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Famiglia Porter

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James Porter was a science and tech genius. His inventions and contributions to society have made him a billionaire by the time he graduated university at 21 with a Doctorate in Science and Technology under his belt. He was also an only child and the heir and soon-to-be leader of the most powerful mafia family in Britain that dealt in weapon production and trafficking as well as experiments that were seen as unethical by the public, but could revolutionise the world if society wasn’t so hostile towards human experimentation.

Not that the public knew about Porters being a mafia family. For the outside world, they were a respectable family that programmed high security and anti-virus software alongside a few electronic devices.

James was young, fit, tall, handsome, charismatic, but also selfish, possessive, obsessive, cold-blooded and ruthless when it came to business, his experiments, and protecting what was his … or at least what he considered his. He was the epitome of what society called “the Alpha Male”.

Despite his obvious flaws in character, he was blessed with a wonderful and gorgeous wife, Vivian, who he loved and adored with every fibre of his being. However, sometimes (most of the time), it went beyond that, but he didn’t really care. Call it love or obsession; he would never let her go for as long as he lived.

Just like him, Vivian was the daughter of a mafia family, second largest in Britain actually that dealt in the research and development of biological weapons of mass destruction, but for the outside world they were nothing but a respectable pharmaceutical company. She was young (only a few months younger than he was), fit, healthy, highly intelligent and intuitive, drop-dead gorgeous, but unlike him, she was a far more good-hearted person. She could be vicious as well, of course, but if he was a demon, she was an angel. And if he was a sinner then she was a saint.

Yet it was the cruelty of life that it was she who had been punished for some reason, because even after six years of marriage, at 24, they were still unable to conceive a child no matter how much they wanted one. At first, they thought the timing was off, but when almost two years went by with no child on the way, they decided to visit a doctor.

Luckily, James had friends in important places and it just so happened that one of his childhood friends was now a gynaecologist and an obstetrician. They met up and discussed the matter. Ian tested both of them, yet no matter how many tests they subjected themselves to; the one with the fertility issue was his darling wife.

They tried every fertility treatment that existed (even the obscure ones), yet none yielded the desired results. Vivian remained infertile and it was putting a strain on her psyche and their marriage. His family was pressuring him into producing an heir and when they learned that his wife couldn’t provide him with a child even after several fertility treatments, they suggested he find himself someone else.

He shot the person who suggested it in the leg. Then, he looked at the rest of his family and said calmly, “Anyone else thinks I should divorce my wife or cheat on her?” When no reply came, except for the pained moans of his uncle and muffled sobs of his aunt as she held her husband close to her chest, he put the gun back in the holster and said, “I’m glad we are on the same page,” before leaving the room.

He entered the bedroom he shared with his wife and found her sitting on the edge of the bed with her back to him, her shoulders and head hunched.

“Hey babe,” he greeted, hugging her from behind and pressing a kiss to her temple.

When she barely reacted and didn’t even greet back, he got worried. Had she heard the discussion he had downstairs with his family?

“Vivi, what’s wrong?”

“James,” she sounded hollow and lifeless, “maybe we should separate.”

He stiffened. Panic and dread settled in his chest and stomach at the thought of separating from Vivian. “No,” he retorted with such finality that left no room for objection.

“James …” she sighed in mild protest.

“We’re not separating, much less divorcing, Vivi,” he said sternly, forcing her to look at him.

“James, I’m barren,” she choked out, fighting tears. “My body will never be able to conceive and I can’t take away your option to become a father by tying you to me through marriage.”

He cupped her face and pressed their foreheads together.

“Vivi, I don’t care if you can give me a child or not, I’m not letting you go,” he said with conviction. “When I proposed to you, when I married you, I did it because I knew from the moment I met you that you were the one for me.”

She closed her eyes to prevent tears from spilling over. He rubbed her cheeks and nuzzled her nose.

“Yes, I imagined you swollen with my child many times,” he admitted. “I can’t tell you how many times I got off knowing I was bare inside you and that I was filling you up with my seed.”

Her breath hitched.

“But I didn’t marry you because of that,” he assured her, because he needed her to understand what he was saying.

“I want you to understand something.” Her eyes locked with his. “I love you. I will always love you, whether we have children or not. No woman, or man, can make me feel like you do, baby. I have never wanted someone like I want you. Even after six years, I still get hard just hearing your voice.”

She let out a breathless giggle and she covered his hands with hers, leaning into his touch, closing her eyes.

“We can always adopt one,” he said gently. “If you want, I can talk to Angus tomorrow and tell him to gather a list of orphanages here in London and we can start with the visits next week.” He searched her eyes. “Would you like that?”

Her lips curled in a shy smile and she nodded. He returned her smile with a grin of his own, before leaning forward and catching her lips in a passionate kiss.

As their lips continued moving eagerly against one another, she tangled her fingers in his unruly hair and he enveloped her in his strong, muscular arms. They began undressing each other in a hurried and desperate fashion, almost tearing the fabric off their bodies to get to the skin beneath it as fast as they could.

They fell on the bed in a mess of limbs, kissing, nibbling, licking and sucking at every expanse of skin they could get their lips on, while their hands desperately caressed the skin of the other.

Nestled between her legs, James teased her entrance a few times before burying himself in her soaking and eager pussy in one swift and hard thrust, eliciting a moan from Vivian. He slowly pulled back, only to slam his hips forward with force again. He repeated the action a few times, each time his wonderful wife rewarded him with a sound of pleasure, until he set a steady but harsh rhythm.

Between whimpers, moans, declarations of love, dirty talk, kisses and thrusts, the bubble of pleasure inside their bodies grew and expanded, and as it neared explosion, James’ pace grew in speed and vigour, until the bubble burst into million smaller ones that coursed through their veins, filling them with indescribable pleasure and happiness.

Winded, they slowly came from their orgasmic high, enveloped in each other’s limbs, scents and warmth, as James continued to empty himself inside his wife Vivian. It didn’t matter if his seed didn’t take root inside her womb, he would continue to fill her for as long as he was able to make love to her. There was no other place for his sperm but her pussy and occasionally her mouth.

They quickly fell asleep tangled in each other under covers and the following day, they would start looking into orphanages and children to adopt.

Chapter Text

11 November 2001, London, 11:11

It took them two days to find the perfect child.

While the family lawyer did research on various London orphanages, he personally knew an employee (read: girlfriend) at Wool’s Orphanage, where they decided to start their search.

There, a twenty-one-year-old, red-haired and freckle-faced sociology female student, who was working there part-time to gain experience with social work, greeted them, together with muffled background noises and children talking. She was carrying a bundle.

“Good morning, how may I help you?” She readjusted her hold on the baby in her arms.

“Good morning,” greeted James with a polite smile. “We’re James and Vivian Porter; I think that my lawyer Angus Ferguson might have mentioned us to you in the last couple of days.”

The spark of recognition lit up the woman’s eyes. “Ah, yes, Angus … uh, I mean, Mr. Ferguson,” she quickly corrected herself, “did call to inform that a Porter couple is interested in adoption and that we should be expecting you very soon. Please, come in.”

They crossed the doorway and looked around. The interior was warm and cosy, if a bit austere, but definitely not poor. The floor, walls and the central staircase looked well kept. The walls were full of children’s drawings and group photos of different generations of children that resided at the orphanage at some point.

“Fiona O’Connell, nice to meet you,” she said, smiling, only to wince apologetically, glancing down at the green bundle. “I would shake your hands, but I have my hands full right now.”

“Don’t worry,” Vivian assured her, smiling, her own eyes flitting to the infant in Fiona’s arms. “May I?” she asked tentatively, pointing at the bundle.

“Oh, of course,” Fiona assured her excitedly. She approached her and carefully handed her the child.

Vivian immediately nestled the sleeping toddler closer to her chest. The sight of chubby cheeks and a tuft of wild black hair so like James’ greeted her and filled her with warmth. The only odd thing about the baby was the lightning-shaped scar on his forehead.

“Look, James,” she whispered excitedly, “he has your hair.”

James stood behind her, looking over her shoulder. “That he does,” he chuckled, tickling the boy’s cheeks with the back of his index finger. The baby grimaced and shifted in Vivian’s arms.

“He’s our newest addition,” narrated Fiona quietly, observing the exchange. “Someone left him at the doorstep on November 1st, in the evening hours.”

“They left him … in this cold?” Vivian was completely horrified. Who would do something like that to a baby? Instinctively, she pulled him closer to her body to give him as much body heat as she could.

“They knocked,” explained Fiona, “but by the time we answered the door, there was no one in sight, except for the baby.”

“And what’s his name?” she asked.

“We don’t know,” said Fiona with a sad smile.

“What do you mean you don’t know his name?” James interjected, narrowing his brown eyes at the woman.

“The people who left him didn’t leave any sort of identification papers.”

“So you don’t know anything about this child?” pressed James.

“We did have the resident doctor take a look at him to see if he was healthy and if she managed to determine his age. We also took a sample of his blood and sent it to a genetics laboratory to see if we would find a DNA match, but, whoever his parents are or were, they are not in the system,” explained Fiona. “However, other than the fact that he appears to be at least a year old and seems to be very particular about who carries and feeds him, we know absolutely nothing about him. We have still not decided whether we should file in a birth certificate or not, because we don’t know if he already has one.”

“That’s awful,” sighed Vivian, “but you cannot leave him nameless.”

“Well,” she winced, “we hoped someone would adopt him by the end of the month and let the adoptive parents decide, but it’s been almost two weeks and there have been no couples interested in him or the other orphans whatsoever.”

“What do you mean when you say he’s particular about who carries and feeds him?” wanted to know James.

“It would seem he only feels comfortable with women who have red hair and men who have messy dark hair.”

“That’s very specific. Did your doctor say why that is?”

“Our resident psychologist thinks it has to do with the child’s parents and since it’s a shock for the baby to be surrounded by strangers, he seeks familiar features in females and males to feel safe.”

The baby started shifting again, moving about his arms. He slowly opened his eyes and blinked a few times, before his eyes settled on the woman carrying him. He stared unblinkingly at her eyes and she looked down at his, which were the same shade of green as hers.

James leaned over her shoulder, closer to the baby. “Look, Vivi!” he commented, grinning mischievously. “He has your eyes.”

His voice drew the baby’s attention to him. The baby blinked once, twice, before his eyes started to water and he was bawling his eyes out a moment later, stretching his arms toward him.

Fiona wanted to intervene and take the child back, but James beat her to it.

“What’s wrong, little tyke?” he whispered softly to the baby as he held him in his arms.

“Dada,” hiccoughed the child, crying hysterically, still trying to reach for him. “Dada.” James brought the child closer to his chest, confusion on his face. He looked at his wife, who was just as surprised and confused as he was.

“This has never happened before,” breathed Fiona, shocked.

“What does this mean?” he asked her, while the baby clutched at the fabric of his suit, sobbing uncontrollably.

“If you’d wait a moment, I’ll go get the psychologist,” she said hurriedly and left them with the crying child.

James started to rock him gently to calm him down, “Sh, little tyke, it’s okay. Your daddy is here. Your daddy has you.”

At those words, the child’s sobs slowly began to settle, until he quieted down completely. Yet James continued to whisper soothing words into the baby’s hair and gently rock him from side to side. He felt his wife’s hand on his arm. He looked at her.

“I’m sure I’ve never been with anyone but you, babe,” he assured her. “So, unless I bear an uncanny resemblance to this boy’s father or I’m somehow related to the boy’s father, there is no way we’re biologically related.”

“I know,” she nodded. “Maybe his father is your doppelganger,” mused Vivian aloud.

“It’s possible.”

“Do you think his parents left him here?” wondered Vivian.

“If they did, I’ll punch the fuckers so hard, they’ll fly into the wall and leave a mark behind, if I see them,” said James darkly. “I just hope the father’s name is not James and the mother’s name Vivian, because then I’ll be doubly pissed.”

“If you hit the woman as well, they just might accuse you of gender violence,” his wife teased him.

“As if I care,” huffed James. “If she abandoned her child, I’ll beat her up, simple as that. She’s not immune because she’s a female, at least not in my book.”

She chuckled.

“What do you say, Vivi? Do we adopt him?” He wiggled his eyebrows excitedly. “He’s like a mix of the two of us with my hair and your eyes.”

“I would love to, James,” she said, smiling, “but do you think he would be okay with me holding and feeding him? You heard what Fiona said. He only lets redheads carry and feed him.”

“Let’s find out,” he said. “Hey, little tyke.” He propped the child up so he could see Vivian. “I want you to meet your mama. Can you say, mama?”

The child just gaped at Vivian, before looking at James again. He tried passing him to Vivian, but the child started protesting and clinging to his suit.

“It’s okay, little tyke, I’m not going anywhere, but your mama wants to hold you too,” he tried to reason with the infant.

“It’s okay, James,” she assured him with a sad smile. “It’s clear that I’m not a look alike of his mother, so he needs time to get used to me.”

James tried handing him to her again. This time, he did it even with the child squealing and fussing. It broke his heart to see tears gather in those emerald-green eyes, but he hated to see his wife sad more. However, he remained close, so the child could see both Vivian and him.

Slowly, he calmed down and he started paying more attention to Vivian. He looked at her with wonder and fascination, especially her eyes. His wife might not be an obvious look alike of the baby’s mother, but she might share the same colour of eyes as her.

“Mama?” the child mumbled reluctantly while placing his tiny, chubby hand on Vivian’s cheek.

Vivian’s eyes watered and she blinked away the happy tears. “Yes, sweetie,” she whispered, smiling brightly at the baby. “I’m your mama.”

“Mama,” repeated the child with more enthusiasm and excitement.

She hugged him close and kissed his cheek a few times. In the meantime, James pulled out his mobile phone and called Angus.

“Yo, Angus,” he said in his boss tone, “I need you to prepare adoption papers and a birth certificate ASAP, and then come to Wool’s Orphanage. Vivian and I have decided on a child we want to adopt and we want to take him home by dinner.”

“Already working on it, boss,” came Angus’ reply.

A few moments later, Fiona returned with the psychologist, who invited them to her office, where they could discuss the fascinating development.

After a thorough conversation with the orphanage’s administrative staff and staff specialising in childcare and development, they only needed to make things official and finalise the adoption. If James and Vivian Porter were normal citizens, they would have to wait for weeks, if not months, before being allowed to take their little tyke home, but when you’re rich and a mafia boss on the side, things move much faster and easier.

While they waited for Angus to appear with the necessary documentation, the child needed his diaper changed and he needed to be fed. The doctor allowed them to change the child’s diaper themselves so they could become familiar with the process.

As they were wiping and powdering his booty, they decided to use that time to pick a suitable name for the future Porter Heir.

“What about Daniel?” suggested Vivian. The child made a face. They supposed he didn’t like the suggestion very much.

“Sebastian?” James’ suggestion received the same kind of reaction.

“Jacob?” That one wasn’t either.

“Mathew?” No.

“Edward?” Another grimace.

“Connor?” No.

“Nathan?” No.

“Gabriel?” More grimacing.

“Adam?” No.

“William?” No.

“Charles?” He looked like he ate something extremely bitter and sour.

“Jonathan?” No.

“Henry?” The child paused as if thinking about it, only to grimace again.

“You’re a tough one to please, ha?” James tickled him and the child squealed in delight. “Vivian, I can already tell he’s going to be a fine Porter.”

“Oh, yeah?” she teased. “How do you know that?”

“Because this little tyke knows exactly what he wants and he’s not going to settle for anything else.”

She laughed. “Well, I hope we’re getting closer to the name he wants, otherwise we won’t finish by dinner.”

“He liked your latest suggestion a bit better,” mused James. “Let’s try other names that begin with H.”

“Haytham, maybe?” Again, the child seemed to consider it for a moment, only to scrunch up his face adorably, indicating his negative response.

James gasped. “I know what we’ll call you,” he announced excitedly. “We’ll call you Hadrian.”

The child frowned in thought again, but this time, he smiled wide and started clapping and laughing excitedly. James and Vivian laughed with him.

“Welcome to the family, Hadrian Porter.”

Chapter Text

When Vivian and James filled in Hadrian’s birth certificate, they used the date they met and adopted him as the birth date (11 November), while putting the previous year (2000) as the year he was born.

Since they didn’t know Hadrian’s biological parents, they simply put themselves as his parents and put their parents as the boy’s grandparents. Hopefully, no one was going to show up in a few years’ time to cause problems on that front. And if they did … well … James would eliminate the nuisance. No one was going to take away or ruin their chance to be parents to Hadrian. They might not have conceived him, but he would be damned if he let that be an obstacle.

When the papers were in order, James and Vivian took Hadrian with them, but before they went home, they stopped at the nearest department store to buy a cot, diapers, bottles, pacifiers, baby creams and shampoos, baby food and a few baby clothes.

After buying the essentials, they stopped at the pharmacy to buy some baby formula. Since they weren’t certain about Hadrian’s age, the doctor at the orphanage suggested they kept feeding him baby formula for at least another six months.

When they got home, James’ guards took care of transferring baby things from the car to the house, and set up a temporary nursery, while Vivian and he fed him and changed his diaper again. Once the baby was asleep, the guards managed to finish assembling the nursery in their boss’ bedroom.

The following day, James phoned his parents, Victor and Ana Porter, to let them know Vivian and he adopted a child and put them as the boy’s grandparents on the boy’s birth certificate. The news didn’t sit well with them at first, especially James’ father, who didn’t like the idea of his son adopting just any child to continue their family legacy, but as soon as they saw Hadrian, his uncanny resemblance to James and Vivian, and his demanding baby attitude, Ana fell in love and even Victor warmed up to him.

“I don’t know how you managed to find a child that looks like you and Vivian and acts like a Porter, but I’m glad you did and brought him into the family,” Victor told him proudly, squeezing his shoulder.

“Thank you, father.”

As the new grandma cooed over the baby, they told them how they met Hadrian and what they knew of his circumstances. Ana was horrified to learn someone would simply discard a baby like that without leaving any sort of legal or medical papers and even a hardened man like Victor thought it was a cowardly thing to do.

In the following week, they slowly introduced him to the rest of the family, receiving mixed reactions. Some were happy for them and some not so much, but they knew better than to say anything to James, because he just might feel like using them for bullet practice and riddling them with bullets.

Aside from formally introducing the toddler to the Porter family, Vivian and James also spent a lot of time setting up Hadrian’s room. Once it was ready, they moved him there. It was big, so once he outgrew his cot, they could easily replace it with a bed. Hadrian seemed to like the soothing pastel green walls, decorated with what appeared to be his favourite animals: a stag, a black dog, a wolf, a hamster, a rabbit, a hedgehog, a bear and a snake. When they took him toy shopping, he picked the same set of animals to cuddle with.

As the weeks passed and Hadrian was growing and developing, James felt compelled to record important milestones in his son’s life. Like the time when Hadrian stood on his own, when he made his first steps, when he learned how to use the potty, when he first ate from a spoon rather than a bottle, when he made his first friend in the form of a slightly older girl, Hermione Granger, the daughter of the Porter Family dentists.

...

As Hadrian’s second birthday approached, he showed interest in James’ work, he was particularly fascinated with Happy, the Humanoid Android, and Lucky, the AI of their house. He made regular visits to his father’s basement lab to observe him work. James felt elated his son was showing interest in his field of expertise. He welcomed him and showed him his projects, explaining them to him, even if he wasn’t sure how much of it Hadrian would understand.

Every so often, he would give him a few mechanical parts to put together as a puzzle and was surprised to find out Hadrian seemed to know what he was doing, because it never took him long before he was announcing, “Here, papa. I did it,” in his small, but confident voice, holding the result of his labour out to him.

When James found himself engrossed in a new project, where he couldn’t give Hadrian anything to put together, Hadrian either busied himself by watching him work or by leafing through big books on mechanical engineering, electricity and robotics, looking and frowning at the pictures, trying to figure out what they meant.

James thought it was an amusing and a very familiar sight. At least he knew what he would get his son for his second birthday: a few beginner books on robotics, electricity and mechanical engineering, but first, Vivian and he would teach him how to read and write.

...

By the time Hadrian turned three, he was already fluent in reading, speaking and writing. He still encountered some difficulty with the spelling, the pronunciation and the meaning of more technical terms he encountered in his father’s books, but otherwise, he didn’t seem to struggle too much with understanding most of what he read.

Together with developing his reading, speaking and writing skills, Vivian and James also developed his math skills, by teaching him math topics from grade one to grade five. Hadrian seemed particularly fond of calculating, because by the time he was four, he was so well versed in adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, he could calculate three-digit numbers in his head in a matter of seconds.

After flying through several math textbooks for grades one to five, James and Vivian introduced him to math topics taught in grades six to ten with basic engineering physics sprinkled in between.

To reward his academic progress, James decided it was time for Hadrian to build a simple robot for his fourth birthday. The thought of building a robot with his father, made Hadrian’s eyes sparkle with joy and his lips split into a wide and toothy grin.

They sat in the lab side by side, with Hadrian coming up with the robot’s design and functions and with James helping Hadrian with the programming part. He wanted to have something small, cute and fluffy with bird-like feet so he could carry it around in his hands, pockets or shoulders like a pet. Its purpose would be that of a scientific calculator, but instead of buttons, it would use voice recognition to process the math operations and then display the result on the screen accompanied by different animal sounds.

It took them an entire day to build the robot and a couple of reminders from Vivian to eat, drink and go to the toilet, but by the end of it, Hadrian had his own emerald-green fluff ball calculator, which he named Muffin.

...

Due to their family status in public and underground circles, James and Vivian decided it would benefit Hadrian to know martial arts to defend himself against people who would try to harm or kidnap him.

“Hadrian,” began James, when all three sat on the sofa in the living room. “You know we Porters are an extremely influential family.”

Hadrian, aged four, nodded.

“Many envy our position and wealth, so, they target us every so often,” said James, wearing a serious expression. “Now that they know about you, they will target you as well, because harming or endangering you will affect your mother and me. To counter the number of successful attacks or kidnappings, your mother and I believe you should learn martial arts.”

“I understand.”

“However, sunshine,” continued Vivian, “your father and I are both familiar with the training and the pain that accompanies it when trying to reach a certain level of flexibility. We love you too much to want to see you in pain, but if you are to gain mastery of martial arts, there are no easy ways or shortcuts. It takes a lot of effort and determination. A lot of mental strength to plough through the hard times.”

“Don’t worry, mama,” assured her Hadrian, smiling gently. “If it is for my safety and well-being, I am willing to put myself through the wringer,” he announced confidently.

“Oh, baby,” she cooed, pulling him in for a hug and placing a kiss on top of his head. “When it will get difficult and painful, know that I will be here to kiss and hug away your pain,” she told him. “I will massage and bandage you too, but I will always comfort you after a particularly hard training session.” She looked at James and smiled. “And I’m sure your father will do the same as well.”

“You bet I will,” he said, joining the hug. Hadrian laughed, his melodic, child voice making his parents’ hearts flutter.

...

For the following two years, Hadrian trained almost every day in different martial arts, quickly making his way through different coloured belts. However, while his progress was quick, the road was painful, just like his parents said it would be, especially at the beginning, whenever he did the warm-up and stretching portion of the session. His body ached and screamed in excruciating pain; it made him think it would break and tear apart if he pushed himself any further.

At first, he tried to brave through the pain by holding in his tears and screams, but soon gave up and often times than not bawled his eyes out whenever his coach pushed him over his physical limitations. At least, as soon as he finished with a session, he ran to either his mother or father to cuddle and feel better and Happy always made sure to have a cup of hot chocolate and a plate of his favourite biscuits ready as well.

To help him brave through the pain, his parents showed him how to meditate and separate his mind from his body. It took him a few tries, but after a month, he managed to implement meditation in his martial arts training successfully, by reciting all the math and physics formulae he knew to date in his mind.

When he was seven and eligible to start school, he had managed to achieve mastery in Karate, Judo, Taekwondo, Kung Fu and Wing Chun. By that age, he had also learnt to do some programming, chemistry and biology. His reading material consisted mostly of scientific journals from different fields like mathematics, physics, chemistry, medicine and pharmacy.

He had also managed to make a few more fluffy and round robots: Buttercream, a purple robot that spoke and acted as an encyclopaedia; Toffee, a caramel-coloured robot that spoke and was a thesaurus; Biscuit, a neon-pink robot that acted as a wireless hairdryer and purred; and Pompom, a sapphire-blue robot that barked cutely and acted as a vacuum cleaner.

...

After a lot of thinking and talking as a family, they unanimously decided that Hadrian would go to school, but would skip a few years due to his mental capacities exceeding those of his peers. After the school had him take a number of different exams to determine the grade most suitable for him, they realised with shock his scores and knowledge were compatible with GCSE-level exams and he could potentially apply for an A-level course to start preparing for university.

Hadrian officially took his GCSEs, outperformed even the best of the nation and applied for A-levels. He didn’t mind attending classes with people who were nine years older than he was, he was just excited to learn college-level Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

The first time he attended classes; people, students and professors alike, gave him weird looks and treated him condescendingly. Despite having proof of his intelligence, they still wanted to treat him like a retard and a child. It was irritating to say the least. That is why it was all the more pleasurable to point out his professors’ mistakes in their calculations, especially when he correctly calculated something complicated in a matter of seconds, before the professor even managed to put the mathematical operation into the calculator.

...

In the first month of classes, someone tried to kidnap him. Well … several individuals at once to be exact. In broad daylight. However, before they managed to grab him and stuff him in a car, he knocked them out in seconds, tied them with the rope they intended to tie him up and called the police.

When the police arrived at the scene of the crime, they were surprised to see that a seven-year-old child incapacitated a group of adult, burly men.

“Would you be so kind and explain what happened?” asked the police officer.

“They wanted to kidnap me, I resisted,” deadpanned Hadrian.

“And where are your parents?”

“At work.”

“Do you by any chance know your parents’ phone numbers so we can call one of them and let them know of the situation?”

He called his father with his phone and passed the device to the police officer, who explained everything to James. To say James was shocked would be an understatement. He almost suffered a heart attack when, instead of his son’s voice, he heard the voice of a police officer and learnt some bastards attempted to kidnap him. For a second, he thought the police might have found out about his mafia business.

...

After that incident, James made sure a group of bodyguards always accompanied Hadrian to school and back. As he said, better safe than sorry. Hadrian wasn’t really sure why he had to have a group of bodyguards following him when he was perfectly capable of whooping anyone’s ass, but he also didn’t mind it, because he knew his father only did it because he cared about his safety and it always warmed his insides when his parents did extreme things for him. Yes, even his tame and sweet mother could transform into a nasty dragon if her baby was in any kind of danger.

In addition to bodyguards, James had Hadrian start learning how to shoot. They met a few weekends in their target practice arena at home, where James showed him how to load an airgun with pellets and how to aim.

While it looked simple from an observer’s perspective, it was difficult to be accurate when you weren’t used to the recoil of the weapon. It took him several rounds to get used to the force, so his hand didn’t move much once the pellet left the barrel.

While target practice at home was all right, James introduced him to paintball.

“I used to play it whenever I had free time to relieve some stress from studying,” he told him. “It’s also a good way to train by having mock gang skirmishes. Paintball, while not deadly, can teach you a lot about strategy and different tactics that you can use in a real life-or-death situation.”

Soon, Hadrian found himself enjoying the thrill and the adrenaline paintball provided. He managed to convince his friend Hermione to join him. After drifting apart due to Hadrian’s academic success and Hermione’s envy over it, he felt like they needed something in common where they both could work together and progress at a similar rate.

By the time Hermione was eleven and Hadrian ten, they were both hooked on the survival aspect of paintball and regularly competed in tournaments as a team, where they swept with the competition with ease almost every time. They were a force of nature and they called themselves ‘Lords of Despair’.

As for Hadrian’s academic career, he managed to take and ace his A-levels at nine, then managed to get a place at Cambridge University, where he started studying Engineering and if everything went according to plan, he planned to be like his father and graduate with a PhD, or at least a Master's Degree, by the time he turned 21.

