Disclaimer: I do not own anything from Harry Potter...
-Okay, first of all, this fic is just a spin-off of Wanderer. Takes place in the Wanderer!verse but if you don't read it, it won't affect the original fic. This can be a standalone; I've only taken Harry's background and used it here.
-This is the last chapter for this fic; I'll get back to writing my other stories in a few days.
Chapter 3 – Denouement
Since Lily had given birth, Harry had not seen the baby again.
He had almost had a heart-attack when he finally caught a glimpse of the child – black hair, green eyes – and was very careful to avoid Sirius' puzzled frown and Remus' thoughtful look and his pseudo-parents' confused expressions as they looked between Harry and the baby. Harry just knew it would be a matter of time before one or all of them figured it out.
He hadn't stuck around; he couldn't. He never should have come in the first place, but his curiosity and hope that another version of him would have a chance at an actual family had won him over in the end. But when he had seen his younger counterpart cradled in Lily's arms, cooed at by James, lathered with attention by Sirius and Remus, Harry had been struck with an overwhelming, ugly surge of jealousy. It washed over him with startling abruptness, unexpected and resentful in equal measure. Had his parents and godfathers loved him as much? Had Harry ever been able to enjoy a moment like this when his family's attention was all his and no one else's?
And for just a second, a heartbeat of time, Harry wanted this baby gone, wanted his life rewritten, wanted to take this child's place, because hadn't he, Harry, earned it? After everything he had gone through, everything he had suffered, didn't he deserve a family to call his own? This baby – this Harry – hadn't done anything, had simply been born; he didn't deserve the love his family obviously gave him so freely.
But the feeling had left just as quickly as it had come, leaving a bitter tang of shame in its wake as Harry had retreated from the hospital room. It was wrong to think like that. He'd be angry at all of them if they didn't love his counterpart so unreservedly. And in the end, no matter how much they were alike, the Lily and James and Sirius and Remus of this world were not his, and Harry had no right to intrude. Hell, he had encroached enough on their lives; becoming their friend was more than he had ever hoped for.
It had been Sirius who had come out after him, looking both worried and something else that Harry couldn't quite place. His godfather had asked him if he was alright and Harry had tried to reassure him with a smile but when the concern remained, Harry figured it probably hadn't worked.
Oddly enough, Sirius hadn't pushed and instead, he had asked Harry for any suggestions of a good name for the baby. Harry, of course, had immediately thought, well, Harry, but that obviously wouldn't go over very well, and he had feebly proposed 'Connor' or 'Daniel' or 'Lucas'. None of them had really sounded right to Harry, and judging by the slight frown marring Sirius' features, they hadn't sounded right to him either.
Harry had excused himself from the hospital shortly thereafter, not wanting to stay where he could see their interactions any longer, but he had, later, asked Sirius to pass on a gift for him.
He had made it himself, a simple cherry wood box made to hold odds and ends when the baby grew up a little. It was the outside design of the box that he was most proud of though. With five panels to work with, Harry had meticulously used a mix of his own skill and transfiguration to depict a scene on each side of the box. The front portrayed several lilies, freshly white with dewdrops clinging to the petals in a night time setting, paired with a doe grazing in the background. The left side illustrated a stag, silvery-white and regal against the evening backdrop. The right held a dog, shaggy and onyx-black, frozen in mid-run but almost as if it really was still running. Harry had chosen a forest as its surroundings, dark green in the night time theme. And on the back, Harry had drawn a wolf, also black and howling at the moon hanging above it while it stood at the top of a cliff. And on the top, he had drawn a falcon, wings spread and soaring triumphantly against the light of an oncoming dawn, the rays of sunlight just peeking over the horizon.
Harry hadn't been able to make himself draw Pettigrew, and a rat wouldn't make much sense to anyone anyway. All his pseudo-family would think when they saw the box would be that it had animals decorating it, with some lilies thrown in to, perhaps, signify Lily.
But after that, Sirius had been reassigned to the police branch in Islington and Remus, after a close shave with a Death Eater and a bullet, had temporarily moved into hiding with Lily and James. They had tried to coax Harry into hiding as well, but Harry had flatly refused. Being in such close quarters with his not-family would probably drive him insane, and he still had to keep an eye out for Voldemort. Now that he had all the people he wanted to protect in relatively the same place though, Harry could relax just a little.
Pettigrew on the other hand was still in Westminster and it seemed that the man was just as good at hiding in human form as he had been in rat form. Harry still hadn't managed to catch him doing anything suspicious; not visibly anyway. The amounts of time he disappeared from his radar stank of betrayal.
But the timeline in this place seemed to run parallel to his original world. The baby had been born on July thirty-first, so Harry was gambling that Voldemort would attack on October thrity-first of the following year.
Harry would be ready.
*Fifteen Months Later, October 31st*
"It's beautiful, isn't it?"
James glanced up from the reports he had been going through and followed Lily's gaze to the box placed carefully on the coffee table. On the couch, Remus also looked up from the baby, who was currently cradled in his arms.
"Wonder if Harry meant for each picture to symbolize something," James said lightly as he made his way over to the box. The realistic portraits had enchanted Lily at first sight and she had spent quite a bit of time studying each panel ever since they had received it.
"The lilies obviously mean Lily," Remus automatically pointed out as he had done several times already. "Even though there's a doe grazing on the field as well."
"It's the animals that have me stumped," Lily admitted, tracing one of the falcon's wings. "I mean, even if he chose random animals, a stag wouldn't really be anyone's first choice, would it?"
"Personally, I think it means James," Remus said thoughtfully.
"Why's that?" James bent down and peered at the majestic-looking animal.
Remus reached over and traced a groove on the bottom left, curled in amongst the grass. "That looks like a 'J', doesn't it?"
James blinked, and then squinted a little. It did look a bit like a letter. "That could be coincidental."
"I think Remus is right!" Lily said excitedly as she gently turned the box around so that the dog now faced them. "Doesn't that look like an 'S'? Right here, in the trees; for Sirius!"
James slowly nodded, reaching out to shift the box again so the back panel stared back at them. "And that's an 'R'," James pointed at the cliff face, the letter entwined with the rock. "For Remus."
"The lilies speak for itself," Remus said, a smile tugging at his lips. "But there's an 'L' carved into one of the stems, so I suppose the doe is also for Lily."
