A/N: Okay, after having pondered on this chapter most of the night, thinking that it was not exactly what I wanted it to be, and after having read Luinthoron's review, I decided to (almost) completely revise this chapter, so if you had read the older version before, I would suggest you to read this, since I made some major changes! Also thanks a lot Luinthoron for the constructive comment – it made me see that you should never just write because your readers are urging you on to write and also to never write, when you're tired! grins
And now, have fun with the new chapter 8!
Chapter 8: Fathers and sons
"Granger, stop pacing. It's annoying." Back in the common room of the four time travelers, Draco was sitting in one of the stuffed armchairs and chewed on a chicken wing, one of the many kinds of food that the house-elves had brought them, while reading the Evening Prophet that had come with the food. The headline on the front page read Several Death Eater Attacks Prevailed and he seemed to be quite engrossed in the article. This, however, did not keep him from noticing Hermione, who was literally about to run a hole in the red carpet and had not even spared a glance at her plate on the table.
The young woman threw a frustrated glare at the Slytherin and put her hands on her hips. "How can you be so calm?" she asked him. "It's now only a couple of minutes until Harry and Ron meet their fathers and…"
"Exactly, it's Potter and Weasley who'll meet their fathers. It's not you and it's not me. So calm down!" Annoyed, he turned his attention back to the newspaper and turned to the next page. He just wanted to start reading the new paragraph, when it was torn out of his hands. "Hey!"
"In case you haven't noticed, Malfoy, Harry and Ron are my friends. So it's only natural that I'm nervous as well. Who knows how James and Arthur will react? What if they don't believe them? What if…"
Draco did not want to hear any more of this. He got up from the chair and gripped Hermione firmly at the upper arms. Startled, she let go of the newspaper, which fell to the floor. "Granger, listen. We don't know how they will react, but neither do Weasley and Potter. They are about to find out and there's nothing you or I could do to help them now. The only thing you can do now is calm down, sit and eat something. I'm sure that they will tell you what has happened as soon as they step through the portrait. So, be reasonable and here, read." He let go of her arms, picked up the crumpled Prophet and gave it to her. "We are also mentioned."
Slightly stunned by Draco's outburst, Hermione nodded and sat down in the chair. She put some vegetables and meatballs on her plate and unfolded the newspaper on the right side of the plate. She did not notice Draco's somewhat amused gaze, as she immediately began to scan the lines of the article and seemingly absorbed every bit of information that she deemed important.
"This is not good," she mumbled, as she had finished the article of the attack. "Among the victims was also the family of Ministry worker Arthur Weasley. Fortunately, the attackers, three young men and one young woman, could be captured before any harm could be done and were interrogated by Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Professor Dumbledore however stated in an interview this afternoon that those four young people are innocent and in no way connected to the planned Death Eater attacks. If we can believe his words is doubtful, as the Prophet knows from good authority that at least one of them bears the Dark Mark." Hermione closed the newspaper and looked at Draco with a worried expression on her face. "This is terrible. When the Ministry finds out that we're going to teach this year, they'll try to find a way to remove Dumbledore, I just know it."
"Stay calm, Granger. You know the old man. How often has anyone tried to remove Dumbledore from Hogwarts? Neither Lucius nor Fudge was ever successful, as Dumbledore always came back. Besides, they also did not suspend him, as he allowed Snape to teach here at Hogwarts, and he was a known Death Eater."
"I hope you're right," Hermione sighed. She rubbed her temples and threw a short glance at the clock over the entrance. The thirty minutes were up.
When Harry stepped through the door behind James, he could just see the fire in Dumbledore's fireplace flare up in a green light and Arthur Weasley stumbling out of it. Mr. Weasley got on his feet more or less gracefully and wiped the ash from his clothes. Harry used the time to stand next to Ron, who suddenly looked again a lot greener in the face. It reminded him of the one time in second year, when his friend's wand had backfired and he had to throw up slugs the whole afternoon, and he had to grin involuntarily. Thinking back to those happy times somehow helped him to relax, even if just a bit.
"Ah, James, Arthur, I'm glad that you could make it. And you're early, the half hour isn't even up yet," Albus Dumbledore greeted them. "Please sit down." The headmaster motioned with his head to two of the four chairs that were still standing in front of his desk from earlier that evening.
"No, thank you, Albus," James said, the whole time eyeing Harry and Ron rather suspiciously. "I'd rather stand."
"Me, too, Albus," Arthur agreed, also looking at the two young men.
"Sherbet lemon? No?" Dumbledore asked, when all four of them shook their heads. "Well then, I think we can begin. I'm sure you ask yourself, what you're doing here…"
"I'm sure it's about those two, isn't it."
