A future somewhen…
He stared at his journal, a creation into which he had poured his memories and dreams, his heart and… soul. It was a handsome book with a red, leather cover and gold lock on one side. 'Journal', it read on the front cover in gold letters, and on the back cover, in smaller gilded font near the bottom, 'Flourish and Blotts, 1993'.
Gryffindor colours, and dated appropriately. All to prevent suspicions. Not that there likely would be any, with the enchantments it held. Spells to captivate and draw in the target; spells avert suspicion of, and encourage trust in, the contents; spells to deter notice from any but the target; such strong security spells that unless keyed in, it would take a curse breaker to open; and of course, most vitally, the spells that made it what it was … that made it a Horcrux.
He remembered once more the look of shock on Hermione's face, and the way she had screamed as the green light sped toward her. He smiled a grim, cold smile of remembered satisfaction. He really should have guessed sooner. A first year Muggle-born witch with her knowledge and ability? Unlikely. She'd been helping control him since the moment they met. He felt no remorse for his revenge. Besides, her death had served a purpose. He'd needed a murder to fracture his soul.
He looked down at the book again, caressing the cover. He shivered at the feeling of familiarity and belonging he got from his Horcrux. How Voldemort was able to part with so many of his own, and to hide them in places away from himself, he didn't know. Hopefully the target would have a similar reaction. It would help encourage him to be near the book, and to write in it, and so help speed the process along. Speed it along so he could see him once again.
Now, to send this to where it needed to be.
Before fifth year…
Harry found the book under his bed at the Dursleys, covered in dust. He'd been confused of course, wondering how it had gotten there. Then he'd seen the Flourish and Blotts logo and date gilded on the back. He didn't remember ever buying a journal from there. But in 1993, before third year, he'd spent half the summer at the Leaky Cauldron. He'd had plenty of opportunity to buy it then during his wanderings of Diagon Alley, so perhaps had just forgotten in the couple of years since. It seemed the sort of thing he'd pick, being appealingly Gryffindor with red and gold. And somehow, it just felt right to hold it.
Then Harry wrote in it.
And it wrote back.
It was a week before he dug the journal back out from the wastepaper basket he'd chucked it in. For some reason, despite his fear, he'd not owled the headmaster, or tried to dispose of it more permanently. Something instinct told him he was overreacting, that it wasn't a dangerous book, not like Riddle's diary. Logic tried to crowd out instinct, insisting that he wasn't taking the situation seriously enough. And so he'd compromised with himself: he would keep his silence, but he would also keep his distance.
He likely would have kept to this unspoken vow too, but for three main points. One, the book's enchantments which drew him inexorably to it. Two, the nightmares he'd been having of Cedric's recent death, and the desperate need to confide in someone. This was complicated by three, the lack of owls from his friends, the ones he was most likely to confide in. The latter point also made him fear they blamed him as he blamed himself, and that was why they hadn't written, which in turn compounded the need to confide.
And so Harry found himself, perhaps unwisely, opening the journal once more. The gold lock clicked open at his touch and intent. He inked his quill and raised it over the page, then hesitated. A drop of ink fell, blotting the parchment, before fading. He probably shouldn't be doing this, he knew, but he needed so desperately to talk to someone. Since he wasn't about to start having heart-to-hearts with Dudley, this was his only option.
Harry determinedly set quill to parchment.
This time, he didn't stop when it wrote back.
He opened his eyes and stared at the room around him. Familiar, though it had been long since he'd been here. The second bedroom at number four Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey. He shut the journal, now nothing more than a highly enchanted but ultimately soul-less book. It would make a nice souvenir. A victorious smile spread over his lips. The boy's soul was finally consumed, to replenish his own, and the body was his.
It had all worked as planned. The boy found the book and wrote in it despite his better sense. He'd timed the journal to arrive while the boy was still reeling from witnessing Cedric Diggory's murder and Voldemort's resurrection, then was forced back to hateful Muggle relatives and cut off from his friends. The situation left the boy emotionally vulnerable, and thus more susceptible to he, the once Horcrux's influence.
