Now the doors were slamming all along the scarlet train, and the blurred outlines of parents were swarming forwards for final kisses, last-minute reminders. Albus jumped into the carriage and Ginny closed the door behind him. Students were hanging from the windows nearest them. A great number of faces, both on the train and off, seemed to be turned towards Harry.
“Why are they all staring?” demanded Albus, as he and Rose craned round to look at the other students.
“Don’t let it worry you,” said Ron. “It’s me. I’m extremely famous.”
Albus, Rose, Hugo and Lily laughed. The train began to move, and Harry walked alongside it, watching his son’s thin face, already ablaze with excitement. Harry kept smiling, and waving, even though it was like a little bereavement, watching his son glide away from him…
The last trace of steam evaporated in the autumn air. The train rounded a corner. Harry’s hand was still raised in farewell.
“He’ll be alright,” murmured Ginny.
“As Harry looked at her, he lowered his hand absent-mindedly and touched the lightning scar on his forehead.
“I know he will.”
The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.
Harry turned as Ginny took Lily’s small hand in hers and began to lead her toward the portal back to Kings Cross station. He shivered suddenly and the hairs stood up on the back of his neck. A sense of unease came over him, the disquieting feeling that something wasn’t right. His eyes scanned the rapidly emptying platform 9 ¾, searching for the source of his discomfort.
A silence fell as the final families left the platform leaving the Potters and the Weasleys alone. A slight breeze, making the first leaves of autumn skitter along the ground, ruffled Harry’s untidy black hair.
“Harry?” Hermione stepped away from Ron and walked closer, concern showing in her eyes as she watched him scan their surroundings. “Is everything OK?”
Harry glimpsed movement in his peripheral vision and turned towards a figure in a long black cloak, face concealed inside a deep hood, who had stepped out from the shadows of an archway. A wand raised in one hand, the other pushing the hood back to display a sallow, sunken face, changed by years of exposure to the Dementors of Azkaban but recognisable to Harry nonetheless. How could he fail to recognise the person who almost stole his best friend from him?
“Dolohov” Harry whispered. Hermione spun on the spot, a moment of fear in her eyes as she caught sight of the Death Eater that gave her the scar on her chest. Her hand rose to touch it, remembering the pain as the dark curse had struck her.
Doholov smiled at the pair as he whispered the words almost lovingly. His voice practically caressing the syllables…
A blinding flash of green light.
A scream of terror from Ginny as she held Lily close to her, shielding her eyes from what was unfolding in front of them.
A shriek of “Mummy!” from Hugo, being held tightly in the arms of his father. Ron’s mouth open in disbelief.
And the terrible rushing sound as the unforgivable curse struck home.
Harry opened his eyes and blinked at the bright mist that surrounded him as he lay once more on the hard, white floor of the Kings Cross station that was located somewhere between the world of the living, and that of the dead. He recognised where he was immediately, the visit he had paid to this location 19 years ago wasn’t one he would ever forget.
He sat up slowly, taking in his surroundings once more. Harry was relieved that there was no small, shuddering, whimpering bundle in sight this time but couldn’t understand how he could possibly be here again? The shard of Voldemort’s soul that had been embedded in his scar was long gone, and Harry’s blood that had once flowed through Voldemort’s veins could no longer be anchoring him to life.
The sound of footsteps echoed in the silence and Harry stood to face whoever was approaching.
“Potter,” a voice growled. “What the hell are you doing here? Didn’t you learn anything from me? CONSTANT VIGILANCE”
Harry twisted to look at Alastor Moody. His face was whole, as it had been in the Dumbledore’s pensieve memories, without the chunk missing from his nose courtesy of Evan Rosier or the magical eyeball whizzing around in its socket. Missing too was the fake leg ending in the clawed foot that was a familiar part of the Moody of Harry’s past, instead his real leg was firmly in its place.
“Mad Eye? Where am I?”
“You know where you are Potter. You know what happened for you to get here. The real question is how the hell did you let it?”
“It was Dolohov,” said Harry defensively. “He was in the shadows…” Harry trailed off. “Oh my god. Ginny… Lily!... I’ve got to get back to them!”
“There’s no going back to them now” uttered Moody softly. “That life is no longer open to you.”
“But my family! Ginny. James. Albus. Lily!” Harry felt a pain deep within him. Tears streamed down his face and he fell to the floor once more, heartbroken and drawing deep shuddering breaths between sobs.
“What about Hermione? She was stood right next to me when…”
Moody shook his head slightly.
Harry pulled his knees up to his chest. He struggled within himself, trying to take everything in.
Moody crouched down next to him and lay a hand on his shoulder. “You can’t go back to them Harry,” he said softly “but you do have a choice to make.” Harry looked up at him through watery eyes. “Dumbledore once offered you the chance to get on a train here and go onwards.” continued Moody. “You could do that, or you could take the second option. It’s not the easy choice and you’ll experience more pain, hardship and betrayal, but you’ll have the chance to do things differently. To make decisions that could save lives and lead to a better future.”
Harry inhaled deeply, calming himself. When he had gained control of himself once more, he asked “what do you mean?”
“You can be sent back. Not your body but your mind, your memories and your experiences. Back to a time where you can make a difference.”
“How far back would I go?” asked Harry, the possibilities beginning to unfurl in his mind. The lives he could save… Fred, Remus, Tonks, Sirius, Cedric… maybe even…
“You won’t be able to protect your parents,” said Moody. Harry’s heart fell as the brief glimmer of a life unlived was snatched away from him, “but you could save hundreds of other lives. You can go back and change things for the better.” Moody paused for a moment.
“In the 19 years after you defeated Voldemort can you honestly say things have moved on in the Wizarding world? Sure, there was a little progress while Kingsley was Minister, but once the old factions started pumping their galleons back into the process everything went back to how it was before. The same old hatreds and pureblood beliefs that they were destined to rule exist today, just as they did when Voldemort rose to power.”
Moody looked into Harry’s eyes. “You need to go back Potter. I’m not allowed to tell you much of the future but I can tell you this. If this course of events isn’t changed, within the next quarter of a century a new Dark Lord will begin their rise to power. Motivated by the hatred of the way their friends were ostracised and trodden on by those in who claimed to be above them. Eventually this person will cause the shattering of the statute of secrecy leading to all-out war between magicals and muggles, and the eventual destruction of the world as we know it.”
Moody paused again. “I know what I’m asking of you. What we’re all asking of you.”
Harry turned slowly to see they were no longer alone. Behind him stood the figures of those who had fallen due to the two wars with Voldemort. There were those he only recognised from photos - the Prewett brothers, the Bones family and the McKinnon’s. Those who were, or should have been, friends - Frank and Alice Longbottom (who had passed away shortly after Neville took up his role as Professor of Herbology at Hogwarts), Ted Tonks, Fred, Cedric, Colin and Lavender. And finally his family. Remus and Tonks, Sirius, and stood in front of all of them, his mother and father.
“Mum? Dad?” Harry whispered.
“Hello Son” James said as he and Lily pulled Harry into a tight hug.
Hi all - thanks for the feedback I've received so far. This one has an awful lot of conversation in it, apologies if that's not your thing but it was necessary to move things forward.
Once again, please R&R
Eventually, with great reluctance, Harry stepped back from his parents.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished I could do that.” Harry croaked as he looked at his Mum and Dad through watery eyes.
“We know sweetheart,” said Lily in a wobbly voice, barely holding back tears of her own “we both wish we could have been there for you. We’re so proud of you, all you’ve done and accomplished in spite of everything.”
Harry’s heart swelled with happiness. To hear his parents were proud of him was something he’d only imagined in his wildest dreams.
Mad-Eye stepped forward once more “I hate to break this up, but we need to get started.”
James nodded and his voice was thick with emotion as he spoke. “There are things you need to know son before going back and plans we need to make. I’m sorry to say some of these things are going to hurt. I wish we could avoid them, but you need to know.”
Harry looked around at the solemn faces of his extended family.
“Harry,” said Sirius, reaching out and grasping his shoulder gently with his hand “you’re going to want to sit down for this.” Harry sat cautiously on one of the benches lining the platform of the station that was not Kings Cross. Sirius took a deep breath. “The Summer after I died, before your sixth year at Hogwarts, you were at The Burrow… that’s where you first began to realise you had feelings for Ginny right?”
“Yeah, we spent a lot of time together that Summer. Things just sort of clicked and it was the first time I noticed her as a girl rather than as Ron’s sister – “ Harry hesitated, wondering what Sirius was alluding to.
“Harry, that was the also first time Molly Weasley added a ‘little something extra’ to your food. Well three ‘little somethings’ to be precise.”
“What do you mean?”
“Mild jealousy and love potions and a mild repulsion draught. All in low doses so as not to arouse suspicion but – “
Harry jerked upright, anger beginning to flicker in his eyes. “What are saying Sirius? That mine and Ginny’s entire relationship was based on lies? My family only existed because I was drugged?”
Sirius pressed on despite Harry’s interruption, continuing in a low voice. “The jealousy and love potions were keyed to Ginny, just enough to make you notice her “as a girl and not as Ron’s sister” as you put it, and the repulsion draught was keyed to…”
“Hermione” Harry said hoarsely, a jarring realisation hit him causing him to drop back onto the bench with a thud. “If what you’re saying is true it would explain why things were so different between us that year. We were always so close, when she got hurt at the Ministry and I thought I’d lost her I didn’t know what to do, I just kind of shut-down and then Neville said she was alive, and I could breathe again. She stood by me throughout everything, even when the entire school was against me in fourth year, only to blow up over a Potions textbook?”
Remus spoke softly. “Molly had decided that you and Hermione were going to be a part of ‘one big happy Weasley family’ and resolved to help things along. Hermione was dosed too – potions keyed to Ron and yourself.”
“But Ginny and I have been together for nineteen years. She can’t have been plying me with potions the entire time, it’s just not possible.” Harry protested.
Remus sighed and sat down next to Harry. “Knowing that you were going to be away with just Ron and Hermione for a time, and knowing how unreliable her youngest son could be, Molly decided she needed a more ‘regulated’ solution than potions.” Remus paused and looked at Harry.
“On your 17th birthday the Weasley’s gifted you with a watch that used to belong to Molly’s brother Fabian. That watch was spelled to ensure your continued attraction to Ginny. As you never remove it for any length of time, you’ve never been free of its influence.”
“What about Hermione?”
“Her engagement ring,” Remus said simply. “When Molly heard about how close you and Hermione had gotten without Ron around, she wasn’t happy. She encouraged Ron to propose as soon as he could following the end of the war and made sure that the ring received the same treatment as your watch.”
Harry looked up, dreading the answer to the question he knew he had to ask.
“Ginny and Ron. Did they know what was going on?”
James sighed as he answered. “We don’t know how much they knew but they had to have known something. Molly had been guiding them toward you since before you even started at Hogwarts. She filled Ginny’s head with stories about ‘The-Boy-Who-Lived’ and things only escalated once you saved Ginny from the Chamber. She made sure Ron knew you’d be at Hogwarts and in need of friendship. She knew you would be at the station and wouldn’t know how to get onto the platform, hence the frankly ridiculous question she boomed at Ginny that day. She attended Hogwarts for 7 years, and had 5 sons already educated there – how did she not know which platform to use? The Express has always run from that platform.”
Harry took a moment to try to process this. He frowned.
“Hang on – you said she knew I wouldn’t know how to get onto the platform?”
“And now we come to the second problem – Albus Dumbledore.”
“Dumbledore was a great Wizard Harry,” Lily said quietly “and it wasn’t as if he was turning dark, but toward the end of his life all he focussed on was the greater good, ignoring the fact that all of his meddling and manipulation impacted real people. Because of that damn prophecy he involved himself in your life much more than you realised. You already know that he’s the reason you had to live with my sister but that was never what we wanted for you – we knew how Petunia felt about magic and so our will was very clear that you were to be nowhere near them growing up.”
“So how did I end up there?” Harry asked, a glint of anger in his eyes.
“Dumbledore sealed our will and ensured you went where he felt you would be best protected from the Death Eaters and Voldemort if he returned. I’m afraid there’s more though Harry, he knew how you were treated there. Oh, he felt bad about it at times and had to turn up on several occasions to heal your wounds and injuries to avoid raising suspicion – obliviating you afterwards -, but he always believed you would be better off away from the magical world regardless of the cost to you.”
Harry sat in silence and listened as his family explained how Dumbledore had controlled him in the belief that it was worth giving up one life to protect many more. Harry felt he probably would have agreed but the fact that these decisions, that had intricately affected him and him alone, were snatched from his control filled him with rage. It was as if everything he had known and believed in had been pulled out from under him. A sickening feeling washed over him as he mentally recounted his dealings with Dumbledore.
“I trusted him. He played with me like a puppet on a string and made me into the pliable little martyr he needed. I knowingly walked into a trap and was killed because of him!” Harry stood now, shaking with anger at the manipulations that had plagued him almost his entire life. “He kept so much to himself, only handing out pieces of information when he felt like it. Did he honestly believe he was the only one that could deal with the horcruxes? What the hell was he thinking passing the task of destroying an incredibly powerful dark wizard to three teenagers who hadn’t finished their education let alone received any special training…”
“I can’t do this… I need…” Harry turned and walked away from those that had gathered around him.
Harry walked without direction. He was unsure how much time had passed as he tried to grasp the magnitude of everything he had learnt, but eventually footsteps behind him made him aware he was no longer alone.
“How are you doing son?” James asked.
“It’s just… so much to take in Dad. My entire life was based on lies.” Harry said flatly.
“Not all of it. You had a few good, true friends, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, knowing what I know now, looking back I wish I’d spent more time with them y’know? Neville, Luna and Hermione really stuck by me. Fred and George too, they always helped keep me grounded.” A small smile tugged at the corners of Harry’s mouth.
“Are you ready to talk? We need to do some planning before you go back.”
Harry took a deep breath and stood a little straighter. “Sure. Let’s go.”
Harry and James returned to the group. Lily was missing but Harry was reassured to learn that she would return before he left.
“OK,” said James. “You’ve got 3 tasks when you arrive. Save the lives of your friends, get rid of Voldemort again, and stop a new Dark Lord from gaining power, understand?” Harry gave a quick nod of assent and motioned for his father to continue.
“First off let’s talk about the limitations. You’ll be returning with all your knowledge up to the time you were hit with that curse, plus everything you’ve heard here, but your magical core isn’t going to be mature enough for you to start throwing around Auror level spells from the outset – you’re going to need to allow yourself to adapt to your magic again. It’ll definitely be frustrating at first but without the horcrux draining your power you should find you strength builds fairly rapidly.”
James waited for Harry to indicate his acceptance. “Good, secondly you can’t let anyone know you’ve travelled from the future. If the wrong people find out it’s likely you’ll be sent through the veil and there’ll be no coming back from that. The Ministry controls time travel tightly to make sure no-one can cause serious damage to the existing order of things. They strictly regulate travel of a few hours, can you imagine what they’d do if they knew you’d travelled almost three decades?”
“I’d add that I think it goes without saying that Dumbledore must not be aware?” said Remus with a smirk. Harry didn’t speak and merely gave him a pointed look.
“Finally, and this will be a toughie, you’re going to need to make as few impactful changes as possible at first and allow the first few years at Hogwarts to play out as close to the original way as you can. There are actions that, if made too early, will change the future drastically to the point where all your future knowledge will become redundant and you’ll be flying blind.”
“That includes getting me out of Azkaban early I’m afraid pup” Sirius said. “As much as I’d love you to spring me from there the moment you get back, if you do so Wormtail will run sooner and Voldemort may come back in a different way.”
“Fine,” said Harry gruffly, disappointed he wouldn’t be able to reunite with Sirius any sooner. “So what can I do?”
The Marauders grinned at each other. “How would you feel about pranking the entire of Wizard society?”
A/N: Another chapter so quickly! I'll apologise in advance, I'm not going to be keeping up this schedule of posting 3 times in 4 days but I had most of this pre-written. I'll certainly be keeping this story alive however.
Thank you all again for your reviews and follows. I really appreciate you all taking the time.
Harry grinned, meeting the eyes of his father and friends and seeing a mischievous glint reflected back at him. “What did you have in mind?”
“All in good time pup!” laughed Sirius, pleased to see Harry so eager to get involved. “First we need to talk about the changes you’re going to make. Dumbledore kept this quiet as he needed you to be entirely reliant on him if his plans were going to work, but I’m sure you realise you’ve got a bit of a profile in the Wizarding World?” Sirius smirked at Harry and threw him a wink.
Harry rolled his eyes “Yeah, as if I could forget. I tried to ignore it as much as I could but…”
Sirius interrupted him, “This time you need to embrace it. Grab it with both hands and make it work for you.” Harry felt pretty uncomfortable at the thought of this, he’d actively spent two thirds of his life trying to avoid public attention and nearly every time he’d failed at that task it had backfired on him spectacularly. Even years later he hadn’t forgotten the denigration and smearing he’d taken from the press after announcing Voldemort’s return following the Triwizard Tournament.
“I know what you’re thinking but hear us out,” said James quickly. “You’re in a truly unique position here – saviour of the Wizarding World, experienced in the Muggle world and, lest I forget, heir of 3 old families with votes on the Wizengamot…” James trailed off, a broad smile on his face as he allowed Harry a moment to comprehend the possibilities this presented.
“Part of the problem you had at school last time was that you didn’t present yourself how others expected. The purebloods didn’t know what to make of you as they knew your status but you didn’t behave as they anticipated, and everyone else saw you as aloof or intimidating, shying away from attention outside your comfort zone. You had a couple of close friends and didn’t really make any effort to expand that circle. This time round you’ve got to change that.”
“But I don’t care what others think of me” protested Harry.
“An admirable position to take,” agreed Remus “and one that we all fully believe in, but in this case of absolutely no help to you whatsoever. I’m not saying don’t be yourself, or change who are you inside, but in order to make a difference to society you need to be accepted into it in the first place.”
James now took over “Which leads us nicely onto our first change. When you return you need someone to help you learn Wizarding customs so you aren’t going in blind and can begin to forge the relationships you’ll need in the future. You need to get away from the Dursley’s as soon as you can and reach out to Andromeda Tonks – as a former member of the Black family she’ll be able to help you navigate the Wizengamot and give you those lessons in etiquette you so clearly need. As an bonus you can stick it to Dumbledore by making her your proxy.” He added with a wink.
Harry knew and loved Dromeda from the time they spent together with Teddy Lupin and knew he could trust her. “How would that effect Dumbledore?” he asked curiously.
“As your magical guardian he currently controls your votes on the court. Get to Gringotts as soon as you can, accept your roles as heir and ask Dromeda to stand in Dumbledore’s place.”
Harry pondered this for a moment. “OK – so controlling my own votes is going to help us pass or change the laws we need and put a block on anything we don’t want. But I’ll only have a few votes out of, what, 50 or so? How do we get anything done from there?”
“Change number two Harry”
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN I CAN’T BE IN GRYFFINDOR?”
“He’s taking it well then.” said Lily as she reappeared next to James. “Listen sweetheart – there’s a good reason. With everything that was going on you probably didn’t realise this last time around, but in addition to you, your year group at school contained ten potential heirs to their houses with an eleventh joining the following year. If you can ally with some or all of those heirs, together you can bring about some real change.”
“Why can’t I do that from Gryffindor? I can make…” a sudden comprehension dawned on Harry’s face. “Some of the heirs are in Slytherin.”
“Correct,” nodded Remus “and there’s little chance of getting any cooperation there with the depth of animosity between the two houses.”
“I’m not going to be in Slytherin” said Harry in a disgruntled tone.
“You’d have the same problem. It’ll have to be Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. You could use the reputation of Ravenclaws to hide your future knowledge - you’d be expected to be ahead of the curve there so the fact you’ve done all your lessons once before should be concealable – and no-one would think twice of a Hufflepuff reaching out to students in other houses. Either would suit your purpose.”
Harry contemplated this. He’d knew it was likely the Sorting Hat would be able to tell he’d been there before once the sorting began. Perhaps he could take the hat’s advice?
“Fine” sighed Harry. “Is that not going to cause issues with the whole ‘no big changes’ thing though?”
“You’ll be OK. Being in Gryffindor has no impact on anything major in your first few years, though you will have to get used to new Quidditch team mates.” smiled James
“I suppose there is a silver lining. No more 4 AM strategy sessions with Oliver Wood.”
The bright, white mist that lay around the platform lingered in the same state as it had been when he arrived. Harry and his family discussed his plans. He knew that he wouldn’t be able to stay much longer and sensed that the time of his return was approaching rapidly.
“What about the Horcruxes?” Harry asked.
“Well,” Remus replied, “you know where they all are now so you can begin to collect them as you see fit. You no longer have to worry about the one in your scar and Voldemort won’t turn Nagini into one until he kills Bertha Jorkins in your fourth year. I would seriously recommend speaking to the Goblins this time though rather than breaking in and riding out on a dragon?” There was a general chuckle of amusement from the group.
“Remember though son, you don’t have to deal with them entirely on your own. Reach out for help – there’s other magic in the world than that wielded by Wizards. Dumbledore made the entire thing much harder than it needed to be by keeping everything so hush-hush. Not everyone can be trusted but that’s no reason not to trust when it’s warranted.” James stopped, plainly thinking of his own mistake trusting Peter Pettigrew to be their secret keeper. “Just be sure OK?”
“I will Dad.” Harry agreed. “So at what point will I be re-entering my life?”
“When you wake you’ll be 8 years old again.” said Lily. “That should give you ample time to prepare for Hogwarts. I believe you’ll have been caught on the school roof the previous day…”
Harry vividly remembered the beating Uncle Vernon had given him when he’d got home from school for his ‘freakishness’ when Harry couldn’t explain how he got up there in the first place. A couple of cracked ribs, a whipping that left marks covering his back and two black eyes. He knew he was going to be sore in the morning.
His mother winced and a look of rage crossed her face as she realised what Harry was recalling. “I’m sorry sweetheart. If I could spare you that pain…”
“It’s fine mum, I understand. It’ll be a good excuse for some accidental magic anyway.” Harry winked in an attempt to lighten the dark mood that had fallen.
A tingling sensation began in Harry’s fingers and toes and began to slowly spread throughout his body. “I think it’s time.” he said quietly.
“Come here son.” James and Lily pulled Harry into a tight embrace, trying to communicate their feelings to him through that simple act of contact.
“Never doubt that we love you Harry.” Lily spoke, unable to prevent the breaking of her voice as James gave him an extra squeeze to emphasise the words.
“We’ll see you soon pup.” Sirius and Remus smiled at him.
The figures of those that had greeted him upon his arrival faded back into view, as though they were giving him their blessing ahead of his return. One stepped forward.
“Remember Potter – CONSTANT VIGILANCE!” Moody’s voice rang out around the platform and Harry gave a short burst of laughter before everything faded to black.
A/N: Thank you all again for your continued comments and support. I'm very grateful that you're taking the time to read this and seem to be enjoying it!
A word of caution for this chapter - it contains descriptions of injuries caused by child abuse
Harry awoke in agony. A burning ache encompassed the entirety of his back while the sharp stabbing in his side made sure he was fully cognizant that at least a couple of his ribs were broken. He tried to take a deep breath and almost passed out from the pain.
Harry groaned and made an attempt to rise from the small, thin mattress he slept on in his ‘room’, the cupboard under the stairs at number 4 Privet Drive. One of his eyes was swollen shut and blood had dripped down from a cut on his forehead, drying in his eyelashes and obscuring his vision. Even though he knew he would need time to adjust to his 8 year old, malnourished body again he knew that something was wrong with his left arm as it dangled uselessly at his side.
He tried to remember this incident from his original life but found that the details were unclear. He realised that this must have been one of the occasions where Dumbledore had healed him before wiping his memory, and knew that if he were to escape he needed to do it soon before his future Headmaster made an appearance.
Wincing, Harry put on his glasses and shuffled closer to the door. He pushed, relieved to find that Uncle Vernon hadn’t locked it after throwing him carelessly into the cupboard the night before. A faint glow in the hallway suggested the early morning sun was beginning to peer over the rooftops of Privet Drive and he knew that his Aunt and Uncle would be waking soon. He dragged himself into the hallway and using his one good arm, he slowly began to pull himself upright with the help of the radiator, not noticing the blood dripping from the wound that had reopened on his forehead and staining the cream carpet that his Aunt was so fastidious about keeping clean.
Finally upright Harry paused to cough quietly into his hand. The pain in his side flared and he reached out to steady himself, leaving part of a bloody handprint on the floral wallpaper that lined the hall. He gathered his strength and limped slowly towards the front door. A grunt from upstairs and the sound of a bed creaking pushed Harry to more speed, and ignoring the torturous feeling throughout his body, he reached his destination. Silently Harry turned the key and, easing the door open, he staggered out into the brisk morning air. Heavy, ponderous footsteps began to echo through the floorboards, indicating that his Uncle had awoken and Harry pulled the door quietly shut.
He knew he needed to get help as soon as possible – his head was spinning and he felt as though he would pass out at any moment. Knowing he had no intention of ever returning to this place that had been more of a prison than a home he glanced back once more, just in time to see the shadow of a figure pass the window of his Aunt and Uncle’s bedroom. He turned on the spot, the motion causing waves of agony throughout his body once more, and apparated away.
Harry hadn’t ever really like apparition – the feeling of being forced through a very tight rubber tube was never particularly comfortable but when injured as badly as he was it was almost unbearable. Stumbling as his ankle gave way under his weight he hobbled forward, not recognising the location he had arrived in. It was a dingy street lined with dilapidated brick houses. A tall chimney belonging to a factory or a mill was just visible in the distance and a row of broken streetlights did little to help the early morning sun as it struggled to provide some illumination to the road. Harry staggered again, this time falling and thumping against a door that had paint peeling from it and appeared worn with age. He shuddered, briefly closing the eye that was not swollen shut as he tried to gather than strength to apparate again to a more familiar locale. There was a sudden sensation of weightlessness and then pain rocketed through his body as it made contact with the hard floor beneath him. Harry screamed at the impact and just caught a glimpse of a tall figure standing over him before he passed out.
