Story Summary: The war ended, and then it didn’t. Voldemort is gone but somehow Harry, Hermione and Luna ended up as Undesirables 1, 2 & 3. Controlling the future is going to take some controlling of the past, and they say those who control the present control the past, so why not make the past the present? A time-travel fix-it where a trio of tricksters set up shop and revolutionize the wizarding world, for all that it takes a great deal of time to do so.
This is chapter four of a fanfiction that is part of a series. To start from the beginning of this fic click here. To start from the beginning of the series click here. And to learn more about the series as a whole click here.
Disclaimer: Some of the text in this chapter was copied directly from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone because I couldn’t resist poking at the Weasley family dynamic. Several Wikipedia articles about Chess we also heavily used, because I suck at chess. I tried my best to use British English when I noticed, but to be honest cyborg_goddess and I are both American, so we do our best, but sometimes fall short.
Author’s Note: Happy 2018! I’m trying to move things along at a bit of a faster pace now that we’re finally getting into the school year and the trio start interacting with their “peers.” An additional note regarding Ginny & Ron, my interpretation of them is friendlier than in canon; that is to say, Ron doesn’t push her away as much, and is being extra protective of her since the Chamber incident. So she’s included much more in my friendship dynamic than she was in the original books.
This chapter is brought to you by: My escape from Azkaban *cough* campus housing *cough*
Thanks to cyborg-goddess for beta reading this story!
Chapter Four: Greetings
Harry, Hermione, and Luna were sitting outside Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlour, happily digging into identical vanilla orange crème cinnamon butterscotch swirl ice cream sundaes when they spotted a familiar group of red heads.
“Ron! Ginny!” Hermione called. The two looked around confused before she stood up and started waving. Recognition in their eyes, the two split off from where their mother was distracted by scolding the twins for spelling Percy’s badge again.
“Hey Hermione! How was France?” Ron asked as he approached, flushing red when she gave him an enthusiastic hug.
“Fantastic!” she beamed. “How was Egypt?”
“It was great! I don’t think it quite agreed with Scabbers though, he’s looking pretty sick. I’m thinking of taking him to the magical menagerie, just to get him checked out so maybe he’ll perk up a bit.”
Harry fought back the urge to visibly react to seeing the traitor. Remembering the horror of watching the man strangle himself to death, he was relieved when Ginny cut through his concentration.
“Luna, I didn’t know you knew Harry and Hermione.”
“Well it’s a simple story isn’t it? Most everyone blamed Harry for last year, and no one really wanted to be friends with me already, so neither of us really wanted to further our bad reputations,” Luna shrugged. Ginny’s face fell, and Hermione gave Luna a rather annoyed look that screamed “filter”. Luna gave her one back that was a mixture of “sorry” and “you know I don’t have one”. Hermione raised a “you’re an adult and she’s twelve” eyebrow and Luna sighed and turned to Ginny more directly.
“It’s not your fault. Voldemort–” Ron and Ginny both gasped and Harry and Hermione both rolled their eyes “was dramatically more powerful than you, even at 16, and I haven’t been the best friend to you either since mum died. I’m afraid I let wrackspurts cloud my vision for an unreasonable amount of time.” she told her matter-of-factly.
Ginny gave a pleased, if slightly uneasy smile, and pulled Luna into a hug.
“I have missed you Luna. How has your summer been?”
“Quite good actually. It’s a shame that you only just got back; Harry has actually been staying with us for the past month or so.”
“I came this close” Harry ‘s forefinger and thumb were almost touching “to punching Dudley in the face, and in a physical fight I can’t win against him. Can’t do magic outside of school, so I hopped onto the bus and went to the Leaky. Luna was there having a breakfast out with her dad and they offered me a roof under which I don’t have to deal with my uncle’s sister visiting.”
“Sorry mate, if we’d known I could’ve asked Mum and Dad if you could come to Egypt with us. I think you’d really like Bill.” Ron clapped his hand on Harry’s shoulder.