Unfortunately, as he finished his first year of his Bachelor studies, a strange letter addressed to Harry Potter threatened to ruin everything.

Chapter Text

25 July 2011

As usual, Happy went to get the mail to start sorting it. Noticing the parchment envelope addressed to the Young Master (even though his name and surname appeared to be misspelled) and his personal chambers had the android immediately suspicious and alert. She and Lucky have immediately done a thorough scan of the surroundings, but found no suspicious activity or people on the premises. The only out of the ordinary thing in the vicinity was an owl, which was supposed to be a nocturnal animal.

Happy proceeded to do her usual mail routine, but planned to bring attention to the strange letter addressed to the Young Master.

Her master and creator was eating breakfast in the dining room with his wife. “Good morning, Master James, Mistress Vivian,” she greeted in her monotonous robotic voice.

“Good morning, Happy,” they greeted back.

“Your mail,” she announced as she handed them their stacks of mail.

“Thank you, Happy.”

“There was also a letter addressed to Young Master Hadrian,” she added, bringing out the envelope in question from her uniform’s frontal pocket. “But it is very strange. The address particularly.”

James took the envelope from her hand and inspected the writing and the disturbingly accurate address and the misspelt name and surname. Vivian leant closer to look at it as well.

HARRY POTTER,

First Bedroom on the Right, First Floor, Porter Manor,

10 Rosebush Lane,

Hampstead,

LONDON

A frown settled on James’ face as he clenched his teeth. He didn’t like this one bit. He flipped the envelope over and saw a coat of arms with ‘HOGWARTS’ written above it and a Latin phrase under it.

“Lucky,” he addressed the AI, “has there been any suspicious activity around our house recently or even in the past few years?”

“I haven’t been able to detect any such activities, sir,” replied Lucky. “However, I do believe one of our security cameras spotted an owl flying over the mansion less than an hour prior and dropped a letter.”

An owl? At this time of day?

Breaking the wax seal, James carefully looked inside the envelope, pulled out three slips of paper, and read them. Apparently, the first one was an acceptance letter addressed to Harry Potter, informing him he’d been accepted to a magical school called Hogwarts. The second one was a list of ‘school’ supplies. The last one was a train ticket for Hogwarts Express parting from Platform nine and three quarters. Yeah, right. As if such place really existed.

He immediately took out his phone and called John Granger. Maybe Hermione was in a mood for pranks. Then why would she misspell Hadrian’s name? It didn’t make sense. Unless it was on purpose, of course.

Three rings later, John answered. “Sorry for calling you this early John, but I was just wondering if Hermione sent any peculiar mail to Hadrian via an owl today.”

The question confused John. “Uh … no, not that I’m aware. Just a second, let me ask her.” He could hear John asking his daughter over the phone. He also heard a muffled negative answer. “She says she didn’t,” repeated John.

“I heard, yes.”

“Why do you ask? Is something the matter?”

“There’s a letter on my table addressed to one Harry Potter with a very accurate and detailed address that claims there’s a school for Magic called Hogwarts and that this Harry Potter has been accepted to attend it.”

“Hogwarts you say?” interjected John.

“Yes,” said James carefully. “Why, have you heard of it?”

“Actually, an owl just delivered the exact same letter to Hermione as well. The address was also disturbingly detailed and accurate. The only difference is that they are also asking us for a date and hour to make a visit. We don’t know what to make of it.”

“Don’t worry, John, I’ll look into it,” assured him James. “I’ll let you know as soon as I find something.”

“Thank you.”

They ended the call. James was liking this less and less by the second.

“Lucky, can you search for a school called Hogwarts, please? Find me as much information as you can.”

“Already working on it, sir.”

“Darling,” began Vivian apprehensively, “do you think this could be Hadrian’s real name? The one he had before we adopted him?”

“Whether it’s a spelling error or his real name, I’m not going to have people come after almost a decade to ruin our family,” said James, determined.

“Sir,” interjected Lucky, “I have found nothing about a school named Hogwarts, magical or non-magical. The place doesn’t seem to exist.”

Vivian and James exchanged looks. “What do we do about the letter then? Will we write back?” asked Vivian.

James looked at the letter and the list, before looking up at his wife again. “First, we’re going to inform Hadrian about this. Let him see this, and then, we will decide what to do as a family. After all, we still have roughly a week to reply to the letter. Lucky, where’s Hadrian?”

“He’s in the training area, sir. He’s practicing his shooting.”

“Tell him to come to breakfast.”

There were a few moments of silence on the AI’s end, before he spoke again. “Young Master Hadrian says he’ll be here in a minute.”

When Hadrian arrived to the dining room shortly after, he greeted his parents with a hug and a kiss to the cheek, before taking his usual seat at the table.

“How was your night, sunshine? Did you sleep well?” asked him Vivian, as he was serving himself some fried eggs with bacon and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice

“Aha, I slept well,” he replied with a smile. “I even got up before the alarm, fully rested.”

“That’s good.”

“And how was your training?” asked James.

“It was okay,” he replied, chewing. “I just felt in the mood for some target practice, so that my reflexes don’t dull. Especially now that the Paintball Tournament is getting close. Hermione and I have to stay at the top of our game if we want to continue our reign of terror among the other contestants.”

James chuckled and ruffled Hadrian’s hair affectionately. “That’s good,” he said.

Hadrian beamed at them. A few bites later, he remembered something else. “I almost forgot; Hermione might come over later today for practice. We might even set up an obstacle course.”

“Whatever you need. You know she’s always welcome here.”

As they were finishing their breakfast, James finally saw it fit to bring up the letter to Hadrian. Exchanging one last look with his wife, he cleared his throat and addressed his son. “Hadrian,” he immediately looked at his father, “a letter arrived this morning … for you.”

He passed Hadrian the opened envelope.

“At first, your father and I thought it might have been erroneously sent here, because of the name,” continued Vivian, while he skimmed through the contents, “but the address is accurate. Given how detailed it is; we wanted to see what it was about, especially since we’ve never heard of a place called Hogwarts.”

“The name aside, it says here that I’ve been accepted to a school for magic.” He gaped at his parents. “Are they serious? Are you sure this isn’t a prank? Maybe one of those spam or junk mails? Though I thought they were more interested in infecting computers with viruses and tricking you into revealing your passwords and bank accounts than sending you prank mail the old-fashioned way.”

“I thought so too,” said James, “but Happy didn’t detect anything unusual on the letter, otherwise she would have told me about it or simply destroyed it, so I thought maybe Hermione came up with an elaborate prank for you or something similar. However, when I called her father, he said she also got a similar letter and when I had Lucky check the files on the web to see if he could come up with something, he didn’t find anything about Hogwarts.”

“And they want us to reply by July 31st.” Hadrian frowned at the letter. There was a long contemplative silence. “I don’t know,” he said sceptically. “This seems fishy to me. I mean … magic? The next thing they’re going to claim is that dragons and unicorns are also a thing,” he commented sarcastically. “No, if I can’t see it with my eyes, I’m not believing a single word they say. It’s not like they will actually show up if we don’t reply either.”

“So, you don’t want us to reply at all?” wanted to confirm James.

“Let’s wait a couple of days, just to see if another one comes.”

“And if it does? What if whoever sent this letter sends another one?” prompted James. “What then?”

“Then, we answer and we say I’m not interested. I’m very happy studying Engineering.”

“What about the name on the envelope and the letter?” pressed Vivian worriedly. “What if they send another letter to Harry Potter and not Hadrian Porter? What if this is a clue to your life before we adopted you?”

“It doesn’t really matter,” shrugged Hadrian. “We’re a family; you’re my parents, even if not biological ones. What matters to me is that you gave me a safe and loving home, that you let me be myself, that you protect and love me, that you encourage me in my studies and hobbies.” He took in a deep breath, stood up and walked up to Vivian and James, his mother and father, and draped his arms over their shoulders. “Nothing will ever change our bond,” he assured them vehemently.

Vivian’s eyes misted slightly at his words and she rubbed his back and leaned into his small frame.

Later that day, James told John what he found, or rather what he didn’t find, about Hogwarts and Hermione came to visit just like planned.

As they were setting up their little obstacle course for practice, they discussed the curious letters they both got earlier that day. While Hadrian seemed adverse to believing and attending such school, Hermione, surprisingly, seemed interested in accepting the offer if it turned out to be real and not a fraud of some sort.

“Just think about it Hadrian,” she said excitedly, as they carried a carton cut-out of a human silhouette across the garden, “if magic is real there would be an entire new branch of knowledge that we could tap into.”

They set it down and secured it so it wouldn’t topple over.

“I suppose,” he grimaced, huffing, “but I don’t want to quit my university studies for magic.”

She smiled sympathetically. “I know. You were really excited about university.” They began walking back to pick up another cut-out.

“And even if it’s real, Hermione,” he sighed, “we don’t know anything about that school. We don’t know where it’s even located, what classes they offer, how long it lasts, if it’s a public or a private school, if it’s a day-time or a boarding school. If they already send out unsolicited acceptance letters, because I don’t recall ever applying for Hogwarts, they could have taken the time to design a brochure and send it together with the rest.”

She scrunched up her face. “That’s true. I was taken with the excitement of learning something completely new, I didn’t think about that.”

They heaved it together. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting to learn about unfamiliar things,” he assured her, “it’s what we scientists live for; I just don’t like their approach. Especially given how they somehow have the means to know exactly where we live. It makes me feel uncomfortable and unsafe in my own home. My father already told Lucky to pay more attention to every little thing in case we get another letter like that.”

Hermione couldn’t help but agree. She even had to suppress a violent shudder that went through her body at the thought of someone watching her sleep.

A few minutes later, they finished setting up the final dummy, before arming themselves with their paintball guns and apparel. They had a tournament to win in two weeks’ time.

Neither Hadrian nor his parents really believed another letter would arrive. Well, they were wrong. Barely two days later, not only did they send another one … they apparently saw it fit to send three in case one of them got lost in the post somehow. However, since each letter arrived with an owl of its own, it was highly unlikely for any of the letters to get lost.

The contents were the same, still no concrete and important information about the school, the curriculum, nothing.

Sensing that this anonymous sender would harass them for the remainder of the week if they remained silent until the deadline, Hadrian gave permission to his father to write a passive-aggressive rejection letter in his name. Hopefully, it will be enough to make whoever was behind the letters desist in their endeavour, because it was extremely creepy and annoying.

One of many first year-admittance owls flew right into Minerva’s office through the open window and landed on her desk. Pausing in her task of sorting through the replies and checking her list of names with the upcoming first-year students, she took the letter and gave the owl a treat.

Seeing that it bore Harry Potter’s name, she opened it with more eagerness than any other reply letter. She didn’t think he would get to his Hogwarts letter that easily if the muggles he was left with were the same as they were almost ten years ago, but apparently she was mistaken.

As soon as she saw the unusually long reply and its contents, she realised something had gone terribly wrong or right in the past decade. Apparently, the Dursleys weren’t his guardians anymore, judging by who signed the letter, and Harry Potter had been renamed into Hadrian Porter. His guardians were still muggle, judging by the way that Harry’s adoptive father spoke about magic and Hogwarts, but what left her speechless was the fact that Harry didn’t want to attend Hogwarts.

In all her teaching career, she never imagined there would be a half-blood student who preferred muggle studies to magic. In addition, the reservations and suspicions about the intentions behind Harry’s Hogwarts letter, Hogwarts and magic needed to be addressed immediately, but it would take too much time to write a reply. Instead, a teacher would have to go and visit the family personally. The problem was who should go. She couldn’t go, because she was busy sorting through the owl post, maybe Pomona would be up for it. She was pleasant, cheerful, and nice; the perfect fit to explain how education at Hogwarts looked like.

With the letter in hand, she started walking towards the greenhouses, when she spotted Severus and changed her mind. Severus might not look the nicest and most pleasant person, but he was serious, rarely joked, so, if Harry and his new family thought all of this was a joke, Severus’ seriousness might convince them to believe in magic more easily. Besides, the father sounded like a lot of work given the passive-aggressive tone that permeated the letter. Pomona might not know how to handle him, another reason why Severus seemed a much better choice.

“Severus,” she called to him. He stopped in his tracks and turned to her. “Thank Merlin I saw you. I have an emergency,” she said gravely.

“What’s the matter?”

“Here,” she held the letter out to him, “first, read this, then, I’ll tell you what I need of you.”

Severus glanced at the parchment with a quirked eyebrow. He held out his flasks to Minerva to hold them for him before picking up the letter and reading it.

Dear Ms McGonagall,

I am writing to ask you to stop sending your letters to my son Hadrian Porter (not Harry Potter). Not only do you somehow have the means to know his exact living location within our house, you also see it fit to harass us only two days after you have sent us the first letter. If I knew who you are (because I doubt you are who you claim to be otherwise there would have been a file with your name and surname in some godforsaken corner of the world servers), I would have sued you for stalking and harassment, or rather, I would have come after you myself.

Moving onto the actual contents of this letter.

First, I don’t understand how my son can be accepted to an imaginary school that supposedly deals with magic, when neither my wife, my son nor I have sent any application forms to Hogwarts whatsoever.

Second, my son does not wish to attend your school. How you expect anyone who has never heard of Hogwarts to simply accept the fact there’s a school for wizards and witches without any sort of proof, demonstration or explanation is beyond me. For future record, if you already want people to take your letter seriously provide a brochure with the school description, the classes you offer, a brief description of each one, your school vision, etc. The same goes for the school supplies. I can’t do much with the list if I don’t even know how much everything costs or where I can even buy them.

With that being said, if you do not cease and desist in your harassment of my family, prepare to have legal action taken against you, because I will not tolerate such breach of privacy. You have been warned.

In hopes never to hear from you again,

James Porter

By the time Severus reached the end of the letter, he felt elated knowing he wouldn’t have to suffer the presence of Potter’s spawn. However, his elation was muddled by the fact that the one writing the letter sounded just as arrogant and entitled as James Potter was and just so happened to bear the same name and a very similar surname to his tormentor.

He looked at Minerva with an impassive expression. “Potter won’t be attending Hogwarts, what brilliant news,” he commented dryly, much to Minerva’s chagrin.

“I’m sure you would love that, Severus,” she deadpanned, “but Harry is a magical child, he has to attend either Hogwarts or any other magical school.”

“And what do you want me to do about it?”

“I want you to visit Harry and his new family personally and explain everything in regards to magic and magical education to them.”

Severus’ eyes widened. After he recovered from his initial shock, Severus said sarcastically, “And what, pray tell, makes you think I would want to meet with Potter and his new entitled father?”

“Because you’re the only one who looks normal and serious enough to be taken seriously by Harry’s muggle family.”

He didn’t say anything. “Please, Severus, this is important,” insisted Minerva pleadingly. “I would go personally, but I’m busy with paperwork for the new term.”

“I’m also busy,” countered Severus.

“Yes, but you aren’t the deputy headmaster so you’re obligations are different from mine,” countered Minerva.

After a long silence, he finally agreed to do it and Minerva couldn’t have been more ecstatic about it. He let out a sigh. He should probably get a raise, because he earned too little for the headaches and mental strain that he suffered doing this job, whether because he had to supervise a bunch of nitwits and dunderheads attempting to brew a potion, read through their home assignments filled with grammatical mistakes and ignorance or visit the son of his school nemesis.

Chapter Text

When Severus agreed to speak to Harry Potter’s arrogant adoptive muggle father about magic and magical education, he never expected to be greeted by people wearing black suits, sunglasses and pointing their guns at him as soon as he mentioned Hogwarts. In hindsight, he probably could have done something about it, but in the moment, his brain froze and he let those brute muggles put him into handcuffs and drag him into the mansion at gunpoint as if he was some sort of criminal.

“Boss,” said one of the brutes, “we have someone here that claims to be from Hogwarts. What do you want us to do with him?”

There was a moment of silence, where Severus looked around to see to whom the man was talking, yet saw no one answering or talking back.

“Boss wants us to bring him in, to his study,” reported the brute and they escorted him to the boss’ office.

As they walked, he inconspicuously surveyed his surroundings to get a feel for the environment Potter’s spawn had grown up in and he couldn’t help but sneer at the lavish interior and furniture. With this kind of luxury, there was no way he had grown up anything but spoiled and arrogant … just like his father, biological and adoptive one. However, it was one thing for him to think James Porter was similar to James Potter in attitude and personality and another completely different for him to fathom there could be any similarities between the two men in appearance as well. Therefore, imagine Severus’ shock when he came face to face with Harry’s adoptive father that looked almost identical to the dead James Potter.

He froze in place. How was this possible? As far as he knew, Potter was an only child; he didn’t have any siblings, much less any identical twins. Unless James Potter somehow survived and escaped to the muggle world, he couldn’t comprehend how two people without blood relation could look identical.

James Potter look-alike scrutinised him with his gaze. “So … my men tell me you claim to be a member of staff at Hogwarts,” he spoke with authority, once they were alone in the study. Some of the tension left Severus’ frame when he noticed this man, whoever he was, at least sounded different.

“Indeed,” he managed to force out, doing his best to appear as composed as he could.

He gestured to a chair opposite his. “Sit.” Severus obeyed and James followed him. “First thing’s first,” he started, frowning, “who are you exactly? I doubt you are Minerva McGonagall.”

“My name is Severus Snape and I teach Potions at Hogwarts.” James’ frown deepened due to confusion. “I am also Head of Slytherin House, though I don’t think that tells you much.”

“Not really,” deadpanned James, but left his questions about potions and Slytherin House for later. “The letter claimed Hogwarts was a school for witchcraft and wizardry … you sincerely want us to believe there’s such thing as magic?” he pressed, unamused.

“What the letter your … son received claims is true and yes, there is such thing as magic, Mr …” For a moment, Potter was at the tip of his tongue, but he managed to correct himself on time. “Porter.”

The man remained sceptical, that was why Severus offered a demonstration.

“Be my guest,” gestured James.

He focussed on a pile of papers on the desk and made them levitate without saying or moving a single finger. James’ eyes widened as he stared at the moving and floating papers. “This is magic?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes,” replied Severus.

“We ordinary people would call it telekinesis; the ability to move and manipulate objects with your mind, which is more of a superpower than magic,” he said wryly, crossing his arms.

“I’m not exactly familiar with that expression, but we wizards call levitation magic,” deadpanned Severus.

“And what else is considered magic in your opinion, Mr. Snape?” pressed James mockingly.

“Shapeshifting, transfiguring objects into animals or humans into animals and objects, brewing potions, making objects appear and disappear, travelling through apparition, fireplaces, by touching different objects, anything to do with spells really,” he enumerated.

James still didn’t look convinced. “I don’t know,” he said, “I still think that most of what you consider and call magic is just different kinds of telekinesis, but I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Still, how do you know my son and his friend Hermione are capable of magic?”

“Hogwarts has a book that records the existence of every magical child in Britain. Once the child reaches the age of ten or eleven, they get a letter of acceptance, because every magical child has the right to a magical education, whether they are aware of their status as witch or wizard or not,” explained Severus.

James frowned in thought. “Is that also how the school gets the address of the children?”

“Yes. There are spells and ways to keep track of magical people.”

James didn’t seem happy about it. “You do realise the level of detail in those addresses is extremely creepy and it makes one extremely uncomfortable?” he asked.

“I am aware, yes,” he agreed, “however, I am not responsible for tracking students.”

“And what happens if a child doesn’t want to attend school?”

“It is possible and it does happen, usually among wizarding families. They might decide to hire magical tutors or tutor their children themselves; however, with muggleborns, magical people born from two non-magical people or even squibs, there are stricter rules in regards to their education. Since the parents of such children don’t know or understand magic, much less know how to deal with it, it is heavily encouraged that muggleborns attend Hogwarts to learn to control magic and live peacefully with their parents. They can also opt for home schooling; however, there is a lot of paperwork involved and experiences show that working with a tutor for hours every day makes neighbours suspicious, thus it is better simply to send the muggleborn students to school where they will be able to socialise with people like them and not fear accidentally saying something inappropriate.”

“And what kind of school is Hogwarts?”

“It’s a boarding school that lasts seven years.”

“A boarding school?” repeated James, scandalised. He let out a bitter chuckle. “No, no, no,” he said, shaking his head, “forget it. I’m not sending my son to a boarding school for seven years and I doubt Hermione’s parents would be thrilled to send her there too.”

“Well … that is how it’s always been.”

“And I’m telling you that I don’t give a shit about it,” insisted James. “The only way my son will go to Hogwarts is if he’s allowed to have a flexible schedule and can commute from home to school. Otherwise, forget it.”

Feeling irritated with James’ attitude, so like Potter’s, he sneered. “And what, pray tell, makes your son and his friend special?”

“Aside from being a Porter, Hadrian is a genius,” he said simply. “His passion is engineering. He managed to complete his GCSEs at seven, his A-levels at nine and now he’s attending Cambridge University. He already completed his first year of Bachelor studies and he won’t toss his passion aside to learn and control magic. If he shows interest in magic, and the only way to balance both his university studies and magical studies is through home tutors, then we will hire magical tutors. As for Hermione, she’s Hadrian’s friend,” he continued in a deceptively light tone, “and if my son or her father, who’s my dentist, say they don’t want her shipped to a boarding school, then you can be sure, Mr. Snape, that I will do my absolute best to make their wishes happen. We are the Porters after all, a very influential family in legal and illegal circles, Mr. Snape. You would do well not to get on my bad side. What I say goes and I don’t care who you are, I’ll put a bullet in you if you get in my way and become too big of a problem to overlook,” he said menacingly, moving his jacket to the side a bit to caress and show off his pistol.

Severus swallowed thick. Forget Potter, this man was more like Voldemort than anyone else, a muggle Dark Lord. What kind of trouble did he manage to get himself into now? This was supposed to be a simple home visit, explaining magic, Hogwarts and magical education, not a meeting with muggle mafia. He hoped James wasn’t going to enlist his services, because between Voldemort’s Dark Mark and the unbreakable vow to protect Harry Potter given to Dumbledore, he wasn’t sure if he could handle adding services to this muggle mafia lord to his list too. However, given that the Potter spawn was also the son of James Porter … it seemed inevitable not to be involved.

The door to the office opened and through them walked in a woman with long, dark, wavy hair, pale skin, freckles and emerald green eyes … just like Lily’s.

“Darling, Lucky told me you have a guest from Hogwarts, one Severus Snape,” she spoke in a soft, melodious voice. She walked up to James and stood next to him, her hand on his shoulder. James held her hand and brought it to his lips to kiss the back.

“Indeed, dearest,” he answered.

Severus drew in a shuddering breath. He stared at the woman in shock. He shook his head a little and began blinking to see if he was imagining things. First, a copy of James Potter, and now, a woman that had the same eyes as Lily. Could this get any more bizarre?

“The fuck is with you, man?” James’ vulgar remark brought him out of his reverie. “That’s the second time you look like you’ve seen a ghost. If you have a problem with me and my wife, out with it,” he demanded.

“Forgive me,” said Severus in a subdued tone, “It’s just ...” He took in a deep breath to steady his voice. “You look like people I knew.” He looked at James. “You particularly.”

James narrowed his eyes. “Is it Hadrian’s biological father?”

“Yes … his name was James Potter; you look exactly like him … just without glasses. When I saw you, I thought I was having visions.”

“Well … I can tell you that I’m not James Potter, but James Porter, and I have been a Porter my entire life. And unlike Hadrian, I was born into the family.”

“Are Hadrian’s parents dead?” asked the woman.

He looked at her. “Yes. They were James and Lily Potter and they were murdered on October 31st, 2001.”

“That’s horrible,” she gasped, horrified, clutching her chest. “Do you know who did it?”

“It was someone who called himself Lord …” he swallowed thick, “Voldemort. He was the Dark Lord of the time.”

“The Dark Lord?” repeated James grimacing a bit.

“Yes,” confirmed Severus, “the Dark Lord. He was one of the most powerful and dangerous wizards at the time. He was trying to overtake the Ministry and the rest of the magical Britain too and he tortured and killed anyone who opposed him.” He paused for a bit, debating whether he should disclose his involvement with his cause or mention the Order of which Lily and James were part. In the end, he decided to be open about it. He didn’t have much to lose anyway and something about Porter’s aura was telling him to speak frankly and about as much as he could. “He would have succeeded if not for whatever happened at the Potter cottage.”

“And why did he attack Hadrian’s parents?” pressed James.

“Aside from being part of the organisation that opposed the Dark Lord, there was also a prophecy about the Dark Lord and a babe born as the seventh month dies to parents who have thrice defied him. The baby was said to be his downfall and …”

“He thought the baby from the prophecy was Hadrian, right?” concluded James for him. He nodded.

“There was another baby who was born a day before Harry, I mean Hadrian, but the Dark Lord went to where the Potters were hiding personally to take care of the threat, but when he attempted to kill Hadrian with the Killing Curse, instead of Hadrian, the Dark Lord was the one who vanished.”

The Porter couple furrowed their brows in thought and confusion. “When you say vanish … do you mean he’s dead or is he still alive, but went into hiding?” asked the woman.

“That’s the part where I don’t have a clear answer. No one really does. There are people who are convinced he’s dead, but there are others who think he survived, but was greatly weakened by the incident. What everyone agrees on is that Hadrian did something that night to defeat the Dark Lord and they hail him as the Boy-Who-Lived and his lightning shaped scar.”

They gaped at him, until James huffed, “That’s the most ridiculous shit I have ever heard.”

“I agree, but that’s how it is. Hadrian, or rather Harry Potter, is hailed as a hero of wizardkind in Britain. Parents tell their kids about his great feat as a bedtime story and the contemporary history books mention him as well.” He grimaced. “Of course, most, if not all, of it is fiction.”

The Porters looked utterly disgusted.

“And who took care or was supposed to take care of Hadrian after his parents’ deaths?” wanted to know James.

“Albus Dumbledore, the Headmaster of Hogwarts, placed him somewhere, however, he didn’t disclose where. He only said that he was going to be taken care of,” he answered.

Both James and his wife grimaced in disgust. “I should have a talk with the headmaster,” said James ominously, “because with whomever he placed Hadrian, they didn’t take care of him, instead they left him on a doorstep of an orphanage in the cold without any sort of identification then scurried off like the filth they are.”

Severus’ eyes widened. “Orphanage?”

“Yes,” said the wife, “James and I really wanted to have a child, but …” her voice cracked a bit and her tears misted. Her husband squeezed her hand comfortingly. “I can’t conceive … we tried every method at the time, until we gave up on having biological children and instead decided to adopt and we found Hadrian.” There was a watery smile on her face as her eyes grew distant, remembering the event with fondness. “Of course, when we met him, we didn’t know his name so we gave him a new one, made him into a Porter and treated him as if he was our blood.”

“Does he know he’s adopted?”

“He does,” answered James, “and learning about his real name won’t change anything either.”

Severus nodded.

James let out a sigh and rose to his feet. “Well, Mr. Snape, as much as I would like to continue talking like this with you, I believe we should involve Hadrian and Hermione as well so they can ask their questions, if they have them, whether school or, in Hadrian’s case, personally related.”

Severus got up as well.

“I’m sure they do,” assured the woman, smiling. “They are very curious individuals, after all. Constantly learning and expanding their knowledge.”

“Lucky, where are my son and his friend?”

“Young Hadrian and Hermione are in the practice arena doing target practice.”

Severus started a bit at the bodiless voice. James laughed at his reaction.

“Thank you, Lucky. Come, Mr. Snape,” he said joyfully, clasping one of his shoulders and stirring him into the direction of the practice arena, “let me show you where Hadrian hones his skills as a Porter and where you can showcase more of the so-called magic.”

On the way there, the woman spoke to him, “I just realised we didn’t offer you any refreshments or biscuits. Would you like anything? Coffee, tea, juice, water, or something stronger, perhaps?”

“Lemonade would be great, Mrs. Porter.”

