First of all, it is extremely important to note that the events at the end of PoA (from after dinner on the night of June 6 at the entrance hall to the point when the Time-Turner was used just before midnight in the hospital wing) can be seen from 3 points of view:
(1) the pov of Harry & Hermione before they used the Time-turner,
(2) the pov of Harry & Hermione after they used the Time-Turner, and
(3) the pov of everyone else (Which, for my purpose here, I will refer to as Dumbledore's pov. He is, after all, included in the 'everyone else'.).
At this point, I would just like to refer you to this (excellent) illustration at the HP-Lexicon. =) #1 above refers to the yellow part, #2 to the red part, and #3 to the blue one.
We share (or witness) the 1st pov (HHr1) in PoA pp. 326-394 (ch. 16-21), and the 2nd pov (HHr2) in PoA pp. 394-418 (ch. 21-22). Given that, we see that HHr2 comes after HHr1. But actually, they happen simultaneously. If we had access to the 3rd pov (DDpov), and just for the sake of illustration, let's say Dumbledore 'saw' both Harry1 and Harry2 at the same time, we will be able to prove beyond any doubt that they (HHr1 & HHr2) do happen simultaneously. Please, suspend any reactions for now. Just read on. Thanks. =) That is one of three important points about the DDpov.
The second important point about the DDpov is that it is the 'base' pov. Meaning a time loop created by a Time-Turner (ex. HHr2) comes out from it. And that time loop, when it is completed, goes back into the 'base' pov.
The third and MOST IMPORTANT point is that the DDpov is the 'master' pov. It is the pov of everyone (most of whom do not have a Time-Turner). Everything that happens here happens from left to right (in illustration). Everything moves forward in time. Things go from the present (which later will become the past) to the future. My intention here was to make it clear. I hope I didn't confuse anyone. Once something here has already happened, it is UNCHANGEABLE.
For example: Hermione missing Charms. [pp. 294-295, ch. 15]
The question is: Why can't Hermione just use the Time-Turner to be able to attend Charms? The answer: because she can't. If she could do that, she should have done so already, and Harry and Ron (DDpov) should have seen her there. But she wasn't there.
You see, a Time-Turner does exactly that - it turns back the hands of time for the user. But one might be misled into thinking it can be used to change things that has already happened. It can't. What it actually does is allow the user to be at two (or more) places at once. (And so, Hermione was given one and permitted to use it to attend two, or even three, classes at once.)
Certain possibilities are now open to someone who has the ability to be in two places at once (i.e., someone who has a Time-Turner). One of those is the ability to prevent an undesirable thing from happening. And that is exactly what happened in PoA.
"Harry, I don't understand what Dumbledore wants us to do. Why did he tell us to go back three hours? How's that going to help Sirius?"
Harry stared at her shadowy face.
"There must be something that happened around now he wants us to change," he said slowly. "What happened? We were walking down to Hagrid's three hours ago...."
"This is three hours ago, and we are walking down to Hagrid's," said Hermione. "We just heard ourselves leaving...."
Harry frowned; he felt as though he were screwing up his whole brain in concentration.
"Dumbledore just said -- just said we could save more than one innocent life...." And then it hit him. "Hermione, we're going to save Buckbeak!"
"But -- how will that help Sirius?"
"Dumbledore said -- he just told us where the window is -- the window of Flitwick's office! Where they've got Sirius locked up! We've got to fly Buckbeak up to the window and rescue Sirius! Sirius can escape on Buckbeak -- they can escape together!" [p. 396, ch. 21]
Although Harry was sharp enough to deduce what Dumbledore wants them to do, his statements here are quite misleading. What he said leads us to believe that (1) they're going to change something, and (2) they're going to save Buckbeak in addition to Sirius.
But actually, (1) they're not going to change anything; they're just going to do what they've already done (save Buckbeak), and (2) they're going to try to save Sirius in addition to Buckbeak. Heehee. Are you getting confused? Just read on, please. =)
You see, at the point when Dumbledore (we're now in DDpov) gave his instructions to Harry and Hermione, Buckbeak's execution has already been prevented. (Remember, past events in DDpov are UNCHANGEABLE. Remember Hermione missing Charms. If Buckbeak was executed 3 hours earlier, Dumbledore would not imply using him to help Sirius.) When he said, 'If all goes well, you will be able to save more than one innocent life tonight.', he meant Sirius (who may still be saved, hopefully) in addition to Buckbeak (who was already saved earlier).
