The knock on his office door was just about the very last thing Harry was in the mood to hear. His stack of paperwork seemed to be breeding more—he swore when he left the parchment alone it got up to dirty business in his absence and bred faster than rabbits—and he had his boss breathing down his neck. The whole, I killed a dark lord excuse was wearing thin these days, and it had only been a bloody year and a half since he’d accomplished the task.
No more special favours. No more letting him skate by.
He ought to have been grateful for it, really. He’d spent the last eight years of his life trying not to be noticed for the scar on his forehead and the fact that as a baby he managed to survive the curse that left him orphaned and neglected. Now he would kill for just a little bit of leeway.
He glanced over at the wood as another knock came, more persistent this time, and he wondered if maybe he could just duck behind his desk and pretend like he wasn’t in. All he wanted was a quiet weekend in—no friends, no Ginny, no Weasleys who were, “Just worried about you, dear. You don’t look like you’ve been eating very well.”
It was probably a second assignment he’d end up taking as much as he wanted to turn it down, because it would at least give him an excuse to avoid another family dinner.
What he was really craving was his flat, his godson’s toothy, baby smile, and some muggle telly.
The Wizarding World offered a shockingly low view on mental health, and he was starting to feel the pressure of everything he’d gone through. Every time he looked at Ginny he would flash back to some of the worst moments. Of her nearly dying at the hands of a Horcrux. Her dead brother, her maimed one. Of Remus and Tonks and their infant son now as orphaned as he’d ever been. Sirius falling through the veil. The ghosts of them as Voldemort levelled his wand and cast the curse.
He was supposed to marry her, and he wondered how he’d manage to live an entire life whilst still seeing all of that.
But he was brave, if nothing else, and he was determined to get through it. He just needed some blasted time to…
“Harry James Potter, I know you’re in there.”
He knew that voice too well. Hermione. With a sigh, rubbing his eyes under his glasses, he reached for his wand and flicked it at the door. The unlocking charms shifted and it creaked open, and she walked in.
She was wearing work robes, letting most witches and wizards know it was best not to speak to her. An Unspeakable, and most were surprised she’d gone in that direction. She turned down Ron’s proposal of marriage, “Just for now. I want to focus on my career,” which he took to mean it was over forever and there was no hope for anyone ever, and she’d thrown herself into work.
Harry didn’t see her often, in spite of them both working at the Ministry. He saw Ron more than that, who was still helping George at the joke shop, and Ron had been considering the offer to join with the Aurors. Harry partly hoped he would, because having a partner who understood what he was going through was a welcome thought.
Pushing his annoyance aside, Harry flicked his wand at the kettle, and motioned for Hermione to sit. “Well well, I didn’t expect to see you today.”
“Please don’t take the piss,” she said, sounding like she hadn’t slept in weeks. She looked it as well, dark circles under her eyes, her mouth turned down into a frown. He hadn’t seen her look so knackered since OWLs. “I’m here on business.”
Harry raised a brow. “Business? You’re allowed to speak to me about Business?”
Hermione sighed, then accepted the cup of tea with a small upturn of her lips. “You know I’m not. Not specifically. But I’ve come because my team knows you trust me, and I know you trust me.”
Harry stared at her for a long time, then pulled his glasses from his face and cleaned them on his sleeve. After he replaced them, he folded his hand on the form he’d been signing. “That doesn’t sound good, ‘Mione. I do trust you, but…”
“We’re working on a project, and you know I can’t say. And honestly if I could, I might not anyway. But I…there’s something that involves you, and I need your signature.” She reached into her robes and produced a blank parchment.
Harry stared down at it, then laughed. “You want me to sign a blank parchment.”
“It isn’t blank. It’s charmed so you can’t read it.” She pushed it across his desk, her gaze meeting his imploringly. “Harry, I would never, ever ask you to do something that put you or anyone you love in danger. But this could…right a lot of wrongs. Fix a lot of things to ensure…” She stopped herself. “It could stop the hurting. For all of us.”
Harry felt his throat go tight, and his gaze flickered down at the blank sheet. “Hermione, I don’t…”
“Please,” she begged. “I’m so tired of feeling like this. I don’t…I’m not doing well, and I know you aren’t. Ron’s a mess. Molly cries every time she looks at George. I can’t imagine how it is for Andromeda, and well… If I can do something, if my department can do something about all this…”
Harry bit down on his lip, reaching over for his quill, but he didn’t dip it in the ink. He twirled it, and stared at the blank line across the bottom. “No one gets hurt.”
“No one,” she vowed. “It might not even work, you know. It’s…well our job deals with too much theory but it’s worth a shot, don’t you think?”
Harry knew he’d give literally anything to stop feeling this pain all the time. To make the nightmares go away, to stop the panic attacks every time he got even the slightest tingle of a headache. To stop seeing people he loved, people he knew who were never coming back, on the faces of strangers.
“Fine,” he said. “Because I trust you, and I know you wouldn’t do anything stupid. Hell, you spent the last eight years trying to keep me and Ron from being complete twats.”
Hermione rolled her eyes, but there was a flicker of a smile which looked like her old self, and it warmed him. Her hands were tight round her teacup though, as her brown eyes watched him dip the quill, then scratch his signature across the page.
When it was done, she sighed and rose. Reaching into her pocket, she pulled out a gold chain, a locket dangling from the bottom. It shone bright against her dark skin as she wrapped it round her wrist, then moved to where Harry was sat.
“I need you to wear this. Until tomorrow at least.” When Harry gave her a dubious look, she sighed. “It’s a perseveration charm, only. Check for yourself if you don’t believe me.”
Harry did just that, and when he was satisfied, he put his wand down and let her fix it round his neck. “And this is for…?”
“I also can’t say directly. But it’s important. Swear to me it won’t come off until tomorrow.”
“I swear,” he said, a little annoyed, but he tucked it inside the front of his robes. “I take it you’re back downstairs, then?”
Hermione nodded, then leant down and pressed her lips to his cheek. “I love you, Harry. And I just want to make things better. I promise, I’m trying.”
He gave her hand a pat, then sighed. “We all are, you know.”
“I do. Which is why I’m doing this.”
He didn’t like how cryptic she was. He didn’t like that her job had turned her into someone who couldn’t share the subtle nuances of her life the way she used to. He had a relationship with her just as close as Ron, only different, and it hurt he’d lost that after the war.
After losing so much.
But he did trust her.
“Come round soon, alright? For things other than work,” he prodded as she headed for the door.
“I will,” she said. She gave him one last, careful look before she went out, shutting the door behind her.
Ignoring how strange that all was, Harry went back to work, and when he clocked out without any new assignments, or owls from Gin, he made his way to his flat to enjoy his quiet Friday evening. It was filled with not much more than several beers, an owl to Andromeda asking after Teddy, and far too much bad telly, but it was enough.
And he hoped, whatever Hermione had in store, really did ease the pain.
Harry woke feeling oddly hung-over, though couldn’t remember drinking much. But it wasn’t the hangover that drew him to consciousness. No. It was a warm mouth, and pressing hands on his thighs. A hot tongue laved over his aching cock, letting him know he was naked, and rock hard, and the bed beneath him felt oddly soft.
He also couldn’t open his eyes. His hands were stretched above his head, gripping what felt like wooden slats, and something was blocking half his face—like a sleeping mask. He couldn’t worry too much about it, as a warm mouth slid over his cock, taking him deep into their throat.
He had to assume it was her. She was the only one with unfiltered access to his wards. Though she’d never woken him up this way before—not that he was complaining. Not when she was doing that with her tongue. He didn’t even know she could. She’d done this…
Well hell, his brain was too fuzzy with pleasure to properly recall anything in that moment, but damn he wasn’t sure they’d ever done this before.
His hips rocked involuntarily, and he groaned. “Fuck. God, fuck yes.” The words tumbled from his mouth, insistent and needy, and the mouth on him sucked harder, faster, deeper until he felt his orgasm bubbling in his gut. “Oh fuck I’m gonna…I’m gonna…”
Instead of pulling off, he was sucked harder and he fucked the hot mouth as he twitched and spilt his seed all over the hot tongue. When it was over, he felt his fingers uncurl from the wooden slats. His knuckles ached, and he flexed his hands to get the feeling back as he reached for the mask.
Then froze, because there was a chuckle from between his thighs, and it was most certainly not Ginny. Even with the worst of colds she’d never sounded like that.
His face went hot, tingly, and his fingers shook as he pulled up the sleeping mask.
There were about a million people Harry Potter might have assumed would be between his legs, flushed in the face from having just deep-throated his cock. But Draco Malfoy was not one of them.
There he was.
Harry wasn’t convinced that this wasn’t some sort of left-over, sixteen year old fantasy fever dream or something. Maybe he’d accidentally gotten into some potion or something the night before after drinking too much, and had slipped into one of George’s little daydream potions.
Because there was no bloody, shitting, sodding way Draco Malfoy had just sucked him off.
He stared, blinking, his myopic vision blurry without his glasses, but there was no mistaking that smirk, that shock of blonde hair. Draco was still stroking Harry’s thigh, and he thought for a second he might be sick. Not because he was disgusted—Harry couldn’t deny the several times he’d envisioned something far too similar to this whilst he made good use of his left hand—but to actually see it.
And how the fuck?
How the bloody fuck had this happened?
His throat was dry as he attempted to clear it, and Malfoy rolled his eyes. “Did I suck your brain out through your cock or something?”
Harry darted a tongue out to wet his lips. “Um. What are you doing here?”
“Is that an existential question, Potter? Or did you forget I lost the bet last night?”
Harry blinked, then reached down and pinched himself on the thigh. Malfoy lifted a brow at the gesture, but eventually pushed himself up onto his knees, then slid off the bed. He was very, very naked. Very fit—as Harry had always imagined he’d be, if not a little on the thin side. But his thatch of hair surrounding his rather impressive cock was just as pale as the hair on his head, and Harry found a sudden, mad desire to reach out and touch it.
But what the hell was he thinking like that for?!
He scrubbed his face and wondered if this was some prank. Then, as he glanced round, he realised he was not in his own flat at all. No. This was far too posh and far too bloody Malfoy to be his. The bed was four-poster with a squashy mattress and silk sheets. Actual silk. In a sort of silvery grey.
Harry felt a sudden wave of panic overtake his post-orgasm euphoria, but before he could properly react, Malfoy was coming at him with an armload of clothes. “Get out.”
Harry blinked at the blonde. “Er…”
“You know the drill. My mother’s on her way over here right now and I have to take her to the Prophet before I head in to work. I’m not dealing with another close call. Use the bedroom floo.” Malfoy nodded at a small fireplace as he manhandled Harry toward the flames. “Cover your bits,” he warned, as he grabbed Harry’s hand and shoved a handful of floo powder into it.
Completely in shock, unable to properly speak, Harry stepped into the flames—still starkers—and threw the floo powder down. Panicked, unsure what to say, he merely muttered, “Harry Potter’s,” and then in a rush, he was gone.
He stumbled out moments later, into a flat which was most certainly not his. Half his brain was still screaming that he’d got a morning blowie from Draco fucking Malfoy, and the other half was terrified that he’d just stepped into some other stranger’s flat who was about to come into the lounge and see a very naked man stood there with clothes in hand and probably the most fuck-stupid look on his face ever.
Instead he was met with silence, and in the corner of the room, a wedding picture of his parents that he recognised perfectly. Because he had that picture in his own flat.
Which had to mean…
His hand flew up suddenly, to the chain still hung round his neck, and he closed his fingers round the locket. “Hermione, what the fuck did you do?”
With shaking hands, he managed to shake out his clothes, brush the soot from his backside, and slip into robes. He needed to know what was going on immediately, and Hermione would have answers. He didn’t care if he had to burn the Ministry building to the ground to find her, by mid-morning he would bloody-well know why he’d just got off with Malfoy.
Toeing on his shoes, Harry started for his door, when there was a sudden knock. He stared at the wood suspiciously, as though it might suddenly transform and bite him, or maybe even turn into Goyle and offer him a quick shag. But none of that happened.
Instead he reached for the door handle, wand in his other hand, and pulled it open.
It was yet another moment Harry could have envisioned about a million other people on the planet that might be on the other side. But a very dead, very annoyed-looking Cedric Diggory was not one of them. For very obvious reasons.
Harry blinked, and Cedric sighed.
“Please tell me you’re not skiving off again, Potter. I can’t keep having your back. Coach is going to bench me if I lie about you being too pissed to show up.”
Harry swallowed, his throat now aching with confusion because…because what? “I er…I’m not drunk.” It was such a bloody stupid thing to say, but what else could he say. He wasn’t drunk, was he? Was he? “I erm. I. Cedric?”
The taller, older Cedric he’d known too well from having fallen over his dead body, blinked. Then rolled his eyes. “What do you want me to tell him?”
“I…” Harry swallowed. “What are you doing here?”
“Christ, how fucking pissed are you?” Cedric reached out, but Harry snapped his gaze up, and backed away too fast, nearly tripping over himself. “Potter, get a grip.”
“Get a grip?” Harry nearly bellowed. “Get a grip? You’re fucking dead!”
“Your threats are so old,” Cedric replied tiredly. “Look, I’m going to tell him I came here looking for you, and I couldn’t find you. Create your own alibi this time.” Then Cedric turned, and before Harry could call after him, he Disapparated.
Harry stood there, eyes blinking back tears. Had that really happened? Had Cedric Diggory, the teen murdered by Voldemort, really been there?
His hand flew to the locket again, and clutched it. “What did you do?” he whispered again. Feeling almost desperate, he wrenched the locket open, hoping to have some answers, some explanation. But there was nothing. No picture, no secret note, no nothing. Just…metal. Just gold.
He felt the inexplicable urge to bend over and vomit all over his shoes.
Before he could, however, an owl swooped in through the window and perched on the armchair near his right hand. It ruffled it’s feathers until he reached out and plucked the note it was carrying, then flapped off without water or treats.
Harry clenched his jaw, feeling overwhelmed and terrified as he pried the top open, and glanced down at unfamiliar writing.
I don’t even know why I’m bothering. Probably because I’m tired of seeing that look on our parents’ faces. There’s likely no hope you’re going to show up this afternoon, but I know Sundays are a light practise for you and it wouldn’t kill you to come and say hi at least once this year. So if you do have a soul—which I doubt—you’ll show up.
The letter was clearly addressed to him. And…about his…parents? His parents.
Harry felt his tongue go numb, and Hermione’s words came rushing back to him. She had planned to make it all stop. To make the hurting stop. So how did she…
Harry glanced over at his fireplace, and made a snap decision. He stormed over, grabbed the floo powder, and stepped in. “James Potter’s!”
He began to spin and spin, passing grate after grate, until he tumbled out into an unfamiliar lounge. It was empty, but there were voices which sounded like they were coming from outside, and he stood up straight, brushing the soot from his robes. He glanced round, what looked like dozens of photos on the mantle of himself, and another girl who looked quite a lot like him. They shared the same dark skin, dark hair, and she even had glasses.
Licking his lips, Harry chased away the feeling of fear—that this might be real, that it might not be real at all—and took a step toward the voices. Before he could step into the kitchen, a figure moved through and stopped, staring at him.
It was the girl from the photos, and she froze, looking startled.
“Oh my god, you actually showed. Oh my god, dad is totally going to shit!”
Harry swallowed. “Erm. I was. Am I. Am I late?”
She rolled her eyes. “Are you drunk?”
“Why does everyone keep asking me that?” Harry demanded, a shrill, hysterical laugh bubbling in his throat. He swallowed it down and rubbed at his hair absently.
“Dunno, seems to be your natural state these days. Are you?”
“No!” he barked, then quieted down. “Sorry I..it’s. It’s been a really fucking weird morning. Where’s erm…”
“The parentals have gone to the shop,” she said, shrugging. “Dad was going on about my broom being shite, so he wanted to see when the next Firebolt was out before they’re all gone. Did you know I made captain this year?”
Harry shook his head. “Er that’s…that’s great. Good on you.”
She frowned at him, then rolled her eyes. “Whatever, I’m going to my room. Everyone’s outside though if you actually want to bother saying hi.” With that, she shouldered him hard as she brushed past to head for the stairs.
Harry stood, still confused, clutching Hermione’s locket, praying to whatever deity that might be listening for some answers because he was scared now. And lost.
In moments he might come face to face with his parents. Who apparently knew him. Parents he’d never met.
Parents who were dead.
Hermione had changed the past. She and her team had some how managed to…do something? Was it an alternate Universe or…
Before Harry could continue his train of thought, the back garden door banged open, and Harry froze. His throat seized again, and this time his eyes did well with tears. Stood there looking a bit put out and quite a lot surprised, was Sirius Black.
Harry abandoned all sense and all pretences and crossed the room, throwing his arms round the Godfather he’d been mourning for years. The Godfather who had been cruelly given to him for such a short time. The promises which had been made, then broken by Death Eaters.
He felt the sob in his throat, and tried to stop it, but he clung hard and couldn’t help it. Sirius, completely startled, grabbed Harry by the shoulders and pushed him back.
“Isn’t it a bit early for a bender?”
Harry swiped at his eyes angrily, hating whomever they knew as himself. “I’m not drunk! I’m…you’re…” Harry took a shaking breath and was too afraid to glance outside for fear of who else he might set eyes on and not be able to handle it. “I’m sorry. It’s been a really rough morning.”
Sirius stared at him, head cocked to the side, and Harry revelled in the fact that Sirius looked nothing like the suffering man he’d last seen. Sirius was healthy, older but there were no marks of time spent in Azkaban. He looked full of life and even smiled a little when he realised Harry wasn’t drunk.
“You want to talk about it?”
Harry let out a watery laugh, and cleared his cheeks. “Erm. Let’s just say it was a dream, it felt like a four year old dream and you erm. Were dead. You and my parents and…everyone.”
Sirius lifted a brow, but there was a flash of pity in his eyes. “Must have been some dream for a reaction like that. I don’t think you’ve hugged me since you were five.”
Harry felt something in his gut twist. Surely that couldn’t have been true. Surely if things had changed and his parents had lived, there was no way he hadn’t been close to this man. “I…I’m sorry.”
Sirius looked vaguely startled by the apology. “It is what it is. Are you here for lunch?”
“Til,” Harry said, not entirely sure what his sister’s proper name was, “sent me an owl. Asking me to come.”
Sirius barked a laugh, shaking his head as he led Harry to a chair, and they both sat. “Tilly sends a letter every week. I’ve seen her. Must have been some dream,” he repeated.
Harry let out a shaking sigh. “Yeah, it was. The life-changing sort, I think.” He realised his fingers were trembling, and he tried to hide them in his lap, but Sirius’ expression proved he’d already seen them. “Er. You think my parents will be back soon or…?”
“They swore they wouldn’t be long. You know how your dad gets when it comes to brooms.” Sirius shrugged, then got up and went to the fridge. He pulled out juice, then poured two glasses and handed one over to Harry. “You look like you need this. Have you even eaten this morning?”
At the mention of the morning, Harry’s mind involuntarily flooded back to Malfoy, and his mouth and…everything. Then Cedric. “Ah. No. I woke up erm. Elsewhere, and when I got back, Cedric Diggory was at my door.” He said the last bit carefully, to see if it caused any reaction from his godfather, but Sirius merely sat back down.
“Are you skiving off practise to be here?”
“I think so,” Harry said, sounding more like a question. “I’m having a really fucking confusing morning, Padfoot.”
Sirius almost startled. “Did you just call me Padfoot?”
Harry flushed, then looked down. “Sorry. Should I not…do that?”
“No it’s just…” Sirius trailed off, then stopped. “Never mind. Come on, Remus and Teddy are outside and maybe if you’re feeling this amiable, it would be a good time to visit.”
Harry felt the sting of the words. Who was he in this world? Was he such a bastard, really? That Sirius would be hesitant for him to be around Remus’ son. But the idea of seeing his godson again held some appeal. Teddy, who might be his one link to the old world.
“Is Tonks here as well?”
Sirius stopped, then shook his head. “No. But I suppose you wouldn’t know being we haven’t seen you in ten months. She and Fleur are on holiday.”
Harry paused in the doorway to the garden. Tonks. And Fleur? On holiday. Together. “Er.” He didn’t know what else to say, and until he figured out exactly what happened, he had to be careful. Very careful. “Right.”
Sirius chuckled, almost in a patronising way, and he pushed the door open all the way. Leading Harry out, Harry’s breath caught in his throat as he saw Remus sat at a large, round table in the centre of the yard. There was a small sandbox not far off, and Teddy was busy dumping buckets of it onto his lap.
Remus looked himself, except far less world-weary and starved. His curls were neat, his clothes new and clean, and he bore far less of the violence the wolf had done to himself as evidence on his skin. His gaze darted up when Sirius came out, and he looked just as startled to see Harry.
Harry, for his part, fought off the urge to rush at him and hug him. Because Harry hadn’t got a goodbye with Remus. Not really. Just his spirit telling Harry it was alright. And then Harry had come back to a corpse of Remus and his wife, and an orphaned baby who was only eleven days old.
He swallowed thickly and offered a slightly shy wave. “Hallo, Remus.”
Remus, ever pragmatic and polite as he was, rose and approached the pair. “Harry. Good to see you. I didn’t think you were coming.”
Harry’s lips thinned into a line as he took a breath. “Sorry I…I think I’ve been a bit of a bastard for some time.”
“Harry’s had a life-changing nightmare about us all dying,” Sirius said with a snort, clapping Harry on the shoulder. “He’s come to make amends.”
Remus rolled his eyes. “Please don’t be a prat. Make yourself useful and go clean all the sand out of your son’s nappy.”
Harry’s eyes bugged out a bit at the words. His son? Sirius’ son? The words almost tumbled from his lips, but he stopped himself, instead watching as Sirius bound over and picked up the giggling boy from the sandbox and began to clean him off.
“You look like you could use a cup of tea, Harry,” Remus said very quietly.
Harry let out a high, tight laugh. “You could say that. I’d ask for whiskey, but apparently I do that too much as well so if you’ve got some Yorkshire.”
Remus walked over to a large, silver teapot and poured them two cups. Bringing it over, Harry grabbed it and gulped down a large mouthful. It was oddly soothing, though his brain was still trying to process that he was currently sat with a man he thought long dead, and his godfather not five feet away playing with the young toddler he was helping raise.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Remus asked.
Harry had always found Remus easy to open up to. Remus, who had given him the first touchstone to his family. Who had believed in him and taught him and cared for him. He took a breath. “Look, if I told you, you wouldn’t believe me. I’ve had…a rough twenty-four hours and I feel a bit lost and…I don’t know what to do.”
“Was it the dream?” Remus asked.
Harry laughed quietly. “Something like that.” His hand flew up to his locket and clutched it, like it might offer some answers. “Do you hate me?”
Remus blinked, then he sat back. “No, Harry. I don’t.”
“Do my parents?”
At that, he laughed. “Harry, you could probably murder puppies and your parents would still love you.”
Harry bit down on his lip. “But do they like me?”
At that, Remus was quiet, and Harry knew right then. “Harry, I don’t mean…”
“It’s alright,” Harry said. “I’m not going to pretend like I understand because it’s all a bit…there’s this thing that…” He stopped. If he said what he wanted to say, he wasn’t sure what it would mean. And it’s not like they would believe him. “I don’t want to be a bastard.”
“I think I am,” Harry said in a rush. “I think I am and I don’t want to be and um. I’d like to be better?”
Just then, Harry felt a lump against his leg and he looked down to see Teddy clinging. On instinct, he set his tea down and picked up the toddler just as Sirius cried out, “No, mini! Harry doesn’t want you drooling all over him.”
Harry rolled his eyes, the familiarity of the small weight in his arms almost too much, and he bounced Teddy on his knee just as he knew the boy liked best. “Oh he knows I don’t care about drool. Right Teddy?”
The toddler smiled so wide, the dummy fell out of his mouth, and Harry snatched it before it hit the ground. He banged it on the table, just as Teddy reached out for his glasses. Remus sucked in his breath, almost afraid of Harry’s reaction, but he ignored them. He twisted the glasses and pushed them on Teddy’s nose.
“See, now you look like me.”
Teddy grinned toothily and turned toward his parents. “Dada!” He mashed his hand over the glasses, shoving them up his nose a little, then stood up on Harry’s thighs and began to bounce.
Harry held him by the fists and let him, glancing over at the parents who were watching with a look almost like Harry was holding an explosive in his hands.
“I don’t spend enough time with him, do I?” he muttered.
“Er. No. You’ve only met him the once,” Sirius muttered.
Just then, Teddy made it quite obvious he needed a nappy change, and when Sirius tried to lunge for the boy, Harry stood up and hiked Teddy on his hip. “Nappy bag inside? I’ll get it.” He ignored their shared look of shock as Harry hurried back into the house and found the supplies in the lounge.
He spread out the nappy mat, and laid Teddy flat on his back. “You know kid, I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Teddy reached up and poked his nose as Harry fetched everything to clean him up with. “Bada.”
“Right,” Harry said from behind a sigh. “I think I’m the bad guy here.” He cleaned him up, then banished the dirty nappy as he began to fasten the clean one. “Apparently this me is horrid who doesn’t like baby drool and drinks too much. And I can’t tell them the truth, can I?”
“No!” Teddy cried. “No mababa.”
Harry laughed quietly, then lifted Teddy’s shirt, leant down, and blew a huge raspberry on his belly. The boy squirmed and giggled and it carried on until there was the sound of something hitting the floor, and Harry sat up.
There, in the doorway, was James Potter.
The James Potter he’d stared at in photos and in memories. The James Potter Harry had seen in memories and heard talk about. The James Potter he looked too much like, and had been robbed of the chance of ever knowing.
Harry had once been Teddy’s age, chasing after puffs of smoke from his dad’s wand when he was murdered. That very night.
Harry felt his eyes prickle with tears, but the confused look on James’ face kept him rooted in the present. “Er. Hi. Um. Dad.” The word was so foreign on his tongue, it almost made him want to gag. Like he ought to have earnt the right to use it, and never had.
James glanced between Teddy, who was still kicking at Harry’s stomach with his small feet, and his son. Then he cleared his throat. “Hi Harry. We weren’t…”
“Expecting me?” Harry offered at James’ hesitance. “Tilly owled, and I decided to take her up on it. Thought it was about time I visited with this one.” He turned back and tickled Teddy on his sides just the way the boy liked.
James looked completely confused, but Teddy scrambled up and padded in only his shirt and nappy. “Popan up!” He bounced on his feet until James lifted him, then kissed the boy whilst still staring at his son.
Harry sighed, packing everything up into the nappy bag, then climbed to his feet and walked over. He knew it would be unprecedented, but this was the first time in his known memory he would be able to put his arms round his father and hug him. And Harry didn’t care if it meant they were all suspicious of him. He was going to do it.
So he did.
He wrapped his arms round James tight, and James let out a noise of surprise. “Alright there, Haz?”
“No,” Harry said, his voice muffled by James’ shoulder. “No, I’m not alright.”
James pulled back sharply, giving his son a look. “What do you mean no? What is it? Are you in trouble, is it your health or…?”
“No,” Harry said with a sigh. “I’ll…explain when I can. For now I’m just…I’m sorry, alright? For being a shit. For not being the kid you should’ve had.”
James blinked at him, still looking vaguely frightened. He looked even more concerned when Teddy tried to squirm back into Harry’s arms, and Harry took him, bouncing him a bit.
“Look where’s erm…”
“Kitchen,” James said, and took Teddy back. “I’m going to take this one outside to his parents.”
“Yeah,” Harry said, feeling his heart flutter. “Let them know he’s all sorted.”
James hummed, frowning, but wandered out and Harry tried not to let his heart beat out of his chest. His mum was next. Lily. The one who had birthed him and died for him.
Harry swallowed thickly, then made his way after James to the kitchen, and as he passed the doorway, he froze.
Lily Potter was not in the kitchen.
Lily Potter was nowhere to be found.
Instead a man who looked frighteningly like Sirius—a man Harry had only seen in a couple of photos—was stood at the table unloading a cloth sack. A man Harry knew had sacrificed his life at the tender age of eighteen, to help bring down the dark lord.
Regulus Arcturus Black.
He looked up at Harry, his face looking startled. Harry’s eyes drifted down to his left hand to see a small, platinum band resting on his ring finger, and Harry felt his ears ringing. He…Regulus. Regulus and…
Harry’s memory flickered back to James’ hand. There was a band there as well. Matching.
It couldn’t be.
Harry was shoved roughly to the side as his sister made an appearance. She rushed into the kitchen, throwing her arms round Regulus and kissing his cheek. “You’re back. Did dad drive you mad? Did you get the broom?”
Regulus glanced at Harry once more, then turned to kiss Tilly on the cheek. “We got the broom ordered. It’ll be here round the fifteenth of August. You’ll like it.”
“Hm. Well now that Harry’s not being a twat and actually showing up to lunches and even playing with the baby,” she looked at him pointedly and Regulus’ eyebrows rose at that, “maybe he can even help me out.”
Harry cleared his throat, not sure what the hell to do.
Then Regulus walked over and grabbed Harry by the shoulders.
And pulled him in for a hug.
A familiar hug.
A fatherly hug.
Oh dear sweet Merlin what was happening?
Harry found himself hugging back in spite of his absolute and utter confusion, and when he pulled back, Regulus’ face was softer. “I’m glad you’re here,” he said in a voice quite a lot like Sirius, but softer, with a lot less inflection in the tone.
“I. Er. Yeah, me too. I’m sorry.” He’d been doing so much blasted apologising and he wasn’t even sure what for. Glancing out the window, he caught a glimpse of James talking quietly with Remus and Sirius, all three of them glancing toward the house, and it wasn’t hard to know what they were going on about.
He wondered how much damage he might have done already.
His hand wandered to the locket and he squeezed it again. He had to figure this out. He needed to find Hermione. And soon.
Lunch was interesting, and Harry hung round as long as he could stand it. Watching Remus and Sirius, and James and Regulus—together. Couple-y. It was strange and confusing. It was domestic and it had been clear they had been together for a long, long time, though Harry couldn’t ask.
It was probably a story he’d grown up with. A story that would arouse their already high suspicions about him, and he didn’t need that kind of attention.
He managed to excuse himself back home, with a promise to visit more, just around sunset. He went back into the lounge after hugging everyone goodbye, then used the floo to get back to his. He made straight for his bookshelves, nearly tearing his flat apart until he managed to uncover some old, very dusty photo albums.
Walking to his sofa, he spread them all out, and tried his best to piece his life together.
Some of the photos he’d seen before. Photos of his parents, of Remus, Sirius, James, and Peter…
Peter. Harry’s eyes went wide when he realised Peter was still very much a big part of these photos. Peter, the man who didn’t betray James and Lily because there was now no James and Lily. And apparently, there was no Voldemort. Or if there had been, he hadn’t touched their family.
Lily disappeared from the photos sometime when it looked like Harry was about two, and Tilly—or Matilda as Harry caught from one of the backs of the photos—was a newborn. Sometime round then is when Regulus came into the picture.
There were wedding photos of them as well.
Harry was halfway through one of the books, making notes on a piece of parchment about what he could figure out from the timeline, when suddenly his floo roared. He half-expected it to be one of his parents, or maybe even his sister.
Instead Malfoy stepped through, wearing a swaggering grin, trousers, and a white shirt halfway unbuttoned.
“Potter. You bastard, You left me hanging.”
Harry’s throat went dry as he found himself aroused by the slight flush on Malfoy’s upper chest. “Er…”
Malfoy crossed the room, moving round the table, and crowding Harry back against the bookshelf. “You know I hate shagging in your flat. You never clean it. And you won’t get an elf.”
Harry swallowed thickly. “I erm…I had a long day.”
“I heard. Not showing up to practise.” Malfoy dragged a hand down Harry’s chest, then shoved it up under his shirt and went right for his nipple. Harry felt his head drop back, and an involuntary moan rip from his throat. “Bad boy, Potter.”
“Wh—what um. Are you doing?”
“Well I’m horny,” Malfoy said, pushing his hips up to Harry as though to prove his point. Hard. “I’ve had two whiskeys—which is just the right amount for me to be able to shag in this shithole—and I’ve got about nine hours to kill.”
Harry felt his face go hot and he knew he ought to turn Malfoy down. This was the old Harry’s shag buddy. Or boyfriend. Whatever, he wasn’t sure. But Malfoy wasn’t his.
Malfoy was his enemy.
“What are you waiting for?” Malfoy demanded.
Harry put his hands up with the intent of pushing Malfoy away. Instead his fingers curled in Malfoy’s shirt and tugged him in for a kiss. As their tongues warred for dominance, Malfoy chuckled, and used his grip on Harry to shove him through the lounge, down the small corridor, and into Harry’s bedroom.
It didn’t smell great, a bit stale, a bit like a filthy Quidditch kit, but neither of them seemed to mind with Malfoy running his hands all over Harry’s body, removing clothes quickly, heating them up. Harry was achingly hard now, and found himself rubbing off on Malfoy’s hip as Malfoy fumbled into Harry’s bedside drawer.
“Fuck, you have lube, right?”
“I…” Harry gasped as Draco pushed the pad of one finger against his arse. “Fuck.”
“That’s what I’m trying to do, you bastard.” After a moment, Draco came away triumphant, and soon had two fingers spreading him wide. Harry seemed to take him well, and soon enough he was on his hands and knees, hips snapping back as Draco thrust in and out.
“Yeah, fuck. Fuck, Potter,” Draco ground out, a bruising grip on his hips.
Harry felt his orgasm building, and he turned his head back, almost desperate to see the flush in Draco’s cheeks. “Touch me,” he begged.
“You’re joking,” Draco said with a gasping, tight laugh.
“I’m not joking, you fuck. Stroke my cock!” Harry was surprised at himself, surprised where the words were coming from, and the want. But at that present time, alternate time-lines and parents and sisters, and all these things mattered far less than feeling Draco’s thin fingers around him.
After what felt like eternity, Draco complied and began to stroke Harry in time with his thrusts. It took just a few pulls for Harry to come. Almost violently, a cry easing itself from his throat as he shuddered and spilt.
Draco let out a sound of annoyance at the come on his knuckles, but he was coming soon after, collapsing on Harry’s sweaty back. After a moment, he gave Harry a push. “Shove over. I’m tired and not flooing covered in your spunk.”
The very last thing Harry wanted to do was fall asleep next to Malfoy, but that was also the only thing he wanted to do. He felt Draco’s hand reach out, and the lights went down, and then it settled on his hip. Harry took a breath, then turned on his back and looked over.
“Are we…are you. My boyfriend?”
Draco’s grey eyes opened, and they narrowed on Harry. “Merlin, you’re not getting all clingy, are you? Did you take a potion or something? You were weird as hell this morning.”
Harry huffed. “I was just…what are we?”
“Potter, we’ve been fucking for the last two years. Do we have to make something out of it now?” Draco’s fingers tightened on him in irritation, but he didn’t pull away.
Eventually Harry’s eyes got heavy, and as much as he wanted to continue his research, sleep sounded better. In a way, he hoped he’d wake up to everything back to the way it was.
And in a way, he hoped he’d wake up to it all exactly the same.
In the end, he woke up in the other Harry’s flat, still sticky from his shag, but alone. He heard noises from the lounge, so he grabbed a dressing gown which sat near the wardrobe, and slung it round his waist.
He assumed Malfoy was either trying to sneak out, or help himself to Harry’s kitchen, but when he stepped into the lounge, it wasn’t Malfoy at all.
It was James and Sirius. They were looking at Harry’s photos, and at his notes, and when they turned they had wands pointed at him.
Before Harry could speak, a curse was cast and he was frozen to the spot. James took three strides toward him, and shoved him against the wall, the tip of his wand pointed just under Harry’s chin.
“I don’t know who the bloody hell you are, or how you got to look like my son, but you’re going to tell me right now what you’ve done with him, or I kill you where you stand.”
Not sure if I mentioned this before, but I'm formerly LadyFaceElena (account was hacked and deleted). You can find me now on tumblr at angry-space-ravenclaw where I am currently still taking fic requests.
Harry’s brain was working in overdrive, an attempt to get some semblance of wandless, non-verbal magic going so he could unbind himself. But whether it was his shock, or this particular version of himself being just as rubbish at it as he’d always been, he was stuck.
After the initial attack, Harry wasn’t questioned again. He was sat on the sofa, force-fed potions he vaguely recognised in an attempt to get him to reveal his true form, and then after an hour, James scrubbed his hand down his face and looked over at Sirius.
Sirius’ grey eyes were narrowed on Harry, his wand still pointed at Harry, though it was held loosely now between his thumb and fingers. “That doesn’t mean anything. He could still…I dunno. He might have been tampered with.”
Harry’s entire body ached with his strain to move, to speak, to do anything. If he could just open his mouth and make them understand…not that he knew how. The entire fucking thing was so mad and having not had any contact with anyone up to this point, he had no real answers for them.
He didn’t know what had been done. He didn’t know how. He had no idea the history of Voldemort in this world, or what his involvement was. Hell, he hadn’t even looked in the mirror to see if he had the scar.
All he knew was his mum was gone, his dad was married to a man, Sirius and Remus were raising Teddy, and he was shagging Draco Malfoy on the side.
After a moment, James looked at him. “I don’t believe you’re my son. But I legally can’t hold you here any longer. You’ve passed all the tests, so I’m going to release you. Try anything at all, and I will stun you and drag your arse to Azkaban and let the Dementors sort you out.”
Harry felt sick, but the moment James’ wand waved and the binding was removed, all he did was sag back into the cushions. His eyes flickered back between his father and godfather, two men long dead, and he felt an ache in his chest.
“I’m not your son,” he finally said, his voice hoarse from the long morning. “I mean,” he amended quickly when both men tensed, “I am. I am Harry James Potter but I’m not…Jesus fuck I don’t even know how to explain it.” His hand flew to the locket, and James immediately reached out, yanking it from his grip.
“What the hell is this?” James demanded.
Harry swallowed. “Protection charm, I think. Preservation. I don’t know, she never explained it to me.” He froze after that, waiting for either of the men to demand a better explanation.
Instead, James clutched the locket in his fist and looked over at Sirius. “We have to take him in. I don’t…I’m not convinced.”
“James, we’ve tried everything and…”
“And the Ministry has better interrogation techniques than either of us have got,” James said.
A cold rush of panic hit Harry—only because he knew about those techniques. He’d been subjected to them by Umbridge when he was fifteen. He’d even, as much as it churned his stomach to think of it, had ordered a few during the rounding up and trials of Death Eaters.
What he really needed was to find Hermione. If Harry remembered, there was a bloody good chance she did as well. It would only make sense, and then he could get her to explain, to offer up some proof so his father and godfather would stop wanting to have him tortured for information he didn’t have.
