This was written in response to the idea of "Loops", started on The Fanfiction Forum (link in my profile for those who are curious), which is a scenario in which the characters of anime, manga, book series, etc. are in a perennial Groundhog Day loop, not of a single day but of a timeline adhering to years. In this specific fanfiction, thegeneral(but not held exactly strict) looping timeline for the Harry Potter series is from the hut scene near the start of Philosopher's Stone to some point after the last battle at Hogwarts.
"Awake" refers to a character who, during the course of a loop, is aware of the fact that there are Loops and has memories from at least a single past life.
Crossover loops with other series also occur.
The audience watched with abated breath as the Third Task progressed, the four Triwizard Champions making their way through the maze. Occasionally, a loud explosion would come from the maze, making select members of the crowd jump up, startled by the abrupt, noisy stimuli.
Then the Task began to drag on, and the spectators began to wonder what was going on. By the time three hours had elapsed, many were making occasional boos. To them, the First Task had been the best. At least they could see what was going on then. While the Second Task had been nearly sightless for the watchers, it was only the Second Task. Here, in the Third Task, the towering hedges made it impossible for them to see the crowning moment when the true Champion would lift the Cup.
Some of the members in the audience were beginning to worry, however. Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore was one of them. He had a direct magical link to the Cup, so he would know when a Champion approached it. After the Champion touched the cup, it would act as a Portkey, bringing them to outside the maze.
Only he felt the Cup disappear, and it didn't come out of the maze. When that had occurred, he had cast a scanning spell on the maze. Two of the Champions, the Quidditch Prodigy and the Veela girl, were both unconscious. He had signalled to a couple of Aurors to cast Disillusionment Charms on themselves to head in and retrieve the two. But the spell could not locate the two members of Hogwarts, Harry Potter and Cedric Diggory. Even more worrying, it seemed there was something else missing from the maze too.
It was then, with a sudden crack!, that the aforementioned Cedric Diggory suddenly appeared, with the Triwizard Cup in his hands. Dumbledore was the first to rush over to him, old bones aching as he bolted into a run.
Madame Pomfrey beat him to the boy, turning Cedric over from his kneeling position, and already examining him. While Cedric didn't look injured, with no tears in his clothing, and no blood or acidic fluids on his skin, Dumbledore had no idea what might have happened to Cedric during the time he was gone with the Cup, to wherever Harry quite possibly was. And he seemed to be shaking heavily, his face pale.
"Cedric, what happened?" Dumbledore rushed his words out in a half-urgent, half-disciplined manner. Normally his speech would have been far more nuanced, time was possibly of the necessity here.
The Hufflepuff turned his head over to Dumbledore, and squealed. "Oh, Headmaster...i-i-it was h-horrible..." Cedric seemed to be shaking even more.
"I see," Dumbledore said, cursing whatever scoundrel it was that had done something to shake poor Cedric up. "Forgive me, my boy." Making firm eye contact with Cedric, he brought his wand out and spoke a single word, "Legilimens." He normally didn't use this spell on students, as it was a violation of their privacy (and besides, the paintings and House Elves could inform him of any important going-ons in the castle), but he needed to quickly find out what had happened to Cedric, and what had also happened to Harry. In the poor Seventh Year's state, Dumbledore doubted he would get any concrete information from the brunette.
He started by probing at Cedric's surface memories...only to immediately lose his grip on the spell, as he reeled back at what he had just seen.
"What in Merlin's name?" Dumbledore hissed.
Half an hour ago...
"That was easy," Harry said, putting his wand in his back pocket to spite the fake Moody and the real Moody both. "They don't call me the fastest slinger in the land for nut'in." Before him laid the bodies of over a dozen Death Eaters, as well as the infant form that Lord Voldemort had taken. He wasn't in the mood for toying around with the munchers this Loop, having Looped into his body right before the Third Task. He had more important things to do instead.
"Why, dear, that was so very...sexy of you," Said the reason he wasn't in the mood for fighting as it laid her forelegs around his shoulder.
Harry shuddered as he felt her breath on his neck, and her tail beginning to wrap around his chest, tugging him close to her own chest. While she didn't have the mammaries of a human female, hers certainly was...unique.
"I gotta be honest, of all the people I might have expected to Loop, you didn't even make the list," Harry said, delaying the inevitable. The same applied for the list of females (and males, yuck) who he might have expected to someday get the hots for him.
