Reginald Tiberius Livingston III. A respectable sounding name attached to a less than respectable wizard. The Ministry considered him one of the most wanted wizards in England. Reginald, brimming with self importance, saw it as a great honor to make the top ten on the wanted list. He felt that it was a testament to the artistry he displayed in carrying out his crimes. After all, no one had ever stolen so many magical objects directly out of the Ministry before. He didn’t doubt that the Minister wanted him stopped. Many of the objects he stole were a mystery even to those in the Department of Mysteries, but he didn’t let that stop him. Some wizards would pay good money for a chunk of cold metal if there was a chance it held powerful magic. Reginald didn’t see any reason why he shouldn’t profit from it.
Apparently the Minister of Magic didn’t share his reasoning. That was why he had put two of his best aurors on Reginald’s trail. Reginald never would have believed they would find him within a week, but he didn’t have time to think about how they had found him.
“Give it up, Livingston,” Harry said as he stood in the middle of Diagon Alley with his wand trained on the crates Reginald was hiding behind. “We’ve got you covered. There’s no way out.”
Reginald wasn’t ready to concede that there was no way for him to escape. Granted, Potter had cast an anti- disapparation spell, so he couldn’t go that way. Weasley had blasted the wand from his hand and it lay in pieces beside him, so fighting his way out was unlikely. They had already stripped away his disguise, so pleading a case of mistaken identity wasn’t going to work either.
“Come on, Reggie,” Ron said as he and Harry worked their way closer to the crates where Reginald was hiding. “Don’t make this any harder than it has to be.”
Reginald could hear their footsteps coming closer as he looked around frantically hoping to find an open doorway to make a run for. Shifting his weight to look behind him he felt the lump in his coat pocket. Taking it out, he wondered why he hadn’t thought of it sooner. He already had a buyer lined up for the mysterious portkey the Ministry had gone to such lengths to protect, but he didn’t think his buyer would mind if he used it to insure a safe, and auror free, delivery.
Just as Reginald took out the wooden box, Harry appeared and shot a spell that wrenched the box from his hand. Reginald watched as the little box flew away from him and hit the ground near Harry. The lid popped open and a coin rolled out, glowing a very Slytherin shade of green. The coin rolled in a wide arc before rolling back toward Harry. Reginald lunged for the coin, but Ron stunned him before he got near it. Harry placed a binding spell on Livingston as soon as he hit the ground, but failed to notice as the coin stopped beside his foot and seemed to balance on its edge momentarily. Ron started to yell out a warning to Harry just as the glowing coin fell over onto Harry’s foot.
It wasn’t an ordinary portkey. Harry knew that right away. Instead of the familiar tug behind the navel he felt as if his entire body were being torn apart and reassembled again. It didn’t last for more than a few seconds, but to Harry it seemed like an eternity. Harry’s feet hit solid ground, and he stumbled backwards a few steps as screams rang out around him. Looking around Harry could see that he was still in Diagon Alley. He didn’t know why so many people were screaming as they ran for the safety of the shops. Harry surveyed the street, but couldn’t see any danger nearby. Harry turned and walked further down the street and noticed as he did that terrified people were looking out of the shop windows at him even as more fled further up the street.
Harry heard two pops behind him and turned to see the new arrivals. As he did his jaw dropped. By reflex alone his wand sprang into action to defend against the spells the two had shot at him. Soon after, he had to defend himself once again. Harry noticed that they were working together in a standard auror capture technique. Harry knew it well and had no trouble keeping them from successfully closing the trap.
“Give it up, Potter,” Draco said as he tried another spell that Harry countered easily.
“I might be willing to if I knew what was going on,” Harry replied.
“I doubt that, Potter,” Ron said as he shot a hex at Harry that was countered easily again. “I don’t know how you got out, but I doubt you’ll go back willingly.”
“Go back where?” Harry asked as he defended against a simultaneous attack.
“Back where you belong, Potter,” Draco said. “Azkaban.”
“Azkaban?” Harry asked in horror.
