.

The Shield sphere ballooned to three meters in diameter and stabilized when it touched the small, matching algiz ring affixed to the ceiling. The purplish smoke of the disruptor field thickened, and thin, grayish bolts of electricity began to arc through the roiling clouds. Each participant slowly lost sight of the two people on the opposite points of the pentagram.

Harry wasted no time; he began chanting in a deep voice, Old Norse smoothly flowing off his tongue.

"Þat kann ek it sjette
erilaz að rúnum spyrr.
Haidzruno runu, falahak haidera, ginnarunaz.
svá ek ríst ok í rúnum fák,
at sá gengr gumi
ok mælir við mik."

His eyes pulsed with power as he chanted, and within the sphere, greenish electrical arcs the color of his eyes joined the gray. His wand, still touching the naud entry point, glowed a brilliant red as if a powerful Reductor Curse was about to blast the pentagram entirely away. Both anxiety and confidence surged in the link at the sight of the maelstrom and the imminent final step.

With a determined look at each of the four girls, Harry turned his attention back to the center of the pentagram, and his eyes flared even brighter. "Evocatio!"

The five elemental colors plus the red from Harry's wand surged through the lines and runes carved into the raised stone floor. The shield swirled with iridescence as the wave passed through the ring of protection, then settled back to a light blue just as the now-spinning purplish smoke within flashed white. The previously muffled sounds within grew into a miniature thunderstorm, drowning out gasps from Hermione and probably others. Harry held his wand steady, continuing to feed the maelstrom. The emotions in the link were just as chaotic, so he had no way of knowing if Luna wanted him to stop.

Suddenly the last of the energy in the elemental runes flowed toward the center, and Harry instinctively lifted his wand. The power runes faded, but did not drain completely. The shield lightened and thinned to a pale blue, then softly popped as if someone had just Apparated. An inane flash of amusement entered the bond because that's probably a fair description. The thinning, heavier-than-air, gray smoke – Harry realized the purplish color must have been the magical piece of it – fell downward, first revealing Cho sharing a look with Padma and then Luna staring wide- and white-eyed at the center of the pentagram. The smoke dropped enough that Harry almost jumped back at the head that appeared within, swiveling quickly around to take in his surroundings. The man's relatively short, dark brown hair fell lazily over the top of a fair-skinned face. The thin, chinstrap beard threw Harry at first, but he decided the man was in his twenties.

"What the—? Is this a dream?" The man spoke English, but it wasn't an accent with which Harry was familiar. "Where am I? I swear I was just—" the man began in a shaky voice, then his eyes widened and his palms shot up to his temples. He let out a rather pathetic moan.

A flash of concern for the man came through the link, and out of his peripheral vision, Harry saw Hermione shifting uncomfortably. "Are you alright, sir?"

"Massive hangover," he said, then muttered, "and I didn't even get to enjoy the drinking part of it."

Harry sent a tendril of Healing magic, and felt a stream of gratefulness through the link.

"Oh, that tingles..." then his eyes shot up to Hermione. "Wow, that feels good! Are you doing something to me?"

Hermione pointed to Harry.

A string of emotions played across the man's face. Harry thought he caught a hint of fear along with confusion and finally relief. "Thanks, dude. That's much better."

Dude?

"So, uh, where am I? What am I—?" It was then the man looked down and saw their pentagram through the dissipated smoke. He jumped up with a yelp of fear, and Harry almost stumbled back when he realized the man was quite a bit larger than them. Nothing on Hagrid, of course, but he had to be close to two meters tall with broad shoulders, but under his Muggle jeans and short-sleeved shirt he seemed rather lean; his arms were only lightly muscled. "What is that?" He stumbled backward toward Cho, but then twisted out of the collision course when she gasped and dodged away from him. That broke the other three girls out of their frozen state, and they all converged on Harry. The man looked chagrined. "Sorry about that, miss, I didn't see you there."

"The five of us...brought you here...because we need help," Harry said, stumbling over the words. He cursed himself for not thinking about what they'd actually say to somebody they summoned.

The man's head cocked back. "You need my help?"

"Er...we didn't ask for you in particular," Harry clarified, "just help in general."

The man took a long look at each of them, then at the rune circle on the floor. "Well, I think you messed up. Whatever you did to bring me here and whatever you did to fix my headache, I can't do that. In fact, I'm still fairly certain this is a dream, excepting the fact that I haven't woken up yet despite realizing that." The man furrowed his brows.

"Please, sir, I assure you this is not a dream. I'm Hermione Granger, what's your name?"

