AN: Hello, everyone! I know it's been a while, and this chapter is shorter than I'd like it to be, but I'm getting back into writing! My update rate should pick up a bit now, and once Round 2 is done, I think I'll move onto updating the Reinforced Magic series, and then onto my Naruto/Natsume Yuujinchou story as well... hopefully that'll happen a lot sooner than this did, but at least I'm not abandoning anything, hey!
Beta'd by The trolling SnarkLord
Chapter 20 – Christmas Dinner
Lily looked nervously around the dinner table in her parents' home. Both of them were saddened by the death of their grandchild, and this being the first Christmas Eve without him really tore at their hearts. She had told them about summoning the other Harry and… well, they hadn't reacted very well to it.
Her father, George Evans, had told her in no uncertain terms that 'family cannot be replaced. Each of them is unique, and to even think of another as being like them was doing both a disservice'. Her mother , Lavender Evans, had burst into tears, crying once more over the loss of her grandchild.
Of course, the two had still expressed a desire to meet this 'other Harry', even if he wasn't the same one they had known. Once again, her grandfather had said that 'family was family, no matter what'. He had always been the one who was fully committed to holding their family together, and Lily thought that he was the only reason that she and Petunia had at all reconciled after she had been found out to be a witch, no matter how tattered the sisters' relationship was these days.
Her mother was just bringing the roast out to the table when there was a knock on the door. Lavender and George exchanged a glance, before the latter disappeared through the door and into the hall. Everything seemed to go quiet as they heard the old man open the door and greet their guest.
"Hello… I suppose you would be H-Harry?" He stumbled over the name, choking back tears.
"I am." A familiar and musical voice replied. "I understand that you would be George Evans?"
"That'd be me, lad." George confirmed. "Would you like to come in?"
"Thank you." Harry replied.
Silence continued in the kitchen as they heard Harry slip off whatever footwear he was wearing and follow George through to the dining room. Lily could see Petunia and Vernon both focusing intently on the doorway, not yet having seen their 'other' nephew. Even Rose and Blake looked over to the doorway, though they had small smiles on their faces, pleased to see their new brother, the two of them having a rather decent relationship with him so far.
Lily blinked at seeing his appearance when he stepped into the room, it being a bit different and more formal than she'd seen him in since he'd been summoned. He was wearing coattails that reached his mid-calf with a waistcoat visible underneath that. Under that, he had a wine red shirt on and black slacks for pants. He wasn't wearing either his breaker gorgon or a pair of glasses, and his purple hair was done in a very tight braid that fell down his back.
Lavender was the first to speak, attempting a joke. "Well, at least one of my grandchildren can admit that lavender really is the best." She chuckled, referencing his hair, even if it wasn't quite the right shade to be called lavender.
Harry gave her a small smile, and in his soft, lyrical voice, greeted each one of them at the table before taking a seat between Blake and Dudley.
"Hello, cousin, how are things with you?" He asked. Unknown to Dudley, Harry was mildly surprised that this Dudley was not as large as the one back in his original reality. Oh, he was large, that was true, but he didn't look like he should roll instead of walk. He suspected the living grandparents may have something to do with this, as well as himself having never lived with them.
He refrained from tapping into Akasha to find the answer with some difficulty. While it was true that he was connected to it, and thus could never truly be surprised by anything, he avoided looking up mundane things with as much focus as he could.
Having all of that information touching his mind was like a five year old playing around with one of those laser pen lights in the corner. Yes, they may shine it in your eyes every now and then, forcing you to acknowledge them, and it was very distracting, but it was possible to be only 'generally' aware of them instead of being focused on them.
Of course, this comparison was not the best, as all of Akasha's information was directly connected to his mind and available to him, and almost infinitely harder to ignore because of that, but with a supreme effort of will, he was only peripherally aware of the Truth of Everything (capital letters and all) and that's how he would try and keep things.
"Um, yeah, stuffs okay." Dudley said awkwardly, not really sure what to say. "I might be chosen for the boxing tournament this summer! The coach said I'm one of the best there, and if I try hard, I've got a good chance of winning it as long as I keep my temper down."
"That sounds quite interesting." Harry agreed. "Good luck with that, I hope you do well. I remember when I used to spar with Bazett. Neither of us were really the type to back down from a challenge, and we only really stopped when someone, usually myself, was unconscious."
