After spending half his life trying to rid the world of Voldemort, Harry Potter finally succeeds. However, the price has been high. Too high. Unfortunately, when Harry risks his life to go back and 'do things right,' something goes wrong. Now, Harry wanders the multiverse, fighting evil and helping others but forever denied the chance to fix his own history. Now, he is ... the Lone Traveler. Unfortunately, he is about to discover that he is not quite as "lone" as he believes.

Harry Potter and all associated characters are owned by J.K. Rowling. The Lone Traveler concept was devised by The Professional and further developed by dunuelos.

A flash of blue light illuminated the darkness of the Hogwarts grounds, leaving behind the Lone Traveler stumbling as his eyes adjusted to the gloom. It was late at night, and the moon was only half-full. The Traveler – Harry Potter to some friends, "Gary Seven" to others – was dressed in a Muggle jumper and trousers, but with dragon hide boots and a supple yet sturdy dragon-hide longcoat acquired in his cross-dimensional journeys. The ingenious coat was full of "bigger on the inside" pockets to carry the various magical items and mementos of his seemingly endless travels.

Gary looked around to get his bearings. "Okay. There's the castle..." He turned to look in the opposite direction. "And there's the Forbidden Forest. So why the heck did I land out here in a field?" he said to himself.

With a flick of his wrist, the Lone Traveler's wand popped out of its holster into his hand, and a quick Tempus spell revealed that it was 9:15 p.m., June 18, 1996. Gary frowned. By this point, he had visited hundreds of "Potterverses" as he liked to call them, dimensions where he interacted with younger versions of himself whose lives were mostly identical to his own, at least until he got involved. Usually, he took great pleasure in the chance to save the dimensional counterparts of friends who had died in his own time line. Unfortunately, the date indicated (assuming no alterations to the time line) that it was a year too late to save young Cedric Diggory, and he had a few hours at most to prevent the death of Sirius Black.

He thought for a moment and then held his wand loosely in his hand. "Point-Me Hermione Granger," he commanded, and the wand levitated up and whirled to point towards the forest.

"Okay," he said to himself. "Hermione and I have just taken Dolores Umbridge out into the Forbidden Forest to meet with the centaurs. So I've got about fifteen minutes before they come back. I'll intercept me, explain about Voldemort's fake vision, and hopefully, ensure that Voldemort gets caught at the Ministry. After that, it's just a standard horcrux-hunt." He sighed, still disappointed that he had appeared too late in his counterpart's life to effect more positive changes. Nevertheless, with luck the boy would be able to move in with Sirius once the Lone Traveler got the escapee cleared of his false charges.

"So that only leaves one question," he said, continuing his internal monologue. "Why do I hear a snitch buzzing around?" With the easy skill of the Seeker prodigy he was, Gary quickly spotted the source of the tell-tale noise. Even in the dim moonlight, he could see the glint of light off the snitch as it darted around the lawn. Gary smiled in bemusement. Had a snitch somehow gotten loose in the original time line? By that point, he'd been banned from Quidditch already thanks to Umbridge's pettiness, and he'd been understandably distracted on this night. The snitch zigzagged around the lawn before finally coming within a few feet of the Lone Traveler, and without even thinking, his natural Seeker instincts took over and he plucked the snitch out of the air, ignoring the tiny voice that warned of a possible trap just a half-second too late.

Instantly, sharp spikes popped out of the golden sphere into his hand, even as the snitch's wings wrapped tightly around to stop him from simply dropping the thing, and Gary screamed in shock and pain. A dreadful feeling of bitter cold quickly started to spread from his bleeding hand up his arm. The pain caused him to drop his wand as he tried to pry the snitch loose with his other hand. But before he could, a harsh, grating voice from nearby rasped out the words "Petrificus Totalus," and Gary felt his whole body seize into paralysis, even as the agonizing cold continued to creep up his arm and into his chest. The voice growled once more – "Silencio" – and even the grunts of pain Gary could still make through the paralysis were stilled.

The Lone Traveler had not found himself so vulnerable in years. Paralyzed, silenced, wandless and in agonizing pain, he could do nothing except wait for the Killing Curse that he assumed was coming next. What he received instead, to his embarrassment, was a sharp kick to his backside that sent him toppling hit the ground painfully. The attacker moved to one side and then kicked him again, this time in the ribs, to knock him over onto his back. Finally, Gary could see his enemy, and his heart nearly stopped. It was a man in what looked at first to be a Death Eater mask, though upon closer review, it was made of black metal instead of the usual ivory. Instead of the normal Death Eater attire, he wore black dragon-skin armor and matching pants and boots. Across the Death Eater's chest was a leather bandolier that seemed to be full of potion vials instead of ammunition. He wore a black hood and half-cloak held on by a clasp that resembled – was that Slytherin's Locket?! The sight of what looked like one of Voldemort's own horcruxes frightened Gary more than any of his attacker's other features.

"Really, Potter?" asked the Death Eater, his voice distorted by the mask. "The Lone Traveler, hero of a thousand realities? And all it takes to bring you down is a poisoned snitch that you're too conditioned or else too stupid to resist grabbing? Such a disappointment."

The man knelt down at Gary's side, idly picking up his discarded wand as he did so. "And yes, I do know who you are. Harry Potter, also known as the Lone Traveler, Gary Seven, Maarek Ilumian, the Fury of the Light, the Man Who Conquered, etc. etc. blah-blah-blah. Personally though, I prefer the older names: Potty, Scarhead, the Brat Who Lived."

