Hermione spent the majority of the rest of November with Professors Dumbledore, Snape, and McGonagall, firstly exploring the possibilities of the ritual the Headmaster had found, and then suspending their research and instead creating experimental and untested additional spells due to an unforeseen possible complication.
Harry, on the other hand, chose to avoid the research entirely (he had that book Luna had found him to work on, after all, not to mention his school work, Quidditch, and spending time with Pansy).
Near the end of the month, Professor Dumbledore called Harry to join the research team in his office and explained exactly what he wanted to do.
Harry stared at him. "So, let me see if I have this right," he said, gathering the remaining shreds of his patience with a deep breath.
The Headmaster nodded encouragingly.
"You want to perform an obscure, archaic ritual, currently not fully researched, that you think will help in defeating Voldemort."
"That is correct, Harry."
"In researching said obscure, archaic ritual, you hit a snag when you found that biology and blood are essential elements of the ritual, and immediately stopped researching it because you remembered that there may have been, at some distant point in time, a reason to doubt that James Potter is in fact my biological father."
"Indeed, dear boy."
"And because you can't go ahead with the ritual without knowing for sure who my father is, you all got creative, and now want to cast an untested theoretical time travel spell upon me, in order to send me back to a meeting that occurred in this office when I was around a year old."
Dumbledore nodded again, eyes twinkling.
"A meeting that has been erased, almost completely, from the memories of every single person who attended – or so you assume, as you don't remember exactly who was there, the reasons for calling, what was discussed, or even if the vague hunch you have that the topic of my parentage even came up is anything more than a weird dream you had."
"That does seem to sum everything up nicely, Harry."
"Uh huh. I am honestly not sure whether I think this is awesome or completely ridiculous."
"Are the two mutually exclusive?"
"Good point, Professor." Harry frowned. "But are you absolutely sure no one erased the memories of baby me? This may be completely pointless, and you may never find out either way because my consciousness could get stuck in my baby self."
"If it was going to, it already would have," Hermione said. She was sitting off to the side with McGonagall and Snape, going over the notes for the time travel spell. They were also surrounded by the research they had abandoned.
"Unless it did but the memory of it was obliviated out of me and I'm just doomed to repeat the first sixteen years of my life over and over and over and-"
"Harry!" Hermione snapped. "Don't be so dramatic. I know, I know, it's what you do best," she added as he opened his mouth to say as much. "I promise I will come and restore your memories personally if you don't come back. Does that help?"
Harry shrugged. "No offence, Hermione, but I'm honestly not sure if that's reassuring at all. This time travel stuff gives me a headache."
"Then trust me, it's about as safe as you can get for an untested experimental spell, and you should be just fine."
"Again, not exactly reassuring. Are we sure can't just find a different way of defeating Voldemort?"
Snape slammed the book in front of him shut. "For Merlin's sake, Potter, for the seven millionth time, YES WE ARE SURE!"
Harry wondered if Snape had been sitting there with the book open for the express purpose of slamming it when he inevitably lost his patience. It was a very Snape thing to do.
"Now, Severus, there's no need to shout," Dumbledore said mildly. "I am certain that Harry understands the importance of what we are trying to accomplish. It is completely understandable that he is wary." He paused and turned back to Harry. "But I promise you, my dear boy, we have done our utmost to ensure your safety."
Harry sighed. "Oh, all right then. If I die, all my socks go to Dobby, everything vaguely suspicious goes to Luna, and Theodore inherits my reign of chaos."
All but Dumbledore rolled their eyes at him.
Less than fifteen minutes later, Harry was still sitting in front of the Headmaster's desk, having consumed half a dish of sherbet lemons (not necessary for the spell, he was just peckish). The biggest change was that now all three professors and Hermione were pointing their wands at him and incanting.
He was just noting how pretty the pink and green criss-crossing magic was, and how much the light from the spell did not flatter Snape's complexion at all, and then everything went abruptly orange and then black.
