Harry Potter and all characters, etc. belong to J.K. Rowling, not me.
The Time Meddlers
This story begins with a different version of Deathly Hallows where everything went wrong. It contains spoilers from that book, and if you haven't read it, you'll probably be confused during the prologue, but it shouldn't be necessary to have read it to understand the rest of this story. Much of this prologue is summary, although during the course of this story I may do flashbacks of the scenes that I'm only skimming over here. The main story begins after this.
"Hagrid?" Harry desperately pleaded as he struggled out of the debris caused by the crash of Sirius' old bike. He'd been leaving the Dursleys for the last time using a strategy of six Polyjuiced doubles of himself traveling with different guards. Harry's guard was Hagrid, and they'd crash-landed. Hedwig had already been killed in transit, hit by a stray Killing Curse. The Boy-Who-Lived was bleeding from his head as he walked out of the muddy water toward the large figure lying on the ground.
Harry had to swallow down the bile that was rising in his throat at the horrid sight that greeted him. The bloody form of his first friend was sprawled out on the grass with a large, sharp piece of wood sticking out of his chest. He'd been impaled when he landed on the wrong spot – right on top of an old wooden fence.
"Ha…rry," the dying half-giant struggled to say as tears began forming in the Chosen One's eyes.
"I'm here," Harry managed to say while kneeling beside Rubeus. He was blinking rapidly to avoid crying.
"I'm…sorry I couldn' carry ye all the way." Hagrid's eyes went dark as his body went limp.
"No! Hagrid!" shouted Harry as tears began falling down his cheeks.
The nearly-seventeen-year-old boy blinked and found himself just outside the Burrow with Hermione, Remus and Ginny. Suddenly, a broom materialized above them and streaked toward the ground. Tonks landed in a long skid that sent earth and pebbles everywhere, but the other passenger of the portkey, a tall, young man with red hair, fell flat on his face.
"Ron!" shouted Hermione and Ginny as they ran toward the limp figure. Harry was watching in shock.
"I'm so sorry," said Tonks, who Harry noticed was crying. "Bellatrix got him with a killing curse, and I couldn't leave his body behind.
Hermione started trembling and fell to her knees. As Harry walked toward her, he felt tears beginning to drop from his eyes yet again on this horrible night. He knelt between Hermione and Ginny, putting an arm around each girl's shoulder, as they mourned together for yet another loss on this awful day.
Harry blinked again and found himself standing with Hermione and Neville as a bright white weasel speaking in Arthur Weasley's voice informed them of Charlie's death.
The images kept coming faster and faster, making Harry relive the worst moments of the past year as he slept.
He saw Umbridge, who he'd stunned earlier, Avada Kedavra Arthur Weasley from behind on the day Harry, Neville and Hermione broke into the Ministry to steal a Horcrux from Dolores. Harry had decided to free some muggle-borns that the former Grand Inquisitor had been interrogating. It was yet another death Harry could blame himself for. That was the day Harry learned that stunning his enemies only allowed them to kill more people. He Reducto'd Umbridge in the head, killing her while she was still celebrating Arthur's death.
Harry then found himself reading issues of the Daily Prophet that Hermione had managed to acquire at different points while they traveled the countryside. One described how the Weasleys were all slaughtered as blood-traitors; another said the same thing about the Lovegoods. When both Parvati Patil and Cho Chang were also killed, Harry realized that every girl he'd dated had been targeted and was now dead. That issue declared that all of the former staff of Hogwarts, with the exception of Snape – the new headmaster – had been murdered while trying to stop other students from being killed. Of course, the Prophet presented it as justice instead of the horrifying holocaust that it really was. Another issue said that Remus and his pregnant wife, Tonks, had also been killed, praising the Ministry for its battle against werewolves and their mates.
As his nightmare continued, he found himself in Malfoy Manor watching Neville kill Bellatrix Lestrange just before getting sectumsempra'd in the back by a terrified Draco Malfoy. Dobby, who came to rescue them, grabbed Harry, Hermione, and the dying Neville and apparated them out of his former home while being stabbed from behind by Lucius Malfoy, his former owner.
