Altered Realities by LaileeJane
Summary: Harry has a plan to bring back Sirius and erase the guilt he feels about the Department of Mysteries debacle. It's not a very well thought out plan, but it's still a plan. It comes as no surprise when his plan goes awry. Can he possibly save more than just Sirius? And what does a teenage Severus Snape have to do with his success?
Categories: Teacher Snape > Professor Snape, Snape Equal Status to Harry > Comrades Snape and Harry Main Characters: .Snape and Harry (required), Dumbledore, James, Lily, Remus, Sirius
Snape Flavour: Angry Snape, Kind Snape, Stern Snape
Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Hurt/Comfort
Tags: Time Travel
Takes Place: 6th summer
Warnings: Bullying, Character Death, Violence
Challenges: Time Travel, not so fix -it
Challenges: Time Travel, not so fix -it
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: No Word count: 23553 Read: 2035 Published: 29 Jul 2021 Updated: 30 Nov 2021
Chapter 3 by LaileeJane

He was vaguely aware of Lily and Severus whispering quietly, his mother telling off her friend for making the new kid uncomfortable. If only she knew how much adult Snape thrived on making Harry uncomfortable. This was just practice, and not even good practice. He thought back on Snape who had tried to provide comfort to him earlier on the train when he was sick and miserable, and then Snape who had just interrogated him on blood status, and wondered what had happened to spark that change. Earlier Snape had been fairly nice, but suddenly he was irate and cold. Had he encountered the marauders and spoiled his attitude? Had he gone to socialize with his housemates and brought out his repulsive Slytherin side? 


A voice from the door caused the whispering to immediately cease, and the tension in the compartment became so thick that Harry nearly opened his eyes just to determine if he needed to fend himself. 


“Severus, if you wouldn’t mind extracting yourself from the mudblood and joining us, it would be appreciated.”


Harry tensed at the word ‘mudblood’ and resisted the urge to pull out his wand and attack whoever dared called his mother that vile slur. 


“My blood may not be pure, but at least my soul isn’t as dark and dead as a dementor’s.” Lily shot back. Harry couldn’t tell if she was offended or if her feelings were hurt, as her voice remained strong and unwavering. 


There was a rustling sound as Severus stood and the door shut loudly firmly behind him. “Bloody useless Death Eater.” Lily fumed quietly, answering Harry’s silent question of her feelings regarding the matter. He wanted nothing more than to inform her that pretty soon, her friend ‘Sev’ would be another amongst the ranks. Just as the impulse came to him, it evaporated as rapidly. She seemed to actually like Snape, and he wouldn’t want to alienate her from her friend. 


How weird, his mother being friends with Snape. If he hadn’t seen it with his own two eyes, he’d hardly be able to believe it. He can’t imagine anyone would want to spend their time with someone who was always so bitter and judgemental, though he supposed Snape had to have friends somewhere. It seemed like in his own timeline, the staff seemed to get along with him as well as anyone could possibly get along with him. Maybe he just hated students. 


Of course, Snape did call his mother a mudblood at one point, though he could imagine that it hadn’t happened yet, since Lily seemed to still care a great deal about her friend. He couldn’t help but wonder what drove them apart and how their friendship could change so drastically - they seemed to be pretty close, from what he could gather in the time he had observed them. 


His head gave another painful throb, and he remembered he was supposed to be drinking water and rehydrating. It wouldn’t do him any good to ignore that advice; he’d never be able to explain what he was doing there if he wound up in the hospital wing upon arrival. He needed to straighten everything out, and quickly. 


He forced his eyes open, noticing that Lily was now reading a book and didn’t seem to be dwelling on the exchange that had just taken place with Snape’s other friends. He was pretty sure that in the same position, he’d still be fuming. Perhaps he got his temperament from his father, in that regard. 


He held his wand to the cup Lily had transfigured earlier, filling it with water once more and taking a sip to hopefully combat his dry throat and the ache in his head. Harry grimaced slightly as the water did more harm than good to his already on edge system, and he stood shakily, not wanting to run the risk of embarrassing himself any further than he’d already done. 


“Harry, are you alright?” Lily asked with concern, rising and reaching out to press her hand against his forehead, “You’re feeling a bit warm again and you don’t look well.”


“I’m fine.” Harry managed to say in a light tone, hiding the growing discomfort he felt, “I just need to stretch my legs for a bit. I’ll be right back.”


