TITLE: Double Back
DISCLAIMER: All things Harry Potter belong J K Rowling... basically, if you recognise it, it isn't mine... Please don't sic the Aurors on me, I'm just here for the fun.
AN: I'm basically tossing away the epilogue here, it always felt forced and unrealistic to the world created in the last seven books, to have everything just automatically fall into a nice perfect little world for everyone after everything they'd been through... so yes, this is an EWE / AU style fic, most pairings will be completely ignored and outright destroyed throughout.
I've been tempted to write a "Don't fear the Reaper" style do-over fic for a while now, but always got caught up in the muddle of how an older Harry would interact with his friends at their younger ages, leaving him more a loner than he originally was... so after bouncing around a few ideas with friends, I decided to give the idea of an older Harry thrown back in time, but not into his younger body, a go and see where it leads...
The power to be strong, and the wisdom to be wise
All these things will come to you in time.
On this journey that you're making, there'll be answers that you'll seek
And it's you who'll climb the mountain, It's you who'll reach the peak.
- "Son of Man" by Phil Collins
Sunday 26th May, 2019
With a throaty groan and a wince, Harry woke up from uncomfortable slumber and immediately reached for his wand as his eyes jumped open and took in his surroundings.
He'd never been a morning person, not in his childhood at The Dursley's when he'd been forced to wake up every morning to make breakfast for the three of them, not through Hogwarts, and not afterwards through his time in the Auror Corps or the rest of his life.
He just wasn't cut out for mornings, but waking up wet and aching on an asphalt floor was certainly not making it any better, especially considering he had absolutely no idea whatsoever where he was, or how he'd even got here.
It was a muggle street, that much was obvious from the pale golden street lamps that were lighting up the street, and it was raining, rather heavily as well, leaving him pretty much drenched to the bone.
Given how his thick jeans squelched as he stood up, he felt comfortable in assuming he'd been unconscious in the rain for quite a while now, and from the way his boots felt heavy with water, he'd be willing to bet it had been at least a few hours.
He was wet, cold, uncomfortable and utterly confused with what was going on. He had his wand in hand though, which clearly meant that however he'd got here, it wasn't done by anyone with malicious intent. If he'd been unconscious as long as he was assuming, then anyone could have killed him, obliviated him, put him under the imperius, or done whatever they'd wanted to him, but they hadn't.
A quick check of his jeans pockets found his wallet and keys, the invisibility cloak in his coat inside pocket and Auror tools and shrunken broom in his other inside pocket. The resurrection stone was still on it's silver clasp around his neck like a normal necklace, and he could mentally feel the connection to the cloak and Elder Wand in his hand. So whoever had knocked him out, hadn't wanted the Deathly Hallows either.
Which left him somewhat bemused, only adding to his confusion. He was unharmed, with all his possessions, but had been unconscious for however long and been removed from... His brain stuttered as he tried to focus on the last thing he actually remembered.
Automatically he stepped forwards, falling into his normal habit of pacing while thinking as he ruffled his messy hair, feeling the rain drip away from it as he ran his fingers over his head.
What did he remember? He'd been working, he definitely remembered going into The Ministry this morning and then... he was heading out on an assignment with his usual strike team of hit wizards, they'd had some information about... something...
"Damnit," He muttered to himself, spinning around in frustration and pacing back the way he'd came.
His team, that was right, they'd been performing a raid on one of the old manors, but where? And where were the rest of his team? Were they all unconscious like he'd been, or had something even worse happened to them? That seemed somewhat unlikely, he was generally accepted as being the 'lightning rod' of the Auror department, as he had been his entire life. If something bad was going to happen, then it was certain that it was going to happen to him rather than anyone else.
Pacing around he frowned as he racked his brain and tried to remember exactly what had happened and how on earth he'd ended up on the street somewhere without any of his team with him, he was still grumbling to himself when he felt a crunch under foot and the street was lit up for a brief second with a golden flash that caused him to flinch backwards slightly.
