This is chapter fourteen of A Trio of Tricksters: Eclipse the Past, Usurp the Future. To learn more about the series click here.
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.
Disclaimer: Look, all I’m saying is that if I owned Harry Potter there (hopefully) wouldn’t be so many resentful fans writing time travel fix-it fanfics. There would be more respectfully critical fans writing fanfics (though I won’t pretend some wouldn’t be fix-its, I’ve been known to break the hearts of my readers, just never in a bigoted way) and I wouldn’t be referred to by many as someone who destroys their own franchise and makes it hard to enjoy the nice things.
A/N: Thank you to every reviewer & commenter, ever favorite and kudo warms my heart to bits as I squee and energetically text Transreal_Clouden and/or cyborg_goddess to a degree that is probably a little bit exhausting, but I appreciate them putting up with it. I am sorry for the delay in updating, but as you may have noticed, things are… not great. And when I’m in a bad headspace bad things happen to my characters (just look at poor Oliver Wood….) in any case, I figured it was best to take a breather from this fic for a while, which is why there was a pause. But I’m back! For at least this chapter. We’ll see how the creative mood strikes me. As some of you may have noticed I’ve posted a few oneshots in the interim, mostly Doctor Who, though one of them is in this very universe…. (see endnotes.) In the meantime, I hope you enjoy, and I am happy to have you here with me, Hermione, Harry, and Luna, as we attempt to fix the wizarding world.
Chapter Fourteen: I See What You Did There
Elizabeth Mirkwood wasn’t pacing in her office out of anxiety. No. She was, indeed, pacing in her office, but it wasn’t out of anxiety, it was out of irritation. The wizard she was supposed to be meeting with had been scheduled to arrive twenty minutes ago, and yet he was nowhere to be found. He had sent no note that he was going to be delayed, there was no indication that anything was stopping him. The weather outside was fair, there were no crowds or anything of note scheduled in the public today, and there was never any traffic because they were wizards and could apparate . And he certainly could, because he was one of those stuffy wizards who apparated everywhere, just because he could. She could smell it on those types. Besides that, he had been late to every other meeting with her, so it was to be expected. He didn’t respect her time.
Blowing her hair out of her face in frustration — it had fallen out of her up-do — she took out her wand and waved it around her head, using a charm to fix her hair in place once more. She sighed before sitting behind her desk, and practicing the smile she put on her face whenever she had to deal with someone she didn’t like but would not take kindly to her being “unsociable” “unfriendly” or “cold.” Those sorts of things could get her in trouble. But she couldn’t be too friendly. That was “forward” “unprofessional” and “uncouth” “improper” and the like. But, the twenty minutes were up, so he was due in the next five or so.
Sure enough, six minutes later, her secretary announced that Mr. Bigglesworth was here to see her.
“Lizzie! My dear, how are you? Sorry I was late, I had a, um, thing to do,” he chortled.
Smile fixed on her face, wondering if the “thing” was a subordinate, and how much longer in her career it would have to be before she could see this man in court, Elizabeth replied, “Good to see you too, Mr. Bigglesworth. Won’t you have a seat?”
“Of course, of course, how is your husband?” he asked.
“My wife is doing fine, thank you. Now, I called you here because I wanted to talk about the lease on this space,” Elizabeth started. Mr. Bigglesworth was the landlord for her offices in Diagon Alley. He had previously also been the holder of the loans that helped her set up her practice, being the father of one of her friends from Hogwarts, a pureblood, who had sponsored her study of wizard law and had been the only reason that a muggleborn could study law. Elizabeth owed a lot to Mr. Bigglesworth, and that was the only reason she put up with him. Thankfully, all of their financial ties, save the lease, were cut, and his daughter, the friend who had helped sponsor her, was off in Peru, living in sin with a muggle, and persona non grata as far as her father was concerned.
“Yes, I did mean to talk to you about that, I know that the increase in rent is a bit much, but businesses are booming in the alley these days, and the inflation means that to keep up, I need to raise my prices. The range of the increase can be flexible but —”
“I’ll cut to the chase Mr. Bigglesworth,” Elizabeth began in a crisp, steely tone. “We at Mirkwood, Tobias, and Drake, are prepared to sever our lease upon its natural termination on January 31st and move our offices as soon as January 1st if necessary. We have already found a potential new location for our offices, and they have offered us a rent-controlled office space at a significantly lower rate than what you have been charging for the last five years. We are sorry to end what has been a fruitful business relationship, but we cannot afford to let go of what is such a large financial boon.”
