The wind whipped all about him, flowing around his body, as he pulled out of a dive.
Pulling the broom up in a lazy climb, Evan lost himself in the moment. His heart was beating a mile a minute, his cheeks were red and he could feel a mild sheen of sweat.
How long had it been since he'd flown?
"Sixth year," he murmured to himself. "What a disaster that was," he laughed, enjoying the view his lazy climb provided.
The Forbidden Forest stretched over the horizon, the Clock tower glistened in the waning sun, and the lake reflected its rays. A picturesque sight to behold. Magical in its own way.
This. This was how it was supposed to be. Calm. Peaceful. Serene.
He paused his climb and stared back at the quidditch pitch. He hadn't been up for what should have been another triumphant season. Unfortunately, Undesirable No 1 doesn't get the opportunity for recreation.
Snorting, he pinched his lips together, suppressing a smile. They'd won his 6th year, not that he'd done all that much.
First match, they'd beat up an undermanned Slytherin squad. No Malfoy or Vaisey, their star chaser. The last match Evan had been in detention with Snape; and the second match of the year, he'd been knocked out by Cormac.
A few chuckles escaped him.
Now that he thought about it, it'd been a miracle they had won the cup. Technically he'd captained it, but it felt like his worst season, excluding Umbridge's banning. Though shockingly, that had really been his last actual competitive match since third year.
Wow," he let out a sigh. There really hadn't been all that much Quidditch since then.
Voldemort had taken so much from him. He should have had six normal seasons. Instead he'd been cheated out of a number of matches and even in this new world, he still wouldn't get a season this year.
Perhaps he could play some pick up. Or just fly…maybe practise with and help coach the Gryffindor squad. He felt so free in the air. Not trapped in a new world, in another tournament. Alone. But he couldn't let his thoughts dwell on that again.
Evan adjusted his grip on the broom, preparing to push it to its limits. It was amazing how just having it between his legs once more felt right. The jitters had been there, after not having flown so long. But as soon as he'd kicked off and felt the air in his face, he felt right.
Right at home.
Just as he was preparing to go through another Seeker drill, he caught a flash of gold in the sky up above him. With a mere glance, he saw it was in catchable range, only being about the equivalent distance as to being on the opposite end of the pitch away from him.
Suppressing his instincts for a moment, Evan looked around. He hadn't brought out a snitch. Who had? Hooch always kept them locked up and double-checked there was nothing missing when they were returned.
He scoured the ground first, then worked his way through the skies but didn't see anything. Nobody was coming from the castle even.
The anticipation had built and built and he couldn't contain it any longer. Like a breached dam, his competitive instincts flooded forth. He gave in to the inevitable.
Shooting off as suddenly as a champagne cork being relieved of his duty, Evan flattened himself and tore across the sky.
As if it had just noticed the impending disaster, the snitch took off. A grin flashed across his face before his determined concentration washed it away.
It dove, going in the exact opposite direction he had been speeding towards the snitch from. Loosening his grip, Evan pulled his body to its left, inverting into a backwards dive, his momentum fighting against the broom's new direction.
The move had been one he'd been working on perfecting in his sixth year but hadn't had a chance to use. The practising paid off; Evan was right on it. He took a hand off the broom and reached for it, but just before his fingertips could hit purchase, it corkscrewed directly down.
Pushing the handle down, Evan followed, still with just one hand on the broom.
The ground was coming faster than Hermione's chastisement of Ron when he swore within her earshot.
Evan knew he should pull up, but his fingers kept brushing against the snitch. He knew it was just a practice and there was no conceivable reason for him to risk a heavy collision with the ground, but he just couldn't help himself.
He was going to get the snitch!
Stretching as far as he could, Evan's right hand extended just the fraction more needed to barely grasp it.
The very moment he gripped it, he tried to abort the dive, but he instinctively knew there was no way that was going to work. He pulled for all he was worth but just at the last second, he rolled.
His back crashed into the ground, bumping and skidding along the ground. Evan's arms were extended, keeping the Firebolt away from damage and a firm grasp of the snitch.
When he finally came to a stop he checked himself over but only had severe stains on his shirt.
Unable to contain it, he lay back down and laughed a full belly laugh.
It wasn't a game, but that had felt so good.
He'd pushed it right to the very edge. What. A. Thrill!
Evan waited until his pulse slowed, and all he could hear was his measured breathing.
