The bright sun made the flowers seem to glow. That glow was what called her outside, really. She'd seen Momma make the flowers grow bigger, and brighter, and a nugget inside her said she could do it, too! Then Momma would be so happy; and she could show Father and Abe and Al, too!
Anyone looking at the family of five would have seen the immediate resemblance of the youngest daughter to the father, Percival Dumbledore – both had fair skin, light grey eyes, and thick blonde hair. Her mother, Kendra, and her seven-year-old brother Aberforth and ten-year-old brother Albus all had a smattering of freckles, thick, curly red hair, and bright blue eyes. Already, Al was beginning to tower over momma, bearing father's reedy height; and Abe was just as runty as Al had been at that age, Momma said. She took more after Momma at least some: the round face, and the slender hands. Father said she looked like Grandmother, being slender and small.
It was this very doll-like quality that she possessed where the rest of her immediate family lacked that made it easy for her to go for hours unnoticed. It's what should have, she supposed later, gotten her in trouble.
The colors of the flowers, the dance of the butterflies, the butter-golden sunshine and the brisk summer breeze called her to dance. She was an honestly joyful child – pure and unselfish. To any Muggle watching, the tiny blonde child with the grey eyes and the voice like bells, dancing without music, and so improperly out in the open, she appeared to be like a nymph out of fairy tales. The village boys knew about her, but that didn't mean they weren't entranced by her antics. Three of the older boys slipped into the garden gate without the child realizing her audience.
They were the oldest boys in the village right now, at thirteen and fourteen years of age. Just beginning to see what the female population had to offer, they saw amazing things in the girl-child before them – things she had not offered, and at her age could not offer, but things nonetheless. The leader, a boy with mud-brown hair, hazel eyes, and a stocky frame, was just about to call out to her for them when it happened.
Sparkles of light glinted off her dress and hair like beads of dew, at first. Then those points of light fled to the far reaches of the garden – they coated everything. The lone tree in the yard, a simple sapling, grew three inches in height, an inch in width, and sprouted a heavy tree-full of shimmering blue-silver flowers that weighed the boughs down with rough groans. The flowers in the garden grew to twice their normal size, and the colors were so bright and blooms so big that one could get drunk off the sight and heady smell. The lone patches of dying grass that littered the inside of the gated area suddenly flowed green and full with vibrant life, rippling across the yard in a thick, lush emerald carpet. The wall of the house facing the garden seemed to return to the day which it was put together, the stones strong and uncrumbled, the beams smelling of sweet sap and no longer rotting, and the whitewash fresh and clear as a snowfield. And the boys… When the boys were covered with the glowing beads, they each sank to their hands and knees with heavy gasps and clouded sights, too preoccupied with the miniature sunbursts going on within them to notice one another.
The sound of their falls alerted the girl to their presence, and she took a small step in their direction, concern and confusion on her face in regards to their apparent weaknesses. With her distraction, the flowers shrank and dimmed to average colors and scents, the carpet of grass shrank once more wilted and pitiful, the blooms of the tree fluttered to the ground and dimmed to ordinary blue, and unblissful awareness returned to her audience.
The two brunette lads glanced at their leader, fear awe in their expressions. The skinnier of the two finally managed, "William, what d'you reckon tha' little imp just done t' us?"
His rough country bur wavered with uncertainty. But William's hazel eyes were only for the girl-child in front of him; he wanted to feel that again. He wanted to be that alive again, right now! William tossed over his shoulder, "Charlie, Richard – grab tha' witch-imp!"
Finally realizing the tone of the older boy's voice, and noting that the look in his eyes was by no means friendly, the girl back up a few steps, suddenly afraid. Her luck ran out when she tripped over her own two feet in her attempt to flee.
"You, there! Dumbledore-girl! Do that to me again! Now!"
When she whimpered, not making any spectacular effort to move, he began to advance on her. His threatening bulk, however, had hardly made it three steps before a shimmering began in the air. It was so similar to what had occurred before that he paused a moment to watch the spectacle.
