Chapter 4: Truth Potions & Identities Confirmed
Harry watched closely as the lookalikes opened their eyes. Once again, Hermione and Ron were in the background, watching silently. Harry moved back until he was standing between them. He did not want to be close to the imposters, did not want to feel anything towards them because of the faces they wore. Still, he couldn't look away from them.
"Are you okay, Harry?" Hermione asked, placing a hand on his shoulder. Harry shook his head, feeling drained.
"This is unreal." His voice was low and his body was shaking. It was terrifying how quickly all his anger and hate had disappeared, leaving Harry feeling cold and numb. Somewhere deep in his brain, Harry was still upset. He could still feel lingering traces of his rage swirling in his clenched stomach but those traces were so faint, they might as well not existed. Seeing his parents alive and breathing, even if they weren't his real parents, had shook him to his very core. It was like he was suddenly knocked out of his body and was stuck somewhere between dream and reality.
Hermione opened her mouth to say something, probably some soothing words that would bring Harry back to reality and put everything in perspective, but before she could speak, Remus started the interrogation.
"Open your mouths," he instructed with a commanding voice Harry rarely heard. In his eyes was everything Harry had felt before. There was a combination of fiery anger and freezing indifference, pulled together with hard determination — a mixture that created a side of Remus that wasn't used very often.
"What's going on?" asked the James duplicate. He looked around, bug-eyed with clear fear and confusion written on his face. His rectangular glasses were crooked, leaving Harry with a disgusting urge to straighten them. Harry quickly decided that these Death Eaters were good actors. He could not let them trick him.
"I said, open your mouths!" This time Remus's wand was pressed directly between the James duplicate's eyes as he made his demand. The copy's eyes widened but he opened his mouth and so did the copy of Lily. Remus used the dropper to place three drops of Veritaserum down their throats and Harry found himself leaning forward in anticipation.
It was obvious when the potion took affect. Their faces went slack and their eyes clouded over, their lips slightly parted. Suddenly, they weren't Death Eaters masquerading as Harry's parents. No, they were empty shells, how his parents' corpses should look. Harry just wanted them to close their eyes and lay down in a casket that he could place back in the ground. Then everything would be right with the world and he could focus on getting the locket horcrux from Umbridge.
Remus looked over his shoulder, his eyes asking if Harry was okay. Harry shoved his hands into his pocket and nodded stiffly, reveling in the sturdy presence of Ron and the comforting hand on his arm that belonged to Hermione. No, he was not okay but he could survive this.
Remus let out a heavy sigh and then turned to face the imposters. Then he began.
"What are your names?"
They bother answered at the same, a ball of words that the three teenagers and one adults couldn't decipher. Still, Harry's muscles tensed. There were ways to get around Veritaserum and on the off chance that these Death Eaters knew how to, Harry had to be prepared for the impossible answers.
"One at a time," Remus growled. A thick coating of frustration layered his words and Harry felt a strange mix of admiration and jealousy bubble in his stomach. At that moment, with fire in his eyes and a threat in his voice, Remus looked strong. He held a sense of authority that would rival any Auror and an air of power that Harry wanted to possess. On the sidelines with his shoulders slumped and his muscles tensed, Harry could only imagine how weak and — Merlin forbid — afraid he must look right now. Harry sucked in a deep breathe and took a step forward.
"James Fleamont Potter."
"Lily Mae Evans-Potter."
Harry stepped back.
A chorus of gasps filled the air but Harry wasn't apart of it. An icy chill had settled in his bones. Occlumency and Anti-Veritaserum Potion reverses the effects of Veritaserum. They could be using either one of those methods to lie, Harry rationalized. After all, that had to be the answer! His parents were dead and nothing could bring them back!
To Harry's surprise, Remus continued as if nothing was out of the ordinary. Only the clench of his fists showed that something was wrong.
"How old are you?"
"How old is your son?"
