A/N: I do not own Harry Potter
Hi guys - this has been completely rewritten, same idea, but very different. I am also doing smaller chapters to take the pressure off me on at least one story!
I had an anonymous reviewer lately, and I wasn't sure whether or not to take them seriously. There were a lot of comments on my absolute failings as a writer, but then they all stopped mid sentence. Not just in the email, but when I checked them here too. Many points were valid and I am perpetually unhappy with my writing anyway and was already planning a re-write.
Chapter One - The Time Turner
The golden trio stood in front of Albus Dumbledore's desecrated tomb; the thick broken slabs revealed his aged, care-worn face, never at peace, not even in death. The secrets the man had taken to the grave, the mission that he had died for, still seemed to weigh heavily on his shoulders.
There was an eerie silence as no one dared to speak; Harry simply placed the Elder Wand in Dumbledore's frail, blackened hand. He would much rather speak to the portrait; a part of Dumbledore that no one could extinguish. The portrait hung in the Headmaster's office – like so many Headmasters before him – there to watch over Hogwarts until its end.
'I thought I would feel better,' said Harry, lamely.
He felt like Dumbledore looked; there was no weight lifted from his shoulders either. The watchful eyes of wizarding society were already upon him; they were wondering what he would do next. Harry had the unrealistic expectation of repairing the wizarding world placed upon his shoulders, and at the tender age of seventeen. He hadn't even completed his final year at Hogwarts.
'How can we feel better?' Hermione asked. 'I just walked past Tonks…' She wrapped her arms around her body, feeling more vulnerable than usual.
'Let's face it, it's just a less crap world now,' Ron said bluntly. 'A dark, depressing world, and some prejudiced asshole is likely to try again.'
'There will always be another.' Harry's gaze drifted over the devastation surrounding them, and the pressure welled up inside him. 'Will they always expect us to fight?' he asked, his wide eyes showed his vulnerability, his desire to fade into the background. Mostly, he felt the fear that he would always be expected to play the hero. What he wouldn't give to simply rewind.
'You will, Harry,' Ron said. 'You'll always be the Boy Who Lived. There's no undoing it.'
'I'd give every Galleon in Gringotts for that,' Harry mumbled.
'Kingsley wanted us to meet him at the Ministry, Harry.' Hermione looked over at Harry, her brow puckered in uncertainty. 'I know it's the last place you want to be, but there's so much to do. There are still Death Eaters on the loose.'
Harry sighed, turning from the bright white tomb and walked silently in the direction of Hogsmeade. He didn't have to check, he knew they would follow him; they always did.
The long walk outside of Hogwarts was filled with memories of the fallen. As they walked through the grounds, each and every landmark was marred by massacre. The Forest. It had always been Hagrid's domain. Sure, it was haunted by monsters, but Hagrid was stronger than them all. Harry now remembered it as the place where he saw him chained by his enemies. The further he went, the more he saw, and mentally places became known simply as, "where Lavender was bitten by Greyback," or "Isn't that were they found Colin Creevey?"
The Whomping Willow and its secret passage to the Shrieking Shack brought back the image of Severus lying on the floor. The feel of Harry's hand on his neck, desperately trying to stem the blood. "Look at me," he had said, the last words of the man that Harry had hated. He had been so desperate to fulfil the last mission that Dumbledore had given him that he had been willing to pay the ultimate price.
The more Harry saw, the more he became focused on all that he wanted to take back. He wondered how.
Most of all, he thought about his parents and everything that he had missed out on. He missed out again when Sirius died; in his mind's eye he was transported once more to the Department of Mysteries. He almost felt the chill of that room, the stone floor cold on his feet, even through the soles of his shoes. He remembered the stone archway, the veil that was made of a fabric so fine it almost resembled smoke. He recalled the brief moment when he thought that Sirius had just fallen through, and surely would join the fight within a few moments. He remembered Remus' words: "There's nothing you can do, Harry – it's too late, Harry." He remembered the anger and agony; it had been the first time emotion had brought with it tangible, physical pain. As he was transported, his chest began to ache and burn once more. The professor had said it just right, "You do care. You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it."
