Disclaimer: This is my first attempt at writing fiction of any kind so obviously I'm not JKR and the only thing that belongs to me is the character of Virgil Hunter.
Harry Potter and the Master of Time
Chapter 1: A Stranger's Offer
Harry stood as still as a statue, completely oblivious to the driving rain. He looked down at the grave at his feet and a single tear fell, lost in the rain. After what seemed like hours he finally found his voice "Why did it have to be this way?" he whispered as he looked up at the marble headstone, the last gift he had bought for a dear friend.
Hermione Jean Weasley
September 19, 1979- February 7, 2000
Beloved Friend and Daughter
Gone too Soon
Harry wondered how things had gone so wrong, his best friend murdered by her husband in a fit of rage only six months after their wedding. His own wife acting like this was no big deal, like Hermione had gotten what she deserved, and that the worst thing about all of this was that her brother Ron might go to prison for "killing the ungrateful little know-it-all". Harry hadn't spoken to Ginny at all in the three weeks since Hermione's funeral, and strangely he felt free, free from a relationship that had long since ceased to be exciting or even enjoyable. He had purchased the headstone for the woman he realized had been the greatest friend he had ever known because no one else would. Hermione had sent her parents away to Australia with no memories of her when the war had gotten dangerous and had never been able to restore their memories. The Weasley family had been completely unwilling to pay for the funeral arrangements, so it had fallen to him to take care of her final resting place.
A flash of lightning followed shortly by a crack of thunder brought him out of his musings, he was about to say his goodbyes and go home when he was startled by a voice. "It didn't have to end like this, for you or for her," Harry spun around to look at the source of the voice, a man dressed all in black stood a few feet away. He had long, dark blonde hair and a neatly trimmed beard, he wore a long black coat that would not have looked out of place in either the magical or muggle world. "But it isn't too late."
Harry was shaken by the man's last statement "What do you mean? She... she's dead, there's nothing I can do to bring her back. She's gone and I never told her..." Harry's voice broke, unable to admit his final failing. Even though she was gone he couldn't admit his feelings for her.
"That you love her? If it is any consolation she loved you too. But this is all beside the point, as I said it isn't too late. True there is no magic that can raise the dead, but there is magic that can make it so that she never had to die. A way that you and her can be happy together, and you can save others as well."
"What are you talking about? The only way to save her would be to change history... but you can't do that, can you? Hermione said that you couldn't use a time turner to change things that you saw happen, that it would cause a paradox... and something about that killing you or something."
The man chuckled at this "Even after all these years you remember a conversation you had with her about a purely theoretical concept, or at least well enough to get the important points. Most of that is true for time turners, but time turners are a cheap imitation of time travel. A time turner doesn't actually cause you to move back in time it only folds your personal time line so that there are two versions of you running around simultaneously, as a result if you change something your second time through the magic of the time turner can't change your original actions, so instead it just kills you. What I'm talking about involves actually stepping outside of the time line and moving back to a time of your choice."
"Why me though? And who are you anyways?"
"Ah, yes, I suppose I should introduce myself. My name is Virgil Hunter, Master of Time. As to why you, well it isn't just you is it? The results of your actions will change the lives of millions. The future that I have seen is not a place anyone wants to live in, and from what I have pieced together you are the key to making the world a better place. So here is what I am going to offer you, I will transfer all your memories of your life to your past self so that you can change your fate, I will help you figure out what to change and what not to change."
Harry considered what Virgil had to say for a few moments be fore he asked "So when would I go back to if I agreed?"
"The best option would be right before your first year. This will allow you to begin making small changes that will have a cumulative effect on the time line."
Harry thought about this and then something Virgil had said earlier came back to him "You said that I could save other people. So I could save Sirius" Virgil nodded "and Cedric" nod "Fred, Remus, and Tonks" nod "and Dumbledore"
"NO" Virgil all but yelled "You cannot under any circumstances save that bastard, if the option presents itself you should probably help him shuffle off this mortal coil sooner rather than later."
Harry was shocked by this response "What do you mean? What's wrong with Dumbledore?"
Virgil just looked at Harry and sighed "Alright, I need you to think about a few things, really think about them and then ask that question again. Dumbledore was responsible for you being placed with the Dursleys, why place you with them? Why not with a wizarding family? Why did he have Hagrid bring you to him personally, there was an entire Ministry department devoted to relocating orphans during the First Blood War."
"He said that I was protected there, that it kept the protection my mother gave me alive."
