Title: The fine line between then and now. (Part 2 of 2)
The fine line between then and now
They sat in silence, the coffee table acting as a barrier between them; Harry alone on one side, Malfoy and Lupin on the other. It was Remus Lupin who finally spoke.
“What do you know about time travel?”
The question took Harry by surprise; it wasn’t the direction of conversation he’d expected either Lupin or Malfoy to go in. What did this have to do with wizards and dark lords? “Time travel? As in H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine or Back to the Future?”
Lupin looked a little confused and turned to Malfoy for help. “I know who H.G. Wells is....”
“The other is a Muggle film. Harry made me watch it.”
“But I didn’t....”
Malfoy held up his hand. “No, not you. It’s.... Look, let me try and explain because Back to the Future is as good an example as any. In the film, a boy named Marty McFly goes back to 1955 and when he returns to his own time, things have changed as a consequence of what he did in the past. Before he went back there was a shopping place called Twin Pines Mall, but in 1955 he knocked down one of the Pines and it becomes One Pine Mall...”
“Lone Pine Mall.”
“Right, Lone Pine.” Malfoy nodded. “The point is he goes back in time and changes things, so the future he returns to isn’t the one he left.”
“Do you have paper and a pen I can use?”
Harry quickly found a notebook. “Will this do?”
“It’s fine, thanks.” Malfoy glared at the ballpoint pen for a moment as he struggled with it and Harry got the impression the man had never used an ordinary biro before. Scribbling in the corner of the page, Malfoy looked back at Harry again. “Something similar to Back to the Future is happening here.” He drew a line across the page. “Time is supposedly linear. Here at one end of the line is 1980 when you and I were born; at the other end is July 2003 where we are now. Okay?”
It wasn’t really okay, because the ink in the pen had changed colour. The dates were in black, but the line was in green ink. Harry frowned, how could a perfectly normal pen that had always written in black suddenly change colour? But before he could ask about it, Malfoy had continued with his story.
“I know you don’t believe what’s in the book, Harry, but just for the moment will you accept that it’s true?” Malfoy rested his hand on the book, waiting for Harry’s nod of agreement before annotating the sheet of paper. “On this timeline here, your parents died at Halloween in 1981. James was a pure-blood wizard and Lily a Muggle-born witch. They became targets for Voldemort when they both refused to join him. But more importantly and not generally known is that it was actually you who Voldemort was after that night. The Dark Lord had heard about a prophecy in which it foretold you had the power to vanquish him.” He glanced at Lupin.
The older man closed his eyes as if concentrating on what he was about to say. “The one with power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies. And the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not. And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.” He opened his eyes. “Voldemort decided that the person from the prophecy was you and he set out to remove you from the equation before you were able to vanquish him. He tracked down your parents, killed them and tried to kill you, but the curse rebounded ripping his soul from his body and leaving you with that scar.” He pointed at Harry’s forehead.
“You’re talking as if this is about me rather than whomever the boy in the book is.”
“In a way it is you.” Malfoy tapped the pen on the sheet of paper. “After your parents died, you were sent to live with your mum’s sister Petunia.” Harry’s eyes opened wider at the mention of his aunt and he bit his lip to keep from interrupting. “Then at the age of eleven you found out that you were actually a wizard and went to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which is where we met. Voldemort returned just before your fifteenth birthday.” He added the year 1995 to the line and quickly added a further date, 2000. “And three years ago you finally managed to defeat him once and for all.” Malfoy paused. “May I have a glass of water?”
“Sure.” Harry got to his feet and went to the kitchen, returning with three glasses. “Are you okay? You look pale.” The colour had drained from Malfoy’s face except for two bright pink patches on his cheeks. Harry peered closer and it was all he could do not to check the man’s temperature.
“I’m just - tired.” Malfoy sipped at the water before taking a deep breath and looking at what he’d drawn on the paper. “My father, Lucius, was one of Voldemort’s Death Eaters and was in prison for many years, but six months ago he was released. The Ministry released lots of Voldemort’s followers; it was supposed to be about forgiveness and reconciliation. I sure they’ll live to regret it.” The words were full of vitriol and the eyes turned steel-grey. “Anyway, my father was quite mad. He was allowed to return home much to my mother’s distaste. She was always owling me about father’s rants; how he would spend hours searching the manor.”
