Title: Harry Potter and the Second Life
Disclaimer: Captain Fangirlhumper… err, J.K. Rowling owns the Harry Potter universe. Wish they were mine so I could do utterly retarded things to them and watch my bank account get steadily larger, but sadly not mine. There are a handful of my OCs inserted here and there for flavor, since despite being Scottish, JKR evidently forgot they and the Welsh would probably be members of the student body. If you like them and want to use them, please ask first.
Summary: Wishing upon a falling star, 17-year-old Harry ends up in the body of his 10-year-old self, in a world where nothing is quite the same. How will he handle being a 'normal' boy in an unknown world?
Joe's Note: This originally started as yet another rewrite of SilverAegis's infamous, oft abandoned Harry Potter and the New Life. I left a review, he told me "you think you can do better, do it", and so I did. And then I started looking more deeply into the story and... you know why it's abandoned so often by so many people?The pure amount of shit I had to excise to make a functional story out of the mess he'd published was mind-boggling. Between that and the openly homophobic comments previously posted on his profile - amusingly enough, they disappeared after I pointed them out in an earlier version of this note - I decided to further distance myself from the Oedipal pedo and his poor writing. So in essence? Screw his poor grammar and storytelling, screw the shitty anime worship - mostly Ranma, but there's a smatter of other references in the original including multiple times when the genius actually put 'if this was an anime then' - and screw him. Let's see what we can make out of this mess of his.
Sharp little clicks of high heels sounded against the polished wood floors of the heads' common room, but Harry Potter elected not to look up from what he was working on. She stopped in front of him and he could practically picture her, bushy brown hair more frazzled than usual, the two spots of color high on her cheeks, arms crossed over her chest as she glared at him. Hermione Granger was a creature of habit, after all. "Harry James Potter!"
"That was my name last time I checked, yes." Harry continued to ignore her presence, muggle fountain pen scratching softly against the page of his enchanted journal as he wrote. He'd come to realize long ago that - despite her use of mental abuse instead of physical - Hermione was shockingly like his cousin Dudley insofar as both thrived on bullying the people around them into submission. And the only real way to get rid of a bully, apart from using a curse that would probably land him in front of the Wizengamot, was to ignore them. Eventually they would get bored and move on. Hermione hadn't yet but he no longer indulged her; their discussions had reached a repetitive state months ago and while she never seemed to tire of trying to have the same argument yet one more time, he most certainly had. "Can I help you with something, Hermione?"
Grabbing the top of his journal, Hermione tipped it down so she could actually meet his eyes. "Yes. You're going to go get dressed and then we're going to put in an appearance at a party in the Gryffindor common room. And you're going to have fun at that party even if I have to hit you with a Cheering Charm. Now get moving."
Harry took advantage of their locked eyes, forcing his way into her mind with legilimency and rooting around until she realized what was happening and jerked her gaze away. Snorting, Harry batted her hand away from his journal and raised it again as he went back to transcribing something he'd pulled from Voldemort's mind in their final battle. "I don't think so, but you have fun with that. Assuming you stay more than five minutes before dragging Ron off somewhere private. By the way, tell Ginny that I'm neither flattered nor interested. Her obsession with being 'the wife of He-Who-Defeated-Voldemort' crossed the line between disturbing and truly frightening a long, long time ago." He snorted. "Girls like her are almost enough to make me wish Colin hadn't died."
The blood drained from Hermione's face and her mouth worked soundlessly for a few moments before she scowled and whirled around, stomping back towards her room. Oh, what a horrible person he was, not wanting to waste time being deafened at a gathering of people he barely knew while letting the harpy shove him at a ginger barnacle who was under the deluded notion that they 'belonged together'. Harry snorted before returning to his work. Why were they even having a party, come to think of it? Quidditch season was over for the year. Maybe someone's birthday party, run amok? Or just a party for the sake of a party? The Gryffindors did seem to enjoy doing that these days and… well, the professors lacked the will to rein in the student body as a whole, writing off the mass misbehavior as a coping mechanism for dealing with the death and destruction they'd witnessed when Voldemort marched on Hogwarts in February of that year.