Before Lily could attempt to persuade him to stay, he slipped into the hall and began making his way to the toilets, hoping to find the nearest one empty. He made his way to the end of the corridor, relieved to find that luck was on his side as he ducked into the room and locked the door behind him. He stood at the sink, splashing some cool water on his face and breathing deeply in an attempt to stave off the sickness that threatened to burst free. He didn’t have time for this, nor did he want any additional unnecessary attention brought his way.


His mouth watered and he spit into the sink, gripping it tightly as he focused on breathing in and out slowly, all while silently yelling at his body to pull itself together. He stood there, body braced and eyes shut tightly, for awhile - he wasn’t even sure how long, as he had lost track of time trying to focus solely on not getting sick again. Eventually, he was pretty sure he’d won the battle against his rebelling stomach and was about to declare it a victory when the train came to a stop and the sound of students disembarking met his ears. This was it, then. He’d made it to Hogsmeade station, and now he’d have to find a way to locate Dumbledore, get him alone, and convince him of this incredibly unbelievable adventure he was on. It came as no surprise when he found himself heaving over the toilet a moment later, nerves winning out over self-control. 


Harry rinsed his mouth out, splashed water on his face yet again, and took a long look at himself in the mirror. Everyone had been right, he looked awful. It had been a long day, and he was exhausted and vaguely ill. He wanted nothing more than to find a place to lie down and sleep before revisiting this situation in the morning. Unfortunately, that was not an option. 


The sounds of students exiting the train tapered off, and Harry slipped back into the hall with a bracing deep breath, summoning all of his Gryffindor courage before stepping off the train. It appeared as though he was the only one who remained, and that actually worked out perfectly for him because it gave him the opportunity to rehearse his plans on the trek to the castle. 


He would seek out Dumbledore, introduce himself, produce the time turner for proof, and ask for help. In the scenario that played out in his head, Dumbledore would ask him a few questions to gauge how truthful he was being, perhaps even using veritaserum or legilimency for proof, and then he’d find some trinket on his desk that would send him on his way. There would probably be a lemon drop offered, he may ask about the war and how it turned out or he may demand not to know anything less Harry’s appearance in the 1970s mess it all up. Dumbledore was trustworthy and the two of them got along well enough in his own timeline, so in theory they should in the past as well. Harry was still the same person, just misplaced in the timeline. 


It was ridiculously easy to get into the castle, leaving Harry to wonder if things were the same in his own timeline - if so, what’s to stop Voldemort from waltzing in the front gates to snatch him? He assumed that the protections came later, possibly as a result of the first war, because if it were so easy to come and go from the castle, surely it would be the talk of the Gryffindor common room. 


By the time he made it to the castle, most of the students had already gathered in the Great Hall, and he could see a slightly younger looking Dumbledore standing in front of the crowd. Slipping into the shadows of the school, Harry ascended the staircases, on the familiar path to Dumbledore’s office. He’d wait there for the headmaster to arrive after the feast; hopefully the fact that everyone should be in the dining hall would be enough to keep him from being caught and questioned until Dumbledore arrived.


The meeting did not go as planned. 


“How can I help you?” Dumbledore asked kindly, a twinge of suspicion in his voice, as he looked down on Harry, who had been seated on the floor with his head against his knees, enjoying the cool concrete on his warm body. He had been close to dozing off, and hadn’t even heard the headmaster approach. 


Harry startled, then hastily rose to his feet feeling like a bundle of nervous energy. The headmaster motioned for Harry to follow him, and they ascended the spiral staircase to Dumbledore’s office. 


“Lemon drop?”


“No, thank you, sir.” Harry said nervously, “I, uh, I…”


Dumbledore waited patiently, seemingly deciding that the stammering teen was more amusing than a threat, judging by the twinkle in his eye. 


“Well, the thing is...I, um…”


“Why don’t you just start at the beginning?”


“That’s a little hard to do, actually, because the beginning is the end and I’m actually right in the middle right now, but I’m not sure where to actually begin, and--”


“Let’s start with something easy. What is your name?”


“Harry, sir.” Harry replied, some of the anxiety loosening with a question he actually knew the answer to, “Harry Potter.”


“Potter? I wasn’t aware the Potters had any other living relatives, especially one so young.”


Harry took a deep breath, exhaling slowly as he tried to formulate a response that wouldn’t make him sound mental, “Well, technically speaking they don’t yet.”


