Just In Time
Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter!
Author's Note: Enjoy the story! I've been dying to write this one for a while:) And if you've ever read 'James Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' by PeachyKeen13, then you'll notice that some of her ideas have been incorporated in this story. Before you tell me that I copied her, let me state that I got her permission to use them before even starting to write:) So without further ado, enjoy the story!
Chapter One: Grim Old Place
The echoes of Orion Black's hard wooden shoes can still be heard down each hallway of Number 12 Grimmauld Place if you care to listen. The screeches of Wallburga Black did not die with her. The legacy of the family that once lived in the current Headquarters for the Order of the Phoenix did not die with the family - for the whole family is not yet deceased. The woman and her husband - despite what they stated in their will - did not only have one son. The will of Wallburga Black stated that her only son was Regulus - a fine young man, who was murdered brutally before his time. The will of Orion Black stated that he never had any other son other than Regulus Arcturus Black. When asked about another son called 'Sirius', Orion's face would turn an odd shade of purple before he yelled at you never to say that name in his house. So it goes without saying that the Black family did not recognize one of their own by the name of Sirius.
But after the parents and brother were dead, Sirius inherited the home that he hated - the home of the family who never loved him, the home of the family who never appriciated him, and the home of the family who would have rather pretended he didn't exist. Sirius had never made a secret of his hatred towards his family. His best friend, James Potter, could have recited Sirius's rant about his mother right along with him every time he said it. Sirius told James everything - there wasn't a single secret between the two. But sometimes, Sirius felt out of place when he talked to James about his home life. James didn't understand what it had been like, growing up in the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black. James had grown up the only child of two Pure Bloods who spoiled him rotten and loved him dearly. James always got whatever he wanted, no questions asked. But despite all of that, Sirius trusted no one more than he trusted James, and the feeling was entirely mutual.
So of course, when James was killed well before his time, Sirius lost what was left of his mind and heart. He had grown to think of James (and his two other friends, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew) as his makeshift family. He had already lost his blood family - would he be doomed to lose all that was left?
He was indeed. James was killed by the man whom his parents whole-heartedly supported. James was killed by the friend that Sirius thought he could trust - Peter. But when it happened, Sirius could think of no one to blame but himself. Had it not been him who had suggested trusting Peter in the first place? The moment the name 'Peter' entered his mind, Sirius knew that he had no choice. He had to kill the thing that had taken away his family once again. In a fit of grief and despair, Sirius Black had hunted down his old friend, with the intent of killing him. But Peter Pettigrew - commonly referred to as 'Wormtail' - was cunning, and framed Sirius. Sirius spent twelve long years in Azkaban Prison after being accused of murdering James, Peter, and countless others, witout a trial. Sirius did, however, break out of prison to right the wrongs which had been done to him and reunite with his godson, Harry Potter, who was James's son. While Sirius could not dispose of Pettigrew the way he wished he could have, he did get to have Harry in his life, and he believed that it was all worth it.
When Albus Dumbledore asked Sirius if he knew of a place where the Headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix - a society dedicated to the murder of the man who had killed James and his wife, Lily, leaving Harry an orphan - could be set up, Sirius knew what he had to do. Since Dumbledore would let him do no other job to help the Order (since he was still a wanted man for breaking out of prison) Sirius gave Dumbledore full use of his parents' home - Number 12 Grimmauld Place. Unfortunately for Sirius, this meant moving right back into the home that he had left without looking back on when he was just sixteen years old. Sirius lived in this house alone most of the time, its only other permanent occupants being the ghosts of Sirius's past and a crotchety old house elf called Kreacher. But the Order of the Phoenix was at Grimmauld Place all the time, and so Sirius did not feel alone as often as he thought he would have.
Number 12's other most frequent occupant was Remus John Lupin, mutual friend of James and Sirius. One of their best friends, in fact. After James's death, Sirius had no choice but to refer to Remus as his best friend. Remus was good company, most of the time, and he kept Sirius from losing his grip on reality and going mental. Sirius had begun to heal from his time in Azkaban, but part of him was still a scared little boy who missed his best friend very much. He had never been given true time to grieve for the friend that he lost, and so Sirius tried not to think about it if he could help it. But Harry - who Sirius did not see as much as he would have liked to - looked exactly like James, and so it was hard not to focus on his old best friend when he practically came waltzing through the door every time his son walked in the room. Sirius tried never to show anyone how much seeing Harry hurt Sirius, because seeing Harry was the only thing that truly made Sirius happy as well. Sirius Black was a complicated man.
