Harry Potter and Doing it Right.
It had been a year since Voldemort had died in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, and peace had reigned since. It hadn't been a perfect peace by any means. The reconstructed Ministry had struggled to bring in the last of the Death Eaters, thanks mostly to those members who supported their aims rather than being fully fledge members.
People like Dolores Umbridge, Voldemort would never have had her in his inner circle, and yet their view point was very similar. Harry suspected if they had ever met face to face he would have killed her within five minutes just to shut her up. Harry wouldn't have disagreed with that decision.
Umbridge had of course tried to claim that she was under the Imperious Curse at her trial. It was an old defence, but a good one never the less. She had been charged with administering the Dementors kiss on no less than fourteen separate occasions, despite the fact that she had no authority to do so, even from the viciousness of Voldemort's regime.
It had therefore been one of Harry's greatest pleasures to be a late witness for the prosecution and destroy her defence, utterly. He had lied, and lied big time.
The Wizarding World knew all about Voldemort's Horcruxes. It was impossible to keep them a secret after Harry had shouted about them in the Great Hall in front of hundreds of witnesses. Harry explained to the courtroom how he and his friends had taken one from around her neck, and replaced it with a fake. A fake that she was still wearing in the courtroom and it didn't take much for the members of the court to understand that Voldemort would only let a trusted member of the Death Eaters inner circle look after one.
The sentence was quickly agreed on, and carried out within the hour. Justice was swift in the early days, and Umbridge had no friends to stand up for her. Harry was told afterwards that Umbridge was still screaming out her innocence until the overwhelming effect of the Dementors silenced her for good.
He found a perverse satisfaction that she had gone to her death knowing that she was actually innocent of the charge she had been convicted of. She was of course guilty of far worse.
Life for Harry though had continued, and some days were good. The good ones were days when Harry forgot to remember what the peace had cost. Most of the rest were bad days. The worse days always happened after a good one. These were caused by the extra guilty for having forgotten the cost the previous day and it sapped at Harry's soul sending him into a downward spiral.
He had been told repeatedly by everybody that these feeling would pass, but the what ifs kept coming back to haunt him, and they wouldn't let go. If he could go back in time he knew that he could do it better. He could save so many lives on both sides and eliminate the suffering of the survivors. He knew what had to be done now and how to do it, well at least mostly.
For three months he had even gone through every book in the forbidden section on Wizarding time travel, in the hopes of realising what had slowly become an uncontrollable obsession, but without any luck. He had just about given up on the whole idea when he was invited to attend the first anniversary celebration.
He had every intention of going, after all it wasn't just about him many others deserved recognition, and the dead needed remembering. Inevitably his first thoughts when he woke up that morning were of the long list of names of those who were unable to attend. Ginny immediately caught his mood. She had become exceedingly good at that over the past twelve months. Something he was more than grateful for. His mood swings must have made him unbearable at times, but she never complained or commented on them, even though she had grief of her own to deal with.
"You don't want to go do you?" she said quietly as they walked down to breakfast.
"No," he answered, "but I will anyway. It's what people will be expecting."
"Don't go then."
"Don't go Harry. You're your own person. If you don't want to go then why should you, attendance isn't compulsory. I'm sure plenty of people will feel the same way and won't come."
"Yeah but nothing, it's your life, do with it what you want, and I know I've said it before, but you owe nothing to anybody." He really didn't want to go and listen to the endless speeches, and then worst of all be awarded the Order of Merlin first class. It was to be the highlight of the celebrations, and all it did was send a shiver of horror down his spine.
"I don't want to abandon you. Never mind Hermione and Ron."
"They'd understand, and you know it, and I understand as well."
"I know you do. In fact I'm not sure I could have coped this year without you."
"Go, go right now. I tell everybody that you needed to get away." The idea of fleeing and being by himself was highly attractive. He was fed up with everybody's expectations, even the teachers. They had taught him for over seven years now, and seemed to think that he should be performing better in class, even though he had always been a mediocre Wizard with average grades in most subjects.
"You sure you'll be all right?" he said as they reached the top of the last flight of stairs.
"I'll be fine," she answered.
"Is that my sort of fine, or are you really fine?" Harry said. Harry had finally learned the lesson that the female species sometimes said things they didn't actual mean.