As he gradually regained awareness, Harry found himself being carried down the halls of Hogwarts towards the Headmaster's office (he'd know the way in his sleep), listening to his parents bicker like Ron and Hermione.
"For the thousandth time, James, I have no more idea of why Albus called this meeting than you do," Lily huffed.
"I just thought maybe Minnie would have said something to you," James replied.
Harry realised than neither of his parents were actually carrying him. If he was in Wormtail's arms, he was going to scream the castle down until the situation changed.
"One day Professor McGonagall really is going to hang you guys from the Astronomy Tower by your toes for calling her that."
Nope, never mind. Crisis averted. That was Peter somewhere behind him. Which left, he assumed, either Sirius or Remus.
"Don't be ridiculous, Wormtail!" Oh, that was Sirius, also behind him. "Minnie loves us!"
"Minnie loves me," Remus said directly above Harry's head. "I was a model student. You delinquents are so getting hung by your toes."
"You know," Lily said, sounding pointedly thoughtful. "I have literally never heard any one of you call Minerva 'Minnie' to her face, or even within her hearing."
All four men were silent. Harry took the opportunity to test his current vocal prowess, and managed to mumble something that sounded vaguely like 'Minnie'.
Apparently it was close enough for Remus. "That's right Harry, Minnie. Good baby."
"He's not a puppy, Moony," James said, voice veritably dripping with amused fondness.
Harry was physically incapable of resisting the urge to say 'woof'. The resulting laughter among the adults lasted until they arrived at the gargoyle guarding Dumbledore's office.
Interestingly, the gargoyle was already standing to the side, entrance wide open. The others all exchanged glances above Harry's eye line before moving forward, which meant that Harry was the only one to see the tail end of someone's black (and somehow ominous) robe ascending before them.
Harry spent the trip up the staircase wondering how, exactly, a robe could be ominous, and whether it was a quality he could add to his own robes once he returned to the future. He should ask Professor Snape. Harry suspected that he would know exactly how to go about creating such an effect, and he made a mental note to bribe the answers from him at the first opportunity.
Of course, it turned out, there was another very good reason that a set of robes might take on an ominous air – absorbing malice from their evil, evil wearers.
Voldemort was sitting in Dumbledore's office.
Harry was thrown by this.
He was not the only one. While Harry voiced his protests with an indignant squeal, the Marauders and Lily stopped dead just inside the doorway, drawing their wands. James, Sirius, and Lily all stepped in front of Remus and Harry.
Dumbledore, naturally, was sitting at his desk with an infuriatingly serene smile (the one Harry recognised from the conversation explaining why he was here in the first place). There were more chairs in front of the desk than usual, in fact, more than should comfortably fit if you took physics into account (thanks, magic), and most of them were occupied by wary members of the Order of the Phoenix. There were also a couple of Death Eaters (that Harry supposed probably weren't proven to be any such thing at this point), and of course, one very irritated Dark Lord.
Harry wanted to ask what the ever-loving heck was even happening right now. Instead his inexperienced tongue babbled something one hundred percent incomprehensible.
Except, apparently, if you were Remus Lupin. "I agree, Harry, this does seem awfully strange. Headmaster, what is going on here?"
"Moo'y," Harry said agreeably, patting Remus awkwardly on the face in praise.
"Please, everyone have a seat. Now that you have arrived, we can begin."
"Have you finally lost what little sanity you had, Professor?" James demanded. "I'm not going to sit down and have TEA with VOLDEMORT!"
Voldemort sneered at James over the teacup he had just picked up. "Oh, don't worry your pretty little heads, the old man managed to extract an Unbreakable Vow from me not to harm anyone while on the school grounds."
Wow, what a shame Dumbledore hadn't managed to make that a permanent vow, rather than just a one time thing. "Ssssss."
"That's nice, Harry," Remus said, apparently having lost his baby translation skills.
Surprise, an update!
In the Next Chapter: We find out who Harry's real father is! For maximum effect/spoilers, tiny prequel 'Conversations' is recommended reading.
Thanks for reading and reviewing guys!