(AU) His world fallen to irreparable depths, Harry is granted a second chance to set it right. Timetravel, Harry adopts Harry.
Italics indicate a change in tense, emphasis or thought.
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Chapter One: Irrevocable
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Smoke coiled up from the cigarette, twisting through the heavy air, weaving spiral patterns and structures.
He sat, subdued, crossed legged under the glossy kitchen window, perched awkwardly next to a withering hydrangea bush. Bored, his wand drew mysterious pictures in the wet gritty dirt, mind racing between explorative tracks, calculating plots and subjecting illustrious plans. Time stumbled on, carefully, meticulously monitored. Inhale, exhale. In and out. The butt stubbed down next to his booted foot, bringing the small mountain one more. Headlights flashed in the distance, his ear perked to the sound -
Tires, coasting sleekly down slippery sheets of gravel. Slowing, stopping - a pause - and reverse.
Break lights glared red through the foliage of number four's front garden.
Vernon Dursley had arrived home at last.
Harry grinned nastily.
Paradox be damned. The worldly phenomenon of time-travel could go fuck itself.
... ... ...
"You've spoiled the brat rotten."
"Come now, Bellatrix, darling - aren't I allowed to indulge myself a little?"
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The end of the world drew near in a sea of cold dreary black, tainted crimson red and Avada Kedavra green.
Justice they embodied. Morals they forgot. And vengeance they cried, they fought for, they died for. There's no need for words, for parting gestures or frivolous touch. Soon all would be together again, united, a band of brothers and sisters and parents and lovers. Determination, stubbornness, faith; an unlikely righteousness that said the impossible was not so impossible, that a young hero might win, that Light might yet not be so misplaced, so lost, so extinct.
It was October 31st, All Hallows Eve. That night the British Ministry would fall. By daybreak the world would be no more.
And the Ministry of Magic sobbed, strained on the clips, the brink of finale.
"It's a trap - a bloody trap!"
"We should never have come here."
The glare was accusing. Harry shrugged it aside.
His fault? It probably was, he wouldn't deny it - he didn't particularly care.
"Let's go, then."
And they made chase.
There were four beside him. Then three. Two. One.
And Harry was alone, the last. Always the damned last.
They were closing in around him.
He reached a hall, a door. It was locked. Curses flew by, rebounding from the stone walls, crashing past the chasers and the chased. Identities meshed, known unrecognized, friends fighting friends. Chaos, destruction. The ceiling began to cave in, dust and rubble obscuring Harry's vision.
Death clung like a thick suffocated mist, pungent in the air, clouding reality in hazy perceptions.
For a long time he cannot move, cannot think, cannot recollect where he is or what he should have been doing.
And somewhere, someone, allows him the moments rest.
A glaring second later and the peace had left, had run, had fled. A Death Eater, and another and another. They came in swarms, traveled in flocks, transgressed without mercy and felt no inclination to preserve in dignity, pride.
But they were no match for him; the Equal, the Chosen. In an elitist - unnatural, even - league of his own. Harry Potter flicked his wand and the crowd became half, dark robes ruined with the remnants of those less fortunate, slower than they. Harry need not the spell words they spoke, the crutches they could not wield without - power was his forte, a vast matter he carried and served in plenty, in ease.
But still they came, from orders they dare not refuse or rebuke, and they went down to the beck of his will, to the call of his wand. Foolish and ignorant, suicide.
Harry sent them to Hell.
Then he was up again, running, without a conscious thought. Back again to the entrance chamber of the Department of Mysteries, the only way he knew out, and there Harry paused, leant against a dizzying wall of darkness, reconsidering his hasty retreat. The circular room began to move, to revolve his confusion, lit only by the pale blue flicker of flaming light in brackets strung periodically along the curved wall. The lightening bolt scar on Harry's forehead quivered, straining his concentration, teasing his awareness.
He wasn't quite sure if he'd decided upon anything, but it was too late then, a choice he was never meant to make - fate pulled him on, dictating, manipulating. Cheating, lying, not following by any set of rules - destiny had never laid a claim to be fair nor kind. Harry felt rather than asked his body turn back, back to the massacre, back undeniably to his own brutal demise.
Picking a door for chance, for his fickly reliable mate 'luck', Harry went on in his search. On and on and on. The Death Eater's fell about his wake, parting a deep ocean of hot blood and steely guts.