The owner of the house was a tall, thin man whose very demeanour actively discouraged visitors to his home. Fortunately for Harry he was also a Wizard. He had woken a couple of hours previously and had been finishing a few tasks before preparing to head to work, so was awfully surprised to hear a thump on his front door.
Shock and outraged filled his very being as, upon opening the door, a small child collapsed into the hallway. The child screamed as he hit the ground before immediately passing out. It was clearhehad been beaten to within an inch of his life and so the broken, emaciated body of the young boy was carefully gathered into comforting arms and delicately moved into the house.
The man moved swiftly. Based on a cursory examination as he climbed the stairs he knew time was of the essence. Despite this, he gently and tenderly lay the boy on his bed and picking up his wand from the bedside table, began to cast spells over the limp figure, attempting to determine the extent of the injuries. He was sickened that someone would do this to a child and unwanted memories of his own childhood floated to the forefront of his mind unbidden. He swore out loud and promised himself that this boy would not suffer any further. He would do whatever he could to protect the tiny, ruined figure he’d taken into his home.
Sensing the life force in front of him begin to wane he moved immediately into the adjoining bathroom where he selected a number of potions that would help fortify the child. Walking faster now he went back into the bedroom and cautiously lifted the boy’s head, cradling it in his lap and slowly trickling the potion into his mouth. He massaged the boy’s throat, encouraging him to swallow and murmuring words of comfort in a low voice. The boy began to respond and his eye fluttered open.
“I need help. Perhaps Dumbledore…” whispered the man but the boy’s hand shot out and grabbed him, an action that would have certainly caused him pain - confirmed a moment later by a groan.
“Not… Dumbledore…” he begged, clearly struggling to speak. “He knows…”
“What does he know?” the man asked.
“About the beatings…” the boy shuddered.
The man sat back, still lightly supporting the boys head. How did he know Dumbledore? “What’s your name?”
“Harry Potter” said the boy, finally passing out again as the potions began to take hold.
Severus Snape carefully stood, allowing Harry’s head to rest softly back on the pillow, and felt a burning rage inside. Lily Evan’s son lay devastated on the bed and Dumbledore knew it was happening. He thought back to his previous vow of protection and knew that, even for the spawn of James Potter, he would not allow this to continue.
After checking him over once more and ensuring that Harry was responding well to the potions. Snape turned and left the room.
Snape poured himself a large shot of Firewhiskey and sat heavily in his armchair, involuntarily recalling the beatings his own father had inflicted upon him as a child. He swirled the amber liquid in the glass and watched the flames flickering in the fireplace then, knocking back the drink in a single swallow, he stood, took a small pinch of powder from the jar on the mantle and knelt to make a floo call.
Madam Pomfrey was checking her stock of potions when she heard a voice calling from her office. Poking her head through the door she was surprised to see the face of Severus Snape peering back at her from the fireplace.
“Good morning Severus – how can I help you?” she asked politely.
“Poppy, I need your help and you must keep this a secret – no-one can know, not even the Headmaster.” Snape’s tone of voice did more to rouse her concern that his words. “There was a knock at my door this morning. When I opened it a small boy collapsed into my hallway. It’s clear he’s been severely beaten and I’m afraid he’s close to death.”
Madam Pomfrey’s instincts as a healer kicked in immediately. “Give me 2 minutes Severus then I’m coming through.” She withdrew from her office and proceeded directly to the potions cabinet where she withdraw a range of potions to cover as many eventualities as possible – not knowing what she would find when she reached the child. A minute and a half later she was climbing out of the fireplace in the home of Severus Snape.
Snape showed her to his room and she couldn’t help the sob that escaped her lips when she saw the small, frail, battered body of a boy that, from his size, appeared to be no older than six years old. “Who did this to him?” she growled angrily.
“I’m not sure Poppy,” sighed Snape. “He woke for a few moments – just long enough to beg me not to call the Headmaster and to tell me his name.”
“Well? Who is he?”
This time Madam Pomfrey was unable to stop the cry of despair as she looked down at the boy-who-lived. She took a moment to gather herself then began to unpack her bag. “I’ll need you to start brewing Severus,” she stated calmly. “Strengthening solutions, pain-relief potions and dreamless sleep please. I have some with me but I fear I don’t have enough.” Snape nodded and exited the room, heading for his personal potions lab while Poppy began the long and painful process of attempting to reconstruct the body of the saviour of the Wizarding world.
AN: Hi again - a little delay in getting this chapter out as I was laid up ill for the last few days. All better now though so ready to crack on.
I've got another couple of chapters to go before we'll take a time jump to the year Harry is due to start at Hogwarts, I'm eager to get to the school years but there's still some set up to do yet! I'm averaging about 1650 words per chapter at the moment and I usually try to find a natural break point when ending them. I expect the chapters to begin to increase in length soon as we get into the more meaty parts of the story.
Thank you all for bearing with me and taking the time to R&R!
It was three long days before Harry fully regained consciousness. His eyelids slowly opened and he peered around, bleary eyed at his unfamiliar surroundings. He was surprised, but gladdened, to realise that his body ached from a lack of use rather than what had been inflicted upon him. His throat was dry and his voice cracked as he croaked out a hello in the hope that someone would hear him.
“Ah, you’re awake.”
A voice emanated from a shadowed corner of the room and Harry was astonished to see his old Potions professor lean forward from an oversized wingback chair. Harry tried to sit up but Snape moved quickly to his side to ensure he stayed still. “Lay back. Poppy will have my head if she thinks I’ve let you move around without her say-so.”
Harry remembered the many vociferous tellings off he’d received from Madam Pomfrey during his numerous stays in the Hogwarts hospital wing and immediately lay back without argument, a wry grin teasing the corners of his mouth.
“Here, you need to drink all of this.” Snape handed Harry a large vial filled with a thick, grey liquid that looked particularly unappetising. “It’s a nutrient potion – we’ve been coaxing them into you every three hours for the last few days.” He noticed the revolted look on Harry’s face. “There’s water next to you too but only sip it – we don’t want you bringing the entire lot back up”.
Harry was thrown by the concern Snape was showing him – this was possibly the longest Snape had ever gone without insulting him. It was completely out of character compared to the frankly terrifying amount of hatred shown toward him in his original timeline. He swallowed the potion, almost gagging on the consistency as it slipped down his throat, before reaching quickly for the water to wash away the horrendous taste. His noticed his glasses, that were sat on a dark, wooden unit next to the bed, had clearly been repaired as they were no longer cracked and twisted as they had been following his encounter with Uncle Vernon. He slipped them onto his face to take a better look at Snape.
“Poppy will be here shortly,” Snape said watching Harry closely, “but I do believe we need to have a little chat before she arrives, don’t we Mr Potter?”
Harry realised his Occlumency walls were down and slammed them up as quickly as possible but Snape merely smiled, a calculating look on his face. “My my, Occlumency? That’s an awfully advanced skill for one so young and supposedly unfamiliar with the magical world. Besides, it’s a little late for that Mr Potter. On the morning after your arrival you woke briefly but were unable to communicate so I took the opportunity to… glance… at your mind. Simply to determine what had happened and who had harmed you but I found something more. It appears we have quite the history… or perhaps that should be future… don’t we?”
Harry was shaken but remained silent.
“Come now, I think we can dispense with the games here. I’ve seen some of what is in your mind – I was especially curious after you begged me not to speak to the Headmaster. I think it’s for the best you tell me what is going on.” Snape sat back and waited silently, fingers steepled in front of his face.
Harry took a deep breath and thought through the situation. He was firmly in Snape’s control with no means of escape – he was far too weak to try apparating again – and Snape clearly already had some idea as to Harry’s origin. He looked at Snape, wondering how little he could get away with telling him but before he could open his mouth, Snape leant forward once more.
This unsettled Harry – it may have been the first time Snape had ever used his first name.
“…I’ve seen inside your mind so I know you’re not ignorant of my secret, the reason why I began to spy on the Dark Lord. I know you are conscious of the fact that I hated your father with the fiery passion of a thousand suns. I expected to look at you and see the arrogant face of James Potter sneering back at me but your eyes are pure Lily.” Snape paused. “I also know you’re aware of how I felt about her. She was my first friend and I loved her – but I threw that all away and drove her into the arms of your father. For her sake I would help you.”
Snape took out his wand and Harry flinched instinctively. Snape gave no sign of having noticed and instead raised his wand and spoke.
“I, Severus Snape, do hereby swear on my life and magic to protect and assist Harry James Potter in his endeavours to remove the Dark Lord and prevent the rise of a new Dark Lord. So mote it be.” A blue glow surrounded Snape for a moment before dissipating.
Harry considered Snape for a moment. He took another sip of water then began to speak.
Having filled Snape in on the details of his return Harry lay back and waited for his reaction.
“If I hadn’t seen for myself I wouldn’t believe it.” Snape murmured. He sat up straighter in his seat and looked Harry in the eye, endeavouring to counterpart the 37 year old mind with the 8 year old frame in front of him.
“So just to be clear, you need to get away from a century old master manipulator who currently has control over almost every aspect of your life, destroy several cursed, dark objects that are currently tying the Dark Lord to this mortal plane before facing and defeating him, and change the very fabric of Wizarding society, stopping the destruction of everything we know, before you leave school?”
“Yeah, that pretty much sums it up”
Snape looked again at the boy in front of him and smirked. “What can I do to help?”
Harry grinned, he had his first ally.
“Severus?” a voice called from downstairs.
“We’re up here Poppy. He’s awake.”
Harry glanced at Severus, “What does she know?” he murmured hurriedly.
“She know who you are and that you were hurt by the family that Dumbledore placed you with. He’s not in her good books and she won’t report anything back to him. Don’t mention the time travel but you can trust her with anything else.” Severus responded in a low voice.
Poppy Pomfrey bustled into the room and immediately moved to Harry’s side. “Let’s get you checked over then Harry” she said kindly.
Harry sat back and allowed her to carry out an array of tests that he was perhaps too familiar with. He had been through these so many times that he found he had to stop himself from answering her standard questions before she could ask them. Hopefully this time around there wouldn’t be a need for Madam Pomfrey to effectively reserve a bed in the ward for him.
She finished her tests and gave a satisfied grunt. She looked at Harry with a gentle smile on her lips. “Well Harry, I had to regrow a number of your bones due to how badly damaged they were. I stopped the bleeding on your lungs and healed your back, although there will be some scarring. With a bit of rest and plenty of care you should be physically fine…” She hesitated, trying to determine how to approach the next subject. With a look of compassion in her eyes she asked her question. “Can you tell me how you get these injuries?”
Harry had never liked to discuss his life at Privet Drive before, but knew that honesty here would work in his favour when it came to changing his guardian. Over the next half an hour he told Severus and Poppy about how he was treated by his relatives, and watched the anger grow in the adults sat by his bedside. “You poor boy.” Madam Pomfrey whispered, blinking tears away, “How could anyone do that to a child, let alone a member of their family?” She focussed on Severus. “And the Headmaster left him there?” she demanded.
“So I’ve heard. I understand Minerva was there on the night he was left and objected to it, but he proceeded regardless.”
There were many things that Poppy was willing to do to help Albus Dumbledore, but the systematic abuse and neglect of a child was not one of them. She decided herself that, from this moment on, her trust in the Headmaster would no longer be absolute and without question and she would, instead, determine for herself if he was really doing what was best for those involved. Without thinking she’d already taken that first step by not informing him about the goings on in Spinner’s End.
In order to evade suspicion over his whereabouts, Poppy had informed Dumbledore that Severus had fallen victim to a contagious Muggle illness and she was monitoring him carefully at his home, allowing them both to be away from the castle and out of the immediate sphere of control of the Headmaster.
“Harry – I need to leave you now but I must insist that you remain in bed for the next two days. You’ll also need to continue taking the potions I’ve prescribed so we can get you back to the height and weight you should be. Once you’re up and about again we’ll start you on some physical activity to build your muscles back up, OK?” Poppy smiled down at Harry, employing the soft gentle voice normally used by adults speaking to a small child.
“Yes, Madam Pomfrey,” Harry said meekly, remembering he had to act his perceived age. “And thank you for helping me Ma’am.”
“Oh, and so polite, even after all he’s been through.” A wide smile spread across Poppy’s face and Severus leant back out of her line of sight as he struggled to maintain his composure at Harry’s performance.
“Severus – I’ll be back in a couple of days.” And with that she swept from the room.
They waited until they heard the tell-tale sounds of the floo in action looked at each other once again.
“Get some rest Harry. I’ll be back up in a few hours with some food for you.” Severus stood and made the leave the room.
“Profess... ermm… sir?”
“Call me Severus, Harry”
“OK – Severus. I just wanted to say… thank you.”
“You’re welcome Potter. Just don’t make me regret it.” A twinkle in his eye made sure Harry knew he was joking as he turned and left Harry alone with his thoughts.
A/N: Hi all - thanks for sticking with me. Work has been manic the last week or so which has slowed my writing right down but I'm hoping to ramp up the release speed moving forward. I considered including the meeting with Andromeda in this chapter but decided to cut it off a little early in order to get something out sooner.
As always, please R&R. I really appreciate your feedback.
On the day of Harry’s return, Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, Order of Merlin (first class), Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards, and Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot was bone tired. He’d had an excruciating day of diplomacy at the ICW attempting to mediate a dispute between the Ministries of Britain and France. A discussion that should have lasted for 15 minutes dissolved into an ugly exhibition of name calling and childish tantrums and it had taken 12 hours for things to settle down and agreements to be made.
He had apparated back to Hogsmeade and, due to the late hour, had directly struck out for Hogwarts rather than stopping in at the Three Broomsticks for a nightcap as he would usually do. A short while later he completed the final leg of his journey by climbing the winding, stone staircase to his personal chambers whereupon he shed his robes of station and dropped straight onto his warm, comfortable bed, immediately falling into a deep sleep.
He had walked straight through his office on his way to bed and hadn’t even glanced at the shelf that accommodated the many objects that usually captivated his attention. These objects were all different shapes and sizes, were made of diverse materials and performed varying functions but they all had one thing in common – a link to the Boy-Who-Lived. He was snoring softly and so didn’t see the object at the end of the shelf - a small silver, spindly thing that stood atop three narrow legs and puffed out clouds of smoke in a healthy rhythm -slow almost to a stop before gradually picking up speed again and regaining its previous pacing. As such Albus Dumbledore was never aware how close Harry Potter had come to death, or even that he was no longer inside the carefully placed wards and monitors that surrounded number 4 Privet Drive.
The following morning Dumbledore sat down at his generous, ornate desk and glanced over at the shelf. Content that nothing appeared to be amiss he got on with his day – the school year would be starting in a couple of weeks and the teachers were due back the next day to prepare for their classes. He was a little put out to discover a message from Madam Pomfrey indicating that Severus would not be returning on time, but relaxed once he understood that his Potions teacher was in no danger. Too many of his future plans would ride on the intelligence Severus Snape could provide if Voldemort were to return.
Putting the message to one side he made a mental note to send Severus something nice as a ‘get well soon’ gift. It never hurt to keep your spy on-side after all.
Harry had done as he was told and had spent the next two days resting up. He began to fill out and had already gained several pounds in weight and an inch in height thanks to regular meals and nutrient potions. His cheeks no longer appeared sunken and colour had returned to his face. The bruising was now gone and the aches in his bones that he had always been aware of in his original timeline were non-existent - having his bones vanished and regrown fixed all the incorrect knitting together they had done over the course of naturally healing several breakages.
For the first time he was pain free and was getting comfortable in his younger body.
Once Madam Pomfrey had given him the all clear he began walking around the neighbourhood several times a day to regain his strength, short distances at first but gradually increasing this, before progressing to jogging in the chill air of the early morning. He was pleased to find his stamina developed quite quickly and it wasn’t long before he was as healthy as he had ever been.
Severus had also granted Harry free reign over his small personal library, having warned him about a couple of nasty dark magic books first, and Harry took the opportunity to devour the knowledge in these tomes whenever possible.
It was three days after Madam Pomfrey had allowed him to resume activities however, that the most unusual part of his stay with Severus Snape occurred. Harry had just got dressed and was heading to collect another book when he peered into a room he hadn’t seen before. Inside was a small, but fully equipped, potions laboratory and Severus was stood with his back to him, stirring a cauldron in an anti-clockwise motion. Harry stopped and watched the Potions Master at work – it was completely different from seeing him in the classroom. Severus Snape was clearly in his element and Harry could almost sense his love of the craft emanating from him.
“Are you just going to stand there and watch?” Severus called, without turning. “I’m brewing potions for your use after all, and having spent years in my classroom already I’d hope you’re not as big a dunderhead as I’d normally expect from my students?” Severus left the question hanging in the air as he continued to stir.
Harry rolled up his sleeves and stepped up to the workbench alongside his former Professor. He arranged his work area so everything he needed was within easy reach and followed all the safety precautions that had been drummed into him during his time at Auror Academy. Severus watched his preparations out of the corner of his eye and, when Harry had finished, he gave a tight nod of approval and directed him to start preparing ingredients.
By the end of their first brewing session together Harry was pleased to see Severus hadn’t rejected a single item he had prepared. That alone was high praise based on his previous experience with him. Over the next week and a half Harry spent more time working alongside Severus and developed a healthy admiration for the Potion Master’s skills.
It was during one of their final brewing sessions that Severus turned to Harry to ask a question that had been playing on his mind since Harry had fallen through his door. “You’ve told me about, and shown me, a lot of our interactions from your time over the last 2 weeks Harry and based on those, I can’t for the life of me understand why you came to me for help? You know I’ll assist you in any way I can moving forward but I would have thought I’d be the last person you’d want to see…”
Harry had been considering this very thing since he had first awoken following his healing. “It wasn’t my intention to come to you – I was all set to head straight to Andromeda. I’ve been trying to puzzle out how I ended up here myself.” Severus quietly observed Harry as he mentally tried to walk through the night of his return. “I remember leaving the Dursley’s and staggering out into the street before trying to apparate. Obviously I was thinking about where I wanted to go but as I twisted to leave it was agony and I started to think of…”
Harry stopped, a flash of pain evident on his face and a small gathering of tears in the corners of his eyes.
“Of what?” Severus prompted gently.
“Of my children” Harry whispered. “I just… they’re gone and I’ll never see them again… even if Ginny Weasley and I were to get together in the future, any children we had wouldn’t be the same. We could use the same names but they would be different people…”
“What were their names? You’ve never mentioned them in our conversations.”
“James Sirius, Lily Luna and Albus Severus”
An expression of shock flittered over Severus’ face as he took this information in. “Even after everything I did to you and put you through, you named one of your children after me?”
“How could I not? What you did is still one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong you were a great bullying git…” Harry cracked a small smile in Severus’ direction “but at the end of the day you sacrificed yourself in order to honour my mother and allow me to defeat Voldemort.”
“You thought that much of me?”
“Well,” he continued, “I also wanted to honour both you and Dumbledore. Neither of you had families to carry on your own names so…” Harry gathered himself and looked Severus directly in the eye. “Knowing what I know now I certainly won’t be doing that again for Albus.”
“Yes, I’d imagine your child would probably thank you to steer clear of names like that in the future as well. I mean ‘Albus Severus’? What on earth were you thinking?” Severus smirked at Harry.
Harry gave a weak chuckle and silence fell between the pair. After a few seconds Severus spoke softly.
“I’ve heard you at night you know. Crying to yourself in your room, believing I won’t hear. Is it your children that you are thinking of?”
“Yes. I just… can’t explain how much I miss them…”
“I know. I can’t say I understand not having a family of my own but I would think they would want you to grasp the opportunity you’ve been given and make a future that they would be happy living in. Make them proud in everything you do.”
Harry took a deep breath. He would never lose his memories of his family but it was time to focus on the future. “Do you reckon the thought of my kids is what brought me here?”
“I would imagine so. Fixing your destination is imperative in apparition. If your last thought was of the name your son and I share it’s likely that redirected you. Just be glad – you could have ended up with the Headmaster.”
The sun rose on Harry’s final day of treatment and, after being given a clean bill of health by Poppy Pomfrey, Harry gathered his few possessions and prepared to leave Spinner’s End. There had been many discussions about Harry’s next step and it was decided that Severus would accompany him to the Tonks’ and help him explain the situation to Andromeda. Knowing that her help was essential to his plans, Harry had decided to give her the whole truth as to his return and Severus was prepared to back him.
Dressed in clothes that Poppy had purchased for him while he was recovering, Harry stepped out into the mid-morning sun. Taking a deep breath, and noting that his chest no longer hurt as he did so, he looked around at the run-down street. Severus strode out beside him and glanced down at Harry. “Are you ready to go?”
“Just a moment.” Harry said. “I want to thank you again for all your help so far. I know it can’t have been easy seeing me, looking so much like my father, and I know how he treated you when you were at school…”
“It’s not as if I was entirely innocent Harry,” Severus said with a sigh. “The last couple of weeks have forced me to... reassess… my past relationships with your family. Calling your mother a mudblood was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made – it destroyed one of the best things in my life, her friendship. The time we’ve spent together has made it clear to me that, you may look like your arrogant, bullying toerag of a father –“, Severus shot a sarcastic grin at Harry “but you’ve more in common with your mother than just her eyes.”
Harry looked up at the Professor that had, more than once in his school years been the target of his anger. “Well… thank you anyway.” Severus nodded at him in acceptance. “You know when I eventually join Hogwarts you’re not going to be able to be this pleasant to me?”
“Oh I think I can manage a disturbing level of hatred towards you in public,” Severus sneered at Harry, twisting his face into the expression that had terrified hundreds of students and would continue to do so for years to come.
Harry laughed and took Severus’ elbow as they apparated away to the Tonks residence.
A/N: Chapter 7! I'm going to move the story on fairly quickly from here and, as I mentioned previously, there will be a time jump in a few chapters up to the beginning of Hogwarts. I think there's probably 2 or 3 more chapters before that happens.
As always, thank you for your reviews, bookmarks and follows. I do read all reviews, even if I don't respond to all of them and your comments and suggestions definitely feed into my plans - it's always helpful to hear of areas you think need some more detail so I can ensure they're covered in future chapters. I can't say I'll close all plot holes but I'll do my best to avoid whopping great ones.
Andromeda Tonks sat alone at her kitchen table, a cup of tea next to her and an edition of The Daily Prophet in her hand as she gazed out of the window of her family home. The bright mid-morning sunlight was shining down on a good sized, well-kept garden surrounded by high hedges, perfect for hiding any magical displays from passing Muggles. The house was quiet. Her husband Ted had left for work early in the morning and wasn’t expecting to be home until much later that evening - being a successful practitioner of Magical Law was very demanding of his time – and her daughter, Nymphadora, was spending the day, and then the night, at a friend’s house.
Andromeda sighed. She enjoyed the peace and quiet but it did put her in somewhat of a melancholy mood. Following complications during the birth of her daughter, they’d been unable to conceive again and, especially when Nymphadora was at school, she missed the noise and bustle that was naturally a part of having a child around the house. She missed the family she’d grown up with – not the hate and insanity filled witch that Bella had become, or the haughty, obsessive blood purist that Cissy developed into following her marriage to Lucius Malfoy, but the girls she’d spent time playing and laughing with at Black Manor before she’d been unceremoniously disowned after her wedding to Ted Tonks. Most of all she missed her favourite cousin Sirius – locked away in Azkaban for almost 8 years after allegedly betraying his best friends and murdering poor Peter Pettigrew.
In her mind Andromeda always tagged the description of Sirius as a murderer with the word allegedly. Knowing how the Potter’s had taken Sirius in after he ran away from home, and how he considered James to be almost a brother to him, she had never been able to correlate those facts with someone capable of such a level of betrayal – but Sirius must have been guilty to have been sent to Azkaban mustn’t he?
A flicker of movement at the far end of the garden drew Andromeda out of her thoughts and she caught sight of two figures beginning to walk up the garden path towards the house. One was a tall man with greasy looking hair that she immediately identified as Severus Snape – what on earth was he doing here? The other was a small boy with round glasses, messy black hair and a face that looked like…
Andromeda stood suddenly, her breath catching as a young James Potter appeared to be walking toward her home. She knew at once that this was Harry, a boy she’d not seen since he was a baby and before Lily and James were forced into hiding. Their footsteps crunched up the gravel pathway and came to a stop outside the front door. One knock. Then another. Finally Andromeda managed to gain enough control of her legs again to hurry to the door and welcome her visitors into the house.
She pulled the door open quickly and stared down at the child in the doorway. Now she was closer she could see that, while the face was indeed the spitting image of James in photos she’d seen of his childhood, the piercing green eyes had been absolutely inherited from Lily.
“Harry?” she said finally as he grinned up at her.
“Mrs Tonks. May we come in?” Severus enquired smoothly.
“Of course!” Andromeda ushered them into the house. “My apologies Professor Snape – good morning. Please, call me Andromeda. I just…”
“Severus, please. I’d imagine this is a bit of a shock,” he had a wry smile on his face, something that was completely out of place on the face of the Severus Snape she knew of. “Can we sit?”
Andromeda led them into a comfortable living room and offered them refreshments before they all took seats. She couldn’t stop staring at Harry – she’d often wondered what had become of him following the death of James and Lily but whenever she had enquired as to his whereabouts or tried to arrange to see him, Albus had insisted he was protected and happy but being kept away from the Wizarding world to keep him safe from any ‘disciples’ of You-Know-Who. She’d even tried sending him letters, offering to speak with him about his parents if he wanted to know more – she’d already left Hogwarts by the time James and Lily had attended but had got to know them through Sirius and had been quite close to Lily before her death – but had never received a response.
Severus cleared his throat and attempted to regain her attention. “Andromeda – what Mr Potter here is about to tell you is going to sound like the ravings of a babbling idiot but I assure you it is the truth. He’s provided me with enough evidence to convince me of it, to the point that I’ve made a vow to assist him in any way I can. Please just keep an open mind…”
Andromeda shifted her focus back to Harry, wondering what this 8 year old boy had to say and how he had managed to convince Severus Snape of all people to help him.
