DISCLAIMER: That part of this world and those characters you've seen before belong to their Creator: JKR. The rest is mine - although I cannot quit my day job as I make no $$$
A/N: Seems time flies so to get through this next bit, another two for the price of one...
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE: PAST BECOMES PRESENT
Saturday, July 31st 1993
If his life could become any less normal, Harry could not see how. He was standing in a bedroom in a cottage in the mountain valley that had been his parents' trunk. The Head Elf of these trunks had led them here as soon as the introductions were in order telling Harry that he was needed for there was something that needed to be done and he was the only person alive who could do it. What he saw could not be possible. Given what he had heard about his father both from Albert down at the farm and at Hogwarts, he thought this was a prank. But if it was, it was the cruelest prank ever and if it was not, well it had to be because the other possibilities were impossible.
The cottage was located high in the valley as far down the valley as one could go by road. It was in a meadow in the forest, for much of the valley and the mountain sides themselves were forest. There were meadows here and there from the lake down below to where the cottage was located. At the lake, there had been a four story building that Dobby explained was a guest house. It had thirty guest rooms on the upper three floors and lounges and a large dining room on the ground floor. There had been some small docks with boats – obviously for boating – and across the road from the lake was the Quidditch Pitch and what looked like a golf course at the edge of the Valley forest. From that guest house, the road followed the river up the valley. They would learn that this river dropped some two hundred and fifty meters in the seven miles from the head of the valley to the lake so it was mostly rapids and waterfalls. What everyone did agree upon was that the valley was very pretty and the river gave it a wilderness feel.
At the high end of the Valley was a cottage another guest house with thirty rooms and stables with real horses. By now they were not surprised about livestock as the pastures had plenty of cows or sheep. Some of the trees had been removed from the sides of the mountains in the area. They were told these were the ski fields which they could use in the winter. The cottage reminded Hermione of pictures she had seen of mountain dwellings in Switzerland. It was the smallest building they had seen so far, although Harry was sure it was larger than the Dursley home. This had been where his parents had lived when they stayed here and a part of him wondered how long they had, why they were not here that terrible night, and what life would have been like had they lived here or holidayed here when he was young. Nothing he had seen had prepared him for what he saw on the cottage's upper floor and neither had the Valley's Head Elf Albert (son of the Farm's Head Elf Albert).
There was a large bed in what Harry supposed was the Master Bedroom. It was not as large as his own bed back at the Manor, then again he suspected his bed was as large as it was to accommodate him and all of his wives should they choose to sleep together, which they had. Ginny was also sharing that bed and had been since the beginning of their trip to France. She had said it kept her nightmares away – nightmares that forced her to relive the horrors of the last year almost every night. The others could understand this and allowed her to sleep there for now. It was understood she would probably have to return to her own bed once higher levels of intimacy began at least until she reached such levels with Harry as well. For now, sleeping with Harry was just that – sleeping.
This bed clearly was not intended to sleep a family such as Harry's. But it was not the bed that had Harry's attention. It was what was on the bed. Had Harry ever been to Madam Tussauds Wax Museum in London, he might have assumed the supine figures were something like that: lifelike recreations of two people, but not real. He recognized the two people. He had no memory of meeting them before, but knew he had to have when he was little. He knew who they were – or at least who these two figures resembled. He had pictures in albums with them in it. There was the collection of photographs he had received from Hagrid a little over a year ago and, more recently, the album Hermione's mother had made for them of the photos from when he, Hermione and Luna had been together as infants. There was also the portrait of these two figures that hung in his private Sitting Room. Of all the magical portraits in the Manor, it was the one he most hoped would "wake up." Several portraits had fallen asleep over the last couple of weeks indicating they were absorbing the magic necessary to animate them and activate their "memories," but that one remained a portrait. He had not thought it odd and still did not. But to see those figures lying on the bed looking almost as if they were asleep was not what he expected. He looked closely at each of them. He was certain they were not breathing. There was also an empty crib in the room. He wondered what that was about.
"It can't be," he said quietly after it had all sunk in. "My parents? Why are they here?"
It was just Harry and the younger Albert. Albert had asked his ladies to remain downstairs where they were enjoying tea. "Indeed, Sir," Albert replied.
"Are they dead? Why are they here? They died that night! Everyone knows that!"
"I have no knowledge about that, Sir," Albert replied. "They had only been here a handful of times, things being what they were. The last time they were here, you were not yet a year old and they were only here for a day or so. Lady Lily said you missed your friends. Then they were here like this and you were not with them."
"Are they dead? They're not breathing…"
"Not dead," Albert said. "Not alive either. They're in stasis. We were able to check them over. We found some … some things. But otherwise they don't seem to be injured in any way. Still, nothing we've done can revive them. We don't know why. And there's one other thing which we think is important," Albert added pointing to the nightstand nearest the young woman. "We can't touch it for some reason."
Harry walked over cautiously. He was too stunned to truly react or even think about this. On the nightstand was an envelope and upon it was written: Padfoot and/or Mooney. Harry picked it up.
"Interesting," Albert said. Harry turned and looked at the elf. "All these years … we all wondered what she had written. Perhaps it explains. But we could not touch it for some reason. Odd that you can, Sir. Perhaps the magic allows that? But as you can see, it is not addressed to you…"
"Who then are Padfoot and Mooney?" Harry asked.
