The potion was very nearly complete.
Harry was sat cross-legged in the drawing room of Number 12, Grimmauld Place, a cauldron simmering softly in front of him. Pooled across his lap was James Potter’s old Invisibility Cloak. The Elder Wand and the two halves of the Resurrection Stone were on top of it, in the slight dip where the cloak was stretched over his crossed legs.
While he waited for the potion to turn from the murky green it currently was to a dark, royal blue, Harry glanced down the instructions outlined in the mouldy, old book he’d found stashed in the Carrow family library. He and a few of the surviving members of Dumbledore’s Army had raided the place almost two years ago now, hoping the siblings had been stupid enough to go back there. They hadn’t been, but Harry and the others had pilfered whatever they thought might have proved useful, and Harry thanked Merlin that Dean Thomas had picked this particular book up that day, having said he thought something so grim looking shouldn’t be in the Carrow’s hands.
Dean had been killed two weeks later by a stray killing curse during a skirmish in Diagon Alley, nobody had even seen who’d cast it.
Shaking himself out of his melancholy thoughts of lost friends, Harry tried to focus on the potions directions. It was the most complicated potion he’d ever attempted, and he’d definitely felt more than out of his depth multiple times while brewing it. It contained such ridiculous instructions as keeping it on the flame at exactly 37.8 C for two and half months, as well as eight different ingredients that had to be gathered at different lunar cycles in different seasons, yet had to be added to the potion at the exact same time. But God forbid you use a preservation charm on them to make sure they were still fresh, it apparently interfered with the magic of the potion to such a degree that Harry had had to start from scratch again after his first attempt had caught fire and taken half of the Black family library with it.
The Time Displacement Potion was worth the hassle, and the near fiery death, though.
With a liberal application to one’s body – a rather bizarre way of activation to Harry – the potion was meant to shunt a person through time to whenever they wanted to be. To get the potion to take the user wherever they desired, all they had to do was stir the potion once for each day they wanted to travel at three different points in the potion making process.
Harry was rather convinced he’d managed to give himself a repetitive strain injury after having done 23 years’ worth of stirring.
But it would be more than worth it when he could return to the year of his birth, and stop Voldemort before he’d barely begun. His parents would be alive. Sirius would have never gone to Azkaban. And more importantly, all the people who would have died after Voldemort’s return would instead go on to live what he hoped would be long and happy lives.
From the corner of his eye, the potion seemed to shimmer slightly and Harry looked up just in time to see it change colour. He immediately prodded his wand at the flame, extinguishing it.
There was just one more step left now, and it was probably the most important, despite it being entirely optional.
The book had stated that the further you travelled, the more magic the potion needed to make it work, and that magic was generally drained from the person as they moved through time. If it was just a couple days, this drain was basically a none issue, but the further away it was, the more dangerous it was. Once it hit a couple of months, it was more likely a corpse would arrive at the destination than a perfectly healthy witch or wizard.
Which was why Harry currently had the three Deathly Hallows in his lap. The instructions made it clear that if you provided a different source of magic at this stage, it would use that instead. When Harry had cast around for an idea of what was magically powerful enough to get him 23 years into the past, they had been the only thing he could think of.
Holding his breath slightly and praying that the potion didn’t suddenly explode on him at the last minute, he gathered up both pieces of the Resurrection Stone into his palm and then tipped both into the cauldron. The potion frothed slightly and emitted green sparks, but otherwise stayed the same colour and Harry breathed easier. That was what it was meant to do.
Feeling more confident now, he fed the Elder Wand into the potion as well. Harry thought it a fitting end to a wand that had caused so much death over the ages.
Glancing down at the Invisibility Cloak, Harry fought with himself for a moment. He had been determined that he would add the Cloak when the time came, because what was a memento from his Father when he could have the real thing, alive and well, as a result of its sacrifice? But now that the moment had come, he found that he couldn’t quite do it.
After a moment’s hesitation, he folded it up into a neat square and tucked it into the mokeskin pouch Hagrid had given him for his seventeenth birthday. The Elder Wand and the Resurrection Stone would be enough, he was convinced. They were both ridiculously powerful sources of magic, much more powerful than the Invisibility Cloak surely.
Ambling to his feet, Harry carefully picked up the cauldron as well as a Muggle plant spritzer that had been sitting beside it, and made his way up to the attic. The book itself hadn’t stated that you arrived in the same place you’d left, but he didn’t want to risk it and the attic was a rarely visited part of Grimmauld Place. At least if he turned up there, he wasn’t about to interrupt Walburga Black’s afternoon tea.
He already had tucked away in his pouch all the things he would be taking with him. The spell had specified the more he took, the more magic it would take, so all he had were the essentials; the clothes on his back, a shrunken change of outfit, his wand, enough gold to last him a month, maybe two, and now his Invisibility Cloak. He had debated taking his old photo album, filled as it was not just with pictures of his parents, but the other friends and family he’d made before the war had taken them from him, but he’d known it would cause too many awkward questions if anyone stumbled upon it. And besides, he didn’t need photos to remember them by when, if everything went well, they would be alive and well. Not like he’d known them, and probably not his friends anymore what with the age difference, but a different Harry’s perhaps, one who didn’t have to fight a man’s war when he was still a child.
