A/N: Before we begin, I must give credit where it is due. This story is based on Turn Back Time by SStarLuna, a sadly abandoned fic that had great potential. This is not a scene for scene, chapter for chapter rewrite. Despite the changes, this is still very much inspired by the original and a lot of its idiosyncrasies will make more sense if you head over to my profile and follow the link to SStarLuna's original work.
Time Turned Back
Chapter 1: Hello, Goodbye Apathy
Harry Potter was not a normal boy. Most teenagers lived for summer, where Harry hated it. Most spent their days outdoors, Harry didn't. Most spent their time dreaming of girls, Harry refused to dream. When he did, he dreamed of a man, Sirius Black. He had loved Sirius like a brother and friend, and he was dead now, too, just like Harry's parents and Cedric Diggory before him.
His memory was sharp and accurate. It showed him the truth of Sirius's death. He remembered clearly the green light and shocked expression that slackened and turned to a peaceful nothingness before he fell behind the veil at the Department of Mysteries. That was what had happened, and Harry knew it. But in dreams, his guilt twisted the truth and by the first day of summer the shock turned to pain and the peaceful nothingness turned to hatred directed at Harry. In his dreams, Sirius called out in agony and anger, cursing Harry for being so stupid and causing his death.
So there he was, nearly sixteen years old and orphaned twice, lying on the cool, bare floor of the smallest bedroom of Number 4, Privet Drive with his eyes shut in a restful half-sleep. It was all he allowed himself. He never permitted himself to drift into the deep sleep where dreams would come.
He never dared close his eyes at night when the house was full. Only when Uncle Vernon was at work, Dudley was out tormenting the local children and Aunt Petunia was in the garden or out shopping did he allow himself to close his eyes. He was under-aged and not permitted to perform magic outside of school, so he couldn't silence his room. If he fell asleep properly, he would wake up screaming and someone would hear.
No, this was all he was allowed.
A plate was pushed through the flap in his door, but he ignored the food. The idea of eating turned his stomach. He kept his eyes closed and put all his energy into staying awake. The beautiful white owl hooted softly from atop her cage, alerting Harry to the approach of two owls, large and dark brown. He rose quickly and met them at the window before they could hoot too loudly and annoy his Aunt.
His fingers fumbled as he untied the package from their legs. It was a mixture of fatigue and nerves. He was excited to get into the package. Uncle Vernon had only let him release Hedwig the previous week and after two days of waiting for her to return with a letter from Ron, he sent her off with an order to Flourish and Blotts. The weeks prior to Hedwig's release, with nothing to do at night but think about his failures, made Harry realise that he needed to take control. He needed to control his brain from Voldemort, his emotions and his magic from himself and his destiny for himself.
"Here," he said and offered the birds his lunch – dry toast and water. "It's all I have, sorry." They nipped at it, hooted indignantly and flew off.
He tore into the thick paper and found the books he had been waiting for. Intermediate Duelling: How to Win Any Duel against Even the Trickiest of Opponents, Occlumency Unravelled: The Secrets of Clouding Your Mind and The Uncluttered Mind: Meditation Practices for Every Level. He sat on the floor and flipped through the books, wishing he could practice the magic required for Occlumency and duelling. Instead he turned his attention to the meditation book, reading it cover to cover before dinner was pushed through the flap in his door.
As the Dursleys settled down in front of the television for the night, Harry settled down to practice the techniques of the first chapter. It wasn't easy with the family downstairs bursting into snorting laughter whenever the laugh track on the situation comedy told them the joke was funny. He glared at the door and considered marching down there; his mere presence was enough to send the Dursleys screaming from their own house.
"No," he chided himself. "That's what gets you into trouble. Focus, Potter."
He closed his eyes and pushed away all his thoughts; whenever Sirius entered in his head, he put the man aside and went back to counting his breaths. Whenever Voldemort's red eyes appeared inside his eyelids, he did the same to the thoughts of the Dark wizard. It took time, weeks, but Harry managed to sit in calm meditation without falling asleep, his mind focused yet unthinking.
That was how Dumbledore found him.
The old wizard had promised Harry to take him from his Aunt's house in July, yet the boy hadn't packed his trunk. It worried Dumbledore that the boy didn't believe he would come. It worried him more that Harry was even skinnier than he had been at the end of last term. He waited patiently for Harry to open his eyes, which took some time, but finally he came around.
"Professor!" he scrambled to stand.
"Good evening, Harry," Dumbledore smiled. "Are you ready to go?"
Harry looked around at his scattered books and clothes, the plates of uneaten food by his door, Hedwig's empty cage and the dead mouse she had left on the windowsill as a present for him. "Nearly," he said, and hurriedly threw his belongings in the trunk while Dumbledore moved back down to the front door to wait for him. The boy rushed down the stairs, his trunk slamming down on every step.
"Come, we have to make a stop along the way," the Headmaster said apologetically.
"Right," Harry said, not really knowing what he meant. He was leaving his Aunt and Uncle's house and that was all that really mattered to him. He glanced at the sitting room, where the Dursleys stood as far from the strange wizard as was possible. He didn't bother saying goodbye.
Harry's stomach turned as they Apparated to the edge of the Burrow's wards. He wondered if Apparition-sickness was like motion sickness, that it only affected passengers. Maybe if he were in control of the Apparition, he wouldn't feel so queasy. He didn't have time to ask as hands grabbed hold of him and he felt himself being crushed in a loving, if very painful, hug.
"Harry!" Tonks greeted, her arms still cracking his ribs and her pink hair tickling his ear.
"Hullo," he said as best he could with no air. The young Auror pulled him into the safety of the magical wards before letting him go. He glanced back and saw Dumbledore had already gone.
