The Difference

Been wanting to write a multi-chapter story for a while. Don't really know where this is going for now, but I'm playing with some ideas where Sirius raised Harry since third year and survives the war.

AU (Obviously),

Hogwarts starts at sixteen,

Sirius Lives.

1991 – Shrieking Shack

Harry raised his wand, his sweaty hand holding tightly to the piece of wood in his palm. Now was the time to do it, to do what he'd came here to do. Now was the time to avenge the death of his mother and father. He was going to murder the man in front of him. He had to. This was his only chance to kill Sirius Black.

Time seemed to freeze. And Harry stood frozen to the spot, wand still raised, a spell on the tip of his tongue. Sirius Black still looked up at him, his face surprisingly calm considering he hand a wand pointed towards his face.

Hermione and Ron's limp forms behind him, their stunned bodies not making a sound.

"You look so much like your father," Black stated suddenly, his voice rough.

"W-what…" Harry replied, his tone surprised from the sudden words from Black.

Black didn't say anything else, he simply leant back against the dirty and broken wall from his place on the ground – a small smile now forming on his lips.

Harry was about to question Black's statement, but his words died out at the sound of footsteps echoing up into the room.

Someone was coming.

"Who's down there!" Harry shouted, his eyes still trained on Black below him. "Show yourself!"

Black shifted on the spot, his legs now tucked under him; Harry gripped his wand tighter, the wood painfully rubbing against his skin.

'I should just end this now, end his life right now!' Harry thought to himself, but he didn't utter a spell. The footsteps were edging closer now, and Harry still hadn't done anything to take Black's life.

The door of the room burst open, pieces of wood scattering across the floor and Harry took a sudden step back – wanting to distance himself from the intruder. It was Professor Lupin who came marching into the room, his face calm, his wand raised and ready to strike. His eyes quickly darted to the limp forms of Ron and Hermione, to Harry, who had his raised towards Lupin.

"Professor! I-I thought it was someone else-" The rest of Harry's words were cut short by Lupin's next action.

"Expelliarmus!" Lupin shouted out.

Harry's wand flew through the air towards Lupin. Lupin caught it easily, then moved further into the room, starting deeply at the form of Black, who still hadn't moved from his place on the floor, or dropped that ridiculous smile from his face.

Harry stood rooted to the ground, anger and embarrassment suddenly burning inside of him. He should've acted quicker. His nerve had faltered. Black was going to escape his grasp.

'Fuck...' Harry swore internally, his heart thumping against his chest.

Then Lupin spoke, his voice tense and commanding.

"Where is he, Sirius? Where is the rat."

Harry frowned at that. He had no idea what Lupin would want with Ron's rat of all things. Maybe he's talking about something else?

Black still held that smile on his face. For a few silent more seconds, he didn't move at all, he just carried on looking towards Harry. Then, aching slowly, he raised a filthy hand and pointed straight at Ron's form. Extremely confused, Harry looked back and forth between Black and Ron.

"Are you sure?" Lupin questioned, staring at Black deeply as if they were sending silent messages, "…he's been here all along? Right under our noses," Lupin's eyes darted suddenly, looking back at Ron again, as if he was seeing beyond Ron's limp form – something that Harry couldn't see.

Slowly, his gaze never leaving Harry's face, Black nodded.

"Professor," Harry started, "what the fuck are you talking about-"

Harry never got the finish his question, because Lupin lowered his wand – thus making Harry's words die out, his chest suddenly feeling tight. The Professor held his wand at his side as he walked to Black's side, seizing him at elbow, pulled him to his feet, and embraced Black.

'Surely this can't be happening? If only I had my fucking wand…' Harry's throat was growing increasing tight, his knees weak, his head swimming in confusion as he gazed at the two men in front of him.

Lupin had finally released Black. Harry's wand thrusted into Black's palm. Lupin turned then, his gaze now landing on Harry as the two adults turned to face Harry.

"Now. Harry listen, it's very important that-"

"I don't believe this! You've been lying to me all this time!"

"No! You're wrong Harry, if you'll just let me speak for a second," said Lupin, his words coming out in a rush. "I haven't been Sirius's friend, but now that's changed—"

"What's changed? That you're going to stab another Potter in the back as well, huh? Just like your new friend Black!"

