THE FIRST JUMP

The brothers were a pair, twins if they weren't a year apart. They often would dress similarly and sometimes even their own mother called them by the wrong names. They shared a great deal, and often too much, although they would never admit it. As the War for Hogwarts raged and passed, Harry Potter sacrificed himself for the greater good and the two brothers mourned their perfect hero and saviour.

Pure Gryffindors, filled to the brim with bravery and courage unsurpassed, but lacking either exceptional intelligence or unreasonable cunning. Thus their plan, such as it was, was simple and foolhardy: Resurrect Harry from death to worship at his feet, in all contrariness to what he certainly would've desired.

"Brotherly love" would save Harry, the two decided, although this was a vague and ill-considered idea even for them. After a few years of attempts, with each trying and failing to bring Harry back, neither willing to truly break moral boundaries, the two pondered their quest and their idea overall.

"If only we could fix it all", the two asked each other in words unspoken and spoken too loudly. They shed shared tears as they shared an idea. And the idea opened their hearts to an idea they had never considered and never knew existed.

In the realm of nothing lay the answer of everything. An old tale, an old story, a tale older than forgotten memories. Two brothers of opposition in the ancient world, long since ignored and buried.

"Ahura Mazda, good and wise, brother and twin, at fravaxshyâ nû gûshôdûm nû sraotâ ýaêcâ asnât ýaêcâ dûrât ishathâ nû îm vîspâ." Said one brother perfectly.

"Ahriman, destroyer and deceiver, brother and twin, at fravaxshyâ nû gûshôdûm nû sraotâ ýaêcâ asnât ýaêcâ dûrât ishathâ nû îm vîspâ." Said the other at the same time imperfectly.

Whatever they summoned, if they summoned anything at all, it broke the world around them, and they clung to each other, mirrored hearts, pure light shining in the abyss of the void. The light found them once more in the past they left behind.

THE SECOND JUMP

The great man sighed and drank himself near to death one evening, pondering his failure of a life. A world of darkness and light, life and death, but Harry was gone, having long ago sacrificed himself to save his friends and country. Maybe the world too, the tendrils of You-Know-Who had spread wide, certainly the great man had seen evidence of it himself.

He stumbled across the idea almost accidentally, when a week later he drunkenly poured out his heart to a yawning portrait of Nigellus Black, one of the only surviving relics of the Hogwarts That Was. "Why don't you bloody fix it then?" The old Headmaster's portrait grumbled. At this, the great man paused, confused - what did old Black mean?

At this oddity, paying actual attention instead of ranting incoherently, the portrait proffered an idea to the great man. An old way, beneath the depths of the old school, an old seal never broken and could never be broken, because it existed in all times at once. This was already too much for the great man to comprehend, especially in his inebriated state, but eventually something penetrated and he understood what he had to do.

Later on, beneath the stones and muck, beneath the skeletons and fire, the old path led to the present through the endless fog. The great man stood there, bones aching, skin shivering, muscles quaking, and eyes foggy. How he had gotten there, he could not remember, nor could he recall where the idea had even come from.

But he did remember his purpose, and his quest, which was simple: Go back to the start of the tale and tell it different. Save little Harry and his friends from old Tom and his slaves. The path contracted as he approached, as the air slowed and the sounds grew. His eyes dilated and the light began to twist around him, pushing him back as he pushed forward.

He saw it then, the path between the here and now and then and there, angry and pulsating, grabbing with unseen, furious hands of gold and light. The ground fell away as he stood without standing, nothing to push against, without an anchor in the endless nothing. Somehow the impulse came to him, beneath the terror and confusion, beneath the self-pity and regret. He raised a fist, in all defiance of possibility and probability, a will greater than the path beyond.

Too slowly to be understood, he threw forward his strength at the split between ideas, the crossworlds of possibilities. For a second, then a minute, an hour, two, ten, a day, a month, a year, a decade, a century... his will was indomitable, unstoppable, for he knew in his bones that if he paused for a moment, he would be lost.

For longer than memory, he persisted. Until his great fist, or what it represented beneath it all, shattered the world around him and he was gone into the story he left behind and thought lost forever. Of course, that's a story for you, you can always retell it if you ever remember it.

AND THEN...

The old Director looked up in confusion, utterly baffled by what he was seeing. "The hell...?" And then he shook his head. He'd figure it out later, he decided, after all, there were more important things to do first.

Far Too Many Time Travelers

Chapter 8: A Fancy New Way to Time Travel

Harry sighed as he played catch with his spare Snitch, which seemed easier to catch than ever to the point where he barely had to think about it anymore. The wand of Voldemort had already been confiscated to be "inspected", with Draco's note also captured for a similar reason but that was already a fortnight ago.

Beside him, Parvati chattered about a spell Sirius had been teaching them to her twin, who was unhappy for some reason and kept nearly interrupting. Perhaps if Harry felt that it was normal, he could join in. But something was off, more than usual, which was saying something.

He had hoped Luna would've been an interesting new person to talk to, but instead she had spent all the time since her arrival with boring Ministry appraisals and tests, all so she could be some sort of Professor. Ginny had gone off with her too, so she wasn't really around either. Harry couldn't begrudge her of that, since she had been doing so poorly otherwise.

Harry (and he would regret this later) began to hope that something would please just happen already. Instead of listening to the rest of Parvati and Padma's "discussion", Harry got up and decided to take a bit of a walk around the grounds. He knew very well he was being watched during this time, but he pretended it wasn't bothering him.

At breakfast that weekend, Professor McGonagall stood in front of the school and very simply stated that Hannah Abbott had completed her punishment in isolation and was now permitted to sit with Hufflepuff again. Hannah Abbott then appeared, her face no longer bruised and her hair in a half-cut style. Her head was down, but her expression was clearly sad, lip trembling, possibly contrite.

"I don't care for it, Harry," Parvati said in a whispered, angry tone, her brows pinched and her dark eyes flashing. "Do you trust she's actually learned her lesson? You remember what Neville said, right?"

"Yeah," said Harry, pretty sure he did. "But if McGonagall is okaying it, and you know how she is, Hannah's probably okay. Right?"

Parvati made a sound of disbelief and then said, "I hope you're right, Harry. But if not, I'll hex her hair off all the way this time!"

Harry snickered and rolled his eyes. "Glad you're so protective of me, Parv."

