When Harry wakes up in his almost-eleven year old body, it is both a blessing and a curse. There he is, in the hut on a rock, his aunt screaming at him, his uncle glowering at him, with Dudley blubbering something in the back - and suddenly he has the chance to make things right. He can save Remus and Tonks and Fred - he can save Sirius, save Cedric, save everyone.
So he waits for Hagrid and looks forward to his old life and the opportunity to relive it anew.
For as long as it lasts, his second chance at life is as close to the original as he can get it without completely ruining it. He tries to hide everything, his knowledge of the future, his knowledge of magic, his knowledge of everything, and manipulate things to go just the right way, waiting for the key events that needed to be change. He looks forward to his third year because that was when he met Sirius - this time he’d make sure the meeting wouldn't take the whole year to happen. And he dreads his fourth year at Hogwarts, because that was when everything started, but he knows that he will be prepared for it this time.
His first year goes as it had in his past; there’s Quirrell who releases the troll, which marks the beginning of a long lasting friendship. There’s Snape and his never ending hatred, which Harry can now shrug off without a second thought. He sees into the Mirror of Erised and Quirrell dies at the end of the year. The philosopher's stone is saved, and then destroyed. Hermione and Ron are his friends, and he leaves the castle to wait over the summer for another year.
He survives his second year for two months, before the sight of great yellow eyes around a corner send him back to the beginning.
The third time Harry wakes up on the eve of his eleventh birthday, he follows the pattern of the first plan, this time intending to be more careful during his second year. He’d take the diary from Ginny in the beginning, somehow, so that the basilisk wouldn't be released - it had been stupid to let her have it anyway. That way the whole Chamber of Secrets incident would never happen, he would destroy one Horcrux sooner rather than later, and for once he would have a peaceful school year, Gilderoy Lockhart and Snape notwithstanding.
In his third rerun of life, the broom bucks under him during his first real Quidditch game and he is too close to ground for anyone to stop him in time. The last thing he perceives before waking up again in the past is a sickening crack as his neck broke.
He treads his fourth go at life carefully. The first books he buys are of self-protection charms - such as a shield which would make him bounce rather than break his neck to the ground. The shield becomes second nature and when McGonagall wants him to join the team, Hooch will have none of it because the shield gives him an advantage over Bludgers. Harry mourns the game, but decides that it’s a necessary sacrifice - he wouldn’t lose another chance to something that meaningless.
He survives his fourth-first year under constant shielding charms. Ron is not his friend, and people think he’s paranoid. Hermione talks to him because he’s better than her in classes and she wants to learn all she can - but the friendship isn’t the same. In the second year, Harry’s not anywhere near close enough to the Weasley family to be able to use the car to fly to Hogwarts - and instead has to wait on the platform for someone to pick him up. He isn't close enough to stop Ginny from using the diary either, but he manages to grab it from the girl's toilet after the youngest Weasley gets too scared to write in it. He has no means of destroying the diary, so he hides it instead, hoping to get back to it later on when he had the Gryffindor sword. The rest of the year goes by without an incident.
For the first time in his repeating lives, he reaches his third year - the year of Sirius. He looks forward to it giddily and greedily. His steps almost skip as he escapes the Dursleys, thinking Sirius would be there, waiting for him in the bushes where the bear like dog was during his first life… but it is too soon and as he hails the Knight Bus, the dog is nowhere to be seen. Still, there’s much to look forward to, so he waits in the Diagon Alley. It's not nearly as enjoyable as it was in his first life, but he thinks it’s because he’s older, rather than because he’s friendless. The day Hermione comes to buy her school books and get new robes, they exchange a few words and that’s all. Still, it’s alright. He has Sirius to look forward to.
But Sirius doesn't come. Harry doesn't play Quidditch this time around, so the Dog doesn't come to watch. The year goes by without much excitement aside from the speculation - and the few times someone, Malfoy, teases him about Sirius, Harry ignores it. There’s no adventure to find who and what Sirius was to him, of course, as he already knows… and as he has no one to have adventures with.
