Needless to say, this story idea almost literally came to me in a dream a few nights ago. I'll explain a bit more about my thought process of why I chose to write this one once I get to the end of the chapter wrap up author's notes.
Also, canon up through most of the sixth book, with one notable change that I bring up and several others, making this slightly AU to say the least and that's before the main purpose of the story kicks in.
Chapter One: Mysterious Antique Device
Twenty five year old Harry Potter yawned, as he rubbed his eyes, sitting in the bowels of the Department of Mysteries. As he had often done during the down time during his career as an Unspeakable of the Department of Mysteries, he thought of his life, especially over the past seven years.
Seven years since Lord Voldemort was finally defeated. Harry did not call it a victory by any means; he really did not beat Voldemort in his own mind. He outlasted Voldemort and the most dangerous Dark Lord in a century perished in a battle that spilled more blood than Harry had ever wanted to see in his life. He had long since gotten over the countless deaths he had to witness, most of them the few people who was fairly close to him. It was amazing how many times Harry rolled the dice with fate and lived. His friends, with one very fortunate exception, had all perished at the hands of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. Some in the most horrific manners that Harry could imagine, not that he spent too much time imagining how his friends would be slaughtered.
After the defeat, the Ministry was in shambles but no one appeared to learn from the mistakes of last time. Lucius Malfoy had once again claimed that he was under the Imperius Curse and after a few donations; it was something that everyone accepted as fact. Harry just threw his hands up into the air in defeat, not for the first time, he wondered who he was fighting for, other than his friends and himself. That was it, he had fulfilled the Prophecy, Voldemort was gone, this time for good, with all of the Horcruxes destroyed. Once Harry had completed his education at Hogwarts, he had taken the one job that he would not have to answer anyone's questions and pretty much be left alone, because he was expected to be reclusive. The employees at the Department of Mysteries only interacted with each other for the most part within the Ministry, with the exception of the lead Unspeakable who gave biweekly reports to the Minister of Magic.
"Harry, there you are," remarked the voice of his wife and fellow Unspeakable, Ginny, who walked forward, with her red hair flowing behind her and a bright smile that could cause even Harry's darkest day to become a little better. The couple exchanged a kiss as Ginny sat down on the bench next to Harry, before she set a small box down on the table.
"Hello, Ginny," responded Harry, as he looked at his wife with a smile. All things considered, they got off rather lucky in the war. Sure they had quite a few scars and they had joints that did not really work the way they should have anymore, but they were still alive and they were together. With all of their friends and Ginny's family, dead, insane, missing, or in a coma, they had little but each other in this world and pretty much went to work together in the morning to the Department of Mysteries and left each night by a Portkey, avoiding all human interaction possible.
"We just unearthed this thing and Bellomo wants us to take a look at it," said Ginny with a sigh, as they tap danced around the subject of what day this was the anniversary of. It was one of the darkest days of their life, as they both thought they could have done something to stop that disastrous event.
"What is it?" asked Harry, his magical curiosity getting the better of him. The Department of Mysteries had given him an opportunity to study all kinds of interesting magical artifacts, some of them completely useless, all things considered and Ginny just shrugged her shoulders.
"I'm not sure, Bellomo had us bring it down here because he figured if anyone could get it working, it would be us, whatever it is anyway," responded Ginny. "The problem is, he said, no one could get the box open."
"Did they try an Alohomora spell?" asked Harry with his eyebrow raised and Ginny just pointed her wand.
"Alohomora," responded Ginny, but nothing happened. The box remained immobile as ever. "Maybe if both of us do it at once, we might be able to get it open."
"It's worth a shot," replied Harry as they pointed their wands and the lock clicked open, to reveal a small black object. Carefully, Harry levitated it out, carefully not touching it just in case it was curse. On the sides of the object, Harry saw that there were small hour glasses, with microscopic words etched on the side of the box in a language that Harry could not make out. In the front, the object contained what could in theory be a mirror, but the problem was that it gave no reflection whatsoever. Harry studied the miniature black box intently, casting a few charms that would tell him if it was cursed or not. When his tests had come up negative, he just looked over the object. "Interesting, the craftsmanship on this thing is second to none."
