A/N: This is a collection of one-shots that I occasionally come up with while working on other stories. Some of them are complete stand-alone stories that don't need anything else, and some of them could easily be extended into multi-chapter fics at some later date.
This first one is a melding of two different ideas that have plagued me for a while, the beginning is an alternative time travel idea I came up with shortly after I began writing Harry Potter and the Master of Time. The end and possible continuation were originally going to be my own version of robst's A Different Halloween. I have nothing but respect for robst and his work, if you haven't read any of his work I strongly recommend it to you, but I felt that A Different Halloween solved too many of the problems of the Harry Potter universe to quickly and cleanly. Upon further thought I realized that the two ideas dovetailed perfectly into each other and what would have been a relatively short time travel experiment could easily be the lead in to a much grander story. I don't know if I will ever continue this if I did it would definitely not be until after I finished off at least two of my other stories.
Harry Potter didn't know where it had all gone wrong. Well, that wasn't entirely accurate, the truth was he didn't know how he could have done anything differently to make things turn out better. True, they had won the war, Voldemort had been dead for nearly three decades now, but they had lost the peace. This fact more than any other slowly ate away at Harry's soul.
In the chaos that had surrounded the collapse of the Ministry of Magic following the defeat of Voldemort the very people that they had fought so hard to defeat had used their influence and money to insinuate themselves into the new government. These weren't the militant and sadistic pureblood supremacists that had flocked to the banner of the wizard who had been born Tom Marvolo Riddle. No, these were the ones who gladly welcomed him into the halls of government, trumpeting his beliefs while always holding onto the justification that they had only followed orders. They called themselves Traditionalists, hoping to convince others that they were only interested in protecting the heritage of the wizarding world. Anyone who bothered to look could easily see though that this was only so much misdirection, they claimed that they didn't care about a person's blood status, that their laws were designed to protect traditions from the ignorant not to persecute the muggleborn.
It had taken only six months after the fall of Voldemort to see the first Traditionalist elected Minister. Horatio Avery had never been as outspoken as is death eater cousin, but he still held the same beliefs. Shortly after that election a number of so-called "Heritage Protection Acts" were passed through the Wizengamot. The first few seemed reasonable enough, protecting the estates of purebloods from seizure by the Ministry, the creation of a Department of Magical Genealogy to handle the inheritance of certain rights and properties following the death of so many witches and wizards in the war. These laws however had only been the groundwork for new laws that passed easily with the influx of new members who supported the Traditionalist agenda following the implementation of the DoMG. By the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century it was illegal for any muggleborn to work for the Ministry of Magic, it was illegal for any halfblood to hold a management position in the Ministry. Financial reforms saw muggleborns and halfbloods unable to open new businesses while also subsidizing the hiring of companies that employed only purebloods.
Harry had seen much of this coming, but the contract he had signed when he had become an auror under Kingsley Shacklebolt, two months before he lost the election, prevented him from making any public statement against Ministry policy. With Harry silenced, and Hermione increasingly marginalized under ever increasing restriction the only other member of the 'Golden Trio' in a position to speak out against the new laws was Ronald Weasley. Unfortunately Ron soon realized that he had much more to gain by backing the new laws than opposing them. Ron had quickly risen through the ranks of the Auror Corps while Harry was pushed to the side. It had been this final betrayal that had permanently sundered their friendship and Harry and Hermione hadn't spoken to Ron since his first interview in favor of another proposed law.
Ron's sister Ginny had convinced Harry to restart their relationship in the aftermath of the war, but as his fame slowly dwindled she began to look elsewhere. By the beginning of the new century they had split up, and it had been far from amicable. This had resulted in Harry and Hermione moving in together, both heartbroken that the people they had thought cared for them had so cruelly cast them aside. They healed each other as they tried to raise Harry's godson Teddy Lupin. In this new arrangement old feelings, that both thought they had successfully buried years before, were drawn back to the surface. They had married in the autumn of 2001.
In a fit of jealous revenge Ron had convinced some of his new backers to assist him in hurting the Potters. A judiciary board had overruled the last will and testament of Sirius Orion Black, thereby stripping Harry of his position as head of House Black. As a result of this three year old Teddy was now heir apparent to House Black and Narcissa Malfoy was declared regent of House Black, taking custody of Teddy on his fourth birthday. Harry hadn't seen his godson again until he applied for a job at the Ministry following his graduation from Hogwarts, by that time the once bright and cheerful little boy and become a sneering duplicate of Draco Malfoy.
