Summary: AU. At the end of James’s sixth year, Harry appears in Godric’s Hollow, the victim of a Dark Ritual that has stolen his memory. Harry/James I.
For: TwinFetish—Merry Christmas!
Warnings: Time Travel, AU, prejudice, underage relationship (James 17, Harry 14), incest.
Hazel eyes blinked open when the Hogwarts Express began to slow as it reached London. Stretching, James Potter blearily looked out the window into the magical fog, taking in the view of the city and trying to catch a glimpse of platform nine and three-quarters, although he knew they weren’t close enough yet.
“Another article!” Sirius groaned as he looked over the latest edition of the Daily Prophet that appeared to have arrived while James slept. “Can you believe it, Moony?”
“I don’t see why it bothers you so much,” Remus replied good-naturedly, getting up and cracking his back, making James smile at the habit. It meant he was feeling better after the full moon.
“You don’t see why it bothers me? You don’t see why it bothers me?”
“You said that,” Peter pointed out, reaching for his trunk, which James quickly grabbed for him. He knew Peter was anxious to get home to his mother’s Muggle cooking. That and he wasn’t quite tall enough.
“James,” Sirius whined. “Explain.”
He sighed, his mind trying to focus on what exactly Sirius was talking about. Over the past month, all James could think about is how one of Sirius’s pranks almost got another student killed, and how he had almost died trying to save the ingrate. Nightmares plagued him and he found himself perpetually exhausted—and taking naps at odd times. “What are we talking about?”
“The Peregrine!” Sirius proclaimed loudly, accentuating the final syllable ‘green,’ and James sighed. He should have known.
Ever since the unknown pureblood had appeared mysteriously in Cornwall, all of wizarding England had been enthralled with the story. He suffered from magical amnesia and had appeared to have been kidnapped, and some dark ritual performed on him before he appeared in a magical village, only remembering his first name and basic information. A simple blood spell had confirmed that he was a member of an old English wizarding family and most likely a pureblood, and distant relatives now had custody of him. Still, nothing about him was known, and the Ministry believed that somehow He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was involved, though why You-Know-Who would kidnap a pureblood was a mystery to James.
“I don’t understand what the problem is,” James tiredly confessed as he took down his own trunk and shrunk it with a flick of his wand. He had been seventeen for three months and was glad he could now legally perform magic outside of Hogwarts.
“Pureblood heirs just don’t appear out of nowhere!” he insisted as the train finally rolled to a stop. James looked out of the window, startled. He hadn’t realized so much time had passed.
“Well, this one did,” Remus mused as the four boys left the compartment and began to stream toward the train’s exit.
“Evans!” James called out as he spotted the red-haired witch that he had been trying to impress for—well, since the moment he met her nearly seven years ago.
Evans turned, a wary look in her eye, and waited for him with her friend Higgins. “Potter,” she greeted, her voice showing little emotion, which was odd for her.
“Evans,” he said again, smiling a little, although not as exuberantly as he usually did. “Looking forward to the holidays back up north?”
“Is that the reason you stopped me?” she asked, huffing. “Really, Potter,” she continued as the pair stepped off of the train and onto the platform.
“Just being friendly,” he said quietly as he glanced around, not seeing his parents. “Also wondering if maybe you’d like to come down to Cornwall for a weekend—or I could come up to Yor—“
His voice trailed off as his eyes caught onto the thin frame of a boy, who was staring at him with a small smile on his face, his head tilted to one side. Raven locks, messier and just as dark as James’s, fell across his forehead with haunted green eyes looking desperately into his.
“Who’s that?” James asked suddenly, not bothering to turn back to Evans. He had always loved her bright eyes, but there was something about this stranger’s eyes, just as bright and yet tinged with a desperate need for affection and approval and older than the boy’s fourteen or fifteen years, that just drew James to them.
Evans glanced over and looked at the stranger in curiosity. “I would assume he’s a cousin of yours. He looks almost exactly like you did a few years ago—though he’s handsomer,” she added as a jibe.
James didn’t notice, especially as the boy was now making his way toward them.
“James Potter?” he asked in a quiet voice and James could only nod dumbly. “Harry Peregrine. Charlus and Dorea will be along in a moment, they’re doing something with the car.”
He nodded dumbly, completely captivated by the nervous young wizard before him.
“Peregrine?” Evans said quietly, her green eyes widening. “Are you The Peregrine?”
Harry flinched and James turned an accusing glance at Evans. “Really, Evans, that’s a bit tactless.”
“Tact?” she bit back, her temper flaring. “What do you know about ‘tact’?”
James sighed and turned back with a wide smile to Harry. “Are you a friend of my parents then?”
“They’re my guardians now. I hope you and—Sirius—don’t mind.” His gaze shifted to the side and he pushed his hands into the pockets of his deep purple robes, clearly uncomfortable.
“Course not, the more the merrier,” James said kindly, barely even noticing when Evans said that she thought she saw her mother and disappeared into the crowd. “How old are you, Harry?”
“Nearly fifteen. Dorea has me studying for my Hogwarts entrance exams so I can be a fifth year. You just finished your sixth year, right?”
James nodded, falling into step with his younger relative. “Yes.”
“And you’re a Gryffindor?” The tone of Harry’s voice surprised James. It seemed to be laced with a hidden memory, almost as if Harry knew he should know something about it but couldn’t quite remember. “And that girl? Evans? Is she a Gryffindor too?”
“Yes, Evans and I both are.”
“Evans,” he murmured, turning the word over his tongue before shaking his head absently. “Is she a friend of yours?”
James paused and glanced back toward Evans, who was now happily moving toward the platform’s barrier with her Muggle parents. “She hates me,” he finally said.
Harry looked up, startled. “I’m sorry.”
James shrugged. “Nothing to be sorry for. It is what it is.” He turned a small smile on his new—friend? cousin? “So, you’re a Potter?”
“That’s what they tell me,” Harry tried to joke, but it fell flat. He glanced apprehensively toward James who stopped and brushed Harry’s fringe out of his eyes, frowning slightly at a lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.
“Welcome to the family,” he murmured, staring intently into the haunted eyes that had captured his attention instantly, and he felt his heart clench.
He’d never felt like this before—this longing, this want. James wanted to know everything about Harry, even though he knew that Harry couldn’t remember much of anything. He wanted to know what he looked like when he slept, what made him smile—James wanted to be the reason that made Harry smile. He wanted to give the love Harry’s eyes were unconsciously pleading for, the approval he needed—be everything to Harry.
Yes, he’d dated witches in the past, for a week or so at a time, and he had pursued Lily relentlessly since she had first actively started hating him—but this, this was something different.
“Who’s this?” Sirius asked, coming upon the pair who were just staring avidly at each other.
Harry glanced shyly away.
“Sirius,” James greeted, turning toward his best friend. “My cousin, Harry.”
Sirius glanced at Harry curiously, taking in his messy hair and new looking glasses that were perched on his nose. “Excellent! A little Potter.” He grinned, not completely kindly. “Maybe he’ll be better than Regulus.” He sighed dramatically. “Oh, look, Snivellus!”
Harry glanced in the direction of Snape and sighed. “I doubt his Mother named him Snivellus.—And it’s Peregrine. Harry Peregrine.”
Sirius’s eyes narrowed. “Great. Just great,” he muttered before walking away, Harry staring at him in confusion.
“What did I say?” His sharp green gaze turned back to James who inhaled sharply.
“Don’t mind him,” he whispered quietly, entwining their fingers. He smiled to himself when Harry didn’t pull away from him. “He’s in a—mood, and I think he’s confused by your appearance in general.”
“He reads The Prophet.”
James nodded and Harry sighed.
“Can’t be any worse than what I’m used to,” he whispered, his eyes going wide when he realized what he’d said, almost like he hadn’t known he thought such a thing until the words had left his lips.
James just stared at him, entranced, before glancing up and seeing his parents smiling at the two of them, a petulant Sirius standing a little away from them. “Come on,” James murmured, tugging on Harry’s hand. “Let’s get you home, and you can tell me all about your studies.”
… … … … … … …
James laughed quietly as he watched as Harry chewed on his bottom lip.
“It’s not funny,” Harry murmured as he shuffled the pack of Tarot cards James had ordered specifically for him to relearn on.
James’s grandmother, although not a seer, had been fond of Divination and had ground into her son Charlus the importance of every practitioner having his own deck. At Hogwarts, James knew the students used school decks, but then the cards were less reliable as they absorbed so many different auras and intents. It was often a wizard tradition to have a person’s first deck given to them as a gift, in a sign of faith and good luck, so James had carefully studied descriptions of various decks before presenting the one his Harry was now using.
A smile played on his lips. In the two weeks Harry had been living with them, James had come to view him as his own. The younger boy had become so dear to him, precious, every movement and laugh like a balm to James’s soul.