"What about the falcon?" Lily asked, already studying it. "I don't think he means Peter. I mean, no offense James, but a falcon isn't what I think of when I look at him."
James shrugged. "Harry hasn't spent much time around Peter. Poor bloke's always off visiting his mother nowadays. I guess it's a good thing he wasn't transferred to Islington. She probably doesn't have long left."
"It's an 'H'," Remus said suddenly, running a finger along the horizon. "See? It's small, almost invisible since he made it part of the mountain line, as if he didn't really mean to add it, but he carved an 'H' for-"
He stopped abruptly and they all instinctively glanced at the baby still cradled in Remus' left arm.
"Sirius said he hasn't told Harry yet," James said thoughtfully as his son blinked large green eyes at him. "That we named our son after him."
Baby Harry laughed at nothing in particular as Lily gathered him from Remus, smiling when he automatically snuggled into her.
They had named their baby after Harry – something they wouldn't have believed they would do even six months ago – but the name somehow just fit, and the fact that they both had black hair and green eyes wasn't lost on any of them.
Harry James Potter had a nice ring to it that just sounded right to James, and to his surprise, everyone else had agreed. They had tried to get a hold of Harry but Sirius had told them that their friend had become more distant recently, never staying on the phone for long and sometimes not even picking up. It had them all worried and James had often considered slipping out of the house and driving back down to Westminster to check up on Harry, but the thought of his wife and child had always stopped him. They had even tried asking Peter to keep an eye on Harry for them, maybe invite him out for dinner, but Peter had always mumbled something about being busy with work and his mother, and he had always looked tired, so they had stopped pushing and resorted to having Sirius make repeated phone calls every week to stay in touch.
It had been over a year since they had last seen Harry at the hospital but they had never forgotten the strange feeling they had all had when they noticed the similarities between the two.
Oh, they had always known Harry had the same green eyes as Lily and the same black hair as James, but it had never really connected in their minds. While Lily's eyes were open and warm, Harry's were guarded and wary almost all the time, though there had been a similar kindness in both of them. And while James had short messy hair, Harry's was longer, about Sirius' length, and not as messy. However, the subtle differences had been enough to slip under their detection, and it hadn't been until their Harry was born that they had finally noticed.
"I still don't get it," James said out loud, reaching out to stroke Harry's head. "It's not really normal for two people to look so similar, is it?"
Lily shrugged and Remus was careful not to look directly at James. He had his own suspicions, completely wild and should-be-impossible, but he had spent the most time with Harry when he had still been teaching, and some of his mannerisms – his gestures when he talked or the quips he came up with in conversation – strongly reminded Remus of both James and Lily. He kept his thoughts to himself though, content to just spend time with Harry who was interesting to talk to and fun to be around.
He also knew Sirius had his own reservations, but like him, Sirius never spoke them aloud either. In fact, he seemed more worried than anything else, and if it hadn't been for them, Remus had a feeling that Sirius would apply for a transfer back to Westminster. Harry had swore that he was no longer drinking but they had no way to know for sure, and because of his refusal to move to Islington with them, he was also smack in the middle of Voldemort's killing grounds.
"Does it matter?" Lily finally asked, rocking baby Harry gently. "I like Harry; he's a good friend, so it doesn't really matter who he is."
James nodded without hesitation, and Remus had to wonder if the couple had drawn their own conclusions, unspoken but very real.
"Well," James rose to his feet again. "Back to work. Honestly, I'm on paid leave and I'm still doing paperwork."
Remus chuckled as Lily rolled her eyes, but when the clock chimed nine, Remus' smile turned into something more worried. "Wasn't Sirius supposed to call half an hour ago?"
James hesitated before nodding tersely, scooping up his cell and waving it at them. "Didn't want to tell you until I got some good news; Sirius texted and said Peter wanted him back in Westminster. Something about spotting Death Eaters near where Harry's staying but he's not picking up his cell. Haven't heard back from him yet."
Lily immediately straightened with concern. "He'll be alright, won't he?" Her features tightened with fear. "If he could survive a brush with Bellatrix..."
"I'm sure he's fine," Remus soothed, hiding his own anxiety. "Harry's resourceful, and besides, Peter said 'near' his place. It could just be a coincidence."
Lily nodded, still worried but willing to let the issue lie until Sirius called back. Over her head, Remus and James exchanged a heavy look. There was no such thing as coincidence.
Harry had a lead. The wards he had placed around the hotel, simple ones to warn him when someone dangerous had breached them, had activated twenty minutes ago. He had quickly transformed into his Animagus form and almost instantly caught sight of Pettigrew skulking near the rhododendrons planted in a shadowy corner of the hotel grounds. He hadn't been able to hear the conversation Pettigrew had been having with someone over the phone, but the rat had taken off only minutes later, and Harry had no choice but to follow. He hadn't even had time to cast a few disillusionment charms over his belongings before he had left, but he doubted anyone would be breaking into his room anytime soon.
And now, he had finally caught him. Pettigrew, the traitorous bastard, talking to Bellatrix, looking small and cowed as he informed her that he had done his part. His part in what, Harry didn't know, but it definitely wasn't anything good when he saw Bellatrix's face light up with glee. For half a second, he seriously considered changing back and hexing her into oblivion, but the moment passed when the woman ordered Pettigrew to Islington to join their boss.
That had sent a chill through him. So Voldemort was already in Islington, waiting for Pettigrew. Despite his vigilance, the mob boss had slipped through his fingers, but Pettigrew hadn't, which meant Harry could still get rid of them both. The wards he had placed around the safe house hadn't been breached yet either so that, at least, reassured him. The night wasn't over after all; Harry still had time.
So he followed Pettigrew, placing a Temporary Sticking Charm to glue himself to the top of the rat's car and a Disillusionment Charm over himself as they sped to Islington.
Racing up the stairs – the elevator had been too slow – Sirius burst onto the landing and skidded to a stop in front of Harry's room, already pounding frantically on the wood. "Harry? Harry! Open up! Are you in there? Harry!"
With a curse, he fumbled for the hotel card he had all but scared out of the receptionist and opened the door with caution – which, he had to admit, was rather pointless after his panicked shouts – gun already drawn. His eyes surveyed the dark room and something told him he was alone, but he didn't lower his guard as he did a quick sweep of the place.