While he'd lost others over the years… Cedric, Sirius, Dumbledore, and a few members of the Order in small battles here and there… that one fight had done almost as much damage to his life and happiness as his second Halloween. Many people had died in the final battle, including his last surviving link to his parents: Remus Lupin. Tonks had perished alongside her new husband that day, and he'd lost several other friends as well: Neville Longbottom, his fiancé Hannah Abbott, Daphne Greengrass, Colin Creevey, and George Weasley among them. But as selfish as it made him feel, all of them combined paled in the face of one other loss he'd suffered that day. Luna Lovegood had been killed by Voldemort himself, mere hours after Harry had proposed to her and she'd accepted. A day dedicated to love, a day when they'd celebrated their love by taking the first steps in forging a life together… brought to an end by those two hated words.
Only a sick fuck like Voldemort would have attacked on Valentine's Day, Harry mused. Valentine's Day. Heh. He was lucky it was still known as such. He'd actually had to fight the Ministry to keep them from renaming it Harry Potter Day. Then they'd wanted to rename Halloween in his honor. Finally, when they targeted July 31st, he'd just given up. They could turn his birthday into a festival. It wasn't like he had anything better to do on that day anymore, what with all his loved ones being dead and all.
That was the other reason, apart from the loss of people close to him, behind his withdrawal from the world around him. His popularity pushed in on him from all sides now, everyone wanting something from the famous He-Who-Defeated-Voldemort. Offers of false friendship, business arrangements, political alliances, courtship… more than a few witches in his age group - and a few whose age ranged out into his parents' class at Hogwarts and beyond - had even made outright sexual advances, wanting nothing more than to be able to brag about being a notch on their savior's bedpost. It was all quite disturbing in his opinion. Well, it would have been disturbing enough to begin with, but having it happen so soon after the death of the woman he loved just made it all the worse.
Ron hadn't taken it too well, either. While their friendship had been on rocky ground since the redhead and Hermione had started dating, it had deteriorated and collapsed completely in the aftermath of Voldemort's demise. Ron had decided he was no longer content to be Harry Potter's Sidekick and, even though he was recognized for his role in the war, he'd wanted a share of Harry's fame too… fame he had not one iota of claim to. And it'd eaten at him, until the day he finally gave in and walked away from Harry.
Even Hermione was different in this strange new world of his. She'd gone from a slightly bossy yet caring combination of sister and mother to a hideously obnoxious harpy, obsessed with the idea of returning him to 'normal'. What was normal for him? He'd been a beaten, starved, and overworked slave for people who'd hated him since he could walk. At eleven, he'd learned he was a wizard and part of a secret society - and a celebrity in that society at that - and then the last seven years had been spent fighting Voldemort in one form or another while being alternately canonized and vilified by a society of sheep. What normal did he know, that he could return to now that Voldemort was gone?
And hell, what did Hermione know about normal? She was a socially retarded bookworm whose only contact with people came through her boyfriend's family and the people who orbited around Harry… and who he was pretty sure had some degree of nymphomania, given the frequency and duration of Ron's visits to the Head Girl's room. Head girl duties, pleasure reading, and even her precious homework had started to fall by the wayside as of late and Harry knew that if they weren't only three weeks from NEWTs and graduation, McGonagall and Flitwick would be stepping in to address the matter.
Harry snorted; hopefully prophylactics were on the NEWTs, because that was about the only thing related to charms or potions Hermione had worked on outside the classroom since… pretty much February.
He knew that at least for him, though, NEWTs would be no problem. He'd been trained by the best of the best to defeat Voldemort, and his knowledge in every one of his classes was post-NEWT at a minimum. These days, his DADA, charms, and transfiguration knowledge was starting to reach out into the realm of 'only half a dozen people alive know some of the spells' territory. No, he dared say passing his NEWTs would be no problem at all. Which was good, because that gave him time for extracurricular things like being head boy and quidditch captain, which in turn took his mind off his life.
