A Trio of Tricksters: Eclipse the Past, Usurp the Future Chapter Seventeen: Escalation

This is chapter seventeen 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 don’t own the rights to Harry Potter, and they don’t own me.

Author’s Note: This chapter discusses the origins of Christmas and delves into the topic of religion as much as I dared. I promise I’m not trying to be spicy or offend anyone on purpose, this is just how I tried to rationalize why a bunch of wixen would adopt a holiday from a religion that explicitly condemns witchcraft.

Thanks as always to Transreal_Clouden

Chapter Seventeen: Escalation

Christmas 1993 was much more relaxed this go-around. Much to Harry’s surprise, he once again received a firebolt from his father. As much as he had missed his old broom, he had in large part resigned himself to likely getting a different present, given that without the dementors around he never fell off his Nimbus 2000, and so a new broom was not actually necessary. And yet there it was waiting for him on Christmas morning, a brand-new firebolt, courtesy of Sirius Black.

The Durseleys were still technically his guardians, however they had little care for where he spent the holidays, and so he was in the newly renovated Grimmauld Place with Sirius, who had also extended an invitation to Remus, one that his old friend had warmly accepted. Later in the day they were joined by Andromeda, Ted, and Tonks, as well as Luna and Xeno. It became an entire party when Hermione, Keith, and Kate joined them in the evening. 

Keith and Kate were slightly overwhelmed, but on the whole delighted to meet more wixen and to feel included in Hermione’s world apart from them. Remus, who had spent a great deal of time in the muggle world, was happy to explain a number of terms and traditions to them, in particular why many wixen celebrated Christmas.

“I just don’t understand it? With all the persecution of witches by Christianity, why would so many wixen celebrate a Christian holiday?” Kate asked.

“Before Christians celebrated Christmas, many wixen, as well as muggles who worshiped the old gods celebrated Yule,” Remus explained, taking a sip of his mead. “When the Christians came and took over our lands, started to convert us all, there was tension of course, and not just from the wixen. Even muggles didn’t want to given up their worship of the gods. So there was a gradual shift towards Christmas, and the Christian tradition. Now, wixen have magic, most of us don’t truly believe in the Christian God, and truth is many of us don’t believe in the old gods either. But before the statute of secrecy we lived among muggles so closely — and even now there are mixed villages — that not celebrating Christmas came across as odd.”

Keith and Kate nodded thoughtfully. “So magical Christmas is atheist then?” Keith asked.

“For some it is, for some it isn’t,” Remus shrugged. “Some families stick to the old religion still, and then some families are genuinely Christian in one way or another. There are many sects. My other was a halfblood and grew up a faithful member of the church of England, while my father was a halfblood and his family loosely worshiped the old gods, so I grew up with a mix of both. Sirius grew up in a pureblood traditionalist family, but celebrates Christmas because of James, who grew up in an atheist family that celebrated as you guessed,” Remus said with a half smile.

“Talking about me, are you?” Sirius came over to them, swinging an arm around Remus’ shoulder.

“Talking about Christmas,” Remus corrected.

“Christmas!” Sirius said cheerfully. “My mother hated it, Lily loved it, that makes it the perfect holiday in my eyes!”

Remus considered his oldest friend. It was amazing how he could look so happy and so pained at the same time. He decided it was time to change the subject.

“I hope you didn’t have to travel far to get here?” he asked the Grangers.

“Not at all, didn’t Sirius mention? He provided a portkey for us, we came straight from our house,” Kate replied, looking to Sirius.

“I did?” Sirius looked confused for a moment before he seemed to realize something. “Oh, yes, of course I did. Right, gave it to Hermione to give you. Yep. I totally did that,” he noticed that the others were giving him increasingly inquisitive glances and closed is mouth with an audible snap. There was a beat of silence between them, broken by a bout of laughter across the room; Luna had just told a joke that was apparently so funny that Tonks’ hair was cycling through colors. “I’m going to be… somewhere else now.” And Sirius left.

