The World as We Knew It
Disclaimer:I own nothing. All the credit goes to JK Rowling.
Rating: PG-13 for language and violence.
Warnings: Violence, language, character death, minor DH spoilers in later chapters (mostly because I made lucky guesses about Horcruxes and a certain greasy-haired Death Eater).
Night had fallen, hot and humid over the rows and rows of identical houses. Most of the windows were lighted, displaying families gathered around dining tables or scrunched around tellies. One upstairs window was lit on one of the houses however, and next to it sat a teenage boy with messy black hair and glasses. He was gazing out of the window with a distant expression on his face, his hand absentmindedly massaging the lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.
It was Harry's first night back at Privet Drive. Only a few hours before, he had said good-bye to Hermione and Ron, promising them that he would owl them in a week or so when he felt he had spent enough time at the Dursleys' to fulfill Dumbledore's request that he return to his aunt and uncle's house one last time. Hermione had tearfully kissed his cheek and hugged him goodbye, assuring him that in the following days she would be researching ancient possessions of Ravenclaw and Gryffindor in the stacks of books she had borrowed from Hogwarts' library. Harry had smiled ruefully—this was definitely the Hermione he had been best friends with for the past six years. "And Ron, you ought to take some books and look too," she had finished, looking sternly at the tall, gangly, red-headed boy.
"Come on, Hermione, it's the holidays!" he had protested.
"And you've got much more important things to do than eat, play Quidditch, and gape at Fleur all summer," she had retorted. Then she had dissolved into tears again and quickly kissed Ron on the cheek before picking up her bag and dashing away through the gateway from Platform Nine and Three Quarters to the rest of King's Cross.
Ron had stared after her for a moment, then seeming to come to himself, he slapped Harry on the back and said, "See you in a few weeks, mate," before leaving to join Ginny and Mr. and Mrs. Weasley.
Now as Harry thought about it, he wished he'd said good-bye to Ginny, but they had been pointedly avoiding each other ever since the funeral that morning. He steeled his resolve once again, but couldn't help the flood of memories that filed past his unseeing eyes. Ginny playing Quidditch, her red hair flying behind her, Ginny telling off Ron, Ginny hexing Crabbe and Goyle, Ginny spending those sunlit glorious hours with him under the shady tree near the lake, Ginny kissing him after they had won the Quidditch Cup…
No, he mustn't… He couldn't think of it… Voldemort would hurt her, and that was the last thing he needed, another death to feel responsible for. Harry looked down at the cool metal locket he was holding in his hand, and thought of Dumbledore. His throat tightened as he was once again struck with the finality of Dumbledore's death. He would never again be able to speak to that great wizard, the man who had mentored him, helped him, guided him… loved him.
And Dumbledore had died at the hands of that traitor, Snape. It was all in vain, the trip into the cave, the horrible potion Dumbledore had drunk, Harry thought as his fingers caressed the locket that was nothing more, for it hadn't been a Horcrux after all. He vaguely wondered if Hermione had figured out who R.A.B. was yet. Harry knew he should care, should wonder, but all he felt was an odd sense of detachment. It was probably because he had just lost the fourth most important figure in his life. His parents, Sirius, Dumbledore…they were all gone. It was just Harry, now.
The clock downstairs struck eleven. Harry felt his eyes becoming heavy and finally decided to go to bed. After undressing, he crawled under the covers, and removed his glasses. Stray thoughts wandered through his mind, wishful thoughts. He wondered what would have happened if his parents had lived. He wished he could talk to them, just once. Just a few words would be nice. Harry thought about his godfather, Sirius, who had died because of Bellatrix Lestrange. If only they were still alive… He felt almost like he was betraying Dumbledore, thinking about his parents when Dumbledore's death was the one he should be feeling most deeply. Harry's eyes were almost closed now, and his last waking thought was…
Harry awoke to the sunlight streaming down on his face. He rolled over and groaned, pulling the covers over his head. There was a knock on the door. "Go away," he muttered.
The knocking continued. "Aunt Petunia, I'll weed the garden later! Just let me sleep a few more minutes!"
The door swung open. Someone, a man, was laughing jovially. "You thought I was Petunia Dursley?" Harry started. Quickly he rolled back over and sat up, reaching for his glasses. Except his glasses weren't there; his hand was grasping empty air. The room was all blurry, but Harry could see the outline of a man cross the room and pick something up from a nearby piece of furniture. A moment later, his glasses were being pressed into his hand, and the man sat on the edge of his bed. Harry shoved the glasses on…and gasped.