So much for not sounding mental. 


Harry tried again, taking a steadying breath before confessing, “I’m not actually from this time. I’m from the future.”


He paused, expecting laughter, denial, or some sort of reaction. Instead, the Headmaster tilted his head slightly, as if to urge the boy to continue. 


“James Potter is my father. I was in our family vault, and I found a time turner. Everything is so messed up, I just wanted to go back and fix it, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. Then I saw him and I panicked and wanted to get away, and I guess I spun it too many times - really, I had no idea what I was doing - and then I was on the train platform and it was now and not then and I didn’t know what to do, but I knew that if anyone could help, it would be you, sir.”


Harry didn’t like the way his voice shook nor the way it was painfully obvious how nervous he was about the whole thing. He didn’t like his lack of ability to form a coherent thought in the face of the headmaster. He didn’t like that Dumbledore was still staring pensively at him, as if trying to put together a puzzle. He really didn’t like 1975. Except for his mother, he did like seeing her.


Silence stretched on for several minutes, and with each passing moment, Harry’s anxiety grew exponentially.


“Alright.”


“Alright, sir?”


“Let me see if I’m understanding this correctly…” Dumbledore began, tapping his fingers together, “Something bad happened to you, and you wanted to fix it, and you thought a time turner was your best option?”


“I didn’t say it was a good plan, sir.” Harry retorted, unable to help himself. He tensed, waiting for rebuke, but relaxed a bit once a small smile appeared on the Headmaster’s face. 


“What could have possibly led you to take such a dangerous risk for not only yourself, but everyone else as well? Were you aware of the risk a time turner poses?”


“Yes, sir.” Harry replied meekly, “I, uh, I used one before. You urged me to, actually, to help rescue a free man from being sent to Azkaban.”


“I what?” Dumbledore asked, apparently surprised by his own future self, “Actually, don’t tell me any more about that, I don’t want to cause any lasting damage to the timeline.” 


Harry nodded, then continued, “I lost someone close to me, and it was entirely preventable; if I had only done things differently, he’d still be alive. I needed to go back and fix my mistake; I couldn’t live with myself any longer.”


“If it were so easy to rectify the mistakes of the past, dear boy, I’d wager to say a lot of the darkest part of our histories would be wiped clean.”


Harry nodded, recognizing the chastisement for what it was and acknowledging that he understood. And he did, really - deep down he had known it was a foolish idea. Had it not been, he would have waited until Ron and Hermione were with him to embark on this adventure. Keeping it a secret from them proved that he had known his plan was wrong. 


“I had it all worked out in my head. I just needed to go back in time a few weeks. I was going to fix my mistake and everything would turn out right, and I’d have him back.” Harry paused, “I realize now that it doesn’t work that way, but at the time I wasn’t thinking clearly.” 


Dumbledore nodded solemnly, “Decisions based purely on emotions often lead to obscured views of the outcome.”


“Then when I was trying to figure out how I was going to do it, I was spotted by a professor of mine. I, uh, I wasn’t supposed to leave my relatives’ house because it was too dangerous, but I didn’t listen. It’s, um, a really bad habit of mine.”


“I’m beginning to notice that pattern, my boy.” Dumbledore said kindly, “And is this when you panicked?”


Harry nodded, “The time turner I used before brought us back one hour for every rotation. I realized I’d need to do a lot of rotations to get back months, yeah? But it wasn’t exactly the same, this time turner. I guess it rewound time by days? Years? All I know is that I turned it a bunch of times and I ended up in this year, on this day.”


“And you decided to board the Express and come to school?” Dumbledore questioned, clearly wanted to know more details about the event. 


Harry nodded, “I wasn’t really thinking clearly, I guess. I just knew that everyone who I knew could help me would be here. I mean, even the other adults I know would probably be here as students or maybe just barely adults and definitely wouldn’t be where they would be in my timeline, because they’re, like, young and all. I knew you’d be here, though, and you always have the answer to everything.”


“Harry, my boy, you don’t have to flatter me to get me to help you.” Dumbledore smiled kindly at the frazzled teen, “Although I have to admit that I don’t have a readily available answer for you. I will need to do some research and figure out how to send you back on your way.”


