Ginny Weasley/Harry Potter
Harry Potter
The Harry Potter at Hogwarts Years
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban Goblet of Fire
Published: 09/18/2001
Updated: 03/30/2002
Words: 425,244
Chapters: 21
Hits: 583,257

Harry Potter and the Time of Good Intentions


Story Summary:
During his fifth year, Trelawney did a Tarot reading for Harry. She told him he would have to make a choice that could "change the world as we know it." At the beginning of his sixth year, Harry chooses, and the world does change. Does it change for the better? If he wants, can Harry change it back? Or is giving Harry exactly what he wants Voldemort's ultimate revenge? The sequel to
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Chapter 14 - The Importance of Draco Malfoy

Chapter Summary:
During his fifth year, Trelawney did a Tarot reading for Harry. She told him he would have to make a choice that could "change the world as we know it." At the beginning of his sixth year, Harry chooses, and the world does change. Does it change for the better? If he wants, can Harry change it back? Or is giving Harry exactly what he wants Voldemort's ultimate revenge?

Harry Potter and the Time of Good Intentions

(or: The Last Temptation of Harry Potter)

Chapter Fourteen

The Importance of Draco Malfoy

Harry flew toward the light. He did not know how long he had been flying; it seemed forever that he had been able to see nothing but the sea below and the stars above. He had learned early on not to stare down at the sea as he flew; watching the surface wrinkle and smooth, wrinkle and smooth, with the occasional white froth forming at the lip of a wave had proven to be nearly hypnotic. He had come very close to having the sea above him rather than below him. Harry could not look behind, so he was uncertain whether Azkaban fortress would still be visible to him if he did. He had been encouraged when he began to see a weak glow emerge from the mist that shrouded the coastline, and as it grew stronger, he prayed that he would soon be able to set down and rest his weary limbs, as he had never flown so far and so long non-stop.

At last, he could actually see the source of the glow; a lighthouse, close by what appeared to be a small castle with another lighthouse, albeit a dark one, perched on the roof. He was far enough away yet that the lighthouse and castle looked very small, like toys. He could see numerous fishing vessels moored near a concrete wall in tidal waters, everything from deep-ocean trawlers to open skiffs. He could dimly discern streets radiating out from the harbor, dark-hued stone houses lined up along the avenues like soldiers, their tile roofs dusted with snow like sugar on so many gingerbread houses. The town was dark and lifeless.

It must be the middle of the night yet, Harry thought. He'd taken off at sunset, but he had no idea how far it was from Azkaban to the coast, and he'd never measured his flight speed. He decided to aim for the small castle with the disused lighthouse on the roof, as it offered a large, flat surface where he could alight, and he reckoned there would be a smaller chance of Muggles suddenly appearing and being alarmed either by seeing a golden griffin or seeing a golden griffin turn into a sixteen-year-old boy.

Harry thought he would weep for joy when the castle was below him and he could finally begin his corkscrew spiral downward, preparing to land. The moment his paws touched down on the roof, he collapsed and changed to his human form again, breathing heavily, feeling dehydrated and completely drained of energy. He rolled over and stared up at the sky, the cold air chilling him, but it was a chill he welcomed, as it wasn't from dementors. He felt he would never mind mere cold weather ever again, as long as he never had to get near another dementor.

Finally, he struggled to his feet and went to the parapet to peer out at the sea, in the direction from which he'd flown. Did the dementors know he was gone? Had they sent an owl to the ministry yet? His eyes drifted down to the fishing vessels again; there seemed to be no pleasure craft here, just commercial boats, and all of the moorings were slack. The tide was low, and he could see that if the mooring lines hadn't been as long as they were, the cleats would have been torn out of the decks of the smaller wooden boats, while the larger vessels would have been hanging above the water. The beach was encrusted with snow yet; spring came late to this part of Scotland. Gulls were huddled in masses on the rocks, which were strewn with black seaweed, and in the distance he thought he heard a lone seal bark.

He leaned on the wall for a bit; the wind stirred his hair and he drank in the bleak beauty and solitude of the seaside at night, feeling as though it were created just for him. He took a deep breath of sea air, the air of freedom. He'd done it. He'd escaped from Azkaban! Then, just as quickly, he felt a lurch in his stomach as he remembered what had goaded him to action: Jamie and Ginny are dead. Simon's in St. Mungo's. Suddenly, the beach looked barren and cruel instead of beautiful. He felt tears prickle behind his eyes and he swallowed large gulps of cold air, willing himself not to cry. This is no time for wallowing, he thought....

Suddenly, a strong gust of wind made his teeth chatter in his head and he sneezed. Harry decided that he should find a place indoors to spend the balance of the night. He walked back to the lighthouse pavilion sprouting from the roof of the small castle and tried the door. There was a lock, but it didn't seem to be a complicated one. He concentrated very hard and put out his hand toward the knob, then cried, "Alohomora!" The door immediately opened toward him, and he breathed a sigh of relief. He entered and closed the door behind him, glad to be out of the wind. Looking around, he decided that this must have been the lighthouse for quite a long time, before the modern one was built alongside the castle, producing the light he had followed.

Spiral stairs led him down into the castle proper, but he didn't expect the sight that met his eyes; the castle wasn't someone's home, it was a kind of museum. Pictures of lighthouses were everywhere, and small scale models of lighthouses. He wandered the corridors, squinting at the photographs, mystified. He went down more stairs, at last reaching the ground floor, where he found a large open lobby with more pictures and models of lighthouses, and some glossy brochures which proclaimed him to be in the Museum of Scottish Lighthouses. Well, that certainly explained a lot. He tried the door, but it was securely locked. He took a deep breath and held out his hand again, using the same incantation as before; the door opened for him as the other one had, but with a difference.

Bbbrrrrrinnnnnggggg! Bbbrrrrrinnnnnggggg! Bbbrrrrrinnnnnggggg!

This time a loud alarm bell started ringing, making Harry practically jump out of his skin.

Damn! This door had an alarm on it. Why hadn't the other door had an alarm? Stupid prat, he called himself. How many people are going to break in by landing on the roof?

Bbbrrrrrinnnnnggggg! Bbbrrrrrinnnnnggggg! Bbbrrrrrinnnnnggggg!

For that matter, he thought, who the hell was going to break into a lighthouse museum in the first place? Why did they even need to have a damn alarm on the place? But he didn't think this for long; he set off toward the beach, running as fast as he could, wishing he had kept up with his exercising while in Azkaban. The alarm kept sounding behind him, and he hoped that whatever law enforcement the town possessed, they'd assume that someone setting off the alarm would either be in the museum or running toward the town, rather than the beach. It was difficult to run in the unpredictable combination of sand, snow, ice, rock and seaweed, and finally, he ran up a scrubby hill. At the top, he found himself suddenly standing on meticulously manicured grass. Staring at the rolling landscape before him, he realized that it was a golf course. He continued running, this time on the kinder surface of the short grass, which only had a little snow here and there.

At length, he had left the golf course and the noise of the museum alarm, continuing along a paved avenue, which, he realized, could have cars coming toward him at any second. He veered into a copse of trees and when he finally emerged from them, he saw small, regular rectangular shapes before him. He stopped, crouching, trying to get his breath. His lungs felt frozen. After a minute of staring at the regular shapes, he realized where he was; it was a caravan park. He shuddered; even to someone who'd been out in the cold March air longer than a sensible person should have been, it seemed a very cold place to live, in a caravan on the northeast coast of Scotland.

He wandered up and down the quiet lanes of the park. The caravans were all up on stilts, some with neat metal skirts around the bases and even well-tended gardens and lawn furniture outside, while others were in a state of disrepair and sporting numerous lines with washing waving exuberantly in the sea breeze. One particularly dilapidated dwelling caught Harry's eye; a piece of wood had been used to mend a broken window, and a metal door flapped in the wind, banging repeatedly against the wall. The letter box at the end of the walk leading to the door was rusted and empty, and on the side it said, "John MacLeod" in chipped gold paint on black. Harry walked tentatively toward the open door and stepped into the dark caravan.

It was a mess, as though it had been used by squatters or wild animals or both. Whoever had lived here, Harry decided, was long gone. He closed the door and magically locked it, then found a far corner, two rooms away from the entrance (the interior was actually surprisingly spacious) and changed into a griffin again, settling down to sleep. He had a long, hard road ahead of him, he didn't even know where he was, he had no money, and soon the Ministry would be looking for him, and maybe Dumbledore's operatives, too. But for now, all he could think of was sleep, and soon he thought of nothing at all....

