Breaking your reality and substituting it with my own
Disclaimer: Not mine and I make no profit.
My beta is MakalaMea. Thank you for your help!
Time is, overall, a remarkably resilient thing. Unlike Ray Bradbury would have you thinking, stepping on a butterfly in Jurassic era would not cause a fascist candidate named Deutscher win the presidential election instead of a nicer guy called Keith. Even seeing your past self – or future self, depending from your point of view and who does the viewing – can be smoothed over and assimilated into the timeline under right circumstances. A timeline is every time at once, everything that has already happened at some point, so to break it would take serious levels of meddling.
Still, it wasn't quite as hard to break as the Department of Mysteries knew thought, or they would hopefully have been more careful with their magical artifacts. After all, when someone does manage to cause a time paradox, no one can tell it happened, because as far as they know, things have always been the way they are now.
That having been said, giving a time turner to a third year student, however responsible and forewarned, was a bad idea. Giving it to an adult would have been a bad idea nine hundred and ninety-nine times out of a thousand.
Hermione Granger had, for a second, when she was first handed the very lovely, steampunk-stylish timetravel necklace, entertained the thought of going back to the time when Voldemort was still alive and, well, doing something. Anyone would have. But partly because she had no idea who Voldemort had been before becoming Lord Voldemort and partly because of the stern warnings she had been given about causing temporal paradoxes and what the consequences might be, it had only been for a second. She had entertained the thought a second time when she realized that her best friend's parents' best friend had betrayed them, causing Harry to have to live as an orphan with the magic-hating Dursleys. But again she stayed her hand, mostly because of the consequences and partly because, well, what was she going to do? Kill Black? She didn't think she could kill, even for Harry.
Besides, the adults hadn't used it for those purposes and there was no way no one had thought about it. They knew better so she shouldn't try it either.
So she attended all her classes and seriously stressed herself out. There were also the emotionally very draining arguments with Harry over his new broom being confiscated and Ron over her cat having apparently eaten his rat to consider. Not to mention the impending death of poor Buckbeak because of Draco's power play and fragile pureblood ego. Then, over the course of one hectic night, Ron was abducted by an enormous black hound that turned out to be Sirius Black in animagus form, her favourite professor Lupin turned out to be in cahoots with him, and Ron's rat hadn't been eaten after all, but turned out to be Peter Pettigrew instead. Then professor Snape intervened and in the end Pettigrew escaped, almost causing Sirius to receive a Dementor's kiss after a terrible, mind-searing attack of at least a hundred Dementors. It was all insane.
Hermione, when she tried to fall asleep in the infirmary that night, still high from adrenalin, wasn't in the most stable, reasonable state of mind.
And she missed her alarm clock from home. It had light blue, glowing numbers and the glow always calmed her down when she had difficulties sleeping. She had brought it with her the first year, but the aura of magic that permeated the school had killed the batteries instantly.
She stared the ceiling, her eyes falling shut again and again, but sleep eluded her. She had way too much time to think, and when she dreamed she dreamed of nightmares. First she was watching a trial of an unknown man. It was a muggle trial and the judge had a funny-looking white wig: She wasn't sure those were even used anymore; she had never seen a trial and it looked kind of old-fashioned. While she was puzzling over that, the accused man turned his head and she realized he was Sirius Black. The prosecutor was accusing him of a long string of ridiculous little things, like doing graffiti and flying on a broom without brakes and lights, but with the sickening surety you can have only in dreams she knew that the last offence on the list would be the betrayal of Harry's parents and the mass murder of muggles he hadn't committed. She tried to scream that he was innocent, that he had been framed, but then it was she who was sitting there with the entire court room eyeing her with contempt.
"Ms Granger, your crimes have been truly atrocious," the judge said and pushed his glasses up his short, thick nose. "I am sentencing you to life time in Azkaban."
She tried to protest, but hard hands grabbed her and dragged her to the Dementors and the chilling feeling of all joy and hope vanishing from the world washed over her, the knowledge that she would be better off dead...
She woke up shivering and panting, her face wet with tears, her pajamas drenched in cold sweat. She couldn't understand how Sirius could have endured all those years and survived. Cold, dim veil blurred the dark infirmary in her eyes and she realized it was tears. A sob escaped her and she was afraid she was going to cry and wail her eyes out and wake up Harry and Ron. It was wrong! He hadn't done it! Blindly her fingers found the time turner from the table beside her bed.
She clutched it against her chest and she hesitated. One bed away from her, Ron slept peacefully, red hair sticking every which way, and one bed away from him was Harry. It was hard to say for sure in the dark room, but Hermione thought she saw a frown on his face. Maybe he was having bad dreams too. She thought about waking him, but he had to be so tired and she wasn't sure. He would want to help save Sirius, but her necklace was only good for one user. Besides, if she succeeded this would never happen at all; retroactive nightmare control. Her mouth tight, grim line, she set the time turner and activated it.
