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There is a question I wanted to ask some time ago and I'm not quite sure it hasn't been answered already. In fact if so, I did not find anything.

At the moment I do not have the books with me, but I think I remember that Hermione says something like:

"Imagine you go back in time and then see yourself"

Here is my question, why would it be such a big thing? Especially in Hermiones case. I mean of course if she meets herself in a period before she knew about the time turner, then she would be pretty surprised. But what's the big deal about seeing yourself while in the past, when you already know about the time turner. You shouldn't be as shocked as she states in the book, should you? So my question is, why did Hermione state, that it would be a really shocking scene if you see yourself?

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    You don't think meeting yourself would be a bit of an odd occurrence? – Daft Jun 25 '15 at 9:01
  • It was for Harry she was concerned about as he did not know about it before. – captainsac Jun 25 '15 at 9:02
  • @Daft Of course I think so! Because I know time traveling is just not possible. BUT I don't think that it would be such an, as you said, odd occurrence, if i knew that it basically is possible. – Zanser1609 Jun 25 '15 at 9:02
  • "Spoilers, sweetie!" - River Song. – Rand al'Thor Jun 25 '15 at 9:53
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    In the HP universe, if you meet yourself, what's more likely - time travel or Polyjuice potion? The potion! (or any other one of the thousand means of deception). THAT is a major reason people would have real trouble meeting themselves. – DavidS Jun 25 '15 at 10:03
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Hermione thinks that were she to travel back in time, her past self might see her future self.

If your past self saw your future self, who knows what crazy affects that could have? Your past self could think you were some evil duplicate and attack or have you apprehended.

Their magic mixing with your time travel magic could cause all sorts of time paradox shenanigans. While Hermione is probably very aware of all this, she's making a point of telling her friends to impress upon them the severity of such an occurrence.

EDIT

Here are the specific reasons she gives Harry.

"Harry, what do you think you'd do if you saw yourself bursting into Hagrid's house?" said Hermione.

"I'd -- I'd think I'd gone mad," said Harry, "or I'd think there was some Dark Magic going on --"

"Exactly! You wouldn't understand, you might even attack yourself! Don't you see? 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!"

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    As I commented before: Don't you just think it would just be an strange thing to happen because we simple cannot imagine that it is possible. If we knew it was, and Hermione is traveling in time so she really knows and not just thinks that it is possible, I do not believe that I would be shocked. Simply because there is the possibility and I know about that. – Zanser1609 Jun 25 '15 at 9:11
  • I've updated my answer. – Ingu Shama Jun 25 '15 at 9:16
  • I guess i could live with that answer. just to be fair for others i will wait some time before accepting it so that they get the chance to answer it as well. Maybe somone has another even better explanation. Even if I have to say that you're possibly right. When I think about it the way you just answered it, it could even be abused with some polyjuice or something – Zanser1609 Jun 25 '15 at 9:20
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    I still see the OPs point. She knows what she can do, why would the past version not instantly realize that she is going to travel back in the near future if she sees her future self? – Thomas Jun 25 '15 at 9:36
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    @DavidS Not at all, thanks for the helpful edit. Always appreciated. – Ingu Shama Jun 25 '15 at 10:07
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The Harry Potter Wiki page on Time explains what once happened with time travel:

In 1899, the Department of Mysteries conducted its last experience concerning time-travelling back in time for more than a few hours. Eloise Mintumble was sent to the year 1402, wherein she became stuck for a period of five days. When she was finally retrieved to the present, her body had aged five centuries, and, irreparably damaged, she died in St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries.

Her excursion to the past provoked a great disturbance to the life paths of all those she met, changing the present so dramatically that no fewer than twenty-five of their descendants vanished in the present, having been "un-born". Moreover, there were a few more alarming signs that time itself had been disturbed: Tuesday following her reappearance lasted two and a half full days, whereas Thursday shot by in the space of four hours.

The Ministry of Magic had a great deal of trouble covering up the mishap and, since then, the most stringent laws and penalties have been placed around those who study time travel.

(Source)

Now, this particular incident was what happened from travelling back about 450 years, albeit substantially longer than the period that occurred in Prisoner of Azkaban. Nevertheless, consider the following regulation, one of hundreds:

The longest period that can be travelled back in time without serious chance of harm to the traveller or time itself is around five hours.

(Source)

Now, to address this specific question, if you saw yourself from the past, even if your past-self did know you had a time turner, surely the temptation to know what the future entails would be too much ("Hey - what's in the exam in a couple of hours?") Consider the effects that this could have in terms of creating paradoxes.

If you didn't know that you had a time turner, you would probably turn mad at seeing yourself! You would at least be quite disturbed by it and this would probably cause a paradox, as if you were disturbed prior to getting the time turner and didn't end up getting the time turner, how could you travel back in time and see yourself? This is more of a general time-travelling paradox i.e not specific to the Potterverse, but it's probably the reason behind Hermione saying what she did.

  • RIP Eloise Mintumble – maguirenumber6 Jun 25 '15 at 12:05
  • I don't remember reading about the 1899 experiment in any of the books. Is it part of anything Rowling wrote? Otherwise it's strictly non-canonical. – vsz Jun 25 '15 at 19:19
  • @vsz I'm actually unsure of the source of the 1899 experiment - it's on the Harry Potter wiki page I reference, so I guess it's confirmed by JKR, but I haven't actually encountered it anywhere myself – Often Right Jun 25 '15 at 23:50
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Think about it this way: Hermione wouldn't be surprised, she had travelled in time before, and would realize that if she saw herself. Harry, however, hadn't. He wouldn't understand it, and as you can see in Ingu Sharma's answer:

"Harry, what do you think you'd do if you saw yourself bursting into Hagrid's house?" said Hermione.

"I'd -- I'd think I'd gone mad," said Harry, "or I'd think there was some Dark Magic going on --"

"Exactly! You wouldn't understand, you might even attack yourself! Don't you see? 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!"

However, that is not all!

A scare wouldn't be the only thing that would happen if one saw their future self. That would probably also affect what they did and how they did it. Imagine Hermione saw herself at that night. She wouldn't be surprised, as she would understand that was the effect of the time turner. However, she would know that something had gone wrong, after all, she knew she wouldn't be using it had everything gone "Normal". That could cause her, for instance, to attack Sirius on sight, thinking that Ron had died (since she saw herself with Harry, but not Ron).

If one little thing went wrong, something horrible could end up happening. Hermione understands that, as the brilliant witch she is, so she would be worried about herself too. Not about thinking she had an evil-magic duplicate, but she wouldn't be acting with a Bias that could end up badly.

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