Plopping his cauldron down on the attic floor, he unscrewed the nozzle of the plant spritzer he’d picked up specifically for this. The potion was administered through applying it too yourself, instead of drinking it, and Harry hadn’t been able to think of a better way to do the job. After pouring a liberal amount of the potion into the bottle, he screwed the nozzle back into place and set about applying it.
Harry had to admit he felt slightly ludicrous, using the bottle to liberally spritz himself with the potion. Something as powerful as this should have probably been treated with a little more gravitas, he supposed. Yet here he was. Spritzing.
Ron would have found it funny, he knew. Hermione would have pretended she didn't, but she wouldn’t have been quite able to control her smile.
God, he missed them.
Feeling sufficiently damp, he put the bottle down on a nearby low table covered in moth eaten hats and waited. The instructions hadn’t really said what exactly would happen once the potion had been applied, just that it would activate.
Squinting at the bottle and wondering if he should give himself another spritz or two, he felt a slight tingling sensation that started in his abdomen and then slowly made its way outwards to his fingers, toes and ears. Then, quite suddenly, there was a tugging sensation that had Harry lurching forward into complete and utter darkness. Whilst he suddenly felt blind and deaf, there was rushing in his ears and a sense that he was moving extremely fast whilst somehow staying exactly where he was.
While the sensation was discomfiting to the extreme, Harry felt a surge of happiness bubble up inside of him and he flung his fist in the air in triumph. Well, tried to anyway, his limbs felt sluggish and it was extremely difficult to move in this strange non-space. But he had done it, he was going back and he could fix things before they even had the chance to swan-dive into the mess of a world he’d just left behind.
So jubilant he was, it took him a while to notice how drowsy and nauseous he felt. His forehead had a distinctly clammy feel to it, and his tongue suddenly felt like sandpaper in his mouth. It was, Harry decided, as if his body had just decided to mutiny against him.
It was also, he realised, almost exactly the same as how he usually felt right before magical exhaustion kicked in. But it had never come on him this quickly before.
“Fuck,” he swore. Goddammit, he should have added the cloak. He should have added the bloody cloak! The potion was draining his magic and God only knew how far back he’d gone. It was impossible for him to discern how long he’d been in this strange speeding darkness, it could have been minutes or months.
He gritted his teeth and tried to bare it for as long as possible, he needed to get as far back as he possibly could. It wasn’t before long however that his eyelids began to droop and he knew that if he left it much longer, he’d pass out and then he’d have no chance to stop the flow of his magic.
Feeling like he was working against his body just as much as he was trying to wrangle it, he forced his arm to lift so he could point his wand at his chest and said as strongly as he could, “Finite Incantatem!”
For a single heart-stopping moment, nothing happened. And then Harry felt an excruciating pain, far worse than any Cruciatus Curse he’d ever suffered, burning its way through his chest. An instant later it was gone, replaced by a blinding flash of light that left Harry stunned and gaping.
When he’d managed to clear the stars from his eyes, he was standing upright in the attic of 12 Grimmauld Place in exactly the same place he’d been before. Everything looked the same to him, right down to the low table with the hats, though they looked perhaps slightly less moth-eaten. His plant spritzer was also gone.
“Well then.” Harry said faintly, before promptly passing out.
Harry was woken sometime later to something tickling his face. When he managed to wrench his gummed up eyes open, he saw there was a great dirty rat, perched on his chest, its whiskers tickling his chin.
Sweeping it off his chest with a yell of alarm, he lurched to his feet and tried to make sense of where and, more importantly, when he was.
He felt his heart leap as he heard vague voices from several floors below. This was the first bit of proof he’d been successful; he didn’t have much in the way of visitors these days, what with practically everyone he knew being dead, and he’d charmed the paintings into permanent silence over a year ago now after he’d gotten tired of Walburga Black’s sniping.
From the angle the sunlight was streaming in from the single dingy attic window, he guessed he’d been unconscious for the better part of a day. He felt if not refreshed, then at least not dead on his feet. His tongue still felt like sandpaper and he was more than a little ripe but it wasn’t anything a few Scourgify charms wouldn’t fix.
After having done that, Harry decided he needed to confirm that he really had travelled to the past. And that he’d managed to get far enough. There was a chance he hadn’t held out long enough to get to 1980, but it could still be 1981. He could still have a chance to save his parents.
The Leakey Cauldron usually had an issue of the Prophet lying around, and what’s more people wouldn’t pay him any mind in there. And he could get something to drink too.
Apparating away to the little courtyard between the pub and Diagon Alley, he hoped vaguely that those downstairs hadn’t heard the crack of him leaving. Well, if they had, it wasn’t like he could do anything about it now anyway. Shaking off the feeling of being forced through a compressed tube, he glanced around the little cobblestone courtyard before heading into the pub.
It was much more crowded than he’d thought it would have been, given the climate but he managed to find a seat at a table towards the back of the pub, out of the eye line of Tom for now. There was a Daily Prophet on the next table, which he snagged.
Glancing down at the front page, he disregarded the headline entirely as his eyes sought the date. When it did, he felt the bottom of his stomach fall out.
Monday, 21st July 1986.
His hands clench convulsively on the paper. He’d not made it. He’d not gone back far enough and now Lily and James Potter would never have a chance at a life with their son. He’d practically killed them all over again. Through his own arrogance and sentimentality.
