A/N: My original and yet edited one-shot of Identity Crisis . . . if you want to pick up where I left off, be my guest. The rules are included in the next chapter. Enjoy!
Disclaimer: It isn't mine. I'm sorry.
Prologue-A Fresh Start
Having just rescued an unconscious Harry Potter from the Third Floor Corridor and the despicable Quirell, Severus was heading for the headmaster's office to inform him of the boy's activities. Relieved that the boy had finally regained consciousness, he had reluctantly left the Infirmary to locate the headmaster. Albus Dumbledore met him halfway.
"Your protégée decided to save the stone from Quirell. Voldemort almost killed him."
The man turned white. "Severus, he can't die. He's in the prophecy!"
Severus Snape took a step back. "Because he's in the prophecy, Albus? The boy can't die because he's a child!"
"Yes, of course, but he's the one who will kill Voldemort. The only one."
Horrified, Severus stared at his mentor. "You've lost track of your priorities, Albus." He turned sharply on his heel and stalked towards the infirmary.
The headmaster chased after him. "Of course not, Severus! But as the Boy-Who-Lived, he must . . ."
"He is not the Boy-Who-Lived. He's Harry. That was our agreement and the only reason that Lupin and I did not fight his placement with the muggles. You have failed James and Lily. You have failed Harry." Severus threw open the door and swept past a sputtering Madame Pomfrey. "Harry."
"Professor?" the boy whispered in confusion as he sat up sleepily. Severus handed him his glasses and pulled back the blankets. The boy recognized the elusive sense of safety he had been denied for so long. Unhesitatingly, he reached out, allowing Severus to pick him up and wrapped his arms around the teacher's neck.
"Please, Severus. He's the hero of the Wizarding World."
With the weight of his best friend's child on his hip, something that had once been as familiar as his favorite robes, Severus turned back to the old man with disgust in his gaze. "He's just a little boy. Lily's son will have his childhood, Albus. I guarantee it." The dark head settled on his shoulder asleep again and Severus tired of the headmaster's meddling. He moved to the fireplace, calling out "Lupin's Folly!"
Remus Lupin had entertained a half-giant, a three-headed dog, the Weasley Twins at age four, and on one memorable occasion, an irate pregnant red headed witch, but his newest visitors had to be the oddest thing he had ever seen. He would never expect to see his childhood enemy, the potions master, Severus Snape step out of his fireplace with a crow headed, hospital pajama clad eleven-year-old fast asleep in his arms.
"Severus, what is going on? Is this Harry?"
"Dumbledore has lost sight of what is best for Harry. I therefore removed the child from the situation."
Lupin extinguished the fire quickly. "He'll be following you."
"Yes, we'll need a secret-keeper. Do you want to come along?"
"There is nothing I would love more but someone needs to stay and do damage control. Besides, who else could be convinced to be your secret-keeper?"
"If you want to be with your friend's son, I will hardly stop you."
"No. It's too dangerous with my condition. Where are you going?"
"America. There's a post for potions master at Salem. Set up the spell, quickly."
Harry slept through the entire thing, and before Snape carried him out the door, Remus stroked the child's hair gently. "Good luck, Harry. Enjoy your fresh start."
Part 1-We Meet Again
Ron slammed into a raven-haired boy outside of Quality Quidditch Supplies. He quickly leapt to his feet and offered his hand to the stunned teen. "Sorry."
"No problem. I wasn't watching where I was going either," the kid admitted. His easygoing American accent caught Ron's attention and he took a look at his new companion. Only an inch or two shorter than Ron's 6'4" frame, he was lean and tan. The black hair was spiked and tipped with bright blue. Instead of the typical robes, cloak, or school uniform that most of the inhabitants of Diagon Alley wore, the teenager wore a black 'Weird Sisters' concert t-shirt, a pair of dark blue muggle jeans, dragon hide boots, and a quidditch gauntlet on his left wrist. A vine tattoo wound around his right wrist and hand, while his right ear and bottom lip were both pierced. He had bright vivid green eyes that sparkled with mischief. "Play quidditch?"