"You shut it, Har," said Parvati with a serious face, although she broke into a giggle nearly immediately.

Hannah made her way to the Hufflepuff table, which was unusually silent, faces filled with concern and confusion. The time traveller's face quivered, and there was something broken there. But then Susan jumped up and embraced her friend, bursting into loud sobs. Hannah knelt her head, silently crying as tears fell down her face.

"Merlin..." Parvati said under her breath.

"Don't forget how it is for these folk," said George. "If this idiot's anything to go on - " at this he pointed to a suddenly grinning Fred - "All them time travellers are broken in the head, Patil, it's just a simple fact."

Hermione seemed about to say something, but Ron put a hand on her shoulder and she bit her lip silently instead.

Parvati scowled. "Not Neville!"

George considered this and tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Mayhaps you're right, but mayhaps it's just that he hides it better than the rest of these blithering incompetents." He gave a withering glance at his twin. "And they all look weird, don't they? Especially this one. Something about that uncanny face."

Fred laughed. "Can't argue with facts, can I?"

As they were finishing up, Hannah and Susan walked over to the table. Instantly, all of the Weasleys (including Percy, oddly enough) and Hermione sat up straight, eyes directly staring daggers at the two 'Puffs.

"Ginny," reminded Parvati to Harry in a whisper, whose wand was also out, but merely in the classic Longbottom style "casual paranoid" stance they had all been drilled in over the summer.

"Ah," said Harry, and he put away his own wand, which he hadn't realized he had drawn. "So Hannah, Susan. What can we do for you?"

"I want to apologize," said Hannah, and she seemed to suddenly realize the implications of all of those Weasley eyes. "To all of you, really. Harry, of course, because I wasn't in my right mind and was treating you like the one I knew in my future - no excuse, really, but I shouldn't have done it. We were so close..." Her head dipped and her eyes watered again. Susan gripped Hannah's arm.

"Never mind that," said Hannah, shaking her head and then looking straight at him. "Harry, I'll be more than happy to tell you my whole story, or any questions you want. Maybe you should clear it with Sprout or McGonagall first. I can tell McGonagall the whole business, then she can tell what's okay to tell you."

"Maybe you should just tell me," said Hermione in an acid tone. "Time traveller to time traveller."

Hannah's mouth tightened and she took a deep breath. "Right, maybe," she said finally. "Of course, I already apologized to Ginny before she left."

"Really?" Ron said in surprise, almost yelling this word.

Hannah smirked a bit at that. "Yeah, Ron, really. You think McGonagall would've let me out without talking it over with Ginny?"

"I suppose that's reasonable," said Hermione, although she still seemed in a mood.

"Well, that's the main bit of it," said Hannah and she sighed. "We royally muffed it, I will cotton to that right now. I may have - " and then she took an even deeper breath. "I-" But then she seemed to be unable to continue.

Susan gave Harry an imploring look, so odd and complex and filled with meaning, he felt like he was simultaneously on fire, horribly embarrassed, and deeply sad. "Harry," Susan said softly in an eerie, intense tone, and Harry felt his nerves twitch and flare. Beside him, Parvati shifted in some way, and Harry could sense something unusual from her too.

"Harry," said Susan again. "Hannah lost her mind, that's what the Healers say. They don't know why, but I do." Her voice was raspy but filled with sadness. "Hannah doesn't even know that I know."

Hannah looked at her friend with shock in her eyes.

"Hannah was dying," said Susan, her voice sounded strangled still but a little stronger than before. "She didn't think I knew, but I knew. She had forgotten about what Polyjuice does to people, because she had forgotten it happened to me first."

The other Hufflepuff girl winced. "You're right, Susan," she said. "I suppose I need to apologize to you too, don't I?"

Susan smiled at her, and she seemed to be completely happy for a moment. "Never," she said.

"Has Ginny forgiven you?" Fred asked, and George nodded in agreement of the question.

"I don't know," said Hannah. "But she did accept my apology anyway. I think we were able to relate, just a little, about being broken. I told her some things about my Ginny... she told me some things about her future. I think we're okay. I think."

"Well, I'm going to reach out to her," said Hermione, and the other Weasleys gave her pleased looks. "If it's all sounding good, I think we can move forward, Hannah."

"Thanks, Hermione," said Hannah in relief. "I really do appreciate it. C'mon then, Susan."

Susan waved goodbye, and the two walked away.

"Enough of that rubbernecking, the rest of you," said George a bit loudly, waving his hands at the other Gryffindors who were now pretending they hadn't been listening. "You've gotten your gossip filled, so that'll be all."

Fred held up his wand with a raised eyebrow at his twin.

"Not necessary," said George and then he looked over the Hall. "This time."

Parvati giggled. "You guys shouldn't threaten to do things if you won't actually do them," she said with a wink.

"I refuse to believe we are that transparent, George," said Fred with a sort of pretentious accent.

"We are not, naturally," said George, matching the voice. "Miss Patil here merely has excellent vision."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Yeah, yeah, well if anyone wants me, I'll be somewhere else."

"One moment," said Parvati, and she wiped her mouth. "Okay, let's go then."

As they walked through the hallways, Harry turned to Parvati and said, "Are we going somewhere in particular?"

"Yes, Harry, we're going to the Room so we can practice that weird hexing trick Sirius was teaching us." She gave him a look. "I already worked with Padma on it, so you're a bit behind, I'm afraid."

Harry chuckled and smiled at her. "Understood."


It was a few weeks later that Harry finally got an owl from Neville.

Harry, I know I've been incommunicado or whatnot, but I've been trying to track down who attacked my grandmum. There's someone or maybe three someones at cross purposes with me though, I can't figure out exactly which. This sort of skulduggery is beyond any of the nonsense I did in my own future, I can tell you that much. I'm possibly thinking of trusting someone else to help me, tell you the details soon. All I know is that someone killed Dobby, someone killed the Muggle PM, someone attacked my grandmother, and those are probably the same people (or more likely, Imperiused people by one person). Anyway, be safe. I've been owling with Sirius about your training, I'm pretty pleased with it.

Send P&P my love and I'll see you as soon as I can.

-N

"Feh," said Harry with annoyance, not entirely sure where the sound had come from. But he decided he needed to do something about it anyway. He would talk to Snape after their next class, his old favourite teacher, because Snape likely knew the latest about everything.

