If you want to know the context of the fic, keep reading, otherwise feel free to move on to the story.
The 1st anniversary of this fic is coming up soon and it was time to rewrite the preamble of this story with the benefit of a year's hindsight.
Essentially, this story came from a want to have two characters, Lily and Harry, interact in a way that wasn't so usual. There is a quote from Sirius from OotP about Harry not wanting him to come into Hogsmeade: "You're less like your father than I thought," he says finally, a definite coolness in his voice. "The risk would've been what made it fun for James." It's not the main reason for this fic, but it really stuck with me.
And before I knew it, it turned into something else entirely, with different characters, different storylines. Some more rushed and clumsy than others. In the end I'm proud of it, and despite a few calls to rewrite, I'll keep it as is.
I'm pleasantly surprised by how much traffic it still gets. I've started a new longfic, Harry Potter and the 3d6 of Destiny, which while having different characters and setting, will still feel very familiar to anyone who read Another Life. If you enjoy this, please check it out.
NOTE: I've opened an email which will be listed in my profile for any hate/fan-mail outside of DM. You can find me on both AO3 and FF under the same username as well. Don't be shy in the reviews.
Chapter 1: New Beginnings
"Remus, this is insane!"
The tension in the Order safe house was palpable. Harry was pacing frantically in the middle of the poorly furbished room. Remus sat on a crate transfigured into a red chair across from him. His wife Tonks was holding his infant child standing behind him.
The Weasleys sat resigned in another corner of the room, Fred and Bill having taken a stray death curse during their escape. Hermione was biting her nails, pondering the whole thing and a very tired Minerva McGonagall rubbed her eyes.
"Harry, believe me, I know how it sounds. But at this point, what choice do we have?" Remus let out an exhausted sigh. "You're the only one who knows his thoughts, has fought him on two occasions. You're the one Albus put his faith in."
Harry laughed mockingly. "Albus? Bloody good he did. Even though I followed his every whim we're in this situation."
"Harry!" Hermione exclaimed. "I know you're frustrated, but Riddle sending his pet where we couldn't find her isn't some great mistake of planning. It's just bad luck."
"Bad luck?" Harry shook his head. He didn't know how to think any more, it was all too much. Part of him wished he just took the first train to the afterlife from King's Cross. "And now what, you want me to play time police? I am pissed at Dumbledore, but even he knew how stupid playing with time was."
A silence came over the room. Truly no one still had the energy to force Harry into yet another suicide mission.
"How do we even know it would work?"
Minerva took a step forward. "I can't say for sure. I'm the only one who was intimately familiar with the forbidden knowledge on the spell, but yes, theoretically, it would place you in the past. Although to say where exactly is a tricky question. What we do know is it exceeds the 2 day limit of the time-turner by a few orders of magnitude."
"Brilliant, bloody brilliant." Harry responded with dripping sarcasm. "And what if I make things even worse? What if more people die because of some stupid mistake on my part?"
Minerva spoke again. "Harry, the only reason Du- Albus gave you the canned speech about time travel was to make sure you didn't stray from the path four years ago." She sat down close to Harry. "The truth is that time is a lot less malleable than you imagine. This is way outside my expertise but time travel used to be a lot more common in the golden age of wizardry, Harry. Merlin being one of the more vocal practitioners. It seems that it is almost impossible to visit disastrous consequences for only one person, even to their future selves. You could go back to the Chamber of Secrets and help yourself kill the basilisk and it wouldn't bring any harm to yourself or the people around you."
Harry looked at her in disbelief. "How can you be so sure?"
"Because, Harry, as I revealed when we narrowly escaped, I've been the keeper of Hogwarts' Library of Fate for over two decades now. I don't believe in much, but I do believe that the prophecy still holds true, you are meant to destroy Tom Riddle, in this time or another."
Harry sat down with a thump on the purple velvet couch, closing his eyes. He felt Hermione's hand on his shoulder and he took it. He was infinitely grateful she had survived this, she was an island of logic and reason in a sea of madness.
"What do I even do when I get there? I'll have no money, no friends, nothing."
Minerva let slip the first genuine smile since they got here. "I think you know, Harry. Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it."
Hermione took out her bottomless bag. "Enough galleons for purchases, clothes, books, your cloak, spare glasses, even a hoard of food that will keep for years."
She sat next to him and handed him the bag. "It's not much but take it with you."