Garytried to focus through the pain onto his enemy's words. "Potty? Scarhead? Is it ... could it be ... Draco?!"

The Death Eater looked down into Gary's eyes, while revealing nothing of his own through the mask. Indeed, the eye holes seemed full of a bottomless darkness that filled the young wizard with a deepening despair as he stared into them. It was almost like being near a dementor.

"Anyway, I've been wanting to meet you for quite some time, and when, well, let's just say when a little bird told me you'd be here at this moment, I raced to prepare a welcome for you. I hope you appreciate my efforts." The Death Eater laughed cruelly. Suddenly, he leaned forward and placed the tip of Gary's own wand against his Adam's apple. The laughter stopped, and the mysterious Death Eater became very serious. "I could kill you right now, Harry Potter. Kill you with your own wand. How humiliating for you, eh, Potty?"

Then, he simply put the wand inside Gary's coat pocket. "But that ... would be boring! And as you might have guessed, Potty, I'm something of a showman. However, if you don't mind, or even if you do, I will be borrowing this." Gart seethed as the man rifled through his coat until he found the pocket containing his Invisibility Cloak. The man slipped the cloak into a pouch on his belt as he stood. "If you want this back, I'll be at the Department of Mysteries later this evening. In the meantime, I'll just disillusion you so that your young friends aren't distracted by the weeping idiot stretched out on the lawn. We wouldn't want them to get sidetracked from rescuing poor Sirius, now would we?"

He took a step back and cast the disillusionment spell. Despite the mask, Gary could sense that the man looked down at him with undisguised hatred. "The paralysis will wear off in a few hours. Then, you can rid yourself of the snitch. I should warn you that the poison presently being injected into you, aside from being agonizingly painful, will also disrupt your magical core. The effects won't last more than a day or so, but until they wear off, you'll be casting spells with a strength equal to that of the average Fourth Year student. I look forward to seeing the Man Who Conquered in action against the Dark Lord under such limitations."

He looked away, but then stopped, snapped his fingers as if remembering something important, and turned back to face Gary. "Oh, almost forget. So silly of me. I mentioned all of your names, Potty, but neglected to give my own. Like you, I have several. The Last Death Eater. Lord Terminus. The Dark Traveler. The goblins call me Melkur Sothis, the Devourer of Hope. But you, Potty? You can call me ... Nemesis." The man in black turned away and fell forward. Before he hit the ground, his whole body twisted and morphed, and Gary was surprised to realize he was an animagus. He was even more astonished at the form Nemesis took – a thestral! The frightful stallion trotted forward and unfurled its wings. With two great flaps, it took to the sky, and in just a few seconds, it was outside of the range of Hogwarts' wards, at which point the so-called "Nemesis" apparated away.

Within minutes, the Lone Traveler, still silenced and still in agony, could make out the sounds of his younger self, along with his friends as they returned from the Forbidden Forest. He struggled desperately to shake off the curse that immobilized him. But while he was rather good at wandless magic, it required both focus and power, and at the moment, pain robbed him of one and poison of the other. The voices faded as the teens moved on towards the stables, their rash plan to fly to London on the backs of thestrals still going forward. Once they were gone, Gary was left alone with his pain.

Time seemed to crawl, but eventually, after hours of suffering, the petrification spell wore off. With a sudden jerk, Gary could move again. Instantly, he grabbed the cursed snitch with his free hand, ripped it off and smashed it against the ground. It's bent wings flapped twice and then went still. His body shaking, Gary tried to stand and, after dropping to his knees once, finally succeeded. He was exhausted, and as he reached within himself to feel his magic, he knew that "Nemesis" spoke truly. His core felt as drained as it ever had, even weaker than after his final duel with Voldemort in his original time line. He considered flying up high enough to apparate as his enemy had done, but given his current state, the risk of splinching was too great. Luckily, he'd had far too many years to think about what he should have done differently on this night. He quickly pulled a tiny broomstick out of a pocket and resized it. Then, he jumped on and flew, not towards London but to Hogsmeade. Within minutes, he was at the Three Broomsticks, running past an astonished Madame Rosmerta towards the fireplace. Without stopping to talk to anyone, he snatched up a handful of Floo powder, threw it into the fire, and called for the Ministry of Magic.


Harry saw Sirius duck Bellatrix's jet of red light: he was laughing at her. "Come on, you can do better than that!" he yelled, his voice echoing in the cavernous room.

The second jet of light hit him squarely in the chest.

The laughter had not quite died from his face, but his eyes widened in shock.

It seemed to take Sirius an age to fall. His body curved in a graceful arc as he sank backward through the ragged veil hanging from the arch ...

... until he stopped, frozen at an absurd angle, and shuddered, as if caught between two forces pulling him from opposite angles. From somewhere behind him, Harry heard the booming echo of the spell that had been cast – ACCIO SIRIUS BLACK! After a second that seemed like an eternity, Sirius suddenly shot away from the veil as if hurled by a catapult, and Harry had to duck to avoid being knocked down. He looked around wildly and saw Sirius land in the arms of a black-clad figure. Strangely, Harry had a sudden flashback to his Third Year, when he'd mistakenly thought that his father had returned from the grave to save him and Sirius from the Dementors. The man now holding Sirius's prone body and beckoning him over looked like exactly like he'd imagined James Potter to be. Young Harry ran towards his savior, dodging spellfire from furious Death Eaters, as the older man provided covering fire. Just as he dove through the open door into the hallway, he heard the other man yell "Duros!" and suddenly, there was a solid stone wall where the opening had been. The other man slid down onto the floor, obviously exhausted and in great pain.

