Disclaimer: Jo's world, I just live here.
Summary: A post-Half Blood Prince rewrite of Time For Me. Voldemort has a plan to catch Harry out of bounds and cast a spell to send him back two hundred years, but all does not go as planned and Harry isn't as gone as he'd thought...
A/N: For those who've read Time For Me, you'll notice that the majority of this is exactly the same. That's because it really took surprisingly little tweaking to make it HBP-compliant. However, in order to save time I cut-'n'-pasted quite a bit. I'm worried I may have missed something, so if you find a passage or word that's inconsistent with HBP or with the rest of the story so far, please let me know. Thanks!
Harry floated lazily around the Quidditch pitch, lost in thought. McGonagall had cancelled Quidditch for the year, saying it was too dangerous to have such a large gathering outside the walls of the school, so the only chance he had to fly were these nighttime excursions. They were also the only chance he had to relieve some of the stress that seemed to have taken up permanent residence in his life.
The first example had been over the summer. He had returned to the Dursleys' as the headmaster had wished and stayed there until he came of age, then he packed everything he'd ever owned (which was depressingly little) and rode the Knight Bus to Grimmauld Place. There he learned, to his surprise, that the house had been abandoned. With the Secret Keeper gone, the Fidelius charm was cancelled and Bellatrix and Narcissa remembered their family home, and decided to pay it a visit; the Order barely had enough time to get out before the Death Eaters had apparated in.
Of course, Harry didn't know this until he got to Hogwarts and found the Order huddled together in the Great Hall. It was heartening to know that they hadn't given up, but Harry could easily see the amount of chaos and confusion that Dumbledore's death had caused.
Tonks, Kingsley, Remus and Bill Weasley had all banded together to train Harry, pushing him to work hard and learn fast anything and everything they could teach. Remus covered various Dark creatures who were known to work for Voldemort, Bill taught him how to make and break curses and wards, Tonks taught him how to disguise himself in all sorts of ways – including the basics of animagus training, and Kingsley trained him physically and in dueling. By the end of the summer, Harry was looking forward to school as a nice vacation.
Naturally, that wasn't how it worked out. After a month on the routine that his teachers had devised, Harry was able to finish his schoolwork at a record speed, leaving him with inordinate amounts of free time. And with no Quidditch…
Thus Harry had taken to continuing his training on his own in the Room of Requirement every evening. Ron and Hermione were oblivious as they had finally gotten together over the summer and were quite busy exploring their relationship. So, every evening for the last three weeks he'd gone to the Room of Requirement to run laps, lift weights, and do other exercises Kingsley had shown him. After he was thoroughly tired, he showered, then took his Firebolt down to the pitch and flew until he could imagine that he was just a regular kid, with nothing special about him or his destiny, and with no impossible tasks ahead.
Much though he hated to admit it, he had no idea whatsoever how to complete the destruction of Voldemort. Oh he wanted to, he wanted Voldemort gone more than he'd thought possible when he'd first heard the dreaded wizard's name. But he didn't even know how Dumbledore had found those Horcruxes that were already discovered. He had not idea how to find the pendant, and hadn't had any luck discovering the identity of R.A.B. Harry would never admit it to his friends – rarely even admitted it to himself – but he was beginning to despair of ever being able to completely destroy the Dark Lord.
Normally, Harry used the time on his broom to relax and get his mind free of such thoughts, but tonight that just didn't seem possible. His mind swirled with thoughts of Death Eaters and Voldemort. Two dozen people had been killed already since the end of summer. And those were only the ones the Daily Prophet reported as confirmed Death Eater attacks; Harry didn't doubt there were more. It was all happening so fast. If he didn't hurry, Voldemort will have taken over before Harry had a chance to destroy the Horcruxes. After all, it took Dumbledore most of a school year just to find one, and that was Dumbledore!
Harry sighed, pulling his broom around for one last lap. He was getting nowhere tonight. It all came down to time, though! If he could just be sure that he had enough time to gather the Horcruxes and destroy them before Voldemort destroyed everything he cared about…
A flash of light from below distracted the boy and he realized suddenly that he'd ventured outside the wards, something no student was supposed to do without an escort of a professor or an auror.
With a flick of his wrist, Harry pulled his wand out of its holster and slowly dropped to ground level. He recognized the part of the forest he was in, and wasn't too worried. From there, he could get to Hogwarts in less than a minute if he sprinted.