Five years after they had married Hermione had died under suspicious circumstances, in Harry's search for answers in his wife's death he had stepped on many toes and soon found himself losing his position and most of his money. They had not been able to fire him outright, but they had shuffled him off into a minor position as a Ministry clerk, filing expense reports and cross-referencing records for other departments. In his grief he had sought solace in whatever means were available, and it had been that which lead him to his current plan. His plan had taken nearly twenty years to flesh out completely, but it had been finished, and now everything had been set in motion, but before it was completed he had one last thing he wanted to do.
Harry stuck his head through the bars of his cell and called for the guard. Once the guard was standing in front of his cell Harry informed him of his intentions. "I'd like to speak to Director Weasley, I wish to make a full confession."
As he was roughly pulled from his cell he quickly looked to make sure nothing of the interior could be seen from the hallway. Satisfied that his efforts of the last few hours would not be noticed Harry allowed himself to be lead away to an interrogation room.
When Ronald Weasley, Director of Magical Law Enforcement, entered interrogation room seven the man who sat before him bore little resemblance to his former friend. His once untamed black hair was now matted and shot through with gray and was accompanied by a thick beard. Eyes which had seemed so alive years before now had a quality of death about them which sent shivers down his spine. Gone was the charismatic young man who had lead an army of teenagers against the most feared Dark Lord in recent history, in his place sat a man stooped over under decades of misery.
"Hello Weasley." Harry said as Ron took a seat opposite him. "Do you mind if I smoke?" He asked as he pulled a half-empty pack of cigarettes from an inside pocket. Ron just shrugged as he lit the cigarette Harry was holding. "Thank you. You know every muggle I know keeps telling me that these things will kill me, unfortunately they haven't yet. Hermione's parents convinced me to quit when I started after her funeral, I was the last connection left to their daughter, I couldn't disappoint them. When Jean and David passed I saw no reason not to anymore."
"Is there a point to any of this Harry?" Ron asked impatiently.
"Of course there's a point to it Weasley, but before I get to that let me ask you a question. Do you really think, after all that I've been through, that you could have caught me if I didn't want to be caught?" Harry asked. Ron remained silent unable to think of a response. "I'll take that as a no. Of course that would lead an intelligent person to ask why I wanted to get caught. Luckily the Ministry hasn't hired an intelligent person in over a decade."
"Don't hurt yourself trying to figure it out Weasley, I fully intend to explain everything." The smirk on Harry's face was the closest thing to a smile he had worn since his wife had died. "Of course this isn't really for your benefit Weasley, you don't have the capacity to understand. I just want to get this all on the record, it's for posterity you see, and for the unspeakable who is no doubt listening in on one of the five listening charms in this room."
"How..." Ron began, confused as to how Harry could possibly detect the charms without his wand.
"Unlike you Weasley, I eventually realized that there is always more to learn" Harry interrupted the slightly pudgy redhead. "And I've had twenty years to learn a few tricks. It took us three years to finally piece together exactly why we lost everything, do you know what our conclusion was? The events following the first fall of Voldemort laid the groundwork for the eventual subjugation of Great Britain to the pureblood ideology. You see, when the war ended there were only a handful of heroes left, and by the end of November of '81 there was only one whose mind, body, and reputation were intact. If my parents had survived that Halloween they would have been the figureheads of the younger generation while my father could have used his position as Lord Potter to galvanize the moderates in the Wizengamot. Barty Crouch was a shoe-in for Minister until his son was arrested, Frank Longbottom was the only logical choice to replace him as head of the DMLE. In the end though Dumbledore was the only one left, and he cared too much about redeeming the guilty and too little about protecting the innocent."
"As a result the same people who had just spent years terrorizing innocents were able to gain power and influence while a precedent of forgiveness was set for dealing with the followers of Dark Lords. Into this you introduce a generation of people who see that the purebloods can make their own rules and literally get away with murder and you have a recipe for disaster. These so-called Traditionalists held the same ideals as the pureblood movement, they were simply smarter about it. Why stick your neck out for a dark lord when you can just wait around for the aftermath. They slowly made their way into positions of power using the rampant corruption and nepotism that Dumbledore tacitly approved of when he maneuvered Fudge into the top job following Bagnold's retirement. All they needed was the chaos of another war to knock off their more moderate competition, a war that Voldemort was more than willing to provide."