Harry took a breath, knowing what he needed to do. “I’ll comply,” he said.
Both gazes snapped over sharply, and Sirius’ jaw tensed. “You’ll comply?”
“I don’t know what else to do,” Harry said. “I…I don’t know how else to prove it to you so. I’ll comply. I’d just like to get dressed.”
James gave a sharp nod, and for the first time Harry saw a flicker of doubt in his father’s eyes. Sirius, however, was far less convinced, though he rose as Harry did. “Try anything at all…”
“I’m not an idiot, Padfoot,” Harry said quietly, knowing that would likely disarm him.
Sirius said nothing as he followed Harry back to the bedroom. He stood, leaning against the doorframe with crossed arms as Harry went to the wardrobe and picked out robes. Most of them were Quidditch, only a handful of casuals and some Muggle clothing he guessed, when he went out in the city.
Pulling out one of the robes, he sighed and turned to his godfather. “Am I really such a horrid person that giving you a hug and being grateful you aren’t dead made you so sure I’m not the person you raised?”
Sirius’ face flickered, and his eyes narrowed. His lower lip trembled for a moment, then he shook his head. “No. That wasn’t it.”
Harry shrugged the robe on after tossing his dressing gown to the side, and he lifted his chin. “So what was it?”
Sirius’ gaze flickered to the side, then back to Harry. “You called my son by his first name.”
Harry felt his throat tighten, and wanted to punch the bastard that he was supposed to be right in the face. Instead, he carried out his plan, because he needed to do this. He wasn’t even entirely sure where to go, and only hoped concentrating on the vision of the blonde was enough.
Draco, Draco, Draco, Draco, his mind supplied as he turned on the spot.
Before Sirius could react to stop him, Harry disappeared with a loud crack.
…and appeared in the middle of an office during what looked like a meeting.
Draco was at a desk, two men in chairs on the other side, and they were speaking rapidly in a language Harry didn’t understand, but it sounded vaguely Germanic. Draco froze the moment Harry appeared, and his grey eyes went wide.
“Mr Potter,” he said carefully, his gaze flickering back to his companions. “To what do I owe the…pleasure?”
“Quidditch emergency?” Harry offered weakly.
Draco swallowed, then went back to the men, his words flowing effortlessly off his tongue. Harry heard the words Quidditch, Seeker, and Potter. The men looked suitably impressed, then stood and actually shook Harry’s hand as they filed out the door.
The moment it slammed shut, Draco rounded on him. “I don’t think I need to ask what the fuck, Potter. But what the fuck?”
Harry ran his fingers through his hair, trembling. “I’m sorry, Draco.”
Malfoy’s eyebrows shot up. “Draco?”
“Malfoy. Whatever,” Harry said, now irritated that the man he was apparently fucking still objected to the use of first names. “I’m in serious fucking trouble right now and I need your help. And you wouldn’t happen to have a drink, would you?”
Harry was banking on him being a good enough shag that Malfoy’s first instinct wouldn’t be to hex him. To his great relief as he sank into one of the now-unoccupied chairs, he was presented with a glass of whiskey, three fingers full. He gulped half, swiping his mouth with the back of his thumb.
“Fuck,” he groaned. “Look, this may sound barmy but do you recall a witch in our year called Hermione Granger?”
“The mudblood?” Malfoy asked with a snort, in a tone that told Harry he, himself, may have been too familiar with that term. His stomach twisted as he glanced up. “She was Ravenclaw, right?”
Harry blinked. “Er. Whatever. I guess. Is there any chance at all you know where she’s at. Did she marry Ron or…?”
Draco snorted hard. “Weasley? Why don’t you ask him yourself?”
Harry stared. “Right. Cos he and I are you know. Friendly.”
“Okay are you hexed or have you just got hit by a bludger too many times this year?” Draco demanded, leaning over his desk to peer at Harry’s eyes.
“No. It’s just…Not that you’ll understand, by my father and godfather burst into my flat this morning and…”
“Oh bloody hell, another intervention?” Draco asked with a half-amused smile. “They won’t give up, will they?”
“Er.” Harry swallowed the rest of the whiskey. “I reckon not.”
With a sigh, Draco came round and perched on the edge of the desk. “Maybe some day. I’ll never understand what they want from you. Who the hell cares where you’re sticking your prick or how many drinks you’ve had in a day.” He slid off, then, before Harry could protest, perched himself between Harry’s legs. “Got your wand?”
Harry nodded dumbly. “Er.”
“Lock the door.” Draco’s voice went deep as he sank to his knees, and it was all Harry could do to remember a simple alohomora before Draco went for his robes. He shoved them up to Harry’s knees and palmed his rapidly hardening cock through his pants.
Harry wondered if he’d ever get over the sight of Draco’s pink mouth parting to take him. His post-Quidditch locker room fantasies had nothing on this. How could he have even begun to imagine what this would be like. Draco’s hot breath as he leant over, licking a stripe from base to tip. He took the head into his mouth, giving it a hard suck as Harry’s hands involuntarily flew to the soft, wispy blonde locks.
“Fucking shit, Malfoy,” he gasped as Draco began to take him deeper and deeper.
For what it was worth, Harry really didn’t last long at all. Watching himself slide in and out of Draco’s mouth was enough to send him crashing over the edge, his hands tight on Draco’s shoulders, his hips thrusting just a little, spilling onto the warm tongue.
When Draco pulled off, he swiped his hand across the back of his mouth, then rose. The look he gave Harry was even, almost bored, and Harry wondered how the blonde could manage such an air of indifference after having just taken a dick right into his throat.
“Maybe you’re contagious,” Draco said, picking at one of his nails. “Bugger off, I don’t have time to actually be poorly this week. I’m wall to wall meetings with these fucking ambassadors.”
Harry finally found his voice as he tucked himself back away, and smoothed down his robes. “What was that for?”
Draco eased himself back into his desk chair and shrugged. “Just a thank you. Those two were nearly boring me to death.” When Harry didn’t move, Draco sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. “Don’t you have somewhere to be?”
“Er. Right. Weasley.”
Draco rolled his eyes. “Use my floo in the lobby. You’ll only splinch yourself and with my luck, you’ll lose the only thing worth keeping.” His gaze flickered to Harry’s crotch, making Harry blush.
Before Draco could see the same things his family did—the absolute differences in who he was—he hurried out. He ignored the pointed stares of Draco’s secretary, and instead went right for the floo. Grabbing the powder, he threw it into the flames, stepped in, and took a breath.
“Ron Weasley,” he shouted, and said a small prayer he’d get to where he needed to be.
When Harry tumbled gracelessly out of the fireplace, he was surprised to find himself in a flat instead of an office. But Ron was there, looking the same as he ever had—though perhaps less war-torn and broken. He also looked mildly concerned, and Harry found himself glancing round to see if they were alone.
After a moment of tense staring, Ron sighed, went to the kitchen, and returned a moment later with a beer in his hands. Harry took it, though he didn’t drink, wondering if that’s how everyone dealt with this Harry. Throw booze at him until he went away.
Ron sighed, then nodded to a chair which Harry took, and he lowered himself to the sofa. “So. You want to tell me why your dad and Sirius came rushing over here twenty minutes ago asking if you’d been by?”
Harry swallowed. “I’d love to mate, but you wouldn’t believe me if I did.” Harry picked at the label, then leant forward and set the bottle down. His one hope that maybe Hermione had also preserved Ron’s memory was also gone, seeing as Ron didn’t seem scared out of his mind to see both James Potter and Sirius Black alive and well. “Are they coming back?”
“I told them I hadn’t seen you in a week. They’re probably checking with your coach now.”
“Unlikely,” Harry muttered, but he felt relieved he’d at least bought himself some time. He glanced uncomfortably at Ron, then shifted. “If I said the name Hermione Granger to you, what would you do?”
Ron lifted an eyebrow. “Hermione Granger? The girl you hated?”
Harry felt his gut squirm uncomfortably. They weren’t friends. She’d been in Ravenclaw. And from what it sounded like, Harry was every bit of a pureblooded twat as Malfoy had ever been. “So you don’t know her.”
“Look, mate, your dad came in here spouting a load of rubbish about how you weren’t you and I needed to be careful. So you should explain.”
Harry took a breath, then decided that he had no other choice but to come clean. If anyone had a hope of believing him, it would be Ron. So he offered up a small prayer, then said, “Two days ago my best friend and your girlfriend came into my office with a locket and a form for me to sign.”
Ron blinked. “My girlfriend.”
Harry swallowed, then nodded. “Her name is Hermione Granger. She was an Unspeakable. She was tampering with…with something, some project. She told me to put the locket on and the next thing I knew, I woke up on Draco sodding Malfoy’s bed with his mouth on my cock, and my parents are alive. And my dad’s married to a bloke. And Sirius and Remus are married to each other! And apparently I’m some sort of bigoted arsehole who drinks too much!”
Ron stared, then burst out laughing. “Mate…what the hell are you taking? Is it muggle drugs? I mean really I…”
Harry stood up, grabbing his hair, and he started to pace. “Ron! For fuck’s sake! I’m not on drugs and I swear to Merlin I will take a bottle of Veritaserum to prove it. When I was a baby this mad dark lord murdered my parents, and by some miracle of protection magic, I was spared and his body was destroyed. Only ten years later he comes back, wreaks havoc, nearly everyone we ever knew and loved died and Hermione went and bloody well tampered with time or something and now I’m here and no one but me remembers!”
Ron stared at him, mouth drawn in a line, hands clasped between his knees as he leant forward. “Maybe it’s exhaustion. Or some sort of psychotic break. Maybe…”
“It isn’t!” Harry cried, throwing his hands in the air. “I don’t know what I have to do to prove it, but I need to do something because I can’t take it anymore.”
Ron pursed his lips, then slapped his thighs and rose. “Right well. We can solve this, you know.”
Harry blinked. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, we can solve this. Like you said, Vertiaserum. We can draw your memories out into a pensive—there are plenty of spells to tell whether or not a memory’s been tampered with. There are other means of interrogation. If you want to prove it, let’s prove it. Your dad’s Head Auror so…”
Harry swallowed, knowing what techniques his dad could use, but at this point he was out of luck. If Ron didn’t remember, he very much doubted Hermione did. “You don’t believe me.”
Ron blinked, then laughed. “No, I don’t. But I also don’t think you’d like to me. So unless you’re not actually Harry, I don’t know what else it could be. Besides maybe a long, nice, quiet stay in St Mungo’s.”
Harry snorted, shaking his head. “At this point, that actually sounds promising.”
Ron sent an owl to James, and got the response within the hour. They were to meet at James’ office and although James promised not to involve other authorities, Harry didn’t have high hopes. He expected to be hexed and chained immediately upon arrival.
However, when they set foot in the office—one Harry knew intimately—it was only James. Not even Sirius, which made Harry all the more nervous. Sirius, at least, he’d known. He’d spent some time with, gotten to know the man, even if it had been someone tainted by twelve years in Azkaban.
James, however, was like a myth. He was stories and memories and a handful of photos. Harry was going to be sitting in a room with a stranger who had raised this other Harry, and it almost seemed so unfair. Whatever Hermione had done, she’d given Harry this, but robbed him of any chance to have been raised by parents.
However it had turned out, anyway.
Which perhaps, he thought with an internal grin as he took the seat James motioned to, was not necessarily a bad thing.
Taking a breath, Harry gripped the armrests, and met James’ stare levelly.
“Ron says you are affected by spellwork conducted by Unspeakables.”
Harry swallowed. “Yes. I…my friend. A friend of mine was working on a project. She came to my office for consent, and once she obtained it, she gave me the preservation charm, and carried out the spell.”
“Do you have any idea the nature of this spell?” James asked, his jaw tense, hands folded on his desk just to the left of his wand.
Harry blinked. “No. But I have a speculation. I believe she…or perhaps a team of Unspeakables…used a time travelling mechanism to destroy Tom Riddle.”
James blinked, looking almost startled. “Tom Riddle. Voldemort?”
Harry licked his lips. “I don’t know the timeline here. But yes, Voldemort.”
James sat back, pinching the bridge of his nose. “He was a Dark Wizard gaining power in the fifties and sixties. But he was defeated by the Ministry long before I even got to Hogwarts. I didn’t even think he was in your history books.”
“I wouldn’t know,” Harry said miserably, “seeing as I can’t sodding remember any of them.” He took a shaking breath. “Before Hermione carried out whatever this is,” he waved his hand round the room, “Voldemort was the wizard who murdered you and mum. His spell rebounded on me because of mum, and it destroyed his body. But he had horcruxes. He regained power thanks to a handful of wizards and came back. There was a war. Nearly everyone died, but we managed to stop him in the end.”
James gave him a slow blink. “How?”
“Dumbledore. He showed me where to find the Horcruxes. Ron, Hermione, and I spent a year tracking them down and destroying them.”
Harry could hear the interrogation tone in his father’s voice, and it almost made him smile. “Several things. The Sword of Gryffindor. It absorbed Basilisk venom in my second year, and took on the properties of it. We used Basilisk fangs for the rest. Dumbledore managed to destroy one in a ring, but he never explained that one. In the end, Voldemort was human again, and died a human death.”
Licking his lips, James took several deep breaths. “How old were you when your mother and father died?”
Harry winced at the way James separated himself from that, but it was hard to blame him, really. “Fifteen months.”
“And you went to live with…?”
“Petunia and Vernon Dursley,” Harry said with a slight sneer.
James’ eyes widened. “You’re lying. Lily would never send you with those…those…”
“She didn’t have a choice, seeing as she was dead,” Harry retorted, almost angrily before catching himself. “Sirius was named godfather, but unfortunately your mate Peter Pettigrew set him up to take the fall for betraying you to Voldemort. He got sent to Azkaban for twelve years.”
“I don’t know. I suppose considering he’s a werewolf, the Ministry wasn’t overly keen to let him have anything to do with me,” Harry replied, and saw the acquiescence in James’ eyes over that. So the bigotry likely still existed, in this world as well. “There was also some sort of blood magic protection, linking me with Petunia. Trust me, I was not treated well.”
“I expect not,” James said from behind a breath. “You went to Hogwarts after?”
Harry nodded. “Hagrid brought me my letter. Took me to Diagon Alley. On the train I met Ron and his brothers. During the summer hols I went back to the Dursleys, but spent some weeks with the Weasleys when I could.”
James’ jaw went tense. “And Sirius…?”
“Escaped. In my third year. Remus came to teach defence that year, and that’s when Pettigrew reappeared.”
“Peter,” James breathed. “What happened to them?”
Harry laughed a little, unable to help it from the memories of that night. “Remus taught me how to cast a patronus. It’s a stag, by the way. Or was. I’m not sure what it might be now.” Harry scrubbed his face, then pushed his glasses up his nose with his middle finger. “Peter eventually revealed himself. I stopped Sirius and Remus from killing him—I didn’t think you’d have wanted that,” Harry added very quietly, not looking directly at his father. “Peter escaped, and Sirius had to go on the run. Remus was sacked when Snape spilt the werewolf secret to the school and…”
“Snape?” James demanded, and Harry now glanced up.
“Taught potions. If it’s any consolation, he died as well.”
James almost smiled at that. Almost. “And then what?”
“Then it all went to shit. Pettigrew set up a spy inside Hogwarts, a boy in my class was murdered, Voldemort used my blood to return to his body, and then took over the wizarding world. Dumbledore died, then damn near everyone died, we all became war veterans who can’t fucking sleep at night, and then Hermione decided to cure me by fucking with time and now I’m here,” Harry added in a frustrated rush.
James bit down on his bottom lip. “No one is going to believe that.”
“I know that,” Harry all-but barked. “I know how it fucking-well sounds. Believe me I’m not entirely convinced this isn’t some bloody fever dream brought on by an overdose of daydream potion or something. But I can’t think of any other explanation for it, and I’m willing to submit myself to whatever tests you want to run just so I can stop feeling like you’re going to have me thrown in Azkaban.”
James got up, then without a word, walked out of the room.
Harry let out a high, tight laugh, wondering if maybe he was getting guards. Maybe he was going to be arrested. Or maybe he was going to be kissed. At this point, anything was welcome because he felt he was slowly, and surely, going mad.
Moment later, however, James returned with a small bottle, and the locket. He set both in the centre of the desk. “I can’t give you Veritaserum. Suspecting my son of odd behaviour because he’s not a complete arse isn’t enough for probable cause. You can, however, take it willingly. Three drops will last one hour. Enough time for me to ensure you’re telling the truth.”
Harry snatched up the bottle, then paused. “You know that it’s possible to build a tolerance to this, right?”
“I know,” James said. “But you’re not lying to me.”
“How do you know?” Harry demanded, though he unstoppered the phial and took out the dropper.
“You wouldn’t have brought it to my attention. And I’ve been doing this a long time. You’re not under polyjuice or any other glamour, which means you’re my son. At least your body is. And your eyes tell me you’re not lying.”
“Do you want me to be lying?” Harry asked, his voice cracking just a little.
For the first time since James sat down, Harry saw pity flicker through his eyes. “I don’t know. All I know is that if you take this potion, we can at least do our best to figure out where to go from here.”
Harry nodded, then put the drops on his tongue. Only seconds later, he felt the fog start to take over, and James’ voice rushing over him like cool water. His mouth moved of its own accord, and he began to answer every question put in front of him.
As the potion began to wear off, Harry pulled a face. His jaw ached from talking, and he realised that James was staring at him with tears standing in his eyes. The Veritaserum fog left him with only clips of memories about what had been said, but he assumed he’d given all the gritty details about everyone’s death. About his childhood. About everything he’d missed out on.
James’ hands were clenched so tight, Harry could see the press of knuckle-bone against his dad’s dark fingers, and he felt bad about it.
“I’m sorry,” Harry muttered.
“Don’t,” James said, and cleared his throat. “I don’t know what to say, Harry. But don’t say bloody sorry.”
Harry’s eyes flickered to the charm, and he sighed. “I just don’t know why she’d do this to me. Why keep me like this? Why let everyone else sink into their new lives but me? Why do I have to look at everyone’s corpses walking round like this?”
James’ hand spasmed like he wanted to reach out, but he stopped himself. “What do you want to do, Harry?”
Blinking, Harry let out a startled laugh. “I don’t know. I mean, we could fix it, I suppose. In some way. Find another way to go back to when that team arrived and stop them. That should put everything right.”
“You want to go back?”
Harry barked a laugh. “Are you asking if I want to go back to a time where all of my family are dead? Where Teddy’s an orphan? Where a violent war ripped apart my world and it’s only just being put back together?”
James swallowed. “Well…”
“Look, I know you want your son back. He’s your son and I’m not him, and well…”
James held up his hand. “Technically, you are. This isn’t…if I’m reading this right, this isn’t some alternate universe where my bastard of a son is now suddenly walking round in your war-torn world. You are him. You were just…shifted.”
Harry breathed. “You know I have no memory of that, though. You didn’t raise me. I’m still the orphan kid who grew up sleeping in a fucking broom cupboard under the stairs for eleven years.”
James tensed, almost reaching for his wand. “Harry I…” He stopped, then breathed. “I need to talk this over with. Everyone.”
Harry swallowed, then remembered James was married to Regulus Black. His other father. He had a hundred thousand questions and he knew he was in no position to demand answers. “Do you believe me?”
“I do. As mad as it sounds. There’s something about this locket. Another spell, but I can’t crack it.”
Harry glanced down, then back up. “Feel free to keep going at it. Honestly I don’t know what she was doing. I was working as an Auror.”
James laughed this time, very quietly. “Go home, Harry. Go back to yours, get some sleep. Eat something. Perhaps send an owl to your coach telling him you may need this season off.”
Harry barked his own laugh. “Right. Yeah. It’s been a while since I’ve been on a broom or anywhere near the Quidditch pitch.” He scrubbed his face. “I erm. Thanks, I suppose. For not having me arrested. Or hexing me again.”
James looked cowed a bit. “I shouldn’t have…we shouldn’t have come at you like that. I’m sorry.”
“I get it,” Harry said, and rose. James quickly followed, stopping him before he reached the door.
“When you saw Sirius at lunch. And Remus. All of us…”
Harry bowed his head. “Yeah. I should have said something then, but it was…you were all there and you’d been dead and…” His voice cracked again, and suddenly he found himself pulled into a fierce hug. He wanted to push James away, to reject the comfort because it’s possible James and the others would decide to put it all right again, and send Harry back. But for some reason, he couldn’t take his arms away. For some reason, he couldn’t stop the flood of tears at being given a taste of something he had wanted for so bloody long, so bloody much, that he ached down to his bones.
When the tears finally stopped he looked up, feeling slightly embarrassed.
“Alright?” James asked quietly.
Harry nodded, not quite letting go just yet. “How are you going to convince them? Sirius is a stubborn bastard.”
James laughed, then pulled back and pointed to a small sphere on his desk. “I recorded everything. If they don’t take my word on it, they’ll at least believe that.”
Harry breathed. “Alright. And I won’t…you won’t leave me in the dark too long.”
James hesitated, then reached out and cupped Harry’s cheek. “You won’t be left alone. Someone will be by tomorrow. I swear.”
Harry let out a breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding, and then allowed himself to back away. He didn’t look back though, couldn’t bring himself to as he strolled to the floo. Ron wasn’t waiting for him, not that he had expected him to. It was likely Ron would be told everything once James sorted out the family.
Then Harry would know if he was finally in a place he belonged.
I think this story may go on for er...maybe five more chapters? Though I can't be sure. Might shoot for an even, round ten. Either way, hope this update is alright. Warning for mentions of past George/Harry.
In his flat, Harry paced for what felt like hours, though really it was no more than a handful of moments. He was exhausted by the events of the day—attacked by his father and godfather, on the run, then questioned under Veritserum. He hadn’t felt like this since the last days of the war, and he hadn’t been looking forward to reliving anything like it.
He was just settling in for tea, some take-away pizza, when the fire roared in his lounge. He half expected it to be another attack, or maybe another visit from Malfoy which wasn’t something he was sure he’d say no to.
Instead he laid eyes on Regulus Black, and found himself completely startled. Being that he had no reference for the other Harry’s relationship with his second father—though he assumed it was likely just as bad as he had with the others—he wasn’t sure how to react. The pair met eyes, green and grey, and eventually Regulus shook his head and pointed at the sofa for Harry to sit.
Oddly compelled to do as the man asked, Harry sank down, and Regulus moved out of the room, returning not long after with two cups of tea. He offered one to Harry, and sat before saying anything.
“Er,” Harry began. “Thank you.”
There was a pause, then Regulus laughed, sounding quite a lot like Sirius did—a low, almost barking sound. “I can’t remember the last time you said thank you to me. You must have been knee-high.”
Harry stared at him. “Has dad erm…”
“Explained the situation?” Regulus asked, then sipped his tea as he nodded. “He sat us down, showed us the interrogation. Which I feel compelled to apologise for. His methods have always been a bit…” Regulus finished off with a sigh.
Harry blinked at him for a moment. “I would have done the same, you know. I mean, maybe the other Harry would have hesitated but…”
“Other Harry,” Regulus mused. “My son, the son I raised,” Regulus finished after a moment, “would have resorted to much crueller methods, I think. Though he’s never been one for the Auror department, or getting his hands dirty.”
Harry couldn’t help but glance down at his own. They were clean, had been for some time. But he couldn’t erase the flashes of memory when they were filthy, calloused, covered in blood and other things he preferred not to think about. He took a swallow of his tea to chase down some of the bitterness sticking in his throat.
“Are you here to question me?” Harry asked after a moment.
Regulus laughed quietly again. “I think I wanted to see for myself. I knew, obviously. We all did.”
“Clearly,” Harry said. “The only one who hasn’t noticed—or hasn’t cared much—is Malfoy.”
Regulus blinked at him. “Er…?”
“Possibly that was a secret I was keeping?” Harry asked.
Regulus shrugged. “You haven’t bothered to speak to us about your personal life in quite a long time. I don’t think it was a secret, just something the Daily Prophet hadn’t got out yet.”
Just then Harry jumped as the buzzer sounded with his pizza. He fumbled for his muggle money—surprised to find some in the flat, and returned with the boxes of Dominos. “Er. Do you…have you? Had this?”
Regulus laughed. “Yes.”
“Oh. Well good. Go on, help yourself.” Harry flipped the lid back and grabbed a piece, digging in with a strange vigour he hadn’t expected to have after his long night. Regulus waited a beat, then went on ahead and took some for himself.
“This is surreal,” he admitted. “I don’t think I’ve had dinner with my son since…”
“Knee-high,” Harry finished for him, then grinned a bit. “Well frankly I never expected to have dinner with either of my parents considering they were murdered. And you were well…dead.”
“Heard that bit,” Regulus said, his voice a bit tight.
Harry scrubbed at his face. “Is my mum…is she…?”
Regulus looked at him carefully. “She’s alive, and quite well. She visits from time to time, though she’s never been…it’s never been exactly a parent relationship with her.”
“What happened?” Harry asked. “I mean maybe it was the war that made my parents cling to each other so much. Honestly anyone who had the answers died before I could ask.”
Regulus flinched. “I can’t begin to understand what you’ve been through. Honestly I’m having trouble wrapping my mind round the concept. You are our son, but with a different set of memories. Replaced by…a spell.” He set down his half-gone pizza and swiped his hands on the sides of his robes. “Your parents were on and off at Hogwarts. They got married just after Lily got pregnant with you. I was…I had a bit of trouble with my parents once I started speaking with Sirius again, and James invited me to stay with them.”
Harry looked at him. “So all that. With the blood purity and Sirius running away…?”
“Happened just the same here. Probably would in any universe,” Regulus said with a chuckle. “Just like it would happen in any Universe that Remus and Sirius would fall in love.”
Harry felt his cheeks go hot. “Actually erm. Remus married Tonks.”
Regulus went quiet, then chuckled under his breath. “I heard that bit, yes. But I would not believe for a second they weren’t together long before that. Before the…the war.” Regulus swallowed, looking carefully at Harry again, no doubt remembering everything Harry had recounted in gory detail. “Lily wasn’t cut out for marriage and child-rearing. She wanted to travel the world, to study everything she could. She’s a British Magical Ambassador—right now to Ecuador and she’s there with her wife, Marlene.”
“McKinnon?” Harry blurted, remembering vaguely Sirius mentioning her as having died in the war.
Regulus nodded. “She left just after your sister was born. Your father and I had already—well. There was a connection there.”
Harry tried to picture the James Potter he’d grown up thinking about, trying to understand, as being someone who wanted to date another man. Someone like Regulus Black. Though all Harry had ever known about Regulus was what Sirius had said. Soft enough to believe his parents’ rubbish, in league with Slytherins who all turned out to be Death Eaters. Joined at sixteen, died at eighteen, and provided the only real, solid clue Harry had to win the war.
He always knew Regulus had been brave.
He never expected this.
“So you two…?”
“It took a while,” Regulus said with a shrug. “Your mum would visit from time to time, send interesting care packages from the places she was assigned. Eventually she became something like the wild aunt, showing up on random holidays with things to spoil you with. There was never any resentment.”
Harry, who hadn’t grown up with any family at all, and was still getting used to ones like the Weasleys, couldn’t find it in him to feel any sort of resentment. He knew bloody well what it was like to feel desperate to leave. To feel free. To feel unbound to a specific sort of life.
“Alright,” he said eventually.
Regulus looked at him for a while. “This is a lot for all of us to take in, you know. Your father’s decided to keep it as quiet as we can for now, but people will start to notice.”
“Ron,” Harry said.
“He was invited,” Regulus assured him. “He was confused, but he’s willing to help. Says he’d still help you track down that Granger witch if you feel like it’s necessary.”
“I think it’s worth investigating, don’t you?” Harry asked. “Why she’d leave me with my memories like this.”
“I suppose.” Regulus looked down at his hands for a moment, then back up at Harry. “Do you want to go back?”
Harry was startled by the question, though he supposed it was very logical and something he should have expected. “Truthfully? I don’t know. I mean, is there a back to go to? If Hermione changed the timeline, does mine still exist? I mean in theory it would, if we can stop the Unspeakables from killing Voldemort before the first war but…” Harry trailed off. “It means the lot of you dying. It means my sister never being born. Means…” Harry trailed off, the images flooding his mind, and he winced at them.
His eyes opened at the feeling of a warm hand on his knee, and he looked up into Regulus’ concerned eyes. “You shouldn’t be here alone like this. Come back with us for a while, yeah? Your sister’s gone to visit Sirius and Remus, help mind Teddy for the full moon. Your dad agrees,” he added when Harry looked unsure of the request.
“It just feels like I’m intruding in someone else’s life. The whole idea of this is…” Harry shrugged. “I’m not your son. I mean, not the one you raised. I don’t have any of those memories and it feels unfair. For you.”
Regulus shook his head. “You’re not the son we raised, but it doesn’t mean my parental instincts aren’t telling me to provide you with as much support and comfort as I can. That’s never changed, no matter how much you resented me for it.”
The only resentment Harry really had now was for the spoilt little twat he might have been. The spoilt little twat who had no idea how close he’d come to losing everything. The spoilt twat who had no idea what he would have gone through, if just a few decisions had been made differently.
In this world.
Harry stopped, reminding himself that this world was his world. The timeline had been changed. Hermione’s plan had worked. If only he knew why he still existed with his memories.
“Harry?” Regulus asked quietly.
Harry realised he’d been quiet for some time, and he shook himself out of the daze. “Sorry. I…yeah. Okay, if erm. I’m sorry it feels strange to say dad, but it also feels wrong to call him James.”
Regulus chuckled. “Let’s take the floo, shall we? Until you’re familiar enough with the apparition location.” He rose, extending a hand to Harry, who took it.
They walked to the floo together, and before long, Harry was tumbling into the lounge of the house he had apparently grown up in. This wasn’t Godric’s Hollow, at least not that he’d seen in memories, though he supposed it could have changed over the years.
But now that he was inside, with them knowing, with their blessing, he allowed himself a look round. The photos on the walls were all of him and his sister. Smiling children, sullen teenagers. Harry in his Gryffindor Quidditch kit—at least that much hadn’t changed. He’d still been captain.
In one photo apparently he had been prefect. He let his finger drag over the frame as he stared at himself with colder eyes than he thought he’d ever worn, and he startled when he heard a voice just over his shoulder.
“I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be disappointed or proud.” It was James, and he was looking at the photo with some measure of fondness.
“Did I get Head Boy?” Harry asked.
James snorted. “You did not. You had enough on your plate being Quidditch Captain. Were you…did you…?”
“Seeker,” Harry said as he turned back to the mantle. “I got on the team in my first year.”
“First year,” James breathed. “They let you try out?”
Harry shook his head, oddly pleased that the other, twattish Harry didn’t share this experience. “McGonagall saw me take a fifty foot dive after a remembrall. Longbottom’s,” he said with a grin. “I thought she was going to have me beaten. Instead she forced Wood to put me on the team. Am I seeker now?”
James gave a slow nod, then beckoned Harry toward the kitchen where Regulus was pouring more tea. “Seeker for the Kestrals, still reserve though. And I’m not sure how well that’s going to work out once your Coach gets a hold of you. You’ve been a bit difficult for him lately.”
Harry scrubbed his face as he sat down. “I haven’t played in ages, you know. We didn’t have…I didn’t have a seventh year at Hogwarts. Didn’t take my NEWTs.”
“Too busy trying to fend off a Dark Lord,” James said quietly. “I did a lot of research after you left, looking into the details of Riddle that you’d given me. We knew about him as well as we knew about Grindelwald. Just the bare bones. But there were records at the Ministry.”
“What did they say?” Harry asked, as he took the tea, and a chocolate biscuit off a plate Regulus put in the centre of the table.
“Apparently they worked with Dumbledore, and managed to track down several Horcruxes over the span of about three years. Lost several members in the process, but it all worked out eventually. His followers were rounded up and arrested. Most of them receiving the Kiss.”
Harry flinched at that, looking into his tea cup at the swirling, dark liquid. “Did it mention names?”
James shook his head. “Unspeakables. The records are sealed and even as the Head of my department, my influence doesn’t stretch that far.”
Harry sighed. “Just as well, you know. I don’t think it matters.”
James gave him a sidelong look, then said, “I found that Granger girl you were looking for as well.” At that, Harry’s gaze snapped to him. “She’s not a Granger anymore, though. She’s married to Viktor Krum, the…”
“Bulgarian Seeker,” Harry breathed, his eyes going wide. He felt the insane urge to laugh, thinking about what his Ron might have said if he knew. Then he felt a fierce, sharp pain when he realised his Ron didn’t exist. At least, not in that way. Their experiences were no longer shared. Harry had no memories of them at all.
“I have her address, if you’d like to send her an owl,” James said quietly. “Perhaps she can shed some light on the locket.”
“I think she’d have contacted me by now,” Harry said quietly, “if she had any idea. But it’s probably a good idea. I suppose I could just pretend I was an old school mate who wanted to see her again.”
“According to Ron,” James said, shaking his head, “you and Granger didn’t get on. She was your biggest competition in most of your classes.”
Harry laughed at that, wondering what it might have been like to have time to care about his marks instead of fighting for his life every year. He felt a pang of jealousy that the other Harry got to experience that, at least.
Though, he reminded himself, presently he did have the opportunity to not be afraid. He wasn’t famous, he wasn’t the Boy Who Lived here. He was Harry Potter—a drunk, a twat, a reserve seeker. It was, at the very least, a start.
He gave a yawn before he could speak, and he saw his parents exchange a smile over the table. “Look, I’ve got your old room made up. I’m sorry I sent you to be alone. I wasn’t really thinking what you might need and…”
“I understand,” Harry said in a rush. “This is just as strange for me as it is for you. I’ve spent my whole life wishing desperately I could get the chance to actually meet my parents, even for a moment, you know? When I was in first year I found the Mirror of Erised and the only thing I saw was my family. I didn’t want anything else. Now I feel like maybe I wished too hard, and I selfishly robbed you of the person you raised. So I…”
“Stop,” James said tightly, reaching over to close his fingers round Harry’s wrist. “This isn’t your fault. I’m…I’m confused and not sure what to make of all this, but none of us are angry.”
Harry had to wonder how badly his other self really was, that his own parents barely missed him. Maybe, he wondered quietly to himself, it was a blessing all round. But he wouldn’t allow himself to make the decision. Not on his own. This wasn’t really his life to live, and if they wanted him to find a way out of this, he supposed he’d have no other choice.
Harry woke, confused but feeling oddly more at home than he had since he woke up the morning after Hermione’s spell. He was in what was apparently his old bedroom, a place he clearly hadn’t slept since he was quite younger, and far more Quidditch obsessed than he was at the present time. It looked a rather lot like Ron’s old bedroom at the Burrow—Harry had to wonder a moment if that still existed. The walls had strategically placed Quidditch posters, all moving and flying, and a handful of photos of school friends.
Harry was pleased to note he’d still made friends with Dean and Seamus, and several of Ron and a handful of the Twins. There were a few with Diggory, which startled him, and none with Malfoy though Harry hardly expected to flaunt whatever he had going on with the Prince of Slytherin house. Even though, he realised belatedly, his dad had actually married one. In the end.
Scrubbing his face, Harry found his clothes from the night before, attempting to freshen them up with a few charms, before heading down. As he passed by a bedroom, he heard a slight groan of pain, deep and low. With a frown, unable to stop himself, he gave the door a push and saw Remus in the bed, a sheet pulled up to his neck, and several bits of flannel nearby, stained a red.
He almost stepped in, when a hand fell on his shoulder, and he turned to see Sirius. It was still an almost violent jolt, seeing his Godfather alive and well, just…there. Like he’d always been. He swallowed. “Sorry, I heard erm…”
Sirius looked at him warily, but gave the phial in his hand a bit of a shake. “Just needs his pain potion. He’ll be alright.”
Harry stepped aside, and winced a bit when the door shut with a firm, sharp click. With a sigh, realising he would not be able to just jump back to having a pleasant relationship with the family he’d so sorely missed, he turned and headed down the stairs.
In the kitchen, James was having tea, and he offered Harry a smile when he walked through the door. “Sleep alright?”
Harry shrugged as he helped himself to the kettle. “Better than before. Still a bit…weird. But I was comfortable.”
James watched him as he sat, his hazel eyes a bit narrow. Harry took the time to study him back, now that he wasn’t a fifteen year old in a memory. Or a shade pulled from the resurrection stone. The man was Harry’s father. Flesh and blood, alive. And they really did look more than alike. The same untidy hair, though James’ nose was a bit longer than Harry’s. But they had the same funny curve to their smile, same dark skin, and shape of the eyes, and their hands both drummed nervously on the table.
James caught it, and laughed. “Sorry. It’s…going to take some getting used to.”
“Tell me about it,” Harry muttered. “Last I saw you, you were a ghost ushering me to my death so…” He stopped, swallowed, and stared down into his tea.
He could feel the tension in the room increase. “For all that things haven’t been perfect,” James said very quietly, “I can’t imagine a world where any of us died and left you alone with…with them.”
Harry glanced up, then let out a bitter laugh. “Your Harry ever meet them?”
James scoffed, shaking his head. “No. Lily attempted to keep in contact just after she and I got married, but it was no use. And honestly it was for the best. Dreadful, they were.”
“That’s only the half of it,” Harry said. He reached across the table to the stack of toast, and took a slow bite. “But I suppose I don’t have to worry about that now, do I?”
“Suppose not,” James said. He thumbed the rim of the mug. “I feel like there are novels’ worth of stories you haven’t told me yet. Things I probably…don’t want to hear.”
Harry swallowed the dry toast, and let out a small cough. “I suppose so. But maybe we should worry about the erm…necklace. And Hermione first. Then we can sort it from there. Might not matter in the end. I mean, what if this is all temporary.”
“I doubt it is,” James said. “But good to be cautious.” There was another long pause. “I’ve got word from Ron. Says you ought to come by today and the pair of you can work out what you want to say in your letter. He seems to think you sending and owl wouldn’t be very well received, or answered.”
“Not if she’s gone and not put the preservation charm on herself,” Harry said. “That’s probably a good idea. Could I use your floo? I’d Apparate but I’m not entirely confident I’ll end up in some stranger’s flat. In my timeline, he and Hermione were already living together.”
James lifted a brow. “And you? Were you on your own?”
“Technically. My girlfriend was travelling a lot with the Wasps.”
James snorted a laugh. “Quidditch player. Now that doesn’t surprise me. Was she nice?”
Harry licked his lips. “It was er…Ginny? Weasley?”
James choked on his mouthful of tea. “Ginny?”
