Harry Potter and the Flames of Rebellion

By RisingPhoenix7

Chapter 1: Worlds Apart

Harry awoke to a blazing heat on his back. He winced at the incredible brightness around him, getting to his feet. As he did so, he felt the ground shift slightly under them. Panicking, he looked down; but it was only the sand he was standing on.

Oh, good, I…wait, WHAT?!

Despite the harsh light attacking his eyes, he forced them open all the way. He made to say something, but his lips felt grainy and slightly chapped. He spat at his feet, a clump of sand and saliva falling to the surface. Something is wrong here… There were five individuals lying on the sand around him, all wearing black cloaks, just as he was. The sand stretched into the distance as far as he could see; there were no buildings or vehicles of any kind, or at least none visible. The heat was vicious; it was clear they were in a desert of some sort.

Worried about the individuals, he made for the closest one, turning them over. With a gasp, he saw that it was Ron. "Ron!" yelled Harry, shaking him. "Ron, wake up!"

Ron gave a start, groaning. "No more Chocolate Frogs, thanks…"

"Ron!" He kicked as lightly as possible into Ron's shin.

"OW! Hey!" Ron's eyes snapped open, and then immediately closed. "Blimey, Harry, turn the light off!"

"It's not me. It's…" He looked up as he was speaking, and then received a shock. There, hanging in the sky, was a brightly shining sun…and not far away, there was another. "Ron…it's the suns."

"The sun? How'd we get outside?"

"Suns, Ron. There are two!"

"What?"

Memories began to flood back to Harry, and he suddenly realized who the rest of his companions were. "Ron, go wake up Luna and Neville. I'll get Hermione." He looked over at the remaining individual. "Leave him until we've got everyone else." Ron, still adjusting to the heat and light, nodded, and they went about, rousing their friends. Harry knelt down next to Hermione, gently shaking her. "Hermione. Hermione, wake up!"

"Mmm…not now, Harry, I need to finish this essay…"

If he wasn't so worried about waking the last member of their group, he would have set off fireworks or something with his wand. But as it was…wait…of course! Can't believe I forgot! He drew his wand from his robes, pointing it at the tallest of the figures in the sand. He opened his mouth to speak, and then frowned. "Oh, that's right, we haven't learned Conjuration yet." He'd wanted to tie the man up, but he would have to hope Hermione could manage it. He frowned, and then got an idea. Harry leaned in close to whisper in her ear. "Hermione, you're late for the exam."

"WHAT?!" she yelped, jolting awake and nearly head-butting him in the process.

She's going to wake him up! And indeed, the man began to stir. "Hermione, tie him up, quick!" he hissed, pointing at the man.

Without even asking, she drew her wand, snapping "Incarcerous!" The man had only just risen to his knees when thick ropes bound him tightly and knocked him right over again.

"Agh, what the devil?!" he yelled.

Hermione's eyes widened, and then she too winced at the brightness of the twin suns. "Harry, what's going on? Where're Neville and Luna?"

"Right here," Neville said, walking up to them. "Harry, where are we?"

"I don't know." He looked around them at the arid landscape. "If I had to guess, we're in a desert."

"Yeah, I figured that, too."

"Not just any desert," Luna said brightly. "We're on a different planet." All of them turned to stare at her; even the bound man. "Well, we're in a strange desert, with two suns above us. Earth doesn't have two suns. So, different planet."

Hermione stared at her, amazed. "She…she's right. It's the only thing that makes sense."

"We could be dreaming," Ron suggested.

"All five of us?" countered Neville.

"Let me go, you stupid little fools!" the man yelled. They ignored him.

"Aguamenti!" shouted Hermione suddenly, and a small spray of water splashed Ron right in the face.

"Hey, cut that out!" he snapped. "Fine, fine, we're not dreaming!"

"Strange," Hermione muttered, looking at her wand. "The spell is supposed to create a jet of water at full power."

"Don't worry about me or anything," Ron muttered, wiping his face with the cuffs of his robes. "I'll just dry myself off, then."

"Wait," Neville said. "If we're on a different planet, how did we get here?"

"That's a good question, Neville." Harry turned to the man, who was still trying and failing to escape his bonds. "You're Rookwood, aren't you? What happened to us?"

"And why should I tell you anything?" he snarled.

"Because if you don't, we'll leave you here like that," Harry said coldly. "Answer us and we'll take you with."

"Harry…" Hermione began, shocked.

"You heard me," he said, glaring at the man.

Rookwood, for his part, glared back. However, his face was full of barely-concealed fear. "…Fine. Do you remember us fighting in the Department of Mysteries?"

Harry frowned, thinking back. The Department of Mysteries…


"Hermione, look out!" Harry yelled. She ducked under the Killing Curse that sailed over her head.

"NO!" Lucius Malfoy yelled. "We need the prophecy! Leave them alive!"

One of the doors in the room they were in crashed open, and Ron, Neville and Luna burst through it, pursued by one of the brains that had been in the earlier room. Ropes of what looked like thought were extending from it, trying to ensnare the three. "Harry!" Ron yelled.

"Ron!" Hermione shouted.

