I really couldn't resist starting this fic. A little on the short side to begin with, but hopefully the chapters will get longer. It's been on my mind for quite a while and was inspired by Rowanna Llewelyn's Harry Potter and the New Start. It's great, you should check it out, if you like time-traveling Harry/Albus, which I discovered I did.

If you don't like Harry/Albus slash, then don't read this!!

Although you'll probably be safe until the end of the fic. That's all I have to say about that. Hope you like Ephemeral Time.

Fly to a dream
Far across the sea
All the burdens gone
Open the chest once more
Dark chest of wonders
Seen through the eyes
Of the one with pure heart
Once so long ago

-"Dark Chest of Wonders," Nightwish

It was dark in the abandoned shack. Moonlight peaked through the cracks in the boarded up windows and rotting roof, providing barely enough light to see the ritual Harry had prepared. He didn't dare risk lighting a candle, no matter how far inside an old wood he was. If Voldemort or his allies discovered him, all would be lost.

Harry's blood dripped down his arms, staining the warped floorboards as he carefully angled his wrists over the runes carved into the wood. He moved carefully, pushing aside lightheadedness resulting from blood loss. He almost didn't care whether he succeeded or not; death was more than welcome at this point. Still, he persevered. The sacrifice of his friends, the people he considered his true family, would not be in vain. He would find a way to defeat Voldemort.

Hermione and Luna had worked on this ritual for years before they had been killed. Harry didn't doubt for an instant that it would work. They were both geniuses who approached the world in vastly different ways. When the two agreed on something, there was virtually no chance that they were wrong.

His hand trembled as he drew his wand – the wand – no matter how he attempted to steady the motion. Holly and phoenix, no matter how it felt like an old friend, was not powerful enough for this. If he wanted to go back as far as possible, then only the Elder wand would do.

How long had it been since Harry had become the master of the most well-known Deathly Hallow? His luck had been working overtime over the last half dozen years to keep the Elder wand in his possession, no matter how many skirmishes and ambushes he found himself in. He didn't like his second wand, hated it even. It was more trouble than it was worth, but those few times he tried, he had been unable to destroy it.

Harry carefully pointed the wand at himself, hands slick with blood. He mustered all the hatred, all the self-loathing he could. He had failed, had been unable to protect friends, family, classmates. Sirius, Professor Dumbledore, Remus, Tonks, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley, Fred and George, Ron, Hermione, Neville, Ginny, Luna. The list went on and on – it was all his fault – and his hatred of himself grew with each name until at last he growled, "Avada Kedavra."

A flash of green, and the body of Harry Potter slumped to the ground. The runes began glowing a rusty red, is if they had been branded into the wood. The shack began to creak and groan before abruptly collapsing in on itself, the backlash of the immense magical force causing it to implode.

Get ready. Take a breath. It'll all be over soon.

He faded in and out of consciousness. Did he dream? Did he tumble through endless darkness for all eternity, live backwards through every day, hour, minute, second, that separated his time and this one? Did he simply blink and find himself in a place so like and yet unlike his exit point?

When Harry gained full awareness he had no idea how long he had lain on the ground. His entire body ached, and he could hardly open his eyes, the weak sunlight was such torture to them. He shook with cold, his naked body exposed to the elements, but he had no strength to get up. He could die here. Harry was obviously far enough in the past that the shack hadn't been built yet, and the woods had been chosen because no one would venture so far into them.

Harry closed his eyes and relaxed, the only thing he could do for the moment. Hopefully the pain would lessen enough for him to begin moving around. He assumed it was the result of ripping his soul from his body and dragging both through time before abruptly combining once again. Hermione had said that the use of the soul increased the power exponentially. Luna had said the snorglacks were very attracted to the energy of a person's heliancephs.

Harry assumed they meant the same thing.

God, but he was uncomfortably aware of his nudity. They had warned him that he would probably be unable to take anything with him, including the clothes he wore. It was necessary, but Harry really didn't like it. How the hell was he supposed to steal a set of clothes without being seen?

He tried to lift his head again. Perhaps it was his imagination, but Harry thought the pain had lessened slightly.

Something caught his eye, something that lay next to his right hand. He focused on it, squinting because the sun still hurt and he was half blind without his glasses, and then let his head drop back to the ground with a curse. It was the Elder wand.