A moderately sized bit of his brain resented this treatment. He had been used to lure an old man out of retirement and then been dropped at the Burrow without a 'thank you' or a 'goodbye'. The boy was still annoyed at Dumbledore keeping the prophecy from him, and using him in this way was not doing anything to endear the old man to him.
"Gods, you're skinny," Tonks commented. Her hands slipped under his oversized jumper and roamed his torso, feeling the protruding ribs and sunken chest. He probably should have protested or been slightly put off by her intrusive behaviour, but he knew it was simply her way. The first time he met her she had winked at him and marched up to his bedroom to help him pack his trunk. She was just the sort who had no concept of personal boundaries. "Are you eating?"
"Some," Harry lied. He hadn't eaten anything in days, nor did he wish to start. The thought of food, even Molly Weasley's delicious roast, made him feel ill.
"Molly will have a fit if you don't eat," she warned. "Best humour her."
Harry nodded as he walked through the door and he was engulfed in welcoming arms. Three more ribs were broken as Molly hugged him and fretted over his size and lack of colour. Two more cracked under Hermione's embrace, and another to Fred and George who fought over who would get to hug him the longest. It was a joke, but they weren't particularly gentle about it. Remus, thankfully, settled for a handshake.
"Have you been eating?" Harry questioned, grateful to have the attention on someone else if only for a moment.
"Probably about as much as you," Lupin smiled sadly. "Come on, we've got something for you." He pulled Harry away and up the stairs before Molly could crack the remainder of the poor boy's ribs. Tonks hurried behind, eager to see Harry's reaction.
He followed Remus up the stairs. The boy made to go up the next flight to Ron's attic bedroom where he always slept when he was a guest at the Burrows; Remus shook his head and pointed to Percy's old room. Harry's brow knit in confusion but he went where the man pointed. The room was still furnished with Percy's old bed and dresser.
"Am I helping move Percy's stuff?" he questioned, looking at the trunk and bed covered in bags and packages.
"No," Tonks bounced on her toes. "It's yours."
"What is?" Harry frowned.
"All of it!" she grinned and pushed him forward. He stood, staring at the bed and everything on it. Many of the items were wrapped like presents but most were parcels and bags like he had seen his Aunt Petunia come home with around the holidays. Someone had gone shopping for him?
"What is all this?" he asked.
"Presents," Tonks said, her happy tone tainted slightly by sarcasm, clearly she thought the bows and colourful paper on some of the packages gave it away.
"For me?" Harry couldn't keep the astonishment from his voice. Tonks and Remus frowned, knowing he had been deprived of more than just his parents but not realising that the idea of being loved and lavished with gifts would seem an impossibility to him.
"Of course!" Tonks said, even more brightly. "There's a ton of clothes in there for you."
"The Ministry," Remus said quietly and smiled at Harry's incredulous snort. To Harry, the Ministry was still a bunch of gits that wanted him imprisoned or committed. "They've admitted that you were right and now they're trying to rally the wizarding world around you… you've become their symbol of hope, beacon of light and all that rubbish."
The boy smiled a bit at Remus's disregard for the Ministry's opinion of 'Harry Potter'. He knew that his old teacher saw him for who he really was, not as some mythical figure. "What's that have to do with clothes?"
"They think their beacon of light and hope ought to look a bit better," Tonks grinned as she took his arm and dragged him closer to the bed. "Apparently, it's no good being The Boy Who Lived if you're the boy who lived in a cupboard."
Harry laughed. He tried to picture what the Ministry had in mind for him. Traditional wizard robes, most likely. Although, he was a symbol, so perhaps something more symbolic… a toga and flaming torch perhaps? He bit back a laugh as he wondered where one might purchase a crown of laurel leaves nowadays. Was there a Caesar's Crowns for All Occasions in Diagon Alley?
"They had set aside an account at Gringotts for you," Remus chuckled. "I don't think they intended for Tonks to get a hold of the money first."
Tonks grinned as Harry understood the meaning of Remus's words. "You bought my clothes?"
With a mischievous grin, the pink-haired witch practically swan dived into the packages. Harry stood back as bags began to fly out. He was uncomfortable with the idea of being given so much. Having new school clothes had been weird enough for him. He had lived in old, oversized and worn-out clothes his whole life, new clothes just felt wrong, too thick, too stiff, too tight. His thoughts were interrupted when a tee-shirt draped itself over his face. He reached up and pulled the shirt away. It was navy blue or at least it had been once; the shirt had been washed into a faded ghost of its former colour. The cotton was worn thin and soft.
"This isn't new, is it?"
"Vintage!" Tonks informed him with a grin. "Nearly everything is. I—" Her speech was impeded as Harry launched himself at her, cutting off her ability to breathe with a hug. She was surprised he had so much strength in him, he had grown so thin.
"There's more," Remus said and rapped his knuckles on the trunk. "Courtesy of Alastor Moody. A place for everything and everything in its place, he said... or something to that effect." Harry took in the trunk, smaller than his old one and looking slightly better around the corners. His name, Harry J. Potter, was engraved on the brass plaque just above three locks. Remus handed him two keys. "The third lock will take either key. Apparently it's to throw off anyone trying to break in."
Harry nodded and unlocked the trunk. He leaned into it, amazed at how spacious it was. "It's bigger than my cupboard in here," Harry said, his voice echoing off the sides of the cavernous storage space.
"That is just depressing," Tonks muttered and pulled Harry back out by the waist of his oversized jeans. "Focus on the clothes, Harry. I want to hear how awesome I am!"
A/N: I know I'm still working on uploading my complete HP stories and my new (first ever!) MCU story, but I couldn't leave TTB out of the mix. I love this story, though it did grow to be quite a monster and the ending is proving rather thorny. No worries. It'll get finished...eventually.