Disclaimer: None of this is mine. I'm not making any money (trust me) off of this. All belong to JK Rowling and Warner Brothers.

A/N: I will probably revise this for flow once more and what not, and if you have any suggestions I will gladly take them into consideration.

Chapter 1: I suppose you could consider this a prologue.

The sky was long past silencing the violent colors of sundown and the crickets were well into play when Harry James Potter apparated just outside the back fence. Vaulting the garden wall, he saw that practically all the lights in the house were on and several silhouettes could be seen dancing in the windows.

"Shit," he breathed. How could he have forgotten about his father's birthday party?

Staying carefully in the shadows and out of view of any guests glancing upon the lawn, he limped to the cellar door. Some nasty curse seemed to have fractured his kneecap and landing the way he did off the fence hadn't helped much. No matter; he'd get his mother to heal it up soon enough. But for now, it hurt like a mother.

He reached the outside entrance to the cellars and pressed his ear to the wooden door. Confident no one was currently making a wine run, he whispered "Alohamora," and entered. To his left was a room in which his parents had thrown some old patio furniture several years ago and forgotten about. It had since served Harry's purposes well.

"Twilly," he whispered as he stepped into the room and shut the door. With a crack, a wrinkled little house-elf with big brown eyes wearing a cut-up tea towel like a parka appeared. "Fetch me a change of robes—erm, Quidditch ones—and don't let anyone see you or know what you're doing."

"Yes, M-Master Harry James," she stammered before quickly disappearing.

Harry sat gingerly upon one of the deck chairs, being very sore from the evening's activities. I'll probably have to obliviate Twilly again soon, he thought. She really knows too much.

The house elf reappeared in the room with another snap, this time her arms laden with blue and gold practice robes. Harry pointed to a table, indicating that she should leave them there.

"Go back to your business and tell no-one about any of this."

Training really had been invigorating this evening. Last time they had gone over stunners and obliviating spells (which he had perfected by the age of fifteen for his own devices). But tonight, they got to try something slightly more…sinister. Smiling wryly at the thought, he began to rub his robes against the clean ones he was now wearing so they would match the rest of him. He then took his black robes and matching mask, cast a cleaning charm upon them, and placed them in a box with a few other personal items in the dankest corner of the abandoned storage room. He placed a concealment charm on it then left.

Yes, tonight really had been exhilarating, he thought as he walked down the little hallway. They were shown a new spell—sectumsempra—and were told to practice it on whomever they liked. At the end of the hour, whoever was left alive would make it to the next meeting.

"Use only Sectumsempra and blocking spells," the instructor had said in his deep, nasally voice. "This is also a test of obedience." The clocktower tolled six, and they began. It couldn't have been more than five minutes before someone cast the first unforgivable. Harry glanced up at the instructor, but he gave no sign of noticing the spell.

At the end of the hour, the instructor had them line up before him. There wasn't a single person not covered in dirt and blood.

"Seventy-six," he said. "103 of you arrived here tonight, and only seventy-six of you remain. That means that some of you became killers tonight." Harry looked around. Some looked ready to be sick, while others were positively beaming. He hadn't killed anyone; would he be punished for that?

"You four," the instructor beckoned, selecting four from the line. They came forward. "Avada Kedavra," he positively purred, and the first man dropped. The other three plus a few who hadn't been selected began to run for it, but the instructor quickly took them down. "They were cowards," he explained simply. "Now," he continued, and pulled twenty-two more from the line. Harry's heart dropped to his muddied shoes as he was selected. "You were the only ones who followed orders. Stand aside. The rest of you will clean this field and burn the bodies, without magic."

As Harry turned the door handle to enter the party, he wondered vaguely whether Dumbledore realized that the Dark Lord now had enough volunteers to be… selective.

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Harry had arrived late and somewhat dazed yet again. "He's going to be the death of Lily at this rate." Lupin mumbled to himself. He was sitting on a bench in the dinning room, which was very full at the moment due to the buffet spread out to the birthday guests. From where he was seated though, he happened to have a nice view into the kitchen and had just seen Harry come out of the cellars. His Quidditch robes were muddied and he himself seemed to be a bit cut up, but Remus knew well enough that practice would have ended hours ago.

"Harry James!" Lily cried from the other side of the room. "We were all so worried, where have you been?" Remus managed to catch something about practice running late before the pair was swallowed by a swarm of middle-aged Quidditch fanatics. Lily could be so blind.

Remus set his drink on the window sill. It must have been about four years ago, he thought; Harry would have been fifteen and home for the summer holidays.