"Wizards," Albert said. "Very close friends of your parents. It was their – um – private names. Padfoot is your Godfather Sirius Black and Mooney is their other best friend named Remus Lupin. We guess Mr. James and Mistress Lily expected them to come here, but they never have."
"Don't know about this Lupin fellow," Harry commented. "Black's been in prison since not long after my parents were – well whatever it was that happened." Harry opened the letter and read:
21 December 1980
A few weeks ago Albus Dumbledore convinced James to accept his offer of a safe house. I still don't understand it. It still strikes me as unnecessary given the protections on Potter Manor and the protection on the Valley. Voldemort and a world filled with Death Eaters could never get to us were we to live here in the Valley. You know why we chose not to. But that still does not explain why James agreed to the safe house. Dumbledore says he'll be by tomorrow to escort us there and despite my misgivings, James seems set on going. Something is off.
If you are reading this then we were betrayed. James never trusted Dumbledore and neither do I. As you know, we joined his Order not out of any faith in him, but because the Order is the only group truly standing against Voldemort. It was the lesser of two evils. James's sudden change of heart – it is unnatural. It is disconcerting. I suspect something has been done and fear it will be done to me as well. If you are reading this, my fears were not unfounded and my contingency plan has become necessary.
James does not know of my plan. His change of heart regarding Dumbledore tells me he cannot be trusted with this plan, even if it is the only way to protect us. I cast a spell on us. Found it in the Potter Archives. Some might call it Dark – I'm sure Dumbledore would. Blood was required and the so called light see any blood magic as dark without regard to what that magic can actually do. Sometimes the logic of wizards crosses the line to sheer lunacy, if you ask me.
Without going into the complexities of the magic, the spell is a form of Switching Spell. It does not take effect until something triggers it. In this case, the trigger is any magical attack against us with lethal intent. In theory, the Killing Curse would trigger the spell and once triggered we are replaced Outside with a doppelganger of sorts. In our cases, they are dead, transfigured pigs that as I write this are held in stasis. I used pigs because they can hold such transfiguration far longer than any other animal aside from another human or primate. The attacker will assume we are dead as will the rest of the world unless the fake bodies are kept for several weeks and we know that this will not be the case. The drawback to the spell is that the real us will replace the transfigured pigs as well and we will be in stasis until revived.
Actually, there are two drawbacks. Revival cannot be done by normal means. It too requires blood. There is a rune on the door to this bedroom. To revive the three of us you need to place a drop of Harry's blood on the rune. You will find a vial of the blood in the potions cabinet in the basement here for you can't draw the blood while we are in stasis. Once we are revived, you will need to give us – force us if necessary – to take a Flushing Draught. The only thing I can think of that could cause James to change his opinion of Dumbledore is a type of Loyalty Potion. I fear Dumbledore will get it into me sooner rather than later. Many might argue it could be the Imperius Curse, but we know that's all but useless on a Potter for some reason.
Thank you in advance for restoring us to our lives and helping us free from that man's (and I use the term loosely) schemes.
Harry was too conflicted to say anything so he did the only thing he could think of: he handed the letter to Albert. His parents were alive? Could it be possible? But then, why wasn't he here? Why did he not join them this way? He wondered who the other friend was and why that friend had never revived the parents. He was furious at Dumbledore. The man was not only conspiring to steal the life he was supposed to have but had gone so far as to steal the life he might already have had. He was supposed to grow up with Hermione and Luna and those memory charms had ripped that away. But this? Was he trying to get his parents killed? Harry thought that possible if the political theory was the truth. But doing so in a way that might have ended House Potter forever? Dumbledore wanted control of the House and its votes and were House Potter totally destroyed, those votes would be lost to him. What really happened back then?
"This explains things," Albert noted after a time.
"It does?" Harry said. He was trying to get control of his emotions. He wanted to laugh. Something about this had to be funny. He wanted to cry his eyes out for so many years had been taken from him and arguably from Hermione and Luna as well. It did not matter that things worked out in the end because he knew from the Tennyson / Flamels that they were not supposed to have worked out at all. He wanted to scream and rage. All of this was the fault of one man. And for what? What was so bloody important that lives had been ruined left and right? He tried to remain calm.
"Aye," Albert the Younger replied. "We did not understand how they arrived here or why we could not revive them. There were, as this letter suggests, three pigs in stasis in the basement and there's only one down there now."
"But why are they here and I … and I was not?"
"I cannot answer that with certainty, Master Harry. I know nothing about the magic Mistress Lily may have used. Based on the letter, I can only guess."
"Guess then," Harry snapped. He did not mean to. It was not the elf's fault. The conflicting emotions were hard to control.
The elf appeared startled for a moment but then seemed to understand the sniping was not truly directed at him. "Mistress Lily says the trigger for the magic was a spell cast with lethal intent. Such magics as this are … temperamental. Perhaps, the trigger required more than just intent of the caster? Perhaps the magic used had to be truly lethal such that if Mistress Lily's spell was not there, they would have died then and there. And perhaps whatever might have been cast upon you even if intended as lethal, could not have killed you. It's just a guess."
