A/N: This story was written for the Time-Turner Challenge on SIYE. It won a couple of awards, so I wanted to share it with you. The challenge was to write a story to the prompt "During the Horcrux hunt, Harry finds a Time-Turner that looks like no other and appears to go back in time much longer than a few hours. Your challenge is to write a story telling how Harry finds the Time-Turner and, more importantly, what he does with it."
Friday, 2 January 1998, Peebles, Scotland
Harry glanced across the library table at a well-disguised Hermione as he felt the table shake yet again. She shivered for the third time in as many minutes and pulled on her coat, her short grey hair curling over the collar. He understood how she felt; chilled to the bone and unable to feel warm, even though the room was fairly cosy. They had decided to risk coming into the village because Hermione was running out of ideas for out-of-the-way places to set up the tent.
"I think I've found a place we can stay for a while without being detected," Hermione whispered.
Harry quirked a bushy grey eyebrow at his friend. "Where?" he asked, suddenly interested.
Hermione shoved the atlas she had been looking at across the table and pointed to a small dot on the map of Scotland. "We're here in Peebles," she said, then traced her finger northeast to a region marked Leithenwater Forest. "I think we can successfully camp there for a few days and then move northeast to the Moorfoot Hills for another week," she added as her finger found the hilly region.
Harry studied the map for a few moments and then grinned at Hermione. "I'm game if you are," he said.
She nodded and left the table with the atlas to make a copy of the page on the library's copy machine. When she came back, she was holding another book and looking rather excited. "Harry, you need to see this. The book was open on the floor near the copy machine. Someone must have dropped it. I would have just closed it and re-shelved it, but when I looked to see if any of the pages were bent, I saw this," she whispered, pointing to the name Potter at the bottom of one of the pages. "I think we need to change our plans."
Harry took the book she held open and began to read. His eyes widened. "Does this mean what I think it does?" he asked.
"Yes," she replied, sitting next to him so they could whisper without bothering anyone. "You're listed as the owner of this farm!"
"How can that be? I'm only seventeen and Muggles reach majority at eighteen. Have the publishers of this book made a mistake?" Harry asked.
Hermione checked the copyright date at the front of the annual. "No, they haven't. It was published in October."
Harry nodded and began reading again. "It says here the farm has been owned by absentee land owners for over seventy-five years," Harry murmured as his eyes danced over the entry. "It was purchased in 1865 and occupied into the 1920s by Herry and Amelia Potter. Cameron and Iona Potter owned the farm from 1926 to 1977, followed by James Potter from 1977 to 1981 and now me. But why would my family own a Muggle farm?"
"Maybe someone in your family, this Herry Potter, was a Squib who needed an occupation," Hermione offered. "It makes sense to me. What about you?"
Shrugging, he said, "Your guess is as good as mine." Then, he asked curiously, "Where is it?"
Peering at the miniscule type, Hermione studied the entry and then the portion of the map she'd copied that showed the land around the village of Peebles. "I think it's somewhereÉ hereÉ" she said, pointing.
As she spoke, a voice called from the front of the library, "It is now a quarter to six. The library will be closing in fifteen minutes. If you have books to check out, please come to the front desk now."
Harry shivered and looked at Hermione and then out the window at the steadily falling rain. "You mentioned changing our plans," he said. "Even if we can't get into the house, I'd like to pitch the tent in the farmyard instead of going to the forest first. Is that what you meant?"
She smiled, nodding. "I'll make a copy of this page and then put the book back. We can leave with the other patrons when I'm done."
"Do we need to stop at a green grocer's?" Harry asked, reaching into his coat pocket for his Invisibility Cloak.
"Yes. I'd like to get some leeks and a potato or two for soup," she said. "If I make enough, it'll last for several days. The vegetables are cheaper than spaghetti."
"All right. I think I saw a grocer's across from one of the inns when we first arrived," Harry said. He stood and shoved his chair under the table, then turned to follow Hermione. Minutes later, the two exited the library under the Cloak with several other patrons.
Hermione spent less than five minutes in the grocer's, coming out to where Harry was hidden in an alley with two large bags. "This should last us several days," she said, cramming her purchase into her beaded bag. "You ready?"
Harry opened the Cloak and she slipped under it. On her count, they Disapparated, reappearing in a rainy and windswept farmyard located in a small valley surrounded on all four sides by rolling hills. Harry pulled off the Cloak and the two stood gazing in wonder at the scene before them.
The farmhouse was a small, two-storey affair built of brick with a clay tile roof the same colour as the brick. Having expected a detached barn, Harry was surprised to discover that the barn was actually an extension of the house. Beyond the farmyard, the land rose abruptly. The hills were towered over them blackly and the only road was a dirt track that led out of the farmyard and down the little valley where it disappeared between the hills.
"It's beautiful here," Hermione breathed, taking in the wild hilliness of the landscape. "I can see why your ancestors chose to farm here, Harry."
"I wonder what kind of farming they did," he said absently, still gazing at the house. "I don't see how they could raise crops on these hills."
"This region is known for its sheep, cattle and goat farms," Hermione said. She turned in a slow circle, then pointed through the storm towards one of the hills. "I can just make out a fence line and there's a big building at the top of that hill."
Harry turned his attention to the house. "I want to see if we can get in. I'm getting soaked and I don't relish pitching the tent in this mud."
He strode over to the front door of the house and cast a few detection spells. There appeared to be no magical deterrents cast upon the structure, so he tapped the doorknob with his wand and smiled when the lock clicked. "It's open, Hermione. Let's see what's inside."
