Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me.
Summary: The second, less famous son of Lily and James Potter, reaches his breaking point when he finds that he cannot trust the only person he ever looked up to, his twin brother.
Warnings: AU, angst.
Being the younger brother of the boy-who-lived was never an easy task, but the only real solace Harry James Potter could find in it was the fact that through it all, Evan remained by his side. Older by half an hour, the redheaded Potter took his responsibility as an older brother seriously, something that had gained him the admiration of his parents as he always kept an eye out for his more introverted twin.
Whereas he was as outgoing as his father had been and was easily the Wizarding media's favourite person to follow given his bright smiles, willingness to provide autographs and words of encouragement whenever he was asked, his brother was the opposite. Like their mother, Harry preferred to remain out of the limelight while fully encouraging his brother to take all that was his due. Since that moment in their shared crib, when even as a toddler, the urge to protect was so strong that Evan moved in front of his twin and took the killing curse meant for him and miraculously survived, Harry knew that his older brother was his life and there was nothing he would not do for him.
His godfather Sirius often laughed at him as he followed Evan around, nicknaming him Shadow, but despite his blushes, Harry never minded, nor did Evan, indeed the older twin went out of his way to make his brother proud of him. Mastering quidditch earned him an earnest smile from his brother, something that meant more to him than anything else in the world, and the happiness he felt after coaxing a reluctant Harry onto a broom and watching him soar through the sky with even more grace than he could hope to achieve did nothing to dampen his affection for his little brother. Jealousy had no place in their relationship, they were brothers and they would always have each other's back. It was a promise they had made to each other their last night at Godric's Hollow, just before they were set to begin Hogwarts and it was one that they strove diligently to keep. It was a shame really that one of them would break it eventually and with it his brother's heart.
It hadn't taken long for the rumours to start that there was something seriously wrong with the younger Potter. To start with, a Potter in Ravenclaw - preposterous. The fact that their beloved saviour had stood from his spot in Gryffindor and cheered wildly for him (finally prompting others to do the same) meant little. Indeed, it was seen as an act of mercy towards the oddball Potter who, throughout the feast, shot anxious looks to his brother, never before having found himself in a situation where he would not have him to cushion his slightly anti-social tendencies.
Even among the Ravenclaws, the house of the learning, he was an oddity, sprouting passages with an ease that was daunting to the rest, leading them to ostracize him for being a know-it-all by the end of the week, no matter how many points he earned the house. And when, after Evan through sheer good luck had secured a spot as chaser on the Gryffindor team in his first year and had gone on to demand that his twin be allowed to tryout since an exception had already been made, everyone hailed him as a decent brother and praised him for Harry's magnificent flying ability. Harry himself received little praise and indeed, found censure from the Quidditch team, none to pleased that a first year had displaced their fifth year Seeker. In fact, had it not been for Professor Flitwick's presence during the try-out, Harry doubted the captain would have selected him, best flier or not. After all, he was the oddball Potter.
Never once did Harry complain, not when his only presents came from his family, while Evan's pile was in danger of tipping over. When tentatively after the holidays, his parents had sat him down since he never mentioned anything about the school that did not strictly have to do with academics, Harry reluctantly admitted that although grateful to Evan, he no longer loved Qudditch as he used to and played only because he had expressed a desire to face Harry in a match. Furthermore, he had found little friendship in Ravenclaw and although he did not say it, his parents easily realised that his brother's fame was partially responsible for it.
A talk with Evan later had seen a distraught redheaded boy seeking out his twin who had already made great headway into the reading list for the second term, and, held firmly in his embrace, Harry had listened to his brother's apologies for neglecting him and readily accepted his promise to spend more time with him in the upcoming term. And as to the scolding Evan gave him that night, after he insisted that their father enlarge the bed in his room so they could both share it as had been their habit in their younger days, Harry admitted that he had never seen his brother so happy surrounded by his friends that he did not want to disturb that for him. Evan sharply reminded him that as his younger brother he would never be a nuisance and had then engaged his twin in a wrestling match he easily won, but the message was clear. He would always have the time for his brother. Reassured by that fact, it was a much happier Harry Potter who returned to Hogwarts.
