A/N: Harry is going to be using an alias in this fic, and I'll refer to him by it to avoid confusion.

I'll be responding to reviews that I think need responding, but not all, because I really hate it when you have to scroll through three pages of author's notes and review responses.

Mystical Witch: I've changed my answer and decided that Dumbledore really did think Sirius was dead.

Disclaimer: I have not bought the rights to Harry Potter in the twenty-four hours since I last posted.

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Chapter 1: Genesis

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1975

Harry had no sense of anything other than himself, his clothes and his backpack, except for the vague feeling of moving in some direction; everything around him was a shapeless void. Harry looked at his watch, waiting for the timer to reach the one minute mark.

0:57…0:58…0:59…1:00.

Tempus normallo!

And Harry was standing in the smallest bedroom of number four Privet Drive, just like that. He couldn't feel the landing at all, but the suddenness of the rooms' appearance startled him and he jumped at least a foot, then made a very audible thump as he came back down, loaded as he was with his backpack; somehow it hadn't occurred to him until just now that he wouldn't want to be seen in the house in whatever time he'd landed in.

Footsteps were coming down the hall, no doubt attracted by the noise, and Harry reached into the pack and pulled out his invisibility cloak (which he'd put on top) and threw it over himself as just as a middle aged woman opened the door. She looked around for only a moment before leaving.

Letting out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding, Harry left and made his way downstairs only to find the father of the family enjoying a weekend with two young children, and it ended up being over two hours before he was able to escape without anyone noticing a door opening. Still, Harry was feeling quite pleased with himself as he left: he had traveled through time and escaped the Dursleys, Voldemort, the Ministry and Dumbledore all at once, and with his invisibility cloak, the Marauders' Map and a million pounds that he'd gotten changed at Gringotts during one of his trips to get items for a ritual.

Harry ducked into the first alley he came to and took off his invisibility cloak, then made his way to a bus stop he knew to be nearby and got off at a mall in downtown Surrey. After obtaining contact lenses at an eye care store and buying some concealer, Harry went into the bathroom and tried casting color changing charms on them, and, with several minutes' work, got them to change his eye color to blue. With a thought, he turned his hair blond and lengthened it until it reached his shoulders; a useful skill he'd discovered one night while trying to distract himself from his most recent nightmare (about Voldemort entering the Carcer Negra to torture Sirius even more than he already was being tortured) by attempting to change his appearance like Tonks. He'd only been able to change his hair, but a book he'd gotten on the same trip as the muggle money had revealed that he was a hirumagus, a wizard who was able to wandlessly transfigure his hair; apparently it worked differently from the Metamorphmagus ability and enabled him to turn his hair into just about anything with enough practice. Taking out the concealer, Harry carefully covered his scar with it until he was sure no one could see it and secured it with sticking and preservation charms. Harry was counting on some of the other rituals in Slytherin's book to change the rest of his appearance before school started; he just hoped he didn't end up looking like Voldemort.

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1975

11:30 AM

Harry (now calling himself Mordecai Saunders) stepped out of Ollivander's, makers of fine wands. Said wand shop didn't have anything suited for him, except the wand he would buy in the future, but he obviously couldn't take that one; so when Mr. Ollivander had been in the back, Mordecai had transformed and contrived to remove some of his fur, which Mr. Ollivander agreed to make into a wand that would hopefully suit Mordecai better than the others. He said he was going to close the store for the day because he was so excited to be able to make a wand with a displacer beast's fur, and that Mordecai could pick it up in the afternoon.

Mordecai made his way toward the entrance to Knockturn Alley, as he expected he would be able to find more information on Occlumency and Legilimency there than in Diagon Alley. The place did indeed look quite dark: there were hags hawking everything from newt eyes to shriveled fingers, bookshops with titles such as Dark Arts Mastery: The Road to Power by T. M. Riddle on display, and Borgin and Burkes had what was private merchandise in Harry's time out front. Mordecai supposed that Voldemort openly challenging the Ministry was making them bolder; a calendar in the window of one store told him it was 1975.

