Disclaimer: The Harry Potter universe belongs to the proverbial Duchess of Magic, JK Rowling, Scholastic, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros and some other high falutin' companies. No matter how much I whine about not owning anything related to the HP universe, other than a few fanfic plots, I do not profess to own - and would never dream of making any money off - JKR's wonderful world... Damn it!
Author Note (A/N): Alright, you 'nag-merchants'! You've been begging and pleading for me to release another story. The reason for the delay is not that I didn't want to release one, its that I've got a few on the go and I'm having 'bogged down' issues with them. This one is one that I managed to force through the sludge to get finished. I'll be trying to release a chapter twice per week until all fifty finally see the light of day.
Hopefully by then the next story will be ready to go. So, there shouldn't be a break as long as this one between postings.
I've decided to write a story that combines the challenges of Reptilia28 and CoastalFirebird into one story. Here are the two challenges:
Challenge issued by "Reptilia28" - Originally on verbatim
* Harry is killed at 17 during a fight with Voldemort. He's sent to his Death's office (explained later) and finds out that this isn't the first time that this has happened.
* Harry's Death (who can have a human name) is mad at his arrival. Apparently, people dying before their time is a black mark on the various Deaths' records, and Harry is getting perilously close to getting this particular one fired.
* When Harry asks what was supposed to have happened, Death goes off on a rant saying how he was supposed to have killed Voldemort, found his soul mate ("Some Granger girl...") and lived to be a centennial age. But since Harry keeps getting into life-threatening situations for one reason or another, he keeps dying before that happens. Harry is surprised about the soul mate part.
* Death gives Harry a paper to sign that allows him to retain his memories (the previous times, he wasn't given this option for some reason). Harry is deposited to a previous time of the writer's choosing.
* Eventually, Harry gets it right. He kills Voldemort, gets the girl, and lives to a ripe old age of whatever. And Death doesn't get fired.
* Harry had to have died at least three times before this one.
* The memory keeping contract must be included.
* Death must refer to Hermione as "some Granger girl" when Harry's soul mate turns up in his rant.
* Obviously, must be H/Hr.
* Have fun.
* Dumbledore's manipulations can be a factor in Harry's premature demises
Challenge issued by "CoastalFirebird"
* Harry has to have died before his time it can be anywhere between books 5-7
* His Grim Reaper will give him one last chance to make things right. What he was supposed to do is this:
1. Kill Voldemort
2. Save Sirius (Meaning he does not die)
3. Fall in love with Daphne Greengrass
4. And save as many students as he can, except for a main character of your choosing i.e.: Cedric.
* His soul mate is Daphne Greengrass and Ginny was dosing him with love potion, and her with repulsion. How this is achieved is up to you (use of Dobby or another elf is okay).
* Lastly emancipate himself from the Dursley's before the start of sixth year
* You may do with Ron what you will, but Hermione must remain his friend.
* Dumbles is at your disposal to be good or flat out debauched.
Chapter One - Backstepped
"Avada Kedavra!" came the cry of the snake-faced bastard, Tom Marvolo Riddle; aka Lord Voldemort.
The green beam made a whooshing sound as it beared down on him - Harry Potter; aka The-Boy-Who-Lived; The Chosen One; Fate's Spittoon.
He was the last horcrux, the last of Riddle's soul anchors. Now, anyone would be able to kill the mongrel.
The war had not gone well for the forces of the 'Light'. One of the previous Ministers - how many back now? Two? - refused to believe Harry when, on the night of the third task of the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort had been fully resurrected. That incompetent fool had allowed Riddle to build his forces in secret. He gave the snake-faced bastard time to consolidate his forces; send emissaries to the giants; free about a dozen of his closest followers from Azkaban, and see it blamed on Sirius Black; draw the dementors back to his side; and kill, or have killed, a fair few important people.
Finally, the Minister, himself, saw Riddle in the atrium of the Ministry of Magic; saw him duel Dumbledore. Only then did the incompetent fool acknowledge that Voldemort had 'come back'. Of course, the fool very quickly got his arse well and truly fired by a very incensed populace and Wizengamot. That same event also saw Dumbledore returned to the positions of Supreme Mugwump of the ICW, Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Headmaster of Hogwarts.
But, it was too late; Riddle had already had enough time to consolidate. A month later saw the Head of the DMLE assassinated; along with her niece, Susan Bones; and Emmaline Vance, one of the nice members of the Order of the Phoenix. The then new Minister, Scrimgeour, wasn't much of an improvement on his predecessor. He only lasted about fourteen months. By then, Dumbledore was already dead. Only a couple of months earlier the old man caught a Killing Curse to the chest, which saw him launched backwards off the top of the Astronomy Tower at Hogwarts. But, he was dying anyway; victim to a withering curse placed on one of Riddle's horcruxes.
Of course, with Dumbledore out of the way, Riddle almost immediately - less than two months later - waltzed right in and took over the Ministry. And placed his own 'man' in as Minister. That's when the real killings began. Muggleborns and so-called blood traitors were rounded up and placed into 'camps' - just another name for a killing field.
Harry - together with his two friends, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley - were already on the run; and on a mission. They were looking for Riddle's soul anchors. But, it was going too slow for the red-headed prat, Ron Weasley. He clearly thought they'd have it wrapped up in a couple of months; easy-peasy. It wasn't. They'd only found the locket horcrux by that time. They'd managed to literally snatch it off the neck of that foul toad, Umbridge within the Ministry; and make their escape.