Snape was grumpier than usual, taking off points from nearly everyone except Harry and Parvati, who had become a well-oiled Potions machine together by that point due to the painstaking training by Neville, Sirius, and to a lesser extent, Snape himself.

"Terrible, Parkinson, is this what you manage without a time traveller on hand to help you? And this is simply garbage Thomas, it's a shame that Longbottom and Granger leaving due to temporal interference lowered the average intelligence of your house to meaningless levels." Finally he stopped by Harry and Parvati's station, looking over the potion Harry was quite sure was nearly perfect.

"Good," said Snape finally. "But I am sure you know the issue."

"It's not quite perfect," said Parvati. "I think we added the ground mitre a touch before the glezarand tongue boiled completely."

"Correct, Miss Patil," said Snape with a nod. "So I assume next time you will not have this problem?"

"Of course not, Professor!" Parvati said and gave Snape her most charming smile, which the professor clearly was pretending he was not affected by. He turned to face the rest of the class and put on his best scowl.

"The rest of you, three feet on what you did wrong before next time. Dismissed."

"Professor's pet," Pansy Parkinson hissed at Parvati.

"It's called being competent, Parkinson," said Parvati in a matter-of-fact tone as she cleaned up her equipment. "Try it sometime, won't you?"

Harry heard Snape cough, and saw him duck his head.

"I'll catch up with you a bit later," Harry said quietly to Parvati as the other students had quickly run out of the classroom. "I need to talk over a few things with the Professor."

Parvati raised an eyebrow but she smiled and nodded. "Okay, but don't stress him out too much. He gets enough of that from all the layabouts and nonsense pretending to be students. Right, Professor?" She said this with a turn of her head, acknowledging that obviously Snape had heard the whole conversation.

"That's enough out of you," said Snape with a scoffing sound. "Get out of here before I assign you three feet too."

"Well, if you did, I'm sure it'd be great, so maybe I'll do it anyway! Thanks, Professor!" She waved at him, and then at Harry before casually strolling away.

Snape shook his head. "That girl will be the death of me."

"Remind you of someone?" Harry asked with a grin.

This caused the professor to pause and think for a moment. "I would have hoped you would have preferred to emulate your mother instead," Snape said.

"I do my best," said Harry with a shrug. "But some people just have that charisma and I'm not one of those people. She's just good with people, and I guess I don't really have the same thing."

"I can relate to that," said Snape in a grumbly voice. "In any event, I don't suppose you were waiting here for that sort of pablum?"

"Not at all, sir. I was hoping we could talk about what's happened. Like with the wand?"

"Ah. Of course." Snape sighed and sat down in his chair, rubbing his brow and looking tired. "I am concerned about the implications of the wand. Albus and I have certainly verified that it is the Dark Lord's wand, but why did Draco send it to you, and thus us?"

Harry shrugged. "I don't know. A trap? Actual help?"

Snape snorted. "Exactly. Mister Longbottom has sent the Headmaster an owl with his updates, but he has not found Draco or his parents anywhere. It is certainly suspicious, although of whom?" He sighed. "And to think, before all this time travel terror I was merely worried about the Dark Lord returning."

"Isn't that still a concern?" Harry asked. "Where is Quirrell now?"

"He's secured, still," said Snape. "In a protected room under Fidelius, and the wand is in a different room under a different Fidelius." He paused. "You know what that is, correct?"

Harry nodded quickly. "Yes, sir. Neville told me the whole story over last summer holiday. Not how to cast it or anything, he didn't even know that, but how it works and all that."

Snape tapped his chin and looked thoughtful. "Well... good," the Professor said finally. "So I am afraid we are still waiting for the next act of horror or attack, whatever that may be. Trying to prepare for the inevitable moment a time traveller tries to break the Dark Lord out."

Harry couldn't help but shiver at that thought. "Fine, I guess that's good to know where we're at and all. But I did also worry about what Neville was saying too, he talked about multiple people maybe working together... I don't know, he can't say everything in an owl, I guess."

"Owls can be intercepted," said Snape. "Or diverted. Not easily or simply, but if we're talking about someone or multiple someone's willing to commit murder... well..." He sighed. "Neville is quite right to be careful about it. Do you know how he gained such knowledge? He was not so forthcoming with us earlier."

"He travelled the world a lot in his future," said Harry, carefully thinking about what to say and what to leave out. "Trying to figure out any way to fight back against Riddle and his immortality. There was... well, anyway, something happened and he found out about it, and thought it was his last chance to take out Riddle. After that, he found some magic watch that sent him back through time."

Snape frowned. "I see. He asked you not to tell the story, is that it?"

"Something like that," said Harry. "But you know, just talking about that watch again, I feel like something's been wrong for a while. Ever since we heard that story from Professor Dumbledore about the Compact."

The Professor raised an eyebrow. "Ah, well Mister Potter, was that story actually about anything at all, or was it just one of the Headmaster's pointless tales of whimsy?"

"Um, well... I thought, well, after the meeting..."

Snape held up a hand. "Yes, yes. I suppose I wished, at some level, that I could forget about it. But we have the same idea, I believe. Whatever the Compact actually is or was, that odd story about time and magic was his way of talking around it."

"Oh," said Harry and he frowned. "I thought he was using a story to tell the actual story of the Compact. That there was some sort of change in how time worked back then and something changed it, maybe that's what the Compact is? And then," Harry said, smiling a bit as another thought came to him. "Maybe it's all related to this crazy time traveling the last two years. Sirius mentioned that's essentially never happened before."

Snape grunted. "Conjecture, Mister Potter. But not a bad theory, nonetheless. If the Compact is indeed about time in some way, as we are theorizing, and your Miss Granger did something about it... well, I don't know what exactly, but there may be some connection there."

"And wasn't it some sort of Moon Compact?" Harry asked. "Having to do with the moon?"

"Lunar, she said," Snape corrected. "But I don't know what that has to do with anything. There is likely a set of magical theories and discoveries about the moon, but the only ones I know of have to do with lycanthropy - the werewolf disease, in case you weren't already aware."

"Doubt a werewolf has anything to do with it, unless one's out attacking Neville's parents."

"Whatever it is," said Snape with a frown. "I think the important thing is to be on our guard, especially with the next holiday coming up, which the Headmaster has identified to be the vernal Equinox in March."

"But that's just next month!" Harry said in horror.

"Yes, so be careful and tell someone the moment you notice anything out of place."