Yes, the boy had been very susceptible indeed. Enough of a connection had formed within mere days for him to temporarily take control, but he'd resisted the temptation and remained patient. There'd been no need to risk spooking the boy before he'd won the battle. Besides, less energy expended on temporary possessions mean more energy served for the final takeover. And he'd made that takeover, won that battle, much more quickly than expected, even with the vulnerable emotional state of the boy.
He wondered if it had something to do with the compatibility of their souls. After all, they were both Harry James Potter.
He felt them before he saw them. A coldness that spread all through him, leaching light and hope. Then the tattered, black-robed forms were floating towards them. He paused, pretending shock and fear, just long enough for Dudley to become incapacitated by fears of his own. Then he yelled at Dudley to run. He knew of course that his hated cousin, cowering on the ground, was too far gone in terror to do any such thing, but he had to keep up appearances. Then Harry turned and ran, as if expecting his cousin to follow. And that's the story he would stick to, if anyone asked. He'd thought Dudley would follow. Honest.
The Auror's came to question him. He did indeed stick to his story, even offered up his memories which to all appearances supported it. Why didn't he use the Patronus, which some had heard rumour he could cast? Why, because underage magic outside Hogwarts is illegal and he didn't want to get in trouble with the Ministry. He regretted it now of course, and wished desperately he'd cast it anyway, and saved his cousin. But, he'd thought Dudley was following him. And now he felt so guilty. Honest he did.
They patted his hand, assured him he wasn't to blame, and left.
Harry packed up his things and left before the Dursleys could return from the hospital, where they grieved over their ickle Dudders's mindlessly drooling, corpulent form. He knew they'd be furious and accusatory when they got back. Vernon might even try to murder him finally. Drown him like he oft muttered he should have done all those years ago, when he found 'the freak' on the doorstep. Best Harry left while he could.
He reflected, as he hailed the Knight Bus, that he'd never have to return to the Dursleys again. They'd never willingly house him after the loss of their son in such a magical manner. Not even Dumbledore at his twinkly-eyed, manipulative best could smooth over that. And that's why Harry'd left Dudley to the Dementors' mercy. Well… He smirked. Well, that and revenge for the years he spent as victim to all three Dursleys, and the way they'd tried to give him up to Voldemort when he'd answered their call for 'help' some years ago, or rather years from now, in another timeline.
He'd rather acquired a taste for vengeance, it seemed.
They found him within a few days, but that was expected. Calculated even. If he was trying to hide, he'd not have taken the Knight Bus without an alias, or stayed in the Leaky Cauldron under his real name. Wizards and witches gossiped like pre-teen girls, and he was half-convinced there was no such thing as a secret in the wizarding world. Word of his location was bound to get around sooner or later. More likely sooner. He'd wanted it that way.
The Order members all loitered in his room, hovering irritatingly over his shoulder as he packed up his things for the trip to headquarters. It was really too small a room for so many people, but they seemed determined not to let him out of their sight. Whether because they wanted to protect him, or keep an eye on him to make sure he didn't run off again, he didn't know. Didn't particularly care either. He was too busy trying to hide excitement.
Soon, he'd see him again.
Grimmauld Place was as he remembered it, before Kreacher had made a turnaround and set to cleaning it up. All dark and gloomy and dilapidated. Tonks inevitably tripped on that hideous troll-foot umbrella stand, waking up Mrs Black's portrait. The banshee started screaming and people, thus alerted that they'd arrived, filled the entry hall to greet him.
His 'friends' looked happy to see him, till he dodged Hermione's hug and didn't return Ron's grin.
"You didn't write," he said simply, coldly. They made the expected excuse: Dumbledore forbade it. "I'd just witnessed Cedric's murder and Voldemort's resurrection, and I desperately needed to hear from my friends and to know they cared. And you abandoned me." Dumbledore's name invoked again. "That's not a good enough reason," he said firmly and added, with a tone of finality, "Friends don't treat friends like you treated me. I suppose that means we're not really friends."
