Destined to Repeat It by Bonehammer
"Those who cannot remember the past are destined to repeat it."
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and associated characters belong to their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: With the wealth of "redo" fics out there, it was just a matter of time before something like this happened. I was spurred from Viridian/Star'Kan's renowned story, "Nightmares of Future Past", and the timeline this Harry comes from is a tribute to his own idea – except that the Second Coming went to pot.
Acknowledgments: to my beta, Gryffinpuff, who tried to make this better; any errors left are my fault and not his. And to my alpha, Paolo, who puts up with me typing well into the night.
1. Wake Up Dead Man
"And so I sent some men to fight
And one came back at dead of night
Said he'd seen my enemy
Said he looked just like me…
…I'm not calling for a second chance
I'm screaming at the top of my voice
Give me reason, but don't give me choice
Cause I'll just make the same mistake again"
JAMES BLUNT, Same Mistake
The intruder appeared out of nowhere, a shadow among the shadows in the farthest, darkest corner, and scanned the surroundings with a wary look. The room was just as he knew it would be: in the background, a heap of broken toys that had once belonged to the privileged child, and signs of the impending departure in full view. The trunk already prepared for next day's departure lay at the bedfoot; the train ticket was underneath the sellotaped glasses and the cage, opened, empty, on top of the wardrobe. The window was ajar and a gentle draft was blowing the curtains – Hedwig must be out, hunting. A waning moon drowned the room in peaceful blue light and even the dust over the furniture looked like fallen snow.
A chill that had nothing to do with the late summer night ran along his naked spine and the newcomer moseyed forward, picking up clothes from the floor: a baggy, faded tee-shirt and a pair of threadbare blue jeans that had been turned up at least four times. They dangled to perfection from his scrawny frame; the diet at his last abode hadn't been any richer than at the Dursleys'.
His target, the source of all his troubles, was having a less than restful sleep in a bed too big for him: at times, a sudden movement would displace the bedsheets or a moan escape his lips. The intruder grimaced: this had been, after all, the room reserved for damaged goods, and the Boy Who Lived fitted that description perfectly.
Harry had been thrashing around for quite some time and was muttering something unintelligible, when the visitor checked the cracked alarm clock that Dudley had flung across the bedroom once and decided there was no point in dawdling any longer. He turned on the wobbling table lamp.
The sleeping Harry bolted up from the bed, at once reaching for the wand under his pillow. His hands came up empty, so he stared at the intruder, blinking like a startled owl, taking in the scar, the glasses, the messy hair…
…and panic filled his wide green eyes as realization dawned on him.
"No," he breathed, sitting upright. "It can't be."
"And yet, it is," Newcomer Harry whispered, holding high the holly and phoenix feather wand. "Either you keep quiet and listen to me, or I cast Morsmordre and every Auror on strength tonight Apparates to this room."
"Then we'd both be in trouble."
"No, you would. I'd just get back a minute earlier. You know how it works."
"Speak your piece, then," First Harry said flatly.
"All right," the newcomer said, lowering the wand somewhat. "Where do I even start?.. Ah, good news first: you're going to wipe the floor with Voldemort. Right after the Tournament. He'll never know what hit him, the old sod."
First Harry grinned. "I knew it. I have it all figured out, I'm not going to…"
"Yeah, yeah," the other butted in. "But then it's going to get to your head, success. Without Voldemort to worry about and a lot of spare time on your hands, you'll start thinking, what about all those wannabe Snatchers? What about those who were prepared to take the Dark Mark, but missed the train? You started dealing with them as well, but – surprise – they gave as good as they got, someone would stick up for them, and pretty soon it was all-out war, only it was in my name that people were cursing and burning and..."
Second Harry paused, his mouth dry, realizing he'd unconsciously switched to first person, which just… felt right. It was right; the memories of the war belonged to him, not to the boy huddling himself on the bed.
"I'd never... I won't let it be like this…"
"Yeah, I know. Just consider, how would I be here then, and why?"
"You wouldn't," First Harry conceded. "Then… how?…"
"By the time you – I – by the time we came round, some of our best friends had died. So we stepped in front of a Dementor, leaving behind an empty shell of a body and a full Pensieve. A smart witch and a reformed Death Eater put everything back together again… and here I am."
First Harry's raised his head; there was a feverish glint in his eyes. "But – now – now you've told me, see? This has changed everything."
The other one shook his head slowly, as if dealing with a stubborn child. "Nothing has changedyet. I'm still here, ain't I?... The- fuck!"
Without a warning, First Harry lunged at him headlong, and they went down in a tangle of elbows and knuckles. There was a hissed swear and a sharp intake of breath as he grabbed the other one's hand in a vicelike grip, trying to pry the wand out of his grasp.