"I suppose it makes sense," Harry sighed. "We'll never really know, will we?" he added rhetorically. "Can they be…"
"I cannot say, Sir," Albert replied. "We have to trust that Mistress Lily knew what she was doing. All we can do now is try."
Harry nodded. "You have a knife around here? I left my wand back at the Manor."
"It said that my blood is needed," Harry began.
"Master Harry, that rune was set up twelve years ago. Blood magic is very sensitive. It's entirely possible that only the blood from the vial the letter speaks of will work. After twelve years, there may be changes however small that would ensure the rune does not work as intended. Even a change in hormonal balance could affect the outcome and you are old enough that it is likely there has been such a change of some sort. I will retrieve the vial and … well, seeing how Mistress Lily thought this through I have no doubt there are vials of Flushing Potion in storage as well. Perhaps you should wait with your ladies?"
"I cannot say how long this will take assuming it works. They might revive immediately or it might take time. The Flushing Draught takes time, possibly hours, to do its job and during that time … well, they will be violently ill. They then will need time to freshen up and…"
Harry nodded. "I'll wait with my ladies."
"If this lasts late into the evening, I will instruct the staff to ready rooms for you and your ladies across the road in the Guest House, if that's okay with you, Sir."
Moments later, Harry had returned to the Parlor downstairs where his Ladies had been waiting. He sat in the remaining empty tears and immediately burst into tears.
Harry Potter did not cry. It was a lesson he learned early on living with his vile relatives. They enjoyed it when they got him to cry, but only for a few seconds. Then, they seemed bent on punishing him more. He learned that crying never solved anything and only made things worse and given that his relatives took pleasure in his misery he was determined from an early age not to give them that satisfaction. But this did not mean he never felt like crying or was without emotions. Quite the contrary, he felt at least as keenly as anyone. He just learned to hide it. Deep down he knew this was a mistake because he knew he could not keep it bottled up forever and when it did break to the surface, it was not pleasant for him or anyone else for that matter. Crying from sadness, frustration, confusion or pain remained locked away. Rage and the resulting bouts of accidental magic were the replacement and arguably were far worse for Harry than having a good cry at a young age. His weeks with his ladies had softened his emotional barriers so now he cried. He did not know for how long. Oddly, he felt better when it ended. Of course, it helped that he had five pretty girls for whom he cared deeply doing their best to comfort him even if they did not understand what had caused his long overdue breakdown.
When he finally regained his composure, he explained what had happened. Needless to say, they were stunned.
"They're alive?" Hermione asked.
Harry shrugged. "I don't know. I only know what the letter said and what I saw which was the two of them in that bed. They weren't breathing. They might be…"
"If they're in stasis they wouldn't be breathing," Daphne observed. "And if they're alive this is going to be at least as much of a shock for them as it was for you, Harry. Maybe even more so."
"A stasis charm stops time," Daphne explained. "They have not aged a second since it activated. To them, their last memory would be of whatever it was that triggered that magic. What happened that night did not happen twelve years ago for them. It happened in their last blink of an eye. They'll have no memory of time passing. Their only 'new' memories will be whatever it is they go through after reviving. Then, they'll come down stairs and see a thirteen year old boy and not the toddler they remember. They may well be more confused about this than you are."
"Makes sense," Harry said.
"Perhaps we should ease them into it?" Luna suggested. She then explained what she meant. When she was done, Dobby popped back to the Manor to gather some things and returned within a couple of minutes.
"Milord?" a voice called. Harry and the others saw Albert standing in the doorway. "The magic seems to have worked, Milord. Master James and Mistress Lily are reviving as we speak. As soon as they were able, we gave them the Flushing Draughts."
"So there were potions?" Harry asked.
The elf nodded. "As the letter stated, Sir. A very, very powerful and persistent loyalty potion. I cannot say to whom it was keyed."
"Three guesses and the first two don't count," Hannah growled. There were no takers.
"The effects of the flushing are … predictable," Albert continued. "I cannot say how long before they can join you."
"Effects," Harry asked. It took all of his willpower to keep from running up the stairs.
"Flushing Draughts are a nasty business," Albert said.
"Opens you up at both ends," Daphne said. "The potion tries to force all others out of your system as quickly as possible. You lose all control of bodily functions. It is, you can imagine, very messy, very disgusting."
"Not a good way to remember anyone – wallowing in their own filth," Hannah remarked.
"Oh," Harry said with a smirk, "I don't know. Malfoy? Snape?"
"Much as the idea has some merit," Daphne said, "I wouldn't want to actually see it … or smell it come to think of it."
The others agreed, although Harry did wonder if it could be possible to spike their pumpkin juice with something like that. It was a surprisingly pleasant thought for a moment.
"So – um – how do we handle this?" Ginny asked. "I mean when they come down?"
"Wing it," Harry replied immediately.
"Harry!" Hermione scolded.
"Go with my strengths. You know things work out better if I don't plan ahead."
"What's a Norbert?" Hannah asked stating the question on the minds of all of the girls not named Hermione.
"Hagrid's pet dragon," Harry replied.
"He doesn't have a pet dragon," Ginny countered.
"He did. Spring of First Year," Harry said. "Quirrell gave him the egg to entice him to spill about how to get passed Fluffy."