Had she just given a second try to keeping Pettigrew from escaping, it wouldn't have been so bad. It was a very recent development, so not much had occurred at all and nothing or no one had been changed irrevocably. But Hermione wanted more than that. She wanted to save Sirius from the prison and Harry's parents' lives and Harry from the Dursleys. She just wanted everybody to be happy.
Air fractured where Hermione had been. Time fractured in her footsteps.
Magic often isn't fair at all. It follows its own rules the same way science does and it doesn't care if it screws someone along the way any more than gravity does.
He had been terrified, elated, terrified, furious and relieved in the space of few hours, all this in addition to the physical side of things, and so when everything was over Harry fell asleep almost before his head hit the pillow. He was sure an earthquake couldn't wake him until he had slept at least nine hours. Despite this when a strange, almost painless jolt struck through Harry like a lightning bolt and when he heard terrible roar in his ears, he woke up instantly. He woke up to nothing at all.
He hadn't slept nine hours, he was pretty sure of that even before he opened his eyes, but he wasn't tired and it wasn't night anymore. He had come to know the ceiling of the infirmary very well, all the thin lines and darker spots above every bed, and that ceiling wasn't above him now. At first, he thought he was in a different room, but it was funny how the ceiling seemed to be so close that he could touch it. Then he realized it was no ceiling, because if it was it curved around him, and under him, he had to be touching it, right? Even though he couldn't really feel it. He wasn't warm, but he wasn't cold either. He was half sitting, pushing himself up, on nothing at all. Everything was flat, somehow, everywhere around him like he had been transferred into a two-dimensional picture. It was a whitish-grayish world with no different hues or shadings, no textures, no nothing. His mouth tasted like bile. Harry turned around, but there were no other people. Only him, all alone.
"Um. Is anyone here? Anyone!" he called. There was no answer.
Harry waited then. It probably wasn't very long time, but it was hard to say for sure. He felt like time was stretching like chewing gum and at the same time he could almost hear the clock ticking away. At first he wasn't too worried, just stood up on the thankfully solid, weight-bearing nothing, but nothing just kept happening. Harry had a bad feeling about it all.
"Ron! Hermione!" he shouted. His voice didn't echo, didn't carry; it was almost like it was dampened by a thick, woolen blanket. "Dumbledore!" Nothing. He tried Sirius and professor Lupin. In a fit of true desperation he called for Snape, halfway sure that the man would appear so he could rub Harry's face in the fact that he had called the man for help, but even that hope was in vain.
Harry stumbled forward, shaking. He wasn't sure what he was standing on, why he wasn't sinking through the nothingness, or maybe he was sinking, but couldn't feel it… He ran. He thought he ran, but there wasn't any feeling of motion, no air brushing against him, no different ground under his feet, nothing he could run towards or away from, and in the end he wasn't sure he was moving anywhere at all.
How was he supposed to feel about being dead? He didn't want to be dead; he was too young to die. He hadn't even had a girlfriend yet and Voldemort was still lurking in the shadows. He had wanted to catch Pettigrew and go live with Sirius. He hadn't done anything with his life yet, hadn't traveled anywhere or picked a career, let alone gotten one. But this wasn't so horrible.
Yet. A small, nasty voice whispered into his ear that a year or so alone in nothing and he would be asking for mercy killing.
But he was already dead. Er, right?
"Am I dead?" he asked with a horrified whisper. Was this death? This vast nothingness he was alone in? Had Pettigrew returned and finished his job?
NO you aRE nOt deAd TImE breAkinG to -Nn:nNN:nn- to h-hElp
And Harry KNEW.
He saw sobbing, terrified, shocked Hermione in the past, saw her fighting to become the master of her reeling feelings again, saw her succeeding and resuming her task with grim determination and he saw how it played out.
She convinced Sirius she was from the future. Harry's parents didn't die because they weren't found, but because Voldemort didn't try to murder little Harry he wasn't defeated either. When Harry Potter came to Hogwarts, with a prophesy he didn't know of, hadn't known of, hanging over his head unfulfilled, the European and African wizarding world was one big war zone and it was slowly spreading to Asia and the Americas also. And this was true. But because Sirius Black hadn't been unfairly sentenced to Azkaban, hadn't driven Hermione into the past to change it, this hadn't happened at all. But Peter Pettigrew had become the secret keeper and betrayed his parents and the wizarding world had lived in peace. Sirius had been sentenced to Azkaban and when Hermione found out she had changed the past and his parents didn't die…
It had been too big a jump in time to fix itself, too much had happened in between. It looped, looped, looped forever and ever and ever in front of Harry's terrified eyes. And if he had been afraid to find out he was dead and death was a hell of nothingness, now he knew what true fear was. What was he supposed to do? That was no life. It was twisted existence without purpose or end.
