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Deliberate

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Deliberate

A Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts Story

By Sif Shadowheart

Disclaimer:  Both the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises are part of/belong to the JK Rowling Wizarding Universe.  This is fanfiction without profit or infringement attached.

WARNING This Series Contains the Following:  SLASH, A/U, Non-Canon events/themes/pairings, Time-Travel, Graphic Depictions of Violence, Canon and Period-Appropriate Prejudice, A/B/O Dynamics, Mpreg, Threesom M/M/M, Soulmates, Bonding, Soulmate-Identifying Marks

 

Deliberate: (adjective);

  1. characterized by or resulting from careful and thorough consideration;
    1. a deliberate decision.
  2. characterized by awareness of the consequences;
    1. a deliberate act of protest.
  3. slow, unhurried, and steady as though allowing time for decision on each individual action involved;
    1. the jeweler worked at a deliberate pace.

 

One:

Nimue’s Tear

June 20, 1998; Department of Mysteries, Ministry of Magic, London

When Harry was an old wizard, with a weathered face that even into his second century his omega physiology refused to grow whiskers on, and skin dotted with age spots and turned crepe-thin with the march of time, he would often look back on the two months after the Battle of Hogwarts with a sort of fond resignation.

He couldn’t regret them – not with all the joy those months of struggle and grief and, towards the end, rage had led to.

Harry was damaged and disillusioned in the first days after the Battle, to say the least.

His grandfatherly mentor had – as Snape had put it – raised him like a pig to slaughter.  Created the perfect poster-boy for the Light and child soldier to follow his every order, dance to his called tune.  Harry being markless, born without the mark of a soulmate on his skin and never having one appear in all the years that the Headmaster knew him must have been a boon.  No soulmate to give Harry something to live for. 

That in the end Snape had, as always, also followed Dumbledore’s orders despite his anger and indignation for “Lily’s son” wasn’t a surprise.

For all he loved to play the bitter dungeon bat, Snape was Dumbledore’s man through and through.

He understood, especially once the kids who’d gone on to school and then stayed after it became clear the Death Eaters and Voldemort were in charge, that part of what kept Snape going was trying to protect his charges and the future of their world – but that too was one of Dumbledore’s commands.

Severus Snape, for all his foul temper and sharp tongue, had been just another chess piece on Dumbledore’s board but one that had known that better than any – and still he’d obeyed.

Harry might respect him more if there had been any sign of fractiousness on Snape’s part but from all he could tell, the man had been happiest – or at least most content – when he had orders to follow.

If it weren’t for the inventions of a young Severus Snape, Harry would question if the man had ever had an original thought in his life, so lashed to the will of other, stronger wizards as he was.

No, in the end, when it was all supposed to be over, Harry discovered that it might very well never be over.

Something about the world he’d been born into was deeply flawed.

He’d known that almost since the moment he’d stepped into Diagon Alley at eleven years old.

Magical society in Britain was quick to try and rebuild, trials for war crimes running at a steady clip, a minister selected from the non-Voldemort-regime staff (Kingsley Shacklebolt, interestingly enough) and within a matter of weeks if it weren’t for the lingering grief in the eyes and faces of those walking about, Harry would have thought that nothing at all had changed from almost a year spent under the heel of a psychopathic tyrant.

The “good” people of Britain who’d kept their heads down and gone along with the regime were quick to jump on the bandwagon and pardons allowed for fear and trying to protect themselves or their families, if, that was, there was no evidence to be found contrarywise.

When it was announced that Mafalda Hopkirk, who’d been one of the main witches on Umbridge’s loathsome Muggleborn Registration Committee, was being charged with precisely nothing at all despite the harm and terror she’d helped visit upon countless innocents, Harry felt something like cold disgust settle deep into his gut.

After all, she was a highly-valued ministry worker, Harry, we need her help to rebuild, Mr. Potter, that she was also a pureblood from an old family went unstated and ignored much like many of his protests to the members of the Order who rotated through his house at Grimmauld Place to “check” on how he was doing when he wasn’t needed at the Ministry or to give testimony before the Wizengamot for one trial or another.

No, nothing much had changed at all.

Honestly, looking back on those days when he realized that the war would never actually be over it would simply shift battlefields from actual battle to wars of words in the Ministry and Wizengamot halls, when his last few remaining blinders were well and truly stripped from him regarding the world he’d been unceremoniously dumped into at eleven, if it weren’t for what else happened in those early weeks before the event that changed everything he might’ve thrown in the towel in disgust and vanished off to live in the muggle world or a deserted island somewhere.

He was pretty sure that his inheritance from Sirius at least came with one though even with weeks to start slogging through his inheritance from various people – not only his family as it turned out – he’d yet to confirm.

But, as it happened, there was a singular spark of happiness and joy Harry had found in those weeks and his name was Teddy Lupin.

Andromeda was weak and grieving from a year of bitter losses, first her husband then her daughter and son-in-law on the same night, leaving her infant grandson an orphan with only an old-before-her-time grandmother and a shattered godfather to care for him.

While the strain of it was often too much for Andromeda, for Harry it was exactly what he needed to keep his head above the ever-rising waters of grief and stress and pressure now that he was once more the darling of Wizarding Great Britain.

He eagerly took on watching Teddy to lift as much of the burden of his care from Andromeda as he could in those days, albeit with quite a bit of half-hearted instruction from Andromeda at first before she felt truly comfortable leaving her grandson totally in his care.

But he fell head over heels in love with the little one the moment a red-eyed Andromeda placed him gently in his arms and Teddy blessed him with a gummy giggle and a change of his sandy-brown hair and amber-tinged brown eyes (definitely taking after Remus there) into Harry’s rather infamous combination of dark brown hair and emerald eyes.

“He likes you.”  Andromeda had told him with a nearly lifeless sigh in her voice.  “Ny-Nymphadora was the same when she was a baby.”

And that was that, both godson and godfather falling in deep and abiding love with each other.

Teddy was young, not passed the eat-sleep-coo-poop stage yet, but that didn’t stop Harry from spending any free moment he could with his godson, determined to be everything to Teddy that he’d wished for years Sirius had been able to be for him.

Even, as it happened, spending not necessarily free time with him as even with trying to keep each other up to speed on their schedules – healers were far more pressed for time lately than almost-martyrs and Andromeda was needed at St. Mungo’s, though if she was using the demands on her time to bury herself in work rather than her grief he found it hard to blame her – there, every now and again, came a conflict.

As was the case on that June day when Harry, innocently enough, had agreed to watch his godson when Andromeda was called in on an emergency case to the wizarding hospital despite having an appointment himself at the Ministry.

Well, it was with old Croaker down in the Department of Mysteries at least, and in the past the grumpy old swot had had a smile and a tweak to the chin for Teddy so hopefully he wouldn’t mind a napping addition to their meeting.

It was just going over old ground – for the hundredth time – on the Prophecy and Tom’s idiocy in his horcrux creation.

What could go wrong?

Harry should have, by then, known better than to tempt fate.

“Ow.”

Sitting up, Harry looked all around him, already cursing himself up one-side and down the other even as his free hand – the one not occupied with pressing itself to his forehead and trying to keep his skull from splitting right open and oozing his brain, as lacking in sense as it was at times, all over the cold tiles he was currently reclined upon – reached up and started automatically soothing a fussy Teddy in his baby sling strapped to his chest.

He knew better than to believe claims of “we’ve handled it, Harry” or “it’s inert, really, Mr. Potter” or at least he should.

The Head Unspeakable had sworn that all of the fancy doodads and gizmos in his office were just that: inert.

A bit of fanciful nonsense that used to be impressive magical artefacts of one make or another.

Still, given his luck, he found himself amazingly and distinctly not surprised to have reached out to steady himself during his meeting with Croaker in his office thanks to a random – but not entirely unexpected given that it was the Department of Mysteries and in Harry’s recent experience there were random experiments leading to random explosions going on there more often than not – quaking of the building surrounding him…only for the supposedly inert magical artefact, a type of opaque orb, to decide to wake the fuck up because he touched it.

He didn’t know what it’d done to him – not yet – but he knew better than to think it hadn’t done something.

Especially if – now that his splitting head was dulling down to a dull roar – the burning tingle located on his left pectoral, over his heart for Merlin’s sake, and on his right outside thigh were any sign.

Vision clearing as he very much did not think about what that burning signified as Teddy settled down to snuffling back into his disrupted nap – which was a good sign all told that whatever-the-fuck-happened affected Harry and not Teddy beyond a bit of inconvenience of having his caretaker suddenly on the floor instead of standing – he blinked as the other person in the office of the Head Unspeakable came into focus.

“You’re not Head Unspeakable Croaker.”  Was all he could think to say at the sight of a younger witch – which wasn’t saying much as he was pretty sure Croaker had been born somewhen around the Jurassic period – than the person he’d been speaking with just a few moments, as far as he was concerned, before.

“I should say not.”  The witch – who had silver-streaked black hair and the quicksilver eyes Harry recognized from his late godfather and Draco Malfoy as belonging to House Black – drawled with the crisp aristocratic tones that she likewise shared with her – family?  Maybe?  “As Unspeakable Croaker has only been with the Department for less than a decade.”

“Oh.”  Harry suddenly felt a wash of weakness crash over him, extremely glad that he’d not gathered his bearings to the point of standing as the reality of what her words meant made themselves known with an unflinching and unyielding merciless clarity.  Harry had been many things in his life but despite what some people had said he’d never truly been stupid or slow.  Trusting and naïve, maybe.  But not an idiot.  “Oh that’s…not good.”

“No.”  The Black witch who had likely preceded Croaker – or perhaps even Croaker’s own predecessor – as Head Unspeakable agreed, a bit of sharp humor twitching at the corner of her mouth as she took all of, well, all of it and him, in.  “No, I daresay it’s not.”

June 20, 1913; Office of the Head Unspeakable, Department of Mysteries, Ministry of Magic for Great Britain, London.

Isla Hitchens neé Black, Head Unspeakable for the Ministry of Magic for Wizarding Great Britain, watched with likely more amusement than appropriate for a witch of her age, breeding, and position as the young wizard sat stunned and gobsmacked on the cold tiles of her office floor.

Given the literal stack of paperwork that would have to go into handling his sudden appearance – especially since she could see a certain artefact laying innocently at his side and understood all of the ramifications thereof which he likely hasn’t even come close to approaching yet in his mental tumult – she however felt a bit of inappropriate humor over his fluster was in order nonetheless.

Holding in a sigh and already mentally composing – and directing a self-inking quill to take care of the practicalities – a note to her husband not to expect her for either lunch or dinner while she sorted out yet another DoM emergency, Isla rose and ushered the young wizard, and time-traveler, into one of her office chairs then picked up the infernal, and once again inert, magical artefact and placed it on the empty stand that had appeared on one of her shelves at the same time as her new guest.

Well, guests given the baby strapped to the young wizard’s chest and she would daresay that that is a circumstance that hadn’t been covered in the time-traveler sections of the DoM’s tome of operational procedures and their accompanying paperwork regarding the artefact that had dumped both young ones out onto her office floor.

One time-traveler, yes.

One plus an infant, not so much.

Isla was going to have to do all the paperwork to cover this situation and the wizard hadn’t even been presented with his options let alone chosen how he was going to proceed going forward which, depending on which avenue he chose of those available under the DoM’s SOP for time-travelers using his method of appearance, could increase her paperwork load to make him a legal citizen of Wizarding Great Britain substantially.

Wandlessly summoning a Calming Draught, she handed it and a glass of water to wash it down, over to the young wizard who despite being visibly shaken and checking on the infant strapped to his chest hadn’t reacted much at all to the sudden change of circumstances.

Interesting.

As was the narrowed-eyed glance he gave the vial, all rich suspicion and wariness, examining the color of the potion and sniffing it carefully before grimacing and knocking it back having ascertained its contents with a quickness that implied either skill in brewing or familiarity with Calming Draughts in particular or both.

The water was swift to follow the Draught and wash away the bitterness she knew lingered after it, then that wary gaze – quite the richest shade of vibrant emerald green she’d ever seen on anyone, especially someone with such strong Potter features, though she thought she saw a hint of Black here-and-there, who tended towards brown or hazel eyes – focused on her where she sat patiently and was already starting, little did he know it, on the mountain of paperwork his appearance had created for her.

“I know Unspeakables are a breed apart.”  Harry spoke calmly – part natural inclination and part the Draught – as he studied the witch on the other side of the wide Head Unspeakable’s desk.  “But you seem rather at ease with a strange wizard-and-baby appearing in your office out of thin air.”

Like it was a commonplace occurrence or somesuch.

Though given that it was the office of the Head Unspeakable of the Department of Mysteries, maybe it was at that.

“What do you know about the artefact that whisked you away into my presence, young man?”  Isla answered an implied question with an actual one of her own – more to know where to start than anything else.

Harry, more than familiar with that particular method of information gathering, held in both a snort and a roll of his eyes as he swayed in place to help lull Teddy deeper back into his interrupted naptime.

“Not a thing.”  He answered with a hint of intentionally-irritating cheer in his voice, the sort of cheek that would’ve had Snape wishing to wring his neck though sadly not effective in the least against his current audience from the deadpan look it got him from those iconic silver eyes.

“Very well, then.”  Isla nodded thoughtfully even as she focused once more on directing her auto-quills into filling out the basics of the situation on the myriad sheets of parchment required.  Particulars could be filled in later.  No need to waste time when she was more than capable of multi-tasking and with a babe involved soonest done was best for all concerned though there likewise was no need, thankfully, to lack thoroughness or care in preference for speed.  “That particular magical artefact is a queer one and ancient with it from a set of more than a dozen called in the modern era Nimue’s Tears.  They read as inert and magicless, completely harmless in fact, unless a very specific set of circumstances are met.  Would it be too much to assume that whilst you were, in fact, markless before entering this office in your time that that state has altered since your appearance upon my office floor?”

Harry swallowed, mouth suddenly dry at the waiting – but knowing – expression on the face of the Unspeakable before him.

“No.”  Harry admitted shakily as things started to come together in his mind.  “No, it wouldn’t.”

She nodded crisply.

It was as she’d expected.

“That is the function of the Tears, you see.”  She informed him, voice brisk but not without feeling for his unique situation.  “They activate when they come in contact with a markless personage and take them through time to an era where they will become marked due to an appropriate soulmate being present and available for bonding.  Part farseeing, part temporal manipulation, they’re quite powerful and unfortunately…”

“It’s permanent, isn’t it?”  Harry asked, having gotten that idea from the moment she said bonding.  “There’s no way to take me – and Teddy – back.”

“No.”  She told him, voice and face turning gentle in sympathy for the clear grief that crashed over him at that.  It had been a simple matter of observing his clothing, strange child-sling, and watch to ascertain that he was clearly from a future time and not the past.  Though she would need to confirm her observations for her forms and paperwork nonetheless.  Damn SOP.  “No, there’s not.  Wherever – whenever, rather – you came from, by bringing you here and becoming marked, that place doesn’t exist for you.  Not anymore.”

Blowing out a steadying breath some time later, Harry focused back on the Head Unspeakable – who he still didn’t know that name of but then he hadn’t introduced himself either – and gathered his scrambled brains, kicking himself from panic-this-isn’t-happening mode into fuck-this-is-happening-let’s-handle-it mode.

Were he on his own, he might revel a bit in the panic and cursing the fates or shaking his fist at the world but he wasn’t on his own.

Much like the bygone weeks since the Battle, there was Teddy to pull him beyond himself and his druthers.

He had a situation to handle, much as he’d prefer otherwise, and handle it he would.

If he had a breakdown and cry later when Teddy and he were both safe and he could let down his guard that was nobody’s business but his own.

“I suppose the appropriate questions at this point would be: what’s the date and who are you?”  He asked, proper mindset and nerves marshaled and prepared to do whatever was necessary to protect the precious bundle sleeping innocently and trusting against his heart.

Isla smiled.

There he was.

Something about him, about how he’d been reacting, besides that the Tear had chosen him, had told her that he wasn’t a wizard to dismiss.

It was the bit about the Tears she’d kept to herself.

They rarely activated for just anyone.

No, in the handful of properly-documented cases on file with the DoM and their partnered agencies worldwide, they’d recognized that when the Tears acted it was always for a wizard or witch of some level of power or consequence.

Someone who had agency in the world, who would act and change things, even if it was towards a purpose those documenting their life could never quite get the measure of, if the Tears acted on the behalf of someone to bring them to their soulmate – or mates – they in turn made a mark on the world.

There was a bit of academic argument regarding whether those marks were good or ill in the end depending on what camp or political party or staunch traditions those in the know possessed, their personal biases at play, but that the world was always changed when the Tears acted wasn’t in question.

“It is the twentieth of June, Nineteen-Thirteen, young wizard.”  Isla answered, no sign of all she’d been thinking in regards to time-travel via Nimue’s Tears showing on her face at all.  “My name is Isla Hitchens, Head Unspeakable, pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Harry blinked in surprise then shook it off.

He could freak out later over being almost a century in the past.

It was what happened now that was important, nothing else, given what he’d been told.

Though at least he was so far back that both Hermione’s warnings about wizards playing with time and Ms. Hitchens’ words about his future being gone made sense.

Even if he didn’t mean to do anything, he understood how ripples spread across a pond.

Small, near the point of origin.

But they grew larger and larger the farther away they got.

Just by being in the past rather than what once-was-his-present his future didn’t exist.

He might not exist anymore, or his friends, or anyone he’d ever met if he managed to find a way to time-travel so far forward.

Harry held in a dark bark of laughter rather reminiscent of his lost godfather.

More people to grieve, as if he hadn’t lost enough already.

Thanks-to-whomever-gave-a-damn that he’d had Teddy with him.

If he’d had to grieve for his little wolf as well…well.

That might have succeeded where Tom and Albus and all their plots and plans and minions had failed in breaking him irrevocably.

“Good to meet you.”  Harry finally returned her greeting.  “I’m Harry Potter and this is Teddy Lupin.  And we’re nowhere near home.”

“Yes, I’d rather gathered that.”  A flick of her wand sent a booklet from a warded drawer flying out and resting on the desk in front of him, complete with a little attached pre-inked quill.  “Time-travel, as I’m sure you’ve gathered,” she arched an expectant brow, smiling when he nodded in turn.  “Isn’t unheard of for the Department and as such there is a standard procedure written into our bylaws and code of law to deal with instances both short-and-long-term as well as permanent displacement.  I’ve given you the appropriate primer on both those procedures and bylaws as well as your options under the Permanent Displacement code of the Time-Traveler’s Bylaw of the Department of Mysteries as ratified by the Lords’ Moot and the International Confederation of Wizards under the Official Secrets Act of the ICW circa 1632 CE.  You – and your charge – fall under the Soulmate Acquisition Clause of the Nimue’s Tears exception to appropriate rectification measures.”

Harry’s head was spinning both from her gunfire-rapid explanation and what he was reading in the booklet that went a bit more in-depth to what laws and treaties and such he fell under thanks to a quirky magical artefact that – for reasons no one and nothing thus far had explained – by sucking him through space and time gave him more latitude he was starting to think than most time-travelers who got, for lack of a better term, stuck in the wrong time period were given.

“Somehow I have a feeling that I’m better off not knowing what the Ministry considers appropriate rectification measures.”  He noted drily.  His head might be spinning but his hostess wasn’t the only person in the room able to multi-task.

“You have good instincts then.”  Isla snorted.  Since his options otherwise would be obliviation, execution, or taking a chance on being chucked unceremoniously through a temporal portal with the hope that it spat him out on the other end in the right place and time, she’d say that his instincts were dead-on.  Or that he’d dealt with the ministry enough at his young age to know how they liked to handle problems like those presented by a time-traveler with a massive load of foreknowledge unless he’d spent his entire life locked in a dark room and never allowed near anyone or anything else.  “They’re not a pleasant group of options to choose from to say the least.  Not like those you get to select from thanks to the Tear.”

“I’m starting to get that idea, yeah.”  Harry agreed easily enough since he’d finished skimming the laws – basic secrecy bullshit and legal jargon that amounted to not letting anyone know outside of the DoM, legally appointed representatives under the Secrets Act (which he thought meant goblins based on the surrounding phrases but he wasn’t sure), and his future soulmate(s) of his time-travelers status.  Which was going to make his life interesting to say the least given that he seriously looked like a Potter.

Though given the givens: DoM, an actual operating procedure regarding time-travel, etc. he had a feeling that that might not be an issue once everything was sorted.

He wasn’t thrilled that the booklet in front of him waiting for him to take up the attached enchanted quill was soaked in a truth potion during manufacture (recipe a DoM patented secret apparently) and there was a form of passive Legilimency on the quill itself to help “guide your hand and jog your memory” to supply a complete history and background on him – and Teddy – but he could understand the need for it.

Coming up with a complete new identity for someone with accompanying documentation and gossip leaked into the public likely wasn’t easy.

If there was something in his own past – or that of his family – that could be used it probably helped significantly with making up a plausible, well, life for Harry or other time-travelers…though how often they bothered the DoM to the point that there was an entire procedure and forms and so on for it was a question that he knew would likely bother him for years without ever getting an answer for it from Unspeakable Hitchens.

Speaking of, she continued to narrate the highlights of his situation even as he read over the details of it for himself.

“Your options are as follows:” she covered the basics of each, the details being available – as well as the accompanying restrictions and immediate consequences of each – in his booklet.  “You can choose to be Obliviated of all future knowledge, including your own identity, and reeducated by the DoM.  You can choose to limit your impact on historical – to you – events as much as possible by undergoing a gaes and tongue-tying curse that in combination will prevent you from acting on your knowledge of future events.  Your third and fourth options are similar and differ only in scope.  You can choose to act organically, behaving as you normally would, but with taking no overt action to change or affect events beyond your presence.  Or, and lastly, you can operate with your current knowledge of future events to alter them in whichever way you deem best suited, however with that choice,” she warned.  “Will come a Magical Oath requiring you to not act contrary to the common good of the Wizarding World.”

Which was a caveat someone in the past had added to prevent a rising Dark Lord from conquering the world as a whole with their knowledge.

Granted, it had a weakness, and the knowing – and bitter – look in those emerald eyes told her that her own time-traveler had spotted it.

The Magical Oath was all fine and dandy – and worked quite well actually from notes from her predecessors on the subject – but if a subject of it truly believed that even the most vile of actions were in the best interest of the common good of the Wizarding World, they could subvert the spirit of the Oath whilst still obeying the Law of it.

A sticky ethical issue to be sure, like many others regarding time travel, and one that the DoM only allowed certain travelers to force them into facing based on the method of their traveling.

However, if she knew anything about reading magical auras at all, and given her position and birth family she should hope so, she honestly believed that this traveler was far too gentle and good-hearted (albeit, underneath the pain, grief, and bitterness that was threatening to suck him under) to ever be truly evil.

Letting him think over his options, she prompted him towards the blank forms in the booklet to fill out while he was pondering things.

“Your booklet is the Master copy of the forms in the accompanying file.”  She tapped a bright yellow folder on her desk that contained forms she’d already been working on filling out on her end.  “Both will remain here in this office and be warded and enchanted as “eyes only” for the Head Unspeakable.  No other beyond the representatives required to create your new identity – identities,” she corrected herself with another glance at the babe.  “Will ever be privy to information regarding your true origins.  If you agree to it, medical scans of both yourself and your charge will be added to your file and a representative from Gringotts will be sent for to perform an inheritance test to see if there is a defunct family line that might be assigned to you.”

One of the few immediate benefits of having a permanently displaced time traveler on their hands, Isla thought, was the possibility of reviving a defunct family line.

Harry nodded, softly agreeing with that idea, even while filling out the basic background on himself and Teddy – and the booklet had been right.  It was easier to manage with the enchantments on the quill and forms.  Even if he could’ve done better without ever seeing his entire list of titles ever bestowed on him for one reason or another printed out in stark black ink and forcing him to think of how he’d come about them.

Much like his nicknames.

That even only the Head Unspeakables were going to be aware that two of the names he’d been called – and convinced were his names at one point or another – were Freak and Boy was more than he would’ve ever wanted.

For her part, Isla let him be while he scratched away at the forms, reading what was copied over from his Master sheets into his file as they waited for the representative from Gringotts as well as the Healer from elsewhere in the DoM to answer her summons and complete the rest of the set-up steps before getting into the actual trenches of creating a whole new persona from the ground up.

Though, knuts to galleons said that he was sure to choose the last option granted him.

Somehow, something about him said that this Harry Potter wasn’t one to sit back and allow the world to pass him by, no matter how gentle a soul he was at heart.

Those were often the most fearsome of opponents to her mind and in her experience.

Good men of gentle souls who were moved to war.

With what it took to push them there, wise witches and wizards got out of the way when they took up their wands with rage or wrath or vengeance stirring in their hearts, all the more dangerous in battle for their gentleness at rest.

And Harry Potter, she thought, was very much one of that ilk.

If nothing else, a smile curved discretely over her lips, it should be quite something to watch and keep a record of what changes such a wizard thought appropriate to make for a better future.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Two:

Taking the First Steps

If seeing the list of nicknames and titles bestowed on her erstwhile time-traveler (the elder of the two, anyway) had aggravated Head Unspeakable Isla Hitchens neé Black, seeing the results of the medical scan for young Harry had her itching to curse someone – or likely, several someones – to within an inch of their lives.

One of the Healers who had taken up posts as part researchers and part medics in the Department of Mysteries had made quick work of a pair of full-medical work-ups for both her adult, if barely, traveler and his infant charge.

The young one, likewise an omega like his caretaker it seemed according to the work-up, was completely healthy with a bit of a latent born-werewolf tendency that wasn’t likely to result in an actual werewolf though would likely manifest in a set of impressive protective instincts when he was older, and was – once he’d woken and she’d seen it for himself to confirm – a Metamorphmagus.

Little Teddy, it seemed, according to both the medical report and the information provided by Harry, had a born-Black maternal grandmother and was related, albeit distantly, to Isla.

Harry, more shockingly – but not entirely surprisingly given the hints of it she’d seen in his face – was related to the Blacks by blood-adoption via his godfather.

Which rather explained one of the titles.

She’d been a bit boggled over how a Potter had claimed the Black Lordship but if the list of his deceased family members for his files was anything to go by, she could take a guess at how such a young omegan wizard who should be worrying about nothing but suitors and careers, came to have such cynical eyes.

Loss would do that.

Given that he was the guardian and caretaker of another young omegan wizard, she would venture that loss was rather a theme to young Harry’s life.

They’d have to see what they could do about that whilst fashioning his new persona, perhaps give him time to rest and grieve if an inheritance might be sourced from his inheritance test with the Goblins.

Isla may not have known him long, less than two hours by her counting, but she could already tell that he was the sort who rather than revel in the largess supplied by the DoM for a dislocated time-traveler's settlement into their new era, would rather chafe at the lack of independence it implied.  An omega who before being shot backwards in time was a Lord twice over, of age, and with a godson for a charge would not take well to being a ward of the Department.  Nonetheless, it was what he and his godson were at the moment: wards.  Of Isla personally both given her status as the Head of the DoM and as the only living Black aware of them and their relation to their family.

In time, which would vary according to historical reports of these sorts of situations, he would acclimate and once more be free to watch over himself and his godson as he saw fit.

That time, however, was not today nor likely tomorrow or any day in the near future.

As such Isla thought a bit of rest was in order for the young wizard who'd been plucked unceremoniously from his own time and dropped into the past.

For her peace of mind if nothing else, given what she now knew about his personal past.

For his part, Harry had fallen into the same watchful-but-exhausted state that he’d pretty much lived in for the entirety of the Seventh-Year-that-Wasn’t.

Things were going on around him, he was taking note of them and keeping an eye on everything, always wary and ready to attack but simply too overwrought to do more than watch without being prompted into action by either someone needing to talk to him or an attack or emergency requiring his help.

Though even in such a state he felt a shock of dark humor at the glares and muttering and hissed-curses that came from both witches when they poured over the results of his medical scan.

That he was done – for the moment – with filling out the thick stack of paperwork required on his background and personal history plus that of Teddy’s likely helped his sense of humor come back online as well.

He found it more than a bit entertaining that Severus Snape would likely be shocked by the state of calm his mind had fallen into after all the times the wizard had tried and failed to inspire him to clear his mind, the fucking cryptic wanker.

Come to find out, his inability with Occlumency despite Snape’s best – or perhaps worst it was hard to tell – efforts to teach him likely had more to do with being a Horcrux (or curse damage from taking an Avada to the head at fifteen months old, potato-potahto) than being incapable of learning.

Meditation came easy to him now even if he only rarely, often when exhausted like the present state, attained anything close to what could be considered a clear mind.

From what he understood of the current course however, they were waiting on the representative from the Goblins before they could really proceed, and thankfully for whatever reason Teddy was content to take a longer than usual nap that was likely going to lash back on Harry’s head that night when he was impossible to settle down.

If, that was, they were ever able to actually leave the Department of Mysteries despite the assurances of such he’d been given by Unspeakable Hitchens and her little booklet on his situation alike.

“There’s nothing for it.”  The second witch/unspeakable announced.

And either he’d gone nose-blind since being dumped in the past or Unspeakables in this era all wore scent-suppressors since he couldn’t tell either of their dynamics.

The Healer-Unspeakable had been introduced as Unspeakable Jones – likely a pseudonym since other than the Head, most Unspeakables are never officially known unless there was some scandal that involved them losing their positions and being chucked out of the DoM – and she was clearly displeased by the results of his medical scan with Hitchens way ahead of her and visibly angry if the hand clutching onto her wand, not that she’d needed it for the acts of magic he’d seen from her thus far, was any sign.

“Mr. Potter.”  Unspeakable Jones addressed him directly after conferring for long moments with her boss.  “You, as you are no doubt well aware, have undergone significant and traumatic physical abuse, trauma, and neglect.  While there are ways to ameliorate the effects on you such as a potions regimen.”  Her tone was brisk and informative, something which Harry found even in his unnatural calm was actually appreciated.  “To be frank they are all going to be less effective than preferable in the case of trying to inform a new identity.  The long-term effects of the malnutrition alone,” she made a frustrated noise in her throat in sympathy.  “Honestly, your best bet for a long and healthy life is to undergo a combination of ritual and potion,”

“Which are still experimental.”  Isla interjected drily.

“Which are still experimental,” Jones held in an eye-roll.  Honestly.  It was as if Hitchens thought she would use a dangerous trial on someone who’d been so ill-used in the past.  “But we have seen excellent results in the past on persons with, admittedly, less-comprehensive health issues.”

“Great.”  Harry sighed a bit then asked.  “But what would it do?”

“Oh,” Jones waved an airy hand, as if she hadn’t skipped over that part.  Accidentally, but still.  “The idea is to regress your age – both body and mind, unfortunately we’ve yet to discover a way to affect either soul or magical core – to a time of optimal health and then age you back up from that point to a specified age of your choice.  It’s worked successfully on eradicating minor childhood malnutrition, damage caused by both rickets and curse-damage-induced arthritis, and disfiguring curse scars.”  She rattled off their successes on several of her fellow Unspeakables who were amenable to play lab rat for the promised possible results.  “Though, granted, we haven’t yet attempted it on someone with, as I’ve said, such comprehensive health and curse-damage issues.”

Harry processed that for a long while, thinking on it as Teddy woke up and he went throught the routine of change-feed-burp-comfort only to be rocked by another shock when he flicked his wrist to summon his wand from his dragonhide holster only to find that it was distinctly empty.

“Um…”  He shot straight passed panic and into resignation.  Just one more thing to freak out about later.  “I’m going to need one of you to summon out Teddy’s play cot and resize it.”  He peeled back his robe sleeve, showing the empty holster.  “Apparently my wand has decided to disappear.”

Isla winced and did as he asked, explaining that unfortunate side-effect of time-travel as he worked to settle his charge back down with a toy that looked like a teddy bear attached to a soft blanket in what was some sort of futuristic travel cot with mesh sides and a cheery nature scene for a floor.

“We’ll need to take an inventory of all your things.”  She explained.  “Some – like your wand – won’t have made the trip due to temporal laws and prevention of entanglement.  Others will have made it through with you – and no,” she admitted.  “We’re still not entirely sure what happens or why other than it most often affects wands and magical foci.  Time isn’t as set or circular as some theories make it but we’re still nowhere near understanding it either.”

With help – and another auto-quill on yet another sheet of paperwork – they went through all his pockets and the enchanted leather diaper bag that’d been still on his shoulder when he’d been sent spiraling back in time.

There were the standard baby-care things (which were a relief to him having survived the trip as he didn’t fancy having to face a fussy Teddy without his favorite pacifier or naptime without Mr. Bear): a change of clothes for the baby including a onesie, socks, hat, scratch mittens, and a baby-grow even though it was summer.  Bottles, cloth diapers and wipes (thanks to magic the former were self-fastening), a wet-bag for dirty diapers and wipes, formula, pacifiers, a teething toy, burp cloth, blanket, and emergency potions supply were all still perfectly intact.  It was a bit scant for actually surviving any length of time, but wouldn’t have Teddy going dirty or hungry either.

His pockets were a bit light though he couldn’t think off the top of his head what all was missing.

Inside his robe pockets he unearthed his Invisibility Cloak – which he never left the house without – and the shrunken form of his Firebolt whilst in his trousers he had his mokeskin coin pouch with the remnants of his last visit to Gringotts jingling inside and his wallet with only a few things which had both Unspeakables studying them in interest as it confirmed for them from whence he came.

Particularly his NHS identity card and his apparation license which both had issue dates as well as his legal name and date of birth on them and had Unspeakable Hitchens summoning a warded lockbox.

“Anything that’s obviously displaced in time – other than yourselves, naturally,” she explained as she opened it up and summoned a second box from her desk drawer.  “Will have to be placed in here and a magical timer placed on it.  With your permission on the date of your displacement from your original time it will be reopened and the items examined to see if any noticeable differences in the items can be identified from similar items of the time.”

Harry thought he followed that, even as he winced as the golden serial number plate from his Firebolt was carefully removed by the Head Unspeakable and placed in the first lockbox along with his apparation license and his NHS id and muggle money, though he also got an answer regarding the box from the desk as Hitchens counted out his funds and made a note on his paperwork before placing it in “his” lockbox and replacing the same amount of notes in muggle pounds sterling from her desk box.

She was swapping out his currency – both muggle and magical as he noticed both Unspeakables working quickly to identify minting dates on his galleons, shackles, and knuts – and replacing it with that currently in circulation.

That was rather kind of them, he thought, even as he had to strip his digital watch off of his wrist at the Unspeakable’s prompting, then had to trade both his shoes for a spare set summoned from elsewhere in the DoM as well as his belt – made of pleather instead of genuine leather apparently – and his glasses with their plastic frames and muggle making.

Hitchens examined his clothes with a discerning eye before allowing him to keep them as they were simple – and classic – black trousers, a white button-down short-sleeved shirt and white cotton undershirt, and a simple summer-weight cotton robe in light grey that had been part of a belated Christmas gift from the Weasley clan when they realized he had all of a pair of outfits still wearable after almost a year spent on the run from Death Eaters and the Snatchers.

The sewing kit he carried both from having a baby to take care of on suggestion from Mrs. Weasley to take care of on-the-fly mending and from Sirius to have spare bits of thread or a needle to transfigure into something else in an emergency survived the purge of his things, as did his handful of pictures in his wallet and his empty wand holster.

His new shoes weren’t awful even if they were of a distinctly old-fashioned style he would have to grow quickly used to as it was his new life now, simple ankle boots in plain brown leather that matched the plain brown belt.

Both witches wrinkled their noses at how they didn’t match the rest of his clothes but Harry had never been much of one for fashion and didn’t mind it.

That he wouldn’t have to replace Teddy’s pacifiers and teether since they were made of natural rubber and not synthetic plastics was much more important than having to wear brown with black for Merlin’s sake.

By the time they’d taken care of swapping his things, gotten him outfitted, and Teddy had fallen back asleep (magical exhaustion from the time-travel, perfectly natural and not harmful at all Jones assured him) he was ready to agree to the suggested combination of ritual and potion to deage him and then age him back up to heal his lingering damage from, well, his life.

Which, naturally, was when the goblin representative from Gringotts deigned to arrive, Jones bustling out with a sympathetic glance, but not before handing over another glass of water with an admonishment to stay hydrated, in order to go make arrangements for the ritual.

Leaving him to deal with a goblin and the Head Unspeakable on his own with only a baby to have his back.

Joy.

“An inheritance test,” the goblin representative sent from Gringotts who’d introduced himself gruffly as Grythorn, announced as his clever clawed hands took out a prepared sheet of parchment, a blood quill, and a potion from his expanded and feather-light case.  “Costs five galleons.  Documentation regarding a time-traveler under the Nimue’s Tears clause of the Wizarding-Goblin treaty to be determined depending on the identity to be crafted.”

Beady – but clever, as always when dealing with a goblin, Harry found their eyes so very clever – black eyes were piercing as they watched the combination of wizards the Head Unspeakable had brought to the attention of the Goblin Nation.

“Teddy will be my adopted son, regardless.”  Harry told him brusquely, to the approval of the Grythorn.

This one had had dealings with his people before it seemed.

“Only Mr. Potter will be requiring an inheritance test, Master Goblin.”  Isla interjected, not entirely sure she was pleased with the interest the goblin was showing her charge.  Which Harry would remain as until he was fully documented and prepared for living independently in the current era of the Wizarding World.  Though, at least in part, her protectiveness was that of an adult alpha towards a young adult unmated omega.

“Five galleons is fine.”  Harry held in yet another sigh.  While he couldn’t get a scent on her, more and more he was starting to think Unspeakable Hitchens was an alpha given her being quite quick to jump to protect a stranger who’d been dropped almost on her head.  So saying he handed over the requested coinage, around ten percent of his current wizarding funds in hand.  With inflation at least he should be better set than approximately fifty galleons and twenty-some pounds would get him in the future.  “And yes, we certainly can negotiate the price of the requested documentation.”

“The documentation will be funded by the Time-Traveler’s Fund of the DoM with Gringotts.”  Isla was firm on that, already knowing better than to argue the young wizard paying for his own inheritance test at the look in his eyes.  “As it in turn is funded by investments made by Gringotts based on information sourced from time-travelers,” she cut off what she was sure would be a protest.  “Any funds provided for your interests and care, Mr. Potter, will be repaid by any information you might choose,” she cast a warning glance at Grythorn.  “To provide the Bank.”

“Ah,” he blinked rapidly in surprise.  He hadn’t considered that angle yet.  “But most of what I know might not matter considering…”

“Yes, you have traveled far.”  Grythorn agreed with that easily enough.  “But goblins are cautious.  Any information you give us regarding what you remember of your original era will be used with equal caution in case of changes to the future due to your presence – or that of other time-travelers – might cause.”

That settled, Grythorn talked the young omegan wizard through the inheritance test which really only consisted of taking the appropriate potion, waiting the appropriate time for it to activate, then writing his name using the Blood Quill on the prepared parchment.

Though given the cursed scar on his hand, neither Grythorn or Isla were surprised that the last bit had him gritting his teeth and suffering through it.

Harry James Potter-Black he wrote at the center of the parchment, then watched with wide eyes as the parchment lit up with a greenish-gold light as he set the quill aside and seemed to form words and names and draw family trees out of nothing at all.

“Muggles are black.”  Grythorn explained as he and the witch leaned over the sheet as they flanked the young wizard.  “Squibs in red, active magical persons in blue.”

“And this,” he tapped an area immediately above his name in question.

“Ah.”  Grythorn gave a vicious grin.  “Those would be inherited magical talents.  Under your name are the families with which you share a strong degree of relation.”

Harry nodded, examining the chart for a much different purpose than either the Unspeakable or the Goblin now that that bit had been explained.

He wasn’t surprised in the least to see that he was “strongly related” to quite a few wizarding families.

Purebloods were all quite interrelated in England after all.

But there were still one or two surprises to be found.

Like that his mother was descended from a squib line of the fucking Gaunts which was where his naturally inherited ability for Parseltongue came from – yet another thing Dumbledore had lied his bearded arse off about.

“There are two options each with their upsides and pitfalls.”  Isla told him after she finished conferring quietly with the goblin – who had definite opinions as either of them involved gaining access to the wealth of vaults currently held in abeyance for a rightful heir – regarding the family lines shown on his inheritance chart that were known to be defunct in the current era.  “Peverell and Slytherin.”

Harry let out a soft whistle.

Upsides and pitfalls, indeed.

Though it didn’t take him long to decide as the Potters had always been much quieter regarding their relationship to the Peverells than the Gaunts were regarding Slytherin.

Besides which…if Tom ended up being born all over again it would be nice for there to be something that was only his to claim.

He thought his one-time enemy would appreciate that, given the givens, even if he had absolutely zero intention of allowing the rise of Voldemort a second time there was more than thirteen years between now and Tom’s birth, no need to start panicking about it now.

“Peverell.”  He decided quickly.  “Any ideas how to make that plausible?”

“Well,” Isla cleared her throat.  “The current Lord Potter, Johnathon, took up that position because his father Charles went on a world tour and didn’t return, declared missing and presumed dead around 1852.  With your current age, and if we fabricate a half-Potter mother for you, we could make it seem like Lord Charles had an affair but died before he was able to claim your theoretical mother.”

“How would the Potters react to that?”  He asked apprehensively as he honestly didn’t know anything about any of his ancestors or their siblings or relations.  Other than they were left off the Sacred 28 listing of pureblood families in the 30s because of some sort of disagreement between his great-grandfather Henry and Cantankerous Nott anyway.

“Lady Potter won’t be happy.”  Isla noted dryly.  Immaculata Potter neé Malfoy was many things and among them was a high-level socialite even with her husband’s retirement from public service.  Understandably having an indiscretion of her father-in-law showing up in England wasn’t something she was going to be pleased about but she’d accept it nonetheless with a lady’s grace.  “But they’ll accept you and you’ll have several cousins your own age between Henry’s children and Juliana’s son.”

As Isla’s great-niece Dorea was betrothed to Charlus Potter, she’d made it her business to know a bit more about them than the standard gossip that passed around pureblood circles.

