This is chapter fifteen 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: I do not own the rights to the Harry Potter franchise.
Author’s Note: Hi, it’s been a while. This story is my priority for NaNoWriMo, so you should be getting more content from me, but the world often doesn’t want us to have nice things so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ That said I’ll do my best because I really do want to get this story finished for y’all. Thanks to Transreal_Clouden for beta-reading this project. I deeply appreciate your insight, as always.
CW: This chapter digs deep into house elves and particularly Kreacher, including some toxic thought patterns and suicidal ideation on Kreacher’s part, none of which I agree with or am trying to portray with positivity. I will say that things brighten up significantly for Kreacher by the end of the chapter, but there are some rough moments for him.
Chapter Fifteen: Freedoom
Even after everything he had gone through in the past few months since escaping Azkaban, the weirdest one still had to be the time travel and seeing alternate versions of himself. He turned from his mirror call with Harry to see Harry again, that was typical, but seeing himself was weird. Seeing how uncomfortable seeing himself made himself was even weirder. The recursivity gave him such a headache that all either version of himself could do was laugh.
Eventually, it got to the point where Harry cut in a took the younger Sirius by the hand and underneath the invisibility cloak, the two of them sneaking out from the hospital’s wards before apparating to the edge of the Hogwarts wards, where they met with a younger version of Harry. Sirius was traded between them, and as one version of Harry Potter bid his father adieu and left for Hogwarts, the other turned back time.
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Sirius was surprised to find that they had turned back almost an entire twenty-four hours.
“Why have we gone back so far?” he blinked.
“I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to completely wreck my sleep schedule,” Harry snorted. “Now come on, there’s a place I’ve been meaning to visit.” Taking his father’s arm in his hand again there was a sharp crack, and they were transported to the streets of London.
Harry swore. “This stupid young body! My apparation used to be silent.”
“One day you’re going to tell me why you talk like that,” Sirius said, bemused.
“Talk like what?” Harry asked with faux innocence.
“Talk like you’re older than you are.”
“I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” Harry said with a furrowed brow.
“Ha! Yeah, pull the other one, kid. You’re too old. You have been since I met you. I can tell something’s up. I know I haven’t been here for you. Not… not like I should have been. I’ll never forgive myself for that. But I think I know you enough to know that you are not exactly the typical thirteen-year-old, if you are thirteen at all. So, one day you’ll tell me your secret.”
“Do you have a theory?” Harry asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Well, either you’re the reincarnation of Merlin —”
“Oh?” Harry laughed.
“Yes, and Hermione and Luna are Arthur and Guinevere, respectively.” Sirius’ lip twitched.
“Or you’re really from the future. Which, given where we are, doesn’t seem like such an impossibility,” Sirius frowned. “Why are we here?”
Harry looked across the street from where they were standing on a patch of unkempt grass to stare at Number 12 Grimmauld Place, invisible to muggles but not yet under the fidelius charm.
“There’s someone I need to talk to. And there is something that needs to be destroyed.”
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Four and a Half Months Earlier, May 30th, 1993
Kreacher was an elf of simple habits. Every day he would wake up, clean his mistress’s portrait, try to destroy the locket, punish himself, cry, occasionally eat some of the food that he was preventing from rotting only by the strength of his magic, and go back to sleep. There was not much else to do, given he could not leave this house. One, last, twisted order from Walburga Black had been laid down on him, in her final days, when she was at her most delirious, that Kreacher was forbidden to leave the house until she or another Black by blood and name gave him permission to do so. She had been paranoid that he would reveal her secrets to outsiders.
However, after she died, there were no Blacks by blood and name left. The most ancient and noble house of Black had fallen, all its members married out or died, its sole heir locked away in Azkaban. Narcissa Malfoy had been allowed in by the wards of Grimmauld Place and was able to have Walburga’s body removed, her funeral arranged, but nothing could be done for Kreacher. The only person with the power to free him was Sirius Black. And no one could inherit Grimmauld — or Kreacher, until he was dead. Narcissa sent him food when she remembered, which was not often, and then she seemed to permanently forget.
When these brief food deliveries occurred, they were completed by Dobby, who Kreacher thought was a bit mad, because he once openly mentioned to Kreacher the idea that he wanted to be free. Kreacher considered this to be mad because he could not for the life of him understand why an elf would voice such a thing when there was a chance their master or mistress might hear. Then again, what kind of stakes would Kreacher have in telling anyone, other than to get Dobby in trouble? Still, Kreacher missed Dobby’s visits, and he missed the food. He had not had fresh food in nearly two years now.
