Harry blinked as the world around him came slowly into focus. So maybe impulsively touching things in the Department of Mysteries wasn’t the best idea, but to be fair, the day had been rather dull up until that point. Of course, most days tended to be dull when compared with being hunted by insane Dark Lords and overzealous death minions. Thankfully, said hunting hadn’t resulted in any sort of long-term complications for the famous Boy-Who-Couldn’t-Die. No loss of sanity or anything. Everything was perfectly fine, thank you very much. Of course, there was that whole “Master of Death” thing that he hadn’t really figured out yet, and an impressive urge to touch potentially dangerous magical artifacts, but really, everything was fine, which totally explained why he was waking up in an unknown place and getting rained on.
Wait, rain? Okay, so outside, opposite of inside, which is where he was last (probably - the last few moments were kind of fuzzy).
Standing up, Harry took a look around. And then he blinked. And then he rubbed his eyes. Was this some kind of new memory chamber or something? Had he fallen into a pensieve (again)? Accidentally apparated? Wait, he wasn’t drunk, so probably not that one. He still hadn’t lived down that particular incident.
Deciding that the particulars of his arriving at a place of his childhood nightmares were not all that important at the moment, Harry grabbed hi… that wand, and began casting a wide variety of spells, hoping that he’d figure out for sure where he was. Or trip some kind of alarm and have some panicked Unspeakables show up. He wasn’t picky.
All of a sudden he heard a distinct popping sound, and he turned to face whoever had just apparated behind him.
Well. That was unexpected.
Ivy blinked. Something had just happened. What had happened was unclear, but she was fairly certain this fell under the category of “freaky.” Briefly, she hoped to herself that Uncle Vernon wouldn’t find out, but since Dudley had been the one chasing her a second ago and was now nowhere in sight, it was more likely that she’d be locked in her cupboard without dinner tonight. Which was rather unfortunate, seeing as she hadn’t had dinner last night either.
She was so caught up in her thoughts that she didn’t immediately notice the man staring at her. When she did notice, she jumped back just a little, but he just kept staring at her. Really, what was his problem? So, there they both stood, staring at each other. Blinking occasionally. At least he wasn’t chasing her. That was a good sign, right?
Of all the things Harry had expected to see (not that he had a lengthy list of preconceived expectations for this particular situation), a little girl who looked suspiciously like him was not one of them. He was fairly certain he had never fathered a child, and even he had, this girl looked like she was a least six. Way too old to be his. He definitely hadn’t slept with anyone at age seventeen. Dark lords and all that. So unless there was some vital piece of information relating to the process of conception in the wizarding world that he hadn’t been informed about (wouldn’t exactly be the first time he hadn’t been told something), this child wasn’t his. That was a relief.
But she looked so much like him. It was like looking in a weird trick mirror at himself as a child, but also as a girl, and of course he just so happened to be standing on top of what appeared to be his old primary school, and wasn’t that just a coincidence and oh Merlin that one unspeakable guy had been talking about gateways, but he hadn’t been paying attention because it sounded too much like portkeys and those things were the devil’s creation, but he had heard something about universes and he thought it was just the guy being dramatic but what if… No. That was ridiculous. He definitely had not been stupid enough to touch something that had transported him into an alternate universe, right? He laughed (cackled?) mentally. What a ridiculous thought. That was certainly not what had happened. But, just to be sure…
“Were you just running from Dudley?”
Ivy stared at the stranger. Most people asked things like “what’s your name?” or “where are your parents?” How’d he even know Dudley anyway? She certainly hadn’t seen this man before. Even if she thought he did kind of look like her…
“Yes,” she finally said, even if it did come out more like a question.
“And then you appara… appeared here?”
“Yes?” That one was definitely a question.
“Huh,” was all the man said, and then he continued to stare at her. Ivy began to fidget. She knew what he was probably thinking. She was used to her family calling her a freak, but she still hated it when other people said it. After a few moments, the man finally spoke again.
“Last name Potter then?”
Ivy felt her stomach drop a little. So he knew who she was too. She braced herself for the oncoming scorn and just nodded her head in answer to his question. To her surprise, the man actually smiled at that. And not the kind of smile Dudley got when she got in trouble. No, this was a nice smile.
“What’s your first name?”
“I-ivy,” she managed to get out.
Harry had often been accused of jumping into situations headfirst without a plan. Admittedly they were relatively true accusations (mostly because any plans he made tended to fall apart fairly quickly), but he thought that his track record so far showed that he either had an insane amount of dumb luck or was really good at thinking on his feet. Or both. Probably both.
Still, this impromptu plan would most likely cause Hermione’s eye to twitch in a way that promised eternal pain should it be acted upon. But she wasn’t here, and really, how badly could this turn out?
That was a rhetorical question that he chose not to think too long on. There were alternate young female versions of himself to save and possible alternate universes to wreak havoc upon. Critically thinking through this situation was unnecessarily time-consuming at this point.
Ivy watched as the stranger seemed to ponder the revelation of her name for a moment. She wished she knew what he was thinking.
“Would you like to come with me?” he finally asked. She vaguely remembered hearing one of her teachers say that children should never go with strangers, but then Aunt Petunia sometimes mumbled that she wished Ivy would be taken away by those strange people, so maybe it was fine? Plus the man seemed so nice. He had a nice smile, and he was smiling at her. Nobody ever smiled like that at her.
Harry beamed. She had hesitated for a moment, but she had agreed, so that meant he had succeeded in his attempt to come across as good-friendly-safe rather than evil-stranger-danger. Oh, and sane. Which he wasn’t, necessarily, but that didn’t matter too much at the moment.
“Well then, shall we be off?”
Ivy glanced behind her. The roof of the school was rather far from the ground, and she still wasn’t entirely sure how she had gotten up there in the first place. Of course, he was on the roof too, so that meant he probably knew the way down. She turned back towards the man and nodded.
“Great! Well, I suppose there isn’t anything you need to get from the Dursleys first?”
She shook her head. He had said Dursleys. Not her family, not her parents, not home. Just their name. She already knew he must know something about them, seeing as he knew Dudley, and knew her last name, but did he know what happened there? Was that why he offered to take her? And if so, why? No one ever seemed to care, or at least, not for long. And what made her think this would be any different? Would he just take her back tomorrow?
As if sensing her thoughts, he bent down and held out a hand. “You never have to go back to the Dursleys again,” he said quietly.
She looked into his eyes. He looked so kind.
Harry was startled by the sudden hug. He didn’t remember ever being so willing to show physical affection. But then again, this wasn’t really him, and even if she was living the same life he had, she was young. Maybe, just maybe, she was not yet quite as broken as he had been.
A small voice interrupted his musings. “How do we get down?”
He took a step back and grinned, remembering his own sense of wonder at being introduced to magic. Now he was going to be the one to do the introduction, and he was sure he would enjoy it immensely.
He held out his hand again, and when she took it, he pulled her into a hug.
“Magic,” he said, as he apparated them from the rooftop.