The night Sirius finds Wormtail, Harry isn't there to stop him from killing Peter Pettigrew, nor is he there to stop Snape from finding Sirius. The next day he wakes up, and the school is shocked about the execution that had happened on the grounds. That night Harry watches as the soulless Sirius is taken away and probably back to Azkaban.
He dies in a mad attempt to kill the Dementor that killed his Godfather.
He wakes up to his fifth eleventh birthday furious. The windows rattle and the Dursleys draw back and when Hagrid comes along, even the half giant is terrified by the display of power that seemed to set the very air around Harry on fire. Harry is taken immediately to Hogwarts, he is put under magical suppressants and forced to drink several calming draughts. Whether it is because of his misdiagnosis, or because the batch of the calming potion is too strong, or because he is too malnourished to take it all, doesn't matter. The result is the same.
He wakes up again at the start of the day, and it’s only as Hagrid takes him to Diagon Alley without any knowledge of the burst of magic that Harry realises he didn't even survive one day of his fifth life. His sixth life starts thus subdued and shy, and rather similar to his first one. By the time the week is over, however, he has a new plan.
In his sixth-first day of Hogwarts, he snatches Ron's pet rat and takes it to McGonagall, who is too stunned by the appearance of a dead man to even wonder how an eleven year old could find a hidden Animagus, let alone force the man back to his human shape. Aurors come a little later, and Harry is questioned for two hours. He makes up a tale of letters between his mother and aunt and how he knew about the marauders being Animagi and that he’d read his own history in a book. It takes a while, but they believe him. Sirius is released two weeks later with compensation, and immediately sends a letter to Harry.
Harry is too busy with the correspondence with his long lost Godfather to make friends with Ron, or Hermione, or anyone for that matter. He feels he’d gotten it right - up until the point when he meets Quirrell in a dark corridor while trying to sneak away to meet Sirius in Hogsmeade in fit of recklessness.
He wakes up to seventh eleventh birthday, feeling hollow and numb. He’d been so close to happiness this time, and it had ended up being such a short lived experience. It marked the sixth time he’d gotten it wrong. The question of how he could've gotten it so right the first time around starts haunting him and when Hagrid takes him to Diagon Alley, Harry buys a book on memory magic and how to freshen memories of past lives. If he could remember how it all had gone the first time around, then maybe he could make subtle changes which would ensure a happier future.
When Ron finds him on the train, nose in the book, he doesn't try to strike up a conversation. Hermione does, and for a good fifteen minutes they talk about memories and past lives - Hermione had read this or that book in the muggle world which Harry should check out. Somehow, Harry ends up in Ravenclaw this time around, and it’s loud and clear proof that this life will not last long. He decides to not bother trying to getting it right at all this time around, and instead spends his time in the library, learning everything that could help him in the next run through.
He learns and learns and after somehow surviving through his first year without so much as a glance towards Quirrell or the philosopher's stone, he continues learning. He spends half a fortune on a Pensieve and breaks the underage magic law, twice, three times in order to extract old memories. Dumbledore bails him out with a warning - being the Boy Who Lived helps. He gets special permission to practice magic, as long as he does it out of the sight of muggles.
He studies his memories throughout the summer and makes a list of the things he’d done in order to know the next time around what to do. He spends his whole seventh-second year studying, memorising spell after spell, studying history, studying Voldemort. Time passes and it’s more of a surprise than a relief when he realises that the year is suddenly over, and he is going into the third year. After the fact he finds out that Ginny Weasley had vanished at some point, and though the Chamber of Secrets had been opened, he’d never even noticed it.
He can do nothing but shrug his shoulders at the whole thing, eventually. Whether or not a sixteen year old Tom Riddle is skulking about doesn't matter to him, not during this life. As painful as it is, he decides to ignore Sirius this time around too - it wouldn’t do any good saving him this time as he wasn't planning to live that long, and so while the Dementors prowl the school, he studies. If Sirius attacks Gryffindor common room, he doesn't notice, and if he goes after Pettigrew, he hears nothing about it. The year ends without a sound and later he reads from a paper that Sirius had been recaptured in Hogsmeade soon after the school year ended.