* * * * *

"What do y'mean he won't?"

"Well, it's not so much he won't, y'see, as he can't."

"Why not?"

"Oh, don't get me started...."

"What are you on about?"

"Well....he's inside again."

"What? He just got out!"

"Aye, well....he was driving back from Peterhead with some of the lads, and they was stopped and the car was searched....and they was all hauled in."

"Drugs again? Where is he? Surely I can say something to get him out, pay someone his bail...."

"No, it's no good. He's had too many offenses, and as you say, Donny was just out on conditional release. He's violated the conditions now, they say...."


"Now, now, I'm sure you can find another caddie...."

Harry heard a loud bang! as though someone had kicked something made of metal very hard.

"Here, now! There's no call for that!"

He changed into his human form and pulled himself up to peer out a dirty window in the direction from which the voices were coming; it was a man in outlandish golfing togs, wearing a tam with an enormous fluffy ball on top, and a weary-looking middle-aged woman who had been in the process of taking her washing off the line and putting it into a cracked plastic basket designed to look like wickerwork. She must be Donny's mother, Harry thought. She was standing outside one of the more derelict-looking caravans, and he could hear a radio blasting from somewhere inside it. The golfer had kicked her metal dustbins, denting one of them, and he continued to kick them some more, while the woman swatted at him with her hands and tried to get him to stop.

Harry had an idea; he quickly dropped his robes on the floor of the caravan, figuring he'd look less peculiar without a coat than with wizard's robes (even standard Azkaban issue). Then he concentrated very hard and made his hair grow very long, so that it could have been a year's growth or more. He reached behind and quickly braided it, then gave himself a bushy beard, as when he'd been at the British Museum. Finally, he left the caravan where he'd been sheltered and walked around to where the man and woman had been tusselling, just in time to see the man stalk off toward his car, a very new-looking BMW. The sun wasn't even up yet.

"Wait!" he called after him. The man turned, looking askance at him, but pausing, waiting to see why Harry had called to him.

"I--I understand you're looking for a caddie?" Harry said to him.

The golfer was around forty, greying at the temples, wearing a clashing combination of three different tartans, plus an argyle cardigan that shared colors with not one other garment he wore. He peered at Harry through suspicious blue eyes, his brown mustache quivering, his rage at losing his preferred caddie still not abated. He didn't answer Harry, and now the woman came up to them, staring at Harry and saying, "Where'd you come from, then? Who are ye?"

Harry thought furiously. "I'm--Dudley Dursley. I came to see my Uncle John, John MacLeod, but he doesn't seem to live here any more."

Now she was the one looking at him suspiciously. "That's because John MacLeod's been dead these thirteen years, he has. And yer not much older than that, I'll warrant."

"Well, I--I--" He thought some more. "Truthfully, I've left home. I live in Surrey, and--"

"Surrey! That's a good one!" the golfer responded. "Lad, you're as Scottish as I am! With that accent? Now, you sound like an inlander, mind ye, that's not Doric as we speak round here, but yer not from Surrey, or I'm the queen!" he proclaimed heartily, with a laugh. Harry stopped, frowning. He'd never really paid attention to his speech since September first. Do I sound like I'm from Scotland now? he thought. He remembered being aware of Uncle Duncan's and Mr. Lyon's speech. Of course, they were from Dunoon, much further south and on the west coast. Different accent. And his stepfather had carefully modulated speech that didn't betray any sort of accent at all, as though he didn't want people to know his origins.

"Well," Harry conceded, "I said I live there now. Or I did. We used to live in Scotland. I guess I was homesick. I don't feel like I belong in Surrey, and I finally saved up enough money from working in my dad's store, so I headed north. But I don't have any money now--I was robbed, and they took my coat, too--and I'm trying to get--" he wracked his brain some more. "--to Huntly!" he finally said, remembering Ron's testimony and the newspaper Crouch had shown him, The Huntly Express. "I have some other relatives near Huntly." Suddenly, he was no longer angry with Ron for having testified against him; he wouldn't have known where he was going otherwise.

"Aye, that's more like it. I knew y'sounded like an inlander. All right, tell y'what: I've got a big bet on with Harvey Urquhart to win today. I've never beat'im yet, and Donald was to be m'good luck charm. He's helped me win before, I've just never had'im when I've played Urquhart. You ever caddie before?"

"Oh, all the time," Harry lied, then remembered he'd said he worked in a store. The man eyed him appraisingly.

"Well--in a pinch, I suppose you'll do. There's twenty quid in it for ye, thirty if I win. More if I win big. Oh, by the way, I'm Andy MacRae." He held out his hand and Harry took it. "I run Scottish Detectors."

Harry recoiled. "What?"

"Scottish Detectors. We're over on Frithside Street. Metal detectors. We ship all over Scotland." Harry breathed a sigh of relief; at first, he'd thought the man had said detectives.

"Oh," Harry answered more calmly, but he tensed up again when he heard the report coming from the radio in the caravan:

"And residents along the northern and eastern coast should be on the lookout for Harry Potter, an escapee from a juvenile detention centre who is considered to be very dangerous. It is suspected that he made his escape on a fishing vessel, and all fishing ports in the area should be on alert for this convicted killer. That includes Banff, MacDuff, Newtown, Longmanhill, Craigmaud, Ladysford, Mid Ardlaw, Rosehearty, Fraserburgh, Peterhead and all points in between. Potter stands at six-feet one inches, weighs approximately thirteen stone--"

"We should go!" Harry said very loudly, trying to drown out the rest of the physical description. "Don't want to keep Urquhart waiting, do you?"

As they walked toward the BMW, Harry looked over his shoulder at Donny's disheveled mother, who was still looking at him suspiciously. Had MacLeod said he didn't have relatives before he died? he wondered. He hoped she wasn't listening to the radio report. How had an owl reached the Ministry already? Wait, he thought--it only needed to get to Banff, then there were faster ways to communicate, like fireplaces or just Apparating. The Ministry had done the same thing with him they'd done with Sirius: alerted the Muggle authorities so that it wouldn't be just wizards looking for him. Great, Harry thought. He was glad he'd decided to grow his hair and beard and leave his Azkaban robes in the caravan.

When they were in the car driving to the golf club, Harry noticed MacRae looking at him suspiciously again, and the older man finally said, "Why didn't you just call home to ask for money? After you was robbed?"

Harry grimaced. "Yeah, well, I had a row with my dad before I left. He didn't want me to go. I've been working for him since I finished school when I was sixteen. But that's been two years now, and I'm sick of it. I'm eighteen now," he lied again, "and I want to do what I want, finally. I don't want to be under his thumb any more."

MacRae nodded. "Good lad. Stand on your own two feet. That's what I did. I left home at fifteen, went to sea. Deep sea crawler. We caught everything that swims in the sea. I learned how to do a grown man's job, took care of m'self. Saved up my money and started my own business when I was twenty-four. Folks the world over will make fun of Scots' frugality, but I owe my life to my miserliness. If I hadn't been tight with a pound all those years, I wouldn't be where I am today." Harry nodded, glancing at the car's silent radio and hoping that MacRae would keep it turned off while they drove.

In very little time, they pulled into a car park outside a building with a sign proclaiming it to be the Fraserburgh Golf Club. So that's where I am, he thought. Fraserburgh. He'd resisted asking Donny's mother and MacRae, as that would have sounded a bit peculiar. When he opened the car door, a gust of wind sliced through him and he shivered. MacRae saw. "Here, now. Come with me." Wondering what he meant, Harry followed him round to the boot of the car, in which were some paper shopping bags with old clothes that smelled of mothballs. "For the charity bazaar at the church. I'm supposed to take them later. My wife's the chair. But you take this," he said, extracting a heavy brown tweed jacket from one of the bags. Harry put it on; it fit perfectly, was fabulously warm and in pristine condition.

"You're getting rid of this?" he asked, amazed. Then he could have bitten his tongue, looking at MacRae's paunch. If this had ever been his jacket, it had been years since he would have been able to wear it.

"No, no. That was my daughter's boyfriend's. Lloyd," he added distastefully. "She met him at uni. Nose so high in the air, if he went out in the rain without an umbrella he'd drown." He paused, and Harry laughed appreciatively, realizing that this was his cue.

"But--doesn't he want it back?" Harry said, confused.

"Who cares if he does? He left it at our house after she finally told him to sod off--and not before time. Should have been six months earlier than it was, but there you go. If'er dad had told her that, she'd probably be with him yet. A girlfriend told her he made a pass at her, and she finally saw the light. Good riddance, I say. You need a jacket, you take that one with my blessing. I think it's from some place in London..."