Evan had insisted he join him with his friends on the train but despite Evan's best efforts to include him in their conversations, it was awkward at best until Harry ended up feigning sleep, if only to give himself a respite from the terse conversations. He had to stifle a smile when Evan pulled him down so his head could rest on his shoulder although the happiness faded with the next spoken words.
"Why is he here Ev?" Ron Weasley whined, causing Evan to say sharply,
"Keep your voice down. He's sleeping."
"Exactly my point," he groused. "Why's he here? Doesn't he have somewhere else to mope?"
"Stop it Ron," his brother defended, even as Harry stiffened. Was this what people really thought of him? "I told you to stop insulting Harry. He is my brother."
The redhead snorted. "And what? He's weird, how many times must I tell you that? You've heard the rumours about him, he's an outcast in Ravenclaw for Merlin sake. Who studies so much that he has no friends? I tell you something's not right with him."
And so he had continued, at each juncture Evan butting in with fiercely whispered retorts as he attempted to defend his brother. However, it did little to reassure Harry, who noticed that with each passing minute, Evan's voice lost some of its intensity, until finally all he could say was "He's my brother."
Time passed and while Evan's stay at Hogwarts got better, Harry's grewincreasingly worse. By their second year, he had dropped out of the Qudditch team. He had thought it would be a welcomed move, none of them seemed to appreciate him and he was always yelled at the most by the captain. A word to Flitwick or even Evan would have ended that immediately but Harry did not want to be a nuisance and so he held his peace. The move made him a hated member of the house. They saw it as a betrayal, his denying them of his talent. When he had, incredulously asked if they meant him, the very one they always castigated he had been soundly lambasted. Not even Evan could understand his decision, not that Harry had ever told him the true reasons, and somehow seeing the disappointed look on his older brother's face tore at his heart so much so that he would have instantly rejoined the team had it been possible, if only to bring a smile back to Evan's face.
The Christmas holidays occurred immediately after that and somehow or another, Ron was spending the entire time with them and being the loudmouth that he was, Harry easily heard his comments of "Your brother's bonkers!" and others along the line with little difficulty, even from a next room. His mother had offered to let him invite a friend over, something he had shrugged off and dismissed. The only person in Ravenclaw he was relatively close to now was Luna Lovegood and only because she was as much of an outcast as he was, although not as hated. His parents were once again aware that their younger son Hogwarts days, despite his high marks were not going as smoothly as they would have liked, but with an extra houseguest they never found the time to address it, and Evan, captivated by his friend's presence, never even noticed it.
Third year came and went, with the addition of Hermione Granger to Evan's group of friends so now there were two additional persons who traipsed around Godric Hollow or dragged Evan off to their homes, leaving Harry alone. Unlike Weasley, Granger was a bit of a study bug but even she thought he was strange, a feeling no doubt perpetuated by the fact that she had finally discovered who was the mystery student who kept her out of the top spot in their year. It just was not possible, he heard her complaining to his brother once. How could he be beating her when he did not seem at all extraordinarily smart? Harry had not even waited around for his brother's reply.
However if Harry thought it could not get worse, he was seriously wrong, for in their forth year the rumours started. There was talk on the horizon that a new Dark Lord was on the rise and recruiting members (a rumour that was resoundly proved to be a hoax by one particular newspaper seeking to increase its readership). However, the damage was done and as teenagers were prone to do, the article was morphed and spread around until it became a tale of a depraved wizard who had actively recruited members from the school to be his new evil army. And somehow, people believed he was one of the so called recruits. Why? It was always the silent ones of course. And they had even given him a motive, jealous of his noble brother, the black sheep of the Potter family trying to make a name for himself no matter the cost. The fact that Luna, in her own special brand of humour had taken to calling him my lord (he was her prince after all in Lunaverse) only propelled the rumour-mill.