So, the question now is: how was Buckbeak's execution prevented?
Another mistaken implication of Harry's statements above is that the decision to prevent Buckbeak's execution was made after Dumbledore had his talk with Sirius (and he believed his story); that the reason for saving Buckbeak was to provide a means for Sirius's escape. These are wrong.
The decision to prevent something from happening is made before that something happens. I have reason to believe this is exactly what happened in the case of Buckbeak's execution. So, who made the decision to prevent Buckbeak's execution? And when was it made? Why, Dumbledore, of course! And the decision was made even before Buckbeak was to be executed. =)
DDpov: Preventing Buckbeak's execution...
"Isn't there anything anyone can do, Hagrid?" Harry asked fiercely, sitting down next to him. "Dumbledore --"
"He's tried," said Hagrid. "He's got no power ter overrule the Committee. He told 'em Buckbeak's all right, but they're scared.... Yeh know what Lucius Malfoy's like... threatened 'em, I expect... an' the executioner, Macnair, he's an old pal o' Malfoy's... but it'll be quick
an' clean... an' I'll be beside him...."
Hagrid swallowed. His eyes were darting all over the cabin as though looking for some shred of hope or comfort.
"Dumbledore's gonna come down while it -- while it happens. Wrote me this mornin'. Said he wants ter -- ter be with me. Great man, Dumbledore...." [p. 328, ch. 16]
(DDpov) Dumbledore knew about the execution since that morning, and he didn't expect the appeal (at 2 o'clock) to change anything. He's tried everything, but he's got no power to overrule the Committee. So, he decided to do something. He's going to help Buckbeak escape. But he needs to do it in such a way that will not get anyone in trouble. He has to make sure that Hagrid (and himself, or anyone else really) will not fall under suspicion when Buckbeak is found to be missing. He's going to use a Time-Turner. (I expect he has one of his own.) He's going to use it so he can be in two places at once. He's going to use it so that he can be with Hagrid in his hut, in plain view of everyone there (the Committee member, the executioner, Fudge), while at the same time, he's helping Buckbeak escape outside. Yes. He's going to do it himself. He has every intention of using the Time-Turner later on, and do what needs to be done. That intention (along with the possession of a Time-Turner, of course) is enough to allow for someone (himself, according to his plan) to be in two places at once.
So here starts our 3 povs:
(1) someone1 pov (which is actually HHr1),
(2) someone2 pov (which is actually HHr2), and
(3) everyone else's pov (which, like I said before, I refer to as DDpov here It has a double purpose, really.)
Later, as seen from HHr2 pov [pp. 400-402, ch. 21]:
There was a knock on Hagrid's front door. The execution party had arrived. Hagrid turned around and headed back into his cabin, leaving the back door ajar. Harry watched the grass flatten in patches all around the cabin and heard three pairs of feet retreating. He, Ron, and Hermione had gone... but the Harry and Hermione hidden in the trees could now hear what was happening inside the cabin through the back door.
"Where is the beast?" came the cold voice of Macnair.
"Out -- outside," Hagrid croaked.
Harry pulled his head out of sight as Macnair's face appeared at Hagrid's window, staring out at Buckbeak. Then they heard Fudge.
"We -- er -- have to read you the official notice of execution, Hagrid. I'll make it quick. And then you and Macnair need to sign it. Macnair, You're supposed to listen too, that's procedure --"
Macnair's face vanished from the window. It was now or never.
Ah! Good! MacNair has seen Buckbeak.
"Wait here," Harry whispered to Hermione. "I'll do it."
As Fudge's voice started again, Harry darted out from behind his tree, vaulted the fence into the pumpkin patch, and approached Buckbeak.
"It is the decision of the Committee for the Disposal of Dangerous Creatures that the hippogriff Buckbeak, hereafter called the condemned, shall he executed on the sixth of June at sundown --"
Careful not to blink, Harry stared up into Buckbeak's fierce orange eyes once more and bowed. Buckbeak sank to his scaly knees and then stood up again. Harry began to fumble with the knot of rope tying Buckbeak to the fence.
"... sentenced to execution by beheading, to be carried out by the Committee's appointed executioner, Walden Macnair..."
"Come on, Buckbeak," Harry murmured, "come on, we're going to help you. Quietly... quietly..."
"... as witnessed below. Hagrid, you sign here...."
Harry threw all his weight onto the rope, but Buckbeak had dug in his front feet.
