This is chapter eighteen 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: I apologize for the short chapter, but the next scene felt forced if included here. I didn’t actually win NaNoWriMo this year, so new chapters will not be coming at as rapid a pace as you the readers, or I the writer might like, but I do hope that you will consider the wait worth it. A big thank you to all of you who have taken the time to leave kudos and write such lovely reviews, I promise that I read every one of them. Many thanks, as always, to Transreal_Clouden! Now, on with the show!
Chapter Eighteen: A Wrench in the Plan
The story came out in fits and starts, and Dumbledore and McGonagall both looked at the trio in a kind of fascinated horror and with no small amount of disbelief as Harry, Hermione, and Luna told the story of how their lives had unfolded in the alternate timeline. Dumbledore knew his previous belief that Harry could have been an amalgamation of Harry and Tom was false when Harry began describing how Voldemort was able to rise from the dead by drawing on the horcruxes’ power, and thus was forced to start contemplating the truth that was being spoken to him.
“But that’s obscene!” interrupted McGonagall, as Harry began to describe how Umbridge had taken over the school and used her blood quill against students. “Why didn’t you go to a teacher about it? I cannot believe that we would have done nothing!”
“But you did!” Hermione cut in before Harry could speak. “Harry tried to go to you but you said you could not go against Umbridge! The ministry is too powerful, they could have removed all of the half-decent professors from Hogwarts and then… well, you’ll see what happens when we get to talking about what would have been our seventh year,” Hermione continued darkly before falling silent again.
Harry ploughed on with his explanation, Hermione and Luna continuing to add on bits and pieces. McGonagall continued to be skeptical, Dumbledore impassive, but increasingly convinced, until Harry got to talking about the summer before his sixth year.
“…and all this time the headmaster was searching for the horcruxes, and he found one, I don’t know where, I suspect perhaps the shack where the Gaunts lived, though I’m not sure. It was a ring, a ring more powerful than Voldemort ever knew. It holds what is called the resurrection stone,” Harry stared directly at Dumbledore, who for once looked as startled as he felt to be scrutinized so heavily. “The Headmaster, who recognized the stone, was possessed by a compulsion on the ring, and subject to a rotting curse on his hand, and was only barely saved by Professor Snape. After that he had only a year to live, and so extracted a promise from Snape that when the time came, he would kill the Headmaster, to spare Draco Malfoy the burden and solidify Snape’s position among the Death Eaters as a spy for the Order. Such a good spy that even the Order didn’t know he was on our side,” Harry rolled his eyes.
“You disagree with the actions of my future self?” Dumbledore asked with a raised eyebrow, his composure back.
“You-you mean to say that you believe them, Albus?” McGonagall sputtered.
“They have knowledge far beyond what they should for their age, and they know far more about me than I’ve allowed anyone by myself to know,” Dumbledore replied mildly. “Furthermore, they’ve predicted actions that I never would have predicted I would take and yet I immediately know that if given the opportunity to make the same choices those are the ones I would make. They’ve already disrupted the present so thoroughly that the future they are predicting will never come to fruition as they remember it, so if we are to prevent Voldemort’s rise and defeat him — as I can confirm Mr. Potter is in fact prophesied to do, we should listen to what they have to say,” he shrugged. “I for one am very curious indeed about what went so wrong that they deemed time travel the only option and why it is only now, when forced, that I was allowed into the loop, when they clearly know I have ample resources in the fight against Voldemort.” Dumbledore turned from McGonagall back to Harry. “By all means, Mr. Potter, continue.”
“I didn’t tell you, professor, because you set me up to die.”
For a second time that conversation, Dumbledore was visibly startled. And as Harry explained how his scar contained a horcrux, and that the future Dumbledore had theorized the only way to remove it was Harry’s willingness to walk to his death at the hands of Voldemort, he grew more and more disappointed with himself, and gripped with a kind of terror. Is this what he had become? Someone who sacrificed children for the greater good. There was equal parts accusation and understanding in Harry’s eyes as he stared at Dumbledore, whose inner turmoil was sealed by outer turmoil.
“I refuse to believe this!” McGonagall was starting to lose her temper entirely. “I don’t know what sort of game you’re playing, but this is ridiculous! You cannot possibly be serious about this — this vision of the future that you’ve put forward, this agenda you’re pushing! Who are you really? What is it you want? Why —”
“Minerva,” Dumbledore was quiet, but the sound of her name was enough to cause McGonagall to pause. “I don’t think that they are lying.”
