"Where's Sirius?" Harry's father pulled down his paper, which he'd been reading at the kitchen table whilst Lily was making lunch. Saturdays at the Potters' seemed to be rather relaxing, and Harry had a sudden hitch in his chest at the thought.
"I suppose he's probably home with Remus. I think it's a full out tradition that all Marauders relax on Saturdays." His father had a smile that seemed filled with memory and Harry's heart was just a little over-full at the idea. "Oh, home in his flat in London, that is," James added, realizing that Harry wouldn't know this.
"He doesn't live in Grimmauld Place?"
"Are you serious? He would never live there. I believe he's sold it, last I'd heard."
Harry gave a warm smile and made his father write down the address. When he'd accomplished this, he turned to make for the front door when Malfoy came down the stairs.
"I'm going with you, Potter."
"The hell you are!" Harry was getting a little bit more than tired of Malfoy's near constant presence in his life. Maybe the Malfoy of this world was a little bit easier to handle, but his own Malfoy was a brat, petty and annoying and certainly not someone Harry would choose to spend time with. Hadn't, actually, as he came to remember it.
"I most certainly am. I'm your boyfriend, after all, so pay some attention to me."
"For fuck's sake, Malfoy! You are not my boyfriend! Don't you understand? Even if I did like boys, you would not be one of them!"
"So now you're claiming you don't like boys then? Well that's interesting."
"Just what is that supposed to mean?"
"Oh come off it, Potter! When have you ever shown the slightest interest in any girl?"
"There was Cho," Harry said petulantly, suddenly devoid of memories of sexual interests.
"The Oriental girl? Oh please. She fawned over you for ages and you ignored her and made crude attempts to embarrass her. How, exactly, is that liking her?"
"I did not try to embarrass her! It was… an accident."
"Surely she's not the only one. You're a teenaged boy, Potter. Can you honestly say there was never one other that you were interested in?"
Harry thought about it, hard, and tried to think of someone. "I was busy," he said shortly. "Saving the… Stopping Voldemort."
"That's no excuse. You're a teenager. If you were straight, you'd have been all over the girls. Every girl in your year wanted to shag you before you were fourteen, and here you are seventeen and a virgin? Potter, you're gay. Deal with it."
"Shut up, Malfoy! Even if I am – gay – that doesn't mean I'm going to fall in… have… or think… Eurgh! I hate you!" Harry's sister was smirking at the top of the stairs and he suddenly disliked her – a lot. "And no comments from you," he added to her, pointing to prove the point. She just raised her arms in an innocent gesture that seemed more like a devious call of, 'until later' and wandered off to her room. "And you're not coming with me," Harry repeated to Malfoy for emphasis.
"You're so bloody childish!"
"Yes, well, if I get my way…"
"You are not coming."
This argument continued all the way to the underground, which Harry had hoped would turn Malfoy away. Unfortunately, all he did was complain about it the whole time.
"Muggles are so… messy. Look at this place, Potter? Why don't they banish the trash instead of leaving it around? It's filthy?'
"Muggles can't banish trash, Malfoy. They're muggles."
"Oh yes, that's right. They're the ones who infest our world with trash and pollution and cause horrible effects on the ecosystem, going so far as dumping loads of oil into the oceans and then bitching when their drinking water comes out black." Malfoy extracted his wand and began incinerating pieces of trash at random, to the utter dismay of a poor woman and her infant son who had been sitting listening to the two lunatic men with a slight laugh until now.
"MALFOY!" Harry pulled out his own wand and quickly cast a memory charm on her and grabbed Malfoy's wand. Looking outraged, the blond sneered at him and sulked next to the door. He refused to sit and was probably more distraught that Harry had taken the wand before he could cast a good 'scourgify' than he was that Harry had stopped him from eliminating litter.
"That's not fair, Potter," he said sulkily, regarding Harry sitting in a seat with utter disdain. "It's not like anyone would believe her," he added.
"Malfoy," Harry started calmly. "You are getting on my last nerve. I will hex you into a puddle so disfigured that it will take the Reversal squad nearly a year to reverse if you don't stop whining and leave it!"
