A/N: This is a One Shot that's been floating around in my head for awhile. Thought I might write it down as a way to motivate myself to get back into writing my main story.
Harry groggily opened his eyes and began to stretch his aged limbs. Today was Sunday and that meant the grand kids were visiting. Maybe he should make some pancakes. 'I might have to send Dobby out for some eggs though. Hope he doesn't mind. Poor fellow just can't move the way he used to' he thought.
That's when Harry noticed something was wrong.
Scratch that. Everything was wrong.
Why was he sleeping on the floor? Where was his bed? Where was his wife? Where was his room? Where the hell is he? AND WHY WAS HIS BODY SUDDENLY 70 YEARS YOUNGER?
Harry rubbed his eyes in an effort to wipe away the last vestiges of sleep and wake himself up entirely before taking a good look around the room. It was dimly lit and all the walls seemed to made of some type of metal. Though not any material Harry recognized if the subtle green glow it seemed to naturally give off was anything to go by.
Harry stood up and squinted as he tried to spot the ceiling. This humongous cavern of a room seemed to stretch forever in the upwards direction. Admittedly though it could just be a trick caused by the poor lighting.
"Ah. Finally awake again? Welcome back Mr. Potter. I'll be with you in a moment." said a familiar voice from behind him.
Harry swiveled around and immediately tried to summon his wand from the inside of his sleeve only to find that there was no response from his inner magic.
That certainly wasn't good.
Deciding not to panic just yet Harry looked at the other person in the room. The mysterious man sat in a chair with his back facing Harry while he typed at an incredible speed on some sort of a keyboard. He seemed entirely focused on the five large monitors that made up his workspace.
For several seconds Harry stood in silence. Listening to nothing but the sound of clicks on a keyboard. Just as he was about to yell a question at the man the figure spun around in his chair and faced Harry.
"Alright then Mr. Potter. Everything has been cataloged now. I'll look at the details later. We have some time to talk while it all gets saved to the backups. What would you like to know?" The pale faced red headed man asked.
All of the questions Harry was ready to demand answers to seemed to die on his tongue as he looked in the face of a man he knew to be dead.
"H-How are you alive?" Harry managed to stutter out.
The man smirked slightly and gave a single chuckle in amusement. "Well that's pretty rare for your first question. Tell me Harry, who do you think I am?"
"You're Arthur Weasley...Aren't you?" Harry answered choosing to ignore the mans initial comment.
"Afraid not Mr. Potter. The powers at be force you to view me in the form of someone that you implicitly trust. It helps make this brief transition period a little bit easier."
"Well who are you then?" Harry asked with a bit of trepidation in his voice. He didn't like where this seemed to be going.
"Oh my name is quite long and quite impossible for mortals such as yourself to pronounce. Why don't you just keep calling me Arthur? Makes things simpler. We still have a couple minutes before it all begins again so go ahead and give me your next question."
"Am I dead?" Harry sighed with resignation.
"One would think I'd be able to answer that with a simple Yes or No but I'm afraid it's not quite so simple. Yes technically you passed away in your sleep last night from natural causes. Don't feel bad though. Getting to be 92 years old is pretty good for your track record. Although sometimes you do go for much longer. I heard from one of my predecessors that a couple times you reached immortality and he had to go up the chain of command in order to rectify the situation. Personally I'm glad I haven't had to deal with that yet. But to get back on track. No you are not dead. This is not the afterlife."
Now Harry was more confused then ever. He tried to form another question but he had so many that he literally couldn't pick one to go first.
"Allow me to interject Mr. Potter. I can see the inner turmoil and confusion on your face. Are you wondering why you are here?" Arthur offered.
Harry dumbly shook his head in the affirmative.
"To put it simply Harry you are….Odd. Not just a little odd either. We're talking odd on a cosmic scale. Some of the rules seem not to apply to your existence and we are striving to understand why. Tell me Harry did you ever use a device on your world known as a Time Turner?"
"Yes…. my friend Hermione had one in her third year at school." Harry answered slowly.
"Then you are aware that time cannot be changed. It is a straight line. One may be able to hop backward or forward on the line in the right conditions but you cannot change its course. What happened initially will always happen and nothing anyone does can change that. Correct?"
"For reasons we are still exploring that doesn't seem to apply to you. If we selected a mortal besides yourself, rewound time, and let his life play out again then everything would stay the same. He will live the same life, make the same mistakes, achieve the same things and finally die the same way. But as I said before; these rules don't seem to apply to you. Every time you die we remove you from the time stream, briefly bring you here, and then send you back to the date you know as Oct. 31, 1981 and then...to our much ire and curiosity... your life ends up going differently. It's actually quite good you didn't try to change anything during your time turner adventure. You probably would have succeeded. Are you with me so far?"
"I...err...are you saying I've lived several different lives? How many times have you sent me back? Wait, before that how did you guys find out this about me in the first place?"
"I'm afraid I don't know the initial incident that caused this project to begin. I'm actually the fifth one to hold this job. Someone new gets put in charge every 100,000 cycles. The life you just finished living was number 433,712 in our experiment. Unfortunately it awarded us no new clues as to why you are different. Which is typical actually. We usually only pick up a new hint every 35,000 or so permutations. It's a good thing we're a patient bunch isn't it?"