He made himself take a breath and relax his fists. The paper was a crumpled mess but he didn’t care. He needed to think rationally. He couldn’t save his parents but that didn’t mean he was useless here in this time. There were still things he could do. There were the Horcruxes of course. And Sirius was suffering in Azkaban, while Pettigrew grew fat at the Burrow. And of course, there was his five – almost six – year old self, growing up neglected and unloved by the Dursley’s.
Glancing up, he managed to catch the eye of Tom. He ordered himself a pint of Butterbeer and a room for the night. He had some planning to do.
The previous full moon had not been kind to Remus Lupin. He had a bone deep ache he didn’t think particularly fitting of someone only 26 years old. His joints seemed to creak in protest as he eased a jumper over his head, and the groan of discomfit that escaped him was more befitting of a man twice his age. Throwing a glance at the old vanity mirror in the corner of the room – leftover from when this had been his parents’ bedroom, and thankfully not enchanted – he also noted drily that he would probably have a more than substantial thatch of grey by the time he was thirty. He looked drained and wan, and Remus knew that even though he always looked worse the day following a full moon, he was never going to look the picture of health.
The old house he’d inherited from his parents was two-storied but his parents’ old bedroom had been on the ground floor – the main reason for which he’d chosen to move in there, as opposed to his old bedroom – so Remus only had to shuffle down the corridor to get to the kitchen. With the way his knees were creaking, he was glad he didn’t have to face the prospect of making his way down the rickety staircase. A Pepperup potion always helped to make him feel less dead on his feet the morning after a transformation, but a good cup of tea was always needed first. Plonking the kettle on the stove, he prodded his wand beneath it to get a flame going, and then eased himself back into one of the old wooden chairs at the table. There was a stack of mail, along with the day’s edition of the Daily Prophet, delivered no doubt that morning when he’d been all but dead to the world, but he couldn’t face going through it just yet. Especially as he thought it likely one was from the Floo Network, no doubt giving him his last notice before they closed his connection for lack of payment.
Sighing deeply, he ran a hand over his face and tried not to think too hard about his current state of unemployment. The house wouldn’t be a problem, it had been owned by his parents and they’d bought it outright years ago, long before his affliction had drained the family vault. It was everything else that came with it, not least the monthly supply of potions he needed just to make sure he was in some sort of fit state after the full moon.
He had debated a few times over the last couple of years simply selling the house, moving somewhere small and cheap. It would probably be dingy and unpleasant if he hoped to have a chance at affording it, but at least then he would have some money to fall back on. But he’d never been able to go through with it. It wasn’t sentimentality or anything quite like that – for all that he’d loved his parents, his childhood here hadn’t been particularly pleasant. No, it was because of the basement. His father had had it built and reinforced, to ensure that his son had somewhere safe to transform every full moon. If he got rid of the house, Remus would also lose the one place he knew he wouldn’t be a danger to anyone. Whilst there were rumours about a new potion being developed that could control the wolf, that was years, if not decades away from completion. And besides, Remus doubted he would be able to afford it even if it was readily available.
Dreary thoughts such as these made him long for the days of Hogwarts, where he never had to worry about which was more important; having a place to transform or needing to eat. And the Shrieking Shack had been a refuge at full moons like no other, a place he’d truly felt safe to transform. And then of course, there had been his friends, who had made those transformations so much easier. Fun, even, on some of the better nights.
All of that was over now though. His friends were gone, two dead at the hand of the third, and he wouldn’t dream of putting any of the current students at risk through going to Dumbledore and asking if he could still use the Shack during his transformations.
The shrieking of the kettle brought him out of his thoughts – thankfully really, as when Remus got melancholy, it was difficult to shake – and he set himself about making a strong cup of tea. He shuffled into his sitting room, and gently plopped himself down on the threadbare couch.
His morose thoughts plagued him through his first cup of tea, and he was debating getting up and making himself a second, maybe with a dash of firewhiskey – a glance at the carriage clock on the mantelpiece told him it was eleven thirty in the morning so probably too earlier to start drinking – when there was a knock at the door.
Remus stared blankly at his front door for a moment, rather puzzled as to who would be paying him a visit on a Tuesday morning. He was rather embarrassed to admit he didn’t have much in the way of friends these days, at least not ones who would pop over unannounced for a social call.
It could always be Emmeline or Hestia he supposed. The two had apparently taken it upon themselves to pop in every now and then to check on him. Their visits had gotten less frequent as time went on, and it had been several months since they’d last dropped by. Probably they thought he wasn’t in any danger of offing himself anymore, since it had been five years now since Remus had lost almost every single person he held dear in the space of a single night.
They did usually give him a couple of hours’ notice at least. It was especially needed in those early days to ensure he was fit for human contact.
It could also, he thought dryly, be someone from the Ministry, come to collect all the payments he owed.
Leaving his empty cup abandoned on the coffee table, he heaved himself up from the sofa. It was a short walk to the front door, and the part of Remus that was still convinced Death Eaters were lurking around every corner, felt a twinge of apprehension. Most doors in magical households had charms or some such to be able to give the occupants some indication of who was at the door. But Remus’ mother had been a Muggle and she had been firmly of the opinion that a house should just be a house.
