This chapter contains slash. Also, everything in italics is stuff from the unchanged future.
"We're stuck." Harry scowled even as he said the words, glancing out the crack in the door. He'd seen the demons already though and he knew they wouldn't be able to orb or shimmer, not without them tracking it.
"They'll give up eventually," Chris commented from where he was leaning against the wall in the tiny space they had chosen to hide in. He had a hand pressed to his side, where he'd taken a glancing blow from a fireball.
"Good thing they didn't see who we were," Harry commented, moving over to him and taking off the small pack he always carried with him whenever they went out of the safe house lately. He pulled down the hood of the jacket he'd worn.
"Yeah," Chris said, grimly. Wyatt was obsessed with finding Chris, had been since Chris had escaped him the last time and if the demons had gotten a good look at them, and had called Wyatt, they'd both be screwed.
"Let me see," Harry said.
"It's not bad," Chris stated but he still lifted his shirt for Harry. He was right. It wasn't life threatening or anything but Harry still grimaced at the burn and took out the salve from his backpack. He'd gotten good at making the stuff, and at a few minor healing spells, since he'd joined Chris in this fight. He rubbed the stuff gently into the wound before letting Chris drop his shirt again. For several seconds he didn't move before he leaned forward and kissed him gently.
"I love you," Harry said.
Chris smiled. "Love you too."
Harry woke with a start, sitting up, an almost painful gasp escaping him. He sat, breathing as if he'd been doing something strenuous for several seconds before he noticed the other person across from him, sitting up as well.
"Chris…" His tone was soft, astounded.
"Harry?" Chris' voice trembled a bit, and then they were moving, scrambling over to each other. Chris crashed into him with enough force to knock him backwards again and his lips found the other boys.
Harry's arms went around Chris, dragging him closer, even as he deepened the kiss. When he pulled back finally, they were both breathing hard and Harry reached up to run a hand through Chris' hair, pushing it out of his eyes.
"Chris." For a moment, he was twenty four years old again, and the old memories that Chris' spell had brought up blocked out the ones he'd gained when Chris had changed the future.
"It's so…strange," Chris said after a moment, taking in Harry's features.
"Yeah," Harry agreed before kissing the other boy again. "I can't believe what you did worked."
Chris nodded, chewing on his lip a moment. He didn't move away from Harry, however. The other memories were coming up too, tangling in with the memories he'd gained from the spell. He saw Harry squeeze his eyes shut and figured the same thing was happening to him.
"Let's go," Chris said, grabbing Harry's hand and standing up. "I can't be around my family right now." Harry nodded and Chris orbed them both out.
"You're lying." Harry blurted the words out without really thinking about them first, glaring at Remus Lupin. It was the last day of school, the last day he had there. Tomorrow, he'd be headed back to the Dursley's. The man was leaving, and Harry had lost his chance to live with Sirius. All in all, he was not having the best end of term.
"I'm not," Remus countered gently. "I simply…thought you should know. Considering…"
"Considering what?" Harry asked, crossing his arms and leaning back in the chair. He figured he was looking pretty petulant but at that moment, he didn't care. Why was Lupin playing with him like this? Especially after what had happened with Sirius?
"Harry…I've noticed several things since we've met that have me concerned."
"Things like what?"
"Well…" Lupin hesitated and took a deep breath before continuing. "Harry…I don't want to push you but you agreed pretty quickly to live with Sirius, for example. Even though you had just met him."
"So?" But apprehension formed in his chest. He'd never intentionally hidden how his home life was. In fact, he'd let more than one thing slip to Ron, especially when they'd both been first years but it still wasn't something he wanted to talk about.
"So…I had thought maybe…" Lupin trailed off. "I can't take you in, Harry. And with Sirius still on the run…But maybe…"
"Maybe what? Some guy you say might have had a one night stand with my mum might want to?" Harry was back to glaring. He hated the insinuation to begin with. That his mother could have been with someone else when she was married to his dad. That someone else could have been his dad…
"I thought you should know," Lupin said, a little sadly. "And…I'm also…sorry. That I couldn't take you myself, that I wasn't there before. But…if you wanted me to, I could try and find him for you."
Harry stilled at this, and then opened his mouth to tell him no. To tell him that he didn't even believe this story to begin with but something stopped him. He blinked several times as he thought of it. He remembered the way that Sirius had looked at him in the brief time they'd had with each other. He'd never had an adult look at him like that.
"If…If you're telling the truth…"
"I am," Lupin said firmly.
Harry nodded, and then got up. He started to leave but turned at the last second. "If you can't find him…or he doesn't want…I don't want to know." Then he ran from the room.