"Ugh, things don't go that far at boxing." Dudley shrugged. "Though Jack broke his arm by accident last year. He fell wrong and he and Sam were practicing too close to some of the others, so they went down in a big pile together."
"I can imagine that was quite painful. Hopefully he made a full recovery." Harry offered his sympathies, broken bones were never pleasant, and a muggle wouldn't be able to heal as quickly as he did, especially without spells and potions.
"Yeah, he was fine after a while. He still came to the club and watched when he was hurt." Dudley nodded. "You've got to do a paper exam at the higher levels, like, about bones and muscles and stuff, and he did his one early while he still had his broken arm."
Harry smiled at him, but looked away when George asked him a question of his own.
"Is this 'Bazett' a friend of yours?" He had been frowning when he heard how far those 'sparring' sessions went.
"Not a particularly close one, but yes, she is." Harry nodded. "She's eight years my senior, and one of the more well known Enforcers of the Clock Tower, what with her being of the Fraga clan."
When asked about what being a part of the Fraga clan meant, he explained about their aptitude for runes, and the Fragarach, along with how she had used her skills to become quite the skilled enforcer, despite the initial disdain she had been faced with for being from such a reclusive family and using such a 'minor' branch of magecraft.
Conversation settled down while they ate dinner together. Lily was somewhat surprised that most of Harry's own conversations were with Dudley, and occasionally Blake and Rose. She, well she hadn't really thought that Harry and Dudley had anything in common to speak of. Dudley was a muggle, and Harry was so deeply into magic that…
She ducked her head, blushing in shame as she realised just how racist that thought of hers had been. Just because Dudley wasn't magical didn't mean they couldn't have things in common, and Harry seemed happy enough to discuss things like martial arts, motorbikes, and even the occasional comic book, though there was an odd twist to the way Harry mentioned them, like he was talking about real people instead of fictional ones…
Of course, a few others did speak to Harry, and each other as well. Lily, unfortunately, wasn't a very good cook, though she at least wasn't at the 'burn water' line either. Lavender seemed quite pleased to speak cookery with Harry, and the two of them did agree to swap some of their favourite recipes, especially as some of those Harry mentioned were blatantly foreign, and as such something Lily and Petunia's mother had never experienced before.
Even Vernon managed a short conversation with Harry, about business of all things! Though Harry did admit that he had someone called Sion deal with that mostly, he was still aware enough to discuss things that went straight over her head, and James' too, as he had a goblin accounts manager to keep his portfolio in order, as most purebloods did.
She did wonder if Harry was using magic to keep Vernon calm somehow, as his… she hesitated to use as mild a terms as 'distaste', but it was sufficient enough a word to describe his lack of fondness for anything that doesn't conform to his rather narrow view of reality. Anyway, he wasn't reacting as negatively to Harry as she thought he would, given how obviously not normal he was, between his skin colour, eyes, and hair, as well as the occasional flash of his fangs as he spoke.
That wasn't to say that Vernon appeared particularly fond of Harry in one form or another, more… tolerated would perhaps be the best term to use. It was much better than she could remember him being, though there were times that he behaved himself, her and James wedding being the most obvious one she could recall.
Vernon Dursley smiled broadly as his mother-in-law brought the desert in. His Petunia learned her great home-making skills from this woman, and by god was she good. It was only right that his normal wife inherited all of the domestic skills that her sister lacked, though a twitch of the wrist and a few words of nonsense could probably do the same.
Vernon's smile slipped somewhat as he found the purple-haired freak kid in the corner of his eye. He'd come here with the intention of gritting his teeth and playing nice with the freaks, that James Potter bastard really was a piece of work, always willing to use his witchcraft on innocent folk if he ever felt slighted.
That purple haired child however… it was almost the opposite of Potter. Where even Vernon could admit the man retained his youthful, schoolboy charm, made better by the touch of the aristocratic in his features, he was rotten inside. Magic… a word he hesitated to even think, lay hidden behind that veneer of normalcy.
This 'Harry' however was visibly wrong, and yet he had not spoken a single word of magic beyond what was asked of him. He was even talking to Dudley about normal things, the stuff boys his age should be interested in. Granted, his speech, mannerisms, and even the breadth and depth of his knowledge was… unusual, especially given his young age, but it was still a difference to all that mumbo jumbo that was usually tossed around the table at this time of year.
That was one of the reasons he usually felt so uncomfortable at Evans family get-togethers, they always ended up talking about magic. Sure, there were the usual pleasantries, asking him how work was going, normal things like that, but that time passed quickly and was replaced by talk of magic.
