When would be the best point in time for an over-powered Harry to return to his past? Right before the First Task!
Hermione Granger was a very worried young woman. In just a few hours, her best friend, in some ways her only friend, was going to be competing in the First Task of the first Triwizard Tournament to be held in many decades. She had no idea what he might be facing, and she had had little contact with Harry for over the last week. Today was a Tuesday, and she had last really spoken to him a week before the previous Friday.
Harry had seemed fevered and weak that morning, and had told her he needed to talk with Dumbledore. She had been startled when Harry had accepted her help in getting to Dumbledore's office, although she had had to stay down in the corridor during the half hour or so Harry had stayed with the Headmaster. Supporting Harry's weight, an arm around his waist and his around hers, had made Hermione realize just how small a person Harry was physically. Although generally fairly quiet, his strength of character was so great that he always seemed a bit larger than life.
Dumbledore had been very solemn when he had helped Harry down to her. "Mister Potter has come to me with a reasonable request, although one which might stir up some confusion. I am releasing him from classes from now until the day after the First Task. I know you will allow him access to your class notes?"
Hermione had blinked, then said, "Of course, Headmaster."
"I know you do not share Divination with him, but I believe Mister Potter will be able to make up that work fairly easily. Now, you are not to tell anyone how to contact your friend here. Only you will have any access to him, and that will be very limited. You are not to meet with him, but send messages through the house elf, Dobby. He has been working at Hogwarts for a few weeks, and will be cleaning your room every night. Leave any class notes and other correspondence on your desk, and Dobby will take care of things from there. Understand?"
"Not entirely, sir, but I'll do it," she had said.
She had not seen Harry since.
The other champions had been informed and allowed the same privilege, and it seemed like they had all taken up the idea by the following Tuesday afternoon. Ron had been irate, as not being able to give Harry the cold shoulder had made Ron's temper even worse. Hermione had been entertaining thoughts of both Ron and Harry in her fantasies since she had started having such fantasies. Ron's temper, now directed fully against her for the second year in a row, this time as a substitute for Harry, had driven those thoughts of him away.
Her notes to Harry had been just copies of the class notes at first. By Monday morning's note, however, he was writing back and not only asking her some very probing questions about the class material, but adding how much he was missing her.
Not anyone else, not anything about the school. Just her. That horrid reporter from The Daily Prophet had picked up some rumors from the other students, and she had been embarrassed by those, but by now, she was wondering if, perhaps, Harry might actually be finally thinking about her as more than a friend. Remembering their arms around each other as she helped Harry to the office, and the squeeze of thanks Harry had given her before releasing her, Hermione believed that he might be.
Still, her mother had always claimed that all males were dense, and that teen-aged boys were the densest. Hermione was hoping that Harry was not that dense.
All her life, Hermione had lacked for only two things -- acceptance by her peers, and a close relationship with anyone. Harry came closest to accepting her and appreciating her for who she was (as opposed to Ron, whom she had decided after their last big fight on Wednesday just wanted to use her when convenient and insult her the rest of the time). And she was closer to Harry than to anyone.
Hermione was fifteen now, and was hoping for more than close friendship.
As for her teachers this past week, Snape had even been more horrid to her than Ron had been. He still hadn't apologized for his remarks to her after she had been hit by Malfoy's hex earlier that month. Somehow, she didn't think he ever would. Professor Moody had also been strangely insistent that she tell him what she knew, although she had managed to avoid being alone with him.
Harry had only asked her for one favor, a few days before. He had asked her to privately give a sealed note to Cedric Diggory, which she had. Dobby had delivered a note to her that morning, telling her to come to the seventh floor and find the tapestry of a silly wizard trying to teach trolls to dance.
Well, here she was.
A door suddenly appeared in the blank wall nearby. It swung open, and Harry's voice called out, "Hermione! Come in."
"Harry?" Hermione went on in and saw she was in a large study, with an extra table set for lunch for two. Harry was bent over fiddling with mixing a salad dressing of all things. "What is this place?"
"It's called either 'the Room of Requirement' or the 'Come and Go Room'," Harry said. "It turns into just about whatever is needed. I have this study, a bedroom, a potions lab, a gym, and a bath to rival the prefects' bath."
Hermione walked over. "And why am I here?"