"Potter. Potter!" a familiar voice hissed behind him. Harry spun around, but found himself pointing his wand at thin air. "Potter, listen, get back inside the wards, now! They'll be here any second and –"
But whatever the mysterious voice was going to add was lost as a series of pops rang through the forest. Harry spun around again, this time finding himself facing over a dozen hooded figures, with one in particular at the front.
"Hello, Harry," Voldemort drawled.
Harry cursed. "I do not have time for this," he growled to himself.
"Oh, I think you'll soon find yourself with…time to spare," Voldemort smiled, pointing his wand. "Tempus Expugno!"
There was a bright flash of light and Harry disappeared.
One of the Death Eaters burst into spontaneous applause, lifting his hood and mask and striding cheerfully up to the Dark Lord's side.
"Oh wonderful, wonderful!" the man exclaimed, his long chocolate-brown queue bouncing with each boisterous step. "That was done perfectly! I mean, obviously not exactly how you wanted it, m'lord, but I think things will work out better the way I made the spell."
Voldemort's eyes narrowed dangerously. "Aries," he growled, "are you saying you deviated from my exact specifications without my permission!"
"Well, yes, in a nutshell," Aries said with an unconcerned smile. "After all, you never would have given your permission, not with your original plan in mind. And what a disaster that would have been!"
"Aries," Voldemort hissed warningly. Aries was his most valuable and most intelligent Death Eater, the only spell-smith and ward-master in his ranks. But even he had limits, and the young man was treading dangerously close to them.
"Oh relax, my dear Marvolo," Aries sighed, "stress kills, you know. Anyway, as I was saying, Potter wasn't sent back 200 years, like you wanted, instead it was more like…20 years, two months. Oh, and the spatial calibration was slightly off, so he ended up over by the…lake I believe."
"Aries, what the devil are you doing!" Severus demanded, rushing forward from the throng of Death Eaters and gripping his friend by the arm so hard it almost hurt.
"Sorry Sev," Aries said, dropping the rowdy act and looking chagrined. "I couldn't exactly have told you, could I?"
"Told. Him. What?" Voldemort demanded, practically vibrating with fury.
Aries pulled away from his friend and backed up a few steps, snickering. "Haven't you figured it out yet? Brilliant wizard indeed. Finite Incantatem."
As he waved his wand and cast the spell, Aries' appearance shifted, melting. His brown hair darkened to jet-black, his skin lost it's healthy tan, and his bland blue eyes blurred into a brilliant green. Finally, the blank skin of his forehead revealed a familiar scar.
A chorus of Death Eaters echoed what the Dark Lord shouted in outrage: "Harry Potter!"
"The one and only," Aries smirked, then glanced at where his younger counterpart had stood. "Well, now that you've sent away my double that is."
"So you're saying that my most faithful follower, my most devout servant, the only person I trusted with access to my personal library, is Harry Potter?" Voldemort laughed. "What would your dear parents think of you now, my jinx-smith?"
"They would be proud as can be, Riddle," Harry sneered. "You forget, thanks to you, I got the chance to know them. Oh, and it might be worth mentioning that I'm not the only one you sent back. A disloyal young Slytherin got here a little early. Say hello to your son, Lucius."
The blond aristocrat fell to his knees. He had only been released from Azkaban because of his son's 'successful' mission the previous spring, and his stay had damaged the man's composure badly. The only thing that had made him fit to serve in Voldemort's forces was his son's constant presence beside him.
While the Death Eater tried to wrap his mind around a fact he didn't want to be true, Harry waved over a person who had gone unnoticed standing in the shadow of Hagrid's hut.
"Hello," said the figure, a tall, thin man with strawberry-blonde hair in a crew cut above his slightly freckled face. "My name is Charles Higgins III. Though, I suppose most of you know me better by a different name and face." He, too, performed the counter-spell on himself and shimmered into a pale-skinned platinum blonde man. "Hello father. Wish I could say it's good to see you again, but quite frankly I got bored of you when I was back in school."
"Draco?" Lucius gasped, falling to his knees. "You...you were that horrible Higgins brat? What about the American family at your graduation? The generations of accurate background information at the ministry?"
