Disclaimer: 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 Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A/N: This chapter is unbeta'd.
Chapter one: A Horrendous Summer Begins
When Harry woke up, he had a moment of disorientation. He wasn't at Hogwarts anymore, but the brightness of the room meant he wasn't at the Dursleys either. Then it all came back to him and he realized he was at Grimmauld Place. In fact, he was in the same room he'd stayed in before.
It wasn't strange that Harry hadn't recognized the room when he first woke up. The only things that were the same where the high ceiling of the room and the doorknob in the shape of a snake. Where the room had been gloomy and dark before, it now had pale blue walls with Quidditch posters on the walls, making the room bright and airy. The twin beds had been replaced with a canopy bed like the ones at Hogwarts.
Harry dragged himself out of bed, got dressed and made his way downstairs to the kitchen in search of breakfast. On his way down there, he once again marveled at the changes. No more house-elf heads, no portrait of Mrs. Black. He was still wondering about how Sirius had managed to get it removed, but he couldn't ask without giving away that he knew much more than he should.
In the kitchen, Sirius was seated at the table with a cup of tea in front of him. A plate of breakfast was waiting for Harry on the table, next to a familiar looking package. Harry stopped dead in his tracks as he gaped t the long, slender package.
"Hey Harry, take a seat," Sirius said cheerfully.
Harry mechanically walked to his chair and dropped down on the seat. He started eating his breakfast, but his gaze kept straying to the package. He knew it couldn't be a Firebolt, that broom wouldn't be released until next summer. Besides, he wasn't playing Quidditch this time around. It might not even be for him, Harry sternly reminded himself. But he couldn't help but hope.
"Why don't you just unwrap it?" said Sirius in a teasing voice.
Harry looked up at his godfather with hot cheeks, embarrassed at getting caught staring. Sirius was looking at him with an impish smile, amusement shining in his dark eyes. With another nod and a soft 'go on' from Sirius, Harry shoved his plate aside and attacked the brown wrapping paper.
Once Harry saw what was inside, he gasped. A perfect, gleaming, brand new Nimbus 2001. Tears burned in Harry's eyes as he stroked the handle of the broom with a shaking hand.
A touch on his shoulder startled Harry. Sirius had walked around to his side of the table and was now standing behind him. The smile had slipped off his face and he was looking anxiously at Harry. Not liking that look on Sirius' face, Harry smiled through his tears.
"It's great," he said with a hoarse voice.
Sirius pulled him in a hug and Harry clung to the other man. All of his fears about Sirius not liking him now that he was a Slytherin had disappeared with this wonderful gift. When the hug ended, Harry felt a lot lighter.
"I figured we could get in some training for the Quidditch try-outs," Sirius said.
"That sounds great!" Harry said with a grin. "I wanted to try out for Seeker. Now I'll definitely have a chance."
"Well, I think we can rustle up another broom and a Snitch somewhere," Sirius said with a wink.
Harry quickly wolfed down the rest of his breakfast while Sirius looked on amused. When he was done, Sirius showed him the garden and the shed, where another new broom was, as well as Quidditch supplies.
"As long as we stay above the garden, we won't be seen by the Muggles," Sirius said.
Considering the garden was about two Quidditch fields in size, Harry wasn't likely to wander outside the boundaries. Quickly donning some gear, they both kicked off the ground. Harry did some loops around the garden, the exhilarated feeling of flying blocking out everything.
"You still want to play?" Sirius shouted at him.
"Bring it on!" Harry shouted back.
Sirius released the Snitch and after a count of ten, both of them started after it amidst much laughter from both of them.
The first week of the summer holiday was over before Harry could blink. It was filled with flying, getting to know Sirius and some homework. It was a sharp contrast to all the holidays he'd spent with the Dursleys. There the atmosphere had been thick with tension, nothing Harry did or said was ever good enough, and anything magic was definitely off limits. How different life with Sirius was. It was filled with laughter, fun things, and Sirius actually helped him with his homework when Harry asked. It was amazing.
So when Harry came downstairs on Monday afternoon after having worked on his Transfigurations homework, he was surprised to find a melancholy Sirius in the cozy living room. The man looked up as Harry walked into the room, but the smile he tried to give came out more as a grimace.
"Everything all right?" Harry asked.
"Yeah," Sirius said. "Just old memories." He gestured towards the box on the coffee table. "I got this today, it's the box I told you about."
Harry took a seat next to his godfather. Sirius had indeed talked about a box of old stuff from his parents that was in his vault. He'd never seen it before, because in the old timeline Sirius never had the opportunity to get it, if he'd even remembered it.
Together, they started going through the things in the box. First came a stack of photographs. Most of them were taken at Hogwarts and included all the Marauders, but there were a couple that had just James and Sirius in it, as well as two people Harry recognized as his grandparents.
"These were taken in the summer holiday before out last year. I was no longer talking with my family and didn't want to go home, so I stayed with James' parents," Sirius explained.