“Please, call me Vivian,” she smiled. “If we manage to come to an arrangement that would benefit both sides, I believe we will be hearing and seeing each other quite often. In any case, I’ll let Happy know to get us some refreshments.” She turned to her husband. “Should I have her bring the drinks to the arena or will you come to the living room once you’ve finished with demonstrations?”

“The living room. We shouldn’t take too long in the arena.”

With that, Vivian went her separate way, while Severus and James continued their way toward the arena. Severus wasn’t really certain what to expect, yet the size of the room was mind-boggling. It was even bigger than the Slytherin Common Room, which was the largest out of all four common rooms at Hogwarts. It was oval-shaped, with an outer and inner ring separated by what looked to be an invisible wall.

His eyes were immediately drawn to the movement inside. Differently shaped objects that served as cover were scattered randomly all over the place, while piece of cardboard that had a human shape were moving at a running speed in all directions. Amidst the chaos, he spotted two actual human figures, wearing some sort of uniform and helmet that covered their entire head. They were crouched behind two boulder-like objects, aiming and shooting at the moving human-like objects. Occasionally, they would duck when they were the ones being targeted and changed covers to protect themselves more efficiently or to get closer to their targets.

Severus was so immersed in watching what was happening in front of him, that when he heard a purring sound right next to his ear and spotted a neon-pink fluff ball with bird legs perching on his shoulder, watching him, he let out a surprised yelp and swatted at it. The creature landed on the floor with a squeak.

James, who was standing next to him with four other similarly styled creatures, only in different colours, perched on his shoulders, laughed boisterously at his reaction. “Oh, so you’ve met Biscuit the hairdryer,” he said, amused, “don’t worry, she’s harmless and if I were you I would be careful with how you treat them. They are Hadrian’s babies after all, you know?”

At Severus’ confused look, he elaborated. “All these fluffy creatures you see are robots that Hadrian made. The oldest is this emerald one called Muffin. He’s a scientific calculator that has voice input. We built this one together when he was four. After that, he made one robot every year, starting with Buttercream the encyclopaedia,” he pointed at the purple one, “Toffee the thesaurus,” he pointed at the caramel-coloured one, “Biscuit the hairdryer, which you just met, and Pompom the vacuum cleaner,” he pointed at the sapphire-blue one.

Severus couldn’t form words, he simply stared at James and the robots created by a child, which moved, made animal sounds and had complicated functions, with an incredulous look.

A smug smirk appeared on James’ face as he straightened himself and puffed out his chest. “I did say he was a genius,” he said, filled with pride.

“You did, yes,” breathed Severus, returning his gaze to the figures inside the inner ring.

Not long after, James told the same bodiless entity to stop whatever was making those cutouts move.

“At once, sir,” said the voice, sending shivers down Severus’ spine. He didn’t like it when he could hear but not see things.

Immediately, the two children looked their way and approached them, taking off their helmets. As expected, the boy looked like James with his hair and facial features, but had Lily’s eyes.

“Is something the matter, dad?” he asked, eyeing Severus warily, as if inspecting him, with slightly narrowed eyes.

“Not necessarily, I just came to tell you that a Hogwarts representative came to talk personally about the school, the curriculum and magic in general.”

A spark of interest ignited inside those emerald eyes. “Pleasure to meet you, Mr …” he trailed off uncertainly, with an extended hand.

“Snape. Severus Snape,” he answered and shook hands with the boy.

“I’m Hadrian Porter and this,” he said, letting go of his hand and gesturing to the girl next to him, “is my friend, Hermione Granger.”

Severus shook hands with the girl as well. “Pleasure.”

“Likewise.”

“Hermione and I have a lot of questions about magic and Hogwarts, Mr. Snape, I hope you will be able to answer them,” said Hadrian in a very formal if slightly arrogant tone.

“I will try my best, Mr. Porter,” returned Severus.

“However, first, I thought Mr. Snape could show us as much magic as he is allowed to, so that we can all get an idea of what it looks and feels like,” added James. “Lucky, make sure you record everything with all the different cameras we have in place. I want to capture everything if possible,” he instructed.

“Understood, sir.”

 James gestured to Severus to enter the arena. The others followed him inside. “Do you want us to remove the obstacles?”

“No,” he said, “I can use them to demonstrate different spells.”

“Then, whenever you’re ready. Lucky is already on stand-by with the cameras.”

Nodding, Severus turned his back on them, whipped out his wand, took a couple of deep breaths, and proceeded to cast a series of spells. Most of them were destructive ones, such as Confringo, Bombarda, Diffindo, Incendio, Reducto, and Expulso. He also countered Incendio with Aguamenti, and used Reparo to return the destroyed cutouts to their original states. Then, he proceeded to do a series of transfigurations and, finally, he decided to perform Lumos and Nox as well as the Patronus charm.

When he finished and turned to his audience, all three of them were in awe, eyes sparkling with all sorts of questions.

Feeling smug, he decided to perform one last magical act. He apparated directly behind them and whispered ominously, “Do you still think magic is just a series of different kinds of telekinesis or that it doesn’t exist, Mr. Porter?”

They all jumped and yelped in surprise, clutching their chests.

“B-But how?” stammered the girl, blinking and looking and pointing between the place he was standing just a moment ago and his current position. “You were just-“

“-Here a moment ago?” He appeared where he was before again, a satisfied smirk still in place.

The girl was in shock, as were Hadrian and James.

“If you wish and if you allow me to … I could perform a few spells directly on you,” he offered. When he saw apprehension, he elaborated. “Nothing harmful, of course, and I will tell you what the spell will do so, you will know what to anticipate.”

Exchanging looks, the children volunteered.

“Excellent. Now, the first spell I’m going to use is a tickling charm. The incantation for it is Rictusempra,” he said, and when Hadrian and Hermione indicated that they were ready, he casted it at them.

Instantly, they started giggling and laughing, contorting, trying to escape the tickles. After a few seconds, he cancelled the spell and let them breath. He then moved onto Incarcerous, Langlock, Levicorpus, Mobilicorpus, and Arresto Momentum. By the time, he was finished, the children were so fascinated, they gathered around him and pleaded with him to let them try to do a spell … or two … or three.

“A simple one will do, please, Mr. Snape,” pleaded Hermione, and Hadrian soon followed.

“Alright, but I will tell you which ones and how to do them. No straying away from what I say, is that clear?”

They nodded eagerly. He showed them how to do Lumos and Nox, Spongify, Accio, and Wingardium Leviosa, but he drew a line with any exploding and fire-making spells, much to Hermione and Hadrian’s chagrin.

“But why, Mr. Snape?” said Hadrian. “It’s not the first time I’ve made things explode, and I make explosions all the time when I’m in the lab with my mum, who’s a chemist.”

“Because this is my wand and your spells will be most effective and easy to control if you are performing them with your own wand,” said Severus sternly. “However, I’m no wand lore expert; you will have to speak in detail about it with the wandmaker Ollivander. You will meet him during your school shopping, should you decide to attend Hogwarts, that is.”

“Fine,” they pouted.

“Did you manage to catch everything, Lucky?” asked James eagerly. He was probably already looking forward to review the footage he acquired.

“I have, sir.”

“Excellent.” His hungry and predatory grin made Severus think if he made a colossal mistake by letting this science-oriented muggle record his spells for observation. James glanced at his watch. “Let’s go to the living room children, your mother is waiting for us there,” he said to Hadrian, gently ruffling his hair.

The boy beamed.

As they drank their refreshments, Severus was courteous enough to perform a couple of household spells, like Tergeo and Scourgify, but he also transfigured a few objects into animals and flowers and back for Vivian as well. Just like her husband and kids, her eyes sparkled with awe. “This is truly amazing,” she breathed.

Apart from spells, Hadrian and Hermione kept asking him questions about the school itself. He told them about the subjects and briefly described what each was about, the houses, even the professors, however, when he told them it was a boarding school, they immediately started making faces, not at all happy with that information.

“As much as we find magic fascinating and would enjoy discovering its intricacies and wonders, I don’t want to leave my engineering studies or spend most of the year away from my parents … for seven years,” said Hadrian.

“Me neither,” added Hermione. “It’s just not worth it.”

Severus let out a sigh. “I will relay your concerns and wishes to the administration, but I can’t make any promises.”

“I’m willing to speak with the administration myself, if necessary,” offered James. “Like I said, I’m willing to do anything to make things work.”

“I will be in touch then, Mr. Porter.”

“Also … Whether or not the kids will attend Hogwarts, I want to take them shopping for books and other equipment, and, if you don’t mind, I would like them to learn the basics about wizarding world and magic before September. Would you be willing to be their tutor in the meantime or do you have other obligations?”

Severus was speechless. He didn’t know how to answer. He was certainly busy preparing lessons, potions for the school infirmary, and doing independent research, if he became a tutor and a middle person between the Porters and the school as well as a sort of wizarding guide, he would feel overwhelmed. However, how does one say no to the muggle version of the Dark Lord without suffering repercussions?

“I would gladly accept it, however, being a private tutor and a guide is not among my teaching obligations, therefore if I agree I would be adding to my work without any sort of payoff,” he said, trying to be as diplomatic as possible. “Besides, I’m busy with lesson plans, brewing potions for the school infirmary and I barely find time to do some independent research.”

“If you’re worried about payment, I will pay you more than generously for your time and effort and if you need space to do independent research, you are more than welcome to use our research facilities. As for time, once we are certain whether Hadrian and Hermione will attend Hogwarts or not, we will try and find a time slot that will fit both you and us.”

“Alright,” agreed Severus, “if you insist.” The allure of having access to research facilities was probably the decisive factor in his decision and he had a feeling James knew exactly what to offer to make him agree. Like he said the muggle Lord Voldemort … and he was Hadrian’s adoptive father.

As his visit ended and Hadrian and Hermione went back to their training for an upcoming Paintball competition and Vivian retired to her lab, James took the opportunity that they were alone to ask him a more delicate question.

“You say you are a Potions expert, right?” he began tentatively, in a quiet voice.

“Yes,” he said, uncertain as to the purpose of such question, “I do have a mastery and I do pride myself in my potion-making abilities. Why?”

“Is there a potion that can help cure infertility?”

Understanding dawned on Severus. Of course. Now that the man was convinced there was something new and undiscovered, fantastical even, he wanted to cling to the possibility of magic holding a solution for his wife’s inability to conceive.

“There is, but they are expensive, difficult and time-consuming to make and even then, I can’t guarantee success,” he told him frankly, without sugarcoating it.

“I don’t care how long it takes or how much money it costs,” said James, determined, “if it can give my wife a possibility to have a child, then it’s worth it.”

“I thought you have accepted the fate and are happy with having adopted Hadrian,” pressed Severus.

“I have, and I adore Hadrian with every fibre of my being, I would die and kill and burn the entire world down for that kid, but if there’s even the slightest, infinitesimal chance of Vivian conceiving naturally, then I want to take it.”

Severus stared in James’ intense eyes and agreed to brew several fertility potions for him.

The man smiled gratefully, clasped his shoulder and said, “Thank you … Severus.”

“And?” prompted Minerva, when he entered her office, “How did it go?”

“Hadrian Porter and Hermione Granger are willing to attend Hogwarts.” Minerva’s eyes illuminated and a smile spread over her face. “However, they have a few conditions.”

Her smile disappeared and confusion marred her forehead. “What sort of conditions?”

“They don’t want to board. The boy is studying engineering at a muggle university and he doesn’t want to quit it just to come to Hogwarts and the girl doesn’t want to spend most of the year away from home and her parents,” he said in a bored voice. “Also, because of his university studies, the boy would need a flexible schedule and be allowed to skip on a few classes on certain days, depending on the schedule at the university.”

Minerva didn’t know what to say. “But, if they don’t want to board, how are they going to commute?”

“Floo Powder or a professor can apparate to Diagon Alley with them and then the parents will pick them up somewhere nearby,” said Severus casually.

“Yes, but what will the rest of the students say if they learn two students have special treatment? No doubt they will demand to be allowed to commute too and we would have chaos.”

“That’s not my problem,” he shrugged. “I am only telling you what they told me, if you want to discuss it further, the father has expressed willingness to talk to the school administration in person. I did what you asked of me, now I’m leaving.”

He turned and left the office, leaving behind a gaping and speechless Minerva.

“Albus,” she said as soon as she walked into his office, “I need to speak with you immediately.”

“What is it Minerva?” he asked, with a lemon drop in his mouth.

“Two upcoming first years will attend Hogwarts only if they don’t have to board.”

“And who are these two students?”

“Harry Potter and Hermione Granger.”

Albus’ eyes widened in surprise. “Harry got his letter?”

“He did, and a couple of days later his adoptive father send a negative reply, but I sent Severus to speak with them and tell them about magic and Hogwarts and that’s what they said.”

“Adoptive father?” he repeated incredulously.

“Whatever happened in the last decade, Albus,” she said sternly, “Harry is no longer living with the muggles you left him, but different ones. They even renamed him into Hadrian Porter.”

That was unexpected. “And did they say why they don’t want to board at Hogwarts?”

“Hadrian is apparently already attending university and wishes to continue his muggle studies, the girl is his friend and her only reason is that she doesn’t want to board. Hadrian’s father said he is willing to talk about this condition in person.”

Dumbledore stroked his beard, a pensive look on his face. He could simply agree to the conditions, but he was also very curious to meet with Harry’s adoptive family. He will send a letter and arrange a meeting with them. He wanted to see what kind of people they were.

“Thank you for telling me, Minerva,” he said, a soft smile on his face. “I will take it from here. You don’t have to worry about it.”

Chapter Text

When Severus left the living room and his guards escorted him outside, James immediately pulled up the tracking program on his phone screen so he could observe Severus’ movements. He had managed to adhere one of his micro, self-adhesive GPS trackers on the inside part of the man’s collar. Before the man noticed it, he would have already gathered the coordinates of his position. Either of his home or school. Either was a win in James’ books.

For a quick second the signal was lost, until the dot representing Severus on the screen found its way to the north of Scotland. It was visible and trackable for a while, until he lost contact for good.

“Shit,” he cursed under his breath.

“Sir, I believe we found the location of Hogwarts,” announced Lucky.

“Can you pull up a satellite imagery using the coordinates before we lost contact?”

“Immediately, sir.”

However, the real-time satellite image showed nothing but ruins and there was a lot of static involved.

“Run diagnostics in different electromagnetic spectra. I want a rough map of different frequencies, wavelengths and photon energies and of course the size of the entire perimeter.”

“On it, sir.”

Several minutes of scanning and mapping later, the results were unlike he had ever seen, it almost felt like the readings one would get from the Devil’s Sea or Bermuda Triangle, which were both considered to be places of paranormal activity.

“Well, Lucky,” announced James with a wide grin, “I believe we found the place of paranormal activity in the UK; Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”

James, Vivian and Hadrian were reviewing the video, sound, heat and chemical footage of Severus’ magic, to determine the state of matter, the type of particles, the pressure levels, the velocity, and the kinds of energy contained and emitted by the spells, among other things. They kept replaying certain segments, playing them in slow motion, pausing them, taking notes, running different formulas and simulations, where Vivian concentrated on the chemical side of things and James and Hadrian focussed on the physical side.

They had barely scratched the surface with their research, when an owl brought another letter. This one was from the headmaster himself and he was asking to have a meeting to discuss the conditions for Hadrian to attend Hogwarts.

James looked at his wife and son. “When do we tell him to meet?”

“The sooner, the better,” said Hadrian.

“And it has to be done on familiar territory,” added Vivian, “to have the upper hand, because it will be easier to control the conversation here, than the other way around.”

“Agreed.”

When Dumbledore took in his appearance two days later, he had a very similar reaction to seeing him as Severus Snape; his eyes widened and all colour drained from his face. He numbly shook the offered hand he had offered him in greeting and it took everything he had not to show his amusement; so instead, he kept a neutral expression.

“Is something the matter, Mr. Dumbledore?” he inquired.

The man shook himself out of his shock. “Forgive me, Mr. Porter. Your face looks familiar. For a moment, I confused you with someone else.”

He nodded at the explanation. “It happens sometimes,” he answered with a polite smile. “Especially at first glance.”

Dumbledore still looked slightly shaken, but agreed nonetheless. James kept smiling politely. “Please, sit.” He gestured to the chair opposite his. The headmaster thanked him and sat down.

He sat down as well. “Would you like something to drink?”

“A cup of tea will be fine, thank you.”

He called for Happy and ordered a cup of tea for his guest and a cup of coffee for himself. “Immediately, Master,” she bowed and left the study.

Dumbledore looked around the office. “It’s a really impressive place you have here,” he praised.

“Thank you.”

“If a bit unsuitable for children,” he added jovially.

James’ eyes immediately narrowed and any trace of a smile disappeared from his face. “I beg your pardon?” he said in a low, dangerously smooth tone. He leaned forward, threading his fingers and placing his elbows on the desk.

“I don’t know how Harry Potter came to this house nor do I know how you ended up as his adoptive parent, but either way, surely you are aware that a place such as this isn’t suitable for a child,” he said gently. “All those armed men in black you have stationed outside and throughout the house; the house itself feels cold and empty. It doesn’t feel like home.”

James scowled at Dumbledore. “And you think an orphanage is a better option for a child?” he prompted him, his words saturated with venom. He will not let some Merlin wannabe come to his house and say shit like that.

“Of course not,” said Dumbledore, scandalised.

“Well, that’s exactly where Hadrian would have been right now if it weren’t for my wife and me,” he said curtly. He narrowed his eyes. “Tell me, Mr. Dumbledore, did you leave him there or someone else?”

“I would never place a child in an orphanage, Mr. Porter,” he retorted indignantly. “Harry was supposed to grow up with his last living relatives on his mother’s side. I placed him in their care.”

“Well, for being his last living blood relatives they sure were more than happy and quick to get rid of him,” commented James sarcastically. “They really sound like a wonderful family.”

“It was probably a mistake, an impulse.”

“You mean leaving Hadrian with his relatives? Oh, most definitely. I totally agree with you. Though, I suppose I should thank them, because if they hadn’t placed Hadrian in that orphanage, my wife and I wouldn’t have met our son.”

Dumbledore opened his mouth to say something, but Happy’s arrival interrupted them. “Do you need me to bring you anything else, Master?” she asked after placing the two drinks in front of them.

“No, thank you, Happy, that will be all,” he said with a smile.

She was about to leave when she remembered something. “One more thing, Master. Young Master Hadrian requests your permission to test out the newest batch of guns and assault rifles.”

“Tell him he has my permission to test them if he handles them wearing full body protection.”

“Understood.” She bowed and left them alone again.

The headmaster looked completely horrified at him. “You are allowing a child, an eleven-year-old child to shoot guns?”

James deadpanned at him. “Yes. Yes, I am.”

“You have corrupted and destroyed a child’s innocence,” he accused, and James couldn’t help but laugh. “I don’t know what you find so amusing, sir.”

“Mr. Dumbledore, let me tell you something,” he said with a smooth voice and a dangerous glint in his eyes. “We, the Porters, are a very influential family. We have a lot of power and resources and, for that, many enemies and rivals in both legal and illegal circles, and people who envy us would do anything to destroy us. I see nothing wrong with me teaching my son about the ugly side of our business and arming him with ways to defend himself. If anything, corrupting and destroying his innocence has prevented more than a handful of kidnappings and assassinations from rival mafia groups.”

“Mafia?” he repeated breathlessly, horror shining in his eyes. “Are you listening to yourself, Mr. Porter? You have roped an innocent child into the world of crime. Harry’s relatives might not be perfect but at least they aren’t criminals and they wouldn’t have turned him into one either.”

“What are you trying to say, Mr. Dumbledore?” he asked with narrowed eyes. “That you would have preferred Hadrian had grown up unloved and mistreated by his relatives or neglected at the orphanage or abused by some other adoptive parents, instead of loved and adored by my wife and I just because you think the first three options would have prevented him from becoming a criminal?”

“You and your wife might love and adore him, but you are bad for him,” said Dumbledore slowly, confirming that he would indeed let a child be mistreated, abused and neglected because he thought Hadrian would never turn to crime at any point in his life. “You are teaching him how to kill and torture people,” continued Dumbledore. “You are turning him into a monster. His parents are probably turning in their graves for how you’ve raised him.” James rolled his eyes. He couldn’t care less what Hadrian’s biological parents might think of him and Vivian, because they were dead. “His parents were heroes, they were good people who would never kill or torture others,” ranted Dumbledore and James was seriously starting to lose his patience. “I’m afraid that, if bad comes to worse, I will have to intervene and take Harry away from you and place him with his rightful family.”

Anger reached its peak and something snapped inside James at the last few words. As if on autopilot, his hand reached for his gun, sheathed around his waist, aimed above the man’s heart and pulled the trigger.

The force of the bullet penetrating the flesh flung Dumbledore back in his seat, while the sound of the gunshot reverberated throughout his study, alerting the guards stationed just outside the door who came storming inside, their own firearms in hand.

James, on the other hand, wore a completely blank expression, still pointing his gun at the horrified Dumbledore, who was now clutching his profusely bleeding shoulder wound and breathing heavily. “Now, listen here and listen well, because I will only say this once,” he said in a soft, smooth voice. “You attempt to take my son away from his mother and father and I will put a bullet in the middle of your forehead. You mess with my family and I kill you. Is that understood?”

Dumbledore failed to answer and James lowered the barrel of his gun and shot him in the leg. He wasn’t planning to kill the man, just make him understand that James Porter was not someone you wanted to provoke.

“When I ask you something, I expect you to answer my question,” he said with the same softness as before. “So, I ask again, is that understood? You stay the hell away from my family and I let you live.”

When the man failed to answer his question a second time, he signalled one of the two guards who have barged in to electroshock the man with the stun gun.

It was a good thing he had the man searched and his magical sticks confiscated, and if he tried anything telekinetic anyway, he had Lucky on standby to shoot the man down at any given moment. Better safe than sorry. Until Vivian, Hadrian and he managed to crack the secrets of magic, they were not risking anything.

When he asked him a third time, Dumbledore nodded weakly, because he didn’t have the strength to answer with words. James smiled wide, leaning back in his chair, with his gun still in hand. “Excellent. See? That wasn’t so difficult now, was it?” The headmaster said nothing, growing paler by the minute, perspiration collecting on his forehead.

“Anyway,” he said light-heartedly, changing the subject a bit, “I believe we have strayed from our original objective, which was to address Hadrian’s Hogwarts attendance and the boarding situation.”

“Please,” croaked Dumbledore weakly. “I need help.”

James ignored his plea and kept speaking as if nothing was out of the ordinary, as if a man wasn’t bleeding out in front of him.

“Now, Hadrian is a genius. He loves engineering and while he has become very interested in magic, he isn’t willing to renounce one field of study over the other. Therefore, if we cannot come to an agreement over balancing his schedule in a way that lets him commute freely from one place to the other, then I am afraid, we will have to refuse your Hogwarts offer,” he continued smiling like a Cheshire cat.

Dumbledore was breathing with difficulty, his robes wet with blood that oozed out of the wounds.

“I am aware that the school might not be used to making exceptions, but I think that if you want to have the honour of having such a brilliant student like my son Hadrian at your school, then I believe nothing is too much to ask to make it happen, wouldn’t you agree, Mr. Dumbledore?”

It looked as if the man had passed out, so he signalled to the guard to electroshock him again.

“I know bureaucracy can be boring and tedious, Mr. Dumbledore, but do try to pay attention to our discussion, will you,” he admonished the man. “So, will you allow my son to commute to and from school from Monday to Friday?”

“Yes.”

“Excellent, and, of course, he will spend the weekends at home. No need to have him at Hogwarts.”

“Yes.”

“One more thing, would you be so kind and apply the same arrangement for Hermione Granger. She is Hadrian’s dear friend and gets homesick very easily,” said James, showing concern. “It would break my son’s heart to see his best friend sad over something like this.”

“Anything,” breathed Dumbledore, half-delirious from blood loss and pain.

“Thank you, Mr. Dumbledore. That is very kind and generous of you.” He smiled. Then, proceeded to open one of the desk drawers and take out a bottle of ether and a cloth tissue.

Once he had him sedated, and he placed another self-adhesive tracking device on the man to confirm the location of Hogwarts by seeing if he was going to teleport to the same location as Severus or not, he turned to his guards.

“Call in three more.” When the reinforcements arrived, he gave them further orders. “I want four people carrying him. The fifth one is to make sure that he doesn’t try anything funny and can shoot him with the intention to kill.”

“Yes, boss!” They said in unison.

“Good. I want you to drop him in some deserted place, but make sure no one notices or recognises you, so cover your faces.”

They nodded.

“What do we do with the magic sticks?” asked one of them.

“Destroy them,” he deadpanned. “One doesn’t just half murder someone and then gives them their weapon of choice to come and look for revenge.” He glared at the slumped figure of Albus Dumbledore. “Also, he’s experienced and powerful; he might not even need the sticks to perform powerful magic.”

The guards nodded as one.

“Off you go, then,” he dismissed them and waited for them to heave Dumbledore and carry him out of his house. At this point, he didn’t care if the man survived or not. If he died … at least he had one person less to worry about in this world.

He relaxed in his chair, took a sip of his coffee and let out a sigh of relief.

“Sir?” called Lucky.

“What is it, Lucky?”

“Do you want me to call for your wife and son so you can tell them the happy news?”

James smiled wickedly. “What a wonderful idea, Lucky. Please, tell them to come, but first, tell Happy to clean this mess. I can’t have them sitting in a bloodied chair.”

“At once, sir.”

Dumbledore wasn’t sure how long he was unconscious, how much blood he had lost, how he was still alive or where he was. He looked for his wands, but didn’t see them anywhere. ‘I need to get to Hogwarts,’ went through his mind. ‘I need to go to the Hospital Wing.

Even in his debilitated state, he managed to apparate straight into the school infirmary, frightening Poppy when she saw his state.

“Merlin’s beard, Albus, what happened?” she fussed over him, immediately escorting him to one of the beds. “Who did this to you?”

“I seemed to have angered one very dangerous parent,” he joked weakly and Poppy went to get some Blood-Replenishing Potion, all the while muttering something disapproving under her breath.

The image of James Porter’s blank, cold expression as he shot him without hesitation and his unsympathetic and nonchalant attitude afterwards made his blood run cold in his veins. The man even managed to behave and talk as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened; he even smiled all the while watching him suffer.

He was familiar with this kind of attitude. He had seen it in Gellert, once his sister had died and he finally stopped seeing everything in rose-coloured glasses when it came to him. He had seen it in Tom Riddle, who would later become Lord Voldemort, and now, in James Porter. How could the man look like a copy of James Potter, yet be so different in character?

The worst of all was that Harry had become just as dark and corrupted as his adoptive father. What child uses real guns as entertainment, unless they have become corrupted themselves? He would need to be careful and pay close attention to the boy, and if he showed signs of being just as bad, if not worse, as Tom, he would have to put an end to him, before he had two Dark Lords on his back, because he knew Tom was still alive. He wasn’t entirely sure how he survived that night, he only knew he would eventually return.

Poppy informed both Minerva and Severus about Albus’ injuries. They both knew whom he was visiting and both were shocked to see what a mere muggle was able to do to a powerful wizard such as Dumbledore.

Severus might not like Dumbledore for his scheming ways, and how he trapped him into doing what he wanted, but this incident only further confirmed to him that James was indeed someone dangerous, perhaps even more dangerous than the Dark Lord himself.

Moreover, to think he let such a dangerous man record his magic! What was he thinking? If that man figured how to use magic without being a wizard, the entire wizarding community was done for … and all because of him.

He ran his hands through his hair and let out a sigh. If he had any chances of survival, he had better make sure to stay on the man’s good side. He already seemed to like him; otherwise, he wouldn’t have offered him the tutoring job or granted him access to some of the research facilities. However, he would need to be careful, because everything sounded too good to be true.

On August 2nd, Hadrian and Hermione would finally get their hands on their magical school supplies. They would use the books written by wizards to understand the concept of magic and maybe find some useful information for their research. Because while they were making progress on their own, it was slow.