“It couldn’t have been that bad, Potter,” Ron said. “After all, all of your death eater friends were there with you.”
“This is crazy, Ron,” Harry said as he blocked another spell and sent one of his own off to keep Draco from maneuvering to his flank. “I’m not a…”
Multiple pops rang out all around Harry as more aurors arrived and Harry knew his chance for understanding what was happening had temporarily slipped away. He knew he only had seconds to act before an anti-disapparition spell was cast over the area. Harry turned on the spot and disappeared with a pop.
Harry reappeared in Godric’s Hollow with his wand at the ready, but he was alone in the street. Lowering his wand Harry turned to look at his house. His confusion only deepened as he saw not the house he had built on the spot of his parents old house, but his parents house. It looked dark and neglected, but as whole as it had ever been. It was as if there had never been a fire that burned it to the ground. Harry felt his forehead and was, for once, relieved to find his scar where it had always been. At the moment it was the only thing that made any sense.
Harry had taken no more than two steps toward the front gate when pops once again rang out around him. A quick glance around was all it took for Harry to see the wand tips raising against him. Again, he disapparated.
Harry took small comfort that the shrieking shack was the same as he remembered. He wasted no time in seeking the entrance to the passage that led to the whomping willow. By the time he made it to the base of the great tree, darkness was setting in across the Hogwarts grounds. It provided a good cover for him as he ran toward the castle. He wasn’t sure why he needed cover, but given recent events it seemed prudent. He paused momentarily as he spied the warm glow of light spilling from the windows in Hagrid’s hut. He wondered if Hagrid wouldn’t be a better person to get the truth out of, but he realized that Hagrid would also be unable to hide his presence if anyone asked him about it. With regret he turned again toward the castle. Knowing it could be dangerous to walk the halls openly, and not having his invisibility cloak with him, Harry levitated himself toward the window of the Headmaster’s office.
It was half an hour later before the door opened and the Headmaster walked in. Almost immediately the portraits started to try to warn her to of an intruder.
“Professor McGonagall,” Harry said as he stepped out of a concealing shadow in the corner of the room.
McGonagall spun around with wide eyes at the sound of Harry’s voice and said, “Harry Potter. How did you get in here?”
“Forgive me, Professor,” Harry said as he noticed how uneasy McGonagall looked. “I levitated myself through your window. I had to see you. I didn’t know where else to turn.”
“I don’t understand,” McGonagall said.
“That makes two of us,” Harry said. “I don’t understand anything that is happening to me.”
“I’m not likely to answer any questions at wand point,” McGonagall said as Harry realized he was still clutching his wand at his side.
“I’m sorry, Professor,” Harry said as he stepped closer to her. “My nerves are still a bit on edge. I wasn’t thinking.”
Harry stepped close to McGonagall and held his wand out to her. She looked questioningly at the way he was offering his wand to her and considered what trick he might be trying to play. Slowly she reached out and took hold of the wand, and he allowed her to lift it from his hands. Looking at his wand carefully she was surprised to recognize the phoenix wand he had used as a student. Looking back up to his face she caught sight of his forehead and reached out to move the hair out of the way. Her eyes went wide as she quickly removed her hand and stepped back away from him.
“Even you’re afraid of me,” Harry commented. “Why is everyone so afraid of me all of a sudden? Why is my parents house still standing? Since when is Draco Malfoy an auror? I don’t understand any of it.”
“You really don’t remember?” McGonagall said as she crossed to behind her desk. “Most of us would rather forget.”
“Oh, I remember everything,” Harry said as he took a seat in the lone chair in front of her desk. “Everything has just gotten so messed up since I was in Diagon Alley today. Its like the entire world suddenly turned upside down or something.”
“Tell me,” McGonagall said.
Harry took the next few minutes to relate everything about what had happened to him from the time he and Ron had cornered Livingston in Diagon Alley. During that time she sat at her desk and considered his tale. When he finished, she exhaled slowly.
“You say that you are an auror and partnered with Ron Weasley?” McGonagall asked.
