A/N – This idea popped into my head while I was writing another story and would not let go. It is very hard to write one story when another is screaming for attention. Usually I have the endpoint planned out, but not in this case. Let's see where is goes…
A/N- I own nothing of the characters and places you recognize in this story. Only the plot and additional characters are mine.
A/N: Revision 1 – slight editorial changes or corrections
Chapter 1 – Grief
Lord Voldemort dropped to the ground exhausted. Deep wounds spilled blood onto his robes. His left arm ended in a stump at the elbow. The wound, cauterized by the heat of the spell that severed it did not bleed much, but still exceedingly painful. Voldemort grasped for his wand but realized it was missing.
A pair of boots with tattered robes above them appeared in front of him. With an effort, Voldemort looked up at the young man who had defeated him. Hatred filled the dying Dark Lord as he saw the blazing emerald eyes of his opponent. Even though his hate, Voldemort could feel his life and magic slipping away. The dying Dark Lord recognized his own wand in the hand of his rival.
The attack had been implemented perfectly. Potter's blood-traitor friend Weasley and the mudblood Granger had been captured two weeks prior. Voldemort and his Death Eaters allowed the traitor Snape to warn of an attack on Hogsmead. The arriving Aurors and Order members found Voldemort with all of his Death Eaters and allies waiting for them.
Voldemort presented the battered, violated and maimed bodies of Potter's friends. Draco Malfoy cast an Imperious Curse on Weasley. The cursed redhead teen proceeded to rip his girlfriend to pieces with a dark curse. Then young Malfoy released Ron to the reality of what he had done. They allowed him to live just long enough for the grief and pain to fully set in.
As planned, Potter lost control and started the battle. His Death Eaters and allies had driven the damned Order and Aurors back and left just their Master and his opponent to fight. The battle had raged all over the grounds of Hogwarts. The castle itself lay in ruins, only the Astronomy tower still standing. The bodies of Death Eaters and their opponents filled the grounds.
Ginny Weasley attempted to support Harry after Voldemort blasted him to the ground with an ancient curse. She momentarily distracted Voldemort and allowed Harry to recover his wand. As she concentrated on Voldemort, she did not see the troll approach her from behind and smash her into the ground with a club.
Harry Potter could only watch in stunned disbelief as his girlfriend was killed instantly while defending his life. Voldemort started to laugh at the pain and despair on the young man's face. Harry turned to face his life-long nemesis. Voldemort stopped laughing as the hero of Light started to glow. Suddenly a blinding flash and a wall of force pulsed out from Harry. Lord Voldemort just had time to erect his strongest shield before the power washed over him. The troll was thrown to the ground with such force that it shattered all of the bones in its body. Voldemort avoided most of the magical force behind his shield. Even his shields failed under that onslaught, leaving him defenseless, battered and broken.
"It seems the Prophecy favored you, Potter. But you won't enjoy your victory!" the dying Dark Lord grasped. It was not fair! After all of his studies and sacrifices, defeat by this whelp was not fair!
Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, the Chosen One, stood over the broken body of the man who killed everyone that he had ever loved. His parents, Sirius, Remus, all the Weasleys, Hermione, and Dumbledore all died because of this twisted thing before him.
Harry looked to where Ginny had fallen. They had established a bond over the last year, linking their magical energies. The backlash from her death feed the magical explosion that brought the battle and war to an end. "Why? Why did you have to do this?" the anguished question came from Harry's dry throat.
Voldemort gasped out a chuckle. "Why?" he hissed. "I learned the world is never fair. The strong take from the weak. To the victor goes the spoils."
Harry raised his wand with tears running down his cheeks and pointed it at the fallen Dark Lord. "I learned the same lesson. The world is not fair, but you still have to try. REDUCTO!"
The spell smashed into Voldemort's head, crushing it. The Second War was over.
(Six months later)
The hero of the wizarding world slumped over the table in his kitchen smelling of a great deal of fire whiskey. The last six months had been the worst of Harry's life. Harry had no reason left to live. Today was Harry's 18th birthday, a birthday without a single person to share it with him. They were all gone. Harry settled into a deep depression with no one to pull him out. At times, he pulled his wand out and pointed it at himself.
The magical community held a weeklong celebration over the final death of Voldemort and the end of the war. Everyone wanted to thank Harry for ending the threat. Almost all of the Ministry's Aurors and the Order of the Phoenix members died during the battle. Yet that did not seem to matter to most of the witches and wizards. They only cared that the Chosen One had ended their fear.
Many of the surviving members of the Ministry were pushing Harry to take the Minister of Magic position. Harry sensed they did not want him to lead them, but a figurehead to support their own positions. Didn't they realize that Harry never wanted to be a public person? All he wanted was to be left alone!