"I'm fine, now go. I'll be here when you get back, besides it'll be good for some of the stuff shirts to be ignored." Harry couldn't help himself and in full view of half the school he grabbed Ginny in a bear hug lifting her feet off the ground.
As he passed through the school doors he remembered that he hadn't had any breakfast and he might regret not having any later. He mental shrugged and picked up his pace so he could leave the school grounds before anybody tried to stop him or ask where he was going. It was only once he reached the School gates that he realised he had no idea where he was going.
Where did he want to go on a day like today? He would be recognised instantly within the Wizarding World, and although the fame thing had calmed down a lot over the past year he knew instinctively that wouldn't happen today. Today he was public property number one, and he hated that thought.
Without really thinking about it he apparated away landing by the sea shore. He knew he should have paid more attention to where he was going, but he luck was with him and he was fortune enough not to splinch himself. Breathing in deeply he filled his lungs with the invigorating sea air, and he felt his muscles and the tension he had been feeling eased.
It took him a moment to realise where he was until he turned round and saw Bill and Fleur's cottage. He knew that neither of them were here at the moment as Gringotts had sent them both on temporary assignment to Egypt. His successful break in of Gringotts had caused a few difficulties with the Goblins, along with Neville's apparent new ownership of Gryffindor's sword. Fortunately both their heroic status had managed to smooth things over. The Ministry's threat to remove all of its financial dealings from Gringotts had played its part as well.
As he looked around his eyes natural gravitated towards Dobby's grave. His subconscious had obviously decided that he should be here on this day. House Elf rights had hardly moved in the past year, it wasn't a very high priority considering the chaos that had followed the death of Voldemort, and Harry knew that Dobby's part in it wouldn't get the coverage it deserved, if any. Unless they let Hermione make a speech, of course.
His grave was looking unkempt, Bill and Fleur and been gone for just over two months and this years spring growth had been vigorous. The jar that Luna had used to place some sea lavender in was still there, but it was swamped by the course grass that had grown up around it, of the lavender there was sign. He would have to have a word with Neville about what would be suitable to plant here for the long term.
"I'm sorry Dobby," he found himself saying out loud, "I should have visited before now, after all I can't help feeling that you lost more than anybody else. To gain your freedom …"
"Was all he ever wanted," a voice said suddenly behind him. Harry was taken completely by surprise and turned to see his two oldest friends holding hands looking at him. There was something subtly different about both of them, but he couldn't quite work out what it was.
"What are you doing here," he exclaimed, "and how did you know where I was."
"You told us," Ron said with a big grin.
"No I didn't. I didn't even know I was coming here myself."
"You definitely told us Harry, in fact I remember your exact words, 'I went and visited Dobby's grave,'. Ron's grin was now so wide that it seemed to split his face in half.
"No I didn't. I haven't seen or spoken to anybody since I got here just a few minutes ago." The wide grin on Ron's face was irritating Harry for some reason.
"Stop teasing him Ron," Hermione said moving forward and giving Harry a hug that took him by surprise. It was the sort of hug that she only gave him when they had been parted for a long time. Staying with the Dursleys length of time, something he was never going to have to do again thankfully.
"Look will you tell me what's going on?" Harry asked knowing now that they were keeping something from him.
"We're not the Ron and Hermione you saw this morning," Hermione said.
"Well that really helps me understand what you're both on about."
"Now who's teasing him," Ron said playfully barging his shoulder into Hermione, knocking her off balance.
"Well I don't see why you should have all the fun, besides how often are we going to have a chance like this. I hope this is a once in a lifetime occurrence," she answered barging Ron back, but failing to move him.
"I'm just here for your entertainment am I," he said testily, "because if I am just leave me alone. That's why I came here you know, to be alone." Hermione's face fell, and Ron's grin vanished.
"I'm sorry Harry we didn't mean to upset you," Hermione said, "but you'll understand when we explain where we came from."
"You came from Hogwarts. I saw you only minutes ago."
"You haven't noticed anything different about us then?"
"Just that you seem to be more annoying than usually," Harry snapped back.
"I don't seem older at all?" Hermione asked ignoring what he had said. Harry looked at them both.