After a few refreshingly quiet minutes, Hermione came back out of the Head Girl's room and slammed the door behind her, making Harry look up from what he was doing. Her attire garnered a raised eyebrow from him; before the second semester of this year, he hadn't been aware Hermione knew skirts that short existed, much less owned them. He stared pointedly at her bare thigh for a moment before sliding his gaze up to meet her eyes and she flushed slightly. "Ron likes it when I dress like this. Now go get ready. We're leaving in three minutes. And if you really don't want to spend time with Ginny, fine. There's always Lavender, Parvati, Romilda, Jen, Chloe…"
"Don't want a disease, is a ditz, scares me more than Ginny, can't even manage to say hello to me, don't even know who she is… thanks but no thanks, Hermione. No. Non. Nyet. Nein. Næi. It was nice no-ing you. Have I made myself perfectly clear yet, or would you like me to start branching out into some of the really odd languages I learned while training? Mermish? Gobbledegook?" Hermione crossed her arms over her chest and started tapping her foot, causing Harry to roll his eyes. "You're not going to win this, Hermione. I'm not going to the party, much less making a pass at some girl. Unlike you, I actually take care of my head duties. And I'm not talking about what Ron asks you to do in every dark corner of the school he can manage to drag you into."
Hermione blush became even more pronounced at the reminder of Harry's seemingly uncanny ability to walk in on her and Ron in compromising positions around the school. Not that he had any desire to, but when they took to using the entire school as their personal sexual playground… well, he couldn't very well avoid every lockable room in the school out of fear he'd walk in on them. He'd used the Marauder's Map near the beginning of the year to aid in his patrolling but that'd taken all the fun out of it after a while. Now, walking in on his former best friends was the price he had to pay for the rest of each evening's entertainment.
It was generally worth it. Well, except for that time with Ron, a drunk Hermione, and an equally inebriated Pansy Parkinson. It was going to him take years of therapy or quite possibly some fun spell time with Gilderoy Lockhart for him to ever get over walking in on that one.
"Harry." Oh Merlin, the harpy was whining at him again. Did she ever shut up? "I'm worried about you. You've been so different since you defeated Voldemort. You don't talk to anyone, you don't do anything fun…" Hermione sat on the arm of his chair, putting her hand over his. "This isn't what she would have wanted for you, Harry."
White-hot fury burned through Harry's veins, so violent that he momentarily feared that Voldemort was back and emotions were leaking through his scar again. Then he realized that his occlumency barriers were still at full strength and it was his own rage at Hermione. "Luna has been dead for three months, Hermione. Three months. I loved her. We had just gotten engaged that very day, and Voldemort tore her apart in front of me for his own sick amusement. And then I destroyed him in revenge. But when I was done with that… Luna was still gone. So no, Hermione, don't try and tell me what Luna would have wanted. As if she wasn't someone you hated spending time with. As if you didn't just tolerate her because I made you. As if you somehow have some insight into what actually went on inside her head. Because even if you weren't completely wrong? What she would have wanted for me doesn't matter. She's dead. And despite all the power I have at my fingertips… everything I know… I can't change that. I can't bring her back."
Harry shook his head, looking down at his journal for a moment before realizing he wouldn't be getting any more work done tonight and closing it. It wasn't just any journal; the pages were filled with potions recipes, spell variations he'd personally created, and other things he felt that the outside world didn't need to know about magic. Each page had a snake printed across the top in deep green ink, enabling him to switch to parselscript when he made entries. Anyone other than him would just see squiggles on a page, assuming they even got the journal open without being killed by his rather… fierce… protections. "Just… stop trying, Hermione. I'm going to go start rounds. Try to keep to either Ron's room or the Head Girl's room tonight. I'm getting tired of having to explain certain entries on the point deduction log to Professor McGonagall." Without waiting for a response, he shrunk his journal and stuffed it into a pocket before making his way out the portrait hole and into the hall.
