June 23rd, 2367
The world has been at war for over a century, and these days no one knows what peace feels like. Peace is so far removed from the scopes of reality that it has long since become a forgotten concept, not even whispered to the scared babes at night.
No, regrettably peace has not held reign over the world for far too many years. Instead, it has been ruled by conflict, hostility, and fear, creating an age of war the likes of which has never been seen before.
One hundred and thirty-eight years ago muggles found out about the wizarding world, a discovery which led to worldwide panic and chaos.
Muggles around the whole world became terrified and untrusting, caging themselves inside their homes for fear of their own shadows, but they didn't hide forever. No, it didn't take long for their paranoia to fester and grow. Terrified animals that they were, they quickly turned around to strike, too afraid that the wizarding world would be the first to destroy them.
No amount of diplomacy could get the muggle masses to understand the fact that they had been living in co-existence for centuries, even if they had been largely ignorant of it. And so, war broke out and hasn't stopped since.
The muggles were afraid, and they never stopped being afraid. That fear fueled their hatred and their agenda to destroy anything magical in the world - anything they didn't understand and couldn't control.
The first to go was the laughter and joy from all the adults because they knew how severely the world was going to change, but it didn't take long for the children to learn that there was nothing left to laugh about. Then all the children were gone.
Hope for peace was the next to vanish. After decades of never-ending battles, bloodshed, and loss there seemed to be no escaping the nightmare that has become everyone's life. There was no peace, not even amongst allies, because the hunger took over, that unquenchable and blood searing hunger to survive. The hunger took over, and there was nothing left but a need to devour.
The world as it was known stopped existing.
With each advancement the muggles made, they managed to break the world some more, forever incapable of learning to share the world as they were meant to, never understanding that magic was the sole reason they existed.
For over a century, absolute destruction and incomprehensible mayhem plagued the world, with no cure for the deeply rooted malady that brought the world to its shattered knees.
One hundred and thirty-eight years of war and it is all coming to a painful and deadly end because they found a way to destroy her, the mother of all that walks the earth. They managed to create an abomination that was going to destroy them all and Britain was the first the feel its wrath.
Two hours ago, London was fatally struck, leaving it to bleed out and drive the whole country into decay. No witch, wizard, muggle, or creature that had stayed was left alive. A pungent smell of death and toxins was all that remained of them.
A thick cloud of smoke and dirt covered the ruins of the city, and it was still growing larger, fueled by every last building that was still collapsing and burning.
Among the chaos and rubble, there was a lone surviving tower, atop which a raven-haired man silently appeared out of thin air. He stood completely still while wary and saddened eyes roamed over the debris, deep emerald cloak billowing wildly behind him in the wind. His broad looking shoulders quickly sagged as he took in the destruction that spread out in each direction.
To the raven-haired man's left, another figure appeared. A dark hooded man who stumbled in his step and almost collapsed to his knees, but the raven-haired man was quick to grab him by his shoulder for support.
"Too ma-many souls," the dark cloaked man managed to rasp out. "Too many at once," he said before crying out in unbearable pain.
"This is the end, isn't it?" the raven-haired man asked his longtime companion, voice raw with disuse and his rising distress.
The dark hooded man pushed himself up and tried to ignore the pain and anguish of all the passing souls. "They have chosen,'' he confirmed, not bothered to feign the same surprise his friend was feeling. He had more pressing matters to deal with than his companion’s somewhat delicate sensibilities.
''I didn't think... I honestly thought,'' the raven-haired man mumbled, trying to find words. ''I never imagined they would be so...''
''Ignorant and blind?'' supplied his companion unhelpfully as he curiously peeked at the fiery pits below them.
''Cruel and barbaric,'' he corrected unsteadily as he felt another anguished pulse vibrating up his limbs. These pulses were his mothers dying cries, drenched in her heartache and disappointment. ''How could they do this to her?'' he questioned, desperate to understand how it could all have gone so wrong. ''I can hear her tortured screams. Magic is dying, poisoned by these ungrateful creatures. How dare they!'' he roared into the raging storm.