To a certain extent, he could even understand it. Magic might make him uneasy, but the fact that a person could hold within themselves the power to bend and break what he knew of the laws of reality… that kind of power would be intoxicating, and he was self-aware enough to know that there was a small part of himself that desired power like that.
Of course what made him grumpy was the fact that if you weren't born to it, it was forever beyond your grasp. He had not been born with any of the influence or status he currently enjoyed, he'd clawed and scraped for every last bit of it. He still remembered how his mother used to sit at the kitchen table and work out what budget they'd have day to day, week to week, for food, fuel, and everything a family of three needed. His father's paycheck had been stretched to the limit at some points, and Vernon could recall some screaming matches between the two of them he'd overheard in his youth.
That one of these people could just snap their fingers and not have to deal with it really rubbed him the wrong way, and that was on top of all that stuff they can, and some probably did, get away with by doing things like wiping memories and controlling people. While he'd heard there was a 'bad lot' amongst the witches and wizards, Vernon was certain they weren't the only ones who took certain… liberties just because they thought they could.
When someone had power, even if they didn't think about it, the majority would exercise that power for their own benefit. How many celebrities, footballers, athletes, and many more did you hear about on the news, being rehabilitated for this or that drug, being found to have cheated on their spouse or partner, and just generally making a mischief of themselves. Power went straight to peoples' heads most of the time.
He looked at 'Harry' again as he delicately ate his dessert. His every move held the grace and poise of nobility, more than that, even Vernon could see what was in front of his face. It was just like he could tell that James Potter ate with manners that had been forced into his head at a young age, even if he didn't try and maintain a dignified and sophisticated manner.
Once dessert was over with, Harry offered to help with the dishes, and after a little cajoling, Lavender agreed to it. To everyone's surprise, however, there was no drawing of a wand and spell-casting, no, he picked up the plates by hand, balancing them atop one another with great dexterity, and carried them off to the kitchen with himself.
Glancing through the door, Vernon could see the sink filled with water and the plates and cutlery being rapidly added to the drying rack. The pace he was keeping was obviously unnatural, but the actions themselves were completely mundane, and it wasn't long before he was back in the room with them.
"You didn't use magic?" George was the one to ask the question a few of them were thinking. "That's usually how Lily does it."
"No particular point to it." Harry shrugged. "It's just as easy to wash them either way, so doing it by hand is just as appropriate as any other method."
"So you don't use magic for chores?" Lavender asked curiously.
"Volumen Hydragyrum usually takes care of things like that." Harry shrugged, and then elaborated at their confused looks. "Volumen Hydrgyrum, or as people have taken to calling it, the 'maid golem', is a sentient mass of mercury that Waver accidentally imbued a soul into with my magic. It feels the need to… validate its existence, and so takes care of basic housecleaning chores. Anything it doesn't do, Satsuki usually takes on if she feels the need to. She's a friend who wears a French maid's outfit, don't ask me where that came from." He added that on at the end to avoid further confusion.
That particular avenue of conversation quickly died, only for others to overtake it, and the group spent a couple of hours more in pleasant discussion, Lily and James leaving with their daughters first, as they still had to get ready for supper with James parents later on, another family meal that Harry was supposed to be a part of.
The preparations for a meal with the Potters were a lot more formal than the one with the Evans family. Lily and James both made sure the children were impeccably dressed and presentable. As nice and friendly as both Charlus and Dorea were, the latter was most definitely a Black and had a rather firm idea of what was and wasn't appropriate – though she at least was not a blood purist – and Charlus wasn't in any way, shape, or form an idiot when it came to socializing with the elites of society, and some of this had crept into his actions and attitude for 'formal' occasions, of which Yule was one.
Lily just hoped that Harry knew this and abided by the 'rules' as well, because she knew that Dorea at least would disapprove of his hair colour and style. Men shouldn't have hair longer than their shoulders, much less have it reach the floor, and having it purple of all colours… she could just see it now.
At least Sirius would be there as well, both the local version of him and Harry's Sirius. Between them, if the other Sirius was anything like their own, they should be able to direct the conversation away from some of the more uncomfortable topics and keep the mood light and relatively cheery.
She was glad about how things had gone with her own parents, Harry had seemingly slipped seamlessly into their lives without any effort on his part, and while she was quite pleased with just how easily he'd done that, a part of her was also… concerned about it as well.