“Of course,” Harry replied. “We haven’t been separated since we were both sorted into Gryffindor.”
“I see,” McGonagall said. “What was wrong with the house in Godric’s Hollow?”
“I had a house rebuilt there,” Harry replied, “but it doesn’t look anything like my parents house did before the fire. That house looks exactly like my parent’s house before Voldemort killed them.”
“Killed your parents?” McGonagall asked as if he had just insulted her. “Mr. Potter, I haven’t the slightest idea why you remember things the way you do, but I can assure you that your parents are not dead. They’re in Azkaban, and until today you were as well.”
“I tell you that isn’t possible,” Harry pleaded. “Voldemort killed my parents when I was a baby. He gave me this scar on my forehead when he did it. The only time I’ve ever been to Azkaban was to deliver a prisoner there.”
“Have you truly lost your mind?” McGonagall asked.
“I’m beginning to think so,” Harry said. “Why would you tell me that my parents were in Azkaban?”
“Because I testified at the trial that sent them there,” McGonagall said.
“What?” Harry asked. “Why?”
“Because they were death eaters,” McGonagall said. “So were you.”
“That’s crazy!” Harry shouted. “I’m an auror! Voldemort killed my parents, and I killed him in my final year here!”
“No, Mr. Potter,” McGonagall said. “It was Draco Malfoy’s parents that Voldemort killed. He was the one who killed Voldemort in that terrible battle.”
“That isn’t true though,” Harry pleaded. “Draco and his parents were the death eaters.”
“You really have lost your mind,” McGonagall said softly. “You’re transferring Draco’s life onto your own. Maybe you’re doing it out of guilt, or maybe Azkaban has done this to you.”
“This is a nightmare.” Harry said becoming increasingly frustrated. “Dumbledore would believe me.”
McGonagall watched Harry begin surveying the portraits of the past Headmasters, and she asked, “Do you mean Albus Dumbledore?”
“Yes, of course,” Harry said unable to find Dumbledore’s portrait.
“Mr. Potter, Albus Dumbledore was killed before you were born,” McGonagall informed him. “He was the one who recruited Tom Riddle to attend Hogwarts. He saw the young Tom as the key to his quest for power over the non-purebloods. Albus Dumbledore was the one who created the death eaters in the first place. Voldemort killed him early in his first rise to power.”
“I will never believe that,” Harry said as he stood and began to pace. “Albus Dumbledore was my mentor. He was one of the greatest Headmasters Hogwarts has ever known. He was the only wizard Voldemort ever feared. I wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for him.”
“I don’t see any way to reconcile the reality of what happened with this fantasy you’ve created in your own mind,” McGonagall said.
“Perhaps we shouldn’t discount the possibility that both realities are true,” Snape suggested from a portrait on the wall.
“How can that be possible, Severus?” McGonagall asked.
“Both of you have complete faith in the memories you hold,” Snape said. “I personally remember things the same way you do, Minerva. However, unless Mr. Potter has improved upon his acting abilities, he remembers things differently. That would tend to suggest that someone may have tampered with his memories to create such an elaborate distortion.”
“Did Voldemort kill you, Professor Snape?” Harry asked.
“No, Mr. Potter,” Snape replied. “Your father did.”
“Who could have done this to him?” McGonagall asked. “Perhaps more importantly, why would they do it?”
“Only someone from the Ministry could have done it,” Snape said. “No one else would have had access to him in Azkaban.”
“Or perhaps both of you are wrong,” Phineas said from his portrait. “Maybe no person did it at all. Maybe it was this mysterious portkey Mr. Potter mentioned earlier. The possibility exists that it wasn’t a portkey at all. Perhaps the strange sensation he experienced when it touched him scrambled his memories.”
“Then where did the portkey come from?” Professor Dippet asked. “Perhaps it was a portkey after all. That could be how he got out of Azkaban. Someone might have smuggled it in to him.”
“You have got to be joking,” Harry pointed out. “You think someone smuggled a portkey to me on purpose that would screw me up this bad?”