Silence followed Harry's words. Lupin's face taking on an image of pain – Black's gaze now trained on the floor, his hands shaking.

"Harry… If you'll just let me speak—" Lupin's voice sounded strained, as if he was choking out the words.

"Id rather you not, if I'm honest. If you're here to kill me, then get it over with." Harry said, his chin lifted defiantly as he held the gaze of now both Black and Lupin.

Lupin didn't say anything after that, his body now turned to Black as the two shared quiet words – words that Harry couldn't hear.

Their conversation was over quickly as the two of them turned back to Harry, Lupin looking apologetic, whilst Black looked humorous.

"Sorry for this, Harry. But it's got to be done, seeing as your as stubborn as your father," Lupin said as both him and Black approached Harry.

This was it. Harry was going to die here. At least now he would meet his parents, spend time with them for an eternity. That sounded nice.

Harry closed his eyes, not wanting to watch the spell bounding towards him.

But no spell came, only the tight grip on Harry's arms as both Black and Lupin hoisted Harry up in the air.

"W-wait! What are you doing?!" Harry shouted out, acceptance of death gone as bewilderment took over.

Harry got his answer through the air being blown out of his body, his body landing heavy on the broken bed as he was thrown onto it. He was at the far end of the room, no longer close to Ron and Hermione.

"Just stay there. Don't move, alright?" Lupin commanded, already turning around with Black at his side.

Harry couldn't reply even if he wanted to, his breath was wheezing out of him as he sat up to get a look at what was going on.

Black and Lupin were now standing over Ron. Lupin knelt down and rolled Ron over on his back, Ron's stunned body turning over revealed Scabbers, who was previously trapped under the heavy dead weight under Ron.

Scabbers didn't have time to move by the time Ron was on his back, Lupin's wand immediately flashing red as the rat fell to the floor.

"What are you doing with Ron's rat?" Harry choked out, his breath returning.

"This—" Lupin poked Scabbers with his wand, "—Is not a rat," Black finished, his voice croaking as the two of them looked down at Scabbers with disdain.

"What? Of course it's a fucking rat—" Irritation getting better of Harry as he replied.

"No, he's not," said Black. "He's a wizard, just like you and me."

"An Animagus," said Lupin, "and his name is Peter Pettigrew." It was as if Lupin spat out the words, as if they'd poisoned his mouth.

Black was looking down at Scabbers, a look in his eyes as if he wanted to crush it under his heel, and that was what he was about to do – Black lifted his foot up, poised to squash the rat beneath him. But Lupin caught on, with a shove, Black was pushed away from Scabbers.

"Sirius! Are you mad! We need to bring him to Dumbledore! To prove your innocence, to do what should've been done years ago," shouted Lupin, an annoyed look on his face.

"Fuck Dumbledore! I want him dead for what he's done. To us. To James. To Harry!" Black was already on the move again, his bare feet moving towards Lupin and Scabbers.

"Can't you see! If we prove your innocent, then you can finally raise Harry. Like you should've been doing for the past eighteen years!" Lupin's words seemed to put an end to Black's ideas as he stopped walking. Black seemed to age in an instant, his shoulders dropping, Harry's wand limp in his hand.

'This day couldn't get any weirder,' Harry thought.

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1997 – Horcrux Hunt

When the day had finally turned to night, it came with a heavy downpour of rain, the already cold nights turning colder and even more dreadful as the night went on. It had already been a long and dangerous journey to find and destroy the last of Voldemort's horcruxes, where a single foot out of line could end up with you and your friend's dead in the ground. Well, friends isn't exactly the correct term anymore – friend being the only thing left on this journey. Ron had left just two days before, the red-haired former friend storming out into the wilderness, the wind howling as he stormed off into the night. Now it was just Harry and Hermione, just the two of them taking on the task of finding and destroying horcruxes.

"Hermione! Don't you see! Harry has no idea what he's doing, he's only going to lead us to our deaths!" Ron had shouted before he left. "We need to leave now, before it's all too late."

"Leave then. I've saw the way you act, Ron. You've been wanting to leave for days now, always scowling at me when you think I'm not looking. Just go already." Harry had sniped back, prompting Ron to argue further – something which didn't end well Ron brought up Harry's parents, that he doesn't have to deal with the burden of family in danger.

