Harry scowls as he stomps his way across muggle London, grumbling under his breath, completely unconcerned by the looks the people around him keep throwing his way.
Why is it always him? Why does this sort of thing always happen to him?
Well, okay, he might have purposely stepped right in front of those spells flying at Ron’s back, who had been protecting the three muggle kids they had just rescued from the group of dark wizards and who had been just about to trigger the portkey that would take them to safety. So, of course, Harry had stepped right in the path of the spells to shield them all, as he has done so many times before.
And he had, knows he did shield them.
But how was Harry supposed to know that his tethered shields and the concussive, outwards wave of magic he had sent at their opponents would clash with the spells of the dark wizards they’d been hunting at the exact same moment as Ron had triggered the portkey. How was he supposed to know that the magic from those three sources – the spells and his own magic and the portkey – would then somehow interact, mesh, twist into something entirely different.
There had been an explosion, several magical forces clashing, destabilizing each other, twisting and evolving, pushing and pulling and making way where there was none. Because – with Harry’s magic saturating the entire area around them, the portkey, the explosion as a catalyst, all the while his magic was still tethered within the shields in that specific spot – somehow ended with him being dragged into the transportation magic of the portkey, despite Harry not even having been touching it.
There had been a blinding light, a sensation of being spread out too thinly – rather different from the usual portkey sensation of being squeezed through a tube – and then he’d crashed to the floor, in the exact same spot as he’d started out in, his magic still tethered in the same spot.
Just with him having been dragged about a century into the past.
Because, screw fate. Or magic. Or destiny. Or whoever else seems to so enjoy messing with Harry’s life.
You’d think he’d have already used up his quota of what-the-fuck events in his life time. Alas, apparently not.
You know, since he’s currently in 1925.
As in, almost a century into the past from his own time. Because, of course, he is.
Well, it had taken Harry a while to realize he had time traveled at all, had found himself standing utterly baffled in the Ministry entrance hall, having apparated there intending to check on Ron and the kids, only to realize that everything was just a little off. Starting with the style of people’s clothing and going all the way to the fact that not a single person was staring at him. Harry hasn’t gotten to enjoy any sort of anonymity ever since he stepped into the magical, fantastical, so-very-screwed-up world of Wizarding Britain as an eleven-year-old.
Once he had realized that something was off, it had admittedly taken him a while to come to terms with the fact that he isn’t in his own time anymore, and even longer to admit to himself that he doesn’t have a way to get back either.
And, Merlin, he hopes that Ron and the kids at least made it out alright, that it was only Harry who got taken for a ride through time.
The point is, Harry has somehow found himself in the year 1925, with nothing but the things he had been carrying on his person during the mission, meaning his own clothes, his Unspeakable cloak, and his wand. Well, and his emergency stash, of course.
You know, since he always carries at least some reserves of funds and items and the likes on his person at all times, stashed away in a bottomless pouch that he never really removes from his person. It’s for emergencies or in case he suddenly needs to go on the run again or anything along those lines. Because life has taught him that you just never know what might be waiting for you just around the corner. He is not ashamed to admit that the war certainly left its mark on him same as it has on every single person Harry knows and, magic, is he ever so grateful for that paranoia right now, because it means he at least has some of his things from the future with him.
But aside from that, the only person he knows in this time is Dumbledore.
And maybe Harry should approach Albus, should try to work out a sort of game plan with his old headmaster for what to do with his knowledge of the future.
Thing is just… It’s been a decade since he saw Dumbledore last, a decade for Harry to grow up and to gain perspective. And while he can admit that without Albus pulling strings in the background the light side would likely have lost the war. But with the way things played out in the end, Harry is also rather aware of the fact that his mentor certainly wasn’t without failings, not even close.
Like the fact that it was always his version of the greater good Albus worked towards, without accepting any input on the matter from anyone else, more often than not giving those around him little choice in how they were forced to move as pieces on Albus’ chessboard, and never caring that his version of the greater good might not entirely align with everyone else’s version of it.
Sure, Harry knows Albus would never abuse knowledge of the future to personally profit in any way, but he also doesn’t quite trust his old headmaster not to poke at things in an attempt to better the future, always always with the best of intentions but Harry can attest to the fact that Albus’ good intentions don’t necessarily work out all that well for those dragged into his schemes.
So, Harry decided against approaching his old headmaster, at least for now.
Well, he might still have risked Albus’ interference, if he’d had the slightest hope that he might be able to help Harry get back home.
However, Harry himself has been around the block once or twice these days, so he knows that there is no such thing as directed time travel by several decades in either direction. Sending him somewhere into the future, sure, that would actually be rather easily done. But sending him to a specified point in time? Very much less so. Another bout of time travel is just as likely to send him just a decade into the future as it is to fling him way past his own time a couple of centuries into the future. There is no way of knowing. And it’s thus not a risk Harry is willing to take.
Especially considering that he was brought here by some sort of magical freak accident, the circumstances that sent him here quite plainly impossible to reproduce. And thus, also impossible to reverse.
As much as he would like for things to be different, Harry knows he is quite simply stuck here.
And after some ranting and raving against the unfairness of it all, he has somewhat come to terms with this newest insanity in his life. If there is one thing Harry excels at, it’s surviving and making the best of any given situation fate decides to drop him into. This is no different.