They apparated as soon as they were outside of the Hogwarts' grounds. They appeared on the same London street where they had drugged and taken Ministry workers on their hunt for the locket.
This time they would need no disguise, but Harry still felt wary of the Ministry of Magic, even under the rule of Kingsley. His experiences left a bad taste in his mouth, but that didn't stop him from walking down to the bathrooms where one could enter the ministry.
'Here goes nothing.' Ron looked at Harry with distaste as he opened the cubicle door.
Harry smiled a little; somehow Ron knew how to do that, even in the most desperate circumstances. He opened his own cubicle, which smelled funny and it didn't look much better; with a similar expression to Ron, he stood in the bowl of the toilet, finally flushing it. He felt himself being sucked down into the cistern, his body stretching, almost like melted plastic. His head span as he pulled through the plumbing and into the government building. They appeared in enormous foyer almost at the same time.
Kingsley had asked them to meet them in the Wizengamot, where the preparation for the Death Eater trials was taking place. Harry would be helping to get a list of names for those that were truly loyal to the dark lord. So they made their way down familiar paths, halting when they came to the door to the Department of Mysteries.
Harry had almost been waiting to see it; he knew what was there. There was a way to get something back. Without hesitation, as if this was his plan all along, he ran through the door.
'Harry, you're going the wrong way.' Ron paused, watching Harry quickly disappear.
'He's not lost,' Hermione said, she pointed at the dark green door and the silver handle. It was as if she expected Ron to work out what Harry was doing as quickly as she had. When there was no recognition from Ron, she grabbed his arm and ran after their friend, pulling him along.
Harry stood in the circular room, surrounded by doors, wondering which one held the answer. He had tried a few before Ron and Hermione caught up with him, but he found it; the time room. Harry wanted something back — to save at least one life.
In many ways, Severus Snape had been the last straw. Maybe it was the striking similarities between their lives. Harry's mind was still consumed with the man's life. Severus had arguably been treated worse by his father than Harry had been by the Dursleys. The solace that he had hoped for at school seemed to be robbed from him, just as Harry's safety was robbed by the plots of his parents' killer. When he was in the pensive, he had almost felt Severus' fear and anger as he had been torn apart and decimated by an evil he should not have had to understand. Harry felt indignant; Severus shouldn't have had to protect himself from being recruited by hate, just like he shouldn't have had to be a saviour.
The man had a grey nature, not black and not white. He wasn't perfect, but his redemption had been. He had sacrificed himself, knowing that one simple truth – that killing Harry would be the last nail in the coffin for the Dark Lord – telling Voldemort this could have saved his life, but chose silence. The man had loved his mother dearly, spent his life protecting her son — literally spent it. To Harry, that was perfect redemption.
Harry stood in the centre of the Time Room; it was vast and filled with dark wooden tables, so many of them that there was only a narrow path towards the next chamber. It was quieter than Harry remembered, and not as cluttered. Each table had been littered with glittering time-pieces and a relentless ticking last time he had been here, but today it was silent. They had inadvertently destroyed most of the items in this room just two years ago, and now it was deserted. Everything had been destroyed the night they tried to save Sirius; except for this one Time-Turner.
He thought about how far back he could go, and that this small golden egg timer could do it all. He needed to save as many lives as possible, desperately need it. He could only think of everyone he had lost in the last six hours; Severus, Fred, Lavender, Remus, Tonks, the list seemed endless. As he looked at the ornately carved gold that encased the glass bowls, he could see the sand trickling from top to bottom and back again; Harry could feel it, those sands had the power to do the impossible.
He stared longingly at the Time-Turner, hoping he would be brave enough.
'Harry, you can't change anything, surely you know that,' Hermione said. 'You know from last time...'
Harry had hardly noticed them catching up with him, he had been that lost in his own thoughts. They stood behind him now, both out of breath. He heard one of them take a few tentative steps. He thought it was Hermione, after all, she was the one most likely to object.
'I could have changed more during third year.' He spun on his heel staring at Hermione. 'You wouldn't let me, you wanted to play by the rules. I could have taken Peter from Ron while he was in Hagrid's hut. Think about the chain of events: we would have proved Sirius' innocence; he wouldn't have been cooped up in that house; he might even be here today.'