“Is it just me, or was that weird?” Keith looked at Kate and Remus.

“…that was definitely weird.” Remus agreed, and Kate nodded.

AToT AToT AToT

Sirius decided that the kitchen was probably the best bet for an escape, he could claim he had gone there to procure more drinks. As a happy circumstance, he found Harry and Hermione there, doing exactly that. He closed the door so that the three of them wouldn’t be disturbed, and leaned against it. 

“You know, when you’re going to use me as a cover story for your parents, you really should tell me first ,” he told Hermione pointedly. She sighed, and put the butterbeers she had been about to carry upstairs down on the table.

“What happened?”

“I made a fool of myself in front of your parents and Remus, of course,” Sirius shrugged. “It’s fine, I can blame it on the mead. But really? You told them I made you a portkey? Those are restricted you know. I don’t have a license.”

“What?!” Hermione spun on Harry. “Harry, you told me he had a license!”

“I thought he had a license! They’re not that restricted, and Sirius, I know you can make them, you’ve done it before,” Harry said defensively.

“Just because I can do it doesn’t mean I do it legally .” Sirius sniffed at them and their horrified faces before breaking out into a smile. “I’m messing with you. Of course I have my license. But seriously, and don’t give me that face, I know, let me know if you need me to cover up for you. I’ll do it, but I need to know that I need to do it, you got me? Great, now I need to have some of that mead you’ve got there Harry, make my drunkenness more convincing…”

AToT AToT AToT

Remus crept away from the kitchen door as quietly as he could. He would have felt bad for eavesdropping except what he had learned was just another piece of evidence on top of a growing pile of weirdness from the past few months. Ever since he had started teaching at Hogwarts his world had gotten more and more strange. Better, but strange nevertheless. 

From what he had just heard, he gathered that it was Hermione who had made the portkey that brought her parents to Grimmauld Place. But how? She was only fourteen, and beyond the fact that making a portkey was notoriously difficult, how had she gotten past the trace?

It was a testament to how distracted he was that Remus did not notice until the second that he tripped over him that Crookshanks, Hermione’s cat, was lying at his feet. Stumbling over the now hissing cat, Remus apologized profusely, and was surprised at how quickly the cat seemed to forgive him. Crookshanks looked at him with something that looked almost… sad, and Remus was struck again at the intelligence of kneazles. He crouched down and scratched the cat behind the ears, and was rewarded with a pur from the feline.

“I’m very sorry for tripping over you,” Remus said, sincerely. It may have been his imagination, but he could have sworn he heard the response ‘I forgive you.’ It was probably just extrapolating from the nuzzling his hand was now receiving, right?

AToT AToT AToT

As the new term started Harry, Hermione, and Luna became more and more consumed with a new project: reverse engineering Hermione’s time turner. They were well aware that, with the end of the school year approaching, they were nearing the time when Hermione would have to turn in the device, and also the time when she would drop her extra classes. With how much they had going on, taking the time to go through the entire Hogwarts curriculum was wearing on her, and she desperately wanted to be rid of the classes, but knew they were the only way to keep their access to time travel.

By the end of the second week into term they had cracked it, and became eminently pleased with themselves. All of their other projects were progressing apace, everything was going smoothly, there were no ripples, and everything was fine. They should have known it was too good to be true because on the Friday before break, March X, it all went to hell. 

It started out as a typical morning, with one slight variation that made all the difference. It was their first version of the day, and for whatever reason, that day they decided to make day 1 a Hogwarts student day. Their typical habit was to primarily engage in day 1 off campus. If they had done that, they might have been more prepared. Or might not. The fact is that they would not ever know. What they did know was the moment things shifted. It was just as they were settling in for breakfast, sitting together at the Gryffindor table — Luna hardly ate with the Ravenclaws anymore — and Hermione received her copy of the Daily Prophet. The headline spoke volumes, and the day only went downhill from there.