"Okay, what's a Fluffy?" Daphne asked.
"Cerberus," Hermione replied. "It was a huge, three headed and bad tempered dog guarding that corridor on the Third Floor our First Year. They're said to be the guardians of the Underworld and it was guarding a trap door that led to chambers below the castle. Hagrid thinks it's a nice little doggy."
Harry snorted. "Hagrid's idea of a good pet are a normal person's idea of a nightmare. Anyway, Hagrid got this dragon's egg and hatched it in his hut…"
"Is he crazy? The place is made of wood!" Hannah exclaimed.
"No doubt, he's a little off," Hermione agreed. "Nice enough, but a little off."
"And we came up with a plan to get the dragon away from Hogwarts and keep Hagrid out of trouble. Didn't work out so well."
"Oh?" a few asked in unison.
"Got rid of the dragon easy enough. Ginny's brother Charlie and a few of his friends took it away. But we got caught. Lost loads of points."
"Everyone wondered what it was you lot were doing," Daphne said. "They lost fifty points each," she added for Ginny's benefit.
"So did Malfoy who ratted us out," Harry said. "McGonagall was rather put out about the whole thing … and she knew nothing 'bout the dragon as far as we know. Hermione and I managed to get it up to the Astronomy Tower. Neville Longbottom got dragged into it 'cause he was trying to keep us out of trouble. Ron would've helped, but the blighter bit him a few days earlier and he was still in the Hospital Wing. Had it all planned out, we did. And it went pear shaped faster than you can say Quidditch. Then there's the polyjuice potion…"
"Fine!" Hermione huffed. "See if I ever plan anything again!"
"Sorry," Harry said. "You were the only one who came up with any sort of plan. Ron and I were at a loss as to what to do and it's not like either of us had a better idea or could see the problems…"
"Polyjuice Potion?" Hannah asked. "What could you possible do with that?"
"How'd you get it?" Daphne asked. "And why?"
"Hermione made it," Harry said with more than a hint of pride in his voice, something not lost on Hermione. "Last year," he added.
"You made Polyjuice Potion as a Second Year?" Daphne gasped. "That's beyond N.E.W.T.s! Did it work?"
"Course it worked," Hermione huffed as if to say it was obvious.
"Well, mostly. We figured if anyone knew who the Heir of Slytherin was it'd be Malfoy. Also figured he'd never tell us a thing. But he'd tell a Slytherin. Ron and I changed into Crabbe and Goyle and Hermione was supposed to change into Bulstrode but…"
"It was a cat hair," Hermione said. "Took if off her robes when there was that dueling club and we went at each other like … how was it put … common muggles. Already had the idea about tricking Malfoy, but it was a cat hair."
"What happened?" Ginny asked.
"She became cat-girl," Harry chuckled.
Hermione blushed. "And it's not designed for that – the potion I mean. I was all furry, had a tail and all that. Licked myself in embarrassing places. And it did not wear off on its own like it's supposed to. Took Madam Pomfrey a month to get it all sorted out and I still had hairballs for a bit."
"She was a cute kitty," Harry chided. "Pity I don't have a picture of that."
"Hush you!" Hermione blushed. "It was a good plan as was the Norbert one. It just didn't go as planned."
"Little margin for error," Daphne nodded. "Seems if there is an error, it's bound to go pear shaped. Should've had back-ups and back-ups for the back-ups. Needed more flexibility, I should think. It was like Draco's plan for the wizard's duel with Harry. It assumed everything would work as Draco thought it would and it didn't and when it didn't there was no way to recover."
"Or his plan to rat us out," Harry sniggered. "He assumed McGonagall would overlook that he was breaking the same rules we were breaking. Little Ponce lost fifty point as well."
"And got locked in a closet for a day," Daphne said. "The upper years were less than thrilled at his mistake and its cost. Whined to his Daddy, he did. You should've heard the howler he got for that one! Daddy said he should spend another day locked in a closet which the upper years were all too eager to oblige."
"Couldn't happen to a nicer guy," Hannah laughed.
Harry and Hermione then began to truly tell the others of their adventures over the last two years. They had told much of it before, but only in bits and pieces and what had seemed to the others to have been isolated incidents and perhaps incredible bad luck on Harry's part seeing as few students ever had such adventures at school now appeared to be part of a pattern and not the kind of pattern any of them liked. When coupled with what the Flamels had told them a month or so ago, they now understood that prophecies were best left alone. There were two powerful wizards bent on a prophecy and in seeing it fulfilled as they would wish. The fact that Harry seemed to be at the center of it mattered not at all just as neither really cared one whit as to what Harry might want for a life. Still, as ominous as were the implications of everything, the stories were amusing or at least they were told that way. They had no idea how long the story telling had gone on nor did they care as they were all enjoying it whether it was the telling, the listening or the running commentary.
"WHERE'S HARRY?" a woman's voice shrieked from up the stairs. "WHERE'S OUR SON?" There was a pause, almost as if someone else was talking yet the voice could not be heard. "DOWNSTAIRS? THIS IS NO TIME FOR ONE OF THEIR PRANKS! WHERE'S MY WAND? THOSE TWO WILL LEARN A FEW HEXES THEY'VE NEVER EVEN HEARD OF!" There was another pause. "FINE! I DON'T NEED MAGIC TO MAKE THEM WISH THEY'D NEVER BEEN BORN!"
