A/N: Yes, this would be yet another take on the Boy-Who-Lived-and-twin plotline, but it doesn't feature alive!James&Lily or Mistaken-Boy-Who-Lived, and it does include a slightly more realistic result of the Dursleys' care and Luna, so hopefully it's reasonably original. I like Luna--although I'm afraid my version of her might better be considered slightly AU, because who can manage a canonesque Luna besides J. K. Rowling?
This is a relatively short story (just under twenty thousand words), which I've just finished except for minor tweaking so it should be all up within the next few weeks. Also, in the first scene, it was pointed out to me that technically McGonagall shouldn't be surprised at the twins since she was there with Dumbledore the night Hagrid dropped them off and all... so let's just say in this version she wasn't there. Or something. I claim the power (/excuse) of AU.
All comments, critiques, and questions welcome!
Jackalopes and Jobberknolls
When Professor McGonagall reached the P's in her yearly list of students to be Sorted, particularly astute listeners could pick up a special tone to her voice when she announced, "Potter, Harry." Most listeners, though, only heard the words themselves and immediately gave into excited whispers buzzing around the Great Hall. After a brief pause following her announcement one of the children clustered in line detached himself and came slowly forward--short and slight in his enveloping robe, half-upright tousled black hair, and large, bright green eyes watching no one through thick black-rimmed glasses.
The Hat slipped over his face, covering it, and was silent for a moment before opening its flap and declaring, "SLYTHERIN!"
Three tables groaned despondently, and the fourth's applause sounded particularly smug as the young wizard joined his new House. Astute observers could easily see McGonagall's personal disappointment--for she was, after all, Head of Gryffindor--but then her eyes widened as she moved on to the next name on her list and she actually checked it twice before almost stammering, "Potter, Harry."
The whispers died for a moment in place of blank puzzlement--and a second identical small, green-eyed brunet appeared from the line, made his quiet way up and took his place on the stool.
The pause this time was much shorter before the Hat decreed, "GRYFFINDOR!"
One table exploded into cheers, no longer bothered by the conundrum since they got him; one just sniffed, since they already had him; two made a few sporadic claps out of politeness, still preoccupied by trying to figure out why and how there were two Boys-Who-Lived (and vaguely hoping that maybe two more would pop out of the woodwork for them).
* * *
By the beginning of the twins' second year, they were still regarded as one of Hogwarts' favorite subjects of speculation, particularly as all of the newly Sorted first years had to be caught up on all the explanations and events so far. At the Ravenclaw table they were succinctly informed that it was Hadrian Potter in Slytherin and Harold Potter in Gryffindor but they both only answered to Harry, they had both been registered as babies but the hospital assumed it was one boy's file accidentally duplicated because of the names, which was why no one else ever knew, and that they both had identical lightning-bolt scars which everyone agreed made no sense and no one was sure which of them was actually the Boy-Who-Lived. Just hearing it cemented all the first years as rabid Harry Potter puzzle solvers.
Luna Lovegood was no exception, but she paid no attention nor contributed to the excited chatter of the children around her. She regarded both boys from the distance across tables with a vague smile, watching the two sitting quietly amongst their friends, much like her, lifting bits of food to their mouths and occasionally replying to someone. Luna could hardly see how they were different, though the older students' conversation made it clear that the two had to be polar opposites inside, to have been Sorted into those two Houses. Besides, they were hardly ever together.
She continued to observe them in the following weeks whenever they happened to be around, and the faint smile rarely left her face during it. "Harry!" the Gryffindor's bushy-haired friend would say, dashing after him as he passed through one of the corridors outside the Library. He would pause, and she'd catch up, panting, and then add "Harry?" as a shorthand check. About half the time he would nod, and she would go on with whatever, while he listened quietly. She seemed to always be researching something and liked to inform him of interesting discoveries or ask his opinion of whether something sounded accurate. The other half of the time he would shake his head, and she would look slightly embarrassed and apologize or ask if he knew where his brother was. Sometimes he shrugged; sometimes he would give her an exact location without pause or thought.