"Harry," a voice called the Boy-Who-Lived out of the dream world and into his living nightmare. "Harry!"
He opened his eyes to see the blurry image of his one companion through this whole ordeal. He had a hard time not crying as he remembered that the bushy-haired young woman was the only friend he had left in the world. She gently placed his glasses on his face so he could focus his eyes. As he gazed at her, he realized, not for the first time, that she was very beautiful. While mourning Neville's death, Harry and Hermione had grown closer and admitted to having romantic feelings for each other. At first, Harry had tried to deny his feelings to protect her, but she pointed out that she was already wanted dead for her association with him whether she enjoyed the benefits or not.
"Good morning, love," responded Harry with a small grin.
She smiled and gave him a small kiss before telling him that, "The potion is ready," with a serious expression.
His face took on a grim expression as he replied, "Very well. I guess today is the day."
They'd spent the past few months, when they weren't kissing, learning as much magic as possible. Harry, Hermione and Neville had started working on becoming Animagi shortly after they'd left the Burrow, but none had achieved a transformation until about a month after Neville died. Now, both Harry and Hermione could transform into an animal, for all the good it would do them. The potion that was finally ready, however, was what they believed was the only chance to win the war. It was a desperate measure, but these were desperate times.
While researching some books she had taken from Grimmauld Place while they were living there, Hermione came across a difficult potion that allowed you to send your mind and soul back in your own body a specific number of birthdays. One of its ingredient's amounts determined the number of birthdays to go back. They chose seven, so that Harry would arrive on 31 July, 1991, while Hermione would arrive a few months later on 19 September, 1991.
Once it's ingested, the traveler would have one hour to activate it. The only way to activate it would be to die. If it were not activated, the drinker would die anyway but not travel back in time. The same thing would happen if the potion wasn't made exactly right.
Harry and Hermione decided that this world would hardly be worth living in even if Voldemort was defeated. They decided that both of them would go back in time to change things, because neither wanted to be left alone in this world. The only way to know that it worked was that after the drinker's death, their body would disappear.
Hermione sighed. "Do you have the note ready?"
He nodded as he pulled a small roll of parchment from the end table beside him. After their escape from Malfoy manor, they'd been sleeping under the stars for a few days before they ran across an abandoned cabin. Hermione had managed to put it under the Fidelius Charm with Harry as the Secret-Keeper, which proved to them that nobody owned it. Her research had indicated that if someone rightfully owned property, then only that owner could perform the charm. However, if no one owned it, then anybody could hide it with that spell. The condition of the cabin indicated that no one had set foot in it for a hundred years. However, they had quickly managed to repair everything with magic, even fashioning their own bathroom that used spells instead of plumbing.
Hermione tied Harry's note to an owl they'd managed to catch while it was delivering a letter. They'd seen it flying with a note tied to its leg and Harry summoned it. Hermione had been angry about that until she saw that the note was a report on finding more mudbloods to round up. The note Harry had written simply said:
I just thought I'd let you know that I destroyed all your Horcruxes except Nagini.
Have a good day.
The idea behind this note was to get Riddle to think about where his Horcruxes were located and hope that Harry would be able to read his mind through their link to get that information before they went back in time.
About an hour after the owl was sent to Voldemort, Harry grabbed his scar as he sank to the floor in agony. Hermione watched helplessly as he cried out in pain. Finally, he spoke. "Killed the messenger who…gave the letter. Protect Nagini! Checking Gaunt house…for ring."
She watched him scream in agony just before saying, "Mad…ring gone! Checking cave for locket."
About fifty minutes later, Harry screamed as blood started dripping from his scar, "Gringotts or Hogwarts? Both secure. I'll have Rodolphus check his vault for me while I go to Hogwarts…Ahhhh scar hurts!"