"Keeper, Ron Weasley."
"Seeker, Ree Evans." He shook Ron's hand and the redhead couldn't help returning the other boy's infectious grin. "School supplies for Hogwarts?"
"Yeah, sixth year. Are you transferring?"
"Nah. I go to Salem back home. Uncle Sev just brought me over to spend the week with Uncle Remus. I go home day after tomorrow."
"Too bad. It was nice to meet you."
"Same." Ree tossed a snitch in the air and caught it, attracting the newly arrived Hermione's attention. "Hi."
"This is my girlfriend, Hermione Granger."
Hermione smiled at him, but was immediately sidetracked by a dark haired youth leaving the bookshop. "Harry?"
The Third Year Ravenclaw turned and looked up at her with wide blue eyes. "Sorry, Hermione. It's just me."
"I'm sorry, Alex," she smiled sadly. "I'll buy you a butterbeer first Hogsmeade weekend to make up for it." She returned to Ron's side with a subtle shake of the head and Ron tried not to let his disappointment show.
Ree looked at them strangely. "Well, it was great to meet you both, but I better get going before Uncle Sev . . ."
"Ree Evans, get over here instantaneously!" came the cross shout.
". . . Comes looking for me," he finished. "See ya." He gave an odd sort of salute and headed over to join the impatient man in gray and navy robes.
"Strange boy," Hermione commented. Ron shrugged but silently agreed.
"That was an incredibly foolish thing to do."
"Couldn't resist." Ree's smile faded. "I'm sorry, Uncle Sev. I didn't mean to run into them and then when I did, I just wanted to know how they're doing. They didn't guess that it was me. She went after some little kid who couldn't possibly have been older than a Fourth Year while I was standing right in front of them."
"A little. I mean, did they truly think that I would stay a tiny, pale, and scrawny kid forever? It's not like you imprisoned me in a cupboard for years."
"More likely they imagined a dungeon lair where you were forced to brew potions all of your days."
"Stupid prejudiced people," Ree scowled. "They didn't recognize me because I wasn't miserable. I couldn't possibly have grown up happy in their eyes."
"I imagine the height, hair, and those terrible piercings threw them off as well," Uncle Sev replied dryly.
That removed the Gryffindors from Ree's mind. "I was thinking of getting my eyebrow done too."
His uncle cuffed the back of his head. "Not until you're out of my house, young man." Ree smirked and gestured to the other piercings and his tattoo. "It would serve you right if I decided to transfigure your pillow into a magnet one morning."
"Ouch," Ree winced. "That would hurt." Then he smirked. "But you wouldn't do that to me."
That provoked a raised eyebrow. "And why not?"
"Because you love me despite my teenage idiocy," Ree said smugly.
His uncle's arm curved around his shoulders and his voice was suspiciously thick. "That I do, cheeky brat. That I do."
Severus had a bad feeling as he stepped out of the fireplace and immediately pulled Ree behind him. "Lupin!" A groan came from the kitchen and he slowly made his way to the island counter. Lupin lay sprawled next to it, hands clutching his chest.
"Uncle Remus!" Ree shouted and lunged for the man.
Severus grabbed the teenager and pulled him back. "Stay back, Ree."
"Not an attack. Pain just hit all of a sudden," Lupin ground out through strained breathing. "Can't move."
"Ree, floo St. Mungos; emergency ward. Now." Severus shed his cloak and placed it over Lupin. He grabbed a throw pillow and placed it under the other man's head.
Ree returned and hovered at his shoulder nervously. "The Medic Team is on the way."
"The strain of transforming causes a lot of stress and over exertion. Most with the curse of the Werewolf don't make it to a full twenty years after the bite. Your friend is lucky to have survived close to thirty years after bitten. He's probably been hiding the symptoms for a while, but this heart attack won't be the last. It will get progressively worse until the curse overwhelms his body entirely."