"Well, Dumbledore helped a fair bit in the deception, and Harry gave us a heads up for whenever you went digging where you shouldn't have," Draco sneered. Severus, by now, had retreated to the sidelines and Harry could tell he was gaping in shock. "In fact, Harry was a right chap about the whole thing. Whereas you…you were nothing but a spineless worm who wouldn't even help out a fellow Slytherin like poor Sev when he got in a scuffle with those prats Potter and Black. Two against one is not how a Slytherin fight should be. Well," he amended, smirking, "two Slytherins against one Gryffindor is alright."
"Oh, by the way," Harry interjected, looking at his watch. "You might want to scurry off now. The headmistress got a notice of your planned attack about fifteen minutes ago and should have amassed adequate forces by now. So…bye, now!"
"Blasted menace!" Voldemort shouted, raising his wand. "Flagellatus!"
"Inlaedus," Harry countered lazily. "You forget, I've specially designed most of your curses, and I alone know each and every counter-curse by heart and wand."
With one last glare, Voldemort and his Death-Eaters, including Snape, disapparated with a series of loud pops, never noticing the spell Harry had cast with his wand behind his back.
"Think Sev'll be alright?" Harry asked worriedly, bringing down the Forgetfulness Ward as he and Draco walked toward the castle.
"He'll be fine," Draco answered, then grimaced. "He may never forgive us, but he'll be fine." Harry sighed and looked over his shoulder, so Draco whacked him on the back of the head. "Hey, there wasn't any better way, really. Well, you might have been more tactful."
"I couldn't help it," Harry moaned. "I saw Potter- I mean, er, me – disappear and I suddenly realized that it had all come full circle. Plus, now that I'm the only Harry Potter I have twice the energy, and that's a bit much to handle with tact."
"Man, Harry Potter," Draco sighed. "It's going to be so weird calling you that again."
"Feels weird being Harry Potter again," Harry said, reaching up to scratch his neck. "Like my own skin doesn't fit anymore."
"At least you don't look like Potter. Though that could be because you're an age he never reached."
Harry remembered a time he would have flinched at such a callous reminder of his parents' deaths, but sixteen years had left him plenty of time to grieve, and he no longer felt the loss so much.
"You do realize that, by they're reckoning," Harry gestured at the castle, "we were children just moments ago."
"Well, let them worry about that. Come on, I prepared some tea before I left, it should be nice and hot."
Harry took a deep breath, smiled, and let himself be lead up the castle steps. However, as soon as he opened the doors, he realized that warm cup of tea was going to be a ways away.
"Mr. Potter? And Mr. Malfoy?" Headmistress McGonagall called wonderingly, stepping into the light. "Or perhaps you are more used to the names Hesuchazo and Higgins."
"Either will work, Minerva," Draco said tiredly. He opened his mouth again, but whatever he was about to say was cut off as another voice spoke from the shadows.
"Hermione?" Harry asked, perking up. "And Ron? Oh, it's so good to see you again."
"Again? What do you mean, mate?" Ron asked quizzically, removing the invisibility cloak and stepping nearer after a wary glance at the headmaster. "Bloody hell! You're old!"
"I am not!" Harry sputtered indignantly. Draco swallowed a snigger and Harry shot him a dirty look that reminded him, quite clearly, that they were the same age. "I'll have you know I'm only 37; and I should be the one cursing - I've got twenty years on you and you're still taller than me!"
Ron gaped at him for a moment, then caught sight of Malfoy.
"And look at him! The Death Eater is all grown up, too! He did this to you, didn't he Harry? I'll get him for you!" He rolled up his sleeves as if to do just that, but Harry grasped his wrists in a surprisingly firm grip and held him off.
"Steady there, Ron," he said, an amused light in his eyes. "First of all, I'm quite capable of fighting my own battles. Second, Draco is not a Death Eater; and third, he did not do this to me, I did this to us."
"What is it?" Hermione asked, looking him over from head to foot. "An aging potion? But you must have drunk a whole cauldron-full each to have aged twenty years."
"Nothing so simple, Hermione," Harry said, drawing himself up.
Draco sighed and conjured himself a chair. Harry wasn't very chatty, but get him on the subject of the intricacies of spells he had created and the Gryffindor could talk the ears off a brick wall.
