Not all of James died that night. Not all of Harry lived. An AU of book four that will keep your eyes glued to your monitor.
Disclaimer - Harry Potter is not my property. I don't own it and most likely never will. On with the show...
Thursday June 9th, 1994
Chapter 1 – A House of Cards
It all started after I drove off the Dementors by the lake. At first, it was a mild buzzing in the head. Later, I would be able to say it felt similar to euphoria or drunkenness. All too soon it became a raging migraine. At the time, I had no frame of reference. I’d be lying if I said I could truly recall the details of the night. Though, the trip on Buckbeak’s back with Hermione screaming in my ears all the way stood out.
Healthy set of lungs on that girl. I can testify to that, if necessary. You might have to speak up if you want to ask me.
An hour later, Sirius had disappeared on the back of the hippogriff and I was spending the night in the infirmary with Hermione and Ron. Sirius did a number on Ron’s leg. It reminded me of something. Ever have that sense of Déjà vu? Ironic coming from a bloke that just finished traveling through time using a bauble on a necklace? I sure did. I managed to convince Madame Pomfrey to give me something for the throbbing headache and tried to get some sleep.
“Harry, are you asleep yet?” Hermione’s voice came from the next bed over.
“Yes, and dreaming as well.” There let her figure that out.
“Prat! What do you think is going to happen?”
“Don’t rightly know. Sirius will have to stay on the run. At least Dumbledore might have some resources to help him. I should have let them kill Pettigrew. Of course, with my luck Remus would have ended up eating the evidence.”
“Disgusting! Don’t say that, Harry! You did the right thing.” For such a bright girl, Hermione Granger can be so naïve. Hindsight is a damn sight better than my vision and I’m pretty sure that a dead Peter Pettigrew wouldn’t have escaped from anyone.
“So, I never asked you how you did on the Professor Lupin’s obstacle course? How are you taking the other exams for your extra classes?” I didn’t really need to know, but I’ll let you in on a secret – Hermione’s voice has a melodic droning quality that is rather nice to fall asleep to.
If I thought the headaches were bad, the dreams were worse. I was used to cold, clammy night terrors. Getting locked in the cupboard had really helped that along. At first, I chalked it up to hanging out with a large number of Dementors, not exactly a lively group. It might sound like blasphemy, but maybe eating a large quantity of chocolate just before going to bed isn’t such a good idea? After waking Hermione and Ron up the second time, I dropped a silencing spell over my bed. It was one of the worst nights of sleep in my brief, but eventful life.
In the morning’s light, the so-called ‘golden trio’ looked a bit tarnished. Ron hobbled along with a cane. Hermione actually has to spend about twenty minutes on her hair to make it look more like a head of hair and less like a Herbology experiment gone awry. She’s a great friend, but there are some things even magic can’t fix. Me, I don’t even bother with the hair and resemble death warmed over. The big bags under my eyes made me wonder if I was actually a raccoon Animagus trapped in mid-transformation. There are aches in parts of my body that shouldn’t exist on a thirteen year old.
Absently, I stuck my wand in my mouth and mutter, “integrum restituere.” My breath freshened and my teeth were cleaned. ‘Breakfast here I come.’ It would be a few days before I realized that no one had ever taught Harry James Potter that particular spell. Thankfully, ignorance was actually bliss as I wasn’t ready for a nervous breakdown just yet.
At breakfast, we learned that the Minister has removed the Dementors from the school grounds. The three of us were subjected to numerous stares from the rest of the Gryffs and even some of the Puffs and Claws. The rumors that we were in the infirmary all night had already started to spread. The fact we looked like hell probably didn’t escape them either.
I had to love my friends. Ron was so bloody oblivious – it’s beautiful. Ragnarok could come and if the silly plonker was eating, he wouldn’t notice. Hermione was so used to being an outsider that she couldn’t really give a crap. Though, I suspected that when she decides to start trying to attract blokes that’ll change. Ginny, Fred, George and Percy were interrogating Ron about his injury. His mum’s howler wasn’t due for at least twenty minutes. We stuck to our story that a critter near Hagrid’s hut had come out of the forest and bit Ron. The big guy even made a point of swinging by the table and telling Ron that he chased the wild kneazle into the woods, but couldn’t catch him – subtle, very subtle. Amused that I could think of Hagrid and the word ‘subtle’ at the same time, I almost missed the idiot heading towards our table.
