Disclaimer: I do not claim any ownership over anything related to Harry Potter.
A/N: My first posted attempt on Harry Potter fan-fiction, time-travel, AU and the like. All critique, comments and opinions appreciated and welcomed.
Harry hung his head and hoped no one noticed him. It's better they don't. Because if they do, they'll just send him away, to do more chores, or make him hide in the cupboard so he wont embarrass them to the neighbours by sitting in the front lawn, looking up at the sky and smiling at the warm sun on his face.
He closed his eyes and wondered how long it would take for Aunt Petunia to notice he's done weeding the garden, and hopes it isn't soon.
"What is your name?"
He looked at the man sitting across from him at the desk, then at the calendar behind the man's head. It could be just an old calendar, mistakenly left hanging on the wall. But it fit too well. The clothes the man wore, the posters outside, the people, the music, the cars. Even the manner in which the man acted screamed of a different time, ideals and attitudes he was not familiar with because he had not lived them.
"Sir, can you remember your name?" There was a hint of worry in the man's voice now, sounding unfamiliar with the American accent, and one could hardly blame him. He knew that if he found a man sprawled on the side of the road wearing strange clothes with blood covering his face, with bruises and cuts marring his body he too would be worried about the state of the man's sanity, or memory.
"Yes, sorry," he muttered. "It's just that…" he halted, considering what the best choice would be. He could disappear under a different name, stay away from all those he had come to trust and love. He should. There was nothing for him left now, and there would never be. "Potter," he finally said. "Hadrian Justus Potter." It was a name he'd spotted once on his family's records, and if, if he against all reasoning decided to return, with this name he could.
There was lots of yelling, and Harry pulled his knees to his chest, hoping they wouldn't hear his scared, panicked breathing, or the deafening beat of his heart. It was always better to stay hidden when Uncle Vernon yelled, that way he wouldn't have to hear how worthless he was, or how much trouble he was. It was better to stay out of the way.
But then the cupboard door was pulled ruthlessly open, and there was a man standing in the doorway. His Uncle and Aunt were standing behind the man, their faces blank and pale.
"To keep a child… How… You…" the man spluttered, his face as red as Uncle Vernon's when he was angry at Harry. "You people are despicable! I have half of mind to bring you up on charges!"
"The boy's a freak! A freak you hear! I won't have him polluting our Dudders with his freakishness!" Uncle Vernon yelled and Harry saw him fist his hands.
"Well it's a good thing he'll be going to live with his cousin then, isn't it?" the strange man asked, and beckoned Harry to crawl out. "Come on Harry, you'll be leaving here."
"You can't!" Aunt Petunia screamed. "If you leave they'll come after us! I'll not take the blame for that, you hear! The boy must stay!"
"I wouldn't leave even a dog in your care, much less a child. Who ever it is you think will be coming after you because of this child, well you just send him to me." And with that the man reached down, took hold of Harry's hand and pulled him out of the cupboard. "Anything yours here, Harry?" the man asked, and Harry shook his head, fearful, and not too sure what was going on.
"You're going to live with you're father's cousin, Harry," the man explained, as if he'd sensed Harry's confusion. "Things will work out." The man said and squeezed Harry's hand, and it made Harry brave enough to smile at the man.
There it was. In the bloody newspaper, in the bottom left corner of the page, in small print, with no picture, like it wasn't the greatest and the most terrifying thing he'd ever read.
Grindelwald. Dead. In nineteen-bloody-eighty three. Choked on a chicken bone.
This, was not what had happened. Things were different now. Because of him, or because of something else?
Whatever the reason, it was now clear that this was not the past, because you cannot change the past. History was written in stone that not all the oceans in the world could erase.
It was frightening. More than frightening. All the possibilities, the people, the lives he could save… All the others his choices could condemn.
Because that was the gist of it. What he knew could make it better. Or worse. Much, much worse.
But was it his responsibility to save the world? Again?
No it bloody hell wasn't! He was going back, and if his presence made things worse… Well let the bloody world destroy itself. He wouldn't carry the world and its sins on his shoulders anymore.
The man had said his cousin would come soon, and Harry couldn't help but fearing that he wasn't coming, not really. That this was all a dream. A strange dream, where a strange man came and took him away from the Dursleys, and left him sitting forever in the uncomfortable, plastic, orange chair.
He wondered what his cousin looked like. If he had the same hair as he had, or the same eyes. Maybe he even had a scar like him? But that was silly. Scars weren't something you were born with. Were they?
Harry sighed and sifted in his seat, and when a door opened further down the corridor he looked up and saw a man walking towards him with a gentle smile. He had dark hair, almost as dark as Harry's, and a nose he thought looked familiar. Harry was about to get up when the man passed him and stepped inside another room.
Harry sighed again, closed his eyes and leaned his head against the wall.
Maybe no one really was coming?
He hadn't intended on it, but when did he ever plan? He just acted on impulses, thoughts that sprung from nowhere, and when they wormed their way into his head he couldn't let go.
It had been stupid, on reflection, to come. Because now that he'd seen, he couldn't go. He couldn't just leave a child, any child, not even this one to its fate, not when he knew what it would make of him.
No one should suffer as he had. He'd make sure that this child wouldn't grow up to be him.
"We aren't that different yet, are we Harry?"
He opened his eyes and watched the man standing over him. He fought not to gape, but couldn't help widening his eyes when he saw the man's – the same colour as his were. His gaze went straight to the man's forehead, but just like he'd thought, there was no scar there. You weren't born with them after all.
"You're my cousin?" he asked, hesitantly, still afraid this wasn't real.
The man squatted down so Harry didn't have to bend his neck as they looked at each other, eyes roving over familiar, yet slightly different features. "Yes, I am," the man's voice was soothing and soft, assuring in the way Harry had never heard. "And you and I Harry, we're going to take care of each other, aren't we?" The smile was a little sad, but kind all the same. "After all, we're the last of the Potters now."
Then Harry was picked up, placed on the man's hip and held tightly in a warm embrace. It felt nice and secure, and more perfect than anything else, even better than the ice-cream Harry had gotten to taste when aunt Petunia had had the other ladies and their children over for Dudley's birthday.
Harry smiled up at the man, feeling happy, and his smile widened to a grin when the man smiled back.