Isla may have been disowned for marrying her soulmate, a muggleborn wizard, but that was more to keep wizarding artefacts and gold in the hands of wizards and not risking them passing into those of muggles due to an accident or a curse felling the rest of her siblings and their children and descendants.

Her son Robert had married a proper middle-class pureblooded witch, his own soulmate, and her granddaughter was set to make a good match if she so chose when the time came, bringing Isla’s branch of the Blacks back into the fold.

That was just the way it was done.

Fresh blood was rich blood and even the snottiest of purebloods knew it even if the fanatics like the Lestranges and Gaunts ignored it.

That her office currently held a Black-adopted wizard with the gift of Parseltongue and a Metamorphmagus with a muggleborn grandfather was plenty proof enough of the wisdom of outbreeding when the lines started to thin rather than clinging close and turning to inbreeding as the Gaunts were known to do – and were both lacking in looks and sanity for it.

All of which Isla explained patiently as her goblin counterpart got started on manufacturing documents and a background for Harry when the young wizard looked doubting of her assurances.

Ignoring wizarding bullshit, Grythorn interrupted as soon as he was done filling in the required information on the requested documentation to create the young wizard’s new identity and that of his charge.

“Birth certificate, apparation license, magical passport with dual-citizenship between MACUSA and Wizarding Great Britain, health and immunization record, non-magical certification of birth issued by the State of South Dakota, Bureau of Indian Affairs registration card for a man of Lakota Sioux descent, non-magical passport with dual citizenship between the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain for one Hadrian Ignotus Peverell.”  Grythorn slapped down each document in front of Harry who was gaping, eyes-wide at more identification paperwork than he’d ever possessed before in his life.  “Magical birth certificate, adoption paperwork, passport with dual citizenship, and health and immunization record with accompanying non-magical documentation for one Edward Remus Peverell.”  Grythorn gave a fangy grin at Harry’s shock.  “All completely legitimate and able to pass any number of screening including magical revealing spells up to and including those used by the elite Hit Wizard squad of the International Confederation of Wizards.”

“Merlin’s knickers.”  Harry handled the documents with ginger hands, having to squint to see them at all given that Isla had taken away his glasses.  “That’s…really something.”  He finished lamely, then frowned as something caught his attention.  “Tribal identification?  I’m not Native American.”

“Not yet.”  Isla informed him with a smirk as Grythorn packed up his things after handing her an invoice for the documentation, the witch making a copy and sticking it in Harry’s file along with the inheritance testing and copies of all his new identification paperwork.

“Explain later, witch.”  Grythorn groused, turning towards Harry to take up his attention.  “Time is gold.  Mr. Peverell, you will need to appear at the Bank as soon as possible to gain access to the Peverell holdings and activate the vaults.  We will expect you.”  It was as much a warning as it was informational, the goblin giving a crisp nod then vanishing back out of the office.

“Goblins.”  Isla snorted.  “Though it wouldn’t do to press them, as such we won’t expect you back here until the afternoon tomorrow to begin work on acclimating you to the current time period.”

“What about the rest of the day?”  Harry asked as he estimated it couldn’t be much beyond lunchtime based on the minor hunger twinges his stomach was giving him despite all that had occurred since he’d originally entered what-was Croaker’s office in his own time.

“Well, first we’ll have lunch.”  Isla noted the time for herself.  “Then we have a ritual for you to undergo, the finishing touches on your identity to cover – including why you have tribal documentation – and a few errands to run before you retire to the lodging Jones should have sent an owl to arrange on her way to set up the ritual.”

“Oh.”  Was all Harry could manage as he was once more more than overwhelmed with being battered with plans and information.

Seeing that he was beyond oversaturated from events, Isla let him sit and gather himself while she sent a memo down to the cafeteria for a pair of lunches.

A bit of sense-gathering, rest, and reflection was good for the soul even if there was a bit of a rush on getting everything in order for Harry to join life in 1913 London.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Three:

Ritual Surprises

Harry knew he was mentally overwrought and checked out as he mechanically grazed his way through the soup and sandwich provided by an ever-courteous Unspeakable Hitchens but he couldn’t force himself to snap back from the foggy daze.

Given that he’d woken up – fuck it was only a handful of hours ago – with the intention of doing nothing more strenuous than taking care of Teddy and having a chat with Croaker over tea and biscuits he felt entitled to a bit of checking out of a day that was apparently never going to end so he could sleep and reboot.

As soon as he logged back into reality he knew there would be nothing but a breakdown in his immediate future – and checked-out and compliant was worlds better than sobbing and screaming when it came to making sure he and Teddy had a place to sleep that night.

Another round of changing/feeding/burping/soothing Teddy came after his lunch then the witches helped him pack his travel cot back into Teddy’s diaper bag as he was still absent a wand, along with all of his important documentation that proved he, you know, existed in a legal fashion in Wizarding Great Britain that the Head Unspeakable had thoughtfully packed away into a simple legal-sized envelope while Harry stuck his identification cards – magical and muggle – and apparition license in his wallet.

His new passports were tucked into the front flap pocket of the diaper bag that normally housed a bottle, Teddy’s as well, and a double-check that he had everything (wallet, coin purse, baby) had them ready to move from the Head Unspeakable’s office to the ritual area in the DoM to put, as Hitchens put it, the “finishing touches” on Harry’s new identity.

Well, after a stop by the loo for Harry anyway, where Hitchens and Jones waited in the hall with Teddy and Harry manfully refrained from anxiously vomiting into the commode.

From what he understood as he reclaimed his now legally-adopted son – and, fuck, something else to freak out over even if he had previously been one of Teddy’s guardians, being a legally-acknowledged father was different even if only in semantics – he would be undergoing two rituals: one to “finish” his new identity – whatever that meant and he had a feeling it had to do with the way both witches were eyeing up his scars and his infamous Potter-hair and had something to do with the tribal registration card in his wallet – and one to heal him by de-aging then re-aging him.

A bit of discussion – when he’d still been processing events at a speed faster than a snail’s pace – had had Harry putting his foot down over keeping the same age and date of birth, simply shifted back a few decades to account for him being alive now instead of in the future.

He didn’t care if it would make things easier, he was almost eighteen, not younger or older, and that was how old he was going to stay.

They weren’t able to promise that he would be the exact same age but they could – they swore – manage to get him the right year-range so that was good enough for him.

There had been quite a bit of debate over making him older or younger given that he’d never sat for his NEWTs.  It was understandable either way.  He’d skipped his final year of school – and hadn’t that revelation in his paperwork gotten him the side-eye from Unspeakable Hitchens, her motherly disapproval game was strong – and honestly didn’t think from everything he’d heard about the tests that he could sit them with his current level of education except, maybe, in Defense and possibly Charms.

If they made him younger sending him to Hogwarts, even with Teddy attached, was an easy sell.

Make him older and nobody would think to double-guess his qualifications as an adult wizard as long as he didn’t make too much noise.

As it was, he’d rather re-sit his OWLs under his new name and suffer two more years of Hogwarts – hopefully without anyone trying to kill him – to earn his NEWTs than any other option even if being an eighteen year old sixth year was going to get him more than a little attention and likely a lot of trash talking.

Harry had now apparently been born in 1895, exactly eighty-five years before his original date of birth.

Funnily enough, he also shared his year of birth with Dorea Black, who he remembered from the Black Family Tree as having married one Charlus Potter, the elder brother of his paternal grandfather…maybe.

He hadn’t taken a good look at that inheritance chart, more interested in the fun facts revealed by his mother’s ancestry than his father’s, but he thought that was right.

Something about him being willing to go back to school – which given what he knew about this time period was actually where he thought he could make a good start on possibly changing a few things – had made a lightbulb turn on for Hitchens regarding his backstory and had somehow led to him somehow being part Native American on paper but he still wasn’t sure how.

After the healing ritual, then the “finishing” ritual, then the Wizard’s Oath and he’d be unleashed, somewhat, on the London Magical District to get a wand – according to Jones’s chatter – before heading to the bed and breakfast that the younger healer had indeed arranged for Harry and Teddy to stay…at least for one night anyway.

Somewhen in all of that he was going to get an explanation, he hoped, regarding his own backstory though depending on how burnt out he was at that point – given the givens he was going to say very – he could see Hitchens pushing explaining, well, himself to him until tomorrow after his anticipated meeting with the goblins.

With great reluctance, he passed Teddy back to Unspeakable Hitchens who easily had figured out the baby sling and shrugged into it, helping keep the baby calm, then slipped behind the privacy screen provided in the ritual room deep within the Department of Mysteries.

Given how the department was structured, finding anyplace in particular was difficult if you weren’t an Unspeakable – or apparently a goblin with how at ease Grythorn had been – so he wasn’t all that surprised to have been led to both a room he’d never been in before as well as one that seemed hewn out of solid London bedrock and carved with various rune circles on the floor.

Unspeakable Jones, once he’d dressed in the simple cotton shift provided for him, led him over to one in the far-left corner of the room, explaining the de-aging/re-aging process as she went.

“Potions alone,” her tone was that same brisk academic one that he’d gotten used to hearing from Unspeakables and Hermione alike.  “Can cause temporary age adjustments but they don’t truly affect the composition of either mind or body.  Used in unison with a carefully designed ritual, we’ve managed to create permanent versions of the de-aging and re-aging process that doesn’t involve the revision that prevents permanent changes from the de-aging process.”

“Right.”  Harry followed that even if it was a struggle with his current snail-slow mental facility.  “A friend took an aging potion but it didn’t change anything when he was reverted.”

“Correct.”  Jones nodded eagerly, her academic curiosity and verve for research starting to kick in.  She thought it could be excused.  While what had been done to the young wizard with her was reprehensible, it did allow a significant research opportunity for observation of how the process being engineered by the DoM’s healers would affect witches and wizards with significant health and/or curse damage.  More research would be necessary, of course, no matter how things with Harry turned out.  He had so many stacked problems that he was more of an end-result, far-end usage example for data.

Not the standard that they would probably end up using the process for.

“The goal with our process.”  She continued, trying to keep him comfortable with her chatter as she positioned him and got ready to initiate the process which had several steps.  Including with making sure the floor was cushioned as she had to de-age him back to around a year old for the best results.  She didn’t want him to hurt himself because she was thoughtless.  “Is to create organic aging after de-aging rather than simple reversion and then lock the organic changes into place.  It should take the optimum health that we age you back to and then extrapolate that into the age of choice – an eighteen year old version of you with optimum health in turn.”

“This is going to knock me on my arse, isn’t it?”  He asked with no-little amount of humor peeking through his acute mental exhaustion.  “Magically, that is.”

“Oh, definitely.”  She told him with a cheery smile.  “Part of the problem we’re trying to fix is how draining this entire process is on both caster and subject.  With more casters it lessens the draw but you’re a bit of a secret so,” she shrugged.  “Needs-must.”

“Fine.”  He sighed, shaking his head and holding out his hand for the de-aging potion.  “Magical exhaustion, here I come.”

“…look, I know we’re in a time-crunch.”

Harry vaguely wished as he woke up with a bone-deep ache in his…everything really…that it was the first time in his life that he’d woken up with people talking over him but it definitely wasn’t.

He was pretty sure it was Healer-Unspeakable Jones talking sternly – and with more than a bit of exasperation – to her boss.

“…but tomorrow is the Solstice.  He’s already pushing the edges of what he can take, seeming calm or not.  He needs, at the minimum, some juice to bring up his blood sugars and restore his energy and a day to rest.  It’s a holiday.  Attending a ritual at Blueblossom’s or in the wizarding park in London will probably do him just as much good as the rest will.  You can beat him over the head with the time-travelers introduction to 1913 Wizarding Great Britain the day after tomorrow.”

“Is that your official position as a healer?”  Hitchens asked – and wow, that was some significant dry snark from such a put-together witch, Harry thought.

Though he wasn’t about to complain himself over what Jones was saying, even if she was saying it without consulting him.

Time to rest and recover and let his mind reset from, well, everything sounded like what the healer ordered.

“Sounds good to me either way.”  He felt it appropriate to speak up in his own interest rather than let the pair of formidable witches – Unspeakables or not – continue to make decisions over his head.

Isla sighed as he opened his eyes and carefully sat up, feeling pounded into dust and beyond by the force of being aged-up back to his actual age, Jones assisting with gentle hands on his arm and side.

“Notice anything different immediately?”  The Healer-Unspeakable asked, quill posed and ready once he was sitting steadily on his own to take notes on a slim parchment booklet she pulled from inside her robes.

As he reported the pounded-to-dust and intense soreness of his body situation, Harry wiggled his fingers and held up his hands studying them intently as they were the easiest portions of himself to view without a mirror.  And right away, he noticed the differences.  His fingers on his right hand weren’t crooked anymore from being slammed in the door at No. 4 and broken but left to heal on his own.  Likewise that same hand was missing the curse scar from the blood quill and Umbridge’s reign of terror.

Shoving up the sleeve on that same arm he smiled at the lack of puncture scarring from the basilisk tooth, noting as he did that his left arm was missing the knife-wound from Pettigrew and the cemetery.

Rubbing one hand over his face in bemusement as he pedaled his feet and noted that he thought they might be farther away than they had been that morning – he’d never been a very tall wizard, especially for an omega that while lithe tended to be taller than betas and sometimes alphas due to needing cavity room for their double set of internal reproductive organs – then something else made itself known.

Then he looked up and around, blinking rapidly as his eyes easily focused on the face of a gumming-his-pacifier Teddy, then the amused but genially lined with age visage of Isla Hitchens, then the expectant gaze – that he now was able to note was a rather sharp blue shade – of Jones.

“I can see.”  He said, feeling a bit dumb that it’d taken him that long to notice he wasn’t actually wearing his glasses.  “That’s a major change in addition to the lack of curse scars.”  Lifting his right hand as that tried to process – he felt a bit better from his unexpected nap but not that much better thanks to the accompanying magical exhaustion Jones had warned him to expect – and smiled as his fingertips looked for something and failed to find it.  “All of the curse scars.”

It was gone.

Voldemort’s mark was gone.

For the first time since he was eleven years old, Harry felt a true sense of freedom as an invisible weight lifted off his chest.

The future, now, truly was what he made of it.

And oh, now that things were starting to process beyond the need for survival, did he have ideas.

They gave him an hour to rest after he woke up from his unexpected post-ritual nap, most of which he spent playing with Teddy and having “tummy-time” on his spare blanket with the baby as he sucked down sweet apple juice and downed grapes – natural sugar pills according to Jones before she left him once more in her boss’s capable hands to set up the next ritual for the afternoon – and just existed for a bit.

There was no point apparently in moving to a different room, Hitchens simply summoning his snack from the cafeteria, since Harry would need to be in the same shift for his next ritual anyway.

He’d been right, incidentally, he noticed when Jones finally let him stand up.

He was taller.

Malnutrition – like Petunia Dursley – was a bitch and a half.

His rather diminutive five-foot-four-inches of height had shot up a full six inches, putting him in the average spectrum for an omegan wizard of English extraction though apparently with the ritual they were doing next he might put on a bit more height as while Harry was processing and enjoying tummy-time with Teddy, Unspeakable Hitchens finally explained the ritual they needed to do to put the finishing touch on his new identity.

A modified blood-adoption ritual using the freely-offered blood of one of Hitchens’ colleagues in America, specifically a Lakota Sioux elemental wizard she’d met during her youth.

“He was childless and content to remain that way.”  She explained.  “The native tribes have a much friendlier relationship with the magical community than they do the non-magical, though there can still be tensions.  Back in the period we’ve fabricated your “mother’s” birth in, having a child with a white man, no matter whether magical or not, would have been frowned upon to say the least.  It adds a bit of don’t look here for your background and an additional layer of protection for you.  Which is the entire idea with changing your nationality to include a native tribal heritage.”

“No one will ask questions.”  Harry scowled, lips pulled down.  “Because no one will want the answers on either side of the Atlantic.  That’s just…great.”

Or prejudiced as fuck and distasteful in the extreme, Hitchens’ imperialism was showing in a rather grand display of English arrogance but given how much power the head unspeakable had over him – and his godson – at the moment there was nothing he could do but suck it up and go with the flow.

She was trying to protect him to the best of her ability.

That was what he had to keep in mind, even when it disgusted or infuriated him.

Harry had a feeling that, given it was 1913, this issue was only the first that was going to make him want to hex someone to hell and gone over blithe expressions of cultural bigotry.

Judging by the looks he got in response to his response, the witches were recognizing that his future-bred self had an issue with the situation but didn’t have the cultural knowledge to pin-point said issue and therefore did the appropriately British thing in turn: ignored the fuck out of it and carried on.

“The amount of blood used in such adoptions determines the amount of possible change based on the desired relationship between the donating wizard or witch and the subject.”  Hitchens continued with her explanation.  “In this case we are creating a fabricated relationship between yourself and my old friend with a degree of relation equivalent to that between a grandparent and grandchild or approximately a quarter of your genetic material.”

The vocabulary used took Harry a bit aback.

Granted, he’d left muggle school at eleven, so he wasn’t the most up-to-date on the history of various sciences, let alone genetics, but he’d had no idea that it was a term in use in the early part of the century.

And then again, there were times when the wizarding world had been more modern than “modern” muggles for centuries or more, like the acceptance of same-sex couplings, plural relationships, and the ability of witches to work and have careers so maybe they’d known about things like genes and chromosome damage from inbreeding for longer than the muggle world had.

The breeding habits of the Gaunts, Lestranges, and Blacks said not, but those might’ve been outliers or a change that occurred in response to the Grindelwald war, Harry didn’t yet know.

It wasn’t that he looked down on the wizarding world regarding modern advancements and technology the way some muggleborn or muggle-raised children did or anything of that nature, he simply didn’t think that genetics was an old enough field of science to have made its way into the muggle public consciousness let alone drifted into the wizarding world in 1913.

One thing he was growing certain of: with his new life he was going to be learning new things more often than not.

“How much change should I expect with this?”  He asked, eyeing up the potion and rune circle warily – and wearily – after his experience with the last go around no matter how much he liked the results of it.

Hitchens and Jones traded a glance.

“That depends.”  Hitchens admitted, choosing her words with care.  “We’re actively replacing your maternal grandfather.  To your knowledge how much of your features do you currently share with him?”

Harry narrowed his eyes in thought for a long moment, thinking back to when he was younger – maybe six or seven years old – and one of the only times he remembered seeing a picture of Petunia’s, and therefore his mother’s, parents.

His mum, he was rather certain, had shared everything except her height with her mother, an Irish transplant he thought, from her red hair to her green eyes.

His aunt, on the other hand, shared quite a bit of her features – which were quite handsome if stern on a man – with her father including her dishwater blonde hair and weak blue eyes.

“Not much I don’t think.”  He admitted as it occurred to him that he would suddenly be considered a pureblood rather than a halfblood with making his mum – via adoption or not – a halfblood herself on the genetic level.  After a fashion.  Weird.  “Maybe some of my corrected height.  But if your friend is tall too then that shouldn’t matter.”

Hitchens hummed under her breath as she handed him his latest potion for him to down and start the next step in creating his identity – the physical “finishing touch” as she’d put it more than once.

“We’ll see.”  Jones shot him down ruthlessly, posed as always to take notes – both for her research and Harry’s file.  “When tinkering with genetics things can take interesting turns.  I imagine the boss’s friend was quite powerful.  How pureblood magic and traits show when they interact with strong magic and blood from a new source is almost impossible to predict – yet.” 

Jones was nearly giddy, Harry could tell under the professional mask, which was honestly a nice change from Hitchens’ calm protectiveness and even her own earlier outraged healer’s fury.

“Oh goody.”  Harry finally gave into the urge to roll his eyes and snark.  He’d played nice all day and now that they were at the point of altering his genetic code he thought a bit of sass was in order.  “More experiments with Harry.”

“Oh yes.”  Jones grinned at him unrepentantly.  “You’re giving me avenues to explore for months if not longer all from a single day’s work.  Much more interesting,” and entertaining, “than Croaker’s work in the Soul Chamber.”

Ah.  Harry held in a wince even as he took that break in Jones’s chatter to down the blood-adoption potion, Hitchens taking that as her cue – as did Jones – to start chanting.  So that was what Croaker did.

Explained a lot about why the – former? Future? – Head Unspeakable had been so interested in Harry’s information on Tom.

As the runes on the ritual circle lit up, Harry felt nothing more than a bit of a heavy tingle, not unlike how a limb felt when it lost circulation for a time the “pins-and-needles” of “falling asleep” and definitely nothing as serious as the burning soreness that still lingered from his earlier healing-via-age manipulation he’d undergone.

It was mostly concentrated on his skin, face, and scalp not his bones or joints so he didn’t think it was messing with his height.

Good news indeed since he rather thought they’d been stressed enough for one day.

Before long the witches finished chanting and the glowing of the runes died down, leaving Harry feeling like he had a mild sunburn to go with his magical exhaustion, over-stuffed brain, and strained musculoskeletal system.

His face was a bit sore too but whether it was worse than after the force-growth of the first ritual he really couldn’t say.

Harry liked to avoid, dodge, or flat-out ignore any mention or implication of his abusive childhood, but even he had to admit that it gave him a seriously ridiculous tolerance for pain that repeated exposure to both torture and quidditch injuries hadn’t helped in the slightest.

Apparently that he was still standing and capable of coherent thought was somehow impressive judging by the gobsmacked look on Jones’s face and the glimmer of respect in Hitchens’ calm gaze.

“I was expecting that to lay you out similar to the healing ritual.”  Jones admitted even as Harry once more inspected his hands and arms – which in the dim lighting of the ritual room he thought had taken on a bit of a different tone than his natural pale olive complexion but he couldn’t be sure.

“Is that common?”  Harry asked, a bit incredulous, as Hitchens passed him back over Teddy in his baby sling, the baby approving of the switch if the coo was any sign.  “For people to pass out during rituals?”

“Those that severely impact their body, magic, or mind: yes.”  Hitchens answered.

With an opening like that, Harry couldn’t not ask.

Did the ritual severely impact my body, magic, or mind?”

In wordless answer Hitchens flicked her wand and conjured a silver backed hand mirror then passed it over as Jones once more chattered on whilst Harry stared at his reflection and categorized the minor – and they were minor – changes that in sum made him look like a different person than the one who’d walked into Croaker’s office that morning.

One that perhaps was a cousin of Harry Potter of that morning, but distinctly not Harry Potter all at the same time.

It was the lack of scarring and glasses mostly, he thought, that were the most jarring changes since they made his eyes look huge – and very softly wide and omegan.

His cheekbones were broader and higher, a change from the genetic altering not the healing fixing his bones.  His nose a bit straighter and aquiline.  His jaw firmer which when combined with the other changes made his cheeks themselves appear a bit more hollow even with being a healthier weight than he’d been in his life.

The hair was the most important though, aside from the missing scar.

Rather than the infamous messy bird’s nest Potter hair in a rich brown shade, his new hair – which explained the tingling scalp – was all at once thicker, straighter, longer, and darker.  Partially, he thought, was the ever-important improvement to his health was to credit with the change.  It was the raven’s wing black color that had been immortalized in popular culture and cheesy – and bigoted – western cinema, straight and rich and thick with just a bit of curl at the ends which brushed his collar.

And yeah, he thought, looking at it all in stunned disbelief, his skin tone had changed.

Though he rather assumed it wouldn’t darken up and really show off his new genetic contribution unless/until he spent some time in the sun.

Jones had been right, after all.

When faced with strong magical blood, even the Potter in him that had always been so fiercely apparent had problems being solely dominant.

In comparison, the muggle from his grandfather and the inherited Gaunt from his grandmother didn’t stand much of a chance.

Except for in the eyes.

Those were just as bright, vibrant, and emerald green as ever.

There came a time, much later in Harry’s life, where his curiosity outstripped his lingering anguish and distaste, leading him to ask the Head Unspeakable at the time to take a look at the before-and-after medical exams Unspeakable Jones had done of him in that long, long day, finding out – or simply admitting – damage that had had nothing at all to do with his early childhood of abuse and neglect and everything to do with his early years in the wizarding world.

He remembered reading somewhere that scientists had discovered that the male brain wasn’t fully finished with its development until around twenty-five years old.

Harry had had multiple physical traumas (frying pans to the skull, quidditch accidents, concussions from being beat up, etc.) and, frankly, a lot of nerve damage from the Cruciatus long before he ever was sent flying back through time.

All of which was before the mental traumas of Snape’s version of Occlumency training, Not-Moody’s Imperius usage, Voldemort’s Imperius usage, and so on.

If when he went home that night and locked himself in the dueling room for hours until he was too exhausted and wrung out to scream or try and kill someone who would have no fucking idea why he was trying to kill them, well, the only ones there to witness it were the house elves and his husbands.

And given what they knew of his history, neither of them would ever deign to judge him for it.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Four:

The Day That Never Ends

Still June 20, 1913; London Magical District, Wizarding Great Britain

Merlin’s fucking knickers, but Harry was glad to be out of the Department of Mysteries.

He’d been down in the depths of the Ministry for what felt like an age, his world had undergone several significant changes, not the least of which was to his bloody-fucking-era (most important of which was probably his markless-to-double-marked status but he was very carefully not thinking about that, thank you very fucking much for his rudimentary Occlumency abilities however much the likes of Snape and Malfoy would scoff at them) and included changes of name, heritage, fortune, school enrollment - as in, he was once more enrolled albeit on a provisional basis pending OWL results as the very-official letter provided before he left the DoM confirmed:

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

 

Headmaster: Phineas Nigellus Black

 

Dear Mr. Peverell:

 

 

We are pleased to inform you that you have been provisionally accepted as a home-educated transfer student for the school year of 1913-14 at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry as a sixth-year NEWT-level student, pending submission of at least three passed O.W.L. exams.  Please find enclosed a necessary list of supplies and equipment, amended for your circumstances.

 

Per your unique situation, please arrive for sorting and housing accommodations to be completed at noon-sharp on 1 September 1913.

 

Submission of your completed O.W.L. exams is anticipated no later than 24 August.

 

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Armando Dippet

Deputy Headmaster

Head of House Ravenclaw

 

All in all, Harry was very much at the end of his rope and would like a nap, please and thank you.

He’d also like to be released on his own recognizance but that apparently wasn’t going to happen until the DoM – and Hitchens in particular – were satisfied that Harry was neither going to wander out blithely onto a train track or into spellfire or perhaps end up arrested for something he didn’t even realize was illegal in 1913 London and send the entire Ministry scrambling to clean up after their errant time-traveler.

Hence, his minder in the form of a far-too-interested Unspeakable Jones, who was also the holder of the letter of authorization signed and sealed by Hitchens that would allow shopkeepers to submit invoices to the DoM for any expenses Jones saw fit to authorize payment for via the letter.

Harry thought just handing him a handful of galleons from the lockbox in Hitchens’ office would have worked much easier but then when it came to Ministry bureaucracy his personal operating procedure was to stay as well fucking away from it as humanly possible so he couldn’t exactly judge based on being unknowing in regards to whatever hoops the DoM had to jump through to replenish their petty cash fund over using invoices and such for payment via the various earmarked vaults at Gringotts.

Like the Time Traveler one that was going to fund Harry – despite whatever new and fun surprises awaited him in the morning at the Bank that didn’t shut down for anything, even holidays – and Teddy until Hitchens released him into the wild.

If Harry was more often than not comparing himself – mentally at least – to a wild creature undergoing rehabilitation like on one of the wildlife shows Dudley liked to watch for the gore that was his own business.

Better that than a prisoner being paroled though he had no personal experience of what such a thing might actually look like beyond rumors from his childhood.

As he’d learned far too well over the years, no matter the term of sentence, Azkaban wasn’t known for their ability to rehabilitate criminals.

Punish, certainly.

Keep them from reoffending…not so much given that they were often far worse – and far less sane – upon release than they’d been on entering the torture-palace of a prison in Harry’s experience.

With Jones in tow and Teddy in his sling, Teddy’s diaper bag over his shoulder, Harry followed the Unspeakable’s instructions to floo into the public access point at Ludus Public House on Vertic Ally, one of the several alleys and districts in the London Magical District that Harry never had gotten around to exploring before being tossed back in time.  Dead center in the Magic District was Gringotts, of course, while Vertic Alley cut north-to-south on the eastern edge of the District, Horizont – where apparently his lodging for the night was set – east-to-west on the southern edge, Diagon cutting diagonally from the northwest corner through the district before coming to a crossroads at Gringotts, Vertic, and Horizont.  There were other streets and districts tucked here-and-there, which Jones was more than happy to explain as she and Hitchens were treating him like he was clueless out of deference for not skipping information that they expected him to just magically know like many purebloods had treated him in his previous era.

Carkitt Market, Old Westminster, Knockturn – which he knew about, Old London Residential District, and even a large park that separated Regal Alley (which apparently was more of a neightborhood than an alley or avenue) from Diagon.

The things he never knew he never knew.

Though at least Jones’s throw-away comment when she thought he was still passed out from the healing ritual regarding going to the Solstice celebration at the London Magical Park made more sense now with that information as she steered him out of Ludus – he’d actually managed to Floo with only a minor stumble, he’d take it for a win – and down Vertic.

Harry was doing a decent job, he thought, drinking it all in without looking like a total knob or yokel as Jones, now in casual robes and a long dress rather than her Unspeakable outfit, hair properly tucked back in a chignon at the back of her head and under a witch’s day hat, led him right down the street at a steady clip.

Vertic, from what he could tell while not obviously goggling and studying the various signs and storefronts, was a more upscale version of Diagon, a definite shopping center but with eateries and cafés and a pub or two marching down the long avenue that stretched the entire length of the magical district as a whole.

“There are two public libraries,” Jones was once again keeping up a pleasant chatter.  “One on Horizont and another – with rarer texts, scrolls, tomes, and manuscripts available for viewing by appointment only – in the Regal Alley Residential and Recreation District.  The latter also as a small museum attached.”

“Hmm.”  Harry hummed under his breath, actually interested in that given that the only thing close to a museum he’d seen since entering the wizarding world was Hogwarts.  Being a public school boy from Surrey, Harry had gotten used to at least annual school trips to the London Museum or the British Museum or the V&A and so on.  Lack of comparable culture – museums, libraries, theater, etc. – had been a major issue Hermione and other muggleborns had with the wizarding world.

Come to find out – unless there was a massive change in the next eighty or so years – they were all just looking in the wrong place.

Vertic Alley was bustling and hopping with happy and healthy witches and wizards in period-appropriate (or so he guessed) clothes under summer-weight robes, letting Harry confirm that he hadn’t gone nose-blind as he easily identified the cloud of pheromones belonging to a few hundred magical alpha, betas, and omegas out and about their business on a bright June evening.

“Certain places have public Floo access, I’ll give you a list when we get to the boarding house.”  Jones continued with her overview of the magical district.  Well, what he might need to know in the next day or so before his actual briefing on the subject with Hitchens and her access to materials specifically designed for time-travelers in mind.  “We’re going to Blackwood’s for a wand fitting since Ollivander’s made your original,” as noted on his paperwork, not that either Jones or her boss had been so rude as to ask when he’d been so visibly wrecked over its loss for all that he’d recovered – or seemed to do – rather quickly.  “Their work isn’t as famous as Ollivander’s but often are a better fit, especially if a witch or wizard needs a second wand after an accident or other issue.”

Wands didn’t break often with the charmwork it took to fashion them, but it did occur nonetheless.

“A knut or two in the donation box at the public Floo is all that’s really expected to help defray the cost of Floo powder that the Department of Magical Transportation supplies to the officially licensed public Floos.”  She said, smiling brightly as the little mite in the baby sling gave a bit of a coo at the sight of a post owl cutting them off and forcing them to pause a moment before continuing as it went about its deliveries.  “Ah, here we are.”  She gestured airily to the clean brick detached building that stood apart from its neighbors.

Crisp, bright white trim framed the simple window that looked into an empty consultation area with red oak flooring, a wooden desk painted white, and a white cushioned waiting-bench in the window.

Blackwood’s was etched into the glass of the door, no other displays or ornamentation required.

Entering the consultation area was a stern-faced witch with fine lines etched around her mouth and the corners of her eyes – Harry would guess she might be late middle age but not yet truly elderly, though it was hard to tell with witches and wizards given the improved health and lifespans they enjoyed thanks to magic and magical health care – from behind a curtain just as crisp and white as the rest of the simple décor.  She wore a long dress in the same style as what Harry had noted as popular on the street with a straight skirt, buttons marching down the length of it, and a tailored top in an almost men’s style in a subtle grey and black pinstripe with an overrobe in black on top.  Blackwood’s was once more present in the stitching over the left chest, a simple motif of crossed wands underneath the white embroidery.

Compared to Ollivander’s – and the proprietor in Harry’s time – it was quite the shock to the senses but not one Harry found displeasing.

And as Harry was almost starting to expect, Unspeakable Hitchens had already made arrangements, as made clear by the witch’s greeting:

“Ah, this must be Mister Peverell.”  The stern witch arched a brow as she watched him pass the baby in his sling over to Unspeakable Jones who nodded at her dismissal a simple: thank you, Ms. Jones, we can handle things from here.

“Yes, ma’am.”  Harry greeted her in turn with a crisp nod of his head but didn’t offer his hand.

A fact which got an interested purse of lips from the witch who went on to introduce herself and wave him into a chair.

Most people who possessed soulmarks but weren’t interested in seeking their soulmate at the moment wore gloves, which a question to Hitchens before leaving the DoM had confirmed as still the fashion in the early part of the century, however when gloves weren’t available for whatever reason, they simply kept their appendages to themselves and forebear to touch others, even casually.

It was a trait seen most often in the nobility – either the touch-reticence or the wearing of gloves – when a child had been promised away despite having an inactivated soulmark.

As the simplest way to continue that trait of being inactivated and preventing a rather messy breaking of a contract – or worse, a marriage – due to soulmates choosing to mate on top of bonding was simply to avoid skin-to-skin contact, the trigger for mark activation forming a beginning Recognition Bond between soulmates, countries and cultures infamous for political or practical marriages (between pairings involving betas or unsuited combinations of alphas or omegas; though suited pairs could choose to marry as well, it being a legal process not a magical or biological one) and/or matings (between suited pairs of alphas, omegas, or most likely alpha/omega matches) were the ones most often considered self-contained, or cold, due to their aversion to touch.

Given that he’d gone back in time and not forward, Harry wasn’t all that surprised that his lack of offering an ungloved hand had only been worth noting but didn’t draw comment otherwise as it would’ve done in the future when outside of the staunchest of pureblood nobility love matches and soulmates once more became the predominate preference for marriage and mating over money, blood, and politics.

“I am Master Wandcrafter Mercuria Blackwood.  Here, in this shop, we create only the finest of custom wands for our customers and bond them using blood magic.”

Harry could almost hear the sniff in her tone for her main competitor in the Ollivander family.

He would be willing to bet that between the way blood magic was denigrated later in the century and Garrick Ollivander’s theory of the “three supreme wand cores” that that sniff turned into all-out loathing by the time she retired.

“First,” Mistress Blackwood tapped her wand on a drawer in her desk, opening it to reveal a piece of cloudy crystal of some kind about the size of an occamy egg which she then levitated onto the simple white leather desk pad between the two of them.  “A reading on your magical core.  Everything revealed will be kept in the strictest of confidence and secured via contract,” she assured him at a look from his bright green eyes.  Interesting.  Quite the observant – and suspicious – customer Isla had sent her this time.

Blackwood’s – and Mercuria in particular as their foremost wandcrafter following the retirement of her mother – didn’t receive regular custom from the Department of Mysteries but she had to admit that whenever one of theirs, via whatever means that was decided, walked through her storefront’s door they were always interesting to craft and bond to a wand.

If, often, infuriatingly difficult and tricky at the same time…which was rather what made them interesting in her opinion.

“I just pick it up?”  Harry asked, giving in after a moment’s consideration.

The DoM had sent him here after all.

If they couldn’t make sure information about him – or at least not the properly considered information – didn’t spread to the public notice then there probably wasn’t anyone alive who could manage it.

“Quite.”  Mercuria nodded her head regally.  “And focus on your magical core whilst you’re about it.  It shouldn’t take long as you’re of an age to have fully settled and inherited into your power.”

Harry held in the urge to scoff – something Jones didn’t quite manage behind him but turned into a cough to maintain the pretense she wasn’t blatantly eavesdropping on their consult – at that but followed her directions anyway, allowing his eyelids to slip closed as he focused.

And given the bright light that threatened to pierce him and send his vision dazzling a few moments later, he was glad he did, dropping the crystal a bit unceremoniously in the process when it started to heat up.

Popping his eyes open once the light dimmed down, he swallowed a chuckle at the rapidly blinking and watering eyes of the wandcrafter as bad form, though he did manage to see the colors the light had turned before it blinked out and left a lump of clouded crystal behind on the desk.

Gold and silver.

His magic – via whatever-that-was – read as the metallic lovechild of Slytherin and Gryffindor.

Somehow, he thought ruefully, he wasn’t surprised.

Madam Blackwood, however, was if the slack-jawed surprise on her face was any sign before she marshaled her wits and scooped the egg-shaped crystal back up with a piece of cloth and dropped it back into the drawer.

Very powerful.”  She summed up the dazzling light show after taking a steadying breath.  “Quite.”  Carrying on.  “With a strong propensity for protection and healing.”

“Which is which?”  Harry could help but ask, even though he got the idea he was interrupting her flow of thought a bit – he’d noted that like many inventors and creators like the twins, Madam Blackwood spoke aloud as much for herself as for her audience.  “Protection and healing?”

“Protective magics are almost always silver in composition.”  Madam Blackwood enlightened him, showing no sign of irritation at the disruption as she summoned her most powerful woods regardless of their nature.  Depending on the core used, wood could, at times, be bent one way or another even if it isn’t its natural state.  “At the base at least, while healing – and natural healers in particular – often has an aura of near golden hue.”

Harry stewed on that a bit as while he’d always – since he was eleven – been seen as a protector no matter how much guidance had gotten him there, he’d never studied much in the way of healing outside of a bit of first aid and what was provided alongside potions and care of creatures.

Both subjects where any gained knowledge of healing was incidental rather than intentional for the most part.

But, a voice which was starting to make itself more and more prominent as the reality of his new, well, reality sank in, you don’t have to be Harry Potter anymore.  You don’t have to be the hero, the fighter, the savior.  There’s no Kingsley or Ron or anyone in the past waiting for you to take up the open-ended offer to start at the Auror Academy.

In the past, he could be anyone he wanted to be.

And that?

That was perhaps one of the headiest – and most terrifying – thoughts he’d had in all his life.

Following Madam Blackwood’s instructions for the woods she’d summoned from her workroom behind the curtain – all unvarnished lengths of wood between ten and fourteen inches he estimated, which was interesting as his former wand had only been nine inches – he intended to hover his hand over them and try and figure out which if any were drawn to him only to have his intensions scuttled by a foot-long (roughly) length of wood in a lovely honey tone with some darker striations leaping up into his hand, Harry catching it with a trained Seeker’s instinctive reflex.

Judging from the semi-amused semi-knowing semi-exasperated look on Madam Blackwood’s face that turn of events wasn’t as surprising to her as it was to him.

“Cherry wood, drawn towards those of exceptional power and strength of mind.”  The quirk to her mouth was definitely edging towards smug, Harry thought, as he held onto the cherry wand-blank while she banished the other woods and summoned cores in their place.  “That particular length came from an ancient grove with a rather viciously protective cluster of bowtruckle calling it home.”

Yes, that was a snicker he was hearing hidden Madam Blackwood’s voice.

“Rather appropriate.”  She thought.  “Let’s see if the cores will be as insistent or…”  Her teeth clicked shut on her words as one of the jars of cores – one she’d summoned more on instinct rather than intention given that she’d never crafted with its kind, nor had any of her relatives, to the point that none of them were entirely certain how they’d come into possession of it in the first place – shot open and the contents flew out and wrapped around both the cherry wand blank and Mister Peverell’s hand.

“What in the world?”  Harry tilted his head as he studied the length of what he would think was leather if it wasn’t for it being a silvery-black with a shimmer to it he’d never seen before in his life.  “Is,” he swallowed.  “Is this heartstring?”

With what he knew of wand cores – both common, uncommon, and flat-out rare – it was his best guess of what had decided was his.

Or maybe that he was its, either way.

“Yes, yes it is.”  Madam Blackwood admitted slowly, words almost dragging from her lips.  “Thestral heartstring, a core that has only been used in legends and considered extremely rare.”  She licked her suddenly dry lips as emerald eyes shot up to meet her own gaze.  “The earliest copies of the Tale of the Three Brothers claimed that the Elder Wand contained a core of thestral heartstring and not tail hair, while other tales claim that the likes of Ean Mortemis, Artorious Aurelianus, and even Morgana LeFey might have used wands or staves with cores of thestral heartstring.  Leaders and healers, without exception, famous or infamous, with the ability to unify even the most fractious of factions into a whole.”

Based on the milk-pale tone the skin of the young wizard before her took on, Mercuria was going to venture that her information rather than being comforting or heartening, was quite unwelcome indeed.

As who had been a somewhat genial if sardonic customer didn’t say another word all through Mercuria collecting the wand components, taking a small vial of blood to bond the wand to him, signing the contract regarding said-wand and its creation, and Ms. Jones handling the payment via invoicing with instructions for Mr. Peverell to return in an hour for collection of his new wand, she became certain that his new wand’s composition had given him a nasty shock of some sort or another even if she didn’t know enough of him – though she could make some guesses based on his wand – to posit exactly why.

Still, it wasn’t her business.

Mercuria was a wandcrafter.

What he – or anyone – did with one of her creations was for them to decide, and live with, not her.

“Do you need another Calming Draught?”  Jones asked him quietly after maneuvering him back into Teddy’s baby sling so the baby could sooth him as the unspeakable – both of them – had noticed his habit of using his godson-cum-adoptive-son as a touchstone to anchor him in the unforgiving eddies of their new, strange circumstances.

Jones had also noted Blackwood’s information on the composition of Harry’s soon-to-be wand for his file.