The man's eyes snapped up at her declaration. Was that recognition? The other girls introduced themselves and Harry followed suit. The man laughed long and hard. "Okay, I know this is a dream, now. What the hell are you doing in Ravenclaw robes, Harry, Hermione? You're supposed to be in Gryffindor!" He squinted at Harry and the others. "And what year are you in, fifth, sixth?"

The five Hogwarts students goggled at the man, but he was looking around now.

"I suppose this is the Room of Requirement? I didn't think Dumbledore's Army did anything like this." The man said, gesturing to the floor.

Harry was the first to recover from the shock. "W-what...h-how did you—?"

The man met Harry's gaze seriously. "Magic." Then he howled with laughter again.

"Is he...okay...in the head?" Hermione asked the others in a stage whisper that the man seemed to ignore.

"He is sane," Luna said. "He just doesn't believe what's happening to him. He seems to know who we are, despite his implication that he is a Muggle."

"And from the States, if I correctly place his accent," Padma added.

Hermione asked him to verify those two items.

"Oh yes, I am from the U.S., except I'm from the year 2012. What is it here, I'm guessing '95 or '96? It's odd to think about but you were all born before me, even if I'm older."

"It's April Eighteenth, 1997," Hermione said dully, apparently still processing this man's statements.

The man cringed slightly. "Ah, I think it's still early enough. That would make you sixth years, except for Cho and Luna, right? And that means Draco is sneaking around cursing people and you don't believe Harry's suspicions, right, Hermione?"

This shocked Harry right out of the link, and at the look on their faces the man chuckled grimly.

"Tsk, tsk, Hermione," the man said, still grinning inanely, "when has Harry steered you wrong before? Draco's going to try and bring Death Eaters into the castle before this year is up, you know. Well, he's already trying, actually."

"I knew it!" Harry blurted, looking at Hermione.

She flushed quite red in embarrassment, but kept a steady gaze on the newcomer. "How could you possibly know that?"

"I already told you, magic," he said with an amused smile. "Besides, I'm from the future, right? Although it is a future from some kind of parallel universe." The man rubbed his lightly bearded chin, then his face lit up and he started searching through his pockets. "This is a pretty cool dream, so I should be able to do magic, right? I'd imagine I would have been able to make a wand appear, though."

"This isn't a dream," Hermione said exasperatedly, "and you didn't really answer the question. How is Draco supposedly going to do bring Death Eaters into the castle?"

"A Vanishing Cabinet. One is at Borgin & Burkes in Knockturn Alley..." the man said distractedly, still searching his pockets and looking around on the floor. Finally he looked up and squinted at the students. "You saw that one at the beginning of the year, didn't you? The matching one is here in the Room of Requirement. Well, not here, here, but in the room you get when you tell the Room that you need a place to hide something. Draco is going to try and fix it, if he hasn't started already." Harry and the others are stunned into silence. "Say, do you have the Half-Blood Prince's Potions book? You haven't tried sectumsempra, yet, have you?"

"N-no," Harry stammered. "I mean I have the book but I haven't tried...how did you know about—?"

The man let out a relieved breath. "That's good...don't do that. It's a dark cutting curse, nasty stuff that is. Now, hmm, what else is going on?" The man had asked himself, so Harry returned to being completely flabbergasted by him.

"Well since you're here, apparently you're able to help us. Are you sure you're a Muggle from the United States?" Padma asked. "You know an awful lot about both magic and Hogwarts itself for that."

"When I'm not dreaming, I have no magic, no training with weapons or martial arts, and despite being pretty tall I'm not very strong. I'm sorry to say I would be entirely useless to you." The man laughed rather jovially despite that rather dim proclamation, but then he stopped and scratched his head. "But I'm sure I can figure out how to use magic here. Wingardium Leviosa!" The man had flung his hand, palm out, toward some sheets of parchment lying on the table. They didn't budge, which caused him to mutter in an annoyed voice. "Stupefy! Protego!" Nothing happened. Then he looked back up at Padma and shrugged helplessly. "Well, since my own dream isn't letting me do magic, I suppose I could throw rocks at Death Eaters if you want me too."

Luna giggled, surprising Harry and the others and getting a big smile from the newcomer. "Don't you see, Harry: the ritual brought him here because he can help us, even though his dream won't let him do magic."

"Luna..." Hermione said, rolling her eyes.

"She's right," the man said, rubbing his chin. "I've already established that some things are different..." he gestures meaningfully toward Harry and Hermione's clothing. "But some important things are the same. Harry, were you raised by your magic-hating aunt and uncle and forced to sleep in the cupboard under the stairs until Hagrid hand-delivered your letter from Hogwarts, after which you found out for the first time about your parents?"

Harry paled and the girls gasped.