Harry slowly looked through the pictures as Sirius told stories about that summer. He'd never heard any of this before and for a moment he bitterly thought about everything he could've had. Were it not for the stupid justice system in the Wizarding World, he could've grown up hearing these tales.
After the pictures came a stack of parchments. Sirius handed them over with a grin.
"What's this?" Harry asked curiously.
"Take a look," Sirius said.
Harry started reading, then looked back up at Sirius.
"These are all pranks!" he exclaimed.
Sirius barked out a laugh and nodded.
"Yes, what you're holding is the official record of the Marauders," he said. "All of our pranks, starting in third year, is there."
"This is great," Harry said as he leafed through it.
"Don't get too excited," Sirius said. "If you use them, a lot of the teachers will know exactly who did them."
"Oh, but they have to catch us, besides, we usually change things around," Harry said distracted as he kept reading.
"Us?" Sirius asked.
Harry looked up and felt himself go red.
"Uh…yeah..well," he stammered.
Sirius grinned and squeezed his shoulder.
"Relax kid," he said. "I'm not going to give you away. Although, I am curious as to who else is a member of the next generation of Marauders."
"Oh, well, we just did one prank, really," Harry said. "Draco made the potion and convinced a house-elf to slip it into the Weasley twins drinks, I did the research together with Theo, and Hermione cast the needed charms."
"Did you get caught?" Sirius asked, chuckling.
"Of course not," Harry said grinning.
"Oh, you are so much like your father," Sirius said. "No wonder you got Sorted into Gryffindor."
Harry's mirth immediately vanished. Sirius must have noted his sudden tension as he stopped chuckling.
"You all right?" Sirius asked.
Harry bit his lip. He really hadn't thought this was a problem, he'd figured Sirius knew and was okay with it. And now he'd have to tell him, without knowing how he would react.
"I, uh, I thought you knew, I thought I'd told you," Harry said.
"Hey, slow down kiddo," Sirius said, sounding concerned. He placed a hand on Harry's shoulder. "Whatever it is, it can't be that bad, right?"
"I was Sorted into Slytherin," Harry blurted out.
The hand on his shoulder tightened for a moment and something flickered in Sirius' eyes, but it was gone too fast for Harry to identify.
"Well, you father would still be proud of you," Sirius said softly. "And so am I."
Harry felt weak with relief. Sirius now knew and he was fine with it. In fact, he was even proud. He gave his godfather a smile and together they turned back to the box to see what else was in it. Harry felt silly he had worried at all, after all, Sirius had always loved him for being just Harry.
The tapping on the window made Harry look up from his homework. It was Hedwig demanding entry and Harry quickly opened the window. The owl soared inside to her perch, where she daintily stuck out her leg to show the letter tied to it.
Harry untied the letter and fed Hedwig a few owl treats. He opened the letter to see Hermione's familiar script flowing on the page. It was the third letter in two weeks and it looked like it was just as long as the other two. In it, she wrote that she was going to Italy with her parents for three weeks, so she wasn't expecting any letters from him until afterwards. Harry figured that it was more because she didn't want to make Hedwig fly all the way to Italy than the fact she wouldn't find the time to write him back, but since he didn't want Hedwig to make such a long trip either, he was fine with it.
What concerned him a little was that she hadn't written down a word about her plans. He knew she had to have some kind of plan regarding the Muggleborn prejudices existing in the Wizarding World, but she hadn't even mentioned it. He just hoped she wouldn't do something impulsive or foolish before talking to him, especially as he'd already promised to help. This was definitely one area in which Slytherin cunning should play a bigger role than Gryffindor bravery.
Harry put Hermione's letter in his trunk with the other letters he'd gotten that summer. With a sigh, he closed the trunk again. Three long letters from Hermione, one letter from Theo, but none from Draco. He didn't know if it was because Draco had not yet found the time to reply to Harry's letter, or if it was because something was wrong. But knowing what he now did about Draco's homelife, Harry was betting on the latter one. He just hoped Draco wasn't in trouble because of Harry's letter to him.
Deciding that he didn't want to risk getting Draco in any more trouble if his letter had indeed brought him the wrath of Narcissa, Harry grabbed some parchment and a quill and jotted down a quick note to Theo. Surely Narcissa couldn't be angry about a letter from a fellow, well respected pureblood, could she? Maybe Theo could get some news from Draco and then tell Harry.
"Sorry to have to send you out again so soon," he said to Hedwig while tying the letter to her leg. "I'm just really worried about Draco and maybe Theo has some answers."
Hedwig hooted softly and gave a gentle nip to his finger, then took flight and left through the open window. Harry watched as she flew away until he couldn't see her anymore before closing the window. He just hoped he didn't bring trouble to Theo's door as well.
Harry checked his Charms textbook for the third time, but the information really wasn't there. With a sigh, he checked over what he'd written down. No, he hadn't answered the question Flitwick had asked yet. Well, he had, partially, but that wasn't good enough. With a sigh, he picked up his essay and went to find Sirius. Perhaps he could help, or at least point Harry into the direction of another book that would have the answer.
