Part 5: Yet Another Time Travel Fic
Harry swallowed. "Let me guess... I should've went on my tirade after you handed it over to me?"
Snape smiled humorlessly. And quickly drank the time-travel elixir.
Hah - just kidding. You know what would happen if Snape drank the time travel deus-ex-machina draught while in a story revolving around Harry Potter's Point-Of-View? It would be freaking epic. I mean, it'd be like if someone told Groundhog's Day from Rita's perspective in dealing with an increasing erratic Bill Murray. It'd be an interesting and unique twist on story-telling that you'd never seen before!
Which, of course, is why you're not getting it. So buckle up for yet another Harry-Travels-Back-In-Time fic!
Snape grumbled about the unfairness of it all, and handed the potion over to Harry.
Harry, of course, was the one to drink the potion.
Harry woke up with a start. Was that a cannon blast he heard?
"Where's the cannon?" Dudley asked.
'Oh, right,' Harry thought. 'It always takes you back to when you got your Hogwarts letter.' Pure coincidence that it's around the first movie's plot starts, right?
Hagrid burst through the door, committed a few lines of forgettable dialogue, and then said, "Yer a wizard, Harry!"
Harry was sort of spaced out, though – and he pretty much ignored the whole argument between the Hogwarts groundskeeper and his family. He was too busy trying to think through all the ramifications of his going back in time - and all the stuff he was going to have to do (or, do over.)
"This is it, Harry," Hagrid said, drawing him out of his reflection.
"This is what?" he asked.
"This is the moment," Hagrid said, nudging him with a comically oversized elbow. "The moment yeh finally tell them Dursleys what you think of them and their treatment of yeh over the years."
Harry swallowed and nodded.
He turned to Vernon and Petunia. "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry."
Vernon and Petunia blinked.
Hagrid raised an eyebrow. "You mean, yer sorry, but yer going ter have to hex them? Or, sorry, but you think they're a waste of space? Sorry, but they're going ter have to die?"
"... er, what? No!" Harry shook his head. "Listen, I'm sorry for what happened to you - especially you, Aunt Petunia." As Harry finally thought about it, really thought about what his relatives had been put through...
"You... you had a sister," Harry continued, stumbling a bit. "And she entered this strange world, a world that's backwards and unenlightened and deadly. Later, when you married and had a son, you found out a murderous psychopath was trying to kill your sister - and you were worried the rest of your family would get drawn into that conflict, that your son and your husband would be slaughtered. You just... you just wanted your family to be safe, for them to have nothing to do with that sort of dangerous world."
Petunia's lip trembled a bit and she cut in. "And then she was murdered - that madman murdered my sister."
She couldn't seem to finish.
Harry nodded. "And then other wizards dragged your family into the whole thing when they placed me here on your doorstep, which meant they were placing your whole family in the same sort of danger that had killed your sister - and you couldn't do anything about it. I just wanted to say I'm sorry for what happened. You just wanted to live your lives - and while I don't really forgive how you've treated me over the years, I guess... well, I guess I can at least understand it."
Harry turned to Hagrid. "I'm ready to go, now."
Hagrid frowned. "Harry, when I said you were supposed ter tell the Dursleys what yeh thought of 'em, yeh were supposed to be an ungrateful smartass on a hair-trigger and possibly even cast some illegal spells on 'em. Yer not supposed to have empathy, forgiveness, or grace!"
Hagrid sighed. "This fic is going ter suck."
Harry walked into the Owl Store. It had a name, but it had a rather convoluted spelling and the author was too lazy to google it.
In the back, Harry saw her - his faithful strigine companion: Hedwig.
"This is bullshit," the owner swore. "The author is too lazy to look up my store's name, but he's showing off by looking up the equine/bovine/feline version of owl? What the hell? Who even uses the word 'Strigine' in a conversation?"
Passerbys within earshot of his diatribe looked over with curious, strigine glances.
Harry ignored them all. He was too intent on Hedwig.
Hedwig, however, was too engrossed in her current task to notice him, and was in the middle of a rather tricky bit of differential equations.
"Hedwig," Harry called softly.
Hedwig finally looked at her once-and-future owner. She gave him a look and hooted. Sure, it was just a glance and a regular owl hoot, but it somehow clearly conveyed, 'It's nice to meet you, Harry Potter, but I'm in the middle of trying to derive an alternative to string theory using Euler's Formula as a base for quantum interactions. If you'll just give me a minute to finish my train of thought, I'll be with you shortly.'