James Potter was sitting on his bed. It could be no other. He was tall and lean, with jet black messy hair, and sparkling brown eyes. "Thought you'd sleep in just because it was the first day of summer, huh?"
Harry gaped at him. This had to be a joke. It couldn't be real. Then it occurred to him, this man must be a Death Eater using Polyjuice. "Yeah," Harry said, trying to sound casual, just like it was an everyday occurrence to meet a parent you had thought to be dead all your life. "Yeah. I thought I'd sleep in, that's all. I was just dreaming about the Dursleys for some reason."
"We haven't seen them in years," James said, grinning. "I don't mind at all, but I think your mother misses Petunia once in a while. Harry…what are you doing?"
Harry had edged out of bed and towards the desk on which he had spotted his wand. With the reflexes of a Seeker, he snatched up the wand and had it pointed at the Death Eater before James had time to draw his own wand.
"Who are you?" Harry hissed. "What do you want with me?"
James's eyes were wide, his mouth slightly open. "Harry James Potter. Put that wand away! It's me, your dad!"
"No, you're not. You're a Death Eater, aren't you? Under Polyjuice? Another one of Voldemort's ploys to get me. Don't move, or I'll hex you!"
James rolled his eyes. "What has Moody been teaching you in Defence Against the Dark Arts? How to be so paranoid that you pull your wand on anyone who enters the room?"
Harry was momentarily thrown off guard. "Moody's not the Defense teacher," he said. "Snape is…or was."
James drew back a little. "What are you talking about? Snape is a Death Eater," he said contemptuously. "He's never taught at Hogwarts."
"Liar! I thought all Death Eaters knew Snape taught Potions at Hogwarts for years and years!"
James sighed. "This is getting nowhere. Fine then, ask me a secret question, then you'll know who I really am."
Harry looked at the older man warily, but he was thinking. What could he ask? Finally it came to him. "What spells did you use against Snape down by the lake right after your Defence Against the Dark Arts O.W.L. exam?"
James looked shocked. "How did you know about that?"
"Never mind. Just tell me." Harry's arm was aching, but he still held the wand aloft.
"Levicorpus and Impedimenta. And Scourgify."
Harry started to lower his wand. This wasn't a dream. Only his dad would have remembered that so clearly…Unless this was Snape sitting before him under Polyjuice. He raised his wand once more. "One more question. What form does your Animagus take?"
Harry lowered his wand, but James held up a hand. "If we're going to do it right, I've got to ask you a question too."
Harry waited nervously, hoping he knew the right answer. If his father was truly alive, he wasn't sure of anything now. His mother was alive too. That meant…maybe Sirius had never gone to Azkaban. Maybe Dumbledore had never died. Maybe…
"What is your cousin's name?"
Harry grinned. This was too easy. "Dudley."
"And…just to make sure…what position do you play on the Gryffindor team?"
The word "Seeker" was on his lips it occurred to Harry that he might not be a Seeker in this world. Maybe James had taught him to play a different position growing up. He looked around the room and noticed a moving poster of Uraiah Yates, Keeper for the Oxford Otters on his wall. No posters of Seekers were present. "Um…Keeper?"
"Right. So will you stop this Death Eater business and get downstairs? Your mother's making fried eggs, and Sirius is coming over later this morning."
Harry's heart leapt. Sirius was alive and well. But he merely mumbled, "Sorry, Dad. Moody said constant vigilance. I'll get dressed and be down in a minute."
James left, still shooting odd glances at Harry over his shoulder. Harry pulled open the wardrobe and selected a t-shirt and pair of jeans he had never seen before. After dressing, he stuck his wand in his back pocket and flopped down on the bed. This couldn't be real, could it? What had happened overnight? He thought of his last waking memories the night before. He had been wishing that his parents were still alive.
Did I bring them back to life? He wondered. Harry ran his fingers through his hair and automatically stroked the part of his forehead where the scar was. Except that now the skin was smooth.
He froze in shock, then sat up and pulled his wand out. He murmured the spell specularis and a mirror erupted from the tip of his wand. As Harry looked into it, the truth hit him hard—his scar was gone.