"It's actually rather complicated. You see, I was asked to make a spell to send myself back in time two hundred years, but I was already aware it wouldn't send me back near that far. So what I did was I created a spell that would send a person back in time ten years and one month for each wave of the wand, but told Voldemort it was a century to a wand wave. I had to convince him not to practice on anything, though, because he would have easily sensed the lack of power in the spell, and that was difficult, but it was all worth it. I've been working on that spell for over a year now, and I finally got to see it pay off."
"Wait, wait, wait," Hermione held up her hands. Draco was grateful; he knew Harry was just getting warmed up. "You 'told Voldemort'? He was the one who asked you to make the spell?"
Harry nodded, pleased that his brilliant friend had picked up on this detail.
"And why were you working for Voldemort?" Hermione asked faintly, she had gone a little green.
"That is what I would like to know," McGonagall demanded sharply.
Harry cringed. From what Charles had told him, McGonagall was one who had reacted badly to his 'turning traitor'. She did not take kindly to Dark wizards in her own house.
"Maybe I should start at the beginning," he said, sheepishly.
"Great, now if we could just get you to decide where the beginning is," Draco sneered. Ron bristled and made to jump to his friend's defense, but Harry beat him to it.
"Ha! Got you there, mate," he declared triumphantly. "The story obviously begins with my night-time flight on the pitch."
"Wrong again, Slythindor," Draco countered. "You wouldn't know it, of course, but the story actually begins with Professor Higgins sending me a note with my correspondence Defense lesson."
"What?" Harry squawked. "You little cheater! You sent –" He groaned. "Fine, I give up; if you know so much, you tell it."
"Alright," Draco clapped his hands together in a way that seemed very familiar to Hermione. "As you all know, I had to leave school after…er…last year. My mother didn't want me to fall behind in my schooling, so she found me a set of teachers who would be willing to send me courses with a weekly owl. One of them was actually Professor Higgins. However, along with this week's coursework, I received a note, telling me that I should be at the edge of Hogwarts wards at 10:13 today. I thought it must be some sort of extra-credit work, so I apparated here and what did I find but this prat," he jerked his thumb at Harry, "floating on his broom, head in the clouds, outside of the wards."
"WHAT?" Ron, Hermione, and McGonagall demanded loudly. Harry backed away in mock alarm.
"Hey, I had a lot on my mind," he said defensively, "believe me, it's all sorted out now."
"Anyway, I managed to catch his attention and put an invisibility spell on myself," Draco continued. "I tried to warn him to get back inside the wards, but before he could get it in his thick head that standing unprotected in the Forbidden Forest might be a bad idea, Voldemort and a bunch of Death Eaters apparate in and send us both back to the summer before term."
"But…" Hermione protested, wrinkling her nose in confusion. Harry could practically see her thoughts: that couldn't possibly be long enough.
"The 1977-78 term," he amended quickly. He was about to continue when a screech rent the air, announcing the arrival of a jet-black owl.
"Baal!" Draco exclaimed in surprise, standing and reaching up with one arm to let the owl perch. But Baal screeched angrily and pecked Harry on the top of the head before settling down on the back of Draco's chair, glaring balefully.
"That's not a good sign," Harry muttered, patting his injured scalp and wincing when his fingertips came back speckled with blood.
"Who's owl is that?" Ron asked.
"That's Sev's owl," Harry said dully. He untied the letter from Baal's leg and read it aloud.
"To: Whoever you are,
If you have anything at all to say for yourselves, meet me you-know-where in two days.
"Ouch," Draco added. "At least he's given us a chance to explain ourselves."
"And we have a chance to practice, too." Harry was, evidently, attempting to be positive. "So, you guys want to hear what happened?"
"I have to hear this," said Hermione. "You, Malfoy and Snape friends? I wouldn't think even time travel could do that."
Harry and Draco laughed, McGonagall raised an eyebrow, but Ron just frowned. Harry suddenly knew that this was going to be a very long night. With a sigh, he conjured chairs for the rest of them and a table for him to lean against - he had long ago lost the ability to feel safe while sitting - and began a very long tale.
Chapter 1: Back to Basics
There was a bright flash of light and Harry felt something grip his arm tightly as he began to spin. It was like traveling by floo, except instead of fireplaces whirling by, there were flashes that lasted just long enough for him to make out semi-familiar faces and places, but not long enough for him to properly identify them. He tucked his elbows in anyway, drawing the person next to him closer. Relatively soon, the spinning slowed and stopped, and the brightness merged into sunlight.