Harry nodded and sighed. "Okay, Professor." But he couldn't help feeling that he was missing something.


Other than Neville's weekly "Still alive, still not dead" messages, not much happened out of the ordinary coming up to March and the Equinox. The still lingering, vaguely disturbing feeling stuck to Harry, different from the typical fear about losing people to time traveling jerks from the future. Or at least it seemed that way.

"I'm afraid he's right," said Hermione to him when Harry asked if she was sure that Dumbledore was sure about the day. "It's one of the temporal confluxes, and Professor Dumbledore pointed me at the right research and his own studies on quantomancy. Hopefully it's not too terribly horrid, right?"

"Phooey," said Harry in a moment of pique and he grumbled as he walked away.

When the day finally arrived, Harry felt like his skin would nearly crawl off, and he barely managed to sit through each class without issue. In fairness though, the teachers (Binns aside) were all in various stages of nervousness themselves. By this point, it was well understood that anyone was in danger of being 'replaced' by their future self, and no one was safe.

The Headmaster had asked all students to sleep for that night only in the Hall, with fluffy, self-heating sleeping bags magically provided. For a while, the students chattered nervously with each other, a low hum of nervous energy. Ron and Fred prowled around the room with their wands out constantly, while Hermione came in every so often to check in.

Parvati was oddly quiet, although she wasn't able to fall asleep either, hugging her twin tightly. Padma, of course, had fallen asleep after only a few minutes, which Harry knew was fairly typical behaviour after their summer together. Harry never fell asleep at all, just somehow passing time, until he saw the ceiling begin to lighten just a little.

And then it happened, Hermione appeared suddenly in the Hall, her wand pointed at the Gryffindor students. This had been accomplished nearly silently, but Harry's eyes had still been wide open so he caught it.

Colin Creevey sat up from the floor, looking quite confused. "Dennis?" He asked this at a bit too normally a volume, and people around started and woke up at the noise.

"He's not here," said Hermione with an intense look on her face, her wand now glowing bright red. "He travelled with you through time, is that it?" She nodded quickly to the side, keeping her eyes on Colin, and Harry spotted Fred Weasley nodding back. The time traveling twin sent out a Patronus, a sleek hyena, which galloped and jumped through the walls.

"Why don't you come with us, Colin?" Hermione said with a pleasant voice that was odd at the sight with her not-at-all happy face. "We'll make sure your brother is safe, and it will all be well."

"But... I mean," Colin sputtered and he looked alarmed. "I'm here for Harry, is he-?"

"Colin." Hermione's voice was sharp, and many more people now had awoken at the sound. "Don't worry about Harry, he is quite safe, and trying to get some sleep. Let's go, alright?" And then she smiled, finally, but her eyes didn't quite seem to get there. Colin nodded and got up slowly, walking weirdly, like stuck in the wrong body, as he walked away with Hermione right behind him.

"Bloody hell," said Harry and he looked over at Parvati, who seemed just as waylaid. "You still you, Parv?"

Parvati nodded. "Likewise?"

"Yes, thank Merlin," said Harry, and then he yawned. And fell asleep.


The next day Ron woke Harry up by poking him.

"Hey! Oh." Harry looked up blearily. "What time is it?"

"Late breakfast time," said Ron with a laugh. "Professors thought it best to let everyone sleep in a bit while us time travellers and regular adults took care of things. Figured I should let you know straight away who came back in time, right?"

"I saw Colin Creevey leave last night, or maybe early morning," Harry said. "And he mentioned his brother, but I haven't met him. Was there someone else?"

"Yeah. They managed to track down Dennis, he's here somewhere. Merlin, he's tinier than I remembered!" Ron laughed again. "Sorry, you wouldn't get that joke. Anyway, the other guy is Hagrid - you know him, of course?"

"I know him," said Harry and he rubbed his eyes. "Not well, mind you. But he's the one that came to the Dursleys and took me to Diagon Alley. Haven't really seen him much since then, to be honest."

"Ah, well, oops," said Ron with a shrug. "Hagrid's great, naturally, but he had more of a role in the original version of our time at Hogwarts. The 'responsible' folk - " he put this in finger quotes - "have been interrogating him and the Creeveys about how they came back and why. From what I heard, it's the usual palaver, saving Harry and all that. That's how it goes by now, innit?"

"Yeah, it is," said Harry and he sat up, waking up more fully. "Parv. Parvati." He hissed a bit louder, but she continued to sleep soundly.

"Uh, she can't hear you Harry," said Ron with an apologetic look on his face. "Privacy charm. You can't tell her the whole business later, but there's still all the other students around, right?"

Harry looked about and confirmed that Ron was quite right. "No worries," he said. "I'll do just that."

After everyone had woken up and cleared away, and there was some privacy, Harry told the twins the summary of what Ron had told him.

"I don't know much about Hagrid, either, other than I know he's been here forever, right Padma?"

Padma nodded. "Yes, he was the gamekeeper when our parents were students. I only met him one time, when he escorted all of the first years to Hogwarts on our first day."

"Yeah, he also picked me up from the Dursleys" - at this Parvati grimaced, as she knew all about them by this point - "and took me around Diagon Alley to get my wand and stuff."

"You have told us this story already," said Padma. "Over the summer."

Parvati rolled her eyes. "Anyway, I know I've seen that Creevey boy around among the Gryffindor firsties, but that's all I know. What else do we know?"

Harry shrugged. "He wanted to take my photograph at the start of the year, and I let him. After that, I think Ron or Fred got him to stop bothering me."

"Maybe he was your number one fan in the future and just wanted to come back and see what you were like as a student," said Parvati with a laugh.

"That'd be just great, wouldn't it?" Harry said and frowned. For some reason the idea felt unusually reasonable. "Let me talk to Sirius, he always knows how to calm things down."

"I mean..." Parvati giggled. "Sure, Harry, whatever you say."

Sirius ended up having only a little more information than they already knew. "I assume they'll fill me in on everything later," he told Harry over lunch in his classroom. "Or ask if they need something. I have decent knowledge about a lot of spells, particularly destructive or transformative charms, but anything with weird, advanced time travel?"

He shrugged. "Really never was my sort of thing. Too Ravenclaw for my tastes. I think Hermione is the smartest of our time traveling friends, plus apparently she'd done a lot of research on the subject in her future. With her, Flitwick, and Dumbledore asking the questions, and even Snape on hand with his sinister face, I don't really need to be making it more of a crowd."