“Sending me owls ... messages ... we use owls to send our post. It’s much quicker than your Royal Mail service.”
“Oh, right.” Harry shrugged. There was an owl living in the garden, at least he often heard it hooting.
“Then one day my mother sent me an urgent message. She said my father had found what he was looking for and raving about bringing Voldemort back.” Malfoy shook his head in almost disbelief. “She was pleading for help, so I went back to the manor and Remus came with me.”
“Lucius was searching for this.” Lupin reached into his pocket and pulled out a chain with a tiny shimmering hourglass hanging from it. “It’s a version of something called a Time-Turner, Harry. They are very rare magical devices that allow someone to travel into the past. Most of them were destroyed in a battle at the Ministry of Magic, but there are still one or two around. Some only allow the user to go backwards in time, but this one allows a person go back and then return to the moment they left.”
“I’d assumed all the dangerous magical artefacts had been removed from the Manor, but apparently my father had hidden this and a few other items away.” Malfoy stared into the distance as he talked, the memory clearly distressing. “He was quite convinced his plan would work and even bragged about it to Remus and myself. If he killed Harry Potter before Halloween 1981, Voldemort would be safe. He even had the Time-Turner already set up, so when we tried to stop him, he just set it going. The three of us ended up back in 1981, but he got away from us. By the time we caught up with him it was already too late.” Malfoy rubbed at his eyes for a moment and Harry was suddenly taken by just how tired the man was. It was as if Malfoy hadn’t slept for days. “He’d murdered your parents and tried to kill you, but the curse he’d used rebounded, killing him and leaving you with your scar. And that was the point in the past that everything changed.”
Malfoy placed a big cross on the timeline and just stared at it in silence.
Lupin squeezed Malfoy’s arm in support. “I managed to get the Time-Turner from Lucius and we contemplated getting you from the car, but what could we have done? We couldn’t take you to the future nor could we find someone in 1981 to care for you. Then, while we were talking, a Muggle arrived and got you out of the car. With no other option, we returned to the moment we had left and found out that what Lucius had done had far-reaching consequences. At first nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but then odd things didn’t seem right. Draco’s mother never asked what had happened and she was more interested in who I was even though we’d known each other for years. Then I found a copy of a newspaper calling Voldemort the Minister of Magic and that was when we both knew something had gone wrong.” He put the Time-Turner back into his pocket. “Lucius Malfoy had succeeded in changing time and protecting the Dark Lord.”
“Though we weren’t entirely sure at that point,” Malfoy added. “I went to our home ... Harry’s and my home ... but someone else was living there. So I tried to send Harry a message by owl but the bird couldn’t deliver it. Later, I realised it had been trying to deliver it to you.” He added another line, the ink changing to red, to the diagram. It started at the point of the cross and ran parallel to the original line. “In this new reality, Voldemort lived and continued his reign of terror. You went to stay with your relatives and decided to become a doctor. You never found out you were a wizard because Voldemort decreed that only pure-bloods would be allowed to go to Hogwarts.”
“Pure-blood?” Harry questioned.
“It means that all four of your grandparents have to be magical. Lily was a Muggle-born, which means you’re considered to be tainted and not worthy.”
“Thanks!” Harry gave a snort.
“I used to believe it once. Pure-blood was everything. Back here on this timeline,” Malfoy tapped green line on the diagram, “before my father changed everything, one of your best friends was a Muggle-born called Hermione Granger. She and I didn’t get on for a very long time.” His lip curled at the memory. “In fact, we hated each other and I was quite jealous of how good she was at magic.” His expression becoming serious again, he continued. “In the end we became friends. But in this world, the red line, she’s training to be a dentist like her parents and has no idea that she’s one of the brightest witches I’ve ever known.”
Lupin nodded in agreement. “Voldemort despises non-magical people and Muggle-borns. He has two goals; one is to attain immortality and the other is to turn Britain into a Wizarding utopia. He wants, in his words, ‘to eradicate the vermin that is the Muggle hordes’. And he could do it.”
