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Chapter 2 : A Reversal of Fortunes Part 2
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Touching his pocket Harry could feel the coins he had appropriated from one of the aurors in the elevator, so, after checking outside carefully for unwanted visitors, Harry set out for The Hogs Head Inn. It seemed the most logical place to not encounter any more people than necessary. Just in case, and having more time to complete the more complicated spell, Harry placed a disguising charm on himself that anyone who saw him would see as his good friend from the interrogation room, Wilmont.
Harry walked into the door of the Hog’s Head without incident. Only the barman was present, and Harry took notice that it was not Aberforth Dumbledore. Harry ordered his food, but talked as little as possible. That was something the barman didn’t seem to mind. Harry picked a table in the darkest corner he could find and waited for his food to arrive.
As first light was just beginning to filter in through the windows, Harry was standing at the bar paying for the food he had eaten and the food he had ordered to take with him. He stiffened slightly as the front door creaked open. Turning his head he spotted a man enter looking equally uncomfortable that someone was there to see him. The stranger shut the door and moved quickly to a table still in the shadows of the room. Harry gathered his things and left without turning to look at the new arrival.
Harry had taken no more than ten steps from the Hog’s Head when the owl he had sent out the night before landed in front of him with a message tied to its leg. He quickly removed the message and read it. It was the response to his earlier message. He was pleased to see that it was received positively. Upon reading the message he knew exactly who the stranger in the Hog’s Head must have been. The message said he wanted to meet Harry there.
Not wanting to take a chance on a face to face meeting, Harry quickly jotted a response stating exactly what it was he wanted stolen and where it could be found. He included the timetable of two days to get the portkey back. After that he would have to venture out for more food again. After assuring him of a substantial payment, Harry used his wand to place a picture of the dark mark where his signature would normally be.
Harry went back to the shrieking shack to wait for another communication. He awoke on the second day to the sound of an owl hooting just outside one of the broken windows. Harry surveyed the area outside carefully before letting the owl in. The message carried by the owl told him that Livingston had been successful in acquiring the requested object. Harry didn’t dismiss the possibility that Livingston had been captured and told the aurors what he was sent after. It wouldn’t take Draco long to guess that Harry was the one who had commissioned the robbery. Harry decided to check as deeply as he dared into that possibility.
Disguising himself once again, Harry walked as casually as possible into Hogsmeade. He knew that the first delivery of the Prophet was always made to the Three Broomsticks, and he caught the delivery boy just after he dropped them off and bought a paper from him. Harry tucked the paper under his arm and continued walking up the street so as not to arouse suspicion by turning around and leaving too quickly. Harry paused at some of the windows of shops not yet open as he pretended to look at their displays. After doing so for several minutes he ducked casually into an alley and disapparated back to the shrieking shack.
Harry opened the paper and scanned the front page before finding a small article on the bottom left side reporting a theft from the Ministry. In it the Ministry claimed not to know the identity of the thief. He knew that even that could be a ruse designed to draw him out in the open. If it was, then it was going to work. Harry knew he had to take the chance despite his reservations.
Harry disguised himself once again for yet another trip into Hogsmeade. Not wanting to repeat his earlier disguises, he instead chose the image of a man he had once met on a trip to France. He thought that would assure that no one on the street would recognize him and stop him to talk.
Harry apparated into the same alley he had left from earlier and walked out onto the street as casually as he could. A man was standing at the entrance to the alley and turned to look at Harry for a moment. Harry smiled and nodded to the man in a passing greeting as he walked by. It was plain to see that the aurors were in Hogsmeade. Harry recognized the man he had passed as one that had been on the elevator during his escape. A few of his friends were watching the street from various other positions. Not wanting to arouse suspicion, Harry walked straight for The Three Broomsticks instead of his planned destination of the post office.
Harry opened the door of The Three Broomsticks and walked inside. He took a moment to survey the room as if it was his first time there. He had to make a believable show of it since Draco and Ron were standing at the bar talking to Madame Rosemerta. They had turned to look at him when he came in, and watched him as he walked to a table and sat down. Madame Rosemerta walked over to him and asked what she could get for him.
Harry put on his best French accent and said, “Just some Pumpkin juice and some toast.”
Once the food came, Harry took his time as he spread butter onto a wedge of toast. He could see in his peripheral vision that Ron was keeping a constant eye on him, and Draco was turning to look his way occasionally. The longer it went on the more he began to think that perhaps it would have been less suspicious if he had just gone to the post office first. He had nearly finished his toast when he saw Draco and Ron begin to walk toward him.
“Morning,” Draco said as he stopped at Harry’s table.
“Oh, good morning,” Harry said, thankful that he and Ginny had taken such a long vacation in France after they had been married.
“So, you’re from France,” Draco said.
“Oui,” Harry responded. “I am Charles Dumaree from Avignon. Would you like to join me?”
“No, thank you,” Draco replied. “I’m Draco Malfoy. This is my partner, Ron Weasley. We’re aurors from the Ministry of Magic.”
“Has there been some kind of trouble?” Harry asked.
“What makes you ask that?” Ron asked as he watched Harry closely.
“I saw all of those men outside on the street on my way here,” Harry said. “They are with you I hope.”