Harry glanced quickly inside the jacket, and upon seeing the word Sloane he looked back at MacRae and agreed.

"Well--thanks. I'm much warmer."

"O'course, with that hair and beard, y'look like one of her uni tutors now, the ones who read philosophy and think it's still 1971, and who keep talking about what it was like to live in a commune in California. Evidently, American women in these communes would shag any man with any kind of British accent within five minutes of meeting him. Go figure what'll make some women hot, eh? Thank goodness my Stella has more sense than that." Harry smiled feebly and shrugged. I'm glad I'm not trying to date MacRae's daughter, he thought.

They went into the clubhouse, and Harry was glad that one difference between the holding cells at the Ministry and Azkaban was that at Azkaban, they were able to shower daily. Under the ex-boyfriend's jacket he was wearing a reasonably clean shirt and trousers, too.

They entered the club and MacRae immediately accosted a tall, white-haired man who had to be twenty years his senior, with a large droopy mustache and a floppy tam of his own. His outfit, in stark contrast to MacRae's, was completely coordinated and mostly of solid colors. He wore the same tartan for his vest as for his tam. He looked immaculate, and Harry suddenly wondered whether his fingernails were clean.

"Aah, Harvey!" MacRae said as he approached the man, who looked more annoyed than anything else.

"MacRae," he said disdainfully, nodding. He looked even more disapprovingly at Harry. "Reduced to using one of those American surfers who never went home last summer?"

Harry turned to MacRae, bewildered. "People surf here?"

"We're famous for it. In season, of course. No, Harvey, this is Dudley Dursley. He's on his way to Huntly to visit family, but he agreed to give me a hand today, as my usual caddie is, er, indisposed."

Urquhart smirked knowingly. "Yes, MacRae; we all know how your caddie does tend to get himself indisposed quite a bit." Harry didn't think his speech could be called Scottish exactly; Urquhart probably went to a posh public school, he thought. Had the northern accent beaten out of him.

"Well, let's get down to it," Urquhart said clapping his hands and then rubbing them together. "We'll have a good breakfast, then out to the links." Harry glanced out the window; the sun was finally starting to rise. They liked to start golfing early.

He turned to MacRae, saying softly, "Actually sir--I haven't eaten recently--"

His new boss nodded and gestured toward a swinging door with a small round window in it. "Go in through there. That's the kitchen. Tell them your Mr. MacRae's caddie and you're to have anything you want to eat. It goes on my bill. All right?"

Harry nodded and watched the two golfing rivals head toward the comfortable dining room of the club. So far he'd certainly landed on his feet. He was to have a free breakfast and the opportunity to make at least twenty pounds, maybe more if MacRae did well. He found a foul-mouthed, jovial crew of young men and one young woman in white smocks manning the kitchen. They were glad to give him a huge breakfast with more eggs, toast, sausages and coffee than he could wish for. (He'd never tried coffee before, and found that once it had burned the taste buds off the end of his tongue, he liked it just fine, as he could no longer taste it). He felt like he had a full stomach for the first time since his last Hogwarts meal.

The kitchen staff had a small black-and-white television perched on a shelf above a prep table. There was some early news being broadcast. Just as he was getting ready to leave, he heard his name coming from the small box and jerked his head around in time to see a grainy photograph of himself being displayed on the tiny screen, while the precise, clipped voice gave the same description he'd heard on the radio earlier, and the fact that he'd killed his mother. While the list of coastal communities where he might be hiding was being recited again, he moved to slip out the door, glancing furtively at the staff. They didn't seem to be paying any particular attention to either the report or him, as they chopped vegetables and stirred pots and joked with each other. Then he heard another detail of the report, and froze.

"Potter has a distinctive tattoo on his left forearm: a skull with a tongue resembling a snake..." He swallowed and left quickly, hoping most people he ran into would disregard the report as the kitchen staff seemed to, and certainly hoping that no one would try to look at his left forearm. The issue hadn't come up before. Who had told? But a moment later, he knew: Dumbledore. Dumbledore would know about the Dark Mark.

Harry looked furtively around at the people who worked at the clubhouse; waiters carrying trays of food to the dining room, a man at the front desk was writing down a time for a foursome to play on the course later in the day....He suddenly felt enormously conspicuous, but the fact remained that people were busy with their lives; no one expected to actually meet up with a fugitive they'd heard about on the news. Hopefully no one would think to look for him on a golf course.

They were out on the first tee by six-thirty. Harry remembered MacRae saying he might give him more money if he won, so Harry discreetly made Urquhart's shots go awry. He thought it best not to mess with MacRae's game, since it would be more suspicious for MacRae to have a better day than usual, rather than Urquhart having a bad day. Urquhart's caddie was a tough-looking young man with short sandy hair and a thick neck, an inch or two shorter than Harry, but about four stone heavier, all of it muscle. He hefted Urquhart's clubs on his shoulder as though they were feathers, while Harry listed to one side from carrying MacRae's.

When they'd completed the first two holes, MacRae was already in good spirits; Urquhart had ten strokes more than him. He grinned at the older man, who was clearly not used to losing.

"All right, then, Harvey? On to Corbie Hill?"

Urquhart grunted. Harry assumed Corbie Hill was the name of the location of the third tee. But Harry was unprepared for the vista that awaited them on Corbie Hill; the entire town could be seen, including the harbor and over the North Sea to what looked like another fishing village. Yellow gorse and other wildflowers were starting to decorate the landscape. The hill was buffetted by high winds, and Harry shivered.

"What's that?" he asked MacRae, pointing to the other village.

"Inverallochy. And inland--" he pointed, "the Buchan plain."


"Means cattle country. Thought you used to live in Scotland?"

Harry grinned. "I said I was from Surrey. You were the one insisting I had to be Scottish."

Urquhart turned around and glared at them; he hadn't yet teed off. "When you are quite finished..." he intoned, a not-so-veiled threat behind his voice. The other caddie also looked rather menacing, and Harry and MacRae left off conversing, although when the other two weren't looking at them, they glanced at each other, trying not to break out into laughter.

Then Harry whispered to MacRae, "Which direction is this hole?" MacRae pointed, and Harry nodded. Then he stepped back, so he was behind MacRae, and when Urquhart swung back his club, a split second before it would have made contact with the ball, Harry sent the ball flying in the opposite direction from the hole. Urquhart stared. On top of everything else, the ball had only traveled about twenty feet. The older man practically had steam coming out of his ears.

"I should get to do that one over!" he fumed at MacRae, who frowned.

"Whatever for?"

"Damn wind coming off the sea...."

"Now, now, Harvey," MacRae said to him cheerfully, his wind-reddened cheeks very round. "I'm contending with the same thing. Play'er as she lies," he said, getting ready to tee off. His ball went flying in a long arc in the general direction of the hole, and he turned to Urquhart, beaming beatifically.

Grumbling, Urquhart strode to his ball. When the same thing happened on the second stroke as the first, Harry had to try very hard not to burst out laughing at the expression on the man's face. I never knew golf could be so much fun, he thought. It felt so strange to have cheerful thoughts of any kind after spending the better part of a month with dementors. He only just realized that he hadn't actually laughed since the Longbottoms had taken him into custody. (Although, when he thought about it, it may have been longer than that; even before his mother had proposed taking Ron to the cave there had been precious little in his life that had inspired laughter.) And yet he still had to postpone laughing. MacRae was clearly also bursting, and he and Harry exchanged conspiratorial glances. If only he knew how much of a conspiracy it really is, Harry thought.

To warm themselves from the inside out, both Urquhart and MacRae had thermal carafes of hot coffee, which Harry and the other caddie had to carry in addition to the bags, but they were also able to share it. Harry didn't care what he was drinking as long as it was hot. Then he almost spit out his first mouthful when he realized that MacRae had put whiskey in the coffee. Scotch actually, I'll bet, Harry thought. Now that he knew, he took another sip. His tongue was already thoroughly burnt by the coffee he'd had with his breakfast, so the taste didn't bother him (although he was vaguely aware of it), and he thought it was possible that the amount of whiskey in the coffee was an even smaller proportion than when Snape had given him the watered down whiskey in his office.