After the first week, Harry had taken to hiding in Hagrid's old hut on the Hogwart's grounds. The school itself was unlivable. The castle's damage was too significant to be safe. The Ministry was openly debating on permanently closing the school and moving it to a more convenient and modern location. The thought of being one of the few surviving members of the final Hogwarts graduates depressed Harry even further.
Harry suddenly awoke at a sudden noise and sluggishly raised his head to squint about the room. Harry noticed a blurry figure of a man sitting at the table across from him. Harry fumbled for his glasses and placed them on his face. Again, he squinted at the figure and was shocked.
The figure stood up and grabbed Harry by the back of his dirty shirt. "Stupid boy. You are disgusting."
Harry was dazed and confused as the figure dragged him out of the hut. What was Dumbledore doing here? He died during Harry's sixth year two years ago! How could he be here? The thoughts stumbled around Harry's drunken brain in a chaotic dance.
The dance suddenly ended in a freezing wet shock. Suddenly Harry could not breathe! He was underwater! He was drowning! Vainly Harry struggled against the grip that held him by the neck in the rain barrel outside the hut. The pressure suddenly lessened allowing Harry to push himself up and get some air.
"WHAT DO YOU…" Harry's shout was ended by another forced plunge into the barrel. After a seeming eternity, Harry was again released from the grip.
Harry pushed himself away from the barrel, falling hard onto the packed earth. Harry struggled to take deep breaths and wipe the water away from his face. A mug was thrust in front of his face and Harry heard a gruff but familiar sounding voice tell him to drink it.
Harry grasped the mug and drank the contents in a single shot.
"Great Merlin!" Harry swore, "That stuff is horrible!"
However, between the dunking and the potion, Harry felt his head clearing rapidly after his three-week bender. Harry looked up at this attacker again.
At first glance, Harry could see an immediate resemblance to his former Headmaster. Both of them were tall with long white beards. This person did not have the Headmaster's signature twinkle. Harry saw anger in his eyes. A fire that refused to be put out.
"Who are you?" Harry asked
The man extended a hand to the sodden young man sitting on the ground in front of him. Harry took his hand and the man pulled Harry up.
"I am Aberforth Dumbledore. You knew my idiot, goody-two shoes older brother."
Harry shook his head to clear his thoughts. "You are Professor Dumbledore's brother? He mentioned you."
The man grunted, "Probably the damn story about the goat. Did he mention that he spiked my butterbeer with an altered love potion and put a glamour on the goat? I thought it was my wife."
Harry chuckled weakly at the thought of Professor Dumbledore playing a prank on his brother like that. Small as it was, it was the first feeling of true humor Harry had felt since Ron and Hermione disappeared.
Harry followed Aberforth back into the hut. They took their seats around the table. Harry pushed the mostly empty bottle of fire whiskey away. It contained only enough for a single shot, yet the smell suddenly turned Harry's stomach.
"You have been hard to find, boy," Aberforth said.
"I tried to be. I couldn't take the celebrations anymore," was his reply.
"I was afraid I would only find a body."
Harry merely grunted noncommittally to this comment.
"Your scar has faded a lot. We need to move quickly." Aberforth said.
Harry was confused. "What do you mean we have to move quickly? Let the damn scar go away. I can hide better that way."
Aberforth shook his head. "No we need it. I have been looking for you for a month." The old wizard leaned forward in his chair. "Would you like a chance to set this right?"
"What do you mean? How?" Harry asked.
"I mean save my brother, your parents, everyone!" Aberforth said.
Harry was stunned. Save everyone? How? They were dead.
Aberforth smiled a sly, creepy smile. "We are going to steal a page out of Voldemort's own book, boy. We are going to kill him as an infant."
Now Harry was really shocked. For the first time since the battle, Harry felt his brain fully engage. "How can we do that?
"Simple, go back to when he was born and kill him."
Harry sat back in his chair. "We can't travel in time."
"I have a way. I can supercharge a TimeTurner, but it has a cost," Aberforth said. Harry merely raised an eye. "The first is you take the trip back but you are stuck there for a while."
"What do you mean a while?" Harry asked.
"Ten to twelve years. The magic needs to recharge in the TimeTurner."
Harry started to feel a hunger in him. Ten years to save everyone he loved? No problem. Harry waved off the issue. "What is the other problem?"
Aberforth exhaled, "This is a weird area of magic. There is a large risk. No one has ever gone back that far. When you return the world might be worse off then it is today. Also you can have unintended consequences. Things that seem unrelated are changed by what you did. When you return you will have the memories of this timeline but probably not of the new one. You would in effect be killing another version of you."
"Why me?" Harry asked. "Why can't you do this?"
"Your scar, boy. It links you to Voldemort. The magic can use that to allow you to appear in his area when you go back. Without the scar, you would have to search all of England to find him. Also, I am already there. My magical signature would be duplicated. Anytime someone sent me an owl there would be a 50-50 chance on who it would go to. The secret would not last long." The old wizard scowled, "I did not always like the old fart, but he was my older brother. Family I want him back."