He’d never been in love before. James had always thought it would be loud—like a prank—but this all consuming quietness and need was so much sweeter, and he knew he could never love anyone but his Harry.
Every emotion he had ever felt for anyone else paled in comparison—his childish and egotistical pursuit of Evans, the cleverest witch in their year—his devotion to his beloved parents—his brotherly love for Sirius and the other Marauders.
“It’s alright, Harry,” he finally murmured, reaching out to run his hand through Harry’s hair. “Just take your time.”
Harry huffed and finally set the deck on the table, placing it into three piles. “Choose one,” he commanded, picking up the book on Tarocchi and flipping it open, checking the exact spread.
James leaned over and let his hands hover over each of the piles, before finally choosing the first one.
“Alright,” Harry breathed and picked it up, brushing the other two aside.
James smiled at the casual gesture.
“Three card spread, then.” He bit his bottom lip and then flipped over the first card. “This is your past, obviously,” Harry said, making his voice deepen so it would sound mysterious, his haunted eyes glowing in mischief. He glanced at the card and frowned. “Er-right. It’s the Reversed Fool. That’s not good.”
James looked at him curiously.
“Let me double check this,” he murmured, reaching for the book, but James placed his hand over Harry’s quickly. “You don’t need to check. You know this. Go on, give me my reading.”
Harry blinked and a slight blush bled along his cheekbones before nodding. He cleared his throat nervously, but he never took his eyes away from James. “In the past you were a bit—rash. Irresponsible. You never thought things through, and people could easily have gotten hurt.”
James swallowed nervously, but nodded. “I know,” he consented. “That’s over now.”
Gazing at him in thought, Harry nodded. “Now, your present.” He turned another card over, and smiled to himself.
“She’s good then?” James asked, looking at the queen of cups.
“She’s one of the four strongest cards of the Minor Arcanum,” Harry informed him knowledgably, showing that he had taken James’s encouragement to apply himself to this particular subject to heart. “Water of Water. Water symbolizes emotions and intuition.” He nodded, a secret smile forming on his lips.
“What does she mean then?” James asked, bringing Harry abruptly out of his thoughts.
“Oh-er-right. She means that in your present you are compassionate and patient. Whatever path you’re on, you’re walking it with honesty and a purity of spirit. Basically, she’s telling you you’re my James.” He blushed and James grinned.
“As opposed to anyone else’s?” James teased softly, anxious for the answer.
Harry’s pink-tinged cheeks darkened. “Er-that’s right.”
A pleasant silence fell over them as they each drifted into thought, until finally Harry sighed and turned over the last card. “This is your future,” he said as he glanced down and then started visibly.
“The lovers,” James murmured happily before looking lovingly at the boy before him. “I think I know what that means.”
“It does have a deeper meaning, you know, other than—“ he waved his hands in embarrassment over the card.
James leaned forward again and took Harry’s free hand in his own, stroking the palm lightly before entwining their fingers. “Tell me then,” he whispered. “Tell me what this means—for us.”
Harry swallowed nervously, the blush now permanent on his face and neck, before answering. “Companionship, trust, a partnership, communication. The card tells not just of—that,” he said, referencing the literal meaning, “but trusting your instincts. So, er, trust your instincts.”
James squeezed his hand in acknowledgement before letting it go, allowing Harry to sweep up the cards and begin to shuffle them again.
“And you? What do the cards say for you, Clairvoyance?” James asked, bowing his head in a pureblood form of respect to those who had the power to read the future.
Harry glanced at him, confused, before setting the cards into three piles and choosing the middle one, and quickly laying out his own spread. The five of cups. The ten of swords. Judgment.
“What does it mean?”
“Ah—that would be telling, wouldn’t it?” Harry teased playfully. “A reading is confidential between the reader and the one he reads for.”
James blushed before lowering his eyes. “Of course, Harry. I’m sorry.”
Harry laughed, leaning into James before moving away. “I was only teasing you,” he admitted before his face clouded. “The past—the five of cups. Disappointment. A conflict of some sort. It could even have been the war. There was much sadness before I came here.”
James pulled Harry toward him, an arm around his waist and his face buried in Harry’s thick hair. “I’m sorry,” he said softly and Harry sighed.
“It’s over now—the past. Now, the present,” he began happily, “is much better.”
Looking at the cards, James narrowed his eyes in confusion. “She’s getting attacked—impaled almost—by ten swords,” he remarked on the illustration.
Harry laughed brightly, causing a shiver to run down James’s spine. “True. There’s been an ending, one that could not have been avoided, hence the swords hovering above her. The worst, though, is over, and I’m emerging from the darkness of the past—it could even symbolize coming into a new life after my amnesia. She doesn’t look back, it’s unneeded.” He frowned. “The last one’s a bit odd. The twentieth card. Judgment—Judicamentum in the Latin. In the future there will be a rebirth, an awakening, a resurrection—almost like a phoenix rising from the ashes.” He smiled. “It would have been beautiful if one were painted into this winter scene.”
“A happy future then,” James said, smiling.
Harry turned to him, his eyes alight and bright, affection flowing from them. “Yes, James. A happy future.”
… … … … … … …
“Come on, Prongs,” Sirius whined, his broom in hand. “Come play a game of Quidditch.”
“I can’t,” he responded as he magically washed the dishes. “We’re doing tea leaves today.”
“Tea leaves? Tea leaves?”
“Stop repeating yourself, Padfoot,” James sighed.
“At this rate, that beloved cousin of yours will end up in Ravenclaw, and then the rest of us will have to put you back together.”
James hummed angrily at the back of his throat. “I’d do no such thing, and I don’t see him as a Ravenclaw.”
“Oh, of course not. Your precious Greenie will be in Gryffindor with us,” Sirius said snidely.
“Don’t call him that!” James warned dangerously, his wand hovering in its movements.
“What? That’s the name the healers gave him, isn’t it, because he can’t remember his own? Pere-green, the traveler.”
“This is ridiculous,” James said to himself, turning his back on his friend.
“You’re acting like a school girl who fancies someone. It’s like you don’t even care about Evans any more.”
“Well, maybe I don’t,” he responded coldly and Sirius’s jaw dropped.
“You can’t be serious.”
“No, that’s you,” he replied quietly, but Sirius didn’t release a bark-like laugh as he usually would have. He sighed.
“No—you’re crazy about Evans. Always have been.”
“Well, I’m not anymore,” James responded, levitating a pan into the sink, which held magically scrubbing brushes that were doing the work for him. His mother believed that chores built character, and insisted that all of the young men in the house completed them. Harry had happily volunteered to cook breakfast a few days a week, which had surprised James, but he didn’t question it.
“I don’t believe it.”
“Then don’t believe it, Padfoot. If you’re too blind not to see that I haven’t mentioned Evans in weeks, then by all means, be blind.”
“Stop acting like a love sick fool. He’s your cousin! Next thing you know, you’ll be spilling our secrets to him.”
“You’re one to talk,” James snorted. “You lured Snape down to Moony—that’s tantamount to telling, and your own parents are second cousins for Merlin’s sake! Our connection is more distant than that!”
“You’ve changed,” Sirius accused. “He’s changed you.”
James spun around angrily. “If he has, it’s for the better, and I changed since that stupid prank you pulled that almost got another student killed!”
The sound of breaking china near the door pulled their attention away from each other, only to see a stunned Harry looking warily between them. “Sorry,” he murmured, bending down to pick up the pieces, before James rushed over and pulled him away.
“Let me,” he offered, waving his wand and depositing the pieces in the bin. He breathed in Harry’s scent, the smell of dusk and fresh grass, before pulling away. “Are you alright?”
“Yes, of course.” Harry shrugged.
James grabbed his hands anyway and closely inspected them before sighing in relief.
“I guess I need a new teacup,” Harry said lightly, but his shoulders were tense. “And tea. I need new tea.”
“That can be arranged,” James said with forced cheerfulness as he quickly stroked Harry’s cheek before walking over to the counter and charmed a kettle of water to start boiling.
Harry looked around the kitchen and saw Sirius leaning up against the wall, his broom clasped tightly in his hand. “Oh—do you play, Sirius?” he asked, trying desperately to connect to him. James knew that more so than with his parents, Harry felt a need for Sirius’s approval that he couldn’t quite explain. “We should get a game of Quidditch some time. I play Seeker, but I suppose I could play Chaser if needed to. Maybe Beater,” his nose scrunched up as if trying to recall something, although James knew he probably only caught occasional glimpses in his sleep.
A few nights before, he had crawled into James’s bed, saying he had dreamt of a cloaked figure and a dark ritual where his blood was forcefully taken from him, before his scar burned and then turned freezing cold. He had cried into James’s chest, and all James could do was stroke his back and brush his tears away, until Harry finally fell back asleep in his arms. Harry hadn’t wanted to sleep alone since, and James just prayed that his parents wouldn’t find out or if they did, they wouldn’t think he was molesting their ‘darling nephew.’