Fed by his anger, the fires burning around them blazed higher, dancing ferociously to the beat of his broken heart. His green eyes were glinting dangerously bright amidst the encompassing darkness, making the earth beneath them shake violently.
"Calm yourself," snapped the dark hooded man commandingly, warily eyeing the burning buildings surrounding them. "It would do no good for you to exhaust or injure yourself right now."
"Could I have prevented this?'' he asked him in a whisper, his rage quickly extinguished by the fresh wave of guilt that came over him.
"It wasn't your responsibility to prevent this,'' he told him evasively, purposefully looking away from him.
"That's not what I asked you,'' the raven-haired man shot back viciously, momentarily unable to see past the haze of guilt that clouded his mind.
"Nothing is set in stone. Maybe you could have, or perhaps you couldn't. You, beyond anyone else traipsing the mortal world, should know this by now,'' he told him calmly, seemingly unbothered by his friend's temper.
"I swore to myself that I would never meddle with the affairs of humans again,'' the green-eyed man whispered brokenly to himself, trying to block the onslaught of nightmarish memories. "I've tried changing things before and that… well, that didn't work out.''
'No, it didn't,' his dark cloaked companion silently agreed. It had been a complete fiasco that had left his heart and world in shambles. It is also the reason his friend had never time-jumped again, preferring not to meddle with time or the human populous in general.
"I can't do nothing," he heard him mumble, and the dark cloaked man had to refrain himself from rolling his eyes.
Well, the world they are bound to is about to be destroyed. Yes, they are going to have to do something about it. If they didn't, it would be a terrible mess to fix.
"We're going back,'' the raven-haired man stated, voice flat and void of any emotion. "I cannot allow this to be the end. There must be a way to prevent this. You said yourself that nothing is set in stone."
"What are your plans?'' he asked him amusedly, shoving away the tortured screams of the passing souls.
"Save the bloody world, what else?''
"When exactly would you like to go?'' he asked curiously, still shoving away the tortured screams of the recently deceased.
"I don't know, could you pinpoint a few moments in history where I could have prevented this mess?'' he asked, gesturing towards the currently burning and crumbling building below them.
"I can only guess,'' his companion shrugged, but a plan was already taking shape in his mind.
Some one hundred and sixty-seven years ago his friend played a prank on him, one he didn't find particularly amusing. The end of the world seems to be the perfect opportunity for him to retaliate. He had always known that his patience would one day be handsomely rewarded.
There are about a few hundred possible time periods which they could go to, but there is one specific time period which his friend would preferably not visit. Thinking about it, he would probably want to skip that century altogether. While it might seem a bit harsh of him, in the end, after his friend has sufficiently suffered, he might finally get to have the happiness that he deserves.
During the heartwarming process of his happily ever after, this whole mess they were currently living in could be prevented, and the world and mother Magic saved.
Truly a win-win scenario.
Hopefully, his friend had learned something over their centuries together, enough not to repeat the same mistakes, and everything would work out as it should be. If it didn't, well if he didn't then at least he would have gotten his revenge. Besides, they could always go back again, maybe a bit further this time, far enough to prevent the existence of humans altogether. Magical and non-magical alike.
"Then give it your best guess. Anywhere is going to be better than here,'' the dark cloaked man heard his friend tell him.
"My utmost best,'' he agreed, trying to conceal his glee. Utmost best, indeed.
"See you at the veil,'' was all the green-eyed man said before he vanished into thin air.
A wicked smirk quickly appeared on the dark cloaked man's handsome face.
They were headed into a particularly exciting couple of decades.
June 23rd, 1941
Ministry of Magic
Harry Potter stumbled out of the of the other side of the veil, just barely able to keep his face from greeting the floor.