When they received Severus’ letter that said he would accompany them to Diagon Alley for school shopping, Vivian had the brilliant idea to dye her hair bright red. When James asked her why she wanted to do that, she grinned like a Cheshire cat.

“You know how we both bear resemblance to Hadrian’s biological parents?”

“Aha.”

“You more so than me, but with changing my dark hair for red, I think I can fool people at a distance into thinking I’m Lily Potter. Just imagine people fainting and whispering wildly at the sight of the ‘Undead Potters’.” There was a wicked glint in her eyes.

James’ grin and expression matched hers. “I like how you think, babe.”

She laughed heartily.

“So, Severus,” she said, as soon as she appeared in front of the Potions Master, “what do you think of my new look?”

Severus almost suffered a heart attack, when he saw Vivian’s makeover, but he quickly pulled himself together and cleared his throat.

“It looks fine to me,” he drawled with a straight face. “Though I don’t understand the reasoning behind such drastic colour change.”

She smiled enigmatically and said, “I always wondered what I would look like as a redhead. So, I decided that now was the perfect time to see if it suited me or not.” She strolled off to the car’s passenger seat. He stared after her, but quickly followed, because he was to sit in the car with them and give directions.

He sat in the back with Hadrian, while Hermione and her parents, and a group of guards followed them in two other cars. They parked approximately five minutes of walking distance away from the Leaky Cauldron.

Due to the size of their group, the customers at the inn inevitably glanced their way. The brightness of Vivian’s hair drew other people’s attention and the effect it had on the people inside was immediate, especially when they noticed James and Hadrian as well.

Murmurs and gasps erupted around them, a waitress even dropped their trays and the cutlery and dishes fell to the floor. The elderly bartender stared openly in shock.

“Is everything alright, sir?” asked Vivian.

“Bless my soul … It’s the Potters,” breathed the man, white as a sheet. “But how?”

“Pull yourself together, Tom,” snapped Severus impatiently. “I am here to escort the Porters,” he made special emphasis on the word, “and the Grangers so the children can buy their school supplies.”

Tom snapped out of his reverie and showed them to the back of the inn. Vivian thanked him, which made the man pause for a moment in shock.

The alley was busy, but because of their burly guards, they managed to create a passage down the middle, with people staring, first at the guards, and then at the Porters, which sparked a wildfire of loud whispers about the dead Potters. A few of them even fainted from shock.

Vivian, James and Hadrian as well as the Grangers minded their own business, but James and Vivian felt smug about the reactions they were getting.

Vivian glanced at her husband and leaned into him. “This is going according to plan, darling,” she whispered.

James hugged her around the waist and held her close. “As it should, love,” he returned. “As it should.” Then, planted a quick kiss on her lips.

“If we’re lucky, there might be a wizard journalist nearby that will take some pictures of us three and feature us in one of their newspapers.”

“Imagine we make the headlines tomorrow morning in their papers,” chuckled James under his breath.

“I can already see the title: ‘Potters Return from the Dead’ or: ‘Potters Alive!’”

“We’ll have to ask Severus to supply us with a copy, then.” He winked mischievously at his wife.

Their first stop was the Gringotts bank. It was fascinating to encounter actual goblins and well, they looked almost exactly as fantasy novelists were depicting them, short, ugly and with a bad temper. As well as greedy, obsessed with gold and jewellery. It made sense to make them bankers, but James and Vivian weren’t so sure they wanted to entrust their money to them.

The goblins sneered at the group. After Snape explained briefly the circumstances and the purpose of their visit, a goblin called Ironclaw took over the Grangers to open an account for Hermione and exchange the muggle money they brought with them for the magical one, while a goblin called Griphook took care of the Porters.

Snape stayed behind with the bodyguards.

“What can I do for you?” asked Griphook in a sneer.

“Aside from giving us enough magical money for my son’s school supplies, we would like to know more about our son.” He rested his hand on Hadrian’s head and smiled softly at him. “And I know he would like to know a bit more about himself too.”

Hadrian smiled back at his parents and nodded.

“In that case, you might want to do an inheritance test for the young gentleman,” said Griphook with a wicked grin. “For a fee, of course.”

James forced a fake smile. “Of course.”

The goblin took out some parchment together with an ornate silver blade and placed them in front of them. “Three drops of blood directly onto the parchment, please,” he instructed.

All three of them exchanged sceptical looks, but in the end, Harry picked up the knife, pricked his thumb and let three drops of blood fall onto the parchment. All of them observed with interest and wonder when the drops of blood disappeared into the parchment and words started to form on it instead.

Name: Harry James Potter

Sex: Male

Blood Status: Half-Blood

Date of Birth: 31 July 2000

Place of Birth: Godric's Hollow, West Country, England, Great Britain

 

Father: James Potter (deceased)

Father’s Blood Status: Pureblood

Mother: Lily Potter (née Evans) (deceased)

Mother’s Blood Status: Muggleborn

 

Guardians (until the subject turns 17):

Muggle: James & Vivian Porter

Magical: Sirius Black (incarcerated)

 

Titles:

Harry James Potter is:

  • Lord Potter (once he turns 17)
  • Lord Gryffindor (once he turns 17)
  • Heir Peverell

 

Properties:

Harry James Potter owns the following magical properties:

  • Potter Manor and Estate
  • ¼ of Hogwarts (Gryffindor’s personal chambers included)

Harry James Potter is eligible to inherit the following magical properties:

  • Peverell Manor and Estate (if the current Lord Peverell passes away without biological children)

 

Vaults:

Harry James Potter has access to the following vaults at Gringotts, London:

  • #13: 1,200,00 galleons, 135 sickles, 737 knuts (once he turns 17)
  • #123: 1,600,000 galleons, 215 sickles, 535 knuts (once he turns 17)
  • #687: 50,000 galleons (The vault will stop existing on 31 July 2017 and the contents of the vault will merge with vault #123)

As of 2 August 2011, the total sum is 2,850,000 galleons, 350 sickles, 1,272 knuts.

 

Additional information:

Soulmate: Tom Marvolo Riddle (Lord Voldemort)

“I have a soulmate?” breathed Hadrian in awe. James and Vivian recognised the title Lord Voldemort as the man who killed Hadrian’s – Harry’s – birth parents and the same man who attempted to kill him.

Hadrian looked up at his parents. “We have to find him,” he said with a determined and urgent look. “I want to meet him as soon as possible.”

“Hadrian, sweetie,” said Vivian gently, a melancholic smile on her face, “that man, Lord Voldemort, is responsible for your birth parents’ deaths and … apparently, he also attempted to kill you.”

Hadrian stared, wide-eyed at his mother. “Why would he want to kill his own soulmate?”

“I don’t know, son,” said James. “It’s possible he doesn’t know you two are soulmates, but apparently, there is a prophecy that says that a child born at the end of July is going to be his downfall or something and given that your real birthday is July 31st and not November 11th, the man thought you were going to defeat or even kill him eventually.”

“I would never kill my soulmate,” said Hadrian, horrified. “I wouldn’t even dream of hurting him. If anything, I would be like you, father. I would love him, protect him and do my best to be a good spouse.”

James smiled at his son and caressed his head.

“Even if we go look for him, Hadrian, the man disappeared into thin air after that incident,” reasoned James. “And we don’t even know what the man looks like or any possible whereabouts to start our search. It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack.”

“I don’t care,” insisted Hadrian. “Even if I have to search the entire planet above and below ground, I will find him. He’s my soulmate,” his voice softened. “He needs me and I need him. I want him. Father, mother, there’s a person made just for me. I can have what you two have and I want it. I refuse to be with anyone who isn’t my soulmate.”

Vivian and James hugged him fiercely.

“Spoken like a true Porter,” said James proudly, ruffling his hair. “Because, we, the Porter men, only go for the best of the best. It doesn’t matter how long it takes us to find it or what we have to do to get it.”

A blinding smiled brightened Hadrian’s face. “So, you will help me find my soulmate?” he asked, hopeful.

“Of course, we will,” assured him Vivian. “However, I want you to promise me one thing, sweetie,” she added sternly.

“What is it?”

“If we find him much earlier than what we are anticipating, you have to promise me you won’t do anything sexual with him until you’re at least sixteen years old.” Seeing Hadrian’s frustrated expression, she added, “You can hold hands, hug, and even exchange kisses on the cheek, but no mouth-to-mouth kissing, no stimulation of erogenous zones, no handjobs, blowjobs and other jobs and definitely no penetration before you turn sixteen.”

“Even if I’m the one doing the penetration?” he asked innocently.

“Not even then.”

He let out a long-suffering breath and agreed to his mother’s conditions. “Fine,” he pouted and crossed his arms over his chest.

She smiled and kissed the top of his head. “You’ll be able to go on dates and talk.”

“With a group of bodyguards constantly watching our every move, every yawn, every sneeze, listening to our every word,” grumbled Hadrian. “How am I supposed to enjoy my dates with Tom if our guards will be breathing down our necks?”

“They’ll keep a safe distance, but they will mostly be making sure that neither you nor your partner forget yourselves and end up having sex.” She playfully narrowed her eyes at her son. “I know you, Hadrian, if you could have it your way you would be all over Tom if left to your own devices.”

Hadrian avoided eye contact with Vivian, because she was right. He would be trying to seduce his soulmate at the first opportunity.

“Alright, now that that is out of the way,” said James, “let’s focus on a few other things on the parchment, mainly the magical guardian part, money, titles and property. Then, I would like to ask you something I’ve been wondering.”

“What do you want to know?”

“How important is the magical guardian in Hadrian’s case? Aren’t my wife and I enough?”

“Because Mr. Potter is a Half-Blood and a minor at that, the magical guardian has more weight over the decision-making than muggle guardians, especially in regards to Mr. Potter’s magical education. I assume he will be attending Hogwarts.”

“He will,” retorted James, “but the headmaster agreed to adjust a few things for him.”

“In any case, the magical guardian would be legally responsible for Mr. Potter under the wizarding law.”

“Is a magical guardian necessary in Hadrian’s case or can we arrange so we are his only guardians?”

“I am afraid that a magical guardian is necessary.”

“Understood, but how does Black’s status influence the situation? How can he represent Hadrian when he is imprisoned?”

“Once Mr. Potter officially starts attending Hogwarts, there will be a change in the custody and the role will be transferred automatically to the headmaster of the magical educational institution of Mr. Potter’s choice.”

“Can we prevent the transfer of the title?” inquired Vivian in her husband’s stead, because a dark scowl formed on his face at the mention of Dumbledore as Hadrian’s guardian.

“Yes, if the current guardian is capable of answering for his ward.”

“Basically, what you’re saying is that Sirius Black has to be free and at his full mental capacity to continue being Hadrian’s magical guardian?” said James.

“Yes, if you can achieve that before September 1st,” confirmed Griphook.

James’ eyes darkened, he will be damned if he let Dumbledore be in charge of his son’s legal affairs in the wizarding world. It would seem he had one Sirius Black to free. ASAP!

“Okay. Now, the other three things.” He changed the subject. “First, what’s with the titles? Is Hadrian’s biological family some sort of nobility or royalty to have Lords and Heirs in the family?”

“You could say that,” sneered Griphook. “There exists something called ‘The Sacred Twenty-Eight’, a document that states which wizarding families have retained their true pureblood status by the 1930s. Those families usually come with titles of Lord and Lady, Heir and Heiress. Unfortunately, the Potters were excluded from the directory, because the surname was very common and muggle and their pro-Muggle views. However, the author of the directory was biased at best, therefore, it is safe to say that the Potters, who have no known muggle ancestor in their family tree, to be considered part of the sacred wizarding families and thus come with those titles.”

“I see, but you can only gain titles of Lord or Lady when you become of age, which judging by the number in the document is seventeen here in the magical world. Is that right?”

“Indeed, Mr. Porter, you are correct in your assumptions. The same would usually apply to the property that comes with the title; however, given Mr. Potter’s status as an orphan, he is entitled to the property so he doesn’t have to be homeless.”

“And is there no other candidate for the title Lord Potter right now? Hadrian is the only one who can inherit that title?”

“That is correct. Mr. Potter is the only living Potter in the magical Britain; therefore, he is the only eligible candidate for the title. However, he can authorise someone to stand in for him until he reaches the majority.”

James fell silent, his brow furrowing in deep thought.

“And … those numbers are big as is, but how much money is that in muggle terms?” asked Vivian.

“The exchange rate between the British Pound Sterling and British Galleon is roughly five to one, meaning that one galleon equals five pounds.”

“And what about sickles and knuts?” asked Hadrian. “How much are they worth?”

“Well, one galleon contains seventeen sickles or four hundred ninety-three knuts. One sickle contains twenty-nine knuts.”

“So, galleon is the most valuable and knut is the least valuable?”

“Yes, Mr. Potter, galleons are made from gold, sickles from silver and Knuts from bronze.”

Hadrian nodded in understanding.

“Now, for that extra thing I wanted to ask,” said James, coming out of his thoughts. “It would seem that I have a striking resemblance to Hadrian’s biological father. I was wondering if my wife and I could also take one of these tests to see if there’s anything unusual or if it’s pure coincidence.”

“Most certainly, Mr. Porter, however, I will have to add two additional tests to your final receipt,” he smirked wickedly.

“That’s the least of my problems,” assured him James.

James and Vivian pricked their thumbs and let three drops of blood fall onto the parchment. The results showed nothing abnormal, they were both muggles, with no direct biological links to either James or Lily Potter.

“Well, there’s that doubt out of the way, however, I still want to know if there’s any possibility for me to stand in Hadrian’s place as Lord Potter and Lord Gryffindor until he turns seventeen.”

“As I said; if the candidate in question makes such an authorisation then, yes. However, I’m not sure how being a muggle would affect the situation.”

James turned to Hadrian. “What do you say son?

He shrugged. “I don’t mind.”

“And what exactly does being a Lord entail?” wondered Vivian.

“Aside from the prestige, they also gain access over any property and finances of the previous Lord and they also get seats in the Wizengamot, which would be Britain’s wizarding high court of law and parliament in one.”

The Porters’ eyes widened in wonder. “Hear that, Vivi?” breathed James. “I can be a member of the magical parliament and even act as some sort of jury member.”

She giggled at his boyish excitement. “We’ll see about that,” she teased him.

James turned to the goblin with a determined look. “I would like to try claiming the Lordships.”

Griphook obliged sceptically. He prepared the document for authorisation signed by Hadrian under Harry James Potter and presented them with the two rings. James put them on but nothing happened.

“Did it work?” he asked, confused. “Am I Lord Potter and Lord Gryffindor now?”

They repeated the test for James to see if there was any change, but there was nothing under titles, vaults and properties.

“Dammit,” he lamented. “I was looking forward to it.”

Hadrian and Vivian consoled him. “I know, darling, I know,” said Vivian soothingly.

“Well, you are Lord Potter-Gryffindor on paper only. For it to translate into real life, magic has to approve of the transaction,” explained Griphook.

“And how do I get magic to approve of me?” wanted to know James.

“The easiest solution would be to be blood-adopted by Mr. Potter; however, the ritual might be risky since you are a muggle.”

“What does blood-adoption even mean?” asked Vivian.

“It means that you will have to ingest a potion with Mr. Potter’s blood in it.” Their eyes widened in shock. “By drinking that potion, you will suffer a few external and internal changes. If you are lucky you might even gain a few … magic-related attributes,” smirked the goblin.

The Porters exchanged questioning looks.

“Should we do it, Vivi?”

“Father, if we do it like this I will technically become your parent instead, not the other way around,” Hadrian pointed out.

“And he said there were some risks involved in the ritual,” pointed out Vivian. “I think I would like to wait and think more about it, darling, before making any life-altering decisions.”

“Fine,” he relented. “We’ll think about the offer, Mr. Griphook.”

“As you wish. Will that be all?”

“We still require some magical money, but otherwise, that will be everything, yes.”

They concluded their business in the office and rode the roller coaster to Hadrian’s personal vault, paid for the services of the bank and gathered enough money for school supplies and a little something extra … for research.

They first went to Madam Malkin’s to get the uniforms for Hadrian and Hermione. While the children stood on the stools letting the seamstress take their measurements with a charmed measuring tape, James took the opportunity to tell Severus to accompany them back home, because he had a very important thing to discuss with him.

Severus was immediately wary of what James wanted to talk to him, but complied with the request … or rather demand.

After they made sure they had everything from the list and a few extra books to familiarise themselves with the concept and theory of magic, they walked to their cars and drove back home.

“Hadrian,” called Vivian hesitantly to her son, “now that you know your real name, how do you want to be called? Do you want us to call you Harry or Hadrian?”

“Why not both, or whichever you prefer?” he shrugged. “It might take me a while to get used to the name Harry Potter, but I don’t really mind either. However, I’ve always been Hadrian to you, so, it shouldn’t be any different now. I’m still Hadrian Porter, but I’m also Harry Potter.”

The rear-view mirror showed Vivian’s happy expression.

At home, Hadrian and Vivian went to unpack the supplies, while James went with Severus to his study.

“Sit,” he told him as soon as they entered. “I want to ask you something.”

Severus took a seat. “What would you like to know?”

“Why is Sirius Black in prison?”

Severus’ eyes widened ever so slightly, before he cleared his throat. “Allegedly, he is the supporter of Lord Voldemort,” he drawled. “He was also a very close friend of James Potter, Harry’s father, but in the end, he betrayed their hiding location to the Dark Lord, which led to their deaths. He also killed thirteen people.”

“Only thirteen?” He snorted. “Even I have killed more people than that. A shame he was caught and sentenced.” He sighed. “If he is as vicious as you make him sound, I think I could make use of him in my ranks.”

“Oh, believe me, Black is vicious and cruel to those he dislikes,” assured him Snape with a dark look. “Make no mistake about that.”

“You seem to talk from experience,” observed James shrewdly.

“Why do you want to know about him?”

“He’s Hadrian’s magical guardian, but because he’s imprisoned, he can’t take care of Hadrian’s legal affairs in the magical world, and if he isn’t freed and declared sane by September 1st, the title and power of Hadrian’s magical guardian go to Dumbledore … and I’ll have you know that I will not let that happen. Only over my dead body.”

A shiver ran down Severus’ spine at James’ look filled with pure hatred towards Albus.

“Which means that I have a convict to free, but I have no idea where he’s being kept or how I can even legally approach his liberation. That’s where you come into play.”

Severus tensed.

“I want you to accompany me and a few guards to where they are holding him, either to free him by force or find some legal venue to achieve it. However, bureaucracy is slow and since I don’t hold as much power in the wizarding world as here in the muggle one, I can’t speed up the process as much as I would have liked, that’s why I’m more inclined to storm the place and get him out that way. We’ll worry about legal stuff later.”

Chapter Text

Severus was baffled. “Are you mad? You can’t just storm Azkaban,” he exclaimed.

“I don’t see why not,” shrugged James nonchalantly.

“Because, aside from prisoners, there are no other humans there and the creatures that guard that place are invisible to muggles,” Severus pointed out impatiently, pinching the bridge of his nose. “So, tell me, how are you going to attack or defend yourself from something invisible?”

“With you,” he said as if it was obvious. Severus stared at him in shock. “You will be our eyes and ears, Severus, and since you are quite an accomplished wizard, I would assume you know exactly what works against those creatures, do you not?”

“I do, but you cannot seriously expect me to fend off at least a hundred dementors at once?”

“Why not? I thought we just established that you are a powerful and skilful wizard. I don’t understand why you wouldn’t be able to achieve such a feat. But, if you feel like you need help, just tell me how my men can help and we’ll do it.”

Severus gaped at him. For a moment, he was certain the man was joking, but when it became clear that he wasn’t, he was at a loss for words. “You can’t be serious.”

“Oh, I’m very serious about this,” he said with an unnerving glint in his brown eyes. “It’s my son’s future on the line. I’m willing to go against invisible creatures in any way I can. However, if you have a quick and easy alternative to freeing Sirius Black, then, by all means, out with it. Because the only other option I see at this point is murdering Dumbledore and hoping that whoever replaces him will be a better option. If not, I’ll keep murdering until I’m satisfied with the guardian for my son.”

“Then why don’t you file in a petition for guardian transfer and choose a guardian of your choice?” suggested Severus.

“You forget, Severus, that I am not familiar with any wizards aside from you and Dumbledore,” he reminded him. “Minerva McGonagall doesn’t count, because I’ve never met her in person.”

“Then write an urgent letter explaining the situation to Amelia Bones,” he offered. “She works at the Ministry as the Head of the Department of Magical Law and Enforcement. However, I must warn you that while efficient and just, she is also incorruptible and really despises crime and injustice, therefore I would tread carefully around her if I were you.”

“If Sirius is really guilty of what he’s accused of, then I don’t see how the woman would be willing to let him out of prison,” snapped James impatiently.

“You have a point,” agreed Severus.

James paced his study, deep in thought, trying to come up with a solution. He stopped after a while. “What about you, Severus?” he said, grinning. Severus felt horrified. “You are already going to tutor my son and his friend before Hogwarts; I don’t see why you couldn’t become my son’s guardian too.”

“Even if I wanted, the law might not be so quick to allow me such a role.”

James’ brow furrowed in confusion. “Why not? It’s not like you have a criminal history,” his eyes narrowed shrewdly, “… or do you?”

Severus remained collected. “I was a Death Eater, I’m still marked,” he admitted. “I joined Lord Voldemort after graduating at seventeen.”

James’ eyes widened. “Then, how are you free and Sirius is in jail?”

“Because the headmaster interceded on my part before the Wizengamot.” He wasn’t sure if he should reveal turning spy at the end, because his childhood friend became the target, or not. It’s not like it made that much of a difference, did it? “I turned spy for Dumbledore towards the end of the war, because the Dark Lord targeted my childhood friend and I wanted to protect her.”

James nodded. “I see. So, to protect her, you went to Dumbledore, who was the leader of the opposition, right?”

“Exactly. However, he wouldn’t do it for free, he wanted something in return, so I offered my services as a spy and reported about what went on in the meetings, the raids and such.”

James had a pensive look on his face. “Are you still loyal to Dumbledore? Will you report back to him about what I discuss with you?”

Severus felt a knot in his throat. “He is my boss,” he drawled, “so, I have to report to him as a teacher, but also about anything related to the Dark Lord.” He paused for a bit. “… I might have to report on my interactions with you as well. In fact, he’s already asked me to keep an eye on you and Hadrian after what you did to him.”

“He deserved it,” shrugged James, showing no remorse whatsoever for his actions. “Because if he hadn’t run his mouth and practically threatened me with taking Hadrian away from us, I wouldn’t have done what I did. If he thinks he can come to my house and do shit like that and still expect me not to go berserk on him, he’s sorely mistaken. If anything, he should be happy I didn’t kill him on the spot, because you can be sure I would have done it without any sort of hesitation.”

Severus’ eyes widened. “I didn’t know he said that to you in person.”

He snorted. “Why, he didn’t tell you why he ended up with two bullets in his body?”

“He only said that I am to keep an eye on you, because you are dangerous and a bad influence for Harry Potter. Nothing else.”

“Well, now you know what got him injured,” deadpanned James, “and I sincerely hope you don’t intend to talk more than you should to him about what happens in this house, because just like I have no qualms over killing him, I certainly won’t have qualms over killing you.”

“You wouldn’t kill me, because I’m useful to you,” he countered, with a smirk of his own to mask his nerves.

“True, you’re the one with the knowledge about the wizarding world and you’re supplying me with that knowledge, but I can always find someone else,” he smirked viciously.

“You don’t know anyone aside from me and Dumbledore personally, you said so yourself,” insisted Severus, hoping his arguments were strong enough to save his hide. “And I doubt Minerva and Amelia would side with you if they ever learnt you are a criminal yourself.”

James’ smirk widened and his eyes glittered. He even let out a blood-chilling laughter. “I’m sure that for enough money I can get goblins to do anything I asked them to do,” he retorted. “After all they know a lot about wizarding law, traditions and customs.”

“Or I could just obliviate you and erase the way to Diagon Alley so you won’t be able to contact them,” snarled Severus.

James stood in front of him and captured him in the chair with both of his arms on the armrests, looming over him.

“Or I could just shoot you and then keep you in a coma for an undetermined amount of time while I perform all the experiments I want to understand your kind.” His voice was soft, but his eyes and smile looked crazed.

Severus’ stomach churned.

“What do you say, Severus?” he prompted him, still looking like a mad scientist. “Would you like to try and see who’s faster in incapacitating the opponent? Not to brag, but my reflexes are out of this world and my aim is on point.”

“Not to brag, but my reflexes are excellent as well and at this distance it’s difficult to miss.”

James’ eyes bore into him, something akin to amusement dancing in them, until he straightened up and burst into a rugged laughter. “I knew there was a reason I liked you,” he said once he had calmed enough to form coherent words. “I like your attitude, though, I’m sure that if you were anyone else, I wouldn’t appreciate it as much as I do.”

He didn’t know how to answer that, so he kept his mouth shut and a neutral face, because there was nothing remotely amusing about being threatened.

“All jokes aside, I don’t mind you telling Dumbledore about our family interaction, Hadrian’s behaviour and personality, and whether you see him handling guns or not. Go ahead and tell him, it’s not like he will learn anything new. Anything else is off limits.” He warned him without a single trace of amusement in his voice. “Which means, no mentions of me and my family researching magic, no mentions of our family business, in fact, don’t even mention anything about what we talk unless it’s related to my son’s education. If he asks why you spend so much time here, you tell him that you are tutoring Hadrian and Hermione so they will be ready for Hogwarts, and you won’t be even lying about it … for the most part.”

“You don’t have to be concerned about me,” he assured him. “I know how to be discreet and silent.”

“Swear on it,” demanded James. “Swear on your magic or whatnot that you will never divulge information I have prohibited you from speaking aloud and to unauthorised people. I’m not gullible and trusting enough to simply believe the word of a spy.”

Nodding, he put his hand on the chest and inhaled. “I solemnly swear not to divulge business, scientific, and other delicate information given to me by James Porter to anyone without James Porter’s prior consent, so mote it be.”

A subtle glow enveloped the potions master.

“Does that mean it is done?”

“Yes.”

“Alright, then let’s start with the operation: Free Sirius Black with whatever means necessary,” he announced with wicked glee.

Severus let out a breath, closed his eyes and thought, ‘Merlin, please, help me.’

Under the guise of tutoring Hadrian and Hermione at the Porters’ mansion seven days a week for four hours, Severus became a regular visitor at the Porter Manor, and while he indeed started tutoring the kids, more often than not he had meetings with James and Vivian, which usually revolved around liberating his tormentor Sirius Black.

Even after explaining to James what Dementors were exactly and how one could defend themselves against them, James still thought it would be a good idea simply to walk through Azkaban’s front door laughing at the top of his lungs, cracking up jokes and playing annoyingly happy muggle songs loud enough to make the Dementors go away.

Luckily, after a lot of back and forth, and muggle lawyer’s additional input, they decided to go the legal route. It was by no means the easiest or the fastest route, but with luck and good negotiation skills on their side, they could get Sirius out of Azkaban regardless of the man’s guilt or innocence before September.

Their first step was to write a letter to Amelia Bones, explaining a few things.

Dear Ms. Bones,

My name is James Porter and my wife and I have recently learnt that our adoptive son Hadrian Porter (though it would appear that his biological name is Harry James Potter) is a wizard. Imagine our shock and surprise. A Hogwarts staff member was kind enough to explain a few things to us.

When we went shopping for his school supplies, we inevitably stopped at the Bank of Gringotts to exchange muggle money for wizard money. Given that, at the time of us adopting Harry, we didn’t know anything about him, not even his name and birthday, we decided to take one of those Inheritance Tests that one can take to see their biographical information and apart from learning about his real name, birthday, and his parents, we also learnt about Hadrian’s magical guardian Sirius Black.