He passed bassinets of tentacled brains.
The Hall of Prophecies.
He left the damned archway in a puddle of grime, the veil a large knot of torn, broken thread.
But then Harry paused, in a room unknown, realizing just then what it was that he sought.
The knowledge brought no comfort, no solace, no linger of a warm caress.
And pure vehement hatred filled him, pumping through his veins, empowering his purpose, his being. Harry killed and killed and killed a dozen more, in an uncontrollable, unforgiving rage. It seemed then that anything was doable, that he was then capable of an endless everything, that nothing had a premise of the audacity to be out of his reach.
He wanted revenge.
He wanted Tom Riddle, Lord Voldemort.
He wanted death, and those that had left him.
The Death Eater's never stood a chance. At two hundred and seventy seven, Harry lost count.
Finishing with one room he moved on to another, bringing the number of Death Eater's spiraling down and down. Soon, eventually, as only the ugly monotony of time could draw, Voldemort would be reached - and Harry was as ardent and ready as he'd ever been, ever would be.
Stalking casually into the midst of a larger gathering was where Harry found them, those that marked how close he was now to the end, to their gloriously odious Master -
The Inner Circle.
His eyes struck Bellatrix Lestrange, a chord of loathing, of stolen loss. If there was ever a worthy opponent it would be her, and Harry didn't want her dead so fast, that easily; she was all he had left to duel, really, as far and long as Voldemort refused to fight him. And all he had was to fight, now, then and ever - and if he didn't have that then there really was nothing. A filtered Crucio from Harry and she shrieked, fell, writhed on the cold stone floor. He let himself enjoy the sight, the guilty pleasure swooning.
Then Avada Kedavra and the greasy bastard's down. Harry's laugh was bitter, resentful - bordering malicious.
A small battle wore on, Harry acting without a thought, intent or justification. He was interrupted only when a grating voice permeated his mind, forcing back his weaker shields, past the connection that brewed between them -
Harry, Harry. What are you doing?
"What does it bloody well look like, Tom?" Harry laughed.
Swish, flick - another dozen dead.
Single-handedly, Potter? Have your fun, then. It's useless. This is nothing, nothing to the sheer amount of followers I amass. You could not comprehend to dent my army if you fought all nights length.
"Face me, then. Come out from under your fucking bed and do your worst - I dare you."
The mirth was cruel. But whom from? Either, both?
Now that's arrogant even for you.
"At any means, at any cost, Riddle. I will bring you down," Harry snarled.
And then Harry's vision went black to an ominous, tangible nothing. Agony pierced through his scar.
He swayed, distracted -
Thirty varying curses hit him at the pointblank range, throwing Harry across the room. His fractured body collided hard with the wall opposite, falling in a cursed broken heap, bones crunched and snapped, blood leaking. Angrily Harry reached a hand up, long filthy fingers searching for a hold on something, anything, to help him.
They touched a cool, smooth, circular surface - a handle.
He struggled up, curses flying over his head, turning into the door and pushing the handle downward, rolling back into the other room. The door slammed shut behind him. Harry twisted on his heel, eager not to loose a moment of his lent time, softly whispering layers upon layers of shrouding, infiltrated wards. He leant back against the door, feeling the vibrations of spell-fire tear at the carelessly woven threads of the wards he had just erected.
It wouldn't last long.
Harry grinned, turning cautiously, looking unquestioningly for another escape. But there were no windows, no furniture, no anything to mark the room, /the trap/, he had unintentionally locked himself into - just four bare walls, one bare ceiling, a severely bloodstained carpet - and a strangled body crumpled in the center. The only door was the one Harry had entered from.
There was no escape. No way out.
Harry ground his molars together hard, annoyed, glaring at the body - the body that was, strangely, somehow /moving/. Harry took a small curious step forward, craning his neck to snatch a better look at the man's face. It couldn't be -
"Ollivander? Is that you, Sir?"
The man stirred, moaning softly. A trickle of blood ran down the side of his grazed, stubbed chin.
Not much could surprise him anymore, Harry had thought, looking down at the wand-smith whom lay sprawled so unceremoniously in a heap of ancient, tattered robes. No-one had seen or heard a shadow, a whisper of the wizard for years.
