Title: Saving Connor

Summary: AU, eventual HP/DM slash, (very) Slytherin!Harry. Harry's brother Connor is the Boy-Who-Lived, and Harry has devoted himself to protecting him—by being ordinary. But certain people aren't content to let Harry hide in the shadows.

Warnings: Much more for language and violence than for sex. But it will be slash, so don't read it if if you don't like that sort of thing.

Notes: Okay, this is the first chapter of what will be, I hope, a long and complicated retelling of Harry's youth in an alternative world. There will be events, places, and people familiar from canon, but I'm not going to follow the storyline of the books completely, or even closely in many places. (There will be characters and objects mentioned from HBP in the sixth year analogue, but probably by the time I get to Harry's sixth year you'll either have read the bookor given up on the story). I've always enjoyed stories where Harry has a sibling who supposedly saved the world, and stories where Harry's Sorted into Slytherin, but most of the time all the characters except Harry wind up as caricatures of themselves. This is my attempt at writing a Slytherin Harry who's not necessarily evil, and a Snape and Draco who may be good but not nice, and a sibling (Harry's twin brother Connor) who's his own person.

I hope to do 500 words a day on it and update whenever I have a chapter completed. Feel free to kick me if I don't. I want to carry this through.

Disclaimer: The recognizable people, places, events, and spells in this story do not belong to me, but to J. K. Rowling. I'm not making a profit off this story involving them, nor claiming ownership of them.

Chapter One: Brother's Keeper

"What are your vows, Harry?"

Harry knew what they were, even though he was only five. He whispered them as his mother held him over his brother's bed, and his mother said them with him, murmured hypnotic words that Harry had heard his whole life.

"To keep Connor safe. To always protect him. To insure that he lives as untroubled a life as he can, until he has to face Lord Voldemort again." There was the pause for breath that his mother always took, as though she were frightened. Harry waited until she started speaking again, and then joined his voice to hers. "To be his brother and his friend and his guardian. To love him. To never compete with him, never show him up, and never let anyone else know that I'm so close to him. To be ordinary, so that he can be extraordinary."

Harry remembered stumbling on that last word, back on his and his brother's birthday, when his mother had first coached him into saying it and not just listening to her say it. He'd never asked what it meant, though. His parents thought he was smarter than he really was, sometimes. But now he wanted to know, so he turned around as his mother bore him towards the other bed and asked.

"Mum, what does extraordinary mean?"

Lily Evans Potter hesitated for a long moment, looking down at Harry as though she didn't know how to answer that. Then she smiled faintly, and shook her head, and sat on the bed beside him. Harry wriggled under the covers. He kept his eyes on her face, never taking them off. They both had eyes the same extreme, bright green, while Connor and their father James shared bright hazel eyes. Harry considered, in the secret box of his thoughts where he put everything he couldn't say aloud, that he and his mother had a special bond because they had the same eyes. He knew it wasn't really true, of course, not when Connor was the Boy-Who-Lived, but Harry liked to pretend, sometimes.

Lily smoothed back his fringe from the scar on Harry's forehead, absently. It was shaped like a lightning bolt. Harry knew how he'd gotten the scar—from a bit of falling rock when Voldemort attacked, on that horrible night he couldn't quite remember, when Lily and James had been lured away from home by the idea that their twin sons had already been kidnapped. Voldemort had stamped in, and shot the Avada Kedavra curse at Connor, and Connor had deflected it and destroyed him. He had a cut shaped like a heart on his forehead, a curse scar.

Thinking about that night, Harry realized he knew the meaning of "extraordinary" even before Lily whispered it to him.

"It means—special, Harry. It means not ordinary. It means standing out from the crowd." She hesitated again, as though she didn't know how to speak the next words.

"And I have to be ordinary, so that Connor can be special," said Harry, nodding. He understood. His little brother would need help from him. It wasn't an easy destiny, Lily had explained to him every day, being the one expected to defeat Lord Voldemort from scratch. Voldemort wasn't really gone, and would come back someday. Connor had to be ready for that day, had to concentrate, which was another word that Harry had learned early. So Harry would help him concentrate by being ordinary.

He didn't know just how that would work yet, but he would find out. Whenever he looked over at Connor, he felt a fierce surge of love for his little brother. Connor was special, and he was going to be special. Harry would help him.

When he glanced back at his mother, she was smiling at him, that secret little smile that only the two of them shared. She nodded, whispered, "Yes, Harry, that's it exactly," and kissed him before she stood and walked out of the room.

And Harry knew then, in a rush of joy, that their special bond wasn't fake after all. His mum trusted him to take care of his little brother. That was important. That was special.