“Lizzie, come now, how long have we known each other? And you’re going to just break that relationship for some new chump who you don’t even know, who doesn’t know the value —”
“Mr. Bigglesworth, my future business concerns are only your business concerns to the extent that we organize when Mirkwood, Talbot, and Jones will be exiting from this property and moving to our new location,” she replied sharply, still refusing to raise her voice as she stared him dead in the eye. “I simply need you to sign the following documents acknowledging that our lease will be terminating at its natural conclusion and will not be renewed. It’s a formality, but will save a great deal of hassle on your part with the Ministry.
Mr. Bigglesworth huffed. “Fine, but you’re going to regret this Lizzie. You don’t know what kind of men these landlords can be, and throwing in your lot with the first man who makes you an offer isn’t the right way to go. That’s how girls get hurt.”
Elizabeth narrowed her eyes and replied in the same even but hard tone she had been using throughout the conversation. “Mr. Bigglesworth, I am not a girl, I am an adult witch, who has been certified to practice law in both the magical and muggle worlds for over a decade. I have a breadth of experience dealing with clients from all walks of life, and you will find that I am quite experienced in financial matters. You are an overbearing oaf of a man with a sense of entitlement and self-serving ego that have been the bane of my existence and a thorn in my side for nearly twenty years. Your unprofessional and overly familiar attitude is something that I have tolerated for far too long, and that tolerance is something that ends today. Sign these papers and leave my office, or you best believe that I will see you in court.”
“Are you threatening me?” Bigglesworth asked, outraged.
“Not at all,” Elizabeth replied. “I am simply returning the courtesy that you have treated me with in all the years that we have known each other, and giving you simple options that you will be capable of understanding. Mirkwood, Talbot, and Jones will no longer be leasing this space come the end of January, and that will happen with or without your consent, I just want to make things easier for you, and pave the way such that someone less experienced with how the world works can understand, and not get all confused with things they shouldn’t have to worry about, given their status and station in life.” Elizabeth let her smile turn into a bit of a smirk as Bigglesworth went red in the face while she repeated words back to him that had once been said in the opposite direction.
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Susan Bones was a bit of an idiot, a bit more than the average Hufflepuff. Or at least she was by Daphne’s estimation. The girl was her childhood friend, and she adored her for that reason, but she wasn’t as smart as she thought she was by half. Susan was one of those girls who thought she had the whole world figured out, and thought she was capable of figuring out the things that she didn’t. Moreover, she saw the world the way she wanted to see it. Susan didn’t have imagination; because she thought she understood the way things were, she didn’t often look much further than surface level. She thought she was capable of changing the world when she hadn’t even really seen most of it.
Daphne knew better. And she didn’t really dislike Hufflepuffs — she had done lessons before school with Geoff and Josie Shacklebolt, twins in their year, who she was still friendly with, not that Susan particularly noticed, or if she did, Daphne was pretty sure she interpreted it as Daphne being friendly with Susan’s friends. Susan was rather sheltered; she had been raised by her aunt, Amelia Bones, the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. Susan had lived with her ever since she was a baby, because the entire rest of her family, including her grandparents, mother, father, uncle, his wife, and their children, her cousins, were all killed in an attack by Death Eaters while celebrating her grandfather’s sixtieth birthday.
Due to the trauma of the experience, Amelia had done the unfortunate combination of coddling Susan and raising her to believe rather highly of herself and her abilities, particularly her non-existent intuition, without giving her the ability to develop very many life skills. Susan was very kind, and loyal as any Hufflepuff, but she was also very certain that she was always right. Daphne had long since learned that when someone was convinced that they were always right, the best thing to do was to make sure that she fit into their worldview from their perspective.
So to Susan, Daphne was someone who was only really friendly with her, and her friends. Susan thought that she was in some sort of elite club, where only she had Daphne’s true affections. It was perhaps not the nicest thing to do to a person, to convince them that they were your only friend, but if Susan was silly enough to think Daphne that dependent on her for friendship, then she was a fool.
All that said, Susan was a useful fool. Susan hadn’t been in her pre-Hogwarts lessons group, being that Daphne’s had included a number of children whose parents had been Death Eaters, and Amelia had very little patience for that. But Meredith Greengrass, Daphne’s stepmother and the mother of her younger sister Astoria, had been Amelia’s best friend at Hogwarts, and so Susan and Daphne would often have playdates while younger, while the friends chatted and baby Astoria slept, and later on Astoria would be incorporated into their games, with Susan starting to think of her as her own little sister. It was only when they were around seven and started learning the basics of magic, and Daphne’s father Daniel insisted that Daphne join a lessons group that included the children of Lucius Malfoy and Thaddeus Nott, well, that was the end of Susan and Daphne’s friendship, and functionally the end of Meredith and Amelia’s.
