Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter...
Just something I've been working on for fun. I'll probably post other smaller fics like these when I have time to put one together. This one will be about two chapters long, three at the most.
It can be read alone and doesn't really impact the main storyline at all.
Chapters in my other fics are being worked on; just need to get my midterms over with before I start on those again. This one has a small enough plot so I can work on it between studying.
Summary: Part of the Wanderer!verse. Prequel to Wanderer. The fifteenth jump lands him in a place so much like the home he has always wanted that he just can't stay away, even though he knows it'll hurt all the more in the end.
Chapter 1 – Getting to Know You
It was the sixth time he had come to the small diner in the past three months but he hadn't been able to resist when he had caught sight of a woman with burnished auburn hair and familiar green eyes.
The latest jump had landed him in a different Britain, where everything was the same, but not. For one, there was no magic. This had come as both a surprise and a disappointment to him after he realized he could not Apparate into Diagon Alley and that there was no Leaky Cauldron.
So, feeling a little lost in a world so like his own and not knowing when he would be taken away again, he had wandered around Muggle London, – or just London now, he supposed– knowing he probably wouldn't land so conveniently next time.
It was during his stroll down an unremarkable-looking street a few hours later that he heard the sound of laughter, and, curious, he continued in the same direction until a school came into sight. Children were running around a jungle gym, bundled up in winter clothes and playing tag, but it was the woman watching them that stopped him in his tracks.
Lily Potter – for she was visibly, though not completely noticeably, pregnant and a part of him desperately hoped that the father would be the same – was a primary school teacher. He had stuck around all day, standing under a tree right outside her classroom so he could watch her teach. He had weaved several disillusionment charms around himself of course; being accused of stalking his own mother, albeit from a different timeline, wasn't particularly high on his list of priorities.
This turned out to be a very good thing because Lily really did happen to be a Potter and James himself came driving up in a police car of all things to pick her up.
He had followed them home as a falcon – and yes, he knew that was creepy but he had never seen his family interact before and he wasn't about to turn down the presented opportunity – and had instantly loved the simple two-story house with the elegant garden, the wide backyard blanketed with snow, and the black Audi in the driveway that James pulled up at. Yet he had only meant to catch a glimpse of their house, perhaps stick around for a few minutes more to see them inside, but that plan had been shot to hell when he had caught sight of Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and the unmistakable rat-like face of Peter Pettigrew waiting on the front lawn.
It had taken everything he had to suppress the instant furious urge to change back and obliterate the traitor-lookalike six ways to Sunday, but he had remembered in time that this was not his time's Pettigrew and trying to kill the man would most likely just get him arrested and thrown in prison.
So he had concentrated on the other two instead, ignoring the sharp painful stab of guilt that still surfaced whenever he thought of Sirius, and focused on the warm ache in his chest as his godfather released a bark of laughter at something James had said, Remus chiming in with an obvious quip that had all of them laughing.
That had been twelve weeks ago, and he still hadn't been able to tear himself away from this family. So, with stalker-like tendencies that he couldn't bring himself to care about, he had managed to find out where his not-quite-family mostly ate at. As much as he wanted to introduce himself or even simply say hello, he drew the line at staking out their house and had decided to 'coincidentally' eat at the diner whenever they did. He had missed a handful of dinners there though, not wanting them to get suspicious, but those evenings had been spent in his hotel room, restless and bored and nursing a scotch with moody thoughts as his mind inevitably drifted back to the last world he had been on, a different dimension where he had become something of a doctor as a war had raged on around him. There had been so many deaths, so many people he couldn't save, and it had almost been a relief when the device took him away.
But here and now, in the dim warm glow of the small diner, he made sure not to look around as the door was pulled open and the diner's owner called out a familiar greeting. As always, they were led to their usual seats, and, from his place at the counter in the far corner of the diner, he would be able to see them if he turned his head on occasion.