"Enough of this nonsense!" roared Rookwood. "We don't need them all alive, just Potter!" He raised his wand. "Ava-"

"NO!" Harry roared, running at the man and forcing his wand upward.

"Let…go…of me!" the Death Eater growled, the two of them struggling over his wand.

"We'll help, Harry!" Neville yelled, and he and the other two ran at Rookwood, the brain still looming behind them.

"Stop it, you fools! NO!" The combined power of the teens forced the wand out of his hand, and he grabbed Harry, yanking him as he moved backwards. Harry, who had made to move forward, accelerated the process, and Rookwood flew right off his feet. The sudden lack of resistance sent Harry tumbling forward, bringing Ron and the other two with him. He felt Hermione grab his arm…felt a strange sensation as the brain closed a tendril of thought around his other arm…the whole group crashed into something…and then…

And that was where his memory left off.


"I remember now," Harry muttered. "We crashed into something. But why would that send us here?"

"I was trying to Apparate away," Rookwood said. "Take you to the Dark Lord directly. And we crashed into that damnable cabinet!"

"What cabinet?"

"The one with the Time Turners." He glared. "That was when I tried to Apparate. I don't know what happened after that; you woke up before I did."

Harry tried to remember. But other than an uncomfortable sense of squeezing and tingling, he couldn't recall anything else.

"How are we going to get back?" Hermione asked.

"We can worry about that later," Harry said. "For now, we need to find a town or some kind of settlement. I don't fancy spending any more time out here than we need to."

"Agreed," Ron said. He looked over to Rookwood. "Who's guarding him?"

"I'll do it," Neville said, staring at the Death Eater. "If he tries to escape, I'll stop him."

"Good. Thanks, Neville," Harry said gratefully. "Okay, listen up everyone. No matter what happens, we travel as a group. You included," he said with a look at their captive. "I don't know what might be in a desert, but-"

"Oh, there's loads of things!" Luna said eagerly. "There's lizards and cacti and giant spiders that-"

"Okay thanks Luna that's great," Ron said breathlessly, his face going somewhat pale.

Harry smiled slightly. "Well, then. Let's go."

It took them very little time traveling for Harry to decide that he didn't much care for deserts at all. As far as he was concerned, this was reasonable with how unforgiving the heat was; even if they'd only had to worry about one sun, he doubted his opinion would change any.

On Luna's advice, they had torn off sections of their robes to wrap around their heads. This kept the worst of the sun off their heads, and with another strip of fabric off the robes, a mask to keep the blowing sand out of their mouths. Though Rookwood didn't express any appreciation, Harry still gave him the same impromptu head coverings; he may have been their enemy, but Harry wasn't going to leave him to die if he could help it. …Not that Rookwood needed to know that. Hopefully they could find a way back soon, and their Death Eater captive could be put in Azkaban where he belonged. Until then, they would march him right beside them.

He hated that they didn't know where to go. The Four Point spell told them where north was well enough, but that didn't help when they didn't know their current location or a desired one. They could send up sparks, but without knowing whether the creatures on the planet were friendly, that was an incredibly dangerous move. They'd agreed, however, that if things became desperate enough, it would be an option.

They trudged in the same direction for what felt like hours. Harry chose it on impulse, with no particular reasoning, yet no one had complained. Hermione had questioned why, but with no better ideas, she agreed that progress in any direction was better than staying in the desert.

The group traveled onward. That cursed heat wasn't letting up at all, though Harry was sure the suns had moved a little further down in the sky. Perhaps it was that same heat, but Harry was getting a strange feeling of being…drawn, somehow. It wasn't the sudden jerk that a Portkey caused, but more of a slow, gentle pull. He looked over at the others. None of them said anything, but Ron seemed determinedly focused on the direction they were heading, and Luna looked almost as if she were listening to a sound that only she could hear.

"This is stupid," Rookwood muttered, an edge to his voice. "We should make camp and wait for the night."

"It'll be freezing at night," Hermione replied testily. "And that might be when the creatures on this planet hunt."

Off in the far distance, in the direction they had come from, there was an unearthly howling roar.

"And what if they hunt during the day?" the Death Eater growled, gritting his teeth.

"Then we'd better get as far as we can from it," said Ron, in a tone that implied the discussion was over. To their surprise, Rookwood did not press the issue, and their journey continued in silence.

They stopped after a few minutes to drink water; Hermione showed them the water conjuring charm and, with no dishware at hand, they drank nearly directly from wand tip. To Hermione's worry, the spell once more only conjured a gentle stream of water, but Harry thought they would be okay as long as they got to a settlement of some kind soon. What he was more worried about was food; he's asked and Hermione said something about an exception to the third law of…something or other…the point was that they couldn't make food out of nothing.

They continued on, and to Harry's surprise, he felt slightly more tired than when they stopped. Looking at the others, he could see that they all seemed to feel how he did. Hermione, however, was suffering the worst; she was panting as if from heavy exercise, and she seemed as if she could barely keep moving. "Hermione, are you okay?" asked Ron.

"Just…fine…" she said breathlessly.