The end of their forth year proved a welcome reprieve and having remembered a conversation between his older brother and father some months before, Harry threw his energy into creating the perfect birthday gift for his brother, something unique and one hundred percent his efforts only. And so he had taken to locking himself in his room for hours on end, emerging only when necessary and even then carrying his research books around with him. His parents, who had by now resigned themselves to him being a quiet scholar made little comment, Lily willingly giving him an advance on his allowance to fund his little experiment. It was the first time he had ever made such a request and with the hopeful look he had given her, she had willingly given the necessary money over, only to wonder a few days later if she should have denied him, given the way he had locked himself away for even longer periods and outside his door she could her him muttering loudly to himself.
Weasley's presence a week before their birthday proved an unwelcomed one for Harry, as with his partner in crime, Evan and he ran amok in the house, causing random disturbances that led to Harry begging his father to sound proof his room. Evan, overhearing him had shot him a guilty look but with a snort from Ron it was gone, and the pair left, the elder twin not even noticing the flash of pain that crossed his twin's features before he returned to his room, not even noticing when James followed and cast the required spells after staring sadly at his younger boy before leaving, vowing after their birthday to send Ron home and sit his sons down for a serious talk. At this point it seemed that only Evan was unaware of the rift between him and his brother and it was something they could no longer ignore. How could James have known that only a few days later on the 30th of July, that rift would widen into a gulf that would be practically insurmountable?
Harry was feverishly working on the gift. It was only a few hours away from midnight and he had sworn to have it done by then, ready to be presented to Evan. As such, he had excused himself early from the pre-birthday meal, his mother, although mildly disappointed let him leave after bidding polite goodbyes to the Grangers and Weasleys who had joined them for an overnight celebration. It was only then truthfully, that she realised that there was no one there whom Harry had invited and with a pang she realised that she had not asked him - only Evan who had shrugged on his way to the floo and said that there was no-one Harry was really close to. The easiness with which Evan had said it disturbed her and it was then she had begged James to intervene as it was obvious that the twins were not as he had said working out the issue on their own. Feeling extremely guilty, she could barely enjoy the remainder of the meal, as she recalled now clearly Harry mentioning a Lovegood girl on occassion and wondered if it would be too obvious if she tried to get the girl to attend the party the next day.
The speaking glances the remainder of the teenagers sent each other should have been warning enough, especially when they disappeared not too long after Harry, whispering feverishly among each other. But then, wasn't that the way with teenagers? It was only when, almost an hour later a crying Harry burst into the room, clutching something to his chest did they realise that something was terribly wrong.
"Harry!" she asked in concern at her younger son, only to be held in place when the other three teenagers hurried in wearing various expressions. Hermione looked incredibly guilty, Ron seemed mystified, but it was Evan's expression that was the most worrisome, he seemed horrified.
"Harry please wait!" he shouted desperately, none of them seemingly realising that there were others in the room. "I'm sorry!"
His words were the wrong thing to say, for the younger Potter, who had been halfway through the room, spun and the adults and teenagers alike cringed when they saw the open hurt in his eyes as tears continued to trail down his cheeks and his hands on whatever he held tightened.
"Sorry?" he repeated, in a tear-choked voice. "Sorry?"
"Harry," Evan began, going to move forward only to stop when Harry took a step back, a sob tearing from his throat. Riveted by the scene the adults could do little but watch what was playing out and hopefully understand.
"You...of all people..." he choked out, another tear falling, "would believe that of me?"
"Harry, no...I...please, it wasn't what it looked like," the elder Potter finally managed, a pained look on his face, even as the teenagers behind him glanced at each other.
"Oh?" Harry asked, a hard edge entering his voice, alongside the weepy quality. "So you didn't break into my room to find the 'dark artefact' I was working on?"
The gasp that tore from the adults' throats were palpable and Granger and Weasley, finally noticing the audience, winced, Granger looking even guiltier.
