A/N: See below for note on the future of this story.
Chapter 1: Many Happy Returns
Dreams were not uncommon to the young Harry James Potter. They happened actually with great frequency, when of course he was able to sleep in his cupboard that is. It was simply the nature of his dreams that made him wince at times. Flying motorbikes and flashes of green light were not exactly the types of things that normal boys dreamtabout.
Of course, as his relatives made a habit of constantly reminding him, Harry Potter was far from a normal 10-year-old boy. They often punished him for his inferred "freakishness." Much of it Harry never really understood. He didn't know exactly what he must have done to deserve that kind of treatment, but it was the only kind of treatment he had ever known.
If nothing else the order of the world for Harry Potter was very much set in stone. Dudley was his superior. All the Dursley's were his superior, despite the fact that a small meek voice of self-confidence would tell him otherwise at times. It was Harry's job to cook, clean and essentially stay out of there way, eking out a meager existence in the process. It was a hard life, but it was the one that fate had dealt to him.
His parents had been killed in a car wreck when he was one, and he himself had received a rather odd looking scar in the shape of a lightning bolt on his forehead as a result of said wreck. Ever since that day he had been left to live with his Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon, and they made no question that his parents were worthless freeloaders who conspired with all sorts of unnatural things.
Whatever that meant.
Yes, the order of the world had very much set for him, laid out for him since that day he was left on the Dursley's doorstep. That is, until a week ago. That's when the letters...when the owls had started arriving. It had only been a few at first, and Harry had been so thrilled to actually receive a letter from...somewhere, that it had been a shot to his very soul seeing his Uncle Vernon dispose of them so heartlessly.
Of course the owls and the letters had not stopped, which is why Harry currently found himself asleep on some nameless Hut on a Rock in the middle of bloody nowhere. He didn't understand why he couldn't get the letter, why it couldn't hurt to actually read the letter. Everytime he had mentioned it he had been slapped across the face and told to go to his room.
Or whipped with the cane...that had come more often recently as well. In his sleep Harry could almost feel the welts on his back.
And so it was that Harry drifted off to a dreamless sleep, never minding the roaring winds and the deluge of rain falling from the sky outside. The last thoughts that coursed through his head were of a new life somewhere away from here.
/ - / - / - /
Harry awoke again, still stuck in this hut on the rock. He rubbed his eyes slightly, before placing his glasses back on his face. He blinked hard and tried to find his cousin Dudley's watch so he could see the time.
Only his cousin wasn't there.
In fact no one was in the hut save for Harry himself. Frantically the young boy glanced around, wondering what in the world had happened. He certainly wouldn't have put it past his relatives to abandon him somewhere, but the possible joy and elation of being rid of the Dursley's paled in comparison to the fear and uncertainty of being left alone. His eyes darted every which way with speed he didn't know they possessed. Finally they stopped dead center on a lone figure in the room, most of his face hidden by shadow. He wore a long black robe trimmed in crimson, with pale, gangly fingers sticking out from the sleeves. His boots were covered in mud and dirt, and his jeans were torn along the knees and fringes of the legs. From the glow of the fire Harry could tell he had long black hair that hung down quite a ways. Their was something oddly calm about him, and yet something that scared Harry to know end.
"It worked...it bloody worked." The voice was oddly familiar to Harry, but he couldn't quite place it. The man just sat there for a long time, never once looking back at Harry. As far as dreams went, Harry figured, this ranked amongst the strangest he had ever had.
As if he had suddenly become aware of his presence, the other figure turned his head slightly and gazed at the young Harry Potter. Harry couldn't tell but he thought the figure was...crying. His chin was now illuminated by the light, and Harry could have sworn he saw the signs of tears trickling down the lit part of his face.
"I don't suppose you've met Hagrid yet?" the figure asked, his voice equally stern and cooling. Harry simply shook his head, unable to say anything. "I figured as much." The figure leaned back on the small chair in which he was sitting, hiding his face from view again.
