For a moment, Harry believes it must have been a dream. Not all of it; certainly not all of it.
But he wakes in what must be his four-poster bed in Gryffindor Tower.
Well, except there’s someone in his bed with him.
When he opens his eyes, he sees green. Literally. The bed hangings are green, the blankets are green, even the sliver of light streaming through the curtains seems to be green.
He reaches for and grabs his wand on feel alone, and realises there is another person in his bed with him.
The other person shifts, and Harry holds tight to his wand, a disarming spell already on his tongue.
“Is that my wand?” the person asks, and Harry realises all at once that he recognises that voice.
How could he not? He’d had to put up with it spewing insults toward him for six years at school.
Draco Malfoy leans in to run his fingers through Harry’s hair. “Wasn’t aware we’d reached that particular relationship milestone.”
Relationship milestone? What the hell is he talking about? Harry doesn’t let go of the wand, but he also doesn’t attack Malfoy. The last time he saw Malfoy, he saved his life. Malfoy’s not being aggressive now; Harry will keep his guard up and try to gather information until he can figure out what the hell is going on.
He sure as hell isn’t about to let go of the wand.
Harry tries to think of who he can ask for as Draco Malfoy starts to frown.
“Are you quite all right?”
He’s just found out that he was raised to die, and that Dumbledore and Snape knew the whole time and didn’t bother telling him. He’s just received a killing curse from Voldemort himself, and for all he knows, everyone he knows is dead.
“What happened yesterday?” Harry asks. “After I went to the Forest.”
Malfoy frowns properly now. “You didn’t go to the Forest yesterday. It’s forbidden, remember?”
“This isn’t funny. Where’s Hermione? I need to talk to her.”
“Hermione Granger? Why would you need to talk to her? I don’t think you’ve spoken two words to her in your life.”
“What are you talking about? Hermione is one of my best friends.”
“In what universe are you friends with Granger?” Malfoy asks. “She’s in with all those other Ravenclaw swots. She’s always with Goldstein and Patil and that lot. Think she might be dating Patil now that I think on it. Longbottom would know; he’s still dating Goldstein. Merlin only knows why.”
Harry doesn’t let himself get distracted by the fact that Neville Longbottom is apparently dating Anthony Goldstein from the DA. For all he knows, that’s been going on all seventh year. He didn’t exactly have time to ask Neville about his love life whilst preparing for battle. “What about Ron? Ron Weasley.”
“Last I checked, he hated you on principle of being a Slytherin along with Finnegan. Not that you’ve ever actually antagonised him, but Gryffindors are idiots. Except Longbottom, I suppose, if you’re still insistent he’s all right. I don’t see it, personally, but at least he’s not as much of a prick as the rest of them.”
“I’m not talking about his sister, am I?”
“His sister?” Harry asks. Neville’s parents definitely didn’t have any kids after him; they’ve been in the Closed Ward at Saint Mungo’s since Neville was a year old. Harry might not be all that close to Neville, but they have shared a dormitory for six years, so he thinks he’d know if Neville had a sister.
“Beattie? About so big, blonde hair, brown eyes, Hufflepuff? She’s a third year?”
This is all just too weird. He knows for a fact that Neville doesn’t have a sister at Hogwarts.
“Longbottom’s been your best friend since – well, before Hogwarts, at least. Are you seriously telling me that you don’t remember his sister? I’m fairly certain you’ve known her since at least she can remember.”
Harry isn’t sure how to respond. “Erm…”
“Get dressed,” Malfoy says, throwing off the sheets, and Harry thanks Merlin he’s not naked.
Though maybe that’s worse. Sleeping in the same bed as Malfoy fully clothed, apparently of his own free will.
“Why?” Harry asks.
“We’re going to talk to Professor Black.” Professor Black? That can’t be Sirius, can it? “See what the hell is wrong with you.”
“Nothing’s wrong with me,” Harry says.
Malfoy turns and gives him a withering look. “I’d appreciate it if you not lie to me. And I will need my wand. I might need it to put you in a full body bind if you keep insisting upon not seeing our Head of House when something’s clearly wrong.”
Harry knows there’s no way he’ll be able to get to the Great Hall, much less out of the castle, without a fight.