The old man opened one bleary moonlike eye, widening in fear, in dread, whimpering at the sight of him.
Harry grinned, pulling the white skulled mask up from his face, ruffling his tangle of scruffy black hair, and throwing it to the ground. There was no need for it then, anyhow.
The game was over.
He had already lost.
Ollivander's eyes widened in recognition, surprise, a roaring - contagiously - vulnerable hope. He made another futile noise, words refusing to tumble from his thin, stretched lips coherently.
The door behind Harry cracked, trundles of smoke coiling in from the hinges.
Harry approached the old wand-maker carefully, wearily, wincing away the pain in his chest, boots squelching rhythmically on the cold, soaked floor. He stopped a good - safe - foot away, crouching down to the other's level on his knee.
Ollivander was a right terrible sight, limbs hanging together by threads of spent flesh, misused muscle stretched and strained taught. His eyes were unblinking, rolling back into his lolling head. Half his graying hair had been ripped out from the scalp, likely of his own doing, and three clawing fingers were notably amiss. Below the battered cloak he was naked, skin showered in painful weltered shreds.
He was beyond any mess Harry could clean - death would come with longing and rejoice, surely, then such a state to be lived in. Euthanasia. Debatable opinion, really. Harry's wand twitched in his sweaty palm.
"Harry Potter, is it then?" Ollivander began, startling Harry that he was even fit enough to speak. His voice was hollow, withered, vague - he grinned, explaining, showing two rows of gummy space where his yellowed teeth had once been held. "Holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches. Nice and subtle."
"Are you alright, Ollivander?" Harry asked softly.
It was hideously obvious that he was not.
Ollivander chuckled, which brought on a horrid, wrenching bought of labored, choking gasps.
"Of course not, Mr Potter. I'm going to die, and soon too, I've no doubt. But I've been waiting - waiting for you."
Harry nodded politely, spinning his wand between long fidgety fingers, eyes locked impatiently back to the door - waiting, silently, for the enemy to break and come - come to his blood stained hands, to his vengeance, to meet their lower end. The door began to purr, to hiss, the wards stretching too thin and too far.
"Have you a knife, my boy?"
Again Harry nodded.
"Give it to me."
"What?" Harry started. He must have misheard. "Why? What do you possibly hope to do with it?"
"Give it to me," Ollivander repeated fanatically, commanding, his voice verging on hysterical need, want, reaching beyond any simple form of desire.
Harry raised an eyebrow, but he didn't need much convincing - he couldn't really bring himself to feel any concern, then, on the frigid high that he was. "Fine," he muttered, reaching into a pocket of his own battered robes, drawing forth a plain stained blade.
The older man took it in a trembling hand, rasping, delirious and apprehensive and frightful. His eyes alighted with crazed insanity, intellect long driven from his seared, tortured mind. He smiled his empty smile, pain temporarily forgotten, forgiven, and his empty eyes glazed, empty shrunken elbow bent, empty breaths hitched.
Harry closed his eyes, listening to Ollivander's heaved, abrasive struggles, and the shouts coming from the doorway, where the Death Eater's continued their attack with reinstated, relentless vigor. He wondered how and why the wand-smith had come to be there in the Ministry of all the outlandish places.
He didn't realize, opening his bleary sight again, what the older man was doing before it was too late to stop him.
"Ollivander, what the fuck!"
The wand-maker held both shaking hands to the lid of his left eye, the knife slicing down from the socket along the prominent curve of his cheekbone. Parched skin flopped down, opening up the eye socket, blood pouring from the wizard's face, neatly flooding cracks and crevices, frown lines and weathered wrinkles.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" Harry cried in horror, in prominent disgust and repulsion, holding his wand above Ollivander.
Ollivander laughed, his voice a void, barren moon-like eyes watching Harry with such provoking intensity he shuddered, gripping his wand tighter, demanding an answer, a meaning to the madness. Harry's blade fell from the wand-maker's hand, dropping soundlessly to the floor.
Behind them the door shook, rattling unnoticed.
"Ollivander," Harry repeated. "What the bloody hell did you do that for?"