"Those letters you've gotten the last week? Those are from a place called Hogwarts. It's a school...for witches and wizards. You're magical Harry, you're a very special person." Harry's jaw dropped. Special and magical were never words used to describe him. Freak of Nature. Unnatural. Ungrateful little whelp. That was Harry Potter. Besides, as his Uncle Vernon would so quickly point out, magic wasn't real.
"It very much is real," the figure said, never wavering in his voice. Harry again held his jaw firmly at length from the ground. "How else could your hair grow back overnight? Or how else could you make that glass disappear at the zoo?" Harry's eyes went wide. How did this guy know all of that?
"Anyway, at Hogwarts you're going to meet a lot of great people. People you'll be friends with for years. Hagrid is just the first. When you wake up he'll be here to greet you I'd imagine." The figure paused before continuing. "But things won't always be great...the man who killed your parents will come back. You'll have to beat him, and everyone you care about is going to die." Harry's features quickly dimmed. He didn't have a clue what was going on, and this apocalyptic soothsayer was freaking him out majorly.
"Wh---Who are you?" Harry managed to squeak out, ignoring the man's other comments. The man seemed to chuckle and leaned forward to the light. Harry's young emerald eyes stared directly into the piercing emerald gaze of the man, who currently had his hand holding his bangs up, showing a lightning bolt shaped scar on his forehead.
Exactly where Harry's was.
Harry's mouth widened a little as his mind slowly came to its conclusion. He pointed at the figure and tried to say something, but his voice betrayed him. "But...why don't you have glasses?"
"A potion I took," the figure replied matter of factly. "They haven't discovered it yet but in my time...look that's not important right now. What's important is that you listen very carefully to what I have to say." Harry nodded, and the man let out an audible sigh, muttering to himself about having to do things the hard way.
"Your parents...our parents...weren't killed in a car wreck like those asshole Dursley's told you. They died, protecting us, from a wizard named Voldemort. Hagrid will tell you all of this and..." he paused a moment before he seemed to remember something. Standing up he walked over to Harry and leaned forward, his hardened face pressing closer to its younger version.
"I know this all seems to much to believe. But it's all true. You don't know how much this is going to change your life for the better. But like I said it won't be easy. Which is in part why I'm here. After a long and bloody war I finally beat Voldemort. But at too high a cost. So I used an artifact to travel back in time and try again. Try and do better this time." He paused, the crackling fire casting sparkling images in his otherwise lifeless eyes.
Harry contemplated everything for a long time. He wasn't so certain that this just wasn't one of his insane dreams that he'd gotten used to, but part of him, maybe just a small desperate part of him wanted to believe him. Perhaps it was just the notion of a ten year old soul that was amazed that anyone in the world would actually care about him that spurred his courage outward. Harry turned to face the man eye to eye.
"You say that you want to protect these people---the ones that care about me." The figure nodded slightly, obviously emotional.
"No one has ever loved me," Harry confessed, his own tears rapidly approaching his face.
"I know that," the figure replied, placing a phantasmal hand on Harry's face. "But there are going to be so many people who care about you there that you aren't going to know what to do with yourself." Harry decided then and there.
"I want to help you. Protect them that is." The figure looked up, a wry smile on his face.
"Our minds are going to merge," he finally confessed, causing Harry to go a bit limp. "Our magical cores our...spirits I guess you'd call it. When it's done you'll have all my memories...the pleasant and the not so pleasant." Harry thought it over a bit more and, somewhat recklessly, nodded his head. A cold wind blew through the dream world, signaling to Harry that soon he would be awake. "Thank you." The figure replied, before promptly vanishing into thin air.
/ - / - / - /
Harry awoke with a start, his entire body feeling over-energized and ready to leap out at the nearest thing around him. His eyes darted across the sandy floor, trying to adjust to the light as everything was still fuzzy.When his vision didn't clear up after a few seconds, he paused and saw a pair of glasses sitting on the floor. Idly he picked them up and placed them on his face. The world quickly came into clear focus. Harry blinked a few times, trying to gain some semblance of his surroundings. His whole being felt alive, charged with some unseen force of power that threatened to explode at the slightest jostling. As he finally became aware of everything, his eyes flew wide and he quickly sat up, only to be greeted by a searing pain in his back.