"Are ... are you okay?" Harry asked hesitantly. He could see that this wasn't his dad, but the stranger, while closely resembling him, was way too old to have come via Time Turner. Then again, there was an entire room full of Time Turners that just got blown up by the Death Eaters. Who knew what kind of temporal anomalies might have resulted. "More importantly, are you ... me?"

The Lone Traveler looked up at the boy for a second before nodding. "Yes to the first. I've been ambushed, tortured and poisoned, but other than that, I'm just ... spiffing. As for the second, sort of. Alternate reality. I'm a version of you where history happened a bit differently. You can call me Gary Seven to prevent confusion." He glanced over at the unconscious Sirius. "By any chance do you know the Enervate spell? I'd do it but I'm a bit knackered at the moment." The younger wizard nodded, wondering why his other self had taken the name of a minor character from one of Dudley's favorite old TV shows. He cast the spell to awaken Sirius who sat up and looked around in confusion.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Bellatrix stunned you and knocked into the Veil of Death," Gary spat. "I pulled your sorry arse out at the last second."

"Ah, well, that's good. Thanks ... whoever you are. I owe you one." As Sirius spoke, he looked up at Harry, wondering who the other man was.

"People call me the Lone Traveler," Gary said harshly, causing Sirius's eyes to widen. "But you can call me Gary Seven. And you can repay me, Sirius Black, by growing up and looking after your godson like you were supposed to."

"Hey, leave him alone!" exclaimed Harry. "He's done the best he could for me!"

"Harry, that archway is called the Veil of Death. And if I'd been one second later, he'd have gone through it and you'd have lost him forever. Or at least for the rest of this lifetime. I know, because when it was my Sirius, there was no one else around to save him and I had to just watch him die. And it nearly killed me too, because it was my mistake that brought him here. I carried that guilt around with me ever since... until just now. All the alternate realities. All the times I interfered to protect Harry Potter and to save your life." At that, Gary actually poked Sirius angrily with his finger. "Yet somehow, this is the first time I've had a chance to see the moment of your death again. And you were acting like it was a damned game! You were taunting Bellatrix LeStrange of all people, practically daring her to murder you in front of your own godson's eyes! What were you thinking?! Do you have any idea how getting yourself killed like that would have torn him apart?!"

Harry was speechless, torn between anger at Gary for insulting Sirius and a sickening feeling in his gut at how close Sirius came to dying. He also knew that Gary was completely right. If Sirius had died under these circumstances, he would have blamed himself and been devastated by it. For his part, Sirius paled under the Lone Traveler's fury.

Finally, he nodded. "You're right. You are. I just ... I'd been cooped up at Grimmauld Place for so many months. I let my excitement get away from me." He straightened up and became more, well, serious. "It won't happen again. I promise." He looked over to Harry and suddenly embraced him in a tight hug, which the boy reciprocated. "I'm never going to leave you, Prongslet. Never."

The two hugged for several seconds, and Gary's anger at Sirius faded, leaving a warm satisfaction at the thought of his younger self feeling loved. Naturally, it didn't last. Harry suddenly screamed and clutched his scar in agony. Muttering a curse, Gary whipped out a pain relief potion and poured it down Harry's throat. "Easy kid, just roll with it and let the potion do its work. It's him isn't it."

Harry nodded, but Sirius, frightened by the boy's pain, was confused. "Him who?"

"Voldemort," said Gary with a surprising calm. "He's a floor above us, about to get into a duel with Dumbledore that would be entertaining to watch if the stakes weren't so high. He doesn't know that the prophecy orb's already been destroyed."

"It has?" asked Harry tiredly as the potion kicked in. "It was already gone when I got here. Did you take it?"

Somewhere in the back of Gary's Muggle-raised mind was a noise that honestly sounded like a record needle being dragged across an album on a turntable. He stared open-mouthed at his younger self, trying to will his mouth to work. Finally, he asked with a terrible intensity. "What exactly do you mean when you say the orb was already gone?"

"Neville pointed out that there was a shelf with a placard in the Hall of Prophecies that had my name on it, but it was empty. That was when the Death Eaters showed up and the fight broke out."

"Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit." The Lone Traveler finally stopped cursing internally before calming down enough to speak. "No. I didn't take it. But I bet I know who did. We're heading upstairs because Dumbledore may need our help. At a minimum, he's fighting Voldemort and Bellatrix. But before we go, there's two things you need to know. First, Voldemort may try to possess you at some point. If he does, concentrate on your love for Sirius, Hermione, Ron and all the other people you care about. Voldemort can't stand those emotions and it will force him out. Second, be careful and alert, because there's someone else here. I'm still not completely sure who, but I've got some bad ideas. What I do know is that he's a dimensional traveler like me and, barring the Dark Lord, he may be the most dangerous wizard I've ever met. Watch yourself."

With that, the Lone Traveler slashed at the magical wall with his wand and it faded out of existence. Seconds later, the trio was racing up to the Atrium where they could already hear the sounds of battle. The Atrium was awash in transfigured statutes, flaming whirlwinds and other exotic magics. Dumbledore was there, but he was on the defensive, fighting not only Voldemort and Bellatrix but the Lestrange brothers as well. As soon as they entered, Bellatrix turned from Dumbledore to target them. Gary was pleased to note that Sirius was much more protective in his dueling. Instead of attacking recklessly, he focused on shield spells which Harry and Gary could fire around. In short order, Rabastan and Rodolphus were down and Bellatrix was on the defensive. Gary thought that if she could be taken down, then all three of them could help Dumbledore against Voldemort and possibly bring him down here and now (or a least neutralize him until the horcruxes could be destroyed). Naturally, it couldn't be that easy.