It had been just another day for Sirius Black on the morning our story begins. The month before, Sirius had had the pleasure (or, perhaps, displeasure) of welcoming Harry Potter to Number 12 Grimmauld Place for the first time. Harry had to prepare for a hearing at the Ministry of Magic for a case of underage wizardry, and Sirius was trying to support his godson any way he could. Harry had been having a hard time of things, as of late, and Sirius was beginning to feel useless to help his best friend's son. Sirius wasn't ever really the paternal type, and he helped Harry the only way he knew how: James. James had often been a giver of good advice, and Sirius had tried his hardest to never forget a single word James had ever said to him. So when Harry came to Sirius with a problem, Sirius would pull one of James's old quotes from the recesses of his mind, and he would offer Harry the best advice that he could.
Harry had gone to bed that night, and Sirius had gone into his room to check on him around three o'clock in the morning. Things had seemed particularly normal, too normal, perhaps, and so Sirius had gone to bed not worrying any more than he had the night before. But what he didn't know was that very soon, his life was about to take a surprising twist, and he would never be the same man again.
But this is not a story about Sirius Black. This is a story about James Potter.
It was 1976, and life for James Potter had never been better. The adult world of marraige, children, and the first Wizarding War seemed a lifetime away for sixteen year old James and his friends. Death was something that would come for them when they were old and grey, and life was all about having a good time. James's favorite activities included playing Chaser for Gryffindor House's best Quidditch team in three decades, pulling pranks on unsuspecting Slytherins, and asking out the elusive and gorgeous Lily Evans. James didn't have a care in the world, and he liked it that way. There was nothing that he should have to worry about - the war had yet to affect the boy directly, and so it did not even seem real to him. But that was all about to change.
It was several weeks before James's sixth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Himself and his fellow 'Marauders' (Sirius, Remus, and Peter) had been staying at James's house for the summer, and they had been having a grand time. The exceptionally warm air had been ideal for practicing their Animagi transformations, and the boys had been putting a lot of work and effort into perfecting their full-proof map of their mysterious and magical school. They had been drinking Butterbeer and playing Exploding Snaps in James's lounge on the evening of July 1. The boys had just finished putting their evening's fun away, and Remus and Peter had gone to bed, when Sirius and James finally made their way up to James's room, which was the room that they shared.
They each prepared for bed quietly, as they were quite tired and didn't feel much like talking. However, once the lights had been shut off and they were warm in their beds, Sirius decided to strike up a conversation.
"James?" whispered Sirius quietly. "Prongs, you awake?"
"Am now," grumbled James, turning over on his side so that he was facing Sirius. "What is it?"
"I feel like something's about to happen," murmured Sirius quietly, and James was sure that his friend was blushing in embarrasment of revealing his emotions so nakedly. "Something...bad."
"What do you mean?" asked James, trying to keep the tiredness out of his voice. Then he chuckled, and said, "What, are you a Seer now? Going to teach Divination when you're older?"
"Shove off," laughed Sirius. "I'm trying to be serious. I feel like something's about to...change."
"Change is always happening around us, young one." chortled James, attempting a weak imitation of Albus Dumbledore. "It cannot be stopped or influenced."
"You know, the scary thing is," laughed Sirius. "that that's probably something he'd say."
James rolled his eyes, and turned his body back so that he was once again facing his wall. "G'night, then Sirius. Don't let the gnargles bite."
"What the bloody hell's a gnargle?" groaned Sirius, as he, too got comfortable in his bed.
"No idea," yawned James. "Somethin' I overheard Xenoph-"
"If you're even going to end that statement with 'ilius Lovegood', don't bother. I understand completely. Goodnight Prongs." laughed Sirius.
And the two best friends fell asleep moments later, each with dreams and hopes and futures dancing around in their minds. But something different was happening to James's mind. When Sirius woke up the next morning, he would not be greeted with a cheery 'Good Mornin'!' from James. He'd be greeted with an exceptionally confused and slightly worried Harry Potter. And James would be waking up to the sound of a practice Apparation of Fred and George Weasley.
