This is a response to Silverfawkes' challenge at the end of Yet Another Universe.
Many thanks to Heart of Spellz for incredibly prompt and reliably cheerful beta work.
When he recognized the feeling, not of an ordinary portkey, but of a trans-dimensional transport, Harry cursed aloud. He wasn't sure if anybody could hear him as he tumbled across the gaps of possibility, but he certainly hoped so. When he finally crashed into something solid, he finished his string of curses before he even opened his eyes. Surrounding him were a group of wizards and witches, looking slightly stunned. He was in Dumbledore's office, which meant that the old man was probably around. Yes, there he was at the head of the table, with McGonagall and Arthur Weasley flanking him. He glanced around, seeing nobody else he recognized until his eyes lit on himself, only a couple of years older. But even as he jerked his head back in shock, he realized that it wasn't him - the eyes were wrong, and the redhead sitting next to him was not Ginny. And sitting next to her was unmistakably Sirius Black.
He couldn't help it. He started laughing. This was met with general alarm around the table, and he saw a few wands begin to point his way. Hastily he raised his hands, releasing Aelf, and said, "Whoa! Slow down. I'm not a threat to you. In fact, unless I'm mistaken, I'm here to save you."
Dumbledore looked at him in disbelief. "Would you care to explain yourself, young man?" he asked, in what Harry recognized as his condescending-yet-curious tone of voice.
"Not what you expected?" Harry replied, unwilling to cede any ground yet.
But it was Sirius who answered. "No, we were fully prepared for a teenage James impersonator in swimming trunks with an owl. That was our fondest hope. But who's the arse-munching old coot you were so angry at when you arrived?"
Harry looked down at himself. He was, in fact, wearing nothing but swimming trunks, and Aelf was settling into the rafters over his head. His wands were on his dresser in another universe, along with his cloak and the map. He cursed again, internally this time, but decided that he couldn't afford to show any weakness. "I hardly need to ask, but aren't you Sirius Black?" he demanded, looking Sirius right in the eye.
"At your service," said Sirius pleasantly.
"James Potter?" Harry asked next, looking at his father and trying not to hyperventilate. His father only nodded.
"Lily Evans?" he said to his mother.
She lifted her chin slightly. "It's Lily Potter."
His smile showed only a fraction of the relief he felt inside. "What's today's date?" he asked her.
"It's August the eleventh, 1981," she replied, a little confused.
He turned his face cold again. "Albus," he snapped. "I will talk to these three people only. We'll be back in an hour or two. Everybody else, stay here. If anyone tries to leave, I recommend you stun first and ask questions later." And he swept from the room, hoping and praying that his parents would follow before Dumbledore could stop him.
They did, along with Sirius, and he led them towards the seventh floor as fast as he could. Whenever any of them threatened to speak, he held up a hand, and they eventually got the message. When they arrived at the Room of Requirement, he paced back and forth, thinking "I need a place to talk where the Headmaster can't listen."
Sirius and James exchanged an uneasy look when the door appeared, suspicious of a room they hadn't found when mapping the castle. But Harry and Lily plunged through, and they followed, if only to avoid being left behind.
The room was small and comfortable, with four squashy armchairs arranged around a low table. Harry collapsed into one of them, waited for everyone else to sit down, and asked, "Can everyone throw up your best privacy spells? Oh, and could someone conjure me a set of robes? I feel a little silly like this, and I left my wand behind."
"Not hiding a wand in those swim trunks, then?" Sirius quipped.
Harry stared at him for a moment, and said, "I can't even begin to tell you what's wrong with that. Please, can somebody get me something to wear?"
James reluctantly conjured Harry a set of plain robes, while Lily performed three charms that he knew and one that he didn't to prevent eavesdropping. Harry took a deep breath. "I hope that's enough to keep this private, because I'd like for just you three to hear this." They focused on him, with varying degrees of suspicion in their eyes.
"Let me tell you a story," he began. "I don't know all the details of the early part, but I'll do the best I can. I expect you'll find the later parts more interesting anyways. Sometime in 1979 or 1980, Albus Dumbledore was interviewing a candidate for the Divination position at Hogwarts when the candidate gave what he believed to be a real prophecy." James and Lily gasped, and Sirius' eyebrows shot up. "Dumbledore decided that this prophecy could apply to one of several families, with the Longbottoms and the Potters being most likely. And he decided that the unborn baby of one of these families would be the one to destroy Voldemort." All three of them shuddered when he said the name, but he refused to slow down.