“Not as much as I need to sleep for twelve hours and forget about all of this for a while.”  He finally answered, muscle in his jaw throbbing visibly as he held onto his self-control with both hands and all of his innate stubbornness.  “Gloves, nanny-elf, then done.  I’m done for the day, Ms. Jones.”

“Easy enough.”  She nodded quickly, eyes scanning over Vertic then hauling him in and out of a clothier for the requested gloves in a matter of minutes before using the nearest Floo to pop them over to Diagon rather than walk the mile or so to the House Elf Relocation Office located between Eeylop’s Owl Emporium and Magical Menagerie.

Jones herded him quickly through the Leakey Cauldron and into the Office, which was a storefront operated by the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures.

Rather than force those interested in purchasing an available elf’s contract into visiting the DRCMC at the Ministry, the house elves were housed and trained at the Office in the magical district instead, and a listing of available elves and what training they had was posted in every Sunday edition of the Prophet.

Harry rather thought that it wasn’t unlike an animal shelter in his former era, which he had issues with for more than one reason, but not as many as Hermione would’ve done as he could quickly ascertain once he was actually inside the Office that the House Elves there were clean, clothed, healthy and treated better due to their value than many other magical creatures were at the time and would continue to be for many years until Mr. Scamander published his groundbreaking work on magical creatures and created whole swathes of careers, laws, and fields of study from his Fantastic Beasts.

It was also a highly informative and entertaining read, especially for a textbook authored in the early part of the century, if not as entertaining as his later work specific for interesting children in magical creatures nor as informative as the text he authored later in life specifically for Mastery-level magizologists and/or wizarding naturalists like Luna aspired to be.

Or would…or whatever.

Time travel.

Time Travel.

He imagined it would take more than a single day before his head stopped getting tangled up on issues of tense and mingling past-present-future-that-won’t-be.

The necessity of a nanny elf if he was either going to return to school for gaining his credentials or taking up a career had been carefully explained to him by Unspeakable Hitchens, even if only on a temporary basis since caring for a child – as Harry well knew – wouldn’t exactly leave him with much time to study or really do anything and this far in the past daycare wasn’t a normal thing yet.

Most families, even in the wizarding world, were still single-income with the expectation that one of the parents minded any children, though the wealthy were – as usual – an exception hence the idea from Hitchens (Harry’d known he’d recognized her name, she was one of the Blacks who’d been disinherited on the Grimmauld Tapestry before he’d repaired it after the War) for the DoM to pay the fee of hiring an elf for him.

As a Peverell, there was some expectation that he should own a manor or house somewhere, but Grythorn hadn’t been willing to release that information – if he’d known it – without Harry visiting the Bank.

Jones and the wizard manning the Office helped him through vetting the handful of available young adult elves who were up for relocation for one reason or another, and Harry soon enough found himself with a bright young she-elf he named Rosie, because he wasn’t an asshole, who was somewhat aflutter at the idea of caring for a young and powerful wizard and his infant son.

Even if it meant rooming in a bed and breakfast for a few days while Harry figured out his next steps.

If he mainly went through the process of bonding Rosie, walking to Blueblossom’s, checking in, Flooing back to Blackwood’s for his wand, and bidding Jones goodbye until the day after next on autopilot, that was his affair he thought as he faceplanted straight onto his bed at the bed-and-breakfast.

For her part, Rosie simply tsked over her Master overworking himself, undressed him down to his underthings with a click of spindly fingers, and set to caring for the Little Master until it was time for Little Masters to go to sleep.

Harry and Teddy both slept the deep sleep of the truly exhausted that night, all unknowing how they would change the world or that:

On a hippogriff breeding estate in the Lake District a young wizard had gasped and grabbed his outer thigh while preening his favorite hippogriff, Artemis, whilst explaining to her the fascinating research he’d been doing into layering wards and expansion charms.  That wizard had bid her a good-day, rushing to his bedroom and stripping down his trousers to see a vibrant – even in the greyscale of an inactive Mark – depiction of a thestral stretching from just above his knee to his hip.

Across the ocean from the first wizard, another nearly dropped his morning coffee all over his desk in the MACUSA Auror Headquarters in New York City as the burning tingle of a soulmark stole over the left side of his upper chest.  That wizard wouldn’t be able to see his new Mark until he returned home that evening.  Though he found himself pleased by the black-grey picture of what he thought might be a phoenix.

Or that another young person woke that morning in New York City but not with eagerness or pleasure but in fear as the image of a wolf stole across the palm of his right hand, already thinking frantically of how he was going to hide this new wickedness from his mother before the original wickedness that lived inside of him rose from his hand in a gritty black cloud and surrounded the Mark and sank into it, the thing disappearing from view but leaving a lingering sense of terror behind it.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Five:

Sweetness and Sunshine

June 21, 1913; Blueblossom’s Bed and Breakfast, Horizont Alley, London Magical District

It had to be said that there was a lot of truth to the adage of even the most difficult of situations appearing brighter and less fraught in the morning sunlight after a deep night’s sleep.

Well, in Harry’s case, night and half a day as without having to care for Teddy, the baby in the careful and excellent hands of Rosie the House Elf, he slept a solid fifteen or sixteen hours.

With all the trauma he’d gone through the day before – which had only started with time-travel – he couldn’t say he hadn’t needed it.

Passing out at around six in the evening only to wake up around ten the next morning left Harry rested, refreshed, and ready to start dealing with his situation instead of going with the flow.

After, that was, he desperately used the loo to empty his demanding – screaming really – bladder and bolted down the toast and tea left on the bedside table by his new nanny.

Harry wasn’t kidding himself.

He’d spent enough time around Kreacher, Dobby, and especially Winky to know that while he’d ostensibly gotten Rosie to care for Teddy when Harry couldn’t, she was going to take up the charge of looking after Harry just as much as she did the baby.

If not more since Teddy wasn’t likely to forgo sleep for a night because he got sucked into research or skip meals on accident.

That even with rudimentary Occlumency like Harry possessed one’s mind started filing and discarding memories and information for greater clarity of thought also helped though he was nowhere near having the near-perfect recall and memory storage abilities of a true Occlumense like Snape – yet.

Which if he wanted to keep his true identity and situation a secret – which was one of the caveats of being a time-traveler and had a lot to do with the secrecy involved in the Time Traveler laws – he would definitely need to get on securing his mental shields before he entered Hogwarts in the Fall.

He didn’t know when, precisely, Professor Dumbledore had learned Legilimency let alone when he started using it secretly on the student body, but he was taking zero chances.

Whether the current Dumbledore was closer to the young firebrand who thought ruling over the muggles as benign overlords was a grand idea or the manipulative puppet master didn’t really matter.

Neither of those iterations or whatever must have come in between the two was a man he wanted strolling through his head, thanks ever so much.

He wasn’t happy to have been sucked into the past and his entire…entirety turned upside down and inside out but as he turned his head at the cooing of Teddy and saw the baby laid out on the second bed in the room having tummy-time with Rosie the house elf making glowing lights dance before his fascinated eyes he thought that there were much worse things that could’ve happened to him thanks to an artefact that was active instead of inert.

Teddy slapped his hands against the bed, face-planting and his hair going bright red in outrage and Harry buried his head in his hands and laughed as Rosie righted the baby and spun him onto his back with a snap of her fingers.

Yeah, could’ve been a lot worse, especially with a baby along for the ride.

“Master Harry is going to the Bank?”  Rosie asked after Harry had gotten cleaned up, eaten, and did Teddy’s noon feed, staring down into eyes that as always changed over to Harry’s own bright emerald which actually went rather well with the baby’s happy-turquoise hair.

Knowing better than most thanks to previous interactions with house elves that Rosie would no more care about Harry’s nudity as he washed and changed than he would a dog’s, he’d quickly stripped down and bathed in the attached-bath, the DoM willing to spring for Blueblossom’s best-available suite for their pair of displaced time-travelers.  Rosie had handled laundering his clothes in the small sink with powder from the washroom and the skilled magic of a trained house elf that had them washed, rinsed, dried, and pressed long before he was done with his ablutions. 

According to the man at the relocation office and the paperwork he’d glanced over in a daze before bonding her into his service – the house elf visibly brightening and straightening with the influx of magic from “House Peverell” which at the moment counted a substantially-powered young adult wizard and a highly-powered infant wizard, both omegas who tended to be the most powerful of wizarding kind, particularly the males for reasons Harry was semi-certain had to do with power-levels required to create an omegan wizard in the first place – Rosie’s birth House hadn’t had enough ambient power to sustain another adult elf.

Which was the standard story or so Jones had said.

Houses that couldn’t sustain additional adult elves – or that died out with elves in their service – could choose to either “gift” their excess elves to Hogwarts, the ambient energy of the school empowering the elves in the manner they needed to exist, or sign them over to the relocation office that would test, train, and rehome the elves for a minor fee that mostly went to covering the cost of care and training.

Young elves were trained first by their parents and then at times sent to help and receive additional training at Hogwarts if the school had enough students to support the extra elves.

In that way house elves and wizarding kind were supposed to be symbiotic.

House elves – who were work-addicts of the worst kind – needed the ambient magic of wizarding folk to survive and in exchange they cooked and cleaned and cared for families and estates.

When it worked well it was perfect.

When it didn’t…well, you got a Dobby or a Kreacher.

At least in his service with her clean and pressed pinafore in a charcoal grey with the mark of the Hallows – or more appropriately the sigil of House Peverell – in black centered on the chest, Rosie would never have to worry about being abused.

“Yes, Rosie.”  Harry answered, shrugging into his robe and checking his wallet, coin purse, and wand were all in place.

His wand felt strange in his hand.

Not as…warm as his phoenix feather wand.

Which wasn’t surprising.

He didn’t imagine a thestral, no matter how starkly beautiful in their way, were as warm as a literal firebird.

It felt different from the Elder Wand as well, not as darkly seductive as it had been before he destroyed it.

No, what he sensed from his new wand, one bonded to him and which would answer only to him, was mostly a quiet sense of watchful power.

There’d been no sudden gust of wind or red-and-gold sparkles or overwhelming sense of finally when he’d held it in Blackwood’s shop last night, just a refined stream of silver-and-gold light that lasted only a moment before dissipating as Harry synced it to his horntail dragonhide holster.

He would adjust to it, it certainly didn’t feel wrong as Yaxley’s wand had in the time he’d used it before winning the allegiance of Draco’s blackthorn wand, it would just take a bit of time for them to go to know each other.

His holly wand certainly hadn’t been a steady, reliable partner instantly as his first attempts at spellwork had proven, they had grown together.

So it would be with his cherry wand, though he certainly got a kick out of sharing a wand wood with Neville now rather than a wand core with Voldemort.

Small mercies and smaller amusements.

“I don’t know how long I’ll be at the Bank, Grythorn didn’t give me any sign of what to expect.”  He told her.  “But when I get back, unless something changes in the interim, Teddy and I will be going to the solstice celebration in the Park and you’ll be free to spend the evening as you like as long as you’re back in the morning in time for me to leave for the Ministry.”

“Yes, Master Harry.”  Rosie’s ears flipped a bit in delight.  Though, Rosie was a good house elf and would never leave her charges overnight, especially with one so young, that he even thought to offer was a sign that Rosie’s magic was right and her new Master was a good Master.  “Rosie will watches over the Little Master and gets him ready for the party.”

“Excellent.”  Harry grinned down at her and then leaned over to the napping form of his – fuck, his son – and pressed a soft kiss to his hair that had faded back to his natural sandy-brown when he fell asleep.  “Be safe.”

“And yous, Master Harry.”

Hogwarts wouldn’t be out for the summer for another ten days, leaving the magical district to fill up with witches and wizards too old and children too young for the prestigious school on the holiday.

Bright summer flowers and greenery festooned the streets and Harry realized: the Olde Rites and Rituals hadn’t been outlawed yet.

Shaking his head as he moved easily through the streets towards Gringotts – different decade or not, people were still people – he simply noted it as just another thing he’d have to learn about to fit in.

Harry was the lone visitor to the iconic white stone bank, ushered quickly through the lobby once he gave his name to the head teller and back to Grythorn’s office.

“You were quite intent on having me take up the Peverell name instead of some of the other options,” Harry noted once he’d sat down and filled out the requisite paperwork to officially claim House Peverell under the Gringotts’ policy as well as the Ministry one he’d taken care of – with Grythorn’s help – the day before.  “I’d like to know why.”

As he’d seen for himself the number on the account balance for the gold in the main Peverell Vault – one of three the House possessed that had been in abeyance – he knew it wasn’t about gold.

There was plenty in the vault, don’t get him wrong, but nothing exciting for a goblin.

Not, say, Black or Malfoy level of wealth, more low-end seven-figure wealthy and not high-end nine-figure wealthy.

It was significant wealth for the beginning of the twentieth century, nothing to sneeze or sneer at, but, as he’d noted, nothing terribly exciting for a goblin compared to some of the accounts they managed.

Thankfully, Teddy’s appearance further back in the timeline hadn’t changed his acceptance to Hogwarts at all, and from what he’d been told yesterday by the Head Unspeakable, the DoM had authorized payment of his tuition to the school from their Time-Traveler fund once Harry had done his part and filled out all the paperwork that was needed and Teddy was legally adopted as his son.

As school was the single greatest expense a wizarding parent could expect to pay in their child’s lifetime – barring a truly extravagant bride price or dowry – it was a relief to say the least, even if he was wary of the strings the DoM’s continuing largess might be hiding in the shadows.

So far everything had been – mostly – aboveboard, save for the goblins’ interest in his information regarding investments they might wish to make in the future, investments that would help replenish the gold spent on him and Teddy into the Time Traveler fund.

Still, if his life had taught him anything, it was to look for the knife, or silent curse, a smile might hide.

“The wealth of the Peverell family has never been in gold.”  Grythorn readily acknowledged that much.  “They became defunct long before wizards turned their eyes to amassing coin.  This is true.  Instead, they counted on the most important currency of their time: land and what it could provide.  Land that had laid fallow and untouched for more than a century as it awaited an heir to it.”  Grythorn’s smile was chilling, even to a wizard as used to goblins as Harry.  “As have the contents of the preservation vault and library vault beneath our halls.  Not all treasures are made of metal and gems, even goblins know that for all that they are our preference and province.  Here,” one clawed hand passed over a large scroll.  “An inventory of your non-coin vaults,” then another.  “And your landholdings as Lord and Head of the Peverell Line.”

Harry knew his eyes were the size of dinner plates as he automatically opened and started reading the list of landholdings – to a one marked as Fidelius Charmed or Unplottable, plus warded on top of those already significant security measures – ignoring for a moment that his goblin account manager (well, now, given that he needed a manager who knew his personal history) hadn’t been shy about wanting him to take a look at what was in the vaults, almost treating the land as incidental.

It was almost the exact opposite issue to the one he’d been slowly digging through with his goblin account manager in the future: being land-rich but investment poor.

Most of it didn’t note any home or existing structures on the land – at least not now, a few were said to have ruins of previous structures that failed and crumbled or were otherwise destroyed by time and neglect – except for what he thought, if he was reading the information correctly, amounted to entire Unplottable counties in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, and France that were inaccessible due to not having a living Peverell to access and reset the wards that apparently lock down on the death of each preceding lord.

Circe’s fucking tits, Harry had a vault of coin, two of various items that even a goblin was interested in, and a quintet of magical counties in Western Europe that three of which had a house of some kind on them of various make grand enough to have a name of its own.

Though with the names of the holdings, he could take a guess.

Unless his Peverell ancestors were being ironic, Peverell Manor, Keep and Castle depending on the time period they were built in were likely quite grand each in their own ways.

Notations on the landholding deeds for the Peverell holdings Scotland and Ireland put them as grants for service of one kind or another that were warded but never settled with more than caretaker’s cottages over the centuries since they were granted.

Much like the deeds to tracts of land in Greenland and Northern Canada which – if he had to guess based on the dates – were more a case of that particular ancestor being an explorer who ventured there, grabbed a bunch of land, threw some wards on it, made it all Unplottable, and then never went back.

No tropical islands for Harry in this round of inheritance bingo, but thanks to magically updating records kept by Gringotts, he apparently owned an uncharted/unplottable island in the Labrador Sea, as well as chunks of what was now known as Greenland, Baffin Island, Newfoundland, and Labrador.

That ancestor must’ve been a greedy bastard.

Which, granted: Dark-to-early-Middle Ages wizard of Northern/Northwestern European make, greedy bastard was kinda the standard for that period if they weren’t simply trying to survive.

However, he could muse on the sticky-fingered wizards from which he’d apparently sprung another time, Grythorn was still waiting on him and goblin time was Harry’s gold.

“The homes in England, Wales, and France,” he decided.  “I’d like a Gringotts team to inspect the homes themselves and create a report on the soundness and structure of the buildings, including any necessary work or improvement to bring them up to the current standard of the wizarding world – including indoor plumbing.”

Which since these homes had been locked down for over several centuries at this point, was going to be very much needed.

That they’d survived the neglect at all was likely due to excellent warding that was linked into the magic of the land and not just the Peverell Family if Harry knew anything at all about how wards sustained themselves from having to update the ones on Grimmauld Place.

“And the required work?”  Grythorn prompted after making a note.  The report themselves weren’t going to be expensive.  It was the sort of appraisal work that goblins were accustomed to doing whenever there was an inheritance of this kind including old homes.  The construction that was sure to be required afterward…that was where the goblins were likely to make their gold as his reading of Harry Peverell didn’t strike him as a wizard who liked other wizards having knowledge pertaining to his personal security – or that of his son.  Paranoid, some would say.  Good sense to a goblin.

“I’ll decide once I get an estimate on cost and expenses.”  Harry told him firmly, putting aside the issue of the unplottable lands for now.  If they’d been functioning perfectly well without human presence or intervention for centuries, they could continue to do so for the next few weeks while he got onto his feet in his new era.

He cracked open the scroll on the contents of the preservation and library vaults next, easily identifying several things in the latter thanks to Hermione’s rants that would fetch a fortune if needed, as well as several seeds or specimens – the preservation vault was apparently or more correctly dubbed an ingredient preservation vault – that were thought to be extinct from Neville’s.

Harry whistled softly as he looked back up at the eager – for a goblin – face of his account manager.

“Did you know what was in here?”  He tapped the ingredient list.

There was enough rare – or extinct – things in that vault to buy a small country let alone fund the Peverell estate if he’d been completely skint instead of just poor by Black standards.

“There are…whispers.”  Grythorn admitted after a beat.  “Of what is contained in the Peverell vaults, much like those of the Founder vaults.  Enough so that when the opportunity presented itself, and you were so insistent on not taking up the name of Slytherin, that guiding you towards Peverell I thought to be in the best interest of both yourself and the Bank.”

Harry shook his head.

That was such a goblin response – though, granted, goblin so he wasn’t certain what else he’d expected.

“I’d like an owl as soon as the reports on the three existing homes are complete and ready for review.”  Harry told him, picking up his new vault keys and tucking them away in his mokeskin pouch and his newly-accumulated paperwork in his robe pocket, rising to leave.  He’d had enough of playing along with the whims of others for the moment.  His son was waiting on him to take him to his first Rite.  “Any other decisions – regarding the land or the contents of my new vaults – will have to wait until I’ve a better idea of the current laws and culture of Wizarding Great Britain and the Wizarding World at large.”

“As you wish, Lord Peverell.”  Grythorn nodded, eyes flicking to the solid half-inch band of platinum that was engraved with the Hallows now residing on Harry’s right middle finger.  “Such reports will likely be ready in less than a week for your perusal.”

“Until then, then, Grythorn.”

“Indeed, Lord Peverell.”

Rosie was as good as gold, not that Harry had expected anything else.

Teddy was fed, diapered, and dressed in his spare outfit of a lion-hooded onesie by the time Harry returned to the bed and breakfast to pick him up, his dirty things all cleaned and tucked back in the diaper bag, and even some lunch of a simple sandwich and tea ready and waiting on him.

All Harry had to do – thank Merlin all Harry had to do – for the moment was eat and scoop up his son then go to a party where no one would know them and nobody would expect a Circe-damned-thing from either of them.

The baby loved all the color and action and noise of the Solstice festival that was going strong in Londinium Magicae park that separated Regal Alley’s district from Diagon Alley by the time they arrived.

Vendor stalls were set up offering everything from food to home crafts to simple flower crowns appropriate for anyone of any sex, dynamic, martial/bonding status, and walk of life to purchase and don to celebrate the day.

Glad he had some coin on him as Jones with that handy letter of authorization was – thankfully – nowhere to be found, he stopped at the first flower-crown stall he saw doing only mild business run by a pair of sweet-faced little girls too young for Hogwarts.

“Do you have a crown suitable for a baby, miladies?”  He asked with a soft smile – and as always a soft touch – for children.

They giggled up at him, the older of the two probably eight or nine years old, likely belonging to the ever-watchful beta witch running the bakery stall next to their little table and awning with its bright flowers and rich greens.  Comparing the workmanship to that of others, it was easy to see the amateur craftsmanship in the crowns.  But they were only for a day and Harry never had cared much for status.

If it put a smile on their little faces then that was what truly mattered.

Harry was more than capable for charming Teddy’s crown – which the younger of the two girls handed over with another giggle and a blush – of pink-tinged English daisies, blush moss roses, and some green clover to keep it together and out of Teddy’s seeking hands, doing likewise plus sticking charms for his own flower crown of soft clover, yellow roses, and more pink daisies, each entwined with golden ribbon added by the elder sister as appropriate for high-born omegas, after handing over the requested six knuts for their wares.

From what Harry understood of magical traditions and dynamics, the pink daisies were for omegas of any age or status, with the moss roses on Teddy’s marking him as underage and the yellow roses on Harry’s that he was both of age and unclaimed.

He would be the first to admit that there was a lot he didn’t know about wizarding culture, even moreso about wizarding culture in the 1910’s, but that much he’d picked up over the years at Hogwarts.

Mainly practiced in Harry’s original era by the purebloods, it was one of the few aspects of the culture that was flat-out explained to muggle-born and muggle-raised students, in order to prevent embarrassing social gaffes with how prevalent scent suppressants had become by the time Harry had originally entered Hogwarts.

Muggles, after all, being magicless didn’t have dynamics or the accompanying scents and behaviors.

To wizarding kind, they all read as betas whether male or female, and never anything else when even squibs had enough magic inside of them – if not suited for wandwork – to be as magical in that way, that of dynamics and soulmates, as they were in magical arts not requiring a wand such as potion making, arithmancy, or many other magical fields and subjects.

Though if Harry wanted to avoid notice in the park with the others picnicking or dancing around the unlit bonfires or singing or what have you, he probably – in hindsight – should’ve charmed a glamour over Teddy’s hair since it didn’t take long for word of the strange omega with his metamorphmagus omega son to make the rounds and Harry and Teddy found themselves once more the subjects of stares and whispers, though much more benignly than they were used to.

Still.

The sun was out, birds were singing, the air smelled sweet, and Teddy was gurgling as his hair flashed between turquoise, aqua, bright green, and sunny yellow – all happy colors.

For that sort of afternoon, Harry would endure much worse than a few whispers and rude stares.

It was a break they – if Harry more than the baby – needed more than he could say.

Then high noon came, the sun at its zenith, and the dance began, sweeping Harry – and Teddy cradled safely in his sling – up in the joy and sweetness and sunshine and power of the day.

“Why am I not surprised to see you, Madam Hitchens?”  Harry asked with good-natured teasing – and knowing – in his smooth baritenor voice.

“Why, I don’t know!”  Isla chirped – though she would deny it – brightly right back at him as her group with her and Teddy who was sitting propped against Harry’s bent legs on the blanket where she’d located them under the largest of the cherry trees in the park, all watched the byplay between the two.  “After all, I wasn’t certain you would take my advice to come to the park or celebrate at Blueblossom’s, Harry.  There was no way I could have planned to see you here today.”

If the huffs of laughter at her words – and far too innocent tone – from those around her were any sign, they didn’t believe it, even with missing a lot of context, than Harry did as his snort of humor and rolled eyes gave testament to.

“I suppose you must join me then.”  He noted wryly, Isla already going for her wand to expand his picnic blanket with a few flicks, her party joining her in setting out their own blankets and chatting quietly amongst themselves as they observed the pair – trio, if one included the baby – as Isla sat gracefully near the young wizard.

“I suppose I must.”  She agreed, then turned to introductions.  “Darling, this is the grandson of my old friend, the one I was telling you about?”  She twisted a bit to face her husband, waving a hand between the two.  “Harry, this is my husband Bob Hitchens, Senior Auror for the Ministry’s Department of Magical Law Enforcement; our son Robert,” she gestured to an early middle-aged wizard with the same quicksilver eyes as his mother and the mouse brown hair of his father.  “Who works with the Magical Accidents and Catastrophes division at the Ministry; his wife, Elaine, and their daughter Georgiana who will also be starting Hogwarts next term.  Everyone,” she made a bit of a ta-da gesture that was all Black.  “Meet Hadrian Peverell, he prefers Harry, and his son Teddy, and please try to convince him that British people aren’t all as mad as my Unspeakbles if you please.”

Well, Harry thought, as the handful of witches and wizards – and those within earshot who’d been rather obvious in their eavesdropping – that was one way to get the word out he supposed.

Part of him even envied that careless style with which she’d managed it, it was very Black after all, the sort of thing Sirius, Nymphadora, and Draco alike had done without thought or struggle.

A lot of it had to do with how he was raised, Harry knew that, and his fame – and having possessive friends – being extraordinarily isolating, but he would never have that sort of flawless, easy charm with people that the Blacks consistently managed or used without thought.

Hopefully Teddy would take after his mum when it came to people, and not his awkward godfather.

Harry could dream, anyway.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Six:

Ethical Dilemmas

June 22, 1913; The Department of Mysteries, Ministry of Magic for Wizarding Great Britain, London

He remembered an ethical exercise Snape had assigned during his sixth year, one that had come to blows extremely quickly and led to more than one lingering feud.

It was – he knew after a bit of Hermione’s indignation-fueled research rant – actually a standard question to get people thinking about ethics.

Specifically, ethical dilemmas and how various schools of ethical thought dealt with them.

With the atmosphere of the school at the time, Harry, in hindsight, realized what Snape was trying to do, how he was trying to get them to think.

That didn’t make it a useful exercise with who Snape had on his hands in sixth year Defense Against the Dark Arts, but that didn’t make it worthless either, especially as he’d come later to understand so much about why Snape had chosen that particular question to start their segment on ethics in DADA.

The question was: “Was it right to kill one person in order to save a hundred more?”

Two years later, with more information and a lot of bitterness, Harry knew that both Snape and Dumbledore would have answered that question and even quite a few of the ethical situations that evolved from it regarding the nature of who was to be killed versus who was to be saved, was it only a theoretical amount of people to be saved or a guarantee, and so on, with an emphatic yes.

As the not-at-all theoretical one who had to die to save a hundred more – though it could be said the number saved would have been far larger than a hundred but still – he knew that that answer was yes.

People he knew, people he respected, thought that one life – even an innocent life – was a fair trade to save a hundred more.

Now that he faced being dropped into the past, it was a question that had started to linger in his mind, to burrow and really dig in, forcing him to confront a reality he’d been quite happy ever since he woke up alive instead of dead in the Forbidden Forest to ignore.

Just because he’d done his job and played the martyr did not mean that he agreed with the stance Dumbledore and Snape had taken in the matter.

It simply meant he hadn’t had the time or ability, then, to figure out another option.

By the time he knew and didn’t just suspect, he’d been backed rather spectacularly by actions both his own and belonging to others into an inescapable corner.

He’d had no choice, then, but to be the one to save the others.

Sitting in Isla’s office – she’d been rather firm on that the previous afternoon after she’d just happened to come across him and Teddy resting in the park after the Solstice dance with her family that he call her Isla and not Madam Hitchens – it was a question that he was definitely going to have to answer, and soon, as well as a few others that were rather emergent, in order to start forging his own path into the future if nothing else rather than sitting there all in a muddle and trying to sort out up from down.

The only thing he was certain on – and had been since he’d decided he wasn’t going to be a passive observer in his own life, not anymore, and was going to choose to act – was that he couldn’t allow Dumbledore and Voldemort to divide the wizarding world for a second time.

But he wasn’t naïve.

He knew that the problem hadn’t actually begun with the two of them, they’d just made it so much fucking worse.

And it wasn’t just the wizarding world that had been fucked over when he grew up.

The muggle one had done a bang-up job of ripping itself to pieces too and all the natural world with it, to a degree that they were just starting to understand when the damage had begun almost a century before.

Was already well on its way to fruition in the now he’d been dropped into.

Harry didn’t know how much of that damage, how much of the death and the suffering he could – or even should – try and prevent.

But he did know his English and European history, at least an overview.

He knew a few names as every child did.

He knew a few key events.

The same for the wizarding world.

He might be more well-educated on the Voldemort Wars than he was the Grindelwald War, or the Great War, but he knew some, he knew the big things.

The question then became: what was he willing to do to stop them, to save actual millions of lives instead of the theoretical hundred.

Kill one man?

He’d already done that, more than once, though arguably the first time had been in self-defense.

Kill a hundred men?

Imperio a hundred men?

Where did it stop?

Where did he stop?

Where was the line between trying to do the right thing and create a better future and turning into the sort of person – the Dumbledore or Voldemort – that he despised?

And that was what churned and tossed through his mind, forcing him to think on it over and over, as he sat in Isla’s office, drinking tea and having sandwiches at lunchtime, while the Head Unspeakable gave him a broad overview of the current state of the Wizarding and muggle worlds and Rosie watched over Teddy at the bed and breakfast.

Alphas, betas, and omegas all exist in the same general proportions as Harry was used to – check.

Due to the fashions of the day, there is less concern over being discovered by muggles though robes are still best-advised to be worn at home or in wizarding-only areas – check.

Those not immediately seeking their soulmate wear gloves and high-necked collars to prevent accidental skin contact – check.

Lords are expected to have long hair, Harry would need to grow his out – not ideal, but fine.

Due to his new partial-Native American heritage, Harry would need to learn the Animagus transformation lest he not be considered an adult by tribal standards – that, he was actually excited about, along with learning all Isla – and the British Wizarding World in general – knew about his new, if borrowed and not genuine, cultural heritage.

It had been one of his big, lingering wounds from his childhood: the not knowing.

He never knew his grandparents’ names.

Petunia never told him.

On the Potter side Remus had done so when he was thirteen, for the Evans side he’d only just learned that two days ago when Grythorn had done his inheritance test.

In a world and culture where family and heritage were extremely important, Harry had always felt distinctly inadequate.

He’d had to be tossed eighty-five years into the past to start learning things he should’ve known from the cradle.

A fact he wasn’t bitter about at all, obviously.

OWLs were still needed to maintain wand-rights, NEWTs to be considered a respectable, education person of value – check.

Really, given all he hadn’t known about wizarding culture in the future, the list of what he had to unlearn or relearn to get by in wizarding culture in the past wasn’t all that large.  Yes, things were a bit more…restrained now than they would be – could be? Depending on how things developed? – in the future.  But other than that he had a lot more to learn about current muggle culture than he did wizarding.

A side-effect of wizarding culture being slow to change, he supposed, though in this cases – and a few others – it worked in his benefit.

Wizards and witches wouldn’t really care like muggles would that his skin, thanks to Isla’s idea of how to create his cover identity, wasn’t as milk-pale with a hint of olive as it had been before but had taken on a distinct copper undertone that would likely brighten and darken into the famous – or infamous – tan of a person of Native American descent, especially if he spent much time in the sun.

It would cause him no end of problems – in slurs and prejudice alone – if he wandered out of wizarding areas, especially in the United States.

Wizarding folk didn’t really give much of a damn.

He was a pureblood as far as they were concerned, blood status being the only real issue of prejudice alive and well in wizarding culture according to Isla’s overview, the one that would eventually overshadow it of Dark and Light hadn’t yet begun rearing its nasty little head.

Or, he supposed, Grindelwald hadn’t started really rearing his nasty little head.

A couple of questions and a read-through of yesterday’s and this morning’s Daily Prophet had confirmed that whatever Grindelwald was up to in building his movement, it hadn’t really caught on much yet.

From what Harry understood of the surrounding history, he needed the discontent caused by the outcome – and punitive measures laid on the Central Powers by the Allied Powers – of the Great War to really start gathering power in Europe.

He was a radical at the moment, nothing more, nothing less, and one that no one was really paying attention to aside from a bit of monitoring on the part of the British DMLE over the inquest to the death of Ariana Dumbledore which had never resulted in anything close to charges or a satisfactory outcome according to Isla when she’d looked up the matter for him.

His minder – and as much as she’d probably scoff at the appellation but it was rather fitting anyway – and the Head of the Unspeakables was quickly getting used to what sort of information he was interested in and the kinds of questions he asked.

Anything to do with culture, history, and so on were all dismissed as part of the issues with a time-traveler.

It was the others – the questions about certain people both wizarding and muggle – that got him a bit of a side-eye but she knew he’d taken the Oath required of a time-traveler intending to meddle.

She knew that he knew he had to abide by at least the letter of it and the spirit if at all possible to act in the best interest of the common good when it came to active interference.

He couldn’t be punished – thankfully, and he’d asked for clarification when the idea popped into his head – for anything arising from him simply living his life in the current era, even if those changes were determined by magic to not be in the best interest of the common good of the wizarding world.

Harry didn’t have a great grasp on certain aspects of history or magical culture or even how many fucking countries there were in the future let alone the current era but he did have a rather excellent one on things like basic right and wrong ethical dilemmas and did what he could to avoid the more sticky and tangled ones.

If there was a bit of excitement in his heart for having a front-row seat as certain things that would shape and form history were created or events that would live forever in textbooks and legend occurred…well.

He was only a teenager.

He thought he was rather allowed.

Monday, June 25, 1913; The Head Unspeakable’s Office, Department of Mysteries

A day of scrambling, a day of celebrating, a Saturday spent getting an overview of, well, everything Isla could think of, a day of rest, and then Harry was expected for another day at the DoM and hopefully creating the framework of a routine to carry them all through until he left with Teddy for Hogwarts.

Or, it would be if Isla had had her way.

Unfortunately for the Head Unspeakable, Harry really was quite stubborn about some things.

Simply impossible to talk sense into.

Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, etc.

So, while it shocked Isla down to her toes to have her ward appear in her office with a boy a handful of years younger than Harry clinging to his hand, eyes big and black and wide with awe drinking in the sight of magic everywhere around him, all she could really think to do was take a deep breath and sigh.

Well.

She’d been wondering what Harry was going to do with all his knowledge.

Apparently, judging by the state of the boy’s clothes, the bruise on his cheek, and the scent just beginning to blossom with magical development and puberty, the answer was – at least for the moment – rescue an alpha wizard from an abusive home.

There were worse things, she supposed.

At least the little alpha didn’t look like anyone she’d met before or have the distinct characteristics of a few wicked wizarding families that were known to take a harsh hand with their children if they gave any hint of failing to live up to the family name and legacy.

And it was early in creating Harry’s cover yet, beyond the Solstice picnic.

Creating a brother for him – if the fierce look in Harry’s eyes was anything to go by he wouldn’t be letting his new friend go, nor would the child likely be amenable given the way he was clinging to Harry – would be easy enough even if it would necessitate another visit from the rather brusque and unpleasant Grythorn.

There were worse things, yes.

Harry wasn’t going off on an assassination spree or trying to take on the world alone.

Saving a boy in the face of what he might have done, wasn’t nearly the headache that other Head Unspeakables had had to deal with – and at times clean up – in the care of their time-travelers.

The Day Before, New York City, New York

There were a handful – well, maybe more than that now – of tricks in Harry’s bag that he hadn’t quite owned up to on the mass of paperwork he’d filled out for Isla and the Department of Mysteries.

Granted, the quill and enchanted parchment were good at dragging out things he’d rather not think of, at jogging his memory and helping him be thorough, but Harry had been keeping secrets for as long as he could remember.

Keeping his head down and his tongue under control had been vital skills to surviving under the lash of Privet Drive.

It was one of his distinct Slytherin traits, one that was common in abused children, and one nothing short of targeted Legilimency even magic couldn’t work around.

He’d picked the skills up here-and-there, all of them far above what he should know at not-yet-eighteen and missing a year of magical education.  Some had been from the Tournament, some from personalized training like with Remus his third year, others from simply having the ability to watch and listen to other around him.  To pay attention.  To learn, even if the one teaching wasn’t interested in teaching him.

Yes, his life on Privet Drive had had far-reaching consequences.

Dumbledore had even commented on one of his not-legally-acquired skills: apparation, noting that most wizards vomit their first time.

Harry apparated for the first time at eight, ending up on the top of the school roof while running from Dudley’s gang, all without the characteristic crack that was common or even the soft pop of a particularly skilled witch or wizard accompanying the translocation.

Apparation, however useful, wasn’t the crown-jewel in his set of skills he shouldn’t know for one reason or another – including reasons pertaining to illegality.

No, that particular skill was the creation of undetectable portkeys.

He hated the damn things.

Would never take to them no matter how long he lived or how distant the memory of the Cup became.

But they were, he had to admit, quite useful when one figured out the trick – in his case via unrestricted access to the infamous Black Family Library – of how to layer the portkey charm underneath other enchantments to mislead the Ministry sensors keyed to detecting them and monitoring their use.

Or depending on the situation, how to conceal them altogether.

Dumbledore with his unauthorized portkey creation in the Ministry Atrium inadvertently taught him how to make them.

Sirius making him his Heir eventually taught him how to truly use them to his advantage, even if that information came far too late to be useful during the War when apparation was a far safer method to avoid Death Eaters and Snatchers alike.

A portkey could take you from one end of the world to the other in a matter of moments.

Together with a chart on the time differences in various areas of the globe, Harry had the ability to do quite a bit of traveling all without the oversight of the Ministry, even someone who’d been so helpful and, honestly, wonderful as Isla.

His first stop was in the east.

His second was New York City where a very important person lived in misery and sorrow and pain.

Harry didn’t know all that much about pre-WWI magical history.

Binns had never covered much beyond the goblin wars for whatever reason (Hermione thought it was what he was lecturing on when he died and just…kept at it) but there were a couple of events that were covered in Skeeter’s attempt at assassinating Dumbledore’s character and tearing apart his relationship to Gellert Grindelwald that Harry had found interesting.

One of which was the event involving what, or rather who – at the time anyway – was considered an Obscurial, one Credence Barebone.

A magnificently powerful wizard who’d repressed his magic from a young age due to his magic-hating muggle adoptive mother, he was eventually – after being abused and manipulated for basically all of his life – found and outed as an Obscurial by Grindelwald in December of 1925 when he was twenty-four.

Credence Barebone was the longest-lived “Obscurial” on record.

That the theory of the Obscurus/Obscurial parasite and host had been debunked in the 70s didn’t really matter to anyone who’d been marked as one.

There was, they knew in Harry’s birth era, no such thing as an Obscurus.  No magical parasite searching out abused children who repressed their magic to feed on it.  All of it was bunk and bullshit to cover up the fact that the wizarding world didn’t want to step up and own up to the consequences of allowing their children to be tortured, neglected, and abused.

Before the theory was debunked, so-called Obscurials were in fact very rare for a very simple reason: most magical children who were abused simply didn’t have the power and accompanying temperamental rage or wrath to lash out with intentionally-destructive wandless magic at a young age.

Not on the scale attributed to Obscurials.

Obscurials were, to be frank, the top one percent of the one percent when it came to power.

They were the abused and tortured versions of Dumbledore and Grindelwald, Voldemort and Harry Potter, who in the face of abuse and neglect and hate lashed out rather than duck their heads and carry on, who raged rather than endured.

There was a certain…ebb and flow to magic if one cared to look.

Powerful wizards or witches, almost always, came in pairs.

Nothing so simplistic as dark and light, but for every Albus there was a Gellert, for every Harry there was a Neville, and in the year 1901, from what Harry could tell and Skeeter knew, to balance the birth of Seraphina Picquery in Savannah, Georgia, there was Aurelius Dumbledore aka Credence Barebone in London, England.

How he’d gotten to New York City and adopted by Mary Lou Barebone, no one quite knew, but no one was surprised either as those who were born in such sets were often drawn to each other whether by fate, design, or circumstance.

Neville, while he’d never truly shown magic as powerful as Harry’s, certainly had power and plenty of it, only hindered by his own self-confidence – and before that, his grandmother’s insistence on him using a totally unsuited wand – and been Harry’s godbrother and good friend.

What saved both Neville – growing up in an oppressive and mentally/emotionally abusive household – and Harry from turning into what would have once been considered an Obscurial was that neither of them repressed their magic.

Magic – especially powerful magic – had to be used, if not honored and cherished.

If not…well.

You got the extreme outbursts once accredited to an Obscurus: magic made of pain and abuse and destruction that knew nothing but destruction in turn.

Living as long as Credence Barebone had done without having his magic turn on him in rage and wrath was nothing short of spectacular and stark evidence of his self-control.

It took him awhile to find him, but he’d planned for that.

Only having the idea of “somewhere in New York City” wasn’t a whole lot to go on, even with the city being smaller than it was rumored to be in the future and a Point-Me “Credence Barebone” only gave him a direction to apparate in until the pull from the spell eventually led him to a church.

A grimmer place to live, Harry thought as he took in the dismal place, he couldn’t think of off the top of his head, and that comes from someone who’d once called Grimmauld Place home.

Then, in a horrific reminder of his own childhood, that pull from the spell led him into the church, down a dark corridor that almost seemed to hold its breath in fear and pain, and to a tiny, locked, closet.

It wasn’t a cupboard under the stairs, but it wasn’t far off either.

Lowering the hood on the cloak and shoving it back off his shoulders to hang down his back – and keep him from seeming like some bodiless demon come to snatch up the poor kid – a flick of his wand that he’d noticed responding as much to his intentions than any verbal spell, half the time the spell not even making it through his lips before the magic was flying, had the lock snapping open with a quiet snick.

Harry reached out and opened the door, the dim light of the early morning – fuck, he’d been left there all night – weakly shining into the tight, confined space and making dark, midnight black eyes gleam.