“Andi,“ said Harry warmly, a wide smile on his face “it’s good to see you again.” He chuckled at her confused expression, then began to tell her about the future.
It was early evening when Harry finished speaking. His voice had taken on a hoarse quality as, apart from a few short comfort breaks, he had spoken almost continuously since beginning his story that morning. Before he’d managed to get into too many details Andromeda had stopped him and floo-called Ted, insisting he came home immediately. Ted was surprised by the identities of their visitors but upon hearing Harry’s tale both he and Andi had conjured parchment and quills and taken extensive notes.
Andromeda slumped back in her chair and gazed around at the occupants of the room disbelievingly. “This is crazy – you just can’t be from the future. It’s not possible…”
Harry sighed. He knew his story would sound far-fetched but he needed Andromeda and Ted to believe him. “Andromeda Tonks. The second daughter of Cygnus and Druella Black, sister of Bellatrix and Narcissa, wife of Ted Tonks, mother of Nymphadora Tonks and future grandmother of Teddy Lupin. A member of Slytherin house, you were disowned by your family for marrying Ted after leaving Hogwarts and burned off the Black family tapestry that resides at number 12 Grimmauld Place…”
Andromeda’s mouth fell open in surprise. “How do you know that?”
“For a long time after the second war you were one of the only people I could open up to. We spent a lot of time together looking after Teddy and we became friends. I know this stuff because you told me. As for the tapestry, I’ve seen it with my own eyes.”
“But the only way you could have seen it…”
“Is if I’ve been to the Black townhouse. I swear I’m telling you the truth Andi. I need your help.”
Andromeda looked over at Severus who had ensconced himself in a squishy armchair in the corner of the room. He hadn’t spoken since Harry had begun his account but now cleared his throat and sat forward. “Andromeda, I’d remind you of the vow I’ve taken. I would not have done so if I didn’t believe what young Mr Potter has told you.” She glanced at Ted who inclined his head slightly.
“OK,” she said. “I believe you.”
After a wonderful dinner Harry answered as many of Andi and Ted’s questions as he could. He stressed the importance of Dumbledore not discovering his whereabouts under fear that they would all be obliviated and Harry simply returned to his abusers, and was delighted when both Tonks’ immediately and categorically stated they would not allow that to happen under any circumstances.
“First things first,” Ted said as he scanned over his notes “we need to legally get you away from those muggles and out from under Dumbledore’s control. In the morning you and I are going to head to Gringotts and meet with the Potter account manager. From what you’ve said it sounds like Sirius made you his heir before being sent to Azkaban – I can’t see him allowing a Malfoy to remain the beneficiary of the Black estate if he were to die suddenly. We can request a full review of your status to bring that to light and, whilst you can’t take on head of house responsibilities until you are of age, it will give you more than a measure of protection in the Wizengamot and make our task that much easier moving forward.”
“How so?” Harry asked.
“When it gets out - and it will get out - that the heir to not one, but two, Nobel and Ancient Houses, was placed into an abusive home and forced to remain there by the Chief Warlock, without any justification other than because he ‘knew best’, there’s going to be outrage in the court. Throw onto that the whole ‘boy-who-lived’ angle and the average Witch and Wizard in the street is going to be screaming for something to be done about it.”
Ted paused and looked at Andromeda who nodded briefly. Turning back to Harry he continued. “Once we’ve got you away from Dumbledore’s grasp you’ll need a new magical guardian until you reach your majority. I hope I’m not being too forward in suggesting this, but Andi and I would be happy to take on the role if you would like?”
Harry smiled at Ted, “That would be great – thank you. How do you suggest we deal with the Muggle Guardianship?”
“For now? We could threaten thee Dursleys with exposing their treatment of you but I’d like to save that card to play down the line to ensure they get what is coming to them. From what you’ve said they place great stock in material things. We could buy them off in return for them signing over your guardianship – with a new car perhaps? That should see them falling over themselves to sign the proper paperwork required for us to become your legal guardians. We need to make sure this is done as quietly as possible through the Muggle courts – I don’t want Albus to be able to find any reason to object to the change.”
Andi took over “Once your status is confirmed we can start preparing you for everything you’ll need to know as an heir. Eventually we’ll introduce you to some of the friendly families so you can start to make connections and build the alliances you’ll need in the future.”
Harry brightened at this. He was looking forward to getting to know some of his old classmates at an earlier age, particularly Neville who had turned out to be a loyal and dependable friend once he’d gained a bit of confidence. Perhaps he could nudge that process along without affecting future matters too much…
Severus now interjected. “There is one other matter we need to discuss.” He turned and made sure he had Harry’s full attention. “You need to be careful. We all know your secret but most others will not. In your mind you are an Auror, approaching your 40th birthday…”
“38th“ complained Harry, pretending to be irritated by the extra couple of years Severus had thrown on.
“…BUT” Severus continued regardless, “to the world you are 8 going 9 years old. You need to make sure you act your perceived age. You’ll get away with some things under the explanation of being mature for your age and preparing to take on your role as heir, but it is imperative you appear ‘normal’ in society.”
Harry had already pondered this and knew the wisdom of Severus’ words. Before he could respond however, Andromeda cut in. “Well that shouldn’t be too hard,” she said with a laugh “with Nymphadora as a ‘big sister’ he won’t be allowed to be too mature – I can guarantee that.”
Severus winced, having taught the youngest Tonks at Hogwarts he knew all about her clumsiness and sense of humour. He nodded then rose from his seat. “Unless we have anything else to discuss I’ll be on my way.”
“Thank you Severus. We’ll do our best to help Harry.”
Severus now stepped in front of Harry who had also risen from his chair. “I’ve got to head to Hogwarts now. You can reach me by owl if you need me.”
Harry nodded and held out his hand. “Thank you again.”
Severus looked down, then took Harry’s hand and gave it a brief shake. “You’re welcome. If nothing else I’m looking forward to the Headmaster’s expression when he realises what’s going on. It should be very entertaining.” He smirked, then strode from the room with Ted escorting him to the front door.
Harry heard the door close and focussed on Andromeda as Ted walked back into the room. “I want to thank you too. I know how crazy this all sounds but I’m so appreciative that you’re willing to help. Both of you”.
“It’s OK Harry – I’d like to think that if your parents were still here you’d have met us much sooner. Of course we’ll do what we can to help Lily and James’ son.” Andi hesitated. “I know for you it’s been decades but for us they died much more recently… and for you to lose your family too… Harry – we’re so sorry for your loss.” Andromeda opened her arms, inviting Harry for a hug if he wanted one. He gratefully took the opportunity and when he backed away tears were silently running down his cheeks.
“Thank you” he said huskily, wiping the wetness from his face.
“Now then, time for bed. There’s lots to do tomorrow.” Andi’s voice was uneven as well and the emotion was evident on her face. “This way.” She led him out of the living room and up the stairs, opening a door to a good sized bedroom. “This is normally a guest room but it will be yours moving forward if you’re happy to stay.”
“It’s brilliant,” Harry said “thank you. Once I’ve got access to my vault I can pay you…” Andi cut him off.
“Don’t be silly. If we’re going to be your guardians I won’t hear of it. Now, the bathroom is down the hall and I’ve left a pair of Nymphadora’s old pyjamas on your pillow. Ignore the colour for tonight, I’ll pick you up some of your own tomorrow while you’re out with Ted.”
Giving him one last hug she turned to leave the room. “Good night Harry” she said
A/N: I really got caught up in this chapter and so it's rather longer than any of the previous ones. Do you all prefer shorter chapters pushed out more regularly or longer chapters with a bit more of a delay in publishing? I'd be interested to know what you think.
Thanks as always for the reads, reviews, follows and bookmarks. I was particularly happy to see a couple of you refer to this story in the Harmony & Co Facebook group. I'm glad you are enjoying reading this as much as I am writing it. Setting out it was my intention to try to write a time travel story that I myself would enjoy reading. I'm never going to be able to avoid repeating all the tropes of the genre - with The Deathly Hallows being published 12 years ago, there are very few new ideas left - but I'll do my best to make this story as original as possible. I will persist with using standard character names - Ragnok in this chapter is a Goblin name I've seen used in multiple other stories and when we meet Hermione's parents later on, they'll be called Richard and Helen - the first fic I read was by Broomstick Flyer and this is my little tribute to her for drawing me in.
Harry awoke early the next morning as the sun rose, casting warm copper hues through a crack in the curtains and slowly illuminating his surroundings. Rubbing his bleary eyes he sat up and looked around, confused for a moment at the comfortable room he’d slept in, before remembering he was now at the Tonks’. The clock on the wall indicated that he really should still be asleep but he knew there was little chance of drifting off again. The day held so much potential and he hoped that, by the time he lay down to rest that evening, he would be free of at least one of his chains.
Harry climbed out of bed and threw on some clothes. He ghosted down stairs being careful not to wake Andi and Ted. He was well practiced at moving silently, a skill he’d developed initially from a desire to avoid the Dursleys but had perfected during his time as an Auror. Noiselessly he slipped out of the back door and out into the dawn.
He stretched, then left the garden and broke into a slow jog. There was a calmness to daybreak he appreciated, before the bustle of commuters and parents on school runs, before the blaring of car horns and the cacophony of voices raised sometimes in joy, sometimes in anger, and before life began its winding journey through another day. He picked up the pace a little, listening to a solitary bird tweeting and the clink of bottles as the milkman left his wares on the doorsteps of his customers. He turned his thoughts to those in the homes he ran past, not knowing or caring whether their occupants were Muggle or Magical, but appreciating, believing, that each of those people deserved the chance to live their own lives free of the terror Lord Voldemort could bring down on them if he so chose, and hoping beyond hope that he could enact the changes needed to stop the catastrophic future he’d been told of.
He thought of the people he knew in his previous life. His colleagues and acquaintances. Those few he trusted enough to call friends. His loved ones and family. All those lost along the way.
He didn’t notice the tears falling on his cheeks as he ran. He just focussed on the pounding of his feet on the pavement.
Eventually he made his way back to the house. Stealing in through the unlocked door he stealthily made his way back upstairs to prepare for the day ahead.
The smell of bacon permeated the house and roused Andi and Ted from their dreams. They threw on their dressing gowns and together, made their way downstairs. Upon entering the kitchen they found Harry positioned in front of the cooker, finishing off a large pan of scrambled eggs and with a plate of freshly grilled bacon to the side.
“Morning” Harry said, looking over his shoulder. “Eggs are almost ready. Can you grab the toast please?” He gestured toward the toaster on the kitchen counter which had just popped up with two more fresh slices, ready to be added to a small pile nearby.
“Harry! You didn’t have to do this –“ Andi began.
“I wanted to. Cooking was one of the few chores I actually enjoyed doing for the Dursleys and when I left Hogwarts it was something I was good at because of me, you know? Not something that my parents had done for me, or something that was expected of me, just a thing I could claim as my own.”
“Well then… thank you,” Andi said “but please be careful – I don’t want you to burn yourself.”
Harry chuckled quietly at her concern, remembering how unfamiliar that sentiment was to him growing up, but he was grateful nonetheless. He’d learnt quickly how to handle himself in the kitchen – two small scars, one on each wrist where he’d misjudged the height of the oven shelf when he was 5 - were a permanent reminder. That and the whipping he’d received for dropping the beef joint he had been roasting on the floor and ruining the Dursley’s Sunday lunch.
Harry dished up the remaining food and the three of them sat in a companionable silence at the table and ate their breakfast.
“That was delicious Harry, thank you.” Ted sat back in his chair with a contented grin on his face.
“You’re welcome.” Harry returned the smile and stood to begin clearing the plates but a look from Andi quelled his movement and he sat back in his chair. Andi rose and tidied the table and set the dishes to wash themselves before seating herself again.
“We’ll head off to Gringotts in about an hour” Ted groaned slightly as he began to stand, feeling comfortably full.
“Actually, there’s one other thing we need to talk about before heading out. What are we going to tell Dora? I’m not sure she’s ready to know the whole truth but she needs to know enough to ensure she doesn’t accidentally let slip to Dumbledore that I’m here and not with my relatives.” Harry looked quizzically at the elder Tonks’ and awaited their suggestions.
“I don’t like hiding things from her but I understand where you’re coming from,” Ted said. He thought for a moment. “How about we tell her we’ve taken you in to get you away from your abusive relatives but we need to keep it a secret so you can’t be forced back there? Close enough to the truth without telling her everything. It’s easier to stick to a story like that than an elaborate lie – I’ve prosecuted enough cases to know that.”
Harry considered this, then turned to Andromeda who nodded in agreement. “Sounds good.”
“Now, I’m going to go and get cleaned up then we’ll head to Diagon.” Ted stood, without the groan this time, and headed upstairs.
Harry and Andi remained at the table, nursing their respective mugs of tea. “I meant what I said last night Harry – I don’t want you to feel like you have to repay us for taking you into our home, and I don’t want you to labour under the impression you need to do things like cook our meals for us. We want to help you, not just because of what you’ve told us, but because your parents would have done the same for Nymphadora if our positions had been reversed.”
Harry bowed his head in acquiescence. “I know, but I want to contribute in some way. I’m going to be relying on you for so much and I don’t want you to think I don’t appreciate it.”
“I understand, we understand, but we’re going to be treating you as a member of the family so you’ll just have to get used to it.” Andi smiled gently at Harry from across the table. “Now go finish getting ready.”
“Yes Ma’am” Harry stood and gave a mock salute, his green eyes twinkling, before leaving the room.
Just over an hour later Ted and Harry were stood in the small courtyard to the rear of the Leaky Cauldron. A glamour had been applied to Harry before departing to ensure his anonymity and in Harry’s shoes now stood a freckled boy with blue eyes and sandy coloured hair. His famous scar was hidden from view and they passed through the pub without comment. As Ted tapped the brick to open the archway Harry was deep in thought. “You know, the first time I came here everyone knew who I was just by looking at me. I get that I look like my Dad but they all wanted to see my scar… How did they know I even had one?”
“Well, it was part of the description of you in all the Harry Potter stories that kids read growing up. Nymphadora had a full set at one point -,” Harry smirked at this and stored the information away for future blackmail material. “- Now you mention it though, you’re right… How did the knowledge of your scar end up in the books? Only someone that had seen you would know it was there…”
“Dumbledore” Harry scowled. “Ted, would you mind looking into who is publishing those books and try to trace back where the royalties are going? I certainly never signed off on any books about me and the money has to be going somewhere.”
Ted nodded his agreement as the pair reached the white stairs leading up to the burnished bronze doors that were the entrance into Gringotts bank. They walked into the foyer and quietly joined a queue to speak to a teller. He was currently sneering down from his perch at a tall Wizard who was getting progressively louder and angrier at the Goblin’s lack of interest in whatever his current predicament was.
“I demand to speak to your superior!” The Wizard raged, eliciting a groan from Harry. Didn’t he realise that that sentence, spouted in anger, was the easiest way to lose an afternoon cooling your heels in one of the Gringotts holding cells? Almost on cue two Goblins dressed in armour and carrying wickedly sharp blades appeared at the Wizards side to ‘accompany’ him elsewhere for a quiet chat.
Once the squeaking sound of dragging shoes on a pristine marble floor had died away, the Goblin called out for the next customer. 10 minutes later, Ted and Harry were finally at the front of the queue. “Yes?” the Goblin snapped and before Ted could answer Harry stepped forward, gave a short bow and spoke. “Our greetings to you. May the blood of your enemies wet your blades.”
The teller gave a start and looked down at the child stood in front of him, wondering who this could be that knew the customary greeting of the Goblins. “And may your vaults be ever overflowing,” he responded formally. “How may I be of assistance?” The change in tone and attitude was complete reversal of a few moments ago and Ted stood and gaped at the scene in front of him.
“If possible I would like to speak with my families account manager please? I don’t have an appointment I’m afraid so we will be happy to wait until it is convenient?”
The Goblin hesitated, thrown by the respect and civility of the young Wizard before him. “Do you have your key?” he asked.
“I’m afraid not. My parents were killed when I was a baby and I don’t know what became of it.”
“Your name then?”
“Potter. Harry Potter.” He said, lowering his voice to avoid anyone that may be eavesdropping. The Goblin’s eyes widened slightly and he stepped down from his podium. “Follow me please.”
Harry and Ted followed the Goblin through a doorway they hadn’t noticed before, partially hidden behind a wide pillar. The Goblin led them down a sloping tunnel, lit sporadically by flickering, flaming torches embedded in wide, ornate steel sconce. The ground underfoot changed from the marble that was so prevalent in the lobby above, to roughly hewn flagstone worn and aged by countless feet marching across them. Eventually they came to a doorway and the Goblin pushed open the door and gestured for them to enter. A comfortable, bright room awaited them, laid out in the style of a Muggle corporate boardroom and they took the opportunity to sit when their escort advised them that the account manager would be with them shortly. The door shut behind them and Ted looked in amazement at Harry.
“How on earth do you know Goblin etiquette?”
“Well… there was an… incident… in the future. My friends and I may have broken into Gringotts to steal one of the horcruxes from the Lestrange vault.”
“You broke in and stole from a high security vault?”
“Ermmm… yeah. We may also have escaped by releasing and riding one of the guard dragons and caused a tiny bit of damage to the building on the way.”
Ted’s jaw dropped in disbelief.
“After the war there was a bit of a ‘disagreement’ between us and the Goblins as a result. We learnt as many of their customs as we could to try to regain some of their favour, and paid a huge sum to fix the damage but they ended up barring us from the bank anyway. Had to move all my money to the Gnomish bank in Switzerland – pain the backside when I wanted to make a withdrawal. This is the first time I’ve been inside Gringotts in almost 18 years.”
Ted’s mouth was opening and closing like a fish out of water. He was clearly attempting to say something but no words were forming. Just as he appeared to have finally got himself under control the door opened again and a different Goblin entered. Harry rose from his seat and repeated the formal greeting, bowing once more and introduced himself and Ted as his advisor.
“And may your vaults be ever overflowing. I am Account Manager Bedlam and I am responsible for the Potter family account. Would you please dispense of the glamour?”
“May my advisor have permission to draw his wand?” Harry queried.
Bedlam nodded and Ted removed the glamour from Harry. “My thanks. Now, I’m told you do not have your vault key?”
“No, as I explained to the teller, as far as I know it was never recovered after my parent’s death.”
Bedlam indicated for them both to be seated and withdrew a piece of parchment and a small knife. “Can I trouble you for a little blood? Just to verify your identity of course.”
Harry took the knife and pricked the index finger on his left hand. He squeezed the cut causing to blood to well into a large droplet which he then allowed to fall onto the parchment below. Bedlam took the parchment and looked over the writing that had appeared beneath the blood spot. “Well, everything appears to be in order. Welcome Mr Potter. How may Gringotts be of assistance today?”
Ted now leant forward. “Account Manager Bedlam, we are here today for several reasons. First, we are hoping you can help us with information as to the current position of House Potter. Whilst Harry here is the last remaining Potter, I have also been made aware of the possibility that his godfather named him as heir to House Black as well prior to his… incarceration.” Harry watched Bedlam carefully for any reaction to this claim – House Potter was wealthy thanks in part to the invention of Sleekeazy's Hair Potion by Harry’s grandfather, but all the gold in the family vaults didn’t come close to matching the fortune amassed by the Black family. Harry was surprised by the lack of expression from Bedlam - if found to be false the simple act of making that claim usually resulted in stiff financial penalties and an unpleasant conversation with a Goblin interrogator.
“Yes, when I was advised of your presence today I gathered all the relevant paperwork relating to your person. I can confirm that you are indeed named as heir to both House Potter and Black. As the last remaining member of the Potter family you are eligible to take on your status as head of house on your 11th birthday.” Harry bobbed his head in acceptance. He’d never had the opportunity to formally take on his role as head of house in his previous timeline. No-one had ever made him aware it was something he needed to do and by the time he realised his relationship with the Goblins was tarnished beyond repair.
He remembered his first visit to Gringotts and thinking back he now recalled how Hagrid hadn’t let him out of his sight, perhaps unknowingly denying the Goblins the opportunity to discuss his private financial matters with him. After that he rarely stepped foot into Gringotts himself. Molly Weasley usually withdrew his money for him…
“Account Manager Bedlam…” Harry began.
“Just Bedlam, please”, the Goblin replied. “I’m hoping this will be the start of a very profitable relationship and would prefer to be addressed informally by one who has shown our customs respect.”
It was Harry’s turn to be surprised, it was rare to be allowed to address a Goblin of Gringotts without referencing his position. “Of course Bedlam, please call me Harry.” Bedlam nodded and Harry continued, “Is it possible that someone else has my vault key? I’m worried there may be things happening with my account that I’m not aware of. If so, is there a way to deny access to that key and set up a new one?”
Bedlam nodded once more. “Yes, that was the next item I was hoping to discuss. We can certainly accommodate that request, a new key will be delivered to you within the next day. As for account activity, there are regular monthly withdrawals, converted into Pound Sterling and placed into the account of a Mr Vernon Dursley for the upkeep and support of yourself.”
Harry’s face turned almost puce with anger and his voice began to break as he raged. “You mean to tell me that the entire time I lived there they were being paid? They used to complain non-stop about how much ‘keeping me’ cost them. All of my clothes were handed down to me once my walrus of a cousin had finished with them and I slept in the bloody cupboard under the stairs –“ Harry stopped and took a deep breath to try to reign in his temper. He apologised to Bedlam for his outburst but Bedlam waved the apology away.
“In return for the monthly stipend Mr and Mrs Dursley agreed to take care of your health and wellbeing. Are you saying they didn’t keep to their agreement?”
Harry turned and lifted the rear of his shirt, displaying the criss-cross scarring that covered his back. “If ‘taking care of my health and wellbeing’ means ‘being beaten within an inch of my life’ then sure, they’ve met their end of the agreement.”
Harry dropped his shirt and turned back to face the table once more, defiance glinting in his eyes. “I want my money back Bedlam. Can you take care of that for me?” The look on Bedlam’s face would have quelled a fiercer man than Vernon Dursley. The Goblins were primarily a martial race who moved into controlling the finances of the Wizarding world, chasing profits as uncompromisingly as they would face down an enemy in battle. They were also very protective of their young and seeing that one of their premier clients, a child himself, had been mistreated so was certain to raise the ire of the Goblin Nation and bring their wrath crashing down on the perpetrators.
“Oh yes Harry. I think we can manage that.”
Discussions then turned to the matter of Harry’s guardians. “If you would allow us Law Wizard Tonks, I would like to dispatch a member of my office to visit with Mr and Mrs Dursley. I believe we can convince them to sign over young Harry’s guardianship with little trouble.” Bedlam had a dangerous glint in his eye.
“I would appreciate the assistance Account Manager Bedlam as long as the intimidation factor is kept to a minimum,” replied Ted. “We need to make sure that everything is as kept as legal as possible in the Muggle world. We can’t afford for this to fall back on Harry and harm him in the future.”
With Harry’s agreement Bedlam withdrew to instruct a human colleague to proceed with an initial visit. “I fully expect we’ll have signed papers by the end of the day.” He said on his return. “We will forward them directly to your office Law Wizard Tonks.” Ted bowed his head slightly. “My thanks Account Manager, I was not looking forward to visiting the Dursleys myself. Having heard Harry’s story and seen the evidence with my own eyes, I was struggling with how I would… contain… my anger once I was there.”
Harry felt a rush of affection for Ted. He hadn’t got to know him personally before, his only memory of interaction being their brief encounter on the night he fled Privet Drive for the last time. He’d been able to count the number of adults willing to offer unconditional support on one hand last time and he was already in danger of beating that number within a month of his return.
“What will your strategy be for dealing with Harry’s magical guardian?” Bedlam asked.
“Based on the physical and mental abuse Harry has suffered, we will move for a change of guardian on the grounds of incompetence. It was, after all, Dumbledore that consigned Harry to a life of torture at the hands of his so-called relatives. We won’t be pursuing this just yet though – we want to get the Muggle guardianship issue sorted first without his knowledge before going after Dumbledore directly. The more evidence we can build against him the harder it will be to deny the application for change.”
“Albus Dumbledore’s fingerprints appear to be all over the difficulties in your life,” remarked Bedlam. “For someone who calls himself the ‘leader of the light’ he does seem to have made a number of rather questionable decisions about you.” He thought for a moment. “I noticed earlier you named Lord Black as ‘Sirius’. Should I assume you don’t necessarily subscribed to the belief that he betrayed your parents?” Harry shook his head. “In which case it’s a pity your godfather is imprisoned. He would be your magical guardian rather than Dumbledore if he was free, but I suppose the Wizengamot found enough reason to convict him at his trial…”
“Unlikely since he didn’t have a trial” Harry muttered under his breath. He quickly glanced up to see if Bedlam had heard him but saw no sign that he had. Harry gave a small sigh of relief – another slip like that could throw all his future plans into doubt.
“Well,” said Bedlam. “Is there anything further I can assist with at this time?”
“Just one other thing – could you please send me regular statements for my account?”
“That should already be the case… have you not received any communication from Gringotts?”
Harry shook his head once more. “Andromeda told me this morning she had tried to write to me before but I never received a letter from her. Come to think of it I’ve never received mail from anyone in the magical world – you’d have thought someone would have tried to contact me…”
“Leave it with me Harry. I’ll look into it for you.”
“Thank you Bedlam. May my advisor reapply my glamour? I’d prefer not to be recognised in the Alley.” With permission from the Goblin, Ted drew his wand once more and reapplied the glamour. “Thank you for a productive meeting. May your vaults be ever overflowing.”
“And may the blood of your enemies wet your blades Mr Potter.”
The two Wizards withdrew from the conference room and, upon leaving Gringotts, headed for Ted’s offices to start working on the Muggle change of guardianship paperwork. Bedlam, however, remained seated, deep in thought until the door opened once more and two heavily armoured Goblins marched in and took up positions either side of the door. Shortly after, a large Goblin, taller by a head than Bedlam and dressed in battle armour that had clearly seen use, strode into the room. Bedlam rose from his seat immediately and bowed his head, baring his neck in deference. He greeted the newcomer with respect “Chief Ragnok”.