Malfoy crossed his arms, crossly, and stared at Harry with a very cross expression. He was cross, you see. With Harry. And very much annoyed about it. Which was another way of saying he was cross.
When they finally arrived at the correct station, Harry ignored Malfoy completely and began walking without waiting. He knew it was unfair to try and lose the git in muggle territory without even his wand for assistance, but it had been the stupid Slytherin's own decision to come along, against Harry's wishes. He wasn't about to slow down now.
Regarding the paper his father had written out for him, he followed the directions until he came to a four-story brick building that looked, from the outside, like an empty, abandoned place. Not all that surprised that muggles were walking by it with only the occasional glimpse, Harry made for the door. According to direction, he nearly had to ask the door for the occupant he wished to see and it would put him in contact with them. It was a very modern Wizard apartment building.
"Sirius Black," Harry said uncertainly.
After a slight pause, a muffled, tired sounding voice came out of nowhere. "Who's it?"
"It's Harry," he answered, his chest feeling quite constricted suddenly.
"And Draco," Malfoy added. Harry's constriction turned to hatred as he nearly turned and slapped the frail-looking boy across the face.
"Oh excellent!" Sirius didn't seem to mind Malfoy being there at all, which only served to make Harry that much more annoyed. "Come right in!"
Harry figured it must work just like St. Mungo's, so he simply walked forward and only put his arm out to make sure he didn't end up with a nasty bruise. When he melted through the blocked-off door and ended up in a very lavishly decorated lobby, he let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. This, he mused, was a far cry from 12 Grimmauld Place.
The marble floors looked as though house-elves spent all day spit polishing them and Harry nearly expected to see one come crawling across the floor with a rag. The brass chandelier, ornately decorated with crystal and flickering bits of candle, hung so impressively from its holder, which appeared to be nearly three of the four-stories high. The lobby was so ornate that Harry almost felt as if he'd stepped into first-class by accident and someone would be by quickly to usher him back behind the curtain.
Curtains were remarkably like veils, however, and he felt a sudden need to get to the fourth-four as quickly as possible. He didn't even comment as he made it to the lift, ready to close the door abruptly in Malfoy's face only to find the sneaky git had already wormed his way inside. With a disgusted grunt, Harry slammed the grate shut and pressed the wooden button marked '4'.
"Dear Merlin," Draco exclaimed as the lift began moving. "What is this contraption you've encaged me in?"
"It's a lift," Harry said shortly. "They have them at the Ministry," he added for good measure.
"Surely they don't?" Harry didn't respond. "Well, that's simply … barbaric. I can only imagine which muggle-loving sod introduced these into Wizard architecture. What's wrong with simply apparating?"
"What about those who can't apparate?"
"The Ministry of Magic is hardly the place for muggles," Draco said snottily.
"Oh, yes, well."
Satisfied the conversation was over, Harry concentrated on the reunion between him and Sirius. As excited as he was, he knew that this Sirius hadn't a clue what had happened and probably wouldn't understand quite as well as his own might have. With a little apprehension, Harry stepped off into the landing and made his way to the penthouse door, the only one on this floor, which had a knocker the size of a shrunken head.
"Harry!" The knocker said enthusiastically, nearly causing Harry and Malfoy to fall back into the lift. It beamed at him and opened the door, much to the chagrin of the black-haired boy. Sirius was just inside, rushing out in a flurry of robes and smiles and engulfing the two boys in a very ferocious hug. Harry would have fallen into it completely but Malfoy was captured in it as well and using the situation to cop feels of Harry's arse, which was something he was rather annoyed about. Harry felt obligated to kick Malfoy very hard in the shin.
"Are you two fighting again?" Sirius asked with a paternal mock-frown. "I swear the pair of you are worse than Moony and I around a full-moon." He smiled genuinely then and lead them into the flat. Harry's mouth nearly fell open as he looked around at the completely posh pad that his godfather now inhabited. He'd known Sirius's family had been wealthy, and had even inherited it himself back home, but he'd never looked at it nor any of the numbers as they hadn't mattered.