"That's not something you should say to a Lady," She responded. "But I must admit, it was odd, when I kept repeating the same day over and over again. I was contracted to guard the entrance to the center of the maze, and had to repeat the same damn riddle over and over again, even though I have thousands others I could have used, all because of that damn spider lurking ahead."
Harry shivered. He wasn't opposed to what he knew was going to happen next, but he still was trying to push it off for as long as he could. The longer she talked, the better.
"But I quickly realised that your behaviour was changing over and over again. I thought nothing of it, until the last Loop I was in. Somebody else won the Triwizard Championship. He answered my riddle about the spider before I even finished the first line, then remarked that I used the same riddle all the time. Which got me to thinking, maybe others were experiencing the same phenomenon?"
She spun him around, using her hefty forelegs, having sat on her hindlegs the whole time as she watched Harry first kill the rat-faced man, use a trick he had picked up ages ago to summon some of the Death Eaters at large in the British wizarding world to appear before massacring them, and then execute the ugly infant, before finally approaching him.
Slowly, she brought one paw up to his face, gently dragging a claw up his face in a sensuous manner, using the back side of her claw so as to not scratch him. "Here's a little riddle for you, Mr. Gryffindor. It's not as hard as the one about the spy-dee-er. What noble animal is your house mascot?"
Weakly, Harry answered, "The Lion."
"Correct," She growled, using her other forepaw to grab at his shirt, sheer force tearing it apart. "Which magical creature is most like the Lion?"
Harry blinked, and then reasserted himself, a smirk lighting his face as he was getting back onto familiar ground, flirting being a passion for him across his many Loops. "The Sphinx, of course."
"Indeed," the Sphinx answered as she lowered her forepaw down further, to Harry's pants. "Your final riddle. What are you going to do now?"
"You." He grinned.
"Correct again," She smiled. "You may claim your prize now."
Thirty minutes later, several pounds of water weight lighter, Harry thought to mention to Cedric, who had grabbed the Cup at the same time as he and the Awake Sphinx had and thus been transported to Little Hangleton as well, that he could go and grab the Cup to be taken back to Hogwarts. He would be right along later.
"I swear, this wasn't my fault," Harry yelped as he made haste to run away.
"Not your fault? You come waltzing down to the Master's chamber, and you turn me, into this," she sputtered, gesturing at herself, "And you have the nerve to say it's not your fault?" She hissed.
"Well, uh...in my defense, you're really hot?" Harry meekly asked, panicking as his lead over her shrunk. After that incident with the Sphinx, he would have hoped he could avoid any more female magical creatures chasing after him, but he must have peeved off one of those crazy Goddesses.
"You turned me into a Lamia!" She screeched, yellow eyes blazing. "I would eat you, but wait, I can't! I would petrify you, but oh wait,I can't!" Said the former Basilisk guardian of Salazar Slytherin's Chamber of Secrets, her words degenerating into wild hissing before she leapt from her slithering pace to grab a hold of Harry's back.
Harry, for his part, hit the ground hard, before being turned around to come face to face with the lamia. Mentally, he moaned at the accursed fate his last spate of Loops had suffered. Sure, some of the female magical creatures wanted to kill him, but they always wanted to jump his bones in the end, and this one had already jumped him. Then there was the position she didn't even realise she was in as she shifted her tail to keep his...lower body in place.
It was Harry's Fourth year, and once again the Triwizard Tournament was occurring at Hogwarts. Currently, it was the day of the draw, and the students were beginning to eat their dinner.
After a short main course, Harry reclined back in his seat, waiting for the proceedings to start. Dumbledore didn't fail to entertain him, even if Harry had figured out after only a few Loops that most of the ritual was just pompous show. Later, after Loop Apathy had set in, he had analysed the Goblet more thoroughly, and managed to even mathematically derive the internal logic it normally used to determine Champions for schools.
Well, not that it really mattered, Harry thought to himself as he rested the heavy gaze of his eyes on the blue-white crackling flame of the Goblet. Dumbledore had seen fit to create restrictions against people under the age of 17 from putting their own name in the Cup. Not that it wasn't something Harry couldn't crack, but he wasn't interested in the lower age limit. Rather, it was the lack of an upperage limit and a certain other something he had exploited.
"And the Champion for Durmstrang will be..." Dumbledore always liked to leave the audience in anticipation by saying that line, then taking several seconds to grab the slip of paper out of the fire and open it up before finally announcing the Champion. This time, however, he paused upon opening the slip. In a low voice, so low that only those who anticipated the need to cast a charm to overhear him (Harry!) heard him state, "This can't be right."