The kind voice he had become familiar with made him start and almost slip off the stool he was sitting on, instinctively shying away from the woman currently standing a few feet away from him. At the table behind her, only Pettigrew had taken a seat. His father, godfather, and surrogate godfather were all watching him with varying degrees of interest.
"Sorry," His attention returned to Lily as she smiled apologetically up at him. "It's just that you're a new face around here and you always look a bit lonely eating all by yourself in the corner. Would you like to join us for dinner?"
His mind had completely blanked and he wasn't sure what to say. He stared at her until the silence became awkward before forcing out, "I'm fine here. Don't let me disturb your dinner."
"Nonsense!" This came from Sirius, a cheerful grin on his handsome face as he strode forward. "Come on, don't be shy. You're eating with us tonight."
He instantly tensed when Sirius swung an arm around his shoulders, dragging him off the stool and to their table, but he tried to relax as his godfather introduced themselves.
"The beautiful lady is Lily," Sirius gestured at the redhead with his free hand. "I'm Sirius, that's Remus, Peter, and the ugly bloke with the bad hair is Howard."
James rolled his eyes but levelled a good-natured grin at him. "Ignore him; he introduces me with a different name every time. I'm James, Lil's husband."
It was a long moment later before he managed to form an answer, still a little dazed at the sudden turn of events. "…Harry. I'm Harry."
Harry barely noticed what he ate that night, trying not to stare at the group of people around him instead. He learned that James worked in the police department, as did Sirius and Pettigrew, while Remus was a professor at Regent's College. There was something about Pettigrew that bothered Harry, but he put it out of his mind, not wanting to ruin the evening by comparing this Peter to the one in his time.
Lily, of course, was confirmed as a primary schoolteacher, but was due for maternity leave in a few months.
"Boy or girl?" Harry asked, wondering if the child would have James' hair but Lily's eyes. He hadn't bothered changing his own appearance, but his hair had gotten longer and was now tied back in a ponytail. He had also discarded his glasses long ago, correcting his eyesight with a potion, so the similarities wouldn't make people who knew James do a double-take when they saw Harry.
"We don't know yet," James glanced affectionately at his wife. "And even when the doctors can tell, we figured we'd leave it as a surprise. Haven't even picked out a name yet-"
"Not for lack of trying!" Sirius protested. "I've given you plenty of names-"
"'Princess' is not a name," Remus cut in, rolling his eyes. Harry almost choked on the water he had just taken a sip of. "Neither is 'Callisto' or 'Cassiopeia' or 'Andromeda'-"
"Andromeda's my cousin's name!" Sirius sulked. "It's a very good name."
"Not if you don't want the poor kid laughed at at school," Remus said firmly.
"I don't know what's wrong with 'James Jr.'," James said with a meaningful look at Lily.
"Yeah, he could be James Potter II," Pettigrew agreed.
Lily glared at both of them. "I refuse to believe that I would have so little imagination to name my own child his father's name! The baby will have your name as a middle name if it's a boy and mine if it's a girl." The warning on her face clearly told them not to argue, and both of them wisely fell silent.
Smiling sweetly, Lily turned back to Harry with a curious expression on her face. "So Harry, are you just on vacation or have you moved into Westminster?"
Harry shifted a little as everyone turned expectant gazes on him. "Vacation, I suppose. I've been travelling around for a while, not really working yet. London seemed like a good place to stop."
"Just out of school then?" Remus enquired, smile the same patient gentle one Harry was used to. This Remus was rather different in that he looked a lot less tired and seemed generally more open if still quiet, but that wasn't very surprising since he wasn't a werewolf here.
"Yes," Harry quickly thought back to all the knowledge he had gained in the past two hundred years and chose the latest skill. "Graduated from medical school."
"At such a young age!" Remus looked impressed, and Harry had to hide an ironic smile. "I'm a History professor but I've gone through a few medical texts in my free time."
"Remus, you've gone through texts from every subject in your free time," Sirius corrected fondly before shaking his head at Harry. "Now that we've got another geek around, Remus won't have to lecture us to sleep every day."
