Though I always find this redundant, I don't own the characters or anything else you recognize by J.K. Rowling. She owns the sand, I'm just making a few castles.
Brief Summary: Harry Potter, two years after his defeat of Voldemort and over thirty since the Dark Lord's return in the Triwizard Tournament, abandons the decimated remains of Europe and travels backward into his own past, hoping desperately to right what went wrong. Harry is unmistakably powerful, but no matter what time he resides in, neither of them can live while the other survives. Enjoy, and please review!
The gentle pattering of the rain against the windows paired with the periodic clap of thunder seemed an all too appropriate underscoring for the greying wizard that sat entranced, alone, pouring over the vast tome on his desk. The flickering candlelight illuminated dancing shadows around the room, formed by the mostly overturned and unused furniture strewn throughout the Hogwarts Headmaster's Office. Towering columns of books already completed were hastily juxtaposed near the abandoned phoenix perch while those yet to be read waited patiently on their shelves. His eyes were growing tired; he would need sleep soon.
But with sleep came the unbearable memories of the past forty years. The visions of mangled bodies, glassy-eyed corpses, and fallen friends were all-consuming at times, and no more suffocating than when he slept. Despite years of honing his Occlumency abilities, the savior of the wizarding world felt unable to protect himself from his own mind, a very difficult lesson that he wished he'd been able to digest earlier. His mind was not something to be trusted, it was something to be feared.
He closed his eyes, leaning back gently in the oaken chair and pinching the bridge of his nose, an old habit from wearing glasses for so long that he still found himself performing despite having corrected the problem some twenty years ago. Yes, his mind was a dangerous thing, and never more so than when it casually brought an idea so completely brilliant into his head that he had no choice but to invest himself in it. He knew the risks were monumental; he could lose his life in the process or be left in a state of complete insanity. But even this seemed little to pay after he had considered everything: he'd contemplated taking his life on many occasions, and whatever insanity entailed, it couldn't be so much worse than spending every waking moment staring at complicated, jargon-filled textbooks and research reports.
But even his best conceived plans had amounted to nothing as of yet. There were some promising leads; he'd been convinced for a few weeks that he could find a way to magically enhance a time turner and work around the details once he made it back, but aside from eventually admitting that magic of that degree, even for him, was impossible, he further realized that the plan had been doomed from the start. Two of him running around would do little good.
To transmit memories through time was very tricky indeed. He'd briefly considered loading his memories into a pensieve and sending it back to Dumbledore, but the man, while proving an adept leader, had been secretive and manipulative while alive. Not even he could be trusted with compete knowledge of the future. As if consenting, fate showed him a book in the next few days that proved time travel of anything with the mass and magical energy of a pensieve was absolutely impossible.
There was a brief glint of hope a month ago... maybe two, there was no reason to count. The only remaining item that even knew of his existence was a small enchanted date-keeper that recorded his actions. If he died trying and anyone should come upon it, at least they'd know what he'd died for, that once again, he'd risked his life to do what was right and payed dearly for it.
He thought he'd finally found it when he came across and old paper penned by Remus. It stung to see his name, to know that almost half a century ago the man who'd been like an uncle to him was researching magical and scientific means to establishing a Grand Unified Theory and, by extension, the possibility of traveling through time. His throat tightened to realize that Remus had felt the same pangs of guilt about Lily's and James' deaths as he had about Ron's, Hermione's, and Ginny's. It was only after hours of painstaking reading to understand the technical concepts, not to mention several consultations to a library-sized assortment of Muggle textbooks, that he arrived at a brick wall: the paper had no ending.
He searched for what felt like hours through every book and drawer for the final pages but found nothing. It took some inferring to arrive at why Remus would have stopped, or at least kept the ending to himself. Remus was incredibly intelligent, much more so than himself at any rate. In all likelihood, he showed the paper to Dumbledore to illustrate his plan without disclosing the actual formula or spell work, and Dumbledore must have metaphorically talked him down off the ledge. If he could have gone back to save them from that night, the first war never would have ended. Dumbledore needed only point out that saving James', Lily's, and Harry's life that first time would only prevent the inevitable, and the second time Tom Riddle came around, Harry might not survive. Of course, as far as he knew, Remus may have been unable to finish the paper himself and turned to Dumbledore for assistance. He could never know.
He awoke with a start as the wooden chair squeaked slightly under his weight. Realizing he'd dozed off at his desk for what must have been the hundredth time, the wizard decided to retire, wearily laying his scarred left hand on the wall to the left of his desk to reveal a comfortable albeit slightly small living quarters for the Headmaster. Removing his heavier cloak, the man lowered himself into bed, knowing that nightmares of Remus' gruesome and sudden death would strangle him like a snake tonight.