"Part of this prophecy was overheard by a Death Eater, who reported it to Voldemort. Voldemort came to a similar conclusion as Dumbledore, and began hunting these families specifically. Neville Longbottom was born on July 30, 1980, and Harry Potter was born the next day. At some point after that, the Potters, and likely the Longbottoms as well, went into hiding, protected by a Fidelius charm. With me so far?"
All three nodded, stunned into silence by the depth of his knowledge.
"James Potter and Sirius Black had been best friends all the way through Hogwarts. Everybody assumed that Sirius would be the secret keeper for the Fidelius hiding the Potters. But, at the last minute, they decided to try some trickery, and used Peter Pettigrew instead." James and Sirius had their hands on their wands, but Lily looked serene. "Unfortunately, Pettigrew was a Death Eater, working for Voldemort directly, and he told Voldemort where the Potters were hiding. On October 31, 1981, Voldemort went to Godric's Hollow. He killed James Potter, he killed Lily Potter, and he cast the Killing Curse at Harry Potter. But Lily had done some homework, and came up with a way to protect little Harry. The curse bounced off of Harry, and hit Voldemort, apparently destroying him."
Harry paused for breath. His audience was still stunned, ashen-faced and completely still. He grimaced, and said, "I'm sorry, but it gets worse." Nobody moved. "Everybody knew that Sirius was the Potters' secret keeper, so he was thrown into Azkaban without a trial. The Potters' will was never executed, and Harry was placed with Lily's muggle sister. A few days after Voldemort's apparent demise, some Death Eaters tortured Frank and Alice Longbottom into insanity. Neville was unharmed. He grew up with his grandmother, and Harry grew up with his aunt and uncle. They both went to Hogwarts in 1991, and were both sorted into Gryffindor." A little pride shone through James' horror when he heard this.
Harry decided to abandon the pretense he'd been carrying on. "I made some good friends at Hogwarts, but I was under attack almost from the day I showed up. Voldemort wasn't really gone, only disembodied, and the first time I faced him was at the end of my first year. I'll skip the details for now, but here are the important points. Before my third year, Sirius escaped from Azkaban. Somehow, he wasn't caught or killed, and he managed to explain to me what had happened, but he was never cleared by the ministry, and I was never able to live with him. In my fourth year, Voldemort kidnapped me and used my blood as part of a ritual to give him a new body, but I escaped before he could kill me. In my fifth year, I was drawn into a trap in the Department of Mysteries, and Sirius was killed trying to rescue me. In my sixth year, Voldemort overthrew the Ministry. And in what would have been my seventh year, I killed him."
James looked at Lily. "Harry's at home, right? He didn't escape and age sixteen years while we went to the Order meeting?" His voice was hollow, and Harry started to feel guilty for what he was putting him through. Lily didn't answer, but she looked like she might cry, which made Harry feel worse.
"I can clear some of this up, but the story starts to get weird," he said. "I'm not your Harry. What I just described happened in another universe. After I killed Voldemort, I was not treated all that well, and I started to think about leaving the wizarding world. But before I could, I found myself in the Shrieking Shack, surrounded by members of the Order of the Phoenix. It was my fifth year again, and they had performed a ritual to summon a hero from another universe to solve all their problems for them. In that universe, Harry had died the summer after his first year, when the Dursleys had starved him to death. So I killed Voldemort for them again. That was a couple of weeks ago, and I was just taking a nice holiday at the beach when I found myself in Dumbledore's office, surrounded by members of the Order of the Phoenix. Apparently you guys needed a hero?"
It was Lily who found her voice first. "We did. I'm sorry. It's just- we're losing this war, and people that we love are dying, and from all we know, the only hope we have to defeat Voldemort lies with a couple of babies. We can't hold out for another twenty years, and we can't send children into battle, so when Dumbledore found this summoning ritual, we agreed to it. I never imagined- never could have imagined that it would be you."
While Harry was paying attention to Lily, James and Sirius had exchanged a significant look, and as Harry started to answer, James raised his wand. "Finite Incantatem!' he cried. But before the spell could strike Harry, he dove to the floor, rolled to a low crouch, and fired two wandless, silent stunners under the table. James and Sirius slid to the floor, and their wands flew to Harry's hand.
Lily sat completely still. "I didn't know they were going to do that," she said desperately.
