Disclaimer: I don't own Harry Potter. Also, this fic is based on Aya Macchiato's story 'Harry Potter and the Gift of the Morrighan'. With permission!

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A Necessary Gift: A Harry Potter Story

Prologue

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A/N: This story follows the books until the moment of Voldemort's defeat. Then events diverge.

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Harry's life consisted of a series of unlikely events. Faced with basilisks, Dark Lords, and killing curses, the only certainty to be had was that he would never be normal. So while Harry had dared to hope that once Voldemort was defeated, peace would follow, it was inevitable that the opposite turned out to be the case.

The idea of Pureblood Superiority did not die alongside Voldemort. The Death Eaters remained in control of the Ministry and, in the chaos following the Dark Lord's defeat, managed to free those who had been captured during the battle at Hogwarts. They quickly made their power felt, passing dozens of laws supporting purebloods and suppressing Muggle rights. The Death Eater regime met with little resistance from the public; their bigoted beliefs were popular and had gained legitimacy over the previous year. Those who would have protested had already been silenced. Only a handful of witches and wizards joined the Order in fighting back, but those who did were vilified, hunted down and even killed by the Ministry.

Harry, his friends, the DA, and the Order found themselves alone in their fight against an entire society. There was simply no way for them to win; for three years after Voldemort's death they continued their futile struggle, losing too many good people with nothing to show for it. The Death Eaters' control over the Ministry was unshakeable, Hogwarts was a school for the Dark Arts, and there were only a handful of Muggleborns in Britain left alive.

After the capture and execution of eleven Order members, among them Neville Longbottom and George Weasley, the small group of survivors finally admitted to themselves what had been obvious for years - they had lost the war. The remaining Order and DA members, along with their families, decided to leave Britain and restart their lives far away from the memories of death and bloodshed. They scattered across the globe, no more than a handful going to any one place as a precaution against their locations being discovered. Seamus, Dean and Ginny picked Canada; Andromeda took Teddy and moved to Romania with Charlie Weasley (a pairing which raised a few eyebrows); and Arthur and Molly decided to travel to Brazil for a second honeymoon and to recover from losing yet another of their sons. Eventually Harry, Hermione and Ron were the only ones left on British soil.

"Sure you don't want to come with us, mate?" Ron asked again. "Maybe you and Ginny could-"

"No, Ron." Harry shook his head. His relationship with Ginny was over for good and while he would miss Ron and Hermione, he was firm on not going to Australia with them to join the search for Hermione's parents.

"I just don't get why not," Ron said.

"It's not too late to change your mind, you know," Hermione added.

Harry sighed. "I told you. The Death Eaters won't stop hunting me and I don't want my presence putting you two in danger." That wasn't his only reason, but it was the one he thought they'd accept.

"Oh Harry!" Hermione lunged forward and smothered him in a hug. "You never change, do you?"

"Well, I'm taller than when we first met," Harry joked as he hugged her back.

Ron snorted. "Not by much. You're still a midget compared to me."

The three friends grinned at each other. The nature of their friendship may have changed over the years - an inevitable result of fighting a war and Ron and Hermione starting a relationship - but some things stayed the same.

"Take care of yourself, Harry," Hermione said fretfully, no doubt picturing all the trouble Harry could get into if left to his own devices. "Oh dear, maybe we should stay…"

Ron groaned and rolled his eyes. "Here we go again."

"I'll be fine," Harry said. "You should go, Hermione. Find your parents, settle down, marry Ron and have a dozen red-haired children."

"Well if you insist…" Hermione gave him a wobbly smile and dried her eyes. "I'll miss you."

"I'll miss you, too," Harry said. "Good luck, both of you. Name your first son after me, yeah?"

Ron clapped Harry on the shoulder. "That's a promise, mate."

Moments later Ron and Hermione disapparated, leaving Harry standing alone in the entrance hall of the Order headquarters.

If he were brutally honest with himself, Harry knew there was nothing left for him here in Britain. Yet he couldn't bring himself to leave it all behind. How had it come to this? How had everything gone wrong? How had he fulfilled the Prophecy, but lost the war? He obsessed over every wrong decision and missed opportunity, trying to find answers.

Surely he or Dumbledore or someone could have chosen a different path and prevented such a terrible outcome. Surely there was something he could still do, some way to keep fighting, some strategy he'd overlooked. That was the real reason Harry had decided not to join his friends - for him the war wasn't over yet. He simply couldn't imagine happily living his life somewhere far away, complete with a wife, children and a white picket fence, while Voldemort's followers ruled Britain.