"You fly well," a distinctly feminine voice said from behind him.
Abruptly, Evan sat up and looked around.
Walking into the light of the sunset was a pretty brunette. She had a cute button nose, a furtive smile on her thin lips, and slightly dimpled cheeks, with a freckle in the middle of the left one.
"Erm, thanks," Evan said, rubbing the back of his neck.
He stood. "Was this, err, yours?" he asked, holding out the snitch.
She inclined her head and took it from his hand.
Evan tried to see if he recalled her at all.
Scrutinising her, he noticed her strong, callused hands. She had a broom in her other hand and her hair tied back. He didn't need more than one guess to figure out what she'd planned to do.
"Sorry," he said, grimacing. "I looked but didn't see anyone. And once I went after it…"
Bobbing her head, she took a half step back. "There was only the pursuit," she finished for him.
"Did I miss you in the air?" he asked. It was rather rude of him to have done so but he'd seen the flash of gold and…yeah.
"I released it from the ship."
"Oh," Evan said. That'd be why he hadn't seen her before.
If there had been any foreign female students that had caught his eye in his fourth year, it was only Fleur Delacour. Not that he'd had much on his mind beyond surviving the tournament.
Only now did he notice how late it had gotten. If she released the snitch now, by the time it had hidden itself, there'd not be enough daylight to safely fly after it. "Sorry that I took your chase away," he said.
She held his gaze and then frowned. "There is always tomorrow."
"Did you want me to hold it so you could do a little flying?" Evan asked, jutting his chin towards the docile snitch. "It's the least I could do."
Her brown eyes focused on him as her face remained impassively neutral. She didn't say anything when she handed over the snitch, nor before kicking off, into the sky.
Evan sat down, tucked the snitch into his pocket and leaned back, his palms pressed into the grass.
His expectations hadn't been all that high. The best school-aged flyer he'd ever seen had been Angelina. She'd thoroughly deserved the Captain badge after Wood. She was a smooth, superb flyer that could have followed her former captain into the ranks of the professionals and would have, if it hadn't been for the war.
Assuming that was the height of a student-athlete's ability, it only took the first move after the brief warm up to realise that he was flat-out wrong.
This young woman could give Krum a run for the snitch.
She was an effortless flyer. There wasn't a single wasted movement as she pushed her broom for all that it was capable of. Whether it was intentional or not, she pulled off the same inverted dive as Evan but without the hitch he had yet to remedy.
Leaning further back, Evan relaxed, enjoying the show. She was a frighteningly fluid flyer.
All too soon, the light had dimmed and she landed beside him, her hand outstretched.
"You claimed I fly well, but I'd need a dictionary to find a word to describe how incredible you fly," Evan said, his voice sounding incredulous to his own ears. "Seriously, what even was that one move?"
He tried mimicking it with his hands but shook his head. "The one where you were ripping along and then all of a sudden you were vertical!"
It had been like a flying squirrel, its arms and legs tucked, as it flew through the air before opening up its extremities to act like a parachute opening. Going from horizontal to vertical had drastically slowed her down before she'd levelled back out and had raced on.
He honestly couldn't imagine doing that in a match. "Do you do that to get behind someone following you?" he asked.
Noticing that she had her broom slung over her shoulder, he copied her and they began walking towards the Black Lake.
"Oh!" Evan said, a strategy popping into his head. "Do you use it to lead a shadowing seeker into a bludger?"
"That's one use for the Cobra," she said, her voice quiet as she stared ahead, looking at the ship.
"The Cobra?" Evan tested. "That's what it's called?"
As they walked along, Evan pictured using it against Draco. Leading him on a merry chase only for Fred and George to attempt to double bludgeon him before he used The Cobra to pull out of the way and impede Draco's view of the incoming ambush.
It'd be worth the practice just to do it once successfully.
"Erm," Evan said, looking over at the girl. "I've been a right git. I stole your snitch chase and haven't even introduced myself."
"You're Harry Potter," she said flatly.
"Err, yeah," Evan responded lamely. "And you are?"
Stopping, her eyes narrowed as she looked him up and down, her mouth morphing into a frown. "Victoria," she said slowly after a moment.
"It's nice to meet you, Victoria," he responded.
The two continued on but then Evan realised he was Harry but he wouldn't be going by it anymore.
"You saw the whole bit where there is a younger version of me running around?"
She nodded but didn't comment.