Gingerly he lifted up his foot, staring down with a raised eyebrow at the mess of golden metal, glass, and now wet and clumpy sand that was very quickly being washed away by the heavy rainfall around him.
"Oh this isn't good." He muttered to himself, recognising the somewhat crushed and malformed metal underfoot as a time turner.
"Time Turner!" He shouted aloud, putting his foot down again and making sure not to stand on the already crushed time turner. That was it, they'd been raiding Nott Manor and... it was fuzzy, but he definitely remembered leading his team through Nott Manor and finding... who... Nott definitely, both the Malfoy's, senior and junior were there, and a few others that were just fuzzy jumbles in his mind.
There'd been spellfire, the six of his team plus him against the remnant's of the Death Eaters in the Nott Manor, and he'd seen a time turner on the table along with some rune stones and enough arithmancy books that Hermione would have drooled at the sight.
Then... everything went fuzzy. Everyone had been shooting off spells, he'd ducked behind the table for cover as he blasted off spells over it, attempting to nail down Nott or either of the Malfoy's while the rest of his team found their own cover, and then... nothing.
He couldn't remember a damn thing after the battle had started.
Reaching down he gingerly picked up the crushed time turner, wincing as he could only imagine how Hermione would be yelling at him for destroying something like this, even if it had been by accident.
The Sands of Time that had been in the hourglass had been completely washed away now, the glass that made up the central column in the time turner was little more than shards that he could barely see on the ground.
Why would Nott or the Malfoy's have a time turner? That didn't make sense to him at all. They were heavily restricted by the Department of Mysteries, and even if the Malfoy's had managed to bribe their way into getting their hands on one, something he was certain was relatively easy for the Malfoy's, what on earth would they actually use one for?
Putting the broken time turner in his pocket for now he looked around the street one last time. He had far too many questions and nowhere near enough answers. He still had absolutely no idea where he was or what had happened to him, or who'd dumped him here in the middle of nowhere.
It wasn't an apparition accident, as he hadn't been splinched. None of his team were using portkeys, so that was out, and as far as he could see, there wasn't a house, let alone a fireplace anywhere near the country road he was on, which a floo accident out as well.
Lots and lots of questions, and no answers to be found.
Focusing on his soggy clothes for now he shook his head in bemusement at the situation, wiping the rain off of his face before he focused on heading home to change before twisting on the spot and disapparating away with an almost silent pop.
Appearing in his living room at Potter Manor, Harry had half shrugged off his dragon-skin trench-coat when he looked around and froze mid step, his coat hanging off of his arms around the elbows as he looked around suspiciously at the room he'd apparated into.
It was... off. Something was definitely off.
The room was thick with dust, like nobody had lived here for years now, and the furniture had been moved around from where he knew he had everything laid out. His usual coffee table by the brown leather couch was missing, and the leather couch was actually in the wrong place entirely, instead of being by the window where he normally had it, it was in front of the fireplace where...
He trailed off as that thought filtered into his brain and froze him to the spot.
The couch was exactly where it had been the first time he'd set foot in Potter Manor nearly two decades ago. In fact, everything was. The Manor was dusty and unkempt, having been abandoned for over a decade since his grandparents had died, and he'd been the first person to actually step foot in the place after finding out about it from the documents in his family vault.
"Oh no no no," He muttered to himself as he shrugged his trench-coat back on and looked around the living room to be certain, completely ignoring the way the rain was dripping off of his coat and mixing with the dust on the thick carpet underfoot.
It was, everything in the manor was exactly as it had been the first time he'd arrived here.
Darting out of the living room he ran to the kitchen, taking a look only confirmed his fears. It was exactly as he remembered it being, none of the changes he'd made over the last twenty years or so were there, leaving it looking abandoned and unloved, a far cry from the warm and comfortable room where he spent most of his time.
"Time turner," Harry whispered to himself with a grimace, leaning against the kitchen door frame as he fished out the mangled time turner from his pocket and stared down at it in horror.