'The rules are there for a reason,' she said, pleading with him. 'Harry…'
'I know. Time-Turners can cause a lot of damage, but they could do so much more. Where has "playing by the rules" ever got anyone, anyway? It only got my parents death. It got Sirius locked up. It got the Longbottoms hospitalised. They all fought for what was right, they all played by the rules, but maybe getting your hands dirty gets things done!'
Hermione looked afraid of what Harry was saying. It seemed as though if she looked hard enough, you could see Harry's moral compass spinning wildly out of control.
'How big is the death count, Hermione? Do you know? Now, let's look to those that don't play by the rules; the Malfoys! Narcissa Malfoy told one lie, and all the wrongdoings of her family seemed to be forgotten in an instant. Playing by the rules…' Harry laughed bitterly.
'What if you mess things up, Harry?' Ron presented himself as a strange voice of reason, something that was usually considered to be Hermione's role. 'What if you turn back time, and you do more damage?'
'What if we can save Fred?' Harry focused on Ron now, looking him in the eye. 'Tell me you don't want that! Tell me it isn't worth the risk, I dare you!' Harry shouted now, the frustration and anger that he had been feeling tumbled down in bitter tears.
Ron turned his head as tears welled up in his eyes, and his jaw stiffened. Shaking his head, he paced the room, occasionally glancing at the ornate Time-Turner. There was a look in his eye, a hunger for all the things that Harry promised. In a strange way, it made Harry happy, knowing he would have his best friend's blessing and maybe even his help.
'You think I don't want Fred back? You think there isn't a long and extensive list of people that I would wish back?' Hermione said, attempting to reason with him. 'But I can't, and neither can you.'
'You don't understand!' Ron said, bitingly. 'Your parents are safe in Australia! How could you possibly understand?'
Harry picked up the Time-Turner. It was heavy in his hand, heavier than it looked. The gold was cool, and there was the faint sound of sand trickling in the glass. He looked directly at Hermione, holding it up almost like evidence. 'Give an excellent answer to that question, and I will consider not going back a few hours,' he said.
'Harry.' Hermione's shoulders slumped, a resigned posture that she wore so rarely. She looked at her friend with warm brown eyes, but they still begged him to see her side. 'You know I can never understand, I can't possibly understand what you are going through. But this won't bring your parents back, and it won't bring Sirius back either!'
'I'll come for the ride.' Ron grabbed Harry's jacket.
'Will you come with us?' Harry looked at Hermione, his face kind, serious... 'Please? You're like a sister to me, the only family I have.'
'Of course, you know I'll follow you anywhere,' she said as she grabbed his other arm. 'It's just a terrible idea!'
'Kind of like riding a dragon out of Gringotts?' Ron said with a half smile.
Harry glanced at Hermione, who rolled her eyes. Ron was sniggering on his other side, and despite everything, he felt at home. He meant it, these two people were his family, his only constant. Even now, he knew his plan was stark raving mad, but Hermione followed him anyway, she would likely continue whining, but that's normal for sisters. At least, that's what Ron had said.
First he tested the Time-Turner a little, feeling how the glass bowls of sand moved smoothly, he felt like there was so much promise in this moment. There was so much to be achieved; seeing Fred and George reunited or Remus and Tonks. Tentatively, he began his turns, just like he recalled, one turn for each hour. He turned five perfectly.
'Harry, wait!' Hermione's fingernails clutched his arms tighter as though trying to punctuate the point.
Harry was unable to complete the sixth turn. His eyes flickered to the date and time along the top, the numbers changed faster than he could follow, but the year told him everything he needed to know. This Time-Turner did not go back in hours.
They were frozen in time. They stood there for what felt like an eternity — watching the world move backwards around them. Harry had imagined that he would feel dizzy or nauseous, as most methods of travel in the wizarding world did, however, he felt heavy. His feet felt as though they had been set in concrete, his motion was completely restricted, the sensation of people, objects, and time moving through his body. The only way to describe it, was that it was like walking through a solid stone.