He turned and bowed in the direction of Connor's bed, a gesture he'd learned about from an old story his godfather had told him the other day. "I'll protect you, Connor," he said. "I'll be your knight, and you can be king."

Connor sighed in his sleep.

Harry grinned, knowing he wouldn't wake up—Connor was too heavy a sleeper for that—and closed his eyes.

"Good try, Harry! You almost caught the Snitch."

Harry grinned and landed lightly, stabbing his feet into the dirt so that he wouldn't accidentally take off again. He loved to fly so much that he was quite capable of shooting himself up to the sky without meaning to. "Thanks, Connor," he said, climbing off the broom and nodding to his brother. "I'll keep trying. I'm sure with you for a coach, it won't take me long to get better."

Connor, already off his own broom, bounced over and messed up Harry's hair, not that it needed the help. "You'll get better," he said. "Next match." Then he tossed the fluttering Snitch into the air, ran over to his broom, leaped on it, and started chasing the little golden ball.

Harry leaned back on the sun-warmed grass and watched. Connor was already fifty feet off the ground, then sixty. Then he spiraled down in a daring dive that just missed the Snitch and the grass both. He pulled out of it, and Harry let out an anxious little breath. He'd showed his brother how to do the dive himself, because Connor had to be a good flyer, but he couldn't help the dread in his throat just in case this was the time that Connor crashed.

A hand fell on his shoulder, and Harry rolled his head back, smiling when he saw who it was. "I didn't know you were here, Padfoot," he said, and sat up to hug Sirius. His godfather hugged him back, one-armed, and sat down beside him. His eyes were also on Connor. Firmly convinced that that was the way it should be, Harry leaned against Sirius and closed his eyes.

"James wanted to take your mother out somewhere private," said Sirius finally, and then leered at Harry.

"Sirius! Ew." Harry wrinkled up his nose. He didn't really want to think about his parents having sex. Their eleventh birthday was tomorrow, and they would receive their Hogwarts letters then. Harry knew that his parents were probably feeling anxious about this last month before they had to let Connor go out into the big wide wizarding world, but he would just as soon not know what they were doing to settle their nerves.

Sirius messed up his hair in turn. Harry was resigned to it by now. "Anyway," Sirius added, "they wanted someone here to look after you. Just in case."

Harry stiffened and drew away. "I look after Connor," he said. "That's what I do."

Sirius smiled gently at him. "I know, Harry, but Connor's still a child." He sighed and looked up as Connor missed the Snitch and flipped his broomstick half upside-down to chase after it. "And even though Peter—" he spat the name "—is in Azkaban, there are other Death Eaters who might be looking for a chance to harm him."

Harry nodded. He knew all about the Death Eaters. His parents had given him the names of the ones they knew for certain and had him study their families and their powers, and practice a few essential spells until he was almost good enough to stop Death Eaters. Almost, Harry repeated to himself. He wanted to think he was good enough, already, but that was hard to say until he actually faced a Death Eater in battle. Besides, he had to practice in secret. He was a little quicker than Connor to pick up spells, sometimes, and he couldn't embarrass or show up his brother.

A little quicker, that's all, he protested, and leaned back again to watch Connor once again catch the madly fluttering Snitch. And I'm a little quicker on the broom, too, but I always hold myself just under his speed. He'll never know. And no one else ever will, either. They'll all think he's the best.

That pleased Harry. Quite apart from giving Connor his place in the sunshine—which was what he deserved, after being marked for death by Voldemort—the extra advantages would come in handy someday. A Death Eater who thought Harry was slow on a broom might underestimate him, and then Harry would slam into him and take anyone trying to hurt his brother down.

"Merlin, Harry, you act like the weight of the world is on your shoulders sometimes," said Sirius, breaking his reverie. "Are you all right?"

Harry hunched for a moment, then relaxed. He reminded himself that Sirius, and Remus too, thought that he was just being earnest and childish when he talked about protecting his brother. They didn't know the truth, like his mum did. No one would know the truth. Harry would be ordinary.

"I'm fine," he said. "And I'm not carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. That's for Connor."

Sirius's face softened, and he once again watched Connor until he caught the Snitch. "He's going to have a rough road ahead of him," he agreed.

Not as rough as it could be, Harry promised himself, drawing his knees up to his chin and putting his arms around them. I'll always be at your right shoulder, Connor. I've got your back, and no one will see me until they try to hurt you and I hurt them instead.

It was life. It was a way to be ordinary and yet ready to defend the Boy-Who-Lived. It was a way to make sure that Connor survived.

Harry listened to his twin, destined for a life of hardship and pain, laugh, and couldn't imagine anything he wouldn't sacrifice to keep that laughter intact.