There was no one there, and Sirius wasn't sure if he should be relieved or even more worried. His gaze slid to the two empty alcohol bottles and promised himself he would give Harry a good whack over the head for lying to them before beginning a hurried search of the place. If Harry had been kidnapped, the Death Eaters would have left something behind. They had never been ones to hide their crimes.
He didn't find anything save a single duffel bag at the back of the closet. Said closet was also practically empty except for a bathrobe that belonged to the hotel and a jacket tossed haphazardly over a hanger. His eyes fell to the duffel bag and he hesitated for a long moment. It wasn't right to go through other people's belongings, but there might be something there that would tell Sirius where Harry was. He ignored the voice in the back of his head that accused him of simply wanting to snoop out of curiosity.
Picking the bag up, Sirius was surprised when a phone – the cell they had given Harry – tumbled out to rest at the bottom of the closet. Dropping the bag with an irritated growl, Sirius quickly grabbed the device and flipped it open.
Twelve missed calls, all from Sirius. Well no wonder he hadn't been able to get through.
With a huff as he pocketed the phone, Sirius tilted his head and frowned a little when he caught movement through the opening of the bag. More curious than ever, he reached out and tugged it open, jaw dropping when he saw what was stuffed between a rolled-up sweater and a few shirts.
With a suddenly unsteady hand, he plucked the – photo? – whatever it was from the folds of the clothes. It was a photo, but it wasn't anything Sirius had ever seen before.
For one thing, the figures in it were moving. For another, he clearly recognized the people in it yet he could not recall when such a photo had ever been taken.
The people in the picture were, well, them. Sirius standing on the far left, one arm slung around James, who was wearing expensive but odd-looking robes and had his arm around Lily's waist, who was resplendent in a wedding dress. On her other side was Remus, looking older and more tired than Sirius had ever seen, especially at that age, but he was also smiling happily at the camera. They were all smiling. And waving.
Quickly flipping the photo around, he tried to look for a battery slot of some sort, an electronic device that would make this all less surreal, but there wasn't. For all intents and purposes, the picture was just that: a picture.
He turned it around again, studying what he and Remus were wearing. Robes. Not as fine as James' but they looked strange and yet not. They seemed to fit with the overall air of the picture as if wherever this was, robes were the norm.
Why would Harry have something like this in his bag? And how were the people in the photo even moving?
Flipping it over once more, he noted the date on the worn piece of paper. September 25th, 1978. That was the exact date the James and Lily he knew had gotten married, except for the year. It had been 1981 when they had wedded, a little over three years ago.
He noted the rip along one side of the picture, and though he had nothing to back-up his speculation, Sirius would bet his arm that it was Peter who had been cut off. He wasn't blind; Harry had never liked Peter, though he had tried ridiculously hard to hide it. He also seemed more relaxed around them when Peter wasn't around, but when he was, Harry rarely ever let their short friend out of his sight, always wary, always watching.
Sirius had thought nothing of it at first. Sure, he had been somewhat annoyed that Harry had seemingly refused to give Peter a chance before disliking him, but he couldn't really expect him to simply get along with everyone, and once it was clear that Harry hid his feelings on the matter well enough that Peter didn't notice, Sirius had let the issue go.
But slowly, eventually, Harry's caution around Peter had stirred Sirius' own unease. Why was Harry so careful around Peter when he had been relatively open to the rest of them from the very beginning? Peter was the most harmless of them all; certainly, Sirius and James could cause more damage in a fight than Peter ever could, and while Remus didn't look or act like it, the usually mild-mannered professor had a black belt in martial arts. Even Lily had a killer kick and a brain to match, something both Sirius and James could attest to after an embarrassing incident in high school.
So, unconsciously at first, Sirius had begun watching Peter as well. Not closely nor had he tried looking for something in particular, but even just by keeping an eye on his friend now and then, he noticed inconsistencies in Peter's words and actions. For one, Sirius had heard Peter tell them that he was going to visit his mother, and yet, three times, he had spotted Peter hurrying along the street, nowhere near the hospital his mother was staying in only a few hours after Peter had separated from their group. Sirius had never called him out on it, worried that he would come across as accusing him of something treacherous and untrue – perhaps Peter simply wanted to go on a walk after seeing his mother – not to mention he knew how much James trusted each of them; would take it as a personal offence if Sirius ever brought up something like this without substantial proof, and even then, James would probably give Peter the benefit of the doubt.
And Remus; well, Remus usually followed James' lead. Admittedly, Sirius was usually prone to jumping to conclusions, but seeing as it would be Peter he would be accusing of... something, he couldn't really see that conversation going successfully.
Glancing back down at the picture, Sirius heaved a sigh and shook his head. Either Harry had a rather disturbing and eerie hobby that Sirius wasn't aware of, or the impossible suspicions he had of the man weren't so impossible after all.
The buzz of his own phone snapped him out of his thoughts and he quickly picked up after seeing his new chief on the caller ID. "Black. Sir?"
"Black, where the hell are you?"
Sirius frowned, half-turning to face the door. "In Westminster. I was called down here to check out a lead."
"What the bloody hell are you talking about? What lead? You're supposed to be stationed by the blasted safe house!"
Sirius felt something cold settle in his chest, freezing the breath in his lungs for a moment. His mind flashed from memory to memory, of Harry and his guarded nature, of Peter and his contradictions, of all the things he had seen but had ignored because Peter was a friend and there was just no way...
"You- You didn't get a call from Westmin HQ?" He tried to keep his voice steady even as he fumbled for the closet doors, closing them and striding for the door as he absently slipped the photo into his pocket.
"Of course not! I would've called you if I had wanted you down there! Now get back to Islington before I fire you!"
"Sir," Sirius said before his chief could hang up, his voice urgent and tight with barely-controlled fear. "Sir, I think one of ours has turned. I think Voldemort's going to strike tonight. I'll be back up there as soon as possible but please send a squad to the safe house as quickly as possible."
There was a pause. The chief was a man who took everything into account and knew the men he worked with to at least a degree where their character was relatively clear to him. Sirius Black was reckless and hot-tempered, but he was also dedicated to keeping people safe, and that went doubly so for James Potter, Lily Potter, and Remus Lupin. It had come as a shock to him when he had found out Black had left his position and knew only something equally important would have pulled him away. If Black said there was a traitor in this mess, he didn't doubt him.