He'd been polite, spoke with everyone, and even interacted with them all without there being much awkwardness of any sort, yet… she couldn't help but think he'd have managed to do that just as easily if he was sharing a meal with the Malfoys, or even Voldemort of all people. The ease he'd fallen into that role made her wonder if it was, well, faked, and what would happen when Voldemort was dead.
Would Harry remain, a constant part of their lives that they could grow to love and care for as much as they had for her now dead child, or would he drift away from them, going where he wished and vanishing into memory. She had yet to be shown any way they even could get back to their own reality, though she did not doubt they existed, but how would they go about getting their hands on such a power?
Even if Harry wasn't the son she had borne for nine months, even if he wasn't the one she'd cared for over a decade and a half, she still felt a motherly concern for the purple-haired boy. She knew, logically at least, that it was silly. He wasn't her child, and it was quite easy to see that he didn't think of her as his mother, but people aren't logical, and if one were to live by logic alone, she was sure that person would be a horrible, cold, calculating individual that even a mother would find difficult to care for.
The problem was, no matter how much she cared… he didn't reciprocate that feeling, and on top of that was how independent he was. She had seen it in the past three months he'd been at Hogwarts, if there was something he wanted then he made it happen himself, and that was all there was to it.
Seeing Rose grumbling about having to wear formal clothing rather than the looser skirts she preferred, Lily banished those thoughts from her mind as she saw to her progeny's outfit, telling her it was only for one more meal, as New Years Eve was something they did with just the fiv- four of them, and all formality went out the window then.
Apparating out front his parents' home, James made sure that everyone was straightened up and looking as good as they could be. Turning back around, he almost jumped out of his skin as he saw both Harry and the 'other' Sirius standing where he was damn sure they hadn't been just a second ago, and he hadn't heard any sort of noise that would indicate an apparition or portkey.
He took a moment to see how the two were dressed, and figured it was good enough to keep his parents happy. Sirius was wearing a suit in crushed velvet, and he looked every part the aristocrat he was, though his boyish charm was shining through, there was a depth to him, a haunted tightening around the eyes that the Sirius he knew so well lacked.
Harry was wearing something even more formal than he had been earlier, and it was obviously of incredibly high quality even to him, who didn't pay attention to fashion. His hair was in some sort of complicated style that looked like it should have taken several days to put together, and he dreaded to think of what sort of maintenance it would take.
"Well then?" Harry asked, giving him a pointed look, before his eyes flickered towards the home in front of them.
Taking the hint, James pulled back on the heavy knocker and prepared for the response. Of course, the door wasn't knocked on twice, as no sooner than the first had resounded through the house than the door was opened, revealing John, his parents' manservant.
James didn't know how old he was, but even when he was a kid John had looked ancient, and he looked no different now.
"If the young master and his family would care to come in." John held the door open for them, and as they stepped into the house each of them felt the wards wash over them, identifying them, welcoming them. His eyes suddenly wide open, James span around to see Harry and Sirius, who had not been added to the wards step in, and…
He could almost see the wards pause over the two of them, but with but a narrowing of Harry's eyes – that James only barely perceived as he was looking for something – they carried on and didn't react in a hostile fashion. John, it seemed, had also noticed something unusual, but did not immediately speak of it.
Instead, he gathered hats and coats from the guests and led them to the dining room, where James' parents were waiting for them. There John leaned down to whisper something in their ears, before moving on to the kitchen, likely to tell the elves the guests had arrived and that the food should be served shortly, as redundant as that would be as they surely knew who had arrived just then.
"It is nice to see you again, son, we don't see you often enough, but first, what's this I hear about our wards being… compromised?" Charlus asked, immediately going to what he believed to be the most important topic of the moment. He'd fought against Grindlewald in the previous war, so safety was something he was quite deeply concerned about.
"That would be my doing." Harry spoke up. "Your wards were about to react rather violently to myself and my Sirius, so I simply altered things so they would ignore us."
Charlus narrowed his eyes at him. "Ah, yes, you would be this 'other' Harry we have heard about over the last three months, I presume." Harry nodded his head. "Would you care to explain to me how you so simply and easily altered wards that are many times older than you, and assuredly more complex than anything a Hogwarts student would be capable of affecting?"
"I am a student in title only." Harry replied easily, despite the look Charlus was directing him. "I have gone beyond the limits of what can be classified as human, and stand apart from the common understanding of how simple things, like the laws of magic work."