"There was no need to push me,'' he grumbled as he straightened out his black silk shirt and emerald cloak. "Wouldn't have taken so long if you had just told me when you were going to send me to.''
As he said this, Harry looked around the familiar room with a foreboding feeling rising in his chest.
He subtly sniffed the air and frowned.
"Did you sniff the air just now?'' his intimidating companion asked in a flat tone, appearing behind him with his dark hood still in place.
Harry ignored him and stepped off the dais and away from the veil, once again sniffing the air.
It smelled like ashes, dirt, pollution, and death.
It stank like the war they had just come from, only less toxic.
"You took me away from one war zone into another war zone?'' he questioned him with complete incredulity because he couldn't possibly have-
"You never specified that it was a time of peace you wanted to travel to,'' his friend shrugged nonchalantly, successfully hiding his devious glee.
"I would assume that since we were fleeing Doomsday , it was bloody well implied! Tell me we didn't land in the middle of Riddle's uprising,'' he pleaded with him, acidic panic already rising within his chest.
"We didn't,'' he said. But before Harry could take in a relieved breath he continued, "not exactly…'' he trailed off mysteriously.
Harry groaned and ran a hand through his hair. "What's that supposed to mean?'' he questioned, irritated by his friend's antics.
"We are not technically during his uprising in the way that you mean," came another cryptic answer.
Instead of asking his companion to clarify and risk another one of those cryptic answers , he mulled over his words a bit , because no one reaches his ancient age without learning to crack a few riddles.
'Not in the way that you mean', he said, which can only translate to 'another one of Riddle's uprisings that you were not thinking of at the time', but he couldn't possibly...
Death is his friend, his comrade, his best mate forever—literally.
He wouldn't do this to him, not after the last time they came back around this time period.
But there was that prank, what was it? One hundred and fifty-something years ago. He's over it, isn't he? He wouldn't think of getting back at him now. Death didn't hold grudges that long.
As soon as he finished that last thought he blinked and was gone.
The next second, he silently appeared in an ally a few blocks away from the Ministry of Magic.
Harry quickly took in his surroundings and immediately felt like crying.
So maybe Death wasn't over it.
He saw a newspaper flying his way and quickly reached out to snatch it. Flipping it around he noticed that it was a pretty clean copy, must have recently flown out of someone's hands.
He searched the corner for a date and cursed. 23rd June 1941. Bugger.
"This is for that prank I pulled on you some hundred and fifty years ago, isn't it?" he asked his friend morosely as his situation started to sink in.
"Hundred sixty-seven if we are going to throw around numbers,'' smirked his very smug companion. At least it sounded like he was smirking. Wretched hood. Bastard.
"We've been here before, Death. I have already tried this and failed, or do you not recall?" he asked in a dangerously calm tone.
His body was rigid as he tried to contain his absolute rage and fear, but his shining emerald eyes gave him away, unable to hide the multitude of emotions that were rising havoc inside him.
"You're older now. You will not repeat the same mistakes as before," he tried to reassure his friend as much as himself.
"Older does not necessarily mean wiser! Especially not when it comes to him and me," he implored his friend to understand. This couldn't end in anything but disaster.
"He's younger this time," Death tried to convince him, but Harry just shook his head.
"He's fourteen! He's already been through every horror imaginable, and committed atrocities no child his age should be capable of. He's already him," Harry insisted.
"He has yet to spill any blood,'' Death reminded him, but Harry just glared and quickly protested.
"You seem to forget that I value each life, however insignificant to you. Creatures have already bled under his hands. Minds have been tortured, and souls seduced,'' he said, trying to make his friend see what a horrible mistake this is.
"You know that he is not yet the devil you paint him to be," Death persisted, growing increasingly irate with his friend. Why did he have to choose someone so stubborn as a companion?
"Why not send me back to when he was a babe? Why not let me try to raise him to be better? Instead, you chose to torture me."