"We, erm, uh, talked about it," he said, pulling the hair on the back of his head. "We can't both be Harry Potter so I've decided to go by Evan. Evan Potter."
Her lips pressed together for a moment. "Okay."
Silence followed her succinct comment, and Evan couldn't help but feel that things were a little awkward. He didn't want to leave things as they were, but he was racking his brain for conversation ideas and coming up empty.
He'd been a right prat to Parvati. Cho had been an unmitigated disaster, and Ginny and he had only dated for just shy of two months.
Ginny. The name felt like a dagger had lanced through his chest. Evan knew he couldn't let that train get going. The tracks led to despair and depression.
"So must you be the Seeker for your school?" She liked Quidditch and had the seeker build.
He felt slightly elated.
She shook her head. "No."
Evan waited for her to add anything more, but Victoria kept her gaze forward and her lips shut.
"Do they not let girls play?" Karkaroff was a former Death Eater like Snape. "Slytherin claims they'll let females play for them, but it's been decades since any have been on the team. It's disgusting.
"I mean, they even had a few girls that played pick-up games that were damned good for not practising regularly," he said. "Crabbe and Goyle are awful beaters too and Gwenog Jones is a brilliant beater, best in the league, if what my friend told me is true, and the Harpies are quite good. They've won the league before and Katie, Alicia, and Angelina were terrific. We won the cup, so I just don't get it."
Evan realised he'd been blabbering, "Err, sorry." He said, rubbing the back of his neck, a pained half-smile on his face.
He should have kept his mouth shut.
She looked over at him, the corners of her mouth twitching. "I did for a few years," she said. "But I moved on."
Feeling the heat rushing to his cheeks, Evan ducked his head. "Oh," he said in a small voice.
It wasn't long before they arrived at the entrance to the ship. "Goodnight, Evan,"
"Night," he responded quietly. He watched her head up the gangplank. Shifting his broom, Evan shoved his hands into his pockets and he felt a flutter against his fingers.
"You forgot your snitch," Evan called out, just as she was about to head out of sight.
She turned to look back, her cheeks dimpled as she smiled. "Keep it," she said simply. "I have many."
With that said, she turned and went into the Durmstrang ship. Evan looked at the struggling snitch grasped in his hand before stuffing it into his pocket. It was time to get back to his room. Tomorrow he'd be joining Harry for breakfast.
It was going to be a long day.
Walking through Hogwarts to the Great Hall alone was an odd experience. There had always been Ron and Hermione. If one or both of them hadn't been available to join him, there had always been his dormmates and quidditch teammates.
It was awkward enough without them and that he hadn't taken this trek in the past year but as he came across yet another pair of students bluntly pointing and gawking at him, he couldn't help but scowl.
With a shake of his head, he picked up his pace and turned his thoughts away from the two Ravenclaw girls giggling behind their hands. His thoughts flittered between all of the recent happenings: Visiting the Ministry, shopping, and his trip to Gringotts this morning.
Things weren't getting easier. Being here still made his head spin; the new world was eerily similar, but it was all the minor differences that threw him.
Like the one in front of him.
Sitting at the Gryffindor table eating breakfast, were Harry, Ron and Hermione. Ron had a full plate and his cheeks were stuffed. Hermione was across from him, one hand holding the page of a book down, the other carefully feeding herself.
All perfectly normal.
But what wasn't normal, in any way, was how Harry sat right next to her, with no space between them, reading the same book as her.
Whilst Evan had read books in the Great Hall before, it was reserved for emergency situations, like last-minute cramming for an exam. Perhaps this was one of those times. An emergency. But their comfort and Ron patently ignoring them made it seem like this was familiar. Perfectly normal.
"Hey," he said, joining them.
"Blimey," Ron said, when Evan sat down next to him. "This is ruddy strange."
With a huff, Hermione rolled her eyes. "It's nice to meet you, Evan," she said, sticking out her hand. "Harry said you were my friend where you came from but it's nice to meet you."
As Evan shook her hand, he felt a pang in his chest. They were so young. And a hand shake with Hermione? Not normal.
It was nothing like the bone-crushing hugs he was used to.
"Hi," he said, not really sure how to react. He could read her the same as his best friend but she was younger and not stuck in between two feuding friends.
"I'm glad you came," Harry said.
"Did you think I wouldn't?" Evan frowned.
