TITLE: Double Back
DISCLAIMER: All things Harry Potter belong J K Rowling... basically, if you recognise it, it isn't mine... Please don't sic the Aurors on me, I'm just here for the fun.
AN: Minor text taken from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling.
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Highlands of Scotland
Charms class had very quickly risen to become Hermione's favourite class at the school. She'd thrown herself into it after taking on board what Professor Potter had said, and listening to both Daphne and Tracey confirm that charms was the basis for learning about enchanting later on.
The gift of that communicating mirror for her birthday had entranced her from the first time she'd used it, and she'd resolved herself that very same night to learning everything she could about enchanting so she'd be able to create things like that on her own.
This dedication had grown over the weeks leading to the end of October, when Harry and Susan had confirmed that charms was their favourite class too, giving the three of them something more to have in common and an interest for them to all practice and share together.
Every class now she'd taken to sharing a desk with Daphne, Neville and Tracey, an act that hadn't gone over too well with the rest of the people in Gryffindor house to start with, but as Harry Potter was part of their group as well and had been sitting with them regularly at lunch and dinner times, they hadn't said much aside from the usual idiots mouthing off and trying to bully her, acts that she was already very used to sadly enough.
Having friends was turning out to be a very enjoyable experience for her, and while she didn't share much in common with Tracey, they'd found a few things they could talk about and share, with Tracey being firmly interested in learning what sort of makeup and things muggles used in comparison to magical makeup, though Daphne was easily more like her when it came to a more studious nature, though in Daphne's case it reared it's head in her ambitious nature, rather than Hermione's quieter and more reserved processes.
So in partnering up lessons like today's charms class, she'd happily partnered with Daphne, while Tracey had partnered with Neville, helping the shy boy come out of his shell a bit more each time.
"Now, don't forget your wand movements."
Hermione smiled across to Daphne as she nodded back, while none of them had actually learnt the levitation charm before, the wand movements were surprisingly easy compared to some of the other ones that they'd all learnt with Harry and Susan.
"Switch and a flick, remember, swish and a flick." Professor Flitwick informed everyone from his podium at the front of the class. "And saying the magic words is equally important. Never forget Wizard Baruffio, who said 's' instead of 'f' and found himself on the floor with a buffalo on his chest."
Hermione raised an eyebrow at that, looking at Daphne for confirmation who looked just as confused as she did. Mixing up 's' and 'f' in Wingardium Leviosa didn't make much sense whatsoever, and why would it conjure a buffalo?
She watched first as Daphne tried it, her feather bouncing up and dancing around on the desk but not really levitating anywhere before she tried it for herself.
"Wingardium Leviosa!" Hermione announced, putting as much will as she could focus on into the incantation as she performed the practised 'swish and a flick' motion that Professor Flitwick had been guiding them through all lesson.
She couldn't help the grin that spread across her face as he feather floated up into the air, following her wand as she slowly pointed it upwards, moving the feather up to float just above her and Daphne's heads.
"Oh, well done!" Professor Flitwick beamed from his podium. "Everyone see here, Miss Granger's done it!"
Hermione couldn't help the blush that flushed her cheeks as she realised everyone in the classroom was staring at her, causing her concentration to lapse and the feather to float back down to the desk, swaying from side to side in the air before it dropped onto the desk in front of her.
She didn't need to turn around to recognised the snarled comment, after two months in Gryffindor she was more than accustomed to Ronald Weasley's annoying voice and irritating comments by now.
"Ignore him," Daphne commented, shaking her head towards Hermione. "He's just jealous that you're doing better than he is in every class we've got."
Giving Daphne a half smile she focused on her spell again, wanting to practice and get this right. It was the same advice people always gave her, ignore the bullies, don't let them get to you, they're just words... It was always the same advice, and always spoken by people who'd never been bullied before. People who'd never been pushed around or looked down on because of their bushy hair or bucked teeth.
Sitting next to Daphne and Tracey each lesson was nice enough, and having friends made her feel like she finally fit in with everyone else, but she couldn't help but feel somewhat inadequate against girls like Daphne, who were inches taller than her, with perfect hair that was a few shades too light to even be called blonde, and perfect blue eyes.