"Don't you see, Mr Potter? They wanted it, he wanted it, and that's why they came after me," Ollivander ginned his gummy gaping hole. "/But I hid it/ - for you, Mr Potter. And for all they tried they could never find it, I would never tell them." He laughed triumphantly, gagging, choking, wheezing on his own spilt blood.
"But what, Ollivander?" Harry asked, his attention - for that moment - temporarily bought. "What were they after?"
He'd heard the rumors, yes, of what Ollivander was said to have been experimenting with -
The older wizard didn't answer, instead raising a trembling hand again over his poor contorted eye, gently teasing the flaps of skin cut away by the knife apart. Harry froze, transfixed, unable and unsure of what to do, whether to stop him, but before he could come to any semblance of a decision Ollivander had acted again.
Biting down on his tongue as hard as he could manage, Ollivander pushed two stubby fingers behind the eyeball, leveling, levering it forward, out, away from his socket. Rough, jagged nails scraped, searching, seeking what had been hidden in such a disgusting, ingenious plight. They sought. They found. Ollivander's left moon eye, dangling clear out of it's home, where it belonged, where it should always have remained, dripped and sunk and broke - leaking, dribbling, running away into a thick, off-white jelly ooze.
But Ollivander cared not for hurt, for pain, holding a sickly sticky object out in his shaking palm, his offering to Harry.
Outside the white walled room Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters breached the stalemate, breaking through the wards, and the door crashed in, forced from its archway.
For one moment time stopped, fate and fatality fighting for a lost cause - a lingering, lurking belief.
Ten, twenty, thirty nine black-robed white-masked foes bore down, tumbling into the room, forming a tight circle to surround the two other wizards. Harry looked back to Ollivander, whom gaily plummeted through his last grating breaths of life, fulfilled, and grabbed the object from his outstretched hand, hastily casting one last shield about them.
"What is it? Ollivander? What does it do?"
The wand-smith croaked, blood seeping from every pore, every crack on his feeble, convulsing body. Frown lines creased his forehead, shadowing his memory, and he dithering on absurdity, blathered words. "Tergum rursus. Tergum rursus. Tergum rursus."
Thirteen Crucio's/, thirteen blasts, thirteen /Avada Kedavra's - all aimed at one, together, colliding centrally through the air, shaking and tearing and breaking Harry's shield. Harry had his wand raised high, his focus tied to the Death Eaters, ready to bring the skirmish to a quick, bloody end.
And the small marble-like sickle sized orb - the time-turner - cradled in Harry's sweaty hand buzzed, spinning, disregarding pasts and rewriting history.
Tergum rursus. Tergum rursus. Tergum rursus.
Thirty nine Death Eaters were thrown down to the blood soaked carpet, dazed.
And Harry Potter disappeared with a loud crack and a blinding flash.
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All Harry could see around him was darkness, turning and twisting and pulling him down ... down ... down. His eyes burned, his fingertips tingled, his gut wrenched traitorously. Colours, textures, patterns, shapes, lines. Tergum rursus. Tergum rursus. Tergum rursus. His ears rang, his sight blurred, bile rose in his throat and any feeling that was left in his numbing limbs ceased. Tergum rursus. Tergum rursus. Tergum rursus.
Harry Potter dropped from the sky, landing outside a green grassed, primed and proper, golden embossed number four Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey.
The summer sun shone brightly upon the street, encompassing the tidy neighborhood. Outside number four a television could be heard, shouting from inside of the comfortably squished living room. The shiny company car that usually parked neatly in the driveway was missing, Vernon Dursley busy at work. A younger Petunia Dursley could be seen through the kitchen window, feeding a screaming Dudley his lunch of sugar-sprinkled mashed banana. A five year old Harry, unattended, sat alone by the kitchen sink, casting weary eyes at his Aunt and rebelliously, rashly, breaking his cousin's favorite crayon.
And an older war-torn Harry, lying on his back in the middle of the damp garden bed, listening to the sounds inside of the house with hungrily disbelieving ears, could only note reproachfully that his Aunt Petunia's hydrangea bush was indeed flourishing.
It was October 31st, All Hallows Eve, 1985.
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"There's an extend, somewhere, to which loving oneself must be drawn."
He sneered. She laughed.
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He'd sat there half the day, surreal to the new and frightening environment, and had made but one decision to improve such a wholly fanciful predicament to which he had landed - Harry had to simply get himself the hell out of there - and that meant both of himself.