“Hello, Credence.”  He crouched down, a veritable giant compared to the form stuffed and crammed into a space far too small to contain it comfortably.  He was lost for a moment.  What was he supposed to say to a kid who’d been as horribly abused as Credence, to the point that even what Harry had undergone with the Dursleys seemed like a – well not good – but a better alternative?

Then it occurred to him.

What he would’ve wanted someone to say to him eight years ago before Hagrid came to get him on Dumbledore’s orders.

“I’m here to take you away from all this.  Away from her.”

“Who are you?”  For a long moment Harry had thought Credence wouldn’t say anything, far too terrified that it was a dream or some sort of wicked trick.  But that voice was young, not quite beginning to change with oncoming puberty, if cracked from thirst and crying himself to sleep in the dark.

“My name is Harry, Credence.”  Harry didn’t smile.  If Credence was anything like Harry, he’d view a smile as just another trick.  “I’m a wizard.  So are you.  And I’m here to take you to our world.”

Of course, it hadn’t been as easy as all that.

Life wasn’t a fairy tale and though Credence had taken Harry’s offered hand and let him help the abused boy through losing what little there was in his stomach after he’d activated his illegal portkey to take them back to England – the docks, rather than right into the heart of the magical district, just in case he’d screwed up and it got tracked anyway – then again after he’d apparated them both to the nearest entrance to the magical district, that didn’t mean Credence trusted him.

Though, while he was visibly shocked at the use of magic – it was hard to argue with magical transportation for making a believer out of people – it was almost that the effects being so negative in the form of the discomfort caused that it made it more real to the kid.

Harry had gotten Credence out of the control of Mary Lou Barebone and he knew magic was real.

Okay, that was step one done.

Only about eight million left to go.

Fortunately, he knew a couple of Unspeakables that while likely to be frustrated in the extreme with Harry kidnapping himself a brother – since trying to play Credence as his own kid, even via adoption, was straining credulity even for wizards – would give him a pass on the basis of being a time-traveler and would also, coincidentally, know exactly who to task with helping teaching Credence about the wizarding world and using his wandless magic instead of letting it use him.

After Harry’s little brother-acquisition trip (and another for far less benign matters, though better for everyone all around that no one knew that Harry had done what he’d done but him, even so he’d have nightmares for years and had sworn never again) things finally started settling into a routine.

It wasn’t much of a routine, granted, but it was something.

Isla had arranged with Blueblossom’s to house him, Credence – as his new half-brother had decided to continue using that name, half out of spite for Mary Lou Barebone than anything, making it the name of a witch – and Teddy, plus Rosie, for the rest of the summer until school, the DoM paying for their lodgings as well as two meals a day at breakfast and dinner for Harry and Credence and an additional lunch for Rosie.

Teddy’s formula, naturally, had been replaced with goat's milk at a shop a bit down the block from the bed and breakfast, and an account opened there – a bit of an outfitter’s place with plenty of odds and ends, limited groceries, and so on – for him by Isla who after that first day with having to pass him over to Jones, had taken him in hand personally.

Later Isla, Harry, and Credence were supposed to pick up Teddy from Rosie and go on a bit of a shopping trip so the pair of them have more than one spare outfit for the baby and the single set of clothes for Harry to get by on.

With a house elf nanny and a few toys for Teddy, plus all the catch-up Harry had to do, there wasn’t much else they needed – at least until it came time to do Harry’s school shopping.

Which led to what he was doing until then: studying.

More, studying for the practice OWLs he would be taking on basically every subject Isla though think to throw him into with what she knew from his paperwork of his education.

He’d been the one that thought going back to school was a good idea if they could accommodate Teddy.

He knew – there had been enough complaints about it from Malfoy and the like – that the education standards were vastly different between the pre-Dumbledore and Dumbledore eras at Hogwarts, including subjects that were removed from the offerings of the school, and a lot of books and reference materials removed from the library.

That being the case, and with him missing an entire year’s worth of education besides, retaking his sixth year and actually attending a seventh before attempting the NEWTs was just good sense.

The DoM was going to handle his tuition and supplies, as they were everything else, all he had to do was pass the OWLs.

Which might not seem like that big of a hurdle as he hadn’t done awful his first try at them back a couple years ago, but he’d never been that confident in his, well, academic abilities to begin with except in Defense…and with being able to start fresh with a new name and a new everything, he wasn’t certain that the thing he wanted to be known for now was being a skilled dualist or the top student in Defense.

That was the pride of the old Harry Potter.

Harry Peverell might want something else to take pride in, something that wasn’t, by its very nature, so violent and destructive as Defense, even if it was to defend others as well as himself.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Seven:

Aurelius Credence Peverell

Credence couldn’t stop running his fingers over the calligraphy, the like of which he’d never seen, not even in Ma’s best illuminated bible, ever since the letter had arrived that morning.

It read:

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

 

Headmaster: Phineas Nigellus Black

 

Dear Mr. Peverell:

 

 

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.  Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

 

Term begins 1 September, we await your acceptance owl no later than 31 July.

 

 

Yours Sincerely,

 

Armando Dippet

Deputy Headmaster

Head of House Ravenclaw

 

If he didn’t already trust Harry, at least a little, he’d think the whole thing was a mean joke.  He did though.  He knew better.  It had only been a couple days since Harry saved him, but he already knew that when Harry promised something, he followed through.  And he’d promised that the letter wasn’t a joke, shown him his own copy – though that had different wording the meaning was the same.  They were wizards, as if Credence could still doubt it after everything he’d seen in the last two days.  And he and Harry were going to magic school, with Teddy and Rosie coming along because Harry would never leave them behind.

Just like he’d never leave Credence behind.

No matter what.

He’d promised. 

The list of “necessary books and equipment” was even more of a gas, though in the standard typesetting he was used to seeing in newspapers and the like:

First-year students will require:

  • Uniform
    • Three Sets of Plain Work Robes (Black)
    • One Pair of Protective Gloves (dragon hide or similar)
    • One Winter Cloak (Black, silver fastenings)
    • Please note that all student's clothes should carry name-tags at all times.
  • Books
    • The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 1 by Miranda Goshawk Charms
  • The Burning Years: Magical History in Western Europe from Hogwarts to the Statute by Thomas Fleamont History of Magic
    • Beginner’s Guide to Transfiguration by Emeric Switch Transfiguration
    • Magical Drafts and Potions by Arsenius Jigger Potions
    • Charting the Skies by Lord Asterion Black Astronomy
    • Magical Theory by Adalbert Waffling Magical Theory
    • One Thousand Magical Herbs and Fungi by Phyllida Spore Herbology
    • Fundamentals of Magical Defense by Vindictus Viridian Defense
    • Culture: an Introduction to Wizarding Great Britain by The Wizarding Heritage Guild of Old Westminster Magical Culture
  • Other Equipment
    • 1 Wand or other foci, if needed
    • 1 Cauldron (pewter, standard size 2)
    • 1 set of glass or crystal phials
    • 1 telescope
    • 1 set of brass scales
  • If students wish to participate in extracurricular education opportunities in Art or Music, please see the required and suggested supplies lists available at Elemental Artist Supply (Horizont Alley, London or Hogsmeade) and Finnic’s Fine Instruments (Vertic Alley, London.)

Students may also bring a Familiar.  (Subject to approval if a species rated XXX or higher except in the case of Kneazles.)

Parents and guardians are kindly reminded that first-year students are not allowed their own broomsticks.

Sincerely,

Saundra Smith-Brown

Board of Education for the Ministry of Magic

Office of Supplies and Student Provisions

 

It was all so very…not what Credence thought – or been taught to think by his Ma – about magic.

It was just as fantastic and wonderful and amazing as he thought it might be in the story books he’d snuck out to read at the library rather than pass out pamphlets and fliers on the street corners like Ma would tell him to do – he couldn’t risk it every time but every now and again and he would and the places and people in the tales always seemed so much…more than everything he’d ever known.

It was also upset stomachs and feeling woozy and being stuck around strangers in a strange place.

It was also Harry, with his soft eyes – so bright and green, like nothing Credence had ever seen – that just seemed to know what hurt him without Credence ever having to say a word.

It was little baby Teddy with his hair that changed colors – so bright and beautiful all on its own, it couldn’t be evil, it just couldn’t – and his sweet giggles.

It was hot meals, warm baths, and warmer beds to sleep in and no dark closets ever – or so Harry promised.

Harry, who’d offered his hand, taken him away, and called him brother.

Who told him that Credence belonged.

That he had magic, and power, and a place where he finally fit.

Credence didn’t understand everything that was going on around him, didn’t know enough about magic or magical people to read the nuances, but he knew – he always knew – when a person was good no matter what Ma had said about sins and evil and punishment and damnation.

And Harry?

Harry was good.

All Credence had to do was just keep trusting him and taking his hand.

Morning of the Rescue:

Harry knew, even as he wrapped his magic around Credence and popped them across London to the magical district entrance next to The Fountain of Fair Fortune pub down the block from Blueblossom’s, that he had taken on a heavy charge and risked walking a dangerous line with Credence.

He knew, in a way no one else ever could, the sort of attachment and devotion that could – and likely would – arise from him swooping in to save Credence from his lifetime of abuse.

From telling Credence that he was special, that he had magic, and that he was worthy and belonged.

Oh yes, Harry knew.

It was the sort of situation where – if handled wrong, or right depending on how you looked at it – a child could be conditioned to view their savior as the ultimate of good beings.  Someone to be loved and venerated and obeyed.  Because they saved them.  So it followed that they had to be a good person…right?

Harry knew the situation all too personally to be unwary of the risks he was taking with Credence.

He’d seen the slavish devotion in Remus, he’d known it in himself – though he’d always been just a bit more rebellious than Remus had been as he didn’t have the weight of being a werewolf piled on top of everything else.

He knew what could happen in a way that few others coming into the situation ever would or could.

Children rescued from an abusive home – and not dropped right back into situations just as traumatizing – tended to look up and idolize their rescuers to at times insane degrees.

Forgiving them or excusing them things that they wouldn’t from another.

It was one of the reasons some pedophiles preferred to prey on abused children – along with the much slighter likelihood of being discovered or turned in by the child.

As he steadied Credence when he dry-heaved on landing outside of the entrance to Horizont Alley, he was already making plans on how to diminish the slavish devotion aspect of saving Credence without actually harming him or his chances for recovery.

It was risky.

He knew that.

But he hadn’t made the decision to try and change things to become another Dumbledore.

One of those was more than enough, even if Harry would be doing what he could to curtail Dumbledore’s influence and cut down his avenues of gaining power to direct things as he saw fit – and all for the greater good, of course.

Dumbledore might’ve parted ways with Grindelwald but he hadn’t turned over a new leaf – not really.

He’d just done an about face and changed tactics a bit, as if to make up for what he almost did by over-correcting and seeking to protect those his lover waned to subjugate.

No, Harry didn’t need a squad of devoted followers.

That wasn’t why he’d rescued Credence.

He just wanted a couple of kids who would have had short, shitty lives to heal and survive and grow.

It didn’t seem that much to ask or to attempt.

Even so, he foresaw Isla ringing a peel over his head in the morning for springing this on her.

But she was a professional and the Head Unspeakable, when it came to keeping what Harry had done secret, there was no one better.

In fact, he’d bet knuts to galleons that she won’t even ask but get on with the business of taking care of things.

After all, if she didn’t know anything she didn’t have to report anything.

Harry did appreciate the grey-zone practicalities of dealing with Unspeakables over the rigid mindset of the Aurors.

It made sense that the most powerful Ravenclaws and Slytherins made up the bulk of the Unspeakables while Gryffindors and Hufflepuffs tended to be sucked into the Auror Corps, given how the two professions tended to view things like rules and ethics.

“Feeling better, Credence?”  Harry asked softly once the younger wizard stopped heaving, but he didn’t stop with gently rubbing circles over the preteen’s back until the sturdy form – it looked like the Barebone woman could be accused of many things but at least Credence didn’t seem starved, and Harry knew what that looked like on a young boy better than most – straightened and stopped shuddering.

A timid nod and a flash of black eyes up at Harry from a ducked head was all the answer he got but that was just fine.

Credence was still sussing him out.

Harry expected it, after all he hadn’t stopped watching Hagrid’s massive fists for most of the time they were together after the half-giant had taken him from the Dursleys.

Credence needed to know that Harry wasn’t going to lash out at him, whip him with a belt or shove him and lock him into the dark.

He needed to know that he was safe.

Most of his experience of people close to him likely hadn’t been good.  He couldn’t know that being with Harry was the safest place in the world for any kid.  That he had a soft spot for kids a mile long and an even softer one for those who’d gone through hell and back and survived.

He’d learn.

In the meantime, all Harry could do was carry on with things and hope Isla didn’t completely throw a wobbly over Harry kidnapping himself a little brother.

“Most magical transportation can be uncomfortable, especially at first.”  He told the boy – who was starting to look around with darting glances from meekly lowered eyes.  It was late morning in London, the time difference showing in the little bits of traffic on the street and the bright summer sun in the sky.  “Some people never get used to it.  But if you want it to and have the power, your magic can cushion the effects for you with experience and exposure.”  Harry arched a knowing brow when that had the younger wizard’s head whipping up to stare at him.  “Now, watch,” he told him then looked around for muggle witnesses before casting a quick Notice-Me-Not on Credence – he couldn’t know how the adoption would change him so didn’t want people recalling him too clearly – then tapped the correct brick on the wall to open the passageway in the alley to Horizont.  “And welcome,” he ushered the boy in, Credence still holding onto his hand with a death-grip.  “To Horizont Alley, part of the London Magical District.”

That brought Credence, who’d been staring at the magical – and moving – fountain sign of the pub with awe and goggling at the animated window display at the tobacconist a few shops over, to a sharp halt.

“London?”  He whispered in disbelief.  He’d heard of London.  Ma didn’t hold with a lot of what the public school taught but knew it was the easiest way to keep the local busy-bodies from asking questions about what “that crazy fanatic” was teaching her adopted son.  Geography had only been one of the basic subjects he learned, along with reading, writing, arithmetic, and some history.

London was all the way across the Atlantic Ocean, two weeks or more by steam-ship.

That moment, though Harry didn’t know it then, was one of the most pivotal in convincing Credence not only that magic was a powerful force – his Ma had always said so along with a lot of other things – but that it could do amazing things, not just wicked or awful or sinful things as his Ma believed.

“London.”  Harry nodded firmly.  “Part of a land grant given by, oh –“ Harry tried to recall which king it was.  “I can never remember which king did what.”  He sighed.  “Anyway, a king back before the Statute of Secrecy in the 1600’s gave a land grant to the magical duke of London County at the time to build a magical village near the city.  Eventually the city grew and what has become the London Magical District was swallowed up inside of it, though hidden behind all kinds of wards and protective enchantments to keep it secret from the non-magical populace of the city.”

“Goll-ly,” Credence breathed, still looking at everyone and everything, noticing the archway out into the city had disappeared and that the sky was clearer and the air cleaner inside the Magic District than it had been on the docks or the street.  “Magic can do all that?”

“Magic can do most anything at all, Credence.”  Harry told him.  “All it takes is the knowledge and desire to make it happen, and magic can make it so.”

Credence pinned Harry with a suddenly firm gaze, resolve nearly dripping from every pore.

“Show me.”  It was nearly a demand, softened instantly by a lowering of that firm gaze, a sheepish blush, and a soft: “please,” likely as he remembered the manners literally beaten into him by his adoptive mother.

“I will show you what I can.”  Harry promised, then tugged his companion down the street.  “First, lets get you cleaned up.  There’s a lot to go over before tomorrow.”

“What happens tomorrow?”  Credence asked, nearly biting off his tongue a moment later.

He knew better than to ask questions.

As if reading his mind, and his fears, Harry shot him a soft look.

“Well,” he explained patiently.  “Tomorrow I have a meeting with a…friend of mine.  I’m going to ask her to make arrangements so you can stay with me and go to magical school – if those are things that you would like.”

“Yes.”  Credence blurted out, not even needing to take a second to think about it.  “Yes.”  He cleared his throat and looked away, blushing deep red.  “I’d like that, I think.”

He’d wanted to continue schooling, but once he learned to read and write to Ma’s satisfaction she’d pulled him out to help at the church full-time.

After that, any education he’d gotten had either been via the bible and other religious writings or what little he could manage on his sneaking trips to the public library in the center of the ward near the police station.

Magic school?  That was like every daydream he’d had about someone coming and taking him away.  Saving him.

“Alright then,” Harry led Credence into Blueblossom’s, keeping a wary eye out for the pleasant couple who ran it or their daughter, only coming to a stop outside the suite door.  “This is where I’m staying right now, probably until school starts.  Tomorrow we’ll take steps to make sure you can stay with me but for now no one will mind if you spend the night and clean up and get something to eat.”  At least, they won’t once Harry paid for the extra guest and meals from his coin pouch.  But Credence didn’t need to worry about that.  “My family is staying with me, which right now is my son Teddy, he’s only a baby, and his nanny-elf Rosie.”  Harry glanced between the door and the preteen.  “Rosie is a house elf, she’s going to look strange, but house elves are kind, caring, hard-working magical beings who serve a family.  Understand?”

“I think so.”  Credence frowned.  “What does she look like?”

“She looks like…well…”  Harry struggled with that.  After all, how did you describe a house elf to someone who’d never seen one before?  He decided that the basics would have to do, just to keep Credence from getting a nasty shock and his magic from acting out in response.  “Like a goblin or a gremlin from a fairytale, I suppose.”  He winced, already know that that isn’t likely a description inclined to make Credence comfortable.  “She has big blue eyes, a long pointed nose, floppy ears like a hound, and is only two feet tall with arms and legs that are rather spindly and long for her body.  She’s a young house elf, very sweet, and takes very good care of those of us of House Peverell, which if you like, we can discuss you joining officially.”

“Is that what you meant?”  Credence gathered his courage and asked.  “About being able to stay with you?”

“Yes.”  Harry told him, then pushed open the door without further ado.  “Yes, that’s exactly what I meant.”

Credence meeting Rosie went about as well as Harry could realistically hope for.

Meaning, he was startled, cautious, but not overly fearful of the strange creature Harry had introduced him to as “part of House Peverell, so take good care of him won’t you Rosie?”

Conversely, Credence was already wrapped around Teddy’s tiny fingers starting from the moment he’d opened his big eyes, cooed up at this newest person to dazzle with his cuteness, and switched his hair and eyes to match the pitch-black of Credence’s own.

It was the first truly pure use and expression of magic Credence had ever seen, and he was enraptured with the baby from then on though still too timid and wary of hurting the little one to want to hold him.

Some might’ve considered it dirty Quidditch, using an omega baby to soothe and calm a burgeoning alpha preteen, playing on Credence’s instincts to bring him tighter into the fold of Harry’s little family, but Harry never had been one to necessarily play fair when the situation at hand was one that actually mattered to him.

He hadn’t known before opening up that locked door in New York City that Credence Barebone was an alpha, it wasn’t one of the things mentioned in Skeeter’s book or any of the articles he’d ready about the rise of Grindelwald.  But he wasn’t surprised either.  Beta witches and wizards could be powerful, Hermione had been proof enough of that, as had Severus Snape, but while a stereotype that alphas were the powerhouses of magical fighters it wasn’t exactly a wrongful stereotype either.

Omegas could be and were powerful, especially males, but while they could be moved to extreme examples of wrathful ire in protective magics, it was honestly rare that they subscribed to a hex first, defend afterward philosophy common in alpha dualists, aurors, and hit wizards.

If omegas were the homefront and the last line of protection for their families and people, alpha were the front lines and first line of defense and often were correspondingly powerful.

It was a pairing of magic and instincts that made even completely unsuited alphas and omegas for romance or offspring effected by their instincts regarding the other dynamic, especially when they were young and just beginning to have to deal with the hormones and instincts that held such sway over them.

Credence, by simple virtue of his dynamic, was naturally inclined to trust Harry as an omega who had taken charge of caring over him and likewise drawn to coddling and protecting Teddy as a baby omega.

He would be just as protective over any young child, but Teddy being omega added just that smidge of extra oomph to his instincts, especially as his nose and eyes could clearly tell there was no adult or even young adult who’d claimed them as part of their family unit.

To Credence’s alpha hindbrain, Harry and Teddy were vulnerable omegas who needed him – an alpha – to keep them safe.

It was heady hormonal shit that was being dumped into Credence’s developing head, Harry knew, but considering what had happened had Harry not taken the chance on rescuing him, there was little he could do but let it play out.

Channeling all that power he could nearly taste on Credence into protective instincts was certainly a step up from the destructive rage it would’ve manifested as otherwise.

Harry would probably feel bad, manipulating the kid in this way, if Credence hadn’t looked so damn happy when Teddy flashed his hair bright aqua blue when the preteen had returned from a hot bath and the baby had spotted him.

“First things first,” Harry declared as Teddy went down for his nap and Rosie swooped into the attached bathroom to clean – and mend if necessary – Credence’s clothes.

The boy himself was wrapped up in a fluffy toweling sheet, the ones provided by the Blueblossoms so large and soft that Harry couldn’t blame the kid for being reluctant to finish drying off and changing back into his clothes – not that he could at the moment with Rosie taking care of them, but still.

“Healing.”  He nodded, more thinking out loud than to Credence.  Flicking his wrist he had his wand, ushering Credence to sit on the edge of the closest bed in the large room, holding out his hand and curling his fingers in a wordless beckoning gesture.  He’d already seen the welts and bruises on Credence’s hands and knew that was probably the best place to start.

If Credence was anything like Harry he might try and hide his pain and wounds, been conditioned to do so or just think about them as normal punishment – and, granted, in the early 20th century canings and paddlings weren’t uncommon as punishment but leaving scars was a different matter.

No, starting with his hands was likely best, since it didn’t require trusting Harry at his back.

“Let me see Credence.”  He kept his voice soft and soothing, the same as he’d tried to do ever since he’d found him in that closet at the church.  “I won’t hurt you, I promise.  I just want to help you heal.”

“With magic?”  Credence checked, voice a bit wobbly.

“With magic.”  Harry nodded.  “Some of the best magic there is.  The kind that only helps and never hurts.”

Credence nearly chewed his lips to pieces as he thought it over, Harry waiting there crouched patiently on his knees for long moments before eventually the younger wizard tucked the edges of the towel under his arms to hold it to him and showed Harry his palms.

They were a mess to say the least, and made Harry regret – much like when he’d seen Credence stuffed in that tiny dark space – that he couldn't afford the time and risk involved in cursing Mary Lou Barebone into nothing but dust and blood splatter.  Bruises and scars crisscrossed his palms and fingers, the scarring both old and silvered and fresh red lines.  Honestly, the only reason Harry could think that Credence still had use of his hands without pain or deformity was because of his magic healing him – at least to a point.

He couldn’t do much for the scars.

A specialty potion balm or salve would be needed for those.

But the bruising and any lingering damage he could more than handle, another instance of a skill he’d picked up with nobody any the wiser.

“Vulnera sanentur, vulnera sanentur.”  He singsonged the powerful healing charm and counter-curse invented by Severus Snape.  Harry wasn’t about to run around claiming credit for spells and inventions created by others, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t going to use what he already knew even if he never passed it down to someone else – at least until the time came that those inventors were either born – or they weren’t due to his meddling.

Credence watched with bated breath and wide eyes as under the swirling circles of Harry’s wand the bruising – and little did he know it but other damage to his hands from the abuse – lightened and then disappeared entirely from his skin, the young wizard instantly feeling relief from the ever-present nagging pain of his chastisement and Mary Lou’s wrath.

“There,” Harry lowered his wand when there was nothing left to mar the surface of Credence’s hands but the scarring.  And that would be handled by a salve or he would use what he knew from the future to cobble together one of the twin’s creations, since he knew their work better than anything else.  “All better.”

Harry didn’t try to keep hold of Credence’s hands as the younger wizard pulled them back in awe, turning them this way and that and flexing them in wonder.

“Now.”  Harry watched him steadily.  “Is there anywhere else you’d like me to look at before Rosie finishes with your clothes and we cut your hair and get dressed?”

That ungodly-ugly bowl cut monstrosity had to go.

Even a simple even-length close-crop like those he’d watched Molly give her sons – except for Bill who always evaded her with the ease of a wizard used to dodging ancient curses – every summer would be more flattering and that was coming from a wizard who before the DoM had gotten their hands on him had constantly looked like he had some wild creature nesting on his head.

As it turns out he did, Harry making as quick of work on the welts Credence bore on his back and behind as he’d done the ones on his hands, making another mental note of things to discuss with the Barebone bitch he if ever had the chance, then Credence trembled a bit with anxiety as Harry used his wand and the haircutting spell he’d picked up from Molly – intentionally this time, Molly had done more than a little to mother him and teach him the same personal and house care spells as she’d done for her own motley crew of children – to give him an even trim, hanks of deep black hair falling to the floor at their feet.

If Harry showed off a bit – on a hunch – by gathering that hair and transifiguring it into a simple glass ball he then spelled with a basic soft lumos in a dim golden glow, gifting it to Credence to use as a nightlight for “Teddy” that was between him and the knowing – if shocked and wondering – look in Credence’s eyes said he very well knew it was really for him…he just had a hard time believing it.

“The spell is called lumos.”  Harry explained after he’d given the glowing ball – not much larger than a snitch – to the younger wizard.  “Normally it’s used to light the end of a wand or make a glowing ball in the air out of magic, but I’ve anchored this one to the glass.  You can turn it off by tapping it and saying nox, but you have to believe that it’ll turn it off.”

Alright, so Harry was leading Credence into a simple flex of his wandless abilities.  Something innocent and harmless.  Sue him.

Credence looked anxious again, but eventually he tried it – and to his shock, but Harry’s absolute unsurprise, it worked like, well, a charm.

“Excellent Credence.”  Harry smiled finally, the first he’d directed towards the boy, comfortable now after a few hours’ acquaintance that the boy shouldn’t be too wary of one directed his way after seeing Harry smile at Teddy and Rosie.  Now that they’d started building trust.  “Now, that cancelled the charm.  Nox is the counter-charm to lumos, but it can also be used to turn off any light you direct it at.  To bring back the light, all you have to do is tap the ball again, think about the color and intensity of light you’d like, and say the incantation: lumos.”

He did, it worked copying Harry’s earlier example perfectly, and Harry held in a vicious smirk.

Take that centuries of Obscurial bullshit.

Uncontrollable magical parasite his peachy ass.

A bit of kindness, some structure, and Credence was going to be one hell of a powerful wizard.

They spent all afternoon and evening in their room at the boarding house, Rosie popping down with a few coins from Harry’s pouch to purchase lunches for the pair at the nearest café, then again to the kitchen for an extra dinner plate when the time came, Credence getting more and more comfortable with the house elf the longer she was around and taking care of Teddy.

Harry had been lucky, he’d gotten Credence while he still had the easy adaptability of a kid.

Some of what he was trying to teach the young wizard right off the bat wouldn’t have gone over nearly so well with an adult – or even late teenaged – Credence.

He still had hope.

His imagination hadn’t been snuffed out yet.

It helped that being an abused kid himself, Harry had a better idea than most exactly what Credence was going through and what he needed.

Enough at least to get him in the ballpark if not always bang-on the mark since their experiences were while similar still very different.

After Teddy had been bedded down for the night, Harry turned and sat facing Credence on the wider of the two beds in the room.  He’d be sharing with him for the night, Rosie still on the smaller of the pair.  But that was fine.  Sharing for one night wouldn’t hurt either of them and the bed was more than large enough for them.

The two of them faced each other, Credence absently playing with the ball Harry had given him, taking his rescuer’s suggestion to play with the brightness and colors of the light and running with it, a task that hadn’t grown old even as he’d done it – both intentionally and absently – all the while Harry had taught him a bit about magic and wizarding kind.

It really had been mostly basics.

Magic was from nature: earth and wind and water.  It was in the plants and animals, in the lightning that sparked a forest fire and the rainstorm that put it out.  It was a part of all things, even muggles, and affected all things.

Muggles were non-magical people, like the Barebone bitch – though he didn’t call her that – and were distrusted by most magical people because of people like the Barebone bitch who wanted to hurt them.

That there were magical creatures of all kinds, that magical people lived in every country all over the world, in muggle cities and magical villages.

That some people could do magic without wands just like some people couldn’t use wands at all but still had magic for other things.

(Harry’s very real issues with how squibs were treated was so on his list, but he needed his wizarding qualifications in hand before he started kicking over anthills.)

About dynamics and soulmates – which had gotten him a bit of a shocked/elated/calculating look that had him thinking Credence had a soulmark somewhere he hadn’t seen – and the very basics of what that meant for Credence.

Harry had given, as best he could considering his own considerable gaps regarding the current culture, an overview of what it meant to be magical to Credence.

Which led to a very important question.

“Do you think you still want to stay, now that I’ve told you all I’ve told you?”  Harry asked again.  The thing he feared most with Credence wasn’t the other boy losing control but that Harry pushed and prodded and manipulated him into making decisions he otherwise wouldn’t have made.  “It’s not all lumos charms and color-changing hair.  It’s bad people doing bad things to hurt others and curses that drive people mad.  It’s light and dark and grey, all tangled up in a big ball of life and people and creatures and places that you could live a thousand years and maybe not know all of it and get it all straight.”

“I want to stay Harry.”  Credence told him, his voice quiet to keep from waking Teddy but determined.  “I want to be part of this.  Part of a magical family.  Your magical family.”

“Well then,” Harry said after clearing his throat and blinking quietly to dispel the dust mote that must’ve gotten caught in his eye.  “I think you’ll make an excellent younger brother, Credence.”  He pursed his lips, tilting his head to the side in thought.  “Your father is somewhere outside of England I’m pretty sure…and that family is a powerful one if very diminished.  Do you think being my half-brother, sharing my mother, would work for you?”

You know who my father is?”  Credence’s eyes shot as wide as dinner plates at that.

Harry’s face was the picture of sheepishness as he scrubbed one hand at the back of his head.

“Um, yes?”  He winced.  “I guess I forgot to mention that part.  Look,” he sighed, wincing again at the eager-shocked-taken-aback expression Credence was wearing plain as day.  “Right now no one knows about you except me.  You have an uncle, a great-great-aunt, and a father.  I don’t know how you came to be in New York City but I know you were born in London.  Your father,” shit, how the hell was Harry going to explain the mess that was the Dumbledore family?  “Some bad things happened between him and his older brother.  He was angry – is angry – for a long time as a result.  Angry and bitter.  He’s not a nice man but he is a good one if that makes any sense at all and if he’d known about you he would’ve come for you, or maybe his brother would’ve, it’s hard to say with him.”

“Who are they?”  Credence asked, leaning forward.  “What was my name?  I know Ma named me Credence.  She said my mother was a wicked, sinful woman who died for the sin of bearing me…”

Harry snorted, his ability to be circumspect around the subject of the Barebone bitch waning the more he learned firsthand instead of out of a lurid tell-all or a dry history text.

“Your name, as much as I know of it anyway, was Aurelius but I don’t know if your mother gave you your father’s last name or what her name even was.  The only reason I knew about you was because of some old case files I was looking through at the Department of Mysteries.”

“What’s that?”  Credence was side-tracked but only for a moment.  If Harry tried to diverge too long he’d get the sometimes scatterbrained wizard back on track.

“A department that researches various secretive things at the Ministry of Magic for Great Britain.”  He explained, having already gone over that magical folk had a governance system earlier in the day.  “I’m working with them this summer because of some problems with my family and needing to move.  They’re the ones who’re going to facilitate your move and adoption into my family if you agree.  Anyway.”  He caught the look in Credence’s eyes and stopped that tangent.  “Aberforth Dumbledore is the name of the wizard who sired you.  His brother Albus is a professor at Hogwarts, the magical school that takes students from Great Britain and Ireland for the most part.  Their sister died in 1899 and they’ve not spoken since her funeral.”

“That’s why they’re fighting and my father is angry and bitter isn’t it?”  Credence asked with a child’s clear-eyed perception.  “Over the sister they lost?”

“That’s certainly part of it.”  Harry blew out a breath, nodding his head.  “Most of this was known at one point, a bit of a scandal at the time, but has mostly faded as Albus is quietly teaching at Hogwarts and Aberforth left around the time you were sired to compete on the dueling circuit on the continent.”  Harry thought a moment then added: “though I know he was in the Far East at one point.”

“If they know about me they can take me away from you, can’t they?”  Credence knew enough about adoption and fostering to know that much.  “That’s why you want to adopt me tomorrow, right?”

“Basically.”  Harry sighed.  “I have my issues with Albus and I honestly don’t know if I would trust Aberforth to parent a child, even only on school holidays.  I just don’t know enough about him to say.  But if you’re my half-brother and I officially have custody they’d have to take me to court – the Lords’ Moot or Wizengamot, depending – and try and have it rescinded and transferred to one of them.”  He smirked a little, to Credence’s puzzlement.

He simply didn’t have the context – yet – to understand why that would be one hell of a hard row to hoe for either Dumbledore, even Aberforth as Credence’s biological father, now that Harry has been confirmed by both the Ministry and Gringotts as Lord Peverell.

“No.”  Credence shook his dark head firmly.  “I want to stay with Teddy and you and Rosie.”

Well, Harry held in a chuckle, that let him know how he was doing in building a bond with Credence: somewhere after the adorable baby but before the house elf.

Could be worse.

“Okay then, tomorrow I’ll ask Isla and we’ll make it official but:” he held out his hand like he would greet another of similar rank.  “Welcome to House Peverell, my brother by my mother, Aurelius Credence Peverell.”

“Aurelius Credence?”  Credence asked, head cocked a bit to the side in question, getting another sheepish chuckle and a shrug from his new older brother.

“I did, technically speaking, kidnap you.”  He reminded the younger wizard.  “Which we should definitely keep as a secret just between us.  If anyone from New York’s magical community is looking for a boy taken from that church via portkey they’re looking for a Credence, not an Aurelius.”

“Aurelius.”  Credence murmured it softly under his breath as he took the wordless cue of Harry rising and stripping down to his underwear to do the same, the two climbing into opposite sides of the bed and tucking in while Credence thought the matter over.  “Aurelius Credence.”

“Has a nice sound to it, doesn’t it?”  Harry offered sleepily.

He didn’t see it, but he felt the nod from his new little brother.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Eight:

Feathery Menaces

Monday, June 25, 1913; Vertic Alley

“I still can’t believe you did this, Harry.”  Isla noted calmly as she and Harry walked a pace behind Credence – who had commandeered Teddy in his sling – and Rosie who was going to be getting some fabric to make more pinafores for herself per a sudden brainstorm on the part of Isla’s frustrating, time-travelling charge.

This, maybe.”  Harry agreed easily enough with that.  With his age, him running around adopting people probably wasn’t the first thing most would think he’d do with the knowledge and abilities he has.  “But you knew I was going to do something, and as I clearly still have use of my magic, I didn’t violate the best interests of the wizarding world in doing it so…”

Isla made a snarling sound deep in her throat, abruptly reminding him that married and disinherited or not, she was very much still a Black witch and therefore not to be crossed, and he moved to placate her – as he’d been doing in turns with frustrating her all that day since he arrived with Credence in tow.

It was an interesting relationship they were developing, that was certain, and one that was giving Jones fits as the younger Unspeakable watched it play out.

Getting the adoption taken care of and a healer’s workup had gone about as Harry had expected: with a lot of side-eying from Isla and Jones, plus the sudden dumping of a much more intense introduction to current wizarding culture onto his head, including several thick tomes for him to read, review, and be prepared to be quizzed on by the end of the week.

But, hey, they weren’t refusing or trying to make him do something like write lines with a blood quill so he’d take his punishment and carry on.

It wasn’t like it wasn’t information he’d need anyway.

If he was going to be breaking laws right-and-left – aside from the obvious ones anyway – knowing which laws he was breaking and how was actually valuable information to have.

Though as he now had a pair of dependents – something he really started to keep in mind considering how he spent the previous twenty-four hours – plus a house elf, he imagined that law-breaking and his rather legendary-in-his-previous-time disregard for rules would have to take a back seat lest he leave them in an even worse situation than they were previously.

Well…not entirely.

Credence would inherit everything entailed to the Peverell bloodline as Harry’s blood-adopted half-brother and Teddy would get everything else as his legally-adopted son, so they’d have money, property, and each other plus Rosie to look after them but he knew enough about grief and loss to know that that wouldn’t mean shit to them, even Credence with as new as their relationship was.

He sighed.

“It’s not going to happen again.”  He promised, then thought and amended that statement.  “At least until I have my NEWTs and am a fully qualified wizard.”

Isla snorted softly.  With what she knew of his background, she supposed that was the best she could ask from him.

“I sent a letter to my old friend in South Dakota, explaining that his gift will be of great use to his two grandsons.”  She let him know.  It was one of the strings attached to her old friend letting her have a sample of his blood in the first place.  That he be informed if it was ever used for any reason.  “Depending on how things are over there, he may wish to meet you, even train the two of you in the magics of his people.”

For all that they didn’t come by their new heritage naturally, by law and magic they were now of her old friend’s blood.

His heirs, in a sense, as from what she knew about him he’d never had children of his own.

Too busy, like many great magicals in troubled times, leading and caring for his people to court and woo and wed a spouse as he hadn’t been gifted by magic with a soulmark.

“Next summer, perhaps.”  Harry agreed, knowing enough about magic and blood adoptions to have been aware of the unvoiced but still very real consequences such things could come with.  It was why he’d adopted Credence as his half-brother instead of a full-sibling.  The Dumbledore heritage might be considered distinctly working-class by snottier purebloods, especially with Kendra being muggleborn, but it was still one of ancient ties and weight.

If they’d done an inheritance test, they would’ve known who Credence’s mother had been, whether there was a heritage there he should’ve kept hold of, but there was a certain undercurrent of plausible deniability with the Time Traveler exemptions to a lot of laws that he didn’t want to mess with.

As long as Isla and Jones – and Grythorn who’d once more been summoned to take care of Credence’s paperwork – hadn’t known that Credence had living family they were under no onus to inform his living family.

It was the sort of legal loophole that Lucius Malfoy had been so very skilled at manipulating.

Harry did like to learn from the best wherever possible.

“I’ll let him know.”  Isla concurred, then they dropped any topic of controversial conversation as they followed Rosie – and Credence with Teddy – into the wizarding craft supply store that stocked fabrics, Harry encouraging her to pick whatever she wanted, and Credence drawn – almost against his own druthers – towards the thick stacks of drawing paper and charcoals.

How adaptable kids were up until their mid-to-late teens (depending on the kid) never failed to impress Harry.

Every year, dozens – or maybe hundreds – of kids all over the planet were introduced to magic for the first time and with a few rare exceptions, accepted the knowledge and hit the ground running right into the magical world.

Credence, despite some very real hang-ups curtesy of his former adoptive mother, was just the same.

It would take years – if not all his life – to heal from his childhood.

Those types of scars tended to linger, especially if they weren’t lanced and the poison drained to heal clean.

Harry should know.

Abuse turned him into a martyr and Tom into a monster.

He wouldn’t let it ruin Credence if he could help it.

Jones had prescribed and purchased a regimen of scar-remover salves and a potion to go into his bath, nutrient and vitamin potions would correct the minor issues of malnutrition common to muggles during this era, and already given him a broad-spectrum vaccination potion against common wizarding illnesses and those from the muggle world that they were sometimes susceptible to.

Physically between Jones, Rosie, and the healthcare and nutrition offered at Hogwarts, Credence will be as healthy as they could make him short of taking extreme steps such as the aging process Harry underwent.

With no curse damage and only scars that could be healed with magic, putting Credence though that hadn’t seemed necessary.

The blood-adoption ritual had been a significant enough light and power show on its own without the addition of another – just as invasive – healing ritual to go with it.

Credence had been altered less than Harry had been by the ritual, already taking largely after the Dumbledore side of the family – being quite handsome already at only eleven and sure to stay that way if the picture of a young Albus had been any sign – with a darkening of his skin tone similar to Harry’s and a bit of a straightening of his nose being the only things he noted to have changed under the thin layer of baby fat the other boy still possessed.

Time wouldn’t tell with Credence as it would with Harry as best as he could remember, he’d never seen a picture of what Credence Barebone had actually looked like attached to all the reports surrounding him.

Just descriptions of a young, handsome man with a meek demeanor and dark hair and eyes.

That was all the notice he’d gotten, all the care he’d been given by the wizarding world as an Obscurial.

They had a lot of work to do – both with Credence himself and laws pertaining to children – but Harry believed they would get there.

He had to believe they would get there.

Taking care of Credence, however, came second only to Teddy and far ahead of Harry’s ambitions to change the future.

He wasn’t going to sacrifice doing the best he could for Credence in preference to try and protect children who weren’t even born yet.  He wasn’t an idiot.  He wasn’t naïve.  He knew he wasn’t going to eradicate child abuse in the wizarding world – whether to children in the hands of muggles or by other magical people it didn’t matter.

What he could do was push forward legislation earlier meant to help decrease the likelihood of a magical child being abused.

In the meantime, he had two children of his own – after a fashion – to take care of and he would do so to the best of his ability.

If nothing else he had a damn good idea of what not to do from the Dursleys and an excellent idea of what loving mothering looked like from Molly Weasley – even if he had zero intention of mirroring some of her more overbearing or controlling behaviors.

To start with, he had an eleven-year-old who was eyeing up the art supplies like they were the most amazing creation in the world who he thought should have some art supplies of his very own.

Though he had a feeling if he bought Credence everything he looked at that way they’d quickly run out of room at their boarding house – moved from the second-biggest to the biggest suite Blueblossom’s had or not – even with shrinking charms.

A look from Isla – one that was far too knowing – had Harry rolling his own.

Credence could do with some spoiling.

And it was some drawing paper, charcoal, and pastels, not a damn hippogriff or a racing broom.

Credence clutched his bag of shrunken-down art supplies to his chest, Teddy gumming at a corner of the bag, as he followed Harry and Madam Isla – as he’d been asked to address her – along the street and into their next stop.

Rosie had popped back off to the boarding house, apparently to move their things into a new room with a bed for Credence, and to get started on her new dresses while they did the rest of their shopping.