"Maybe we should stop for a short while," Neville suggested. "If we can just…" He broke off, staring ahead of them. "Whoa…"

They had come to the crest of a dune. There was a somewhat steep decline from the top of the dune to a large area of packed sand. Not far from them, a group of animals was resting on the sand. They looked almost like dark, woolly sheep the size of an elephant, with oversized mouths and lips. Their horns were massive in diameter, curling backwards into loops; they rather reminded him of ram's horns. There were perhaps twenty total; fifteen adults, and five smaller ones, all making intermittent mooing sounds.

"They're beautiful!" Luna said in admiration.

Harry could sort of see what she meant. While he much preferred owls, the various features of these creatures combined to form an outline that made them look like giant puppets. He would even call them cute. "I wonder what they are."

"I'll tell you what they are," Ron said, grinning. "A ride. Anything that big should be able to carry us; we make friends with one, and we ride it right into a city."

"Hey, that could work!" Neville exclaimed, beaming at Ron. "Brilliant!"

"I'm impressed, Ron," Hermione said, smiling.

"Always the tone of surprise," he muttered.

"I hate to ruin your carefully laid plans," Rookwood interrupted. "…Well, actually I don't, but exactly how are you going to make friends with those odd…cows?"

"Fair point, that," Ron said, frowning. "Anybody have any food we can offer them?"

"If we had any, we'd have eaten it by now," Neville said pointedly.

"Hmm," said Hermione, thinking. "Perhaps we…could…" She trailed off as Luna strode determinedly past her. "Er…Luna?"

"Care of Magical Creatures was always my best subject. They may not be 'magical'," she said, walking towards the nearest one, "but the idea is the same."

"Luna!" Neville hissed. "Come back!" She did not, however, though she did stop. After a moment's pause, she started walking to her left, circling around the creature before coming to a stop at its side. "What is she doing?"

"I'm not sure," Harry said, watching her. "I think…she's trying to make sure it sees her."

"But if she does that, it's going to attack!"

"I don't think so," Ron said. "Maybe it's like hippogriffs? You approach with respect and they let you close the distance."

They continued watching as she stopped again, waiting. The creature she had approached turned its head slowly to look at her. The two held their gaze for a long time; at least a minute had passed before something happened, and Harry spent the entire time holding as still as possible, hoping that he wouldn't startle the creature.

But, eventually, something did happen. The creature shifted, rising up slowly to stand. Once it had, it ambled over to Luna, peering at her curiously. It stopped some feet away from her, and then suddenly, a long tongue shot out of its mouth.

It was all Harry could do to not jump in shock, and from the sound of Ron's sharp intake of breath, he was not the only one. Luna, however, stood firm as the creature's tongue stopped a mere foot from her. As Harry looked, it almost seemed like the tongue was…sniffing at her? Did the creatures have no noses?

"It's going to eat her, you know," Rookwood whispered.

"Shut it," Neville growled.

"She was the one foolish enough to approach it. Not my fault if-"

"Shut it, or I will make you," he replied. Rookwood rolled his eyes, but obeyed all the same.

The creature's tongue retracted, and its owner took a cautious step closer to Luna. She closed distance, reaching out a hand. The beast flinched slightly, but then paused, and allowed her to touch it. She scratched behind where Harry thought he saw an ear, and the creature made a contented-sounding mooing.

"I don't believe it," their captive muttered. "The little brat actually did it."

Neville promptly slapped the back of Rookwood's head.

Luna motioned them over, smiling. "It's okay, she's friendly."

"'She'?" asked Ron curiously. "How can you tell?"

"Some of them seem to have smaller horns than the others, which is a common feature between males and females of a species," she said. "That on its own doesn't guarantee anything. However, female animals are often, though not always, less aggressive than males, and she was hesitant when I approached. Put them together, and it's a good guess that she's female."

She spoke so matter-of-factly on this point that for a split second, Harry thought he heard Hermione's voice. He even turned to look at her, but she was staring at Luna in surprise with her mouth hanging open. Neville's eyes were wide, and Ron was looking back and forth between Luna and Hermione with his mouth moving wordlessly. "But you said 'she' with such confidence, as if you knew," Harry pointed out.

She blinked. "Oh…I did, didn't I?" A distant look, quite apart from her usual dreamy expression, came over her. "I don't know how I know, I just…know."

"This is all quite interesting," Rookwood cut in, "but now that it's friendly, maybe we can use it?"

Ron glared at the Death Eater for a moment, before saying in an undertone to Harry "He's got a point."

"We'll need all the help we can get if we're going to get to some kind of shelter." He looked at Luna. "How many of us do you think can fit on her?"

She tilted her head back and forth for a few moments. "Two, maybe three. Depends on her pace, I suppose."

"Well, as long as we don't have to worry about water, we can afford a slower pace," said Neville, looking over the animals. "You think you can make friends with another one?"

"I don't know," she admitted with a frown. "But maybe we should just make sure she's willing to carry us first."

Hermione nodded. "After all, if even the nice ones don't let us ride, we're right back where we started. Good thinking, Luna." She met Ron's inquisitive look. "What? It's a good plan."

"Oh, nothing," said Ron hurriedly, but Harry could see a smirk on his face. "Who's going first?"

"You are," Luna said simply. "You and Hermione, plus one more person."

"Erm…okay, but why me?"