He stopped looking at the flat though and took in Sirius. Not only did he look nearly twenty years younger than the Sirius Harry remembered, he also looked like a man who had never had a hard day in his life. Even in this world Harry knew Sirius must have still rebelled against his family in order for the Marauders to exist, Sirius to be living with Professor Lupin and to not be a dark wizard, but at the same time it didn't show on his face. It was such a contrast that Harry suddenly felt homesick, and was disgusted to feel anything like it. Just for it, he gave Malfoy a nasty sneer and turned away before it was returned.
"To what do we owe the pleasure? I thought you two were off on a grand adventure for the summer?"
"We were?" Malfoy looked completely surprised and suddenly excited. "Well we should go then!"
Harry nearly growled. "Sirius, I have to talk to you about something." Harry gave Malfoy a pointed look, which was unaccepted or misunderstood. "In private," he said finally.
"What? Am I supposed to just disapparate? You still have my wand you know."
Harry merely rolled his eyes. "Which I wouldn't have if you could control yourself in public!" Harry pulled it out and handed it over, slightly reluctantly.
"They're just muggles," Malfoy said bitterly. "Not like it matters."
"Remus is out on the patio if you'd like, Draco," Sirius said, obviously ignoring the banter he was so used to.
"Professor Lupin? I should think – "
"Professor?" Sirius looked completely confused.
"It's part of what I need to discuss with you. Malfoy, just leave."
"Fine, I'll fellytone you later, then."
"Telephone," Harry said through clenched teeth.
"Yes, well." And with a slight pop, Malfoy was gone.
"Something is wrong," Sirius announced, grabbing up a tea tray that had been laying on the coffee table. "Let's go into your room and talk."
"We always talk there," Sirius said with only a slight concern in his features.
Harry followed him down a hallway lined with portraits and photos, most of them of family events including Harry and his parents and sister. He found one, a picture of Sirius and Remus at what appeared to be their wedding ceremony and stopped to look at it. The two of them looked so happy that it nearly broke Harry's heart to think of the two of them as reality would have had it. This was all so good, how could it be true?
When he finally entered 'his' room, he was shocked to find the most amazing room he'd ever seen. Since it was a wizard's apartment, there were no muggle electric devices anywhere, but otherwise it was about as cool as any room Harry had ever been in. It was loaded with all the comforts of the Gryffindor common room, including a large fireplace that was surrounded by red velvet armchairs and a large, luxurious carpet. The bed was king sized, enough to fit everyone in his dorm without having to touch, and loaded with pillows and comforters so glitzy looking Harry wondered how he ever slept in them. The walls were adorned with more posters of Quidditch teams, wizard bands and even a picture of the entire Gryffindor house standing in front of Hogwarts. It was amazing. Harry closed his mouth and drooped into a chair opposite Sirius, who had sat sideways in his own with his legs swooping lazily over the arm.
"So what's the big issue?" he asked contentedly, seemingly assured it was to do with the latest lovers quarrel between Harry and Malfoy.
"Well, something odd happened the other day and it seems Malfoy and I were – " Harry stopped, unsure how to go about this. "Well you see, I got this ring…"
"Oh HARRY!" Sirius jumped up and moved over to him, grabbing his arm up like a woman just dying to see someone's engagement ring. It only took Harry a few moments to realize Sirius thought that's just what he was doing. "It's … Interesting," he said after a moment. "I would have expected a diamond or something."
Harry yanked his hand back exasperatedly. "It's not an engagement ring!"
"Oh." He looked dejected, but sat back down and went about arranging the tea. "I simply thought it was the most logical thing, what with you talking about rings." Sirius was positively pouting and Harry was so shocked he almost didn't know how to go on. This was definitely not the Sirius he was used to.
"I'm sorry, but it's just that I'm not gay and I don't like – "
"You're not what?"
"I'm not – "
"Now Harry, that isn't funny."
"But – "
"No. I will not let my godson toy with another boy's affections like that. Draco simply adores you and has for ages. You've had your fights, but that is no reason to go about deciding to change your sexual orientation."
"But, Sirius if you'd just – "
"I'll hear nothing more of it. You make up with him at once." Sirius had made a cup of tea for him and was holding it out, his expression grave and set. "Now, did you catch the Cannons last week? Can you believe what Newcombe is up to these days? That feint! It's the most ingenious thing I've ever seen!"
