The young wizard stood silently in the common room of Gryffindor Tower. The books don't do this place justice! he thought to himself. Around him, he could see various students going about their routine, some gathering books, others studying, still others playing Exploding Snap. Some, like Neville Longbottom and that special trio, he recognized. Others he had more difficulty placing. Many of these students probably died before I was born. He reflected. After a few moments, his eyes wandered up to Gryffindor's picture, and down around the stairway to the boys' dormitory. After a moment, he stepped further into the room and was nearly bowled over by a wizard who seemed to have no eyebrows.
"Hello," the young man said, "I'm Dean Thomas. You new here?"
"Yes. My name is Arthur. Pleasure," he said, holding out his hand. The other boy didn't seem to pick up on his not having provided a last name, and shook hands readily.
"Have you met anyone else yet?" Dean asked. Arthur shook his head. "Can't have that can we? Oi, everyone!" Dean yelled, missing the particularly horrified look on the other boy's face.
"This is Arthur. He's new," Dean said.
"H-Hi," was all Arthur said, before greetings began to overwhelm him. The trio was the last to greet him.
"Hello, I'm Hermione Granger. Pleasure," Hermione said, as Ron said "Hi, I'm Ron Weasley." Harry rolled his eyes.
"I'm Harry," was all Harry said, extending his hand.
"Good to meet you lot," Arthur said slowly, running a hand through his wild brown hair.
"D'you know you'll be--" Harry began before Ron cut him off unceremoniously.
"Lay off Harry! Are you hungry Arthur?" Ron asked, with a faintly hopeful look toward the Great Hall.
"Yes, I think so," Arthur replied. With that, the four began to walk toward the Great Hall, Ron and Harry talking to Arthur, while Arthur mumbled one or two word answers. They'll think I'm mental, Arthur thought angrily at himself.
"Arthur? Are you all right?" Hermione asked. Arthur started, and jerked himself back to the present.
"Sorry?" he asked.
"We wondered as to the type of wand you have?" Hermione repeated.
"Oh. Holly and Phoenix feather, eleven inches."
"Blimey! That's just like Harry's wand!" Ron exclaimed, causing Harry to stop and whirl toward Arthur.
"Where did you get that wand?" Harry demanded.
"The Salem wand maker's shop," Arthur said.
"Oh," Harry said, looking somewhat embarrassed.
The rest of the trip to the Great Hall passed in silence. Eventually, the students sat down at the Gryffindor table and began to eat; the usual banter between Ron and Hermione quickly filled the silence.
"Ron! Can't you eat like a civilized human?" Hermione demanded. Arthur chuckled.
"N--" he almost answered, quickly covering it over with a cough. The trio looked at him in concern.
"Sorry," he said sheepishly.
"I am ea'chn like a ci'lized ‘uman," Ron said with his mouth full. Hermione gave him a very sour look, and he rolled his eyes.
"What's the Salem school like?" Harry asked Arthur.
"Much more secretive than this. I suppose there's no real need for it anymore, but history dies hard," Arthur replied.
"D'you like Quidditch?" Ron wanted to know.
"What's that?" Arthur asked. Harry dropped his fork, and Ron nearly fell backwards out of his chair. He had a very serious look on his face, when he got back up.
"Quid-dich." Ron pronounced very slowly, as though thinking he'd surely misheard the other boy's reply. Arthur's carefully constructed blank look nearly sent Ron into hysterics. "Bloody hell! It's our sport!" Ron said.
"Er…" was all Arthur could get out before Ron rushed on.
"Y'know, with Seekers, and Chasers, and Beaters and a Keeper. With Quaffles and Bludgers," Ron said. Arthur's face remained blank. "the Golden Snitch?" Ron said, almost pleadingly.
"Never heard of it," Arthur said solemnly.
"What do you lot bloody do?" Ron asked.
"Well, there's this game we try to get the ball through the hoops before it explodes…" Arthur began. Both Harry and Ron looked at him as though he were crazy.
"Right," said Ron crisply. "After we eat, we're going to the library."
The entire Gryffindor table went silent. Eventually, Seamus spoke.
"Was that Ron?" he asked. Hermione nodded slowly. "Blimey," Seamus replied. "That's a first."
Arthur began to dig into his shepherd's pie as the rest of Gryffindor table burst into peals of laughter. Ron just sat there, looking annoyed.
"Do you play this- what did you call it? Quidditch?" Arthur asked Ron.
"Yes. I was keeper for a while, last year. That's the bloke who protects the goals," Ron replied. Arthur nodded.
"And he was a good one," Harry said firmly. Ron flushed slightly.
"You play too then?" Arthur ventured.
"Yes. Or at least I did until that bloody woman banned me for life," Harry said, his voice growing more and more bitter with every word.
"Who?" Arthur asked carefully.
"Our former Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, Dolores Umbridge. Or, I guess you could say, the woman who occupied that post last year," Hermione explained. Before she could say anything more, Ron jumped in.