"That's enough!" said Hermione as she pulled Harry into her arms. "Close your mind. We've learned enough. You were right about Bellatrix's vault, and we now know that the last one is in Hogwarts. That should be enough information."
He slowly opened his eyes and focused on Hermione. "You're right." He took a deep breath. "If…if something goes wrong, I want you to know that." He took a deep breath and looked her in the eyes. "I love you."
She smiled at him before saying, "I love you, too," and kissing him.
When they separated, Harry said, "All right. Do you have the injections ready?"
She grimly nodded. "Yes. Once we've swallowed the potions, we should be able to, to kill ourselves quickly and painlessly."
"Aside from the needle," he added.
She sighed. "Unavoidable."
She went to another room and came back with a tray containing two glasses of a foul-smelling, dark green liquid and two medical needles. After setting the tray down, she handed Harry one of the glasses and took the other for herself. "To second chances."
Harry grinned and tapped her glass with his. "To second chances." They both forced themselves to drink the entire contents in one gulp, because they knew they'd never get themselves to subject their taste buds to it again.
Hermione then took the two needles and handed one to her beloved. "Do you remember how to find a vein?"
He nodded before slowly stabbing the needle into his left forearm as she did the same. He winced but managed to keep a steady hand. "That wasn't so bad," he commented.
"Yeah," she replied.
He then emptied the poisonous contents of the needle and removed it. He looked up to see she'd done the same. The poison was very fast-acting and he could feel his vision fading as he became very sleepy. Harry pulled his love into an embrace and whispered in her ear, "I want to die in your arms, Hermione."
"Me, too," she replied. It was the last thing Harry heard before passing out. A moment later, Hermione fell forward as Harry disappeared. Exactly five seconds after that, she vanished.
Harry found himself lying face-down on the ground. After listening for a moment, he determined that he was completely alone, so he got up. After a minute, he realized he was naked, but wasn't concerned about that because he was alone. He also realized that he was still seventeen years old instead of eleven.
He suddenly heard a noise and felt embarrassed, wishing he was wearing clothing. He saw a white robe appear in front of him and grabbed it, quickly putting it on. He then followed the noise that sounded like a wounded animal until he heard a voice behind him.
"Harry?" He would recognize the voice of his beloved anywhere. The voice that had encouraged him to be the best person he could be for the past seven years sounded unsure.
He turned around to face her, noticing that she was wearing a similar robe to his. "Hermione, I'm glad you're here with me, but do you have any idea where here is?"
She looked down. "I, I wonder if something went wrong, but, but I saw you disappear. I…"
"I must admit that I am surprised that you both arrived in the manner in which you did," came a voice neither had heard for about a year. They turned to see Albus Dumbledore standing before them. He had a neutral expression on his face, and Harry noticed that both of his hands were uninjured.
"Are we dead?" asked Hermione. "Did the potion fail?"
Shaking his head, the aged wizard answered, "No, the potion did not fail, and you are not dead. However, we are at what could be regarded as a crossroads, where death and life can meet." He turned his attention to Harry. "You have inadvertently done a very good thing. You see, I had instructed Severus…"
"SNAPE!" growled Harry angrily. "He murdered you!"
"My dear boy, I'm afraid that you do not have all the relevant information."
"What?" he asked, confused, while Hermione looked like a light had turned on in her mind.
"It was part of your plan," she stated, and now Albus did smile. "But…how could you plan your own death?"
"To the well-organized mind, death is…"
"The next great adventure," completed Harry. "But…"
"In addition to delaying young Malfoy's career as a murderer, in hopes of preventing it, it also provided a merciful end to my own suffering." He paused for a moment before saying, "I was dying from the injury that destroyed my hand. It would've been extremely painful. That way I was able to…"
"Die with dignity," completed Hermione.
"Yes, Miss Granger." He turned back to Harry as the groaning of the other form grew louder. "As I was saying before we got side-tracked, Harry, Headmaster Snape was supposed to inform you that your scar contained a piece of Voldemort's soul…"
"A Horcrux?" asked Harry in fright. Hermione put her hand over her mouth in surprise.