After a moments' thought, Mordecai decided he'd visit the snake shop before the mind magic bookstore: it would be a lot more interesting. On entering, Mordecai found the shop close and packed; cages with snakes of all kinds and colors were stacked to the ceiling in groups on the floor with narrow aisles between, and the shelves along all the walls were crammed with assorted snake care products, snake parts useful for potions and a large number of dark items often used in conjunction with snakes.

Squeezing past a hag and nearly knocking a small, goblin-like man over, Mordecai make his way to the nearest cage, which housed a snake that was about five feet long and jet black. The sign overhead read 'Argentine Purple Jagger.'

"Hello," Mordecai hissed.

The snake stirred and looked at him, "Did you sspeak to me?"

"Yess."

The snake mulled that over for a moment and said, "I didn't know humanss could."

"Very few can."

"What iss thiss place?"

Mordecai found it extremely awkward to explain to a creature that it was being held in a cage until someone bought it for their amusement, but he managed somehow.

The snake took it surprisingly well, commenting that humans were odd predators, 'hunting' their 'prey' with 'money' and then not bothering to eat it. After an awkward pause, Mordecai asked the snake if it wanted to come with him and it eagerly accepted.

After a stop across the street Mordecai ducked into an alley to shrink the books he had bought on occlumency and legilimency, put them in his pocket and headed toward Diagon Alley with the intention of having an ice cream at Florean Fortescue's, but another shop caught his eye. The sign overhead read simply Wand Improvements.

The store was squeezed between two others and recessed slightly, with a narrow, dingy opening, as if the builder had tried to make it inconspicuous, but looked quite busy anyway. Entering the crowded shop, Mordecai made his way to the long counter at the back and asked what the improvements were and the woman behind the counter shoved a catalog at him without even looking up from her magazine.

Flipping through, Mordecai saw that the shop mostly offered cosmetic and durability improvements, though they also had a wide variety of more useful and expensive upgrades that were listed under Discrete Services. It was these that interested him, as he didn't really care about appearances that much and figured he would be able to add strengthening charms himself.

On returning to the counter and being helped by a girl of about his age, Mordecai asked to have a discharge stone added to his wand (which would charge itself by taking a little energy from every spell he cast, and then could be used to boost spells) and to have it bonded to a ring (allowing it him to transfigure it into the ring and back with a thought).

The girl asked what sort of animal he would like to hold the discharge stone, Mordecai told her a winged cat and she walked off to consult with an older man. There was something oddly familiar about her that he simply couldn't place; maybe one of her future children went to Hogwarts…

She returned with what looked like a miniature animated stuffed winged cat and coaxed it to fly onto his wand, then drew her own and transfigured it into holly wood, so that it was perched in front of the handle. With a little more transfiguration and charm work the legs had disappeared so that it looked as if it were emerging from the wand, wings extended and ready to fly down its length, jaws open to receive the stone.

Unfortunately, the shop did not have a discharge stone suited to Mordecai or his wand, though he was able to have it treated with a potion that would increase the effectiveness of some spells at the expense of others; Mordecai chose to sacrifice any capability with the Dark Magic in exchange for enhanced shield spells.

Mordecai then went over to a display case and chose a ring to bond his wand to, and brought it over to the girl, whom he still couldn't place.

On his way out, Mordecai examined the ring on his left finger: it was a plain gold band most of the way around, with a large, flat ruby partially covered with finely crafted gold leaf over the center in the shape of a (roaring?) cat, the ruby showing through in places as if the cat had red and gold fur.

As he entered Diagon Alley, Mordecai began to think about what sort of cover story he would need if he was going to attend Hogwarts. He'd have to say he was home schooled, as no wizard institution would have records of him, and that his parents and any records of his education had suddenly disappeared. Maybe a Death Eater attack? It would be close enough to true, and Mordecai didn't want to have to keep up with too many lies, or he might slip and say something wrong.