"Because I've been forced to ignore you, and I regret that a great deal." Hermione blinked rapidly, not only at the sentiment, but at the feeling underlying it. Even more so, she was surprised when Harry had straightened up.
Hermione was not overly-tall, especially for her age. She was a shade under five-foot two. Harry had been about half an inch shorter than her the last time she had seen him, and now he was a bit more than an inch taller than her. Harry smiled as he saw her eyes flick down at his shoes.
"No, I'm not wearing heels," Harry teased. "I fixed my lack of height the same way you fixed your teeth."
Hermione's hand flew to her mouth, covering it. "You noticed?"
"Of course I noticed," Harry said. "Do you think I wouldn't notice that the most important and beautiful person in my life suddenly got even more startlingly beautiful?"
Hermione was shocked, to say the least. It was also clear that Harry hadn't meant to blurt that out.
Harry visibly steeled himself and moved over and took Hermione's hand. "Hermione, my life has changed drastically, and it will change even more drastically over the next year." Harry seemed to try and stop himself for a moment, but then his feelings poured out. "I know it isn't the best time to ask you, what with those stupid articles by Skeeter and the Tournament and so many other things far worse, and I know Ron will be angry, and so will Ginny for the matter. But I don't care about them . . . I just care about you. Hermione, will you be with me, my companion, my partner? Or at least consider being my girlfriend until we can see where we might want to go?"
Hermione's eyes teared, and wrapped herself around Harry. "I love you, Harry Potter." Harry hugged her back. Then, after Hermione brushed her lips against Harry's, she leaned back from the hug and asked, "How did you get taller? Other than 'by magic', I mean."
"The same way I put on a stone of muscle," Harry answered. "Magic. In this case, a growth potion and several nutritional potions, which have helped make up for the fact that I was under-nourished for ten years and then three summers."
Hermione looked Harry in the eyes, and her own eyes went wide. Harry nodded. "Yes, and a potion to fix my eyes. The glasses are plain glass." Hermione had just noticed that.
"I've never heard of these potions, Harry," Hermione said. "Believe me, I've looked for a magical treatment for your eyes."
"No, you wouldn't have heard of these," Harry agreed. "They haven't been invented yet."
"Come here and sit down. I was going to wait until after we ate, but I guess you're just too smart." The pair sat on the sofa."First, this stays between you and me. No one else knows, not even the Headmaster, although I'm sure he'll figure some of this out over the next few days, or more likely, he'll force me into a position where I'll tell him."
"Alright," Hermione said, her suspicions roused.
"I swear I am Harry James Potter," Harry said, holding out his wand. A flash of light proclaimed this a true oath. Hermione relaxed a bit, but just a bit. "Yes, I am in part from the future. 2013 to be exact. Short version, Voldemort returned at the end of this school year, but Fudge denied it for a year and used that year to make my life, and the Headmaster's, hell. Malfoy let in Death Eaters at the end of our Sixth year, and during the fight, Snape murdered Dumbledore." Hermione gasped. "Due to your brains and my power and luck, Voldemort was killed at the end of what would have been our Seventh year, if Hogwarts hadn't been partially closed down -- only First through Fifth years were attending. Lots of people dear to me died over that year: Ginny; Remus; Ron . . . you." Hermione winced. "Sirius had already been killed. After the war, magical Britain was shot to hell. Because Tom Riddle was a Half-Blood, the Pure-Bloods running everything made that out to be the cause of all the evil -- the half-bloods, ignoring that all Voldemort was in some ways was an excuse for the most racist Pure-Bloods to attack Muggle-borns and those who don't loath Muggles. They made things even more restrictive by enacting lots of restrictions on everyone not totally magical for three previous generations and considered human for at least six previous generations. I was in a deep depression, and I was rescued by a friend who was dying from a cursed poison -- she drank it when it was made specifically by Snape to kill me, so it took her months to die. She took me to the Yukon, where she died a few weeks later."
"Six years later, the majority of the magical population rose up against the Ministry, and Ireland finally broke away, just like Muggle Ireland did back in the early 1920s. I came back to help, and was seriously injured, but survived. I spent years planning this. I grant you, I could have ended up back in my body at any point between last August and December, 1996. A week ago Friday was just about perfect."
"Well," Hermione acknowledged, "that is the short version, but you did manage to pack a number of facts into that." She looked at him. "And what about us in the other time-stream?"