“An ordinary portkey wouldn’t have worked in Azkaban,” Snape said. “Your memory problem may be a side effect of a modified portkey.”
“I think it’s more likely that the portkey knocked me out,” Harry said as he sat back down. “I’m probably unconscious in a bed at St. Mungo’s right now and having a really terrible dream.”
“So now you’re suggesting that we are all a figment of your imagination?” McGonagall asked. “I think you need to consider the fact that you are the only one who holds the memories you have. The memories I have are shared by everyone here. They’re shared by the aurors who tried to capture you earlier this evening. You find yourself vastly in the minority, Mr. Potter.”
“I came here tonight in hopes you could help me make sense of this mess,” Harry said. “Maybe I should have tried to find Hermione. She was always so much better at sorting these things out than I was.”
McGonagall sat back in her chair with a strange look on her face. The look told Harry that she was greatly disturbed by the fact that he had mentioned Hermione’s name. He waited, but she didn’t explain.
“Don’t tell me,” Harry said. “Hermione is a death eater too I suppose. If you tell me that then I’ll know this is all rubbish. I don’t care how many of you there are who believe it.”
“No, Mr. Potter,” McGonagall said, the strange look still present on her face. “Miss Granger was certainly no death eater.”
“Then why that look on your face when I mentioned her name?” Harry asked.
“She’s dead, Mr. Potter,” Snape supplied as he watched Harry carefully.
Harry stared back at him in shock and said, “That can’t be. I had dinner with her just the other night. She and Ron told me they were expecting another baby. You’re lying.”
“Curious,” Phineas observed. “We’ve already seen how he transfers aspects of others lives onto himself as he does with Mr. Malfoy, but to also create such elaborate fantasies outside of actual events is evidence of a severe psychosis.”
“I am not crazy,” Harry demanded.
“Miss Granger and Mr. Weasley never had any children together,” McGonagall said. “They were never even able to get married before…”
“I won’t believe it,” Harry said. “I know the truth even if you say it isn’t.”
“She’s dead, Mr. Potter,” Snape said. “You were the one who killed her.”
Harry shot a nasty look at Snape as he stood and yelled, “That’s impossible I tell you! She was my friend. She and Ron have been my best friends since we were sorted into Gryffindor.”
“Draco Malfoy was sorted into Gryffindor,” Phineas said. “You’re just transferring that onto yourself. You were sorted into Slytherin.”
“I’m not listening to you any more,” Harry said. “Nothing you’ve told me is the truth. I don’t know what’s happening to me, but I won’t give up on what I know to be true.”
“Then tell me something, Mr. Potter,” McGonagall said. “How is it that you came into possession of this wand. It looks like the wand you had while you were in school here, but that wand was destroyed.”
“It was broken when Hermione and I were escaping from Voldemort’s snake,” Harry explained. “I repaired it later using the Elder wand.”
“The Elder wand?” McGonagall asked. “Are you referring to one of the three deathly hallows?”
“Yes,” Harry confirmed.
“You actually found one of the deathly hallows?” Snape asked.
“I had all three of them at one point,” Harry confirmed. “I never had them together at the same time.”
“Surely if you were ever in possession of a wand as powerful as the Elder wand you would want to use it,” McGonagall said. “Why repair the phoenix wand and carry it instead?”
“Because the power of the Elder wand has to die when I do,” Harry explained.
Suddenly, there was a flash from the fireplace and Draco Malfoy stepped out of it just before another flash saw Ron step into the office. They both had their wands drawn just in case, but Harry just sat there looking worn and sad.
“Sorry to barge in unannounced, Professor,” Draco said as he kept his wand trained on Harry. “We weren’t sure what the situation here might be.”
“I’ve just been having a very unusual conversation with Mr. Potter,” McGonagall said. “It seems his memories of past events are somewhat altered.”
“Only from your perspective,” Harry reminded her. “I think my memory is fully accurate.”
“Is that so?” Ron asked. “I’d like to kick you in the head to see if it clears things up, but Draco says I have to wait for that.”