What shimmered into existence was not the beads of light that gave rejuvenating life, though. Instead, it was a tall, skinny man in his early twenties. The black Auror robes whipping around his ankles was of a finer cloth than most in the small village could afford – that alone made him imposing. His messy black hair stirred in the wind, briefly uncovering a lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead that even the Muggles sensed was created in some hideous manner, and bright green eyes flashed angrily behind dragon horn-rimmed glasses. The wand he stored up his sleeve never came out, because, regardless of the power they had over the moment, they were still magicless Muggles. In his left hand glittered the gold-and-glass shell of a particularly large time-turner, its delicate chain securely fastened around his neck.
"Don't even think about it, you scum," his educated voice made them shake in their boots. "Obliviate! Leave this garden; you were never here, and you never saw anything out of the ordinary. Go now!"
Harry James Potter, not yet to be born for another ninety years, made his way carefully over to his blonde charge. Kneeling so he could better look her in the eyes, he murmured gently, "Hey, it's alright. Those Muggles won't hurt you, now. Neither will I; I give you my Oath as a wizard."
He held out a large hand, which she took, and together they rose from the ground of the garden. His green eyes scoured her small form worriedly. "You're not hurt, are you, little one?" Her tiny grip on his hand intensified, and she shook her head. She was fine, if a bit rattled.
Stowing the time-turner away inside his robes, Harry guided the child into her home. Once inside, he was met with four confused and slightly threatened magical people. Gently propelling the blonde behind him to protect her from any rashly thrown spells, he asked gently, "Excuse me, but do any of you realize that had I not shown up when I did, something very bad would've befallen this child? All at the hands of Muggle children who saw her work some accidental magic?"
He allowed her to flee to her mother, who had gasped sharply at the revelation. Aberforth quickly zeroed in on his sister, and began to look her over with their mother to ensure nothing had come of her outing. Albus stood resolutely beside his grave father, seeking to assist the man of the house with this stranger. Percival was the first to speak up, in a voice gruff with concern; though his grey eyes never left the green, his question was directed at his youngest.
"Did this man protect you, Ariana?"
Ariana Dumbledore blushed shyly and nodded. "Yes, Father."
Percival looked hard at the man who'd rescued his only daughter, and finally motioned to the kitchen table, "Have a seat, young man."
While Albus, Harry, and Percival sat, Kendra and Aberforth took Ariana up to her room. A few moments were spent listening to the muffled noises of the upstairs, and then Aberforth and Kendra reappeared and took their respective seats at the table. Percival raised an eyebrow at his sons, wordlessly asking that they leave, but Harry quickly cut in, "Please, Mister Dumbledore. What I have to say pertains the most to your son Albus, and the second-most to your son Aberforth. If anyone should listen to what I have to say, it is them. Please allow them both to hear me out?"
The blonde man stared at the youth who had entered his home and life unannounced – to be so outspoken was rude, especially to a host. But he did save Ariana, to all appearances, so Percival decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. He nodded for Harry to continue.
Harry inclined his head in gratitude and then looked at them all in earnest, revealing the time-turner in a flash of gold light. "This is a time-turner. It allows the user to go back in time when they turn the hourglass. I am from the distant future."
The family stared at Harry confused and somewhat distrustful. He saw that they weren't about to jump him for blasphemy or lies right that minute, and used the chance to try and explain himself.
"My name is Harry James Potter, and I was born on July 31, 1980. I came back here in an attempt to right a wrong which had been done so many years before my time – a last-ditch effort on my part to reconcile a bad past with my Headmaster, and to save many lives in the process. But since I stopped little Ariana Dumbledore from being hurt, I have also stopped Albus Dumbledore from ever taking the path that he is known for taking in my timeline, which would immediately interfere in my birth, considering it was by his actions that my parents actually fell in love."
Kendra Dumbledore was staring at him in pure confusion; Percival Dumbledore was beginning to glare at him for barging in and telling outrageous lies to his family; and Albus was staring at him with wide blue eyes, unbelieving and uncomprehending. Aberforth finally spoke up, seeing the rest of his family at a loss.