Compared to that, she only had unmanageable and messy hair that refused to be tied back or tamed by anything short of a miracle, muddy brown eyes and teeth that had been compared to a beaver by so many people that she was starting to believe it herself.
Focusing on practising the levitating spell she did her best to put her self doubts out of her mind. It wasn't as if she actually cared what other people thought of her, she was just sick of bullies and them throwing it in her face all the time. She had friends now, people that didn't make fun of her hair or her teeth or because she was short. Friends that had fun spending time with her, friends that had actually thrown a surprise birthday party for her.
Putting Ronald Weasley and his comments out of her mind, she forced a smile on her face as she continued practising. She was going to master every single charm there was, and prove to Professor Potter that his faith in her wasn't misplaced at all.
The class passed thankfully without any further comments from the moronic Gryffindor thankfully, giving Hermione time to help Daphne, Tracey and Neville with their casting of the charm, and soon enough all three of them had managed it and had feathers floating around their desks.
"We've got to get some of the second year charms books!" Hermione grinned eagerly, walking alongside Daphne as they left the charms classroom with Neville and Tracey walking alongside them. "I bet there's absolutely loads of stuff in there that we could learn, and we'd be even more prepared for our second year!"
"We should probably work on learning all the first..." Daphne cut off as she was forcibly elbowed to the side, Hermione being pushed aside to the other side of the corridor as well as Ronald Weasley barged his way between and came to stand in front of them.
"You're just a show off, think you're better than everyone else! It's no wonder you've only got a squib and filthy snakes for friends!" Ronald spat out, glaring down at her with a flushed face and red ears. "She's a nightmare, honestly!" He raised his voice, speaking to the Dean who was trying to edge away from him without being noticed. "I don't even know how she got to come here!"
"You're just jealous that she's a better witch than you'll ever be!" Tracey shot back, standing side by side with Hermione as she righted herself in the corridor.
"Jealous? Of her?" Ronald practically spat out, his ears going bright red. "Like I'd ever be jealous of someone that hangs around with filthy snakes!" He argued back. "You're a disgrace to Gryffindor!" He glared down at Hermione. "Not like a squib could even be more of a disgrace though." He sneered over looking at Neville now.
"Just leave her alone." Daphne said firmly, stepping to stand next to Hermione, sandwiching her between her and Tracey.
"Like I'm going to listen to you Greengrass, you're just a dirty snake anyway!" Ronald shouted back.
Daphne narrowed her eyes at that, making her decision then and there. "It's not Greengrass. It's Potter." She said firmly, biting out the words.
"You'd never be a Potter, Harry Potter wouldn't even look at a snake for a girlfriend." Ronald almost laughed.
"Not Harry, Professor Potter." Daphne clarified with a small grin of glee on her face as Ronald Weasley faltered. "He'd in a betrothal with my mother right now." She explained, watching as quite a few of the Gryffindors that had gathered around turned to each other and started whispering about this information. "And Hermione is a good friend of his, and mine." She said the last.
"Why would James Potter ever be friends with someone like her?" Ronald sneered down, not believing the Slytherin girl in the slightest.
"Because unlike some people, I actually want to do well at school and learn everything I can." Hermione spoke up for the first time. "Do you think Professor Potter got that good at magic without learning everything he can about it? Without putting all the hard work into it?" She argued back. "I'll bet at school he did his best in every single lesson. Unlike some people!" She bit out, glaring up to Ronald.
"You're just a filthy snake lover, and a liar! James Potter would never be friends with you, or with snakes!" Ronald shouted back. "You're a disgrace to Gryffindor, and I'm going to make sure everyone knows it!" He shouted before he stormed off, leaving the corridor full of whispering from both the Gryffindors and Slytherins that had been gathered around to watch the confrontation.
"He really is an idiot." Daphne muttered, shaking his head.
"Why is he even arguing with me like that anyway?" Hermione huffed, a bit bewildered at the feeling that not only did she have friends, but friends that were willing to stand up for her against bullies like that as well.
"Because he's an idiot that hates seeing anyone do better than him," Tracey explained with a shrug.
"That does explain it," Daphne nodded in agreement before sighing in annoyance. "We should probably find Professor Potter." She said with a small grimace.
