FIC: Making It Right, by GatewayGirl, HP/RL/SB (2 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
From the term "ritual", Harry had expected something elaborate, but his naming was fairly straightforward. Lily, blushing again, licked the pad of her left index finger and pressed it to his forehead. "Child of my blood," she whispered, her voiced strained, and raised her wand. "Te nomino Robert James Potter."
It was very simple. No light came out of her wand. There was no reason, surely, for Robert to reel at the words. Robert. He shuddered. Not an ounce of his being had thought of himself as 'Harry.'
"Um." He gave her a weak smile. "I think it worked. I mean, I remember I was--" He stopped. Remus was here, and Remus didn't know.
Remus leaned close. "I'll try the night test," he whispered.
"See which wakes you up."
The heat Robert felt owed very little to embarrassment.
Robert was less confident in the morning, when an owl arrived with notification of a Veritaserum interview and a list of questions. James had already left for work -- since he was now out of hiding, with Harry officially missing, he and Lily had returned to their jobs. James worked for an alchemical company, doing tricky transfigurations, but Lily worked at the Ministry, in Experimental Charms, and had a little more time in the morning. She paused in her gathering of workday items and sat beside Robert for a moment, where he was curled up on the couch, staring at the list. She took his hand in her own, giving it an almost motherly little pat.
"Robbie. I'd love to talk, but I need to go to my office, now. Will you meet me for lunch? Come to the Ministry lobby at half-eleven, and I'll take you to the Red Griffin. You probably shouldn't drink before the potion, but the food's good, and it's only a few minutes' walk from the entrance."
So it was that a few hours later, Robert was settled in the pub, with pumpkin juice and a hearty Scotch broth, looking across an old, scored table at his analog's mother, who was currently younger than he was.
"I'm lost," he said.
"Are the questions bad?"
She was pretty, he thought. If she wasn't half his mother, he might have made an effort to impress.
"They don't look too dangerous, except maybe for the 'have you ever broken the law' bit--"
She giggled. "Oh, all of us would get in trouble on that one."
"Even me," she said smugly. "You know, James is trying to teach me the trick for Remus."
Robert nodded, understanding, and wondered what her animagus form would be. "Yeah. I mean, I can probably say something that will just make them laugh, but any of it could be trouble. It just depends on what comes out." He looked at his food and his juice again. He badly wanted a drink. It was a more intense feeling here, in a pub, than in the new environment of Remus's home.
"True, but...." She shrugged. "The Aurors don't use that large a dose for this sort of investigation. If you've seen Veritaserum in war use, it may not be as bad as you're expecting."
"Oh." He stopped investigating the grains of barley his soup and looked up. "Yeah, probably. I was fourteen, and the man had arranged for me to touch a portkey to Voldemort. Another student had been murdered."
She winced in sympathy. "And the interrogator?"
For all that she had cast a subtle privacy spell when they had sat down, he found himself reluctant to say Snape's name. "A Slytherin of your acquaintance, and a school enemy of James."
"Oh." She stared at him for a moment with widened eyes. "Well, yes, then," she said, shaking herself out of it with a nervous laugh. "No mercy. You knew him?"
Robert nodded. "He hated me -- well, I suppose it was mutual until almost the end. Looking back, though, he protected me a lot." He poked at his soup again and scooped up a spoonful. "We should probably discuss this at home, though."
"Yes." She took a visible breath and settled her shoulders back. "Robbie, about the ritual...."
"I ... It was effective enough that.... Well, I just wanted to say that I wouldn't be comfortable repeating the events of our first meeting."
She looked almost apologetic. Robert ducked his head with a smile. "Yeah, I have to say the same. I don't regret it, though; I'd still be there if it hadn't happened."
At that, her smile relaxed into sincerity. "I don't either." She reached out and laid a hand over his, almost like Hermione used to do. "No regrets. You look happy here. You fancy Remus, don't you?"
He felt himself heat. "Don't know that it will ever come to anything."
"Well I hope it does. You'd be a sight better for him than Sirius has been."
Before he could think how to respond, she bit her lip. "Oh! Speaking of Sirius, his review started this morning. It's locked, so we won't have any news until it's over, but you may want to think about what you plan to do when he's home -- if he comes home."
"Do?" Robert asked stupidly.
She rolled her eyes. "Well, aside from Remus, there's the overcrowding. I doubt he'll throw you out if you want to stay -- not unless he feels threatened. James and I have talked to the Longbottoms -- did you know them? -- and we'll be staying there for a while, once James is certain that Sirius is competent. Alice and I think two babies with four parents might be easier than one with two, anyway, and it will help us hide that I still have Harry...."