With his wand in hand and the vague hope that he wasn’t about to cursed, Remus opened the door and promptly stared. There was a young man of a similar age to Remus himself on the doorstep in a pair of Muggle jeans and a jumper, and he looked so much like James that Remus felt his breath leave him a rush.
“James?” he murmured breathlessly. It was impossible, it couldn’t be him and yet, Remus couldn’t help but hope desperately that it was.
“Er, not quite.” The young man said and the illusion was promptly shattered. The pitch of the voice was slightly different, and now that Remus was looking for it, he saw that the nose and the jaw were different shapes, and that instead of brown, his eyes were a startling green. The unruly black hair along with the circular glasses, paired with the fact that he was sure James and this stranger would have stood shoulder to shoulder had served to throw him momentarily, and Remus felt crushed for a moment with the knowledge that James was dead and he wasn’t ever coming back. His fist clenched tightly on the door handle, and the stranger must have noticed his distress because he let out a breath and raised a hand to ruffle his untidy black hair. Remus determinedly did not think of James as he did it.
“Sorry, I just…” he trailed off slightly, letting out a frustrated noise and giving Remus a sort of helpless look. “Merlin, this is difficult.”
Remus simply raised his brows, not really in the mood to help the stranger out. He felt drained and weak from his mad rush of hope and the memories this man was dragging up, and that coupled with the bone weary ache he’d already been feeling from the full moon was making him long for his bed. Or perhaps that bottle of firewhiskey he kept in the pantry.
“Okay, may as well just go for broke.” The stranger mumbled more to himself than to Remus. He seemed to steel himself and then looked Remus in the eye. They were, he thought, uncannily similar to Lily’s. “My name is Harry Potter and I’m from the future.”
Remus had made an extremely large pot of tea – with a fortifying shot of firewhiskey – and was now sat once again on his threadbare couch, nursing his mug. The main difference now being that he had his wand in his other hand, trained on the wizard sat in his father’s old overstuffed armchair. The self-proclaimed time travellers’ wand was safely tucked between Remus’ thigh and the armrest.
It had been pressed into his hands – ‘for your peace of mind’ the wizard had said – after Remus had stared at him blankly for a few seconds back on the doormat before tiredly saying, “Well. You’d have better come in.”
Other than this, and his quiet ‘yes please’ when Remus had offered him some tea, the stranger in Remus’ house – he wasn’t quite prepared to refer to him as Harry – had yet to say anything. Instead he sat opposite Remus, seemingly unconcerned with the wand trained on him, as he stared into his cup of tea.
Eventually, he heaved a deep sign, set his teacup on the table and looked up at Remus. “I’m surprised you haven’t asked me anything yet. At the very least, I’d have thought you’d have accused me of being a Death Eater by now. I’m a bit disappointed really, Remus.”
“Sorry for not having a readily prepared list of questions, I wasn’t quite expecting a time travelling visitor this morning.” Remus said dryly. “Besides, a Death Eater wouldn’t have given me their wand. And I doubt they would have come up with some mad charade to get to me, that’s most assuredly not their way of doing things. And even if it were, I somehow doubt time traveller would have ranked high on believability.”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said the man claiming to be the son of Remus’ dead best friends from the future – and good grief, how was this Remus’ life? – “Nobody ever said the Death Eaters were that smart. But if you don’t think I’m a Death Eater, then why do you have your wand on me still?” He didn’t sound particularly concerned about this, just slightly curious. Either he was underestimating Remus to the extreme or he honestly trusted that Remus wouldn’t do anything to him.
“Just because you might not be a Death Eater doesn’t automatically assure me that you’re being truthful.” Remus said. And it was true. Remus had plenty of enemies out there, people who knew what he was and hated him for it. The werewolves themselves weren’t especially fond of him either. Granted, he couldn’t immediately think of someone who would come up with this convoluted plan to – to what exactly? Convince him they were Harry Potter from the future and then what? Manipulate him into doing their bidding? It wasn’t like he had any particular connections or skills he could exploit. Remus wasn’t humble enough to pretend that wasn’t a more skilled wizard than most, but at the same time he certainly wasn’t arrogant enough to assume he was the cream of the crop. There were plenty of wizards and witches more skilled than him out there. Kill him then? But that could be achieved so much quicker and easier without the subterfuge. Hell, all the man would have had to do was curse him as he opened the door.
No, that obviously wasn’t it. The only thing Remus could think of that could explain this bizarre trick, was it being an opportunity to get to Harry. The real Harry, currently six years old and living with his Aunt and Uncle, safe from the wizarding world and anyone who might try to harm him.
Which also included him, Remus thought somewhat bitterly. ‘For the boys’ own good’ Dumbledore had said and Remus could see the sense in it, when he was in one of his better moods. So while the fact remained that he couldn’t actually get to Harry, he wouldn’t put it past people who knew of his connection to Lily and James to try and use him to get to the boy.
Tightening his grip on his wand, Remus said, “So, how do you expect to convince me of this ridiculous plot?”
Not-Harry sighed again, and shoved a hand through his hair. This time, Remus took note of the lightning bolt scar on his forehead and felt his eyes narrow slightly. Everyone knew about Harry’s scar; it was just an indication of attention to detail, that was all.