"Where do you figure it came from?" asked Ginny curiously and Harry just looked at the box, as he continued his study of the object.
"My guess is middle to late Magical Rome, but it doesn't appear like it has aged at all," responded Harry as he looked at the object. "No, it has to be genuine, there are tell tale signs of a fake, techniques that the Roman Magical People have used that have never been duplicated by anyone in history. They were an advanced people. There techniques have paved way for the Time Turner, but records indicate that they had a more sophisticated method of time travel than the Ministry managed to duplicate. Not to mention there are hints that they may have created several Muggle inventions centuries before scientific achievements made it possible in that world. They were advanced, but it's a shame that we have slid backwards since then."
"I remember years ago that…" responded Ginny but she just stopped short, in remembering something that Hermione had said all of those years ago, that she was lecturing Ron about the advancements of Roman wizards in the Gryffindor Common Room and the thought about what happened to both of them, well it was something that she did not want to bring up. For her sake as much as Harry's, certain things needed to be left unsaid.
"Eight years ago it happened," responded Harry gruffly and Ginny did not need to ask what happened. "Eight years ago, when the Death Eaters showed up and attacked the Burrow at the wedding."
"Do you regret what happened?" asked Ginny carefully but Harry shook his head.
"Regret saving you, no never for a moment in your life, you were a great help to me out there, dealing with all of the Horcruxes, a lot faster than I might have on my own" responded Harry in a firm voice as he looked in Ginny's eyes. "As for what happened to Ron and Hermione…well I was saddened but I warned them that it was dangerous. They knew what they were signing up for, I told them they would be targets but I didn't know it would happen to them before they even stepped one foot on the Horcrux journey. Still, saving you from Bellatrix when she was about ready to kill you, no, not really, that's something I'll never regret in my life."
"I know you blame yourself Harry," said Ginny, as she gently placed her hand on her husband's. The truth was, while Harry managed to find a way to get Ginny out of there safely when they attacked the Burrow, Ron and Hermione were not as lucky. The Death Eaters captured them, perhaps as bait to draw Harry out in the open. Perhaps to send a message to Harry, but what was done was done. It was months after Voldemort fell that Harry found out how his two best friends had perished.
"I blame myself for nothing," responded Harry gruffly. "The scum who did this were responsible; I didn't hold a wand to Bellatrix's head and tell her to torture Ron into a vegetative state. I didn't blackmail Lucius Malfoy into throwing that Killing Curse at Hermione. At one time, I might have blamed myself, but now, none of this is my fault."
"It never was," agreed Ginny, who was relieved that Harry had stopped blaming himself for every little thing that went wrong, even though he had only done so because so many people around him got killed that he had grown numb and oddly accepting to it. Death tended to be horrific the first time. And the second time as well, but when it happened again and again, one would almost be resigned to it. Ginny felt the same way, having lost her six brothers and her parents to the war but Harry returned his study on the mysterious antique.
"Yes, an invention to be sure, but how does it work? What does it do?" asked Harry as he looked at the artifact, carefully studying it from every possible angle. Ginny also helped him, as an extra set of eyes did wonders. "Of course, it might not do anything, sometimes a fancy painted block of wood is just a fancy painted block of wood."
"Is this one of those times?" asked Ginny and Harry shook his head.
"The odd properties of this glass suggests differently, not giving off the slightest reflection, of course, it could be the only thing that is magic, until we run a few tests, it's hard to say what this antique would do," answered Harry as he looked over the artifact, he felt there was some significance to the markings and also the writing, but right now, he was unable to piece the pieces together.
"Harry, mind if I ask you a question?" asked Ginny carefully, as the events of this particular day had brought up a thought that had entered her mind more than once. Harry nodded in affirmative and Ginny took a deep breath, before she responded. "Would it be nice if one of these artifacts could…I don't know how to put this, but allow us to do everything all over again? Find a way to defeat Voldemort and stop a lot of deaths in the process. Don't you wish we could stumble upon something like that?"
