Blood. Metallic and tangy, the smell was so strong that he could taste it. It was permeated into his robes, shoes and every crevice between. Or was it his guilt he could taste? Thick and heavy.
His magic trembled inside of him, even with his wand stashed in his pocket. The use of Sectumsempra had rattled his very bones. There was a bouncing in his stomach that was a mix of fear and...something else.
Echoes of his shoes slapping on the stone floor thundered around him. The book in his hands seemed too heavy. Traitor. What he thought would help him, had destroyed everything. The image of Draco Malfoy’s bloodied face flashed through his mind. His nemesis, slashed from face to his stomach, ripped open by a single spell.
Harry skidded to a stop in front of the blank wall. I need somewhere to hide...I need somewhere to hide…
He could not see Snape like this. His hands were trembling too much, and Snape could rip through his mind and steal the truth.
There was a shimmer before a door materialised. Harry could have sobbed with relief. He grabbed the handle and ran inside, closing it with a slam. He rested his sweaty head on the wooden door, taking in a deep breath to stablise himself.
Harry froze. His back straightened as he turned around, emerald eyes flying open. “Who are you?” he asked.
It was an elderly man with a long but bushy white beard, brown eyes observing him critically. “Headmaster Dippet. Who are you ?”
Harry looked around, seeing he was back in the corridor, not in the Room of Requirement. This was a joke. “Dumbledore is the Headmaster,” he uttered, voice taking on a hoarse note.
The old man made a low hum before raising an eyebrow. “I can assure you that I am the Headmaster. Professor Dumbledore is our Transfiguration teacher. Now, I recognise all of my students, and you are not one of them. How did you get into these walls?”
Harry realised there was a wand pointed at him at hip-level. The movement was so subtle he had not even realised. He allowed his eyes to wander over the man and it felt like cold ice had dripped down his back. It was the same face that stared at him from a portrait in Dumbledore’s office, a different cut of robes that was old-fashioned… He then looked back at the door behind him, to see nothing but a wall.
At Harry’s silence, the wizard continued, “We shall speak in my office.”
To his surprise, Harry was to lead, with Dippet behind with a wand at his back. If Dippet was Headmaster, this meant that this was either some horrifying nightmare or the Room of Requirement had deemed the past somewhere safe. His feet led the way down the corridor. Heart thumping in his chest, he still clutched the Advanced Potion Making book in his arms even though he felt such anger towards the Half-Blood Prince.
During his journey, he tried to string his thoughts together but he could not get the threads to match up. He pinched the skin on his wrist to try and prompt him to wake up, but only received sharp pain in response.
He received a calculating look when he stopped by the gargoyle that protected the Headmaster’s office.
“ Ad meliora .” With the password, the gargoyle stepped aside, allowing Harry to climb the stairs up to the office with the other man behind him. “Please sit.”
Harry sat down on a hard-backed chair, unlike the slightly more comfortable ones of Dumbledore’s office. He shifted, placing his book in his pocket so he could clasp his hands together. The Office was slightly different, with a range of strange silver hangings from the ceiling that looked like the runes Hermione studied and less bookshelves.
Dippet sat behind his desk, one hand coming up to stroke his beard. “From my perspective, a boy appeared in one of Hogwarts hallways in front of my eyes during an afternoon stroll. No one can apparate within these walls apart from the Headmaster. Would you care to explain yourself?”
Harry swallowed. “What year is this, Sir?”
Those brown eyes narrowed. “What year do you think it is?”
“I know this is in the past, so I know it isn’t…” He paused. “My year is 1997, Sir.”
Headmaster Dippet made a low, thoughtful hum. “You claim that Professor Dumbledore is the Headmaster, which was my hope for the future. However, dear boy, I do ask that you reveal no more of the future you claim to be from. How and why you are here is unknown to myself, and you by the look of things. Hogwarts is a place like no other and just as strange things have happened before.”
“I need to get back. People are waiting for me...I have a really important...mission,” Harry uttered, panic seizing him.
“Dear boy, time travel is an unknown quantity. There have been myths over time, but being a Headmaster does not allow you mysterious magic.” Dippet sighed. “How did you manage this? A time turner?”
“The Room of Requirement. I wanted somewhere to...be alone for a while.”
Another hum. “I see. The room is one of lost legends. In the first instance, we should return there to investigate whether we can return you to your time. If that is not possible, we shall have to think of a solution for the time until we can fix this for you.”