"You're taller; you can keep a better watch for us." She ushered them up to the wooly creature, stopping at its side. "Here, come on," she said to the rest of them, smiling.

Neville pushed Rookwood closer, and he looked at the group with a scowl. "And how do you propose I get on?"

"Stupefy." A jet of red light leapt from Neville's wand, less than an inch from the man's back. Ron strode over to help Neville catch the unconscious man, propping him up between them. "I'll be glad not to have to prod him along," grumbled Neville.

"Harry, trade with Ron," said Luna. "He'll need to be on the front. Hermione, can you help me?"

She nodded, and the two of them went to boost Ron up. He made a misstep, however, and fell onto his backside on the sand. "Ugh, I hate this stuff," he snapped, standing back up and brushing himself off. "Let's try again." This time, he was able to get onto the creature's back. As he did, however, he immediately held his nose. "Eurgh...These things smell awful."

"Well, Ron," said Hermione in an irritated voice. "The next time we're trapped on an alien desert planet with no possible way of getting home, I'll make sure the animals smell like a rose garden."

There was a brief moment of silence before Neville spoke. "…You don't think we'll be able to get home?" he asked quietly, a worried look on his face.

"Oh…Neville, I-" She broke off, looking flustered. "I didn't mean…I was just…"

"We'll get home," Luna said in a confident voice.

"R-right! Exactly." Though there was not as much confidence in her tone as there was in her words. "…Anyway, let's lift up Rookwood; we can set him between Ron and me."

They did so, and though Harry was tempted to accidentally-on-purpose drop the Death Eater, they were able to place him behind Ron without much difficulty, stretched out on his stomach like a parody of a bedroll. Hermione followed a few moments later, settling onto the creature's back somewhat nervously.

"There we are," said Luna, nodding with satisfaction. "Now we'll need to get to another close one." She looked around, pointing to one not far from them. "That one looks like it might be calm; let's try it."

Hermione shifted on her perch, but was so jittery she ended up kicking lightly into the creature's hide. With a long mooing sound, the hairy creature began trudging determinedly forward.

"Oh, no; Harry, look!" Neville said, grabbing his shoulder and pointing to the rest of the herd.

He followed the direction Neville's finger pointed, and his eyes widened. The rest of the creatures were also getting up, making movements as if to go in the same direction as the female that Ron and Hermione were currently riding.

"How fascinating," said Luna thoughtfully. "She must have been the herd's leader. That would make them matriarchal in nature and-"

"Luna!" Harry said abruptly. "We can study them more later! Let's grab another one before we get left behind!"

"Don't run!" she said as he made to sprint at one. "Walk briskly; if we spook them, they might attack."

He obeyed, though not happily. They made their way to the one Luna had pointed at earlier. It was more difficult for them to lift Neville up onto a moving mount than the previous stationary one; he only made the jump most of the way, clinging onto the creature's fur to prevent himself falling right back off. However, he scrambled up onto the beast's back, turning around and reaching back down; the thing didn't even seem to notice that he'd climbed on at all.

Harry lifted Luna up, and she caught Neville's hand. With a grunt of exertion, he managed to pull her up behind him. "C'mon, Harry!" said Neville, trying to reach for him too.

The problem was, without another person to help him jump up, he couldn't quite reach. He jumped twice for Neville's outstretched hand, but failed each time. "I can't…quite…"

"Harry, they're moving faster now!" he said. Indeed, the creatures were beginning to march a little faster; not running full out, but moving to step in line with the beast that Ron and Hermione were riding.

I can't get left behind! Harry thought desperately. It can't end here…not yet! But how was he going to get as high as he needed? He couldn't reach even when jumping his highest, and he didn't think the creature would let him pull his way up on the wool. If he could just…reach…higher!

An odd thing happened then. He went to jump up again, and as he did, he desperately tried to put all the energy he could into the action. But as he pulled every bit of strength he could from his body, he suddenly had a powerful thought blaze in his mind. It spread through his being, almost like phoenix song. I can do this. For the briefest of moments, he felt a powerful sense of calm, confidence, and peace. As he did, he felt even more strength enter himself, as if pulled from somewhere else.

He leapt up, and he didn't stop; he went up and over Neville's hand, stopping abruptly just above the creature. He only just managed to ready himself before he dropped onto it; the impact felt like it bruised several sensitive areas.

"Harry…" breathed Neville, obviously impressed.

The beast, feeling the sudden impact, gave an impatient snort and quickened its pace. It strode right up behind the lead creature before slowing its pace to match hers.

"How'd you do that?" Neville asked him.

With the pain ebbing away, Harry tried to think. "I…I dunno. I guess I just needed to, and I did it. Maybe it's something about this planet."

"Oh, isn't this wonderful?" Luna asked them, looking around at the herd moving together. "We're off toward the horizon, on these majestic creatures." She reached forward, holding Neville around the middle. He jumped slightly, but managed to keep seated. "I'll be sure to get Daddy some pictures before we return; he'd love to see these animals."

Harry was having difficulty appreciating the spectacle. From a detached perspective, it was an impressive sight, seeing the score and some of creatures all moving together. From a personal perspective, now that the pain had mostly subsided, he was starting to experience firsthand what Ron had mentioned about the smell.