The Slytherins were so cautious of not being wrong they mostly didn't seem to try to get close to either Harry in the corridors. The Gryffindor's other main friend--or at least, he seemed to consider himself so--never bothered to ask which twin it was, simply assuming it was his, and would accost him with an arm slung over his shoulder and either animated complaints of Snape's treatment in their last lesson or predictions of one of the national Quidditch team's chances in their next game. Luna's smile always grew the times when Harry said, without any inflection, "Professor Snape," and the redhead's freckles stood out a bit as he hastily pulled his arm away and retreated in the opposite direction. Harry noticed Luna once afterward and smiled back briefly, a smile that she understood perfectly without a word spoken between them. Afterward, whenever she passed him in a corridor, she said pleasantly, "Hello, Harry," exactly the same whether he was wearing a green and silver or red and gold tie (on the rare occasions he was wearing one at all). The one she hadn't shared a smile with never reacted any differently than the one who had.
Then the message on the wall in blood announcing the return of the Heir appeared, and overnight talk abandoned Hogwarts' favorite doppelgangers to turn to the horror. It didn't take long for the gossip to entwine the two, though, and soon Harry was firmly entrenched as not just the Heir of Slytherin but You-Know-Who himself's dark apprentice, tainted by the evil touch of that fateful night, while Harry was beyond all shadow of a doubt the true Boy-Who-Lived, savior of the wizarding world. Their respective friends took to defending them and sneering at the other harder than ever, and Luna kept smiling and greeting them both the same as ever. She thought they could probably use impartial support.
Gilderoy Lockhart, their beautifully ineffective Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, put together an open dueling club and Slytherin Harry was revealed to all the school as a living speaking Parselmouth. Luna wasn't there, but everyone else could talk of nothing else. Luna observed them quietly and neither seemed particularly affected by it. They had much more sense than the rest of the students.
She saw them both after in one of their rare moments together, sitting by the lake reading books. She stopped and smiled as usual, but that didn't seem sufficient after such hubbub, so she inquired, "Which one of you is which today?"
Both boys looked up at her, not even glancing at one another. "What?" Harry said.
"I always think I'd do just the same if I were two," she said placidly. "It must be so nice being able to be whichever person you feel like being. I'm an only child."
Now the boys glanced at one another, and after a second the other Harry said, "We're each in the different House."
She nodded. "Of course. So you can each be whichever you like, and each still be Harry." She smiled, and after another quick glance the two slowly smiled tentatively back. The one on the left scooted to the side, and the one on the right said politely, "Like to sit down?"
She settled herself between them, and the boys examined her from either side with curious impartiality. She didn't mind. It was how she looked at everything too.
"Can you tell when we switch?" Harry asked.
"I know you're you and you're you, and you're both the same. But knowing when you switch would mean knowing your original, and what does that matter?"
The boys smiled again, something she didn't often see them do with their friends. She thought it probably made them more comfortable to know that she understood them.
"I was Sorted into Slytherin," Harry said.
"And me Gryffindor," Harry said. "We change our colors for who we feel like talking to."
Luna nodded again. "And now for who you feel like being talked about?" she added sympathetically.
Both boys shrugged together. "Extremes of both of us, I guess," Harry said, seeming indifferent. "As long as we know, no one else matters."
"Unless you might; no one's ever known both of us yet," Harry said frankly. Luna felt warm with pleasure at their telling her that.
"I've never known anyone else who matters either," she agreed. "Except maybe Ginny, but we haven't really spoken since we went into different Houses. I'm not sure if I miss her."
The boys didn't really seem to care. "Are you going to tell anyone about us?" the one on her left asked.
She smiled. "Why? Everybody has something unusual about them if you look long enough. No one would believe me anyway."
"Guess so," the one on the right considered. "No one believes we aren't different." He looked at her again. "We can be, though, if anyone does try to see. We won't ever let anything separate us unless we decide we want it to."
Luna nodded simply. "You're twins. Magical twins."
