Mysterious Thing, Time
Co-Authored By: Blueowl and Throckmorton
Disclaimer: We obviously don't own the idea of Harry Potter or any of the money making forms of it.
Summary: The future is lost, so to save it, both Harry and Dumbledore go back the moment it all began - that Halloween night. Of course, things do not go exactly as they had expected. Unspeakables, Wild Magic, Time Travel, Vampires, Bonds, Goblins.Part 1: Old Chap
"Hello, old chap," Dumbledore began.
He settled in for a long discussion, as much as one could settle in when in a mind not one's own. Well, not one's current own. He mused over this while watching the other Albus Dumbledore. The mind was, of course, familiar, but it had been a long time since it had felt like this. A very long time.
It was much more cluttered. Dumbledore had to remind himself that this was before the war devastated everything, before he learned to lock away the pain and hopelessness that was the war of the "future." The clutter was, of course, important, but something that Dumbledore had had to learn to do without because of the dire circumstances of the war. He had to focus on the most vital things. To do otherwise would cost lives.
Regrettably, lives were lost anyway...but that was why they had come back, to prevent the loss of generations and to form a good and prosperous future—not to mention a livable one.
But back to the task at hand. His younger self was sitting in front of him, waiting patiently for an explanation.
"I apologize for rushing in, but time was of the essence," Dumbledore continued. "I am afraid that leaving things to fall as they would without interference lead to our defeat."
He brought up a memory, the one where he began to realize his efforts were fruitless. Harry Potter, the Boy-Who-Lived, and the one Dumbledore believed could save the world, was 23. Harry had gone against Voldemort yet again, and Dumbledore was beginning to wonder when the stalemate would end.
Dumbledore was not idle. He fought off death eaters so that Harry could face Voldemort and only Voldemort. He had killed or incapacitated many, but they kept coming. Spells were flying everywhere, and occasionally, a friendly spell would brush by him. It was chaos, but Dumbledore and what remained of the Order of the Phoenix fought anyway, hoping to give Harry even one more moment to face Voldemort. Filius fought like the dueler he was, slowed little by time or age. The Weasley twins, a fine pair of lads, fought back to back, dealing nasty curses never seen before to the death eaters. They had begun taking everything much more seriously after their youngest brother died trying to fight Voldemort himself. Minerva fought two at once, barely staying ahead of them. He could not help her, since he was facing three of his own.
Suddenly, Harry went flying past and slammed into a death eater. One of the twins finished of the death eater in his moment of distraction and another ran to pick up Harry. Dumbledore could tell by the boy's limp body that this fight would not be Voldemort's last.
"Retreat!" Dumbledore yelled. People disapparated or activated their portkeys. The twin holding Harry went down as the death eater who killed him picked up Harry's body. He saw Minerva fighting to get to Harry while Filius took on the enemy that had been fighting her. Dumbledore dispatched one of the death eaters he was fighting as he also ran for Harry. Minerva blasted the death eater who was carrying the boy, but was caught by a curse from someone behind her. Dumbledore felt his eyes misting as he was forced to choose between Harry and Minerva.
It was never supposed to come to this. Harry was supposed to face Voldemort, yes, but not this way. There should have been the full support of the Order, as well as the Ministry, but the ministry had fallen before Harry was out of Hogwarts, and the Order had taken too many hits to stand strong. This was their last desperate attempt. He shook his head. Now was not the time for remembering what they could not change; now was time for action.
Minerva was his best friend, he deputy, his right hand man, so to speak, but Harry was the savior of the world. It was beyond the wizarding world now, and Dumbledore knew that. Harry would save everyone, both wizard and muggle.
Even though he knew this, the desire to save Minerva outweighed anything else for the moment. He turned to her. The healers could save her if he got her to them fast. He reached out to her.
"Save him, Albus," her voice, already weak, whispered to him. She drew her hand back so he could not touch her. "It all depends on him."
Dumbledore looked up. He saw no one from the Order remaining on the battlefield. He was the only one. But perhaps. . . .
"I will take you both," Dumbledore whispered.
"No!" Minerva answered, her light voice only a shadow of the one that had students cringing in the halls when Hogwarts still housed students. "For me, Albus."
He would do anything for her, even if it meant ripping out his heart. And that was what she was asking.
He bent over her and kissed her lightly on the forehead. "For you, my dear."
He stood and ran to Harry, pushing everything else out of his mind.
"What do you think you're doing, you old coot?" The voice sent chills down Dumbledore's spine, but he would not let this, this, monster win today.
Dumbledore raised his wand. "Stopping you."
"You fool! You know only Harry can kill me," Voldemort laughed. "Good-bye old man."
Dumbledore raised earth in front of him to block the green light Voldemort had sent. With the next swish, he converted the ground under Voldemort into thick, sticky mud. He reached out to Harry and grabbed the boy's wrist. With a jerk and a twist, he was back to their healer's tent, the boy in his arms, St. Mungo's having been destroyed nearly two years before. A grave looking Neville Longbottom pointed to one of four cots in the room and Dumbledore laid Harry down.
He knew Harry must have inflicted wounds on Voldemort, but all he could see were Harry's. Had they been muggles, Harry would probably never walk again. As it was, if Neville was as good as he had been in the past, Harry would have a painful limp and even more painful memories.