Occasionally, Kreacher would try to clean, but much to his dismay, he found that a kind of miasma had spread throughout the house, making it a breeding ground for some of the darker creatures that existed in their world. Kreacher did not entirely mind. Perhaps one of the darker creatures would kill him, and then he would not have to live this life. But any time he thought something like this he would be struck with the immediate dread of the fact that he had not destroyed the locket, his heart would grow weak from the blow, and then a steely resolve would fill him.
He had to destroy the locket. He had to. And not because it was an order. But because no one had ever cared for Kreacher. No Black had ever cared for a house elf, in the entire time that Kreacher or any elf Kreacher knew had served them. But Master Regulus cared for Kreacher. More than Mistress Narcissa and Mistress Bellatrix, who were only friendly when they wanted something that they knew their parents, aunts or uncles would not let them have, Master Regulus genuinely cared for Kreacher. Master Regulus was Kreacher’s friend. And Master Regulus had been destroyed in the effort to destroy this locket. This locket was the reason that the only person who had ever cared for Kreacher was dead, and it had to be destroyed. And so, when Kreacher punished himself every day, it was not because of latent orders from a dead master, it was the self-castigation of someone who felt they had failed their only friend.
Kreacher had never had another friend, not even amongst house elves. He did not have a very likeable disposition, but that was mostly because he was miserable and had no friends. It was all a bit circular. Dobby could have been Kreacher’s friend, but Kreacher had not seen Dobby in quite some time.
Some might call it a twist of fate, but just as Kreacher had that thought, there was a knock at the door. No one knocked at the door. Why would anyone knock? No one ever came here except Dobby, who was a Malfoy elf and could apparate because of that. Mistress Narcissa could also apparate, but why would she?
Another knock came, just as timid as the first.
Kreacher hesitated before going to open the door. It was Dobby.
“Dobby?” Kreacher croaked. He realized, startled, that he had not talked in quite some time. The portrait of his mistress had been sleeping for the past few months, the entire house quiet. He did not know the last time he had drank water, or even eaten.
“Hello Kreacher,” Dobby said hesitantly. “Could I come in?”
“Why does Dobby have to ask?” Kreacher opened the door wider as he let Dobby inside.
“Dobby has been freed. I am no longer a slave to the Malfoys,” Dobby told Kreacher simply, much to the latter’s shock.
“And you chose to come here?”
“Where else might Dobby go, but to look for other house elves who might also wish to be free? I know that Mis— Narcissa stopped sending you food,” Dobby hesitated before taking a parcel out of the small bag he carried with him. It contained a roast chicken, preserved by magic to be piping hot. “I took this from a muggle shop. I don’t have work yet, so in the meantime I must make do by stealing from muggles. I thought you might also be hungry.”
Kreacher tried not to obviously salivate at the fresh food, something he had not had in so long it nearly brought tears to his eyes.
“Dobby knows that Kreacher can never have freedom. Not while Master Sirius is alive and in Azkaban,” Kreacher said with false resolution, eyes still on the chicken.
“We’ll see about that later. In the meantime, is there a place where we can sit to eat?”
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Dobby was not able to convince Kreacher that freedom was possible, but he did promise to keep bringing Kreacher meals, stolen from muggles across the country. He did his best to only steal from the larger chain stores and those that could afford losses, but it was hard having to steal everything he needed all the time. More than anything Dobby wanted a steady job and to live an honest life, indeed, he wanted that freedom for all of his house elf friends, but again and again they would tell him that living a free life was too risky. Look what it was costing Dobby himself?
That was why Dobby was so pleased when he found his job at Ivory Innovations. Mary was an excellent supervisor, and she paid him well above what he had expected anyone to pay an elf. She even helped him find lodgings, which meant that Dobby no longer had to take the risk of living under the roofs of unsuspecting wixen by the grace of their elves. His relationship with Kreacher had deteriorated ever since Sirius Black had broken free, the two elves having vastly different stances as to what this development could mean.
Dobby thought that this could be a very good opportunity for Kreacher because with Sirius’ return Kreacher could make a bid for freedom, but Kreacher was certain that Sirius, given his hatred of his family, would die or return to Azkaban before returning to Grimmauld Place. Dobby tried to insist that the hatred of his family was exactly why Kreacher would be freed, but Kreacher insisted that he was more likely to end up dead, and that was the end of that conversation.
Still, Dobby used his job at Ivory Innovations to try to make Kreacher more comfortable, to the extent that Kreacher would let him, because despite himself, Dobby liked Kreacher.