He’d watched with eyes that felt like they’d never shrink back down to their right size as Harry had shrunk the stack of art supplies – more of the wonderful things he used to watch street artists use to make their living than he’d ever seen in one place, everything from pads of thick paper to utensils of various kinds to paints and pastels and more – after Madam Isla had “authorized”, a word he hadn’t heard before but that Harry explained meant giving official permission, the purchase.

Credence didn’t know why – entirely – Madam Isla and the Department of Mysteries was paying for everything for him and Harry and Teddy but he thought that it had something to do with Harry from the explanation he’d been given, very briefly, the day before by his new brother.

Precisely, he thought it had to do with why Harry was in England in the first place, but he wasn’t certain.

Something about the situation – including why Harry came to save him – stank to him of secrets between Harry and Madam Isla.

That was fine.

Secrets, as Credence had learned the hard way, could be good things – like that the baker three blocks over from the church handing out leftover cookies and rolls and such to him and any orphans who came seeking after closing – while others could be awful, like Credence’s father being alive and well all these years.

Maybe if his mother – whoever she’d been – had told someone who he was, his father – or his uncle – might’ve come for him like Harry seemed to think they would’ve done.

His feelings, especially given Harry’s revelations, regarding his mother were very much a mixed, tangled up thing.

Harry offering to share his mother with him hadn’t been a difficult thing at all for Credence to take him up on.

He’d told him little things about her while they waited for the magic ritual to be ready to make Credence a real Peverell instead of just one in name like the goblin – and hadn’t that person been frightful indeed, Rosie was much less scary after meeting Master Grythorn – had handled.

That Credence’s new mother was still dead and gone but that she’d loved her son, Harry.

That she’d stood between a wicked wizard and not let him hurt him.

That she’d loved him and that Harry was certain she would’ve loved Credence too.

That she was smart, and brave, and beautiful with red hair and green eyes – green like Harry’s.

Not wicked or sinful or anything Ma had always said Credence’s mother was, or a woman Harry didn’t even know the name of, someone who’d died and taken the truth of his father to her grave.

Harry had shared his mother with Credence, a wonderful, kind witch.

Lily wasn’t perfect, Harry had made that clear.

She held grudges, was stubborn, and could be a bit of a show-off.

She was still the greatest gift anyone ever could’ve given him.

Frowning lightly at instructions from Harry while Madam Isla was greeting the proprietor of their next stop – a simple place with pale wood and white trim, not much more than a desk and a bench for customers to wait – where they said he’d be getting his own wand, Credence handed over his art supplies for Harry to hold and helped him resettle Teddy in Harry’s arms.

The baby fussed at moving from what was quickly becoming his favorite place in the sling on Credence, but a soothing murmur from the preteen had him handled and Harry nudging Credence over towards the stern-looking witch waiting by the desk, crossing paths with Madam Isla who went to join Harry on the waiting bench.

Though, before the proprietress – a wandmaker, Harry had told him – could greet him, a sudden – and loud – trill of birdsong filled the shop and a flame sparked in midair swiftly coalescing into the most vibrantly colored bird – if the oddest – Credence had ever seen in his life.

After a day, a night, and then into the next evening filled with magic of all kinds, he managed not to startle – though he did jump in surprise when the bird decided to alight on his shoulder, still singing and trilling its heart out in a song so uplifting and joyous it brought a tear to Credence’s eye.

The bird felt a bit heavy for its size to Credence, though it was a large bird indeed, with a long trailing tail in the same dark reds and bright silvers as its plumage, including its feathered crest on its head, and had bright golden eyes.

That didn’t change the fact that he didn’t have the foggiest idea of what it was, beyond clearly magical.

The fiery flight rather gave it away if the mood-bending song didn’t, even for someone as new to actual expressions of magic and not just stories – whether to enthrall or terrify – of it.

While Credence was studying – and being studied in turn – his new friend, Isla let out a filthy curse at the arched brow from Mercuria and the smirk on her troublesome wards face as the sickle dropped on just who she’d helped adopted into the Peverell family.

“Is he…?”  She didn’t finish the damning sentence but then she didn’t need to.

Harry was far too familiar with a certain powerful someone from his own accounts and admission to play dumb.

“No, not his.”  He told her, which was certainly a relief – if only barely.

What she’d worried over – for a split second – regarding an infamously powerful, if seemingly humble, wizard who preferred the company of other wizards was instantly assuaged though the alternative wasn’t much better.

Still.

Aberforth Dumbledore having a child out of bonding or wedlock was much preferable over his brother having a child with his soulmate – or worse for the child, not having a child with his soulmate as what said-soulmate would’ve done to that poor child in revenge for the betrayal didn’t bear thinking of.

“I have no idea of who Aurelius’s mother was,” Harry enlightened her, just a little, to the underlying situation.  “Or why she never contacted the father – or his family – of her child.  Just that he was placed for adoption as an orphan in New York City some months after his birth and thereafter abused by his adoptive mother.  I won’t keep his father from him,” Harry had promised after all.  “But contacting him is up to Aurelius and not me or anyone else.”

The old harpies of society would argue with that idea – fiercely in fact – Isla thought but she wasn’t going to be the one to tell them, or anyone, of who Aurelius Peverell was related to on his father’s side.

Though the phoenix familiar was rather a giveaway.

“Who’s your friend, Credence?”  Harry asked, stepping forward and breaking a bit of the tableau that had formed.  It wasn’t Fawkes, he knew that much.  Coloring aside, he would’ve known Fawkes on sight.

From what he understood, Fawkes had bonded with Dumbledore not long after the whole Ariana-Grindelwald tragedy, though Aberforth didn’t find his friend and familiar – whose name Harry had never heard – until he wandered his way into China either on the dueling circuit or trying to lose himself in the wilds there a few years later.

Credence cocked his head, listening a bit to the trills of his – as Harry said – new friend, then said: “Serenity.  Her name is Serenity.”

“That’s…quite the powerful familiar you have there, young Master Peverell.”  Mercuria shared a look with both Isla and Master Peverell the elder.  Oh the intrigues her old friend Isla was tangled up in with these young wizards.  How exciting.  Something had needed to shake up her dull life of paperwork at the DoM since she’d turned Head Unspeakable and force her to kick off the dust her near-retirement from the field had caused to gather in her brain.  “A fully-grown phoenix, those are quite particular in who they choose to befriend.”

Harry rolled his eyes at the tone of knowing that Madam Mercuria was using that flew right over Credence’s head.

Yes, yes.

Everyone was going to know that the Dumbledores had a new addition because of Credence’s new addition.

They’d handle it.

And with ensuring Credence was properly adopted in and everything there wasn’t much anyone could actually do about it now.

Another trilling cry, then Serenity reached down with her sharp, scythe-shaped beak, extending her long elegant neck and plucked a single glimmering tail feather rich with reds and not a smidge of silver then held it out to Credence expectantly, the young wizard reaching up with caution – that beak was terribly fierce looking for an herbivore – and taking the offered tailfeather.

“Well.”  Mercuria clapped her hands, a funny smile on her face.  “Looks like Ms. Serenity has taken care of young Master Peverell’s wand core.  Shall we see what wood we can find to pair with it?”

“Let’s.”  Harry spurred her on, the wandmaker sitting down and eyeing the feather still in Credence’s hand as Harry turned to address his brother.  “Phoenixes can travel great distances in an instant and are frightfully intelligent.  If you ask Serenity to wait for us in our rooms, we can do our shopping quicker than otherwise and then return there so you can bond.”

Seeing the sense in such a proposition – if not the flurry he was going to cause with his new friend and familiar – Credence did as Harry suggested and Serenity gave one last, lingering trill then leapt nimbly into the air, catching fire a moment later and disappearing.

“Wow.”  Credence blinked.  “That’s…”

“Yep.”  Harry sighed in agreement.  “Phoenixes.”  Then he nodded meaningfully towards the customer’s chair at the wand consultation desk, waiting for Credence to sit, then went back to discuss how to manage public perception over the latest left-turn his life had just taken with Isla.

Bloody showy phoenixes.

Almost more trouble than they were worth sometimes.

Harry couldn’t be truly upset however.

With a phoenix for a companion, Credence remaining calm and in control of his magic would be much easier to manage, though he didn’t like the idea of leaning on the properties of phoenix-song too much.

Credence had to learn to manage his magic and issues on his own – eventually.

For now, he couldn’t see the harm in Serenity’s arrival given the Dumbledore family legend of a phoenix appearing to them in times of need.

Apparently to Serenity the time of need she needed to appear for was Credence getting his wand and entering the wizarding world.

Credence had handed over Serenity’s freely given and offered tail feather – rather presumptuously given and insistently offered, if you asked Harry – with visible reluctance to the wandmaker though it hadn’t taken him long with her guidance to match it, and his power, with a length of pleasantly flexible willow wood and they’d been ushered out of the shop following the regular culminations of a visit (blood collected, invoice gathered, contract signed) and on their way while the wand was actually crafted.

If giving over the feather to be matched was a bit of a struggle, needless to say Credence wasn’t thrilled at leaving it in Madam Blackwood’s care to be crafted and melded into a usable wand, though the contract – and both Harry and Madam Isla’s assurances – had managed to get him out of the shop without a meltdown.

Something stress-free and pleasant and been in order, Harry easily reading Credence’s clingier-than-normal hugging of a given-back and sleeping Teddy as sure signs of stress, and he’d prompted Isla towards a quiet restaurant for tea rather than continuing on to their next stop, which was supposed to be getting everyone – from Harry on down to Teddy – outfitted with a decent wardrobe.

Tea – including biscuits and scones – was had, nerves were calmed and/or braced, and Credence was back to his enjoyment and wonder at all magic could do (floating and self-pouring teapots and self-stirring cups were always a hit) in short order and on they went to Gladrags.

It wasn’t the bog-standard attire to be found at Madam Malkin’s on Diagon Alley or the richness of master tailoring at Twilfitt and Tatting, but for younger wizards and witches Gladrags was just the ticket.

That they had a decent baby apparel selection which would help cut down their stops was just icing on the cake as neither of the wizards in Isla’s charge were all that keen on shopping for one reason or another, despite Credence at least being excited to own all new things after a word from Harry dispelled any worries over things like greedy and gluttony.

Harry had a feeling he’d be battling the specter of Mary Lou Barebone for a long time.

That was perfectly okay with him.

It wasn’t the first time he’d had to defeat a specter after all, and for all her insidious evil, the Barebone bitch wasn’t a Dark Lord.

Though in many ways, it could be argued, she was worse.

Each of the young wizards took their turns on the seamstress’s podium, measuring tapes flying and things being thrust at them to try on while Teddy was minded by Isla, who took the time to pick out the standard necessities for the baby while leaving anything more personal (like the frankly adorable hooded onesie they owned and had caused a stir with at the picnic) for Harry and Credence to choose for the little one.

Credence, when encouraged to take part in the selection process, was drawn to blues and dark reds, both of which thankfully complemented his features, though Isla despaired over Harry.

Left to his own devices, he would’ve been perfectly content with a dozen of the exact same robes in black or dark grey, and plain shirts and trousers in the same with a bit of white in the shirts for a change.

She supposed that the monochromatic color scheme made getting dressed easy with no danger of mixing the wrong colors together, but no one connected to House Black – and like it or not Harry was through his connection to her and his “cousin” Charlus’s engagement to her relation Dorea – would have such a limited range of options, especially as certain events were such that black or dark grey were not appropriate for an unmated/married omega to wear.

Like the wedding of the aforementioned Charlus and Dorea taking place next month.

A wedding that by the time Isla was done with Harry Peverell he most certainly would be invited to attend, and his son and younger brother with him.

Ensuring that they all had proper robes for the event – though they didn’t yet know it – was easy enough as the DoM was footing the bill, then they were able to make a much-quicker visit to the cobbler, and then onto the bookstore where she sat back and unleashed her charge and his brother on the shelves.

Perhaps they should stop and look at trunks while they were out at the rate that stack for purchase was growing…

 

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Nine:

The Education of a Young Wizard

“When, exactly, were you planning on telling me that part of your changes to the future included rehabilitating an Obscurial?”

Isla had waited and planned her timing precisely.

She didn’t want Aurelius – or Credence as Harry called him, using his middle name – to overhear the discussion they were about to have, even on accident, which meant it had to take place during a time at the DoM where the two were separated and Aurelius was due to be busy in a different part of the Department for a significant amount of time.

Since almost all of Harry’s time anymore post his pre-OWL readiness exams was spent practicing his practical spellwork under Jones’s supervision or being lectured by various Unspeakables – most who had no idea why other than he was the grandson of a friend of their boss – on the subjects he was found weakest in, it hadn’t been easy to locate the right time to pounce.

Credence came with Harry every day the older Peverell came in to the DoM, getting tutoring of his own before starting Hogwarts in September with others his age but behind in the subjects that a proper pureblood, or even an improper pureblood of English stock should know – though they weren’t going to be telling anyone that – and sitting in on Harry’s lectures with Isla and Jones on modern wizarding culture in Great Britain.

The two were practically attached at the hip, Harry training his younger brother with his basic wandwork and the wandless (and more often than not nonverbal) magic that seemed to come naturally to both boys.

They would tutor them in it but, honestly, other than maybe one or two Unspeakables including Isla, there wasn’t anyone she had in the Department who was better at the rare expression of power, control, and sheer magical talent than either Peverell, a fact which made them objects of intense curiosity to her underlings but was mostly passed off as being due to their native heritage, the first peoples of the Americas being notorious for their ease of use of non-wanded magic.

Harry and Credence took Occlumency tutoring together, Animagus tutoring together, and culture tutoring together.  Credence sat and did his work – or drew – while Harry practiced his practicals.  Yes, finding an opening was a pain.

There was only one clear time in their schedule that she could use and it was immediately after his defense and dueling practice since it was the only lesson slot Harry didn’t allow Credence to sit in on deeming it too dangerous even with shielding spells to risk his brother’s presence – and given the power the normally mild and gentle wizard could put being a single spell, she couldn’t say she blamed him for the precaution.

During that section of the day, Credence would go off with Jones to learn more about basic healing charms – the sort of thing Harry was already versed in – and practice them, which was handily across the Department from the room they’d cleared out and warded for a dueling space to blow off steam when their research hit a brick wall or a dead end at least a century ago according to the Head’s records.

“Since there is no such thing as an Obscurial,” Harry arched a brow, tone complete snark.  “The Tuesday after never.”

Isla spluttered – but only for a moment.

She was quickly becoming inured to the reductos Harry liked to cast at her sense of equilibrium and knowledge of the world.

At that precise moment she wasn’t certain if that was a good or bad sign – though most likely as with much to do with Harry Peverell, it was both.

“What?”  She managed to croak out, following behind the briskly-walking wizard.

“If there was such a thing,” Harry charged her.  “Don’t you think it would’ve been picked up by Jones’s diagnostic that first day?  There wasn’t, there isn’t, and the theory was originally debunked in my time in the seventies – I think.”  He jerked a shoulder.  “Might be off on the date estimate.  Anyway.  There’s no such thing as an Obscurial, just a powerful magical child who’s been viciously abused and their magic lashes out after years of internalizing their anger and suffering and repressing their magic.  That’s it.  That’s the big secret.  No magical parasite, no special circumstances that have to occur.  Just abuse, rage, and power and the wizarding world not wanting to own up to the fact that the way they handle abuse of muggle-born and muggle-raised children, since those make up about ninety percent of all Obscurials, is abominable.”

Rant – and information – offloaded, Harry left a shell-shocked Head Unspeakable in the hall between the Time Room and the Brain Room, off to collect his not a fucking Obscurial brother for lunch.

Rumor had it the cafeteria was making authentic fish and chips that day, something which Credence very much – in Harry’s opinion – needed to try.

Among the art supplies Harry had insisted on buying (albeit with the DoM’s money) for Credence were dusty packages of what he recognized as sets of drawing and calligraphy dip pens.

They weren’t as user-friendly as the ballpoints he would miss from the future, but would be much easier – for both of them – to use at Hogwarts.

Credence already was familiar with dip pens from his basic education, though was more accustomed to simple lead or graphite pencils, and took easily to the dip-pens though Harry added a handwriting primer from the “muggleborn” section at the bookstore to help him adjust, as well as helping learn how to structure the essays that were going to be assigned, the level of education expected at the magical school being very different than the current muggle era.

Isla and the others at the DoM helped him with that, slowly introducing Credence to the expectations placed on a first-year student at Hogwarts, to the point that by the time September rolled around Harry wouldn’t be surprised if everyone from the teachers on down believed his new brother was a born-and-raised pureblood.

Harry envied Credence that, having less bad habits to unlearn due to his age, if nothing else.

His own “modern nonsense” as Isla put it when they were alone, albeit playfully, made him shockingly casual and egalitarian to most sensibilities, and the amount of studying he had to do before she was willing to introduce him to anyone but her close family was significant lest he offend someone on accident.

It was, honestly, too much to probably ask that he not offend anyone on purpose, given that he had rather entrenched opinions on certain matters.

Still, any headaches Isla got from his antics he firmly believed were her own fault for maneuvering him into the position of Lord Peverell, since every moment he wasn’t tied up in tutoring or practice at the DoM of one sort or another she used to try and drum what he’d decided to call “The Education of a Young Wizard” into his head from politics to niceties, manners to customs, all above and beyond what he actually needed to know to get by and most of it dipping into things taught to the nobility and strict pureblood society alone.

Apparently – though Harry’d already known it from other examples – one could kick the witch out of the House Black but not the House Black out of the witch.

As he didn’t have to pass any exams or anything of that sort, Credence’s summer was much more relaxed than Harry’s, spent either in tutoring – he could use his wand or not, both were much the same to him which Harry knew was going to drive his professors mental – bonding with Serenity, drawing, or playing and/or cuddling with Teddy.

Which led to an event that Harry in hindsight really should have seen coming – both the cuddling and the dip-pens equally at fault.

It was never a good sign, Harry thought, for a preteen and a baby to suddenly turn from giggles – no matter how sweet – to silence and then a squawk, from Credence, and an even brighter giggle from Teddy.

Dread pooling in his stomach, Harry looked up that quiet Friday evening going into a weekend of only a meeting with the goblins over their report on his properties on his schedule and over at his brother and son.

And then promptly groaned at the sight of Teddy and Credence splattered with India ink, Credence blinking in surprise and clearly having no idea how the mess happened, and Teddy’s hair a bright sunny yellow – a color Harry had started to associate with mischief as the baby matured.

From what he could see, he thought that Credence had set down his bottle of ink too close to the baby and an enterprising Teddy had smacked it over.

Babies and toddlers, according to the books he’d read, were not unlike cats when they were young.

Always testing and checking actions and reactions and learning about the world in the process.

Laughing softly, Harry rose and used a spell to siphon the spilled ink back into the bottle and then levitated it up onto the table rather than the floor near the baby, then eyed up the pair of ink-splattered children.

Credence had cringed when he rose and came over, shrinking in on himself instinctively, though when all Harry had done was clean up a bit had started – slowly – unclenching.

It would be a long process, Harry knew, for Credence to unlearn those sorts of reactions but he had hope in time that he wouldn’t continue to hunch over and brace for a blow anytime he did something he perceived as wrong.

“Well, there’s nothing for it boyos.”  He decided.  “Both of you are going to need a scrubbing.  A Scourgify strong enough to deal with ink would also take off a layer of skin – not a nice or pleasant sensation believe me.”

And Harry would know, having made that mistake when he was a second-year without someone to warn him.

“Credence?”  Harry asked, remaining calm as he watched the younger wizard come unwound when he didn’t lash out or rage at him for an honest mistake with the ink.  “Can you clean up your art things and then join me and Mister Trouble here,” he swooped down and picked up a still-giggling Teddy.  “In the washroom?”

“Y-yes Harry.”  Credence smiled – cautiously – up at his new older brother.  “I can do that.”

“Perfect.”  Harry reached down and ruffled Credence’s short-cropped hair that had a hint of a curl to it – though whether that was due to the blood-adoption or not having his hair weighed down with pomade he wasn’t certain.  “Thank you, Credence.”

Harry was carefully washing the ink out of Teddy’s hair in the porcelain tub by the time Credence shuffled into the washroom, a spell out of a baby-care manual from before his adventure in time-travel forming an invisible support for the baby in the tub.

“Well, come in, Credence.”  Harry prompted, scrupulously avoiding looking at the shy boy.  “If that ink dries too much more it’ll be the devil to get the stains off you.”

As it was Rosie was already working on getting them out of their clothes at the sink, humming happily under her breath at the extra work provided on a near-constant basis by a curious baby who was still working out how his hands worked.

Blushing head to toe, Credence hesitantly stepped into the tub, Harry passing over a bar of soap – nicer than anything he’d used before, but the preteen was getting used to that when it came everything to do with Harry and magic – for him to get started on cleaning up.

At least with black hair if the ink stained him there it would show so much like it would on Teddy’s pale skin and the colors the baby liked to turn his own hair when it wasn’t black to match either of the wizards in his life.

Scrubbing up for necessity and not enjoyment didn’t take long, and in a matter of minutes there was no more lingering drips or drops of spilled ink on either boy, Harry ushering Credence out of the tub and into a towel before passing him an equally-clean Teddy so he could hit the tub – turning a bit of a dingy grey from the ink – with a Scourgify before Rosie could clean it herself the workaholic.

A gasp from Credence and a coo from Teddy were the only sign he had that something had happened in the literal second he’d been turned away from the boys and focused on the tub.

Spinning on his heel – expecting Teddy to have gotten up to his favorite trick of peeing on the unlucky sap to be near him when he was bare-bottomed – rather than a Credence in need of another bath he found an eleven-year-old staring shakily down at his palm and Teddy waving one hand in the air, the other patting at Credence’s collarbone…his bare collarbone.

Trying to figure out for a moment how Credence had spent the better part of a week cuddling with Teddy without actually having skin contact with him, Harry shrugged it off.

How didn’t matter.

That there was a blooming soul mark – a rather handsome black wolf with turquoise tips to his fur and golden eyes – on Credence’s palm, and, as Harry grasped Teddy’s palm to see for himself, his son’s formerly-inactive soulmark gaining depth and color as well, the feathers on the black raven taking on an iridescent sheen.

Both marks were on their right palms, even though as far as Harry knew – and he’d seen Credence’s palms rather consistently to either heal them or apply the scar-removing salve Jones had ordered – before that moment Credence hadn’t had a soulmark there.

“I-it just showed up one morning.”  Credence whispered, tears gleaming in his eyes as he shivered.  “I didn’t know what it was b-but…”

“But you knew how Barebone would react.”  Harry finished.  “Wished it away?”  He guessed.

Credence nodded jerkily.  He knew what it was, now.  Harry had explained – at least briefly – soulmarks like he had so many things in the magical world, even showing him the strange six-legged cat on his chest for an example.  But at the time…

At the time he’d feared it was a mark of a demon or a devil, like Ma had always told him gave witches their power.

He’d wished it away, relieved at the time it was gone, then grieved for it when Harry explained, afraid that he’d ruined his chance for a best friend or a companion or spouse as Harry had said most soulmates became.

And over the last few days, all unknowing, his soulmate had been sweet, sunny-natured baby Teddy.

“Doing so probably saved your life from what you’ve told me about her.”  Harry said honestly, trying as always not to hide things from Credence as best as he could.  “No one could ever be wroth with you over that.  C’mon,” Harry tilted his head towards the bedroom.  “I think this discussion requires Serenity, cocoa, and pajamas.”

Potter luck strikes again, Harry thought ruefully.  He’d know there was a reason his instincts were insistent on making Teddy only legally his son and not his son by blood-adoption.  He’d thought, at the time, that it was him honoring Tonks and Remus as Teddy’s parents and not wanting to replace either of them.

Come to find out, it was his magic knowing before he did who it was Teddy was marked for, and the complications that would come of making Teddy his blood-son and Credence his blood-brother.

Score one for the near-sentience of magic.

Or maybe just Harry being utterly predictable when it came to abused kids.

Either way.

For once his Potter-luck had made his life easier instead of harder.

Given that the last time it seemed to strike he’d ended up eighty-five years in the past, he’d take it.

“We don’t know why soulmates and soulmarks exist.”  Harry began a more in-depth explanation for his little brother than he’d given him before.

Credence was tucked up in his bed with Serenity firmly planted in his laps and demanding pets – which was soothing for both of them as Harry well knew from his own experiences with Fawkes – and a cup of cocoa in hand.  Harry was seated on the edge of his brother’s bed, Teddy sleepy in his sling against his chest – though he’d tried to fuss to be given over to Credence, Harry was having none of it at the moment.  A book he’d fetched from his bedside drawer was on Credence’s nightstand, Harry having purchased it on Isla’s prompting that such a conversation was going to be needed having at some point and better to be prepared.

Honestly, Harry would have preferred to leave The Talk to the health class at Hogwarts, but he didn’t know what passed for that in 1913 – or 1914 since Credence wouldn’t be taking that class until second year if the scheduling was the same – and would wish for him to get an mostly-unbiased explanation of things from him than something all puritanical and repressed from the matron at the school.

If the way Ron would splutter and blush whenever talk among the muggle-born and muggle-raised boys turned to sex and the like was any sign, magical English people were just as stuffy on the matter in the future as the muggle ones were fifty or more years before.

Credence had been made to feel enough shame in his life over things that were natural to him, he didn’t need extra helping dumped on his head by well-meaning – but prudish – blowhards.

“All we know.”  Harry detailed patiently.  “Is that magic gives them to us.  Not everyone is given a soulmate or a soulmark, and they’re considered a gift.  Soulmates are drawn to each other, that much we do know, and its rare that they don’t find each other even if it takes all their lives.  Sometimes,” he sighed, thinking of how common it was in his time to happen.  “A mark fades, which is caused by the other soulmate dying.  If they haven’t found each other and bonded then the other soulmate won’t be effected physically, however the knowledge that their soulmate is gone can cause sadness, grief, and depression.  Do you understand so far?”

“Yes, Harry.”

“Good, now the more complicated parts.”  He chewed on his cheek as Credence watched him with eager, wide eyes and Serenity kept a cautious watch on her charge.  “Soulmates, most often, occur between actual mates: people who can form a magical bonding and become what muggles would consider married.  But, and this is important,” he warned.  “No matter what anyone says about it, it’s always, always up to the soulmates to decide that for themselves.  Soulmates can just be best friends or companions.  They do not have to form a sexual mate-bond.  They can and do marry elsewhere if that’s what they decide they need or want in a spouse for whatever reason.”  He shifted a bit, as uncomfortable with discussing sex with Credence as the boy was based on the shifty gaze and bright blush.  “I, honestly, I’ve only ever kissed others so I don’t know personally about sex and how those sorts of bonds are formed.”  He waved towards the book, the gilt title gleaming on the spine: The Education of a Young Wizard.  “That book has good information about all of that.  I would like it if you read it and if you have any questions you can ask me – or Healer Jones if you’re more comfortable with her – and we can talk about them, alright?”

The book may have been Isla’s idea, but he’d made sure to read it before he’d decided it was a good reference for Credence.

And it was.

It didn’t cover just a bare-bones discussion of reproduction – like he’d expected – but also everything Credence would need to know about going through puberty as an alpha wizard, including overviews about what the other dynamics and the female gender all went through as well.

Harry had found it quite comprehensive, to the point that after flipping through the alpha version for Credence he’d sought out the omega version for himself as there was a bit of a difference regarding what each focused on and the personal care instructions included.

When Teddy was old enough he would be certain to pass his copy to his son, since it would certainly inform his better than the rudimentary health class at Hogwarts that basically went with “keep your legs closed” for girls and/or omegas and “use protection” for males and alpha/betas.

In that matter at least, while they didn’t discriminate regarding sexuality, they were just as dry and condemning – or maybe it was just Madam Pomphrey – of sexual activity as any abstinence-only muggle sex ed program there was to be had.

“Okay,” Credence nodded frantically.  What he knew about sex was just as big of a tangle as most things he’d learned about before being found by Harry.  A mix of Ma’s stern moralizing and what was whispered about among the other boys at school or the men on the street.  Not the best basis – even he knew – for something that Harry was treating as quite important.  “I will.”

“Good, that’s good.”  Harry sighed, relieved that that part was over, running one hand through his hair as he patted Teddy’s back as the baby was slowly slipping down into sleep to the sound of their voices.  “People will ask a lot of questions because you’ve already found your soulmate.  They’ll call you lucky, even blessed.”  He grimaced in sympathy.  “Some will probably be jealous.  They might try to pick on or bully you.  Don’t let them.”  He advised.  “You’re a member of my family now and my family doesn’t have to put up with that crap, understand?”  He continued when Credence gave a timid nod.  “More, they’ll try and tell you how you should behave with Teddy and how you should treat him.  With him being an omega and you being an alpha they’ll expect that you two will bond as mates when Teddy comes of age but as I’ve said – that’s up to you two.  With him so much younger than you, neither of you will see the other that way until he comes fully into being an omega when he’s in his early teens.  But if you treat him well, become his friend, you’ll have a good relationship that’ll last all your lives even if you never see each other as a mate or a spouse.  Friends and partners, no matter what anyone else thinks or says about it.”

Harry shook his head, seeing that a lot of what he said wasn’t really processing for Credence, not yet.

They both were – especially Teddy – young to find their soulmate.

Trying to make Credence understand the nuances might take a year or two and meeting other soulmates and seeing how they were together before his little brother really understood what he was trying to tell him.

All Harry could do was keep an eye on the situation and see how it went.

“Because I’m both of your guardians,” which actually would make it a lot harder than the near-impossibility it was already for any of the adult Dumbledores to get Credence out of his custody.  “As Teddy gets older I’ll have to keep an eye on both of you.  Make sure that your relationship, in whatever form, is a healthy one.  I know it all doesn’t make a lot of sense right now.”  Harry admitted, reaching out and ruffling Credence’s hair before taking his empty cocoa mug and setting it aside.  “Read your book, then we’ll see if things are a little clearer for you, okay?”  He frowned then added: “And I’ll see if I can find one on the different types of soulmates and their relationships too.”  His smile was rueful.  “Another subject I don’t have any personal experience about, I’m afraid.”

“Alright Harry.”  Credence agreed, snuggling down deeper into his covers as Serenity flew up to her favored perch on the headboard above him.  “Goodnight Harry, goodnight Teddy.”

“Goodnight, little brother.”  Harry bid him, tucking him in and rising to settle down Teddy in his crib.  “Sweet dreams.”

 

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Ten:

Familiar Troubles

“Harry?”  Credence called out to him as his brother made ready the morning after his soulmark “bloomed” to go meet with the goblins at Gringotts.

As eager as Credence was to learn everything about magic, he was happy enough to stay at the boarding house with Rosie and Teddy and Serenity and let Harry go alone to meet with the fearsome magical beings.

“Why did you really come for me?”

It wasn’t the first time they’d had a conversation of this sort and Harry was rather certain it wouldn’t be the last.

Turning from the mirror where he’d been combing his hair into order – or something approaching it – Harry faced his little brother and told him a truth he hadn’t shared yet.

“Because.”  He said simply, green eyes solemn.  “Once I was just like you.  Powerful, young, and abused by the people who were supposed to love and care for me.  Only when I was saved, it was by someone who wanted to use me.  Who trained me quite precisely to become the sort of wizard they wanted me to be.  To do what they wanted, even if it cost my life, and never question them.  And Credence,” his tone was rock-solid.  “I never want that life for you.”

“Ah, Lord Peverell.”  Grythorn greeted his most interesting customer as the time-traveler was shown into his office.  “You seem to have been busy this passed week.  Adopting an orphan – who has seemed to have acquired a phoenix familiar, curious – with quite a bit of power to his magical signature, now our records show that your two heirs have initiated a soulmate bond.”

“Not my fault.”  Harry sighed tiredly, flopping down in the customer’s seat at the goblin’s desk.  With Grythorn as knowledgeable as any goblin ever would be about his background he wasn’t worried about appearing weak or losing face in front of his account manager.  Grythorn wouldn’t dare act against his interests lest he risk Harry using what knowledge he kept to himself and didn’t share against the interests of the goblin – or worse the goblin nation as a whole – in turn.  “There was no way anyone could’ve predicted that happening, especially with Teddy only a few months old.”  He straightened up.  “Speaking of which: trust accounts for Aurelius and Teddy.”

“The costs of their tuition at Hogwarts has already been transferred from the DoM’s Time-Traveler fund, as authorized by Madam Hitchens.”  Grythorn reported, folding his clawed hands on the blotter in front on him.  “As such an education vault isn’t needed for the expense.”

“Not that kind of trust vault.”  Harry waved that off, though he understood the confusion.  It wasn’t something many families did at this point in time from what he’d been told by his lessons in the current culture.  Most either lived off their careers until they inherited or lived off of their family’s largess.  There wasn’t much in between, except for the case of dowry and bride-price vaults set up on the birth of noble pureblooded children.  “More vaults that are given a certain amount on a yearly basis until the boys graduate from Hogwarts, with a withdrawal limit until they’re seventeen on the funds to teach them a bit of money management and financial responsibility before they’re independent adults.”

“Ah, I see.”  Grythorn nodded, familiar with the idea though it wasn’t in common practice, taking up a quill to fill out the paperwork for a pair of trust vaults in the names of the boys, with oversight and limits set by their guardian until they were of age.  “How much to open the vaults would you like to transfer and in what amount would you like the annual deposits and withdrawal limits set as?”

Harry did some quick and dirty math.

“Start Aurelius’s vault at ten thousand galleons and Teddy’s at one thousand, annual deposits as required for each to have a total deposited amount of fifteen thousand galleons upon reaching age seventeen.  Their monthly withdrawl limit should be one galleon from age ten up to age thirteen, five galleons a month from thirteen to fifteen, and ten galleons from fifteen until the age of majority.”

Grythorn did a few calculations himself, breaking down the amounts – which would be much less for the younger wizard than the older as the elder’s vault would have to “catch up” as it was since it was started later – then asked:

“What portion, if any, would you like to release for investing on their behalf by Gringotts to accrue interest?”

It was a caveat of goblin financial management over muggle: the goblins only gave interest to those vaults and accounts that were willing to allow part of their gold for investments and loans managed and financed through the bank, otherwise they charged a small fee for each vault in their care that simply sat and gathered dust rather than being used.

“Twenty percent.”  Harry decided.  He didn’t want to risk the boys taking losses on their accounts – though the way he set them up the losses would actually be borne by the main Peverell vault and not their trusts – but he wanted them to have the option of increased returns and larger trusts from accruing interest on their trusts if possible.  Keeping it to twenty percent should keep the trusts – and therefore his own vaults – from taking too large of a hit if there was a crisis.

Which with goblins in charge, wasn’t likely.

“And stick to magical investments, please.”  Harry requested, though his tone made it clear it was an order.  He’d already told him the little he knew about the muggle financial crisis that may hit in the late 20’s.

“As you wish, Lord Peverell.”  Grythorn knew what he meant by that.  He placed the account-creation forms in an enchanted box on top of his desk, the runes glowing a moment, then opened it up and retrieved a pair of small golden keys with secquential vault numbers on them.  “Vaults 687 and 688 have been assigned as trust vaults for Aurelius and Edward Peverell.  Would you like allowance boxes made with the guidelines you’ve established?”  He asked then informed his customer when Harry’s face stayed blank, the item not meaning anything to him.  “Linked boxes that will automatically transfer the requested amount to the box on the first of the month when the boys place the keys in the lock and turn it.”

While trust vaults of the sort Lord Peverell was setting up weren't the fashion among the richer purebloods, a son or daughter of a House having a guaranteed allowance from the main family vaults often was especially in the event of certain types of marriage contracts.

The upcoming Lady Black-Potter, for instance, would be entitled to an allowance from the Black Family Vault in the amount of one hundred galleons per month upon her marriage to last all her life, which was a standard amount for a bride making an approved match of a Most Ancient and Noble House, for all that some might say Lady Dorea was marrying down by virtue of the future - very future as Lord Charlus's father and grandfather were both still hale and hearty - Lord Potter being a Lord of a mere Noble House, albeit the most strongly connected Noble House still extant in Wizarding Great Britain between their cousinship to the Most Ancient and Noble House of Peverell, and via that relationship to House Slytherin and other illustrious names in previous centuries and their bonding into houses such as the Most Ancient and Noble House of Prince, the Noble House of Bones, and the Ancient House of Malfoy in the more recent generations.

Harry served as something akin to a mixed blessing to the highest standard-bearers of House Potter - most notably the reigning Lady - as his very birth and then presence in England as living proof of the former lord's liaison outside of the upper circles of wizarding society but at the same time that he was Lord Peverell rather served as a balm to any embarrassment, real or imagined, that Lady might feel regarding his joining her vaunted pureblood society.

That he was likewise possessed of both modest (comparatively) wealth and noted good looks also helped in that endeavor, alongside his being championed by a member of House Black despite Isla's formal disinheritance as she was still a valued member of that House despite whatever arrangements had had to be made to protect the familial legacy from falling - however unlikely - into muggle hands.

“For Aurelius, yes, take the fee from the Peverell vault.”  Harry agreed, as it would be much easier than Harry having to take Credence back and forth to the bank for withdrawals.  Since they weren’t of age they wouldn’t be able to use their key and signature on an invoice to use their allowance in their vaults though that, like the allowance box he already knew without even having to ask, had a fee attached.  Most things did when dealing with either banks or goblins.  “Teddy’s can wait until he’s ten.”

“Very good.”  Grythorn filled out another slip to order a box made for account 687.  “That business is done.  Shall we carry on to the properties?”

Harry grimaced, even as he nodded and rose, the goblin meeting him on the customer side of the desk.

He needed to see the buildings and discuss/approve the repairs from the reports.

Even so – he still hated portkeys.

They started close and spiraled outward, beginning with Peverell Manor in its unplottable county, Peverellshire because that’s original, sandwiched between Oxfordshire and Wiltshire, including some two hundred square miles that wouldn’t appear on any muggle map, and had been untouched except for the magical creatures and beings that called it home for around three hundred years since the last Peverell Lord died without a clear heir to take up the name.

It was a proper English manor house of Tudor design, built in the early 1500’s according to the notes Gringotts had on it, and had barely seen a single Lord of House Peverell before being abandoned with its builder’s death in the early 1600’s.

From what Harry saw on the report, it was in better shape than the castle or keep, if only because the magic of the land itself managed to support the colony of house elves who’d moved into the manor from Peverell Castle in Wales when the Lord had taken up residence there, the elves outliving their master for over a century before the last of them died off.

Without an active house or family to serve, the house elves hadn’t been able to procreate due to lack of ambient magic from their wizarding family, thus ending the colony when the last died of old age.

The same thing had happened, from what the goblins knew, to the elves who hadn’t followed Lord Peverell to the Manor but stayed to care for the castle on his orders.

Wards grounded in the magic of the land had kept the Manor standing, protecting it from weather and environmental damage, but without someone to care for the house, it needed both a heavy cleaning and a large round of updates to be livable.

“How much?”  Harry asked the real question after Grythorn had walked him through taking control of the wards for both the magical county and the manor home attached to it – or vice versa, as it happened – which meant opening a vein and bleeding all over the ward stones for the house and then again at each of the anchoring stones for the county.

Thank Merlin for apparation and blood replenishing potions, he wouldn’t want to have to do that, let alone several times in the same day, without them.

As he wasn’t changing the wards – just refreshing and taking control of them – the process wasn’t as taxing as it would be otherwise, though given the amount of land and the heftiness of the wards involved, it was still enough to leave him a bit woozy and glad Rosie had packed him a goodie bag of orange juice and biscuits to tide him over until he returned.

“To bring the home farm back into production to support the house and maintain the building you need a colony of at least seven house elves – two for the house, five for the farm and grounds – plus a housekeeper and a groundskeeper to oversee them and take care of tasks and decisions the elves won’t be able to manage on their own.”  Grythorn told him bluntly.  “The renovation itself will take at least a month with a goblin team of workers and at least ten thousand galleons if not twice or thrice that depending on problems that arise.”  Seeing Harry’s wince, Grythorn added: “however, once done, you should not need another renovation of this kind for many years to come if the property is properly maintained.”

“Do it.”  Harry told him, knowing he’d have to sign off on everything officially when they were back at the bank.  A thought occurred and he snorted a laugh.  “I’m probably going to empty the House Elf Relocation Office at this rate, if the other properties need similarly-large colonies to manage them.”

“More than.”  Grythorn informed him.  “We might have to make inquiries of those families known to be reaching dire straights to fill your need for house elves or else hire human workers which will be both more expensive and need more of them to complete the same tasks as house elves.”

Grythorn had no worries over House Peverell having the magical reserves to support over twenty house elves.

Even if they couldn’t feed off the land – which with how magical the Peverell lands were they could to sustain themselves – the elder wizards both dripped with magic for their young ages and the baby was certain to be powerful as well, if not as powerful as his father and soulmate.

They could handle it in an age where more and more, families were having to limit themselves to one or two elves per member as their magic weakened both in their homes and lands, and in their members.

“Fuck,” Harry sighed, not having considered that angle.  “Well, we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it then.  Having to take the renovations one at a time will buy us time there at least.  On to the next?”

“Peverell Castle.”  Grythorn supplied.  “Outside Godric’s Hollow, Wales, and center of the magical county of Godric’s Hollow between Powys and Shropshire.”

“Really?”  Harry blinked.  He hadn’t noticed that that was the location beyond Unplottable, Wales.  “It is?”

“Yes, this is of interest to you?”

“You might say that.”  Harry told him, tone wry.  “Given that I was born in Godric’s Hollow.”

“Ah.”  Grythorn blinked in turn.  “That is quite the coincidence.”

“No,” Harry sighed as he took hold of the portkey Grythorn had in hand.  “I sincerely doubt that.”

“When I visited here, before,” Harry noted as he and Grythorn paced through the village of Godric’s Hollow after having visited the Castle and he’d bled all over the wardstone, currently in search of the anchoring stone the goblin surveyors said was in the village square for the county wards.  “It was a mixed muggle-magical village.  How would that be possible if the wards are linked to the land and it’s currently unplottable and invisible to muggles?”