“I’ve never been particularly good at this part,” he said. At Remus’ questioning look, he clarified, “The what comes after part. My mad plans are usually get to Point A, and then when I’m there, I realise I didn’t plan very far ahead. Here it was, get to the past, then get to Remus. I didn’t really think about what I would say or do once I got to you, other than the bare basics.” He chuckled a little, a surprisingly mirthless sound, “That was always more Hermione’s forte.”
Remus did not know, or care, who Hermione was. He opened his mouth to say that was the worst job of convincing someone of something unbelievable he’d ever heard, when Harry, who had been biting his lip in thought, cut across him.
“What if I tell you something you know, but that no one else does? In this time at least.”
Remus raised a brow, “Like what?” He didn’t actually have all that much in the way of secrets. Whilst it wasn’t public knowledge that he was a werewolf, there was still a fair few people who knew. Not to mention the fact that his name was on the Werewolf Registry at the Ministry.
“Like your nicknames from Hogwarts.” Harry said thoughtfully, “Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot and Prongs.”
Remus quickly disregarded this, and the hollow pang he felt in his chest at hearing his old nickname for the first time in years, “They were hardly a secret. Granted, I wouldn’t have said they were common knowledge but we used them in front of other people often enough that people knew about them.”
“I didn’t mean the names themselves,” said Harry, “I meant where you got them from.”
Remus froze slightly. Granted, his nickname wasn’t that difficult to discern the meaning behind if you knew he was a werewolf, but the others? Outside the four of them, Lily had been the only one told about the secret and highly illegal transformation James, Peter and Sirius had undergone in fifth year in order to keep Remus company during the full moons. And even then, it had only been begrudging. James had had to needle Sirius for five whole months before he’d even agree to hear him out. The idea that the secret could have gotten out was ludicrous when three of the people concerned were dead, Sirius was currently rotting in Azkaban and Remus could barely think about those carefree days at Hogwarts, not without his throat closing up and his eyes burning.
Completely unaware of the direction Remus’ thoughts had taken, Harry continued on, “Moony because you’re a werewolf. The others got their names from their Animagus forms. They managed it your fifth year, so they could keep you company when you transformed during the full moon. Peter’s form was a rat, Sirius’ was a dog and Dad’s was a stag. Wormtail, Padfoot, Prongs.”
Harry was smiling at him, taking in Remus’ shocked expression, obviously awaiting his verdict. Remus, however, was too busy trying to breath. There was no way. He couldn’t possibly be Harry. It was ludicrous to even suggest it.
“Siri-” Remus stopped himself, cleared his throat and tried again, “Black was a Death Eater. He could have easily passed that information on to them.” It was something he’d thought about once or twice over the years, but it hadn’t given him any reason to go to Dumbledore to tell him about his and his friends youthful exploits. Peter and James were dead after all, and Sirius was in Azkaban.
Harry gaped at him for a moment, “Oh, come off it Remus! You don’t actually believe that, do you? And besides, even if Sirius had told them about him being an Animagus,” the look on Harry’s face made it quite clear he didn’t believe that and Remus couldn’t help but wonder at it. Surely anyone pretending to be Harry would have known that it had been Sirius who had betrayed Lily and James? “Why would he have told them about the others? Much less, the reason why they all decided to become Animagi?”
“It was information on the enemy, of course he would have told Voldemort. And as for the why, well if his Master had asked, how could Sirius have refused?” he asked, not a little spitefully.
Harry didn’t even bother to hide his eye roll. But instead of pushing the Animagus route, he paused thoughtfully and then said, “Fine, that won’t convince you. How about my Patronus?”
“Your Patronus?” Remus asked suspiciously. He didn’t quite understand why he would want to use that as proof. You couldn’t disguise the form your Patronus would take, or force it to take another, but Remus had no way of knowing what form Harry’s could potentially take once he was older, so there was no way he could use that as a means to prove his identity.
It seemed more likely it was just a ploy to get his wand back.
“Yeah, it takes the same form as Dad when he’s,” he paused slightly, “when he’s Prongs.”
Remus stilled. He hadn’t been expecting that. Patronus’ were highly personal and generally took the form of something you associated with protection. It wouldn’t be outside the realms of possibility for Harry’s to have taken the form of his father’s Animagus.
Sighing heavily and making sure to keep his wand trained on the other wizard, Remus placed his cup on the table and picked up Harry’s wand from where it was nestled between his thigh and the armrest. He stood up and motioned for Harry to do the same.
“You’ll point your wand in that direction,” Remus begin, gesturing towards the dresser at the back of his living room. There was a rather ugly vase on it that his mother had been overly fond of, so he wasn’t particularly bothered if some mad wizard claiming to be from the future inadvertently destroyed it. “And if I hear anything that isn’t a Patronus, you’ll be unconscious before you can even think ‘Protego’.”
Keeping his wand closely trained on him, Remus handed Harry back his wand and then waited.
Harry smiled slightly as he accepted his wand; a wizard never felt truly at home without it after all. He then raised his arm, and Remus tensed slightly, though Harry was true his word as a moment later, he incanted “Expecto Patronum!”
There was a blinding flash of light that momentarily left Remus dazzled, and when he’d finally managed to blink the stars out of his eyes, he was faced with an ethereal, silver stag trotting silently around his front room.