"Well, let's get this over with," said the reedy voice of the Committee member from inside Hagrid's cabin. "Hagrid, perhaps it will be better if you stay inside --"
"No, I -- I wan' ter be with him.... I don' wan' him ter be alone --"
Footsteps echoed from within the cabin.
"Buckbeak, move!" Harry hissed.
Harry tugged harder on the rope around Buckbeak's neck. The hippogriff began to walk, rustling its wings irritably. They were still ten feet away from the forest, in plain view of Hagrid's back door.
"One moment, please, Macnair," came Dumbledore's voice. "You need to sign too." The footsteps stopped. Harry heaved on the rope. Buckbeak snapped his beak and walked a little faster.
Dumbledore is stalling.
Hermione's white face was sticking out from behind a tree.
"Harry, hurry!" she mouthed.
Harry could still hear Dumbledore's voice talking from within the cabin. He gave the rope another wrench. Buckbeak broke into a grudging trot. They had reached the trees....
Dumbledore is still stalling. He wants to give his other self all the time he would need.
"Quick! Quick!" Hermione moaned, darting out from behind her tree, seizing the rope too and adding her weight to make Buckbeak move faster. Harry looked over his shoulder; they were now blocked from sight; they couldn't see Hagrid's garden at all.
"Stop!" he whispered to Hermione. "They might hear us --"
Hagrid's back door had opened with a bang. Harry, Hermione, and Buckbeak stood quite still; even the hippogriff seemed to be listening intently.
Silence... then --
"Where is it?" said the reedy voice of the Committee member. "Where is the beast?"
"It was tied here!" said the executioner furiously. "I saw it! Just here!"
"How extraordinary," said Dumbledore. There was a note of amusement in his voice.
Dumbledore is pleased with the outcome.
"Beaky!" said Hagrid huskily.
There was a swishing noise, and the thud of an axe. The executioner seemed to have swung it into the fence in anger. And then came the howling, and this time they could hear Hagrid's words through his sobs.
This is exactly the same thing HHr1 (and Ron) hears (door opening, men's voices, the swish and thud of an axe, and Hagrid's howling [pp. 331-332, ch. 16-17]. Only, HHr2 can actually hear Hagrid's words.
"Gone! Gone! Bless his little beak, he's gone! Musta pulled himself free! Beaky, yeh clever boy!"
Buckbeak started to strain against the rope, trying to get back to Hagrid. Harry and Hermione tightened their grip and dug their heels into the forest floor to stop him.
"Someone untied him!" the executioner was snarling. "We should search the grounds, the forest --"
"Macnair, if Buckbeak has indeed been stolen, do you really think the thief will have led him away on foot?" said Dumbledore, still sounding amused. "Search the skies, if you will.... Hagrid, I could do with a cup of tea. Or a large brandy."
Dumbledore draws MacNair's attention from the grounds and the forest, which is where he fully intends to bring Buckbeak. And also, after such a feat, Dumbledore would like a large brandy, please. =)
"O' -- o' course, Professor," said Hagrid, who sounded weak with happiness. "Come in, come in...."
So, in DDpov, Buckbeak's execution has been prevented. (Yay!) Dumbledore goes back up to the castle with Fudge, MacNair, and the Committee member. He entertains them for a while. They talk about, oh maybe, Buckbeak, Sirius Black, you know, stuff. Dumbledore's probably planning to turn time a little later, when his guests have already left. But over an hour later (or maybe a couple), something happens. Snape comes in with the unconscious forms of Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Sirius Black on stretchers. They bring the trio up to Madam Pomfrey in the hospital wing. Snape tells his story.
Then Dumbledore goes and talks with Sirius, who has regained consciousness and has been brought up to Professor Flitwick's office. They talked about as many things as they can, and as quickly as possible. Among the things they talked about were:
(a) being animagi,
"Last night Sirius told me all about how they became Animagi," said Dumbledore, smiling. "An extraordinary achievement -- not least, keeping it quiet from me.' [p. 428, ch. 22]
(b) about Peter being a rat animagus, about Peter being alive, about Sirius not actually being the Potter's Secret-Keeper,
"I suppose he's told you the same fairy tale he's planted in Potter's mind?" spat Snape. "Something about a rat, and Pettigrew being alive --"
"That, indeed, is Black's story," said Dumbledore, surveying Snape closely through his half-moon spectacles. [p. 390, ch. 21]
(c) about the events of that night.
