AN: Apologies of the tardiness of this posting, but some unexpected work commitments came up.
Chapter Nine – Falling into the Past
“Hey, watch it!”
Kingsley roughly pushed his way past a complaining Aberforth and into the Room of Requirement.
“Damn you, Aberforth. You know Harry’s not likely to last more than a few hours? If you make me fail his last request of me, so help me I’ll-”
Kingsley stopped abruptly seeing James lying motionless on the simple cot and for a moment he seemed unable to speak.
“What the hell is wrong with him?”
“He’ll be fine,” insisted Aberforth. “He just needed somewhere quiet, that’s all. I’m instructed to leave him be and wait for him to wake.”
“Wake?” asked Kingsley, bending over the cot and taking hold of James’ wrist. “I can’t find a pulse.”
A very pale looking Jenny, who had followed Kingsley into the room, came closer now.
“He’ll be fine,” Aberforth assured her.
“What is going on, Aberforth?” demanded Kingsley.
Aberforth put on a pained expression and said, “He sort of explained. It made sense at the time, but now I can’t remember the details. Hey, what are you doing?”
“I’m searching his pockets for a note, or something.”
Jenny gasped and covered her mouth with both her hands.
“Hey, you’re scaring the girl. Honestly, he’ll be fine. No, he’d never do anything like that.”
Jenny wiped her eyes and willed herself to believe Aberforth. The alternative was too terrible to consider.
She looked down at the second cot lying beside James’.
Kingsley saw where she was looking and asked, “Who was the other cot for?”
“I dunno. James was alone when he arrived. I think so, anyway.”
Kingley wiped his scalp with a shaking hand.
“I need to go and tell Ginny about this. I’m not sure we should tell Harry anything at all; the poor sod’s suffered enough as it is.”
James could have been falling for seconds or hours or days. He was totally disorientated by now but gradually caught brief flashes of light and sounds that hit him out of the darkness.
Suddenly he emerged into bright sunlight.
In a panic, James grabbed the whistle and blew as hard as he could to slow his passage through time, but the whistle made no sound at all.
He desperately turned the whistle around the other way and tried again. This time the simple instrument did make an off-pitch note but James felt himself slow to a halt.
Thankfully, the feeling of nausea was over in a moment and a slightly dazed James looked around to see where he was. Ausa had warned him that travelling so far in both time and distance would inevitably mean he was unlikely to arrive precisely on target.
They had agreed that it would be better for him to arrive at the intended time rather than location. James had a far better chance of moving in space than he did of travelling in time under his own control.
As it was, James could see that Ausa had done a remarkable job. He recognised the Tube station and knew that the Leaky Cauldron was only a few streets away.
James took a moment to collect himself.
He felt different, somehow. Perhaps, as this was technically his second excursion into the past, he was becoming used to the strange sensations.
James looked down at his body. In the bright daylight, he was almost completely invisible. This time, his sense of touch was much better and he took some comfort from the whistle that he could distinctly feel in his fingers and the touch of his robes which made him feel that bit more substantial.
A newspaper vendor was shouting nearby and James noticed that he had a rusty old iron as a weight to stop his papers blowing away. Even so, the corner of the topmost newspaper was fluttering in the wind.
James decided to test how substantial he really was and tried, without any success at all, to push the corner of the flapping papers down flat.
He sighed and began to make his way to the Leaky Cauldron, wondering if the younger Ausa had already arrived.
James decided to stick with the streets and use a route he knew rather than chance cutting through buildings. In his non-corporeal form this ought to have been possible, but he didn’t want to risk getting lost.
James travelled awkwardly and rather slowly at the beginning, but he looked around interestedly during every moment. The cars in particular looked very strange to his eye. He vaguely recognised the old models but it had never really occurred to him that the few rusty examples he had seen were ever shiny and new.
A few old fashioned hair styles made him smile too, but it was the Muggle sense of clothes fashion that made him glad to be invisible; he would have hated them to know he was chuckling at them.
At long last he arrived and followed an old man into the Leaky Cauldron. Inside, he quickly scanned the bar areas to find Ausa.
Tom the Innkeeper looked quite as identical as James remembered him, and fortunately he was carrying a tray to a familiar oriental looking gentleman sitting in a booth to one side.