"Nope," answered Harry curtly, as he turned to Ginny, before he held her hands. "I understand and admire the fact you wish for something like that. That's why I fell in love with you in the first place. But at the same time, I've learned to put the past behind me, what's done is done and I can't change anything that's happened. Besides, time travel is always a sketchy concept. Most of this is in theory but…"
"I know Harry, even one simple event could alter all of history and maybe create a more horrific reality than we got," said Ginny with a slow nod, it was tough to argue with Harry about things like this. "Still, you can't blame me for hoping."
"I don't blame you Ginny," responded Harry in a reassuring voice. "If I felt it would do me any good, I would be hoping right along with you for one more chance but the truth is, I know it won't do me any good. And even if it did happen, we change one thing and then the world could go in an infinite number of directions, including ones where we couldn't guess in a million years."
Ginny just responded with a nod, as she looked at the artifact. It remained silent and still for a brief second. Then, in an instant, about when Harry was going to put it away, there was a faint, but still audible, humming noise coming from the artifact.
"I don't like the sound of that," muttered Harry under his breath as he waited, hand on his wand and his wife doing the same, as the looked at the artifact. It began to vibrate on the table and they made a careful movement towards the exit but much to their shock, it had been sealed shut. Harry attempted to open the door but it was jammed. Ginny rushed over, in an attempt to assist, but their combined efforts were unable to open the door. The artifact continued to vibrate on the table and sparks flew out of it, as the table was slowly reduced to smoldering ashes.
"Shield charms," suggested Ginny hopefully as she watched the artifact begin to glow. It filled the room with a bright blue light that nearly blinded them when they looked right into it. They staggered back approximately a half of a step and Harry just nodded, as they both put up the shield charms, trying to overlap them, to stop whatever the artifact was doing.
The antique stopped vibrating but the two did not release their guard. Then in a flash, it burst into a bright ball of magical energy. Harry could barley make out the spinning of an hour glass and the images of several planets bursting from the hour glass. One of the orbs blasted through the shield, engulfing Harry and Ginny with a bright light that deadened all of their seconds. What was seconds in nothingness seemed like an eternity.
Then they felt as if they were being turned inside out and put back the correct way in the most painful manner possible, before their world once again temporarily went to black.
Harry's eyes snapped open, as he shook his head. He had a hell of a headache as he looked around. His first thought was he was most certainly not in the Department of Mysteries anymore. His second thought, he wondered if he was dead but he remembered how it felt when Voldemort threw the Killing Curse at him to remove the Horcrux inside of him. That was not the same kind of pain but he was not without a bit of agony.
"Okay I'm lying on a bed, that's nice, but where am I?" muttered Harry under his breath as he sat up, managing to gain his bearings long enough to look around the room, which was filled with shelves and shelves of books. A few of the titles seemed familiar and over on a desk right across the bed sat a neat stack of papers, with what appeared to be an edition of the Daily Prophet on the top and a slightly obscured picture frame, turned away where Harry could not see it from his vantage point. Harry took a few tentative steps forward, moving towards the desk. Leaning down, Harry turned the photograph around and he was taken aback with what he saw.
In the portrait was Harry, at age fifteen, with his parents and a girl that he had never even seen in his life. There were many differences, for one, Harry was not wearing glasses. Another one was that he did not look like a scrawny, underfed child that was a result of years of damage at the Dursleys. Perhaps the most vital difference was that there was no lighting bolt scar on his forehead. As for his parents, they looked a bit older than the pictures he had. However, other than the fact that his father's face was lined with scars and he wore a patch over his right eye, there were few noticeable differences.
The mystery girl on the other hand, looked to be a year or two older than Harry was in the picture. She had the same vivid green eyes that Harry and his mother had, with slightly unruly dark red hair. Harry continued to look around, the Unspeakable in him wanted to look for any clues that might point out what exactly had occurred and looking at the Daily Prophet might have given him a vital hint.
Fight between Dumbledore forces and rebels lay waste to buildings in London; Minister Umbridge intends to take harsher measures; Headmaster Riddle speaks out against Dumbledore.
Every word in that headline had brought Harry even more questions than he had answers. He sat down, closing his eyes deep in concentration. He had to reach Ginny, to make sure his wife was alright. Years ago, they went through a highly advanced and dangerous magical ritual to forge a mental link between them. A procedure that knocked them out for three days and left them weakened for several more. Still, the end result was worth it, but they had both agreed to only use it in emergencies because of the great deal of concentration.