He somehow lives to his fourth year, and through it, through the Tri-Wizard tournament, and even his own unwilling admittance into it. This time he fights the obstacles by his own knowledge. It's odd how easily it all goes when one knows what’s going to happen, and has all the knowledge to defeat the obstacles. It goes smoothly, up until all of sudden he finds himself before Voldemort and a ghostly young Tom Riddle in the graveyard of Little Hangleton. He’s too confused about living so long that, when Voldemort shoots green fire at him, he doesn't even try to duck.
In his eighth life, he decides to put his plans into action. Everything goes smoothly. He makes friends with Ron and Hermione as he originally did, and at the end of the year he battles Quirrell in from to the Mirror of Erised. In the second year his Parselmouth abilities are revealed and a few muggleborns are petrified, Hermione included. At the end of the year he saves Ginny from Tom Riddle's diary. In third year, he sees a black dog here and there, he 'learns' the Patronus Charm from Remus, and at the end of the year he helps Sirius escape with the use of Hermione's Time Turner.
When at the end of his fourth year he reappears at Hogwarts with the dead body of Cedric Diggory, he can't help but wonder if things are going right after all. In his fifth year, he knows that following the original pattern is not going right at all.
He wakes up to his ninth time of life, swearing to find a painless way of committing suicide the next time. He also swears to make things different this time - though he has next to no idea how he’d change things and keep them right. Going with the original pattern didn't work, changing things a little didn't work, and changing things drastically didn't work. But life didn't wait for him to decide and still thinking about it, he goes to Diagon Alley and eventually to Hogwarts. He makes sure not to be distracted enough to forget his friends this time, and ever so tentatively starts the Philosopher's stone hunt again, all the while wondering how to make this life the right one.
The first year goes as it always did, and the ninth-second begins as usual. He and Ron fly to Hogwarts and the year starts. He doesn't grab the diary from Ginny and instead waits for things to go by as they did, careful around the corners and trying to avoid getting people killed. The Basilisk fights him harder this time, because this time he is a harder opponent for it. He dies in its jaws, still not sure how to live through his life without getting it wrong or dying in an attempt at getting it right.
He stops trying at his tenth second life. He doesn't study, he barely makes friends, he barely pays attention to anything, too tired to care anymore and wishing to just take a break from it. He manages somehow to make it to the middle of his third year before a Dementor's Kiss sends him back again.
In his eleventh life, he declines to go to Hogwarts. The Dursleys are stunned speechless by the whole thing and Hagrid is equally shocked. A day after they return to the Privet Drive, Dumbledore comes to meet him, to try and persuade him – even a few Ministry officials visit him a few days later. A month later Harry realises how troublesome it was to be the Boy Who Lived and decline magic - every other day for a month, either a person or a letter or some artefact tried to persuade him to accept the magic within him. The Dursleys all loathe the constant intrusions into their life and are oddly proud of him for denying magic, which possibly annoys him most of all.
A month after that, Harry runs away, deciding to find some solitude away from magic and from the Dursleys. The world is suddenly broad and wide open before him and he can go anywhere. Just a little break from his life, and all the second lives, a little bit of liberty. He would travel and see the muggle world and all its wonders, he would sight see and visit exotic lands….
A week after running away from home, he’s caught in an alley by Fenrir Greyback.
In his twelfth try at life, he begrudgingly returns to Hogwarts. On his second day at the school, he makes his way to the Headmaster's office where he explains everything to the man, explaining all the events and future happenings and exactly what would happen that day, the next day, and the next week. Dumbledore stares at him wide-eyed for a moment, and then speaks.
Harry wakes up on his thirteenth eleventh birthday with the memories of living through the whole of his twelfth incarnation without any memories of the previous eleven ones. He did everything as he did in the original life time, eventually dying in attempt to defeat Voldemort in Hogwarts Great Hall, for the first time since his first life as an actual seventeen-years-old. His Headmaster had erased his memories - or blocked them somehow - and when Harry remembers that, everything changes. His thirteenth life is the first one where Fawkes doesn't come to his aid in the Chamber of Secrets, and certainly not the last one.