A little fun - or well deserved vengeance, even - along the way couldn't hurt. Well, it wouldn't hurt /him/, that is.
He waited five minutes - for the beefy man to heave himself from the rising car, collect his briefcase, fumble impatiently for the house keys in his large jacket pocket and let himself on inside. Chatter echoed from the hall, to the kitchen, to the dining room. Petunia laughed her horsey hack, the bell timer on the stove began to ring shrilly, and Dudley signaled his conscious presence from a nap with the emanating wails of a whale.
Harry stood, stretching his legs, stuffing the crumpled box of fags back into the deeper reaches of his robe.
Harry moved around the bush, along the front garden path, past the bend of the hedge and up the small step to the front door. Looking skyward, briefly, a half moon gazed down. It smiled, encouraging, edging him on.
There were no stars to be of witness.
Harry raised a bloodthirsty fist, allowed a moments hesitation and knocked loudly, thumping on the flimsy paneled wood. He held his breath and all went stiflingly quiet.
Then cutlery was brought crashing down - a muffled grumble - pounding footsteps.
Harry placed his thumb over the eyehole. The door swung open, stretched from its creaking hinges.
And Harry Potter looked down upon his Uncle for the first time in three bloody, battle-weary years.
Vernon wasted precious seconds appraising him. Beady eyes skittered up from his boots, to his robes, to the wand clenched firmly in his dirty hand. Avada Kedavra eyes met watery blue, and Vernon Dursley swallowed nervously, guiltily. He thought he might recognize the younger man before him, from somewhere, perhaps if - but then, that couldn't be right, could it?
"What do you lot want?" he barked aggressively, as quietly as his booming voice could manage, demure not at all leaning anywhere near the borders of politeness whilst his small eyes darted uneasily down the street to make sure no-one was watching.
Harry didn't really feel they deserved an explanation - he certainly couldn't be fucked giving them one, anyway - not that they'd believe him. "Let me in." Or I'll simply make you, and that wouldn't be pleasant at all - for you.
"No! I certainly wont!"
Spit flew out from Vernon's mouth, speckling Harry's robes.
Harry considered warning him, audibly, but thought better of it.
An Imperio later and his Uncle was much more obliging.
Inside of the house, the damned 'home' that reminded him solely of sixteen years spiteful suffering and neglect, Harry sent Vernon directly back to the dining room. Silencio and he needn't worry about the annoyingly inquisitive neighbors hearing anything they could deem suspicious, or any small means to warrant further investigation. Harry followed, trailing his Uncle's heavy footfalls, trying not to look about the small tidy rooms they past, or the ambiguous cupboard under the stairs. He couldn't really help it, though.
In the dining room Vernon sat back in his chair at the head of the table. Dudley sat opposite him in a highchair, Petunia between the two - and little Harry on the floor, his own smaller plate haphazardly balanced on his lap.
Seeing him then, looking at them so, Petunia shrieked.
"Who are you!" she cried, eyes wide with fear.
Harry laughed - acrimonious, abhorrent.
He didn't hate them; not really, not exactly. Maybe sometimes. But they had it coming to them, they really did - and whether it be now from him or another twelve years down the wayward future by threat of Lord Voldemort himself, Harry didn't feel it mattered, really, inevitable as it was.
They should pay for what they'd done, for the miserable way they had squandered his childhood - it was only right.
Nothing messy, nothing that'd take too long. He wouldn't keep them suffering ... that much.
Lightening cracked though the dark sky outside, rain falling down, pattering on the rooftop.
The Crucio was held on Vernon for but a minute, maybe more, which he should have been thankful for, Harry thought. Petunia screamed and screamed - louder even than Vernon - and closed the picture before her with an unsteady hand clamping over her streaming eyes. Dudley watched, morbidly fascinated. The younger Harry tried not to laugh.
The elder Harry grew tired soon of his Aunt's pitched cries, grating terribly on his nerves as they did, as he had known that they would, and deftly cast an Avada Kedavra her way.
Fast, neat - relatively painless.
An acid jet of green and she fell to the ground, wetting herself. Dead on impact.
Releasing Vernon from the torturous pain of the Crucatious, Harry twirled his wand, waiting for the reality of the situation to sink into his Uncle's mind, for the comprehension of a lifetimes worth of sins he had dealt and that now were being paid for, heavily.