So, Ron up and quit on them late October. Piker! And, his problem? Even though he claimed it was because he didn't think they were finding the horcruxes fast enough; it was really because he was hungry. Oh - boo hoo!
Though disappointed in their so-called friend, Harry and Hermione were somewhat relieved he'd gone. By leaving he'd allowed them to start properly thinking about the task before them. They started to figure out just what the horcruxes were, and where they'd probably be found. Both were thinking a lot clearer while the prat was gone. And both became much closer as a couple.
However, the prat managed to find them again the day after Christmas, Boxing Day. That was the day Harry found the Sword of Gryffindor waiting for them in a deep pond. It was the middle of winter, in the middle of the night, and Harry stripped down to his underwear and went in and got it. Peculiarly, Ron turned up at that exact moment and pulled an almost unconscious Harry, still holding the sword, out of the pond.
Very soon after that, Harry and Hermione's relationship seemed to just drift apart again. Harry, again, started thinking of Ron's sister, Ginny, as the love of his life; as Hermione started to think the same about Ron.
Slowly, but surely, the trio managed to find the rest of the horcruxes. The last was only a few hours earlier; the lost diadem of Ravenclaw in the Room of Requirement, which Luna helped them find.
By then, of course, Voldemort had managed to breach the wards around Hogwarts; and led his Death Eaters in battle with the remaining populace of the school.
Then, Riddle called a cease fire. He called on Harry, directly.
Mere moments later, a sobbing Ron approached him and told him that Hermione was dead; cut down by a killing curse.
With the horcruxes gone, Harry knew immediately what he had to do. He had to go and face Riddle. He had to meet him in the middle of the Forbidden Forest, where the acromantulans once nested.
He walked out the main doors of the castle, moments later. He didn't look back; he should have. He'd have seen a smiling Ron Weasley, if he did.
He passed bodies of the fallen - students, staff and Death Eaters alike - and walked into the Forest. There, he paused a moment to activate the resurrection stone and talk to his perished loved ones. It was then he learned both Remus and Tonks had perished in the battle. He wondered why Hermione did not join them. He forgot to ask. Actually, there were a great many questions he should have asked.
That's when he simply walked into the clearing where Riddle had collected his inner core of Death Eaters and awaited him. A few moments later, he was hit with the curse. And felt his life leave him as his body fell to the ground.
"Get up, you idiot!" snarled a man's voice.
Harry lay there wondering why he wasn't dead. But, he wasn't lying on the dirt ground of the Forbidden Forest, either; he was lying on a rug or carpet of some soft weave.
Blinking his eyes open, he was looking across the surface of a pale blue plush wool carpet. It actually felt quite comfortable.
"Harry James!" snapped the voice. "Get on your feet!" The voice seemed to come from behind him.
Harry rolled over onto his front and rose to his knees. He looked around to where the voice came from and saw a somewhat young Caucasian man with dark blonde hair wearing a plain white robe with silk highlights, scowling back at him.
"Errr - wh-where am I?" he asked, completely confused. "Aren't I dead?"
"Yes - and, no," said the man. "Get up and follow me." And the man started to walk away from him.
Quickly, Harry rose the rest of the way to his feet. He looked around for his wand and - feeling his face first - his glasses. Frowning, he realised he could actually see quite clearly without them.
"Harry James! Come on!" the man called back, waiting in a doorway.
Not being able to find either his wand or glasses, Harry dusted his hands off and looked down to see he, too, was wearing a white robe. And his feet were bare.
"Yes, you look pretty," snarked the man. "Now, come on. We've got work to do; thanks to you."
Harry looked up and walked towards the man, following him out the door.
"Errr," said Harry. "Don't I know you from somewhere?"
"Yes, and no," said the man, as Harry followed him down a long hallway, with doors evenly spaced down both sides. "I've chosen to look like an American movie and television actor by the name of John Die... or something. He's played roles such as an angel on American television. It's supposed to make people feel easier about me... calmer."
Finally, coming to an almost stop at one of the doors, 'John' opened it and walked in. Harry followed. With a flick of his hand, the man closed the door. "To make it easier for you, you can call me John, if you like." Then, he gestured to one of the three white office chairs facing a desk. "Sit there," he said as he walked around to the other side of the desk and sat down in the white office chair, while Harry sat in the middle chair of the three.
In the middle of a desk blotter in front of where John sat, was a large manila folder. John flicked it open with a scowl.
"Where am I?" asked Harry. "What's going on?"
Looking up, John sighed. "We go through this every time, Harry James. It's become quite annoying having to repeat myself to you over and over again."
"Pardon?" asked Harry. "I've never met you before in my life!"
"No, you've met me in your afterlife," said John. "Now, listen and don't interrupt," he said, before Harry could do exactly that.
Making a waving gesture around, John said, "This place is known as Judgement. The closest analogy you could call it is 'The Pearly Gates'. Except, I'm not the angel Peter."
He waited to see the expression of understanding pass on Harry's face before he continued, "Now. There are far too many souls passing through here for Peter to check each one off in the book. So, he's appointed others to do the background work for him. I'm one of those. I'm your Grim Reaper. And my job is on the line because of you. You keep dying when you're not supposed to."
Startled, Harry stuttered and asked, "M-my what?"