"Indeed, it is, James. But I think that what I'm going to tell you now is what you would least expect. Are you sure you don't want to sit down?" When the four men again shook their heads, Dumbledore's face turned serious. "Good, but first of all I must express that it is important that what you're going to hear now will not leave my office. Well, I can make an exception, you are allowed to tell your wives, if you wish to, as this matter concerns them as much as it does concern you, but no one else." Saying this, he threw a small glance at James, knowing fully well that he would want to tell his friends about it.
"Excuse me, Albus," Arthur interjected with a thoughtful expression on his face. "Please tell me, if I'm wrong, but aren't they two of the four young people that were captured near my home?"
"You are right, Arthur. But believe me when I tell you that they just got there through the must unfortunate circumstances. You see, those four young people are not from around here, in the broadest sense."
"But then, where are they from?" James demanded to know. He clenched his fist tightly around his wand, poised to act if one of those two strangers dared to do something stupid. He did not trust them, not at all and especially the black haired one was unnerving him. There was something about him, he just could not put his finger on it.
"Hey, 'they' are standing right here!" Ron said angrily.
Harry put a calming hand on his friend's shoulder and looked at Dumbledore. The headmaster nodded at him and Harry turned to his father and the father of a couple of his friends. "We're from the future," he said softly, in the hope that this might ease the blow.
The look on their father's faces was priceless and if the situation were not so severe, Ron and Harry probably would have burst out laughing. However, so they only exchanged a small grin, partly because of the faces but also due to the fact that now a part of the truth was out.
"They must be lying!" James almost yelled. Again Harry had to hide a grin. Now he knew whom he could thank for his temper.
Dumbledore looked at him sternly over his half-moon glasses, though he could not suppress a small twinkle in his eyes that betrayed that he found the situation at least a bit amusing. "I assure you James, that they are not lying. James, Arthur, may I introduce you to Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley, your sons?"
"I knew you reminded me of someone," Arthur Weasley mumbled and walked up to Ron. "I should have noticed before that you have all the typical Weasley features. Well Ron, it's nice to meet you, I mean, the adult-you."
Arthur excitedly extended his hand, which Ron gave a wary glance, before shaking it. The younger Weasley let out a quiet sigh of relief. Who would have thought that his father would accept the fact that his son from the future was standing in front of them just like that? He did not. Ron quickly let his eyes wander to James Potter, whose glare would kill them, if it were possible. It seemed that he was luckier than Harry, who probably was about to face a large challenge to convince his father that they were not lying.
After they both had let go, Arthur turned to Harry with a similar eager expression as he had had when he had first met Harry shortly before their second year, when Ron, Fred and George had rescued him from the Dursleys. "So, Harry, James' son, huh? Nice to meet you, too. Molly and I wanted to come to Hogwarts tomorrow to see your baby-self, but seeing you and Ron grown up is quite a surprise. And you're friends?" At Harry's stunned nod – he had somehow known that Ron's father would be able to digest this information rather quickly, but that he was already this friendly and forthcoming was rather unexpected - he turned to James. "Hey James, who would have believed that? Our sons, standing here before us!"
"I don't," James said simply. "I need proof. This story about time traveling is a bit too farfetched for my liking."
"Oh, come on," Arthur said smiling. "Don't you see the resemblance? If his hair were a bit shorter, he would look almost exactly like you, only with Lily's eyes."
"Albus?" James turned to the headmaster, who had a light smile tugging at his lips. He desperately longed for an explanation for this, or for something that might disprove what Dumbledore had just told them. This young man cannot be his son, he just can't! His son was in the hospital wing with his wife, still a baby and not a young man with a scar on his forehead, a scar on his right cheek and eyes that betrayed that they had already seen too much. He had promised himself that his son would grow up in a world free of Voldemort, free of Death Eaters and free of anything that might let him grow up too fast, so this young man cannot be his son. Maybe an imposter, trying to get into Dumbledore's inner circle with this ridiculous story and the old headmaster appeared to believe them! This man was not his son! And he, James Potter, would find the proof for that! "I'm sorry, Albus, but I don't believe a word of this. I'm out of here!" With a short apologizing nod towards the headmaster, he turned around to leave the office, but stopped shortly next to Arthur Weasley. "If I were you, I would be careful around them," he whispered into his ear. "Remember, you have six sons you have to care for and don't forget about Molly. I would hate to tell her that you fell into a trap of Voldemort and that I warned you about it. See you tomorrow."
Dumbledore sighed, as he watched James closing the door to the office behind him. He had been able to hear the distress in the young man's voice, almost an imploration to tell him that this was only a joke. He knew this young man all too well to guess his thoughts and it somehow comforted him to know that, even if it was somewhere deep down, James had come to accept that it was indeed his son standing in front of him. He now only needed this to be confirmed. Only what it was that would convince him, he did not know. Maybe it was only time, but maybe, maybe it was something completely different. "I apologize for his rude behavior, especially to you, Mr. Potter. It must be hard for you to not be accepted by your father, when your friend was so much easier accepted."
