This is Part Two! To start from the beginning, click here.
INSIDE THE TARDIS
“What is happening?” Hermione shouted as the TARDIS shook. She and Harry had both grabbed on to the guard rails surrounding the TARDIS console, while Luna sat upside down on the seat, her long blonde hair dangling on the grate and her knees hooked over the shoulder rest for balance. Meanwhile, the Doctor dashed over to the console and swung around the display to try and discover where the randomiser was sending them.
It wasn’t that the randomiser was bad necessarily — it had helped him evade the Black Guardian, and it had led them to the Ood Sphere, which was as necessary an adventure as any. But he hadn’t wanted his first adventure with the trio to be a random one, and judging from the way that his sonic had interacted with Hermione’s shield, the randomiser appeared to now be protected from outside influence, which meant that, worst of all, they would have a bugger of a time turning it off.
Examining the scanner and ignoring the protests of the mages in the room, the Doctor calculated that they appeared to be moving in only one dimension. That is to say, while they were hurtling backwards in time by over a thousand years, they were not, in fact, moving spatially at all.
The shaking stopped.
Hermione and Harry shakily stood, and Luna jumped up cheerfully.
“What is actually going on here?” Harry asked.
“Well, funny story actually. You three happen to have walked in to the most sophisticated space-time machine in the universe, and your friend here happens to have pressed the one button that ensures that every trip she takes is completely random, and I can’t at all control where she goes. Isn’t that marvellous?”
“No. In fact, that sounds rather preposterous!” Hermione huffed.
“Hmm, yes, well you said the same thing about nargles dear, and look where that got you.” Luna patted Hermione on the shoulder in a gesture that was sympathetic, and, had it been anyone else, a little patronizing. “Tell me Doctor, where are we?”
“According to my scanner, the exact same place we started.”
Harry, who had wandered over to the entrance and opened the TARDIS doors to see nothing but forest, turned back to join the conversation.
“I think, my dear, that a better question then, might be when are we. Because this certainly doesn’t look like the Hogsmeade I know.”
LHTTAS — LHTTAS — LHTTAS
Hermione Granger was cranky. She’d had enough of traipsing through the woods while the four of them had been on the horcrux hunt, and she wasn’t at all pleased to be doing so again, though at least she still had her beaded bag (lingering paranoia paid off), in the eleventh century with a self-proclaimed alien madman. She tried to look at the positives. With her bag, the three of them at least had spare clothes, so they had been able to change from school robes to jeans and jumpers that were more sturdy for hiking through the forest. This was a marvelous chance to explore a historical narrative in a way hitherto unknown. ‘Imagine the lost knowledge you can regain, Hermione!’ her mind was reminding her.
But she’d had a headache all day, and hadn’t even wanted to go to Hogsmeade, but Harry was itching to get out of the castle and away from the memories of the final battle, and honestly she couldn’t blame him. The castle was huge, but confining, especially to the 7th and 8th years, who had been through so much there. And the rebuilding efforts were still ongoing. There were still scars and scorch marks that magic had yet to fix, and the memories of where people had fallen, dead at the hands of those who had invaded the castle they had called home. People lost to them forever. Fred. Tonks. Colin. And so many more, lost too soon.
Hermione shook herself from the memories. The Hogwarts they approached now was new, unscarred, and beautiful. As they finally came out of the forest and onto the grounds, they were approached by four people that could only have been the founders. And, OK, this is when Hermione had her star-struck moment. She was allowed it, OK? These were the Hogwarts founders, the people who had created the very institution she had loved for so long, whose stories she had read countless times, who —
“So who are you lot, then?” asked the burly man with a bright red beard, who could only have been Godric Gryffindor.
“I’m Doctor John Smith, but you can simply call me Doctor. These are my apprentices, Harry, Hermione, and Luna. I’ve taken them under my wing, and taught them what I can, but I’ve brought them to Hogwarts as I hear it is an institution of premiere learning that can teach them much more than I ever could. They previously learned under my brother, you see, who was a much more skilled wizard than I, but he lost his life recently to an accident involving two horses and some pickled carrots. Nasty business.”
Hermione could not believe the nerve of this man. Or the bizarre nature of his narrative. Two horses and some pickled carrots.
“We are sorry for your losses, dears. Won’t you come inside? You look as though you’ve had a long journey through the forest. How long have you been travelling? I’m Helga, by the way. Come along.” Helga gestured for them to follow her up the path to the castle. “Don’t mind Godric being blunt, he can’t help himself, doesn’t always trust strangers, but I’m an empath, so I know a good lot when I see them. You’re certainly a formidable and well-trained group, but you won’t harm us, I don’t think. Besides. Those two silent ones, Rowena and Salazar, could have killed you ten ways to Sunday already if you really were a threat to our students.” How Helga managed to stay so cheerful while casually threatening them Hermione didn’t know, but she was both properly wary and reluctantly impressed. Harry also had his signature suppressing-a-smile face on, and Luna looked as serene as ever. Hermione wasn’t very good at reading the Doctor’s expression yet, so all she really gleaned from him was an open sort of curiosity.
