FIC: Making It Right, by GatewayGirl, HP/RL/SB (1 of 5) Title: Making It Right Author: GatewayGirl Pairing: HP/RL/SB Rating: NC-17 Canon-compliancy: Through HBP for the adult Harry; backstory through September '81 for the others. Warnings: Light bondage, vice Notes: This is the sequel to Worlds Together. It does not continue that pairing. Thanks to dacro and sociofemme for beta work and assistance. Cross-posted. Summary: Harry would like this world to be better than the one he left behind
Making It Right
1- Meeting the Past
Harry liked his occasional flashes of competence -- of feeling like he could still make a difference. Arriving at Godric's Hollow to a younger, more vulnerable Remus Lupin, distraught over Sirius, was like that. He could do something. He could save and redeem Sirius and rescue not one life, but two.
"We can fix that," he said, and Remus, eyes wide, left Lily's soothing embrace and advanced on him, glowing wand raised high to spread its illumination.
"Who are you?" Remus asked. He looked between Harry and James before settling on James. "James?"
"Doggie!" little Harry said fiercely, squirming to get down.
"Wait a moment," Harry said, as Lily turned to move towards the house. "You can't go in there. Voldemort knows where it is. He probably left traps."
"Oh hell," James muttered, and the toddler wailed "Doggie!" more accusingly, and Lily said, "I promised."
James pulled out his wand. "Accio Doggie."
Malicious light flared around a window frame as something sailed out through it. This time it was Lily who cursed.
"Sorry, Remus," she said quickly. "May we go to your house for now?"
"Yes, but --"
"We'll discuss its shortcomings there." James had finished casting a few quick spells on Doggie, who turned out to be a plush black dog with grey feet, and now handed it to his son. As the toddler affectionately stuffed one of the feet in his mouth and begin to chew on it, Harry decided that the feet had probably originally been white. He was interrupted from this thought by James grabbing his arm.
"Apparate," he said, to the others. Remus, Lily, and the child obediently vanished in two cracks. James turned to Harry.
"For now, you're me."
"We're not going to tell him --?"
"Later. After the Ministry has grilled him. Come on."
Confusion went well with the stretched feeling of Sidealong Apparition. A long moment later, they appeared in a small living room that had been made smaller by piles of boxes.
"--next Friday," Remus was saying. Harry looked around. The place was dirtier than he would have imagined any place that Lupin lived being. Of course, this Lupin was slightly younger than he was.
"The Ministry's taking it, James!" Lily exclaimed. "The house!"
"Not once we clear Sirius, they're not," James said fiercely.
"James," Remus said pleadingly, "he betrayed you. He's probably been a Death Eater since --" He shuddered. "I have no idea. God! I've been --"
"He did NOT BETRAY ME!" James bellowed. Remus fell silent, but his cheeks were pink over stark white, and Harry could see trembling in the hand he had on the arm of his chair. Harry wanted to move nearer to him and tell him it would all be okay, but they'd never met.
"He couldn't have, Remus," Lily said levelly, frowning at James. In the wake of the outburst, young Harry was looking at his father with wide eyes. "He didn't have the information."
"He was your Secret Keeper."
"Well, no, actually he wasn't." James ducked his head, just as his son began belatedly to wail. "He thought it would be safer if people thought so --"
Remus might have been easier to hurt at this age, but he was apparently also easier to anger. He jumped to his feet and advanced on James. "You --!"
"It was his idea!" James said quickly. Lily was soothing the child, and her glare kept his voice quiet, though no less urgent. "His!"
Remus stopped. He dug his fingers into his hair in a disturbingly familiar gesture. Gold, rather than silver, lightened the brown. Harry could see one long scar on the back of that hand, but the skin was otherwise smooth.
"Then why did he kill Peter?"
"He was our Secret Keeper."
"You just said --"
"Peter. Peter was our Secret Keeper."
"Oh dear God." Remus sank to the nearest seat, which happened to be the arm of Harry's chair. "It's -- hell, it's still murder --"
"Where I'm from, Wormtail didn't die," Harry volunteered quickly. "He bit off a finger and disappeared -- as a rat -- in an explosion that killed fourteen Muggles. Could it be the same?"
"Who are you?"
"Oh, Remus, meet me. Me, Remus." James grinned. "He needs a name."