The goblin in charge of helping us, explained that because of Hadrian’s status as a wizard, and his magical education, he is bound by the wizarding law and thus needs a magical guardian to answer legally for him, until he reaches wizarding majority. However, given that Hadrian’s current magical guardian is incarcerated, he can’t act as Hadrian’s legal magical representative. We were informed that the role would be passed on to the headmaster of Hogwarts, however; we would like to avoid the transfer if possible.

I am aware that what I am about to ask you might seem strange, but we would like to learn about Black’s legal situation, if it’s not too much to ask, of course. Therefore, if you could let us look at the official documentation to understand of what exactly he is accused, it would be greatly appreciated.

With kind regards,

James Porter

A day later, a response letter arrived, inviting them to a meeting with her at the Ministry. Ms Bones would personally meet them near the Leaky Cauldron and escort them to the Ministry, where they would have to sign a secrecy agreement not to share the location of the Ministry to other non-magical people.

“Mr. Porter?”

James, Vivian and Hadrian turned towards the source of the voice. “Yes, that’s me,” he answered to a formally dressed, middle-aged looking woman with a stern face. “And you must be Ms. Bones.”

They shook hands.

“Indeed, I am.” She looked at Vivian and Hadrian. “You two must be Mr. Porter’s wife and Hadrian.”

“My wife Vivian,” introduced James, hugging his wife’s shoulders, “and our son Hadrian, also known as Harry,” he placed a hand on Hadrian’s shoulder.

“Pleasure to meet you,” she answered politely, shaking hands with both Vivian and Hadrian. “Though forgive me if I’m being rude, but you look very similar to James and Lily Potter, who were Harry’s biological parents. Are you somehow related to them?”

“None of the sort,” chuckled James.

“Though we noticed people giving us strange looks when we were shopping at Diagon Alley,” said Vivian gently. “So that’s why they looked like they were seeing ghosts.”

“The newspapers had a field trip a few days ago with reporting about the dead Potters not being so dead after all,” said Amelia disapprovingly. “Luckily today they reported on something else and far more important than just mere gossip.”

“Did something happen?” asked James, intrigued.

“Someone apparently tried to steal from Gringotts yesterday,” she said. “Luckily, nothing was taken, but someone breaking into Gringotts is a sign of worry among us, since it’s supposed to be the most protected and well-guarded building together with the Ministry, Azkaban and Hogwarts.”

“Do they know who the culprit is or what they were trying to steal?” inquired Vivian, concerned.

“I’m afraid not, but the investigation is still happening. My team of Aurors is looking into the situation together with the goblins. As for what they wanted to steal, that’s confidential information, so I cannot speak about it.”

“Understandable.”

“Should we be on our way?”

“Lead the way, Miss,” gestured James with a polite smile.

Once in her office, she had them sign the agreement.

“Now that that formality is out of the way, let us move onto what we came here to do.”

She walked to a cabinet, unlocked it, pulled out a folder of papers and joined them at the desk.

“This is all the documentation we have on Sirius Black.” She handed the dusty papers to James. “Surprisingly, it’s not much, but it’s an old and pretty-straightforward case and no one has touched it ever since the man was declared guilty and shipped off to Azkaban.”

All three of them started looking through the papers. “Would it be possible to get a copy of the documentation so we might study it in detail at home?”

“Most certainly, sir. However, any magical copies of the official documentation will disappear automatically twenty-four hours after they have been created, so I would suggest you study it in depth while you can.”

They skimmed over his photo and biographical data, the photo of a severed finger labelled as Peter Pettigrew’s finger, a few-sentence long recount of the events as witnessed by fifty eyewitnesses, and focussed on the crimes, the evidence and court proceedings.

It surprised them to see that biographical data had more details and information than the other three categories combined. The most in-depth category was crimes, which consisted of Sirius being responsible for killing thirteen people (nothing new), being a Death Eater (nothing new) and betraying the hiding location of Harry’s parents to Lord Voldemort (again, nothing new). As for evidence, they listed Sirius’ presence at the scene of the crime and his behaviour at the time of his arrest (maniacal laughter and other similar deranged behaviour) together with over fifty witness statements about Pettigrew accusing Sirius of betraying the Potters and Black pursuing him with the intent to kill and the finger that belong to Pettigrew. In regards to court proceedings, there was no trial at all. There was just a quick line about the accused being a danger to society and imprisoning him in Azkaban for life to protect the magical and non-magical citizens of Britain.

The entire investigation process and case were concluded in less than twenty-four hours.

“Ms. Bones,” said James, confused. “I have a question.”

“What is it?”

He picked up the paper with the case information and held it up to her, displaying only half a page of actual text. “Not to sound rude, but how is half a page’s worth of notes enough documentation for any criminal case? Or the fact that Sirius Black apparently didn’t even get a trial or that there was no in-depth investigation into his guilt or innocence?”

Amelia looked bewildered. She took the paper into her hands to inspect it.

“I’m no lawyer, or police officer, but I’m pretty sure that the UK’s legal system operates on the premise innocent until proven guilty, unless you wizards operate on the opposite assumption guilty until proven innocent, and even then, how is this evidence enough to prove someone’s guilt? For all you know, this is just circumstantial evidence and instead of investigating further, you just drew conclusions based on this superficial and unreliable evidence to convict a man that could very well be completely innocent. Have you even questioned him once he calmed down to explain himself?”

“I-I don’t know what to say, Mr. Porter,” admitted Amelia, lost for words. “I can only say that at the time, I wasn’t the head of the Department and after I took over I never went through old prisoner documentation, assuming my predecessor had everything properly documented.”

“Well, now that you know that this case is far from straightforward and clear-cut, I hope you will do everything in your power to investigate the situation further.”

“You can be sure of that, Mr. Porter. If Sirius Black could indeed be innocent, then I will do everything I can to release him.”

“Would it be possible for us to meet Sirius Black in person somehow before you organise a trial for him and, if possible, could my lawyer become his representative in the case?”

“I will see what I can do about the visit,” said Amelia Bones, “however; I don’t know if a non-magical would be fit to defend someone magical without knowledge of the Magical Law.”

“Then, perhaps a magical lawyer,” suggested Vivian.

“We don’t have those.”

“I beg your pardon?” said James baffled, thinking he must have misheard the woman.

“What do you mean you don’t have magical lawyers?” interjected Vivian.

“The accused are responsible to build their own case to prove their innocence, which includes gathering eye-witnesses.”

All three stared at her in shock.

“Then, please, let my lawyer take care of this,” he practically begged. “I am sure that if you supply us with the complete set of magical legal codes, my lawyer will make sure to inform and prepare himself for the case,” said James politely, smiling.

“Then, in that case, he would need to sign a secrecy agreement as well, since as a non-magical, he would gain access and knowledge to the magical community.”

“No problem. He will sign whatever document you need him to sign,” he assured her. “Just, please, let us defend Sirius Black legally, because he needs a good lawyer,” he pleaded with his hands pressed together in a prayer.

With a copy of the magical legal code and Sirius’ documentation, James immediately called Angus to explain the situation to him. Once at home, they had everything scanned and saved in Lucky’s database.

While they waited to receive news from Amelia about visits to Sirius or his trial, James, Vivian, Hadrian and Angus poured over the papers to build a good defence case, but without an official statement from Sirius, they couldn’t do much more than discredit and manipulate the evidence they had to their advantage as much as possible.

Three days after their meeting with Amelia, they received a letter from her informing them that a visit with Sirius Black was authorised by the Ministry and that it would take place in her office, two days from the day of writing the letter, at the same time as their meeting. She also required the presence of the legal representative for Sirius, so he could sign the secrecy agreement.

Sirius huddled in the darkest corner of his cell in his animagus form, trying his best to retain his sanity, clinging and obsessing over his innocence, while also trying to keep fleas at bay. He had been successful thus far, but with no escape route, he couldn’t do much to prove Peter was still alive, because the bloody coward transformed into his animagus form and went down the sewers and could have easily left the country and acted as someone’s pet, and that it was Peter who betrayed James and Lily, not him.

It was supposed to be a regular day at the prison, dementors delivering food, feeding off the prisoners a bit, then leaving them alone until the next meal. However, something was off that day. A pair of dementors appeared in his cell, speaking directly inside his head with a hollow and unearthly whisper.

“Come, Black, you are wanted at the Ministry.”

He immediately changed into his human form. “What’s going on?”

They grabbed him and started escorting him out of the cell and the fortress. “Apparently someone wants to prove your innocence,” said one of the dementors.

“They want to put you on trial,” said the other.

Sirius couldn’t think of anyone who would want to help him get out of Azkaban. James was dead, Peter framed him, Remus vanished into thin air it would seem, and everyone else believed him guilty, crazy and the worst kind of filth that ever roamed the Earth.

“Do you know who is trying to prove I’m innocent?” he asked, tentatively.

“No. We only received orders from Amelia Bones to get you to the Ministry.”

They placed him in a boat and began pushing it across the frozen strip of sea. Sirius tried to counter the Dementor effects by focussing on the mysterious person who wanted to free him from Azkaban. Maybe it was Remus. Maybe he found Peter and let the Ministry know about him. Maybe it was Dumbledore. Surely, he must have known that he would never betray James to anyone, much less to Voldemort. They were like brothers in all but blood. They would have rather died then to endanger the other in any way.

At the Ministry, two Aurors took over and escorted him to the office.

Curiosity and nerves mixed in his stomach and chest creating a strange and uncomfortable sensation that felt like he needed to go to the toilet either to have a dump or to vomit, or both. He could feel blood rushing in his ears; he could hear heart palpitations. He felt light-headed, as if his lungs were slowly collapsing and he couldn’t breathe properly. The walk towards the office felt eternal and, in a way, worse than when they sentenced him to Azkaban and the Dementors escorted him to the fortress.

He wasn’t sure what to expect, yet he would have never imagined what occurred next.

As the door opened and he crossed the threshold, he took in the people that were gathered in the room. There were five people altogether, but three people rooted him to the spot and anything else lost its importance. There, before him, stood his friend James with Lily and Harry, well and alive.

His throat closed up and his eyes filled with tears as he fell to his knees. “James?” His voice was a strained whisper. “Lily?” His blurry vision encompassed her and his godson. “Harry?”

They didn’t say anything, but Lily looked like she was fighting off tears as well and Harry looked saddened for some reason. James approached him, a melancholic smile on his lips, and knelt before him. His hands automatically reached for his face to see if he was an illusion or real. When his fingers made contact with his skin, he was very much convinced all of it was real. Although, he didn’t understand why he wasn’t wearing his iconic glasses. Did he get his eyesight fixed somehow?

James covered his dirty hands with his clean ones and greeted him with, “You have to do something about the way you look, Sirius, because you look and smell like shit.”

He erupted into hysterical laughter that quickly dissolved into ugly sobbing, tears spilling over and snot coming out of his nose. He pulled James into a fierce hug. He returned it.  

After a good minute of crying and clinging onto his not-so-dead friend, he managed to calm down enough to form coherent words.

“How?” he choked, not comprehending how James and Lily could have survived. “How – are you and Lily alive? I saw you – lying – dead. I tried – waking you – but you didn’t move.” He hiccoughed. “And what – happened to your glasses? Did – Voldemort somehow correct your eyesight when he attacked you or what?”

“Sh, easy, Sirius. Easy,” said James soothingly, holding the sides of his face. He focussed on him. “I need you to listen to me, okay?”

He nodded.

“I’m not the James you know.” He was confused. “The James you know … is dead.”

“Don’t bullshit me, James.” He felt agitated for some reason. Why was James saying shit like that?

“I’m not bullshitting you, Sirius,” said James softly, but sternly. “I am indeed James, but I’m not James Potter. I’m James Porter. I know I look like your best friend, but I’m not him or his twin. I’m just his lookalike.”

All air left him as the words registered in his mind and he felt like someone had pierced him and left behind a giant gaping hole where his stomach and heart were.

His dull eyes looked at the two people behind James. “I assume she’s also not Lily.” His voice sounded hollow, dull, and lifeless, just like how he felt on the inside.

“No, she isn’t, but she is my wife and her name is Vivian. I tend to call her Vivi though,” said James with a smirk, trying to lift up his spirits. He succeeded … partially.

He let out a slightly amused huff. “Vivi, Lily, also quite close, wouldn’t you say? Plus the hair and eyes.”

James chuckled. “Yeah, a very strange coincidence.”

“And my godson?”

“Your godson?” repeated James, confused.

“Harry Potter,” he said melancholically. “He’s my godson. Is that boy over there my godson or just a lookalike like you and your wife?”

The boy approached them with confident steps and kneeled next to them. He circled his shoulders and smiled brightly. “It’s me, Sirius. I’m Harry Potter, your godson; though I’m more used to being called Hadrian Porter, but you can call me Harry if it’s easier.”

He felt like crying again. He pulled Harry into a hug. “Look at you,” he breathed, his eyes prickling with tears again. “All grown up and ready for Hogwarts.”

Harry giggled, only to groan a moment later. “I’m really happy to finally meet you, Sirius, but my father is right, you smell like shit.”

He let him go, laughing. James and Harry helped him get to his feet and into a seat. Vivian shook hands with him and greeted him with a smile on her face. “It’s nice to finally meet you.”

“Alright,” he heard a stern female voice, “now that the greetings are done and everyone has calmed down a bit, it would be wonderful if we could proceed with what we came here to do, otherwise, we’ll be here until tomorrow morning.”

He finally looked who the other two people in the office were and faintly recognised Amelia Bones, but the other man, who was suited up much like James, was a complete stranger to him. The man shook hands with him as well.

“Mr. Black,” he said with a Scottish accent, “my name is Angus Ferguson and I will be in charge of your defence.”

He gaped at him, not knowing what to think. “Thank you,” he breathed, after he got over his shock at having someone defending him in a court. He turned to James. “So, you’re the ones trying to get me out of prison?”

He smiled roguishly at him, just like his friend James grinned whenever they were about to do a prank. “Isn’t it obvious? You’re our son’s magical guardian and godfather, there’s no way I’m letting Dumbledore get power over him.”

“Dumbledore?”

“Apparently, because you’re incarcerated and you can’t legally represent Hadrian as a magical guardian, the headmaster of the magical school gets the guardianship once Hadrian starts attending school in September,” said James coldly. “And let’s just say that … Dumbledore and I had a very bad disagreement over Hadrian due to our differences in opinion and I’m not inclined to having him as my son’s magical guardian.”

There was something ominous and dangerous lurking behind James’ words and tight smile.

“When Mr. Porter and his wife and son came to see me a few days ago to look into your criminal file,” his attention snapped back to Amelia Bones, “he pointed out the fact that your case is severely under-investigated and that you apparently haven’t been given a trial at all. He has also insisted on having his lawyer help you.”

“So … I will finally get a trial?” He felt hopeful, but didn’t dare grow too hopeful, because as things were now, he didn’t have much chance of being acquitted.

“I am still working on it, but Mr. Porter and his lawyer would first like to speak with you about the case and your side of things in private, that’s why you have been brought here from Azkaban,” she said in her strict tone. “Now, I will leave you to your business. You have 45 minutes to discuss everything, and then we’ll see what to do with you.”

She left them alone in a locked office with two guards stationed just outside the door.

“Okay,” whispered James, sitting beside him, glancing warily at the office door. “We have to move fast. We have studied your file and while we can argue that the evidence presented is circumstantial and unreliable, we need your statement about the events that happened that night.”

He nodded.

“None of us here present particularly cares if you committed the crimes you’re accused of or not,” said James. “The only thing we ask of you is that you are honest with us, so we know what to do to free you, because we will get you out, you can be sure of that.” He clasped his hands on his shoulders reassuringly.

A knot formed in his throat and his eyes started prickling again. He was feeling emotional and he wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was because a group of complete strangers was willing to do anything to set him free regardless of his guilt or innocence, when nobody else who knew him personally had ever even given him the chance to prove his innocence or believed in his word alone.

“I will tell you everything you want to know as it happened.”

James smiled at him and Harry rubbed his back soothingly.

“Okay,” he said and signalled to Angus to give him something. The lawyer pulled out a piece of paper and gave it to James. “We’ll go through the things you supposedly committed and the evidence and then you’ll fill in the blanks. Is that okay with you?”

He nodded.

“Murder of Peter Pettigrew and twelve other people. Guilty or innocent?”

“Innocent.”

“Working for Voldemort. True or false?”

“False.”

“Betraying the Potters to Voldemort. True or false?”

“False.”

Angus was taking notes of his answers.

“Okay … moving onto the evidence. Pettigrew’s finger. Apparently, they only found a finger but no body.”

He sneered. “That’s because the damned coward cut it off himself, then transformed into a rat and went down the sewers.”

They all exchanged questioning looks with one another.

“Pettigrew can shapeshift?” asked James shrewdly.

“He’s an animagus, like me, but the Ministry doesn’t know that, because we never registered.”

“And would his animal form reflect the missing finger?” asked Harry.

“I suppose it would.”

“And would you happen to know where he could be hiding?” asked Vivian.

“No,” he sighed. “He could be hiding disguised as someone’s pet somewhere in the country or he could even be in another country altogether.”

“We’ll worry about finding him later,” said James. “Or we will just have to do without him as evidence. It’s not like we need him to win the case. Next evidence. There are apparently eyewitness reports saying they heard Pettigrew accusing you of betraying the Potters and you pursuing him with the intent to kill.”

“True. When I discovered the bodies, I also saw Peter there. It was then, that I knew he betrayed them, because the only one with the information to their hiding location was Peter. I confronted him, threatened to kill him, he ran, I pursued him until I cornered him in a crowded street and suddenly he started shouting that I’m the one who betrayed and killed Lily and James Potter,” he snarled, pointing a finger at himself, shaking with rage. “Then, he took out his wand, created an explosion that killed twelve people, cut off his own finger to fake his death and just left.”

“That’s when you started laughing,” prompted James.

He huffed while his lips curled into a self-deprecating smile. “Yeah. I don’t know why I started laughing, when nothing about the situation was funny.”

“Mr. Black,” intervened Angus, “I can assure you that you are not the only person to have such a reaction to a traumatic event. In fact, it is a quite common psychological reaction when one may find oneself in a situation that seems absurd, surreal, and hard to believe and comprehend. If I were to take a guess about your feelings in that moment, I would say you were in a state of shock, not quite believing something of that magnitude just occurred, so it almost felt like an outer body experience. As a result, you started laughing in order to have some semblance of control over the situation and to protect yourself unconsciously from the overwhelming shock and anxiety caused by the events that transpired that night.”

Sirius stared at the lawyer. “Yeah … something like that.” He nodded numbly, agreeing with the explanation; even if he wasn’t entirely sure, he understood most of it. The man just spoke so eloquently that he wasn’t used to it.

James turned to Angus. “So, Angus, what do you say? Do we have enough to win the case without presenting Pettigrew?”

“I think we have this one in the bag, boss,” he smirked. “With Mr. Black’s statement about how things transpired, we have a way to counter all the evidence. I would only need a day or two extra at most to look into some psychological articles that would help us support our argument against laughter as condemning evidence.”

“Good,” nodded James. “Though I think that Truth Serum shouldn’t be discarded as a way to establish the truthfulness of Sirius’ statements.”

“I will request additional questioning under Truth Serum then.”

“Truth Serum?” Sirius was confused. “Are you talking about Veritaserum?”

“Yes. However, since Veritas means truth in Latin, I suppose the common version of the name would be Truth Serum.”

“Oh, right.” He felt a little stupid.

The sound of door unlocking ended their conversation.

“I hope you managed to talk about everything in detail,” said Amelia upon entering the office.

“We have,” returned James politely, his back straight and hands clasped behind his back.

“Well, I also have news about Mr. Black’s trial. I have managed to secure a hearing two days from now.”

“Excellent,” retorted James, satisfied.

“Will you have enough time to prepare for it?"

“Oh, more than enough.”

Sirius couldn’t believe it. He could be a free man two days from now. How was this even happening and so fast too? He felt overwhelmed; his head hurt, he was hungry, thirsty, tired and the surrealness of the entire sequence of events of that day made him want to laugh like a maniac again.

As Sirius sat in the backseat of a muggle car together with his godson and his lawyer, he still struggled to comprehend how exactly James was able to convince Amelia Bones into letting him spend the days before his trial at the Porter Manor. He vaguely remembered something to do with his hygiene and needing a shower, because he couldn’t present himself as he was now in front of a judge.

When they arrived at the said manor, Sirius gaped at it. Well, he mostly gaped horrified at all the black-cladded security guards armed with muggle firearms that were swarming the mansion.

“You never know when someone might try stealing something of value, killing one of us or kidnapping Hadrian,” told him James, when he noticed his apprehensive stare. “Don’t worry; these guards won’t be keeping you locked inside, though I need you to promise me you won’t leave the manor until you have been acquitted. I did promise Ms. Bones you will not flee as part of letting you sleep comfortably with access to basic hygiene and all the food and drink you want.”

Speechless, he nodded.

“Great,” grinned James. “Come.” He followed. “Just wait until you see the inside. You will love your room.”

The interior was indeed magnificent, elegant, pristine clean, so much so that he felt terribly out of place and afraid that he would ruin everything with his dirty, oily and messy self. There was a woman, who wasn’t really a person apparently, named Happy, waiting for them at the entrance.

She curtsied gracefully and greeted them with, “Welcome back, Master, Mistress, and Young Master Hadrian. Good evening to you, Mr. Black.”

“Good evening to you too,” he greeted back, bowing awkwardly.

“Greetings from me as well, Mr. Black,” greeted the disembodied voice of Lucky. Even though James told him about it, it still startled him.

“Thank you … uh, Lucky, was it?”

“That is correct, sir.”

“Should I show Mr. Black his room first or would you like to eat first?” asked Happy.

“I think that a bath, a good mouth wash and a fresh set of clothes should come first.” James turned to Sirius. “Unless, of course, you would like to eat and drink first or even use the toilet.”

“I don’t want to dirty your house, so I think I should clean myself up first,” answer Sirius.

“Then, if you would please follow me,” said Happy melodiously.

After a long, refreshing and fragranced bubble bath, improving the smell of his breath and the state of his hair, and putting on fresh clothes, Sirius felt like a reborn man. He joined the Porters for the most exquisite meal he had had in a decade, however, he had to be careful not to ingest too much too fast, because otherwise, he would end up with a terrible stomachache.

“If you need anything, feel free to ask Happy, Lucky or any of us for it,” said James at the end of the meal.

Sirius nodded.

His godson enthusiastically dragged him to his room. “I want to show you something,” he said eagerly. Sirius couldn’t help but smile.

When they entered, Sirius had to pause for a moment and take in the sheer size of Harry’s – Hadrian’s – room. Beside the bed, he had a large desk, an entire wall of bookshelves overflowing with bulky scientific books and another table where he had some sort of machinery.

Aside from the size and the nature of things he had in the room, what ended up catching Sirius’ attention were five fluffy animals that had bird legs, but no wings, and that made different animal sounds.

“What kind of animals are those?”

Hadrian laughed. “They aren’t animals exactly. They are robots, each with a different function. I made them.” There was pride in his godson’s voice and expression as the robots crowded on his head and shoulders.

A melancholic smile graced Sirius’ face as he remembered that he had missed so much of his godson’s life. “I’m not exactly sure I know what robots are.”

“Here, let me tell you about my babies.”

They sat on his bed and Hadrian started talking about Muffin, Buttercream, Toffee, Biscuit, and Pompom. In the middle of his explanation, Pompom and Biscuit sat on each of Sirius’ shoulders and snuggled into his neck.

After talking about robots, Sirius asked him about other things as well, his life with James and Vivian as his parents, school, hobbies and quickly realised that while the people who adopted his godson adored Hadrian and let him discover his potential by encouraging and enabling his interests in muggle science, they were also very dangerous. They were criminals of the muggle world who dealt in illegal production and distribution of firearms and dangerous biochemical weapons that could endanger hundreds of thousands of lives, if not millions, and conducted secret genetic experiments.

He felt his heart stop when Hadrian showed him a collection of his own personal guns.

“Some of them are for paintball,” he said casually. “If you want, I can show you how to play it and we can try playing a few rounds for fun, I will invite Hermione to join us as well, now that we have won another paintball championship we can be more relaxed about it, but most of these guns are for self-defence.”

“I see.” He didn’t know what else to say.

Besides handling firearms and being a genius like James and Vivian Porter, his godson was apparently also proficient in myriad of martial arts, which were different hand-to-hand muggle fighting styles and techniques. He burst into laughter when he told him about the time a group of adult men tried to kidnap him and how he took care of them singlehandedly, and all the times he outsmarted his professors in class, and he felt proud of him as he was sure James and Lily would have been proud of him as well.

He ruffled his hair, smiling from ear to ear. “That’s amazing, pup,” he praised.

“Pup?” he repeated, confused.

“That’s what I used to call you whenever I visited you and your parents when you were a baby,” Sirius explained.

“But why?”

“You know how I mentioned that Peter and I could transform into an animal, but we never registered at the Ministry?”

His godson nodded.

“Well, when your father, Peter, Remus – he’s another friend – and I were at school, we became animagi illegally. Peter can transform into a rat, I can transform into a dog, Remus … he … uh, he’s a special case and your father was able to transform into a stag, and almost each of us had a different nickname for you. Your father called you Prongslet, because he’s nickname was Prongs, Remus called you cub, I called you pup and your mother liked to call you Bambi.”

Hadrian smiled melancholically at his godfather. “That sounds really nice. Unfortunately, I don’t remember any of it. I don’t remember you or my biological parents.”

Sirius mirrored Hadrian’s expression. “I didn’t expect you to, and you were lucky to be adopted by James and Vivian Porter.”

“Yeah,” he let out a breathy chuckle, “There was a lot of luck and coincidence involved, but I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m really happy as I am right now, Sirius.”

“I can see that,” A happy smile graced his lips. “Say, may I speak with your father?”

“Of course,” he nodded.

“Do you know where I can find him?”

“He should be either in his lab or study.”

“If you are looking for your father, Young Master Hadrian, then you and your godfather will be able to find him in his study.” The disembodied voice spoke suddenly and startled Sirius.

“Thank you, Lucky,” said Hadrian happily, while Sirius had a hand pressed to his chest, where his heart was pounding frantically.

“And where exactly is the study?”

“Here, let me show you.” He took his hand and pulled him along.

Hadrian didn’t even bother knocking and simply walked into his father’s study with Sirius behind him. James was already expecting them.

“Okay,” breathed Hadrian. “Now that I’ve escorted you to your destination, I will leave you two to talk in private and join my mother. I’ll see you later, Sirius,” Hadrian waved happily at Sirius and left, closing the door.

To break the silence that had settled between them, James offered him a seat.  

“You wish to speak with me?” he prompted with a smile.

“Uh, yeah,” Sirius said awkwardly, not exactly sure how the man knew about that. “I wanted to thank you properly for everything that you are doing to help me. I really appreciate it.” James accepted his gratitude with a nod. “However,” continued Sirius carefully, “I also have a feeling that … you expect something in return.”

James’ smile turned dangerous. “You are right, Sirius.” He leaned forward, intertwining his fingers. “I’m not doing this for free or because I’m a charitable and good person. As you’ve surely noticed by now, our family isn’t exactly … good per se.”

There was uncertainty in Sirius’ features, not comprehending how the man knew about what he talked in private with his godson. James, noticing this, let out a cruel chuckle.

“I heard what Hadrian told you about our family business,” he explained. “You see, I hear and see everything that happens in this house, because Lucky also sees and hears everything. Now, back to what I was saying, in exchange for your freedom, I want you to do a few things for me.”

Sirius swallowed hard. Seeing his anxious expression James let out a wicked chuckle that froze Sirius’ blood. “And what would you have me do?” he inquired nervously.

“Nothing terrible I would think,” he assured him. Sirius remained sceptical. “Don’t worry,” James chuckled good-naturedly, “I won’t ask you to kill people or anything of the sort, but I do want you to work for me, get some basic fighting and armed training, and familiarise yourself with how we operate. After all, since you are my son’s godfather it is only natural that you also form part of our family and business, wouldn’t you agree?”