Instead he had decided to stay in Grimmauld Place and to wait for any chance of bringing down the Ministry. His self-imposed isolation was mostly spent practicing spells he found in the Black library and drinking too much – while always hearing Hermione's voice in his head nagging him to put down the firewhisky and sober up. The loneliness and sheer tedium were almost too much to take, but forays into the muggle world kept him sane and gave him a sense of purpose. That was one thing he could still do – save as many Muggleborns as possible.

He kept watch for any rumours of magic and occasionally managed to find young children who had yet to be identified and arrested by Snatchers for the ludicrous crime of 'stealing magic'. Harry visited the families and got them out of the country, either through honest persuasion or the use of compulsion spells. Each life saved renewed his determination to stay.

The news he managed to get from stolen copies of the Daily Prophet suggested that the Ministry had abandoned its search for the so-called criminal Order members. The bounty on Harry's head was cut in half and then halved again, with the Death Eaters seemingly deciding that he was no longer important. Harry even began entertaining the idea that he might manage to survive long enough to see Ron, Hermione and his other friends again one day.

Which was what made the attack, when it came, so very unexpected.

Harry didn't know who killed him. All he heard was a voice crying out "Avada Kedavra" while his back was turned, not giving him enough time to even draw the Elder Wand from his pocket. Nor did he have any idea how his attacker had found him as travelled in the crowded Muggle underground. The truth behind his murder would have to remain yet another unsolved mystery it seemed, as upon opening his eyes he found himself lying flat on his back in the middle of a ghostly Kings Cross Station. He was dead - again.

Harry scrambled to his feet and cautiously looked around. Thick fog swirled through the platform, making it hard to see anything, but after a while he spotted a small figure approaching through the white mist. It wasn't Dumbledore this time, perhaps because Harry - unfairly or otherwise - blamed most of the war's disastrous outcome on his old Headmaster. Instead he found himself faced with an over-excited House-Elf.

"Oh Harry Potter, sir! You has arrived!" Dobby exclaimed loudly, his voice echoing along the empty platform. "Dobby is so glad to be seeing the great and noble Harry Potter once again!"

"Er… hello, Dobby," Harry said, staring down at the small being he hadn't seen in over three years. The elf was just as he remembered him, wearing mismatched socks, a yellow and purple striped scarf around his neck, and a bright red tea-cosy as a hat. Overwhelmed with affection for the odd being, Harry knelt down on the hard tiled floor and hugged him. "Thanks, Dobby," Harry said. "Thank you so much for everything."

"No need to be thanking Dobby, Harry Potter sir!" The elf's ears flapped wildly as he bounced on his toes. "Dobby is proud of having protected sir and his Grangy and Wheezy."

Harry slowly stood back up. "You're a great friend, Dobby."

Death seemed to have calmed the elf somewhat, since Harry's words didn't cause him to burst into tears of happiness. His already manic smile became even wider and his bouncing more energetic, but he otherwise contained himself. "Dobby is not having much time, Harry Potter! Dobby must be giving you a message before you is leaving."

Harry frowned. "I suppose that means I'm still not completely dead then." It was ridiculous - he'd been hit by three killing curses in his short twenty-something years of life and not a one of them had worked. Not that Harry wanted to die, of course, but he didn't like there being yet another reason for him to be considered a freak. If this was the consequence of mastering all three Hallows, Harry wished he had destroyed the things while he'd had the chance.

"Harry Potter's mind is being very much alive," Dobby told him, "but Harry Potter's body is most dead. The bad wizard is chanting nasty spells and burning it."

"Huh." Harry puzzled over Dobby's words. "They seem to have learned something from the last time, then. Does that mean I can't go back? Not that I'd be likely to live long, what with the bounty on my head and everything, but I'd like to spend more time with my friends…"

"Harry Potter cannot go back, but he cannot yet go on," Dobby said. "Harry Potter must go to a new world, where he can die properly!"

Harry was overwhelmed by what he was hearing, but understood enough to be angry at the injustice of it all. "What? Are you honestly telling me I have to be killed all over again! I've already died twice, isn't that enough?"

"Not killed!" Dobby's tennis-ball eyes grew even wider. "Never killed. Dobby is wanting Harry Potter to be safe and happy and wrinkled!"

"Wrinkled? You mean old?"

Dobby nodded enthusiastically. "Very wrinkled!"

"Well, dying of old age doesn't sound like such a bad plan," Harry said slowly, needing time to adjust to the idea. He had long ago been forced to give up such hopes, with his lightning bolt scar meaning he might as well have had a bulls-eye painted on his forehead. "But what's this about a new world? Sounds dodgy."