“They are,” Draco said wishing the men outside could have been a little less conspicuous.
“Oh good,” Harry said. “For a moment there my imagination got the better of me.”
“Maybe you were expecting some trouble,” Ron suggested.
“Inventing perhaps,” Harry said, “but not expecting. It is a fault of mine. I lead such a quiet life that I sometimes imagine a bit of adventure in it to keep things interesting.”
“Have you been in England long?” Draco asked.
“Only long enough to have a piece of toast and a few sips of pumpkin juice,” Harry replied.
“You didn’t come all the way from France to have breakfast,” Ron said.
“Oh no,” Harry said with a smile. “I was hoping to meet someone here.”
“Is that right,” Ron said as his hand inched closer to his wand. “Who were you supposed to meet?”
“Monsieur Hagrid,” Harry said. “He is the gamekeeper of Hogwarts.”
“I know that,” Ron said. “I went to Hogwarts.”
“Of course,” Harry said. “I should have known that. What can you tell me about him? What sort of man is he?”
“So, you don’t know Hagrid?” Draco asked.
“No,” Harry said. “I sent him an owl last week to let him know that I would meet him here today.”
“Why did you need to see him?” Draco asked.
“I am trying to relocate a family of Avignon Pixies,” Harry said.
“We already have pixies here in England,” Ron pointed out. “Nasty little buggers they are too. I don’t think we need any more.”
“Oh, no, Monsieur Weasley,” Harry said. “The pixies of Avignon are a domesticated colony. Quite different from your ordinary pixies.”
“Are you in the business of trading in magical creatures?” Draco asked.
“If I were then I wouldn’t have to imagine the adventure in my life,” Harry pointed out. “I run a small inn in Avignon. The pixies tend to the gardens in Avignon. They pick vegetables, cut grass, rake up leaves, and tend to flowers.”
“That’s amazing,” Draco said. “Why would you want to relocate them?”
“Pixies live in tight nit family groups,” Harry said. “However, when a family becomes too large for the amount of area they care for, part of the family splits off and forms a new family in a new garden. This was not a problem up until now. There is no longer a place inside the boundary of Avignon that is unkept by a family of pixies. For some reason they are unwilling to venture outside of the wizarding section of Avignon.”
“What makes you think they would be willing to relocate to Hogwarts then?” Ron asked.
“I asked them,” Harry said.
“You talked to them?” Ron asked with a stunned expression.
“Of course,” Harry said. “They speak French almost as well as I do.”
“Well it certainly seems like something Hagrid would be interested in,” Draco said. “When was he supposed to meet you?”
“I wrote to him and said I would be here early this morning,” Harry explained. “I never received a response though. I don’t even know if he got the message at all. It wouldn’t be the first time my owl didn’t deliver a message to the right person. He’s very old and tends to get a bit confused.”
“Well I hope you didn’t come all this way in vain,” Draco said.
“Oh, no,” Harry said. “It was hardly in vain. Not when I was fortunate enough to actually speak with the famous Draco Malfoy, and you as well of course, Monsieur Weasley.”
“I’m used to it,” Ron said as his hand relaxed.
“Well, we won’t take up any more of your time,” Draco said. “I hope Hagrid does come to meet you.”
“Thank you, Monsieur Malfoy,” Harry said. “If he does not come then I will send him another message. This time I will use an owl from the post office here. I have a feeling their owls are more dependable than mine.”
Harry watched the door close after Draco and Ron had left, and he let out a deep breath. He wasn’t feeling relief because he had made it through such a long conversation without giving himself away. He felt relief because he had successfully defended against Draco’s subtle attempts to perform covert spells designed to strip away any disguise he might have been using. He had to hand it to Draco though. It was a brilliant maneuver to get him into a conversation where he would have to do most of the talking. That gave ample time for Draco to silently launch his attacks, and it gave Harry precious few seconds to defend against them.
Forcing himself to take things slowly, Harry sipped his pumpkin juice until it was gone. Then he had it refilled and continued to sip it slowly. By the time the second round was empty he was already making a show of getting restless. Walking to the bar he paid for his order and thanked Madame Rosmerta.
Harry walked out of The Three Broomsticks and found the street outside clear of the aurors. He had no doubt that there were still a couple around and a bit more hidden than before. He didn’t see them though as he walked to the post office.
Having sent his message, Harry walked back out onto the street and disapparated back to the shrieking shack once again. He tried to nap in the afternoon as he waited for his evening meeting with Livingston, but the prospect of getting back to the world he knew filled his mind too much for rest to be possible. Instead he paced around checking outside every few minutes to assure that Draco and Ron had not followed him.
At ten minutes past eight Harry conjured a dark heavy cloak and wrapped it around himself. The hood was then pulled over his head to completely obscure his face from all but the most determined observer. Taking a deep breath, he disapparated.
When he reappeared Harry immediately stepped forward and pushed at the door in front of him. The interior of Borgin and Burke’s was as dimly lit as Harry remembered, but a quick glance around was enough to tell him that Livingston had not yet arrived. Borgin walked out from the back and stopped to look at the cloaked man in his shop. Such a thing was not an infrequent occurrence.
