A/N: I realize this story is labeled A/U, but since nothing in here really contradicts canon, I'd like for you to suspend your disbelief for just a little while, and enjoy the ride. And many thanks to Annika for the great beta and for helping me out with other things.
revelatio—Latin, meaning ‘to draw back the veil'.
In the summer of 1995, Doris Purkiss gave an interview to The Quibbler (not the most reputable magazine, but still a rather well read one) claiming that Sirius Black, notorious Azkaban escapee, was really the long retired and reclusive singer of The Hobgoblins, Stubby Boardman.
What do you know? She was right.
Well, not quite right. If you want to be accurate, Stubby Boardman was my creation, not the other way around.
When you get blasted through the veil by your cousin with suspect morals and wake up in 1978 with only your wand and a small hand mirror in your pocket, you do whatever you can in order to adapt and save your sorry arse. And when your thirty-six year old self barely resembles the eighteen year old you were at that time, it makes things just a bit easier. Azkaban changes a man in many ways, the least of them physically.
Merlin, The Hobgoblins, that was a trip. Like so many of the older pureblood families, I was forced into taking piano lessons as a boy, in the hopes that I would grow up to be a cultured Death Eater (and we all know how that turned out). In any case, that talent eventually came in handy. I'd been working in a bookstore in Woodstock, and a few local men and I ended up starting a band. Somehow I got roped into singing. The idea that I have the best voice out of all of them is more than slightly frightening.
We stuck to playing small venues mostly. Fame was never really the goal of The Hobgoblins; we just wanted to play. I found that donning a pair of glasses and letting my still long hair stay in my face worked wonders as a disguise. Stubby Boardman (I had actually started out as Jack Boardman, but somehow beyond my comprehension I ended up with the nickname of Stubby) became a little infamous in his own right.
It was a good couple of years, more recovery time than anything else. After spending three years constantly on the run, trying to protect Harry, and then railing at the confinement of Grimmauld Place, I hadn't taken the time to really process everything that had happened to me. My head was a scary place for a couple of years, but at the end of it, I was better than I had been for a long time. And please, no comments about avoiding my duties and not trying to save my friends by getting the chance to be blasted back into the past. I did my studying on time travel and related paradoxes. As much as it pained me, unless I wanted to really bugger things up very badly, I couldn't change a thing. I had to sit there and watch as everything played out as it had the time before, and know that I couldn't do a damn thing about it.
Because of that, though, I knew I had to remove myself from the scene before everything went bad. Oddly enough, a turnip in the ear at the Little Norton Church Fair gave me just the right prompting to invoke the rock star attitude and proclaim my retirement then and there. I'd moved into the heart of Somerset, in yet another tiny village, and settled in to lead a quiet life (at least for the next sixteen years, knowing what awaited my younger self).
Shocker of all shocks, while we were out doing our church hall tours, I met a girl. Dairine Callahan was a fellow musician, although a hell of a lot better than I ever was. She was (and this is by her own admission as well, so I can say this) rather shit at magic though. According to the maths, she'd have been six years ahead of me at Hogwarts, but since I don't remember any major mishaps being related to her I guess that's a sign she's not truly terrible. The personality that matches her wild red hair always made for an interesting time. When I left for Somerset, she came with me.
So what does every washed up rock star do? They retire and open a bar. A few months after I'd bailed two band mates followed, Owen Glendower and Ross McKinney. We bought an old wizarding pub in Wells from a wizard who was all too ready to give it up and retire to Greece. Wells was mostly Muggle, even though there was a decent sized wizarding population. Most wizards settled in nearby Glastonbury, where if they accidentally slipped up and showed their magic to Muggles, they probably wouldn't even blink, just think it was part of every day life. Even more surprising was that with the exception of Voldemort and all of his terror, the years were quiet.
Dairine and I married in March of 1982, and three years later we had a son, Alexander James Boardman. I know, it's the strangest thing. I had never expected any of this out of life, especially after breaking out of Azkaban, but then it just happened. And I wasn't going to take it for granted.
I watched my son grow up, taking note of every single little thing I had missed with Harry. This time it was different, though. Alec was mine, not just my godson (this is nothing against Harry, but I learned that there's one blood tie in life that does matter). I saw his first smile, first step, first word, first loose tooth, first day at school (Dairine, her father having been a Muggle, wanted Alec to have his grounding in a Muggle primary school), first solo broomstick flight...
And ten years just flew by.
They were ten rather quiet years. Working in the pub, especially after it became relatively successful, gave me enough time to take the day to help raise Alec. I now know the ins and outs of every playground in town.