Harry felt sick. He was training to be a healer and the thought that someone might be a mass-murder didn’t bear thinking about. “This magical world, does the government - my government - know about it? Surely they could stop him?”
“I was once told that the Minister of Magic was in touch with your Prime Minister, but that was before everything changed. I doubt Voldemort would feel any need to talk to a Muggle government. And in a fight between magical and non-magical, the winner would be the one with a wand.”
“I don’t believe that,” Harry scoffed.
Malfoy looked at Lupin, almost bouncing with anticipation. “Can I show him?” After a moment’s hesitation, Lupin nodded and Malfoy turned his attention to Harry. “We wanted to explain everything first, but this might help.” He reached into his sleeve and pulled out what looked like a long slender stick.
Harry gasped. It was the wand from his nightmares.
“Do you recognise it?” Lupin questioned softly.
“Remember the nightmares I told you about? In them I have a wand but I don’t know the right words to use with it. It looked just like that.”
Malfoy caressed the wand, his fingers running along the shaft as if he knew every part of it. “Eleven inches; holly with a phoenix feather core. This is my Harry’s wand. He gave it to me when mine was destroyed because he could do wandless magic and didn’t need it any longer. The wand picks the wizard and this one picked me as well as Harry.” He held it out. “Here, take it.”
With a trembling hand, Harry reached for the wand, his fingers closing around the handle. The wood felt strangely warm to the touch and it made his palm tingle a little. The wand felt like it had been made to fit his hand. He did, however, feel stupid holding it. “What am I supposed to do with it?”
Malfoy licked his lips. “Well, you could swish it.” Harry snigger. “Or say a spell - try ‘Lumos’.”
“Lumos? Okay.” Still sure he was being set up, Harry pointed the wand and intoned the word. Almost instantly the end of the wand began to glow. He studied the wand and the light. “That’s really clever. I can’t even see the bulb.”
“Salazar!” Malfoy looked skyward, his expression one of exasperation. “Magical energy really exists and some people are able to manipulate it. This isn’t some cheap Muggle toy, Harry. It’s a real wand that can be used to cast real spells. Just like this!”
Harry wasn’t really sure what happened next because Lupin’s cry of “No, Draco, not now!” took him by surprise. He watched Lupin shake his head in disbelief and by the time he looked back at Malfoy, the man had disappeared and where he’d been sitting was a very annoyed-looking white cat.
“What?” Harry was on his feet, pointing the wand at the cat. “How ... I ... he’s....” His mind told him this was yet another trick, but he couldn’t work out what had happened. He touched the cat, needing to know that it was really there, hand drawing back immediately as if the fur burned his fingers. “You’re a cat?”
The cat jumped gracefully to the floor and changed back into Malfoy. Harry stared, open-mouthed for several second before finding his voice. “You’re a cat.” This time it wasn’t a question.
“No, I’m an Animagus. It means I can change into an animal form. And don’t point a wand unless you intend to use it.”
Harry was still pointing, as if he’d forgotten to put his arm down. He started to lower it but instead deliberately pointed it. “You’ve been in my house pretending to be a cat!” His tone was accusatory. “You ... you sat on my lap! You’ve been on my bed! How dare you!”
“Can’t you get it through that opinionated Gryffindor brain of yours that we’re not here to hurt you? We need your help!” And with that, Malfoy’s face turned ashen, his legs buckled and he collapsed unconscious to the floor.
Three years of medical training kicked in immediately and, dropping the wand, Harry was on his knees beside the crumpled body before Lupin was out of his chair. He rested two fingertips on the unconscious man’s neck, feeling for his carotid pulse, his other hand lingering briefly on Malfoy’s forehead. “Has he been ill?”
Lupin looked concerned but not in the least panicked. “Not as such.”
“Is it to do with that cat thing?” Harry quickly ran through his emergency checklist. “Something to do with magic?”
“I told him he needed to be careful. He probably hasn’t eaten since breakfast and transforming back and forth quickly like that takes an awful lot of energy.” Lupin started rummaging in his bag.