Vernon had combusted, his body turned inside-out.
Dudley gurgled hungrily, a coil of intestine draped over his pudgy shoulder.
Harry reached a hand inside of his robes, bringing out a camera. He thought the image would make a lovely wall hanging.
It was over as quick as it had taken Harry to knock on the door, and quicker still was the refreshing charm he next cast, to still the reek his Aunt and Uncle had rudely left in their departure.
He turned lastly to his rotund cousin, for all intents and purposes set to explode the wretched boy to oblivion, to splatter his minimal brains on the ceiling and watch them dangle, sway from the crystal chandelier - but somehow, something, made him pause, reconsider. Not to one so young, one still blanketed in the naivetÃ© of innocence, he couldn't - he couldn't kill a child. Not like that. A smirk twisted his lips, his brow furrowed, and Harry approached Dudley with slow, contemplative steps.
Reaching the highchair he regarded Dudley one final time. The boy contorted his squashed piggy face, reached a chubby hand towards his plate and grabbed a messy handful of peas, threatening to hurl the content right at Harry.
Not fast enough, though. Never fast enough was the sluggish Dudley.
A swish, flick, twist - and where his cousin had sat, there was now a fat squealing piglet.
Five year old Harry clapped his hands, applauding.
The older Harry approached himself carefully, wondering when the last time was that he'd had such an appreciative audience, quite happy for the acknowledgment to his good-doings, and he knelt solemnly before the five year old. They eyed each other, both equally weary, and for a moment the older Harry thought he might be rejected by his younger self, but then it seemed he was more desperate even back then than he had thought - and the smaller boy reached his arms up, wanting to be held.
Harry obliged readily, lifting the small child in an awkward embrace. He had little experience or patience with those so young - but, he figured, he would learn. He'd have to learn. Patting himself, his younger self, on the back in what he supposed would have been comforting, Harry was struck by a last idea.
Gently he placed the five year old on the kitchen table, next to the platter of sizzling roast pork. Harry grabbed a grated-edged knife, cut a sizable gash on his forearm, transfigured the plate of potatoes into a strangled, mutated replica of his younger self, and dribbled his own blood over the carbohydrate corpse.
A glossing charm to make any viewer of the body less skeptical, less inquisitive - more liable to perform the most minimal tests. And a final evidence sieve, so that any residue that may be connected back to him was lifted and irreparably swept away.
Then he had the child in his arms again, turning swiftly on his heel, getting out of that twice be-damned house as fast as he could.
The calendar hanging from the ridiculously monstrous refrigerator in the kitchen said that it was the year 1985 - Sirius's mother would have recently past. Outside of number four Harry stopped, tightening his hold on his younger self.
"Are you alright?" he asked the boy.
Little Harry shook his head, no.
"Don't worry, now," Harry assured himself. "I mean you no harm."
The other didn't look so convinced.
" - I've never been into the whole angsty self-hurt," Harry went on to explain.
With a crack they apparated to twelve Grimmauld Place.
The wards surrounding the old house whined, indignant to the presence of two so wholly unfamiliar. For one horrible second Harry thought they may not be able to get in, that the ties Harry had held there before no longer existed in anything but feeble memory - then, abrasively, he opened his eyes and there they were - standing right before the unwelcoming front door, rain plummeting down to soak through their clothes.
Little Harry shivered in his older self's hold, dizzy and frightened. He didn't dare to speak, though he desperately wanted to - never ask questions rang warningly in his ear drums, beating their ominous threat
The big dark house standing grandly before them did nothing to quell the younger boy's fears, either.
The Noble and Most Ancient House was in better condition than the older Harry had ever known it to be. The exterior was not yet rotting, the windows not quite so smothered in grime. Harry spared a quick glance to either muggle house beside them, then turned back to the black-painted door. He reached out to touch the silver knocker, twisted into the shape of a serpent, and told the house in parseltongue to let him in - and let them in it did, the front door quickly yielding.
Harry grasped more firmly onto the squirming boy wrapped in his arms, entering the dank house with his wand held steadily before them. From the ground floor, hid neatly behind an already moldy and moth-eaten curtain, a vast freshly painted portrait of Sirius' mother started up, as soon as they'd set foot past the threshold - but Harry was ready, a spell already half way off his tongue.
