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A Step In Time

Chapter Text

Everything around him was smashing to the floor, rows and rows of prophesies that would stay unheard. Harry really couldn’t bring himself to feel an ounce of guilt at the fact, not if his suspicions were correct. There was only one reason his name would be on that orb.

He didn’t like the reason.

He dodged yet another curse thrown his way and cursed as his foot skid on some of the glass on the floor. He managed to catch himself before he fell completely but it lost him enough time that he was unable to completely avoid a bright red curse that was coming toward him. The curse hit his shoulder and Harry couldn’t stop the cry of pain from escaping as his entire right side felt as if it was on fire. He stumbled back and yelled out as he crashed into a series of shelves. He ducked his head as glass began to crash around him and things slammed down onto his uncovered arms and head.

There was yelling and he uncovered his face long enough to look up as yet another curse came flying his way. Harry dove to the ground, slicing his arms and knees on the glass around him. Whatever was unbroken on that shelf was now falling on top of him, creating a very unpleasant and painful sensation.

And then it was all gone.

The sudden silence made Harry tense for only a moment before he pushed himself to his feet.

Feet that were no longer stepping on shattered glass.

The room was dark. None of the Death Eaters that had only moments before been chasing after him and tossing curses his way were there. “Ron?” He called loudly turning his head frantically as he searched for his friend. “Hermione?!” No answer. “Neville? Ginny! Luna!”

His shouts echoed back toward him.

His chest tightening, Harry cautiously moved forward. He looked ducked around rows of shelves, checking each aisle to make sure the Death Eaters weren’t waiting to ambush him.

Wait.

Shelves.

Harry stopped and blinked at the shelves. The unbroken shelves that were filled with orbs. Orbs that contained prophecies. Prophecies that were not broken.

What was going on?

Harry retraced his steps through the Department of Mysteries. Not a soul was in sight. His friends were gone. The Death Eaters. There were no Ministry employees. No one…

He continued out of the department, completely confounded on what was happening. This couldn’t have been a trick. Not with all of those orbs intact. Not with his friends gone. They wouldn’t have left him. The Death Eaters didn’t have enough time when he was on the ground to put that room back together. So what was going on?

He wandered toward the entryway of the Ministry and glanced at the empty halls. Well, at least that hadn’t changed.

“Young Man! Come over here!”

Harry froze. No, no he was right that no one was there. He would have noticed them if they were. But that voice… “Over here! Honestly,” the voice grumbled. Harry turned his head and sucked in a deep breath at the line of portraits on the wall.

Well, that was new.

“Uh, hi?” Harry asked the line of portraits. Each had their eyes fixed on him quizzically.

“Yes, you! How did you get in here? Did anyone see him come in?” A man demanded from on of the portraits on the far right. “Boy! Who are you?!”

Harry instantly felt dislike toward the man. Probably because of his being referred to as boy. He was probably always going to respond negatively to that name after his uncle. “Harry Potter. Who are you?” Harry snapped in response, his hand tightening around his wand.

“I am-“ the man started pompously, only to be cut off by another portrait hanging a few away from his own.

“Oh, stuff it, Charles. Potter, you said?” The man asked, looking at Harry curiously. Harry nodded and glanced down, looking at the nameplate hanging below the portrait.

Linfred Potter
Creator of Skel-Grow and Pepperup

Harry blinked. Linfred Potter? “Uh, yeah. Sorry, who’re you?” Harry questioned, moving forward curiously.

“Linfred Potter,” Linfred commented with a bright grin. The older man ran a hand through his messy, dark hair. “Sorry, but I’m afraid I wasn’t aware of someone in my family by the name Harry at this time. Who’re your parents? Do I need to have a discussion with one of my descendants?”

“I-I don’t,” Harry started, stumbling over his words as he tried to understand what was happening. “Uh, parents. Right. James and Lily Potter. I…I didn’t know there were any other Potter’s alive…” he breathed. If there were still members of the Potter family, why was he sent to live with the Dursley’s? And why had they never come forward to meet him? He would give anything to have a family that cared for him.

“James? James Potter? Son of Fleamont?” Linfred demanded, somehow moving even closer to his frame as he stared at Harry with wide eyes.

Fleamont? “Uh, no clue,” Harry admitted, rubbing the back of his neck as he admitted that he didn’t know much about his family. “My, uh, parents died when I was young. Wait, you don’t know who I am?” he breathed, his eyes growing wide as he stared at the man. Linfred frowned and shook his head. Harry felt dread begin to pool in his chest. “None of you?” He demanded, glancing down the row of portraits. They all just looked at him in either irritation or concern as they shook their heads.

Oh.

Oh no.

“What year is it?” Harry asked, his voice growing higher than usual as his mind began to put all the pieces together. The intact orbs. The lack of his friends and Death Eaters. The portraits that he just knew weren’t on the wall when they walked in.

“1977,” Linfred answered slowly and his eyes grew wide as Harry paled.

1977?

“Oh no,” Harry moaned, staggering back as the implications hit him. “No, no, no, no…”

“Harry? This might be odd and I hope I am way off but when you came into the Ministry this evening, what was the year?”

“1995.”

Instantly, all of the portraits started yelling out, many of them running from their own frames into Linfred’s which Harry was still standing in front of. Linfred stared down at Harry, his hazel eyes locking on Harry’s green ones. The portraits all continued to yell out questions and push one another as they struggled to get a closer look at Harry. Harry couldn’t focus on any of the questions. It was like he was in a fog. None of the words being said made any sense.

He was in the past.

1977.

1977. He wouldn’t be born for another three years. That meant his parents would be….well, he wasn’t sure. He didn’t know how old they were when he was born. But it did mean that they were alive.

Alive.

“I think it best that I contact Fleamont. Harry, if you would be so kind as to leave the Ministry,” Linfred finally said, causing every portrait to stop speaking. “It would be a rather difficult situation if someone was to catch you here. And I’m sure none of my companions will be alerting anyone as to your presence.” He shot the other portraits a glare that had each of them agreeing, though there were a few that seemed reluctant to do so. “Harry, do you know of an establishment called the Three Broomsticks? I have heard young James speak of the place…”

“I- uh, yeah. Three Broomsticks. I know it,” he answered, somewhat confused. His brain still didn’t seem to be working properly.

“Good. Head there this instant and I will go speak to Fleamont. He will be there to meet you.” Linfred turned and disappeared from his frame, leaving all of the others that had pushed their way in to stare at Harry.

Well, he supposed he needed to go to The Three Broomsticks and wait for the man who was, apparently, his grandfather.

Chapter Text

Harry shifted anxiously in his chair at the Three Broomsticks. He was used to people looking at him – he didn’t like it, but he was used to it – but this was different. Usually, people stared at him because he was Harry Potter. But now, people seem to be staring at him in curiosity, because they didn’t know who he was. He heard more than one person whispering about him obviously being a Potter but he wasn’t one that was known. They started talking about an affair and wondered whose child he was. He ducked his head and considered just leaving. He wasn’t sure how long he had been here but it seemed like it had been hours. It probably didn’t help that he didn’t have any money with him so he was just taking up space. More than one person had sent glares his way. He shifted once again as another person sent a confused and inquisitive glare his way.

 

Yeah, maybe waiting outside would be the best option.

 

He had just stood when the floo flared to life and someone with extremely familiar features stepped through. He was taller than Harry, which wasn’t surprising considering everyone seemed to be taller than him, with the same messy brown hair, though his was mixed with silver, and hazel eyes covered by glasses. The man, who was probably in his late fifties or early sixties, glanced around the room for a moment before his eyes rested on a frozen Harry. Recognition flashed across his features and the man was quick to stride forward and wrap his arms around Harry. Harry tensed. He was unused to physical contact. Hermione hugged him occasionally and Rob would sometimes place a friendly hand on his shoulder but beyond that, no one really touched him.

 

And now here he was. Being hugged by a man he had never met. A man that might actually be the grandfather that he had never met.

 

“Well, that ought to cause quite the scandal,” the man whispered in amusement. Harry blinked, glancing around to see every single eye, even the ones that had pointedly avoided him earlier. The man was still chuckling as he dropped his arms and took a large step back. “Come along now, Harry. Everyone is waiting for you.”

 

Harry opened his mouth to question exactly who ‘everyone’ was, but he was ushered toward the fireplace. “Go on,” the man urged. Harry stared at him helplessly.

 

“Wh-where am I going?”

 

The man’s expression faltered for a moment but the easy smile was quickly back in place. “Potter Manor.”

 

Harry’s brows furrowed. There was a Potter Manor? He didn’t remember anyone having mentioned it. Was that where his parents had died? What had happened to the house? He stepped forward and grabbed a handful of floo powder. “Potter Manor!”

 

He stumbled out of the fireplace a moment later. It wasn’t the most graceful landing but at least he managed to stay on his feet. The floo came to life and Harry quickly stepped to the side as the man stepped into the room. “Well, Harry, welcome to Potter Manor,” the man said, smiling as he gestured to the room. Harry looked around curiously, taking in the elaborate but welcoming furnishings and the warm tones. “I have a feeling that this is the first time you have seen the Manor, Harry.” Harry nodded, not looking his way as he continued to examine the room. “Ah. I feel as if I should have introduced myself earlier. I am Fleamont Potter, father of James Potter and,” he took a deep breath. “From what I have been told, your grandfather.”

 

Harry had turned toward the man as soon as he had said his name. So this was his grandfather. “I don’t know for sure, sir,” Harry answered him, giving a bit of a sheepish smile. “I don’t really know a lot about-“

 

“Yes, Linfred has told me what he knows of the situation,” Fleamont said, his smile fading. “But enough of that for the moment. There are some people I would like you to meet.” Fleamont wrapped a light arm around Harry’s shoulder and led him out of the room. Harry found himself twisting his neck back and forth, trying to take in all of the décor and portraits that stared at him as they passed. They finally came to a large dining room where three people were crowded at one end of a table that was covered in food.

 

“Oh!” An older woman stood quickly and hurried toward him, pushing her grey hair out of her eyes. “Hello!” she said with a soft smile as she reached out to pull Harry toward her. Once again, Harry felt his entire body tense, despite the fact that he attempted to remain loose. The woman pulled back and her brown eyes flew over his face, taking in each and every detail. Harry saw her eyes pause just slightly on his scar before she reached out and brushed a soft hand against his cheek. “Oh, you are certainly a Potter. Those eyes…I’ve heard James spout off enough nonsense about that Evans girl to know where they came from!” Fleamont laughed and stepped forward to pull the woman against him.

 

“Harry, this is my wife and your grandmother, Euphemia Potter,” Fleamont introduced and Harry found a new interest in the woman -who was frowning.

 

“You are very skinny, dear. Come, let’s eat. We weren’t sure what your tastes were so we had the elves prepare a mixture of dishes.” She thread her arm through Harry’s and led him down the room, toward the other two people that were still sitting. Fleamont took the chair at the head of the table while Euphemia sat on his left. She pulled Harry down beside her, across from another woman that was significantly younger than her but still had at least a couple of decades on Harry.

 

Actually, the woman looked extremely familiar.

 

“Harry, this is Fleamont’s younger brother, Charlus,” Euphemia introduced the man sitting on Fleamont’s right beside the other woman. “You can probably tell that Charlus is just a bit younger than Fleamont-“

 

“Now, now,” Fleamont started, his eyes flashing with amusement as he moved some sort of meat onto his plate. “I think our appearance is close enough that-“

 

“Don’t be naive, dear,” his wife teased. “Charlus is, after all, young enough to be your son.”

 

Charlus laughed loudly, leaning over to slap his brother on the shoulder. Fleamont rolled his eyes at his wife and sat back in his chair. “She has you there,” Charlus chuckled. His brown eyes, a darker shade than his brothers, landed on Harry. “My father had Fleamont when he was young. His first wife, Fleamont’s mother, died during childbirth. He didn’t marry again for almost twenty years and they had me when Fleamont was twenty-one.”

 

“Thank you for the history lesson, Charlus,” Fleamont said wryly as he took a bite of whatever it was that was on his plate. He tilted his head in Harry’s direction. “Eat! I know that this is all a bit confusing but you need to eat.”

 

Harry blinked down at the food. There was so much he didn’t know what to choose. Hell, he didn’t even know what half of it was! He hesitantly reached out toward the closest dish and scooped a little of it on his plate. He then saw a dish that looked kind of like chicken and he took some of that as well. “Try the green beans, dear,” Euphemia said as she began to put some on his plate. “They are lovely.”

 

Harry gave her a hesitant smile and took a small bite of the green beans. He paused as the flavor hit his tongue. He was never really one for vegetables of any type but these really were good. He quickly took another forkful. “This is my wife, Dorea Potter.” Harry’s head titled as he looked at the woman across from him. Where had he heard those names before? Charlus and Dorea…

 

“Oh!” He said out loud in recognition. Everyone’s eyes widened and Harry flushed. “Sorry. I just…you’re on the Black tapestry. I recognized….” He trailed off as their stares increased. “What?” Did he do something wrong?

 

“When did you see the Black tapestry?” Dorea asked, her brows furrowing. Now Harry knew why he thought she looked familiar. Her bone structure was similar to Sirius’s and her eyes were the exact same shade as his. Her hair hung in ringlets down her back and was just a shade lighter than Sirius’s. She was certainly a Black.

 

“Uh, my godfather…Sirius…”

 

They all exchanged a glance. “Well, that’s understandable,” Dorea finally said, nodding her head. “Sirius and James are close. Though I am surprised Sirius would willingly go into the Black House. And take you with him.”

 

Harry shifted and stared down at his plate. “There were…uh…reasons.”

 

A second of silence and then Fleamont cleared his throat. “Reasons that we will discuss later tonight. For now, let’s get to know one another. So, Harry, how old are you?”

 

“Fifteen,” Harry said quickly, wanting to get back to the easygoing conversation. “I’ll be sixteen in July.”

 

“Fifteen,” Charlus mused. “Fifth year?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Ah, OWL’s year. That’s a big one,” Fleamont grimaced. “I hope you are prepared.”

 

“Uh, yeah,” Harry muttered, quickly taking a bite of the chicken.

 

It was amazing.

 

He also didn’t think it was chicken.

 

He wondered if he should ask what it was. But, well, it was really good. And he wasn’t sure that he wanted to know.

 

“Charlus and Dorea’s son will be joining us shortly,” Fleamont told Harry. Harry paused with the fork halfway to his mouth. Son? They had a son?

 

The confusion must have shown on his face because the adults once again exchanged a glance. “Caelum is twenty-six and works for Gringotts,” Dorea informed him, worry in her eyes. Probably at Harry’s lack of recognition. “He and his wife, Eileene, recently had a son. Archie will be a year old this August.”

 

Caelum? Eileene? Archie? The names didn’t sound familiar at all.

 

If Archie was almost a year old…he would have only been a few years older than Harry.

 

But Harry never heard of another Potter in the wizarding world.

 

What had happened to the rest of the Potter family?

 

The meal continued, everyone making polite and somewhat stilted conversation around him. It was obvious they were all wondering the same thing and they were all avoiding the issue. Harry knew that they wanted to ask but he didn’t know what information he could give them. No one had ever told him anything about his family beyond the mention of his parents. He had seen Charlus and Dorea’s names on the Black tapestry but even then, he hadn’t got any more information.

 

They finished eating and stood, Harry following a moment after the rest. “Let’s see if Caelum has arrived,” Fleamont proclaimed as they walked out of the room. Harry was led down yet another hall and into another room, this one larger than the one he was in earlier and even more…comfortable.

 

“The family room,” Dorea told him. Harry hadn’t even noticed the woman had dropped back to walk beside him. “The room you arrived in is one usually used for guests. This room is for family.” Harry nodded to show he understood.

 

“Who is this then?” A young voice asked. Harry’s eyes met a pair of steel grey, the same shade as his godfathers. The young man had the signature Potter hair and glasses but the eye color and facial features were obviously from his mother. If Harry had to guess, he would put him in his middle to upper twenties.

 

“This is Harry,” Fleamont told his nephew, slapping his hand down on his shoulder in greeting. “He has the most amazing story to tell us – not that any of us know it yet. We were waiting for you to arrive.”

 

The young man’s eyebrows rose. “I see.” He shot a smile Harry’s way. “I’m Caelum Potter. This is my wife, Eileene and by son, Archie.”

 

“Nice to meet you,” the young woman at Caelum’s side smiled. She had dark brown hair and remarkable icy blue eyes that her son seemed to share.

 

“You too,” Harry muttered, uncomfortable yet again. He was always horrible at meeting new people.

 

Caelum turned toward his father and uncle. “So, we’re here for a story?”

 

Fleamont nodded. “Tippy!” a house-elf appeared with a loud pop! “Tippy, please watch Archie while we meet in the Council Room.” Harry didn’t know what the Council Room was but judging from Caelum’s shocked expression, it was something big.

 

“Yes, Master Flea, sir!”

 

Charlus chuckled and both Euphemia and Dorea hid a smile behind their hands. Eileene giggled as Caelum shot a teasing grin toward his uncle. “Thank you, Tippy,” Fleamont said, not seeming to take any offence toward the name. “Come on, then. I’m sure Linfred has them all prepared.”