James was about to join him when he saw someone with very distinctive red hair. Looking closer, James grinned seeing that it was his Uncle Ron and sitting opposite him was his father.
They were sitting in a discrete booth at the far end and had clearly chosen that table so they had an almost unobstructed view of everyone coming into the place.
James knew he ought to go and make contact with Ausa, but he was utterly distracted by the appearance of his father.
He couldn’t believe how young they looked; barely older, or so it seemed, than himself.
James turned back and went over to Ausa. He was already much better at moving around now and managed to sort of crouch down opposite.
“Mr Ausa?” he began. “My name is James Potter. I’ve come to give you a message.”
Ausa froze with his knife and fork hovering just above his breakfast and looked around discretely.
“Don’t stop eating on my account,” said James.
Ausa’s hands wavered a moment and then he gently placed his cutlery down on his plate. It was only then that James remembered Ausa had a secret name that he should be using.
“Um, Jester!” he blurted out. “I know your name is Jester.”
Ausa did react this time, grabbing a white plastic carrier bag from the seat beside him and holding it close to himself.
James sighed and felt he probably ought to be doing this better.
“Jester, I’m here to act as your guide,” said James as calmly as he could. “Put the bag down or you’ll look suspicious.”
Ausa lowered his bag as Tom came back carrying a large pot of tea.
“Is everything alright, Sir?” asked Tom, seeing that Ausa hadn’t touched his breakfast. “Tell you what? You have your tea and then we’ll be able to have a chat.”
“The tea!” cried James. “I forgot you need the tea for your translation draft!”
Ausa was now eyeing the teapot warily too and James could see him reaching for his white bag again.
“Stop!” said James. “I’ll start again. Jester, if you can understand me, drink some tea with your English translation draft.”
James emphasised the words hoping that Ausa would get the gist of what he was trying to tell him to do.
Ever so slowly, Ausa poured himself a cup of tea and discretely tapped a few grains of fine powder into the hot liquid. He sipped cautiously.
Tom, who had clearly been waiting for this, came over.
“Now then,” said Tom with a friendly if toothless smile.
Ausa looked up at the Innkeeper and said apologetically, “The scatter cushions are flying south for winter.”
James was now used to hearing gibberish from Ausa until the magical draft began to take effect, although Tom didn’t seem to have trouble understanding.
“Oh, not to worry. You can’t expect to like all foreign food and I expect you’re used to something quite different of a morning. I’ve been amazed how adventurous you’ve been these last few mornings.”
“A weevil wobbled in Worcestershire.”
“Oh, dear. Would you fancy something different?”
“Coal in treacle with ice and gravel.”
“For breakfast?” asked Tom.
Ausa coughed gently and said clearly, “My apologies, Tom. Just the tea will be fine for this morning.”
“Just as you like,” said Tom courteously, lifting the untouched plate from the table. “You still working down at St Mungos?”
“Yes, Tom, for a few more weeks, anyway. I think the shifts may be changed around soon, though. I think I may be on nights.”
“Well, that’ll give you a chance to sample our evening dinner menu, won’t it?”
Ausa smiled and nodded as Tom went, but as soon as Tom’s back was turned his smile vanished.
“Jester? Can you understand me now?” asked James.
Ausa nodded almost imperceptivity.
“My name is James. I am Harry Potter’s eldest son. I think I was probably born a few minutes ago in St Mungos.”
Ausa started and James had to say, “No, stay where you are. No-one knows and no-one will know until I’m back home with my Mum. There will not be an attack on St Mungos today.”
Ausa’s lips moved to form the word, “Premature?”
“Yes, I think so,” agreed James.
Ausa seemed to be deep in thought for a long moment. James studied his face which looked a little younger than the one he would know. Ausa also seemed to be much better proportioned somehow, and looked much stronger.
“Where’s your bowler hat?” asked James, thinking aloud.
With a slightly confused look, Ausa reached over and picked up the familiar black hat. To James’ consternation he placed it upon his head.
“No, Jester. You look silly wearing that indoors. You’ll attract attention to yourself.”
Ausa stood and quickly emerged from the booth.
“I didn’t mean to go outside!” cried James in exasperation. He was beginning to understood why secret names were necessary. People were clearly very suggestible when interacting with time travellers such as himself and it would be very easy to be misled.