“Bedlam – be seated.” Bedlam completed his bow and sat at his leader’s behest. “Tell me about the Potter boy. Was he as respectful as I’m told?”
“He was Sir, and more. He treated me as an equal throughout our conversation. He was not timid or afraid to seek counsel and seemed mature beyond his years. He showed he can be ruthless, not hesitating to request assistance recovering the money paid to his relatives and did not even ask about our fees for providing that help. Normally…” Bedlam paused.
“Go on. Speak freely.” prompted Ragnok.
“Normally I’d suggest that oversight would give us free reign to profit from the Wizard’s lack of attention to detail, but on this occasion I believe we should refrain. The young man is heir to two of our larger accounts and will hold significant political power. By simply extending a measure of goodwill we could unlock a path to equality in the magical community and gain access to the investment markets we’ve been denied for so long. I believe that young Wizard could be the catalyst for change we’ve been waiting for.”
Ragnok nodded. “Continue to assist him and keep me informed directly of your plans. Let’s not allow this opportunity to slip away.”
Bedlam bowed again as Ragnok and his guards swept from the room. It was time to get to work.
A/N: Another longish one this time. Apologies for the delay getting it out but I had quite a lot to cover in this chapter. The passing of time picks up here and will continue to do so in the next chapter as well. We're only one or two more away from a return to Hogwarts and a reintroduction to Hermione! As the tags state, this will be a Harry/Hermione pairing but will be fairly slow burn - they won't be immediately starting a relationship based on their previous history.
Bedlam was as good as his word and, by the end of the day, Harry and Ted held in their hands signed documents removing his relatives from their position as Harry’s legal guardians. Bedlam had delivered the papers personally and, when asked what he had to give the Dursley’s in order to make things happen, he smiled evilly.
“I met with your mother and father many times prior to their death and gained a good understanding of your father’s ‘sense of humour’. When Mr Tonks here mentioned his plan to buy your Uncle’s cooperation with a new car, I took to liberty to do so but with a little twist that I believe your father would have appreciated.” Harry raised an eyebrow as Bedlam continued, “Vernon Dursley now looks out of his living room window to see a beautiful, top of the range car sat outside his home. When our representative left, your relatives were stood out in the street talking rather loudly about their sleek and obviously expensive new motor vehicle – plainly trying to catch the attention of their neighbours.”
“OK…” said Harry, trying to work out what Bedlam could have done.
“Glamours that last only a short time are challenging but manageable for most Wizards. Placing a long term glamour on a large object – a car for example - is astonishingly tricky for a Wizard, unless the Wizard is question is prodigiously strong. Keying that glamour to only be seen by a select few people is even more difficult. Goblin magic is different to that of a Wizard however and we find glamours of that type to be significantly easier to perform.”
A large grin was beginning to form on Harry’s face.
“In around 6 months your relatives will discover what all their neighbours are seeing already. Not a gleaming, luxurious new car but a small, slightly battered, blue…” Bedlam glanced down at a note in his hand, searching for a piece of information “…ah, yes. A ‘Ford Anglia’. A gentleman by the name of Arthur Weasley was planning to make some rather questionable modifications to it but we convinced him to sell it to us instead.”
Harry couldn’t stop himself from laughing. “That is incredible! I wish I could be there to see their faces when the glamour drops.”
“Sadly it will probably be for the best for you to be well clear of the area when that happens Harry.” Ted smirked and looked over at Bedlam, “If we could obtain a memory however I’m sure we could use a pensieve…”
“I’ll have to check our appointments but I believe there may be one of our human representatives in the area around that time.”
Harry wiped away the tears of mirth that had formed at the corners of his eyes. “Thank you Bedlam.”
“You are most welcome Mr Potter. Now, I must be getting back to work. Time is money after all.” Bedlam nodded a goodbye to both Wizards and left the office.
Harry was still chuckling to himself when Ted spoke. “You know, even with the signed papers we’re not clear yet Harry. The actual process of transferring Muggle guardianship legally can take months. There’ll be interviews, home visits and all sorts of meetings to attend before this is finalised.”
“I know, but we’re one step closer to breaking me free from Dumbledore’s control. If my Aunt and Uncle are no longer my legal guardians I can’t be forced back there.”
Ted inclined his head in agreement then sat and pondered the unusual situation he and his family had found themselves in since meeting Harry the previous day. With an expression of slight concern on his face, he looked up at Harry. “I know you’re hoping to make it through your first few school years without too much variance from your original time but are you worried at all that the changes we’re making now are going to have an impact on the future?”
Harry sat back in his chair and considered Ted’s question. “I know some things will be different. How could they not be? I’ll have already met some of my classmates ahead of time and when we do meet I’ll have to pretend like I’ve not known them for years… Plus of course there’s my personal tragedy of not being able to be sorted into Gryffindor. I mean, consider this. In my original time, Minerva McGonagall saw me catch Neville Longbottom’s remembrall during my first flying lesson. That act won me my place on the Gryffindor Quidditch team and I received my first broomstick, a Nimbus 2000. That broomstick was destroyed in my third year when Dementors made me fall during a Quidditch match and it was blown into the Whomping Willow. Sirius then gave me my Firebolt which saved my life when I went up against the Horntail in my forth year. None of that can happen now…”
Harry trailed off for a moment, deep in thought. “Here’s another one. As I no longer live with the Dursley’s there’s now no need for Ron and the twins…”
Harry sat bolt upright. “Oh no.”
“What’s the matter?”
“The Ford Anglia Bedlam has just given to my relatives… In my original time Ron and I flew that car to Hogwarts when we couldn’t get through the barrier at Kings Cross at the start of the year. We ended up crashing into the Whomping Willow and Ron snapped his wand leading to Lockhart’s memory charm backfiring when he tried to obliviate us in the Chamber of Secrets. If Ron’s wand doesn’t break, Lockhart’s spell won’t fail and Ginny Weasley will die, allowing Voldemort to return as his 16 year old self.”
Harry could feel tension building in his body. A small flicker of panic was forming in the back of his mind. How could he follow the plans he and his family had made when everything happening now had the potential to dramatically alter the future he knew?
“Calm down Harry.” Ted spoke in a soothing voice. “We can deal with that closer to the time if needs be – we’ve got a few years to come up with options so my advice is to stick to the current plan. We’ll adapt if we have to but let’s not lose sight of what needs to be done.”
Harry uneasily muttered his agreement but couldn’t help the feeling of nausea in the pit of his stomach. Navigating his way through the next 2 years without drastically changing the future would be a lot harder than he had anticipated.
That evening Harry and Ted returned to the Tonks’ and were greeted by a pink haired whirlwind that grabbed hold of Harry and spun him round before he could work out what was going on. Before he could balance himself the pair tripped and tumbled onto the grass in the front garden where Harry had the wind knocked out of him by a stray knee to the stomach.
“Oops… sorry ‘bout that. I can be a touch clumsy at times… anyway – wotcha Harry!” Nymphadora Tonks beamed over at him as she disentangled herself from him.
“…Hi…” Harry managed to gasp out as he struggled for breathe and attempted to regain his feet.
“Nymphadora – leave the poor boy alone!” Andromeda laughed as she watched from the doorway. She gave Ted a small kiss in greeting and they moved back into the house.
“Nymphadora?” Harry said grinning, knowing full well the reaction he would receive by using her full first name. He wasn’t disappointed as she grimaced.
“Please don’t call me that. I don’t know what mum was thinking when she chose the name. I prefer to be called Tonks normally but I guess that’d be a bit weird in a house with three Tonks’ in so I suppose I’ll allow Dora as well.” She held out her hand but when Harry grasped it to shake she pulled him into a hug instead. “Awww… I always wanted a little brother. We’re going to have so much fun!”
Harry felt the happiness welling up inside of him and let out a short burst of laughter. “Come on then Dora.” He called as he pushed himself away from her and darted for the door.
He wandered into the kitchen to find Ted and Andi sat at the table while Ted filled her in on the days less confidential developments. “Did you have a good day Harry?” Andi asked as he and Dora took their seats. “Yes thanks Mrs Tonks. Mr Tonks’ office was a bit boring but he said my Aunt and Uncle have signed some papers we needed?” Harry glanced at Dora surreptitiously to make sure she was buying the act he was putting on for her.
“We told you last night to call us Andi and Ted – no more of this Mr and Mrs Tonks business please! And yes, your relatives have signed off on your transfer of legal guardianship. It will be 6 months or so before the paperwork is all finalised and you’ll probably have to talk to some people to make sure you’re happy staying with us. Will that be OK?”
Harry nodded vigorously. “Absolutely. I don’t ever want to go back there…” Harry noticed a flash of anger cross Dora’s face and he looked inquisitively at Andi.
“Nymphadora and I had a conversation about why you’re staying with us Harry. She knows you’ve been mistreated by your relatives and she also knows not to tell anyone you’re staying here until we’ve been confirmed as your guardians. We don’t want any of the darker members in the Wizengamot to try to control where you live or your future. If word were to get out that Harry Potter is without a legal guardian…”
“I know mum, I swear I won’t tell anyone.”
Andi smiled gently at her daughter. “I know. Now Harry, Nymphadora and I went shopping and picked you up some new clothes…”
“You can keep those pink pyjamas though if you want Harry.” Dora said with a laugh.
Harry blushed while Andi rolled her eyes and continued “…they’ve all been put away in your room so why don’t you go and change then we’ll have some dinner.”
Harry stood and turned but before he could speak Andi interrupted him. “I know what you’re going to say Harry – we don’t want you to pay us back. As I said last night, your parents would have done the same for Nymphadora.”
Harry saw the determination in her eyes and changed what he was going to say. “Thank you.”
July and August passed swiftly. Harry had thoroughly enjoyed his 9th birthday and was surprised by, and grateful for, the small party the Tonks’ had thrown for him. Although they were unable to attend, both Severus and Poppy had sent him small gifts. Knowing he would be eager for more knowledge of his parents, Poppy had sent him a small book containing information about how they had performed in their classes, all taken from school records so she didn’t have to let on she was providing this for their son. Whilst he’d known his mother was gifted at Charms and Potions, and his father at Transfiguration, Harry was overjoyed by official confirmation of this from their teachers at the time and found the frequent comments about James’ pranks highly amusing.
Severus’ gift carried a note to say it needed to be opened out of sight of unknowing eyes. He had sent a thick book written to help guide students pursuing their Potions Mastery with an inscription inside telling him to make sure to read it as he wouldn’t accept Harry being a monumental dunderhead once he started his classes. Harry had chuckled at that.
Soon it was time for Dora to return to Hogwarts. Harry and Dora had spent a huge amount of time together over the summer and by the time it ended, there weren’t many people that he had ever felt as close to. Early on she had made the decision that Harry was far too serious for his age and had taken it upon herself to be as silly as possible with him. What began as the odd practical joke here and there dissolved into an all-out prank war. Whilst Harry was limited in his retaliations by his need to hide his magic, he became quite adept in making use of household objects and supplies to get his own back. Dora was still unsure how he had managed to manipulate her into a position to be dowsed with water then covered in flour but she’d been delighted to see him rolling around on the floor in hysterical laughter. Needless to say he was sorry to see her go but knew that they would see each other again at Christmas.
A week later Andi began Harry’s lessons in earnest. His full training would take much of the next two years but to start they covered in great detail how to greet other heirs and the protocols required when addressing his elders or other heads of houses. He learnt family history in depth for both the Potter and Black families and worked to create his own family tree, managing to document a path back to Ignotus Peverell – something he already knew to be the case but now gave him cause to revisit Gringotts and ask them to investigate his claims on that house. Furthermore Andi had begun to reach out to some of the more friendly houses to set up a meetings between their heirs and one recently returned to the Wizarding World. She didn’t want to make them aware who the heir she represented was until Harry was safe from Dumbledore’s grasp but introductions had been tentatively arranged for the new year with the Longbottom, Bones and Abbott families.
In the meantime Harry threw himself into his lessons, learning as much as he could as quickly as possible. While he would be the first to admit he hadn’t really applied himself as fully as he could have when he last attended Hogwarts, simply knowing what was at stake this time round had the result of focussing his mind and Andi was astonished by how quickly he was picking things up.
At the end of November it was time for another trip into Diagon Alley, combining Christmas shopping with a few tasks for Harry. It had been decided that Harry needed to start to exercise his magic so a trip into Knockturn Alley for an unregistered wand was required, followed by a visit to Gringotts to speak with Bedlam. Andi applied another glamour to Harry – this time making him appear significantly older – and the pair set out.
Both Christmas shopping and the purchase of the wand were uneventful thanks to the glamour. Harry had purchased gifts for Poppy and Severus alongside ones for the Tonks family, and had taken the opportunity to stock up on prank items from Gambol and Japes for his ongoing war with Dora. He also parted with 12 Galleons for an Ebony wand with a Horned Serpent horn core that reacted well with him when he held it. He recognised the value of having a second wand, especially one that the Ministry had no knowledge of, and so paid more than he would have done for an Ollivander wand without question.
The stop to see Bedlam however was less ordinary. After confirming that Harry was indeed heir to the Peverell family following his defeat of Voldemort as a baby, and that they were still working on identifying the figure behind the unlicenced Harry Potter books, Bedlam dropped a bombshell that would throw all of Harry’s plans into disarray.
“Since our previous meeting we’ve been carrying out our own quiet investigations on your behalf to see if anything can be done about your magical guardian problem. You mentioned Lord Black’s situation – “
Harry froze, eyes wide he stared at Bedlam. He hadn’t believe anyone had heard him. The Goblin’s next words confirmed his fears.
“ – I’m pleased to say that we’ve been working with someone high up in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement who has confirmed there are no records of Lord Sirius Orion Black having ever received a trial. As such, next week he will be returned to the Wizengamot for questioning under Veritaserum. If, as we suspect, he is innocent of all charges, he will be free to take over his position as your guardian – after being medically cleared to do so of course. We at Gringotts will be happy to support him in this endeavour.”
Bedlam sat back in his chair, grinning broadly and awaiting Harry’s response. Harry could only sit and stare, mouth slightly open and his mind running a mile a minute, trying to unpick the consequences of this action. Andi stepped in to speak on his behalf.
“Our thanks to you and all those involved from the Goblin Nation, Account Manager Bedlam. I know Heir Potter would like to express his gratitude to you but I think your information has come as rather a shock to him. Personally I look forward to seeing my cousin again – I always had doubts about his guilt but believed the Wizengamot had reason to come to their judgement.”
With a nudge from Andi, Harry engaged once more. Forcing a smile onto this face he tried to convey excitement rather than the abject terror of his designs crumbling to ruin around him “Absolutely. My deepest thanks to you Bedlam. I am truly grateful for this.”
Bedlam nodded in acceptance. “No thanks are necessary Harry. The reactivation of the Black and Peverell accounts are thanks enough – that should prove more than profitable for all involved.”
Harry and Andi glanced at each other, noting the concern in each other’s eyes, and made their goodbyes as quickly and as politely as possible. They didn’t speak again until they were back in the safety of the Tonks family home.
Harry broke the silence.
“I need to speak to Severus, right now.”
A/N: Thank you all for your continued support and comments. I hope you're enjoying reading this story as much as I am writing it. My posting frequency has slowed a little recently to once a week due to work and other commitments so thanks for sticking with me. I've got one more chapter planned before we return to Hogwarts so next time out Harry will get to meet some familiar faces.
In the meantime, thanks again for taking the time to read. Please feel free to drop a review or comment - I always read them, even if I don't always respond directly :)
Harry and Andi glanced at each other, noting the concern in each other’s eyes, and made their goodbyes as quickly and as politely as possible. They didn’t speak again until they were back in the safety of the Tonks family home.
Harry broke the silence.
“I need to speak to Severus, right now.”
Andi grabbed the pot of floo powder from the mantelpiece and took a small pinch of the silvery substance contained within. She knelt and tossed it into the fire calling “Severus Snape” before plunging her head into the roaring green flames.
Once Andi’s head had stopped spinning, a sensation that Harry had found incredibly disconcerting when he’d tried fire-calling in the future, she looked out into Severus’ office to find the man she was seeking watching her from the chair behind his desk.
“Mrs Tonks – to what do I owe the pleasure?”
“Severus, something’s happened and Harry needs to speak with you immediately. We thought it best that I call first in case you weren’t alone.”
Severus stood from his seat. “May I come through?”
Andi nodded her confirmation and backed out of the fire. A moment later the tall, black robed, greasy haired figure of Severus Snape calmly stepped out of the fireplace and into the Tonks’ home. Glancing round the room he found only Harry and Andromeda present and fixed his attention onto a clearly agitated Harry Potter who was pacing up and down the room and wringing his hands.
“Harry, what’s happened?”
“The Goblins…” panic filled Harry’s voice, “…they’ve convinced the DMLE to give Sirius a trial…”
“Focus Potter.” snapped Severus, causing Harry to jerk to a stop and stare at the Potions Master. Harry took a deep breath, calmed himself and concentrated on the situation at hand. “Thanks” he said ruefully. “I needed that.”
“The last time I was at Gringotts my account manager asked me about Sirius and I muttered a comment under my breath about him not receiving a trial – “, Harry broke off and held his hands up defensively at the look of incredulity on Severus’ face “- I know, I know. It was bloody stupid of me. I thought I’d got away with it when he didn’t react but it turns out I was wrong…” He took a deep breath and continued. “We visited again today and he told us they’ve convinced someone high up in the DMLE to look into this and had it confirmed Sirius wasn’t tried. A trial has been scheduled for next week but hasn’t been publicly announced yet.”
Severus immediately grasped the problem and the cause for Harry’s distress. “And you’re concerned that Wormtail is going to run”
“Yes! If he goes into hiding now Voldemort could come back much sooner! We’ll be completely unprepared to fight him!”
Severus looked at Harry shrewdly. “You know where Wormtail is? You understand if we intervene it will be yet another deviation from your future?”
“I know where he should be and you’re the only one in a position to help. As for it being another change to the future - I know, I don’t see that there’s a choice.” Harry slumped into a nearby chair, put his head into his hands and sighed. “Ever since returning there’s been one unintended change after another. The entire point of minimal changes until my third year at Hogwarts was to preserve as much of my future knowledge as possible. That was blown out of the water the moment I ended up on your doorstep.”
Harry looked up at Severus and Andi. “I started to write things down – important things you know? Things that will help with my tasks but… I’m… struggling sometimes… little details, things that happened towards the end of my future are becoming – I don’t know how to describe it, murky I guess? It took me five minutes to remember my partner’s name in the Auror office. I worked with the guy every day for five years and I couldn’t remember his damn name right away…”
Severus and Andi shared a look of concern. “What about things closer to your current age?” Andi asked.
“That’s what worries me - those memories are clear. I just…” Harry hesitated then said in a small, quiet voice “…I don’t want to forget my children…”
Andi moved to Harry’s side and pulled him in a gentle hug, rubbing her hand soothingly over his back. Severus turned away and allowed Harry a moment to compose himself and when he looked back, Harry was wiping away the remnants of tears from his eyes. Harry gathered himself and stood once more, looking determinedly at Severus. “Wormtail should be hiding in the Gryffindor third year boy’s dormitory. He’s in his animagus rat form and goes by the name ‘Scabbers’. He’s posing as Percy Weasley’s pet.”
Severus pondered this information. “I don’t foresee an issue capturing him as long as he’s there, but we’ll have to turn him over to the DMLE anonymously. If it’s done before the trial is even announced it will look absurdly suspicious and the last thing we want is for the Ministry or the Headmaster to come looking for answers.”
“Thank you” said Harry softly. “I know what happened between you and Sirius when you were at school and how much you hate him. I know it’s likely you’ll never be able to forgive him for that and I wouldn’t expect you to. Just… thank you for helping.”
“I don’t believe I’ll ever be friendly with him Harry, there’s too much history there, but we will have one thing in common. We’ll both want to see you through this, for your parent’s sake as well as your own.” With that, Severus turned, tossed some floo powder into the fireplace and called out “Severus Snape’s office, Hogwarts” before stepping into the flames and disappearing.
A few hours later a piece of parchment fluttered out of the fireplace and landed next to Harry who had been waiting impatiently for news. He picked it up and written on it were four short words.
I have the rat
The next morning’s edition of The Daily Prophet carried a huge banner headline, ‘Not So Black After All? Sirius Black to receive trial!’ accompanied by a large photograph that Harry recognised as being from his parent’s wedding day. The article itself expressed outrage that the head of a Noble and Ancient House had been merely tossed into Azkaban without even a hearing and suggested that new evidence had come to light indicating that Black may actually be innocent of the crimes he had been accused of. Minister for Magic Millicent Bagnold had apparently been unavailable for comment but one of her rivals, a certain Cornelius Fudge, had been quoted saying that he was disgusted that the present minister had allowed this situation to be brushed under the rug and promised that, if he ever became Minister, such failings would not be allowed to occur.
Harry lay down the newspaper and sat back in his chair as he considered this turn of events. He felt torn – on one hand he was delighted that he would get to see his godfather much sooner than anticipated, and that he’d actually be able to spend some quality time with him rather than having their relationship cut short. On the other it was yet another nail in the coffin of the plans he and his family had spent hours ironing out prior to his return. He realised that sooner or later he would have to make a decision about those plans – should he toss them away and charge ahead like a typical Gryffindor? Or should he sit back and see how things turned out, potentially risking his future knowledge becoming obsolete? Harry groaned. It was times like this that he really missed Hermione – she’d always been the one he’d turn to for advice and she’d never steered him wrong.
Harry remained in his chair, deep in thought and barely acknowledging Andi and Ted moving around him. He hadn’t really thought about his best friends since returning having been too tied up with the tasks he needed to accomplish, but he missed the easy camaraderie he’d had with them both growing up. He and Ron had plenty of good times and he’d been his first friend, but Harry recognised there were phases when he hadn’t been a particularly good one – more often than not Harry had accepted one of Ron’s non-apologies after a falling out to make sure their relationship remained intact. He was unsure how he would react to Ron when they met again, not knowing how aware he had been regarding Molly Weasley’s actions in the future but set that aside to deal with at a later date.
Hermione however, was a different case altogether. She’d always been his most loyal friend, standing by him through thick and thin, never wavering in her support of him until, as he knew now, the meddling of the Weasley matriarch affected things in their sixth year. She’d still chosen to stay with him when Ron abandoned them during their hunt for the horcruxes though, and he had been forever grateful to her for that. After they’d rescued Sirius at the end of their third year, Harry believed he may have liked Hermione as more than a friend but nervousness at potentially ruining that friendship, and an indication from Ron that he was interested in Hermione, led to Harry had backing off and turning his attentions elsewhere.
His thoughts drifted to his other close friends. He’d be meeting Neville soon and he was determined Luna wouldn’t have to put up with the bullying she experienced at school in his time. He also felt a kind of relief that he wouldn’t have to face Ginny until a year after starting Hogwarts. Whilst she had been the mother of his children he remembered all too well her full-on ‘fan-girl’ phase and as with Ron, he didn’t know if she was involved in her mother’s plans. He needed to discover for himself how much of his love for her was real or as a result of outside interference.
Harry shook his head attempting to clear his thoughts and pushed the newspaper to one side. He pulled out his Muggle notebook and pen and continued documenting the life he was reliving.
A week later and winter had taken hold of the English countryside. Although tame when compared to those Harry had experienced in the Scottish highlands, temperatures had plummeted and frost was visible each morning on the bare branches of the horse-chestnut trees that lined the street outside the Tonks residence. Harry had taken to pacing around the living room when agitated or nervous and this day he had good reason to be both. This was the day of Sirius Black’s trial. He knew there was no way he would be able to attend in person if he wanted to keep himself hidden from the clutches of Albus Dumbledore and so Andi and Ted, who were planning on being present anyway due to familial ties, had promised to report back as soon as they were able.
In Harry’s hand was a crumpled piece of parchment which had been delivered to him via owl that morning. The day before Severus had anonymously contacted Amelia Bones, the head of the DMLE, and provided the location of Wormtail. He’d watched from a distance as an Auror team, led by Madam Bones, had arrived to find Peter Pettigrew stunned and bound to a chair in an abandoned Muggle warehouse in north London.
Eventually Harry gave up his pacing and headed to his room to practice his magic. He’d borrowed Dora’s first year textbooks and was working his way through the practical spell casting, not wanting to push himself too much until he had a better understanding of how much he could handle at this time. He was so engrossed in his training that he didn’t notice how much time had passed, or hear the floo as it activated downstairs. He was practicing the Levitation Charm when Andi spoke, making him jump and lose concentration, and causing the chair he was levitating to crash to the floor and break into several pieces.
“Reparo” he muttered with a wave of his wand then turned to Andi as the chair fixed itself behind him. “Well?” Harry demanded, “How did it go?”
Andi beamed at Harry. “Brilliantly. Cleared of all charges.”
Harry flew across the room and grabbed Andi in a tight hug which she happily returned. “It looked touch and go for a while. Barty Crouch wasn’t happy at all that Sirius had been brought back in for a trial but when the Aurors escorted Pettigrew into the court and gave him Veritaserum, Crouch withdrew his complaints.”
Harry smiled delightedly up at her. “What happens to Sirius now?”
“He’s got some recovering to do. The exposure to the Dementors means he’ll be seeing a Mind Healer regularly for a while but other than that he’s released – completely free to go.”
“When can I see him? Would it be OK if he comes over for Christmas maybe?”
If possible, Andi’s smile appeared to grow even larger. “Oh, I think I can do one better than that…”
Sirius Black stepped into the room and cleared his throat “Hello Harry”
“Sirius!” Harry yelled and sprinted the short distance to his godfather before throwing himself into his arms.
“I’m so sorry Pup. I shouldn’t have left you that night.”
“It doesn’t matter now. You’re here.” Harry gripped Sirius tightly. His eyes squeezed shut, he clutched at the man whose death had left him numb and vowed to himself that he would not allow that event to reoccur.
Eventually Sirius pulled back and smiled down at his godson. “Andi tells me you’ve quite the story to share with me?”
“You can say that again. You’re going to want to sit comfortably for it though, it’s going to take some time to tell it all.” Not wanting to let go of Sirius now he had him back, Harry grasped at Sirius’ arm and pulled him from the room.
