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 eleven 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: If I owned Harry Potter you’d be watching this on the West End, not reading it on your computer.
A/N: NaNoWriMo kicked my ASS and this is the last mostly pre-written chapter from that era, I’m afraid. Sorry darlings. Thank you cyborg-goddess and Transreal_Clouden for putting up with my inability to concentrate on anything other than fanfic. I mean, I know you like reading my fic or you wouldn’t beta for me, but still I took things to a whole new level in November. From here on in, I’m writing things in the wave of the backlog, so eventually I’ll be writing right up against my fortnightly deadline, but this at least is still something I scheduled.
Chapter Eleven: Introspection
Mary Cattermole was amazed and pleased about how much her life had changed in the past few months. Part of her had been worried that she would get bored without having any children around in the house all day — empty nest syndrome — and then once she had acquired her job at Ivory Innovations she had needed to counter worries from Reg (and private ones of her own) that she wouldn’t have enough time for the children while working. But while her job at Ivory had changed her life completely, it was entirely for the better.
She was now a senior manager at the company, so while she still helped out at the shop every now and then, much more of what she did was working in the back, helping to develop products, liaise with the press and the public, and cross-check that everything they worked on was in accordance with the legal restrictions put upon them by the ministry in that their products were 100% wizard, and not altered muggle devices — she spent an unfortunate amount of time fielding letters from the supposed “experts” at the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts office. This was doubly unfortunate because one of their most promising employees was another ex-housewitch with whom Mary felt she otherwise had a lot in common with, Molly Weasley, and her husband was the head of that office and utterly clueless about the very thing at which he was supposedly the forerunner in terms of knowledge at the ministry. Arthur was a sweet man, but sometimes Mary despaired at the state of their government.
All told, Mary loved her new role, but it did mean that she was looking for new employees to cover her and Dave’s old positions in the shop (since he had also been promoted into the shared senior manager role) which is why she was so pleased when Dobby applied. She hadn’t ever met a free elf before, and, being a muggleborn married to a pureblood from one of the middle class families, hadn’t had much interaction with house elves at all, but she was very intrigued to hear Dobby’s story, and absolutely sympathized with his efforts to make a living for himself as a free elf. She could tell that he wasn’t telling her everything — there was only so much you share with a stranger and a potential employer after all — but Dobby was definitely qualified and competent, and so she hired him on the spot to manage inventory and maintenance. She had offered him the role of teller and sales, but he pointed out that many preferred house elves be kept out of sight and out of mind. Mary, rather dismayed at this, told Dobby that he didn’t have to be visible to customers if he felt uncomfortable, but not to hide himself, because people who didn’t like elves weren’t the sort of people they wanted around anyway.
The only real issue with hiring Dobby was that, while he was very adamant about wanting freedom, he had a bit of a skewed view about what a reasonable salary was. When Mary pointed out that he would need to find a place to live and food to eat and clothes to wear, all on the money she would be paying him, he realized that the money she was offering him was actually more equitable than what he had been initially asking for, and he accepted the rate she had initially proposed.
The day she hired Dobby was also the same day that the article about their new bra line came out in Witch Weekly , and Mary was surprised at how many orders they ended up getting because of it. Not just people coming in to the store, but also owl orders. It wasn’t like there were orders in the thousands, but there were a few dozen, which was more than she was expecting, especially in light of the bigger news that came out that day. That said, she wasn’t going to look a gift horse in the mouth, and business was business, so she set to writing a letter to Molly to ask her if she wouldn’t mind shifting her focus a bit to work on making more of the bras since a large amount orders had just come in. Though actually, she pondered, I wonder if Dobby knows of any elves interested in being free who have experience with sewing.
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Albus Dumbledore was brooding in his office while reading the Daily Prophet. Not that you could tell it from looking at him. It was a rare soul who could discern Dumbledore’s emotions simply by looking at him, because the man had a poker face like few others, and had over a century of experience in honing his technique in evading questions he didn’t like to answer and getting people to answer questions they didn’t want to be asked.