Sirius blinked, taken by surprise. He wasn’t entirely sure if that’s how things worked, but he agreed numbly nonetheless.

“Of course, you will have to keep quiet about the whole thing as to not compromise the family and the business side of things, but most importantly …” He paused for dramatic effect. His lips spread into a sadistic grin and his eyes glinted ominously. “I want you to be my magical test subject.”

Chapter Text

Sirius swallowed hard. “And … what exactly does that mean?” he inquired cautiously, because the way James said it made it sound like something painful.

“When we found out that Hadrian is a wizard and that magic exists, we decided to research magic,” said James. “Severus Snape was kind enough to provide a varied but limited demonstration of spells for us to research and while we had to put things on hold for your trial, we have managed to analyse the components and the configurations of certain spells in order to replicate them, but what interests us as well is what makes wizard a wizard.”

“And … How exactly are you going to find that out?” he asked nervously.

“By sequencing your DNA,” he replied. “I want a clear picture of your entire genome; of all the gene sequences and compare them to a normal human’s genome.”

Sirius didn’t really know what James was talking about, he just hoped it wasn’t painful. “Is it painful?”

James chuckled good-naturedly. “Well, I wouldn’t say painful, but it can be uncomfortable collecting certain DNA samples. We will stick to the most common ones, which are liquid saliva, blood and plucked head hair, but if we wanted to be extra, then we would also go for fingernail clippings, skin cells, liquid semen and urine, rectal and penile swabs.”

Sirius’ hands immediately went to his crotch to protect it. “I don’t mind providing most of the things you said, but I’m not letting you get near my dick and ass. They are off limits, okay?” he said defensively.

James laughed heartily. “Like I said, we will stick to the standard DNA sample collection, so blood, liquid saliva and plucked hair, so don’t worry about your dick and ass. They are safe,” he assured him.

He still eyed him warily, but some of the tension left Sirius’ body at the reassurance. “What will you do once you have my … whatever it’s called?”

“DNA,” supplied James helpfully.

“That, yes.”

James’ lips spread in a wicked and enigmatic smirk. “That, my dear Sirius, is a surprise,” he said, “… for now. I will let you know of my plans with the wizard genome once I have successfully managed to determine what it is that allows wizards to manipulate energy and matter in the way that they do.”

“Okay,” he nodded. “When do you want me to provide my DNA samples?”

“After the trial. Right now, I want us to focus on getting you acquitted and then, after that’s taken care of, we’re going to focus again on magic research, where your DNA will be required along with a few others. Say … do you have a wand on you right now?”

“Uh, no. They snapped it after they convicted me.”

“Well, the first thing we’ll do after proving your innocence is go buy you a new wand, because I want to record as many spells as you know for future research.” A thoughtful expression settled on his face. “Now that I’m thinking about it, I should probably also monitor your brain activity while you’re doing magic. It might tell us if there is a specific area involved while casting and maybe looking at the components of your blood and hormone levels would be good as well.”

Sirius had no clue what was going on. “Look, as long as there’s no pain involved I don’t mind participating in whatever experiment you want to conduct,” he told him.

“Not to worry,” assured him James. “I will make it as painless and enjoyable as possible.” He smiled wide. “But I’m getting ahead of myself here. As I said, first, we should focus on your trial. Tomorrow morning at around ten o’clock, I want you to come here to my study so we can discuss how we’re going to handle the hearing two days from now with Angus.”

Sirius nodded. “I’ll be here.”

“Excellent. Now, go get some sleep or go spend some more time with your godson, whichever you prefer. Either way, Lucky will be keeping me informed,” he said with a smile.

Sirius’ new day started great. He woke up in a soft, comfortable bed after sleeping on the cold, hard stone floor for almost a decade, had a nice warm shower, ate delicious breakfast with his godson and his family, he met his godson’s best friend Hermione and now he was going to meet with James and his lawyer to discuss his case.

Everything was going great, until suddenly everything turned sour when five minutes to ten o’clock, he ran into none other than Severus ‘Snivellus’ Snape.

“You,” he snarled. “What are you doing here?”

Severus arched an eyebrow. “Not that it is your business to know, but I work here,” he drawled.

Sirius sneered. “Oh yeah? And what work is that?”

“If you must know, I’m tutoring your godson and his friend before Hogwarts. Unlike some,” he said, giving him a condescending look, “they want to learn and be ahead of their peers.”

Sirius gritted his teeth. “No doubt you’re teaching them Dark Arts. Say, do the Porters know about your obsession with dark magic and the fact that you’re a Death Eater?” he spat disdainfully.

Severus’ eyes narrowed and he took a step closer to Sirius, until they were in each other’s face. “Even if I was teaching them the most despicable of the Dark Arts, do you honestly believe the Porters would be against it?” he asked softly, almost mockingly. “You do know that the Porters are part of the muggle mafia, yes?” He feigned concern with a hand on his chest. “They are criminals with a knack for science and an unquenchable thirst for all kinds of knowledge, if anything, they would probably task me with teaching the kids and them about every branch of magic that exists, whether light or dark … because they wouldn’t care. To them, everything is a vast well of untapped knowledge that they want to explore and understand,” he said gleefully.

“It’s a shame how these muggles want to learn more about magic then most wizards do,” he sighed in mock sadness and disappointment, “all because of the prejudice and misconceptions about certain types of magic. Truly regrettable.”

Sirius was itching to punch Severus in the face.

“As for whether the Porters know about me being a Death Eater, yes, they do know and guess what, Black,” he gloated with a smug smirk. “They don’t care. They still let me in their house and near the kids, even after I’ve told them I’ve worked for the man who killed Hadrian’s parents.”

Just as Sirius was about to wipe that smug look off Snape’s face with a good punch to the jaw, the voice of James Porter startled them. “Okay, you two, that’s enough,” he said with authority, approaching them with measured steps. “As entertaining as it is to listen to your banter, I would prefer if you didn’t come to blows.”

“Black started it,” drawled Severus.

Sirius glared at him. “Well you made it worse, Snivellus,” he accused.

“Don’t call me that, you Mutt,” spat Severus hatefully.

James put his arms in between them to hold them at a safe distance from each other, looking from one to the other. “Okay, I don’t know what the beef is between you two, but you better work through it, because I’m not going to put up with you two being at each other’s throats or hurling insults at each other whenever you’re face to face, which is going to be every day,” said James in a no-nonsense tone.

The two men continued to send each other hateful glares, but remained quiet. James looked at them and sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Look, you’re both important. In addition to being my test subjects; you, Sirius, are my son’s godfather and thus automatically part of the family, and you, Severus, are my son’s tutor, you’re preparing a fertility potion for my wife and you’re my walking and talking encyclopaedia of the wizarding world, so, I would say that makes you part of the family as well.”

Sirius crossed his arms and pouted, while Severus limited himself to directing his gaze away.

“Now,” said James, “can I trust you not to take each other’s eyes out and rip the other’s throat, or do I need to get you some couple counselling instead?”

Sirius and Severus turned to him, scandalised.

“C-Couple counselling?!” sputtered Sirius.

“Of course,” he said casually. “While you certainly look like you want to murder each other, I can’t help but think that you also secretly wish to fuck each other’s brains out. I’ll be more than happy to provide you with a spacious room and a big bathroom for all sorts of positions to get all that pent up and unresolved sexual tension out of your systems.”

The two gaped at him as if he had said the most blasphemous thing in the world.

“Oh, ew, yuck,” grimaced Sirius, shuddering melodramatically. “That’s disgusting. I would never touch Snape like that. Never.”

“For the first time, I find myself agreeing with you, Black,” said Severus, grimacing as well. “Because I wouldn’t want to touch you like that either. Even if you were the only other human on the planet.”

James shook his head sagely. “Don’t say, I’ll never drink of this water, because you never know what might happen,” he warned them. “But seriously, if you can’t work through whatever the problem is between you two on your own, then I’m going to let a professional guide you through the process. You decide.”

The arrival of the lawyer interrupted them.

“Did I interrupt something?” he asked cautiously, when he looked at the three men, gathered in the foyer.

“No, Angus, not at all,” assured him James in an upbeat tone. “In fact, your timing couldn’t have been more impeccable.” He turned to Severus. “Go ahead, the kids are already waiting for you, and you,” he said, clasping Sirius’ shoulders, “come with us. We have a lot to discuss.”

He guided him to the study, where they went through each point they were going to bring up and dispute at court almost word for word.

Sirius was in awe. ‘Thank Merlin that I have such a good lawyer,’ he thought gratefully, even if he had to reveal that he was an unregistered animagus and register as one as soon as possible.

Despite rehearsing everything and knowing that there was little chance of something going wrong, Sirius still felt nervous and worried that what they had prepared wouldn’t be enough to get him out of Azkaban.

They met with Angus and Amelia, who would escort them to the corresponding courtroom, near the telephone booth that would get them through the guest entrance of the Ministry.

“There are still twenty minutes until the session starts,” she said just outside the courtroom. “You can wait outside for a while more, or you can come inside and take a seat. I’m part of the interrogating committee so I will be heading inside. Good luck.”

“Thank you, Ms. Bones,” said James.

Once they were alone, Sirius turned to James and Angus with a constipated look. “Say, do you think there’s enough time for me to go to the toilet,” he said anxiously. “I feel like I need to take a shit.” He was clutching his stomach.

“Relax, Sirius.” James clasped his shoulders. “There’s nothing for you to be nervous about. We rehearsed everything. We have prepared a counterargument for every piece of evidence, for every accusation in your file. The case is old so I doubt the prosecution has managed to dig up any new ‘incriminatory’ evidence against you, so, we have this one, Sirius. Have faith.” He smiled encouragingly.

He took a few deep breaths to calm himself, and then nodded. “Let’s do this,” he breathed and they entered the room as a group.

Vivian, James and Hadrian went to sit on the benches for the spectators, while Sirius and Angus walked to the chair placed in the middle of the room. Angus pulled out all the documentation he was going to use during the hearing and handed it to Sirius to hold it for him, because there was no table to put away his things.

The room was half-empty with people in plum-coloured robes trickling inside. As the room got fuller, the murmurs among the Wizengamot members started to get louder and once the Minister, the scribe and the Undersecretary took their positions, the trial finally began with a bang of the gavel.

“Criminal trial of the thirteenth of August into offenses committed by Sirius Orion Black previous resident of 12 Grimmauld Place, Islington, London,” he drawled. “Interrogators, Cornelius Oswald Fudge, Minister for Magic, Amelia Susan Bones, Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement, and Dolores Jane Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister for Magic. Court scribe, Augustus Antonius Merriweather. Witness for the defence, Angus Ferguson. The charges against the accused are as follows, being a Death Eater, betraying the Potters to the Dark Lord, and killing Peter Pettigrew and twelve other muggles with a single curse. Do you deny them?”

“Yes,” said Sirius in a tight voice. “All of them.”

Murmurs broke out and the Minister had to use the gavel. “Order in the courtroom,” he said authoritatively. Then, sneered at Sirius. “Well, the evidence says quite the opposite,” he said with glee.

“If I may, Minister,” Angus took over, “none of the evidence stated in my client’s case file are condemning.”

More murmurs erupted and Cornelius scowled at Angus. “And how exactly can you prove your claim?”

“Simple,” he said in a confident and light-hearted tone, with a stack of papers in hands. “Let us start with the first one, shall we?” A deafening silence engulfed the courtroom. “My client’s behaviour at the scene of the crime. You state that he was laughing like a lunatic and that this was one of the condemning pieces of evidence in the case. Well, according to muggle scientific sources, which I have here with me, say the following about my client’s laughter that night.”

He found the pertinent text.

“For example, Alex Lickerman wrote an article titled ‘Why We Laugh’, published on Psychology Today website on 23 January of 2011, where he talks about laughter in unamusing situations, ‘Interestingly, this same nervous laughter has been noted to occur in many psychological experiments when subjects have found themselves placed under a high degree of emotional stress specifically involving perceived harm to others.’. He goes on by saying a couple of paragraphs later, ‘This may explain why some psychologists classify humour as one of the "mature" defence mechanisms we invoke to guard ourselves against overwhelming anxiety (as compared to the "psychotic," "immature," and "neurotic" defence mechanisms).’”

He looked up at the entire courtroom and began pacing. “With that in mind, we can then summarise that my client’s laughter on that traumatic night was a physical reaction to stress, tension, confusion, and anxiety that he was experiencing at that moment. He was trying to guard himself against overwhelming anxiety and to diminish the suffering associated with the traumatic events that have transpired on the night of 31 October 2001.”

People started talking, calling the argument absurd and a pile of rubbish. Angus, having heard the accusations, just responded with a deadpan tone. “Have you ever laughed when someone injured themselves by tripping over their own feet?”

Most of the people in the room quieted immediately. “What does that have anything to do with this case?”

“Well, if you laughed at someone tripping over their own feet and falling on their face, does that make all of you here present responsible for the person’s subsequent injuries or death?”

No one had an answer for that. Angus smirked triumphantly. “Exactly my point. However, in case you are in doubt, I’ve made a few copies of the article for you to read if you want.” He walked up to the benches and handed out five copies of the article.

“Now, let us move onto the second piece of evidence.” He looked at Sirius’ criminal file. “Memories of over fifty muggle witnesses reveal that Sirius Black pursued Peter Pettigrew with the intent to kill. Pettigrew accused Sirius Black of betraying the Potters to He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Sirius Black cast a Blasting Curse that caused an explosion and killed Peter Pettigrew and twelve other muggles.”

He turned to the courtroom again. “If this were a muggle criminal trial,” he said, hanging the paper in front of those present, “this would be classified as incomplete evidence, because several key things are missing.”

“Such as?” prompted Cornelius snarling.

Angus was cool as a cucumber. “For example, how do you know my client cast the curse and not Pettigrew? Have the muggles actually seen my client use his wand and utter the curse? I am aware that there is also non-verbal and wandless magic, yet one would think you would have still performed Priori Incantatem on my defendant’s wand to see if he really cast that spell, and by what my defendant had told me, you didn’t do it.”

Several members of the Wizengamot looked profoundly embarrassed.

“Another thing. While my client indeed pursued Mr. Pettigrew with the intent to kill, the witnesses didn’t know anything about who Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew were. They didn’t know what the relationship was between them; they didn’t know why Mr. Black was chasing Mr. Pettigrew; they didn’t know why Pettigrew would accuse my client like that or whether the accusation was even true or false. Those facts right there are enough to make the memories of the eyewitnesses unreliable, because they do not provide an insight into the situation, the reasons and motivations for Mr. Black’s and Mr. Pettigrew’s actions and words, or their truthfulness. Which brings me to my next point. If you already performed memory reading on muggle witnesses, I don’t see how you didn’t even consider doing the same to my client or forced Truth Serum down his throat to get truthful answers out of him and determine his innocence or guilt. It wouldn’t have been that difficult and both memory reviewing and Veritaserum questioning are common procedures in highly uncertain cases and contradictory statements of witnesses. It says right here,” he said picking up the hefty-looking magical law code.

“Yes, I’ve read this entire book in less than a week and made sure to annotate crucial bits and pieces with as many beautiful and colourful muggle post-it notes,” he said mockingly, showing off the staggering amount of blue, green, orange, pink, yellow, white and purple notes sticking out of the book.

Most of the members of the Wizengamot looked like they wanted to hide somewhere nobody could find them, Fudge was clenching his jaw, red-faced, and Sirius was internally fanboying about the brilliance of the lawyer. He had heard this speech before, but damn, it was even more glorious witnessing it during the trial and seeing just how a muggle was able to find so many logical loopholes in his case at first glance than the entire magical community.

“I believe that by denying my client a trial and an actual investigation into his case you’ve already broken your own law. Because it says here,” he said, opening the book on the exact page he needed and proceeded to quote the passage with a raised index finger for emphasis, “that ‘every suspect of any crime has the right to a hearing and or trial, where it will be determined whether they are guilty or not after a thorough investigation.’”

He closed the book with a loud, dramatic snap and directed a cold look at the Wizengamot.

“My client was a suspect of several criminal offences, yet was not given a trial of any kind and while you can claim doing an investigation, I think it’s safe to say that it was far from thorough, which is an enormous injustice towards my client no matter the verdict and a giant blemish on your justice system. If anything, it almost looks as if you intentionally used whatever you could to incriminate my client. Which reminds me, there is still one final piece of evidence we have to review, ladies and gentlemen.”

He picked up the photos of Pettigrew’s finger and passed them to the interrogating committee and some of the members of the Wizengamot.

“Now, I want you to look closely at the picture and tell me if you notice anything unusual about it,” he instructed enigmatically, twirling a pen and pacing the courtroom.

They were scrutinising the photos and exchanging confused looks with each other.

“It’s a severed finger, for crying out loud,” huffed Fudge impatiently. “A plain, severed finger.”

“Touché!” said Angus excitedly. “That, Minister, right there is the keyword here, severed. Can you tell me perhaps why you used this particular adjective as opposed to, let’s say, torn off or blown off?”

Everyone looked confused again.

“I don’t know, it just popped in my mind,” he sputtered aggressively.

Angus took another set of photos and passed them to them. “I will pass around another set of photos, those with sensitive stomachs beware, and I want you to compare them to Mr. Pettigrew’s one and tell me if you notice any significant differences.”

People were grimacing and having a difficult time looking at the images of torn limbs. Umbridge, growing impatient as well, opened her mouth. “What exactly are you trying to prove, Mr. Ferguson?” she asked in an irritatingly high-pitched voice.

Angus looked at her with a raised eyebrow. “That my client did not kill Mr. Pettigrew or any of those muggles,” he replied simply.

“With photos?”

“They are essential in my next argument. You see, according to the case file report, my client allegedly caused an explosion that killed thirteen people and apparently all that was left of Mr. Pettigrew was his finger. If that were the case, then tell me, why does the bottom part of Pettigrew’s finger have nice, clean edges, when usually the skin and muscle tissue are jagged, as you can clearly see in the photos I’ve provided you with just now, when they are separated from the body in an explosion? Why does the rest of Pettigrew’s finger look intact, when explosions tear chunks of skin and muscle tissue off and leave a mess behind?”

“What exactly are you implying, Mr. Ferguson?” asked Amelia in a stern, but amiable voice.

“That the finger was cut off rather than blasted off and that Mr. Pettigrew is actually alive.”

This statement caused a loud buzz of whispers and talking. “Silence,” exclaimed Fudge, hitting his gavel, but the people were furiously commenting about Angus’ statement. “I demand order!” he yelled. Nothing. He pressed the wand to his throat and said, “I SAID SILENCE!”

Silence settled in the courtroom. Even the audience, which consisted only of the Porters, was a bit startled by the loudness of it.

“And you,” he snapped at Angus, “explain, what exactly do you mean at once!”

“I will let my client tell you what exactly happened with Pettigrew in a minute,” he said casually, “but going back to the pictures in front of you; you can clearly see the difference in the appearance of human appendages. Which leads me to the question of the missing body. First, since I’m a non-magical,” he said with mock humility, “would you kindly explain to me what would happen to a human body when directly hit with a blasting curse?”

“Depending on the potency of the spell, you could only experience minor lacerations, or you could be blown to pieces,” provided Amelia helpfully.

“And how big would those pieces be?” insisted Angus. “Would you still be able to recognise enough to identify human bodies or do you practically turn to dust?”

“You would still be able to recognise a corpse.”

He nodded thoughtfully, pinched his chin and started pacing the courtroom again with a pensive frown. “If that is true, then how were you not able to find and identify Pettigrew’s corpse?” he asked them, squinting in thought. “You manage to identify the exact number of muggle casualties, yet you can’t find or identify other parts of Pettigrew? Tell me; does this statement sound logical to you? Because it sure doesn’t sound logical to me.”

There was disorder in the courtroom again, but Amelia already asked Sirius about his side of the story and he gave a very similar recount that he gave to the Porters in Amelia’s office. There were gasps of surprise when he told them about Peter being the real Secret-Keeper as well an unregistered animagus and transforming into his rat form to flee down the sewers.

“Can you describe the rat’s appearance?” inquired Amelia. After he provided a detailed description of Peter’s animagus form, she had another question for him. “How did you become aware of his animagus status?”

“Because Peter, James and I became animagus around the same time.”

“Then you’re an animagus too?” she said with a raised eyebrow. “An unregistered one at that?”

“Yes. I’m an unregistered animagus too,” he confessed.

Fudge seemed gleeful about this and was more than ready to use this against him, but Angus put a stop to his intentions.

“Hold your horses, Minister,” he said sternly. “My client may be an unregistered animagus, but if I may refer you back to your law book, the punishment for failing to register as an animagus is a fine. However, given that my defendant has had to spend almost a decade of unjust imprisonment for the crimes he didn’t commit, I say he is exempt from paying the unregistered animagus fine as well as clear of all charges.”

“Mr. Black might not have necessarily killed all those muggles or Pettigrew, or betrayed the Potters, but what of his Death Eater status? The Dark Lord’s right hand nonetheless,” pointed out Umbridge.

Angus turned to the woman. “I’m sure you are aware that those close to Voldemort bear a tattoo on their left forearm and my client doesn’t have it.” He turned to Sirius and mutely prompted him to show his left forearm. He did so.

“The Dark Lord could have chosen to leave him unmarked as to allow Mr. Black not to rouse suspicion in those he was spying on,” she insisted, and several members agreed with the sentiment.

Angus spoke to the Wizengamot again. “If Mr. Black was a Death Eater and as close to Voldemort as you think he was, then let me ask you something. Why didn’t he volunteer to be the Secret-Keeper for the Potters? Because if he really was working with and for Voldemort; why didn’t he take the role of the Secret-Keeper upon himself and report the Potters’ location as soon as possible to his supposed Master? One would think he would want to prove himself to his Lord, to impress him by delivering the Potters right to him. Why wait more than a year after James and Lily Potter went into hiding to reveal the information?”

Umbridge had nothing to say to that.

“Exactly,” he said with a tight smile. “Now that we’ve established my client’s innocence by addressing and disputing all charges and evidence against him, and while you’re more than welcome to interrogate my client with Truth Serum, if still in doubt, I rest my case, ladies and gentlemen,” he said with open arms and a slight bow for added theatricality.

Amelia asked them to leave the room for a few minutes so the Wizengamot could discuss and make a final decision in regards to the fate of Sirius Black.

As soon as they were outside, James grinned like a maniac and clasped Angus’ shoulders in a congratulatory gesture. “Angus … that was brilliant” he praised. “Bloody brilliant and that theatrical bow at the end …” he did a chef’s kiss, “top notch.”

He laughed. “You know I have to add a bit of that flare in my performance, because that’s what speaking in court is really, a performance.”

Hadrian noticed that Sirius looked on edge. “What’s wrong Siri?”

“What if, even with all that we’ve presented today, they still declare me guilty and ship me back to Azkaban? I don’t want to go back to that hellhole.”

James grabbed the sides of Sirius’ head and pressed their foreheads together. “What did I say before the trial started?” he said with a low voice.

Sirius swallowed and blinked the tears that have accumulated in his eyes away. “Uh … have faith?”

“Exactly,” he smirked and tapped his cheek.

A few minutes later, the scribe came to fetch them. They entered the courtroom again and waited for the final verdict.

“Sirius Black,” began Amelia, “the Wizengamot has reached a consensus. The majority of the members agree that you are innocent and thus free of all charges.”

For a moment, his heart skipped a beat and there was a tight feeling in his chest, until it dissolved into incredulity and a bud of happiness.

“However, you are required to present yourself at the corresponding department and register your animagus form.”

“O-Of course,” breathed Sirius, nodding, his brain still trying to catch up with the fact that he was now a free man. “Right away.”

As soon as the registration form was filled out and they gathered outside the office on the corridor, Sirius started grinning, feeling light and giddy and just so indescribably happy that he didn’t know what to do with it.

“I’m free,” he breathed, his voice slightly shaky and dazed, and with tears in the corners of his eyes. “I’m finally free.” He chuckled hoarsely.

“What did I tell you, Sirius, ha?” prompted James, grinning like a maniac as well. “What did I tell you?”

Sirius engulfed him in a fierce hug and James returned it. “Thank you,” he whispered, kissing his cheek. “Thank you so much for giving me back my freedom.”

“You know I didn’t do it for free.”

He chuckled. “I know, but I’m grateful nonetheless, James.”

James tapped his shoulder blades as they continued to embrace fiercely for a while. Then, Sirius turned to Angus.

“Angus, may I kiss you?” he blurted unexpectedly.

“Sure,” he said and shrugged. “Go ahead. Just make it on the cheek.”

Instantly, Sirius engulfed him in a fierce hug as well and planted a loud and sloppy kiss on the man’s cheek. “Thank you to you as well. Without your brilliance, I probably wouldn’t have been acquitted.”

“I was just doing my job, Mr. Black,” he said humbly with a smile, returning the hug. “And I must confess I enjoyed every second of it, especially making all of them look bad and stupid,” he admitted mischievously and for a moment, Sirius thought he looked handsome and attractive and hot.

When they separated, Sirius hugged his godson next and covered his cheeks in more loud and sloppy kisses, making him squirm, squeal and giggle. “Oh, my darling pup munchkin. Now, I can finally be your godfather,” he said. “I know it’s a bit late and that I’ve missed a lot of important things in your life, but I will be there for you from this day forward.”

“Don’t worry, Siri,” assured him Hadrian with a gentle smile. “You know what they say, better late than never, and my father liked to film me when I was a toddler so, maybe he can show you some of the most memorable moments.”

“I would love that.”

Then, he ruffled his head, pressed another kiss to his cheek and proceeded to give Vivian a similar treatment he gave to James and Angus, the only difference is that he also lifted her of the ground and twirled her a bit and made her squeal and giggle as well.

It was then, that they took notice of people sending weird looks their way and they decided to leave, but nothing could diminish or interfere with Sirius’ happiness. Absolutely nothing.

“We should go celebrate, maybe go for a drink,” he suggested, “but I have no money, muggle or wizard.”

James wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “Don’t worry. I’m paying, but first,” he added playfully, “I think you need a new wand, Sirius.”

They stopped at Diagon Alley to get Sirius a new wand. Then, they went to the nearest bar and ordered some drinks.

Sirius felt adventurous and was the only one who ordered a pint of beer. While it wasn’t enough to make him drunk, it made him a bit tipsy and overly joyful. So much so, that he felt emboldened to ask whether Angus was single or taken and other intimate stuff.

Angus chuckled lowly. “I am single,” he said. “Have been for nine years.”

“Why?” Sirius couldn’t fathom how a brilliant man like Angus didn’t have someone.

“Angus here hasn’t really had luck in finding the right one,” answered James instead. “You see, he has particular tastes and the handful of people he has dated, have not shown to be willing to have such a relationship dynamic and life style.”

Sirius had no idea what James was talking about, but unless Angus was into body mutilation of his partner or something equally nasty and disgusting, then he didn’t understand why people would be scared or repulsed to a have a relationship with him.

“And what is the longest you’ve dated someone?” he wanted to know.

“Two months,” he replied lightly with a smile, “until the conversation turned to intimacy and relationship expectations and I told them what I wanted and craved and they walked away.”

“So, you have some experience then?”

“Not really. I don’t want to engage in a physical relationship without having a solid foundation and emotional attachment with the other person.”

“So … you’re a virgin?” he asked hopeful, intrigued and fascinated.

“I am.” He told him with an intense look and with all the confidence in the world. “I’ve yet to be intimate in any sort of way with another person. Call me old fashioned, unrealistic, or a hopeless romantic, but I want a stable and meaningful relationship that will last until death. Anything less than that just doesn’t work for me. Other people may be fine with casual fucking, promiscuous behaviour and friends-with-benefits, but I just can’t engage in those sorts of behaviours and arrangements.”

“I see.”