“So, Helga, tell me, how long have you been running Hogwarts?” The Doctor asked as they approached the entryway.
“Well, the four of us founded the school about twenty-five years ago, on land that belonged to Rowena’s family for generations before she gifted it to the school.”
“You speak as though it was a hardship, Helga,” Rowena demurred. “It was an honor and a privilege, to provide for the future education of generations.”
“Hmmm, yes. Education, the great equalizer. And you four work together? Equally? Are there other professors here?”
“But of course! There are far too many students for us to take them all on only ourselves, as the school has grown over the years,” Godric chortled as he threw open the doors to the castle. The newcomers made sure to look suitably impressed, as though they hadn’t walked over the very same threshold hundreds upon hundreds of times. Though it wasn’t precisely the same. Different tapestries featured on the walls. The stones were already ancient, but had a vibrant quality that was ever so slightly changed in the time they came from. The castle was alive in both eras, but with a quality of spirit that differed. Not in a way that was any better or worse, simply different.
“Aside from that, we all have our specialties. What is yours, Doctor?” Helga asked
“Technology. I build and make things. I create objects out of component parts to serve a purpose, often using a combination of runes and varying forms of energy.”
“Ah, wonderful! We were looking for a Runes Master. Our previous associate recently left us unexpectedly. An estranged relative he had never heard of left behind a huge sum of money in his name. It was quite odd, but we wished him well,” Godric cut in cheerfully.
“Indeed. Would you be able to take over the curriculum, Doctor? At least for the while that your apprentices are studying here,” Rowena asked, not unkindly.
Hermione was baffled. Why on earth were these founders accepting them so easily. They had just walked in here, with no credentials, and were being offered a place at the school? No questions asked? This was madness! And no one had asked her for her opinion. She opened her mouth to speak but closed it again when she felt Luna’s hand close around her wrist. Something about the look in the other girl’s eye made her swallow back her words. She exchanged a glance with Harry and he subtly shook his head. They would wait until they were truly alone to talk.
Wait a minute. Talking. If this was the eleventh century, how in Merlin’s name could they understand anything the founder’s were saying? Shouldn’t the language be completely different?
It seemed as though Hermione’s headache wasn’t going to be going away any time soon.
LHTTAS — LHTTAS — LHTTAS
Harry was taking a wait and see approach. He had spent the early years of his life constantly dodging his cousin, quick impulses gained from the loathed ‘Harry Hunting’. From this had learned the lesson to always be prepared at a moment’s notice to flee, and evaluate all exits, all possibilities for ways things could go wrong. This was a skill only improved by his attendance at Hogwarts, where everyone always wanted something from him. A little slice of his fame. Some notoriety, either by being his friend or by taking him down a peg. Whether he was loved or hated, Harry was always in the spotlight, and so he had refined the technique of staying quiet and observing every situation, seemingly relaxed, not a threat.
For so long he had held on to anger. The truth was that he was still angry. Angry that there had been so much pain and death. And yes, part of him still blamed himself for that. His solution was to honor those sacrifices by not wasting his life, and instead living it to the fullest and brightest extent possible. That also meant keeping himself and what he loved safe, and that meant protecting those he cared about. Right then, that meant protecting Hermione and Luna.
Granted, they could most definitely protect themselves. But Hermione was at her ropes end, he could tell, barely keeping the strands of herself together. And Harry could never quite get into Luna’s head, but there was something about how the girl had been interacting with that machine, the TARDIS, that made him feel as though it affected her differently than it did them. It was true, when he said before that the reaction of the ship to his magic was unlike any ward magic he had felt before, but it wasn’t completely true that it didn’t feel like magic, because it did. It felt like Luna’s magic. He and Hermione had discussed it, late one night during the Horcrux hunt, when he couldn’t sleep and so his third watch overlapped with her second while Luna and Ron slept inside the tent.
“Have you ever noticed how different Luna is?” Harry asked as they stared out at the night. Hermione gave a small laugh.
“Harry, there’s no one like Luna. We both know that. Anyone who’s known her for five minutes, or even five seconds would know.”
“No, I mean, her magic. Have you felt it?” Harry insisted.
“Have I felt Luna’s magic?” Hermione asked, bemused. “What do you mean, felt Luna’s magic?”