Severus left the office, his head reeling from the terms and explanations given. He looked around the waiting room. Ree was curled up in a chair near the corner asleep. Like this the years fell away and his boy was twelve again waiting for him to come home from a late meeting. It was so unlike his usual relaxed sleeping habit, sprawled out and snoring, that it unsettled Severus to see the boy so. He touched the boy's shoulder and waited for the tenseness to leave the startled boy. "It's alright, Ree. You're at St. Mungos and I'm right here."
The teen nodded and stood. "How's Uncle Remus?"
"Better. They're keeping him overnight for observation, Ree. But he's only got about six to fourteen months left before the transformations kill him. He will need permanent live-in care from now on."
"But he hasn't anyone left! His parents died years ago and Sirius is gone. We can't leave him, Uncle Sev!"
"I agree. But Hogwarts is a problem. I don't want you under the headmaster's control ever again and home-school is no longer an option after the OWLs."
"I can handle, Dumbledore. No one will recognize me anyway. This afternoon proved that. Please? Uncle Remus needs us."
"You don't mind moving to another continent where a war is going on?"
"I'll deal. I don't want Uncle Remus to be alone."
"Let me think about it, and make the arrangements. You stay out of trouble. The only things I want you worrying about for the rest of the summer is quidditch and-Merlin-help-me-girls. Do you understand?"
"Well, gee, I wanted to read the complete works of Shakespeare, memorize pi, learn the goblin genealogy, take up the violin, and earn a Nobel Peace Prize for inspiring world peace, but if you insist, I can blow my last week outside or at the beach."
"I swear I don't know where you get your sarcasm from."
The smirk was all too familiar. " I learned from a Master."
"Proud of it."
Ree loved his room. It was painted dark blue and silver with a deep bronze carpet speckled with silver. His bed hung from a frame off the wall five feet in the air. Under the bed was his desk and computer, directly across from his walk-in closet. A third wall was filled with a multi-level aquarium that housed his reptile habitat. His prized coal black serpent had its own aquarium on the bookshelf at the foot of his bed, which was filled with a rather eclectic taste in literature.
Not that Cosmar spent a lot of time there. He spent most of his time wound around Ree's wrist, or loosely draped around his neck twice. His fierce loyalty to Ree had finally won Uncle Sev's grudging approval.
Today he lay around Ree's neck, while the boy transferred the most important of his possessions into the boxes surrounding him or into his new school trunk. Holding a rather lengthy conversation with his pet, it took him awhile to realize that Uncle Sev stood in his doorway. "Oops. How long were you standing there?"
"Not too long. I brought you something." He held out the little silver wrapped present and the teen snatched it eagerly. Setting a new record for tearing off the paper, he held a long silver key with his name engraved on it suspended from a delicate silver chain. "I charmed your house-key into a password activated portkey. If you feel threatened by anyone, and I mean anyone, touch it and say home. You'll reappear right here and I want you to stay put. Do you understand? Let me find you."
Ree blinked back tears and fastened it around his neck. "Thanks, Uncle Sev."
"Don't be afraid to use it. Remus got these to replace your regular contacts. They'll disguise your eyes somewhat without changing the color completely. They'll darken the green a little and are flecked with silver and bronze."
"My fave colors." Ree jumped off the floor and went to his closet mirror so he could switch his contacts and studied the effect. "I like 'em. Matches my shirt," he teased. Uncle Sev objected to the sheer ludicrously behind his 'Kiss the Seeker' shirt which was emerald green with silver lettering. "Thanks," he repeated quietly. "Having the port-key helps a lot."
"Use it if you need it."
"Yes, sir." Ree transferred Cosmar to his wrist so he could slip the key under his shirt before complaining in parseltongue, "I don't know why I bothered tattooing my hand. You just cover it up anyway." The snake hissed in reply and flicked his long tongue against the ink once. He repeated both his and Cosmar's comments in English for his favorite uncle. "He doesn't like the tattoo anymore than you do."
"Smart snake. Why did you choose a vine anyway?"