Ausa was outside before James could catch him up.
He now stood clutching his white carrier bag in the middle of the pavement.
James sighed and said, “Jester, I’ve come with instructions for you. I know your orders are to guard the hospital, but that isn’t where the attack is going to happen. You know my Dad’s in there? Well, he and Ron Weasley will get attacked somehow today, right here in Diagon Alley.”
Ausa looked very uncertain.
“You must stay and help them,” said James. “With your help, they can win without anyone dying or getting seriously injured. Hey! Where are you going?”
Ausa had suddenly marched off along the pavement. James hurried to try and catch him up.
“Stop! Jester, STOP, will you?!”
Ausa halted as suddenly as he had begun. He was looking quite mad, clutching that bag to his chest.
James wondered what the bag contained.
“Jester, what’s in the bag?”
Ausa wrapped both arms around the bag as if he was afraid James could somehow steal it away.
“Show me what is in the bag, Jester,” ordered James seriously. “I want to see in the bag.”
Ausa looked like he was fighting to resist, but James’ words were forcing him to lower the bag. With shaking hands Ausa opened the top of the bag.
James looked inside and gasped.
“No,” said James weakly. “What the hell are you doing with that book?”
Ausa closed the bag quickly and hurried off towards the crowds of shoppers. James hadn’t the strength to chase him and he guessed Ausa had gone down into the tube network as there seemed to be a small altercation at the entrance. James knew he and the book would soon be long gone.
What on earth was he doing in possession of the spell book? Why would he want it? How did he get it?
James forced himself to think. There had been something odd about Ausa’s behaviour just before they had left. James had put it down to nerves; his own as much as Ausa’s.
Had Ausa changed the timeline so he could get the book? James quickly dismissed this idea, although perhaps Ausa would at some point lose the book and needed to change history to get it back.
It seemed to James that the older Ausa must have known that his younger would be in possession of the book, yet he hadn’t said a word when James had told him that it had gone missing.
It then occurred to him that perhaps he’d probably been sent back here out of harm’s way; perhaps to stop him from interfering. For all he knew, the message he’d given to Ausa might also change events to come. The younger Ausa had certainly reacted to the news that he’d already been born.
James wondered if it had been a mistake to tell the younger Ausa so much, including the fact that he was Harry Potter’s eldest son.
James knew he had little option but to use the whistle to try and return home to his own time. Perhaps he still had time to work out Ausa’s real plan and try to foil him.
Then he remembered that his father and Ron were going to be attacked later that day.
James knew that Ausa’s version of events might not have been the truth, of course. He had never heard of a battle on the day of his birth before now.
He decided to return to the Leaky Cauldron to be close to his father while he finally decided what to do.
He got back just as the back door was closing and James saw his father look directly at him in the bar mirror before the door closed. James looked around, and realised they could have seen each other through a double reflection.
James went over to the rear doorway but had to wait for a shopper to pass through into Diagon Alley beyond.
By the time James had caught them up, his father and Ron had entered Diagon Alley and were deciding where to go first.
“We promised we’d look in on George,” his father was saying.
“No, it’ll be mad in there,” said Ron. “I promised Hermione I’d pick up her order from the Apothecary.”
They continued along without reaching any agreement until James observed, “I see the Firebolt display has changed.”
“Hey, has that display changed?” asked Ron, going over to the shop window at once.
The two of them admired the newest racing broom, although James was distinctly unimpressed. From his viewpoint, the design was hardly the very latest.
“They recon no broom will ever get any faster that this one,” said Ron reverentially.
“Nope,” said James lazily. “Next years’ model will always be that bit faster.”
“They always get faster,” said his father, and James wondered if he had influenced that thought. Even if not, it was a connection that James appreciated.
“Let’s go in!” said Ron, sounding quite like an over enthusiastic schoolboy.
They went inside and a few minutes later Ron was complaining about his purchases.
“Maroon! I hate maroon!”
“Why did you buy them if you don’t like the colour?” asked James’ father.
“For some reason, I kept picking that colour at the last minute,” said Ron as James grinned invisibly. “Anyway, we’re forgetting why we really came in here.”
“We are?” said Harry.
“Is it in, yet?” asked Ron.