It was obvious now that he'd been thrown back to... somewhere? Somewhen? When felt better to use for some strange reason. Somewhen before he'd come to the manor for the first time, but when?
Time turners couldn't do that. Not decades worth of travel, no way in hell. They were all limited, The Department of Mysteries made sure of it. Just like nobody using a time turner could actually affect the time they were in, it was one of the laws of magic.
But he was here, which made absolutely no sense. He knew his grandparents, Fleamont and Euphemia had died shortly after his parents had been married, he knew that for certain because he'd found photos of his parents wedding in his grandfather's study upstairs. Photos that he'd kept and moved to the living room when he'd moved into the manor itself.
Which meant he was here somewhere after his grandparents had died and before he'd found out about the place, and judging from the amount of dust around, it was quite a few years after.
So logically it was somewhere between seventy nine and ninety nine, probably on the later side judging by the dust buildup and the overgrown trees and shrubs he could see out of the kitchen window.
"Damnit," He muttered to himself, looking down at the wet footprints he'd left through the manor. He could clean those up easily though and disguise them with dust to hide his presence here, but that left another conundrum, how the hell was he supposed to get back to his own time?
Pocketing the mangled time turner for now, he frowned as he tried to get his barrings and figure out exactly what he had to do. He could use the manor as a secluded base for now, that was easy enough. The manor itself was unplottable and hidden behind even more charms than Grimmauld Place was. The fact everyone believed it had been destroyed in the first war just added to it's security, as nobody actually knew about it or believed it was still around, making it the perfect place for him to hide out until he figured this situation out.
First things first he had to figure out when he actually was. Finding out the date was at the top spot on his list, then he could figure out how he was going to repair the time turner in his pocket, if it was even possible. He wasn't stupid, far from it, but he knew he was nowhere hear Hermione levels of smart when it came to things like this, and fixing a time turner's enchantments was definitely outside of his skill set.
"Date first, then figure out exactly how much of a mess you've got yourself into this time." He muttered to himself before twisting around and apparating away.
Diagon Alley was, to no great surprise, exactly as he remembered it being. Not in his recent memories though, the shops that had sprung up after Voldemort's rise weren't there, neither was the Weasley twins joke shop.
No, Diagon Alley as it was reminded him of a more innocent time. The witches and wizards bustling through it were happily talking amongst themselves, he got a few looks but nothing like he was used to receiving, and nobody approached him or whispered around him like they always did when he ventured into the alley.
"OK, definitely somewhere before ninety seven." He muttered to himself, looking down the alley towards the shop that was to become Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, but was currently looking like some sort of cafe business.
Looking around the alley in amusement he trudged his way down, smiling fondly at the memories the shops brought back to him of more innocent times when he'd first started out at Hogwarts.
"Look, it's the new Nimbus!"
Harry's eyes immediately swung around at the voice, catching sight of the children gathered outside Quality Quidditch Supplies and staring through the windows, their hands and faces pressed up against the glass and practically drooling over the broom on display inside.
Chuckling to himself he made his way over, curiosity on his mind as he wondered what they were all staring at. He didn't need to get that close though, as he was a few steps behind the children in front of the window when he recognised and cherry brown broomstick on display.
How could he not? He knew the curves of that broomstick like he knew his own hand. The gold bracers and kickstand were just as he remembered it, and his eyes traced over the familiar brand logo that was etched in gold at the top of the handle.
"The Nimbus Two Thousand." He breathed out reverently, not hearing how the children in front of him were rattling off what they'd heard about the broom's top speed or cornering abilities.
That gave him a rather narrow window to when he actually was, as he knew the Nimbus Two Thousand had been released in ninety one, and then had been succeeded by the Two Thousand and One in May of ninety two.
The fact there were children around staring at the broom told him they weren't in school, which put it in the summer holidays sometime.
So it was the summer holidays of nineteen ninety one.
Swallowing the curses on his lips he turned away from the broom and stalked away from the shop, ruffling his hair in frustration as he tried to figure out what to do now.