While he had been thinking, Mordecai had gotten an ice cream at Florean Fortesque's, and now he realized that none of the tables were open. Looking around, he saw his mother sitting alone at a table and made his way over with absolutely no idea what he was going to say. He'd often dreamed or about what he'd say if ever got to talk to his parents, but it had never occurred to him that they wouldn't know him from Salazar Slytherin and he wouldn't be able to discuss anything that happened after 1975.

"Hello?" Lily asked, and Mordecai realized he'd been standing in front of her for nearly a minute.

"Can I sit here? Everywhere else is full." Now he was blushing in embarrassment and looked like some stricken teen asking his first crush out. Wonderful.

"Okay," Lily said, a little warily.

"Sorry. I'm a bit out of it today," Mordecai supplied, eager to give Lily an explanation other than the stricken admirer scenario. It probably happened to her quite a bit, as she was very attractive.

After a moment of awkward silence, he took to watching the people wandering Diagon Alley, some glancing about nervously and hurrying to return to the safety of their homes, others defiantly taking their time and walking down the middle of the street. It was a group of the latter that finally caught his attention.

James Potter was strutting through Diagon Alley telling a joke to Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. They looked very different from what Harry remembered: Remus didn't have the premature wrinkles and worn appearance of his future self, Sirius' eyes no longer held the haunted look of Azkaban that had never quite left them, and James… was real. A quick check revealed that Pettigrew was not with them, which was good, since Mordecai somehow didn't want his first meeting with his parents to involve murder.

Lily was feeling a little less nostalgic. "Not him again! Can't he just leave me alone during the summer?"

At Mordecai's confused glance she explained, "He's an arrogant prat who goes to my school, and he's got this ridiculous crush on me. You don't go to Hogwarts, do you?"

"No, I was homeschooled."

"Was?"

"Voldemort."

"Oh, that's horrible. I'm sorry."

If it hadn't been such a serious topic, Mordecai might have found it funny that his mother was sorry to hear about her own death. As it was he just wanted to change the subject, "I think I'll go to Hogwarts this year."

"I'm sure you'll like it, Hogwarts is really great, even with Potter around. What year will you be in?"

"Sixth."

"Me too. You can borrow my booklist if you like, as you might not be able to read all the textbooks before September if you wait."

"Thanks," Mordecai said, smiling; Lily was starting to remind him of Hermione.

Unfortunately, James spotted Lily before he had gotten in line. After giving their orders to Remus, James and Sirius made a beeline for her.

After rumpling his hair a little extra, James asked, "Having a good summer, Evans?"

"Alright, until you showed up." If Lily was starting sixth year, that meant the scene he had seen in Snape's pensieve had happened fairly recently, and Lily had been a bit peeved with James afterwards.

"I don't remember seeing you at Hogwarts," James said, pretending he hadn't heard.

"I was home schooled, but I'll be going to Hogwarts this year."

"Oh. I hope you're in Gryffindor, and if do anything to Evans, I'll kill you."

"Is that how you usually greet people?"

"Pretty much," Remus said, returning with the Marauders' ice creams.

James spared a moment to glare at Remus before pulling a chair over to Mordecai and Lily's table.

"Thanks," Lily said coldly, propping her feet on the chair before James had a chance to sit in it. Since the table was against the wall there wasn't any more space for another chair, so the Marauders took a table next to Lily's as it opened up.

"Have you heard anything about Voldemort? (Lily, Remus and Sirius flinched) I haven't been paying any attention to the news lately."

"You'd have to be living in a cave to not hear the latest about Voldemort." James had put a slight emphasis on 'Voldemort,' as if to announce that he wasn't afraid to say his name.

"I've been grieving…he killed my parents."

"I'm sorry," James said, "I shouldn't have said that."

After an uncomfortable pause, Lily gave him a run-down on Voldemort: "He's only been attacking once a month for the last four months, and not against anyone important. It's like he's barely hanging on and is trying to remind people he's still dangerous."

Mordecai doubted that, given the descriptions he'd heard from Sirius of the first war, and James thought so as well, "I doubt that; if the Ministry had had any big successes they would've announced it. He's probably busy with something else."

