Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Rowling is nice enough to let us mess with her characters. I mean no offense to the real men of Easy Company. This fiction is based on the Band of Brother's mini-series with well-known events of the war thrown in i.e. the march to Atlanta.
Harry Potter and the War of Choice
Chapter One: Volunteer
In retrospect, Harry thought that he should've said he'd like to live happily ever after. However he was a little too much of a live in the moment kind of guy for that type of an answer to come out of his mouth during a stressful occasion.
Voldemort was dead and he'd been asked about his future by a disembodied voice. Instead of answering, he'd asked why he couldn't have had a choice. He'd spent months traveling the countryside searching for Horcruxes only to end up in a battle at Hogwarts. He was sick of his prophecy induced fate and with the death of some of his friends he just wanted to forget about it all and be left alone.
Some random Death Eater was able to hit him with the curse that knocked him out. He didn't know who or what it was but that wasn't the important bit. He reckoned someone from the Order would take care of it. His biggest problem was that he'd never even been to America.
The whole thing was a bit suspect really – most likely he reckoned it was a vision caused by some kind of fatal wound. The voice had told him "you now have a choice," and then he woke up. In New York City. In 1942. June of 1942.
Looking down at himself he noticed the voice had dressed him appropriately for the weather. And the fashion, but running his hand through his hair proved that it was as big of a mess as always. However, his glasses were missing. He could see clearly.
It's while walking down the street and looking at all the propaganda posters that he actually realized what his choice was exactly. He could ride out the war here in safety. Get a job, a place to live, figure out how to return. Or he could try to get to Britain and fight for a country that had already been at war for a few years and that he wouldn't technically become a subject of for another thirty-eight years - For King and Country. Or he could enlist in the American military and help out that way. It didn't matter what decade he was in. His choices were always awful.
The problem with going to Britain was the slight issue of Grindelwald. Harry didn't want any part of the magical component to the war. He'd fought and won one magical war already. This one was left to Dumbledore. And didn't that thought bring up all sorts of emotional conflicts. Albus Dumbledore's relationship with Gellert Grindelwald was still surprising and something he definitely didn't need Harry's help to solve. As far as he can remember the American magical community didn't get very involved in Europe they focused their attention on the South Pacific.
Of course the best choice was to find a way home geographically and temporally. The only way he knew how to do that was a conversation with a disembodied voice that only appeared when near death. What better way to become near death than in a war? It worked once. And since he didn't have any possessions or money he might as well get involved in the simplest way. So he followed the signs to a recruiter's office. The muggles needed all the help they could get, right?
Lying seemed to be pretty easy in the recruiter's office. It helped that the disembodied voice had supplied him with some documents.
Name: Harry James Potter
Date of Birth: July 31, 1924
Birthplace: Godric's Hollow, England
Current Place of Residence: New York City
When asked his age he responded eighteen even though the Staff Sergeant was clearly holding his ID that said he would be seventeen until the end of July. There was also a poster on the wall that informed everyone that lying on an enlistment form was a federal crime. Harry didn't look at it. Neither did the Sergeant.
He told the Sergeant at the office that he liked heights. The Army Air Force seemed like a good way to get that happy feeling he'd always had on a broom.
The recruiter suggested something a little different.
One good thing about living in New York City was the ease Harry had in finding a room to sublet for a month and an under the counter job unloading trucks that got him through those weeks.
There were service men everywhere. New York was the last major stop before the troops were sent to Europe. Occasionally he'd get to talk to them when he'd have lunch at a diner or bump into them in line at the theater. Weirdly enough whenever he told them he'd volunteered for the airborne they smirked at him and told him he was crazy. He gave up trying to figure out what it was he'd volunteered for.
He spent most of his money on food, the room, and nearly every night he'd visit the theater to try to understand the culture he'd suddenly been plunged in. He learned all about John Wayne, Marlene Dietrich, and Rita Hayworth. The clips of the war made him nervous. He remembered Fred. He thought of Remus and Tonks. He worried about Teddy and all the orphans of this war. How many Harry Potters were being raised by unwelcoming relatives because of this war? It was a thought that had never crossed his mind.