Eventually, time slowed down. Gradually, Harry began to feel the heaviness lift and the uncomfortable and restrictive sensation seemed to lessen. Although they never left, he was surprised to find himself in the Ministry of Magic. It was quiet and dark. The time room was no longer empty. Now it had a vast array of strange devices, including what looked like an experiment for time-travel. There was a large glass case and it was filled with many tunnels, at certain intervals there were small silver Time-Turners. Inside the cage, showing what the experiment was, were mice. As the mice ran through the twists and turns of the tunnel, they aged forward and backwards, depending on the direction they ran. They watched as one took a treat, slowly decrease in size until it lost all of its fur and was as small as the day it had been born.
'Harry, this Time-Turner doesn't go back hours. Look at the date!' Hermione said exasperatedly.
Harry glanced at the sizeable, ancient Time-Turner. He then looked up at Hermione, who was unusually quiet, but her wide eyes and the lip she was gnawing on assured him that she was as panicked as he would expect her to be. He was glad, the alternative was, "I told you so." No one wanted to hear Hermione say that.
Harry stared intently at the Time-Turner. He felt an odd sense of joy. He hadn't put his finger on it yet, but he was sure that this little accident was a good thing. He focused on the date, wondering why it felt like such good news. August thirtieth 1943. What should have concerned him was that it had gone back decades. Instead, Harry felt like there was one little piece of information that he needed, and once he had it, he would know exactly what to do.
'Harry, we can't change anything!' Hermione started to whine, the annoying high pitched whine Harry had been expecting a moment ago. 'We can get into a lot of trouble for this! Messing with time on this scale, it would be ludicrous, insane!' She paced, walking around the glass case that held the mice, her hands clasped together. 'I am sure that there is a simple way to fix this…' She was speaking to herself, her head shaking maniacally as she did.
Harry said nothing. His mind was focused on "changing". What would he change? He racked his brain for an answer that Hermione would likely spit out in a heartbeat. Her brain, however, was focused on all the ways that they would get into trouble, all the ways it could go wrong. Why wouldn't she? Things always went wrong.
'What would we even change?' he mused, he was still staring at the date, paying little mind to Hermione's pacing, nor Ron's attempt to calm her down.
'It's not like we will be found out,' Ron said, rolling his eyes at Hermione.
Harry looked up and tried to restrain a smile. Then the coggs continued turning, only half listening to Ron.
'Last time you said that people lost the plot when they saw themselves. I highly doubt we are going to run into ourselves in 1943.' Ron, who was still attempting to calm Hermione, suppressed a snigger and tried desperately to keep a straight face.
Harry was about to say that Ron made an excellent point, but then Hermione cut in. 'Oh, really, Ron! Really!' Hermione continued to repeat the same sentence over and over again, as though the entire situation had finally caused her brain to short-circuit.
'Harry, Hermione's broken! I get that we travelled back in time by decades and Grindlewald is likely ruling the world and Tom Riddle is likely taking notes as reads the paper in the Chamber of Secrets, but I think Hermione is our more pressing concern. I would really appreciate it if you would put the oversized egg timer down and help!' Ron was the one ranting now. Hermione had stopped pacing, but was mumbling to herself. 'It'll be okay, don't worry, Mione'
'Don't worry?' she shrieked. 'I think worrying is the appropriate reaction! What if Harry accidentally murders his Great-Grandma Betty, he isn't even a foetus and he'll never be born!"
'That gives me an excellent idea.' Harry smiled and walked over to her. 'I say we get a little help. Hermione, can you come with us? You wouldn't want anyone to see us and ask questions would you?' He gave her a reassuring squeeze. His intent being less patronising than it sounded, so infused his squeeze with the love he felt. The same love that Fred and George had when they teased Ginny.
'No, of course not. That's really good Harry. What kind of help will we get? Should we go to the library?'
Ron looked at Harry, his brows puckered.
Harry put an arm around Hermione. 'If a secluded library is what will help Hermione think, that's what we should do, right?'
'Right!' Hermione beamed at Harry. 'Where will we find a secluded library?'