Yes, James had flooed to Lupin's little house in the Trossachs wearing a poorly disguised worried and puzzled expression. Remus had put his book down and to gaze at his friend as he tided himself up from his trip. No Sirius, he thought, for it was highly unusual to see one of those two without the other, even so long after their school days.

"Hello, James."

"Oh, hello," James replied, fiddling with something in his pocket.

"You say that like you didn't expect to find me here." Something is up…

"I just had a, err, a question."

"Yes? You can sit down, you know."

James sat down on the coffee table, of all places, his hands still in his pockets. "Well, ah, earlier, I was looking for a spare snitch—I was going to wake Harry, see if he wanted to practice." Lupin cursed inwardly. Harry hates Quidditch. "Well, anyway, you know that old storage room?" He was still shifting about uncomfortably.

"James, you and Lily probably have somewhere around eleven storage rooms in that manor of yours."

"The one in the cellars with all the old patio furniture."

"Yes…"

"Well, I was looking for a snitch."

"You already said that."

"Well, I um, I didn't find any snitches."

"Calm down and get to the point." He said, putting on his best Dumbledore face.

"I found this." He took his hand out of his right pocket to reveal two capped syringes. Lupin swallowed hard. He had been around enough unsavory characters in his work to know what those were.

"Remus—Moony—what are they?" He asked as if he didn't really want to know. James was a well-bred pure blood. He wouldn't know of such muggle filth. But he obviously had an idea of what they were; he had to have come to Remus with this so as not to scare Lily for a reason.

Lupin took the syringes from his old friend's opened hand. "They're muggle drugs, but I don't know exactly what kind." James seemed to appear somewhat relieved. Drugs—he would know what they were. There were wizarding 'drugs,' and Lupin didn't doubt that James and Sirius had played around with a few a time or two before (he could remember an incidence in particular involving the Giant Squid). Wizarding drugs were different, however. They, too, were illegal, but for the most part, all they did was make the user act stupidly. A sort of tickling sensation in one's brain with no real side effects. Not like this rubbish he held in his hand now. "No James, these aren't like what you're thinking of. These are bad—serious consequences could come from—"

But James already heard more than he wanted to hear. "Oh, alright then. That—that's what I needed to know. Well, I'll see you at dinner Sunday evening? Callen McInty is coming down so we're having haggis and 'tatties' or something like that." He was already at the fire place with floo powder in his hands.

"I'll be there," Remus sighed.

"Well, we'll see you then." He threw the powder in and had come and gone as quick as that.

Lupin conjured up a cup of tea and shook his head. James would dispose of the drugs as soon as he got home, but that would be the end of it. He would buy a new set of Quidditch balls so he never had an excuse to go into that store room again and he could tell himself it was over. Just like that. He might even still wake Harry for that game afterward.

The syringes were Harry's, there was no doubt about that. And now that Lupin thought about it, it would be easy enough for darling little Harry James to get his hands on such things. All he had to do was step out side the Leakey or, even easier, make a little stop in town when he visited his muggle grandmother later in the summer.

But James would pretend not to know and Lily would never know and darling little Harry James would continue on with his father's unfulfilled Quidditch dreams. No one would ever know the Potters were unhappy, and it wasn't Remus Lupin's place to interfere with that.

He sucked on the lip of his tea mug for a moment before shifting his thoughts to the backburner and returning to the party.

-----------

Lily clicked her tongue. "Now, how did you say this happened?" She was pulling a basket down from one of the shelves in her bathroom closet. She rummaged around a bit and then took out a roll of gauze and a pink tube and went over to where her son was.

"A bludger in the knee." He said from where he was sitting on the bathroom counter, his robes pulled up to his thighs.

She clicked her tongue again and began winding the gauze around said knee, earning a few winces from her son. Then she murmured the simple healing spell under her breath and moved onto the next injury. "And this?" She asked, referring to a particularly nasty cut along his chin.

"Some of the reinforcement is peeling off my broom handle. I've left it with Reeves in the shop."

Lily chuckled and spread some of the pink ointment on his chin. "I half expected you to say that you had run into one of those spikes on the banister at the Longbottoms' again. Neville is here, by the way. So are the Patil twins, that McLaggen boy, half the Weasley children, Lee Jordan, Alicia Spinnet, Oliver Wood, Hermione Granger—she's interning at St. Mungo's now, did you know? Oh, and Katie Bell—"

"Invite the whole bloody Tower, did you Mum?" Harry mumbled.