“Of course you play Seeker, Greenie,” Sirius bit back, his tone harsh and Harry instantly recoiled. “Grab everyone’s attention from a great player like James.”
“No—I-I didn’t—“ Harry began to stutter “—I-I’m just really fast. Used to being chased. That’s all.”
“Who’s chased you?” James asked quickly, looking up.
“Muggles,” Harry answered, not thinking about it. “Muggles. They think I’m a freak.”
Sirius’s eyes narrowed while James’s widened.
“Well,” James said after a moment. “The Muggles here are decently pleasant, and they know us although they think we’re, you know, Muggles. If anyone chases you here, they know we’ll come down on them hard.”
“Thank you, Jamie,” he whispered before taking a seat at the table.
“Jamie?” Sirius asked, jealousy burning in his eyes. “No one calls you Jamie!”
“Well, Harry does,” James answered. “I like it.”
“Course you would.”
“Well, I play Chaser and Harry seeker. You’re not a bad keeper or chaser. If we grab maybe three more players, we could give Harry a game.”
Sirius stared pointedly at him, and James looked away, both knowing he was only so keen because Harry liked to play.
“A seeker and two chasers?” Harry asked. “Or another keeper and two chasers?”
“Keeper and two chasers,” Sirius concluded for him. “Moony and Wormtail aren’t bad. We just need another player. Who lives around here?”
Only James noticed that Harry unconsciously flinched at the mention of the other two Marauders. “One of the Abbot brothers? One of them is about Harry’s age. It might be good for him to meet someone else his age before classes begin.”
“Fine,” Sirius muttered, leaning his broom up against the wall. “I’ll go write to everyone including Evans.”
He quickly walked out of the room, leaving a confused James behind him.
“Does this Evans not hate Sirius then?” Harry asked innocently, looking up at his cousin with large green eyes.
“No—she hates him, alright. Not as much as me, but still.” He bit his lip. It seemed that Sirius was trying to make him jealous, and not surprisingly it didn’t work at all.
… … … … … … …
“Owl post!” Harry called through the house happily a few days after the Quidditch match. James had noted that he and Remus had gotten along, though for some reason Harry hadn’t taken to Peter very well.
Remus had even tried to talk some sense into Sirius about his “Harry-hatred” problem, though it didn’t appear to have worked.
“I’ll get it!” he continued happily and James watched him as he paused in front of the partially opened door to the breakfast parlor.
Charlus laughed under his breath and turned to his wife at the breakfast table, neither noticing James’s presence. “He seems to have cheered up ever since James got back.”
She shared a knowing look with him. “Would you be—opposed—?”
“To the two of them?” he asked quietly and she must have nodded.
None of the boys had come down yet and it was just the two of them in the room—and the house elf.
“Normally, I would. It’s not done, of course, until an heir is produced.”
She sighed. “I was afraid you’d say that,” she admitted. “James is just so grounded since Harry came, and he is a Potter. They work so well together. It’s barely been a month and yet it’s clear that they’re in love.”
James ground his teeth and waited, wondering what his father would respond. He’d tried to be careful, but apparently his mother knew him far too well. She always had.
“As I was saying, Dorea, normally I would be opposed, but he is a Potter and, as far as I’m concerned, our second son. I want him to be an official member of this family. Whoever his parents are—they’re either dead or don’t deserve him, as they haven’t claimed him yet despite the letters we’ve sent out to the family. If he is ever ‘claimed,’ he’ll be wealthy, which wouldn’t hurt, and if not, then it’s infinitely superior than our son chasing after that Muggle-born witch, no matter how clever she is.”
James breathed out a sigh of relief at the answer.
“You shouldn’t say such things,” Dorea chided. “You know the times are changing and we’ve tried to raise our son without that particular prejudice.”
“I know, my dear. It is a relief, nonetheless, to my heart. As to heirs, they can always employ that Muggle method of gaining children. I’m sure we could get a Weasley or some other witch fallen on hard times to carry it, making it magical. We’re certainly wealthy enough.”
“Jamie!” Harry called happily as he bounded down the stairs, two letters clasped in his hand, before dragging his now blushing cousin through the parlor door.
It was now obvious to both of his parents that James had been standing near the door when Harry had come upon him.
“Two letters from the same owl. One for you and one for your friend.” He sat down happily, pulling James down next to him, and waited for breakfast.
As it was Sunday, which for some reason Harry thought was special, Dorea insisted he didn’t make breakfast and instead the house elf took over that task. James wondered if Harry’s parents, whoever they were, had Muggle influences on their life and actually attended Church.
“Here you go,” he continued, handing over a letter before setting the other one on Sirius’s empty plate. “He was the most adorable owl. I put him in the owlry so he could recuperate. He seems to have had a long journey.” He looked at James expectantly who was taking a sip of his morning tea.
“Thank you, Harry,” he said quickly and saw that his approval was exactly what Harry had needed. He smiled. His Harry was still nervous, always wanting to make sure he did everything right, and craving affection. Sometimes he thought someone had hurt Harry badly, but he never liked to dwell on it. Harry was safe now, he belonged to them, and his parents even approved.
“Who’s it from?” Dorea asked before urging Harry to eat more toast as he was ‘a growing boy.’ “Remus or Peter?”
James picked it up and inspected it, dropping it in surprise. “It’s from Evans.”
His father’s eyes narrowed, a mild accusation in his gaze.
James knew he deserved it. He’d not only listened in but the letter could possibly mean that he was trifling with his Harry, which he would never do.
“Sirius got one, too,” he said softly before quickly opening the letter and skimming the contents. “That’s odd,” he murmured and all three of the Potters looked at him expectantly. “Er-she thinks I’m playing a prank on her because Sirius has been asking her to go on a date with him via owl. Apparently he’s even gone up to Mill Town a few times.”
“That explains the mystery,” Harry said quietly before leaning his elbows on the table.
Dorea clucked her tongue at him because of his lack of table etiquette, and he quickly removed his arms with a blush. She smiled at him approvingly.
“Mystery?” Charlus inquired.
“He’s been missing a few times over the last week. I thought he was going over to the Abbots’ or even just around Godric’s Hollow.” He shrugged. “I win two galleons though.”
James scowled at the letter. “I’ll pay you later.”
“James!” Dorea said angrily. “You should not gamble or encourage your cousin to do the same. No matter your friendship—you are an example to him.”
He looked up. “Yes, Mum,” he said quietly, setting down the letter. He nudged Harry’s knee and smiled at him.
Dorea and Charlus exchanged glances.
A few minutes later, Sirius walked in, clearly having just awakened, and sat down with a clunk.
“There’s something wrong with my mirror,” he stated, his voice betraying his wariness. “At first I thought it was being funny, but now—it’s just odd.”
“My reflection has aged at least twenty years, and I can see my room at Grimmauld place in the background.”
“How strange,” Charlus commented. “I’ll call someone to look at it, hopefully before you go back to Hogwarts. It will be fixed before Christmas at any rate.”
“Mirrors,” Dorea sighed. “They can play the oddest tricks at time.”
Sirius sighed, but said nothing. He almost poured marmalade on his letter, but fortunately realized it was there, before snapping it up with a satisfied smirk, not noticing everyone’s confused expression.
“Well, Sirius,” Dorea said after a moment. “Why don’t you ask your young lady here one afternoon?”
Sirius looked up, startled.
“Or should I perhaps?” She turned her hazel gaze to her husband. “She won’t think it’s a prank if I issue the invitation, do you think? We could even invite her Muggle parents.”
“They’re up in Yorkshire,” James supplied helpfully. “She also has a sister—Petunia, I think.”
“Oh, dear,” Dorea sighed, trying to be a supportive surrogate mother to Sirius. She had spent the past year raising him, and was his first cousin twice removed through the Blacks, after all. “When we go to London, then? Hogwarts letters should be coming in a few days. If I send it now then we can arrange everything.”
“Petunia hates magic,” James said again as clearly Sirius was unable to speak.
“Hmm. Muggles,” Charlus sighed. “They can react like that.”
“Yes, dear. But this is Sirius’s heart we’re talking about. If the young lady went so far to send James a letter accusing him of creating an elaborate hoax, we clearly need to do something.”
Sirius snapped out of his shock. “Evans wrote you?”
James nodded. “Yes. A rather scathing letter. She called me a toe-rag—again. Why am I always a ‘toe-rag’?”
Harry laughed. “She really does hate you, then.”
“Watch out, James, or Greenie will be jealous.” He looked at his friend, clearly hoping for just such a reaction from at least one of them.