 

Caelum’s eyebrows rose yet again but he shrugged his shoulders at Harry as they all began to move down the hallway. “Some story you have to tell, huh? Uncle Fleamont doesn’t even have James sit in front of the Council when he gets in trouble for some stupid prank.”

 

“What’s the council?”

 

Caelum tilted his head and looked at him quizzically. “Yes, very interesting.”

 

Well, that wasn’t an answer.

 

However, he figured it out soon enough.

 

Fleamont led the group into a large room that had a large desk in the middle. A chair sat behind the desk and behind that was a set of chairs and two couches. The chairs were facing a line of portraits on a curved wall, so each portrait could see the person sitting in front of them as well as each other. Each portrait contained a person that was obviously part of the Potter family. Harry spotted Linfred right in the middle of all these portraits and the man winked at him as he walked in.

 

“Harry, this is the Potter Family Council. Head’s of the line…most of them, anyway…have a portrait kept in this room to offer council and guidance to those in the Potter family,” Fleamont explained. Harry saw the portraits exchange a glance. “You have met Linfred, of course. Linfred has a portrait in the Ministry because of his work with various potions, but he is the oldest of the Potter line.” Linfred bowed his head at the introduction. “On his right is Hardwin, his oldest son. Gilbert is beside him, he created many different spells. Merrill was a researcher. Leander was a potions master and worked in the department of mysteries. On Linfred’s left is Zedock, one of the most well-known curse breakers. Ralston was a member of Wizengamot. Ulysses was a healer and was responsible for many advancements in healing magic. And Henry, who was also a member of Wizengamot. Everyone, this is Harry Potter. I’m sure Linfred has explained the situation.”

 

“It is a bit worrying that you are unaware of who we are,” Ralston spoke, his head tilted and his eyes narrowed. “Linfred mentioned that you did not even know your grandparents names.”

 

“I – uh, no. No one ever told me,” Harry admitted.

 

“How is that possible?” Gilbert demanded, his arms crossing over his chest. “Speak!”

 

“Now, now,” Linfred reprimanded as Harry stared at Gilbert’s portrait in surprise. “Harry is here to explain the situation. But Harry,” Harry turned toward the first Potter he had met. “Why don’t you start from the beginning.”

 

“Yes,” Ulysses agreed, looking at Harry in a scrutinizing way. “I was known as one of the best healers of my time, Harry, and just by looking at you I would encourage Fleamont to take you to a healer.” Harry tried not to feel offended by the statement. “We would very much like to hear about your life and what has led you here.”

 

“Yes,” Linfred agreed. “We ae all interested. If you would please, Harry.”

 

Harry swallowed hard. They wanted to know everything. And he had an urge to tell them. But how much could he tell him? What was safe? What would mess everything up?

 

Did he even care?

Chapter Text

“Bad things happen to wizards who meddle with time, Harry."

 

The words rang though his head. He knew what Hermione would say. He knew that Dumbledore would be upset with him. But, in his own time, Hermione along with the rest of his friends were battling for their lives in the Department of Mysteries. He felt a pain of guilt when he realized he hadn’t thought about his friends in hours. One of them could be dead.

 

Or would be.

 

Time travel was confusing.

 

And Dumbledore hadn’t spoken to him all year. He actively avoided Harry, in fact.

 

It as if things were great in his time. His parents were dead. He was stuck living with the Dursley’s. Sirius had been wrongfully imprisoned for twelve years and was still on the run, living in a house he despised. Remus had lost all of his friends. Harry’s friends were constantly in danger. Voldemort had returned. Hogwarts was falling apart with Dumbledore gone. The Ministry was a joke.

 

What did he really have to lose?

 

Plus, he was pretty sure he had already messed up everything, anyway.

 

“I was born on July 31, 1980,” Harry heard a muffled gasp and someone choke behind him. He winced. He had forgot that Caelum and Eileene weren’t aware of the situation. Oops. “I don’t…I don’t really know much of what happened. Voldemort-“ more gasps and a muffled curse, “he, uh, was after my family for some reason. I know that my parents went into hiding with me. I don’t know where or anything…” Harry trailed off and cleared his throat. It was becoming more and more clear just how little he truly knew. “Uh, on October 31, 1981, Voldemort found them. He killed my dad. Then my mom.” More cursing. Someone was crying. “Voldemort tried to kill me but…it didn’t work.”

 

“What do you mean, it didn’t work?” Ulysses asked, leaning forward. “How did he try to kill you?”

 

“The killing curse.”

 

There were gasps and yells of protest. “That’s impossible! There isn’t a way to block the killing curse!” Gilbert snapped.

 

“But it happened,” Harry snapped back. “No one really knows how. Or why. Dumbledore might but he’s never told me. I got away with this,” he pushed his hair back and pointed at the scar on his forehead, “and somehow the curse…rebounded or something and hit Voldemort instead. He disappeared that night.”

 

“Disappeared?” Leander questioned. “You didn’t say that he died. You said disappeared.”

 

“Uh, yeah,” Harry reached up and ran a hand through his hair. “Uh, most people thought he died. But we’ll get to that later,” he muttered, shaking his head. If he was going to do this, he needed to do it in order or he’d get all kinds of confused. “Sirius found me at the house and gave me to Hagrid-“

 

“Why would he do that?” Euphemia gasped out and Harry twisted around to see his grandmother grasping his grandfather’s arm tightly, he eyes red and tear tracks on her face.

 

Harry bit his lip. “He…well, he was going after…can I tell you later? I didn’t find out about any of this until I was older and I need…”

 

“Just take your time, Harry,” his grandfather said solemnly, shifting so his wife was against his chest.

 

Harry turned back toward the portraits. “Hagrid took me to Dumbledore. Dumbledore gave me to my mum’s sister. I heard later that my aunt came out the next morning to get the milk and found me in a basket on her doorstep.”

 

“What?!” Fleamont roared. He wasn’t the only one. Many of the portraits were yelling out angrily. His grandmother had begun to cry once again. Dorea looked seconds away from cursing someone, as did Charlus.

 

And Caelum looked confused. “Your mum’s family? Why not us?”

 

Harry bit his lip. “I didn’t even know there were more Potters. I was told that I was…the last.”

 

Eileene gasped loudly, “Archie?”

 

Harry shook his head and the family once again started shouting questions. Harry just sat in the front chair behind the desk. Unable to answer any of the questions that were being thrown at him, Harry just continued to shake his head until Linford once again shouted for everyone to be quiet. “Alright,” he started, once everyone had somewhat calmed. “From what we can gather, within the next four years, the entire Potter family will be destroyed. To find out what we need to do to fix this situation, we need to hear the boy out. Harry, if you would continue.”

 

Harry nodded and kept his eyes focused on the desk as he continued. He would continue but they really didn’t need to know much about his time with the Dursley’s. “My mum’s sister is a muggle and I was raised by her and her muggle husband,” he tried to keep his voice firm but even he could hear the obvious break. He cleared his throat and continued. Ralston huffed and crossed his arms over his chest.  “My cousin is only a couple months older than me so they were stuck with an extra kid who wasn’t theirs… and they didn’t like magic much. I wasn’t told anything about my parents until I was eleven. Well, they told me my parents died in a car crash.”

 

“What’s a car?” Hardwin questioned.

 

“A form of muggle transportation,” Caelum answered hoarsely from behind Harry. Harry didn’t turn to look at him, instead keeping his eyes focused just to the side of Linden’s portrait.

 

“Why would James be using muggle transportation?”

 

“They didn’t want me to know about magic,” Harry said quickly and then kept talking so they wouldn’t think much about that statement. “My letter came on my eleventh birthday and my uncle tried to keep it from me. But they kept coming. Eventually, Hagrid was sent to give me my letter personally. He’s the one that took me to Diagon Alley and told me what happened to my parents. And about Voldemort. Uh…” Harry sorted through his memories, trying to decide what was important. Oh. “Uh, I went to get my wand and the one that chose me was the brother of Voldemort’s wand,” he bit his lip as the mutterings started up once again. “I went to Hogwarts and met my best friend, Ron Weasley.”

 

“Ah, the Weasley’s!” Merrill said with a smile. “I was close to one of the Weasley’s. Tell me, do they still stick with the tradition of having an outrageous number of children?”

 

Harry wouldn’t really call it ‘outrageous’ but considering most pureblood families have one or two children, he guessed he could see how that was odd. “Seven. Ron is the youngest boy and the second youngest overall.”

 

“Brilliant!”

 

“Please continue,” Hardwin said, rolling his eyes in Merrill’s direction. Merrill just grinned unrepentantly.

 

“Uh, I was sorted into Gryffindor,” he started and many of them nodded and smiled. He smiled back, thankful that he had left out the fact that the hat had wanted to place him in Slytherin. “Nothing really interesting happened until a bit later. I kind of made an enemy out of Draco Malfoy by refusing his friendship on our first day,” eye rolls and mutterings, “and he challenged me to a duel one night. Ron and I snuck out and Hermione Granger followed us. We ran into another friend, Neville Longbottom.”

 

“Longbottom is a familiar name,” Gilbert commented. “But Granger-“

 

“She’s muggleborn,” Harry responded, daring the irritating man to say another word.

 

To his surprise, Gilbert just nodded. “As I believed. Continue.”

 

“Malfoy had turned us over to Filch and we ended up running to avoid him,” Harry snarled, still angry about the incident. “We ended up on the third floor in the restricted area-“

 

“Restricted area?”

 

Oh. Harry hadn’t mentioned that. “At the welcoming feast, Dumbledore told us to stay out or we could have a painful death.”

 

“Excuse me?” Dorea snapped, getting to her feat angrily. “And why would someone as young as eleven have a painful death by stepping in a specific corridor of a school?”

 

“Because there was a massive three headed dog guarding a trapdoor,” Harry said bluntly and Dorea’s mouth dropped.

 

“A Cerberus? Inside Hogwarts? What is Dumbledore thinking?” Fleamont grated. Harry grimaced.

 

“Well, we saw the Cerberus and managed to get away,” he continued, not wanting to get into that until later. “Oh, I was placed on the Quidditch team-“

 

“As a first year?” Charlus asked, smiling brightly. “Good on you!”

 

“Yeah. But in my first game someone tried to kill me. Cursed my broom. I was fine,” he said quickly when it looked as if Euphemia was going to jump out of her chair and check him for injuries. She didn’t seem to be the only one upset. Harry wondered if it was wrong to feel a rush of pleasure at so many people seeming to worry about him. “Hermione thought it was Snape and she set his robes on fire-“

 

“Snape? As in Severus Snape?” Caelum asked, blinking in surprise. Harry nodded and the man groaned. “James and Snape don’t get along at all,” he explained to the rest of the room. “From what I’ve heard, Snape is one of the most targeted for James and his friends pranks. He’s your teacher?”

 

“Potions. And he hates me.”

 

“Brilliant move, James,” Caelum sighed.

 

Euphemia shook her head as well. “He’ll grow up eventually.”

 

“So you became friends with this Hermione?” Linfred asked, turning their attention back to the topic. “I don’t suppose she would set a professor on fire for someone that she wasn’t close to.”

 

Harry groaned. “Sorry. I keep getting things out of order. Um, on Halloween my Defense professor, Quirrell ran into the Great Hall during the feast and started screaming about a troll being in the dungeon. Dumbledore told us all to go to the dorms but Ron and Hermione had had an…argument earlier that day and Hermione was crying in the girls bathroom. Ron and I went to get her but by that time, the troll was out of the dungeon. He went into a room and Ron and I locked it inside.”

 

“You should have run!” Euphemia gasped.

 

“Well, we then realized we had locked the troll in the girls bathroom with Hermione,” Harry admitted, rubbing the back of his neck. “So we went in. I, uh, reacted when the troll began to swing at Hermione and jumped on its back-“ he began to speak louder as the portraits began to reprimand him and both Euphemia and Dorea came to his side. “-and Ron managed to knock it out with its own club. So we kind of became friends after that. The professors found us and that was when we saw that Snape had been bitten by a dog. So we figured Snape had been trying to get past the Cerberus.”

 

“Why?” Linfred questioned. “What was the Cerberus guarding?”

 

Harry sighed. This was too confusing. “Uh, we managed to trick Hagrid into telling us that Dumbledore was protecting something for Nicholas Flamel-“

 

“The Sorcerers Stone,” Ralston spoke for the first time. He didn’t sound impressed. “Dumbledore was keeping the Sorcerers Stone in a school. To keep it safe. Why wasn’t it in Gringotts?”

 

“It was,” Harry informed them. “But Hagrid took it out right before someone broke into Gringotts and the vault it had been kept in.”

 

Ralston blinked and the other portraits began muttering once again. “Someone was able to break into Gringotts and get out? Without getting trapped?” Zedock questioned.

 

“Yeah. Big mystery. But when Hagrid told us that, we began to search for him. Let’s see…Hagrid hatched a dragon in his hut and we contacted Ron’s older brother who works with dragons. We were able to sneak out one night and give some of his brother’s friends the dragon but we got caught because Malfoy had turned us in. We got detention and ended up having to go into the Forbidden Forest and I got paired with Malfoy. Someone had been killing unicorns and Malfoy and I saw the person – drinking the unicorns blood.”

 

There was cursing and some of the portraits were shaking their heads in disbelief. “I figured then that the person that wanted the stone, that would risk being cursed by drinking the blood, was Voldemort.”

 

“Which is why you didn’t say he was dead. He wasn’t.”

 

“No,” Harry agreed. He took a deep breath. “Turns out that someone had tricked Hagrid and given him the dragon egg in exchange for information about Fluffy – the Cerberus.”

 

“Only Hagrid would name a Cerberus Fluffy,” Caelum muttered from behind him. Harry’s lips twitched.

 

“If you play music, Fluffy would fall asleep. So Ron, Hermione, and I all decided to tell Dumbledore what we found. But he wasn’t there. We tried to tell McGonagall but she just told us to go back to our dorm. So we waited until that night and went on our own.”

 

Euphemia groaned. “Oh, tell me you didn’t.”

 

“Sorry,” Harry muttered with a shrug. “We, uh, went and it turns out there were all these different trials from the professors. Fluffy was Hagrids. Professor Sprout put Devil’s Snare at the bottom of the trapdoor. Flitwick had a room with a bunch of flying keys and we had to find the right one to unlock the door. McGonagall’s was a giant chess game where we had to be pieces – it was only due to Ron that we made it through that alive. But he was hurt in the process…so Hermione and I had to go alone. The next was another troll but it had already been knocked out. Then it was Snape’s task. It was this riddle and there was fire…Hermione figured that one out but there was only enough potion to make it through the fire for one of us. So I drank it and she went back to get Ron help. When I got into the chamber, Professor Quirrell was there.”

 

“Quirrell? The Defense professor?”

 

“Yeah. I was surprised too,” Harry muttered, remembering the horror and surprise he had felt. “Turns out that Quirrell was the one trying to kill me and Snape was actually saying the counter curse. Anyway, Voldemort had…possessed Quirrell or something and was living like a parasite on the back of his head.” There were gasps of horror and some were looking at him in disgust. “Yeah. I got the stone in Dumbledore’s task and Quirrell tried to take it from me. But when he touched me…” Harry looked down at his hands. “I know now that my mum gave me some sort of protection when she died and Voldemort couldn’t touch me. Quirrell died and Voldemort became this spirit thing and disappeared.”

 

“And that was all your first year?” Euphemia asked, her voice shaking.

 

Harry nodded his head. “Yeah. I went back to the Dursley’s after that. Um, there was this incident with a house-elf…” Harry explained about not getting any mail that summer and then Dobby appearing in his room. He told about the letter from the Ministry, about going to the Weasley’s (Euphemia wanted to send them something in thanks. Fleamont told her they would have no idea what it was for.), about the confrontation in Diagon Alley with the Malfoy’s, and then about not being able to get onto the platform.

 

Euphemia groaned before he even said anything. “Please tell me you didn’t.”

 

“He’s a Potter. Of course he did!” Charlus laughed loudly. Harry could only smile sheepishly at his grandmother as he told them about flying the car to Hogwarts – and the consequences of doing so. He continued to tell about his second year, speaking quickly because he wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible – especially about his Parseltongue ability.

 

“The Potter’s have never had such a gift,” Linfred said, cutting Harry off. “Are we sure that this Lily Evans is muggleborn?”

 

“Our line has been entwined with many over the years,” Hardwin said, disagreeing with his father. “It is possible that the ability was just dormant until now.”

 

“It is unlikely that it would have never appeared until now,” Ulysses countered. “Parseltongue was a dying ability, even in my own time. Unless his mother also held the ability-“

 

“Or perhaps there is another reason,” Leander cut the former healer off. Harry’s eyes flickered toward the former unspeakable before flickering away instantly at the analyzing gaze. “Is there another explanation, Harry?”

 

Harry nodded is head sharply. “Dumbledore says that when Voldemort tried to kill me, he transferred some of his own powers into me.”

 

You would think that he would be getting used to the horrified gasps by now. “Transfer of power…” Ulysses muttered, his eyes wide as he stared at Leander.

 

“And the current Dark Lord disappearing. Possessing a professor…” Leander continued. Harry didn’t know what these two seemed to be discovering. Not with the way their eyes were locked on one another in a kind of horrified fascination.

 

“This is something we will discuss at another time,” Linfred said sharply and both portraits instantly averted their gaze. “Please continue, Harry.”