As they rode, that last bit was at least something Harry got used to. The suns were still hanging resolutely in the sky, and he found himself hoping strongly that the days were not longer than the ones on Earth. Still, the creatures marched along surely, without need of guidance or encouragement as they entered a rocky sort of area. In fact, they were headed almost perfectly east, according to his Four Point spell. This item made him curious, and so he voiced it to Luna and Neville.

"Some creatures have a naturally good sense of direction," she said. "These don't seem like they're lost or confused, so they must know where they're going."

"And what if they're going somewhere dangerous?"

Luna shook her head. "They would want to go somewhere familiar and safe. If they're domesticated, they'd return to whoever cares for them; even if they're wild, they'd have a point to meet to prepare for the evening. It could be a cave, or oasis of some kind."

"I'm hoping for a town, myself," Neville commented. His face was slightly flushed; Harry wondered if it was from the heat.

They had another round of getting water to drink from their wands; Luna even gave some to their riding animal. As they did, though, Harry noticed that he was becoming more fatigued than he should have been for the relatively little activity they'd undergone, even with his odd leap onto their steed. He frowned, thinking it could have something to do with the desert air. Something tickled the back of his mind, but he couldn't quite catch hold of it.

Harry looked around them nervously as the rocky area became something of a canyon; he felt sure that they were being watched, and yet nothing approached or hindered them. He wasn't quite sure if he wanted whoever was watching to approach or not; it was unsettling not to see their watchers, but given the types of creatures they were riding on, Harry doubted their observers were anyone they could call "normal".

He wasn't sure, but he thought it was an hour later that Ron and Hermione waved to them, pointing forward. Harry stretched up slightly, and with a leap of his heart, saw movement and the gleam of metal in the distance. It was hard to tell at this distance, but it almost looked like it could be a large city. Large objects seemed to be rising into the air as others landed, all in irregular intervals.

"How far do you think?" Neville called ahead to Ron.

"Dunno!" he yelled back. "But we're on the right track now!" He glanced behind him as Rookwood stirred from his place on the beast's back. He looked back at Neville, shrugged, and turned back forward.

They continued onward, drawing closer to the city. To Harry's amusement, he saw the moment that Rookwood discovered the creature's strong smell. To the man's frustration, however, his still-bound hands prevented him from covering his nose. It was a small, petty thing, Harry knew, but he'd enjoy whatever difficulties the man had whenever he could; he deserved far worse.

There was a high speed whining noise, and something zoomed past the herd of creatures. It almost looked like a convertible car, though with large protrusions along the back of it. "Watch where you're goin', ya kriffing idiots!" the bearded man within yelled back at them, and as the craft sped into the distance, Harry noticed with some surprise that there were no wheels of any kind on it.

Harry met Neville's glance. "Magic, you think?" he asked Neville.

"Didn't seem like it."

The three of them looked over to Ron and Hermione, who likewise seemed nonplussed. Rookwood, however, was looking curious and somewhat calculating.

A mere minute later, when they drew near to what looked like a small adobe structure, the creatures suddenly stopped and began mooing in an insistent manner. "I think we've reached our stop," Luna said.

"When we're still so far out?" asked Neville. But he shrugged and slid down the creature's side, landing on the rocky surface. He held his arms up. "C'mon, Harry."

Harry made to follow, but froze as he saw something out of the corner of his eye. He flicked his gaze toward the canyon they'd come out of, and saw the flicker of something brown moving out of sight. He stared at the spot, waiting, for several moments, but nothing appeared. Warily, he dismounted as well.

They all got down fairly easily; he and Neville caught Luna, the three of them helped Hermione down, and they were able to transfer both Ron and their captive to solid ground. They began moving away, but the female that Luna had befriended gave a plaintive moo. Luna patted her on the head. "I'm sorry, girl. But we've got to say goodbye here." The creature nuzzled her hand, and she scratched it behind the ears once more.

"Hey! What the hell do you think you're doing? Stop messing with that bantha!"

All of them jumped, turning to look at a man who was rushing towards them. He had loose-fitting clothes and a scraggly mustache, and was waving his arms frantically. "That…'bantha', was it?" asked Hermione.

"Yeah, stop before…she…" He broke off, looking with surprise at the 'bantha' that seemed at ease with Luna. "…Huh. That's odd. Usually it's just me she takes a liking to." He shook himself, and then seemed to get a proper view of them. "What in the world are you wearing? Who puts on black in a desert like this?!"

They were quiet for a moment. Harry watched Hermione, who seemed to be doing some fast thinking. "Our spaceship c-crashed out in the desert!" she wailed, pretending to cry just as she had done for Umbridge. It was much to her advantage that the torn bits of robe were still wrapped around her face; it made it much easier to hide her lack of actual tears. "We've been w-wandering for ages, and we d-don't know w-where we are!" She sank to her knees, still pretending to sob.

To Harry's immense relief, Ron cottoned on instantly. "It's been hardest on her," Ron said, patting her shoulder in a soothing manner. "Her father died in the crash, you see."

The man's face paled, and he looked suddenly understanding. "O-oh…don't cry, you. You see, you're- wait. Why is that man tied up?"