“First of all,” Draco began, “if you’re the real Harry Potter then who is in your cell in Azkaban? We’ve already had a report from them that you’re apparently still there.”
“I have no idea who you might have locked up, but it was never me,” Harry said. “This is all totally insane. I am not and never have been a criminal. I’m an auror for goodness sake.”
“Insane is right,” Ron said. “Do you think we’d ever let someone like you be an auror? Not after what you’ve done.”
“He doesn’t remember doing any of it,” McGonagall said.
“What?” Ron asked getting angry. “Don’t tell me that, Potter. You have to remember it. If I have to remember it then you do too!”
“Maybe I should tell you what he said to me before you got here,” McGonagall suggested.
“I hope it will clear a few things up,” Draco said.
“I doubt that,” Harry remarked with a sad nod of his head. “I hoped talking would clear things up, but I’m more confused now than ever.”
McGonagall explained everything they had discussed since Harry arrived. Draco listened carefully and considered everything thoughtfully. Ron listened and stared at Harry while tightening and then relaxing his grip on his wand over and over again.
Once McGonagall had finished, Ron said, “He’s nutters.”
“Perhaps he isn’t the real Harry Potter,” Professor Dippet proposed. “He may be an imposter.”
“No,” Draco said. “He’s the real thing. That’s how I knew where to find him. I checked the Marauders Map and he was here. The map would have identified an imposter.”
“You have the Marauders Map?” Harry asked.
Draco pulled a folded map out of his pocket and held it up in front of Harry, and said, “Pretty ironic isn’t it. I tracked you down with a map your dad made.”
“Not nearly as ironic as the fact that I have one too,” Harry said as he pulled his own map out. “I’d like to know where you got yours. Professor Lupin never mentioned there being another one.”
“Professor who?” McGonagall asked.
“Lupin,” Harry repeated. “Remus Lupin.”
McGonagall looked quizzically at Harry for a moment before she said, “Young Mr. Lupin never even made it to graduation Mr. Potter. He disappeared in the middle of his second year, and he was never found. How do you even know anything about him?”
Harry shook his head as he laid the blank map out onto McGonagall’s desk and said, “May I have my wand back now.”
“Keep dreaming, Potter,” Ron said.
“I just need it to activate the map,” Harry said.
“Sure you do,” Ron said with a grin. “Draco can activate it for you.”
“Fine,” Harry said as he took a couple of steps back.
Draco laid his own map out beside Harry’s and pointed his wand at them and said, “I solemnly swear that I’m up to no good.”
Everyone watched as the maps began to take shape and the title appeared at the top of both. Harry could see that Draco’s was missing the “Moony”. Draco unfolded his map to show everyone in the office labeled exactly where they stood. Upon unfolding Harry’s he was fascinated to see that it showed McGonagall in the Great Hall instead of her office. The office didn’t show any of them. He was just about to pronounce it a fake when he spotted the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall. He saw that several Potters were there clustered very close to several more Weasleys. Along with them he saw someone named Scorpius Malfoy. On Draco’s map his son Lucius was sitting in almost the exact spot at the Gryffindor table.
Draco turned to Harry and asked, “Who in the hell are you?”
“I could ask all of you the same thing,” Harry said. “I’m still leaning toward the figment of my imagination theory.”
“What is it, Draco?” Ron asked as he stepped forward to look at the maps. “I thought you said he was the real Harry Potter.”
“I think he actually is,” Draco said. “I’m just thinking he may not be the Harry Potter we all know.”
“Wait,” Ron said as he looked up from the maps. “Are you thinking that the one we know is a fake?”
“No, I think he’s just as real as this one,” Draco said as he spotted something and stepped toward Harry.
Draco brushed Harry’s hair out of the way until the scar was visible. He looked at it for several seconds before raising his wand hand and brushing back his own hair to reveal an identical scar.
“The scar could be a fake,” Ron suggested. “Everyone knows what it looks like.”