“Sirius!” Charlus said. “You may be my nephew, but I won’t tolerate such name calling in this house.”
“Of course, sir. Sorry, sir,” he said quickly. To James he didn’t sound sorry at all.
“I’ll send it to Mrs. Evans, then. Is that alright?” she asked Sirius and James.
“I wanted to take Harry separately to Diagon. It’s his first time and everything and I wanted to get him an owl for a birthday present.”
Harry beamed up at him.
“Alright, dear,” Dorea responded. “If this young Miss Evans really does think you are a toe-rag, it might be better if you do not attend. We’ll have to make reservations at a Muggle restaurant, if the sister decides to come.” She quickly got up, dabbing her lips with a napkin. “I’ll see to everything,” she murmured before bustling out of the room, her pale pink robes swishing around her.
James looked at Sirius critically, trying to decide if he really did like Evans or if this was some plot of his. He sighed. Well, it really didn’t matter now, his mother was involved and Sirius hadn’t protested—or hadn’t been able to.
… … … … … … …
“Another letter?” James asked on the last day of July. Harry had evicted him from the kitchen—and the entire house in general—for several hours, and he found himself walking outside where he found Sirius sitting on the front steps.
“Yes,” he said defiantly. “From Evans—Lily. She and her parents are actually coming to London next week.”
“That’s nice,” James said quietly, his eyes traveling down the lane. “So, you fancy her then?”
“Obviously,” Sirius drawled aristocratically.
James laughed. “Cousin Walburga won’t be pleased if this goes anywhere.”
“If?” Sirius asked, his dark eyes flashing dangerously. “What do you mean ‘if’?”
“Well,” James trailed off. “You’ve never had a girlfriend for more than a few weeks, and even that’s long for you.”
Sirius scoffed. “You’ve only ever had a date for Valentine’s Day, and that’s only because Lily said you couldn’t get one.”
“I didn’t want to date anyone—except her,” he said indicating the letter, “though I don’t want to anymore,” he added for both of their benefits.
Sirius snorted. “I can’t believe you, Prongs. You’ve been desperate to get Lily to go out with you just once for three years, and now that I’m going to lunch with her family you don’t even care.”
James shrugged. “What can I say? She’s uninteresting.”
“And Greenie’s interesting now? What happens when you get bored with him?”
His eyes narrowed. “Don’t call him Greenie.”
“Of course not. Perfect Peregrine. He can do no wrong.”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Padfoot. He’s just as human as any of us—though that’s what makes him perfect, his imperfections.”
Sirius turned sad eyes to him. “Why, Prongs, why?”
“You’re being ridiculous again. You’ve hated him since before you met him—you took a dislike to him since you first read about how he was found wandering around Godric’s Hollow. I have no idea why.”
Sirius growled, the sound low and canine.
“Why are you fighting this?” James begged. “Can’t you see that I love him? That I fell in love with him almost instantly?”
“He’s a child, a kid.”
“He’s only two years younger than us and I can wait. I will wait. I’d willingly wait a century—for him. Don’t fight this. Don’t make me choose, Sirius, because no matter what you say or do, I will spend the rest of my life with him. My parents even approved when I went and sought their consent yesterday.”
“Y-you sought their consent?” Sirius asked, eyes wide. “But that would mean—“
“Yes, I want to bond with him. I will bond with him. I know he loves me.”
Sirius stood up and walked a few steps away, before turning again, his hands in his hair. “What about us? The Marauders?”
“Padfoot,” James sighed, coming up to his friend and pressing their foreheads together. “Nothing will change unless you make it change. You are my best friend, always have been.” He grabbed the back of Sirius’s neck when he made to move away. “You are my brother, but Harry has my heart.”
Sirius nodded quietly, his dark eyes looking into James’s hazel gaze.
The creak of the door met their ears, followed closely by a gasp. Springing away from Sirius, James looked up and saw the confused and hurt look on Harry’s face. “Sorry,” he whispered, too quickly, before turning and fleeing back into the house.
“Damn,” James swore, before taking off after him, wrenching the door open. He looked around the entrance hall and saw his startled father.
“What’s wrong with Harry, James?” he asked, but James was already running toward the kitchen. “James?” he called fruitlessly.
“Harry,” James gasped, as he found him in the kitchen, hunched over a fresh cake that he was icing. His shoulders were shaking, almost as if he were laughing, but James could hear the quiet sobs emitting from him. “Oh, Harry,” he whispered before walking up behind him and wrapping his arms around his waist.
Harry instantly stiffened and tried to free himself, but James just held him tighter.
“He’s just a friend, Harry. I swear. Just a friend,” he murmured, his breath ghosting across Harry’s neck. “We were fighting and he was upset. That’s all it was.”
Breaking out into loud sobs, Harry dropped the knife and turned in James’s embrace, burying his face in his chest. “I’m sorry—I shouldn’t have—I just—“ he cried, and James just held him closely as he continued to weep.
“I love you, Harry. I want you.”
“But I saw—“
“It was nothing. Sirius seems to fancy Evans, and we were having a fight about you. That’s all.”
Harry continued to shiver and shudder and grabbed swaths of James’s robes as he tried to calm himself. “I’m sorry—it’s just no one’s wanted me before—but you did—a-and I loved you somehow before I ever saw you. Aunt Dorea would talk about you and, I don’t know—it’s stupid—I don’t know what I’m saying. Ever since I heard your name I wanted you to love me—a-and want me back.—I thought you did, t-too.”
“I do, I do,” James swore, rubbing circles on Harry’s back. “I wanted to make you happy since I saw you. One look at you and everything was erased, including a crush that my friends never thought would end. Thank Merlin I found the cure in you.”
Muffled laughter met his ears and James smiled.
“Evans, believe it or not.”
Harry pulled away and looked into his hazel eyes, shocked. “The one who calls you a toe-rag?”
“The one who calls me a toe-rag.”
He laughed slightly and James reached forward, brushing the tears from his face.
“But I’m cured,” he reminded Harry. “Only you. I’ll wait for you to grow up.”
“What about Aunt D-Dorea and Uncle Charlus?”
James smiled happily. “I asked them first, as their son, for permission to ask you to be my bondmate—“
Harry gasped, and James lovingly traced his cheek.
“—Then, as your suitor, I asked for permission to court you, for the purpose of a lifelong bond.”
“Yes,” James swore, before tentatively leaning forward and brushing his lips against Harry’s.
Harry, in his excitement and inexperience, stretched upward too quickly and their noses collided, but James only smiled before taking Harry’s face in his hands and kissing him softly.
“They said ‘yes’ to both of my petitions,” he murmured and Harry leaned forward to capture his lips again. The pressure was gentle, too gentle, but unbearably sweet.
Harry moaned when James finally pulled away and there were tears in his eyes, although he was smiling. “Thank you,” he whispered.
“The best birthday present I’ve ever had,” and with that James leaned down and kissed Harry again.
“It will be fine,” Harry assured Sirius as he bounced lightly from one foot to another. “Fine.”
“You sure, Greenie?” Most of the malice was now gone from the nickname. James, however, narrowed his eyes in disapproval.
“The worst she could do is call you a toe-rag—I think.”
Charlus and Dorea had briefly left their three charges in Diagon Alley to go to The Glass Slipper, an internationally famous pureblood jeweler, to satisfy a pureblood tradition that Harry had never heard of.
“True. She is rather fond of that insult,” James added in, his arm wrapping around Harry’s waist.
“So—you fancy this Evans?” Harry asked.
“Yes. Never as much as James did—“ James’s visage darkened, but Sirius ignored him, “but now that he’s courting you—yes.”
Harry smiled slightly. “I’m glad, then. I want you to be happy.”
Sirius looked at him surprised. “Why?” he asked, astonished.
Harry shrugged and looked away. “Why not?” They watched several people pass them before Harry began again. “So, she hates you, right?”
He smirked. “She does.”
“This should be interesting for you, then.”
“Padfoot,” James said conversationally, “is rather good at charming witches. He can talk them into almost anything what with his handsome good looks and his aristocratic charm.”
“Prongs,” Sirius countered, “can’t talk a witch into anything, including a date.”
“Too bad he’s taken, then,” Harry added in with a smirk. “He’ll never get a chance to prove you wrong.”
“You better be careful, Prongs,” Sirius teased. “Greenie here has a tongue of fire.”
“I have no idea what that means,” Harry responded, Sirius letting out a bark-like laugh.
“I guess we better get to The White Witch,” James said, checking his watch. “Mum and Dad seem to be taking awhile, and they won’t seat Muggles without a pureblood escort or party already present.”
“Why did Aunt Dorea choose it then?” Harry questioned.
“It’s the best of the best, Greenie. Dorea is a Black and old ways die hard.”
Harry nodded, but looked like he didn’t quite understand.