"Well, I just thought you might like to interact with people your own age for once, Harry James. You haven't seen any of your friends since you've graduated." She snapped. "Your father is still close to Peter and Sirius and Remus. Why don't you just go out for drinks with Cormac some time or take Hermione to dinner or something?"

"McLaggen's a jerk."

"And Hermione?" Harry raised an eyebrow. "You're right, she is a bit uptight, isn't she? Well, plenty of other fish in the sea." Lily sighed. "Yes, the rest of these scrapes look alright, and that one on your chin is nearly gone now. Go shower and change, and please be downstairs again before the party's over." She patted him on the shoulder and he pulled his robes back down and left.

Lily was putting the basket back into her closet when James came up behind her and wrapped his arm around her waist.

"Quidditch injuries?" He asked. She nodded. "All patched up now?" She nodded again. He closed the closet door for her and whispered in her ear, "I think it's time for another martini, and I want to make it for you."

"Well, I suppose since you're not quite drunk yet…" She said with a smile playing around her face. The couple returned to the party.

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Ginny Weasley was sitting on a bench in the foyer of the Georgian-style manor, butter beer in hand, with most of the other party guests her age. None of them really knew any of the Potters very well, aside from Neville, but one just doesn't turn down an invitation to a party like this. Lily and James were very well known throughout the wizarding community, being on a first-name basis with the Minister and all (who, she noted, was currently losing very badly at billiards and apparently had a rather nice taste for Bourbon whiskey), and, well, Harry James was first-string seeker for Puddlemere—the youngest in the league—wasn't he? That was enough to get all of them here, she supposed, though Hermione had probably come just for a peek into the library or something dull like that.

"Harry James is here!" Ron exclaimed upon returning from his trip to the bar. He looked star struck and not quite sober. The expression suited his personality well, Ginny noted with bemusement.

"He lives here, Ron." Alicia said, her eyes rolling. "And pass me one of those would you?" Ron handed her a drink.

"Did you get his autograph?" Katie asked eagerly.

"Say, you didn't! We're guests here, not spectators." Parvati looked positively mortified.

"No, he looked really beat up though. Limping and everything!" Ron was grinning from ear to ear, still standing with about six drinks in his hands.

"Don't sound so happy about it." Ginny said, but he didn't seem to hear.

"He was in his Puddlemere practice robes, so I guess he's jus gotten back from practice." He continued as he began to pass around the drinks.

Alicia seemed to be in a particularly vicious mood this evening. "Nooo, you think?"

"He should begin training with the national team soon now though, huh?" Ron asked, still unabashed.

Just then the twins returned to the foyer.

"I don't know if even he will be able to save the English this year." George took a seat next to Ginny and Fred took one by Alicia, though perhaps that was not the smartest move.

"But Puddlemere is league champion!"

"We, know, Ron. You've been saying so since we got here." Alicia pushed Fred's hand off her knee.

"So, how are things at the kiddie table?" Fred asked.

"No more interesting than when you left." Katie slumped off her chair and onto the floor.

"These parties are really more for the, erm, middle aged." Neville said.

"I can see that."

"Well, did you two find anything interesting to do?"

"We had a nice long talk with Sirius Black himself."

"None of which is your business."

"Way to be a conversation killer, Fred."

Ginny laughed and went to take another sip of her drink, but stopped—Harry James was standing in the doorway, freshly washed and cutting a very imposing figure, despite his height (or lack thereof). The room became abruptly silent and Ron whipped around to found himself nose-to-nose with the seeker.

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Ron Weasley's breath stank of the gin and tonic he was drinking. He and Harry stood nearly an inch apart for a moment before he tripped backward. Harry could see his sister in the corner; she looked like she might die of embarrassment. Inwardly, he rolled his eyes. He had known all these people for years. Granted, he had never really been friends with them, but now that he was signed on to Puddlemere, they all acted so strangely.

"Hello," Parvati said, but somewhere between the unnatural tone of her voice and the batting of her eyelashes, she came across a little too strongly. Her sister stomped on her foot and Harry blushed a little, though more out of pity than anything.

"Err, having a good time, are you?" He asked as he sat down on the steps with his hands in his pockets.

"Oh, yes."

"Wonderful, wonderful."

"Great party."

"Yeah."

Brilliant, they're all liars now too. He was beginning to regret not 'accidentally' slipping in the shower and suffering a concussion.