Following the completion of Harry’s tale Sirius had settled back into his chair, steepled his fingers and proceeded to just look at Harry without saying a word. After five minutes of this Harry couldn’t bear his silence any longer. The emotion of the day had already put him on edge and to have one of the most important people in his life merely stare at him mutely after he had laid everything on the line and asked for his help was just too much.
Harry reached his limit and exploded. “Come on Sirius! Say something! Anything! Don’t just leave me hanging here!” He dropped heavily into the large, squishy armchair by the fire and glared at the man.
Sirius cleared his throat and leant forward slightly. “Just to be clear here…” Harry mirrored his movement eagerly, awaiting the assessment of his godfather “…you and your best friend save my life twice, she then stands with you when you’re abandoned by everyone else and loyally stays by your side throughout the downfall of Voldemort, and at no point do you even attempt to date her? Is there something wrong with you?”
“SERIOUSLY? THAT’S WHAT YOU TOOK FROM THAT STORY?” Harry exploded.
“Oh Pup. We’ve clearly got some work to do.”
Andi, who had been watching the exchange from the corner of the room, managed to turn her snort of laughter into a cough but not quickly enough to avoid the glare Harry shot her. She took the opportunity to intervene before things got out of hand.
“As I said before Harry, Sirius is going to need regular checks from a healer for the foreseeable future, and he clearly can’t be trusted on his own so Ted and I thought it would make sense for him to stay with us for a while.” Despite his current irritation with his godfather, Harry did appreciate the opportunity to spend more time with him, something that Andi was eager to accommodate especially as it would give her a chance to reconnect with her favourite cousin.
Andi soon realised that having Sirius around had another benefit that she’d previously overlooked. She’d been steadily getting more anxious about Harry’s all-consuming focus on his plans and she could see it was affecting him even if he wouldn’t admit it himself. Large, dark bags had formed under his eyes, which had themselves taken on an almost permanent bloodshot condition. He was snappish and irritated and the boy that had found balance in the summer between working and enjoying life was in serious danger of disappearing altogether. What he needed was a chance to let off some steam and not take things so seriously, even if just for a little while. This was where Sirius had come in.
In spite of his years incarcerated in Azkaban, Sirius could see his godson was on the verge of cracking under the pressure of the tasks that lay before him and, without prompting from Andi, he took it upon himself to try to bring a little light into Harry’s life. He’d started a campaign of small, innocuous pranks in attempt to make Harry laugh – every small smile was a victory to Sirius – and was beginning to increase these in both scale and extravagance. Although subtlety had always been more of Moony’s strong suit rather than his, he believed he was getting along rather nicely. Harry was yet to respond with a prank of his own but Sirius had faith that, once the inevitable prank war began, he’d be more than capable of dealing with anything Harry could dish out.
There were two things however that Sirius hadn’t taken into consideration. First was Harry’s future relationship with the Weasley twins including the partial ownership of their joke shop, and second was the possibility that Harry was merely biding his time until his co-conspirator returned from Hogwarts for the Christmas holidays.
“Nymphadora!” exclaimed Sirius as she walked through the door, already shedding her coat to accommodate for the warmth inside the house compared to the freezing temperatures she’d escaped from outdoors. Sirius seized her and dragged her into a hug. “Little Nymphy! It’s been so long – look how big you’ve gotten!” Sirius was really laying it on excruciatingly thickly in an attempt to embarrass her. Due to the hug he was unable to notice the way Harry and Dora’s eyes met, confirming an alliance that had been discussed in letters between the pair. They had no plans to reveal this agreement to Sirius however – it would be much easier to catch him off guard if he thought he was only at risk of retribution from Harry.
For the first week after Dora’s return the pair did nothing. Sirius’s pranks grew more and more elaborate and had culminated in Harry arriving for breakfast that morning with his skin and hair dyed a brilliant Gryffindor crimson after Sirius had bewitched the shower. Furthermore, Harry had found himself unable to simply speak and instead had to croon every sentence as though he was channelling Celestina Warbeck and finally, Sirius had somehow managed to enchant every pair of his socks forcing Harry to incorporate a bizarre little dance into his walk every seven paces.
While Sirius was congratulating himself on his prank combination and clutching at his sides which were aching from laughter, Harry met Dora’s eyes and gave a small nod. It was time for Sirius to experience a little payback. The pair had decided to combine both Muggle and magical pranks, favouring a ‘shock and awe’ approach over playing the long game on this occasion. They were confident that Sirius wouldn’t know what had hit him.
Sirius had slept terribly. He’d woken up several times during the night due to quiet ringing noises that stopped the moment he got out of bed to investigate them, each time coming from a different location in his room. Eventually this had stopped and, exhausted, he’d managed to get back to sleep only to be awoken a few hours later by a loud, blaring noise right next to his ear. Immediately jerking upright he failed to notice a small string that had been tied to him. His movement caused the string to pull taut, triggering a levitated bucket of water to empty its contents all over him and his bed.
Grumbling and now unable to get back to sleep, he moved to the bathroom to start his day, only to discover an uncomfortable feeling in the rear of his pyjama trousers. Nervously reaching down he discovered the remnants of a soft, ripe tomato stuck to the top of his backside with the rest of the fruit smeared all over his posterior and the tops of his legs.
Sirius jumped in the shower to clean off and realised that he was experiencing Harry’s revenge. Despite the unsettling feeling that he wasn’t clear of pranks yet he smiled to himself, happy that his godson was relaxing a little. The shower was hot enough for steam to cover the mirror and so Sirius didn’t notice before leaving the bathroom, that his long black hair had turned platinum blonde. Nor did he notice that the toothpaste he had used that morning had dyed his teeth a delightful maroon colour.
Sirius edged his way downstairs, carefully checking each corner and doorway that he passed to ensure he avoided any further surprises. Entering the kitchen he was surprised to see Harry, Ted and Andi all sitting and consuming their breakfasts, not expecting them to be awake this early in the morning.
“Good morning everyone.” Sirius said as he surveyed the room, looking carefully for any further traps.
“Morning” came the chorused response. Sirius could see Harry’s shoulders quivering slightly and narrowed his eyes at him. Finally a snort became a laugh and all three of the people sat at the table collapsed in hysterics.
“What?” said Sirius, nonplussed. Andi simply conjured a small mirror and handed it to him, almost dropping it as her hands shook with mirth.
He first fixated on his hair “I look like a bloody Malfoy!” he bellowed before catching sight of the colour of his teeth and clamping a hand over his mouth. Dora then took the opportunity to enter the room and smirked at the sight of Sirius. She sat down and poured herself a cup of tea. “Tea cousin?” she asked innocently.
Sirius nodded, keeping a close eye on Harry who was watching him intently with a twinkle in his eye. He lifted the cup to his mouth and just before he took a sip, caught sight of Harry’s smile widening just a fraction. He stopped abruptly, looked at Dora who had maintained her expression of innocence, and slammed the cup down on the table before storming from the room, leaving behind gales of laughter.
“What did you two do to the tea?” Ted asked as he wiped tears away from the corners of his eyes.
“Nothing,” laughed Dora “but he’s now so twitchy he won’t trust anything all day.”
Eventually Sirius saw the funny side and congratulated the pair on their pranks. By the time Christmas was over and Dora had returned to school, Harry was much more relaxed about everything and looking forward to meeting his friends again.
“Mission accomplished.” said Andi to Sirius with a smile as they watched Harry unwinding with a book, curled up in his favourite armchair by the fire. Sirius just smiled back, delighted that he’d been able to help Harry in some way.
A/N: Hi all. Thanks for your continued support for this fic! As a first time author there's a certain thrill to opening my email and seeing notifications of new subscriptions and reviews - it never fails to brighten my day.
This is the last chapter before the return to Hogwarts and is packed with introductions to familiar faces. I'm not going to dive too deeply into those relationships for now but they will be built on in later chapters.
Thanks again for taking the time to read and I hope you're enjoying it as much as I am writing it.
Winter raced ahead, bringing with it flurries of snow and wintery storms, and freezing temperatures that left thick layers of ice on any watery surface. Harry felt much more at ease in his younger body and began to trust himself to be less likely to slip up in front of people who didn’t know of his future escapades, and so was excited to re-introduce himself to his soon-to-be schoolmates. Finally the day of their reunion – even if it was unknown to be so to all but one of the participants - arrived and Harry awoke and dressed early, eager to get to Longbottom Manor.
When Andi and Harry eventually arrived at the Longbottom’s home via floo, Neville and his gran were patiently awaiting their arrival. At the sight of Harry climbing from their fireplace, both his hosts had a countenance of shock on their faces. Harry remembered belatedly that Andi hadn’t told them who they would be meeting and so, remembering his lessons, Harry approached Neville’s grandmother and bowed to her.
“Regent Longbottom. A pleasure to meet you.” He took her proffered hand and lightly placed a kiss on the back. This seemed to bring the elder Longbottom back to her senses and when Harry glanced up at her she had an amused expression on her face and a slight twinkle in her eye.
“Welcome Heir Potter. What a pleasure it is to finally see you again. The last time would have been just after you were born.” She smiled indulgently at Harry and as he turned to Neville he could have sworn he heard her murmur “such a charmer” under her breath.
Neville looked just as Harry remembered him from his first year at Hogwarts; a chubby, slightly awkward pre-teen with an obvious streak of shyness that Harry was keen to help him overcome.
“Heir Longbottom.” Harry said in greeting, holding out his hand.
“Heir Potter.” Neville grasped his hand and gave it a quick, firm shake. He was clearly unsure what to make of the boy who had disappeared from the Wizarding world without a trace following his parent’s death.
Harry knew it was on him to break the ice as Neville’s timidness wouldn’t allow him to make the first overtures of friendship. Harry beamed a broad smile. “Please, call me Harry. I’ve been told that your mum was my godmother so as far as I’m concerned we’re family.”
Harry realised at once he’d made the right choice as a wide smile split Neville’s face. “I’m Neville. Gran can we…?”
“Go on, be off with the pair of you.” Augusta smiled as well, pleased to see her grandson clearly excited to have a new friend. “Susan and Hannah will be along later and I’ll send them to find you once they arrive.”
“C’mon Harry. I’ll give you the tour.”
An hour later, Harry and Neville were stood side-by-side, looking out over the wintry landscape of the grounds behind the manor. The late January sun didn’t have enough warmth to clear the frost from the tips of the grass of the well-manicured lawns, but Neville was talking non-stop about his plans for greenhouses and the plants he wanted to grow in them. Harry just grinned and listened to his friend chatter away, mentally trying to compare him to the shy and nervous young man he’d first met on the Hogwarts Express. He was surprised by how quickly Neville had come out of his shell, it had taken him significantly longer in the future to be this at ease with him, but he was glad to hear his friend so enthusiastic about something that made him truly happy.
“Neville!” Two voices called out in unison and Harry and Neville turned to see two young girls stood in the doorway, one with blonde pigtails and the other with shoulder length red hair. “Aren’t you going to introduce us?”
“Oh... ermm... yeah!” Neville, remembering his etiquette lessons, straightened and said grandly, “Heir Potter, may I introduce Heiress Susan Bones and Heiress Hannah Abbott.”
Harry strode over to the two girls who hadn’t moved from the doorway but stood with their mouths slightly open as they gaped at the young boy before them, astonished to be meeting the Harry Potter. He’d not known them particularly well in the future, only really in passing acquaintance from classes and the time they spent together in the DA. He immediately resolved to be friendlier with them this time around, not because of their future statuses as heads of their houses, but because he knew his closeness with Hermione and, in particular Ron (who at times had seemed to discourage others from even approaching him), had made it difficult for his schoolmates to get to know him in the future.
“Heiress Bones, Heiress Abbott, this is truly a pleasure. Please call me Harry.” Harry bowed to the pair then grinned up at them as they both flushed bright pink and burst out into giggles.
“Smooth Harry,” Andi stepped into the room with a smirk on her face. “I’m glad to see you’re taking your lessons seriously but if you keep that up you’ll spend all your time at school fending off witches.” Now it was Harry’s turn to blush. “I just wanted to let you know we’re going to be in the parlour, do you think you four can keep yourselves occupied for the next few hours?” Harry met her eyes and quirked his eyebrow slightly but a small, imperceptible shake of Andi’s head indicated that she’d fill him in later.
“I think we can manage that Mrs Tonks,” said Neville with a shy smile, leading his friends out of the room.
Andi watched them leave then returned to the parlour where Augusta was waiting alongside Susan’s aunt Amelia, and Hannah’s parents, John and Olivia. She closed the door quietly then turned to survey the room.
“Andromeda! What the… When you said you were going to reintroduce an heir to society you didn’t mention it was Harry bloody Potter.” John Abbott was an emotional man when circumstances were in his favour, and was blustering now things were out of his control.
“How is it that he’s with you?” Augusta queried. “Whenever I’ve asked Albus he’s intimated that Harry was living with his Muggle relatives but couldn’t allow anyone to know where that was.”
Andi gathered herself and spoke slowly. “What I’m about to tell you must remain secret. If any word of this gets out that young man out there could be in serious danger. I don’t like to do this but I need to ask you all to take an oath not to reveal what is said here today without permission.” She turned, looking specifically at Amelia who appeared to be about to object. “I promise you that nothing I tell you will stop you from performing your job as Head of the DMLE.”
Amelia studied Andi deliberately then gave a short, quick nod of acquiescence. Andi let out a breath that she didn’t realise she’d been holding and led the gathered adults in a secrecy oath before telling them all about Harry’s time with the Dursley’s, the part she and her family were now playing in Harry’s life, and Dumbledore’s disturbing fascination with the boy-who-lived.
“How could anyone treat a child that way?” the look of outage on Olivia Abbott’s face was mirrored on every other one in the room. “Especially a family member?”
“I’ve a good mind to pay them a visit and give them a taste of their own medicine.” Augusta Longbottom was not someone to be crossed at the best of times but the murder in her voice would have made even the bravest hearts cower in terror. “How could Albus have left the boy with those people and not checked up on him?”
Amelia frowned. “If everything you’ve told us is true, and I apologise if I seem sceptical about this, but are you able to prove Dumbledore’s involvement at all?” She’d never particularly liked the Hogwarts Headmaster but the thought that he could know a child was suffering and had actively chosen not to intervene was a step she was mentally struggling to make.
Andi considered Amelia and appeared to be weighing something in her mind. After a few moments she spoke, “Harry is able to prove it but it’s a… difficult… thing for him to talk about and not something he’s comfortable sharing. He only told Ted and I out of necessity. Would you mind if I spoke to him first? To see if he would be OK telling you?” Amelia consented and Andi turned to the others, “And would you all accept the proof if Amelia vouches for it?” she paused and looked each of them in the eye. She softened her voice, “Knowing Harry as I now do, I know he wouldn’t want to put anyone else in a position where they could be at risk. Amelia’s job gives her a measure of protection that the rest of you don’t have the benefit of, even in your roles as regents or heads of houses.” Augusta and the Abbotts shared a glance, then agreed.
Andi and Amelia arranged a time to meet the following day then, after collecting Harry from his friends, the pair returned the Tonks’.
The moment they arrived back at the house, Harry spun to face Andromeda. “What happened Andi?” he was disquieted by their rather abrupt departure.
“As we agreed I told them about the Dursleys, how you came to be here with us – though I made no mention of Professor Snape – and Dumbledore’s interference with your life. They’ve all sworn oaths not to tell anyone what we discussed, but Amelia Bones is asking for proof about Dumbledore.” She took a moment and watched Harry intently for his reaction to what she was about to say. “I think you need to tell her the truth. All of it. Your full history… well future I guess.”
Harry tensed. He’d already told more people than he’d intended to by involving Severus, but that had been out of his control. To intentionally bring someone else in on his secret was a huge step to take.
Andi took his lack of response as an indication to continue. “Just think about it for a moment. As Head of the DMLE she can help us, open doors that would otherwise be closed and not just in the fight against You-Know-Who –“
“Voldemort,” Harry growled “use his name, it’s only a bloody anagram anyway”
“- sorry, the fight against Voldemort, but also in the Wizengamot. You’ve got ridiculous, monumental challenges ahead of you Harry. I think her voice is one that would be best to have on your side.”
Harry considered this. Amelia Bones was clearly a force to be reckoned with - he remembered that she’d been murdered by Voldemort himself the summer after his fifth year at Hogwarts and decided that someone that monster had seen as a threat was an ally worth having. “Fine, but only her. Five people knowing my secret is more than I’m comfortable with.”
Andi gave a satisfied nod, she thought she’d have to fight him more to get his agreement. “Good. She’ll be here tomorrow. I’d suggest we get Sirius and Severus to come along as well. It will show our belief in you and give her a chance to ask us questions too.”
Harry, feeling apprehensive about the entire situation, assented then excused himself leaving Andi to make the arrangements.
The following day found the Tonks’, Sirius, Severus and Amelia all settled in comfortable chairs while Harry stood in front of the fireplace, watching the Head of the DMLE intently as he mulled over the information he was about to impart. Slowly, he began to speak.
“My name is Harry James Potter and I am 39 years old…”
Amelia had listened enraptured but her analytical mind allowed no details to slip past her. Although she didn’t interrupt Harry’s retelling, on several occasion she glanced at one of the others in the room, as if seeking confirmation of the truth. Each time she received a slight nod in return, corroborating the story she was hearing.
Eventually Harry trailed off and awaited the barrage of questions he just knew would be coming his way. He was surprised however when instead, Amelia stood calmly and moved to Harry’s side.
“We’ll get to Dumbledore later but first these… horcruxes?... you say you know where they all are?”
“I believe so. The locket at Grimmauld Place, the cup in the Lestrange vault, the diadem at Hogwarts, the diary at Malfoy Manor and the ring at the Gaunt shack.”
“And you know how to destroy them?”
“Basilisk venom or Fiendfyre did the job before. It’s just a shame there’s no way - that I know of anyway - to remove the horcrux without damaging the object. We’re talking about priceless relics from the founders of Hogwarts that are going to be turned into useless lumps of twisted metal.”
Amelia stared off into the distance, a pensive look upon her face. “I wonder…” Harry and the others waited in silence, allowing her time to work through her thought process. Eventually she spoke again. “Harry, last time did you speak to anyone else about the horcruxes? Seek any other method to destroy them?”
“No, Dumbledore made it clear that we should trust no one else with the information in case it got back to Voldemort. As for their destruction, Hermione, Ron and I talked it over but the only methods we found were the ones I’ve already mentioned. Why? Do you think there may be another way?”
“Possibly… I’ll need to look into it. Ask a few quiet questions.”
“OK – just be careful who you trust.” Harry contemplated this for a moment. “I’ll give you a list of every Death Eater that I know of so you can avoid them – there’s quite a few in the Ministry unfortunately. We’ll need to find a way to take care of them all at some point.”
“Show me the list when you’re done and I’ll add what I can.” Severus said with Harry and Amelia both inclining their heads in appreciation.
“I’ll get to work on it now.” said Harry, collecting some parchment and a quill before leaving the room.
“There’s so much weight on his shoulders,” sighed Sirius, watching the doorway his godson had left through. “As bad as he had it last time around it’s probably worse now – the fate of the entire Wizarding world resting on him? I’d crack under that pressure.”
“It’s far too much for one person to bear. He needs all the help he can get.” agreed Ted.
“So let’s help him.” Amelia said suddenly. “He doesn’t need to be involved in the gathering of the horcruxes, we could do that for him – carefully of course. From what he told us about Dumbledore’s hand after collecting the ring, it’s apparent there’ll be a number of protective enchantments or curses surrounding the objects. Let’s get them together and destroy them all in one go.”
A sly grin appeared on Sirius’ face. “As head of the house of Black I can get the locket from Grimmauld but I think I may be able to get our hands on the cup too.” He smirked as he looked around the room. “If I dissolve Bella’s marriage for bringing the family name into disrepute I can reclaim her dowry. I know it was substantial – who wants to bet there’s not enough gold in the Lestrange vault to cover the repayment? Years of funnelling money into Voldy’s pockets won’t have been cheap.”
“Any shortfall would have to be made up from other items in the vault…” said Ted, catching on to Sirius’ idea. “Good thinking Sirius.”
“And here’s something else I can do as head of the house of Black – tomorrow I’m visiting Gringotts and reinstating Andi into the family.” He sat back with a smug expression on his face while Andi looked shocked. She’d never regretted running away to marry Ted but it had hurt regardless to have been made an outcast from her own flesh and blood.
“You don’t have to do that Sirius.” she said weakly.
“I know I don’t have to. I want to.” Sirius spoke firmly. “It’s time we brought the Black family name out of the dark and into the light.”
Andi didn’t say a word but sent a grateful look to Sirius before turning and engulfing her husband in a huge hug. Ted knew how much this meant to her and tried to express his love and support through his embrace.
“Nice one Padfoot,” whispered Harry. He’d entered the room just in time to catch Sirius’ final declaration and was delighted to see Andi’s response. Sirius quickly caught him up on the plan while the Tonks’ composed themselves, and Harry was grateful for their offers of assistance.
“There’s one more thing I’ve been thinking of Harry…” Sirius paused and a nervous expression appeared on his face. “I’ve been thinking about other ways we can protect you – stop any chance of Dumbledore interfering again, and there’s something I want to ask you. You can say no if you want, I won’t be offended but I just thought I’d ask. I’d really like it if you would obviously, but I don’t want to pressure you…”
“Sirius – stop! Just say it.”
“What do you think about me adopting you?”
Harry gaped at Sirius. “You’d really do that for me?”
“Of course! You’re already my heir but this will make us officially family.” Now Harry hadn’t dismissed the offer out of hand Sirius looked a lot more confident and he beamed a smile at his godson.
Harry gnawed on his bottom lip. “Would I… have to change my name?” he asked tremulously. “Not that I wouldn’t like being a member of the Black family! It’s just… “Potter”. I got that from my Dad…”
Sirius’ face had begun to fall slightly at Harry’s question but his explanation pushed any personal feelings of disappointment aside immediately. “Legally you’d be ‘Harry James Black-Potter’ but you could still go by just Potter if you want. I understand it’s a link to your parents – I won’t be upset.”
Harry smiled up at him. “Thank you,” he whispered. “I’d like that very much.”
By the time summer rolled around Harry had been officially adopted into the Black family and his lessons with Andi had branched out to include politics, with Sirius now assisting with his training. Neville, Susan, Hannah and Harry had been joined in their regular get-togethers by the Greengrass sisters, Daphne and Astoria, and firm friendships had developed between them all. By the time of his 10th birthday, Harry felt more content and at ease than he had done at any point in either of his childhoods.
As he was now only a year away from starting Hogwarts he knew his friends would soon begin to receive their letters and his thoughts lingered more and more often on his bushy-haired best friend. He’d begged Severus to find out when Professor McGonagall was going to escort the new muggle-born students to Diagon Alley so he could arrange to be there on the same day. He knew he’d have to rebuild his friendship with Hermione all over again but had vowed to himself that he would be by her side and support her, just as she had supported him, throughout her entry into the condensed version of the Wizarding world that was Hogwarts.
Finally the day arrived and Harry, complete with the usual glamour that was applied when he needed to interact with other magicals, had a nervous energy and butterflies in his stomach. “It’s just Hermione” he told himself, trying to understand why he was getting so worked up. Sirius wasn’t helping matters, joking repeatedly about a second ‘first meeting’ between the two. He still hadn’t let up on the pair dating, despite Harry’s repeated protestations that he’d loved her as a sister in the future and nothing more.
“Oh? Is there a Potter sister I’m not aware of?” Sirius said drolly but not unkindly, “I can only assume your vast experience of sibling love is how you could tell the difference.” Harry had tried to respond but instead just spluttered before Sirius laughed and walked away.
They’d arrived in the Alley early, needing to meet with their Gringotts account managers before keeping an eye out for the arrival of the muggle-borns, but by the time they had finished at the bank the families were already conducting their own shopping in the stores that lined Diagon Alley. Harry looked anxiously around at the sea of faces, recognising Dean Thomas and Justin Finch-Fletchley in the crowd but unable to see the familiar brown locks of Hermione Granger.
“Calm down Pup,” Sirius muttered, “You’re making me nervous.”
“I can’t see her Sirius. What if something’s happened to her?”
“Think – if she’s not out here, where’s she likely to be?”
Harry beamed up at Sirius then shot off, weaving his way through the crowd until he arrived at the door of Flourish and Blotts. Taking a deep breath he pushed his way inside and peered around, seeking his friend with the same focus he used to apply to finding the Golden Snitch. He ventured further into the store, winding his way around other customers and between the towering floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that constantly looked as though they could topple over at any moment. Then he saw her.
Hermione Granger, all 4 foot 6 inches of her, complete with bushy brunette hair, pale skin and bucked front teeth, was stretching to reach a book on one of the higher shelves and hadn’t yet noticed Harry watching her.
“Well? Are you going to talk to her?” Sirius whispered, having eventually caught up with Harry. He was clutching his side and out of breath from his exertions following his godson as he’d dashed off.
“What should I say?” said Harry nervously, not wanting to ruin their second introduction.
“Is someone there?” Hermione suddenly called from further down the aisle. Sirius responded by giving Harry a shove in the back forcing him to stumble into her line of sight.
“Err… yeah… hi!” said Harry, trying to restrain himself from glaring over his shoulder at his godfather, who was smirking at him from the shadows. “Are you OK? Do you need some help?”
“Yes please,” Hermione was looking at him curiously. “The book I want is just a little out of my reach.”
Harry, who had been steadily approaching her and trying desperately not to stare at his long-time friend, glanced up at the shelves and was amused to see that the book in question was ‘Hogwarts: A History’. “Oh, this is a great book. You’ll love it! I’ve got a friend who’s read it so many times she could quote it word for word.” Harry gave her a small smile as he handed the heavy tome over to her.
“Thanks,” she said. She placed the book carefully to one side and held out her hand. “I’m Hermione Granger. Will you be a first year too?”
Harry reached out and swallowed as a small shock passed between them as their hands touched.
