A/N: PLEASE READ THIS.
All my stories are set in the same 'universe' and on the same timeline as each other. This one follows on (a few years later) from House of Cards, These Mortals, and Your World (and also, more tangentially, Playing with Fiendfyre).It can be read alone, as it has its own complete plot, but it contains spoilers for some of those stories.
If you've been reading those ones, you will find (in the later chapters of this) a continuation of the overarching story line that threads through most of my fics, involving the rise of the Dark League.
I use the books as my canon - not the films or The Cursed Child. I do use a lot of the early information JK Rowling gave us in interviews etc., but I originally wrote this story before Pottermore and before the more recent reveals, so I don't use those either. Within those limits, I may twist canon, but I don't break it. This story does involve time travel, but (unlike The Cursed Child) I try to stay true to the essential theories of time travel as depicted in the books. It's not a 'go back and fix everything' fic.
Really appreciate anyone who takes the time to review any of my fics, I'm always trying to improve my writing and love feedback!
I also have a Tumblr dedicated to my fanfiction, with the url aebbeswriting - please check it out, give it a follow if you like my stories, and feel free to interact with me there, if you have questions (anon is switched on), thoughts, requests (no promises to fulfil them though) etc.
Lily Potter grimly tossed down the remains of her drink, set the glass down, picked her bag up, and left the Muggle bar, emerging into the mild August night and the yellow light of the street lamps. The whiteness of her knuckles gripping her handbag showed the nervousness that her face did not; it was long past midnight, and she was alone in a strange area.
She was angry too. How could he just leave her here, in the middle of an unknown Muggle district? He had claimed to love her; that wasn't the kind of thing you did to someone you loved. Love? It had seemed more like hate as he spat out those horrible words across the table before he left - did love turn to hate so fast? She didn't understand how it had all turned so bad anyway, when it had only been a fleeting bit of fun and she had never thought of it turning into anything more serious.
She stopped and took a few breaths of the summer night air. Her head was spinning from the effects of downing vodka too quickly. She was not the things he had called her. She liked having fun, that was all, and if she'd been a man nobody would have thought twice about it. But she was a girl, so they labelled her, judged her, even the ones who said they loved her. It wasn't her fault he had misunderstood the situation. When had she ever behaved as if it was something serious, as if she wanted to settle down and make her future with him? She knew, uneasily, that she could have let him down more gently, but she was drunk and it had seemed like a joke, the things he had said. His anger hadn't been a joke though - that hard disgusted tone that spoke ugly words and sounded like a stranger.
Miserably, she stumbled down the street, hurrying away from the catcalls of a couple of men who had left the same bar as her. Round the corner, there were no catcalling men because there were no people at all, and the street lights were further apart. Her shoes were uncomfortable, pinching her toes and rubbing her heels, and for the first time she was aware of just how short her skirt was. She straightened up. There was no need to make herself look more stupid and vulnerable than she already did. She wasn't that drunk really, and if she concentrated, she could almost stop her head spinning. But she really could not walk in these heels, she realised after another few wobbling steps. Feeling humiliated, she slipped the shoes off and continued up the pavement in her sheer, skin-coloured tights.
She wanted to go home, but home was in Devon and she was hopeless at Apparition at the best of times; it wasn't worth risking in this state. But, she thought in a moment of relieved clarity, she could call the Knight Bus. Yes, that was what she'd do. And she could sneak into the house quietly, and her parents need never see or know, and tomorrow would be a new day and she could pretend that none of this had happened and that Tim Fawcett didn't exist. She fumbled in her bag, looking for a hand mirror. She refused to call the Knight Bus in this state; there might be somebody she knew on it. Her fingers found something small and metallic. Keys? Necklace? No…
It happened so suddenly, so unexpectedly, that it was over before she realised that it had begun. There was a roar, a flash of gold light, a feeling like a strong wind; so strong that it caught her off her feet and flung her heavily against a wall. The roar got louder, and there were voices in it; young men's voices, shouting. Then all was silent, and Lily was sitting, curled in a foetal position, her back against the wall and her head on her knees.
"What the hell?" an angry voice said. "What did you do?"
"That wasn't me!" The second voice was somehow familiar, and yet she didn't know who it was.
"Well it sure as hell wasn't me," the first voice said roughly.
And suddenly Lily, through the alcoholic fog, realised what it was that she had touched. Aunt Hermione's specially modified Time Turner. She had been showing it to Lily's parents only the other day, and had accidentally left it on the table in the kitchen.
"I'll take it," Lily had said, "and give it to her when I go to London." And she had put it in her bag there and then, so she didn't forget.
Only she had forgotten of course; she had forgotten even to get in touch with Aunt Hermione. But what exactly had Aunt Hermione said it did? All Lily really remembered her saying was that it wasn't finished and was unstable. Her father had told Lily to be careful with it when she took it. She groaned, and the two young men, who were still arguing about who had caused the golden light and the noise, heard her and turned towards her.
"Holy shit!" one of them exclaimed. "Where did she come from?"
Slowly, Lily uncurled herself, her hand sliding into her bag and finding the comforting shape of her wand.
"Fucking hell," the other young man muttered. "Now we'll have to modify her memory."
So they were wizards. But they clearly did not realise that she was a witch.
The first young man knelt down beside her.
"Hey! Are you okay?" he asked.
The next instant, her wand was against his throat.
"Try to modify my memory, and I'll hex you, I swear I will!" she hissed, her voice only slightly slurred. Shit! Why had she said hex, like a silly school girl? She should have threatened to kill him.
"Whoa!" He held his hands in surrender, and glanced over his shoulder at his friend. "She's a witch."