"Why?" Hermione cocked her head to the side as she looked at Daphne now. It wasn't like any of them were really in trouble, and aside from Ron being an idiot, she didn't want to be known as a tattle tale on top of everything else, she knew from experience that that sort of thing just made things worse.
"Because I just outed my mum and Professor Potter, and I don't even know if he wants anyone else to know about it right now." Daphne explained with a wince as she realised what she'd done.
"Oh, right." Hermione nodded quickly at that. "Was... was it supposed to be a secret?" She asked curiously, still not really understanding how that particular relationship was supposed to work.
"I don't think so," Daphne frowned thoughtfully. "Mum never said so, and Professor Potter didn't say not to say anything, but since they haven't said anything either and haven't made an official announcement yet..."
"I get it," Hermione nodded back. "He's probably in the defence classroom or his office." She said, knowing automatically where the Professor would be. "We should try and talk to him before the next lesson starts."
"You're really going to be a Potter?" Tracey asked, moving around to talk to Daphne as the three girls led the way towards the main staircase down to the third floor corridor, with Neville following behind quietly.
"Definitely," Daphne nodded with certainty. She'd been considering the pros and cons of it for weeks now, and the benefits definitely outweighed any negative connotations that would spread in Slytherin house because of the name. Those negatives had mostly been neutered anyway, thanks to Professor Vector who didn't take any nonsense going on in Slytherin, and had already docked a record breaking number of points from the bullies in their house.
"That's going to be so weird," Tracey commented, shaking her head as she tried to say Daphne Potter in her head without it sounding too strange. "How long have your mum and Professor Potter been..."
"Together?" Daphne cocked her head to the side as she considered it. "We were told about it just after we started school." She said thoughtfully. "So about two months?" She said with a nod to herself.
"Wow, Professor Potter kept that secret all that time?" Tracey grinned back. "I heard that people were saying he was dating his apprentice. You know, the metamorph?" She said with a laugh.
"She'd be far too young for him," Hermione shook her head quickly at that. "She's only just finished school. Professor Potter is... what?" She frowned as she tried to calculate how old Professor Potter must be.
"He went to school with my dad," Neville spoke up quietly as they reached the third floor corridor stairway. "So... um..." He tried to calculate it from how old he knew his parents were. "Probably thirty three, thirty four, something like that?"
"Hmm, he looks a bit older, almost as old as my parents." Hermione nodded thoughtfully, thinking that Professor Potter must have at least been around the same age as her dad, nearly forty.
"The history books probably have his birthday in them, we can find out there." Daphne suggested. It wasn't important information, but it was something that she should probably know since Professor Potter was going to be her stepfather.
"I'll look it up during dinner." Hermione commented with a mental note to herself to do just that.
"Not tonight," Daphne shook her head. "It's the Halloween feast tonight, oh Merlin... I didn't think..." She exclaimed, stopping mid way through the third floor corridor, causing everyone else to stop and look at her. "The Halloween feast!" She exclaimed, looking at the three confused faces that were staring back at them.
Neville was the first one to get it, blanching when he realised what today actually was before shaking his head. "I don't think Professor Potter will be at the feast." He said quickly.
"Me neither," Daphne said in agreement.
"Why not?" Hermione asked, realising that she was completely out of the loop here.
"Halloween, ten years ago." Daphne explained. "That's when... Vo... Voldemort attacked The Potters." She explained, causing both Hermione and Tracey to gasp in realisation. "That's when Lily Potter was killed." She said in a soft voice.
"No wonder he won't be at the feast tonight," Hermione whispered, feeling sorry for Professor Potter now that she realised the whole school would be celebrating the day that he lost his wife.
"And I just told everyone he was in a relationship with my mother, on the anniversary of his wife's murder!" Daphne whispered in horror, the colour leaving her face as she realised what she'd done. "How can I even tell him I did that?"
"Do you think we should leave him alone today?" Hermione asked in a quiet voice, looking between Daphne and Neville who both seemed to know Professor Potter better than she did.
"Maybe," Neville nodded quickly. "Would you want to speak to anyone on... on the day..." He trailed off, knowing full well that the anniversary of his parent's attack was coming up, and he wouldn't want to speak to anyone on that day either.
"What if we..." Hermione started to ask before she was interrupted.