"Can't believe Trelawney gave you such a hard time, you're basically an oracle already."
Hermione managed a dry giggle. "I'm just prepared."
Ron and George had made their way to the center of the room. It was Ron who spoke. "Harry if you do this. Thank you. I haven't always been the best mate, but thanks for saving our arses."
Harry stood up and gave Ron a hug. Somehow the reality of doing this hadn't settled in. He would leave behind friends, no, family and appear into the unknown, with only his wits, his wand, and granted, a veritable mountain of supplies. But he would leave his very life behind.
"I guess there's nothing left to be said then."
As hugs and tears filled the room and he said his goodbyes, Harry's head was spinning with a million what ifs. Minerva drew up the spell circle, placed the stones of power and made ready the incantation with the help of Remus, Tonks and Hermione. A pillar of magical energies rose up to the heavens and Harry thought once again, that there was a very real chance that even if it worked, he would likely never make it back here, back home.
Harry felt like his whole body was strung through the pin of a needle and felt his behind hit dirt as his head spun. He could feel the residual energies of the spell crackling angrily around him, like a piece of the universe had been displaced. He opened and shielded his eyes.
To his surprise, he was standing in Hogsmeade, as he recognized the Three Broomsticks. "Lucky."
He stood up and in his mind started racing with possible stories. Damn, what year is it.
He made his way inside. "Hello?"
He should've been expecting it but inside was a young and cheery looking lady with unruly dirty blonde hair sweeping the floor, and he realized he was looking at the very proprietor, only much younger, Rosmerta.
"Oh hello dear." She paused. "You look… familiar."
He had to think quickly. "I just arrived. I'm supposed to meet the headmaster about my transfer later."
"A new student! How exciting. Are you hungry? It's about noon, you don't look like you've eaten."
"Thanks, I'd love something to eat."
He saw a newspaper sitting on the counter. "Do you mind?" He asked.
"Go ahead, I'm finished with it. Make yourself comfortable."
He took the copy of the Prophet and took a deep breath before seating himself at a table. The date. "You've got to be kidding me." He gasped.
"Not a fan of Yorkshire I take it." Rorsmerta said jokingly, bringing him a hot plate of stew.
He glanced at the cover, front page was yesterday's quidditch match. "No." He laughed.
But the year. Somehow, by some twist of fate, by some mistake he could only imagine, he had landed in October 13th, 1976. And he felt a headache coming on. Not only were Riddle's whereabouts unknown, but if he walked into Hogwarts right now, he would see his parents, his godfather, alive, breathing, getting ready for their sixth year at Hogwarts.
"Butterbeer please." He sighed.
A belly full of beer and fish head stew, he had somewhat calmed down. If what Minerva had said was true, he could just stay under the radar for a few years at Hogwarts while he figured out where Riddle was hiding. All he would have to do was cash in a debt with much interest with the headmaster.
He paid for his food and left Hogsmeade and made for the headmaster's tower donning his cloak, opening the Marauder's map. For now he ignored the familiar names bustling in the Great Hall and looked at the footsteps pacing in the tower.
The statues guarding the office still felt oppressive, but in a matter of minutes he would have his place at Hogwarts guaranteed. Come on, daddy needs a new pair of shoes. "Sherbet Lemon." He whispered.
The entrance made itself visible and he relaxed. He silently ascended the steps and at the top was standing a much unchanged and nonchalant Albus Dumbledore. He stopped, Dumbledore's gaze piercing right through him. "You would do well to not sneak up on me young man. I can be quite fidgety at times."
Harry smiled as he took off the cloak and held it before him. "Before you go calling me a thief, know that an identical cloak is with one of the student as we speak."
"While I don't appreciate thieves, I appreciate liars even less. Why did you come here boy?" He could see Albus ready to take him down in an instant. It was easy to forget he was one of the most feared wizards of the age, albeit mostly by unscrupulous individuals. But this was definitely not the time to back down.
"I'm not lying. Because you gave me this cloak, because you owe me."
Albus' face was inscrutable, but no doubt all kinds of possibilities were unfolding behind those questioning eyebrows. "And pray tell then, what is it that you want from me?"
Harry smiled. "Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who ask for it."
Dumbledore's face was pensive, and Harry knew he only had to push a little further. "I need a place to fit in, until I do what I have to."
Harry felt a pang of satisfaction as he saw, probably for the first time, what was a genuine look of surprise on the old warlock's face.