Dumbledore was the type of man who liked knowing things. He liked knowing things, and he liked other people knowing that he knew things. He liked having power, and he liked the power that came with having power and never using it. He would never admit it, but one of the highest compliments, that he loved to receive in his heart of hearts, was when he told Minerva McGonagall that Voldemort had powers he never would, and Minerva said it was only because Dumbledore was too noble to use them. Too noble . That she thought him not only that powerful, but also that good. As though he was someone who was simply incapable of doing such damage. For someone who had done so much damage in his life, some of it irreparable, that was the ultimate compliment he could receive, especially from someone as principled and intelligent as Minerva. That she thought so highly of him, said a lot about the character that he presented to the world. A character who was eternally calm, collected, and brimming with a powerful control, and capable of handling any situation.
The truth was that Dumbledore was far from capable of handling every situation. The whole debacle with the Chamber of Secrets was proof of that. He had known that Voldemort was somehow within the castle again, for the second time in two years, and as soon as he realized it, immediately vetted his staff. But aside from Lockhart being an idiot and a fraud he sought to expose, they were harmless. So the only option was that Voldemort had to be controlling a student, but who?
It would have been a gross overreach of privacy to simply invade the mind of every student who crossed his path, but Dumbledore would be lying if he said that the fleeting thought hadn’t passed his mind. He spent the better part of the year combing through the castle while invisible, trying to find the culprit, searching through his pensieve memories of when things had happened the previous time for clues. He was certain it was a basilisk, and he considered warning the school, but if anyone else found out, it meant closing the castle, and losing the student who was being controlled by Voldemort forever. Who knows what havoc a Voldemort possessing the body of someone perceived as innocent, and possibly (probably) from a light family, could cause? He needed to keep everything together in the school.
Despite being sacked as headmaster, he never really left. He had meant his words to the invisible Ron and Harry about not being gone from Hogwarts when there were those loyal to him — Minerva kept her same office and quarters and allowed him to stay in the headmaster’s suite, taking his meals away from the great hall, as they were confident that the farce of his being fired would be reversed and indeed it was.
But even then, even when he was confused, and frustrated by Voldemort’s actions, Dumbledore felt like he had a handle on what was going on. He felt like he would be able to go forward and make do with what was happening. But with the current state of affairs, he found himself at somewhat of a loss. Killing a dementor was supposed to be impossible, even with fiendfyre — the Department of Mysteries had infamously tested it and he had seen the record of the horrific results. And yet someone or someones had killed half the entire dementor population in one night. The same night that two Spanish mages came to the ministry and gave a dead man to a newly minted auror in the form of a live rat, thereby throwing their judicial system, and Dumbledore’s own sentiments, into a jumbled mess.
Because if Peter Pettigrew was alive, and if the testimony he was reportedly spewing about that night was the truth, Dumbledore, and the entire ministry, had made a mistake about which man they had put in the prison that was hell on earth. Another thing to add to the list of Dumbledore’s irreparable mistakes, and one that had been haunting him ever since he learned of it. An innocent Sirius Black made so much sense that it made Dumbledore feel ashamed and like a fool. Somehow he had let himself fall into the prejudiced trap that because Sirius was a Black he was a member of the dark, even when Sirius’ own personality was the antithesis of that of his family, and Dumbledore couldn’t see past the name to the person. How could Dumbledore, he who prided himself on second chances, not give Sirius that chance?
Dumbledore stared at the newspaper, still brooding. There was yet another article about the Black case, calling for the man to turn himself in for questioning, promising release as long as the Pettigrew testimony of Black’s innocence could be corroborated. Dumbledore only hoped that Black was able to get a paper and find out the news somehow, and sane enough to take them up on it without any undue problems.
He turned over the paper. There was another ad for help wanted at ‘Ivory Innovations.’ That store had become quite popular in the past few months, Dumbledore had noticed. They were very careful to toe the ministry line, but he liked how they used muggle ideas to make wizarding products, and even elevated beyond what muggles thought of using wizarding imagination. He had perused the shop the few times he had a moment to spare in Diagon Alley — only once or twice — but he had enjoyed himself immensely, and he admired the drive of the people who created the place. He was about to turn the page, when he paused, noticing an odd coincidence.