‘Oh goody! The boil on the arse of life is coming over. Just what I needed to start the day.’
“What do you want Malfoy?” It had to be something good, he’s got Parkinson with him along with the usual crowd. I considered the possibility that he wasn’t going to end up a queer after all? I discarded it for lack of concern on my part a moment later.
The little blonde haired ponce sneered at me. I have yet to find a good tutor for mastering such a sneer. “Just coming over to see if you heard the news about that creature Lupin resigning. Maybe the oaf, Hagrid can put him in a cage and we can study him next year.”
“Ten points from Slytherin for disrespecting a teacher! I’ll let the teachers decide if you can still go to Hogsmeade today.” Draco was slipping. He didn’t even notice Percy was still circling. The ‘red headed tyrant’ had just over a week left in his ‘reign of terror’ and was probably looking to make the most of it.
“Lupin resigned. I’m not disrespecting that creature.” His smug look turned on the head boy.
“I believe you called Professor Hagrid an ‘oaf’, another five points for arguing with the head boy. Lets see, if I take you to Professor Snape, he’ll reverse it. If I go to Professor McGonagall, your head of house will claim bias. So let’s go to a neutral party.”
I watched as Percy leads Malfoy over to none other than Hagrid. Percy had a mean streak doesn’t he? Still does from what I hear. Oh look, Snape rushed to his pretty boy’s defense, breakfast and a show – not too shabby. Still, he said Remus resigned. I felt compelled to investigate. Hermione was already begging off to go clean herself up. She said goodbye and headed for the tower with Ginny in tow. Ron dictated a shopping list to the twins, milking his injury for what it is worth. I excused myself and head for Professor Lupin’s classroom.
Remus treated me to a butterbeer at the Hogs Head. Most everyone else favored the Three Broomsticks, which is exactly why he picked here. It was nice to have the Marauder’s Map back. Technically, I wasn’t supposed to be in Hogsmeade, but in all the confusion amongst the staff with the events of last night, practical OWL and NEWT exams still to be given. I simply walked out with the rest of the sheep and no one was the wiser. Though several glared at the Werewolf walking next to me on the way into town. After two additional butterbeers and a few stories about my parents and Padfoot’s antics, the conversation drew to a close. Remus is such a good storyteller that it felt like I was actually there! I followed him outside towards the egress apparition point.
“Will you seek him out?”
“In time, Harry, all in good time. I’ll probably be traveling a good bit this summer, but I’ll try to send you an owl at some point.”
“Thank you, sir.” I extended my hand. He took it with a firm grip.
“Please, call me Remus or if you want, Moony.”
“Take care of yourself, Moony.” It felt strange, but right addressing him like that.
He disappeared with a slight crack and I headed back up the path towards the school. There was no sense in pressing my luck, plus the headache was back in full force. Instead of heading straight to the dorms for a nap, I dropped by the pitch and grabbed my Firebolt. Maybe the air would clear my head. A few shapes were up there. Someone was playing a bit of Quidditch. Not surprisingly, it was Wood in the rings. He’d been frantic ever since Puddlemere sent him the offer letter. His tryout was in two weeks. He probably should’ve been preparing for his NEWT practicals, but if I had a shot at the big time, I’d probably have been doing the same thing! I debated mentioning it to Hermione and watching her spin herself up. Katie Bell and her friend Leanne Patterson were taking runs at him. Like us ickle third years, the fourth years were done with their exams as well.
“Oy, Ollie! Shouldn’t you cramming for your NEWTs?”
He laughed and gave a one-fingered salute. “Got it covered, Harry. This is way more important! Katie, give the boy wonder the Quaffle. Come on Harry take a few runs at me on that Firebolt of yours. Two of the three starters on Puddlemere have them.” I arced lazily towards Katie and accelerated.
“Shouldn’t you be enjoying yourself in Hogsmeade?” I yelled to the curly blonde as she hurled the Quaffle. I one handed it and turned on the afterburners, barely hearing her happy scream of “Free Tickets! Why else?” Ollie favored his right side ever so slightly, so he tended to stay towards the left side of the hoop he was protecting. Needing to release before I hit the shooter’s arc, I charge hard and deked high and to the left and released trying to go top-shelf on him. It made it over the tips of his outstretched gloves and watched the Quaffle sail through the hoop. Potter One, Wood Nada.