“It’s like… I don’t know how to explain it. I don’t know if other wizards and witches have the same sensations I do regarding magic. It’s not something I’ve ever talked about before, or read about in a book. But when I’m around someone or something magical, I can feel it. I can sense the magic. And Luna’s magic is unlike anyone else’s. I mean, everyone’s magic is different, right? Because people are different. But human magic is fundamentally the same, it’s different, though, from house elf magic, or centaur magic, or the magic of a spell. Luna’s though… it doesn’t always feel completely human.” Harry concluded lamely. “It’s not bad,” he continued hurriedly, once he saw the somewhat incredulous, and not a little bit concerned look on Hermione’s face. “Luna’s magic, it feels, pretty amazing actually, it’s so, I guess the best word is alive, it’s like the fire at the center of the sun, burning bright and hot, but also like the howling wind and crashing waves all at once. It’s a fierce, when she lets it out. Most of the time its normal, the same as you or me, an energetic glow, but sometimes, sometimes that ferocity comes through and it overwhelms.”
“Well, firstly, Harry, that’s amazing that you seem to have a natural form of what I believe is called magi-sight. It’s an advanced technique used by Cursebreakers, Rune Masters, Arithmancers, and Ward Crafters to see and sense magic, and it takes most people time and skill to develop it. Since you haven’t taken arithmancy or ancient runes, I’m not surprised that you haven’t come across any mention of it before. I’ve experimented with expanding my own magi-sight, but I need to consciously use it to get readings from others, so no, I haven’t noticed anything out of the ordinary about Luna’s magic, because I haven’t had cause to read her.”
Harry nodded, processing Hermione’s words. Luna was odd, and her magic was another thing to add to the list of things he wasn’t sure he would ever understand about her. Nonetheless, he was glad that she had joined them on the journey to find the horcruxes. For a number of reasons really. Not only was she good company when Ron and Hermione were having yet another fight, but she also was the only one who had experience gutting and cooking fish before, and the only one who knew how to fine tune the summoning charm to only catch a few fish at a time instead of summoning half the fish in the river and having to cancel the charm at the last second. Luna was clever, and funny, and really quite pretty. She was unfailingly honest, and innovative in ways that made their arduous task that much more bearable.
“Could you perhaps help me hone it a bit more? Teach me some of what you know of runes and arithmancy? If nothing else it will help pass the time.”
“Of course Harry. When would you like to start?”
Harry was shaken out of his musings when he found himself being asked a question by Godric Gryffindor. (Godric Gryffindor!)
“Sorry, come again?”
“I was asking whether you’ve ever fought with a sword. You don’t appear to have one on you, or the build for it. But every young man should have a sword.”
“Ah, well, I’ve used a sword a few times, when I needed to, but I’ve always been better with wand work myself. Not that there’s anything wrong with swords of course, I’ve just found wands to be more versatile.”
“Nonsense! As I say, every man needs a sword, no matter what Salazar might think, eh? You want my advice, son, don’t listen to the snake. A sword is a man’s best weapon. We’ll get you kitted up and ready to fight in no time.”
Godric slapped Harry on the back in what was probably meant to be a good natured way, but in reality left Harry feeling off-put. He was proud to say, though, that he hadn’t actually stumbled. All the strength training and exercise he had been putting in ever since he started making an effort to be more fit while on the run (if he could be just that much faster than the death eaters and the snatchers, all the better for him) had paid off, and he found that after he was in the habit he liked exercise. If he was tired enough at the end of the day, it almost helped keep the nightmares at bay.
It was after Godric’s peculiar warning to not listen to Slytherin, though, that Harry realized the fourth founder had said nothing to them yet since their arrival, only standing silently and observing them while the Doctor chattered away with Helga and Rowena about lesson plans, Luna absentmindedly braiding her hair, and Hermione growing ever more tense.
Salazar Slytherin wasn’t what Harry expected. From the statue in the Chamber of Secrets, Harry had presumed to see a ugly wizard with a balding head and a long beard. But Salazar had elegant features, no facial hair, and long black hair, tied back with a simple ribbon. Taking a gamble, and wondering if perhaps history had been as unfair to Salazar as the public often was to Harry, the young man offered an olive branch.
“I don’t mean to misspeak, but that was a bit rude of him. I should think I should listen to any professor, especially a founder of this school.”
“Indeed,” Salazar gave a nod of the head, and Harry did his best not to give a start at what was a surprisingly feminine voice. “Godric has never been the most tactful of comrades, and we disagree on all manner of subjects. He… disapproves of a number of choices I have made as of late, and has decided that passive-aggressive dismissal is the best way to vent his frustration with them. Nevermind that, however. Shall we get you three sorted?”
I want to add a CW for racism, homophobia, and transphobia and just in general instances of shitty people being shitty in future chapters. As a queer genderfluid POC myself I can’t really escape these things so I don’t think it’s realistic to have my characters escape them either. It sucks, but that’s how it is. That said, it’s not all doom and gloom, and that definitely won’t be the focus of this fic, it’s just that these are inescapable background factors that have to happen every once in a while or else my brain wouldn’t be able to cope and y’all wouldn’t have a fic to read.
Note also Harry’s reaction to Salazar in this fic just now, I promise Harry isn’t a transphobe y’all he’s just a repressed boy trying to figure things out I’m going to be as gentle with him as I can.