PETER PETTIGREW ESCAPES AUROR CUSTODY EN ROUTE FROM AZKABAN

AToT AToT AToT

“What do you mean you lost Pettigrew?” Director Amelia Bones asked patiently, looking at her two aurors, the one who had just spoken sporting a black eye and an uneasy expression, the other clearly brimming with anger under their forcibly calm expression.

“What Martins means ,” said Tonks, teeth clenched, “is that he was in a bit of a hurry last night when we were transferring Pettigrew from Azkaban. He forgot the animagus suppression cuffs. And rather than tell me that he had only secured the prisoner in cuffs, or sedating the prisoner, or halting the transfer to retrieve the proper cuffs, or any other number of standard procedure options, he lied by omission , and let me remove the prisoner from his secure cell, unsedated, and as we arrived back on the mainland and prepared to portkey back to the ministry Pettigrew shifted form and escaped into the night. I attempted to summon him, but he must have been out of range.”

“I see.” Amelia said after a quiet moment. “And what do you have to say to this, Martins?”

“She punched me!”

“I punched you, Martins, because you called me an idiot and a dark witch for rightly pointing out your negligence in letting a prisoner escape borders on collusion and then attempted to hex me! It was a move of self defense and your wand history proves it,” Tonks snapped.

“I was trying to hex Pettigrew!” Martins protested.

“Right, you were trying to catch a rat with a stinging hex? Pull the other one,” Tonks scoffed.

“Enough!” shouted Amelia.

“Martins, I am placing you on probationary leave, pending a formal investigation. THIS,” she shouted to cut off his objection “was a decision I had already made based on reading both of your reports, only confirmed by these verbal testimonies. You are dismissed , Tonks, please stay.”

Martins stomped out of the office, slamming the door behind him, and both Tonks and Amelia breathed a sigh of relief when he was gone.

“I loathe that man with every fiber of my being,” Tonks finally slumped into the chair in front of Amelia’s desk. They had been standing and awake for far too long and were exhausted.

“I apologize, if I had it my way, you never would have been put on rotation with him, he never should have been an auror, honestly. I don’t know how he made it through all the training,” Amelia muttered.

“It’s not your fault,” Tonks waved her off. “You’re the Director of the entire Department of Magical Law Enforcement, not just the Aurors. Us rotten lot are headed by that pillock Scrimgeour. Oh don’t give me that face, you don’t like him either.” When Amelia opened her mouth to protest Tonks held up their hands. “Don’t, don’t say anything auntie, I don’t want you to choke out a lie and I don’t want you to say the truth where unfriendly ears may hear,” with a laugh Tonks sat up. “Has it been long enough that we can pretend you chastised me for punching that tosser in the face like he deserved?”

“What happened to unfriendly ears may hear?” Amelia asked with a raised eyebrow. “And as satisfying as it may have been….”

“The best revenge best revenge is well-thought out, planned with prejudice, and implemented when one has an iron-clad alibi,” Tonks completed her sentence in a monotone voice. “I swear, you are the most Slytherin Hufflepuff I know.”

“All the best Slytherins are Hufflepuffs,” Amelia smirked. “Now get out of my office, I have to deal with this mess, and you have paperwork to fill out. And a cousin to talk to. Pip pip.” 

Tonks groaned, and given the prospect of talking to Sirius about the fact that his traitorous ex-best friend was on the loose again, did not even have to fake a disgruntled expression as they left the office of the DMLE/ their adoptive aunt and one of her mother’s oldest friends.

AToT AToT AToT

Meredith Greengrass, Andromeda Tonks, and Amelia Bones had been best friends since September 1st, 1965. At age eleven, their names were Meredith Prewett, Andromeda Black, and Amelia Bennett. This was, after all, 17 years before Meredith would have an affair with Daniel, eight years before Andromeda would elope with Ted, and twelve years before Amelia and Tabby would get married on a cold beach in Wales.

On that September 1st, the three young girls had no idea what their future would hold. All they knew was that they were scared to leave home for the first time. They were worried about not having any friends. But they felt drawn to each other, and over the six hour train ride they found out that they liked the same books, the same games, the same magical subjects, and so they decided that, no matter their houses, they would stay together as friends. (A rather handy thing, as all three ended up in a different house. None of them were in Gryffindor, but Andromeda, deciding to lean in to her Slytherin nature, claimed it was for the best. 