“As you say, the wards are linked to the land – and to the castle.”  Grythorn mused after a moment’s consideration.  “Perhaps one or the other was weakened somehow and the wards failed.  It would have caused a minor panic at the Ministry but with charms they would’ve made it seem as if the county and village had always been there, simply expanding the borders of the surrounding muggle counties.”

That made Harry think of Grindelwald, muggle bombings, and terrorist attacks plus pollution and land/air/water contamination from toxic runoff.

Yeah, he could see how the land and accompanying magic could be weakened or Peverell Castle destroyed.

If Peverell Manor was classic Tudor, Peverell Castle (circa 1100 or so, about the time Iolanthe Peverell married Hardwin Potter perhaps explaining how the two met at all) was an excellent example of post Norman conquest Romanesque, arches, towers, and all.

Not that Harry knew that off the top of his head but goblin files and reports could be quite comprehensive.

Harry liked the solid stone and ancient air of the castle much better than the gothic appearance of the Tudor manor, that it had a (relatively) nearby village for neighbors was definitely a point in its favor for Harry making it his home over either of his other existing Peverell holdings with standing structures.

Due to the type of construction, the castle had weathered the years well, mostly needing cleaning and updating the same as the manor, which Harry was quicker to authorize given that he preferred the castle and its protected mountain valley it called home, to the fancy manor and its open fields.

Generation after generation of Peverells had called Peverell Castle home and it showed in the feeling of home and the warmth of the land’s magic when Harry finished refreshing the wards.

The Manor still felt a bit sterile in comparison, though he was sure he’d find a use for the place.

With that in mind, he had Grythorn make a note that the castle was to be taken care of before the manor, though the fact that he owned all of Godric’s Hollow – every last shop, cottage, and graveyard plot – shocked him to his toes.

Some families had long-term leases, making their homes “home” as it were, as the goblins had continued on with their final directives of the last Lord Peverell to lease and maintain the village on his behalf.

Which, honestly, explained the amount of gold in his vault if this was the sole income for three hundred years the Peverell Vault had seen, minus expenses.

Still, better than nothing at all, as what constituted wealth in 1600 was not the same thing as wealth in 1913.

Before they portkeyed to France to look at the final standing home of Peverell Keep, Grythorn had him visit the vacant lands in Ireland and Scotland to refresh and take control of the wards.

Doing all of his land holdings, including those in Canada and Greenland, would be too much for even him to manage in one day despite a liberal application of blood-replenishers and sugary juice to sustain him, arrangements for those wards to be handled scheduled for two weeks away to let him – and his magic – rest before hitting the overseas properties and taking care of their wards.

If Peverell Castle was an excellent example of Norman castles, then Peverell Keep was a testament to their martial mentality, a solid square tower set on a hill overlooking acres and acres of fields and forest land in the south of France.

Harry would never want to live there, the Keep was far to stern and bleak for all that the surrounding lands were beautiful beyond description and included a pristine stretch of Mediterranean beachfront, but he appreciated it as the foundation of his family line nonetheless, and saw the stregetic value of such a holding.

It was marked third for renovation and having the land rehabilitated.

Though what he was going to do with three produce-producing holdings he didn’t know.

It wasn’t like the three of them plus the staff he needed to hire to maintain the lands and houses were going to eat enough considering all the land that was designated to sustain each holding.

And that was only part of each land holding, the wild lands beyond that – likely used for hunting or some-such thing – were the bulk of each of the three.

Everything had been left to run wild, creatures and animals magical and otherwise moving in and making their homes in the untouched land without any humans to bother or hunt them, trees and plants left to grow as they would, in total five – not counting the ones overseas – magical areas that hadn’t been subject to cultivation of any kind in centuries.

He knew Neville would be rolling in glee at the idea of what plants could be found there and that was before the contents of his preservation vault in Gringotts was taken under consideration.

“I don’t want this one renovated with a family in mind.”  Harry told Grythorn, visibly occupied thinking heavy thoughts as he rested after his last vein-opening of the day as the hot sun beat down on them near the sea.  “Make it a military outpost: barracks, infirmary, mess hall, officer quarters, armory.  Adjust the wards so that troops and squads can access the Keep via portkey but can’t leave the Keep to access the grounds.  The only way in being a portkey I make and give them.”

“Is this about what you’ve warned the Goblin Nation about?”  Grythorn asked perceptively.  “Is there no way to stop it?”

“If there is I don’t know how.”  Harry sighed.  “I know an assassination is what is credited – or blamed – for beginning it but for the life of me not when, beyond sometime next summer, maybe, or who is killed or by who.  There was just so much else going on, wars that were much more immediate – then – than one that ended before my father or maternal grandfather for that matter, were even born.”

It was the hissing that warned him before the strike.

He and Grythorn had fallen silent as the latter waited for him to recover enough not to lose his lunch on the return portkey into his office at Gringotts, though it was hardly a hardship to rest on a cliff overlooking then Mediterranean Sea in southern France with the sun high over head and a lovely breeze off the sea keeping them from sweltering even in the shade provided by the nearby forest.

A forest, come to find out the hard way, that was home to more than one creature that had absolutely no business living in southern France.

“§Stupid two-legs…§”

Harry’s head came around from where he was just being and enjoying the sound of the wind and surf, almost meditating while he rested.

There had been those after the Final Battle who’d thought his Parseltongue ability would’ve died with Voldemort.

More fool them that it was naturally inherited from both sides of his family and with a great deal more exposure since the first time he heard and spoke it at eleven, he knew the difference between Parseltongue and English despite his brain and magic automatically translating it for him.

§Egg breakers, nest stealers… §”

He also, between Voldemort and Nagini, knew what a snake sounded like when it was pissed off…and he was hearing one infuriated reptile.

§Bite them, drive them off before they can hurt the nestlings in the forest… §”

Grythorn, alerted by Harry’s attentive focus on the nearby forest edge, stood with his hand axe from his belt at the ready.

“Don’t.”  Harry warned, stretching out one hand in caution.  “I don’t know what is coming but they’re already provoked just by us being here, weapons will only make it worse.”

That said, he hopped to his feet and slowly walked towards the forest, hissing back to the protective creature – a large one based on the sound of scales on the forest floor that he started picking up as he got closer, and so did they.

§This is my nest, protective one.§”  He told them, the angry hissing and slithering through the underbrush coming to an abrupt halt at the sound.  §I came to make it safer for nestling and hatchlings and mating-age and great-ones alike.§”

Some concepts didn’t quite translate between human idea and those understood by even intelligent snakes, making Harry have to slowly pick his way through the idea-barrier to make himself understood.

Now that he was closer, looking into the shadows of the forest, he thought he saw a glint of golden-tan scales which was a relief – as they weren’t the poisonous green of a basilisk or the red of a runespoor – but very much not at the same time given that they’d been on a serpentine body, if just a bit of it, that looked at least as big around as a tree-trunk.

He tensed at the sight.

There was only one magical creature he could think of that grew to such a size and spoke Parseltongue – or was thought to anyway – and it both was very much not good news for what it was and likewise very far from home though not inherently aggressive.

§SPEAKER! §”

Honestly, Harry couldn’t figure out why snakes and snake-kin – the magical ones anyway – were always so shocked.

They knew in a way non-magical snakes didn’t that some magical humans could speak their language.

It was like every time he heard someone speaking a foreign language in London he felt the need to announce it – well, maybe not that prevalent, London was a global city even in 1913, but the point remained.

And then with a gust of wind from massive feathered wings, Harry’s worries were confirmed as he found himself staring nose-to-snout with a magical Quetzal, the Central American cousin of the occamy, both sharing avian and serpentine characteristics, able to grow to fill available space, and in the case of the Quetzal at least due to being a giant viper – some of the time – with feathered wings, head-crest, and tail-tip, quite venomous.

Occamies were the opposite, being avians with a serpentine body, and no one knew whether they were able to understand Parseltongue due to that trait or not.

Though Harry could now confirm that the avian characteristics didn’t strip away the Quetzal’s ability for Parseltongue, so there was that.

It didn’t necessarily give him all that much comfort however, as either way he was still inches away from a massive venomous snake that could bite off his head – in its current size – with one snap of its jaws.

Considering the last time he was around a snake of similar size it actually was trying to kill him, his freezing and caution – and readying of a wordless blasting spell – was understandable.

This one, however, simply appeared fascinated rather than hunger-crazed and driven mad.

§Hello, lovely one.§”  Harry crooned out.  §You are far from your home, here in the forest of my nest.§”

§Egg-crushers, nest-breakers.§”  She – he was relatively certain it was a she, there was a bit of a feminine undertone he was familiar with from Nagini in her hissing, but still – snake-tongue.  He could very well be wrong for all that emotion like rage, humor, and boredom had always seem to carry through in hissed-tones for him to decipher.  §They come and steal usss…§”  A hissy snicker.  §Stupid two-legs.  A Feather King is not a simple snakeling.  They couldn’t keep uss…§”

§You and yours are strong Feather Kings,” which Harry was assuming was the Parseltongue word for Quetzal, as he knew Basilisks were Serpent Kings and Quetzals were nearly their equals in ferocity, venom, and size if without the magic-resistant hide and extreme longevity.  “You are welcome to make your nests in the forest of my nest and bite any other two-legs but me and mine that you encounter if you will leave the big-eyed little two-legs alone.§”

He made a note to definitely make it impossible for anyone but him and the house elves to leave the Keep for the surrounding grounds.

She stared at him a moment, almost seeming to pierce into his mind with her vivid golden gaze, then abruptly shrank down and wrapped herself around his neck without so much as a by-your-leave.

§The others of my nest have all starting mating and breeding.”  She explained, a bit of disdain in her tone.  “They will guard the nest.  Big-eyed little two-legs are smarter than stupid two-legs.  I will go with you.  You smell-taste of intersssting places.§”

§Oh, do I?”  Harry asked, bemused but willing to go with randomly acquiring a XXXX-class dangerous magical creature for a familiar.  Isla was going to kill him.  Kill him dead.  A phoenix was one thing and only having XXXX rating because taming one – or rather, having one chose to pretend to be tame to bond as a familiar with a witch or wizard – was so rare.  Quetzals were not the same thing at all and he likely was only going to get away with it, he could already feel the bond forming, because he was a Parseltongue and had an innate command with most serpents.  “Well, my dear, do you have a name?§”

A hissy negative wasn’t much of a surprise.

Unless a serpent was a familiar they rarely had names as humans understood them, differentiating between each other on such things as scent, territory, and color patterns.

§Eris, then.”  He decided then and there to name her after the goddess of discord for the upset that was sure to surround her as he walked back to a bug-eyed Grythorn.  “A goddess name for a beautiful Feathered King.§”

§Yesss…”  She hissed her agreement, her feathered wings soft against his neck and scales the liquid-silk of a healthy serpent.  “Erisss…it will do.§”

“When were you going to tell me that you were pushing up the date for my OWLs.”  Harry asked, distinctly not amused as Isla dropped the news on his head, Eris tucked in place around his neck and watching everything with interest.

Thus far, while eyeing Serenity with distrust, she’d been quite pleased with herself for her decision to bond with Harry.

“Considering that every time I turn around you’re creating more problems when left unsupervised.”  Isla drawled still put out to say the least over the latest stunt Harry had managed to perform while carrying out the nominally-safe task of securing wards on his properties.

Though she didn’t know why she was surprised.

She’d read his account of his life.

Trouble followed him like a niffler after gold.

“I felt it was the best thing I could do to keep you from creating more drama in society before you’re officially introduced.”  She finished her thought.  “Your OWL exams will take place on 30 July, giving you just around a month to study and prepare.  You’re to be introduced to society at the event of the season – the wedding of your cousin Charlus to my great-niece Dorea Black.  Do try and stay out of trouble until then, won’t you?”

Exasperated – but somehow ridiculously fond of the boy in a short amount of time – she then shooed him out of her office.

She still had to fire-call her brother – the old windbag – and get Phineas to sign off on her charge and his brother bringing quite unconventional familiars with them when they arrive at Hogwarts on 1 September.

Though that Harry was a shoe-in for Slytherin – if with appalling Gryffindor tendencies – if she’d ever seen one and sweet Aurelius who was reading everything he got his hands on and paying rapt attention to every lesson offered him was a Ravenclaw in the making or she’d eat her hat feathers and all would hopefully sweeten him to the idea.

And if not, tossing out the cache of having a Parseltongue – a clear descendant of Slytherin – attending his school while he was Headmaster will do the trick.

This summer – and her direct supervision – with a time-traveler underfoot could not pass fast enough at the rate he was collecting strays and giving her headaches.

Still, she hadn’t been wrong in her initial assessment of him: watching him was interesting if nothing else.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Eleven:

Diamonds in the Rough

31 July 1913; Blueblossom’s Bed and Breakfast, Horizont Alley, London

By the time Harry’s eighteenth birthday rolled around, approximately forty-odd days after he’d been dropped – along with his godson – eighty-five years into the past, he had more than learned, or rather been reminded, not to trifle with the patience of a Black witch.

Isla’s ramped-up study schedule – his punishment/her revenge for the headaches he caused her with kidnapping-adopting his little brother Credence, Credence’s hidden paternity, Credence’s not-so-hidden paternity as evidenced by a phoenix familiar, and his own familiar that caused such a stir that Serenity the Phoenix was quickly eclipsed – to get him ready to take the OWLs at the end of July was the evil spawn of Hermione’s daydreams.

Don’t get him wrong – she was right in that keeping him busy with academics was for the most part the best way to keep him out of trouble.

That didn’t mean he’d liked having such an intense review program shoved onto his shoulders while he was spending his nights and evenings being both mother-and-father to Teddy and hopefully at least a half-decent big brother to Credence.

His OWLs were complete – all of them, including the extra subjects she’d heaped on to keep him occupied and out of her hair, which had been a cause of intense academic anxiety, though he had an easier time with Arithmancy than anyone had expected due to the maths he’d learned in public school and having to do Dudley’s summer work when he was at Privet Drive – and the results would be forwarded to him on the second after the holiday when the tests were finished being scored.

Though, if the whispers Isla had been sharing with several of the proctors were any sign, he might be taking a few NEWTs after all, whether he liked it or not, before he even finished the rest of his education at Hogwarts.

Half the time he wasn’t certain if she was an evil genius or a vicious harpy, but either way he felt confident in his performance on the exams this go-around, even if it was just a confidence in barely scraping by, which was a vast improvement over the last time.

Since his tutors in every subject thrown at his head were all unspeakables, and therefore often the leading researchers in their fields in Wizarding Great Britain, if he didn’t do well it would be a shock.

It also would make his life a living hell, as not one of them would ever let him live it down.

As a result, he was mentally exhausted down to the bone, and had skipped out on staying up until midnight to wish himself a happy birthday – because, for once, he wasn’t alone.

He hadn’t been blind to the colluding going on when he was eye-ball deep in Arithmancy worksheets or Rune memorization, magical history (with almost no mention of goblin wars to be seen) or divination (actual divination not whatever-the-hell Trelawny always taught) practice with nary a crystal ball in sight.

Though there had been dream charting, so at least that wasn’t utter bunk, even if the bullshit he and Ron had always fed their batty professor very much was.

Credence had been the one to overhear Isla discussing whether Harry wanted a celebration or not on his birthday, even if it would only be with members of her immediate family, but given that he still didn’t know them all that well beyond one afternoon and the big Black-Potter wedding was the next day he’d passed.

That that night there’d been much whispering between Credence and Rosie wasn’t suspicious at all.

Not that he minded.

If Credence wanted Harry to have a cake or a little fancy meal or whatever his little brother thought was appropriate for a birthday, then Harry was glad of it and would fuss over it.

He was still waiting – a bit – for the other shoe to drop with Credence.

There was a blow-up in his little brother’s future, though he couldn’t predict when or how it would come, just that it would.

Being rescued from a childhood of abuse didn’t make it so the abuse never happened.

Being told that his father didn’t know about him wouldn’t make Credence not resent him less for failing him anyway, emotions weren’t that logical.

Just because his head believed something: that Harry could be trusted, he was never going back, his father couldn’t save him because he didn’t know he needed saving, magic wasn’t the evil thing Barebone had told him, etc.; didn’t mean that his heart believed it.

Minds could be malleable and easy to change, especially when people were young.

Hearts, on the other hand, weren’t nearly so easy to sway.

All Harry could do for his little brother is keep up with acting the exact same as he had done since rescuing him from that dark, too-small closet in New York City; treating him with honesty, care, and respect for who he is and what he’d been through, and hope that in the end it’s enough.

Credence was taken down a very dark, dangerous, and eventually deadly path once by someone who promised to save him and made him feel special.

Harry refused to do the same.

Rather, he hoped to help Credence forge his own path into a bright future, even as Harry deliberately diverged from the future that had once laid out before all of them in the wizarding world.

A giggle and a shushing whisper were his only cues that his son and brother were awake and already plotting, Harry smiling into his pillow.

No, he hadn’t maintained his former birthday tradition.

But he had a feeling that the new one made with Credence and Teddy would be far more wonderful in the end.

And he was right.

“These are wonderful, Credence, Rosie.”  He praised the pair of them as Teddy sat up and bounced a bit in place, coming on by leaps and bounds with his development.

After a breakfast of French toast, fruit, and tea that had been prepared by Rosie and ordered by Credence, his little brother noting that Harry was rather a sucker for sweet treats and fresh fruit, he’d been ushered over to the little sitting/tea table in their suite and a pair of expertly wrapped (Rosie) packages had been presented with no-little fanfare and blushing on the part of both his brother and house elf.

The paper was the basic brown packaging paper that their purchases earlier in the month had come in, Harry saving it for Teddy to begin explorations in coloring on in lieu of coloring books, even if that was more an experience of letting him slap his hands into paint and then onto the paper – which looked exactly like what had happened to the “wrapping” paper used for his birthday presents.

Green Teddy-sized handprints scattered all over the brown paper, with thin lines of blue and silver adding a precise Credence-touch in a grid pattern, Rosie finishing off the wrapping job with ribbons of either silver or blue.

Which he thought were from her sewing supplies but given the ingenuity of house elves he couldn’t say for certain.

He’d thanked them sincerely, blinking back a bit of his soft-hearted teariness at that thought even though he’d assumed from the colluding that they were planning something, then set himself to unwrapping and revealing his presents before Credence’s nerves could shake himself apart, the younger boy once more using Teddy as an anchoring touch-stone, a habit that was becoming more and more common with both Teddy and Serenity.

Harry wasn’t certain if it was a need for a physical reminder and grounding or a first-look at alpha possessiveness rearing its head, but either way it wasn’t a harmful habit.

Merlin knew it didn’t hurt either boy – or the phoenix for that matter – to get regular cuddles and affection.

Maybe it was his future-ness showing, or an overreaction to his own childhood, but over his dead body was anyone going to scorn or scold either of his charges for being physically affectionate with each other or other people entirely.

People could touch.

Boys could touch.

It wasn’t the end of the world even if it wasn’t – particularly in this era – the properly stiff-upper-lip British approach.

Eris certainly seemed to think that Harry was her personal cuddle-toy, often growing in size to wrap around him securely while he slept or shrinking to drape herself around his neck – though that, he was certain, was entirely the Quetzal’s possessiveness and curiosity about the world at play and desire to share his body heat than due to a need for her species to cuddle.

Whatever the origin, Harry benefitted from it either way, as before Teddy, he hadn’t had someone to share innocent affection with since Hedwig, a loss that had been felt deeply for more than one reason.

Thankfully, it was a loss that Credence would never have to know, given the immortal nature of his own familiar, and one that Harry would likely avoid experiencing a second time around between the long-lived nature of Eris’s breed and their difficulty to wound let alone kill.

Small mercies.

Though as he unwrapped his presents he couldn’t help but notice that neither of the familiars were around – odd, to say the least, as neither of them had been far from either Credence or Harry since claiming (others would say bonding, or insist it was the other way around, Harry knew familiars too well for that) their people.

Not unlike wands, familiars – true familiars and not just pets – always chose the witch or wizard.

Smiling, he beamed down at the first, smaller present which had been tagged as “from Teddy” and he instantly saw why.

Much like the wrapping paper, the present was decorated with the image of Teddy’s handprints, though pressed into some of the sculpting clay from Credence’s art supplies which had been pressed into a precise square.  The handprints marched along the edges of the square, surrounding a pair of baby foot prints that made up the center motif.  Underneath the footprints was carefully etched “To Papa, From Teddy” and the date.

If he had to guess he’d say Rosie was responsible for the firing of the tile while Credence would’ve handled the simple clear glazing, the gift very much the sort of homecraft Harry had always wanted to have someone to give when he was little when they made them in art class at school.

“Thank you, Teddy.”  He leaned over and bussed a kiss to his son’s downy baby cheek, the baby gurgling in excitement, hair flashing bright blue, and he clapped his hands with a bounce.

A glance at both Credence and Rosie made it clear that his thanks were also for them, as their hands – figuratively speaking – were all over the gift.

He sent the paper from the first over into a neat folded pile on the edge of the table, the ribbon spooling next to it with a flick of his fingers.

Even since coming back in time and having a new wand crafted his wordless and wandless magic had come much easier.

That he had an excellent reason to practice it – setting a positive example for Credence for instance – also helped.

As he turned his attention to the next present, he pretended to be utterly focused while at the same time keeping one eye on Credence, who’d picked up Harry’s terrible habit of nibbling and gnawing on his lips and the inside of his cheeks when he was thoughtful or nervous.  Deciding to take pity on him, Harry made quick work of the wrapping only to pause, stunned, at what his hands revealed.  Swallowing harshly, he felt real tears and not just the threat of them gather in his eyes.

Held between his hands and framed in clear-varnished cherry – he saw Isla’s hand in that – was a pen-and-ink drawing, lines crisp and expertly shaded on creamy parchment, of a happy family.

Precisely, of their happy family.

Harry was seated on the floor of a room, Teddy held between his legs as they played with a few soft blocks.  Credence was beside them and leaning over to offer a block, his familiar on his shoulder with the large draping tail of the phoenix spilling down and pooling onto the floor.  Around Harry’s neck was a smugly-pleased Eris, her head resting on her feathered tail at about the hollow of Harry’s throat, her wings making a bit of a feathery epaulet statement on his shoulders.  Rosie in her pinafore was on the opposite side of Harry from Credence, fingers raised as if in mid-snap as a block hovered just out of Teddy’s reach.

It was a scene that – while maybe not in that precise arrangement – had played out on the suite’s main rug over and over again over the last month as they settled into being a family and not just a collection of orphans (at least the wizards) trying to play at family.

“Honestly,” Harry continued, after praising the gifts as wonderful.  “Credence this…”  He shook his head, stunned nearly speechless.  “You have an amazing gift.”

“Ma didn’t mind drawing, if I did bible scenes for the pamphlets.”  Credence told him, after a month of such-revelations not feeling as piercing wrench of dark emotions whenever he spoke about her and his life before Harry – and Teddy.  “Some of the better ones I think she would sell.”

“Is it something you think you’d like to do for a living?”  Harry asked, as they – among everything else – hadn’t really talked much of those sorts of things beyond Credence being educated at Hogwarts.  “Art?  I know Hogwarts offers it as an extracurricular subject.”

“I don’t know.”  Credence shrugged, blushing deeply at Harry’s praise – and that he thought well enough of his skill to think he could make a living drawing.  “Maybe?”

“You’ve got lots of time to decide.”  Harry reassured him.  “That you like it is really all that matters.”

Before Harry could embarrass his little brother by gushing – too much – over his gift, there was a flash of heat and fire, Serenity returning from wherever she’d gone.

Harry blinked, surprised, at the sight of Eris wrapped around that swan-like neck before the quetzal took wing down from her position and dropped something into his lap.

§Nestling,” Eris’s name for Credence, who’d taken more than originally thought from his blood-adoption.  Namely, the gift of Parseltongue.  Harry had felt a moment of sympathy for his teachers in second-year when he’d nearly passed out in shock from coming out of the washroom the day after he’d brought Eris home to find Credence and the quetzal having a hissing-discussion while Teddy giggled along from being safely – and gently – surrounded by Eris’s coils.  “Explained that two-legs give gifts to celebrate their hatching-day.  Thisss…”  Her feathered tail pointed insistently for a moment at the bundle: a bunch of fabric bundled up together and held previously in her mouth to keep from spilling whatever it contained.  “Is a hatching-day gift from me and the hot-headed fire-bird.§”

That the quetzal could also communicate with Serenity wasn’t news, as he’d walked in on the two of them having a hissed-trilled conversation (or argument) one too many times to believe otherwise even if Credence’s reports hadn’t confirmed it.

Phoenixes didn’t talk to their companions the way that serpents or serpent-kin like the quetzal could literally speak to Parselmouths, but they had a way via their bond of making themselves understood regardless.

He’d thought that maybe it was just a Professor Dumbledore/Fawkes thing before, but seeing Credence and Serenity echo the same behavior he’d had to readjust that thought to a distinctly phoenix thing.

§Thank you, lovely.§”  He hissed back, both Eris and Serenity bobbing their heads in acknowledgement, though the phoenix included a bright trill.

Hiding his apprehension – though glad Rosie had moved his other gifts out of potential danger – as who knew what a quetzal and a phoenix thought appropriate for a “hatching-day” gift, Harry peeled back the somewhat dirty cloth (that he thought was his old t-shirt under the dirt) and saw what they’d brought him, holding in the urge to laugh incredulously.

Apparently, he had his answer.

A quetzal and a phoenix thought that a priceless assortment of feathers: phoenix, quetzal, hippogriff, and what might be occamy and thunderbird, plus shed snakeskin he couldn’t begin to identify but felt reasonable assuming was mostly quetzal, and last and most shockingly hatched/discarded occamy eggshells; were an appropriate gift.

§They sssteal uss for these.”  Eris explained.  “Feathers and venom and eggs.  These have been given to the one who makesss our new nest safe for usss from the egg-breakers and nest-plunderers.§”

Which also explained the collusion – which he hadn’t seen coming between the two familiars.

Eris could easily fly back to southern France if she grew to her larger size, but even so it would take a while.

Serenity, on the other hand, could flame them both there and back.

And, evidence suggested, he had a much bigger reason or two to keep humans away from his land if they were being used by more than one or two displaced species as a refuge.

He couldn’t even begin to think of what he might need a pound or two of freely-given restricted creature parts for, and shuddered to think of what punishment Isla might rain down on his head if he were caught with them, but appreciated the gesture nonetheless.

It was the thought that counted.

All over Wizarding Great Britain and even in the upper-echelons of their closest allies and neighbors, there had been an excited buzz filling the air as Lughnasadh approached and brought with it the social event of the summer season: the wedding of the eldest eligible omega of her generation of the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black to the oldest son, alpha, and heir of the Noble House of Potter.

As the eldest omega of her generation, the peak Diamond of her peers, who Dorea Andromeda Black, great-granddaughter of the reigning Lord Black, mated and bonded (or married, depending on the suitor chosen) would set the tone for every eligible omega of the British wizarding ton, or upper ten thousand (which shocked the shit out of Harry when he realized that the population of Wizarding Great Britain was large enough to support such a stratification of classes in official terms unlike the unofficial wealthy pureblood/pureblood/everyone else structure he was used to from the diminished population of WGB in his original time) until the next Diamond was wed.

Diamonds were omegas who were found without flaw in terms of birth, breeding, beauty, refinement, and accomplishment by their elders, the matriarchs of the wizarding ton.

The ton had begun, unofficially, as a muggle notion but one that was quickly adopted – and then fiercely maintained – by the wizarding world, even if in the present day it no longer was referred to by that term in the muggle world.

Needless to say, it wasn’t every omega born into wealth and privilege who was considered a true diamond, though some families were known to produce them more habitually than others such as House Malfoy with their blond beauties and refined manners, or House Black with their sultry brunettes and impeccable heritage.

Some purebred – and pureblooded – families were more concerned with the issue of heritage and breeding than others, pushing their children towards appropriate matches whether they were marked or markless.

With the bonding and wedding of Dorea Black to her marked soulmate Charlus Potter – a House that while noble and well-bred wasn’t as…staunch about breeding as some other families would prefer – with the approval of the Black patriarch, it was a sign that in her generation at least, children were likely to be encouraged to follow the fashion she set: that of marrying for their true match over that of simple concerns of breeding.

Charlus was an excellent match either way, it had to be noted, whichever concern was allowed to dominate the discussion.

He was handsome and bold, a Gryffindor and former Head Boy under a headmaster that preferred his head students to come from Slytherin or Ravenclaw, with an untainted pureblood ancestry going back at least five generations without a muggleborn or even a half-blood married into the line.

His paternal grandmother Immaculata Potter neé Malfoy was the reigning matriarch of high society between the weight of her husband’s Lordship and her birth family’s name and money, and Charlus himself was already working his way through the Auror academy, following in the tradition of House Potter to service of the wizarding world, even though he could more than support his Black wife in the manner to which she was accustomed thanks to his inheritance even without actively working.

Everyone who was anyone of the extant Sacred Thirty families – which had numbered twenty-nine before the move of the Peverell Lord back to Great Britain and his claiming of his lordship – was certain to be in attendance at the bonding festivities, along with friends and mentors who were welcome to bring their own suitors, dates, or families along.

And, along with that, everyone was wearing their finest summer robes.

Which, hand-in-hand with being surrounded by a crowd expected to be several hundred or even a thousand people in a true crush despite being out-of-doors, Newt Scamander wasn’t happy about.

It wasn’t even that the formal robes were uncomfortable, no, his mother had a steady hand with her charms to make even the heaviest of formal wear feel light, airy, and soft on the skin – or conversely to make them warm and soft in cold or dreary weather and being able to wear an ascot (being that it was out-of-doors) rather than a stiff necktie was all to the better.

It was that they were white – and white, even with spells that were supposed to keep the garments clean or to whisk away accumulated dirt, hair, and grime, was not Newt’s friend.

To a muggle it would seem strange from what he’d learned of their clothing and wedding traditions that had undergone a recent change due to some muggle royal or another during muggle studies.

All the gathered guests dressed in white.

But it was a good omen and blessing for the couple for them to be dressed as such and kept all eyes on the bonding or marrying couple who would be decked out in the finest robes in their House or family colors, if they had any.

Later, after the ceremony, guests would use switching or unmasking spells to show off neckties or ribbons or trade their outer robes for bright summer colors or House/family colors or dynamic markers in combinations depending on their dynamic and status in a code that any child raised in their rarefied world would be able to read at a glance during any formal or even semi-formal event.

But for the ceremony all eyes would be on the bright spark of color of the couple being joined together.

Newt understood it and all the layers of tradition that went with it, as any child raised in even a semi-traditional pureblood family would, but that didn’t make it any easier on his nerves when he feared to move a muscle outside of his mother’s morning room after he dressed in fear he’d get a hippogriff boogey on his sleeve or muck marring the edge of his robe.

White, it deserved to be restated, was not Newt Scamander’s friend.

So it was with blatant relief – though the ceremony had been truly lovely, with seemingly-ancient Lord Black presiding, and the new future-Lady Potter looked lovely in her bright silver robes with white diamonds sparkling in constellations and black trimming, her husband, the mentee at the Auror Academy of Newt’s older brother and the reason for their entire family’s invitation save their mother who would’ve garnered one for her and her husband on the back of being a Prewett by birth, Charlus strong and handsome in his terracotta-red robes and chocolate-brown edging – that he tapped his wand against his white robe and turned it the bright, happy red appropriate for an alpha in summer.  His ascot had to stay white at least because he hadn’t found his soulmate, the only bright-side other than his standard-black trousers thanks to another spell being that he didn’t have to wear gloves because he was looking for them, keeping him from dirtying a pair and drawing the ire of his mother's family in the process.

There.

He still had to worry over grass stains on his white waistcoat and shirt since he was underage and eligible, but at least the outermost layer of his clothing wasn’t as dirt-apparent as it had been.

Even if the color did clash a bit with his copper hair but there was nothing that could be done about that as the Scamander family, while old, had never been snotty enough to acquire official family colors like the nobility, only having risen to being high gentry despite being landowners for generations in the Lake District, in the last generation with their father’s marriage to a nobleborn daughter of House Prewett.

Glancing around, the flash of golden-edged scales and rich crimson feathers drew his eyes like lodestones, and before his mother could say mingle, he was off like a shot.

“I feel like I’m in a bloody Regency dime-store novel.”  He complained in an aside to Isla, who just arched an unimpressed brow – whilst making a note to demand explanation of what kind of novel for later – and shooed him off to mingle.

He wasn’t officially “out” yet, as a wedding or bonding ceremony was hardly the appropriate place for such things, but she still wanted him to get his feet wet with the dynastic pureblood dance of the ton that he was now – willing or not – a part of as Lord Peverell.

That he’d had no idea that claiming a lordship would come win entry into the ton was simply icing on the cake for this portion of Isla’s revenge over his antics at times.

She’d been more than aware of all the ramifications – or at least those that could be reasonably accounted for – of what he’d done when he’d made that choice.

That he hadn’t and yet he’d made it anyway was certainly a lesson he was destined to learn from.

After all: it’d landed him at what amounted to a summer garden party with the nobility, gentry, and otherwise important and/or wealthy members of Wizarding Great Britain months ahead of when he should’ve had to deal with them, which was a fault that could only be laid at his own feet for making the choice he’d made.

Still: he’d made the choice.

Now he just had to live with it.

Harry could admit – if only to himself if he didn’t want Isla to mock him, however good natured – that the nuances of pureblood culture flew right over his head at times.

The wearing all-white thing he understood perfectly and his cousin (former great uncle) and his new bride looked stunning.

It was the addition of the sashes and shawls and color changes to robes afterward that were a bit boggling, along with the meaning of the embroidery and embroidery/embellishment materials used.

Isla had explained in precise and exacting detail what all three of them would be expected to wear and why, making the order herself and ensuring that Rosie knew which items were to be worn.

A lot of bother to do with social status and polite wealth flaunting as far as he could tell.

Though there was also a polite code to prevent social gaffes embedded in that flaunting which he found a little fascinating and helped explain so much from the Yule Ball his fourth year.

First, and standard all the time not just at a wedding or social event, as Harry wasn’t interested in finding his soulmate at the moment – too much on his plate, honestly – he once more wore gloves but because it was a wedding and social event and a harvest festival to follow immediately after the meal, they were thin white cotton ones instead of his normal deerskin leather.

He, Credence, and Teddy all started out in all-white, then after the ceremony was over were able – or Harry was, as the only one of them able to openly use magic at the moment – to switch out different pieces for Peverell colors depending on their mating/marriage status, dynamic, and bonding status (which wasn’t the same as mating status.)

Credence and Teddy had what was known as a Recognition Bond.  They weren’t of age.  And were, technically, still eligible for courting when they were older because they hadn’t made decisions about mating (because they were alpha/omega soulmates) or consummating their bond into a full Mate Bond.

As a result, Credence’s overrobe was turned the charcoal-with-black of House Peverell (as an alpha), with his waistcoat staying white as he was underage.  Credence's necktie in white with a discreet plaid of gold (as Teddy was an omega) and the same charcoal-and-black of House Peverell (as Teddy's adoptive House) gave notice of Credence's recognition bond with Harry's underage, omega, adopted son.  Black trousers (and gloves for the younger boys due to their bond) were a relief to all of them as partying and celebrating in a field - no matter how well outfitted and decorated - was just asking for trouble.

Contrasting with Credence – who’d once more taken charge of him – Teddy had the same white shirt and waistcoat over black trousers, but his robe stayed white only adding charcoal (for House Peverell) and gold (omega) embroidery to it, or more appropriately taking off the masking charms that made it appear pure white.  He even had a little ascot in summertime alpha red, with a white and Peverell-grey/black check for an underage alpha soulmate.  So cute.

Harry matched Teddy well, the main difference his white gloves and ascot, plus his waistcoat in gold with grey and black Hallow marks (or the symbol of House Peverell as most would know it now) as he was of-age while his tied-back long(ish) hair with a gold silk ribbon as an omegan Lord.

Lots of little things and nuances, which allowed someone to sum up basic things at a glance (particularly betas) that an alpha or omega could discover with their noses but with half of the general population of magical kind – give or take – being betas had been developed to tell-without-telling the might-as-well-be-nose-blind among them what others just knew.

Like that the copper-top sneaking their way wearing a red robe over white waistcoat, ascot, and shirt but no gloves was an unmated/bonded, eligible alpha with a soulmate they were actively seeking.

If he hadn’t had a soulmate, he would’ve been wearing colored gloves, with black gloves for at least a recognized bond like Harry's boys wore.

“E-excuse me,” the young alpha – who Harry had to admit was rather pretty with his freckles and golden-green hazel eyes.  “I, I know it’s terribly f-forward,” the alpha shifted, wringing his hands as he gazed darted between studying the ground, Harry, and the quetzal around his neck, Credence having taken Teddy (supervised by Serenity, of course) off to get some juice.  “But c-could I get a closer look at your feathered f-friend?”

Harry wasn’t one hundred percent certain if the alpha, who he thought might be a couple years younger than himself as he was wearing clothes appropriate for someone underage, was nervous because Harry was wearing a venomous flighted snake around his neck or he was just shy and it was Harry that was the problem but either way, he found it endearing and reminded him sharply of a pre-Battle of the Ministry Neville Longbottom.

He shared a glance with Eris who had lifted her head from resting it on her tail at her person being approached by a stranger, arching a brow in question and Eris hissing softly in agreement.

Apparently the alpha “smelled like animals, dirt, and growing things” which was in his favor.

That single, solitary interaction between them enough to instantly banish the freckled alpha’s – gentry or well-to-do/well-connected commoner, given that pureblood dress but no house colors – nervousness and shy demeanor.

His spine straightened, shoulders squared, head lifted and eyes sharpened on the pair of them – yep, a lot like Neville – proving that even younger than Harry he was already taller and broader, growing into an alpha’s height and strength as his interest in Eris overwhelmed any social anxiety or discomfort having to talk to Harry to see her had enveloped him in.

He’d seen Neville do the exact same thing on entering the greenhouses at Hogwarts, any tension, humbleness, or bashful behavior just sloughing off like a snake shedding a skin as he entered a mindset of confidence and control.

For Freckles, that mindset clearly had to do with animals and/or creatures, which combined with the eye color had him thinking he knew who this was: a rather infamous magizoologist who created the field of magizoology as it was known in the future along with dozens of peripheral fields, and according to the birthdate on his chocolate frog card should be sixteen years old in 1913.

All of which was information he couldn’t help but know between being friends with Hagrid and Luna plus having dragon-mad Charlie Weasley running around at times during the summers and picking Harry’s brain on what talking to snakes was like or what outflying the Horntail required in aerial maneuvers.

“You’re a Parselmouth.”  Newt Scamander – and it could be no one else from all Harry saw and what he’d heard of the living legend (now much younger and not yet a legend, but still) – breathed, eyes wide and excited.

“Peverell.”  Harry admitted with a crooked smile.  “Runs in the family.  My little brother is one too, and Eris here,” he made a wordless gesture with his fingers, releasing the tethering spell that was a requirement of taking a XXXX creature (other than a peaceful one like a phoenix or snidget) in public, familiar or not, and allowing her a bit more distance on the tether to uncurl from his neck and fly over to the budding magizoologist.  “Thinks you smell interesting.”

Eris grew a bit larger, Harry clearly reading her reveling in Newt’s attention as he cooed at her, offering an arm for the winged serpent to alight upon and curl around at will, eagerly examining every inch of her he could with his eyes and gently stroking the fingers of his free hand down her back and over the feathers on her head-crest.

“She’s choranaptyxic, like mokes or occamies.”  Newt was nearly bouncing in excitement.  “Most books only say that adult quetzals are large – as large as thunderbirds – and lay eggs similar in size and circumference as occamies.”

“From what she’s told me,” Harry filled in, already knowing it was probably going to end up in a book when the wizard got around to eventually writing it.  “How large they can grow at will is dependent on their state of maturity.  The size of a thunderbird would be a full-grown adult, which Eris is, but they always retain the ability to shrink back down to hatchling size, like when she’s in place around my neck.”

Fascinating.”  Newt breathed out, then blinked as it occurred to him that while he knew the name of the lovely Eris, and the last name of her person, neither of them had actually been introduced.  “Oh, I-I’ve forgotten my manners haven’t I?”  He held out his free hand.  “Newton Scamander, I prefer Newt.”

“Hadrian Peverell.”  Harry shook the hand of who would one day – barring him completely bollocksing up the timeline – be the foremost authority on magical creatures in the wizarding world.  “Please, call me Harry.”

“O-of course.”  Newt blushed, looking away from Harry’s direct – if gentle – gaze and focusing back on the lovely Eris who was now investigating his messy head of copper curls, hovering a bit using her wings.  “She’s quite a curious thing, isn’t she?”

“I don’t know if it’s a quetzal trait but: yes.”  Harry’s tone turned dry.  “She is rather, given that it’s the reason she decided to bond with me,” his smile was rueful.  “Apparently I smell-tasted like interesting places and magic.”

“Smell-taste?”  Newt asked, brows flicking together for a moment, determined to remember every last iota of information the Parselmouth was willing to share with him on such a rare and beautiful creature.

“Serpents have a refined ability to combine scent and taste for information on their surroundings, leading to the stereotypical flicking tongue behavior.”  Someone called out from behind them for Harry, the wizard in question turning his head slightly to see who it was before moving.  “And unfortunately: duty calls.  §Eris, we have to go.§”

If a snake could pout she was as Eris flew back to Harry after a goodbye flicker of her tongue against Newt’s cheek, making him chuckle at the ticklish sensation as the kind omega lord – and Parselmouth – bid him goodbye, telling him to be sure to: “find my little brother, unless she’s left his own feathery menace of a familiar should be keeping him company.”

Completely ignoring and blind to the crowd of humanity, Newt set out to do just that, feeling much more at ease with new creatures to meet than any wish of his mother for him to try and be introduced to “proper” omegas who might be his soulmate.

None of them could possibly compare to the one he’d just met, after all.

Too bad that Lord Peverell – Harry, he told him to call him Harry – wasn’t searching for his soulmate.