The sales assistant nodded and a moment later a large box was placed on the counter.
“Ron, I told you not to waste your money,” complained Harry.
“This, Harry, is an investment.”
Harry just sighed and shook his head while Ron opened the box to reveal a complete custom made Quidditch set.
Harry reached in and took out the golden snitch from its housing.
“I think this’ll be the only thing not deemed completely unsuitable.”
“Okay, the Bludgers might be until the kid can hold a beater, but the Quaffle is okay, isn’t it?”
“Don’t they use special oils? I’m not sure a baby ought to be licking them.”
Ron actually tasted the Quaffle and pulled a face, saying, “Maybe. Actually, this tastes a bit like Hermione’s rice pudding.”
James looked at the snitch struggling in his father’s hand. He had a vague memory of seeing a snitch flying around the Burrow’s living room, but perhaps he had imagined that.
“Truth to tell,” said Ron, “this stuff was only to complete the set.”
“Ginny’s not going to let us put a set of goal posts in the back garden, Ron,” warned Harry, handing the snitch back to his best friend.
As Ron eagerly opened the second box to appear, a now disinterested Harry went back outside.
Ron chuckled as he looked inside. James looked inside too, curious to know what present his father didn’t even want to see.
Harry took a deep breath of fresh air and wondered if he ought to call home to see how Ginny was feeling. Mrs Weasley had shooed him out of the house that morning, although he would have much preferred to stay at home.
As he looked around, automatically scanning the various shoppers for anyone suspicious looking, he felt in his pockets for his old fake Galleon which Ginny would use to warn him of anything urgent. To his annoyance, he couldn’t find it and was beginning to fear he may have left it behind.
Ginny had soon tired of him calling home during the early days of her pregnancy, and it had been Hermione who suggested using the Galleons again.
He gave up searching his empty pockets and looked at his watch.
It was still a little early to duck out of this trip and he’d promised to pop in and see George before he went. He also suspected Ron wanted to go down Knockturn Alley and he didn’t want him to go down there alone. A lone Trainee Auror might prove too much of a tempting target to resist.
Harry’s thoughts quickly returned to Ginny.
He still wasn’t ready for fatherhood. The prospect seemed just as terrifying now as the day Ginny had broke the news to him.
His one crumb of comfort was that the wait would be over in just a few more days. Of course, it wasn’t so much the waiting as the stress of Ginny’s discomfort in the late stages of her pregnancy. She wasn’t sleeping very well and her backache wasn’t helping matters.
Harry glanced around to see if Ron was near done inside the shop.
James left Ron inside the shop and went outside where his father was still waiting. He was struck by how young he looked and wondered how much he would be responsible for his father’s change in appearance in later years.
Ron was clearly younger looking, but somehow his carefree nature made his older self seem that much younger.
James could see at once that the Harry Potter standing in front of him was a very different one to the father he knew.
This Harry had the appearance of someone who had an awful lot on his mind. He knew his father probably had even more to worry about, but this young Harry wasn’t very good at disguising or hiding his feelings.
James frowned slightly and wondered what his father was looking for in his pockets. He looked most strange as he checked each pocket three times.
Finally James said, “Whatever it is, you must have forgotten it.”
His father grew still again and looked at his watch.
James wondered if he should say anything to try and reassure his father, but he was afraid his prompting might lead to an action that he would later regret.
His father looked around and they heard a light bell sound as Ron emerged from the shop looking very pleased with himself.
“What’s up with you?” Ron asked.
“I forgot my Galleon.”
“You can borrow mine, if you want?” offered Ron.
“No thanks. I wouldn’t want to risk seeing any of the messages you and Hermione have been passing to each other lately.”
“George had no business telling you about that! Actually, speaking of George; he’ll let you call home from their fireplace, if you want?”
“Maybe later. Where’d you want to go?”
“I really only need to get one thing. The rest I’ll have to get when I do my usual, Christmas Eve blind-panic shop.”
Harry smiled, but he appreciated Ron letting him off.
“Let’s go,” said Harry, and they set off towards Knockturn Alley together. “What do you need?”
“Pulvis Powder,” said Ron.
“That stuff’s illegal, isn’t it?”
“I tried to get George to sell me some, but he won’t allow the stuff into the shop.”