He saw bits and pieces, but more were just shoved into his brains like old shoes to the bottom of a cupboard, or little Harry. Bad memories there.
And then, there was the prophesy.
The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches. … Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies … and the Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not … and either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives. … The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord will be born as the seventh month dies…
This was the prophecy Dumbledore had alluded to earlier, but kept the whole truth from him. But it hadn't even needed to be him, necessarily. One other had been born who checked all the boxes: Neville Longbottom. Harry knew with chilling sense of foreboding that while he was important, he wasn't irreplaceable.
He was the linchpin; Hermione's only link to Sirius Black, Sirius' sole link to the legacy that was the Boy Who Lived, the reason Voldemort had killed and Pettigrew had betrayed his family. A huge chunk of time had to be removed to make the time flow again and removing Harry was the easiest way to do it. Like he had seen in the loop, he saw his mother and father, and if seeing them like that was the only time he would ever see them wasn't traumatizing enough, he knew he also saw himself NOT being begotten. He could see inside in fleshy colours, like a picture in a biology book except a lot grosser, and the small, tiny spot that was an egg… a hole called the stigma hadn't formed in the follicle, and the ovum hadn't left it. The explanation was shoved into his mind. Eugh.
"I was booted out of time?" he whispered. Things like that just didn't happen. And for a heartbeat, as searing, as acidic and hot and out of control as a forest fire was his hate for Hermione. Then grief and finally, finally tears washed over it. But before he could develop full-blown hysterics, something bright and jewel-coloured flew past him. He blinked the blurry tears away and desperately followed it with his eyes, but before he had enough time to run after it he was surrounded by whole flock of them.
"Pyreflies?" he whispered, disbelieving. He remembered one summer when Dudley had gotten, again, a huge pile of brightly wrapped presents. He had torn the papers off, played with everything once and then promptly forgotten about it. Harry would have, well, maybe not killed, but at least seriously maimed for a single one of them.
One of those gifts had been a Playstation game - Final Fantasy X – and it had been his favourite. Harry hadn't been allowed to play with it of course, but he had watched when Dudley had played, again and again with tenacity very uncharacteristic to the plump boy, until he had gotten to the end and defeated Sin. Harry's heart had raced when the Besaid Aurochs had won their first match in ten years, he had hated Seymour with intensity that had worried him a bit and felt for Yuna and Tidus so much he had almost cried. Before receiving his Hogwarts letter, this virtual reality had been the saving grace of the past year. Pyreflies had been prevalent throughout the world of Spira and if Harry had understood it right, they were some sort of lifeforce and spiritual energy, and at times ghosts or spirits of the dead as well.
"Don't tell me they got that right," he whispered. Was he now some kind of Unsent? Was that the reason he was in this place? His body felt strangely heavy and drained.
The pyreflies were flying balls seemingly made of bright energy, in all the hues of the rainbow and several that couldn't be found there, dazzling around him. He looked at one that hovered by his head a little while and it was like space and his perception bent, dragging him in. Sky turned into a whirlpool through which he fell down, some great, strange music filling his head, like the steady beating of a drum. There was up and down again! Harry had never known what a blessed thing having up and down was before the difference had disappeared. It was a world full of ground and sky and other people. He was there and Hogwarts, and he had barely realized that when he fell through the roof like a ghost and the it was above him, enchanted to look like an indigo night sky with thousands of silver stars. Within that green and silver ball he saw a world where… Dumbledore was secretly a dark wizard and he was a lovechild his mother had had with Snape.
Shocked and disgusted, Harry snapped out of it. Before he could truly even comprehend what he had just seen another flew past him, quick, but still catching his eyes. It was burnt okra and deep red, and for a fleeting second he saw himself as adopted son of a… Somalian warlord?
"What the hell?" he asked and that world disappeared also. He… didn't feel better, exactly, but he was distracted.
The glittering jewelry worlds just kept getting stranger and stranger, full of goblins and strange powers and most surprisingly meeting and getting adopted by Dracula, with alarming regularity too. And that Snape-thing happened way too often for his peace of mind. And Sirius was his godfather, why couldn't he seem to get Harry without resorting to kidnapping – though those had ended surprisingly well. As the miniature worlds became more and more removed from his own he saw a steel shine grey and a bright red one. It first caught his eye because its flight pattern was different from the others': less flighty, more precise and measured. And inside it were giant, flying robots fighting each other. Now well and truly baffled, but not disgusted or horrified this time, he reached towards it. Barely his fingertips touched it when everything bent again, this time even his insides.