The buzzing began among the three schools as soon as Dumbledore turned to face the other Headmaster and Headmistress, motioning them over. What was going on? Did the Goblet screw up somehow? Why was Headmaster Karkaroff turning red all of a sudden? Can anybody read lips? They seem to have warded against eavesdropping charms now. Why does British food suck so much?
A frowning Dumbledore finally came back to the Goblet. "The Goblet gave an impossible result for the Durmstrang Champion. I am afraid we will have to determine that school's champion through some other method," The students would have continued gossiping, but Dumbledore forcefully continued as the Goblet continued hissing, coughing up another piece of paper. The Headmaster grabbed it, only for his face to pale.
Where he had looked confident only a few seconds before, he was now stupefied. Motioning for Madame Maxime to come over, he handed the slip to her. Upon receipt of the paper and a quick glance at the name written on it, she started yelling at him. Unfortunately, again nobody could hear her behind the wards the three Heads had surreptiously thought to cast.
Dumbledore frantically grabbed the last piece of fire that came out of the Goblet, with the flame finally dying out, making the Goblet look like any fancy piece of drinkware. With a sigh, Dumbledore opened the final piece of paper. Showing it to Madame Maxime, who immediately backed off, appearing startled, he turned back to face the student bodies. "It would appear that the Champions of Durmstrang, Beuxbatons, and Hogwarts would be...Headmaster Karkaroff, Headmistress Maxime, and myself, Headmaster Dumbledore."
Harry just rubbed his hands together in glee. Dumbledore vs. Madame Maxime vs. Karkaroff was gonna be sweet to watch! Even if they did decide to all quit en masse and come up with a new system of determining Champions instead of actually fighting each other. He was gonna rig it again if he had to.
...if they did forfeit, though, Harry wondered, would that have made him the default winner if the fake Moody was still around to put Harry's own name into the Goblet?
"And the Champion for Durmstrang will be..." Dumbledore was about to grab the piece of paper that was supposed to come out of the fire. What he didn't expect was for thirty-odd slips to all shoot out of the large Goblet at once.
Harry cackled quietly to himself. He had let fake Moody do his mayhem this time around, but added in a few Confounding Charms of his own to the Goblet. Like, for example, removing any limit on the number of Champions each school could have, and making everyone who entered their name into the Goblet an automatic champion. And then throwing a few extra names of people who he knew never entered their names in the Goblet anyways.
Once the Durmstrang students were cleared out, several dozen Beuxbaton students would find themselves unwitting Champions as well. From there, those from Hogwarts who had entered would be able to deduce even before the Goblet had finished firing just what the odds were that they were going to be picked as a Champion.
Harry had done it all for a single glorious reason (besides general Chaos, always a good reason!)...Battle Royale, bitches!
"Have I got a prank for you, Harry," Ron whispered over the loud mingling of the new first-years waiting in the entrance chamber to be brought into the Great Hall.
"Oh?" Harry raised an eyebrow. "Do tell, my dear chum," He was happy Ron was Awake this loop, it had been a few times around since the redhead had been so. The man had come a long way from the behavior he had in his very first lifetime.
Ron just shook his head, a smirk coming to his face. "You'll see. Not very long now."
Harry wondered what Ron might have done, and if it was perhaps something even he himself had not done in a loop Ron was not Awake for (and thus unaware he might be copying Harry).
Shortly after the conversation between the two old friends, the ickie firsties were brought into the Great Hall of Hogwarts, and introduced to the Sorting Hat, the mechanism by which they were to be sorted. Only Harry saw the small twitch of Ron's fingers, a telltale mechanism he was doing magic of a sort.
"When I call your name, come up and put the Hat on your head," McGonagall declared in a loud voice that cut through the excited chatter of those who were to be sorted. "Abbot, Hannah!"
A cute blonde whom Harry knew to grow up with a curvy body (and a delicious bosom, though not as enormous as her friend Susan Bones) went up, nervous an shy at being the first to go up.
With little pomp, she found herself seated on the stool and the Hat on her head. And then the Great Hall waited. And waited. Almost five minutes passed before the Sorting Hat shouted "SLYTHERIN!"
Light applause came from all four tables, three of them disappointment at not getting the first new student, the fourth because raucous cheering was unrefined and under their standards. The pale Hannah slowly walked over to the Slytherin table, quickly seating herself next to another female who looked barely older than Hannah herself, possibly a prior acquaintance of sorts.