So, the chief asked one question, already furious as he reached for another phone. "Who turned?"
Sirius, missing the ignition slot twice before finally starting his car, could only think of one thing. Yes, Peter could have been mistaken. He could have panicked and called Sirius down to check on Harry for him. Hell, the fact that he wasn't even at the hotel to meet Sirius could be because the Death Eaters had abducted him along with Harry. Even the absent signs of forced entry and struggle – because Harry would struggle, there was no doubt about that – could be explained away.
But the only thought running through Sirius' mind even as rage burned through his veins was a dark and unpleasant one, already snarling at the betrayal.
If anything happens to any of them, I will tear him to pieces myself.
"Peter Pettigrew," Sirius bit out as he floored the pedal and switched on the siren. "Peter Pettigrew turned."
The phone ringing came as a relief to all of them as Lily looked up from Harry, who had long since fallen asleep. Snatching it up and putting it on speaker, James barely managed a greeting before Sirius' voice filled the room.
"James, do you have your gun?"
The curt tone edged with anger made all of them stiffen. "Uh, no," James glanced around the table. "Must've left it upstairs."
"Get it, and prepare for an attack."
"Sirius, what's going on?" James asked, getting to his feet as Lily shifted restlessly on the couch and Remus moved over to the window. "What happened to Harry?"
"There's no time to explain in detail," Sirius said urgently. They could hear the siren wailing in the background. "Harry wasn't in his room when I got there. Neither was Peter. I think I was set up. Voldemort probably knows where you are already."
"Wait, wait, slow down, Sirius. I don't understand what you're getting at."
A stilted silence followed before Sirius spoke again. "Peter betrayed us, James. I can't tell you how I know for sure but-"
"What?" This came from all three people in the room but it was James' voice that rose above the others. "That's impossible. Peter's our friend. He would never-"
"The bloody rat betrayed us, James!" Sirius finally snapped, the fury unleashing into his words. "He called me all the way down to Westminster so I wouldn't be there to protect you. There are no Death Eaters at the Windermere and Harry wasn't even there! Peter most definitely wasn't there to meet me! He just wanted me out of the way!"
"That's not proof, Sirius!" James shouted. "That's just a guess! Peter could've been abducted as well! Did you think of that before you started pointing fingers? You should be starting a search for both of them, not accusing Peter of-"
"I know what I'm talking about, James!" Sirius bellowed back. "Look, I'm not arguing with you about this. I'm coming back right now and the Chief's sending back-up over there as we speak. Just get ready for an attack."
"Sirius, this is insane!" James hissed, colour rising in his face. "You're accusing Peter! Have you lost your mind? I'm not going to-"
"James," Remus spoke up suddenly, his whole body tense. "There are people outside. Dressed in black. They're surrounding the front."
James froze, head snapping around. In two strides, he had made his way over to Remus, peering outside as well. Sure enough, a line of black-clad individuals had spread out across the lawn, and even from this distance, James could see the glint of gun-metal black in their hands.
"James?" Sirius' voice floated down the line again, even more worried now. "What's happening?"
"Voldemort's here," James replied shortly, yanking Remus away from the window. He rushed over to the mantel of the fireplace, grimacing as he pulled out a handgun from behind a picture frame. It was the only piece in the room but it was better than nothing. "When did you say that back-up was coming?"
"Soon. Ten minutes, give or take. I'll be back in twenty."
"Well, the door should hold them up for a while," James said grimly. "It's only keyed in to-"
"-To me, you, Lily, Remus, the Chief, and Peter," Sirius spat out. "Reset the blasted thing, James, before that rat lets in Voldemort himself."
"Sirius, Voldemort's found us, but-"
"DAMMIT, JAMES! HAVE I EVER LED YOU WRONG?" Sirius roared over the phone. "I AM TRYING TO SAVE YOUR LIFE HERE SO WILL YOU JUST FUCKING LISTEN TO ME AND RESET THE BLOODY LOCK! IF I TURN OUT TO BE BLOODY WRONG ABOUT PETER, I'LL BEG ON MY KNEES FOR HIS FORGIVENESS MYSELF! NOW DO AS I BLOODY SAY BEFORE YOU GET YOURSELF FUCKING KILLED!"
James stilled for a long second before nodding curtly at Remus. The professor hurried out of the room to change the code and James opened his mouth to confirm it, only to be cut off by a heart-stopping click and then Remus' shout.
"James, gun! They're getting in! They're getting in!"
Dropping the cell, James lunged for the door, mind racing as Lily disappeared from the room as well, sprinting upstairs for Harry.
It happened absurdly fast. One moment, James was half out of his mind with shock – Peter had betrayed them – the next, he had fired off all six shots, flooring six Death Eaters before Peter of all people cracked him over the head with the butt of his gun, making him stagger. A second later, three Death Eaters had converged on him, forcing him to his knees as Voldemort stepped out in front of him, black suit unwrinkled as cold dark eyes drilling into his own as his head was wrenched backwards.
Distantly, he could hear Sirius yelling, voice a little tinny over through the phone.
Damn it, James thought, struggling weakly as he tried to blink away the fog in his mind and the pounding in his head. Sirius was right.
Sirius slapped the steering wheel as the line abruptly dropped, leaving him with nothing but silence.
"Please please please don't be dead," He muttered fervently, pushing the car as fast as it would go. "Please, not James, not Lily, not Remus, not Harry. Please please please."
Harry gritted his teeth as he perched in a nearby tree with a clear view of the sitting room. He had to time all this perfectly. The twenty-odd Death Eaters still outside would have to be Stupefied quietly without anyone in the house noticing or Voldemort might start shooting.
He almost broke the branch he was clutching in one white-knuckled grip when he saw one of the Death Eaters wrench the baby from Lily and then backhand her when she lunged forward, shrieking something inaudible.
He turned away, dropping silently to the ground before stunning three Death Eaters in rapid succession, throwing a Silencing Charm out as well so no one would hear their bodies thud to the ground.
Skirting around the yard, he took out the rest of the mobsters systematically, pausing only when he stunned Dolohov. This man's counterpart had killed his world's Remus. It was disturbingly hard not to retaliate with a little more than a Stunner.