“Is there something I can help you find?” Borgin asked.
“I’m meeting someone here,” Harry replied without turning to look at him.
“This isn’t a meeting house,” Borgin informed him. “This is a shop, so you can leave if you’re not buying anything.”
“This is death eater business, Borgin,” Harry said as he felt Borgin tense. “It would be… unfortunate… if you were to interfere.”
“That voice…” Borgin said as the door opened and another cloaked figure walked inside.
The new arrival stopped in the door momentarily as he sized up the two men in the shop. Borgin he knew. The other man…
“You’re late, Livingston,” Harry said with a touch of irritation in his voice.
“You must have me confused with someone else,” Livingston said as he stepped the rest of the way in the shop and the door closed behind him.
“I don’t have time for games, Livingston,” Harry said. “Do you have the item or don’t you?”
“You have me at a loss, sir,” Livinston said.
Harry slowly lowered his hood and looked up to see shocked recognition on Livingston’s face even as he heard a gasp from Borgin behind him.
Harry began stepping closer to Livingston as he said, “Do you have what I asked for, or have you failed me?”
“I… No, I have it,” Livingston said as Harry stopped closer to him than he was comfortable with.
When Livingston stood frozen and didn’t move, Harry said, “It wouldn’t be wise to keep me waiting, Livingston. Let me see it.”
Livingston pulled a small wooden box from his cloak with a shaking hand. He used his other hand to lift the lid from the box and reveal a green glowing coin inside. It was inches away. All Harry had to do was reach out to touch it and he would be away from this crazy world.
Snapping the box shut, Livingston said, “I trust you find the item satisfactory. I believe a payment was promised.”
“That’s right,” Harry said. “As you may imagine given my most recent… living conditions, I don’t have such a sum like that on my person.”
“I don’t render my services on credit,” Livingston said as Harry shot him an icy look and he shriveled slightly.
“Nor should you make a habit of insulting me,” Harry said. “I have more than enough in my vault at Gringotts to pay you everything you are owed.”
“I assume you’ll get the money and meet me back here tomorrow then,” Livingston suggested.
“That coin will not leave my presence again,” Harry said as he took a step closer to Livingston. “You will accompany me to Gringotts. You will get your money. I will get the coin.”
Warning bells were ringing inside of Livingston’s head. He quickly decided that a tactical retreat was in order. He attempted to disapparate, but it didn’t work. He watched as a sly grin crept onto Harry’s face.
“Did you really think I would leave you such an obvious option?” Harry said. “I cast a spell to bar you from leaving before you ever even arrived. There are only two ways you will be leaving here today. Your first option is to walk out with me and accompany me to Gringotts. The other option… well, I would advise you take the first.”
“Why can’t I simply wait here while you get the money?” Livingston asked. “Why should I risk being seen with you?”
“Because I have doubts about you, Livingston,” Harry said. “The amount of time I gave you to steal the coin was unreasonable, yet here you stand with it conveniently in your possession.”
“I’m very good at what I do,” Livingston boasted.
“Or perhaps you were caught trying to steal it,” Harry suggested. “Maybe you made a deal with the aurors. Maybe you agreed to help them capture me.”
“You’re just being paranoid,” Livingston said.
“I’m being careful,” Harry said. “I don’t plan on making a return visit to Azkaban.”
“I’ve never been to Azkaban, and I don’t plan to go,” Livingston said. “Walking through Diagon Alley with you is a sure way to earn being sent there.”
“Walking through Diagon Alley with me is the only way you can prove to me that I can trust you,” Harry said. “Prove your worthiness to me now and it will be… profitable for you in the future.”
Livingston surveyed Harry appraisingly, and asked, “Why is this coin so important to you? What does it do?”
“It is the key to regaining everything that is rightfully mine,” Harry replied.
Livingston sighed as Harry failed to elaborate further. Sensing that he had no other reasonable choice, he turned and walked toward the door as Harry followed him closely. They didn’t stop until they came to the entrance to Diagon Alley. He looked back at Harry expecting him to use a disguising spell, but he watched as Harry simply pulled his hood back up to hide his face within it.
A nudge on the back of his shoulder told Livingston he was apparently to precede Harry in entering Diagon Alley. Livingston walked forward as casually as he could thankful for the light traffic in Diagon Alley at that late hour. In only a few steps he saw Harry pull even with him on his left side. He briefly thought about the possibility of suddenly shoving Harry aside; giving him the precious seconds necessary to escape. No sooner had the thought crossed his mind then he saw Harry turn his head toward him. He knew in that instant that escape was no longer an option.
They walked in silence. It was a fact that neither of them minded. The joke shop lay several meters ahead of them, and after that, Gringotts. Harry was still unsure of what he would do once he got there. Chances that the Goblins would open his vault for him without his key were slim. Then again, he wasn’t sure if the Harry Potter he was impersonating even had a vault. One way or the other, he didn’t intend to let Livingston get away even after he had the coin in his possession. He was reviewing his plans when he saw it.
Harry’s feet stopped moving of their own accord. Livingston stopped and looked back at him after a couple more steps. He was looking at the joke shop where Draco Malfoy was walking out the door with Ginny on his arm. Livingston looked back to Harry and could see his chest rising and falling rapidly as his hands curled into tight fists with a loud crack of the knuckles.