Harry leaned around Sirius's shield to fire off a stunner at Bellatrix. In the background, Voldemort fired a Killing Curse at Dumbledore, but Gary could see Fawkes materialize to intercept it just like in his own time line. But over the noise of the battle, he could barely make out another voice rasp out a different spell – an Expelliarmus. Suddenly, Harry's wand flew out of his hand towards a far wall. Instantly, Gary turned his own wand in that direction, and when he saw a hand appear from nowhere to catch the wand, he cast his own spell. "Accio Invisibility Cloak!" The cloak whipped itself off of its wearer, revealing Nemesis, now armed with Harry's wand.

The dark wizard did not react to the loss of the cloak, which Gary caught easily. Instead, he brought the stolen wand to bear and shouted "Aveda Kedavra!" To Gary's horror, the Killing Curse was not directed to him or to young Harry but to the exposed back of Albus Dumbledore. Gary desperately looked around for something large enough to summon as a shield for the old man, but everything that might have served that purpose had already been destroyed. Time seemed to slow down for Gary as the green light raced towards his old mentor who barely had time to turn before it struck him in the side. Silence reigned for a moment as the legendary wizard fell, his eyes already glassy from the dark curse.

With a greater fury than he'd felt in ages, Gary fired off a blasting curse at his mysterious enemy, who parried it casually with a protego. Simultaneously, Harry, shocked at his headmaster's sudden death unthinkingly stepped beyond the range of Sirius's shield, and Bellatrix was quick to take advantage.


Sirius bellowed and threw himself towards the boy, knocking them both to the ground. Despite his best efforts, though, the curse's edge caught Harry's left calf, severing the leg just below the knee. Blood began spurting everywhere, as the boy screamed in pain. Gary fired a quick Bombarda at Bellatrix, knocking her to the ground. Then, he dropped to his knees as his core spasmed in response to the high-level spells he was casting. He fought his way through the pain and transfigured a ten-by-ten section of the floor between the trio and Voldemort. Thick stone columns shot up just in time to block a Killing Curse from the dark lord.

"Sirius," he said thickly. "Get Harry out of here!"

"But you..." Sirius started to say, even as he tried desperately to stop the bleeding from Harry's leg.

"Get. Your. Godson. Out of here!" Gary snarled. Sirius's face went pale and he nodded solemnly, fearing that he was about to leave the legendary Lone Traveler to his death. Swiftly, he ripped a button off his jacket and cast a Portus on it. He looked up one last time at Gary, as the barrier shuddered under another spell from Voldemort.

"That man. The one to killed Albus. Who is he?" he asked almost fearfully.

Gary stared at his godfather who was not his godfather for a long second before he broke eye contact. He was exhausted, in agony, and, strangely, embarrassed. He had visited hundreds and hundreds of worlds, and he had never failed as completely as he had here. And all because of the intervention of a rival he never knew he'd had. "He's ... my nemesis. Now go!"

Sirius nodded and grabbed Harry with one hand while squeezing the button with the other. With a soft pop, they were gone. And just in time, too, as a Blasting Hex demolished Gary's makeshift barrier, knocking him to the ground and dazing him. His wand slipped from his grasp, and a second later, he was bound by an Incarcerous cast by Nemesis.

"You!" hissed Voldemort. "I do not know who you are, but you have cost me much tonight! Turn and face me before you die!"

Gary twisted his body around to look into the dark lord's face. He noticed a warm coppery taste on his lips and realized that his nose was bleeding. It wasn't from the fall, he thought, but from magical strain. His mind was racing a mile a minute trying to think of a way out, but nothing came to him. The wizard was bound tightly and too weak for wandless magic. And even with his wand, in his current state, he was no match for Bellatrix, let alone the combined powers of Voldemort and Nemesis. Part of him wanted to laugh at the unfamiliar feelings in the pit of his stomach – in all his travels, this was the first time since his final duel with his own Voldemort that he actually felt like he was about to die. At least he'd see his Ginny again.

Voldemort studied the new arrival with some trepidation. He came here to confront the Boy Who Lived, but the figure before him was a much older and more experienced Harry Potter, one who radiated power even if it was not currently at its peak.

"Who are you? You cannot be what you appear to be," he hissed. To Gary's surprise, it was his new enemy who responded.

"Oh, but he can, my lord. Allow me to make the introductions. This is Harry Potter, albeit one from another dimension where the final battle did not resolve itself in your favor." Once more, Gary shuddered at the strange distortion of Nemesis's voice, no doubt a property of his mask designed to intimidate and frighten his enemies. The wizarding answer to Darth Vader. "You may know him from wizarding legends as 'The Lone Traveler.' It is the most commonly known of his pretentious aliases."

"I have ... heard of the Lone Traveler. That it should be someone so connected to me is remarkable." Voldemort turned towards Nemesis. "And you, Slayer of Dumbledore?"

"Slayer of Dumbledore. I like that. No one's ever called me that, though it has been accurate on many worlds. Like this idiot, I am a dimensional traveler. Unlike him, I am one who wishes you well in your endeavors. And as a token of my good faith, I offer you this." With a flourish, Nemesis reached into a pocket and pulled out a small glass orb that Gary recognized instantly – the prophecy orb his younger self had been drawn here to claim. The dark wizard held it aloft, and with a whispered spell, it vanished from his hand and appeared before Voldemort, who snatched it out of the air greedily.