"She was a git! See, the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge, didn't want anyone believing that You-Know-Who was back. Harry tried to tell the truth, and she punished him. Actually, I think the Quidditch ban was her way of trying to show him she was better than him."
With that, Ron fell silent, and the students began eating again. Eventually, the trio got up to leave, and Arthur followed.
"To the library then," Ron said, automatically taking the lead.
"Actually, I don't think that's necessary. I've got several guidebooks to Wizard Europe. It wont take me long to read about this Quidditch thing," Arthur said, hoping to forestall what could be a several hour stint, if he read the other boys correctly.
Ron looked only slightly mollified by this revelation. "Reading is nothing like real thing. Y'might want to come to one of the games, sometime," Ron replied. Arthur took to this with real enthusiasm, which doubtless confused Ron.
"You think so? It would be ok? I mean, I'm new and all- " Arthur cut himself off before he started babbling like an idiot. The chance to see Ron Weasley and Harry Potter play Quidditch though, was something he'd dreamed of, when he was little. This is so totally excellent! he kept screaming over and over in his mind.
"You can come with us," Harry said, picking up on Arthur's enthusiasm. From that point on, Arthur seemed to become a ceaseless fountain of questions about the game, which Ron and Harry were only too happy to field. Once the group got to the tower though, Ron and Harry went off separately from Arthur and Hermione. Ah. Girl trouble, Arthur thought.
"Tell me more about this Salem school," Hermione said.
"Well, it was formed by John Winthrop, in sixteen thirty-three. Shortly after the Massachusetts colony was established. It kept a low profile during the Salem witch trials, although some of the less talented wizards and witches were killed."
"But burning a witch at the stake had no effect! We wrote a whole essay about it for charms!" Hermione protested.
"Not all of those killed were burned, Hermione. One wizard was crushed to death. Others were downed."
"But the bubblehead charm- " Hermione began.
"Eventually expires," Arthur finished. Hermione fell silent.
Suddenly, a loud explosion caught everyone by surprise. The laughter of Fred and George Weasley soon followed. Hermione glared at them.
"Come now. Just because we're back in school- " Fred began.
"Doesn't mean we can't have fun!" George finished.
"Their mother convinced them to return after they skipped out on Umbridge last year. It's their own fault if they have to repeat seventh year," Hermione said coolly. Arthur shrugged.
It wasn't long after that when Arthur decided to go to sleep. The common room had been emptying fairly steadily, and there seemed little else to do. His problem immediately became apparent.
"Harry," he called, "I've just realized I don't know where I'm to sleep."
"Upstairs, to the left," Harry replied, not looking up.
"Yes. I know that. I just have no idea where I'm supposed to sleep" Arthur tried to explain.
"What are you- oh," Harry replied, getting up and leading the other wizard to the sixth year dormitories. There, he waved his wand over his own bed, muttering a soft charm, before turning to Arthur. "If you'd expand- " Harry began, cutting off when Arthur nodded. A moment later, the dormitory had expanded by a considerable amount, and Harry recited his charm again. An exact copy, down to the wrinkles in his blanket, appeared.
"Thanks," Arthur said, waving his own wand over the newly created four-poster, conjuring up a blanket and some fresh sheets. Harry nodded, and went back down to the common room. Arthur closed his eyes, ran the fingers of his left hand over his right temple, and then drifted off to sleep.
The next morning was Sunday, so most Gryffindor students chose to relax in the common room, while others chose to study. Arthur sat in a corner reviewing his sixth year spellbooks. It wasn't long before a shadow fell across the light, startling him. In his moment of disorientation, Arthur dropped his Charms book. It landed at his feet on the floor, opening to the front cover. An inscription written in a neat script caught his eye.
"Harry," it said, "I hope this Charms book will find greater use than did the previous copy." Your friend, Remus Lupin.
For a moment, neither Arthur nor the person behind him said anything.
"I didn't know Harry was going to let you use his charms book," Hermione said. "I thought Ron had it. How are you this morning?"
Arthur's heart nearly stopped. Damn! he thought, I forgot about that inscription!
Arthur fought to control his features for a moment, eventually succeeding. Afterward he turned and smiled. "Oh. Well, I'm just borrowing it for a moment. I haven't unpacked my copy yet."
Hermione nodded and then muttered, "Excuse me," and went to yell at Fred Weasley, who was in the process of handing something to a first year. No doubt sinister, knowing the source.
Arthur snatched up his book, and quickly applied a glamour to the inside cover. In a moment, the writing disappeared; to be replaced by a similar sentiment in a choppy and uneven script, this time signed Dean Oglethorpe. After that, Arthur went up to the dormitory again, pausing for a moment to greet Ron, and make it appear he'd given something to the other boy. When he came back down, he held the newly disguised book in his hands. By this time, Hermione had rejoined Harry and Ron.
"Oi, Arthur! Ron called, waving him over. The young man sighed internally. He'd already had one close call this morning….
"Slept well, I expect?" Harry asked. Arthur nodded.
"Hermione was telling us about the Salem magic school," Harry continued. "Seems interesting."