"I take it that must be your mother," Daphne said to Harry.
"And I thought my Mum had a pair of lungs," Ginny added. "She could learn a thing or two from that one."
"Maybe I should've just left them," Harry said although he did not mean it.
"Howlers. Bloody hate those things."
"Wish you had a plan now?" Hermione asked.
"If I did, it just went pear shaped," Harry replied. "Time to wing it," he added as he heard footsteps on the stairs.
A red haired woman in her early twenties all but stormed into the room. There was no look of recognition in her eyes when she saw the boy and the girls. She looked around as if there might be someone else there, before focusing her glare on the children.
"Where is he?" she growled. "What have you done with my son?"
"Lils?" a voice asked. A young man who looked not unlike an older version of Harry had entered the room as well with a confused look on his face.
"What have you done with my son?" the woman repeated stepping towards Harry. There was a loud pop and she was thrown back and stuck to the wall behind her.
An elf now stood between Harry and the woman. "You will not harm Harry Potter," the elf said in a dark voice. The woman was in no position to argue and even assuming she was capable of responding, she seemed to be either tongue tied or silenced.
"You would be well advised," a blonde haired young woman said, "that Dobby here is most enthusiastic when it comes to looking out for his family."
"Quite creative," another of the girls said.
"Hah!" the boy laughed. "Vicious is a better word! You all should've seen what he did to my Aunt and Uncle. Not that they didn't deserve it or more, come to think about it."
"Who are you?" the man asked. "Where's my son and why is my wife stuck to the wall." He might have done more than just ask questions were it not for the elf with a very determined and mischievous expression glaring at him. "And why did that elf call you Harry Potter?"
"To answer your first and last question," Harry said, "he called me that 'cause it's my name."
"It can't be! Harry's only fifteen months old." It was the woman on the wall who spoke.
Harry looked at Dobby. The elf shrugged. "Loud lady be Great Harry Potters Mum. Dobby not be thinkings she be like nasty muggleses, but she be angry and she not be knowing her own son so she be stucks to wall 'til she be calms down." There were some sniggering at the "loud lady" remark. "She be talkings 'cause she be calmings down."
"Thanks Dobby," Harry said to the elf.
"It can't be," the woman said again. Her feet were almost on the ground.
"I was fifteen months old once," Harry said. "Certainly didn't start life this age. But that was a long time ago. I have no memory of that time."
"Long time?" the woman asked. Her feet were now on the ground but she still was not moving from the wall.
Harry nodded. "Whatever happened to you happened on October 31st 1981. Today is July 31st, 1993."
The woman slumped. "Twelve years? But … but how?"
"The staff elves could not release either of you from stasis," one of the young women said. This one had brown, bushy hair. "We think the stasis charm was somehow connected to whatever spell you used to evade an untimely death. As far as the Wizarding World is concerned, James and Lily Potter died that night."
"And if they were in stasis, their magical signature would be repressed to a point where it would not register," a blonde young witch added. "It may well have been recorded as a death and so long as they remained in stasis and undiscovered, there would be no reason to suspect otherwise."
"But … but why not Harry as well? That spell was supposed to protect all of us," the woman said, now free from the wall and sinking into a chair that another elf had provided for her.
"We don't really know what happened that night," Harry said. "The Wizarding World believes I survived the Killing Curse. From what I understand, unless there was another witness there's no way to know that. We think someone may have made that up for some reason. Now, given what your letter said, had I really been hit with that curse I'd have been in the room upstairs under stasis with you two. Assuming I was hit with a spell, it may be that the spell was not lethal and yet somehow something happened that blew the attacker to bits. We don't know what or how nor do I really care."
"I think a proper introduction is in order before we get to involved in figuring out just what is going on," James Potter said.
"Sorry," Harry said. "Still getting used to this polite stuff. It wasn't as if I had a proper upbringing," he added getting some chuckles from the girls. "I am Harry James Potter, born July 31st 1980 and supposedly orphaned October 31st, 1981. This is my bondmate and wife, the former Miss Hermione Granger. My other bondmate and wife, the former Miss Luna Lovegood. My other wife, the former Miss Daphne Greengrass. My wife and consort, Lady Hannah Abbott and last but not least, my betrothed Ginny, formerly Ginevra Weasley and now Virginia Potter."
"Well, at least one thing went as hoped seeing as you were raised with Luna and Hermione," Lily began.
"I wasn't," Harry said. "Didn't know either until Hogwarts or at least I have no memory of them nor they of me."
"Then who raised you?" Lily asked. "You were supposed to go to them or your Godfather or…"
"I was supposed to go just about anywhere except where I did," Harry said. "Dumbledore took advantage of things for some reason and left me with the Dursleys…"
"That was the one place you were never supposed to go!" Lily protested. "My sister hates magic and her husband…"
"No need to get started on them," Harry said. "There are reasons for it, but those reasons cannot be fully believed given how kind they were to me, as in not at all."
"If they harmed a hair on your head…"
"They have their uses," Harry said shrugging it off. "Besides, something tells me whatever you could plan could in no way be anywhere near as cruel as what Dobby did to them when I asked him to deal with the situation."
