Pairing: Harry Potter/Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley/Neville Longbottom, Ron Weasley/Luna Lovegood
Rating: T (for now)
Warnings: swearing, minor character death, off-screen slash, mentions of abuse, bashing
Summary: Harry and his friends are cornered. Going through the veil seems like their only option. This leads the six of them on to new adventures where they will learn about each other and about themselves. H/HG R/L N/G. AU Following the Battle at the DoM. Title translation: “Know Thyself” Not Abandoned, Very Slow Updates
“Teamwork requires some sacrifice up front; people who work as a team have to put the collective needs of the group ahead of their individual interests.” Patrick Lencioni
Standard Disclaimer: JKR owns Harry and co. I own nothing.
It took a minute for Harry to come to terms with the fact that he was on the other end of Albus Dumbledore’s wand. It was a place he never really imagined finding himself in, at least outside of a training exercise; that is if the Headmaster ever decided to train him to fight Voldemort. Harry scoffed internally at that idea, knowing that for whatever reason, training was never going to come his way.
The words that came out of the Headmaster’s mouth first brought Harry out of his shock. “Who are you? How did you get here?”
“Professor! It’s me, Harry Potter.”
“Nonsense. Harry Potter is sitting right over there at the Gryffindor table. Now, who are you?” Dumbledore asked again more forcefully, the end of his wand glowing red.
Harry looked at Hermione, who had bravely come to stand beside him. “I’m Harry, professor. I’m sorry, I’m not sure what’s going on. We were in the Ministry, fighting Death Eaters, we were surrounded so went through this veil-like thing, and then we’re here. Wait…did you say there was another Harry Potter already here?”
Harry strained his neck to look over the Headmaster’s shoulder, trying to find the other person who claimed to be him.
Harry froze when he saw Professors Snape and McGonagall coming towards the spot where Dumbledore still held them at wand-point. He froze because of the third person coming with them. He’d recognize that head of red hair anywhere. It couldn’t be her though. It couldn’t be!
Neville figured that they were in the Forbidden Forest, though how they got there, he didn’t know. It was also obviously the middle of the day, despite the darkness of the forest surrounding them. He knew they had gotten to the Ministry building quite late in the evening, and that the fight between them and the Death Eaters couldn’t have taken more than a few hours. It should have still been quite dark outside, but the sun was for sure shining down upon him and Ginny.
At one time he would have been quite happy to be stranded somewhere with the petite young witch. He had, after all, asked her to the ball. But that had all changed. He could tell that she only had eyes for Harry Potter and that he didn’t stand a chance of ever catching her attention. He could also tell that she wasn’t at all happy to have gone through the veil with him instead of Harry. Personally, he thought that they had much bigger things to worry about, like why the hell they had ended up in the Forbidden Forest during a completely different time of the day, and why they were alone instead of with their other friends.
“What should we do,” Ginny asked softly.
“If I had to guess, we’re in the Forbidden Forest. At least I hope we are. If we’re in some other wood, we’re going to have a much bigger problem. Let’s see if we can head towards Hogwarts. Maybe the others came out in different places and will meet us there.”
Ginny nodded. “Which direction?”
“That’s a good question. The forest surrounds Hogwarts on two sides, so we either need to go South or East. Our best luck,” Neville continued, “will be to find the Black Lake. So we should find a stream or something, as it will likely empty into the lake.”
Neville was happy he’d let Hermione talk him into reading those adventure books or he wouldn’t have had a clue as to how to navigate. He was like most purebloods who had either used the floo their entire lives or had traveled through apparition.
“Well,” Ginny said, sighing. “Lead on. The sooner we get back, the better. We need to find the others so that we can alert the Order.”
With that the two teenagers set off towards the South, each hoping that they were close to Hogwarts.
“This looks like Hogwarts,” Ron said looking around. “Let’s go see if we can find the others.”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Luna said softly.
“What? Why?” Ron said, his ears going pink. He didn’t like when people disagreed with him.
“I don’t think we’re in the same world,” Luna said. Normally she would have said something about Blibbering Humdingers or Nattering Nomps or even Wrackspurts, but she was scared. Her vision, which had been so silent for the last few weeks, was showing her a world that was completely unlike the one that they had just left behind. She was sure that they weren’t in the same Hogwarts that they attended. This Hogwarts was abandoned, and for reasons she wasn’t quite ready to understand. Something was very dark about this world, that was something that was coming through loud and clear.
“What nonsense is that? Luna, we don’t have time for you to be barmy,” Ron said angrily.
