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The cost of time travel

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Summary: In most time travel/redo fics, the characters come from an apocalyptic future. I've always wanted to see one where the character actually loses something by going back, how would they deal with the grief? Ron finds out.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Harry Potter > Non-BtVS/AtS StoriesangrymonkeyFR15730,5214339,11315 Apr 119 May 12No

Arrival

I own none of these characters, I am making no money off them.

Author's Notes: Been a while since I posted on this site, sorry:( This is a story I've wanted to write for some time. In most time travel/redo fics, the characters come from an apocalyptic future where the world has gone to hell. I've always wanted to write one where the character actually lost something by going back, how would they deal with the grief?
General question for readers: Why is Xander such a popular fanfiction character while Ron is relatively despised? I'm genuinely curious, they've always seemed very similar to me. Apart from Crowe's “Mein Teil” I haven't come across any Ron centric time travel fics.








Chapter 1

Dumbledore's head bobbed forward, sleep attempting to claim him once again. He roused himself, there was still much to do before he could retire for the night. This term was turning out to be far more trying than he had expected. He had known the Triwizard Cup would take a significant amount of time and effort to organize, however it seemed like every minute brought a new emergency.

Parents complaining about Moody's teaching style, the centaurs complaining about humans trespassing in their forest, the other headmasters complaining about Harry's participation in the tournament. Dumbledore sighed, that was most definitely his greatest source of concern at the moment.

There was little doubt that someone had gone to considerable effort to get Harry to participate, but why? True, the challenges were dangerous, but there were dozens of medi-witches and wizards on hand. With the number of precautions being taken, the tournament should not have been more dangerous than a Griffindor-Slytherin quidditch match. If the goal were to kill Harry then the tournament was a poor way of doing so.

Perhaps the mystery person who had entered Harry's name wanted to humiliate and isolate the boy. Perhaps pushing him to be swayed by darker influences. Dumbledore shook his head, that was not likely. While Harry did seem unhappy since his entry, there was no chance of it turning him to the dark ways. Dumbledore knew that Harry's character was stronger than that.

Still it troubled him to see Harry so alone. The boy relied on the bonds of friendship he had formed with Hermione and Ronald. The severing of one of those legs of support was most definitely taking a toll on him. From what Dumbledore had gathered, the rift had arisen due to Ronald's insecurities. While understandable, jealousy could be very dangerous and cause problems if left unresolved.

How easy had it been for Voldemort to play on Peter's fears and insecurities, turning him from a friend into a devoted spy? Dumbledore chased the thought away, Ronald Weasley was no Peter Pettigrew.

Nevertheless, if Voldemort returned and Ronald followed Harry into the fight. A rift brought out by the stress and fear of the war could be devastating. Dumbledore smiled, the Weasley's were a fiery bunch, a personality trait inherited from their mother. Ron may be angry now, but he was loyal. Dumbledore knew it was only a matter of time before the boys made up.

A chiming filled the office, startling Dumbledore from his thoughts. Curious about who would come to see him at nearly one in the morning, he tapped his wand on the desk. A ghostly image of Ronald standing in front of the office gargoyle appeared. 'What a coincidence,' thought the headmaster. Ronald was wearing his nightclothes and shuffling from foot to foot. He looked very nervous.

Dumbledore flicked his hand, releasing the statue. As the ghostly imaged of Ron faded, Dumbledore saw him sprint past the gargoyle before it had even stopped moving. Dumbledore put his wand away and steepled his fingers, waiting for the boy.

Ron burst through the office door , but froze when he saw the headmaster sitting at his desk. His eyes were wide, his face pale. “Bloody hell, you're really alive.”

Not quite sure what to make of the strange greeting, Dumbledore smiled and nodded, “Indeed, and I am glad to see the same applies to you. May I ask why you are out after curfew.”

Ron ignored the question. Instead he shook his head and began pacing. “This can't be real, this doesn't make any sense. First Harry now you.” Dumbledore tensed at the mention of Harry, but also at Ron's behaviour. He was clearly very agitated.

With a thought, Dumbledore filled the office with a simple calming charm. Ron's pacing slowed and he stopped talking to himself. When the boy was sufficiently calm, Dumbledore asked, “What is the matter Mr Weasley?”

Ron turned to face Dumbledore, he appeared to be in shock. When he spoke it was as though he couldn't believe his own words. “I think I'm in the bloody past.”