Throughout their Hogwarts career the three of them met routinely, exploring the secrets of the castle, discovering all the knowledge they could get their hands on, each of them the top of the year in their house, each of them a prefect. It was anyone’s guess which one of them would get Head Girl, but in the end pureblood politics won out and it went to Andromeda, not that Amelia or Meredith particularly begrudged their friend for it. 

After graduation all three women joined the unspeakables, though Amelia “left” the experimental magic division after two years to join the Auror core, just as the war against Voldemort started to heat up. As more higher-ups died, she rose through the ranks. In July of 1981 Amelia’s wife of nearly four years and partner of seven, Tabby, died in an attack orchestrated by Death Eaters. Two months later the entire Bones family, save baby Susan, who had been taking a nap and was protected by the ignorance of silencing and strong protection spells, was murdered, and Amelia became her sole guardian. Amelia, who had no idea how to handle a baby, often went to Andromeda for help, and the two of them raised their children together.

Andromeda continued working in the astronomical division for years. It was truly amazing what magic lay in the stars and beyond, and she was consistently struck by how foolish people were to think that Earth was the only place alive in the universe. She sometimes feared the magic that they studied there, and wondered if they might start something they could not finish. 

Not long after Amelia started taking care of Susan, Meredith began a relationship with the newly single Daniel Greengrass, a former Death Eater sympathizer and a man of which neither Amelia nor Andromeda approved. Initially she only wanted to receive information from him but made the mistake of mixing business with pleasure and fell in love with the man. She then had what Andromeda deemed a “temporary lapse in sanity” and married him. Despite her claims of happiness, that illusionary bubble popped when she became pregnant and he demanded she stop working, not just for the duration of her pregnancy but also forever after. His reasoning was that she could not both work and take care of both their daughter and his daughter from his previous marriage. He added further insult to injury with claims that she had been neglecting his daughter Daphne and was not a good stepmother to her. Meredith, who had doted on Daphne ever since she met her and was utterly wrapped around the little girl’s finger, was flabbergasted at the accusation and at his overall audacity. 

And yet because she loved Daphne and she knew how much it had hurt the little girl to lose one mother, she couldn’t bear to force her to lose a second, and there were benefits to working in the time division. She volunteered for a research study on the long-term effects of time travel, and signed on to live out every day of the next twenty years twice. Meredith worked seven days a week, but as far as her husband was concerned, she never went to work again.

AToT AToT AToT

Harry, Hermione, and Luna had hardly recovered from reading the article when they were suddenly beset by even more post. Harry had received three letters, Hermione and Luna each got two. 

“This is from McGonagall, she asked that I go to her office after breakfast, I’ve been excused from class,” Hermione frowned.

“I’m the same,” Luna mused. “We’re to go together. You, Harry?”

“Yeah, but Dumbledore. My other letters look like they’re from my dad and one from someone named MPG. Ow!” He had tried to open the mysterious letter, but quickly withdrew his hand. “It shocked me!”

“It’s a time-delay rune. Mine has got one too,” Hermione explained, before turning to her wife “I’m assuming that’s why you haven’t tried to open yours, Luna?”

 “Of course,” Luna held the envelope gingerly. “I think it should be ready to open around one o’clock?”

“I think you’re right, mine too. Shall we try to meet up around then? I expect it’s the same for yours Harry.”

“Um, hate to intrude but why exactly are you going to bother reading letters from someone who is setting you stinging envelopes?” Ron asked. Ginny and Neville were also staring at them with no small amount of incredulity.

“Someone went through all this trouble to make sure that we read the letters at that exact time of day,” Harry shrugged. “We might as well see why.

“Unbelievable you are,” Ron shook his head.

“You could show it to Dumbledore during your meeting?” Neville suggested. “Maybe he might have some ideas?” 