The group all turned in shock at hearing the new voice, seeing Professor Tonks bouncing as she walked down the corridor towards them. "What you lot doing here? You haven't got lessons with us today?" She asked, flushing her hair green with confusion at seeing the Gryffindor and Slytherin first year friends crowding around the corridor.
"Is... is Professor Potter around?" Daphne asked hesitantly.
"Probably in his office," Nymphadora shrugged casually. "We didn't have anything last period, so I was just doing some marking so I don't have to do it tonight." She explained with a distasteful face. "What'd you need him for?"
"It's... it's private?" Daphne half-asked. "I didn't know if he'd be here or not."
"As far as I know he is," Nymphadora tapped her cheek thoughtfully. "I'm covering last period for him, but he didn't say anything about leaving any earlier than that though."
"Where's he going?" Hermione asked without thinking, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"Didn't say," Nymphadora shrugged. "But Professor McGonagall seemed fine with him and Harry missing the feast, so I figure he cleared everything with her first." She explained.
"He's taking Harry with him?" Daphne asked before frowning at herself. "Stupid, of course he is. They'd want to do something together tonight, as family."
"Probably visiting Lily Potter's grave," Hermione suggested in a quiet voice.
"Yeah," Neville nodded in agreement, a solemn look on his face as he considered that.
"I didn't think!" Nymphadora muttered, her face turning completely white as she realised what the kids were saying. "No wonder he's been off today."
"Off?" Daphne asked, worrying that Professor Potter was already in a bad mood today when she'd be adding more problems to it.
"Just kind of edgy you know?" Nymphadora explained. "Like he had Professor McGonagall check the castle wards, twice. Even asking about trolls and making sure they were kept out for some reason."
"Trolls?" Hermione asked, wrinkling her nose as she tried to think about why Professor Potter would be worrying about trolls of all things.
"We should probably leave it for today," Neville said quietly. "We can talk to him tomorrow morning if we need to."
Daphne sighed at that but nodded in agreement. On the one hand, she should really confess to Professor Potter what she'd done as soon as she could, but on the other hand, talking to him about something like this on the anniversary of his wife's death was tasteless at best.
"Want me to pass on a message or anything?" Nymphadora asked, curious about what the four were talking about now.
"We'll be fine," Daphne shook her head quickly at that. This wasn't the sort of thing that should be passed through messages.
"Thanks Professor Tonks." Hermione said with a quick smile over to the youngest Professor as her and Daphne started heading away from the corridor, walking quickly with Neville and Tracey hurrying to keep up with them.
"How... how do you think Harry is?" Hermione asked quietly as the four of them started walking down to the main stairway and down to the great hall area of the castle.
"It's probably going to be a bad day for him," Neville said softly, feeling sorry for his friend right now. "No wonder he's going to miss the feast tonight."
"I don't blame him for missing it," Daphne sighed. "I wouldn't want to celebrate tonight either."
It was late in the day when James and Harry appeared on the outskirts of Godric's Hollow with a soft crack, James wrapping his coat around him while Harry huddled into the black cloak he'd been given for tonight.
It felt weird being out of school and missing their final lesson of the day, but his dad had explained what today actually meant and why he wanted to take Harry here tonight to talk about things.
"This... this is where..." Harry trailed off awkwardly, looking around the snow covered town.
Godric's Hollow was a strange mixture of old houses that looked pretty ancient, new houses that had been built over the years, along with cars and streetlights that lit up the snow on the ground with their orange glow.
"Yeah," James nodded, keeping his hands in his pockets as he looked around, making sure they were alone. "I figured you should... I never knew about this place, not when I was your age." He explained as he started walking, Harry moving to quietly walk alongside him as they headed into the town properly.
"Why not?" Harry asked in a quiet voice.
"Because the people that knew thought that they knew better that I did, and didn't want me to come here yet." James explained bitterly before sighing. "Mum and Dad's cottage is here, where they lived before..." He trailed off.
"Yeah," Harry nodded, understanding what his older self was saying. "Why... why did Voldemort attack them?" He asked quietly.
"There was a prophecy," James explained with a nod towards Harry. "He heard that we could be the ones to defeat him."
"Oh," Harry frowned at that. "Did... it came true then?" He asked curiously.