Newt would have liked to see if they recognized each other, when he was rarely so bold – when it came to matters of humans and soulmates anyway, even if the latter was a new development as it concerned him.

Soulmates weren’t always born for each other.

Sometimes, they had to grow or change to be suited for each other – whether as friends or more.

Like…like diamonds that need shaping and polishing for their inner beauty or shine or how a phoenix couldn’t cry healing tears until it reached full maturity.

He blushed even deeper shaking his head.

Look at him.  One smile from an interesting omega with a rare familiar and he was nearly spouting poetry!  Oh, how Leta – or Thee – would laugh at him if they knew!

Awkward, strange Newt thinking that he might possibly be suited for the likes of a beauty like Lord Peverell!

No, no.

Better that he come back down to earth and go seek out Lord Peverell’s brother.

He’d always wanted to meet a phoenix, ever since he’d learned Professor Dumbledore was bonded to one, but it was rare for a student to meet the elusive creature.

Perhaps the one bonded to the younger Peverell would prove friendlier.

There was only one way to find out and Newt was just the creature enthusiast to try.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Twelve:

Returning to Hogwarts

Harry stared down at the letter that had been passed to him directly by Isla – who’d presumably done some very Unspeakable thing (like, say, just go up and ask for it) – rather than be sent via owl and said half-heartedly:

“You’re a wicked woman and I hate you.”

“You’re welcome, Harry.”  There was nothing half-hearted at all regarding her smug and knowing tone.

The letter in question was the results from both his OWLs – and the NEWTs on three specific subjects that at the time he’d just thought had undergone a dramatic change in the intervening years since the first time he’d taken them.

Isla, sneaky, wicked, evil plotting creature that she was hadn’t been arranging with the education board examiners to have him take his NEWTs in Charms, Magical Defense, and Transfiguration before he returned to school, but had apparently been discussing the switch they’d already done without his knowing it.

Harry – or so she explained when he asked how she’d managed to have him take NEWTs on subjects without a passing OWL exam already certified – had actually taken the OWL in those three subjects the week prior to taking the rest of his OWLs and the swapped out NEWTs via a "practice" OWL battery that had been supervised and proctored and everything.

They simply hadn’t told him that, Isla worried – rightly – that if he knew what she was planning regarding his testing that he might have problems due to testing anxiety or lack of confidence.

The reason?

Isla wanted him to take a clear ability he’d shown her – specifically in Charms – and undergo an apprenticeship while he was working on bringing the rest of his education up to the same bar as his abilities in Charms, Defense, and Transfiguration.

That constant use during the Seventh-Year-that-Wasn’t was the reason for his skills in those subjects was neither here-nor-there, along with his basic understanding of wards and protective enchantments.

Ordinary Wizarding Level Exams

Ministry of Magic for Wizarding Great Britain

Board of Education

Passing Grades:

O – Outstanding

E – Exceeds Expectations

A – Acceptable

Non-Passing/Failing Grades:

P – Poor

D – Dreadful

T – Troll

*Note: To be eligible to take the N.E.W.T. or sit for a Mastery, the testee must pass a subject with A – Acceptable or above.  Required grades to advance in study is established by each school.  In order to retain the right to a wand, a witch or wizard must pass no less than three (3) O.W.L. exams with at least an A – Acceptable or better.

___________________________

Student/Testee Name: Hadrian Ignotus Peverell

Subject & Grade

_______________________

Ancient Runes: A

Arithmancy: A

Astronomy: E

Care of Magical Creatures: O

Charms: O

Divination: E

Herbology: E

History of Magic: E

Magical Defense: O

Muggle Studies: A

Potions: O

Transfiguration: O

______________________________________

Final Results: 5 O’s; 4 E’s; 3 A’s = 12 Passing OWLs.

 

Nastily Exhausting Wizarding Tests

Ministry of Magic for Wizarding Great Britain

Board of Education

Passing Grades:

O – Outstanding

E – Exceeds Expectations

A – Acceptable

Non-Passing/Failing Grades:

P – Poor

D – Dreadful

T – Troll

*Note: To be eligible to sit for Apprentice Level Exams, the testee must pass a subject with A – Acceptable or above.  Required grades to advance in study is established by each school or mastery proctor.

_______________________

Student/Testee Name: Hadrian Ignotus Peverell

Subject & Grade

_______________________

Charms: O

Magical Defense: O

Transfiguration: O

______________________

Final Results: 3 O’s = 3 Passing NEWTs

“Honestly,” she finished with.  “I think you’ll be ready for the NEWT in Care of Creatures as well before the beginning of school, which should free up enough time in your schedule to take the courses in spell weaving and warding.”

“Why do I need to take the courses in spell weaving and warding?”  Harry asked slowly, with just a hint of whinge, definitely experiencing a sensation of mental whiplash as Isla jumped six steps ahead of him.

“Because if you think I’m going to let you waste your magic-given talents combined with an advanced understanding of the nature of muggle capabilities – and what those will look like over the next eight decades – to help protect our people you’re out of your Mordred-damned mind.”  She told him bluntly.  “But,” she added, feeling generous.  “I won’t expect you to do it for free.  Here,” she tossed over a packet with a Gringotts emblem on the top.  “All the paperwork you need to set up a company for whatever you think will help protect our people.  Grythorn is willing to serve as your business manager and has already put out feelers for a law wizard specializing in national and international patents.”

“An enchanter can’t open a legal business,” he noted, thinking out loud and recalling Fred and George’s complaints on the subject.  “Offering authentic enchanted items, not simply charmed, or secure a patent without NEWTs in both Charms and Transfiguration.  Preferably a Mastery.”

“That’s right.”  Isla’s eyes gleamed – a bit feverishly to be honest.  “You have your NEWTs, you know better than anyone alive what is coming.  Is there anything – anything at all – that you could think of that will help our boys come home safe from what is coming?”

Harry sat back, frowning in consternation.

The hardest part was: she wasn’t wrong.

He knew what muggle weaponry was capable of, he knew the abilities of the average wizard in a fight – though in his own time, not this one – and he remembered the number of casualties the wizarding world suffered in the Great War, on both sides of things.

Isla, Head of the Department of Mysteries, had clearly been paying attention to what most would dismiss as footnotes in his file.

Like his being a partner in a business that specialized in potions, charms, and enchantments that while mostly used for pranking or fun, also often had defensive – or offensive – applications.

There was just one problem with that: “I’m not an inventor or an enchanter, Isla.”  He protested, shaking the paperwork at her in frustration.  “I wouldn’t know where to even start.”

“Oh, I know.”  She smiled viciously.  “What did you think I was going to teach you during your apprenticeship?  The Patronus Charm?”  She scoffed.  “You already have skills enough – due to fighting in a war perhaps but you do have them – to pass the Mastery practical you just need the theory.  What you’re going to learn from me – and anyone I can haul in here to teach you during your breaks from school – is how to take that knowledge you have and turn it into enchantments that can save lives.”

“Quite the ambition.”  Harry tilted his head and smirked.  “Such a Slytherin.”

“Takes one to know one.”  She chirped, entirely unrepentant that he’d gotten the scope and measure of what she wanted from him in return from her patronage at last and was distinctly unimpressed with being maneuvered.

He’d get over it.

Since Eris wasn’t even hissing at her, Isla would be willing to bet that he wasn’t even all that upset with her playing on his desire to protect people.

Time would tell.

Well.

That and whether she came into her office one day and took a jinx to the face, like she knew – but couldn’t prove – he’d done to Jones when he got completely put out with the witch’s hovering.

Thereafter, when Harry wasn’t spending time with his brother or his son or working with Grythorn on one project or another – he still didn’t know how to feel about being railroaded into being a business owner or Isla’s apprentice – August went something like this:

“Brat, why did I randomly sprout antlers?!”

“I don’t know, Isla, why am I suddenly the owner of a registered enchanting business?!”

“Isla, why is that crazy wizard from the Brain Room chasing me?!”

“I don’t know, brat, maybe because your mind is looser than a Malfoy’s morals regarding money?!”

“Heinous cretin, why, is my desk on the ceiling – files and all – and why can’t I get it down?!”

“I don’t know, Charms Mistress Isla, why am I studying advanced methods in metallurgy and the effects of various adhesives in enchanting?!”

“Isla!  Why am I registered with the ICW and IAN as a certified Far-Seer?!”

“I don’t know, brat, do you have a better idea to pass of your eventual tongue-slips regarding things that haven’t happened yet?!”

“Brat!”

“Isla!”

“BRAT!”

“ISLA!”

Though, volatility aside, as the first patent for Enchantments by Peverell, a personal shield – nothing impressive, just a basic Protego that can take a half-dozen jinxes, three or four hexes, or two average curses before fading (all dependent on the strength of the caster and spell, naturally) – set into a carved birch bead threaded onto remnants of dragonhide leather not suitable for most crafting and appropriate for children, squibs, or others who were either paranoid or not capable of a basic shield charm, was filed with both the Ministry of Magic and the two international governance/oversight bodies before he headed to Hogwarts on September First, there was something to be said for productivity gained through sheer irritation.

Teddy was the first recipient of the very first edition to the Safety line of Enchantments by Peverell, followed by Credence moments later, a precedent that tended to be followed religiously for many years thereafter, though this first gift was attached with a sticking charm to his ankle rather than wrapped around his wrist as most would likely wear it.

That Isla had, once again, been right and Harry managed an O on the Care of Creatures NEWT before he was due at Hogwarts certainly didn’t help soothe her unpredictable time-traveler.

As could be attested to by the total bill from the Hogwarts books/supplies shopping trip the Peverells went on with Jones providing the authorization letter – and absolutely far too thrilled to help him spend the Department’s money in retributive spendthriftery.

While Harry – and students all over Great Britain – readied themselves for the journey to Hogwarts, across the ocean in New York City a tired auror captain was readying himself for bed after a long night spent running down the leader of a blackmail ring that had been targeting – or attempting to – the elite of magical New York’s hierarchy, including members of the renowned Original Twelve.

Though, notably, the blackmailers weren’t stupid – or, conversely, helpful – enough to try it on the Graves family.

Percival Graves, the eldest of his generation of that illustrious name, was the one whose team had been set the task of bringing the blackmailers to heel and with the wrap-up of the case was looking forward to some less-hectic time to do a bit of investigation into a personal matter.

Biddies and old-wives’-tales can say what they liked about May/December romances, but he had a hard time believing that magic would be so cruel and capricious as to pair an innocent newborn baby with a soulmate of the likes of him: old enough to be their father, even with the extended lifespans of magical people, cynical and tainted from policing the worst sort of filth as he worked he way up through the auror ranks, and only escaping the clutches of a political marriage due to having several siblings all already matched and either mated/bonded or married off.

Waking up the day before the Solstice with the soulmark of a phoenix on his chest – over his heart – was nothing less than an omen, though he wasn’t one for wooly subjects and flights of fancy, that was the sort of symbolism one didn’t just discount either.

Phoenixes were rare, both in actuality and in their appearances as symbols in dreams, divination, or as Percival had become one of a handful, in representative soulmarkings.

Soulmarks were always representative of their corresponding soulmate.

Always.

It wasn’t necessarily readily apparent what – or who – the soulmark represented, they’ve been everything from a favored flower or animal to patroni to Animagus forms to school house mascots to representations of names, and so on.

But once the soulmate a mark belongs to is recognized through a first skin-on-skin touch, it generally becomes clear how that mark represents them.

Symbolically, however, a phoenix soulmark is generally attributed to someone who had to grow or change or undergo some sort of trial before being gifted with a soulmate.

It was a fact that gave him hope – one of the other meanings of a phoenix soulmark – that his soulmate would be his true match, a romantic match, rather than a mentor-mentee relationship that the age of Percival’s marking would otherwise imply.

That markings received later in life through growth or change also tended to - statistically - be more likely to have more than one soulmate he tried not to think about.

People - at times - tended to get more complex as they aged.

If Percival's soulmate was one of the rare people who underwent a significant trial or change before gaining a soulmate, there was the possibility - however remote when compared with the sum of all soulmarkings - that they likewise had more than one soulmate.

Looking up into the mirror hanging on his wardrobe door as he stripped out of his shirt and undershirt, he reached up and ran his fingers lightly over the grey-scale firebird that would flare and light with color once he’d touched his soulmate’s skin.

A true match.

He couldn’t help but dwell on it – he couldn’t say daydream as he was far too disciplined an Occlumense for such fancies – but it rose up in his mind when he was alone nonetheless.

Would they be male?  Female?  Would they prefer both as some do, or neither?

Were they brunet?  Blond?  Redhead?  Bald?

Did their skin glow in moonlight or was it burnished by the sun?

Did their eyes more often dim with sadness or gleam with joy?

The thoughts, he thought, of someone who’d learned a long time before that there was more to beauty than a limpid gaze or a demure smile, more to sexual attractiveness than a firm arse or perky bosoms.

Someone who wouldn’t want him for his name, his position, or his extravagant wealth like the debutantes that were launched at his head every summer and winter holiday social season was vastly more important to the grown wizard he was now than the callow youth he once was – more balls and knot than brain.

A mate for an auror that most people wouldn’t – couldn’t – dare to look in the eye between his well-known and infamous levels of power and viciousness with a hex towards lawbreakers wasn’t an easy person to find.

Who would understand that he didn’t take up his career due to a desire to continue the family legacy or for the high position he might gain but to protect the country and people he cared for and called home.

It was a lot to ask, he knew.

Still.

He looked in the mirror at that grey phoenix that had appeared on his skin in a rush of warmth and he hoped, nonetheless.

At precisely 11:59 AM on the first day of September of 1913, Rosie the house elf offered her hand to her master who was carrying his enchanted school trunk and a similar one with the Little Master’s things shrunken down in his pocket, his son in a sling on his chest, and his familiar around his neck from London to the main gate of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Credence, like the rest of the students, had left safely on the Hogwarts Express with his own trunk and familiar in tow, along with plenty of admonitions to find their cousin Atticus “Atty” (pronounced Addy) Prince – that year’s head boy and a revelation regarding certain events he didn't want to think too hard about – if he had any trouble and a reminder that Isla’s granddaughter Georgiana and her great-nephews Gregory and Arcturus would also be on the scarlet train when he worried over not knowing anyone.

Somehow Harry wasn’t surprised that Credence had taken being separated for the train trip – and inevitably housing – better than he himself had.

He recognized that at times he had a deplorable habit to mother people he cared about.

He also wasn’t surprised to see when they arrived at the school and Rosie let go of his hand that the professor who’d been chosen – or more likely volunteered – to collect him so his sorting and housing situation could be sorted out before the rest of the student body arrived was none other than one Albus Dumbledore.

“Ah, Misters Peverell and companions.”  Dumbledore was quite handsome at this age, Harry couldn’t help but note, though his eyes thankfully didn’t have the charmed twinkle they were notorious for later in life.  And given that he wasn’t elderly yet, his mien was much less a pretense of genial scatterwitted barminess.  “Right on time.  Come,” Dumbledore lifted his wand to unlock the gate for Harry only to stop at a word from his new – and rather mysterious – student.

“A moment, professor.”  Harry asked, moving up to the gate – and specifically the massive basilisk formed of metal that made up the Slytherin portion of the four magical guardians that should, in theory, come alive if there was an active threat to the school – and cut his thumb on the bared fangs, a silver glow lighting up the eyes of the basilisk for a moment then the serpent came alive.  Its head lifted and spoke to Harry, Dumbledore watching all this with wide eyes, then returned to its quiescent state and the gates opened seemingly of their own accord.  “There,” he looked up and met the calculating gaze of one of the most manipulative men he’d met in his life.

“House Peverell is related to Slytherin then.”  Dumbledore noted, falling into step at the young wizard’s side, the house elf popping away to join her fellows in the kitchens and house elf quarters until she was summoned.  “There are rumors.”

“It is.”  Harry nodded, shortly.  “The consequences of such I will need to discuss with the Headmaster after I’ve been…Sorted, is it?”

“Indeed, Mister Peverell.”  Albus agreed.  “And quarters assigned based on your Sorting as it has been some years since we’ve had a student either with a spouse or children attending.”

“But not unheard of.”  Harry continued, not giving an inch.  With Dumbledore if you gave an inch he took a mile.  And out-thought you a dozen steps besides.  Isla’s plotting removing Harry from having to take his class for his NEWT in Defense, something history had apparently decided to forget regarding the Professor's many academic positions and achievements, was a benefit he had no intention of sharing his relief over – or said-relief’s cause – ever if he could help it. As he'd never been interested in Alchemy, that likewise removed him from another avenue of contact with his former Headmaster and one of the main reason's he'd decided to venture to Hogwarts in the first place rather than continue on with self and tutored study for the remainder of his NEWT-level education.  “As quarters for non-traditional student needs exist.”

“Just so, Mister Peverell.”  Albus nodded.  “You’ve done your research.”

“My godmother is the Head of the Department of Mysteries.”  Or at least that’s what they were telling people.  “If I didn’t do my research I’d never hear the end of it, no matter the subject at hand.”

“Tell me, Mister Peverell,” Albus asked. Though it was unbecoming for a Gryffindor, let alone one of his personal reputation, he couldn't bring himself to ask the question actually foremost in his mind - alongside Mister Peverell's apparent heritage and links to the Slytherin line - that of the rumored familiar of this young wizard's younger brother. With his father's disgrace - both in marrying his muggleborn mother Kendra and his actions in killing three muggle boys later in life - the Dumbledore family hardly traveled in the same circles of the likes of Peverells and Blacks, leaving only rumor to bring news from the Black-Potter wedding to his ear. And that of a phoenix ostensibly choosing to be the familiar of a strange young wizard with only his significantly powerful brother for living family. Or so the story went. While he knew better - and was capable of basic maths - than to think an eleven year old child could belong to either himself or his dear late sister or spinster great-aunt, all of whom for one reason or another weren't given to activities required for the creation of offspring, there yet remained one member of their family yet who had neither the temperance nor the behavior that would disqualify him from a similar charge. If Aberforth truly was the sire of young Mister Peverell - however it occurred - at least his brother had managed to do one thing right in his misspent life. Even if that one thing was securing their family legacy through the creation of a bastard son.  “I’m quite curious.  Are the mental arts taught to all home-educated students in America?  Or just among your relations?”

“Only if you, Professor Dumbledore,” Harry countered serenely, glad that his still-in-progress mental shields were more than enough to keep the casual scan Dumbledore attempted at bay.  “Would be so kind to inform me where in the Hogwarts Charta as well as the laws of Wizarding Great Britain it allows a Professor to use Legilimency upon students.”

“Ah, quite so.”  Warded off and stymied – for the moment – Albus gave the password to the guardian gargoyle leading to the headmaster’s office of Indomitus then waved the intriguing student onward, following with equal-serenity to young Mister Peverell’s into the office of his employer Headmaster Phineas Nigellus Black.  “Misters Peverell, headmaster.”  Albus announced to the gathering of the Heads of House and along with the Headmaster and his Deputy who doubled as the Head of Ravenclaw, Armando Dippet.

“Yes, so I see.”  A grumpy bastard without compare to listen to his younger sisters (and children, and grandchildren…) Headmaster Black eyeballed the young upstart from America that his youngest sister had taken under her extremely protective wing with a harrumph.  Then noticed when he went to begin that, speaking of upstarts, his sole alchemy professor hadn’t yet taken his leave.  “That will be all, Professor.”  Black snapped irritably.  Honestly, that man.  You’d think he’d know after coming up on six years of employment not to test him on the first day of term, the incurably nosy, meddlesome creature.

Stymied once more, Albus nodded politely to his colleagues then the Peverell boy – whose arched eyebrow gave the strict impression that he was being silently laughed at, the bloody cheek – and spun on his heel before sauntering out of the office.

Headmaster Black waited for long moments, eyes narrowed, then cast a privacy spell at the door.

Dumbledore was too damn smart for his own good sometimes and it paid to be cautious, office wards aside.

“A bit presumptuous, I take it?”  Harry asked, amusement at seeing Dumbledore still young and not-yet-famous enough for veneration being taken down a peg.  A much more satisfying revenge – even if it was for crimes not committed yet – than screaming at a portrait.

“You have no idea.”  A wizard – who Harry was pegging as the Head of Slytherin from the green and silver trim on his black teacher's robes, Harry glad to see that even if there were more layers required underneath them at this time period that the standard black robes with either crest or trim were still the fashion for both teachers and students – muttered under his breath but not quietly enough to escape the ears of a trained Animagus who had children to care for.

He mostly kept his new instincts under control, but he had to admit some of Sirius’s ticks made a lot more sense now.

His trainer at the DoM hadn’t been certain he would manage the transformation in the time he’d had to devote to it over the summer, but then he – someone from Morphus Room – hadn’t known that Harry had prior training and interest in the subject.

He’d never gotten far under Sirius’s tutelage, just enough to know his form and how to meditate to learn the shape from the finest hairs on the tips of his ears to the knife-like edges of his claws, but with time and a devoted tutor helping him focus on the transformation earnestly instead of hit-and-miss he’d managed it in time to snag his “O” on the Transfiguration NEWT…and it being 1913, there was no such thing as the Animagus Registration Law, merely restrictions on the uses magical people could put their form towards.

Honestly, he thought the future would be in better shape for keeping that particular set of laws in place instead of reversing them, as the penalty Skeeter would’ve faced for her spying using her form under the current system would be a lot stiffer than a fine and a year in Azkaban.

Especially since the majority of it was on ministry officials, public figures, and minors.

Holding in a snicker at the Slytherin head’s comment, Harry schooled his features into a proper pureblood mask and faced the Headmaster behind his desk.

The four heads – Dippet playing double duty as always – were arrayed in a semi-circle before it on stiff, ladder-backed wooden chairs.

Headmaster Black, who he’d met previously at the wedding of his granddaughter Dorea to Harry’s cousin Charlus, had certainly lived up - or perhaps down - to his stiff, pompous reputation thus far, though he had to be at least marginally polite to Harry given the ostensible, shirt-tail union of their houses through the Potter-Black merger.

That Harry had gifted Black’s eldest granddaughter with a three bedroomed cottage in Godric’s Hollow, the first time a piece of property had left Peverell control and ownership in five hundred years, for her wedding along with her husband, helped with that a great deal as it gave House Black the sort of cache among the other snotty purebloods that no amount of money could actually buy, coerce, or bribe their way into.

The Malfoys, with their gift of a pair of house elves, were apparently seething according to Isla’s far-too-gleeful account of the one-up-man-ship that was rampant among the sacred families over the gifts presented to the newlyweds.

Dorea’s dowry and Charlus’s bride-price brought into the marriage didn’t count, naturally, excluding the Blacks and Potters from actively participating in the game.

All of which was a headache Harry was more than glad to leave mostly behind during the school year.

He’d – eagerly even – signed his Wizengamot, Lords’ Moot, and Hogwarts governors proxies over to his “nephew” Henry, which was beyond odd to think about, as for the most part their politics aligned and where they didn’t Henry was contractually obligated to vote as he knew Harry would prefer.

Most had probably thought he’d give the proxy to Isla but given her stunt with the NEWTs and his apprenticeship, that was a level of control over his life he wasn’t comfortable trusting her with at this juncture.

“Well,” Black flicked his wand and had the Sorting Hat flying down from its home on the same high shelf from Harry’s memory.  “Let’s get this taken care of before the hordes descend.”

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Thirteen:

Some Things Never Change

“Ravenclaw!”

The Sorting Hat shouted, and the Great Hall exploded into applause, Harry included from where he was seated next to his cousin – after a fashion – and Head Boy Atticus Prince.

Credence hopped down from the stool, blushing bashfully at all the attention, and handed the Hat back to Deputy Headmaster Dippet who was near-to-bursting with pride over getting the younger Peverell brother in his House, the Headmaster looking a little sour than he’d only snagged – even if Fawley was the official head, House pride and all that – only one of the pair.

Still, Peverell the Elder had a son, adopted or not, in time perhaps they might gain another descendent of their proud founder for their House.

Harry smiled reassuringly at his brother, who looked a little uneasy now that the reality of his Sorting hit him as he sat at the table next to Harry rather than with Harry.

Rolling his eyes, the other Ravenclaw first years making room for his little brother near him as Harry was more than familiar with how seating tended to go at the Welcoming Feast, he leaned over and whispered that he could still come by his and Teddy’s rooms – located in the nearest quarters to the dungeons for non-traditional students but not in the dungeons themselves as they were on the first floor – whenever he’d liked.  Credence’s abilities with Occlumency might beat Harry’s into the ground – his impressive self-control coming into play there, he thought – but his poker face needed work.

Harry had ensured that Credence could visit as he liked, complete with a serpent for a door guardian and a password in Parseltongue that would keep anyone but Harry, Teddy, Credence, and the house elves out of his quarters.

As long as his little brother slept in his room in the Ravenclaw dorms, there wouldn’t be a problem over him visiting Harry and Teddy, as there was no rule barring other students from the non-traditional student quarters only the wishes of the residents there themselves.

There was a bit of smugness hidden behind Harry’s pureblood mask that under Isla’s tutelage was improving in leaps and bounds as the incoming year wasn’t perfectly quartered – or as closely as possible – for the first time in years.

While the heads and Headmaster had carried out a bit of an impatient conversation while he was “sorted” by the Hat, he’d been having a conversation of his own – and removing a charm on the ancient piece of semi-sentient headwear that had the Hat taking the children’s preferences into consideration instead of strictly adhering to sorting them according to where it knew they would thrive.

He couldn’t swear one way or another who was responsible, the magic trace was too old for that, but he’d have been willing to make a gamble on a certain Gryffindor who had always been ridiculously Slytherin not to have been strongly considered for that House.

Once the charm was gone, it’d taken the Hat all of two seconds to call out Slytherin! From where it sat on Harry’s head and the two of them: Hat and latent Heir of Slytherin had had an accord: it would do its job properly and he wouldn’t vanish it into an active volcano somewhere.

No, Credence would be just fine in Ravenclaw, a place where his intelligence could shine and they would appreciate the different type of problem solving that a muggle upbringing could bring.

And if he wasn’t, well.

It wouldn’t be the first time in his life he’d hexed snotty swots up one side and down the other for hurting someone he cared about and there was no Hermione here to catch him out and lecture him for it.

“I’m pretty sure I’m cursed.”  Harry decided as he stared down at his time-table the morning after the Welcoming Feast.

He’d woken up earlier than normal to make sure he didn’t miss Credence before going back to his rooms to feed Teddy and found himself joined by Atty and a few other Slytherin – and surprisingly Ravenclaw – upperclassmen.

Though from the amount of inter-house conversations that had been going on between the tables last night, he wasn’t shocked by that development.

The house rivalry must not be that bad yet – or on a downward ebb at the moment, or something.

Never in his entire Hogwarts scholastic career prior could he remember seeing casual house-mixing at the meal tables.

Ever.

Even among siblings in different houses, like the Patils.

It just wasn’t done.

Not, apparently, something he had to worry about now, which was good because if either the staff or the students tried to keep him away from Credence at mealtimes Rosie would be serving a lot of breakfasts and dinners in his family rooms.

“Why do you say that?”  Atticus asked, amused at his new friend’s/cousin’s dramatic statement.  He’d definitely gotten that from the Potters, much like their cousin Charlus or Atty’s mother Juliana.  Rather a flamboyant lot, not like his father’s family the Princes.  Though there were worse things he could’ve inherited from his mother than a refined Potter nose, albeit a bit snub, and a flare for drama.

That bird’s nest his uncle Henry had seemed to pass down to all three of Atty’s cousins for example that had missed Atty and Credence altogether while making Harry’s hair just a bit heavy and curling on the ends.

In wordless answer, Harry showed Atty his schedule, the seventh-year wincing at what the more academically-inclined sixth-years were being trounced with on their first day back.

Potions, Ancient Runes, and History of Magic all on the same day was a punishing start to the term, even if in Harry's case he had a free period - or double period depending on how one looked at it though at the NEWT level all classes were two-hour blocks - at the end of the day due to the old Magical Law professor being replaced this term with someone who was younger than Merlin himself and actually practicing unlike old Professor Gargonot who Atty had been reasonably certain last term was older than Midus. Their new Magical Law professor, one Tiberius Ogden who was both a law wizard and the future Lord Ogden, only had time to teach on Saturdays due to his busy schedule. That he'd taken the position at all had to be down to some heavy under-table-dealing and favors either being offered or called in.

Still, Harry’s own fault for being an overachiever Atty thought as he did a quick count and realized that even with testing out on the NEWTs for four subjects, Harry still had a full course load of ten additional NEWT subjects plus half of Saturday blocked out for two hours of Magical Law plus his apprenticeship studies.

“Well, if you weren’t so devoted to making the rest of us look bad…”  Atty teased, good-naturedly.  “Then you wouldn’t have such a hellspawn of a Wednesday to look forward to every week.”

Leaning over his shoulder, Atty’s fellow seventh year and Head Girl from Ravenclaw Isobel Ross, scanned the schedule in his hand and winced sympathetically.

She would.

Ross was another swot determined to rule the world through her mind, though since she was shooting for a spot with the Unspeakables, twelve NEWTs was the right way to go even if Atticus thought she was out of her bloody mind.

He’d taken a sensible course of eight classes, which gave him time to study and have a life.

Though with a child and a little brother to look after, some would say that Harry had already done enough of a certain form of living until he was out of school and established.

Not everyone believed that Teddy was adopted, which was ridiculous.

Some took a look at a young wizard with a baby and needed to learn to mind their own business.

Sour grapes, was the consensus on both sides of the Potter-Prince/Black alliance which had banded together after some nasty rumors started floating around after Charlus and Dorea’s wedding regarding Harry and his situation.

And nothing was more likely to make them close ranks than someone trying to slander one of their own.

Harry might be strange – and half Yank at that – but he was a good sort.

Atty would’ve kept an eye out for trouble even without the elders coming down on Harry’s side of things, the same with shy little Aurelius and beyond-adorable Teddy who had all the witches Atty knew getting all gooey and starry-eyed.

Though if managing to test-out on his Defense NEWT was any sign, Harry likely had the actual trouble handled.

It was that of a social nature he needed help navigating from what Atty could tell.

But in the end his cousin was a Slytherin.

Harry would pull through, he was sure of it.

Just might need a bit of help, that Atty would make sure was provided, along the way.

Hogwarts in 1913 might look on the surface to be identical to Hogwarts of the 90s, but that was just that: surface.

Harry’s original incoming class in ’91 was less than fifty students.

Harry’s Potions class on the NEWT level had fifty-one students combined from all houses in sixth year, approximately a quarter of his year in total – and two hundred students per year was the average, not even the largest class currently enrolled.

Credence was one of two hundred and thirteen students Sorted for the incoming class of 1913.

There were barely two hundred students altogether attending Hogwarts in 1993.

That alone blew Harry’s mind and made him come face to face with how much had been lost in the intervening years not just in how society functioned and how they treated each other but in sheer scope of the population.

Of course new magical discoveries were rare when the population was a fifth – give or take – of the size it had been less than a century before.

How many minds were lost in several back-to-back wars?

How many would-be potions masters, enchanters, spell-weavers, healers?

How much was lost…and how much of it could be saved?

Harry thought such heavy thoughts were allowed to preoccupy him as he came to stand in the corridor outside the first-floor potions lab with the rest of his NEWT class.

The lab he’d used in all of his previous schooling was apparently home to a class of third-years, while the one that was Snape’s private lab for NEWT experimentation was taken up with first-years.

That was another change.

With a significantly larger student population came a significantly larger staffing need, each subject having at least three or four primary professors and a department head, plus the heads of house and the headmaster and support staff.

No, only on the surface was this Hogwarts anything like his Hogwarts.

Though as he spied freckles, copper hair, and a hunted expression trying to melt into the castle wall with a dark-skinned Slytherin girl next to him looking all kinds of haughty while a few of their classmates made what looked like nasty comments to them based on body language, some things never changed at all.

And Harry hated bullies.

Newt was already falling into the deeply uncomfortable itching feeling he normally got when surrounded by a crowd, made even worse by the active mocking he and his only friend Leta were accustomed to bearing the brunt of whenever they were at school.

People, he knew from having all manners of abused and injured magical creatures in need of care wandering in from the forest at home to their stables for tending or to the Care professor’s paddocks at the school, could be cruel.

Children, especially teenagers, often took that innate cruelty many people have and elevated it to an artform courtesy of a lack of empathy or compassion for others that often took time and experience to form.

In Newt’s experience, cruelty was far more commonly found among his own species than caring.

Which really made it no wonder at all that he preferred his creature friends to spending time around other people, with a few rare exceptions like his brother and parents or Leta.

She was an outsider as well, mocked as Leta “The Strange” due to her failure to fit into the hierarchy of Slytherin house as neatly as a pureblooded daughter was expected to do, her fascination with magical beasts, and since coming to Hogwarts her friendship with Newt himself.

“Nimrods starting early this year.”  Leta noted with a sneer as a pair of their Gryffindor yearmates sauntered over with that particular brand of overbearing confidence that seemed endemic to most of that House.  Maybe something in their washroom water?  Then as they started in on their normal round of insults: Leta was strange, Newt a weakling, and so on, her eyes flickered beyond them as a third student moved their way.

One she only vaguely recognized but who was quickly becoming infamous among purebloods as he was as much a mystery to most of them as what went on in the department his godmother was the Head of.

As Newt curved in on himself and Leta stared the idiots down, Hadrian “Harry” Peverell moved up behind their problematic peers on silent feet that if she didn’t know better would say were the result of a spell rather than natural ability.

But then, rumor had it that he was related to the savages and their elemental wizards of the American West, so perhaps it was a bit of both as aside from their connection to the earth, the native wizards of the Americas were infamous for natural expressions of animagery.

More beast than human, some said.

Leta would be interested to find out for herself just how much that was true – one way or another – though if the cautious glance Peverell cast over her as he approached was any sign then her normal methods might not work on him.

If such an avenue of investigation truly appealed, she might have to get…creative.

For his part, Harry noted the inspection by Newt’s little friend.

He’d give her points for subtlety.

Compared to the Slytherins – for the most part – from his former school years she was positively the soul of discretion with her calculating glances.

If he were someone else, he probably wouldn’t have even noticed the shades of it to begin with in her pretty heavy-lidded gaze.

However, he wasn’t someone else and his life over the years had very much been predicated on his ability to note nuances like that and catalogue them for whether he was likely to have to fight, duck, or run because of a pinch of mouth or the rapid narrowing of a gaze.

She was good, yes.

She wasn’t Narcissa Malfoy, Severus Snape, or Albus Dumbledore good.

“Pardon me, I’m new here,” Harry announced himself – to both the bullies who whipped around in shocked surprise, not all that surprised himself to see the red and gold on their uniforms, and to Newt whose head lifted up and showed off wide eyes at his interjection that was very bambi-esque.  “But is it the done thing at Hogwarts to harass your follow students in the hall on the first day of term?”  He kept his voice polite and genial, utterly bland, though it didn’t stop him from becoming of sudden interest to all their fellow students as his eyes were drawn to what he hadn’t noticed before: a well-worn bookbag on the stones of the castle, contents spilling out a bit, clearly the victim of some act Harry hadn’t seen and belonging to Newt if the self-protective body-language and missing school bag was any sign.  “I’d like to know you see,” his lips curved in a smile even as his eyes chilled.  “As I’d rather not get detention my first day at my new school for hexing a pair of bullying scruffs.”

His tone never changed, his smile never wavered, and yet whatever they saw in his eyes immediately had the bullies backing up and away.

Not that he was surprised.

Bullies, generally speaking, always were cowards in the end who would back off at the slightest hint of dealing with someone bigger, tougher, or more powerful than themselves.

“That’s what I thought.”  Harry noted pleasantly, arching a brow at the audience they’d gained, then with a flick of his hand – not his wand which was quickly taken into consideration judging by the expressions on more than one of his new classmates’ faces and would likely be all over the school by lunch – he had the bag and its contents back in order and levitating at chest height for Newt to retake possession of.

Which he did, with a blush and a stuttering thanks, followed by an introduction for Harry and his friend.

“T-thank you, Harry.  You d-didn’t have to do that.”  Newt told him, peering at bit obviously in disappointment at his neck when he noticed Eris was missing from her usual perch.  “This is m-my friend Leta Lestrange.  L-Leta this is Lord H-Hadrian Peverell.  Harry, Leta.”

“Charmed, I’m sure.”  Harry gave her a slight nod, though his wariness ratcheted up several notches from his normal state of caution.  He also withheld his hand which could if she liked, be taken as a slight given that he was as usual wearing gloves and couldn’t be automatically be excused for the lacking gesture due to a desire to prevent a Recognition Bond at his current life-state.

“Quite.”  Leta arched a dark brow, unsure, American that he supposedly was though he was very British in speech for it, if his reticence with his person was a matter of personal reserve or a commentary on either her family name or her skin tone.  Wizards, after all, cared very much about the former and not at all about the latter but, well, his origins were so secretive that he might have absorbed some muggle notions before Madam Hitchens took responsibility for him.

Before anything more could come – either of the bullies relocating their bravado as, now that they’d managed to scent Harry as an omega and not likely the alpha they assumed based on his build and demeanor or of mannerly pleasantries between pureblooded omegas – the Potions Head and Professor in charge of teaching the two years of NEWTs students, Professor Swoopstikes, arrived and ushered them briskly into the classroom.

Though if the calculation that had returned to Ms. Lestrange’s eyes or the stymied anger in that of the Gryffindor alphas were any sign, it certainly wouldn’t be the last he heard of the scene for some time to come.

Ever since he was a child, Newt had been considered…odd.

Not just in general the way some people considered most of those who either were or were interested in becoming wizarding naturalists (though Newt thought there should be another term for it, really, depending on what a witch or wizard actually did regarding magical creatures) but as an alpha in particular.

Diagnostic spells in common use at birth for the health of the baby easily identify their dynamic as well, even though they wouldn’t present until puberty when their changing bodies – and magic – made the secondary characteristics viable.

Despite this, it didn’t stop parents and society at large – at least in England, perhaps things were different elsewhere – from looking for certain traits and characteristics in young children, a habit that would never stop all their lives as they – much like the muggles equated and judged based on how masculine or feminine one was and how they fit into the established norms of gender – were judged either representative or outliers of their dynamics.

Omegas could be judged as “too alpha” if they were particularly strong-willed while alphas conversely were often scorned if they didn’t live up to the strong, fierce, aggressive traits commonly attributed to them.

Betas in this way experienced a freedom alphas or omegas could never know, though lack of expectation, Newt supposed, might be just as potentially damaging in its way.

It wasn’t just personality either but in their builds and bodies and features.

Which was where it started for Newt when he was young but certainly didn’t end there.

As a child Newt was small, smaller than his elder brother had been at the same age, with large eyes and a quiet nature.

Omega traits, or so his most critical Prewett relatives would sneer.

Not much of an alpha at all, or so they said.

Not right, not normal, not what an omega would want.

For many years, until this previous June in fact, his markless state had merely added more fuel to that particular fire.

He couldn’t even say that they were wrong.

He was awkward, he did prefer the company of creatures – who were never cruel – to people, he wasn’t as tall or strong or bold as Theseus.

In comparison to his brother and fellow alpha, it had to be acknowledged that Newt came far from measuring up with the long heritage of aurors and alphas his father’s family were known for and the bright bold Gryffindors of his mother’s Prewett family.

Should have been an omega or beta, it seemed, was the consensus.

Best that he doesn’t have a Mark with his oddness, was decided.

And then…everything changed.

Puberty came a bit later to Newt than it did many alphas but it came nonetheless and he shot up nearly half a foot since the start of summer break and currently didn’t show any sign of slowing down.  His strength, formerly the thin and wiry type of youngsters, had started to broaden and tighten into muscles formed from years and years of hard work both with his mother’s hippogriffs and his own love of creatures and weaker - but still present - interest in herbology.  His eyes remained large in his face, as was his mouth with the softness that had so often earned him slurs on his alphahood, but his cheekbones and jawline sharpened and hardened as baby fat melted away.

All of a sudden, in almost every possible physical way, over the course of a matter of months Newt had gone from the weak, weedy little Hufflepuff near-omegan alpha that was a popular target for mockery into an example of alpha stature and strength that made even his most ardent detractors – who came from the blowhards of his own family due to fear for the family name, naturally – take a step back in their considered insults.

Which almost made it worse for him.

As now that one avenue of mockery and disparagement had been cut off, they – his bullies at school at least – seemed to have doubled down on what they could still pick at him for: his quiet nature, awkward manner, and love of magical creatures.

That Newt couldn’t stand to hurt anyone, often even if they deserved it, was a trait that had driven his brother mad for years as Theseus tried to convince and cajole him into defending himself from his bullies with a wand if he couldn’t bring himself to do so with words – which were always tricky for him unless he was talking to or about one of his beloved creatures, as it had been since he fell in deep and undying love with the hippogriff Artemis who he’d been named for, the two of them born only a day apart – all to no avail.

No matter how many practice duels Newt had against his auror father and brother, no matter the tricks and spells and counters they taught him, Newt had never yet been pushed to the point where he could raise his wand against another living, feeling, being.

His empathy and soft heart was going to get him killed one day if he listened to his brother, though it was always said with a loving, if frustrated, tone.

Thee tried, his father tried, his mother who was no slouch with a wand herself tried, but no matter the skill that they taught him, he simply didn’t have the instinct to do harm.

That didn’t stop him from admiring those who did embody that strong defender’s spirit like his family and Leta.

Having her ever-ready to jump to his defense against their detractors had never seemed to help, if anything with having an omega defend him instead of the other way around it made things worse, but he still appreciated that she cared enough about him to have the instinct to do so regardless.

Now after a mere two occasions of acquaintance and a single instance of defense, Newt found himself adding another member to that small group who he saw the natural defender’s instinct alive and thriving and bold within in one Harry Peverell.

A second omega ready and willing to defend Newt would likely make things worse for him in the end, he could admit, but he appreciated it nonetheless even if, as Harry said, it was more about principles than anything else.

Harry wasn’t alone in his dislike of bullies.

Newt simply could never seem to gather enough ire through his bruised and battered emotions, damaged and aching as he was from years and years of abuse, to do anything about it in his own defense.