Harry considered this. This was a chance to prevent Voldemort from ever becoming a danger to anyone. Harry felt a slight pang about killing an infant but it also seemed that turn about was fair play. After all, Voldemort tried to kill him as a one year-old. The lives it would save made this more then fair. After some of the things Harry accepted during the war, this seemed simple.
Harry looked up at the waiting Aberforth Dumbledore. "When do we start?"
The two wizards planned long into the night. They would only have one shot at doing this. If they succeeded, they could alter the course of history forever.
Harry agreed to meet Aberforth the next day near the Shrieking Shack. Aberforth had informed Harry he would reappear in the exact physical location he left their timeline. The Shack would not exist when Voldemort was born so there should be no one around to witness Harry's arrival. In addition, Aberforth remembered that the location was a meadow so there would be no trees or other items for Harry to hit on his arrival.
Harry spent the last twenty-four hours preparing for his mission. During a trip to Gringotts, Harry removed several million Galleons from his family vaults. Since He would be stuck in the past for twelve years, he would need the money.
Harry also visited many of the shops in Diagon Alley. Harry purchased a new trunk with special Engorgement charms to allow it hold much more then it should without getting heavy. It was also charmed to appear twenty-years out of date and worn. Harry filled the trunk with old-style Muggle and wizard clothing. He casually told the clerks they were for a themed-costume party. Finally, Harry also filled the trunk with a variety of books on magical topics, Muggle and wizard history and law and other topics that caught his interest.
Apparating back to Hagrid's hut, Harry also loaded a variety of his personal items. His Battle Robes that Professor Dumbledore gave him, his father's invisibility cloak, the Marauders' Map to name a few.
Once he was ready, Harry shrank his trunk and placed it into his pocket. Dressed in old-style Muggle clothes, he walked to the Shack to meet Aberforth.
The old wizard was already preparing for the ritual to supercharge the TimeTurner. Harry watched as the old wizard drew a variety of ancient runes on the ground over a two-hour period. Finally, he signaled he was ready.
Harry stepped into the center of the Runes and picked up the TimeTuner.
Aberforth said, "Remember, you will be in the past for exactly twelve years. At twelve years to the second, the magic will snap you back to this location. You can't stop it or hurry it up." At Harry's nod he continued, "The TimeTurner will not appear with you in the past. To prevent it from being lost or damaged it will exist astrally until it recharges. Then it will automatically reactivate and bring you back."
Aberforth looked at Harry and said, "Good luck. Don't let us down."
Harry nodded and said, "I won't. Activate the spell.
Then Harry Potter, The boy-who-lived, the Chosen One, disappeared.
Harry involuntarily blinked as he activated the Time-Turner. It was an automatic reaction to the anticipated results of the activation. Harry did not feel anything with the activation, so he opened his eyes to see what had gone wrong. He found that Aberforth and the Shack were gone.
Harry was standing in a familiar field with the rooftops of Hogsmeade visible over the nearby trees. Harry looked around carefully, but did not see anyone nearby. Harry started to make his way to the village of Hogsmeade.
Harry found that the village of Hogsmeade had not changed much over the last fifty years on the main street. The Three Broom Sticks looked the same. A couple of the smaller shops were different but nothing much else was different. Off the main street, a fair amount of construction was underway. A number of new houses (old to Harry) were being built. Harry did a quick tour through the village and then walked into the Three Broomsticks.
The décor of the Broomsticks had changed somewhat to Harry. It seemed quant and old-fashioned. Harry figured he would get used to the changes in due time. Harry approached the bar where an old wizard was reading The Daily Prophet.
"Good morning, sir," the barkeep welcomed Harry. "May I get you something on this fine afternoon?"
Harry ordered a light lunch and inquired about a copy of today's Prophet. The barkeep handed a copy of the wizarding paper to Harry and invited Harry to sit at the bar as his lunch was prepared.
Harry sat down and opened the paper. Harry was glad he sat down when he saw the date on the front page of the paper. It was June 16, 1934! Harry missed his target date by seven years! Somewhere in London was a seven-year-old future Dark Lord. Things had just become much more complicated for Harry.
The Prophet contained an unusually high mix of Muggle news. The paper was covered quite a bit about activities going on in Germany. As Harry read on he had to fight to contain a groan. Hermione would have smacked him for coming here without doing the proper research first! The Nazi party was in control of Germany now and if Harry remembered his long-ago Muggle history lessons then the build up to World War II would be starting in the next couple of years with the war starting in September 1939. Harry just ended up back in the time preceding the Second World War and he would have to live through it!
