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With Anybody Else But You

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Harry never intended to become a supervillain. 

He hadn’t even heard the term until the twins snuck illicit muggle comic books into their dorm fifth year and Hermione confiscated them in an attempt to disrupt their candy experiments. Instead, the twins created a charm that formed the word “SUPERVILLAIN” above Hermione’s head in flashing letters whenever she mentioned rules, books, or Hogwarts: A History . So the sign stayed above her head near constantly for a week before either the charm faded or Fred lost interest after Hermione studiously ignored the charm. (George had asked Harry to pass along an apology after the fact, saying that they may have overreacted after being reminded of Percy’s harsh form of rule following.)

Those comic books had been enlightening for Harry. Hermione had disapproved of this new form of homework avoidance, but he, Ron, and Neville would hangout on one of their beds with the curtains closed and a Lumos , reading and laughing late into the night.

Some superheroes had powers beyond what even Harry could imagine with magic and others had no preternatural gift. Yet Harry identified with their form of vigilante justice, fighting against stacked odds and powerful supervillains only to pull through with a win at the very end. 

“This is just like you and You-Know-Who!” Ron exclaimed once after reading a page where the heroine was trapped in a pit of snakes while a scaled monster loomed in black and white over the top two-thirds of the centerfold art work. 

“Thanks, Ron.” Harry attempted to turn the page, only for Neville to hold it down.

“N-no. He didn’t mean it like—he means, look at Goldenfire’s face! She isn’t scared! She may be trapped and struggling—”

“And covered in slimy snakes,” Ron shuddered.

“And covered in snakes—you do know that snakes aren’t slimy, right?—but anyways, she’s too strong to be scared. Just like you!”

“Yeah, maybe. Thanks, Neville.”

Harry had kept that specific comic book, Goldenfire Volume 8: Burning Rage, in his nightstand drawer for years afterwards. After the Battle of Hogwarts, he had pulled it out of the drawer next to what used to be his bed in Gryffindor tower but had remained empty for that year. He hadn’t trusted it to stay intact at the Dursleys and especially not while on the run. Ron saw him shrink it and silently added a couple protection charms to prevent tearing or water damage, winked, and continued packing without a word. 

In his first flat, a dinghy one-bedroom a block from the Ministry (expanded by Hermione to have a guest bedroom and a larger living room), the first thing Harry unpacked was Volume 8, settling it safely into his brand new (well, second hand, but new to him) nightstand drawer. 

Through long nights after Auror training, when he'd lay awake listening to the emptiness of his flat, not even any sounds from the neighboring muggle thanks to Bill's hefty wards, he'd pull that comic book out and flip through the pages. He'd think nostalgically about the Gryffindor tower, about being only feet away from another sleeping, breathing human. This was his first time living alone, but he'd get used to it. Everyone had to sometime. 

Then he was finally promoted to full Auror, only to be paired with Gustavus Carrow, a weathered pureblood with more experience in accepting and giving out bribes than catching dark wizards. Ostensibly, he'd cut ties with the Death Eater side of the family; however, when Harry had requested a different partner from the Head Auror, he'd been told that Carrow had valuable knowledge to share about telling the right sort from the wrong sort. 

He spent hours following Carrow on "patrol" that consisted of toadying up with the various owners of pureblood businesses while Harry was told to stand guard against shoplifting from any of those "unscrupulous mud-er-muggleborns." (Which really meant trying not to make eye contact with any passing witches or wizards or be forced to autograph his Chocolate Frog card—a card he never authorized to be made—while making non committal sounds about whatever place of business he was in front of that day so as to not accidentally promote the stores of pureblood wankers.) 