Dumbledore felt a pang of disappointment. Of all the students at Hogwarts, Ron was one of the few who knew better than to play with a time turner. For that matter, where had the boy even found one? The only authorized time turner on the grounds was in the hands of a sixth year Ravenclaw. Still, the surprise he had expressed at seeing Dumbledore alive was of greater concern, almost as much as the mention of Harry. Time turners were tricky little devices, actually changing anything that happened was nearly impossible. Dumbledore's mind began running through many different scenarios. Had someone attacked Harry in the near future, causing Ron to travel back? If time travel was involved the situation would need to be handled very carefully. However, first things first. “Do you know where the other Ronald Weasley is?”

Ron stared at Dumbledore, confused. “What do you mean? What other Ron?”

That did not make sense. Ron was behaving very erratically. Perhaps rather than time travel, he had run afoul of some form of Confundus curse? In a soothing tone Dumbledore asked, “Why do you believe you are in the past?”

“Look at me!” Ron exclaimed. Dumbledore quirked an eyebrow and Ron continued, “Right, sorry. You think I supposed to be like this.” He shook his head, “Merlin this is confusing. Ten minutes ago I was thirty four years old, not thirteen!”

Dumbledore relaxed, a small smile returning to his face. A Confundus curse was sounding more and more plausible. Travelling twenty years back in time had been proven to be arithmetically impossible. Madame Pomfrey would have Ronald's mind mended in a couple of days. In a calming tone that one would use around a frightened animal Dumbledore said, “I believe you are actually fourteen years of age Ronald.”

Ron sighed, “You don't believe me.” He appeared exhausted. “I'll prove it to you, but can you give us some privacy?”

Dumbledore hesitated, uncertain. Even though the story was ludicrous, Ron obviously believed it. Dumbledore had to admit that Ron looked different. There was a tightness around the eyes, and a jumpiness about him that reminded the headmaster more of Harry than of the Weasleys' youngest son.

Dumbledore took out his wand and quickly cast a series of privacy spells. To anyone looking into the office it would appear empty. Even the portraits would be unable to tell what was being discussed. “How can you be certain that you are in the past?”

Ron nodded and took a bracing breath. “What year am I in? Has Riddle come back yet?”

Dumbledore showed no emotional reaction to the mention of Voldemort. “It is your fourth year, and as far as I am aware Voldemort is still in Albania without a true body.”

Ron closed his eyes and seemed to be searching his memory, “This is the year Harry was in the Triwizard competition, right?” Dumbledore nodded and Ron continued, “He's not back yet.” Realization spread across Ron's face. “Bloody hell.” He let out a breath and stared at Dumbledore incredulously. “We can keep him from coming back.”

There was no doubt that Ron believed what he was saying, unfortunately that didn't make it true. “Slow down Ronald, you have yet to give me any proof of your claim.”

Ron nodded, “Yeah, yeah sorry.” He was practically bouncing in excitement. “There's a prophecy that says neither can live while the other survives. Riddle has a bunch of Horcruxes keeping him alive. What else?” Ron trailed off for a moment, “Oh, Snape's in love with Lily Potter, that's why he became a spy.” Again Ron paused before adding, “Your took the Elder wand from Grindelwald.”

Dumbledore felt off balance, it wasn't often that he was truly taken by surprise. The last part of the prophecy was a closely guarded secret, not even Snape knew the complete version. Most important, however was the knowledge of the Horcruxes. Dumbledore had long suspected they were the key to Voldemort's pseudo immortality. However, he had not found a way of determining how many existed, or what objects had been used to create them.

Dumbledore leaned forward in his chair. “Tell me everything.”

Ron shrunk back from the sudden intensity of Dumbledore's gaze. He hesitated, “Where should I start?”

Dumbledore desperately wanted to know about the Horcruxes, but he realized he needed to understand what Ronald was doing here. “Do you know how you arrived in this time.”

Ron shrugged, “Sort of. We were on a mission for the order.” He paused, “Well, Hermione was on a mission, I tagged along because I couldn't just sit around with her out there.” Ron shook his head, “No let me back up a bit.”

“Riddle won.” Dumbledore's stomach dropped but Ron continued. “Harry let Riddle kill him in order to destroy the Horcrux inside him. After that, Riddle came to slaughter the school. During the fight his last Horcrux, Nagini, was killed by Neville, but it didn't help. Harry's sacrifice protected us from Riddle's magic, but not from the Death Eaters'.” Ron shuddered, “They tore us apart. Some of us died, some of us surrendered, and some of us ran off.” There was a pause as Ron collected his thoughts, “We tried fighting him, but even without his immortality Riddle had control of Britain. The magical parts anyway.”