"I guess," James nodded back. He did defeat Voldemort, that was the truth of it. Whether it was because of the prophecy or not, that was a question he couldn't really answer. He still didn't believe in the prophecy himself really, but couldn't deny that he'd defeated Voldemort, just like the prophecy said he would.
"So he killed our mum and dad because of it?" Harry asked, looking up at his older self.
"Yeah," James grimaced to himself, not really wanting to say that they'd been killed because Voldemort wanted to get to him, and that their parents weren't the true target all along. That wasn't knowledge that his younger self ever needed to hear.
"Is he going to come back?" Harry asked, wrapping his cloak around himself tighter as he asked the question.
"Probably," James nodded down. "And when he does, I'll kick his arse out of the school again." He said with a small grin towards his younger self before getting serious again. "Yeah, he's going to keep coming until I kill him." He explained solemnly.
"You're really going to kill him?" Harry whispered, looking up at James now. "Does... he deserves it right, for killing our parents?"
"He definitely deserves it," James nodded, thinking of everything Voldemort had done. "Even if he hadn't have killed our parents, he'd still deserve it."
"I guess," Harry frowned to himself. "I... I just don't know how I feel, talking about killing someone like that." He explained quietly.
"You're not supposed to," James nodded down, resting his hand on his younger self's shoulder. "Killing someone isn't something you're ever supposed to understand."
"But you need to kill him?" Harry questioned again. "Because of the prophecy?"
"Not because of the prophecy," James shook his head at that. "It's not about that. It's about making sure that you and Hermione, Susan, Daphne and Neville, can all grow up without that monster being around." He explained. "If I don't... he won't stop coming... and one day..."
"One day he'll come for me if you don't." Harry said softly. "He came for you? When you were me?" He asked, looking up.
"A few times," James sighed. "I didn't have anyone looking out for me like this, it was just me and Hermione really, and a few others." He explained bitterly, thinking of all the betrayals he'd had over his life from friends that turned out to be anything but.
"But..." Harry started, frowning at himself as he tried to understand the things his older self was saying. "You can really kill him?" He asked quietly.
"Yeah," James confirmed with a single nod as he indicated for them to turn to the side up a different street in the town. "That's the cottage where our mum and dad lived." He explained quietly, gesturing ahead to where he could see Sirius and Remus waiting outside the mostly destroyed cottage.
"Who... who's that with Uncle Sirius?" Harry asked.
"Remus," James winced, forgetting that he hadn't mentioned Remus to Harry yet. "He's a friend of Sirius', he was out dad's friend too."
"Why haven't you spoken about him before?" Harry whispered up.
"Because I didn't know where he was or if he'd even come and see us yet." James explained flatly, still not entirely sure where he stood with Remus yet. Over the past week or so they'd gotten better with things, talking about what had happened, and Remus apologising for abandoning him to The Dursley's.
Things weren't perfect between them, and they were a long way off being good, but they could at least be pleasant to each other and talk about things without arguing anymore, which was a good thing as far as Sirius had confirmed.
"Hey kiddo," Sirius was the first to speak up, walking to meet them and ruffling Harry's hair, knocking all the loose snow out of it as he came to stand beside him.
"Hi Uncle Sirius." Harry smiled up.
"The old cat let you two out early then?" Sirius asked, looking over to James now. "Wasn't sure if you'd get here before dinner time."
"I don't think she wanted me at the feast either," James admitted, nodding over to Remus who was simply staring at Harry now. "Bad memories I guess." He explained with a frown.
"Yeah, too many." Sirius confirmed, looking back to the destroyed cottage and remembering the last time he was here and how he'd handed baby Harry over to Hagrid without a second thought. "Didn't bring Amelia with you?" He asked, cocking his head to the side.
"Figured this should be a family thing," James said, looking around the area in front of the destroyed cottage.
"Yeah, probably." Sirius nodded in agreement. "Sorry kiddo, this is Remus." He explained, finally introducing the two as Remus stepped forwards.
"Dad told me," Harry nodded, smiling politely over to Remus who gave him a hesitant smile back before glancing over to James.
"Yeah, he calls Junior dad, don't think I ever get tired of laughing at that." Sirius grinned over, noticing Remus' confusion at the comment.
"Yeah yeah, you're the one paying for the mind healer when I go curse happy," James muttered over, shaking his head in amusement at Sirius' grin. "Who brought the flowers?" He asked, looking down to where a small pile of white lilies were laying on the ground in front of the cottage.