Harry nodded in understanding.
A few minutes later, Hedwig seemed to finish her work. She then pooped; white liquid squirting onto newspapers lining her cage. But she did so in a way that unmistakably said, 'It appears complex numbers aren't going to be sufficient for my purposes. This will take more thought later on. In any case, I'm ready to depart this store and serve as your familiar hence-forth.'
"Agreed," Harry said, nodding.
As Harry was walking along the sidewalks, on the outskirts of some London suburb, he noticed a rather strange building. It looked like an eastern temple of some sort.
"Oh, no. Not this again," Harry groaned.
"Huyah!" came a unified set of yells from inside.
"No, no, no, no no. Really, can we just skip this part? I mean, do I have to learn a martial art in every story?"
A wise old asian man stepped outside. Because everyone knows you can't have a martial arts group run by a white person. Or someone under the age of 60.
"Ah, a new student," the man called out.
"No, no, I was just walking by," Harry replied nervously. "Please, I, I just want to get back to..."
The asian man laughed. "You so funny, Wehgukin. You come inside now."
Harry blinked. "This is vaguely racist."
"It's time for you to rearn Tae Kwon Do."
"Rearn? Definitely racist."
Harry exited the Dojang, his Gi splattered with sweat and blood from another rough round of Wudan with his Sensei.
"Wait, what? Dojang is a Korean School, Gi is a japanese uniform I think, and... isn't Wudan a Chinese thing?"
Which, of course, made sense. Because his instructor - the venerable old asian man of ultimate fighting proficiency - was a master of 23 different martial arts; obviously Tae-Kwon-Do, Karate, and Kung-Fu were among those numerous styles, which obviously explained why the author was mixing and matching martial arts concepts! Not due to cluelessness!
"Uh... I thought it took something like two decades to earn mastery in a martial art. Nobody has a mastery in dozen different ones, and if they did, they wouldn't be running a rinky-dink school with a few dozen students in t..."
The old Asian man strode out of the Dojang after Harry. "It is time," he said softly, interrupting his pupil's diatribe of the author, his asian voice dripping with wise asianness.
"... it's what time?" Harry asked, bewildered.
"Time for you to set out into the world," the man replied (still asianly.) "For you have learned all that I have to teach you."
Harry was about to reply that it was ridiculously stupid to think it was possible for a 10 year old to learn everything an old man had to teach... but then he realized the author was shooting for a crappy imitation of a martial arts movie. Possibly because martial arts movies were the extent of their knowledge about the subject (and if you couldn't trust Hollywood, who could you trust, right?)
Fine. Harry could play this game.
"Only because I had such a good teacher," Harry replied back, trying to sound sage. It, surprisingly, didn't work well coming from a 11-year-old british boy.
"It's the student that makes the teacher," the man replied with Asianness.
"Then I'm proud to have made you that good teacher."
The asian nodded, apparently happy with the level of contrived, phony mysticism. "Now, Harry-San, you must go forth, and use your techniques to beat the crap out of anyone that even slightly disrespects you."
Harry blinked. "I thought martial arts were about learning self control, self discipline, and self restraint?"
"No, Harry-San" the instructor replied. "It's for learning how to break every bone in Draco Malfoy's body. You must become the very avatar of douchebaggery, inflicting harm against anyone that dares voice something you don't approve of."
Harry sighed. Hagrid was right. This fic was going to suck.
Sirius sat in his Azkaban cell, smirking. Soon... soon he would be free.
Bellatrix looked at her relative, grinning away in his cell. "You're awfully happy."
"That's because I'm in a fanfiction," Sirius replied with a grin. "And it's always a race to see how fast the author can bust me out of jail. They never let me sit in here for too long."
Bellatrix raised an eyebrow.
"Why, there are some stories where Pettigrew is caught and I'm freed in the span of two paragraphs."
Bellatrix simpered. "Is it possible for me to get out, too?"
Sirius shrugged. "The cliche Azkaban-Breakout will inevitably be halfway through the story. You'll get out then."
"I don't want to wait that long!"
Sirius shrugged. "Well, there's always the kinky Bellatrix-and-Harry-take-on-the-world-while-boning-each-other ship."
Bellatrix frowned. "Isn't he a half-blood?"
Sirius didn't get a chance to answer; a metal clanging announced his cell door opening up.
"You've been exonerated, Black," the guard said. "Minister Fudge passed the announcement just today."
Sirius smirked. It was time to get out of here and...
"You want to what?" Harry asked in alarm.