"Ginny," thought Harry desperately. "Are you there?"
A moment's pause before Harry had even gotten an answer.
"Yes, Harry, I'm hear, you won't believe this," responded Ginny in a surprised voice. "I was knocked out and I woke up, in a mansion none the less."
"A mansion?" asked Harry mentally.
"Yes, the same type that someone as pretentious as Malfoy would live in but the area outside, it looks familiar," answered Ginny who seemed slightly upset and she could almost feel Harry giving her encouragement to continue. "The Burrow, Harry, they took it down and built a mansion over the top of it. Who could do such a thing?"
"I know Ginny, you must be devastated, that was your home, you lived there your entire life, even though it was wrecked, at least it was still standing," responded Harry. "But I don't think this is the Burrow."
"I recognize that village road anywhere and that tree, of course it's the Burrow, Harry," said Ginny in a stubborn voice.
"No, Ginny, I have a theory on what they artifact was that we were trying to work with in the Department of Mysteries," answered Harry over the mental link and he waited for it to sink in. "If my hunch is right, we might not be in our world."
"Why do you figure that?" asked Ginny but she began to understand that Harry's theory seemed valid. Harry was about to launch into his explanation but then Ginny saw a very familiar voice call for her. "Mum?"
Harry was caught off guard by this announcement. Mrs. Weasley had died, attempting to save her children from Bellatrix Lestrange. As any sane person would think, she was outmatched and slaughtered like a pig by the insane dark witch. Unfortunately, that little surprise was enough to break the connection and Harry moved over, before he cast a charm on the wall, briefly transfiguring it into a reflective surface. He looked at his reflection and sure enough his hunch was right.
There was no lightning bolt scar on his forehead, not even the slightest hint of one. The antique had transported both Harry and Ginny into an alternate world of some sort. He looked towards the window, before he mentally made a plan.
"Okay, a cushioning charm on that piece of ground should cause me to be able to land, so I can get out of here, find Ginny, and find a way split this popsicle stand," responded Harry, as he moved towards the door, using an opening charm but before he could open up the window, he heard the door behind him click open and he froze immediately and the door pushed open. This caused Harry to spin around, arm drawn as he fixed his eyes on the figure. It was the same girl from the picture on his table and she looked at Harry with a surprised look on her face.
"Easy, Harry, it's just me," said the girl as she looked at Harry, with a bit of relief on her face for some reason that Harry could not place. "You'd give someone the impression that you weren't glad to see them drawing your wand on them like that."
"Just who are you anyway?" asked Harry in his usual blunt manner as he looked at the girl.
"Now Harry, I didn't hit you in the head that hard with that Bludger," said the girl in a voice that had a hint of mock outrage in her voice. She was smiling as if Harry was having her on for some reason but then grew suddenly serious. "It really wasn't that hard, was it? Because I said I was sorry, even if you were kind of unconscious when I was saying it. You know how I get when I play Quidditch, it took you some coaxing to even play and now I feel bad about it."
"No I don't know, because I don't even know who you are," said Harry forcefully at the girl who took a step back, almost take aback by the look on Harry's face.
"Harry, I'm hurt really," said the girl in overly dramatic sorrow. Harry was reminded the twins for some reason at the way this girl was acting. "I can't believe even a Bludger to the head would make you forget your totally wicked and really awesome big sister."
And that's the end of the first chapter. I always found that the first chapter is the hardest to write for a story, as you really have nothing to build off of from previous chapters. That's why I'm so fond of cliffhangers, as resolving it really gets the creative juices flowing as I wrote the chapter.
As I mentioned in the intro, the universe where we start in the story is slightly AU and as you are beginning to see from the bits and pieces I've given you so far in this chapter, this alternate universe that Harry and Ginny got sent to is really far removed from canon. And we have just begun to scratch the surface boys and girls.
Now, do I think that this will achieve the level Aspirations did? I certainly hope so. I have some high aspirations (pardon the pun), for this story, but only time will tell. What I have in my head is interesting but exactly how that turns out on paper remains to be seen.
Well I've said enough for one set of author notes. See you again in the not so distant future for chapter two and beyond.