“The map doesn’t lie, Ron,” Draco pointed out. “We can be fairly certain that this really is Harry Potter. That being the case, if he were going to fake a scar and make a fake copy of the Marauders Map then why doesn’t it seem to work right? It doesn’t even show him in this office. At the least it should do that or he never would have allowed us to know he had one.”
“Are you suggesting that there are two of them?” Phineas asked.
“So it would seem,” Draco replied. “If not then why would he even be here right now? If he somehow escaped from Azkaban then the middle of the street in Diagon Alley is surely the last place he would go. Then he went to his parents house. Surely he would have realized there were spells placed on the entire area that would warn the aurors if any of the Potters got anywhere near it. Then he came here. Why?”
“Because he’s barking mad I would say,” Ron suggested. “He’s had years in Azkaban to plan all of this.”
“I don’t even think any of you are real,” Harry said. “I certainly wouldn’t plan this chaos on purpose.”
“This will never be solved if everyone is not willing to concede the possibility that we are all real,” Snape pointed out.
“Let me punch him in the face,” Ron said. “I’ll show him how real I am.”
“If this were all real instead of some weird dream then there should at least be something in this place that makes sense,” Harry said.
“Perhaps the glowing coin is the key,” Draco said.
“We discussed the possibility that it was the portkey he used to escape from Azkaban,” McGonagall informed them. “We thought perhaps it scrambled his memories.”
“It didn’t put that scar on his forehead,” Draco said. “It didn’t create a Marauders Map for him. It didn’t help him improve his dueling skills. He defended against Ron and I easily when we tried to capture him in Diagon Alley. He had a counter for every move we made before we made it. He didn’t learn that in Azkaban. Besides, the guards there have already confirmed that Harry is still in his cell. The Harry Potter I know would never be able to defend against my dueling attacks. I found that out when I captured him the first time.”
“What are you trying to say?” Ron asked.
“Maybe he really is an auror,” Draco said. “Maybe his entire story is true.”
“How is that possible?” McGonagall asked. “Both realities can’t be true.”
“They can if that coin really was a portkey,” Draco suggested. “We found it in Diagon Alley after Harry got away from us. We took it back to the Ministry and the guys from the Department of Mysteries were anxious to get their hands on it.”
“I wouldn’t advise it,” Harry said. “It feels far worse than any portkey you may have used in the past.”
“I meant that in a figurative sense,” Draco explained.
“So where did he portkey from then?” Ron asked.
“I don’t know,” Draco admitted. “Maybe a parallel timeline, or another dimension.”
“That sounds just as crazy as he does,” Ron said.
“Assuming any of that were true,” McGonagall said, “what can be done about it? Can the coin be used again? Will it take him back where he came from?”
“I don’t know,” Draco said.
“What am I supposed to do until you figure it out?” Harry asked. “I can’t very well walk into the Leaky Cauldron and ask for a room. Not as long as everyone associates my face with a criminal.”
“I’m sure we can find a nice cell at the Ministry for you,” Ron suggested.
“I’m sorry to say that Ron may be right,” Draco said. “The Minister will have to be made aware of this situation. I’m sure he’ll want to question you himself. I don’t know how forthcoming the information about the coin will be from the Department of Mysteries. You may have to be a guest of the Ministry for a while.”
“Oh terrific,” Harry said sarcastically. “If spending the day here has been a nightmare I can’t wait to see how bad the night will be. I don’t suppose I get my wand back.”
“Not a chance, Potter,” Ron said as he tightened his grip on his own wand.
In the days that followed Harry spent a great deal of time pacing in his cell. The Ministry officials had indeed been very keen to interrogate him. They called in medical experts who ran cross checks with his blood samples against those of the Harry Potter in Azkaban. As he expected they were a perfect match. It had taken them two days to confirm that his scar was perfectly identical to the one Draco wore. A full week had passed before the Minister of Magic came to see him. Harry was surprised to find that Cornelius Fudge was still holding the position in this strange alternate reality. Still, no amount of testing, questioning or observing seemed to be getting Harry any closer to getting out of captivity.
