I apologize for the lengthy update. I added a chapter and re-edited a few scenes. Updates will be regular again.
"There is no question that Harry Potter is leaving tonight," the Unspeakable said sharply. “Do not try and change his mind. It will only make it more difficult when the headmaster and I send him through.”
James Potter, who had stayed quiet through this all, nodded with a resigned expression. "Let him through."
"We already have the portal set up," explained the Unspeakable, as he drew his wand. He tapped a part of the headmaster's desk, and a large conglomeration of color erupted in the center of the room. "This one’s a bit different than the one you came here through – that one is too dangerous to exist. As soon as you get close to this portal, you should be absorbed by it and placed back into your own dimension. Best of luck, Harry Potter."
"I'll miss you, all of you," Harry said, his gaze memorizing each of their faces. He lingered on Christopher. He hadn’t appreciated them enough, for the short weeks that he was here. If only he could play one more game of Quidditch with Christopher, or have another day to apologize to his mother…
"It's not right! It's not fair that the Harry in this dimension gets a family and you don't!" Christopher yelled as Harry slowly inched closer to the portal.
"I do have a family," Harry said quietly. "They're just not related to me."
"We love you Harry," James said over Lily's sobs. "Remember what I told you."
And as Harry took that last half-step forwards, his parents disappeared behind a wondrous plane of nothing at all.
16. Road Blocks
Once again, the nothingness permeated Harry Potter’s senses, sending him into a soothing trance. Every bone in his body buzzed in the transient awareness of everything as nothing. The all-consuming melody returned.
Not this time, it said to his floating form, this time I choose. You must first fulfill the prophecy of the world I created for you… you must fix the wrongs of your kind… regain the balance of the world.
As Harry’s body flickered away from the empty plane, his senses returned with the new jarring reality. He felt his body stumbling blindly from the veil, his knees hitting the hard stone ground of the headmaster’s office, and his head pounding mercilessly.
Wide-eyed, he stared up at the headmaster, his mother, his father, his brother, the Unspeakable.
“It refused.” His voice sounded hoarse to his buzzing ears. “It said I have to fulfill the prophecy first. It said that it couldn't send me back until I fulfilled it.”
The Unspeakable took a step backwards.
"What does that mean?" James asked Lily. "How can the prophecy apply to Harry, if he'll destroy the planes by interfering with our history?"
Lily shook her head. "I don't -- I don't understand. We assumed that whatever controls the planes would want Harry to return to where he belongs. But -- this isn't possible." She looked to the masked Unspeakable.
"It's Illusom," he explained. "This whole world is... nothing but a creation to which to send this boy. Whatever controls the planes, it saw harm in sending a prophesized child to an already ordained universe. It created a new one -- just for him. When we tried to send him back with the non-aggressive switching spell, it wouldn’t have it."
“So this is all just an illusion? I was right?” Harry stuttered in disbelief.
"Not exactly," the Unspeakable corrected. "We remain real. We have memories of long before you came. We will last long after you leave. But – we have only truly existed since you came."
The room was quiet as each member attempted to process the full meaning of the Unspeakable’s hypothesis.
"But I can’t leave until I kill Voldemort," Harry said, interrupting the poignant silence. "That won't happen anytime soon."
Dumbledore sat slowly at his desk, drawing everyone’s attention. “I believe that I might have been wrong about ‘the power he knows not.’”
“What do you mean by that?” Harry demanded.
“I do not profess to know, exactly,” the headmaster muttered. He ducked his head so that he stared at the end of his desk.
Lily Potter’s lips pinched. “No way,” she declared, “you are not going to pull that one over again! I know that you have more than a suspicion! Tell us what you’re thinking, Albus.”
The headmaster’s blue eyes rose to meet the expectant young faces in front of him. “It is possible… that whatever controls these dimensions might play a hand to help you, Harry. Otherwise, how could it be so sure that you would ever return the planes to equilibrium?”
“So you think whatever controls the dimensions will help?”
“It’s not presumptuous, I would hazard, to assume so,” Dumbledore said. “But know, also, that everyone in this room will do what’s in their power to help you.”
“How?” Harry said as he backed himself into a chair. “I can’t even cast a spell without it exploding in my face, and I’m not… I’m not perfect – not good, always.”