Draco looked up and spotted a hooded figure thirty meters away looking in his direction. The man standing with him looked nervous as he looked back and forth between them. Draco came to a stop.
“What is it, Draco?” Ginny asked.
“Get back into the shop, Ginny,” Draco said not taking his eyes off of the hooded man.
Ginny knew from experience that Draco would never say such a thing unless he thought she might be in danger. She quickly turned and walked back into the joke shop.
As soon as the door to the shop closed, Livingston took off in a run away from Harry. Harry’s wand dropped from his sleeve into his right hand and he petrified Livingston and caused him to fall stiffly between he and Draco. Harry immediately raised a shield to counter the spell Draco had already sent at him.
When a counter attack wasn’t launched, Draco asked, “Is that you, Potter?”
Harry responded by lowering his hood. The two stood looking at one another attempting to guess the other’s next move.
“I didn’t expect to see you again,” Draco said. “After you stole the coin I thought you would have used it to get back to where you came from.”
“Believe me,” Harry said, “nothing would have made me happier. I didn’t steal the coin though.”
Draco looked to the man lying on the ground in front of him and he said, “Of course. You had someone steal it for you. That was why none of the traps were set off. They were only designed to work if you tried to take the coin.”
“I had a feeling that would be the case,” Harry confirmed. “I had Livingston do it for me.”
Draco pointed to the man on the ground and asked, “Livingston?”
“Yes,” Harry replied. “He’s using a disguising spell, but it’s him.”
Draco studied Harry for a few seconds before he said, “Livingston wouldn’t have taken the chance at being seen in public with you.”
“I don’t have time to relate the entire story to you,” Harry said. “Consider him a gift. You can have him. I just want the coin.”
“You don’t have it?” Draco asked. “If you don’t then…”
Harry and Draco’s hands were in motion quickly as they both attempted to summon the coin from Livingston. It sprang out of his pocket, but floated in the air being pulled in opposite directions as the two fought for dominance. Harry’s wand was in motion immediately as he hoped the spell he fired at Draco would make him surrender his hold on the box. Instead, Draco deflected Harry’s spell and sent out a hex of his own. Harry countered it, and the two began an exchange of spells that didn’t seem to get either of them closer to their goals.
The few other patrons in the alley scurried for cover soon after the battle began. Harry and Draco had the area all to themselves for whatever havoc may ensue, but those observing from the windows could see that the battle didn’t live up to their expectations. After all, an auror attempting to subdue a dangerous criminal had a plethora of powerful and effective spells at his disposal, but Draco seemed to be hesitant to use them. Likewise, the Potters were all known for their use of dark spells designed to torture and kill, yet Harry used nothing more threatening than a stunning spell or the mildest of hexes. Not everyone was so content to sit by and watch though.
Harry saw it even before Draco knew. The door to the joke shop opened and George ran out with his wand already half way through a spell that Harry had to work quickly to defend against in addition to Draco’s. Harry’s concentration snapped though when he looked up and watched Fred run out of the shop behind George. Harry saw the spell coming toward him, but his mind was too preoccupied to formulate an appropriate defense. Fred’s spell hit Harry in the chest and sent him flying backwards. Harry hit the ground hard on his back.
Harry knew the fight was going to have to become more serious. The box containing the coin was firmly in Draco’s hand because of Harry’s lack of concentration. Harry couldn’t afford to let him keep it.
Harry quickly maneuvered to a crouching position and brought his wand up. He was just in time as the spells from Fred and George impacted on his shield simultaneously. Harry performed a dusting charm and created a large dust cloud that rolled over Fred, George, and Draco, and effectively shielded Harry from their view. Regaining his feet, he wasted no time in changing his location. He was sure that one of them would likely shoot off a blind spell in the general direction where he had previously stood.
Harry watched as the dust cloud began to clear. He could just make out the outlines as the three of them stood together. He didn’t want to fight them, but he needed that coin.
Harry was still considering his options when he heard a sound behind him as if someone had just apparated. He turned to see Ron raising his wand. Ron shot off a spell that whistled past Harry and impacted on a shield Draco had produced.
“Harry,” Ron said as he rushed to Harry’s side still aiming his wand at Draco, “Are you alright?”
“Ron?” Harry asked. “How… I don’t…”
“What in bloody hell is going on?” Ron asked as Fred and George became visible through the dust. “It can’t be.”
“It’s a bit complicated, Ron,” Harry said as Draco walked closer to them as Fred and George followed.
“Have we gone back in time?” Ron asked.
“Some kind of parallel dimension I think,” Harry replied. “I wouldn’t try to kill Draco here. He’s an auror.”
“An auror?” Ron asked. “What kind of barmy place is this? How can Fred be…”
“It’s a long story,” Harry said as Draco came to a stop a safe distance away as Fred and George walked to his side.
“Ron,” Fred said as he kept his wand trained on Harry, “you git. What are you playing at?”
“I don’t think this is your brother, Fred,” Draco said as he slowly lowered his wand and Harry did the same. “What is my son’s name, Ron?”