When was that? he thought as they walked to another hole. Then he remembered; it was after he returned to the castle from listening to the tape from Wormtail. Snape. It seemed like ages since he'd thought of him as Snape. Harry tried not to think about what a state he might be in right now. Mourning his wife, his son and his stepdaughter. Visiting his other son in St. Mungo's and hearing that his stepson was a fugitive. Getting ready to go on the run himself. Harry had thought Severus Snape seemed like a happier man in this timeline; he was married, had children, a home life. He'd never been exposed as either a Death Eater or a spy, so he wasn't at risk the way he was in Harry's other life. Harry had heard him laugh, and not at someone else's expense (he'd heard that before). And yet--it was a life built upon Harry's curse. The curse he'd put on his mother to control her....

He looked up suddenly, just in time to divert Urquhart's ball from its flight in mid-air. He'd almost forgotten that what he was trying to control now was the outcome of the golf game. Urquhart let fly some choice expletives when he saw his ball change direction. Probably thinks it's the wind again, Harry thought, trying not to grin. He forced himself to put his stepfather out of his mind for now. No good dwelling on all that now.

Hole after hole, Urquhart's ball went flying in the opposite direction; it went unerringly into traps and water hazards, or it refused for several tries to go into the hole, even when it seemed he should be able to tap it right in. Harry was more frustrated and less amused as time went on; MacRae was so bad, Harry had to really lengthen the game and add anywhere from three to six strokes to each hole for Urquhart.

By the seventeenth hole, Urquhart had nine more strokes than MacRae. He had been growing progressively more red in the face as he tried repeatedly to get his golf balls to do what he knew they should. Harry tried not to feel guilty about sabotaging Urquhart. After all, it was only golf.

When Urquhart tapped his final ball into the cup, the difference had increased to eleven strokes. MacRae tried to sink his final putt, but the ball swerved and kept going beyond the hole. Harry looked at the others, making sure they were ignoring him; as MacRae tried again, Harry subtly held out his hand and concentrated hard on the ball. This time, it looked like the ball was going to go past the cup again, but it suddenly made a right turn, a perfect ninety-degree angle, and fell into the cup.

MacRae was happier than anyone Harry had ever seen. Harry wished he had been able to be more subtle about helping him at the end, but he was afraid that if MacRae had to try too many times to sink the putt, he'd eat up the lead he had over Urquhart. The older man was looking grumpily at MacRae and his shining face.

"Let me see that ball. That didn't look right."

Harry was glad he'd been adding to Urquhart's strokes rather than helping MacRae; it was very hard to help someone as incompetent as Andy MacRae. Urquhart's caddie looked grumpy; Harry guessed that he was also promised a bonus if his boss won.

The ball was examined, found to be unremarkable, and Urquhart sniffed, handing it back to Harry. Harry put the ball away in MacRae's bag, and carefully put away his putter, covered neatly with an argyle sock. Then he saw that Urquhart had removed a large wad of bills from his pocket and was counting out quite a lot for MacRae. He handed the wad to Harry's boss with a frown.

"Had an off day," he mumbled, then turned and led his caddie back to the clubhouse. Harry shouldered MacRae's bag and followed his boss back; MacRae was practically skipping. Before they went inside, he stopped and handed five twenty-pound notes to Harry.

"There y'go, Dudley. Told ye I'd give y' more if I won. Are y'sure you need to go to Huntly? Y'could be m'new good luck charm."

"No, thank you anyway. I really need to get to Huntly."

Suddenly, MacRae's eyes lit up. "Dudley!" he exclaimed. "I know how you can get to Huntly and still have that hundred quid in yer pocket when you get there!"

Harry frowned. "How?"

"C'mon. We'll talk over lunch. You come sit with me in the dining room this time. This calls for a celebration!"

Harry decided he wasn't going to pass up a free lunch and a free trip to Huntly, so he followed MacRae into the dining room of the club, where the waiters looked askance at his beard and hair, but otherwise waited upon him with as much decorum as they waited on anyone else.

As they ate, Harry learned that the Huntly football club was playing "The Broch" that afternoon, as the Fraserburgh team was called. The coach of the Huntly team was married to MacRae's sister. He said he'd arrange for Harry to ride back to the other town with the team. Harry looked forward to this; it would be much safer, he felt, than wandering the roads or riding a bus or a train where anyone could get on or off at each town. And people playing football all day would probably be too busy to listen to the radio and connect the story of Harry Potter, dangerous escaped killer, with Dudley Dursley, impromptu caddie.

MacRae drove them to Bellslea Park, where the game was already underway. Soon Harry had ascertained that "The Broch" wore the black and white striped shirts, black shorts and red socks, while Huntly wore all white with black trim. It was a fierce game, and he listened to MacRae discuss other league games with some mates standing nearby.

"Fort William drew two-two with the Cove Rangers, d'ye believe it? They should hang their heads in shame. Not beatin' Fort William...."

"Did you hear about Ayr United? Banff walked all over'em..."

"I have a bet on with Fergus, Clachnacuddin over Deverondale, twenty quid."

"Are ye mad? Are ye just throwin' yer money away now?"

"Shit, man. Clachnacuddin? Just give'im his money now, why don't ye. And as long as yer givin' it away, how about the ten quid ye owe me..."

Harry wandered about the pitch, hands deep in his pockets, watching the game idly. He had no reason to want to affect the outcome. Football was not the same as golf; these were professional games leading to a championship. He wouldn't feel right tampering with this. There was no extenuating reason to do it anyway, but he didn't think he'd do it even if there were.

There were seats for fewer than five-hundred people, he reckoned. Although the temperature was barely above freezing, this bright March day there was a good turnout, even supporters for the visiting team. Harry looked at the shining faces of the spectators, enjoying a fine spring day out, each cheering on their favorite football club, people whose lives did not include dementors or spies or dark wizards or initiation as Death Eaters. It was a fishing village. The people led simple lives, enlivened by a football game or going out to meet whichever fishing vessel had returned most recently, welcoming home sons and fathers and husbands. Harry was suddenly aware of an envy such as he had never felt well up in him. Oh, to be normal. To be unextraordinary. To be an oblivious Muggle, never suspecting the existence of the wizarding world, nor the horrors it contained. He had often longed to be an ordinary wizard in his old life, like Ron, rather than the famous Harry Potter. And in this life, he had had that for a while. But now--now he was infamous. He gazed round at the people watching the match. In all likelihood, he thought, very little has changed for them since I changed the timelines. The lives they're leading are probably virtually identical.

He had no way of proving this, of course, and knowing that there were numerous changes in the Muggle world, such as the wars in which Voldemort's heir had meddled, it was possible that this was not true. I've got to fix it somehow, he thought. Hopefully Draco will come to the cave....

Suddenly, he saw a familiar face on the other side of the pitch.

It was Roger Davies.

His heart leapt into his throat. What was Davies doing here? He remembered finding out that Cedric Diggory and Niamh Quirke where the young operatives who were at the initiation. He'd realized that that meant that poor Katie's child had a Death Eater for a father. Davies was wearing a long dark coat, his hands deep in his pockets, his eyes scanning the crowd. Harry tried not to panic. He stood behind a man who was shouting and waving a sign that read, "THE BROCH" in large sloppy letters. Now and then he glanced quickly around the wildly gesticulating Fraserburgh supporter. Davies hadn't seen him. Great, Harry thought. I have to worry about the Ministry, Dumbledore's operatives and Death Eaters. And of the three, the group that worried him the most was the Death Eaters, so naturally, the first person he saw pursuing him was Roger Davies....

Harry hadn't really been paying attention to the play. Suddenly, there was a crowd on the field, and everyone seemed to be screaming at everyone else. In the ensuing confusion, a player from the Broch was given a yellow card, one from Huntly was given a red card, and when the dust had settled and Harry looked again, Davies was gone.

He carefully walked back around the pitch when the match was over and made his way to MacRae's BMW in the car park, glancing furtively around him the whole time, prepared to respond in a split second should Davies leap out at him between the parked cars. But the only person who accosted him was MacRae, striding over to him with his brother-in-law by his side. The Broch had won, three-to-two. Thus MacRae was in far better spirits than his sister's husband, whose name was Dirk Menzies. Harry shook hands with him and confirmed that he needed a lift to Huntly, and before he knew it, he was bidding MacRae and Fraserburgh goodbye and boarding the team bus, relieved that he'd evaded the only other wizard in Fraserburgh.

A hulking forward immediately settled in the seat on the other side of the aisle from him, sweating profusely and draining a large clear plastic bottle of water in what seemed to be one gulp. He didn't introduce himself before asking abruptly, "Why Huntly?"

"I'm, um going to see some relatives," Harry stuttered.