He was by the lake on the grounds of Hogwarts, just after noon in the middle of the summer, if the shadows and the heat were anything to judge by. And he wasn't alone.
"Get off me, Malfoy," Harry growled, ripping his arm out of the Slytherin's grasp. He started stalking back toward Hogwarts, but Malfoy stopped him, grabbing onto the back of his cloak.
"Potter, do you have any idea what you just did!" Malfoy practically shrieked.
"Well I know very well what I didn't do," Harry sneered. "I didn't force you to come to the forest, I didn't invite Voldemort to join us, and I certainly didn't cast whatever spell that was!"
"Tempus Expugno," Malfoy ground out. "Latin for time capture. You just got us sent back in time, you moronic Gryffindor!"
"Don't talk to me like that, Death Eater!" Harry snapped. "If it wasn't for you, I'd still be on my broom!"
"In case you didn't notice, I was trying to warn you. If you'd look past your idiotic stubbornness for one moment you would realize I was trying to turn my back on that life!"
"Well then why are you so bloody tense?" Harry exclaimed. "We may be in the past, but Hogwarts is still here, so let's just go to the current headmaster and have him send us back."
"Don't be so optimistic," Malfoy snapped. "There is no way to send us 'back'. We're stuck here."
"Stuck here?" Harry repeated dumbly. "But, wait, why? If we can go back in time, why can't we go forward?"
"Because there is no such thing as forward, Potter! You can only go back in time, because that merely involves retracing the present until you get back to the past, but that consequently means that the present becomes the future, which doesn't exist until it becomes the present again. And for your information, I'm so tense because I may have been thinking about not being a Death Eater in our time, but now I don't have any choice, do I?"
Harry blinked, twice.
Malfoy rolled his eyes, muttered about the stupidity of Gryffindors in general and stalked off. Harry very deliberately did not follow him, but walked toward the castle, where Malfoy also seemed to be heading. Unfortunately, Malfoy stopped suddenly in front of the main doors and whirled around.
"Let's get one thing straight, Potter," he said firmly. Harry raised an eyebrow at the commanding tone, but said nothing. "I don't fancy mucking up the past here and accidentally preventing my own birth, so no matter what, don't you dare try to change anything."
Harry wanted to protest, there were so many reasons to – the future/present was horrible, so many people's lives could be better if certain truths were known, certain actions prevented; besides, Malfoy was ordering him around – but he knew, though it galled him to admit it even to himself, that Malfoy was right, and that a slip of the tongue could cause disaster.
"Fine," he snarled, then continued as Malfoy started to turn back, "but you know, if we're anywhere near our own time, we'll be recognized on sight. Obviously, we can't tell our names to anyone, but really, we look quite a bit like our parents. We can't just waltz in there and tell the headmaster we're Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy; that would change history all by itself."
Malfoy glared at him and a muscle in his left eyebrow twitched; he looked like he was physically preventing himself from throttling Harry.
"So what are you suggesting, Potter?" he ground out. "That we hide out in complete isolation for however long it takes to get back?"
"I'm suggesting that we create fake identities," Harry said, enunciating clearly. "We can still tell the headmaster that we're from the future, so that he can help us out, but this way he won't know who we are on sight."
Malfoy sat down heavily.
"Jeez, Potter, doesn't take long for you to mess up someone's life, does it?" he muttered.
"Hey, took almost seven years for you," Harry retorted angrily, "my parents only lasted a little over one year."
The Slytherin seemed to come back to himself at that, which made Harry even more disgruntled, but he swallowed it and distracted himself by trying to come up with a fake persona.
"I'm Charles Higgins III," Malfoy announced a few minutes later. "I'm from a wealthy, pureblood, American family who originally came from Britain. After deeming my curriculum at the Salem Institute insufficient, I was sent here to go to Hogwarts. Family ties to the school and whatnot."
Harry thought this over, then shook his head. "You can't be pureblood, too easy to verify," he thought for a moment while Malfoy gaped in outrage. "Your great grandfather, Charles Higgins I, was a squib who moved to America and started the company that has brought your family so much money; but he always stayed faithful to his roots and maintained the family tradition that the next wizard in the family be a Charles Higgins."
"I will NOT pose myself as a mudblood, Potter!" Malfoy shrieked, having found his voice at last.