When they got back to Hogwarts Daphne and Susan became friendly again, Susan deciding that she needed to break the ‘cold’ demeanor that Daphne had taken on. In reality, it wasn’t so much that Daphne had become hardened to the world, as Susan had assumed, it was that being in Slytherin and dealing with all the politicking that entailed was difficult and she had a reputation to maintain.
Daphne’s mother had been a halfblood — the worst kind of halfblood, being that one of her parents was a muggle. It would have been one thing to have a muggleborn parent, but it was widely believed (and even Daphne wasn’t sure) that Daniel Greengrass hadn’t known that his wife’s estranged mother was a muggle until after they were married and she was pregnant with Daphne. They were Sacred Twenty-Eight after all. Everyone in their study group was, save Greg, Vince, and Mandy, though that was a technicality, because her mother was a Fawley and Brocklehurst had been considered a magical family for ages, and that the Crabbes and Goyles weren’t considered Sacred Twenty-Eight was one of the reasons that list wasn’t given weight in as many circles as it should have been.
The fact that Daphne was technically mixed blood — “basically a halfblood” in the hissed words of Pansy Parkinson — meant that she had a lot to make up for. That she was Black on top of all that only made things more difficult for her. While things weren’t as bad for her as they might have been were she a muggle at one of their institutions, they weren’t great either — there were many, such as Pansy Parkinson and Rebecca Burke, whose families held a very limited vision for what British wizarding society should look like, and it was one that didn’t include “foreigners.” Daphne often scoffed at this, because Pansy seemed to be all over Draco, and his family was French. Draco himself came from a family that cared more about blood than about skin color or ethnicity, though he apparently had a great aunt or something on the Black side of the family that had survived marrying a Potter without getting disowned, a small miracle.
In many ways, Daphne’s only friends were the other Black purebloods and some halfbloods at Hogwarts. That wasn’t to say that they ignored the muggleborns. But the muggleborns of Hogwarts tended to band together across the board, creating a divide that only some of the halfbloods straddled, depending on whether they’d been primarily muggle or wizard raised. They often had to choose which aspects of their identity they associated with more, and Daphne was sympathetic to how it affected them, but she had chosen her side.
All that said, her side was to not have a visible side. As far as the white students of Hogwarts were concerned, she was cordial to everyone and friends with no one. No friends, no enemies. Willing to lend a hand, and expectant that you would in turn.
All this is to say, the only person who truly knew Daphne was her actual best friend, confidant, and the one person she would trust with anything in the world, Blaise Zabini. Very few people knew how close they actually were, and that’s how they liked it. Blaise, because he felt that the less attention he got, the better, and Daphne, because she wanted the world convinced she had no friends. The popular argument that attachment and love is weakness is false. What is true is that other people knowing who you love is a weakness. And Daphne didn’t tolerate weakness.
Currently, Daphne was sitting in her favorite spot in the library, tucked away in the farthest corner from the entrance, not near the restricted section, but near the records section, specifically where the school records were kept. Here were the syllabi for every class ever taught at Hogwarts, starting from when they started keeping record of that sort of thing, around the twelfth century. Almost 800 years of syllabi. No one ever bothered her back here.
Except Blaise of course.
“What,” Daphne asked in a flat tone when he slid onto the bench next to her. She wanted to finish this transfiguration essay before the weekend properly started so that she would be able to actually enjoy it without having it loom over her head, in addition to all the weirdness going on with Potter lately. It was why she had gone straight to the library when it opened at six, skipping breakfast. She could always have brunch, and she worked best first thing. She’d detoured and grabbed a scone from the kitchens and eaten it on her way there to tide her over.
“You’ll want to see this,” he passed her a copy of the Daily Prophet — her subscription must have gotten delivered to him when she was unavailable in the library — and her eyes widened.
“What?” she breathed in an entirely different tone.
“Yeah, and you know what else? They were trying to be slick about it, when we all got our papers this morning the owl that dropped off Granger’s nearly landed in her breakfast, the poor thing and you know how I feel about owls —”
“I know how you feel about Granger,” Daphne muttered, but Blaise continued as if he hadn’t heard her.
