The Dursleys didn't approve of things that were not normal. No, they most certainly did not. In fact, they disapproved of abnormal so much that their normality was, itself, beyond the norm. It has to be said, however, that even they couldn't keep everything that wasn't strictly fact out of the house. Dudley's favourite television shows when he was little had super heroes on them after all, or talking animals giving moral lessons, or something similar. But that was also normal for children, and so the Dursleys approved while grumbling about a time before television and the things they'd done to entertain themselves when they were young, and then going on to say that the television shows of earlier years were both better than current ones even if they didn't have a patch on the special effects that got used now.
That was some time ago now though. These days, rather than cartoons, Dudley's preferred television was Red Dwarf and Doctor Who. These were alright, despite being extreme fiction and altogether strange, because they were British television shows, and science fiction. Heavy emphasis given on science while the fiction part was just an add on to the Dursleys, even when it wasn't. Red Dwarf was also much more comedic than Doctor Who generally, and sometimes a bit crude, but it was still British comedy – infinitely better than that American stuff – and science fiction.
A newly fifteen-year-old Harry James Potter was doing the dusting while Dudley sat on his fat arse, eating greasy chips from the fish and chip shop down the street, and watched the episode of Red Dwarf entitled 'Oroboros'. Harry carefully hid his disgust at the way Dudley leered at Kachanski in that skin-tight red outfit and gave as much of his attention as possible to his task while still keeping an ear on the show. Hey, he liked it too, even if he wasn't really allowed to watch it.
Rimmer was a smeg-head though – which was a little bit worrying, since Rimmer actually reminded him of a combination of all Ron and Hermione's worst traits rolled into one.
By the time the dusting was done and Red Dwarf was over, Harry's mind was spinning with the whole 'Lister is his own father and had to combine his DNA with his own mother's in order to be born' bit, and even though he knew it was science fiction, he couldn't help but wonder about the whole genetic aspect. Eventually, enough times around, the original paternal gene would be wiped out by the mother's, since she isn't her own other parent. A combination of XY plus XX, where that first X is actually exactly the same gene would eventually lead to that Y disappearing...
Harry shook his head to himself as he moved off to his room and checked that he was completely packed, ready for the Order (whatever that was) coming to collect him in readiness for the bloody trial he was being summoned to for defending himself (and Dudley, but that was more by incident than familial care) from a pair of dementors that had no business being in Surrey in the first place.
Old clothes that no longer fit were stuffed into a corner to act as a buffer around more fragile objects, not that he had many of those, but they were also useful for transfiguration practice when he wasn't in danger of setting off Ministry tracking magic that would lead to his (now looking very likely) expulsion. He activated the automatic shrinking feature and tucked it into the breast pocket of his pyjamas – he'd learned constant vigilance at least in the past year. This was particularly reinforced by the death of Cedric, and the nightmares of that event had only finally ended with the arrival of the bloody dementors. Finally, he went to climbed into bed with his wand under his pillow where it was in easy reach for him, would wake him if someone else tried to take it, and it wouldn't get broken if he started thrashing in his sleep from a nightmare. Cedric's death wasn't the only source of nightmares he had after all.
Hedwig flew down, landing on the cross bar of his window before hopping in properly – she could get in and out, Harru couldn't – and flying to land on his chest where she groomed his hair until Harry was asleep.
When Harry woke up, he was not in his room at number four.
Not only was he not at number four, he wasn't fifteen any more either. He was five. He could still remember being fifteen, and all the years that had lead up to that moment, but he could clearly see that he was five again. There was also a small and fluffy owl sitting on his chest looking very worried.
"Something strange happened Hedwig," Harry said, stroking her downy feathers softly – and there was no doubt in his mind for a moment that the owl-chick sitting on him was his Hedwig. He'd looked up as much as he could about snowy owls after he got her, and what their chicks looked like had been part of that. He'd been sort of hoping that Hedwig would find a partner and have chicks of her own one day soon. Now she was a chick again, and Harry bet she was as put out at the idea of having to go through growing up and the first stages of puberty as he was. "And while I don't know what, specifically, I'll bet magic was involved somehow," he added with a sigh. Everything weird could be explained as magic once he knew that it was really real, even if the magic itself could never be explained.
Hedwig, highly intelligent owl that she had been before, proved that being de-aged hadn't affected her mental faculties any more than it had Harry's when she nodded her agreement and nipped at his fingertips the way she always had before to offer comfort in a discomforting situation.
Then he heard the shouting. Voices calling frantically for 'James'.
Looking around himself, just in case this 'James' was near him and hurt or unconscious or something, Harry's eyes bugged at the sight of a boy, just his age, with a crack to his head that was bleeding steadily – though thankfully not quickly.
"Over here!" Harry yelled. "Help! He's bleeding!"
He knew the boy he'd spotted was James. He knew because everybody who knew his parents said that he looked like his father, and the other boy could have almost been a carbon copy of Harry himself. The other boy was his father, James Charlus Potter.
"James!" came the cry from the top of a ten-foot-high cliff, and Harry's head whipped up to see a slightly older man hurrying down the wrought-iron staircase that had been installed into the sheer rock.
"He's bleeding Sir," Harry said when the man reached the ground, looking back to ... his father.
The man did a double take between Harry and James before hurrying to the injured child. A few waves of his wand and the bleeding stopped, but that clearly wasn't the extent of James' injuries as pain was clearly the order of the day when the man picked him up, concern all over his face.
"Young man, will you come with me back to the house?" the man asked.