“It will only be for a few minutes, Harry,” James assured him, “and then we’ll go buy you a crystal ball, which is the only form of divination we’ve yet to cover.”
“Padfoot!” James admonished, and he fell quiet.
“Sorry, but there hasn’t been a Clairvoyant in the Potter family since before I can remember!”
The three wizards entered The White Witch, and the Maitre d’ instantly bowed to them. “Mr. Black, Mr. Potter. Your reservation is ready. May I ask the name of your guest? I do not believe I’ve seen him before.”
Harry paled, but James just pulled him slightly toward him. “My cousin, Harry Peregrine.”
The Maitre d’s expression didn’t change, but instead he bowed formally to Harry. “Welcome home, Mr. Peregrine. Welcome home.” He then led the three of them to a large table in the center of the restaurant—purebloods attended The White Witch, after all, to be seen, and it appeared Dorea had specifically requested that they be seen by everyone—and they quickly took their seats.
“That was—refreshing,” Harry said hesitantly. He eyed the glass of water in front of him, but didn’t take it, knowing that this place was for either his aunt or his uncle.
“They bring new glasses,” James informed him, reading his mind. “And a whole new place setting for situations like ours.”
“Alright then,” Harry said, taking a sip of the ice cold water, smiling.
Sirius grumbled something under his breath that sounded suspiciously like ‘Greenie’ and ‘Muggles.’ Neither James nor Harry paid attention to him.
“Does he know we’re expecting Muggles?” Sirius asked, his head tilting toward the Maitre d’.
“Mum would have told him—she’s terribly precise about everything.”
The door opened, admitting an elderly couple, and right behind them were Evans and her two parents.
“You stand when they reach the table, and don’t sit again until Evans and her mother do,” James whispered to him and Harry nodded.
“He needs an etiquette book,” Sirius noted, his voice slightly kind. “Especially if you bond.”
“Not until Christmas,” Harry begged, getting to his feet with Sirius and James. “I don’t think I can add anything else on top of two years worth of Divination and five years of Potions theory in one summer.”
“We’ll get you in the Slugclub yet,” James promised and Harry’s eyebrows rose.
“Don’t be silly, Prongs, Slughorn will be all over him anyway once he finds out he’s The Peregrine. Ah—Lily!” he greeted.
“Black,” she said, reluctantly taking the seat next to him.
As soon as Mrs. Evans sat—she was a pretty woman with blonde hair although her neck was a bit long—Harry gratefully retook his seat.
“Where are Mr. and Mrs. Potter?” Mr. Evans inquired. His face was kind and he had flaming red hair and strangely reminded Harry of someone, though he couldn’t place who it was.
“Mum and Dad are on their way,” James responded.
“They’re picking out a betrothal gift,” Sirius added in. “It’s an ancient pureblood tradition.”
Mrs. Evans looked at him politely. “We haven’t been introduced.”
“Oh, right. Sirius Orion Black. My best friend James Potter,” he motioned to his friend, “and his cousin Harry Peregrine of the House of Potter.”
Evans blushed slightly for some reason.
“What does this tradition entail?” Mrs. Evans asked politely, interest clearly written on her face.
“When a pureblood wizard comes of age and wishes to marry another pureblood who isn’t yet of age, he goes through a process called courtship,” Sirius answered knowledgably. “He has to formally ask the Head of his House for permission to marry, then the Head of his—er—beloved’s Household, and when the beloved gives their agreement, the Head of the suitor’s Household picks out a betrothal gift. It’s usually a certain type of magical ring. Well, in this case.”
“Well, the wizard’s father can approach the beloved’s father first, before approaching their heirs. Consent still needs to be gained.”
“It’s a pre-engagement, a betrothal,” James added. “There doesn’t even need to be an engagement afterward, and the couple can marry as soon as the beloved comes of age.”
Evans looked at him confused. “You’re betrothed?”
James smiled happily. “Yes, I am.”
Hurt seemed to flash in her eyes, and James caught it and suspected Harry had as well. He entwined their fingers under the table and Harry sighed next to him.
“How old is your—what did you call it?—beloved?” Mr. Evans inquired.
“Fifteen,” Sirius responded. “Robbing the cradle, aren’t you, James?” he teased.
“That is—young,” Evans admitted and James narrowed his eyes. Harry shifted uncomfortably.
“It’s the youngest age you can be in this kind of arrangement, and it’s not binding on the beloved’s part. On mine it is.”
“Sounds romantic,” Mrs. Evans conceded. “You must have known her for a long time.”
James smiled and shook his head. “A little over a month, but I think I knew since the moment I first saw—“
“Please, Prongs, please,” Sirius begged. “I’ve had to listen to this for a week—and you’re making Greenie blush.”
James’s attention snapped instantly to Harry, his eyes full of concern, which just made his betrothed blush more.
“Sorry, Jamie,” he mumbled, though he smiled when James squeezed his hand under the table.
Mr. Evans cleared his throat, as he accepted a menu from a waiter. James had signaled for him to come over in attempt to break the tension. “Is it important then—purebloods marrying other purebloods?” His voice was tinged with worry.
“Usually,” James answered. “Certain old families, like Sirius’s, will disinherit members if they marry Muggle-borns or Muggles. Others, like mine, just prefer it.”
Harry looked at him, startled.
“There was a reason why your gender was overlooked although I don’t have an heir. Dad was overjoyed—he already considers you a son.”
Mr. and Mrs. Evans exchanged confused glances, but said nothing.
“So, Sirius, you could be disinherited?” Mr. Evans asked.
His daughter, however, answered for him. “He was disinherited last summer. He lives with the Potters now.”
“Mum’s his first cousin, twice removed,” James explained when he saw the surprised look on Mrs. Evans’s face. He was suddenly glad it was Sirius and not himself under the Evans’s inspection. “His Uncle Alphard also left him his fortune.”
“What about Cousin Alphard?” Dorea’s light voice asked and James instantly stood, Sirius and Harry instantly behind him. “Mum. Sorry, I didn’t notice you and Dad.”
She smiled at him. “Not at all. I know you want this, so I won’t delay you.” She handed him a silver and blue bag. “We won’t stand on ceremony, James,” she said quietly as Charlus motioned for a waiter to bring two more seats, the table expanding magically with their unspoken request.
“Mr. and Mrs. Evans,” Charlus greeted. “This is a bit of history in the making,” he mused happily. “Betrothals are rare and I don’t think there has ever been one in England between two wizards. There was one in France, if I remember correctly, at the turn of the century.”
James took out a small dark blue box and quickly untied the silver ribbon, before opening it up to reveal a platinum torque ring. It was thick and masculine, with grooves that emphasized the purity of the metal.
“Two wizards?” Lily asked, confused.
Dorea nodded. “Usually an heir is born from a previous marriage before a wizard is permitted to bond with another, but we happily made an exception for James and Harry. Muggle science is making great advancements, I’ve read, in something called vitro fertilization. In ten years, the process should be quite safe and tested.”
The Evans family stared at her, but she hardly noticed as James happily slid the ring on Harry’s finger, which was followed by many patrons in The White Witch standing and breaking out into spontaneous applause.
“You planned it this way,” Sirius noted and Dorea smiled.
“I am a Black after all and I want everyone to know Harry is a Potter through birth and soon will be one by marriage.”
Various wizards and witches who knew James Potter stepped forward to offer their congratulations and well wishes.
“Forgive my wife,” Charlus said to Mr. Evans. “I know this was meant as a way to prove to your daughter that Sirius asking her on a date was not an elaborate hoax, but when James asked for Harry’s hand a few days ago, she could not resist the opportunity.”
“I am—surprised—that two wizards are allowed to marry. It’s illegal in the Muggle world,” Evans admitted shyly.
Dorea narrowed her eyes at the young woman her son had been enamored with for so long. “As we said, it’s usually not done until an heir is produced for the line, and as we do not have the ending of marriages, only widowers or younger sons usually participate. It is accepted fully, however.”
“Forgive Lily,” Mrs. Evans put in. “She was simply confused.”
She nodded regally and quickly ordered, watching her sons discretely.
“Ah, Mr. Malfoy,” she said as she noticed him and his young wife. “Narcissa, dear.”
Narcissa ignored her wayward cousin, but came around the table, kissing Dorea on the cheek in greeting. “Hello, Aunt Dorea. I see your son holds with the Black tradition.”
Sirius stiffened, but Dorea laughed lightly. “True. It seems he is following our traditions.”
“And who is the young man?” She turned to Harry. “I do not believe we have been introduced.”
“Our cousin, Harry Peregrine,” Charlus responded. “The healers at Mungo’s were able to determine that he was a Potter. We think his mother was foreign or from a modern line as her family name was not revealed.”