Harry did some fast thinking of his own. "He went a bit funny in the crash; we've been meaning to get him to the hospital. Danger to himself, you see."

Rookwood rolled his eyes. "Moon buckets," he said in a dull voice, as if disgusted that he was playing along. "Found the rat up the wire and sneezed the knife right off."

The understanding look returned. "Ah, it's okay. I've seen it happen before; don't be too hard on him, yeah? Space does strange things to people." He motioned toward the city. "Well, thankfully, you're a short walk from the spaceport. Mos Eisley's right there." He looked around at them, worry etched in his face. "And if I were you, I'd go straight to the Imperial outpost. Don't go messing around with fixing him up until they can get your identicards processed. Look for the bright white building; it should have a sign with big letters to help."

Harry felt a sinking in his stomach. He was absolutely sure that they didn't have any "identicards", and that wasn't going to be doing them many favors. They didn't have any form of identification on them that he could think of; unless you counted wands, and he doubted the people on this world did. Also (and it may have been his imagination), he felt a strange prickling feeling on hearing "Imperial outpost". "I see," he lied, hoping desperately that they could get home as soon as possible.

"Thank you very much, kind sir," Luna said, bowing slightly.

The man waved them off, looking uncomfortable. "Don't worry about it. I just feel bad for anyone on this dustball not here by choice, is all." He looked between them and the banthas for a few moments. "And if you're short on credits getting home, I could always use a few farmhands. It's hard work, but a lot more honest than the rabble you'll find in Mos Eisley."

"We'll keep that in mind," said Ron, sounding as grateful as Harry felt. "Take care of yourself."

"And you." Shaking his head, he strode past them to the lead bantha, talking with her in a soft voice.

"To the, er, 'spaceport', then?" asked Neville.

"Absolutely," Hermione said, getting to her feet abruptly and ceasing her pretense of crying. "If he can talk about space travel so casually, I'm sure they can get us home in no time."

"Let's hope so." He motioned them forward, and they strode toward the city proper.


By the time they made it into the city, Harry had come to the conclusion they were almost certainly much farther from home than he'd anticipated.

Seeing the "banthas" had been one thing, but there were strange creatures of all sorts on the way into town. There were small ones, like the tiny human-like creatures in brown robes with eyes that glowed like hot coals. There were large ones, like the beasts that looked like lizards the size of cattle. But strangest of all were the ones that were human-sized. There were people the same as them, to be sure, but there were also individuals with large insectoid eyes and trumpet-shaped ears, or heads reminiscent of hammerhead sharks, and once he swore he saw a being that looked exactly like a demon; horns and all. Neville had had to go back and retrieve Luna from goggling twice.

They'd disposed of their facial coverings not far into the city. They also had, with some reluctance, removed the ropes around Rookwood's legs (but nowhere else) to at least blend in somewhat better. To Harry's surprised relief, they seemed to get little attention; most people seemed, in fact, to be distracted with matters of their own. Even the street vendors were speaking in hushed tones to different customers; sometimes in English, but often times in languages he did not understand.

"Here we are, I suppose," said Ron dubiously. Harry turned his attention toward the building they'd just arrived at. Sure enough, it was a pristine white structure, but it was covered in characters that he couldn't decipher. "I don't understand," he muttered. "That bloke earlier was speaking perfect English, and he said we'd see the sign, but I can't make heads or tails of it."

"Of course," said Rookwood, with a tone of dawning comprehension. "It was the brain; it grabbed us, didn't it?"

"And if it did?" Hermione said, staring at him. "What of it?"

"I used to work in the Department of Mysteries; I know what those brains are for. We were using some of them to study the storage of knowledge, but since we don't suddenly know unfamiliar things, it wasn't those. Others were experimental translators; the idea was you could hear a language, and the brain would translate it for you."

"But that doesn't work," said Neville, frowning. "We heard loads of conversations on the way to this outpost and I couldn't understand any of them except the ones in English."

"They weren't in English. We couldn't get the translator brain to work for more than one language; the first unfamiliar one the user heard. After that, it was impossible to get them to adapt to any others. It also doesn't work for writing."

Hermione's eyes widened. "So that man from earlier…"

"It was our good luck he seems to have been speaking a common language. But where did the brain go? I remember the tendrils of thought tangling around us, but-"

"No loitering," snapped a voice from the doorway of the building. A man in a grey uniform had appeared. He had a pinched face, with close-cropped black hair and an insignia on his chest that looked like multicoloured medicine caplets. There was an authoritarian air around him; clearly this was a man who had time for no nonsense. He spoke, to their surprise, in a clear Londoner accent. "If you've business here, state it immediately. If not, move along." And he actually moved toward them to shoo the group away.

Harry rankled at the man's attempt to chivvy them, but before he could react, Ron's voice rang out in a stern manner. "You're not going to move us along, you're going to help us! Our ship crashed in the desert, and we need help!"

The man stopped, and he looked at them dubiously. "…Your ship crashed, you say? How did you get here?"

"A farmer found us," he said, in a tone of frustration. "Brought us to town on the backs of his banthas. Ask him! He'll tell you!"

The man's look of doubt cleared somewhat. "Hmm…well, I suppose I could. But if you say so…" He rolled his eyes. "Oh, very well. Let's get you processed. Follow me." His eyes flicked to Rookwood.

