AN: Please keep in mind that from now on this is happening in an alternative universe. Expect the unexpected and have fun along the ride!

Chapter 4

Harry blinked his eyes open. Bleary eyed he sat up-

"Humph!" And quickly went down again after hitting a hard surface.

Closing his eyes for a moment he tried again, more carefully this time. One hand went automatically up to his head to rub it. He froze.

In the dim room he could just barely make out his hand as he brought it in front of his eyes. His hand was smaller than he was used to. Also, the ring glistering in the half-light-

With a start Harry was awake and frantically looking around the room. He was sitting on the old worn mattress he was way too familiar with. He had spent many a sleepless night on it. The wall and door were so close he could have touched both at the same time without having to stretch his arms fully. In the corner of the room, cupboard, he mentally corrected himself, were the spiders he used to have conversations with when he was especially lonely. He could even see a hand of one of the old broken toy soldiers, which he had managed to save from the bin, stick out from under his mattress, where he hid them as a child.

The coppery smell in the air and the dark substance he was lying in, were new though. Moving his head slightly to the right, he could see a small puddle of it pooling in front of the bed.

Harry gulped and carefully reached out for his magic-

BANG

The small explosion pressed him back into the mattress and caused a loud ringing sound in his ears.

He thought he heard some other sounds in the background, but the ringing in his ears was too loud for him to properly focus. His heart raced.

The door to his cupboard slammed open. He was grasped by the arm and roughly dragged out. Someone was screaming in his face. The words did not make sense. More shouting. He was being shaken.

Now the shouting came from two different sides. Another pair of arms grasped him, gentler than the first ones, but still with punishing firmness. The other pair of hands left. He was dragged somewhere. The new voice continued to shout, the grip on his arm becoming even more painful when he stumbled and failed to follow fast enough.

The dancing lights and blurry shapes in front of him caused his head to hurt. He closed his eyes. Harry was dragged up a set of stairs, barely managing to keep his balance. The ring on his finger was painfully hot.

A soft voice sounded, barely more than a whisper in the wind to Harry's sore ears. The grip on his arm softened. They stopped. Harry tried to focus on his breathing. Simply breathing in and out. In and out. In-

It took him a moment to realise that the ringing in his ears was finally starting to fade. Only the soft voice could still be heard. It sounded male, so much he could recognise.

He carefully opened his eyes to narrow slits. Lights were still dancing in front of his eyes, but he could tune them out now. Everything was still too bright though.

The hands left him and the previously loud voice said something before he could hear feet retreating.

A soft mumble came from the male voice. He did not react. The mumbling continued.

"-rry?"

Small hands touched his face. "Harry?" The voice sounded concerned now. "They did not hurt you, did they?" The hands were petting down his body, obviously looking for injuries. "You would tell me if they were hurting you again, wouldn't you?"

Harry finally managed to open his eyes completely and found two big concerned eyes right in front of his face. He blinked. Then blinked again.

"Dudley," he rasped. Confusion coloured his voice. "What-?"

One of the hands, surprisingly thin and soft, grasped his and gently tugged him towards what he now recognised as the bathroom at Private Drive number 4. Harry saw that his cousin's other hand was clenched into a fist. It was clenched so tight that his fingers were white. They might even be trembling, but he wasn't sure as he still had trouble focusing.

The sound of a lock clicking, caused Harry's focus to immediately switch. He eyed Dudley warily. He would not be able to defend himself. Not in his current state. His head still hurt with each heartbeat and his slight kept blurring.

He flinched back as his cousin reached out towards him. His cousin stopped before slowly reaching out towards him again. In an unusual considerate act Dudley made sure to move slowly enough for Harry to be able to pull back at any given time.

He carefully peeled Harry's clothes off. Harry realised with a start that they were sticking to his body in an uncomfortable way. He heard a sharp intake of breath and focused on Dudley again.

"Blood...so-so much blood! What happened? When did this happen?" His clothes were now removed faster, though still with care. "They said you were already asleep when I came home two days ago!" Dudley sounded desperate and Harry could only stare at him. "When I woke up yesterday, they said you had already left. When I came back from my friends yesterday, they said you were yet again asleep. I-"

This world had to be vastly different for Dudley to show any kind of concern for him. The thought about the new world he was in, caused his headache to increase.

"Ow," Harry commented.

The hands paused in the middle of untangling his hair from the sticky substance on his shirt. Blood, his mind corrected. His blood. He shuddered. The constant rambling of his cousin stopped for a moment, then, "Did I...hurt you?" Dudley sounded devastated by the mere thought. Harry simply stared.

"I-" Dudley was interrupted by Harry slowly shaking his head. His mind incapable of processing the current situation.

This was obviously the right answer as his cousin renewed his efforts to free his hair. When he finally succeeded, the shirt was pulled over his head and haphazardly thrown on the bathroom floor. His pants followed.

The shower was turned on and a very confused Harry was gently shoved into the shower. The shower door remained open. For some strange reason Dudley insisted on assisting him. Something about him looking too pale and way too much blood.

"I am glad your power healed you," Dudley said after a while. "I-I was really scared when I did not see you this morning. I mean they are my parents, but-" His cousin's voice trembled. "-you are family too."

Harry paused and slowly turned around. Despite how bright everything was, he could clearly make out the serious expression on his cousins face. This was new. This was-

"Completely different," Harry breathed.

"Huh," his cousin commented in a tone that he knew all too well from his Dudley. Well, the Dudley from his previous world. His cousin was confused. That made two of them then.

"Duddykins!" A voice sounded from downstairs. "Are you going to be finished soon?"

Harry blanched.

"Five minutes mum!"

Slowly turning towards his cousin, he opened his mouth to speak, "W-Mumph!" ,but was rudely interrupted by a toothbrush being stuck in his mouth.

"We don't have much time. We need to hurry." He could merely stare as his cousin apparently decided he was too slow and started to brush his teeth for him. He choked.