On one hand, it would make things much easier for him until he could get to Ollivander's. On the other, he had thought he was done with the stress of owning the legendary wand. But perhaps it would be all right. No one in this time knew he owned one of the Deathly Hallows, and no one would even think it was the second one in existence at this time. Perhaps his Invisibility Cloak could have made it with him, if he had thought of it. He felt a pang of regret when he realized that he would probably never see it again, much less own it.

Harry shook off his melancholy. "Enough," he said and painfully forced himself to his feet, using a nearby tree as leverage. He needed to know when he was, and he needed to prepare himself to do what it took to defeat Voldemort. A wave of his wand and he transfigured himself some clothes, a simple T-shirt and jeans. The shoes were a bit of a problem; he would have to purchase a pair as soon as possible but for now he would get by with what he had.

"Tempus," he murmured, and numbers twisted out of his wand to hover in the air. 12:45, 29 May 1944.

Harry stared. He had hoped to be far enough back to save his parents. He hadn't seriously thought that he would have the power to go back more than half a century, even if he (or Hermione, rather) had prepared for all eventualities in the Dark Lord's lifetime.

Which reminded him. Something about the date was jogging his memory. Something important.

"Think, Harry," he told himself. "Calm down and think about this." May 1944. Tom Riddle. Slytherin. Seventh year, so Head Boy, not prefect. Special services to –


Myrtle had been killed the night of May 30th by the basilisk.

There was no time to lose now. He needed to be prepared. It would be his best chance to take out Tom Riddle and expose him for the aspiring Dark Lord that he was, and he could prevent the murder of an innocent girl. Harry hoped he wouldn't have to kill the other wizard. That would bring too much attention to his existence, and he hoped to avoid both the Ministry and Azkaban.

"Okay," Harry whispered. "Okay. First thing's first." He tapped his thigh with his wand, tracing elaborate shapes on his hip as he began murmuring incantations. This was another of Hermione's spells she had created just for Harry, used to hide the Elder wand from all senses both magic and mundane. It was like a holster made completely of magic. If the people 60 years in the future couldn't counter it, he doubted anyone in this time could.

With that taken care of, Harry felt marginally better, more in control of his situation. It was time for him to leave.

He doubted that it would be a good idea to travel the Muggle way. His education before Hogwarts had been limited, true, but he had not forgotten the major points of World War II in England. The people were bound to be frightened and suspicious, and he wouldn't know how to act. Not to mention they might require some sort of paperwork, or something, and he didn't even exist yet. He couldn't very well Confund or Obliviate people in large crowds.

Harry would have to risk apparating to a point he was fairly sure had remained more or less the same in the intervening years. Which, considering how the Wizarding World resisted change, shouldn't actually be all that difficult. He was a little leery about traveling from the relatively safe northern Scotland to the middle of London. He didn't want to be bombed, after all.

Still, he assumed it would be relatively safe, considering it would be the middle of the day and he couldn't recall anything about Diagon Alley being bombed from History of Magic. Granted he didn't actually remember much from History of Magic, and what little he did was mainly to do with goblins (Binns was seriously obsessed). Harry figured he would probably be all right.

He transfigured a pine cone into a robe, and it must have been due to either exhaustion or lack of concentration, because it was a ragged, uneven job. It was serviceable, though, and he had never much cared about appearance.

He threw on the robe and then closed his eyes to picture the Leaky Cauldron. It had been there forever, hadn't it? At least until it was destroyed in the Diagon Alley massacre that had killed most of the Weasleys. But he couldn't dwell on the past…future…whatever.

He spun on his heel and found himself facing a familiar brick wall. Harry needed to take a moment to remember how to open the entrance, it had been so long, but he remembered. A whisper from the past, from his first friend who had introduced him to the Wizarding World.

Welcome to Diagon Alley.

You won't be expelled Hagrid, he promised. You will graduate and do whatever you want to do. I couldn't save you, but I can do this much.

Harry set his face in a determined expression and stepped into the Alley. He needed a wand, shoes, and food, and to get all of that he needed money. He wouldn't steal from the Muggles no matter how much easier that would be. They were in more dire straits than the British Wizarding World.

He couldn't access any accounts at Gringotts. The Potter family was alive, after all, and they would certainly notice if a stranger took anything from their vaults. He couldn't steal from Gringotts, either. He had only gotten away with it before with a lot of help, even more luck, and probably the fact that he just wanted a cup.