And, well, something weird is going on. And Malfoy doesn’t seem to be antagonizing him at all. In fact, he does seem legitimately concerned.
There’s always the chance that this is all just another trap, but Harry can remember how Malfoy acted in the manor. He hates Voldemort as much as anyone anymore, and he’s grown something of a backbone.
Still, Harry doesn’t give him his wand back before taking the other wand from the table. It’s not his holly wand; he’s not sure of the wood straightaway, but it looks different enough at first brush.
“Are you getting dressed, or do you want to see Professor Black in your pajamas?”
Professor Black is in his office when Malfoy barges in.
“Good morning, gentlemen. Quidditch problems, I presume?”
Harry realises immediately that this isn’t Sirius, though the man Malfoy’s interrupted looks enough like him to have to be some sort of blood relation.
“No,” Malfoy says. “Maybe. I dunno. You can still play Quidditch, can’t you?”
“Of course I can,” Harry says, affronted. As if he hasn’t squarely kicked Malfoy’s arse in Quidditch enough times.
“No problems with the team, Harry?”
Is he still Quidditch captain? “No,” Harry says.
“So if our star Seeker is still able to play, and there’s no problem with the team, why have you interrupted me on a Saturday morning?”
“I’m not sure if Harry’s fucking with me, but he’s said some completely nonsense things this morning, and he grabbed my wand immediately.”
Professor Black looks exasperated. “Draco, I can’t tell you how often I’ve used my husband’s wand. If that’s all this is, I hardly think getting your Head of House involved in a conversation about the state of your relationship is productive.”
“But that’s your husband. And it’s not just that. He’s been insisting his friends are people he’s never said two words to.”
It hits Harry all at once who he’s talking to. “Regulus Black!”
Professor Black turns to look at him. “I much prefer Professor Black while we’re at school if it’s all the same to you, Harry, though I’m sure my brother’s put you up to whatever this is.”
His brother – “Sirius is alive?”
“See?” Malfoy says. “He’s been acting like that all morning!”
Professor Black – Regulus Black, who should have died twenty years ago – looks unsettled. He’s pretty good at covering it up, though. Harry has to give him that much. “Draco, why don’t you go to breakfast, and I’ll try to sort out whatever’s going on with Harry alone.”
Malfoy looks reluctant. “Are you sure?”
Harry holds tight to his wand within his robes. “I’ll be fine,” he says, though he’s not sure why he’s got to reassure Malfoy.
“Fine,” Malfoy says. He doesn’t so much leave the room as sulk out of it, and once he leaves, Regulus Black shuts and locks the door behind him.
“Do sit down, Harry. Tea?”
“No thanks,” Harry says. He can only imagine what might be in that tea.
“I’ve not made it this far in life by poisoning teenagers, I assure you,” Regulus Black says. “Though if you’d still prefer not to drink anything, I’ve no complaints there. You’ve certainly no reason to trust me, if what Draco’s said is true.”
“That’s reassuring.” Harry rolls his eyes.
“We really don’t need to discuss anything if you don’t want to. I’m hardly going to force you.”
“Good.” But then… maybe Regulus Black, of all people, can help make sense of this. He knows – he knows – Regulus Black put down his own life to try to bring Voldemort down.
Of course, he didn’t know there were multiple Horcruxes, nor did he have any idea how to destroy the Horcrux he did get, but he had the right idea of things.
Harry’s not stupid enough to just tell him everything, either.
So he says, “I know about the locket,” and takes some satisfaction in the way Regulus Black tenses.
“What – er, which locket?”
“The one in the basin by the lake.”
Regulus Black clears his throat. “And how do you know about that?”
“Kreacher told me. After – after Dumbledore made me go with him to get the duplicate.”
Black casts some charms quickly and pulls out a quill. “But I told Dumbledore…”
Harry shakes his head. “You died getting the locket. I – I don’t know more than that. Kreacher said you ordered him to go home and destroy it.”
Black grimaces. “That might be it. I’m no expert in – well, whatever this might be, really – but it sounds to me like something’s happened to change time.”
“But that doesn’t make any sense,” Harry says.
“Tell me about the world as you know it. I can tell you what’s changed.”