Remus ignored him in favor of frowning down at Harry. His face seemed different, and it took Harry a moment to recognize that the white scar running from cheek to neck was the only raised one on his face. About half as many years of changing without the Wolfsbane potion, he realized, and most of those not alone. "From?" Remus prompted.
"They were hopping through alternate timelines," Harry explained hurriedly. "I'm an analog."
"Dear God," Remus said again. "I can't ... I don't know --"
"Listen." Harry tugged on Remus's arm, and very nearly ended up with a lap full of unbalanced werewolf. He was almost sorry when Remus managed to catch himself on the opposite arm, hanging over the chair. From the way James sniggered, at least one person found his train of thought obvious. Remus was too busy apologizing.
"I'm sorry! I'm usually not so clumsy, I just -- I haven't had any sleep to speak of, and ...." He trailed off and pushed himself to his feet.
"Sirius didn't do it," Harry said reassuringly. He stood also, to be even with Remus. "We'll get him out -- well, they will." He gestured at James and Lily.
"He's been for a week with Dementors!"
"Remus," James said softly. "We'll do what we can."
"Dementors can't hurt the dog as much," Harry said quickly. "He'll be sane." As soon as the words were out, he was unsure of them. How much of the damage to Sirius had happened in the first week? Would he be the person Remus had been mourning, when he could return to his friends -- or most of them?
"So what are we sitting here for?"
"Remus, is the Ministry open?" James asked. Harry suspected that the question was rhetorical. It was solidly dark. If it was late November, as seemed likely, it might not be past office hours at the Ministry, but it probably was. "I'll be waiting at the doors in the morning; I swear it.
"Now sit down." James motioned Remus back to the chair he had vacated earlier. Harry sat as well. "Before I show up at the Ministry, we need a name for my analog. I won't have him using 'James' in my world, and you know it's better to tell the bureaucrats that he has another name already."
"Charles," Lily suggested.
"No," Harry said quickly.
"Even worse! Look, not Charles, Ronald, William, Frederick, George, Percival, or Arthur, all right? Or Neville, or Dean, or Colin."
"You do know that's Voldemort's real name, don't you?"
"No!" Lily giggled.
"Yeah. So that's out. Besides, I'm used to -- I'd like something with an "ee" ending, I think.
"Daniel -- you could be Danny."
"You could keep James and go by Jamie or Jimmy," Remus suggested.
"No!" James said, scowling.
"Robert or Robin, then, and use Robbie."
Harry considered. "That might be all right."
"Considering my parents, it would be Robert," James said dryly. "Robin is a nickname."
"I like it, though," Remus countered.
"Well, he could have been called that."
Harry shrugged again, but he smiled this time. "I think I like that. I'll tell you for sure in the morning?"
"All right. We'll use it in the meantime, so you can get a feel for it."
The evening moved on, full of overlapping, half-accurate recountings of the situation. Harry started responding to 'Robbie' (from James and Lily) and 'Robin' (from Remus), but it wasn't natural. He found himself sitting back, remembering their arrival, and trying to determine how things would go from here, if everything he knew before Voldemort's attack was the same. James, Lily, and Remus were talking about whether or not James and Lily should attempt to return to Godric's Hollow, and if Moody or Dumbledore should be brought in to help with it. They weren't using the names, but Harry didn't find their substitutions at all ambiguous.
"James?" he queried.
"Mm?" Despite the vague sound, James looked up sharply, with instant focus. Again, Harry had a sense of what he himself must be like. That intensity would be alarming from Lily's eyes.
"Lily mentioned the prophecy, so you have that here too."
James shot a look at Remus, and then shrugged. "Yes."
Harry didn't like that -- didn't James trust Remus? -- but he continued. "So are you a major target without Harry?"
"I am not sending him away," Lily stated flatly.
"Of course not. But you could claim that he'd died --" At the looks on their faces, Harry amended that quickly. "-- or been lost, while you were traveling, and keep him secret."
Lily hesitated. "If the Order knew...."
"And our spy?" James asked sharply.
"If it was only Peter...."
"I don't trust Dumbledore's supposedly tame Death Eater, whomever --" James broke off at a glare from Lily.
"We couldn't not tell the Order," Lily insisted. "It's too important, and besides, I couldn't fake that degree of distress for people who know me so well."
James nodded. "Well, it might help, and wouldn't make things any more dangerous, I suppose. We can discuss it with Dumbledore. I still think it's the Longbottom boy, though."