“You talk like changing into a cat happens all the time.” Harry started loosening things - the buttons at Malfoy’s throat and the belt at his waist - before putting him into the recovery position. The man didn’t seem to weigh much at all and finally touching him, he was surprised how thin Malfoy was beneath the baggy clothes. “What do you change into?”
Lupin found what he was looking for, a small bottle with a cloudy liquid inside. “I do change, but I’m not an Animagus.” He pulled the stopper from the bottle and dripped a few drops onto Malfoy’s lips.
“Should you be doing that?” Harry peered at the bottle.
“It’s okay. It was made especially for Draco.”
The man between them groaned, his eyelids fluttering open. “Bugger, not again.” He tried to get up.
“This has happened before?” Harry placed a firm hand on Malfoy’s shoulder, stopping him from rising. “You should stay there, at least until I’ve checked your blood pressure.”
Malfoy tried to push him away. “I’m not laying on the floor. I’m pregnant, not sick.”
The three froze in a tableau. Harry stared wide-eyed at Malfoy, who was staring back at him. He didn’t know who Lupin was looking at because he couldn’t take his eyes off the blond on the floor. Somewhere in the flat a clock ticked and out in the garden birds chirped, but inside Harry’s gaze moved inexorably down the supine body until all his attention was riveted on Malfoy’s abdomen.
Then, finally dragging his eyes away, he glanced briefly at Lupin then back at Malfoy. He knew it was completely ridiculous because men just didn’t have babies, but something in their expressions convinced him that however ludicrous it might sound, Malfoy was telling the truth.
He gave a little squeak, which might have been a high-pitched bark of a laugh.
“Um. How....” He swallowed nervously and tried to find the bedside manner he’d been taught. “How many ... weeks ... are you?”
“Just over ten.” Malfoy pushed away helping hands as he sat up, leaning against the sofa for support. He was still very pale and Harry was concerned that he might pass out again. Malfoy closed his eyes briefly before looking at Lupin. “Remus, maybe I should lie down.”
“I think that would be a very good idea.” Lupin reached for Malfoy’s hands and helped him to his feet. “Do you think you can climb the stairs?”
“Stop fussing.” Malfoy was trembling even as he tried to push Lupin away.
Harry stood, bouncing nervously on the balls of his feet, feeling detached from the argument. There was a part of him that wanted to usher the two men from his flat and lock the door so they could never get back in again. But his eyes kept drifting to the book and wand on the coffee table.
As much as he didn’t want to admit it, he knew he really had cast a ‘Lumos’ spell and it had felt right, as if he’d known how to do it all his life. Plus, he couldn’t quite get rid of the image of Malfoy turning from a cat into a man.
But a man having a baby? Ten weeks ... the foetus would be about the length of his little finger and if he took Malfoy for an ultrasound, they would be able to see the tiny heart pumping blood around the baby’s body.
He knew all about surrogacy from his studies, but there was nothing in any of the books he’d ever read about men being pregnant. Was it possible that some wizards were hermaphrodites or had it something to do with the fact Malfoy could turn into a cat? Whatever the truth, Harry was sure that if Malfoy tried to climb the stairs to the first floor flat he was likely to end up fainting again.
Hoping he wouldn’t live to regret what he was about to do, Harry placed a hand gingerly on Malfoy’s elbow. “You can rest here.” He gestured towards to the bedroom. “I don’t want you to faint....”
“I didn’t faint!” Malfoy gave him an arrogant look.
“To faint again,” Harry emphasised the word, “because then I’d have to call an ambulance. Imagine having to explain things to the doctor who examined you.”
Grey eyes softened and there was gratitude in them. He nodded his thanks and let Lupin help him into the bedroom. Harry thought to follow, but couldn’t quite bring himself. Instead he listened to Lupin and Malfoy’s whispered conversation.
“That’s the last time you transform, do you hear me?”
“Last time I didn’t have any problems for months.”
“Well, this isn’t last time, is it? Last time you hadn’t been time travelling. Merlin knows what effect that might have had on you.”
“Do you think he believes us?”
“I don’t know. Now, drink this and rest. Or you will have to see a healer.”
“And risk ending up as part of Voldemort’s experimentation programme? You know what he thinks and he’s not going to let me keep this baby. Then there’s the next full moon; how will you cope if I don’t transform?”