“It’s okay, Luna and I had a good time this summer. She taught me how to swim in the river by her house. And it was away from the Dursleys, so it’s good in my book.” Harry laughed. “Say, do either of you want ice cream? My treat. It was your birthday earlier this month, right Ginny?”
The younger redhead blushed as Harry turned his direct attention on her and nodded.
Harry took his coin purse out of his hand and tossed Ron a few sickles. “That should cover sundaes for both of you I think.”
“Thanks, mate. We’ll be right back.”
Hermione went to the next table over to snag two extra chairs for Ron and Ginny, and a few minutes later the pair had returned. Ron was in the middle of telling a story about a skeleton that they saw with three heads in the tomb that Ginny wasn’t allowed in – something she inserted complaints about every time he paused for a breath – when their mother appeared.
“There you are! I turned around and you were gone. Warn me the next time you wander off, please?”
“Sorry, mum.” Hermione stifled a laugh at the tone of practiced recitation; it was quite obvious that this wasn’t the first, or the last time they would be saying those words.
“Very well.” Molly pursed her lips before turning to the trio, and noticing Luna. “Is that you little Luna? Why, you’ve grown almost a foot since I last saw you. I didn’t realize you knew Harry and Hermione.”
“Mhmm, yes, we met last year actually, when I was avoiding the nargles who had stolen my shoes, and Hermione transfigured temporary replacements for me,” Luna told her dreamily, before taking another spoonful of ice cream. Molly’s smile became a little fixed, out of distaste for the thieves who had been hiding Luna’s possessions from her, or the use of one of her creatures to explain the theft away, Harry wasn’t sure.
“Well, that’s nice that you made friends, dear. Now, have all of you gotten your supplies yet? Ron, we still have to get your new wand, and your books for your electives.”
“We got our books last week actually. I think Harry has to buy a few more though, I want my runes textbook back” Hermione replied, shooting Harry a sly look.
“Runes, mate? You’re not adding another elective, are you?” Ron groaned.
Harry shrugged. “Yeah, though I might end up dropping Divination. I read through the textbook and it looks a bit rubbish, easy O or no. If you still want to take it though, don’t bother buying the book, I can just give you mine.”
“That’s kind of you, dear,” Molly smiled. “Now, once you’ve finished your ice cream – it looks like you’re pretty much done already – come meet me at that new shop that just opened up while we were away.”
“You mean Tenth Muse?” Hermione asked excitedly. “We’ve been there several times, it’s quite nice.”
“What exactly is the store? I haven’t gotten a chance to see what’s in there yet.”
“Well there’s a mini-library of popular muggle books – with a few wizarding books as well, but mostly muggle fiction, and there’s a bunch of gadgets that are wizarding adaptations of muggle objects – all completely legal, apparently, and–”
As Hermione continued enthusiastically Ron gave Harry a sidelong look. “You’ve been in there how many times?”
“Well the shop is quite interesting, and we couldn’t swim all the time…” Harry trailed off at Ron’s unimpressed look. “Oh come on, how was I supposed to know it would become her favorite store? It was raining, and Hermione and Luna are both rubbish at chess.” Harry ducked a swat from Hermione, who somehow was able to keep up a steady stream of conversation with Mrs. Weasley and pay attention to Ron and Harry, proving that she was a terrific and terrifying example of multitasking.
“Well he’s not wrong,” Luna hummed.
Eventually Hermione ran out of steam and let Mrs. Weasley go, a little dazed, towards the store that she was now quite familiar with for someone who had never been there before.
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After Ron got his new wand – willow, fourteen inches, unicorn hair – and Mrs. Weasley had finished examining the shop for herself, they all retired to the Leaky Cauldron to share a meal. Harry had to force himself not to stare at a George with both ears and his twin by his side, and was only pulled out of this distraction by Percy, who was in full networking mode. He held out his hand solemnly as though he and Harry had never met, let alone lived in constant proximity for what, to Percy at least, was going on two years, and said, “Harry. How nice to see you.”
