Iterum atque Iterum: Again and Again
Book One: In the Eye of the Beholder
Prologue – Another Chance
The bustle in the infirmary was getting to be rather annoying, Harry Potter mused as he lay swaddled in bed. He'd been in the infirmary for an entire month, recovering from his battle with Voldemort. Today, though, he was finally strong enough to be dismissed from Madame Pomfrey's care.
Not only that, but today was also his last day of school – ever. Hogwarts had been his home for seven years now, but soon Harry would be moving on. He'd been accepted as an Auror-in-training immediately upon application, thanks in some small part to his fame and the notoriety of his actions over the years. Hell, the Aurors had practically offered him the job!
Ron would be training alongside him, to Mr. Weasley's pride. Mrs. Weasley would have been even prouder. But like so many others, she was a casualty of the war against Voldemort.
His good mood vanishing, Harry slumped back down into his cocoon of blankets. Too many had died. Sirius, Remus, Molly, Percy, Fred, George, Hagrid, Seamus, Dean… countless others as well. Too many people were missing now from Harry's year, those who should have graduated along with the Boy Who Lived but were instead gone forever.
Everything had changed when Sirius died. Remus had lost all will to live when his best friend was killed, and so threw himself into the war with a murderous passion. He lasted three months, and it took eight Death Eaters to finally bring him down. Charlie died a bare day after, killed by Voldemort himself. Percy…well, his death was better left unmentioned.
Fred and George had become perhaps two of the most effective warriors against Voldemort, not only for their bravery and strength, but for their ingenuity with disguises and their numerous inventions and traps that always managed to bring down a few Death Eaters. Voldemort killed them personally, as he'd done their older brother.
Ginny was killed because she was dating Harry. After that, Harry remained entirely single.
Molly went a bit insane after her three sons and only daughter were killed. Seeing only vengeance, she blasted through a good many Death Eaters before she was taken out. Her temper, always famous, was now legendary.
People started dropping like flies after the Weasley's were thus decimated. The death had continued until Harry finally managed to come to Voldemort, face-to-face, once more.
Voldemort died. Painfully.
And Harry, set upon by countless followers of Riddle's, barely escaped with his life.
"Ready for your last day?"
Harry blinked, startled at the intrusion upon his thoughts. Ah…it was Dumbledore. The older man had entered the infirmary unnoticed, and now stood by Harry's bed with a twinkle, missing for the last two years, sparkling in his eyes.
"Yeah…. I was just thinking about…the past." Harry had almost said 'the dead', but he knew any mention of the Second War would kill the natural joy for life now bubbling up in the Headmaster.
Nevertheless, Dumbledore seemed to know exactly what Harry had been pondering. "It is not always best to hold so tightly onto what has gone, Harry," Dumbledore said quietly, taking a seat on the edge of Harry's bed. "Learn to live for the present. The past…it will do nothing but hurt you if you don't let it go."
Dumbledore had said as much many times in the past month. As always, Harry remained silent.
Sighing, Dumbledore changed the subject. "Ready to give your speech?"
Harry's lips twisted slightly. Amazing, how he could face down Voldemort time and again, yet want to run screaming at the very thought of public speaking. "I've had time to write it during my stay," he replied lightly. Truth was, he was going to wing it. Anything else would sound too…well, inept. Not expressive enough.
Not true enough.
Truth be told, Harry shouldn't be the student giving a speech. It ought to be Ron or Hermione, as the Head Students. But Harry had been their leader, had united the entire school against Voldemort when Dumbledore had been captured.
So Harry was the one to speak.
The parents and students…too few, far too few…assembled in the Great Hall all applauded as Harry was called to the Head Table give his speech. The seventeen-year-old limped slightly as he walked, still not entirely healed from the last battle. His ungainly gait, however, was a tribute to his heroics in the fight against Voldemort, and only gained him more applause.
Cheers he didn't deserve. He'd done what he had to do, no more and no less. Not enough by a long shot.
Never mind that he'd killed Voldemort, finally ending the monster's life by draining all of the Dark Lord's essence into himself – Including all of Voldemort's powers. Never mind that he'd saved countless lives.