"Sirius, be nice," Lily scolded as Remus looked faintly embarrassed.
Harry just grinned a little, used to his godfather's antics by now to take it in stride. "I've never been to Regent's College before," He offered instead, turning a genuinely interested gaze on his former professor. "I don't suppose it would be against the rules if I take a look around one day?"
Remus brightened and they both ignored Sirius when he released a groan of mock-horror. "That's no problem. If you have time, you could even check out one of my classes. God knows half the students don't pay attention with all the sunlight outside."
Britain had had unexpectedly good weather for April, and Harry knew what it was like to be stuck inside when the sky was nothing but a robin's egg blue.
"Sure," He nodded. He didn't care what subject it was; Remus could make a Potions class fun. "Maybe Monday?"
Remus beamed. "We're starting on the French Revolution on Monday. Just come up to the school at around ten and ask for my class."
"I will," Harry promised, idly wondering how the Muggle world taught the French Revolution. He had been there after all, several jumps back. It hadn't exactly been a blast, if he didn't count the cannon fire.
The rest of the evening was spent making casual conversation. Harry mostly just listened, content with hearing about his pseudo-family's lives.
All too soon though, the dinner was over and the group of six gathered outside the diner, shrugging on coats as they stepped into the night.
"Well, here's where we part," Lily smiled warmly up at Harry. "We really have to eat together again. It was fun."
"Agreed," James nodded. "Not many people can put up with Sirius' madness."
"We'll probably come here again on Wednesday," Lily continued, ignoring the interruption. "See you then?"
Harry hesitated. He could walk away now, tell them he wouldn't be able to make it, and after Remus' lecture on Monday, he wouldn't have to get any closer to these people than he already had. A dinner with them had been more than he had ever hoped for, but staring at their open expressions, not a single hint of disagreement on their faces, Harry couldn't bring himself to decline.
"Sure," He found himself saying. "Next Wednesday."
"So what did you think of the lesson?" Remus asked nervously as they strode across the campus for some lunch. He had no idea why Harry's opinion mattered so much, but ever since he – all of them really – had noticed the black-haired then-stranger in the diner, they had all wanted to get acquainted with him.
Well, not Peter so much, he amended. Peter had never been one to talk to new people after all. But the rest of them had noticed Harry the first time he had stepped into the diner. There was simply something distinctly recognizable about him, but Remus had eventually put it down to the fact that Harry had the same messy, albeit longer and slightly neater hair that James had. Nevertheless, once they realized Harry had become something of a regular at the diner but always ate alone, half-hidden in the shadows in the corner, Lily had finally suggested inviting him to their table for dinner. All of them had readily agreed, not really understanding why but knowing it to be a good idea.
Remus had been surprised at the ease with which Harry had accepted Sirius and, at times, James' personality. Their jokes and enthusiasm often alarmed new people but Harry had sat through it all with a smile that bordered on wistful, sometimes joining in the banter but, more often than not, remaining quiet and observing them all with tired eyes. Not tired of them, Remus was sure, because Sirius' dramatics always succeeded in producing a smile and an occasional laugh from Harry, but just tired in general, as if he was just too weary to care much about- well, living.
And that had been the worst thing of all, because Remus had no idea how someone so young could look so old at the same time, and the instinctive spark of protectiveness that had first ignited when he had clapped eyes on Harry had flared in alarm. So, when Harry had expressed an interest in the college he taught in, Remus had immediately offered to let him sit in on his lectures, finding himself inexplicably pleased when genuine interest had brightened Harry's eyes. He was relatively young for a teacher – only twenty-three – and some of his students were older than he was, but he thought he was rather good at his job and he wanted to know what Harry thought of his teaching style.
Harry only offered a soft smile, reaching up to tuck a stray strand of hair behind his left ear. It was such a familiar gesture that Remus almost opened his mouth to ask, but he didn't know what question to pose or even why it was so familiar.