“Hello, Percy,” said Harry, trying not to laugh. It was odd to see his once brother-in-arms treating him like he was meeting the minister.
‘I hope you’re well?’ said Percy pompously, shaking hands. Behind him, Hermione, Ron and Ginny failed to stifle laughs, while Luna simply hummed, a small smile on her face.
“Very well, thanks –”
Harry!” said Fred, elbowing Percy out of the way and bowing deeply. “Simply splendid to see you, old boy –”
“Marvellous,” said George, pushing Fred aside and seizing Harry’s hand in turn. “Absolutely spiffing.”
‘That’s enough, now,’ said Mrs Weasley.
“Mum!” said Fred, as though he’d only just spotted her, and seized her hand, too. ‘How really corking to see you –’
“I said, that’s enough,” said Mrs Weasley, depositing her shopping in an empty chair. ‘Hello again, Harry, dear. I forgot to tell you our exciting news!‘ She pointed at the brand-new silver badge on Percy’s chest. “Second Head Boy in the family!” she said, swelling with pride.
“And last,” Fred muttered under his breath.
“I don’t doubt that,” said Mrs Weasley, frowning suddenly. “I notice they haven’t made you two Prefects.”
“What do we want to be Prefects for?” said George, looking revolted at the very idea. “It’d take all the fun out of life.”
Hermione frowned, and out of the corner of her eye saw that Ron’s face had fallen, laughter replaced with a resigned scowl. She caught Harry’s eye and made a discrete gesture towards Ron. Harry’s face also fell as he remembered back to Christmas 1991.
“Can you see all your family standing around you?”
“No – I’m alone – but I’m different – I look older – and I’m Head Boy!”
“I am – I’m wearing the badge like Bill used to – and I’m holding the House Cup and the Quidditch Cup – I’m Quidditch captain, too!”
Ron tore his eyes away from this splendid sight to look excitedly at Harry.
“Do you think this mirror shows the future?”
“How can it? My family are dead.”
Harry nudged Ron in the shoulder. “I don’t think I’d like to be Head Boy. I’d have to put myself in detention at least twice a week.”
Ron scoffed “More like three.”
“Ugh, and can you imagine all of that extra work? They have to go to staff meetings and make nice with Snape.” Harry shook his head “Personally I’d rather spend that time preparing for NEWTs, so that I’d have more time for Quidditch and hanging out with friends before we have to become real adults and all that rot.”
“Yeah, and it would mean having to pay extra attention to all the firsties. I think you have the right idea there, mate,” Ron smiled, and Harry saw Luna wink at him out of the corner of her eye before turning back to her conversation with Ginny and Hermione, as the latter enthusiastically told the former about her adorable new cat.
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The next day was as chaotic as any other September first, with Harry, Hermione and Luna all having stayed at the Leaky Cauldron with the Weasleys the night before. Somehow even though they had only been there for one night, they were all still rushing to get everything packed up in time to make it to King’s Cross at 11. Before Harry knew it, they were on the Hogwarts Express.
Passing by a familiar compartment, the trio exchanged quick looks before deciding to follow through with their original plan. Hermione confidently opened the door and the five of them settled in, Fred and George having long since wandered off to find their friend Lee Jordan.
“Who is that?” Ron asked, gesturing towards the sleeping man in the corner.”
“Professor R. J. Lupin I suppose.”
“How do you know everything?” Whether Ron was looking at Hermione with adoration or disgust Harry honestly did not know, but Hermione shrugged it off with a roll of her eyes.
“It’s on his trunk Ron. Honestly, there are plenty of things I don’t know. For instance – what is the point of the Queen’s Gambit? And how did it even become popular in the first place? I don’t get it, no matter how many times I’ve played.”