"Yeah, I suppose," said Harry with a sigh.

"Don't frown, Harry," said Sirius and he grinned. "You have plenty of other things to distract yourself with. We have our delightful training with your twin girlfriends-" Harry glared at him and Sirius laughed before continuing "-and you have your normal schoolwork. Plus you're a fair hand on a broom. Won all your Quidditch matches this year, haven't you?"

"Eh, Quidditch isn't much fun anymore," Harry said and he picked at his food. "It's too easy."

Sirius rolled his eyes. "Because Wood trained you lot too well, right?"

"I mean..." Harry paused, but he knew he could trust Sirius about it. "Yes, he did. And still sneaks me strategies and all, but he's a fair ref. Maybe it's all of his training plus Neville's and yours, but Quidditch is kinda boring now. I wait for us to score enough points, then I grab the Snitch easily."

Sirius sighed and shook his head. "I'd say we should get a professional scout here to watch you, but I suspect they already are chomping at the bit to hire any of the Gryff team. And you're about four years too early to play professionally, at least in England. I think some other countries will let on players younger, but I think it's neither particularly fair nor safe."

"Hmm." Harry tapped his chin. "Maybe I can leak some strategies to the other House teams. Wood wouldn't like it if he cottoned on, but at least we'd be challenged again."

"Harry!" Sirius made a dramatic gasping sound. "But what of the House Cup!"

"Do you actually care about the House Cup, Sirius? Or points for that matter?"

"Got me there," said Sirius with a laugh. "I have some House pride, that's all. Prefer Gryffindor to win and all, but I suppose considering everything else going on, it's not really so important." He leaned back and got a wistful look on his face. "Your dad wouldn't like hearing that from me, he was almost as bad a points grubber as Remus. I mainly cheered for James."

And then he grinned. "And maybe to take a gander at Cynthia Carter. Fit bird, average Chaser, but her older brother was the captain so there you are."

"You're truly a great influence, Sirius," said Harry with a laugh, feeling a lot better than he had that morning. "Thanks."

The following evening, Fred let Harry know that he was wanted after supper in the Headmaster's office. "I'd say you could come, Parvati," he said in a low voice so only the three of them could hear him. "But there's not enough room in the office right now. Harry will tell you everything later, and hopefully it won't take too long."

Parvati's eyes narrowed. "Not a particularly great explanation, Weasley. Will you even be there?"

"Only to escort him there and back. Waiting outside, I am, as per my 'orders'." He rolled his eyes. "I mean, listen, it's just to assuage these time travellers. They've been a bit tetchy with all of the interrogations, and it's thought that seeing Harry will help them fall in line."

"It's a bit unfair you keep leaving her out," said Harry. "Especially because you know I'm not going to keep any secrets from her." There was a nagging feeling Harry had forgotten something after he said that, but he shook his head and let it go.

Fred held up his hands. "I tend to agree with you. It's the same with me and George, after all. I think it's really just to minimize exposure to these new timesies folks. It's nothing personal, I'm sure. Hermione will be there, plus Dumbledore and Flitwick, so it's really a fairly small crowd."

"I suppose," said Parvati with an annoyed tone, crossing her arms. "But Professor Black shall be getting an earful from me on the matter!"

"It's not Professor Padfoot's problem," said Fred with a quick grin. "Not his idea, right?"

"Exactly," said Parvati with a wry smile and she winked. "So he's likely to agree with me about it entirely."

"Too clever for your own good girl," Fred said and he chuckled. "Glad you're on our side. Harry, you ready?"

The Headmaster's office had the exact people Fred had mentioned; Hermione pacing in one corner, Professor Flitwick sitting on a small chair nearby, and Colin Creevey and what had to be his younger brother (who was shockingly even smaller) on the same lounge chair. Professor Dumbledore waved in greeting and gestured Harry to the only free chair.

"Hullo, Harry," said the smaller Creevey with a huge smile. "Nice to meet you, as I understand it, right?"

"Yes, naturally," said Harry with a sigh. "Harry Potter, pleasure."

"His name is Dennis, Harry," said Colin quickly. "Um, it really is you, isn't it?"

"If it's not, someone's been playing an awful trick on me."

Hermione snickered. "Don't tease the boys, Harry. They might believe you," she said. "We're here to keep things peaceful. You probably guessed that the Creevey brothers came back in time to help you out."

"I did," said Harry. "Appreciate the effort, lads," he told them with a smile, hoping it looked sincere. "But as I'm sure you've found out, I'm all good here. Safe as a Snitch."

Flitwick chuckled. "Only you might say that, Mister Potter, given your prodigious winning record."

"Colin, why don't you explain to Harry what you did to travel back in time?" Hermione's voice was strained as she asked, although she had a light expression on her face.

"It was brotherly love," piped up Dennis excitedly. "Colin and I are brothers, that's how we did it."

"Eh, not sure I follow," said Harry. "How did you handle that?"

"We found this old story, we learned it in our hearts," said Colin and he closed his eyes, a calm smile on his face. "These two old brothers from the old stories. One was called Ahriman."

"The other was called something else," said Dennis. "But I don't recall his name."

"I know what they're talking about, Harry," said Hermione with a sigh. "Remember, I looked at many pathways to travel through time before I pursued the one I ultimately chose."

"I too, am familiar with these brothers," said Dumbledore. "Old tales, primarily. The Zoroastrian occultists were an enemy written about by the Founders as ancient enemies to their mentors. But the specific incantation these two young men utilized, well..." He smiled and nodded his head. "It is somewhat outside my own knowledge."

Hermione shook her head and frowned. "It doesn't make sense to me. I recognize the ritual they used, a summoning ritual, not a time traveling one. Point and antipode. Here and there. Everything and nothing. Very apocalyptic language, not the sort of business I cared about."

"I don't really follow," said Harry again. "Am I meant to?"

"I never got it either," confided Dennis in a loud whisper. "I don't think Colin did either."

"We just had the idea, really," said Colin and he had a mildly scared expression on his face as he glanced back at Hermione. "I dunno where it came from, honestly! Just an old story about brothers."

"Hmm. That is suspicious," said Harry, although he wasn't sure precisely how.

"I tend to agree with you, Harry." Hermione said with a small smile. "'Brotherly love'? You see what I have to deal with here?"