“Sorry, must be static build up.” she said, then stood, watching Harry with her head cocked slightly to one side. Eventually she broke the silence. “And you are…” she prompted
“Oh! Sorry! I’m Harry, Harry Potter.”
A slight frown appeared on her face as she regarded him. Her eyes narrowed slightly and there was a note of hostility in her voice when she spoke. “Are you really? You don’t look the way Harry Potter is described in books. I’ve been browsing for a while and there’s details in ‘Modern Magical History’, ‘The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts’ and ‘Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century’. All of those books say Harry Potter has black hair, green eyes and a scar on his forehead.”
“Normally I do,” Harry explained quickly, not wanting to get on Hermione’s bad side – although it didn’t appear too often, her temper had been legendary in the Gryffindor common room and it was well known to avoid it at all costs, “I’m under a glamour – I can’t make my way around shops without it. Too many people wanting a piece of the ‘boy-who-lived’." Harry said this last part with a tone of disgust.
“Yes… well… if you really are Harry Potter I guess I’ll see you at Hogwarts. Thank you again for the help with the book.” With a tight smile, Hermione turned and left Harry, heading back to the front of the store. Once she was out of sight Harry groaned, slid to the floor and put his head in his hands.
“Well,” said Sirius, appearing from around the far end of the shelves. “That could have gone better."
A/N: Wow! Massive apologies for the delay in getting this chapter out. I've been offered a new job recently and that ended up taking priority over almost everything else.
Based on the feedback I've received I've been trying to keep chapters in the region of 3000 words. This one blew that completely out of the water and I ended up at almost 7.5k words so I've made the decision to split this in two. So by way of an apology, there'll be two new chapters posted this evening.
Thank you all for your continued support and feedback. It's always appreciated.
Harry was in a funk following his meeting with Hermione, and his mood lasted almost a week before a missive from Gringotts forced his attention elsewhere.
A sealed envelope grasped in his hand, Harry strolled into the small, shared study in the Tonks house where Sirius was looking over information regarding the Black family holdings. “This just arrived for you Padfoot.” Harry handed the thin letter to his Godfather. “Gringotts seal on it.”
Sirius set his work to one side and took the offered letter. Tearing the envelope open he examined the contents. “The Goblins want to meet with me as soon as possible. There’s no mention of why but it’s probably best not to keep them waiting. Go get your formal robes on - responding to a request like this will be good experience for when you become head of house.”
Five minutes later Harry, wearing his finest robes complete with the crests of Houses Potter and Black over his heart, returned to the study to find Sirius waiting patiently for him.
“Are you going to apply my glamour before we go?”
“No need. The letter’s a portkey with an activation phrase. It’ll take us straight to Gringotts.”
Harry took hold of the letter offered to him and felt the familiar jerk from behind his navel as Sirius muttered the required words. He stumbled slightly upon landing but was pleased he managed to remain on his feet. Looking around he could see that they’d landed not in a communal arrival area, but instead directly into someone’s office.
“Where are we Sirius?”
“The Black account manager’s office – last time I was here was before Azkaban. It must be something major for us to be brought straight here…”
Sirius tailed off as the doors opened wide, admitting Black account manager Bogrod. “Ah, Lord Black – and you’ve brought a guest along too I see.”
“Account Manager Bogrod,” Sirius nodded politely in greeting. “I hope that’s not a problem. I felt it would stand him in good stead for the future.” Sirius gestured towards Harry “This is Harry Black-Potter, heir to House Potter and House Black.”
Harry stepped forward and gave a short bow. “Greetings Account Manager Bogrod. May the blood of your enemies wet your blades.”
“And may your vaults be ever overflowing Mr Potter.” Bogrod moved over to his desk and studied Harry. “Bedlam did mention your knowledge of Goblin etiquette. It’s uncommon to find a Wizard who will recognise our customs, let alone one as young as yourself.”
“Well Account Manager,” began Harry. “As I see it Goblins are as much a part of magical society as Wizards.” Harry allowed a grin to creep onto his face. “Plus you’d have to be pretty stupid not to respect the culture of the people looking after all your money.”
Bogrod stared at Harry, then threw back his head and let out a bellowing laugh. “Indeed Mr Potter. I do believe we’ll get along quite nicely.”
“Please, call me Harry.”
“Very well, and you may call me Bogrod.” With that he indicated for Sirius and Harry to take a seat.
Sirius watched this interaction with his mouth slightly ajar and shook his head in disbelief at the way his godson had put the notoriously pernickety Goblin at ease. “Bogrod – can I ask why my presence was requested today?”
“Certainly Lord Black,” Bogrod was immediately all business again. “Due to a lack of funds in the LeStrange vault a number of valuable objects were going to be transferred to you as part of the dowry repayment. In the course of determining the value of these objects we discovered a number were infused with dark magic. One in particular was of great concern to us – it appears to hold a fragment of someone’s soul. We have a ritual that can remove the taint…”
“You found another one?” Sirius interrupted.
“Another one?” Bogrod’s visage clouded over with anger. “What do you mean?”
“There was an item in the Black townhouse – a locket that reeked of dark magic. May I call my elf?” With Bogrod’s agreement Sirius called “Kreacher!” and a thin, hunched figure appeared in front of them. “How may Kreacher serve master?”
“I need you to tell Bogrod about the locket and what happened with Regulus”.
Kreacher recounted the history of the Black family dealings with the locket, from Voldemort’s request for an elf to Regulus’ self-sacrifice. “Master Regulus called it a ‘horcrux’ and charged Kreacher to destroy it. Kreacher has tried to follow his Master’s command but he has failed!” with that he flung himself at the desk and tried to smash his head against it in punishment, but Harry reached out and caught him before he could get there. “Kreacher, the Goblins know how to cleanse the locket. With their help you can fulfil Regulus’ last order.”
Kreacher froze. “Goblins can help?”
“Yes, we can.” Bogrod turned to Sirius. “Lord Black, can you instruct your elf to bring the item here? We can secure both objects until the ritual has been prepared.” A nod from Sirius was enough for Kreacher to disappear with a pop, only to return a few moments later with a sealed box.
“We put the locket in there. It seems to have an aura that negatively effects those around it so we stored it safely away until we could discover how to dispose of it.” Sirius paused and looked over at Harry who gave a small gesture to proceed. “We’ve been doing some research to see if we could find anymore – we couldn’t believe this was the only one that he had made and the proof seems to have been in the LeStrange vault.”
“And what did you learn?”
“We think there are more out there. Our best guess is he was aiming for a powerful magical number – most likely seven – although we don’t think he got that far before Harry here got the better of him. We think we’ve found indications of two, maybe three more.”
Bogrod pondered this information. “Thank you Lord Black. Would you please wait here a moment? There are others that need to be informed of this.” He stood from his comfortable seat behind the desk and strode from the room leaving Harry and Sirius alone. Harry looked over at Sirius and raised an eyebrow, receiving a shrug of the shoulders in return.
A few moments later Bogrod returned accompanied by Bedlam and a large, dangerous looking Goblin who Harry immediately recognised as Chief Ragnok, Director of Gingotts. Harry’s eyes widened a fraction - an audience with Ragnok was a rarity for a Goblin, let alone two human Wizards.
“Lord Black, Mr Potter – this is Chief Ragnok, the leader of the Goblin Nation.” Bogrod intoned.
Harry and Sirius both gave deep bows. “Chief Ragnock, it is truly an honor.” Sirius said respectfully, “May the blood of your enemies wet your blades.”
“And may your vaults be ever overflowing.” Ragnok returned their bow with a short one of his own. “Bogrod here has informed me you have information regarding the item that was discovered in the LeStrange vault. I’d like to hear what you have to say for myself.”
Sirius repeated what he had told Bogrod and, once finished, waited in silence as Ragnok scrutinised him. Abruptly the Goblin Chief leant forward.
“Lord Black, this is the first time we have met. Tell me, do you think me foolish? An idiot perhaps?”
“No… I…” Sirius stammered, suddenly concerned about whether he and Harry would make it out of the bank alive.
“Then why do you insist on wasting my time with fabrication? I can tell the essence of your story is truthful but you are being deceitful as to how you have come to acquire this information.” Ragnok then turned to include Harry in his glare. “I believe Mr Potter here has something to share?”
The fury in Ragnok’s scowl reminded Harry vividly that, whilst the Goblins controlled the financial side of the Wizarding world, they were primarily warriors and ones to be feared and respected at that. Harry chewed his bottom lip, unknowingly mimicking an action he’d seen Hermione do many times over the years when faced with a problem that required deep thought and consideration. He shot a fleeting look at Sirius and saw a small measure of fear in his eyes, before glancing over at the doors just in time to see two heavily armoured Goblins with large, sharp axes pulling them shut. He pulled his attention back to the hulking Goblin in front of him.
“Nothing to say Mr Potter? Let me tell you what I think.” Ragnok stepped toward Harry, forcing him to meet his eyes. Harry’s gaze flickered briefly again to Sirius who now found himself being watched carefully by the Black and Potter account managers. “The reports I’ve had of you indicate that you’re exceptionally mature for someone of your age. You’re polite and courteous to all Goblins you encounter unlike most of your kind. If you hadn’t proved your identity at your first meeting with Bedlam I’d suspect an imposter but you know things don’t you Mr Potter? Things you have no business knowing – especially having spent the first 8 years of your life ignorant of the Wizarding world. The question I need answered here is how do you know these things?”
Harry realised the choice he had to make was no choice at all. Bring them in on his plans or potentially lose his life to a very angry Goblin Chief. They could be powerful allies but their help always came at a price, what Harry didn’t know was what was this going to cost him? He took one final look around the room and, judging by the faces of his ‘hosts’ he understood that another partial truth would likely result in a one-way trip to the dragon pens. He took a deep breath, knowing once again he was being forced to reveal things he’d wanted to keep secret.
“What I’m about to tell you is known only by 5 others. If this information got out I’d be obliviated at the very least and possibly tossed through the veil in the Department of Mysteries.” Harry paused, drew himself up to his full height and looked steadily at Ragnok. “I will tell you the whole truth but I need your word that this goes no further than those already in this room.” Both Bogrod and Bedlam were incensed at the insinuation that they would leak privileged client information but stayed their response at a gesture from their leader.
“Very well Mr Potter. You have my word but we will want something in return. That something will depend on what you have to say, now sit and begin talking.”
Later that evening Sirius and Harry relayed the day’s events to a gobsmacked trio of Andi, Ted and Amelia. “What did the Goblins want in return for their silence Harry?” Ted asked.
“Political support in the future – something I was planning on doing anyway as part of an effort to strengthen ties with other magical races – and the occasional piece of future knowledge to help them ‘fortify’ their profits. I can’t help but feel we got off lightly.”
“Based on my dealings with them I’d have to agree.” Interjected Amelia. “I can only think their desire to see the end of Voldemort worked in your favour. They certainly wouldn’t receive anything like the co-operation you’re giving them in a country led by him. For what it’s worth, I think you made the right call.”
“More like the only call.” Sirius sighed. “There was little chance of us getting out of there any other way. Still, the Goblins have agreed to help recover the horcruxes – good job too, I wasn’t sure how we would get past whatever wards and curses are around the ring. They’re going to recover it and store it alongside the cup and locket ready for disposal.”
“Why aren’t they just destroying them?” queried Andi.
“I asked them not to just yet.” said Harry. “I think Dumbledore needs to be there to see the destruction actually taking place – I don’t think he’ll believe us and stop interfering any other way. Once all the horcruxes have been collected we’ll finish them in one go.”
With summer now well underway Harry’s thoughts returned to Hogwarts. He was laying on his back in the garden, looking up and watching wispy cloud meander their way across the blue sky when a familiar voice broke his contemplation.
“Hey Dora – how was school?”
“Pretty good – hard work though. N.E.W.T. years are brutal.” Dora scrunched up her face as though the memories were causing her physical pain. “I need to carry 5 subjects at Exceeds Expectations if I want to be an Auror and the Professors have really ramped up the workloads.” She flopped down onto the grass next to Harry, gave him a nudge and grinned at him. “Not that you’ll need to worry about that for a few years yet!”
“Sounds like you barely had time to breath this year, let alone get any pranks in?”
“I know! If I wasn’t so focussed on making the Academy I’d think it was a bit of a waste, but I’m not even close to being the main troublemaker at Hogwarts anymore. I’ve been well and truly eclipsed by a couple of Gryffindors.”
Harry smirked knowing full well who Tonks was talking about. “What did they do?”
“There’s an enormous clock tower in one of the courtyards at Hogwarts and they somehow made it blow raspberries on the hour rather than the sound the normal bongs. It was clever stuff, during the daytime it was loud enough to hear in Hogsmeade but at night it quietened right down. Took the Professors three weeks to stop it.”
Harry burst out with laughter. “Amazing. Sirius will enjoy that one.”
“You all ready to be an ickle firstie?” Dora winked at Harry.
“Between you and Sirius I think I probably know more about the castle than most of the other first years. I’ve been borrowing your old textbooks as well and reading up in advance – reckon I’ll be OK.”
“Just remember you’ve got your big sis there to show you the ropes. Any idea what house you’d like? I’m not biased or anything but the Sett is pretty comfy.”
“The Sett?” questioned Harry.
“Yeah, it’s what we call the ‘Puff common room. Y’know, like a badger’s home. Hufflepuff tends to get looked down on by the other houses – we’ve got a real mix of people and abilities but you’ll be hard pressed to find a better group of friends anywhere.”
“What about the other houses?”
“Well,” said Dora, thinking. “The four houses are supposed to take kids that have certain traits – loyalty and hard work for Hufflepuff, ambition and cunning for Slytherin, intelligence and wit for Ravenclaw and courage and determination for Gryffindor, but it’s not that straight forward. I know plenty of people that could fit in any of the houses if they’d been sorted there. Plus everyone has their own opinions of the other houses anyway.”
“Like what?” said Harry, genuinely curious to hear an outsiders view on Gryffindor.
“Ravenclaw’s tend to do well in class but they’re greedy about knowledge and horde information, rather than sharing it with others. Around exam time it’s a nightmare trying to get hold of books in the library as the ‘Claws have got them all checked out. Some of them can be pretty standoffish and think they’re better than everyone else. On the whole they’re generally respected for what they achieve but they’re often closer to Slytherin than anyone else personality wise.”
Dora paused, a pondering expression on her face. “Slytherin is almost entirely full of purebloods with the odd half-blood dropped in, so tends to have a lot of kids whose parents were on You-Know-Who’s side in the last war. They can be pretty devious, just like anyone else, but over the last few years some have started spouting nonsense about blood purity again – never in front of a Professor, but enough of the students have heard it. It’s got to be coming from their parents… Anyway, I think they get a bit of a bum deal at times. There are some honestly good people in Slytherin – I just hope they don’t get drowned out by the idiots. Mum was one when she was in school.”
“And Gryffindor?” Harry asked.
“’Where dwell the brave at heart!’ they like to say. The kids there tend to be headstrong, get into trouble more than almost anyone else, and can be incredibly reckless. But they stand up for what they believe in and are generally liked. They’ve got this long running feud with Slytherin – no one can remember why it started – but the sniping between the houses loses them more points each year than anything else. We ‘Puffs tend to get along with everyone but we’re almost universally seen as cast offs – the students that didn’t fit into other house, but we’re friendly and fairly relaxed. There’s no expectations on Hufflepuff to be the top student, or to be particularly brave or cunning so we get overlooked for almost everything. Still, I wouldn’t trade my time in the Sett for anything.”
Dora turned to face Harry. “So? Any thoughts on where you’ll end up?”
“Honestly, Gryffindor is appealing – both my parents and Sirius were there, but I reckon I’ll be sorted into either Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff. I like learning – I always did well at school before I was ‘convinced’ by my Uncle to not be better than my cousin, and I would like to think I’m loyal to my friends and work hard…”
“Not Slytherin then?” teased Dora.
“Can you imagine? In a house full of Death Eater children? I’ll be lynched within minutes of stepping into the common room!”
On Harry’s birthday, he and Sirius returned to Gringotts to formalise his acceptance as the head of Houses Potter and Peverell. It was a simple ceremony overseen by Bedlam that allowed Harry to appoint Andi as his proxy for both houses on the Wizengamot. As the next general meeting of the court wasn’t due to take place until the Winter Solstice in December, Harry knew he had time before his actions would come to light. In reality, very little would change as a result of his acceptance until he came of age – he still would not be able to access the main family vaults or sit in his own seats on the court, but regaining just a small measure of control over his life made Harry feel immeasurably better about the future.
“Lord Potter, may I be the first to offer you congratulations on behalf of Gringotts.” Bedlam bowed to Harry. “We all hope this will be the start of a long and profitable relationship for both parties.”
“My thanks Account Manager Bedlam to you and to Gringotts, but I thought we’d been over this already – regardless of any other agreements we may have, to my friends I am always Harry. I’d like to think that we are friends?”
“Of course Harry, my thanks to you in return. I would be honoured to call you a friend.” Bedlam paused for a moment, then shuffled some parchment on his desk and pulled one to the top of the pile. “Now that the ceremony is out of the way, there is one more piece of business we have for discussion. About the story books you asked us to investigate…”
“Yes! Did you manage to trace it back to Dumbledore?” Harry asked eagerly.
“Actually Harry, Dumbledore had nothing to do with the books.”
Harry sat back, surprised at the news. “Are you sure?”
“Positive. We followed the money from the publishers back to the original author and asked them a few questions. As it turns out, they’d overheard a drunk Rubeus Hagrid talking about the night he collected you from your parents’ house and took things from there. Albus Dumbledore was not involved at all in this case.”
“Well I’ll be damned… I was so sure he was involved.”
Sirius cleared his throat. “At the risk of sounding like a responsible adult here Harry, I think you may need to consider that not everything is the fault of Dumbledore. From what you’ve told me I can see how it would be easy to lay the blame for most things at his feet but perhaps you need to step back and look at things with fresh eyes?”
Bedlam nodded in agreement and handed Harry the parchment he’d been holding. “Take this away, look over the details and let me know how you want to proceed.”
Harry thanked Bedlam once again before leaving with Sirius. It appeared he had a lot to think about.
The 1st of September 1991 was hot, dry and sunny with not a cloud appearing in the calm, bright blue skies over London. Harry had woken early and made sure everything he was taking had been packed safely before heading downstairs to an early breakfast. Sirius, Andi and Ted were all planning on accompanying Harry and Dora to the station for Harry’s second ‘first’ year at Hogwarts, and Dora’s last.
Harry thought back to the previous night’s conversation with Ted. He’d remembered Molly Weasley’s loud words about muggles and her apparent inability to recall the platform number, and had asked Ted to wait outside the barrier to see if this would happen again. They’d already planned for Harry to meet up with some of his friends on the train and so would be at the station early, avoiding the troop of red-headed Gryffindors who’d had a tendency to arrive as close to departure as possible in his prior time.
He was also dreading the encounter with Dumbledore that would inevitably occur after the welcoming feast. Somehow Dumbledore had remained ignorant of Harry’s new family status – Severus had told him that the objects tied to Harry’s health in Dumbledore’s office were still ticking on nicely. He’d seen them during a meeting he’d been summoned to with the headmaster that contained no indication that he was aware of anything Harry had done in the last few years.
“Now Severus,” Dumbledore began, “Harry Potter will be joining us this year…”
“And I’m sure he’ll be as much of an arrogant toe rag as his father was before him.” Severus spat.
Dumbledore continued speaking, ignoring the words of his Potions Master. “…and I would hope you will be able to see past his outward appearance and deal with him as an individual, setting aside any preconceived notions you may have of him?”
“Yes Headmaster. Right up until he displays his true colours and then I will take the appropriate measures.”
Dumbledore sighed. “You are, of course, well within your rights to punish the students appropriately for misbehaviour but I must insist you not be too harsh on the boy. He has been ignorant of our world up until now for his own safety and it would not do us any favours to turn him away from us. I believe he has a further role to play in the future.”
“You still insist that the Dark Lord has not gone?”
“I believe that is the case. A simple look at your forearm would suggest I am correct. If Voldemort were truly gone would that mark still be visible at all? You yourself have told me it has faded since that Halloween night in 1981 but has not disappeared entirely.”
“Very well. I will reserve my judgement until I have met the boy but do not be surprised if he turns out as I expect.”
“Thank you Severus. That is all I ask.”
At precisely 10am the party arrived at Platform 9 ¾. Ted helped Dora and Harry onto the train and said goodbye to them both, before disappearing through the portal to await the arrivals of the Weasley’s. Harry and Sirius strolled along the platform for a while, chatting about inconsequential things until they reached the spot where Dolohov had made his attack.
“This is it Sirius. This is where it happened…”
Sirius reached out and placed a comforting hand on Harry’s shoulder.
“I didn’t even think about this… coming here again? I’ve been so focussed on preparing myself for what’s coming…” Harry took a deep, shaking breath. “I was stood right here… this was the last place I saw my family.” With that, Harry broke down into tears and clung desperately to Sirius who had pulled him into a tight hug, allowing Harry to sob into his chest. After a few moments the tears stopped and Harry gathered his emotions again. Wiping the tears from his cheeks he took another deep breath and let it out slowly. “Thanks Sirius.”
“Don’t mention it pup,” Sirius said gently. “They’ll never leave you, just remember you’re back here to help build a future they would be proud of.” Sirius glanced up over the top of Harry’s head and caught sight of a brown haired girl who seemed to have been watching them, turning away quickly and climbing onto the train. “Now, straighten up and get ahold of yourself. I do believe Miss Granger has arrived.”
“Hermione’s here?” Harry’s turned, wiping his face one more and looking down the platform for a sight of his friend.
“She’s just got into the forth carriage. Why don’t you go introduce yourself again? Hopefully you’ll do better than that shambles in the bookshop.” Sirius grinned mischievously at Harry and received a punch on the arm in return. “Hey!” he said, rubbing the now sore spot where Harry had made contact.
“In all seriousness Sirius, thank you. For everything you, Ted and Andi have done so far, and for believing me.” Harry pulled him into one final hug.
“You’re welcome pup. Now get going!”
Harry made his way along the train until he found Hermione sat on her own, looking out of the window onto the platform. He hesitated at the doorway and wiped his clammy hands down his front. Why was he so nervous? He’d felt the same way when they’d met in Diagon Alley but before he could follow that train of thought any further, she spoke.
“Are you just going to stand there and stare at me all day or are you going to come in?”
Harry took a breath and stepped into the compartment. “Sorry… it’s just I recognised you from the Alley and the last time we spoke didn’t seem to go particularly well…” Hermione looked at Harry with a puzzled expression on her face. “We met in Flourish and Blotts – I helped you reach a copy of Hogwarts: A History. I’m Harry Potter. You’re Hermione right?”
“Yes, Hermione Granger. So that was you? I’m sorry if I was impolite in the shop, it was all just a little overwhelming.”
“No – not a problem at all! Listen, I’m supposed to be meeting some friends in a bit, would you like to join us?”
“Yes thank you… You say you’re meeting some friends? Will they also be first years?” Hermione looked quizzically at Harry.
“Yeah, I’ve known them for a couple of years now. Neville, Susan, Hannah and Daphne. All of us are heirs to our houses and we ended up learning about politics and etiquette together…” Harry trailed off as he noticed a strange expression on Hermione’s face. “Are you OK?”
“Of course!” she replied hastily. “It’s just strange to hear you talk about needing training on being the head of a house. It sounds like something out of the Victorian era.”
Harry chuckled. “Oddly that’s pretty much bang on the money. In some ways the Wizarding world is stuck in the past, that’s something I’m hoping I can help fix once I come of age.”
Harry grabbed Hermione’s trunk for her and carried it to the compartment he’d stowed his things in earlier. Just as they sat down, Dora poked her head through the door. “Harry – some of my friends have just arrived so I’m going to head off to sit with them.” She eyed Hermione who appeared to be staring at her bring pink hair. “Everything OK here?”
“Yeah. Hermione, this is Dora Tonks. Dora’s not her full name but I can’t tell you that under pain of death. She’s basically been my adopted big sister for the last few years.”
“Wotcher Hermione,” Dora said with a grin before turning back to Harry. “I’ll be a few carriages up if you need anything.” With that she withdrew her head and headed back up the train.
“Are you sure you’re OK Hermione?” Harry asked again.
“Yes, I’m fine. It’s just all a little… overwhelming. Will you tell me more about yourself?” She gave Harry a small, shy smile. “About your family I mean. I’d read somewhere that you lived with your muggle relatives but now it seems you’ve got a witch as an adopted sister and a raft of magical friends?”
“Yeah, my muggle relatives didn’t really care for me so I moved in with my Godfather’s cousin, and was eventually adopted by him. Legally my name is Harry Black-Potter but I only use Potter – it helps me feel connected to my parents.”
Hermione leant across and briefly clasped Harry’s hand in sympathy. The pair felt another shock, similar to the one they’d experienced in the bookstore but not as sharp this time, and Hermione sat immediately back in her seat and listened to Harry talk.
Harry had noticed that Hermione seemed to be much more relaxed than on their previous first journey. She wasn’t speaking at a mile a minute, nor was she demonstrating her bossy nature that had so ‘endeared’ her to Harry and Ron, but Harry pushed these concerns aside, just happy to be in the company of his best friend again.
Suddenly the door to their compartment slid open. “My Lord Potter! What an absolutely spiffing pleasure it is to see you again my dear fellow!” A slightly chubby young boy stood in the doorway and was throwing a mock bow in the direction of Harry, who shot an apologetic grin to Hermione before standing.
“Heir Longbottom! May I just say this is an honour and a delight! It would have been almost criminal for us not have had the opportunity to have a jolly good chinwag on this journey!”
“Move out of the way Nev – this trunk is heavy!” A girl’s head appeared over Neville’s shoulder and pushed him into the compartment. “Hi Harry!”
“Hi Susan – good to see you again.” smiled Harry. “You too Nev. No Trevor with you?”
“No, I left him at home with Gran. I took your advice – he’ll just end up getting lost.”