He'd known then that Ron was being affected by the Horcrux around his neck, but still, Ron's thoughts and words had been buried inside him, just waiting to be brought out in the open.

So now it was just Harry and Hermione. No progress had been made since Ron left – even the tent hadn't moved an inch. The two of them just couldn't find the energy to carry on for the time being. 'Maybe it's better if we just stay here for a while. Regroup and carry on next week,' he thought, blowing out a tired breath.

Looking down at his palm, Harry started at the Horcrux in his hand. He'd kept it to himself for days, not allowing Hermione to wear it, for fear that she'd go deeper into her turmoil if she went anywhere near the shattered soul in his palm. Slytherin's locket had been a constant company since Ron left. It didn't affect Harry as much as it did Ron, although, it did sometimes give him urges that would normally be well clear of his mind. Urges that would further split this journey into even more pieces.

'It's not like I've not done it before – so why does this urge plague my mind so much,' he thought for merlin knows how many times since he kept hold of it.

Upon closer inspection, the metal in his hands didn't look like your typical locket. For one, it was painfully obvious that it held immense value, the various gems and the prominent green Snake in the middle only proved Harry's point as he held it tighter. He draped the locket back over his neck, the cool metal sitting comfortably around his neck. Harry gazed outside, the dark night and the constant sound of rain pelting the floor was somewhat comforting for the wizard.

He closed his eyes, taking in a deep breathe to bask in the moment of calm, the first in days. The darkness soothed around him as he felt a smile tugging at his lips, it'd been a while since he was able to crack a smile – only in times like these could he allow himself to think, to get his head straight, to think about what to do next-

It was all cut off by the sound of sniffling – a sound which Harry had been hearing for the days since Ron left, a sound which was gradually biting at him. Opening his eyes, Harry held back a groan as he groped at the Locket under his shirt, holding it as an anchor to his sanity.

"She seriously needs to relax more…," Harry said in a low tone.

And something – goading, tempting, sweet thing – whispered in his ear, "Why don't you help her …relax."

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'This isn't how I expected things to go…' Harry thought as he held onto Hermione's waist, their clothes scattered around the tent. The only sound heard inside the tent was the panting breath coming from Hermione as she astride his lap. Harry looked up at the witch above him, her skin flushed and hair wild from their rough joining. 'Maybe Sirius is rubbing off on me a little too much.'

"Harry – that was…," started Hermione, her words coming out in exhausted gasps as she pushed her sweaty hair off her face.

"Brilliant, Hermione," Harry's voice was a low, almost animal growl as he gazed up at the witch above him, his hands still holding onto the shapely waist.

Hermione smiled, an action which Harry hadn't saw in a long time. "Where did you learn all of… that?" Hermione leant forward, her palms smoothing out onto Harry's chest. "Come on, Harry. You can tell me."

"Not going to happen, Granger," Harry replied, one hand moving up to tightly cup Hermione's breast – an action which caused the witch to squeak.

"Hey!" she swatted his hand away, although her face was annoyed, Harry could tell she was holding back her laughter. "I'll tell you anything if you tell me who taught you that trick with your tongue—"

"Alright, alright. Stop already," Harry released his hands from Hermione, his hands sweeping back his damp hair. "I'm still not used to Hermione Granger of all people asking me about my sex life," the two of them shared a quiet laugh at that, Hermione smacking Harry's bare chest as she laughed above him.

Hermione tilted her head, throwing Harry a lock as if to say, "Well, get on with it."

"…I guess it all started back in—" Harry's words were cut off by the abrupt sound of twigs crunching under a heel. It sounded as if someone was approaching the tent, a sound which froze Harry and Hermione in their places.

"Hermione!" Harry hissed in a low tone, "We should move—" But it was too late, the sound came closer to the tent, the sound cutting off as the intruder stepped into the tent. The intruder being Ron Weasley.

Ron was back.

Ron's face held a guilty look, as if he was ready to apologise any second – but that look was quickly lost as he stared at Harry and Hermione, their naked bodies still skin to skin.

"Ron…" Harry began to speak whilst unconsciously reaching for his wand.