“We did what we could. We smuggled the muggle-born out of the country, we took out Death Eaters, but it was a losing battle. A little after I turned twenty five Hermione and I had to leave. We...” Ron cut himself off, changing his mind about what he was going to say. Dumbledore was familiar enough with grief to recognize its shadow flit across Ron's face. He wondered what could have happened that was bad enough to haunt the man for almost a decade.

“We moved to France to be near Bill and Fleur.” Some of the tension in Ron's face eased. “We were actually able to start a family. We have a daughter,” he smiled, “named her Harriet.” The grief that had been on Ron's face a moment ago faded, replaced with a softness. “She's as bright as her mum. Been reading since she was four.” His smile faded. “Mione's been working as a curse breaker, apprenticed under Bill. That's why the Order needed her. Only reason they let me tag along on the mission was because I'm an EMW (emergency medi-wizard). All that first aid we learned in the war ended up being dead useful.”

He sighed, “About a month ago we got a message from George. He said Riddle was planning something and they needed Hermione's help. I tried to keep her from going, but you know Hermione, can't keep her out of a fight. We left Harry with Fleur and headed back to England.”

“Turned out that without his Horcruxes, Riddle was ageing fast.” Ron laughed, “He didn't look much better off than a dementor. The Order didn't know what he was up to, only that he hadn't left the Death room at the ministry for months. He kept having people brought in, no one was leaving.”

Ron's face became very grave, “We got in without setting off any alarms. A few ministry workers saw us, but they didn't put up much of a fight. Even the people who supported Riddle were scared of what he was doing. Hermione made it through the wards really quickly. The room was full of bodies.” Ron shuddered, “I've never seen anything like it. There were hundreds of them, maybe thousands. If he wasn't already insane I would have thought Riddle had gone mad. The archway was covered in markings. I think they were painted in blood. Riddle was standing in front of it chanting. There was a whip of flame coming out of his wand, it looked like he was hitting the veil. It sounded,” Ron shuddered again, his face paling at the memory, “It sounded like they were screaming.” Ron didn't need to clarify whom he had heard. Those who had witnessed death could hear their whispers when standing near the veil, though to hear them scream... Dumbledore suppressed a shudder of his own. “He didn't even turn to face us, he just started chanting faster.”

“There were six Death Eaters there, and four of us. While we were fighting, Riddle finished his spell. The blast took us all off our feet, even Riddle. When I got up I saw him crawling towards the veil. Hermione screamed that we couldn't let him go through the curtain. I was closest, I managed to tackled him. We rolled down the steps away from the archway.”

Ron shook his head. “I've never seen anyone that desperate. He couldn't have weighted more than seven stone, but he was bloody vicious.” Ron absently rubbed his hand against his left eye. “He jabbed one of this fingers in my eye but I managed to kick him off me and stand up. I didn't see it coming.” Ron paused, “I think it was Bellatrix. I was hit in the chest with some kind of bludgeoning hex. It threw me into one of the pillars of the archway. I was losing consciousness, but I think I fell through.”

“Next thing I knew I was in the dorm, Harry was in the bed next to me, alive.” Ron gave a short laugh, “He looked at me like I was barmy when I shook him awake and hugged him.”

Dumbledore watched Ron gravely. He knew a significant amount about the theory behind time travel. The ritual Ron described was foreign to him, and the gateway was poorly understood at best. Though a theory was forming.

From his research into the Deathly Hallows Dumbledore knew that time could move at a different rate for the dead. Had Voldemort managed to warp and pervert even the ancient magic of the veil in a mad attempt to turn back the clock and stay alive? Even as Dumbledore contemplated the idea he could see its terrible potential. Killing person after person and using runes to tie their souls to the veil like mules. Using words and wand to drive them away. Dragging the gateway with them as they fled from him, not though space, but through time. As distasteful as that magic was, Dumbledore knew that he would have to examine Ronald's memory in a pensive to confirm his theory.

“I believe your actions may have saved more lives than you realize.” And cost you more, Dumbledore added silently. While the thought of Tom making his way back in time was terrifying, Dumbledore wondered if Ron realized what he had lost in the process of preventing it.

“Won't Riddle just follow me?” Ron was suddenly tense and alert, “Putain,” he swore in French, “we've been wasting time, we need to get to the Horcruxes before he can move them!”