Sirius grinned. "I want to teach you how to be an animagus."
"Isn't that Harry-Becomes-An-Animagus trope being overdone to the point of cliche?"
Harry raised his eyebrows.
"Well, yes," Sirius admitted. "But there are so many different animals you could turn into. So it doesn't feel old, because while there are twelve trillion stories of you learning to turn into an animal, there's only a few dozen of you turning into a Panther, or a few dozen of you turning into a falcon, or a few dozen of you turning into a dragon, or a few dozen..."
"I get the point," Harry groaned. "So... how does this work?"
"With a potion and meditation..."
"Holy shit," Harry swore. "Isn't that how all animagus stories go? Couldn't anyone be original? Like, you have to go on a safari and perform a ritual where you hunt and kill the animal to become it? Or you have to save an animal from death's clutches and earn a life-debt from the animal which is transformed into the ability to wildshape into it? Or what about..."
Sirius ignored him. "First, we'll need to simmer a cauldron of water. Go get a cauldron, will you?"
Harry sighed, but began following the instructions.
First, they brought a cauldron of water to a boil.
Then they added poppies.
And then they let it simmer.
Harry's brow furrowed. "That's it? That's all there is to the potion?"
"Yep," Sirius confirmed.
"Isn't... isn't this just opium we're making?" Harry asked.
"Oh! So you've heard of it!" Sirius replied, laughing. "Yes, and when we make the elixir of opium, we ingest it and then we'll meditate until we run into our spirit animal..."
Harry snorted; 'Spirit Animals'? Honestly.
"Something the matter?"
"No, no," Harry answered, suppressing an eyeroll. "The sky-spirit was just telling me a funny tale about the trickster fox breaking my teepee's dreamcatcher."
Sirius frowned, but continued his instructions. "... run into our spirit animal, and once we do some other, shamanistic native-american-ish rituals, we'll be able to transform into animals at will!"
Seeing no way out of this mess (when did Harry every actively choose not to be an Animagus?), he sighed. Well, no choice now but to elevate the story's rating due to 'Situations of Drug Use'.
Harry drank the hallucinogenic 'potion'.
And then the descriptions began. Flowing passages, numerous paragraphs, describing the strange sensations experienced by Harry Potter. Voyages of the sensory input, completely ignored by the reader, because they were simply skipping down until they could find out what freaking animal Harry could turn into for this story.
It was then, after all the lurid adjectives and reader skimming that Harry finally discovered his inner animal.
"I'm a duck."
Sirius blinked. "A what?"
"A duck. A black mallard with a green lightning bolt on my plumage."
Sirius shook his head. "Stop messing with me. You're always a hyper-masculine, overly-powerful creature. A dragon, a phoenix, a tiger, a panther, a python, a lion, a rhino, a griffin - you know, something cool."
"Sirius, I'm a duck."
"No, no, no!" Sirius shouted. "That's so lame. This fic is defective!"
Harry smirked. "At least I can get bread at the park from old retired folks."
Meanwhile, Ron was still in therapy trying to come to terms with the fact that he'd slept in a bed curled up with a grown man pretending to be a rat for the last few years.
You'd think more authors would use this excuse to get Ron out of the way in their stories... but it turns out making him a functional retard with an eating disorder is more enjoyable.
"So, where are you off to now, Harry?"
Harry shrugged. "I was going to go to the ministry to see if I could get the underage restriction on my magic removed. Shouldn't be too hard - while I hate playing the Boy-Who-Lived card, everyone loves me, and I've got money to boot."
Sirius frowned. "I don't know if it'll be that simple, Harry."
"Of course it will. This is a fanfiction - getting something done at the ministry is a piece of cake. Just watch."
Harry strode into the Ministry of Magic.
"Purpose of Visit?" asked a bored receptionist.
"I want to remove the underage restriction on my wand."
The receptionist replied in a deadened voice. "Wand modifications are performed in the Department of Wandcraft."
"Where is that at?"
"North wing, fourth floor."
"Well, yes, this is the Department of Wandcraft, but I can't really help you out."
"Well, removing an underage trace is a Class D-7 modification, which takes signed approval from the D.U.W."
"Department of Underage Witchcraft."
"... what if, theoretically, the Boy-Who-Lived is asking you to perform it without that approval form?"
"Wouldn't matter," the wizard said with a shrug. "Spells are monitored regularly, and tracked by the D.I.M.S."