"Dunno," Sirius shrugged. "Figured it was you?" He asked, looking over to James who shook his head in response. "Probably some well wisher then, you know, the entire country kind of knows about what happened here? Not surprising there's a few people who still come by and drop flowers off."
"Yeah, maybe." James mused thoughtfully, looking down at the pale lilies that were laying on the snow covered pathway to the gate of the cottage.
"What... what are we going to do here?" Harry asked, looking up at the three adults.
"Up to you," James looked down at him. "You want to go inside?" He asked, looking over to the destroyed cottage. "Actually, I've never even been inside there." He said quietly, admitting such a thing to himself as well as out loud.
Harry quickly shook his head at that option. The way the ruins of the cottage looked weren't welcoming at all, and knowing that his parents had died in there... well, it certainly wasn't somewhere he ever wanted to go inside, definitely not tonight.
"Don't blame you on that one," Sirius nodded in agreement to Harry. "This whole place is just..." He shivered, looking around the town. "It used to be a nice place you know, Prongs was always talking about taking you flying out back when you were older." He explained with a fond smile at the memory.
"Flying?" Harry asked, looking up at Sirius now.
"Yeah, the cottage had all the fields out back as well, right back to the forest, it's huge." Sirius explained with a grin, happy to talk about happier times. "The cottage was just the start I think, like James wanted to build out from it, make it bigger, even have his own quidditch pitch at some point." He said with a wide smile. "He always wanted more kids you know, a few little brothers or a little sister for you."
"What's going to happen to the house now?" Harry asked, looking back to his older self.
"After... well, now, it's probably not even safe to keep standing like this." James admitted, the cottage had very clearly taken the brunt of the Death Eater attack and was in a worse state than he ever remembered seeing it like before. "It'll probably have to be pulled down at some point."
"Oh," Harry whispered, not entirely sure how he should be feeling about that piece of news. It was his parents house, and where they died, but it didn't feel right to just pull it all down and forget about it all.
"What about the grounds?" Remus asked curiously.
"The deeds will still be in the vaults right?" Sirius asked curiously. "I mean, you own them now right? It's still Potter property, doesn't matter than The Ministry tried to take it over and make it into some sort of history lesson out here."
"Probably," James mused with a small nod. "Yeah, the grounds are all still there I guess, I'd have to check with Amelia what The Ministry actually did about everything though."
"Probably thought they could get away with just stealing it from you and not having to worry about it." Sirius muttered in disgust, knowing full well how The Ministry worked and that they almost certainly would have tried to steal it if they thought they could get away with it.
"Wouldn't surprise me," James muttered, making a mental note to actually ask Amelia exactly what was going on with the cottage and why The Ministry took it over in the first place. "I just thought..." He sighed, looking to his younger self. "I never really got to come here before to say... I don't know, goodbye? Thank you? I don't know..." He admitted, looking back at the cottage.
"It feels kind of weird being here," Harry admitted, looking from the cottage up to his older self. "Is it... morbid or something to be here?"
"Probably, a bit." James admitted when both Sirius and Remus shared a look between them.
"We'll see you down by the statue," Sirius said with a nod, gesturing for Remus to follow him as they walked off, the snow crunching underfoot as the two Harry Potter's watched them leave.
"Where are they going?" Harry asked, idly curious as he watched his uncle walk away.
"There's a statue dedicated to our parents down in the middle of the town," James explained softly. "I told Sirius it'd probably be best if we just talked about this sort of stuff together. Just between us, or just between me I guess."
"What sort of stuff?" Harry asked curiously, still huddling himself in his cloak to keep warm in the evening's snow.
"You know... there's a lot more to magic than what you're learning at the moment right?" James started hesitantly, moving to lean on one of the stone walls that surrounded the destroyed cottage. "Really, there's tons of stuff out there that you can't even imagine yet." He explained, looking over as Harry stared at him with interest.
"Like what?" Harry asked quickly, always interested in learning anything he could about any new types of magic.
"It... it was a story, a bedtime story for kids I think, the sort of thing they have in magical homes like Susan and Daphne's house." James explained, hedging around the explanation and how to start thing. "A long time ago, there were three wizards, who met Death." He explained.