“I’m not surprised! Why do you need any?”
“Isn’t it obvious? I’m going to use it to break out of the cell block during my Auror test.”
“How?” asked Harry with a pained expression.
“Well, I’ve got a cunning plan. I’m going to leave an open packet outside by an air vent. Then, I’ll simply summon the powder into my cell through the ducts.”
“You won’t be allowed to keep your wand during the assessment, you know?”
“Ah,” said Ron, raising a finger in triumph. “That’s why I need the stuff in powder form. I’ve been practising, and I can just about summon powder without a wand. Hermione’s been a bit curious about the trails of talcum powder around the flat, but I should be able to summon a pinch. I shouldn’t need much more to blow the cell door off.”
James looking at his father, who was looking very red in the face. He’d seen this quit a few times before he exploded with rage.
He knew that Ron would now receive a firm reprimand and probably a threat that he would inform Ron’s supervisors.
To James’ amazement, Harry threw his head back and laughed so loudly echoes could be heard bouncing off the close walls.
“Are you insane?” Harry managed to ask, wiping his face. “You’ll blow the entire cell block up! What d’you think will happen to all the powder that doesn’t quite make it to the vent grille in the cell? The ducts will be full of the stuff. You idiot, I’d be surprised if you didn’t end up in orbit!”
Ron frowned and said, “Well, I thought it was a good idea.”
“How did you get out?” asked James, who had always been curious to learn how he had done it. He’d imagined him using special secret Auror powers they’d been trained for.
“Yeah, how did you get out?” asked Ron, responding very quickly to James’ suggestion. James noted that his father wasn’t nearly so suggestible.
“I wore a pair of Uncle Vernon’s old socks,” said Harry.
“They were as dirty and smelly as I could make them, so there was less chance of them being inspected too closely. I needed each to pass the concealment detection spells, so I made sure I only wove a single strand of Unicorn hair in each. Any more than about eight inches would get detected.
“Now, when I was alone in the cell, I removed the Unicorn hairs and wound them together. I then selected two straws from the mattress and used one with the Unicorn hairs as a kind of wand. You can only do really small transfigurations and it took ages, but a few hours later I’d managed to transfigure the other straw into a lock pick.”
“That’s brilliant, Harry!” cried Ron.
“I still failed, remember?” Harry reminded him. “That old Gaoler caught me before I’d got to the outer door. He not only stunned me but also made sure I didn’t have the use of my legs for a few hours.”
“But, you got clean away after that, didn’t you?”
“Not cleanly, no. That’s why I’ve been called in again.”
“I thought you got out?” said Ron, sounding concerned.
“I did, sort of. I waited for the old man to go off duty and then feigned illness. I knew I looked a state because of my legs, which helped. Anyway, I overpowered the replacement gaoler and used his wand to unlock the outer door.”
“So, why did you fail?” asked Ron. “I mean, you got out, didn’t you?”
“Well,” began Harry, but he was distracted by movement further along the shadowy alley.
James went ahead and looked around the corner. He was just in time to see someone knocking urgently on an old door. He seemed desperate to gain entry whilst not drawing attention to those outside.
The door opened and James followed the cloaked figure as he entered. The door was closed quickly behind him. Close up, the man looked like he had been sleeping rough and sported several days beard growth.
He climbed the stairs quickly and went straight into the room directly ahead.
The man didn’t react at all to the dozen or so wands being pointed directly at him.
“Why are you late, Osborne?” demanded one of the room’s occupants.
“Listen!” demanded Osborne, still panting from his exertions climbing the stairs. “Harry Potter is outside.”
Several people swore loudly.
“We’ve been betrayed! How many are out there?”
“No, you don’t understand!” cried Osborne. “He’s on his own. This isn’t a raid, or anything.”
“Not a raid, you say?”
Just then the fireplace flared up and another figure emerged into the room.
“I’ve just come from St Mungos. They are about to issue a press release saying Potter’s wife has had the child. She arrived there in secret. I’ve no idea when this was or how they got her in undetected.”
“Do we have time? We’d have to act quickly, though. Once they get her back to the Burrow, we’d have no chance.”
“No, forget that. They wouldn’t have released anything unless she was already safely away. No, the thing I don’t understand is why Potter is here alone. It’s almost as if he doesn’t know she’s given birth yet.”