"Like looking for something," Mordecai thought aloud. In his first five years at Hogwarts the things Voldemort had looked for included a stone that would give him is body, immortality as long as he kept it and nearly unlimited wealth; Ginny's life and the closure of Hogwarts in exchange for his body; Harry's blood, to get his body back and give him Lily's protection; and a prophecy that would enable him to figure out how to kill Harry. All in all, Voldemort looking for something was generally bad. "Maybe something to help him in trying to become immortal," all of the above items had been for that purpose (the last indirectly through increasing his chances at killing Harry), it would make sense that whatever he was looking for now would be too.

"What do you mean? Do you know something about him?"

"I saw him at a distance," oddly enough, it was a lie: Harry had seen Voldemort plenty of times, but it had always been up close and personal, "the only way his appearance could be as deformed as it is is through the extremely dark rituals required for immortality."

After about five seconds of complete silence from everyone else, Mordecai got the idea that he had said something wrong.

"You've studied ritual magic?"

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1975

Why did I have to put my foot in my mouth like that? Mordecai thought miserably as he walked down Diagon Alley, viciously kicking any stone unlucky enough to be in his path. James had threatened his life if he ever even looked at Lily again, Sirius was certain he would be 'the slimiest Slytherin since Salazar himself,' Lily had run off crying that she could never make any friends without James ruining everything, and, to top it all off, he hadn't had time to get the booklist from her. Mordecai tried to reassure himself by reminding himself that the only things James knew about ritual magic were that Dark Lords used it and it was highly illegal, but that just wasn't very helpful.

And the snake, which he still hadn't named yet, was incredibly curious about human interaction and couldn't stop pestering him.

Spotting a good distraction, Mordecai made his way to a temporary booth with a sign above it that encouraged people to 'join the aurors today and change the world,' here, again, people divided into two distinct groups: the more numerous crossed to the opposite side of the street and stayed as far from the booth as possible, as if to say they weren't fighting and would Voldemort please leave them alone; the smaller group passed nearby and exchanged greetings (they seemed much friendlier) or the absence of news about Voldemort.

Reaching the recruiting stand, Mordecai picked up a brochure and saw that anyone with a N.E.W.T. in defense and a second in either charms or transfiguration could sign up for training; they obviously weren't being picky.

An auror behind the booth was explaining the use of a potion he was holding up to several others nearby, "–so if you can't drink any without getting a headache you're a squib, 2 or 3 drops is average, and Dumbledore can drink seven, which is the highest possible."

"What about Voldemort?" Mordecai asked.

Everyone in hearing distance, including the aurors behind the booth, flinched. After moments pause, the auror who had been speaking said, "He doesn't exactly make a habit of visiting the Ministry to give us information, does he?"

"I suppose not," Mordecai admitted, wondering if Madam Pomphrey could cure foot-in-mouth disease, "Could you test me?"

"Alright," the auror said, conjuring a glass and adding a drop of the potion he was holding to it. Those nearby moved closer to get a better look, Mordecai Saunders seemed to have the same natural talent for attracting attention as Harry Potter.

As he drained the first glass and felt nothing, Mordecai thought, Malfoy can't call me a squib now.

A second glass, no headache. The Boy-Who-Lived is at least average.

A third glass, no headache. Of course, Snape will just think it's a fake potion.

A fourth glass, no headache. Mordecai vaguely wondered where he'd be on one of those curves muggles plot people's test scores on.

A fifth glass, no headache. Maybe now–

A sixth glass, no headache. –I've got a chance–

A seventh glass, no headache. –at beating him.

An eighth glass, and Mordecai clapped his hands to his head as a painful throbbing filled it.

Mordecai mumbled his thanks and stumbled off not noticing the looks he was receiving from his audience. Another auror informed him that headache potions wouldn't help this particular headache, and Mordecai grumbled something indistinct before heading back up the alley. He'd had a couple more things he'd intended to do this afternoon, but right now he was just going to get a room at the Leaky Cauldron and try to sleep.