"Guess so," he said again, relaxing. The one on her left nodded and picked up his book, turning slightly away from them, but Harry on her right went on conversing quite sociably, just like he did with his friends. Luna didn't mind his brother's apparent disinterest and chatted on for quite a while, getting into a discussion of the likelihood of crumple-horned snorkacks surviving somewhere. Harry didn't seem to care that no one else believed in them.
* * *
"Hello, Harry," Luna greeted him one night after that when she arrived on the Astronomy tower.
"Hullo, Luna," he said absently in response, already peering up through his telescope.
"Careful, mate, I've seen her talking with Slytherins," the redhead on his other side hissed.
"I've only been talking with Harry," Luna said mildly, smiling at him. He fidgeted.
"I'm not scared of my brother, Ron," Harry said without looking away from his telescope.
The redhead looked torn. "Harry--mate--I know he's your brother, but--"
"Oh not again!" the bushy-haired girl huffed as she came up behind them, toting a large bag of books. "I think Harry knows his own brother a little better than you do, Ronald, and it's his business who he trusts!" He looked sulky, and she turned away with another huff to face Luna. "Excuse me, you are...?"
"A Slytherin spy," the redhead muttered, without much force.
"Luna Lovegood, a Ravenclaw," Harry said, still paying attention to the telescope.
"Hello," Luna said, smiling.
The bushy-haired girl frowned. "You're not in our year, are you? What are you doing up here?"
"I want to see if Mars and Venus are going to acknowledge one another when they dance, since they've been placed to represent such difficult to reconcile states. I think they should; love and war have never really been separate, have they?" Luna explained. The bushy-haired girl was so scholarly she might enjoy such a discussion.
But she just blinked, several times, and said, "Well... er, be that as it may, I don't think you can stay here during our class."
"Oh, all right," Luna said placidly. "I'll try the Owlery then."
The bushy-haired girl nodded brusquely and moved away to an unclaimed telescope, muttering to herself about finding Mars and Venus. Harry pulled away from his for a moment and shared a grin with Luna as she left.
* * *
"Hello. You look stressed," Luna commented, pausing by the tree where both boys lay stretched out, one on his stomach and one on his back.
"This Heir business is getting ridiculous," Harry grunted without opening his eyes. "Everyone who doesn't expect me to kill them expects me to save them. And nobody knows anything more than anybody else, so why should we?"
Luna sat down with them to consider. "Snakes don't have any secrets to tell?"
He snorted. "'Rip... tear... kill...' So it's some kind of snake responsible; doesn't mean we're better to risk our lives than the grownups who're supposed to be protecting all of us."
"Everybody's the same," the other Harry grumbled, throwing stones into the lake. "If we weren't taking turns I'd've hexed them all by now for badmouthing my brother."
Luna saw that they really needed an opportunity to let their frustrations out, so she inquired, "The same hex for all of them, or each their own?"
He considered. His pebbles started to skip once or twice before sinking. "I'd like to see Draco's veins turn muddy every time he says 'just half-blood.' And maybe grow warts whenever he makes another 'oh I'm with the Heir all right' nudge."
Luna giggled. Harry's stones were flying across the surface. "What about the other one?"
They established that Ron would be best punished by charming everyone else to believe he was the ickle little Slytherin mascot, the least discreet of the Hufflepuffs should be forced to suffer going around with transfigured rat noses and whiskers, and any Ravenclaws should have their books start shrieking on sight of them and wipe their pages blank for every homework and test. The bushy-haired Gryffindor Harry reluctantly decided was so far exempt--whatever she believed about the Heir of Slytherin, she was taking pains to keep her mouth shut about it around both of them. But Professor Lockhart deserved something so humiliating none of them could even imagine it, and Headmaster Dumbledore's beard ought to turn pinker every day he didn't do something rather than let all the blame and expectation fall on the twins' respective shoulders. But, they agreed, the hitch was that the crazy old wizard might decide he liked his beard pink.
By the end both Harrys were smiling as much as Luna at each new invention, and even worked out the practical details of how to do a few just for the challenge.