“Do they know who did it?” Mr. Malfoy asked as he nodded in recognition to the newest Potter. “The papers reported the Dark Lord was responsible, but now there is speculation that it may have been Muggles attempting a dark ritual they did not understand.”
James looked up, startled. “That would make sense,” he admitted.
Everyone looked at him.
“Harry did remember that Muggles used to chase him—that’s why he’s so fast.”
“Harry Hunting,” Harry added, not thinking. “It was called ‘Harry Hunting,’ or ‘Freak Hunting.’” He looked up with a thoughtful expression. “I think I was kept in a cupboard at some point. The spiders were my friends—and a boa constrictor. I set him on a Muggle. He said he was going to go to Brazil. The snake, not the Muggle.”
“I think we should contact the authorities later today,” Dorea said softly to her husband and Charlus nodded. “If this is a case of Muggle abuse on a wizard child.”
“They’re not as harsh as they should be,” he noted sadly. “Remember the old Dumbledore case.”
The Evanses looked up at him in shock, Lily uneasily squirming in her seat until Sirius placed a hand on her arm to comfort her. She looked up at him with wariness in her eyes, but gave him a small smile.
“The snake was going to Brazil?” Mr. Malfoy asked, and Harry glanced up at him.
“Yes. Said he’d never been, but he’d always wanted to go.”
James looked at him worriedly. “Do you often talk to snakes?”
“Only when they’re around.” He shrugged his shoulders.
“Congratulations,” a new voice put in, and James looked up to see his Slytherin classmate, Evan Rosier, standing beside Malfoy. There were far too many Slytherins around for his comfort.
Harry looked at him and smiled. “Hello.”
“Evan Rosier,” he held out his hand and Harry started, but took it.
“I think I’m related to an Evan—though I could be wrong,” he admitted.
He nodded. “I dreamt it, as well as the snake,” he added to Malfoy.
“You are addressing Harry Peregrine of the House of Potter,” Narcissa informed him when she noted his confusion, and understanding crossed his features.
“Congratulations, Mr. Peregrine. Are you attending Hogwarts next month?”
“Yes,” he nodded. “I’m taking my entrance exams soon, and should be in fifth year.”
“Excellent. I’ll be in sixth year, but I’ll look out for you.”
James ground his teeth but said nothing.
“I am glad you have rejoined pureblood society after your ordeal,” he continued pleasantly. “What electives are you taking?”
“Care of Magical Creatures and Divination.”
“Harry is a Clairvoyant,” Charlus said proudly. “Did you see this, by any chance, Harry?”
“He did, in my tarot reading,” James responded.
Malfoy gazed down at Harry calculatingly. “It is rare to find Clairvoyants,” he said softly. “You are a great edition to our society, Mr. Peregrine.” He bowed in a sign of respect.
“Do you know what house you’ll be in?” Evans asked, although she was wary of the Slytherins.
Harry turned to her. “Hufflepuff, I think. Perhaps Ravenclaw.”
James looked at him, startled.
“Though—” He paused, his eyes glazing in memory. “‘You could you know. It’s all here in your head and Slytherin would help you on the path to greatness.’” He shook his head and took a large sip of water. “Odd,” he remarked to himself. “A hat told me that.”
Narcissa’s eyes narrowed and she made her way over to him. “May I?” she asked kindly before leaning down and staring into Harry’s green eyes. “Close your eyes,” she whispered and Harry obeyed her, his hand intertwined with James. Pausing, she took a deep breath before waving her hand once over Harry’s face, causing the younger boy to relax almost instantly. “Harry,” she said again. “When were you born?”
Dorea and Charlus exchanged confused glances.
“It—I don’t know. Not yet.”
She gazed at him for several long moments before snapping her fingers, Harry’s eyes immediately opening. Narcissa smiled at him.
“And now it appears your lunches will be served, so we shall take our leave,” Lucius said quietly.
With one last glance at Harry, he escorted his wife away, and James possessively interlaced his fingers in Harry’s, placing their hands openly on the table.
… … … … … … …
Harry woke up, screaming, sweat dripping down his face, and James’s concerned hazel eyes were instantly gazing down at him.
“Shh, I’m here,” he murmured, wiping back his fringe to see the pale lightening shaped scar in the dim light. “I’m here,” he repeated, kissing his lips gently.
He instantly relaxed into James’s embrace, his breathing labored, and James pulled him tightly against him.
“That’s right. I’m here. You’re safe.”
“I-I think I remember what happened,” he rasped harshly and James tensed immediately, before placing a soft kiss on his neck.
He waited patiently as Harry’s breaths became more even, and thought Harry had drifted back to sleep when he didn’t speak.
“I was in a graveyard,” a soft voice admitted and James nodded.
“Do you know why?”
Harry shook his head. “There was a—Portkey. I was with someone else. A friend, maybe. It was dark.”
James bit his lip. This sounded suspiciously like kidnapping. He couldn’t think of any other explanation as to why he would Portkey at night into a graveyard.
“They killed him—the boy I was with. One minute he was alive and the next there was a flash of green and he was gone.” He began crying again and James kissed his tears gently away.
“It’s over. All over.”
“Th-there was a cauldron,” Harry continued after a few moments. “He put something in it, and then chopped off his hand. Then he put some bone in it and—and he took my blood.”
“He took your blood?” James’s eyes widened and Harry nodded before lifting his sleeve to show a scar.
“I think this is from that.”
James ran his fingers slightly over the white skin before leaning down and ghosting his lips over it.
“It hurt, so much. The cauldron bubbled and my head felt like it was burning. It was almost like a piece of my soul escaped through it and died. It was so horrible, and then nothing. There is nothing. Nothing but you.”
Leaning down, James kissed him again, pressing his body down against his. “I’m here,” he reiterated, feeling the tension release from Harry’s frame. “I’m here.”
… … … … … … …
“Is this really necessary?” Harry asked, his voice soft, as he sat on the floor in the library. A crystal ball was in front of him as well as his book on divination. The swirling mists confused Harry, and he really did not want to look in it. Telling the future from pictures and signs was one thing—seeing it was quite another.
“No one’s here but me,” James responded softly. “Padfoot is off writing Evans—“
Harry rolled his eyes. “She’s not going to write him back no matter how many times he does that.”
“—and Mum and Dad are at the Abbots. So, just look in and tell me what you see.”
He sighed and with one last accusing look at his betrothed, he gazed intently into the misting orb. At first all he could see were swirls of smokes, white, blue and grey, but then a form began to solidify and he gasped. “There’s something in there.”
“Keep looking,” James instructed, looking over his shoulder to read the textbook. “It says you shouldn’t break eye contact.”
Harry’s eyes narrowed as shadowy images, made out of dark purples, blues, and greens, began to swim around the globe. A girl, about his age with bushy dark hair, was weeping on a bed, a broom clasped to her tightly.
“There’s a girl,” he finally said. “I think she’s mourning. She’s dressed in black.”
As soon as the words left his mouth, the shadows dispersed and began to take other shapes, firmer, but still out of shadows.
“It’s raining and there’s a procession in a graveyard,” he explained. “So many people—so many people. There are headstones everywhere and—and a small memorial. A grave without a body.”
“Strange,” James remarked. “Anywhere you recognize?”
“Yes, actually. Godric’s Hollow. I can see your grandparents’ graves, but there are many others.” He squinted. “I can’t read any of the names.”
“The far future then?”
Harry shrugged. “Perhaps.” The shadows swirled again, this time lighting the inside of the crystal ball with pink and lilac fog. “There are vigils everywhere and people are—singing.” He furrowed his brow and leaned closer and the images began to flash before him. “Every year all those people come back. They age, but the ritual remains the same, and each year they get—happier and yet more desperate. I can see it on their faces. I just—they’re shouting in tandem.” He tore his gaze away, no longer wanting to see the witch with the bushy hair, now aged into her nineties, carrying the broom with a smile on her lips.
“Why’d you stop?” James asked, placing his hand on Harry’s shoulder.
“It’s just—they were saying the same thing. It was—wrong. It was very, very wrong.”
“What was it?”
Harry shivered. “Arise. Arise again.”
… … … … … … …
James ran down the lane, head thrown back with laughter, as he chased Harry through Godric’s Hollow. “Where are we going?” he called out, but Harry just turned and smiled at him, before taking off again, slowing down on occasion so James could still see him.
“Prongs!” Sirius called after them, “Greenie!” but James was too light-hearted, too free, to stop, to slow down, to let his Harry out of his sight.
Harry was right when he said he was fast—James had never seen anything like it. Even in his wizard robes, which he knew would turn heads once they both stopped running and chasing each other, Harry was quick and light, his long legs never getting caught in the intricate folds on his pureblood house robes.