"Death? As in..." Harry trailed off, swallowing audibly as he tried to understand that.
"The Grim Reaper or whatever the magical world calls him, that one." James nodded. "They generally call him Death, but the pictures in the book were pretty much the same as what you'd imagine a Grim Reaper to be anyway."
"Oh," Harry nodded, accepting that for now.
"Anyway, Death gave the three wizards a gift. A wand, a cloak, and a stone." James explained quietly so his voice didn't carry over anywhere else down the street. "And whoever put all the gifts together was supposed to become the Master of Death."
"What does that mean?" Harry asked curiously.
"Honestly, I don't know." James admitted, shaking his head. "The stories didn't say, and nobody's ever done it before as far as I know." He said with a small shrug. "But our dad had one of those gifts." He explained. "An invisible cloak."
"Our dad had an invisible cloak?" Harry whispered in awe, his eyes going wide at this piece of information.
"Yup," James smiled over. "But it's the other gift that I wanted to talk to you about."
"Which one?" Harry asked, looking up and wondering what his older self was trying to say.
"This..." James explained, reaching under his t-shirt and pulling out the small black stone that was on a shining metal chain around his neck, fastened with a permanent sticking charm. "The stone." He explained softly. "The Resurrection Stone."
"What does it do?" Harry asked, staring at the simple black stone in amazement.
"You turn it three times, and you can bring a ghost of someone back to talk to them." James admitted, letting the resurrection stone fall against his chest. "They're not really ghosts, not like at school, but they're not... not alive either." He tried to explain and failed miserably. "Somewhere between I guess."
"You've got all of them, haven't you?" Harry asked, looking at his older self as he realised why he was telling himself this. "The wand, the stone and the cloak?"
"All three," James nodded slowly, seeing how his younger self was going to accept this.
"You're the Master of Death?" Harry asked, frowning slightly at the title.
"For whatever it means, yeah." James nodded, still unsure if the damn title actually meant anything anyway. The niggling thought was that people thought it did, and Nicolas Flamel certainly thought it did, which was a frankly worrying realisation. "It doesn't really change anything though."
"Is that... is that how you came back in time like that?" Harry asked curiously.
"I..." James frowned as he thought about it. He'd always assumed it was the time turner that had thrown him back here, but could it have been a mixture of the time turner and the Deathly Hallows? Or maybe anyone else using the time turner like that would have died, and he'd only lived because of them? "I don't know." He admitted thoughtfully. "I didn't mean to come back like that, if that's what you mean."
"Oh," Harry nodded, accepting that for now.
"I'm telling you all this stuff because I think you've got the right to decide," James sighed, touching the resurrection stone around his neck. "Do you want me to summon our parents so you can talk to them?"
At that, Harry went wide eyed, staring at his older self in shock at what he was saying. "You... you can really do that?" He asked in a quiet voice. "You've... done that before?"
"Once, twenty years ago." James nodded solemnly. "I haven't used it since."
"Why not?" Harry asked curiously, if he could talk to his real dad, any time he wanted, he would have used it every single day.
"The story, the wizard that Death gave the stone to? He used it to bring his girlfriend back from the dead." James explained quietly. "She hated it, being kept in the real world instead of wherever she was supposed to be? Heaven I guess? It must have been like torturing her." He said softly. "He killed himself after using it."
"Oh," Harry whispered, still staring at the little black stone around his older self's neck.
"I only used it when I thought I was going to die," James admitted, leaning back a bit on the snow covered wall to get comfortable while they talked. "I wanted to know what it was like." He said quietly, admitting that aloud for the first time in his life.
"It... it hurts them to be summoned?" Harry asked softly.
"The story said it does," James said with a thoughtful nod. "I didn't ask them when it happened, I... I was just thinking about other things."
"I don't want to hurt my mum and dad." Harry said softly.
"Neither do I," James confirmed with a nod. "I just thought... I thought you should know that I can, if you ever needed me to."
Harry simply nodded at that, thinking about everything his older self was saying. "Maybe... maybe we could one day? To... I don't know what I'd say... to meet them? To ask if they'd have liked me?" He said softly.