"You will find, my lord, that you are now the only one with access to the prophecy. Dumbledore, foolishly, I think, never revealed it to Potter or any of his other allies. But now, you must depart, you and your Death Eaters."

Voldemort, who had been staring at the orb as if hypnotized, jerked up angrily to look towards Nemesis. "Who are you to command Lord Voldemort?!"

"As I said, one who wishes you success. And you have had great success thus far by concealing your activities from the Ministry. Do you wish to squander that success now? The aurors draw near, and the Minister is with them. Do you wish to be discovered in this place? Or would you prefer for them to discover only the still-warm corpse of Albus Dumbledore, brutally slain by the wand of the Boy- Who-Lived?"

Voldemort smiled cruelly, as Gary closed his eyes. Every time he thought things couldn't get any worse, Nemesis proved him wrong. "And what of this one, my mysterious servant?" asked Voldemort as he pointed his wand at Gary.

"I would ask that you leave him to me. I have unfinished business with him. I assure you that he is no threat to your agenda. Having failed utterly to shape this world to his will, his time here draws to a close. You will not see him again."

Voldemort sneered. "See that I do not. Bellatrix, we are done here. Send the signal to the others and let us depart." Seconds later, they were gone, leaving Gary and Nemesis behind. The black-clad wizard calmly walked over to where the bound Lone Traveler lay awaiting what seemed an inevitable death. But to his surprise, Nemesis didn't kill him or even torture him. Instead, he dispelled the bonds and kicked Gary's wand over to him.

"I would advise against raising your wand to me, Potty. You won't like the consequences. You have questions, I'm sure. And believe it or not, I'm quite willing to answer them. But not..." Before Nemesis could continue, Gary, who had simply lain still as if beaten into surrender, suddenly snatched up his wand and fired the most powerful Reducto he could manage straight into the other wizard's face. But with an uncanny speed, Nemesis deflected the spell away with a perfectly executed shield. "Idiot," he said contemptuously. Then, he placed the Lone Traveler under the Cruciatus curse for a full five seconds.

"You are powerful, Lone Traveler," said Nemesis in an icy voice. "But I promise you, right now, my advantage over you is insurmountable. If you want to know why – if you want to know what this is really all about – you will leave now. Go back to the beginning. Go back to where it all began. I'll be along shortly after I've tied up a few ends. Or, if you prefer, I could just torture you into insanity here and now. But then, there will be no one to warn poor Harry that he's now Public Enemy Number One. Azkaban is lovely this time of year, isn't it?"

Gary said nothing. He simply closed his eyes, gripped his wand tightly, and apparated away. Nemesis laughed softly and walked over to Dumbledore's body. "'Slayer of Dumbledore.' I need that on a t-shirt," he said to no one in particular. Nemesis held up the wand he had taken from the Boy Who Lived and slid his fingers over it as if caressing it. Then, he casually dropped it next to Dumbledore's head. In the distance, he could hear the approaching aurors. He would have to be quick, as he could already feel the soft tug that warned of imminent dimensional shifting. But he knew he had time for his final confrontation with the Lone Traveler, one he had been looking forward to for quite some time. A soft pop marked his departure, seconds before the aurors and Cornelius Fudge came barreling around the corner before stopping in horror at the scene before them.

"Great Merlin," said the Minister as he looked down into the fading eyes of the man who had been his closest advisor and his greatest rival. Then, his own eyes widened as he recognized the wand laying beside the venerable wizard, a wand whose presence somehow signified that every vicious rumor he'd spread about Harry Potter had been true after all.

Later, at Hogwarts ...

Sirius stared morosely at the godson he'd failed so many times. He was unconscious due to the sedatives Poppy Pomfrey had given him before she started to work on the leg. Snape was at her side, the animosity between him and Black temporarily set aside as they worked to save the boy's life. Finally, she turned to Sirius.

"We've done all we could. I think he'll pull through alright, but there's nothing that can be done about the leg. It was a terrible curse that was used against him, one I've never seen before."

"I've never seen it either," said Sirius. "I think the incantation was ... Sectumsempra? Or something like that. Severus, do you know of it?"

The Potions Master paled slightly before nodding. "I ... have heard of it, although I do not know how Bellatrix would have learned of it. From... from what I know of it, regrowing Potter's leg will be impossible. It is indeed a dark curse, the product of a cruel mind." His last words were bitter, and he could not make eye contact with either of the others.

"And you say that Albus is ... dead?" Poppy was as shaken as Black had ever seen her. She'd set that matter aside while focusing on Harry, but now that he was stable, she could finally confront the awful news.

"Yes. We were pinned down by the other Death Eaters and couldn't get to him. Some dark wizard I didn't know – he looked kind of like a Death Eater but his uniform was different – anyway, he got the drop on Albus. Struck him from behind like a coward." Sirius wiped roughly at his eyes. He hadn't cried since the night James and Lily died. Suddenly, there was a flash of light and to everyone's amazement, there was now a large glowing stag that dominated the room. Snape recognized it instantly as Harry's Patronus, but that was impossible. The boy was unconscious. Then, a familiar voice emanated from the Patronus.

"Sirius, listen carefully because I don't have much time. The man who killed Dumbledore used Harry's wand and left no other clues behind. Fudge is going to be convinced that Harry went crazy and killed the Headmaster, and he has enough physical evidence to put Harry into Azkaban tonight. He probably has enough evidence to get him kissed. If it is at all possible for Harry to travel, get him out of Hogwarts. Hell, get him out of Britain. It's not safe for him here."

