Falling. Miles of falling. 'Two thousand and thirty-eight point five three miles, assuming the gravitational constant is the same as our initial dimension.' Their mind helpfully supplied. 'In approximately thirty-seven minutes fifteen seconds we will have traveled the appropriate distance required to enter the reality currently occupied by Harry Potter.'
Their directive was clear. And in thirty seven minutes, they would achieve the first objective.
Then they would need to find Harry Potter.
The Shore of the Lake
7:30PM, September 29th, 1991
After the second time Harry had been forced to recount his battle against the Slytherin students in a matter of minutes, Harry took his leave of the Hufflepuff common room. He knew that Justin and the others were going to be mad at him for warding the hallway and he wanted to put off that confrontation as long as he could. Plus he had another hour until curfew and it was a beautiful fall evening. Perfect for a walk.
There came a sound, not unlike the tearing of paper, and he caught the blur of motion out of the corner of his eye, and maybe a flash of purple light. He whipped around, wand drawn just in time to see a plume of water on the opposite side of the lake. The splash receded and ripples spread out from the point of impact. Curiosity dragged Harry to the other side of the lake.
'I know it was right around here...' He thought. "Lumos." He scanned the water, but even with the light, he couldn't see much. It was already dark, after all. There was a faint silhouette rising to the surface about thirty feet out. It was almost... human shaped.
"Hello?" Harry tentatively called out.
8:07PM, September 29th, 1991.
'Contact.' They thought as they passed through the final rift into what was supposed to be Harry Potter's current reality. In seconds, they registered their location, and put up a wandless, nonverbal wedge-shaped shield, just before impact with the lake. At terminal velocity, even water could kill on impact. With the shield, they rose to the surface with only two broken ankles, a fractured tibia and a dislocated knee. Still within walking parameters.
"-ou all right?" Harry asked for the second time.
'Harry Potter. We bring to you an urgent message concerning the state of the time-space continuum.'
11:21PM, September 29th, 1991
"So, let me get this straight. You used to be Ginny Weasley. But after I traveled through space and time, Voldemort went back in time and killed you before you helped send me back in time. This would make it impossible for you to have sent me back in time, because you were dead. But you didn't die, because I had already been sent back in time."
"Affirmative, but we have one clarification. We did die. We also did not die. An analogy might be drawn to Schrödinger's cat hypothesis. We both exist and do not exist. This is the problem."
"Right..." Harry sighed. "So, Voldemort's time travel linked my home world together with this new world. I need to defeat Voldemort in the Chamber of Secrets next year and if I fail, a world with two Voldemorts in it will overwrite this world and my home world, obliterating everyone and everything inside them. Am I right so far?"
"There are several flaws in your statement. The encounter with Voldemort is not until April, 20th 1993, so calling it next year is inaccurate and 'world' is a flawed term that does not correctly mirror what is occurring, but we sense that you have an elementary understanding of the situation thus far. Continue."
"A simple 'yes' would have sufficed... Anyway, if I win, then only one of the two Voldemorts will exist, and I will need to defeat the other at some later date and once he is dead I will be given the choice between destroying my home world or this world. Both of them cannot exist at the same time."
"Affirmative. This event is slated to occur on the day you exited your previous reality and entered this one."
"So, here's the part where I'm confused. If Voldemort has already traveled back in time, why hasn't he already won? Why do we still exist if he's already killed you?"
"Because relative to you, Voldemort does not arrive in the Chamber of Secrets for another nineteen months. It is only from Voldemort's reference frame that he has triumphed. From the reference frame of the universe, he both has and has not won. It will not be until your conflict on that day that one of those possibilities will be eliminated."
Harry rubbed his temples vigorously. "I'm getting a headache from all of this."
"Understandable. Mortal minds were never meant to understand what it truly means to Be."
"So what are we going to do about you? This world already has a Ginny Weasley and she is only ten at the moment, and not even a student here yet."
"We can take care of ourselves." the Ginny-thing replied. She then vanished. No sound, no distortion in the air. One moment she had been there, and the next, she was gone.