Dumbledore believes Sirius. But then...
"There is not a shred of proof to support Black's story, except your word -- and the word of two thirteen-year-old wizards will not convince anybody. A street full of eyewitnesses swore they saw Sirius murder Pettigrew. I myself gave evidence to the Ministry that Sirius had been the Potters' Secret-Keeper."
"Professor Lupin is currently deep in the forest, unable to tell anyone anything. By the time he is human again, it will be too late, Sirius will be worse than dead. I might add that werewolves are so mistrusted by most of our kind that his support will count for very little -- and the fact that he and Sirius are old friends --"
'You must see that Professor Snape's version of events is far more convincing than yours."
'without Pettigrew, alive or dead, we have no chance of overturning Sirius's sentence."
'I have no power to make other men see the truth, or to overrule the Minister of Magic...."
[pp. 392-393, ch. 21]
Much like Buckbeak's case, Dumbledore has no other choice. Sirius must escape. But how? The only safe way out from Professor Flitwick's office is... through the window. Buckbeak! Perfect! Sirius can escape through the window on Buckbeak... on Buckbeak, who Dumbledore himself has saved from execution earlier. Perfect! But wait. Was Dumbledore really the one who saved Buckbeak? Was he the one who actually turned time?
Dumbledore and Sirius were talking about the events of that night. They talked about the dementors. And they talked about the Patronus that drove the dementors away.
(I know this because the next day, Dumbledore tells Harry:
"You think the dead we loved ever truly leave us? You think that we don't recall them more clearly than ever in times of great trouble? Your father is alive in you, Harry, and shows himself most plainly when you have need of him. How else could you produce that particular Patronus? Prongs rode again last night." [p. 428, ch. 22])
'that particular Patronus' Dumbledore knew it was a stag Patronus. Sirius probably mentioned that it was a stag Patronus.
(It is certainly possible Sirius saw it. Although Snape says that Harry, Hermione, and Sirius were all unconscious by the time he reached them, we don't know when exactly Sirius lost consciousness. All we know from HHr1 is:
Sirius had turned back into a man. He was crouched on all fours, his hands over his head.
Black gave a shudder, rolled over, and lay motionless on the ground, pale as death.
[pp. 382-383, ch. 20]
So, the last thing we know for sure is that Sirius was lying faceup on the ground, pale as death. There was no mention of him losing consciousness or even just closing his eyes until, possibly, shortly before Snape arrives. Maybe he lost consciousness at the same time as Harry. That will give him a chance to see, or even just to catch a glimpse of, the Patronus.)
So, anyway, Dumbledore learned it was a stag Patronus. That's odd. His patronus is not a stag. I forgot what it is. What is it? JKR has mentioned that. Phoenix maybe?
'And then I remembered the most unusual form your Patronus took, when it charged Mr. Malfoy down at your Quidditch match against Ravenclaw.' [p. 428, ch. 22]
It was Harry's! Harry was the one who was in two places at once. He was the one who turned time. He was the one who saved Buckbeak. Dumbledore realized he must send Harry. But he can't explain everything about the Time-Turner to Harry now. There is no time. Hermione has a Time-Turner. And she knows the rules. And so, Dumbledore decides to send Harry and Hermione. He goes to the hospital wing to give them instructions.
"My apologies, Poppy, but I need a word with Mr. Potter and Miss Granger," said Dumbledore calmly. "I have just been talking to Sirius Black --" [p. 390, ch. 21]
Dumbledore gives Harry and Hermione quick instructions, then backs out of the hospital wing.
Dumbledore backed out of the room, closed the door, and took out his wand to magically lock it. Panicking, Harry and Hermione ran forward. Dumbledore looked up, and a wide smile appeared under the long silver mustache. "Well?" he said quietly.
"We did it!" said Harry breathlessly. "Sirius has gone, on Buckbeak...."
Dumbledore beamed at them.
"Well done. I think --" He listened intently for any sound within the hospital wing. "Yes, I think you've gone too -- get inside -- I'll lock you in --" [p. 418, ch. 22]
Instant results! You just gotta love it. =)
And that concludes our 3 povs. HHr1 (in the hospital wing) ends here as they turn time and become the beginning of HHr2. HHr2 (coming from the corridor) ends here too as the time loop is completed; HHr2 rejoins the 'base' pov. So, only one pov remains - DDpov, everyone's pov.