"Fine," Harry said, shrugging, "then you set yourself up to be found out. Besides, it's not like you wouldn't have any wizarding roots, and you can be just as snobby about the Higgins family business as you could about being a Pureblood Malfoy."
Malfoy sulked and glared, but didn't protest again.
"Well, what about you then? Who're you going to be?" he demanded.
"I don't know, I'm no good at just making stuff up," Harry snorted, "well, unless it's Divinations homework, that is."
"Tell you what, I'll go by your version of the Higgins story, if you be Aries Hesuchazo," Malfoy sneered.
"Why, what's it mean?" asked Harry warily.
"Well, Aries is the Greek god of war, but Hesuchazo means 'to lead a quiet life'. Seems perfect to me. After all, everyone sees you as the High-and-Mighty, Savior of the World, but you're just a big doof with nothing special about him."
"You're right," Harry said with a laugh, startling Malfoy, "that does suit me. All right, I'm Aries Hesuchazo, son of a Greek wizard who left the home country when he was 11, during the second Muggle World War after his parents were killed – doesn't speak hardly a word of the language now – and a muggle-born English witch. Both were educated at Hogwarts – a Slytherin and a Ravenclaw respectively – and my father, after experiencing heavy prejudice because of his house, became paranoid and overprotective, convincing my mother to home-school me until this year, when I convinced them that, since I'm of age, they couldn't really stop me anyway."
Malfoy blinked, seemingly completely stunned by what Harry had come up with. Despite the boy's claims to the contrary, Draco privately thought Harry must be quite good at such things as alibis, once he was given something to work with. It also quite stunned him that Harry would even consider setting his parents up as anything other than tried and true Gryffindors.
"Ah, but how do you know we're even in a time where the second world war would be applicable?" Malfoy asked deviously.
"I don't, but I can change the story as need be," Harry said with a shrug. "Now we just need glamour charms. I want brown hair and I want it long, plus a nice tan for once, and blue eyes. What about you?"
"Why should I have to change anything?" Malfoy growled. "I'm perfect as I am."
Harry's mouth opened and closed like a fish for a moment. "There are just…so many things wrong with that statement," he finally stammered out. "I'll start with strategy first, though. You look like a Malfoy, plain and simple. If we don't change how you look, people will wonder, and that's dangerous. I say strawberry blonde, very short; and no gel, and perhaps change your eyes and skin, too."
"I'll get you for this someday, Potter," Malfoy growled, but he raised his wand and made the appropriate changes.
"Ah ah ah," Harry corrected him, "that's Hesuchazo."
With their fake identities firmly in mind, the two time travelers made their way – Malfoy grumbling and Harry strolling pleasantly – to the headmaster's office. There was a brief incident when Harry realized he didn't know the password, but Malfoy just looked down his nose at the Gryffindor and knocked. The gargoyle stepped aside moments later and they both looked up at a hardly-changed Dumbledore.
"Oh, my; and who might you be?" the headmaster asked.
Malfoy stayed sullenly silent through the entire explanation, which was actually quite short, as Harry had to leave out their names and anything that might give away their identities. In the end he settled on saying: "We're victims of time travel from October 26, 1997. Can you tell us when we are?"
Dumbledore's eyebrows lifted clear into his hairline, but he replied, "August 26, 1977." Then, after a significant pause wherein he seemed to be speechless, "Oh dear. We'll have to get you two set up right away, term begins in less than a week. You're already wearing glamour, so I trust you had the foresight to make up false histories?"
Harry and Malfoy nodded, and the three of them set about getting Aries Hesuchazo and Charles Higgins III registered at Hogwarts for the 1977-1978 term. Both had been to Hogsmead the day of their transport – it being a Hogsmead weekend – and so they were lucky enough to have funds for books and robes and such in their pockets, and Dumbledore promised to take care of 'everything else'. Just what 'everything else' might be, neither thought to ask.
After a rather loud and insult-filled argument, Dumbledore decided that Charles would be put in Gryffindor with Aries, since muggle-born witches and wizards – even those with squib ancestors – were not welcomed in Slytherin under the present climate, and Dumbledore thought it best to keep his two temporally abnormal students together. Harry hoped that Dumbledore wouldn't have to change his mind the hard way after they killed each other off.