Sirius's mind reeled. "How the hell can I get Harry out of the country?! I'm a fugitive myself!"

Snape simply looked down at the boy he'd mistreated so harshly for the past five years, now maimed for life by one of his own spells! Lily's child – brought down by Bellatrix Lestrange and the Sectumsempra Curse. He would kill the bitch himself. He turned and looked at his old rival, now at the breaking point because of his helplessness. And a bridge was crossed, as Snape decided to let a lifetime of hatred for the mutt go, all for the sake of his only friend's son.

"Here," he said, as he pulled a necklace from its hiding place beneath his robes. "It's an international portkey to a small apartment in Sao Paulo. I travel there yearly in search of potions ingredients in the Amazon. The house elf is named Bibbins, and there's a few thousand galleons hidden in the safe behind the painting hanging over the fireplace. I have already sent Bibbins a command to look after you. Don't stay there too long and be discrete – Brazil does have an extradition treaty with Britain."

"Thank you," Sirius said in amazement and gratitude. He turned to Poppy. "Is it safe to move him?"

"No, but it's safer than waiting here for the aurors. Go, Sirius. Look after him."

Before Sirius could move to his sleeping godson's side, the Patronus stag spoke again. "There's other things you need to know, Sirius. Things he needs to know if he's going to have any chance of winning. The prophecy. And the secret of Voldemort's immortality. And most importantly, how to end that immortality. As to the first ... The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies..."

A few seconds later, in a ruined home in Godric's Hollow...

A weary Lone Traveler sat on an old dusty couch in what was once his parents' living room. He was focusing his will on the glowing tip of his wand as he maintained his connection to the Patronus that was even then conveying his words to Sirius Black in the Hogwarts infirmary.

"I know it will be tough. Hell, it was tough for me and I wasn't as far behind as you are now. But after you've destroyed the other horcruxes and acquired the Deathly Hallows, Harry must die at the hands of Voldemort, who must kill him with the Avada Kedavra. I promise he'll survive, but it's the only way to destroy the last horcrux. Then, Voldemort will be mortal and Harry can kill him for good. That's... that's all I have for you. Good luck."

The light at the tip of his wand faded, and presently, Gary heard a soft pop from upstairs. He took a few calming breaths and ascended the staircase. There was a soft light emanating from the old nursery, and the gentle creak of a rocking chair. Gary edged the door open. Nemesis was there waiting patiently for him in his mother's chair. A glowing ball of light over his head illuminated the room. He appeared to be reading an ancient and battered copy of Tales of Beedle the Bard.

"You get everything taken care of, Potty?" he said without looking up.

"I did what I could," Harry said calmly. "And you can stop with the 'Potty' jokes. I know you're not Draco."

Nemesis looked up and tossed the book to once side. He rose casually with no concern of being attacked even as Gary's hand tensed around his wand. Gary could almost feel the sneer from beneath the other man's mask. "So. You finally figured it out."

"You were pretty free with the clues, I think. You could touch the prophecy orb. You were proficient with Harry's wand." He paused and took a deep breath. "But most importantly, other than Voldemort himself, there's only one person who could possibly hate the Boy-Who-Lived as much as you obviously do."

Nemesis snorted and then reached up with his free hand to pull away the mask and hood. Two eyes gleamed in the dim room with absolute malice, eyes the color of the Killing Curse. And just above them, a scar in the familiar shape of a jagged lightning bolt. "I suppose," said the other Harry Potter, "that you've used the time I gave you to mitigate what you could of my actions."

The Lone Traveler nodded. "I told them about the prophecy, the horcruxes, and the Hallows. It will be harder for them than it was for me, but they can still beat Voldemort."

"On the contrary, I assure you their position is as hopeless as your own. Seriously, did you think I was napping during those hours you spend writhing in pain on the school's front lawn? I have already collected the locket, the diadem and the ring." He smiled almost charmingly. "You see, I decided I didn't think much of Moldyshorts's hiding places, so I relocated them. Each of those horcruxes is now encased in a block of concrete, coated liberally with Notice-Me-Not charms, and sinking rapidly into random locations in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I doubt even I could find them now, let alone Little Potter and poor old Padfoot." The smile became almost feral at that. "Even if they kill the Dark Lord, they will never be rid of him. Never."

Gary snarled uncontrollably and threw his hardest curse at his other, fallen self. Nemesis batted the curse away casually, and with a flick of his wand, he banished Gary into the wall painfully. With some difficulty, Gary pulled himself back up as Nemesis twirled his wand idly.

"You really should stop trying to provoke me, Harry or Gary or whatever you want to call yourself. I wasn't boasting idly when I said I had an insurmountable advantage over you. Do you want to know what it is?"

"All I want to know is why you're doing this! What could possibly have happened in your time line that could make you want to serve the man who murdered our parents and ruined our lives?!"

Nemesis laughed. "Serve?! Is that what you think I'm doing here? Oh, Gary, you seriously underestimate my ambitions." He took a step forward, a wild look in his eyes. "Voldemort won't win. He can't. He's so deranged from splitting his soul that he will inevitably destroy his own movement. But not until after he's inflicted so much harm on Wizarding Britain that the Statute of Secrecy explodes. The muggles will find out all about the wizards, and they will be appalled at our barbarous society. Government agents authorized to use memory charms at will. A secret prison guarded by soul-sucking demons. Systemic racial hatred towards non-magicals. Within a year at most, the Wizard War will expand into the New Inquisition."