Harry stood at the edge of the bridge, starring out at the city, a conflicted look on his face. Both he and Chris had been silent for some time now, trying to sort through the memories. Memories of two separate lives.
Slowly, he brought up his hands and looked down at them. His sixteen year old hands. He was taller than he had been the first time he'd been sixteen, he thought. Taller, with a bit more meat on his bones because he hadn't spent so many years of his childhood living in a closet.
He frowned. Without Chris' interference it would have taken a lot longer for him and Cole to meet. He'd been thirteen the first time around, and it had only happened because of Remus. Remus had been the one to inform him. According to the man, he had been the one to go out to look for Lily Potter after an attack had left her with the false belief that James was dead.
Both Sirius and Lily had been inconsolable and Lily had done something when she'd gone out to a muggle bar. Lily had told Remus this, and Remus had kept it a secret, up until he'd found out about the treatment Harry had been receiving from the Dursley's. He couldn't take guardianship. Neither could Sirius. But he'd wanted to get Harry away from his mother's sister and husband and saw Cole Turner as the only way.
Harry blinked as he thought on it. The two separate lives really were separate. Completely different. All the people he'd known in his former life…Sirius, Remus, Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione…
Then there had been the war. A war that had officially started when he'd been fifteen and the ministry had finally admitted their mistakes. A war that had ended, yes, with Voldemort's defeat but had also taken a good toll on the good side.
He wondered how different things were in the wizarding world with his presence there. Was Voldemort back yet this time around? Harry's fists clenched at his side. What was he supposed to do now? He had to go back didn't he? There was still that piece of Voldemort's soul, wasn't there? Inside him?
Harry nearly jumped when a hand touched his and he relaxed his fist finally to allow Chris to thread their fingers together again. He looked over at the other boy. Chris' gamble had paid off. He'd saved Wyatt. But there were still things they had to do.
"We'll do it together," Chris said.
"Not just us," Harry countered. "I need to go talk to Dad." He paused, hesitated but there really was no choice. "I think it's time you actually talked to your family."
And Chris nodded, didn't argue this time. He knew it too.
"I won't do this." The stubborn refusal had been spoken by the seated sixteen year old more than once during the day and he glared at his older brother.
"Chris…you're not being reasonable."
"Reasonable?" Chris scoffed. "I'm not being reasonable?! How could you think this is right?"
"Right?!" Wyatt stood then, a scowl forming on his face. "Who cares if its right? You want to die too?"
"Why?" Chris countered. "Are you gonna kill me if I keep saying no?"
At this, Wyatt's eyes grew darker. "I'm doing this to protect you! To protect all of us!"
"By betraying everything Mom ever taught us?"
"Everything she ever taught us?" Wyatt mocked. "Where did all of that get her?"
Chris flinched and trembled a bit. "It wasn't your fault," he said quietly because he'd always known that was a part of this. It wasn't all that had done it but it was part of it. Neither of them had been able to save her.
"No, I wasn't even there," Wyatt said bitterly. "But I'll make sure. Mom had it wrong, Chris, and in the end it got her killed. In the end, they weren't powerful enough to stop it."
"So that's all that matters now? It doesn't matter that you've got demons working for you, that you're trying to take over the underworld-"
"Not trying," Wyatt cut him off, a humorless smile spreading across his face.
Chris stared at him, and felt like he might be sick. Wyatt's expression was resolved, dark, and Chris knew he was losing this fight. Chris gripped the sides of his seat. He couldn't give up, though. Not on this. Not on Wyatt.
"I can't. I won't. And I'm not going ever give up on making you see that this is wrong."
Wyatt Halliwell was more than a little confused…and frustrated. Frustrated, mostly, with his younger brother. His younger brother that he had always been close to, at least up until lately. Lately, it hadn't been that way. Lately, Chris had taken to avoiding him as much as possible.
Wyatt knew Chris spent most of his time with a friend. He'd met the other boy before. His name was Harry and Wyatt knew he was Chris' best friend. But Chris and Harry had been friends since they were very young children and Chris had never blown off family for Harry before.
No, there was something else going on. Wyatt knew that his mother and father were frustrated and worried too. He'd seen that, and seen the way that Chris had been avoiding their parents as much as possible too.
So, he was a bit surprised when a knock came on his bedroom door and he opened it to find Chris standing there.
"Hey, Wy," Chris greeted with a small smile that did not reach his eyes, surprising Wyatt yet again with the use of a nickname he hadn't heard in a while.
"Hey." Wyatt backed up to let Chris in and his younger brother walked hesitantly forward. Wyatt frowned at his stance, at the way that Chris stuffed his hands in his pockets and stared at him. There was some sort of wariness in Chris' eyes and something strange about him in general. He seemed…different.
"What's wrong?" Wyatt asked, his frown deepening.