Dairine, a workaholic at heart, worked a hell of a lot more than I did. Taking it upon herself to resurrect the town Chorus, she spent much time on that. This was on top of her teaching music at the local schools and giving piano lessons at home. Our marriage survived this, thought not without our battles. We've both learned that we each need freedom, and that sometimes Dairine just breathes music above all else. I might not care for it, but what can I do about it?
Eventually Dairine's mother came over from Ireland and moved in with us. Una Callahan is a lovely and vibrant woman who is infinitely nicer and more caring than my birth mother (the wretch). Over the years I've come to adopt her as my own mother, much to the delight of Owen and Ross, who get such pleasure out of teasing me about that relationship. They're just jealous because their mothers-in-law act like they could be related to harpies.
So in an old stone house with a rather impressive garden (courtesy of Una) on the outskirts of Wells lived four people, one of whom, while hiding an unbelievable and improbable secret, managed to live a life and bide his time for eighteen years.
It was the summer of 1995. Alec had just finished school, and so we decided to have a boys' day out: a lot of Quidditch and sandwiches we had begged Dairine to make for us. By midday we had collapsed under a tree, the sun was high and hot, and our stomachs were growling for some food. We'd picked up a newspaper before heading out to the field, and I was reading while eating. Buried on one of the back pages was a laughable article speaking of a sighting of Sirius Black in Iceland, according to one Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Alec heard my chuckles and leaned over to see what I was laughing at. "Why is that so funny?" I remembered when I had first escaped (these tenses are going to be the death of me...) the utter and total panic Dairine had felt, remembering all too well what had happened twelve years ago. I said that Sirius Black has absolutely no clue who we are or any reason to come after us, so as long as we told Alec to be wary of strangers, especially those who look like they've been living in a dustbin for the past ten years, we should be fine. I've got intimate knowledge of the inner workings of my mind, you know.
Maybe, somewhere deep inside me, the desire to have Alec know something about who I really was was so strong at that moment that I said what I said. If I had kept my mouth shut things might have been just a little easier. But I said to Alec, "Well, what if we were all wrong? What if this guy was really innocent?"
Alec looked at me skeptically. "I think a lot of people would say you were utterly mental, and then I'd have to go around telling people you escaped from St. Mungo's."
Such a charming son I've got. That stubborn little part of me couldn't stop speaking though. "But really, what if Sirius Black were framed? What if, I don't know, one of the people he's said to have killed framed him and got away, going into hiding all these years?" Alec still looked like he was about to call the mental specialists, so I winked, letting him know I was joking (supposedly). "What if I told you I was really Sirius Black, escaped from Azkaban, and living as Stubby Boardman for all these years?"
Again, with that skeptical look. "You're too old, Dad." Gee, thanks son. "Besides, I know when you're telling stories, even whoppers such as that."
"Can't fool you, can I?" I grinned. Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a woman standing stock still looking like she had just heard something utterly life changing. Of course. Of course someone would eavesdrop and think what I was saying was the honest truth. I didn't even look like I had at that time; my hair was a good deal shorter (although not that short, there are some habits that are hard to get rid of) and age had truly caught up to me in the form of frequently worn reading glasses. But Doris Purkiss, as I found out when I excused myself to supposedly find a nice tree to relieve myself behind, was not the brightest spark in the bunch. She was known as a local character, and for telling some tales that are tall even for wizards.
I'd attempted to put a memory charm on her, but in my agitation it didn't work as well as I'd hoped, as I found out when that damn Quibbler article was published. Luckily no one aside from the publisher believed her, and we all had a good laugh over it (and told the reporter who came to our door to go hunt down a real news story).
Finally, a year after that, it was the night of the Ministry battle, the moment I had been awaiting all these years. I was antsy the entire day, as if someone were going to jump out from the woodwork and hold me at wandpoint. I stayed at the pub until late, hiding in the office with a glass of Jameson's. The moment it happened, when my younger self got blasted through the veil, it was almost as if there was an audible click. Maybe there was even a slight surge in power, as if I was fully coming back to myself after being spread and stretched too thin for years, but I'm not sure.
Eventually I flooed home, far too late and reeking of pub smoke. I showered, maybe attempting to wash away fifty-four years of history and life. I crawled into our big bed, inadvertently waking Dairine, who rolled over and wrapped her arms around my neck.
"You feeling any better?" she murmured, and I wished I could just tell her everything. She might think I was truly mental, but she'd still be with me.
"I feel…strange," I finally sighed.
"Strange?" she queried, settling against me.
"Yes. It's not quite explainable."
"Well, you've always been a bit of a strange one," Dairine said with a quirky grin.
"Thanks, I think."
She leaned forward and kissed me quickly. "I'd not be with you if I didn't find you absolutely fascinating and an all around worthwhile person."
And that made me feel just a little bit better. If at least one person felt my sorry arse was worth something, anything…it was all right that I had survived.