"Your Grim Reaper," replied John. "It's been my job to make sure you get processed through Judgement when the Fates - Clotho, the spinner; Lachesis, the allotter; and Atropos, the unturnable - deem your life at an end. They're also known as the Moirai, the Parcae, Sudice, Sudičky..." With an irritable wave-off, John said, "Never mind; it isn't important.
"What it means is that each person has a destiny. Some aren't that big. And for some it could just be to live a few minutes after birth. But, there's a few - of which you're one - who have a huge destiny to face; or meet. Understand, so far?"
Harry just nodded, still mainly confused.
"Right," said John. "The Fates had big plans for you. You were supposed to be born; lose your parents when you were fifteen months old... that's the sort of thing that happens to those with big destinies... become known as The-Boy-Who-Lived to the wizarding world; be raised by your godfather; be trained by him, Remus John Lupin and Albus Wulfric Dumbledore; have it discovered you're one of the most powerful wizards, magically, in the wizarding world; meet one of your soul mates of a pair of girls in your year at Hogwarts; be emancipated..."
"Wait, wait, wait," said Harry, interrupting. "What do you mean 'soul mates'?"
With a sigh, John muttered, "Every time, you ask that. I guess I should expect it, by now." Muttering under his breath something about hormonal teenagers, John flicked through a couple of pages in his file and, in a somewhat clearer voice, said, "A Daphne Anna Greengrass and some Granger girl..."
"Hermione?" squeaked Harry.
"Yes," said John. "A Hermione Jean Granger." He looked back at Harry and said, "I believe you know them both."
Harry just nodded; not knowing what else to say, considering how stunned he was. He remembered Daphne Greengrass as being a very attractive platinum haired blonde Slytherin with 'runway model' looks.
"Right," said John. "Now, stop interrupting or I'll gag you." Harry looked both a little sheepish and affronted at the rebuke.
John continued, "... be emancipated as a result of your name coming out of the Goblet of Fire; win the tournament; be present for the resurrection of one Tom Marvolo Riddle in the graveyard at Little Hangleton; significantly wound him in the process, sending him running away in shock that you'd actually hurt him; capture Pettigrew; announce the resurrection of part of the soul of Tom Marvolo; hunt him down and kill him... yes, we're advocating for that... earn and demand your family name being elevated to an inheritable seat on the Wizengamot status; then go find the horcruxes and destroy them, with the help of the goblins; marry your choice of the two girls; have lots of kids together; run roughshod over the Wizengamot to get the bigoted laws renounced, stripped, whatever; and live until you're old enough to at least meet your great grandchildren; at which time you would be granted admission into the Celestial Kingdom. Got all that?"
"Errr," said Harry, suffering information overload. "Umm... no?... It's confusing."
With a wave off gesture, John said, "Don't worry about it; you will have the information you need when you go back.
"Now..." said John, before Harry interrupted him again.
"Go back?" asked Harry, still stunned. "What do you mean, 'go back'?"
"In a minute," said John, acting a little exasperated. "Let me get through this."
He rustled his papers about a bit and said, "This is what actually happened... and, you'll want to listen to this without interrupting, because there's a lot you don't know."
Harry just nodded.
With a grunt of acknowledgement, John explained, "Themis, the Goddess of Prophecy... amongst other things... gave Sybill Patricia Trelawney a prophecy to be uttered in front of that idiot, Albus Wulfric. With the prophecy, after your parents were killed, Albus Wulfric was supposed to see you safely to your godfather, Sirius Orion. Then he, Sirius Orion and Remus John... plus others they would eventually bring in... were supposed to work to prepare you to do well in Hogwarts, and give you enough knowledge to hurt Tom Marvolo at the graveyard in Little Hangleton. That would be the first blow that would make that silly Riddle boy fear you.
"Instead, Albus Wulfric took you to live with the last people you should have ever gone to... the Dursley family. There, because you were poorly nourished and treated, it led to your magic being damaged. Not a lot; but enough to make a difference. He didn't know your magical self would be harmed, but he did know you'd come into the magical world and look up to him as a grandfather figure, instead of the teacher he should have been.
"Next, his whole 'learn to forgive' philosophy stems from his fear that it was he who killed his sister. It wasn't. But his 'learn to forgive' philosophy is more him asking others, including his sister, to forgive him for killing her. It's messed him up; and the Fates didn't think it would have that big of an effect on the man. And helping you reach your destiny was supposed to assuage his guilt and let him think he's atoned himself. So, that one's on us.
"It's that philosophy," John almost snarled, jabbing his index finger down on the papers before him, "that's led to the huge rift between Slytherin and the other houses, especially Gryffindor. It's also led to so many joining Tom Marvolo's little army, when they never would have done so if they'd been properly punished for their infractions while at Hogwarts. They'd have learned there were consequences to their actions."
With a sigh, John sat back and rubbed his temples for a moment. He said, "But, that's not your problem to fix. The thing you have to do... no matter how hard it is... is let him die when the time comes. You are not to interfere as that is his time."
"What?" asked Harry shocked. "But... aren't I already dead? And so's he!"
"We'll get to that in a minute," said John. "Further, if you do interfere and he doesn't die; he will be a thorn in your political side until he'd otherwise pass on about fifty years later. If that happens you'll be facing yet another so-called dark lord and, again, die before your time.