"I just…I came to apologize." Chris ducked his head. "For the way I've been acting lately. It's not fair…to you, anyway."
Wyatt raised an eyebrow. "You going to give this same apology to Mom and Dad?"
"Planning on it."
"What has been going on with you?"
Chris chewed his lip, and the look on his face turned imploring. "I need your help."
Wyatt studied his brother a moment but stepped forward. "You know I'd help you with anything you need."
This time, the smile did reach Chris' eyes. "I know."
Harry was hardly aware that he was screaming, fighting against the hold, against the hands trying to keep him from jumping into the fight, trying to drag him out of the room. He didn't even look at the blonde man, at the monster that had thrown the potion. The potion, that was still reacting.
Harry met his father's eyes as the flames consumed him, still screaming. He felt it when Chris orbed them away and he had just enough time to see Cole disappear in a violent explosion before the room disappeared as well.
He wasn't aware of where he and Chris landed, didn't care. He had stopped screaming but his stomach rolled and he was violently sick a moment later, until he was dry heaving. It was his fault. Cole had gone there to save his life.
Chris held onto him as he cried and puked and hated himself.
Harry shimmered straight into the living room of the house, startling his father with the action, who had been sitting on the couch, flipping channels on the television with a bored look on his face.
At the sight of Harry, however, Cole switched it off and stood. "Where have you been?" He asked with a frown. "I got a call earlier. You've been skipping school?"
Harry cringed. He'd been expecting that, ever since Chris had said that Piper had busted him for the same thing. "I've been with Chris."
Cole sighed. "Look, Harry, I get that you and the kid have-"
"I remember," Harry cut him off.
Cole paused. "What?"
"The other life…timeline…whatever? Chris used a spell and now I remember it."
Cole raised both eyebrows, surprised. "Oh."
"Yeah. I need your help."
He didn't cry when he first saw the bodies. Chris stood numb, still…and stared emptily down at his aunt and uncle. They stared vacantly back up at him. Slowly, he knelt beside Paige and reached out to close her eyes.
That was it then. His family was gone. And this time, it had been because of Wyatt. The numbness didn't leave at that thought. Later, he'd pick himself up, go back to the safe house, go back to Harry and he'd keep fighting. Later, he'd refuse once again to give up on his brother. But for those few moments, while he knelt next to the body of the last of the charmed ones, he gave up.
"What is going on here, boys?" Piper asked, with some exasperation in her voice as she studied her two children. They were seated in the living room of the manor. She and Leo across from Wyatt and Chris.
"I don't know," Wyatt answered. "He wouldn't tell me until you guys were here to."
When her youngest son lifted his head, the look on his face, in his eyes froze her for several seconds. "I remember," he stated.
"Remember what?" Leo asked, his tone concerned but Piper knew, even before Chris spoke again. It made perfect sense, now.
Chris turned his gaze on his father. "You remember when the girls fought the Titans?"
Leo paled and leaned back. "You remember…"
"I've been having these…dreams," Chris admitted. "I thought I was going crazy. They were…just too real. Too vivid. But now…now I know what they were."
"But…how?" Piper choked out.
"I don't…" Chris' expression was pained and she saw it then, how he looked different. His eyes were different. She remembered an older Chris, the young man that had been in his twenties and had come to the past to save them all. He'd always been guarded and he'd always had that quality about him, that his eyes were older than his years.
He'd never gone into detail about how his childhood had been. She'd known that she had died in that other timeline, that she'd died when he'd been young. And that he'd been fighting a war against his own brother. It had pained her then, to think on it. He'd never offered details and she'd never had the courage to press for them.
"Screwing around with that kind of stuff…gotta have consequences, right?" He paused. "Why didn't you tell me about it? I thought I was going insane, Mom…"
"Oh, honey…We just didn't want to hurt you."
Leo nodded. "What he went through…the things he saw…"
Piper winced and wondered if Chris had shared some of those details with Leo. "We just didn't want you burdened by all of that."
"But I've seen it all," Chris pointed out, his expression taking on a haunted quality that reminded her forcefully of the man that she had met years ago.
"What's going on?" Wyatt interrupted before Piper could respond.
Piper opened her mouth but couldn't force words out as she met the gaze of her eldest child. Wyatt. He was the main reason she and Leo had never told either of them about this. She did not want Wyatt to know the reason Chris had come back from the future.
"Mom, we have to tell him," Chris stated, stern and unwavering. "I need his help. Maybe yours too."
"Something serious?" Leo asked, concerned.
"Yes," Chris answered immediately. "In fact, it might be better if you call Phoebe and Paige too."
Piper took in her son's expression, how tense he was and knew her answer. She would never deny her son help when he needed it.