"Is that what he told you? I knew he was good at lying to people but that is a good one. If that were even true it still wouldn't justify what happened there. First even if there were protections there that can't be put anywhere else they would only be able to protect you at that house and nowhere else, so it wouldn't be safe for you to leave except to go directly to Hogwarts. Also the protection your mother gave you is in your blood, but it's powered by your magic it will always be a part of you even if you had never met your Aunt. But moving on to more recent actions, why did he send Hagrid to bring you to Diagon Alley? Every other muggle raised student was introduced to magic by a professor, but you get Hagrid. Don't get me wrong he is a good man but he was probably the worst person to answer any questions you had. Why did Dumbledore move the Stone to Hogwarts in the first place? Why were the protections so simple to overcome? How did Dumbledore not realize something was up with Quirrel?"
"I... I don't know, there isn't any real reason I can think of... except maybe..."
"Maybe he was setting you up even then to be a martyr, to throw away your life for his plan, because that is what he wanted. He wasn't supposed to die, and you weren't supposed to survive. It was a fluke that you did survive, if you hadn't already been the master of all three hallows, you would have died, and more importantly, you would have died for nothing."
Shocked didn't even begin to describe how Harry felt at this revelation, trying to buy himself time to think it through he asked a question he thought would throw Virgil off long enough to do some thinking "But what about the horcrux? I had to die to get rid of the one in me." Virgil just looked at him for a second and then he did something completely unexpected, he laughed, and he kept laughing. Harry stared at him "What is so damn funny!"
"Did you ever even stop to think about that, not before he killed you obviously, but afterward. Did you ever mention it to Granger?"
"Yes I mentioned it to Hermione. Why does it matter?" Harry snapped emphasizing the fact that his friend had a first name and that he didn't appreciate the way Virgil talked about her with so little respect.
"And she never pieced it together? Hmmm, even with it over I would have thought she would have looked into it... unless... that would explain a lot. The old man must have put a delayed compulsion on her not to question your being a horcrux, and why she went along with that stupid horcrux hunt. If you were a horcrux how did that piece of soul survive so long in your head? Look what happened to Quirrel when you touched him, and that was with your body and his body insulating the shadow of Riddle from your mother's protection. Even with a body designed as the perfect protection from that same effect trying to possess you in the Ministry nearly killed him. Even if a piece of his soul tried to attach itself to you in '81 your magic probably ate it, which would actually explain you being a parselmouth, and if it didn't it would have found itself in the most hostile environment imaginable, there is no way it could have survived, and even if it somehow had it would have been so weak a kiss from Granger probably would have killed it."
"Wait.. what do you mean? I-I wasn't a horcrux? Okay assuming you are telling the truth, why was the horcrux hunt a stupid idea? We needed to destroy all of them to beat Riddle."
"Yes you did, but you didn't need to find them all to destroy them all. If Granger had done any extra research into it she would have easily found a much easier way to destroy them all. In two of the books she did read about horcruxes one of the references was to a well respected guide to destroying dark objects, the Codex Venator, she could have easily obtained a copy of the book through the owl order service she used for most books. That book would have told her something that neither Dumbles nor Riddle ever figured out, the real reason why no one until Riddle was stupid enough to make more than one horcrux. All horcruxes made by the same person are connected to each other, get your hands on one horcrux and with a simple ritual you destroy all of them, so why bother creating more than one, you just leave more opportunities for your enemies to get their hands on a chunk of your soul. But enough of that, clearly you can't trust Dumbles, but he wasn't your only enemy hiding as a friend, watch out for the Weasleys as well, specifically Ron, Ginny, and Molly."
"But they were... they were my..."
"Friends? Sorry to break it to you, but they were your handlers, keep you under Dumbledore's control and they got what they wanted out of it. Ginny got to be Mrs. Harry Potter, Molly got money, and Ron got money and Granger."
"Her name is HERMIONE! And what do you mean Ron got her? I thought they were in love."
"In love? Look where you are standing kid. What kind of man murders his own wife, especially if he actually loved her? No she never loved him, they gave her some weak jealousy potions to make her think she might like him, then some weak love potions to make her fall for him, that was part of why she was so upset when he left during the hunt. The potion almost made her leave you and go with Ron, when she overcame the potion she started to question everything that happened with Ron, she needed a sounding-board, she needed you to listen to her thoughts and either confirm or deny her suspicions, but you were a stupid angsty teenager and you left her to stew in her own thoughts, and then when you stopped her from attacking Ron when he came back it was a confirmation that she had made it all up, and then Ron started giving her potions again. They did the same thing to you as well. It worked quicker on you because you didn't think Ginny was a disgusting and contemptible excuse for a human being."
"You make them sound like Slytherins, how did they all end up in Gryfindor if they were that bad?"
"That is actually a funny story, I'll tell it to you some time if you take my offer. So what do you think? Once more into the breech?" Virgil asked extending his hand to Harry.
"You'll be there to help me finish this better than last time?" Virgil nodded "Alright then, let's do this." Harry shook the offered hand and with a quiet pop the graveside was vacant.
Next chapter: the finer details of time and the journey back.