Too many others had died.
Grim-faced and solemn, Harry stood before the Hall, looking sadly down on the sea of watching children and adults. All of them were veterans of a war. All of them were survivors.
"We are here today to celebrate the graduation of Hogwarts' current seventh years. There are those who should be here but aren't. Everyone here has lost someone – a friend, a child, a parent…. We look around and see the empty places where they should be.
"There has been death and pain in this past year. There has been sorrow and hatred and grief. But while these mark the day around us, we are here to celebrate life, the transition of students to adults.
"Every one of these students has proven their bravery- whether it be by turning their back on those who raised them to fight for the Light –" he glanced over at Draco, who nodded slightly- "or those who charged against their enemies in a desperate stand against evil. Every one of us has seen death.
"Some may say not to dwell on the past, on what has been. Frankly, I would be a hypocrite if I advised the same. Remember what has happened. Remember those who died so that we might graduate this day.
"Remember the dead, and live on in their name."
To Harry's shock, he saw tears in several eyes, yet small smiles on so many faces. Many were nodding in agreement with his words. Personally, Harry wasn't quite sure what he'd just said, and was currently dwelling on the fact that he'd subconsciously rhymed 'day' with 'name'.
As Dumbledore stood up to give his own speech – one guaranteed to be longer than his normal 'Nitwit, Blubber, Oddment, Tweak' speeches, Harry slipped out of the Great Hall, out of the castle altogether.
The evening sky was rapidly darkening, the moon full on the horizon. Remus would be curled up in his basket – if he had lived. Sirius would be transformed into a dog, comforting his friend with his presence. Fred and George would be working on some new device or spell in their joke store, Charlie would be off in Romania, with his dragons once more. Percy would be blathering on about his new job. Mrs. Weasley would be fussing over her family.
Ginny would be there, smiling at him, giving him that look she reserved solely for her love.
Fighting back tears, Harry turned his gaze heavenwards, staring up at the night sky. So many stars out tonight….
Harry remembered Ginny telling him about some of Charlie's stories not long after the twins had died. "Charlie says that every star is the soul of someone passed on, set forever in the skies."
So many stars…were there so many because up there, numerous new ones shone? The brightest would be Ginny's. Nothing had ever broken her- each new hardship only made her stronger.
God, how he had loved her.
How he loved her still.
Bitterly, he whispered into the night air, "I wish I may, I wish I might…."
What did he wish for, anyway? That Ginny could come back? That Sirius could come back? That his parents had never died?
"I wish…I just wish I could do something. Save those I couldn't. I wish….
"I wish I could have a second chance."
Lightning flared, streaking across a clear night sky.
And it struck Harry.
Pain running through him, Harry slowly opened his eyes. Yes – It was still night. But the stars were different – not as bright, and positioned oddly.
Pulling himself achingly off of the ground, Harry stared around him. He was standing in the middle of the charred, blackened ruins of some kind of small structure, the velvety night oppressive above him. An odd chill ran down Harry's spine, prompting him to shiver slightly. But the chill also seemed to dispel the last of the pain swamping him; pain from his confrontation with the Death Eaters and Voldemort, and pain from being zapped by lightning on a storm-less night.
Where was he?
Suddenly, a high-pitched wailing reached Harry's ears. It sounded almost like a young banshee, but was somehow more disturbing. Wand out and at the ready, Harry cautiously approached the area the sound emerged from.
There, in a cradle of fallen timber, lay a small baby swaddled in dirty linen and covered in ash. It was male, with wide green eyes and black hair that stood in out stark contrast to his overly pale skin.
On his forehead was a jagged cut, one that would one day become a lightning-shaped scar.
"Holy shit," Harry muttered, his own eyes widening to mirror the infant's. "This can't be. This can't be. This cannot THE HELL be!"
The baby stared, momentarily forgetting to scream its lungs out. Apparently, he wasn't used to adults being just as loud as he was.
Despite his rather vocal protestations, Harry somehow knew exactly what was happening. He'd wished upon a star…and it had come true. This was his second chance, this infant form of him. Harry wasn't sure exactly what he was supposed to do, but he knew that his wish had somehow come true.