A car pulled up silently across the street just as he stunned the last Death Eater. Blinking, he watched as Sirius scrambled out of the car, taking the safety off his gun as he ran for the house. There was a harsh look in his eyes, one Harry recognized from the Sirius of his world when he had confronted Wormtail, anger and hurt and hatred all mixed into a knot of ugly emotions.
It was also something that Harry knew would drive Sirius into doing something reckless, and with a muttered curse, he hurried after his godfather, noting the way he barely acknowledged the downed Death Eaters, not even questioning why they were knocked out.
Harry could keep his fury at bay but in the face of Voldemort and especially Pettigrew, he would probably snap. Sirius, who even in Harry's teenage years had always been more emotional, was going to lose it.
"So this is your new son?" Voldemort said silkily as he gazed down at Harry currently cradled in Peter's arms. One of his hands caressed the baby's head with deceptive tenderness. "A beautiful child. I must offer my congratulations."
"Get your filthy hand off my son!" Lily snarled through a split lip, green eyes wild with rage as she twisted helplessly in her captors' grip.
Beside her, James was still trying to struggle against the hands that held him. While his head was still throbbing and he could feel the blood running down the side of his face, he could at least think clearly again and his attention was split between Voldemort and the spineless rat cowering behind him. He swore right then and there that Peter would pay for this.
On Lily's other side, Remus was still, but James knew he was simply waiting for a chance, a split second of wavered focus, to break free and attack. James wished he had the man's patience but all he could think about now was putting a bullet in Voldemort's head. Several bullets since one didn't work last time.
"Now, now," Voldemort turned to Lily, a cruel smile spreading over his face. "There's no need to be rude. I simply came to pay my respects to a soon-to-be-dead man," His eyes flickered to James before coming to a rest on Peter. "And Peter here was kind enough to invite me inside."
James turned all his hate on his former friend but it was Lily who spoke, voice low and vicious as she spoke. "I swear you will pay for this. Even if I have to return from the grave, I will make you rue the day you ever even thought about harming my family."
There was no fear in her words, only defiance, and James couldn't help the pride that flooded his being. That was his Lily.
But Voldemort only tsked, moving forward to finger a strand of Lily's hair. James struggled even harder cussing up a storm even as the mob boss ignored him.
"Leave her alone!" He snarled, trying to tear himself from the two men keeping him captive.
"You have such a pretty wife, James," Voldemort said as if James hadn't spoken. "Really such a shame that she'll be dying tonight. Of course, I could always have some fun with her before I kill her."
An almost-growl rumbled in Remus' chest as James lashed out with one leg, desperate and terrified at even the thought of what Voldemort was threatening to do. A punch in the stomach was given for his efforts and he choked on a breath as he struggled for air.
Voldemort shook his head, still detachedly amused. "Behave, James. You'll get a few extra minutes with your family if you stay quiet." His head tilted in an almost curious manner. "You didn't really think I wouldn't get you in the end for your insolence? I am Voldemort; no one challenges me without consequence. And for your actions, I will make you watch as I carve up your wife, your son, and your friend before I finally kill you." He paused, circling over to James before speaking again. "And I'll get your dear friend Sirius too. He's just lucky enough that I needed him away from this place for the night. He was the only one of your little group who grew suspicious of Peter here. Lucky for me, he kept his suspicions to himself. Oh, and Harry, was it? That man you befriended and named your son after? Don't worry; I'll be having a bit of a chat with him as well. And really, you only have yourself to blame, James. I warned you, did I not? I told you you would be no match for me."
"I beg to differ," A voice said from the door, cold and deadly.
And then a single shot rang through the room.
James didn't waste a second, taking the momentary surprise of his captors to twist himself away and lash out with his hands, crushing both their windpipes before lunging for Voldemort who had ducked just in time to escape Sirius' bullet, obviously not expecting anyone to breach the line of Death Eaters outside. Remus also leapt into action, taking down the men holding him captive with lethal efficiency before tackling the ones holding Lily.
Shouts and gunfire rang around him and James prayed no one he cared about was hurt as he wrestled with Voldemort on the ground, shattering the coffee table as the mob boss sneered in rage.
A silver glint caught James' eye and he automatically reached for the gun, his fingers closing around it as Voldemort managed to throw him off. He had no time to even grimace as his back hit the wall. His only thought was to kill the man who had threatened his family, kill him once and for all.
James had always been a good shot and he barely had to take a second to aim before firing straight into the mob boss' chest. Once, twice, six times before the telltale click told him that the magazine was empty.
But it was enough because the twisted grimace of hate on Voldemort's face did not fade even as the man fell, bloodied and bullet-ridden as his body hit the ground.
For a moment, James could only stare, blood pounding in his ears as he watched his long-time enemy twitched once and was still.
"Put the gun down!" A shrill voice cried, and James almost saw red when he looked up and saw Peter – fucking Peter – holding a gun to his son's head, who was still miraculously silent, taking everything in with frightened green eyes.
A keening sound came from his left and James flinched. He never wanted to hear his wife sound like that again.
"Put your guns down!" Peter shouted again, backing up another step. It was only now that James noticed both Remus and Sirius pointing a gun at Peter, faces tight with the wrath and pain of betrayal.
"Let go of my son, Peter," James spat out as he clambered to his feet, ignoring the glass that crunched under his feet and the dull ache it left there.
Peter shook his head, watery blue eyes squinting with fear. "Put your guns down now!" He screeched and the gun pressed harder against Harry's head, enough to make the child squirm. "I won't say it again!"
It was enough; James left his gun on the ground a few feet away, and though Remus and Sirius were both visibly reluctant, they slowly placed their guns on the bloodied floor as well, kicking them away when Peter jerked his head.
"How could you?" Remus' voice was slightly shaky but there was an undercurrent of steel in it that heightened the fear in Peter's eyes. "How could you do this to us, Peter? Your best friends?"
Peter swallowed convulsively. "I had no choice," He rasped out, taking another step back and moving closer to the shattered window. He was scared but still aware enough to edge away from the three men, taking the route closest to Lily. She was still the weakest of the four. "Voldemort came to me-"
"-And you should've told him to stick his shite where the sun doesn't shine!" Sirius hissed, tracking Peter's movements with malevolent eyes. "Instead, you betrayed us!"
Peter released a strangled sob, still clutching Harry in his left arm. "He would've killed me, Sirius!" He whimpered. "He would've tortured and murdered me-"
"THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!" Sirius roared, enraged. "DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!"