"'Beyond the limits of humans', did you say?" Dorea sharply interposed herself in the conversation. "I believe I have heard someone else say similar words, claiming to have gone 'beyond the bindings of death forevermore', the current dark lord in fact."
"I would appreciate it if you did not compare me to that nuisance." Harry blandly retorted. "I am aware of the methods he has employed to prevent his death, and I assure you that I meant my statement in a literal manner, not a philosophical one, or due to any perceived superiority."
"Would you care to elaborate about that 'perceived' superiority?" Charlus requested, though his tone made it clear that it wasn't a question.
"It's a literal statement regarding my limitations." Harry told him. "Like a galloping horse is faster than a human, there are factors of my own existence that are simply impossible for humanity to compare to. My lifespan will, eventually, eclipse your species, the amount of power I can generate, and the amount I can channel at any one moment is greater than every thing that currently lives on this planet, or even has ever lived here as well. I can move faster than light, my reactions are as instant as is metaphysically possible, to the point of precognition, and my senses are so expansive as to be called omniscient. I can count the cells of your body from here, and I could do the same if you were in a separate solar system than myself. Though the term wouldn't make sense to you, I could even count the quarks and leptons that make up all matter within this universe."
Throughout his explanation, Harry had drawn himself up and was standing tall, his presence filling the room and showing everyone that he, at the least, believed every word he spoke. It was also clear that he hadn't appreciated being compared to You-Know-Who either.
The tension was ratcheting higher and higher and it was clear that neither Harry nor Charlus was backing down from this. His father had fought against psychos that had made claims similar to Harry's before, each of them proven false when they had been taken down.
Harry, on the other hand, was clearly not happy with the way Charlus was talking about him. The initial way that he'd referred to him as the 'other' Harry, and the tone of voice he'd used had irritated him, and the way he'd spoken as if what he'd done was something he shouldn't have been capable of had also annoyed him, even if in a completely rational world that would be true.
Charlus placed both of his palms flat on the table and rose out of his chair, attempting to assert his dominance over Harry. At the same time, the shadows in the room deepened to a true black that even a void could not match and an unsettling whisper-like sound began to emanate from around Harry as his hair began to pale to white, creepy black marks crawling up his throat and across his face as similar markings crept down his arms and over his hands. An oppressive atmosphere began to weigh down on them, malevolent intent focused specifically on Charlus, but still thick enough that they all could feel it.
This… this was ridiculous. Glancing across at the other Sirius, James saw how relaxed he was, as if this was nothing special, and he was struck by the number of times that they had all been told that Harry was so far beyond Voldemort as to treat him as no more than a nuisance. He hadn't given it much thought, other than to dismiss it, but this casual display of power, and even the intent to carry out a threat, really hit it home.
His father was a strong man, and right now he appeared to be standing against some unknowable darkness, expression grim and unyielding. It was a rather inspirational sight, like something that was telling you not to give up, that there was hope if only everyone stood together against 'evil', or something akin to that.
Harry, however, was cloaked in power like he wore fabric. With no effort at that, like the current miasma emanating from himself was but a trifling matter that he could maintain indefinitely, and was but a small fragment of what he could bring to bear if he truly wished to show his strength.
A few moments passed, the oppressive aura growing stronger second by second until it felt like a literal weight on James' shoulders that had his legs shaking beneath him, and those whispers… he could feel them tugging at his mind, muttering promises of sweet delight, decadence, and death.
The voices alternated between words of lust, desire, and attraction, to mutterings of just how one might die, having their lungs flayed from the inside, their bones vanished and bodies stretched until they tore apart, their tongue enlarged until they choked on it while the lining of their throat was turned to acid that ate through it and dissolved them from within, having a parasite use them as a womb for their young to devour, and the next generation, until they were fully consumed.
It was horrifying.
Eventually, Harry tilted his head to the side and gave Charlus a small smile, almost one of respect.
"You are strong, and stand firm by what you say." The purple-haired boy said, before turning to the Sirius that had come to this world with him. "I believe we should go, we are clearly not particularly welcome here, and I will not bend before another, much less break."
He didn't look particularly happy about how things had gone, but the other Sirius quietly agreed with him, and the two of them left without much fanfare. However, just as Charlus was looking proud of standing his ground against the 'abomination' he saw before him, there was a brief black 'glow' around his left knee, and he collapsed, crashing into the table.
It seemed that while Harry might respect his father's stubbornness, he was also not above childish retribution either.