Ron didn't seem to hear Harry speak, his eyes still glued to the two of them as he seemed to be stunned.

Finally getting hold of his wand, Harry pried Hermione off him – the witch seemingly stunned in place as much as Ron. Forgoing his shirt, Harry shimmied on his trousers and took a good look at Ron.

"It's not what it looks like, ok? We were just, you know, comforting ourselves…," probably not the best thing to say as Ron seemed to leave his daze as he too now had his wand in his hand.

"Comforting ourselves!?" Ron hissed, his voice echoing around the silent tent, his pale face now burning red as he gripped his wand tighter.

'Alright, Potter. Probably the worst thing you've ever said to someone,' Harry noticed that Ron's wand-hand was shaking, most likely in contained rage as he watched Ron's eyes drift over to Hermione, her naked body now covered completely by the bed sheet.

Silence followed as the two wizards stared at each other, Harry hoping that it wouldn't lead to the inevitable, it seemed to last an eternity as the rain pattered against the roof the tent.

But it did lead to the inevitable as Ron raised his wand in a flash, a simple cutting curse leaving the tip of the wand as Harry quickly side-stepped out of the way. Looking over his shoulder, Harry felt a chill run down his spine as he stared at the damage of the curse, the impact of the curse left wide slashes on the tent wall, exposing it to the outside forest.

'Well… I didn't see that coming,' Harry turned back to Ron and raised his own wand…

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1998 - Hogwarts

Lightly prodding the body beneath him, Harry finally felt the heavy weight on his shoulders lift. It was a feeling that he thought he'd feel, a feeling of freedom, a freedom that allowed him to breathe freely.

Wiping blood from his brow, Harry raised his head to gaze around him, eyeing the multiple casualties from both sides. Death Eaters and Hogwarts students scattered around the great hall as the battle came to a climactic end. 'Well, climatic isn't the best word for it – boring being the better word.'

Lord Voldemort laid dead beneath him, his typical sickly skin had turned a deathly shade of light purple – a colour which signified what Harry had done to him, the simple act of fighting like muggles in the event of the two wizards losing their wands in an explosion. The scuffle came to an abrupt end when Harry tackled Voldemort to the floor, Voldemort, so used to the idea of fighting with a wand, and sneering at the thought of fighting like a muggle, wasn't prepared to have his wind pipe crushed.

It was the simple killing act of strangulation which caused the dead of Voldemort, Harry's vice-like grip around Voldemort's neck as the grown-man clawed at Harry's arms in an attempt to free himself – but it was futile as Harry brought the end to his life with the simple act of choking him to death.

'Of all the things to kill Voldemort, it had to be strangling the bastard. Sirius would probably be laughing right now, if he was here,' Harry laughed to himself, coughing slightly as his body twitched in pain.

Survivors trickled into the hall, all equally looking like they'd been through hell as each one looked at the dead body beneath Harry. It was the teachers who mostly stared the most, all looking surprised that such a powerful wizard was dead, a wizard which had been terrorizing wizarding Britain for decades.

They all seemed equally surprised, really, no one uttering a sound as they looked to and from Harry's haggard appearance and Voldemort's corpse.

"Is he dead?" Someone shouted from the back of growing number of students.

'Of course he's dead you pillock,' Harry wanted to shout back.

"Yes," Harry grit out, bringing an arm to his ribs, rubbing away at the growing pain.

Harry's words brought confirmation to everyone as the survivors all seemed to sag in relief, some cheered, others sat down in exhaustion, most cried, but they all had grim looks on their faces – a look which Harry knew all too well. Still looking at the group around him, Harry noticed the remaining Weasley family, they all looked relieved as well – their battered and bruised appearances bringing no hinderance as they held each other.

'At least they survived, good, that's good,' continuing to look at the red-haired family, Harry noticed both Ron and Hermione further behind – the two former-friends locked in a tight embrace. Without him.

Ever since Ron had returned to the tent that night, things hadn't exactly gone well. Fighting obviously happened, which resulted in both Harry and Ron bloodied and bruised. But the journey still continued, albeit a lot less quiet and eventful between the trio – Hermione seemed to distance herself from Harry, her guilt getting the better of her as she patched up old wounds with Ron – Ron just flat out ignoring Harry, which suited Harry just fine.