"Yeah, obviously." the second young man, the one whose voice was so strangely familiar, sounded amused. "She's also drunk, so I'd watch what you do, Padfoot, or she'll hex you anyway by mistake."
Drunk? She wasn't that drunk. He was laughing at her. Lily's grip tightened on her wand.
Padfoot. Why was that name so familiar?
Her brain cleared with the sudden, shocking realisation. Aunt Hermione's Time Turner. It sent you back in time, like a normal Time Turner. Only where a normal Time Turner would only take you back to your own past, this one would take you however far back you wanted, or at least that was the idea; Aunt Hermione hadn't finished it though, and it wasn't stable. There had been more as well, which she only vaguely remembered; something about a pull of blood, needing the force of a connected bloodline to pull you to a specific time...
And here she was, and Padfoot… Padfoot was the nickname of Sirius Black, her father's godfather, who had died long before she had been born. Which made the thin boy with untidy hair who stood in the shadows and spoke with a voice that was both like and unlike her father's - that made him James Potter, Lily's own grandfather.
"Look, we're not going to modify your memory," the man who must be Sirius said. "We thought you were a Muggle, that was all."
She realised that she was still stabbing him in the neck with her wand and withdrew it slightly, although she did not lower it. She had to be sure.
"What's your name?" she demanded. She was sobering up and her voice was steadier.
He looked at her uncertainly, her wand still trained on him, and she remembered that when her grandfather had been young, they had been in the middle of the First War, unable to know who to trust.
"Sirius Black," he said at last. "And my friend's James Potter. And now would you put the wand down? You're making me nervous."
She did not move it.
"What's your name?" James asked, from behind Sirius.
She laughed, and heard her voice wobble. "You wouldn't believe it if I told you."
Sirius raised his eyebrows. "Why? Who are you?"
"Look, Padfoot, maybe we should go somewhere less public," James said, in a low voice. "I mean…" He glanced at Lily, sitting dishevelled on the ground, her tights now with a ladder in them and her shoes clutched in the hand that wasn't holding her wand.
"Right, yeah. Maybe you'd like to tell her that," Sirius said wryly. "Because at the moment, she's still got her wand trained on me, so I'm not really in a position to make suggestions."
"Look." James turned back to her. "I know you've got no reason to trust us, really. Except, I suppose, that we haven't tried anything yet, even though I doubt you could take us both on. But if we can help at all - I mean, I'm not totally sure what happened there, or where you came from, but d'you need us to take you somewhere, or see you home or something? Or if you need help or anything..."
Lily stared at him. He looked like her father, only with her brother's brown eyes. Trust them? She'd been hearing stories about these two all her life. She knew them almost as well as she knew her living grandparents, the Weasleys.
"I haven't got anywhere to go," she said. A simple statement of fact that gave nothing away. They'd probably be coming up with all kinds of guesses, but she couldn't help that. Let them assume she was a victim of some sort. Of the war, maybe. On the run from the Death Eaters, or just a runaway from home. They might be wondering other things about her - whether they could trust her. But they didn't seem to think she was much of a threat, which she supposed she wasn't, even if she'd wanted to be.
"Well, look," Sirius said. "Whatever that was that just happened, it could have attracted some attention we don't really want, so James is right - we should get out of here. Let's all get back to my place, and then we can talk."
"My wife's there," James added. "We're not, you know, abducting you or anything."
Lily almost smiled, despite the surreality of everything. "It's okay, I trust you," she said. "I know who you are."
James raised his eyebrows at Sirius, but was met with only a shrug from his friend. Then he held out a hand to Lily. She lowered her wand, took his hand - her grandfather's hand, she thought with a shock - and allowed herself to be pulled up.
"You'd better take her on the bike, Padfoot," James said. "The broom would take two, but easier not to. I'll meet you back there, yeah?"
For the first time, Lily noticed the motorbike parked a few yards away. A broomstick lay abandoned on the ground beside it, but as James held his hand out, it sprang up into his grip.
Sirius nodded, glancing around them. "Okay. Let's get going."
James mounted the broom, and a moment later he was gone into the night. Sirius smiled at Lily.
"Do you mind flying?" he asked her.
"I play Quidditch actually, so no," Lily began, a little offended by the question - although there was no reason to be offended, she told herself, since he didn't know anything about her. She was on the point of telling him that she had played for the Gryffindor team when she stopped herself. He would only want to know why he didn't recognise her, considering that he couldn't be more than a year or two older than her at the moment.
"Well, that's good," was all he said.
A moment later, she was seated on the motorbike. He climbed on behind her, putting his arms around her. His solid warmth was a relief, for she'd started to feel very cold. The bike roared into life, sped off along the ground for a few moments, then took off, a little like a Muggle aeroplane.
With the wind in her face, she was sobering up quickly, and the sheer unreality of this situation was hitting her anew. These boys were dead. At least, in 2027 they were dead. Now, they were very much alive. What year would it be? They were only around twenty.
And James had died at twenty one. Her stomach sank at the thought. It had never really struck her before. He had just been her grandfather, and grandfathers did die, sometimes before their grandchildren were born. But he had been so young. And Sirius… the handsome boy with the mischievous smile, who was sitting behind her on the bike and warming her with his body heat. Sirius would spend the next twelve years in Azkaban for betraying his best friend and murdering a street full of Muggles, neither of which crimes he had actually committed.
"So," Sirius called, above the roar of the bike, "still not going to tell me your name?"
She shook her head. "You'd probably crash the bike if I did."
She felt his grin through his chest.
"Is it that bad?"
She closed her eyes.
"You have no idea."