"Oh...yeah...forgot about that..." he winced as he held his back in pain. Apparently Vernon had given the cane some usage earlier that night. Sitting in a more comfortable position again, Harry frowned slightly at his changed perception on everything. After having been an adult just, what seemed to Harry anyway, a few hours ago, everything seemed much more larger and intimidating. He tried to keep quiet as best he could, lest he wake up Vernon. Given his own current physical condition, and his own lack of any kind of magical device, it wouldn't do to anger the man at this very moment. As he realized that he didn't have his wand with him, Harry felt a cold shiver run down his spine. Not having your wand meant vulnerability. It meant being open to attack. Harry had to calm himself down, he kept reminding himself that this was a different time. Death Eaters weren't roaming around freely. There would be no muggle squadrons searching out every nook and cranny for any witch or wizard. Still, he felt uneasy and he kept his eyes and ears open for any sudden noise. He glanced over at his sleeping cousin and noticed the time on his watch. 11:45 PM. He had actually gone back a bit further than he would have liked, but all things considered he was just glad it had worked.
'Now,' Harry asked himself. 'What next?' He knew Hagrid would be showing up in about fifteen minutes time and that didn't leave him much time to work things out. The biggest question and indeed the most pressing question in his mind was...causality.
Harry didn't greatly understand the concept, but he knew enough to understand that any changes he would make would affect how things turned out in this timeline. According to Seamus he hadn't actually traveled back into history, but rather traveled to this particular point in time in a parallel universe. As he thought back he still had all of the memories of his previous life. He knew what was to come if he didn't change things. However if he did...how much would those future memories really be altered? How long would it be before he was guessing along with everyone else?
Furthermore he couldn't showcase a huge amount of foreknowledge to the wrong people. Remembering that Fudge was still in charge at this point in time, Harry quickly surmised that if the Ministry got word that he had knowledge of the future, he'd be locked up in the Department of Mysteries and would never see the light of day again.
Something that Seamus had said also resounded in his head. His magical core had traveled back with him, apparently. Remembering as best he could, that probably meant that his magic was liable to be twice as powerful in this time as it was in the last time. Of course he couldn't test out that theory at the present moment, at least not until he got to Hogwarts. One thing he could guarantee that, as long as his memories of his previous time weren't affected, then he'd have knowledge and experience with magic that would give him a leg up on anything that might come towards him, foreseen or otherwise.
Entering into the equation as well was the question of fate. Were some things simply destined to happen? Being that he was the subject of a prophecy and had born witness to a few others in his time, Harry did not take the concept of fate lightly. In the end, Harry decided that relying too much on his foreknowledge would be potentially suicidal. If he acted in anticipation of every event as it had happened before, he could miss a potentially fatal change in the course of events. That temptation could easily be eliminated with the effect of throwing himself into the deep end of the pool by making a total change right from the get go.
His aching back gave him a good idea as to what that change might be.
He glanced up at the watch on his cousin's wrist quickly. It was 11:58 PM. Just a couple more minutes until Hagrid arrived. He had a few ideas still gnawing at the back of his head that effectively cutting off one of his biggest advantages was insane beyond belief. He kept quashing that part of him down however, that is until his revery was disturbed by a large knock on the door. He immediately heard his relatives wake up, and could hear his uncle Vernon grab the shotgun from his side of the bed upstairs. For his part Harry simply stood up, and did not hide away from the figure about to come through the door. There were several more loud bangs, before the old wooden door gave way and collapsed onto the floor.
A/N: I've actually had this sitting in my filebox for sometime, but had been unable to think of a way to finish it. Suffice it to say, my biggest concern is how exactly will things change and how fast will they change. The history I laid out for Harry in the first chapter may not be the way things turn out...speaking in terms of ships. There's a lot of leeway when it deals with causality that needs to be addressed, and Harry simply coming back is going to dramatically alter the timeline via the Butterfly Effect, no matter how cautious he is. The only question is...how quickly will things unravel.
Suffice it to say I'll leave things here for now. Of my two quote "hiatus" fics this is the one most likely to be finished simply based on response alone. How things turn out in Deathly Hallows may determine how things turn out here, I don't know.