"Space madness," Hermione said hurriedly.

"Ah, I see. We can get him some medical attention once your identicards go through."

"They were…lost," Neville said, panic evident in his voice. "When our ship crashed. All our belongings went up."

"Very well. Give me your names and I'll enter them in. We can issue you new cards within a few hours."

The sinking feeling was back in Harry's stomach. This was it. They had reached a point where the simple kindness of strangers could not hope to overcome their predicament.

"Neville, don't you remember?" Hermione said in an encouraging manner. "The one bag we had left had our identicards in them. See?" She held up a number of unusual looking cards with flickering readouts, handing one out to each of them.

Harry looked at his, and suddenly he understood. Somehow, Hermione had used a Summoning Charm on the officer's card, and then magically duplicated it. The picture on the card was that of the officer, but he was quite sure they were not supposed to be flickering, given the frown the official was wearing.

"They were damaged in the crash, though," she said disappointedly. "While they're working, we can get our…" She paused for the briefest of moments. "Uncle…to the hospital."

The official was looking between them, frowning. "Not before processing, you won't." His eyes flicked to Hermione, who was tucking her wand away. Harry's heart sank. The man drew what looked like a stubby gun, flicking a switch on the side of it. "Something in your pockets, child?" he snapped at her. "Why don't you turn them out and we can continue our discussion later. Say, when you're in a holding cell."

At these words, Rookwood launched at the man with a bellow. "Never!" he roared, smashing into the officer. As he hit, the gun in the official's hand went off, and what looked like a blue ring flew out of it into the sky. The two adults crashed into the ground, Rookwood still shouting. "I'm never going back to prison! You won't make me!"

As the man shouted for help, Harry could hear the clatter of approaching footsteps. "Run!" he hissed at the rest of them. They turned around, hurrying away from the brawl; Harry only just saw Rookwood work free of his bonds before they ran into two helmeted men wearing similar outfits to the official they'd just left. "He's gone mad!" he said desperately to them, waving in the direction of Rookwood. A small crowd had started to form, and he could hear the jeers and laughs of several human and non-human onlookers. "Attacked the Imperial official! You should stop him before he hurts someone!"

One of them nodded to him. "Right! You kids stay back; we'll take care of it. Come on, Jenlyns!" The two rushed towards the fracas, drawing their own weapons.

"Go," Harry whispered to the rest of them. "We need to get as far away from this as we can. But do it calmly. Casually."

"What about Rookwood?" Hermione asked as they attempted to turn their sprint into a brisk walk.

"What about him?" Ron grumbled.

"If we find a way back, we can worry about him then," answered Harry. "For now, let's move." No one questioned him, as they heard more weapons go off in the direction they'd fled from. They strode down one of the streets, the white building behind them growing slowly smaller. "Excuse me, sir?" he said to a passerby. It was one of the demon-looking creatures, but he was willing to risk a simple question if it could get them far away from this place. "Do you know where we could find a good pilot?"

The individual grinned. It was a startling sight, to be sure, but Harry felt no malice behind it (or so he hoped). "You just blow in from the Dune Sea or something? Try Chalmun's Cantina. The place is practically brimming with space jockeys. You'll find it down that way," he said, pointing to the intersection just ahead. "Take a right into there, then pass two intersections and take a left. Should get you there, and you'll find a pilot in no time. That is…" He looked them up and down. "If a bunch of fresh-faced younglings like you could survive a place like that." With a snort, he continued on.

"Charming," Ron muttered. "As if we…Hermione?"

She was looking utterly exhausted. She tried to wave off his concern, but was breathing hard enough that she couldn't quite speak. Ron looked worriedly at Harry.

"Let's slow our pace a little, but head for the cantina. Whatever we find, at least it's going to be out of the sun."


If Harry had been surprised before just seeing the streets of Mos Eisley, the cantina was something else entirely. There were species of every sort here; some he'd seen, some new. Two woolly-looking creatures were having what looked like a drinking contest at the bar in the centre of the place. An alluring looking woman that seemed to have slightly scaly skin was smoking some kind of strange apparatus in one corner. And there was a stage where peach-coloured creatures that looked like a cross between bald humans and shrimp were playing a tune that was as alien as it was catchy with curious-looking instruments.

"Keep your eyes and ears open," he muttered to the rest of them. "And whatever you do, don't get separated." They walked into the bar proper. Unlike out on the streets, they were getting a few looks here. However, Harry didn't much like the kind of looks they were. He could tell they were calculating, even appraising. Harry was determined to leave this place as soon as they found a suitable pilot.

"Pardon me?" he said to a creature with a bulbous blue head and bright red eyes. "Are you a pilot?"

"Get lost, kid," the creature muttered, nursing its drink. "I'm off the clock."

Harry stepped away, irritated. Alien or no, it seemed people could be just as rude and unhelpful as on Earth.

A man cleared his throat only a few feet away from them. Harry started slightly, and they turned to look at him. He had a heavily-scarred, crooked face, with a foul-looking leather duster draped around him. There was a gun of some kind casually strapped onto each of his legs, and he was sitting at a table with three other individuals. They looked coldly at Harry and his friends, and he felt the instinctive urge to step in front of Ron and Hermione. "Can we help you?" said Harry, forcing himself to attempt politeness.