After his rounds were done, taking longer than they would have if Hermione was still pulling her weight, Harry made his way out on the grounds, crossing the grass to sit atop a hill that looked down on Hogsmeade. He was allowed to leave the castle whenever he wanted to because… well, nobody could stop him. Not many would try, either, given he'd been responsible for the brutal deaths of a number of Inner Circle members along with Voldemort himself. If Harry could defeat Voldemort, a dark lord so evil that most wizards were too afraid to even speak his name, what chance did they have?
Suddenly remembering what day of the week it was, Harry set off down the lawn at a quick pace, passing through the front gates of the school and emerging from under the stifling pressure of the anti-apparition wards. While he was fairly certain that with a concerted effort, he could probably blow through the wards around Hogwarts and apparate from within the school itself… why bother? It was a nice night and walking to the edge of the wards before apparating negated the risk of damaging his core. Wrapping his magic around him, Harry disapparated with a barely audible pop, experiencing the trademark sensation of being squeezed through a tube for a few seconds before emerging with a second faint pop some seven hundred miles away. It was time, just as Harry had done every week since her death, for him to visit the graveyard at the recently reclaimed Potter Estate. To visit his fiancé's grave.
With her mother several years departed and her father in the Janus Thickey Ward a few beds down from Frank and Alice Longbottom, there had been nobody left to protest when Harry had opted to have his beloved's remains buried near his parents and other close family friends. And so now Luna Sòeng Indu Lovegood joined James Potter, Lily Potter née Evans, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Lupin née Tonks, Sirius Black, Charlus Potter, Dorea Potter née Black, and Charlus's parents in the Potter Family Cemetery. An empty spot rested between Luna's grave and his mother's, waiting for the day Harry passed on so that he could join the two most important women in his life in eternal rest.
Standing over Luna's grave, Harry drew his wand and waved it over Luna's grave, a blast of blue light shot with bronze highlights erupting from the head. Rather than heralding destruction, though, the spell's light hit the ground and expanded to cover a significant amount of space before fading to reveal dozens of perfect Ravenclaw blue roses with bronze tipped petals. Harry nodded in satisfaction and slid his wand back into its holster before circling around to kneel behind the grave, leaning forward to rest his forearms on the top of the cool granite as he settled in for his weekly chat.
"I hope Dumbledore was right and death is the next great adventure, because I'd hate to think you're as bored as I've been lately. Although everything I've ever read says death is supposed to be some sort of paradise, so you're probably off chasing snorkacks in the sky or somesuch. Which reminds me, I managed to convince the Wizengamot to release The Quibbler into my possession until your father gets out of St. Mungo's. So next month, we'll be back on the newsstands. And I'll be going to Sweden to try and find their breed of crumple-horned snorkacks, just like we were planning." Granted it was planned as their honeymoon, but either way he was fulfilling the promise he'd made to her, so… semantics. Harry tapped his fingers along the top of the gravestone slowly, thinking about what else he ought to share. "Oh, the harpy came after me again tonight. Wanted me to go to some party. At first to try and set me up with Ginny - again - and then she tried to throw half of the Gryffindor girls at me when I turned that down. Which, again, means you were right. That girl's not all there in the head. Hermione or Ginny, that is."
What else? Oh! "Su and I have actually stepped it up to lessons five days a week. Well, we meet every day: I help her with wand work five days a week and she tutors me five days a week too, with both on three days. Her grades are climbing to the point that Hermione might have some serious competition for the end of year marks and overall NEWT scores among this year's girls. And… well, I'm finally getting to the point where I can have a basic conversation without accidentally mentioning a squirrel."