It wasn’t just any stag though. It was exactly like Prongs, down to the shape of the horns and the cant to the head it gave as it lifted its gaze to look at Remus.
“Prongs,” he murmured, more than choked, as he stepped forward with his hand raised as if to pet it. As his hand came into contact with the snout however, it dissipated into silvery smoke and he was left with the man who claimed to be Harry Potter from the future.
“So, let’s say I believe you,” Remus said some time later. They had relocated to the kitchen, Harry was sat in the same hard-backed kitchen chair Remus had occupied that morning, his wand on the table next to his elbow. Remus had just finished brewing another pot of tea.
Harry grinned broadly, “I knew I could convince you.”
Remus pointedly ignored him, “How on earth did you manage to travel so far back in time? I was under the impression time-turners only allowed you to travel back a limited number of hours.” Though of course, it was entirely possible time-turner technology had been greatly advanced in whatever year Harry had come from, “And more importantly,” Remus went on, “why did you travel back? And why seek me out? I’m sure there are people out there who are far better suited to helping you than I am.” Because the only reason Remus could think of for Harry travelling back years was because he desperately needed someone’s help or advice, it would make no sense otherwise. And he couldn’t understand how that person could possibly be him.
Harry grinned more broadly still and leaned almost eagerly across the table, “It was actually a potion I used. Found it in this old, mouldy looking book. There was loads and loads of other really complex potions and spells and stuff in there, most of them dark as anything, but this one wasn’t that bad in comparison, the potion just needed a lot of magic to activate it and if you don’t give it enough, it’d probably kill you trying to get the rest. I had a couple of things chock full of magic though, so I was fine,” his grin turned a little sheepish, “I was still unconscious for about a day though.”
Remus took a sip of his tea to hide his smile. He’d sounded so much like Lily just then, and wholly genuine to boot, and that more than anything he'd said so far, made his story more believable to Remus.
“You must be very skilled at potions to have pulled something like that off. I’ve never had the hand for it, I’m afraid.”
Harry’s smile disappeared at that and he sighed a little, “I’m not actually. I mean, I’m definitely passable. I never would have tried something like this if I didn’t think I had anything to lose. I actually mucked it up a bit, to be honest.” Harry paused, drumming his fingers on the table top, obviously debating if he should tell Remus just how he’d messed up. Remus was intensely curious, not least about what the future might be like if Harry had truly believed he had nothing to lose.
“I actually meant to go back twenty-three years you know, to 1980, around when I was born. I thought I’d put more than enough magic into it, but then I felt it starting to drain mine. I let it take some at first, thinking it maybe needed just a bit more to get me there, but I had to cut it off in the end. Hurt something mad to do it, but it probably would have completely drained me otherwise.” Harry looked at Remus then and there was an inscrutable expression on his face, he looked… apologetic almost? “I was hoping, when I woke up, that I’d at least made it to ’81. But I didn’t.” he finished a little weakly.
Remus was ashamed to say it took him an embarrassing long time to work at what Harry was getting it. But when he did, it left Remus staring at Harry in shock.
He’d been aiming for 1980, ’81 at a push.
He’d wanted to save Lily and James.
Remus glanced away as he felt his eyes burn and cleared his throat, “Harry…” he trailed off because he didn’t quite know what to say. There was nothing you could have done? But he could have, and Harry knew that, so he wouldn’t find it a comfort. But that still didn’t mean even the slightest bit a blame lay with him.
“You have nothing to feel guilty for,” he settled on, “The blame for what happened to your parents’ rests with Voldemort. Him and Sirius Black.”
Harry beamed brilliantly at him and it took Remus a moment – he blamed it on the fact that Harry had dropped in on him before he’d had the chance to take his Pepperup – to work out why.
He’d referred to them as his parents.
Remus gave a good natured eye roll, “Yes, well, I suppose I’m convinced.”
Harry managed to make having a sip of tea look smug.
“So, your other question.” Harry said brightly. He really was in a very fantastic mood. He’d missed Remus something fierce after he’d died, and now here they were drinking tea together again. He could tell Remus wasn’t completely at ease with him yet, but he’d at least said he believed him and that was more than enough for Harry for now.
“Other question?” Remus repeated. He’d clearly gotten a bit side tracked after the revelation of where Harry had intended to end up.
“Why I came back, and why I came to you.” Harry clarified, with a small smile. Truthfully, he was a little apprehensive about how Remus was going to react to some of things Harry was going to tell him, particularly about Sirius. But it needed to be done, and Harry wasn’t going to shrink from it.
But how to break it to Remus that the man often regarded as the worst Dark Lord of the age would return in just eight years?
Well, when in doubt, Harry tended to go with his Gryffindor instincts and just lay it out.
“When I was 14, Voldemort managed to regain his body. It took him a couple of years, but he managed to get just as powerful again as he was before he tried to kill me, if not even more. I managed to defeat him again, for good this time too. But…” he trailed off.
“I see,” Remus said, somewhat heavily. He didn’t look particularly surprised, just rather grave. “I’m assuming that the cost for your victory was too much?”