They walked over the very same bridge that the Thestral-drawn carriages took them over each year. It was a journey that they had just completed, and yet now Hogwarts was whole and complete; perfectly at peace. When they arrived at the massive oak front doors, they merely pushed them open. The castle was mostly deserted, after all, the school term only started the next day.
'What are we going to do if Professor Dumbledore isn't here?' Hermione asked, glancing at Harry. 'Term only starts tomorrow, and then it will be too busy,'
'Well, it's not going to make me change my mind, that's for sure. I mean, we can just go to the Room of Requirement and wait.'
'It certainly seems very quiet.' Ron stepped into the Great Hall; everything was still and orderly, the candles weren't even lit, there was only the glimmer from the magical ceiling to light the four tables.
'Yes, but there could still be other teachers around, we have to be careful.' Hermione's lips were pressed into a thin line, but she gave no other sign of her reluctance.
'Hermione, what subject did Professor Dumbledore teach before he became Headmaster?' Harry asked.
Hermione stood there silent, her arms tense at her sides, fists balled.
'Do you want me to go around asking any professor I can find?' Harry smiled knowing that she would relent. In many ways, he felt bad for how he was baiting her, but he had a plan, a plan that would change the wizarding world for the better. He couldn't just walk away from that.
'Transfiguration' Hermione crossed her arms and her jaw stiffened. 'He was Head of Gryffindor too, so probably Professor McGonagall's office.'
'Brilliant,' said Ron as he pulled them down a corridor. 'This way is more secluded, that would be better, right, Hermione?'
She didn't respond, but followed dutifully. The corridors felt familiar, it was amazing how timeless Hogwarts really was. They went down the third corridor, the same tapestry was in place. They snuck out of an alcove, and there was the door that they needed. There was a golden plaque nailed to the dark wood that read: "Prof. Albus Dumbledore — Transfiguration."
Ron was the only one with enough bravery to knock.
'Come in,' a voice from within called.
Harry pushed open the door. The office was different than McGonagall had decorated it. He recognised many of the trinkets on the shelves though, in fact, Harry distinctly remembered breaking a few of them after Sirius' death. The man behind the desk, however, was almost unrecognisable – except for Harry had seen him in a memory only a year or so ago. The only familiarity was the bright blue eyes.
'Professor?' Ron asked in disbelief.
'It's him,' Harry whispered to Ron and Hermione, 'I recognise him from the pensieve.'
Ron nodded, looking skeptically at the tall, lean man.
Albus, was young, bright and sprightly. He had a short ginger beard, and his hair was cut short now. He still wore brightly coloured robes, but there was more of an air of style to his get-up than they were used to. The robes were more fitted to his figure, the cut of the neckline, and the lining were all as decadent as you would expect, but there was more of an air of sophistication.
Hermione had her head in her hands. 'Harry, we can still just ask him to help us get home... please!' Hermione hissed the words, looking it at Harry pleadingly.
The auburn-haired professor watched them curiously. He didn't seem at all bothered by the whispers; he simply watched them, his slight smile showing the mild amusement that he felt.
'I say we let Professor Dumbledore decide, right?' Harry looked up at the professor, directing his words at him for the first time.
He replied first with a beaming smile. 'I know my students; you have never been to Hogwarts.' He arched a brow, showing just a hint of confusion. 'Are you from another school?'
'No, we're from another time.' Harry stepped forward in large strides, to the professor's desk.
'Harry!' Hermione squealed.
'I am here trying to finish a job you gave me—'
Albus seemed to try and restrain his amusement. What he found funny, Harry could not really tell; maybe he thought that they were lying or playing some kind of trick.
'That isn't exactly true!' Hermione ran up behind. 'He never asked us to mess with a Time-Turner.'
'He did once!' Harry replied, which only caused Hermione to roll her eyes.
'I think he only meant that one time!'
'It's a shame we'll never know...'
They continued their back and forth, looking like a pair of childish siblings. Albus raised his brows in surprise. He walked around to the front of his desk and settled himself, crossing his legs. He looked intently into Harry's eyes, who was sure he was not admiring his interesting eye colour. There was a look of concentration, which soon turned to a frown. After a moment, there was a look of acceptance, as though he had seen something in those few seconds that had convinced him that Harry told the truth.