Harry’s forehead hit the table in front of him with a soft thud. His interrogator looked on with a bit of satisfaction. He knew the Harry in front of him wasn’t the death eater responsible for the death of his dad, but he was willing to pretend.
“How many times do I have to tell you?” Harry asked as he raised his head again. “I don’t care if the wand of your Harry Potter was destroyed. The one you’re holding is mine, not his. I’m willing to bet Mr. Ollivander could tell you that.”
“Maybe he could if he was still alive,” Wilmont said.
“I’m getting tired of answering these questions,” Harry said. “I want to know when I’m getting out of here, and I want to know it right now. I haven’t done anything wrong. You can’t hold me forever.”
“Of course we can,” Wilmont said with a nasty grin. “I hear a cell is being prepared for you in Azkaban. Maybe you can have one next to yourself.”
“I won’t let things go that far,” Harry said. “I guess I’ll have to get myself out.”
“Just how do you think you’re going to do that?” Wilmont asked as he sat back in his chair.
“How many years have you been an interrogator with the Ministry?” Harry asked.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Wilmont asked in response.
“You’ve been pretty careless so far,” Harry said as he looked Wilmont square in the eye. “No one else who questioned me brought my wand and my map into the room. Obviously I wasn’t going to leave without them.”
“You won’t be leaving with them either, Potter,” Wilmont said as he stiffened expecting Harry to try and physically attack him.
“I beg to differ,” Harry said with a small grin. “You’re probably thinking that the interrogation area is protected by restricting the use of magic within it. What you failed to realize is that aurors with top clearance are taught how to remove that restriction just in case it should be needed.”
“You still wouldn’t be able to get your wand away from me, Potter,” Wilmont said as he stood and drew his own wand. “If you’ve truly somehow removed the restriction then my wand will work in here.”
“I never said I needed my wand,” Harry said as he quickly performed a wordless and wandless spell, and Wilmont went rigid and toppled over.
Harry stood and walked around the table to retrieve his wand from Wilmont’s stiff hand. A quick swipe at the table and the map was being tucked back into his pocket where it belonged. The easy part was done. Harry knew he would have to dig deep into his bag of tricks to make it out of the Ministry.
There were two guards out in the hallway. Harry used his wand to stun them before they could ask any questions. At the end of the hallway Harry entered the small chamber where another guard waited behind a glass barrier. Harry was pleased to see that there was still only one guard in the room since the disguising spell he was using could only be used against one person. From the room one door led back to the cells while the other door led out of the detention level. Without saying a word Harry walked toward the way out and the guard buzzed him through without question.
At the end of the next hallway there was an area Harry was sure would be full of aurors at that time of day. Sure enough, Harry looked around the corner carefully and saw around a dozen aurors congregating and blocking his path toward the elevators. Harry used his wand to dowse all of the lights in the area. As soon as it was pitch black, Harry rushed around the corner and placed himself among the aurors. Light sprang from wand tips all around Harry and he lit his own in response. All of the wands trained on the edges of the room looking for any sign of trouble or an attack. Having spotted none the order went out for a few of the aurors to ride up the elevator and see if the problem was a localized one. Harry joined that group and carefully positioned himself at the back of the elevator so that his face wouldn’t be the first seen when the elevator doors opened. As soon as the elevator was away from the lower floor the light in the elevator came back on, but Harry had already used the imperious curse on the two aurors in front of him so that they would shield him from view of the others. The elevator stopped at the next floor and the doors opened. The aurors started filing out as they noticed the lights were on there. Suddenly they heard the elevator doors close behind them. They turned to see that three of their mates were still on it and the two in the front were acting like they didn’t know why the doors had closed. Then the elevator departed as it continued on.
The elevator doors didn’t open again until it had come to rest in the main atrium. The large crowd Harry expected was indeed present. As the doors opened a gasp went up from those waiting to get on the elevator as they saw Harry standing there in front of them. They calmed a bit when they noticed the two big aurors standing behind him holding on to his arms as they urged him out of the elevator. The crowd parted as they walked and Harry was almost convinced he was going to make it out without incident, but he looked up to see Draco and Ron standing directly in his path.