Nineteen Ninety One, or more specifically, the summer of Ninety One, the year he actually found out about magic and started Hogwarts for the first time. The year Voldemort possessed Quirrell and attempted to steal the Philosophers Stone from Dumbledore, and the year he faced Voldemort for the first time and defeated him.
"Bugger," He whispered to himself as he paced around the alley, walking blindly as he tried to get his thoughts in order.
That would be why nobody was looking at him or whispering, as far as everyone was concerned, Harry Potter, The-Boy-Who-Lived, was only eleven and hidden away by Dumbledore somewhere.
He knew the truth of course, but nobody else did. As far as everyone else was concerned, he was just a random wizard in Diagon Alley, nobody special, and certainly nobody to pay attention to.
Shaking his head at the thought for now he turned around and started heading towards the Leaky Cauldron. They'd have a copy of the Daily Prophet there, they always had a stack delivered every morning that rested on the bar for anyone to take.
Focusing on that thought he ignored the rest of the wizards and witches in the alley, finding out the exact date was the only thing in his mind right now, so he could hopefully get out of the alley and start focusing on figuring out how to get back to his own time.
It didn't take him long to make his way up and flick his wand over the alley way bricks, revealing the passage through to the rear entrance of the Leaky Cauldron, the dingy pub was exactly how he remembered it being and it was actually a comfort to step through into the familiar atmosphere of the pub.
He'd been drinking at The Leaky more than a few times over the years. A few years after the war it had been taken over by Hannah Abbot, who had married Neville a few years later, making it a comfortable place for them all to gather regularly and chat amongst themselves.
It was also one of the places the Auror squads visited regularly after hours, drinking and chatting, comparing stories and laughing between their groups about things that had happened during their shifts.
"Get you anything?" The barman asked, eyeing Harry as he approached the bar.
"Double fire whiskey," Harry nodded, automatically reaching into his pocket and pulling out a few sickles.
The barman nodded, moving away to fulfil the order and leaving Harry to grab one of the copies of the Daily Prophet from the bar.
"Twentieth of July?" Harry muttered to himself, eyeing the date with trepidation.
"You alright?" The barman asked as he came back, putting the tumbler of fire-whiskey on the bar and scooping up the sickles.
Harry snorted at that, shaking his head. "Few casts away from alright," He admitted as he grabbed the tumbler, knocking back the double shot of fire-whiskey with practised ease. "Mind if I keep this?"
"Go ahead," The barman shrugged. "Another?"
"Keep them coming," Harry nodded, sitting down grumpily on the stool at the bar.
The end of July, only a week and a few days before his birthday. A week and a few days before his eleventh birthday. Was there even a phrase or curse that summed up this situation? Besides being completely and utterly fucked?
He was back in Ninety One, his younger self was currently at Privet Drive, probably locked in the cupboard under the stairs for something Dudley did or said, or just because Vernon felt like it, and he was here by some sort of magical accident with a broken time turner and absolutely no clue how to get back to his own time.
"Thanks," He muttered, accepting the second double shot of fire-whiskey from the bartender and knocking it back before dumping out a few more sickles onto the bar.
"Rough day?" The bartender asked, putting the bottle of fire-whiskey on the bar in front of Harry.
"You've got no idea," Harry admitted with a grimace, staring at the bottle of fire-whiskey and considering the temptation.
"Figured," The bartender nodded. "Auror right? Don't see many others with a dragon-skin coat around." He explained when he saw Harry's questioning look. "Not seen you in 'ere before, new to the squad?"
"Yeah," Harry grumbled automatically, thinking fast about what he could actually say and what he couldn't. He definitely didn't want to draw any attention to himself, and getting drunk and The Leakey, despite how tempting the thought was given the situation, would definitely draw the wrong sort of attention.
"Thanks," Harry nodded, holding up his hand and shaking his head in a negative towards the bottle.
"Suit yourself," The bartender shrugged, retrieving the bottle and replacing it on the back of the bar.