Nothing, yet, had roused an alpha’s anger and instincts in him as his body was in the process of adapting to an alpha’s biology and appearance.

Slow bloomer, it was said now, with knowing nods.

He thought that was being overly optimistic.

If five years of being stomped on for being different by the foul-natured and insecure creatures that were teenagers couldn’t rouse him to behave “like a proper” alpha he didn’t know what if anything would do the trick.

More…a large part of him was afraid to know, to see what his instincts would have him do after being belayed for so long.

He’d lived so long without displaying typical alpha behavior that to allow them free range seemed like losing, if only after a fashion, or even giving up or giving in to what was expected.

Though as he watched – a bit wistfully – from under his favorite tree on the grounds as alpha swains escorted their sweethearts on walks around the lake or sat together under the weeping willows, his eye snagged by the sight of golden-brown and vivid-scarlet feathers among raven and bright blue hair as others took advantage of the bright September day to enjoy the sunshine, he also thought that there might be…consolations to going along with being considered a proper alpha.

Not enough for him to change himself, if he even could or would truly want to.

His creature friends and Leta and Thee all liked him just as he was and that was enough for him.

But at sixteen and starting to…feel things, he could at least admit the appeal of being an average alpha who could pursue and court anyone they liked without being humiliated and scorned in the process.

After all, Newt was the odd, quiet, awkward alpha who liked creatures more than people and had only one friend.

Who could possibly be interested in being courted by an alpha like that?

No, no, better not to try, in this, than suffer a rejection.

With so many others in his past, he didn’t know if he could survive another, and that was the sad, magic-sworn truth.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Fourteen:

A Sketch of an Author as a Young Wizard

1 October 1913; Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry; Unplottable, Scotland, Wizarding Great Britain

It was Harry’s considered opinion after several months spent in the past – now his present?  Time travel and appropriate tenses were still giving him fits, even as he acclimated more and more – that whoever had written the magical history of England from before Grindelwald’s War, particularly the biographies of several important figures, were lying liars who lied.

He couldn’t blame them entirely, especially as he knew better than anyone how public perception of someone could be skewed in comparison to how they actually were, but that didn’t change the fact that some people from Harry’s current era had either been grossly misrepresented or they would change immensely before their biographies were written and in the case of those deceased by the time Harry entered the magical world their portraits were painted because – damn – there was a lot of changes from the historical figures Harry remembered and the people he was actually meeting and getting to know.

Not just among his family – the Potters – either, or people who he’d expected to be different like Mr. Scamander, but random figures like Phineas Nigellus Black and his sister Isla.

According to Sirius – and Phineas’s portrait – the former had been a rotten and mean-spirited person to the point of being poisoned by his own students and the latter a disgrace on the Black name who’d been disowned for marrying a muggleborn…and therein lay the rub.

Headmaster Black, from the two or three times Harry had seen or spoken to him, was irascible and exacting.

He wasn’t, however, completely stone-hearted and vile, willing to do quite a lot of rule-bending and make accommodations on the behalf of his sister’s protégé and godson, including looking the other way regarding said godson’s existence being a “secret” for the last eighteen years.

Harry didn’t think anyone who actually knew Isla believed that part of his cover story but given her career as an Unspeakable, particularly the Head Unspeakable, no one challenged it either.

Which was another thing.

How – by Merlin’s tatty knickers – did a fact like Isla Black-Hitchens having an amiable relationship with her birth family despite her disinheritance, which had come about for reasons Harry had never heard before in his life and nothing to do with who her husband was but rather preventing magical wealth and property from falling into muggle hands should disaster strike down the bulk of the Black family, and was the Head of the Department of Mysteries for years get relegated to a footnote of “disowned for marrying a muggleborn?”

What the ever-loving fuckery was that?

She may irritate the hell out of him with her maneuvering and manipulating him into choices and actions he wouldn’t have considered let alone attempted if left to his own devices, but he could not – would not – devalue all the help she’d also given him, including lying to her own family over him and likely breaking who-knew-how-many laws to help him gain custody of his brother, but he would never disrespect her by saying the most important thing about her was marrying her husband.

That was…dismissive and historically revisionist to an extent that was mind-boggling.

In comparison, that Professor Dumbledore was currently the NEWT-level Defense professor and not teaching Transfiguration was a much minor alteration as it was strongly suggested by most biographies done on the man that he was a scholar of transfiguration and alchemy alone but his abilities in defense and dueling had always been apparent to anyone who’d seem him use them.

People also liked to forget that alchemy study required strong foundations in potions too, so there was that.

Then you threw Newt Scamander into the mixture and Harry was left with a befuddling sense of what the fuck is going on that he was all too familiar with and wished he wasn’t.

Living the life he has thus far, he was used to facts and evidence not adding up into a coherent picture of events.

That said, he didn’t even know where to start with reconciling the legendary figure of first-ever Magizoologist, Defender and Friend of Magical Creatures Everywhere, Fearless and Unwavering Against Any Challenge, Bane and Breaker of Poaching and Smuggling Rings, Advocate and Creator of Creature Protections the World-over, Author Extraordinaire, Dragontamer and Beastmaster, Revolutionary in the Field of Wizarding Naturalism and Magizoology, and – this was really where Harry started stumbling as he could kinda see where the others could develop over time – Exposer of Gellert Grindelwald, Defier of the Dark Lord’s Plans, Dueled him and Survived, and so on regarding his events during the early parts of the Grindelwald War.

Sweet, awkward Newt was going to grow up to become all of that?

In his way, the freckled Hufflepuff with an infamous legacy, was certainly brave and bold – when it came to creatures.

He was quick and agile, playing reserve Chaser for the Hufflepuff Quidditch team – which somehow hadn’t translated into him not being a target of bullies for all that his teammates and House left him be – which as Harry knew took nerve and a rather casual disregard for one’s personal safety no matter what position they played.

Harry had seen it for himself, the occasional dip into boldness, daring, and nerve – if only realizing the significance later – when he’d approached him at the Black-Potter wedding to meet Eris.

The rest…how?

Newt, who Harry was building a friendship with based mostly around Newt’s wanting to pick his brain over being a Parselmouth and desire to befriend Eris and Serenity and, from what Harry could tell, willing to put up with Harry, Credence, and/or Teddy in order to get close to the rare creatures, was painfully wary of others in a way that gave him hives thinking about another awkward and insecure wizard and how, precisely, Neville had come to be that way likewise despite being an alpha and having a singular love of plants not dissimilar to Newt’s of animals.

He couldn’t – or more likely wouldn’t – stand up to annoying twats like the couple of Gryffindor and Slytherin knot-heads who liked to pick at him over everything from his seeming shy, befriending other outsiders like Leta Lestrange (who Harry was still wary of) and Harry himself, to the fact that he had fucking freckles for the love of Merlin’s staff!

He knew, he knew, that time and life and experiences could change people.

What it came down to, he supposed, was seeing such a pure heart like Newt’s and not liking to contemplate what would have to happen to him in his life to take someone who was just so fucking sweet and gentle and put him in a position and attitude to confront and stand up to Gellert fucking Grindelwald.

Granted, if Harry understood the story correctly, he originally didn’t know it was Grindelwald he was confronting but rather the at-the-time Director of Magical Security of MACUSA…but what research Harry had done into that guy, especially since he’d been dropped into the past, hadn’t really made him feel any better about the metamorphosis Newt must be slated to undergo to get from Newt-now to Newt-then.

Percival Graves, even just currently as a senior auror for MACUSA’s auror office in New York, was kinda a badass from all accounts, with a family name and impressive power to back him up when skill and talent weren’t enough on their own.

Standing up to that guy, who from the story had at the time been considered the US’s counter to Europe’s powerhouses in Dumbledore and Grindelwald, took just as much balls as to the magical president of MACUSA who held a legislative and administrative power on par with Graves’ legal and magical power – something else Newt was rumored to have done.

Somewhere, somehow, Newt would undergo a change that would take him from scared – or so it seemed – of other humans to willing to throw down in defense of what he cared about and the skill to back it up, at least to a point.

There wasn’t anything Harry could do about the path Newt’s life would take.

His burgeoning friend had free will and a heart for magical creatures that would lead him down the path he was destined for one way or another.

What he could do, he thought, was treat his desire to help and care and learn when it came to magical creatures as a serious vocation and not dismiss it as others around him seemed inclined to do if the mocking Harry had been witness to over the last month was any sign, and see what he could do to help him on his way and prepare him for what might come.

Harry had no way to know if Newt’s – or anyone’s – life would take the same path now that Harry had come and changed a few things intentionally let alone the ripples just from him existing.

He could, however, when it came to some things and some people, take an educated guess or two.

What he chose to do with that educated guess…well.

Much like Newt’s future path was up to him, that bit, like everything else relying on his knowledge of a potential future was up to Harry.

Isla Hitchens – much like Albus Dumbledore but without the mass of emotional baggage that the blue-eyed alpha brought to the forefront of Harry’s mind every time he saw him at a meal or in passing in the halls – was an infuriating, pushy, intelligent, manipulative harpy of an alpha.

She was also – much like Dumbledore – an excellent teacher when she wanted to be.

Harry’s frustrations with her aside, including having to give up part of his Saturday mornings for his apprenticeship studies that took place in a side-room of her brother, the Headmaster’s, office, he had to admit that she knew what she was doing.

More, she also knew when she was over her head and when to seek assistance in training him from her minions – she insisted they were her employees and excellent researchers but Harry wasn’t convinced – when he needed to learn things outside of her scope of knowledge and skill.

They sat down – once tempers had cooled and Harry had considered the ramifications of both ignoring her wishes and going along with them – and discussed literally everything either of them could think of to help him mitigate the worst of events he saw in the future.

There was a definite impact curve to consider.

Certain events were caused by far too many factors – or were simply too far in the past – for him to even try and prevent, forcing both of them to focus on mitigating damage for the worst of things instead of preventing it altogether.

So when Harry told her that the best thing they could do – the biggest impact he could have – was in battlefield medicine to save lives and in shielding and body armor to protect soldiers from being injured in the first place, Isla listened and then got him appointments at a munitions testing range to take readings on just how destructive mortar fire was or how hard a bullet actually impacted.  She taught him how to layer prepurposed spells to create enchanted items – like bandages – when medical care isn’t immediately available.  Taught him all about perception spells that range from Notice-Me-Not spells to avoidance wards to disinclination compulsions and more than he ever knew existed.

It was exhausting in ways that he didn’t think someone not experiencing it would understand: constantly dwelling on war, death, and human cruelty.

World War One was coming and nothing Harry could think of would stop it.

The best he could do with the knowledge he had was to try and help the soldiers on the ground, the civilians whose lives would be ended, ruined, or irrevocably changed throughout the world, and influence, as best he could, magical policy to prevent some of the major mishandling the wizarding world had practiced surrounding the war and everything that followed.

It was a large order, far larger than anything that had been put on him before, but it was his weight and burden to carry since the moment he decided to try and improve the future.

Saving Credence was one thing, something he absolutely was sure would have a positive impact.

Trying to save one hundred million more…now that was a task that made him quake with fear and insecurity.

He knew he was most likely going to fail.

Revolutions, wars, uprisings didn’t occur in a vacuum and took more than one idealistic wizard to stop them and the ravages they left in their wake.

All he could do was try and hope that in the end he had done something anything to make things just a fraction better than what he remembered.

He also knew that all his knowledge and plans and idealistic dreaming wouldn’t be worth anything if he exhausted himself with research and drove himself insane with paranoia over his choices and his what-ifs.

Occlumency helped more with keeping him grounded and sane than he could say, allowing him to lock away worries over the future when it wasn’t time to be working on that project that would never end for him, and focus on the now of snuggling with Teddy, helping Credence with his homework and wandless magic, and dodging Dumbledore’s pointed questions over his brother, Harry, Teddy, and Credence’s rather – by now – infamous familiar.

His wasn’t the hubris of someone who thought the fate of the world rested on his shoulders alone.

It was almost worse: that of someone who knew it didn’t but was determined to try anyway.

Sometimes, as Isla liked to wrinkle her nose and claim, he was quite disgustingly Gryffindor.

Hard as she tried to use it as an insult, he couldn’t help but smile over it anyway.

The first Hogsmeade weekend of the year meant Harry having back-to-back meetings with Isla on his research, Grythorn on both how the repairs on his properties were going and on how things so far for the sales of the shield charms produced by Enchantments by Peverell were going and then the business in general – though he’d been more relieved than he could say that between Isla and Grythorn they’d set him up with a law wizard to handle issues like patents and international wizarding trade laws – plus with his cousin Henry Potter over upcoming votes and laws and policies all to do with his Wizengamot and Lords’ Moot and Hogwarts governors seats.

Needless to say that by the time he returned from the rented room in the Three Broomsticks he’d been using for the meetings to his rooms at the school with a few sweets from Honeydukes and treats from the green grocer and pet store for Eris and Serenity to the sight of Teddy giggling and cuddled up to Credence who was making and controlling several glowing balls of different colored light – all wandless – all he could do was smile and feel all the stress that normally threatened to crush him outside of his rooms lift.

At five and a half months, Teddy had moved beyond rolling over and rocking on his hands and knees to a simple scooching maneuver that wasn’t quite crawling but definitely looked like a precursor to it – then nothing would be safe ever again from Molly’s stories – making him almost mobile.

While wizarding parenting books given to him by Hermione after he decided to have an active part in Teddy’s life said that some babies started in on their accidental magic early – and Sirius and Remus’s tales from when Harry was a baby certainly reinforced that – Andromeda had been clear that due to the magical draw his metamorphmagus powers took on his core, until he was closer to a year or even two old not to expect any accidental magic from him at all, as Nymaphadora hadn’t had any signs of magic outside of shifting her appearance until she was closer to the terrible twos.

Honestly, what had Harry a bit terrified of the coming milestones wasn’t that Teddy would become mobile or that his magic might start acting out – Harry apparently was a fan of summoning or floating his favorite plushie into his crib after lights out – but that he was going to start talking.

Soon Teddy would be naming things and forming words and labeling people…and the person he was going to call Da wasn’t Remus but Harry.

No one would say a word against it, Harry was the only father Teddy was going to know.

And from his own experiences of wanting parents but never having them, he knew how important it was that Teddy be comfortable and secure in the knowledge that Harry was his father.

That didn’t stop Harry from feeling a deep sense of guilt over him being there to be a father to Teddy but that Remus wasn’t and never will be.

He could try and tell Teddy stories about his parents, show him pictures, but it would never be the same.

Harry knew better than anyone that it was hard to truly mourn something or someone you’ve never known.  You could mourn the idea of them.  Of what might have been.  But the actual person became an abstract daydream not a soul deep wound that never left or healed or a languishing ache that flared up from time to time.

For Teddy, Remus and Tonks would only live on in Harry’s stories and a dozen or so charmed pictures Harry managed to create on top of the one in his wallet that followed them into the past.

Watching as Teddy giggled and laughed and smacked the glowing balls of light in the air, Harry grieved that Remus and Tonks weren’t around to see their son grow.

But at the same time, found it difficult if not impossible to mourn that he was able to be there and see and love and care for the orphan baby who became his son when he had no one else left in the world but a handful of shoestring relatives and a grandmother so deep into her mourning and who had lost so much that Harry found it hard to regret that being swept back in time had also swept away the timeline he came from.

At least Andromeda wouldn’t have to mourn yet more people she loved, and never would for any reason but natural causes if Harry had anything to say about it.

“Are you hiding from your schoolwork, Credence?”  Harry asked, always sure to use the name his brother chose to keep even though he was literally the only person outside of the DoM to do so.  Everywhere else he was Aurelius or Mister Peverell.  “Or are you all finished?”

“I just have a parchment for flying and broomstick care on the basic properties of wood to finish.”  Credence reported. 

Flying and Broomstick care was his last class of the week on Friday afternoons and Harry had been certain in his advice to do all of his homework – no matter how tedious – both in order received and as soon as possible.  As he’d watched his roommate and several of his housemates panic at the last minute to finish up because they got distracted reading some interesting book from the Ravenclaw private library or playing chess or researching something that had caught their interest from an assignment, he understood why his brother was so firm about not procrastinating.  A month into school and Credence had yet to panic over schoolwork or running out of time to do his required readings.  Maybe it was a difference from having his guardian there at school with him, but either way, he’d yet to get stressed over schoolwork, even when he’d needed help to understand something.

Little did Credence know that what had his schoolmates panicking over for assignments was considerably less homework and more reading/research assignments than what his brother had had to deal with for years before coming back in time.

It seemed one of the changes in curriculum, beyond subjects offered, regarded how things were taught.

Harry enjoyed that there was a great emphasis on personal responsibility, more like how Remus had taught, with the expectation that the professor would assign reading and then the onus was on the students to follow up rather than burying them under with problem and question parchments to ensure they at least skimmed the required information.

The professors in 1913 didn’t seem to give a damn, treating it as the responsibility of the student to ensure they did the work and not on the teachers to bury their students and themselves in busy work.

Since whether the student had done as told would out in the term, OWL, and NEWT exams anyway, the method made a lot of sense.

There certainly was more time for discussions, debates, and practicals that way as well.

“Good job, little brother.”  Harry praised, nodding firmly as he went over to his study desk to get to work on his own assignments that needed doing.  One thing he had not missed about school was the massive load of work they piled on in the NEWT-preparation years, even if with the differences in teaching it was much more heavily weighted towards readings and discussion than endless rounds of essays and question sheets.  “If you finish it tonight before bed we should be able to have a family picnic on the grounds tomorrow, familiars and all.”

Credence could not believe just how wrong his Ma had been about…everything really.

He’d always known that there was something a bit off with her and her crusade, the way people on the street would look at her when she spoke, although she could be compelling and command a crowd, was enough to tell him that something wasn’t right.

The way they muttered about her being mad or a zealot living in the past.

No one in New York City it had seemed believed in magic anymore – except, it seemed for his Ma.

According to the Book of Mary Lou Barebone, magic wasn’t just real, it was wicked and sinful and evil.  Witches were vile people who cavorted with devils and demons for their powers.  Who stole souls when selling their own was no longer enough.

When Harry had saved him, took him away from his Ma and brought him into a world of magic, Credence hadn’t known whether to be thrilled or terrified, often feeling both at once plus more emotions than he had any hope to control alongside the wickedness and stain of his sin.

Only, according to Harry Peverell, there wasn’t anything wicked or sinful about either magic or Credence.

But Harry wasn’t content to simply say that magic was natural and wonderful and more, he showed him and never lied about the bad side of magic either, being more open and honest with Credence than his Ma had done all his life.

Then there was Teddy…and, well, that was that.

School, then, was a shock to his system.

Credence had never had much hope of gaining an education and rising above the drudge of life as one of the Barebone foundlings, handing out pamphlets and holding a flag for his Ma’s crusade.

To see how casually witches took schooling was nearly a miracle in and of itself.

Madam Isla’s granddaughter Georgiana was in Ravenclaw with Credence, and his roommate Avery wasn’t a bad kind though he got caught up in reading quite often and forgot his essays or assigned reading often enough to drive their professors a bit wroth with him.

A thousand and more children his age and older attended just this one school for magic.

With them, along with a few people that for the first time Credence could call friends besides his brother, Teddy, and Rosie or even Eris and especially Serenity, were people who tried to take Harry’s attention away from Credence and their little family in one way or another.

And as these interlopers weren’t adults, Credence didn’t have to tolerate them nearly as politely as he’d done the people from the Department of Mysteries or their Potter kin.

Harry had saved his sanity, his magic, and his life; introduced him to a whole new world and his soulmate; and never once in all of that had he asked anything at all of Credence other than that he try his best to learn and harness his magic for himself.  Not for Harry.  Not for the DoM.  Not to be a better soulmate for Teddy or companion for Serenity or brother for Harry.  All Harry wanted for Credence was for Credence to do and be who he wanted.

What kind of brother and friend would Credence be if he didn’t repay that sort of selfless protection and love and support by being the best brother he could be?

Credence was an alpha, Harry and Teddy were omegas.  It was Credence’s role, his calling to protect them.  Especially from the older alphas, betas, and even omegas that came sniffing around his sweet, loving, selfless older brother reeking of their unclean, unwholesome interest and desires.

He knew lust when he saw and smelt it.

There were areas of New York near the church that had been rank with it as the working girls there plied their trades.

Over his dead body would any of the unworthy clods who talked filthiness behind his brother’s back while trying to drip sweetness in his ear would get a chance to defile and ruin his brother or force him into a “delicate” condition and force him to marry them for the sake of a child.

His brother would do it too.

For a child, for a baby like Teddy or even an older child like Credence or any of the other firsties, Harry always had time, always had smiles and soft hands and a readiness to help and answer questions.

His innocent, loving and lovely omega brother would not end up trapped like the old biddies at the church would talk about happening to unwary or foolish girls, would not be used for some knot-head’s unclean lusts.

And if that meant Credence having to be sneaky, use all the tricks the street children had taught him to protect him from them, then so be it.

For Harry, he’d do anything.

Though, even Credence in the midst of his protective furor caused whenever older students would flock around his brother, had to admit that not all of the older witches and wizards acted that way around Harry.

There were a handful or so that while they still were attracted or infatuated with his brother didn’t speak filth about him in dark corners or befoul the air with their flagrant desires.

Cousin Atty, being younger than Harry but like Credence also an alpha albeit one that was further along in the process of getting used to being a presented alpha instead of an immature alpha, came around quite often and as a result be brought his friends along with him.  The Head Girl, Isobel, blushed far too often, even just a lightly, around Harry for Credence to dismiss her as uninterested in his beautiful older brother.  Others like Rolanda Hooch, the seventh year female prefect from Gryffindor, and Faris Shacklebolt, another seventh year though from Slytherin, likewise tended to orbit Harry and Atty – but politely.

Harry had collected a couple of his own year-mates, though Credence thought that was more down to their interest in his and Credence’s familiars than in Harry himself, no matter how much Newt blushed.

Newt was just socially awkward around human beings, he always blushed when he was talking to people and not animals or creatures or his friend Leta, even Credence knew that.

So, after a lunch spent mostly keeping an eye on opportunistic upperclassmen around his brother, it was a relief for Credence when the gentle Hufflepuff came over, dragging his Slytherin shadow along as always, to talk to Serenity and Eris and about them with Harry and Credence, sketching and babbling all the while as Leta watched it all with amusement and Credence was at last able to let down his guard.

Newt might not act all bluff and blustering like a lot of alphas Credence had met so far, but he was one, Credence could tell from his scent.

He would be more than capable of protecting Harry if needed while Credence focused on helping search the tall early October grass for grasshoppers and horklumps and butterflies with Teddy.

With Newt around, with his soft eyes and gentle, hidden smiles, Credence didn’t feel the need to ensure the alpha didn’t take liberties.

Everyone else, for the most part, was suspect.

Chapter Text

Deliberate

Fifteen:

Winter

One thing Harry would never stop appreciating was how quickly and comfortably life fell into a routine every time he returned to Hogwarts for the Fall term.

Before he knew it October and November were over, Credence had officially turned twelve at a little party they had in Harry’s rooms, and they were cruising into December with break rapidly approaching.

He thought that this time: different name, no friends, different era, having a little brother and a son to look after, different subjects, all on top of everything going on outside of Hogwarts that he wouldn’t be able to find that this time.  That the warm comforting embrace of Hogwarts wouldn’t be able to soothe him this time.  That the ease and familiarity of the classtime-study-homework-meals routine wouldn’t kick in and direct him seamlessly through his days.

Harry was ecstatic to be wrong.

Yes, there were new challenges and new stresses.

But for the first time in his life he was able to learn and make the most of his education without any extraneous pressures or worries.  He could make friends – if he had the time or inclination – without being worried they were only interested in the Boy Who Lived.  He could watch over his brother and not worry, as he’d done at times with younger students, how it would look or what people might think of it.

All Harry had to worry about from September through the beginning of the Winter Break in December was school, Credence, Teddy, and his apprenticeship.

That was it.

Only four things, two of which were people in their own right and in the case of Credence at least able to semi able to care for himself (and Serenity to heckle him if he forgot things like bathing and eating) and in the case of Teddy, Harry had Rosie around and watching to ensure that Harry didn’t completely bollix up raising him.

However, he could say no matter how oblivious his darling ball of protective instincts and preteen rage that was masquerading as his little brother at the moment thought he was, he did miss the buffer that his fame and his few good friends had created around him previously.

Yes, he wasn’t the Boy Who Lived anymore and he was free to befriend and learn and behave as he wished without the mantle of expectations from everyone and their mothers looming over him.

Expecting him to be the Gryffindor Golden Boy and save them all – again and again and again.

The flipside of that was the reality that he didn’t have the protection that buffer of fame and expectation had offered him without him realizing it.

As he sat in the Great Hall two days before Winter break was set to begin, having sent off another alpha (this one a fifth year Gryffindor of all people) who’d tried stumbling his way through asking to court him as an available omega, Harry deeply missed Ginny’s quick wand with a bat-bogey hex or the ability to act completely oblivious to the rules and manners of pureblood society that he used to use quite effectively as a preventative against romance.

It hadn’t always been successful.

Both Romilda Vane with her love potions and Ginny Weasley with her persistence had proven that acting oblivious wasn’t always a shield against others’ romantic interest in him – or as he’d often suspected his name, status, and money.

Now all Harry had going for him was manners, his family, and a pair of protective familiars who he was pretty certain were colluding with Credence to keep the many many would-be swains away from him.

If Eris hissed and bared her fangs at one more knot-headed alpha who couldn’t take a hint, Harry was afraid that someone was going to complain to Professor Fawley, or worse the Headmaster, over her behavior and Harry’s seeming inability to keep her under control.

Having a younger brother who inherited Parseltongue via blood adoption wasn’t all sunshine and roses when he was able to convince Harry’s own familiar to aid and abet him in Credence’s campaign that Harry was relatively certain had been spawned in part from his natural possessive and protective alpha instincts that he hadn’t learned how to deal with and properly channel yet – yay, puberty and presentation, always a fun time – and his hero worship of Harry both as his brother and as his rescuer having resulted in the younger wizard putting Harry a bit on a pedestal and believing that none of Harry’s would-be swains were worthy of his time and attention.

And definitely not more worthy of his time and attention than his family.

Which, granted, Harry couldn’t really argue with the latter.

There was a reason he wore gloves after all, and it was only partially to do with the coming darkness of war hovering on the not-distant-enough horizon.

His rooms with Teddy became a refuge and – as they required speaking Parseltongue to access – an invitation there became somewhat coveted as he hid from amorous students with galleons in their eyes or ideas of becoming Consort or Lady Peverell dancing in their daydreams.

One person quickly came to gain a standing invitation, so much so that Harry instructed Serenissima, the Lamia portrait guarding his rooms’ entrance, to simply allow him in whenever he liked rather than having to wait for Harry or Credence to show up and let him in.

And that person was Newt.

Between his gentle patience with Teddy whenever he was around the baby or his genuine interest and appreciation for Eris and Serenity, his quiet instructions to Credence when the younger alpha asked for help on an assignment or his quiet confidence when he traded Harry herbology or potions help for a bit of tutoring in transfiguration or access to Harry’s muggle books on anatomy for their healing class or his set of Encyclopedia Britannica volumes for Newt’s muggle studies class (which even Harry hadn’t finished reading for all that Isla had bought them to bring him up to date on the muggle world), Newt was always a welcome addition to Harry’s rooms.

The inclination at first was very strong to compare Newt to Neville, the future magizoologist sharing many character traits and quirks with Harry’s godbrother, but the more Harry got to know Newt the more he was able to separate the caring, gentle alpha from the quiet but bold Gryffindor that Neville had developed into over the years.

Newt was his own person and deserving of Harry’s friendship and care in his own right and not out of lingering affection Harry carried for his lost friend – or friends, what with the copper red hair he boasted and freckles that gave him more than one pang for the Weasleys – and definitely deserved better than being a mere replacement.

Though it was easy to equate Newt with friends he’d known and lost, it took almost no time at all for the Hufflepuff to carve out his own spot among that slim number made all the better for Newt seeming not even trying to do so but just being himself.

Honestly, Harry didn’t think Newt knew any other way to be, no matter how often he got teased, bullied, or scolded to conform to “expected” behaviors of young alphas and/or pureblood wizards.

Harry genuinely appreciated that stubborn tenacity to be authentically himself no matter what it cost Newt or how others treated him for it, which was one of the early reasons he’d started inviting Newt to his rooms where he wouldn’t have to worry about such things.

Between the baby with the ever-changing hair and eyes, the twelve-year-old with a phoenix for a best-friend, and, well, Harry, Newt was probably the least strange person around when he decided to join them in their little refuge in the castle.

Which was why Harry wasn’t surprised in the least to watch as Newt detached himself from Leta’s side after their shared potions lesson on the last Friday before they left for break, the Slytherin girl – who Harry never could quite bring himself to like, a feeling very much returned when he failed to fall for any of her little, well-trained tricks to gain favor or force an underestimation of her – heading to her block of NEWT Charms with a third of the sixth years taking the subject.  Had Harry been continuing the subject at Hogwarts rather than taking his NEWT and entering an apprenticeship (on time despite having to be two years back on several subjects hence returning to school) he likely would have been placed in the third block without either Newt or Leta given his course load.  The two of Slytherins nodded cordially which Newt pouted over but acceded to being the best he could hope for from them after months of watching them play the chilliest of polite pureblooded dances though he never could quite figure out why two people he liked very much, a rarity, couldn’t deign to like each other.

He also wasn’t surprised to hear Newt hiss out a greeting to Serenissima – and then again to Eris – even though the Hufflepuff wasn’t a Parselmouth.

Newt had an ear for languages and animal sounds that was uncanny, Harry had heard him trilling up a storm with Serenity on more than one occasion or yipping, chittering, or what have you with whatever creatures the Care of Creatures professor introduced him to.

Though the most interesting to hear from a human throat, in Harry’s opinion, were the rumbling growls, purrs, and hisses that would be exchanged between Newt’s ancient kneazle familiar Pomp – who was a shabby thing of orange and black striping, perhaps the least haughty and auspicious feline Harry had ever seen in his life – and the sweet alpha.

Eris and Serenity both adored Newt, almost more than they did their companions (or Teddy, but everyone loved Teddy best so that was to be expected), and were endlessly patient with the lover of all things living but non-human (including a few plants, the Venomous Tentacula and the true Snapdragons both adored him when they would snap and bite at anyone else, favoritism was what it was, and Newt echoed it right back to the glorified shrubberies) whenever he sat down to do sketches of their plumage or the construction of their wings, the connection joint for Eris’s wings to her serpentine body, or the make of Serenity’s tail, or whatever-it-was that popped into his head to add to his notes.

Honestly, if Newt didn’t do his year-end term paper for Care on either phoenixes or quetzals, it would be a waste of all the time he’s devoted to the spoiled pair thus far that year.

Of course, Newt himself would never see it that way, which only made him ever more adorable as far as Harry was concerned.

“Oh, come now.”  Newt complained, albeit lightly, the Hufflepuff growing more comfortable with treating Harry casually after the first time he’d seen him covered in Teddy’s spit-up and Harry’s bland, unbothered reaction.  It was hard to keep a wizard, no matter how powerful, up on a pedestal after you’ve seen them having to wash-up thanks to baby-vomit.  Rather took the ethereal glow right off of his friend for him, thank goodness, which helped with his mooning about over him but made his affections run ever so much deeper at the proof of what a good wizard and omega, what a good person, Harry was, much like how the older boy never blinked so much as an eye at Newt’s babbling over creatures or when Eris would plop herself presumptively onto his head.  “You can’t have more reading to do for classes, we’re finished for the term!”

Save for some expected reading over the break, but that was hardly the sort of requirement that would have anyone, even someone with a class load like Harry’s, hitting the books when break has only just properly begun.

Newt hadn’t expected Harry to entertain him, he never did, but still seeing the wizard go straight for his little study desk where he could see and watch over all of the main room of his suite was a shock.

Teddy must be having his afternoon nap, as nothing else Newt thought would keep Harry from smothering the baby in smooches after a day’s studies from what he’d seen.

“We are,” Harry agreed with a sigh and a stretch after he hissed a greeting to Eris – who was curled up in front of the fire, the cold weather not quite sending her into brumation thanks to climate controls on the castle but certainly not helping her stay as active as she was in the warmer months.  “But I have my Mastery thesis project to work on and with the baby and the demands on my time over break I try and steal whatever snatches of moments I can to continue it now that I’ve decided on a direction.”

Masteries required a combination – depending on the magical subject or vocation – of practical demonstrations and theory work, which for Charms consisted of, as Isla had explained after taking him as her apprentice, both a series of three tests on increasingly difficult knowledge and a thesis essay that amounted to a book’s worth of writing and research that would then be vetted and defended before at least three Charms Masters, of which Isla could not be one though she was expected to arrange his panel when the time came.

“Oh?”  Newt perked up.  After care; herbology, potions, and charms were his best subjects.  Harry might have managed to nag him into attending a few magical law lectures and dueling practices, but unless it had to do with topics that interacted with his chosen vocation in some form he’d quickly scuttled subjects from his schedule to allow him time to maximize his focus on creatures before having to enter the work force.  He preferred to spend his time on things like Healing or Spell Weaving, as they knew so little about magical creatures and spells for say a crup won’t necessarily do for a niffler, rather than learning more about how to blast about with hexes in Defense or dusty old ancients in History of Magic.

He trusted that whatever subject his friend had found interesting enough to write pages and pages of parchment about would be actually interesting and not the dully dry nonsense only appealing to academics.

Harry nodded.  “I’ve identified a dozen useful charms that have fallen out of either common use or usage altogether,” that he knew some of them from his former access to the Black Library or the Marauders and their ability to research and repurpose charms for pranking was neither here nor there.  According to Remus, his father and Sirius had been especially fond of the oldest charms and potions they could find that were still at least borderline legal as few if any people were able to counter them.  “That still have modern applications.  I’m doing a section on each, their history, their creator or rumored creator, original purpose, later purposes, reason for their decline and usage, and their modern applications, including if they were replaced by similar and easier charms and why the original ones might be superior in general or in certain settings.”

Newt’s eyebrows had lifted higher and higher as his friend described his ambitious project.

But then: Harry for all his spurts of other House traits was a Slytherin.

Second only to Newt’s compassion for, really, all sentient beings (even if he did prefer the non-human ones because they were never intentionally cruel like humans) which had been lamented by everyone from his Prewett relations on down since he was a little boy barely more than a toddler, was his ever-rampant curiosity.

Yes, it mostly expressed itself when it came to creatures, there was simply so much that they didn’t know about them likely including rare species that hadn’t even been documented before hiding in the wild, but it wasn’t solely contained to his love of all things living so he had to ask, looking up from sketching the precise why Eris’s primary feathers extended and flexed:

“Like what?”

Harry thought a moment, mentally flipping through the charms he’d decided to focus on, then went with probably the most innocuous one that he couldn’t figure out why it had fallen out of favor other than the rise of wizarding painters.

His friend could probably do without a lecture on Unplottable and Fidelius Charms that while still known were rarely used, much like the Patronus for all that it was more impressive to most people.

No, he thought Rowena Ravenclaw’s visual recording charm would be right up the alley of an already skilled sketch artist whose ability regarding anatomical graphs and charts were the envy of almost every student in their – admittedly small in number, comparatively, Harry thought only alchemy had a smaller pool of interested students – Healing class.

Rising, he went over to the tea table by the fireplace where Newt had settled to work on his sketches of Eris who even for her favorite non-Peverell wouldn’t move an inch.  Reaching out, he snagged a blank piece of drawing parchment and pressed the tips of his fingers to it.  Like some classes of charms, mostly to do with physical changes like color-changing charms, this one required the touch of either a wandtip or in the case of someone skilled with wandless magic their fingertips.

Isla was working with him on not echoing wand movements in his wandless casting, but in this case it wasn’t viable to direct the magic to do what he needed without some form of touch involved.

Focusing on the scene he’d just been watching from across the room of Newt sketching the coiled form of Eris on stones laid out before the fireplace, he – for Newt’s enlightenment rather than need – verbally cast the spell:

“Recordari.”

Under his fingertips the parchment came alive, transferring the scene in full color as he’d seen it in his head onto the parchment in seamless black lines and rich color, far more vibrant than modern cartography charms, which were the only thing similar to this that he’d found in his research.

The charms that artists used to animate drawings and paintings and sculpture were an entirely different class altogether, though there were similarities.

Picture-Newt’s hand moved lightly across the parchment in the page with a piece of drawing charcoal in hand, light glinting a bit on his copper curls as he lifted his head now and again to study Eris, the drawing picture-Newt was completing little more than lines of shadow from across the room where in an actual sketch or magical painting it would likely be filled out and detailed.

“Merlin,” Newt breathed out, eyes wide at what he saw.  He’d never seen anyone, even in the extracurricular art classes he attended – as did young Aurelius – when he had time, do something like that before.  “It’s almost like those muggle photographs but in color!”

After growing up surrounded by photography plus shutterbug Colin Creevey at school, that photography was still new and other things like full color and surround sound movies were still only dreams was wild.

“It also isn’t necessarily true to life, though this one is close because of how fresh the scene is in my mind and my minor skill in Occlumency.”  Harry explained, quickly pointing out a few errors or places where edges were smudged or shadows were deeper than in real life as well as the missing form and detail of the Eris sketch Newt had been working on.  “Not really suitable for anatomical drawings or I’d never stop using it for our Healing assignments, but excellent otherwise for reference drawings.”

Or to create a drawing filled album of everyone he’s lost for one reason or another, including one specifically filled with every last memory of Remus and/or Tonks that he could think of for when Teddy was old enough to start wondering about his biological parents.

If he’d turned right around and made another that he’s steadily filling with childhood “pictures” of Teddy and Credence, that was his own business until they started dating…if they started dating.

He still wasn’t sure which way they’d go with being soulmates but he was banking blackmail material just in case.

“Show me.”  Newt demanded at once, no sign of awkwardness or wariness to be seen.

Harry smiled, showing a few more teeth than was polite.

“Only if you start taking the dueling tournament seriously and let me tutor you consistently in Defense.”  He told him firmly, explaining when Newt’s eyes went all wide and wounded-bambi on him.  “You’re determined to be a wizarding naturalist.  I can see that no matter what anyone says about it being a phase.”  Honestly, Harry had started getting a little offended on his friend’s behalf with how condescending most of the staff and almost all of the students were about his friend’s ambitions in that regard.  At this point in time it apparently wasn’t considered a “real” profession, much like people treated the majority of artists, actors, and writers in the future.  “It’s your vocation, it’s what you love…but what you love can lead you into danger.  I don’t want to get an owl someday ten years from now with word from the Congo or the Far East saying that you ended up on the wrong side of a criminal’s wand or a nundu’s teeth because you didn’t take your safety seriously.”

“Nundus don’t live in the Congo.”  Was all Newt really could think to say to that, blinking back startled tears of, well, relief more than anything.  Harry was probably the first person in his life outside of his brother who’d taken him so seriously and that…that meant a lot.  What it meant for him he wasn’t inclined to examine at the moment, thank you very much, lest his unfortunate infatuation with the stunning omega make an even more unfortunate comeback when he’d finally found himself able to enjoy Harry’s company without spending the entire time beet-red and bashful.  “They’re primarily savannah dwellers.”

Harry chuckled, softly shaking his head.

“Never change, Newt.”  Harry told him, a smile softening up the harsh edges of his fine bones picked out by the shadows cast by the fire in the grate.  “Do we have a deal?”

Newt sighed as if put upon, complete with rolling eyes then nodded and set Harry’s Recordari drawing aside, along with his own hand-drawn sketches of Eris.

“Now, show me how you did that.”  He reiterated.  “You can badger me about protective enchantments and dueling technique later.”

“Dueling technique is overrated.”  Harry immediately countered.  “Real life is never so neat and tidy as the dueling league rules would have you believe.  But,” he changed gears before Newt’s look could turn completely mulish.  “This is almost more like a transfiguration than a charm, you have to focus on the end result of what you want to create as much as you do the process…”

Credence came in sometime later to the sight of Newt gleefully casting Recordari on every sheet of drawing parchment he’d brought with him, ending up with drawings of everything from Eris’s growing process from necklace-length to her full size – as she’d shown off for the would-be magizoologist more than once – to Serenity in the midst of flaming into a room to Harry cuddling with Teddy.

Somehow, he wasn’t surprised by the turn of events in the slightest.

Credence held tight to Harry as the older wizard apparated them way from Platform 9 ¾.

Due to Teddy, Harry hadn’t joined Credence and the other students on the train, nor would he ever, instead apparating to their accommodations over break, a place Credence had never seen called Peverell Castle in Wales.

He’d already been assured that if he wanted to and they had no prior engagements with the Potters or Madam Isla’s family, he could Floo or portkey to his friends’ homes or have them come over.

Friends was a new concept for Credence – at least personally.

Harry was his friend but also his brother and his savior – not quite the same thing.

Credence paused a moment to let the dizziness of side-along apparation wear off, Harry swore he’d get used to it in time but Credence was still skeptical.

Eventually, however, he lifted his head and gasped.

Laid out before him like something from a picture book of fairy tales was a towering castle, nearly as big as Hogwarts he thought, made of warm tan and cream stone.  Lights shone in every window, some of them clearly stained glass, making for a welcoming sight as a light dusting of snow covered the grounds.  Trees were a shadow in the background, and off down the hill when he managed to tear his eyes away from the castle and look behind them a cheery village was likewise lit up and snow dusted.

“Is this…?”  He couldn’t believe it.  This couldn’t be home.  Not for someone like him.

“Yes, Credence.”  Harry smiled softly down at his little brother’s yearning face, a sense of peace and rightness washing over him.  Stuck in the past, forced to make decisions he wouldn’t wish on anyone, it was all to easy to let the stress of it all bury him under.  All it took during those times was a glance at Credence – happy, healthy, thriving Credence – and all of that washed away leaving behind a sense of love and protection so strong it could power a hundred Patroni.  “This is home.”

“Home.”  Credence breathed, turning and looking back up at the lit-up castle where Rosie and Teddy and their familiars were waiting for him.  “Home.”