Chapter 1: The Truth
"Harry Potter, where is Draco Malfoy's body?" the Minister asked with a sneer, believing that he had Potter right where he wanted him. Within a few hours, the criminal young wizard would be in Azkaban and receiving the Dementor's kiss.
A small azure-blue owl swooped into the courtroom and over the Minister's head. It landed on Harry Potter's shoulder.
"It's a Tell-Tale Owl," someone shouted and the courtroom rose in an uproar. Every member of the Wizengamot was on their feet screaming with horror and outrage. Minister Fudge banged his gavel on the podium adding to the hysteria.
"Silencio!" Fudge said in a magically-enhanced voice.
Instantly the room came to a standstill in sound and movement. The Wizengamots' eyes all focused on Harry Potter who was bound in chains to the witness chair. Harry glanced out to the audience until he found a witch with long grey hair. She gave him a warm smile and a short nod. Harry then rubbed his cheek against the owl perched on his shoulder.
"The truth is that Draco Malfoy is alive!" Harry said with a generous smile while he continued rubbing the owl. The members of the Wizengamot gasped, some fainted, and then, like the Cheshire cat, Harry disappeared with only his knowing grin lingering for a moment.
three months prior, July 31, 1997
Chapter 2: A Timely Present
The scent of fried potatoes and bacon gently brought Harry out of his slumber. He awoke with a smile; today was the day he'd looked forward to his whole life; he was now a wizard of legal age. He snuggled in the light-down duvet covering his extra-large bed. Despite it being mid-summer, the mornings in Godric's Hollow tended to be cool. The visible light blue sky with fluffy morning clouds called to him. He longed to be up there and the Quidditch game today promised to be epic. He dared to hope that the Firebolt II broom would be one of his presents. He and his friends, he was sure, would demolish his father and his compatriots. Yes they were more experienced, but Harry had noticed a slight slowness in their reactions now that they were all in their late thirties. Moony would be slow, anyway, given that that the full moon was only two days gone. A soft knock on the bedroom door brought him out of his daydream.
"Harry, wake up, breakfast and presents are waiting."
"Okay, Nanna, I'll be down in ten."
Harry rushed through his morning routine and ran down the stairs with still-wet hair. His mother shook her head when Harry flopped down at the kitchen table. With a wave of her wand, his black hair was dry and stylishly in place. A side wooden table was buried beneath a mound of presents. He didn't care about the number but his eyes searched for the tell-tale package.
"Looking for something in particular?" his godfather asked with a sly grin.
"Leave the boy alone, Sirius," Remus said while pouring coffee for his partner and himself. "He knows that in this household the size of the present doesn't mean anything."
"Exactly," Harry replied. "I was just counting the number."
A swat across the top of his head came from his mother. "Don't you start that now, Harry, or I'll Vanish them all away."
"Mum! Just kidding."
Sirius and Remus looked over at James as he took his place next to Harry. They searched for a clue as to why Lily would suddenly be so stern on Harry's seventeenth birthday. James rolled his eyes. "If he hasn't become like Dudley yet, Lily, it's not likely he will now."
"Oh, speaking of the Dursleys," Harry's grandmother said as she shuffled over to the table with a plate covered in back bacon, "A tiny package arrived this morning from them. I added it to the others."
"Probably another paper-clip," Harry mumbled as a teapot poured the steaming liquid into his cup. Milk and sugar were added. He looked around to see who had done it for him. His grandmother gave him a wink. She glanced around to see what was left to bring over to the table. The door of the cast-iron stove burst open and pans of white bread landed on the counter and soon thick slices slathered in butter joined the rest of the morning selections. Harry loved his grandmother's breakfasts. His parents cooked wonderful meals, but his Nanna Potter's foods were what he missed most when at Hogwarts. From her mother she'd learned to cook the Muggle way, which she insisted on doing when baking. She said this method added love. Harry winked back at her. As her only grandchild, she duly spoiled him and Harry adored every moment of it. He noticed her back was getting more bent as the years progressed. When not gardening in the yard, she could be found in her laboratory leaning over her cauldron brewing up potions and elixirs to be sold throughout the world.
"I'm surprised Draco hasn't made an appearance yet, Harry," Lily said as she reached across James' plate and set a very small present next to Harry's tea and iced bubbleberry juice. The fragile bubbleberry was one his grandmother raised with care. "I assumed he'd be showing up before the rest."
Harry opened the extremely poorly wrapped present, knowing it was from the Dursleys. He could never fathom why his mother insisted on their maintaining a pretence of a family relationship. He knew she had sent Dudley a video camera for his birthday the month before and he knew it had probably been ignored. The previous Christmas he was forced to go to their house on Privet Drive in Surrey. He'd discovered while using his father's Invisibility Cloak that all of the presents his mother had sent over the years had been stashed in the closet under the stairs, unwrapped. The spiders had added their own ribbons. Harry laughed as the wadded up paper revealed a toothpick. He threw it at Sirius. It never reached its destination but exploded in a small burst of flames.
"Arg! I give up, that's it!" Lily said. James put his arm around her and patted her shoulder in feigned sympathy.
"Just give me a day with that family and this nonsense would end," Nanna said and gave a cackle that sent shivers up Harry's spine.
"Well there is something good about them not being part of our world," Sirius said. "I remember my parents sending me a disguised dungbomb for Christmas the year I ran away."
Nanna cackled almost uncontrollably. "At least —at least Walburga and Orion were inventive. I mean a toothpick is just —just so mundane."
"And look what the Lucius and Narcissa sent Draco two years ago for Christmas when he ran away," Remus added.
Harry covered his mouth trying to restrain a chuckle. The gift of new robes in sparkling red with flashing gold trim had made them all laugh. Draco was and is as Slytherin as any other Snake. He had returned home by the New Year. "He should be here soon. My guess is that he's still torn about what to give me, as if I wouldn't like anything the berk gave me."
"Well, if it's a ring, I'll hex his arse back to the Manor," James said in a tone that Harry noted held more than a hint of warning. "You're too young to get that serious and there's no pressing situation for you to make that type of commitment."
"Yeah, not like you're going to get pregnant," Lily said flashing her green eyes at James.
"No, Lily, I meant more that there isn't the urgency we all felt during the war," James responded. He leant over and kissed Lily on the cheek. "And you know I have no regrets—it's just…."
"Let's not talk about such times on this day of all days," Nanna said as she poured a shot of something from a vial into her tea. Harry knew better than to ask what it was. The answer would involve a herbology or potion's lesson. He also knew better than to disobey his grandmother's request about discussing the war, despite loving to hear the stories of that time with Voldemort and how at the last minute Dumbledore, who no one knew was outside the house wearing his father's Invisibility Cloak, had killed the evil wizard. Harry had once heard a rumour that Voldemort had come to the house to kill him but he'd never heard the reason why. He was determined to ask Dumbledore about it this final year.
Harry barely listened to the remaining breakfast chatter; his eyes were focused on the gifts. Without warning, another one appeared. It was large and wrapped in green. He smiled as the crack in the air brought his boyfriend to his side. Sirius moved his chair closer to Remus and conjured another for Draco to sit down.
"Will you be joining us for breakfast, Draco?" Lily asked while directing a steaming mug of coffee to land before him.
"No, thank you. Mother wouldn't let me out of the house until I had breakfast with her. She's a bit lonely since Father is on Ministry business abroad."
Harry refrained from sighing. Draco continually tried to impress the Potter family. Harry and everyone else at the table knew that Lucius had bribed his way to join the group negotiating with China and India over rare herbs and spices.
"I do hope he remembers to pick up the Jatmansi for me," Nanna said. Lily covered her mouth, stifling a giggle.
Draco's head shot up and turned to Harry's grandmother. "You asked Father to go shopping for you?" Harry kicked Draco's shin under the table. Draco turned and snarled at Harry.
"Well I can't solve his erectile dysfunction problem without it," Nanna said before sipping down the rest of her tea. Harry saw the mischievous glint in her still bright brown eyes peeking over the teacup rim. He gave her another wink.
"Maybe I will have some bread and jam," Draco said, looking like he knew he'd lost the battle with the old witch and that he'd better stay on her good side.
Harry was floating up the Quidditch Pitch on his new Firebolt II. The Pitch was magically concealed on the outskirts of the small town. He couldn't remember feeling this happy before in his life. His best friends were all laughing but still playing seriously enough to win the game. His father and mother and their friends seemed to be holding their own in keeping up. But, they all knew that catching the Snitch would be the determinant of the game. His grandmother and Augusta Longbottom looked like ants in the garden of the house arranging food on long tables. Harry's stomach grumbled, but his attention soon switched to the fluttering he heard by his ear. He reached up and grabbed it. To his horror it felt warm and soft instead of round and hard. Fluttering blue wings and pecking almost startled him off his new broom.
"Harry, get down now!" his mother said, grabbing the end of his broomstick. He looked over at her, she looked like a ghost. Something told deep in his core told him that his life had just changed, and not for the better. He raced down to the garden and as his feet touched the lush grass a crack of the air brought forth his Headmaster. His fear was confirmed.
"May I see the bird?" Dumbledore said while leading Harry to inside of the house away from the crowd landing on the lawn. Harry hadn't realised that he was shielding a small bird from everyone in his hands. Once inside the kitchen, Harry lifted his top hand revealing a young baby owl deep blue in colour. His instinct was to stroke the feathers, as the bird nested in his left palm. Dumbledore reached out and grabbed his right hand. "Don't, don't stroke it until you are sure. The bird is a fledgling, which means you will have time to choose."
"Sure of what, sir? What's so special about this owl?"
Dumbledore's eyes narrowed as he examined the bird from side to side. Gently, he nudged it to rise up. A quick smile crossed his face and with his wand he removed a piece of paper beneath the bird. He unfolded it and a green owl feather floated away from it. Dumbledore reached out and caught it.
Happy Birthday, Harry!
I found the Tell-tale Owl and couldn't resist in making things right from the start. I wanted my parents to be alive and I knew you deserved the same.
"My godson?" Harry said, flabbergasted. "I don't have a godson. Who is Teddy?"
Lily, who Harry noticed was standing at the back door with a listening device, rushed into the house with a conjured wooden birdcage and coaxed the owl in before Harry or Dumbledore could argue with her.
Lily set the cage on the round kitchen table cleared of dishes but with a remaining vase of purple posies. The owl began hooting despairingly. A cover soon appeared over the cage and silence once again filled the room.
"She can't tell you, Harry, but I can."
Lily stomped her foot and glared at Dumbledore. Harry was afraid she was going to draw her wand.
"The boy has to know, Lily."
Harry's mother crossed her arms and continued with her stare but obviously had acquiesced to Dumbledore's statement.
"Well then, I shall be brief in case she changes her mind. The owl is a harbinger letting you know that this time, this life, can be altered."
Harry shook his head. "You mean there are alternate timelines?" Harry asked and glanced over at his mother. Her green eyes were as wide as he'd ever seen.
Dumbledore didn't respond immediately. His focus remained steadfast on the note he held in his hand. With his wand he nudged what appeared to be a hair but its colour was not normal. "Whose is it?" Lily asked as she too began to scrutinize the strand.
"I think I know, but should we find out for sure?" Dumbledore asked. His eyes twinkled as they peered over his half-moon glasses. Harry knew there was no doubt they would find out soon. His mother's eyes were now sparkling more than his Headmaster's. Curiosity was feeding them both. It had always been their downfall.
Before either of them had a second thought, Lily added her wand tip to Dumbledore's and touched the hair. She whispered a charm. Names in golden script slowly appeared one letter at a time. A rare gasp escaped from Dumbledore and a tear dropped from Lily's eyes. Harry couldn't resist the temptation to look. One named appeared at the top and two below, he knew immediately those below were the parents of this wizard named Teddy who claimed to be his godson. He couldn't imagine how those two got together. Bill Weasley and Tonks seemed like the perfect couple and nothing would break up Moony and Padfoot.
"Then Sirius would be dead," Lily said factually. "And probably Bill Weasley, too."
"Lily, the boy said his parents were both dead and that you and James were also."
"Merlin, what could have happened?" Lily whispered.
"It's obvious what happened. Voldemort won."
They all turned to the voice of Nanna, not having heard her come into the kitchen. With a gnarled finger she lifted an edge of the birdcage cover. "And I see that this isn't the bird's first visit and that it's going to give Harry one chance to go to the timeline it came from."
Harry's heart froze. Up until this moment, he realised, he hadn't comprehended the severity of the situation. His parents gone…Remus and Sirius gone…who would want live a life without them? "How can you tell?" Harry asked, despite his fear of the answer.
"The colour," Nanna responded. Lily cleared her throat loudly. Nanna rolled her eyes at Harry's mother. "I can speak, Lily. I didn't take a vow to the Ministry not to reveal what I learned. And Harry needs to know."
"Nanna, no!" Lily said.
Dumbledore raised his other hand and rested it on Lily's shoulder. "She's right, Lily. Harry needs to know. The owl came to him. It will be his choice what to do."
Lily sighed with resignation. The kitchen door burst open and large black dog entered followed by James, Remus and Draco. James gave Lily a questioning look. Her lips thinned and her eyes lowered. She gave a nod to Dumbledore.