"So you're going to send me back again? Just wipe out everything I've done? My life? My childrens lives? How is that fair to me?" Harry asked with agitation and a wrinkle in his brow. The idea of his entire lifetime being erased as part of a divine science experiment rubbed him wrong in more ways then one.
"Sorry old chap. You don't have a choice in the matter. We're the ones running the show here. You'll get over it. In a little while you won't remember this conversation anyway. I know! How about we take a look at the results of other lives you've lived. That's always fun." Arthur said as he turned back around to his workstation. "Tell me Harry who was your spouse this time around?"
Harry blinked in surprise. Even that changed? I guess it's not that surprising if he had lived close to half a million times. "I'm married to Ginny Weasley." he answered.
"Young Ginevra again? Was it with or without love potion this time?" Arthur asked with a curious look.
"Wha- love potion?" Harry stammered.
"Actually. Hold on. You wouldn't know either way. I'll just check really quick." Arthur typed something into his keyboard and scanned one of his monitors for the pertinent information. "Hmm. No love potion this time. Congrats Mr. Potter. You two really loved each other. I'll add it to the tally."
"There's a tally for that?" Harry asked incredulously. "Why would you guys care about who I eventually married?"
"Believe it or not Mr. Potter it's actually the one thing that varies the most among your various lifetimes. Its something we can rarely accurately predict ahead of time. Would you like to hear the statistics?"
"Umm sure I guess. Is my wife who I end up with the most?"
"Not even close." replied Arthur as he snatched a freshly printed sheet from a machine to the left of his chair. "Let's see...in 96.8% of your lifetimes you were male and heterosexual. Of those lifetimes where you were married or had a primary romantic partner we have Hermione Granger at 31.2%, Ginevra Weasley with love potion at 15.3%, Luna Lovegood at 11.7%, Ginevra Weasley without love potion at 9.1%, various harem combinations at 6.4%, Daphne Greengrass at 5.9%, and so on and so worth. There's plenty more small items to list that make up the final 20%. I'm sad to say there isn't time to go through them all though. It realy is a shame. Some of them get really weeeeeird."
As interesting and...unusual...as all this was to hear there was a part near the beginning that was nagging the back of Harry's brain. "Back up for a moment. You said I was male and heterosexual only most of the time. Does that mean that sometimes I was female?" Harry inquired.
"Yes. That or you were gay or asexual."
"But that doesn't make any sense! You said earlier that you always reset my life to Oct. 31, 1981. The night which Voldemort killed my parents. That means I was already fifteen months old. My gender would be the same every time!"
"Hmmm well normally you'd be right but once again you have to remember the rules don't apply to you." Arthur answered with a look of trying to be helpful. "Sometimes when we reset you other things get changed that frankly should not be affected. It's part of the reason we're studying you in the first place."
"You're saying that sometimes I just randomly become female? And you guys have no idea why?"
"As I alluded to earlier we have SOME idea as to why. Just not the whole idea. Honestly you turning female or gay is not the weirdest changes that sometimes happen. It's a pretty superficial difference."
"Well what would you consider a significant change if not that?" Harry asked with exasperation.
"For starters in .04% of your lives the Dursleys are perfectly pleasant folks and all around just a delight to be around."
".04%? 1/25 of a single percent? They're just that ingrained into being bastards aren't they?"
"There's actually a sizable percentage where they are more neutral than anything else but typically yes they are rather unpleasant when it comes to you. As I was saying though there are a number of other oddities that can occur. I've seen you have more animagus forms then I can count. Sometimes Tom Riddle isn't a complete sadist. Occasionally Albus Dumbledore isn't a manipulative chessmaster who won't stop sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. There's also the times where your schoolmate Ron..."
"Stop stop. I get the idea." Interrupted Harry as he ran a hand through his hair. "Is there any actual constants with my life or is really just all random? Ignoring certain trends."
For a change Arthur actually looked rather contemplative. "A true constant? Well….hmm let me think...I don't think we've ever encountered a time where Sirius Black was actually evil. There's plenty of cases where the two of you didn't see eye to eye on a number of issues but he's always your ally at the end of the day. I don't think we can say that about a single other person in your life. It's actually really damn impressive."
Harry let a smile sneak onto his face. So even in the odds of ever changing reality warping events his godfather always had his back? It's a thought that you can't help but feel great about.
A loud but brief bell sounded from one of the monitors on Arthurs work station causing the red head to begin laughing softly. "Well it looks like all the data has been saved. Are you ready for your next life Mr. Potter?"
Harry sighed. "Do I have a choice in the matter?"
"No not really." Arthur replied looking apologetic.
"Let me just ask this then. Eventually you and whoever you're working with are going to figure this out and you'll be done with me. What happens then? Is there an afterlife? Will I see my loved ones and If so which versions of them? Are all the various people I've apparently lived with in 400,000 lifetimes just truly gone forever?"
"I'm afraid I don't have enough time to answer those Harry. You're going to disappear in about 12 seconds. Just know that you don't have to worry. When this is all over we'll do right by you and you'll get something no mortal has ever gotten before. So long...and good luck with life number 433,713."
Harry looked a little miffed and was about to retort when he suddenly poofed out of existence leaving Arthur alone in the room.
Arthur casually turned back to his workstation and examined the primary monitor which played a video of Voldemort entering the Potter residence.
'Oh? James gets to live but not Lily? I don't think I've seen that before. I'll have to check the archives.' he mused to himself.