"You're going to do what?!" Harry sat up, the sheets falling to his waist and he stared at Chris incredulously.
"It's the only thing I can think to do."
"But…but it's not possible!" Harry nearly yelled the words.
"It is. You've done it before, haven't you? Gone to the past?"
"That was different. We went back three hours, and even then we were in a sort of loop," Harry protested. "You're talking about going back to before you were born. You're talking about changing something drastic. And your kind of magic…It has so many consequences."
"I know." Chris sighed. He looked tired, exhausted even. "But I have to do something."
"Chris…this idea is insane, even for us."
"Yeah." Chris smiled, but it didn't reach his eyes. "But I need to save them. I need to save him."
Harry watched his dad as the information he'd just dumped on the man sank in. "So, you want to go back?"
Harry nodded. "I think I need to." The sense of urgency was there, had been since he'd left the bridge. It had settled into his chest and refused to leave. He wasn't sure about some things that might come from it, mainly a confrontation with Dumbledore but he couldn't shake it off.
But the world was a different place now, and he figured the wizarding world might be too. His life had been so firmly entangled with Voldemort's the last time around that he wondered how different things could be.
There were so many things to consider. The diary…the stone…and the deaths. In his other life, he would have already watched Cedric Diggory and Sirius die, and he would have been just a few months from watching Dumbledore die as well.
Maybe it would be too late to save the old man, if he'd put the ring on in this world the same as he had before. But Sirius…Sirius' death had been his fault and he wondered if the man had lived without Harry around to lead him into dangerous traps.
"And you want the sister's help?"
Harry smiled a bit wryly. "Actually, Chris insisted on helping and I seriously doubt his mom would sign off on him leaving home alone to fight a war with me."
"Yes, well, I wouldn't either," Cole commented.
"But I really don't have a choice, not with that soul fragment still in me. And I figured…Look, Chris' mom and aunts, he and his brother…they're pretty much the most powerful beings on this planet. I need a way to get it out of me. Last time it was the killing curse."
Cole stiffened at that, and his eyes narrowed. "We'll not test that again," he said, his tone leaving no room for argument.
Harry smiled a bit. "No, last time the only reason I even survived that was because of the ritual Pettigrew performed to bring Voldemort back when I was fourteen. You don't have to come with me. They don't even know you're alive, right?"
But Cole shook his head. "Now, you really think I'd let you go out and do this sort of thing on your own?"
Harry grinned. "You really okay with seeing them again?"
"Sure," Cole answered, standing. "But they might try and vanquish me on sight."
"Aw, don't worry, Dad. I'll protect ya," Harry said, moving to hug his father, that part of him, the twenty four year old part of him that had watched the man die once, reveling in it for a moment.
Cole only snorted in response but returned the embrace.
"Where is he?" Harry asked, his own voice pained. Mike simply pointed towards the room that Chris had taken and didn't stop Harry when he started towards it. When he entered the room, Chris was asleep. Harry could see the evidence of the tears Chris had cried before falling asleep.
He shouldn't have been surprised. Two more people had died. Two more of Chris' family. And when the hell had he started thinking like that? That he shouldn't be surprised at the sudden death of someone they cared about?
He couldn't remember when that was. The last year of the war with Voldemort? The first year he'd joined this fight with Chris? He reflected idly that maybe he'd seen too much of it. Maybe that's all his life had been since he'd been fourteen and he'd seen Peter Pettigrew casually strike down a classmate.
Harry lowered himself down into the bed finally, wrapped himself around Chris. Maybe that's all they'd been doing, just fighting to survive. They'd both lost nearly everything. But he moved closer, and buried his face in Chris' hair.
No, he'd still fight for this.
"I'll help you, Chris. You know I will, honey. But why? Why does he need to know?" Piper couldn't help the worried tone. She had dragged Chris away from the rest of the family to ask this.
"A lot of this stuff has to do with…that," Chris said, pained. "And…we can tell him what I told you at first."
She paused, and then nodded, glancing back towards the living room where Leo and Wyatt still sat. Chris wanted Wyatt there but he was giving her an out. She didn't have to tell her son that he had turned evil and murdered innocent people in another timeline. She could use the same line Chris had used when he'd first shown up in the past. That he'd been there to save Wyatt…
Chris leaned closer to her as she was contemplating whether or not the lie was a good idea or not. "First thing you need to know is that this is about Harry."
That gave her pause. "Harry? Your friend from school?" She asked, confused.
"He's a lot more than that," Chris admitted. There was a fierceness in his gaze then. A fierce sort of protectiveness. "I need to help him. I can't…"
Once upon a time, he remembered Harry being the only thing left he had to fight for. And he would never risk losing the other boy again.