Harry shook his head, but didn't speak. It wasn't Neville who would destroy the Dark Lord, nor, he swore silently to himself, was it the little child curled sleepily beside Lily. It was him.
James and Lily left early in the morning, with Lily saying that she'd be back to feed Harry later. Harry-now-Robert thought he needed to appear competent, but the looks everyone exchanged told him that Remus had done this before, and his ability to care for a child was immaterial.
Once James and Lily had vanished, Remus turned his attention to the toddler. "Robert" watched, bemused, until he couldn't stand any more of feeling useless. He wandered off to explore the house.
The name was querulous. Possibly that was because Harry was sitting with his back against Sirius's bed, sifting through the rubble on the floor around him and drinking the whisky (real Muggle whisky from Islay) that he had found there. Harry -- Robert -- looked up.
"Hey," he said casually. "Where's Harry?" It was hard not to smirk -- or shiver -- while uttering that question.
"Taking a nap." Remus entered cautiously and picked his way through the debris to sit near him. "Are you okay?"
"Fine." Harry found the chunk of crystal that he had been searching for and placed it near the others. "Reparo." The pieces resolved into an ashtray, which explained the odd curves in some of the outer pieces, as well as the fag ends scattered through other items.
"Robin, really. We haven't had lunch yet, and you're drinking whiskey. Neat."
"Oh!" Harry was taken aback by the wry concern in Remus's voice. "I, um, do that. I'm fine." He looked at the glass in his hand. "Well, no worse than usual." Shrugging, he lifted the crystal ashtray into the light. "Sirius smokes?"
Remus looked surprised at the question. "Doesn't yours? I mean, cigarettes are a Muggle vice, and a glaringly obvious one. Just his thing, really, even if I do hate it. Or did your Sirius not make a hobby of taking up anything that would drive his parents spare?"
"Oh." Put that way, it made sense. Maybe his Sirius had, back then. Back now. "Well, yes, but not this one."
Remus shrugged, and then sighed. "God. What a mess."
He was looking around at the room, and Harry had to agree. "Should we clean it?"
"I don't know."
"Wouldn't he rather come home to a clean room?"
Remus shrugged again, and lifted from his slouch enough to open a drawer above Harry's head. "Stay still." He took out a pack of cigarettes by feel, and tapped one out. "Maybe," he said, "but he's going to be furious that I didn't trust him. Do you think there's any chance it will be better if he sees that I pitched a fit?"
"You did this?" He had assumed it was Aurors.
"I was looking for something -- anything -- anything that might have told me...." Remus closed his eyes, put the cigarette in his mouth, and lit it. He coughed as he blew out smoke.
"Thought you hated that."
"I do." Remus set the cigarette down in the ashtray, gagged theatrically, and swiped Harry's whiskey for a small sip. "But you need to inhale some to light them, and I want the room to smell like he's here."
He slumped forward, and Harry took his whiskey back. He dithered over whether or not to put an arm around Remus, but once Remus leaned into his side, there was no reason not to.
"Shh. He'll be home soon."
"And he's going to want you."
Remus sounded lost, but Harry couldn't help laughing. "Really?"
The look Remus turned on him was long-suffering, his voice exasperated. "What do you think, James?"
Harry shrugged. "If he ever has before, he didn't let on -- well, mine didn't. And for your information, I'd never been with a man before last night."
Remus pulled back, staring. "What -- with James?"
"Got it in one."
"Does that even count? I mean, losing your virginity to yourself?"
Harry burst out laughing. "Oh, he is so not me."
"Well, obviously, if you hadn't ever...." Remus shook his head. "You poor dear. Was it good?"
"I'm here, aren't I?"
"I suppose that's a yes."
He felt warm against Harry's side. Harry thought it might be good again.
Lily arrived at one o'clock, in a smoldering rage, and left again as soon as her son had nursed. She came back with James, neither of them in a better mood, at five-thirty. They dispensed wine all round and collapsed on the couch beside Harry-now-Robert.
"What a cock-up," James said to the ceiling. His glass tilted alarmingly on his knee. "At this rate, it will take another day to prove I'm me, and then there's registering as an animagus, though I've managed to avoid letting on that Sirius is one. I needed something behind my claim that Peter is. It will be Thursday before they might even start processing an appeal for Sirius, and then there's Crouch to deal with, and they'll want to see you, Robbie, and oh, gods, Crouch!"