But Peter was shaking his head again, still backing away. The window was low enough to the ground that jumping out wouldn't cause any damage. "I'm not g-going to jail," He croaked, shuffling backwards. "And I'm not going to die. Once I g-get out of here, I'll leave Harry somewhere and y-you can pick him up. I won't hurt him if you just let me go. I'll d-disappear and you'll never see me again."
"No!" Lily took a step forward, only to freeze when Peter's finger tightened on the trigger.
"Please!" She begged instead. "Take me. Give my son to James and you can take me as your hostage instead. He's just a baby; he doesn't deserve this. Please."
"No way!" James snapped, about to offer himself even though he knew Peter would never agree. In close quarters, there was no way he wouldn't be able to overpower Peter, gun or no gun.
Peter shook his head a third time, but Lily's words seem to have at least made him hesitate because his eyes darted down to the child.
And that was when it happened.
A dark figure swung through the window, catching Peter around the neck with a lightning-fast hand, another hand coming up to yank baby Harry away from Peter's suddenly flailing arms. With a cry, he and the intruder crashed to the ground.
James, Sirius, and Remus wasted no time to get a clear view of the newcomer's face as they all lunged for their weapons, and Lily was on her feet again, torn between moving forward and staying still.
There was a distinct moment of silence before Sirius broke it, gasping, "Harry?"
And indeed, it was Harry, black hair tied back per usual as he crouched on top of Peter, one knee pressed roughly against his chest, a foot holding Peter's gun hand down, and his left arm cradling baby Harry in a firm but gentle grip.
Unfortunately, said gun was pointed directly at Lily, and as Peter struggled and emitted strangled yells, he managed to get his wrist free and his finger tightened on the trigger.
A crack and an agonized scream wrenched the air as Harry crushed the wrist under his foot, snarling in an almost deranged voice, "Don't you dare hurt my mum!"
The statement wasn't particularly loud, but in the adrenaline-charged room, everyone there heard it loud and clear.
Oddly enough, nobody keeled over in shock or even questioned it, attention still focused on the standoff in the middle of the room. It was Lily who spoke at last, breaking down into tears as she realized the danger was over.
"Harry!" Lily all but sobbed in relief, rushing forward to gather her son into her arms. No one was really sure if she meant older Harry or younger but they all figured it was probably a bit of both.
Harry let the redhead take the child but his eyes never wavered from Peter still whimpering under him, struggling weakly in Harry's merciless hold.
"Harry?" James said softly, circling around so he could catch a glimpse of his face. Remus and Sirius did the same, their guns all trained on the traitor pinned to the ground. "Harry, it's alright, you can get off him now."
There was no reply and James almost started as he finally saw the look in Harry's eyes. There was an almost crazed hatred there, all directed at Peter and strong enough that James wondered why his former friend hadn't burned up right then and there yet.
"Harry, you can't kill him," Beside James, Sirius' voice was rough as he spoke as if each word was one he regretted. James had no doubts that Sirius very much wanted Peter dead. Only the consequences that would come with Peter's death at a civilian's hands were preventing Sirius from giving Harry the go-ahead. "We're putting him behind bars, for life if I have anything to do with it. And then the inmates can have him. No one likes a dirty cop, much less a failed one."
Harry didn't so much as shift, right hand still closed around Peter's throat and looking so detached that it put a spark of fear in James' chest. Not of Harry, but rather for him, because from James' point of view, there was familiarity in that action, as if Harry had killed before. James didn't want to know what had pushed Harry far enough to actually commit murder.
"Harry," It was Remus who spoke this time, quiet and careful as if trying to calm a wild animal. "There's no point killing him now. He's done; we'll make sure of that. No matter what it takes, James and Sirius will put him away for life."
Harry didn't look up, the eerie glint in familiar green eyes never wavering from Peter's blue, but the fingers around the traitor's throat twitched.
"I didn't get him last time," Harry finally rasped out, and James had a feeling that the younger man wasn't really registering what he was saying. "I didn't get him. He's still free; he escaped. But I've got this one, right here."
The distant wail of sirens finally reached their ears and James spared a second to mentally snort in disgust.
"Could just kill him," Sirius muttered darkly even as Remus shot him a sharp look. "I'll swear in front of any judge that he was killed in self-defense."
That seemed to be all Harry needed and his hand instantly tightened again, making Peter wheeze as his remaining hand clawed desperately at his throat.
"Harry, no," James said firmly, taking a step forward. "It'll change you. Change you more," He amended, because another glimpse of those ruthless eyes told him very clearly that Harry had killed before. "You don't want any more blood on your hands."
"He almost killed you family," Harry snapped. "This filthy piece of vermin would've seen all of you die without turning a hair. Give me one good reason why I should let him go."
James honestly couldn't come up with anything more than 'it's against the law' because in the end, given half the chance when Peter still had his son, he would've put a bullet in the traitor's head himself.
"Because that's not you," Lily's voice was still tight with tears but her words were clear as she moved forward and crouched down beside Harry, placing a free hand on the arm that was holding Wormtail down. "Because killing in cold blood isn't who you are."
"You don't know that," Harry's voice was flat, bitter. "I've killed, more than once."
"Because it was a necessity," Lily countered determinedly, sure and confident as if nothing would ever refute it. "You wouldn't kill unless you had to. I know you," She paused, and then finished, much quieter, "I know my son."
Harry jerked, flinching away from her, but some of the madness left his features and the hand seemed to loosen on its own, leaving a gasping Peter in its wake.
Slowly, as if waking from a dream, Harry – their Harry, their son – rose to his feet, backing away from Peter with erratic movements and almost tripping over a lifeless arm before Lily reached over and steadied him.
Harry instantly moved away from her, shying from the contact as he avoided their gazes.
In the background, the sirens got louder, shattering the night air with its caterwauling as they got closer.
"Harry?" James lowered his gun, trusting Sirius and Remus to keep Peter on the ground as he moved over to the man so like himself and so like Lily. "Harry-"
"I'm not," Harry interrupted, his eyes haunted and shadowed as they focused on Lily. "I'm not your son."
Lily shifted baby Harry a little, taking a step towards the older Harry. "Harry," She hesitated, looking slightly uncertain. "Sweetheart-"
"No, I'm not," Harry repeated, backing away to the window in an echo of Peter's earlier retreat. "I'm sorry I called you 'mum'. I didn't mean it. I'm not your kid."