"You might try telling one of the teachers it must be a snake," Luna suggested when they had finished, and all three were leaning back staring at the clouds. "They can't hear, so they might not even know that much."
Harry blinked. "Might be," he said in a tone of discovery. "Who'd listen to us, though?"
"Professor Flitwick's exciteable, but he always has the answer for getting into the common room," Luna mused. "He told me about a nargle he thinks he saw once too when he thought I was a bit homesick."
The boys glanced at each other. "Okay," Harry said. "We'll tell him."
* * *
The twins looked troubled the first time Luna saw them during her second year, so she drifted over and inquired why.
"We have a godfather," Harry said, looking even more so. "Sirius Black."
Luna blinked thoughtfully. A lot of people lately seemed to be talking about him. "Is it nice to have family?"
"He's supposed to be trying to kill us," the other Harry said. "But I don't know. I'm not sure it makes a lot of sense. He knew our parents--he must've known we were twins. Would he treat us like we were twins?"
"His family was Slytherin, but he was Gryffindor. Would he only like one of us--maybe opposite of everyone else if he's dark? Is he really after both of us?" Harry went on, looking a little frustrated.
Luna nodded in sympathy. Those were difficult questions. "I suppose the easiest way to find out is to ask him. Whether he tells the truth or not, you'll be able to see his face."
"He's in hiding," the other Harry said. "And if we see him he might try to kill us."
"You don't need to worry about that." Luna smiled. "Villains always explain themselves first. So you can listen and then escape."
The boys glanced at one another and shrugged together.
"You think?" Harry asked, doubtfully.
She smiled again, serenely. "He'll want to tell you."
* * *
Luna didn't often seek the two out, especially when they weren't likely to be together, but in this case she had a feeling it was important enough that she ought to. She found Harry in the library, with, luckily, Harry just an aisle away.
"Professor Lupin mentioned he found a boggart for the third years' next classes," she explained.
Both boys immediately tensed, which was interesting. She didn't think many people really knew what their greatest fear was.
"Which House first?" Harry muttered, without seeming to listen for an answer. His tie turned silver and green. "I'll start muttering about green light as soon as he announces it; he won't let me get near it..."
"I'll look him straight in the eye and say I don't want anybody seeing mine if he asks," Harry determined, turning his tie red and gold with an absent tap.
"I don't think it really shows greatest fears anyway," Luna said calmingly, since they still looked tense. "For instance, mine's infinity--I used to try to imagine it when I was little, time and space going on and on forever without any end, and I'd terrify myself, feeling like I was losing my grip on my tiny little mind and getting lost forever in it, with no end, not even death. But how could a boggart copy that?"
The boys looked at one another, relaxing a bit as they were distracted from their own fear. "You think it just mimics something that scares you, then?" one asked.
"Well, yes." Luna tapped her chin thoughtfully. "I think it mimics whatever scares you that you're thinking of most. After all, changing it just requires imagining something else strongly."
"That makes sense," the other said after another glance. "Don't think we could manage something else though--it's always in our minds here."
Luna was terribly curious, but she didn't want to pry. It made friendships uncomfortable to ask a lot of questions that didn't want answering, and she liked to think they were friends.
"You can't do anything about it?" she asked instead, sympathetically.
"No," Harry said in a very low voice, not looking at anything. "Already do all we can." He touched his tie.
Luna thought she understood, but they explained anyway. She was warmed by their confidance.
"It's all of them that scares us--always trying to separate us. Making just one of us their hero, one of us suspicious. If they ever worked--"
"We'd be alone," Harry said softly. "We haven't got anything but us."
"Never dealt with it before we came here. Half the time Dursleys weren't sure there wasn't really just one of us," the other said almost as softly with a tiny, bitter sort of smile.
Luna decided they both needed a hug. But she couldn't reach them both, so she said as comfortingly as she could, "It must be very nice your parents named you both Harry, then."
That made them exchange the tiny smile without so much bitterness.