He nodded, then suddenly turned to the driver, right in front of him, and as abruptly as he'd spoken to Harry, he said to the driver, "When we get to Banff, I want to stop at a sweet shop 'n' get me mum a birthday present. I forgot before."

The driver grumbled. "Stops for pissing and spewing only," he said mechanically. "Possibly also for bleedin'. Depends on how much. 'Sides, the shops'll be closed by the time we're in Banff."

The forward swore colorfully, then became wheedling. "Aw, Gordon, come on..."

Harry's heart was going a mile a minute in his chest. "Banff? Did you say Banff? I can't go to Banff...." he said without thinking, then realized this would sound very strange. The Auror with the Welsh accent had said that something like half the population of Banff was wizarding. Harry found it hard to believe that the Muggle half didn't suspect anything. Banff will be crawling with Aurors, he thought. "Couldn't we go another way?" Harry asked the driver now, although he knew already what the answer would probably be; the driver didn't seem like the most accommodating sort.

Then another player in the seat behind him sprung up. "Aye, Gordon! Let's take the A981 through Strichen. That passes about a mile from Carmichael. It'd be easy to get back on the A981 after stopping there."

The driver surveyed the second player with a jaundiced eye. "And what's in Carmichael, might I ask?" he drawled.

"My mum. Haven't seen'er in ages. Come on, Gordon...."

"We go the way we've always gone," he said loudly and firmly. He was making a proclamation. "We take the A98 to Banff, then the A97 through Aberchirder to Huntly. Anyone who has a problem with that can walk back, hear?"

They murmured assent, and Harry sank down into his seat. He would have to be very careful when they were passing through Banff. What if the Muggle police were blocking the roads and checking all vehicles? And by going back to the cave, he was literally returning to the scene of the crime. What if he went all that way only to discover Aurors waiting for him there?

He tried to put these thoughts out of his head as the trip began; the sun was going down now, and Harry stared at the western sky through the bus' front window. Twenty-four hours ago he was taking off from Azkaban. He'd been free for exactly one day, and he'd already seen a Death Eater who was obviously after him. Suddenly he was glad he'd escaped for a different reason; he would have been very vulnerable had he stayed in Azkaban. A Death Eater could have come for him at any time, and no doubt the dementors wouldn't have stopped the assassination of the disobedient servant of Lord Voldemort. And even if he hadn't been killed on the spot, they probably could have taken him easily enough to Voldemort, who would have been glad to do it himself....

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Now here he was, on a bus heading straight for a town that was half wizard. Really smart, Potter, he thought. But it would mean getting back to Hogwarts by the morning, and for free, so he tried to put these worries out of his head.

The bus roared onto the road to Banff.

* * * * *

Saying that the bus was heading "straight" for Banff was something of a misnomer; the road swerved about ten miles south of the coast before swinging north again, where it went through MacDuff before reaching the larger town of Banff. In the dim streetlights, Harry could see that the pavements were deserted, although it was early. The forward would have to get his mother a late birthday present.

They stopped at a pub to eat (Harry noticed that most of the players "ate" pints of ale for their dinner). Harry didn't want to spend too much of his money and settled on some chips and a Coke. After everyone had used the loo and they were boarding the bus again, two figures in long dark coats stopped them. It was a man and a woman; a very familiar man and woman.

The Longbottoms.

Damn! Harry thought. Those two are always showing up just when they're least welcome. Then he tried to imagine a time when he would welcome them, and realized how ridiculous that was. He had bought another serving of chips to take with him, and when he saw the Aurors, he clutched the greasy paper cone which held them, fear paralyzing him. He peered furtively around the large forward while Gemma Longbottom spoke to Dirk Menzies.

"Who are you lot?" she said, nodding at the team. Menzies looked back at her truculently.

"Huntly football club. Who's askin'?"

She pulled out a very official-looking card. "D.I. Longbottom."

Then her husband pulled out his card. "And D.C.I. Longbottom. We have just a few questions for you."

Hmm. She was pretending to be a Detective Inspector, and he was pretending to be a Detective Chief Inspector. That was rather a high rank, Harry knew; then he thought, Not very bright. It wouldn't be hard to check with the local constabulary to find out who all of the D.C.I.s were. But, as offended as Menzies looked at being stopped, he also didn't seem to be the sort to check later on whether he'd been accosted by real police, rather than impostors. The cards had been handed over very casually, and Menzies hadn't given them a second glance. They looked like they'd done this hundreds of times, as though they were rather bored with it, really.

"We're looking for a young man who was being held in a juvenile detention centre," Neville's mother said, handing him a photograph. Harry held his breath, but Menzies just shrugged and handed it back to her. "Despite top security," she continued, "he managed to escape. He's very dangerous--killed his own mother, who use to work with us here."

Now Menzies opened his eyes wide and stared at them. "His mum was a copper and he killed her?"

Gemma Longbottom nodded. "The name's Harry Potter. Six foot one, thirteen stone, short black hair, clean shaven, glasses."

Harry quickly took off his glasses and put them in his jacket pocket. "Potter, eh? Well, all we have here is our football club. Oh, except for this one bloke--but he's just me brother-in-law's caddie. From Surrey. Gettin' a lift to visit relatives in Huntly. But he's got this long braid down 'is back, and a big bushy beard...." He pantomimed the size of the beard.

Frank Longbottom shook his head. "No, that's not him. Sorry to bother you," he said, turning with his wife and walking toward some people coming out of another pub across the street.

Harry hurried onto the bus with the others, trying not to show how nervous he was, willing the Longbottoms to stay were they were, questioning some young women across the street. The bus roared away again, and Harry put his glasses back on, so he could see the Longbottoms as they grew smaller and smaller.

Well, he thought. So far that's a Death Eater and two Aurors. I definitely made the right choice to ride with the football club. They had switched to the A97, heading south-by-southwest into the darkness. Harry sighed, leaning back and closing his eyes. Will I be able to do this? he wondered.

He listed in his mind the things he had to do.

One: Reach the cave in the foothills.
Two: Convince Draco to come with me and to write in the diary, guided by me, so we can feed Riddle misinformation.
Three: Go to Dover. Retrieve Voldemort's wand.
Four: Go to Godric's Hollow in Wales.
Five: Continue to have Draco write in the diary until Tom Riddle is strong enough to emerge from its pages.
Six: Convince Riddle to perform the Tempus Bonae Voluntatis spell.
Seven: Convince the me from September first not to change the timeline.

Oh, and do something to prevent Voldemort from changing it too. He'd almost forgotten about that. Voldemort had of course stood by before and watched Harry put Imperius on his mother because Harry was doing just what Voldemort wanted him to do. Now...now he would have to do something to keep him from interfering, too. And yet--he would also have to keep Voldemort from being seen, so that a mere glimpse of him by a person in that time wouldn't alter past events from the way they'd first played out, when both of Harry's parents were killed.

The list depressed him. It was too daunting. How would he pull it off? He had just under one hundred pounds and he had to practically take a tour of the island of Great Britain. Sure, sometimes he could fly. He could even carry Draco as a griffin and he probably wouldn't be slowed down too much. But it would help a great deal to know people in the Muggle world who might help him....

And then it came to him: the Muggle-borns! He knew where Ruth was, and Hermione, and Alicia, and Maggie....He never had found Dean's house in London, but Hermione and Maggie were in London, so he certainly wouldn't need three people there. He knew that Justin was at Eton, but security would no doubt be very tight because of the princes. Plus, he had the feeling that Justin was hacked off at him for the Liam thing.

Right. They needed to get to Ruth, then Alicia, then--

Oh shit. The Muggle-borns would have heard the reports about his escape as well. They would all think he was a killer. He swallowed. Hermione thinks I'm a murderer. Well, he thought, somehow he had to convince them that the trial was a farce. I'll be traveling with Draco, he thought, and the others had met him; perhaps he can explain to them my situation before they see me and panic....

Which made it even more imperative that Draco agree to go with him. He tried to imagine Draco traveling as a Muggle, hiding and sneaking around....He'll be grousing in no time. Harry sighed and leaned back as the bus hurtled into the night, wishing it were Ron who was going to be his traveling companion. The Ron from his old life. Even though they'd landed in hot water, it had been great fun flying the Ford Anglia to school at the beginning of their second year. He missed Ron so much....He tried not to blame the Ron in this life for what he'd said at the trial. He also tried not to think about how Ron was probably feeling right now, with Ginny really dead....Then he found himself thinking of it too, he couldn't help it. He remembered, as best he could, every moment they'd ever spent together, even when he was still stalking her and she'd repeatedly snubbed him. He remembered her putting her arms around him when she was apologizing for the bet, and taking off her smock in the dark infirmary....