“We’re worry about that when the time comes.”
Harry was still standing in the middle of the sitting room when Lupin came back. He tried to look like he hadn’t been listening but wasn’t convinced it worked. “Is he okay?”
Lupin nodded. “He’s just overdone things recently. Harry, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean for you to find out about magic like this.”
“Is it ... are you ... the baby, are you the father ... I mean, the other father ... or don’t you need two parents? Or has he got a wife and wizards are like seahorses?” His words were garbled, almost breathlessly strung together.
“Me and Draco?” Lupin chuckled. “Goodness, no. I’m old enough to be his father. And the other father is male, who happens to swim quite well.”
“Can’t you guess?”
“Harry Potter’s the father?” Harry sat down hard.
“Why else would he give Draco his wand?” Lupin sat beside him and picked up the wand. The tip still glowed and as he whispered “Nox” the light faded. “They went to school together and Harry once told me how they’d detested one another at first, then, apparently one day he realised he’d never really hated Draco at all and that Draco hadn’t hated him either.”
Harry blinked as he tried to get his head around what Lupin was saying. “Malfoy and this other Harry were boyfriends?”
“Their relationship was far deeper than that. They were married not long after Harry destroyed Voldemort. It would have been their third anniversary on 31st July.”
Harry stared down at his hands, his fingers twisting and untwisting around each other. He had his own life - this world where he’d been happy until a few days ago; where he was still happy. If the car crash had never happened, what might his life had been? According to the book, his parents would only have lived another fifty-seven days and he would have been the one fighting Voldemort, marrying Malfoy and soon becoming a father.
Was that the explanation for his dreams and nightmares, and for the feeling that he’d been to places when he knew he hadn’t? Was he experiencing some sort of soul memory? Sharing what the other Harry Potter had lived and experienced?
He picked up the diagram Malfoy had drawn. Had the other Harry, the one on the green line, ever dreamed about him?
“Were they in love?” Harry knew it was a stupid question. Of course they must have been in love.
“Very much so.” Lupin’s voice was quiet and thoughtful. “They had a daughter.”
“Malfoy was pregnant before?” Somehow it never occurred to him that his counterpart might have carried a baby.”
“Mmm,” Lupin was nodding as he reached into a pocket and pulled out a small leather wallet. “Draco asked me to look after this because he’s so scared of losing it. It’s all he has left.” He took out a photograph. “Her name was Rhiannon Lily. I was her godfather and Hermione, the witch Draco talked about earlier, was her godmother.”
Harry took the photograph and forgot to breathe. It was like no photograph he’d ever seen before because the three people in it were all moving. On the right of the photograph was Draco Malfoy whose gaze moved from the photographer to the other people in the picture. Sitting on the knees of her parents was a pretty little girl, probably about two years old, with blonde hair and a mischievous grin.
But it was the man on the left who drew Harry’s attention. Sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with Malfoy was Harry’s twin. Even the scar was exactly the same. The man’s eyes flicked between Malfoy and the little girl, but always returned to linger on his husband.
Rhiannon was blowing kisses at the photographer and she reached up to kiss Malfoy’s cheek and then Harry’s before beckoning at them to kiss each other. The kiss was brief and tender, Malfoy’s fingers carding into Harry’s hair exactly as Malfoy had done when kissing him the previous day. They finally drew apart and, hugging the child, all three smiled at the camera.
It was the family he’d always thought he could never have, not since he’d realised he was gay. Yet here he was in a photograph with a beautiful man looking at him as if he was beloved and a daughter he could dote on for all his life.
But it wasn’t his family and the man with black hair and green eyes wasn’t him.
Lupin finally broke into his thoughts.
“When Draco became pregnant we were all surprised. It’s not common even in Wizarding circles because you need the right mix of magic. Rhiannon was born on the Summer Solstice.”
“The twenty-first of June.” Harry didn’t want to ask his next question. “What happened to her?”
“We’re not sure,” Lupin’s voice cracked just a little as he spoke. “In this reality we don’t think she exists because you and Draco never met.”
“But there must be a Draco Malfoy here ... and a Remus Lupin. What happened to them?”