He was going to set things right. Obviously it was too late for his parents, if the charred remains of their house was anything to go by…but he could still do so much else.
Starting with himself.
Any time now, Hagrid would be showing up to cart little Harry off to the Dursleys, setting Harry up from the beginning for a life of unhappiness and pain. He could change that now.
And all he had to do was reach out and pick himself up.
But there was another consideration. Sirius Black. If things went as they did before, Harry's Godfather would end up in Azkaban, and Peter Pettigrew would get away scotch free.
Azkaban had scarred Sirius almost beyond healing. Another thing Harry could change.
With nary a second thought, Harry swept his younger self up…and things changed.
Suddenly he was…wearing a diaper? Lying on rubble? Chubby?
Horror overtook Harry. He was now trapped in his infant-self's body.
Shit. Not good.
After screaming in annoyance a few times and getting increasingly furious with the baby-wail he emitted, Harry chose to sulk and wait. Amusing himself by idly trying to grab his small feet in his hands – how could fingers really be that small? – Harry heaved a small sigh and waited impatiently for Hagrid to arrive. It had been several minutes already, and Harry had discovered that all of his powers remained with him, including Voldemort's powers. He could still perform wandless magic, and he could still clearly remember everything he had learned in the past several years.
Well, he'd asked for it. A second chance…. But he hadn't meant living his entire life over, damnit!
Finally Hagrid arrived. Harry immediately cast a Disillusionment spell on himself, feeling a pang of guilty regret as Hagrid grew frantic in his search for the infant Potter. Harry was not going to live another ten years with the Dursleys, thank you very much.
He'd just wait until Sirius arrived…and then his new and improved childhood would begin.
After five minutes of futile searching, Hagrid, sniffling, seemingly gave up. As he was trudging away from the scene, a loud screeching noise broke through the rather still night.
He was riding a flying motorcycle, cutting through the dark thoughtlessly. Hagrid paused and stared, his shoulders drooping even more. 'Ah, yes. Now he has to tell Sirius that his godson has gone missing,' Harry thought, feeling ever sorrier for the half-giant.
Harry couldn't make out what Sirius and Hagrid said once his godfather landed, but he clearly heard the, "NO!" Sirius shouted after a few moments. "No, he's still here," Sirius snarled, heading straight towards the burnt-out house of his best friend. "Harry is not dead. I'd know if he was."
Hagrid shook his head sadly, before shouting to Sirius, "Thanks fer the bike! Dumbledore will be here soon, an' he'll help yer look!"
With that, Hagrid was gone. Harry immediately countered his own Disillusionment charm, before letting out a clearly audible sniffle. The response was immediate – Sirius whirled, his young face gaunt with grief, his eyes wild. And then Black saw Harry.
"Thank God," he whispered hoarsely, striding to the boy and dropping to his knees at Harry's side. "Oh, thank God." Sirius swept Harry into his arms and cradled him against his chest, shutting his eyes tight against oncoming tears.
"Pafoo," Harry murmured sleepily, distantly annoyed at the bastardization of his words. Damn his undeveloped state!
Sirius laughed bitterly at the sound of his nickname. "Yeah, it's me, Padfoot. C'mon, then, Harry…I've got to get you someplace safe."
Sirius Apparated to an old, run-down house Harry had never before seen. It wasn't Black Manor, that was for certain, nor was it Hogwarts or anywhere in Hogsmeade.
"Now wait here and be a good boy while I go kill your Uncle Wormtail, eh?" Sirius told the boy, rage and grief warring in his eyes.
Uh-oh. Not good. Harry immediately began wailing, crocodile tears falling from his eyes to Sirius' robes. To Harry's unspeakable relief, Sirius' face softened and he held Harry tighter.
"No, you're right," Sirius sighed, as if in response to Harry's wails. "Peter isn't worth it, not while I have you to look after. But if everyone thinks I was the Secret Keeper…." Black trailed off, his expression hardening into determination. "Well, looks like you and me are outlaws now, Harry."
Harry gurgled in approval. 'Wanted dead or alive….'