"Well, aren't you a bunch of interesting ones?" the man said.

"Erm…yes?"

"Young and fit, I see. You'd fetch a nice price on the market."

A chill ran up Harry's back. "And…what sort of market would that be?"

The man's face split into a grin that, if anything, made his features look more crooked. "Let's call it the…'indentured service' market. People like to get them young so they can be trained; and you're just young enough that you can learn while still being useful for labor."

"We'll pass, thanks," Ron growled, staring the man in the eye.

The three sitting around the man all raised weapons that looked like rifles at them. The man's smile grew. "You won't get the choice."

"There you are!" a voice came from behind them. They turned to find a man with brown hair striding towards the group. He was wearing an odd mix of clothes; dark pants with yellow piping on the outside of each leg, a white shirt, and a black vest of some kind. "I thought I told you to stay on the ship. You're not getting paid to wander around like this!" He smiled at the crooked man. "Sorry about that. New crew; what can you do?"

"I don't think so, 'captain'," the man said, his teeth set in a smile that looked more like a grimace. "They are my property."

The man's smile didn't drop. On the contrary, he looked as relaxed as could be. "You really want to be messing with my crew, Vargas? I sure hope you'll be able to explain to Jabba why he'll have a problem shifting his merchandise for a while."

The smile fled from the crooked man's face, replaced by a snarl. "You won't be able to hide behind Jabba forever, boy. One day you'll fall from his good graces, and when you do-"

"I'll tell him to give you a call. Now c'mon," he said, addressing Harry and his friends, "we don't have all day."

With nothing much else to do, they followed the man as he led them back outside, and then down through winding corridors that branched off in several directions, not stopping until a good few minutes later. "There, that should be far enough." He looked at them, his eyebrows knitted. "Now just what the hell do you think you're doing, wandering around a place like that? It's dangerous enough for a hardened thug, let alone kids."

"We're…ah…" muttered Neville. "Well…lost."

"No kidding. You want my advice? See if you can hire a sandcrawler crew into letting you ride back home. The smell'll be awful, but you're not gonna get shot, sold, or worse."

"We don't have any money, or a way to get home," Ron said. His stomach began to growl. "…Or food."

A look of concern passed over the man's face before it hardened into a scowl. "Still not the greatest idea to be hanging around the cantina." He sighed. "Look, I'm not your dad, and I've got things to do. I'm sorry you're lost, but I have my own problems."

"You said you need crew, right?" Hermione asked hurriedly. "We can help!"

The man snorted. "I'm running a freighter, not a daycare."

"We're not children!" snapped Ron.

"No, you're not. But you're as green as they come." He looked at their angry and disappointed faces. "…Listen, I'd help if I could. But it's hard enough keeping just me and my first mate fed. It'd be tough taking just one of you, and even three would probably start losing me more money than I'd make."

Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Hermione cover her mouth. It almost seemed as if she was going to whisper something. A suspicion crossed Harry's mind…He settled a hand on her shoulder and then shook his head. She stopped, looking at him questioningly.

It was hard to say why he'd stopped her. Perhaps he felt wrong about her using a spell on someone who had just saved them. Or maybe he didn't want to base their future interactions on an underhanded trick. Or maybe it was the fact that she looked barely able to stand as it was.

The man looked at him questioningly. "Please, sir," Harry said. "Give us a chance. If we are too much for you to contribute to, you can drop us off somewhere, but let us try first."

The man looked between them, and Harry could see the conflict within the man's bearing. After a few moments, he shook his head, but smiled. "Ah, fine. Just make sure you work hard! You slack off, and I'll…I dunno, drop you off on a Rebel world or something." Harry didn't need to be a Legilimens to tell that the man's heart wasn't in that last declaration. "Well, c'mon, let's go to the ship."


"It's gorgeous."

Harry jumped slightly; Luna had been so silent he had almost forgotten she was there. Still, looking at the ship, he had to admit that he agreed. "It almost looks like a home that flies."

The man chuckled. "You're already on the crew; you don't need to butter me up." A ramp descended from the ship, and the man stepped onto it, leaning into the ship.

"Hey! We've taken on some new hands! Get down here and say hi!"

They heard a sound that almost seemed like a lion's growl from within. They looked between each other, worried. There was a loud thumping noise, and a very tall creature walked down the ramp toward them. It was…what was it?

"Sorry about the late intro," the man said, leaning against one of the ramp's support struts. "I'm Han Solo, and this is Chewbacca. Welcome aboard the Millennium Falcon."


CHAPTER END

Happy Star Wars Day! I actually had this idea pop into my head last year ago to the day; was intending to have a lot more chapters ready to go, but all stories start somewhere. I was also intending the crossover to be a surprise, but story tags can be a two-edged sword, huh?

As for timelines, this will hew far more to original canon than it will to Disney's, though that's not to say that every single piece of the original Expanded Universe is written in stone. Nor will all the events in the galaxy play out exactly as they have before. I'll try my best to make this a good story, but please be patient with me!

Hope you're all doing well, and see you again soon!