"Now we come to the other problem children that interfered in your destiny... Molly Jillian Weasley, Ronald Bilius Weasley and Ginevra Molly Weasley."
"But," stuttered Harry. "Ginny's..."
"Shush!" said John. "Let me finish; then you'll have time for questions." Once he saw Harry had calmed down and nodded, he continued. "Ginevra Molly grew up listening to her mother read her bedtime stories about Harry Potter. From a very young age, her mother basically indoctrinated the poor girl into believing she would, one day, marry Harry Potter. That was her plan.
"That termagant, Molly Jillian, was raised a Prewett. And, the Prewett's had money. It was nothing compared to the Potter fortune, but it was more than enough to leave them wanting nothing. As a student at Hogwarts she set her sights on one Arthur Septimus Weasley, thinking his connections with the Black family through his mother would see her well taken care of. So, she dosed the poor young man with a love potion to... ensnare him.
"Her problem was that Arthur Septimus wasn't as ambitious as she thought he would be. He's quite happy making a modest living as a minor Office Head within the Ministry in their Misuse of Muggle Artefacts Office. Part of that is because of the love potions she keeps dosing him with. So, the Weasley's, while an otherwise loving family, are quite poor in comparison to others even though they're actually considered middle class. And, for Molly, this just won't do.
"She had hoped to get the whole family to aid her in seeing young Ginevra Molly ensnare you. However, Arthur Septimus is too honest a man to be involved in something like that; William Arthur loves his little sister, and would do just about anything for her, but believes in working hard and honestly to get what you want; Charles Septimus is only interested in his dragons; Percival Ignatius is too law abiding for her; and the twins, Frederic George and George Frederic, follow in the footsteps of their big brother, William Arthur – except they're a lot less serious. The only two who would aid her in her quest are her daughter and her youngest son, Ronald Bilius.
"Ronald Bilius, like her, is jealous of what others have. His problem is, he doesn't hide it anywhere near as well. He's also lazy, a bigot, and expects everything to be handed to him on a silver platter due to him being a pureblood. And you, young man, should have dropped him as a friend when you truly saw it for the first time. That was, if I remember correctly, when your godfather sent you your Firebolt broom. On top of that, your true male friend was someone you basically ignored for your whole time at Hogwarts... Neville Francis Longbottom."
Harry nodded, dropping his head; sad to have to agree.
"However, everything started well before that," said John. "You just didn't see it. And you should have."
Harry looked up again and frowned.
"Think about it, Harry James," said John. "Your first trip on the Express, and the Weasleys are outside the barrier. Molly Jillian is practically shouting out, 'What's the platform, dear? Nine and three quarters? All these muggles!'"
Harry almost laughed at the impressive impersonation of Molly Weasley; until he saw the expression on John's face. He then thought about what he'd said and frowned.
"I see you're getting it, now," said John, noticing his client's expression. "The woman went to Hogwarts for seven years, herself. She's then been seeing children off on the Express, and picking them up again, thrice a year, for ten years; the summer holidays, the Christmas holidays, and the Easter holidays. That's one hundred and two previous times she's likely been to the platform. Taking Ronald Bilius for his first trip was her one hundred and third. Either she's going senile... and we know she's not... or she had an ulterior motive. She did, and that ulterior motive was you."
"She was waiting for me... baiting me," muttered Harry. "And I fell for it."
With a nod, John said, "She was waiting for you to hear her and seek her out. That then led to a quick introduction to the Weasley family. That led to you meeting Ronald Bilius and Ginevra Molly for the first time. Understand, now?"
Harry again frowned and dropped his chin.
"Next, you also knew Molly Jillian admitted to using love potion to first snare Arthur Septimus. Is it so great a stretch to think she'd do the same with you?" asked John, watching the expressions pass over his client's face.
"What she did was much more than that, though. Potions Queen Molly Jillian did not want to leave anything to chance. She brewed a loyalty potion for you keyed to Ronald Bilius and instructed Ronald Bilius to start dosing you from the very first day. When Ronald Bilius finally reported to her that you had formed a friendship with your Hermione Jean, based on the events of that first Halloween at the castle, she instructed the boy to make sure you wouldn't get close to one another... that way. She was absolutely furious with him that he didn't report it to her immediately, instead of waiting to mention it to her just before Christmas. And, to top it off, he was to make sure you wouldn't get close to any other girl, either. The problem for Ronald Bilius is that... when he tried to drive a wedge between you two... it pretty much backfired on him. He was too late.
"At that point it looked like you were finally going to get out from under the influence of Weasley potions. We here, in Grim Reaper HQ, were ecstatic. However, Ronald Bilius... again under instructions from his mother... hit you with an extra strong loyalty potion, and you accepted him back as a friend. And, again, we were disappointed.
"Then, once you started paying a lot of attention to other girls late in your third year... and they were just as obvious in their attentions towards you... Molly Jillian knew she had to pull her cauldron out again. She also used the opportunity to start looking after Ronald Bilius's future, because the boy was doing the right thing by Ginevra Molly... surprising as that is. She started at the Burrow the summer between your third and fourth years. That's when she began collecting hairs from you and Hermione Jean, both.
"She began lightly dosing Hermione with a love potion keyed to Ronald Bilius, dosing Ronald Bilius with a love potion keyed to Hermione, and dosing you with a love potion keyed to Ginevra Molly. She also brewed a generic repulsion potion keyed to you and Hermione both, in case either of you started to receive advances from any others. And Ginevra Molly was then running around dosing the three of you with the love potions; and a few others... including Daphne Anna Greengrass and Cho Tse Chang... with repulsion potions.