"The house will be a lot less crowded then."
Slowly, she nodded. "Yes. If it's not uncomfortable, and you don't mind...."
He shrugged, and forced himself to scoop up a spoonful of cooling soup. "Can't tell until I meet him, can I?"
"I don't like that sullen look to him."
"Marcus, honestly! He's been given Veritaserum; of course he looks sullen." The Auror who had spoken smiled at Robert. "Myself, it's the ones who aren't sullen that I watch. They're either arrogant enough to think they'll fool us, or too dull to realize the indignity of the procedure."
"Don't get chatty, Patrick."
Robert suspected the two were playing him, but he couldn't help but warm to the friendly one. "Can we get it over with?" he asked. He could feel the potion starting to take effect. The men seemed to be sitting farther away, now -- no, close, but apart from him, like people on a television.
Marcus snorted, but Robert could see the shrewd evaluation in his gaze. He could tell that Robert was affected, now. "Let's. What's your name?"
"Robert James Potter." The name came out without any effort on his part, and Robert felt a distant relief. That was the worst of it, he hoped.
"Where did you go to school?"
"Hogwarts -- Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
The men looked at each other. "What was your house?" Patrick asked.
"What NEWTs do you hold?"
"Defense against the Dark Arts, Potions, Charms, and Transfiguration."
Marcus cut in. "In which -- if any -- did you achieve the level of Outstanding or Exceeds Expectations?
"Defense against the Dark Arts and Charms."
"Not --" Marcus stopped himself. "May I have your permission to ask you about Transfiguration?"
"What did you pass with?"
"An Acceptable." Robert shrugged. "James and I aren't entirely alike."
"May I ask you how you met James?"
"How did you meet James?"
"He was attacked for pretending to be me, and I rescued him." Robert managed to keep himself from continuing. Let them use up another of their dozen extra questions. After a few seconds of silence, that was what happened.
"May I ask you who attacked him?"
"Who attacked him?"
Robert shrugged. "I don't know their names. Some local tough boys." Resisting the potion became too much, but he could use it to say something he wanted to say. "I'm sort of a hero for defeating Voldemort. People can't treat me like that, at home. I had to tell them not to beat him up, and then I thought I should find out if he was okay and why he looked like me."
"May I ask what he told you?"
"What did he tell you?"
"That he had set up a defense to an attack by Voldemort, and it set him and his family traveling through other timelines."
"Did you have such a defense in your timeline? If I may ask?"
"You may." The slip gave him a little more control; the potion was not as directly focused on the question. "I didn't. By the time I was his age, I'd already killed Voldemort." Robert was proud of himself for having managed to say something misleading.
"May I ask how old you are?"
"Yes." He didn't like it, though.
"How old are you?"
The men looked at each other again.
"Could be dangerous," Marcus commented.
"Maybe." Patrick turned to Robert. "I would like to ask you if by this point of 'now' in your timeline, our timelines had already diverged. May I?"
"Yes, you may." If he hadn't lost track, that was half their quota.
"Yes. Obviously. You still have--"
"Enough!" Marcus snapped. Patrick sat back.
"Should be safe, then. He can't be sure what will happen, and two years is permissible, in that case." He stretched his arms overhead as he leaned back. "Robert. What was your greatest failure?"
This was on the list. Robert hadn't been sure what he would say, but the words came with compelled ease.
"Voldemort tricked me into thinking he had captured someone I loved, and I got myself and some friends into a dangerous situation. Albus Dumbledore came with some others to rescue us from Death Eaters, and my godfather died in the fight."
"May I ask why you needed to be rescued?" Patrick asked.
"Hero," Marcus added with a sneer.
Robert realized that he couldn't blush. The Veritaserum wouldn't let him feel embarrassed. "Yes."
"Why did you need to be rescued?"
"I was fifteen. I wasn't ready to face him."
They studied him for a moment, Marcus with respect, and Patrick with sympathy. Perhaps those really were their personalities, rather than roles. It was Marcus who shifted forward first.
"Have you ever broken the law?"
This was a return to the script. Robert nodded. "Yes." Marcus continued to look at him, and he couldn't help giving an example. "That battle with the Death Eaters, for example. It was in the Department of Mysteries. We broke into the Ministry building at night."
They considered that. "May I ask if you have ever stolen anything?"
"Patrick! That's a stupid question."
"I don't think it is. Robert, have you ever stolen anything?"