While waiting outside an esteemed Potioneer’s store on the North end of Optim Alley, glamoured, he noticed a witch unloading something into the back of the store. After weeks of monotonous “patrolling,” Harry knew this side of the alley had designated delivery times on Wednesday and Sunday mornings. Being later in the evening on a Monday, Harry was suspicious and disillusioned himself in order to sneak closer. The bags the witch was unloading from a stained wheelbarrow were moving

Harry announced himself with a terse, “This is Auror Potter. What’s in the bag?” and immediately following up with a Stonefoot Jinx when she tried to run. Turned out the bags were full of live bowtruckles , a protected class of creature even when dead because of Scamander’s work in the 60s proving their sentience. He’d arrested the witch on the spot before sending a Patronus to Carrow saying he was taking the suspect into Holding and to bring in the Potioneer in for questioning. He hadn’t even gotten through half of the processing paperwork before a paper airplane from Head Auror Robards himself to report to his office immediately . He was grilled for hours about why he would arrest Modesty Rabnott of all people, about the reaction of her family, about how his lack of experience means he must defer to his partner Carrow before making any decisions. Harry had retorted that he had plenty of experience in taking down Dark Wizards and had the scar to prove it. 

He was suspended for a week.

By the time he came back, all paperwork that Rabnott had been brought in at all had disappeared, along with her contraband. The suspension also meant that Harry was confined to desk duty, proofreading the reports the entire Auror office for months. 

At night, lights dimmed from his seemingly perpetual headache, Harry would open Volume 8 to that centerfold drawing. He’d trace the inky blackness of the creature dominating the page and wonder when the monster had stopped being obvious. 

Harry considered quitting. He considered setting fire to the Ministry. He considered hunting down Rabnott on his own. But he had already killed the Dark Lord, what more could he do? Maybe this was just what adulthood was supposed to be. 

Then Andromeda died. 

Harry could cook and clean, many thanks to his relatives. However that did not always translate to taking care of himself, let alone a small human child pushed into his arms in the St. Mungo’s waiting room. 

Ginny moved in with him. She didn’t ask, she simply showed up one day at the doorway with her luggage and a copy of her team’s schedule which she Spell-o-taped to his fridge with game days. 

Instead of quitting, Harry requested a transfer to the Archives where he could have regular hours. Robards had made a show of what a shame it would be to lose such talent in the Auror force and how he’d have a spot waiting whenever he wanted to come back, but Harry could see the relief in his eyes. 

Through sheer force of will and even less sleep than he used to get, Harry made it work. Little Teddy was a bundle of energy, determined to burrow his way into any forbidden area of the apartment and straight into his godfather’s heart. Looking into Teddy’s matching morphed features when around Harry (although his nose and canines remained pointier than Harry’s) made Harry feel as though he could finally connect with his parents in this small way. He knew James and Lily would have felt that same burning feeling in their chest looking at their son. 

Ginny was a Merlin-sent gift, though she just rolled her eyes whenever Harry told her that to her face. She could take Teddy to her practices, though not game days or during the summers when the Harpies travelled. In the evenings, all three of them would sit down to the dinner Harry prepared, talking and laughing and teaching Teddy to mispronounce Ginny’s brothers’ names. 

It wasn’t a surprise when Ginny slipped into his bed one night and stayed there. He much preferred her warmth over the chill of an empty bed. 

For a few years, life continued in this rose-tinted contentment. Wizards accosted him in the streets less and less as different people had Chocolate Frog cards released. His job consisted of moving one stack of paper into a different stack over the course of a month, so Harry could drift in comfortable monotony outside of the political games that had so frustrated him before. 

Then Teddy was old enough to attend school. Ginny explained that wizarding children tended to be tutored by their parents, but that there were a few different schooling options to prepare children with pedigrees for their time at Hogwarts. Savior of the Wizarding World or not, Harry received a politely worded rejection letter from each of these options. The politeness did not hide the fact that all of these people seemed to already know about Teddy’s father and his “unfortunate problem” and how such influences could not be allowed to negatively affect the purity of their institutions. 

Harry had reluctantly shrugged it off after many nights ranting about it to Hermione who obligingly kept his glass of Firewhiskey topped up, but advised caution as they had all grown up and had much more to lose now. (Harry had been tempted to say that he’d already lost his life to this fight, but held it back.)

Teddy was enrolled in a nearby muggle primary school instead with a warded bracelet to keep his metamorphagus abilities hidden away. He quickly made friends with his entire class, vivacious even without the neon colored hair he was defaulting to more and more. But his very best friend , as Teddy explained, was another boy named Chris. Chris missed a lot of school due to getting sick rather often, but he always had the best ideas for fun things to do. 