Ollie looked confused, angry and appreciative at the same time as he fetched the ball from the ground and brought it back. “Holy House Elf Balls, Harry! You’ve been holding out on me. I’ll make you a deal. You keep working with me for the next week and I won’t tell Angie. If I tell her you can do that, she’s liable to move Katie or Alicia to seeker next season.
I headed back towards the whooping Katie. “C’mon Bell, I’ll bring it in and feed you. Go low side ring three. Let’s make him move a bit! Ollie! Two on null break coming your way! Stop us if you can!” Chasing is a bit more restrictive than being a seeker. The passers arc is twenty-meter circle surrounding the three hoops. Once inside it, you can’t pass to another player. At ten meters is the shooter’s arc. Whoever has the Quaffle has to take the shot before they cross that line. The keeper has those split seconds to figure out which of the three hoops you’re going for and make their move.
I did a number of shimmies and feints to keep the Firebolt moving at near top speed, but still allow Katie’s Comet 375 to stay near. I eyed rings one and two pretty blatantly and did a ‘no look dump pass’ to Katiebear and veered away. She put the biscuit in the bucket cackling with glee as Ollie went to fetch the Quaffle again. The unspoken rule of practice was if the keeper blocks it, the shooter plays fetch. If the chaser scores, then the keeper has to go get it.
Katie did a bit of a victory roll coming back waggling on her broom a bit. It was a nice waggle. “Ollie’s right. You’ve been holding back on us. I’m not sure Angie could have pulled that one off. Should I start figuring out how to catch a snitch?”
Still feeling a bit giddy I replied, “No worries there, Sky Princess. I’m still a seeker last I checked. We can’t break up the ‘flying foxes’, if you know what I mean?” She was bit gobsmacked at me actually flirting. Hell, if I’d been thinking about it, I’d have been pretty shocked as well!
Ollie didn’t look pleased, “Bloody hell, Harry! Remind me, which one of us has a pro tryout in two weeks? After fifth year you should try to make the spring developmental squads!” Most new players spend their first two or three years in the spring leagues. Ollie and one of the Claw beaters managed to get permission to leave school briefly to participate.
“Nah, straight to the pros for me,” I quipped in answer to him catching the Quaffle and hauling twig back to the centerline leaving both of them sucking my draft. “Okay Ollie! You look like you need some help back there. Katie is your defender. Ready Leanne?” The willowy brunette nodded riding a Cleansweep Eight that looked like Alicia’s broom. “Katie will be after me. She’ll expect me to take the shot. I’ll pitch it to you highside ring one. If you have the shot take it. If not circle clockwise and hit me highside ring two. I’ll be on the backside.”
They stopped it, but only because Leanne botched the give and go. The look on Ollie’s face says that he knew he would have been beat on the backside of ring two.
Thirty minutes later, the four of us were soaked with sweat. Both Ollie and Katie swore up and down that I had suddenly turned into some kind of chaser-possessed demon. I got a smack on the arm when I offered to shower in the girl’s locker room so the two girls could inspect me for my bat wings. Wood wanted me back on the pitch everyday and thanked me for giving him a workout as hard as he had gotten in the spring leagues. I appreciated the offer of free tickets just the same.
That night the dreams were worse. I hoped that exhausting myself out on the pitch would help. It didn’t. Waking up in a cold sweat wasn’t a good thing. I ended up dragging my sorry arse to the shower at five in the morning. At least it was Saturday. I passed by some of the desperate seventh years on the chopping block for Monday’s exams. Brenda Thorton was damn near desperate looking at three scrolls of Runes in front of her.
“The ruddy thing doesn’t make any sense! I’m losing my mind. I can’t find the effing problem!”
For the sake of being curious, I peered around always enjoying a good train wreck. Scanning the parchment and her translation – Old Celtic. I pointed at the top third of the parchment. “There, those two symbols. They aren’t ‘unity and pride’, when used with each other. Together, they mean ‘strength of heart’. Try getting some rest. You seem a bit strung out.”
The seventh year stared at me for a moment before realizing that I was right. She gave me a thankful smile - before abandoning my advice and pulling another translation sheet out of her packet. It wasn’t until I was halfway out in the hallway as I was thinking about how that combination tripped me up once, when I realized that I had never taken Ancient Runes.
That was the moment I first realized that I was in trouble.