“That’s why Time-Turners are so heavily regulated because of the damage they can do. It might be that when we came back to 2003, we married with the people here.” He pressed his hands together, palm-to-palm, and interlaced his fingers. “And we became them in this reality. There is a Draco in this world - he runs something called the Malfoy Foundation.”
“What about you?”
Lupin gave a little sardonic laugh. “I work for a potions company which I apparently set up with someone called Severus Snape.” He shook his head in mock bewilderment. “Considering our background, how that happened is a thing of wonder to me. But it does mean I have access to all the potions ingredients I could ever want.”
“Is there a Snape in the other reality?”
“Oh yes. You and he knew each other very well.”
Harry pursed his lips thoughtfully. “Couldn’t you just go back again and put things right?”
“And change your world? We can never put it back the way it was, Harry. If we went back to that moment, we would be changing this reality, not the one Draco and I belong in and we have no idea what stopping Lucius would do to the future in your world.”
“Then what do you want with me? I’m not the person who Malfoy is in love with, or the father of his child.” Harry sat forward on his chair. “I’m your friend, but not in the way I think this other Harry is. I don’t even know about magic, so why are you here?”
“Because we need your help. We think that the other reality still exists and is running in parallel with this one. If this wasn’t the case, then things from there wouldn’t be able to survive here. The book, your wand, this photograph,” Lupin took a breath, “even Draco’s unborn child.”
“And if that world does still exist then, then your Harry and Rhiannon are alive?”
“It’s a possibility and while you haven’t been trained as a wizard, I’m sure your raw magical talents are strong and you might be able to help us find out.” Lupin toyed with the wallet, a faraway look in his eyes, and Harry wondered if there might be another photograph in it. “Can I tell you about our reality? About what happened after Voldemort killed Lily and James?”
Harry glanced at the smiling image of himself in the photograph - Harry Potter, the Boy Who Lived. Would it hurt to listen? He took a breath. “Okay. Do you want tea or coffee?”
“I think this calls for something stronger.”
“... And that’s how we found ourselves here; looking for you and hoping that you would be able to help. If Draco and I can’t get back then we were hoping that you might be able to help us free the this Wizarding world from Voldemort’s grip.”
They had been talking for what seemed like hours and Harry’s head was swimming with tales of a life that could have been his if things had been different. Lupin had told him about his parents and their lives up to that day in August; the point where a single road had forked into two and where the realities had diverged.
One road was his life; living with his aunt and uncle, going to university and never knowing that his mum and dad were actually a witch and wizard. Somehow it made sense because now he could see why the Dursleys refused to talk about Lily and James, and why they hated anything they considered ‘not normal’. The constant in his life were his books and learning.
The other road was a reality where a boy who shared his name and the first year of his life had gone to Hogwarts and learned about a strange world with magic and words like ‘Quidditch’ and ‘Expelliarmus’. That boy had a magic wand, an Invisibility Cloak that had belonged to his father and an owl called Hedwig. The constant in his life were his battles with Voldemort, which had started one Halloween night and carried on for almost twenty years.
He learned about a community of magical people who lived separate from everything Harry had always thought of as ‘normal’. How, he wondered, was it possible to hide whole streets in London? And how could he get his mind around the fact these Wizarding communities weren’t only in Britain; there were witches and wizards all over the world.
Yet what Lupin had told him reached in and touched his soul. What seemed like something from a child’s storybook at first glance actually felt right in ways he couldn’t explain. It was as if everything he’d done up to this point in time had been leading to meeting these two people.
Lupin was watching him with shrewd brown eyes and Harry wondered whether to ask about the godfather he’d never known he had. But there had been a desperation in Lupin’s storytelling and he decided that questions could wait for another time.
Harry picked up the wand, feeling the warmth from it again. “Look, I understand this is difficult for you, but I don’t know one end of a magic wand from the other. I’m not the Boy Who Lived. I’m just Harry, someone training to be a doctor.”
“You are also James and Lily’s son. They were both exceptionally talented at magic and if you’ve inherited half of what they were, you have the makings of a great wizard.”
