Harry’s brain registered a cold feeling before he opened his eyes. His D.A. instincts compelled him to keep them shut while he tried to determine what was going on around him. Something cool was resting on his head, and he could hear a female voice muttering something. It wasn’t clear whether she was talking to herself or to someone else in the room.
Harry’s mind tried to wrap itself around the words. It didn’t sound like Madam Pomfrey was talking. Not Ginny or Hermione either. Harry latched onto the only other person who made any sense.
“Mrs.Weasley?” he muttered.
“No, Harry,” the woman answered.
“Who are you? Where am I?” Harry asked. He opened his eyes, but sunlight was streaming through an open window so Harry shut his eyes again.
“You’re home now. Safe.”
“At the Burrow?” Harry asked.
“No, sweetheart. Godric’s Hollow. You came home from the Burrow last week, remember?”
That got Harry’s attention. He opened his eyes, blinking away the haze the sunlight caused. He turned over and started to fumble for his glasses. They were pressed into his hand a moment later.
Harry put his glasses on and sat up. As Lily came into focus, Harry went on alert again.
“Where am I? Who are you?” he growled.
Lily looked hurt for a moment, but then retorted sharply, “That’s enough. Any more of this foolishness and you won’t see a Quidditch Pitch again for the rest of the year.”
Harry glared at her, and then got out of bed. “Where’re my shoes?”
Before Lily could answer, Harry spotted them. A moment later, he pulled on a shirt. He pushed past Lily, and out into the hallway. He returned to the kitchen, to be greeted by a very concerned looking James Potter and an extremely upset Hermione Granger. Harry opened his mouth to begin questioning James again, but Hermione leapt out of her chair and wrapped her arms around him before he could utter a sound.
“Are you all right? What’s happened to you? I’ve told you those Wonky Faints are dangerous!”
Harry tried to answer, but a strangled gasp was the best he could do. Hermione loosened her grip enough for him to speak. Despite the gravity of the situation he found himself in, Harry’s first response was to correct her.
“Wronski feint,” he said. James’ face cracked just a bit.
“She never could pronounce that,” James said in a stage whisper, before going serious again.
“What’s going on, son?”
“I was going to ask you the same question,” Harry replied.
“I hate to say it, but I’m starting to wonder if your mother is right. Maybe we should take you off the team for a while. Maybe that last fall did more damage than you led us to believe.”
“I don’t think this is funny,” Harry spat. James just looked concerned. Hermione backed away from him and sighed. She sat down next to Lily, who had joined them.
James gave a very long sigh, and looked toward the Heavens. “Why don’t you take this from the top? What’s going on?”
“I don’t know. It’s fuzzy. I remember something about a Portkey and a flash of red light. Someone was yelling. Something had gone wrong, and then I woke up here.”
“Sounds like an interesting dream--” James began.
“This isn’t a dream. And I didn’t fall off my broom, so don’t start,” he said, looking in Lily’s direction. “Look,” he continued, “I want to speak to Dumbledore.”
Lily and James glanced at each. It seemed to Harry that a whole conversation passed between them.
“Albus did say that anytime Harry wanted to speak to him…” James finally spoke.
“That was a long time ago,” Lily countered.
“Still, it might help us get to the bottom of this. Maybe it’ll put Harry’s mind at ease,” James reasoned.
“Fine. Floo him then,” Lily said. “If you think it will help.”
James got up and did just that. A moment later, Harry was staring at someone he didn’t recognize.
“Who--” Harry began, but a moment later his mind made the leap. This was Dumbledore. He just looked a lot less care-worn.
“Harry,” Albus said gently, peering over his half moon glasses.
“Professor, I need…could we…”
“Perhaps you would like to speak in my office?” Albus asked.
“Yes,” Harry said, feeling relieved.
Behind him, Harry heard his mother whisper “Professor?” as though the word shocked her. Ignoring that, Harry stepped into the flames. A dizzying moment later, he stepped into Albus’ office.
“This isn’t Hogwarts,” he said, apparently more loudly than intended.
“No Harry. I’m afraid it isn’t.” Albus replied. Harry’s nose began to detect the distinct odor of disinfectant common to hospitals everywhere.
“Albus Dumbledore, Chancellor of Medicine,” Harry read the name tag on Albus’ desk.
“Yes indeed. A fascinating post, if I do say so myself. Would you like a lemon drop?” Albus asked, offering Harry one out of a tin he produced.
“No, thank you,” Harry replied.
“Very well then. What can I do for you?” Albus said, gesturing Harry to sit in a chair across from him.
“This…isn’t right.” Harry said. “It’s just…not how it’s supposed to be.”
“What isn’t right, Harry?”
“You. This office. The place I woke up this morning. None of it.”
“How so?” Albus prompted gently.
“Why are we in St. Mungos? You should in the Headmaster’s office at Hogwarts. Godric’s Hollow…shouldn’t exist. It was destroyed when Voldemort gave me this,” Harry ranted, slapping his forehead.
“Gave you what, Harry?”
“My scar!” Harry yelled, beginning to lose patience.