“I’m not trying to flatter you, sir, it’s the truth.” Harry replied earnestly, flushing with embarrassment. He tried to hold a neutral expression at the news that Dumbledore didn’t have an easy answer, but tears welled up in his eyes anyway. He’d have to blame the stress of time travel, because Harry Potter did not cry, especially over something non-life-threatening. “What…” his voice shook, and he cleared his throat before trying again, “What should I do until you figure something out, sir?”


Dumbledore was silent for a moment, then waved his wand towards the door, making a motion that Harry recognized as a messaging system he’d seen Dumbledore of his time use. “The most logical choice would be for you to stay here in the castle and attend classes until we get this sorted out. I’m assuming you were a student here in your time?”


“Yes, sir.”


“What year were you in?”


“5th, sir.” Harry replied, torn between excitement that he’d get to attend classes with his parents and dread that he’d have to attend even more classes even though during his timeline, it was the height of summer break. 


“Very well, then. I will place you with the 5th year students here.”


The door opened, and McGonagall walked in. She startled slightly at the sight of the unknown yet slightly familiar teen, and then turned to the headmaster, “You needed me, Albus?”


“Yes, yes.” Dumbledore replied, not seemingly phased at all by the situation that had unfolded, “Young Mr. Potter here is visiting us from….when did you say, Mr. Potter?”


“1996, sir.” Harry replied, looking down at his shoes. He could picture his own Professor McGonagall staring at him through tightly pursed lips with an expression of bewilderment and exasperation at yet another mess he’d landed himself in. Stealing a glance towards his head of house, he was not at all surprised to see that the 1975 version was looking at him with the same expression. It made him want to laugh, but he bit his lip and tried to hold it back - he didn’t think either professor would be inclined to find the situation funny, and in reality it wasn’t, he was just overtired and stressed out. 


“Yes, 1996. He had a slight time turner mishap, and has found himself in our year. While I help young Mr. Potter return to his intended time period-”


Harry’s eyes snapped up, as it sounded like Dumbledore was hinting that he was going to help Harry return to where he wanted to go and not where he originated from. 


“I would like to offer him room and board; I can’t very well let a teenager live in the streets while I work out a solution, wouldn’t you agree, Minerva?”


“Children using time turners...what a recipe for disaster.” McGonagall said gravely, as if she would never permit such a thing. That, too, made Harry want to laugh as he thought about Hermione being allowed to use one at even a younger age. 


McGonagall seemed to compose herself quickly, and she nodded, “We can’t turn him away, it’s much too dangerous for him to be out on the street in times like these.” She turned to the boy, clarifying, “I’m not sure what the world looks like for you in the future, but right now we are in the midst of a war. You will be safe here, but elsewhere…”


“We’re in a war in my time, too.” Harry replied dully, flashes of Sirius falling through the veil surging through his mind. His heart and stomach clenched in sorrow at the memory, reminding him why it was important to return to 1996, albeit earlier 1996. “A lot of the same players involved, actually.” 


He could practically feel Dumbledore’s desire for more information palpable in the air, but the headmaster had the self-restraint to not probe further, knowing the dangers of doing so. He looked at McGonagall, and then at Dumbledore, “I suppose I should tell you that I talked to some students on the train...I couldn’t tell them my name, of course, because I’m sure that James Potter knows he’s the only living Potter of his age. I introduced myself as Harry Pottingham - I know, what a stupid name, right?”


“And what else did you tell the students you encountered? Try not to leave anything out.” Dumbledore replied encouragingly, “You did well to remember that you couldn’t use your real name.”


“Uh, just that I was home educated by my relatives because my parents were dead - I actually do live with my relatives, so I knew I wouldn’t forget that part, though I couldn’t tell them I was a Hogwarts student because they’d know they’ve never seen me here before. Other than that, nothing that would need to be corroborated; just that I like to play quidditch and my preferred position is seeker and that my favorite class is Defence.” Harry paused, thinking back to the conversations he’d held with Lily, Remus, and Snape on the train, “I’m pretty sure that’s it, though.”


Dumbledore and McGonagall shared a somber glance, and Harry tried to figure out what they were silently communicating with their expression. He realized it probably had to do with knowing he was a Potter, which meant he must be James’s son, and also learning that he lived with relatives, which implied that James was dead. If they thought 35 was a young age to be dead, they’d probably be upset to know that he’d only made it to 21.


“Is he to attend classes?” McGonagall asked, scrutinizing the teenager as if trying to determine solely by looking at him if he knew anything of use. “Where are you planning for him to stay?”