That was one of the many benefits of living at Grimmauld Place, the library full of books about all kinds of magic. The Dark magic books had been removed, apart from one cabinet that was warded, but that still left a whole lot of books on virtually every topic there was. Well, except Muggle Studies, but considering it was the Black Family library, that wasn't too surprising.
Harry walked into the drawing room, expecting to find Sirius there. The man spent most of his time in that room, reading mostly. It didn't surprise Harry in the least. The drawing room was the brightest room in the house, receiving sunlight for most of the day. After years in a dark and dreary cell, it must feel like paradise to Sirius.
The shout startled Harry, but wartime reflexes kicked in fast. He was crouched down with his wand in hand before he had even processed that it had been Sirius who'd shouted. A glance around the room showed him there were no other people present besides Sirius, who was crouched down by one of the windows. The man had his own wand out and was keeping his eyes locked on something outside.
Carefully, keeping low and out of range from anything that could come through the windows, Harry made his way to Sirius' side.
"What is it?" he asked in a low voice.
"Death Eaters, outside," Sirius whispered.
Harry cursed under his breath. How had they found him? Grimmauld Place was supposed to be protected. For that matter, why were they here? Had Harry's actions that changed the timeline also changed the activity level of the Death Eaters? Harry hoped not, but in truth it didn't matter. They first had to deal with the Death Eaters that were here before thinking about why they were here.
"Can they break the wards?" he asked.
"If given enough time, yes," Sirius said.
"I'll go Floo the Aurors," Harry said.
"No," Sirius said, grabbing Harry by the arm. "We can't trust them. Too many are in You-Know-Who's pocket."
Harry had to admit Sirius had a point. Too many Death Eaters and sympathizers had been allowed to go free after Voldemort's fall, many of them within the Ministry. Still, they should be able to contact somebody for help, shouldn't they?
"Damn it, they seem to be getting through," Sirius said.
Harry left Sirius' side, crawling closer to the next window. It would give them a greater range for their spells. Carefully, he peeked out the window. The street below was deserted, there were no Death Eaters, nor were there any Muggle passersby.
"I don't see them," Harry said confused.
"What do you mean, you don't see them?" Sirius whispered harshly. "There are at least ten of them, right there on the street."
Harry took another look, but the street was still deserted. He glanced over at Sirius, who was still looking out the window. He swallowed harshly. He didn't know what was going on, but there were no Death Eaters. He stood up, catching Sirius' attention.
"James, what are you doing, get down!"
Tears sprung into Harry's eyes at hearing his godfather call him by his father's name. But he bit them back, knowing whatever was going on, Sirius was not in completely rational right now. Before Harry could say anything though, Sirius sprung up, a wild look in his eyes.
"You're not James!" he shouted.
The words brought a spark of hope to Harry that whatever was going on, Sirius was beginning to snap out of it. The Stunner aimed at him told him otherwise. Harry just managed to duck and the spell wizzed over his head.
"Sirius, it's me, Harry," he shouted.
Sirius either didn't hear him, or didn't recognize him. Either way, he kept shooting spells. Harry managed to duck out of the way of some of them and he tried to keep some pieces of furniture between himself and Sirius, while trying to get through to the man. He was forced to put up a shield as Sirius demonstrated he was no slouch at dueling.
"Sirius, please, it's me Harry, remember?" Harry pleaded.
Sirius threw a Blasting Curse his way. Harry saw it hurtling towards him, but he didn't have the time to get out of the spell's path. It blasted against his shield, shattering it and slamming Harry into the wall. Harry cracked his skull against the wall and a sharp pain shot up from his left arm. It was through sheer determination that Harry managed to hold onto both his wand and consciousness.
In a reflex, he recast his shield, which wavered but did manage to deflect the Incarcerous Sirius shot his way. He knew he was getting weaker, knew he was close to losing consciousness. He'd shot a few spells toward Sirius earlier, but Sirius had the upper hand. He knew far more magic than Harry did and Harry had been caught by surprise. Also, Harry didn't want to hurt Sirius, while Sirius had been fighting with no hold barred against Harry.
Now though, Harry was nowhere strong enough to do anything to Sirius. The only way to go was to get away, but Sirius was covering the door. Then Harry's eyes fell on the fireplace, just two steps from where he'd crashed into the wall. But where to go? Then Snape's words from the last House Meeting came back to Harry.
Sirius was advancing on his position, still shooting spells at him and the shield charm was close to collapsing again. In a desperate bid, Harry dropped his shield charm, flung himself towards the fireplace, grabbed a hand of Floo powder, and tossed it into the fire.
"Spinner's End," he shouted while flinging himself into the green flames.
Just before he was whisked, a spell hit him in the back. As he went spinning through the Floo Network, Harry screamed out in pain. Just as he was flung out of a fireplace, everything went black as Harry lost his hold on consciousness.