"It's called a Tell-Tale Owl. They are extremely rare and when one is made it is a patchwork of colour. The first time it is used to alter a timeline it turns loses a colour; blue is the last. Like sunlight reflecting in the deep ocean all colours drain away but blue. If it is used again, the final bits of magic fade away and it will come back as white, but will not be able to alter time."
"So do we know who used it previously?" Remus asked as he stepped closer to Dumbledore and Lily to see what was in the Headmaster's hand, Dumbledore's hand clenched into a tight fist.
"Usually no," Nanna said, "but I'm guessing Albus here has seen this little fowl before, right, Albus?"
"Prudence!" Dumbledore snapped.
The whole group jumped at his voice and the dog barked.
"That night…Halloween…" James whispered.
Dumbledore glanced at Harry directly and Harry could tell instantly that his father had analysed the situation correctly. Draco's hand slid into his and gave it a squeeze. "Tell us what happened?" Harry said. "Who sent you the owl?"
The whole group startled when a crowd of unruly teenagers came in the door yelling for cake and more presents.
Dumbledore put his hand on Harry's shoulder and stared at him with an intensity that Harry had never witnessed before. "I will tell you, and only you, tonight." Harry wasn't surprised when the air cracked and Dumbledore disappeared along with the birdcage on the table. Another squeeze to his hand forced him to turn his attention to his friends gathering around him, Ron holding the Snitch.
"Not sure that counts as a win, Weasley," James said with a big smile.
"Not our fault you all got tired and left the Pitch," Ron said. "What's all the serious faces for? Can't be all that bad that Harry caught an owl can it?"
"No, not bad at all, Ronald. Now let's all go back to the garden and have cake. I do believe it should have arrived by now," Nanna said.
Harry's eyes widened. Despite the seriousness of the moments before, his mouth watered with the knowledge that Fortescue's ice cream cake awaited him. Draco ruffled his hair as Harry headed out the door.
Chapter 3: The Birdcage
Harry took a deep breath, inhaling the honeysuckle from his grandmother's garden and remnants of fireworks smoke. Fred and George had put on a splendid show, saving the golden and red lion for last. Harry had cheered as the magical beast padded across the starry sky. Padfoot had barked with approval. The big dog stayed near his side as Harry had left the circle and wandered to the front of the house. Draco had let him go without following, knowing that Harry would eventually find Dumbledore and had to talk to him alone. Without a strong reason he walked to the street heading towards the church. He wanted to say a few words to his grandfather, who had died the year before. Harry loved the old church and graveyard. He briefly glanced at Bathilda Bagshot's home as he passed by. He'd hoped she would have felt better and joined them for cake. He adored the old witch and all of her stories she had shared with him over the years. He'd stop by tomorrow and bring her some cake.
Harry spotted Dumbledore laying dragon snaps near the gravestone his mother and sister shared. Harry knew the story from Bathilda but he'd never questioned his Headmaster about his sister's death. A thought of why Dumbledore hadn't thought of sending the owl further back to the day Ariana died.
"Harry," Dumbledore said softly as Harry approached him. He looked up with a sad smile. "Harry, my boy, if she lived, so many more would have died by not only Gellert's hand but my own."
Harry shook his head. "No, sir, I don't believe that."
Dumbledore stared over the edge of his glasses and nodded once. "It's true, Harry. Ariana's death was a turning point for me in my life. Her death gave me my soul."
Harry took a deep breath, knowing that disagreeing with his Headmaster was futile.
"Did you pass your Apparation test today?" Dumbledore asked, changing the subject abruptly.
"No, sir, I'm taking it tomorrow," Harry replied.
Dumbledore nodded and then put his arm around Harry's shoulder. Harry felt the familiar pull that he's experienced with his parents so many times before, but, this time, he didn't know where his destination was.
Harry opened his eyes and a sense of vertigo overcame him. He was sure he was standing on a cloud and that one wrong move and he'd fall thousands of feet to the earth. He closed his eyes until the feeling had subsided and Dumbledore encouraged him to look again. The floor beneath his feet seemed more solid and he was surrounded by golden bars. He did a complete turn, only blue sky was around outside of the bars.
"It's a cage," Harry said.
"Yes, I suppose it is," Dumbledore responded. They both stepped back as a door not seen before opened and a familiar owl swooped in. It landed on Harry's shoulder and nibbled on his ear.
"I think she would like a treat," Dumbledore said while straightening up. He opened his hand and a few owl treats appeared. Harry took a couple pieces and offered it to the bird. She gladly took them and then rubbed his cheek only once with her downy one.
"She needs a name so she'll come to you in the future…that is if you choose to call her," Dumbledore said and offered another treat. She bit his finger causing it to bleed. "Ah, yes, she's truly yours now."
"Is this where she'll live?"
Dumbledore smiled. "We don't really know what they do while waiting to be called. This, though, is the aviary for the Tell-Tale Owl. It is here, Harry, where sometimes a message can be sent between the two worlds and sometimes you can be blessed with a vision of the possible other world."
"Really?" Harry asked. "Is that how you knew to be at the house that night?"
"Yes," Dumbledore answered forthright. "But there is more that you need to know. But it's imperative that you be careful in who you share this information."
"Nanna will try and get it out of me," Harry said with a chuckle.
Dumbledore didn't smile at Harry's comment. "No she won't. She knows better but I'm more worried about you telling a friend."
"You mean Draco?"
"Yes, I am worried that you might tell Draco. I know you trust him, Harry, but it is Lucius that is more of an issue. I believe he would use any information to his advantage."
Harry chuckled. "But you're still going to tell me."
"Yes, I am now as the owl has chosen you and, Harry, I know I can trust you. You're a much better man than me."
Harry's chuckle turned into an outright laugh. "Headmaster, given how many times I've been in your office how can you say that?"
The corners of Dumbledore's mouth turned up. He stroked his long beard for a moment before answering. "Harry, you will soon find out that you'll be Head Boy. It is not me that awards that honour but all of the professors. Your tricks have never been directed at one student or one House but in fun for all. You have a generous and loving heart. I remember early on your first year at Hogwarts that your family, Head of House, and I worried about your initial association with the young Malfoy boy. And then when it turned into something more in your fifth year, we saw the folly of our concerns. You've had more influence over Hogwarts unity than any other student I've been blessed to see come through the school's doors."
Harry stared between the golden bars. The blue sky appeared infinite. He didn't know how to respond to what Dumbledore had just revealed about bringing House unity. It seemed an odd thing to say but then saying something odd was not unusual for him. Harry was thrilled that he was going to be Head Boy. Draco would be jealous but would try and hide it. Harry hoped that he would at least be a Prefect this year, but that was up to the Slytherin Head of House. Snape, Harry was sure, would never forgive Draco for being with Harry. James said Snape was just jealous that Draco got his Gryffindor. Lily always rolled her eyes at that comment. Harry wondered what he and Draco would be like in that other world…if Voldemort had somehow won.
"If you have a question, just ask and it may be revealed. But you must be prepared for the worst."
"Can I ask more than one question?" Harry asked. While he wanted to know about him and Draco, he was wary of using his question right now.
"I have asked many questions, Harry, but only a few have been answered."
"Did you ever regret asking?"
Dumbledore coughed and then cleared his throat. From his robe pocket he pulled out a lemon drop and put it in his mouth. Harry had learned over the years that Dumbledore used hard candy much like his father used his pipe, to calm his nerves and give him a moment to think.
"No. No, I don't regret asking. I still believe that we have free choice, but, I also believe that certain core things remain constant. Things like love and honour."
Harry almost laughed aloud. Dumbledore was always talking about the power of love, which Harry didn't mind but, right now the curiosity to know if he and Draco were together became overwhelming. He knew there were bigger questions to ask, much bigger, but the question spilled from his lips. He heard Dumbledore clear his throat again and then saw him step back from the centre of the cage. Harry followed suit. The little owl woke from the branch and hooted loudly. To Harry's amazement the floor of the cage began to swirl. It appeared to be like a Pensieve but he didn't feel the pull drawing him in, instead he watched from above. A scene appeared. One he knew well. It was obviously September first. The Hogwarts train was bellowing smoke as it waited for its passengers, students with their pets, to board. Steam from the train filled Harry's view and made the scene hazy. He squinted and tried looking for himself and for Draco. Then as if someone had took a cloth and wiped a dirty window clean he saw someone; a tall boy with blue hair. He was laughing with an older girl who looked to be still a student and then they disappeared around a corner. Harry knew that must be Teddy; the one who sent him the Tell-Tale Owl. He wondered what the scene had to do with Draco when he heard Ron's voice and then saw Hermione Granger and two kids in tow; obviously they were married and had two children. He couldn't imagine it. They'd fought since their first year. And then he saw a something that he knew would haunt him forever. His stomach dropped. He was with Ginny Weasley. They were married too, but, then he felt an overwhelming joy. "I have children. I have children. Albus Severus," Harry said somehow knowing the boy's name and his siblings: James Sirius and Lily Luna. And then he caught something in his peripheral vision. His focus switched to across the crowded platform. He saw the familiar swath of blond hair. Draco looked stunning, but then he saw a younger boy. "Scorpius," Harry whispered. The scene went blank.
"You can't un-ring the bell," Dumbledore said. "But do not let that one peek into that world let you think you know all. I have to admit I never knew what happened for sure in that world until now."
"What?" Harry asked. His thoughts were still on him and Draco having wives and children. He shook his head trying to clear the fog of timeline thoughts. "Why wouldn't you have known?"
"Why do you think, Harry? Think about what you know about and what you learned to about through this owl just now. What did you know to be true in that world?"
Harry thought deeply, trying to connect the pieces of information. What he knew in his world was that Dumbledore had come to his home on Halloween in 1981 and duelled with Voldemort, killing him. Peter had betrayed his parents and somehow he was killed while in his Animagus form. Harry had always suspected it was Padfoot, but then sometimes he caught a look in his mother's eyes if Peter's name was brought up. The one thing he never doubted was the extent his mother would go to protect her family. But he did know in this other world both his parents died, Sirius and Mooney and even Tonks died, but that he lived. Then he repeated the name of his child. The child that looked so much like him. "Albus Severus," Harry whispered. "You died, too," Harry added not wanting to believe it was true. He couldn't imagine his own life without his parents, but he truly couldn't imagine Hogwarts without Dumbledore. He would spend time later contemplating how and why he would ever name is son after Professor Snape. While for some reason his mother was good friends with him, his father and friends did not like him.
"Yes, I believe that is true. But you need to know that is not why the owl was used. The owl was sent to me because of you. I never used it, but I did come here to help me with this timeline. I didn't want you to suffer like you did in the other."
Harry's eyes widened. He knew the Headmaster favoured him in some ways, ways in which most students weren't aware of given how often Harry was in trouble and seen polishing awards won by his father, but, to play with timelines? "Because of me? But I looked fine—at least physically. I mean Draco will kill me for marrying Ginny Weasley, but it looks like he married the younger Greengrass witch, which is just bizarre given that Draco has been out about his sexuality before most kids even know about sex. And…"
Dumbledore raised his hand, silencing Harry in midstream of his verbal tirade.
"What I'm going to tell you Harry is something I should've told you before, but I couldn't. You and your parents are so happy, the way it should be. I didn't want to hurt you and your perfect family."
"Sir, I'm of age now. I think I can handle hearing what you have to tell me," Harry said and then winced at the sky. It was darkening.
"We should go Harry. To someplace comfortable as the story is long, but, first you must name your owl."
Harry looked up at the majestic blue owl. Her bright orange eyes stared at him; she cocked her head to side, making him smile. She looked so innocent, but he knew she was here because of battles gone wrong. "Hedwig," Harry said; he heard Dumbledore chuckle in approval.
The room was unfamiliar to Harry. Despite their family's closeness, he'd never been to the Headmaster's home and he noticed that he'd probably not see much of it beyond it today. Three doors on differing walls closed quickly without a squeak. The room was obviously set up for discussing great matters of the world both magical and Muggle. Maps and globes of the Earth and star constellation dotted the walls and shelves along with books many looking to be more ancient than Harry knew Hogwarts to be. Dumbledore motioned to two overstuffed chairs placed strategically facing a large rock fireplace with a table between the two. A game of wizard's chess lay on top and it looked to be in play. He wondered briefly who Dumbledore played chess with. Over the mantle was a portrait Harry was sure must be Ariana, Dumbledore's sister. Her stare was a bit to vacant for his liking. He also saw a book, Beatle the Bard, and it made him smile remembering how his mother read the tales to him at bedtime when he was young.
Harry sat down. A glass of iced bubbleberry tea appeared next to him. Harry watched Dumbledore walk around the room's library inspecting spines of books. Finally, he pulled one out. Even though it was thinner than most; it seemed to take great force to remove it from the shelf. Dumbledore then sat down across from Harry and raised a fire in the fireplace. Despite it being mid-summer, Harry welcomed the flames.
"Harry, the note you received from your godson changed nothing in this timeline except alerting you to the existence of another timeline and giving you the owl. That was the present, Harry, the owl. He sent the owl to me with another message, years before. I didn't know he sent a second message until today. By giving you the owl, he's giving you the option to fix any mistake his original machinations might have made. The boy, my guess, is an Unspeakable and is very clever."