"Who is that, eh? Filth! - "
A stream of light slid from Harry's wandtip, following the plaintive shriek of her voice. It was the last words the portrait would ever cry.
Harry, cursing, rather strongly doubted anyone would miss her.
He paused in the first dusty corridor, just outside of the entrance hall, placing his younger self down to find his own feet. He wondered fleetingly what the boy was thinking, and he didn't have to wait long for an answer, or a question, really.
"Why did you rescue me?" asked the small, intimidated voice.
Harry looked down, trying to force a smile on his lips. Introductions first. "I'm your Uncle Harry," he stated firmly, as if that were the only explanation required, but - much to his relief - it seemed it was enough for the boy, for the time being, anyway.
"I'm Harry too!" came the strangely excitable exclamation.
"Yes, I know - but not for long, I think. We'll decide on a better name for you later."
Child-Harry regarded him skeptically, and the older Harry paused, pondering if he could trust himself at that age, honestly - but those big green eyes were so scarred, so happy, and Harry couldn't think of anyone ever looking at him with such admiration, such unquestionable loyalty and unassuming love - "You can choose it, whatever you fancy."
The boy looked hopeful. "Am I going to live with you now? Forever?"
Harry nodded. "For as long as you like."
Child-Harry was positively delighted, enthralled at such a prospect.
"And are we going to live /here/?"
Harry shrugged. "What do you think? Do you like it?"
He didn't suppose though that anyone could really like the house in the state that it was in then - but, regardless, child-Harry nodded enthusiastically, yes. Anything would have been better than living with the Dursley's, Harry supposed - and Merlin forbid he'd ever be in such a horrid situation to choose, though, he'd willingly share a roof with Grawp over them, any day.
"Good. I'm glad."
Harry took his younger self's hand, leading the way to the kitchen down in the basement, along dark, rough hewn-walls. The room was cold and still - long uninhabited.
After a quick peek in the sparsely empty cupboards - Kreacher's empty, filthy bed beneath the empty water tank - and the unsurprisingly empty pantry, Harry sat himself down opposite his younger counterpart at the large table, a jumble of the many assorted chairs separating them. He grinned, pretended that he wasn't really hungry, pretending that he hadn't intended to fetch them some food, because there was nothing there, and he was so tired - he didn't want disappointment to edge the beginning of their relationship - one which, Harry was sure, would be long lived, predictably respected, and dually endeavored to the benefit of each - that being most important, of course.
So they sat in silence, staring at each other, each stubbornly waiting for the other to start.
But neither could quite work out where to begin, whether it lie within the chaotic jumble of disorganized questions or far too complicated answers to proceed them, but then -
"INTRUDERS! THEIFS! MUDBLOOD SCUM!"
Harry scowled, looking back to the door - where Kreacher stood proudly, hands on his hips, rags shaking in unrestrained fury.
The boy Harry jumped, thunderstruck, gaping at the house-elf.
"Kreacher, go. Now."
The ratty elf spluttered, fighting the order.
"/Leave us/," Harry snarled.
The house-elf tried not to obey, struggling with himself and the oaths that tied him to the older Harry's reining words. Harry, knowing the house had bent to let him entry, figured so would the elf, despite that which had not yet even come to pass. Kreacher cracked his gnarled knuckles, doubtful to take leave, loathing Harry then as much as his real master Sirius, the last of the Noble and Ancient Black line, rotting away uselessly in Azkaban. It didn't really make much sense to him at all, but the elf clicked his fingers, resigned to that he just had to do what he'd been told, spat on the grubby floor, and left with an angry crack.
"What was /that/?" younger Harry asked, wrinkling his small nose with distaste.
"That's Kreacher, he's our house-elf." Harry sighed, just then realizing what terrible conversations lay so dauntingly long overdue. "Treat him as you wish, but please trust me when I say he's dirt. Harry - there's so much I need to tell you."
The boy looked up at him, emerald meeting emerald.
"Did you know my parents?" he asked.
"Er - no. Not really. But I know of them," Harry said. "And they did not die in a car crash, for starters."
"They didn't?" child-Harry frowned.
Harry drew his wand from his pocket, placing it gently on the table between them.