'You,' he pointed at Harry, 'want to change something, and you,' he pointed at Hermione, 'just want to go back home?'
'Yes! I mean, I would love to change things, but it's against the law; it's irresponsible! We are from so far ahead in time, even the slightest change—'
'That's kind of the point!' Harry interrupted.
'You may never be born!' Hermione yelled back.
'I don't care!'
The words hung in the air, there was no sign of lie or exaggeration. Harry genuinely would rather not exist than have the future continue as normal, uninterrupted.
'Okay, Mr?' He looked at Harry expectantly.
'Harry Potter, Sir,' Harry replied
'I think you should start from the beginning.' Albus spoke with the same measured tone that they remembered. He was calm and relaxed, even in the face of such strange circumstance, like he really did have complete control of what they knew was uncontrollable. 'I will decide if we alter things or if we are going to send you back to where you should be. Does that sound fair, Miss?'
'Granger, Sir. And yes, it does sound very fair.' Suddenly she was much more sedate, after all, Hermione was always on her best behaviour in front of a teacher. Despite the face of the old professor not being present, she felt the need to resign to his superior wisdom, all the same. His eyes looked into hers and she was sure that Professor Dumbledore would do the right thing, regardless of what the laws and risks were.
'He is the smartest person in the room,' Ron said, the least agitated of the trio. 'I think we should let him make the decisions.'
'Thank you, Mr?' Albus smiled, looking unfamiliar, but the subtle creases around his eyes reminded them of the aged headmaster they had loved.
'Weasley, Ron Weasley.'
'Oh!' he exclaimed. "I taught your — relative?' Dumbledore chuckled, laughing at his own joke, regardless of the seriousness.
'Okay, Harry, tell me your story from the beginning. No details missed.' He waved his wand, conjuring a selection of chairs. 'Tea?' he asked cheerily, as a teapot and mugs appeared on his desk, all steaming, the smell of earl grey filling the room.
They had sat in the office for hours and hours, telling the story of Tom Riddle and Harry Potter: The Boy Who Lived. Albus was an attentive listener. They described every aspect of the war, from the first Horcrux to the final battle. Once they were finished, Albus Dumbledore sat in silence, his fingertips steepled before him, it was so reminiscent of their very own Albus.
'Miss Granger, I can see why you are against changing anything. Changes of this magnitude could do a lot of damage; the number of people I could inadvertently let slip to. However, I am smart enough to do this brilliantly.' Albus smiled a cocky smile.
'Wicked, sir.' Ron grinned.
'The only problem is that we can't just live here, in this time.' Hermione looked at Harry, her shoulders slumped and no hint of an, "I told you so," just an expression that said she was sorry. 'We have no identity here, no qualifications, we can't just start attending Hogwarts. We have to go back.'
'Of course you have to go back, what's more, I think I know how to give you something you dearly want, Harry. I just need the help of a colleague. Wait here.' Albus then strode purposefully out of the office, leaving them alone.
'What did he mean? He can give you exactly what you want?' Hermione asked.
'I don't know; the only thing that I have ever wanted was to get my parents back,' Harry said, 'but I thought that by stopping Tom, that would be a given.'
Hermoine shrugged. 'Knowing Dumbledore, I really can't guess what he means.'
"You're sure that's the real Professor Dumbledore?" Ron asked.
"You can't tell?" Harry laughed.
They were sat alone for some time, waiting on Albus. Harry was impatient and looked around the office, fiddling with instruments that he recognised and others that he didn't. With a slight smile he picked up a delicate silver ornament that puffed smoke; and he remembered throwing it in a heartbroken rage. It was one of the many that had suffered at the hands of his wrath, the night of Sirius' death. However, he hoped this ornament would stay intact for years to come. He hoped in this new life he would not suffer the agony that led to its demise.
Hermoine scoured the shelves for a fascinating book, and she was soon reading an overly complicated Transfiguration volume. Ron sat playing with his Deluminator; the oil lamp on Albus' desk flickering on and off. Harry and Hermione threw many irritated glares at Ron and the intermittent darkness.