"I suppose. Nowhere near as interesting at Hogwarts, though," Arthur countered.
"I know what you mean. I remember when I first came to Hogwarts. I'd only known I was a wizard for few days before I came to school," Harry said.
"That must have been difficult," Arthur said tactfully. Harry opened his mouth to reply, but Hermione broke in instead.
"It's not as hard as you might think. I'd only known for a few days myself. Those of us with Muggle parents don't usually know, until a few days before term starts"
Hermione turned back to Ron as Arthur nodded. "He said you let him borrow Harry's charms book for a moment," she said. Ron looked at her quizzically.
"But Hermione, I've had the book all morning. No one's borrowed it at all," Ron protested.
"But I thought I saw…but you said…" Hermione looked back at Arthur in confusion, down to the book he was holding. Internally, Arthur began to curse. I should have stayed in bed. He said nothing, as Hermione gently took the book from his hand, and opened it to the front cover. Momentarily, she looked over the sloppy inscription, and then handed it back wordlessly.
"You said you hadn't unpacked it," Hermione complained.
"I did?" Arthur asked, carefully pasting an innocent look on his face. Hermione struggled with this for a moment, before jumping to the only conclusion that seemed logical.
"FRED AND GEORGE WEASELY! HAVE YOU BEEN SABOTAGING STUDENT PROPERTY?" she yelled at the top of her lungs.
"No!" one of them said defensively.
"We'd never do a thing like that," the other one said.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at them. "Five points from Gryffindor for the sabotage, and five more for lying to a prefect," she snapped.
"But Hermione- " one of them said.
"Be glad it's all I'm taking away!" Hermione snapped. The twin sighed, and walked away.
"Honestly! The nerve of those two," Hermione ranted.
Arthur said nothing; his stomach was to busy twisting in guilt over what had just happened.
"What's your favourite subject, Arthur?" Harry asked, to deflect the attention away from Fred and George.
"Transfiguration," Arthur replied instantly.
"Our Transfiguration teacher is an Animagus," Hermione said, causing Arthur's eyes to light up.
"Minerva McGonagall?" Arthur asked. The other three students nodded.
"I like potions too. I can't wait to start that here!" Arthur said enthusiastically, causing the other three to groan out loud.
"What?" he asked.
"If you like potions now, you won't by next week," Ron replied
"Oh," was all Arthur said.
"Yeah, what a- OUCH!" Harry began, while Arthur simultaneously rubbed his own forehead, and whimpered in pain.
"What's wrong with you, Arthur?" Ron asked.
"Just- an old injury which acts up now and then," Arthur said evasively.
The group spoke of trivials for several more minutes, with no more mishaps for either Arthur or Harry. It wasn't until Fred and George instigated a mock duel that things began to go wrong. In moments, Harry's hair was blue. Hermione was covered in thick green paint, and Ron was yelling because someone had conjured a spider into his hair.
"GEORGE!" he yelled at the top of his lungs, while frantically trying to remove the offending arachnid. "You git!"
By this point, Ron was moving around the common room, trying to get at George. His movements took him into the path of Arthur, who was doing his best to stay out of the way. Unfortunately, he hadn't counted on Ginny's attempt to help her older brother.
"Finite Incantatem!" she yelled, as Ron ducked out of the way of a tickling curse. The spell hit Arthur dead in the face. Time seemed to stop as his brown hair began to darken, and his brown eyes began to shine.
"Ooooh," he said, as his eyes began to sting. When the spell had finished its work, another person stood where Arthur had been. This person had startlingly green eyes and coal black hair. In no time, all the activity in the common room ground to a halt. Everyone gaped at the changes Arthur had gone through. Eventually, Hermione spoke.
"Harry?" she asked, looking at Arthur, and then at Harry himself. Arthur's shoulders slumped.
"No," was all he said. Before he could say anything else, four wands were pointed directly at his chest.
"Who are you?" Harry demanded.
Arthur was silent for a long moment. Eventually, he replied, "My name is James. James Potter." Harry did not take this at all well.
"You're lying! That's impossible. My dad's dead!" His wand rose to the other boy's face. "Who are you, really?"
Keeping his hands well away from his wand, he replied. "My name is James Potter. The James you speak of was my grandfather. I'm James Ronald Potter. Your son."
"Prove it," Ron said before Harry could say anything. Instead of saying anything, James lifted his hair from his forehead. There, in exactly the same spot where Harry's was, was a jagged scar, vaguely shaped like a bolt of lightning.
"It passed from father to son."
"Does this mean you know about Quidditch?" Ron asked.
"Second youngest seeker in a century," James replied.
"Why are you here?" Harry said, as Ron slowly lowered his wand.
"Well, it's hard to explain. I was sent from what you'd consider the future. Several decades."
"Why are you here?" Harry asked again. James sighed.
"In a nutshell, I'm here to save all of your lives."
"But- " Ron began.
"I won't say anything else until I talk to Dumbledore." James said firmly. He then turned and marched out of the common room, with most of the other Gryffindor students trailing close behind him.