"It was very interesting," Harry was saying. "I wanted to join in that discussion you started with the students, and you have a knack for getting even the shyer ones to participate. You make a great professor, Remus."
Remus flushed a little with pride. "Thanks. I've only been teaching for about a year; definitely the youngest in the school."
"Well, your teaching says otherwise," Harry said firmly. "I passed by a few classrooms on my way to yours. Those professors were already putting people to sleep and class had barely started."
Remus chuckled at the indignant callous words. He could sympathize; he himself had sat through lectures boring enough to contemplate suicide.
As they made their way to a small shop that sold excellent sandwiches, he let his curiosity get the better of him and remarked, "I saw you helping a few of the students get their projects started; did you take history courses when you went to school?"
An odd smile Remus couldn't quite understand made its way onto Harry's face as he replied, "I did, but I mostly slept in that class. Trust me, you would've been sleeping too. No, I learned most of my history while I was travelling. You tend to pick up their culture when you stay in an area for an extended period of time."
"So you've been to France?" Remus tried not to sound too envious. "I've only been there once with James and Sirius during a Christmas break but that was only for a week and we only stayed in Paris. Got to go to Versailles, at least, but Idiots One and Two set off the alarm in the Palace and we spent the next six hours in a holding cell that day."
Harry released a rare laugh, craning his head to focus on Remus even more. "What happened?"
"They rigged one of the chandeliers so that every time someone walked under it, it would trip the device they hid in it to start screaming. Scared the pants off of several tourists," Remus chortled at the memory though he had been furious at the time. He really had been looking forward to sightseeing there. "Unfortunately, they were caught and somehow gave the police the impression that I was involved too. Needless to say, we were banned from going back."
"Well, at least you got see what the inside of a holding cell looks like in France," Harry grinned.
"Yes, it was remarkably like the ones in England," Remus agreed dryly but he couldn't help the matching grin that spread across his own face. "Still, Paris was quite nice so I only put itching powder in their shirts instead of their boxers."
Harry laughed again, and for a second, Remus could swear it was James standing in front of him. But the moment passed, the fleeting thought leaving as fast as it had come, and he joined in the laughter as he described his best friends' reactions when they had pulled on their shirts that morning.
"When you go again, try Marseille or Rouen," Harry suggested as they managed to get their laughter under control. "The countryside is real nice too."
"Where else have you been?" Remus asked eagerly as they finished buying their food and sat down at one of the small tables.
"Hmm," Harry frowned thoughtfully as he bit into his sandwich. "Russia. Strict country, takes forever to get past the border, but there are a lot of historical sites. There's the Kremlin – always a must-see if you survive the border-crossing – and then there's the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg and the Red Square in Moscow," He paused before making a face. "Never liked that place, actually. Too red, especially in broad daylight, but it's a huge tourist attraction."
He paused to take another bite, and Remus hastily did the same when he realized he had forgotten about his lunch as he listened to Harry describe his travels.
"I've been to Australia," Harry continued. "Learned how to surf-"
"You know how to surf?" Remus interrupted. "Well, Sirius is going to be jealous. He's always wanted to learn, but, well, Britain, you know?"
Harry nodded sagely before launching into the sights he had seen in Australia and the difficulty he had had with surfing.
"I never really learned to swim, you see," Harry explained. "I mean I get the gist of it – kick and paddle simultaneously and all that – but the first time I actually swam was when I was fourteen and I had help back then."
"So you skipped learning how to swim and went straight to surfing in the ocean?" Remus looked mildly horrified.
Harry shrugged freely, taking a sip of water. "Hey, I survived, plus I managed to learn how to surf and swim at the same time. Besides, I learn best when I'm under pressure."
"Under pressure of death," Remus said, shaking his head. "You're just like Sirius; reckless to a fault with no sense of self-preservation at all. At least James has Lily to keep him in line now."
"Well, I could do worse," Harry said with a faint smile and distant eyes.
