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I love the Harry Potter books, but this was one aspect that bugs the bageebers out of me.  I hate predestination in novels because I feel like it cheats the characters by negating their free will.  How is this related to Harry Potter?  Because of the scene at the lake in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, time is a solid, unalterable line.  Unlike in other scenarios where the person goes back in time to alter events, in Harry Potter, if it was possible to alter an event, you would have done so already, thus making your decisions irrelevant.  If this is going to ruin Harry Potter for you, please stop reading.

The first time I reread the novel, I wondered why Hermione wouldn’t have gone back to correct missing her charms lesson, but because everything is happening on a single timeline, she can’t rewrite the past because she would have done so already.  If you’ve read the book, you know Harry and Hermione were able to be in two places at once when they used the time turner to travel back, and yet they did not actually alter any events in the past because it had already happened when they were living it the first time.  For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to refer to Harry and Hermione before they use the time turner Harry-A and Hermione-A, after thy use the time turner Harry-B and Hermione-B.

Now let’s go over the events.  Harry-A, Hermione-A, and Ron think they hear Buckbeak’s beheading, but they don’t actually see it because Harry-B and Hermione-B have stolen Buckbeak before we as the audience are aware of their existence.  They hear the swish of the ax hitting the fence and interpret it as Buckbeak’s death.

At the lake, Harry-A watches Harry-B produce a patronus to drive off the dementors.  Harry-B explains to Hermione-B that he was able to produce the patronus because he realized he had already done it, negating the possibility of another rescuer.  There is never a timeline in which only Harry-A and Hermione-A exist, no original which gets rewritten.  It’s like the chicken and the egg, which came first?  Without Harry-A and Hermione-A using the time turner, there would be no Harry-B and Hermione-B and yet, there’s no scenario in which Harry-A and Hermione-B live to use the time turner without the interference of Harry-B and Hermione-B.  Had there been, something else would have happened to save Harry-A so that Harry-B would never have had to step in.  He only steps in because he saw it happen as Harry-A.

Since Harry-B has already lived as Harry-A, everything that happens to Harry-A is predetermined because Harry-B cannot change the past.  Therefore, the entire timeline for the series is in question.  How much is predetermined?  Do the characters have a false sense of free will?  What do you think?