Dumbledore looked over his glasses at his closest colleague with a smile that Harry had come to recognize as the man’s ‘calculating’ expression. A glance at McGonagall’s face made it seem to Harry as though she recognized that expression as well. “Of course he will attend classes, we are a school, after all. I would dare say that the son of James Potter allowed to roam the castle without any sort of timetable would be a recipe for mischief.”


Harry wanted to feel insulted, but considering he’d had one day of freedom and wound up twenty years in the past…the headmaster was probably correct in his assumptions. 


McGonagall actually paled slightly at the idea of the progeny of James having free reign to do whatever came to his mind, and Harry had to question what sort of mischief the marauders got into beyond what he already knew through tales from Remus and Sirius. 


“Yes, you’re absolutely right.” she looked from Harry to Dumbledore with a thoughtful expression, “Are we going to sort him into a house? Shall I procure him supplies and clothing?”


Leave it to McGonagall to be logical and thorough in her approach, it was nice to see that some things didn’t change with time. 


“I have some money.” Harry offered, “I can buy what I need. In my own timeline, I’m a Gryffindor.” 


The last thing he wanted was to wind up being sorted in a different house when he had the opportunity to spend time with his parents and their friends. 


Apparently, Dumbledore was thinking about Harry spending time with his family as well, and he tapped his fingers together thoughtfully as he spoke, “I don’t feel it’s wise to place you in Gryffindor. There is too much risk involved with you and your father in close quarters; if you reveal the future to him, permanent damage to the timeline may be done and we may never get you back where you belong.” 


Harry felt like someone punched him in the gut and he froze, staring at the headmaster. He wanted to beg and plead that he would never give them information that would mess up the timeline, and that he would be careful not to do anything that could end in disaster, but he found it impossible to formulate the words necessary to do so. Blood rushed through his ears and the room faded out for a brief moment as the impact of the situation hit him; he was going to have had the chance to spend time with his parents, but now it would be a lost cause - he’d seen and heard enough to know that the marauders were very prideful of their place in Gryffindor and didn’t seek companionship outside of the common room. 


“Where would I go, then?” Harry asked softly after a few moments of silence. He hated how pathetic his voice sounded, but it did seem to endear McGonagall, who gave him a kind smile as if to reassure him. 


Harry swallowed thickly, hoping that Dumbledore didn’t pull out the sorting hat and place it on his head. The blasted thing had almost sorted him into Slytherin first year, and if Gryffindor was removed as an option, it may try to do so again. Teenage Snape didn’t seem as bad as adult Snape, but that didn’t mean he wanted to be roommates with the man. 


“Oh come on, Albus.” McGonagall sighed, “Don’t you think the lad’s been through enough already? I’m sure he understands the dangers of revealing the future; Mr. Potter, would you be able to keep your identity a secret?”


“Yes, Professor.” Harry replied, hope blossoming in his chest, “I would never want to do something that could possibly result in changing the future. I have great friends in my own timeline that I can’t wait to see again, and I wouldn’t jeopardize that friendship just for a temporary moment here.”


He was surprised to realize that it was true. 


“If you’re certain, Mr. Potter.” Dumbledore said, giving Harry a stern look, “You have to be very cautious with what you say and do, as to not make any changes to the timeline. It may sound easy right now, but I’m sure there will come to be a point where it will be more difficult, and you must rise to the challenge. Do you understand?”


“Yes, sir.” Harry replied enthusiastically. He would really need to buy McGonagall a nice gift once he returned to his normal time - he wasn’t sure he’d ever done enough to show her how much he appreciated her. 


Dumbledore nodded, taking a sheet of parchment from his desk and writing a few things down before handing it to McGonagall, “Can you arrange for Harry to have these items in time for class tomorrow after you escort him to the tower and introduce him to his new classmates?”


“Certainly.” She looked down at Harry and gave him a small, reserved smile, “Come along, Mr. Potter--Mr. Pottingham, let's get you settled in. I can expect you’re exhausted after such an eventful day.”


“Thank you.” Harry told the headmaster gratefully, then allowed himself to be led out of the office by his head of house. To imagine that the previous night he was alone in his room at the Durlseys, mourning Sirius’s death and wishing for an escape and now he was about to meet the teenage version of his family...he simply couldn’t believe it. 

To be continued...


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