"Vines don't grow if the gardener doesn't take excellent care of it. Once given a good start, they can survive anything. I wanted it to symbolize the difference between who I was five years ago and who I am now."
His uncle grumbled, "you couldn't express that through a bracelet or a t-shirt?" but hugged him lightly. "Do you need help packing?"
"Yeah. Which of my clothes can I get away with at Hogwarts?"
"None of them," was the immediate response.
"Funny, Uncle Sev, very funny."
Severus was exceptionally worried about Ree's return to Hogwarts and therefore was finding it exceptionally difficult to release the teen from his hug.
"Um, Uncle Sev? Gotta catch the train," Ree joked and grinned up at the older man, who still had four inches on him. "I've got my money, my snack, and my ticket. So I think that I'm set. I've got my house key if not," he stopped laughing and hugged Severus again. "I'll miss you!" The muffled voice came from where the boy's face was pressed tightly in Severus's robes. "A lot."
"I'll see you this weekend. Okay?"
"Yeah." Ree gave him a final hug and wiped away all traces of tears. "I'll see you then. Thanks."
"Bye, Ree." Severus waved until the boy disappeared in the crowd and reluctantly disapparated.
Ree touched Cosmar's scales for comfort as the snake rested around his shoulders. He had been strictly warned by both of his uncles against speaking speaking to Cosmar in public. He was aware that his jeans and 'I survived the Minotaur' t-shirt made him look like a fish out of water. Everyone around him wore jumpers or robes. He almost crashed into a pair of giggling Hufflepuff girls before picking a random compartment and knocking. Of course it would be the Slytherin's compartment.
"Who are you?" the blonde boy demanded furiously. But here was finally someone who had a thing in common with him, because the boy had a pierced ear.
Ree grinned and offered his hand. "Ree Evans. Salem transfer student."
"Nice ink. Draco Malfoy."
Ree covered his surprise and nodded. "Thanks. Mind if I join you?"
"Go ahead," Draco gestured to one of the low benches next to a dark brunette boy with red streaks in his hair, who was wearing a 'Raging Hippogriffs in Concert' t-shirt. "Blaise Zabini."
"Hey, Ree Evans. Sixth Years?"
"Sixth year Slytherins," Draco corrected. "Do you know what house you'll be in?"
"No idea," Ree said cheerfully. "Uncle Sev was in Slytherin. Uncle Remus was in Gryffindor. My parents went to Hacienda Diablo in California. Since I'm not especially smart or steady, I hope I'd be brave, but I know my cunning is at the ready," he joked.
"Word Magician!" Blaise yelped. "You're Word Magician! I read your site. I'm Sir Rowan online. You're positively brilliant!"
"You're my best critic," Ree said in a pleased tone. "Small world after all."
"Is this something to do with the idiot box that you're in love with, Blaise?"
"Yep," he answered unashamedly. "My second cousin is a squib and she got me laptop for Christmas last year. Draco's a bit thick when it comes to muggle things."
"Don't see the point to them," Draco protested. "Magic gets everything done faster."
"I concur for the most part, but there are two muggle inventions that have one-upped the wizarding world."
"Imagine a quill that you never have to dip in an inkwell because the ink is already inside of it. Muggles call it a pen. And computers connect people all across the world through the Internet in a matter of seconds. That's a lot faster than any owl."
"Sure," Draco said skeptically. "And I'm Helga Hufflepuff."
"You said it, mate. Not me," Ree grinned brightly. "Speaking of owls, does that one belong to any of you?" He pointed to a snowy white one pecking at the glass.
"Hedwig!" Draco cried out, and opened the compartment door, catching the owl on his wrist. "Haven't seen you in forever, girl." The owl nipped his ear affectionately and he patted the bird. "This is Hedwig, Ree. She's, uh, kind of mine."
Ree raised an eyebrow. "Kind of?"