Harry now realized why the Prophet was reporting on the tensions mounting between Britain and Germany. The Dark Lord Grindelward was a major ally of Hitler. Hitler was fascinated by magic. Grindelward used the Nazi leader as his dupe to attack his magical opponents. The Diagon Alley was a targeted bombing area of London during the Battle of Britain.
Harry started a small conversation with the barkeep. Harry told the barkeep, named Allen, that he lived in London and was looking to move out away from the city. The barkeep mentioned that the new houses were being sold out of a small reality office down the street. Harry said he would consider it and finished his lunch.
Harry walked out of the Three Broomsticks and looked up towards Hogwarts. This area had been Harry's true home since he was eleven. If Harry was stuck here for the next 10 to 12 years, this was a better place then most to make his home.
Harry walked through the new houses. Since Harry know knew it was a Saturday and no work would be going on. Harry looked around the new construction and was amazed at the methods of magic being used. Almost all of the magic Harry knew dealt with DADA or being an Auror. These house built by magic seemed more like they were grown then built.
Harry heard footsteps approaching from behind and controlled his instinct to go into a defensive stance. "May I help you, sir?" a light toned, woman's voice asked.
Harry turned around casually and received another shock of the day. Standing there was Ginny! Harry's heart stopped.
"Are you okay, sir? Are you interested in buying a house?"
Harry shut his jaw and realized this was not Ginny. Although the woman looked a great deal like Ginny, this was not her. Harry guessed the witch was twenty-five or so. Short, like Ginny, the witch had strawberry blonde hair, not the Weasley red.
"I am sorry," Harry stammered. "I thought you were someone else for I moment. Excuse me. I am James Evans and yes I am interested in buying one of these houses."
The young witch smiled. "It is nice to meet you, Mr. Evans. I am Anne Prewett."
Harry wondered if today could get any more screwed up. This was not Ginny standing in front of him, but Harry was willing to bet that it was her grandmother! Harry seemed to remember that Molly Weasley's maiden name was Prewett. Harry briefly wondered if someone out there was having fun making his life more complicated.
(A/N: Yes, as a matter of fact, I am!)
Noticing a wedding ring Harry replied, "I t nice to meet you also, Mrs. Prewett. Can you tell me about these houses?"
Harry spent the next two hours discussing the houses and the different options available. Harry found that Anne Prewitt reminded him very strongly of Molly Weasley. If she was not Molly's mother, then there was a very good chance she was a future aunt. She did not treat Harry like an eighteen year-old. Harry figured the haunted look in his eyes and the strain of the last several months added years to his appearance.
Harry told Anne his preplanned story about being raised in a small magical settlement in Australia. He figured this would help cover any questions about accent or modern slang that slipped out. Harry also alluded to time spent in some type of conflict. This would help with any issues with his weary appearance and dark moods.
Harry had to hold in a smile when the house prices were discussed. Harry was used to prices in the 1990's. Prices in the 1930's seemed incredibly low. Harry had withdrawn almost all of the Galleons from his family account. It was enough to live very comfortably in the 1990's for his entire life. At these prices, it was enough for several lifetimes.
Harry selected a pleasant four-bedroom cottage on the outskirts of the village. The house came with the most modern home charms (for the 1930's). Harry figured he could update the charms after he moved in and warded the house. Harry would also have to go shopping for clothing and furniture. He would take a trip to Diagon Alley in the morning to fill those needs.
Harry quickly finished his transaction to purchase the house. Mrs. Prewitt efficiently handled her paperwork. Since Harry did not yet have a vault he would have to visit Gringotts in the morning to open a vault and transfer the Galleons to pay for the house. Saying good-bye to Mrs. Prewitt, Harry apparated to the Leaky Cauldron to rent a room for the night.
The next morning Harry ate breakfast in the Leaky Caldron. It seemed odd to Harry that Tom the Barkeep was not in the taproom. Harry smirked at his own surprise when he realized that Tom was probably not even born yet. The pub was as dark and dingy as ever. Harry considered the fact it had not changed in fifty years.
After eating, Harry walked out into Diagon Alley. Harry gapped at the appearance of the alley. It was packed! Harry had never seen so many witches and wizards in one place before. There was an air of lightness and happiness Harry never felt before in the Alley. The constant Death Eater threat gave the Alley of Harry's time a grim mood. Looking at the number of people in the Alley, Harry also wondered how severely the deaths fighting the Dark Lords had depleted the English Wizarding gene pool.
Making his way to Gringotts, Harry waited in line to open a new vault. After standing in line for an hour, Harry reached the goblin.
"What do you want?" the goblin grunted.
"Good morning. My name is James Evans. I would like to do business with you to enrich both of us. May I ask your name, sir?"
The goblin's expression was shocked. The wizard's polite response was highly unusual. "Grintott is my name. What business would you like to conduct?"