"Have there been any mistakes?" Harry asked, trying desperately to keep up with what Dumbledore was telling him. How many owls were there? If there was only this one then how could multiple messages be sent? How could it be young and then old? He felt a headache coming upon him.
Dumbledore smiled. "I don't think so, yet, but, now that we know that you survived in this other time, and that Voldemort did not, then we might get evidence that this is not the real timeline."
"But Voldemort is dead here. You killed him."
The book Dumbledore was holding was brought forward. Its cover was black crinkled leather. Something about it repulsed Harry. He didn't want to touch it. He shook his head as Dumbledore pushed it towards him. "You must know, Harry. I've protected you as best I could, but, now, now you must know."
Harry reluctantly held out his left hand. The book was too light. It felt like he was holding a handful of feathers. On the cover was one word engraved in the leather, it was barely readable. Horcrux. The fingers on his right hand hesitantly turned the cover to the first page. There was a simple drawn picture of a circle and below it two half circles. Harry had no idea what it meant; he turned the brittle yellow page. His heart stopped for a moment as he read the spell, read the procedure, read the consequences. It was all there on one page. He turned to the next page and the next, all they held was pictures of vessels that the wizard author deemed as worthy to contain a Horcrux. The vessel had to have significance.
"Voldemort did this?" Harry asked, but, deep inside he knew the answer.
"Yes, Harry, Voldemort did this, and, I must tell you that it's even worse than you think because he created more than one."
Harry's eyes shot a glance to Dumbledore. "Why must you tell me? Have you told my parents? Sirius and Remus?"
Dumbledore nodded. Harry felt relief that this knowledge wasn't his alone.
"Have you told the Order? The Ministry? Anyone?"
"No, Harry, I haven't. I will leave that up to you, who else to share this with. I just ask that you never let Lucius Malfoy know. He and his wife's sister, Bellatrix, were very close to Voldemort. Lucius might have a vested interest for attaining more power in the wizarding world, while Bella would do it for love. Voldemort was her god."
Harry wasn't sure Dumbledore was right about Draco's father, but he could see that he might be right about Bellatrix Lestrange. Harry detested her and Draco did his best to keep them apart when on rare occasions Harry visited the Manor.
"How many, Headmaster?" Harry asked while setting the book down on the chessboard. He'd seen enough. He brushed his fingers on his trousers before he picked up the bubbleberry tea and sipped it. The flavour brought him comfort. He guessed his grandmother had shared her precious harvest with the Headmaster.
Dumbledore cleared his throat. Harry felt the heaviness of the moment. Discussing how many parts of Voldemort's soul remained was worse than most nightmares he ever had. "In the other timeline there were seven. In this world, I believe there are five but I cannot be sure, there may be more or even less."
Harry's eyes widened. "Seven? I think I prefer this timeline."
"Normally I would agree, Harry, but remember what you saw."
Harry looked into the fire, remembering the images revealed once the train steam disappeared. He was alive and he had a family. "I lived," he whispered.
"Yes, Harry, you lived, and that is crucial."
"Why? Why is it crucial that I live?"
"Because if you live then Voldemort is truly truly dead. What I'm about to tell you Harry not even your parents know."
"Why are you only telling me? Why not them?"
Dumbledore raised his hand and removed his spectacles. With his other hand he rubbed his eyes. For the second time that day Harry noticed how old Dumbledore appeared.
"Harry, there is a prophecy, which I will share with you in its entirety, but for the moment you only need to know that only one of you can truly live at the same time. In this other time he marked you as his equal, in this world he hasn't. I stopped him that night, but that doesn't mean he won't go after you again if given the chance. If a there is another Horcrux out there, which if he somehow activates and comes back, he'll be an even darker wizard than before."
Harry shivered. He wanted to hear the whole prophecy. He'd read about them in Divination the one year he took the course but never really believed in them. For the Headmaster to put credence in one then there must be something to them after all. But, right now, what seemed more important than the prophecy was learning about the Horcruxes.
"Sir, you said there were five you knew of, what were they and were you able to destroy them?"
Dumbledore smiled. "How very like you, Harry, to worry about the Horcruxes instead of your own well being. Very well, we shall discuss the Horcruxes first. I said I believed there were five, but that is conjecture based upon a scene from the other timeline. I do know of four. Your parents and friends and I have retrieved them and disposed of them. There are great and fabulous stories behind each of them, which I will leave that honour for your parents to tell" Dumbledore said with a grin. Harry could imagine the Marauders and his mother having incredible adventures in taking care of such evil tokens.
"What were the four?" Harry asked. Even after only having a moment to glance through the Horcrux book he knew that the objects would be ones of importance.
"Ah, well, the first was a locket belonging to Salazar Slytherin."
"How did he get that?" Harry asked flabbergasted.
Dumbledore shook his head. "An even longer story. But as you know from your parents and Prudence that Voldemort's real name is Tom Riddle and he's a direct descendent of Salazar Slytherin. The locket belonged to his mother. There was also a ring, which was the second Horcrux and it belonged to his grandfather. Both of these family members Tom didn't know as he was raised in an orphanage as his mother died soon after giving birth. Tom later met up with his grandfather and murdered him."
Harry shivered again. Dumbledore raised the flames of the fire with a swish of his hand.
"The third receptacle was a cup belonging to Helga Hufflepuff. It was in Bellatrix Lestrange's vault."
"How?" Harry asked but Dumbledore raised his hand silencing his inquiry.
"The fourth was a diadem belonging to Ravena Ravenclaw. It was the easiest to find as it was at Hogwarts. Sirius charmed Ravena's daughter, the Grey Ghost, into telling him where it was."
Harry recognised the pattern; the guess of the fifth was because there must be an item belonging to Godric Gryffindor.
"No," Dumbledore said, "I don't believe he had an item belonging to Godric. The only known Gryffindor relic is a sword, which I doubt Tom would even be able to touch it. The fifth I suspect, Harry, is because I saw something quite terrible in the aviary. It was so horrible I had to look away for fear of dying."
Harry took a long sip of tea, only partially bothered that the Headmaster knew exactly what he had been thinking. However, he was more anxious to discover what Dumbledore saw it and how it related to a fifth Horcrux.
"I saw a monster, Harry, in a chamber only rumoured about. I saw you, my boy, a very young you, fighting it with Godric's sword. It was a brief vision. It was only later that I learned you must have survived."
The whole idea of him fighting off a monster of some sort with a historical sword made him almost giggle. While he was innately talented in Defence against the Dark Arts, he wasn't brave, at least not like his parents or the other members of the Order of the Phoenix. He'd heard stories about them and what they did during the war. He and Neville often joked how lucky they were that they didn't have to prove themselves to be warriors like their parents. However, this was all beside the point, what did Dumbledore's vision have to do with a Horcrux?
"Headmaster, did you see the Horcrux or what it was contained in? How does this scene relate to the Horcrux?"
Dumbledore sighed. "No. I didn't see anything that stuck out to me as being a vessel for a Horcrux. I asked the question if there were any other Horcruxes common between our worlds. You see, I knew there were two others in the other world that weren't in ours. It had seven soul pieces, which made it stable. Well as stable as a split soul could be. I believe that this particular Horcrux in the vision was the first one destroyed and then another was made a few years later making seven again."
"You didn't send a note to yourself saying what the Horcruxes were?" Harry asked. He felt embarrassed asking the obvious.
"Yes, and no. You see it's not that easy. The Tell-Tale Owl I received from your Teddy just gave me a note telling me that Peter had betrayed your parents and that Voldemort would be there on Halloween. It was much later that I discovered the aviary and asked the question about Voldemort in this other possible timeline."
Dumbledore laughed. "Yes, Harry, possible. Only one timeline can truly exist. What we just saw was what likely would have happened if I hadn't intervened. Now sit back and let me tell you what I was privileged enough to see over the years.
Chapter 4: Moments of Love
Harry Apparated straight into his bedroom. It was late but he knew his parents would still be up waiting. He couldn't face talking with them right now. How could he look at them, knowing that in some other life, they wouldn't be with him? No one would be with him. Well that wasn't true. He would have two best friends. Ron made sense, but, Hermione Granger was another story. He had always admired her but her bossiness was something that stopped him from getting too close. He stumbled over to the bed and removed his clothes, dropping them to the floor. He slipped between the sheets and was pleasantly surprised to find that Draco had snuck into his room.
"Hey," Draco said lazily. His hand reached around and grabbed Harry's bringing it to his chest. Harry curled his body around Draco's.
"Hey," Harry responded.
"Want to talk?" Draco asked.
"No, not now. Just want to enjoy what is left of my birthday. Is that okay?"
Draco turned over. Even in the dark, Harry could see the understanding in Draco's eyes.
"Potter you're an arse, it's more than fine," Draco said and placed Harry's hand on his head. He slid under the covers and took Harry's hardened cock into his mouth.
"So good," Harry said repeatedly as his fingers grasped the blond strands fiercely. Draco's touch and expertise with his tongue and mouth erased all thoughts of a Prophecy, Horcruxes, and a life without family and love.
As he drifted off to sleep with Draco's head resting on his shoulder, a question came to his mind.
"Hmmm?" Draco mumbled from a half conscious state.
"If you had a son what would you name him?"
The early summer sunrise woke him up. Pink clouds with tinges of purple filled the eastern sky. Harry sighed, cursing himself for not closing the bed drapes before he went to sleep. He reached for his wand on the bedside table and worked the magic, but it was too late. He was awake and his mind was already filling with thoughts of Horcruxes and the Prophecy. To his dismay he noticed that Draco had left. He'd probably hoped to sneak into the Manor before his parents detected that he was missing from his bedroom.
A soft knock preceded the door opening a crack. "Harry," his mother whispered as she peeked in. "Are you awake?"
"Just barely," Harry responded as he reached for his glasses on the bedside table. His mother entered the room shutting the door behind her but not before a very large grey tabby cat snuck in. It promptly raced across the room and jumped up on Harry's bed and began purring as it stepped up on his chest looking for morning pets. Harry obliged.
"Are you hungry?" Lily asked as she sat down on the bed next to Harry and his cat.
Harry shook his head. "Not yet," he said and turned on his side. The cat made a few circled on the bedding and then curled up next to him. "Good Merlin," Harry whispered.
"Do you want to talk about last night? I'm assuming Albus told you about what your father and I, along with Sirius and Remus, have been up to these past years."
"I think you want to," Harry said with a grin. "Can you talk about it? I mean is this something the Ministry.…"
Lily shook her head and put her hand on Harry's shoulder, giving it a quick squeeze. "I can talk," she said. "This has nothing to do with my work, though, I do admit trying to research it from there, but, had no success."
"Do you think there's a fifth Horcrux?" Harry asked as he continued to softly pet the cat and play with its ears.
"Yes, but I don't have a clue what it would be contained in," Lily said sounding apologetic.
"It's okay, mum, we'll figure it out. But just be glad for now that Voldemort's dead and that we're all here." Lily nodded.
"I know, but I can't help but worry that someone might open that chamber again."
Harry frowned and he stopped petting the cat. "It's been open before? Does anyone know how to get there?"
"We believe that Tom Riddle opened the chamber when he was at school. Remember I told you about Moaning Myrtle in the girl's bathroom? Well she died during that time period. Hagrid was blamed for it, which we know he didn't do it, but he doesn't have any more information than we have. It's not called the Chamber of Secrets for nothing," Lily added with a wry grin.
"And Professor Snape doesn't know?" Harry asked teasingly. He enjoyed bugging his mother over her friendship with her childhood friend. Snape seemed to detest Harry and was extra harsh on him in class but not in his grades. Harry always assumed the only reason he didn't have a Troll was because Snape was afraid of losing Lily as a friend. Harry had heard a rumour that they'd a falling out when they were in school and then again when Lily married James.
Now it was Draco who bore the brunt of Snape's disdain. I happened when he and Harry had come out as a couple in their fifth year. Harry smiled internally remembering that moment when their friendship turned into something more. They'd taken a ride on their brooms from the Manor's gardens to a hidden lake where they'd lain on the shore staring up at big puffy clouds. Somehow their hands had touched and they had intertwined their fingers. They had stayed that way for hours talking of nothing. The long moment ended with a simple kiss, which had set the course for the rest of their lives. There was no question for either that they would always be together.
"No, Severus doesn't know how to open it," Lily said, bringing Harry out of his wondering thoughts.
"So you did ask him then?" Harry asked which got him an affectionate swat across the head. "Hey, wait, you said open it. Does that mean he knows where it is?"
"I didn't ask him outright; we just somehow managed to get into a conversation about why Hagrid wasn't allowed to use magic. And this is between you and me, son. Severus has been trying to find the Chamber of Secrets. Just last week he sent a note and he thinks he might have found it but needs help trying to open it."
Harry shook his head at his mother's curiosity. She was definitely in the right profession but he feared one day she'd go too far while investigating some artefact or place. "You're going to tell Dad aren't you?"
Lily narrowed her eyes. "I don't know, Harry, what I'm going to do, yet. Severus wouldn't allow James to come with us. I'm hoping to talk Severus into telling Albus."
Harry sighed and petted the cat too roughly. Merlin raised its paw and batted Harry's hand while hissing. Harry glared at Merlin until he stood up and hopped off the bed. Harry reached for his mother's hand and held on to it tightly. "Mum, please don't go alone."