 

Harry frowned. He wanted to know what the two men were talking about but it was clear that the subject was closed. He began to speak about the petrifications and there was an explosion of cursing behind him. Harry turned in shock to see Charlus on his feet. “Again?! It happened again?”

 

Harry’s mouth was open but no words escaped. He wasn’t sure what he was supposed to say to that question. Dorea reached up and gently placed a hand on her husbands arm, a frown on her face. “Sorry. Charlus and I were both in Hogwarts when the Chamber was opened. A muggleborn girl was killed and Hogwarts was in danger of being closed. It wasn’t until one of the prefects caught-“

 

“It wasn’t Hagrid!” Harry cried out, knowing who the prefect in question was and who had been charged with the crime.

 

Dorea blinked. “I am aware of that. Though I do not know who the real culprit was, I knew even then that Hagrid was not the person responsible. However, the attacks stopped so it was believed that the danger had passed.”

 

“Of course it wasn’t Hagrid!” Charlus growled, his body so tense he was shaking as he scowled furiously. “I never liked Riddle-“

 

“That was clear, dear,” Dorea said in amusement.

 

“-and I got even more reason to hate be bastard after what he did to Hagrid! Him with his Slytherin followers-“

 

“Careful,” Dorea said sweetly, though he eyes flashed dangerously.

 

Charlus stopped, taking a deep breath. He reached over and placed his hand over Dorea’s. “You can’t deny that Riddle had a way with people. He got some of the most stuck-up –“

 

“Charlus.”

 

“-to follow whatever he said and then he disappeared. He broke those kids down enough that when he disappeared, they had no idea what to do on their own. You know as well as I do that some of them became followers of that madman when he began to promise-“

 

Wait.

 

“Riddle is Voldemort,” Harry said, cutting his great-uncle off.

 

Every eye in the room turned toward him.

 

“Wh-what did you say?” Dorea asked, her voice shaky and startled, losing her composure for the first time since Harry had met her. “Riddle disappeared a few years after we graduated. No one has heard from him. Many people think that he was killed when-“

 

“He’s alive. Tom Riddle is Voldemort,” Harry stated once again. Dorea just blinked at him, her hand tightening around Charlus’s. His great uncle was slowly paling beside her.

 

“How do you know that?” Euphemia questioned, her eyes landing on Dorea worryingly.

Harry was beginning to think there was more going on here than he was aware of.

 

“Uh, well…” Harry told them about the diary, about finding it and writing in it. He once again saw the Ulysses and Leander exchange a glance but he kept talking. He told them about the diary disappearing, about Hermione being petrified, about finding the paper in her hand and the realization of what was going on. Harry expressed the horror he felt when he and Ron overheard the conversation of Ginny being taken into the Chamber and how they had gone down to save her.

 

And then he told them about meeting a seventeen-year-old Tom Riddle. And finding out that he was Lord Voldemort.

 

Dorea gasped, her hand coming up over her mouth as tears filled her eyes and she shook her head. Charlus wrapped an arm around her shoulder but he didn’t look to be near as surprised as his wife. “I knew there was more to his little ‘study group’,” he growled. “Dorea and her cousins were always close to Riddle. Well, until our relationship was discovered in our seventh year. He and his little followers didn’t take too kindly to that.”

 

“Charlus!”

 

“What happened in the Chamber, Harry?” Fleamont asked quietly, not taking his eyes off of his younger brother and sister-in-law. Harry hesitantly told of his time in the chamber, glazing over just how big the basilisk was. He had a feeling his grandmother would not have been pleased by that revelation and he felt like he was using up whatever leeway he currently had. However, he had to explain exactly how he got the fang…

 

“Your arm?!” Euphemia gasped, fully standing and moving to Harry’s side. She dropped down to her knees and grabbed Harry’s arm, pushing his sleeve up so she could see the scar.

 

“But Fawkes cried on it!” Harry said quickly. She didn’t seem to find that very consoling as she continuously began to run her fingers over the wound. “So it healed and I used the fang to stab the basilisk-“

 

“What happened when you stabbed it?” Leander questioned in interest.

 

“It, uh, began to bleed ink? And Riddle…the fake one…disappeared.”

 

Ulysses let out a hiss as air escaped from his clenched teeth and he and Leander stared at one another. “Later,” Linfred stated sharply.

 

Harry took a deep breath. The next year was going to be difficult. “Okay, before I start – I know the truth now. So…just keep that in mind.” His grandmother, who had finally stood when Fleamont urged her to her feet, frowned even deeper than before. “Uh, in my third year, someone escaped from Azkaban.”

 

“What?!” Caelum yelped with wide eyes. “How?”

 

“I’ll get to that,” Harry muttered, running a hand through his already messy hair. “I met up with the Weasley’s in Diagon Alley,” he was not going to talk about the Dursley’s and his issue with Aunt Marge… “and Mr. Weasley told me that it was believed that the man that escaped was a Death Eater that would be after me.”

 

“Oh my,” Euphemia gasped, pressing her hand against her mouth as she stifled a sob. Fleamont wrapped her in a hug and looked at Harry over here head.

 

“Who was it?”

 

Harry hesitated. He knew he had to say it but he really didn’t want to. “Uh, Sirius Black. But he didn’t actually-“

 

“Of course he didn’t!” Dorea snapped as she shook her head frantically. Charlus nodded his agreement, as did the rest of the Potter’s.

 

“He didn’t. But I didn’t know that. Not then,” Harry winced, thinking back to the time he had absolutely hated his godfather. He went into detail of that year, including the Dementor’s and hearing his parents last moments. Even Fleamont closed his eyes tightly during that moment. Harry tried to go as quickly as possible. This…this had been one of the worst and best times of his life. Worst because of the Dementors. Because he had thought his fathers’ closest friend had betrayed his parents. But then he found out the truth and he was able to finally get some information that had been hidden from him for so long.

 

There wasn’t much interruption. It seemed that even the portraits found this to be a hard subject. Dorea was actually related to Sirius and had watched him grow up, so had Charlus. Caelum was his cousin. Or second cousin. Something like that. And Fleamont and Euphemia both thought of Sirius as another son. To know that he had been imprisoned for twelve years for betraying James, his brother in all but blood, and that he had actually believed he was to blame…it broke their hearts.

 

Hell, it broke Harry’s heart, just having to say it and think of it again.

 

“So, Sirius flew off and went into hiding,” Harry finished. “And I went back to the Dursley’s.” There was complete silence, everyone drawn into themselves after the difficult subject, and Harry decided the best thing to do would be to just continue. “Uh, the Weasley’s took me to the Quidditch World Cup that summer…”

 

The silence went on as Harry divulged what happened during his fourth year. Fleamont became furious when Harry explained that he had to take part in the tournament because of a contract – apparently with him being underage, his legal guardian should have been able to pull him from the competition. Harry merely shrugged. He was used to things like this in his life at this point. He went through the events of the tournament and then took a deep breath as he had to relive the nightmare of the graveyard. “He took…bones from his father,” Dorea said shakily, her voice betraying her disgust.

 

“Peter Petigrew killed that boy,” Euphemia unsteadily spoke. “That boy…that boy has been in my house so many times…”

 

“We don’t know if he follows Voldemort at this moment, love,” Fleamont consoled her. “He could have joined after he graduated. There is a chance to make sure none of this happens.”

 

“And he took your blood,” Caelum said to Harry, eyeing the scar Harry had revealed to the room as he spoke about Petigrew cutting his arm open.

 

“Voldemort returned,” Harry said, nodding his head in agreement. “He – he called his followers to him. Well, some of them, I guess? I doubt that’s all he has-“

 

“It was probably his closest,” Linfred told him.

 

“Oh. That makes sense. He, uh, talked a lot. Then he said he was going to kill me. He shot the killing curse at me and I used Expelliarmus-

 

“You used a disarming spell. Against the killing curse. And you’re still alive,” Leander said flatly. “How?”

 

“Something weird happened. The spells hit each other and then everything started shaking-“

 

“Of course,” Leander breathed, his eyes growing wide. “You said you had brother wands. What did you see?”

 

Harry swallowed hard. “People…ghosts…started appearing out of his wand. My parents…” he cleared his throat and avoided everyone’s gazes. “My parents told me how to get away. They said that when I broke the connection, they would linger just long enough for me to get back to the portkey. So that’s what I did. I ended up back at Hogwarts with Cedric’s body.”

 

He continued to speak, telling about Moody, well, the fake one and the real one, about how people have yet to believe that Voldemort had returned, he told them about the troubles he had had in school that year (minus Umbridge’s detentions), and why he was in the Department of Mysteries. “But Sirius was not there,” Linfred said, his head tilted as he regarded Harry.

 

“No,” Harry agreed, his previous feelings of anger and shame overwhelming him. “He tricked me. He knew that our minds were connected and he used it against me. He wanted the prophesy…”

 

“The prophesy that you were not aware of and have no idea what is included in it.”

 

“…yeah.”

 

“Well,” Linfred sighed, glancing around the room. “It seems we have a lot of work to do. So, where do we start?”

Chapter Text

“Information is valuable,” Merrill said slowly, his eyes somewhat glazed over as he seemed lost into his own mind. “The information we have been given is enough for us to make contingency plans. However, we still do not know why it is that the current Dark Lord targeted our family.”

 

“The prophecy,” Leander answered promptly. Every eye in the room turned toward him. “Even in my time, the orbs that hold the prophecies are spelled so that only the people the prophesy speaks of can remove them. If Harry was able to remove the prophesy, he is the one it spoke of. Whatever it said was important to the current Dark Lord. It would be logical to assume the reason he came after the family was because of whatever the prophesy said.”

 

“That doesn’t make sense!” Ralston protested. “If he already knew what the prophesy said, he wouldn’t have had to trick the boy into going to recover it!”

 

Harry made a sound of protest, even if he knew it was true. He had been tricked. He still didn’t like to hear about it. Especially this soon.

 

“Perhaps he was not aware of what it actually said,” Merrill continued, still in that dreamy tone. Actually, now that Harry was thinking about it, his tone reminded Harry of Luna Lovegood.

 

Who was still trapped somewhere in the Department of Mysteries in his own time.

 

Harry swallowed hard at the pang of guilt that overcame him at the thought.

 

“There is a possibility that he heard rumors of a prophesy and acted upon those rumors,” Merrill explained as everyone stared at him expectantly. “And after his plan to kill Harry failed, he decided he needed the actual prophesy so he could plan accordingly.” Merrill’s eyes focused in on Dorea. “However, we do not know the man beyond what we have been told. It is very fortunate that there is someone else here that knows him beyond what is widely known.”

 

Harry turned toward his great-aunt just in time to see her pale drastically, quite a talent considering how pale the Black family was already. “Lord Voldemort is completely different from the Tom Riddle I knew-“

 

“I disagree,” Charlus said promptly, ignoring the glare his wife sent his way. “I’d bet my teeth that Voldemort’s main followers are the same as his group of friends when we were at Hogwarts.”

 

Dorea looked as if she wanted to protest but Linfred was quick to ask, “And who would those be?”

 

“Abraxes Malfoy, Amon Avery, Robinne Lestrange, Edan Rosier, Dominic Mulciber, and Sebastian Nott,” Charlus instantly spouted names. Harry’s brows furrowed. He knew those names but…

 

“Lucius Malfoy is a Death Eater,” Harry said slowly. “Abraxes is…”

 

“Lucius is Abraxes’s son,” Caelum told Harry helpfully. “He and I attending Hogwarts at the same time.”

 

“Oh,” Harry’s brows furrowed. “I don’t remember Malfoy every saying anything about his grandfather. And in the graveyard that night, Voldemort only mentioned the name Malfoy once.”

 

“So Its possible that Abraxes is no longer alive during that time,” Fleamont mused.

 

“I recognize the other names as well,” Harry said helpfully. “He said Avery, Rosier, and Mulciber. Nott too – I go to school with Theodore Nott. His grandson maybe?” Harry frowned.

 

“Sebastian Nott does not have children,” Fleamont informed him. “He had a son but he was killed in an accident many years ago. I have heard that he recently remarried. It is possible your classmate is his son.”

 

Harry shrugged, not really caring how the Slytherin was related to the known Death Eater. “There are more that I know but I have no idea if they’re Death Eaters now. I mean, you know about Pettigrew. Then there is Barty Crouch Jr-“

 

“Bartemius’s son?” Fleamont questioned in surprise.

 

“He’s the one that was masquerading as Moody last year,” Harry told his grandfather.

 

“He is a couple of years younger than James,” Fleamont said with a frown. “He attends Hogwarts. If Voldemort was…if he disappeared a year after you were born, he would have still been in school when he was recruited.”

 

Harry bit his lip and glanced toward his great-aunt. “I – I think he did. Uh, Sirius mentioned that his brother was a Death Eater and was killed by Voldemort when he changed his mind.”

 

Dorea’s head turned slowly, her eyes wide and horrified as she stared at Harry. “Regulus? Regulus was a Death Eater?”

 

“Uh,” Harry shifted uncomfortably. “Yeah. I mean, that’s what Sirius said when I asked about his brother…” Harry trailed off as Dorea sucked in a quick breath and clenched her jaw. Charlus placed a hand on Dorea’s shoulder and the woman leaned into the touch. Harry quickly changed the subject, wanting to give her a minute to deal with the information. “I don’t know if the people I saw in the graveyard are the same as the ones he went to school with-“

 

“Some of them, probably,” Fleamont mused, also eyeing his brother and sister-in-law. “But it is likely that they are their children.”

 

“Let’s get back on track,” Linfred commented. “At the moment, we will assume that the reasons for this Dark Lord’s interest in our family revolves around this prophesy. It is likely that the prophesy does not exist at this moment.”

 

“If the current Dark Lord does not exist in the time of the boys birth, the prophesy will no longer exist,” Zedock mused.

 

“I believe,” Leander remarked, “that Ulysses and I have some thoughts on that subject. However,” he hesitated momentarily, “it would be best if we discussed it further before we took any action.” Ulysses nodded in agreement and Merrill stared at the two in horrified comprehension.

 

“You think that-“

 

“We are considering it.”

 

Merrill let out a shaky breath. “I think it would be best if we separated and gathered what information we can.”

 

“I agree,” Hardwin responded quickly.

 

“What about the boy?” Ralston snapped out. “Is it possible to return him to his own time?”

 

Harry’s head snapped toward the portrait. Why wouldn’t he be able to return to his time?

 

Leander shook his head slowly and a pit opened in Harry’s stomach. “The moment he stepped into our time, a new timeline was created. Even if we could send him forward, the world he entered would not be the same as the one he left.” Leander looked toward Harry, the pity clear in his gaze. “I am sorry. It would be best for us to establish a life for you here, in our own time.”

 

Harry forced himself to nod his head as his throat grew dry. He wouldn’t have been able to answer even if he tried. He was never going to go home. He would never know what had happened to his friends. Never know the true reason of why Voldemort attacked his family. There were so many questions that were never going to be answered. And yet, he would be here, with a family. His family. And this time, he could make sure that none of the things from his timeline happened. He could make sure his friends were safe.

 

“Then we will need to create an identity,” Fleamont said, clapping Harry on the shoulder and politely ignoring Harry’s flinch at the motion. “I know my son well and I do not believe that he is yet…mature enough to handle the truth of the situation.”

 

Euphemia opened her mouth to protest but she ended up grimacing and nodding her head. “I have to agree that James might take the situation…badly.”

 

“Or he’ll take it too well,” Caelum muttered. He shrugged at the looks he received. “James has been talking about the Evans girl since he stepped foot in Hogwarts. Who knows what he’ll do if he finds out that, in one timeline, they have a child together.”

 

“Agreed,” Linfred commented. “Fleamont, please begin the process.”

 

“We could claim him,” Charlus said. Harry turned toward his great-uncle, eyes wide. Charlus smiled at Harry softly. Harry could only open and close his mouth like a fish. “It is well known that it was difficult for the two of you to conceive James,” Charlus continued, his voice gentle as he turned his attention toward his brother. “If the two of you had a second child, it would be known throughout our society.”

 

“We, however, lived abroad during that time,” Dorea concluded, nodding her head in agreement with her husband. “After Caelum started at Hogwarts, Charlus and I relocated to our home in Greece and we do not socialize much. It would not be unprecedented for us to have another child.”

 

“James might be a bit oblivious,” Caelum said in amusement, “but I’m sure he would have noticed an extra person when we visited during the summers. Especially someone his own age.”

 

There was silence and Dorea sucked in a deep breath. “Not if there was a reason for it to be a secret.”

 

Euphemia rose an eyebrow. “And what could possibly constitute a secret of that magnitude?”

 

“If he wasn’t my son.”

 

There was a stunned silence. “What?!” Charlus finally snapped. “I would never-“

 

“I know that,” Dorea said, placing a gentle hand on her husbands arm. “There have always been rumors regarding our decision to leave Britain. One of those rumors is that I forced you to move due to an affair.”

 

“I have heard such a thing,” Fleamont admitted, shrugging at his brother sheepishly as the man grew red. “I did not bother to comment as the idea was so preposterous.”

 

“It is,” Dorea agreed. “But it gives us the perfect chance. If I found out about the affair and made Charlus cut off all contact with the other woman, he would not been aware of his child’s existence. If we say that he was raised with his mother until her unfortunate passing this past year, it would explain why Harry is…unaware of some things.”