He was peripherally aware of the shocked expressions of not only Hermione and Ron, but also the watching Order members too. But only peripherally, because most of his attention had been captured by someone else. When he'd turned away from his formers friends Harry had spotted him, standing by the curtains that he must have wrenched closed before remaining silent to watch the confrontation.
"Sirius," Harry whispered.
And then a smile lit his face, and he ran toward the man who seemed surprised but pleased at Harry's reaction. Sirius caught Harry in his arms when he leapt, spinning them around to cushion the impact. Harry's arms wrapped tightly around the other wizard's neck and his legs around his waist. His mind told him to let go, that this wasn't the plan, that he would arouse suspicion. Harry told his mind to go to hell, that the plan had changed, that no way could he go through with holding himself back from Sirius.
There were some mutters from those who had remained to watch the reunion. Most had left for the kitchen, but Hermione and the Weasleys, and possibly Remus at least remained. Sirius seemed to be getting the picture that Harry didn't plan on abandoning his limpet impression anytime soon, and settled his chin on Harry's head, holding him close.
"Wanna go upstairs?" he asked. "I'll show you where you'll be staying."
Harry nodded. "I'm not sharing with Ron, am I?" he murmured
"You were, but I'm guessing that's not such a good idea anymore?"
Later that night, Harry slipped out of the room he'd been given, which had once been Regulus's.
Dinner had been awkward, with Ron and Hermione trying to apologise and him not forgiving them. The pair was clearly not sure how to respond to his chosen attitude. He imaged they might have been more hopeful if he yelled at them, that at least showing he cared enough to be angry. Instead, he treated then with a cool distance as if they were unimportant. It clearly hurt their- well, not their feelings likely, so much as their pride.
That wasn't important at the moment though. Right now, he needed to talk to his godfather, and so he was sneaking into his room in the dark of night.
"Harry?" A lamp was lighted and Sirius sat up in his bed.
"Did I wake you?"
"No. I hadn't fallen asleep yet. What're you doing up Pronglset?"
Hmm, Harry thought, as good an opening as any to get things moving.
"Actually, not so much a 'Prongs',-let' or otherwise," he said with a somewhat mischievous smile.
"Huh?" Sirius asked, clearly confused.
"Can you silence the room?"
The request earned him another strange look, but Sirius obliged him. Then Harry grinned, anticipating the reaction, and… changed. He was glad for the silencing spell as Sirius gave a shout of shock. Harry hopped and launched himself into the air, circled the room once, then landed himself on Sirius's blanket covered knee.
Laughing in his animal form sounded strange indeed, but he couldn't help his amusement at the boggled look on his godfather's face as he ran a hand down Harry's feathers confirming that, yes, this was real and not an illusion. Harry quickly transformed back so that he could laugh freely from a human mouth. Sirius stared down at him in his lap, expression of shock transforming to amazement and pride.
"Harry!" He swept his godson into a hug. "When did you- how did you- that's amazing! Why didn't you tell me you were learning the transformation? I would have given you tips."
"Because I wasn't," Harry said. "Not yet."
"What, it just spontaneously happened?" Sirius asked jokingly. "One day you were walking along and then poof, you'd sprouted feathers?"
"No. Here, sit back," Harry ordered, nudging them both into a more comfortable sitting position, but with himself still in the older wizard's lap. "Sirius, have I got a tale to tell you."
"Horcruxes?" Sirius asked grimly once Harry finished.
"And Regulus and Kreacher meant to destroy one?"
"And Dumbledore meant for you to die?"
"His plan all along.
"Voldemort took over the Ministry for awhile?"
"And you won, but all those people died?"
"Yes. Too many."
"You married little Ginny Weasley."
"And everything seemed like happily ever after until… you found out about plots, and love potions, and betrayal, and friends who were never really friends, but just wanted to use you."
"And Hermione Granger is… Albus Dumbledore's great-great-granddaughter?" Sirius asked, this time almost incredulously.
"Yeah, shocked me too. From an illegitimate Squib child he had with a Muggle. Though like I said, her abilities make a lot more sense knowing he trained her from a young age. They were very secretive about it. Her parents didn't even know. Not about the training, or even that she was a witch till her Hogwarts letter came."