"Ah, you didn't tell them about the cupboard, did you? Sorry about that. But let's keep going. You met Hermione and Ron on the train...I guess you found Hermione more to your liking this time? First year you fought a possessed Professor Quirrell when he tried to take the Philosopher's Stone, second year you fought the basilisk, third year you found out Sirius was innocent and your godfather, fourth year you were forced to enter the Triwizard Tournament, and fifth year..." the man's eyes snapped up and saw Harry stagger as if struck. "Aw, shit, sorry about Sirius, man." The man rapped his forehead with his fist, then looked up apologetically. "What about the rest? Did you still get the Sword of Gryffindor when you fought the basilisk, since you're in Ravenclaw?" Then his eyes widened. "Ginny...?"

The pained expressions and Hermione's arm around Harry's slumped shoulders were all the response he needed.

"Shit." The man ran his fingers through his short brown hair and looked at the ground for several moments before returning their empty gaze. "Shit, shit, shit. What about Cedric at the Tournament?"

The empty gaze was soon clouded by confusion. "What about him?" Harry asked, brows furrowed.

The man blew out a breath. "At least some things turned out better," he said under his breath. "How about Dumbledore? Is his hand blackened?"

"Y-yes..." Harry stammered.

"Damn," the dark brown-haired Muggle muttered before sighing heavily and falling silent, apparently deep in thought. After several minutes he looked back up with a confused expression. "Well, I don't know how long this dream is going to last, but do you have any questions for me? I'd ask you more myself, but despite the fact that you're all figments of my imagination I'd rather not see those pained expressions again. So how can I help?"

It wasn't until then that Harry realized that everybody had just been staring off into space. "Do we win?" Padma blurted out finally.

The man scratched his head and smiled. "Well you should realize that since I'm apparently from some other universe and things are slightly different here, I can't really answer that question. But you did, in mine, if that makes you feel better." He opened his mouth to say more, but apparently thought better of it because he clamped his mouth shut again.

"What?" Hermione asked, curiosity getting the better of her.

The man dropped his gaze. "A lot of bad things happened before you did, though. But that's why you're doing this, right?"

Harry looked pale but determined. "What kind of bad things?"

"Well, all five of you lived, but beyond that I'd rather not talk about it at the moment. I'd rather not wake up sad, you know?"

Luna tilted her head and frowns slightly. "What's your name?"

The man hit himself on the head. "Sorry about that! That was awfully rude of me. Call me Lerner."


A/N:

The runes in the story are Old Norse runes, but I'm using the earlier Elder Futhark names for some of them to help differentiate them. Somehow, calling the ansuz runes the ass runes (the actual Old Norse term, I kid you not) doesn't seem right. Here is how I use them (A Curse of Truth readers might note the usage of some may be different):

Thurs - power rune - stores magical energy
Ansuz - control rune - controls flow of magical energy
Naud - siphoning rune - pulls magical energy from the one touching it
Isaz - stabilizing rune - stabilizes power runes to avoid leakage of magical energy
Algiz - rune of protection - forms a protective barrier
Mannaz - spirit rune
Laguz - water rune
Ingwaz - air rune
Odal
- earth rune
Dagaz - fire rune
Hagal - rune of disruption
Reid - rune of travel - paired with hagal and fed with the five elements, opens portals to other realities
Tyr - male rune
Beorc - female rune
Uruz - not used yet
Kenaz - not used yet
Gifu - not used yet
Wynja - not used yet
Jara - not used yet
Pertho - not used yet
Eoh - not used yet
Sig - not used yet
Ehwaz - not used yet

The incantation is proto-Norse, which, through playing with online translation tools, I have come to find is somewhere between Icelandic and Danish. Most of it comes verbatim from a spell that Odin says can bring a man back from the dead, from the book of Old Norse poems called Hávamál. The third line is the only exception, which comes from the Björketorp Runestone. The first line was originally tolfta instead of sjette, but twelfth didn't make any sense in my story so I changed it to the Danish word for sixth (twelfth in Old Norse was closer to Danish than Icelandic). The second line is taken from a different part of Hávamál with my own modification. The translation is hopefully something like this:

I know a sixth one if I see
a magician/warrior asked of the runes,
I, master of the runes conceal here runes of power
I can so carve and color the runes,
that the man walks
and talks with me.

Not terribly impressive in English, I know, but it's fairly close to Odin's spell. My modification was to add erilaz, which is a proto-Norse word translated here as magician/warrior due to historical ambiguity. Wikipedia says that it recently has been shown to most likely be simply a military title similar to earl.

Evocatio - I summon - Romans used to do this as a form of psychological warfare, as if they were summoning away the deity or guardian of the city they were attacking. Not what I'm doing, but it sounded better than other options I came up with.

Lastly, my Ravenclaw Hermione likes nicknames.

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