"Aberchirder! Petrol and loo stop!" the driver cried. The players groaned and stood, stretching and flexing their aching muscles. The driver was already on the ground, talking with a man in a greasy jumpsuit about the right sort of petrol for the bus. Harry joined the line of tired footballers waiting for the loo, shivering in the dark, trying not to be paranoid about the hulking shapes of the pumps. A man could hide behind one of those easily, he found himself thinking. He felt very jumpy.

No one seemed to be following him in Aberchirder, but then, they didn't stay long. Harry remembered the long list of coastal communities that were supposed to be on the lookout for Harry Potter. Perhaps they're not looking inland yet, he thought. He wondered briefly whether he and Draco should head back to the coast and try to get jobs on a fishing vessel, but he decided that if anyone in pursuit did discover them there, they'd be trapped. Unless he changed into a griffin and flew, and if he did that they'd know he was an Animagus. Plus, he didn't think he would be able to fly fast enough to outstrip wizards who could Apparate.

He let himself doze off as the bus pulled out of Aberchirder, and it felt like only seconds later someone was shaking his shoulder and saying, "Huntly." His eyes flew open and he looked around. The bus was parked at the edge of a large square surrounded by stoic grey stone buildings. Harry shook his head to clear it. "This is where yer going, ain't it?"

Harry nodded sleepily and stood, a yawn suddenly overtaking him. When he was standing on the pavement, the other men started moving toward their cars, preparing to drive home, although some simply began to move off on foot. Menzies stayed until everyone was off the bus, then paid the driver. When the bus roared off, the coach noticed that Harry was still standing aimlessly nearby, and he frowned.

"Know where yer goin'?"

Harry hugged himself to keep warm; he strongly suspected it was below freezing now. "Well, my relatives don't live in Huntly, precisely. This is the nearest town. I need directions to the village of Rhynie, near the Clash. That's the closest village to here that's also near the forest, right?" He remembered Ron's false testimony again.

"Well, not really. Gartly's closer to the forest...."

"Gartly!" Harry said suddenly. "Of course, what was I thinking? They live in Gartly." He hoped Menzies didn't think this was odd. "But the thing is--I don't know how to get to Gartly."

Harry listened attentively while Menzies talked about taking this road and that, until he stopped, realizing that Harry didn't have a car.

"Oh, bloody hell. Get in me car. I'll drive ye."

Harry climbed in the car gratefully. He felt ill suddenly, as though he shouldn't have eaten the greasy chips. They probably hadn't changed the oil in the fryer in five years, he thought, as he broke out in a sweat. Then he realized that the center of the pain wasn't his stomach; it was his left arm. His forearm had started a low-level throbbing, and his breathing grew ragged as he realized what that meant. Voldemort was going to call on all of the Death Eaters.

He hadn't been found yet, so more people were needed. Harry remembered how they'd run Karkaroff to ground, then put him on the rock....

As Menzies drove, Harry felt himself shaking more and more. The pain was growing more intense. Finally, a pain that was both sharp and burning attacked his arm, and he cried out, holding his forearm cradled against him, sweat dripping off his nose.

Menzies was startled and swerved to the right momentarily. Harry looked up in alarm, seeing headlights coming right at them, and right behind the headlights, a large white lorry. Menzies hurriedly swung the wheel over and had them back on the left side of the road before the lorry passed them, a strong breeze whistling past the car windows as it sped by, and the driver leaned on his horn in anger. He probably thought he was going to kill us, Harry thought. He was still breathing raggedly, from the pain in his arm and now the near-collision. Menzies scowled at him.

"What's the matter with you?" he cried, a mix of anger and concern lacing his voice.

"I'm--I'm all right now. I'm sorry. It--it caught me by surprise. I--I got a seizure. In my arm."

"A seizure? You mean like epilepsy? Is that why ye don't drive?"

"Um, not exactly. Well, sort of. All right. It's probably the best way to think of it."

"I thought people with seizures got all white at the mouth and rollin' on the ground."

"There's all kinds of seizures." Harry had actually heard his Aunt Petunia talking about this once. She was mocking a neighbor who had said her daughter didn't have epilepsy; that term wasn't used any more. She had a "seizure disorder." Aunt Petunia wasn't kind about it; she as much as implied that the woman's daughter shouldn't come near Dudley so he wouldn't catch it.

"They don't say epilepsy any more," he said, remembering. "They say 'seizure disorder.'"

Menzies grunted and kept his eyes steadfastly on the road; he evidently didn't care what it was called as long as it didn't make him drive his car into the front grille of a lorry. Harry resisted the urge to push up his sleeve and look at the Dark Mark; he didn't want Menzies to see it. Harry wondered where Voldemort was gathering them. At Dover again, perhaps? Or maybe somewhere in Scotland, since that was where people were searching for him. Perhaps some place nearby....

He was panicking again; he tried to breath calmly, cradling his arm and watching the small patch of road illuminated by Menzies' headlights. It was mildly disorienting to Harry, only seeing about ten yards ahead. At length, they came to a small house; it took Harry a moment to see that it had a sign outside it that said The Clash. Appropriate name for a pub here, he thought. There was a small car park, and Menzies pulled in.

Harry's breathing was regular now, but he couldn't believe what he'd gone through in the past day. Flying to Fraserburgh from Azkaban, setting off an alarm in a museum, working as a caddie and cheating for his boss, dodging around and hoping no one connected him with the descriptions of Harry Potter on the news, seeing Roger Davies at the football match and the Longbottoms outside the pub in Banff. Now, the Dark Mark assaulting him with pain as deep as what he'd felt when it was first burned into him. He felt weary down to his very bones, and yet he still couldn't rest. Not until he reached the cave....

He turned to Menzies. "I don't know how to thank you," he said, meaning every word. "I'll be fine now, I'm sure. The sign says they do rooms, so I'll just stay here tonight and go looking for my relatives in the morning. You've been very helpful." He shook his hand and Menzies nodded. Harry noted that when he was standing on the car park's gravel, Menzies didn't drive off. He seemed to be waiting for Harry to do something. Pretending he didn't care, Harry strode toward the pub, hands deep in the pockets of the tweed jacket. Oh well, he thought. I can get something in the pub and then nip out and find the forest...Too bad they probably don't have butterbeer here....

But the moment he walked into the pub, he saw that he was in trouble again.

Looking like Davy White, but wearing old, worn-looking Muggle clothes, Albus Dumbledore sat at the end of the bar, listening to a young man speaking earnestly to him about an investment program. A large brown mastiff lounged on the floor under their feet, his head on his paws, a sleepy expression in its eyes. Harry turned on his heel, hoping Dumbledore hadn't seen him, and bolted out again. Harry dreaded explaining this to Menzies, but he could see his car moving along the road back to Huntly again, and Harry heaved a sigh of relief. He walked around behind the pub, finding that it backed up very close to the forest, and Harry entered it; waiting until he was at least ten yards inside the trees, he transformed into the griffin, and continued to walk through the forest, now with the rolling gait of a lion. When he found himself in a clearing, he finally spread his wings and took off, spiraling upward, until he was over the trees, flying toward--

Hogwarts castle.

He could see it in the distance, just like when he'd gone through the forest the other time and come out the other side, to the Muggle village (probably Gartly, he realized now). It looked wonderful and welcoming. It looked like home. He didn't know whether griffins ever wept, but he felt like weeping as he flew toward the glowing towers and turrets and parapets....

But as he drew nearer and near, he almost stopped and transformed in the air, he was so shocked. He fell for a second before he remembered to keep moving his wings. He remembered that he wasn't actually supposed to be flying back to the castle, and he swerved to aim for the foothills. When he landed outside the cave, he transformed back into this human form and gazed down in horror at Hogwarts.

Dementors. Dementors were everywhere. In the flaring torches on the stone walls he could see that they surrounded the castle. They lined the edge of the forest. He could see their outlines behind the parapets, eerily backlit by more torches. That meant they were even in the castle, something Dumbledore had never allowed when he was headmaster. He'd said that he thought McGonagall was an able administrator, but had he agreed with her on this? Did he hate Harry that much? Even when he still thought Sirius was the one who'd betrayed Harry's parents and killed a street full of Muggles, he hadn't gone that far.

Harry ducked into the cave and groped his way to the end of its long arm, finding with his hands the small cairn of rocks under which he'd buried his wand. He scrabbled frantically to move them, and when his fingers curled around the familiar, worn wood of his own wand he thought he would cry. There; that's better. Let dementors come, he thought. I can conjure a Patronus now....