“Yeah,” Harry shrugged again. “Maybe.” Unsettled, Harry returned to his toast. Eggs made him feel a little too queasy.

AToT AToT AToT

“Miss Granger. Miss Lovegood. Do you know why you are here today? Why I have cancelled my seventh year NEWT class to meet with you and why Professor Dumbledore is meeting with Mr. Potter as we speak?” Professor McGonagall asked sharply. Hermione and Luna shook their heads, but there was a sinking feeling in the pit of their stomachs.

“Miss Granger, at the start of last term I entrusted you with a very precious magical object. Powerful. Some might call it sacred even. I campaigned for you Miss Granger,” Professor McGonagall’s words were biting. “I said, ‘Miss Granger is the most responsible student you will ever meet.’ I said ‘Miss Granger is the last person on this earth who would abuse such a privilege.’ I said ‘Miss Granger will surely  never let us down.’” Professor McGonagall looked at Hermione coldly.

“Professor I —” Hermione started.

“The next thing you say, Miss Granger,” Professor McGonagall spoke in a measured, even, tone. “Better not be a lie.”

AToT AToT AToT

On the outside, Dumbledore was the picture of calm. He took a deep breath, and when he heard a sharp knock on his door he called “enter.”

It was Harry Potter, of course. Well, he was fairly certain that it was Harry Potter, more or less. His current working theory (one that he freely admitted to himself was quite mad) was that there was a piece of Voldemort in Harry’s scar, either a horcrux or something very like it, that due to contact with the diary had broken free and had melded with Harry’s soul, blending their personalities and becoming a composite persona, accounting for Harry’s advanced abilities and changed behavior.

It was a working theory. One that would be tested by this conversation.

“You wanted to see me, Professor?’

“Yes, Harry, now, if you recall. Last year I asked you, if there was anything you wanted to tell me?” Dumbledore peered at Harry over his glasses. He found that, despite the fact that he saw better through his glasses, if he peered over his glasses that gave people the impression that he was studying them closely. There! He could tell Harry was getting uncomfortable. Good. Interesting. He could always make students uncomfortable, he knew, but he wondered if an adult Voldemort would be uncomfortable? But if this was a blended persona there could be enough of Harry… hmmmm. A thought to ruminate on.

“I suspect that, at the time, there were things you wanted to tell me, but felt you couldn’t. I wonder, if that is also the case now?”

Interesting, Harry had straightened, then loosened, forced relaxation, convincing too, maybe. To someone who was not Dumbledore. He wondered where Harry had learned that. It was not something Tom ever did, always stiff, and it was not something Harry knew how to do the year before, always skittish. 

“There’s nothing that comes to mind, Professor,” Harry shrugged. “I mean, I’m upset that Pettigrew has escaped, but that isn’t something I can really do anything about, is it?”

“But you were the one who caught Pettigrew, weren’t you?” Dumbledore asked, with a false nonchalance.

“I’m sorry?” Harry did a double take.

“You, you caught Pettigrew. And turned him over to the wixen who brought him to the DMLE, or possibly you brought him to the DMLE yourself, under disguise, how are you getting past the trace, by the way? Whatever you’re doing is very clever, I should figure out how to work against it,” Dumbledore mused.

“I really don’t know what you mean headmaster —”

“Did you know, Harry, that as headmaster I can track every movement within the wards of the castle? I just need to tap into the matrix and open the ward map; it’s quite simple. I think your fathers and their friends even reverse-engineered a lesser version while they were here, though you didn’t hear that from me of course,” Dumbledore winked before flourishing his wand and to Harry’s horror a large map appeared on his desk  “See, right now, we are here in my office and…” Dumbledore looked at the map and sighed “you know, this isn’t quite what I planned, but it’s probably better if you come inside the office than lurk outside the door.”

His office door opened and Harry was surprised to see Luna, Hermione, and Professor McGonagall.