“Could this one be a decoy? Maybe they used Polyjuice Potion.”
“Are you sure he’s quite alone?”
“That Ron Weasley is with him.”
“He hardly matters,” said another contemptuously.
“What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking that we may never get a better chance to rid the world of Saint Potter.”
James had heard quite enough. He hurried down the steps and through the outside door. He immediately saw Ron and his father standing at the corner and debating whether to go back to George’s shop.
“You need to leave!” shouted James. “Get out of here now!”
The two of them turned and walked casually back to the wider and friendlier looking Diagon Alley.
James was looking everywhere now for the first sign of the attack. He assumed that the group would Apparate to their attack positions.
Two upstairs windows opened at once and James shouted, “Look out!”
“Fancy a cup of tea, Beryl?” came from one window.
“Oh, that’d be nice. I’ll be over in a tick.”
Harry went over to Ron and helped him up.
“I thought I was supposed to be the jumpy one?” he said with a smile.
Ron was looking very red in the face as he said, “I don’t know why I did that.”
Together, they righted the heavy bench seat that Ron had up-ended. A moment later the first hex blasted into the masonry just beside them.
The bench was up-turned again and they used it as a makeshift barrier. Ron summoned a few tables from the café to add additional protection as Harry shouted instructions for the other shoppers to run for cover.
Hexes were raining down on them now from all directions.
“How many are there?” shouted Ron.
“Too many!” James heard his father yell back. “We’ve got to move or we’ll have had it.”
James was amazed to see the pair stand up together. Ron was firing in any direction a hex came from while his father shielded them both. The shield was so powerful the heavy bench seat was pushed forward as they moved out into the open.
Although Ron was firing quickly, James could see that he hadn’t time to aim carefully enough. The wizards firing at them from inside windows and shop-doors had little chance of actually being hit themselves.
Four cloaked figure emerged from doorways and advanced in the confusion.
James only understood what happened next after all four were blasted off their feet and lay unmoving. They had clearly been enticing the attackers out into the open since in an instant they had switched roles. Ron was now the one shielding them while Harry took careful aim and fired a quick but accurate series of volleys.
More figures appeared and James could tell that these were opponents to be taken far more seriously.
The new, more co-ordinated attack included several lumps of masonry being ripped out of the buildings and hurled at the two trainee Aurors.
As soon as the worst of the rubble had been deflected, they dropped the shields completely and returned fire together. Harry got his three but Ron only clipped one and one missed another in a red cloak entirely.
The wizard in the red cloak shoved his wounded colleague forward and used him as a shield as he dived into Quality Quidditch Supplies for cover. Almost immediately, the shopfront exploded as more hexes came blasting out.
A child’s high pitched scream pierced the air making all three of them turn. James could see a small girl cowering between the café’s now scattered and overturned tables and chairs. He guessed she had been hiding underneath a table when the blast had exposed her.
Three hexes blasted the pavement right next to the girl.
Ron’s swearing was easily heard above the explosions and James could see that they were being dared into rescuing the child. That would mean moving to an even more exposed position and James guessed there were still over a dozen concealed witches or wizards still firing at them
Harry nudged Ron in the back and James wondered what that meant. Ron nodded in understanding.
When it happened, James was caught completely off guard.
The two set off at once, each running in two directions. Ron got to his target first, leaping right into the now gaping opening where Quality Quidditch Supplies’ window used to be. Reflected light from the exchange of hexes inside spread all around in a split second. Then there was an explosion and it seemed that three floors at once were falling into the shop.
Meanwhile, Harry was vaulting the café tables. He scooped up the tiny child and hurtled into a doorway, blasting the occupant off his feet and into the opening in one fluid motion.
James hurried to follow and saw that his father was shielding the child so that his back was exposed.
“Dad! Look out!” James shouted, as the door jamb was blasted away.
Harry let out a cry of pain as the debris hit his back. He turned and pointed his wand outside. A couple of metal tables were summoned to give a little better protection.
Ron Apparated right next to them with a loud crack! His red hair was now white with plaster dust.
“We won’t last long here!” he shouted.
The girl was clinging to Harry now and this was hampering his movement. James saw that he seemed far more concerned for her well being than his own safety.
“Dad, get down!”
