A/N: Harry is partially defined by his “saving people thing,” which makes him an excellent hero. He also has plenty of courage, knows when to stand up for what he believes in, and tries to do the right thing. But what if he didn’t have a “saving people thing”? What if he was a coward, doesn’t particularly believe in anything, and isn’t even sure what the ‘right thing’ is? This fanfic is the struggle of a hero who doesn’t have any heroic qualities.
Disclaimer: Don’t own Harry Potter!
Harry Potter was only good at one thing, and that was surviving.
In fact, that was what he was doing right now.
The situation was something like this:
It was a three-story bungalow in a deserted section of a Muggle suburban neighborhood. There were four Death Eaters on the ground floor blocking off the exit, and at least two more thundering up the stairs if the noise was anything to go by.
Harry was on the third floor and becoming increasingly nervous. He checked his inventory to see what he had: his wand, some gum, a piece of string, a knife, a galleon taped to his left ankle, a watch, and a time-turner. He had already used the time turner in an attempt to save himself from this situation (a rescue mission that failed horribly due to unforeseen complications) and his past self was running around somewhere, hopefully still alive.
He checked his watch. 5:07. If his memory was accurate, he should be cowering in a bush right about now.
Right. So. All he had to do was save himself and his past self and make a getaway.
Option one was that he could try and fight his way past the Death Eaters, but as good a fighter as he was, it was still six against one. They were curse-happy and unpredictable and he might lose something important like an arm in the process.
Option two was….
There was a bang from the third-story landing, and Harry stopped planning.
He blasted open a window and, hoping for the best, leapt out of it.
Just before he hit the ground, he waved his wand sharply. His descent slowed dramatically, and while there was still a painful-sounding thump when he landed, he got to his feet relatively unharmed. Could have been worse, he thought.
He charged off across the backyard in the direction he thought his past-self was. He turned the corner of a neighboring house, decided to make a detour through an enclosed patio—and then skidded to a halt.
The patio was enclosed on three sides by a tall wooden fence, and the fourth side by a house. Mixed in among the patio furniture, looking like they were about to have some sort of macabre garden party, were five Death Eaters. Worse, thought Harry.
He gave a yell of surprise at the sight of them, which was drowned out by a collective cry of, “It’s Potter!” Most of the spells they sent at him hit the shield he had thrown up, but one of them he barely managed to avoid by diving to the right.
“I don’t suppose,” huffed Harry, spinning and dodging curses as he went, “we could work out a deal?” He located the two entrances: one of them was blocked by Death Eaters and through the one he had just entered, he could see more Death Eaters running towards the patio. “Anybody,” pant, “low on cash? I’ve got lots of—Aggh!”
A sickly green curse had missed him by inches. “That was the killing curse, you bastard!” Ok, thought Harry, that was a no-go on bribery. But I’m not going to win in a fair fight, so…
Time to make it unfair.
He had noticed a grill earlier. The Death Eaters didn’t know what it was, probably because they scorned anything Muggle, and they were grouped around the two gas tanks that supplied the grill without a care in the world. It would be messy, considered Harry, but sometimes you just have to what’s necessary.
Giving what (he hoped was) a fearsome war-cry, he enjoyed the Death Eaters’ look of surprise as he charged the ones just arriving at the patio. They faltered for a split second, and Harry used this time to cast a propulsion spell on himself. He launched himself over their heads, and, twisting in midair, sent the most powerful combustion curse he knew towards the gas tanks.
It would have been very cool, but the force of the explosion knocked him straight out of the air and into a nearby tree. Picking himself off the ground with a groan, Harry realized that the explosion had been much more powerful than he’d ever thought it would be. The gas tanks seemed to have fueled the power of the curse exponentially.
He stumbled back towards the wreckage of the patio, ears ringing, and surveyed the damage. The lucky Death Eaters were unconscious, and the unlucky Death Eaters seemed to be… missing things. Groans and muffled screams accosted him despite his recovering hearing. He smiled grimly. Victorious again. He walked around briskly, finishing off any of the Death Eaters that were still alive. I think there might be some moral code against killing your enemies while they’re unconscious, mused Harry. Oops.
He was almost done when something near the edge of the patio made his blood freeze. There was someone lying underneath one of the fences. They must have been on the opposite side of the fence when the fence was blown outward by the force of the explosion. Normally, this wouldn’t have bothered Harry, but the feet sticking out from underneath the fence were wearing the same shoes he was wearing.
He had a very bad feeling about this.
He began stumbling over to the fence, speeding up until he was sprinting. He banished the fence with a wave of his wand, and was left looking at…. Himself.
There was a piece of wooden shrapnel sticking out of his past-self’s chest that looked disturbingly fatal. Harry’s stomach seemed to fall from a great height, and he found that he had trouble breathing; his mind went blank except for the repeated phrase, Oh God, Oh God, Oh God…
“What are you doing here, you idiot?” hissed Harry at his past self. “You’re not supposed to be anywhere near here at this time!”
“I… heard a… noise…” mumbled his past self. “Decided to… come check it out. Thought I might’ve—used—the… the time-turner.” He gave a hacking laugh. “I was right.”
Harry’s mind whirled. He had changed the timeline by causing a disturbance that had brought his past self running over. And then he had accidentally blown himself up. Oh, of all the ironies… All the things I’ve been through and it turns out the only thing I can’t survive is myself.
His past self’s eyes were closing. “Oh, no you don’t buster,” snapped Harry. He slapped his other self gently on the cheek. “Don’t you dare… Don’t you dare… Wake up!”
But it was too late. Harry could only sit, frozen, and his past self’s breathing became slower and slower.
How is this possible? he thought. If my past self dies, then how can I exist? If he dies, then he never uses the time-turner, and I never go back in time. How… How…
“Paradox,” whispered Harry.
No sooner had he said this than the ground started shaking. A feeling not dissimilar to having one’s insides tied into knots erupted throughout his body. He collapsed on the ground, and barely registered the fact that both he and his past self were glowing. Great.
His last coherent thought was a memory of Hermione saying, “Bad things happen to wizards who mess with time.” Looks like she was right about that one.
Then everything went black.