Harry grinned ruefully at that and rubbed his left hand over the back of the right, remembering the multitude of light swats he'd received during their lessons. To be honest, he hadn't really expected to get much out of his half of the trade with the diminutive Chinese girl - tutoring in DADA and charms in exchange for lessons in Mandarin - but he had come to enjoy them anyways. When she wasn't smacking him on the hand with a conjured switch for incorrect word choice or mangled pronunciation, that was. "She says that by the end of the school year, I might be to the point where she can begin working with me on some of her people's magic. Assuming we end up anywhere near each other after we graduate but… well, our great-grandchildren wouldn't have had to work. I think it's safe to say that I can afford to make myself available if I really want to. Which I do. Working with her is fun. She's…. fun. Thanks again for bringing her to join the DA. I don't know what I'd do without her now that you're gone and Ron and Hermione are… Ron and Hermione."
Sighing, Harry let his head drop so he could rest his forehead atop Luna's gravestone. "I guess… I guess I just don't see the point of it all. I did what I was supposed to do. I won the war. And what do I have to show for it? One friend. I have one friend left. And some sorta-friends from the DA, and housemates who act like they're my friends but I can barely even remember their names most days. This is what I gave you up to save? You, and Sirius and Remus, and my parents, and Neville, Hannah, Daphne, and the others? Talk about a kick in the jewels. I saved the world, but by the time I finally managed it, there was nothing left in it worth saving."
Silence fell as he leaned his head back, staring up into the clear night sky as he tried to figure out how to verbalize the thoughts running through his head. He noticed a few shooting stars burning past overhead and, as stupid as he knew it was, decided to partake in the old superstition and make a wish. Looking around, he waited for a few seconds before letting out a snort. Not that he'd expected much but ever since he'd discovered the wizarding world, all sorts of things he'd thought to be nothing more than myths had turned out to be real. Why not one more thing?
Feeling immensely stupid, Harry drew his wand again before casting a Warming Charm and a Cushioning Charm on the ground behind Luna's headstone. Technically he was violating a host of rules; students weren't allowed to be out this late, nor were they allowed off the grounds during the school year apart from trips to Hogsmeade. Who was going to say anything to him, though? He was Harry Potter.
Lowering himself to rest on the grass, Harry closed his eyes and let himself relax. Soon he found the magically created warmth and the noise of nature lulling him to sleep and he gave a mental shrug. Staying out overnight: one more infraction to add to the list of things he wouldn't be punished for. As he drifted off, Harry thought he felt an odd falling sensation… but that was just ridiculous, because he was already lying on the ground.
When Harry woke up the next morning, he was exhausted. And not 'had a tough time sleeping' exhausted or 'Voldemort was sending me dreams of torturing muggles' exhausted. It was a bone deep weariness that had him utterly confused; he hadn't done anything worthy of that kind of achiness at all lately, much less in the last day or so. Then he looked around and noticed something was different.
Belay that… everything was different.
The grave he'd been lying on was gone, as were the roses he'd laid around it for Luna. Looking around wildly, Harry realized that not only was her grave gone, so was Remus's. And both his parents'. "If this is some kind of sick joke, I'm going to kill the person responsible in a way so painful, Voldemort would have watched on in awe!" That made him aware of another change: his voice sounded far, far younger and higher-pitched than it should at his age. Slowly, he looked down at his body and realized his voice wasn't the only thing younger than it should have been. "What the bloody hell?"
After taking a few minutes to calm down and examine his body more closely, Harry had come to the conclusion that… he had no idea what the hell was going on. For some bizarre reason, he was a preteen again. Bigger than he'd been upon arriving at Hogwarts, but that didn't take much given how the Dursleys had mistreated him and so he wasn't going to use that to gauge anything. He was still wearing his school uniform and black robe, although they were both understandably a bit too big for him in his current state. A flick of his wrist had… nothing jumping to his hand. His wand was gone. Scowling, Harry waved his hand and focused hard, binding his magic to his will and wandlessly transfiguring his oversized uniform into a pair of appropriately sized trousers and a t-shirt, along with trainers that weren't a few sizes too big. While his wand was gone, his magic was still at its seventeen-year-old levels despite his regressed age as best Harry could tell. So while he would be inconvenienced between now and his eleventh birthday, he wasn't helpless. Idly, he wondered if that meant he had reached full magical growth - or close to it - early or if he'd be even stronger at seventeen the second time around.