Lily squeezed Harry's hand. "And do I need to make the same request of you?"
Harry rolled his eyes. It was highly unlikely he would find a fifth Horcrux before his parents. "No, mum, you don't."
"Good," she said and leant down and kissed him on the forehead. They both then glanced over the side of the bed as Merlin was playing with what sounded to be a piece of parchment. Lily bent down and picked up a scroll tied with a silver ribbon. "I assume your beau left this for you this morning," she said with a knowing smile.
Harry feigned a frown and swiped it from her hand. The ribbon smelled like fresh linen. The house elves at the Manor laundered like no others. Harry loved the scent. It reminded him of the clean crisp sheets on Draco's bed.
Chapter 5: Some Things Were Meant to Be
"I can't believe Snape made Vincent Crabbe Prefect of all people. I seriously doubt he got more than one Owl," Draco mumbled under his breath as he and Harry stood in the corridor of the Hogwart's Express making their way to a cabin not filled with younger, overly-excited students. The new crop of this year's Prefects were directing people to cars, pretending to be helpful. Harry winked at Ron, who towered above the crowd. Ron rolled his eyes. Harry laughed as he saw his friend directing some first-years to a car reserved for staff and professors. Harry then grabbed Draco's robe and pulled him into a small, empty cabin and then quickly locked the doors and pulled the blinds.
"What is it? What's wrong?" Draco asked but he didn't have to wait long for an answer. Harry pushed him down on the bench seat and fell practically on top of him. It was the first time they'd seen each other for over three weeks. Draco's parents insisted Draco go on Holiday with them through the European forests, the last message Draco had sent came from Albania two weeks prior. Draco's book bag opened up spilling its contents. Draco swore and tried to retrieve it but Harry was quicker and covered Draco's face with kisses. Draco huffed and pushed Harry off of him; Harry fell to the floor.
"Potter, get a hold of yourself!" Draco said as he attempted to put the contents back into his bag. Harry looked up at him with confusion. He handed Draco a small book along with various quills and ink pots.
"Draco, is there something wrong? I mean we haven't seen each other for weeks."
Draco rolled his eyes. "Really, Potter, we're seventh years. I think it's time we move on. Grow up."
"Move on?" Harry asked. His stomach dropped and he felt nauseous. His world was turning upside down. "What happened? Three weeks ago you left me a love letter."
Draco laughed; it was too high pitched and made Harry's skin crawl. "What happened? Maybe I came to my senses, Potter. Maybe I realised that I have a lot of life to experience and I don't need to be weighed down by some four-eyed git."
"Git?" Harry asked wanting to continue the conversation but was interrupted by a knock on the door.
"Alohomora" Draco said and to Harry's surprise Hermione Granger stepped in wearing her Ravenclaw robes decorated with her Head Girl insignia.
"Harry, Professor Sinastra is on board and would like to speak to us," she said nervously while twirling a curl of her hair.
"Okay, I'll be right there," Harry said. Hermione continued to stand by the door.
"You delivered your message," Draco said with a sneer.
Harry glared Draco, not approving of his tone.
"She's—she's in the teacher's car," Hermione stammered and quickly turned and left.
"Shit, Draco, you didn't have to be such an arse to her. I'm going to be working with her all year."
Draco snickered. "You'll be fine, Potter, your family is known for playing nice with the Mudbloods." Without thinking of the repercussions, Harry drew his wand and pointed it at Draco. Draco laughed at him. "What spell are you going to use? Incarcerous? Maybe even an Unforgivable?"
Harry lowered his wand and staggered up to his feet. Something was wrong with Draco. He was acting like a shit, just like the other Slytherins those first few weeks at Hogwarts. Harry'd forgotten how the older Slytherins used to pride themselves on having pure blood and bully those that didn't. A few tricks played over the years using his father's Invisibility Cloak had knocked the snakes down a peg or two. Maybe Draco had spent too much time with his father, Lucius, over the summer. Harry hoped that's all it was and that it would wear off soon. He couldn't even contemplate them not being together.
"See you at the feast," Harry said and left the car.
Harry stirred his oatmeal absentmindedly; he tried not to look over to the Slytherin table. Draco was missing again. The seat he'd been sitting at the previous seven years had remained empty for every meal since the opening feast. Harry had barely seen each him with the exception of the classes they had together, where Draco refused to sit next to him or be his partner in Potions. Harry had even written Sirius the previous week asking for the Marauder's map.
"Hey mate, you coming with Neville and me to Hogsmeade?" Ron asked as he sat down across from Harry blocking his view of the Snake's table. Within a moment, Ron had filled his plate with rashers of bacon and fried eggs.
"Lavender's busy?" Harry asked. "Don't tell me you two broke up too." Ron hadn't gone to Hogsmeade without Lavender since the previous year.
Ron covered his mouth as he laughed. He grabbed a large glass of milk and held up his hand until he finished swallowing. "No, mate, she's just got a bad tea leaf reading in Trelawney's class yesterday. The ol' fraud said evil was abounding today so Lavender's not getting out of bed.
"And you didn't ask her to stay in yours?" Harry asked.
"Yeh, like that could happen here. Anyway, you coming?"
Harry was about to say yes as his stash of sweets was running low. He found himself eating more chocolates and sucking on sugar quills since Draco had dropped him like a rock. However, the morning owls entered the Great Hall and circled up above until they found their mark. A large tawny owl belonging to Sirius and Remus landed next to him carrying a package. He knew it was the map. Today would be the perfect day to see what Draco was up to.
"No have to hit the library for a potion's essay."
Ron didn't press the issue, which Harry was grateful for. Everyone in the class knew Harry was struggling since he and Draco weren't partners anymore and that Harry needed to do well to get into the Auror program. Everyone was also aware that Harry wanted to join the Department of Magical Law Enforcement when he left Hogwarts. Mad-Eye Moody was a frequent visitor to the Potter home and Harry a frequent visitor to the Ministry. It wasn't often that a member of a well to do family would join such a plebeian group for a career. Harry just ignored them. He remembered that Draco thought it was a bit macho and seemed to like the idea. He shook his head at the memory.
"But if you could pick me up some sweets I'd cover some for you."
Ron's eyes widened. "Sounds good to me, Potter. It'll cost you."
Harry laughed even as his heartbeat quickened as he untied the package Padfoot and Moony had sent him.
Harry waited impatiently in his room for the others to leave. His fingers ran over the creases of the map; he wanted to say the words the words that would reveal where Draco currently was. Harry didn't doubt that Draco would remain at Hogwarts. Even other Slytherins had secretly come to him and questioned what happened to Draco. Harry knew the only reason why he hadn't been called before the Headmaster was because of his parents, especially his mother. Lily, Harry was sure had talked with Snape. Even the old bat had lessened his contrary behaviour towards Harry.
"Sugar quills and fudge coming your way mate," Ron said as he flipped one of the Galleons Harry had given him and then left the room. They both knew Harry had overpaid Ron, but as long as it wasn't seen as charity, neither said a word. Ron would spend the extra at the Three Broomsticks buying a round of Butterbeers for all.
Harry opened the map. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good," Harry said while pointing his wand at the parchment. His eyes then focused on the Slytherin seventh-year dorm room, a place he knew very well. He missed hiding behind the green bed curtain in bed with Draco, knowing that if Snape came in all the Head of House would find would be Draco and his black cat. Harry smiled thinking about how long they'd fooled the whole school into thinking that Draco owned a black cat. His attention was drawn back to the map as he watched the castle clear of the older students. Draco's name paced the dorm room and then the Slytherin common room. Harry walked over to his trunk and lifted the lid. He pulled out his father's Invisibility Cloak and wrapped it around himself. He felt a tinge of guilt over spying on Draco, but when Draco's name made its way out of the snake's lair, adrenaline overruled and Harry ran out of his own dorm room. He clambered down stairs as he watched Draco climb up stairs. Harry tried to keep his steps somewhat quiet as he passed a group of second-years heading to the library on the fourth floor. He stopped on the second floor landing. Draco was around the corner. Harry squinted at the map, not quite believing what he was seeing. Draco was entering a girl's bathroom. One Harry knew was marked "Out of Order" and had been since he entered the school. It was where his mother had told him Moaning Myrtle haunted. Harry quickly made his way there. He held his breath as he opened the door a crack and peeked in. Draco was involved with reading a small book to notice; Harry snuck in.
With great stealth he learned from being an Animagus cat, he walked over to Draco standing at the chipped sinks looking into a book which seemed to have blank pages. Harry thought it was the same one that had fallen out of Draco's book bag on the train. With a self-inking quill Draco wrote on the page I'm at the entrance.
Harry had to cover his mouth as he saw letters appear and Draco repeat them in a hissing sound. The faucet on the sink that Draco stood before began to glow and spin. The whole sink lowered into the ground and then Draco without hesitation went down a hole. Harry heard a high-pitched gasp. He glanced over to one of the wooden stall doors barely hanging on by the top hinge. A silvery ghost emerged taking on the look of a young girl. Harry knew it was Moaning Myrtle and he didn't have time to deal with her. He looked down the hole in the floor and saw it was a large pipe, he jumped down.
The ride down was frightening. The pipe was large and slick with slime. He had no idea where it would end as it turned in various directions while dropping continuously. Finally, he hit the ground. Before he even looked around he pulled the cloak back around him. When he did glance around, he saw he was in a large low-lit tunnel. He opened the map up and it showed nothing but empty space. He folded it back up and put it in his pocket. He ran ahead, hoping to catch up to Draco. His thoughts turned to figuring out where he was and then the idea came to him that maybe it was the tunnel was leading to the Chamber of Secrets. Maybe he would find the fifth Horcrux. And then it hit him maybe it was the book Draco was carrying. These thoughts filled his brain along with his mother's warning not to go in alone. He slowed down as he came to a blind corner. He peeked around the corner. The tunnel had come to an end. Draco was standing before a solid wall, but, in the dim light Harry saw four emerald eyes glistening from the wall. The jewels belonging to two carved entwined snakes. Harry quietly stepped forward. He could here Draco's heavy breath but worse he could smell the scent of Draco's soap. He wanted to reach out and touch him, to tell him to stop, to talk it out, but he didn't. He had to see where this led. The Chamber of Secrets must be on the other side of the wall. Draco opened the book once again. Harry saw him write out the words stating that he was before the Chamber and once again letters appeared. Draco hissed out words while the two snakes separated and the wall cracked evenly open. Harry didn't know where to look. He saw a huge darkened chamber ahead that Draco was running into but then he also heard shouting coming from the tunnel behind. It sounded like his father and his friends. The Chamber wall began to shut. Harry ran in.
Inside, pillars lined the chamber. They were so high that they reached into a darkened ceiling Harry couldn't even see. Banging came from the now closed entrance. Draco was ahead standing before a huge statue. Harry walked towards him and it was only as he closed in that he recognized the giant statue was a carving of Salazar Slytherin. Draco opened the book again and Harry stood mesmerized as a small light emerged from the pages and entered Draco's chest. Without warning Draco spun around. Harry didn't recognise his face. Gone were the grey stormy eyes he loved to look into when they opened in the morning, instead red slits with emotionless black pupils looked right at him through the Invisibility Cloak. They looked at him with disdain.
"Ah, Potter," a higher pitched voice than Draco's said. "I'm so pleased you came down here on your own. I hear others in the tunnel, friends of yours?"
Harry removed the cloak, it wasn't necessary anymore. "I don't know who it is," he said, hoping this thing who was possessing Draco's body would believe him.
Draco raised his hand; his pointing finger touched Harry on the forehead poking him. "You're lying. I know it's your father, your Mudblood mother and the blood traitor Sirius Black. Oh, and another," he said and began to sniff the stale air. He began to laugh. "Oh, Harry, going to be saved by a werewolf are you? Remus Lupin is a puppy compared to the werewolves I've known. It doesn't matter though; they will never see another day." Then Draco hissed out words and sounds that were once again incomprehensible to Harry. Something was happening.
"No!" Harry said "Stop it". He wanted to rush forward and push Draco down to the ground and beat him until whatever was in him died, but his feet seemed frozen to the ground. Something was moving. The ground trembled, the air moved, yet, he couldn't see a thing. Then he heard the scream of his father, the howl of Padfoot, and the beginning of a spell by his mother. The next moment there was nothing. No sound, no movement. Draco smiled. Harry's blood ran cold. It wasn't Draco's generous bright smile, but almost a sneer with sharpened, yellow teeth. His skin was becoming translucent. Deep inside Harry knew his father, mother, godfather, and Moony were dead. He felt terrifyingly numb.
"Harry, don't fear me. You and I could have all of this. Draco could be yours forever. You just need to help me, help me live again. Together we could rule this world and the Muggle one too if you so desire."
Fear was replaced with disbelief. Did Voldemort truly think Harry cared about ruling the world? Did he really think such things drove Harry's dreams for the future? Harry honestly could say that he never wanted to be all powerful. Never. But what he did know was that he was unlikely to get out of the Chamber alive if he said no, and also Draco stood no chance of returning to his former self. If he tried to escape, whatever killed the others would get him, too. The monster Dumbledore saw in the other world was here, too.
"How can I help?" he asked.
Draco smiled again. "Very wise choice, Harry Potter, very wise. Draco knows what to do. He's been very faithful these past few months. Incarcerous."