Just as he expected, before long they were all asking for autographs and pictures and for him to recount that time he did the Wronski Feint against the Montrose Magpies and Parvati had even managed to stop blushing. They were enthralled, but it wasn't exactly a good time for Harry. This wasn't friendship, it was fan worship. For him it was more like walking into the Three Broom Sticks on a Hogwarts weekend than anything.

Around two A.M. he excused himself, saying that he had to be up early for practice in the morning, which was the truth. He had to be at the Puddlemere grounds for seven to practice finding that God-forsaken snitch.

He found his dad, who most definitely had had too much to drink by now, sitting on the back porch with what remained of the over-thirty party. It was just the marauders now, each one wasted, aside from Lupin.

"Happy birthday, Dad."

"Thank you, thank you, and many many many more to come and all that, right-o." He stood up to give Harry a one-armed hug.

"Harry James, m'boy! Haven'a seen you all night!" Sirius slurred out.

"Hello Sirius, and Peter and Remus, while I'm at it." Lupin nodded and Peter gave a 'hic.'

"Sit down, Harry," Lupin said. "And turn on the lights, would you?" Harry turned on the lights but didn't sit down.

"Yes, yes, how waser practice son?"

For a split second, Harry was going to tell them how the practice he had been to that evening had been; they wouldn't remember it in the morning. But Lupin was sober.Damn it. Lupin had a way of always ruining things like that.

"Actually, I need to get to bed. Practice again in the morning." Harry's right leg gave an involuntary kick at the Adirondack chair behind him. Lupin eyed him suspiciously. "Well, erm, goodnight then."

"G'night, Harry James! And God save the Queen!"

"'Cause 'cause 'cause no one else will!" Finished Peter, giggling uncontrollably.

I really need to move out…

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"Oh, bloody hell." James mumbled as he pulled his pillow over his face. The party had been great last night; he only remembered the first half of it, but judging by the size of his headache, the second half must have been pretty damn good too. He lay there for a few minutes more before rolling over to see the time.

"It's 1:07 in the afternoon." A voice said before he could crack an eye open toward the clock.

James had scrambled to the other side of the bed before his groggy brain realized whose voice it was. "Oh, God," He muttered in surprise.

"Albus will do, thank you." Professor Dumbledore replied, his smile apparent in his voice. James squinted his eyes against the afternoon sun to see his old headmaster standing in the doorway.

"Hello, Professor. I'm err, afraid you've caught me at my…scruffiest." He said feeling the stubble along his chin and suddenly realizing that he was only wearing his boxers. He pulled a bath robe from the stool at the end of the bed and put it on before getting up to greet his guest properly.

"How are you this after-lunch?" Albus asked.

James came around the bed and shook his hand. "Harry James is going to begin training for England soon, did you know? Hope the rest of the team measures up; they certainly didn't do well without him last year."

"I asked how you are James, not Harry's Quidditch career."

"Oh, well, I'm fine. Bit of a headache from last night, but other than that…"

"Good party then? I heard you had quite a turn out."

"We did. Loads of fun."

Dumbledore made a humming noise and offered a lemon drop to James.

"Not to be rude or anything, Professor, but just why are you in my bed room?"

"First and foremost, I came wish you a belated happy birthday, as I could not attend your fete last night—or this morning, by the looks of it." He chuckled and James ran his fingers through his hair, slightly embarrassed. "Secondly, you gave your word last time we spoke that you would help me with this new security plan I'm trying to send through the ministry."

"That pamphlet thing?"

"For home defense measures."

"Oh, yeah, yeah." He yawned. "Let me get dressed and grab a spot of lunch."

"Excellent. I think I'll go find Lily while I'm waiting; I hear her Rhododendrons are doing exceptionally well." And with that, the Headmaster left.

James shook his head but regretted doing so immediately. It only magnified his headache.

----------

Albus was seated at the kitchen table and Lily was preparing tea and sandwiches when James surfaced, freshly clothed and shaved. Twleve minutes and twenty-seven seconds, he thought to himself. He knew so without even looking at his watch—as a boy he had had a peculiar habit of timing things and, being now 126 years of age, he could perform these little calculations in his head without even thinking about it. He looked down at his watch and found that he was correct, as per usual.

James took his glance at his wristwatch for impatience and said, "Sorry to keep you waiting, Headmaster."

Albus smiled. These little patterns of the mind amused him greatly. "Oh, it's quite all right. I had a lovely little stroll through your garden. That's one thing I do miss these days, gardening." He took a sip of the tea Lily set before him and watched her over the brim of his cup. He could see his former pupil mentally checking him off on her Christmas gift list. It was only August with plenty of time for her to forget, but, knowing Lily Potter, Albus could expect a potted rhododendron for Christmas this year.