“Scar?” Albus’ face held a quizzical expression.
“Thi--” Harry began, cutting himself off midway through the word when Albus conjured a reflective bubble from his wand. Harry’s forehead was smooth. There was no scar at all. Harry shot out of the chair, and then collapsed back into it. He rested his head in his hands and said softly, “This doesn’t make any sense.”
The clock ticked patiently while Harry covered his eyes. Albus said nothing.
“I don’t understand, Professor.”
“Why don’t you just start from the beginning, Harry? I promise not to interrupt or to make any judgments about you until you are finished. If I may, I would like to have James and Lily listen to this,” Albus told him.
“Fine, but--” Harry began. Albus nodded.
“I’ll make sure they let you speak without interruption.”
A few moments later, James and Lily stood in the room. Albus drew up chairs for them and they each sat down. Albus explained to each of them that Harry was going to try and put into words what was going on, and that they mustn’t interrupt.
Harry took a deep breath, and began. “Fred, George, and I were working on a secret project for the war effort. Something…” Harry trailed off as the information began to reassert itself in his mind. “A new type of Portkey that the Death Eaters couldn’t trace. I was going to test it. Remus was there. I remember grabbing onto the Portkey and then waking up here.”
“That certainly sounds like something they’d invent,” Albus said, “but you told me that none of this is right. What do you mean?”
“You should be at Hogwarts. You’re the Headmaster. Godric’s Hollow shouldn’t be here. I should have a scar from Voldemort trying to use Avada Kedavra on me. My parents are dead. They died trying to save me from him. And Hermione? She wasn’t acting normal. I mean, she might hang on Ron from time to time, but I would have expected Ginny to hex her if she’d seen--”
The faces of the adults in the room had gone very grave. They looked at one another with concern. Harry gently banged his head against the desk.
“Pretend I’ve been living under a rock and tell me why you’re looking at me like that,” Harry demanded.
James glanced at Dumbledore, who nodded.
“By Ginny, you mean Ginevra Weasley?” he asked.
“Yes,” Harry confirmed.
“Harry,” Lily said softly, “she’s dead. She died in the Chamber of Secrets almost seven years ago. Daydreaming about her won’t bring her back.”
Harry’s eyes nearly popped out of his head. “What?”
“She came into possession of an old school diary of Voldemort’s,” Dumbledore explained.
“I know,” Harry said. “I was there. He was trying to use her life force to come back to life after he almost died trying to kill me.”
James stared at him for a moment, and then spoke. “Voldemort entered the chamber through another passage. His younger self had possessed her, but he executed her and took the diary with him.”
“That diary is a Horcrux, Professor,” Harry muttered.
Dumbledore gave Harry a sharp look, but said only, “We know.”
“He must have overheard us talking about it Alb--” James began.
“She wasn’t. That’s behavior I’d expect toward Ron. From the way things are going around here, I’m surprised I haven’t seen Wormtail running around in a pink clown suit.”
“No, Wormtail is on duty at the Ministry today, just like he has been for the past ten years,” James replied.
“That’s impossible. He was the Secret Keeper. He gave my parents to Voldemort.”
“I was the Secret Keeper, Harry,” Dumbledore deadpanned.
“Then what of Sirius?” Harry growled.
“Headmaster Sirius. He teaches at Hogwarts,” Lily explained.
“Defense Against the Dark Arts,” James said.
“I suggest we take a few moments and have a drink. We could all use a few moments to clear our heads,” Albus announced before any more discussion could take place.
“I don’t want a drink,” Harry snarled. “I want to know what the hell is going on.”
“Harry…If you need a safe place to stay, I think we could arrange that,” Dumbledore began gently.
“You all think I’m crazy! You think I’m losing my mind!” Harry said.
“No one said anything about--” James started, but Harry shot out of his chair, through the office door, and began running down the corridor. Behind him, he could hear the voices of Albus, James, and Lily shouting for him to stop. His D.A. instincts caused him to duck a spell, and he went into a roll to avoid another. Turning quickly, he shot down another corridor before slamming headlong into an old man, who crumpled to the floor. Harry glanced at him, but didn’t slow down. The adults fell behind slightly as they checked the man’s injuries. Harry darted into yet another corridor. It began to feel like St. Mungo's had turned into a maze.
Harry turned a corner and slammed into a wall which was pretending to be an exit. Someone grabbed him from the side and pulled him into a door he hadn’t seen as he began to feel the effects of his collision.
“Lockhart?” Harry shuddered when his eyes cleared.
“Who else? I’m getting awfully tired of saving your ass.”
“Now I’ve seen everything,” Harry muttered. Gone was Lockhart’s gleaming smile and finely combed hair. He looked battle-worn and tired.
“What happened?” Harry asked.
“What do you think? Voldemort’s forces attacked Diagon Alley. Damn it! He’s got a lot of nerve after the beating we gave him at Azkaban. Who were you running from, anyway?” Lockhart asked.
“My parents. Or, people pretending to be my parents, anyway.”
“Polyjuice?” Lockhart muttered, more to himself than to Harry, “Come on.”