Pulling out of the memory, Dumbledore was once again staring at the younger, now shocked version of his consciousness that he would mentally refer to as 'Albus'. "Now you see why I had to take over for a time," Dumbledore said before the younger him could say anything. "I, we, cannot let that happen again."
"What happened to Minerva?" Albus asked after a pause.
Dumbledore sighed. He knew he would want to know that, but he had avoided thinking of her for so long. At least during the day. The nightmares were another thing entirely.
"We stayed in a small place in the London slums that was protected by the fidelus charm," Dumbledore began. "He delivered her body just outside the line."
Unbidden, the memory came flooding in.
He almost didn't recognize the body when it was found, barely a week after the failed battle. Blood spattered and bruised, it was a symbol to Voldemort's cruelty. When he had realized it was Minerva, he had run to her and unpinned her from the stone wall of the building next to them. He held her bloody head with his hands and cried.
He had not yet allowed himself to cry over leaving her behind.
He felt hands on his back, comforting yet pulling him away. Clutching her broken body to him, Dumbledore stood. He gasped as he finally saw the entire wall. Just above where Minerva's body had been were words written in red. Blood, her blood.
"TOO SLOW, OLD CODGER."
He pulled out of the memory to see Albus looking haggard. "After that, Harry and I decided something drastic had to be done, something that would give us the advantage while robbing Voldemort of his."
"And what was that?" Albus asked after a pause.
"Time travel," Dumbledore answered.
Albus nodded. "Yes, that would explain your presence. I had ruled out the possibility that you were false during the fight."
"I am thankful you had. When Harry and I began planning everything, we were uneasy about what my past self — you — would do. I am glad it all has worked out as well as it has, despite the changes that have occurred," Dumbledore said.
"What were the plans you made? How long did you and Harry prepare?"
"We prepared for several years, and also cast an ancient spell on one another, granting an empathic link between us. It greatly assisted us in battle, and I am sure it will help us here, especially since he is currently an infant. Granted, it isn't telepathy, but that is frankly not possible and would be rather draining — though I believe feeling each other's emotions provides more than enough communication," Dumbledore said. "As for other plans, right now I don't think we will be carrying them out immediately, since we have already caused enough change to the timeline and have both been injured."
Albus nodded, absorbing everything as well as ever before he folded his hands in his lap and leaned forward, a hungry twinkle in his eyes that Dumbledore had not seen in years. "So, how did you do it? Travel through time, that is."
"We anchored the time jump to Harry's horcrux, arranging the spell to bring our memories and our magic back into our past bodies a few moments before it was created," Dumbledore said. "That way the magic from traveling through time could dissipate enough not to conflict with the killing curse that would remove the future horcrux from Harry and place this time's horcrux within him," Dumbledore explained.
Albus blinked, almost choking on a nonexistent lemon drop. "The boy has a horcrux within him?!"
"I will share the rest of this knowledge and more if you will allow your consciousness to merge with mine," Dumbledore answered. "Separate, we will always be questioning each other, explaining decisions that should be made immediately. We will constantly be fighting for control, and it will hamper us." He smiled for the first time in what seemed ages. "After all, we are the same person."
The younger Dumbledore nodded, seeing the truth. "After this, we will be one entity, with two entire sets of memories, correct?"
The older man nodded. "Possibly, although since our memories up to your point are the same, those will probably just become stronger for a time rather than creating two separate sets of memories. Unfortunately, Harry and I had never heard of anyone attempting this. I am concerned about the loss of some memories or magic that I brought from the future."
The younger Albus took a moment to think about this. "From what you say, it seems important that we do merge, otherwise your coming back will be rather useless."
"That is what I was hoping you would say," Dumbledore responded.
"So, how do we do this?" Albus asked. "I must admit that I'm at a bit of a loss."
"Perhaps if we reach out to each other..." Dumbledore trailed off as he stood and went toward the younger version.
The younger version also stood and went forward until they were mere inches apart. Dumbledore raised his hand as the younger one raised his. Their hands touched.
After a few moments, the younger Albus broke the silence. "I believe you are too solid."
"That would make you too solid as well." Dumbledore lowered his hand. "Perhaps a different method, then."
"Some sort of spell, perhaps?" Albus suggested. His eyes once again held a twinkle. Puzzles delighted him.
"I was sure that would work," the older man said quietly. "I cannot believe Harry and I did not think of this problem. All of our concentration was on how to get here."
The Dumbledores stood facing each other, each lost in their own thoughts.
The older Dumbledore was stumped. He could nearly see them merging, but how to go about it? They had to be one if this was to work at all. As he imagined, he noticed his hand fading. Startled, he lifted his hand to examine it closer. His hand was solid again. Interesting.
What did this mean? He had done nothing, and from the looks of it, neither had the younger man. He followed his train of thought again, this time watching his hands. When he thought of merging, saw it in his mind, his hand disappeared again.
He looked at the other Albus. "I think I have it, old chap." The younger man faced him with raised eyebrows. "Imagine us merging."
"Very well," the younger man said with a look that said he was humoring the old man. He smiled and crossed his arms. He began to fade, and Dumbledore similarly imagined them merging. He suddenly felt lighter, and the other Dumbledore was nowhere to be seen.
Authors' note: This story may seem impossible to decipher initially, but stick with it. A great deal of things will be explained in coming parts.