By this point Harry had finished his first cigarette and used the still burning butt to light his next one before he continued his story. "Once we understood the real problem all we had to do was come up with a plan to fix things. By this point there was very little we wanted to save so we didn't limit ourselves to the more traditional methods of change. Every time we came up with a plan we would hit some little snag that would make it worthless. Finally, twelve years ago we came up with a solution that could work."
"We? Who are you working with?" Ron demanded.
"Who else Weasley, Hermione of course. No one else could have come up with a plan this elegant and intricate." Harry said his eyes full of pain.
"Cut the hippogriff shit, she's dead Potter." Ron snarled.
"Of course she is Ron, she's been dead for nineteen years ten months and twelve days. Ever since November 7th 2006, the day you killed her. Did you really have to kill her on our wedding anniversary?Do you know why we picked that date Ronald? We picked it because it was the date we should have realized that the only people in the magical world we could depend on were each other, it was the date you abandoned us in that tent all those years ago. But I'm getting off track, you see my wife may be dead, but she is always with me." Harry explained as he withdrew a small black stone from his pocket, the stone bore a symbol on the front but it was marred by a horizontal slash where the stone had once been split by the sword of Godric Gryfindor. "The Resurrection Stone, I spent a month combing the Forbidden Forest for it. I used the Elder Wand to stabilize her and the Cloak to tie her to this world for at least a little while at a time. She becomes completely real for a few hours at a time, and in those hours we came up with our plan."
"We realized early on that this world was not worth saving as it is. So our only options lay in the past. The major problem we faced was every viable option required going back to 1981 or earlier. To go that far back would require opening a stable time vortex, and the energy to create even one the size of a pinhead would require resources we couldn't easily get. But now we had a plan and we just needed to get our hands on the right pieces to put together a ritual that would have the desired effect. I spent what little remained of the Potter fortune to buy most of the materials I needed, but the last two pieces were hidden away in the Department of Mysteries. First I would need a supply of unprocessed temporal sand, which would require knowing exactly when a shipment would be coming in. Luckily with my new position I was in a unique position to understand the Ministry. After taking a couple of night classes on forensic accounting I was able to find the working accounts of the DoM." Harry chuckled a little "Even the unspeakables can't keep a secret from a truly motivated accountant. Knowing where the money for an order would come from and having already determined the price of acquiring the sand I simply had to create the need for a shipment. So two weeks ago I broke into the DoM and destroyed their entire stock of time turners while also double checking the presence of the last piece of the puzzle. Four days later a report crossed my desk informing me that the DoM slush account had paid out for unnamed supplies, from there I tracked the receiving account to figure out where the shipment would be coming from. Three days ago they finally received their shipment of temporal sand from Saudi Arabia, and last night I broke in again and stole it, while I was doing that I crashed the wards around one specific room in the DoM."
At this point in his story Harry pulled out a little silver pocket watch to check the time. Ron's mind finally made a connection that any halfway decent law enforcement officer would have made shortly after he had entered the room. "How the hell did you get that in here? It should have been confiscated when you were arrested."
"Ah Weasley, as slow as ever. The same could easily be said of the cigarettes and the Stone, but what you should be considering is this; if I could get all this stuff in here, what else did I bring with me?" Harry said, the smirk back on his face. "Like I said Weasley, I've had twenty years to learn a few tricks. When I took those forensic accounting classes most of my classmates were in law enforcement, and they had some interesting stories. The stories I was most interested in were those about smuggling, and there was one particular method that caught my interest. The smuggler would take a small rubber balloon and fill it with drugs or whatever other small objects they wanted to sneak in and then swallow the balloon. Their cargo would be safely hidden in their stomach, protected by the balloon. If they were only smuggling a single balloon they would usually tie a piece of dental floss around the top f the balloon and the other end around a tooth so they could fish the balloon out. Add an undetectable expansion charm and the possibilities are almost limitless."