Normally, this would have hurt Luna’s feelings, but she had other things to worry about. “I’m not being barmy, Ronald Weasley. Something is going on. First off, where is that arch thing we just passed through? It should be here. We were in the Ministry, not Hogwarts. And this doesn’t look like the Hogwarts that we attend. Things look older, don’t they?”
Ron grumbled a bit before looking around. The furniture did look different than what was in the Hogwarts he was used to, but he wouldn’t have said it was older, just different. After all, most of the furniture in Hogwarts was centuries old as it was.
“It does look different,” he finally replied grudgingly. He was getting pretty irritated that he was stuck with Loony Lovegood of all people. She had always had a way of getting under his skin in the most annoying ways, and it made him supremely uncomfortable when he was forced to be alone with her.
“So, what do we do?” Ron asked, after working through his temper. He knew he wasn’t the smartest guy ever, but if what Loony was saying was true, they were in some serious trouble. Now was not the time to yell at the barmy blonde that he was standing next to.
“I don’t know. The others aren’t here, and that’s troubling. We all exited at the same time, more or less, so we should all be in the same spot.” Luna stamped her foot in frustration. “This makes no sense.”
“We have to do something!” Ron exclaimed. “We can’t just sit in this dusty classroom for the rest of our lives. Come on, let’s go see what else is different about this Hogwarts.”
Luna sighed. “Okay. But I’m telling you, we’re probably going to regret this. The Humdingers are telling me that we need to run as far away as possible.”
Ron just scoffed then led the way out of the classroom they had appeared in.
“I don’t know who you are, young man, but I am not your ‘mum.”
Harry rocked back on his heels as if slapped. It was like his worst nightmare coming true. He had finally come face to face with his mother only to have her reject him. He felt Hermione grab his hand, but he couldn’t focus on that. The only thing he could focus on was the red-headed woman in front of him who was currently glaring at him fiercely.
“Harry, something else is going on here,” Hermione whispered in his ear. She squeezed his hand hard, trying to urge him out of his shock and despair. “Harry!”
Harry turned to his best friend. Her grip on his hand was the only thing that was keeping him on his feet. “Hermione?”
“I don’t think we’re in our Hogwarts.”
“Excuse me, but I’d like to know just who the hell you are!” Lily Potter shouted, her temper getting the best of her.
“I’d second that,” Dumbledore said.
Snape just sneered while McGonagall just looked worried.
“I swear, Professors, I’m Harry Potter. This is Hermione Granger.” Harry took a deep breath, trying to keep his wits about him. He knew that Hermione was right. Something was wrong here. Lily Potter was dead and had been for well over a decade. She wasn’t coming back. But here she was, still glaring at him like he’d somehow lost his nose and turned into Voldemort. “We were just fighting Death Eaters in the Ministry. We were surrounded, so we went through this veil thing, and we ended up here. I…I don’t know what’s going on. M…my mother died when I was a baby, that was why I was so shocked to see…see her.”
Dumbledore studied them for a few moments before saying, “I’m going to have to ask the two of you to surrender your wands. I promise no harm will come to you if you are who you say you are.”
Harry looked at Hermione, asking her what she wanted to do. From where he was standing, he didn’t think they had much choice. He slowly reversed his wand (which was still in his hand from the fight at the Ministry) and offered it to the Headmaster. Hermione grimaced but did the same. Dumbledore took their wands and tucked them into one of the pockets on his flamboyant robes.
“Now if you’d follow me to my office, we’ll get this sorted out. Minerva, if you could see to the rest of the students here and make sure everyone gets back to their houses safely, then join us. And make sure Mr. Potter and his friends are where they are supposed to be as well.”
“Of course, Headmaster.” With that McGonagall turned around and went back to the head table, while the rest of the group followed Dumbledore out of the Great Hall. Harry and Hermione were in the center of the procession with Lily Potter and Snape following behind, both with their wands out and pointed at the two teenager’s backs.
Hermione, still holding onto Harry’s hand for dear life, leaned closer and whispered, “This is so not good.”
The entire castle was empty. There were no students, no professors, no ghosts. Nobody. Even the portraits were gone. It was supremely eerie. There were other differences too. For one, the staircases didn’t move. There were no missing steps. It was almost as if Hogwarts Castle hadn’t ever seen magic at all.
“This place is creeping me out,” Ron said as he stepped into the Great Hall.
Luna followed behind him, and could only agree. “Yeah. There’s just nothing here.”
“Why were you so worried?” Ron asked as they continued to look around. The teacher’s table was still at the front of the Hall, but like elsewhere in the castle, there were no teachers, not that Ron had expected there to be at this point. It was obvious that wherever they were, this Hogwarts was completely abandoned, and had been for a long time.