Dumbledore didn’t believe in coincidences.
In the ‘employee testimony’ section of the ad, Mary Cattermole specifically called out her supervisors Elena and Sebastian as welcoming her to work like welcoming her into a family. But Elena and Sebastian were the names of the people who brought in Peter Pettigrew to be questioned by the aurors. That the same pair of names — foreign names — be connected in these two separate situations was reason for at least a light investigation. It was probably nothing, but still, something about this set Dumbledore on edge.
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Harry Potter was a bit on edge. It was a wonderful feeling, to have a parent. And one he’d not ever had before. The entire previous timeline he had lived his life thinking that his only parents were James and Lily Potter, and by the time he had developed a concept of what family was and what it could be, they were long gone. When he was thirteen — the first time he was thirteen — he had found Sirius. But that Sirius had never told him that he was his father. Harry had suspected, of course; how could he not? The Sirius of the old timeline had constantly referred to him as ‘son,’ had spoken of both James and Lily with a pained love and affection that spoke to a deep bond between the three of them, and most tellingly, there was more than one occasion wherein Sirius seemed on the verge of revealing what seemed to be a large secret, only for them to be interrupted, or for Sirius to second-guess himself. But the confirmation from the Sirius of this timeline, the chance to grab at this new opportunity — it was almost too overwhelming for him to handle. In some ways it simply was too much for him to handle.
For all that he had the memories of an adult, Harry really was thirteen again, and his hormones and his magical power were fluctuating all over the place in the advent of the emotions flooding through his body. Family was what was most important to him, and for a long time now that family had been limited to simply Hermione and Luna. They each took care of each other, but what they had was a partnership of equals. Sirius was a parental figure, someone to look up to. While a part of Harry felt like he had long since outgrown the need for that, a larger part of him knew he never would, and that the scar from never having that need fulfilled when he was younger ran much deeper within his psyche than the one on his forehead.
Troubled, he tried to return to the task at hand, his arithmancy homework. Arithmancy was a class that he had never taken his first go around at Hogwarts, but he knew that he could never stand to stay in Divination. Harry had for a long time thought Arithmancy was just the wizarding equivalent to math class, except that this one helped with spell work, but it turned out he had drastically misinterpreted the discipline.
Yes, arithmancy had a lot of numbers, but it was a very different kind of math than he was used to in muggle school. Arithmancy was actually a branch of divination, except that rather than concentrating on divining the future, as Trelewney’s class did, their Arithmancy class focused on calculating precise details regarding the unknown. Arithmancy was used for risk assessment when creating a new spell, ritual, or ward schema (it had, in fact, been essential to their journey to the past); it could be used to evaluate compatibility of magical treatments to unknown ailments in healing, and in diagnosing those ailments in the first place; it could be used to disambiguate combined strands of unknown magic and divine their purpose; and was foundational in creating the matrices needed for creating complex magical enchantments.
Harry had a patchwork knowledge of Arithmancy, but he had never actually learned the basics, just a middling of the more advanced work from peering in on what Hermione and Luna were often up to. So unlike Hermione and Luna, who were breezing through all of their classes, Harry had at least this one that he still had to work at. He was annoyed that he had left the assignment for this late, because his head was still swimming with all of the revelations about Sirius, who, with all the excitement, had settled down for a nap while Harry quietly worked at the table they had acquired to make it easier to eat meals together in the trunk that passed for a studio apartment.
Hermione and Luna were off having alone time, which Harry didn’t at all begrudge them. Though he was close with them — much closer than the appellation of “brother” that they had assigned in the face of a lack of understanding among the various social groups they were a part of — the two women did need their space to be alone together sometimes. And there were other times where Hermione and Harry or Harry and Luna had alone time as well. And of course they all enjoyed the time they spent together. Their relationship was theirs, and they refused to call it odd, for all that they knew others might see it as such, especially their parents. Harry had been apprehensive about what Sirius might think, but now that he knew for sure about Sirius’ relationship with his parents, now that he knew Sirius was one of his parents, well, it didn’t really seem as though Sirius would have very much a problem with Harry’s relationship status.