“Trevor is Neville’s pet toad,” Harry said to Hermione. “Guys this is Hermione Granger – she’s a first year too. Hermione, this is Neville Longbottom and Susan Bones… and this is Hannah Abbott.” Harry pointed at the blonde, pigtailed girl who had just stumbled in dragging her trunk behind her. Hermione had only just waved hello when they were interrupted once more by another tall blonde girl who was introduced as Daphne Greengrass.
They settled into their seats and began the friendly banter that comes easily to people that have known each other for a while but went to great lengths to include Hermione in their conversations, something that both Harry and Hermione were grateful for. Hermione hadn’t really had many female friends at Hogwarts, having spent most of her time with Harry and Ron, so Harry was pleased to see her engaging with the others.
Harry joined in the discussions but continued to peer out of the carriage window towards the portal from the muggle side of Kings Cross station, bouncing his leg distractedly as though he was waiting for something. At 10:57 he stilled abruptly and Hermione glanced outside to see a family with bright red hair scampering onto the platform and hurriedly loading their trunks onto the train. A woman, who looked like she was probably their mother, was shouting at them and trying to hurry them onto the train, looking harassed as she glanced up and down the platform. She turned her head and peered at their compartment window and Harry immediately ducked back out of sight.
“Is everything OK Harry? Do you know that woman?” Hermione asked quietly so the others in the compartment couldn’t hear.
“No, no. Everything’s fine.” He said, shooting Hermione a smile and rapidly changing the subject, missing Hermione’s considering gaze as the door opened once more to show the youngest red headed boy from the platform who was staring at Harry. “Hi, I’m Ron – everywhere else is full, do you mind if I sit here?”
Susan looked around the compartment with a bemused expression. “But this one is full too you see? Six seats, six people?”
“Oh…” Ron stuttered. “Ermm… I could just squeeze in…”
“Sorry mate,” said Harry suddenly standing and making Ron take a step back “but there’s really no room. Maybe try the next one down?” He flashed Ron a tight smile and closed the door before sitting back down.
“What was that about?” Hermione asked.
“Something we all expected. He wasn’t the first, and he certainly won’t be the last person who wants to be friends with ‘the-boy-who-lived.” said Daphne with a touch of warning in her voice. “We all learnt quite early on that if you want to get to know Harry you have to set that all to one side.”
“I don’t think Hermione is going to have that issue,” Harry said with a laugh. “She was really quite rude to me the first time we met.” He grinned at Hermione and her cheeks flushed as Harry recounted the story of their meeting.
With the train underway the compartments occupants all settled in for the long journey. Hermione had dug into her trunk and pulled out a book which she now appeared to be engrossed in. Harry had done the same but occasionally shot glances over the top of his book at Hermione, trying to figure her out. She was still the Hermione he remembered, but seemed more rounded somehow, closer to the way he remembered her in their later school years than their first. He was trying to make sense of things when the door slid open once more and the confrontation he’d been expecting stepped into the compartment.
"Is it true?" the boy said. "They're saying all down the train that Harry Potter's in this compartment. So it's you, is it?"
"Yes," said Harry. He was looking at the other boys who had lingered in the doorway.
"Oh, this is Crabbe and this is Goyle," said the pale boy carelessly, noticing where Harry was looking. "And my name's Malfoy, Draco Malfoy." (1)
“Ah!” Harry stood and held out his hand. “I was wondering if we’d meet today, my Godfather said you would be attending Hogwarts this year Heir Malfoy. Allow me to introduce myself and my companions. I am Lord Harry Black-Potter, Head of House Potter and House Peverell and Heir to House Black. These is Heir Neville Longbottom and Heiresses Susan Bones, Hannah Abbott and Daphne Greengrass. And finally this is Miss Hermione Granger. A pleasure to meet you.”
Malfoy stepped back, thrown by the unexpectedly cordial greeting. Automatically he reached out and shook Harry’s hand. “The pleasure is mine Lord Potter.”
“Please, call me Harry.” He said with a smile. “If you don’t mind we’d all like to get to know you a little better – after all we’ll all be working together on the Wizengamot one day. Would you mind if we perhaps arranged to catch up once we were all settled in at school?”
“Of course Harry. Call me Draco. I look forward to it.” He gave a short bow to the girls and a brisk nod to Neville and backed out of the compartment with a confused expression on his face.
Harry sat back down to words of approval from his friends at the way he’d dealt with the situation but missed another evaluating look from Hermione over the top of her book.
“Firs’ years! Firs’ years this way!” The enormous figure of Hagrid towered over the sea of schoolchildren who were now mingling on the Hogsmeade station platform. Harry kept his head down, unable to show his familiarity with Hagrid as they were yet to officially meet, and instead walked alongside Hermione as the first years all made their way down to the small boats that would carry them across the black lake and give them their first sight of the castle that would be their homes for the next seven years.
“No more than four to a boat!” Hagrid called as Ron tried to squeeze himself onto the craft that contained Harry, Hermione, Neville and Daphne. Ron gave a huff and walked off to look for space elsewhere, then, as the last child was seated, they were swept silently onto the lake.
“Watch yer ‘eads here” called Hagrid as they approached a low rocky outcropping. Harry nudged Hermione. “Keep an eye out – you’re not going to want to miss this.” he whispered.
Suddenly the small boats swung round a corner and the illuminated marvel that was Hogwarts came into view. Gasps could be heard all over as the youngsters took in their first view of the school. Hermione took the opportunity to steal a glimpse at Harry. His eyes were shining and he had a wide beaming smile on his face as he gazed up at the castle.
Eventually they came to a stop at the bottom of a wide stone staircase that led up to an enormous pair of doors. Hagrid ascended first and used a heavy iron ring to knock on the door, which was opened almost immediately by the stern, but familiar face of Minerva McGonagall.
“The firs’ years Professor McGonagall.”
“Thank you Hagrid, I’ll take them from here. Follow me everyone, and stay together.”
Harry tuned out the Deputy Headmistress as she began to explain the houses and instead looked around the antechamber the students had been gathered in. He caught Neville’s eye and shot him a small grin, barely noticing his former head of house leaving the room. The scream that echoed around the chamber caught him by surprise and he jumped as the Hogwarts ghosts filtered through the stone wall next to him.
Moments later Professor McGonagall returned and led them all into the Great Hall. Hermione was walking next to him and opened her mouth to speak but, unable to resist, Harry nudged her and said “Look at the ceiling, it’s enchanted to look like the sky outside. I read about it in Hogwarts: A History.” A look of irritation flashed across Hermione’s face but was swiftly replaced by a glare. Harry tried desperately to stifle the giggles welling up inside him and managed to regain control as the Sorting Hat was placed on a stool in front of them and began to sing.
Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.
You can keep your bowlers black,
Your top hats sleek and tall,
For I’m the Hogwarts Sorting Hat
And I can cap them all.
There’s nothing hidden in your head
The Sorting Hat can’t see,
So try me on and I will tell you
Where you ought to be.
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart;
You might belong in Hufflepuff,
Where they are just and loyal,
Those patient Hufflepuffs are true
And unafraid of toil;
Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind;
Or perhaps in Slytherin
You’ll make your real friends,
Those cunning folk use any means
To achieve their ends.
So put me on! Don’t be afraid!
And don’t get in a flap!
You’re in safe hands (though I have none)
For I’m a Thinking Cap! (2)
The hall broke into applause following the song but soon fell silent as Professor McGonagall stepped forward and began to read name from a list.
Hannah stepped forward after giving Susan’s hand a quick squeeze, then sat on the stool facing the other first years.
“Hufflepuff” whispered Harry, quietly enough so no one else would be able to hear. Concentrating on the sight before him, he missed the sharp intake breath from his side.
“HUFFLEPUFF” roared the sorting hat and the table of students nearest to him burst into cheers.
There was a slight pause before the next name was called as the Hogwarts Deputy glanced up at the Headmaster.
Whispers and muttering broke out around the hall. “Did she say Black-Potter?” The Headmaster stared down at Harry as he made his way forward and placed the hat on his head.
“Well, well, well. This is unexpected.” The hat spoke once again directly into Harry’s mind. “I see I’ve sorted you before. Now how did that come to pass?” The hat sorted through Harry’s memories, learning all about the tasks he had to accomplish. “A Gryffindor last time eh? Well that won’t help you achieve your goals. I agree with your assessment as to your likely destinations, now which one to choose…”
“Whatever you decide is fine,” thought Harry anxiously “but please don’t tell the Headmaster my secret.”
“Not to worry Mr Potter. This will be kept in the strictest confidence, though I would like the opportunity to talk with you further in the future.”
“Of course.” Harry suddenly became aware of the murmuring of students around him and realised he’d been sat on the stool for a number of minutes now. “Ermm… could we hurry things along a little please? I’m a little uncomfortable with the looks I’m getting.”
The hat brim opened wide and it seemed the students were collectively holding their breath and leaning forwards in anticipation.
A shocked silence filled the hall. A confused sounding “We didn’t get Potter?” emanated from the Gryffindor table but the silence was broken fully by one of the students waiting to be sorted.
Ron Weasley couldn’t believe his ears “Wait? Potter’s a duffer?”
“Detention. Tomorrow night and for the rest of the week.” stormed Professor Sprout, looking enraged at the disrespect shown to her house by a student yet to be sorted. The Hufflepuff table looked angrily at the youngest Weasley brother who appeared to shrink in on himself.
“Mr Black-Potter, would you please join your house so we can recommence with the sorting?” Professor McGonagall took the hat from Harry as his new housemates finally caught up with what had happened and exploded with delight for their newest Badger.
Harry sat down at the table opposite Hannah then looked around – first grinning at Dora who was cheering for him like mad, then up at the head table where he caught a brief nod from Severus and avoided the Headmaster’s stare altogether. He was pleased to notice there was no twinge of pain when the back of Quirrell’s head was turned towards him.
“Hufflepuff” whispered Harry.
Susan joined her friends to loud cheers and sat herself next to Hannah. She flashed Harry a wide smile before turning back to watch the rest of the sorting.
“Boot, Terry!” McGonagall called.
“RAVENCLAW” bellowed the hat.
Harry continued to whisper each house ahead of the sorting hat’s decision including Daphne’s return to Slytherin. Whilst unaware of the eyes that were lingering on him, he was correct each time right up until the name of his best friend.
Harry looked down at the table in disappointment. He knew he’d done what was necessary by being sorted away from Gryffindor, but it still hurt that he wouldn’t get to spend every day with his friend this time round. He didn’t watch as Hermione stepped up and pulled the hat down onto her head, nor did he see her face twitch at the discussion she was clearly having with the hat.
“Gryffindor” Harry whispered sadly.
“HUFFLEPUFF!” roared the sorting hat.
Once again his housemates burst out in cheers for the newest addition to the Sett. Harry’s head snapped up and he locked eyes with Hermione as she strode toward him. Taking the empty space next to him she leant over and whispered ten words into his ear before pulling him into a hug.
Harry’s brain took a moment to kick in and process the words she’d said before he grabbed her and returned the hug with everything he had.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”
(1) Lines you recognise here are taken directly from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone.
(2) Sorting hat song taken directly from Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone.
A/N: Wow! That was quite the reaction to the end of chapter 13. I'm glad you all appear to have enjoyed it!
Whilst no one has called me out on it, I did take a bit of artistic licence by bumping Daphne ahead of Hermione in the sorting. Alphabetically she should have come after but I wanted to include her sorting in there.
So on to chapter 14 - I found this much easier to write than I anticipated so I'm publishing a little earlier than planned. Having seen the scale of responses I wanted to get this out ASAP. As always, your feedback is welcomed :)
Harry looked down at the table in disappointment. He knew he’d done what was necessary by being sorted away from Gryffindor, but it still hurt that he wouldn’t get to spend every day with his friend this time round. He didn’t watch as Hermione stepped up and pulled the hat down onto her head, nor did he see her face twitch at the discussion she was clearly having with the hat.
“Gryffindor” Harry whispered sadly.
“HUFFLEPUFF!” roared the sorting hat.
Once again his housemates burst out in cheers for the newest addition to the Sett. Harry’s head snapped up and he locked eyes with Hermione as she strode toward him. Taking the empty space next to him she leant over and whispered ten words into his ear before pulling him into a hug.
Harry’s brain took a moment to kick in and process the words she’d said before he grabbed her and returned the hug with everything he had.
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”
“Hermione? My Hermione?” Harry whispered incredulously, unwilling to relinquish her from his grasp.
“Your Hermione?” she laughed softly “Well, I suppose I am in a way. I wouldn’t have spent a year living in a tent for just anyone Harry.” Hermione pulled back from the hug and looked affectionately at Harry. “I’ve missed you.”
“I’ve missed you too.”
“Errr… guys?” Susan hissed at the pair from the other side of the table. “You might want to continue your conversation a little later?”
Breaking eye contact Harry looked around the hall and was mortified to find that proceedings had ground to a halt while everyone gaped at the two first year Hufflepuffs, many craning their necks to get a better view of the boy-who-lived and the young lady who had greeted him so warmly.
“Yes. Well, now Mr Black-Potter and Miss Granger have got that out of their system…” Professor McGonagall said sternly, “Hopkins, Wayne!”
“Meet me in the common room after everyone is asleep” whispered Hermione. “We’ve got lots to talk about.”
Finally the sorting was over. Neville had returned to Gryffindor while Ron Weasley had waited with the sorting hat on his head for several minutes before eventually being sent the same way, something that surprised many as the Weasley’s were well known for their almost automatic presence in the Gryffindor tower.
“Now then,” said Albus Dumbledore grandly, surveying the Great Hall from his position behind the large, golden owl lectern that stood in front of the head table. The students had all immediately fallen silent as he stood “I do have a few notices to give out but…” the Headmaster was interrupted by the sound of Ron Weasley’s stomach growling loudly, “…as Mr Weasley has helpfully indicated, there are better times to do so. For now I’ll just say this. Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!” With that he swept his arm across the hall and dishes piled high with all different kinds of food appeared in front of the children. Wasting no time they all began to dig in but once their immediate hunger was satisfied, conversation began to flow between the students with Susan and Hannah taking the lead by introducing themselves to their classmates.
“Hi everyone - I’m Susan Bones.” Susan spoke confidently to the others. “Hannah and I basically grew up together - my Auntie is Head of the DMLE so Hannah’s parents helped to look after me when she got called away. We met Harry a couple of years ago through Neville Longbottom – he’s over in Gryffindor – and we’ve been friends ever since.” She beamed a smile round at the group.
Harry and Hermione hadn’t really interacted with many of their new housemates originally, and as times had grown darker and more dangerous, many of them had been withdrawn from Hogwarts as their families left for safer climes. Justin and Ernie were familiar faces but Wayne Hopkins, Sophie Roper and Megan Jones were entirely new to the pair and they looked forward to making some new friends outside of the semi-insular society of Gryffindor.
Ernie hadn’t yet developed the level of pomposity that he’d displayed in later years and once Harry had got past the formal introduction of himself as Lord Potter to the heir of the Macmillan family, he found he was able to chat quit freely with both the muggle-born and pureblood wizards.
Hermione however, found herself in an unfamiliar situation. Due to her acceptance by Harry on the train, Hannah and Susan had immediately included her in their conversations and seemed keen on adding her to their friendship group. After leaving Hogwarts Hermione had found that being one of the ‘golden trio’ and having helped saved the wizarding world wasn’t particularly conducive to being approachable or creating new, genuine friendships, and she had often missed having people she could talk to that weren’t colleagues or family. Spending seven years living with two of the largest gossips in Hogwarts also meant that she’d always been quite guarded but Susan and Hannah seemed determined to bring her out of her shell.
“So Hermione,” Hannah began with a twinkle of amusement in her eye, “is there something you and Harry need to tell us?”
The pair blushed but Hermione recovered quickly. “Harry and I actually went to school together for years. We were really close friends but we lost touch...”
Harry took over smoothly. “I withdrew from the Muggle school I’d been attending when I moved in with my new guardians and couldn’t contact anyone from my past. The people I’d been living with before didn’t like me very much and I ended up leaving them in a hurry.”
This statement was met with silence from the group. Harry had never spoken of his childhood so this was new to Susan and Hannah. Hermione had gripped Harry’s hand tightly under the table and shot him a look that he knew meant they’d be talking about this further later on.
“But you’re Harry Potter!” Ernie spluttered. “You’re the boy-who-lived! Surely things can’t have been that bad?”
Harry visible flinched at the title he’d been saddled with. He’d avoided the general public over the last couple of years and had allowed himself to forget the veneration with which he was treated by the masses for something that had happened to him rather than had been done by him. Susan and Hannah immediately fixed Ernie with glares that made him visibly wilt but Harry interjected before the pair, who were generally very protective of their friend, could make their feelings known.
“Girls, it’s fine.” Harry turned to Ernie, “I’d prefer you don’t call me that if you don’t mind. I may have survived the killing curse that night but it’s a constant reminder to me that my parents didn’t.”
Ernie stuttered an apology having never considered things from that perspective before, but Harry waved it away. “No harm done.” He said with a smile.
At the conclusion of the feast Dumbledore stood and gave the expected notices, including the warning that the third-floor corridor on the right-hand side was out of bounds. Harry found it oddly comforting to know that the changes he’d made since his return didn’t appear to have affected matters to the extent where the school would not be hosting the Philosopher’s Stone and let out a soft sigh that, once again, had Hermione squeezing his hand.
As the students rose to leave the Great Hall, Professor Sprout approached Harry. “Mr Black-Potter, the Headmaster has asked for a few minutes of your time. I will show you the way to the common room afterwards.”
“Of course Professor.” Harry nodded to Hermione, indicating that he had expected such a meeting. Typically Dumbledore hadn’t allowed Harry an evening of rest before demanding his presence and it was with heavy legs that Harry followed the head of Hufflepuff out of the hall and up to the 7th Floor where she stopped in front of a stone gargoyle.
“Jelly Slugs” intoned Professor Sprout and the gargoyle moved aside to allow access to the winding staircase that led to the headmaster’s office. She glanced at Harry, shrugged and simply said, “The Headmaster is rather fond of sweets.” She knocked and waited for a response from within before opening the door and escorting Harry inside.
“Ah! Harry my boy. Thank you Pomona that will be all.” Dumbledore’s eyes were already twinkling as he presented his best grandfatherly face to the youngster stood in front of him.
“Actually Headmaster, I’d prefer Professor Sprout stay if you don’t mind. As I don’t know why you’ve asked me here I’d feel better if my head of house was present too.”
Harry’s reasonably stated request wasn’t something Dumbledore could deny but Harry saw the twinkle in his eyes falter for a moment at the fact that he wasn’t immediately trusted by the boy.
“Of course! Of course!” Dumbledore waved his wand and conjured two comfy armchairs, indicating for his visitors to take a seat.
“Now Harry. I must say it was rather a shock to hear your name called as Black-Potter. I was hoping you’d would enlighten me as to why that is? I wasn’t aware of a change in your guardianship?”
Harry ensured his occlumency walls were firm before responding. “Yes Headmaster. I was adopted by my godfather just over a year ago. Officially I’m Harry Black-Potter but I only use Potter unless I have to.”
“I see. I’ll make sure the Professors are aware.” Harry nodded his thanks. “I assume you are still living with your Aunt and Uncle?”
“Oh no Sir!” Harry said with the enthusiasm that was expected of him, but not felt. “I haven’t lived with them since I was 8 years old.”
Dumbledore hid his shock and threw a surreptitious glance at the many trinkets that lined his shelves, wondering how he could have missed that information. “I really feel you should return to live with them again Harry. There are protections on that house that will keep you safe from any that would want to harm you.”
Harry struggled not to snort with laughter, recalling the night he’d fled the property. “That would be difficult Sir. Firstly I don’t believe my godfather would allow that to happen as he has a house of his own, and secondly my relatives no longer live there.”
This time Dumbledore was unable to hide his surprise. “Do you know where they are?”
“Yes Sir.” Harry knew where the headmaster was taking this before he’d even spoken.
“I really do believe it would be in your best interests to stay with them over the summer holidays.”
“That won’t be possible Sir.” Harry remained calm while Professor Sprout’s head turned back and forth as though she were watching a tennis match.
Irritation began to show in Dumbledore’s tone. “And why not?”
“Well Sir, my Aunt and Uncle are currently guests of Her Majesty at Wormwood Scrubs.” Harry now stood from his chair, an action swiftly mirrored by Professor Sprout. “It turns out the muggles aren’t fond of people that keep their nephews in a cupboard under the stairs for 8 years whilst beating them almost to death. They were both sentenced to 15 years in prison for their crimes.” Harry was now trembling with anger and knew he had to get out of the room before he said something that would get him in serious trouble. “Now if you don’t mind Headmaster, that’s dragged up memories I’d rather forget. I’ve had a long day so I’d like to see my friends and the place I’ll call home for the next seven years.”
Harry now turned and stormed from the room without waiting to be dismissed. Professor Sprout glared at Dumbledore than strode after her new Badger, leaving the headmaster sitting in a stunned silence behind his desk.
On descending the stairs, Professor Sprout found Harry leaning with his head pressed against the cold stone castle wall. “I’m sorry Professor, that wasn’t very respectful of me. It just brought up some memories I would have preferred to have left buried.”
“I think it was quite understandable Mr Potter.” She reached out and placed a hand on Harry’s shoulder. “If you ever need to talk I’m always willing to listen. As long as I’m not currently teaching a class I’ll be happy to take some time with you.” She smiled at Harry who was surprised – he’d always felt McGonagall was too busy to deal with individual student issues and after being brushed off about the Philosopher’s Stone the first time round, he’d not really bothered to seek her out again, instead preferring to deal with things himself.
“Now! Time to head to the common room. We’ll go back to the Great Hall first and set out from there so you know how to find your way for breakfast tomorrow.”
Professor Sprout led Harry down a route he’d been very well acquainted with previously. Once they reached the corridor that housed the Hogwarts kitchens, they proceeded past the entrance to a shadowy recess set into the right hand side of the passageway. A pile of large barrels were stacked inside and Harry stopped just in front of them, looking quizzically at his head of house.
“Pay attention here Mr Potter. You see the barrel in the middle row, two from the bottom? To access the common room you simply have to tap out the rhythm of the name ‘Helga Hufflepuff’ on this barrel.”
“What happens if you use the wrong barrel or rhythm?” Harry asked curiously.
Professor Sprout smiled warmly, “All the other barrels are filled with vinegar and one of them will burst open, so do make sure you pick the right one won’t you? Now, watch carefully.”
Professor Sprout tapped out the correct rhythm and the front of the barrel swung open to reveal a sloping, earthy passage that led gently upwards. The pair followed the path until they came to the round, low-ceilinged common room, decorated in the Hufflepuff colours of yellow and black and filled with colourful plants and flowers. A large portrait hung on one of the walls showing Helga Hufflepuff holding what Harry instantly recognised as the cup Voldemort had turned into a Horcrux. He was looking forward to the Goblins cleansing the items so they could be returned to their rightful homes at Hogwarts.
Embedded into the walls were round doors that to the various dormitories, and small round windows that were just level with the ground at the foot of the castle. So low that you’d only be able to see people’s feet as they walked past but large enough that Harry knew the room would be flooded with sunlight during the day. Harry turned slowly on the spot, taking it all in.
“So what do you think of your new home?” Professor Sprout asked.
“It’s fantastic!” As much as Harry loved the Gryffindor tower he could already tell he’d enjoy many cosy nights here, talking and laughing with his friends.
“Right! Off to bed. First year boys are through that door over there.” she said pointing at one of the doors. “There will be a house meeting at the end of the week to make sure everyone if settling in OK so if you have any questions that you’ve not had answered in the meantime, you can ask them then.”
“Thank you Professor.”
“You’re very welcome Mr Potter,” she said with a smile “and welcome to Hogwarts.”
Harry grinned in return and entered the dormitory to find large wooden bedsteads covered in patchwork quilts. He didn’t think he’d been out particularly long but the slow, soft breathing from his dorm mates indicated they must have fallen asleep almost as soon as they’d got into bed. He quickly opened his trunk and extracted his sleep things before heading to the adjoining bathroom to change and brush his teeth.
A short while later he slipped back out into the common room where he found Hermione waiting in a familiar position - curled up in a chair with a book in her lap. Harry paused, not wanting to disturb the scene in front of him. It had been years since he last saw Hermione this way and he felt his heart ache that there hadn’t been more opportunities to do so. He watched her as the flickering light from the fire danced off her unmanageable, bushy brown hair and she was so absorbed in her book that she didn’t notice he was there until he placed his hand on her shoulder.
Barely stifling a scream at the unexpected contact she leapt out of her seat and spun around to face him before launching herself into his arms. “Harry! You scared the life out of me!”
“Sorry Hermione,” he said sheepishly, returning her hug. “You were so wrapped up in your book I didn’t want to disturb you.”
Hermione eventually released Harry and led him over to a large squashy sofa in front of the fire. “What did Dumbledore want?” she asked as, even after all these years, they instinctively resumed the positions they used to occupy in the Gryffindor common room – Harry at one end, Hermione at the other with her feet in his lap. Harry briefly filled her in on his meeting and was secretly pleased to see the look of triumph on her face when he told her about the fate of the Dursleys.
“So when did you arrive back?” Hermione asked. “You must have been back for a while for the number of changes you seem to have made.”
“Yeah, if only they’d all been intentional,” Harry sighed. “This whole ‘fixing the future’ thing is harder than it seems.”
Hermione gave a short laugh as Harry launched into a condensed version of everything that had happened since his return. When he had finished she looked at him thoughtfully and with a hint of approval. “That’s a lot of people that know you’re from the future but I can’t really fault you when it comes to who you’ve told. Having the Goblins and the head of the DMLE on our side is massive but convincing Snape?”
“I know. I was as surprised as you are but he helped me get healthy again and he’s been absurdly supportive. If I’d known I just needed him to see me at deaths door to get him to change…”
“Don’t even joke about that Harry James Potter!” Hermione snapped suddenly. “There’s too much for us to do and I’ve only just got you back.”
Harry blushed at the mumbled an apology. He’d been going for humour and had apparently missed by quite a margin. Hermione sighed and pulled her feet from his lap so she could twist and lean up against him instead. “I’m sorry – I just thought I was going to be alone in this so to have you here with me is more than I could have hoped for.”