Harry nodded, standing up and cradling Hedwig to his chest. The weight of his trunk was still in his pyjama pocket, but his wand was nowhere to be seen. He'd stashed it under his pillow the night before, but the pillow – and the wand beneath it – had simply not come along on whatever kind of magical journey Harry himself had been spun through.
Things happened all in a flurry after that. A mansion was entered, James was put on his bed, a mediwitch was summoned by floo, and while James was being examined for further injury he gave a gasping, shuddering, gurgling breath before he expired. The mediwitch pronounced James Potter dead due to a broken rip piercing his heart. A woman, about the same age as the man that had carried James back to the mansion, broke down into tears. The man politely asked the mediwitch to examine Harry (though he said 'the other boy', as they hadn't been introduced yet), to make sure that he was unharmed. The dark curse and the scar on his forehead were detected and removed, along with a number of decidedly unhelpful spells upon his person which stunned the mediwitch and the man – something to do with Albus Dumbledore. Harry found himself feeling lighter than ever before, if somewhat jaded and cynical at the mention of the headmaster. His tampering just figured.
Then the questions began – or would have, except that Harry spotted the beginnings of those questions in the eye of the man before he opened his mouth.
"No answers until I have your name, if you please Sir," Harry said firmly.
The man chuckled. "Of course, you're in a strange place with people you've never met before. I am Charlus Potter, this my wife Dorea, and the mediwitch is Dorea's older sister Cassiopiea Black."
Harry nodded. He hadn't known he was actually a blood relation of Sirius', but he supposed that all the pure-blood families were related eventually.
"I'm Harry James Potter, son of James Charlus Potter and Lily Evans. I'm fifteen and I was born on the thirty-first of July in the year nineteen-eighty. Yesterday was my fifteenth birthday. I went to sleep in my bed with my owl on my chest, and woke up where you found me. I think that's all the important details," he said.
Still cradled against Harry's chest, Hedwig nipped his fingertips for his attention, then nodded at his chest when she had it, causing Harry to smile. She agreed with him, but reminded him of the trunk in his breast pocket that would be able to take the place of supporting evidence.
Before the day was out, Harry had been magically adopted by his grandparents and renamed James Charlus Harry, since the real James had just died and, technically, Harry hadn't been born yet. The magical adoption also replaced Lily's genetic traits with those of Dorea, and blended them properly with those of Charlus. If Harry had been any more different from his father, it could have been a painful ritual. As it was, only his eye colour changed – from Lily's vibrant green to the clear hazel of both Charlus and Dorea.
Answering to 'James' instead of 'Harry' took a bit of getting used to, but he got into the habit of it well before his Hogwarts letter came. Being the only child of two doting parents had also given Harry a new perspective on life, and having lots of friendly house elves to play with, even if somewhat lacking in children his own age for companionship, finally allowed Harry to bloom some.
Also, wizarding childhood was really quite different from a muggle one. Harry was glad he'd been able to experience both. It really was most enlightening, and certainly explained why so many wizards just didn't understand muggles.
"Aunt Dorea, what a surprise," announced a voice from the door of the robe shop. The tone suggested that the surprise was not an entirely pleasant one.
"Walburga," Dorea returned with a nod. "And who is this fine young man with you?"
"My eldest, Sirius Orion Black. He begins Hogwarts this year," the woman, Walburga, answered.
James had to restrain himself from visibly reacting. He'd known that his father and Sirius were in the same year at Hogwarts together. He just hadn't expected meeting him yet. Somehow, he'd thought they'd meet on the train like he had Ron, or perhaps not until they were sorted and sitting together in the great hall.
"Really? What a coincidence, so is my James," Dorea answered.
James waited patiently and silently as Sirius stepped up on the fitting podium next to him.
"Hi," Sirius said, even as he stretched his arms out automatically for one of the shop girls to start the fitting.
It was a motion James had become familiar with performing himself.
"Hey," James answered with a smile. "So my mum is your mum's aunt, and we're the same age."
Sirius grinned in answer. "Your mum slow off the mark or mine too eager?" he suggested in a whisper, not wanting to catch the attention of said mothers.
"Maybe both," James allowed. "Want to be friends?"
Sirius sighed, despondently. "Mother is something of a control freak, and inclined to disapprove of anything I want to do."
James frowned. "Well too bad for her," he said vehemently, though still quietly. "It's your life, not hers. Mum always says that I should be able to make my own life choices so that I can learn from my mistakes. Says the lessons will stick better than listening to old stories about when she and Dad were young. Besides, how can she monitor you when you're at Hogwarts?"
Sirius smiled a little at that. "Sounds like you have great parents," he said, more than a bit wistful. "Yeah, I'd like to be friends."
James and Sirius smiled at each other then, and Harry knew that the first step towards the formation of the Marauders had been taken.
There were seven boys sorted into Gryffindor that year, and the dorms weren't quite up to sticking them all into one room. Five was really the limit, but giving two boys a room all on their own was just about asking for trouble, so they got divided up into one room of four, and the other of three. The house elves had arranged the rooms according to which of the boys had talked to each other more during the welcoming feast – in a positive way.
To Harry's relief, this meant that he, Sirius, and Remus – who he had decided to talk to straight away, since he seemed rather nervous, and who Sirius proceeded to get along with smashingly – were in one room, and the other four boys were in the other. No Peter. There would be no Wormtail in the Marauders this time around, Harry was determined.
There was another reason Remus was in the room with less bunk-mates too of course. It meant he'd have to explain his regular absences to less people. For his part, Harry intended to stay quiet about Remus' lycanthropy until Sirius figured it out for himself, but was definitely going to start figuring out how to become an animagus now. It would only help after all. Figuring out how they'd make the Marauder's Map was going to be harder, but definitely fun.