Harry felt his cheeks go hot. “Yeah. I reckoned last night that was far less likely to happen in this world but…” He shrugged. “Hopefully we’re still friendly.”
“You’re friendly with all of them, of course,” James said, but there was a hint of almost bitterness to his tone, though Harry didn’t want to pry. “And you may absolutely use my floo. I think your papa’s right you know. You ought to stay here at least until you get your bearings. Decide what you want to do about all of this.”
Harry looked at him carefully. “I just want to make sure…I mean well…this isn’t just my decision, you know? The timeline changed things for everyone. No one’s dead. If I go back it means…well you and mum will have…and Regulus. Er, papa, I mean?” The word sounded so strange on his tongue, and he couldn’t help but fumble over it.
“Don’t worry yourself over it,” James said gently. “It’ll come in time. Or it won’t. But I appreciate you involving us.”
“I don’t think I could do this on my own,” Harry admitted. “And well. Maybe I want to be a bit selfish, you know? Have at least a little taste of what I never had before. Especially if it doesn’t work out and I have to wake up back there.” He couldn’t stop the tremble in his voice thinking of his other life. The pain. The grief. The constant fear. The nightmares.
They weren’t gone here, but somehow, it felt less.
James reached across the table and squeezed his wrist. “Be as selfish as you want.”
Harry again had to resent his other self, for being so terrible his own father would readily exchange him for another. He couldn’t help but wonder—perhaps in a cruel way—if this was maybe a gift for both of them. A chance to give them the son they should have raised, and give Harry the family he should have had. But he couldn’t think of it that way. Or any way besides temporary. At least not until he had some answers.
Once he finished his tea, he stood up. “Is there any way I could get a change of clothes? I’m sure I’ve got robes or something back at mine and…”
“I’ll send Regulus over this afternoon on his way home,” James assured him. “I’ve decided to use some of my holiday hours to help you get sorted, so I’ll be here when you get back. And if you need anything,” he reached into his pocket and pulled out a very familiar mirror. It caused a pang to rush through him. Something he and Sirius still did, something that Sirius had given to Harry and might have saved his life if Harry hadn’t been so…
He wasn’t going to let himself think about that right now. He took the mirror with a smile. “Sirius has the other?”
“I’ll get it from him later,” James said with a pleased smile. “See you later, yeah?”
Harry nodded. “Thanks again. Dad.”
James’ eyes widened just a fraction, but he said nothing as Harry left the room and went right for the floo.
Stepping into Ron’s lounge, Harry glanced round at the flat which looked quite a lot like it had before. It was a different place, but it was cleaner than the flat had been when he and Ron were sharing one. And there was a faint scent of floral perfume coming from down the corridor which led Harry to believe that maybe Ron didn’t live alone after all.
Bypassing the lounge, he went down to the first door, and he heard a voice. It was too muffled to make out who it was, so he gave a sharp knock, then pushed inside.
Harry could have been prepared to see several strange things by this point. He could have seen naked Sirius tap dancing with Buckbeak and have been less startled when he stared at the bed and saw Ginny Weasley with her face between the legs of a very familiar Ravenclaw blonde.
Luna gave a slight gasp and turned her face, and Ginny looked up with a scowl. “Merlin’s saggy left one, Potter! You never knock!”
“I knocked!” Harry defended, feeling a weird, tight sensation in his chest at the sight of who had been his girlfriend, doing that. To Luna. To Luna Lovegood. He had to wonder if his Ginny had ever felt that way.
“Well I didn’t give you permission to enter, did I?” she snapped. Her hand went between Luna’s legs, fingers slipping in—Harry had far too good a view for it to be proper, and he looked away when Luna groaned in spite of herself. “Hurry up before I hex you.”
Feeling like this Ginny’s hexes were probably just as good as his, he took a step back. “ I was supposed to be meeting Ron.”
Ginny rolled her eyes as she worked her girlfriend harder. “Well he’s not here, is he. Clearly. Because that would be disgusting.”
Harry stammered, then turned for the door, but before he could slip out again, he was called back.
“Oy wait! I forgot, he actually did tell me you’d be by. Said to meet him at the Joke Shop. He’s with Fred and George this afternoon.”
Harry gulped, then hurried out, slamming the door just as Luna let out a loud cry of pleasure. His entire face was white-hot with embarrassment, and a strange sense of jealousy. Not that he had any right. He’d got off with Malfoy more than once since he’d been in this place, and he hadn’t felt a scrap of guilt or loyalty to Ginny before now.
Shaking his head, he went for the lounge again, and stepped back into the fire, flooing straight to the Joke Shop.
That, thankfully, looked exactly as it had done in his own timeline. He flooed into the Twins’ office, and he found one of them stood at one of their prototype shelves, mucking about with something very small, and very furry.
Harry brushed the soot off himself and stood up straight. “Is Ron here?”
“Harry?” When he turned, Harry got a flash of several things all in succession. A name badge reading George. A cloak hung round a muggle t-shirt and jeans. And a massive smattering of angry, red scars across George’s face and eyes. His eyes were scarred over, milky-white and unseeing.
Harry nearly swallowed his tongue before he forced himself to gasp out, “Yeah. I…was erm. Ginny said Ron’s here, asked me to meet him.”
“Yeah he was going on about something you were up to. I didn’t expect you to be by for ages. Training’s started up, hasn’t it?” George’s hand went out, searching for a shelf before he put the furry thing down. Then he turned and held out a hand, taking a few, tentative steps toward Harry. When Harry didn’t reach out, George snorted. “Not pleased to see me anymore, are you?”
Harry blinked rapidly, then grabbed George’s hand, letting out a cry of surprise when he was pulled into a hug. A hot kiss pressed under his ear, and Harry made a noise like he’d been hit by a bludger. “Er. Very erm. Pleased.”
George laughed, his hand going up to cup Harry’s face, then give it a pat. “Lying shithead. I know you’re having it off with Malfoy now. I don’t mind, I just wasn’t keen on being ignored.”
“Sorry,” Harry muttered, still staring. What the bloody hell had happened here? How long had he been…and how had he…?
Those were questions for Ron, really. Who knew the situation. Or at least, most of it. George was letting him go, though, and he was smiling. “He’s downstairs helping Fred. I’m just getting a few things sorted here. If you get bored later though…you know where to find me.” He winked, and Harry felt his entire body go flush. When he didn’t answer, George raised a brow. “Mate, are you okay? You haven’t said anything rude at all.”
Harry gulped. “Bad…bad day. Very bad day. I’ll erm…insult you later.”
George wore a strange expression, but Harry hurried off before he could start to ask questions. Rushing down to the main floor, Harry found Ron behind the counter helping out a couple of small girls who had shopping bags full of Hogwarts supplies. When they hurried off, Harry slid up next to his friend.
“I just walked in on your…your sister and Luna,” he gasped.
Ron rolled his eyes. “Merlin, not on the sofa again, were they?”
Harry shook his head. “Bedroom. I didn’t know.”
“Ah well.” Ron gave him a careful look. “Not a thing from your erm…whatever it is?” He waggled his hand at Harry.
“No. No Ginny and I were…we were…”
Ron choked on his own tongue. “You and Ginny? Ginny?”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Why? Is she not interested in blokes this time round?”
Ron snorted. “Mate, she’s not interested in you. She thinks you’re a twat. Which, she’s not half wrong. Or well, wasn’t. Merlin that is so weird.”
Harry ruffled his hair with a sigh. “Tell me about it. Anyway my dad erm…James…whatever. Said you had some ideas about the letter to send to Hermione?”
Ron shrugged. “Actually I was thinking we might just sort of…happen upon her? I have a friend in Magical Law Enforcement, he can get a track on her. Not entirely legal but…”
“I’ll take it,” Harry said with a shrug.
“Hopefully she’ll be with Krum,” Ron said, his eyes going a bit dazed. “Maybe I could get an autograph.”
Harry snorted loudly, shaking his head. “Well, it’s good to know not much has changed.”
Harry stuck round the shop for the day, the Twins a bit surprised he “lowered” himself to help out, but after a while they were joking round and they seemed, at least for the moment, to forget he wasn’t their Harry. After, he and Ron went for a pint at the muggle local, and hunkered down in a booth at the dark, far end of the pub.
“You reckon they can tell something’s off about me?” Harry asked as he stabbed a chip into a thick curry sauce.
Ron shrugged, his mouth full of steak and kidney pie. “Mate, I don’t think they give a hippogriff shit. You loaned them the start-up cash for their place, they’ll let you get away with just about anything.”
Harry swallowed his bite of chip, then chased it with half the pint. “What erm. What happened to George?”
Ron frowned, confused. “Why? What did he do? Is he still trying to chat you up and…”
“No,” Harry said in a rush, though he wanted to pin that one for later. “I meant the erm…” He waved his hand round his eyes.
Ron’s eyebrows shot up. “You mean to say in your timeline he’s not blind?”
Harry shook his head. “No. He lost an ear during a Death Eater battle but…” Harry swallowed another mouthful of the beer. “That’s it.”
“Fireworks in their fifth year gone badly wrong,” Ron said, shaking his head. “He finished school a year after Fred because of it. He was in Mungo’s for nearly six months cos they couldn’t get the spell under control and it kept burning away at his skin. Nearly gave up pranking after that, but of course Fred wouldn’t hear of it.”
Harry ran a hand over his face. “And he and I erm…we…?”
Ron rolled his eyes. “Yeah mate, you used to. Nothing serious. Actually, George wanted more, which is why you two split off. You didn’t before, either?”
Harry shook his head. “Bit preoccupied with war.”
“And Ginny,” Ron said with a laugh.
“Oh fuck off,” Harry muttered, but he was grinning. “Anyway it was quite a while til we got round to getting anything off. What with everyone dying and all.”
Ron sobered instantly. “Look, I can’t pretend like I don’t understand this. Or that I can’t tell the difference because my mate Harry Potter is not…” He waggled his hand at Harry. “Not the sort to help out at the shop or want to make anyone smile. But I don’t entirely mind.”
Harry bit down on his lip in thought, his head going too fast for his mouth to keep up. “Why are we friends, Ron? I mean, if I’m more like Malfoy—bigoted twat and all that…why’d you stick round. I know you’re not like that.”
“Force of habit, I suppose,” Ron said. “You were the rich, cool kid, and you didn’t mind me so much being pureblood and all. And really, you weren’t that bad. I think you were worse to your parents than you were with us.”
Harry winced, shaking his head. “If I could meet this other Harry, I’d punch him in the fucking mouth. He had no idea what he had.”
Ron gave him a careful look, then signalled for another two pints. “Isn’t that the way of things, eh? Grass is always greener and all that.”
Harry fiddled with the side of his chip basket, and sighed. “Yeah. I just…I reckon I’m worried whatever we find, it’ll send me straight back. Seems only fair, you know. Considering I’m not the Harry you all knew and I sort of just woke up and took his place but…”
“You’re not hearing me cry about it, mate. I think the only one’s going to give much of a shit is Malfoy and really, you could do better.”
Harry wanted to agree. Because well, it was Malfoy and he was a class A git, but…when he thought about how good it felt getting off with him the way he had—being able to just let go and feel all that—he found it hard to make his tongue work to side with Ron. “I’m for the toilet. Put these pints on my tab, yeah?”
“Already had,” Ron said with a snort.
Harry shot him a V, then headed down the short corridor to the toilet and slipped inside. Luckily no one was there, but he needed some space for a moment, and slipped into a stall. Just as he’d finished emptying his bladder, there was a loud crack, and suddenly a body was shoving him against the cool metal.
“Where the bloody fuck have you been?” a voice whispered in his ear.
Harry immediately recognised the soft, angry fingers lifting his shirt and digging into his ribs. He felt a hardness pressing into his arse, and a hot mouth dragging along the nape of his neck. “I was…p-preoccupied,” Harry gasped.
There was a sudden, muttered charm round the stall, and everything went funny and muffled. Then a hand sneaked itself down the front of Harry’s jeans, palming him through his pants. “Really? So what you’ve got going on is better than my mouth round your dick?”
Harry let out a choked noise as he pushed his hips, almost involuntarily, into Draco’s hand. His eyes rolled back in his head and he groaned as Draco worked him, not enough pressure, but close. “Fuck. Fuck,” he breathed.
“That’s the idea, only we’re in some fucking filthy muggle pub and you’re in jeans, not robes.” Draco increased the pressure and stroked him once, very hard, making Harry cry out. “I’m going to Apparate us to my bedroom.”
Harry’s mouth opened to protest, to tell him Ron was waiting and he had a tab open, but he couldn’t. He wanted too much, wanted to feel more of this, and he merely closed his eyes as Draco’s grip tightened, and the world folded in on itself, then went right again steps from Draco’s bed.
The blonde let go, and he backed up several steps. “Undress. I don’t want to see you in that shit.”
Harry’s face went hot, but his hands flew to his shirt, ripping it off his head before shucking away his jeans. His pants remained, and socks, but Draco was satisfied as his long, pale fingers went to his buttons and with a clever flick, they undid themselves.
Harry’s mouth went dry as the robes fell to the ground, revealing a chest more fit than he swore he remembered. Before he could think too hard on it, he was being crowded back to the bed, hands everywhere, Draco’s mouth everywhere, and his head was spinning with want and need and more and oh god please, Malfoy.
Before long, Malfoy was straddling him, preparing himself with a sort of hurried roughness that nearly sent Harry over the edge right there. Then when a firm, lubed hand stroked his cock, Harry let out a keening whine and had to bite the inside of his cheek to keep from coming.
Draco raised a brow at him. “You going to be able to keep your head about you?”
Harry bit down on his lip, then nodded as he arched his hips up, begging for contact. It wasn’t long until Draco sank down, gripping the headboard with one hand to guide his rhythm, and he began to thrust down as Harry thrust up.
Harry was dizzy with pleasure, every slide up and down sending him to the near brink of madness as Draco fucked him into the mattress. Watching the slow pink creep up Draco’s cheeks, the way he bit his lip, the way his eyes fluttered closed—it was almost too much.
When he reached for his own cock, Harry found himself batting the long fingers away, taking it in his own hand and pumping in a way that made Draco gasp. It was like he’d always known this was how Draco liked it, a twist up by the head, a thumb rubbing down at just the right pressure.
Draco snapped his hips once, twice, and then threw his head back with his mouth open as he came all over Harry’s chest. It was all it took for Harry to let go, feeling Draco clench round him. He felt his cock spurting hot into the tight hole, and then he collapsed down, Draco easing himself away, and onto his side.
Unable to stop himself, not wanting to stop himself, Harry’s hand went out and brushed some of Draco’s hair away that had fallen over his forehead. He expected to be told off, to be insulted. Instead there was a flash of something in the grey eyes—an almost desire.
Then Draco went cold again, and stiff. Harry let out a sigh, the post-orgasm making him crave something more intimate than the shag-and-run, but he knew he wouldn’t be welcome. After a beat, Harry sat up and reached for his wand, cleaning them both up before he grabbed at his clothes once more.
“Where are you staying?” Draco demanded.
Harry looked at him. “At my parents’.”
With a snort, Draco sat up. “Funny, Potter. You should be a comedian.”
“I’m not taking the piss. I’m staying with my parents for a little while. I’m er…helping my dad out with some…some stuff.”
“My arse,” Draco complained. “If you don’t want me popping by, you can just say so. It’s not like we owe each other anything or…”
“It’s not that,” Harry said again. “I actually am helping him with something.”
“Is he paying you?” Draco asked, now lying back, picking at his nails as though incredibly bored with the conversation.
Harry flushed, hating what a twat his other self was. Hating that he kind of wanted to just stay here and see if there was something more to Malfoy—something he had always suspected, but could never be sure about. “No. I’m not a complete prick all the time, you know.”
Draco laughed outright. “Sure you’re not. Is that what dear-old-dad tells you as your bedtime story?”
“There’s the Potter I know and love.” Draco grinned at him, and Harry shot him a V. “Where can I find you?”
“Don’t,” Harry said, then saw a flash of something akin to hurt—though it was probably just insult—in Draco’s eyes. “I’ll find you. I’m going to be busy over the next few days and I really don’t have time to be kidnapped out of bathroom stalls.”
“Don’t flatter yourself,” Draco said as he watched Harry make for the door. “There was a very hot, but very straight man in my meeting today and I needed to get it out of my system.”
Harry flashed back, though, to the possessive way Draco had come at him in the stall, and he snorted. “Whatever you say, Draco. Have a good night.” And with that, he turned on the spot, and Apparated back to Ron.
Warning in this chapter for Nightmares, talks of PTSD, and panic.
This chapter doesn't have any Draco/Harry scenes in it, but the next chapter will make up for that.
Padding down to the lounge, Harry was on his way to the kitchen when he saw a familiar, small head covered in dark-tawny curls, and his heart leapt. In the midst of all this adjusting, Harry was attempting to cling to familiar things, and the sight of his godson was a welcome one. His sister was on the sofa with what looked like her Potion’s book stretched across her legs, and she looked up with an expression of vague curiosity when Harry entered.
His hand went to his hair, giving it a ruffle, and she smiled, her head shaking. “It’s weird to see you do that. You haven’t done that for years.” When Harry lifted a brow, she mimed his hair ruffle. “The parentals explained everything. I’m not entirely sure you aren’t just bored and fucking with everyone but…whatever.”
“And you don’t care that your brother is you know…gone.”
Tilly sighed as Harry walked into the lounge and plopped down near Teddy. He made a motion for the boy to crawl over, which he did, and plopped himself on Harry’s lap, immediately going for his glasses as he always had. Absently Harry pulled them off and pushed them on Teddy’s nose, to the delight of the small boy.
“I probably should care, but you know you haven’t even been round here in what? Two years? Maybe longer if you don’t want to count the handful of days you’d spend over the summer hols your last two years of school. I think your sixth year you wrote a single letter home, and that was because you needed more money for Hogsmeade.”
Harry pursed his lips, but said nothing as Teddy grabbed his thumbs, stood up on his thighs, and began to bounce. He grinned and leant forward, blowing a raspberry on Teddy’s cheek. “Sorry I was such a prick.”
“Wasn’t you, then, was it?” Tilly challenged.
Harry shrugged. “I suppose in a way it still was. Same universe, just…sort of like a memory charm, in a way. Like my memories were swapped with some other nineteen year old.”
“Yeah, a really bloody tragic one,” Tilly said, eyeing him. “Pop was totally against me watching the interview, but dad said it was necessary. And I’m not a coward.”
Harry raised an eyebrow. “Suspect not. Are you Gryffindor?”
Tilly burst out laughing. “No. Fuck, you really aren’t my brother, are you?”
Harry winced at that, unable to help it. “Guess not.”
Her face softened. “You kept telling me I was going to be a Hufflepuff. The summer before first year. You said it was the rubbish house.”
Harry thought about Cedric, momentarily forgetting in this timestream, Cedric was very much alive and well. But the pangs were still there, seeing him lying flat on his back, eyes open. Dead. He swallowed. “Ah.”
“Then I got Slytherin,” she said with a shrug. You actually got up out of your seat and rushed over and told me that dad was going to disown me. I cried for three days until the letter arrived from them saying they were proud.”
Harry shook his head. “So a prick all round then, am I?”
“Pick!” Teddy cried, poking Harry on the nose.
“No,” Harry groaned. “Say nice words, Ted.”
“Babababa,” Teddy babbled, and bashed Harry on the face.
He laughed, even as his eyes watered, and he grabbed one of Teddy’s curled fists and kissed it. “You’re always giving me such a hard time, mister.”
Then, as if by magic, Sirius was there, reaching down to swoop the boy up and back a few steps away. His eyes were still cold, full of suspicion, and Harry felt it like a hot knife straight into his heart. He nodded at his godfather. “Sirius. Have a good morning?”
“Better than others. You?” he asked, though his tone was quite clear he wasn’t ready for a heart-to-heart. “I should see about some tea and breakfast. Come on, kiddo.” He bounced Teddy on his hip, even as the near-toddler reached out his hand and cried out for Harry.
Hands going to his hair, Harry cocked his knees up, resting his elbows on them, and looked at his sister. It was strange now, to study her. They looked a lot alike. They shared James’ dark skin, nose, and mouth. Tilly had James’ eyes as well, but her hair was sleek and straight, jet-black like Harry’s but without the mess.
She looked at him with some pity. “It’ll get easier.”
“Is it the whole weird timeline thing?” Harry asked quietly. “Or is it the other Harry thing?”
“Bit of both, I reckon,” she said with a shrug. “You weren’t a very nice person before.” Stretching, she rose off the sofa, closed her book, and came round to ruffle his hair. “Frankly I think it’s cool. You’re actually speaking to me, and not insulting me. Or hexing me. Or telling me that…”
“You know,” Harry said, interrupting her, “I think I get it. And erm. Thanks, I suppose. And I still feel oddly compelled to apologise so…sorry. Again.”
Tilly rolled her eyes. “Maybe it’ll settle in later and I’ll be full of shock and what not. Or maybe it’s the Slytherin side of me that sees how we can all use this to our advantage.”
“How’s that?” Harry demanded.
Before she reached the stairs, she turned. “Well, you’re you. I mean, you’re still Harry. Same body, same kid. Same genetics and whatever. Just…not a colossal prick. And maybe we lost out a bunch of years getting to know the you who wasn’t a total shite, but I guess you lost all the years of us being alive so…mutually beneficial.” She winked, then hurried up the stairs and left Harry alone.
Half an hour later, there was movement in the doorway, and Harry saw Remus entering with two cups of tea. He gave Harry a careful look before moving to the sofa, then beckoned him over. “I’m not sure if you still take milk and honey.”
“I do,” Harry said quietly. He eased himself up off the floor and onto the sofa, leaving a cushion of space between them. He took the tea and sipped it, aware that they might have put something in it—more Veritaserum or something, but he supposed it was only fair. He didn’t expect them to trust him straight away. He certainly wouldn’t have. “Ta,” he said when he tasted the sweet, hot, milky brew.
“Of course. I guess some things don’t change over altered timelines.”
“Reckon not,” Harry said quietly. “Nature v nurture, isn’t it?”
Remus chuckled. “In a way, I suppose. Like being a Gryffindor, or a seeker.”
“Was nearly a Slytherin,” Harry said, rubbing absently at the scar which was no longer there. “I think it was called a Hat Stall.”
“Peter was that in our year,” Remus said very softly.
“I heard,” Harry muttered, the name still causing white-hot fury to twist in his gut. “He doesn’t…come round, does he?”
“Occasionally,” Remus said. He looked at Harry for a long moment. “He’s not the Peter that betrayed your parents, you know.”
“Isn’t he, though?” Harry asked. “He’s the Peter who never had reason to, but he’s still the same man who might’ve. I’m just not sure I could see him and not see the man who…” He stopped and swallowed thickly. “Maybe in time it’ll get easier. Just like Sirius not hating me.”
“He doesn’t,” Remus began, then sighed. “It’s not hate, Harry. I think Sirius had expectations of what your relationship with him would be like. The person you might have become, and you weren’t that. And now…you are a bit, and it’s confusing. A little frightening.”
Harry nodded. “I get it. Believe me I get it. It’s just…he was my only family. And even then I only had him two years before he was taken away from me again. I swear, Remus, I have never ever felt pain like that in my life. I was screaming and you were holding me back so I didn’t go after him. You just kept repeating, He’s gone, he’s gone. And I…” Harry took in a shaking breath. “I couldn’t accept it straight away. I kept thinking I’d just turn the corner and he’d be there, ready to fulfil his promise to take me away from the Dursleys and we’d be a proper family and everything. Now he’s here, he’s back and I can’t…he won’t even look at me.”
Remus’ face was drawn with pity, and he shook his head. “Just give him time.”
“If I have it,” Harry said. “We don’t know anything about the spell Hermione used, and it could all revert tomorrow. I could go back to…all that.” Harry bit down on his lip. “You’re gone, and Tonks. And Sirius and my mum and dad. Regulus, even. I’m not sure how I could live with that again, after all this.”
Remus reached over, giving Harry’s knee a squeeze. “Maybe you ought to at least try and enjoy it, then.”
Harry looked at him, then chanced a smile. “Yeah, I could do that.”
“You could go to work.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Oh Merlin I dunno. It’s been so long since I’ve been on the pitch. I reckon I’d embarrass myself worse than I had even as a drunk.”
“I very much doubt that,” Remus said carefully, then sat back and grinned. “If there’s anything in your blood, Harry, it’s Quidditch.”
Harry didn’t know what possessed him to show up at the practise pitch, but there he was, in the locker room, changing into his kit. The others were there too, Harry recognising almost none of them until Diggory walked in, and he gapped at Harry.
“I cannot believe you showed.”
Harry swallowed. “Er. Sorry. I’ve been off but…”
“You sober?” he demanded, looking right into Harry’s eyes.
“Stone sober,” Harry vowed. “Not a drop in days.”
Cedric looked round, then shooed everyone off to the pitch before he went to the broom cupboard and pulled out what Harry assumed to be their practise brooms. He flung Harry’s over, and shook his head. “Coach isn’t going to go easy on you, I hope you realise this. I hope you’re ready for the worst drills of your life.”
Harry took in a shaking breath as he affixed his safety kit, then grabbed the broom with a gloved hand. “I am.” And he was surprised to hear how much he meant it.
For what it was worth, the practise wasn’t as much of a disaster as it might have been. The coach blamed Harry’s foggy memory of their plays on his alcohol problem, but seemed to believe Harry enough that he’d had a change of heart and wanted this. Harry caught the snitch several times—surprised to realise how right Remus had been. It was in his blood. It came back like it had been just yesterday he was on the Hogwarts Pitch commanding his own team.
And he was only reserve, so he wouldn’t even be needed for a game unless their own Seeker was injured. By the time they were done, Diggory was patting him on the back, looking vaguely suspicious, but impressed.
“I can’t believe that. I haven’t seen you fly like that since your fourth year.”
Harry flushed, but shrugged the praise off. “Realised what a twat I’ve been,” he said, hoping none of his teammates would look too deeply into a behaviour change. He reckoned if he was going to keep up this life and get everyone used to the Harry who wasn’t such a colossal prick, he should ease them into it. But he had no idea how he was meant to act. “And anyway, the money could be good if I get my head out of my arse and actually do something.”
“Right. Because Harry Potter has had to worry about money,” Diggory said with a snort, then led the way to the locker room where he froze. “You’re not…you haven’t been making bets, have you?” he asked quietly. “If you’re in some sort of trouble I…”
“No,” Harry said in a rush. “No it’s not that. I’d just rather not live off my parents’ galleons my entire life. Why bother with all this shite if I’m not going to actually follow through.”
“Well I thought you said the kit got you cock. That’s what you were going on about last time we had a drink,” Diggory said with a grin as he shrugged on his casual robes.
Harry rolled his eyes and looked away. “Yeah well. Can’t be all about cock, can it?”
“Who the hell are you, and what have you done with Harry Potter?”
Harry whipped round, terrified for a second, then he realised Diggory was joking. “Yeah mate, whatever.”
Diggory grinned, then tipped him a wave and headed out.
Harry took his time getting ready, and just before he was heading out, an unfamiliar man poked his head round the corner. “Potter. Owl for you.”
Harry frowned, grabbing his rucksack and went out into the entrance hall. A short, tawny owl was sat there with a letter on its leg, and Harry tugged it off. He gave the owl a quick stroke before it fluffed its feathers and headed off. The parchment was short, and Ron’s familiar scrawl shone up at him.
Three Broomsticks. Tomorrow. Lunch. Sources have both Krums meeting some Quidditch delegation. George says to meet for pints tonight. The local by the shop. I’ve filled him and Fred in.
Harry felt a wave of panic. The more people who knew, the more it could get out of hand. But he trusted the Weasleys, and he had a feeling in this Universe they were as much his allies as they’d ever been. Maybe even more now that he was less of a twat.
Either way, he decided he’d meet up. Four heads were better than two when it came to sorting this problem. He decided to head back to his, instead of his parents’, to get a change of clothes and have a few moments to himself. Sirius and Remus had decided to stay on with James, for moral support though Harry knew it was more Sirius being concerned for everyone’s safety than support. But he decided not to let himself be too insulted.
It did mean, however, he had very little time to think to himself, and right now he needed it. Once he found Hermione, he could move on. If she knew, she’d give him the answers and he’d figure out what to do. He’d know if he could settle in, or if this was temporary.
He grabbed the practise and game timetable, then went to the building’s floo, and head out.
Tumbling onto his own lounge floor, Harry banished the soot, and went for the shower. The water was instantly hot, and scrubbing away the dirt and sweat from practise, he let his mind wander. Time was supposed to be a fluid thing, yes, but the only experience he had with this, it was an infinite loop. He had gone back in time to save Sirius, but even before that, the future events had occurred.
He’d seen himself casting a patronus. Even when they thought Buckbeak was dead—he hadn’t been. It had all been planned.
This, however, had altered every single event from the moment Voldemort had been killed by the Unspeakables. Which meant those who went back in time to do the deed, had gone to a different future. And if the future was different, how would a team exist to be sent back in time to stop the former events from unfolding.
The concept was giving Harry a migraine, and he decided he’d at least attempt to wait for some answers. Which would be tomorrow. He’d see Hermione and Viktor Krum.
The idea of it still made him grin to himself. He wished desperately he’d been friendly with this Hermione, because he would love nothing more than to sit with her and ask her how it all came to be.
Towelling off, Harry slipped into casual clothes, and flopped down on his sofa. He had a few hours before he’d meet them at the joke shop, and he could get a quick kip in before that.
Harry stumbled into the Twins’ office, and found George at the desk talking to a bright red dicta-quill. He was putting in a supply requisition, and held up a hand the moment he heard the floo roar. Harry stayed silent until it was over, though he came to sit near the desk.
“Harry?” George asked, as he shoved the quill back into his desk.
“It’s me,” Harry said. He stared at George again, unable to help himself. “So Ron erm…told me he filled you and Fred in.”
“Yeah. I have to say it sounds like a load of rubbish, and frankly I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t had ten words with you before that.”
Harry swallowed. “Right. I’m erm. Sorry, that it’s all a bit shite right now. I’m sure you miss your Harry and…”
“You know not many are crying over his loss, right?” George said, folding his hands on the top of the desk. “In your…whatever it is, would people be crying over the loss of a tosser like Malfoy? If he’d suddenly come back without being a complete arse?”
Harry snorted. “Reckon not many. Maybe his mum.”
George grinned. “And if we’re telling the truth, I haven’t had anything this interesting happen in ages. Not since school, anyway. So I’m not about to turn my nose up at it.”
Harry laughed. “Fair. So we can chat about it over drinks?”
George got up, then held his hand out for Harry who rose and let George take his arm. They headed for the door, and started down the steps. “Ron says I’m not blind in your you know…whatever it is.”
Harry felt his face go hot. “Well. No. You’re not. But you’re missing an ear and Fred isn’t alive.”
George stilled, going stiff all over. “What?”
“Ron didn’t give you that bit, I take it?”
George tightened his grip on Harry. “You’re taking the piss, right? He’s not…we didn’t…”
“It was a war,” Harry said very quietly. “A lot of people died. A lot. Bill got mauled by a werewolf, Fred died. Along with Sirius and Remus, and Tonks. More students than I want to think about, really.”
“So you’re saying me being blind is in sacrifice of having my brother alive and well?” George asked.
Harry frowned as they took another step down, then stopped again. “I suppose you could think of it like that.”
“Then I’ll take it. Meeting Krum’s wife…is this a way to try and get back to your old whatever? Timeline?”
Harry shook his head, then realised his mistake and cleared his throat. “No I mean. I dunno. I just was hoping for answers. I don’t know if this is all temporary or how she made it work. I just want answers. I want to be prepared. I don’t want to wake up again in a totally different world.”
George relaxed again, just slightly. “Alright. I suppose that’s alright.”
Harry sighed. “Mate, trust me, I wouldn’t subject you to anything like I’ve been through willingly. I swear it.”
Harry got back to his parents’ late, trying to Apparate and pleased when he was successful. He used an unlocking charm on the door, and when he stepped in, he saw Sirius on the sofa with a sleeping Teddy cradled against his chest. Harry could remember too many nights he’d spent with Teddy like that, and knowing Teddy had his parents there now to do it for him, warmed him to the core.
And filled him with an irrational jealousy.
He gave Sirius a tentative smile, and after a moment, Sirius sighed and nodded to the space next to him. “He won’t wake up.”
Harry laughed. “I know. Past tea and he’s dead to the world if someone’s holding him.” When Sirius gave him a curious look, Harry shrugged. “I have him a lot. In my time, you know, Andromeda’s got him but she’s tired a lot. So he’s over at mine.”
“Why?” Sirius asked, running his fingers along Teddy’s curls.
“Because I’m his godfather.” When Sirius gave him a startled look, Harry shrugged. “I was the only one left, I reckon. Remus asked me just after he was born. I didn’t want him to grow up like I had.”
Sirius looked down at the boy’s sleeping profile, then back up at Harry. “Reckon I’ve been a bit harder on you than I should have. But you have to understand this whole thing is difficult to swallow.”
Harry laughed quietly, leaning his head back against a cushion. “Tell me about it. I’m a little surprised my parents, of all people, are reacting so well.”
Sirius grinned. “Jamie was always…well he took things in stride. He could always pretend with the best of them, you know? Like the way he pretended that you…other you…fuck this is weird,” Sirius growled. “His Harry,” he amended, “didn’t break his heart every time he looked at James and sneered at him. No one expected him to turn out like that.”
“I still don’t fully understand it,” Harry admitted. “How he could be…I could be… I mean, was it always?”
“Not always,” Sirius said with a careful sigh. “But James supposes he let you…Harry…get away with too much. His parents spoilt him, but he was afraid with Lily walking away and the questions the lot of you would get because of Regulus…” Sirius shook his head. “And I think some people just are naturally bound to turn out…like that.”
“Prone to the misguided belief that name and blood status and money make you superior. Even above those you would consider family.”
Harry stared, and then suddenly he heard all the words everyone else wasn’t saying. “Lily. And Remus.”
Sirius looked away, his jaw going tight.
“She was a muggleborn. He was embarrassed. And Remus is…”
“A werewolf,” Sirius said. “No matter he was once Uncle Moony.”
Harry felt his gut clench hot and thick. “How can he…”
“This horrible woman at the Ministry started passing laws,” Sirius said. “Anti-werewolf laws, and Harry started bringing home propaganda, hanging political posters on the walls, trying to talk James and Regulus into voting these laws into effect. Asking to not be round when Remus came by.”
Harry bit down on his lower lip. Hard. “Umbridge,” he said after a long moment. His hand went absently to the other, the scars that weren’t there anymore, but he could still feel the piercing sting as though they were.
“You knew her?”
“She was a professor for a year. Defence Against the Dark Arts,” Harry said. “The year after Diggory was murdered and Voldemort returned.” He wasn’t sure how much of this he’d revealed during his interview, but Sirius wasn’t looking away from him now. “She hated muggleborns and part-humans. She went after Hagrid first. She was the reason Moony was in hiding that year. I had a few detentions with her.”
Sirius gave him a sharp look. “I bet that ended well.”
Harry let out a small, bitter laugh. “In the end, I suppose. She was attacked by Centaurs.”
Sirius stared, then barked a laugh which startled Teddy, who pulled a crying face before settling back down. “Good.”
Harry shrugged. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry. On behalf of the person I might have been if Voldemort hadn’t murdered my parents.”
“Harry,” Sirius said, his voice sounding softer than it had since Harry had got there.
“No,” Harry said, shaking his head. “In theory, I am that Harry. The reason I’m not the bastard you’re used to is because I suffered tragedy after tragedy. I used to wonder why, you know? Why was it like that for me? And now I’m starting to wonder if maybe it was for the greater good. Everything I went through.”
“I wouldn’t wish that on anyone,” Sirius said. “Not even my parents.”
Harry shrugged. “Well, it is what it is, I suppose. I just…I’m also sorry I had unrealistic expectations about you. I can’t expect everyone to just accept me. And I’m trying to see it from everyone else’s point of view. It was just…you were my only family. My only link to my parents and the only hope I had. And that got taken away from me, too. In the end.”
Sirius’ face fell a bit, and he swallowed thickly. “I’ll try to do better. I’m still your godfather, after all.”
Harry gave him a smile. “We should take it slow. I should get some answers before we jump into anything. But for what it’s worth, whatever time we do have right now, I’m grateful for it.”
Sirius was silent for a while, then reached over with his free hand and gave Harry’s knee a pat. “You should get some sleep. Your dad’s on an overnight assignment right now, and he’ll probably want to have breakfast with you in the morning before he turns in.”
Harry nodded and rose, then gave Sirius another look. “Thanks, Sirius. For everything. Even the things you don’t remember. I think maybe I always wanted to say that.”
Sirius said nothing, but Harry didn’t miss a slight glimmer in the corners of his eyes as he walked to the stairs, turning in for the night.
Gasping for breath, Harry was running. Running. Curses were flying. There was blood everywhere. Someone was screaming. Ron? Hermione? Ginny?
He tried to lift his wand but his arm refused to obey him. Something had him, dropping him, pinning him to the soft earth. There was a breath across his face, icy and smelling of death. A wand pressed to his temple, then a high-pitched laugh as the curse fell.
In the bedroom, Harry was screaming in his bed, back arched like he was being tortured. His magic was going haywire, things flying and shattering. His bedroom door stood open and Sirius was holding Tilly and Regulus back who were staring at the scene.
Harry’s face was covered in sweat, his hands grasping at the sheets as he begged. “No, please stop no. Please. Pleaseeee.”
Finally Regulus broke away from Sirius’ grasp. “Let me through!”
“You’re going to get hurt!” Sirius cried, and grabbed him again.
“I don’t care,” Regulus barked, tugging at his arm. “I’m his father.”
“That is not your son.”
Regulus turned narrow, angry eyes on his brother. “Yes, it is. That is my son and he is suffering. Let me go.” He broke away, and dodged several flying books, and an exploding mirror as he rushed to the bed and knelt down. One hand reached down and pressed against Harry’s clammy brow. “Harry. Harry come on. Wake up. Wake up, it’s okay. You’re home,” he muttered like a chant in Harry’s ear.
There was a crack, and a massive spiderweb crack appeared in the window, though the glass didn’t fall.
Then Harry’s eyes flew open. He scrambled back with a gasp, his hands flying to his face to shield himself as he cried out. Regulus reached out, grabbing Harry by the wrists, and held him fast.
“Harry, it’s alright. You’re home.”
Suddenly the levitated books and chairs fell to the floor with a loud thud, and Harry’s breath began to even out. He drew his hands down carefully, and surveyed the damage.