"We're not really either Harry," one said with a sort of daring. She realized that this was the first time they'd ever told anyone else. "Well, Harry's really either of us. But for just us--"
"I'm Ri, and he's Ro," the other finished, a little shyly. "From Hadrian and Harold."
Luna didn't know how to express herself, so she just gave them the brightest smile she could. They both smiled back, still a little shyly but now also looking a little happy.
"If you ever get surprised by a boggart," she said suddenly in a burst of inspiration, "think about having to get up and give a speech in front of the whole Great Hall about the Dark Lord's undershorts."
* * *
"And the Champion for Hogwarts is... Cedric Diggory," Dumbledore announced, to the Houses' applause. Luna looked at the Goblet and wondered why it was still flickering.
A fourth slip suddenly spat out of it, silencing everyone, and she instinctively twisted to look toward Ri and Ro even as Dumbledore's voice echoed hollowly, "Harry Potter." She made a mental note to ask if they had run into any Chinese who might have cursed them with an interesting life, and felt proud of them when neither looked terribly affected even though everyone else was glaring or whispering.
"Which one?" Gryffindor Harry asked.
Dumbledore looked at the parchment, and the Tournament officials and other Headmasters crowded around him to look too. "It only says Harry Potter," Ludo Bagman said loudly. "Well, boys, which of you entered?"
"Neither," Harry said flatly. "I told everyone I had no interest in risking my life and limbs again for nothing but money and glory I don't need."
"And what school is Harry Potter representing?" Slytherin Harry drawled. "The Goblet isn't supposed to choose two Champions for one, is it?"
"Of course not, of course not, someone must have come up with a fourth," Ludo Bagman said, still loudly. Luna thought he was starting to look nervous. "Well, one of you needs to join the other Champions, and then we'll sort this out..."
Gryffindor Harry picked up his fork. "I didn't enter."
Slytherin Harry crossed his arms. "If I'd be forced to participate for a different school, then, I want to know which one so it gets credit for the outcome."
"We don't know," Ludo Bagman said, very patiently and very more nervously.
"If both Mr. Potters would please adjourn to the next room," Dumbledore proclaimed, "we need not keep dinner waiting for the rest of the evening."
Luna watched the twins silently come together at the end of the line of adults filing away and mentally recited a Chinese charm she'd once heard against evil attention as strongly as she could. She hoped it was really Chinese.
* * *
"Harry--" The bushy-haired girl came up short and stared at Luna for a moment. "How come you've got your wand behind your ear?"
"If I had another one, I'd look like a jackalope," Luna said vaguely, smiling. The girl had interrupted them.
She looked lost. "What? What's a jackalope?"
"They're native to the States, especially the Western ones. It's too cold for them here," Luna explained. "They look like very large hares with antlers like deer. They can be quite dangerous. Fortunately they're terribly shy. Muggles don't even believe they exist."
"Yes... you don't say..." She began to look a little edgy. "Are you sure that's just muggles?"
But she hurried away without waiting for an answer.
"I think that's a bit of their own magic that no one knows about, to make everyone avoid them," Luna observed to Ro, not bothered by the rudeness. He smiled with her.
"Can't believe somebody could get us stuck in a bloody binding contract," he sighed meditatively a moment later. "Think it was a good idea me finally being the one?"
She considered, understanding that he meant Gryffindor Harry. "It seems like it ought to keep things more even this year, rather than like in my first. Instead of one of you being despised, you'll probably both just be disliked."
"Unless we win," he said gloomily.
"Do you think you might?" Luna asked.
He just shrugged. "We're trying to think of some way we might be able to take advantage of being twins, except that everybody'll suspect us of cheating like that whether we do or not. Might as well try going after Hermione in a minute and see if she'll start researching the past Tournaments for patterns and stuff."
"She does seem good with things in books," Luna agreed diplomatically, trying to be nice.
"Yeah, she's got her uses. You know anything that might help?"
Luna thought, tilting her head so the shapes of things weren't as immediately recognizable. "I don't think I do. I wonder whether it's really a tournament or a game."
"If it's a tournament, you'll have to rely on your skills to get through; if it's a game, they should give you some tool or clue that's a key if you can realize and figure it out in time."