“Scorpius,” Ron replied unable to take his eyes off of Fred.
“Just as I thought,” Draco said. “You don’t belong here any more than Harry does.”
“I came to take Harry back with me,” Ron supplied.
“How did you get here, mate?” Harry asked.
“It turns out there were two of those coins in the Department of Mysteries,” Ron said with a grin. “After you disappeared, I went back to the Ministry with Livingston. Then I went to the Department of Mysteries to ask them about that coin. I had to twist a few arms, but eventually they told me what they knew.”
“I was trying to get the coin that brought me here back so I could get home,” Harry said. “The Ministry here doesn’t seem to want to give it to me though.”
“It wouldn’t have done you any good,” Ron said. “It wouldn’t have worked for you a second time.”
“I wish I had known that sooner,” Harry said. “It would have saved me a lot of time planning to steal it back.”
“If they only work one time then you’re stuck here now too though,” Draco observed.
“Wrong Malfoy,” Ron said. “The coin only works for the same person once in a row. That was why there was a pair of coins. A person could use one to get here, and the other to get back home.”
“Not a very efficient system,” George observed.
“If you lost one the other would be useless,” Fred agreed.
A large smile spread over Ron’s face as he looked at the twins and said, “I’ve missed that.”
“What?” George asked.
“Seeing the two of you theorize over how to improve something,” Ron said. “I’d love to see what you’ve come up with lately.”
“What exactly is going on here, Draco?” George asked. “You say this isn’t my brother, but it seems like Ron. Harry Potter is standing here with his wand at his side instead of trying to kill us all. Has the world gone mad, or am I just dreaming this?”
“I know exactly how you feel,” Harry said. “Imagine how confused I was when I first got here.”
“We need to get off the street,” Draco said as he looked around at the faces peering from the shops. “Go into the joke shop and wait for me. I’ll take Livingston and the coin back to the Ministry. Then I’ll come back and we can sort this whole thing out.”
“Seriously?” Fred asked. “You want us to take Harry Potter into our shop?”
“I’d hand over my wand to you,” Harry said, “but things didn’t go so well the last time I did that.”
“You have to trust me, Fred,” Draco said.
Fred and George looked at each other and smiled before they both said, “All right then.”
“Follow us,” George said as he and Fred turned and started walking toward their shop.
Draco collected Livingston and apparated away. Fred opened the door to his shop and Harry and Ron followed him inside. Harry stopped suddenly a few steps into the shop and Ron nearly ran into him before stopping himself.
“Are the three of you mad?” Ginny asked as she raised her wand toward Harry.
“Draco told us to bring him in here,” Fred informed her.
“It gets even stranger though,” George said with a knowing grin. “You wouldn’t guess it, but apparently this isn’t Ron.”
“At least not the one we all know,” Fred clarified.
“What are you talking about?” Ginny asked not lowering her wand.
“Don’t ask me,” Fred said. “They were talking about some kind of coins that transport people one way. Draco said he would explain it when he got back.”
“So, why is it that you all seem to hate Harry so much here?” Ron asked.
“Why is it that you don’t?” Ginny asked.
“Because he’s saved my life more times than I can count,” Ron replied. “He’s been my best friend since the day I met him, and he’s married to…”
“Don’t, Ron!” Harry said sadly. “Please don’t say that right now.”
“But, Harry, she…” Ron began.
“Please, Ron,” Harry said as he held his wand out and allowed Fred to take it from him.
They watched as Harry turned and walked down one of the isles pretending to seem interested in the merchandise on the shelves. Ron decided it was likely best if he did the same.
“So, Ron,” Fred said quietly as he walked close to where Ron was looking, “what exactly did you mean earlier?”
“About what?” Ron asked.
“About not getting to watch George and I plan things,” Fred said.
“Oh,” Ron said uncomfortably. “I’m not sure I should tell you.”
“Which only makes us want to know more, of course,” George said with a grin.
“Come on, Ron,” Fred urged. “Out with it.”
“Maybe he was sent away for chronic git-ness,” George teased.
“Or maybe…” Fred said.
“You died,” Ron said sorrowfully as he turned to look at Fred.
The twins stood there speechless as they stared back at Ron. George turned to look at Fred as he tried to imagine what life would be like without him. An icy feeling seemed to stab at his heart even though, for him, it was an imaginary situation.
“How?” Fred finally asked.
“At the battle of Hogwarts,” Ron said.
“Really?” Fred asked curiously. “I narrowly missed being hit when a wall exploded beside me.”
“My brother wasn’t so lucky,” Ron said. “A lot of people weren’t as lucky that day. It would have been even worse if Harry hadn’t been there to defeat Voldemort.”
“What did you say?” Ginny asked angrily as she walked closer. “Draco was the one who killed Voldemort.”
“Are you serious?” Ron asked. “Malfoy was a death eater.”
“Not here, he wasn’t,” Harry said not looking at them.
Ginny walked quickly over to Harry and grabbed his arm and turned him to face her. She reached up with her hand and brushed aside the hair on his forehead. She gasped as she stepped back from him.
“It can’t be,” Ginny said.