Everyone around Harry seemed to have someone to lean on, someone to share their pain with. But Harry, he stood alone as he watched those around him, it left a deep pang in his chest as looked at everyone else. He needed to find Sirius, to find his godfather, his only form of real family left.

'Sirius, where the fuck are you,' Harry thought, his mind whirling in situations that he could stumble on the corpse of his godfather.

Shaking his head, Harry walked through the crowd, ignoring the stares at his back as he made his way towards the exit. He needed to find Sirius.

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1998 – Grimmauld Palace

The early afternoon sun blazes down on his head, a surprise really considering its nearly September.

He probably should've came home earlier. He shouldn't have stayed out for one more drink, or the many more that followed quickly after.

Harry makes his way up to the door, reaching out half-drunkenly for the golden knocker and slamming it into the door with a bit too much strength into it. Already he can spot the Muggle neighbours craning their heads out of their windows to scowl at him for making such a ruckus.

The big black wooden door flies open almost before he thinks on kicking the door instead, and Harry is met with the sight of his Godfather, looking up at him with a slightly amused smile, but with hints of concern.

"Finally decided to come home, have you?" Sirius questions, using the same tone he'd saw him use on curious children in Diagon Alley. "Did you forget your wand as well?"

Harry drunkenly pats his jean pockets, then his jacket, until finally giving up as he remembers that he had indeed left his wand behind at home. "Alright, I give up. Just let me in already."

Sirius didn't budge for a little while, he simply eyed Harry from head to toe before stepping aside, all traces of concern now gone as he laughed openly. "Who did you go out with then? Those University students I'm guessing?"

Harry steps through the door and walks through, being careful not the trip on the last step as he's done many times in past drunken states. "You guessed right," Harry replied, already kicking off his boots and shimmying out of his leather jacket – the smell of alcohol and cigarettes clinging to his clothes. "Weren't even out for that long, bloody bints dragged me off to their Campus."

"Oh, really? How'd that go then," Harry can already tell what Sirius is hinting at by the time he makes his way into the kitchen, Sirius chuckling right behind him.

"Stuff it," Harry throws back, already at the fridge to pick-out his makeshift breakfast. In the afternoon.

Sirius simply hums in reply, muttering something along the lines of, "James," and "Proud."

Turning to face Sirius again, Harry watches as his Godfather scribbles on various pieces of parchment – the Black family crest evident on each piece.

'Always working…,' rolling his eyes, Harry returns to stuffing his mouth – with anything edible nearby. Letting his mind drift off, Harry leant against the kitchen counter.

It'd been like this since Sirius had entered his life in third year, the first proper adult figure in his life that he could finally call family. The years passed, each one becoming more and more grim and dangerous – but outside of Hogwarts, Harry actually lived like a normal teenager on the cusp on becoming a grown man, which was something Harry took in his stride – an act which greatly reminded Sirius of James Potter, how Harry grew into the resemblance of his father, in all aspects. Gone was the awkward gangly eighteen-year-old, the mess of hair, the lack of confidence, and the lack of experience with a wand – all was removed with the years Sirius had been in his life. Physical appearance came first with Sirius, something which he always reminded him on about his mischief at Hogwarts – "Just look at you, the look of your father, and the rugged style of myself. Now that is rather potent mix if I do say so," Sirius had once said to him, his words still echoing in head to this day.

'I'm really hungry…,' Harry suddenly thought, his stomach aching for attention—

"I do hope you haven't forgotten about tomorrow," Sirius suddenly called out, drawing Harry's focus back to him.

"Tomorrow?" Harry echoed, his mind blank.

"Hogwarts, Harry. It's your final year – after this you have to start working like the rest of us," even from his space by the counter, Harry easily noticed the smug smile on his Godfathers lips.

Groaning aloud, Harry ran a hand through his hair. "Thanks for reminding me."

"Seeing as you've just came to realization, I suggest you go sleep off your hangover," Sirius replied, "oh, and shower too. I can smell you from here," lifting his head and a hand, Sirius waved Harry out of the kitchen.

Grumbling under his breath, Harry retreated from the kitchen, throwing Sirius an annoyed look as he left – much to his humour as he could hear the laughter echoing behind him...

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