"You... you want the muggles to fight the wizards?" Harry gasped in confusion.

"I want the muggles to exterminate the wizards," he said coldly. "I want Magic erased as a concept, to the point that muggles look at stage magicians with fear and loathing. Voldemort is just the axe. Mine is the hand that will wield him. And together, we will cut Magic out by the root."

"You're insane! That would never work!"

"Why not? I haven't had any troubles before! In your travels, haven't you ever wondered about those worlds which seem to have no magic at all?"

Gary hesitated. The Babylon 5 universe? The Enterprise universe? Was it possible? "No... I don't..."

"Believe it, Gary. Each of those worlds was one which I'd already visited. They were worlds where I killed Magic! And I'm not going to stop until I've killed it everywhere!" And then, Nemesis laughed like the maniac he was. Gary tried once more to bring his wand to bear, but Nemesis flicked his wrist, and again Gary was shoved painfully into the wall. "Dammit, Gary, will you please let me monologue in peace!"

Gary was still defiant. "You won't destroy Magic. Whatever it takes, I'll stop you."

Nemesis laughed once more and shook his head. "Good God, you're dumb. You still haven't figured it out. Shall I just give you the denouement? The last shocking twist in our epic tale? The reason I have been one step ahead of you at every turn of this night is because ... I've been here before! Only last time, I was the one rolling on the ground clutching a poisoned snitch. I was the one who rescued Sirius in the nick of time only to watch Dumbledore cut down like a dog. I was the one to give Sirius and young Harry all the answers, only to learn that some other bastard had rewritten the exam!"

"No," whispered Gary, as he shook his head in mounting horror.

"Yes, Lone Traveler! Yes!" Nemesis laughed, more maniacally than ever. "You should know better than anyone that one cannot escape Destiny. It's a progression as inevitable as the coming of the tides and the passing of the seasons! Your future is nothing more than the faded ashes of my past! One day, maybe tomorrow, maybe next week, maybe in twenty years! One day, you will grow weary of being Fate's bitch! And on that day, just to see what happens – just to alleviate the boredom of your pointless existence – you will let Voldemort win! And on that day, the Lone Traveler will disappear, and the Dark Traveler will rise to take his place. On that day, the Multiverse will tremble in fear!"

Suddenly, Nemesis froze and looked around. Then, he smiled again, though with less intensity. "And on that delightfully histrionic note, I see our time is done. The train's at the station. The conductor is asking for our tickets. Sadly, I think we have different destinations." He reached out and wordlessly summoned his mask back. "Until next time, Lone Traveler." Gary watched helplessly as Nemesis disappeared in a familiar flash of light. Then, almost immediately, he felt the tugging sensation that heralded his own departure from the world he failed to save.

A short while later, in another universe ...

Molly Weasley nearly dropped the dish she was cleaning at the sudden whirling of the Weasley clock. It was the middle of a lovely autumn day and none of her family should have been in motion. Upon examining the clock, she was delighted to see that the hand marked "Gary Seven" had moved from "Traveling" (where it had rested for just over a year) to "Home." She raced to the door and yanked it open. But then, she gasped at the sight of the familiar figure before her. It was indeed, Gary Seven, who had saved the lives of her brothers, who had helped Arthur Weasley and the Prewitts to build the Burrow from a small cottage into one of the most famous and impregnable buildings in Magical Britain, and who had helped engineer the destruction of Voldemort and his Death Eaters and reformed their whole society. Only now, he looked more pitiful and beaten than she'd ever seen him. He took a step forward and nearly fell into her arms, but she caught him and guided him to the couch.

"Gary, what happened to you?!" He didn't answer. Instead, he held her hand as if afraid she'd abandon him.

"M..Molly, please," he gasped. "How are the kids? How's Arthur? How are the Potters and little Harry? I need to know..."

"Shh, Gary. They're all fine. Now let me floo Arthur and then we'll get you to a healer."

But the Lone Traveler wouldn't let go. "Just ... tell me they're okay. That they're happy... Please, Molly ..." His face suddenly contorted in misery, and Molly nearly wept at how distraught he seemed. "Tell me that ... that it's all been worth it."

Not knowing how to respond, Molly simply pulled her adopted eighth child into a tight hug, and as he began to sob, she held him tightly and promised him that everything would be okay.

Meanwhile, in yet another universe...

The man called Nemesis stepped gingerly over the corpse of Hermione Granger to reach behind the Hog's Head bar for some of Aberforth Dumbledore's finest Firewhiskey. The elder Dumbledore's supply was not of the highest quality, but this Harry Potter's dimensional jumps rarely left him in place long enough to enjoy the simple pleasures of a stiff drink. As he poured himself a glass, he looked around the room to survey his work. Almost fifty corpses littered the floor of the Hog's Head, all laid low in under a minute – a new personal best. The first meeting of Dumbledore's Army would also be its last. Things were going rather ahead of schedule in this reality, so Nemesis took the opportunity to relax and savor his recent victory over the Lone Traveler. He fingered Slytherin's locket as it hung around his neck, the true source of the "insurmountable advantage" he'd spoken of when taunting the Lone Traveler. Then, Nemesis whipped off his mask and cowl and downed a shot of Firewhiskey. There was a gasp from nearby, and he turned in that direction, even as a pair of blue eyes widened beneath golden locks. The dark wizard smiled cruelly.