Was this the reason why people didn’t want to be with Angus? If it was, then that was the most absurd and stupid reason not to be with him.

After drinks, Angus drove to his place, while the Porters and Sirius drove back home. When they arrived, Severus was waiting to tutor Hermione and Hadrian for the day and Sirius greeted him with a smile and absolutely no malice.

“Oh, look,” he said cheerfully at the sight of the Potions Master. “Snape is also here to congratulate me.” He walked up to the man, who was looking at him strangely, grabbed him by the lapels of his robes and pulled him in for a kiss on the lips in front of everybody.

James wolf-whistled, Vivian covered her mouth with her fingers and let out an ‘Oh my’, Hadrian and Hermione just gaped at the two men, while Happy looked completely emotionless.

Before Severus could do anything, the kiss already ended and Sirius moved on to greeting Happy, hugging and placing a kiss on her cheeks. “I’m so happy to see you Happy,” he said with a grin.

Severus stood there, rooted to the spot with wide eyes.

“Judging from Mr. Black’s happiness level and behaviour, I presume the trial was successful.”

“Lucky!” exclaimed Sirius happily at hearing the AI’s voice. “I’m a free man, Lucky.”

“Congratulations, Mr. Black.”

“Do you wish me to bake a celebratory cake, Master?” asked Happy.

“That would be a good idea, Happy, because after today, we will focus on magical research again and there won’t be much time for celebrations. Which reminds me, I need to speak with both of you,” he said pointing to Sirius and Severus, who finally managed to regain his composure. “So, come see me in my study after you’re done tutoring.”

“Understood,” said Severus curtly, sending a glare to Sirius, who was behaving as if he didn’t just steal his first kiss.

“Just don’t forget that we need to look for my soulmate too, father,” reminded him Hadrian. “I want to meet him soon.”

“You have a soulmate, pup?” Sirius asked with glittery eyes.

“Yes,” he announced proudly, grinning from ear to ear.

“Who is it?”

“Tom Marvolo Riddle,” he said brightly. “Although, I’m told that people know him as Lord Voldemort.”

Severus and Sirius blanched and every ounce of joyfulness evaporated from Sirius’ system.

“What did you say?” he asked numbly.

“Lord Voldemort is my soulmate.”

The sentence echoed in Sirius’ ears and head, until he promptly fainted and would have hit the floor if Happy hadn’t reached out and caught him in her arms.

“Should I place him on the sofa or carry him to his room?” she deadpanned, holding him bridal style with ease.

“Sofa should be fine,” said James.

“And I’ll go get some water for when he comes to his senses,” said Vivian, hurrying to the kitchen.

Hadrian looked up at his father, confused. “Was it something I said?”

“Well, son,” he sighed, petting his hair, “I believe your godfather wasn’t expecting to hear that the Dark Lord who killed his best friend and your biological parents is the man you’re destined to be with.”

Chapter Text

Happy placed Sirius on the sofa, and then excused herself to go start working on the cake.

Hadrian looked at his unconscious godfather. “Well,” he said casually, “I hope he doesn’t mind it too much, because then we might have a problem. Because no matter who my soulmate is and what he has done, I want him, and nothing anyone says or thinks will make me change my mind.”

“Don’t worry, son,” assured him James, squeezing his shoulder affectionately. “Leave your godfather to me; you go study with Severus and Hermione.”

He nodded. “Okay, father.” The three of them left the living room to go upstairs.

Vivian returned with the glass of water. “Is he awake yet?”

“No, but he should be soon.”

“Perhaps a bit of alcohol might speed up the process, sir,” suggested Lucky.

Sirius woke up with a gasp. James smirked. “Thank you for the suggestion, Lucky, but I don’t think it will be necessary.”

Sirius looked disoriented at his surroundings, until his gaze focussed on James and he seemed to have remembered the reason he passed out in the first place.

“James,” he breathed; his eyes wide and grabbing him by the arms, “please, tell me there has been some kind of mistake o-or misunderstanding. Lord Voldemort can’t be Harry’s soulmate, he just can’t,” he said, desperate.

“I’m afraid there’s no mistake or misunderstanding, Sirius,” he said with a melancholic smile. “Hadrian and Voldemort are soulmates, it was written on the document when we were at Gringotts trying to learn more about our son. The paper didn’t lie about Hadrian’s heritage, why should it lie about who his soulmate is?”

Sirius’ arms fell to his sides as a lost expression settled on his face.

“Here,” said Vivian and offered him the glass of water, “drink this.”

He took a few sips. “I just can’t understand how Voldemort and Harry can be soulmates. How could anything make them soulmates?”

James sighed. “I don’t know, Sirius. I don’t know who or what decides these things, but I don’t intend to question it or oppose it. Come,” he beckoned him, “come with me to the office. We’ll wait for Severus there and you will have some time to get used to the idea.”

Sirius got up from the sofa and let James guide him to the study.

“I still can’t believe Harry’s soulmate is Voldemort,” said Sirius, seated in James’ study and looking like a lost puppy.

James said nothing and kept looking at the 3D hologram, where he was working on his magical research.

Sirius looked at him. “You do realise that Voldemort is more than half a century older than Harry and that he killed his parents and many others. He even tried to kill Harry.”

He sighed. “Yes, Sirius, I’m aware of all that.”

“And you’re okay with that?”

He looked at him. “I’m not thrilled knowing that Voldemort is old enough to be Hadrian’s grandfather, but Hadrian knows he’s not allowed to have sex or physical intimacy with him until he’s of consenting age at least, and as soon as we find and make contact with Voldemort, my wife and I will let him know of it too. As for his actions, it would be extremely hypocritical of me to judge him for killing people, when I myself have killed to protect my family, out of survival and self-interest, and for all we know, the man might not even be aware that Hadrian is his soulmate. I’m sure he would have thought twice at the very least before acting on the incomplete prophecy about Hadrian being his downfall.”

Sirius stared in shock at James.

“And as much as the deaths of James and Lily Potter were a tragedy, they were also a blessing for Vivi and me. Because, out of that tragedy, we were given the opportunity to be parents to a wonderful boy. If anything, I am grateful for the way things have transpired, no matter how painful and tragic, because neither Vivi nor I can or want to imagine a life without Hadrian. I am a scientist, Sirius, I don’t really believe in coincidences or destiny, but with the way things have transpired so far, I can’t help but think that they happened the way they did for a reason; that things were meant to happen exactly as they did, when they did.”

Sirius didn’t know what to say to that and James returned to his work as they waited for Severus to finish his tutoring session with Hadrian and Hermione.

“Sir,” said Lucky a few minutes later, “Mr. Snape has just finished tutoring Young Master Hadrian and Miss Hermione and is heading towards your office.”

“Thank you, Lucky.” He closed the hologram and relaxed in his seat.

Once all three men were gathered in the office, James addressed them. “There are a few things that I wanted to discuss with you. First,” he turned to Sirius, “I would like to know about Remus Lupin.” He saw Sirius stiffen a bit. “You’ve mentioned him to Hadrian, he formed part of your friend group, but for some reason you didn’t say much about him, why is that?” he asked shrewdly.

Sirius looked panicked. “Why do you want to know about Remus?”

James shrugged. “Mainly curiosity, but since he’s a wizard and your friend, perhaps I could have some use for him.”

Severus sneered. “He’s more than just a wizard.”

Sirius immediately glared at Severus. “Shut it, Snape,” he snarled.

The comment and Sirius’ reaction to it intrigued James. “I don’t particularly care which one of you tells me what I want to know, I just want to know who or what Remus Lupin is.”

“It’s a very delicate piece of information,” said Sirius.

“Lupin is a werewolf,” drawled Severus.

James’ eyes widened and Sirius looked ready to kill Severus on the spot. “What?” he prompted in a deadpan voice. “He wanted to know what Lupin is and I told him, since you were evidently not going to tell him.”

“A werewolf?” breathed James, already thinking about all the exams he wanted to perform on him. Severus and Sirius looked at him. “Now more than ever, I want to meet him.” He spoke to Sirius. “I want you to contact him and tell him I want to meet with him.”

Sirius was immediately wary. “You want to study him, don’t you?”

“Of course I do, are you kidding me? A real werewolf. I need to learn everything there is to know about them, but most importantly how they can even exist. Because unlike shapeshifters like you, who can transform into an animal at will, werewolves can’t control it and it only happens once a month.”

Sirius was sceptical, but ultimately agreed to contact Remus. “But I’m not making any promises,” he warned. “I haven’t seen or spoken to him since my imprisonment and I don’t even know where he lives.”

“Get yourself an owl, then,” said Severus casually. “An owl would be able to locate him even without an address.”

“Then, it’s settled,” said James, grinning. “You’ll talk to him as soon as you’re able and let him know I want to talk to him and study him.”

Sirius opened his mouth as if to protest, but changed his mind and nodded with a sigh.

James turned to Severus now. “Second, I would like to ask you about the tattoo on your left forearm.”

Severus stiffened. “What do you want to know about it?” He subconsciously touched his marked forearm.

“What exactly is its function? Because I doubt it is simply part of the Death Eater aesthetic.”

“Mainly, the mark functions as a means of communication, meaning that Lord Voldemort is able to summon those who bear his mark to his side whenever he wants,” explained Severus calmly. “It also allows his marked followers to know how powerful and close he is.”

James narrowed his eyes in thought. “How?”

“When he was active, the mark was pitch black. When he called you to his side, the mark would burn. When he was physically close, you would feel a prickling sensation in the mark. When he was defeated, the mark turned red and with years it became so faint it was barely visible.”

“And now?” prompted James. “What colour and how intense is it now?”

Severus rolled up his sleeve to reveal a faint black skull and snake. Sirius and James studied it. “So … does this mean he’s gaining strength?” asked Sirius.

“It would seem so.”

“Severus,” said James, “I want you to pay attention to your mark. If you feel any prickling or burning or if it gets blacker, let me know immediately. Hadrian is eager to know about his soulmate’s condition and whereabouts and any information you can provide will be very useful.”

“Understood,” nodded Severus.

“Thank you,” said James smiling sincerely, “both of you.”

“Will that be all?” inquired Severus.

“For today, yes.”

“Then I will be taking my leave,” said Severus and left. Sirius followed him with his gaze. James noticed and smirked.

“You know … that kiss really was something,” he commented casually.

Sirius looked at him confused. “What kiss?”

“The kiss you gave to Severus, of course,” he grinned.

Sirius was looking at him as if he had hit his head. “What are you talking about? I never kissed Snape.”

Now, it was James’ turn to look at Sirius as if he was being delusional. “Uh … yes, you did.”

“When exactly did I kiss him?”

“When we returned. you were still giddy due to the beer you had and the happiness of being a free man and, as soon as you crossed the threshold of the house and saw Snape, you immediately went up to him and smacked your lips together in front of everybody, even the kids,” explained James.

Sirius still had a blank look on his face, until James asked Lucky for a recording of the moment and the AI played the clip, then, his eyes widened in horror. “Merlin’s saggy balls,” he breathed and his fingers touched his lips. “I did kiss him.” He had a hard time coming to terms with that fact. “I kissed Snape. Why would I kiss him? I don’t even like or want him.”

James shrugged. “How should I know? But to me it looks like you do want something with Severus on some deep subconscious level.”

Sirius looked ready to faint again.

The following day, Vivian collected and carefully labelled saliva and blood samples of Sirius, Hadrian, Hermione and Severus, after she convinced him to contribute to their research, as their wizard DNA samples, and James’, Hermione’s parents and her own as control DNA samples. Then, she took the samples to her family genetics laboratory and began processing the samples.

With their advanced technology, the entire process only took two days for all samples and she went through the results with her husband and son. While there were slight individual differences, they noticed a common pattern in all four magical individuals on the same location in the genome sequence.

It was still too early for any conclusive results, for that they would need more samples, but what caught their attention were John’s results. James decided to call him.

“Hey, John, sorry if I’m bothering you, but I have the results of the DNA sequencing we did and I wanted to ask you something.”

“Sure, go ahead.”

“When we were shopping for school supplies and we were at the bank, did you perhaps take any heritage tests for Hermione or you while you were there?” inquired James.

“Mm … no, we didn’t take any tests. Why do you ask?”

“Because, according to the results, you are a wizard, John. At least genetically speaking.”

“What?” he breathed. “But … how can that be? How can I be a wizard, when I have never done anything magical in my life?”

“We believe that your magical gene has either been damaged or it never got activated, but you and Hermione share an almost identical extra section of the genome and your wife doesn’t.”

There was silence and, for a moment, James thought the connection was broken. “Hello, John? Are you still there?”

“Y-Yes. I-I’m still here.”

“Look, I know this is a shock, but I need you to go to Gringotts and take their heritage test for all three of you and then report the results to me,” instructed James.

“Okay, I’ll speak with my wife and Hermione and let you know what the test says.”

“Good. If you need, I can have one of my men accompany you.”

“Thank you, but I don’t think that will be necessary. I think I still remember the way.”

“If you change your mind, let me know. Take care.”

“You too.”

In the meantime, Sirius made a trip to Diagon Alley to buy himself an owl to write to Remus, arrange a meeting with him, and distract himself from thinking about the kiss with Severus, because apparently, for the last two days, that was all he was capable of thinking, when he was on his own. The two times he met him afterwards, the camera recording of their kiss would play in his mind and he would blank out to the point of not being able to say anything to him.

He was trying to forget the entire incident; blame it on temporary madness and be done with it, but apparently, everyone in the house was determined to set him up with Severus romantically. James constantly teased him about his secret desires and wants concerning Snape, his godson suggested he take a test to see if Severus was his soulmate, and Vivian was conspiring and giving him love advice. Even Lucky and Happy constantly had to make comments about it.

He shook his head. He didn’t like nor desire Snape and he was not his soulmate. He just couldn’t be, right? Because it would be really fucked up otherwise. Therefore, he focussed on the task ahead: getting in contact with his friend Remus.

He wasn’t sure if he would get a reply, heck, he wasn’t even sure if Remus and he were still friends. He didn’t even know if Remus was aware of his trial and innocence despite being the hot topic of the Daily Prophet, after Amelia Bones personally went to the press and gave a statement to clear his name. However, no matter the state of their friendship, he would fulfil his part of the agreement to James and at least attempt to meet up with Remus and talk with him.

To his surprise, he received a response the following day of sending the letter and it would seem that Remus was willing to meet up with him.

They agreed to meet at some muggle establishment near Diagon Alley for drinks.

Sirius would be lying if he said he wasn’t nervous to meet with his friend after a decade. In fact, he was terrified. He didn’t even know how to greet him, what to say to him and when he was finally standing face to face with him, he froze up and blanked out for a good minute.

The last decade hadn’t been kind to either of them, but while Sirius was now living in a mansion wearing nice clothes, eating scrumptious food, receiving help for the mental toll being locked up in Azkaban had on him, Remus looked like he lived in poverty. While his clothes weren’t torn or dirty, they looked shabby and worn out, and he looked older, much older than 31 years old, and sickly and full of scars.

“Sirius,” greeted Remus in a gentle voice.

He swallowed hard. “Remus,” he greeted back.

“How are you?”

“Now that I’m free, my innocence proven, much better. And you? How are you?”

Remus shrugged. “Not bad, but also not good. I have a place to sleep and eat, but it’s already slowly falling apart.”

“Are you employed?”

“I am … for the moment, but soon I will have to resign, because they might get suspicious and find out about my condition, and I can’t allow that to happen.”

“I see,” he lowered his gaze.

There was a full minute of silence, both occupied with drinking their teas.

“And you?” Remus broke the silence. “Are you already looking for a job? Are you living at Grimmauld Place?”

“No, I’m not living there and I already have a job … sort of.”

Remus’ eyes widened in surprise. “Really? So soon? And where are you staying?”

“I’m staying with those who got me out of Azkaban,” he scratched the back of his neck. “You see, one day, the dementors came to take me to the Ministry, saying there was someone who was trying to prove my innocence.” He took in a deep breath. “I thought it might have been you or Dumbledore, but it turned out that a muggle couple, who had adopted and taken care of my godson, learnt about my imprisonment and decided to free me, guilty or innocent.”

Remus looked away, unable to look him in the eyes.

“It didn’t matter to them which it was; they were willing to do anything to get me out with their muggle lawyer’s help. I told them everything that happened that night and they believed me.”

“Sirius,” he choked out, his voice faltering, his eyes glistening with tears, “I’m sorry for thinking you would ever betray James and Lily or kill Peter.”

“Oh, believe me, Remus,” he gritted out, “I would have killed him if that bastard hadn’t acted like a coward and created all that mess that got me incarcerated. Because all the crimes I’ve been accused of, they were committed by Peter and now, he’s out there somewhere, hiding in his rat form, enjoying his life as someone’s pet. But hopefully, not for long, because I already told the authorities about us being animagi and how his rat form looks.”

“You registered?”

“Yes, it was one of the conditions for my release. You should have been there Moony, to witness the greatness that is Angus Ferguson. I swear, he’s one hell of a muggle and lawyer. Handsome too.” He tried to sound casual and light-hearted to hide the hurt he was feeling, but he wasn’t fooling Remus.

“I’m sorry I didn’t stand up for you,” he whispered brokenly. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you.”

Sirius’ eyes prickled with tears. “I thought we were friends, Moony,” he whispered. “I thought that … we would stick together through thick and thin. Never abandon or doubt each other. Yet … our friendship was apparently not strong enough to withstand the war.”

“I should have believed in your innocence,” he agreed, “but you also forget that when you thought one of us was a spy for Voldemort, you all immediately pointed your fingers at me,” he accused. Sirius’ eyes looked pained. “I have doubted you, but so have you … so have James and Lily. I already felt out of place for being what I am, and I bet that the reason you thought I was a traitor was because of that too.”

He looked so hurt, Sirius felt like crying.

“You’re right; maybe our friendship wasn’t as strong as we thought. Because at the first suspicion of a traitor, we turned on each other.”

“You’re right. I was wrong too for doubting you and thinking you were a traitor, but you were acting distant, suspicious. You didn’t want to talk to us as much as before.”

“Like I said, I felt out of place. Everything was just too much for me: the war, James and Lily having a kid, my condition.”

“Why didn’t you talk to us? We would have understood you, tried to help you,” insisted Sirius.

“Because I didn’t want to burden you with my bad mood, so I kept my distance at times, when I couldn’t put a fake a smile on my face or just wanted to be alone.”

“Moony … do you think we could continue being friends? Real friends?” asked Sirius.

Remus stared at him and at his drink. He huffed self-deprecatingly. “You want to be my friend even after what happened?”

“Yes,” he said with determination.

Remus looked at him. “If you’re willing to forgive me for thinking you capable of betrayal and mass murder, then I suppose we can.”

“Only if you can forgive me for thinking you would be capable of betrayal too.”

They smiled and shook hands, only to lean over the table and hug each other fiercely. With their friendship rekindled, Sirius wanted to help Remus to the best of his abilities.

“Remus, if you need a job and a place to stay, you can come with me and live with the Porters.”

“Oh no, I couldn’t possibly intrude on them. I’m sure they don’t have that much space.”

Sirius smirked. “Quite the contrary. The Porters are rich and live in a huge ass mansion surrounded by guards.” He cleared his throat, looked around, then leaned forward and added in a whisper, “However, there’s a catch.”

“You’re worrying me, Sirius.”

“I can’t say much, because we’re in a public setting, but they aren’t ordinary people and James wants to … study you.”

“What do you mean he wants to study me?”

“He wants to examine you, do experiments … to learn about … your condition.” He squeezed his eyes shut.

“Sirius,” breathed Remus, pale as a sheet.

“Yes, Moony?”

“Does this muggle know about my condition?”

He closed his eyes tight again. “Yes,” he said quietly. When it looked like Remus had frozen solid, he hurried to reassure him that everything was fine.

“Did you tell him?”

“No, Snape told him.”

“Snape? Severus Snape?” he gaped.

“Yes.”

“How is he involved in all this?”

“When Harry, now Hadrian, got his Hogwarts letter, they thought it was a scam, a prank, and the school sent Snape to explain about our world and Hogwarts. From there, James Porter hired him as his walking encyclopaedia of our world and Hadrian and Hermione’s tutor to prepare them for Hogwarts.”

Remus needed a minute to process everything. “Okay, let’s say I accept, besides studying me … would I be doing anything else?”

Sirius shrugged. “Honestly, I don’t know, he didn’t say, but I could ask him. Maybe you could work as a guard or something.”

“I might agree on two conditions.”

“Which ones?”

“One, that he makes sure there are security measure in place for full moons, and two, that he uses whatever he will find out about my condition to find a cure that will take this away forever.”

Sirius grinned. “The man is a genius, so consider it done.”

“Then tell him I’m willing to become his test subject.”

Two days later, Remus found himself in James’ office at the Porter Manor.

Even after Sirius warned him about the uncanny resemblance between James Porter and James Potter, Remus still needed a moment or two to wrap his head around a coincidence like that. Even Vivian looked like Lily at first glance. However, he had to remind himself that this James was not like the James he knew. This James was dangerous, part of the mafia, and his wife Vivian as well. They might look like his dead friends, but they were nothing like them.

When Sirius told him about the criminal activities, he felt sick and adverse to have anything to do with the mafia, but then, he remembered that this mafia lord and his wife together with Harry could be his salvation and involved himself with the mafia. He just hoped he wouldn’t regret his decision and that it would be worth it.

After getting over his surprise, James interviewed him about his condition in detail and explained how the exams and experiments would look like as well as full moon arrangements. In turn, Remus told him about wolfsbane potion as a way of mitigating the most violent aspects of lycanthropy, but since it was a very complex potion, not many people were able of making it.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure that Severus will be capable of brewing it without a hitch,” assured him James. “I’ll talk to him and tell him about the situation. Then, I’ll ask him to brew the potion until I manage to develop a cure.”

“Thank you,” said Remus, grateful. “I don’t know how to pay you.”

“I don’t need money, I have plenty of it and I’m making more every day,” he said dismissively. “But you are welcome to stay and become a bodyguard. You will be training alongside Sirius.”

“Bodyguard?”

“Yes. I know that you already have some fighting experience, but when you fought, you were using magic. Here, working for me, you would learn muggle combat, which involves both hand-to-hand combat as well as using firearms.”

“Understood.”

“You will also be receiving a salary, you will be working a regular eight-hour shift, six days a week, sometimes even Sundays, but that eight-hour shift is flexible. On certain days, you might be on duty during the day and on others, during the night. And be prepared for emergencies and mess … plenty of mess,” he warned with a wicked smirk. “You might even have to kill a person or two to save yourself or someone else. Luckily, it doesn’t get violent and messy often, but when it does it can be really bloody and ugly.”

“Like you said, I’ve already fought in a war. I know how to incapacitate people … okay, maybe not the muggle way, but you know what I mean.”

James sniggered. “Yeah, I know what you mean. Then, it’s settled. You will sign an employment contract and with it a non-disclosure agreement. Anybody who works for me has gone through the same process, so this is standard procedure. You can read about consequences of breaching the agreement more closely here," he handed him the contract and the agreement, “although since you are a wizard you can also do an oath to keep the nature of my family’s business a secret by swearing on your magic,” he grinned.

Remus read the documents and while it was scary to put your life into another person’s hands, he had no intention of ever revealing the true nature of their business. Therefore, he signed both the contract and the agreement and swore an oath of secrecy on his magic, much like Severus and Sirius before him.

“Excellent,” said James light-heartedly, filing the documents into a folder. “Now, I can’t promise or tell you when exactly I’ll have the cure developed, especially because I’m really busy with all sorts of research at the moment.”

“I don’t care how long it takes. Even if it takes years, I’ll wait. I just don’t want to worry about hurting anyone anymore or going through this infernal pain every month.”

“Then consider it done.”

Later that day, John called James to report the test results. “It would seem that Hermione is a muggleborn, I am a squib and my wife is a muggle.”

“A squib? What is that?”

“It’s apparently someone who has magical blood in them, but for some reason they are unable to do magic,” explained John.

“Did you check if either of your parents is also a squib or any other magical classification?”

“I did and my mother is a muggle and my father is a squib. And that’s not all. We took a test that shows our genealogical tree and apparently, three generations before me, my pureblood squib great-grandfather married a muggle and left the wizarding world. I suppose he never spoke of his magical family and the magical world, because neither my grandparents nor my parents have ever heard of magic. I suppose since we were all squibs or muggles, it was never necessary to reveal anything, but now Hermione is capable of performing magic and now we know why.”

“Yes, something must have happened when the genetic material transferred from you to Hermione, because I think it is quite obvious that the trait for magic is hereditary. Now we just need to understand how exactly it works and then who knows … if we find a way to fix it, activate it, and replicate and insert it into a genome of a muggle, we might be able to produce wizards.”

And find a way to take their magic away as well,’ he thought, a wicked grin spread over his face.

21 August 2011, Porter Manor

Hadrian was eating lunch with his parents, his godfather, his friend Remus and Angus, who had come to discuss about the legalities of purchasing new premises for the public-face family companies.

They were discussing Hadrian’s schedule for his second year of Engineering at Cambridge, which had just come out for all the seminars and lectures, to see how he could combine it with Hogwarts lessons and still have enough time to do magical research independently and with his parents, training and paintball, when Severus came bursting into the dining room.

Everyone turned to him.

“I have news about Voldemort,” he announced and Hadrian felt his breath hitch.

His father and mother beckoned Severus to sit down and explain everything.

“Voldemort is at Hogwarts. I believe he’s possessing Quirrell, the new Defence against the Dark Arts teacher.”

“Did you feel the mark prickling?” asked James.

“Yes,” confirmed Severus, “for the past few days, whenever I was in Quirrell’s proximity.”

“But how do you know he’s possessing him?” wondered Hadrian.

“Because the mark isn’t pitch black,” he explained. “If he had a body and was polyjuicing as Quirrell, then the mark would have been completely black.”

“Then we have to help him get a body as soon as possible,” said Hadrian. He turned to his parents. “Right, father? Mother?”

They smiled. “Of course, sunshine,” assured him Vivian. “We’ll help your soulmate, but we mustn’t rush things. First we need to find a way to help him, and once we have everything ready, that’s when you can bring him here.”

Hadrian nodded and turned to Severus. “Is there a ritual that can help us restore an adult body?”

“If there is, it’s a dark ritual.”

“I don’t care if it’s dark. If it will give Voldemort a body, we will do it,” he said with determination.

Severus scrutinised him, but ended up sighing in defeat. “Very well,” he said, “I’ll gather some dark magic books for you to go through. I hope you will be able to find what you need.”

“And if not,” added James, petting his son’s messy hair, “we’ll just have to build a body from scratch in your mother’s lab and find a way to merge him with it.”

Hadrian beamed at his parents and his heart swelled and fluttered with anticipation of finally meeting with his soulmate. He couldn’t wait for school to start.

Chapter Text

“Here,” said Snape two days later when he came to tutor Hadrian and Hermione, “the books I promised. I tried my best to accumulate books that are going to be relevant and useful, but I cannot promise you will find what you’re looking for in them.”

Hadrian accepted the stack with a grateful smile. “Thank you, Professor. I’ll start reading them today.”

“Just don’t abandon your school work,” he reminded him.

He rolled his eyes and let out a sigh. “Don’t worry, I won’t,” he assured him. “Besides, Hermione and I have almost finished with our first-year books and additional reading about magical theory and the wizarding world.”

Snape hummed; a pensive frown on his face. “Indeed,” he drawled, “however, that is no reason for you to slack off at school or completely focus on something else.”

“I live with scientists for parents; I think I know about the importance of lifelong learning. I’m already researching magic and its people with my parents; this will simply be another research project in the field of magic, with the exception that it will also help Voldemort get his body back.”

Snape nodded. “Very well then. Are you ready for today’s tutoring session?”

“I am always ready for our lessons, Professor, but Hermione texted me earlier saying she might be a bit late due to traffic.”

“How late are we speaking?”