"Sirius please!" Harry said desperately. "I have to explain!" When his godfather merely closed his mouth, gained a flat-face and nodded, Harry went on. "It's not that I'm toying with Malfoy, Sirius. I've never been gay. You see," he said quickly, cutting the man off before he could protest further. "I'm not the same Harry!"
"Not the same? How do you mean?"
"Well, this," he said, pointing around him. "All of this is different. Where I come from, or, when I come from, or whatever – You were in Azkaban for murder for – "
"Murder? Who would I murder?"
"Well you see, they thought you'd murdered Pettigrew and a bunch of muggles, but as it turns out it was actually Pettigrew who did the murder and faked his own to frame you after he'd gotten my parents killed." Sirius gave Harry a very odd expression, as if he'd suddenly grown two extra heads and the others were shouting out sonnets of love of armchairs. "It's true! This ring is why I remember. You see, Malfoy, in the future, apparently went back in time and … "
Harry explained everything, watching as Sirius took it all in with something quite like disdain and fear. He knew that Sirius didn't fully believe him, but he told him anyway. When he finished, he added, "You can owl my father and he'll confirm it. Even Malfoy will tell you!" Sirius continued to look doubtful, but Harry had nothing further to offer.
"I will definitely be speaking with your parents," he said finally. "As a matter of fact, maybe we should all go to your house right now." Harry shook his head and rolled his eyes, something he'd only ever done around Malfoy, and followed as Sirius led him to the patio to fetch Professor Lupin. Without even explaining, Lupin accompanied them as they all apparated to the Potter house.
After nearly an hour of discussion, Harry was tired of talking about it. He'd skipped lunch and was quite hungry, so his mum gave him a plate of sandwiches and sent him up to his room to have a nap. Normally he might have contested this, but he felt like it was a good idea. His body didn't, so instead he found himself cleaning up and organizing everything. As he was going through his desk drawers, he found something he'd never thought he'd see; a love letter to Draco Malfoy, written by him. Enclosed with it was a drawing that Harry had apparently done of Malfoy recently, showing Malfoy stretched out on a field wearing only trousers and looking languid. Harry grunted and threw the drawing aside, morbid curiosity causing him to peruse the letter.
"My Dearest Draco,
I know I've only just seen you today, but after what we've done I felt I had to write you to tell you just how beautiful I think you are. And to show you, I even drew this of you from memory so you could see how you look in my eyes."
It was all Harry could read before he felt slightly sick. He knew it wasn't that Malfoy was a boy, as he'd thought earlier, but simply that it was Malfoy. Harry had never really thought about boys or girls much; he was usually too busy. Honestly he didn't know, nor did he care if he were gay or not. Since his parents thought he was, obviously it wouldn't matter. It was something to worry about another day.
Tossing the letter back into the drawer along with the drawing, he quickly closed it and pretended he'd never seen the damning parchment that implied he'd done terribly intimate things with the slimy blond git.
With that, a nap suddenly felt like a good release.
He awoke slowly, the late afternoon light streaming through his window wasn't nearly as direct as the morning light, so he felt a little less pummeled, but was still groggy enough to be annoyed at having to wake up. With a little effort, Harry managed to make his way down to the phone and had it at his ear before he realized it could be Malfoy again.
"Hello? Harry?" The voice was too normal to be Malfoy, so Harry let loose a sigh and smiled. It was none other than –
"Yeah mate, good to hear your voice too. Man, I'm tellin' ya, Ginny was all in a twist when she got back the other day. I thought you were supposed to be in Paris for the summer?"
"Bit of a change of plans," Harry said with only all the irony lost on Ron. He suddenly wondered just when he and Malfoy were supposed to have left for this trip anyway.
"Well that's brilliant. Maybe you could come down here for a week end or something. Mum's dying to see ya." Harry could just picture Ron's freckled face and he was so happy to have his best mate to talk to. "Hermione's been here nearly every day, so maybe you and Draco could come along with us on a double or something."
Harry groaned. "Please don't mention him."
"Oh man, are you two at it again?" He could just picture Ron shaking his head. "Honestly mate, you need counseling. You're the worst couple I've ever met. Mum knows a good witch in Hogsmeade who'd be willing to have a chat with you. She's suggested it a number of times."