Magical rope emerged from Draco's wand and bound Harry to the statue of Salazar Slytherin. Harry tried to move but it was futile. If prophecies were to be believed then he knew at this point that it was likely he would be the one to die. "Harry, I am not stupid and neither is your Draco. You don't want to help me, but, you will. You will with your blood. Harry didn't anticipate what happened next; Draco's wand-tip touched Harry on his forehead and made a mark. Harry felt his skin slice open and release blood so quickly his vision was blurred.
Far away he heard a call of a bird and then a loud bang. Draco released a hiss of a sound. Harry blinked furiously to see what was happening around him. He heard another voice; it was talking to him, trying to comfort him. It was Dumbledore. Harry felt a moment of relief but then spells darted around him. He wanted to duck but couldn't. The chamber walls shook releasing rocks which tumbled around him. He felt the statue vibrate. He was sure if a spell didn't hit him then surely he would be crushed. He felt light headed as more blood trailed down his face. He could taste it as it seeped into his mouth. As his head slumped forward, surrendering to a darkness that promised peace, he heard the bird again, she was nearby. She scratched the ropes away from the statue and he fell to the cold ground. Warm liquid drops fell onto his face.
Harry woke; he had no idea how long he'd been unconscious. He removed his glasses which were askew and broken. Slowly he wiped the dried blood from his eyes so he could see. Perched over him was the Headmaster's phoenix. Harry struggled to get to his knees. He couldn't see beyond the bird as the chamber was in complete darkness. He felt around him on the floor.
"Lumos," Harry said when he found his wand next to the crumbled stone feet of Salazar Slytherin. He fell back to the ground and screamed as he saw Dumbledore's stiff body nearby. He crawled over to his Headmaster, not believing that he was truly gone. He was. He was still holding his wand. Harry then saw another body near the entrance wall of the chamber. Harry caught a glimpse of white hair. He forced himself up and stumbled down the chamber towards Draco. Somehow he knew that he was still alive or maybe he was fooling himself thinking that he saw shallow breathing. Harry landed next to the body and rolled him over. Draco's eyes opened. They were soft grey.
"I'm so sorry, Harry," Draco whispered. "Remember me, remember us," he added even softer and then turned away.
"Draco!" Harry yelled and turned Draco's face towards him. A lone red tear rolled down Draco's cheek.
"Go, Harry, hurry," Draco said and then hissed a few more words. The wall opened. Harry wanted to bring Draco with him but he couldn't even stand on his own. He reached for him but then Draco's hand rose and grabbed Harry by the throat. Grey eyes turned red. Harry swatted the hand away and fled through the opened wall. Fawkes flew overhead with Dumbledore's body. The wall closed shut.
Harry winced as he saw Remus' body covering Sirius and his father holding onto his mother. Harry curled up between them and sobbed. He barely noticed when Fawkes returned and carried him through tunnels and away from the school and over land. It was only when they reached his doorstep in Godric's Hollow that Fawkes released his hold. The bird released a trill and disappeared in a puff of smoke. The door opened.
"Nanna," he whimpered.
Chapter 6: A Promise for the Future
"The Aurors will be here soon, Harry," Nanna said as she set down his breakfast on the bedside table.
Harry reached for his glasses and put them on before picking up the tray and resting it on his lap. "I know, I'm ready."
His grandmother sat down next to him and reached up to move the fringe off of his forehead. A hint of a scar remained from the incident three days prior. "Of course you're ready. This is what happens when people fiddle with timelines. Strange and horrible situations occur trying to get one world closer to the other... to the way it should be."
"But this was a good life, Nanna. I don't want to grow up not knowing you and mum and dad. I don't want to marry Ginny Weasley."
Nanna cackled as she leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "You sweet boy. You will still have our love. You will always have our love. Remember what you told me what Dumbledore said about core things remaining. We'll my favourite grandson, our love is central. But you can wait if you like, until you're absolutely sure it's the right thing to do."
Harry smiled between sips of the bubbleberry tea. He hoped in the other timeline he got to enjoy bubbleberry tea, too.
"Nanna, do you think I can get a message to myself in the other life?"
His grandmother shrugged her bony shoulders. "I don't know why not. Apparently Albus could do it."
Harry furrowed his brow as he thought. Then he remembered. He set the breakfast tray aside and threw back the covers. "I'll be back in a few minutes," he said as he put on his dressing gown and tightened the sash. He opened the drawer of his bedside table and withdrew a scroll with a silver ribbon, his seal, and a quill. Before his grandmother could say be careful Harry was gone.
The sky was bluer than blue where the Tell-Tale Owl resided. Harry sat at the bottom of the cage cross-legged. He carefully removed the ribbon and uncurled the love letter Draco had written. It said all there was to say, Harry thought, but that was because he knew Draco, really knew Draco. It made him physically ill to think of what Draco was going though right now being possessed by Voldemort. Harry was sure, as was his Nanna, that Voldemort would find a way to create his own body. In the meantime, though, no one believed Harry that Voldemort was back or that some monster was responsible for all of the deaths. Lucius Malfoy blamed Harry saying he had been practising Dark magic, the papers followed in suit. Today he would be arrested. Mad-Eye let Nanna know ahead of time. Harry put the quill to the paper and drew a picture of the cage along with the three Ds. He didn't know what to say but he hoped an older Harry would know what to ask. Maybe just maybe time would be on his side and reveal the love Draco said would survive time.
Harry sealed the scroll and left it in the centre of the cage, hoping somehow Hedwig would know what to do with it.
Chapter 7: Another Time, Another Place
Harry sat in his office with the blinds pulled. It was the last day he would spend behind his desk. For over thirty years he'd been a member of the Legal Law Enforcement, twenty odd years as Head Auror, and now it was time to do something different, something very different. The kids were grown and established. Visits were lovely but brief. If he had to put a finger on the cause of the malaise he felt he would say it was loneliness. He felt it in his bones. The split with Ginny a decade before had never penetrated its full effects until now. It wasn't that he regretted that they divorced; he didn't. It was that he missed having someone who cared whether he had a good night sleep or missed a meal and he missed caring too. It was time to travel and it was time to enjoy this magical word he fought so hard for.
A knock startled him from his deep thoughts. A welcomed guest entered.
"Teddy, what brings you here?"
Teddy loped in. Even though he was now close to forty, Harry thought he still looked like a teenager in his dress and walk.
"Harry, I found something at work that I believe belongs to you."
Harry's interest perked up. What of his would be in the Department of Mysteries and what could it be that an Unspeakable would actually let him know? Teddy reached into the pocket of his cerulean blue robes, which matched his hair. He pulled out a scroll which contained the Potter seal and tied with a silver ribbon. He handed it to Harry. Harry examined the parchment roll. It appeared relatively new and the seal hardened but not brittle.
"Where did you get it?" Harry asked as he undid the ribbon, which was scented. He took a deep breath, letting the scent fill his nose. It brought forth a visceral response of pure comfort. He couldn't place where he'd smelled it before but he knew it was familiar.
Teddy smiled. It was his mother's free and generous smile but his brown eyes were his father's. "You know I can't tell you the details. I probably shouldn't say anything at all, but, I feel you need to know that I believe it came from another timeline."
Harry coughed. "You're serious?"
Harry inspected the seal more closely. It was like the one he discovered his family had used when going through the Auror archives but none of them had been completely intact. Most of them had been from his grandmother, Prudence, who he'd never met. From her notes she seemed a bit quirky yet forceful. "You know when I was young I saved myself using a Time-Turner. Is that is what is involved here?" Harry asked as he guardedly pulled on one end of the silver ribbon.
"No, Time-Turners were only able to go back a few hours, maybe up to a day if it was a twenty-four-hour Time-Turner, which were very rare. They were man made. I believe this is a product of nature."
Harry's gaze turned from the scroll to Teddy. "Nature made? You mean like a worm-hole in space or something. Do we have magical astronauts these days? Are you out there swinging on the rings of Saturn? What are you researching?" Harry asked, knowing the last question was forbidden for Teddy to answer or at least that is what most Unspeakables told him.
Teddy laughed. "No, no, no. I'm not out in space, though Victoire might disagree. I'm looking into extinct magical species—oh shit!"
Harry thinned his lips and shook his head, knowing that Teddy had broken the terms of his profession, but, also, that it wouldn't go anywhere beyond this room. He would never turn his godson in. Harry wanted to discuss it more as he'd found over the years that so many mysterious items or occurrences were caused by old magic spells, many Dark, which had long been forgotten. They weren't taught anymore. Instead of pursuing the conversation further, though, he turned his attention back to the scroll. He lifted a letter opener from his desk and sliced open the deep red-waxed seal. He unrolled the parchment and immediately his brow furrowed as a small blue feather floated out. Harry caught it without looking. His attention was focused on the letter.
"Harry, everything okay?" Teddy asked.
The corners of Harry's mouth slowly upturned and he nodded. "Yeah, just not even close to what I expected."
"Can I see?" Teddy asked, standing on his tip-toes trying to see the content written on the scroll.
"Sure, but doesn't go past this room," Harry said and then looked briefly up at Teddy and gave him a wink. Teddy had more to lose than Harry did if the conversation was known by others. But then Harry knew that at least one other person might need to be told. He handed the paper to Teddy. His fingers absent-mindedly played with the silver ribbon he brought it up to his nose again, inhaling its scent.
"Happy Birthday, Harry," Teddy mumbled and then added in almost disbelief, "My love for you, time will not alter. Yours, Draco Malfoy." Teddy looked over to Harry. His eyes turned from warm brown to stormy grey. "Draco Malfoy?"They both burst out laughing, but Harry felt something inside when he laughed, something that if he had to put his name on it would have been betrayal. He stopped.
"What do you think the golden cage with the three Ds underneath it means?" Harry asked. "It looks like something I drew."
Teddy sobered quickly and Harry surmised that it had to do with the extinct species Teddy had been investigating. Some type of bird. "The three Ds I think you can figure out," Teddy said, "and as to the cage, well in for Knut might as well be a Galleon. It's a place, Harry and I'd hoped to find a way to change things. But when I got there, it was empty with only this scroll lying on the bottom."
Harry had so many questions he wanted to ask, but there was sadness to Teddy's tone. He hadn't heard it since Andromeda had passed away two years prior. "What did you want to change, Teddy?" Harry asked.
Teddy shook his head. "I know it would be wrong, but just think, Harry, just think if we could have our parents back. I wanted mine and then I thought you should have yours."
Harry's eyes widened. It was something he'd longed for in his youth, he hadn't realised that Teddy had felt it so deeply, too. He reached out and put his hand on Teddy's shoulder. "I understand, Teddy."
"I—I thought if Dumbledore had known that Voldemort was coming that night, that Peter was the traitor, then everything would be as it should have been."
"So it wasn't a magical creature you were investigating," Harry asked, recognising it wasn't the most important question to ask but his Auror training breaking through, starting from the beginning.
Teddy shook his head as if in shame. "Originally no, but, then, yes. I was looking into time-travel and then discovered an old legend about a Tell-Tale Owl; an owl that lived between alternate time lines."
Harry tried to wrap his mind around what that would entail and couldn't do it on the spot. However, what was of importance now was that his Godson was hurting and he wasn't sure what he was about to tell him would hurt or help. "Teddy, I'm glad you didn't find this owl. Some things are left best as legends. If you had done what you wanted to then who knows what would have occurred. It could have been Dark magic. And plus, my dear Teddy, I do know that more than likely you wouldn't be here right now if you had and that is something I would never want to change."
"What? What do you mean?"
Harry smiled. He let his hand slide down Teddy's shoulder before bringing it back to his desk, picking up a picture. It was a picture of the original Order of the Phoenix; One where he usually stared at to see his parents and his godfather, Sirius. It was over the years of looking at it that he noticed special looks between Sirius and Remus. He was very sure they had been in love. It didn't surprise him. "I'm not sure your father and mother would have got together, Teddy. I think Sirius and Remus were a couple."
Teddy grabbed the picture from Harry's hand and stared at it intently. "Ohhhhh, oh, I hadn't thought of that," he said and began to chuckle. "Well, it's obvious from the note that your life would have been quite different too."
Harry looked back at the note. "Teddy, for me to have this note means someone sent a message to this time period. Maybe you did send an owl after all."
"But then wouldn't I be sending a note back now with a Tell-Tale Owl instead of bringing you a love note from Draco Malfoy with the Potter seal? I mean you can only have one timeline existing at one time."
"Balls if I know how this stuff works. I leave that up to you and the others."
"So what are you going to do with note?"
Harry rolled it back up and tied the silver ribbon around it. He put it into his crimson robe pocket. A robe he'd be wearing for the last time. "I don't know, Teddy. I just don't know."
"Well if you end up running off to Shangri-La with Draco Malfoy then I guess you can thank me. Happy Birthday, Harry."
Harry smiled. "Thanks, I almost forgot. I hope I'll see you later tonight at the Hog's Head for a shot or three to celebrate me leaving this place and that birthday thing. The kids are all going to be there; James arrived home last night."
"Wouldn't miss it for the world, Harry."