Harry closed his eyes and rested back in the chair. One moment he had used dark magic to accidently slice Malfoy, and the next he was thrown back in time. Did Hogwarts hate him? Was it the use of dark magic?
Four hours he had spent investigating the wall with the Headmaster. At first, he was determined, retracing his footsteps and repeating his mantra about wanting a place to hide. Then he changed it, to plead/demand the room to take him back to his actual time period. It took him just over two hours to reduce himself to loud pleading, not caring about the other man’s presence behind him. Luckily, the corridor had been warded to not let anyone else in or observe.
The Headmaster had assisted with spells and with his connection with the castle but nothing. It was as if Hogwarts had turned its back on Harry.
When the windows became darker, a hand had taken his shoulder and led him back through the corridors to the Headmaster’s Office.
That was where he sat once more, morose and staring into the delicate cup of tea in his trembling hands.
“Harry, I believe we must plan for the future as it stands at this moment. Now, from what you have disclosed, you are in your Sixth Year. I think it is best that you resume your studies with us until we can find a way to send you back.” Dippet leaned forward over his desk. “However, I will make you aware that sending you back may be impossible. Then again, you travelling back here is supposed to be impossible.”
“What year is this?” he asked, brain kicking into motion at the words.
“It is October, 1943.”
Harry took in a deep breath. It had been the beginning of May 1997. He was in Riddle’s time. What year would the boy be? Had he already killed by now?
“Now, I have something to request of you,” Dippet said. “You are not to speak of your future time to anyone. You are not to disclose anything that may alter the future in any way. Already your presence may cause some alterations, and if this is permanent then we have no choice. For that, I would like you to practice Occlumency with me each evening this week.”
Harry’s mouth twisted. His previous experience with Snape had been torture. “Yes, Sir.”
Dippet stood up and made his way over to a shelf.
Emerald eyes widened behind glasses as the man removed the Sorting Hat. “I have already-.”
The Headmaster silenced him with a hand. “No more. You will be Sorted, otherwise your name will not register.”
Harry nodded numbly.
“Now, the Potter’s direct relative were the Peverell’s. Your name on the attendee list of Hogwarts will read as Hadrian Peverell. You are an orphan who had been on the run from Grindelwald after trying to recruit your mother, a lost niece of Iloanthe Peverell. You need to flesh out the details and we will work on your story throughout the oncoming weeks. Avoid any talk - you are still coming to terms with the loss of your mother.” Dippet offered the Sorting Hat.
With his trembling hands, he put his now-cold tea on the desk and took the hat. Harry put it on.
“Strange...my first student who has already foreseen the events to come...Hogwarts welcomes you back, Mr Peverell. Before I sort you, know that Hogwarts never turns it back on a student. Your place here was decided by her, to fix...or change...or do nothing - we shall only know with time.”
“Do you know how I can get back?” Harry asked.
Laughter echoed. “Far beyond my powers and knowledge. Now, where to put you…”
“I was in Gryffindor.”
“Hmmm, I can see why.”
“It would probably be easier if I returned there.”
“Strange to see such wonder in a barbaric act.”
Harry choked out a sound at the words. “I didn’t-”
“Loyal, loyal to those that are close to you. Courage… determination...not afraid to take risks. Interesting. Powerful...and overlooked. You need a home. SLYTHERIN.”
“No, no, no,” Harry repeated, almost fighting the Headmaster in his removal of the hat.
Dippet gave him a strange look as he took the hat back to the shelf. “Slytherin, Mr Peverell.”
Harry could only watch in horror as his robes changed to Slytherin green lining and the House insignia appeared on his left chest.
“Now, Mr Peverell, as an orphan, I shall send to your dormitory your relevant books and clothing from our school Hardship Fund. I shall sort out what we will do over the summer holiday, shall it come that we do not manage to send you back. I want you to see this as home.” Headmaster Dippet remained standing, stroking his beard. “Your subjects shall shadow a fellow Slytherin’s, so they can guide you in your gaps. I expect the best from my students. Abraxas Malfoy is a distinguished student who will show you how it is done in their House.”
Malfoy? It could not get worse. Harry’s stomach clenched as he remembered the blood. The blood that was dried on his robes. Had the Headmaster seen it? Dippet had not made any reference. His robes were black so it would hide stains…
“Come along, time for dinner and for you to meet your fellow House.”