"Not really, but your hair is different, so is yours Ron," he said eventually a frown forming on his face.
"You don't think I'm older?" Hermione said smiling again.
"Don't be so vain Hermione, it doesn't suit you," Ron said. "Just spit it out, or Harry will hex us." Harry's hand had been wandering towards his wand but he withdrew it quietly. Harry hadn't been in the best of moods this morning and his two closest friends weren't making him any happier.
"Harry," Hermione started in what he recognised as her lecture tone, "if you could go back in time and do things differently, would you?"
"Yes," Harry said without hesitation. It was what he had been thinking every spare moment he had had for the last six months. "But there's no way that I can, so why are you bring this up. Only two weeks ago you said there was no way to go back further than a month, and even then there was only a slim chance that you could survive the trip."
"Two weeks ago by your reckoning I was right, but since then I've created a way, with a lot of help from Luna, so that you can go back a lot further. She really is quite brilliant, not very easy to work with, and she's quite impossible to follow sometimes with the way her thought processes work, but I could never have done it without her."
"Done what?" Harry said completely at his wits end.
"You can go back and do it right. If you want to," Hermione said her eyes alight with pleasure at her accomplishment.
"You've found how to go back in time by up to four years in just two weeks."
"No silly not two weeks. It's taken us two years," Hermione said rolling her eyes at Harry's obvious stupidity.
"We're back from the future Harry. Like in that film," Ron said.
"What film?" Harry said never having seen any, and then the rest of what Ron had said sunk in. "You're both from the future," he added his mouth hanging open. It had been something he had been dreaming of for months, but the reality of it still managed to take his breath away and he found himself kneeing on the ground in shock.
"Are you ok Harry?" Hermione asked suddenly looking concerned.
"Yeah, you've just taken me by surprise that's all. You're serious about this? You haven't just taken a mild aging potion or anything."
"We're quite serious Harry. There is a catch though," Hermione said biting her bottom lip.
"Actually there are two," Ron added. Harry almost smiled he always knew that it couldn't be that easy, life just wasn't. He should know after all.
"Go on then tell me the worst," he said sitting more comfortable on the grass.
"Well it's difficult to know where to start," Hermione said.
"You can't come back," Ron blurted out. "It's a one way ticket."
"Well I know that. I have used a time turner before. All I have to do is keep out of sight of the original me. I can do that."
"It's not going to work like that though," Hermione said, "because you're going to be taking over the mind and body of your younger self."
"I'm sorry I'm going to do what!"
"As best as we can work it out, and I won't bore you with the details because I know you hate details Harry, you'll become your thirteen year old self, but with all your current memories. It's your memories we'll be sending not your body. We've managed to come back in our bodies, because it's only two years but we can't go any further than that."
"Ok, I think I get that, however strange it sounds, but why am I going to be thirteen, again!" The thought of having to go through all that again appalled him.
"You'll be nearly fourteen. Your older self agreed the best time for you to return was the summer of the Quidditch World Cup," Hermione said.
"He did…I mean I did, did I?" Harry was beginning to see that the further he got into this conversation the less he was going to understand it. Still he was going to have to try he supposed, and the timing of his return did make some sort of sense. "Ok then my memories go back in time, what happens to my body?"
"Well…" and Hermione paused, while Ron began to look at the scenery.
"Oh don't tell me my thirteen year old self is transported back to this body," Harry said.
"Oh! Well actually we never thought of that possibility. We only thought of two others," Hermione said her forehead crinkling in concentration at what Harry had just said.
"Go on then tell me these two theories of yours?" Harry asked.
"Well the first, and the one we think is the most likely is that you go back and change things, and this reality ceases to exist. It's all very simple and nobody knows what's happened except you."
"It's a bit like reading a book and changing the ending because you didn't like the original," Ron said.
"When have you ever read a book to the end?" Hermione said.
"I might one day." Hermione just stared at him extra hard. "It could happen!"
"Not in this reality that's for sure," Harry muttered laughing at his friends faces.
Hermione drew in a breath and Harry knew that full lecture mode was coming.
"You have to image time as a gigantic river Harry. It's not that easy to divert, and no matter what you try the river will always fight you and try and resume its original direction."
"So what's the point of going back?"