Harry nodded, “It got to the end, and it just seemed so pointless, you know? Yeah, he was dead, but so was everyone else.” He raised his brows curiously, “You don’t seem that surprised that he came back. Or that I…”
“No,” Remus shook his head, “Dumbledore always said he believed Voldemort would one-day return, and I have faith in Dumbledore’s word. As for you being the one to cause his ultimate downfall? Well,” he gave a stiff, mirthless smile, “You’ve done it before, I don’t see why it should surprise me that it should fall to you again. Am I worried about what this Harry, six years old and hopefully ignorant of the evils of this world, might have to face one day? Of course I am. But not particularly surprised.”
“He won’t have to; I’ll make sure of that.” Harry stated firmly, and at Remus’ questioning look, he elaborated, “My original plan was pretty simple. Kill Voldemort before he had the chance to kill Mum and Dad.”
Remus snorted, “Oh yes, very simple.”
“Oh, shut it,” Harry said with grin. God, it was nice to joke with someone again. Most of the people he’d been interacting with back in his own time were either terrified of him or felt nothing but pity for what had happened to him, and he couldn’t stand either. “That’s pretty much still the plan, only now it’s not letting him come back in the first place. There’s a couple of things I’ll need to do to make sure he can’t, and I was hoping you’d be able to help me out with those. That was the reason I came to you Remus. I trust you, and we were close where I came from before you, well before you died.” Remus looked rather touched but also highly interested in the details of how his future self had died; Harry had no interest in discussing such things so quickly changed tact, “So there’s that, and two other things I decided I needed to do when I ended up in ’86 instead.”
Thankfully Remus didn’t ask about his future counterpart’s death, “I’m glad I had the opportunity to get to know you.” He said with a smile, “And I would be happy to help you in any way, but I have to ask Harry, surely aren’t there witches and wizards more qualified to ask for help than me? Dumbledore, being the immediate example.”
Harry sighed deeply and leant back in his chair, running a hand over his face. His reasons for not telling Dumbledore were… complex and personal and not something he particularly wanted to share with Remus. The bare bones of it was of course, the Horcrux in his younger self’s head. He hadn’t decided yet what he should do about it. He’d already decided that there was no way he was going to let Voldemort reconstitute his body, especially not using Harry’s own blood, so there would be nothing keeping his younger self alive if they wanted to get rid of the Horcrux the same way he had. But at the same time, he was determined that his younger self would live through this, that he would get to live to a grand old age and die, surrounded by his children and grandchildren.
Call him selfish, but Harry thought he deserved it.
Dumbledore wouldn’t think that way though. Harry wasn’t going to deny that the old man had cared for him, because he knew that Dumbledore had. But Harry was as equally convinced that, despite this, Dumbledore would have sent him off to die regardless of whether or not there was a plan in place to ensure he made it through it.
“Dumbledore… wouldn’t agree with what I’m doing, I don’t think.” He settled on, “Meddling with time that is.”
Remus opened his mouth and Harry could tell by the look in his eyes that he wanted to argue, “Look, trust me on this. He wouldn’t agree. I’m not saying I’ll keep it a secret from him forever, but I think, for now, it’s better kept between just the two of us. Okay?”
He didn’t know what he would do if Remus said no. Remus was his friend, basically his family. If he decided his help was contingent on Dumbledore being involved, what would Harry do? Leave, and hope Remus didn’t tell if he wasn’t involved anymore? Obliviate him?
He didn’t particularly like the thought of either.
After a moment of watching Harry however, Remus gave a small sigh and nodded, “Alright,” he said, “We won’t tell Albus for now. But if it gets to a point where I think we’re in over our head, we’re going to him, alright?”
Harry nodded. He didn’t particularly like the idea of telling Dumbledore before he was ready, but what Remus had said made sense. It would be idiotic to get themselves involved in something they couldn’t handle just because Harry was too stubborn.
“Now, what about the other two things you wanted to change?”
“Right, those,” Harry said. How to handle this? He still didn’t know how Remus would react to the news about Sirius. Disbelief? Anger? It was likely that as soon as Harry told him where Pettigrew was, Remus would Apparate off and murder him before they had a chance to free Sirius. Hoping he’d be able to keep the werewolf calm when that time came, he decided to go with the less earth-shattering revelation first, “One of them is purely selfish. I want to get little me away from the Dursley’s. They were just about as far from loving, caring relatives as you could get.” He added dryly.
Remus scowled, “Yes, I did have my concerns when Albus said he’d left you with them. Lily didn’t think much of them, and she could find something to like in just about anyone. Where would he go, though, if you did manage to get him away from them?”
“Well, I was thinking we could raise him.” Harry said with a grin. This was the part of his plan that was most likely to end in failure – which was saying something since another part of his plan was to defeat Voldemort again – but it was also the part of his plan he most enthusiastic about. Children were something he’d always wanted but never been able to have because of the state things had been left in after the war, and as child himself he’d wanted nothing more than a mysterious relative to appear one day and rescue him from the Dursley’s. This way, he’d be fulfilling both of his wishes for a family in one fell swoop.
Remus, clearly not as enthused, goggled at him, “It’s nice a sentiment Harry, but let’s be realistic here please. I’m a werewolf. An unemployed werewolf. And you don’t even exist as an adult! Who on earth would give us a child to raise? And if they did, how would we even support him?”