When Albus finally got back, he had someone with him, a very young looking Horace Slughorn. He looked just the same as he had in the pensieve, which now seemed so long ago. He had more straw-like, almost ginger hair, a full ginger moustache, and was far less portly. What had remained the same, however, was the luxurious taste in dinner jackets and his watery green eyes.
'This is a bad idea. If he knows too, who knows how many things it will affect!' Hermione dared to scold him.
'Don't worry, I will obliviate him myself, Horace agreed to it before I gave him any information,' Albus consoled with a cheeky smile. 'Horace here is going to concoct a potion that will allow you to go back to when you were eleven, so you can — appreciate the changes that will be made. Horace' he continued, 'these are the students-'
'No! Albus, I would rather have less for you to obliviate. I only just finished my lesson plans!'
'Not to worry, Horace – Professor Slughorn I should say, will be obliviated once he has completed the potion.'
'Well, I still don't want to know why I'm brewing a de-ageing potion! I presume this has something to do with Grindelwald, but I've told you, I'm staying out of it!'
'Well, it's not going to brew itself. I will need an assistant though. Is any of these three good at potions?'
'I'll go. I don't want this getting any more out of hand than it already is.' She still stood, waiting for some kind of clarification on the kind of magic that Dumbledore would use.
Albus looked to Ron and Harry. 'Is that not agreeable to all?'
'I'll be legitimately eleven?' Harry asked.
'Emotionally, physically, intellectually, completely eleven.' Albus smiled. 'Based on your story, I think it's what you deserve, Harry.'
Harry felt overwhelmed by the thought of having an actual childhood. Suddenly he was back in his cupboard, day dreaming of a family that loved him. A long lost relative that would discover him and take him away from the Dursleys. Now it was almost a reality; a strange and unbelievable reality.
'What will it be like?' he asked.
'One day — the date we pick — you will wake up knowing all that you have lived in your old time, and everything you will have lived there. As time goes on, the old memories will fade into the background, and the life that you will have lived comes to the forefront. You will never completely forget, not unless I obliviate you,' he explained.
Harry, for the first time, took pause. Everything was for him, like the world revolved around him and his own happiness. He wanted this more than he could say, but it had taken far too long for him to think of his friends.
'Ron, Hermione,' he began.
'As much as I don't like this plan,' Hermione interrupted, 'this is better for everyone. You're right, so what if my life changes. Tom Riddle killed hundreds of witches, wizards and Muggles. It's a risk we should take.' Hermione never failed to amaze Harry. How stubborn she could be about the rules, but how flexible she could be too, how good, kind and self sacrificing she was.
'What if this ruins your life?'
'It can't be any worse than what you went through,' she said. 'And if it's as bad, I will remember how you dealt with the worst hand life could deal, and aspire to bare it as well as you did.'
'Mate, if you think this is for you, about you, you' re more self-centred than I gave you credit for. This is for everyone, It's far bigger than you.'
'Then we are all in agreement?' He looked over to Horace. 'You have everything you need for the potions, Horace?'
The man nodded and left the room.
'You know, despite breaking the rules, it will be very interesting to see how the potion is put together,' Hermione said to Ron and Harry before she left behind him.
Harry turned to Dumbledore. 'Okay, we need to plan how we are going to stop Tom Riddle. Also, how are you going to give me the instructions once Hermione obliviates you?'
Ron was the one with the answer. 'Think about it, Harry. What if you were a student, and you knew what was going to happen. You would likely tell the Professor, right?'
'Ron, I'm not a student. We can't stay here until things start to happen! Hermione would never agree to it.'
'No, of course not. What about a letter to Professor Dumbledore? Include all the relevant information that would give him reasonable cause to check out Tom? He gets caught sending a mad snake around the castle; I feel like he will get some time in Azkaban? If he still manages to murder Mytrle, he might even get the kiss!'
Harry looked at Ron, a skeptical expression on his face. 'You have to be a parseltongue to open the chamber, we'd have to tell them where it is, about the diary, everything!'