He leaned against the cave wall in the dark, not daring to light his wand lest the glow show even a little at the mouth of the cave, and someone in the distance saw it. Now he just needed for Draco to come. Maybe tomorrow, he thought. There were no classes. It would be Sunday. Please Draco, please do what I asked....

But then he remembered the dementors. He remembered that when he'd wanted to go into Hogsmeade, he'd had to use the tunnel that went to Honeyduke's, because dementors can sense someone even when they were under an Invisibility Cloak. Harry hoped Draco knew that, and that he'd use the map to find the best tunnel to take into Hogsmeade, then turn back to the foothills to reach the cave. The foothills weren't on the grounds of Hogwarts, so the dementors wouldn't block his way if he were coming from the village.

Harry put his wand into his pocket and changed into a griffin again, curling up to sleep, remembering his close calls with Davies, the Longbottoms and Dumbledore, and then thinking the same thing over and over....

Please, Draco. Please, Draco. Please....

* * * * *

In the stark light of morning, Harry sat up and changed into his human form. He could think more clearly this way. Draco might come any time, and he wanted to look like himself, even if he was hairier than usual. The beard was uncomfortable and he longed to get rid of it, but he didn't dare. When his stomach made complaining noises, he wished he'd bought something to eat at the pub where Menzies had left him, taking the chance that Dumbledore wouldn't recognize him. Then he thought about the fact that it was Dumbledore, and realized he'd done the right thing to make a quick exit. Just because it had taken him so long to realize that Dick was really Aberforth and Davy was really Dumbledore didn't mean the former headmaster was so thick he wouldn't recognize Harry with long hair and a beard.

Hour stretched into lonely hour. Harry fought the temptation to step outside the cave to see what the dementors were up to. He didn't dare, without the cover of the dark.

At last, he thought he heard something. Footsteps, then after the sound of someone slipping and falling, swearing. He smiled. That was Draco's voice. He heard scuffling, which he assumed was Draco crawling into the cave still wearing the Invisibility Cloak. Then he heard a gasp. Harry lit his wand so he could see, and Draco took off the Invisibility Cloak.

"You did it! You really did it!" Harry nodded, so grateful he had such a good friend. "Your dad--well, he was afraid--"


Draco looked apprehensive, but he dove in anyway. "He was afraid they were just covering up for the Death Eaters. Claiming that you'd escaped, so no one would know--"

"That they'd killed me. Yeah, I thought of that myself, after I'd been out for almost a day. When I saw Roger Davies."

"Davies? How did you do it? Where did you go?"

Harry gave him a brief version of his adventures since escaping. Draco laughed over the golf, wishing he'd seen Urquhart's face when his shots all went wild. He didn't laugh, however, when he heard about the Longbottoms, nor when he heard about Dumbledore being in the Muggle pub on the other side of the forest.

"Damn! I can't believe you went through all that and still got here. And you have some Muggle money."

"Well, almost a hundred pounds may sound like a lot, but it's got to get us all the way to London, and then Dover, and then Wales."


Harry stared at him. "Why--why did you think I asked you to do this?"

Draco took the diary out of his robes. "I thought you wanted this. Don't know why, though. Didn't you tell me no one should write in that?"

"I know I did. But that's just because--because it can be dangerous. If someone's not watching you and guiding you..."

Draco frowned. "I don't get it. What're you going to do with it?" Harry looked at him. Suddenly, he couldn't do it. He couldn't ask his best friend to sacrifice himself this way. There had to be some other way, some other person....Draco continued to look at him. "What's wrong, Harry?"

"A basilisk," he said weakly. Draco tensed up.

"What did you say?"

"A basilisk. There's a basilisk in the castle. Remember that I told you--"

"Oh," he breathed with relief. "Right. I remember now."

"Yes. Writing in the diary--when you do that, Tom Riddle becomes stronger."

"Tom Riddle? Is that who T.M. Riddle is, then? And what happens when he becomes stronger?"

"Eventually--he can leave the diary. Take on solid form again. Do things."

"Do things?"

"Yes. But before that, he can also control the person writing in the diary. Make them do things like kill all the roosters, open the Chamber of Secrets, let the basilisk loose...."

Draco opened his eyes wide in understanding now. "You mean you get sort of hypnotized by writing in it, and controlled long-distance by this Riddle person--"

"Not long distance. The real Riddle has no idea it's going on. Riddle is a memory, magically living in the pages of the diary. When you write something on a page, the page absorbs it and Riddle writes back an answer which appears for a little while before disappearing. That's why all the pages look blank."

Draco still looked dissatisfied. "Okay, so I understand how the diary works now, but what I don't understand is who this Riddle is, and why you want to make him strong enough to come out of the diary. And what happens to you if you're giving all your strength to him?"

Harry took a deep breath. "Tom Riddle is Voldemort. When he was sixteen. That was his name. He was a prefect in Slytherin. Became Head Boy. While he was in school he opened the Chamber of Secrets and let the basilisk loose, and someone else was expelled for it. But through the diary, it could all happen again. And what happens to the person who writes in the diary is--well, they become a shell. Eventually, they might die, I don't know. If the diary is destroyed, they're all right again, they get their strength back."

"And you wanted to do this why?"

Harry choked, "Not me. You. I was going to ask you to do it. So I could do a spell with Riddle. That's why I hid Voldemort's wand. That's why we have to go to Dover, to get it back so Riddle can use his proper wand. Only--only I can't now. I can't ask you to do this. It isn't right...." He looked helplessly at his friend. Draco sat down on the floor of the cave with a thump, his mouth open.

"But--but--you still haven't said why? What's this spell you want to do with Voldemort? I mean, Riddle?" Draco looked amazed that Harry wanted to do anything with anyone remotely related to Voldemort.

Harry looked at his best friend. "Draco. You have to believe me when I tell you that I'm not crazy. Do you believe me?"

Draco looked puzzled. "Well--I guess."

Harry took a deep breath, and told him about his parents both being killed on Halloween night in 1981. He told him about Voldemort losing his powers and disappearing when he'd tried to kill Harry, about going to live with the Dursleys. He told him about Hagrid bringing him his Hogwarts letter and going to Diagon Alley; he told him about the Triwizard Tournament and what happened when he and Cedric touched the cup that was actually a Portkey. He told Draco that he'd put his own father in Azkaban and that he and Harry were becoming friends, although they hadn't liked each other much before. He told him about the summer at Mrs. Figg's, gardening and running and finding out that they'd played together when they were small.

Then he told him about September first. "I shouldn't have done it. I know that now. But--but I just couldn't bear to watch her die. And knowing that if she lived, I'd also have a sister--"

"Jamie," Draco breathed softly. Harry nodded.

"In the other time, Jamie was never born. But--but you do have a girlfriend. And--" he stammered now, "you love each other very much." His voice was very soft, thinking of Ginny, remembering the last time he'd held her, kissing her goodbye in the caretaker's office....Draco sat still, staring at the cave wall. "Draco?" Harry said tentatively. Draco's head whipped around abruptly.

"Yes," he said, sounding distracted. He seemed to be thinking, considering something. "So," he said finally, "you want to perform the same spell with Riddle that you performed with Voldemort, to get back to that night--"

"And prevent my other self from cursing my mother and saving her."

"But--but you--you already killed your mum," he whispered. "I mean--it was an accident, yeah, but still--"

Harry swallowed. "I know," he said, barely able to get the words out. "Don't you think--don't you think I've thought of that? But--but this world was never meant to be. It needs to be changed back. I told Dumbledore--"

"Dumbledore knows?"

Harry nodded. "I'm sure that's why he had Ron lie at the trial. He told me I shouldn't mess with time any more. And I know that's a good policy to have in general, and I wish I'd refused Voldemort, but I didn't, and now everything's just gone to hell..." He trailed off, trying not to break down, feeling utterly helpless and hopeless. Then he noticed that Draco had a faraway look in his eyes.

"That's how you did everything," he said suddenly.


"From your other life. You said you won the Triwizard Tournament when you were a fourth-year. You learned to be an Animagus. You knew all those Muggle-borns in your other life, didn't you? The spells, the people--all this time, whenever Jamie and Ginny and I were saying, 'How do you know?' and you said, 'I can't tell you,' it was because of the other time, wasn't it? Wasn't it?"