Harry followed Lockhart, who ducked into the shadows. They slipped silently past Dumbledore’s office and hung in the shadows, listening to what was going on.
“Where did he go?” Lily was saying.
“I don’t know!” James answered. “Damn Quidditch. It’s never been this bad before!”
“We have a bigger problem,” Dumbledore cut in, “Diagon Alley.”
“I know! I know!” Lily screamed.
“I doubt he can get out of St. Mungos,” James muttered, “Lily, get in touch with Padfoot. Albus, I’m going to Diagon Alley. Keep an eye out for Harry?”
“Two eyes, as often as I can,” Albus replied.
“That boy will give me even more grey hair!” James complained, before running off to an Apparation point.
Lily rolled her eyes and ran in a different direction.
“Toward the Emergency Ward,” Harry muttered.
“Good idea. Let’s go,” Lockhart said shortly.
“Where?” Harry asked.
“The Three Broomsticks. It’s fortified,” Lockhart explained.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Harry said, “Even if it is fortified.”
“What do you suggest?” Lockhart retorted sharply.
“Fred and George Weasley--” Harry began.
“They were two of the first victims of Voldemort last year.” Lockhart finished.
Harry suddenly understood why Albus had said the Portkey sounded like something they’d invent. He’d meant they might have invented it if they were still alive. His legs turned to mush and he almost collapsed.
“I saw them. They were fine yesterday,” Harry protested.
“I’m not going to argue. Let’s go,” Lockhart finished.
“You’re different. You used to write books and tell us about how you killed--” Harry began.
“My days of writing fake stories ended when my friends were executed. I realized then that things were serious. I had become somewhat of a false legend. I figured maybe it was time I started earning my reputation.”
“Dung Fletcher could use some determination like that,” Harry muttered.
“The Transfiguration teacher?” Lockhart scoffed.
“Professor McGonagall teaches--” Harry began.
“My dear boy, do use your common sense! Minerva McGonagall was executed at Azkaban! Have you fallen off your broom one too many times?” Lockhart snapped.
“If things are so dangerous, why do we still play Quidditch then?” Harry wondered aloud.
“The official teams are disbanded. Some of the locals, Dumbledore and your father, for example, try to keep things as normal as possible for the children. They need a childhood, Harry, and your father can see that. Why are you asking me these questions? You know all this!”
“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you!” Harry snarled.
“Whatever. Get moving,” Lockhart clipped, racing ahead.
Harry trailed behind him until they got to another Apparation point. Harry closed his eyes, thinking about the three Ds. Moments later, he opened them to find himself in Hogsmeade. He was about to run toward the pub when Lockhart grabbed his sleeve.
“Your wand. I grabbed it when James ran past me, chasing after you,” Lockhart said.
“Why?” Harry wanted to know.
“Because you were running away from James, and that meant you were going to need it and probably not get it from him.”
“How did you get in front of me so quickly?” Harry asked, narrowing his eyes.
“Hmph,” was all Lockhart would say. They entered the pub together. Harry was nearly knocked down by someone who demanded they identify themselves.
“Lockhart, Gilderoy. Hufflepuff.” Lockhart said.
“Potter, Harry. Gryffindor,” Harry said, taking Lockhart’s example.
“Password,” the voice said coldly.
“For those who in the darkness dwell, the light will again be seen!” Lockhart answered.
“Come into the light with your hands in front of you and your wands sheathed.”
They did so, and a moment later, a female voice Harry recognized as belonging to Madam Rosmerta said, “Clear.”
“You have a lot of nerve coming here, Lockhart,” the man who had requested the password said.
“Nerve had nothing to do with it Alastor. These are dangerous times.”
“Aye. That they are. How can we trust Potter to be who he says he is?” Moody asked.
Harry looked him straight in the eye and shouted, “Constant Vigilance!”
Moody laughed uproariously. “Good lad!”
“Taught the lad everything he knows,” Lockhart said. Harry rolled his eyes. That sounded like the Lockhart he knew.
Moody just snorted. “You did, did you? It’s a wonder he’s still alive.”
“Jealousy is a sin you know,” Lockhart replied.
“So is stupidity. A quality of which you have an ample supply,” Moody shot back.
“This is going to take a while, Harry. Why don’t you take a seat and I’ll fetch you a butter beer,” Rosmerta said.
“Do we have enough?” Harry asked.
“Takes more than Voldemort to deplete my stock,” Rosmerta said lightly.
Harry took his drink and thanked her, looking around the pub. The others had taken up defensive positions, leaving Harry free to sip his drink. The back of the pub was dark. It was here that a new voice sounded from.
“Good to see you, Harry.”
Harry nearly choked.
“Only my father and his ilk call me Malfoy. My mother and my friends still call me Draco,” Malfoy said flatly.
“Will your parents be along? Everyone’s been worried about them,” Malfoy asked.
“I….think I need to sit down and rest for a few minutes,” Harry said, turning away and sitting at a table.
What have I got myself into? He wondered. He would soon figure it out, with the help of someone he wouldn’t have expected.