'Yeah, and if you knew everything because you overheard it?'
'But I didn't overhear it!' Harry replied.
'So lie, you numpty! Write a letter to Dumbledore as if you were poor little Harry in Hogwarts with students getting petrified and you know how it's happening.'
'Simple, yet brilliant,' Albus said, pulling out a long violet quill with a flourish.
'I mean you would have grounds to check things out then, wouldn't you, but it's not suspicious?' Harry asked tentatively.
'You will have to be careful what you put in, how you write the letter,' Albus said.
They worked through many drafts before they had something that covered all basics but wasn't suspicious. When Hermione and Slughorn arrived back with the potions, the desk was littered with crumpled parchments.
'Hermione, do you have a fresh piece of parchment? We ran out, and we need to write this letter up so Professor Dumbledore can stop Tom.' Harry explained.
Hermione still didn't look impressed, but dug around her small but unending bag for parchment and ink, placing them on the table.
'I'm sorry, Hermione, I know you don't want this to happen.' Harry looked up at her, and the harsh expression softened immediately.
'Harry, I'll do it for you.' She smiled and hugged him. 'Besides, this would be a better world.'
Horace stood awkwardly in the background, holding three vials. Albus took the vials and nodded at the professor. 'Are you ready, Horace?'
'Yes, just be carefull!' Horace complained showing minimal care that Albus would be removing his memories permanently.
'Obliviate,' Albus spoke calmly, and a dazed expression came over Slughorn's face. 'I will take Horace back to his office. Finish the letter, and we will have you home before you know it.' He then guided a dazed and confused Horace from the office.
Harry finished the letter, placed it in an envelope and wrote "Albus Dumbledore" on the front, before setting it in front of his chair on the dark oak desk. When Dumbledore arrived, he took a small instrument from his shelves and pulled the Time-Turner towards him.
'I am going to make three Portkeys, special Portkeys.' He then took the Deluminator from Ron, looking at it with interest, the object he took from his desk was a small silver Lunascope. 'Once we send you back through time, they will activate, but they will take you "home" wherever that may be for you at that time. Even if you don't know where that is.' With that Albus muttered and waved his wand over each object, all of them glowing in turn. 'Now, Miss Granger, you just need to obliviate me. Be gentle!'
Hermione stood in front of the professor and her eyes softened. 'Thank you, Professor.' She whispered, and they smiled at each other. 'Obliviate.'
Harry and Ron settled him into his seat as the confused expression passed over him. They each picked up an object and Harry set the Time-Turner to the appropriate date; July 31st 1991.
'I guess this is bottoms up?' Ron said holding up his vial.
'Cheers,' they clinked the vials together and then they were down in one.
'Everyone, hold on,' Harry said calmly, and the swirl of colours began.
This time, when it stopped, there was the tug behind the belly-button, dragging each of them to some unknown location.
Harry panicked for a second, feeling Hermione and Ron disappear from his side, and then he fell with a thump on a soft bed, the Time-Turner still in his hand. It was huge now, or maybe it just seemed that way in his now much smaller hand. Harry was just about to turn eleven again.
Hurriedly, he hid the hourglass under his bed; it was then that he noticed the large bedroom. It was all painted blue, and the stars swirled on his ceiling. There was a trunk at the end of his bed and a mess of toys, brooms and clothes around the large room with a desk on the opposite wall. He had Quidditch posters on his wall, and strangely, he had a mixture of the different Hogwarts house banners everywhere, particularly Gryffindor and Slytherin. He thought it odd, but he guessed that Slytherin could have a completely different reputation now. It was clearly late, and he didn't want to anger his parents the first day he met them, so he curled up in his duvet and tried to get some sleep.
'Harry,' a man whispered, having opened the door. 'I heard a bang.' the voice was concerned — Harry's heart swelled with joy. 'Are you ok?'
'I'm fine, Dad.' He yawned as he heard footsteps and then felt soft lips on his forehead.
'I'll see you in the morning, my birthday boy.'
Harry thought he recognised the voice, but maybe he was just happy to hear someone talk to him that way — the way a father speaks to a son.
Soon enough he fell asleep.