“But am I good enough to destroy these Horcrux things? I mean, your Harry inherited some of his magical talent from Voldemort - talking to snakes for one thing. What if it was that connection which let him destroy the Horcruxes?” He gestured with the wand and was surprised to see several red and gold sparks fly from it. It made him smile like a little child and he swished it a couple of times to make more sparks. Then, becoming serious again, he looked at Lupin. “And there’s something else, I’m not even sure I could kill Voldemort. I’ve been training to heal people and he sounds like a sociopath who needs help. Even after what you’ve told me about him, I’m not sure I can hate someone I don’t know?”
Lupin gave a sad smile and nodded. “I understand, Harry. Perhaps it’s unfair of Draco and me even to ask for your help.”
“And if Voldemort is as all-powerful as you’re saying, how the hell can three people - one of whom is three months pregnant - beat him?”
“Ah? Why do I think you’ve already thought this through?”
“There are hundreds of potential wizards and witches out there; ones who don’t know about their gift because, like you, Voldemort made sure they didn’t know. The Muggle-borns,”
“And you want to somehow bring these people together and form some sort of secret army fighting against the establishment?”
“It’s a possibility.”
“But intriguing.” Lupin suddenly leaned forward, eyes bright. “Forget about Voldemort and Horcruxes for a moment. Forget about the other reality or Voldemort for a moment. Don’t you want to learn about your inheritance? How to cast spells with that wand for instance? How to fly on a broom?”
“Well, yes, but....”
“But it’s late and one shouldn’t make major decisions without sleeping on it.”
The sudden change of tack caught Harry by surprise and for a moment he sat open-mouthed. “I - um - yes, that’s a good idea.”
“And I haven’t slept well over the last few nights.”
Harry carefully put the wand down. “If I don’t help, what will you do?”
“Nothing.” Lupin closed the book. “At least, not for the time being. Draco needs to be cared for and I promised someone that I would keep him safe. Perhaps we’ll go to one of the communities in Europe or America. Even if you do agree to help, he might have to go away until the baby is born. I’m not sure we can find a healer in this country who knows enough about male pregnancy.”
It took all Harry’s resolve not to ask the question that had been bubbling in his mind for some time: How does the baby get out? Was there a Wizarding equivalent of a caesarean section? He frowned. “There are special wizard healers?”
“Yes, they’re called mediwizards and witches.” Lupin nodded and came to his feet. “We should wake Draco.”
“No, it would be a shame to wake him up. He can stay here.”
“If you’re sure. He doesn’t sleep well and has lost too much weight recently, the stress of losing both Harry and Rhiannon has hit him hard.”
Harry glanced towards the bedroom and remembered those two kisses, the feel of Malfoy’s lips and mouth on his cheek. “He’ll never be able to look at me and not see him ... his Harry.” He hadn’t meant to speak the thought out aloud and was surprised at how much it hurt.
Fingers squeezed his shoulder. “Don’t underestimate Draco. He might surprise you.”
Harry sat on his own for a long time after Lupin - Remus - left. Night sounds drifted in through the open French windows and a moth was busily throwing itself against the lighted table lamp. If he listened carefully he could hear the Shipping Forecast from next-door’s overloud radio; elderly Mrs Figg’s routine never varied.
It was, Harry considered, all so ordinary. Twenty-four hours ago, he probably wouldn’t even have thought about what was normal and what wasn’t. The moth would have annoyed him to the point of probably attacking it with a rolled-up newspaper and Mrs Figg’s overloud radio would make him groan with annoyance, especially if he’d been trying to study.
But now, none of it seemed important; even his textbooks remained forgotten on the table. And he was only too aware of the fact that someone who claimed to be a werewolf was in the flat above him and a pregnant man who could change into a cat was currently sleeping in his bed.
It was as surreal as Benjamin Bold’s book Famous Problems in Geometry and How to Solve Them.
He picked up the wand again, the feel of magic making his lip curl a little in delight. Would it hurt to find out more about this other world? Lupin’s tales of schooldays at Hogwarts had really intrigued him and he was desperate to find out more about his mum and dad. Perhaps he should visit Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon to ask them the truth; surely they must have known if his mother had actually been a witch. And whether he believed the story of Lucius Malfoy changing history or not, the fact was that the first year of his life seemed to be the same in both realities.