Lives go by like days, for a while without care, without order, with his toes on the lines, edging where to go, how far could the limits be stretched. Harry can never get out of the country, never beyond Britain, very rarely out of the places seen in his first life. Odd constrictions upon his life, like guidelines or the boarders of a playing field, edges to his odd confinement he can't cross. By the twentieth life, he’s still not lived past sixteen years of age except during his first and thirteenth lives. He hasn't even seen what Wales looks like, despite many tries. By that time he’s realised that there are rules he apparently should be following - all of them in Hogwarts. The path of events, like a line of breadcrumbs, waiting him to follow.
And when he did follow, he got killed, or everything went wrong and he killed himself in order to try again. By following the original path, he knows he can reach farther than before, but he can't save anyone - everything goes as it did in his original life, Cedric dies, Sirius dies, Dumbledore dies, so many people die. He keeps on living, and nothing changes. He never manages to handle Sirius's death, and always not much after it, he kills himself, swearing to find a different way.
In his thirtieth life, he tries to go out hunting Horcruxes sooner. He gets the diary and the diadem and even finds the ring. The ring ends up killing him.
In his thirty second life, he tries again in a different way and a different order. The result is the same and he decides not to try again.
In his thirty third life, he befriends everyone he can see, making friends with even the Slytherin side of the school - Draco Malfoy considers himself Harry's best friend. He goes to sleep just after Christmas of his first year, and wakes up in his eleventh birthday, still feeling the knife in his back.
On his thirty fourth try, he makes friends only with one person, trusting all his secrets to that person, everything about his second lives and the one he’d managed to live almost until he was eighteen year old, the first one, and all that had happened. Hermione ends up dead in their second year, killed by the Basilisk.
In his thirty fifth life, he pretends to be an idiot and flunks every class to try and see if he could avoid making it to second year. He still makes it, finding out that you didn't even need to know how to read in order to graduate from Hogwarts, you just graduated with very bad grades. In this life he makes it to the end of his fourth year with all of world thinking he's a half wit, and even manages to make it back from the graveyard. He’s Kissed by the Dementors in the summer before his fifth year, and as he wakes up, again an eleven year old, he wonders if Dudley got his soul sucked out too.
His thirty sixth time he pretends, mostly for fun rather than anything else, to be a seer. He foresees everything from the food of the next day, to the weather of the next week, and the outcome of the Quidditch matches of the next month - and of course he can recount in perfect detail what was hidden in the third floor corridor, and who would be petrified in the next year, and what prisoner would escape from Azkaban the year after that, and exactly what would happen in year nineteen ninety four. He has random fits of prophesies where there are plenty of people listening and generally reveals as much of the future as possible. The Ministry kidnaps him at the end of the year, and for four months he is locked up in the Hall of Prophesies as the greatest seer to walk on earth. He dies in an accident that floods the entire Department of Mysteries in toxic smoke.
In his thirty seventh life, he stages an accident and is run over by car. The accident takes his legs, but after a month in hospital, he is taken to Hogwarts nonetheless. People pity him and feel sorry for him and Madam Pomfrey tries to make him learn how to walk on peg legs. The idea had seemed like an interesting experience at first, but after five months of it he wobbles his way to the astronomy tower and kills himself for the second time.
In his thirty eighth second life, he makes himself deaf by means that send him into St. Mungos for a few days. The damage is not permanent, but after it’s been fixed, he repeats the self-inflicted injury - and again and again until people think he’s insane, and give up. Still, he’s taken to Hogwarts because people are certain that being around people his own age would help him heal from whatever mental trauma was making him maim himself so. It’s oddly amusing, because by that time he’s realised that he’s probably older than McGonagall was, even if still in the body of an eleven year old. That lifetime, the last thing he sees is pair of great yellow eyes.
In his next life, he gouges his own eyes out. In that life he is killed by a Dementor's Kiss, so in the next one he sews his lips shut. It continues on until his forty fifth life, by which time he is tired of waking up and tired of dying. By that time he feels that he’s shared more kisses with Dementors than with humans, and he’s more than sick of making eye contact with Basilisks. In his forty sixth life, he decides to stop moping and have fun.