"Impossible." He uttered almost imperceptibly.
The old man seemed to age a few decades over the span of seconds as he sat down behind his desk. "How?"
"Minerva. She took action because of our failures."
"What exactly did I ask of you?"
Harry's face soured. "Only my life."
After a long moment of deliberation, Albus stood up. "I'll accept your conditions. There's a room downstairs near the magnolias, the password is Dracolich. Be sure to think of a fitting name because you'll be an official student of Hogwarts by tomorrow evening."
Harry felt uncomfortable, and couldn't fault himself for it. He was standing at the front of the Great Hall and all eyes were on him. Including the eyes of a very teenage and very alive Lily Evans, and a curious Sirius Black. His father on the other hand, seemed much more interested in the quidditch page of the Daily Prophet. It took a herculean effort to contain his emotions, but a year of war and suffering had tempered him for that.
Dumbledore clapped twice and the hall went quiet. "This year, brings something unusual. A late admission. For the next year, you will be joined in your studies, by our new student, Harry Peltier. For those who wonder if this new addition will not lag behind, I assure you and all professors that his private education has left nothing to desire compared to Hogwarts standards. I expect, nothing less than a warm welcome from all of you, no matter the house."
Dumbledore gestured to the chair and professor Slughorn lifted the sorting hat from its place. Harry sat down. He had an inkling to what would happen here, and he probably wouldn't like it.
The hat was placed on his head and a flurry of whispering and bated breaths came over the hall.
"Hmmmm. Interesting. A visitor. From far away. Courage, that is sure, but also a need to stay in the shadows. Cunning. Burgeoning intelligence. And talent, without bounds." The hat stayed silent for a moment, combing Harry's mind and a thought escaped Harry's subconscious. Thank you. The hat wouldn't betray his origins.
"Hah! My pleasure. Of course. Slytherin!"
The green clad table erupted in cheers and a hole made itself in the ranks. As he walked over he couldn't help but steal a glance to the Gryffindor table. And there he saw a pair of enchanting, questing green eyes stare back at him, she smiled and Harry was completely lost.
He promptly sat down. A boy with black hair extended a hand, Harry shook it. "Regulus. Black."
Harry's mouth dropped a little, but he quickly caught himself. "You're already off to a good start. Welcome to Slytherin, house of winners. You'll do great things here, I can tell."
The table cheered and Harry was introduced. The quidditch team took to him quickly after they figured his interest for the sport and he spent a much more pleasant time than he would have expected at a table full of future death eaters. He occasionally snuck a peek at the next table over, and every time without fail he'd be met with those warm green eyes. Is she staring at me?
It took every ounce of self-control to go back to the Slytherin dorms and not race to hug the family he lost. But the weight of the day made him exhausted, and he didn't have much energy for socializing. He felt like crying. About the war, about his friends who he couldn't reach if he wanted to, about being surrounded by people but essentially alone. He focused on dreams of emerald and fiery auburn.
Harry was biting down on a piece of toast thinking of the task ahead. It was Regulus who interrupted those thoughts.
"So, Peltier. What classes are you taking? We took our O.W.L.'s last year but we don't really know what you're capable of."
"Hmm. DA, apparition, magical creatures, transfiguration, nothing fancy."
"Well, well. Good on you, taking apparition. Some of the less brave among us didn't have the stomach for it." He said looking at the end of the table. There was a brooding kid hunched over a book. Harry brushed it off.
Of course he was already very familiar with apparition. He thought of using his rerun at Hogwarts to fill in the gaps in his knowledge, but he wasn't here to dilly dally, he was here to take out that bastard Riddle before he could do any harm.
Lucinda, a feisty girl with dark brown hair piped up, she was on the quidditch team. "Hey want to go flying this afternoon? You said you liked quidditch, what do you say to a friendly little tryout?"
Her look implied grueling more than friendly. He pondered it. On the one hand his skill at flying might give him an easier time fitting into his house, on the other hand it might make him stand out, which was counterproductive if anything. He shrugged. "I don't own a broom."
Regulus gave a hearty laugh. "Oh don't worry about that. See, my family's loaded, Peltier. We have enough brooms to fit two teams."
"Oh come on. It's not like you have anything to do. You don't take Arithmancy do you?" Lucinda pressured.
"No. Fine I'll give it a try."
He couldn't help but think this was a bad idea.