Dumbledore shook his head, his tired eyes glued to the haphazard boy in the chair. "You have to have more faith than that. I believe in your resourcefulness."
"But how do you know anything about me? About what I can do? About what I can’t?"
James Potter snorted. "You don't have any confidence in your abilities! You've faced Voldemort more times than I can count on one hand, and you've gained an immeasurable amount of power. What you need is confidence. Forget about whatever thinks they can help you – you’ve got a loaded amount of power just waiting to be controlled!"
Harry couldn't speak. He was completely flabbergasted. "But Voldemort's powerful – so powerful! I’ve felt it before! And I'm not even sixteen yet!"
"You were one when you defeated him the first time," Harry’s father said
"It was luck! It's always been stupid luck!" Harry stood in a flurry, wide-eyed and hopeless. What was wrong with his life? Why did everything always have to happen to him? Why couldn’t someone else have multiple life-breaking prophecies on their shoulders?
"Well maybe this time it will be something more," declared James Potter. "I'll train you. Forget about the Aurors. I'll quit. I will work you until you can't possibly be any more prepared. You can do this, Harry. You are an amazing teenager. We all have faith in you."
Harry just stared back at his father, numb in shock. He felt a body collide with his, arms wrap around him, a wet face brush against his shoulder. "Oh, Harry! I'm so glad you didn't leave me," sniffled Christopher. "And I know you can defeat him. If anyone can, it's you. And I don't just say that 'cause you're my brother."
"I'm not your brother--"
"Shut it! You are, and I don't care what anyone else says! You shouldn't either. What makes any other average Auror more qualified than you? They don't have your power! They couldn't do it! I know you can! I know you can, Harry..."
"Oh, Harry," Lily Potter muttered, reaching over her youngest son to caress Harry's face. "You can do anything." Harry relaxed into the flurry of affection, newly appreciative of his extended time in this dimension.
"If I may... interrupt," the placating voice of Albus Dumbledore intervened. The four Potters looked up at the headmaster. "I am in absolute agreement with James. Whatever my vague assumptions, it is completely necessary for Harry to receive a full training, if he is up to it?"
Harry nodded dumbly. He needed to do this. He would destroy Voldemort.
"Very well. I know someone in Egypt, who recently completed a mission that he's been on for the past fifteen years.” Dumbledore paused, his frown lifting slightly before he continued. “I want you to go visit him. There, James will have an opportunity to train Harry as much as possible in the short week that I'm sending you there. When you return, you will bring my contact back with you. At that point, we will decide further how to prepare Harry to face Lord Voldemort."
James sighed. "It's that damnable twinkle. Okay, old man, what are you up to this time? Who is this man?"
"You'll have to wait and see. I will come by Potter Manor later this evening!"
Maeby felt her world coming to her slowly. It faded in and out and her mind whirled with dizziness. She was lying on an unsupportive mattress with a scratchy white camp blanket wrapped around her. She shifted a bit. Then, because she knew that eventually she had to face the consequences of whatever had evidently found her, she opened her eyes.
Severus Snape was slumped on the chair beside her, sound asleep.
"Miss Black! You're awake!"
"You saved me?"
"I didn't save you," Snape explained brusquely, leaning away from Maeby when he realized he was hovering so closely over her. "You were saved by a vampire coven leader."
There was a moment of silence, during which Maeby’s eyes widened and her breath quickened. She stumbled out of bed to the door.
“Wait!” Snape demanded as he drew his wand.
“I don’t want to talk with you! I don’t want to hear anything you have to say. I need to get out of here! I don’t need any vampire coven, and I definitely don’t need you! I need to find Harry… I need to – ” Maeby jiggled the knob of the door handle. When she turned around, the tall, imposing Professor Snape stood, lips pulled and hands on his hips, at the other side of the room. “You locked it,” she commented with a scowl.
“Indeed.” Snape snapped his arm and tossed his wand on the bed. “I felt the need to explain myself.”
Maeby’s expression tightened.
“What I told you, in my office a few days ago, was not the full truth that you deserve. To begin, I was not in a particularly forthcoming state of mind at the time. I had been spying on Harry Potter, and I consistently tracked him to your woods. The night before you came to see me…”
“You saw him!” Maeby’s eyes widened. “You knew that he had come to see me! Why wouldn’t’ you tell me? Or were you waiting for him to come back and finish the job?”