"It's not that – we're… not together."
"You broke it off? Harry you love him! You were just telling me the other week…"
"No, I don't love him."
"But – "
"Leave it. I don't."
"Alright, whatever you say. Hey Ginny! Harry broke it off with Malfoy! She wants to talk to you now."
"Harry! Is it true?"
Harry was a bit taken aback, but he answered, "Yeah," anyway.
"Are you sure this time? It's not like you've not done it before."
"Yeah, I'm sure," he said with certainty.
"Excellent! I can have my go at him!"
Harry balked. "What?"
"Oh c'mon, Harry! You know I've fancied him for ages!"
"Oh, right, sure." She was laughing now. "What's so funny?"
"I'm only teasing you, git. Ron! Leave it!"
"Gerrof! Sorry 'bout that. She's a bit annoying, that one." Harry could hear more struggling as the phone was apparently fought over, and then suddenly Mrs. Weasley's voice came in and silenced the rest of them. "What the devil is going on here? You put that fellytone down right now, Ginerva Weasley! Harry dear? Ron will have to talk to you later. I'm afraid he's going to be busy with chores for a while."
"Thanks, Mrs. Weasley," Harry said with only a slight laugh. Harry hung the phone up and made his way to the living room, where Sarah was only just jumping into a chair and trying to look as though she'd been there all afternoon. "You were listening."
"You were yelling," she admonished. "It's not my fault if I were in the next room and happened to overhear you." She looked annoyed, but softened a little and asked; "Did you really break it off with him?"
"That's just it, there wasn't anything to break off. He isn't my boyfriend where I come from."
She looked pensive for a few minutes, obviously not sure how to phrase her next question. For a moment, Harry forgot he was looking into the eyes of a fifteen-year-old as she looked so much like his mother with the exception of her hazel eyes. She was obviously very intelligent and well beyond her years.
"I know you're supposed to come from this other place where everything happened differently, but mum and dad wouldn't tell me exactly what happened. Will you tell me?"
"It's a bit scary, I suppose," he said nervously. How do you tell someone they don't exist? Or, well, didn't? Do. Now. Maybe. It was all so confusing, so Harry stumbled with it for a few minutes trying to organize his thoughts. He eventually decided to forego trying to get the correct use of grammar involved and just started.
"You see there was this man, called Tom Riddle, and he married a witch. I don't know her name, but she was a descendant of Salazar Slytherin, that we do know. Anyway, she became pregnant and had his baby, but she died in the process and he disowned her and his son before this, leaving the baby to be raised in a muggle orphanage." Sarah screwed up her face and shuddered, as if the thought was so revolting it hurt her. Harry continued the story up to the part where he was born, and then he started to have second thoughts. "I don't know if I should tell you all this," he said nervously.
"Oh c'mon! It's not like it doesn't concern me! You're my brother and they're my parents too!" She looked very upset, tired of being thought of as a little girl and obviously struggling with it every day. Harry could see she was intelligent and felt obligated to continue, despite his concerns.
"Fine, fine," he acquiesced. "There was a prophecy involved that proclaimed that a baby born on my birthday would kill Voldemort, and only one other baby was born that day; Neville Longbottom."
"Neville? He's adorable," she added, seemingly expecting Harry to agree. When he didn't, she just gave him a look and waited for him to continue.
"Right, well, anyway, Voldemort thought it was me who was the problem so he decided to have me killed. Mum and dad wanted Sirius to be the secret-keeper, but he thought it was too obvious so he made them choose Pettigrew."
"Oh Peter!" Sarah said happily. "He's such a nice man."
Harry made a face and said, "Well, not where I come from. See, he was working for Voldemort, and he was the one who told him where to find us." Sarah's face dropped. "Voldemort killed dad, and then mum when she wouldn't move out of the way so he could kill me." Sarah looked distraught, but not terribly so; more like a woman who was hearing a story written about an event she hoped would never come to pass. Better than Harry thought she would have taken it, so he continued. "She died to save me, and apparently that's why Voldemort couldn't kill me. Instead, I only got this scar and some of his power."
"So the Minister of Magic is an evil Dark Lord who killed our parents?"