“Shit,” he muttered. “Shit. I’m so sorry. That hasn’t happened in months. I’m so…”
Regulus swiped his hand across Harry’s cheeks, clearing up the tear tracks. “You’re alright. Come on.” He eased himself up, and to Harry’s surprise, pulled the younger man into a hug. Harry stiffened at first, but the raw, parental comfort was overwhelming. Something he had experienced so little of, and he couldn’t help but give into it.
A sob lodged in his throat, and he was grateful it didn’t escape as he buried his face against his other father’s shoulder, and let the panic from the dream slowly ebb away. His hands were shaking, but he was calmer when Regulus finally pulled away. He put his hands on Harry’s shoulders, keeping his gaze firmly.
“Are you alright?”
Harry bit his lip, then nodded. “I really am sorry. I can put all this right. It’s…these dreams happen sometimes and I can’t control it. But I…”
“Come on,” Regulus said, and he stood up. The audience in the doorway had gone back to their rooms, so Harry rose and let Regulus lead him down to the kitchen.
With a flick of his fingers, he started the kettle, and then pointed Harry to a chair. Harry obeyed, and before long, he had a cup of hot, sweet mint tea in front of him, and a plate of biscuits. It was pointless to touch them, his stomach was roiling, but sipping the tea was soothing, and he felt his body start to unclench.
“Do you want to talk about it?” Regulus asked quietly.
Harry thumbed the warm rim of his mug. “I…it’s. It’s nothing.”
“That wasn’t nothing, Harry James,” Regulus said in a stern voice. “That was you absolutely bloody petrified and your magic going out of control out of fear.”
Harry ran a trembling hand down his face. “It’s…I saw this medi-witch a few months after the war ended, because it was like this every night. All of Ron’s things were shattered. We spent most of our morning doing repairing charms, you know? She said it was post traumatic stress. I was reliving some of the worst bits of my experiences in my dreams.” When Regulus continued to stare, he shrugged. “Mostly the Cruciatus Curse. Sometimes it’s trying to save people from the Killing Curse, but those stopped after a few months. The torture though…”
Regulus’ knuckles went white round his own mug, and he stared boldly at his son. “You were tortured with unforgivables?”
Harry nodded. “In my fourth year. That was the first time. When he—Voldemort—killed Cedric. He wanted to kill me in front of the Death Eaters, to prove he was more powerful than me. So he insisted we duel.”
“You were fourteen,” Regulus whispered.
Harry turned his face away, shrugging. “Yeah. I didn’t really know a tonne of hexes back then. Disarming spells, things like that. He tortured me a couple of times, and then I got away.”
Regulus’ hand twitched, then he reached out, but before he made contact he pulled back. “Harry I…”
“It’s alright,” Harry said in a rush. “It…I mean in the end, I beat him. He died. I lived.”
“That doesn’t make it alright,” Regulus said fiercely. “That’s not…it isn’t…”
“No,” Harry admitted. “I mean would I prefer not to have lived through it? Sure, who wouldn’t? But the point is I survived. The medi-witch said it might not ever go away, not completely. But it gets better. It has been better.”
Regulus took a breath, then nodded and finally did reach out, closing his hand round Harry’s arm. “Dreamless sleep. Does that help?”
“Have you got any?” Harry asked with a small laugh.
Regulus nodded, then got up and left the room, returning a few minutes later with a small phial. “Half a dose. Remus uses it after the full moons. I meant to brew up more since we were running low.”
“Oh,” Harry said, and fingered the phial. “Moony’s going to need this. I’ll be alright, I swear. I don’t…” He tried to hand it back.
“It won’t take me long. I’ll have more before the next moon,” Regulus said, pressing it back into Harry’s hand. “Remus insists, anyway.”
Harry looked down, then nodded and tipped it down his throat. The effects, as they always were, were immediate. He felt like he was floating, and everything became soft and peaceful. He didn’t mind the arm round his waist guiding him back up the stairs, and if anything there was a small comfort being tucked into his bed tightly, by a parent. A kiss pressed to his forehead, and the lamp going off.
Just before his eyes closed, he let himself appreciate this little thing. Such a small comfort, but it meant so much.
I feel like I should explain a couple of things--the timeline was changed, so Harry's not in an alternate Universe. The "other" Harry and "war" Harry are the exact same person. "Other" Harry's memories were written-over by the spell, but they are the exact same person. There's not like an "other" Harry floating round in some universe somewhere. There is no sinister reason for "other" Harry being a bigot. It's just something that happened as he grew up. He was raised well, his parents loved him. Sometimes people are just shite.
Harry didn’t wake until late the next morning, his stomach churning, body feeling ravaged by the violent nightmare. It had been a long, long time since it had been bad enough for uncontrolled magic, and everything in him ached. Scrubbing where his scar would have been, he flung his legs over the side of the bed and rose, wincing at the ache in his bones.
It used to be a running joke between himself and his friends—the way they walked round like they were ninety years older than they really were. Ron with the scars from the Department of Mysteries, Hermione with a hex to the hip that never properly healed. And Harry with…well. Everything he’d gone through.
Now he was in a body that hadn’t been ravaged by war and survival, but the memories were enough to drag him back to that old, familiar ache. Instead of heading down, Harry began to roam round the room, glancing at all the things he should have remembered—but didn’t. He ran his fingers over a couple of the old Hogwarts photos, passing by a bookshelf crammed with old tomes that no one had bothered to get rid of. He had several Potions books, which meant maybe he hadn’t been as rubbish this time round. Or at the very least, hadn’t had Snape as a professor.
He was just flicking through another, old photo album when there was a soft knock on the door, and a bleary-eyed James Potter poked his head round. “Alright, Harry?”
Harry pushed the album onto the cluttered desk and took a few steps closer to his dad. “Yeah. I er…assume you heard about last night.” The evidence of the magic had been all-but repaired, though there were a few things still in disarray.
“Sirius and Regulus explained it to me,” James said, walking fully into the room. He sighed, then sat down on the edge of Harry’s bed. “Does that happen a lot?”
“It used to,” Harry said, pulling out the desk chair and lowering himself onto the edge of it. “It’s been a while since it was that bad though, I’m not sure what triggered it.”
“Are they dreams or…?”
Harry shrugged. “It’s a mixture of dreams and memories,” Harry said. “The medi-witch I was seeing said that it’s my subconscious trying to work through all the trauma, so it’ll mix together fantasy and reality. Sort of…make me deal with my fears. Things that could have been, things that were almost. Things that did happen but my mind didn’t want to deal with.”
“Like losing people,” James put in.
Harry nodded, feeling his throat go a bit thick. “Cedric, mostly. Because I was right there and I asked him to…” He stopped and took a breath, remind himself Cedric was very much alive now. “Well him. And Sirius. Sirius died because of me. I was reckless, made a mistake. He came after me and it all went to hell.”
“He’s not dead,” James reminded him, and Harry gave him a weak smile.
“I know. I know he’s not. He’s right down the hall and I could go over there right now and touch his shoulder and remind myself he isn’t gone. But…” Harry hesitated for a second. “But it wasn’t less real for me. It’s why I want to find Hermione, see if we can work out why she left me with…with everything. All of this.”
“Do you think,” James said slowly, “she might have wanted you to retain the memories as a gift? To better appreciate having everyone alive and well?”
Harry scrubbed at his face and glanced round for his glasses, but didn’t get up for them. “Suppose that could be it. But it leaves a serious question of morality. Because I wake up in your son’s body—in his life, but with my memories. So you’re missing a child and I’m still…” Harry trailed off and shrugged. “Suffering.”
James’ face flinched a little, and he curled his fists over his knees tightly. “I’ve been talking this over a lot and we’re not so sure it’s a good idea you pursue that Granger girl.”
Harry lifted a brow. “Wh…why not?”
“If you do, if this spell breaks and you go back to that,” James said slowly.
Harry shook his head. “I swore I wouldn’t change the time again without everyone’s consent. I can’t sit here with you all alive and have the power to erase all of that.”
“I’m not worried about us,” James said. “I’m worried about you. You’re still my son, Harry. I cannot, in good conscience, send you back to a timeline where you suffered like that. Your entire life.”
Harry took a breath. “I should at least speak with her. I should at least ask.”
James looked a bit dubious, but nodded his head. “You’re an adult, and I can’t stop you. But if you think we want you to go…”
“Even though it robs you of the son you raised?” Harry challenged.
James looked at him for a long time. “You are that boy, though. Time changed. This isn’t another world. It’s your memories and experiences that took over. You don’t bear the body of a war hero, right?”
Harry swiped over his smooth forehead, then shook his head. “Reckon I don’t.”
“So maybe the solution is something different. More…middle ground,” James said. “We just need to figure out how to crack her spell. Whatever’s on that locket could be the key.”
Harry nodded, then shrugged. “Well here’s hoping she knows something.” With that, he got up, and decided to start his day.
He had practise early that afternoon, and ignored the look of shock on his teammates faces when he arrived on time. He dressed, then headed out to the pitch to work on formations with the others. He was given leave a bit earlier, along with the other reserve players, and he stepped into a shower stall to wash off before he headed to find Ron.
Just as he poured a dollop of soap into his hair, he heard the squeaking of the door behind him. He spun, but there was nothing there. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw something. Like the heat shimmering on pavement, but it was against the wall. Harry lifted, his hand, prepared to fight, when something grabbed him and shoved him back.
He tried to cry out, but it was swallowed by an invisible mouth, and then there was a low chuckle as he realised someone was there, under a Dissillusionment charm. “You bastard,” he hissed, realising whose mouth that belonged to. “Malfoy, what the hell are you doing here?”
The charm shook off, and Draco stood there, as wet and naked as Harry was. His cock was erect, leaking at the tip, and pressed against Harry’s damp, soapy thigh. “You keep ignoring me, you’re never home. How the fuck is this arrangement going to work, Potter, if you’re not here when I want to get off?”
Harry wanted to protest, but Draco’s hands were drawing lines up and down his ribs. Harrys’ gaze was fixed on Draco’s erection, and a mad thought filled his head. What if he just…dropped to his knees and took it? The way Draco had done on him? He licked his lips, confused by the hunger it stirred in him, and he found his hands pushing at Malfoy, reversing their positions. Draco’s eyes immediately went wide, pupils dilated with desire as Harry sank to his knees and fisted the base of his cock in a firm hand.
“Fuck. Potter,” he groaned.
“Shut up,” Harry said. “Someone will hear.”
“Silencing charm,” Draco pointed out, as he thrust his hips almost involuntarily toward Harry’s mouth.
Then, Harry wasted no time. He hoped that this body he occupied had enough muscle memory to remember what to do. Imagining things like this late at night, in a Hogwarts dorm, was nothing compared to the real thing. He got a bit ahead of himself at first, taking too much, too fast. But Draco’s fingers—uncharacteristically kind and patient—wound into his hair and guided him.
“Suck. Suck me harder,” Draco whispered, easing Harry’s head back and forth in the rhythm he wanted.
Harry was desperate for some friction, and with his free hand reached down to cup his own erection as he did as Draco instructed. It was uncomfortable, but oddly better than he had ever, ever imagined. And when Draco’s head fell back against the cool tiles and he let out an obscene groan, coming all over Harry’s tongue, Harry lost it as well.
He felt his own, hot spunk on his knuckles even as he swallowed all of Draco down. Panting, he was eased up and kissed, the gesture again, oddly soft for Malfoy. His slender fingers cupped Harry’s cheeks as he drew it out and out, tongues sliding together.
When it was over, Draco gave Harry’s cheek a firm pat, and there was a light in his eyes Harry hadn’t seen before. “That was certainly something, Potter.”
Harry shrugged. “Thought that’s what you came here for.”
“I was just expending to bend you over and have a go at that arse of yours,” Draco gave it a light smack, “but this was rather delightful. I think I’ll sneak in on you during your showers more often.”
“No,” Harry said, but he didn’t pull away, though his mind was telling him cuddling like this was very out of character. “Not a good idea.”
“Then start sleeping at your flat again. Or sleep at mine if that’s what it’ll take. I’m not about to have a dry spell if we have an arrangement.”
There was that word again, and it made Harry’s insides twist and feel rotten. An arrangement. That wasn’t what he wanted. Not the person he was now, anyway, and he wasn’t about to tell that to Malfoy who would laugh himself stupid, then take the piss and probably stop shagging Harry after that.
There was no room for feelings here.
Well shagged and almost sleepy, Harry sent an owl off to Ron, and they agreed to meet at the Three Broomsticks where Hermione and Krum would be for their short stay in London. Harry was all nerves, desperate to see a flicker of recognition in his old friend’s eyes. He wasn’t sure he wanted to live in a world where Hermione Granger wasn’t his best friend.
And in this one, they were no more than old school rivals.
The Broomsticks was the same as it had been in any timeline, full of witches and wizards, and crowded as the summer was waning on and Hogwarts letters were starting to get delivered. He caught a glimpse of a few unfamiliar faces in the crowds wearing Hogwarts Teaching Robes, and he realised this was also a Universe where the Defence Post hadn’t been cursed, and where none of the professors had been murdered.
It likely meant Dumbledore was alive.
And apart from that also likely meant he didn’t have the same relationship with the Headmaster as he had in his own timeline. It was a resource he realised he’d been counting on in the back of his mind, that he probably didn’t have. If this Harry had been such a bigot, there was a good chance Dumbledore wasn’t fond of him at all.
And, to top it off, Dumbledore would likely be so offended by the shift in timeline, he might force Harry to go back. Presently, that was the very last thing he wanted.
“Feeling morose?” came a voice at his ear, making Harry nearly jump out of his skin. He turned to see George stood there, holding tight to his white cane, wearing a grin of absolute mischief.
“No,” Harry said, a bit more roughly than he intended. “Just thinking.”
George snorted. “I can’t imagine you in any timeline has been any good at that.” His hand snuck out, curling round Harry’s arm just above the elbow. “Come on, be a guide. It’ll give you something to do. So you won’t look so dodgy skulking round the entrance like this.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “And where are your brothers?”
“Delayed,” George said. “They sent me along to make sure you weren’t alone. I don’t think either of them trust you won’t still have some of this Harry’s instincts and go straight for the hexes.”
Harry couldn’t imagine himself ever hexing Hermione for fun, in any universe or any timeline. But then again, he hadn’t managed a lot of things that had apparently, with one shift in time, come to pass. With a small breath and a nod, he started forward. “Alright. So do you have any ideas on how to approach her?”
George barked a laugh. “Mate, it’s not like I was friendly with the Queen Ravenclaw of your year who was always sodding taking house points for everything Fred and I got up to.”
Harry couldn’t help a small grin. Not much had changed in that area, which he was grateful for. “Was there ever an Umbridge teaching at Hogwarts?”
George pulled a face as they walked inside, Harry scanning for both Hermione and an empty table. There was only the latter, presently. “That anti-werewolf bitch from the Ministry? Merlin, no. Doubt old Dumbly would have let her near the hall of that school.”
“Well in my timeline, he did,” Harry said as he and George headed to a tall table with three chairs. “And the pair of you decided you’d had enough of her, and turned the entire corridor to the Great Hall into a swamp.”
George beamed as he eased himself up, onto the chair, folding his cane and banging it at the edge of the table. “A swamp? Really? That sounds fairly brilliant.”
“It was. Flitwick was so impressed, he left a corner of the corridor dedicated to the pair of you. That was when you and George decided to leave and open up the shop.”
“We didn’t stay on for NEWTs?” George asked, his brows going up high.
“No, you didn’t think it was necessary. Wasn’t really, the shop even when the Death Eaters took over Diagon Alley, did really well.”
George pouted, putting his chin in his hand, elbow resting on the table. “Lucky sods.”
Harry snorted. “Well then Fred died, mate, so I wouldn’t count it as entirely lucky.”
“Yeah, reckon I’d take NEWTs all over again to avoid that,” George said, somewhat darkly. “Anyway, you see your little contact anywhere? Or that lovely seeker. Ron’s going to be beside himself if we meet Krum and he’s not got the chance to get an autograph.”
Harry chuckled. “Nah, not here yet. You want me to order you a pint?”
“Firewhiskey, actually,” George said, sounding suddenly a bit sad.
Harry frowned. “I…alright.” He didn’t ask about it, but instead jumped off the chair and went to the counter to order. He got himself a butterbeer, figuring keeping a clear head about himself was better than giving in to his desire to dull the frustration of the situation. And as much as some social lubricant would be nice with this Hermione—assuming she wasn’t the old Hermione—it likely wouldn’t do him any favours. Especially if he was a widely known drunk.
Grabbing the drinks, Harry went back to the table and slid the whiskey in front of George, touching his knuckles with the glass before he turned his hand and grabbed it. “Thanks, mate.”
“Did I do something wrong?” Harry asked as he pulled himself up onto the chair again.
George shook his head, then stopped and sighed. “Reckon sometimes it’s hard to remember you’re not our Harry. Or well…fuck mate I don’t even know how to wrap my mind round it.”
“Tell me about it,” Harry said miserably, taking a long drink. “I don’t know how to process this. Everyone seems bloody-well happy to get rid of whomever I was before which doesn’t make me feel great. You’d think some version of me in some timeline would be missed by someone.”
George’s face softened. “You were a right git, that’s for sure. And not a lot of people miss it. Your parents especially, I think, after the hell you gave them over Lupin. But you—he—whatever…he wasn’t all bad.”
Harry looked at him a long time. “Reckon there’d have to be something beyond sexual prowess if you really did fancy him.”
George’s face went a bit sad. “He could be really kind when he wanted to be. Rare occasions. He had potential. I think all the potential that everyone’s seeing in you.”
“So what was it?” Harry probed, desperate to find out what it was in his past that made him such a git. “My parents seem alright, and it can’t really be bitterness over having a muggleborn mum.”
“That was only part of it,” George said. “You lived up to a rather fantastic reputation created by James. Professors expected a lot, and you delivered. Your natural talent is uncommon. You know that phrase, bought into your own hype?”
Harry sighed into his drink. “Unfortunately.”
“Well I think that’s what it was, to tell the truth.” George ran his fingers round the rim of his whiskey glass, then picked it up and took a small drink. “There were moments when it was just the two of us that I thought maybe we could make a proper go of things, once you got your head out of your arse. But it never happened.”
“Making a proper go?”
“You getting your head out of your arse,” George said with a laugh. “You just got angrier, and drank more, and fucked off and made sure no one liked you. By the end even Ron stopped coming round much.”
Harry scrubbed his hand down his face. “I wish I got it.”
“Me too. But I think sometimes things just go…wrong,” George said with a shrug. “I don’t know if there is an explanation for it.”
Harry stared at him for a while, trying to understand this concept. He’d come from a place where everything—absolutely everything—had a source. A reason. A battle, really. It was hard to imagine a life growing up where none of that hung over any of their heads. They’d been allowed to just exist and develop into the people they were meant to be.
And Harry felt a bit ill at the thought. That had he just been allowed to exist, he might have been…
Before he could ponder more, there was a slight commotion at the door as it swung open, and Viktor Krum walked in with Hermione at his side. They were trailed by a familiar blonde holding an acid-green Quill, and Harry almost choked at the thought that Hermione would allow Rita Skeeter anywhere near her or anyone she loved.
But it was a different time. Perhaps Rita was less…
Either way, Harry leant forward. “Alright, she’s here.”
“You sure it’s her?”
Harry snorted. “Mate, I know this Harry hasn’t seen her since school, but she was my best friend in my timeline.” He looked over at her familiar brown hair, shorter than it had been in his timeline, but very much the same. But her dark skin, brown eyes, and wide smile was very much Hermione.
Though watching her sit next to Viktor and put her hand on his arm as he began the interview was something to behold. And it was so strange. He felt oddly protective, oddly compelled to rip Hermione away and tell her that the man she was meant to be with was absolutely and completely not the Bulgarian Seeker.
“Krum’s giving an interview to the Prophet right now, and then I reckon I can sneak over and get her attention.”
“Have you got a plan at all? I mean, you’re not plotting to just walk over and say, ‘Oy, did you fuck with time and send me here?’”
Harry blinked. “Well er. I hadn’t really thought.”
“Again, not much changed,” George said with a snort. “Tell you what, we’ll go together. I’ll be the loving boyfriend, I’ll give her some discount at the shop, for old times, school mates sake or something. Then you can see if she recognises you. That’s the real question, isn’t it? Trying to see if she recognises you. Because if she didn’t protect herself during the spell…”
“Yeah,” Harry said with a long-suffering sigh. “If she didn’t, there’s no point. She won’t have any idea about any of it.”
The plan was as good as they were going to get, and just as the interview wrapped up, Harry reached out and grabbed George’s wrist. “Alright, we should head over. She hasn’t spotted me yet, and I’ll just kind of…look her over. She was never really good at acting.”
George grabbed his cane, shoving it into the pocket of his robes before he took Harry’s arm and drew him close. “What are we hoping for, Harry? That she knows, or that she doesn’t?”
Harry licked his lips. “I dunno. I…I honestly don’t.”
“Fair enough. Come on then,” George said, and urged Harry along.
They made their way through the crowd, approaching the table which had gathered a small crowd in hopes of getting Krum’s autograph, and Harry was careful to guide George through it without getting him maimed by anything. They finally reached the table, and when Harry cleared his throat, Hermione looked up and her eyes darkened.
“Oh I could have gone my entire life without setting eyes on you again,” she said, her voice sharper than he’d ever heard it.
Harry looked into her eyes and didn’t see a scrap of the old Hermione there. She had been just as taken by the spell as everyone else. So.
That was that.
“Well well, Granger,” George said, trying to lighten the mood. “Or I hear it’s Krum now, is it?”
“For three years,” Hermione said, glancing at her husband who had only given the pair a passing glance before going back to autographs. “Is there something you need?”
“Ah no. I just…” Harry licked his lips and stared again, hoping desperately for something. A flicker. But there was nothing. “Thought we’d stop and say hi. We were just on our way out.”
“Well I assume you know where the door is,” she said, then put her arm on Krum’s, and turned away.
Harry sagged a little, feeling George almost holding him up as they made for the front, and before long, they were out in the street.
“So,” George said, drawing his cane out of his pocket and loosening his grip on Harry, “I suppose that’s it.”
“Suppose it is,” Harry said. “Reckon my dad’ll have to work on that locket himself.”
“Well if anyone can do it, he can,” George said, giving Harry’s arm a squeeze. “Come on, come back to mine tonight. Fred’ll be by later with take away. We can fuck off and put on some muggle telly and drink your sorrows away.”
Harry laughed, but gave him a nudge. “Lead the way. Honestly, after all this, I don’t think I want to face my parents right now. And with the way Sirius doesn’t trust me, I could use the holiday from being under surveillance.”
George grinned, and together they headed back for the shop.
Harry picked up the letter the owl had dropped on his table, recognising the handwriting of his dad by this point. It had been three weeks, and he was getting regular updates on James’ attempt to crack the spell on the locket. As predicted, as it had been going over the last three weeks, there was nothing new.
Harry sighed, tossing it onto the pile with the rest, and used his wand to flick on the kettle as he shucked his flying cloak and kicked off his boots. Three weeks and he wasn’t entirely used to his life, but it was getting easier. He was enjoying being on a professional Quidditch team, and he wasn’t missing the Auror department much. He had pints several times a week with Ron and the Twins, and occasionally Ginny and Luna when they were around.
He’d stopped staying with his parents, though he visited more than he didn’t, and things with Sirius were still tense, but with Remus there as a buffer, he’d calmed down a lot. Harry got to spend more time with Teddy , which helped him stay centred, and he was developing a relationship with Regulus which he had never, in any capacity, thought might happen.
The most confusing part about it all, really, was Malfoy. He was demanding and clingy, but in a way that made Harry wonder why they were together at all. Sometimes there was a kindness in his eyes, like he wanted Harry there, and other times he treated Harry like the worst inconvenience. Harry wasn’t sure what to make of it, and had started avoiding the blonde as best he could.
At this point he was considering getting into a relationship, just to have an excuse to split things off. He was half-considering George, though he didn’t share the other Harry’s attraction to him. But they got on really well, and Harry enjoyed his company quite a lot. He was fairly sure George wouldn’t turn him down if he asked, and even if it didn’t last, it might get Malfoy off his back.
Harry forced himself not to think about the ache in his gut when he thought about not sleeping with Draco anymore. He refused to put words to it like fancy, or relationship—because he did not fancy Draco Malfoy, and a relationship with him would be a bloody disaster.
It was just getting harder and harder to the feeling of wanting more every time Draco’s arms came round him. He wanted it to mean more when they kissed, when they fucked. The craving for Draco was primal, but there was something lurking underneath and he was in no position to have his heart broken whilst also trying to sort out what the hell this new timeline meant for his future. Or his past.
Just as his tea finished, an owl flew through the window, and Harry immediately recognised Draco’s. He pulled a face as the parchment dropped in front of him.
Harry stopped the owl, scribbling a quick reply.
At my parents’ tonight. Sorry. Maybe later.
The one place Draco wouldn’t show up uninvited was at the Potters’, so Harry decided he’d have to make good on his promise and went to the floo the moment the Owl soared out of the window. He hopped in, and a moment later, brushed soot off onto his dad’s hearth.
He glanced over to see Sirius and Regulus on the sofa, Teddy sleeping soundly on Sirius’ shoulder, and both of them looked only mildly surprised to see him.
“Problem?” Sirius asked.
Harry fidgeted, then shrugged. “Not especially. Erm. Can I stay here for a bit, though?”
“That sounds like a problem to me,” Sirius said, just as Regulus motioned for him to take the chair.
Harry sank into it, covering his face with his hands. “I think I’m a bit in over my head right now, and I don’t want to make any hasty decisions in case…anything changes, you know? With the locket or anything.”
Regulus looked at him for a long moment. “Would you care to elaborate?”
“I…” Harry shrugged. “I’m sleeping with Draco Malfoy.”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “Right. Of course you are.”
“Well it wasn’t my decision,” Harry defended, almost angry. “I woke up in this blasted timeline with his mouth on my cock.”
Regulus went a bit pink in the cheeks, and Harry realised maybe he didn’t entirely want to hear about his son’s sexual exploits.
“Sorry,” Harry muttered. “It’s just…I don’t want to stir things up in case things go back to the way they were or…or whatever. And that’s all well and good only it’s starting to get complicated.” When the brothers lifted an identical brow, Harry rolled his eyes, then rose and held his hands out for Teddy. Sirius hesitated before handing the boy over, and Teddy settled against Harry’s shoulder with only a small noise of protest. Harry began to pace, the toddler forcing him to keep his voice down. “I’m having trouble with all this. I’m starting to…I dunno.”
“Fancy him?” Regulus supplied with a teasing grin.
Harry scowled. “No!” He quickly lowered his voice. “No of course not. I don’t fancy Malfoy of all people. It’s just…”
“I think this might be a better conversation for your dad,” Regulus said after a pause. “I think he can sympathise and all. What with how he fell in love with me.”
Harry stared for a moment, then realised that Regulus was probably right. Even in this timeline he’d been a git at school, and it had taken time for them to get to know each other, for James to see Regulus had changed. “Is he here?”
“Working an overnight,” Sirius said. He got up, stretching his back. “On that shift through the weekend.”
Harry rubbed his hand up and down Teddy’s back. “When are Nym and Fleur back?”
“Sunday afternoon,” Sirius replied.
“Well if you want, I could have Teddy over. Take him to the zoo, do some Godfatherly—er I mean. Well.”
Sirius hesitated, then shook his head. “It’s alright. I don’t think anyone minds.”
Harry flushed, but held Teddy just a little tighter. “Anyway, you and Remus can have a date or something. And I can meet you lot here Sunday. It’ll give me a proper excuse to avoid Malfoy and Teddy always used to love weekends at mine.”
Sirius looked at Regulus who had a hopeful expression on, and then he turned back to Harry. “Alright. Let me talk to Moony about it, but it…that should be fine.”
Harry felt like several stone had been lifted from his shoulders, and he couldn’t help his brilliant grin. “Thanks, Sirius. I know you don’t trust me but…thanks.”
Sirius walked over and dropped a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “It isn’t that. It’s just a lot to get used to. But Teddy seems to love the hell out of you and who am I to ignore that?”
Harry wished he could hug Sirius, but settled for grinning, then passing the baby back. Sirius headed out with Teddy shortly after, leaving Harry and Regulus sat on the sofa with two cups of tea and the telly on silent in the background.
“Do you want to talk about it a little more?” Regulus asked. “I may not have insight the way your dad does, but I was on the other side of the problem.”
“Well,” Harry said slowly, twisting his mug in his hands, “I think the problem is, you wanted to be a better person. I don’t think Malfoy does. Everyone who knows about us tells me we’re together because we shared the same, purist values. Which clearly I don’t anymore. And I’m not exactly keen on being with someone like that.”
Regulus hummed. “Are you certain, though, that he’s not interested in change?”
Harry shrugged. “Thing of it is, I don’t know him. We don’t exactly spend a lot of time having deep, meaningful conversations.”
“Try shaking things up,” Regulus said, smiling at Harry. “That’s what your dad did with me. He was unpredictable and he made me work to want him. It made me question everything. Of course I’d already made the decision that I wanted to be different than the way I was raised but…at the very least it could show you what Draco wants.”
Harry sighed, then nodded. “I suppose it’s something. Because at this point, I don’t know what else to do.”
It gets a little worse before it gets better. But I can tell you in the next chapter there's a surprise from Draco, and another visit from Hermione Krum.
Chapter TW: mentions/description of mild panic attack.
Harry Apparated just outside the front door of his parents’ place, and grabbed the handle. It was unlocked, and he let himself in. It was Friday evening, and he was meant to be picking up Teddy from Remus and Sirius for the weekend. There would be lunch on Sunday, when Tonks and Fleur would be back to pick up the toddler, and Harry was looking forward to seeing them—even if they were a very different couple than he’d last known them.
Stepping into the lounge, he heard voices coming from the kitchen, and headed over. Before he could make his presence known, he heard his name and froze.
“…and Harry’s doing much better. I understand your hesitation, Pads but…”
“It’s not…” Sirius’ voice sounded tense and tired. “It’s not that I don’t want to trust him. You know that’s not it. I mean, for all we’ve seen, he really is an entirely different person and well…that’s great. But part of me can’t help but worry this is some elaborate prank meant to hurt you. He’ll take Teddy, get pissed, let something awful happen to him, and the next thing we know the Ministry is swooping in saying, you see! We told you a werewolf for a parent would make bad decisions.”
Harry felt his gut clench violently, and he put his hand on the wall, bracing himself.
“You and James have both put him through every test you know. For all the magic in the world has been able to tell, he’s telling you the truth.”
“Yes well, James has always had a bit of a blind spot where Harry’s concerned,” Sirius said, sounding a bit bitter. “And you and I both know magic is fallible.”
“If you don’t want to do this…” Remus said softly.
“I do,” Sirius said. “I do, because if he’s telling the truth and he really had gone through all that…” Sirius trailed off. “Remus, how horrible is it that I’d rather my godson suffered endless tragedy so he’d be a better person?”
There was silence, and Harry decided it was time to make himself known. Shoving one hand into his pocket, he strolled in like he hadn’t heard a word. “Hey Moony. Padfoot,” he said, giving them as easy a smile as he could manage.
Teddy was in his chair at the table, and grinned upon seeing Harry, throwing his arms up. Harry walked over, and after a short nod from Remus, he swung the boy up, in a circle to his utter delight, then dropped him onto his hip. “And you Mr. How are you?”
“Want nana!” Teddy poked Harry on the nose, then pointed back at the table where he’d been eating a cut-up banana.
“Oh. Is that your sweet? Is it very delicious?”
Harry swooped Teddy down to grab a handful, then smiled up at the two men. “Are we still alright for the weekend?”
Remus looked over at Sirius, then smiled at Harry. “Absolutely. Got him all packed up, and you’ll have the mirror if anything comes up, of course. And you can check in by floo any time.”
“Same goes for you both. It’ll be on so if you want to just pop over for tea, see how he’s doing, I won’t mind.” He directed this at Sirius whose shoulders sank just a little, and he offered Harry a slightly weak smile. “But we’re going to have fun, right sproglet?”
“No!” Teddy cried, and wriggled out of Harry’s arms.
Harry lowered the toddler to the floor, and he scrambled to Remus’ leg, sitting on his shoe and grinning up at his dad. Remus laughed a little, and wriggled his foot, but didn’t pick the toddler up.
“Anything I ought to know? I mean, I know my Teddy but…”
“I think it should all be the same,” Remus said with a shrug. “No allergies, no sugar after tea, please. Reasonable bedtime.”
“Easy enough,” Harry said. “I’m shattered after practise and we have an early day at the zoo. Do you still love turtles, Teddy?”
“No,” Teddy said absently, mashing banana into Remus’ shoelaces.
Remus sighed and reached down, picking the boy up and casting a quick scourgify on his hands. Teddy wailed, his hair turning as sort of earthy green, and he pouted out his bottom lip. Sirius rolled his eyes, taking the boy and ruffling his hair.
“Promise you’ll be good for Harry.”
“Pada,” Teddy said, and put his head down on Sirius’ shoulder. Sirius looked torn, but after several moments, he offered Teddy over, who went to Harry eagerly.
“Let me get his things,” Remus said, and in a flash, was back with his travelling pack. “Swear if you need anything…”
“I will floo, or call, or use the mirror. I won’t bother with an owl. I’ll come straight to you. And I won’t risk any side-along apparition when I’ve got the sprog,” he vowed. He had a profound moment where he realised at one time he would have given literally anything to have this parental sort of conversation with either Remus or Tonks about his godson, and now he’d gotten that chance. His throat went tight, and he cleared it. “You ready? You want to take the floo?”
Remus and Sirius walked Harry and Teddy over to the fire. “I’ll tell your dads you came by already. They’ll be sorry they missed you.”
Harry leant in for a hug from Remus, then got a friendly not from Sirius which, for the moment, was enough. “I’ll see them Sunday, yeah? And you two please try to enjoy yourselves as much as you can.”
“You as well. Enjoy our little mini-cock-block. Works well, I can tell you,” Sirius said with a snort.
Remus smacked him playfully as Harry slipped into the fire, and called out for his flat. The last thing he saw was vague concern on their faces before he stumbled onto his own lounge floor, and held Teddy close. The moment the flames died down, he banished the soot and sighed, looking at the little boy’s wide, wondering eyes.
“You think they’ll ever learn to trust me?” he wondered.
Teddy gave him a solemn look before shoving one finger up his nose and shouting, “No!”
Holding Teddy on his hip, Harry huffed a little as they approached the penguin beach. His little legs kicked out, bouncing excitedly and pulling his dummy out of his mouth to point with it.
“Uhg,” Harry said, hitching him up further. “When did you get so heavy?”
“How domestic,” came a sudden voice by Harry’s ear. Harry spun almost too fast, nearly losing his balance, and his eyes fixed on the smirking face of Draco Malfoy. Who, surprisingly, was wearing muggle jeans and a collared shirt. He had his arms folded, one eyebrow cocked up.
“What the absolute fuck are you doing here?” Harry demanded.
“Fuck,” Teddy echoed.
Harry groaned. “No, Teds. No that’s a bad word, okay? Your dad already hates me enough.”
Draco snorted as Harry turned away, and to Harry’s frustration, he followed them to the edge of the glass. “Honestly, what the hell are you doing with the wolf’s offspring.”
“Don’t,” Harry said sharply, shifting Teddy over to his other hip, away from Draco. “Don’t talk about his dad like that.”
“It’s not a lie,” Draco pointed out.
“No, but it’s bigoted and disgusting and Remus is family.”
Draco leant on the edge of the exhibit, and turned to give Harry a curious look. “Since when have you cared, Potter?”
“Since now.” Harry eased Teddy down so he could press his face to the glass, watching the penguins swimming. “Since now, and I’ll thank you not to put that rubbish in his head.”
Draco looked down at the toddler. “You know he’s my cousin.”
Harry’s jaw clenched. “Yeah. I’m aware.”
“No one ever lets me see him.”
Harry stared at him, a bit gobsmacked. “You…when have you wanted to see him?”
Draco stared at Harry, but didn’t respond. Instead he turned back to the penguins, watching them run about for a while. “So is this like… a new thing you’re doing? All domesticated and babysitting? Or are you trying to avoid me?”
Harry let a slow breath out of his nose. “Both, I think. I don’t…I’m not sure we should keep sleeping together.”
He expected more of a reaction from Draco who merely glanced over. “Not adventurous enough, is it? Or have you decided to swap teams for a bit?”
“I’ve…I’m not gay,” Harry said.
Draco snorted. “I know that, you fucking ponce. Merely wanted to know if you were getting tired of this.” He waved his hand at his crotch.
“It has nothing to do with genitals, Malfoy,” Harry said in a very low tone. “I just don’t know if the whole casual sex thing is working out.”
“So what? You want a date? Is that it? You want me to wine and dine you, Potter? Buy you flowers and chocolates?”
“I…no,” Harry said in a rush. “I’m only saying I don’t think casual is working out for me.”
Draco pushed back away from the wall, then glanced at Teddy once more. “Fair enough. I suppose thank you, for letting me know.”
Harry said nothing, watching as Draco made his way into the crowd, and disappeared. Harry felt the strangest urge to go after him, to ask if that was it. If Draco was just fine with it, accepting of Harry’s decision.
But he didn’t.
Whatever the case, Draco now knew.
And it was over.
Leaning back in his chair, Harry tilted his ear toward the bedroom and listened, but it was as silent as it had been for the past hour. Teddy was fast asleep in the transfigured cot in Harry’s room, and now Harry was sat at the table with George and Ron, and several containers of half-gone curry.
“I’m stuffed,” George said, shoving the saag away. “This muggle shit doesn’t have anything on your dad’s, but it’s not bad.”
Harry, who hadn’t really had a chance to experience his dad’s curry, shrugged. “Well maybe you could come round some Sunday and he’ll cook it for you. I never asked, and they always have brunch food. But he doesn’t seem the sort to say no.”
“He isn’t,” Ron said. “Spending Diwali at yours was always the best part of school.”
“Mm, true. Probably was the only real reason we were friends,” George said, grinning over his glass of mango squash.
“Oh shut up,” Harry said even as the brothers laughed.
A quiet settled over them as the laughter died down, and Harry was again almost suffocated by the feeling in his chest he’d been trying to ignore all evening. The suffocating feeling which made him send the owl to Ron and the Twins for company, because he wasn’t sure he could bear it alone.
Harry’s jaw tensed even as Ron gave his brother a look. “You have no tact,” Ron chastised.
George spread his hands. “Well one of us had to say it. Harry blurts out he’s stopped shagging that ferrety ponce and then we just ignore it all night? Come on, mate, we only have so much self-control. You might as well tell us everything.”