Harry tried to look stern, but he didn't have the heart. "I didn't either, or I would have let them," he answered. "I'm not under a glamour or anything, so I wouldn't have minded a Finite, if they'd asked. Uh, I guess now you know I'm pretty good without my wand, when I need to be."
She didn't look at all comforted. "Are they OK?" she asked.
"Yeah, those were just Stupefies, they're fine." When she didn't move, he waved at her. "Feel free to rennervate them. I'm sure they won't try anything after that."
She slowly pulled out her wand and performed the charm. First James and then Sirius stood up, groggy and confused. Lily smiled wryly at them. "He's quicker than you thought."
James looked at Harry, then back at her. "Did he have a wand?" he demanded.
Lily shook her head. "Apparently he can toss wandless stunners around like it's no big deal. I think you two might be out of your league."
Sirius smiled. "Well done, Harry, if that is your real name."
Harry glared at him. "I understand your suspicion, but I'm telling you the truth. I'd swear an oath, if I had a wand to use." He looked at Lily hesitantly. "Uh, Mrs. Potter?" he said. "Feel free to cast a Finite on me, if it will help these gentlemen to relax."
Sirius looked offended. "James, he called us gentlemen," he complained.
Lily rolled her eyes, then lifted her wand. "Finite Incantatem," she pronounced carefully. Harry's robes vanished, but everything else stayed the same.
Harry sighed, and tossed James and Sirius their wands. "Mr. Potter, would you do the honors?" he asked. James conjured him a fresh set of robes.
"Are you satisfied that I am who I say I am?" Harry asked wearily.
"For now, let's say that I am," James replied cautiously, and Sirius nodded. "And I guess I should say I'm sorry too. Like Lily said, we never could have imagined that it would be you that we summoned."
"You thought it would be King Arthur or something," Harry said, trying to lighten things up before his next bombshell. It worked, a little; Lily bit her lip and James looked sheepish. "Look, I was pretty hard on the people in the last universe who voted to summon me. But it's a little easier to swallow when it's me you're trying to protect." All three of them looked relieved.
"It sounds like you can help us, oh two-time-slayer-of-he-who-must-not-be-named. But are you willing to?" Sirius asked.
"Believe it or not, you get a lot of points just for asking. It never really occurred to those clowns in the last universe that I wouldn't be. So, assuming you're willing to make some guarantees, I'll help."
Sirius frowned. "Guarantees?"
"Yeah. Like, I won't be prosecuted for murder for killing Voldemort, or any of his followers. Like you'll leave me alone when I'm done, and not try to make me Minister of Magic or something. Like you'll work with me, and trust my judgment and experience, and find a way to get me the resources I need."
Sirius looked puzzled. "That sounds pretty reasonable. Is that all?"
Harry snorted. "Well, last time I asked for a lot of money. I'd do that again, but I doubt I'll be here to enjoy it. And it was mostly the Potter money, which I expect you're using."
Sirius didn't look reassured. "You doubt you'll be here? Seems to me like history is on your side. Do you think he's going to kill you this time?"
"I don't, although it's always a possibility," Harry said. "But I'm starting to think that I'm just going to keep doing this forever. Dumbledore obviously knows this ritual and is willing to use it, so he's just going to keep yanking me from universe to universe until my luck runs out, or until we run out of Voldemorts." All three of them looked horrified at this idea, but Harry waved them off. "It's all right. I miss some of my friends, but I was ready to leave my home anyways. The wizarding world didn't know what to do with me, the woman I loved betrayed me, and I had no family left in the world. It's better to have a purpose again."
Lily wasn't ready to let it go. "You sounded pretty angry when you landed," she said.
"Two things about that," Harry answered. "First, it's probably better to take out my anger on Voldemort than on people who are supposed to be on the same side as I am. Second, I don't trust Dumbledore, and I don't think you should either. I won't work for him or with him, and I hope to remove him from any position of influence in the wizarding world."
James and Sirius looked genuinely alarmed at this, although Lily seemed less concerned. "Would you mind explaining that?" she asked.
"I don't even know where to start. He failed me and ultimately betrayed me so many times. He died at the end of my sixth year, in my original home, and I thought I'd forgiven him, but seeing him alive again brought it all back. But let's start here: he ignored your will, and gave me to Petunia and Vernon to raise, knowing full well that they hated magic. He didn't check up on me at all, even after I showed up at Hogwarts underweight and afraid of my own shadow, and begged not to be sent back there. He kept me in the dark about everything - I didn't even know there was a prophecy about me until after Sirius died, and by then I'd faced Voldemort three times. He totally failed to keep the school safe. Two of the times I faced Voldemort were inside Hogwarts, and I fought Death Eaters, Dementors, a basilisk, and a dragon in this castle. And then I got to the second universe, and discovered him conspiring with the Slytherin head of house to cover up a sexual assault on a twelve-year-old girl."