"I suppose. And she was Dumbledore's agent, helping him direct you about like a puppet. And they used the Weasleys too, though only Ron was being directly paid off."
A long silence followed, and Harry began to grow tense. There was one more thing Sirius hadn't mentioned. The most important thing, to Harry's mind.
"Soul mates?" Sirius asked, somewhat shakily. "Really?"
He nodded. "It's why Dumbledore never pushed for a trial, and kept you locked up here, away from me. He knew," Harry explained, trying to sound calm and composed. "And that kind of bond… it'd break too much of his control over me because I'd instinctively look to you, trust you, want to be with you. He was probably pleased when Bellatrix killed you," he reflected pessimistically. "Complication removed."
"You know, from the moment I first saw you, the day you were born, there was an immediately connection between us," Sirius recalled in a quiet voice. "They all used to joke that you liked me best, even better than your parents. And I've never cared for someone as much as I instantly cared for you. They practically had to pry you from my arms when I held you, because I never wanted to let you go." The older wizard took a deep breath. "And about a month and a half ago, I started missing you and thinking of you more. Sometimes in ways… well, not fatherly. That'd be about when you emerged in this timeline, old enough in soul for the bond to be really felt. It fits. With what I know of soul mates, that is."
Another long silence. Harry hoped and prayed with everything that he had that Sirius would accept this, accept him, and not try to deny what they were. He held very still where he was still seated on his soul mate's lap as he waited for a response.
"Angel, I think," Sirius said. Harry's looked up in confusion, and his green eyes were captured by tender grey. "You're right, you're not a Prongslet. And we can't pick anything as obvious as Prongs, Padfoot, Moony or Wormtail were, can we? Granger or Dumbledore'd quickly figure it out. So it'll be Angel, for the wings."
"Angel?" he asked and arms tightened around him.
Fingertips brushed his cheek then lips pressed softly to his forehead, and Harry finally relaxed, melting into the embrace. They fell asleep wrapped around one another.
"Hey Siri," Harry said, looking up from where he lay on the man's bed. "I'm not going to apologise for loosing my temper at her. She has no right to treat you that way. You're not a criminal, in case she forgot. Plus, she's a guest in your house."
"Hey, no arguments here." Sirius entered the room, closing the door behind him. He sat down on the edge of the bed and started running a hand through Harry's hair. He leaned into the caress. "Molly's been a pain in the arse ever since the Order set up shop here. Don't know why she has it out for me in particular though. I know she thinks I'm a bad influence, but she's not even half so bitchy toward anyone else, not even Dung the self-confessed 'acquisitions expert'."
"I half think it's some sort of jealously thing."
"Yeah. You know Mrs Weasley's overbearing about her kids and she sort of claimed me as one of hers awhile back. Maybe she doesn't like that I'm closer to you than her. She's been even worse this time around than I remember, but we're closer this time and spend more time together, so maybe that's made her jealousy worse. It's a good thing she doesn't know I've been sneaking in here with you at nights or she'd totally flip."
"She is possessive about her family," Sirius admitted. "But she needs to realise you're not hers."
"No, I'm not." Harry looked up at Sirius and pointedly said, "I'm yours."
The grey of Sirius's eyes darkened to a molten silver, even as his features softened. And then Sirius was leaning down, dark strands falling around his face like curtains to shield them both as he pressed his lips to Harry's. The kiss was long and languid, but fairly chaste. Still, it had Harry's stomach fluttering, heart thudding, and body tingling. Sirius withdrew and gave him two shorter, softer pecks before pulling back.
"Yeah," Sirius said, voice warm, "mine."
Harry delighted in the true happiness reflected on Sirius's face. It was an expression he'd rarely seen in the past timeline, but had been treated to more and more frequently this time around when they were alone. He himself was also happier than he'd been in too long. He'd felt incomplete ever since he came of age and was able to feel the hole where his soul mate should have been. He'd tried his best to be happy anyway, but made the mistake of attempting that with Ginny Weasley. Now though it wasn't an issue. He had Sirius back, and he refused to lose him this time.