"Department of Inner-Ministry Spellwork. They have a procedure to match up all trace removal spells with the copy of the paperwork provided by the D.U.W. If I remove the trace, but they don't have the paperwork to match, they'll re-add the trace and I'd lose my job."
"Okay," Harry said, nodding. "Then I need to go to the Department of Underage Witchcraft."
"Sixth floor, west wing."
"Well, yes, that's true," Matilda Hopkirk said. "The problem is, I'm not authorized to give permission for your underage magic restriction to be lifted."
"But... but the person in Department of Wandcraft said they needed a signed approval from you."
"And they do," Matilda said, nodding. "But I'm just responsible for signoff and providing liaison between DIMS, DWC, and MLERC."
"Ministry Legal Exemption Review Committee."
Harry sighed. "Would it be possible for, hypothetically, to get signoff for the Boy-Who-Lived, but without going through the MLERC?"
Matilda shook her head sadly. "I'm sorry, but MLERC has oversight over our department and frequently audits our paperwork. I'd mean my job if I did that."
"Fine. I'll go see the MLERC."
"East wing, second floor."
"Is this the Ministry Legal Exemption Review Committee?"
"Sort of. It's the Ministry Legal Exemption Department - MLED. The actual Review Committee only meets every other Wednesday for approved petitions."
"Well, people that are seeking legal exemptions need to petition the MOMLRD - Ministry of Magic Legal Requests Department. The MOMLRD reviews the requests to see if they meet surface standards - prima facie in legal parlance. Those requests are forwarded to us, and we compile them and arrange them for scheduling into the MLERC sessions."
"So I need to petition the MOMLRD?"
"Yes. They're in the north wing, eighteenth floor."
"Well, that's technically true," the MOMLRD receptionist said. "But you're actually going to have to talk with the MLED first."
"I just came from there. They told me to come here."
"Then they should have told you that petitioners to MOMLRD must first file a Petition Intent form."
"Why the heck would I need to ask MLED if I can ask MOMLRD to submit a request back to MLED?"
"That's a good question. We get that a lot. But it's part of oversight to prevent MOMLRD personnel from pigeonholing requests."
"It makes it impossible for MOMLRD personnel to get a request and simply stuff it away in a desk drawer and never act on it. Since the Intent to Petition goes through the MLED, a MOMLRD can't pigeonhole a request since the MLED will also know of the request and be able to follow up if they don't receive a PAAS or PAAD."
"Petition Acknowledged And Scheduled or Petition Acknowledged And Denied. Of course, PAAD have additional documentation that gets routed to the MOMOC - Ministry of Magic Oversight Committee - and the appropriate department matching the nature of the request - the DWC, in your case."
Harry groaned. "Okay, so, if I submit an Intent notice to the MLED, then submit an actual petition to the MOMLRD, I can wait until next Wednesday for the MLERC to approve it - and if they do, then go through the... I forget which departments, and then they can finally remove the trace on my wand?"
"Sure, as long as you fall under a pre-approved category for legal exemption."
"Well, you have to fall under an existing classification as to why you're requesting legal exemption. Such as, you're going to be pursuing an underage apprenticeship that requires use of a wand. You'll need to know which existing exemption you fall under and fill out the appropriate paperwork depending on which exemption class you're filing for."
"Where can I look to find out what the existing exemptions are?"
"Ministry Legislative Archives - MLA - on the fifth floor of the southern wing."
Harry quickly decided that it sounded like too much work (plus, knowing his luck, he'd have to get signed authorizations from several other departments just to look at MLA files anyways.)
"... assuming I don't fall under an existing exemption?" Harry asked with a wince.
"You'd have to lobby an MGLL representative to propose a classification change in the MOMLC sessions - and if the proposal is ratified, then you can..."
Harry sighed and left the room.
Sirius grinned at the sight of a bedraggled Harry Potter walked back into the room, nine hours later.
"So, did you get your trace removed?" he asked snarkily.
"Did you honestly think the ministry was some finely running clock? It's a government bureaucracy. I had to spend five hours just to get my name corrected from 'Serious' when I was admitted to Hogwarts. And even *that* wasn't completely successful - do you think all those Sirius/Serious puns in fanfiction are coincidence?"
"Next time I'll just bribe the minister," Harry groaned.
"Yep," Sirius replied with an eyeroll. "Because Fudge just reeks of competence. Why, he'd efficiently and effectively cut through bureaucratic red-tape with startling success."
"My, my, my. I believe I've sorted you once before, Mister Potter."
Harry blinked. Apparently the author was just randomly skipping forward through large chunks of the story, and they were now at the Hogwarts sorting ceremony.