A loud pop signaled the arrival of another person as Ron suddenly appeared out of nowhere behind Harry, and, raising his wand, said, “Don’t move, Potter.”
“I’d lower my wand… if I were you,” Ron said as he pointed his wand at the back of the new arrival.
Ron turned to see his own image staring back at him over the tip of a wand. He glanced back at Harry, but he hadn’t even turned around, so he turned to look back into Ron’s eyes.
“Wow,” George said. “If things weren’t weird before then they certainly are now.”
“You can’t point your wand at an auror here and not expect trouble,” Ron warned.
“I agree,” Ron said. “I suggest you lower your wand. Harry and I are aurors too. Besides, I don’t think Fred and George want us to wreck their shop.”
“Just relax, Ron,” Ginny said, still keeping her distance from Harry. “He’s already surrendered his wand.”
“That doesn’t make him any less dangerous,” Ron warned, “especially now that he seems to have company.”
“I just came to take him back with me,” Ron said.
“Maybe he won’t be going back,” Ron said as he kept his wand aimed at Harry. “He broke out of the Ministry. I’m sure the Minister would like to get him back.”
Ron grinned before openly laughing and said, “You have to be kidding. You tried to imprison Harry in your Ministry? You really didn’t have any idea of who you were dealing with, did you?”
“We were attempting to verify his identity,” Ron said.
“You did that fairly early on,” Harry said with a touch of resentment. “I never should have surrendered my wand.”
“You’ve done it easily enough tonight,” Ron commented.
“I did that for my wife, you git!” Harry said as his voice rose slightly. “I mean…”
“She isn’t your wife, Potter!” Ron said as he pointed at Ginny.
“Do you think I don’t know that?” Harry asked. “As I looked at her I heard the sound of my wife’s voice in my head. Surrendering my wand is what she would have wanted me to do.”
They stood and stared at one another until Ginny walked between them and said, “Lower your wand, Ron. Both of you. Someone better start explaining what is going on. How can there be two of you? Why does Harry Potter have a scar identical to Draco? Why does he think of his wife when he looks at me? Start talking, Ron.”
“Draco thinks he came from some kind of parallel dimension,” Ron explained as he lowered his wand slowly. “He certainly spun quite a fantastic tale while he was at the Ministry. They verified that the Potter we all know is still in Azkaban, but this one matches him physically in every way other than that scar.”
“Did you say that your Draco has a scar like Harry’s?” Ron asked
“His history and mine are so similar it’s a bit scary,” Harry said. “Voldemort killed his parents and gave him that scar the same way he did to me.”
“Your parents weren’t death eaters then?” Fred asked.
“No,” Harry explained. “They were in the Order of the Phoenix. They fought against the death eaters.”
“Never mind the fact that this Order he talks about was formed by Albus Dumbledore,” Ron said.
“So what?” Ron asked. “How is that a bad thing?”
“This isn’t going to get us anywhere,” Harry said. “We’re wasting time.”
“What’s your hurry, Potter?” Ron asked.
“It won’t hurt anything to stay a bit longer, Harry,” Ron said as he gestured toward Fred.
“That isn’t your brother, Ron,” Harry reasoned, though he could see it was falling on deaf ears.
“He’s as close as I’ll ever get to having him back though,” Ron explained. “Let me enjoy it a bit,”
“Another brother, eh George?” Fred said with a smile.
“Just what we needed, Fred,” George joked.
“Well, if you’re taking me then you can take Harry too,” Ron said. “He’s my brother-in-law.”
Ginny’s eyes widened in shock as she turned to look at Harry. He was already looking at the ground shaking his head slightly. She could see his jaw tensing, and she marveled at how very different this Harry Potter was.
A pop signified Draco’s arrival as he said, “I’m glad to see things haven’t gotten out of hand here. I have to admit I was a bit afraid when Ron disapparated like that after I told him you were here.”
“Let me know when you’re ready to go, Ron,” Harry said as he turned and walked away from them all.
Draco watched Harry as he walked away, and he asked, “What’s wrong with him?”
“A bit of family trouble I think,” Fred suggested as he looked at Ginny.
“The new Ron let it slip that Harry is apparently married to Ginny,” George clarified.
“I see,” Draco said as Ginny noticed his jaw clenching as well.
“He misses her,” Ron explained. “Harry is… very attached to his family. He didn’t have one growing up, so he really cherishes the time he spends with Ginny and his kids. It nearly drives him mad to spend two days away from Ginny when we’re on an assignment. I’m sure the time he’s spent here hasn’t been easy on him. I know it hasn’t been for Ginny.”
“How many?” Ginny asked. “How many kids does he have?”
“Three,” Ron replied. “Two boys and a girl. They’re all at Hogwarts now. Lily was just sorted into Gryffindor a few weeks ago. Ginny hasn’t told them about Harry being missing, but they probably suspect something is wrong. Harry usually sends them an owl every few days.”
“It sounds like someone else I know,” Ginny said as she glanced at Draco.
Ron caught the look and said, “Hold on. Do you mean to say that you’re married to Draco Malfoy?”
“Yes,” Ginny confirmed.
“Weird,” Ron said with a grin.
“Your version was weird to the rest of us,” Ron commented.