"So, by the start of fourth year, she's had you on a loyalty potion keyed to Ronald Bilius for the past three years, just started you on a love potion keyed to Ginevra Molly, and a repulsion potion keyed to two other girls, of which one is your other soul mate. It's a wonder she hadn't turned your brain to mush. As it was, the loyalty and love potions were confuzzling your thinking to such a point it's surprising Tom Marvolo didn't manage to kill you the night of the third task, more than once.
"When you went on the horcrux hunt, on his mother's direct orders by way of a rune-based compulsion charm, he took along with him potions for the two of you. But, he only had enough for just over two months. When he ran out, he panicked. He fled, claiming he needed to find food, intent on heading back to the Burrow to get more. When he finally tracked down Molly Jillian, she already had the potions waiting for him. But, when he returned to the campsite, you were both already gone.
"He finally figured out how to use the deluminator left to him by Albus Wulfric to find you just before Christmas. But, holds off so he can enjoy a Christmas feast at William Arthur and Fleur Marie's cottage. The day after Christmas he finds you both, and starts dosing you again.
"Then there's his last mind alteration of you. When you came upon him, this evening, in the Entrance Hall at Hogwarts, he told you Hermione Jean had been killed."
Harry frowned and sadly nodded.
"He lied," said John, almost as a snarl.
"Wh-what?!" exclaimed Harry.
"He lied," snarled John. "She was very much alive. He suspected she'd want to go after you when you went into the Forest. He was right; she would have. So he stunned her, bound her, and stuffed her into the back of a broom closet under a notice-me-not charm.
"When he met you in the Entrance Hall, he told you she was dead and then hit you with a compulsion charm to go out into the forest and attack Tom Marvolo. His idea, not his mother's, was to get you out of the way so he could then play the loving friend and 'be there for' Hermione Jean in her grief for you.
"Unknowingly, he completely derailed Molly Jillian's plans for you and Ginevra Molly. And Molly Jillian almost completely upset the plans of Albus Wulfric by messing with your thinking. But, worse for them, they completely upset Fates' plan for you, Hermione Jean and Daphne Anna. And Peter's not happy with them... or with me."
"I," tried Harry. "Sorry. I... I don't understand."
"Who? Peter?" asked John, before waving it off. "Of course, Peter. You basically ask the same every time we meet."
"That I don't get," said Harry. "I know I've not met you before. A-at least, I don't think I have..."
"Yeah, well," started John, with a scowl. "This is why I'm so, so upset with you... and Albus Wulfric... and Molly Jillian... and Ginevra Molly... and Ronald Bilius."
Leaning forward in his chair, again, John tapped the file open in front of him. "You and I have already met before. Five times, to be exact. And this is the sixth."
"What?" exclaimed Harry.
"You... young man... have already had five UDEs. This is your sixth," said John. "The next one is permanent. There's a reason seven is considered a magical number."
"I... still don't understand," said Harry, completely confused. "I've died five times, already? Is that what you're saying?"
With a nod, John firmly said, "That's exactly what I'm saying."
"When?" asked Harry, trying to puzzle it out.
John flipped the file to a different page. "Your first UDE... that's an Unauthorised Death Event, by the way... was on the 25th of December 1987 when you were seven years old. It was Christmas Day. Your cousin tripped you on the stairs as a, sort of, Christmas present for himself. You fell face first down the stairs and broke your neck. At least it was near instant. We only had to backstep you an hour for that one. That's code here for send you back in time and reinsert you.
"Your second UDE was on the 4th of June 1992, when you went down after the Philosopher's Stone. Ronald Bilius forgot he was playing with real people on that giant chessboard and got you killed by one of the opposing chess pieces. A mace to the head ruined your day... and mine. That was a three hour backstep.
"Your third UDE was on the 29th of May 1993, when you were fighting the basilisk. You looked it in the eye before the phoenix pecked them out. That was a two-hour backstep.
"Your fourth UDE was on the 6th of November 1993, when you fell off your broom due to the dementor attack during your Quidditch match against Hufflepuff. That was a one hour backstep.
"Your fifth UDE was on the 24th of June 1995, when Tom Marvolo did actually manage to kill you at the graveyard in Little Hangleton. That was also a one hour backstep.
"And you already know what you did in this UDE."
"But... how come I don't remember you?" asked Harry.
"We wipe your memories before backstepping you. That is, sending you back to an earlier time and fiddling with people's thoughts so things turn out a little differently. Differently enough that what got you killed doesn't get you killed again."
"And that's what you're going to do this time?" asked Harry, a little worried.
With a firm voice, John replied, "No. But, that's one of the last things we'll talk about. Do you have any other questions before I get to that?"
Thinking furiously, Harry asked, "Back to these soul mates..."
With a wave-off gesture, John said, "That's part of what we're going to do this time. Next?"
With an irritated sigh, Harry next asked, "What about me being rich?"
"That one I can answer right now," replied John. "Did it not occur to you to wonder why the vault your funds are in at Gringotts is referred to as your trust vault?"
"No," replied Harry, again a little confused. "No, I..." And then it looked like Harry understood.