He and James were seated in James's office sixteen minutes and fifty-seven seconds later. Albus always felt peculiar sitting in front of a desk rather than behind it. This sensation was even more bizarre as James Potter was on the opposite side. He was not a 'desk person.' Dumbledore could see that he had also noticed the humor in the situation but was determined to rise to the occasion; his face contorted into the closest he could come to Minerva McGonagall. Albus chuckled again.

He let James begin. "So, Albus," Albus noted the use of his first name. James did not usually call him by that and there was a certain awkwardness in the way he said it, as though he felt it out-of-place in his vocabulary. He could have chuckled yet again, but decided that that would be rather rude. "What did you need me for again?"

"Help with this new bi-monthly Home Security Provisions Pamphlet the Ministry is going to start distributing." James was visibly impressed at his former headmaster having asked for his advise. The request wasn't just a nicety on Albus's part, either. James had traveled the world studying defense methods and tactics for four years before marrying Lily and now worked a comfy job at Gringotts. He came up with a new set of security mechanisms for the bank once a month—the goblins were well-versed in the hexes and traps of their own personal style, but they weren't the most creative of creatures.

"Bi-monthly, really?" James asked, leaning onto his desk and interlocking his fingers. Albus got the impression that he was looking into a carnival mirror, as his former pupil was now inadvertently doing an impression of him, and once more he suppressed a laugh. "The last time I think we got anything of the sort from the Ministry was before Harry James was born."

"Yes, and it didn't come with very good advise, either. I've brought it to Barty's attention though, and he said that if I wanted it to happen I would have to be in charge of it myself. So, I was wondering if you would grant an old Professor a favor and, ah, take the reins, so to speak. I believe this is more of your area of expertise."

The meeting lasted two hours, seven minutes, and 26 seconds, in which time James agreed to take on the project and the two planned out the entire first pamphlet, much of the second, and began a list of spells and precautions to include in the ensuing publications. Albus was very pleased. Both James and Lily invited him to dinner later that evening, which was sorely tempting, but he had some headmaster duties to attend to.

"Next Order meeting then?" James asked him as the three were standing in the foyer, saying their goodbyes.

"Of course. And I hope to find you properly attired, this time." He replied with a wink and left the couple laughing in the hallway.

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Dinner was a subdued affair that evening, as it was just the Potters in their large dining room with seating for twenty and room for more. The ceilings were high and the walls were paneled in oak with a few paintings hanging on each. The chandelier hung low over the centerpiece, light reflecting off the crystal place settings and china cabinets. The table was laid for ten and there was enough dinner for at least that many, but they weren't expecting anyone; they were praying for someone to come in and fill in some of the empty space. The three Potters seemed a bit too small for the room on their own these days.

"So, how was practice?" James asked as Twilly ladled more pasta onto his plate.

"Same as usual." Harry replied listlessly, swirling the wine around in his glass.

"Are you excited about starting practice with the national team?" Lily asked. Harry shrugged.

All the fight in him is gone. James sighed. Harry hadn't shown enthusiasm for anything in a long time, and James had been hoping that this spot on the England team would liven him up a bit. But his son had changed. It was obvious, and it bothered both him and Lily. But it just wasn't something they talked about. Somehow, it just wasn't.

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There was a gaping canyon that separated Lily and James from their son. All three were trying desperately to cling to their own paths around it.

A/N: Wow, it's been a long time since I've done anything on fanfiction. Anyway, in this chapter I really just wanted to set up the situation here. There is a specific reason that Lily and James are still alive, and I will get to that in the next chapter (or possibly the one after that; I still have to work out the details). Different perspectives really interest me, so you'll probably be seeing a lot of that. Let me know if it becomes unclear as to who's POV I'm narrating from. Also, there will be a bit more meat to the chapters from now on, I promise.

And just as an FYI, the drug Harry uses in this story is loosely based on the effects of PCP (being used mainly as the long-term effects and some withdrawal symptoms—not while he's on the drug) and Benzodiazepines, more specifically Midazolam (while he's on the drug and some of the withdrawal symptoms). I've never done drugs before (the closest I've come is few sips of wine, and found it not to my liking), so almost all of my information comes from Wikipedia articles. Any suggestions are welcome. Stop me if I begin to butcher it.

Santa Claus says don't do drugs, kiddos, so I wouldn't if I were you.

A few reviews would be most appreciated.