"You won't be trying to change the course of the whole river, just a tiny little portion of it. If you go back and rid the world of Voldemort you only affect the lives of those involved."
"But that's hundreds, if not thousands of people!" Harry exclaimed.
"You're forgetting how big this river is Harry. Affecting the lives of thousands is nothing when you compare it to the billions of people on this planet. Then you have all the animals and plants that live in the same time river, never mind the rest of the universe. Things though do start to get more complicated if we drag the universe into it."
What Hermione had told him was mind boggling he could go back and change things. What he'd been dreaming about for months could actual happen.
"So what's the other theory?"
"Well the other theory is that you go back, change things, but you create another reality and nothing changes in this one. It seems most unlikely because Ron and I have already changed this time line by coming back to talk to you. Your future self insisted that we had never done that before. Even Luna doesn't believe in it."
"There is the remote chance that you were lying to us of course," Ron said rather unhelpfully.
Harry found himself shifting all these possibilities through his mind, and trying to weigh the pros and cons of both theories.
"If I could be sure that your first theory is correct I'd go like a shot, but we might be in another reality now." Harry said looking at the rough engraving on the rock of Dobby's grave stone. "I just have doubts about the second theory, and abandoning the people I love," he added turning away from the grave to look back at Ron and Hermione.
"We'll all be back there Harry, granted it won't be the us that you know now, but we will be there," Hermione said. "We won't be much different."
"You and Ron will have to go into hiding for the next two years if this reality doesn't change," Harry said.
"We've already thought of that. We intend to see the rest of the world during that time. We're quite looking forward to it actually, and at least we know that you'll be happier back then, than you are now. Sorry happier than you will be in two years time. I'm afraid your depressions get worse and worse Harry."
"You've had this conversation with me before haven't you," Harry said.
"Yeah we have Harry," Ron said grimacing, "and no matter how often I've listened to it I still get a headache trying to understand what's going on, or will go on or even when is."
"Does Ginny know what's going on, or will know what's going on, or whatever the hell it is," Harry said starting to lose the thread of the conversation.
"Future Ginny knows all too well what's going on and has been encouraging me, and especially Luna to succeed in this project."
Somehow that wasn't the answer he had been expecting. Ginny had always been very supporting and tolerant of his wide mood swings over the past year. She had never asked him for anything, and throughout the year he had searched for the Horcruxes she had done what he asked, well mostly. Which was not to put herself in harms way.
"How can I believe that?" he asked.
"She wrote you a letter," Ron said pulling two rolls of parchment out of his robes pockets. "In fact you wrote yourself a letter as well." Now things were getting really weird and scary he thought.
"Ginny wrote herself a letter as well just in case this reality stays, and you mysteriously disappear," Hermione said.
"And what happens if my thirteen year old self appears. What are you going to do then?"
"Cross that bridge when we come to it, and accuse Ginny of being a cradle snatcher," Ron said handing the rolls of parchment over to Harry. "You're over thinking this Harry. Trust me when I say the future you is not happy, and you are prepared to do anything rather than live with the status quo." Harry took the offered letters but didn't open them. He wasn't sure he wanted to know what was written in them.
"I'm that bad am I?" The thought that he had become so depressed that his closest friends, and the woman he loved, wanted him to go back in time rather than let him suffer seemed to depress him more. For several minutes he just stared at the letters recognising Ginny, and his handwriting. He didn't want to know how bad he was going to become.
"I have to do this don't I?" he said. Hermione and Ron had long since settled down in the grass and were patiently waiting for his decision, as though they had all the time in the World. Which when he thought about it was pretty much what they did have.
"It's your decision Harry," Hermione said. "Who knows maybe having the choice of going back, or not going back, is all you need." It was a fair point Harry thought, but all it did was make a difficult choice even harder.
"Do it for George if for no other reason," Ron said.
"Ron we agreed we wouldn't mention that," Hermione hissed.
"No you agreed I didn't say anything."
"Look Ron …"
"What about George?" Harry demanded.
"Well he …" but Ron could say any more as a dark look crossed his face. He stood up and walked the cliff's edge and stared out to sea. Hermione looked at Harry and he had never seen her more serious.
"What did he do?" Harry asked. Oh no he didn't kill …"
"No!" Hermione said.