“Ten, fifteen minutes at most, she did ask me to apologise to you on her behalf.” He pulled his mobile phone out of his pocket and showed him Hermione’s message.

Snape frowned at the text and let out a resigned sigh. “We’ll wait for her to arrive, in the meantime, show me your home assignment.”

“Yes, sir,” saluted Hadrian.

A week before Hogwarts, because he wouldn’t start with his university lectures and seminars until the beginning of October, Hadrian spent most of his waking hours doing research and learning about magic.

With Snape, he learned following the official Hogwarts curriculum with a few deviations.

With his parents, he was looking into magic itself, although ever since they sequenced the wizard genome from the few samples at their disposal, their focus shifted from analysing, understanding and recreating magic spells to analysing, understanding and recreating wizard genome, which was just as ambitious, challenging and time-consuming as trying to comprehend the laws behind magic spells. Especially because they needed more and varied magical DNA samples, before making any sort of generalisations for an entire population.

On his own, he was trying to find a way to give his soulmate a physical body as soon as possible. (There was also the study of lycanthropy, but for the time being he would let his parents deal with it.) However, so far he didn’t find anything particularly useful.

While that frustrated him to no end, trying to force and rush things never produced the best results and he would not settle for anything but the best for Voldemort. He had yet to meet and speak with him in person, but he was certain that he wouldn’t be disappointed by what he would see come September. Because if learning about his cruelty, bad temper and the fact he had killed quite a number of people, his biological parents included, wasn’t enough to diminish his determination to be happy with him and make his soulmate happy, nothing would and could.

He only hoped that, once Voldemort learnt about their connection, he would be just as excited as he was about it, but in case he wouldn’t be, either because of his age or his identity, he was willing and ready to woo him … even if it took him years to gain his affection.

Well … it’s not like he could do anything sexual with him before turning sixteen anyway, he thought woefully; however, he could still spend time with him, converse with him, see what he liked and disliked, learn about his ambitions, his wants, his needs. By the time they were allowed to become more physical and intimate with each other, he would make sure that Voldemort wanted and loved him with the same intensity as him.

When Hadrian wasn’t busy learning and researching, he trained to stay in top shape and form with his martial arts, his handling of firearms and reflexes, and played paintball with Hermione and, recently, with his godfather and parents as well. Of course, there was the gang-skirmish-simulation part of it, but it was also a great way to unwind and connect with the people he loved. Occasionally, he would play strategic and deduction board games with his family, such as Pandemic and Cluedo, or solve crosswords, logic riddles, games and puzzles to relax and exercise his mind at the same time.

Those moments, together with the meals, were the best time to talk less about business and research, although they still did that; and more about them as family, where they found themselves planning family trips and picnics. Now, these family conversations also included his godfather Sirius.

Speaking of his godfather, it would seem that ever since that kiss with Severus, he didn’t know what to do with himself whenever Severus entered his field of vision, which was immensely entertaining at first, but was becoming quite worrying as of late. He tried helping him, but Sirius seemed adamant to ignore anything to do with Snape and deny any romantic or erotic feelings and thoughts he might harbour towards the other man, and his professor seemed perfectly fine with not interacting with Sirius.

Three days before the start of the school year at Hogwarts, he decided to ask Snape what he thought about his godfather.

The professor looked at him with an arched eyebrow. “How is that relevant for today’s lesson?”

“It isn’t, but I am curious to know what you think about Sirius,” replied Hadrian. Hermione stopped doing everything else to look at Snape intently, interested in hearing the answer as well.

Snape narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest, studying him. “If this is about that bloody kiss between him and me; a kiss that he instigated mind you, let me tell you that I didn’t appreciate it one bit,” he drawled. “After decades of animosity, it will take more than an alcohol-induced indiscretion on your godfather’s part for me to tolerate him, much less harbour anything other than great dislike and its synonyms for him.”

Hadrian winced, but the way Snape worded it provided a little glimmer of hope that, should Sirius sort himself out, there was a slim chance their relationship might grow and develop into something pleasant.

“I know you two have a not-so-good history with one another, but perhaps there is a way for you two not to hate each other,” he said tentatively. “I dare say that the fact that you’re not insulting each other is a good start.”

“I doubt it,” deadpanned Snape. “And don’t misunderstand, the only reason we’re being ‘civil’ with each other and not hurling insults at one another is because of your father. It was either that or, as your father put it, couple counselling, and I refuse to attend anything with your godfather.”

“How can you be so sure about it, when you haven’t even tried getting along with him?” Hadrian pointed out. “Maybe if you two sat down and had a real, open and honest conversation for once about what bothers you about the other and why, without any sorts of outbursts, things would have been different.”

Severus’ eyes widened ever so slightly.

“I mean,” continued Hadrian, “you’re both adults for crying out loud; both over thirty, start acting like it, and if you can’t settle your differences through peaceful means then you’re more than welcome to sort them out through force, magical or non-magical, whichever you prefer as long as it’s non-lethal. If you need a place to fight, you are free to use our training arena. Think about it.”

With that, he returned to his reading task, while Severus stared at him, lost for words.

Not long after, Lucky delivered a message from his parents. “Young Master Hadrian, your father and mother would like you to know that your presence is required in your father’s study once you finish with your lessons. The same goes for you, Mr. Snape.”

“Did they state a reason?” inquired Hadrian.

“Not explicitly, but I can tell you that it has something to do with your first day at Hogwarts and your biological parents.”

“Thank you, Lucky. Tell my parents that both Professor Snape and I will be there as soon as possible.”

Once all of them were gathered, Sirius included, his father addressed them. “Hadrian,” he began, “three days from now, you’re going to start Hogwarts. Now, your mother and I have been discussing and we have concluded that we would like to accompany you on your first day. Not just driving you to King’s Cross, but also boarding the Hogwarts Express with you and attending the sorting ceremony with you. What do you say, son? Would you like that?”

Hadrian couldn’t believe his ears. “I would love it,” he smiled. “But is there any particular reason you want to do it? I mean, I know that you’ve been driving me to A-levels and university for the most part, but you never once went inside the school itself.”

“That’s because there wasn’t any special opening start-of-term ceremony involved beyond an opening speech and a few announcements,” said his mother. “This time, there’s a sorting, which is an important part of every first-year student that goes to Hogwarts and we, as your parents, want to witness such an important moment and because … your father and I would like to see the school in person, together with all the teachers,” she admitted.

“And let’s not forget that your soulmate is currently there as well, possessing another person, but we could still meet our son-in-law indirectly,” added his father.

He laughed with mirth. “That definitely sounds like you two,” he said.

“However, we don’t know if we can just appear there unannounced, so we would like you, Severus,” she turned to the man in question, “to speak with either the Headmaster or the Deputy Headmistress and arrange it so we can accompany our son on his first day of school.”

“I will do my best,” he drawled, “but I can’t say it will be possible.”

“If we need to pay for our train tickets and an entrance fee, then tell them we will do so,” said his father.

“And will it only be you two or do you intend to bring more people with you?” he inquired, looking at Sirius from the corner of his eyes.

“In terms of people, there will be my husband,” his mother enumerated, “me, Hadrian’s godfather, Remus as another wizard and of course Angus as our lawyer. So, five extra people in total.”

“On Hadrian’s side,” specified James. “Add two more people on Hermione’s side, because both John and his wife expressed the desire to accompany their daughter on her first school day as well, when we spoke with them over the phone.”

“I will see what I can do,” he told them.

His parents thanked him in advance.

“Now,” continued his father, “moving onto the other reason for this ‘meeting’, we would like to ask both of you,” he referred to Sirius and Severus, “to tell us if and where Hadrian’s biological parents are buried.”

Hadrian, much like his godfather and professor, was slightly confused as to why his parents would need that information. It would be nice to know that information and maybe visit the graves every once in a while, but outside of that, there was not much reason to know such information. His eyes suddenly widened in realisation … unless …

“They are buried in the graveyard of Godric’s Hollow,” said Severus carefully.

“Why do you ask?” wanted to know Sirius, suspicious of James’ intentions.

“Well, to visit them, of course, and thank them for giving birth to our son,” said his father as if it was obvious. “After that, we will borrow their corpses from the tombs and transfer them to our lab and collect their DNA samples. Just because they’re dead doesn’t mean they can’t contribute to our genetic research of wizards,” he added in a deadpan tone.

“Or we could just transfer them to the Porter Family crypt,” proposed his mother. “We’ll commission an identical tombstone as the one in Godric’s Hollow so no one will suspect anything.”

I thought so,’ thought Hadrian, while Severus and Sirius looked slightly horrified.

“Don’t worry,” he assured them, after noticing their expressions of concern, “we will treat their remains with a lot of care and respect, but we need more samples for our wizard genetic research and it would be a waste not to take advantage of the well-preserved DNA in their bones.”

“And when exactly do you intend to …” Sirius cleared his throat, “excavate their remains?”

“The sooner, the better,” he said. “Although DNA doesn’t decompose quickly, the fresher the sample, the more accurate and better the results.”

There was a beat of silence.

“I will accompany you to where James and Lily are buried,” said Sirius solemnly after what felt like an eternity. “Just make sure that you don’t desecrate anything.”

“You have our word, Sirius,” assured him his father.

Sirius and Severus still looked reluctant about it, but he supposed that, as long as neither of the corpses were profaned during the excavation, transfer and sample extraction, they weren’t strongly opposed to the procedure.

The visit to Godric’s Hollow and its graveyard happened the next day.

They arrived when it was starting to darken and there weren’t any people visiting the graves of their loved ones.

After taking a moment to pay respects to Hadrian’s biological parents and report on the well-being, development and achievements of their son, Vivian and James ended their speech to the Potters with an apology for intruding upon their rest and an explicit solicitation of permission to open their graves and use their remains for scientific research of magic. It wasn’t as though they would receive an answer, but it seemed courteous to ask them regardless, before they started taking pictures of the tombstone and digging.

Since Sirius couldn’t stomach the thought of digging up the corpse of his best friend and his wife, James, Vivian and Hadrian did most of the work.

“Good evening, James,” greeted James through his face mask, when he opened the casket directly under James’ name on the tombstone, and came face to face with the relatively well-preserved human skeleton. “I must say that for a decade-old corpse, you look splendid.”

He gently wrapped him in a large cloth and slowly pulled him out of the casket and into another box. He did the same with Lily’s skeleton … even the compliment. “Ma’am, you look as stunning as your husband,” he said. “I hope you don’t mind me touching you.”

When both corpses were secured in the open cargo area of their four-seat pickup truck, stationed near the cemetery, and the grave looked undisturbed, courtesy of Sirius and his magic, James, Vivian and Hadrian took off their coats, masks, goggles and gloves.

They were about to leave, when Vivian suggested they visit the house where Hadrian was born … or at least what remained of it.

On their way there, they saw a statue, an obelisk, at the centre of the village, which quickly shifted to a statue of a family: father, mother and an infant.

“Are those James, Lily and baby Hadrian?” inquired Vivian.

“I suppose,” said Sirius absent-mindedly, too caught in gazing at the stone carving of his friend’s content face and his happy infant godson. “It’s my first time seeing the memorial.”

James studied the resemblance between himself and Hadrian’s biological father. “What do you say, Vivi?” he called with an arm wrapped around James Potter’s stone shoulders, much like the statue had its arm draped over Lily’s shoulder. “Do we look like twins?”

She let out a sigh; an amused smile on her lips. “You know you do.”

“What do you say we take a picture?” he suggested excitedly. “You know … to commemorate this occasion, maybe we could even try to recreate the pose.”

“Oh my God, James,” she complained, pinching the bridge of her nose, but ended up going along with her husband.

Unfortunately, James had to do quite a bit of adjusting through Lucky’s programme for the phone camera to capture the family statue and not the obelisk, but once he had the right settings in place, they took plenty of pictures.

Once they had enough of those, they walked to the ruins of what was once known as the Potter Cottage and noticed it was warded off with signs.

“I get why they would like to conserve the place like this to show the devastation that happened that night and keep it as a sort of museum site, but this is still private property, why are they treating it like a public tourist site?” commented James. “I mean, what if Hadrian decides that he wants to reconstruct the cottage or build a new house altogether, what then? Are they going to say that he isn’t allowed to build on his own property or what?” he sounded indignant.

Vivian heaved a sigh. “Darling, I’m sure that, if Hadrian decides to do something with this place, he’ll get the papers in order and no village chief will be able to say anything to him,” she reasoned.

“True,” he agreed, “but you never know.”

She turned to Sirius, who was very quiet, and noticed his pale visage and agitated breathing. “Sirius,” she called concerned, “are you okay?” Hadrian and James turned their attention to Sirius as well and were immediately by his side.

Sirius shook his head, caught in the flashbacks of that night.

“Would you like to leave?” asked James softly, a comforting hand on Sirius’ back. Unable to speak, he nodded and squeezed his eyes shut. “Then let’s go,” he said and all three of them led him away and towards the pickup truck.

After all, they already had what they came there for in the first place.

At home, they had guards carefully transport the boxes to the laboratory. Sirius, still affected by the excursion, simply retired to his room.

As James and Vivian opened the boxes, James welcomed the corpses to their house. “James, Lily,” he said solemnly, “we have arrived at the Porter Manor, more specifically the laboratory. I hope you will enjoy your stay here, until we transfer you to your new resting place at the family crypt. You will get a new tombstone,” he was explaining to the skeletons as they put them on the metal post mortem tables, “this time with a very nice and elegant gold lettering, and new caskets, although cremation is always an option too, I suppose. It saves time, space and money, and after you’ve been cremated, we can mix your ashes together and bury you in the same jar. I know that Vivi and I want to be together, even in death.” He looked at her. “Isn’t that right, Vivi?”

“Aha,” she murmured, grinning in amusement.

Hadrian rolled his eyes and heaved a sigh at his father’s antics.

“Now, you’re probably wondering what exactly we’ll do with your DNA,” he continued talking as he was collecting the said sample from James’ corpse and Vivian was collecting the sample from Lily’s corpse. “Apart from using it for several experiments concerning the nature of wizards, in case your wizard gene proves to be functioning, Vivi and I intend to modify ourselves genetically into wizards using your and your wife’s wizard gene.”

Hadrian gawked at his parents. “What?” he breathed. His mother and father looked at him with loving gazes.

“Son,” began James, his voice muffled by the mask, “as non-magical people, your mother and I can’t really do much for you in the wizarding world. Because, unlike here, where we hold the power, the resources and the money to move everything however we please, in the wizarding world we are nobodies. We can’t even be your legal guardians. We have to rely on your godfather for that and if we hadn’t managed to free him before September, the rights to decide for you would go to Dumbledore, and you know that the first thing that man would have done is take you away from us and place you with the same people who left you at the orphanage.”

Hadrian swallowed thick. He was well aware of what happened between the Headmaster and his father and he didn’t even want to think about the possibility of being separated from his parents and forced to live with people he didn’t know and who didn’t even care about him.

“It’s not like your father and I will modify ourselves as soon as the sequencing results are in,” explained Vivian. “And when we do go through the procedure, we will still be Vivian and James Porter. Our parents will still be our parents; the only difference will be that, when we take a test at Gringotts, it will says that we are magical, with the blood statuses of your parents, and we will be able to do magic … just like you. Just like Hermione, Sirius, Severus and Remus.”

“We won’t abandon our private and public family business or current research,” assured him James. “We will still work tirelessly on recreating magic through non-magical technology and science. However, by being wizards, albeit artificial, we can expand our influence there as well. Remember that, on paper, I am Lord Gryffindor-Potter.”

“I believe it was Lord Potter-Gryffindor,” his mother corrected him in a teasing tone.

“Eh,” he waved his gloved hand dismissively, “Gryffindor-Potter or Potter-Gryffindor, to me, it’s the same shit.”

Vivian and Hadrian giggled. “Yes, father, I remember that.” He nodded. “You were very disappointed when nothing happened.”

“Well, once I become a wizard, I will be able to claim the Lordships, the money, the properties, the seats in the Wizengamot and so on and so forth,” he said excitedly. “And with all that prestige, power and influence that comes with your paternal side of the family, we can start controlling the magical world bit by bit, until we have the same kind of status as we have here.”

Hadrian grinned wickedly. “And when exactly do you intend to do the modification?”

They sighed. “Difficult to say,” said his father. “But definitely not during your first year.”

“First we need to really understand how the gene works,” said his mother, “we need to observe the individual differences and common characteristics, what activates it, what inhibits it, the mutations that occur across generations, how the gene gets passed on when both parents are magical as opposed to only one parent, etc. Therefore, once we have everything figured out and we have tested and confirmed our theories and hypotheses, that is when we will be ready to undergo the modification process, not sooner or we risk complications.”

“And will you keep my biological parents’ remains here until then?” he asked, grimacing sceptically.

“Of course not,” said his mother. “Once we have the sequence in our database and we’ve successfully managed to identify, replicate and synthesise the triple helix, the corresponding proteins and enzymes, the two unknown extra base pairs and whatnot using our simulation programme, we won’t really need the actual samples, so we will bury your parents by the end of the first week in September. Unless, of course, you would like to spend more time with them.”

“No,” he shook his head, “it’s fine. A week is more than enough.” His biological parents deserved to rest in a crypt either in a casket, embalmed, or in a cremation urn, not in a laboratory.

The day before September 1st, Severus reported that Minerva and Dumbledore have begrudgingly agreed to let them attend the start-of-term feast and the sorting ceremony and came delivering seven extra tickets.

“Do we need to pay for anything?” asked James.

“Yes, you’ll pay 42 galleons for all the tickets, no extra fees at Hogwarts, unless you want to make a generous donation and gain a spot on the Board of Governors and gain some control over what goes on at the school,” he said casually.

James’ eyes sparkled with excitement, and then turned calculative and wicked, as all sorts of machinations started to form in his mind with this sort of information. Hadrian simply sighed, smiling fondly at his father.

As a way to celebrate the good news, his father insisted that Severus remain for dinner, something Hadrian decided to take advantage of to force Severus and Sirius to interact with one another. Because enough was enough. He was done with his godfather’s avoidance of Severus and he was done with his professor being so negative about everything.

Of course, he wasn’t delusional and naïve enough to believe one night could make a significant difference, but the two men needed a push and a starting point and he was going to give them both, together with his parents and Hermione, who had recently become obsessed with gay literature and art in all forms.

Once Angus arrived to the party and started mingling with the rest, he also noticed that Remus seemed flustered in his presence and that he spent quite a bit of time observing him when the man’s attention was elsewhere.

Hadrian squinted in thought. Was that a recent phenomenon? It must have been, because it was barely a fortnight since Remus became part of the guard and, in that time, Angus visited the house a handful of times at most. ‘Well,’ he thought as he watched them from his place on the sofa, sipping his hot chocolate and nibbling a chocolate chip biscuit, ‘at least they seemed to be talking; something Severus and Sirius should be doing too, but are too stubborn to do.’

The sofa dipped slightly on his right. It was Hermione. “What are you doing?” she inquired just before she bit into her cream puff.

“I’m surveying what goes on in front of me,” he responded in a deadpan voice.

“And?” she mumbled. “What are some of your conclusions?”

“Remus is interested in our family lawyer,” he whispered, leaning sideways to her.

She muffled her excited squeal.

“However, Angus doesn’t seem to be as interested as Remus, at least not right now. As a matter of fact, I don’t think he even realises that Remus is interested,” he added, which elicited a disappointed sigh.

“First, your godfather and our professor, and now, these two. Why can’t they all just start kissing and having sex? Why do they have to make it so complicated?” she wondered.

He sent a blank look her way. “You watch and read too much gay fiction.”

She gasped in indignation. “I do not,” she whispered. “If anything, you read too little romance. You have no clue how to be romantic. You talk about wooing your soulmate, but your ideas revolve around all the usual things you do: research, paintball, training, and an occasional trip or board game. How is that romantic?”

“I’ll have you know that science can be very romantic,” he said haughtily. “Just look at my parents. They are super corny with each other.”

“Yeah,” she breathed, “I wonder what kind of scientific pick-up lines your father used on her.”

“Who says he needed pick-up lines,” he deadpanned. “I imagine discussions about world domination by combining their fields of research was enough to make them all hot and bothered for each other.” He took another sip.

Hermione looked like she was considering that kind of scenario. “True,” she ended up agreeing. “Makes me wonder if discussions about dental medicine can have erotic undertones as well.”

“Oh, most definitely. Just imagine your parents meeting up at a hotel to study for a practical exam and they decide to take a more …” he cupped his mouth, leaned closer and whispered playfully, “hands-on approach, or should I say … mouths-on. You know … because they are dentists and they were examining each other’s mouths very thoroughly to see if there was any plaque on their teeth and tongues.”

Hermione blushed furiously and buried her face in her hands. “Oh my God,” she squealed, mortified, while Hadrian giggled impishly. “Now I won’t be able to get that image out of my head.”

“You wanted to know how dental medicine could be erotic; I just provided a possible scenario,” he said innocently, shrugging.

They spent the rest of the evening plotting how they were going to get Sirius and Severus, and Remus and Angus together … with little immediate success, but they have managed to come up with a few scenarios for the two couples to interact.

1 September 2011, King’s Cross, platform 9 ¾, fifteen minutes before departure

Hadrian expected the stares and whispered comments. Not only because of how much his parents resembled his biological parents, and people thought they were his dead parents, who came to life or something, but also because, instead of saying good-bye to him, they boarded the train with him. Add to that Hermione’s parents and the little delegation on his side featuring Sirius, Remus, and Angus, and they were going to be the talk of the school before the school year officially even began.

Not that he particularly minded, in fact he revelled in the dumbfounded faces and looks of envy from others and felt even warmer on the inside when he encompassed the compartment and saw his loved ones accompanying him to school. He might be a genius and a university student, but he was still his parents’ kid and what child wouldn’t be happy to have their parents close when travelling cross-country to attend a school.

Since the ride to Hogwarts lasted for several hours, they made sure to pack lots of water and some healthy boxed lunches, prepared by Happy, because apparently there were only sweets on the train, and games, to pass the time.

When the woman with the trolley full of candy came by, they bought a few samples of each candy for tasting purposes, from which Chocoballs and Fizzing Whizzbees ended up becoming Hadrian’s favourites, while Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans his least favourite candy. When he was lucky enough to get a good flavour they were really tasty and good, but he would have appreciated a cheat sheet so he could only pick the good ones and leave the nasty ones for other people. Better yet, they could have separated the nice flavours from foul ones, that way those masochistic enough to subject themselves to vomit, soap, rotten egg, dirt, earwax, snot, and other similar flavours, could enjoy them.

Even with all the board and card games they brought with them, the adults ended up taking a nap shortly after eating their lunches. Hadrian and Hermione stayed awake for a little longer and were blessed with the sight of Remus resting his head against Angus’ shoulder.

“Oh my God, Vivi, look!” gasped his father excitedly, when they got off the train at Hogsmeade station and the children gathered around the man with a booming voice. “A giant … or at least part giant.” He turned to her. “Which parent do you think was the giant? And do you think he was conceived through sexual intercourse?”

“For crying out loud, darling, why do you even want to know that?” she whispered exasperatedly.

“Because, Vivi, I’m trying to imagine the logistics of sex between a giant and a human and no matter which way I am trying to imagine, my brain can’t exactly compute the image, without turning out bizarre or gruesome,” he explained. “For example, if the father is the giant and the mother human, that man would have destroyed that woman’s uterus and vagina with his giant dick, and the poor woman probably wouldn’t have survived childbirth either. On the other hand, if the mother is the giant and the father human, would the woman even feel the man’s dick inside her when her vagina was probably several times bigger than the man’s dick. I don’t think it provided much sexual pleasure, if any at all.”

She covered her face with a hand, closing her eyes in mortification.

“Once dinner starts, I’m going to ask him about it,” he announced confidently.

She looked alarmed at him. “Don’t you dare,” she whispered. “Do you want them to kick us out for asking personal questions of delicate nature?”

“And if I don’t get a conclusive answer, I will be thinking about it, trying to understand,” he returned.

She sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose. “Fine, just be tactful about it.”

“What do you mean?” he huffed in mock indignation. “I’m always tactful.”

She sent a blank look his way. “Just make sure that you don’t end up insulting your future son-in-law accidentally or anyone else for that matter. You already have a history with the Headmaster, don’t make it worse.”

As the first years followed the tall man, Severus came to collect the adults and escort them to the castle with carriages pulled by skeletal looking black horses or at least horse-like creatures. Since only four people fit per carriage, they had to split in half. To prevent Sirius from escaping Severus’ company, the Grangers and the Porters decided to sit together, leaving Angus, Remus, Sirius and Severus to ride in another carriage.

It was fascinating what curiosity could make someone do … even a Dark Lord such as himself.

During these past couple of weeks, he heard a lot about Harry Potter, or rather Hadrian Porter, things that made him curious to see the boy himself.

For example, the boy would not have to board at Hogwarts, because he was also studying at a muggle university. ‘Seriously,’ he scoffed mentally as soon as he heard it, ‘as if eleven-year-olds went to universities.’ However, apparently, he was a genius and he was already preparing for his second year of university studies. Because of that, his schedule was also flexible. He was allowed to skip certain lessons if they overlapped with important lectures and seminars at the university.

A couple of days ago, the boy was given special treatment again, this time, his parents, who were muggles, and a few other adults, again, mostly muggles, were given permission to come to Hogwarts so they could witness their son and daughter be sorted into a house.

He could understand the not-having-to-board and flexible-schedule parts of the entire arrangement for Harry, but he couldn’t understand how another student, a mudblood, was given similar treatment, simply because she was the boy’s friend and Harry’s adoptive parents expressed the desire on behalf of the girl’s parents for her not to board so she wouldn’t feel homesick.

Just who were these people? How did mere muggles manage to get all these privileges? He knew Dumbledore had muggle-loving delusions, but he doubted that even he would just succumb to wishes of this scale of a simple muggle. Something was going on; something felt off about the Porters.

For that reason, he decided to be in control of Quirrell’s body during the sorting and the feast, to see and study the boy and his adoptive parents.

When the door of the Great Hall opened, his eyes immediately went to the group of seven adults at the back of the group of first-year students. What he didn’t expect, however, was to see almost carbon copies of the two people he was certain he had killed almost a decade ago, holding hands with a boy of average height, with messy black hair, emerald-green eyes and a lightning scar on his forehead.

He had to remind himself that while they looked almost identical and their names and surnames sounded familiar, they were different people. They were muggles. Disgusting and detestable muggles. Yet … when he looked at Harry’s beaming smile and their connected hands, he couldn’t help but wonder if they truly were as despicable as he remembered muggles being.

He focussed on the sorting and clapped politely after each student had been sorted, regardless of the house. Harry’s special muggle friend went to Gryffindor. The adults and Harry clapped the loudest and instead of immediately joining the House table, she first raced to her parents and her friend to hug them.

There were quite a few names between the letters G and P, and as he waited for McGonagall to call Potter’s name, Voldemort was certain he would fall asleep, but when the boy was called up, the hat barely touched his head, before it was announcing “SLYTHERIN!” to the entire Great Hall.

Much like his friend before him, rather than joining the Slytherin table, he ran towards his parents, who cheered and clapped, and hugged his mother, who hugged back and peppered his face with kisses, and his father, who picked him up and held him close, a proud and happy smile on his face.

Voldemort couldn’t believe it. For a moment, he thought, like everyone else it would seem, that he had somehow misheard the sorting hat. Because it just didn’t make sense. The boy was a Slytherin? Not a Gryffindor like his parents? How was that possible? Wasn’t he Dumbledore’s Golden Boy? The boy who would defeat him to bring peace to the magical world?

Unless …

A terrifying thought occurred to him. What if the boy wasn’t destined to vanquish him to bring peace, but rather replace him as the next Dark Lord? What if the boy was meant to dethrone him?

As he gazed upon Harry’s happy, angelic face, he didn’t know which was worse: the boy being the beacon of light and hope for Dumbledore’s Order or the boy dominating and overpowering him in any kind of way.