Harry still didn’t react at all.
“Ron, first floor opposite! Third window along!”
Ron fired as directed, hitting his target. James then stepped out to see more clearly and had no fear for himself being hurt in his ghostly form.
“There’s one crawling behind that planter to get a better shot!” called James.
Ron continued to fire as James called out directions and gradually more and more of the attackers fell.
James kept turning around to pick new targets and he didn’t notice at first that his father had inched forward out of the doorway to help.
James turned back and realised with horror that the attacker who had been blasted into the doorway was raising his wand again and aiming it directly at his father’s back.
“DAD!” yelled James. “Behind you!”
Again, Harry made absolutely no response.
In desperation, James yelled, “RON! BEHIND! NOW!”
Ron turned and fired at once. A mere two seconds later and it was all over. Dozens of Ministry Wizards Apparated all around and quickly subdued the remaining attackers.
The girl continued to cry into Harry’s shoulder and he suddenly looked very nervous and unsure what to do. He drew up a seat and sat down with her.
Ron’s plaster dust covered face split into a wide grin as he said, “Better get used to dealing with a few tears, Harry. Won’t be long now.”
Then it struck James.
He had been calling his father, “Dad,” the whole time but he wasn’t of course. He’d never been called Dad in his life.
James lent in close and said softly to the girl, “You’re safe now. This is Harry Potter, you know? There isn’t a safer place in the whole world.”
The girl’s head jerked up stared expectantly straight at Harry who was looking quite dumbfounded.
She held up a tiny finger and traced out the faint scar on his forehead.
“You always were a hit with the girls,” mused Ron. “I’m afraid Quality Quidditch Supplies is in a bit of a mess. I know I shouldn’t take these things personally, but there are limits. I’m mean, not even You-Know-Who went that far.”
James turned and saw his Uncle George hurrying towards them.
“We’re fine, George,” replied Harry.
“No! I’ve just heard from Mum. They’ve been trying to reach you for ages!”
“Ginny?” asked Harry with concern.
“She’s fine,” George reassured him. “Oh, and congratulations are in order. It’s a boy!”
“What do you mean, a boy?” asked Ron.
Harry just sat there, apparently too shocked to react.
The other’s sniggered as the girl drew a wide U shaped smile from cheek to cheek in Harry’s dust covered face.
“Hang on while we find someone to take care of her,” said Ron. “Someone said her Gran was injured but she’ll be okay. Then we’ll need to get you to the Burrow.”
They left Harry to his thoughts.
James was wondering what to do now. Would the timeline correct itself now? He really had no idea.
He felt for the whistle that should send him back to his own time, unless he felt up to tracking down Ausa.
James felt a presence that he could not explain and looked around. A light was glinting in a broken window opposite.
He went over and climbed into Quality Quidditch Supplies and in the subdued light he could see a ghostly outline.
“Mr Nachus!” cried James in surprise. “Is that really you?”
“Are you well young man?”
“Thank you, yes,” said James, remembering late that he ought to bow.
“Ah, I see you remembered something of our little chats,” he replied with an inscrutable smile before turning to look out at the carnage.
“Will the timeline be restored now?” asked a concerned James. “Jester has the book, though!”
“It was the book that broke the timeline originally, of course.”
“So, I’ve failed?” said James miserably.
“We should return now,” said Nachus. “You’ve done what you needed to do here. Your father escaped without serious injury.”
“Does that mean Lily will be alright?”
“I would say her chances of surviving that ambush must be improved, but one can never be certain. Come, let us return?”
James nodded reluctantly but added as an afterthought, “What about Ausa? Jester, I mean.”
“I believe he always regretted his actions today,” admitted Nachus. “This really isn’t the time nor place to discuss this. You can do no more here. If the timeline can be restored, the book will be back under seal.”
AN: Next time:-
Chapter Ten – The Terrarium Opened
“Well, I was honestly expecting the, ‘I was named after Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape’ speech. Why don’t you recite it now for the Professor? It’d probably numb his pain!”
Nachus escorts James safely back to the present day. James is overjoyed to find Lily safe and well, but Aberforth tells him Harry has fallen suddenly ill. The hunt for Professor Rector begins, but Albus and Nadel are also missing. The sealed Second Floor is opened.
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