He paints the great hall pink and makes the Hogwarts corridors bloom with obnoxious orange flowers. He charms all the portraits to sing I Will Survive in chorus. He turns Snape's hair into a lion's mane and makes McGonagall sprout cat ears. He makes the house elves perform a ballet at dinner once, and for Halloween he has the Troll walk in and confess its undying love for Quirrell in perfect English. Durring a Quidditch match he turns all the brooms momentarily into dragons much to everyone's horror, and for a solid week the cauldron's in Snape's classroom are on strike, loudly protesting with banners and flags and cardboard signs about the brutality of kettles. At Christmas, all the snow in the school yard walks in to enjoy the Christmas feast in the form of two hundred snowmen, all of which demand carrots for dinner. For a day, every mirror in the castle is a Mirror of Erised. For Valentine's day he doses every liquid in the Great hall with love potions and spends the whole day completely in love with Neville, who is in love with Hermione, who is in love with Seamus, who is love with Lavender, who is in love with Dean, who is in love with McGonagall, who is love with Sinistra, and so on.
It's the most exhausting year of his life and so enjoyable that though Quirrell somehow manages to kill him, he spends the two next redo's doing pretty much the same, in the third one even going as far as banding up with George and Fred and wreaking havoc like no other. They make trees dance, make people switch bodies; they give people embarrassing colours or quirks and make a few sex changes for the hell of it. When winter comes, they turn the BlackLake into an enormous ice labyrinth, full with snow goblins and traps and such in which students ended up lost for days and the teachers having to reschedule classes in order to find them. They make the Christmas trees act like Marilyn Manson, start no less than eight food fights in the Great Hall and when the year ends, they make the entire castle grow bright purple fur and break the record of the getting most detentions in a year.
That life manages to last three years before Harry dies, mauled to death by Remus Lupin. He decides to take the next second life off to recover from the three year pranking spree. After that one, he spends the next year almost solely flirting with just about anything that moves just because he can. If nothing else, it finally manages to wash away the taste of Dementor from his mouth.
For his fiftieth life, he returns to attempting to live through his life a little better than he originally did. By that time, Hogwarts has nothing new to teach him, there’s barely a book in the library he hasn’t read, no corner or groove in the castle he has yet to see. He has spent literally years in the Room of Requirement and knows all its limits and benefits now. It has a wooden taste to it now, and befriending Hermione and Ron in the same ways as always is getting boring. But he’s tried to befriend other people and those lives hadn't worked out, so he sticks to the original pattern, trying to find the way out of his endless repeating lives.
When it fails, he spends his fifty first life as a dark wizard and is executed for it when he’s fourteen. The next life is spent as a necromancer - this time his own spell backfires and he dies at twelve years old. With two lives spent in letting off steam, he tries again, and in his fifty third life, he tries again to make it a little further than fifth year, preferably without anyone dying. He ends up dying in the middle of his sixth year.
He gives up again when he reaches the mark of sixty lives. He can't figure out how to get the whole thing right. He knows everything now, and yet nothing works. If he goes out hunting Horcruxes too soon, he ends up dying too soon. If he tries to stop Voldemort from coming back, he dies. If he tries to follow the original path, it either remains exactly the same or something goes wrong and he dies. If he tries to make changes, he dies. Nothing works. He always dies. And he always comes back.
He spends three lives studying the Animagus transformation. Four are spent in mastering duelling to the degree where he can force Voldemort into submission. Another two are spent in perfecting the fine points of his Defence Against the Dark Arts skills. Then he tries again to complete a life to the point where it wouldn't start again, trying to get everything right. He fails, wondering where he kept making mistakes, because it was obvious he was doing something wrong.
In his seventy first life, he starts studying time magic, wondering if he could simply force the whole thing to cease, even though something within him already told him it was impossible. And, as he suspected, there is no way to stop the repeating lives from coming - and there was no way to start them either. The sort of time travelling he’s doing isn't in any book he can find, and for two lives straight he keeps hiring people to hunt books for him. None of them explain the situation to him, and none give him a way out. Even making his own time travelling device doesn't work - if he tries to go before his eleventh birthday or beyond his sixteenth, he wakes up as an eleven year old again.