 

Harry was shaking his head. “I don’t want people to-“

 

“Dorea is right, Harry,” Charlus said, his voice gruff. “It’s the best solution.”

 

“But-“

 

“It happens often, Harry,” Caelum said softly. “A lot of purebloods have partners beyond their spouses. They are usually careful that not child will be conceived during these unions but accidents do happen on occasion. The child is usually raised with its mother until maturity.”

 

Harry’s jaw clenched. “I – I don’t want everyone to think badly of you.”

 

Charlus merely smiled. “It won’t be spoken about. Well, not to my face, anyway. And since James is heir to the Lordship and Caelum would be considered second in line, there won’t be any arguments about successor. They will keep their opinions to themselves.”

 

Harry knew he had lost this battle. He still wasn’t happy about it but the fact that they would do something like this for him…it made him feel like they actually cared about him.

 

“Alright,” Fleamont said after a moment of silence. “I will get things in order. I will need to go to Gringotts.”

 

“I am going to contact Regulus,” Dorea said firmly. “It seems as if he needs someone to speak with if he is entertaining the idea of joining Voldemort.”

 

“I will get Harry settled in here,” Euphemia said firmly. “I think it would be best if you all move into the Manor until everything is taken care of.”

 

Caelum and Eileene exchanged a glance before Caelum nodded. “We will go home and get our things in the morning,” Caelum agreed.

 

“Then let us separate for now,” Linfred stated firmly. There were murmurs of agreement and Harry could only blink in surprise as, one by one, his ancestors disappeared from their frames. Linfred was the last to leave, saying that they would speak with them the following day before he too vanished.  

 

“Every member of the council has at least one other frame,” Fleamont explained to Harry as the family stood. Caelum stretched his hands up over his head and Harry winced at the loud pop that echoed throughout the room at the action. “We will give you a tour and you’ll be able to see the family wing. There are portraits from every member of the Potter family, including a second portrait for each member of the council. However, most of them have portraits in other places as well. For example, Linfred’s portrait in the Ministry. They all have access to information that we are not privy to.”

 

Harry slowly nodded his head and wondered what happened to Potter Manor and what happened to the portraits. If the manor was destroyed, would the family members with portraits outside the Manor have been spared? Was it possible he could have found members of his family in important Wizarding places?

 

Why had he never searched? Why had the thought never occurred to him?

 

“I will begin brewing a blood adoption potion,” Dorea said calmly. “Once ingested, Harry will appear officially on the tapestry as Charlus’s son.”

 

“Thank you,” Euphemia told her, placing a soft hand on the other woman’s arm. “I know this is difficult.”

 

Dorea gave her a small smile. “We’re family. It is necessary and I do not regret my choice.”

 

“I’ll contact Dumbledore about getting him a place in Hogwarts next year,” Charlus said as he wrapped an arm around his wife.

 

“And you,” Euphemia stated, taking two steps toward Harry and wrapping her arm around his own. “Appear exhausted. I will take you to your room for a good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we will take a tour of the manor.” Harry didn’t even find it in himself to protest as his grandmother steered him out of the room and down the hallway.

Chapter Text

Euphemia led Harry down the hall and to a grand staircase. Harry blushed as he tripped his way up the steps, his earlier adrenaline wearing off and his fatigue making itself known. Euphemia just smiled gently at him and continued up the staircase. “I had the elves prepare the room next to James,” she said as they finally stopped climbing and turned down a long hall. “Sirius stays with us occasionally as well, his room is across from James. Charlus and Dorea have a cottage in Godric’s Hollow but they have been staying in the main Manor with the war. Caelum and Eileene have a room on the next floor, the nursery is there and they want to be close to Archie.”

 

Harry nodded at the abundance of information. He felt like his head was going to explode. He was in the past. He had met his grandparents, his great-uncle and aunt, a cousin he hadn’t even known existed… it was so much. Too much.

 

He wanted to sleep.

 

“Here we are,” Euphemia said as they came to a stop. Harry glanced around, guiltily realizing he hadn’t paid the slightest bit of attention to how they had arrived where they were. His grandmother giggled slightly and squeezed his arm. “I’m sure that you will need some time, Harry, dear. I will check on you in a few hours. If you need anything before then, just call for Nissey.” Harry nodded and Euphemia smiled once more as she pushed the bedroom door open.

 

Well, it certainly wasn’t a bedroom.

 

At least, not one like Harry had ever seen.

 

There was a small sitting room that greeted him that held three, plush looking armchairs. They were surrounding an elaborate table. On the far right, a dark wood desk was sitting in the middle of the wall, two bookshelves on either side. Euphemia pulled Harry in and pushed open another door on the left wall. This led to a large bedroom, one that was easily the size of his own and Dudley’s. A bathroom with a large tub was seen through the open door on the right. “This…this is…”

 

“I hope you like it,” Euphemia said, looking a bit worried as she glanced around the room. “I had Nissey bring some of James old clothes for you as well, until we get something of your own. Those look as if they have seen better days,” she wrinkled her nose slightly as her eyes scanned Harry’s clothing.

 

Harry flushed. He was wearing some of his muggle clothing and, as usual, they were way too big for his slight frame. He glanced down, ashamed that he had been wearing these things when he finally met his family -and gaped at what he saw.

 

They were still the clothes he had put on that day but they were…torn, ripped…he could see drops of what looked like blood…

 

But he wasn’t in any pain.

 

Had he just not felt it yet?

 

“Take a bath, change into some of James’s old pajama’s, and get some sleep,” Euphemia said gently, placing a soft hand against Harry’s cheek. Harry swallowed hard around the sudden lump in his throat. “It has grown late. We will speak more in the morning. If you need anything, call for Nissey.”

 

“I – right. Thanks.”

 

“Anytime, dear,” came Euphemia’s soft response as she made her way out of the bedroom and sitting room, shutting the door softly behind her.

 

Harry waited just a moment, making sure she wasn’t returning, and then hurried into the bathroom. He tore of his shirt and looked at his torso, his eyes struggling to find the damage that he had obviously experienced. He remembered the glass falling on him. He remembered pain but…but he also forgot about it quickly enough and there hadn’t been any sign of it sense. And there wasn’t now. His skin looked perfectly normal. There weren’t any angry red lines, no sign of the blood that he had seen on his clothes…it was like it had never happened.

 

He looked at his shirt again. Obviously, it had.

 

He shook his head and turned around to grab the clothes his grandmother had mentioned, but when he did, something caught his eye. He quickly turned on his heel once again and saw it again. With a gasp, Harry leaned closer to the mirror. It was – it was there. He wasn’t imagining it.

 

He yelped and glanced down at his torso, his fingers pressing into the areas he remembered feeling cut. It was there too.

 

They looked like…scars. Like the cuts had healed ages ago. But…but they were…they were an odd color. Almost…golden.

 

Why did things like this always happen to him?

 

He looked up once again, only briefly catching the slight…sparkle? Glitter?...on his cheek as he did so. It was like the scars were shining as they caught the light. It was almost so fast that it could be blamed on a trick of the eye.

 

Unless you were looking for it.

 

Harry shook his head and moved away from the mirror. No. Bath. Bed. He could – could think about this later. He was sure there was some sort of explanation. Something that would make sense. Hermione would-

 

Oh.

 

Right. Hermione wouldn’t be able to help him. Hermione wasn’t even born yet. Neither was Ron or Neville or Luna or Ginny…or any of his other friends. Well, the twins were. And Ron’s other brothers. But they were…two? Three? They wouldn’t even know who he was.

 

He was never going to see his friends again.

 

Harry stiffly moved into the bedroom, picking up the clothes sitting on his bed, and then back toward the bath. He filled it quickly and stripped from his remaining clothes before stepping in and sinking below the surface.

 

At least with the hot water surrounding him, he could pretend there wasn’t any leaking from his eyes.

 

*****

 

He woke to a light knock on his door the next morning. Foggily, he wondered who would be at the door of his dorm room – all his dormmates were probably still sleeping and Hermione would just walk in. He huffed as the knocking continued and he rolled over, reaching for his glasses.

 

And met air.

 

Harry yelped as he hit the ground, the blankets surrounding him as they slid off of the bed. He sat up, confused, only to see dark blue walls.

 

Where am I?

 

The thought had barely crossed Harry’s mind when the door was slowly pushed open. “Harry? Are you alright?”

 

He looked toward the person that entered his room and instantly, his brain flooded with images. The Department of Mysteries. The orbs crashing around him. Meeting Lidner. His grandfather. Grandmother…

 

Who was staring wide amused eyes, her hand covering her mouth and her shoulders shaking.

 

“I fell,” Harry said, a blush spreading across his cheeks as he pushed himself to his feet.

 

“I can see that,” she teased. Her voice was still slightly muffled as here hand was still in the way. “Breakfast will be served soon. Get ready and I’ll take you down to the dining room. I’ll just be in the sitting room.”

 

The door closed once more and Harry took a shaky breath as he struggled to understand that this – this – was real. He was really here.

 

And he was staying.

 

His emotions were a mess of contradictions. What had Leander said? He had created a new timeline. This time, even if his friends didn’t know who he was, he could make sure they were safe. But his friends from the original timeline – they were beyond his help. Beyond anyone’s help. And he was here. Living with people that he had always dreamed of meeting.

 

He felt guilty.

 

And happy.

 

Harry pulled on some of the clothes he found in his wardrobe and did his morning routine. He was quick, fully aware that his grandmother was still waiting for him, and stumbled out into the sitting room in only a few minutes. Euphemia gracefully stood from where she had been perched in one of the armchairs and her eyes dropped down to Harry’s clothing. She pursed her lips slightly and nodded. “They’re a bit big. We’ll need to get you some clothes of your own soon. But, enough about that. Breakfast?”

 

“Yeah- uh, yes. Please.”

 

Euphemia smiled brightly and once again wrapped her arm through Harry’s, She led him down another mass of hallways and the large staircase and Harry found himself in the familiar dining room once again. He flushed slightly, realizing the rest of the family, even little Archie, was there. “Harry!” Fleamont greeted as they walked into the room. He stood and pressed his lips against Euphemia’s cheek before clapping a friendly hand on Harry’s shoulder. It took everything Harry had not to flinch. “How did you sleep?”

 

“Uh, fine,” Harry stammered as he sank into the chair his grandmother gestured toward. “The bed is nice.”

 

Fleamont chuckled and took his seat once more. “Well, we got a lot of things sorted last night. Would you like to talk about them now or after breakfast?”

 

Harry’s heart dropped. He was still trying to get his head around everything that had happened the day before – he wasn’t sure he was up for much talking and planning today. He sucked in a deep breath and steeled himself. “Now is fine,” he murmured as he tentatively took the plate of food Euphemia had plated up for him.

 

Fleamont nodded and took a bite of his own food before starting. “We have spoken to Dumbledore and explained the situation,” he sent a wink Harry’s way. Apparently, he had given their story to the Headmaster, not the truth. Which suited Harry fine. After this past year, he was beginning to wonder just how much he could trust the Headmaster. “You will be able to join as a sixth year student in September. However, in August, you will got to the ministry to take your OWL’s.”

 

OWL’s. Right. He had hoped to get away from that one.

 

“We collected the books used from the last five years,” Charlus said jovially. “After what you said about you schooling, we thought it would be best for you to have some…home tutoring this summer. To make sure you’re caught up with the rest of your class.”

 

The fork fell from Harry’s hand as he looked at his great-uncle, well, ‘father’, in horror. Charlus just laughed. “Don’t look so terrified. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

 

“I myself will be training you in potions,” Dorea said curtly. “I did not like what you said about your potions professor. We will be starting at the basics and you will achieve an O on by the time you take the exam.”

 

“Maybe there is something to worry about,” Caelum teased. He held up his hands as his mother turned to glare at him. “You can’t deny it! Plus, I’m just getting into character. Teasing my little brother, right?”

 

Charlus chortled into his juice and Dorea frowned at her son. Eileene shook her head. “You’re not making it better,” the woman said quietly in her husband’s direction.

 

“I see that,” he laughed.

 

Euphemia sighed and gently patted Harry’s arm. “I’m sure you’ll be fine, dear. And don’t worry too much about the exams. Everything will work out as it should.”

 

Harry nodded uneasily and picked up his fork. He had never been the best when it came to completing his homework or his end grades, but he wanted to make his family proud. With determination rising in his chest, Harry promised himself he would do whatever he had to do to make sure they did not have a reason to be upset with him. Even if it meant spending each and every day in the library.

 

Hermione would be proud.

Chapter Text

Harry kept his promise to himself and threw himself into studying. The books, obviously, were very different than the books he had in his own time but he was surprised how much…more he learned.

 

The Transfiguration and Charms books had spells in them that Harry had never heard of before. He questioned Fleamont, who had been working with him on the subjects, why that would be and the man had just sighed. “Spells are disappearing each year as Wizengamot judges them as dark.”

 

“But-“ Harry had protested, looking down at the spell he was currently working on, “how could this be classified as dark?”

 

Fleamont had just sighed. “Harry, one thing you will learn is that magic is neither light or dark. The Potter’s have been known as a Grey family for hundreds of years. Magic is…Euphemia will be much better at explaining this. I’m sure she has planned in your history of magic lesson. Let’s just say, for now, that there are many spells that can be used for harm, even if that was not their original intention. It just takes one person to use it as such and others decide to put limits on it.”

 

Harry had tried to get more information but Fleamont was firm and they continued on with their lessons. Harry found himself wondering more and more about Fleamont’s comment that the Potter family was considered Grey. He had never heard such a thing before…actually, he was sure he had been told that they were a Light family.

 

Hell, he wasn’t even sure what being a Grey family meant.

 

Which is what prompted him to ask his grandmother during their History lesson.

 

He’ll never forget the look on her face. It was a mixture of shock and horror. “Harry…are you saying that such a thing is not known in just a few years? You’ve only heard of Light and Dark?”

 

Harry had shifted and nodded his head. Euphemia’s lips pursed but she had given him a detailed response. “Magic has been part of the earth since it was formed. It is in the very soil, the air. There are many legends of how wizards came to be able to wield such power. Nevertheless, in the early days, magic was pure power. Wands were rarely used and old magic reigned. Everything was about balance. The Old Religion would punish those that used magic for personal gain. If you created something, something else would be taken in return. As time went on, a group formed that rallied against the Old Religion. They attempted to find a way around the personal gain rules and upset the balance. They began to dive into a darker form of magic and it twisted their magical cores. Core magic is passed from parent to child. The Dark Families and the families that still followed the Old Religion began the First Magical War. It was bloody and many magical families were exterminated. It also had another drastic consequence – it brought the muggles attention toward them. Soon, not only were the magical families fighting one another, but the muggles were also attempting to eradicate them as well. The Goddess looked down on mess her children had started and came up with her own end. She came to the conclusion that her children did not deserve the power that they had and she pulled it from them, leaving only the bare minimum of what they had once held. All the families retreated in horror at what they had done but the muggles were not aware of what had happened. They continued to hunt magic users.”

 

“It was generations later that it was discovered magic could still be used, but in a very different way than it had been before. Wands were needed to concentrate the magic on items. The great power, power of life and death, were no longer a possibility. Neither were elemental magics. And it became clear that magic was no longer equal as it had been. There were some spells easier for certain families that were more difficult for other families. It became apparent what the differences are. Those families that opposed the Old Religion had difficulties with spells that would be considered “Light” magic. Those that had supported the Old Religion had trouble with magic that was known as “Dark”. And then there were those that could perform both, though maybe not as easily as those that were affiliated with that type of magic.”

 

“They are known as the Grey families. Those families that did not fully involve themselves in the First Magic War. Those that did not completely support the Old Religion but they did not dive into the darkness that twisted their cores. The Potter family is one of those. The Black family is known as having a Dark core while the Weasley family has a Light core.”

 

“So Sirius-“

 

“His core is dark,” Euphemia said, smiling gently, “but that merely means Dark magic is much easier for him to accomplish and control. It does not mean he is a bad person. Just as having a Light core does not make someone a good person. My own family has a Light core, as do I. Dorea, as a Black, has a Dark core. The Potter family is one of the few left that are still able to easily mingle with those that have both types of cores.”

 

“What about muggleborns?”

 

“They are an interesting case,” Euphemia sighed, a frown pulling between her brows. “Some believe that muggleborns…steal magic. I do not believe that is the case. Muggleborn’s can have any type of core. I believe that this is a sign that, in their family line, someone had magic. Perhaps they are descended from a squib and the magic finally grew strong enough to manifest in that person. Perhaps they are from one of the lost families. However, this is all unproven. All that is truly known is that most muggleborns do have Light cores but it is a possibility for them to have Dark or Grey cores.”

 

Harry had found as many books as he possibly could on the subject after that. This was something he had never heard of, something he had never learned. The more he read, the more apparent it became that any magic that was considered Dark or even Grey had slowly been forbidden in the magical world. Magics such as Necromancy and Alchemy were considered Dark while Time Magic was a Grey art. All three would result in time in Azkaban.

 

Considering Harry had, unknowingly, performed Time Magic, he decided his family was right to keep that a secret.