When Mary asked Dobby if there were any other elves who might be interested in work, or who would be interested in freedom in general, the whole story of Kreacher’s imprisonment came out. Immediately after her conversation with Dobby, Mary wrote a letter to Sebastian asking if he could get in contact with Sirius Black and alert him to the situation at once.
Rather fortunately for all involved, the Sebastian who received the letter was Harry Potter, and the day he had set aside to visit Kreacher was one he wanted to spend with his father anyway.
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“I knew my mother was a sick woman, but that is cruelty I wasn’t — you know what, I take it back, she was fully capable of it,” Sirius sighed after listening to Harry’s explanation of Kreacher’s situation. They had reached the front door, and Sirius opened it easily, the house instantly recognizing him as a Black and the rightful owner.
The front hall was a bit dusty — an understatement, but something easily fixed with three rounds of scourfigy — and then there was a pop, and Kreacher was there, wide eyes staring.
“Master Sirius has returned,” Kreacher croaked. “And he brings a young Master with him.” Kreacher didn’t like to show genuine deference to the Master who had run away, but Dobby had warned Kreacher that he had told his supervisor to tell Sirius about Kreacher, and that, should Kreacher have the slightest hope for freedom, he should hold his tongue around Sirius and anyone he brought with him.
“Hello Kreacher,” Harry said with a friendly smile. “We’ve come here for a few reasons. Firstly, we heard about what Walburga did, and regardless of any further actions taken today, we will be lifting the restriction put upon you to never leave this house.”
Some tightness in Kreacher loosened.
“In fact,” said Sirius. “Kreacher, you are to consider my late mother’s order that you never leave the house cancelled. I do request that you stay here for now, so that we can talk to you about a few more things.”
Kreacher felt the invisible chain that he had almost forgotten was there break. He was not free, but he was no longer bound to this one location. Marveling at the feeling, he decided to stay silent, wondering what Master Sirius and the young Master, who he knew to be Harry Potter, would have to say.
“Kreacher, it is my understanding that Regulus gave you a locket. A locket you are meant to destroy,” Harry said, continuing in his kind tone, but with a firmness to it.
Kreacher froze, his elation at having freedom to leave the house at last gone in an instant.
“How do you know about the locket?”
“I wish to destroy the locket, Kreacher. I know how, and we can destroy it together, like Regulus wanted,” Harry told him earnestly.
“Destroy it how?” Kreacher asked warily.
“With this of course,” and from his pocket Harry drew the sword of Gryffindor, looking extraordinarily pleased with himself.
“Where did you get that?” Sirius asked him with raised eyebrows.
“Nicked it from the headmaster’s office on my way to pick you up. He won’t miss it. Luna put it back right after I took it,” Harry winked.
Sirius shook his head and muttered about how teenagers with time travel were asking for trouble.
Kreacher beckoned them to follow him to the drawing room, and he carefully took the locket out of the case. He laid it down on the coffee table with equal parts loathing and reverence.
“Eh, is anyone going to explain to me what’s so important about this locket?” Sirius asked.
“Oh, right,” Harry blinked, as if noticing Sirius for the first time. “The locket causes a kind of single-minded focus…. Even if that focus has negative consequences for the locket. This is an object called a horcrux. It contains a piece of Voldemort’s soul inside of it. I’m going to destroy it with this sword.” Harry paused, noting Sirius’ flabbergasted expression. “You… night want to take a few steps back.”
A hiss and a swing and a screaming locket later, Harry was being hugged by a house elf.
“Well this was unexpected.”
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“So, let me get this straight,” Sirius said, clutching his tea in the kitchen basement of Grimmauld Place. “You’re from the future.”
“Right, I had suspected that, and you killed Voldemort.”
“But the Pureblood supremacists still won.”
“So, your solution was to come back in time and start up a tea shop, blow up dementors and start a clothing line? And you’re only just now dealing with the horcruxes?”
Harry sighed. “It’s more complicated than that Dad! There’s a lot going on here that’s hard to explain over one cup of tea,” Harry grumbled. All the same, part of Harry did feel that Sirius had a point. The diadem was in Hogwarts, there was no reason they could not have already destroyed it, or that they could not have harvested the basilisk yet. They were not seeing the whole picture.
“And what is your plan for Kreacher, eh? You haven’t gotten to that part,” Sirius gestured to the house elf, who had been sitting awkwardly at the table ever since Harry had made them each a cup of tea and insisted Kreacher sit with them.