“I didn’t mean it like that,” Ron said. “I was saying it was weird that your Draco is married to your Ginny while my Draco and I are facing the uncomfortable possibility of becoming in-laws. My daughter started dating his son last school year. I guess we can’t seem to keep our families apart in either dimension.”
“At least you got to have a kid,” Ron said scornfully.
“Don’t tell me,” Ron said. “You never told her I guess. Maybe there’s still time.”
“Shut up, you git!” Ron shouted. “Take your precious Harry Potter and get out of here!”
“Take it easy, Ron,” Draco said as he stepped between them and placed his hand on Ron’s shoulder. “He wouldn’t have said anything if he had known.”
“Known what?” Ron asked.
“I’m going to take a walk,” Ron said, the tension still evident in his voice. “Hopefully they’ll be gone when I get back.”
They watched as Ron turned and walked for the door. They discovered just how angry he was by the force he used when he slammed the door after him.
“Was it something I said?” Ron asked.
“They were in love,” Ginny said as she watched Ron walk away from the shop. “Ron never got the chance to propose to her. Even after all these years he still won’t date other women.”
“Wait,” Ron said holding his hand up with a suspicious look on his face. “You left something out. Why didn’t he propose to her? Where is she?”
Ginny hesitated as she looked into the eyes of the man who was so like her brother, and wondered if his reaction to the story would also be similar as she said, “She was killed by… by a death eater.”
Ron’s face suddenly went deathly pale as his breathing seemed to stop as his mouth opened, but no sound issued from it. He reached into his pocket and grasped firmly to the object there. In his eyes Ginny saw a familiar fire burning. It was anger, and she knew that he was indeed very much like her own brother.
“Hermione,” Ron said softly. “Hermione is…”
“Your Hermione isn’t,” Draco reminded him. “She’s still waiting at home for you.”
“Did you catch him?” Ron asked as if he hadn’t heard Draco at all. “The death eater; did you catch him?”
“Draco caught him,” Ginny said.
“Did you kill him?” Ron asked anxiously.
“No,” Draco said. “I wanted to though.”
“I know how you feel,” Ron said.
“Somehow I doubt that,” George said seriously. “If you knew how we feel you would understand why we were fighting in the street tonight.”
“You were attacking Harry,” Ron pointed out.
“Exactly,” Fred confirmed. “That was why you were fighting us.”
“We were fighting Harry,” George said.
Ron looked quizzically from one of them to another as their implication began to sink in, and he said, “No. Surely that isn’t possible. Harry would never…”
“Not your Harry,” Draco said. “Our Harry is in Azkaban for killing several people. Hermione was among them. His parents are there with him as well. Evil to the core the lot of them.”
“That was why we were fighting Harry tonight,” Fred said. “We thought he was our Harry.”
“Wait,” Ginny said as a thought occurred to her as she turned to Draco. “You knew before tonight that he wasn’t the Harry Potter we all know?”
“Yes,” Draco admitted.
“Then why were you attacking him?” Ginny asked in an accusatory voice. “It’s plainly obvious that he isn’t dangerous.”
“The minister ordered that he be held in custody,” Draco explained. “He broke out, and shortly after that the coin that brought him here disappeared from the Ministry as well. I took it back from him tonight and returned it to the Ministry.”
Ginny placed her hands on her hips and stared at Draco as if she were waiting for him to realize on his own the truth of the situation. Fred and George noticed the look well before Draco did, and they took a couple of steps backwards. Knowing Ginny’s temper, they weren’t sure if standing too close was a wise thing.
“So you imprisoned a man who hadn’t broken any laws,” Ginny explained. “Then you stole his personal property from him and refused to give it back.”
“I think you’re looking at this all wrong, Ginny,” Draco reasoned.
“Am I?” Ginny asked. “What would you have done in his place? How would you have felt?”
“How I would or wouldn’t feel about it isn’t the point,” Draco attempted to point out.
“Stop talking Draco,” Ginny ordered, holding her hand up between them. “I don’t want to know just how typically male you really are right now.”
Without another word, Ginny swiped the wand Fred was still holding away from him. As she turned away from them she leveled glares are her brothers that they knew better than to question. She walked to the back corner of the shop where Harry was facing away from them and stopped just short of him; unsure of how to open a conversation.
“Even the sound of your footsteps is the same,” Harry said softly as he continued looking away from her. “The sooner we leave the better.”
“I think Ron may not be quite ready yet,” Ginny said as she looked back and saw Ron chatting excitedly with Fred.
“I was afraid of that,” Harry said.
“I wanted to apologize,” Ginny said as she stepped closer. “It was such a shock for me to see you that I…”
“I know how you feel,” Harry said.
“I have your wand,” Ginny said. “I wanted you to have it back.”
Harry turned to face her as he reached out and she placed his wand gently into his hand. Harry closed his hand to grip his wand and momentarily felt the mild pressure Ginny had been using to hold it before she removed her hand completely.
“Thanks,” Harry said without looking her in the eye.
“If I had known the full story earlier I would have let you keep it,” Ginny said.
“I know,” Harry said as a slight grin appeared on his face even though he still refused to look at Ginny. “I know so much about you, but I don’t really know you at all.”