"Mister Harry, if you won't be born 'cause Al won't make your parents fall in love, how can you even be here to change anything?"
Harry looked at Aberforth, surprised such a complex situation would make sense to the young boy.
"Most time-turners are much smaller, and the turns indicate only hours into the past, but this particular one has been magically enhanced to travel years back. Part of being able to travel so far back is that I only have so much time here before the magic returns me to my time – where as normally one would just wait-out the hours passed. Also, being such a leap backwards, it also has a much greater domino-effect on the far future – in this case the fact that I cease to exist. When I get pulled back to my time, it will be pulling me back into my dimension, a place where I never interfered, and this dimension will be left to its own devices and its own new path. That way, I can still come here and help create a world where I won't actually make it into existence."
Now Aberforth and Kendra were nodding slowly. Percival looked a little more convinced, but Harry knew if he didn't get to the point soon, he'd be hexed into oblivion by an irate father. Albus had retreated behind a passive face and blank eyes to finish hearing Harry out – given enough time, Harry could see how the man could develop those sparkling, deceptive eyes of his.
"The tale I'm about to spin for you is by no means untrue," Harry began, warning the family carefully, but feeling they needed to hear his reasons for doing something so incredibly dangerous, "even though it will not happen to you because of what I've done. It is gruesome and heartbreaking – a heavier burden than the weight of the world for both Albus and Aberforth Dumbledore. Take what I am going to tell you, and use the knowledge to build a better future for yourselves than the one you've created in my dimension."
"Today, had I not come," he stared grimly, "those Muggle boys would have attacked Ariana viciously, seeking to force her to redo the accidental magic she'd just done. None of you would have gotten to her soon enough, and the attack would leave her traumatized and broken. Unable to use her magic any longer, but just as unable to get rid of it, today Ariana Dumbledore would've taken her first step into literal madness. Her magic would be prone to random, violent, uncontrolled bursts at times, while most of the time she remained a docile, sweet, caring child.
"Percival Dumbledore went after the boys in revenge, and hexed them thoroughly, earning himself a life-sentence in Azkaban Prison. Kendra, Aberforth, and Albus Dumbledore all moved with Ariana into Godric's Hollow, a place where no one would know them, and kept Ariana locked up in that house for the safety of herself and everyone around her.
"Throughout this all, Albus and Aberforth went to school to hone their magic, while their mother devoted herself to her poor, mad child all alone. On the day of Albus' graduation, a burst of magic from Ariana killed Kendra, and left Albus as the sole caregiver to both his siblings. Over the next three years as Aberforth completed his education, Albus crumbled emotionally, the strain of caring for a younger brother and a helpless sister, without a parent, too much for him. Even so, when Aberforth offered to be the caregiver for Ariana, Albus declined, saying it was his job as the eldest to support the family.
"A new neighbor would be the outlet Albus was looking for – spending more time with him than his siblings. Their common bond was a belief in the Deathly Hallows, and they spent a long summer searching for clues. Shortly, they fell in love, separating Albus further from his position as head-of-household. When an argument between the three over Ariana reached a dueling ferocity, they faced off against each other. Ariana, always watching her brothers, saw the fight and stepped literally in the middle of it in an attempt to quell the fighting. None of them ever figured out which spell sealed her fate, but that day Ariana Dumbledore died, and the relationships of Albus and Aberforth, and Albus and his lover both shattered.
"Over the coming years, Albus fought off the man he'd loved, seeing how the man had been more Dark-inclined, and in his ache for companionship Albus had not seen it. Finally, in the year 1945, Albus Dumbledore became a legend for taking down the darkest Wizard known to the world at the time.
"He became the Headmaster to Hogwarts, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, located somewhere in Scotland. Never seeking to rise to a higher position in the world, he humbled himself as a teacher of children. He hoped to use his position to turn potential Dark Wizards away from temptation, to try and make up for his mistakes with his lover and his sister.