"There's going to be a Yule Ball this year," Harry said. "I was obsessed by Cho, but was also considering you and Ginny. Ron was obsessed by Fleur." Hermione rolled her eyes. "Viktor Krum actually asked you before anyone else did, and you said yes." Hermione's jaw dropped at that. "He really liked you, but you only seemed to like him as a friend, or so you always said. Ron threw all sorts of jealous fits when he found out you weren't available as a passive backup for his needs. He and I went with the Patil sisters, and they had a really miserable time. Ron spent the next year and a half semi-flirting with you but never carrying through, and then he and Lavender made spectacles of themselves during most of the autumn and early winter of our Sixth year, which hurt you quite a bit. Then Ron got scared because she was a bit too obsessive for him. That's when you finally dated him for a bit."
"Because I was safe?"
"I think so," Harry said. "You always liked Ron more than he liked you. I always thought he used you as a safety girl friend, but was always looking for someone else, but maybe I was wrong. As for me, Cho and I dated a bit in Fifth year, which was a disaster. Ginny and I dating in Sixth year was a lot better, but when I broke things off, it turned out she had been leading me on with a mild enticement potion. Ron caught her and Mrs. Weasley about to dose me with a strong love potion in late July of 1997 and blew the whistle, mostly because he had suffered through getting a love potion another student had designed for me, and this was his way of paying me back for helping there and when he nearly died of poison at about the same time. You and I became lovers after Ron was killed, just after Christmas in 1997. We were each other's first actual lover."
"That's a lot to absorb," Hermione said.
"It is," Harry agreed, standing. "We need to absorb some food, and I need to take ten minutes to set up some Occlumency shields inside your head for you."
"Both Snape and Dumbledore are constantly reading surface thoughts. It's a magic called 'Legilimency'. Clouding your mind is 'Occlumency'. You had a very organized mind at eighteen, and I would imagine you're pretty close to the same now. You ended up mostly teaching me how to do this. It will likely take me ten minutes to teach you how to recognize if someone is scanning your mind, and to deflect them from a surface scan. Blocking an attack they don't bother disguising took you weeks of meditation and hard mental work. It will also make you less likely to be taken over by the Imperius."
"Alright." As Hermione sat at the table, she asked, "You do have a plan for tonight, right?"
"I do," Harry agreed.
"So you know, well, of course you know what the task is."
"Dragons," Harry answered.
That made Hermione's heart skip a beat, but she continued, "And the note to Cedric?"
Harry shrugged. "The last time, Karkaroff and Maxime found out and clued in Viktor and Fleur, while Hagrid told me. I didn't think it was fair for Cedric not to know."
Hermione smiled and started in on her salad. "That's my Harry."
Harry pulled out a small box from his pocket and handed it to her. "I am yours, if you want me to be."
"Harry," Hermione asked, slightly breathless and wide-eyed, "what is this?"
"It's not an engagement ring, if that's what you're worried about," Harry answered. "I was going to wait to tell you how I felt about you until after the First Task, so we could talk some more, but I couldn't help but tell you as soon as I saw you. I love you and I've missed you so much that it still hurts. In this time stream, we've been friends for over three full years, and really close friends for most of that time. Next weekend, if not sooner, we'll come here and I'll tell you about the alternate future; about things they have never told us about the wizarding world, especially wizarding Britain; about how abusive my life at the Dursleys really was; about almost anything you want me to tell you. If you want to wait until then to decide about that ring, or if you want to say 'no' now, you will still be my best friend, and my closest advisor . . . the one person I know I need to listen to, even if I don't always do what you think I should do."
Hermione swallowed nervously and opened the box. In the magical world, promise rings were still common, showing that the couple was serious. They were either silver or at least silver in color, and always had a knot motif in some fashion. Hermione took the ring from the box, noted the Celtic knot design, and then looked surprised. "This seems too heavy to be silver," she said.
Harry nodded. "It's platinum. It can never be hexed." Platinum was something of an anti-magical metal -- it could not even be shaped directly by magic.
Hermione looked a bit undecided about which hand to wear it on. The right hand signified a serious couple. On the left, it was the equivalent of a Muggle pre-engagement ring. "Harry . . . I'm not ready to start where we apparently left off."