Here, a bitter smile curled at his lips as his gaze dropped to the child in Lily's arms. "He's your kid," Harry said as if he thought it needed to be explained. "He's your son. Take care of him. Don't-"
He flinched a little when the first police car blasted up the street in a screech of tires, drawing closer with every passing second. As if spurred on by this, he suddenly whirled around, leaping up onto the windowsill with all the grace of a large feline.
"Wait!" Sirius barked, sounding worried and panicked at the same time and pretty much conveying what everyone else was feeling as Harry made to leave. "Wait, Harry, don't go. Come on, we can- we can talk about this. I'll even let you get a few hits in before we throw Peter in jail."
The feeble attempt at a joke – because even Lily knew Sirius secretly meant every word – was not lost on Harry and the man managed a weak smile before surveying them all.
"Don't ever let him want for love," He said at last with a sense of farewell even as he nodded at the baby. "He deserves a good life, a good family."
And then, before anyone could protest, Harry slipped out the window, disappearing into the night without a trace just as the police pulled up, guns drawn and shouting.
"Fucking morons," Sirius muttered as he threw his gun across the room in frustration, no longer needing it. "Come after everything's gone down. Bleeding idiots."
"Sirius?" James watched his best friend stalk towards the door as one police officer, oblivious to the fact that James was trying to ignore him, explained that they had been held up by Death Eaters and hadn't been able to arrive earlier but they were here to help now.
"He's not leaving like that," Sirius said, voice low enough so that the distracted officers around them wouldn't overhear. His grey eyes burned with grim determination. "I don't care if he's from the future or an alternate dimension or another reality or whatever; he's Harry Potter which means he's my godson. I am not letting him leave like that."
And without further ado, Sirius swept out of the room, leaving the cleanup to the back-up squad.
Across the room, Remus glanced at James and Lily before heading for the door as well. "I'm going too. Sirius will need help."
James pinched the bridge of his nose before moving over to Lily.
"You should go too," She murmured, tucking a few stray bangs behind her left ear.
James shook his head, engulfing his wife and child in a tight hug. "Not now. Later, definitely. But not now."
They searched for a month, driving from Islington to Westminster, from Ealing to Greenwich, before expanding the search to all of London. Both James and Sirius had been granted a paid vacation, and Remus had opted to put work on hold in favour of the manhunt.
To no avail. Harry could not be found and each day ended with increasing disappointment as they returned home empty-handed.
"I can't believe this," James scrubbed a hand through his hair in frustration as he turned the moving photo Sirius had shown them all a month ago. "Maybe he's, I don't know, hiding himself with magic? I mean that's the only explanation, right?"
"There's no such thing as magic," Remus reminded half-heartedly, sounding more gloomy than convinced.
James scoffed. "So I suppose everyone has an older version of their son running around the world then?"
"Time travel," Remus corrected. "That's science."
"Oh shut up, both of you," Sirius said irritably from his sprawled position on the couch. "Either way, we can't find him. Hell, he might not even be in London anymore. He could be halfway around the world by now for all we know. Just because we've got contacts in all the airports doesn't mean they can't be paid off or something."
James' face fell and Remus' shoulders slumped. It was Lily who shook her head.
"That picture is obviously important to him," She maintained. "He'll come back for it."
"Yeah? When?" Sirius grouched. "Ten years from now? Why'd he have to run anyway? What did he think we were going to do? Toss him to some scientists for observation or something?"
"Let's go to the diner again tonight," Lily continued, ignoring Sirius' grumbling. "I have a feeling we might see him there. It's where we first met him after all."
"You always say that Lily," James said as gently as he could. "I don't think he's going to return to the diner."
But Lily was adamant and the men all agreed to go again in the end. They would soon realize that her persistence would pay off.
"You have something of mine."
The familiar voice made them all jump and the entire table turned to stare at the figure in the shadowy corner of the diner who hadn't been there a moment ago.
"How did you-" James started, cut off by Harry's dismissive wave as the man slid off the stool and strode over to their table.
"Magic," He said, a hint of irony underlying the word. "And don't worry about them," He added to Remus who had been looking around at the diner's other occupants now all slumped on a flat surface. "They're just sleeping."
"Now," Harry continued, turning to scan the table. "My photograph. Which one of you took it and which one of you has it now?"
"Sirius did," James announced, not liking the guarded expression on his son's face. He pulled out the photo from his jacket pocket. "And I do."
"Brilliant," Harry extended a hand. "If you would be kind enough to give it back, I'll be on my way."
"I don't think so," James said determinedly, holding the picture out of reach. "We want to talk."
"There's nothing to talk about," Harry said flatly. "I am not your son. I'm not even from this world."
"Then you're Harry from a different world," Sirius chimed in stubbornly. "You're still Harry. James and Lily's son. Me and Remus' godson."
Harry's jaw tightened for a moment before he glanced down. They followed his line of sight and caught a dim glow from under his shirt sleeve.
"What's that?" Remus enquired, leaning forward.
"Transportation device," Harry replied curtly. "It means I have to go."
"Go?" Lily frowned anxiously. "Go where? Look, I know you don't really accept us as your family. I suppose you're from- from a different world, a different dimension where you have your own family, but you are Harry and we don't mind, at all, where you're from. You can stay with us. We won't tell anyone."
Harry just sighed, looking even more tired as the device on his wrist glowed brighter. "It's not that simple. I have to go. I have no choice. I jump from world to world and I can never stop. Because of something that happened a while ago, I can't die either. I'm over two hundred years old, Lily."
The group sat there, momentarily stunned, but Sirius managed to gather enough wits to force out, "Isn't there a way for you to stay? Can't you take it off?"
"You think I haven't tried?" Harry shook his head, his expression weary. "There's no way I can stop. And I've got about fifteen minutes before I jump again, so please, give me back the photo."
James hesitated. This could, after all, be a trick. Harry could just as easily take the photo and teleport to China or Australia and they would simply stop looking, but...
But the desperation on Harry's face was very real and James slowly found himself extending the picture, reluctantly letting go as Harry accepted it.
"You could've stayed with us for the last month," He said instead, voice subdued. "You didn't have to run."
Harry smiled, and this one was a genuine one if a little sad. "I didn't want to get closer than I already have. It would've been even harder to leave in the end."