Standing up from the stool Harry quickly folded up the copy of the Daily Prophet and gripped it tightly before twisting and apparating away with a crack, not having hear the questioning "James?" That rang through the bar as he vanished in a swirl of magic.
"Hmm?" The bartender asked, looking down towards the door of the pub to where the voice had come from. "'Melia? One of yours then?" He asked, wiping up the bar automatically as Amelia Bones strode through the pub and came to stand face to face with him.
"Who was that?" Amelia demanded, glaring at Tom and twitching her hands towards her wand.
"Dunno," Tom shrugged as he finished wiping down the bar. "Sounded like he'd had a rough day though, necked two doubles of fire-whiskey like they were water." He explained as he hung the washcloth over his shoulder. "Reckoned he was one of yours? Looked like an Auror anyway."
"Hmm," Amelia grunted with a non-committal frown as she racked her memory while looked at the spot where the man had vanished from.
She recognised that messy hair, and she certainly recognised that Chinese Fireball coat that he'd been wearing. After all, she'd been there with Lily when she'd commissioned the damn thing and had it made for James' present, celebrating him being accepted into the Auror corps.
But that wasn't possible. James Potter was dead. Voldemort killed him nearly a decade ago, it was history. But that was no ghost she'd seen in the bar, he'd been as real as Tom was.
"What else did he say?" Amelia demanded, looking back to Tom with a frown.
"Nothin' much," Tom shrugged, looking away from the head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. "Just came in, looked a bit pale, said he'd had a bad day. Had a few drinks then apparated off." He explained. "He skiving off work or something then?" He asked with a smirk.
"Something," Amelia commented, trying to figure out exactly what she'd seen. "Definitely something." She muttered to herself as she watched Tom wander off down the bar to see to another customer, leaving her alone to try and figure out what the hell was going on here.
Appearing in the living room of Potter Manor, Harry grimaced as he looked down at the date on the paper again, a mixture of disbelief and horror making him hope that the ink would suddenly change and it would be two thousand nineteen again, but the date stayed exactly the same, leaving him with the rather uncomfortable knowledge that it truly was nineteen ninety one all over again.
He had nowhere near enough curse words in his vocabulary to sum up exactly what he was feeling right now. Somehow, that damned time turner in Nott's study, had thrown him back close to thirty bloody years, leaving him in a complete mess that he had no idea how to get out of.
Time turners didn't go forwards, they only went back, and only back a few hours at the the best of times. They certainly didn't go back thirty years, and even if he could somehow repair the broken time turner in his pocket, that didn't help him get home at all.
"Great, just bloody great," Harry groaned to himself as he dragged his hand down his face in frustration.
For now, Potter Manor was the safest place for him to hold up. It was secret and completely off the grid, which meant he could happily stay here at least until ninety nine when the younger Harry would find out about the place.
Flicking his wand around the living room he comfortably banished all the dust and flicked out a few cleaning charms before opening the window to let some fresh air into the room.
This wasn't good, not good in the slightest.
Tugging off his jacket he tossed it on the side of the couch for the moment before dropping down unceremoniously on the leather and letting a brief smile cross his face at the familiar sound and smell of his favourite leather couch.
Unfolding the copy of the Daily Prophet he glanced over the headlines, happily ignoring the usual fluff that the paper was full of. The story seemed to be covering something about the Wizardry Budget, and was so dry that even the Prophet's usual sensationalism couldn't hold his attention to read any further.
Ninety sodding One, what in Merlin's name was he going to do?
He sat there for a moment before flicking his wand towards the fireplace, silently igniting the fire as he tried to rack his brain and think about everything he could remember from the summer before he'd started Hogwarts.
Tugging off his still waterlogged boots he tossed them down in front of the fire to dry off before vanishing the water that pooled around them from where they'd fallen.
What did he remember? He remembered getting his Hogwarts letter, hundreds of the things really because Vernon kept stealing them, burning them, tearing them up or tossing them in the trash.