"I would like to open a vault, Mr. Grintott. It will have to be one of your larger vaults."
The goblin's eyes again got bigger. A wealthy wizard was being polite?
"Please step into my office. We will conduct our business in privacy." The goblin hopped off the stool he stood on and led Harry into an office. Another goblin appeared at the desk to replace the departing Grintott.
Once seated in the office, Grintott asked, "How large a deposit will you be making?
"19,634,254 Galleons," Harry answered.
The goblin's face took on a gobsmacked expression. A completely unknown wizard wanted to deposit that much money? Who was this wizard, the goblin wondered.
Grintott summoned the paperwork and completed it in short order. Harry's only point of nervousness was when he was asked to provide five drops of blood for identification purposes. Harry knew his grandparents were alive now. It was a risk that his Potter blood would cause a problem.
Fortunately, it did not. If a Potter were to use their blood to search for a any vault they had access to, Harry would have to be dead first. Similarly, Harry could not access the Potter Family vault unless his grandparents and father were also dead. Since that would really mess with history, Harry did not want that to happen.
Harry was amazed then how quickly the rest of his transactions were completed. Within 30 minutes, the vault was setup, a transfer for the cottage was arranged and a spending account was set up. The goblins were extremely polite in their care of Harry. Harry made Grintott his account manager.
Harry taxed his spending account heavily during the rest of his trip through Diagon Alley. Furniture for the four bedrooms, the dining room, kitchen and living room were all purchased. Harry also bought all of the household goods he would need such as sheets, plates, and silverware. Harry figured if he was going to be stuck in this time for ten years, he might as well be comfortable.
Harry also visited Flourish and Botts for a collection of books for his study. Harry had a great many books in his trunk but some could not be displayed since they had not been published yet. Harry also bought a "new" broom and an owl. Harry knew he could not bring his Firebolt out of his trunk very often so he would need a different broom for everyday flying. Harry felt a particular pain replacing Hedwig. Harry's snowy white owl had been killed a week before Harry's final showdown with Voldemort. Draco Malfoy had not done this to draw Harry out, simply to cause pain to another creature.
With his purchases shrunk into bags, Harry returned to his new cottage in Hogsmeade. The cottage recognized the change in ownership and allowed his immediate access to the house. Harry placed his furniture in its appropriate place and enlarged all of it.
A few hours later, Harry collapsed onto his new couch. Even with magic, setting up a new house from scratch was very hard work. All of the furniture was in place and everything was in its place. Darkness had fallen outside. Hogsmeade was lit up in the very picture of domestic tranquility. The house itself seemed a bit cold. There were no pictures. No reminders of things from the past.
Harry sat on the couch and realized for the first time in his life he had a home off his own. This house and everything in it was his. No Death Eaters were looking for him. No one knew him as The-Boy-Who's-Name-Must-Be-Capitalized-and-Hyphenated. He was completely normal. He had everything he had ever wished for growing up.
Harry Potter felt his emotions clench. Tears built inside his eyes as an ache gripped his heart. Harry's wish had been granted. It only cost him his parents, Sirius, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Luna, the rest of the Weasleys and everyone else in his life that ever cared for Harry as a person and not a title.
Something inside Harry broke. Curling up into a fetal position, Harry cried. He cried for the deaths of everyone he had ever loved. Harry cried for the death of 85 of the student body of Hogwarts. Harry cried for the deaths of almost all of the members of the Order of the Phoenix and the Ministry's Auror Corps. In short, Harry cried for the death of his world.
Harry had suffered through grief after the final confrontation with Voldemort. Everywhere Harry looked, he was reminded of the price he paid for victory. However, here is the warm, snug cottage with normalcy all around him; Harry could not hold it anymore.
A lifetime's worth of pain released at once. The young man with the scarring of an eighty year-old man wept uncontrollably.
Outside a sudden storm shook the village of Hogsmeade. Thunder crashed overhead in an unpredicted storm that came out of nowhere. Many Hogwarts students ran for cover on the Astronomy tower as sudden gusts and strong rains swept the castle. The violence of the storm rattled the windows of the ancient school.
Sitting in his office, Transfiguration Professor Albus Dumbledore watched the storm outside his window. Already seen as the most powerful wizard seen in several generations, Dumbledore could feel the magic flowing through the storm. The professor leaned back in his chair to consider the implications of the storm outside.
After an eternity of tears and pain, Harry passed into unconsciousness. With his sleep, the storm passed also. Emotionally and physically exhausted, Harry slept without dreams for the first time in a long time. It would be over thirty-six hours before he would wake again.
Harry decided to start searching Muggle London the following week. Harry spent four days allowing himself to recover from the incredible release of emotions his first night in his house. Harry forced himself up the first afternoon after waking up to take a shower and change into his new period clothes. Then he collapsed onto his bed for the remainder of the day.
