Rating: PG-13 for now
Pairings: Intended - HP/LV
Warnings: AU, bit of anti-Dumbles in this chapter
Summary: When Albus Dumbledore leaves Harry Potter on the doorstep of the Dursleys, the last thing he expected was for an unknown relative to disappear with the boy for ten years. Enter Thomas Potter, a man who intends to change the past, the present, and the future.
Disclaim Her: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A/N: Sleeping is hard. Writing after a night of no sleep can prove to be a dangerous thing.
IMPORTANT NOTE FOR READERS: As of about chapter three, much of this story is told through letters. As I've gotten a number of complaints about that, I'm warning you here. If you don't want to read the letters, just stop now.
EDIT: Changed scene breaks to fix FFN's issues.
Prologue - To Face The Unknown
After the tabby slinked away and the eerie man disappeared from the ends of Privet Drive, a new form appeared on the front lawn of Number Six. He didn't bother flicking a Put-Outer at the street lamps and he didn't slink from shadow to shadow like a cat. Rather, he walked right up to the stoop of Number Four and looked down at the sleeping face of the Boy Who Lived.
"Little Harry, you lay at a crossroad, and you don't even know it. You can grow up with the Dursleys and live a life of abuse, pain and manipulation, or you can come with me and find a life yet unknown. Dear, sweet child, I wonder which path you would take, were you aware enough to pick one. Ah, I wonder what any would pick, when faced with this choice. Perhaps they would pick the unknown, if only because what is known is so terrible. But, then again, perhaps they would prefer the path that they already know. After all, who really likes facing the unknown?"
The man sighed and picked the child up carefully. Little Harry gurgled in his sleep and grabbed hold of a lock of grey-streaked hair. The man smiled bitterly. "Yes, I think you would pick the unknown. So like your father in that respect. Dear, foolish James. Indeed, little Harry. You're more like James than either of you could ever know."
The man turned his back on Number Four and started back towards the spot he'd appeared at on Number Six's lawn. With a twist of his foot and a comment of, "How will I ever take care of a child?" both man and child were gone.
Chapter One - Two Potters
"Harry! Get down here this instant!"
The man returned to the kitchen, where he shuffled dishing out two plates of eggs, two bowls of cereal, two cups of juice, an owl attempting to deliver the paper and a screaming tea kettle all without his wand. His greying hair wouldn't stay out of his hazel eyes and if his ward didn't appear soon, they were both going to be late.
A boy of almost eleven flew into the room and the chair saved just for him. He quickly tied back his wild black hair with a band and resettled his glasses on his nose before smiling at the older man. "Good morning, Uncle Thomas."
The man rose an eyebrow at the boy and waved the two breakfasts onto the table before settling into his own seat to eat. "Good or not, if you don't eat that quickly, you'll be late," Thomas Potter informed his 'nephew'.
"Sorry, Uncle. Sylvin wouldn't come out from under the bed," young Harry Potter explained, then took a big bite of his eggs.
:Of course you would blame me: a dark green serpent hissed as it slid out of Harry's sleeve and onto the table.
:Sylvin, get off the table: Thomas reprimanded with a smile. "However, he has a point. Blaming Sylvin every morning gets rather repetitive after a time."
Harry grimaced and offered his snake a chunk of eggs. "It's true, though."
Thomas shook his head, his smile never quite fading. "Be that as it may, I believe it's time for you to run and catch the bus."
Harry's eyes swung to the kitchen clock and he let out a curse before jumping up and hurrying from the room, Sylvin's complaints about being jostled about following him.
Thomas' smile widened as he listened to Harry running about, attempting to find his bag. The boy had summer camp because Thomas had to work all day and sitting about the house all day with only Sylvin's company was, 'too boring for words,' as Harry had put it after a week of such events. Thomas had decided that 'too boring for words' was far better than malnourished and busy as an ant. Even if the rest of Harry's life was worse than it could have been, had he been left with the Dursleys, at least Harry could always say he'd had a good childhood.