"It was referred to as that because it was one of three," said John. "The trust vault was your spending money until you reached your majority; or, you were emancipated earlier. At that time, your trust vault would be merged with one of the other two vaults. One is the liquid assets... money... and business, property and investment deeds. The other is the heirloom vault... jewellery, paintings, weaponry, and stuff like that.
"When you go back... and you are going back, by the way... as soon as possible after your name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, you are to report yourself to the goblins and have your emancipation declared and documented. Organise it in advance, though."
Harry asked, "Ron's not my friend and Ginny's not my soul mate?"
"Definitely not on either count," John replied firmly. "And, when you go get your emancipation through the goblins, you'll be able to don the Head of House ring for House Potter. It'll add to the protections from someone spiking you with potions."
Thinking a bit more, Harry asked, "I never asked him at the time; but, how did Ron find us with the deluminator?"
"Ha!" said John. "Now that your mind's free of those potions, you're starting to think things through again. Very good! As you should remember, Albus Wulfric gave Ronald Bilius that deluminator as a bequeathment to the boy upon his death. It was one of the little doodads Albus Wulfric was using to keep an eye on you. It had a combined point-me charm and distance charm built into it. And Ronald Bilius figured it out. Thus showing he isn't the idiot he likes to portray to others."
"And why do you call Dumbledore 'Albus Wulfric' when his name's 'Albus Wulfric Percival Brian Dumbledore'?" asked Harry.
"No; it's Albus Percival Wulfric Bri..." John started to correct before he gave an annoyed wave-off gesture. "Two reasons," he replied, holding up two fingers of the same hand. "Up here, only given names are used; and the names Percival and Brian aren't actually part of his name. Albus Wulfric added them, himself, to make him seem more important."
Harry just snorted at hearing that. 'Figures,' he thought. Thinking a bit more, he said, "Alright, I suppose this is the time you tell me how I'm supposed to fix this mess. That is why you're telling me all this, isn't it?"
With a smile, John slowly said, "Very good. You're starting to think things through, now." Giving Harry another look, he said, "If you have no other questions..?"
Giving a frown and a headshake, Harry replied, "Not at this time, no. I suppose I'll have to hear what you're not yet telling me to determine if I have any more."
With another smile and slow head nod, John said, "Yes. Well. As I've already said, we're sending you back. But..." he said, holding a finger up to forestall anything Harry might say, "... Because you've already had six UDEs, we're sending you back with your memories intact. And, we're backstepping you a great deal further than just a few hours."
"To when?" asked Harry, frowning.
"To the morning of the day you returned to Hogwarts on the Express for your fourth year; the 1st of September 1994," replied John.
Harry looked at him in shock. "That's one mighty big jump back in time," he said.
With a firm nod, John said, "It is. However, this has been authorised by the big guy, himself. Plus, we're also making a few other changes, this time. They're important."
"Like?" Harry slowly asked.
"Like; we're upgrading your soul mate status with Hermione Jean and Daphne Anna to soul bond for them both. We're giving y..."
"Wait!" interrupted Harry. "Soul mate; soul bond. What do those mean?"
With an irritated mutter about teenagers, John replied, "There are various levels of relationships for souls. The first relationship is 'soul acquaintance'. This means, if you meet the other, you're on passing terms with one another. But, they'd not be friends, unless pushed to that level. The second relationship is 'soul friends'. Your souls are in tune enough that you and the other can easily form a long term friendship. You and Neville Francis, you and Luna Celeste, for examples. Then comes 'soul mate'. Soul mates can easily fall in love with one another, marry and have a very happy life together. But they really don't have to, and won't be worse off if they don't. Everyone has quite a few soul mates running around on the planet near their own age.
"The second from the top is 'soul bond'. These are people who are so in tune with one another they're stronger, together, than apart. Their souls, effectively, link together. For magicals, when soul bonds form, the people involved become impervious to any sort of spell, potion or other means to break them apart. If it's an attempted spell, it'll just slide right off. If it's a mind-altering potion, the person who consumes it will be violently ill from it..."
"How ill?" asked Harry, jumping in.
"Ever heard of the term 'projectile vomiting'?" asked John, as he smiled back.
"Ewww," Harry shuddered.
"Well," said John. "That only happens, of course, if the potion is only in your stomach, at that time. If it's already passed through your stomach and been absorbed, there's no projectile vomiting; but, there is a short period of pain as the potion in your system is neutralised. Of course, that second one can only occur if the potion is in your system when you initiate the soul bond; as it won't reach beyond your stomach once the bond is established."
Continuing with a smile, John said, "A soul bond can only be... interrupted... by the death of one of those involved. Once both... or, in this case, more... pass through The Pearly Gates, the soul bond reforms.
"The upper relationship is 'soul bound'. Those involved in a soul bound relationship find their souls; not linked, but shared between each other. They're even able to communicate telepathically. For magicals, they can even share magic. However, if one of the party dies, they both... or all... die. That way, they pass through The Pearly Gates, together. The terms 'soul bond' and 'soul bound' are often confused with one another.
"Now, stop interrupting; and, I'll probably be answering the rest of your questions as I talk," he said and waited until he knew Harry would comply. "One of the reasons your relationship with both has been elevated from soul mate to soul bond is because of, for a start, those protections from spells, potions and the like. The second is because it allows us the opportunity to send Hermione Jean and Daphne Anna back with you..."