The crack of an Apparation woke James Potter up from perhaps the best dream he'd ever had. He had been on the moon, with his Lily, conjuring his Patronus to dance around with her. She had laughed, and looked into his eyes with a look of pure love and joy. And right before they had finally kissed -
Crack! The sound of two Apparations caused James to shoot upright in bed, gasping. He heard the sound of laughs, but the people who were making them were hard to see in the dark, and it didn't help that James's round, wire-rimmed glasses were not on his face. James groped his bedside table for them, and slapped them on his face quickly. At first, James thought he was still dreaming. He definitely was no longer in his bedroom at the Potter House. The bed he had been sleeping in was cold, and smelled musty. The only other occupied bed in the room was occupied by a red-headed boy, definitely not Sirius. The room itself was rather depressing - cold and damp and with a general sad atmosphere. The two people who had Apparated next to James - who he was quite certain he had never met before - were twins. They had red hair, and mischeivious grins, kind of reminding James of himself and Sirius. And all of this was fine - but it didn't make sense. How did James get to this place? Who were these people?
"Ah, Harry!" beagan one of the twins.
"Didn't scare you, did we?"
"Thought you were used to it by now-"
"-us coming in here every night, anyways-"
"-even Ronniekins doesn't wake up anymore!"
"And you've been dorming with him-"
"-you know the way he is!"
"I-I'm sorry?" stumbled James, trying to wrap his mind around the situation. "But did you just call me 'Harry'?"
"Well, we weren't calling you 'Ron'." replied one of the twins, laughing. "Of course we called you 'Harry'! That is your name, isn't it?"
"Er...no?" said James uncomfortably.
"No?" gasped the other twin. "Is the famous Harry Potter claiming that he's forgotten who he is?"
(Just a random thought - would this not have been the perfect moment for the twins to break out into 'You're Harry Freaking Potter' from the Very Potter Sequel? Just saying;) )
"Famous Har - what?" asked James, obviously confused. "Is Sirius playing some kind of joke on me? Or is this all a dream? Who are you? And where are we?"
"We're at Headquarters, silly." said the first twin who had spoken, rolling his eyes. "And I'm Fred. Remember me?"
"And I'm George." said George cheekily. "I don't think Sirius is playing a joke on you - he's been a sleep for about an hour, anyway."
"Did we answer all his questions, Georige?"
"I do believe so, Freddie."
"Headquarters?" asked James, finally giving up and getting out of the bed. The rickety old wooden floor hurt James's bare feet, but he ignored it for the sake of finding out what in Merlin's name was going on. "Headquarters for what?"
"The Order, of course!" laughed Fred. "Seriously, Harry, did you somehow damage your brain during the night? How do you not remember this?"
"Maybe we should take him to Mum," said George thoughtfully.
"And scare her out of her wits? Nah, better off with Dad."
"He isn't here - the Ministry called him in early, remember?"
"We could take him to Sirius."
"Sirius it is!"
"Someone, please just explain to me what's going on!" shouted James finally, giving up on the niceness and becoming angry. "I want to know where I am, who I'm with, and why I'm not at home with my friends!"
"Quiet!" shushed Fred and George at the same time. "You'll wake the whole house!"
"I don't care!" screeched James. "Let them wake! Maybe they'll tell me how I got here!"
"Keep your knickers on!" hissed Fred. "We'll go get Sirius and bring him back in a minute, okay?"
"Yeah," nodded George. "Just stay here, and...we'll be back."
Before James could oppose, the red-headed twins Apparated from the bedroom, leaving James alone with the other sleeping boy. James was amazed that he had not woken up - he must have been a lot like Sirius. Hard to wake, that is. James wondered if this really all was a joke played on him by Sirius, Remus, and Peter. If it was, they must have spent months planning it - they knew how hard it was to full James. The more James thought about it, the more he became positive that all of this must be a joke. Yeah! Of course!
"Haha!" shouted James. "Alright, very funny boys - I'll admit it, you got me! Now turn everything back before I go stag-power on you!"
"Are you threatening dementors, Harry?"
James jumped, and turned around. Where Fred and George had been just a few minutes earlier, there now stood a man. James couldn't make out his features well in the dark, but James could tell that he was tall, he was still in his night-clothes, and he loved his hair. Since James had not heard an Apparation, he assumed the man must have been semi-normal enough to just walk through the door.