"Wotcher folks," Tonks said, stumbling into the kitchen and taking a seat, helping herself to some of Mrs Weasley's cooking. "Is it just me or is this place looking just a bit less gloomy?"
"I had words with Kreacher and we came to an understanding," Sirius said casually.
Harry hid a satisfied smile, thinking back to the melted locket that had been thrown out with yesterday's garbage. In its place Kreacher now owned a Slytherin prefect badge which had once belonged to Regulus, and wore it proudly pinned to his now clean tea towel toga. The gift combined with watching the locket burned by Harry's Fiendfyre, completing Regulus's last request, had won Kreacher over. Sirius and Harry now had the house-elf's undying loyalty.
"I'm glad you finally agreed to an examination Sirius," Emmeline Vance, healer and Order member, said kindly. "I've been wanting to help along your recovery from Azkaban for awhile."
"Yeah, well, someone," he looked pointedly at an unapologetic Harry, "was insistent. But I made him promise something in return."
"Right," Harry said, feeling awkward at the reminder. He looked to Vance. "Since this is an official consultation, you being paid and all, it's protected by your healer-patient confidentiality vow, right?"
"Yes… why do you ask?"
"I want you to check me over as well."
"Why is that? Have you been feeling ill?"
"No, I He paused, biting his lip. Sirius's hand came to rest on his back and it gave him the strength to continue. "I'm pretty sure I have some lingering childhood damage. Scars, broken bones not properly set, possibly malnutrition."
Vance gaped, processing that and coming to the obvious conclusion. The Boy-Who-Lived had been abused. She quickly snapped her mouth shut though, and adopted an air of professionalism as she completed both their examinations, something which made both wizards more comfortable.
"Eighteen months at most, with the right potions and proper exercise, and I think I can have you both in top health," was Vance's diagnosis.
"I don't want you to go," Sirius complained bitterly.
"Me neither," Harry said, "but we agreed this was the best way to go about things. I need access to Hogwarts to get the diadem and avoid Dumbledore's notice for now. Well, more notice than I already have. He's been 'in the neighbourhood' and 'just dropping by' a lot more than last time around, and pulling me aside for chats to 'express his concern'. Urging me to forgive Ron and Hermione, and spend more time with them rather than isolating myself with you."
They were in Harry's room for once rather than Sirius's, collecting his school trunk and saying their goodbyes. The moment they entered the room, Sirius had backed him up against the wall and kissed him thoroughly. Harry had pressed close, wrapping his arms around him, enjoying the sensation.
"Damn it, don't try and win me over with your logic," Sirius muttered, partly joking but partly serious. Then he sighed. "It'll be weird sleeping without you. I haven't slept as soundly for ages, as I have these last few weeks."
"Well, I don't know if I can take all the credit. Those potions of Healer Vance's help too. My nightmares have certainly faded even more since I started taking them."
Hearing Mrs Weasley shout from down below, they reluctantly parted, and Harry set to packing his trunk. As he went to shut it, a hand appeared over his shoulder with a package. He looked from it to Sirius.
"The mirror?" he asked hopefully. Sirius nodded and Harry grinned. "Brilliant. At least we'll still be able to talk." He added the package to his trunk and finally closed it, then stood. "So…"
"Yeah. So. I'll keep thinking on the cup and let you know if I think of anything. That's really the biggest problem and I don't fancy us repeating your break-in at Gringotts, even if the escaping on a dragon part was very cool," Sirius rambled before forcing himself to stop and look Harry in the eyes. "I'll miss you Angel. Keep in touch and I'd better see you at Christmas, alright?"
"I promise Siri." Another shout from downstairs. "Come on, better go before they come looking for us." Sirius grabbed his arm before he could leave the room. "What-?" A wand was tapped to his lips, and the swollen feeling to them, which he'd barely noticed, faded. "Oh."
"Probably best you don't go down there looking recently snogged," Sirius said solemnly, but his eyes held mischief.
"Yeah." Harry blushed a little, feeling like the inexperienced teenager he appeared to be.