"What did your elf do?" James asked.
"Dobby broke all nasty muggleses things," Dobby said. "And fixes thems and breaks thems again and again."
"Um … doesn't sound so cruel," James said cautiously.
"Dobby considered 'things' broadly," Harry said. "I didn't tell him what to do. I just wanted them to understand in no uncertain terms that things had changed and they had no choice but to do as I wanted them to do. Among the things Dobby broke over and over again was just about every bone in their bodies."
"Your elf attacked a human?" James paled.
"My elf did what was necessary for his House," Harry replied clearly unrepentant. "It may have been a bit extreme, but considering my life with them maybe not so extreme as they only suffered for a few hours."
"You had them killed?"
"What fun is that? They're of no use to me dead."
"That sounds rather dark," James began.
"You didn't live with them," Harry replied. "We've come to an arrangement. They ignore my existence and remain where they are until I tell them otherwise and I don't set Dobby on them again or break them financially or turn them over to the Goblins as thieves or…"
"You set an elf on a Human?"
"Is that a problem?"
"It's not done!"
"Which means it's what Harry does," Luna said. "Harry does that which is not done or which should be impossible. That's just another day for him."
"I don't know whether I should take that as a compliment or not," Harry began.
"Oh tosh! Name another twelve year old wizard who killed a sixty foot basilisk," Hermione countered.
"What?" the older two Potters exclaimed.
"Better yet, any wizard who's three and naught against Voldemort," Ginny said.
"Might even be five and naught if you count the Quidditch match First Year and the Forbidden Forest," Harry added with a tone as if this was nothing.
"You don't really mean Voldemort himself, do you?" Lily asked.
"He does," Hermione said.
"And with all that going on, you still managed to have a love life?" James asked trying to lighten the mood.
"Not on purpose. Things just worked out that way. I didn't know any of these lovely ladies before starting Hogwarts. I met Hermione on the Express before first year and Luna just before the end of this year. I knew the other three, but never really spoke with them until after it was all signed and all that. Found out about the bonds and contracts at the beginning of this year's summer holiday and after our bonds began to form. It's a long story."
"It's not like we have plans," James Potter said.
Over the course of dinner and into the evening, Harry and the others told the older Potters about all that had happened and all that they had learned since the summer began with one exception: the Flamels and future knowledge were not included. They would learn of it sooner or later, but it was not important at this time.
"But none of this makes any sense," Lily complained much later. "Why would he use those potions on us to place us in hiding as he did? If he did this to gain control of House Potter votes…?"
"That was later," Harry said. "That was after the world thought you were dead."
"I don't think the two plots are related that way," Daphne added. "The earlier was one of two possibilities. Don't know enough about Dumbledore to say which one was the real one. One was that he was setting House Potter up for annihilation. That is possible based upon the circumstances and what happened, but for his political goals it seems foolish. Everyone knew you were under his protection and had it even looked like a set up, the entire Wizengamot would've turned on him for one reason or another. It would be viewed as an illegal line war. That and what could he gain? All but one of House Potter votes are tied to hereditary titles, titles that would die with the line. True, it would weaken the Moderates, but it would cripple the Liberals completely and that assumes that he didn't wind up in prison for his actions. No, I think the safe house and loyalty potions were not about those politics, rather about that Prophecy."
"Oh?" several asked.
"Dumbledore gained a lot of political power when he defeated Grindelwald. He might have become Headmaster of Hogwarts in any event, but all he was politically was a leader in a minor fringe faction. He would never have been considered for the position of Chief Warlock or Supreme Mugwump of the I.C.W. had he not defeated Grindelwald. But that's yesterday's news and it's not like there're any other shining stars in his Liberal faction."
"A cabal of kooks, my Daddy says," Luna added. "Then again, Daddy favors the Moderates."
"So, we have this One of the Prophecy seemingly destined to defeat Voldemort," Daphne continued. "Assuming there's any validity to it, only the One can do so. And Dumbledore knew all too well what kind of political capital that would have and both of the boys who best fit what he knew were from staunch Moderate families. So, maybe he thought that by controlling or even preventing the rise of the One, he could prevent loss of prestige to a rival faction. He might one day say that even though it was the One who struck the blow, without his guidance it would have been for naught. That's just a guess, but it makes more sense than planning for his own political demise."
"And what happened afterwards?" James asked. "It was not related?"
"An opportunity presented itself," Harry replied. "We don't think it had crossed his mind at all until you two supposedly died leaving me as an orphan. There had been no effort to even prepare to gain control over me or my House prior to then. According to the Goblins, Dumbledore did not see them about the Weasley Contract or his Guardianship over me until after that night and those documents were executed within days. Hence, he missed the loopholes which we were able to exploit this summer. Had that been his plan from the beginning, we think he would've done a better job of it. I would not have been at such risk that night and he would've closed off any and all loose ends."
"It's still politics," Ginny countered.
"True," Hannah agreed. "But I think they're right. While the end goal was the same – advancement of the Liberal agenda and whatever the so called Greater Good is – the schemes are not the same and cannot work together the way I see it."
"This should never have happened," Lily Potter growled. "Where's Sirius? Where's Remus?"