"Does my identity shock you, Luna Lovegood?" he asked conversationally. Luna did not respond, so he took another drink. "Nothing to say? No cryptic remarks about nargles or wrackspurts or blubbering humdingers?"

Luna said nothing at first, but then, she summoned her courage and spoke. "I know who you are," she said simply.

He laughed. "I should hope so Luna. We've been classmates for quite a while."

"No, I don't mean that I know you as Harry Potter. I know you. You're the Dark Traveler, the Foe of Magic. The Destroyer."

The dark wizard laughed. "I swear, all these names. I can hardly keep up with them all. So what have the nargles been saying about me, Luna?"

"That you seek to destroy magic itself out of revenge for the tragedies of your life, but that you are eternally opposed by your equal and opposite, the Lone Traveler."

"Hmm, close but not quite." He poured another glass of liquor. "The truth, Luna my dear, is that there have been a succession of Lone Travelers and Dark Travelers in constant opposition. Whenever one of us pops it for good, the multiverse screws over another Harry Potter from some other reality and generates a replacement. Those who maintain that ridiculous Gryffindor sentimentality become Lone Travelers. Those who finally choose to see the world as it truly is and abandon that stupid 'saving people thing' become Dark Travelers. I've killed three Lone Travelers so far, though according to their memories, each of them has taken out a Dark Traveler or two. The last Lone Traveler though, I let live. You see, I'm conducting an experiment. Hermione would be so proud."

"An ... experiment."

"Yes, I fed him a bunch of rubbish about how I am actually a future incarnation of him. I passed off my perfect foresight of his actions as being the result of memories of past events. Honestly, I thought he was going to cry at the end. You see, I had this idea that if I could corrupt the current Lone Traveler to my mindset, it might break the cycle that Old Bitch Fate has set up for us and allow me to get on with my work unmolested by goody-two-shoes counterparts. Don't know if it will work or not, but I am immortal and the multiverse is infinite, so if nothing else, it's something to alleviate any boredom from endlessly killing my younger selves over and over again."

Luna shuddered and then collected herself. "So, out of curiosity, what is the source of your special foresight?"

"Clever girl. Get the dark wizard monologuing and he'll tell you a secret that might save your life. Which, honestly, isn't going to happen, but five points to Ravenclaw for trying. Anyway, I don't mind spilling that secret. I'm rather proud of it."

He reached up to finger his locket again. "The Locket of Salazar Slytherin. Purged of the taint of Tom Riddle's soul and enchanted to grant its wearer perfect Legilimency. And inside..." He flicked open the locket and a small stone popped out into his waiting hand. "The Resurrection Stone of Cadmus Peverell, which lets the bearer perceive, summon and command the souls of the dead. I've combined the two – rather creatively, I think – to give me a constant telepathic and precognitive link to any Harry Potters in any world I visit, including Harry Potters who are dimensional visitors. I literally know what they're planning before they do. The only problem is keeping it charged, as the fuel source is rather ... specialized."

He placed the stone on the countertop and rotated it to the left. Three flashes of light shot out of the stone, and suddenly, there were three ghostly figures in the bar. "Specifically, it requires the souls of three seers, each of whom has a personal connection to Harry Potter."

Luna looked on in horror. To her left was a vision of the centaur Firenze, who stood impassively, as if broken by his fate. There was a gaping chest wound where his heart should be. In the center, rocking back and forth on the floor in a fetal position, was Sybil Trelawny, her eyes a milky white. The third figure Luna could not identify at first. Clearly a young girl, her features were distorted, and where the other two were ghostly, she actually flickered like a guttering candle. Then, Luna gasped and put her hand over her mouth to stifle a scream. For a brief second, the girl's flickering image resolved itself just enough for Luna to see the Ravenclaw patch on the spirit's robes, just below a familiar butterbeer-cap necklace.

"Sadly," Harry said, with feigned remorse, " the magic degrades the souls over time until they lose all sense of self and disincorporate, but, as I said, the multiverse is infinite, so there is no shortage of replacements. "

Steeling herself, Luna pulled her hand away and looked at the Dark Traveler defiantly. "So that's why I'm still here? You wanted to taunt me before killing me and then binding me into your infernal device?"

He smiled, almost indulgently "Luna, I am not Voldemort. I do not taunt people and reveal my plans to them if there is the slightest possibility they could thwart me in any way. After I took out Hermione and my other self, you were the third person I killed." He gestured lazily off to the right, and Luna's eyes widened again, this time in utter terror at the sight of her own corpse lying against the wall, almost as if resting peacefully against the disemboweled remains of Neville Longbottom.

Harry reached for the Resurrection Stone. "Now, I understand this is stressful for you and you'd really like to be hysterical for a while, but I'm in a bit of a hurry. You see, there's a picture on the wall over there. Behind it is a passage, one that leads into the castle to the Room of Requirement. A passage that conveniently bypasses all of the castle's wards against dark magic. And before I go, I'd like to leave a little present for Dumbledore and the rest of the staff. So, I'd really be ever so grateful if you'd pop your soul into this rock for me. Not that you have a choice, but it will go faster and be less painful if you don't fight me. After all, those inferi won't raise themselves."

But Luna did scream. She kept screaming even as her soul was inserted into Slytherin's Locket. Nemesis didn't even notice. Not over the sounds of one-time friends and allies rising as bloodthirsty undead. Not over the sounds of his own vicious laughter as the inferi shambled their way towards the unsuspecting castle.

Say what one wants about the Dark Traveler, but it cannot be denied that he loves his work.