Snape winced, and Maeby paused in her rant. “I was constructing a way to dispose of Potter without putting myself under the suspicions of the Dark Lord or Dumbledore – before something of the sort could occur.”
“But – that means you were trying to protect me.”
“When you spoke with him – I was angered.”
“I hadn’t seen the memory!” Maeby responded sharply, face reddening.
“But he is a Death Eater nonetheless.”
“So are you! You killed my mother!”
Snape’s lip rose in contempt, and he began to pace the room. “Mabel, Your mother’s death was neither an accident nor a stab at your father.”
Maeby crossed her arms. “Then why’d you do it? And why’d nobody ever tell me? Dumbledore had me coming to my mother’s murderer on a regular basis? No wonder my father was so upset!”
Snape’s hand clenched, and his scowl deepened. “Dumbledore didn’t tell you because he believed my involvement in it was trivial. If it hadn’t been me, it would have been any other low level Death Eater.
“I believe that your father had seriously wronged the Dark Lord. At the time, the Dark Lord had a full coven of younger vampires under his command. It was his first coven, and it didn’t last long against the Aurors… He tasked me with leading them to your home, unaware that you and your father were away. I created a distraction – gave your mother a chance to escape – but she missed the signal. She never trusted me, and she wouldn’t… Regardless, in the end, I had to keep my cover. It was not a Turning Night when they attacked, so she was not as lucky as you. I exaggerated, perhaps, the full truth. I was there the night your mother died, but I did not kill her.”
Maeby nodded, but her eyes were clouded. “It wasn’t you, then. You lied to get me to go away.” She rubbed her brow and leaned against the door. "Professor, why are you here – in a vampire coven? How did you get here?" Maeby asked.
Snape looked away. "How are you feeling?" he said suddenly.
Maeby scowled. "I'm a vampire now, and someone’s obviously…fed me. I don't feel much. You’ve told me the full story, but that can’t be the only reason you came here." Maeby’s expression was on edge, her eyes flitting about the room.
"I found the cure." Snape brought a vile out of his robes. "Here it is."
"No way," she said under her breath as she unwitting stepped towards him. She looked into his fathomless black eyes. "This is going to change my life – change everything."
She reached for the vile, but he pulled it back. "I don't want you to act hastily. I was thinking, earlier today, that I would prefer it if you weren't my first subject."
"What are you saying..."
"I would like to test it on another vampire first."
Maeby's brow rose. "But wouldn't that mean that person would be at risk too? And when would you have enough for me?"
"I have enough for you here. I would feel safer giving it to you if I had already tested it on him."
"Him? You already have another test subject?" Maeby was trying very hard to keep a straight face, but her amusement was apparent. This was Snape's odd way of telling her that he was concerned for her, that whatever he had told her a few days ago hadn't been the truth. But, boy, did those few days feel like a decade ago!
"Yes, though he does not know it yet. I will have to find a way to contact him without it resulting in either of our deaths. We are quite antagonistic. I wish for you to help prevent us from fighting."
"You want me to play mediator? Who... oh. He's here? How dare you even consider it!”
"I see." Snape frowned. "You have yet to forgive him."
"Of course not! He made me a vampire! He ruined the past two years of my life! You yourself said he you were trying to ‘dispose of him.’"
"I suppose I would be the last person in the world who would ever defend Harry Potter." Snape sat down heavily in his tweed chair. "I... feel as though, however," he cleared his throat, "the incident was not entirely his fault. You see, as a vampire on his Turning Night... he would experience a certain lust for blood that is unparalleled in most settings."
Maeby snorted. "Then what about the fact that Harry thought I’d forgive him! Me! Forgive him! Kiss him? He fucking ruined my life! And I think you’re forgetting the fact that he’s a Death Eater?"
Snape raised his brow. "Am I not a Death Eater also? You do not understand this. "
"But you're reformed."
"It seems Harry Potter has denounced the Dark Lord as well, within the last few hours."
“Well I don’t know him anymore. He’s not the teenager that left me two years ago, and maybe he’s not even the vampire that attacked me, either, anymore.” Maeby slouched into her camp bed. "And you seem different too, Professor Snape."
