This blog post contains spoilers for Harry Potter and some stories may be triggering. You have been warned.
Fan fiction stories are a staple of any fandom. They allow fans to re-imagine all the parts of the original work they didn’t like or place their favourite characters in different situations. Sometimes these situations are used so often, and by so many authors, that they become cliché. However, I’m not one to shy away from clichés or over-used tropes. After all, there is a reason they are used so often as to become cliché, right?
One common story theme in the Harry Potter fandom is that of time travel. This theme doesn’t come completely out of the blue. After all, J.K.Rowling herself utilised time-turners in her stories. Unlike time-turners, however, most time travel stories go back much more than a few hours.
When it comes to the world of Harry Potter fan-fiction, time travel stories are amongst my favourites. For the purposes of this list, I am not including stories that simply utilise time-turners, or trunks or rooms with some kind of time distortion. Rather, this is a list of stories where characters (most often, Harry) are either physically sent back in time, sent to a different time period in another dimension, or do-over fics in which their memories and/or soul are sent back to their younger self.
Before I begin the list, there is one story I have not included on this list, but would still like to recommend. The number ten slot was a very close-run thing, and took me quite a while to make a choice. In the end I decided to go with the other story, but I would still like to recommend the one that just missed out, which is the Amulet of Time series by Luna the Moonmonster. It is an incomplete series of five stories, plus one interlude. Unfortunately the fifth story appears to have been abandoned after twelve chapters, as it hasn’t been updated since 2005. The series is definitely well worth reading and I strongly recommend it.
Anyway, without any further fuss, here is my personal top ten list of Harry Potter time travel stories, listed from ten to one:
Voldemort is dead. The war is won. All is well. Except it’s not. At age 27, Harry’s life is not going well. Unhappy, used and abused, an auror raid reveals secrets that prove to be the last straw. In the Travel Secrets series by E4mj, Harry travels back in time looking for a second chance, and burning for revenge.
Travel Secrets is a series of three stories so far, with the third being a WIP.
The Unforgiving Minute
The Unforgiving Minute by Voice of the Nephilim is different from other time travel stories, in that Harry is racing against the clock. Having lost the war, a desperate Harry travels back to the day of the Third Task to destroy Voldemort’s Horcruxes and prevent his resurrection. The catch? He has twelve hours, and the clock is ticking.
The Unforgiving Minute is a complete story with 10 chapters and 84,612 words.
Voldemort is dead. Harry has married his childhood sweetheart, raised a bunch of children, and is surrounded by family and friends. Then the unthinkable happens. They are discovered by the muggles. When Harry finally dies, hunted like an animal, the last magical human on Earth, Death gives him a choice. Return to life, such as it was, go right to hell, or go back and do it all again.
In Xerosis by Batsutousai, a much darker Harry returns to his infant self (the moment he first came into possession of a Hallow), armed with awesome new powers, a loathing of mundanes, and a determination to save the magical world. His solution may seem silly to some, but I found it to be quite intriguing. This story is one of my go-to fics for when I’m feeling tired or unwell. It is a super!Harry story, so best avoided if you don’t like that kind of thing.
Xerosis is a complete story with 11 chapters and 145,018 words.
Oh God Not Again!
Ok, I’ll admit that some elements of Oh God Not Again! by Sarah1281 are silly, but that’s kind of the point. When reading a crack!fic, one ought to expect some silliness. Personally, I find this story hilarious. I love that, after walking through the veil, and finding himself having to relive his life, Harry decides to just let loose and have fun, while still fixing what he can.
Oh God Not Again! is a complete story with 50 chapters and 18,132 words.
One of the things I enjoy about this story is that it isn’t the same old do-over fic in which Harry hooks up with Luna, Ginny, Hermione, Draco, Snape, or some combination thereof; nor is it a ‘travel back to the seventies and hook up with one or more marauders and/or snape’ fic.
While Delenda Est by Lord Silvere does have Harry travel back to the time of the marauders, he is an adult, not a student. He also doesn’t hook up with any of the usual suspects. Instead, he winds up with Bellatrix Black, who has not yet become the insane death eater he is used to but is, rather, a beautiful young woman with a keen intellect and a temper to match.
Delenda Est is a complete story with 46 chapters and 8,199 words.
I haven’t read a lot of stories where people go back in time to either kill or raise Tom Riddle, but there are a few out there. From what I can gather, the character traveling back is generally Harry or Hermione. I’m not saying there aren’t any other stories where Luna travels back, but Doubting Thomas by AzarDarkstar is the first I have personally found. I’m glad I did, though. Find it, that is. As you may have gathered, Luna travels back in time to raise Tom, with unexpected consequences.
Doubting Thomas is a complete one-shot with 4,556 words.
When Voldemort is resurrected, Harry is ready for him. He immediately uses a spell that requires him to sacrifice his very soul, but the spell has an unexpected side-effect. Coexistence by darkcyan is a very different time travel story from what I am used to, and it is well worth reading.
Coexistence is a complete story with 27 chapters and 155,474 words.
Stand Against the Moon
I came across Stand Against the Moon by Batsutousai while searching for a decent werewolf!Harry fic. This is not a cutesy ‘werewolves are people, too’ type story, by the way. It’s more the ‘magical creatures rise up and overthrow humanity’ type fic. Forcibly cursed, used against his will and with a thirst for revenge, Harry accepts Death’s offer of a second chance. This is one of my favourite creature!Harry stories, as well as one of my favourite time travel fics.
Stand Against the Moon is a complete story with 12 chapters and 91,115 words.
Time to Spare
One of the best elements of Time to Spare by EmySabath is the way time loops back around on itself. Voldemort attempts to send Harry a hundred years back in time. However, his plan does not work out as he hoped, and Harry has just been handed the means to become a true thorn in Voldemort’s side.
Harry, and one other, were not sent as far back in time as Voldemort had hoped, and they have taken on new identities that are a lot closer to him than he realises. However, now that time has caught up with itself, he is about to find out.
Time to Spare is a complete story with 41 chapters and 171,869 words.
Again and Again
Groundhog Day is a movie in which a man is forced to live one day over and over again, until certain conditions have been met. Again and Again by Athey utilises a similar concept. Apparently unable to die, or at least, stay dead, Harry is forced to live his life over and over again. Unaware as to the reason he has been ‘cursed’ with such a fate, Harry attempts to do something differently in each life, in the hopes that this time will be the last. The story begins during what Harry believes to be his twelfth life, and he has understandably become quite jaded. Anyone who has spent any amount of time reading my blog will know that Athey is one of my favourite fanfic authors. This is, in my opinion, one of her best stories.
Again and Again is a WIP with 38 chapters and 300,069 words.
Well, that’s it folks. Let me know in the comment section if you agree or disagree with this list, or if you know of a story you think I should read. Also, I have loads more great time travel fics saved, so if you’re after recs, let me know and I’ll send you a whole bunch.