"It might have been easier if he had," Ron said still staring out to sea.
"He obliviated himself," Hermione said. "They think he wiped his mind of all memories of Fred." Harry sat there in stunned silence as the enormity of what Hermione had said sunk in.
"But they did everything together."
"Pretty much he's in the long term ward with isolated memories."
"Yea like separate detention," Ron said with a humourless laugh.
"He's just a mess of random memories." Harry just nodded to Hermione nothing else needed to be said. Going back wouldn't be easy, nor would seeing all those people that had died alive once more, how would he react, and much worse than that how would he react to seeing those responsible for their deaths the first time around.
There would be the Tri-Wizarding tournament to go through again, and the thought of that damn dragon sent a shiver down his spine. He'd have to put up with all the taunts again for putting his name in the cup, but he reckoned he could handle that. He was older and wiser now or so he hoped.
There would be compensations though. He could avoid the whole Cho fiasco. He would know what he would be facing before time and his knowledge of spells and magic was way better than the first time. He also knew Rita Skeeter's secret. He could have a lot of fun with that, and save his closest friends a lot of grief. In fact she might be useful if things turned nasty with the Ministry if he succeeded getting rid of Voldemort.
He would have to be very careful what he changed, and what he didn't. He wasn't sure what to do about the Hermione and Krum nonsense, maybe he'd buy Ron that book that Fred and George gave him about the mad things girls do for Christmas, and see if that helped. He didn't hold out much hope, but he had no intention of getting in the middle. Ron had made a complete hash of their relationship the first time round, so he could only improve this time round. Watching them watching him he could tell that they were made for each other.
He wanted to go he knew that. His thought processes were trying to find a reason not to go, and failing. The lessons would be boring, but he had the problem of collecting the Horcruxes to occupy him, especially the Cup in Gringotts, and the Ring from the Gaunt's house. He was going to need help, and he wasn't sure how Professor Dumbledore would react to his time travelling story.
He knew three other people he could trust to help him. One was fiercely loyal to him. The other two were family friends one of whom had a personnel background in dark magic. He knew from experience that two of them would die for him, and he was sure the third would do no less.
"I'll do it," Harry announced.
"I told you he would," Ron said beaming.
"If you remember I never said he wouldn't," Hermione replied.
"You still lost the bet though."
"What bet?" Harry asked as a massive weight lifted off his shoulders now he'd made the final decision. The day now seemed sunnier than before.
"Ginny bet Hermione that you wouldn't bother to read the letters before you made up your mind," Ron answered. It was clear that he found Hermione being proved wrong very entertaining.
"Suckers bet Hermione," Harry said, "Ginny knows me better than I know myself. Are you sure you're happy with this?"
"For Merlin's sake Harry us travelling back two years should prove something," Ron exclaimed. "Oh and Ginny wanted to make sure that I told you to ask her to the Yule Ball before Neville does. She doesn't want to put her feet through that sort of torture again."
"I'll ask her right after they announce the ball," Harry replied. Hermione then reached into her robes and pulled out a long cylindrical silver rod and passed it over to him. It was covered in various runes and other strange markings none of which made any sense to Harry.
"There is one thing. What happens if I go back and don't change anything important?" he asked gazing at the silver rod.
"I don't see how you can't Harry," Hermione said. "All you have to do is destroy one Horcruxes before you-know-who is resurrected, and that should be easy enough, and things will be very different."
"What if I get knocked down by a car before I do anything?"
"Then the light side has already lost," Ron said simply. "We can't win without you Harry. You know the prophecy so cross the road with care alright." A sudden silence fell over the three friends. Harry wanted to say something profound and meaningful. They had been through so much together, far more than the Ron and Hermione he was going back to meet. The words though wouldn't come.
"You don't have to say anything Harry we've already done this with your older self," Hermione said eventually.
"Besides we won't remember anything you say anyway," Ron added.
"All you have to do is push both ends together, it's preset," Hermione said to Harry indicating the silver rod that he was idly twirling in his hand.
There really wasn't anything left to say, so Harry pushed both ends together, and the World began to blur and swirl around him.
This will not be a total re-write of the fourth year, and if you haven't read that you're mental for reading this.