The next couple of days were made with baby steps. Harry started taking small walks through Hogsmeade and shopping in the stores. Harry purchased a variety of small objects to brighten up his home. Many of the shop keeps wondered about the quiet dark haired wizard shopping alone with a sad smile on his face.
The truth was, Harry did not feel alone. As he shopped, he heard the ghost voices of Ginny, Ron and Hermione accompanying him. He heard Ginny getting excited over cute ornaments and decorations. He heard Hermione exhorting him to go by more books to study up on the time he now found himself. Ron wanted to look at the Quidditch supplies and the "antiques" they offered for sale in Quality Quidditch Supplies.
So the quiet wizard with the sad smile was not really alone. When you have friends that you have laughed and fought with, who loved you and died for you, you are never really ever alone again.
Harry started his search on Monday morning. Harry knew that Tom Riddle was left in a Muggle orphanage in London at his birth. The future Dark Lord was know around seven years old. Although Harry did not like the idea, his mission had not changed. Kill the Dark Lord before he could begin his assent into power.
Harry found there were sixteen orphanages in London. Since Dumbledore collected the Horcrux stored in the orphanage alone, Harry did not really know which orphanage Riddle would be found at. So Harry resigned himself to searching them all. Time was not really a concern. He would still be stuck in this time for years.
Three days of searching and Harry still had not found any sign of Riddle. Harry was amazed about the number of orphanages and the amount of children each one held. Each one was bigger the Hogwarts with a much smaller staff and budget.
Harry stopped in a small pub for fish and chips. He planned to visit two more orphanages that are possible candidates this afternoon. Harry wanted to get this task out of the way and then spend the next ten or so years in a quiet life.
Leaving the pub, Harry passed an alley and noticed a number of boys gathered towards the other end. They were cheering and excited about something. They were calling out taunts at someone that Harry could not see.
Flashbacks to Dudley and his gang or Slytherins came to Harry's mind. A bad feeling went though Harry as a strong suspicion ran through his head. Hermione called it Harry's "Saving People Thing". Harry was constitutionally incapable of turning his back on someone he saw in need.
Harry turned down the alley until he was just behind the boys. Harry could see two teenage boys kicking something on the ground to the cheers of the others.
"What is going on here?" Harry yelled.
The boys parted and one of the kickers yelled back, "This doesn't concern you. Go away!"
Harry could now see a young boy curled up on the ground. He looked at the speaker and quietly but firmly said, "I am taking the boy with me."
"No way! He is a freak! We are going to teach him a lesson!" At these words of defiance, the surrounding boys joined in jeering at Harry.
The word freak galvanized Harry and raised his anger. His anger caused his magic to spill into his eyes. "I will take the boy with me. Now leave this alley."
The quiet words carried the threat, no, the promise of swift and painful retribution if he were ignored. Without really understanding why, the boys started to melt away out of the alley.
Harry walked over to the battered form on the ground. Pulling out a kerchief to wipe the blood away, Harry spoke in quiet, comforting tones.
"Relax, no one else is going to hurt you. You are safe."
A small voice gasped back with a sob, "They always hurt me. They will until I am able to hurt them back. I will show them!"
"Well, they won't hurt you anymore today. Let me check you out. Just relax."
Harry did a brief examination of the boy as Madam Pomfrey had taught him and realized the boy probably had a dislocated shoulder and possibly two broken ribs.
"We need to get you to a hospital. I am going to lift you up carefully and take you there. Can you tell me your name?
The little boy looked up at Harry for the first time. Green eyes met brown as the boy said, "My name is Tommy Riddle."
"My name is Tommy Riddle."
Harry's world rocked with those simple words. Could this beaten young boy be the future Dark Lord and mass murderer? How simple would it be to kill the boy now and complete his mission? So many deaths would be prevented by killing this one little boy. Would it be right to kill this boy?
It was so simple sitting in the Shrieking Shack and discussing killing the infant Riddle. It was so impersonal, so theoretical. Kill one innocent baby. Perform one evil act to prevent thousands. Morally, Harry felt the pull of what was right in both directions.
Lord Voldemort was responsible for the deaths of thousands, including Harry's parents, Ginny, Ron, Hermione, the rest of the Weasleys and Sirius. Tom Riddle killed several people before he even left Hogwarts. Yet, Tommy Riddle had not killed anyone.
Harry subtly drew his wand. "Close your eyes." Harry placed his left hand over the boy's eyes. Then he cast, "Legilems"
Harry viewed the images from Tommy's mind. Tommy had been singled out at an early age as a "freak". Harry watched a memory of a young boy talking to a small garden snake. Older boys teased the young boy and one boy stepped on the snake's head to kill it in front of the small boy. Tommy's tears only spurred them on.