“When did you know I’d come back?” Harry wondered.
“I was suspicious on the train – the way you were acting and the things you were saying were just so different from the Harry I met before. Plus I saw you and Sirius on the platform…” Hermione trailed off into silence before abruptly picking up the conversation again. “Did you really not know I’d returned until I hugged you?”
“I thought something was off on the train as well but had pretty much dismissed it. You were much calmer than last time.” He grinned at Hermione and softly bumped her shoulder with his.
“Now I know it was you in the bookshop I’m surprised you didn’t start suspecting me from then.” Harry looked questioningly at Hermione. “Oh come on Harry. ‘I’ve been browsing for a while and I’ve read about you in all these books…’ – as if I’d have had time to specifically look for you in amongst all those books. I was waiting for you to call me out on it there and then but you just let it pass by.”
Harry smacked himself in the forehead with the palm of his hand, causing Hermione to laugh. “You’re so used to my reading habits that you didn’t even consider I wasn’t telling the truth, did you?” Harry merely groaned in response causing her to laugh again.
“So what about you Hermione, when did you come back?” said Harry, desperately attempting to deflect the discussion away from his error.
“I returned just before my 11th birthday. My parents both know...” she stopped speaking and just stared into the flames that blazed in the fireplace. Hermione had travelled to Australia after the war and attempted to restore her parent’s memories but hadn’t been successful. They couldn’t remember their daughter, they didn’t see her get married and never met their grandchildren. “When I got back I just broke down into tears. I cried and cried, begging for their forgiveness for something that hadn’t happened yet. I told them everything, all about the things I’d kept from them before for fear that they’d pull me out of school. They understood and forgave me but I still felt so guilty. It took the best part of the year before I managed to forgive myself.” Hermione paused and Harry slipped an arm around her, pulling her close in an attempt to provide comfort. “Anyway, whilst I’ve not been as busy as you, I’ve made a couple of changes myself.”
“Such as?” Harry asked softly.
“Luna’s mother – she’s still alive. I sent an anonymous message to Luna and her father claiming to be a seer. I insisted that I’d foreseen a terrible accident and that they needed to take precautions. A few weeks later there was an open letter in the Quibbler thanking the mystery seer for saving their family.”
Harry berated himself inwardly for not considering that he himself could have made a change that would have had such a terrific impact on his friend’s life. Hermione knew exactly what was going on in his head though “Hey! Stop that right now! It’s not a problem and it certainly wouldn’t have been your fault if things hadn’t changed – all that matters is that she’s alive and Luna will be happier for it. You can’t go down the path of taking the blame for everything that happens. We’re both here now and we’ll do everything we can to save as many innocent lives as possible – OK?”
Harry nodded, choosing to take Hermione’s lead and accentuate the positive in the situation.
“Is there anything else you wish you’d done?” she asked.
“It’s a small point in the scheme of things but I wish I’d gotten to Eeylops sooner in Diagon… when I finally got round to it Hedwig was already gone.” said Harry sadly. He glanced up to see a guilty expression on Hermione’s face. “What is it?”
“The day you saw me in Diagon… I popped in to the shop to see if Hedwig was there and I overheard a couple of people talking about buying her…”
“Oh Harry! I couldn’t let that happen – you were so close to her, it would have broken my heart to have let her go so I bought her instead! She’s up in the Owlery right now. I was going to try and find a way to gift her to you…” Hermione was unable to finish her sentence as Harry engulfed her in the largest and tightest hug she’d ever received from her best friend.
“Thank you Hermione… thank you so much.” Harry whispered in her ear, amazed by the depth of her friendship. Eventually, and reluctantly, Harry released his hold on her and looked awkwardly at the floor rather than meet her eyes.
“I need to apologise to you for driving Ron away on the train. He was the father of your children and of course I’ll support you if you want to be with him again. I’ll try to put aside my feelings about Molly and be friendlier with him starting tomorrow.”
Hermione sighed. “Before what happened on the platform… we’d not had a chance to catch up properly for a few months had we?” She studied Harry, biting lightly on her bottom lip. “Harry, Ron and I were in the process of getting a divorce. We’d been putting on a front for the children but the constant bickering was just too much. I’d fundamentally changed who I was as a person to fit my life around him and frankly I resented it. I love my children with every part of me and I miss them every day, but I can’t be with Ron again. I won’t do it to myself. Especially not when I know about Molly’s interference.”
“I’m sorry I had to tell you that Hermione.” Harry took Hermione’s hands in his. “I struggled to understand with my relationship with Ginny after I found out but I’ve chosen the same as you. I think of my kids every day but I won’t go down that path again with her. There’s enough attempted manipulation in my life already without not being able to understand if I’ve fallen in love, or if it’s been forced upon me.”
“Harry – I already knew about Molly before you told me. You weren’t the only one that visited that version of Kings Cross Station.”
“Really?” Harry studied Hermione who suddenly looked nervous about discussing this topic. “What were you told while you were there?”
“Can we please not talk about this just now?” Hermione begged. “I promise, we’ll talk about it one day, I’m just not ready at the moment.” She looked pleadingly at Harry who searched her eyes for any clue as to why she was so distressed. “Please.” she whispered.
“Of course Hermione, when you’re ready.” He helped her to her feet then pulled her into another hug.
“Thanks Harry.” she gave him one final squeeze then stepped out of his embrace and smiled up at him. “We should really get to bed now – classes in the morning.” She stretched up on her tiptoes and placed a gentle kiss on Harry’s cheek.
Harry stood there in shock, one hand drifting up to touch the place her lips had fallen. Just as she was about to enter her dormitory Harry spoke once more.
“Hermione? Can I ask just one thing…?”
“Who did you meet at that station?”
“It was your mum Harry. It was Lily Potter.”
She paused, awaiting a response from Harry. When none came she said softly, “Good night Harry.” She was just about to close the door when she heard a quiet reply.
“Sweet dreams Hermione.”
A/N: I'm still here! I hope you all had an enjoyable festive period - it was my son's first Christmas so everything else got put on hold I'm afraid. My apologies regardless for the delay in getting this updated.
This chapter fought me for every word for the longest time, then allowed me to rattle off the last couple of pages without too many problems. Updates should be back to a more reasonable schedule now.
Thanks for your continued support. Even with the pause in updates I've still been receiving notifications of subscriptions and follows which is always encouraging.
Despite his late night, Harry woke early and dressed in his exercise gear as quietly as he could so as not to disturb the slumber of his dorm mates. He crept out into the common room, shutting the door gently behind him and was heading toward the exit when he heard someone clearing their throat behind him.
“Morning.” said a voice cheerfully. “Heading out early?”
Harry spun on the spot and was struck dumb, unprepared for an encounter with the person who was now rising from the same armchair that Hermione had occupied the night before.
The dark haired boy walked toward Harry, holding out his hand in greeting. “Hey – I’m Cedric Diggory. Nice to meet you.”
“H – Harry Potter.” stuttered Harry, taking Cedric’s hand and shaking it firmly. Somehow Harry had forgotten that a place in Hufflepuff would mean an early introduction to his fallen Tri-Wizard Co-champion. Seeing Cedric stood there with a grin on his face as he greeted him made Harry even more determined that he would not face the same fate as last time.
“Where you off to at this time?” Cedric enquired in a friendly tone.
“I like to go for a run first thing in the morning. I got into the habit a few years back… I was going to see if I could find my way outside.”
Cedric looked at him curiously “Running? There’s not too many wizards that go in for physical exercise.”
“From what I’ve heard there’s nothing formally organised at Hogwarts other than Quidditch and climbing 700 staircases a day,” Harry shrugged, a smile on his face “and if the food for the rest of the year is anything like last night’s feast I’d rather get some exercise in early.”
Cedric burst into laughter and clapped a hand onto Harry’s shoulder. “Fair enough. Come on – I’ll show you the way out.” The pair headed for the gently sloping tunnel that lead out of Hufflepuff house, chatting companionably as they did so.
“How come you’re up so early Cedric?” asked Harry interestedly. “I usually don’t see anyone other than the milkman for another hour or two yet.”
Cedric didn’t know what a ‘milkman’ was but he brushed it aside as something to ask later. “I’ve always been an early riser. It gets pretty loud at times in the common room so it’s nice to have a bit of quiet time you know?”
As they made their way to the entrance hall, Cedric told Harry all about Hogwarts and the various classes he would be taking. Harry of course, already knew all of this information but he was happy to listen to the third-year Hufflepuff – his friendly, outgoing demeanour make it easy to see why he had been so popular before. Eventually they reached the huge doors that guarded the entrance to the castle and Cedric gave him a cheerful wave goodbye as Harry set off into a loping run that, whilst not particularly fast, allowed him to cover a decent distance without the loss of too much energy.
Harry enjoyed his early morning runs. The freshness of the morning air would soon cause his breath to fog as he exhaled but for now, even in the Highlands of Scotland, the temperature was just warm enough to avoid this. He picked up the pace slightly as he approached the Black Lake and began to follow a path that edged the shoreline, worn into existence by the thousands of students that had come before him.
His thoughts turned to the previous day and the revelation that Hermione had returned to the past alongside him. Notwithstanding the support of Andi, Ted, Amelia, Sirius and Severus he’d felt overwhelmed at times by the tasks that lay before him. Even the addition of the Goblin Nation had only eased his worries slightly but there was something about the presence of Hermione that made him feel lighter... more confident… more likely to succeed in what was coming.
Following his wedding to Ginny, Harry and Hermione had begun to drift apart. The closeness they’d experienced through their school years tailed off as they both spent more time with their respective partners and eventually their children, than with each other. Sure, they still spent time together and saw each other at family functions but they never recaptured what had made their friendship so special to begin with. They moved from speaking to each other every day to once every few weeks and now, with the benefit of hindsight, Harry realised what a hole that lack of connection had left in his life. He’d loved Ginny but now he knew that those feelings had been artificially forced towards her, he pondered what might have been. He wasn’t stupid - he knew he’d been emotionally stunted by his childhood experiences with the Dursleys and he couldn’t have understood romantic love if it had walked up to him and slapped him in the face, but recognising even the synthetic feelings he’d had for Ginny made him begin to reconsider his emotions towards his best friend. Of course, figuring things out with Sirius constantly and vociferously voicing his opinion that Harry was in love with her wasn’t helping matters. Perhaps it was time to enlist Dora’s help again to teach the mutt a lesson?
As Harry completed his lap of the lake he realised that time was getting away from him and headed back to the dorm in order to get ready for the day. When he finally made it back to the common room he wasn’t surprised at all to find Hermione ensconced in the same chair that he’d found Cedric in that morning. He was fairly sure she would soon claim it as her own as she’d done the same thing when the pair were Gryffindors. As expected she was curled up with a thick book open on her lap.
“Harry!” she said noticing his arrival. “I thought you were still asleep! Where have you been?”
“Just out for a run Hermione. Listen, I’ve been thinking – we need to start changing people’s attitudes right? As much as I don’t like my fame I reckon we can use it to help us.”
Hermione looked at Harry shrewdly, “What did you have in mind?”
“What do you think of us going on a charm offensive?” Harry grinned.
Minerva McGonagall took her seat at the head table alongside her friends and fellow heads of houses, Pomona Sprout and Filius Flitwick. The three had an annual wager on the first morning of the school year and she had a good feeling that she’d be claiming her colleague’s Galleons shortly. The bet was simple, whosever house had the greatest number of their first years present by the time the Headmaster arrived for breakfast took the pot. With a Weasley in amongst her Lions Minerva felt sure her students would be able to make their way down in great enough numbers to ensure her victory. With three brothers in her house already, the newest Gryffindor Weasley would surely know the best route to lead his classmates to the Great Hall.
She settled herself in her chair and began her meal, making idle conversation with the other teachers as all three watched the doors closely for the first signs of approaching students. Soon enough the doors opened and both McGonagall and Flitwick looked on in amazement as the entire contingent of first year Hufflepuffs arrived together, chatting in a friendly manner with each other and led by Harry Potter and Hermione Granger. Pomona sported a beaming smile as she turned to her colleagues and held out her hand expectantly.
“What…?” Minerva spluttered, quickly counting the number of heads taking their places at the Hufflepuff house table. “All of them?”
“It certainly is!” laughed Pomona, taking the golden coins from the Ravenclaw and Gryffindor heads. “Thank you very much! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some Badgers to attend to!”
“Unbelievable,” muttered Filius “I had a good feeling about my lot this year.”
“Your lot? I was sure I was going to win with another Weasley attending.”
As she finished speaking the doors opened, admitting said Weasley on his own and they watched as he made a beeline for the Gryffindor tables and the platters piled high with an assortment of breakfast foods. She stood and briskly walked down the hall to where Ron was now busily piling sausages, bacon and black pudding onto the plate in front of him.
“Good morning Mr Weasley. Where are you housemates this morning?”
“Dunno. They were all taking too long so I came down on my own. Fred and George told me about a shortcut. Barely took me any time at all to get here! That’ll be handy.” Ron began to enthusiastically devour the food in front of him, causing McGonagall to wince at the sight unfolding before her. Before she could reprimand his lack of table manners however, the door opened once more and a trickle of students from other houses began to make an appearance. Minerva sighed and returned to the head table just as the Headmaster entered and took his seat.
“Good morning Minerva, Filius.” He nodded a greeting to his senior staff. “Who won this year?”
“Pomona did, her entire set of first years turned up together just after we sat down. She’s already congratulated herself and is down speaking with them now.” Flitwick gestured down at the Hufflepuffs who were laughing and joking with each other and their head of house. “They’re clearly settling in well.”
Dumbledore turned his attention to the scene in front of him. His eyes narrowed slightly at the sight of Harry Potter chatting amiably with all those around him but he quickly schooled his features, set an indulgent smile upon his face and responded to the diminutive Charms Professor. “Ah, the sound of a child’s laughter is a balm for the soul.” Inwardly his mind was racing at a mile a minute. His plans for the boy had been thrown into chaos – no longer living with his relatives, adopted by his godfather, avoiding the Weasleys at the station and now sorted into Hufflepuff where he was surrounded by children outside the sphere of his control. Dumbledore knew he would have to work hard to regain influence over the Potter heir – there was no chance of keeping his heritage and place in society a secret from him with Lord Black in the picture. He needed to come up with a new plan quickly.
Harry meanwhile had been watching the head table from the corner of his eye when Dumbledore had arrived. He’d turned his head just in time to catch sight of the Headmaster’s rapidly changed expression as he conversed with Professor Flitwick and let out a small sigh. He’d hoped to avoid some of the manipulation attempts for a little while but judging from the look that had passed across Dumbledore’s face, Harry knew they were going to be begin sooner rather than later. Hermione was sat next to him and upon hearing Harry sigh she shot him an enquiring look that Harry answered with a simple shake of his head and a whispered “later” under his breath.
The pair turned their attention to Professor Sprout as she handed out the first year timetables. Harry looked over his schedule and was pleased to see they’d enjoy a fairly pleasant Monday as opposed to some of the horrendous starts to the week he remembered experiencing previously. Double Charms with Professor Flitwick was followed by a free period and lunch, then double Herbology and Transfiguration in the afternoon. His first Potions lesson, and therefore his first legitimate reason to speak with Severus, was a double period on Wednesday afternoon and he allowed himself a small smile as he remembered the sharp interrogation he’d borne the brunt of in his first lesson as a Gryffindor. Without the Slytherins in the class alongside Harry, Severus wouldn’t have to be quite so hard on him but there were still appearances to be maintained for the benefit of the Headmaster.
Their first Charms lesson passed quickly with Professor Flitwick talking to class about what they would be learning in the year and some of the basic theory behind wand-work. Once the double period had drawn to a close, Harry took the opportunity to speak with him.
“Sir, do you have a moment please?”
“Of course Mr Potter, how can I help you?”
“Well Sir,” Harry began “my Godfather was telling me that my mum’s favourite subject was Charms. I know you taught her – I was just wondering if you’d be able to tell me a bit about her sometime? I’d like to know more about her from the people that knew her.”
Flitwick’s expression softened. “Of course. Your mother was one of my favourite students. Her Charm work was outstanding - if fact had she not died she was going to come and be my apprentice so she could work on her Mastery.” Flitwick paused for a moment in remembrance. “We were all very saddened by the passing of your parents. I’m sure Professor McGonagall will be happy to speak with you as well – your father should real aptitude for Transfiguration while he was at school. Professor Snape may be able to help too – he was friends with Lily during their early years here, though if I recall correctly they seemed to drift apart after their fifth year for some reason.”
Harry knew full well what had caused the rift but couldn’t share this knowledge, so nodded his head and thanked the Professor after arranging to speak with him one evening after dinner. Upon exiting the classroom he found Hermione leaning up against the wall.
“Are you OK? I heard what you were asking Professor Flitwick.”
“Yeah, thanks Hermione.” Harry lowered his voice to make sure he wasn’t overheard. “We were here for six years before and I never once took the opportunity to speak to any of the Professors about my mum and dad – apart from Moony of course. I didn’t want to waste the opportunity now I’ve got it again.”
Hermione didn’t say a word but instead pulled Harry into a tight hug which he gratefully returned. After a few moments she released him and stepped back. “As we’ve got a free period now do you want to go and see Hedwig?”
Harry’s eyes lit up and, grasping Hermione’s hand, he pulled her toward the entrance hall as she laughed at his reaction. As they walked Harry filled Hermione in about the look on Dumbledore’s face at breakfast. In their original first year they’d had very little contact with the Headmaster and Harry hoped that would be repeated – now Harry knew how his life had been manipulated, he didn’t know if he’d be able to stop himself from cursing the wrinkly old fart. He needed time to make sure he wouldn’t say or do anything stupid.
A short while later the pair were partaking in the lengthy climb up the stairs of the Owlery. At the top Harry opened the door and looked around, searching for a glimpse of the snow white feathers of his friend. Suddenly he felt a weight settle on his should and he turned his head to look right into the yellow eyes of the creature that had been his constant companion through years of miserable summers at the Dursley house.
“Hey girl” he said, blinking back tears and reaching out to lightly stroke her soft feathers. Hedwig made the short barking noise Harry had been so familiar with and nibbled gently at his ear. After a few moments Hermione moved alongside Harry and joined him in providing attention to the snowy owl.
“It’s like she recognised you.” Hermione whispered so as not to disturb the moment.
“It’s weird but we connected from the first time we met. She was always a very clever owl.” Hedwig gave a short bark. “And beautiful!” Harry laughed as she preened herself.
Eventually they said goodbye to Hedwig and climbed down from the tower. When they reached the foot of the stairs it was Harry’s turn to initiate a hug as he whispered into Hermione’s ear “Thank you so much.”
Hermione returned the hug with equal fervour “You’re very welcome Harry.” After a moment she cleared her throat, stepped back and smiled. “You know, I’m a big fan of a Harry that’s comfortable enough to give out hugs…” her smile fell. “The Dursleys really did a number on you last time didn’t they?”
“Honestly, yeah… but its ancient history now. I never have to go back there and they got what they deserved in the end.” Harry looked out over the Hogwarts grounds. “Hey, why don’t we go introduce ourselves to Hagrid?”
“Sure.” said Hermione, recognising the change of subject for what it was. She slipped her hand through the crook of his arm and they wandered slowly down to Hagrid’s cabin.
Harry and Hermione were the first to enter the Transfiguration classroom for the last lesson of the day, and so were the first to spot Professor McGonagall sat on her desk in her cat animagus form. Harry nudged Hermione and approached the tabby. Leaning in as though he were taking a closer look at the distinctive markings, Harry whispered “Good afternoon Professor. I’ll assume you would like me not to say anything to the others.” He dropped the cat a cheeky wink and received what could only be described as a feline glare in return, before taking his seat at the front of the class next to Hermione.
Once all the students had arrived McGonagall transformed back into her human state and received the expected gasps of shock and awe from the class, with the exception of Harry who was smirking at her, and Hermione who was rolling her eyes at Harry and shaking her head at his actions. “What you have just seen,” Professor McGonagall said “is a branch of Transfiguration that allows a witch or wizard to become an ‘animagus’. Learning this is a long and arduous process and is strictly controlled by the Ministry – every animagus must be registered. It is also beyond the abilities of many magical people.” The Professor paused and looked at Harry. “Mr Potter here recognised what I was as soon as he walked in. Would you care to explain how you knew?”
“Well Professor, the markings around your eyes in your cat form are very similar to your glasses. I have to admit I also saw your name and description on the animagus register…”
“I’m almost afraid to ask Mr Potter, but why were you looking at the register?”
“Well, my godfather and his friends were all animagi and he needed to register once he was able to.”
Professor McGonagall looked at him consideringly. “5 points to Hufflepuff Mr Potter for your observation.”
At the end of the lesson, Professor McGonagall advised them that they would begin attempting to transfigure a match into a needle in their next class and gave them all homework to read the relevant chapter in their books. Harry waited until the other students had left the room then repeated the conversation he’d had with Flitwick. “Of course Mr Potter, I’d be more than happy to. I will contact you with a time when things have settled and we’ll talk then.” McGonagall looked down at Harry kindly and smiled. “Your father was very talented at Transfiguration. I look forward to seeing if you’ve inherited his ability.”
“Thank you Professor.”
Harry left the room to find Hermione waiting for him once more. He spoke in a loud voice as they began to walk away, knowing McGonagall would still be in earshot “Professor McGonagall has said she’s happy to talk to me about my parents as well.”
“That’s great Harry,” Hermione replied at a similarly pitched volume. “You’re finally getting to hear about your parents.” Harry turned his head slightly and saw McGonagall about to exit her classroom.”
He pulled Hermione to a stop and turned to face her, increasing his view of the Professor. “I know. My Aunt and Uncle told me they died in a car crash caused by my drunken Dad.” From the corner of his eye, Harry realised McGonagall had frozen at his words. “It wasn’t until I got away from them that I found out the truth.”
As they began walking again, Harry risked a final glance back over his shoulder to see Professor McGonagall staring straight ahead with an expression of fury on her face. Harry hoped that this was an indication that a small seed of doubt about some of Dumbledore’s actions had been planted in her mind. He’d truly liked Professor McGonagall the first time around, but with the benefit of hindsight he could see that she’d had a tendency to follow the Headmaster’s lead unquestioningly, not considering the impact his decisions tended to have on those affected.
Dinner that night was once again full of laughter and friendly conversation. Both Harry and Hermione made a point of leaning over to the students at the adjoining Gryffindor and Ravenclaw tables to include them in their discussions. Neither of them had any inclination to get friendlier with Ron however. His almost cringe worthy attempts to ingratiate himself and become the best friend of the Boy-Who-Lived ensured he would have been kept at arm’s length anyway. They answered him politely when he spoke to them, but neither of them made any effort to prolong their conversation. Both of them had been struck by how different his character was having not had Harry’s almost undivided attention and friendship from their journey between Kings Cross and Hogsmeade. A couple of times Harry glanced up to the head table to see McGonagall, Flitwick and Sprout deep in conversation and, once or twice, caught sight of the trio watching, looking down at the students as they bantered back and forth. He couldn’t be sure because of how far they were away, but he had a feeling they had been talking about his request to learn more about his parents and were watching him specifically.
Back in the common room, all the first years grouped together and talked about their classes that day. They decided (somewhat surprisingly without Hermione’s prompting) that they would study together and help each other and would happily include friends from other houses. Some of the older students had overheard this and had offered to help them if needed as well. Both Harry and Hermione had been surprised by this as the older Gryffindor students had pretty much ignored the first years and left them to themselves. Being sorted into Hufflepuff this time around was certainly opening their eyes to some of the inconsistencies and problems between houses.
That night, after putting up silencing charms around his bed, Harry used a communication mirror Sirius had given him to contact his godfather and give him a quick rundown of what had happened in his first two days, promising a full accounting at the end of the week. A quick test proved that Kreacher was able to elf pop right to Harry and gave them the perfect way to get the diadem out of the castle once Harry had recovered it.
Sirius was stunned but delighted to hear that Hermione had returned from the future as well and spent a large portion of the remainder of their conversation either mocking Harry for the bookstore debacle, or throwing less than subtle suggestions his way as to how he could go about wooing her.
Tuesday’s timetable consisted of a double period of History of Magic followed by Defence Against the Dark Arts. The Hufflepuff students did get to enjoy a free afternoon however but they were expected to be in the Astronomy Tower at Midnight for their first lesson with Professor Sinistra.
As their History of Magic class drew to a close, Hermione enacted the next part of their plan. Raising her hand she waited for Professor Binns to realise she had a question. Looking almost surprised that anyone would want to ask something he stopped mid-flow and asked “Yes Miss…?”
“Granger, Sir. I was hoping I could ask a question about what we’ll be learning?”
“Well… yes, I suppose you may.”
“Sir – I spoke to some of our older housemates and they said they use the same textbook we have now throughout the first 5 years.”
“That’s correct Miss Ganger.”
“It’s Granger, Sir. It’s just that I’ve read through the whole book and there’s nothing in here about modern magical history. In Muggle schools they cover the things that happened during the two World Wars for example, yet there’s no mention in the book about the rise and falls of Grindelwald or You-Know-Who.” Glancing around the room Harry could see this had caught the interest of his classmates who were now all watching the back and forth between student and teacher in fascination.
Professor Binns though was beginning to look a little irritated. “What’s your point Miss Granger?”
“Sir, there’s a Muggle saying; ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’ I think it’s very important that we learn the things Ms Bagshot has written in this book – not just so we can pass our exams but to help us understand how our society got to where we are today - but I also think the best way to stop another You-Know-Who rising would be for us to learn about how he was able to gain so much power before. If it’s well known how it happened last time, I’d hope it would be easier to stop the same thing happening again in the future.”
Professor Binns studied the first year Hufflepuff and tried to remember a time when he’d ever been directly challenged about the curriculum. He looked around the room at the engaged faces and a sensation he’d not felt in a long time coursed through his ghostly body – a desire to teach and impart knowledge. “5 points to Hufflepuff Miss Granger for a well-reasoned argument.”