"Who are you? I thought the twins said they were going to get Sirius Black," said James accusingly, glaring at the man who had entered.
The man rolled his grey eyes. "So sorry, but they sent this old lump instead."
"I think I'd prefer Sirius, if you don't mind. I need to give him a good kick in the-"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, what did he do?" the man asked defensively, automatically cringing away from James.
"He must be afraid," laughed James, standing up to meet this new stranger. "The scared little kid plays a joke on me, and now he's afraid that I'm going to kill him. Would you please tell him that if he comes quietly now, I'll keep his punishment minimal? It's far too late for Peter and Remus. They're dead meat."
"What?" asked the man, laughing nervously. "What are you talking about, Harry? Are you feeling alright?"
"And I do wish everyone would stop calling me Harry," said James, after a moment of thought. "Bit annoying, really. If you have issues with my actual name, you can just call me 'Prongs'. All my friends do."
"Your friends call you 'Prongs'?" asked the man, confused. "And what do you mean your name's not Harry? Of course it is! You're Harry Potter- y'know, the Boy Who Lived, the best Quidditch player in a century, my godson-"
"I'm sorry," mumbled James. "But if - for some creepy reason - this isn't a dream or a joke, then you must have me confused with someone else. I have no idea what a 'Boy-Who-Lived' is, I'm a fair Quidditch player, but I'm sure there are better than me, and my godfather is Richard Potter, and I'm quite sure you're not him, seeing as he's been dead for three years."
"Maybe we should call in Poppy," said the man suddenly. "Maybe there's-there's something wrong-"
"There's definitely something wrong," grumbled James. "But nothing wrong with me. More like everyone else, really."
The man finally seemed to give up, and so he grabbed James by the hand and pulled him from the dark, depressing bedroom. James barely had time to take in all of his surroundings, the rate the man pulling him was running. But James did see a lot of old, scary looking portraits, old antique artifacts, and many, many rooms. The house he was in was enormous, and if he didn't know any better, he would have claimed that it was Sirius's old house. It looked just as he had described to him. "Dark...evil, pulsing from the walls...gloomy...lots of old wizarding artifacts..." Sirius had said. James - after five minutes of running - suddenly found himself in what had to be the dining room. The table in the middle of the room was enormous, and the man who James had been running with forced James into a seat.
"Stay," he commanded. "And I'll be back in two minutes."
"Yes, Mum." replied James cheekily. The man rolled his eyes again, and jogged out of the room.
"Moony," whispered Sirius Black. He had just jogged from the dining room where he had left behind a very confused Harry, and now he was in the dark room of his best friend, Remus. He had his father's long old can in his hands, and was prodding Remus with it from three feet away. "Remus!"
"Wha'?" mumbled Remus, turning over in his bed. Sirius prodded him with the stick again, and Remus said a bit more clearly, "Wha' is it, Seeerus?"
"There's a small issue with Harry," whispered Sirius, trying to keep the urgency out of his voice. "And I don't know what to do."
This seemed to wake Remus up further, and he sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes. He looked warily to his friend, and asked, "What is it?"
"He can't seem to remember...much." said Sirius uncertainly.
"What do you mean 'much'?" questioned Remus, finally giving up and getting out of bed completely. He stood up to face Sirius, and watched as Sirius gave him a rather rushed answer.
"He knows our names - I heard him say 'Sirius' and 'Remus' and he even mentioned Peter. But he didn't recognize me, or where he was, or the twins, and he kept saying that he wasn't Harry Potter."
"Well did you tell him that he is?" asked Remus carefully, more like he was speaking to a two-year-old than a thirty-five year old.
"Of course I did!" whispered Sirius. "But did he listen? No! Come on Remmy, please help me!"
Remus sighed. He knew already that it was about to be a very long night. "Fine. But do not call me Remmy again. Ever."
"Deal." grinned Sirius. "Come on, I've left him in the dining room."
"Ah, and the old man returns!" grinned James, observing as the man came back into the room with another older man. "But I see you've yet to bring me Sirius Black."
"Harry," said the man's friend, coming up to sit next to James. "The man next to me is Sirius Black. And I'm Remus Lupin. Remember? I was your Defense Professor two years ago? And you're staying at Grimmauld Place with the Order of the Phoenix."