"None of those things has happened here," James objected.
Harry glared at him. "You're right. Maybe it was your death that sent Dumbledore over the line. But here's something that might have happened already. The prophecy that Trelawney gave: part of it was overheard by a Death Eater. That Death Eater was Severus Snape." Sirius snarled, James punched the arm of his chair, and Lily sighed sadly. "Don't start with me," Harry warned. "You two aren't exactly blameless when it comes to Snape. But this is about Dumbledore as much as it's about Snape. Snape took that prophecy to Voldemort. But when he found out that it could be about you, he was appalled. He never stopped loving Mrs. Potter here, and he begged Voldemort to leave her alone when he killed me. But that wasn't good enough - he went running to Dumbledore and told him what he'd done. Dumbledore believed that he was remorseful, and accepted him into the Order of the Phoenix. And from then on, Snape lived a double life, working for either Dumbledore or Voldemort. I'm not sure even he knew which, some of the time. When I got to Hogwarts, he was the Potions professor, and he treated me exactly as you'd imagine he'd treat the son of James Potter."
"He sold us out to Voldemort, and Dumbledore took him back anyways?" Lily asked softly.
"That's what happened. It seems like he even had enough influence with Voldemort to save your life. When Voldemort showed up at Godric's Hollow that evening, he killed Mr. Potter, then offered Mrs. Potter the chance to stand aside while he killed me. She refused, so he killed her first. But I think he offered her the chance to live because Snape asked him to."
James and Lily exchanged a look. "I'm not sure how much of that has happened here," James said slowly. "We're not living under the Fidelius, although we've discussed it, and this summoning ritual was our last option before we tried it. Snape certainly hasn't showed up at any Order meetings. But Dumbledore's been hinting that he has a source in Voldemort's circle."
"So that makes two Death Eaters in the Order," Harry said flatly.
James' eyes widened. "Peter!" he breathed. "If Peter actually has the Dark Mark, I'll start seriously thinking about how much I trust Dumbledore."
"That's a start, anyways," Harry grumbled.
"Harry," said Sirius, almost timidly.
"We've been here long enough that Polyjuice would have worn off, so yes, I'm Harry."
Sirius snorted. "Why do you keep calling James and Lily 'Mr. Potter' and 'Mrs. Potter'?"
Harry looked at Lily. "My parents died when I was fifteen months old. I was brought up by people who hated me, neglected and abused me, and my whole life I dreamed of meeting my parents one day. I saw them in the Mirror of Erised, and I saw their shadows from Voldemort's wand, and I got to speak to them briefly when I had the Resurrection Stone, but I never got to experience life with them. And now I'm here, and you're alive, but you're just a couple of years older than me, and you've got your own little Harry at home. If I start to let myself think that you're my mum and dad, I will absolutely lose it, and I can't afford that right now." He was almost sobbing now. "No matter how much I want you to be, you're not my mum and dad. I'm not even sure I can handle being around you after this. I just had to see you face to face once."
They were silent for a minute. Lily stood up, but Harry held his hand up, and she sat back down. Finally Sirius asked, "So what am I doing here?"
Harry took a deep breath. "Sirius, I want you to be my liaison to the Order. I won't talk to Dumbledore, and I don't know most of the people in that room. I know you a little, and I'm not a hundred percent sure I trust you. But there's no way I'm going to give reports to Dedalus Diggle. Will you work with me?"
Sirius looked at him for a long moment. "We'll work on your trust issues later," he said, "but yes, I'll work with you."
Harry stood up. "I think that might be enough for right now. There's still a lot to tell you, but we're not going to win the war tonight. Let's get back to the Order meeting and tell them that I'm going to kill Voldemort again, figure out where I'm going to sleep tonight, and call it a night." James and Lily stood as well, their faces somber, and even Sirius was subdued. They trudged back to the Headmaster's office, Harry still wearing his conjured robes, and entered.
Harry imagined that the Order must have been in quite an uproar, but it was a quiet group that was waiting for them. He looked around the office quickly, seeing hopeful and desperate faces, and noticed Arthur Weasley's absence. He sighed and rubbed his forehead.