"But it really was brotherly love," said Dennis as he stretched his head back to try and see Hermione, nearly falling off the chair.

"Peace, Mister Creevey," said the Headmaster, holding up a hand. "We believe you. Now that you have seen Harry and understand he is perfectly safe, will you agree to meet with the Ministry officials?"

"Do you think that's okay, Harry?" Colin asked him, his lip quivering slightly.

Harry glanced at Hermione, who made a small nod. "I think it's perfectly grand," said Harry with another faked smile. "Naturally, I'm savvy as a Snitch" -Flitwick hid a smile, and Harry continued, gratified- "that you two have made it all the way back. But the Ministry has been dealing with all the time travellers for over a year now, and it's not like you're going to go back and take classes again."

"I wouldn't want that," said Dennis and he laughed.

"The Ministry will provide the opportunity to study and take your O.W.L.s and even N.E.W.T.s, if you so desire," Dumbledore said with a smile and leaned back in his chair. "Doesn't that sound better than sitting through all of your classes a second time around?"

"Yeah, I guess so," said Colin and he sighed. "We really just wanted to help." He looked over at Harry. "You sacrificed yourself to save everybody, Harry. We didn't want you to have to do that again, even if we never really figured out to stop it."

"Let's hope it doesn't come to that," said Harry and he ignored a small itch on the back of his head. "We've got a lot of help, don't we?"

The two brothers seemed to accept this and after a few more handshakes, they agreed to meet with the Ministry.

After the two left, Hermione mumbled, "Two down, one to go. I don't know if I much care for leaving those alone."

"Fred Weasley will handle it, I am sure," said Dumbledore. "Harry, would you mind terribly waiting to talk to Hagrid as well?"

Of course, Harry could see no particular reason to object.

When Hagrid squeezed on the now slightly enlarged chair, Harry noticed his eyes looked a bit red.

"Yeh a'right there, Harry?" The large man asked. "All this time nonsense been confusin' me, yeh reckon yeh've got it all down?"

"Not even a little," said Harry with a laugh. "That's really more of the job of the other three people here."

"Yeah, I know I've made a mess o' things here." Hagrid looked miserably at the Headmaster. "Perfessor, yeh know..."

"Hagrid," Dumbledore interjected in a firm voice. "We don't need to go down that road again. As you can see, Harry Potter is here, hale and healthy and in one piece."

"Yeah, I can see 'im, I'm not blind," said Hagrid and he pulled out a handkerchief. He then blew his nose with a fairly loud blast. "The whole's day been a bit o' a blur, I have to say."

"Hagrid, now that you feel a bit more... calm, shall we say," said Hermione. "Can you try again to explain how you came back in time?"

"I'm curious too," said Harry with a smile, trying to help out. "The Creeveys used the power of brotherly love." Hermione rolled her eyes, and Harry continued, "Hermione used a terrible secret, Ron did something with the Aztecs-" Hermione mouthed "Mayans" very clearly -"or Mayans, sorry, and Neville found a magical watch. How'd you manage it?"

Hagrid scratched his head and sighed deeply. "Well, I suppose yeh deserve to know, eh? It weren't great for me, whole world gone to bits and all that. I was here and maybe I'd had a touch o' somethin' to drink, so some of it's not clear in me noggin'. But I remember ol' Phineas telling me about some way to fix things. Somethin' underneath Hogwarts itself."

He shook his head. "After that, I don't know what happened. Punched somethin', I think. Got back that way."

"Punched..." Hermione trailed off and looked confused.

"Phineas," the Headmaster said towards the wall. "Does this sound familiar to you?"

A portrait on the wall (and Harry realized of course that was whom Dumbledore was taking to) scoffed and sneered. "Yes, naturally, Albus," the portrait said. "But I refuse to believe this oafish brute managed to survive getting there, let alone back again."

"No need to be rude," said Flitwick with a shocked expression. "Hagrid is a wizard like the rest of us."

"I am afraid that Phineas, a Headmaster a bit before my tenure, had a bit of a pure-blooded bent to his philosophy," Dumbledore said to Harry. "He was a brilliant man, but a complicated one."

The portrait scoffed again. "Gilding the lily, aren't we? Listen to me child, your genius Headmaster thinks he knows a great deal, and perhaps he does. But there was knowledge I sealed away that even a future Headmaster could never unseal, not even your precious 'enlightened' Dumbledore."

"Fair enough," said Harry, not really feeling the need to be offended by someone that had died decades before he was even born. "So how did Hagrid manage it then?"

"I suspect his mind was addled by something, perhaps a particularly strong potable," said the portrait with a dark laugh. "The story of Hogwarts cannot be changed, not by will alone, nor by..." He shuddered. "Punching it, whatever that means."

"Huh," said Hermione and she did not look pleased. "It's almost like you're saying Hagrid punched his way back through time."

"I most certainly am not, child!" The portrait of Phineas looked highly offended. "Do not deign to put your mistaken theories upon me!"

"Yeah, Hermione, I think yeh're right!" Hagrid grinned suddenly. "Yeah, I remember that a bit better now. Punchin' me way back through time, that's how I did it. Thank yeh, I shoulda known yeh'd figure it out. Smartest one in the room, I always said that."

Based on her face, Hermione seemed like she didn't know whether to be annoyed or flattered. It was sort of a comical expression. Then she sighed and turned to Harry. "You see what I have to deal with? Brotherly love and punching through time?" She shook her head. "Professor Flitwick, you understand what I'm saying, don't you?"

"I do," said Flitwick and he chuckled. "Offends your scholarly mind-set, doesn't it? How positively Ravenclaw of you. But when you get to be my age, you realize that magic doesn't always make sense."

"Ridiculous," said Phineas but Dumbledore raised an eyebrow.

"A fair point," he said. "Miss Granger, I am sure that there is some logic to it, but magic sometimes defies the typical logic, does it not?"

"Well... I can't argue with you there," said Hermione and she laughed once, a bit harshly.

"Neither can I," said Harry with a grumble.

Hermione sighed. "I miss the simple nonsense of Neville's watch."


As neither the Creeveys nor Hagrid had been much involved in Harry's day to day life, not much changed over the next weeks due to their absence. Harry had slipped a few of Wood's first set of strategies to the Hufflepuff reserve Seeker Cedric Diggory, whom he had recalled being a decent sort from the troll incident.