He remembered visiting the zoo with Dudley and Piers, that was on Dudley's eleventh birthday, so it would have been on the twenty third, a few days before the letters started flooding through.
What he had to do, almost certainly, was stay away from events and keep to himself so he wouldn't interfere with things. He had absolutely no doubt that The Unspeakables would come for him if they found out about his situation, it seemed like entirely the sort of thing they'd be interested in, and he had no intention of being locked away in some room under The Ministry answering their questions for the next thirty years.
No, he had to stay put for now. Stay out of trouble, and stay away from everything that was going on out in the world. That was the best course of action, and as an Auror, he was sworn to upload the law, even the stupid ones.
Not that there was any real law about time travel, especially since he was damned sure nobody had ever travelled back this far before. Which left him in a rather dubious and grey position as far as he was concerned.
Staying out of the way was definitely the best idea, he could work on the problem himself and figure out how to get back to his own time, then he'd set the manor back to it's old dusty state so his younger self wouldn't notice anything was wrong when he found out about it for the first time.
"This is going to give me a headache," He muttered to himself, ruffling his hair as he tried to keep his tenses straight in his head.
Leaning back on the couch he simply sat there and enjoyed the fire for the moment, revelling in it's warm as it dried through his shirt and jeans. It was strange, thinking about these early years of his life, thinking about what everyone else must have been doing right now.
For all he knew, Hermione was still at her muggle primary school and didn't know a thing about the magical world yet. He'd never actually asked her when she'd found out about magic or received her letter from Hogwarts.
Everyone he knew wasn't quite themselves yet, everything that had happened in his life, Voldemort's return and rise to power, his defeat and the rebuilding that followed, it had all shaped him and everyone else into the people they were.
He snorted in amusement as he realised that Hermione would still be the bookish, rule abiding know-it-all she'd started out as. She'd changed so much over the years, through her six years at Hogwarts and their friendship, to being on the run together, then her short fling with Ron before Ron had turned into an utter wanker because of the fame that being part of the group had brought to him.
He grimaced as he thought about Ron. He hadn't seen any of The Weasleys aside from George for years now, and George he only really saw around Diagon Alley.
If he had to be honest with himself, he knew that Ron had always been a complete wanker really. He was exactly the same through Hogwarts, jealous and bitter towards anyone who had things better than he did. He wasn't faithful to anyone but himself, and had proven that time after time when he'd voiced his jealousy and turned away from him and Hermione in his little temper tantrums.
Neville, Hermione, Hannah, Susan and Luna were the friends he saw the most of now and were the people he was closest too.
In the years after the war, Hermione had worked at The Ministry for quite a few years before getting disenchanted with it and leaving to find work in the muggle world, and to be honest, he couldn't blame her one bit.
As much as he liked to think everything they'd been through had been for the better, the sad truth was that nothing much had changed in the decades after Voldemort's defeat.
The Ministry and Wizengamot were still full of bribery and corruption, bigotry was still as much of a problem as ever, and The Ministry still only promoted pure blood wizards and witches, leaving muggleborns like Hermione floundering at the bottom as pure blood idiots were promoted over them for no reason whatsoever.
Susan and Neville had joined up with The Aurors like he had, though Neville left after a couple of years to focus on his Herbology mastery and return to Hogwarts as a professor, leaving him and Susan in the Auror Corps to work together.
Ron hadn't even lasted a month in the Aurors, he'd assumed it would just be another adventure and hadn't actually thought about all the hard work that went into being an Auror. Things like knowing the laws and regulations were completely beyond him, and he refused to even crack open any of the books on the subject, stating that he was one of the three that defeated Voldemort, and that alone should secure him a place in the Aurors as far as he was concerned.
He'd been drummed out of the corps after failing the first exam with a record braking negative score and had gone to work at The Weasley joke shop after that.
That was the world he remembered, the friends he knew and the people that had stood by him, but that world, those people, none of it existed here and wouldn't for at least seven or eight years, more in some cases.
"Bugger," He muttered to himself as he sunk down in the couch and tried to figure out what to do next.