Harry had to take multiple deep breaths to overcome the feeling of vertigo. He couldn't actually believe he was in some large birdcage floating on some cloud way up high in the sky. He wondered if Dumbledore had something to do with all of this. He felt a sense of his magic course over him. Harry held on tight to the bars, they seemed old and were flaking gold. There was nothing here. The cage looked worn and desolate. He finally caught his breath and then sat down near the edge but still held on to one bar. The sky was so blue and the air around him perfectly still. It was so quiet. He relaxed, more so than he ever remembered doing before. "Why am I here?" he said to an empty perch.
To his amazement the floor of the birdcage began to swirl. He hoped it was like a Pensieve but it wasn't. He viewed a scene from above as if he was a bird. Below was one scene and unfortunately it was too hazy to see exactly what was going on, but he could make out that it was of him and Draco and they were very young. It was at Hogwarts and they were running down to the dungeons laughing, holding hands. They reached the Slytherin Common Room door and then Harry disappeared, a cat was in its place. Draco picked up the cat and nuzzled into its fur. The scene got even fuzzier and then turned black, but Draco's voice rang out. "Love you, Harry."
For some reason, Harry hadn't expected this. He pictured them being older, maybe after the war. But this—this was different. They were friends as kids. They were innocent. He couldn't imagine why that timeline had ended.
Chapter 8: A Bottle of Wine
The Christmas tree was the smallest one he'd had since he was in Auror training. It sat on a table in the centre of the bay windows facing the street. From the outside, it looked warm and charming, but inside it only reminded him how lonely he was. The kids were at the Burrow with Ginny tonight. He was invited, but it felt much too odd to be there on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. He would go for Christmas dinner, Mollie insisted, and to be honest, it didn't take much insistence. Harry positioned the presents under the tree, there seemed to be too few. He remembered fondly back to when the room was filled with presents and the kids and their cousins had gone wild with paper and ribbons. Even the fairy lights seemed less twinkly.
"Shake it off, Potter," he mumbled to himself. He knew that even though he was drawn to small bouts of the blues; he didn't do them well. A single miniature light-fairy flew from the tree and landed on his nose. She stood there looking very stern with her arms crossed and foot tapping. "What?" Harry said before batting her gently away. She buzzed off leaving a lighted trail of glitter and landed on the mantle. She flickered in a strobe-like manner to get Harry's attention. He got up from his chair and walked over to the fireplace. She scampered across the garland to a scroll that was hidden behind a stocking holder. She tugged on the silver ribbon with little success. Harry laughed. "Okay, okay, I guess it is time. But I'm guessing he's probably busy tonight." The fairy tapped her foot again.
Harry took the scroll and looked around for something else he could offer as a bribe for Draco to even speak with him. It astounded Harry that he was even contemplating doing this. "Desperate fool," he said as he picked up a bottle of Bubbleberry wine. He'd never tasted it, but liked the name. A visiting ambassador from Austria had given it to him as a gift. He quickly found a box and did a half-decent job of gift-wrapping it properly. He checked the silvered mirror as he wrapped the black scarf around his neck and put on his dressiest overcoat, which wasn't saying much. A sprig of holly was added to his lapel without his doing. He looked over to the tree and gave a small salute to the fairy shining the brightest before he Disapparated.
The Leaky Cauldron was filled to the brim with magical folks from London and afar. The scent of spiced wine mixed with cherry pipe smoke made Harry admit that it was a good idea to get out of his house tonight. "Harry!" Seamus Finnigan yelled from behind the bar. "Merry Christmas!" he added and a glass of warm eggnog was hovered over to him. Specks of freshly grated nutmeg floated on top while a shot of Ogden's finest rested on the bottom. It was Harry's favourite holiday drink.
"What brings you here on Christmas Eve, Potty—Potter?" Pansy Finnigan asked as she whisked past him with silver trays floating above her head filled with spirits and delectable starters.
"I have a question to ask you," Harry said, hoping it reached her ears above the den of noise.
"To ask me?" Pansy said, startling Harry as she appeared right next to him without her trays. "I'm not sure besides ordering a drink or meal that you've ever said anything more than 'Congratulations Parkinson' on my wedding day and that was ten years ago."
Harry was sure she was right. He'd never understood how Seamus could have fallen in love with Pansy after she'd wanted to turn him over to Voldemort during the Battle, but then again that was four decades ago and people changed. "Sorry, Pansy, as you know I'm a troll."
"Good, I see we do agree on some things," she said. "Now, what question can I answer for you?"
Harry sipped his drink first, hoping to get some liquid courage from the Ogden's. "I was wondering if you knew where Malfoy was tonight." Harry asked trying to be nonchalant about the whole thing.
"Draco! You want to know where Draco is," Pansy said much louder than Harry appreciated. Harry put his hand on the middle of Pansy's back and tried leading her to a quieter part of the tavern, near the Muggle entrance. "What do you want with Draco? You're not going to kill him after all these years are you?"
Harry laughed. "No, that's not what I had in mind. I was actually thinking that we might make some kind of peace."
Pansy frowned at him. "Now what in the hell would you want to do that for? I thought you came to some semblance of a truce by just not talking to each other."
"Yeah, that sounds about right, but it wasn't formal or anything. It just kind of happened that way."
Pansy put her hand on Harry's shoulder and stood up on her toes and got up close to his face and looked at him straight in the eyes. He never knew hers were so brown and full of life. "I'm only going to tell you because Seamus likes you. I don't. Never have, never will. But now you can do me a favour; I don't want Draco to know I told you. You got that?" she said as she took her hand off his shoulder and poked him in the chest.
Harry nodded. "Yes, Pansy, I got that," he said and stepped away from her finger and backed into the wall. She gave him a half-grin.
"He's over there," she said pointing to the table farthest away from the Muggle entrance. Harry went up on his toes and could see Draco Malfoy sipping a drink by the fireplace. He was alone.
"You could have just told me in the first place."
Pansy laughed as she walked away from him; her trays soon found her.
Harry finished his drink and sent the empty glass towards the highly polished bar. Seamus raised his head and then his brows when he spotted Harry heading towards Draco Malfoy.
"Malfoy, mind if I join you?" Harry asked as he sat down across from Draco and set the present on the small round table between them. He would have normally welcomed the fire's heat but, right now he felt sweat gathering around his hairline. He removed his scarf and unbuttoned his overcoat.
"Yes, I do mind, Potter, and don't get too comfortable. What the hell are you doing here on Christmas Eve? Don't you have some damsel in distress to save tonight or is it blokes these days?"
Harry laughed, wondering what the hell he was thinking about showing Draco Malfoy a love letter he'd supposedly written. "I'm not an Auror anymore, Malfoy, and I'm here to talk to you."
Draco looked at him askew. "What in Father Christmas' name would you want to talk to me about?"
Harry shook his head feeling defeated. "What are you doing here tonight? Thought you'd be at the Manor hosting some Christmas Ball."
"Good one, Potter," Draco said with a smile. It was then Harry saw that Draco's smile was a little crooked. He might have had one too many spirits already. Draco sighed and then added, "No balls for the Malfoys. We tried once but only ghosts showed up and they weren't there to talk of joy and peace. I'm here because my son is spending the night with his wife. My parents are in Finland and I hate that much cold and snow. And as you know by the papers, my ex is celebrating with Blaise-the-arse-Zabini."
"Here," Harry said and pushed the present towards Draco. "I'm giving you a gift."
"What? You're giving me a gift. Oh hell, am I that pitiful?"
Harry snickered. "No, not that I know of. I just wanted to talk to you about something that I was given for my birthday last summer."
Draco shook his head. "I need another drink because I have no fucking idea what you're talking about."
"Just open it," Harry said and then raised his wand and Accio'd over two clean wine glasses from the bar. Harry tried to hide his smile seeing how gleefully Draco went about opening the present. He knew how he felt. Besides from his children and Hermione, he didn't receive presents anymore. He loved presents.
"Merlin!" Draco said as he looked over the bottle of Bubbleberry wine. "Potter, this must have cost you a fortune. Do you know how rare the bubbleberry is? Wait, you want to drink this now?" Draco asked as he spotted the two glasses.
"It's Christmas Eve, Draco, and it's not like either of us has someone to share it with."
Draco frowned at Harry. "I suppose you're right, but don't think I'm this easy of a date."
"Draco Malfoy, I would never accuse you of being easy," Harry said with a grin.
"Oh hell, Potter, don't let me drink more than one. I actually thought you looked kind of charming just now."
Harry barked out a laugh. Patrons at tables nearby glanced over at them. Draco opened the bottle of wine and poured the glasses full. Harry marvelled at the deep indigo colour.
"So how rare is the bubbleberry?" Harry asked as he took his first sip. The wine tasted the way he imagined magic would if it had a flavour. It was light and sweet, like a blueberry, but then it came on stronger, showing its depth with a hint of bitterness followed by honey.
"Very and this is spectacular," Draco said and stopped sipping long enough to reach across the table and clink glasses with Harry. "Merry Christmas, Potter. Thank you for my gift. Sorry I don't have one for you."
Harry took a long drink and then set the glass down before it was gone too fast. "Merry Christmas to you too, Malfoy. But you can give me a gift."
"You can. I need you to come somewhere with me. Someplace that might change how you think about your life and how I think about mine."
"Good God, I'm not going to the Chamber of Secrets with you."
Harry barked again. "Why the hell would I want to go back there?"
"Don't know but that's what came to my mind," Draco said while picking up the bottle of wine and topping off both of their glasses. "So where do you want me to go with you that is so life changing?"
Harry sighed. He didn't know if he was doing the right thing. Draco Malfoy may have grown up and become a decent man and wizard, but they still had a past. Harry shook his head as the image he saw in the birdcage of them running down to the dungeon together merged with memories of them in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom where Harry had almost killed Draco. "Have you ever heard of a Tell-Tale Owl?"
Draco's face went ashen. "Yes," Draco said with hesitation. "Please don't tell me you found one and want to change this timeline."
Harry shivered at the thought. "No, Malfoy, I didn't find one, but I think one found me in some other time."
"What do you mean one found you? And this has something to do with me how?"
Harry wasn't sure what to do. Should he just show Draco the scroll or should he Apparate him to the birdcage in the sky? Harry didn't even know how he felt about it all. That was his reason for waiting until now to even talk with Draco about it. Could he get past their past to see if there was a chance at something more? It was then, as Harry thought about this, that he looked across the table and realised he wouldn't even be considering this if there wasn't something. "Draco, I received this note and I can vouch for its authenticity," Harry said and reached into the pockets of his coat searching for the scroll. He pulled it out and handed it to Draco. Butterflies filled his stomach. He reached for his wine while he waited for Draco's reaction.
Draco's face replenished with colour. He glanced up at Harry. "You think I wrote this?"
Harry nodded. "It's your writing isn't it? I drew the cage and Ds."
"Yes, but, someone could've…oh hell, Potter, this is just odd. I mean you and me. Come on."
Harry smiled. "I know. I told you I got it for my birthday. It's taken me until now to show it to you, but I have to tell you, Draco, I went there. I went to the cage."
"And?" Draco asked as he set the scroll down and picked up the ribbon. He brought it to his nose and smiled. "It smells like linens from home when we had the house-elves. They used to use lavender and rose milk."
"I like it," Harry said. "I thought I recognised it but I guess not. Don't think the Hogwarts elves used it."
Draco shook his head. "No, they didn't. But why are we talking about linens and house-elves? Tell me about this adventure."
"Well, there isn't' much to see there. It looks abandoned, but I did find out that if you ask a question that it will show you something. It showed me one scene of you and me. We were young, Draco. We were at Hogwarts and we were friends. I was an Animagus, a black cat, and you brought me with you into Slytherin. It was amazing to see."
Draco's grey eyes widened. "Will you show me?"
"That is why I'm here, remember?"
Draco corked the bottle of wine and rose from the chair. "I'm ready. Let's go."
Chapter 9: What is and What should be
What the people in the Leaky Cauldron thought when Harry and Draco gathered their belongings and then Disapparated together, the two didn't think about, they were too anxious to see what could have been.
"Whoa!" Harry said when they arrived.
"You said it looked abandoned," Draco said as he held onto shiny gold bars and looked around, inside and out. The cage looked brand new. Vines with scented flowers of every colour weaved their way between and around the bars. Outside, it was a deep blue both up and down. However, Harry's eyes were fixated on something else completely. "Looks like you're old owl from Hogwarts," Draco said.
Harry stared at the white snowy owl. She looked so much like his Hedwig, but it couldn't be, could it? He held out his arm. The owl hooted at him and flapped her wings as she stepped off the perch and landed on Harry's cloaked arm. If this is all that happened, Harry thought, this would be enough. He petted her and she cooed.
"What are those?" Draco said pointing to the bottom of the cage where five coloured feathers lay. He bent down to pick them up but stumbled forward. The cage tilted back and forth. Draco fell to his knees.
Harry screamed in fear. He had assumed the cage was stable on the cloud. His legs began to tremble; he joined Draco on the bottom of the cage.
"Sorry," Draco mumbled as he tried to retrieve the feathers, which had scattered about. Hedwig hopped off Harry's shoulder and nipped Draco's hand as he reached for them. She hopped over and picked up the red one with her beak and brought it over to the centre of the floor and set it down. Draco looked over to Harry. Harry shook his head.
The floor between them began to swirl, Hedwig moved back next to Harry. Harry and Draco scooted back further as a scene before them began to appear and it was crystal clear.