 

Potions was another completely new experience. In their first lesson, Dorea had sat him down and questioned him relentlessly on what he knew of the subject. At the end of the inquisition, she had plopped a book on potions basics on the desk and told him to read through it that night and they would begin their lessons the next morning. Harry’s face had burned as he grabbed the book and made his way up to his room. He knew that he had problems with Potions, but he hadn’t expected it to be that bad. This book wasn’t even the one they gave to First Years…it was one they gave to muggleborn’s to read before their first year so they knew the basics.

 

It was embarrassing.

 

But he knew it was he right decision when he read the book.

 

He had no idea that cutting the ingredients different ways actually made them react differently in potions. He didn’t know that there was a reason you were supposed to add ingredients in a certain order and wait a certain amount of time. He had just thought that adding the ingredients would be enough. If he had this book before he started Hogwarts the first time, his potions scores probably would have been very, very different.

 

Well, maybe.

 

Snape had still been his Professor, after all.

 

After reading that book, things in his Potions lessons went quickly. Now that he knew why he was doing things, it was much easier for him to pay attention and do them correctly. Dorea had even seemed impressed by his Potions after the first few lessons.

 

It was in the beginning of the second week that Dorea finished the adoption potion. The entire family was standing around as Harry shakily raised the potions vial toward his lips. The potion wasn’t exactly pleasant but much better than Harry had had in the past (such as Polyjuice or Skele-gro). He placed the vial onto the table as his body began to shake. It was like ice began to flow throughout his veins instead of blood. Harry’s teeth chattered and he wrapped his arms around himself in an attempt to stop the cold. As quickly as it started, it began to fade. First his feet grew warm, then his legs, his torso, his arms, his head…and then he was burning. He gasped, not in pain but just in the abrupt change. Finally, the heat faded as well and Harry let out a shaky breath. Dorea grasped his shoulders and forced him to look at her. Her gray eyes travelled over his features before she nodded once, sharply. “It is done.”

 

She stepped back as Euphemia pulled him into a tight hug. “You will always be our grandson,” she whispered in Harry’s ear. Harry nodded. Though he was now biologically Fleamont’s nephew, Fleamont and Euphemia would always be his grandparents. “Now,” she said, now loud enough for the rest of the family to hear her. “I suppose you want to look into a mirror. So narcissistic,” she teased as she pulled away and steered Harry toward the mirror they had set up before he took the potion.

 

Harry gazed into the mirror and blinked in surprise. There really wasn’t much of a difference. His face had grown a bit sharper, his cheekbones more prominent. He was a bit taller, judging by the way his shirt sleeves were raised a bit more than they had been before. The biggest change was his eyes. Gone was the bright green, now replaced by a light hazel. Harry had felt a pang at the loss but he supposed it would be for the best. It would be difficult to explain why his eyes perfectly matched the muggleborn Lily Evans.

 

Finally, it was time for James to return to Potter Manor. Harry was anxious the entire morning. How would James Potter react to knowing he had a new cousin? Especially one that had randomly appeared the way Harry had? Harry shifted from where he was sitting at the dining table. He had taken the seat across from Dorea, leaving the seat between himself and where Euphemia usually sat open. Euphemia and Fleamont had both gone to retrieve James from the platform.

 

“Calm down, Harry,” Caelum said in amusement as he looked at his younger brother. “It’ll be fine. And if James is his usual jerk self, I’ll set him straight.”

 

“Caelum!” Dorea snapped. “Do not speak of your cousin in such a way!”

 

“Sure,” Caelum readily agreed, winking at Harry. “Truthfully, James can be a bit of a prat but I really don’t think you have anything to worry about.” Harry nodded in response and Caelum sent him another smile before he turned to say something to his wife. Eileene instantly reacted, lightly hitting her husbands’ arm.

 

Harry was sure he didn’t want to know what his ‘brother’ had said.

 

“We’re here!” Euphemia said, grinning brightly as she walked into the dining room with a familiar figure on her arm. Harry swallowed hard. Even now, he looked remarkably similar to James Potter.

 

“Your prince has arrived!” James said loudly, laughing when Caelum instantly threw a dinner roll at his head. He ducked and the roll hit the far wall. Dorea turned toward her son furiously but Caelum just rolled his eyes in response. “Alright, alright. I see where I’m not wanted,” James continued as he smirked at his cousin.

 

“You might want to reign in that ego before Caelum throws something bigger than a roll,” Fleamont said in amusement as he stood behind his son. “James, this is your cousin, Harry. Harry, this is James.”

 

James eyes landed on Harry and he blinked a moment in surprise. Then a wide, mischievous grin crossed his face. “Pleased to met you, Harry. Mum, dad, you sure you two don’t have something to tell me? Looks more like my long-lost twin than my cousin.”

 

“I think one of us would have mentioned if you had a twin brother, James,” Euphemia giggled as her son led her to her seat. James pecked his mother on the cheek as he pushed her chair in.

 

“Yeah, well, you would think someone would have mentioned another cousin as well,” James retorted as he plopped himself into his own chair. He instantly began to grab food from the middle of the table and load it onto his plate. Fleamont sighed at his son’s actions but didn’t say anything to reprimand him. “So, Harry, mum and dad said you’ll be joining Hogwarts next year? What year?”

 

Harry swallowed hard and tried to reply. No words came out. He cleared his throat, his face flushing. “Uh, sixth.”

 

“Ah, so you’re younger than me. I’ll be entering my seventh year,” James said as he shoved food into his mouth. “I can introduce you to some people in your year-“

 

“James, chew before you speak.”

 

James swallowed and gave his mother a cheeky grin. “Yeah, yeah. I know. Manners and all that,” he smirked in Harry’s direction, like they were in on some secret joke. Harry smiled back lightly. He was unsure of what was going on but the interaction was similar enough to how Ron and Mrs. Weasley acted that he felt like he could do so.

 

“Harry will be taking his OWL’s in August,” Dorea told James. “His schooling was a bit…lacking. We have lessons scheduled a few times a week to prepare him. Perhaps you would like to-“

 

“Yeah, not doing that, Auntie,” James said, scrunching up his nose. “I mean, uh, if you need help, I can do that,” he said, catching the glare his mother was sending his way. He shrugged his shoulders at Harry. “I just don’t want to do it all the time. This is summer break, you know?”

 

“It’s fine,” Harry murmured. “I’ll be fine.”

 

“You’re doing great,” Caelum said reassuringly, cutting off whatever reply James was getting ready to say. “Your Herbology is really coming along.”

 

“Thanks,” Harry said, flushing. Caelum and Eileene had taken over his herbology tutoring, while Charlus had focused on Astrology and Care of Magical Creatures. No one in his family had bothered with Divination and they had all agreed his Defense was more than passable. Dorea had hinted on more than one occasion that she would be happy to work with him on Ancient Runes if he wanted to drop Divination. Harry was considering it but he wasn’t sure if he was up for learning an entire two years’ worth of a subject in two months.

 

“Do you play Quidditch?” James asked, pointedly swallowing his food before he did so. Harry’s lips twitched.

 

“Yeah. Seeker.”

 

James entire face lit up and he smiled. “Great! We can play sometime – my friends will be over at some point and we can play three on three if we can convince Caelum to play,” he shot a conspiring glance toward his older cousin.

 

Caelum rolled his eyes. “Sure, I’ll play. I was a seeker as well,” he said to Harry. A smirk crossed his face. “It’ll be an interesting game, little brother.”

 

Harry couldn’t help but chuckle, “we’ll see. I’m pretty good.”

 

Caelum let out a moan. “James has been here for five minutes and he’s already corrupted him! I knew this would happen!”

 

“That was a bit more forward than usual,” Charlus laughed loudly. “But I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing. You could speak up more often, Harry!”

 

“No!” Caelum continued to wail. “I must keep him away from James at all costs!”

 

“Try it!” James retorted, narrowing his eyes playfully and pointing his knife at Caelum.

 

Harry watched the interactions around him in awe. While the family was always at ease around one another and joked around often enough, the atmosphere was completely different with James mixed in. There was an era of levity that hadn’t been there until now and smiles were plastered on everyone’s faces. Even Dorea had hidden a laugh behind her hand more than once. It reminded Harry of the Weasley house whenever the twins pulled one of their pranks – well, until Mrs. Weasley found out.

 

Harry enjoyed it.

 

It didn’t change over the next week. Harry continued his lessons but, despite him saying otherwise, James joined him more often than not. He was very direct in correcting Harry if he was about to do something incorrectly or if he didn’t feel his family explained something clear enough. Harry was surprised to realize that James was actually one of the top students in his year. Caelum had told Harry that James probably would have been first, if he actually tried to do so. Instead, he spent most of his time focusing on pranks and his friends. He and Harry went flying a few times a week and James was adamant that Harry was going to be placed on the team. The Gryffindor seeker had graduated the year before and James had been dreading finding a replacement. He kept saying that he had to hold tryouts, for it to be fair, but he knew that Harry would be placed on the team.

 

It was a little over a week later that things changed. They had just finished dinner that night and were all preparing to go their separate ways when Nissey popped into the dining room with wide eyes. “Masters and Mistress’s needs to come to foyer! Little Master too!”

 

Fleamont and Euphemia glanced at each other before quickly moving toward he door. James was already in front of them, jogging toward the front of the house. Charlus clapped a hand down on Harry’s shoulder as they followed the others out into the foyer.

 

Harry’s mouth dropped.

 

A younger version of his godfather was standing in the foyer, leaning against the wall. In truth, it looked as if the wall was the only reason Sirius was on his feet at all. His entire body was shaking, blood was falling from his nose and mouth…and maybe his ears. He kept blinking as if he was trying to keep himself awake. James yelled his best friends name as he ran toward him, pulling the boy away from the wall. Sirius’s knees buckled and he tilted, falling into James. James arms came around him to keep him standing. “Mum!”

 

“Let’s get him to his room,” Euphemia fluttered, her hands coming to rest on Sirius’s cheeks. “We need potions-“

 

“Put him to bed. I will get them,” Dorea said quickly, sending her nephew a worried glance as she almost ran from the room.

 

Fleamont moved forward, putting his arm around Sirius’s waist and helping James support Siriius as they moved toward the stairs. “Caelum, water?” Euphemia asked as they moved past the family. Caelum didn’t respond, just ran toward the kitchen. “Nissey! I need towels! Put them in Sirius’s room! And help Dorea with whatever she needs.”

 

Harry stood there, staring at the place where his godfather had been. There was a smear of blood on the wall. He thought back to the day his godfather had told him that he had ran away to the Potter house after getting into an argument with his parents. An argument. Sirius had never said anything about this. No wonder his godfather hated his family home so much.

 

Harry would hate it too.

 

After a moment, Harry realized he was standing alone in the foyer. The rest of the family had followed after Fleamont and James. Harry hesitated for a moment, wondering if he would really be welcome. His heart was pounding in his chest and his hands were sweating. He wanted nothing more than to be in that room. In his time, Sirius had survived. But…but this was a new timeline. What if Harry had messed something up and his godfather never made it to his eighteenth birthday?

 

He needed to be there.

 

Harry ran up the stairs, thankful that he had finally found his way around the Manor, and slipped through the open door. Euphemia was sitting on Sirius’s bed, where the boy was lying. Dorea was standing over her, pouring potions down his throat. Most of the family was standing back, watching the two women work. James was pacing in front of the bed. He paused for just a moment when he saw Harry standing there but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t order Harry away or demand to know why he was there. Instead, he just made his way toward him and leaned against the wall, letting their shoulders brush together as they both stared at the bed as they watched their family attempt to save Sirius Black.

Chapter Text

Harry had to force himself to keep the smile on his face as Sirius and James roared with laughter in front of him. They were telling him stories of Hogwarts – well, mostly, they were telling him stories of situations their group had gotten themselves in and the pranks they played on other students. Again. “And then he flew through the air and-“

 

“Harry? Ready for your lesson?” Caelum questioned as he lightly knocked his knuckles on James open door.

 

Relief flooded his system. “Of course,” Harry said quickly, standing and giving James and Sirius an apologetic grin.

 

James pouted at his cousin, “Oh, come on! One day of missing lessons isn’t going to cause him to fail his exams!”

 

Caelum’s eyebrows rose, his eyes flickering toward Harry, and Harry shot a pleading glance at his ‘brother’. Caelum’s lips twitched up briefly before he schooled his expression and turned his attention toward his younger cousin. “No can do. Dad’s taking him to the Ministry next week. You can do whatever it is you want to do after that.”

 

“Spoilsport.”

 

“Always,” Caelum said good naturedly as he clapped his hand down on Harry’s shoulder. “Ready?”

 

“Yeah,” Harry said in relief. He quickly waved at James and Sirius. “See you guys later!”

 

“We’ll play Quidditch!”

 

Harry and Caelum walked out the door and into the hallway. Harry waited until they had turned down the next hall before he let his shoulders drop and he let out a tired sigh. Caelum chuckled and he wrapped a friendly arm around Harry’s shoulders. “So, I noticed you don’t really enjoy many of the stories those two tell about their pranks.”

 

Harry grimaced and ran a tired hand across his face. “I – I don’t dislike them.” At Caelum’s disbelieving expression, Harry groaned. “I just – I don’t know. It doesn’t seem very…nice.”

 

“Because it isn’t,” Caelum replied instantly. By that point, the two had stepped into the Potter Library and Caelum sighed as he sank into one of the comfortable armchairs. “Harry, I don’t know just how much you knew about your fa…about James. He’s a good kid, really, but he’s also his parent’s miracle child. Uncle never thought he was going to have a child. He had actually named me as his heir until the entire family was shocked to realize that Auntie was pregnant. They were very protective of him and he learned some…bad habits. Especially when it comes to getting what he wants. He is growing up, Harry. One day, he might even become the man people described to you. But right now…”

 

“Right now, he’s the bully I saw in Snape’s memories,” Harry muttered, thinking to the pensive memory he had seen earlier that year. At Caelum’s inquiring glance, Harry quickly, and a bit sheepishly, admitted what he had seen. Caelum paled during the explanation and, by the end, his face was buried in his hands.

 

“That…that is far beyond the pranks he’s told us about,” he sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Probably because he knew that Auntie would be absolutely furious.” He shook his head again and sighed. “Enough about that. Did you finish reading the fifth-year book?”

 

The two moved on with their lesson. Harry, as promised, joined James and Sirius for some flying that night and he good time. It made up for the uncomfortable moments, as it did so often.

 

Things had been a bit rocky at first, when Sirius was aware enough to actually recognize that there was another person hanging around Potter Manor. After demanding to know who he was, Sirius had watched him carefully for over a week. Harry knew the other boy was examining is interactions with each member of the Potter family, probably a little weary that Harry’s presence would interrupt the dynamic he knew within the family. But, eventually, he seemed to accept Harry. He and James had begun to include Harry in many of their day to day activities. Harry enjoyed that. He liked getting to know this Sirius. However, the more he learned about their school pranks, the more he thought of his own early school days in the muggle world.

 

He couldn’t help but empathize with those the pranks had be played on.

 

Well, not all of them.

 

There were some pranks they told him about that were funny. Those were the ones that reminded him of the Weasley twins. Those he could say he enjoyed.

 

Harry kept to himself most of the week, focusing on his studies. He wanted to be sure and show his family that the help they had given him the last few weeks hadn’t in been in vain.

 

“So, Harry, do you feel prepared for today?” Fleamont questioned from his place at the head of the table. Harry slowly nodded his head but he kept his eyes focused on his plate. He thought he would do okay but he was still nervous that he would somehow mess everything up and fail. Then he wouldn’t be able to attend Hogwarts at all.

 

And they would all be very disappointed in him.

 

Which might actually be worse.

 

“We should leave soon,” Charlus said brightly, finishing off the juice he had been drinking and smiling in his ‘sons’ direction. “Wouldn’t want to piss anyone off by being late!”

 

“Charlus!” Dorea snapped.

 

“What? He’s fifteen, not five.”

 

“It’s still not appropriate!”

 

“He’s fine.”

 

Dorea huffed. “I think Harry’s probably heard much worse,” Caelum told his mom consolingly.

 

“That is not helpful!”

 

Sirius let out a bark of laughter and Dorea’s attention instantly shifted toward her second cousin. “You are certainly not one to comment. I’ve heard the things that come out of your mouth.”

 

Sirius winked and shrugged his shoulders. “Cousin, you don’t know half of what comes out of-“

 

“Okay!” James cut his best friend off, shaking his head in amusement as Sirius began to laugh a bit maniacally. Dorea was glaring at the younger Black, her hand tight around the fork in her hand. Caelum, who had risen his hand to cover the smile on his face, shifted his chair closer toward his wife and further away from his mother.

 

Harry didn’t blame him.

 

“We should go before the next Black war starts in our dining room,” Charlus mock whispered across the table toward Harry. Harry blinked, wanting to ask about the fact Charlus had said the next Black war, but the questioned was pushed aside by his nerves returning as he actually registered the rest of that sentence.

 

Harry nodded and pushed himself away from the table. “Good luck!” Euphemia said brightly, standing as well and pulling him into a hug. “We’ll see you when you return.”

 

The rest of the family gave him their wishes as well and, soon enough, Harry found himself standing in the middle of the Ministry of Magic. “Fourth floor,” Charlus said to Harry, leading him toward the elevators. As they walked past the portraits in the lobby, many of them smiled at Harry or waved. A few scowled. Linfred smiled at them and wished Harry luck as they walked past.