Harry made it safely back to the common room and was relieved that his friends had given up on waiting for him and had gone to sleep. It only took him a few seconds after he'd laid down to do the same.
Near the Hogwarts Lake
4:45 PM, October 31st, 1991
"Harry, there you are!" Hermione called from across the grounds. She jogged to reach him, and Neville matched her pace.
"We haven't heard from you in weeks! What's been going on?" Neville inquired.
"Oh man. It's good to see you guys too. I've just been kept busy." Harry replied
"Busy? You've already done all of this before. What could have kept you from your friends?" Hermione demanded.
"The other Hufflepuffs. After my fight with the Slytherins last month, the other 'puffs have been escorting me everywhere, thinking that Slytherins were going to try and get revenge. I can't go anywhere without at least three fourth years with me as an escort. Professor Sprout herself comes to the common room to take me to Herbology. This is getting ridiculous."
"You have no idea..." Neville muttered under his breath.
"So you're not sulking or avoiding us due to the whole Ginny thing?" Hermione asked
"Nope. Just avoiding the mean, nasty Slytherins." Harry said with a mock sneer at Neville. "There have been five attempts on my life in the last three days. I've taken to putting a switching charm on the Hufflepuff and Slytherin punch bowls. Three Slytherins had to have their mouths regrown when they found essence of flesh eating slug in their punch. I'm going to have to skip the charm tomorrow because someone's going to think it's a brilliant idea to poison the Slytherin bowl instead."
Neville chuckled. "I was wondering what happened with that. That cow Pansy Parkinson couldn't talk all day yesterday. I though Christmas had come early."
The laughter settled them down onto more serious subjects. Neville put up a privacy charm.
"So how are things going on your end?" Harry inquired of his friends.
"Good, actually." Hermione replied. "I'm involved in several study groups and have been attending a few of the clubs around the school. I'm through the reading up to fifth year in most courses but my practical is a bit behind. I'll keep practicing."
"Cool. And you, Neville?"
"Working overtime to defuse Harry Potter death plots. I'm most of the way through the restricted section's potions collection. I've brewed more antidotes and sabotaged more potions in the past week than I thought possible. I swear if we live to graduation I'm going to be either a potions master or a healer with all this practical experience I'm getting. Some sixth year was trying to make the counter potion to Felix Felicis, a bad luck potion. Actually brewed it right too. I tweaked the temperature on his heating charm so it boiled over. Several Slytherins got a few whiffs of it and promptly got busted by Filch. Lost Slytherin eighty points between them."
"Ugly business." Hermione sniffed. "I wish they'd leave well enough alone. Someone else is bound to get hurt if they keep it up."
"Agreed." Neville replied. "But your brow's still wrinkled mate. Something else has been on your mind that you haven't told us."
"Yeah. Working my way up to it." Harry responded. "I'm just thinking about next year..."
"Well out with it. What's got you worried?" Neville persisted.
"If the circumstances don't fit the scenario Voldemort appeared in we risk creating another paradox and fracturing reality further than we already have. Voldemort's reality and mine would be separate and both of us would win, which is not possible because I needed Ginny's help to get here." Harry explained.
"You can't mean..." Neville trailed off.
"Yes, I do. In order for Voldemort to appear in this Chamber of Secrets, Ginny has to be there and the one possessed by the diary. We can't reach out to her or help. We have to sit there and watch her suffer all year and not do anything about it."
The three of them stood in silence for several minutes. One by one, they left the lake and returned to the castle for the Halloween feast.
A/n: I'm back everyone! I'm terribly sorry for the year long wait on this chapter. Things are absolutely miserable here. I'm graduated from college and now home living with my parents because I can't find work. My parents are divorcing. I have the money to move out, but not enough to handle rent without a monthly income.
I'll be doing my best to write more in the next few months. I'm intending to finish off first year with the next chapter. It'll likely be a series of a half dozen short scenes throughout the year to keep track of what everyone is doing.
That's all for now folks. Hope to be writing more soon.
P.S. My undergrad degree is in Chemistry. If you are working somewhere that could use me, drop me an email or an message. I'm willing to relocate.