"Hermione and Miss Green... sorry, Daphne are dead, too?" asked a shocked Harry.
"Yes; now, stop interrupting!" said John, before glaring back at the young man sitting before him. "Hermione Jean, once Ronald Bilius revived her and told her you'd died, ran screaming straight at Tom Marvolo casting curses as she went before Ronald Bilius could stop her. She managed to wound him quite significantly before he killed her. Daphne Anna has her own story to tell. It will be up to her when, and how, she tells you about the manner of her death. Her own Grim Reaper is talking to her about that.
"Now... they, too, will be returning with their memories intact. They, too, will be bound by the contract I'm soon about to have you sign. Elevating your relationships with them to a soul bond allows me... us... to do this. And, you're going to need help. Hermione Jean gives you book smarts, and the ability to think outside of the box; and Daphne Anna... as well as being very smart in her own right... gives you knowledge of wizarding law, traditions, et cetera; and access to people who can be a great help to the three of you.
"Next, all three of you will be given what you wizards and witches call Occlumency shields. Daphne Anna already has them, but her current ones are not anywhere near what we're about to boost them to.
"Third, the soul fragment that was wedged behind your scar is gone. You lose the 'bonus' life because of it, but it'll now no longer cause you great pain when another part of Tom Marvolo's fractured soul is anywhere near you. That should make what you do in the graveyard a lot easier to accomplish. You no longer need it to check for horcruxes because you already know what and where they all are."
"Thank you," said Harry, very grateful for that particular burden to have been lifted.
"You're welcome," said John. "Fourth; part of the contract I'm having you sign a non-disclosure clause. It deals with what you know of what happens in the future. To help you not disclose anything of that nature, you'll simply not be able to tell anyone without us releasing you to do so. So, anyone who tries to force the information from you... whether it be by potions such as Veritaserum, or by spell such as the Imperius curse, or by magical oath or vow... the knowledge is protected. And that includes from Albus Wulfric and Severus Tobias.
"So, on to your tasks," said John. "You cannot do anything about Ronald Bilius or Ginevra Molly, right away. That has to wait until you catch them out. Your opportunity to cut ties with Ronald Bilius occurs, at the latest, after your name comes out of the Goblet of Fire, and he then accuses you of putting your name in the Goblet and not telling him. As for Ginevra Molly, just keep treating her as 'Ron's little sister' and don't let her get close to you.
"However," said John with a smile. "I think your so-called friendship with both will come to a quick and crashing halt if you kiss Daphne Anna right in front of them both.
"Next, you're not allowed to interfere with what Bartemius Junior... Barty Crouch Junior... is doing while he's at the school. His part must play out so that you end up in the graveyard. I know that's going to be hard for you to do. But, you need to... as they say... suck it up. However, immediately after his part in the third task is done, 'out' him. Do not leave with him when you return to the school.
"Third, immediately after your name comes out of the Goblet, stand in place and give oath that you did not place your name in the Goblet, nor did you ask or require anyone else to do it for you. Do not say you don't know who did it; because, of course, you do."
"Fourth, the morning after your name comes out, immediately after an early breakfast, go direct to Gringotts to be emancipated. As I've already mentioned, you can even set that up in advance. Use your invisibility cloak and use one of the secret passages out to Hogsmeade. Then Floo to the Alley.
"Fifth, find a lawyer to represent Sirius in a trial. The man deserves one. And use that lawyer to go after and litigate against those who libel you, Daphne Anna and Hermione Jean... and, yes, that includes Rita Grace Skeeter. However, you probably won't be able to organise one the morning you go to Gringotts because it will be a Sunday morning." John seemed to think about for that for a moment before he said, "Unless, of course, you ask the Potter Account Keeper at Gringotts to organise you a good one. Or organise one earlier; which is probably a better idea.
"Sixth... you can do this at any time; but, I suggest you do it at different times, and start with Daphne Anna first... you need to initiate the soul bonds with Daphne Anna and Hermione Jean. All it takes is 'Love's First Kiss'."
"Sorry?" asked Harry, still mainly confused. "What?"
"Love's First Kiss," said John. "That's how the bond starts to form."
"I..." tried Harry. "But, Hermione's kissed me before. And..."
"No," corrected John. "She's given you a kiss to your cheek. That's not 'Love's First Kiss'. It needs to be lips to lips... with somewhat, at least, open mouths."
"I..." Harry tried again. "But... why?"
John sighed and said, "You know what the Dementor's Kiss is, right?"
"In order for the dementor to draw the soul out of it's victim; it needs, pretty much, mouth to mouth contact," explained John. "The most direct route to the soul is through the mouth. In the same way the dementor needs to draw your soul out through your mouth, it's how two souls begin the soul bond. So, that's what's meant by 'Love's First Kiss', and how the soul bond is initiated. It's why people who're beginning to fall in love usually start with the first intimate touch being a kiss. They're instinctively looking for 'Love's First Kiss'. Understand?"
Harry nodded and said, "Yeah. When you say it like that; it make sense, I guess."
"Seventh," said John, continuing on his list of tasks, "go after all the horcruxes except for the snake and the ring. The ring's for Albus Wulfric to find. The snake's last; either Neville will be taking that out, or you can take it out sometime after Tom Marvolo's resurrection. Tell the goblins about Hufflepuff's Cup in Bellatrix Druella's vault... and that it's a horcrux. They'll deal with it. You know where the locket and the diadem are; so, get rid of them as soon as possible... and, before the resurrection."