Then again, that assumed this wasn't some bizarre dream or magically induced out of body experience and that he'd reach his eleventh birthday here, much less his seventeenth. Given he had no clue where he was, why he was there, or how he'd ended up younger than he ought to be in the first place… Harry decided that those questions should probably be given priority over musings about his potentially non-existent future. And since it was probably the easiest to figure out, Harry opted to start with the question of where he was.
As best he could tell, he was still on the grounds of the Potter Estate. In the graveyard, even. It was just far smaller than it was supposed to be, with only the headstones of his paternal grandparents and great-grandparents. Passing through the barrier of trees that separated the cemetery from the world at large, Harry came to an abrupt halt as he stared at Potter Mansion. It was… alive. There were hangings in the windows, smoke curling from the chimney, a few patio chairs sitting around a table just beyond the back door, and… a redheaded missile heading for him at top speed?
It wasn't until she slammed into him, almost knocking him over onto his back, that he got a good look at her and that just left Harry even more confused. Whoever she was, her eyes were hazel instead of chocolate brown like Ginny's, although their almond shape reminded Harry of his own. Her hair was also too dark a red to be Ginny's, reminding Harry almost of pictures he'd seen of his mother. Who… also had almond-shaped green eyes like him. But it was what came out of her mouth that really floored him. "Harry! You giant prat, where have you been all morning? You're going to be in so much trouble when we get home. I bet Mum's going to ground you from now until September. If she even lets you go to Hogwarts."
Harry's jaw dropped in shock before anger set in. What the hell was she trying to pull? His 'mum' had been dead for sixteen years now, and… wait a second. Taking a deep breath, Harry pushed aside his feelings and did his best to channel the 'inner Ravenclaw' Luna had always claimed he possessed. While his diminished size and age could be attributed to a potion or human transfiguration, some other things about the situation were harder to explain. The shrunken graveyard, for one, or the aura of habitation that surrounded Potter Mansion. And if this was some dreamscape constructed by his mind… why would he have created a younger sibling for himself, and not just a world where his parents were still alive? Suddenly, Harry's thoughts from the night before came back to him. His wish upon a shooting star that the world would make sense again, and perhaps that he might even find someone to love again some day. What if, through some sort of brute force application of magic and willpower, he'd forced himself diagonally across time and space, stuffing his essence into the body of a younger, sibling possessing Harry Potter? The shade of Voldemort in Quirrell, the diary, the inevitable second war… they were all things he was familiar with and capable of handling, unlike the constant celebrations after his victory and the praise heaped upon him for it. It seemed too fantastical to believe, but what better explanation did he have?
Continuing to natter away, the redhead hopped off Harry and yanked him to his feet before punching him hard on the arm. "Mum's been really worried and she's had everyone out looking for you. Rose and I have been taking turns sitting in the house with the spare mirror in case you came home and wandering around the neighborhood, and Uncle Remus, Uncle Sirius, and Dad have been apparating up and down half of Cornwall all morning. Dad took off from work and you know what that means…" Harry's brain froze, and he tuned out the rest of her almost Hermione-esque rant.
Sirius and Remus were alive here? Sirius was free? What? How?
"Right. Well, why don't we get home so we can tell everyone you found me and they can stop looking, yeah?" While Harry still wasn't quite sure what to make of the situation, her words did lend a bit of credence to his idea of being in an alternate universe. If this was a dream, why on Earth had his subconscious created not one but two sisters for himself - or at least he assumed Rose was a sister given the flower name and not a friend of this girl - who he had to share the attention of his parents, Sirius, and Remus with?
"Harry!" He looked over just in time for another body to slam into him, this one bigger and pulling him in for a hug instead of bowling him over like his sister had. Pushing up on his toes, he peered over her shoulder and watched his supposed sister mouth the word 'grounded' before an identical girl came strolling out of the back of the house, elbowing her twin in the ribs. The aforementioned Rose, Harry was guessing. Which meant the woman hugging him could only be… "Harry?"