It was a funny-looking brawl, and yet deadly, like a pair of starved poodles fighting over a bone. First Harry was small and undernourished; the other was small, undernourished and still giddy from having been stretched over twenty years' time in the wrong direction. He was soon lying on his back, with the weight of the other pinning him to the floor.
"Sorry, mate. Thank you for the heads up... but I can't risk you running around," First Harry apologized, pointing the reconquered wand at the other's chest.
"Forgot... we ever were... this desperate," the other wheezed.
"Nothing personal," First Harry replied. But even as he still leaned over his opponent, his head kept lolling forward and he couldn't keep a steady grip on the wand. His slack hand dropped the stick, he turned it with its palm up and saw the dark wood splinter, smaller than a rose thorn, embedded in the ball of his thumb.
"What have you done…?"
"Dart... frog poison," Second Harry said, as if through a lump in his throat.
"You, you swine, you little shit…"
"...I was supposed to do it while you were asleep but I just couldn't do it," Second Harry said in one breath. "I wanted to talk you out of it… could've gone either way if you just had listened!"
"But why... why would you...?"
"Wouldn't you? You hadn't screwed up yet, you didn't have to live with it!"
First Harry snorted. "It would change nothing..." he said, throwing second Harry's words back at him. "…after all you… are… still… here..." Breathing raggedly, he slid off the body of his opponent and onto the carpeted floor, as if in slow motion. His eyes went wide.
"...fucked up," he whispered.
"Sorry?" Second Harry said incongruously, unsure whether that had been a statement, an apology or an insult. But the other boy couldn't talk anymore.
Harry picked himself and cradled the limp body; and when his former self finally stopped breathing, he felt something inside him die as well. He thought of all the lives that were being saved, of the books spared from burning, of the hate that wouldn't breed; it didn't help. Harry inspired only pity, now he had rescued him from the inhuman messiah he would become, and damned himself along the way.
His eyes were itching and he squeezed them tight. Served him right for wanting to give his former self a chance: the decision had never been his to make.
He wrapped the body in the threadbare sheets, draped the burden around his shoulders, and went down to the kitchen as quietly as he could. The bundle weighed nothing, but he wasn't strong and the brief fight had drained him of his last reserves of energy. His destination was four miles away, he couldn't do any magic, and Uncle Vernon was snoring just two doors down. That was a pretty bleak situation, even for Harry Potter.
He left via the back garden. A large black dustbin bag covered the sheets and he looked like walking garbage himself in his oversized clothes. There was a good thing about Little Whinging: the neighbourhood was early to bed and early to rise and no one was bound to wander around at night and stumble onto an eleven-year old boy carrying a sack as heavy as he was. The streets were empty, and if Arabella Figg's cats saw him slogging off with his unusual luggage, they saw fit not to pass the word around.
Harry crouched among the tall reeds, catching his breath. It was really late: the waning moon was playing hide'n'seek behind the trees growing on the far bank of the reservoir.
The body at his feet, free of its drapings, was staring blindly at the sky as well. The situation called for something appropriate to be said, but he couldn't come up with anything.
Perhaps it was excessive, to feel as bad as he did. In a sense, he had not killed anyone, merely rescheduled his own suicide twenty years earlier. And there he was, Harry Potter indeed, packing a pulse and all, right? It was just… unsettling that the proof of the contrary lay right at his feet; it called for quite a bit of doublethink.
The thin body, weighed with a cast iron piggy bank in a pocket, a Grunnings multi-tool in the other and a heavy Clulite fastened to his wrist, slid below the surface as if diving of its own accord. Ripples marred the glasslike stillness of the reservoir as the corpus delicti vanished, and Harry shivered like he had been the one diving into the cool water. His hand went unconsciously to his neck, as if to tug at something that was threatening to choke him, but he stopped: that was yet to happen, maybe even not to happen at all, if he played his cards right.
And if he didn't, he, too, would disappear unceremoniously, replaced by another Harry that would make good on his own mistakes.
A nightmarish vision floated suddenly before his eyes: the reservoir filled with scrawny bodies, all alike, and barely covered by a few feet of water. His runaway imagination painted an endless line of time-travelling Harrys being disposed of, their corpses overflowing from the reservoir, flanking the course of the Hogwarts Express like a sandbag trench, stacked capital-high in the Room of Requirement, until their collective mass would cause the cliff under the castle to collapse and crumble into the lake…
He shook his head to get rid of that last disturbing image, and focused. He had tried to no avail to pass the burden onto his predecessor, now it was the time to grin and bear it. He wouldn't force another Harry Potter, another whole universe, to retread the same rut again because of his mistake.