"Well, are you going to sort me in Gryffindor again?" Harry asked.
"Honestly, I'm not sure," the hat admitted.
"Oh? Did I really change that much over the last few years? Shouldn't I still be in Gryffindor?"
The hat didn't seem to hear him and was pondering something else. "It looks like stories where you're sorted into Ravenclaw are still making a showing, there's a surge of sorted-into-Hufflepuff, along with another resurgence of fics where you end up in Slytherin."
"So?!" the hat exclaimed. "Well, I'm trying to be original, so I'm going to put you in whatever house is currently underrepresented."
Harry blinked. "Wait, wouldn't original be: writing a new and exciting and fresh story? Like, Voldemort breaks into the Department of Mysteries, steals a time turner, and begins to try to conquer history itself - with Harry, a middle-aged Dumbledore from decades past, and an elderly version of Remus Lupin from an apocalyptic future trying to hunt him down? Or, Rita Skeeter overhears a bit of international intrigue about a plot to overthrow the statue of secrecy and is suddenly hunted by a strange coalition of Death Eaters, rogue Order members, and even a shadowy cabal from the continent? Or Lupin and Snape try to work on a Lycanthropy cure that backfires and mutates the werewolf curse into something that can be spread like the flu?"
"No, original is me saying 'Gryffindor' when only 20% of the fics have you in that house. Speaking of which... Better Be Gryffindor!"
Fred and George waved him over to a spot next to them at the table. Harry hesitantly complied - he wasn't sure he trusted them. Sure, the fanfiction community absolutely adored the twins, but Harry wasn't sure whether they were 'lovable rogues' or 'people that humiliated others as a source of humor'. But, hey, bullies never use the 'Oh, they just need a sense of humor' as a cover for their antics, right?
"Hiya, Harry," a timid voice called out.
Harry turned around to see Neville sitting beside him.
"It's nice to meet you, Harry," Neville said. "I'm Neville Longbottom - I'm dreadfully shy, but just say the right few phrases of encouragement and I'll drastically change my personality and become a bold avatar of badassery in short order."
"Er... that's nice."
"I'm serious," Neville said (timidly.) "I'm going to be your best friend - screw Ron - and I'll be your lieutenant and stalwart defender throughout this fic. We'll even take down Voldemort together."
Neville nodded. "Just, you know, make sure you say those few tidbits of encouragement - because right now, just as a reminder, I'm so dreadfully shy. Say, by the way, have you thought about adding a vigorous daily exercise routine to your schedule? Just let me know if you do - because me or Hermione might want to join you."
"Right, er, I'm going to go sit at the Hufflepuff table."
Two months later, Harry was sitting at the Halloween feast.
And it was so horribly... boring.
Boring. Because there was no troll.
"Of course there's no Troll," Harry replied in disgust. "Why would there be a troll again?"
There was always a Troll. At Halloween. It was how Harry bonded with his friends in every fic ever written. But not this one, because Harry royally screwed it up.
"Screwed it up?!" Harry sputtered. "I did the only smart thing!"
Harry, in his utter stupidity, went and did the dumbest possible mistake: he told Dumbledore everything his future-self knew.
"How is that dumb?!" Harry asked heatedly.
Dumbledore, of course, immediately put Quirrell in magical stasis, before beginning a week-long frenzy of activity that involved breaking into Malfoy Manor to steal Tom Riddle's diary, capturing Peter Pettigrew (yes, don't worry reader, Sirius was pardoned) and even began to scour the country for the remaining horcruxes.
"I fail to see the problem!" Harry replied. "Voldemort will never be reborn and, get this, no school children will be placed in mortal peril."
"Yeah, yeah. I'm under the wing of a powerful wizard trying his hardest to make the world a good and safe place to live - why wouldn't I tell him everything I could? And it meant that nobody died, nobody suffered, and everything turned out great! It'd be like Bilbo Baggins traveling back in time - why on earth wouldn't he say to Gandalf, 'Say, by the way, this ring I just found is actually the Ring of Power forged by Sauron. Yeah. We should probably figure out a way of destroying it.' Him doing anything else just reeks of idiocy."
"Is there a problem?"
"Really? The narration is being silent. That's a new one. You don't usually see that in books."
"Oh, come on. We're at the Halloween feast. Describe it, so the readers know what's going on."
"Stop being petulant. The story has to continue."
Why? It had no plot.
Harry smirked. "This is fanfiction. Nobody will notice."