"Well, technically she belongs to Weasley, but he got another one after third year and I take care of her when she escapes or his sister sends her to me. She's good company when I'm stuck at home for the summer." Both Slytherins quieted, and Ree realized that something bad must happen over the summer. Draco shrugged uncertainly and looked up at Ree. "I think that you'll be a Slytherin like us, and as such you will be privy to all of our secrets, but if you should become a Gryffindor, I ask you not to tell Weasley that I like this particular owl. It used to belong to Potter and Weasley would pitch a fit."
"You've got my word on it. Looks like you need her more anyway. By Potter, do you mean Harry Potter? Did you know him?"
"Yeah, he was in our year. A really annoying Gryffindor actually. He disappeared after our first year. Dumbledore says that Professor Snape kidnapped him," Draco scoffed. "Snape hated Potter. If he decided to take the kid with him, he must have had a very good reason."
"I heard Snape was yelling at Dumbledore that night from Peeves but that's not exactly a trustworthy source." Blaise shrugged. "It was a long time ago. We sit through a memorial once a year, but only Granger and Weasley are stupid enough to think that Potter's going to come back."
"If it was really You-Know-Who like he tries to claim, then Potter is dead. If it was Snape, than he's living in some other country like-I don't know-Romania or something and oblivious to it all." Draco shrugged. "Who cares? He's probably safe from You-Know-Who there. Like a kid our age could do anything about this stupid war," he muttered resentfully and returned to stroking Hedwig's feathers.
Blaise quickly changed the subject. "So Ree, why did you transfer?"
"My Uncle Remus is dying from Lycanthropy. He used to be a professor at Hogwarts. I usually live with Uncle Sev, but since Uncle Remus got sick, we decided to mover here and keep an eye on him. Salem was cool. I don't know if I'll like Hogwarts."
"It's not too bad. I think you'll enjoy it. Professor Slughorn is no Professor Snape of course, but he's a decent head of house. He's kind of-well; actually he's a lot like Santa Clause. Jovial and booming, lives comfortably on junk food, but is always open to anyone with talent."
A blur of red in the hallway caught their eyes and both Slytherin boys leapt up. "Crap, where are Crabbe and Goyle when I need them? Oh, no! Hedwig!"
"Give her here quick." Ree accepted his old pet just as Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger entered, both carrying their wands. Neither Slytherin was armed. There were the rest of the Gryffindors and a few Ravenclaws behind them. "Hey."
"That's Harry's owl," Ron freaked.
"Found her in the corridor and was asking around. You can return her for me," Ree shrugged nonchalantly and offered her to Ron.
"Ree Evans? I thought that you went to Salem," Hermione raised an eyebrow.
"Uncle Remus got sick so we decided to stay. It's nice to see you again. Is there a problem?"
"Our houses tend not to get along. Unfortunately both have quick tempers, but with opposite viewpoints," Ron cautioned. "We've still got an open seat in our compartment if you're interested, though."
"Oh, I'm good. We're all getting along famously." Ree nodded.
Hermione sniffed and pointed to his t-shirt. "No one has ever survived a Minotaur."
"It's a magical roller coaster in America you filthy mudblood," Draco sneered. Ree shot him his patented you're-not-helping-matters-any look and Draco backed off.
"Figures. Birds of a feather and all that rubbish," Seamus muttered darkly as he passed the compartment. "Evans is obviously Slytherin material. Who was that old guy who saw you off at the station?"
"My uncle," Ree responded levelly. "Persevere Prince."
"Kind of attached are we?" Dean taunted. "Is Evans scared to leave his precious uncle? You looked all weepy back on the platform, like you'd never see him again."
Ree tensed and blocked the memories from flooding him as he fought to control the inevitable shaking before answering. He didn't have to. A hand closed firmly on his shoulder and Blaise stepped beside him. "That's enough."
"What did you say, Zabini?" Seamus asked menacingly.
"He said back off, Finnegan," Draco shot. "And get lost."
"How do you plan on making us without your bodyguards?" Dean laughed.
"Draco and I'll give you all detention," came a voice from behind them. "Or I could just set Crabbe and Goyle on you since I brought them with me."