Harry, of course – or Aries, as he was now to be known – led the way to Gryffindor tower, giving Malfoy – Higgins – a tour of the basic facilities, including the hazard that was the girls' dormitory stairs. He privately thought it would be far more amusing just to let Higgins find out on his own, but Dumbledore wouldn't have approved, and the former Slytherin would have murdered him for it. Aries figured it would be best to keep the peace for as long as possible.
Unfortunately, that didn't prove to be long as, upon entering the Seventh Year Boys' dorms and noticing the initials monogrammed into the footboards, Harry had to sit down rather suddenly.
"What in the name of Salazar's Staff is wrong now!" Malfoy snapped, hauling Harry back to his feet.
"We are in so much trouble," Harry muttered. He pointed to each bed in order. "RL – Remus Lupin, SB – Sirius Black, JP – James Potter, and PP – Peter Pettigrew."
There was a long pause, then Malfoy turned around, dragging Harry with him. "That is it," he declared. "I'm having us transferred to Hufflepuff. There is no way I'm sharing a dorm with a mass murderer, a werewolf, and your dead father."
Harry shoved him away and stood, glaring. "Remus Lupin went to extreme measures to ensure he was safe while he was at school. And Pettigrew didn't turn traitor until around the time I was born. Besides," he said with a tired smirk, "we both know we'd go insane within a week in Hufflepuff."
"Fine," Malfoy sneered, "but you owe me big."
"'Gryffindor Drools' T-shirt big?" Harry asked warily.
Malfoy shook his head, a cruel smirk playing on his lips. "Throw a Quidditch game big, Potter."
Harry waited two seconds, then responded, "We both play for Gryffindor now, though." He bolted down the rest of the stairs, dodging Malfoy's swinging fist, then yelled over his shoulder, "And it's Hesuchazo!"
The next few days were spent in diligent study for both boys. Not of their new schoolbooks, because those covered the same material as Harry and Malfoy's sixth year. No, they were studying the last three months of Daily Prophet issues. They were surprised to realize that they shared a great appreciation for the dry, factual reporting, quite different from the embellished, ministry-controlled fiction of the present/future. Whenever the news became just too depressing (or dull, to Malfoy) they would challenge each other to expound on their fake pasts. These sparring matches would end when one or the other contradicted himself or fail to answer promptly. The winner then posed either a question or a dare that the loser had to answer or perform.
Harry found himself admitting that he'd almost been a Slytherin and speaking for an entire hour in Parseltongue.
Malfoy found himself telling about his stuffed bear Ponpon and singing 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' to the staff at breakfast.
Malfoy relaxed a little more around Harry and stopped being so pushy, apparently thinking anyone worthy of Slytherin couldn't be all bad. Harry went along, comfortable so long as Malfoy wasn't insulting his friends or his parents; and, to tell the truth, he just couldn't reconcile a stuffed-bear-named-Ponpon wielding Malfoy with his image of Death Eater Malfoy. Rather than try to reconcile the two, Harry simply declared the new Malfoy 'Charles Higgins III' in his mind and was done with it. Malfoy did the same and, each with his own new image and name for the other, there were no more near-misses of almost calling the other by their old/future names.
Aries shut his journal after carefully signing his new name at the bottom of the day's entry and activated the locking charm. There were actually two on the book; the main one to prevent just anyone coughCharlescough from reading it, and a second on the first page where Harry had recorded his life-story-in-miniature, just in case the past/present became too much and he had to be obliviated to keep from meddling.
On their fourth day there, Charles had expounded on his explanation as to why they couldn't go forward, back to their own time.
"See, time is like this, okay?" Charles had said in his magicked American accent, spreading out a sheet of parchment. "It's straight and flat and one-dimensional. What happens in time travel is you take a piece of the present," he lifted the edge of the parchment, "and drag it back to the past," he curled the edge back so it touched the parchment in the middle. "Now, our personal timeline is curled up like this, but the full timeline is still spread out, like this," he slipped a second sheet under the first. "if our timeline were to diverge from the main timeline again – in going forward or in meddling with past events…" he ripped the curled part of the parchment completely away. "It just doesn't work, see? We would be caught in a never-ending loop, because we would cease to exist, which means we never would have meddled, which means time never would have ripped. Of course, things like that don't happen because time can't rip, so we can't change the past and we can't go back to our time. Got it?"