“I’d rather you tell me about the world as you know it. What do you teach, anyway?”
Regulus Black smirks. “Spoken like a true Slytherin.”
“I’m a Gryffindor.”
“You’re a Slytherin. Seventh year. Quidditch captain, Seeker. Neither prefect nor Head Boy – I think you’ll understand why Draco was made prefect over you, and Longbottom’s doing a decent job at Head Boy, I suppose.”
“Neville is Head Boy?”
“He is,” Black says. “And your best friend – unless I’ve missed something, which is entirely possible. I don’t try to get involved in my students’ lives. You’re dating Draco Malfoy, as you might’ve noticed. You seemed surprised that Sirius is alive – I won’t ask questions; I know he was in the Order and probably died doing something exceptionally stupid and risky. All that’s over now, obviously. Destroyed all the – er, objects like the locket. The Dark Lord is dead and gone. And, to answer your question, I teach History of Magic.”
“What’s, er, Sirius doing?”
“Nothing, really. I’m unsure if you know Remus Lupin, but somehow they’re still together. Sirius lives in Hogsmeade – the better to antagonise me, really. He claims it’s because Lupin was made Transfiguration professor when McGonagall took on her position as Headmistress in ninety, but I remain unconvinced.”
“McGonagall is Headmistress?” Harry asks before he can stop himself.
“She is, and she’s very possibly the best one Hogwarts has seen in a long time.”
“What about Snape?”
Regulus Black frowns, as if he hasn’t heard that name in a long time. “Severus Snape?”
“He’s in Azkaban. Has been for the past twenty years or so.”
“But he what?” Regulus Black asks. “He was a Death Eater – is a Death Eater – and an unrepentant one at that.”
“But he was in love with my mother.”
Regulus Black rolls his eyes. “Harry, most students attracted to women at Hogwarts at that time were, at one point, in love with your mother, or at least infatuated with her. I didn’t understand it myself, but Severus Snape was hardly special in that regard.”
“They were childhood friends. He was in love with her his whole life.”
“That may be,” Regulus Black says. “Your mother and I aren’t quite friends, and I was never fond of Snape, even when we were at school together. I do seem to recall him insulting her in front of the entire school in my fourth year, which I believe put an end to their friendship.”
“I know about that,” Harry says impatiently. “But he never stopped loving her. His patronus was a doe to match hers.”
It’s not that Regulus Black displays any actual facial expression of annoyance, but his posture shifts slightly and he sounds exasperated as he says, “I’d have thought your father would be the sort to teach his son that patronus forms should complement each other if they’re truly in love. Not imitate each other.”
“You know my father?”
“He’s my brother’s best friend; of course I know your father. Eternal pain in my side. Especially during the divorce. Thank Merlin that’s long over and done with.”
“Divorce?” Harry asks.
Regulus Black actually looks sorry for a moment. “Are they still together in your timeline? I’d thought all along that Lily Evans could do better, but…”
“They’re dead in my timeline,” Harry says.
“Oh,” Regulus Black says. “I’m sorry to hear that.” He does, to his credit, seem to mean it. Harry doesn’t know much about Regulus Black besides how he ended his life, and that he was, at one point, a Death Eater, so he’s not sure why he cares about Harry’s parents being dead.
“Voldemort killed them.” Harry takes a bit of pleasure in Black’s wince at the name. “My mother died to protect me.”
“I do like your mother, you know. She’s an incredibly talented and kind witch.”
“Even though she’s a Muggleborn?”
Regulus Black rolls his eyes. “You said in your timeline I died trying to destroy the locket, so you must know where I stand on the Dark Lord.”
“That doesn’t mean you like Muggleborns. Snape – he treats Muggleborns worse than any other student, except for me or Neville.”
Regulus Black draws back in what seems to be horror. “Who let Snape teach children?”
“Of course. I don’t know why I’m surprised. Dumbledore’s hardly ever been overly concerned for the safety of the individual when the Greater Good is at risk.” He sounds bitter, and Harry, for once, doesn’t have to wonder why.
If he thinks on it at all, he’s pretty fucking furious at Dumbledore himself.
“No,” Harry says. “He hasn’t been.”