Nodding, Harry pulled back and studied the woman in front of him intently. It was indeed his long dead mother, albeit a version older than any he'd seen in pictures. Which made sense, if this was some bizarre universe where they'd survived that fateful Halloween. If he was ten or so - he was guessing it was the summer before his first year, based on his sister's comment - then this woman was almost a decade older than his had been at the time of her death. "Hey, err, Mum. It's me. I'm okay. Really."
There was a crack behind him and the shocks kept coming as Harry whirled around to face the newcomer. An older version of his father was standing there, an irritated expression on his face. Raising his wand to his temple, he sent two separate patronus messengers racing off into the woods before returning his attention to Harry… or rather Lily. "I'm going to head in. Maybe they'll let me log a half shift or a full shift from noon till eight. I'd appreciate you remembering to keep a plate of dinner for me this time." Giving Harry one last look, James turned away and disappeared into thin air with a crack of apparition.
Harry just stared blankly at the empty space for a long minute before shaking his head. That was his father in this universe? Wow. What… what a dick. Not quite up there with Lucius Malfoy or anything, but hardly the Father of the Year material he'd - perhaps irrationally - expected of him. It sealed the alternate universe hypothesis for him, though. After all, if this was a dream, why wasn't his father a nicer, more caring person? There was another crack off to their left and Harry tensed again out of instinct, but again resisted the urge to do something stupid. A good thing, he realized a second later, because wandlessly cursing his godfather would have caused him no end of problems. "Hey! James told me you found the squirt!" A very much alive, young, and healthy Sirius reached forward to ruffle his hair. "Lemme guess, he went in to work as soon as he found out?" Sighing, Lily nodded and Sirius rolled his eyes. "Wanker. He may be the brother I… well, the brother Regulus should have been… but he's still a wanker sometimes. Alright, want Anastasiya and Cassie to come over for lunch? Keep you, Remus, and the kids company?"
Waving towards the house, Lily dismissed the twins… and him, Harry found out as she pinned him with a long stare until he began following them. As he departed, his mother's voice drifted to him. "Might as well. Anastasiya and Remus are the only adult conversation I get apart from when You-Know-Who visits."
"Ouch. I'll have you know I can be perfectly adult when I feel like it."
"Which is when?"
"Well, never. And does You-Know-Who actually count as adult conversation? You two are never talking for long…"
Slipping into the house, Harry tried to process what he'd just heard. His mother… was having an affair? That's what it sounded like, at any rate. Not with Sirius or Remus, evidently, but with someone the former knew. And his father's best friend knew but wasn't evidently sharing that information. Wait. Stop. These weren't the same people he'd known - or wished he'd known - back in his home universe. Hell, for all he knew, maybe it wasn't adultery. Maybe polyandry was the norm here and he'd yet to meet his mother's other husband, which was who Sirius was referring to. And they were just very amorous and so they didn't spend much of their free time talking. Not bloody likely, but it was a reminder that he needed to keep his preconceptions stifled and his mind open.
Wandering the ground floor of the house, Harry quickly discovered that at least it was familiar. The back door led into a 'breakfast' nook, which was in turn connected to both the kitchen and the living room. Starting in the kitchen and heading clockwise, he circled through the kitchen, formal dining room, and sitting room before passing by a staircase - for now; he'd explore upstairs in a minute - and slipping down a hall to find his father's study in the same place as it had been in his world. One wall was dedicated to a massive family tree and Harry began scanning it for names he recognized. Finally, he found his parents and traced a finger down to find three names: Harry Potter, Jasmine Potter, Rose Potter. So his tackler's name was Jasmine. He snorted. Evidently Lily had imposed her family's naming traditions on the next generation of Potter women. Thank God he was her eldest son and not her eldest daughter. He'd discovered a journal of hers in his original timeline… the woman had been considering naming him Dahlia if he'd been a girl.