 

The Ministry officials were waiting for them impatiently when they walked into the room. Harry was instantly separated from Charlus and placed in a room with one woman that obviously did not agree with the fact that Harry was getting ‘special attention’. Harry just kept his mouth shut, something he probably should have done the past year when he was in his own time, and began his exam.

 

The woman was reminding him of a certain pink toad.

 

The faster he finished the exam, the faster he could get away from her.

 

The day went both too fast and too slow and by the end of it, Harry’s head was pounding. He stumbled out of the testing room and saw his…father…sitting not too far away. “Finished?” Charlus asked sleepily. Harry didn’t blame him – he had been sitting in that chair for hours. Harry nodded and Charlus stood, yawning widely. “Alright, did they say when you’d get your results?”

 

“It’ll go out a week before the school year,” Harry answered, “Same as the rest of the class.”

 

“Good,” Charlus responded, clapping his hand down on Harry’s shoulder and steering him toward the door. “You have the rest of the summer to take a break. No more lessons! Excited?”

 

Harry cracked a smile. “Yeah, I guess.” Inside, however, he was wondering just what the rest of the summer was going to bring. Now that he didn’t have lessons as an excuse, what would James and Sirius be planning?

 

It turns out that they were planning many, many things. Some of them were things Harry enjoyed, such as quidditch, venturing into Diagon Alley, and their time ‘experimenting’ in the kitchen. James and Sirius had absolutely no idea how to cook and Harry wasn’t used to cooking with magic. It had been a disaster that ended with inedible food and very irritated house-elves. On the bright side, Charlus had found it hilarious. Fleamont had even joined in on the laughter until his wife walked into the room.

 

Dorea had not been amused.

 

Caelum was very good at calming his mother down. Harry would forever be thankful to his ‘brother’.

 

While there had certainly been good days, there had been just as many that Harry would have rather forgotten about. Harry would admit that he wasn’t used to…going all the time. Not if he didn’t have to. He liked having time to be alone. He was even beginning to enjoy studying wizarding history – especially the areas of light, gray, and dark magic. He had never heard of the differences between them other than light was good and dark was bad. He was beginning to see that it was much more complicated than that and he found himself drawn to the information. He would have happily sat in the library and devoured each and every book the Potter family had on the subject…but James and Sirius both seemed offended by him not wanting to be with them throughout all of their ‘adventures’. They spent a lot of time planning their future pranks. As James told him multiple times, it was their “last year!” and they wanted it to be spectacular. That would have been fine if each prank seemed to revolve around other students.

 

And not in a funny way.

 

Many of them actually focused on Severus Snape and Regulus Black.

 

Harry was beginning to understand why his former potions professor hated him so much.

 

Harry snuck away on occasion to spend time with Caelum, Eileene, and Archie. The last couple of months had left Harry feeling as if Caelum truly was his older brother. Eileene was extremely sweet and helped Harry in any way she could. Harry was surprised to find out that Eileene had actually been a Hufflepuff when she attended Hogwarts and she and Caelum, who had been in Gryffindor, had actually not even known each other until they were partnered together for a project in History of Magic during their seventh year. Eileene explained that Archie was actually named after her grandfather, Archibold. The young boy, who would have been a couple of years older than Harry in his original timeline, was very brave for such a small boy. Eileene and Caelum had to keep a close eye on the toddler as he had recently learned that he could escape from his parents and find mischief within the manor.

 

Overall, his days were spent in relative comfort and ease. There were times when Harry felt guilty about not telling James and Sirius the truth. Everyone else in the family knew and had been a few close calls, when Harry made a comment about something that hadn’t happened, something that wasn’t invented, or just someone that no one else knew, and James would get this…look on his face. The rest of the family was always quick to jump in with an explanation but the incidents always left Harry with guilt pooled in his stomach.

 

It was a couple of weeks before Harry was to start at Hogwarts when the three boys received their school letters. And, in Harry’s, was also his OWL results. He breakfast table grew silent as Harry opened the envelope with shaking hands.

 

Astronomy: E Care of Magical Creatures: E Charms: O Defense Against the Dark Arts: O Divination: A Herbology: O History of Magic: O Potions: O Transfiguration: O

 

Harry let out a breath he had not even been aware he was holding in. “And?” Caelum asked as Harry’s eyes flickered up toward his family. Wordlessly, Harry held out the parchment. Caelum grabbed it from his hands and eagerly read the results out. Harry stared at his plate as he did so, unsure of if he should be happy about the results or disappointed. He had done better than he thought he would do but…well, he was afraid it wasn’t enough. He had not failed any subjects so that was good. But he got the A in Divination. His family had said they didn’t care for the subject, so that might be okay. But the E’s in Astronomy and Care of Magical Creatures…

 

“You did great, Harry!” Caelum said, looking at the parchment in satisfaction.

 

“Very well done,” Dorea said, a small smile on her face. “Do not worry about the Divination score. Unless you have a talent for the subject, it is useless.”

 

Euphemia had stood from her chair and leaned down to pull Harry into a hug. “You did so well! Didn’t he, dear?”

 

“He did. Congratulations, Harry,” Fleamont called from down the table.

 

“This deserves a celebration!” Charlus hooted. “What shall we do? How about a party? Let Harry meet some of the kids he’s going to school with!”

 

Harry hid a grimace but Caelum laughed loudly. “Harry’s not really the party type, dad. I think he’d rather us get him an owl or something.”

 

Harry’s eyes lit up but dimmed just as quickly as his mind instantly went to Hedwig. She was his first friend and he, honestly, thought he might miss her more than anyone else. She had always been there, through the Dursley’s, through all of his adventures…he hoped she was okay. That someone had taken her in.

 

“Well, we’ll see what we can do,” Dorea said, that small smile still on her face. “His birthday was just a couple of weeks ago, after all.” There was chuckles around the table as everyone remembered Harry’s birthday. They had all given him gifts, Euphemia and Fleamont had given him the full set of Wizarding History by Actumus Prewitt, a forty-set series that was actually banned in Britain for its “unsavory” content. Euphemia explained that it was truly because the author had refused to write in a way that painted the light side as being pure and angelic. Instead, the author had taken great pains to write every side of the conflicts and the works had instantly been added to the Ministry’s banned book list. However, there were those that were still capable of getting the series…such as the Potter family.

 

The books had been charmed so no one would be able to see the true contents besides members of the Potter family.

 

Charlus and Dorea had got him the best racing broom on the market. It was much, much slower than what Harry was used to but he had quickly grown accustomed to it. Sirius had given him a box of prank items. James had given him a broom kit, quidditch gloves, and a golden snitch. Caelum and Eileene had gifted him a photo book of the Potter family and quidditch tickets to a match the weekend before they left for Hogwarts.

 

It had been a great birthday- probably the best Harry had ever had. They had all, even Euphemia, Dorea, and Eileene, gone out to play a game of quidditch, then had a great dinner that consisted of all of Harry’s favorites, and finally, a cake.

 

Which had ended up all over the dining room during a food fight.

 

Courtesy of James.

 

Still, it had been fun.

 

They were all still chucking when Harry realized he didn’t hear the other boy’s loud laughter. With a frown, Harry glanced over toward his ‘cousin’. James was staring down at his letter, shock plastered across his face. “James?”

 

His voice seemed to snap James out of his trance. The older boy glanced up and opened his mouth. No words escaped. By now, the rest of the family and Sirius were also staring at the Potter heir. “Prongs? What? You get expelled or something?” Sirius laughed, reaching over and snatching the letter from James hands. As he did, something fell to the floor. Sirius frowned and glanced down. Harry watched as his own eyes grew wide and his mouth fell open. “You have got to be kidding!” Sirius finally sputtered, letting out a bark of laughter. He leaned down and picked up the item. “Ladies and Gentlemen, meet Hogwarts new Headboy!”

 

Sirius tossed the badge onto the table and every single person stared at the gold badge. “I- he… what?” James sputtered, shaking his head. “Me? Why?”

 

“I think we’re all asking that same question,” Caelum muttered, his eyes still on the badge.

 

“Caelum!” Dorea snapped but Harry saw her lips twitch. “Congratulations, James.”

 

“Dumbledore’s off his rocker,” James said, shaking his head yet again.

 

“Oh, I’m so proud of you!” Euphemia glowed, hugging her son the same way she had done a few moments before with Harry. “Now we have two things to celebrate!”

 

“We shouldn’t be celebrating! We should be mourning!” Sirius said dramatically, slamming his head down on the table. “Betrayal!”

 

“Shut up, Padfoot,” James laughed, grabbing the badge and holding it tightly in his hand. “I wonder…do you think Evan’s is Headgirl?” he asked hopefully. The question resulted in multiple pairs of rolled eyes and sighs but James didn’t let it faze him. No, instead his eyes took on this sort of dazed expression as a cheesy grin overtook his face.

 

Harry had to fight back a laugh. If this was how James got around his mother, he was beginning to understand why everyone said he was obsessed.

 

“Well, when should we go shopping? We need to get supplies and both of you need new robes,” Euphemia said, glancing at her son and…nephew. “Sirius, we would be happy to help you as well.”

 

“It’s okay,” Sirius said, shaking his head. “Uncle put some money in my personal vault. I’ll be fine for school this year.”

 

“If you do not, let me know. I would be happy to help,” Dorea told her younger cousin. Sirius gave her a small, almost shy smile.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“We’ll send a letter to Remus,” James said, that dazed look still in his eye. “And Pete. See when they can meet us. It’ll give them a chance to meet Harry as well.”

 

Harry’s hand clenched around his fork. Pete. As in Peter Pettigrew. Harry glanced up at his family, seeing all of them wearing conflicted expression – an expression that Harry probably had on his own face, at the moment. Hesitantly, Euphemia smiled, “That sounds nice, dear.”

 

Harry’s jaw clenched and he quickly focused on finishing his breakfast. He did not want to think of Peter Pettigrew. As far as he knew, the man (boy) could be the friend that Sirius and Remus had described to him. The boy that had followed them and pulled off pranks with them. Before he joined Voldemort. Before he betrayed Harry’s parents to the man and got his friend killed. But, even if he wasn’t that person yet, could Harry really force himself to be around him? This might be a different timeline but…well, was that something that could be changed?

 

What if he was already a Death Eater?

 

Harry excused himself quickly after that and spent the rest of the day in his room, reading his book. He forced a smile on his face at dinner when James said that he had heard back from Remus and they were all good to go shopping the next day and that Remus and Peter would be staying at Potter Manor until school started. Caelum joined him that night, apologizing that he and his family would not be joining them the next day. Harry understood, knowing the feeling of wanting to keep the people you loved safe.

 

Harry shifted uncomfortably the next day in front of Flourish and Blotts as they waited for Remus and Peter. The two arrived together right at ten that morning and James was quick to do an introduction. “Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, this is my cousin Harry. Harry is going to be joining us at Hogwarts this year. He’ll be in his sixth year and I’m sure we’ll be seeing him in the common room,” James said with a proud grin, clapping his hand down on Harrys shoulder.

 

Surprise flashed across Remus’s scared face but he was quick to hold out his hand. “Nice to meet you,” he said with a kind smile. A smile Harry knew all too well. It was good to know that Remus hadn’t changed that much. He certainly seemed happier now than he had in Harry’s time…of course, he hadn’t been through as much. Not yet.

 

Hopefully, not ever.

 

“You too,” Harry said, shaking the offered hand. He quickly took a step back, afraid that Peter would follow Remus’s example.

 

He shouldn’t have worried.

 

“I didn’t know you had another cousin,” Peter said, his voice whiny and high pitched. Harry forced back a smile at the sound.

 

“Well, I do,” James said, his eyes narrowing just slightly despite the smile he was still wearing. “Uncle Charlus’s son. Caelum’s brother.”

 

“Oh,” Peter said but he was wearing a frown as he looked Harry over.

 

“Let’s get inside,” Euphemia said quickly, waving her hands to usher the boys into the store. “Much to buy! We should get started so we can get home quickly,” she glanced down the strangely empty alley. Harry had never seen it like this. Any time he was here, it was bustling with energy and crowded with people. But now…now he could see people hurrying into stores, shoulders hunched and eyes flickering one way then the other. No one was speaking to anyone outside of their own tight groups.

 

This was a group of people who were scared.

 

This was the wizarding world with Voldemort at large.

 

The boys were all quick to grab their books. They then went to get their other supplies and school robes. “Can we go to quidditch-“

 

“Quickly,” Euphemia answered her son with a wane smile.

 

Dorea and Charlus exchanged a look. “We have an appointment. Harry, would you like to join us?” Dorea asked. Harry glanced over toward the four boys who were all laughing and joking, despite the somber mood surrounding them. As soon as his eyes landed on Peter, Harry nodded.

 

“Yeah, I’ll come.”

 

The three said their goodbyes and Harry was surprised to be led into a side alley he had never walked down before, then into a small sandwich shop. “It’s time for lunch,” Charlus said, seeing Harry’s surprise. Harry followed them slowly, unsure of why they had separated from the rest of the group just to go to lunch, until Dorea slid into a booth beside another figure. Harry froze as he laid eyes on the person. About the same age as him, pale skin, dark hair, and gray eyes that Harry would recognize anywhere.

 

Regulus Black.

Chapter Text

Harry knew he was staring but he couldn’t help himself. When he pictured Regulus Black in his mind, he always pictured another Sirius that carried himself with the pureblood dignity he had seen other Slytherin’s possess in school – a Lucius Malfoy with Sirius’s coloring, basically. But now, Harry was reminded that, in this time, Regulus Black was his age. In the original timeline, he had died in a couple of years.

 

He had never made it to adulthood to become that person Harry saw in his mind.

 

And, while he did look similar to Sirius, there was something different about Regulus Black.

 

His dark hair fell in the same waves toward his chin as his brothers but it was tamer than Harry had ever seen on the older Black. They had the same pale skin but on Regulus it looked more refined, somehow. Regulus’s cheekbones were sharper than Sirius’s and there was overall something much more delicate about him. The boy reached for the tea cup on the table and Harry found himself distracted by an elegant wrist that was connected to a hand with extremely long fingers. The hand lifted the tea cup and brought it up to a pair of pink lips…

 

And that was when Harry realized that while he had been studying Regulus Black, the boy had been studying him.

 

Gray eyes peered at Harry over the tea cup and Harry flushed as he met the dark gaze. Regulus’s eyebrow quirked up and the placed the cup back on the table.

 

Embarrassment rushed in Harry’s veins and he wondered if it was possible for him to find a way around this meeting. He hadn’t realized that Dorea and Charlus were going to be meeting the youngest Black and he was unsure if he was welcome…especially after he had been blatantly caught sizing the Slytherin up. Before Harry could figure out how to escape the awkward situation, Charlus clapped a hand down on Harry’s shoulder and barked out a laugh. “Come on, now,” he said, just loud enough for everyone in the café to hear the comment, “no reason to be embarrassed about finding appreciation in a good-looking guy!”

 

If he had been red before, Harry was sure it was nothing compared to how he looked now. He avoided looking toward Regulus Black as Charlus led him toward the table. He did look at Dorea, hoping that the woman would keep her husband in line, but he was dismayed to see her hiding a smile behind a pale hand. Still, she sent a slow wink Harry’s way when she saw him looking at her.

 

Sometimes, he really wondered just how sane his family was.

 

“Regulus, this is Harry. Harry is Charlus’s son from a previous…dalliance. He joined us this summer after his mother’s passing,” Dorea said, her voice curt. Harry clenched his jaw. He hated that his family had to lie, especially about something like that, because of him. The anger pushed his embarrassment aside enough that he was able to look at Regulus defiantly, daring him to say something regarding the situation.

 

However, there was a brief flicker of surprise in Regulus’s eyes before his disappeared behind a cool mask. “I see,” he said quietly as his eyes met Harry’s once more. “I am sorry for your loss.”

 

Harry blinked. Oh. Right. “Uh, yeah. Thanks,” he muttered as he looked away once more. He had expected the younger Black to comment about Charlus having an affair, or maybe about Harry’s obvious lack of pure-blood manners. Honestly, Harry had expected him to be another Malfoy. But the soft voice was soothing and deep, lacking the whiney/haughty quality that Malfoy’s had always held. Even Sirius and James had a kind of self-assurance in their voice that showed that they knew exactly who they were and what type of power and influence their names held.

 

Why was Harry unable to detect that in Regulus Black?

 

Was he just better at hiding it?

 

“I am disappointed I did not hear anything from you, Regulus,” Dorea said as tea and a tray of different sandwiches were placed in front of them. “Especially after Sirius arrived at Potter Manor.”

 

Regulus’s shoulders tensed as Dorea reprimanded him and he bowed his head slightly toward the older woman. “I am sorry, Aunt Dorea. Things have been quite difficult this summer and I did not want to burden you. I am pleased to know that Sirius was able to receive care at Potter Manor. Please give my appreciation to Lord and Lady Potter.” His gray eyes slid over toward Charlus and he bowed his head yet again. “And to you, Uncle Charlus.”

 

Charlus chuckled and shook his head. “No need for that! Though we would like to know what happened.”