Harry scrubbed his hand down his face. “There really isn’t much to tell. He found me and Ted at the zoo, and it all sort of just blurted out that I didn’t want casual sex anymore. He said alright, and then…left.”
“Just like that?” Ron asked, his eyebrows up.
Harry looked at him. “Well. Yeah. Why, is that…should I be worried?”
“It’s just not like Malfoy to be rejected and leave just like that,” Ron clarified. “Of course I haven’t had a proper conversation with him in well…ever. So maybe he’s matured?”
Harry let out a huffing laugh. “Not likely. I don’t think Malfoy in any timeline or Universe would just take something like that lying down.”
“So you expect retaliation?” George asked, now sounding a little protective.
Harry shrugged. “Dunno. I mean, he took the piss a bit, about me wanting proper dates or something. Just an off-hand comment, probably to save face.”
Before Harry could continue, there was a loud cry from the bedroom. He started to get up, but Ron caught his arm. “Nah mate, I’ll get it.”
Harry shrugged, letting Ron head down to comfort Teddy, and he leant back in his chair. “So yeah, I’ll probably get some embarrassing Howler during practise, or he’ll wait and humiliate me during my first game. Business as usual.”
“Is it?” George asked, one eyebrow cocked up. “You two weren’t the best of friends at school, but the rivalry was more…sexual tension than actual hatred for each other.”
Harry shook his head. “Wasn’t like that for me. Malfoy was…not a good person.”
“Well let’s not get carried away. Their whole family are bigoted gits but…” George shrugged. “I wouldn’t be too worried about it.” He offered Harry a small, friendly smile.
Harry stared for a moment, then leant toward the table. “George, can I ask you a question?” At that George nodded and made a go-on gesture with his hand. “Do you fancy me?”
George went still, then chuckled. “Do I fancy you?”
“I know you had a…a thing for Other Harry and well…he wasn’t a person willing to give a relationship a chance. And I feel like I owe you…”
“Hang on,” George said, holding up a hand. “Just because someone swapped out your memories and has made you a more decent person doesn’t mean I want some consolatory date, alright? You’re very much not the Harry I was keen on. And I do like you a bit better, but I’m not…this isn’t to hurt your feelings, mate, but I’m not interested.”
“So you only like them when they’re not going to give you what you want?” Harry asked, his tone teasing.
George’s cheeks pinked, but he shrugged and smiled anyway. “Something like that. Anyway, I’m rather enjoying getting to be proper friends with you. So why ruin a good thing? And honestly, I’m not interested in dating someone who is so clearly hung up on someone like Malfoy.”
“I’m not,” Harry began loudly, defensively.
“Spare me. Spare us all,” George said. “You are and you know it, and you’ll get over it in time and date someone else. It’s no worries. Besides, I have my eye on someone else presently. Figuratively speaking, of course.”
“Of course,” Harry said, grateful George was deflecting now, because he had no energy to defend his not-feelings for Malfoy. Because he absolutely did not have them.
He was glad Draco had been amicable about stopping things.
Just then, the fire roared and Harry heard someone step out of the floo. He was very much unsurprised to see Sirius there, who gave Harry and George a curious look. “There’s not alcohol in that, is there?” he asked, pointing at Harry’s own squash.
“Flat water only,” Harry said, offering it over.
Sirius hesitated, then took a drink and grimaced. “Mango. Erugh. Barbarian.”
Harry chuckled. “I was honestly expecting you earlier. And several more times.”
“Moony talked me out of it,” Sirius said, lowering himself into a chair and pulling over the small container of murgh makhani. He leant over to snatch a bit of naan, and dipped it into the orange sauce. “I’m also starving and was hoping you might have food. Your horrid parents chucked us out for the night, and Moony’s soup turned out…less than edible.”
Harry chuckled, then grabbed what was left of the curry and put the lids back on. “Take this, then. So he doesn’t waste away.”
Sirius grinned at his godson. “Thanks. How was the boy today?”
“Perfect, as usual. I might have spoilt him a bit. Bought him like nine stuffies at the zoo. He had his eye on the giant tortoise one and I couldn’t resist.”
“Well they can all stay here. He’s got too much shite at ours and I know Nym will have my bollocks if we send him there with more than he came over with.”
Harry heard the unspoken agreement that maybe, just maybe, Teddy could stay over again. His heart soared a bit, and he couldn’t stop the grin from spreading across his face. “Fair enough. Anyway he was just crying a bit, so Ron went to settle him down.”
“Getting practise, is he?” Sirius asked with a snort.
George coughed, choking on his drink. “Hell no. He and that…what was her name again? Mary? Meryl? Whatever, they’ve split up.”
Harry, who had no idea Ron had even been dating, looked over at George. “Oh. That’s a shame.”
“No, it’s really not. If you have no memory of her mate, then you’re bloody lucky. She was…” George trailed off and shuddered. “Mum’s beside herself, of course. Fred’s the only one who might be on the road to producing children. Charlie’s never leaving the dragons, no interest in any one ever—which frankly good on him. Bill’s too busy at work. Percy’s…” George trailed off again, and Harry had to wonder how close old Percy and new Percy were. “Then there’s Fred who won’t stand still for more than two minutes, and me who can’t seem to keep anyone interested. And apparently I only go after people who don’t want me.” He grinned at Harry who flushed.
Sirius looked a bit bemused, but shrugged as he put the lid back on the curry and stuffed it into the plastic take-away sack. “So you really don’t mind if I take this?”
“Not at all,” Harry said, standing up when Sirius did. “Go on, and I’ll see you both tomorrow bright and early.”
Sirius nodded, glanced down the corridor, then back up at Harry. With his free hand, he dropped it on Harry’s shoulder and squeezed. Before Harry could react, Sirius seemed to change his mind, then yanked Harry in for a short hug.
It didn’t last long, but it was enough, and Harry pulled away with a tight throat and tense smile. “I…thanks.”
Sirius nodded. “I’m trying, Harry. I promise.”
“I know,” Harry said in a near-whisper. “I know and I just…it’s alright. Thank you.”
Sirius nodded, then hurried back through the flames, leaving his godson a bit stunned on the lounge floor. In spite of not knowing where the future was going, or what lay ahead, Harry knew it was progress. And that meant everything.
“…and he ate all his veg last night,” Harry said, finally easing Teddy into Nymphadora’s waiting arms.
Her hair was presently at her shoulders, a soft lavender colour matching her lipstick, and a curious expression on her face. Fleur and Tonks had both been briefed about the Harry Situation, as James was calling it. Tonks seemed to have taken it better than anyone. Fleur was far more suspicious—her nature not having changed much even in this timeline, but she still offered Harry a kiss to his cheek as he greeted the pair with their son.
“I just can’t believe anyone got him to eat veg.” Tonks tickled her son’s belly who squealed and squirmed out of her arms to run across the grass. “I guess you really are some freaky version of the twat I once knew.”
Harry couldn’t help his smile, in spite of how often it stung to hear that. He shrugged through. “It was my pleasure. Honestly any time you lot need a little holiday from parenting, just owl me.”
“Until the season starts up,” she pointed out.
Harry blinked, then sighed. “Right. Right, yes, I’m doing that now.”
“And before you were…”
“Auror,” Harry said. When she looked surprised, he shrugged. “Killing a supremely evil wizard tends to offer special circumstances. Like joining the Aurors without having taken any NEWTs.”
“Lucky sod,” she muttered, kicking him under the table as she grabbed her mimosa Regulus had served. “Mine were retched.”
“So I’ve heard,” Harry said. “If I get my memories back from this timeline, I’m sure I’ll agree with you.”
“Doubt it,” James said with a wink as he eased himself into a chair next to Harry. “You managed all Os without even trying. Just like your old man.”
Harry rolled his eyes, but couldn’t help a small smile, and couldn’t chase off the wonder that his dad—his actual dad, James Potter—was sat next to him taking the piss. “Anyway, so yes. Quidditch. But I’ll make time for Teddy.”
Nym glanced over where Teddy had sat, digging one of his small, plastic shovels into the soft flowerbed. “S’what I like to hear, kid. Anyway, how’s your team going to do this year? I lost way too much money on the Kestrals last year and I’m not keen for a repeat.”
“I think they’re alright,” Harry said with a shrug. “I’m still on the reserves so it’s not like you’ll be betting on me.”
She grinned. “How about I put a pony on it the moment you’re pulled off.”
Harry lifted a brow. “Muggle money?”
“I never gamble with galleons,” she said, her voice sincere.
“How about we don’t gamble at all,” Regulus said as he slid in on the other side of Harry. “Let’s not corrupt the youth.”
“I hope you’re not talking about this one,” Tonks said, kicking Harry again who jumped in his seat.
Regulus glanced down the table at Tilly who was watching the conversation with a wide grin. “Oh, me?” she asked, her eyes going wide. “Pops please. Do you know how much money I lost on Harry’s last year? Trust me, corruption runs deep and thorough in this family. I’m long gone. You’ve no hope left.”
Regulus covered his face and sighed. “And I’m the Slytherin.”
“Gryffindors often have gambling problems,” James said. “Peter…” Then he stopped when Harry went instantly tense. “Never mind. Sorry.”
Harry waved his hand. “It’s alright. I need to get used to it at some point. You’re not dead, after all.”
That effectively killed the good mood, which only returned twenty minutes later when Sirius and Remus finally arrived, and the food could be served. James levitated the whole lot to the table so no one would have to get up. Teddy was strapped into his chair between his mums, and eventually the conversation was lighter and kinder.
Sirius and James moved to the head of the table to chat with Tilly about her upcoming NEWTs, and Remus settled into James’ vacated seat.
“Thanks for the curries last night. Saved me from an entire evening of listening to him whinge.”
Harry grinned through his bite of quiche. “No worries, Moony. We weren’t going to eat it anyway. It was the least I could do besides, for letting me have Ted over.”
“Harry, you don’t have to bribe us to visit with him,” Remus said, glancing across the table at Teddy who had bits of strawberry absolutely everywhere, and a hair colour to match the red berry. “I know it’s taking some of us longer than others but…”
“Sirius hugged me last night,” Harry blurted.
Remus lifted a brow, a tiny smile playing at the corners of his mouth. “Is that so?”
Harry shrugged. “I know I sound like a child. But it meant…a lot. I mean, I know I’m here, surrounded by family, but I don’t have anyone who knows me, you know? Teddy’s the only sort of ballast I’ve got, and it’s just taking me some time to adjust.”
Regulus made a suspiciously thick noise next to him, then cleared his throat and reached over, gripping Harry’s shoulder. “We’re all trying to be better. This isn’t your fault.”
“I know,” Harry said quietly. “And I just wish I could get some answers so I know whether or not I’m meant to settle in.”
“About that,” came a voice from Harry’s right, just on the other side of Remus. Harry looked over at James. “After you’re finished, I wanted to have a chat in the upstairs office about that locket.”
Harry, whose appetite immediately vanished, pushed his plate away. “We can go now, if you like.”
James shrugged, then stood up, beckoning his son along. Harry let him take the lead, and when they got in, James shut the door and spelled it locked. He cast a silencing charm, then went to the small cabinet near the door and pulled out two glasses, and a bottle of muggle scotch.
“Two, if you don’t mind,” Harry said.
James complied, then handed it over, taking his own before sinking into his squashy chair. Harry took the other, and looked at his dad who flicked his wand, and levitated the locket so it hung between them.
“I’ve figured out a few things. One, it’s not a locket. It’s transfigured out of something, but I don’t know what. Every time I undo one charm, two more grow in its place. Sirius’ taken to calling it the hydra for all that it’s behaving like one.”
Harry gnawed on his lower lip, then took a drink. “That’s…well. Not good, is it?”
“Not entirely. He thinks maybe you ought to have a go at it one afternoon when you’re free. You can come by the office and we can maybe put our heads together. See what we can come up with?”
Harry stared at the glittering thing, hanging in a beam of sunlight. “I was never that good at transfigurations. But I suppose it can’t hurt. Is there anyone else you’d trust to have a look?”
“Not really. I mean, Lily might, but I don’t want to drag her back here unnecessarily,” James said. “Though I might not have a choice at the end of things.”
Harry sighed. “Alright. And no one at your work?”
“The only ones I can think of who might even have a prayer at breaking this charm,” James said, “are Unspeakables. And if we get them involved…”
Harry well knew the implications of that, and he shook his head. “What about…about Dumbledore?”
James blinked at him. “Well I…”
“I don’t want to,” Harry said in a rush, leaning forward slightly toward his dad. “I think of all people Dumbledore might actually be one to turn me in or try to reverse it or something. But at least in my timeline, was the strongest wizard I knew.”
“He’s the same Albus here,” James said thoughfully. “Haven’t spoken to him in years but…it could be a last resort. Safer than Unspeakables.”
Harry nodded, relaxing and taking a long drink of the scotch. He grimaced at the taste, then set it down on James’ desk. “Do you think when you crack the spell, it all goes back to the way it was?”
James blinked, then shrugged as he floated the necklace back to his desk. “It’s crossed my mind. It may erase what you’ve got in your head now. It might be some sort of spelled failsafe that reverses the entire situation.”
Harry felt sick at the thought of losing everyone all over again. Losing his memories was one thing, but after having everyone back and losing them again…he wouldn’t survive it. His head began to spin, and things began to slow down. He felt like he was floating above his body, like he couldn’t breathe, like he was being slowly drowned, and he only came back to himself when James cupped his face. He realised he was mid-panic attack, and tried to take a few, calming breaths.
“I…sorry,” Harry gasped.
“Are you alright?”
Harry took a few gulps of air, then nodded. “Sorry I…it’s just…” He ran a shaking hand down his face and pulled away from his dad. “The thought of going back, knowing I had you and then losing it all again…”
James glanced sideways at the locket. “Maybe,” he said very slowly, “we shouldn’t meddle with it at all. Perhaps it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie.”
Harry licked his lips, then felt James push something against his hand. A glass of water he’d conjured. He gulped it a little too fast, and swiped his hand across the back of his mouth. “I can’t just agree to that. It’s…complicated. You know it is.”
“I know,” James said quietly, and put his hand on top of Harry’s head for a moment before backing up and taking a seat. “But it’s something we need to consider. We need to decide if the risks outweigh the reward.”
“Yeah,” Harry said from behind a breath.
“So come to my office next week, alright? And the three of us will talk this through.”
Although things felt a bit shite, Harry realised he wanted nothing more than to sit in an office, and run this all by two of the people he loved and missed most in the world. His father, and his Godfather.
I think there's going to be about ten chapters total of this fic. So about three more to go. I wrote this after the longest day of my LIFE (the little had her birthday party today, so I spent 80% of my day surrounded by a gaggle of 9 year olds at a trampoline venue where they were stuffed full of fizzy drinks and cake) so this may not be my best work. Hopefully you like it anyway.
He was coming round the corner and into the lobby when he came to a skidding halt. At the welcome desk stood Viktor Krum, who was chatting with one of the stadium’s managers. Harry was, for the moment, unnoticed as Viktor headed for the lifts, but a moment later, a throat cleared to his right.
Whipping round, Harry’s eyes went wide when he saw Hermione standing there. “Hermione,” he blurted without thinking.
She lifted a brow at him. “Since when are we on first name terms, Potter?”
“Since er…it started being strange to refer to you as Krum and not Granger?” he offered weakly.
The corner of her mouth quirked up, and she shrugged. “Alright, fair enough. I don’t mean to keep you. Vik’s going to be up there a while and I was looking for the visitor’s lounge.”
“Ah er…” Harry had been there long enough to have seen it, though seeing Hermione startled him a bit more than he expected and he momentarily forgot the layout of the building. After a second, he ruffled his hair and grinned sheepishly. “Sorry yes. Right this way.” He started off, and a moment later, she caught up to him.
“So, you’ve done well for yourself,” she said tightly.
He shook his head. “Look, I’m well aware we hated each other, so you don’t have to make polite conversation.” He took a left turn, and started down the long corridor.
Hermione gave him a curious look. “You say that as though you’re not fully aware of our relationship through school. You attempted to hex me during Potions NEWT.”
Harry flushed. “Right. I’m…I’m sorry about that. I was a complete twat.”
“And that’s changed?” Her voice dripped with scepticism, and he flinched a bit.
“Let’s just say I’m not the person I was back then. I’m not even the person I was six weeks ago. Not that you’ll believe me.” He paused at the door, then pushed it open and stepped aside for you. “There’s tea against the back wall, and if you pick up those little menu cards, you can order anything you like as you wait. The House Elves are even more helpful here, I think, than they were at Hogwarts.”
She immediately looked annoyed, and Harry felt a small rush that even this Hermione was still similar to who she’d been in his own timeline. When he started to step back, she turned. “Fancy a cuppa?”
Harry was too startled to move for several moments, but when she rolled her eyes, he found himself laughing and stepping inside. He was supposed to be meeting with Ron, but his mate could do without him for a bit. This was a chance to pick her brain, to see if anything leftover lingered in her mind that he could use to figure out what the bloody hell had happened.
Going to the small counter, the pair got a cup of tea and a tin of biscuits which were lying on the counter, and they each took a squashy armchair by the massive screen which was playing out one of the Kestrals’ latest victories.
“So, is Viktor coming to play or…?”
Hermione scoffed. “You know just as well as I do he’s not in any form to play. He’s here for a coaching post. Which I suppose means he’d be working with you.”
Harry’s eyebrows lifted. He hadn’t known, of course, but he didn’t say it aloud. “Right, yes. Sorry, I wasn’t thinking. But that means you’d be back in London, yeah?”
Hermione lifted her eyebrow at him again, then shrugged. “I’ve already had an interview at the Ministry about it. I mean, my work as ambassador was well enough, and I’m thinking of applying in the Magical Beast department. See if we can get some of these laws turned round.”
Harry thought about Remus, and nodded swiftly. “That would be really good. It would be nice if Remus could actually enjoy his life as a human instead of classified as less than.”
Hermione looked vaguely surprised. “Lupin, you mean? I thought you hated him.”
Harry licked his lips, surprised at how much Hermione knew. “Like I said, I was a twat before. It’s not like that now. He’s family.”
She hummed, obviously not quite believing him, but that didn’t matter. “Well I’ll do my best at any rate. Though it’s not a done deal. I’ve got a reputation, you know.”
“I could have my dad put in a word for you, if you like,” Harry offered. “I mean, he’s an Auror so he doesn’t have a lot of pull, but I reckon having someone with a decent reputation with the ministry give you a reference can’t hurt.”
She stared at him, a bit wide-eyed. “That would be…well. I’d appreciate that, actually.”
“I’ll have him write something up, send it by owl. Are you staying in London now?”
She nodded. “Three broomsticks whilst we flat-hunt. Not a lot of places for let that are in wizarding areas these days. London’s getting a bit flooded.”
Harry hummed. “Yeah. My place is alright. Might want to check there.” He gave off the address. “Not that you’d want to live near me but…it’s something.”
Hermione gave him a curious look, then shrugged. “It’s something, anyway.”
Harry nodded, then set his tea down. “Hermione…did you er…did you ever consider working as an Unspeakable.”
She laughed. “What?”
“It’s only, you were so clever at school. Inventive, and everything. I reckon they might have wanted to recruit you.”
She shrugged, reaching for a biscuit, though she didn’t bite into it. “Suppose they did, yeah. Why, did they ask you?”
Harry gave a non-committal noise, and didn’t elaborate.
“But it wouldn’t have worked out, would it? I was engaged by seventh year.”
If Harry’d been drinking, he’d have spat his tea all over. “Engaged?”
“Oh come off it! Everyone knew. It hit the papers thanks to that cow, Skeeter. I didn’t hear the end of it all year. Got blasted howlers at every meal, hexes in my post. You and your mates thought it was a right laugh.”
“We were such twats,” Harry breathed, shaking his head feeling worse and worse. He recalled when Skeeter had gone after Hermione in his timeline, and he only hoped she had decent enough friends in this world that got her through it.
“Water under the bridge,” she said after a pause. “Honestly, I had a grand wedding, my husband is amazing. My daughter is as smart as they come…”
“Your daughter?” Harry blurted. “You’re nineteen!”
Hermione laughed. “Twenty now, actually. And just because you’ve decided not to put a plague on the world with your spawn doesn’t mean I didn’t want to be a mum. Her name’s Veronika and she’s gorgeous. She’ll be two this November.”
Harry swallowed thickly, feeling strange that his best friend in the world had a child, and he hadn’t known her. What rubbish sort of place was this, really? He ached for the ability to just throw his arms round her and be comforted. To spill all the fears and worries he had, and listen to her reason out why it was all going to be okay. For him to maybe even take her by the front of her robes and shake her and ask her why, why had she done all of this.
But that would have been pointless.
Instead he simply grinned at her. “I can’t imagine any child of yours being anything less than brilliant. I’m happy for you.”
She studied him a moment, then looked almost surprised. “You actually mean that, don’t you?”
Her brows furrowed. “Are you dying? Or have you nearly died? Is this some sort of existential, morality crisis because something went terribly wrong and you need to right all the things that went poorly the first time?”
Harry licked his lips and felt that she actually might have been on to something. He had died, in fact. And he’d been to hell and back and now he was in a world where he’d been given a second chance and seemed to be righting a lot of wrongs. But it wasn’t in the way she meant it.
“No. I think I just grew up a bit. Realised I can’t carry on being an epic douche, and most of what I had been in the past was…a mistake.”
She sighed. “Well, I suppose that’s something. Not like I want to be best mates or anything, but I suppose if I’m going to see you round, you can…come and say hi.”
“Pragmatic of you,” Harry joked, and this time he pulled a real smile out of her. “Honestly, we should get a pint sometime, alright? You and me, maybe Viktor? And Ron. Do you remember Ron Weasley?”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Fraid I do. I suppose that would be alright, so long as you’re not bringing that twat Malfoy. Not still mates with him, are you?”
Harry felt something twist in his gut, and he cleared his throat. “We’ve recently agreed to end our ah…association with each other. No harm, no foul. Just better that way.”
“Thank Merlin,” she said. “Thanks for the tea, but I shouldn’t keep you. I know you’ve just got done.”
Harry shook his head. “It was my pleasure, Hermione. I’m looking forward to seeing you again.” He offered a hand, and she laughed a bit as she took it.
When he left, he felt like a massive weight had been lifted off his shoulders. He might not have solved any of his problems, but at least he had the hope of a friend back.
Harry had just got the owl from James to meet him at his office, and he was heading for his door. Grabbing his keys and wand, he flung it open and was about to step into the corridor when he suddenly smacked into the broad chest of Draco Malfoy.
Letting out an undignified yelp, Harry took an ungainly step backward. “Malfoy? What the…?” He stared. Malfoy was wearing muggle clothes—trousers, white shirtsleeves, and a jacket—and he had his hair done just so. He was also holding a bouquet of flowers which didn’t smell like they ought to—far more intense than any muggle bouquet.
“Well hello, Potter. You look lovely this evening, though not quite…what I had in mind.”
“Had in mi—what? What the hell are you on about?” Harry asked, taking a step backward.
“For our date?”
Harry blinked. “Date. Okay…have I missed something? Did I wake up in another bloody fucking timeline that…”
“You said at the zoo,” Draco interrupted, “that you wanted to be wined and dined. Flowers, chocolates, that stupid shite.”
Harry almost laughed. Almost. “No I didn’t. I said I wasn’t interested in casual shagging any longer.”
“Yes,” Draco said slowly, as though Harry were a very small child, “and I’m not an idiot, Potter. I can read between the lines. You want a proper relationship so here.” He thrust the flowers at Harry. “No go change into something that won’t leave me mortified to be seen with you in public.”
“I’m…I…” Harry stammered, and shook his head. “No, Malfoy! First of all I’ve somewhere to be right now, and I can’t just go change and go on a date. Secondly I haven’t even agreed to one!”
“You’ve been letting me shag your arse off for months, and you’re telling me you won’t let me take you to bloody dinner?” Draco said, crossing his arms, still holding the flowers.
Harry licked his lips. “It’s…I…”
“You?” Draco pressed.
“Have somewhere to be,” Harry blurted.
“So you’ve said,” the blonde repeated dryly. “What day might be good for you then? Or do you need to check your date book?”
Harry swallowed, feeling confused and panicked—something he didn’t function well under, and he simply blurted, “Saturday.”
“Right,” Draco said with a stiff nod. He thrust the flowers at Harry once more, who took them out of shock more than anything, then said, “Saturday,” and Disapparated with a crack.
Absolutely and completely stunned, Harry stood there for at least three full minutes before he walked backward into his flat, and set the flowers on the table. Had that really just happened? Had he just agreed to a proper date with Draco Malfoy?
Not entirely convinced he hadn’t just woken up in yet another timeline, Harry did the only thing he could think of. He turned on the spot, and Apparated to his dad’s office.
The Ministry’s Apparition point was crowded that evening, but he managed to muscle his way through the crowd, to the lifts, and to his dad’s floor. He bypassed the secretary, giving him a short nod before walking to James’ office and knocking.
The door swung open, and Harry could see James and Sirius sat behind the desk, holding a piece of parchment and talking quietly. When Harry walked in, James set it down, and smiled softly at his son.
“Weren’t sure you were going to make it,” he said.
Harry shut the door, then took a few shaky steps to the chair and sank down. “Sorry. I was erm. Held up.”
James and Sirius both looked at him curiously, Sirius raising a brow as he said, “You look a bit startled. Did something happen?”
“Yes,” Harry confessed. “I’m not…we’re still…normal? Right? Like I’m still the barmy Harry who popped into your son’s head and we’re still trying to figure all that out?”
James licked his lips, trying not to smile. “You were last time I checked. Why?”
“I…never mind,” Harry said, shaking his head. “Something bizarre just happened to me but…it doesn’t matter. Let’s…let’s get to work, shall we?”
James and Sirius seemed a bit hesitant, but before long, they were going over everything they’d done so far, and Harry was now taking a crack at it.
It seemed, however, that being clever and lucky with Dark Lords was not a talent that extended to breaking charms on lockets. And although Harry had been working as an Auror, skipping his last year at Hogwarts and not taking his NEWTs was starting to show, because he did absolutely no good at all.
Within an hour, they were sat round James’ desk with tea, each of them giving a resigned look to the bit of jewellery on the desk.
“I just can’t work out what she used,” James groaned. “I’ve been able to pinpoint a couple of the transfiguration charms, but I can’t work out how she managed to make them replicate after breaking one. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Neither have I,” Sirius admitted. “And we’ve been at this job too many years.”
Harry shook his head. “I saw her today, actually. Krum’s taking up a coaching post with the Kestrals and she was there with him. We chatted—actually civil for once—and she doesn’t…she hasn’t got any memory of anything. She said she was approached by Unspeakables during her final year about a job, but she moved to Bulgaria to marry Viktor, and worked as an ambassador there. She’s got an interview with the Ministry, with the Magical Beasts department, but nothing like this.”
James sighed. “Well. We have a few other options, but I’m not sure we want to risk it.”
Harry scrubbed his hand down his face. “I don’t want to change time again. I don’t. I can’t bear the thought of losing all of you all over again. The worst I’ll accept is erasing my memories, and having the other Harry’s back. Maybe something of me will still linger and he’ll…I’ll…you know. Be less of a prick.”
James and Sirius sighed. “There has to be some sort of happy medium,” Sirius said, looking at James. “Finding a way to dig up Harry’s memories of being raised by you, but not losing everything else he knows. I don’t want to sacrifice one identity for the other. Harry—this Harry—he’s suffered enough.”
Harry hadn’t expected Sirius to come to his defence at all, and there was a warmth blooming in his chest. “I’ll accept that, if that’s what you want. I mean, I think I’d like the memory of being able to grow up with you and…and Regulus. I’d like to be able to refer to him as my father without it sounding wrong. But I don’t want to go back to being the bigot who thinks Moony is…” Harry trailed off, not willing to say it.
Sirius gave him a grateful smile. “I’m sure we can work something out. Locket or no locket, there has to be a solution.”
Harry nodded. “Well I’ll work on whatever you need me to.”
“I think this goes back to our department,” James said carefully. “Sirius and I could get in a lot of trouble if we’re using outside resources without department approval, and in this world, you’re a Quidditch player, not a Ministry employee.”
Harry nodded. “I understand.” Thumbing the rim of his mug, he looked up, but didn’t meet either gaze. “Would it be erm, alright, if I stayed at yours tonight?”
James quirked a smile. “Anytime, you know that. Is there a reason or…?”
“It’s Malfoy,” Harry said from behind a sigh. “I’ve split things off with him. It was getting too confusing and he’s not…I mean he’s good with the old Harry, I suppose. Shared values and all that. But I was starting to feel…” He trailed off and cleared his throat. “Something. Which isn’t good, so it ended. Only he showed up at my flat tonight expecting to take me on a date. A proper date.”
James chuckled behind his hand, and when Harry glared, he dropped it. “Sorry, I’m sorry son really. It’s just…it sounds a bit familiar.”
“I know,” Harry said miserably. “Regulus told me to talk to you about it. Said if anyone could understand it would be you but…it’s weird. He’s such a git and I shouldn’t fancy him at all.”
“But you see something in him that might actually be decent?” James offered, glancing sideways at Sirius who was watching with a neutral expression.
Harry shrugged. “I don’t know. Sometimes he seems alright. Sometimes he seems like he might fancy me, not just the shagging.”
Sirius rolled his eyes. “If he’s showing up to ask you on a date, Harry, that’s likely the case.”
Harry felt his cheeks go hot. “Well alright, yes. I can see that, thank you. I’m daft, but I’m not completely ignorant. It’s just…I don’t know what to do.”
“What did you say to the date?” James asked.
Harry blushed harder. “I erm. Might have agreed to one on Saturday.”
At that, Sirius snorted a laugh, trying to turn it into a cough, and he looked away as James grinned and said, “My advice, see how it goes. Tell him the truth.”
“What? About the whole…” Harry waggled his fingers by his temple.
“Okay maybe not the whole truth,” James said. “But enough. Make him believe in the change you’ve experienced. And if he’s still interested after that…” James stopped and shrugged. “It might mean something more.”
Harry wasn’t sure if that’s what he’d wanted to hear, or the opposite of that. But for what it was worth, Harry felt a warmth at the idea he was getting, for the first time in his life, actual parental advice. And it was something he wouldn’t trade for anything in the world.
Harry woke early Friday morning, heading into the kitchen where he heard the noises of breakfast being prepared. He saw Regulus setting a stack of toast on the table, and he noticed Harry, smiling at him. “Morning. You sleep alright?”
Harry nodded. “No nightmares or anything.”
Regulus flicked his wand at the kettle, and it began to rumble with boiling water. “Tea? Or is it a coffee sort of morning?”
“Tea’s fine,” Harry said, and accepted the cup which floated over to him. He sat down at the table and nicked a bit of toast from the top of the stack. “I talked to dad about Malfoy last night.”
Regulus’ smile was small, tugging at the corners of his mouth. “Ah. And how did that go?” He finished the eggs, tipping them onto a plate, and setting that down in the centre of the table next to the toast. Taking a seat, he curled his hands round his own mug, and met Harry’s gaze.
“Well,” Harry said softly, “it was weird. I’ve never really gotten parental sort of advice before, you know? So it was nice.”
Regulus’ face twisted up a little, shaking his head. “I heard the story, through the interrogation, but every now and again these comments you make…” Regulus shook his head. “I hate it. I hate you had to experience that.”
Harry shrugged. “It was rubbish, but it could have been worse.”
“Harry, you were kept in a sodding broom cupboard for eleven years. You have to know that isn’t alright.”
“I know,” Harry said quickly. “I do.”
“It’s just, being deprived of food, of proper care…that’s abuse, Harry.”
“I know it,” Harry said, licking his lips and looking down at his tea. “I don’t think they were good people. But I also know you and Sirius didn’t grow up in a decent household. I know what happened when he ran away from home.”
Regulus winced. “Right.”
“And I don’t for a second think you had it any easier.”
“I did,” Regulus said quietly. “For a time. But that’s…it doesn’t matter.”
“No. I don’t mean to compare and contrast. The worst of it wasn’t living with the Dursleys, you know. The worst was having to run for my life every bloody year as Voldemort tried to murder me. The very worst was watching everyone I loved die. I used to think about Sirius—at least I got him for two years. That was something, right? But when I really sat down and thought about it, I didn’t even get that. I got a handful of nights whenever I could get away, and Voldemort used him—my one weakness because he was my only real family—against me. And it got him killed.”
Regulus’ hand spasmed, then unable to stop himself, reached over and closed his hand round Harry’s. “That was not your fault.”
“Everyone says that. I mean, in a way sure. It wasn’t. Voldemort was using the connection we had to manipulate me. But if I hadn’t gone…”
“You didn’t go,” Regulus said, and squeezed harder. “Remember that, Harry. You didn’t go, because Voldemort died years before your time. And everyone’s safe.”
Harry bowed his head, taking the small comfort of his father’s hand on his. His father. Who loved him. In spite of the twat he’d been his entire life, Regulus loved him. Like Remus and Sirius had said that night—James and Regulus had a blind spot where their son was concerned. And for the moment, Harry was glad of it.
“Thanks,” he muttered after a while. “It’s…it’s not less real for me, because it happened to me. And if I lose that, I go back to being…him.”
Regulus nodded. “I supposed it does.”
“Dad’s trying to work on some sort of happy medium, he called it. Where I keep the knowledge of what happened, but regain the memories of growing up with you. So maybe it won’t feel so bad. Maybe it’ll start feeling like a bad dream.”
Regulus gave Harry a curious look, then shrugged. “Well if anyone can do it, it’s your dad. Cleverest wizard out there.”
Harry grinned. “Yeah. Yeah, I reckon he really is.”
That night, Harry found himself at the local with Ron—Fred and George stuck at the shop doing inventory, but he was enjoying the conversation with his mate, and the time alone. He’d filled Ron in about the conversation with his dad, and with Malfoy, and was finishing up by telling Ron about the run-in with Hermione at the stadium.
“You really reckon we might be able to have a pint with Viktor Krum?” Ron asked, his eyes going wide.
Harry almost laughed. “Yeah, reckon we might. I mean, you know he’s just a person, right? And he might actually be working with the Kestrals this year, so you might actually be able to get to know him. Proper know him.”
“Wow,” Ron breathed, shaking his head.
Harry rolled his eyes. “You’d probably fancy him in any universe.”
Ron flushed. “I don’t fancy him.”
“Sure, mate. Whatever you say.” Harry grinned at him.
Ron huffed, then asked, “So any luck with Granger, then? Or is it still looking like she’s as buggered as everyone else?”
“She doesn’t know a thing,” Harry said with a shrug. “Honestly at this point, if I can just have her back as a friend, I’ll call it a win.”
“That’s so strange,” Ron said, shaking his head and taking a long pull of his beer. “Honestly, it’s almost impossible to imagine the pair of you getting on. The three of us really were close?”
Harry grinned. “Yeah. Didn’t start off that way. We didn’t like her much, but Halloween night one of the professors let a Mountain Troll into the school and we fought it.”
Ron choked. “We what? First year?”
Harry shrugged. “After that, it was hard not to be friends, you know?”
“Barmy,” Ron breathed.
Harry shrugged. “Most of our life was. In fact, I was so used to the chaos, all this seems…” Harry trailed off and looked round. “It feels like I’m just waiting for the next crisis.”
“You’ll get used to it, mate.” Ron clapped him on the shoulder, then pushed away from the table. “Back in a mo. Order me another if you get the chance.” He ambled off toward the toilets, leaving Harry on his own.
Just as Harry was finishing off his, the seat across moved back and he looked up. Expecting to see Ron, he almost spat out his drink when the familiar blonde folded his hands primly on the table, and offered a half-smile.
“What the fuck, Malfoy? Are you stalking me?”
“I’d hardly lower myself to do something so common. You come here every night.”
“And you know that because…”
“I’ve found you in the toilets and shagged you rotten,” Draco said, and Harry flushed. “I’ve only dropped by to remind you that our date is going to be a proper one. Which means you can’t show up looking like…” He sneered a bit, giving Harry a look up and down. “I’m sure you have proper attire.”
Harry gritted his teeth, and gave a sharp nod. “I’m sure I do. Somewhere. Believe me, I’ve barely any interest in being seen with you in public, let alone making a spectacle.”
Draco looked mildly offended, but didn’t retaliate. Instead he shrugged and reached across the table for what was left of Harry’s beer. He downed it, swiped the back of his thumb along his mouth, and set it down. “Then we have an understanding. I will be at your door at six sharp. See you then.”
Unable to come up with a single parting thing to say, Harry watched as Draco stood up and moved through the crowd. Staring after him, his mouth open a bit, he realised something very, very profound.
In less than twenty four hours, he, Harry Potter, had a date—an actual, proper date—with Draco Malfoy.
Two more chapters to go (I think)
We were thinking of having people over for your birthday. Let me know if that would be alright with you, and if there’s anyone you’d like to have over. Talk soon- Dad x
Harry stared down at the parchment, then up at his dad’s owl who looked like it had been told to wait for a reply. After a moment, he sighed, ripped a bit of the parchment off, and fumbled for a quill.
Just Ron and the twins, I think. And actually, maybe Hermione and Viktor Krum. I’m sure I can get time off, even if there’s a game. Thanks. -H
He folded up the parchment and attached it to the owl’s leg, giving him a fond stroke before it fluffed up, spread its wings, and took off out the window.
With a heavy sigh, Harry backed up, and looked at himself once more on the wall mirror. Luckily his other self had gone with one that was muggle, or at least had put a charm to keep it from making cheeky comments at his expense.
He didn’t need it tonight.
He was preparing for a date with Draco Malfoy, and he was all nerves. No, actually he’d transcended being all nerves into what was a higher plane of worry and anxiety that had no name. He had become anxiety. Any time he tried to picture sitting at a table having a proper meal with Draco, he’d start to shake. It was ridiculous, really. He’d fucked Draco, had his cock in his mouth, had woken up next to him. He’d been taken in a sodding toilet stall, and yet…
Harry chalked it up to feelings, because feelings were always the worst. Shagging without caring was something he could handle, but the moment his heart began to flutter thinking about Draco’s face, or his hands or his voice…
It was too much.
Harry very nearly cancelled on Draco eight or nine times that day, but somehow found himself freshly showered, dressed, his hair with a bit of product in it to make it—well not less messy considering no product on the planet existed for that—but like he meant it to have that just-shagged look.
Which, in hindsight might not be the best way to show up for a date with Draco since he was trying to avoid the whole shagging bit, but there it was.