The younger Harry gulped. This explained it, then. "Are - are you a magician?"
"No, Harry." Harry smiled. "You're a wizard - and a damn fine one if I do say so."
The boy blinked, once, twice.
And Harry closed his eyes, praying for the patience that did not often grace him, knowing what a long, long night he was in for.
... ... ...
For an abundance of painstakingly exhausted hours Harry tried futilely to find sleep, stretched out on a luxuriously large bed in one of the many guest rooms; but whether it be the screams following from his past, his haunted nightmares and taunting demons, or the penetrating shuffles and sniffs of his lonely child-self in a dusty room next door, sleep adamantly refused to come.
And so Harry lay awake, gazing expectantly up at the unfamiliar ceiling.
And the illustration of a big shaggy grim sat in the forefront of his thoughts, remembering, reminding, grating painfully on his threadbare conscious.
He hadn't planned this, and he didn't particularly want it.
But Harry had gone back in time and he intended to change it - change and fix and stretch everything he could. He'd give himself, his younger self, the life he had always wanted and dreamed of - and, perhaps, if re-finding and destroying Voldemort's bloody Horcruxes along the way wouldn't be too much trouble, then, all for the better.
But there were other things that he felt inclined to do first, things that took priority.
Harry had to get Sirius - he couldn't leave him there in that hell-hole prison to rot.
And then he'd have fun, the time of his bloody life - and they would all pay.
Revenge was sweet, indeed.
... ... ...
"I thought Hercules was growing on him."
He snorts. "If I just suggest Altair, though ... "
"Yes. It's the name of a star in the constellation Aquila."
She waits, but he needs the prompt. "And?"
He hesitates still, unsure. "And it means 'the flyer' in Arabic."
She raises a brow.
He shrugs, nonchalant. "I like to fly."
"Altair Black it is, then. Of the bastard branch."
He grins, raising his glass of wine in a toast.
... ... ...
On the first of November the world of Witchcraft and Wizardry mourned.
They mourned a Hero, a Savior, a Chosen One that had never known his place in their lives, their hearts, their hopes and dreams and aspirations.
They mourned the death of a small boy-wizard: Harry Potter.
... ... ...
When the younger Harry awakes he's there with a tray, sitting beside him on his new dusty bed, in his new dusty room.
"Are you hungry?" his Uncle asks.
Little Harry nods - oh, he's ravished.
He's given a ridiculously large platter of scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, toast, porridge - and a strange goblet filled with lumpy orange goo he's a little afraid to try. His Uncle Harry only laughs, telling him to eat what he likes, whatever he fancies. He tells Harry that if ever he wants anything he needs only to ask. Harry thinks he might be in Heaven.
It's the first time he has ever had breakfast in bed.
When Harry's finished eating all he can, his Uncle says that he has to go out for a while, that Harry's welcome to come with him if he thinks he'd like. He promises it'll be fun. Little Harry can hardly get cleaned up and dressed fast enough - but then, when he's ready, his Uncle pauses in the doorway, looking down upon him critically. He takes his wand from the weird black dress - like he was wearing before, only this one's not quite so worn nor ragged - and he flicks the smooth, shiny stick - the wand - over Harry's too-large (Dudley sized) clothes.
Harry looks down and sees they've changed; he's wearing a funny black dress thing too.
Harry tells his Uncle he'd like a wand and he'd like to learn.
His Uncle smiles. "Alright," he says. Harry can hardly believe it.
Harry is led down the steep, winding stairs of the creaky old house and back into the kitchen. On the way they pass by a dirty, grubby looking mirror, wherein Harry can just make out his reflection staring back at him - and he has brown hair, murky grey eyes, and the lightening bolt scar that had always resided placidly on his forehead has vanished. His Uncle watches his every move, and tells him the guise is a precaution, that he'll make a proper bond to the Black line later, when they've got Sirius. Harry's not sure what a precaution is, just how they can get this serious/, or what /James Bond has to do with it; but he decides whatever his Uncle says or does is marvelous, and he'll follow and do anything he can to keep him, always.
In the kitchen his Uncle throws a fistful of powder into the fireplace, and he takes Harry in his arms, and they step right in - spinning, spinning, spinning.
It's magic, and it's wonderful, and Harry's in love.