He darted around a curve, bringing them to the town square, and quickly turned around to face his pursuer, swaths of pale gold and black swishing about his legs. Harry’s breathing was slightly labored, but he stood up straight, waiting with a smile on his face as James almost barreled into him.
“Alright there, slow coach?” Harry teased and James made a face at him.
“What was all that about?” he panted.
Harry bit his lower lip. “You don’t like chasing me?”
“No!—it’s just I—wait—what?” he panted and Harry laughed happily at him before kissing his cheek playfully.
“Since we’re going to Hogwarts in a few days—“
James moaned, not liking the thought of Harry possibly being sorted into another house. Ever since the betrothal, he’d become almost fiercely loyal to James, and he was having visions of his Harry being sorted into Hufflepuff—away from him.
Harry smiled. “Since we’re going to Hogwarts in a few days,” he repeated, “I wanted to show you something.”
James looked around, confused, but remained silent.
“As you know,” Harry continued on, “I didn’t seem to exist before I was found. There’s no record of me anywhere in Britain, although I’m clearly English, and I can’t remember much of anything. But I woke up here,” he pointed to the center of the square. “My arm was cut open and bleeding and I only had these torn and bloody robes on me. I didn’t even have a wand.”
“The ritual brought you here,” James said quietly in realization.
Harry nodded. “Bones of the father … Flesh of the servant … blood of the enemy,” he whispered, a lost look on his face.
Walking over, James cupped his cheek and stared into his brilliant green eyes. Over the past few months, they’d become happier, less haunted, more free, more devoted and full of love. He adored these eyes, so similar to Evans’s yet so different. Hers had been a mere shadow of the orbs Harry possessed—a cheap imitation.
It was ironic that those eyes that first captivated him when he was a child were nothing but a precursor for the love and trust he would find with his Harry, a nameless boy with messy black hair and a shy yet defiant smile.
“It’s almost like it was another world—another time—apart from here,” Harry explained as he leaned into James’s touch. “I don’t think I really—existed—before I came here. It was like I was born here, in this square, and I wanted to tell you that I’m happy it happened like this. I don’t wonder about the past, my friends whoever they were, my family even. It doesn’t matter. Just us—and our family here, Jamie. Just us.”
James smiled and accepted the words, letting them wash over them. Nothing needed to be said, no action needed to be given.
“What happened next? After you were born here?” he inquired, drawing away to try to attract less notice. He, like Harry, was dressed in house robes, though his were a dark gray and deep blue.
“Oh. Well, I was crying,” Harry admitted, “and my arm really hurt. I felt like I’d lost someone—like someone had died—that boy in the dream, perhaps.” He sighed. “There were people all around and all of a sudden they started screaming. I think I looked a fright.”
James smiled and shook his head. “Go on.”
“Well, they started whispering, and all I could do was clutch at my arm. Finally, some man said I looked like James Potter and maybe the Potters would know—so they went and fetched your parents. Before I knew it, I was being carted off to the house, and they Flooed with me to St. Mungo’s. Horrible place, St. Mungo’s. It’s too shiny and clean.”
“Then the tests and the blood potion?”
“Hmm,” Harry agreed, finally walking toward a set of benches, and sitting down on one. He fidgeted with his sleeves a bit, but still continued. “The Patrum Potion tastes awful. They made me take it three times because it wasn’t working properly.”
“Really? How so? I thought you take it and then just put your blood on a piece of parchment that has been dried in it.”
“As I said—it wasn’t working and I did that three times. Took forever.”
James looked at him in confusion. “That doesn’t make sense. Doesn’t it show your parents names if they’re wizards and witches and then just turns blue if you’re a Muggle-born?”
“What happened then?”
“Well, it turned pink like it was supposed to if I was magical, and a really pale pink. And then all it said was ‘Potter.’ No names, nothing. Just ‘Potter’ written in large letters.”
“There’s never been a case like it. They figured out I’d been under at least a few dark curses and deducted that I’d been in a ritual, and they thought that it might have skewed the results, if my blood was now joined with another or taken or something. I don’t know. It didn’t make sense. Finally they realized that they weren’t going to get anything out the paper except that I was a Potter—and probably a pureblood.”
“Why’d they name you Peregrine then?”
“Privacy. For the press. I don’t know.”
James sat down beside him and threaded their fingers together. “I don’t think anyone’s been born in the town square before,” he mused quietly, a smile on his face.
Harry simply squeezed his fingers in response.
… … … … … … …
James gasped out into the darkness, a single name on his lips, as his form shivered in blissful completion. He held on tightly to the boy, who sat in his arms, resting his forehead against his, as he took several calming breaths.
Soft lips sought his own as his beloved continued moving, rising and falling against him, as their chests rubbing against one another.
“Almost—there,” a voice breathed out harshly in his ears and James reached between them, grabbing the weeping erection and tugging at it gently. “Jamie,” he ground out and with a final thrust of James’s hips, the boy cried out in gentle ecstasy, before falling into his betrothed’s arms.
At only seventeen James knew he had never seen anything as beautiful as Harry, his face contorted in pleasure, and he doubted he ever would again.
“Hmm,” Harry mumbled as James laid him next to him on the bed. “Love you.”
James swooped down softly and planted a sweet kiss on Harry’s upturned lips and sighed in happiness. Tonight was their last night in Godric’s Hollow, and Harry had asked him to love him—fully love him, so that no matter what the next few days would bring, he could always feel James’s love physically.
At first James had been hesitant. Harry was so young, barely fifteen. He’d never kissed anyone before James—although James had only kissed two other girls before Harry came into his life. He knew he shouldn’t take advantage, that he was older, of age, that his own parents were Harry’s guardians and would probably skin his hide without using magic if they ever found out—but one sweet kiss from Harry had washed away all of his resolve.
“Did I hurt you?” he asked, worriedly, but Harry shook his head.
“I’m sore, but we knew that would happen.”
James snuggled closer and wrapped a firm arm around Harry’s middle, drawing him closer. “Do you want me to cast anything on you?”
“Do you know what to cast on me?” he teased tiredly, his eyelids almost closed.
“Er-no,” James admitted. “I’m sure Padfoot does—“ he began, only to be cut off with a searing kiss.
“No asking Sirius,” Harry demanded. “He still doesn’t like me—and this is none of his business.”
James nodded in resignation, burying his face in the top of Harry’s hair. “I know. I know,” he soothed. “I’m sorry.”
Harry curled up into his embrace and nuzzled his face in James’s shoulder. “’M sorry,” he murmured and James began to stroke his back soothingly, willing him to dreamland.
“He’ll come round. At least he’s not cruel anymore,” he murmured, although Harry didn’t hear him, his breaths already evening out in slumber.
… … … … … … …
“No!” Harry screamed, bolting awake so violently that James fell off the bed, sweat dripping off his forehead as he quivered from his nightmare.
“Harry?” he asked, pushing himself up, only to see haunted and terrified green eyes staring back at him. “What’s wrong?” He pulled himself on the bed, but Harry only grabbed the blankets protectively around himself and backed away from him. “Harry? Talk to me.”
He shook his head. “It can’t be true. Just a dream, just a dream,” he muttered to himself, his head bent low and his hair obstructing James’s view of his pale face.
“Of course not,” he tried to soothe, reaching out for his beloved, but Harry flinched away from the touch. “It’s not true, Harry. Just a dream.”
“How can I know that?” a frightened voice answered as he turned his back on James. “Oh my god,” he sobbed. “It was so real.”
“What was real?”
“Don’t touch me,” Harry hissed brokenly as James brushed his hair away, and James coiled back in rejection. “’M sorry. So sorry. Don’t want to hurt you.”
“You didn’t hurt me. Tell me what’s wrong, Harry. What did you dream?”
Pale shoulders shuddered in silent weeping and James felt powerless, watching the one he loved most in the world in so much pain and unable to even physically comfort him.
“I dreamt—of my parents,” Harry finally admitting, turning back toward James. His face was swollen from crying, his bright green eyes shining hollow at him.
“Mum,” Harry whispered, looking away. “She was so beautiful. I had her eyes. She loved me, but then—then she died.” He clenched his fists in pain before looking away. “I never knew her.”
“And your father?” James asked, barely more than a whisper, but Harry shuddered again.
“Tell me it’s not true,” he begged, looking imploringly into his eyes. “Tell me. Just tell me.”
“What’s not true, Harry?” James crawled forward and cupped Harry’s face, and this time, Harry didn’t pull away. “Tell me what frightens you.”
“It was—he was—“
“A Potter,” James supplied and Harry nodded, glancing away.
“He was you.”
The words hung between them and James stared in horror at Harry before quickly shaking his head. “No, not possible,” he said firmly. “It was just a dream, Harry. It’s not true, I swear.”
“How can you know?” he asked, his voice low and laced in desperation. He clasped James’s hand to his face in fear, his green eyes large and filling with tears. “How can you know?”