 

Regulus’s blank mask faulted just slightly as a wince made its way across his face. He glanced away from the group momentarily before leaning back just slightly in his chair and letting out a tired sigh. Harry was surprised that the other boy had relaxed so easily in a public place and, by the looks Dorea and Charlus exchanged, they were as well. Which meant it probably wasn’t something the boy did often and they were worried about what it meant. “Mother and Sirius began arguing the moment we arrived home,” Regulus said quietly, his eyes still not looking directly at anyone sitting at the table. “Mother and Father received many letters about Sirius’s behavior at Hogwarts and Mother said Sirius needed to remember his place. I do not know all that happened. I tried to stay out of the situation as much as possible and whenever I tried to speak with my brother, he-“ Regulus broke off and cleared his throat. “Well, you know how Sirius feels about me. I did try to do what I could. I tried to speak with Mother and Father. Mother merely said if I did not remember my place, she would be happy to remind me,” Regulus winced yet again and Harry noticed how the other boy, unconsciously, began to rub his shoulder. “Father, as usual, said that Mother was in charge of punishments and it was best to not get involved. I had Kreacher place healing potions in Sirius’s food. The day before Sirius left, he pushed mother too far. She, in return, took the punishment too far.” Regulus’s eyes flickered up to Dorea. “Father had to step in before she killed him, Aunt Dorea. I was barely able to get to him in time.”

 

Dorea’s eyes were hard and her lips pursed as the story was concluded. She reached out and placed a gentle hand on Regulus’s arm. “It sounds as if you saved your brother, Regulus. I am sure he is thankful.”

 

Harry doubted that. Sirius had made it clear to Harry just how much he disliked his entire family. Including his younger brother. But…he hadn’t said anything about Regulus’s attempts to help him that summer.

 

Harry wondered if he even knew.

 

Regulus snorted and Dorea’s eyebrows shot up. “We both know that is not true, Auntie,” he said, shaking his head as his lips curled up into a mocking smile.

 

“Sirius cares about you, Regulus,” Dorea claimed, looking at him disapprovingly. “When the two of you were young-“

 

“Do not bring up the past,” Regulus sighed, reaching forward to pick up his cup once more. “Sirius has made it clear that he wants nothing to do with me or the rest of the family since his first year at Hogwarts. I am thankful that he is unhurt and safe with the Potter’s but I know better than to believe we will ever have that sort of closeness once more.”

 

Dorea’s lips pursed once more and Regulus turned his attention toward Harry. “I fear I am not making a very good impression. I apologize for bringing up such topics on our first meeting.”

 

“No! It’s…uh, fine. Yeah, fine.”

 

Regulus inclined his head and his lips twitched as Harry stumbled over his words. Harry clamped his mouth shut and just knew he was blushing yet again. What was it about Regulus Black that made him feel like an uneducated moron? “Still, I apologize and would appreciate your secrecy on these matters.”

 

Oh. Right. Of course he wouldn’t want people to know about any of this. Now that Harry thought about it, it was a bit strange that he had given so much information about his family to a complete stranger. But…Harry glanced at Dorea and Charlus. Maybe it was because he was considered family.

 

He wasn’t sure how he felt about that.

 

“Of course,” Harry said finally when he realized that Regulus was waiting for a response.

 

Regulus inclined his head once more and took a deep breath before sitting up fully, once more the perfect pureblood. “Forgive me, I should have inquired on your own health. Are you well?” Regulus questioned Dorea, finally reaching out to take one of the sandwiches.

 

“Very,” Dorea returned. “Caelum and Eileene are well. Archie misses you. Perhaps we could all meet for dinner one night before you return to Hogwarts? Harry will be joining you as well. The two of you are the same age.”

 

Regulus turned toward Harry once more. “Are we? Where did you attend school previously?”

 

Harry swallowed hard. “I didn’t. I had tutors.”

 

“Interesting,” Regulus murmured and Harry felt as if he was once again being picked apart and analyzed. “Well, I am sure Hogwarts will be a very intriguing experience for you. I assume you are hoping to be placed in Gryffindor? You are a Potter, after all.”

 

Harry shrugged and avoided the glare Dorea sent him at the motions. She had been trying all summer to break him of the habit. “Maybe. I guess we’ll see.”

 

The answer seemed to surprise Regulus but he didn’t comment. What Harry said was truthful – he assumed he would be in Gryffindor again, it wasn’t like he had changed a lot since the last time he was sorted. And he had proved himself by pulling the sword from the sorting hat in his second year, right? But he wouldn’t really care if he got placed in Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw. Not that he was smart enough to be in Ravenclaw…

 

Plus, there was the fact that the Potter’s were known for being in Gryffindor. He was sure everything would work out.

 

But he didn’t want Regulus to think that he despised those in other houses – even Slytherin. Especially if some of the Slytherin’s were like Regulus. He wasn’t what Harry expected and Harry was finding himself drawn toward the other boy. He wanted to know more about Regulus Black. Maybe there were others in Slytherin that Harry would get along with as well… honestly, the only people that he knew in the house were those that went out of their way to bother Harry. Like Malfoy and his flunkies. Parkinson. But there were other Slytherin’s in his year…there had been that quiet boy with the brown hair and the dark skinned one that always rolled his eyes when Malfoy spoke. Then there were the two girls that always spoke to each other and no one else, the blond and the one with dark hair.

 

Harry didn’t even know their names.

 

And wow, didn’t that make him feel like a complete wanker.

 

“Regulus, how are things for you with your Mother and Father?” Dorea questioned softly. Whatever humor and calmness on Regulus’s face was instantly wiped off as his mask was firmly placed.

 

“Everything is satisfactory.”

 

Well, even Harry didn’t believe that.

 

“You are welcome to visit if you need time to-“

 

“You want me to go to Potter Manor?” Regulus snorted, his voice rising for the first time since the group had arrived. He instantly seemed to be mortified, dropping his head. “Sorry. Thank you for the offer but I must decline. As you said, I will be returning to Hogwarts shortly.”

 

Dorea clearly did not like the response but she nodded in acknowledgment. “The offer will remain open. Please consider it.”

 

Regulus agreed but it was obvious that, to him at least, the subject was closed. “Well then, it was nice to see you but I must return home before Mother worries,” the words were said sardonically but Harry knew that the message was clear. Walburga Black probably didn’t even know her youngest son was here – and if she did, she probably didn’t know he was meeting with Potter’s. “Harry, I will see you it Hogwarts. If you need anything, please do not hesitate to ask.”

 

Surprisingly, Harry believed the words. “Thanks. It was, um, nice to meet you, too.”

 

Regulus’s lips twitched up in amusement as he reached down and squeezed his aunts’ hand. Dorea sighed. “I expect a letter from you within the next few days.”

 

“Yes, Auntie,” Regulus rolled his eyes, earning himself a light stinging hex, and he chuckled as he strode out of the café. Harry stared after him, wondering if there was any way he could save Regulus Black.

Chapter Text

“You boys be good,” Euphemia said as she pulled her son into a tight hug.

 

“Course! Don’t we always?” James questioned with a laugh, hugging his mother tightly before taking a step back. He glanced over his shoulder at the train as Harry’s grandmother turned to pull Sirius to her. “Hell. Last year.”

 

“You almost look sad,” Caelum teased, his arm around Harry’s shoulders as he looked at his younger cousin.

 

“I almost am! It’s terrible!”

 

There were low chuckles at the words but they were quick to taper off. Harry couldn’t stop himself from glancing around the platform every few seconds. First, he thought it was because he thinking how odd it was to be there and not see a single person he knew…but then he realized it was because the atmosphere itself was different. Like the Potter’s, each family was clustered close together, eyeing those around them warily as they safely saw their children onto the train. Harry had never felt something like that before. In his own time, children were running all around, greeting their friends, laughing loudly after an exciting summer. Parents would always be chatting to others, making sure their children didn’t forget anything, or reminding their anxious children to write.

 

Here, no one was talking above low murmurs.

 

“Alright, come on Harry! We need to get on the train,” James said, reaching out a clapping a hand down on Harry’s shoulder. Caelum’s arm fell at the action. “I have to find the Head Girl and have a meeting with the prefects…I think.”

 

Remus sighed. “Yes, James.”

 

James shrugged at his friend. “Hey, it’s not like I’ve don’t it before! You’re the prefect…”

 

Remus rolled his eyes before turning to Fleamont and Euphemia, thanking them for letting him stay the summer. Peter (who Harry now hated more than ever thanks to his irritating voice and constant whining the last few weeks) did the same. “Make sure you write us tonight!” Charlus said. Harry was getting ready to agree, knowing his family would be interested in which house he was sorted into, but he found himself freezing when Charlus pulled him in for a hug. Charlus laughed as he pulled away. “We’ll get there, lad.”

 

“It’s a process,” Euphemia agreed, wrapping Harry in her own hug. As soon as her arms dropped, more were around him. Then again.

 

“Alright! Let him go before he passes out or something!” James said loudly, making several people in the crowd jump and more look at him in disapproval. “Padfoot needs to find us a compartment before all of them are full.”

 

“I’ll protect him,” Sirius declared, throwing his own arm over Harry’s shoulders and then winking when Harry glanced up at him. Harry flushed at the action, making Sirius let out a loud bark of laughter.

 

“Don’t do it, padfoot,” James warned, his eyes narrowing behind his glasses.

 

“Wouldn’t dream of it, Prongs.”

 

“Better not,” Dorea warned coldly, her gray eyes meeting Sirius’s. they stared at each other challengingly for a moment, Sirius’s arm tightening around Harry, before a small smile cracked across the woman’s face. “Not that I think there’s anything to worry about. Harry seems to have a more…refined taste. Though I suppose the physical similarities could help.”

 

Sirius’s brows furrowed. “What?”

 

Harry’s cheeks flooded with heat and he let out a deep groan. Charlus laughed loudly, earning their group even more disgruntled gazes. Caelum flashed Harry a wicked grin, one that Harry was alarmed to see mirrored on James and Fleamont’s faces. “Time to go!” He said quickly, grabbing his trunk and moving toward the train. He ignored the laughter and inquiries behind him before turning and waving at the group. They all waved at him, wishing him luck and telling him to write. Then James and his friends joined Harry and the rest of the Potter family was hidden from view.

 

“We got to go,” James said, glancing down at his wristwatch and grimacing. “Already late. Hell.”

 

“Such a great start for the Head Prat,” Sirius teased, laughing as James scowled and sent a punch at his shoulder. “Wormtail and I will find a compartment.”

 

“Harry too,” James said quickly, pointedly glaring at his best friend.

Sirius raised his hands. “Harry too. I thought that was kind of a given.”

 

How nice, Harry thought sarcastically. It didn’t stop him from following Sirius and Pettigrew down the train and finally to an empty compartment. The three slipped inside and put their trunks away, Harry instantly taking a seat by the window. Sirius was teasing Pettigrew about not being tall enough to put his own trunk away…and not remembering that they could use magic to do so. “Really, Wormtail! You’ve been seventeen for almost a year! How stupid are you?”

 

The smaller boy flushed and shrugged his shoulders. “Sorry! I just…didn’t think about it.”

 

Sirius let out another bark of laughter and sank down to sit opposite of Harry. From the corner of his eye, Harry saw Pettigrew hesitate, glancing from Harry to Sirius and back again, then he took the seat beside Sirius.

 

Yeah, good choice.

 

“So, looking forward to Hogwarts?” Sirius questioned a few minutes later. “James is already planning on introducing you to some guys in your year and having you take the seeker position. You’d be better than the idiot we had last year.”

 

“Anyone would be,” Pettigrew squeaked.

 

“You don’t even know I’ll be sorted into Gryffindor,” Harry responded.

 

Sirius merely rolled his eyes. “You’re a Potter.”

 

And you’re a Black, Harry thought to himself, though he was smart enough to keep the words to himself. He doubted his godfather, or ex-godfather, would really appreciate it. Harry fell silent after that, watching as Sirius began to tell Pettigrew about all the pranks they had planned for the upcoming year and how James was planning on finally winning Evans over. Harry hid a small smile at the last bit, knowing that his father did end up with his mother sometime during the year. At least, that’s what Sirius had told him. He had wondered, at the time, how the two could have gotten together after the memory he saw in Snape’s pensive. Now, he would get to see it first-hand.

 

He was actually kind of excited about it.

 

It was a bit over an hour later when James and Remus showed up. Remus, Harry was amused to see, looked as if he had been hit by the train instead of riding in it. James was sporting the biggest, cheesiest grin Harry had seen from him. Sirius glanced at his friends and groaned loudly, throwing his head back against the seat of the train. “Evans is Headgirl, isn’t she?”

 

“You bet she is!” James cheered, pumping his fist into in the air. “I’m going to work with her, one on one, the entire year! We’re going to share a dorm, just the two of us! She’ll have to-“

 

“She doesn’t have to do anything,” Remus sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose and sinking down beside Pettigrew.

 

“But now she’ll at least-“

 

“James. She does not have to do anything,” Remus reiterated, fixing Harry’s father with a steely gaze. A gaze Harry had never really seen the older Remus give to anyone.

 

Harry was a little impressed.

 

The smile on James face didn’t fall but he did nod his head, showing that he understood what Remus was saying to him. He threw himself down onto the bench beside Harry, turning that creepy wide grin onto the younger Potter. “She’s amazing.”

 

“So I’ve heard.”

 

“She’s beautiful, smart, amazing…she has the best smile…”

 

“Wow,” Harry muttered, his voice hidden under Sirius’s groan.

 

“Enough about Evans!” the Black heir snapped, “Let’s get planning for our back to school prank. Which do you think…”

 

Harry tuned out, turning his attention to the window. Everything was so different. It was the same train, the same landscape…Hell, Harry even though he had sat in this compartment with his friends last year. But everything was just so odd. He knew Dumbledore was going to be the Headmaster. McGonagall  was head of Gryffindor. Snape would be there but he was a student, not a teacher. Madame Pomphrey was there, he thought he remembered Remus mentioning her. Or maybe she mentioned his dad at some point. Beyond that…beyond that, Harry really didn’t know. He didn’t know who was teaching there. Who taught Potions? Herbology? Hadn’t Flitwick said something about his mum? He could be there…

 

Hagrid. He would see Hagrid.

 

He wasn’t teaching but he was at the school.

 

But all the students would be different. He wouldn’t have Hermione sitting beside him, answering every question. No Ron to joke with. No Neville, Luna, Ginny, Seamus, Dean… hell, he might even welcome the sight of Malfoy at this point.

 

Maybe. Okay, maybe not Malfoy.

 

“We’re going to be there soon, Harry,” James said suddenly, breaking Harry out of his thoughts. Harry blinked, turning his eyes toward the other boy. He was surprised to see that all the others had already changed and the window was no longer shining with light. Even though he had been staring out the window, he hadn’t even noticed it growing dark. “You should probably get changed.”

 

Harry stood without a word and got changed, ignoring the looks the other boys were giving each other. “You alright?” James asked quietly when the train came to a stop a few minutes later and the other boys began to gather their things. “Nervous?”

“A bit,” Harry admitted.

 

James nudged him. “It’ll be fine. You’ll get sorted, sit with us at dinner and I’ll introduce you to some of the others in our house. You’ll love it here.”

 

Harry slowly nodded. “Yeah, I will.” He already did. He always had. Hogwarts was home. He was beginning to think of Potter Manor as home. As Charlus, Dorea, Caelum, Euphemia, Fleamont, Eileene, and little Archie as home. But Hogwarts was special.

 

It was something he could hold onto through all of this.

 

“You riding with us?” Sirius asked as the boys stepped off the train and began to walk toward the carriages.

 

Harry shook his head. “Dumbledore wants me with the first years.” It was the one thing he had been unhappy about. That he was going to have to ride the boats and be sorted in front of the entire school. He would have rather it been private. It was weird enough that he was coming in as a new student in his sixth year. He really didn’t want even more attention drawn to him.

 

“We will see you there,” Remus said softly, giving Harry a small smile as he moved forward. Harry returned the smile, then turned his head when he heard a familiar voice calling for the first years.

 

“Guess that’s me,” he grimaced, earning laughter and gentle teasing. He hurried toward the group of nervous children, most of them staring up at Hagrid with awe. Hagrid, seeing Harry approach, smiled broadly.

“Harry Potter?”

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

“Glad ta’ have ya,” he said. He then led the group toward the boats, Harry sitting behind two small children that both eyed him warily. He ignored the two of them, settling in for the ride across the lake. He had to duck down at one point, making him wonder how Hagrid was able to do this every year. The kids gasped when they finally laid eyes on Hogwarts. Harry managed to keep his own awe in this time but the appreciation for the castle was still there.

 

He was home.

 

Hagrid led them from the boat and to the entrance hall where they met Professor McGonagall . Harry’s lips twitched when the older witch, who was considerably younger than Harry remembered her, gave the exact same speech she had given in his own time. “Mr. Potter,” she said a moment later, “please wait here. Once the first years have been sorted, one of the other professors will retrieve you.”

 

Harry blinked at the new information and wasn’t able to respond before the doors opened and she led the other children into the Great Hall. Harry frowned, his mouth dry. So, not only was he going to be sorted in front of the school, he was also going to be led in on his own.

 

Fantastic.

 

“Mr. Potter? You may come in now.” Harry blinked down at the small, familiar professor. So he was there.

 

Flitwick walked down the middle of the Great Hall. Harry followed along behind him, trying to ignore the eyes that stared at him in curiosity. He did glance over toward the Gryffindor table when loud cheering erupted. Of course it was James and his friends. James gave him a thumbs up. Harry rolled his eyes and pointedly turned to face forward once more. “Harry Potter,” McGonagall  said, gesturing toward the stool in front of the head table. “Please take a seat. The sorting hat will be placed on your head.”