Harry sometimes wondered what it would have been like if he had travelled back with only Hermione, or only Luna. He was pretty sure it would have destroyed either of the women to see their partner as only a child, effectively dead. Because these people were not the people they had known and loved. And he supposed they each would have thought the same about seeing a younger version of himself. That, and his younger self was an idiot, woefully ill-equipped to deal with a dark lord.
His gaze lingered toward his sleeping father again. Sirius looked peaceful. He was sleeping without nightmares, finally, a consequence of a charmed necklace that Hermione had created and Harry had imbued with the essence of his patronus. Its healing properties were helping ease Sirius’ pain, but the three of them knew that one charmed necklace wasn’t going to fix everything. Sirius would need to start seeing a mind healer as soon as possible if he wanted to regain his memories, and continue at a steady pace down the road to recovery. There was only so much they could do as Hogwarts students. Harry tried to return his attention back to his arithmancy homework, but he read the same paragraph three times, and didn’t internalize any of it.
Harry’s mind was wandering all over the place, and he couldn’t help the gnawing worry growing in his gut that Sirius wouldn’t be healed in time for Harry to live with him, and Harry would have to return to the Dursleys. Harry, being twenty-eight years old and rid of the Dursleys for over a decade, thought to himself that he should have been over it by now, that the idea of this shouldn’t make him this upset. But the voice in his head that sounded suspiciously like his old therapist reminded him that the Dursleys had abused him for over a decade, that his feelings were valid, and one does not simply “get over” years of trauma, especially when they occurred at a young age.
Before his thoughts could spiral, Harry decided to grasp onto a different line of thought. Quidditch. He was so pleased to be able to play again. Being cooped up in Grimmauld Place, hiding from the government, had meant that he had given up his most favorite thing, flying. When he was younger, he thought that Quidditch was really the only thing that he was good at. Harry had never really been that successful of a student, and really, the only reason he was so advanced now was because the third-year curriculum was literally child’s play to someone who was not only an adult, but had been locked up with nothing to do but study and plot for years.
But Quidditch was what he truly loved, and more than anything he loved being on the Gryffindor team. And this was the original team as he remembered it. The seven of them were unbeatable, and this time, with no dementors, there was no way Cedric was going to beat him to the snitch. Maybe it was petty — especially given that Harry was now an adult — but that small part of Harry that was a jock at heart was supremely pleased that they had arrived early enough in the timeline that he could restore his undefeated streak and no one but he, Luna, and Hermione would be the wiser.
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Hermione and Luna may have been trying to have alone time, but this was somewhat inhibited by the fact that Crookshanks was with them. Cats, and Crookshanks in particular, loved attention, and when the ginger half-kneazle saw the two girls cuddling on one of the armchairs in Hermione’s trunk, Luna half in Hermione’s lap, he decided that this was a prime opportunity to leap into the fray and make himself at home there as well.
Neither girl particularly minded — they wouldn’t have let Crookshanks follow them into the trunk in the first place if they didn’t want him around — but it was a good thing that Hermione and Luna were young again, because they weren’t sure that the chair could have accommodated two grown women and a large cat. But as it stood they were currently in the shape of preteen girls, and so the chair was plenty roomy enough for the three of them.
“I don’t think I particularly fancy being twelve,” Luna mused as she scratched Crookshanks behind the ears.
“Oh?” Hermione asked, fiddling with a bit of Luna’s hair. The ability to run her fingers through Luna’s hair was often a mild pastime of hers, because it had no real consequences. Her own hair needed constant attention and preservation, and was the source of the only instances of bonding she had ever had with Lavender Brown, which was when she and the wizard-raised girl discussed hair care and Lavender introduced her to anti-shrinkage spells, magical twist outs, detangling potions and charms, and a variety of magical methods for a considerably shorter wash day.