"Um…," Harry began. "No idea who this Remus person is. I never heard the name before Albert showed me that letter. As for Sirius Black, until very recently he was almost as unavailable as the two of you were."
"What do you mean?" his parents asked.
"Until a couple of weeks ago, Sirius Black was in prison."
"Prison?" James asked. "As in Azkaban Prison? What the bloody hell for?"
"I always told you those pranks would bite you in the end," Lily tried to joke. No one, not even Lily Potter found it funny.
"According to the Daily Prophet, Sirius betrayed the Potter family to Voldemort," Hermione said. "Then after the deed was done, he went off and snuffed a war hero and a dozen muggles with a single spell and bragged about it. Of course each article since adds to the notoriety. He's now said to be the real Dark Lord or at least the designated successor to Voldemort and any other vile thing you can think of."
"But that's impossible! He's your Godfather!" Lily protested.
"If Black's a Death Eater or Dark Lord, I'm a girl," James Potter added trying to be cheeky.
"Don't even think about proving you're not!" Lily said.
"Thank you, Mrs. Potter," Hermione said. "Speaking as one of Harry's wives I think I speak for all of us we'd rather see only one naked male. And before you ask, we haven't seen one yet."
"I have," Ginny said. "Six older brothers," she explained for the benefit of the older Potters. "But I agree. No more naked boys not named Harry Potter and not before I'm properly married to the same."
"In other words," Lily began.
"I was not planning on dropping my trousers!" James protested. "I was just saying Sirius is no Death Eater! How did this happen?"
"We know he had no trial," Hannah said. "Mum and I went to the Ministry and got loads of stuff 'bout what happened back then. He was at the scene of the explosion. Didn't deny anything. Then again, aside from admitting he was hoping to kill Peter Pettigrew, he didn't admit to anything either. He got chucked into Azkaban based upon some Emergency Decree and was supposed to get some kind of trial, if only to determine the sentence and close out any cases he may have been responsible for. It never happened for some reason. We have the supposed confession. It might have been enough to see him arrested under that Decree, but Mum says he could never have been convicted on it. They had no other evidence aside from Dumbledore saying he was your Secret Keeper…"
"He had been," Lily admitted.
"We changed it," James said. "Dumbledore was not there when we switched. Pettigrew was supposed to tell him of the change."
"When was that?"
"We made the switch a few days before Voldemort invited himself over for tea," James replied. "The rat sold us out!"
"Wait," Lily said, "you said Sirius was in prison until recently. Did the Ministry finally wise up?"
"You're kidding, right?" Hannah laughed. "The Ministry can do no wrong! Just ask them!"
"If what I understand of this Black person is correct," Luna said, "I'd say that he'd say he felt he had paid his debt to society and therefore released himself on his own recognizance."
James Potter laughed. "How'd he manage that? No one's ever escaped before! Now that's one prank for the ages!"
"Unfortunately, no one's laughing," Harry said. He pulled from the file a newspaper. "Yesterday's edition of the Daily Prophet," he explained. "Seems the Ministry can't find the humor in the escape."
James and Lily read the article. "But they can't," James began.
"It seems they can," Harry said. "They've authorized lethal force. They've put a price on his head! Snuff him and prove that you did and turn over the body, and you get fifty thousand Galleons!"
"He's as good as dead," James said.
"We don't think so," Harry said with an odd tone in his voice. "We have a plan which we will put in play before the summer is out. One way or another it will succeed."
"One way or another?" James asked hopefully.
"One way, Sirius Black is exonerated. The other way, he lives where the Ministry and all its Galleons can't touch him and the Minister for Magic and anyone affiliated with him stand trial for attempted Line Theft. And the third way is Sirius is free and the Minister and his friends are in the dock." And then Harry told his parents the plan.
They all retired for the evening once the plan had been discussed. It was very late and Harry and his girls crossed over to the Guest House to spend the night. It was not quite the same as there was no bed large enough for all of them. They had a room with two large beds, so they shoved the beds together and asked Dobby to transform the two mattresses into one for their stay. It worked out well enough, but all would still prefer the bed back home. They had breakfast the next morning at the cottage where on Hermione's suggestion they avoided discussing anything that had been mentioned the day before. This did not leave much, until Ginny reminded them that Harry did play Quidditch. Lily seemed tolerant of this discussion and seemed to be of the same opinion about the sport as Hermione was. James, however, was thrilled to learn that his son was the youngest player in over a century and had played as a First Year even if Harry was a Seeker. This led to a discussion as to Seeker bias which both Harry and James explained to the ladies. James was surprised that Harry agreed with the concept as in his experience most Seekers thought it was much ado about nothing.
"To be honest," Harry said, "the only reason I play is I like flying. If I wasn't on the team, I'd have few opportunities seeing as I can't fly on holiday and certainly not like that. The Seeker ruins it for everyone, you ask me."
"Why do you say that?" Lily asked.
"Look, you can justify calling the game when the Snitch is caught," Harry said. "But to award a hundred and fifty points? In most cases, the rest of the team can sit out the game on the bench. Whatever they do means nothing in the end. Strikes me that long ago the wizards combined two games into one and made a mess of them both."
"I never met a Seeker who thought that way," James began.
"You're making that mistake again, Mr. Potter," Luna said in a lyrical voice.