Harry let out a quiet hum of contemplation. Even slight changes in how he acted on the Hogwarts train prior to his First Year sorting could usually bump a few people around from their usual House placements, and even then there were often pre-existing changes that went further back in the timeline. A particularly common happenstance was Neville being Sorted into Hufflepuff. But what had occurred to put Hannah into Slytherin, of all Houses?
"Bones, Susan!" McGonagall announced, and the ginger girl who Harry had known in the Biblical sense far too many times to count (a goofy grin went across his face at the memories) went up, far more dignified than the first girl.
It took several minutes again for the Hat to sort her, until it again declared "SLYTHERIN!"
Harry furrowed his eyebrows as he watched Susan move to the table of silver and green, cosying up to Hannah. He could never think of a Loop where Susan and Hannah had both gone into Slytherin. Two could be a coincidence, but three…
It took four, after the sorting of Terry Boot and then Mandy Brocklehurst into Slytherin before he turned over to Ron, and whispered quietly under his breath (with a Charm placed to ensure there were no eavesdroppers, of course), "Ron, you're a bloody genius. I never even thought of that."
Ron just beamed in return. "I know," He said in response to the genius comment.
It didn't take long for the rest of the Hall to understand what was going on, as both Lavender Brown and Millicent Bulstrode were both sorted into Slytherin, followed by Michael Corner and Stephen Cornfoot. There could only be so many people Sorted into one House in a row before suspicions were aroused.
Harry watched with amusement as the Staff Table began to look panicky. It was a good thing Snape wasn't Awake, he mused, because he looked like he was about to have a coronary. Even the normally composed McGonagall looked flustered as an unAwake Hermione, as loud and Muggleborn as they come, was Sorted into Slytherin.
It was with less than ten students left that Harry heard his own named called, and strode forward to put on the Hat. Unless Ron intended to prank him by putting him into a separate House, he already knew where he was going.
Ah, not just a time traveller, but somebody who's existed nearly as long as the universe itself.
Hello, Mr. Hat, Harry responded in favour, having had conversations like this many times over. How aware are you of what you've been doing in the last two hours?
Very aware, Mr. Potter, the Hat responded, Of course, I cannot go against the enchantment your young friend Ronald put on me, so of course you will go into Salazar's house. Not that you need much convincing, by the looks of it.
Of course not, Harry responded, But how do you convince the other students?
The Hat gave what Harry always interpreted as a mental scoff. It is the rare person who has no ambition, no cunning. Just for her desires to learn alone, Miss Granger for example could always have been sorted into Slytherin. Mr. Weaseley's enchantment is rather clever, as I find myself making subtle, insidious arguments to sway them into accepting Slytherin House. Of course, the Hat paused,After the students saw everyone was being Sorted into Slytherin, they expect to be similarly Sorted, and so it is less an effort.
Ah, Harry thought. Well, it was a good conversation with you, Mr. Hat.
The Sorting Hat concurred, You too Mr. Potter. Have a good life in "SLYTHERIN!"
More quiet applause came. In another lifetime, Harry Potter being Sorted into Slytherin would cause chaos, and newspaper headlines. Here, it was already expected.
Only a few more students were left to be Sorted. Ron had a long, ten-minute Sorting, picking up interest from other students when almost everybody else after Kevin Entwhistle had been sorted in two minutes or less. Even he was eventually sorted into "SLYTHERIN", with Blaise Zabini being the fortieth new student to enter Slytherin House that year.
"It's a good prank, I'll admit," Harry mentioned to Ron as Ron found a seat next to him. "Any particular reason why, however?" He asked, as Dumbledore went through a very quick speech, before him, Snape and McGonagall all ran out of the Great Hall with the Sorting Hat, clearing in a panic over the proceedings.
Ron shrugged. "I wanted to see what the reaction would be from the public if everybody in a year was in Slytherin. Chaos amuses me. Besides, " He smirked, "Dumbledore always talks about interhouse unity and all that. It'll be hard to do that in six years when there is nobody in the other Houses."
And unlike the sheer amount of slash that results from 'Magical Creatures' fics, at least the Sphinx is female (and is fairly close to a Lion, like, you know, Gryffindor).
I was originally going to do a female centaur loop, then decided that that was even beyond what little dignity I still had left.
Eventually, Harry would up the ante by forcing competitions of Laser Tag and Paintball between all three schools.
Their workload nearly tripled before they graduated by the sheer increase in the number of Slytherins to prank, Fred and George Weasely overdosed on Pepper-Up Potion.