The most important thing about this theory is that the decision to turn time is made before the area covered by the time loop, before the left end of the time loop (in the illustration). In the events of PoA, this decision was made by Dumbledore before Buckbeak's scheduled execution. Remember: He has every intention of using the Time-Turner later on, and do what needs to be done. That intention (along with the possession of a Time-Turner, of course) is enough to allow for someone (himself, according to his plan) to be in two places at once.
But then Hermione says:
'Professor McGonagall told me what awful things have happened when wizards have meddled with time.... Loads of them ended up killing their past or future selves by mistake!" [p. 399, ch. 21]
This seems highly unlikely if the wizard who turns time knows beforehand that he's going to do it. He should at least be aware that there is a possibility that he will see himself because he knows that there will be two of him at the same time. So when he sees himself, I doubt that he will attack, much less kill, himself. The past self would just think, 'oh, that's probably my future self'. And the future self would just think, 'well, I know for certain that that's my past self, I was there earlier'.
A problem would arise when someone else sees two of you (i.e. you1 and you2, for example) at the same time. Then it may be possible that one of you (either your past self or your future self) or both of your selves will be attacked. But that would be the case of someone else attacking you, not you attacking yourself.
Solution to Problem #1:
There are special circumstances where someone who turns time is not aware beforehand that they will be turning time. These may provide a scenario for what Hermione says. But only for the past self to possibly attack the future self. It is still highly unlikely for a future self to attack a past self.
(1) The person who actually turned time was not the person who originally decided to do so. A perfect example of this is Harry and Hermione's case. Dumbledore was the one who originally decided to turn time. But due to certain reasons, he did not end up turning time himself. He had to send Harry and Hermione.
(2) The person who originally decided to turn time did turn time but took someone else along with him, and that someone else wasn't aware beforehand that he'd be turning time.
"I would like to speak to Harry and Hermione alone," said Dumbledore abruptly. "Cornelius, Severus, Poppy -- please leave us."
"Headmaster!" sputtered Madam Pomfrey. "They need treatment, they need rest --"
"This cannot wait," said Dumbledore. "I must insist." [p. 391, ch. 21]
"It is your turn to listen, and I beg you will not interrupt me, because there is very little time," he said quietly. [p. 392, ch. 21]
My question is: Why did he have to send HHr1 back now? Why not later? Isn't it that right now, HHr2 is out there and all Dumbledore has to do is to help them by (similar to what happened earlier in preventing Buckbeak's execution) stalling the dementors approach to Professor Flitwick's office so they can get Sirius out? And then Dumbledore just has to make sure that he gives HHr1 the appropriate instructions later before they turn time. So, why now? What's the rush?
My lame answer: Because it just wouldn't have been as exciting if he sent them later! Hehehehe. =)
Solution to Problem #2:
Maybe he thought that was the best time? Maybe he thought they wouldn't get a better chance later? Maybe he thought that was the 'opportune moment'? (Capt. Jack Sparrow to Will Turner, PotC: If you were waiting for the opportune moment, that was it. =) )
This is where I will be putting myself in danger of being attacked. (Umm...) Attacked by those who wants to believe that Sirius will return. *cringes*
No, really. I don't think Sirius will return. At least not back in, uh, this side of the veil. Some are hoping someone will use the Time-Turner to go back to the Department of Mysteries during the battle and prevent Sirius from falling through the veil. That's just not possible. Sirius has already fallen through the veil. Several people saw it. Harry himself saw it happen. And something that has already happened cannot be changed (again, remember Hermione missing Charms). If someone was going to do that (prevent Sirius from falling), everybody there at the DoM during the battle should have seen it already. Harry should have seen it. But nothing like that happened. Sorry.
Umm... I'm hoping Harry can still talk to him, though. (Two-way mirror) =)
And that is all. Thank you! =)
(1) Here is my very own (and very crude - sorry) illustration of the 3 povs. This has no labels though (sorry again), but the color representations are the same as above (i.e., blue=DDpov, yellow=HHr1, red=HHr2).
(2) Just a minor correction:
The second important point about the DDpov is that it is the 'base' pov. Meaning a time loop created by a Time-Turner (ex. HHr2) comes out from it. And that time loop, when it is completed, goes back into the 'base' pov.
The second important point about the DDpov is that it is the 'base' pov. Meaning a time loop created by a Time-Turner (ex. HHr1-HHr2) comes out from it. And that time loop, when it is completed, goes back into the 'base' pov.