"Please, call me something else," James said.
"James, we are Harry's parents," Lily observed.
"Biologically, yes," James replied. "But we've been absentee parents all these years even if it wasn't our plan or even our fault. We're only seven year older than Harry now, not twenty as we once were. Besides, she says 'Mr. Potter' and I keep looking for a Professor."
Harry laughed the loudest at that statement.
"Well, what should I call you?" Luna asked. "Daddy sounds wrong to me. I mean my Daddy's still alive even if Mum is not."
"She's not?" Lily gasped.
Luna shook her head.
"What … what happened? When?"
"My Mum was a brilliant witch, you know. She was working on a spell and it went horribly wrong. I was nearby when it happened. There was nothing I could do. I was nine at the time. I was sad about it but Daddy always said that she went peacefully. I don't know how he can say that as he wasn't there, but he insists it was so 'cause I was and my Mum did not die all alone. It still makes me sad sometimes, but I suppose maybe it was a good thing I was there."
"I'm so sorry, Luna," Lily said.
"Why? It wasn't your fault. Oh. That was one of those polite things to say, wasn't it?"
"Um … it was, but she was a very good friend. You didn't deserve to lose…"
"Daddy says life does not care about who deserves what. If it was like that, Minister Fudge would be baked into a pie and fed to the Goblins at a feast."
"Okay, why does he say that?"
"Oh, because that's what Minister Fudge does at his feasts, although he confunds everyone into thinking it's really beef or chicken or some such and not Goblin pies."
"It's best not to think too hard," Ginny said. "We can't prove conclusively that Fudge does not bake Goblins into pies nor that the thought has never crossed his mind."
"If you eliminate the impossible, then whatever is left however improbable must be the truth," Luna said. "I don't actually think that Goblin pie is served at the Ministry, but I can't prove it not to be the case. Anyway, this has nothing to do with what I should call you um I-shouldn't-call-you-Mr. Potter."
"You could call me Dennis," I-shouldn't-call-you-Mr. Potter said. Luna noticed a mischievous look on the man's face but thought nothing of it for she also noticed Hermione roll her eyes and shake her head. Unknowingly, she played into James Potter's prank.
"Well, I didn't know you were called Dennis," she said.
"You never bothered to ask now, did you," he shot back.
This confused Luna for she certainly had. "What?"
"James," Lily growled in a low voice.
"What I object to is the way you automatically treat me as inferior," he continued.
"I…I," Luna began but felt a hand on her shoulder. Hermione was trying to calm her down as if she knew what was going on.
"Well," Hermione said primly as Lily muttered "James" louder, "she is a King."
"A King, eh? Oh very nice! And how'd she get that eh? By exploiting the workers…"
"JAMES POTTER SHUT IT!" Lily yelled. "I swear that was the BIGGEST mistake I ever made in my life! Should never have taken my classmates to the cinema that summer! Apologize!"
"What was that?" Harry asked in confusion.
"Monty Python and the Holy Grail," Hermione said with a hint of disgust. "It's a picture show older than we are that perpetual juveniles like my Dad – and apparently yours as well – watch a few hundred times too many so it completely fries their brains assuming they had brains to fry to begin with."
"Um … really?"
"How many times did you watch it that summer, James?" Lily asked in an annoyed tone.
"Um … a few?"
"A few?" she nearly shrieked. "A few? Once or twice a day, every day for weeks is only a few?"
"And that's only because you and Sirius figured out how to copy your memories and play it over and over and over in a pensieve! It's my fault. I admit it. I showed these … boys … the wonders of the cinema, but could not for the life of me teach them taste."
"In my defense, we only did that 'cause we had to go back to Hogwarts…"
"And they were practically distraught the next summer when it was no longer in theaters! Didn't understand why Muggles would want to watch anything else."
"What?" Lily asked.
"Didn't have VCR's back then, did they?"
"Um … what's that?" Lily and others asked.
"A machine that lets you play pictures like that on the telly over and over again. I never saw that film in a theater. I've seen it goodness knows how many times. I admit it is funny in parts, clever in others. But I don't understand the need to see it several times a year, which my Dad insists is necessary. Then again, there was one bit he always sent me out of the room for. I finally saw it last summer."
"Which part was that?" James asked.
"James," Lily growled.
"Castle Anthrax. Wasn't 'til last summer I saw the bit where the nine score girls all between the ages of seventeen and nineteen and a half who spent their days dressing and undressing and making exciting underwear got all excited about getting spankings from Sir Galahad and the oral sex…"
"Whoa!" Harry said, "they had that in a film?"
"No, they said that in a film," Hermione said. "They didn't show anything. I guess my dad didn't want me to ask questions about that sort of thing, which was why he sent me out whenever that scene came up."
James sniggered. "That was a funny bit…"
"James, shut it! You're corrupting our son!"
"I am not!" he protested.
"It's too late," Luna said. "We've already corrupted him rotten."
"You're too young for that, the lot of you," Lily scolded.
"Oh, we haven't done that, Mistress Lily," Luna said. "We merely choose attire that doesn't require any underwear or over-wear or any wear whatsoever."
"Wait…what?" James asked.
"Now look what you did!" Lily scolded. "I had a perfectly good husband and you broke him!"