In a timeline that was whole again, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger met a boy named Neville Longbottom and his white owl, Polaris, on the train to Hogwarts. Two years later infamous Death Eater Bellatrix Lestrange escaped from Azkaban, sending the Wizarding Britain into panic. She was guilty of everything she had ever been accused of and several other crimes to boot. She attempted to kill Neville and received the Dementor's kiss for he efforts.
"Good riddance to bad rubbish," Ron said and tried to be comforting in a manly way. Even Hermione, who thought that collaborating with beings like Dementors was insanity and morally very questionable – sucking out people's souls, anyone thinking that is right? – nodded hesitantly. Neville remembered his dead mother and his father who had been tortured to insanity and felt a little vindicated, but also very hurt. An old wound had been opened and scourged clean.
James and Lily Potter had a daughter named Helen who was one year younger than the Golden Trio and the best friend of Ginny Weasley. Sirius Black was her godfather. They also had a red-haired son named Harry, three years younger than his sister, and his godfather was Remus Lupin. Peter Pettigrew's true colours had been discovered shortly after the death of Alice Longbottom when Lucius 'I was under Imperio' Malfoy had named him. This was the way it had always been now. No one missed the Boy Who Never Existed.
No one except for one girl.
Magic didn't exist. Thus, Lily Evans hadn't been a witch and since that hadn't escalated their silly sibling rivalry into something more painful and serious she had remained close to her sister Petunia. When she and her husband James Potter had died in a car crash, little Harry had been only one year old. Petunia and Vernon had adopted him and Harry Dursley had grown loved and pampered much like his brother Dudley.
He hadn't known any hardship in his life unless, not getting the newest Mobile Wars game for his birthday counted as hardship. His parents had no interest in politics beyond the embargo that kept Grunnings from importing important – and very expensive – Zero G construction equipment to the colonies. His father always grumbled about how the authorities intervened with an honest man trying to earn his living, his mother agreed and he didn't pay much attention. He had gone to Smeltings, his father's alma mater, and liked it well enough despite the mortally embarrassing school uniform. Really, what kind of sick and twisted man would invent a uniform consisting of a maroon tailcoat, orange knickerbockers, a boater and a knobbly stick? Harry wasn't quite as bad as Dudley; he wasn't a bully for one thing, and he wasn't the type to throw a tantrum like he was a five-year-old because his Knickerbocker glory didn't have enough ice cream on top. Still, he wasn't the type to become a hero either. He was much too ordinary and spoiled and, well, shallow. A very typical privileged teenager.
Not so much anymore. In the dorm room he shared with his brother, Harry Potter woke up. His head was spinning when two different sets of lifetimes of memories tried to make themselves at home and not get mixed up, with questionable results. No magic, no good. Sirius raised bulldogs, right? No, that was horrible Aunt Marge! Sirius was alive… and back at wherever he was that his time was in from here. Ambiguous. War with the colonies, even worse. Dumbledore had lied to him, oh hell, or at least kept something secret that he shouldn't have. Dursleys were nice to him, that was good, but... and his thoughts came to a screeching halt. He was a Dursley!
"Oh shit." He was a Dursley.
Timelines aren't sentient entities, exactly, though the human mind may comprehend them as such under certain circumstances. But had Harry Potter's first timeline been sentient, it would have been unbearably smug and exhibited a conspicuous sense of self-satisfaction. Your problem now, it might have crowed to the new timeline.
Harry Potter had been best friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. He had been closer to both of them separately than Harry Dursley was to all his friends put together, but did they even exist in this new world? And even if they did it, would never be the same. Numb with the shock he stared up, without seeing the ceiling. All fear and anger, grief and determination and wonder had fled, leaving him empty and exhausted. I wish, he thought dimly before the haze of unconscious swallowed him, that I could have something just for me. And everything went black.
Magic hadn't existed in this world, but now there was one bright magic core, for once unhampered by the shadow of a dark soul that had clung to it like a leech for twelve years. Magic cores weren't sentient either, but if they had been, this one would have been eager to show off. Harry didn't have wand anymore, but that was only a focus to ease the casting. Some magical children exhibited mild degrees of control over their accidental magic, rather than half accidentally helped animals escape from zoo, and were able to use it with intent, even if not to cast specific spells, and Harry Potter was one very powerful teenager.
A lot is needed to breach the walls between dimensions, but the walls between these two had recently been weakened and still remembered the touch of this magic. Harry wanted something special. His magic delivered.
AN: Just for claritys sake, this isn't exactly time travel. Harry ended up in a different dimension that just happens to be a few centuries more advanced than his original one.
Also, I don't bash anyone. I don't hate Hermione, I just think that giving a teenager something that can cause time paradoxes really wasn't all that bright. She didn't mean to do it.