The former Death Eater nodded. He slipped his sleeve upwards, revealing a pale forearm. "The mark is gone, and the side effects of being in the Dark Lord’s service have been abated by a potion."
"You created more than just one potion?"
"The three had been a life's work," Snape explained as he grabbed his wand and headed for the door.
"Professor Dumbledore knew you could do it! He tried to keep me from leaving."
Snape smiled, and opened the door. "The headmaster has always had more faith in my abilities than me."
"Maybe it shouldn't be like that," Maeby told him seriously, following behind him.
Professor Dumbledore stood at his window, holding a red medallion. Thank Merlin. Mabel Black was safe.
Neville Longbottom stared at his father in dread. It was eleven o’clock in the morning, and Neville had made a special trip through crowded ministry halls to talk to his father. He stood now, front and center, before the desk of Head Auror Frank Longbottom. Large, grotesque teeth jutted from the plaques towards his spot, with gold names engraved beneath them. Neville withheld his shudder.
“Father,” he started deliberately as he brought his gaze to the expectant and condescending Auror, “I’ve made a decision about something – a decision that should belong to me.”
A calm smile split Frank’s thin face. “I know exactly what you’ve come to tell me,” he said.
“You do?” Neville asked warily.
“Well, of course, Albus told me you were having second thoughts. He wants me to give you the opportunity to decide, either way. I suppose I agree with it, but I know that you’ll make the right choice anyway.”
“The right choice,” repeated Neville.
“The one that will help you become a hero – the one that will elevate you as no other profession can. That will be your decision.”
Neville was silent for several moments. “No,” he intoned. “I don’t want to be one of your Aurors.”
Frank Longbottom stood. “Excuse me?”
“I don’t want to be one of your lackeys! I don’t want to risk my life against a bullshit dark lord who’s already stolen my childhood! I don’t want to help other people like that! I just want my life back. I want to do whatever I want – take my NEWTS like a normal teenager!”
Frank Longbottom scowled. “I didn’t raise you to be this way, Neville. I expect you to reform. I will give you until morning to apologize.”
“No,” Neville declared brazenly. “You don’t control me!”
“Of course I do,” Frank Longbottom scoffed. “I feed you, house you, clothe you, and guide you… I have every right to control you. No son of mine should ever disobey me in such a way. I expect better. Tomorrow morning, I will wait for a new answer from my son. Anything similar to this defiant and selfish garbage you’re spouting will not come from my heir.”
“Then who will it come from?” sneered Neville.
“My disowned son,” Frank Longbottom responded, his blue eyes boring into his son’s. “But I know you’ll make the right choice.”
“You raised me to be like this!” Neville spluttered. “You raised me to fight! To stand up for myself! Well, that’s what I’m doing!”
Frank Longbottom pierced his lips. “Then I’m sorry.”
Mother stood behind a green-eyed boy of only fifteen, as he watched a stream's lazy movement through the woods.
"I'm going to be free of him today," he said quietly with a furrowed brow.
"You are going to be free," affirmed Mother as she walked a few paces from him and tilted her head slightly.
"Not completely," Harry corrected hastily.
Mother nodded. "It is unfortunate that vampires are so tied to the earth and to each other."
"Vampires wouldn't be tied to each other if wizards would stop being so bigoted."
Mother shrugged. "We are dangerous, especially when we are young and the earth does not bind us."
Neither of them spoke for several moments.
"He should be here?" Harry asked quietly.
They heard a rustle of bushes behind him, and their heads snapped towards the form of Mabel Black. Behind her, Severus Snape glided through the forest's shrubbery effortlessly.
Maeby’s voice brought him back to reality.
"You can't be here!" Harry yelled at her. "Get out of here!"
"No! Voldemort's com--"
"Already here," Severus Snape finished as he caught up to Maeby and slipped in front of her.
The tall, sleek form of the Dark Lord Voldemort watched them from the other side of the stream. He glided over the stream towards the four. There was no amusement on his brow. There was nothing save for a blunt hatred.
"Do I even want to know what you are doing here, Severus?" he hissed in anger.
“I suppose not," Snape admitted.
"With time I will, I suppose. However, I promise you that your death will be nearly as slow and painful as Potter's."