Dumbledore raised his hand to stop Ron. “I do not believe we are in danger of Voldemort following you here.”

“Why? How can you know? He wasn't more than ten feet from the curtain when I fell through.”

With a heavy heart Dumbledore spoke, “While I cannot be certain, I believe that the moment you passed through the gateway and arrived here, the future you came from ceased to exist. Voldemort cannot follow because those events have not, and may never come to pass.”

Ron understood the consequences very quickly. “Harry.” The word was little more than a whisper.

When Dumbledore spoke it was with nothing but compassion, “I am sorry Ron, I do not believe the life you had with Hermione exists anymore.”

Ron shook his head faintly, “No.”

Dumbledore stood and made his way around the desk to the lost time traveller. He placed a hand on his shoulder. “I am sorry Ronald, I wish I had some other answer for you.”

Ron didn't cry, not right away. Instead he seized on Dumbledore's wording, “You said you didn't think, does that mean you're not certain?” He clung to that small hope, a ledge that kept him from falling into an abyss.

“I am sorry, two time lines cannot exist on top of one another. Time turners may bend this rule, but they do not break it. The universe mends the paradoxes by only allowing one reality to exist.” Dumbledore could see that Ron did not understand and simplified, “Do you recall being possessed by your future self in your fourth year?” Ron shook his head. “Then I am afraid it is highly unlikely you made this journey to the past in your time-line. The universe cannot make sense of two times; by travelling backward, the future has, in effect, become unwritten.”

Ron began to panic, “What if you Obliviate me? Couldn't that make everything work out like it did with Harriett and Hermione?”

Dumbledore sighed, he could be manipulative at times, however he did not like to play god. “How many people will die in the coming years due to Voldemort's return? Can you truly ask me to sacrifice them for your daughter's life.”

Ron looked like he had been punched in the gut. “You're a right bastard. You know that?” he whispered.

Dumbledore nodded, “I have been called that and worse. I am truly sorry Ronald. There are times that we must make the choice between what is right and what is easy.”

Ron laughed, the crack in his voice hurt Dumbledore's ears like nails on a chalkboard. “Says the man who got himself killed trying to talk to his dead sister.”

Dumbledore could not meet Ron's glare. The jab had struck an ever present wound the old man carried. What foolish thing had he done in Ron's past in a quest to seek Ariana's forgiveness? Instead of defending himself Dumbledore replied, “It is far simpler to ask someone to make a sacrifice than to do it oneself.” His voice was soft.

Ron looked at him with blank disbelief. Without saying a word he turned on his heel and marched to the window. His entire demeanour was rigid, contained. He rested his palms on the sill, head bowed. Dumbledore could just make out the tremors as the boy's shoulders began to shake. Dumbledore resisted the urge to approach and offer comfort.

After a moment of tense silence Ron collected himself. It appeared as though he was about to turn back to Dumbledore. In a sudden explosion of violence, he struck the window repeatedly with his balled fist. On the fourth strike he managed to knock out one of the shattered panes from its lead lining. Seemingly satisfied by the destruction he pulled his hand out of the broken glass. He turned to face the headmaster, ignoring the damage. His eyes were tear stained but also manic.

“We make a deal. I help you fight Voldemort, you find a way of getting my wife and daughter back.”

“Ronald, you know that I cannot promise...”

Ron cut him off. “No. That's the deal. I give you my information, you give me my family.”

While Dumbledore was not above lying for the greater good, he would not stoop to that here. “I can only promise that I will try. However I must be completely clear, I do not believe it is possible to retrieve your daughter or your wife from a future that will never exist.”

Ron ran his uninjured hand through his hair. He seemed quite defeated as he said, “I can't really ask for anything more.” He nodded towards Dumbledore's desk, “Let's get to work. There are things we need to do before tomorrow.”

“I shall call Poppy to look at you hand.” Dumbledore said, glancing at Ronald's arm as it dripped blood onto the stone floor.

“Don't wake her, medi-wizard, remember?” He took his wand out and quickly performed three spells, one to numb the pain, a second to pull out the glass, and a third to close the wounds. The injuries weren't healed, but the spell was holding the edges together more effectively than muggle stitches. It would heal in a fraction of the time. Dumbledore went back to his chair and Ron sat across from him. “I could use a couple of pepper ups and some fire whiskey. Feels like I haven't slept in days.” Dumbledore nodded and rang a house elf to bring Ron the stimulant and relaxant. They had much to discuss before either could sleep.
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