Harry shook his head. Even though he was disappointed, he could understand James' reasons perfectly. Was it not only a couple of hours ago that he himself had thought that Dumbledore was a fraud, only playing the role of the great wizard, to lure them into a feeling of safety. It had only been the prophecy that had convinced him, both of them as a matter of fact, that they were on the same side. "You don't need to apologize, Professor. I understand him."
"Indeed, Mr. Potter, indeed. I suggest you wait until he had some time to digest that news and calm down and then you seek to speak to him privately."
"I will, Professor…"
"I'm sorry, if I'm interrupting somehow…" Arthur said quietly. "But I'm curious as to why you've traveled back in time. Is there something you have to warn us against?"
"No, Arthur, there isn't," the Headmaster informed him. "Voldemort used a spell on them during a battle that brought them back."
"Voldemort? He's still alive in your time?" he asked shocked.
"He is," Harry answered. "But for a couple of years he was believed to be defeated for good, until one loyal Death Eater revived him. I don't want to go too much into detail right now, as I'm still not sure if we have any influence on this timeline." This was, however, only one reason to tell them about Voldemorts fall and resurrection. He still did not know if it would be a good idea to tell them that his parents would die in about 15 months and it also still hurt to think about the fight in the cemetery, about Cedric Diggory's useless death.
"Young Mister Potter is right," Dumbledore said. "I think we should leave further questions for later. For now I want to discuss another matter with you." The headmaster told the one remaining father about the plan that would enable Ron and Harry to keep their names. Arthur immediately agreed to confirm that Ron was a distant cousin and that he and his friends found out about the open teaching spots at Hogwarts through him. They also agreed on telling everybody who wanted to know that they had had only contact through owl-post and therefore had not recognized the young people, who had unfortunately arrived at the same time the attack had been planned, thus mistaking them as Death Eaters.
"I still have one question, though," the older Weasley said. "Your two friends, who are they, and why does one of them bear the Dark Mark?"
Harry and Ron looked at each other and Harry decided to explain. "They are Hermione Granger and our other friend goes by Eirian Draconis. He doesn't want his name to be known since it could lead to… difficulties. Hermione is a muggle-born witch, the best of our year and Eirian was a Death Eater and a spy for our side."
"I see…" Arthur mumbled thoughtfully.
"Well, well… It's already pretty late again and there is a staff meeting tomorrow morning after breakfast. Besides, Arthur, I don't want to keep you any longer from your family. I'm sure you can have the father-son-talk at a later date."
"Of course." Arthur, who had sat down during Dumbledore's explanation, stood up again and put his hat on his head. "Ron, I'll have to bring you home sometime. I'm sure that Molly will be thrilled to meet her baby boy." He winked at him.
"But Arthur, remember… You may only tell your wife and no one else may know about this."
"I understand." He grabbed some floo powder, stepped into the flames and after naming his destination (the Burrow), he was gone.
When the fire had returned to its normal color, Harry and Ron slumped into their chairs. "Well, that was not too bad, wasn't it?" Ron asked his friend. "I mean, at least one of our fathers did easily accept us.
"Yeah," Harry said tiredly. "I only wonder what my father will do now… I hope he does not parade around to tell everyone he meets about this."
"Don't worry, he won't," Dumbledore told them. "But if it will help you, I will talk to him about it. I will then also mention what Arthur agreed on, so that you'll have no problem to keep your name. But now, it's late and you should head back to your chambers to tell your friends… Breakfast is from eight to ten and the staff meeting begins at half past ten."
"Okay, we'll tell the others…" Harry said. "Professor Dumbledore, again thank you for everything you're doing for us." A small, grateful lit up his face, which Dumbledore returned with a nod.
After having said goodnight, Ron and Harry were on their way back to their rooms. Once there and inside, they saw Hermione lying on the sofa, fast asleep and Draco sitting in an armchair near the fireplace, reading a book. He turned around, when he heard the noise of the portrait closing, and walked up to them. "Be quiet, she fell asleep about half an hour ago after having paced almost the whole time before. How was it?" he whispered.
"It was… well, partly good," Harry said with a half-smile. "Ron's dad believed us, though it seems that my father needs some more time. Should we wake her?" he asked, motioning with his head towards Hermione.
Draco shook his head. "Let's wait until tomorrow. You can tell us the exact details before breakfast, not that I'm interested, of course."
"Okay." Harry smirked and then briefly told him what Dumbledore had said about breakfast and the staff meeting and then they each went into their own rooms, leaving Hermione in the common room on the couch.