Harry shuddered. Oh yes, that would have been an easy name to inspire fear with. Dahlia Potter, Slayer of Death Eaters, Destroyer of Voldemort. Somehow, it lacked the same oomph as Harry Potter.
Pausing, Harry eyed the dates under the three names. His birthday was still on July 31st, with Jasmine on June 6th of the following year and Rose on June 7th. He double-checked the dates, his math, and then blinked. In just shy of eleven months, his mother had given birth to him and then gotten pregnant with and delivered his twin sisters. They were Irish triplets. Sweet Merlin, didn't these people know what a Contraceptive Charm was for?
Quiet laughter and conversation drifted Harry's way and he frowned before identifying the voices: Remus Lupin and his mother. They didn't seem to be heading his way but since he wanted to explore a bit more before being tied down by the inevitable conversation to demand answers, he slipped out of his father's study and made his way back to the stairs, ascending them to the first floor.
Directly across from the staircase was what turned out to be the master suite, Harry discovered after a quick inspection. Curious as he was, he decided to keep moving in case Lily decided to come upstairs and change. Proceeding down the hall, he found a bathroom on the left that reeked strongly of fruit and a closed door that was protected by several locking charms he opted not to disturb. It was marked by the letters 'NB' in a paint that constantly shifted colors, which simultaneously hinted at the identity of the occupant and confused Harry because… why would she be living at Potter Manor? And using those initials? Moving further down the hall, he found a pair of bedrooms that had 'Rose' and 'Jasmine' painted on the respective doors in gold cursive writing. Harry frowned at the lack of a bedroom for him before remembering the second floor of the manor and the two large bedrooms up their; his parents must have put him upstairs, presumably to keep him and the girls from feuding over a shared bathroom. The remaining room was probably a guest room or something. Resolving to continue his searching later, he returned to the ground floor and made his way into the kitchen.
The manor was so much nicer with people inside it, Harry decided. Lived in like the Burrow, but more orderly and without the fear that sneezing too hard would leave a family homeless. On the other hand, it shared the look of wealth that Malfoy Manor had, albeit in a slightly more understated and warmer way. It was in a word, perfect. Seating himself next to Remus at the kitchen island, watching his mother bustle around making a simple lunch of soup and sandwiches, only to be pulled from his thoughts by the sound of his mother's voice. "Harry, what's wrong? Usually you'd be out back flying your broom or reading your father's prank journal so you can try and play tricks on your sisters and me. You're awfully quiet, too. Are you sure you're feeling okay? Not that I mind that you're actually behaving yourself for once, of course, but… well, I guess I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop."
Harry nodded, still uncertain enough in this strange new world to be leery of answering. The last thing he needed was to set off alarms in his mother's head by giving an answer that would be completely out of character for… God, this world's him sounded like as much of a prick as his father. Joy. Hopefully he'd be able to redefine their perceptions of him in short order, because that wasn't a role he wanted to play for long. At the moment, though, he needed something to satisfy her curiosity with. Maybe he could try… "Well, I missed breakfast. I figure if I hang out with you, I can get first dibs on lunch and grab all the best bits for myself." He grinned and rubbed his hands together greedily, which made his mother laugh before turning away to face the counter again.
"Fine, but you're in charge of taking Jasmine and Rose to the market in Falmouth tomorrow to pick up our weekly order." The way she phrased it made it seem like it was supposed to be a punishment but why it would be, Harry had no idea. Did he and his siblings not get along? Were they little hellions too? Harry watched Lily bring the sandwich platter out to the breakfast nook before returning and poking his stomach. "It'll get you out of the house in a useful way for once and besides, you know you need the exercise."
He what? Harry glanced down at his midsection and did a double take at the size of his stomach. Holy shit. He really did need the exercise. He was worse than Neville in their first year. How could someone as young and presumably active as his younger self be so chubby?
"Well, I guess I can put off my busy day of flying, flying, and flying to help you out."
"It's either that or you can follow me around doing chores for the next few days so I know where you are at all times?"
"Falmouth it is, Mum."