Harry nodded. Draco was quiet again. "So," he finally said. "If I write in the diary, with you telling me what to write and keeping an eye on me so I don't do things like killing roosters and setting a basilisk loose, I can give Riddle enough strength to come out of the diary and do this spell with you, right?"

"Well--but I said I'd changed my mind. I'll--I'll find another way to do it. Something that doesn't require you to sacrifice yourself--"

"No." Draco's voice was suddenly very firm.


"I said 'No.' I'll do it. I'll write in the diary. Don't feel guilty over me, Harry..."

"But--but I don't want to put you through that. You're my best friend..."

"Harry!" Draco cried, looking angry now. "Listen to me. I'm no friend. I did something horrible, something unforgivable. And because I did it, all of this mess has happened. It's all my fault, all of it. And I thought losing Jamie was my punishment--" his voice caught, and Harry saw a tear roll down his cheek. "I--I haven't been able to sleep since it happened. I would have thrown myself off the West Tower last night, but I would have had to get past dementors to do it, and they looked really eager to kiss someone. I wanted to be dead, not soulless...."

"What are you talking about? It was Ron Weasley who came out of hiding and--"

"No, it was before that. I did something--Weasley wouldn't have done what he did if it weren't for me--"

Harry frowned. "What are you talking about?"

Draco shook his head. "I can't tell you. I'm too ashamed. Just let me do this, Harry. To pay you back. Let me make up for what I did."

Harry was speechless. He hadn't expected this. What could Draco have done? But he didn't ask; he knew Draco wasn't ready to tell him. "You--you wanted to kill yourself?"

Draco nodded, looking down at his hands. "Jamie was--she was--without her--" He couldn't speak, and then he finally broke down, and Harry thought of Ginny again, and suddenly, the two friends, were clinging to each other and crying over the girls they loved, mourning them without shame, until they were purged and achieved a kind of catharsis. At length, they each sat back, wiping their eyes on their sleeves. Harry stared at Draco, who suddenly seemed much older, and possessing a firm resolve. He wanted to die rather than live without Jamie, and by giving his strength to Riddle, he could help Harry fix the timelines, and live a life where he'd never known Jamie or the heartbreak of losing her. Harry couldn't speak.

Suddenly, the hair stood up on the back of his neck, and he instinctively stood and took his wand out of his pocket, looking toward the cave entrance. Draco turned and stood also, taking out his own wand. Harry heard a high whining sound, growing nearer and nearer, then the unmistakable noise of a hound baying.

The mastiff he'd seen in The Clash entered the cave, his nose to the ground. Harry braced himself; he'd been found. The dog was Dumbledore's; he must have been using it to track Harry. The large canine sat down comfortably, looking at the two of them, tense and with their wands out, with an expression of extreme unconcern on its fleshy face. They waited. And waited. Where was Dumbledore? Harry wondered. What's going on?

Then Harry laughed, breaking the tension. "I've been running since sundown on Friday. All right, I was technically flying at that time. But I've gotten very jumpy. I can't believe a dog is making me act like this..."

Draco sighed with relief and walked tentatively over to the dog, holding out his hand for it to sniff. After the dog had approved him, he let Draco rub him behind the ears and pat his flank. "He's nice. Reminds me of some of the dogs Dad keeps. Hunting hounds."

Harry nodded. "I just panicked because a dog that looked just like that was in that pub last night with Dumbledore."

Draco looked up at Harry. "So. You said we have to get to London. Let's think about that first. How do we do it?"

Harry grimaced. "Well, I want to see how much it will cost for the two of us to get the train from Huntly. Maybe we can get as far as Edinburgh. We want to go as far and as fast as possible. Getting out of Scotland as soon as we can needs to be our top priority. We'll make stops along the way, of course. Ruth Pelta lives in Manchester, and if we can convince her not to panic and call the Muggle police, she might help us. And Alicia Spinnett is in Sywell, near Northampton. And we can go to Hermione in London. You can stay with her while I go to Dover and back on my own. After that, we'll go to Wales. While I'm going to Dover, you and Hermione can go to the Library and research the exact location of Godric's Hollow. I think it's probably pretty close to Cardiff, because of things my mum has said, but I want to really know where I'm going."

"Makes sense," he nodded.

"And we'll need some camping equipment. For Godric's Hollow."

"Camping equipment?"

"We'll need to settle in for a while, until Riddle gets strong enough. I don't know how long it'll take."

"Oh." Draco looked like he hadn't counted on camping in April. When the morning dawned, it would be the last day of March, and then April started on Tuesday. Ginny's birthday. If she were alive, it would have been her sixteenth birthday....

No, he thought. She is alive. In the other time. She has to be. She just has to be...

But this thought was abruptly drowned out by his shock. He stared at the space next to the dog. The air was shimmering strangely, and when it stopped, Albus Dumbledore was standing there, looking like Davy White. Unlike the previous evening, when he'd seen him in the pub, he was wearing wizard's robes. Harry's jaw hung open. He remembered Dumbledore saying once that he didn't need a cloak to be invisible. No! he thought again, for a different reason. It can't be!

"Hello, Harry," he said placidly, smiling. Harry felt like he couldn't breathe.

"No!" he cried aloud now, unable to do anything but stare at the old wizard. Draco however, was not as paralyzed.

"You old bastard!" he cried, his tears for Jamie dry now, as he whipped out his wand and pointed it at Dumbledore. "You framed Harry!"

"I protected a number of people by doing so," he said, still very calm, ignoring Draco's wand. "But I also protected Harry. I was aware of several Death Eaters who were under orders to kill him if he was acquitted. Even now, they are looking for him as diligently as the Aurors from the Ministry of Magic."

"And you," Harry said finally, angry. "You were using that dog to track me."

Dumbledore shrugged. "Sometimes simple Muggle methods work best. Not that it was easy to track a golden griffin, especially one in flight, but I also had a feeling you would come back here..."

Harry gasped, then remembered the time he'd transformed, then looked up to see the caretaker standing at the open back door of Hagrid's old cabin. He'd wondered whether Dumbledore had seen him change, and now he knew....

He sat down wearily, defeated. "I know you think I shouldn't change the timelines...."

"On the contrary, Harry. I wanted to make sure you were really sure about it. You needed someone to give you the other side, to play devil's advocate. You needed to firm up your resolve. You've lived in this life while being aware of your other life for seven months now. I thought that if you really wanted to change it back, you would have done it already. I suppose I wasn't convinced you really wanted to do this."

"And now?"

"And now I am. You've changed, Harry. You've grown."

"Yeah, that'll happen when you get sent to Azkaban when you're sixteen," he said bitterly, unwilling to give the old man the respect he'd previously enjoyed. "That'll happen when the one person you trust above all else stabs you in the back..."

Dumbledore shook his head. "I did what I had to do, Harry. And you did what I suspected you'd be able to do when you escaped. Do you know no one else has ever managed to do that?"

Harry brushed this off. "I know, I know. That still doesn't--I mean, you could have told me that--"

"No," he said firmly. "I couldn't. I did try to convince you to escape from the holding cell at the Ministry. I was serious about that. But you refused. So the alternative was to help Crouch convict you, so you'd be safe in Azkaban until you decided that you really needed to fix the timelines...."

"Fix--so you're really not going to stop me? I thought you said--"

"Devil's advocate, Harry. Devil's advocate." Harry stared at him.

"So you want me to do this?"

"Yes, Harry. As you said, this world wasn't meant to be. And when you've done that--"


"Promise me you'll never tamper with time again?"

Harry thought of the Time Turner and the Tempus Fugit spell that had allowed him to hide Voldemort's wand and save Ginny's life. "Well--I promise never to do this spell again."

Dumbledore smiled ruefully. "At least you're being honest."

"I couldn't anyway--it works best with brother wands, and in my old life, I would still need to do it with Voldemort, which is something I do not want to do again...."

"So," Dumbledore said musingly, "you have Voldemort's wand stashed away at Dover?"

"Um, yeah. Right."

"I see. You realize, of course, that he has figured out that he no longer has his proper wand, and that it was not Barty Crouch, Jr. who took it, don't you?"

Harry swallowed. "Oh. He does?"

Dumbledore nodded. "Why do you think the Death Eaters are after you?"

Harry shook. Oh dear. Would he be able to get to the wand? Or would Death Eaters be all over the place at Dover?

He lifted his eyes to the old man he had cursed numerous times since being sent to prison, the old wizard about whom he no longer had any good or positive thoughts, because the dementors had sucked them all out of him.

"Please," he said softly to him, looking into his eyes pleadingly. "Please help me."

* * * * *

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