"One years old," "James" said while "Lily" replied with a more precise, "One and three months." Then a look of confusion passed over their faces before "Lily" changed her answer to, "Two years and 3 days old." James nodded in agreement and then they went back to their mindless states.
Remus went silent, a pensive look on his face as he stared at the ground.
"This is a bunch of bollocks!" Ron spat, an incredulous look on his face accompanied with red cheels and a furious spark in his eyes. Harry gulped, trying to moisten his dry mouth and throat. That last answer just didn't make sense. When his parents died he was one year and three months old so it would make sense for Death Eaters to use that answer. So why change it to two years and three days?
Remus put up a hand to silence Ron's angry spluttering, looking up from the ground and towards the duo tied up in front of him. "What day is it?"
"August 3rd," the Lily copy answered.
"Of what year?"
"That doesn't make any sense! They're Death Eaters, let's just get rid of them!" Ron shouted, his wand in his hand.
"Get rid of them how? Kill them?" Remus asked, eyeing the copies of Harry's parents. Harry shivered at the idea of killing them. Merlin, he wanted to so bad but did he have the ability? Never had he killed a Death Eater, but what else would they do with them? Apparently, no one knew since no one tried to answer Remus' question.
A long stretch of silence left Harry feeling awkward before Ron spoke again. "Well, at least get some useful information out of them! 'How old are you?' 'How old is your son?' You're interrogating them as if they're actually Harry's parents!"
"I'm not convinced that they're not the actual James and Lily Potter," Remus muttered.
"It's impossible for them to be," Hermione piped in. Remus squeezed his eyes shut and gave out a low growl.
"I know that! I know but, they haven't said anything that would imply that this was all a trick. They got the date right, but the year is off by 15 years — that makes sense! If they were to magically wake up after being dead for 16 years and asked someone what they date was, they would be told the month and day, not the year, right? Because why wouldn't they already know the year? And since it was already October when they died, it would only be logical that they would assume the year was 1982, right? It makes sense!"
"Remus... You know this just your desire to have James and Lily back talking. You know that logically, it's impossible that James and Lily came back from the dead and that it's possible for people to get around the truth serum. They probably had the same though process as you and that's why they said August 3rd, 1982 and that's why they had to correct themselves about what age Harry would've been." Hermione spoke with a patient, gentle tone that Harry had been the recipient of many times. Even when it was aimed at him, it soothed Harry to hear her talk that way.
"I know... but it wouldn't be the first time the Potters did the impossible with death."
Harry could feel their stares on the back of his neck, although he couldn't see them. After the last question, Harry had left his friends side and flopped onto the old couch pushed against the wall. Now his face was buried in the cushion, despite the dust tickling his nose and irritating his eyes. Harry didn't mind it; he would gladly throw himself in all the dust in the world if he didn't have to deal with this situation.
"Ask them a question, then," Hermione suggested. "Something only the real James and Lily would know the answer to. If they get it right, then we'll accept that it's actually them."
Harry smiled to himself as Ron gave a "this is pointless" grunt. Harry didn't know what to feel at this point, but it warmed to his heart to hear Hermione trying to help Remus through his... denial? Was that the word for it? Either way, it reminded Harry so much of the day Sirius died. Hermione knew better than he did and she tried to stop him from going to the Ministry of Magic, the same way she was trying to talk Remus out of the idea that these fakers were the real James and Lily. Harry had been stubborn but Hermione still stuck with him and even rode a Thestral despite her hatred for flying. Now it was Remus' turn to be stubborn and, just as she'd done with Harry, Hermione was sticking with the hopeful man, giving him a suggestion that should knock the sense back into him when it failed. Hermione was always patient with Harry and it would only make sense that her patience extended to others as well.
"Okay," Remus said, so much hope dripping off the one word that it was almost painful. "What's something only they would know?" He was muttering to himself but Hermione still took it as an opportunity to pipe in once more.