Remus sensed that the conversation had taken a sharp turn into something more serious and he stayed quiet to allow the other man some time with his thoughts. His eyes drifted downward for a moment, and then did a double-take when he thought he caught words on the back of Harry's right hand.
He caught 'tell lies' before the hand disappeared from his line of sight and his gaze darted up almost guiltily as he found Harry staring at him with a neutral expression.
Almost, he almost asked, but caught himself just in time. It wasn't any of his business and whatever was written – carved, his mind supplied unhelpfully – into Harry's hand was obviously not something he wanted to talk about.
So Remus quickly started another line of conversation, detailing the time James had pranked Lily of all people, and then had to walk around school with a cap for two weeks because Lily had shaved his head and drawn an evil happy face on top in retaliation. Remus was gratified to see Harry relax again under the story's influence and resolved to keep it that way. He didn't really know why, but smiling was how Remus liked Harry best.
"Had fun today, Remus?" Sirius grinned from his place in the driver's seat. He hadn't seen Remus this relaxed in some time now.
"Yes," Remus replied swiftly as he slid into the passenger's seat. "Harry's travelled a lot. He's told me quite a bit about the places he's been."
"Good, that's good," Sirius said as they pulled away from the curb. "He went home early?"
Remus nodded. "A few minutes before you came actually."
Sirius just nodded though, obviously distracted. Remus frowned, automatically lowering his voice even inside the car. "Voldemort getting active again?"
Sirius' expression darkened even as he nodded. "Acting up is putting it mildly," Sirius said grimly. "Five bodies have turned up today alone, and that's just in Westminster. Bloody mobster; James put a bullet in his head last time we met but the bastard just won't fucking die! He must have one hell of a doctor on his side."
"He'll go after James," Remus deducted worriedly. "Revenge has always been Voldemort's priority. Right after death and destruction, of course."
"Yeah," Sirius agreed, heaving a sigh. "The chief wants James to go into hiding but he's kicking up a fuss. With Lily and the baby coming though, he might just agree."
"Let's hope so," Remus had to hold back a shudder at the thought of James dead. "Voldemort's as dangerous as they come. I don't want to think about what would happen if he tries to go after Lily and the baby."
"We won't let him," Sirius swore harshly. "Voldemort will get them over my dead body."
Remus grimaced at the thought but said nothing. He knew he would give his own life in a heartbeat for any of his friends. He couldn't reprimand Sirius for doing the same.
Harry frowned as he perched in the acacia outside the Potter home in his falcon form, making sure Sirius and Remus had their backs turned before summoning the Extendable Ear out of Remus' suitcase. He had long since figured out how to make it work like a Muggle listening device, one part of it remaining with him while the other had been neatly deposited Remus' bag.
From what he had been able to gather in the three months he had been here, Harry knew there was also a Voldemort in this world, but he was the head of a Mafia family instead. When he had first discovered this, he had been torn between laughing his head off and- well, laughing his head off. Voldemort decked out in gangster clothes was something even his imagination had been hard-pressed to come up with.
But after the initial shock, and finding out that his father and godfather, as well as Pettigrew, were all quite immersed in the case, Harry had set out at once to learn everything he could about it. In his world, Voldemort had come after Harry because of the prophecy. In this world, James had shot Voldemort, almost killing him, but the mobster had evaded death by a hair and would no doubt come after James, as well as his family, for revenge. If that was the case, Harry wasn't above eavesdropping.
Snatching up the Extendable Ear, Harry surveyed the two houses one last time before taking off, heading back to his hotel room to sort out his next step. If James and Lily really were going to go into hiding, then he needed to know if there was a traitor amongst them this time.
Parallel universes were funny things, Harry mused as he soared over Westminster. One never knew what would be different and what would remain the same.
But he'd be damned if he couldn't prevent another tragedy from happening again.
Chapter one finished. As I said, this was mostly just for my entertainment, but I figured I might as well post it for kicks.
Review and tell me if I should finish it!