"He was worried you'd be overwhelmed," Ron said, cutting over his friend. "I mean look around, it's worse than second year," he added.
All around the hall, eyes were turned upon him. Every time he made eye contact the people turned away.
Evan shrugged and started filling his plate. "At least they aren't wearing badges this time."
"Badges?" Hermione asked, her head tilting as her brown eyes focused in.
"Yeah," he said, after finishing chewing. "Malfoy was giving out badges that said "'Support Cedric Diggory - The Real Hogwarts Champion' and when you pushed the button, it switched to 'Potter Stinks'"
"But didn't the professors do anything?"
"Never found them all that useful," he said before getting back to eating.
"Wait," Ron said, blinking. "The real Hogwarts champion?"
All three were focused on him and his peripheral vision hinted that everyone within earshot of him was awaiting his answer.
Putting his fork down, he raked his hand through his hair. "Yeah. Flitwick enchanted your Goblet of Fire to only allow someone that was of age to be chosen. Dumbledore did ours. But he used an age line. You had to be 17 to get past it, but nothing prevented someone else from putting my name in. And they must have confused the goblet into selecting another champion."
"Did it have a school attached?" Hermione asked.
His lips quivered in amusement. Typical Hermione. "It was just my name."
"That makes sense," she announced. "In The Triwizard Tournament Through The Ages: Death, Glory and Triumph, it said that the Goblet was only permitted to choose from the three schools. When Ilvermony tried to join, the Goblet of Fire wouldn't select a champion for them so they had to confound the goblet into selecting a fourth name, which was unaffiliated."
Had Crouch Jr read and removed the book from the library? They had looked and looked and looked but hadn't been able to find anything like that.
"Ilvermony refused to participate again if the Goblet of Fire couldn't be fixed and hasn't since 1627."
"I had no idea," Evan said.
"So Cedric was the Champion?" Ron said, pulling the conversation back. "Was it Krum and Delacour too?"
With food in his mouth, Evan simply dipped his chin. Casting his eyes across the hall, he saw the beautiful part-veela but couldn't catch sight of Krum. Though he did spot Draco seated with his dim bookends. His plate was empty, and he was chatting at Victoria, who looked as interested as he was in attending another History of Magic class.
She looked up from her food and caught his eye.
Pushing away from the table, she broke eye contact and excused herself, even though Malfoy was still having a case of logorrhea.
He felt a tap on his arm. "Sorry, did you ask something?" Evan said, turning to Harry.
"Yes," he said. "Are you going to classes with the seventh years?"
"No, I went to the Ministry yesterday and they are of the opinion that the tournament competitors should automatically achieve a NEWT for all of their classes. The Goblet only selects the best from each graduating class after all."
"Bloody brilliant," Ron exclaimed. "No classes."
Hermione was about to say something, but Evan had noticed how empty the table was. "You had better get to class, looks like everyone else is going," he said before adding, "we can talk later. The squirt and I have things to discuss and go through."
He reached over and ruffled Harry's hair.
"Like what?" Harry said, carefully stowing the book he had been reading with Hermione away.
"How I'm of age, and legally, physically, and magically Harry James Potter." The absurdity of what he was about to drop on them made him chuckle. "I'm legally entitled to inherit the estates of James and Lily Potter and can file the paperwork to be appointed your guardian."
As Evan took in their awestruck faces, he had the realisation of understanding Albus Dumbledore. Dropping knowledge like this on them was pure fun. He hoped his eyes were twinkling. Maybe he could figure out how to do it.
He knew quite a lot that people would be interested in. Think of just the relationships. Fleur and Bill. Tonks and Remus. Even Ron and Hermione. Would they all happen or not? Even he and Ginny wouldn't be. She was thirteen now and as much as he'd pined after Ginny, that had been for a sixteen-year-old witch, not a different version in another dimension still awaiting puberty.
"Go on," he said. "Shoo. Find me in the library later. I've got to study for the First Task."
"We'll be there," Harry said, "and we'll help you."
His green eyes were bright and his jaw set. The other two affirmed their support.
Evan watched the three walk off and turned back to his food. He would be going to the library but there would be a few stops on the way: the Room of Requirement and the Chamber of Secrets.
He had Horcruxes to check up on.
Happy Birithday to Petri! Thanks to Nauze, Petrificus Somewhatus & Taliesin19 for the beta help! And thanks to all of you for reading, the favourites, follows, and reviews. It is always appreciated.