"Yes," he nodded, "although I didn't tell Severus that's what it was. In any case, he was to tell you that you must allow yourself to die. If you did that, I believed that it would destroy the Horcrux, as it has." He gestured toward the hideous form that was still making noise. Harry began staring at it until Dumbledore cleared his throat. "I had planned for you to allow Voldemort to kill you. I believe that the fact that you share blood would allow you to live. However, you have found a different way to sacrifice your life and live. You will not have the Horcrux when you return to your younger body. That means you will not have a connection with Voldemort, nor will you speak Parseltongue."
"Small price to pay," muttered Harry. Hermione nodded in agreement.
The former headmaster's face became harsh. "I must say that I'm surprised that you, Miss Granger, would be part of this scheme. You know the laws of time travel; terrible things happen when time is meddled with. I wouldn't be surprised if you make things worse."
"How can they be?" asked Harry sarcastically. "Everyone we care about is dead."
Gravely, Albus replied, "I hope you do not find out the answer to that question."
"We know who follows Voldemort and where they are. We also know where the Horcruxes are. What could go wrong?" asked the Boy-Who-Lived.
"Now you've scared me, Harry," said Hermione nervously.
"I must say that I am disappointed, Harry, that you took a Slytherin's way out instead of facing Voldemort like a Gryffindor," stated Dumbledore sadly.
Harry's face hardened. "I'm not being a coward! Everyone's always let Riddle dictate the conditions of his fights. Now, I'm facing Voldemort on my terms – not his!"
Hermione added, "He's done too much damage already! Not just our loved ones – everyone's loved ones! There was no way to break into Gringotts or Hogwarts anyway!"
Suddenly, Harry realized something. "This was all according to your plan, wasn't it? You planned for both the Ministry and Hogwarts to fall without a fight. You could've told Scrimgeour the name of every Death Eater at the Ministry! Even if he didn't believe you, the Order members who worked at the Ministry could've exposed or even killed them! Instead, you set him up to die!" Dumbledore looked down, unable to face Harry. "You could've sent notes to every parent not to send their kids to Hogwarts before you died, or had McGonagall do it afterward, but instead you did nothing!"
"I had hoped that Severus would've been able to prevent the deaths…"
"So, that was your great plan? To have Snape as headmaster to make sure students were only tortured and taught to be Death Eaters instead of killed!"
Still, unable to face Harry, Albus admitted, "I suppose that it does sound…"
"And while we're at it, why didn't you train me to fight, and to detect magical traps? You took an entire year to tell me something that would've only taken a few hours to explain!" He took a deep breath. "You knew you wouldn't be able to train me anymore after the year, but you chose to leave me not knowing how to fight Voldemort, hoping that my luck would hold. I can't believe…"
"Harry," interrupted Hermione gently as she put a hand on his shoulder. He began calming down immediately.
"I must say," said Albus, "that I'm glad that you found love, although I was surprised that it was with Miss Granger."
Harry calmly replied, "It took me until I had no one else left to realize how wonderful she is." He took a deep breath. "I'm sorry I yelled at you, sir. I'm sure you had your reasons."
"I did indeed," replied Dumbledore, "but I can see that I made several mistakes and you had the right to be angry. I almost wish that I could travel through time to take back some of my worst errors." Sighing, he continued, "I wish you both the best of luck with your time-meddling, and do hope that things work out for the best. Good day."
Harry blinked and suddenly heard something large pounding on a door. He looked around to see he was on the floor in a hut and Dudley Dursley was lying on a couch nearby with a terrified expression on his face.
Uncle Vernon came skidding into the room, holding a rifle in his hands. He swallowed and said in a soft, frightened voice, "Who's there? I warn you – I'm armed!"
There was a pause. Then – SMASH!
The door fell down to reveal an enormous man with a large beard who said in a friendly voice, "Sorry about that."