Binns spent too much time on Goblin Wars. Harry knew only the things he had learned in Primary and the random facts Hermione had managed to shove forcefully into his head.
The clips of Hitler were familiar but seemed unreal. Like a story from childhood that had suddenly became reality. His enemy didn't invoke the fear in him that he seemed to in the rest of the moviegoers.
He spent his free time thinking about his back story. His glasses might have disappeared but he knew people would ask questions about an English boy in the American army. So he became an orphan sent away during Operation Pied Piper, not to the countryside, but to New York City to more distant relatives. If anyone asked he'd just say his Aunt and Uncle had the money to make sure Harry didn't join up voluntarily at fifteen.
Anything odd about his behavior could be blamed on being British. Or rich.
Lt. Sobel had absolutely nothing on Professor Severus Snape, Harry thought to himself. He was petty and snide but he hated everybody equally. Except perhaps Lt. Winters who he hated more, but that was not Harry's problem. He was a private and hadn't yet earned any jump wings and had had very little contact with any officers at this point.
He'd arrived at Camp Toombs a few days before his birthday. Before its name was officially changed to Camp Toccoa. Troops were arriving a few at a time. It was apparently the first time the army would train civilians directly as paratroopers. He'd been lined up with the others that arrived that day. Assigned seemingly at random to a company, issued gear, and then shown to one of the barracks where he was then issued a bunk.
It made the cupboard under the stairs look like a well furnished option. The Corcoran boots made him long for a cushioning charm. He'd had a month to get used to a straight razor but he still tried to cast a Lumos at night or in the early morning since there weren't any electric lights in most of the buildings. Magic was a hard habit to break.
Admitting his magical heritage might make Harry more comfortable but he now had an image in his head of the war in the Pacific. And that was just the images they were willing to show the public in 1942. He didn't really want any personal memories. Muggle artillery could destroy a man but magic had the potential to be worse.
As the men trickled in that week Harry got to meet the other troopers. Unfortunately, his accent meant everyone knew who he was even when he knew they'd never spoken.
Standing at attention was miserable. It was one of Sobel's favorite things to use to enforce discipline. Georgia had miserable weather. Standing here and listening to Sobel's most frequent power trip didn't help improve it. Harry couldn't help but think of his first five years of potions lessons when Sobel got like this. Harry looked in front of him and saw Nixon swat at a something that landed on his neck.
He imagined the lieutenant saying 'ten points from Gryffindor for blousing your trousers, Potter.' Sobel's whine just didn't have the impact on him that Snape's tone used to carry. In a lot of ways Sobel's temperament seemed much more similar to his Uncle's. Nothing was ever done right according to either one of them. Not that Harry wasn't aware of the power Sobel held.
"Name." Sobel barked out suddenly appearing in front of Harry. Perhaps he shouldn't space out so much he thought to himself.
"Potter, Harry J., sir."
"Your hair needs combed, Private Potter. A soldier should be well-groomed at all times. Pass revoked."
"Yes, sir." Harry responded as Lt. Sobel moved to a new victim. No surprises there he thought to himself.
"Liebgott, Joseph, D., sir"
"Rusty bayonet, Liebgott. Do you wanna kill Germans?"
Harry stopped listening to Sobel at that point. He never had to listen to the faults of James Potter from Sobel's mouth unlike Snape. He just got comments about himself. It was refreshing. It was like living with the Dursleys but with more people to share all the nasty comments with. He'd been conditioned for this since he was a child. Maybe when he got back to his own time he'd look into a career in the British military if the Auror Corps didn't work out.
Sobel broke into his thoughts yelling, "I wouldn't take this rusty piece of shit to war… and I will not take you to war in your condition. Now thanks to these men and their infractions, every man in the company who had a weekend pass has lost it. Change into your PT gear. We're running Currahee."
He was definitely the Chosen One alright. There could be no other reason to get stuck in this company.
Forced out of his thoughts Harry watched as Sobel walked away. Winters dismissed them and Harry joined the others running into the barracks to change their gear.
"Don't worry about it Perco," Harry said as they were walking to get into formation. "Your trousers were fine; he knew he was going to take away everyone's pass before he started in. Martin's just annoyed at Sobel."