"You're Remus Lupin?" laughed James. "And he's Sirius Black? That's impossible! You've both got to be fifty or something - Sirius and Remus are only sixteen. And Grim Old Place? Please! Even if this is all a joke, Sirius wouldn't bring us here! He hates this place!"
"Why are you acting so strange, Harry?" pleaded 'Remus', staring into James's eyes. It was only then that he noticed they were hazel...
"My God," gasped 'Remus', moving away from James as quickly as humanly possible. "My God..."
"What?" asked 'Sirius', not liking being kept out of Remus's discovery. "What is it?"
"Finally come to your senses, did you?" asked James skeptically, raising an eyebrow. "I told you - I'm not Harry."
"My God," gasped Remus again. "James..."
"Potter. Harry Potter. I'm not James, Sirius!"
Harry Potter had had a number of odd and dangerous experiences in his life. When he was just a baby, he destroyed the powers of the Darkest wizard of the age, Lord Voldemort. He grew up unloved by his Muggle relatives, and found out when he was eleven that he was a wizard. He went to a magical school called Hogwarts, and played a magical sport called Quidditch. He faced and destroyed Lord Voldemort three more times while at school, and bore witness to his rebirth. He had fallen hundreds of feet from a broomstick, had all the bones in his arm re-grown, 'popped' into places through thin air, and battled a dragon. Still, Harry Potter had never been more shocked then when he woke up the morning when this story begins.
When he had gone to sleep the night before, it had been in the cold and musty bed in his room at Number 12 Grimmauld Place. He'd eaten dinner with Sirius, Remus, Ron, Hermion, Fred, and George, and he'd played three rounds of Exploding Snaps. It had been a relatively normal evening for the young wizard, but now it was anything but normal. When he woke up, he was in a soft, warm bed in a light, open, warm house. He'd been awoken by force, having a soft down pillow thrown at his head by a young and carefree Sirius Black. To say that Harry was surprised to see his godfather looking so happy and handsome was an understatement. At first he was sure that the changes around him were nothing but a joke, but now, he wasn't so sure. Sirius refused to believe that he was Harry - he was adament that the boy in front of him was his best friend and Harry's father, James.
"Okay, 'Harry', whatever you say." laughed Sirius, throwing a shirt at Harry. "Go on, get dressed. Since your mummy dearest is out for the day, Remus is making breakfast. I know he has Pete to help, but frankly, I think I'd feel much better if we were there to assist him."
It wasn't until Sirius said Peter Pettigrew's name with such a carefree and friendly tone that Harry realized something was incredibly wrong. Even if Sirius was good at playing jokes, he would never say Wormtail's name without spitting afterward. But here Sirius was, discussing Peter as if he was still a Marauder - as if he was still a faithful friend. And Harry couldn't sit there and listen to that.
"Sirius, stop that!" shouted Harry, throwing the shirt Sirius had thrown him on the ground. "How can you even say Wormtail's name without flinching? It's his fault that mum and dad are dead!"
"W-What?" asked Sirius, who was still nervously smiling. However, the tone his voice had gone from joking to worry, and he stared at Harry concernedly for a moment. He stared into his eyes, and only then did he notice that they were just like, "L-Lily's eyes..."
"Can you please tell me what's going on here, Sirius?" begged, Harry, staring at his godfather. He looked into Sirius's eyes, and noticed that they lacked the haunted look that Harry was so used to seeing in them. It didn't matter if this was a joke or not - Sirius's eyes were untainted by Azkaban, and Harry knew that he was no longer someplace he was familiar with. "When am I?"
"What do you mean by that?" asked Sirius inquisitively. "M-Maybe I should go and get Re-"
"Sirius. What's the year?" asked Harry, trying to keep the worry out of his voice.
"N-1976, of course."
I'm trying to keep the chapters as long as JK's in the actual books:) In PoA, I saw that the chapters were about 5,000 words, so that'll be the median for these:) I hope you liked this chapter and I hope the characters were, well, in character! Reviews give me inspiration to keep writing, so please review! They honestly and truly make my day to read when someone likes what I have written:) So...that's it! Review please, and I'll try to get the next chapter out soon! Thanks again and...okay! Buh-bye!