Harry considered what he knew of Crouch. "You might want to have a reporter lined up," he said. "I mean, they're a pain, usually, but one on your side is the only real way to get politicians in line."
James tilted his head and lifted an eyebrow. "The Voice of Experience?"
Remus studied them. "You know, the two of you aren't as alike as I'd expect."
"Differences in upbringing," James said quickly.
"I don't remember my parents."
"Whereas I felt safe right up until spring of sixth year." James drained half his glass and sat up. "Very well. Robbie? What is your experience with Veritaserum?"
Harry shivered. "Very little." He thought of Barty Crouch Jr. "Only watching."
"All right. Well, the Ministry wants to see you the day after tomorrow, at 1 p.m. From the time, I surmise that they will ask you to consent to Veritaserum interview."
Remus scowled. Harry was just confused. "Can they? I thought..."
"You have the right to refuse, of course."
"And they have the right to send you back where you came from, or as best as they can manage," Lily added. "Of course, it's possible it was just a scheduling quirk --"
"What does the time have to do with it?" Harry twisted to look past James at her. "I don't --"
"It's --" James began, but then Remus began to speak, and the others fell silent. It wasn't that he was loud, Harry thought, or commanding; it was just that you understood that what he was going to say was important information.
"Veritaserum interrogations, except in certain cases, are subject to strict controls. The victim -- sorry, subject -- must be provided with list of questions that will be asked at least four hours before the interrogation, and must give explicit consent. Up to a dozen additional questions may be asked during the interview, but each must be preceded by obtaining consent for the question. A second interview requires authorization by a majority of the Wizengamot. They sometimes give it if the subject refused optional questions, but seldom if not."
Lily yawned and leaned against James. "We should come up with a list of the probable ones."
"Well, we know what it will start with," James said darkly. He turned to Harry. "What is your name?"
Harry opened his mouth, but then shut it again.
"You see? You can't say --" His eyes flicked to Remus, and he stopped, but Harry understood. If he said Harry, someone might put it together.
"But that can be got around," Remus said smugly.
"Yes." Lily sat up and nodded. "You just have to know that whatever your name was, it is now Robert Potter."
Harry -- no, Robert! -- tried that. "My name is Robert Potter." It didn't sound right. "My name is Robert James Potter." That came out better. "Do you mind? It sounds better with the James there."
James allowed this with a magnanimous wave of one arm, and a "Quite all right, Robert." He smirked in response to Remus's snigger. Young Harry squirmed, and Lily moved with him to the floor. A flick of her wand, and there were three floating balls in the air in front of him.
"Wed!" He pushed the red ball and it spun and squeaked.
"Neat and simple, but I'm not sure it will do," Remus remarked. He uncrossed and re-crossed his legs. "For Veritaserum."
Lily looked up. "Knowing?"
Remus shook his head. "He won't. Not deep enough."
"Can you improve on it?" James challenged.
Remus cocked his head to one side, a motion that somehow managed to be more delicate than gawky. Harry continued to be amazed by his grace, at this age. Perhaps, without the losses he had suffered in Harry's time, he might retain more of it. He had visible scars on his hands and face -- although only some of the ones Harry remembered on the older Remus that he had known -- but it was an attractive face, nonetheless, except for when he was angry. Now he was looking studious, and perhaps a little amused. "We need to actually name him, ritual and all."
"We don't have a Ministry official."
Remus shrugged. "We can do the older version. Normally, that would be done by his mother or father, but it can be done by a husband or wife. Lily isn't married to him, really, but she might do, for magical purposes. It's worth trying. If that fails, we could try you, James."
Lily looked uneasily at Harry, a blush spreading on her cheeks. He suspected she was thinking that she was even closer to being his mother. "I suppose I might, at that."
"Remus and I will be witnesses, then," James said quickly. "Remus, do you need to look up details?"
"Yes," Remus said dryly. "Tomorrow will suffice."
Harry finished his wine and stood. I need to think of myself as Robert. He looked at the toddler on the floor. He's Harry. I'm not, anymore. I'm Robert.
"Now that the two of you are available to watch Harry ..."
James leered at him. "You two have other plans?"
With a quick, irritated motion, Remus stood also. "Yes. Strengthening the protections on the cottage, because You-Know-Who probably already knows that you're back, and this is the first place for him to come looking."