"But why can't I... we... just destroy all the horcruxes before the resurrection?" whined Harry. "Can't I just destroy them all and have him... pass on... the next time he tries to jump bodies?"
John frowned back and said, "Don't whine, Harry James. It's unbecoming." With a sigh he continued, "The prophecy states you or he have to die by the other's hand; not pass on because you destroyed his soul anchors. To die he has to be alive. To be alive he has to be resurrected. Cum hoc, ergo propter hoc."
John then leaned back over the document file before him and said, "That's your first seven tasks. There'll be more; and I and Hermione Jean's and Daphne Anna's Grim Reapers will be visiting the three of you, from time to time, as Guardian Angels to keep you apprised of what those tasks are. I am not letting you get into another UDE situation. Not on my watch. I will not lose my job, and end up back as baritone in the Heavenly Choir just because you won't stay alive! I'm almost tone deaf, for Peter's sake!"
John then lifted a thick document out of his document folder, quickly glanced over it, and placed it in front of Harry, the right way around for Harry to read. Then took a fountain pen off his desk tidy and placed it on the document.
"You need to sign in each of the highlighted areas," said John.
Harry reached forward and picked up the documents, flicking through them. "What are all these?" he asked.
"The contract and forms, of course," said John. "The contract is what we talked about. Then comes our internal forms. One's your acknowledgement you're on your sixth, and last, UDE. The next is your acknowledgement you're returning with your memories intact, and that you cannot speak about future events with anyone but Daphne Anna and Hermione Jean. The third grants us permission to lock away that future knowledge. The fourth is the application for the Occlumency upgrade, complete with the knowledge of how to maintain it and modify it as needed. The fifth is the application for change of soul relationship status between you and Hermione Jean from 'soul mate' to 'soul bond'. The sixth is the same for Daphne Anna. The seventh is the application for special backstep status to the 1st of September 1994. The last one is your 'customer feedback form' that states I've done a good job in advising you of all this."
Harry gave him a funny look; but, John just looked back with a bland expression. He began to sign all the forms in the highlighted areas.
When he was finished, he dropped the documents back onto the desk, with the pen on top, and asked, "What now?"
John picked the documents up, checked through to make sure all forms were signed, placed them back in the document folder and closed it. "Now, we go and get you prepared for your return."
While tucking the folder under his arm, he rose and said, "Come with me."
John led him out of the office, down a corridor and into various other rooms. In one, Harry had his Occlumency shields installed, together with knowledge on how to maintain them. He went into what was called the Souls Relationship Room and had his soul relationship between he and the two girls upgraded.
Next, in the Memories Room, the memories of his previous deaths were returned to him, then all his memories from the 1st of September 1994 until then, and the previous deaths, were locked behind his new Occlumency shields. It was his job to push everything that happened from that time until he woke up behind the same shield. It was one he could get behind, but no one else. His memories of the tasks that awaited him were also organised so it was easy for him to recall them. It was also explained to him that, due to his Master Occlumens status, memory charms no longer worked on him.
In the Room of Fates he was shown the incredibly large and in-depth tapestry through a window, where he saw Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos working on the weaves of lives. Another window showed a very large hourglass that had about ninety percent of the sand still in the upper bulb.
"That's yours," said John, pointing to the hourglass. "Part of what is going to happen, in here, is that almost four years worth of sand... each grain representing a day of your life, by the way... will be returned to the upper bulb." With a wry smile, John said, "Like sands through the hourglass; so are the days of your life."
When Harry didn't react John seemed disappointed. Harry thought the man... angel... Grim Reaper... whatever... was just being weird. The reference was lost on him.
Pointing to the three Fates, John said, "They're in the process of rejoining the strand of your life... which snapped before it's time... back into the weave. They're also adding others back in, including Daphne Anna and Hermione Jean. The rest are the people you're going to save with this backstep."
"Who'll they be?" asked Harry.
"That would be telling," smiled John. "The only one I can tell you about is Sirius Orion. One of your tasks includes saving his life. You do that, in part, by organising that lawyer."
Finally, he was led into the Return Room.
There, he was shown to what looked like a seven foot tall inverted glass test tube with wires coming out of the top of it. There was a sliding door in the side of it.
"I... thought I was going back with Hermione and Daphne?" asked Harry.
"Harry James," sighed John, "You only have to arrive at near enough the same time. You don't have to be sent back at the same time."
"Oh," said Harry, feeling a little silly. "Time travel... of course."
"Neither Hermione Jean, nor Daphne Anna have been sent back yet. However, you'll be arriving after both." John smiled at him and instructed, "Get in the tube and we can get you on your way."
Harry stepped within and John stood holding the glass door open. "Remember," he said; "seven main tasks, for now. And, I'll be paying you visits, every now and then, to keep you on the right path. When I do I'll let you know if there are any changes to the overall plan you need to adopt."
"Yeah," said Harry, getting quite nervous. "Thanks."
John slid closed and latched the door. Harry noticed it appeared sound-proof, as he couldn't hear what was going on outside of it. All he could do was watch, as the others in the room seem to do something with a panel.
Next thing he knew, John turned to look at him with a grin and waved. Then the bottom floor of the tube he was in seemed to fall and flip out of the way, and he dropped. Not expecting it, he exclaimed, "Oh, shiiiiii..."