Robert was momentarily discombobulated at the task of sorting out things that he had stolen from those that someone else had stolen for him -- Hermione raiding Snape's stores, for example. The potion pulled answers forward for him. "I stole a map out of Filch's cabinet. And I stole a hippogriff that was going to be executed." He hadn't been told to list everything, he told himself firmly, but his mouth insisted on adding more. "And I've taken things from Honeydukes when it was closed, but I left money, so I don't know if that counts. There's a secret passage that ends in their cellar, and--"
"Entertaining," Marcus said dryly, "but let's move on. Robert, have you ever assisted He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"
"Not intentionally. That battle helped him a bit, I think, but not as much as he had hoped. And he took my blood for a spell, once, when he had me as a prisoner, and he managed to get things out of my mind with Legilimency."
Patrick nodded as if he had expected this answer.
"Why do you want to stay in our timeline?" Marcus asked.
"Remus Lupin is beautiful." Robert stopped, horrified to have said that. His planned answer had vanished from his mind. Remus was beautiful? He thought Remus was beautiful? He did, he supposed. "And I wanted to save Sirius." He tried to recall what he had planned to say. "I could kill Voldemort."
"May I ask why you don't help them at home?"
"Why don't you?"
"Sirius is dead in my timeline, and I don't really know that Remus well. He moved away."
"May I ask if your wife is alive?"
"Yes, you can but--"
"Is she? At home?"
"Where I came from, my girlfriend died. I never married." They must be out of extra questions, Robert thought, or nearly, and they had asked most of the ones on their list, except for the one about his greatest accomplishment, which they must have decided was obvious. Indeed, after consulting their notes, the two Aurors looked at each other again.
Patrick shrugged. "More power to him, I say. I don't see any reason to kick out a man who might bring down You-Know-Who."
Marcus twisted his mouth in distaste for a moment, but then nodded. "Certainly nothing in here to say he would be a problem."
"I don't know." Patrick grinned. "There's that hippogriff."
Back at the crowded house, they celebrated that night with chocolate cake and wine, but not too much of the latter. Everyone was tense with anticipating for the verdict on Sirius. Robert could tell that Remus was waiting to be called in to testify, and equally afraid that he would be, and that he wouldn't be. He was wound up as tight as a spring, and wouldn't touch the wine.
The next morning, Remus raced in to the kitchen. Robert shot away from the cupboard over the sink and tried guiltily to pretend that he wasn't considering adding whisky to his orange juice.
"Sirius is out!" Remus shouted, not even noticing. "James just Floo-called! He's bringing him home! Now! Well, just as soon as the paperwork is together."
He stopped, shaking visibly as his elation transmuted to fear. For a moment he just stood there, trembling. Robert put his arms around him.
"It'll be okay."
"No. No, don't tell me that! I can't--"
"It will be okay," Robert repeated slowly, as Remus pressed against him, hiding his face. "I'll make it be okay."
Remus snorted, but it sounded suspiciously tight. "James."
Robert wasn't sure why he continued to hold off on telling Remus that he wasn't really James. In part it was because Remus might have been interrogated over Sirius, but that wasn't all of it, or he would be starting now. Somehow, he wanted to tell Sirius first, but he knew he would need to tell Remus right afterwards.
"Not James," he warned, ambiguously.
"Couldn't tell, from how you talk. You think you can fix everything." The face Remus lifted was smiling, now, though.
"Sit down and have some tea," Robert said. "We can wait together."
It was actually nearly two hours before their new wards trembled, and the front door opened, and James stepped across the threshold with his prize in tow.
"Sirius!" The man with James wasn't the Sirius that Robert had known in his previous life, but he also wasn't quite Sirius from the old pictures. He was more worn, more tired, with his hair tangled and a faint shadow of the haunted look that Robert remembered all too well. Without thinking, Robert crossed the room in two bounds and threw his arms around him. "God! It's so -- I'm sorry, I know you don't know me..." He tried to pull away, but the man's arms tightened around him as if he, too, needed to touch. James, Robert realized, may not have been desperate enough to hold him this way.
Delighted, Robert relaxed into the embrace until rumpled hair tickled his nose, and let himself take in the man's scent. It was all wrong -- not his scent, itself, but the way that it was stark and barren. Sirius should smell of beer and hippogriff and the mouldering rooms of Grimmauld Place, or of wood smoke and wet rock and clean spring winds. "You smell all wrong," he murmured. "Not like anything." His eyes stung.
"Cleaning charm from the Ministry Healer who oversaw the release process," Sirius explained, with a trace of humor in his voice. He stepped back, gently disengaging from the touch. "I'd be rank without it, believe me." He looked past Robert, and the amusement vanished from his face. "You didn't come to get me."