His parents had met at Hogwarts, married soon after leaving school and both fought against Voldemort, who saw them as a threat. Lupin had been with them on the day of the car crash when the discussion had been about the Potters going into hiding. Also at that meeting had been Peter Pettigrew, Harry’s godfather Sirius Black and Albus Dumbledore. They had thought Peter Pettigrew to be a trusted friend, but he’d eventually betrayed the Potters to Voldemort.
Was it possible Lucius Malfoy had chosen that moment to destroy the family because, thanks to Pettigrew, he’d known exactly where the Potters would be?
Harry stared at the wand. Did it really have a phoenix tail feather inside it and was that the cause of the warmth he felt? Quietly he intoned “Lumos” and watched as the wand tip glowed. It really was a beautiful light, almost like the colours from a prism, and he twisted the wand between his fingers watching the light change from white into a spectrum of colours.
The moth, deciding wand light was better than a bulb, fluttered over to land on the wand tip. It settled there, wings spread, as if bathing in the magical glow.
“Can you feel it too?” Harry whispered, loath to disturb the creature. “Maybe you’re a wizard.” He moved the wand to get a better look. “Do Ani-whatsits change into moths or just bigger things like cats?”
The moth answered with a flap of its wings. Then taking to the air, it flew towards the open window.
Would it hurt to spend some time in the magical world? After all, he had eight weeks before his fourth year at university started and he could easily afford to take some time off from Frontiers. He wanted to see Diagon Alley and eat ice cream at Florean Fortescue’s, perhaps even spend a night at The Leaky Cauldron. Most importantly, he wanted to find out more about Remus Lupin and Draco Malfoy.
He yawned and glanced at the clock. It was almost three in the morning and he really should get some sleep.
Getting to his feet, Harry crept into the darkened bedroom, the glow from the wand just enough light for him to see. He didn’t want to wake Draco if he could help it.
He paused by the linen cupboard, arms full of pillows and blankets and thought of the photograph again. Draco’s only connection with a life he was desperate to return to. Perhaps he could scan it into his computer and print out some copies. They wouldn’t be moving, but at least the image wouldn’t be lost.
“I can tell the difference.”
The words were a whisper, not loud enough to make Harry jump. He turned towards the bed, the wand light reflected off blond hair. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to wake you. How are you feeling?”
“Okay.” Draco shifted awkwardly. “Apart from backache.”
“Oh ... um....” Harry tried to dispel a sudden image of Draco’s bare back from his mind. “I’ve got some painkillers, but I’m not sure if they’re safe for you.”
“Thanks, but I don’t like taking Muggle medicine.”
“What about heat? I could get a hot-water bottle if it would help. Or....” He bit at his lower lip. “I could give you a backrub.”
Head cocked thoughtfully to one side, Draco stared at him, eyes bright in the wand light. “I can tell the difference,” he repeated.
“Between me and him?”
Draco continued to stare, his expression unreadable. “I won’t ever forget him, but I know you aren’t him.”
“Even when you kissed me?”
“Even then.” Draco shifted slightly, discomfort clouding his features for a moment.
Harry put down his bundle of bedding and, placing the still glowing wand on the bedside table, perched on the edge of the bed. “Did he know about the baby?”
“No.” Draco leaned back against the pillows. “I thought I might be but I wanted to be sure before telling him. By the time I found out it was too late.” A breath caught in Draco’s throat and he rubbed at his face. “Salazar, I’m tired.” He turned on his side, away from Harry.
Watching the slim back, Harry became aware that Draco was trembling and he wondered if it was tears. If he’d lost everything, Harry wasn’t sure he could be so calm and self-assured. He shifted on the bed, closer to the man who under different circumstances he would be kissing and caressing.
“Then try and sleep.” He reached out his hand and after a moment’s hesitation he rested it on Draco’s lower back. The man tensed briefly but relaxed against the sure movements of Harry’s fingers. He moved a little closer. “Tomorrow....” Close enough to feel the soft silk of Draco’s hair against his cheek. “Tomorrow we can talk.”