“Well,” Ron scratched his head as he started to explain “It can be super effective, if you do it right I mean. The Queen’s Gambit is actually one of the one of the oldest known chess openings. It was mentioned in the Göttingen manuscript of 1490 and was later analysed by masters such as Gioachino Greco in the seventeenth century. In the eighteenth century, it was recommended by Phillip Stamma and sometimes it’s known as known as the Aleppo Gambit in his honour. It wasn’t actually that popular in the early period of modern chess, since queen pawn openings were not in fashion, and the whole thing didn’t become that common until the 1873 tournament in Vienna.” Ron continued to rattle off information even as Hermione pulled out a composition book to take notes. Ginny made eye contact with Harry and they both had to look away from one another to avoid snickering too obviously, though to be frank Hermione and Ron wouldn’t be stopping anytime soon as Ron had just started in on an impassioned defense of the Queen’s Gambit Accepted. Luna simply hummed and starting braiding Ginny’s hair, while Harry opened up a copy of The Essential Defence Against the Dark Arts, wanting to refamiliarize himself with the third-year material.
Things continued in this relaxed manner until the train started slowing down, and Ron’s animated description of why he preferred wizard’s chess over the inanimate muggle variety faltered.
“We can’t possibly be there yet. Why are we stopping?” Hermione made a show of looking away from some 7 pages of notes (complete with diagrams) and checking her watch.
“I dunno.” Ron peered out of the window. “We’ve stopped on a bridge.”
Harry ducked his head out of the compartment, doing his best to look as confused as everyone else, while his heart was pounding in anticipation. For all that they had been undesirables, their propensity towards staying indoors had meant that he was rusty when it came to dementors, as nothing had been able to breach their wards prior to the night the trio had escaped into the past.
“Everyone looks just as confused as we are.” Harry shrugged, feigning nonchalance. The train came to a stop with a jolt and distant thuds and bangs told them that luggage had fallen out of the racks. Then, without warning, all the lamps went out and they were plunged into total darkness.
“What’s going on?” said Ron’s voice from behind Harry.
“Ouch!” gasped Hermione. “Ron, that was my foot!”
Harry felt his way back to his seat.
“D’you think we’ve broken down?”
There was a squeaking sound, and Harry saw the dim black outline of Ron, wiping a patch clean on the window and peering out.
“There’s something moving out there,” Ron said. “I think people are coming aboard …”
The compartment door suddenly opened and someone fell painfully over Harry’s legs.
“Sorry! D’you know what’s going on? Ouch! Sorry –”
“Hello, Neville,” said Harry, feeling around in the dark and pulling Neville up by his cloak.
“Harry? Is that you? What’s happening?’
“No idea! Sit down –”
There was a loud hissing and a yelp of pain; Neville had tried to sit on Crookshanks.
Hermione conjured one of her bluebell flames, slipping it into a jar that Luna handed to her silently, and Harry took Crookshanks into his lap so that Neville could sit down. Boy and cat exchanged wary glances and Crookshanks hissed again, before turning his tail towards Neville and settling in to Harry’s robes.
As the cold feeling drew closer Harry’s instincts screamed at him to cast his patronus, but he kept himself resolute, making eye contact with Hermione, whose lips were thin, but who nevertheless gave him a subtle nod. Her eyes flickered over to Luna, who was looking unusually somber, but nevertheless gave a sad smile.
The dementor had opened the door and was about to enter when Remus Lupin finally opened his eyes, and a wispy white wolf emerged from his wand, chasing it away.
“Is everyone alright?” he looked at the assembled children, his worried eyes meeting their wide ones, and something twisted inside of Harry. He had long forgiven the man for not checking up on him as a child – Remus was a good friend of his parents, true, but he also had been only 21 at the time, wracked with grief, and suffering from a disease that saw him ostracized by the majority of the community.
Petunia was awful, and Lily had cried over her treatment by Petunia, but she also loved her sister, and did not speak about her very much to anyone but James. Petunia was also older, experienced taking care of her own child, and living in a house with a husband that had a stable job. It was no stretch to believe her to be a suitable guardian, no matter how wrong that assumption turned out to be.