“It’s just,” Luna sighed. “I really miss my boobs? They were never big, but they were there. And this whole body feels so strange. I’m Luna, but I’m not? When we came here, I remembered everything in 2007 like it was the day before, and I remembered everything in 1993 like it was the day before, and my brain is reconciling the two in a way that just feels so strange sometimes. It’s like I’m two Lunas. Am I twenty-seven or am I twelve? And I’ve made my peace with it. But when I think about it too much it’s like my head is filled with wrackspurts, even though I thought I was clear of them,” Luna sighed, and lent into Hermione’s touch.
“I know what you mean love,” Hermione pressed a kiss to Luna’s forehead. “We’ve been going so fast, working so hard at things — even right now I feel like we should be working, but you were right for us to take this break — that I haven’t really been fully letting myself think about, not really wanting to think about what it means to be in this body. I’m a bit better off — fourteen is better than twelve — but I don’t much fancy this either. I’ve been getting looks that I don’t appreciate, especially because all the people in this school are children.” Hermione’s face was screwed into a grimace. “I know we’ve both discussed being open to the idea of having other partners, but I couldn’t bear to date anyone this young — even the seventh years are children ten years my junior. And all of them see me as only fourteen and a third year, so for them to want to date me is just squicky in the reverse. As for what you said about actually being twelve —” Hermione hesitated. “I don’t remember anything about this timeline other than my original memories of being this age, I had to read my own diary just to figure out what the date even was.” Hermione bit her lip. “I just… consumed my younger self. That Hermione is dead now.”
Slowly panic and horror started to rise in Hermione’s expression, and Luna stopped petting Crookshanks (much to the cat’s displeasure) in order to grasp Hermione firmly by the wrists and twisted to look her directly in the eyes (the cat hissed, dislodged from their laps). “Deep breaths. Come on, in and out. You did not kill your younger self Hermione. You are Hermione. That Hermione still exists within you, even if you don’t consciously realize it. You’re… lighter here. We all are, the three of us. There was a darkness to our souls, a pain of loss that we had in the future that was healed by our younger selves. There was a weight that was lifted. You are quicker to laugh now. You’re also quicker to anger, and quicker to panic,” Luna quirked her lip. “You contain multitudes.”
Hermione snorted. “Whitman?”
“You’re the one who wanted me to read more muggle poetry,” Luna shrugged. “Feeling better?”
“A little,” Hermione said with a half smile. “Crooks, do you want to come back? I’m sorry we moved you,” she crooned across the room to where Crookshanks was eyeing them from where he lounged on his cat bed. He stood up, stretched, kneaded the bed, swished his bottle-brush tail at them, and settled on the bed again, faced away from them this time. Hermione snorted. “I’ll take that as a no then.” She pulled Luna even closer (which Luna hadn’t entirely realized was possible) and buried her face in the blonde girl’s hair and whispered a muffled “I love you.”
Luna kissed Hermione’s forehead and murmured “I love you too.”
Fic Recommendation: Lollies and Loki (The Confectionary Chronicles Part 1) by cheshire_carroll on AO3. So this fic starts out really dark, and is honestly like that for a good long while. CW for suicide, self harm, and pretty horrific bullying, though that is really only in a few select scenes at the beginning. (There is some other bullying and betrayal later on, as well as fight scenes that are difficult, but I managed to read them OK.) It’s a Supernatural/Harry Potter crossover, wherein Hermione has an older sister who commits suicide because of aforementioned bullying, and at age 7 Hermione prays to the Trickster God Loki for retribution against the bullies. Her prayer is heard by the angel Gabriel, who in the Supernatural show is also the Pagan god Loki. The series is much heavier on interpretations of Norse mythology than it is on the Supernatural side of the crossover, though that may change in the future stories in the series, as it remains ongoing, though the first pre-Hogwarts fic is completed. Like I said, it starts off dark, and Hermione is incredibly traumatized, but it is a good read if reading this sort of thing won’t trigger you as a reader. I like it mostly for the mythological references, though the darkness of the fic does bother me at times, and I can sometimes only read the lighter scenes, depending on the headspace I’m in.