“And so I was keeping an eye on them even after that, and when she opened the paper Granger looked like she was reading it aloud to Potter before she stopped all of a sudden and Potter looked at her like there was something wrong, but then Weasley showed up, and she closed the paper and passed it to Potter under the table, and Potter left with food still on his plate — not a whole lot, but you know how he always leaves it polished by the time he’s done —”
“I don’t actually, but thanks for confirming how obsessed you are with him,” Daphne smirked.
“I am not obsessed with Potter! Or Granger. I just — notice things is all,” Blaise stammered. “Anyway, my point is, I think, based on that exchange, that this — “ he pointed at the offending article “must be true, because they wouldn’t be so covert about it if it wasn’t.”
“I don’t know, she might, if she didn’t want him to react in front of people?” Daphne suggested.
“Ah, don’t be thick Daph. You know that can’t be it, or else she would’ve left with him. No, it’s true, it has to be, because almost right after he left the Weasley girl showed up and said something or other to Granger that made her burst into hysterical sobs,” Blaise continued.
“What!?” was becoming Daphne’s word of the day. “Granger, the same know-it-all, practically perfect in every way, all her Grindylows in a row Granger, started crying in the Great Hall?”
“Yeah,” Blaise nodded. “And then Lovegood came in, and was by Granger’s side like she had been summoned, grabbed her bag and led Granger out of the hall, waving away everyone to leave them alone, though of course Longbottom, Weasley and Weasley followed anyway, and that cat was there too. But this definitely means it must be true in some sort of way. I mean, something had to have set her off. And you know what that means?” Blaise asked, a hint smile dancing in his eyes.
“It means a lot of things, but it seems like something in particular has you especially excited,” Daphne drawled.
“Draco might not be the Heir to the House of Black.” Blaise whispered, more out of excitement more than a need to be quiet — there were silencing charms all around each of the group study tables, and Daphne had added her own privacy charms out of her own sense of paranoia. “He’s been bragging ever since that article came out saying that Potter was heir that it could be contested, that even if Potter was Black’s godson he still had more Black blood than Potter does, but if Potter is Black’s son…”
Daphne’s eyes widened in delight at Blaise’s words and she let out a laugh. “Oh, I wish I could see his face when he finds out. That tosser is going to be pissed.”
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Luna Lovegood was displeased. She tried not to have too many negative emotions as a rule, because negativity was bad for digestion and led to rash action, but nevertheless, she was unhappy to walk into the Great Hall on Saturday morning and break from her rather enjoyable conversation with Neville about plants and find her wife sobbing hysterically at the Gryffindor table. Hermione was not one to break into hysterical sobs in public. It was so entirely against her character that Luna found it utterly bewildering, and for once it was her that was wrong-footed, as opposed to her taking advantage of her unique thought patterns to put people off-balance. That particular pattern of hers had once been entirely accidental, but once she had learned to control it more, had become quite useful.
She quickly made her way to the Gryffindor table, slung Hermione’s bag over her shoulder, and gently pulled her wife up off the bench and into her arms, where Hermione started clinging to her and Luna began to rub soothing circles on her back.
“What’s wrong?” Luna whispered.
“N-not, h-ere,” Hermione whispered back in a staggered breath. Nodding, Luna started to gently lead Hermione out of the hall, waving Ginny, Neville, and Ron, who all looked quite concerned, Ginny and Ron getting up to follow them, and Neville never sitting down. Nevertheless, the three Gryffindors followed them anyway, and soon enough the five of them were in the entrance hall, and then through the winding corridors, Hermione’s breath evening out until they settled in the nearest empty classroom, one that had been converted into common study area for students and thus had couches in addition to tables and chairs.
“What’s wrong, love?” Luna asked. Hermione bit her lip, eying Ginny, Neville, and Ron, who were all of them perhaps regretting that they had followed the two girls, but were not sure how to make a non-awkward exit.
“I just — I realized how closed off I’ve been. We’ve been. The stress of… everything, that I’ve been doing, that I’ve been bottling up. It’s getting to me. It feels like it’s been a year when it’s barely half term, and I’m worried that wearing myself too thin, aging myself too fast, if you catch my drift,” Hermione said hesitantly.
“I understand,” said Luna, pulling her even closer (which Hermione hadn’t realized was possible). “It’s hard with so many classes, our advanced studies, and the work we’ve taken on, as well as the legal stuff, on top of the trauma from before,” Luna agreed. Hermione wasn’t the only one who could talk on multiple levels.
“What work?”Ginny asked hesitantly.
“And what legal stuff?” asked Ron.