"I'm sure they would have," James smiled down at his younger self reassuringly. "It's sort of weird you know, knowing that ghosts are real and that souls live on after we die." He explained. "It's sort of proof that whatever else happens, they'll be there, waiting for us both when we die."
"I don't think I want that to happen for a very long time." Harry said quietly.
"Me neither, not for either of us." James chuckled in response. "You know you can't tell anyone about this right? It's got to be kept a secret."
"It sounds like a big sort of secret," Harry nodded back, understanding why his older self would keep this to himself. "Does Uncle Sirius know?" He asked, causing his older self to shake his head in response. "Aunt Amelia?"
"She knows," James nodded. "I told her when I was explaining everything about Dumbledore and Voldemort." He said with a small shrug. "She understands why it's so big of a secret."
"Why... why did you get them all?" Harry asked, curious about that.
"I don't know," James admitted. "Some of it was just chance I guess, otherwise it just happened at the time." He explained with a shrug. "Dumbledore used to have the wand, then I took it from him." He explained, simplifying it down. "Voldemort had the stone, he used it in some mixed up ritual."
"And you had the cloak, like the three of you fighting each other." Harry said with a nod as he considered that.
"That..." James winced as he thought about it. Yes, the real James Potter would have had the cloak if he'd lived, and Dumbledore had the wand, and Voldemort had the stone, or would have had it if he hadn't used it for a Horcrux. That definitely wasn't a nice thought, putting him in the same category as Dumbledore and Voldemort. "Our dad came from the same family, the three wizards. That's why the cloak was passed down to him, he could trace his family all the way back to those three wizards."
"Wow," Harry breathed out.
"Come on, we should probably catch up with Sirius and Remus." James said quickly, pushing himself off the stone wall and tucking the resurrection stone back under his t-shirt. Still a bit disturbed at his younger self's realisation that he, Dumbledore and Voldemort were like the three brothers in the story.
"OK," Harry nodded as he followed his older self, trudging through the snow down towards the centre of the town. "Is Death really real then?" He asked quietly. "Like a real person?"
"I've never met anything like that," James admitted with a small shrug. "And I'd think I'm supposed to if I'm the Master of Death right?" He asked with a small smirk down to his younger self.
"It isn't nice to hide from your master," Harry grinned up to his older self to show he was fine after learning this new piece of information about his older self. "Unless he's playing hide and seek with you?"
"For twenty years?" James snorted, shaking his head at the thought.
"Wow... he definitely beat you." Harry laughed, trying to picture his older self playing hide and seek with the grim reaper, and failing miserably in the process.
The fiery orange blasting curse left Lucius Malfoy's wand the moment he'd seen who'd come through his floo, it was an instinctual decision, made very easy by the fact that he knew outright exactly how much certain people would be willing to pay in reward for this action.
While he might have sold his lot in with Potter and Black, for now, he certainly was not siding with the angels of society in any great way. He had his own plans and his own future to consider, a future that definitely did not involve bowing down to either Potter or Black when they took over the country.
They might not do it officially or through conquest like Riddle intended to, but it was painfully clear through Potter's popularity and Black's manoeuvring onto the Wizengamot, that between them they would indeed rule the country, in fact if not in title. It was a frankly disturbing notion to realise that the two Gryffindors would soon rule from behind the scenes, an act worthy of any Slytherin worth their salt.
It wasn't particularly satisfying or rewarding, watching the fat figure be blasted back into the fireplace where he slumped into the fire, blood pooling from underneath him where the blasting curse had impacted his side.
Lucius simply sheathed his wand, confidant in both his casting and his aim, before he walked to the fireplace and disdainfully kicked the prone figure on the shoulder, knocking him out of the fire before using his expensively shooed foot to stamp out the flames that were already licking at the tattered and disgusting clothing the man was wearing.
"Well, Peter Pettigrew, this is a surprise." Lucius smirked down at the unconscious and bleeding figure, idly wondering exactly what Potter and Black would be willing to reward him with for handing over this particular wizard.
A wry grin settled on his face as he realised that Pettigrew was worth a hell of a lot more to Potter and Black than they probably thought. Not only was he the traitor that sold them out to Voldemort, but he was also a Death Eater that they could interrogate and learn quite a lot from.
Oh yes, he was certain that Potter and Black would be willing to trade quite a lot for Pettigrew, he would make sure of it.