"You should probably ask each of them two questions, just to be sure. One easy, one hard." Remus bobbed his head in agreement, an action Harry caught as he sat up and watched Remus pace the room. Hermione made eye contact with Harry before crossing over and plopping down next to him.
"Everything is still unreal?" Hermione asked, placing her head into her palm with an exhausted grin on her face.
"Oh, yeah. I mean, imagine if they're my actual parents!"
"Harry..." Her grin was replaced with a frown.
"I know, I know. It's impossible. But if they were... I don't think I'd be able to handle it."
"What do you mean?"
"There is just so much going on, right now. We're on the run, Voldemort is in his prime, and I'm probably going to have to do something really dangerous to get that pendant from Umbridge. The dead coming back to life would just be too much!" Harry grabbed his hair in frustration. A couple of years ago, he would've been thrilled at the idea of having his parents back. Maybe in a year or two the idea will thrill him again. But right now it was not a good time; especially when war was officially beginning and his parents could easily be killed once more.
"I get it Harry, we have a lot on our plate." Harry noted that she used plural terms. "We" and "our" instead of "you" and "your". "But if your parents were to come back, I think it would nice to have some adults help us with all this."
"Hermione, if by some miracle that defies all logic and turns everything we know on it's head brings my parents back, I'm keeping them as far away from this war as possible. They've already been taken away from me once and I won't risk them being killed a second time."
"I don't think you'll have a choice in that. They're going to want to fight."
"I'll tie them up if I have to!" Harry exclaimed with more conviction than he felt.
Hermione gave a tiny giggle, tainted with a sadness Harry didn't understand. She leaned against Harry, her hands wrapped around his arm like it was an anchor and she was a boat, drifting away. "Trust me, Harry, I know what you're feeling. I understand wanting to protect your parents no matter what. But your parents are fighters. They were apart of the Order and they defied Voldemort three times! They're going to realize that you're seventeen and that they missed 16 years of your life and that it's all Voldemort's fault. They're going to want to fight and they're not going to let you stop them." Hermione paused. "If anything, they'll try to stop you."
Harry looked at Hermione. She had a weird look on her face, somewhere between a grin and a grimace. "Well, I guess it's a good thing that they're never coming back."
Harry turned back to watch Remus pace, still thinking of questions to ask. Ron was looking at them, his lips pinched together and his fist clenched at his sides. Harry sighed before gesturing him over with his head. Ron quickly crossed the room and plopped down next to Hermione, sitting a bit closer to the girl than necessary. Hermione turned and smiled at him.
"I got it!" Remus finally exclaimed, capturing the attention of the three teenagers. "Okay, first the easy questions." He looked at the teens, almost as if waiting for their approval before he began. Hermione nodded eagerly, Harry leaned forward in his seat, and Ron still looked as if he thought of all this was a waste of time. With a deep breath, Remus asked his first question. "James, how did you become Head Boy?"
"Remus gave up the position because of his condition. He said that I should become Head Boy instead and that I'd matured and could handle the responsibility. Dumbledore agreed but McGonagall wasn't so sure."
"Is that true?" Harry asked the second the man was done talking. Remus nodded.
"Only James, Dumbledore, McGonagall, and I knew that. James didn't want anybody to know that he wasn't first choice for the position; he thought Lily wouldn't be as impressed if she knew. It was also funny watching Sirius and Snape try to figure out how James of all people got be Head Boy." A fond smile was on Remus' face as he spoke but Harry's heart was pounding.
"Okay, next question."
"Lily, what was our secret in third year?"
"We were tutoring each other. You helped me in Charms and I helped you in Transfigurations."
"What type of secret is that?" Ron sputtered. Harry had to agree; he was expecting something a bit more unbelievable. Tutoring? Why keep that a secret?
"Well, when you're considered two of the smartest kids in your year, it's a bit embarrassing to admit you need extra help outside of class. Not to mention Lily didn't want anyone to know that she was getting him from a Marauder." Ah, that made sense. Out of the corner of his eye, Harry glanced at Hermione. Had she ever needed secret tutoring?