"After all," Harry added, "he knows Sirius isn't one of his."
The next day, Harry stayed with Remus again. He had found warding the cottage with this Remus both familiar and not. This Remus was less experienced than the one he had known, of course, but good at the same sort of things. It wasn't his age that was disconcerting, so much as the way he treated Harry -- Robert, that was -- as an equal.
While Harry's analog was napping, Remus taught him tricks for answering questions under Veritaserum. The restrictions, apparently, were less stringent for werewolves and other Dark creatures, so Remus spoke from experience.
"You will say anything; you can't stop that. But if you can make your mind go to the irrelevant first, or to something that embarrasses your interviewers, they may stop you before you get to anything damaging."
"I'm not sure I have anything on the interviewers."
"No. No, I mean when they were asking me about ... about Sirius...."
"Robbie, I lived with him. Of course they did!"
"So you ...."
"So when they asked 'Did you engage in any illegal activities with Sirius Black?' I had set in my mind that I didn't want to talk about the three of them being animagi. So I said 'yes' and went right into an example -- a few months earlier, he'd shown up with a collar on, and said he wanted me to chain him and fuck him right in the room where I have my monthly interview, so we'd broken in to the Ministry building, and he'd stripped down to just the collar, and leaned over the table, and ...." Remus stopped with a breathless laugh. "And about there, a very red-faced Auror revised the question to 'illegal activities in support, promotion, or assistance of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!' and I could just say no."
The excitement that had briefly lit Remus's face faded into sick distress. "He's never going to forgive me. I should probably just finish packing now."
Harry heated with anger. "Forgive you what, Remus? He lied to you. You believed him. He has nothing to forgive."
"I shouldn't have believed that he'd betray James -- that he'd do anything for You-Know-Who --"
"And you didn't. You've been trying your damnedest, because you knew he was the Secret Keeper, and there was no other logical conclusion, but when James came back -- after what, three weeks? -- nearly the first words from your mouth were 'I can't believe it was Sirius.' Sirius played his clever trick, and you fell for it, and you both got hurt. You don't have anything to apologize for."
"I don't think he's really going to see it that way."
"Then let me talk to him." Harry -- Robert. I am Robert -- heard his voice come out in a growl.
Remus laughed. "Maybe you're more like our James than I thought." As soon as the words were out, his smile faded into a sigh. "Which means it doesn't really matter, anyway. He'll want you. I can take his casual ventures, but you'll be here, a second chance at James...."
Harry felt his forehead compress as his eyes narrowed. "Casual ventures?" he demanded.
"He has other lovers, you know? But I don't mind giving him leeway. They don't matter, really, and I need more time alone than Sirius does. But you...."
He trailed off, looking miserable. Harry twisted to face him directly.
"And what about you?"
"What about me?"
"Does he give you 'leeway,' as well?"
Remus froze at the question. His eyes darted nervously away. Harry leaned closer. Could he? Hesitantly, he brought his mouth to the other man's.
Remus kissed softly, but actively, his lips exploring. When his hand rose to Harry's shoulder, Harry shifted to embrace him, and suddenly they had pulled each other close. When Remus had one leg across Harry's lap and was kissing him desperately, Harry grabbed his arse and pulled him into a straddle.
"Robert...." Remus had tossed his head back. His color was high. "I can't. Not now."
Harry pushed up at him, and from the way that Remus moaned, he knew the refusal wouldn't hold. Remus would let him do anything. "Don't tell me you can't. If he can, you can."
"He's in prison!" Remus shouted. He ducked his head. "Sorry. I mean, he can when he's home safe, reading a book, or something. I'd hope he wouldn't if I --" Remus swallowed. "If I ...."
"Okay. That's fair." Fair, yes, but Harry wasn't at all happy about it. He reached out a hand and stroked it down Remus's cheek. "So ... later?"
"Let me fix things with him first." Remus looked miserable. "Or give up on it."
"You're so young," Harry whispered, overwhelmed by tender awe.
Remus bristled. "Six months younger!"
"Sorry." Harry nuzzled along Remus's neck and Remus let him. "I think you're sweet."
"Says the almost-virgin!"
"I ..." Remus slid awkwardly off of him. "Not conducive to chaste interactions."
"All right." Without further protest, Harry reluctantly let the man leave his lap. "But when Sirius is back, I'm going to make another try. And if he tells you no, he'll have me to answer to."