He is still not particularly enthusiastic about it all, but he’s also made it through much worse, has had much more devastating curveballs thrown his way.
It’s not even the first time he’s time traveled – because his life is just that insane – but he also thinks that jumping a few hours backwards to fix something specific within the past twenty-four hours and then skeedaddling right back to his own time, certainly isn’t the same as landing almost a century in the past, long before he himself was born and without a way back or even being entirely sure how he got here in the first place.
And with this at least, he for once actually gets a say in what he wants to make of it.
Which had actually been a rather easy choice to make. You know, since given the chance to change things there is no way in hell Harry is just going to let everything play out as it did last time.
Yeah, no, Harry scoffs to himself. If the powers-that-be wanted to preserve the timeline, they should have picked someone else to screw over by sending them a century into the past.
He’s been in the past for about a week now, and after coming to terms with that very fact, he had quickly settled on a path of how he was going to handle this.
Namely, to change everything.
Which brings him here, the middle of muggle London as Harry stomps his way through the city, a very specific goal in mind. Wool’s orphanage.
He is twenty-four, already has the defeat of four dark lords from various corners of the globe under his belt, including the one who had tried to kill him ever since he was a baby, plus a couple he’d run into or been sent after in the years following the defeat of Voldemort, and he is currently on his way to adopt said dark lord… Future dark lord? Potential dark lord? Mini-dark lord? Whatever.
Because he’s back in 1925 and Tom is still a small child and after some raging and ranting and wallowing and begging fate to let him go back to his friends and to please find someone else to screw over from now on, he’d finally come to terms with the fact that fate couldn’t care less about his demands and that he is stuck without a way out.
He doesn’t know whether there is some higher purpose of him being sent back here, honestly has no clue.
But he’ll be damned if he’ll simply stand aside and let things happen exactly as they did last time, ministry laws on time travel demanding he do exactly that be damned. ‘History’ includes decades of wars and countless lives lost, terror and senseless killings and bigotry so deeply ingrained on both sides that Harry thinks the scars ripped into British wizarding society might not ever be entirely healed. ‘History’ includes the deaths of Harry’s own parents and Sirius and so many of the people Harry cared about, so many lives lost, generations of wizards who had the black-and-white view of the world so deeply ingrained they couldn’t even see compromise between their sides any longer, an entire generation of children who grew up to be soldiers, dying for a cause, for a war, for a conflict none of them had any part in creating.
Yeah, ‘history’ can go right ahead and screw itself.
Sure, he’ll try to keep his interference generally localized, if only because he doesn’t fancy erasing himself from existence, so he fully intends to skip the country as soon as he can. But even if that ends up being the result, if his interference means that there won’t ever be a Harry Potter born in this timeline, he still isn’t going to sit on his arse and watch history repeat itself. No way. It simply isn’t in him.
And, yes, he is fully aware of those grave warnings about messing with time, how you’re supposed to ‘preserve the timeline’. But he has always thought that adage to be utterly ludicrous.
The first time he time traveled, he spent less than an hour in the past and did his best to heed that exact warning and he still ended up saving his own life, ridiculously enough.
Unless he kills himself right here and now, his presence in the past is going to change the course of history anyway, inevitably so.
Sure, he could take off to some different corner of the world, preserve Britain’s history as he knows it, but then he’d still inevitably mess with the history of some other part of the world just by being there, even if he wouldn’t know what exactly he might have changed due to lacking any frame of reference. But either way, his presence in the past will change things.
So, he might as well go for broke and see where that takes him.
Hence, his decision to adopt Tom.
Tom who was never really given a chance, who is still a child and already without family that wants him, won’t ever find anyone at all who’ll truly want him by their side. So, Harry is going to change that, take him in and give him the family the desperate-for-recognition orphan from Albus’ memories who Harry had empathized with so strongly so clearly longed for.
Albus might have tried to absolve himself of any guilt for Tom growing up to be a dark lord after a lifetime of mistreatment by anyone who held any sort of power in his life, might have tried to prove to himself that it wasn’t on him, that Tom had always been beyond help and that the immediate and uncompromising mistrust from the person who should have been his savior, the one who came to the orphanage to take him away to the magical world, didn’t utterly change things for Tom.
To this day, Harry can’t help but wonder how significantly different things would have been for him if it hadn’t been Hagrid – jovial, happy, friendly Hagrid, who talked about his parents and the wonders of the magical world – who got him from the Dursleys but instead someone who instantly taught him to be wary of those in the magical world who were more powerful than you. That one moment defined so much of his life and Harry can’t even imagine how differently he’d have approached the magical world as a whole if Hagrid hadn’t hexed the Dursleys in retaliation for their mistreatment of Harry and instead lectured Harry about having to be nicer to his relatives in turn. In hindsight he thinks it might truly have changed everything for him.
He is going to give Tom what he had always deserved but never gotten. A chance. And if history will condemn Harry for doing just that in the future then, Merlin be damned, so be it.
Because not doing anything, letting history turn out exactly as it did last time around without even trying to make things better, simply isn’t in him.
Harry has never been one to sit around and do nothing.
And, time travel or no, he sure as hell isn't about to start doing so now.