Harry pulled back and observed Tommy's magical core. As a seven year-old, it only appeared the size of a golf ball. Voldemort's seemed to be the size of a beach ball. Voldemort's core seemed to be made of black tar, dark and rough. Tommy's core seemed pure. A few streaks of darkness marked the trauma of the abuse, but it seemed to only be on the surface.
Tommy Riddle was not infected by the insanity Voldemort exhibited during both of his wars against the wizarding and Muggle worlds.
Harry considered what this meant. Removed from the beatings and teasing of the orphanage, would Tommy Riddle develop into a responsible, caring individual? Or would the madness raise up on its own as he aged?
Harry thought about the memories Dumbledore showed him during his Sixth year. The interbreeding of previous generations caused his grandfather and uncle to behave in bizarre fashions. Convinced of their superiority due to descent from Slytherin, the Gaunt family lost touch with reality. His mother did not seem to be entirely sane either. Was her use of a love potion on Tom Riddle, Sr. a sign of insanity or total desperation to escape the house of her family? Was their insanity inherited or reinforced by their beliefs?
Harry started to get a headache. Hermione would be able to spout a dozen different psychological theories and research. Harry realized he did not have a clue. Harry's expertise had always been on the practical, not the theoretical side of knowledge.
Harry decided that he did not have enough information at this point to make a proper decision. He could not kill an innocent boy when it may not be necessary. If Harry moved Tommy Riddle to another environment, would his life's path change? Harry needed time to think. A decision could not be made now.
Harry removed his hand and then lifted the boy in his arms. "Relax, Tommy. I will get you fixed up in no time."
A quiet pop sounded in the alley. The two people in the alley had disappeared. Five minutes later, ten boys from the orphanage returned after building up their courage. They really did not understand by they had left their game of Tommy-Taunting behind because of a strange boy. To their surprise, the alley was empty. They looked at each other and wondered the same thought. 'No one came out of the alley, so where did they go?'
Harry and Tommy appeared with a quiet pop in the Apparation Zone in St. Mungo's Hospital. Harry gently set the boy down on a nearby gurney. A medi-witch approached quickly.
"What happened to this boy?"
"I found a bunch of boys beating him up in London. I scared them off and brought him here."
The witch started to scan the boy with her wand. While she was doing that, she asked, "Are you his father? What was he doing wandering around Muggle London on his own?"
Harry shook his head but kept watching. "I am not his father. I stumbled on the scene. I believe he lives in a Muggle orphanage in the area."
"Hmm, he seems to have two cracked ribs, one broken one, and a slight concussion. He is lucky you came along. I will call some orderlies to carry him into the treatment room."
Harry pulled out his wand. "If you would allow me." Harry cast the Levitation Charm and guided the gurney into the treatment room. The medi-witch's eyes grew large at Harry's casual display.
Once in the treatment room, the medi-witch gently woke the boy. "Drink this potion, dear. It will help with the pain."
Tommy slowly raised his head to drink the offered potion. From the expression on his face, he felt about healing potion's taste the same way Harry did. Harry watched as the medi-witch performed a more thorough examination on Tommy. Tommy lay with his eyes closed, ignoring her efforts.
Harry noticed that the medi-witch was not much older then he was. 'She must have just graduated,' Harry thought. Harry also noticed that she was a very attractive woman. Standing around five and a half feet tall she had long blond hair that was up in a bun. While that bun was very functional, it was styled in a alluring way. It was the first time Harry had noticed a woman since Ginny's death.
After Tommy fell back to sleep, the medi-witch turned to Harry. "We will need you to stay around for a bit to answer some questions. Do you know his name?"
Harry sighed internally. He really did not want to be officially noticed by the Ministry. "He told me his name is Tommy Riddle. My name is James Evans."
"It is nice to meet you Mr. Evans. I am Sarah Underhill." She picked up a clipboard and started filling out forms.
"Do you know who his parents are and how to contact them?"
'Yes,' thought Harry. "No, I believe at least his mother is dead. As I said, I just happened onto the scene."
The young witch looked at Harry over his clipboard. "Where are you from, Mr. Evans?"
Harry gave his cover story about just arriving in England. "I recently purchased a cottage in Hogsmeade."
The medi-witch finished filling out her form. She cast a charm on Tommy, then turned back to her clipboard with a sigh. "He is a half-blood."
"Is that a problem?" Harry asked in a neutral tone.
His tone must not have been neutral enough. The medi-witch raised her eyes to look at Harry. "Not to me. However, if he was a pureblood it we could track down family members. Also the Ministry will not pay for his treatment. I don't know how he will be able to pay his bill."
"Only purebloods get free service?" Harry asked. Harry felt his anger rising at the witch's nod. Was it the same in his own time? He had never been billed but was that because of his Chosen One status?
"Place my name down to pay for his treatment. I brought him in. Coming here was not his decision. He would have gone to a Muggle hospital. I don't believe he knows about magic right now."