His eightieth life ends when he walks through the Archway of Death only few days after Hagrid took him to Diagon Alley. When he wakes up in the hut on a rock with his family noisily complaining, he sets the whole lot on fire. In his eighty second life, he’s a Slytherin and spends a two years corrupting everyone around him before dying. In his eighty third life, he’s a Hufflepuff and speaks to no one during the four years before Voldemort kills him. In his eighty fourth life, he sets the ForbiddenForest on fire.
It makes no difference, nothing does really. In his first year he can go up to the basilisk and try to seduce it into serving him, and it doesn't work. He can try and gather a following of Slytherins or Gryffindors or whatever, and it never works. He can try and sneakily inform the right people about what will happen, sending letters and messages anonymously, and it somehow ends up getting him killed.
By his ninety-ninth life, he’s forgotten the point behind it all. By that time he’s lived through the same years so many times that his first life, though he knows the motions by heart, seems like a distant dream if even that. And he cannot recall why he’d set out to try and change things, or why it was so horrible if they remained exactly the same.
He’s spent time with Sirius now, asked millions of questions and gotten the same answers - a life where Sirius lives has lost its shine. He’s saved Cedric dozens of times and watched him be killed equally as many times, and can't quite figure out what difference it makes if he lives or if he dies. His friendships with Hermione and Ron had been lived through so many times, that he no longer wants to remake them - after all the lives, he hasn't only gotten bored with his friends, but sick of them. He’s replaced them many times with all sorts of people, with Neville and Luna and Dean and Seamus and Terry and Susan and Lavender and Padma and Parvati, even Draco and Daphne and Pansy and Gregory and Vincent and Blaise and so forth and so forth. Even they feel boring now.
He knows the secrets of just about everyone in the castle, even the teachers, having spent some lives sucking up to them, even befriending them for no use. In one rare life he’d even managed to make Snape thaw, though that had been so tiresome an effect to produce that he doesn't feel like trying again - and really the man wasn't any better as a friend than he was an enemy. In one other rare life, he’d turned to Voldemort and joined him. He’d lived surprisingly long, before Dumbledore himself had ended his life. It wasn't, however, something he ever wanted to do again, not after all the Cruciatuses and such.
In one life, during his third year he got a fifth year girl pregnant and lived just long enough to see his first child born. And as special an event as that had been during his endless lives, he’d never sought to repeat it either.
He no longer wishes to see anything repeated, no one saved. All he really wants now is to die and not wake up again as an eleven year old in the bloody hut on a rock with his bloody relatives. But by this time he’s died so many times that he can tell for sure that the normal methods will do nothing and he’ll just wake up again no matter what kills him, good as new.
In his hundredth life, he puts himself into a medical coma and doesn't wake up for years. It's as close to bliss and oblivion that he can get. After they finally pull the plug on him, he wakes up again at eleven years old, just like always.
And nothing really changes.
In his hundred and first life, he goes through the motions as he did in his first life, as close as he can remember. He befriends Hermione and Ron and kills Quirrell with his touch during his first year and saves Ginny from the basilisk in the second. He accuses Sirius of betrayal before embracing him and watches how Pettigrew escapes. He faces the tournament in his fourth year and brings Cedric's body back in the end. In his fifth year he stands up to Umbridge and gets the scars to prove it and at the end of the year he watches his godfather vanishing behind the veil, helpless and wishing got join him, knowing it wouldn't change anything. That summer, he lures Slughorn into teaching at Hogwarts and eventually watches how Dumbledore falls, all according to the grand design. At seventeen year old, he hunts down Horcruxes, and kills Voldemort and everybody celebrates.
He marries Ginny Weasley and has three children. He becomes an Auror and eventually the director of the Auror office. He’s famous and well liked and by the time he’s fifty, he becomes the Minister for Magic, and remains such for thirty years. He dies at the age of ninety eight of natural causes without anyone knowing he was living through his life like it was a pre-written play, dancing around other people like they were pieces on some grand chessboard, all the time waiting for a blow that would end it and make it rewind.
He dies without getting an answer to the only question he has left. Why?
And everything starts again.