"Bye, Uncle Thomas!" Harry shouted before slamming the door shut behind him.
Thomas sighed and stood to clear the table and get ready for his own job. He co-owned a small Muggle bookstore in town. He opened each morning and his friend, Joseph, came in around one and took over, closing at about six. They had five normal employees, two of which were teenagers who lived in the area and worked when they weren't in school.
Thomas' eyes caught on the calendar on their way to the clock on the wall. "Tomorrow..." he breathed, then turned to look at the kitchen window. Would the owl come tomorrow? Or would it take a few more days? He had taught Harry about his heritage and the boy wouldn't be lost in the wizarding world, but Thomas had stopped at making himself known in their world. Why go about telling everyone that there was another Potter alive and that Harry lived with him? Better to keep their life quiet and simple.
But, would the letter come on time?
Thomas glanced up at the clock thoughtfully. "Shit," he muttered upon recognizing the time, then hurried to find his bag and get out of the house himself.
That evening, as the two Potters were sitting down at the table to eat dinner, someone knocked on the door.
"I'll get it!" Harry said, then jumped up and ran from the kitchen. Thomas smiled after him, ever pleased that he'd taken the boy from the Dursleys. Harry was so happy here.
He heard the door open, then a voice he recognized too well saying, "Mr Potter."
Thomas was already rising when Harry called, "Uncle Thomas!"
Thomas stepped smoothly into the main hallway and forced a smile for the aged wizard in the doorway. "Albus Dumbledore. A pleasant surprise."
Dumbledore frowned at him. "I'm afraid you have me at a bit of a disadvantage, Mr...?"
"Potter," Thomas replied. "Thomas Potter. Please, come in."
Dumbledore stepped in with a slightly confused frown and stared at Thomas intently as Harry closed the door behind him.
Thomas brushed off the elder wizard's Legilimency with a frown. "Headmaster, if you wish to know something, it's kinder to ask," he commented mildly, then changed the subject before Harry could ask what he was talking about, "We were just sitting down to eat dinner, but if you would like, I believe there's enough for another person."
Dumbledore smiled, as if he had just figured something out and Thomas felt the urge to roll his eyes, but didn't. "That would be nice, thank you."
"Harry, why don't you take Mr Dumbledore's cloak while I serve him a plate?"
"Okay," Harry said unsurely, but held out a hand for Dumbledore's cloak. Thomas was pleased to note that the boy refused to meet Dumbledore's eyes and congratulated himself on teaching the boy about wizards who only needed eye contact to read your mind a few years ago. Harry was still too young to learn Occlumency, but any child could act shy and refuse to meet an adult's eyes.
Thomas dished out a plate of Mac and Cheese – a dish both he and Harry happened to favour – and set it out for the Headmaster, then settled himself in his chair. Harry came in with Dumbledore following and took his own seat. Dumbledore, using his amazing grasp of deductive reasoning, took the only other available chair.
There was a moment of silence as the three wizards settled in to eat. Dumbledore broke the silence by commenting, "I hadn't known there was another Potter alive. I was under the impression that James and Harry were the last of the line."
"I'm illegitimate," Thomas explained. "James and I are half-brothers. I was born in 1939 by accident, one might say. Father gave my mother enough money to raise me and sent us off to France."
"So you attended Beauxbatons?" Dumbledore inquired, leaning forward curiously.
"No. My mother taught me my magic. I never had a formal education." Thomas smiled coldly. "It was cheaper that way, and then no one would know about me, which is what Father wanted."
"I see..." Dumbledore sat back and returned to eating in silence. Thomas followed his example, eyeing Harry's reaction curiously. His nephew was eating calmly, as if none of this had any affect on him, but Thomas knew the boy well enough to detect the slight signs that his nephew was stressed and a little scared. Thomas considered that, were he Harry right then, he would be a little afraid of this wizard who had come into his home and started questioning his uncle about his past. Honestly, Thomas had to admit that Harry was handling the situation far better than Thomas would have at his age.