The medi-witch looked at Harry with surprise in her eyes. (Harry noticed she had beautiful blue eyes.) "Do you realize that means you have just made yourself his magical guardian?"
Harry felt his jaw drop. "I am his what?"
"His magical guardian. You brought a Muggle-raised child into the magical world. Since he has no parents in our world, you just legally accepted responsibility for his magical well-being."
'Bugger me,' Harry thought. This was getting too complex. First he saves the future Voldemort from a beating at the hands of his fellow orphans. Now he just accidentally made himself Riddle's guardian!
"What does that mean?" Harry asked.
"You accept responsibility for his magical education and behavior until he is seventeen. Didn't you know?"
"No, I didn't."
Harry sat back in his chair and thought about the situation he found himself in. Being Tommy Riddle's guardian would enable him to observe the boy for any signs of the Darkness that led to Voldemort. If Harry did see any signs it would allow him to act without interference from anyone.
Harry looked up at the beautiful medi-witch that was watching him. "I guess I will have to stick around then and wait until he wakes up. Merlin knows how he is going to respond to all of this!"
The young witch smiled at Harry. "I think you are doing a good thing, Mr. Evans."
Harry really enjoyed her smile.
Harry looked up from the Daily Prophet and noticed that Tommy was waking up. Setting his paper aside, Harry steeled himself and walked over to the bed. "Good afternoon, Tommy. How are you feeling?"
The boy looked at Harry with a guarded expression. "I am fine, sir. Where am I?"
"Do you remember what happened to you?" Harry asked, avoiding Tommy's question.
Tommy nodded, "Charles and his gang caught me. They hurt me."
"Were you doing something wrong?"
Tommy looked down with downcast eyes. "I stole some food, sir."
Harry said, "Look at me, Tommy." Tommy looked up. "Why did you steal the food?"
"Because they locked me in a closet for a day! I was really hungry! I know I broke the rules! I am sorry! Please don't punish me!"
This hurt Harry. Flashbacks to his own childhood with the Dursleys came unbidden to his mind. Harry crouched down to be eyelevel with the seven year-old. "No one is going to punish you, Tommy. You are in a hospital. I brought you here because you were hurt."
Tommy looked at Harry in surprise. "You saved me?"
Harry nodded. Tommy's innocent expression of surprise that an adult would take his side was painful to see.
"Tommy, I need to tell you some things that will surprise you. Do you believe in magic?"
"No, sir. They don't let us read that stuff in the orphanage."
"Tommy, I want to tell you that magic is real. Some people can use it to do wondrous things. These people are wizards and witches. This is a hospital for magical people. You and I are part of that."
Tommy's face got suspicious. "Are you telling me the truth?"
Harry realized that was almost the same question that 11 year-old Tom Riddle asked Dumbledore, but without the magical push behind it.
"Yes, Tommy, I am. Have you ever had something weird happen that you couldn't explain?"
Tommy nodded. "I can talk to snakes. The others don't like that. They call me 'freak'".
Harry smiled, "I can talk to snakes also. It is called Parseltongue. Not many wizards have that ability. When I was a little boy, my cousin was chasing me. He was a bully. I suddenly found myself standing on the roof of my school."
Tommy giggled at the image. "Can you show me some magic?"
Harry pulled out his wand and pointed it at Tommy. Harry cast a Levitation Charm and lifted the shocked seven-year-old over the bed. Harry smiled at the expression on his face.
"I can do that?" he asked after Harry set him back into the bed.
"Yes, after going to a special school for magic."
"Wow, that would be neat! How do I go to the school?"
Harry sat down and explained to Tommy about going to Hogwarts after he turned eleven and that Harry was now his magical guardian. Tommy seemed shocked that Harry was responsible for him.
"No one ever cared about me. My mother left me by dying when I was born. I don't know who my father was. Why do you care?"
"Magical law says that since I brought you into our world, I am responsible for you. Normally you would have been informed when you were accepted into Hogwarts. As an orphan, the headmaster would have been your magical guardian."
Tommy sat and quietly considered all that he had been told. After several minutes he asked, "Would I live with you?"
Harry felt a bit sick at that question. His soul was torn. His head saw the future Dark Lord but his heart heard the same cry he made to Sirius. Harry asked, "Would you want to? You can still stay at the orphanage."
Tommy looked at Harry with an expression of hatred. "I hate that place! They are mean! I hate them!"
Harry felt Tommy's magic flexing with his surge of emotions. Harry made a quick decision. "Relax, Tommy. I won't make you go back there. You can live with me."
Tommy's face lit up with relief over the news he would not be going back to the orphanage. Tommy started firing a barrage of questions at Harry about where he lived and what it was like to use magic. Although Harry still felt concern over the fate of the boy, for right now, he knew he had made the right choice.