The air around them chilled as Death tried and failed to contain his irritation. "And what of the balance? He might not have committed his crimes in this time, but his soul is tainted by the heinous act of its defiling. Tearing your soul in such a grotesque manner, such magic isn't reversed and ignored, and you know that. He held no remorse, so he had to suffer. Magic demands balance, however grateful she may be for your intervention."
Fearing an oncoming snowstorm, Harry decided not to argue.
"So, I’m to go to Hogwarts." It wasn't a question. He could try and avoid Hogwarts and Riddle all he liked, Death would find a way to shove them together.
"You think that by saving Riddle, I'll save the world." Again, not a question and he agreed. If Riddle had been slightly less unhinged, he might have led the world into greatness. If Riddle wasn't such a psychopathic, treacherous, genocidal, cheating, megalomaniac… Erm, yes, but he was- is.
"It might be a step in the right direction," Death agreed, sounding more joyous than he had in decades.
"Right,'' Harry sighed and slumped against the wall behind him, unbothered by the dirt and grime that covered every inch of the alley he was hidden in.
"If I have to kill him again, it's over. I want them all gone. Each and every single undeserving human on this earth. We'll wipe it clean and start over."
"Sounds like we have a plan B, my friend,'' he readily agreed, already knowing what their next course of action would have to be.
"I can't allow them to hurt her again, she won't survive,'' Harry muttered sadly, kneeling down to place his hand on the ground.
"So you feel it?'' Death asked him, sounding uncharacteristically concerned and sad.
Harry gave him a curt nod and sighed. "She's still in unbearable pain. Mother will need to recuperate her energy, and it's going to take her a long time. Sending us here in the state she was in took a lot out of her."
"The echo will never leave her, but fear not, she will thrive again," he consoled him as best as he could but refrained from patting his shoulder.
"I am undeserving of being her son. Look what I allowed to happen to her," he mumbled, voice full of self-loathing, dragging his nails across the dirt and clenching them into his fist.
"It is not our place to meddle in the choices of men. Every soul must be tested. We are here now, that is all that matters," Death reminded him gently but firmly.
"Am I not here to meddle in the choices of men?" he asked him sarcastically, misdirected venom dripping from his words.
"Yes, you are," he said naturally, ignoring his friend's acidity. "Because we have clearly seen what leaving them to their own devices will lead to. They will need all the help they can get if we are to decide not to obliterate their species."
Harry chuckled humorlessly. "And I am to start with Riddle? Obviously, the easiest person to turn to our side."
"Indeed, we are going to have to start small, and young Riddle is just the perfect place to start."
Harry decided to not say anything at all and just closed his eyes. This was all a very bad dream. He would soon wake up in his comfortable bed and beautiful view atop a mountain, deep in the African continent.
"Don't fret, young Harry,'' Death encouraged, pinching him and therefore ruining his last shred of hope.
He groaned as he rubbed his upper left arm. "Not dreaming then,'' he said as he opened his eyes again.
"We have two months to get your affairs in order after all."
"Priorities, Death. Priorities," he deadpanned. "I'll go ahead and assume that you won't be so kind as to pick another point in history where I can start stopping the world from being burned to ashes? You know, for instance, any point before Riddle's existence."
Death didn't think that he needed to dignify that with an answer. There was a prank. There were female demons involved, and that is all he would add to that.
"Well if that is settled,'' Harry grumbled sarcastically. "Welcome to the 1940s, Potter," he said, waving his right hand dramatically.
"You're going to have to change your name."
"Will you please not start acting like this is my first trip through time! I'll have you know that I was-"
"-only thirteen when I took my first trip into the past. I know. I was witness to the fiasco that was you helping your godfather escape."
"It was not a fiasco," he cried, vehemently defending his early adventures in the wizarding world.
"It could have gone more smoothly,'' teased Death.
"I was thirteen."
"Closer to fourteen, really."
"You mentioned something about getting my affairs in order?"