Harry straightened his shirt, hoping that Draco had meant they’d be going somewhere muggle since he had shown up in a suit, and then headed to the lounge to wait. Twenty minutes before the agreed upon time—though agreed upon wasn’t exactly the term he’d use. But either way, it was ticking down close rand closer, and Harry couldn’t be sure that at the end of things, he wouldn’t just panic and run.
He very nearly laughed at himself. “If my world could see the sodding boy-who-lived now. The teen who killed Voldemort, who’s going spare over a fucking date.” He then stopped to think for a minute what his Ron and Hermione would think of him shagging Malfoy. The thought made his stomach churn, which only got worse when he thought about what the Draco from his time would think.
Now that would have been a laugh, really. If Harry had to go back, he wondered if he could take that memory with him to taunt Malfoy with.
Shaking his head, he sat down on the sofa, then stood up again when he realised his nerves weren’t going to allow him any peace. He started pacing again, desperate for a fag but wanting to refrain. He dragged his hand through his hair, mussing it up, but uncaring.
He paced by the wall with all of his photos, staring at the faces of people he knew, but were practically strangers. Neville was in a few as well, looking the same, though Harry had to wonder how he’d done without his parents having been tortured into insanity. In another sat Dean and Seamus, holding hands. He was unsurprised, considering a few of the nights he’d heard the pair and what they got up to, but they’d never gone public about it. Not in his time.
He felt a sort of disappointment that although his other self was a twat, he had all the memories Harry craved. Memories of growing up with two parents who loved him, friends he got on with, years at school where he wasn’t very nearly murdered by mad Dark Lords. Harry supposed on some level he owed his life before credit for the person he had become—the person who now was loved and accepted by his family as a good man instead of the spoilt, bigoted twat he might have been otherwise, but…
It didn’t erase the longing he felt to rid himself of the night terrors. Of the fear of dark alleyways and flashing green lights, and the constant, haunting memories of losing everyone he ever cared about.
Even now, with Sirius’ still-cold attitude toward him, it shredded him inside. He could think back to the few warm hugs he shared, the hope blooming in his chest that he would be able to leave a family that hated him, for one who loved him. And the agony when that was all ripped away from him.
It was so much to shoulder.
Suddenly there was a crack just outside his flat door, and he knew who it was. Fumbling for his wand, he tucked it into his trouser pocket, then headed for the door, grabbing the handle just as the knock sounded. He took three slow breaths, then wrenched it open.
Draco was, thankfully, dressed as he had been before—trousers, white shirt-sleeves, and an emerald green tie. His hair wasn’t gelled as it had been the years he’d known him, but it was clipped short and sat perfect, a gentle sweep of fringe off to the side of his forehead. His grey eyes seemed unusually alight, and he gave Harry a casual, arrogant smirk as he pushed past him and into the flat.
“I half expected you to be under dressed,” Draco said.
Harry felt his jaw tighten. “What, no flowers this time? No chocolates?”
Draco snorted. “Is that a thing? You need to be given gifts before dates?”
“No,” Harry said, rolling his eyes. “Christ, Malfoy, I don’t even want a date.”
“And yet here you are, dressed like you were expecting one.”
Harry felt his cheeks flare hot, and he huffed, but couldn’t argue. For all that he claimed he didn’t want this, any of it, he seemed rather eager to get things moving. Pursing his lips, he shoved one hand into his pocket. “Well?”
Draco chuckled under his breath, then beckoned Harry out the door. “I suppose we can just get on with it. I’ve made reservations at a rather nice place. Muggle area, hence the clothes. And after, we can have drinks at mine.”
Harry, who had followed him out and just turned to lock up, snapped his head up to look at Malfoy. “No. We’re not going to yours.”
“Mine is much better, and your booze is always shite, Potter,” Draco said. “That’s what people do after dates. I might not be an absolute expert, but I know the basic mechanics.”
“I’m…it’s not a good idea,” Harry said.
“Why not?” Draco demanded as he and Harry started down the stairs.
“Well we might end up…you know…”
“Shagging?” Draco offered with a snicker.
“Mature, Malfoy, really.” Harry huffed and scrubbed a hand down his face as Draco held the front door for him. His feet clicked loudly on the pavement, and he was mildly surprised to see Draco leading the way to a sleek, small black car without a driver. “Hang on, you drive?”
Draco blinked. “Yes,” he said slowly. “You know this. You and I…” He stopped and shook his head. “Are you alright?”
Harry gulped, realising that actually doing things with Malfoy where they spoke could lead to some unpleasant revelations. And if this Draco found out who he was, and what had happened well…Harry didn’t even want to think of the consequences. “Sorry, it’s been a long day, and I took a bludger to the head.” He lied smoothly, or he hoped it was, and after a second, Draco shrugged and got in the car.
Harry followed, and slid into his own seat. “What I meant before was, I don’t want there to be shagging. That’s what I’m trying to put a stop to.”
Draco turned his head, giving Harry one of the largest pouts he’d ever seen. He tried his damnest not to find it endearing, to fight off the desire to kiss him until it went away. He swallowed. Then sighed.
“I thought one of the bonuses to proper dating was shagging. It’s a front for exclusive sex, isn’t it?”
And there it was. Harry’s desire melted into frustration as Draco pulled out onto the street. “Malfoy, that’s what I’m trying to say. It’s not the shagging I have a problem with. I want something more. I want to be with someone I get along with, someone who shares my values and…”
“Well isn’t that brilliant, because I thought we had. In school it was rather obvious,” he said, taking a turn a little too sharply.
Harry sighed. “I just…I’ve grown past that. I’m not…it’s not the same as it was. I don’t think you and I see the world the same way anymore.”
Draco eyed him, then shook his head. “You need to give up Quidditch. Do something that isn’t going to addle your brain every time you get on a fucking broom.”
“This isn’t a head injury!” Harry insisted. “This is me realising that I shouldn’t be hating my godfather because he’s a werewolf.” Harry froze, wondering if Draco knew, but he didn’t seem fazed, so he carried on. “I shouldn’t treat muggleborns like they’re less. I shouldn’t think my birth mother is unworthy because she didn’t come from a wizarding line.”
“Alright,” Draco said simply.
Harry blinked at him. “Alright?”
Nodding, Draco shrugged one shoulder. “Alright. If you don’t feel that way anymore, it’s alright. Why should I care?”
“I…I’m not asking you to care,” Harry said. “I’m telling you that I want someone who doesn’t see things the way I used to.” He dropped his head back against the hard, leather seat. “Malfoy…”
“I think you should just shut the hell up,” Draco said, “and enjoy our date.”
Harry groaned, but decided silence was better than furthering the row. He was determined, though, that this would be a one-time thing. He’d go on the date, have the dinner, and call it a night. End of story. Full stop.
“…and then he just sort of dropped unconscious.” Draco grinned as Harry snickered into his glass of brandy. “It was the longest day I’ve had at work in ages. I don’t know why I decided to go into this field.”
“Because you’re an idiot,” Harry said, and bit down on his lower lip when he felt Draco’s foot brush up along his calf.
“Oh right, that must be it. Genius, you, Potter.”
Harry rolled his eyes, but found himself pushing his leg back against Draco’s foot. “Yeah well, that’s why you like me, isn’t it? My big brains and big dick.”
Draco choked on his swallow of brandy, his eyes going wide as he thumped his chest and cleared his throat. “Wow, Potter. If I’d have known you’d be this much fun I’ve had got you pissed more often.”
“You’re saying we never shag pissed?”
Draco lifted a brow. “I’m not an arsehole.”
“Yes you are,” Harry corrected.
Draco spread his hands. “Fine, I am. But I like my partner giving me loud, enthusiastic consent.”
Harry’s brows went up, realising that the other Harry must have far more experience in the whole field of sex than he did, because that never occurred to him. It was another layer to Draco Malfoy that Harry had seen during the date. The other was him being polite to the servers, ordering all of Harry’s favourite dishes without even trying, and making conversation which actually made Harry laugh. A true, honest laugh. Not once had Draco made a rude comment about muggles, muggleborns, or part humans. He hadn’t once brought up blood purity or, “My father…”. He was still the self-important, superior, smug, arse, but in a far more palatable way.
Harry was starting to wonder if his dad was actually right. Maybe there was room for him to grow as well. Maybe Draco was just looking for a reason to change.
Harry didn’t want to get his hopes up. This could be an elaborate ploy to get another shag out of him, but something in him was hopeful. Dangerous as it was.
“Earth to Potter?”
Harry blinked, realising Draco was speaking and he cleared his throat. “Sorry, what?”
“I said are you still so sure you don’t want to end the night at mine?”
Harry thumbed the rim of his snifter. “I thought you didn’t shag me when I’m pissed.”
“I don’t. And it’s rather rude of you to assume I’d invite you over for just a shag,” Draco said with an indignant sniff.
Harry rolled his eyes. “Count the number of times you’ve had me at yours when we didn’t shag.”
“That was before we were dating,” Draco argued.
“We aren’t dating,” Harry countered.
Draco sat back and sighed. “Next Saturday, only you are taking me out.”
Harry shook his head. “It’s my birthday next Saturday.”
“My parents are having a party.”
Draco lifted a brow, staring pointedly, and it took Harry several moments to realise what he was waiting for.
“Oh. No. No way. You’re not coming to my birthday celebration. Hermione and Viktor Krum are going to be there.”
Draco stared, then threw his head back and laughed. “How the bloody hell did you arrange that? Confundus?”
“No!” Harry said, crossing his arms. “We’ve made amends. I told you I’m…not the same.”
“So it would seem,” Draco said slowly. “Fine, what if I swear to be on my best behaviour.”
Harry eyed him for a moment. “Clear your schedule for Thursday. I don’t have a game, and practise will be light. I pick the place, and you won’t complain.”
“Casual or formal.”
Harry thought for a moment, even his alcohol-laced brain wondering why the hell he was actually considering this. “Casual.”
Draco pulled a face. “Fine. But if things go well, I get a birthday party invite.”
Harry huffed, but eventually shrugged. “You’re going to have to really impress me to let you be round my friends and family, Malfoy.”
“If I can get you to call me Draco to my face, I get the automatic invite,” Draco challenged.
Harry lifted a brow, but shrugged. “You have to call me Harry as well. And it has to be natural.”
Draco stuck his hand across the table. “Deal.”
Harry took it, then let out a choked noise when Draco—instead of shaking it—twisted Harry’s hand round, and brought his lips to Harry’s knuckles. The kiss was slightly open-mouthed, warm and hot and just the faintest bit wet. Harry’s entire body went flush with want, but he forced himself to breathe, and ignore the smug look on Draco’s face.
“Deal,” Harry said shakily.
Draco released his hand so slowly, fingers dragging along his palm, that Harry almost abandoned all of his restraint and leapt across the table to snog him into oblivion. Instead he cleared his throat and stood up, brushing his hand down the front of his shirt.
“Toilet. Back in a tick. Don’t follow me.”
“Don’t flatter yourself…Harry.”
Harry turned round midstep and shook his head. “That doesn’t count…Draco. And neither does that.” Harry hurried off then, slamming the door behind him as he hovered over the sink and took several breaths. Splashing water on his face, he stood there and willed his erection down, and willed himself to remain in control.
He was so sure Draco couldn’t do it, because it wasn’t just winning him over, it was winning himself over, too. Draco had to fall for Harry—and Harry was convinced he didn’t have it in him. At least, he was convinced Draco wouldn’t fall for the Harry that he was now.
The fact that Draco could see the changes and remained persistent was one thing, but he wouldn’t give in.
The night ended on the stoop outside of Harry’s building. Draco leant in, and Harry turned his head, the kiss catching the corner of his mouth. Draco remained both unfazed, and soft and sweet as he cupped Harry’s other cheek with his hand, and let his mouth open just a bit as his lips grazed Harry’s skin.
Flushed and wanting, Harry closed his eyes just for a second before he stepped back and nodded. “Goodnight, Malfoy.”
Draco’s hand dragged away, and he gave Harry a wink as he backed up off the steps, down to the pavement. “Night, Potter. See you Thursday.”
Harry gave a hum, then hurried into his flat, determined not to look back.
The first thing he did was take a cold shower, willing himself to remain calm and collected. Once that was taken care of, he shrugged on his most comfortable jogging bottoms, dragged his duvet from the bedroom to the sofa, and curled up.
He was just reaching for the remote when his fire roared, and a head popped in. Harry leant forward, surprised to see James’ head there.
“Not bothering you, am I?”
Harry shook his head. “Nah I’m alright. Just got in about half an hour ago. Everything alright?”
“Actually, I’ve a favour to ask. Your sister’s caught Dragon Fever and Reg has never had it before. She’s still at St Mungo’s, but she’ll be contagious for the next few days. You got any space for him?”
“Of course,” Harry said, standing up. “I have that second room. I’ll just go run a couple cleaning charms over everything.”
“Don’t go to any special trouble. It’s just really terrible if adults catch it, so I want to make sure he’s alright.”
Harry heard the concern in his dad’s voice, and nodded. “I don’t mind. It should be good, you know? Get some bonding time in there. Is er…is Tilly going to be alright? She’s not at risk or anything, is she?”
“Oh no, she’s alright. Got all the potions in her now. She’ll be right as rain soon. Thanks, son.”
Harry nodded, feeling a funny warmth in his bones at that, and he rushed off to tidy up his second bedroom. By the time he came out, Regulus was there, propping a case up against the far wall. He looked a bit shy, and a little embarrassed.
“I really am sorry about this.”
Harry shook his head, glancing at the duvet and blushing. “Don’t be. I was just kind of erm…being a bit of a slob.”
Regulus laughed. “It’s your place, and you’re allowed. I can just make myself scarce whilst you…”
“You want to watch something with me?” Harry blurted. “I was just about to fix some tea and put some shitty muggle telly on.”
Regulus blinked, then shrugged and made himself a small space to the right of Harry’s duvet. Feeling a bit awkward but relieved, Harry hurried into the kitchen and quickly flicked his wand at the teapot, heating the water. He banged a couple of bags into mugs, grabbed what biscuits he had, then levitated everything onto the coffee table.
Shifting the duvet over, Harry offered the tea over, then grabbed the remote and flicked it on. Eventually he found something which looked vaguely interesting. It was a reality show called Geordie Shore—nothing he’d heard of before, but ten minutes later he was both horrified, and addicted.
He and Regulus both started shouting at the screen, and making obscene comments.
“Is she really going to snog him after that?” Regulus demanded, leaning over his knees a bit.
Harry shook his head. “Mad. I literally don’t understand what the hell is happening here. Did he just…”
“He did,” Regulus said.
The pair looked at each other, then suddenly burst into laughter.
“What the hell are we doing?” Regulus said, swiping his face. “Do not tell your dad I did this. I will never hear the end of it.”
Harry grinned. “So long as you swear the same for me.”
Regulus stuck out his hand, and the pair shook on it. When Harry pulled away, he refreshed their tea, then turned the volume all the way down as they dug into the biscuits.
“How are things going now?” Regulus asked after some time. “Are the nightmares erm…better at all or…?”
“They come and go,” Harry said. “I haven’t had one as bad as that night. I feel like I never properly thanked you though. For helping me.”
“You’re my son,” Regulus said, shaking his head. “What was I meant to do besides that?”
Harry swallowed. “I know but…I feel like I haven’t treated you much like a father.”
Regulus shook his head. “I understand why, you know.”
“Well yes but…”
“If it’s any consolation, you didn’t before, either. I’m used to it.”
Harry swallowed a mouthful of tea, shaking his head. “You shouldn’t have been used to something like that, though. I know you’re close with Tilly and all, but…” He took a breath. “I feel like I should say sorry. And I’m trying.”
“No,” Harry said quickly. “Because the thing is, I know how it feels to be on your end. With…with Sirius and everything. All I want is to have what we had back, but thanks to this whole situation, and the person I was before, I can’t have that. And it really hurts. I don’t want to be a source of pain like that for anyone.”
Regulus’ face fell a bit, and he reached over, grabbing Harry’s shoulder. “I love you. I have loved you since the day I met you, and no matter what you do or who you become, that will never change. And Sirius will come round. He already has quite a bit, and I think once he and your dad get a few things sorted with what to do, he’ll feel better.”
Harry nodded, though he didn’t feel entirely better. “I just…I want to try harder. I…what was it like when I was little. Before I got really bad?”
Regulus laughed. “You were funny. You were the spit of your dad for years, you know. You’d mimic him all the time. Had to have all your clothes matching. He could never tell you no. You’d colour on the walls or use his championship Quaffle he kept in a case to mash jelly into the carpet and one look from your big eyes and he’d forgive you.”
Harry snorted. “Lovely.”
“You used to like it when I’d read you stories. Even before your dad and I were together, before Lily left, you’d crawl into my bed and I’d read to you until you fell to sleep. I think that was one of the moments when Lily realised if she left, you’d be alright.”
Harry nodded, feeling a little bit of an ache because he’d grown up with the idea that his mum had loved him so much, that her connection to him was so profound, she died to protect him. And that love had saved him and kept him going all those years.
“Oh Harry,” Regulus said, and Harry realised right then, he’d said all that aloud, “she did and still does love you that much. She would die for you even to this day. But sometimes that much love isn’t enough to keep a person happy. She wanted to be free to travel and do all the things she’d always dreamt of doing and once she realised you’d be safe and cared for…”
“I get it,” Harry said. “It’s just…difficult to wrap my mind around. I mean, I spent nineteen years of my life with dead parents, no family, no…well nothing, really. And suddenly I have all this but it’s so different than what I imagined.” Harry leant his head down on the sofa cushion, and stared at Regulus. “I wish I could go back for just a minute, you know. Just…just a minute. I think what I’d like to do more than anything is tell Kreacher you were okay. That you survived and you’re happy.”
Regulus blinked, startled. “Kreacher? My parents’ old House Elf?”
Harry nodded, fighting back a yawn. “He was loyal to you. He never forgave himself for following your orders and letting you die. Though your sacrifice, I think, was the one thing we needed to win the war.”
Regulus sighed, then shook his head. “And of all the things you could go back and do, you’d tell a House Elf that I’m alright?”
Harry frowned. “Well…yeah. I mean, everyone else is fine, aren’t they? Happy and living their lives. I think—at least in my timeline—he suffered and would have suffered until the day he died knowing he failed you. I think he’d like to know that he didn’t really. And that you were proud of him and got your happy ending, too.”
Regulus stared for a long moment, then reached a hand out, brushing Harry’s hair back away from his forehead. “You’re a good man, Harry. I’m proud to be your father. And you deserve the happiness any life brings you.”
Harry laughed tiredly and shook his head, feeling a very profound, almost visceral comfort in the feeling of a parent’s hand on his head. Like he was a child all over again, and receiving the comfort he’d always fantasised about when he was a small boy, locked away in his cupboard wanting nothing more than a cuddle. “I’m trying my best. My date tonight was…interesting. I don’t know how I feel about it. But we have a second. And I might invite him to my birthday party thing.”
Regulus smiled softly as he continued to brush Harry’s hair, drawing him closer and closer to sleep. “I think if you’re happy, that’s all that matters.”
“I don’t,” Harry said tiredly, yawning again, his eyes slipping closed. He leant into the touch, feeling his head eventually drop against his papa’s shoulder. “I don’t know what I am. I just want…the loneliness to stop.”
“We’re here. All of us,” Regulus said, though his voice sounded far off now.
The last thing Harry remembered was being lowered on the sofa to a pillow, the duvet tucked round him. The television clicked off, and dry lips pressed to the centre of his forehead. With that simple gesture, for the first time without potions, he fell into a dreamless sleep.
“Alright, who got the chicken tika?” Remus held the small box out, and Regulus grabbed it as he settled back down to the floor, his back to the sofa. He grinned over at Harry, who was already pouring masala sauce over his rice.
Sirius had his own saag paneer and had his legs crossed on the chair, Teddy perched in the centre, one small fist curled round a bit of garlic naan. He was gnawing on the end, whilst his gaze was fixed on The Emperor’s New Groove which was at low volume.
“He loves all this muggle rubbish,” Sirius said, shaking his head when Teddy laughed madly at the sight of Yzma.
“Aww this is such a good one, though,” Harry said, reaching out to give Teddy’s feet a tickle. “It’s not rubbish at all.”
“I suppose I can see the appeal,” Sirius said, glancing over and rolling his eyes at a grinning Remus.
“So,” Remus said, leaning back on the sofa next to Harry, “how’s your sister doing?”
“Dad said she’s nearly on the mend. The recent tests said she’s almost not contagious. Then he’s going to scourgify the house before Pops can come back in,” Harry said. It was the night before his next date with Draco. He’d come off a game that day, actually called in to the second half where he caught the snitch, and had his godfathers over to celebrate.
Ron, Fred, and George had been over for a bit, but had already made plans to have dinner at Molly and Arthur’s so had begged off early. Harry didn’t mind so much. He was enjoying his friendship with Ron and the twins, but there were moments when he craved his family, and now was that time.
He’d got close to Regulus over the past few days, and he was starting to lose perspective on what it had been like growing up in another timeline. It was there, but fading like a bad dream.
“Up want up up!” Teddy said.
Harry blinked down, and realised the toddler had climbed off his father, and was now asking to be let into Harry’s lap. Putting his curry aside, he lifted the boy and bounced him a few times on his knee, making him giggle before settling the toddler down.
“You like this, eh?”
“Yamma!” Teddy said, pointing a chubby finger at Kuzco. “Yamma!”
“It’s so cute, I don’t even want to correct him,” Harry said.
“Luh,” Remus said in spite of Harry’s statement. “Teds, can you say Luh-ama?”
“No,” Teddy declared, and flung a bit of naan at Remus.
Rolling his eyes, Remus sat back and shook his head. “He’s going to speak like that his entire life.”
“Nah,” Harry said, ruffling the boy’s presently bubble gum pink curls. “With you as a dad? He’s going to be freakishly articulate. Aren’t you.”
“Want yamma,” Teddy said, and turned back to the telly.
“So is everyone coming to the party on Saturday?” Harry asked casually as he attempted to eat his curry over the toddler without spilling it.
“I’m going to try,” Remus said. “The full is coming up and I’m aching. But Reggie has a new potion I’m going to try out. Something with a lot less aconite in it, and I’ll be taking it for the full week leading up.”
Harry’s eyebrows shot up. “That’s amazing. Is it showing promise?”
Regulus shrugged. “I think so. He’s on day two, yeah? And no major side-effects?”
“Not so far,” Remus said. “Well, it makes me a bit more tired, I think. But nothing I can’t handle. If it works out, it’ll make term easier.”
Harry blinked, then laughed. “I can’t believe you were professors. I…I mean you were, in my timeline, Moony. But only for a year.”
“You mentioned a bit of that,” Sirius said as he came over to wipe up Teddy’s face. The boy whinged and bat his father away, then wriggled off Harry’s lap to plop on the floor so he could better hear the film.
“Yeah it was probably the most brilliant year I had,” Harry said. “We actually learnt a thing or two. Year before that had been Gilderoy Lockhart.”
Remus, who had been taking a drink, choked. “That charlatan?”
Harry laughed. “The very same. Didn’t end well for him but the post was cursed, so it didn’t end well for anyone.”
The room went a bit silent and tense, then Remus said, “I expect not.”
“Snape outed you,” Harry added. “He was…after the whole debacle with Peter and Sirius escaping and everything he…he told his house about you. Parents were sending Howlers and the like. You decided it was better. Everyone but the Slytherins were gutted over it, though.”
Remus sighed. “Well it’s not like I don’t get them weekly but…” He trailed off and shrugged.
Sirius lowered himself to the floor, settling between Remus’ thighs, and rested his head there. “You’re brilliant though.”
“I know,” Remus said, drawing his fingers into Sirius’ hair. “I’m not fussed over it. Really.”
“I wish I could remember it,” Harry said quietly, digging his fork into the rice, but not taking a bite. “Getting to be at school with the pair of you. I might have actually done alright in potions.”
“You did do alright,” Regulus said.
There was a marked pause, then Sirius looked over at Harry. “Well, your dad reckons we might have a small solution to the locket, so we can discuss that after your birthday. He’s going to ask Longbottom for a bit of help.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Neville’s dad?”
“Yeah,” Sirius said. “He’s in the Department of Mysteries—not an Unspeakable, but he might have access to a few things. He doesn’t want to break the spell yet. Just identify which one and research it. He was thinking we could get together Sunday after, if they make progress this week.”
“That sounds brilliant,” Harry said. “Count me in.”
“Excellent,” Sirius replied, and reached over, giving Harry’s thigh a pat.
Thursday’s date came quicker than Harry thought it might, and although Draco was the one to pick him up, Harry merely gave the address. It was a muggle place, a place he’d seen reviews for. It was South Indian food—something he’d developed an affinity for when he’d learn where his dad was from, and being that he was raised by his mum’s white family who not only tried to erase his magical heritage, but Desi as well, he threw himself into it.
The place had a modern vibe, it was upstairs in a building, and had rooftop seating with massive firepits. Harry had managed to reserve a fire table, and ordered one of their pre-fixe menus with three courses.
Draco was all smug smiles when he arrived, once again kissing the back of Harry’s hand, and not letting it go as they made their way down to the car.
“This had better be good, Potter. I have high expectations for this date.”
Harry rolled his eyes a bit, but got into the car. “Trust me,” he said, passing over the address, “I think you’ll enjoy this. It’s very romantic.”
Draco’s eyebrows shot up. “Romantic, is it? You’re not trying to seduce me, are you?”
“I don’t think I’d need food to do that, Malfoy.”
Draco sighed, but the corner of his mouth was quirked up. “Malfoy still, is it?”
“We’ll see when the night ends,” Harry said, and felt lighter than he had before the first date. They made it to the restaurant, parking at the kerb a few blocks away, and they walked, Draco still taking his hand. Harry felt relaxed, even amiable about Draco’s company, and instead of feeling frustrated by it, he felt hopeful.
Maybe this Draco was capable of far more change than his own. Being that he had never been involved in such dark, horrible things, it allowed for the possibility of growth. Not that he thought his own Draco would have stayed the same—not after what he’d been through. But he couldn’t imagine Malfoy from the war timeline being willing to go on a muggle date.
They reached the restaurant and climbed the steps, taking the lift to the rooftop, and the hostess quickly brought them to their table. It was a round, cushioned bench, and the firepit in front of them remained unlit as she handed out the menus.
“Your server will be with you shortly to get everything ready.”
The pair bent their heads over the menu to choose which one they wanted. “You trust me, right?” Harry asked upon seeing Draco’s confusion. “I’m not exactly an expert…”
“Why wouldn’t you be an expert? Didn’t your dad raise you on this food?”
Harry licked his lips. “Well. Right. But we also had my other dad’s cooking,” Harry said, tripping over his words a bit. “And you know, this is stuff they cook for white people like you who are afraid of spices.”
Draco rolled his eyes, elbowing Harry. “I can take spices, Potter. But I trust you. Go ahead and order.”
Harry grinned, selecting the vegetarian option, then set the menu down to wait. He felt Draco’s arm come round him, hitching him close. There was hot breath against his neck, though Draco kept his mouth to himself—for the moment. Harry found himself wishing he wouldn’t, but that was not something he was about to voice aloud.
A few minutes passed before a server appeared, a tall man with dark skin, a sharp nose, and wide grin. “Evening. I’m Rajesh and I’ll be serving you tonight. Let me go ahead and get this started for you, then I can get your order.”
“What…” Draco began, but just then, Rajesh flicked on the firepit, which erupted into a bright flame, and Draco jumped back, letting out a startled cry. He grabbed onto Harry, his breath laboured and intense, and Harry soothed him as quick as he could.
“Hey. Hey, Malfoy. It’s alright, it’s just muggle fire. It’s set by gas, you know? It’s not going to explode or anything.”
Draco nodded, pulling himself together as he took a few breaths. “Sorry. I…fire makes me uneasy.”
Harry stared at him, his brain going into overdrive. His own Malfoy had been nearly killed by fire. Had been burnt badly, lost a friend to it. But this Malfoy wouldn’t have experienced that. Unless…?
But no, Harry reasoned. That wasn’t possible. Maybe it was a lingering effect from the spell, or maybe some people in the world had left-over phobias they didn’t know the source of.
“Are you okay? Did you have a bad experience or something?” Harry pressed.
Draco swallowed, then shrugged and moved away from Harry, not looking up at their curious server. “When I was little I accidentally caught a tapestry on fire and it got out of control before our House Elf found me. It sort of stuck with me ever since. I don’t mind the fire, it just…startled me.”
Well that made sense, Harry reasoned. Just a coincidence then. He quickly placed their order, getting some wine which he knew would calm Draco’s nerves, and before long they were drinking and cuddling, starting with their appetisers.
“Okay these are medu vada,” Harry said, holding one of the little doughnuts out to Draco. “And just dip it in the…” Draco looked so dubious, Harry rolled his eyes, then dipped it into the chutney and held it out to Draco. “Open up. Come on,” he goaded like Draco was a child.
Rolling his eyes Malfoy took a small bite, then his eyes widened. “Oh. That’s actually good.”
“Told you,” Harry said, handing it over. “And not even spicy.”
Draco snorted, but they polished it off, then looked at Harry expectantly. When Harry gave him a ‘what’ gesture, Draco said, “I like when you feed me.”
“Oh my god,” Harry groaned, but was feeling amiable enough to comply, and tried not to shudder when Draco licked a bit of the chutney off his finger. He pushed the empty plate to the side, then bit down on his lip as he watched Draco lick the corners of his mouth. “So, not bad so far?”
“As dates go, I’d say we’re at a solid six,” Draco said. “You lost points due to the fire.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “Yeah well…I know for next time. Though how you get by as a wizard having to use fire…”
“It’s not,” Draco said, absently rubbing his hand over his arm. “I don’t mind when I know about it. It’s the surprise that bothers me. It…just. It’s a bad memory.”
Harry felt another niggling suspicion, but he knew he was just being paranoid. He’d been so desperate to find someone who remembered like him, and he knew if it was anyone, it wouldn’t be Malfoy.
Luckily the next courses arrived, Harry going easy on him with some palak dhal tarka and pav bhaji, which Draco instantly loved, and the pair of them got into easier conversation as they polished it off.
“So heard you caught a snitch at a proper game,” Draco said.
Harry looked at him. “You were checking up on my game?”
“I might have inquired how you were doing.” Draco swallowed, then reached out, swiping a thumb in the corner of Harry’s mouth. “Merlin, Harry, such a messy eater.”
Harry swallowed thickly as he heard his first name coming out of Draco’s mouth. It was so natural like that, and he hadn’t realised how badly he wanted to hear it until now. “Yeah well, good thing you’re here to tidy me up.”
Draco smiled, a proper smile, making the corners of his eyes crinkle, and Harry’s heart threatened to beat out of his chest. “Good thing I am.”
Harry gulped, then reached out hesitantly, first touching Draco’s cheek, then cupping the back of his neck as he pulled him closer. “Draco,” he breathed, and felt the shudder run through Malfoy’s body, “would you like to come to my birthday party Saturday? As my date?”
Draco’s grey eyes fixed on him, then he have Harry a half-smile. “You really want me there?”
“As much as I want to kiss you right now, yeah,” Harry admitted.
“And how badly to you want to kiss me right now?” Draco whispered.
Harry closed his eyes, and drew his face in even closer. “Can I show you?”
Draco was silent for so long, Harry’s eyes opened to find the grey ones staring at him more intently than Harry had ever been looked at before. Draco’s mouth was in a firm line, and then a trembling hand came up, the pads of his fingers tracing Harry’s mouth. “You really have to ask?”
Harry nodded. “Fraid I do.”
“Then yes. You can show me. Any time you like, Harry. You can show me.”
Closing his eyes again, Harry drew him closer, so close their noses brushed together. Then he gave up waiting and closed the distance between them. It was sweeter, gentler, and more wanting than any kiss he’d ever had with anyone. In that kiss, his past and future were forgotten, and all that mattered were Draco’s lips on his, those slender fingers tugging at his shirt as Draco’s mouth opened easily, almost begging. Their tongues slid together and Harry’s head spun, and when he finally pulled away, locking gazes once more, he knew the truth.
Whatever Draco was, whatever he was going to be—it didn’t matter.
Harry was falling in love.
And he knew that more than likely, it would spell absolute disaster.
The most important part however, was how he really, really didn’t care.
The door slammed, the sound ringing through the expanse of the flat just before Draco was on him. Harry groaned deep in the back of his throat as he was crowded up against the door. The knob dug painfully into his hip, but he didn’t care. Not with those lips on his neck, those hands sliding under his shirt.
Harry lifted his fingers to Draco’s hair, mussing through, waving them in and out as Draco’s mouth opened in a slight gasp. His head lifted just slightly, grey eyes meeting green with an intensity Harry’s hadn’t experienced until now, and then his breath seemed to leave his body in a rush as Draco’s mouth claimed his.
He pushed forward, away from the door, and the pair didn’t break apart as they navigated through Draco’s barely-furnished flat, to the familiar bedroom. It had been a long while since Harry’d found himself there, and the smell of it was almost overwhelming. It went straight to his prick, making him go even stiffer than before. Pressing his erection against Draco’s thigh, he rocked his hips, gaining a moan from the other man.
“Christ, Harry,” Draco breathed, fisting his fingers in the back of Harry’s hair and tugging him away just slightly. “Are you sure about this?”
Harry blinked at him, dazed with lust, trying to regain his composure. “Why? Are you having second thoughts?”
“Merlin, no,” Draco said, and he grabbed Harry’s hand, pressing it to his own bulge. “I want you so fucking badly I can taste it. But you were so sure you didn’t want to do this again.”
“I’ve changed my mind,” Harry murmured, and Draco released his hair, and he dove right back into the kiss as he was shoved backward onto the bed.
It was a scrabble to remove clothes after that, hands flying and pulling and tugging. The moment they were naked, Draco was ripping back the duvet, shoving Harry back against the chilled sheets and pillows. He knelt between Harry’s legs, grabbing him by the calves and pressing a hot, slow, wet kiss to the inside of his thigh.
Harry’s eyes rolled back along with his head as Draco’s mouth crept higher, leaving a searing trail in its wake. He ghosted his lips across Harry’s balls, tongue darting out to taste just a little, just enough to make Harry groan and want, and push his hips up begging for more friction. He could feel the curve of Draco’s smile against his skin as he sucked hard at the space just between the hip and thigh.
“Fuck, Draco, please,” Harry begged.
Draco shifted, lifting one of Harry’s legs onto his shoulder, gripping the the other with one hand as his mouth moved toward the straining erection. It was so hard he was almost purple, the tip leaking, and Draco’s pink tongue darted out to taste it. His groan of pleasure led straight into Harry’s own noises, which became garbled and choked off as Draco’s mouth opened, and took him in.
Harry’s hands instinctively flew into Draco’s hair, gripping and tugging as Draco took him deeper, deeper—so deep his nose was almost buried in his coarse thatch of curls. He could feel Draco’s throat fluttering, constricting, his tongue laving him as he gave a good, hard suck, pulling away, then down along the hard length.
The sensation was almost too much, Harry desperate to come, but desperate for it not to be over just yet. He tugged on Draco’s hair until he moved off with a pop, and before the blonde could complain, Harry tugged him into a searing kiss.
“Want you,” Harry groaned.
“Yeah?” Draco asked. “How?”
“I…anything. Please I just…” Harry didn’t know how to articulate what he wanted, but luckily Draco seemed to know him well enough—at least this part of him. He reached out, fumbling into the drawer beside the bed, and pulled out lube and a small condom.
Positioning himself over Harry’s hips, Draco poured a dollop over two fingers, then looked Harry straight in the eye. “You want me to ride you?”
“Fuck,” Harry gasped, his prick twitching harder at the thought.
“I’ll take that as a yes,” Draco said with a smirk, then slapped the condom into Harry’s hand, and reached back to prepare himself.
The sight of that was almost erotic enough to send Harry over the edge as his shaking hands rolled the condom over himself, and he had to bite down on his lip, nearly hard enough to break the skin, just to keep control. Draco’s cheeks had pinked as he thrust his fingers in and out, and when he was ready, he shifted his hips.
Harry let out a slow hiss as he felt himself pushing against Draco’s entrance. The ring of muscle was tight, but Draco bore down, taking him in, inch by slow, languid inch. Harry’s hands fisted in the sheets so tight his knuckles ached, begging himself, willing himself to let it last. The heat was overwhelming, the tightness, the…everything.
Draco’s breath was coming in soft pants, ghosting over Harry’s face, and it wasn’t until their eyes locked that Harry was able to regain some of himself. His hand lifted slowly, gently as Draco was fully seated, and he cupped his lover’s face.
“Yeah,” Harry breathed, shifting his hips up slightly. “Fuck. Yes, just like that.”
Draco’s breath shuddered, then he reached out above Harry’s head, gripping the headboard for leverage. He shifted up onto his thighs, and began to thrust down. Then up, then down. Harry’s hands went for Draco’s hips, guiding his rhythm, their gazes one never breaking. Harry’s desire to kiss him was strong, almost overwhelming, but he didn’t want to lose the connection they had.
Harry’s hips began to speed up, his hands urging Draco faster, harder. One snaked down the blonde’s chest, through the barely-there curls on his chest, curling round his erection and stroking in time with the movements of his hips. Draco let out a groan, then, “Fuck yes, fuck...Harry.”
Harry’s hand sped up, and his hips snapped up as he decided it was time to let himself go. His free hand tugged on Draco’s neck, pulling him in for a searing kiss and he lost it. He let out a cry as he came, emptying himself inside of the blonde. Draco was seconds—if that—after, his hot seed spurting over Harry’s hand and chest.
When it was over, Draco eased himself off with a wince, falling onto his side as Harry tied the condom off, and aimed it at the bin. Draco had enough sense to reach for his wand, cleaning up the sticky mess with a wave and a mutter, and then he shifted onto the pillow next to Harry.
Warm arms came round his waist, and Harry nuzzled down, feeling more content than he had in a long, long time. “Shall I go?” he asked against Draco’s soft, sweat-soaked hair.
With a hum, Draco shook his head. “Don’t bother. We can have breakfast in the morning.”
Harry chuckled, and flicked off the light as Draco grabbed the duvet, and they settled in. Everything was as it should be, Harry reasoned his eyes closing. Whatever he’d been worried about earlier that evening ceased to matter. The only thing that did matter, was this.
With morning came a bit of ache, but no regret as Harry slowly came to. He’d been worried once the post-orgasm euphoria wore off, he’d start to feel it had all been a mistake. But as he peered up into grey eyes, he didn’t. Draco was leant up on one elbow, his hand drifting gently through Harry’s locks. His mouth curved into a small smirk.