 

Harry did as instructed and the hat slid down, still too big even after four years. Oh, now this IS interesting. I admit that it was exciting when Albus told me we would have a new student starting in his sixth year, it isn’t often I get to sort someone that has had more years to develop, but your situation is particularly fascinating. Time travel is always so stimulating!

 

Please don’t-

 

Tell anyone? Of course I won’t! Now, let’s set about fixing the mistake I made before. Or will make, I suppose.

 

Wait, what are you

 

“Slytherin!”

 

The hat was pulled off his head and Harry sat, completely frozen, in front of every student at Hogwarts. Slytherin. The bloody hat had placed him in Slytherin.

 

“Mr. Potter,” Flitwick said kindly, pulling Harry’s attention toward him. “Please take a seat at the Slytherin table,” he gestured toward the far table.

 

With almost jerky movements, Harry stood and walked toward the silent table. His eyes moved across the seats briefly, wondering where it was he should sit, when they all suddenly shifted. He blinked in surprise when every person on the right stood and slipped down a seat, leaving a seat open in the middle of the table. Slowly, Harry moved toward it and slowly sat, hunching his shoulders just slightly in an attempt to get away from the staring.

 

“Don’t slouch. I’m sure my aunt has told you that it’s unbecoming.”

 

Harry’s shoulders jerked back instantly and his eyes flew up to the person on his right. Regulus stared back at him, his lips curled up into a faint smile. “I did say I would see you at Hogwarts,” he mused, his head tilting to the side. “Though I admit, I did not expect us to be sharing a room.”

 

“Neither did I,” Harry admitted. He really hadn’t. He had thought, with everything he had been through, that he would have been in Gryffindor. Hadn’t he pulled Gryffindor’s sword from the sorting hat? And yet… yet the hat placed him in Slytherin.

 

With Regulus Black.

 

Well, at least that wasn’t bad.

 

Speaking of Black…

 

Harry glanced up and met a pair of furious hazel eyes. Harry instantly averted his own gaze and tightened his hands into fists. He wasn’t sure at this moment who looked more enraged - Sirius or his father.

Chapter Text

Harry felt almost numb as he followed Regulus to the Slytherin common room. Throughout the entire feast, he stole glances across the Great Hall toward the Marauders. After the initial meeting of eyes, the four boys had bent their heads together and begun to speak hurriedly toward each other, James making big gestures with his hands, Sirius shaking his head on multiple occasions, and Remus pinching the bridge of his nose. It was clear they were debating something, probably him, and Harry has no idea what the outcome of that debate was.

 

He had a strange feeling that it wasn’t exactly good, considering not one of them looked his way again. Not even after the feast was finished.

 

Harry couldn’t say he was exactly surprised. He had almost been placed in Slytherin in his own time and he couldn’t exactly say the…traits of that house were no longer existent. But he was also a Gryffindor. Maybe the hat just wanted him to get a bit of both houses? Like it was trying to make sure he cultivated both sides of himself?

 

Yeah, he didn’t really believe it either.

 

“Alright?” Regulus asked quietly as he led Harry to stand against the far wall of the common room. His gray eyes flickered around the room as he spoke.

 

“Fine,” Harry replied quickly. He decided to take a page out of Regulus’s book and study the events of the common room. It was…completely different than the first night back in Gryffindor. In Gryffindor, there was always loud talking, joking, games… but here, everyone was in groups. Well, groups and then subgroups. It looked like everyone was standing with others in their year, then maybe by their friends? Or maybe there was something Harry was missing. The new first years were in the very middle of the common room, all looking around in a type of awe – awe that they were trying to conceal. Apparently, their Slytherin masks weren’t in place yet.

 

The second years were on the left of the new first years, furthest away from the portrait opening. A blond boy was standing in the middle of that group, a smirk on his face as the others seemed to lean toward him. The third years were beside them, a girl with cool eyes and dark hair standing center. Another girl was standing right behind her left shoulder, a boy behind her right. The rest of the third years were close enough that Harry could tell they were year mates, but they were standing behind the three. The fourth years had two distinct groups. A girl and a boy stood in the middle of each, both of the shooting occasional glares at the other. Harry guessed there was some sort of power struggle going on with them. The fifth years were all watching the fourth-year group in amusement, particularly the dark-haired boy that the other fifth years were swarming.

 

And then there were the sixth years. Harry didn’t notice it until that moment, but he and Regulus were standing against the wall with three other boys. There was one boy standing on the other side of Regulus, a boy Harry now noticed was glaring at him, and the other two were just slightly off to the side. Glancing to his other side, Harry noticed two girls watching him from the corner of their eyes. As soon as Harry looked in their direction, the two turned to face forward.

 

Harry shoved the observation into the back of his head as the portrait hole opened and a middle aged, balding man with a pot belly walked into the room. Harry vaguely remembered seeing the man sitting at the head table during the feast. “Welcome to Slytherin!” the man said, a bright smile on his lined face. “I am Professor Slughorn, the head of Slytherin House and your potions professor…” Harry tuned out as the man began to speak of Slytherin house having a united front. This man was different than he expected. He was extremely…cheery. In an almost creepy way. He wondered how much the greeting of Slytherin house had changed over the years. He couldn’t imagine Snape talking about the things Slughorn was saying…

 

Snape.

 

Harry’s eyes snapped over to the one section of the room he had yet to study. The seventh years were all staring at Slughorn, their faces carefully expressionless. Severus Snape was standing slightly apart from the rest of the group. He had always thought of Snape as the perfect Slytherin…yet he seemed to be distant from the rest. He thought back to what he had seen in the pensive all those months ago. Did his father and his friends have something to do with that? Had their bullying made Snape look weak to his house?

 

“I’ll show you to the dormitory,” Regulus said, startling Harry out of his thoughts. He blinked, only then realizing that, at some point, Snape had glanced in his direction and was holding his gaze steadily, a sneer clear on his face. Harry fought back a blush at being caught and quickly turned toward Regulus. The boy in question raised an eyebrow when Harry’s attention was on him. “Unless you would like to continuing ogling-“

 

“I wasn’t!” Harry yelped, no longer able to fight the blush when multiple pairs of eyes turned on him. “I mean, I was just…”

 

“And here I thought I was special,” Regulus quipped, his eyes shining as Harry ducked his head to hide his burning face. Of course, he had to bring that up. “Now, if you can pull yourself away from staring at Severus Snape, I will show you where you’ll be sleeping for the next nine months.”

 

Harry sputtered out a response as he followed a lightly chuckling Regulus up a flight of stairs. Harry’s shoulders tensed with the boys that had been standing with them fell in to walk behind him. He wanted to look over his shoulder, to check and make sure all they were doing was following him…but he was sure that wouldn’t be looked at well. So, he lightly let his right hand linger on his wand as he concentrated on what he could hear. If they made any sort of fast motion or if he heard a whispered spell, Harry would be ready.

 

Regulus pushed open one of the last doors down a long hallway. His gray eyes scanned the area quickly before he nodded decisively. “Herbert Burke,” Regulus motioned toward one of the boys with dark hair and eyes, “Evan Rosier,” sandy blond hair, green eyes, “and Damocles Rowle.” The boy that had been glaring at Harry. “Harry, you can have the bed beside my own.”

 

Harry saw Damoncles’s jaw tighten but the other boy didn’t say anything as Regulus led Harry over toward the far wall. He motioned toward the second bed as Regulus bent to open the trunk at the first bed. Harry, who saw a trunk that was decidedly not his at the foot of the bed Regulus had motioned to, turned his head. His belongings were placed at the bed furthest away from Regulus, the one by the door. He took a step back toward the other bed and Regulus stood up sharply. “Rowle,” he said sharply.

 

Damoncles scowled but strode forward, grabbing the trunk and dragging it over toward where Harry’s trunk sat. One of the other boys, Rosier, flicked his wand and Harry’s trunk floated to sit neatly at the end of his new bed. “That is taken care of,” Regulus stated mildly. The black school robe slid off of his shoulders and Harry, for reasons he will never understand, sharply turned on his heel. He immediately cursed himself for the idiotic action. The boy had taken of his robes. He still had the uniform on.

 

Which, judging by the rustling of clothing, he was taking off.

 

Deciding that he needed to distract himself, he quickly bent down to pull his trunk open. He grabbed a quill and parchment, then slid to sit on his bed. He bit his lip. He didn’t think they would mind, well, he knew Dorea wouldn’t. He doubted that Charlus or Caelum would care. But Fleamont and Euphemia? They had both been in Gryffindor. James was in Gryffindor. And they knew the truth, that Harry was actually their grandson. He was sure they had expected him to be in Gryffindor as well.

 

Better that he wrote them now, before they heard it from someone else.

 

Dear Charlus and Dorea,

 

I arrived at Hogwarts! The train ride was long, longer than I remember, and I Dumbledore had me wait until the first years were done being sorted until he brought me into the hall. I was sorted into Slytherin. James and Sirius didn’t really say anything to me. They were probably shocked. At least I have Regulus here.

 

Harry

 

Harry sighed as he reread the letter. It was…awkward but the best he could do at the moment.

 

And that was supposed to be the easy on.

 

Dear Fleamont and Euphemia,

I was sorted into Slytherin. It was a bit of a surprise, since I was expecting Gryffindor, but the hat mentioned I would do well here. You know, before. I guess it changed it’s mind this time. Anyway, I hope everything is well with you.

 

Harry

Chapter Text

After a restless night in which Harry tossed and turned for hours, Harry found himself slouched at the Slytherin table during breakfast, Regulus seated at his side. He picked at his food, not having an appetite, and glanced up toward the ceiling every few seconds. Anytime now, the mail would arrive and, hopefully, a response from his family. A ball of anxiety sat heavily in his chest, making him almost flinch each time he caught a glimpse of a change in the ceiling (he thought it was an owl…) or rustle of clothing (it sounded like wings, okay?!).

 

He wondered if it was possible to lose your mind in such a short amount of time.

 

“Sit up,” Regulus sighed, shifting slightly to dig his elbow into Harry’s side. Harry yelped, jerking away from the other boy and sending him a glare. “Do not look at me like that. You are worried, though there is no reason for you to be, and you are making a scene.”

 

“I’m sitting!”

 

“You’re moping. Stop it.”

 

A loud snort across the table had Harry sitting up straight instantly, which just got a noise of exasperated approval from Regulus. “He’s a Potter,” Severus Snape said, his dark eyes peering into Harry’s as he sneered. “He has no decorum or thought of how he is representing out house.”

 

“He might be a Potter,” Regulus retorted sharply, “but he was not raised as such. Do not place your dislike of his cousin onto Harry.”

 

Severus’s scowl grew but he fell silent. Harry swallowed hard. He glanced toward his right, seeing how each person at the table was sitting with their backs completely straight with their shoulders back. Many were eying him with disapproval. Taking a deep breath, Harry mimicked their posture. He winced at the feeling. He didn’t think he had ever sat like this and his back was already protesting. Considering he was only sixteen, that was a little worrying.

 

Just then, the sound of fluttering wings and loud hoots broke through the sudden silence. Harry’s hand tightened around the fork as a familiar brown owl landed in front of him. Dropping the fork completely, Harry shakily reached out and took the three letters tied to the owl’s leg. He stared down at the letters, oblivious to the fact that another owl had landed in front of Regulus with a letter for him as well. He didn’t see that Regulus gave both owls a treat. He just continued to look at the letters, his hand slightly shaking as he tried to make himself open them.

 

Are you a Gryffindor or not? Something in him scoffed. But then, from another area of his brain, there was a response. Not. Slytherin, remember?

 

“Open the letters, Harry,” Regulus sighed, folding his own letter with a satisfied smirk.

 

Harry shot a glare toward the other boy but hastily opened the first letter.

 

Harry,

Kind of disappointed that you didn’t think to send me a letter. Feeling the love, little brother. Anyway, Slytherin, huh? Congratulations. Based on the very INTERESTING tale I heard from dad, you’re probably pretty excited. Just remember that it isn’t polite to stare, especially when people are changing.

 

Your loving brother,

Caelum

PS: Harry, ignore my idiotic husband. Congratulations on your sorting, I’m sure everything will work out well.  – Eileene

 

 

Harry’s shoulder’s slumped in relief before he remembered himself and pulled them back. He should have sent a letter to Caelum – he wasn’t sure why he didn’t – but at least his brother and his family were standing beside him.

 

Dear Harry,

 

You just lost me ten galleons, kid! Dorea said you would end up in Slytherin, said she recognized a fellow snake or something to that effect, but I argued that you would be in Gryffindor. Considering the trouble you find yourself in, I thought it was a given. You think I would have learned not to bet against my wife over the past twenty years.

     

Thank you for proving me right, dear. Congratulations on your sorting, I am sure Regulus will take care of you. Please remember to be careful and keep in mind the lessons I gave you over the summer (feel free to forget everything you learned from Charlus).

 

You seemed very nervous in your letter. I hope you know that we would never be upset because of your sorting, no matter which house you found yourself in. Knowing my younger cousin, as well as my nephew, I’m going to assume they did not take it well. Give them time. Logic has never been their strong suite but they eventually figure things out. If not, I’ll make things clear to them when you return home at Christmas.

 

We look forward to hearing from you soon. Please be careful.

 

Dorea and Charlus.

 

And then there was one. This was the letter that Harry had been worried about. What if they rejected him? They had no obligation to him, not now. Not after he was blood adopted by Charlus. He couldn’t even really claim them beyond being his uncle and aunt. Not publicly, anyway.

 

Harry steeled himself. He had been in situations worse than this. He had received a lot of hate mail the last year, had also got letters of disappointment. This shouldn’t be any different.

 

Harry,

Slytherin, huh? Can’t say I was surprised – Charlus might be idiotic enough to bet against Dorea but I certainly wasn’t! Got me a good laugh at the look on my brothers face.

Be careful, Harry. Charlus said you met Regulus in Diagon Alley and he’s a good kid but, as you know, there are others already leaning toward his service. Keep your head down.

Now, other business. I contacted Albus and scheduled you a visit to Madame Phomfrey to do a health scan. Euphemia is worried that your past has affected you and I am inclined to agree. We had planned to take you to our own healer this summer but I’m afraid it slipped our minds, do forgive us. The appointment is after classes today, so be sure to be on time.

Congratulations on your sorting, Harry. I do hope everything goes well.

Fleamont

Harry,

          Oh, your uncle! The reason he had such a good laugh was because he had his own bet with his brother that has Charlus singing everything he tries to say and leaving him with bright, green hair. Look at him, trying to be so mature when he’s nothing but an overgrown child!

          You do show a lot of Slytherin characteristics, dear. I think Charlus was the only one of us that was truly surprised by your sorting, no matter what happened in the past. Dorea is rarely wrong about these things and I think she’s exited to have another Slytherin in the family.

          Do remember to go to the hospital wing after classes. Madame Pomfrey has agreed to send us the results and whatever is needed – and I fear that something will be needed. You are much smaller than James was last year and I am ashamed that we did not look into the issue sooner. Please forgive us.

          We will see you at Christmas, love. Make sure you write us soon!

Euphemia

 

With a large smile on his face, Harry folded up the letter and placed it with the other two, then carefully slipped them into his pocket.

 

“Feeling better?” Regulus asked wryly, rolling his eyes when Harry nodded. “Good. You didn’t even notice when Professor Slughorn brought your schedule. It seems we are taking most of the same classes, though I have Divination instead of Care of Magical Creatures.” He raised a judgmental eyebrow but Harry just returned it.

 

“Divination?”

 

“The Black family has had many seers in the past,” Regulus answered promptly. “If in the future another Black emerges with the gift, it would be paramount that they are understood. There have been many seers in the past that are looked at as if they are insane and are treated as such. I do not want the same to happen to a Black.”

 

Harry thought back to his own Divination professor and the real prophesy she had spoken during his exam in his third year. It was true that most people still thought of her as a fraud and slightly crazy – Harry would have been among them if he hadn’t heard her himself. He could understand why Regulus would want to continue the subject if there was a possibility of his family member having the gift in the future.

 

“Now, we best be leaving,” Regulus said, smoothly getting to his feet. “We need to stop by the dorm and get our books, of course, and it is quite the trek to Transfiguration. We would not want to be late.”

 

Harry nodded and downed his pumpkin juice before standing. He stumbled over the bench, flushing when eyes once again found their way to him. Harry ducked his head and fell into step right behind Regulus, noticing that the other sixth years did the same. Even the two girls that Harry still didn’t know the names of followed them. They had just made it to the doors of the Great Hall when four boys stepped into the room. Harry stopped, not even noticing when Damoncles quietly swore and side stepped to avoid running into him. James and Sirius both paused momentarily, their eyes flickering to Harry, then Regulus, before both of their expressions pinched and they brushed past the group without a word. Peter Pettigrew tested fate by actually chuckling as he walked past, sending Harry a superior look. And then there was Remus. Like Sirius and James, he paused when he saw Harry. Unlike those two, he actually gave him a small smile before ducking his head and hurrying toward the Gryffindor table.

 

“Well,” Regulus snarked, his eyes trailing the Gryffindor’s. “That was enlightening. Come, let’s get our things.”