They finished their meal in silence. Harry was the first done and he moved quickly to his chore, which was washing the dishes. Thomas brought him his and Dumbledore's dishes once they'd finished. He set them down next to the sink and squeezed Harry's shoulder reassuringly. :Trust me: he whispered in Parseltongue.
:I do: Harry replied, :but that man still worries me. Why is he here?:
:Probably to find out why you're not with your mother's family: Thomas replied.
Harry shrugged. :Does it matter who I live with?:
:It does to him.: Thomas squeezed Harry's shoulder again, then turned back to the Headmaster and bit back a smile at the man's annoyed expression that he couldn't quite hide in time, probably at not being able to hear what the two Potters had said to one another. "Shall we retire to the sitting room, Mr Dumbledore?"
Dumbledore stood. "Please, lead the way."
Thomas did and they soon found themselves seated across the small coffee table from one another, Dumbledore in a fluffy armchair, Thomas on the couch. Thomas opened the conversation with the blunt question of, "Why are you here? I didn't think it was common for the Headmaster to personally deliver a Hogwarts letter?"
Dumbledore smiled in his all-knowing, quite unconcerned way. "It isn't, no. But, as I'm sure you're aware, Mr Potter is quite the exceptional case. When the address on his letter turned out different from what we'd expected, well..."
"Indeed." Thomas frowned at Dumbledore for a long moment, then said, "Would you tell me why you put Harry with Petunia? I believe he was supposed to go to one Sirius Black."
Dumbledore looked a bit surprised. "Sirius betrayed the Potters and is in Azkaban."
Thomas snorted. "Sometimes, I wonder how the wizarding world has survived so long."
"I actually sent a couple of owls to the Ministry asking why Sirius Black never got a trial, but I've never gotten a response. Perhaps you know the answer, Headmaster?"
"The evidence was unquestionable–"
"What evidence?" Thomas snapped.
"Uncle," Harry said as he climbed onto the couch next to Thomas.
Thomas sighed and rubbed at his forehead. "I do not think my brother would have been foolish enough to leave his son in the care of a man who either betrayed him to Voldemort, or was tortured and killed to get that same information. I think there's a piece of the puzzle missing, but the only man who can tell us what that missing piece is, is currently rotting away in Azkaban."
There was a long moment of silence before Dumbledore commented, "You think Sirius Black is innocent."
Thomas looked at the older man strangely for a moment, then said, "I do."
Dumbledore looked over at Harry, who was hugging his uncle's arm and watching the candy dish on the table. "And what about you, Harry?"
Harry shrugged. "Uncle Thomas is usually right," he said simply. "If he says Sirius is innocent, then Sirius is innocent."
Dumbledore looked surprised again. "Indeed? Well, I'll see what I can do about getting Sirius a trial, but I doubt he's in any state to give us the answers you're looking for, Thomas."
Thomas smiled knowingly. "Perhaps."
Dumbledore shook his head and sat up a little straighter. "But that's not the reason I'm here, of course. I'm here to deliver Mr Potter's Hogwarts letter."
Harry's eyes lit up, but he still refused to meet the Headmaster's eyes, even as he reached forward and took the offered envelope. Then he looked up at Thomas hopefully. "Can I open it now, Uncle?"
Thomas laughed and ruffled Harry's hair fondly, his smile widening when Harry didn't make the usual complaints about his poor hair coming out of it's clasp again. "Of course."
As Harry ripped into the letter Thomas glanced back at the Headmaster. "Was that all, Mr Dumbledore?"
Dumbledore gave Thomas an appraising look, then nodded. "I believe so."
Thomas untangled himself from his nephew and stood. "Let me show you out, then."