"Well as I've said, he wasn't minister in my world."
Sarah looked thoughtful for a minute and then said, "Wait! If they died when you were a baby, then I – "
"Wasn't born," they finished together. Harry gave her a sad look and she returned it.
"So you didn't even know me?" He shook his head. "That's horrible. I mean, I know sometimes I wish you'd just go away, but usually only when you're being a terrible prat. Even then I don't really want you gone."
"Well, if it helps, I think I'd like you as a sister."
"Well, I am now, aren't I?"
"Yeah, I suppose you are." Harry was smiling as the realization finally hit him. This was his sister. He had a sister!
"Well then, take my advice; don't break it off with Draco."
"What is it with all of you wanting me with that git? Where I come from, he's insufferable and annoying!"
"Well he is here, too, but you get along so well." She made a mocking face that pointed out that she was making fun of him and he threw a very handy pillow at her. She giggled and threw it back, causing him to smile.
"I don't even think I'm gay, Sarah," he said more soberly.
"Well, don't you know?"
"Not really," he admitted. "It's not like I've had a lot of time to think about it." He started to now, though. "I had a crush on this girl Cho in fourth year, and we tried to sort it out in fifth after… Well, after Cedric, her boyfriend was killed." Sarah looked enthralled, completely caught up in Harry's rambling. "That turned out to be a great big mess, though. I've just not had time to deal with girls since."
"But don't you ever think about them? You know, when you're…" Sarah looked a little upset thinking about her brother doing anything sexual, but she rolled her hands around suggestively anyway, hoping she wouldn't have to say it.
Harry blushed. "Er, that's not really something I… That is to say…"
"Harry," she said with frustration. "I'm fifteen; I know all about what you boys get up to with the curtains pulled." Harry blushed again, and she just laughed at him.
"Well, honestly that is kind of personal."
"You're trying to figure out if you're gay. How much more personal can you be?"
Harry sighed. "I don't know." He lolled his head back against the chair, defeated. He was happy to be here and have everything so normal, and even happy that his worst problem right now be whether he was gay or not, but at the same time he was tired of everyone trying to force him to love Malfoy. "I do know that Malfoy is the same here as he was there; the same horrible, sniveling little brat who serves the Dark Lord and fancies himself my enemy. Or, at least he did until the other day."
"When he came here, you mean?"
"Yeah, and now suddenly he's okay with us being boyfriends." Harry had an epiphany. "I know why! It's because he thinks I can get him home!" Relief flooded him. Malfoy wasn't gay! He just wanted to use Harry to get back to the world where everything was going his way. Having solved that riddle, which fit better into his perspective of things, he felt himself relax for the first time in days.
"That sounds so … Slytherin," Sarah said doubtfully.
"Well, he is a Slytherin," Harry said. "He was horrified to find out he's a Hufflepuff here." Harry laughed. The idea of Malfoy being a Hufflepuff was somewhat funny, and suddenly he was actually looking forward to seeing Malfoy just so he could tease him incessantly.
"This is taking far too long," Draco announced, his voice ragged from the lack of sleep.
"Well you didn't expect it to be done overnight, did you?" Hermione was tired as well, and a bit sick of listening to Draco whine. She rubbed the back of her neck to try and get the kinks out and was only slightly alarmed when Blaise came over and began to massage her shoulders and neck for her. It wasn't often that she felt anyone else touching her, but knowing he was gay made her feel a little better.
"No, not overnight, but it's been weeks." Draco was currently pacing, which Hermione had been surprised he could do considering. The surprise had worn off after the first hour, and that was nearly three days ago. "Can't you two stop flirting and get on with it?"
"Draco! I am not flirting," Zabini said with a hint of maliciousness in his voice. Draco cocked an eyebrow at them and continued to pace. "Besides which it's getting harder to get more books out from the library when the Ministry is already watching us."
"Sod the Ministry," Draco said forcefully. "Once we do this, it won't matter anymore. They should be grateful! I'm trying to save the whole world here!"
"You're doing no such thing, Draco. Don't play at being selfless; it doesn't suit you." Hermione sighed and brushed Blaise's hands away, contented to continue with her book. And that's when she saw it; the spell they needed. "I've found it!"