Perconte replied, "It's alright but you really should do something with your hair. It does stick up every way. Though it was ridiculous for Sobel to gig you for it. It's not like he could see it with the helmet on anyway."
"Maybe, but it's as short as it's ever been and it somehow looks worse." It had been Harry's biggest problem since he was assigned to Easy Company. Sobel always thought he looked like shit because his hair wouldn't ever lay flat. It wasn't as bad when they were in ODs because the helmet covered it up, but any time they had a uniform inspection it caused a problem and the garrison cap actually seemed to make the matter worse. Whichever way he tilted it would make the hair on the other side of his head disheveled.
"Besides," Harry continued as they lined up in formation, "If I did manage to comb my hair to Sobel's standards he'd gig me for something even more ridiculous like when he told Parks off for dirty ears."
With the company formed they began running up Currahee.
"Do not help that man! Do not help that man. You do not stop." Sobel screamed as they ran up Currahee yet another time. Harry thought he was a decent runner before he joined Easy. Three miles up. Three miles down. Now he just thought about making it to the next obstacle. Twenty-six minutes to the top was his current time. Going up was awful, especially in full gear but going down was worse. Technically easier but gravity, terrain, and tired legs couldn't be trusted to get you to the bottom safely.
The first time they ran it in full gear he tripped coming down and rolled over ten feet. The only good thing about that was it was ten feet less he had to run. Unfortunately, Sobel had always latched onto any weakness he could find and that's when Harry started to take a lot of his scrutiny. Winters helped pull him onto his feet after his tumble down the mountain.
"Are you alright Private Potter?" the Lieutenant asked him dragging Harry to his feet as he passed by.
"I think so," Harry replied grateful for the help up, "Thank you, sir." Harry wasn't even aware Winters knew his name. He was the platoon leader for second and Harry was in first. Harry knew one thing though. Sobel didn't like it when the men helped each other. There was no doubt Winters would pay for this act of kindness later.
August and September passed Harry by in a daze. Twenty-four minutes up.
Guarnere is the first man to call him a limey and ask why the hell he wasn't already in the British army. So Harry gets to try out his back story for the first time. Harry explains that he was sent away before the war made it to British soil but he's eighteen now. The guys mostly seem to believe it. A lot of them mumble about how nice it must be to have enough money for transatlantic travel, a few others remark about the Oh So Social.
Harry doesn't point out that he volunteered for the same combat unit they did. Technically he did have enough money to his name to buy his way into the OSS, but Potters fought like men. He wasn't a coward but he doesn't want to get into it. Gonorrhea's one of those guys that pushed everyone. Harry doesn't really care about pushing back anymore.
Lining up for landing practice out of the makeshift wooden airplanes was Harry's favorite obstacle. Sobel never had a good thing to say about the landings but Harry couldn't wait until they were in a real aircraft and he could look out at the scenery. He was disappointed at first for not getting into the Air Force, but he wasn't the type of guy that would've been selected for pilot. So he'd still be stuck riding. Airborne was a good alternative. He'd get forty-five seconds of control in the air and then he'd fight. Hopefully they'd be able to jump more than once.
By the end of November, Harry manages not to anger Sobel enough to get transferred out. He gets through the obstacle course that Sink apparently designed and his time up Currahee is at twenty-three up. The thirty-four foot drop tower is the best fun he's had since he started. Unfortunately they're being reassigned to Fort Benning for jump training so he still hasn't had a chance to fly.
They get word that Second Battalion is going to march to Atlanta before heading to Benning.
The 118 mile march from Toccoa to Atlanta was like every other event in his life. Ridiculous and miserable. It was meant to inspire the populous and prove how much the Americans were a better fighting force than the Japanese. There were a few good things. Sobel wasn't the highest ranking officer and couldn't make Easy's trip any worse than it already was since it was all of Second Battalion of the 506th PIR.
Reporters frequently met up with them on their four day journey and would walk a few miles. They were interviewed, pictures were taken, and they were allowed to sing to pass the time. It gave the civilians a picturesque version of the army and gave the guys a break from the monotony.
Every step he took towards Atlanta was another step up Currahee he didn't have to run.