That Sunday all of the details broke in the Prophet, with one exception. There was Fudge's statement that Voldemort had returned (took the daft dolt long enough to admit it), the details of the battle in the Ministry, the ‘exclusive' interview with Harry Potter, but absolutely no mention at all of the ‘death' of one Sirius Black. Dairine, Una, and Alec had the paper spread out on the floor of the parlor and were devouring it. I made myself comfortable, wrapping an arm around Dairine's waist as a way to possibly comfort myself. It's hard to read about something that takes place after you supposedly died.
"Horrible, absolutely horrible," Una said, using her fingers to trace along the words.
"I knew it was too good to be true," Dairine murmured, sipping from her tea. "I remember last time everyone thought You-Know-Who had died, but there were always the rumors going around that he wasn't dead, just out of the picture for a while."
"Does this mean I won't be able to go to Hogwarts?" Alec asked. He hadn't gotten his letter yet, but he was already showing signs of some strong magic, so it was really just a matter of waiting for the letter to come.
"I think you'll probably be safer at Hogwarts than anywhere else," I put in, leaning over to get a better look at a blurry shot of Harry in the paper. It really wasn't a good likeness of him.
"Just as long as you don't end up in Slytherin," Dairine commented, and I nodded wholeheartedly. We were both Gryffindors in our time. However, Una huffed and rolled her eyes.
"I swear, the two of you are so close-minded sometimes," she grumbled. Dairine and I shrugged. She was a Hufflepuff; she didn't understand the Gryffindor mindset. I winked at Alec and mouthed ‘Go Gryffindor.' Unfortunately Una noticed, because I soon felt the back of her hand whacking the back of my head. "Don't encourage him, Jack." Yes, I know I should be happy no matter what house Alec ends up in…but still! He should keep up the new family tradition and be the next in a hopefully long line of Gryffindors. Anyone who says differently will get hexed.
A little over a month later Alec's Hogwarts letter arrived, sending him screaming through the house at the top of his lungs. Hugs were passed all around and plans were made to go to Diagon Alley for supply shopping. The looks I got when I said I wasn't going to be able to go with them would have been enough to really put me in the ground for good, but I just couldn't bring myself to go there. I'd only been there a handful of times in the last eighteen years, and only in the winter when it was okay to be almost completely wrapped up and covered. And with what just happened in the world, Diagon Alley was probably the last place I should be. I know Alec and Dairine were hurt, and thinking I was a right git, but maybe when the right time comes, when I could possibly tell them everything, they would understand.
When they went to Diagon Alley, I went to the pub, hid myself in the office behind a locked door, and did something I hadn't done for a very long time: changed into Padfoot. There'd been hardly any chance to use him, and even less cause to escape into that form for many years, so I hadn't transformed since those first couple of years when I had been tossed back. But now the emotions were just starting to overwhelm so much, everything with Alec and Dairine and Harry and Voldemort, it was easier to take refuge as Padfoot, and just curl up into a little ball.
I spent that day thinking of the possibility of going back. What if I were to return to the Order, tell them my improbable story, and then try to do whatever I could? Voldemort was back, endangering just about everything out there. Dairine was in danger, her father being an ordinary Muggle, and Alec was in danger just for being our child. He may be safe at Hogwarts, but what if he's got nothing to come home to, what would that do to him?
The desire to get Bellatrix is strong as well. As much as I'd like to see her tossed into Azkaban forever, or even possibly Kissed, I'm not above a little torture for her either. It'd make me feel better at least. Although, maybe I should send her a thank you note first. If it weren't for her little move I wouldn't have Alec or Dairine most likely. I wouldn't have had a chance to have a life. She still deserves to get it in the arse though.
And Harry. I can only imagine what's running through his head right now, dealing with losing probably the closest thing he's had to a family member (at least that's what I consider him). He is my godson, and I have a responsibility to him. I know, in some visceral way, that he's going to have to be the one to take down Voldemort once and for all. He's going to need all the support possible, and maybe the support of a semi-parental figure would make a difference (I've learned a great deal about being the father to a son over the past eleven years).
That clinched it. I think I needed my godson just as much as he was probably going to need me. I wanted him to know he could count on me no matter what to back him up in whatever he decided, whether it be to fight or run away. I'd bet more on fight though. He is his father's son. That's what love does, I guess. It makes you put yourself in danger in order to save the ones you care for, godson, wife, son, and everyone else.
I wasn't sure how I was going to reach out to Harry, or how to get him to believe me. I had my half of the two-way mirrors James and I shared, and there was always the post. And God help me if doing this sends the rest of the world crashing down around me. But I've got to try. There's nothing else to do.
A/N: My undying thanks to my beta readers, Aureus Flosculus, and, of course, my partner in fic-crime Jeri. *mwah!*