"Harry...yes...I was," he admitted in a small voice. "But Ron said...and you have to admit...you were acting shady since we got home..." he finished lamely.
His attempt to shift blame had the opposite effect than he expected and for the first time in living memory, the Potters' saw their younger son enraged. "So it's my fault!" he yelled, pain obvious in his tone. "My fault that my brother of all people thinks I'm some budding dark lord because I was working on something in my room."
"Don't yell at him!" Weasley broke in, drawing all attention to him. He nearly withered under the condemnatory looks sent his way, most of all by his parents who apparently realised his part in the whole affair. However he doggedly continued. "If you have nothing to hide why wouldn't you show it to us! What harm could it have done unless you were hiding something eh Potter! Don't try to make us look bad because..."
"You know nothing!" Harry screamed, gesticulating wildly with a free hand. Around him, objects in the room started reacting to his temper and were slowly vibrating, not that any one noticed at the moment. "Who the hell are you!" he demanded continuing. "I live here, not you! Who in Merlin's name are you to demand what I am doing in my room in my house. This is the Potter residence, not the Weasley! You had no right to break down my door, same way you Granger had no right to try to accio what does not belong to you!"
At this, the bushy haired girl dropped her gaze, a glance to her mother showing that she was in major trouble. "But most of all," Harry continued, tears streaming down his face once again. "Was the fact that you were with them Evan!" His voice broke at this point. Across the room, tears were streaming down Lily Potter's face at her son's obvious pain while James was torn between comforting his second born and hexing the other three to oblivion.
"You're my brother," Harry continued, tears dripping copiously as he talked. "You didn't ask me anything, you just went along with them. You always go along with them. Why Evan? Why? I'm you're brother, not him. I'm sorry I'm not perfect," he gasped out, not even noticing the tears that were now coursing down his elder brother's cheeks. "I don't care that you don't talk to me in school anymore; it hurt when you didn't defend me against the rumours but I thought you didn't know and I wasn't going and tell you. But not only did you know, you believed them...them over me. I thought you loved me Evan?"
With that last heart felt line, Harry broke off, unable to continue and half-blinded by the tears he was shedding. In one last move, he flung the parcel he had been gripping forward, and with a thump it landed at his brother's feet. "Happy Birthday Evan," he managed as he stumbled out of the room, running blindly.
Lily was after him in a second, running to comfort her poor boy and to stop him from doing something dangerous. The Grangers and Weasleys were on their feet, loudly yelling at their children, Hermione taking it silently even as she wondered how she had been so stupid, while Weasley half heartedly tried to defend himself. James Potter was standing besides his older son, never so disappointed with him as before as now, but knowing from the shocked expression on his face that no words were necessary. The guilt he was suffering was enough.
Moreso when he knelt and picked up an almost completed comic book filled with multiple dimensioned mobile pictures of him. The first of many sobs tore from his throat as he flipped through it, James from besides him eyes watering as well as he recognised what it was from an earlier conversation with his son. Evan had made an offhand comment about how, if there was one thing in the world he wanted, it was to have a comic book about himself. "That way I'd actually see myself as a hero," he had laughed.
And his twin, one who he was now realising how much he had neglected, had took him to his word and had spent the past few weeks creating this for him, the rip on the last page clearly indicating that he had been working on it when they had barged in. Harry had been so protective of it because he didn't want it ruined, and what had they- he- tried to do but grab it from him, so much so that, once Ron's accusation had been spewed, he looked at them through wide eyes before he ran off, tears streaking down his face? The hurt in his face then and now was impossible to erase from memory and Evan stood there frozen, unaware of anything, not even when the Weasleys and then Grangers departed, apologising for their children's behaviour, not even when he heard his father leave for a moment and his mother's angry voice came from beyond. Not even when James returned and clasped a hand on his shoulder and he looked up to see the expression on his father's face.
As James propelled him from the room and up the stairs to his own bedroom, only one thought was on his mind. What had he done? And the answer was dismally clear.
He had broken his brother's heart.