When no one answered or even flinched at his declaration, Voldemort glanced at the girl behind Snape. "Who is this?" he smirked. "It's Mabel Black, isn't it? Why, Severus, you little traitor." He drew his wand. "And isn't she the most pathetic vampire! Small, scrawny, not the least bit attractive. What do those two see in you? How are you worthy of their defection?"
Maeby clenched her hands to hide their tremor. "I had nothing to do with their ‘defection.’ And I would assume they value more important things!"
"You've just joined the lengthening list of people who will suffer long and horrific deaths," Voldemort enunciated slowly. "Congratulations."
"I'm not going to die today," she said, but her voice cracked.
"Is that so?"
“Mother will protect all of us,” Harry said loudly, his voice ringing with contempt towards the Dark Lord.
"A vampire? Defy me? I would win."
"Not quite," Mother interrupted.
"Vampires can't interfere so blatantly with the world for the sake of this motley crowd!“
"The earth seems to think I can."
Voldemort's jaw clenched. His gaze skewered the group before returning to the calm Ancient. "I see the bluff.” The thin tendons of his wand hand twitched before relaxing. “But I'll be back."
Harry turned to Snape and Maeby. "What are you two doing here?"
Maeby’s eyes narrowed, but her stilted words came out nonetheless. "I found the memory and ran away from home. I didn’t have the potion so I turned into a full vampire. I lost consciousness because I needed blood, and then, I woke up here with Snape in the room – telling me about some cure he’d made."
Harry's eyes found Snape's. "You... you found a way to get rid of this affliction?" he asked quietly.
Harry’s eyes skirted the group, and then landed again on his nemesis. “Professor,” he began but paused. He grimaced, and Mother placed her hand on his shoulder. He flinched away, frantic eyes watching the group. “I… apologize.”
Snape raised a brow at Harry. "You have changed, haven't you Potter?"
Harry scowled but that scowl quickly melted into a frown, and then a sigh. "I need that cure. I can't live like this."
Snape nodded. "You will be my test subject then."
Harry snorted. "Joy." He turned to Maeby, his eyes serious. "You've seen the memory now," he glared briefly at Snape but then blinked a few times and returned his attention to Maeby. "You've seen what I did to you. I can't imagine that you could ever forgive me. I -- I don't know why I had thought I did, but I--"
“Don’t,” Maeby interrupted sharply. “It doesn’t matter.” Harry’s shoulders relaxed. “It’s not like I even know who you are anymore.”
“Wait – what?” Harry questioned harshly.
“I don’t feel like taking revenge anymore because I don’t care about you – or about this curse which has a cure. I just want to get better and go home, where you won’t be welcome anyway. Get over yourself, Potter, and leave me alone. I don’t associate with Death Eaters.”
“But I just renounced him!” protested Harry.
Maeby frowned. “That’s not good enough. I don’t even want to trust you anymore.”
Harry turned to leave.
“Do not go yet,” Mother cautioned.
Harry shook his head, waving messy black locks at the three behind him. “I’ll wait for his cure, but I wouldn’t want to offend Black much longer.” He left through thick woods.
Later that evening, Dumbledore entered the Potter Manor parlor with that "damnable twinkle" and Sirius Black slouching along after him.
"You five will have an excellent time," he asserted with a nod and a half-smile.
“Five?” James Potter uttered slowly, glancing quickly at his best friend of twenty years. “Sirius?”
Sirius nodded to the Potters with a sigh. “The old man is scheming, but I don’t dare think about what that could mean for us…”
James laughed. “I don’t know if it’s something I want to know! I’ve managed to take the week off, though Dumbledore had to practically force Longbottom to allow it!”
“That’s Longbottom for you,” Sirius said derisively. For a moment, his gaze passed Harry’s and his frown deepened. “Well, let’s get this over with, huh?”
He grabbed the portkey. James glanced at his friend before touch his fingers to the portkey. Harry followed his mother and brother's cue and took hold.
Next chapter will be out soon. THANK YOU to everyone who has left reviews or favorited this story. It means more to me than you can probably imagine, and it's motivated me to finish this story stronger than originally intended. :) I just have a few edits on this next chapter, so it should definitely be out quicker than this one.