Remus had explained to them that while he thought of Harry often, he had lived for many years in Canada, where they were not exactly welcoming of werewolves, but did not have the mountain of restrictions that were present in the United Kingdom. That said, when news of Sirius’ escape broke, and he received Dumbledore’s invitation to teach at Hogwarts, he jumped at the chance. Once he learned of Sirius’ innocence and Wormtail’s escape, Remus felt his first duty to be toward his old friend, and second to be working with Dumbledore against the rising dark. He rejoined the Order of the Phoenix, and fell in love with Tonks.
Harry remembered how angry he had been at Remus, for abandoning her and wanting to join them. But Luna had taken him aside and patiently explained that Tonks could take care of herself, pregnant or no, and Remus would have undoubtedly joined her again when she gave birth. He wanted to feel useful, and thought that helping them for a time would achieve that.
“Harry, mate, are you okay?”
Harry was broken out of his brooding by Ron’s voice. Tearing his thoughts away from the godson he couldn’t protect, Harry responded almost automatically.
“I heard my mother. She said, ‘Not Harry, please no, take me, kill me instead –’ and then she died for me.” He told them quietly. “I never remembered her voice before now.”
The entire compartment was silent, and it was only broken by the sound of yelling a few compartments over, that broke everyone out of the somber mood.
“I – I better go investigate, as a professor. Please, take this chocolate, it’ll help.” Remus was shocked at hearing the repetition of Lily’s last words, and though his first instinct was to comfort Harry, he saw that his friends were already moving to do so, and decided to act in his capacity as a professor instead, and give his help where it was most needed.
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Back in the compartment, Luna, who had been sitting next to Harry covered his hand with hers. “The last time I saw my mother, she had created a shield. Not to protect herself, but to encase the explosion and make it an implosion. If she hadn’t the house would have collapsed, and all three of us would have died.” Luna rested her head on Harry’s shoulder, and he intertwined his hand with hers.
“I saw Tom. Or rather I saw me,” Ginny told them hollowly. “I remembered having no control over my body, killing roosters and painting the wall with their blood. It covered my hands, all of me, I never thought I’d be clean, be myself again.” She started to cry, and Ron pulled her into a hug.
“I thought I’d lost you. My baby sister. I thought it was my fault, for not taking good enough care of you.” Ron had always been emotional, his temper was famous, but he also had a big heart that he wore on his sleeve.
“My uncle once threw me off Blackpool pier. I thought I was going to drown, before Gran pulled me up. She yelled at uncle Algie, but I knew she was disappointed that I didn’t save myself. It’s why I don’t swim.”
Hermione, who had been silent up to this point, grasped Neville’s hands with her own. “I thought I was going to die when the troll entered that bathroom, but my friends saved me. We all have our demons,” Hermione looked around at all of them, “we’re all friends, and we can help save each other. We can make sure that no one ever has to go through what we went through again.” The six of them shared shaky smiles, and started dividing up the chocolate.
“What was that spell he used?” Ginny asked a few minutes later, as they all nibbled on their treats.
“It was the patronus charm,” Hermione responded promptly. “I read about it when researching Azkaban after Sirius Black escaped. It’s the only way to keep the dementors who guard it at bay. I have no idea why they were on the train, but I hope we don’t run into them again.”
“I say we learn that charm.” Ginny declared. “I never want to feel that helpless again.” Ron nodded fiercely, and Hermione, Harry and Luna shared a smile. Their friends were different, but still here.
“I’ll probably be rubbish at it,” Neville said miserably. “I can barely do any spells.”
“Don’t say things like that about yourself, Neville,” Hermione took his hand again. “You’re a brilliant wizard, I know you are. I’ve seen your essays, and in theoretical magic you’re leagues above Ron and Harry.”
“Oi!” Ron said around his chocolate.
“Sorry mate, but it’s true.” Harry shook his head. “We both did pretty awful last year after Hermione got petrified. It’s why I studied so hard over the summer.”