Aries did, at least in general: time was best left alone and Voldemort was a complete and utter prat for messing with it in the first place.
With a sigh, Aries stored the leather-bound book – a gift from Dumbledore – in a hidden compartment in his trunk, a la Moody. He was actually rather proud of his trunk. Instead of using different actual keys, he'd keyed the different compartments to different trunk sizes, using the magnitude of a shrinking spell as the indicator. When it was shrunk down to 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 foot, it opened to reveal a locked Gringotts safe-box with all his remaining money – a grand total of 20 galleons – the note written by R.A.B., which he had taken to carrying with him everywhere back in the future, a picture of himself, Ron and Hermione, and, of course, the journal.
A part of him sneered that he was being paranoid – A locked page inside a locked journal inside a locked Gringotts box inside a secret compartment inside a locked trunk? – but after the training he had gone through, he figured a little paranoia never hurt anyone. Being careless, though, often did.
"Hey!" Charles' voice came through the door, accompanied by several sharp knocks. "Lunch time, Aries. You coming?"
"Yeah, I'll be right there!" Aries called back, quickly restoring his trunk to its proper size.
He walked out to find Charles slouching against the stairway wall, glaring at an apparently offensive stone opposite him.
"What's got your knickers in a twist?" Aries asked as they started off to the Great Hall. Charles often had fits of peak, and they always tended to be about the situation in general, but this anger seemed more…currently-based.
"The potions professor," Charles grumbled. "Professor Slughorn again. He came up to me while I was working on the summer assignment, asking me if I needed any help. I declined, but he just sat down anyway and started chatting about all the famous people he knew, asking me if I knew any of them."
"And to think, you were so eager to get into his little club last year," Aries teased. Charles shuddered.
"I think I understand why you stayed away, the man's obnoxious!"
"I know what you mean," Aries commented dryly. "We should both do our best to stay away from the Slug Club, I think. Those 'important people' could point us out as frauds faster than you can say the school motto." He took a breath and let it out again as they sat. "Anyway, up for another sparring match?"
"I'm always ready, goose-brain. Who's turn was it last?"
"Well, I finished off with that question about your aunt, so yours I guess." Aries smirked at the memory; he had asked what sort of hair Aunt Jill had and Charles had told him 'Red. First redhead in the family in fact, spread it around to the rest of us.' Aries had then been forced to point out that, unless Aunt Jill slept around a lot, she couldn't possibly have given Charles his red hair.
"All right, why doesn't your father speak Greek anymore? Wouldn't his aunt and uncle have spoken it when he went to live with them?" Charles asked slyly.
"No, not very much," Aries answered after barely a moment's hesitation. "Uncle Silas moved to England in his early-thirties where he met Auntie Nadia. She, of course, didn't speak Greek at all, so Father had to learn English right off if he wanted to communicate with anyone other than Uncle Silas – who was actually rather a bore. Once out of the habit, it never really came back to him."
The game went back and forth across the Gryffindor table until long after they had cleared their plates. Finally, Aries messed up, accidentally calling 'Auntie Nadia' 'Aunt Nadine'. Aries protested that they were practically the same name, but Charles was correct in stating that it could still make people suspicious, and that was the point of the game – to catch suspicious things before they happened.
"All right, you win," Aries admitted with a sigh. "What's my penalty?"
Charles drank the last of his pumpkin juice and stared at Aries grimly for a while before speaking. "Why are you so happy hear, when you looked downright miserable when I saw you on your broom?"
Harry sighed. He had figured some questions would be asked about his new attitude, but had hoped that Charles might steer clear. At least he seemed sincere in his curiosity, rather than just looking for some way to stir up trouble.
"Back home," he began slowly, "I had a task to complete. It was a race against time to try and get it done, and I didn't even know how to begin. The whole thing was rather daunting, really. But now…"
"Now you have twenty years to complete it," Charles said, nodding his comprehension.
"Right, so no worries," Aries winked, "you're sparring partner's not about to go wandering off school grounds in a sulk again, because I rather like it here."
A/N: I put both the prologue and chapter one here together in order to prevent inconsistencies in chapter numbers that sometimes happen (you know, where it's like 4. Chapter Three). Anyway, from now on, I'll be uploading one chapter every day to stall for time until I finish chapter eight.
PANTZ - Emerson