“Somehow, I think I may be able to say the same thing,” Ginny said.
A silence fell between them that grew more awkward with every second that ticked by. Ginny began to wonder if she had inadvertently hurt Harry with her words. It could also be the simple fact of her presence near him that disturbed him. She wondered if it would be better to leave him to his thoughts.
“Is he good to you?” Harry asked suddenly. “Does he make you happy?”
Ginny looked up to see Harry looking at het at last, and she said, “Yes, Harry. We’re very happy together. From what little I know, I would say that our relationship is very similar to your relationship with your Ginny.”
“Then I’m happy for you,” Harry said.
“Thank you,” Ginny said as she tried to gage Harry’s mood. “Ron mentioned that the Draco you know has a son at Hogwarts. I’m guessing that he isn’t in Azkaban.”
“No,” Harry confirmed. “His life doesn’t mirror the life of your Harry that closely. He and his parents were death eaters, but they didn’t fight in the final battle. I don’t think Draco ever actually killed anyone. He works at the Ministry with us in the Department of Magical Games and Sports.”
“It’s amazing how different some things are,” Ginny commented.
“I think it’s amazing that so many things are the same,” Harry said. “None of the Weasleys seem any different in this reality. Then there’s Draco. I used to think I was… unique.”
“You still are,” Ginny commented.
“Unless there is yet another reality out there where the Harry Potter is exactly like me,” Harry explained.
“At least none of them have arrived here yet,” Draco said as he walked nearer to them. “We can only hope that those two coins are the only ones in existence.”
“I have to think the chances of that are slim,” Harry commented. “Given the possibility of an endless array of realities; the existence of another set of coins is infinitely probable.”
“And substantially dangerous,” Draco said. “Suppose there is a reality where Voldemort won the war; what if he finds a coin and comes here?”
Harry looked at Draco, and a grin spread across his face as he said, “You won’t have to fight him alone this time. Use the coin to come and warn me. I’ll fight him with you.”
“Thanks, Harry,” Draco said with a grin of his own. “You know the same goes for me.”
“Let’s hope it never comes to that,” Ginny said. “Neither of you should have to face something like that again. Then again, only the two of you would even think to consider such a possibility.”
Harry looked over to where Ron had been before, and, not seeing him, began to scan the shop. Ron was nowhere to be seen. Draco turned and followed Harry’s gaze.
“If you’re looking for Ron he’s gone in the back with Fred and George,” Draco said.
“That could be dangerous,” Harry said with a grin. “He may never want to leave once he starts looking at the things they likely have back there.”
“I don’t know if anything we say is going to speed it along any,” Draco said. “Knowing Ron the way I do we may just have to let it run its course.”
A few minutes later, Ron emerged with a huge smile on his face followed by Fred and George. Harry had to fight the urge to make Ron turn out his pockets. He was sure he would be leaving with more than he came with.
“All right there, Ron?” Harry asked.
“Fantastic, mate,” Ron replied as he held up what looked like a small hand mirror. “This mirror is used for communicating. It has a mate that it connects to. Fred and George are going to keep one here while I take this one back with us.”
“Will it still work?” Draco asked.
“We don’t see why not,” Fred replied.
“We haven’t found anything in this world that will block their connection,” George said. “We won’t know if it works across realities until we try it.”
“If it works,” Ron said, “I’m going to give it to George.”
Harry looked at Fred and asked, “Are you sure you’re ready for that? You can be assured he’ll want to talk to you every day. I doubt he’ll let that mirror leave his sight.”
“Are you kidding?” Fred asked. “The only thing better than one George is two Georges. Besides, think of how many new ideas we’ll be able to come up with between the three of us.”
“That thought actually scares me a little,” Ginny said, though her face betrayed no sign of real fear.
“Does this mean you’re ready to go now, Ron?” Harry asked.
“Almost,” Ron responded as he reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of intertwined silver rings. “Hermione gave this to me just before Harry and I left for our first assignments after becoming aurors. She told me to keep it as a reminder that no matter what happened we would always find our way back to one another. I want Ron to have it. I know Hermione would feel the same way.”
Ron handed the rings to Ginny, and she took them and said, “I’ll see that he gets them.”
“I’m ready, mate,” Ron said as he pulled the green glowing coin out of his pocket. “We had better get this over with.”
Harry grasped Ron’s upper arm and stuck his other hand under Ron’s hand holding the coin. Harry looked up and gave a nod to Draco, and Draco grinned and nodded back. Ron turned his hand and the coin fell toward Harry’s open palm. They disappeared the instant it made contact with the skin.
Popping back into reality was just as disorienting as Harry remembered, but his mind adjusted quickly as Ginny ran to him and wrapped her arms around him. Hermione was giving Ron much the same treatment. George welcomed them back, but it was several seconds before Ron remembered what he was carrying. Ron looked into the mirror and smiled.
Turning to Harry, Ron asked, “Do you think we should explain this first?”
“Just give it to him,” Harry said with a wide smile. “They’ll explain it.”
Ron handed the mirror to George as he turned it around and saw himself smiling back.
“Hi, George,” George said. “I have someone here who really wants to talk to you.”
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