"Who's that?" Draco asked as they watched a young curly-blond haired man inspect a room Harry recognised as belonging in the Department of Mysteries. They could hear the cacophony of the ticking clocks which covered most every open space of the room but the case holding Time-Turners. Harry looked to the far end of the room to see if the bell jar with the hummingbird was there, he was surprised to see something else there sitting next to the jar on the desk. It was a golden cage with a large nest made of twigs. There was an owl in it. It looked ancient and mottled in colours as if a toddler had painted it.
"It's Grindelwald," Harry stated, "He's going to take the owl."
"Yes, that's the one. Apparently the Elder Wand wasn't the first thing he stole."
Harry and Draco watched as Grindelwald opened the door of the cage and tried to reach in and take the owl. It backed away and fluttered its wings, filling the cage. Its talons came forward and tried to grab the wizard's arm but he wore a gauntlet. With his other hand, Gellert reached in and petted the owl while it pecked at him.
The scene became blurry and then there were Grindelwald and a young Dumbledore in a room arguing and wands were drawn. Harry saw Ariana come in and his hand reached out for Draco, knowing what was coming next; she was going to die and Harry would now know what Dumbledore never had, which one of them had killed her. But, then something else happened —Grindelwald dropped his wand. Apologies were made.
"That's, that's not the way it happened," Harry said flabbergasted.
Scenes rushed by, as if a life were being fast forwarded. There was Dumbledore and Grindelwald ruling the wizarding world. Dumbledore seemed at a loss as wizards and witches looked at him with terror. The Muggle world was filled with tortuous scenes of bombs and plagues, and the earth was scorched. And then it slowed down. Dumbledore finding a drawing of a cage in Gellert's desk. He shouldn't have been there, but things had gone too far. The world was ending. He was desperate. Next to the drawing was a feather, a red-one. Somehow Dumbledore knew what it was and then he appeared in the Time Room at the Department of Mysteries. There, the owl was sitting on its perch. She was still mottled but missing a colour. He opened the cage and dropped the red-feather next to the owl. He stood with tears in his eyes as scenes had appeared from long ago. The owl flew to his shoulder. Dumbledore then withdrew his wand and the cage disappeared. He petted the old owl. "I love you, Ariana," he whispered. An orange feather floated down and Dumbledore snatched it from the air. Harry and Draco watched the tragedy of Ariana's death happen and Grindelwald running away. When he showed up at the Department of Mysteries, the cage was gone. There was no owl. The scene went blank, the floor solidified, and the orange feather joined the red.
"Wow!" Draco said while removing the bottle of Bubbleberry wine from his cloak and uncorking it. He took a long swallow and passed it over to Harry, who did the same. The both sat there is silence trying to absorb what they had just witnessed. "So Dumbledore is the one who moved the cage up here in this wizarding space?" Draco said as more of a statement than a question.
"Guess so, but, I can't believe he chose to go back to the time where Ariana died."
Draco chuckled. "Yes, you can, Potter. He's a fucking Gryffindor, after all."
Harry smiled as he nodded his head. Draco was right. Of course, Dumbledore would sacrifice so much. Harry took another swig from the bottle and handed it back to Draco. "Here take another, we might need it for the yellow feather," he said with a laugh. It seemed surreal that he and Draco were up in some bird cage watching timelines that had once existed and thinking that things could have been so different. He hoped what was coming next wouldn't be as dire. Hedwig picked up the yellow feather and hopped back over to the centre, dropping it in. Draco's left hand reached for a bar, grasping it tight as the floor swirled once again.
"Oh shit," Harry said. "I only guessed that Teddy really might have done this before."
Draco looked at him askew.
"Teddy is the one who found the scroll I showed you. He found it up here."
Draco's hand this time came out as if to hold Harry back from falling into the scene. Teddy Lupin was in the Time Room they'd seen earlier, but this time it only contained the clocks. Long gone were the Time-Turners and the bell jar. Teddy cast a spell and the room shimmered. Slowly, ghostly images of what was there before returned. A smile broke out over Teddy's face when he saw the cage. He Disapparated. Harry held his breath, knowing how dangerous it was to Apparate to a place you didn't even know existed or not.
Teddy was in the cage and there was the Tell-Tale Owl sitting on her perch. She turned her face 180 degrees and then back again. "Your feathers look like my hair gone wrong, but you're a beauty," Teddy said with smile. The owl's tri-colours of blue, green, and yellow feathers were striking. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a few owl treats. The owl hooted and fluttered her wings and gladly took the offering.
"Can you deliver a few messages, girl?" Teddy asked when she finished. She swooped her head down low and then back up. Harry could see from his point of view that Teddy was shaking. He must have known how monumental it was what he was attempting to do. It made Harry's heart ache for him. He had tried to make his life whole but the emptiness must have been too much. Another part of Harry, though, was furious that Teddy hadn't thought it through.
"I can't believe he's doing this, Potter. I mean doesn't he get all that you went through to make the world we have?"
Harry held the smile inside. He wasn't sure he'd ever forget that Draco Malfoy had given him such high praise. "Guess not; guess the loneliness ran too deep."
Draco snorted. "Yeah, guess I shouldn't judge. I could imagine me in my younger days doing something similar."
"Look," Harry said pointing to the parchment Teddy was writing on. "He's telling Dumbledore that Pettigrew is the snitch and that Voldemort is coming to kill me on Halloween. He's drawing a picture of this cage. And now he's writing a note to me, wishing me a happy birthday."
Draco placed his hand on Harry's shoulder and gave it a small squeeze. "You ready to see this, Potter?"
Harry turned to Draco. "Might need some more of that wine."
Draco laughed and handed the bottle over.
"Now you stay with him," Teddy said to the owl as he stroked her back. "He might need you. I might have screwed things up."
The owl took the notes in her talons and spread her wings. Teddy opened the door of the cage and she flew away. Teddy vanished before their eyes as another scene came into view. Dumbledore was at Hogwarts sitting at the Head Table in the Great Hall. A small Halloween feast was going on as it was wartime and many of the students were not in the mood for celebrating. The owl caused everyone to come to a standstill as owls usually showed up at night if there was a death. A few of the younger students could be heard whimpering. The owl landed next to Dumbledore, she was green and blue and looking younger than before. He looked at her with wide-eyes as she released a scroll from talons and a yellow feather. She stayed standing on the table.
"Is that what I think it is, Albus?" McGonagall whispered to him.
"I do believe so. Shall we see what she has to say?"
"You don't know who sent her. It could be a trap."
"You're very correct, Minerva. I shall therefore use great care and intellect to decipher the message."
Minerva thinned her lips and shook her head. Harry knew that she knew that the Headmaster wasn't even considering not opening it.
"Minerva! I must go now; it's the Potters. Voldemort will be there tonight! Peter has aligned with him and he's the secret keeper."
"Who sent it, Albus?"
Dumbledore looked at her with a hint of astonishment. "Teddy Lupin."
"A relation of Remus?"
Dumbledore rose from his chair. "We can discuss it later. I must go. You must find Sirius and Remus and tell them about Peter. But please don't tell them where the information came from."
"Yes, of course. No need to strain that relationship more than it has been recently. Now go, Albus."
Harry took another sip of wine as a house he'd never seen whole came into view. He was confused for a moment as he didn't see Dumbledore at first, but only saw Voldemort come into view and enter the house. He then realised as a flash of green appeared through the window that Dumbledore had the Invisibility Cloak on and couldn't get into the house until Voldemort made his way inside. Dumbledore didn't have the address. Draco looked thoroughly confused until the scene showed the inside of the house and Dumbledore removed the cloak.
"Oh God, Potter, your parents lived and you don't have the scar"
Harry shook his head. He knew from when he'd been at the cage earlier that it probably meant his parents were alive but not until this moment did it truly hit him what his life would have been like. As if it were a movie, his life played before him. He had a grandmother. She'd been travelling afar looking for specialised ingredients for her business of selling potions and elixers. She was also a gardener.
"Potter, look, she's growing bubbleberries," Draco had said at some point.
Harry tried to take it all in. There were his parents and Sirius and Remus and his grandmother. They were a family, a true family. There were even visits to the Dursleys. Other scenes were with the Weasleys and Longbottoms and Bones families. It all seemed so wonderful. The scene was now his birthday. The eleven-year-old Harry was happier than Harry ever remembered being as a child. His letter from Hogwarts arrived and his parents were thrilled for him. They all celebrated. There was no hut on island trying to keep Harry away from magic.
"It's not perfect, Harry," Draco said.
"What? Look at me, Draco, I had a family. I had friends as a kid. It was perfect."
Draco shook his head. "You're only seeing the good things. Didn't you see that funeral a moment ago? That was Rosmerta. And the papers. Aren't you reading them? People are dying, Harry. People who are alive in this world; this world we live in now."
Harry didn't want to see it but then he was forced to. Dumbledore was at his Pensieve going over details. He was at a loss. He knew something was wrong. Then he pulled a memory out, it was of the owl. He called for her by the name of Ariana and she appeared. She held no answers. He searched his desk for the note she once brought to him and found it. There was a cage drawn on it. Teddy had drawn it. Dumbledore laughed in triumph and then disappeared from the scene. He was in the cage. He paced in circles before sitting down cross-legged for what seemed to be hours. In frustration he yelled out, "What did I miss, what did I know in the other timeline?"
"No!" Dumbledore yelled as murders and Horcruxes made by Voldemort were revealed. The scenes were not very clear. Harry could tell that Dumbledore knew that there were seven but also that he didn't know what they all were.
The world calmed down again and everything seemed perfect again. Harry was off to Hogwarts while his parents, Dumbledore, and Remus and Sirius were off Horcrux hunting.
A small Harry was in Hogwarts train car with Ron and Neville. They were relieved to be there as the corridors were filled with older students pushing their way through. Draco was accidently shoved into their car. Harry introduced himself and they shook hands. Draco seemed apprehensive about talking with them, but, then Harry told him to sit down and then other first years started coming in. It became filled to the brim. They all talked about getting their letters, what magic they knew, they guessed how they would be put into their houses, and told stories they had heard about the giant squid. When the trolley came by selling sweets, both Harry and Draco put out a few Galleons and bought treats for everyone. Even before reaching Hogsmeade and the lakes edge where boats would take them to the castle, they were bonded. They would be united despite the houses they were separated into.
Draco laughed. "Merlin, could it get any more Hufflepuff?"
Harry joined him in the sentiment.
The years scrolled by. Harry and Draco stayed silent as they watched their friendship grow. How they would study together in the library and hold no quarter on the Quidditch pitch. Draco had other friends as did Harry, but when Draco's mother took ill, it was Harry he came to. When Harry's owl died his third year, it was Draco who insisted that they be able to go to Diagon Alley and get Harry another pet. Harry came home with a big grey-striped, half-Kneazle cat named Merlin.
"So I'd say that there's no question that I'm very bent in this timeline," Draco said.
"It appears that way, Malfoy."
"Mmm, so why did it take me so long to admit it this time around? It would have saved a lot of grief between Astoria and me."
"Well obviously it's because we weren't friends in this one," Harry replied and then ducked as Draco tried to swat him.
"And you, Potter? When did you come out of the cupboard?"
Harry grinned. "No need to, I like them both." This time he didn't duck quickly enough. He rubbed the side of his head.
They focused back to their younger versions as they were flying on the newest of brooms, Draco in the lead. They swooped through the sky high enough to touch clouds and then low enough to let their feet touch treetop leaves. They slowed when a small lake appeared below. Harry followed Draco down. A blanket was laid out on the lakes shore and a basket of picnic delights along with a few bottles of Butterbeer was spread out.
"I know that lake!" Draco said, drawing Harry's attention away from the lake and back into their real world. "It's hidden from Muggles. My parents used to take me there before...well before."
"It looks beautiful," Harry said.
"Uh oh, I guess this is it," Draco said and reached for the bottle of wine. The two young boys on the lakes shore reclined on the blanket after eating copious amounts of sandwiches and fruits and glasses of bubbleberry cold tea. Their pinkie fingers met and intertwined. Neither acknowledged it with words, they continued to talk about Quidditch teams, and future careers. Harry admitted that his goal was to be an Auror. Draco said he just wanted to be rich and travel. The young Harry laughed as did the older one. While Draco was rich in both, this world he worked at the Ministry as a tax accountant.
The sun began to set over the trees lining the west side of the lake. The boys turned to each other and kissed. It was soft and it was simple and that was it. From then on the scenes were mainly of them. They both laughed as Harry learned to become a cat and how Draco brought the cat with him into the Slytherin common room and dorm, which was strictly forbidden. There were also many scenes of Harry doing detention for playing pranks on students from every house. Sirius and he would write back and forth coming up with plans.
"Do you have a guess as to why this timeline ended?" Draco asked as they continued to watch younger versions of themselves explore life and each other.
"Horcruxes," Harry said and took another drink of wine. It was almost gone and he was sad over it. He wished he had a grandmother in this world that grew bubbleberries in her garden.
"You seem pretty sure about, Potter. Is it your Auror deduction?"
"No, you prat, it's because I know how many there were in this world and how many would have been in that one. They’ve destroyed four but they're missing the diary. Voldemort isn't truly dead until the last Horcrux is accounted for. My deduction, though, is that it's going to get ugly soon for us. I'm not sure I want to watch."