Dobby looked hesitant all of a sudden.

"Yes?" Harry prompted, his eyes narrowing in suspicion. Considering that Dobby's idea of a good plan involved Harry's near expulsion from Hogwarts and a fifty foot drop after being knocked off a broom, any hint of caution from the elf had to be a very bad sign.

"It is being another world, Harry Potter sir, one without the great Harry Potter in it!"

"Why, what happened to me?" Harry had heard Hermione debate the existence of alternate worlds on occasion, but he'd never believed there could actually be other versions of him running around. It was a disconcerting idea and one Harry wasn't too pleased to find out was true. It meant there could be countless Harrys in innumerable worlds - he wondered if they all suffered from the same bad luck as he did.

"Harry Potter is being killed in a car crash when he is being five years old, Harry Potter sir," Dobby informed him, a sad look on his pointy face. Then he brightened up considerably. "But no Harry Potter means that Harry Potter sir can join world and live there instead!"

Apparently the Potter luck really was inescapable. Harry found it tragically ironic that his counterpart had died from what he'd grown up thinking had killed his parents. "So I'm supposed to take the place of a young me?" Harry asked after working out who all the Harry Potters mentioned were.

"Oh no, only if sir is wishing it," Dobby said. "Time is moving slower there, so Harry Potter sir is being ten years old when he arrives – as old as Harry Potter is being if he had lived - and can become anybody he wishes. No one is suspecting sir, since other Harry Potter is dying many years before."

"So I'll be starting Hogwarts and everything, but I don't actually have to tell people I'm Harry Potter," Harry checked. Dobby nodded eagerly, clasping his bony hands together in delight. "Back to the year nineteen ninety one, a proper fresh start…" Harry couldn't help but be tempted by the prospect. "No more Boy-Who-Lived or Undesirable Number One…"

"Then Harry Potter is accepting?"

Harry frowned and held up a hand to stop Dobby saying anything more. "Hang on a moment. If I can accept, doesn't that mean I can decline?"

"If Harry Potter is saying no then he is staying as a ghost forever and ever and ever!" Dobby looked distraught at the very idea. "Harry Potter sir is never going Onwards, never going on his next great adventure!"

"Oh," Harry said. The thought of never joining all those who had died – his friends, family, Sirius – was a most unwelcome one. No matter how unsure he felt over travelling to a strange and unfamiliar world, he knew it had to be the better choice. "There has to be some catch, though. I mean, what's wrong with the world I'll be sent to? I'm sure there's something."

"It is being similar to sir's old world. He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is still lurking and Professor Trelawney is still telling future, but Harry Potter will also be seeing many differences. Dobby is not allowed to tell, Dobby must be keeping secrets. Dobby is sorry!"

"That's all right," Harry said hurriedly, seeing that the elf was on the verge of busting into tears. He might not know exactly what mess he'd just got himself into, but he'd figure things out as he always did. "At least I know for sure it's not all going to be sunshine and roses. It'll give me a chance to prepare."

"So Harry Potter sir is saying yes?" Dobby nervously fiddled with the ends of his multi-coloured scarf. "Harry Potter must hurry, almost being no time left to decide."

"Well… all right, I suppose I'll accept," Harry said after a long pause. He'd wanted a chance to win the war and a new world would give him that – there was nothing left for him here. "So long as you promise me that the next time I die, I'll stay dead."

The elf nodded solemnly. "Dobby is promising."

"Well then, I suppose this is good bye for now." Harry smiled down at his small friend. "Take care of yourself, Dobby."

"Good bye, Harry Potter," Dobby said, and snapped his fingers. With a loud crack that echoed down the empty platform, Harry disappeared. His last thought was that Dumbledore had been right about one thing - death really was the next great adventure.

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A/N As the disclaimer states, this story is loosely based on one of Aya Macchiato's fics. I'll be using her plot of sending Harry to the past in an alternate universe (her fic's so good I couldn't resist!) but the writing and most of the ideas are all mine.

In case clarification is needed: this fic presumes that everything (except the epilogue) happened as in the books, but that even after Voldemort died there were death eaters and dark supporters at large, which meant the war didn't end. Harry is 21 years old by the time he's killed, and he experiences something similar to what happened at the end of the seventh book - he's between life and death and is given a choice. He chooses to go to another universe.

Really, the how of it all isn't important. Basically I wanted to get Harry into an alternate universe as a ten-year-old, and this is how I did it. Also, for those who were wondering, there won't be slash involving the main characters. In fact there won't be much romance of any kind. I hope you enjoy the story!