“I’m only seventeen. You’re fifteen, Harry. No matter how much your father looked like me, it wasn’t me. I swear.”
Harry nodded and James pulled him close, kissing his soft lips desperately. “Just a dream, Harry. I swear. Just a dream.”
“Even if Mum’s name was Lily?”
“Yes. Even that.” He pulled away and glared fiercely at Harry. “Nothing else matters. I love you, only you. I want only you. Just because I fancied her before never meant I could have loved her enough to marry her or have a child—and even if that would have happened if I had never seen you—“ He traced the moist edge of Harry’s face lovingly “—there’s no device or spell that could make you travel back to before you were born. It’s not possible. The laws of magic won’t allow it. I swear to you.”
Harry nodded again. “Just a dream,” he murmured, looking once more for confirmation.
“Just a dream.”
… … … … … … …
“Where are my tarot cards?” Harry asked as he rushed into the kitchen, dark circles under his eyes. “I can’t find them anywhere.”
Dorea and James were sitting at the table, eating their breakfast, and Dorea looked up in concern. “I’m not certain, dear,” she admitted. “Did you not sleep well?” She looked at her son in confirmation.
Harry shook his head. “Just a silly nightmare,” he admitted before walking over and kissing James deliberately. He lifted one hand to stroke the side of James’s face, silently telling him that everything was alright. “And I’m worried about starting at Hogwarts.”
“Quite alright, my dear,” Dorea said. “Now, eat up. We need to get to the platform in an hour.”
Harry bit his lip. “I wonder where they went.”
“I’ll find them,” James promised as he quickly got up. “They can’t have gone far and even if I don’t, Tippy can send them along for tomorrow.” With a final kiss, which he noticed his mother was discreetly watching in satisfaction, he rushed from the room.
The tarot cards, of course, were nowhere to be found. He’d even searched his father’s study—with his permission of course—but came up with nothing.
“Padfoot!” he called, rushing up the stairs in a last attempt to find them. “Have you seen Harry’s tarot deck?”
He stopped dead as he entered the room, a look of horror on his face.
“Padfoot,” he accused, “how could you?”
Sitting at the dresser in the corner, Sirius was staring dejectedly into his mirror, a three card spread laid out before him.
“What?” he asked in confusion as if breaking from a trance, and his eyes met James’s in the mirror. Only, the eyes James saw weren’t Sirius’s. They were dark and gray, and full of death and horror. The reflection was aged and sallow; the hair was longer and although well groomed had flecks of silver.
“What is that?” he asked, horrorstruck, and found himself inching toward the aged reflection.
Sirius’s shoulders slumped. “I think—I think that’s me.”
“It can’t be,” he whispered. “How can it be?”
Sirius glanced down at his spread and growled. “I can’t read the damn things. I can’t—ever since I got back the mirror’s been like this—he just keeps on aging and the articles keep on changing!”
James glanced down at the spread and his brows furrowed in confusion. He knew the basics, but he wasn’t as naturally skilled as Harry was. “Articles?”
Sirius waved his hand toward the mirror, his reflection staying still and watching them avidly. “At first, they were from 1995. Someone called the Boy Who Lived and a Cedric Diggory were found murdered. Well, Diggory was found. This other wizard wasn’t.”
“Were you able to tell what happened?”
“Something about the Triwizard Tournament—they were both Hogwarts Champions, there were four total. It makes no sense!”
James nodded quietly and looked down at the spread again. “That one,” he pointed to the middle card, “is the present. I’m assuming you did a reading for the situation and not yourself?”
Sirius nodded and James tightened his lips.
“You really shouldn’t have touched the cards,” he muttered. “They won’t work properly for a week now.”
“I know, Prongs,” he muttered. “I don’t care about Greenie—“
James looked up, fire in his eyes.
“—but I know how much he means to you,” Sirius concluded. “I just—I needed to know.” He fidgeted. “You really do love him, don’t you?”
“More than anything,” James admitted quietly.
Sirius sighed. “I guess the Marauders are now five, then, in a way.”
“He’s not an Animagus.”
“No, that’s true, but he’s one of us—if you’re really going to marry him, just as I’d hope my future wife was one of us, or Remus’s, or Peter’s. Remus got married in the articles.”
James’s eyes widened. “Really? Who?”
“Your little cousin?”
“My little cousin,” Sirius sighed.
“The old dog!”
Sirius turned around and looked at him, the reflection-Sirius watching them with haunted, almost unseeing eyes. “What does it mean then? The reading.”
“Er-right. The present is Judgment. Harry’s card, actually. A rebirth, awakening, or resurrection, I think.”
“That’s odd,” Sirius muttered. “There are vigils for this Boy-Who-Lived. They think he’s coming back since his body wasn’t found. I guess he must be then.”
James’s lips thinned to a harsh line. The articles sounded too much like what Harry saw in his crystal ball for his tastes.
“Now, the past is the three of swords. Betrayal, isolation, complete bitterness. Hopelessness,” he whispered before moving onto the future. “The future brings the King of Pentacles.”
“I can see that, Prongsie,” Sirius muttered, but soon fell silent when James glared at him.
“I’m doing you a favor after you stole my betrothed’s magical artifact,” he whispered harshly and Sirius nodded. “Now—it can mean financial security.”
“That makes no sense.”
“It’s the ultimate fulfillment in life, Padfoot. This is a good card. No matter what happened,” he looked at the haunted mirror-face and sighed at the look of longing in those gray eyes, “it’s going to get better. Much better. Everyone will be happy.”
“Right then,” Sirius sighed in relief, looking up again only to see that his image had faded slightly before shrugging it away. “I better go give these to Greenie and apologize.”
He moved to sweep up the cards, but James grasped his wrist. “I’ll do it,” he whispered, before tentatively picking them up and putting them away again.
“But—Prongs—you can’t—now there’s another aura,” Sirius protested.
“Mine is compatible. It will do less damage.”
“You’d have to be bonded and completely devoted for that to take effect,” Sirius retorted before astonishment crossed his handsome face. “You-you and Greenie bonded.”
James nodded. “If I ever hear you say anything,” he warned, but Sirius cut him off.
“Of course, never, I swear,” he promised before hugging James to him tightly. “Congratulations,” he whispered, before taking the box from his hands and leaving the room.
James sighed wearily and looked at the clock, knowing that he should head down the stairs, too, as they were leaving in about a quarter of an hour. He gazed once more in the mirror and stopped in fear when he saw Sirius’s older reflection still sitting there, smiling at him, but he was now faded and appeared only a ghost. Newspapers littered the desk before him and James gasped when he recognized the room as Sirius’s bedchamber at 12 Grimmauld Place.
As he continued to look, Sirius continued to fade until, with just a twitch of his finger, the image disappeared leaving the room empty. In the background, James could see magical photographs and, with curiosity, he found himself edging closer to the mirror, looking at the small moving frames.
In several he saw himself with the other Marauders, laughing, joking, happy. He smiled, remembering those pictures, before his eyes skated to the next.
Inhaling in shock, he collapsed into the chair, and stared wide eyed at a wedding photograph. He was standing happily next to Evans, who was in a white Muggle gown, both of them only just out of Hogwarts it seemed. They were so joyful, so full of life, taking loving glances at each other.
But they were shadows, shadows of the looks his Harry gave him, nothing compared to the longing and adoration he felt for his betrothed. How could he have done this? How could this be real in the mirror-world? Why would he ever have left his Harry and married a cheap imitation of his eyes?
His eyes …
He shivered at the thought and moved on.
There he was again, in the town square of Godric’s Hollow, dancing with Evans in the snow, smiles on their faces.
In another he stood proudly behind a sitting Evans, a small baby in her arms with messy black hair and green, green eyes that he knew so well.
“No,” he breathed, “A dream, just a dream.”
Standing hastily, he knocked the chair over and backed away, his eyes glancing at the one remaining moving a picture. A boy, only thirteen or fourteen, stood between two other children, a boy and a girl, but they didn’t matter. A small, shy smile played on his face, his eyes green and haunted, a jagged scar just visible under his messy fringe.
Harry, his Harry, his light, his world, his everything.
The mirror-pictures danced in their fames and they, too, began to fade, until James was standing, horror-struck, staring at his own reflection.
He shook his head and listened carefully as the clock struck half past ten. It was time to go.
Taking one last glance over his shoulder, he left the room, determined never to look into that haunted mirror again.
It did not matter, he decided. That world was gone.
It was all just a dream, just a dream.
The young wizard, the Boy Who Lived, may have disappeared, but he had reawakened, been reborn, in Godric’s Hollow. The gods had looked down and smiled on him, christening him The Peregrine and giving him a new life without pain and heartbreak.
The twentieth card—Judgment—Judicamentum.
All was as it should be.