"You're joking. Of course we have to watch."
Harry shook his head. "No, no we don't, Draco. I've seen what I wanted to see. We were young, we were in love and we thought it would last. Why would I want to see it end?"
Draco put his hand on Harry's knee. "Potter, you're a romantic. Never would have guessed. But I have to watch this. I need to know."
Harry snorted. "Don't think we have a choice now," he said as Hedwig brought forth the green feather and dropped it into the centre like the others.
"Hey, Hedwig, look at you, so small and blue," Draco said trying to cheer Harry up.
"Dumbledore," Harry said with a sigh. Of course he would take me away from everyone and tell me about the Prophecy. You know it's obvious now, seeing him in this timeline, that he just didn't know how to handle that piece of information."
"So there was the same Prophecy in this world?" Draco asked.
Harry looked down at Draco's hand, which was still on his knee. It felt nice, especially now when discussing the Prophecy. He put his hand over Draco's, taking a chance. "Yeah, I'll have to tell you the sordid details later, but it involves Snape, which by the way, I think I like it better when he treated you more poorly than me."
Draco gave a sad smile. "He was a good man. A good wizard."
"We agree," Harry said and then became silent as the scene switched to him Apparating back to his bedroom on his birthday. "Holy crap, Malfoy, are you that good at blow jobs?"
Draco turned his hand over and squeezed Harry's hand now in his. "I've been told I'm pretty decent."
Harry raised his brow. "You write nice love letters, too."
"Thanks....Oh this isn't good," Draco said as the vision switched to Albania and then to the Hogwarts train.
Harry felt his stomach turn when he saw Tom Riddle's diary fall out Draco's book bag. Within a few minutes he knew what was going to happen. They would end up in the Chamber of Secrets. It also struck him that it might not have been so coincidental that Draco mentioned it before. Maybe Dumbledore was right, some things were core.
"Draco, this isn't going to end well. You know that, right?"
Draco nodded. "Potter, I need to know that this world we have now was the right one, that I—we had to go through all of this to have a life...a good life."
"Is it good?"
"Yes, it is good. I have a son. I have family and some friends. I feel very lucky. Love and a companionship would be brilliant but I'm not going to whinge about it."
Harry intertwined their fingers. "I feel very lucky, too, but I would like more and I will whinge."
"What am I doing, Potter? Where did that book come from?"
Harry shook his head. "From your father, Draco. I think he got a hint that Voldemort was in Albania and that is why you went. Maybe he met up with him somehow."
"I'm going to be sick."
Harry brought the sleeve of his cloak up to cover his eyes. He didn't want to watch his parents die. He only uncovered his eyes when he heard the young Draco in the Chamber say in a raspy voice to leave and then opened the wall for him. He was gutted. Draco had broken through to save him. It was too much. He cried with the younger version of himself at the loss of his parents and Sirius and Remus once again. He also cried for Draco, left behind, who was fully possessed.
Hedwig pecked his hand, getting his attention. She picked up the blue feather and hopped to the centre, letting it fall.
Harry shed more tears over a grandmother he'd never met. He wished he'd known her in this life. Her wisdom and unconditional love for him was sorely missed. He wondered how she had died in this life; he knew from her gravesite that it was right before that Halloween.
"You did it!" Draco said with exhilaration. "You fucking did it! You had the bollocks just to end it. To make sure that Voldemort was truly was dead.
Harry wasn't sure that's what he did. He could see that the young Harry in that world, despite having all of the privileges, wasn't ready to take on Voldemort, not that anyone was ever ready. He also didn't have Hermione as one of his best friends to help him. But the crux was what his grandmother had said: the false timeline tried to merge back to the real one. And because he wouldn't have escaped Azkaban or the Dementor's kiss, the timeline had to be forced to an end.
Chapter 10: Full Circle
There was a final vision to be played out. As Harry and Draco sat stunned at all they had seen and experienced, Hedwig moved back to the centre. The floor swirled around her. Harry went to reach for her but she looked at him sternly. He knew that look and let her do what she needed to do. There were images of her in all of her colours; she had come into her magical existence as a young snowy owl. A witch, one that looked somewhat familiar to Harry because of her piercing blue eyes, cast spells on the bird. The magic was Dark, but she only wanted it for good. The witch would just go back a few years, to the one where her daughter was beautiful and innocent, one where she was whole. One where Percival would still be home.
In a secret room, Kendra Dumbledore magically painted the owl with her hopes and dreams. Each layer of colour aged the bird; the burden of the Dark magic was heavy. She was so absorbed in her work she didn't see that her daughter, Ariana, had found her and tried the same spell on her. Ariana only wanted to see her mother in those beautiful colours. Kendra left the world and would never return in either timeline.
The owl flew out of her dungeon and into the town of Godric's Hollow. She was spotted by another witch, an old witch who recognised what the colours on the owl meant. Bathilda bribed the owl with plump mice and captured her in a golden cage. She was then brought to the Ministry where she lived in a room where Time had many dimensions.
Harry saw her supposed demise as Hedwig when she was just his beloved owl. She couldn't leave him, yet. There was more to do, she had a letter to deliver. She returned to her cage, where time took care of her wounds.
"Hedwig," Harry said and put his arm foreword for her to perch on.
"I think we should go before we fall out of the sky," Draco said, bringing Harry out of his happy daze. Harry looked around. The flowered vines were withering and the cage bars were bending. Harry put his other arm around Draco's shoulder and Apparated all of them out of there.
"Some warning would be nice!" Draco said as he stumbled out of Harry's grasp. "I suppose this is your home; didn't you think maybe I would like to go to mine?"
Harry shook his head and laughed. "No, Malfoy, I didn't consider going to your place. We had to get out and I assume you have protection spells up."
Draco huffed. He walked across the room towards the lighted tree. Harry let Hedwig go, she perched herself on the mantle.
"The tree is a bit small, and what are you, Scrooge or something; why so few presents?"
"Er, I'm alone and my kids are grown."
Draco turned to face Harry who'd come up to the tree next to him. "That is rubbish, Potter. If we are going to make a go of this, you need to know that I expect presents. Lots of them."
Harry laughed. He was in a bit of a shock that Draco stated his intentions of wanting to try a relationship. For a moment Harry wondered if they ever did fall in love, would it be enough to overcome Draco's pompous behaviour? He didn't dwell on it too long as warm lips met his and the taste of Bubbleberry wine was his again. A small fairy sighed a happy sigh and twinkled brighter than usual.
The kiss was better than Harry remembered kisses being. It portended for better things. He grabbed Draco by the arms when he tried to end the kiss and pulled him in closer. Finally, in a small struggle he released his grip.
"Merlin, Potter, I wasn't going to leave, I was just going to suggest that we go somewhere else to do this."
Harry frowned at Draco. "What my house isn't good enough for you?"
Draco glared at him. Harry could tell he was trying to control his temper. "I was not implying anything of the kind, you tosser. I was going to suggest maybe your bedroom. You know it's not like we're young kids in Hogwarts. We're adults and I, for one, would like to be comfortable while we have Christmas Eve sex."
Harry blinked, liking what he was hearing. Briefly he worried what state his bedroom was in, but then remembered he had actually made the bed in the morning. "I think that's a brilliant idea. I'm very curious as to how good you really are at those blow jobs."
"Stop talking, Potter, and lead the way."
Harry grabbed Draco's hand and led him up the winding stairs, to the third floor. A floor he'd added for just him when he had first moved in. Never had he had a visitor. It wasn't safe in his position as Head Auror, so it was always a hotel room in Muggle London. There was never a morning after.
"This is ace, Potter. I hadn't pegged you for keeping up with the newest fashions in furniture and design."
Harry grinned. If it hadn't been for Lily Luna, his room would look like early Gryffindor dorm. Draco didn't need to know that now.
"Loo in there?" Draco asked as he pointed to a tall door on the far wall.
Harry nodded. For a moment he felt unsure of the situation, as if one wrong move or word and Draco would leave. It felt so odd, feeling that way about Draco Malfoy; decades ago he liked antagonising him. But now was different; now they shared a history even if it wasn't one they had personally experienced. He watched Draco walk about his room, inspecting what knick-knacks Harry kept on his bedside table, what was in his closet and the loo. It struck him that maybe Draco wasn't judging him, but was also nervous.
"That's the dragon souvenir from the Triwizard tournament," Harry said. "Be careful; it still has a spark."
"You were pretty impressive that day," Draco said as he set it back down.
Harry came up behind him and put his chin on his shoulder. "Do we need another drink to do this?"
Draco turned his head partially back. "That sounds like a good idea," he whispered. Harry could feel his breath on his cheek. He took advantage of the situation and brushed his lips lightly against Draco's.
"Okay, but I'm afraid I don't have much to follow the Bubbleberry wine."
"Just need something to calm the nerves," Draco said. The corners of his mouth turned up. Harry kissed one corner and then walked away to retrieve some strong alcohol.
Harry searched the shelves in the kitchen for something that Malfoy might like. He settled on a bottle of Firewhisky Kingsley had given him at his retirement. He assumed it would be good. He grabbed two shot glasses and Apparated back to his room. For an instant he thought maybe it was the wrong room until his eyes adjusted to the change in lighting. A single candle burned from the bedside table on what was now Draco's side, as Draco was now in his bed, sitting up. The curtains were drawn open and a view of Muggle London sparkled in the distance. Harry usually had the drapes closed, a habit from being Head Auror. You never wanted anyone to see you through a window before you saw them, or before the Protection charms activated. He decided right then that he would always keep them open.
"I'll pour, you get naked," Draco said. Harry did as he was told and set the bottle and glasses down next to the candle and made quick haste in taking off his clothes. He set them on a chair by the window. He stepped back to the bed. Draco had pulled back the sheets and cover for him. The white sheets almost glowed in the low light. They were the softest he'd ever had. He considered it a major indulgent at the time, but Lily had told him he wouldn't regret it. She, of course, was right. Harry slipped in between the sheets and sat up next to Draco. The headboard's black leather cushioning was enough of a comfortable support. Draco handed him a shot of Firewhisky. Harry initiated the toast and their glasses clinked. The burn down his throat wasn't too strong but the immediate tingle it gave was enough to get things started. Draco set down his glass and then took Harry's away too. Harry's spectacles were the next to go. Draco carefully folded them up and placed them safely behind the candle holder.
Harry felt his courage return. He leaned over Draco, took his chin in his hand and kissed him. Together they slid down the headboard and further down into the sheets while they continued to snog. Harry couldn't remember the last time when a kiss lasted so long. He knew they would soon do more, but for the moment, kissing Draco was enough. Or he thought it was enough until Draco slid up close to Harry and Harry felt the heat of Draco's body along with the softness of skin and hardness of muscle, and an erection poking into him as if begging for attention. He obliged and let his hand slide down Draco's side, over his hip, and then wrapped his fingers around Draco's cock and began a slow methodical stroke. Draco released a delicious moan.
"Not too hard or that will be all," Draco said between kisses.
Harry continued. "We have all night; I'll make you come again."
Draco laughed and stopped the kiss and put his hand on Harry's stopping the motion. "I appreciate your confidence in the situation; however, we're not randy teenagers, anymore."
Just the way Draco said it, made Harry feel something deep inside. It was that history again coming through. "Speak for yourself," Harry replied and then slid down the sheets until his lips covered the tip of Draco's cock.
"Fuck," Draco groaned as Harry opened his mouth and took in more than half and began to suck while his head moved up and down. "Oh God, keep going," Draco cried out as Harry wrapped his fingers around the remaining length. Harry's hand and mouth took Draco's cock all in, and almost all out, over and over. Draco's fingers made their way into Harry's hair. They needed something to purchase. "Oh shit, I'm going to come," Draco said as his body took over and he fucked Harry's mouth.
As soon as Harry had taken that last swallow Draco's hands reached for Harry and pulled him back up to the pillows. "And I was the one who was supposed to be decent at that," Draco said and then kissed Harry fully on the mouth while his hands made their way down Harry's body.
"Want you," Harry said as Draco's hand wrapped around his still hard cock.
"You have me," Draco said back. His hand grasped tighter and the motion increased as Harry's breath quickened. "You have me," Draco said again. "Oh God, you have me."
Harry groaned as he came all over Draco's hand and stomach. "Want you so bad," he whispered as Draco slowly relaxed his hold.
Hooting from an owl slowly brought Harry out of his slumber. He raised his hand and a window opened. "You come back, girl," he said and watched his Hedwig fly out to catch some breakfast before her nap. The sunrise and city view was fogged out on Christmas morning. He glanced at the clock; it was nine, which was three hours later than when he usually woke up. Draco was still in his bed. It felt good; it felt right having someone in his bed again. He hadn't seen Draco's body the previous night in the dark, but it had felt good. Now he could see the long muscles and almost too sharp bones on Draco's back and shoulders. Harry decided then that he would make a fry-up for breakfast and Draco would have to stay and eat it. In the meantime coffee sounded good. He called for some from the kitchen below with his wand. Draco rolled over. Harry caught his breath. Grey stormy eyes met his and looked deep into his soul. In the quiet of Christmas morning the puzzle of his life fell into place. The missing piece had been found.
The timelines were now merged.
He and Draco were now together—back together again.