Unlike Grimmauld Place, the Potter farmhouse had a warm, inviting look to it. Although the interior was just as cold as the exterior, just the fact that the sitting room was filled with furniture covered in dust cloths made it seem a bit warmer. Harry lifted the corner of a sheet covering a settee and discovered it was still in good condition. Dropping the sheet, he began examining the other pieces of furniture, which seemed to have been purchased sometime after the turn of the last century.
By now, Hermione had wandered into the kitchen and as he ran a finger over the titles of the books occupying the built-in bookshelves that occupied one wall, he now heard her exclaim, "Mrs Weasley would love this kitchen!" He hastened to see what she was so excited about.
It was as if he'd stepped into The Burrow's kitchen. The large, rustic room oozed the warmth of many meals lovingly prepared, of long winter nights spent sitting at the hearth reminiscing and telling family stories. Even the old, dusty teapot sitting in the middle of the long worktable exuded the same closeness Harry felt every time he walked into Mrs Weasley's kitchen. If he had to put a name on what he was feeling, he'd call it family.
Suddenly overcome with emotion, Harry looked over at Hermione and said tightly, "I'm going upstairs."
She nodded, sensing his mood, and let him go. What he found was three sparsely furnished bedrooms and an airing cupboard that had been turned into a tiny bathroom. Curious, he turned on the sink faucet. Nothing happened. Then, with a monumental banging of the old pipes, a stream of very rusty water suddenly gushed out of the tap, drenching the front of Harry's coat. He quickly shut off the tap and scoured his coat before drying it. Even so, a faint rusty stain was left on his stomach.
"Harry, are you all right?" Hermione called from below.
"Yeah, yeah, I did something stupid," he assured her. "I'm coming down. There's nothing remarkable about the rooms up here except three real beds." He descended the stairs to find her waiting for him. "What would you say to sleeping upstairs instead of in the tent?"
"That sounds heavenly," she sighed, peering closer at his coat. "What did you do?"
Pointing to the stain, he said sheepishly, "My cleaning charms aren't as good as yours. Would you fix me?"
Laughing, Hermione obliged and then suggested they go out to the barn. The long room was subdivided by rows of stalls and smelled of mouldy hay and dust. Despite the cold, wet weather, Harry wanted to throw open a door and let in the fresh air as the sentimental feeling swept over him again. Hermione came up to him and stood close to him. Her support helped organize his thoughts.
"It's all right to be sentimental," she said. "If you truly own this farm, then you have every right to know about the people who lived here, even if the last time it was occupied was in the distant past. Maybe, if we look hard enough, we'll find something useful."
Brightening at her suggestion, Harry asked, "Should I see about starting a fire?"
Hermione smiled up at him. "That sounds like a great idea, Harry."
An hour later, free from their disguises and sated from a meal of potato and leek soup, tea and a loaf of crusty bread, Harry wandered back into the sitting room, carrying an old oil lamp he'd found in the kitchen. The magical fire he'd managed to build in the kitchen fireplace had warmed the air in this room as well and he was eager to continue his inspection of the house. He had no idea what he was looking for, but the urge to poke his nose into every cupboard and bookcase was too strong not to heed it.
He started with the bookcase, standing on a small foot stool to see the titles of the books on the top shelf. There was an ancient atlas and several books of poetry, and what looked like a collection of children's school books. The next shelf down held several ancient ledgers, the oldest dated 1854. The last ledger on the shelf bore the year 1926. Harry pulled this one down and opened it to a random page. Someone had made careful entries in spidery writing, noting purchases and expenditures, income and other important information pertaining to the running of a sheep farm. As much as the ledger interested him, Harry put it back and continued his perusal of the bookcase.
The next shelf, the one at eye level, contained almanacs, several leather-bound books entitled The Farmer's Journal,a few farming magazines, six sheep husbandry references and two books of Shakespeare plays. Thinking the books of plays belonged on the top shelf, Harry pulled one out and nearly dropped it because the two books were stuck together. Also, instead of the heavy tome he was expecting, the book was exceptionally light for its size. Curious, he opened it only to discover that the pages had been glued together and the middle hollowed out to form a sort of box. Harry gasped at what lay inside nestled snuggly in some old cotton wool: an ancient Time-Turner. With a shaking hand, he pulled the Time-Turner from its resting place and held it up to the light to examine it closer.
The Time-Turner was much different from the one Hermione had used back in third year. That one had been a simple silver hourglass. This one was larger and was made of gold. It was much more detailed, too, with a dial on each end and two protective rings that made it look like a tiny Muggle gyroscope. Harry watched it swing back and forth in front of his face and an idea began forming in his head.
It just might work, he thought as he gently returned the instrument to its resting place. All I have to do now is figure out how this particular Time-Turner works.
Harry closed the book and slid it back into its space. For now, he decided, he would keep his discovery to himself. He knew Hermione would object to his messing with it, especially since it had been concealed in a Muggle farm. The lack of protective spells told Harry that the person who concealed the Time-Turner in the book had been confident enough to believe that his or her hiding place would not seem out of place. Either that, or the person was incredibly na•ve as to the value of the instrument.
With a sigh, Harry returned to the kitchen and a quiet night in Hermione's company.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into Harry's past. I chose this subject for the challenge because I think knowing where you come from gives you a sense of belonging. I look forward to reading your comments.
Many thanks to my beta, Aggiebell, for the help she has given me in posting this story here at PS.