One day, though, Chris got sick enough to miss an entire week of school and Teddy came home to explain through sobs that his friend had gone to a hospital. Harry finagled the name of the address of Chris's family from their teacher the next day (with perhaps the use of a Confundus, not that anyone would know with his Trace was long gone). 

Harry knew the signs. The smaller than average size. The casts and chuckles about clumsiness. The bitten back remark about freakishness. 

He reported the abuse to the Ministry. A kindly witch with twinkling eyes that reminded him of Dumbledore read over the scroll that took Harry hours to write and shook her head. "Well dear, it looks like he's with family," she said. 

"Chris is a magical child who is being abused for his heritage."

"Oh dear, but how much heritage can he have with a last name like Robinson? Unless he's related to the Irish branch who creates those lovely metal songbirds? Quite expensive, those are, but I have one that can sing the Hogwarts school song, if you can believe it!"

"I don't think—no, I mean, surely there's something that can be done?" 

"Hmm, well if he has enough magic to get into Hogwarts, then I'm sure something can be done then." The witch opened a filing drawer that stretched in a spiral up and around the room. She tucked the scroll in the back behind hundreds of matching scrolls, crinkled and smashed from the the bending of the drawer. 

With a tap of her wand, the drawer wound itself back into its spot, letting out a cough of dust as it clicked back into place with an auto locking charm. Harry stared at the once more unassuming metal filing cabinet. He wondered if his own name was on a scroll somewhere in there, buried deep under the shared experiences of muggleborns and halfbloods. Perhaps a pureblood name or two could be found inside, but Harry figured those records would be destroyed rather than forgotten. 

"Anything else you need, dear?" 

Harry stared a beat too long at those twinkling eyes before leaving the office without a word. 

Moments after he apparated home, Ginny's face appeared in the fireplace. "Oh good, you're home! Mind if I send Teddy through the Floo? The girls and I are going out after practice to celebrate Stella's birthday."

Harry attempted to say an affirmative, but his voice didn't come at first. He coughed to clear his throat. "Sure, Gin, send him through. I don't work tomorrow either, if you'd like to unwind some yourself."

Ginny's fiery face winked. "Your terror of a godson will be there soon!"

Teddy bounded through the green fire shortly after, seemingly continuing a story about a cursed bludger and a fisherman. Harry wrapped his godson into a tight hug until Teddy's bubblegum pink hair started to darken to match Harry's.

"You okay, Harry?" Teddy asked, patting Harry's face as he'd seen Mrs. Weasley do to his godfather many times in the past. 

"I'll be fine, Teds. Just a little worried, but your hug made me feel better."

"Good," Teddy nodded firmly. "I will be in my room playing chess so that I can beat Uncka Ron. Hug me if you need to feel better again."

Later that night, Harry pulled out Volume 8, but didn't open it. He didn't want to see the heroine's face. She never appeared scared, but she also never appeared helpless. These days, Harry couldn't remember why he ever thought he was like Goldenfire. 

Even fighting against the Dark Lord Grindlewald, he'd never felt such helpless rage. Instead, he felt like a monster was living under his skin, scraping through the thin layer of heroism he'd been awarded after a prophecy deemed him the Savior of the Wizarding World. 

He stared at the cover of this comic book that he had kept by his side for years, noticing for perhaps the first time the way the scaled behemoth of a villain appeared to hold a city skyline in his hands, crumbling in his tight grip. 

For a moment, Harry imagined that skyline to be the Ministry and himself to be the monster, tearing off the chunks of the building with all the hypocrisy and the hatred and the outright idiocy. 

This image stayed in his head until settling Teddy into bed that evening. He cast a monitoring charm on Teddy's sleeping form to be alerted if he woke up and stood in the middle of the living room. 

"Am I really doing this?" he muttered to himself. He could still see Chris with the bruises his shirt didn't quite cover. When he blinked, he imagined Teddy with the same bruises, the same expression. (If he thought more about it, which he didn't, he saw a little green eyed boy too.)

"Somebody has to." He apparated away with a pop.