"Huh." Ro tilted his head the opposite way. "Probably a tournament."
"It would probably be a good idea to watch for a key, though--"
He nodded. "'Cause if there is, it ups our odds of getting through alive."
Luna smiled encouragingly as nonverbal reinforcement of her support. "Just remember to watch with your brain to notice it."
* * *
"--Look at that! Look, ladies and gentlemen--it looks like independent Champion Harry Potter is going to complete the task with just one spell against the most dangerous dragon of the lot--the model's charmwork is holding up wonderfully to the demands from Engorgio, that's credit to its designers for that, you can even still see the number four there on its side--and that Horntail is reacting just as if another dragon were threatening her nest! There goes Mr. Potter--it looks like she hasn't even noticed him!--he's got the egg, ladies and gentlemen, the fourth Champion finishes in under five minutes!--"
Luna stood up in her seat to be able to see above the crowd screaming themselves hoarse, beaming.
* * *
Ri pelted across the open circle around the Cup ahead of Viktor Krum, gasping, head down with effort, and Luna knew he was giving his all to win despite the twins' agreement that they didn't want any more attention of any kind than they already got. They were still human, and boys; they couldn't help wanting approval, and to succeed in competition.
--Ri's hand closed around the shiny handle, and quite suddenly he wasn't there. For just an instant Luna stared like everybody else; then she rose and quickly stepped out of her aisle and down the stands, hurrying instinctively toward Ro. She didn't know what had happened, but she knew just from the brothers being so abruptly separated that it was disastrous. Ro's white, stunned face when she met him was merely further proof.
"S-something--bad," he said, his eyes not actually looking at her, his hands making little grasping motions for something that wasn't there. "Scared--don't know--dark--I can't do anything, I'm not there, he needs to be here--"
"Don't focus," she urged, trying to make her thoughts order and progress as rationally as she could. "Of course you have to be with him; stay there--come and get your broom so you can get to him, and I'll call your godfather and get Harry's broom so he can get back when you find him."
Ro followed her blindly, so she took his hand as they ran through the castle, and he grasped and straddled his broom in the same motion as soon as she passed it to him, throwing himself out the dorm window. Luna pattered back down the stairs to the common room and dropped to her knees in front of the fireplace, sweeping a pinch of Floo powder out of the tiny jar someone had left on the mantle.
"Harry Potter's godfather, emergency," she pronounced, since she didn't know his address, and was inwardly relieved when the flames went green. She promptly stuck her head in them.
The square of the room visible on the other side was dark, and it appeared empty. But then, she reminded herself, Sirius Black was in hiding and probably suspicious even of friends. So she swallowed quickly and repeated, "If Harry Potter's godfather is there, please, there's an emergency that he ought to be quite concerned about."
She waited briefly, holding her breath, and decided that she would have to go after Ro in another moment whether she had a Grim following her or not, before he got out of sight without her knowing where. She was just about to pull her head back from the fire when a man's voice rasped, "What?"
"I don't know," she explained quickly. "Harry got to the Cup and vanished, so Harry's taken his broom after him and I'm going to bring the other one so they can get back faster--"
"Get back," the voice ordered, and Sirius Black stepped through the very second after she had obeyed.
"That way," she continued, pointing out the window to Ro's barely visible form in the distance, and picking up Ri's Firebolt. Sirius Black snatched it from her and was flying off in pursuit even as he swung his leg over it. Luna had no time to protest that she had meant to go too.
After a moment of watching pensively from the same window, though, she decided that it was probably better for them to have the less weight, and as an afterthought removed herself from the Gryffindor tower before anyone could find her there. She went back outside, and saw several of the professors scrambling madly around the site of the Cup, conversing furiously about Portkeys and conspiracy theories. She drifted around the edge, not wanting to retake her place in the disturbed crowd, and tried to think what else she could do.
After a moment she went back inside and climbed up to the Owlery, suspecting that the twins' owl might be agitated since they were. It was much easier to find solace and patience with animals than with people.