“Morning,” Draco said, his voice still rough and sleep-thick.
Harry hummed and shifted onto his side slightly. “Have you been up long?”
Draco shook his head, his hand drifting lower, down Harry’s cheek, then up again. “No. Just a few minutes. I have work though, and several meetings I can’t be late for.”
“Is that your more polite way of telling me to bugger off?” Harry asked with a wry grin. “Instead of shoving my naked arse toward the fireplace.”
Draco had the decency to wince a bit. “It’s…I’m sorry.”
Harry stared. “Draco Malfoy just told me he’s sorry. Oh my god, hell has frozen over.”
“Sod off,” Draco said, but smiled all the same. His hand began to move through Harry’s hair again. “That was…nice. Last night. Nicer than it has been.”
Harry nodded. “I agree. And I meant what I said. If this is…if this is what it can be like between us, then I’d like you to meet my family.”
Draco’s smirk softened into a smile, and he glanced round Harry at the clock. “Bugger. I have to go.”
Harry reached out, laying one hand on Draco’s hip. “It’s fine. I’ve got practise this morning, and a few other things to sort out. But I’ll see you Saturday for sure.”
Draco’s hand drifted along Harry’s forehead, and for just a second, Harry swore his finger traced out the shape of a lightning bolt. For a moment, Harry didn’t think anything of it. It was something Ginny would do after the war.
In fact, Harry didn’t think anything of it until he was kissing Draco goodbye, and heading for the fire. When it hit him, it hit him like a tonne of bricks, and he turned to see Draco pulling up his boxers. “Er…Draco?”
The blonde turned, light eyes fixed on him. “Yeah?”
“I…” Harry shook his head. “Never mind. I’ll see you soon.”
Draco shrugged, then went back to his morning routine as Harry stepped into the fire, and stepped out at his own flat.
Surely it was just a fluke. The fire and the forehead could easily be coincidence. Draco had been tracing nonsensical patterns on him all morning, so there was no need to read into it.
Harry couldn’t shake the strange feeling in his gut.
He decided that after his practise, he’d have to see his dad. Hurrying back to the fire, he called out for James’ office, and his head popped into the fire. James was there, at his desk, looking frazzled and worn over a stack of parchment. He glanced up and looked mildly surprised to see his son there.
“Alright?” he asked.
Harry nodded. “Have you been at work all night again?”
James shrugged. “Yeah. Not on your thing though. On this illegal charm ring we can’t seem to get ahead of. Also someone from the Department of Mysteries says that some sort of magic only their Unspeakables can use has been detected, but they won’t tell me what the bloody hell I’m supposed to be looking for so…” He trailed off. “Sorry, boring stuff. Anything I can help you with?”
“I just…I wanted to talk about something strange I noticed. But it can wait. I have to head down to the stadium anyway. But maybe this evening?”
“Come by for dinner. Pops and I are watching Teddy for the evening whilst his parents have a double date together. He’ll be happy to see you.”
“Alright,” Harry said with a grin, feeling happy he might be able to sort this out and spend some time with the toddler. “See you then?”
“Have a good practise,” James said.
Harry pulled back, feeling a bit better, and a bit sheepish like maybe he was overreacting. There was no sense in accusing Draco without any evidence. And the more he thought about it, the more it sounded like paranoid nonsense.
Still, if he could talk to one person who wouldn’t judge him, it would be James Potter.
Feeling like a weight was off his shoulders, he hurried to get ready for the day.
Harry was tempted to floo right from the stadium, but instead made himself go home and wash up before heading to his parents’. He couldn’t shake a bit of paranoia, that Draco might just show up at his flat unannounced as he’d done before. Harry wasn’t afraid of Draco per se, only that he wasn’t sure he could resist him, and he needed to focus. He couldn’t lose sight of his questions if he was ever going to solve the locket, and the reasons why he was the only one who could remember anything at all.
Throwing on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, Harry jumped into the fire, and slipped out of the hearth. Stamping his feet on the rug, he banished the ashes, then headed straight for the kitchen where he could smell food cooking.
Stood at the cooker was Regulus, finishing up the night’s tea, and at the table sat Tilly with a petulant Teddy who she was trying to goad into eating what looked like steamed carrots. Harry sighed as he came over. “He hates carrots. The word carrots offends him.”
Tilly looked up, then smiled. “Oh look, uncle Haz is here to take over for me. Laterz!”
Before Harry could protest, Tilly was up on her feet and heading for the stairs. Regulus leant his head backward, calling after her, “Matisha you will not miss dinner tonight!”
“Yeah, yeah!” she called back, her footsteps pounding on the stairs.
Harry frowned over at Regulus. “What did you call her?”
Regulus snorted. “Oh. Your dad got me into that habit.”
“What…habit?” Harry asked.
“Your Indian names. You stopped using yours before Hogwarts but…”
Harry, who had been reaching for a carrot, froze. “Wait. Hang on, what Indian names?”
Regulus set the spoon down, and turned away from the food slowly. “Your…did you not know yours?”
“I didn’t have one,” Harry said. “I…no. My name’s just Harry.”
Regulus swiped his hand across his forehead. “I very much doubt even in your universe, you didn’t have one. Harry I…”
“What is it?” Harry asked, an eagerness blooming in his chest like he’d never felt. As a child growing up with the Dursleys, it was easy for them and all the neighbours to believe he was a delinquent. With his dark skin and Dudley’s ill-fitting clothes, he was easy to demonise. But he’d never questioned his background, his own race even. It wasn’t until he met Parvati that he even gave it a second thought, but everyone was dead. There was no one to teach him anything, show him anything. He’d never even seen a copy of his own birth certificate.
Regulus stared at him, then moved back to turn the gas off, put a lid on the pot, then took a seat next to Harry. “What don’t you know?”
Harry almost laughed, shaking his head. He pushed a carrot over to Teddy. “It’s cheese, kiddo. You like cheese, right?”
Teddy took the carrot in his hand, stared suspiciously at it, then shoved it into his mouth and gave both Harry and Regulus a very orange grin. Regulus laughed quietly. “I never thought of that.”
“Andromeda taught me that trick,” Harry said quietly. He pushed another carrot over to Teddy. “I know this is all so stupid. I mean, who doesn’t even know their own name, right? I feel like I…”
He went quiet when Regulus put a hand over his. “When you’re orphaned at a year old and you’re left with people like Lily’s family…” Regulus swallowed thickly, tightening his grip on his son. “No one expects anything unreasonable out of you.” He took a breath. “Your Indian name is Haripreet. Your dad picked it, Lily loved it. He wanted to give you and your sister something to connect you to your heritage, but also something that you could use you know…here. Because he knows how hard it is and he didn’t want either of you to have to deal with the way people are.”
“Right,” Harry said, blowing out a puff of air. He tried the name out carefully, frustrated when he couldn’t say it the way Regulus could. He couldn’t even pronounce his own name. “Haripreet.” He repeated it a few times.
Regulus gave him a pat on the arm. “Talk to your dad about it, alright? I mean, my family,” Regulus shook his head with a bitter laugh. “They came from Morocco, but quickly erased all cultural traces of who we were. Then again, I’m sure you’re at least partially acquainted with Walburga and her…views on the world.”
Harry’s face screwed up a little, and he shook his head at the memory of her horrible portrait. “Yeah. I had the misfortune of meeting her painting at Grimmauld Place.”
Regulus swallowed. “I heard you talking about having been there, but it still churns my stomach to think of you in that house.”
Harry looked at him. “Churns mine a bit to think you had to grow up there.” Harry leant his elbow on the table, putting his chin on his hand, and use his free one to push another carrot toward Teddy who was eating and behaving better than Harry anticipated he would. “This is all just so…frustrating. It was one thing being able to blame the Dursleys for me not knowing anything about who I was or my family or anything. But in this world I grew up with it, you know? I feel like an imposter in my own life.”
“That’s what your dad’s trying to solve,” Regulus said quietly.
Harry nodded. “I know. I just…Merlin it’s so frustrating. Right after the war, when I had time to calm down and distract myself, I started reading up on our family tree. About Fleamont and Euphemia. When the Poddars and the Peverells met. Where it all got…fuzzy,” Harry said, thinking of where several decades of records were missing. “But it was all just words in a book, you know? A few fuzzy photos of my grandparents and a handful of sentences about their miracle baby and how much they loved him. But nothing tangible. Nothing that connected me to who they were or who I might have been if…” Harry trailed off, now knowing who he would have been if James hadn’t died. And it wasn’t good.
“There’s time you know,” Regulus said. “You have time to find out.”
“Do I?” Harry asked, feeling uncertain now. “What if something happens and it’s all just gone? Or I wake up tomorrow in my old bed in my old flat with…with nothing.”
Regulus’ jaw tightened, and he rose, putting his hand on Harry’s shoulder. “I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’re going to do everything to prevent that. I promise.”
Harry nodded, then decided this was a conversation best left until after dinner. Instead of moping anymore, he turned back to Teddy who’d finished all of his carrots, and held out his hands. “You want to be a broom?”
“Boom!” Teddy cried, throwing out his hands.
Harry grabbed him up, and spun him, then flattened him out between his arms and began to fly him round the room like he was a Firebolt. He made zooming noises as Teddy giggled and kicked his little feet. Harry rushed through the kitchen, then into the lounge and nearly collided with James who was stepping out of the fire.
He gave a startled laugh, then swooped Teddy out of Harry’s arms, and kissed the toddler all over his cheeks. “Well well, look at you.”
“I fwy!” Teddy said, and made grabby hands back at Harry who took the boy back. “I fwy!”
Harry spun Teddy a few more times before letting him drop to the ground. He wobbled, a bit dizzy, but righted himself and toddled over to his lego where he plonked down and began to build.
Looking at his father, Harry offered a sheepish smile. “Bad day at work?”
“Oh, just had to finish up paperwork. I’m shattered, but glad you’re here.” James gave him a one-armed hug as he banished the ash from his robes. “Been here long?”
“Nah, just a little while. Re—er . Pops. Is cooking.”
James gave Harry a grin, even though he fumbled over the name. “Good. I’m going to change, and I’ll be right down. You want to talk before we eat or…?”
“Let’s have tea first,” Harry said, and James nodded before disappearing up the stairs.
With a sigh, Harry plonked himself down into the armchair near where Teddy was playing, and he leant forward, ruffling Teddy’s presently black curls. The toddler looked up at him, giving him a toothy grin before handing over a lego. “Gween.”
“Right in one, kid. Build me a castle, eh?”
Teddy nodded, then began to bash a couple of the lego together before abandoning them to the floor and crawling up into Harry’s lap. He rested his head against Harry’s chest, and Harry snuggled the boy close. “It all feels a bit mad, you know? You’re still my Ted, but everything else feels like it’s about to fall apart. What do I do, kiddo?”
Teddy looked up at Harry, then shoved a finger up his nose.
Harry laughed. “That’s your solution for everything,” he said as he pulled Teddy’s hand down.
Teddy grinned, then closed his eyes and in minutes, was fast asleep.
Harry curled his hand round the tea cup, staring down into the milky-brown liquid. His parents were on the sofa, James’ arm tucking Regulus close, and Harry was in the chair a little too near the fire for it to stay comfortable, but he had no plans to move.
They’d been sat in silence for a while, as Harry gathered his thoughts. Tilly had put Teddy to bed before heading out with a few of her friends, and now Harry had the floor. But he had no idea where to begin.
“I…” It was the second time he’d started to speak, and stopped again. He blew out air, then took a drink. “I think I might be starting to lose grip on reality.”
At that, James stiffened and leant forward a bit. “What do you mean?”
Harry glanced up, seeing the intensity on his father’s face, and he shrugged. “I don’t totally understand my life here, you know? I’m a person who lived a wholly different life and now I’m…I’m this. And I’m not connected to anything. And the other night I thought I saw…” He shook his head. “Something. And I’m not sure if my desperation to find someone who remembers something—anything—is getting to me, or if they really might have some connection to the other timeline.”
Licking his lips, James clasped his hands between his knees. “Can you give me something specific?”
Harry swallowed thickly. “You might not like it but…alright.” He scrubbed his free hand down his face, grimacing when his palm smudged his glasses. “I went on the date with Malfoy. That first one, and it went alright. So we agreed to see each other on Thursday.”
“Last night?” James clarified.
Harry nodded. “I chose this South Indian place, the one with the rooftop seating and the firepits?”
“I don’t know it, but alright,” James said, encouraging him.
“We were sat at the table and when the server came over and lit the fire, Malfoy sort of…panicked.”
Harry looked at James expectantly, but when his father didn’t react, he sighed. James looked immediately apologetic. “I’m sorry, Harry. I don’t understand.”
“Back in my…my time, or whatever, there was a fire. Fiendfyre.”
James sucked in his breath. “Someone cast that?”
“Trying to kill me, yeah,” Harry said. “It was one of Malfoy’s friends. He didn’t make it though, the fire killed him. I managed to save Malfoy, but only barely. And he…the way he reacted to the fire it seemed…” Harry shook his head. “He later explained that he’d caught his mum’s tapestry on fire when he was a kid, and it’s always made him uneasy around it.”
“That sounds fair,” James said.
“That’s what I thought,” Harry said, shaking his head. “I didn’t even really think twice about it. Only that night we erm. I stayed over there,” Harry felt his cheeks heat up, but neither of his parents’ face held any judgment. “In the morning we were talking and I swear he traced…” Harry lifted his finger, tracing the shape of a lightning bolt in the centre of his forehead.
James lifted his brow. “Your curse scar.”
Harry nodded. “Maybe it’s nothing. He might have just been tracing patterns, I don’t know. But it seems…odd.”
“I think,” James said slowly, “you ought to be careful with Malfoy. Not because I don’t trust him, but because this magic might affect other people without them knowing it. Or possibly…possibly there’s something he’s not telling you.” When Harry winced, James sighed. “We need to consider all angles here. When are you seeing him again?”
“I invited him to the party tomorrow,” Harry admitted. “It went well enough I thought it might be alright.”
“You’re welcome to have anyone you’re comfortable with, Harry. It’s fine.”
Licking his lips, Harry sat back and crossed his arms. “Hermione was clearly a dead-end, but maybe I didn’t consider the possibility that Malfoy knew what was happening or…I don’t…I don’t know.”
“What was Malfoy doing after the war?” James asked.
“No idea.” Harry let out a laugh which came out slightly bitter and frustrated. “I know that sounds mad but honestly, I didn’t keep tabs on him. I know he worked for the Ministry, but I was caught up in everything else.”
“That’s alright,” James said. “That’s good enough. Maybe I can chat with him, feel him out a bit. I’ll keep it casual, I promise,” he added at the alarmed look on Harry’s face. “I’m hoping by tomorrow I’ll have some idea of what we’re working with on the locket.”
Harry nodded. “Alright. And you don’t think I’m…you know? Losing my grip or anything.”
At that, James came round and knelt down by the arm of Harry’s chair. “No, son. I don’t think you’re losing your grip on yourself, or your reality. I think you’re in a position no other human being has ever been in before, and there’s only so much you can take. And I don’t think you’re wrong to be suspicious.”
Harry had a moment of appreciation for his father. For the utter reassurance because he’d spent so many years of his life trying to tell people to just listen to him, that he knew something bad was happening—and everyone minimising it. Keeping secrets. The fact that James was openly sharing what he knew, it meant the world to Harry.
“Thanks,” he muttered.
Regulus gave them both a soft smile, then rose and bent down to drop a kiss on the top of Harry’s head. “I’m off to bed. I have to get up before dawn to get to work on Remus’ potion. But I’ll see you tomorrow for your party.”
James rose taking a step back to kiss Regulus softly, then smiled as his husband made his way up the stairs. When he was gone, James looked back down at Harry. “Is there anything else you need?”
Harry frowned, then stood up suddenly and shoved his hand into his pocket. “Erm yeah. I was wondering if I could see my birth certificate.”
Harry felt his cheeks flush again. “Because I’ve never seen it. And I didn’t know I had an Indian name.”
Harry left hours later, his head and heart full after James had told him almost everything he’d ever wanted to know about his family, about his background. He told Harry about what it was like spending the summer hols in India, visiting the Wizarding villages there, and even spending some time at the schools. He told Harry about their own family traditions, about their holidays and festivals and the meaning of Harry’s name.
By the time he got back to his flat, he felt a new connection to this life. A renewed desperation to hang on to it. He wasn’t sure how he’d ever feel secure, but he was determined now. More than he’d ever been.
Saturday morning came with a light practise before his party, and Harry ran into Diggory in the corridor who grabbed him by the arm.
“Oy, I got an invite from your dad about your party tonight.”
Harry smiled. “Oh, yeah. Can you make it?”
Diggory looked mildly surprised, but shrugged. “Yeah I think so. I heard Krum’s coming too.”
Viktor hadn’t officially started his work as coach with the team yet, but Harry had seen him round a few times, and they’d exchanged polite nods. He hadn’t heard back from his dad whether or not Hermione had responded to the invite, so hearing they were going to attend made him feel a bit better.
“Might be shaping up to be a nice, proper party then,” Harry said.
Diggory chuckled. “Yeah, mate. Anyway, see you then?”
Harry nodded, and the two parted ways as he started off for the lobby. He was just rounding the corner when he caught sight of familiar robes, and he found himself breaking into a small jog, catching up with Hermione as she reached the welcome desk.
“Fancy seeing you here.”
She raised a brow, but quirked a smile. “Could say the same for you. Good catch the other game. Vik reckons you might be pulled from reserves next season if you keep that up.”
Harry flushed a bit with pride. “That would be nice, actually.”
“So erm. This birthday thing of yours tonight? I got the invite from your dad along with the letter of recommendation. You really want us there?”
Harry nodded. “I do. I should warn you though, Malfoy’s coming.”
Hermione pulled a face. “In that case…”
“I’d like for you to give him a chance,” Harry blurted. “Not saying you should get friendly, but he’s not the same twat he’s been either. And honestly a bunch of the Weasleys will be there. Ginny and Luna I think as well. It’ll be nice to catch up, and we still haven’t gone for that lunch.”
She sighed, but shrugged. “Alright, but one nasty word out of his ferrety mouth…”
“I’ll hex him myself,” Harry swore, putting his hand over his heart.
She laughed. “You’re an idiot. I’ll see you tonight.”
He grinned widely at her as he gave her a mock salute, and backed up toward the door. “See you then!”
Harry was just slipping his jumper over his head when there was a knock at the door. With a frown, he padded over and threw it open, his eyes going wide at the sight of Draco stood there in robes. Blinking, the blonde took a step back. “Hang on, is this a muggle party or…?”
“No,” Harry said, stepping aside out of shock more than anything, “everyone’s wizard. Why?”
Draco stepped in, giving Harry’s outfit a slow look up and down. “Should I change?”
“I don’t think anyone will care,” Harry said. He shut the door, and the moment it clicked, he was suddenly crowded back against the wall, Draco’s hands in his hair. “Malfoy I…”
“Back to Malfoy, is it?” Draco asked, his lips brushing over the cut of Harry’s jaw. “Does this void my invite?”
Harry gulped, shaking his head. His suspicions were still floating round the back of his mind, but with Draco’s hands on him, all he could think about was wanting, and kissing, and touching more. He turned his face, only to find his lips occupied by the other man’s. It was a soft, slick push and pull, the careful caress of tongues as Harry’s hands went to Draco’s hips, groaning as Draco’s leg slipped between his knees and hitched upward.
“Fuck,” he gasped.
“I thought I’d give you one of your presents a bit early,” Draco said, then sank to his knees as Harry’s eyes went wide. Long, slender fingers fumbled with his button, and the zip on his jeans. He tugged them down, along with Harry’s boxers, over his hips and let them pool at his ankles.
Harry let out an obscene groan as Draco leant in, hot, humid breath ghosting along his rapidly hardening prick. He couldn’t help himself from digging one hand into Draco’s hair, urging him forward as he watched. Draco glanced up, his grey eyes meeting Harry’s with mirth and desire as his pink lips parted.
His tongue darted out, licking the precum at the tip, then suddenly he was taking Harry all the way in. He groaned, Harry feeling the vibrations of that all the way down to his toes as Draco sank lower and lower until he had taken him fully in. Harry’s head lolled back, smacking painfully against the wall, but he didn’t care. He had his hand still buried in Draco’s hair as he urged a faster rhythm, his hips canting slightly, desperate for more friction.
Draco started sucking hard as he pulled off, then sank down, then pulled off again. Harry was reaching his climax fast, and he glanced down just as his balls tightened and he spilt all over Draco’s tongue. A hiss escaped his lips as their gazes connected, and after a long moment, his knees shaking, Draco released him with a small pop.
Swiping the back of his hand across his mouth, Draco rose, then leant in for a kiss. Harry didn’t hold back, twinning their tongues together as his hand drifted to Draco’s front. They fumbled with a few buttons, then slipped inside Draco’s robes and into his pants to fist him.
Draco sucked in his breath, burying his face in Harry’s neck as the seeker stroked him, firm and sure, the right amount of pressure until… “Fuck oh god, Harry I’m…” He came, the hot liquid spurting over Harry’s knuckles, and he gripped Harry’s hips as he shuddered against him.
Placing a hot, wet kiss on Harry’s neck, Draco pulled back with a smirk, looking fuck-stupid and ridiculously pleased. “Happy birthday.”
Harry snorted as he reached for his wand, casting a charm to clean up the mess, then he dragged his hand back through Draco’s hair in an attempt to put it right again. “You can say that again.”
“How about I say a lot more after the party?” Draco said.
Rolling his eyes, Harry shoved him back. “We’ll see. I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves.”
With a small pout, he followed Harry into the lounge as Harry searched for his shoes. He was hesitant and almost shy, so Harry quirked a brow at him.
“I just…” Draco reached into his pockets, then pulled out a small, square box wrapped in gold paper. “It’s a present. I wanted to give it to you before erm…anyone else was there.”
Harry took it, feeling something welling in his chest. And maybe he knew what that was, but he didn’t want to say it. Not yet. Not now. Not when he didn’t know. Tearing at the wrapping, he revealed a small, wooden box, and under the lid sat a small gold fob watch sat on a small bed of black velvet.
“You can look at it later,” Draco said, closing his hand round Harry’s wrist. “I’m sure you got one when you turned seventeen but I thought you might like this.”
Harry reached into the box anyway, popping the top. It looked muggle, for all that it was shining and ticking softly with the seconds hand. The inside was a soft cream colour, the roman numerals shining black against the background. He shut it and turned it over, small intricate designs along the back. “It’s gorgeous,” he said, and slipped it back into the box, pulling Draco over for a soft kiss. “Thank you.”
Draco blushed, and shrugged. “It’s not…I mean. It’s just something I thought you could get some use out of.”
Harry wasn’t sure if Draco was trying to insult his timing or what, but he didn’t have time to ask. They were due at the party any minute, and Harry decided they should Apparate. “Just hang on to me, yeah?”
Draco wound an arm round Harry’s waist and grinned. “I trust you.”
Harry rolled his eyes, but felt his gut flutter again before turning on the spot, and Apparating away.
In a way, Harry was grateful the party was well underway when they arrived. Several of the Weasleys were there, including Molly and Arthur, along with Ginny and Luna who were chatting to Tilly over bottles of butterbeer. Half of Harry’s team had also showed up, as were Hermione and Viktor who were having a nice chat with James.
Regulus, who was just levitating a tray of some sort of appetiser, caught Harry’s eye when he walked in, and he smiled. His gaze lingered on Draco for a moment, and the pair nodded to each other before Regulus went back to his business.
“I forget the pair of you are related. Does that make what we’re doing weird?” Harry asked.
Draco snorted. “You forget how interbred my family is. And you’re not blood related, so…” He shrugged. “Frankly I don’t give a shit, if we’re being honest.”
Harry couldn’t help a small laugh. “Yeah alright. Anyway I should probably go mingle or…something. You want to tag along?”
“Actually I want to say hello to the Krums,” Draco said. “I still can’t get over him marrying Granger, but Viktor and I kept in touch after the Tournament.”
Harry blinked, though he wasn’t entirely surprised. “Well be nice to Hermione. I swore you’d changed.”
Draco pulled a face, but when Harry refused to lower his gaze, his shoulders sank. “Fine. I’ll be on my best behaviour.”
Harry smiled, then watched him amble off before moving through the lounge to find Ron and George who were having a rather enthusiastic conversation with Cedric about the latest game. Harry nodded his hello, and just before he could interject himself into the conversation, a small set of arms grabbed his leg. He glanced down to see Teddy staring up at him, making grabby hands.
Harry laughed, swinging the boy up, then onto his hip. “Are you having fun at the party?”
Teddy, who had his dummy in his mouth, nodded, then laid his head on Harry’s shoulder. Harry knew the boy wasn’t overly fond of big crowds, so he held him tight. When he glanced at the three other men, he raised a brow.
“What?” Harry asked.
“What?” George echoed.
“Potter’s cuddling a child,” Cedric replied, staring at Harry. “Have I gone mad?”
Harry flushed, then shrugged and tightened his grip. “I like this one, alright?”
Just then, Sirius came round the corner, looking a bit flustered, but relaxed when he saw Harry was holding his boy. “Got away from me,” Sirius said, sliding up to them. “When did you get here? You want me to take him?” Sirius attempted to pull him away, but Teddy whinged and clung tighter.
“He’s fine,” Harry said. “Why don’t you go mingle and feel like a proper human for a bit.”
Sirius raised a brow, but shook his head and ruffled Teddy’s curls. “Fine. But come and find me in a bit. This is your birthday, you’re supposed to be celebrating.”
“I am,” Harry insisted, and bounced the boy just a bit.
As Sirius moved away, Cedric shook his head. “Well something has frozen over. Hell or…I don’t know what. Wait til the lads see you.”
Harry huffed, but George then took his arm. “You want to take me out for a smoke?”
With a grin, Harry moved away, leading George through the throng of people, into the kitchen where Fleur was ordering Tonks to step away from the food, and to the back door. “Oh!” Tonks said. “Harry, you want me to take him?”
“No,” Harry said again. “We’re going to have a nice walk outside for a bit whilst Uncle Georgie has a smoke.”
“Keep him away from it,” Fleur ordered.
“Swear I will,” Harry promised, then slipped outside with his friend. The moment the door closed, George’s shoulders sagged and he released Harry to dig into his pocket.
When he had the cigarette lit, the smoke falling from his mouth, he sighed. “You know, I don’t mind parties, but they get overwhelming. So many people, no idea what’s going on. Half the time everyone forgets to let me in on things. No bloody idea who I’m talking to.”
Harry swallowed. “I’m sorry, mate. I can’t even imagine.”
“I’m used to it, but it gets aggravating. Would have stayed home except it was my favourite Alternate Universe Alien’s birthday.”
“I’m not an alien, and this is my Universe,” Harry argued. Teddy wriggled out of Harry’s arms and when he was put down, he ran off into the grass. Harry used his wand to shoot out glowing sparkles for the boy to chase.
“I’m only taking the piss, you know,” George said, reaching for Harry’s arm. They moved into the grass, then took a seat. “Are you really bothered?”
“It comes and goes. It’s still really strange not to have any memories of this. And I forget most of the people don’t actually know, and they think I’m still this great twat who hates my godfathers and muggleborn mum.”
George pulled a face as he took in a long drag. “Sounds shite, mate. But you’re getting by.”
“And Ron did mention you brought Malfoy, so I guess that all worked out.”
Harry scrubbed his hand down his face, then shot more sparks for Teddy as he giggled and ran in circles. “I think so. I don’t even know, really. He’s…different with me, and I don’t totally understand it. Sometimes I wonder if it’s all some game to him. And sometimes I wonder…” Harry stopped, not wanting to voice his suspicions aloud. “Well anyway, I don’t know. I reckon it just is what it is. It would figure I’d fall in love with some git like him.”
“In love,” George echoed. “Mate that sounds…rough.”
Harry laughed. “Suppose it is a bit. I suppose it is.”
Several hours later, several beers, and loads of food, most of the guests had gone home. Tonks and Fleur took Teddy, and Remus and Sirius called it an early night. Tilly left with a few of her mates to enjoy the last of her summer hols, and the team had been the last to go, just after George and Ron.
All that was left was Malfoy, Viktor, Hermione, and Harry’s parents.
“Harry,” Draco said near Harry’s ear, “Viktor’s invited us out for drinks if you’d like to go.”
Harry raised a brow, and reached over to curl his arm round Draco’s waist. “I’m shattered. I think I’m going to pass.” When Draco pouted, Harry couldn’t help but put a kiss on the corner of his mouth. “Look, you go on, okay? And I’ll floo you tomorrow. I’m going to sit with my dads a bit, then head home.”
“What if I come by yours after?” Draco said, low and in his ear. “I won’t be too late.”
Harry shrugged, his very being not wanting to say no to the prospect of waking up next to Draco again. Breakfast and languid morning sex. He shivered. “Yeah, alright. I’ll set my wards.”
Draco palmed his cheek and kissed him before catching up to the Krums, and before long, they had gone. With a sigh, Harry looked over at his smirking fathers, and rolled his eyes.
“Not a word,” he ordered.
James laughed. “I wasn’t going to. I am, however, going to kick you out. I want to shag your pops before bed, and I’m an old man now so I can’t stay up too late.”
“That’s disgusting,” Harry moaned.
“Not nearly as disgusting as the little display I saw earlier,” referring to the kiss. “Tomorrow though, right?”
Harry nodded as he gathered up the few sacks of his gifts, and made for the floo. “I’ll be here. Just owl me with the time.”
He exchanged hugs with both parents, then stepped into the fire, and out again at his place. Banging his stuff on the sofa, he glanced down at the small box still sat on his table, and he picked it up. Tipping the watch into his hand, he slowly made his way back to the bedroom to dress down for the night.
He skipped everything but boxers, in a vain hope Draco wouldn’t be too pissed when he got in, and he sat on the edge of his bed. There was something about the watch that was intriguing. Something he couldn’t put his finger on. At first glance it was an ordinary fob watch, but when he touched it…
He couldn’t quite describe what he felt. Not quite magic but…something. Turning it over in his hand, he popped it open again and stared at the hand ticking round the face. Nothing out of the ordinary there. He closed it once more, then spun it in his hand, and suddenly he noticed it. A small depression in the back.
Pushing his thumb into it the back clicked open. Harry expected to see the innards of the watch itself, but instead was something else. Another face, but the hands on this one weren’t moving. And at the bottom were three small, scrolling bits of metal with numbers, almost like a date. Day, month, year.
The second thing he noticed was a small bit of parchment that was stuck to the backside. He pulled it off, and opened it. It was the tiniest note in familiar handwriting, that read a date and the message, ‘Trust me.’
Harry blinked, then laughed. He toyed with the little buttons, scrolling them to 24/2/95.
When he did, suddenly the little metal pieces sank into the watch with a click, and the hands suddenly began to tick down the time. He stared, but when nothing happened, he shrugged and closed it. Probably a sort of gag gift or something. Clenching it in his hand, Harry leant back against his pillows and closed his eyes.
It was late, and he was exhausted, thinking about dozing off before Draco arrived…
And then it happened. The sudden feeling like he was sinking. Then the watch in his hand grew hot. Searing hot. He swore, but his entire body seemed frozen, stuck to the pillows, and the world began to spin. Before Harry could do anything…everything stopped…
…and he woke with a gasp. Scrambling up, Harry’s breath came in heavy pants as he struggled to open his eyes. Everything was blurry, and he realised his glasses weren’t on his face. Then he realised he wasn’t where he ought to be. He was most definitely not in his bed, and most definitely not in his flat.
There was a sudden sound of someone groaning, and Harry fumbled round until he reached a bedside table. Hands reaching, he found his glasses and shoved them on his face.
Nothing in the world could have prepared him for what he was about to see. Red and Gold draperies, five four-poster beds, and the fact that his body was now shorter, and thinner, and ganglier than it had been in years.
He glanced to the side and recognised the familiar, tousled head of Ron Weasley as he sat up. But not just Ron Weasley. Fifteen year old Ron Weasley.
Harry blinked, and then swore. “Bloody hell. I’m at fucking Hogwarts.”
How could I do this to you?
I'm sorry. I swear the last chapter will be updated soon.
Harry swiped his hand across his brow, having broken out into a cold sweat. Part of him was sure this was a dream. It had to be a dream. How could this be happening. To his left, Ron groaned and punched his pillow, burying his face in it.
“Bloody hell, where’s the fire?” Ron mumbled. “It’s too early.”
Gulping, Harry scrambled from the bed, staring down at his skinny legs in pyjamas he’d never seen before. Were it not for the searing cold of the stone floor beneath his feet, he would have thought this wasn’t reality. This was…
He closed his eyes, sucking air in through his nose and letting it out through his mouth. “Okay,” he breathed, ignoring a groan from his left which looked—from the blonde, touselled hair—to be Neville Longbottom. “Okay,” he said again. He just had to think. His brain was fuzzy, like he’d been sucked through a straw and spat back out again, but he’d been doing…what? Something?
He’d been waiting for Malfoy.
The fob watch!
Harry scrambled back onto the bed, tearing at the sheets and duvet until his hand clasped round the cool metal. He flopped down, turning it to the back and prodding it with his fingers, but the little depression in the casing had gone. However he’d opened it before, it wasn’t working like that now.
Clutching it tight in his hand, he squeezed and opened the front. The face was the same. Everything about it was the same, except it no longer held the secret compartment with the other bits.
Swallowing, he glanced round and tried to work out what was happening. He was in Gryffindor Tower. Neville was there, and Ron. Dean and Seamus as well. So was he back home? Had the watch somehow thrown him back into his time?
“What the fuck,” he muttered to himself.
At that, Ron lifted his head. “Mate, I swear to Merlin’s saggy left one I will hex you stupid if you don’t shut up. We don’t have classes today, and I want to lie in!”
Harry blinked, babbling the first thing that came to his mouth. “Why don’t we have classes?”
“God, did you get into the firewhiskey again?” Ron complained over a groan from Dean’s bed. “The second task. We all get to skive off and watch the tasks.”
Harry licked his lips, realising the date he’d set. Fuck. Fourth year. The Twi-Wizard tournament. The twenty-fourth had been the day he’d gone into the lake to rescue Ron. Which meant he wasn’t in his own timeline because Ron was in his bed, and Harry wasn’t being pounced on by Dobby. It meant he wasn’t even a champion.
Scrambling from his bed again, he fumbled round for robes, finding a rumpled set along with his trainers near his bed. His trainers fit perfectly, meaning there was a damned good chance he was in Other Harry’s timeline. The watch had just what…? Sent him back?
But it wasn’t a time turner. Time turners sent people back as they were so this had to be…?
Bloody fuck, he had no idea.
But he had recalled one, very important thing about this timeline—Remus and Regulus were both professors. They wouldn’t know about him, wouldn’t know about the timeline alteration, but they might believe him. If he had the watch, if he had some sort of proof…
Swallowing and saying a prayer to every deity he could think of, he rushed out into the common room, bypassing a few people near the fire, and out the portrait hole. He got halfway down the fifth floor corridor when he realised he had absolutely no idea where Remus or Regulus was actually staying. Regulus was Slytherin Head of House—or so he hoped and assumed he was by now, and he knew where the dungeons were, but he had no clue where the professors actually slept.
He was pacing, gripping his hair painfully when a throat behind him cleared.
Harry spun, and his eyes fell on McGonagall who looked far less than amused to see him stood there. “Ah. I erm…”
“Far be it from me to scold you for being out of bed early for once, but what exactly are you doing?”
Harry scrubbed a hand down his face. “Miner—” he stopped himself when her eyes went wide. “Professor. I’m having a sort of…personal emergency. I really serious one and I need to see erm. Professor…my Professor uh. Dad.” He realised he didn’t know which name Regulus carried, and he was probably far safer bet than Remus was, if Harry was already showing signs of anti-werewolf behaviour.
“Your professor dad?” McGonagall repeated.
“Please, Professor. It’s…I really really need him and I don’t know where his quarters are,” he begged and pleaded with the Universe that it wouldn’t be something he should have known. “I’m kind of in the middle of a complete breakdown and I really, really need him.”
McGonagall gave him a severe look. “I will show you to his quarters, but I can assure you if you are up to any sort of mischief to upset his house…”
“I swear on the future of my Quidditch career,” Harry said. He took a breath, realising his heart was thumping, and suddenly felt a bit faint. He reached out, steadying himself on the wall, and a moment later felt her hand grip his elbow.
“Perhaps you need the hospital wing, Mr Potter.”
“No,” Harry gasped, shaking his head. “Really no I need my dad.”
McGonagall looked mildly confused, which could be the fact that Harry had resented his parents in this timeline, and likely didn’t refer to him by any parental epithets. But he didn’t care right then. It was an emergency, and it was possibly life-or-death. He’d just got used to being in a totally different timeline, and now this? Now he was bloody-fucking fourteen years old back at Hogwarts all over again?
His mind travelled to Malfoy, but there was no way a teenaged Malfoy would have any idea about the watch. If this had been some sort of ploy…
But then again, Draco had asked him to look at the present later. Maybe he’d intended on explaining it.
Or, a small voice whispered in his ear, maybe he was up to something terrible, and this was all part of his plan.. Although, Harry couldn’t work out what the point of this was. In this Universe, there were no Death Eaters. Voldemort was properly dead, and he wasn’t even in the tournament. It made no sense.
Harry realised they were already walking, down stairs, down toward the dungeons. They bypassed the entrance to the Slytherin Common Room which Harry remembered from his second year, and she paused by a tapestry. Pulling it to the side, she turned to him. “Not a word about this to anyone. Do I make myself clear?”
Harry nodded sagely as he followed her under the tapestry, and down a narrow corridor. He felt dizzy again, though he couldn’t tell if it was from the time travel, or from the sheer panic of it all. Gripping the wall tightly, Harry came to a halt when Minerva paused in front of a heavy, wooden door, and knocked.
Several moments passed, then Regulus, clad in a blue dressing gown, opened the door. His eyebrows immediately went up at the sight of Harry, and his mouth pursed into a thin line. “Minerva, good morning. What has my wayward son got up to so early?”
“Actually, Regulus, he says he needs to see you. It’s an emergency. And I’ll confess he seems sincere. In fact, he very nearly fainted in the corridor.”
Harry swallowed, his hands trembling as he looked up at his father, and he saw an expression of concern cross Regulus’ face. So far so good, at least. He wasn’t being turned away.
“Harry?” Regulus said carefully. “Are you alright?”
“I don’t erm…I don’t think so,” Harry said. His voice shook more than he wanted it to. He was starting to feel fourteen again, which was not good. “Can I…can we…”
“Have you taken something?” Regulus asked immediately, reaching out to take Harry by the arm. “A potion, or eaten anything strange or…?”