“I…” For a moment, Luna considered telling him about her gift. She really did. She knew that if they were going to find their way back home they were going to have to work together and that telling him would help him trust her a bit more. But she could remember his reaction to almost everything that she had ever said. She annoyed him, she knew that. The mask she wore to hide her talents made him think of her as nothing more than Loony Lovegood. So she decided that she would go with her usual response. He would never believe the truth anyway. “The Blibbering Humdingers told me.”
Ron looked back at her, then rolled his eyes. Why he had even asked, he didn’t know. Loony would always be Loony.
“So what now,” Ron asked. “There’s nobody here.”
“Maybe we should go to the Burrow or the Rookery and see if anyone is there? Something is seriously wrong.”
Harry sat next to Hermione once they got into Dumbledore’s office. The office was almost identical to the one he’d visited so many times in what he was starting to consider his ‘own world.’ The only thing that he noticed that was different was that there was no Sword of Gryffindor hanging on the wall above the Headmaster’s desk.
“Headmaster, surely you’re not going to humor these two impostors, are you?” Severus Snape sneered. “There’s no way this can be Harry Potter.”
Typical Snape, Harry thought acidly, jumping to conclusions before he has all the facts.
“We need to find out what is going on, Severus,” Dumbledore replied.
“And how do you propose we confirm their identities,” Lily Potter asked.
Dumbledore was silent for a few moments before he said, “I think the best solution would be to contact Gringotts and have them perform an inheritance test. That would verify the identities of our two guests.” The Headmaster stood and went to the fireplace where he placed a floo call. The rest of the group waited silently while Dumbledore knelt at the floo.
Harry and Hermione looked at each other nervously. Hermione still hadn’t let go of Harry’s hand, knowing that that connection was the only thing keeping her courage from failing her. The whole situation was beginning to be quite ludicrous. The two of them had been with their friends, surrounded by Death Eaters one minute and then they were on the other end of Albus Dumbledore’s wand the next. She wasn’t sure what worried her more, their present situation or that none of their friends were with them. The four others had all entered the veil before them, so should have been right in front of them. But they weren’t.
She had pretty much decided that they were in some alternate world. It was all that made sense. Either that or they were dead and Hades was having his fun with them. At this point, Hermione didn’t know which would be worse.
Neville sighed as he rubbed his feet. They’d been walking for hours, and they hadn’t even gotten a glimpse of Hogwarts or the Black Lake. In fact, the only thing they’d seen were countless magical creatures. He’d almost had a heart attack when they’d come upon two slumbering acromantulas. They’d had to move quickly but silently to keep from alerting the giant beasts.
They had only just gotten away from that danger when they’d been found by two Centaurs. Harry had told Neville about his interactions with the beings, but Neville hadn’t believed him when Harry had said that Centaurs were never helpful. The two that he and Ginny had come across were too engrossed in the stars to help them find their way. After 10 minutes of pointless conversation about Mars and it’s location, Neville and Ginny had moved on. They’d had to leave because Neville could tell that Ginny was just moments away from drawing her wand and hexing the two horse-men.
After that, they’d seen unicorns and hippogriffs, neither of which had bothered them. They’d walked miles and miles, and had come no closer to discovering if they were even walking in the right direction.
“Are you sure you can’t try apparating us somewhere,” Ginny whined.
“I might have taken the classes, Ginny, but I was never successful. What if I splinch myself? There’s nobody here who could help put me back together. It’s too big a risk.”
“Well, if we don’t do something soon, we’re going to die from lack of water. It’s hot, and we’ve not found any stream or puddle yet.”
“I know that,” Neville snapped. He was normally quite passive, but Ginny had done nothing but complain for the entire time they’d traveled through the forest.
Before Ginny could respond nastily, there was a loud snapping noise that brought the two out of their argument.
“What was that?” Ginny asked fearfully, grabbing Neville’s hand.
Neville pulled his wand with his free hand and then groaned loudly. “Ginny, we can conjure water.”
“Oh, for Merlin’s sake, why didn’t you think of that before?” Ginny bitched, letting go of the boy’s hand in disgust.
“Me? Why didn’t you think about it?” Neville all but shouted, forgetting about the noise that had startled them.
“Well, you’re supposed to be the one leading this farce. I told you we were going in the wrong direction but did you listen? Noooooo! Of course, not. Maybe if you weren’t trying so hard to be Harry Potter or your Father, you’d actually be worth something.”
Neville froze. “Take that back,” he said dangerously.
Ginny narrowed her eyes, “No, I will not.”
“Well, well, well. What ‘ave we ‘ere?” A voice from their right asked loudly.
a.n.2. Each chapter should be longer than the last, that’s my goal.
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