No wonder this book was under such a strong concealment charmhe thought, his eyes hungrily consuming the Runes that predated any he'd ever come into contact with. Their properties when combined with certain incantations and wand movements were astounding, and wedged between the five hundred and third and fourth page, he found a letter on an ancient looking parchment with a distinctively crimson trim.
It is the sincere hope of those gathered here that the Runes and rituals contained in this book should never find use in your time. Magic of this nature is better left to the realm of dreams and desire. However, if the state of the world has declined beyond repair, we simply wish you good luck. Be ever cognizant of the incredible power you wield, and use it with cunning, reason, loyalty, and bravery.
Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Salazar Slytherin, and Ramona Ravenclaw
The man, slack jawed and eyes wide in amazement, let the parchment hang limply in his hand. Not only had he found his answers, they had been hand delivered to him by his school's founders. It was a last resort, the power and implications of which were as unknown to him as everything else he'd researched, but his patience was rapidly waning. This was his best opportunity by far.
Seasons changed over the two months the wizard spent digesting the untitled masterpiece of magical knowledge and plowing through highly complex arithmancy formulae. He wondered often if Dumbledore had found the book in his time, had read and understood just how terribly dangerous knowledge like this could be to all but the most ungarnished souls. As the graying wizard gazed onto the charred wasteland that surrounded the remains of Hogwarts, the ramparts demolished, the Forbidden Forrest now a great plain, flashes of the war came to him like bolts of lightning. If all went as it should, he would be leaving this hell on Earth far behind.
"Open," he spoke in the language of the serpents as the demolished sink gave way to a large pipe. Hovering down through the pungent slime, he arrived at the entrance of the Chamber of Secrets.
The ancient Baselisk was only a skeleton now, but the stench of a rotting carcass still enshrouded the room. A dim light cast by the torches lining the walls was the only aid to Harry's visibility. He rectified that with a wandless intensifying charm, the flames nearly tripling in size and bathing the Chamber of Secrets in light.
With a horizontal slice of his wand, the ruins of the middle chamber exploded into myriad particles of dust, carried off quickly by the gusting winds of Harry's magic. Having flat ground in front of him, he set to inscribing the newly transfigured surface with the Runes from the Founder's book, the patterns complicated even for a wizard of his skill and knowledge.
"Finished," he said under his breath after nearly three hours of constant spellwork, wiping his brow with the dust-covered sleeve of the blue cloak he wore. He took his place at the center of the intricate configuration of enchanted rocks, runes, and geometrical designs and removed the red potion from his cloak pocket, swirling by its own accord within the small beaker. It would test his soul, the book had said, approving him for the journey he would be making, as well as saturating the purified soul with enough magical energy to survive the trek. Taking a generous gulp of the surprisingly cool molten liquid, his body began to shake, sending him to his knees. The quaking of his limbs seemed tame compared to the maelstrom his mind was weathering, as images of his life, both moments of greatest elation and abject grief enclosed his senses.
A boy was sitting in an undersized cupboard under the steps, afraid to leave its sanctuary and nursing a large bruise on his right leg. He was shivering, the tattered blanket around him his only source of warmth. He was eleven; he was told he was a wizard. He was on a beautiful and massive locomotive, meeting a young boy with orange hair and a bushy-haired young girl. He saw his family for the first time, reflected in a mirror. Sirius had just asked him to live with him, and just as quickly, he was flying off into the night on a large Hippogriff. Voldemort returned, the cold, snake-like eyes boring into him like an icicle. Sirius was slipping through the veil. His fellow students looked at him like he was a monster. He kissed Ginny; he felt weightless. A blonde-haired boy was bleeding profusely in a puddle of water. Dumbledore was falling from the tower. Hogwarts fell. The Ministry building was burning to the ground. Hogwarts taken back, but the price was so high... it haunted him. The light green curse hit Ginny as she fell. He killed many that night, over fifty Death Eaters fell by his hand. Six months of training, still Voldemort lived. Hermoine's blank stare into nothingness, Ron's sacrifice. Their final confrontation, Voldemort's body burning in the fiendfyre.
The runes around him glowed, first a sickly shade of green and gradually, as he regained some sense of control, they had turned white.
Finding himself alive, he rubbed his forehead as he brought himself back up to a standing position in in the center of the circle, unwanted tears leaking from his hardened eyes. Although the potion had miraculously found him worthy, doubts wracked his mind as he readied himself for the final step of the ritual. Harry James Potter, taking one final look at the world he saved too late, put the tip of his wand to his temple.