The Gryffindors parted to reveal a short red headed girl dragging a blonde girl after her and flanked by two large boys. The smarter of the two (Crabbe) leered and spoke. "Give orders, Ginny." The other grunted something like "Crush."
"I'm astonished with your general idiocy. Ron, try and keep your friends out of trouble or I may have to explain to Mum why the gnomes are so very fond of her rose bush. As for Thomas and Finnegan . . . get out of here before I turn you all in."
Within moments the only red in the compartment was Ginny's hair. Ree studied both girls with a raised eyebrow. The blonde wore an amethyst gypsy cut skirt and loose white blouse that hung off one shoulder. Ginny wore a black trench coat, black jeans and stiletto heels.
"Nice save, Ginny," Draco laughed. "Thanks."
"No sweat," Ginny grinned. "But stop calling Hermione mudblood. You promised."
Goyle looked at them sadly. "No pummel?"
Ginny patted his head. "Not right now, Greg. If you catch Thomas or Finnegan later, I don't mind you teaching my ex and his friend a lesson. Just don't get caught."
"You would have made a great Slytherin, kid. I can't believe you're a Weasley," Blaise laughed. "Now if only your timing was a mite more impeccable . . ."
"Don't be so dramatic, Blaise darling." Ginny smirked dropping down into his lap. "So who was my idiotic ex's target?"
"Ree Evans, and thanks for rescuing me. I really needed it." Ree looked down and then up at the others. May as well start laying the groundwork now. "I'm really sensitive about not being home. My parents died in a fire while I was at Summer Camp right before I turned thirteen. That's why I went to Salem. It's a day school and I could go home at night. If that makes me immature, so be it, but I really appreciate you all bailing me out."
"Hey, we like you. Slytherin or not, we'll grant you honorary Slytherin status like Ginny and Luna here on one condition."
Ree raised an eyebrow. "And that would be?"
"You tell us what Ree is short for. Trust us, we're no strangers to weird name. Draconis, Blaise, Ginevra, Lunelle, Vincent, and Gregory. Oh, and Theodore Nott but he's off flirting, and Daphne Graystone who is doing her make up."
"It's a deal but you're all sworn to secrecy." When he received a nod from all of them, he whispered, "My real name is Harry Storm Evans, but I try to pretend that it's short for Remus like my other uncle, because Harry just sounds like some old guy cheating at gobstones to me."
"Good point," Draco grimaced. "Ree fits better."
Ginny clapped her hands. 'He's cute. Personally I hope he's a Gryffindor with me." Ree turned bright red.
Draco protested the cute remark and Ginny assured him that she still found him cuter than Ree, which led to kissing rapidly turning into snogging. Ginny switched from Blaise's lap to Draco's so as to make it more convenient and Luna took her place. Crabbe and Goyle took the seats at the end and surprisingly began a lively conversation on Quidditch that Ree took part in cheerfully.
Part 2, Retry
Ree sat staring nervously at the Sorting Hat and trying really hard not to look up at Dumbledore. Glamours hid his scar and he looked nothing like the first year that had entered this hall five years before. McGonagall looked down her nose disapprovingly at him (how she could still do that when he was four inches taller than her, he had no idea).
"Evans, (She gave a disapproving sniff as if she didn't agree with using a nickname in something as formal as the sorting) Ree."
He made his way up hesitantly. Instead of a formal uniform since he didn't have any yet, he wore a black dress shirt and trousers along with navy blue robes clasped by a set of interwoven pewter snakes. As the hat sank over his head, he pleaded mentally, "Don't give me away!"
"I sorted you once before."
"If I hadn't interfered, what would you have placed me in?"
"Do you have to ask? Five years have passed. You've seen it in yourself."
"Am I a-"
Ree gave a sigh of relief, handed the hat to McGonagall, and took a seat next to Blaise. Blaise grinned at him and thumped his back. Once the other boy turned his attention back to the sorting, Ree smirked to himself. "Boy, have I got my work cut out for me."