"Well, that's two out of four. Ready for the hard questions?" Remus nodded. The anticipation and hope was now radiating off of him, seeping through his pores, making the room a little bit brighter. Harry couldn't understand why he didn't share what Remus felt. All he could feel was dread: dread that these weren't his parents and they had two very good and possibly deadly Death Eaters in their hands; dread that these were his parents and everything he knew would be thrown out the window.
"Okay, James. What happened the summer of 6th year?" Harry's face scrunched up. Surely the question should be more specific, right? Or perhaps it was better to have the question be as vague as possibly, increasing the chance of the answer being incorrect? Harry opened his mouth to voice these concerns but James beat him to it.
"Remus' father snapped and kicked him out of the house for being a werewolf. Remus came to my house in tears and asked to stay the night but my mom managed to convince him that he could live with us..." Suddenly, James lurched forward and his voice became slurred. The Veritaserum was wearing off. "Me and Sirius confronted his dad... Peter came over often, too... Summer of Marauders."
No one asked if James was correct; time was running out and one more question needed to be asked. Not to mention that, although he had sobered a bit at the mention of his father, it was obvious that James had gotten his hard question right. And that meant...
"Lily, who—" Remus paused. He looked at the kids. He looked at James. He bit his lip and then ducked down, whispering the question into Lily's ear. Harry leaned forward more, his curiosity piqued, but he couldn't hear what it was.
"Sirius Black," Lily answered. A troubled look crossed her features, the look of guilt and something else. "It was a mistake... I swear, I..." Then she stopped. Her back straightened and her eyes cleared. The slackness of her face morphed into confusion.
The Veritaserum had worn off.
Harry stunned them again.
His wand trembled in his hand but his aim was perfect. Eyes turned to look at him but nobody said anything. There was nothing to say, nothing to do.
Even without knowing the question there was no doubt that Lily had answered correctly. Remus' face was too bright for the answer to be anything but right. And that meant the unconscious duo before them had aced every question. They knew things only the real James and Lily would know. They knew how his father got to be Head Boy, they knew that Remus and Lily tutored each other, they knew that Remus' father kicked him out, and they knew whatever his mother had done by mistake to or with Sirius.
So they had to be the real James and Lily. Hermione had said it herself: if they got every question right they would have to accept that James and Lily had miraculous come back to life. And they did get every question right so those were his parents, right.
They were his parents and they sat in front of him, alive and breathing.
It was everything Harry ever wanted. His prayers? Answered. His dreams? A reality. Right there in front of him was the impossible and yet the impossible was real and the laws of life were broken. The Potters had once again defied death. The Boy-Who-Lived and the Parents-That-Returned.
It was all too much.
Without a word or a warning, Harry stood. He looked around, his chest burning as his world spun and his reality flipped. Then he ran. He ran out of the cottage and into the woods. He ran past fairies and centaurs and tiny Bowtruckles. He ran until the world came into sharp focus and his lungs burned. He ran until he couldn't run anymore and fell to his knees.
Then, he pushed himself to his feet and he apparated away.
A/N: To anonymous: I actually started this fic because there's not enough resurrection stories with HHr as a pairing. Also, I do not plan on bashing any characters. I do, however, plan to portray each character realistically. That means Ron and Ginny, especially Ron, getting upset about Harry and Hermione being bonded even if it was by accident. That means Harry telling Lily about how Snape treated him and all other Slytherins and Lily tearing Snape a new one. It means all of them questioning Dumbledore's motives — parents being upset about Dumbledore hiding things from Harry and wondering about the things he did such as taking James' cloak despite not needing a cloak to be invisible. If you consider any of this bashing and you don't like that, turn away now but that's what I plan and I think it's remaining true to the characters.
Finally, I am so so so so so so sorry for the long wait between updates. Two weeks of internet problems + writer's block (I hate this chapter, tbh. Except for the ending.) = slow updates.