Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me. He and the other characters are property of J.K. Rowling and Warner Brothers, and I am not making any money off this story.
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It was nearly midnight the night after the start of the winter holidays, and Harry was lying on his bed in the dark Gryffindor dormitory taking a rare journey into the unfamiliar worlds of Self-pity and Envy. Neither Ron nor Hermione were going to stay at Hogwarts that year, leaving him to celebrate Christmas Day with those left at Hogwarts - who, coincidentally, were all from the same house: Snape, Bulstrode, Crabbe, and two young Slytherins whose names Harry didn't even know.
As much as he would have liked some company, he didn't relish the idea of spending Christmas in the Slytherin common room. Harry could only picture his potion professor's sneer as he was wished a "Happy Christmas." Nor did Harry want the Slytherins looking with disdain at his yearly Weasley sweater and comparing his few gifts with theirs.
Harry was indulging in Self-Pity, not so much just because he wasn't having a very good Christmas this year, but because he had never had a proper Christmas, ever, as far back as he could remember. He had had some happy Christmases with his friends at Hogwarts the over the past few years, but nothing like he pictured Christmas ought to be in his mind, with a happy family around a tree and small children jumping on parents' beds Way Too Early in the Morning.
That was where Envy was coming into play. Picturing the Weasley family opening all their knitted sweaters and socks on this Christmas morning, and every past Christmas morning for years and years, was making his stomach hurt. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley had invited him for Christmas, even if someone had to sleep on the floor to make room, but Dumbledore had said that Voldemort was simply too powerful now for Harry to be able to visit outside a few strongly protected areas. The Dursleys home was one of those protected areas, but Harry would not have liked to go there, even if the Dursleys had wanted him.
Wanted. Harry hugged his pillow a little more tightly. He'd never felt wanted, really, especially not as a small child. The very worst Christmas ever had been when he had been...four? No, he must have been five, because that was the year Dudley got the scarf he'd worn to school... Harry had done something (he wasn't quite sure what, but it might have had something to do with magic) and been put in his cupboard Christmas Eve. He'd been made to stay there all day Christmas day, while he listened to Dudley opening his presents and heard the Dursleys having their holiday dinner.
Thinking about the five-year-old crying on his cot in the cupboard under the stairs made Harry feel particularly angry with the Dursleys. What kind of people left a little child in a dark closet? And on Christmas, too! He wished, somehow, he could go back in time and comfort the small child he had once been. That for once, the Little Boy Who Lived could be taken away from his awful relatives and be given the Christmas that he'd always…
Harry sat straight up in bed, a surge of hope overwhelming him.
It was true that in the muggle world, no one could go back in time or fix past mistakes, but in the wizard world, it was different. He remembered the year Hermione had tried to take so many extra classes by using a Time Turner, and how she sometimes seemed to be in two places at once. Could Harry use a Time Turner, as well? Could he go back in time and just once in his life, give himself a happy memory? The more he thought about it the more it seemed possible. He only needed to convince Dumbledore.
Easier thought than done, Harry realized the next morning as he tried to tell Dumbledore no harm would come from his plan.
"Please, Dumbledore? Its just one evening, and part of the next day. I got my Apperating license a month ago; I could go straight there and straight back, with no delays. Nobody would even notice he was missing…um, I mean, that I was missing."
Dumbledore looked at Harry with pity in his eyes. "The past is over and done with, Harry. Using a Time Turner to take a few extra classes is one thing, but using it to purposely change the past is quite another…and extremely dangerous. It also requires a much more powerful magical device to go back ten or twelve years than to go back an hour or two." His voice became soft as he watched Harry blink back tears. "Come now, Harry, what if your relatives found you missing? And, more importantly, how would it affect you to have different memories of your childhood? It might change you, you know."
"It wouldn't, I don't think. Or not in a bad way, anyhow. I don't remember all that much of what went on when I was small, but…I don't think one Christmas away from the Dursleys could be such a bad thing. And…I want to have something good to remember. One happy childhood memory. Please? Just this once? I won't ask to do it again."
Albus Dumbledore gazed at the boy in front of him and remembered, as he watched a single, despairing tear form at the corner of Harry's eye, that if the boy had no happy memories of his childhood it was because a certain wizard had seen fit to place him with a family of Muggles who clearly did not love him. It was the guilt, rather than the boy's arguments, that finally made Dumbledore answer with a sigh.
"All right. Just this once."