“What’s going on?” Ron asked as they neared his position. “Where are you taking him?”
“It seems I’m to be placed under house arrest,” Harry explained. “It isn’t ideal, but hopefully it will be better than my stay here.”
“I never heard anything about this,” Draco said.
“Minister’s orders,” one of the aurors said.
“Where are you taking him?” Draco asked.
“My… or rather Harry Potter’s parents house,” Harry said. “Can you believe that? The least the Ministry could do is get me a room at the Leaky Cauldron.”
Draco considered it all very carefully before he said, “You’ll have to wait until I check this out for myself.”
Harry grunted and said, “Fine, go ahead. I’ll wait here.”
“You can go back to the detention level and wait,” Draco said.
“I’m not going back there just because you say to,” Harry said. I’m ready to go now.”
“Take him back to his cell and stay with him until I come to get you,” Draco said to the two aurors, but they made no move to obey his order.
Harry knew it was coming. He already had his wand drawn as Draco was reaching for his. Harry hit Ron with a quick stunning spell to keep him out of it as he trained his wand on Draco just in time to defend against a rather nasty hex.
“I don’t want to fight you, Draco,” Harry said as he defended against another attack and people all around them ran for cover. “I just want to get back home.”
“This isn’t the way to do it,” Draco said as he tried to slip a subtle spell past Harry without success.
“The other way wasn’t working so well for me either,” Harry said. “One way or the other I’m leaving here today.”
“Do you have the coin?” Draco asked.
“I didn’t have time to stop and get it,” Harry admitted as he produced a shield that flared into brilliant color when Draco’s spell impacted on it. “I’ll have to come back for it.”
Harry began a flurry of high impact, yet non-lethal spells designed to push Draco backwards as he defended them. Harry was pleased to see that Draco was forced to step back as he defended against each one of them. This Draco was a much better duelist than the one he knew, but Harry wondered if he or Draco were holding back more of their full dueling ability.
“You certainly have a different spell selection than I’m used to with my Harry Potter,” Draco said as Harry gave him a moment to breathe and he used that opportunity to send a battering spell at Harry.
“I was just thinking the same about you,” Harry said as he deflected the spell off against a column and bits of it fell to the floor. “This is stupid you know? We both fought and defeated Voldemort. It would be a real shame if we had to kill each other.”
“It would, wouldn’t it,” Draco said as he shot another hex at Harry. “Still, I have a job to do.”
“I have a job to get back to,” Harry said. “I have a family I’d like to see again.”
It was Harry’s turn to sidestep and then begin stepping backwards from the barrage of spells Draco began raining down on him. Harry noticed a bit more force used in these over his previous ones.
“You’ll have to forgive me,” Draco said. “The family thing is a bit sensitive for me now that I’ve read your statements about it.”
“Oh don’t tell me…” Harry said.
“I married Ginny Weasley,” Draco admitted.
“I asked you not to tell me,” Harry said as he unleashed a series of spells Draco almost wasn’t ready for as space was created between them.
Draco heard the sound of aurors rushing toward them as a flash temporarily blinded him. Out of instinct he raised a shield, but nothing impacted it as he squinted to make out the shape of someone sliding into the exit floo system.
Once outside the Ministry, Harry wasted no time before apparating to the shrieking shack. Having gone there before without the aurors following seemed to assure that it was not a place they thought to look for him. It wasn’t the most comfortable place to be, but it was safe and gave Harry a chance to plan his next move.
By midnight Harry had emerged from the tunnel under the whomping willow once again. He wasn’t going to seek out Professor McGonagall this time. Instead he angled toward the owlery. It seemed the best place to send a covert message.
Harry tied the prewritten message to the leg of the owl and sent it on its way. He didn’t even know if it would reach the person he was trying to send it to. Even if it did he wasn’t sure how his offer would be received. He could only wait and see.
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