"Then in the 1960's, another Dark wizard rose out of the woodwork. It got so bad so quickly, and he was so powerful, that the masses began referring to him as He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The only one he ever feared was Albus Dumbledore, himself – the proclaimed Leader of the Light. When the Dark Wizard heard a prophecy foretelling his defeat, he struck in 1981. He killed my parents, and attempted to kill me – he gave me this cursed scar instead.
"Albus, fearing for my life, sent me to live with my only relatives – Muggles who happened to be as anti-magic as anyone can get. I grew up not believing in magic, underfed and unloved. When I finally arrived at Hogwarts in my eleventh year of life, I was introduced into a world who heralded both Albus and myself as savior of the world.
"Over the seven years I should have spent at Hogwarts in safety, I met with life-threatening danger every year. Hardly anything was revealed to me, and I discovered later that Albus had purposely planted those dangers in the hopes that I'd grow strong enough to defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. In my sixth year, he was killed just as my loathing for him and his meddlesome ways was reaching a breaking point. I spent my seventh year not in school, but out in the real world, hunting down the menace that was my Dark enemy.
"It was only just recently, a few years after all that, that I learned the precise 'why' behind the bland face of the Leader of the Light. I came here not in any effort to make it up to him, but because I felt for the little girl named Ariana Dumbledore. I know what it's like to be abused, and her abuse was the shattering point in her life. And perhaps, if she had lived well, the man named Albus Dumbledore would need never to meddle in the lives of others so wildly.
"I did this for her; but I told the tale for you. So that this family does not make the same mistakes that broke apart your lives. Take my advice, and leave well enough alone – the boys have been taken care of; your daughter need never be watched in madness; your son only went the way he did because he felt like it was all his fault; and if your family stays together, there is no need for you to infringe on others existences." Harry looked sharply at every person at the table, hoping his words were not in vain.
A sudden rush of magic rolled over the kitchen, and only two years as an Auror – and seven-plus as the Boy-Who-Lived – saved him from the effects as he threw up a non-verbal shield. The others slumped lifelessly to the table. Green eyes flashed to the hallway and met with solemn grey ones. Ariana, even tinier in her nightgown, walked over to Harry and sighed.
"Mister Harry, I heard what you said."
Her eyes seemed older than his own, and it was unsettling. Her experience, the tale, her wash of magic just now… whichever it was, something had changed her. She was different.
"Oh?" he turned and faced her small form. She opened up her arms, acting her age at least here, and he picked her up and settled her in his lap. She nodded, biting her lip.
"They don't need to 'member what you said. They'll be good. And I will be the Headmistress at Hogwarts for you. As a thank you for helping me with those boys, with that future." Her voice was soft and timid.
Harry glanced at the slumped forms again, and then back at Ariana, "You made them forget on purpose?" Just to be sure, "You directed your magic?"
She nodded. "I won't call on so much anymore, so that the bigger kids won't try to hurt me again, either. I promise."
Harry Potter's green eyes narrowed as he studied the child in his arms. He finally murmured, "You will be the Leader of the Light here, Ariana, not Albus. You have so much potential in you; I am now convinced I've done the right thing by coming here. Just… don't let it go to your head, okay?"
She smiled at him and hopped off his lap. "Okay, Mister Harry James Potter."
He blinked, as her eyes sparkled. The little marauder-at-heart wanted to throw him off balance!
He felt a tug at his navel, and she waved, her eyes carefully looking him over. She had a future ahead of her. His last sight of her was how her golden hair swayed in the magical wind of his transportation, and how her grey eyes danced with knowledge she shouldn't have, and innocent laughter she wouldn't contain.
Landing in a heap in the Headmaster office of Hogwarts, Harry Potter, recently retired Auror and recent Headmaster of his old school, glanced up at a portrait on the wall. It was a wizened wizard with long white hair and beard, and dancing blue eyes behind half-moon glasses. Dusting off his robes, and transfiguring them back into casual wear, Harry announced to the room at large in a quiet, commanding voice, not meeting any painted gaze, "It worked. Now you can let it go, Headmaster."
"Ariana Kendra Sarah Dumbledore lives on."