“Right! I’m so sorry Kreacher. There is indeed a plan in place for you, if you are interested in it, that is.”
Kreacher blinked at him. It had been odd to hear from the young Master about a future version of himself, who had fought in the war against Voldemort, been a veteran of the final battle, only to later lose his life to a pureblood wizard. Harry Potter spoke of his older self with a mournful sadness, as though they had been quite close.
“Kreacher,” Harry hesitated. “I didn’t have you here for this conversation in vain. I’d like you to come work for me, as my personal assistant. Hermione, Luna, and I, we’re becoming weary of the constant time travel, we need someone that we can trust to run our affairs. In the future, there was almost no one we trusted more than you. If you’d like the position —”
“But of course, Kreacher must do what young Master wishes,” Kreacher said, confused.
Harry sighed. “I’m doing this out of order again. Kreacher, my father Sirius and I were planning to ask whether or not you want to be a free elf. So, you do have a choice. My preference is to hire you as a free elf, to be my assistant, for which I would pay you a wage, but you also have the option of seeking other employment. I’m certain you could get a job elsewhere at Ivory Innovations or try your luck outside the company. If you would like to stay bound to the house of Black that is also an option, but I don’t expect that to be your preference.”
Kreacher stared at Harry with wide eyes. Yet again the young (or perhaps not-so-young) wizard had him speechless.
“Can Kreacher have some time to think about it?” he said after a short while. Harry and Sirius nodded. Sirius looking down into his teacup and trying, as he had been ever since he walked through the door, not to overthink about the fact that he was back in his childhood home.
Harry, meanwhile, decided to go about cleaning up the kitchen. It was already the cleanest room in the house, given that it was one of the only rooms Kreacher actually used with regularity, but Harry’s mission was a simple one: make it as unlike itself as possible in order to make Sirius as comfortable as possible.
The first step was cleaning, and so Harry first used the strongest scouring charms he knew on absolutely every surface. Next, the dour grey walls were hit with a permanent color-change charm to a sunny yellow, which instantly brightened the room. The cabinets, previously a dark brown stained black with grime were now a bright blue. The cool cupboard, a charmed equivalent to a refrigerator, was a soft lavender. The white tiled floor, chipped and stained, was buffed clean, the chipped tiles smoothed out so that the entire floor was one, flat, gleaming surface that swirled white and sea green. For the pièce, de résistance, Harry created an enchanted window, which looked out to the street outside.
“OK,” shrugged Sirius. “I believe that you’re from the future.”
“Oh?” said Harry.
“No thirteen-year-old could do that. Where did you learn so many household charms?” Sirius asked.
Harry laughed. “In the last few years, it got dangerous to leave the house until the point where we just couldn’t anymore. We were trapped here, and even in a big house that gets boring, fast. So, we learned a lot of interior design magic, if nothing else so that we could pretend we had moved house every few months and were living in a different place. We changed colors, textures, moved furniture around. It was our little way of keeping ourselves from going mad. Mind you. This is an easy place to go mad in. No one deserves to be trapped.” Harry stopped his musings and gave deference to Kreacher, who looked as though he had something to say.
“I would like to be free. And I will keep your secrets, Harry Potter. And the secrets of the House of Black. On my life and on my magic, I will not reveal with intention that which is said in confidence.” There was a flash of light as Kreacher’s oath was solidified.
“Fantastic,” Harry beamed. “Sirius?”
“Oh! Right, yeah,” Sirius reached into his pocket and pulled out a pair of socks. “I had been wondering why you had me grab these. Here you go Kreacher!”
Kreacher caught the socks, and a brilliant smile lit up his face.
“Great, now Kreacher, you’re free to stay here as long as you like, this has been your home and we’re not gonna put you out on the street. That said, I’ll wager you probably want to get some fresh air,” Harry pulled out a bag of galleons. “Consider this your pre-signing bonus. We’ll work out a real one once we actually sign you on. In the meantime, I’ll leave you be, since I think I’ve probably overwhelmed you enough today. I’ll send you an owl in a few days with a draft contract. C’mon Dad, I want to see if any theatres are still showing Jurassic Park, I bet you’d love it.”
And with that Kreacher was left in the newly clean and redecorated kitchen, completely shocked at how in the span of only a couple hours his life had completely changed, this time for the better.
Fic recommendation: No Trains On Sundays by Welcome_to_Illyria on AO3. It’s a REALLY cute wolfstar fic. All-muggle AU, just, absolutely adorable, no lie. Please check it out, make sure you pay attention to the tags for CWs.