"Before I left, did I say something about allowing people to leave?" he asked, without even sitting down.
Dumbledore turned to him. "His wife went into labor. Surely you wouldn't begrudge Arthur the chance to see his child born?"
Harry turned to Lily, stunned. "Did you say August 11?" he asked. She nodded. "Ginny," he breathed.
An older witch that he didn't recognize snorted aloud. "Not likely," she said. "There hasn't been a female Weasley in a dozen generations."
Harry tried hard to keep his lips from twisting into a sneer. "When you people went fishing for a hero, you didn't get Beowulf. You got somebody from a universe very similar to yours, only about fifteen years in the future. If Ginevra Molly Weasley makes her appearance tonight, will you start to believe me?"
Eyebrows went up around the table, and heads nodded. "All right," Harry said. "Then work on this. There's a traitor in the Order of the Phoenix. He's not here right now, but he may have allies that I don't know about. That's why I asked you to make sure nobody left." He sighed again. "Look, you brought me here to help you, and I'm willing to do it, given a few minor conditions." A few people turned to his companions at this, and seemed relieved at their acceptance. "But you need to accept that the ritual worked. I am capable of killing Voldemort. In fact, I've done it twice before. And it will be easier and faster if you cooperate with me and respect my skills and knowledge. When you ignore my warnings, innocent people may die. And ultimately, I'm here to prevent innocent people from dying. So if everybody would roll up their left sleeve, please?"
Dumbledore had been waiting for Harry to finish, but he couldn't let this go. "I assure you, young man, that each of these people has my full and complete trust. There's no need for anybody to demonstrate their loyalty to you, particularly when you haven't even given us your name."
Harry really wished he'd had time to pick a better alias, but now he was stuck. "You can call me Lex Luthor," he said, mentally rolling his eyes. "And I'm aware of at least one member of the Order who has taken the Dark Mark. I'd like to make sure there's not another. This will be a lot easier if Voldemort doesn't know I'm here."
Sirius stepped forward. Without saying a word, he rolled up his sleeve. When Harry nodded, James, then Lily did the same. Slowly, the others seated at the table followed suit one by one. When only Dumbledore was left, Harry looked at him pointedly.
Dumbledore sighed. "Mr. Luthor, I'm not sure why you feel this is necessary," he said, making no move to expose his arm.
Harry grimaced at him. "Dumbledore, I doubt very much that you've taken the Dark Mark. But I'm not sure why you feel that you don't owe your companions the same loyalty that they've shown to you."
Dumbledore bristled. "My loyalty is not in question here."
Harry rolled up his own sleeve, and waited. When Dumbledore remained still, Harry turned to Sirius. "I think we're done here," he said. "Sirius, pick three people you trust absolutely, at least one of which you hate, and let's get out of here. It would be nice if Moody was one of them."
Sirius winced. "Moody's in St. Mungo's. He may not make it. That was the last straw for us, in some ways."
Harry looked down. "I'm sorry. I think Moody will pull through, if it's any consolation. But I'm done talking to Dumbledore tonight. Let's get out of here." When Sirius nodded, Harry raised one arm to the ceiling. Aelf landed on his wrist, and he grabbed Sirius with his other arm and dragged him to the fireplace. Before Dumbledore could object, he grabbed a handful of Floo powder, tossed it into the fireplace, and declared, "The Three Broomsticks."
He tumbled into the familiar pub, and Sirius stepped out of the fireplace behind him. "Can you Apparate us?" Harry asked hastily.
Sirius looked doubtful. "Can you help?"
"I can, but there's only so much I can do without a wand." Harry thought he was perfectly capable of Apparating them both, but discretion seemed to be the best policy.
Sirius grabbed Harry by the arm, gritted his teeth, and counted to three. Harry poured a fair bit of power into the apparition, and they appeared in an unfamiliar alley, completely intact. Sirius led him around the corner, and Harry stopped, momentarily baffled.
"This isn't Grimmauld Place," he objected.
"Merlin, no!" Sirius replied, appalled. "I wouldn't go near the place. This is my flat in Cardiff. Now look, you may have avoided Dumbledore for now, and I don't even want to think about the interrogation James and Lily are getting, but I have a lot of questions for you. Are you going to answer them?"
Harry gave him half a smile. "You supply the tea, I'll supply the answers," he offered. Sirius nodded, and they proceeded up the stairs to Sirius' flat.