“No,” Harry said from behind a breath.
Regulus’ gaze cut to McGonagall. “I’ve got it from here. I’ll see him to the tournament or the Hospital Wing, whichever he needs.”
McGonagall seemed vaguely reluctant to let Harry go, but backed away as Regulus shut the door and gestured to the sofa. Harry gulped, taking a seat, and reached into his pocket to clutch the fob watch tightly. His fingers ached with the grip, but it was the one thing keeping him grounded. His chest felt like it wanted to heave, like he wanted to cry.
Christ he was starting to actually feel fourteen again, and he bloody well knew he only wanted to live that age once. Taking a breath, he stared at his father who came to stand nearby.
“You should probably start from the beginning.”
Harry licked his lips, then shook his head. “If I did that, you’d floo dad and have me committed to St Mungo’s. I think I just…” He pulled the watch out of his pocket and held it out, letting it dangle from his fingers by the chain. “Does this mean anything to you?”
Regulus stared, then lifted a brow. “Is this a joke?”
“No,” Harry said in a rush. “I…it was a gift. And last night it… I…” He shook his head. “Jesus fuck.”
“Harry, you may not like me very much right now, but I am still your parent and you will refrain from using that kind of language,” Regulus scolded.
Harry felt his cheeks go hot with the reprimand and he nodded. “I’m sorry. I just…this whole thing is so barmy.” Covering his face with one hand, he groaned. “I’m not supposed to be here. I’m…I don’t even know where I’m supposed to be. I was just getting the hang of this new life, then I wake up here? I’m not sure what cruel irony thought this would be funny.”
“You’re not talking sense. Are you sure you haven’t eaten anything you shouldn’t have? Maybe one of the Twins gave you something.” Regulus finally took a seat next to Harry, and pressed the back of his hand to Harry’s forehead.
“It’s not a fever. Last night I got into my bed as a twenty year old man. I opened up my watch, fiddled with the device inside, and now I’m here. Bloody well fourteen years old!”
Regulus lifted a brow, then sighed. “I really don’t have time for this.”
“Look,” Harry said, staring round the room wildly, “you’re the Potion’s master! Surely you have some stock of Veritaserum in your possession! Give it to me, I’ll prove it.”
Regulus’ cheeks went pink, and he stood up. “Alright, I’ve had enough. Harry, I let you get away with a lot more than I should have, but this is out of line. You will not come into my quarters for whatever prank your mates might think is funny. I’m meant to be down by the lake already and this is just going to delay me further.”
“If you’re still in distress,” Regulus said, gripping Harry by the arm and hauling him up, “we can speak about it after the task. Am I clear?”
Again, feeling oddly like a scolded teenager who hadn’t lived twenty years, who hadn’t fought in a war and killed a sodding Dark Lord, nodded miserably. His chest hurt, the urge to cry even stronger, and he didn’t fight as his father manoeuvred him to the door and shoved him out.
“I trust you can find your way back? And if I catch wind of you mucking about with the Slytherins on the way…I won’t hesitated to take as many house points as I need to so you learn your lesson.”
“Yes, sir,” Harry muttered.
At that, Regulus looked mildly concerned, but still shut the boy out into the corridor. Harry let out a frustrated growl, turned and kicked the wall, then rushed back down the way McGonagall had showed him. Luckily he didn’t run into any students on the way, and by the time he made it to the Great Hall, he found his friends all sat at the table having a spot of breakfast.
He could see the Durmstrang Students, and the ones from Beauxbatons already eating, and his stomach squirmed. In his own time, this would be the moment he would have been waking up. Nearly too late, still out of luck until Dobby shoved the Gillyweed at him.
Harry took a seat next to Ron whose mouth was full up with toast. “Mate,” he said thickly, “where the hell were you?”
“I had to see my dad,” Harry muttered, grabbing a goblet of pumpkin juice, desperately wishing it was something a lot stronger. His head turned round so he could scan the Slytherin table across the room, but the blonde he’d been hoping to see was suspiciously absent.
“Did you just…call Professor Black your dad?” Dean asked with a snicker.
Harry blinked. “Um. Reckon I did.”
Harry shrugged. “Well he is, inne?”
“Yeah but…” Dean went quiet when Ron kicked him in the shin.
“Plotting something?” Ron asked.
Harry sighed, shaking his head. He was fourteen and already a little twat, and that was a problem. He knew neither of his parents would believe him, and as his eyes scanned the staff table, finding Remus who wasn’t looking anywhere near him, he knew it was well past the age his other godfather would offer him any help.
He’d have to sort this on his own. The only chance he had was hoping that whatever the hell the fob watch was, it was something Malfoy’d had for a long time. Perhaps a family heirloom or something. It might be dangerous to ask him, but it was his only shot.
Should he go to James about this, likely he’d have it taken away from him and he couldn’t risk it. Not when it could open up at any time. He didn’t want to miss a single opportunity to get back to his own time.
Licking his lips, Harry grabbed a bit of toast before the start of the task was announced. Dumbledore instructed all students to head down to the lake, and Harry filed out with his mates, still looking round for the Slytherin who might have the answers.
It was cold, Harry frustrated that he didn’t have his scarf, so he grabbed a stick on the way and transfigured it. He ignored the shocked, impressed looks from his mates—forgetting for a moment he was supposed to be fourteen, not a too-seasoned twenty year old man. It didn’t matter right now though, and his friends carried on with their conversation, letting him lag behind.
It was strange to see this all set-up the way it was. The same as he’d seen before. Viktor, Cedric, and Fleur were already in the lake, stood waist high as they waited for instruction. Harry hurried along with the rest of his mates for a good place to stand. His eyes scanned the crowd, and just before he gave up with a sigh, he spotted him.
Draco was with his own housemates, looking cold and annoyed with a beanie shoved over his head, and a scarf wrapped nearly to his mouth. But there was no mistaking him. Nearby Regulus stood, keeping a watch on his house, and not far from that was Remus who was chatting quietly to Sinstra. Harry let out a sigh, and wondered how he could get Draco on his own.
He didn’t know exactly when he and Malfoy had become proper mates, so he wasn’t sure how outrageous it would be for him to stroll up and ask for a word. Scratching the back of his head, he knew he’d have nearly an hour to sort it out. If it all went the way it did before, Fleur would be up first, having given up after the Grindylows attacked. Diggory would be first up with Cho, and Krum last with Hermione.
Harry glanced at Ron, trying not to envision his own participation, and seeing Ron floating underwater—lifeless. It had all been part of the show, of course. And right now he felt vaguely grateful he wasn’t part of the tournament now. He was entirely sure there was no way he could handle that pressure along with all of this.
“…thinking we could sneak down and get one after this, eh?”
Harry blinked, realising Ron was speaking to him. “Er. Sorry, what?”
“Where the hell’s your head, mate?”
“Where’s it ever?” came a familiar voice. Harry glanced up to see both Fred and George sliding up to them. George’s scars looked much more fresh than the last time Harry had seen them. Then he remembered George’s accident was only the year before. Which meant he was a year behind Fred now. Not that it seemed to bother either of them. Both were grinning, Fred holding a box of something, George leaning on the handle of his cane. “You lads interested in purchasing anything we’ve got?”
“No one’s daft enough to buy that shite,” Ron snarked, shoving the box away.
Harry laughed. “Just you wait. They’re going to be bloody rich the moment they’re out of this school.”
Both Twins raised a brow, and Fred clapped him on the shoulder. “That’s the spirit. How about you, eh? Half-off. Friendly discount, call it.”
“Nah mate, I’m alright,” Harry said, remembering that even though he wouldn’t have the winnings, he would still front the them half the money they’d need for their premises in the future. “You d’you reckon’s going to win?”
“My money’s on Krum,” George said as he slid a little closer to Harry. Suddenly there was a hand on the small of Harry’s back, and he was reminded that he and George had…but oh Merlin was that now? Already? The hand travelled up to Harry’s arm, and he let out a breath of relief. “They’ve had a lot of practise with spells Lupin won’t even let us touch yet.”
Harry shrugged. “I’m betting Diggory. And that Fleur doesn’t finish.”
Just then, the champions were sent off. They watched each of them perform their charms—Krum still choosing to go with his badly transfigured shark head. Diggory with the bubblehead charm, and Fleur with her own. They were gone, and Harry knew it would be ages before anything else happened.
George tipped his head low. “Mate, I could really use a fag and a break from Fred. He’s hovering again. Walk with me?”
“Yeah, alright,” Harry said. If he and George were a thing, he didn’t want to encourage it, but it was an excuse to possibly get near Malfoy which he wanted to do. The rest of the group were engrossed in their conversation, and although Fred caught them sneaking off, he didn’t make a move to follow.
When they were far enough away, George let out a groan. “Thanks. I owe you. He’s been a right pain in the arse with all this. I’m never going to figure anything out for myself if he doesn’t let up.”
“He just cares,” Harry said. “And besides, I can tell you for a fact, you’ll be fine in six years.”
“Oh yeah? Seer now, are you?” George asked as they casually edged toward the back of the crowd. Professors were watching everyone, but not nearly close enough that they couldn’t slip away. And honestly, Harry could do with a fag of his own.
“You could say that,” Harry said.
“Well usually you just tell me to tell the prick to fuck off. What’s got into you this morning?”
Harry flushed, then sighed as they managed to find their way behind a couple of trees. He could still see the crowd of people, but they were blocked enough so that if a professor looked over, they wouldn’t get caught.
“It’s been a really messed up morning, that’s all. But you can tell him to fuck off.”
“Tried it already. Twice this morning. Didn’t work. Instead he just put reading charms on all my books instead of the braille ones I’m meant to be using.”
“And that’s…bad?” Harry asked.
George huffed. “If I’m ever going to learn, it is. But whatever.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out two cigarettes, holding one out for Harry to take. He had a muggle lighter as well, and passed it to Harry when he was done. “You want to talk about your shit?”
“Not really,” Harry said through a lungful of smoke. “Had a weird row with my dad this morning. And somehow I need to get Malfoy on his own.”
“Oh you’re not still on about that, are you?” George asked.
“Mate, it was a dumb game. Let it go, he doesn’t fancy you. He was taking the piss.”
Harry’s eyes widened. “Ah well. It’s…about something else, but that might actually help.”
“It’s only going to cause another hexing war, and you’ll lose us the rest of the house points,” George said.
Harry laughed. “You’re telling me you actually care about the house points?”
George shrugged and grinned round his cigarette. “No, but you know you’ll never hear the end of it.”
“I’ll be careful,” Harry said, giving no fucks about whatever his other self had going on with the Slytherins. “You think you could cause a distraction, just so I could get him alone?”
George brightened at the suggestion. “You’re asking the right man, you know.”
Harry laughed, “Yeah. I know.”
When they’d finished, the champions were still nowhere near returning, so George suggested they creep up near the Slytherins. “I’ve got this,” he said, reaching into his pocket and displaying a small, round bit of something silver. “Trust me, it explodes. That should give you enough time.”
“Alright. My dad’s there though, he’ll probably think I’m up to something so I won’t have much time,” Harry said, squeezing George’s arm a bit.
“It is weird, you calling him dad,” he pointed out.
Harry felt his cheeks get hot. “Yeah well, I guess I can be a bit of a twat, can’t I?”
George’s footsteps stuttered a bit. “Well I wasn’t going to say it but…”
“Listen,” Harry said in a rush, “I probably won’t even remember this conversation at some point, but just…be aware that some day, like six years into the future, I won’t be such an arse. Can you do that?”
George snorted, squeezing Harry’s arm back. “I think I can. I won’t make any promises, though.”
It was good enough for Harry, who headed with his friend over to the group of Slytherins. “Mind your eyes,” George muttered, and Harry covered them as he threw the small bit of whatever it was, into the centre of the group.
As promised, it exploded into a shower of sparks and shapes, and George let Harry go so he could rush up to the blonde who was brushing some of the glittery stuff off his robes. Harry grabbed his arm, and yanked him back amid the chaos.
“Potter?” Draco spluttered, “What the fuck?”
“I need to speak with you,” Harry growled.
Draco yanked himself away, glowering. “We have been over this. The other day was…”
Harry ripped the fob watch from his pocket, and flashed it at Draco. It had the reaction Harry had been all-but desperate for. Draco took a fumbling step back. “Where did you get that?”
Harry lifted his chin, and as Malfoy made a grab for it, he shoved it back into his pocket. “We can discuss it later. Tonight, in private. Er…somewhere.”
Draco looked pale, but he nodded. “I’ll send you a note. And if this is some sort of trick, if I find out you’ve been into my things I swear to Merlin…”
“Trust me, you’re going to enjoy this story.” Harry was just noticed by his father then, and he hurried back over to George who’d just been given a detention. He touched his friend on the shoulder, then when George took his arm, they hurried off back to the other Gryffindors.
“Well?” George demanded.
“Success. At least phase one. I’ll let you know how the rest works out.”
George laughed, then ignored his brother rushing up, berating him for causing a prank without letting him in on it. George ignored him, and they went over to wait out the rest of the tournament together.
“Bloody hell, mate,” Fred said, elbowing Harry as they headed back for the castle. “You should have put a bet on the task!”
Harry laughed, shaking his head. “Trust me, it wouldn’t have been fair.”
“Harry reckons he’s a seer now,” George said with a snort.
“Fuck off,” Harry replied. He was feeling decent, though still with the pressing feeling like he was losing his adulthood. Like his fourteen year old self was creeping through and taking over. He didn’t like it, and was desperate for his chat with Malfoy. If he was right, then Malfoy knew how the damned watch worked, and could help him open it. Whatever the reason Malfoy wanted him to have this ability, he was bloody sure he didn’t want to relive the last six years of his life.
They reached the common room, and after a bit, Harry retreated to the dorm, sitting on the ledge of the window as he waited for Draco’s message. Half an hour went by before he finally saw Malfoy’s owl soaring up, and it dropped a small bit of parchment on his lap, not waiting for a response.
Harry pulled it open, and glanced down.
Astronomy Tower, midnight. Bring the watch.
Harry was nervous about bringing it, he’d show up armed at the very least, and possibly in the cloak—if he had it. He wasn’t sure James would have trusted him with it at this point, for all that he’d got up to. Giving his trunk a rummage round, he realised he was out of luck.
However, he was fairly decent at disillusionment charms now that he’d used them enough as an Auror. Though his feeling of being an adult was fading, it didn’t seem like what he’d learnt over the years was. He had hours to go before midnight, but at least he had somewhere to begin.
It turned out sneaking out was more difficult than he thought it would be. His mates all seemed to think there was something wrong with him—and they weren’t wrong—and Ron was keeping an annoying watch over him most of the night.
Harry caught Malfoy’s eye over dinner, and also caught both Regulus and Remus watching him as well. He did his best to seem calm, seem like the Harry everyone knew. He half-wondered if he ought to be hexing people, but he couldn’t bring himself to go that far.
Instead he kept his head down, kept to himself, and when Ron finally, finally fell asleep, he stood up and cast the charm on himself. It was strange, navigating the halls of Hogwarts blending into the stone as best he could. He did his best to remember the way to the tower, and finally made it up without incident.
Draco was at the top, standing in front of the door to the roof, arms crossed impatiently. His grey eyes seemed to catch on to where Harry was standing, and with a flick of his wand and, “Finite,” Harry’s spell was lifted.
“Bastard,” he spat.
Draco rolled his eyes, then beckoned Harry into the classroom, rather than onto the roof itself. Harry was grateful to keep indoors, but he was worried what Malfoy had up his sleeve.
“You don’t have my watch,” was the first thing out of Draco’s mouth.
“I rather think I do,” Harry said. He shoved his hand into his pocket, curling it round the watch, but he didn’t pull it out. “Because six years from now you gave it to me as a bloody birthday present, and here I am!”
Draco’s eyes widened. “Oh Merlin. So you’re…” He stopped and swallowed. “You know.”
Harry blinked. “I know?”
“About Voldemort. About the war.”
Harry took several involuntary steps back, his head spinning. He’d been waiting for weeks and weeks now for someone, anyone, to know. For just a hint of someone who understood where he’d been, what he’d been through.
And now he had it.
And now he was furious.
Without really thinking, Harry had his wand out, Malfoy crowded up against the wall, his wand shoved under his chin. “How the fuck do you know about that? You’d better start talking before I start hexing.”
Draco took in a breath, and surprised Harry by not even trying to fight back. “I was there. It was my spell. The one Hermione gave you.”
Harry felt his head spin again, and he took several breaths to try and calm himself. “You…you did…you?”
Draco nodded. “The Department of Mysteries approached me straight after the battle. Brought me in, asked me questions. I knew things, spells, research that the Dark Lord had been up to. The next thing I knew, I was taking an oath and working for the Department.”
Draco shook his head. “She wasn’t on my team. She was doing something else, but I knew she was the only one who would be able to get you to agree.”
“So she didn’t know what you were up to?” Harry asked.
Draco shook his head again. “I told her it was to help those of us who suffered after the war. To help with…with what we were going through. It was enough for her.”
“Fuck,” Harry said. “So you…the locket?”
“Why?” Harry asked, his voice almost a sob now. “Why did you…why put me through that?”
“Because you were like me!” Draco all-but shouted. “You needed to remember, otherwise who the hell knows what you would have become!”
Harry opened his mouth to argue, but he realised Draco was right. “I…”
“You had been through enough. I had been through enough. If I grew up in a world where my father never served Voldemort it might have meant…it would have…” He swallowed. “And Merlin fucking knows that you not being raised by those muggles would have made a difference. And you were owed that, the chance to appreciate it. The fact that so many died and now you had them back.”
Harry’s wand arm dropped, and he took a step back. “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I don’t know,” Draco said, and when Harry’s eyes flashed, Draco threw up his hands. “I honestly don’t know, Potter! The moment I woke up, I used the watch. I returned to my first year.”
Harry blinked, startled by that. “You…so you…?”
Draco huffed. “It was technology we were working on, based on the idea of a time turner, but instead of allowing the person to go back in time as their present-day selves, it allowed them to rewind their lives.”
“But you know everything. You remember everything.”
“We hadn’t perfected it yet,” Draco said. “But I couldn’t take the risk. My team was already starting to have doubts about it, about changing the timeline. I had to act, or I would have been outvoted, and I couldn’t have that.”
Harry swallowed. “So this watch…” He pulled it out and hung it by the chain. “How do I get back?”
“You want to go back?” Draco asked, eyes wide.
“I don’t bloody want to be fourteen again!” Harry bellowed. “I don’t know how you can stand it.”
“Because I fucked up the first time around!” Draco shouted back.
Harry scrubbed a hand down his face. “Tell me how to get back, Malfoy.”
Draco shook his head, swallowing thickly. “It resets. After two weeks.”
“Two weeks!” Harry yelled. “I’m going to be here for two weeks!”
With a sigh, Draco nodded. “I’m sorry. But you can set it to go straight back to where you were, if you like. It won’t really matter, will it?”
“It will,” Harry said, pacing now in front of Draco. His hand went to his hair, tugging on it. “People are starting to notice, Malfoy. They’re starting to notice that I’m not the same—stupid little twat that this Harry is.”
At that, Draco actually had the nerve to smile. “True. He really is a little shit.”
“Thank you,” Harry said sarcastically. “My parents,” he stopped and groaned. “Bloody fucking hell, my parents are going to notice. And I don’t have it in me to be…to be that.”
“I think you can get by a couple of weeks, mate,” Draco said.
Harry raised his wand again, once more crowding Draco back against the wall. “When I get back to my time, you’d better have a fucking good reason for sending me back to this time, Malfoy. And I had better get the most mind-blowing blow job of my entire life.”
Draco’s cheeks immediately flared bright red. “I. We.” He cleared his throat. “You and I we….”
“Yes,” Harry said, throwing a hand up. “We fuck. Well we were fucking, then we were dating, and then we were…” He stopped and shook his head. “I don’t know what the fuck we are. But you probably shouldn’t know more than this.”
Draco let out a shaking breath. “Don’t tell anyone.”
Harry’s eyes narrowed. “Why would I bother? I tried to tell my father this morning and he chucked me out of his quarters because he thought I was trying to prank him.”
Before Draco could say another word, the door to the tower opened and Harry looked up, startled to see Remus stood there looking very stern. Harry backed up, realising how it looked with his wand under Draco’s chin, and he flushed, tucking it away.
“Ten points from Gryffindor and Slytherin,” Remus said. “For being out of bounds. And I expect an explanation.”
“We were just,” Harry said, looking over at Draco whose expression was neutral. “Chatting.”
“Indeed.” Remus took one step in, and gave Harry a quirked brow. “Chatting.”
“It was important,” Harry insisted.
“Nothing,” Remus said, “is so important it can’t wait until morning. Mr Malfoy, I expect you to return to your dormitory without any further detours. And Mr Potter, I will be walking you back to yours.”
Harry groaned as Draco hurried out, and he bowed his head as Remus beckoned him along with a cleared throat. As they reached the main landing, Harry looked up at Remus. “I’m sorry.”
Remus’ steps faltered for a second. “You’re sorry?”
Harry nodded. “For being out of bed. It was stupid, I know.”
“That is not,” Remus said slowly, “going to get you out of a detention.”
“I know,” Harry said, feeling wracked with guilt at the person he knew he was to Remus, and the things he probably would have been saying were he the other boy. “I just…it’s been a rough day and I just. I had a thing to do, and now I’ve solved it and I’m sorry.”
Remus picked up his pace again, but after a moment, nodded. “Professor Black said you were distressed this morning. I hope we won’t see any further behaviour like this from you.”
“You won’t,” Harry promised, then silently added, for a few weeks, at least. They reached the portrait hole, and Harry was grateful Remus had the password, because for all he’d been there all day, he’d forgotten to ask.
Pausing by the door, he and Remus gave each other a look, and then his godfather turned away, and Harry was left alone. Two weeks, he thought. He could do it. He could get by for two weeks.
Two weeks was sheer hell, Harry thought as the days crept on. Being fourteen again was the worst thing he could think of. He had to attend classes, serve a detention, try to go unnoticed by his peers and one of his parents. He had to deal with raging hormones, a massive appetite, and the desire to snog Malfoy stupid, which felt very wrong as although he was in the body of a fourteen year old, his mind was still twenty.
Though, he reminded himself, so was Malfoy.
He couldn’t really wrap his mind round the fact that Malfoy had been doing all this since first year. He’d done the spell with the Department of Mysteries, and had gone back in time again, to relive the past. Harry knew where he was coming from, but he couldn’t fathom wanting to do all this all over.
Still, he realised as he stared down at the locket one night, checking for the thousandth time to see if it had reset, it was tempting. To turn time back and do it all over. To change the person he’d have become. Instead of going forward, he could go back again. He’d still end up in the same place, he reckoned. In Malfoy’s bed. But maybe things could be better.
Yet, Harry didn’t want to do it all over. What he wanted were answers.
He’d tried to get Malfoy alone several times, but Draco had successfully avoided any attempt for the nearly two weeks it took. He supposed he’d get the answers once he reset the time and woke up in his flat. He’d get the answers to the spell, and the locket, and he’d be able to find out if it really was permanent.
His gut feeling told him there was no turning back now. There was no reversing anything.
He had the mad idea he should destroy the fob watch the moment he got back to his rightful state.
It was a Saturday when he was in bed and he heard a small snick coming from his pocket. He’d spent the day finishing up essays, ignoring the trip to Hogsmeade. A few times his father had actually come to check on him, and even James had written with some concern. His sister, who had normally avoided him at all costs, he caught watching him when he was at meals or on the pitch.
He knew he was being obvious, but what was he to do about it.
When the fob watch reset, Harry’s hand hovered over the depression, and instead of opening it straight away as he’d been so sure he’d do, he got out of bed and found his shoes. It wasn’t curfew yet, so he bypassed his friends and hurried out of the portrait hall.
Heading down one of the corridors, he found himself outside Remus’ office. The door was cracked open, and he knocked, hearing a soft, “come in,” a moment later.
Harry pushed the door open and he saw Remus with the Map spread out on the desk. “Oh,” Harry said, and laughed. “You have it.”
“I have it,” Remus confirmed.
“So that’s how you found me and Malfoy.”
Remus raised a brow, then nodded. “Is there something you need?”
“I…” Harry hesitated, his hand going to his hair and he ruffled it. He then walked round the desk and stood close to Remus, one hand gripping the wood. “I haven’t been a very good godson to you these years, and you don’t deserve that. I probably won’t be after tonight, either. My problem is erm. Sorted out. But I…” Harry took a breath, wondering how much damage he might be doing to his future by saying all this. “In a few years, I’m going to have an even bigger problem, and all I can really do is ask you to believe me. I know this doesn’t make any sense, Moony. It’s all fucking barmy and I’m barely hanging on right now. But if you could just remember this conversation, just remember that it gets better and that in the future I’ll be sorry and that I do love you…” Harry stopped himself, then leant down and threw his arms round Remus’ neck. “Just please forgive me. And be patient.”
With that, Harry turned on his heel and ran. He knew there would be too many questions if he lingered, and for now, he’d let Remus think it was a prank. He had one more stop to make after that, and then he was ready to go home.
He was able to find the door to Regulus’ quarters, but he wasn’t in, and eventually found him in the Potions’ classroom going over essays. His head snapped up and he raised a brow at Harry who crossed over to him.
“I just…I need to say something really quick. I love you. And I’m sorry. I should have been a better son. If you could remember this in the future, it would…it would mean the world to me.” Harry threw his arms round him and hugged tight, the way Regulus had hugged him before. “And thank you. For being a dad I don’t really deserve.”
At that, Harry turned and left, hearing his name called, but he didn’t stop. He knew that Regulus would talk to Remus, and they might come looking for him. He had to get the locket working and he had to get back to his time before they had a chance to stop him. He could not be delayed.
He double-timed it to the tower, and managed to make it through the portrait hole without incident. Bypassing everyone in the common room, Harry took the steps two at a time, and headed into his room. Neville was there, giving Harry a curious look, but didn’t stop him when Harry dove onto his bed and shut the curtains.
By the light of his want, he popped open the back of the fob watch, and carefully turned the date six years forward, on his birthday, just before midnight. He pushed the numbers in, and he heard the ticking begin.
Closing his hand round the watch, his eyes squeezed shut and he waited.
And he waited.
And he waited.
Harry woke with a gasp, warm hands on his thigh, and his head popped up to see a smirking Draco crouched between his thighs. An older Draco. A twenty-year old Draco Malfoy who looked like he’d come straight from the pub. Smelt it, too.
“Draco?” Harry asked, glancing over at the clock. It had just gone midnight, and he glanced to the left to see the watch sat by the small box which was open. Harry kicked him hard, and he flew back.
“What the fuck, Potter?” he cried.
Harry got to his knees and crawled to the end of the bed, grabbing his wand to aim a hex right at Draco’s bits. “You stupid fuck! Do you know where I just got back from?”
Draco lifted a brow as he deflected Harry’s sloppy spellwork. “Your party? Got what crawled up your arse?”
“I don’t know? Maybe a fucking time-turner fob watch which sent me back to fourth fucking year!”
Draco’s eyes went wide. “Oh my god. Oh my…Oh my GOD,” he said, scrambling to his knees. “You used it tonight?”
“Yes, you absolute fucking bastard!” Harry cried. He swung at Draco, but missed. “I just got done spending two weeks having you dodge me, and having to do fucking Homework!”
Draco snorted. “I remember that.”
“I know you do!” Harry bellowed. “You did this to me! You changed everything and you did it without even asking!”
Draco shoved his fringe out of his eyes and crossed his arms, looking intimidating in spite of being starkers stood in front of Harry’s bed. “You were supposed to wait for me to use it, you shit! I was going to explain how it worked and…”
“I’m not talking about that,” Harry spat. “You changed everything.”
Draco’s face fell. “Oh.”
“And you didn’t tell me. This entire time I’ve been going fucking spare because I didn’t know what happened to me. All this time, and you’ve been fucking me and not telling me!”
Draco pinked, and he took a step back. “I thought it would be best.”
“What? That I run myself mad? That I get interrogated by my parents and my godfather? That I stumble round this universe without knowing who the hell I am?” Harry dragged his hand through his hair, then felt his anger suddenly deflate into resignation. “What’s the locket for, Draco?”
Swallowing thickly, Draco sat at the edge of the bed and took a breath. “It was a preservation charm. It sort of…put you in stasis for the spell, so although the timeline changed, it wouldn’t change you. You’d still have all your memories.”
“All my nightmares,” Harry said.
Draco nodded. “I have mine. It…it’s worth it because I actually appreciate what I have now. Unlike the spoilt arse I would have been, if I didn’t.”
Harry took a breath, then nodded. “Alright. And what’s under it?” When Draco raised a brow, Harry rolled his eyes. “My father already worked out the spells on it. I just want to know what’s under it. It’s transfigured.”
Draco blinked slowly. “It’s the spell. It won’t turn anything back, but it can…it can revert you back to this Harry. It’ll erase everything from the other universe.”
Harry bit down on his lips for a moment. “Oh. And then that’s it?”
“Then that’s it,” Draco said.
Harry nodded. “Okay. Now I think I need you to leave.”
“Harry,” Draco said, his voice breaking. “Just wait. Okay? Just think about this…”
“Not with you here,” Harry said. “Because now I need to decide if I owe them their son back, and my friends their mate back. If I even deserve to be this Harry. Or if I deserve to be the other one.”
“If you do it,” Draco said, “that’s it. I can’t reverse it.”
Harry nodded. “I know. But it’s not up to you. And it’s not totally up to me. And I can’t think about it until you’re not here.”
Draco scrambled up, crawling toward Harry, cupping his cheek fiercely. “I don’t want to lose you.”
Harry leant into his palm, even as he lifted a hand to push Draco back. “You should have thought of that before you lied to me.”
“I love you,” Draco blurted. “I have for…probably ages. In both timelines. And it was so fucking stupid. You saved my life and I loved you and I wanted to give you something back. Your family. Your friends. Everyone who cared about who died.”
Harry closed his eyes, feeling his heart constrict. After a moment, he pulled Draco’s hand down. “I’m falling for you too. But right now, that doesn’t matter. I don’t know how I feel about this and…I need time.”
“Okay,” Draco said, and pulled away. “But don’t be foolish, Potter. The person you were—and believe me, I knew him—is better off being you. People can change, but he wouldn’t have. And I think your family and friends are bloody well happier with the person you are.”
“Maybe,” Harry said from behind a breath, “but I’m leaving it up to them.”
Harry didn’t sleep a wink that night. He stayed up staring at the fob watch, at Draco’s note. It made sense now why he’d written it. Because this Draco knew the date this Harry had returned to the past. And it was the only way Harry would have done it.
The loop was infinite and it boggled his mind, but that wasn’t what mattered.
Instead of waiting for James’ owl, Harry floo’d to his parents’ the moment it was a reasonable hour. He stepped onto the hearth, and immediately went for the kitchen. Regulus was there, fixing himself tea, and he smiled when Harry stepped into the room.
“Morning. Was your dad expecting you? He’s still having a lie in and I…”
Regulus’ words were cut off when Harry crossed the room and threw his arms round his shoulders. “I think you remembered,” Harry said when he pulled away.
Regulus blinked. “Remembered?”
“I was in fourth year. I came to you one night and just… I told you I was sorry, and that I loved you. And I thanked you and ran away.”
Regulus suddenly went pale. “You…how do you remember that?”
Harry barked a laugh. “Because it was me.” He then pulled the watch out, and explained everything. “I tried to tell you but you thought I was playing a prank. But Malfoy…he knew.”
Regulus reached out with a hesitant finger touching the watch before pulling away. “Merlin. Merlin I…I remember that. You were so strange. I thought…” He cleared his throat. “I thought you were going to kill yourself or something. None of us could work out what was going on. And the next morning you were just…right back to your old self. And you didn’t seem to remember any of it.”
Harry took in a shaking breath. “When I first got here, did you think of it?”
Regulus shook his head. “Not until you had the nightmare. I hadn’t really thought of it until that day and you thanked me and I…it all came rushing back.”
Harry nodded. “Well it mattered. So…” He let out a shaking laugh. “I need to talk to dad about this. The spell can revert everything to the way it was, but I feel like I can’t make that choice on my own.”
Regulus nodded. “Alright. I’ll go and get him up.”
Before either of them moved, Remus suddenly stepped through the kitchen door. “Oh. Harry. I didn’t realise you’d be here. I was just looking for Tilly. She promised she’d help Fleur with Teddy today.”
“I’m already in the floo,” a voice called.
Remus grinned and turned. “Perfect. I won’t keep you.”
He started to go, but Harry was on his feet, catching him by the sleeve. “Hang on I need to…” He looked back at Regulus who nodded his head, then headed for the stairs to get James. “Can we talk a minute?”
Remus frowned, but nodded. “Sure.”
Heading into the lounge, Harry once again pulled out the watch, and told the story. “…and I think you remembered. Maybe not consciously but…”
“I remembered,” Remus said suddenly, interrupting him. “The moment I realised something was different, and the distress you were in, I remembered.”
Harry let out a breath. “Thank you. I think your support literally saved my arse when I first woke up here.”
Remus let out a low chuckle. “Maybe it did. But you helped too.”
Pursing his lips, Harry sighed. “Well, I think today we’re going to decide if I’m supposed to stay this, or if I should give you lot your Harry back. He might be a twat, but he’s still yours. I honestly don’t know what’s fair.”
Remus’ eyes darkened, and he sighed. “I like you. I don’t want to lose you, Haz. But it needs to be up to your parents. So if you choose to break the spell, just know before you go that I love you. And you’re worthy of having a good life.”
Harry felt his throat go thick, but he nodded and fought back the tears. “Thanks. Tell Padfoot for me too, okay? That I love him and thanks.”
Remus nodded then hurried for the floo like if he didn’t do it now, he might not at all.
When he was gone, Harry sat on the sofa…and he awaited his fate.
Two hours later found Harry, James, and Regulus sat in James’ office. The locket was no longer a locket at all, but a sheet of paper with a complicated spell. James had gone over it several times, until he was certain he could perform it, should they choose to do so.
He stared at Harry for a while, then at Regulus. Then back at Harry.
“What do you want, son?”
Harry laughed. “I don’t know. I mean, there’s no happy medium, is there. I either stay this…with my night terrors and war trauma—but with the family I love. Or I go back to the Harry you raised.”
James swallowed. “You’re still our Harry, you know. You’re still our son.”
“I know,” Harry said. “But I don’t want to rob you of something you should have.”
“I don’t think you are,” Regulus said softly.
“It just doesn’t seem fair for me to decide,” Harry replied.
James gripped the parchment, and he nodded. “Alright. I think…I think I know what we need to do. It’s only fair really. Doesn’t seem right to…carry on this way.”
Harry closed his eyes, his chest tight with both sadness and fear. He’d hoped his father would have wanted to keep him, would have liked him this way, but he understood. After a long moment, when nothing happened, Harry’s eyes cracked open, and he saw James in front of the fire. On the wood, burning to ash, was the spell.
“What…?” Harry asked.
James shook his head. “You’ve been through enough, Harry. That throwing you back into the oblivion…I couldn’t do it to you. I think I have a solution.” He then left the room, and Harry looked over at Regulus who looked relieved, his eyes a bit glossy. Regulus reached out and gave Harry’s hand a squeeze before letting it go.
“He’s mad,” Harry breathed.
Regulus gave a wet laugh. “Maybe a bit. But that’s why we love him, isn’t it?”
Harry blinked, then the door opened, and James returned with a small box. Setting it in front of Harry, he popped the top off to reveal a very small pensive. The liquid was shimmering, and Harry raised a brow at his father.
“It’s every memory I could think of, every important one, of you. Of raising you. Of Lily, of your papa, and your sister. Of your mates, and your Quidditch games, and…and I think I can get Regulus and Remus to provide their own of your school years. They might not be pleasant, but…you’d have them. It could take years to go through but…”
“Alright,” Harry blurted, standing up. He abandoned all pretences and threw his arms round his father. “Thank you,” he whispered.
James hugged him tight, running his hand down the back of Harry’s hair lightly. “I don’t think I could have it any other way.”
That night, Harry had dinner with his parents, Sirius and Remus there, both looking relieved that it had gone the way James had chosen. The conversation was light, Teddy being adorable as usual and throwing peas at Sirius who made them levitate over the mash.
When it was over, Harry excused himself outside to get some fresh air, and a moment later, his godfather joined him.
“I refuse to say whether or not I think James made the right choice,” Sirius said, sliding up to Harry and lighting up a cigarette. He took a long drag before speaking again. “But I can’t help think you’re the person you should have been all along. Maybe not the trauma, or the neglect, but…I like to think I had at least a small hand in making you the kind person you are today.”
Harry laughed, and nodded. “You were my family. My only family. Losing you was the worst thing that ever happened to me, Sirius, and I can’t…” Harry’s voice went tight, and he cleared his throat. “I don’t have words for what it means to have you back. I can’t be sorry about that.”
Sirius hesitated, then drew his arm round Harry and pulled him in for a half-hug. “I’m glad we get to keep you.”
Harry let out a slightly trembling laugh and let his head fall on Sirius’ shoulder. “I’m glad you’re keeping me too.”
Harry got an owl after that from Hermione and Viktor, inviting him to dinner. He responded in kind, and then headed for the floo. It had been the longest day, and now having some resolution to his predicament, he felt more exhausted than he ever had in his life.
But as he stepped into the flames, he didn’t call out for his flat.
Instead he found himself stepping out of Draco Malfoy’s hearth, in the bedroom where he found Draco on his bed, wearing flannel pyjama bottoms and reading a book. He looked up, startled to see Harry, but before he could get a word out, Harry was on the bed, crawling between his legs.
Tossing the book to the side, Harry surged up and kissed him, long and slow, tongues dancing before Harry pulled away, putting one hand on Draco’s cheek. “I’m staying,” he whispered.
Draco’s eyes went wide. “I…”
“I have all my family’s memories of me. Of the old me. So I’ll know both him and myself. But I’m staying. And I think you’re a fucking bastard for what you did, for not saying anything. But the truth is, I’m also in love with you. So get your head out of your arse, Malfoy, and be worthy of it.”
Draco reached up, almost involuntarily as he curled his hands into Harry’s shirt and tugged him close. “I make no promises, Potter. I’m a Malfoy after all.”
Harry snorted and kissed him once more before pushing their foreheads together. “I suppose that’s just as well. Because I love you, and I don’t think I’d have it any other way.”
I hope this satisfied at least most of you. I had SO MUCH FUN writing this fic, okay? It was brilliant.
And we can safely assume they all lived happily ever after (forever and ever)