"You see Weasley the final problem for completing the ritual was the power source, there was really only one option in the world for supplying the power necessary for opening the vortex. Tell me, do you know what lies behind the Locked Door in the Department of Mysteries? Don't bother answering, I know you don't have the clearance to know the answer. Dumbledore once told me the power behind the Door was the power of Love, I don't know if he was lying to me to sell me on Love being 'the power the dark lord knew not' or if he was actually stupid enough to believe that. No, what really lies behind the door is both greater and more terrible than Dumbledore could have ever imagined; The Stone Table. The original centerpiece of Stonehenge, a single block of stone that has tasted the lifeblood of thousands of human sacrifices, a piece of stone that holds so much energy that it is literally bursting with it releasing more energy than most minds could comprehend every second. Last night I destroyed the wards that prevented the energy of The Stone Table from escaping that room, that is the source of the power surges that've been reported all day, and that is the power source that will complete my plan. I knew I would need to complete the ritual inside the Ministry, so I let you catch me, and you gave me six hours to set up my ritual, and now in five minutes the vortex will open with the rising of the full moon and I will travel through it." Seeing the look of triumph on Ron's face drew another chuckle from Harry.
"I have already set in motion events that can not be turned aside Weasley. Even the unspeakables running toward my cell will be unable to stop this, the wards will stop them from interfering, and you can not stop me either. As I said the vortex is barely the side of the head of a pin, to small for a person to walk through, but plenty big for a portkey to travel through." As Harry finally finished his explanation his watch started to vibrate. "That's my cue I suppose, goodbye Weasley." As Harry felt the familiar tug of a portkey activating he whispered "Happy Birthday my love." before he vanished from the room.
When Harry stopped spinning he found himself standing at the apparition point for the visitors entrance to the Ministry of Magic. Walking swiftly from the alleyway Harry looked for the nearest newspaper stand. Checking the date Harry silently cheered his success, April 10, 1980.
A clean-shaven Harry Potter stood across from a small clinic in Oxford, his hair once more looked as though he had just gotten off his broomstick after a quidditch match, though it was still graying. His eyes were once again alive with hope, because today would see his plan finally completed. He watched as a woman with curly brown hair entered the clinic with a bushy-haired little girl holding her hand. There was only one person who had ever really been able to save Harry from the worst events of his life, and Harry was certain that if given the chance Hermione Granger could save him from losing his parents, even if she was only a little over two years old.
To this end Harry had spent over a year setting up the meeting that was about to occur. First he had put a light compulsion charm on a friend of Lily Potter to suggest that it would be safer to take her son to a muggle pediatrician instead of St. Mungo's. Then he had used a few more charms to point her toward the very clinic he was standing across from. This of course all had to be done while she was still pregnant so that she would not suspect anything when Harry had to make his final move. Lily Potter had made a habit of taking her son to the same clinic every three months to make sure he was still healthy, when her doctor had a family emergency and had to reschedule her original appointment to Halloween she thought nothing of it. It had taken a great deal of work for Harry to make sure that Hermione and his younger self had back to back appointments on Halloween, but it was vital to the plan that they meet on this day.
In the years after he left Hogwarts Harry had come to realize just how close the connection between himself and Hermione was. Even when they had been at least nominally dating other people they still saw more of each other than they saw of their respective Weasley. When they finally got together both realized that it was the inevitable result of events that had started when they first met on the Hogwarts Express. Research had shown them that it was completely possible that they had recognized in each other their perfect match even at the age of eleven. Further research had shown that in younger children such a reaction would be even stronger, and Harry had gambled quite a bit on the connection between himself and Hermione.
Harry knew his gamble had paid off when he watched the young Hermione look up from her picture book the moment Lily Potter entered the clinic with Harry's younger counterpart. The moment Lily put Harry down Hermione walked over and introduced herself. Through his monitoring charm on the waiting room he watched the toddlers playing together as their mothers introduced themselves. Over the next half hour Harry watched the toddlers form a connection that would last a lifetime. The sadness in little Harry's eyes as his new friend went back to see the Doctor would have broken even the coldest of hearts. When Hermione finally returned Harry rushed to hug his new friend and took two minutes to let go so he could have his own appointment, and even then only let go when she promised to wait for him to come back out.
When little Harry was finished with his appointment Hermione invited him and his mother back to the Granger's house for playtime and tea respectively. Seeing the excitement in her son's eyes Lily couldn't bring herself to refuse and all four of them walked the three blocks to the Granger home. While Harry and Hermione played together on the floor and Jean Granger made tea Lily called James Potter to inform him of her new plans for the afternoon and to assure him of their safety.