Remus took a step towards them. He was as white as a ghost. "I thought ... I'd rather have privacy."
"Oh." Sirius looked like the declaration was a death sentence. He nodded in grim resignation. "All right, then. Shall we?" He motioned ahead of him, and the two walked into his bedroom with all the enthusiasm of a funeral procession. The door shut behind them with a dull clack.
"Do you understand that?" Robert asked.
James rolled his eyes. "Considering that Sirius can turn walking to the bakery for bread into an epic, and Remus can make a tragedy out of the wholemeal having all been sold, confusion may be a mark of sanity." He twisted his shoulders in an uneven shrug. "I know what's wrong with Sirius."
"Yeah? I can fill in Remus. He's convinced that Sirius will consider it a betrayal of trust that he didn't disbelieve the evidence and assert that Sirius was innocent. He expects Sirius to dump him, or at least to rail at him. I've told him he's mad."
James snorted. "Sirius, on the other hand, is convinced that Remus will leave him for having lied."
They both gazed at the closed door. There was a suspicious emptiness of sound behind it, as if someone had cast a silencing spell.
"If they manage to communicate so incompetently as to come out of there having broken up, we knock them down and sit on them, right?"
James laughed. "Agreed. You're an entirely satisfactory analog, for an imposter."
Robert raised his eyebrows. "I've been told how much I resemble you."
With an almost embarrassed chuckle, James ruffled up his own hair with a backwards sweep of one hand. "I expect so. Call me if I'm needed, okay? I have to get back to work."
Intervention wasn't necessary. The two emerged an hour later, clinging to each other, faintly pink-eyed, but smelling of sex. Sirius demanded eggs and bacon and toast with marmalade, and was indulged in all of them. He followed that by declaring that he was walking down to the corner shop for cigarettes. Remus and Robert both offered to go with him, but he refused.
"Bold as brass," Remus said with more than a trace of admiration, as he and Robert watched from the bay window Sirius striding down the road.
"He'll get himself killed," Robert said, irritated by all of it, but Sirius came back, smelling of cold air and smoke, and sat with Remus, close but not touching. It didn't do anything to decrease Robert's irritation.
"You should be more careful," Robert warned. "People want to kill you."
With a shrug, Sirius dismissed the objection. "And you, right?"
"I wouldn't refuse another wand at my side. Especially not when I was out of practice."
He wasn't surprised that Sirius dropped his wand out; it was a predictable that he would take the comment as a challenge. Robert had it flying upwards before the second half of the incantation for a Stinging hex made it out of the man's mouth. He caught the wand neatly.
"Watch it on the arrogance," he said, handing it back to Sirius. Aware that both of them were staring at him, he turned his back and left the room. The Stinging Hex that caught him in the bum was also predictable, if disappointingly spiteful. He ignored it and kept walking. It wasn't Cruciatus, after all.
Ten minutes later, Remus knocked on the door of the bedroom. "Robert?"
"What is it?"
"Sirius got called back."
Robert was on his feet and yanking the door open instantly. "What?"
"Frank came-- Frank Longbottom. It's about you, he said. Just questioning."
Robert snorted, but his racing heart started to slow. "Didn't give him long to find out much, did they?"
Remus chuckled. "Oh, I don't know. He can report that you're a damn sight more responsible than our James, and you have frighteningly high pain tolerance."
Robert shrugged. "From having been through the Cruciatus curse multiple times. Oh, and Quidditch injuries, I suppose. Damned if I'm going to give him the satisfaction of yelping from some schoolboy hex." He looked at the worry in Remus's eyes and sighed. "Neither of us is going to get anything done until he's back, are we? Look, there's probably no danger. Let's play a game or something. Exploding Snap?"
"Schoolboy games?" Remus asked pointedly, and he led the way back out to the living room. There, he pushed aside James and Lily's bedding and pulled a small pile of games out from under the coffee table. Robert expected Wizard chess, but was instead presented with something called Scrabble. He hadn't encountered the game before, but Remus didn't seem surprised at that; he told him it was a Muggle game and explained the rules, which were easy enough.
Two rounds in, Robert got up and poured himself a generous glass of whisky. Remus looked at it pointedly, but didn't say anything, and Robert managed "Dazed" on a double word score. He felt guilty about claiming some of the worry in Remus's eyes for himself, and managed not to get himself a refill when the glass was empty. He fidgeted with it anyway.
"Let me take that for you."
As Remus rose, Robert covered his tray theatrically. "You're just trying to get a look at my letters!"
Remus snorted. "Of course. Because I'm in such danger of losing to a novice player."