“Well —” Luna hesitated. “The legal stuff, not all of it is our story to tell. You’ll have to ask Harry about it, and I probably shouldn’t have mentioned it in front of you. As for the work, we took on jobs this summer. Harry knows some people, and they’re involved with the legal stuff, and they started a company. They were looking for some fresh ideas, and they know Daddy runs the Quibbler — we look at the world differently. And Hermione is a muggleborn, so she knows a lot about different ways that the muggle world operates and innovates, and so we’ve been kind of working as junior advisors, and we’ve actually been tasked with trying to find recruits for the company from Hogwarts as well.”
“So you’re what, like spies for the company in Hogwarts?” Ron asked.
Hermione snorted. “Not exactly. We publicly work for them, and we plan to openly approach students. Besides, your mother works for the company too, Ron.”
“She does?” Ron asked, confused. “I didn’t know she worked now.”
“Ron, do you pay any attention? She wrote in her last letter that she’s working for Ivory Innovations now, for their new clothing shop, Apparel of Aphrodite,” Ginny rolled her eyes.
“Hey, I pay attention! There’s just been a lot going on what with my rat being a murderer, I’m a little distracted!”
“He’s got a point there,” Neville mumbled, and Ginny huffed.
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Harry stared at the newspaper, thoughts moving at a mile per minute as he contemplated the best course of action. He and Sirius hadn’t really talked about the consequences of Harry having two fathers. He didn’t know how comfortable Sirius would be about Harry talking about his parents’ relationship, and given that Sirius was the only one of his parents alive, Harry felt like that was up for Sirius to decide. But at the same time, what was he supposed to say to people? Well, obviously there were some people to whom he wouldn’t rise and wouldn’t say anything. But what if Neville asked? Or Ron? He couldn’t say nothing to Ron.
The solution, of course, was in his pocket. And vibrating.
Harry pulled the small mirror he kept in the pocket of his robes and saw, superimposed across his own reflected face, the word DAD in bold black letters.
“Accept call. Hey dad. I assume you’re calling about the paper?” Harry asked, with a wry smile.
Sirius sighed. “I’m assuming that since you’re asking that you also saw it?”
“Yeah,” Harry leaned back against the headboard. “What do you want me to do? What should I tell my friends?”
“They’re your friends. You can be as honest as you like,” Sirius answered with a shrug.
“Really?” Harry’s brow furrowed. “I mean, it’s not my story to tell —”
“And it’s not Rita Skeeter’s either, but it’s in the Daily Prophet, so soon it’s going to be on everybody’s lips. You’re the boy-who-lived, and I’m a recently exonerated criminal who just spent the last twelve years in prison, before being the only one to escape the hell that is Azkaban. I’m surprised that article wasn’t on the front page,” Sirius frowned. “Look, Harry. I don’t want you to lie to your friends. And I’m going to be going to the Wizengamot and declaring you my Heir soon anyway, this just sped up the timeline a bit. We don’t need to feed the gossip, but we don’t need to outright deny it either. Just —” Sirius sighed and rubbed his eyes, before saying quietly, “I wish your mother were here. She always knew what to say and do. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss them like hell. Gods damn that wretched reporter!” Sirius snarled, and at last Harry saw the anger and anguish that Sirius had been trying to contain, had been bottling up in his efforts to not break down in front of Harry.
“Dad,” Harry said hesitantly. “Would it — would it help if I came to visit?”
“Harry, you don’t have to do that. I don’t want you to risk getting caught sneaking out of the castle just for me,” Sirius said, calming down. “I’m the grown-up here.”
“Oh come on, you know I sneak out the castle all the time, and besides — I think I’d like to see you too — for me. I’ve got the cloak, I can break you out and we can make a day of it, what do you say?” Harry offered.
“I say that you are entirely too much like James, and ask how soon you can get here.”
Harry snickered as he heard his own voice and the laughter of a second Sirius come through the mirror. “About right now.”
Fic Recommendation: Yes, I’m recommending another one of my fics because I did, in fact, write another oneshot, guilty as charged! BUT I think that y’all will really like The Houses of Zabini, especially if you liked the scene with Daphne and Blaise in this chapter. I haven’t referenced this explicitly in the main text because its relevance hasn’t been strong enough in the trio’s narrative, but my Blaise is trans. Since The Houses of Zabini is about Blaise’s youth and has a strong focus on his mother and his upbringing his trans identity matters a lot more in that space. The Houses of Zabini is cross-posted on Black Girls Create.