Thomas led Dumbledore back to the front door, handed him back his cloak, and saw him out. Once the door was closed and locked, Thomas leaned back against it and rubbed at the bridge of his nose.
"Uncle Thomas?" Harry asked. Thomas glanced up to see the boy watching him from the wide doorway of the sitting room. "Are you okay?"
Thomas found a smile for his nephew and pushed himself away from the door. "Yes, Harry. I'm fine."
Harry didn't look convinced. "Are you lying to make me feel better again?"
Thomas grimaced at the memory of the time he'd fallen down the stairs and broken his left leg. He'd gotten up and ignored the pain long enough to get Harry out the door and to school before collapsing in a heap in the kitchen. If Harry hadn't forgotten his notebook on the kitchen table and come back for it, Thomas would have lain there all day. It wasn't something that Harry let him forget.
Harry crossed his arms over his chest and did a very good impression of Thomas' 'don't you dare lie to me, young man' look. "Are you okay?"
Thomas chuckled. "Yes, Harry. I simply hadn't expected to deal with Albus Dumbledore so soon."
Harry continued staring at his uncle for a long moment, then nodded decisively. "Alright, I believe you," he decided, then his whole demeanour changed and he bounced on the balls of his feet a little. "When are we going to Diagon Alley?"
"We'll go on Friday," Thomas decided. "Your camp lets out at noon that day, right?"
"Yes," Harry replied happily.
"Good. Get off the bus outside the bookstore and we'll go from there."
"Yes!" Harry did an amusing little dance in the hallway, then scampered up the stairs, Sylvin complaining the whole way up that he was about to be ill.
Thomas chuckled to himself and walked through the downstairs, turning off lights, then went up to tuck Harry in. The boy was already in bed, and smiled up at Thomas when he poked his head in the door. His letter sat on his bedside table next to his glasses. Thomas slipped into the room and pressed a kiss to Harry's forehead. "I don't care how awake you feel, you're going to camp tomorrow no matter how much sleep you get tonight. Understand?"
Harry nodded. "I know. Can I take a sleeping potion if I haven't fallen asleep in an hour?"
Thomas gave Harry an appraising look. "Hour and a half."
"Only a spoonful."
"I know, Uncle Thomas."
Thomas smiled at the irritated tone Harry used and kissed the boy's forehead again. "Good night, Harry."
Thomas closed Harry's door behind him and retired to his own room, where he changed into his night pants and brushed his teeth, then slipped into bed. Then, as he'd expected, the stress of dealing with Albus Dumbledore finally caught up to him and he was asleep in moments.
A/N: According to the info on this file, I started this back in April of this year. At work, I think. Didn't get very far with it. Well, I finally get home and we're getting ready to move and when my mum put in the order to our phone company to end our service at the end of June, they just ended it right away. -stare- So I'm sitting at my desk without an internet connection and I don't really feel like killing myself through DDR at this moment, so I decided I'd see what I could do with all the half-finished fan fics I have sitting on my zip drive. Read over what I have of this one and got a couple of ideas, so I started writing.
Internet's supposed to be back up and running tomorrow, so I'm gonna see how much more I can get of this written before I run out of steam, then post it when the internet's back up. Then I'm flying to New Mexico for four days and I can't bring my computer with me. So, if I manage to finish the second chapter before I leave and the first chapter went up before I left, I'll put the second one up when I get back. If the first one doesn't go up before I leave, that'll go up when I get back instead.
And, 'cause I know people are gonna ask, I still don't have any ideas for The Forgotten, Hated Salvation, To Be A Woman, Zephuros, Their Secret Lives, or anything else. At this point, I'm just writing what I can and posting what I've got. (Except a couple fics, which I'm hoping to either finish before I post, or at least get a little bit further on first. -sweat- )
Much love and hopes for reviews,
UPDATE: So, the internet never came back up at home, but magickmaker17 beta'd this for me over our vacation and then let me use her computer to post this. Three cheers for her!