Harry didn't want to take from just anyone, either. If he was forced to steal, he didn't want to take it from someone who couldn't afford it, and if at all possible he would prefer they had a rather Malfoy-esque attitude. At least he wouldn't feel so guilty then.

His gaze strayed toward Knockturn Alley. That place would probably have the type of person he was looking for. It would be more difficult, as that Alley drew thieves and people guarded against them. Still…. A finite with the Elder wand would probably take care of any anti-theft charms.

Harry surreptitiously made his way to the Knockturn Alley entrance, drew up his hood, and cast as powerful a Disillusionment Charm as he could manage.

Half an hour later he was making his way to Ollivander's with a small pouch of coins. He hadn't had a chance to count his loot, but he suspected it wouldn't last for more than a day or two. If he wasn't dead by then, he would have to come up with some way to make money.

The wand shop was just as dark and dusty as it had been when he had bought his first wand. This time, though, paranoid as Harry was, he noticed Ollivander before the man made himself known. Really, did the wizard gain no other joy in life than to scare his customers?

"Hello," said the man, staring unblinking at Harry. "I have never seen you in my shop before, though this is certainly not your first time looking for a wand."

"My wand was destroyed and so I need a new one," Harry stated calmly. "It had a phoenix feather core, if that helps."

"You have the look of a Potter about you," the wand-maker said as his measuring tape hovered in mid-air, and Harry felt his heart skip a beat. "What is your name?"

He hadn't thought about an alias, to be honest. But his first name was common enough. "Harry," he said.

"No last name?" Ollivander peered at him intently and Harry double-checked his Occlumency shields.

"No," he said firmly, relenting only enough to say, "I'm an orphan." Let him make of that what he will.

"Phoenix feather, you say," the elderly wizard mumbled to himself as he began searching among his shelves, eventually returning with a large stack of boxes. "It may not remain the same, but it's as good a starting point as any. Let's try this one then. Oak and phoenix feather, 13 inches."

They went through half a dozen boxes before Harry saw it. His wand, holly and phoenix feather. He sighed without realizing as he reached for his wand. It greeted him like an old friend, showering him with golden sparks.

"Oh, well done," Ollivander said, looking satisfied. "That will be seven galleons."

Harry paid, liking this visit much better as the wand-maker made no comments about the import of the wand. Well, Voldemort was hardly a terrifying threat to the Wizarding World yet, and as well-known as Albus Dumbledore was, he had yet to gain the notoriety of defeating the feared Grindelwald. The circumstances surrounding this wand and its brother were not yet important.

By the end of the day he gained a sturdy, comfortable pair of boots, a full meal (he couldn't remember the last time he had eaten his fill, never mind eaten real food), and enough food to survive for the next two days if he rationed carefully. A conjured tent and a blanket, and he had set up camp opposite of Hogsmeade from the castle, careful to stay out of sight.

It had occurred to Harry that he could probably hide in the Room of Requirement, but he didn't dare enter the castle until he needed to, in case his presence somehow threw off the timing of the events.

He was so exhausted he fell almost immediately into a deep sleep as soon as the site had been warded, in spite of how early it was. For once the nightmares didn't trouble him, and he woke late the next day, muzzy from the many hours spent asleep. He couldn't exactly say he was well-rested, but he was no longer exhausted, either. Really, Harry felt better than he had in years.

He lit a small, smokeless fire and toasted some bread while he pondered the situation. He wished there were more time to prepare. He wished Hermione were here to come up with something that would work. He wished any of his friends were here, really. Harry had been spoiled by his time in the Wizarding World. He could hardly stand to be alone anymore.

"I can see them again. Eventually," he told himself. If he lived that long. If nothing he did caused them not to be born. But they wouldn't be his friends. He would never have the same relationship with them, because he would be old by the time they came to Hogwarts. They would never suffer as his friends and family had, because he would protect them. He would take out Voldemort before Voldemort could destroy everything dear to him.

He felt that familiar darkness wash over him and he tumbled down, down the rabbit hole, but there was no white rabbit or Wonderland, only smothering darkness, and he was alone, alone, alone.

Harry gasped, shaking himself out of his depression, for the moment at least. Ron had kept him grounded, his first and last friend, his best mate, when all the others had been picked off one by one. But Ron was dead now, had been for weeks, and Harry was forced to keep going on his own, haunted by his own memories. He couldn't exorcise the voices of his friends, and he didn't want to.

"Plan," he told himself. As long as he concentrated on something he could forget the dead for a little while.