"I know," Harry answered. "You set the pace. As long as there are lots of hugs, kisses, and hand-holding, I won't complain."
"I promise you, you will never lack for any of those," Hermione stated firmly as she slipped the ring onto her left hand's ring finger.
When they had finished their lunch, Harry said, "I was wondering if you'd like to carry something into the stands." He went into another room and carried out a seven foot pole, with a banner or flag rolled up on it.
"What is it?"
"The Potters were a cadet branch of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Gryffindor," Harry said. "The more senior lines have died off, so I am now head of the House of Gryffindor as well as of the Potter family. Well, I'm actually the entire Potter family at the moment. Godric Gryffindor was the last acknowledged magical heir of Merlin, who had no blood heirs." Harry pulled out another wand, this one made of thick oak and with an emerald on the end. "This is Merlin's wand, and I am his magical heir. I can't tell you yet how I got it, but I will. The banner quarters Gryffindor's arms, Merlin's, the Potter family, and my own. It's my battle banner."
Hermione blinked. "You'll also explain how you're the heir of Merlin later. What are your arms?"
"A Kodiak bear and an ermine, on a checkered field of green and brown, I forget the correct heraldic terms."
Hermione frowned. "Why a bear and an ermine? I'd have thought a stag."
"This is my banner, not my father's," Harry said, and turned into a bear for a moment.
"You mean . . . you mean you managed to send back all your magic as well as your memories?" Hermione demanded.
"Exactly," Harry acknowledged. "And older Harry's magic combined with younger Harry's. Just as I am a combination of their memories and personalities, I am also a combination of their magics, albeit with older Harry's skills. I'd say I'm at least half again as powerful as older Harry was. I was Voldemort's equal the last time. I'm more than that now."
Hermione pushed back the obvious questions. "And the ermine?"
"That was your animagus form, of course."
Hermione found herself escorted to a front-row seat by Professor McGonagall, who helped her create a setting for the standard. "Miss Granger, do you know the meanings of three of these four sets of arms?" she asked, taking a seat by one of her favorite students when the banner was revealed.
"Harry is the Head of the Noble House of Gryffindor and of the Potter family," she replied. "Gryffindor was considered the magical heir of Merlin."
"And the meaning of a lady flying a contestant's banner?"
Hermione merely held up her left hand. "Is it any different than this?"
"No," McGonagall acknowledged, admiring the ring, "it is not. Congratulations." She smiled warmly, for she thought her two favorites amongst the current students would make a fine couple, each complementing each other.
Hermione had been appalled at exactly how powerful and dangerous the first three dragons were. Baby Norbert had not prepared her for seeing a full-grown dragon. Even McGonagall was looking worried. Hermione was glad she knew that Harry was now more capable than he had been, and was likely more powerful than any student in the history of Hogwarts. "And last," the announcement came, "Harry Potter!" The sheer magnitude of the task prevent much booing or jeering, except for the small group around Draco Malfoy. Instead there was some polite applause as Harry strode onto the field.
The dragon, the largest and meanest of the group, roared with anger at her confinement. She had been moved twice, and worse, her eggs had been moved twice. She was partially restrained by wards. She was, in short, one angry dragon.
"What is Potter doing!" McGonagall exclaimed, and she was not the only one. Harry was just calmly walking towards the dragon. Half way there, he magnified his voice, and made a series of noises that sounded like a cross between roars and hisses.
The dragon stopped her own roaring and looked at Harry.
Harry barked a command, and the dragon sat like an eager puppy. Harry walked closer, and the dragon lowered her head threateningly, breathing fire and small flickers of flame. Harry spoke sternly but not harshly, and the dragon looked at her eggs. She raised her head, and seemed to regard Harry with a judgmental look.
Harry walked forward, still speaking, although now more gently. He picked up the golden egg and showed it to the dragon, which seemed satisfied.
Harry spoke again, and the dragon leaned towards him, coming very close and making some draw in their breath in fear.
Harry scratched the dragon under her chin, spoke politely, bowed, and walked away.
It took the crowd several seconds to realize that it was over, and then they applauded, mostly in confusion.
Needless to say, Harry was awarded 10 points by all the judges except Karkaroff, and even he had to give Harry a 9.
One of several stories I've been working on, where I have many elements in common (time-travel, Harry's ideas, how wizarding Britain operates, etc.) yet change a few and play with the results.