AToT AToT AToT

“Professor I’m sorry. But I cannot tell you anything without talking to Harry and Professor Dumbledore,” Hermione exhaled slowly. She had admired Minerva McGonagall for over half her life, and the look on the other woman’s face right now was killing her, but Hermione stood firm.

“Excuse me? Miss Granger, I am your Head of House and you have broken several Ministry Laws!”

“I understand that you are upset right now Professor, but I cannot comment on this subject until we are in the presence of Harry and Professor Dumbledore. I don’t need a private audience with them, I’m perfectly alright with you being there for the conversation in its entirety. But I won’t say anything more without them,” with that Hermione closed her mouth and stared blankly ahead. 

“And you, Miss Lovegood?” Professor McGonagall turned to Luna. “What do you have to say?”

Luna shrugged. “I stand with Hermione. And Professor Dumbledore is talking to Harry right now, it seems like the perfect opportunity to have the conversation you want to have.”

McGonagall closed her eyes and held her hand to her temple. May the gods save her from obstinate children.

AToT AToT AToT

“Now that we are all gathered,” McGongall snapped, her accent thick, “will one of you explain to me why you have been so thoroughly reckless regarding both the laws of the ministry and of time.”

“Yes, I was getting to that,” Dumbledore sighed. 

The trio looked at each other, lost. Somehow they had never discussed what they would do if their present-day time travel ever got discovered like this. They had vague plans but now realized that all of them relied on having forewarning of the discovery, and the fact that no future self had busted in to save them meant… this was it. It was disturbing to realize how much they had begun to rely on time travel to solve their problems. They had believed themselves to be invincible, unstoppable. But really they were just running themselves so ragged they did not see the wall in front of them.

Dumbledore flourished his wand again and conjured five comfortable seats so that they could all sit in a makeshift circle. If those of the trio were slightly more plush and thus harder to get in and out of that was a them problem.

“While you are explaining your illicit use of time turners, we would also like you to explain the identities of Elena and Sebastian Alfaro, the purpose of Ivory Innovations, and whether, why, and how you exploded a horde of dementors. Lemon drop?”

There was a quiet beat before Luna said “I’ll take one, thank you,” and so then Dumbledore realized he didn’t actually have them, they were on his desk, so he had to summon the bowl, which he handed to Luna. She looked over the bowl thoughtfully for several seconds before carefully selecting the one she wanted, but there was another one stuck to it, so she and Dumbledore tried to pull them apart from each other, but then he spilled the saucer entirely, though Hermione had thoughtfully caught it in mid-air with a spell, so there really was no harm done, and just as the bowl of lemon drops was safely back on his desk and he and Luna each had one to eat Harry blurted out:

“We’re from the future!”

Author’s Note: I got the quote “The best revenge is well-thought out, planned with prejudice, and implemented when one has an iron-clad alibi” from The Confectionary Chronicles series by cheshire_carroll, which I’ve recommended before. It’s about a Hermione who was partially (primarily) raised by “Loki” (Gabriel) from Supernatural.

Note also that I have reasons for making Amelia Bones married into the Bones family and it deeply pained me to kill off a lesbian because I despise the “bury your gays” trope with an ardent passion. I’m still trying to come up with a way to work it into the narrative properly but TRUST that Amelia does have a bae and they are happy and content right now. I just need to make it relevant to the story, which is hard because I have stuffed it so full of characters. That’s my bad! I really did want Tabitha to live, but I accidentally forgot to write her into the earlier chapter with Susan so… sorry about that. Authors are not infallible, alas.

Fic recommendation: Emrys Ascending by tricksterity. This is one of my FAVORITE Harry Potter/Merlin crossovers, I absolutely adore it. Summary: In the depths of the Crystal of Neahtid, Merlin sees the resurrection of Lord Voldemort, an event that will tip the balance of the world so far out that only he has the power to intervene and set it right, or stop it from ever happening. For that, he’ll have to pose as a student and attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The only problem is, he’s been chosen instead of Cedric Diggory as a Triwizard Champion, and there’s a recently reborn Arthur Pendragon in Gryffindor House.