"I know someone on the Ravenclaw team that'll keep things mum," he had told Harry with a grin. "Hard to believe you're doing this just for better competition. Shall I try for Slytherin too?"

Of course, that would be going too far, so Harry mildly told him not to bother. After that, the next few games were a bit closer, and Harry felt like he was actually enjoying himself at Quidditch again.

As end-of-term exams were approaching, Harry was studying quietly with the Patil twins in the library when Hermione came over to them. "Hello you lot," she said with a smile. "Harry, Parvati, Padma." She paused and her smile widened. "Etcetera."

Parvati made a sort of snorting laugh. "If that's an apology, I accept."

"Let's assume it's that," said Hermione. "Just wanted to give you a bit of an update. Hannah finally told Professor McGonagall and me the particulars of her future and how they came back in time. The Professor was horrified and told me I wasn't to tell you any of it."

"That's ridiculous," said Parvati in a hiss. "We can handle it."

Hermione made a wavy motion with her hand. "Eh, I'm not so sure. It is quite a bit more salacious than I expected, to be honest. I say we give it a few months, maybe next term we can revisit it with the Professor. I know you're frightfully mature for your age given everything, but I don't think this story quite needs to be told just yet."

"For my part," said Padma without looking up from her book. "I do not care about it."

"Thank you for that, Padma," said Hermione and she laughed softly. "Honestly, I will tell you as soon as either Professor McGonagall approves it or I think you're okay to hear it. But I didn't want to leave it a complete mystery either, I didn't think that'd be fair."

"I don't suppose there's anything you can tell us about anything at all?" Harry gave Hermione his most serious pleading face. "Neville? Draco? The Creeveys or Hagrid?"

Hermione nodded and smiled. "Oh, well I can tell what I know about those! Neville's still out, and he said he'll be sending you an owl soon before the term is over. I have no idea what's he's doing, as he hasn't told me about it. Nobody knows where Malfoy is, and the Creeveys are studying for their O. back home. Since they are technically both underage and overage, the Ministry is allowing them to use magic."

"And... Hagrid?" Harry prompted.

"He's back as gamekeeper," said Hermione with a shrug. "Still with no notion of how he got here, which frustrates me to no end, I don't mind telling you. But he's happy just to be useful again in his old job, and he admitted he was glad that there were other people helping out to stop Riddle."

Harry sighed. "Yeah, okay. I get it. Stuck here without knowledge."

"I've told you everything I can, Harry," said Hermione with a frown. "Really."

"I know," Harry said and he gestured to his book. "Thank you. Now, we do have to get back to studying, so unless you want to help...?"

Parvati looked at Hermione with sudden interest.

"If you have any questions, let me know, I suppose," said Hermione with a small smile. "I'm always here." She waved and walked away from them.

"Padma, that was a pretty good lie," said Parvati. "I almost didn't pick up on it."

"She has gotten a bit better than she was last year, hasn't she?" Harry said with a sly grin. "Not to worry, Padma, I'll make sure you know the mysterious story of Hannah and Susan when I do."

"Thank you," said Padma while still not looking up. "It is easier to lie when I am not looking people in their eyes, I have noticed." She then raised her eyes to match Harry's. "It is difficult to lie to you or Parvati, but I will continue to try."

Parvati rolled her eyes. "Something to try over the summer holiday, right?" She looked over at Harry and frowned. "Actually, what are we doing for summer anyway? Neville's still not back."

"I don't know," Harry admitted. "Let's wait until his owl and deal with it then."


Neville's owl arrived the day before the last set of exams.

Hey HP, how's the twin girlfriends (Sirius told me that it annoys you to hear that, sorry couldn't resist)? You're probably wondering about the summer and all that. Unfortunately I'm really not going to be able to do anything this holiday, but I've been talking with Sirius and Dumbledore about an alternative.

If you're okay, Sirius was interested in traveling with you and the girls. He's technically an adult, after all, and Dumbledore eventually seemed to be okay with it as long as you don't stop moving like we played it. Maybe I'll even be able to meet up with you at some point, although I don't know for sure. Honestly, we can use the same excuse we did last year with the Patil parents, no reason not to. There's a lot of things you guys can do, and maybe you can finally visit one of those islands like you were always pestering me about.

Obviously it's up to you, but I can't take you this time no matter how much I'd like to. Let me know either way.

-Nev

Harry sighed as he looked over at Parvati, who was biting her lip. After thinking for a moment, he handed the letter over to her. Parvati read it quickly and frowned.

"Well, it's not the news I'd hoped for," she said. "But it's not all bad." She stood up and gestured to Harry. "Let's go ask Padma what she thinks."

Padma was already walking over to them, so they ended up moving over to a secluded corner of the Hall. The Ravenclaw twin seemed a bit surprised in her muted way, but then she smiled very slightly.

"I think it will be fun with the three of us out on a learning expedition," she said to them. "And Neville is practically an adult anyway, is he not, while Professor Black is quite immature? It would seem a decent balance."

Harry and Parvati laughed.

"I hadn't thought of it that way," said Harry with a grin. "It's a fair point, Padma. Okay, shall we ask the good Professor to join our little discussion?" Harry didn't wait for an answer and made sure Sirius (who was glancing their way already) could see them gesturing.

With a wide smile, Sirius moved past Snape (who had a deeper scowl than usual) and walked over to them. "So I assume you've gotten Neville's plan? We've been talking about it here and there for a while. Took a while to convince Dumbledore that I was stable enough to keep you lot safe. Snape was no help there, but since he wasn't willing to travel with us, he eventually backed down."

"He does have a lot to deal with," said Harry, rolling his eyes at yet another reminder of their childish rivalry. "But I think the ladies are interested, and I know there's no way I'm going back to the Dursleys."

Parvati scowled. "Certainly not! Professor Black-"

Sirius held up a hand. "You can call me 'Sirius' when it's just us, remember?"

"We're still technically in school," Parvati responded with a charming smile. "And Padma keeps whinging about me not using your 'proper' title."

"It's not 'whinging' if it's valid criticism," said Padma and she crossed her arms with a small indication of annoyance on her face.

"Anyway, as I was trying to say, Professor Sirius-"

Sirius laughed at that.

"-is that Harry under no uncertain terms shall be going back with his dreadful relatives. No offense, Harry."

"None taken," said Harry with a laugh. "I've called them far worse."