Harry waved his hand a trifle carelessly and tried not to laugh as Remus nearly choked at his blasé manner. While he might not have thought in that great depth about what to say to Remus when he’d arrived, he had thought about this. “I’ve thought it through! We’ll make it so that you’re not officially his guardian, so it shouldn’t matter either way if you’re a werewolf or not, it’s not like you’ll be a danger to him on the full moons,” Remus looked liable to interrupt at this, so Harry smoothly spoke over him, “And it’s not like you’ll be unemployed forever! And I’ll think of something to make sure I have an identity that isn’t a six-year-old kid. A few confundus charms in the right place, and no one will know any different. I already have a plan for a job too, I’ll need the identity first of course, but it should work. Honestly Remus, I didn’t intend to eat you out of house and home.”
Remus was still staring, unconvinced, “Harry, that leaves so much at risk! Verifying who people are is something that happens when you try to get custody of a child!”
“Remus, I’ve done this sort of thing before, it’ll be fine! And besides, it’s not as if I’m planning on marching into the Ministry of Magic tomorrow morning demanding I be allow to raise Harry Potter. It sucks at the Dursley’s and I’d rather little me got out as soon as he could, but he’ll be fine there for a bit longer while we get everything together. We’ll see about fabricating some kind of story for me, leave it a while to make sure it holds up and then when we’re sure, we’ll go for it.”
Remus sighed deeply, it was clear he still wasn’t convinced but he at least didn’t look like he wanted to argue the point anymore, “How would we even make a claim on him?” he finally asked, a little weakly. “I might have been a friend of his parents, but that won’t stand up in a custody claim, especially if I won’t even be the official guardian. And somehow I doubt claiming to be Harry Potter from the future, come to raise yourself, will work either.”
Well, it was now or never, Harry supposed.
“Well,” he said, a little sheepish, “Sirius is my Godfather. Once he’s out of Azkaban, he’d have an easy claim.”
Remus stared at him silently for moment, clearly under the impression he’d misunderstood before he spluttered, “Sirius?! What – But, he’s – he’s a murderer Harry! A traitor and a-” Remus seemed to have lost the ability to speak, and he simply stared at Harry in mute, confused anger.
Harry subtly moved Remus’ teacup away from him, in case he hurled it at the wall in anger. It looked pretty old after all. And then he started to explain the whole mess. Starting with the switch of the Secret Keepers, the way Pettigrew had arranged things on that Muggle street so that Sirius looked like the guilty one, before ending with the revelation that Peter had smuggled his way into a Pureblood family as a pet so he could keep an ear out for the return of his Master.
As Harry finished speaking, Remus sat silently, staring at his hands on the table top. They were gripping one another so tightly the knuckles were bone white.
“Remus-” Harry started tentatively, unnerved by Remus’ lack of reaction, but his words seemed to act as a catalyst as Remus surged to his feet, his chair hitting the kitchen tiles with a loud bang that made Harry jump.
He stalked from one end of the kitchen to the other, practically vibrating. As he passed back past the table, he slammed his fists down on it hard enough that their teacups almost toppled off, Harry just managing to rescue them.
“That traitor!” he yelled. His face was contorted in fury and there was a yellow gleam of the wolf in his eyes, “Bad enough what he did to Lily and James! But Sirius! Framing him!” His rage seemed to leave him in a rush and he slumped forward slightly, head bowed over the table, “Good God Sirius, he’s been in Azkaban for five years. God, he didn’t even get a trial. And I’ve just left him to rot there, while I’ve been sitting in this bloody house, feeling sorry for myself. How on earth would he ever be able to forgive me?”
“He will, Moony,” Harry said softly, he didn’t think there was anything there to forgive and neither, he thought, would Sirius. But blaming himself for things out his control was nothing out of the norm for Remus. “He’s your family, of course he’ll forgive you.”
Remus looked up at him then and there was a steely look of determination in his eyes, “We’re getting him out of there.” He said firmly.
“Definitely,” Harry agreed, just as firmly.
There was a moments silence as the two of them stared at one another for several moments, before Remus snorted slightly and moved away from the table, and over to the stove. He banged the kettle back onto it and prodded a fire into being below it. He clearly needed another cup of tea.
The kitchen was filled with just the sounds of the kettle boiling for some minutes. Harry felt somewhat deflated now, a little adrift and not quite sure what to do next. There were still things to explain of course, and certainly things to do, but he’d achieved his immediate goal of convincing Remus and outlining his plan to him, and he suddenly felt exhausted.
He glanced up as Remus placed a new mug of tea in front of him, muttering a quiet thanks as the werewolf eased back into the seat across from him.
“I thought you were like James, when you first arrived.” Remus said suddenly, causing Harry to look up at him curiously, “But you’re actually more like Lily.”
Harry frowned and opened his mouth but Remus cut across him, “Not how you look, though there’s definitely more of her in your face than what you might first think. I meant how you act, bulldozing in here and turning my entire world upside down,” he snorted a laugh, “Incorrigible, undaunted and unapologetic, that’s what we used to say about her. She never did anything by halves.” He stretched his arms above his head, his back cracking loudly, and Harry belatedly realised that it had been the full moon the night before. No wonder Remus looked so drawn. “I feel like I’ve aged about thirty years with all the surprises you’ve dropped on me.” He said with a short laugh.
Harry grinned, suddenly invigorated, “You’ve not heard the half of it yet, Remus,” he said, leaning forward on the table, “Tell me, what do you know about Horcuxes?”