The device brightened again and Harry seemed to flash out of existence for a moment. Sirius, being the closest, instinctively closed a hand around Harry's wrist.
"Can't keep me here like that," Harry said lightly, patting Sirius' hand.
"Were they good to you?" Lily suddenly asked, gesturing at the photo with the hand that wasn't cradling her son. "Your parents?"
Harry was silent for a few seconds. "...I hear they were," He said at last. "But I don't really remember. They died when I was a baby."
"That's how you knew," Remus said with dawning realization. "That's how you knew about Peter, about Voldemort's attack on Halloween."
Harry inclined his head before flashing again.
"Why didn't you say anything?" Sirius demanded, not letting go of Harry's wrist. "About Peter?"
"Would you have believed me?" Harry asked dryly, his question directed more at James than anyone else. James flushed a little.
"Still," Sirius said mulishly. "You should have said. At least to me. I would've listened."
Harry arched a skeptical eyebrow at him but let the matter go as he absently glanced down at the photograph.
"What about us?" Remus asked tentatively, gesturing at himself and Sirius. "I suppose Voldemort succeeded in your world but we managed to kill him before he got to you?"
Harry slowly shook his head. "Not quite," He said, finally sitting down when it was clear they weren't just going to wave goodbye and let him go his way. "There's- well you've probably realized that there's... magic where I come from."
"Hah!" James crowed, glancing triumphantly over at Remus who was rolling his eyes. "I knew it!"
Harry stared at them with a look of bemusement on his face, but continued his explanation when all four turned to look at him again.
"To make a long story short, Voldemort tried to kill me but the curse rebounded and killed him instead," He paused before amending, "For a while, anyway. But that's not important. Pettigrew ran for it that night and managed to frame Sirius for my parents' murders."
They all looked horrified and all the blood had drained from Sirius' face.
"...We should've killed him when we had the chance," Sirius spat out at last. "I was James' best friend there too, right? And Remus would never believe-"
Harry stared at them, features carefully blank as he chose his next words. "All the evidence was against you. Pettigrew did a good job. Remus couldn't have done anything."
The vague wording made Remus and Lily frown but neither pressed for detail as Sirius slumped, looking dejected. "So I went to prison for it?"
Harry nodded, glancing down when the device flashed another warning. "Twelve years."
Sirius blanched as James paled. "Twelve years?"
"Who took care of you then?" Lily asked, her arms tightening around baby Harry. "Remus?"
Harry shook his head. "Remus was otherwise occupied. I grew up with Petunia."
"Petunia?" Lily repeated in disbelief. "My sister? She hates me! We had a falling out years ago! She didn't even come to my wedding!"
Harry shrugged. "No difference there. We never liked each other. I mostly just stayed out of her way."
Lily looked slightly faint and James looked murderous. "That's insane," He muttered. "No offense, Harry, but your world doesn't sound all that nice."
"It wasn't," Harry said tersely, grimacing when he flickered again. "It's almost time." There was an awkward pause when he opened his mouth to say something only to close it again a moment later, apparently not knowing what to say.
Lily stood up abruptly, passing baby Harry to James before whirling around and wrapping a shocked Harry in a tight hug.
"No matter where you go," Lily started fiercely. "No matter what time or world or universe, remember that we'll always be thinking of you. Take care of yourself. And I promise we'll raise our Harry to the best of our ability."
When she pulled back, her eyes were slightly teary but she found that she didn't care because Harry was blinking rather rapidly back at her.
"Thanks," He mumbled.
"I think we should be thanking you," Sirius announced, pulling Harry into a tight hug of his own. "I don't know what I'd do if Voldemort had succeeded that night. Gone after Peter and get myself framed and thrown into jail like your Sirius I suppose. So thank you."
"We'll miss you," Remus offered a warm smile as Sirius shoved Harry gently in his direction. Wrapping him in a gentle hug, he added, "And my students are going to miss having you in class."
Harry managed a choked laugh before finally turning to James.
James had stood, passing his son back to his wife again as he looked at the man before him. This was what his son would look like when he grew up. Not as jaded, not as tired, but he hoped his Harry's character would turn out just like this Harry's because James could honestly say he would be proud to have him as his son.
Perhaps some of that pride had entered his expression because Harry flushed a little and glanced away for a moment. James knew he wouldn't have to say it out loud.
"You'll find it," He said instead, meeting Harry's gaze evenly. "You're looking for a way to stop jumping, aren't you? And the immortal bit? You'll find it one day. I know it."
Harry stared back at him, an emotion too fast for James to catch flashing through his eyes. "I reckon I will," Harry replied at last. "Thanks, James."
"Sounds odd to hear my own son call me by name," James grinned before pulling him into as tight a hug as Sirius had. "Take care of yourself. We'll miss you."
Harry nodded before pulling away, carefully stepping from their table as the device glowed brighter. Sirius jerked a little in his seat as if he was holding back the urge to leap up and somehow physically keep Harry there.
"They'll wake up once I'm gone," Harry said, tilting his head at the other people in the diner as he tucked his photo away.
There was a general round of nods before Lily spoke up one last time. "One more thing, Harry. The box you gave us. We found the first letter of each of our names on each panel, but what do the animals mean?"
Harry blinked, evidently surprised, but a small grin made its way onto his face. "In my world, people could change into certain animals, Animagi, based on their characteristics. My dad was a stag, Sirius was a dog, Remus... well he could change into a wolf of sorts, and I thought the doe fitted my mum, even though she wasn't an Animagus. A stag for justice and friendship, a dog for loyalty and faithfulness, a wolf for courage and guardianship, and a doe for love and harmony."
He paused, studying the pleased expressions all around. He could feel the familiar tugging in his chest again and knew his time was up.
"And the falcon?" James asked almost urgently as Harry flashed again.
Harry weighed his options before deciding one last act of magic wouldn't hurt. "A falcon for freedom."
And within the span of a heartbeat, Harry had changed into his Animagus form, a beat of his wings pushing him into the air as the device finally took him away.
It would be the last time he would ever see his family again, alive and well, but he supposed the looks of childish delight mixed with genuine affection on their faces would be a good final memory to carry with him for the rest of his life.
Finished! That's it. Just a fun side-project completed in three chapters that I've managed to whip up between exams.
Review and tell me what you think!