"Fab," said Sirius happily, rubbing together his hands in excitement. "Then I shall simply wish you good luck on your exams, and we shall talk after."

Harry felt that his exams were even easier than usual, with even History feeling reasonable with all of his stories from the crazy times they had with the outcast Goblins in Peru. As he was leaving the Potions room, Snape tapped his forehead so Harry stopped and waited until everyone else had left.

"I have heard that you shall be out 'traveling the world'-" he said this with great disdain "-with Sirius Black. He seems to mostly have recovered from his time in Azkaban, but he does not have the best judgment."

"I can't really argue with you there," Harry admitted. "But he'll keep us safe at any cost, I'm sure. Do you want me to send you regular owls or something?"

Snape smiled slightly. "Yes, that is precisely right. I am glad you are still thinking straight despite Black's best efforts."

Harry managed not to roll his eyes this time. "Thank you for the compliment, obviously coming from you I know it's significant. Let's agree to a few secret emergency terms, okay? I assume you approve?"

"Naturally," Snape said, and they quickly went over a few ideas for trouble or needing to meet in a particular place.

"I am still a bit loath to see you off," said Snape. "But I suppose the best I can do is ask you to keep your head and try to avoid anything foolish."

"You'll get the full report as soon as I get back," Harry told him with a grin. "Have a great summer otherwise, Professor!"

Later, as he stood with Sirius outside the gates, all of his things packed up and ready to go, he looked back at Hogwarts and sighed.

Sirius sighed too in response. "She's beautiful, ain't she? The fittest bird around."

Harry snorted. "Thanks for the mature words of wisdom, Sirius. I think perhaps I won't be telling Snape about that particular thought."

"You're learning," said Sirius with a wink. "Come on, let's go. The world is waiting, and I can't wait to show it to you."

-End of Chapter 8


POST MEDIAS RES:

A bit of commentary, more than I usually write. There are no spoilers here, just some notes and thoughts. Just something to help make up for the enormous amount of time since the last update.

Something that might have become clear is the nature of the chapter structures here, with the first sections about the time travellers in one particular style and the later part just a normal style continuation. They are intentionally more moribund and "serious" openings to juxtapose the seemingly humorous content later, and commentating on the many vague and varied time travel methods in all of those fanfics.

Very intentionally vague on the people in question, even if it should be fairly obvious with a close read. Initially vague, later slightly less so... some remaining that way intentionally. Initially when I wrote that first chapter, it was only meant as a fun one shot for a writing contest, but later as I came up with an actual plot, I rewrote the first chapter and from that point forward, the mechanics of each time travel were pre-considered.

Is it a coincidence that Parvati and Harry are such good friends in two of my ongoing stories? Actually, yes. I had some overarching thoughts for Mysterious Girl when I started it, but it took me a chapter or two to figure out my meta-narrative, and a few more after that to actually figure out the entire plotline. By then, I had Harry and Parvati already as friends, so I just continued on from there. Yes, part of it is that I'm a flagrant Parvati fan and I'm happy to write more of her, but honestly I'm essentially a fan of the whole gang.

I will admit that I had some immature, unfairly considered perspectives on Ginny when I was younger, mainly because I didn't get her character, and I thought Harry "deserved" someone better, whatever that means. Now, I get it and I kinda love writing Ginny in a fully complex way.

On another note, I know I'm being a bit of a tease with regards to what happened to Neville in his future and what is happening now. Suffice it to say, I'm not making it up as I go, honest! I think I have a pretty weird, cool idea that I do want to reveal at some point, just have to figure out the best way to integrate the story. Otherwise, Neville and everyone other than Harry are off on their own adventures, and Harry is the main POV.

I did have Snape with his own biased POV chapter, and soon enough I'll add another one from someone who's been in the background of things. I think it'll be easy enough to guess who it is in about three paragraphs.

HP fanfiction has been around for a long long time, and I've read an unreasonably large amount of it. But after a while of frankly being infected by poor characterization, I went on a "cleanse" and reread the original books. It was like drinking water again after being thirsty for years without knowing I was dehydrated. Luna was a delightful oddball, but she wasn't an Oracle or insane. Fred and George were hilarious and darkly interesting, but they didn't have banal "twinspeak". And Ron was an arsehole, but he was our arsehole.

So yeah, I still like doing this stuff.

The only difficulty is that although I have the super-plot all figured out, all the major beats written out and outlined, sometimes getting those pesky "in betweens" are harder than you'd think. But I'm still bloody working on it.

Next time, it'll either be Tentatively, Tonks or They Called it Our Future. It sort of depends on how the outline comes out. If the Tonks chapter doesn't come next, I'll have it a bit later.

It may be interesting to see a behind the scenes thing. The first 7500 words came from these notes:

EQUINOX (Mar)

COLIN and DENNIS CREEVEY use the power of BROTHERLY LOVE

RUBEUS HAGRID builds his strength for seven centuries until he literally PUNCHES THROUGH TIME.

Later, HANNAH returns accompanied by SUSAN, but PARVATI is annoyed to see them.

HARRY talks to SNAPE about the wand, the Compact, their theories, RIDDLE, what to do next, BLACK, etc., mentions a bit about Neville traveling the world and something REDACTED

After HAGRID and the CREEVEYS arrive, HERMIONE interrogates them about their technique with HARRY, SNAPE, and BLACK in DUMBLEDORE'S office

HAGRID doesn't entirely recall the specifics, but PHINEAS recognizes the concept but refuses to explain, nor will acknowledge that HAGRID could've possibly managed it. DUMBLEDORE doesn't know about it, whatever it is.

The CREEVEYS explain it, and although HERMIONE recognizes the Zoroastrian ritual from her own research, it's "A summoning ritual, not a time traveling one. Point and antipode. Here and there. Everything and nothing. Very apocalyptic language, not the sort of business I cared about."

HERMIONE eventually is quite annoyed that one is "punched through the time" and the other is "brotherly love." Offends her scholarly mind-set.

See what I have to deal with, Colin hopes HARRY won't sacrifice himself, hope it won't come to that

Wood - more of this

Neville is still away

(It's actually a feint, it was REDACTED)

REDACTED is secret Assassin

| End of year

Harry and Sirius take the girls (Neville is still away)

Sometimes that's as good as I can manage. Cheers!

Next up: A new chapter of GWL.

-J