“It was helpful for me too!” Luna piped up. “Summer homework is much easier when there was someone to study with.”
Ron scratched the back of his head. “I suppose studying a bit more wouldn’t be so bad.”
“Oh!” Hermione clapped her hands together. “We could form a study group! We’ll teach ourselves the patronus charm, and then we can focus on stuff we struggle with too! It’ll be perfect.”
Ron rolled his eyes. “Only you could get that excited about studying, Hermione.”
“Personally, I’m excited too,” Ginny announced. “I missed a LOT of material last year because of the diary, and I really need to get caught up. Besides, it won’t be all studying. I’m sure if we can get this sanctioned we can convince the kitchens to give us snacks.”
“It will also make it harder for the nargles to disrupt our plans,” Luna nodded wisely. Ron and Ginny rolled their eyes, and Neville looked confused. Meanwhile, Hermione and Harry looked pensive.
“Do you think that they will be a serious problem?” Hermione asked, concerned.
“I’m sure I can handle it,” Luna smiled “but thank you.”
“As you wish,” Hermione shrugged, “I know you can take care of yourself.”
“You can’t seriously believe in nargles Hermione. Those don’t exist.” Ron scoffed.
“Well until I got my Hogwarts letter, I didn’t know that wizards existed. I thought unicorns weren’t real. Who’s to say that nargles aren’t the same way?” Hermione sniffed, completely ignoring the fact that in the last timeline she had the exact attitude she was now advocating against.
“Yeah, but that’s what you get for being raised muggle. Meanwhile we wizards know –”
Whatever wizards knew that the muggle-raised did not was muffled by Ginny’s hand which had just been slapped across her brother’s mouth.
“Please excuse the idiot. He can only go so long without being an arse,” Ginny told them sweetly. Ron’s face reddened and he fought himself away from his sister.
“Right, because you’re so perfect –”
“Better than you little –”
“Hey!” Harry shouted, interrupting the siblings that were now both red as their hair. “Remember like ten minutes ago? When we were all talking about what great friends we are?” Both Ron and Ginny sniffed before sitting down and resolutely not looking at one another.
“Everything okay in here?” Lupin popped his head back in, and took in the tense atmosphere. Upon his arrival however, the six friends simply burst into laughter.
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Since Harry hadn’t fainted this time around, Hermione was alone when she went to McGonagall’s office to acquire her Time-Turner. This is what she had been looking forward to all summer. Limiting magic use to within trunks or in populated areas had been a pain and a half, but sneaking into the ministry in order to disable the trace was almost impossible without exposing their cover.
The only reason it had worked in the last timeline was because Luna had blown up the improper use of magic office while the original trio stole the locket and freed the muggleborns. True, getting the locket had been their priority, but Luna’s trace was a liability they couldn’t afford outside the wards of Grimmauld place, and without the records and tools housed in the office, the ministry had no way to track underage muggleborns.
Hermione could still remember the joy she had felt at discovering the world of magic, and the prospect of having that world opened only to be killed or thrown in Azkaban like the muggleborns in the Hogwarts class of 2003 was one that haunted her.
“I feel that I’ve grown to know you quite well, Miss Granger, and I know you can be trusted with this. I must reiterate, however, that you cannot be seen. And you must tell no one, agreed?” McGonagall looked at Hermione sternly, before breaking into a small smile at Hermione’s earnest nod.
“I won’t let you down Professor.” Minerva McGonagall was going to live to see the 21st century, Hermione swore it.
“Good. Time is not to be trifled with.”
Professor, you have no idea.
A/N: I apologize that this chapter is so short, but we’re finally at Hogwarts! Yay!
Fic Recommendation: Gelosaþ in Écnesse by Batsutousai. It’s on AO3 and FFN under the same name, with the same author and is a Harry/Salazar fic where Harry gets thrown back in time at the end of GoF and has to make a life for himself in the Founders’ Era. It’s a solid fic, and I’ve re-read it more than once. Highly recommend.