Four hours later David Granger returned home from work and Lily realized that she and Harry would need to get home, it was this inevitable moment that Harry had been dreading, the moment when Lily decided to go home, and it was in this moment that Hermione showed Harry how right he had been to put his faith in her. Hermione's violent magical outburst at the thought of being separated from her new best friend shattered a window and set both toddlers crying as Hermione tried to apologize for breaking another window. Lily quickly had her wand out and repaired the window before conjuring a trio of bluebirds to distract the kids while she explained magic to Jean and David Granger. Knowing that this conversation would take a while she called her husband again and had him apparate over to help her explain.
Once James and Lily had fully explained the magical world and Hermione's place in it as a witch it was getting very late and the Grangers invited the Potters to stay for dinner. Over dinner they discussed some of the differences between the magical world and the muggle world. This inevitably lead the conversation to the topic of the war currently going on in the magical world and the fact that the Potters were in hiding. As dinner was finishing up a small mirror in James's pocket began to vibrate, pulling it out of his pocket he was met by the relieved voice of Sirius Black.
Apparently Sirius had gone to check on Peter Petigrew earlier only to find the Potter's secret keeper was not in his safe house. Sirius had immediately set off to Godric's Hollow only to find Peter waiting outside the Potters' cottage. Moments later Voldemort himself had emerged from the now burning cottage and begun torturing Petigrew for failing him. Once Sirius had confirmed the Potters were safe he agreed to meet James at the apartment of Remus Lupin where James would escort his old friends to the home he was currently in.
Lily Potter was reeling, her home had been attacked and only pure coincidence had prevented her from being there when it had happened. Lily hadn't a doubt in her mind that if that had been the case her entire family would now be dead. The Grangers had been kind enough to offer to let them stay until things settled down a bit and Lily was sure they would take them up on that offer at least until the wards around Potter Manor were finished being upgraded. Lily had just finished helping Jean put the kids to bed, they had refused to let go of each other even in sleep and were now cuddled up together in Hermione's room.
Lily had stepped out into the Grangers' backyard only to receive another shock as a voice called to her from the shadows that clung to the fence.
"Hello mum" The man who stepped from the shadows looked to be in his fifties, but the resemblance to James was uncanny, but what really told her who this was were the green eyes that were looking straight into her matching eyes.
"Time travel." Harry answered simply "You don't need the details, and I don't have the time to give them to you. You were supposed to be in Godric's hollow tonight, but I couldn't let that happen, not again. It was bad enough when I thought it meant something, but in the end it only made things worse."
"Harry why did you come here? You can't just go rewriting time because things don't turn out the way you want."
"You sound just like her," Harry said with a sad smile "It took me years to convince her that not only could I pull this off, but that it was the right thing to do. I considered every possible alternative, and this was the only one with an acceptable outcome. If I'm right sometime in the next few weeks Voldemort will attack the Longbottoms, if he does it should destroy him though it will likely cost Frank and Alice their lives."
"So you just traded their lives for ours?"
"No, they didn't survive the war either. Like I said I've considered the alternatives. If he doesn't go after them or he survives killing them you need to give this to Dumbledore." Harry said as he pulled a thick envelope from his pocket "No matter what happens, when this war ends you need to remember; the guilty must pay for their crimes. That is the basis of every civil society on earth, and no matter what line of crap Dumbledore tries to sell you it is the only way to save magical society in Britain. I haven't got much time before my time line collapses completely so I guess this is goodbye."
Lily stepped toward her son and pulled him into a tight hug before she asked him one last question "Who were you talking about when you said I sounded just like her?"
Harry's eyes went to an upstairs window, on the other side of which, if Lily remembered correctly, his younger self slept. "My wife." He said before he simply faded away.
A/N: This really could be the end of the story, but if enough people like it I may continue it eventually. If I do the story will continue from this point with the Longbottoms getting attacked and Neville becoming the Boy Who Lived. Lily and James push to see all the Death Eaters punished for their crimes only to see many of them escape punishment by bribing officials. James realizes that in order to beat the Death Eaters he needs to destroy them financially and after an education from David Granger in all the things that are illegal for muggle businesses uses his new knowledge to become a financial power house. Eventually Harry and Hermione enter Hogwarts where some of Harry's original adventures are repeated but with significant changes due to the change in the timeline.