“Albus?” she whispered, a kind of horror in her voice.
“I can see how a version of myself would come to the conclusions and undertake the actions Harry has described. I do not particularly care for him, but I recognize myself in the man that young Harry has described.” He turned to Harry. “I’m not him, so I know it does not mean quite as much. But for what it is worth, I am sorry my dear boy. And you can trust that I will do everything in my power to help you remove the horcrux without causing your death at the hands of Lord Voldemort.”
“Thank you, Headmaster,” Harry nodded. “That is meaningful to me, and I would appreciate your help removing the horcrux, if it weren’t already gone.”
“Gone? You’ve somehow removed it already?” Dumbledore questioned with interest.
“When we traveled to the past, our present souls melded with our future souls, and the horcrux was destroyed in the process. When I woke up in 1993 it was gone, though I didn’t realize immediately because it had already been gone for so long I forgot what living with it was like.”
“But was it destroyed, or did it merely flee?” Dumbledore pressed.
“I am fairly certain it was destroyed, headmaster,” Luna interjected. “The magic we used to travel back in time was very powerful, I do not think it has even been fully developed this early in the timeline…”
“Are you okay, professor?” Hermione had gotten out of her chair to kneel next to McGonagall’s. The older woman appeared to be in a kind of shock.
“I… don’t know Miss Granger. If you are Miss Granger,” McGonagall looked at her suspiciously.
Hermione shrugged. “Technically I’m Master Lovegood. I took Luna’s name when we got married a few years back. It’s actually been very strange to have people call me Granger again, honestly, but I’m getting used to it. This has been my name for most of my life after all. And I had Masteries in both Ancient Runes and Charms. Gods, I’m going to have to do a lot of work to get those back,” she mused.
McGonagall shook her head. “The things you’ve been saying… they’re mad. But I must be mad too because I’m starting to believe you.”
Hermione grinned. “Now you’re getting it.”
AToT AToT AToT
It was an exhausting morning, and McGonagall ended up cancelling all her classes, not just the one for the seventh year students. But despite themselves, they got through it, and managed to fill Dumbledore and McGonagall in on the past future timeline, and their reasons for travelling back to 1993. They skirted around the question of what exact lengths they were willing to go to when it came to reforming the ministry and wixen society, but touched on the fact that the primary purpose of their growing business empire was indeed laying the groundwork and acquiring the funds for future political ventures.
The only place where McGonagall and Dumbledore would not budge was that the trio needed to stop their illicit use of Hermione’s time-turner, as its recent usage would be trackable by the department of mysteries once it was returned, and so it needed to have clean usage for at least three months before Hermione turned it back over to them. The trio, who had been completely unaware of the tracking feature, thanked the professors profusely for warning them, and agreed that they would minimize their time travel use from then on.
After leaving Professor Dumbledore’s office they had a quick lunch in the kitchens so as to avoid any questions as to why they had been gone for so long, before heading to the room of requirement, which they decided was the best place to read their letters from the mysterious “MPG.”
At one o’clock they each opened their letters, and for the second time that day their world got turned upside down.
AToT AToT AToT
Dear Mr. Potter,
I hope that you will forgive the sting on the outside of this letter. I placed a time-delay spell because I did not want you to open it at breakfast. You see, what I am going to reveal to you is best read away from the prying eyes of a school full of children.
We have never met, but over the years, and particularly over the past few months, I have gathered quite a bit of information about you. I will not yet tell you my name, but I will explain my situation. You see, I am the foremost expert on time that there is in the whole of Great Britain. Or at least I assume so. The majority of my associates are long gone, or below me in terms of seniority and expertise. But if there is one thing I have learned in my many experiences, it is to never make assumptions.
I confess that I have wondered many times how to approach you. I have not been sure how receptive you and your associates would be to my intrusion on your life. But the slim evidence that I have been able to gather indicates that you have benefited from my research, and so the major question I have, is how? How did we cross paths in the terrible times that are to come? What about the future of our world was so awful that the three of you turned back time?
When you are ready to answer I will find you.
Meredith Prewett Greengrass
Senior Director Unspeakable
Master of Time
AToT AToT AToT
Hermione pinched the bridge of her nose. “I feel a headache coming on.”
“You mean you didn’t have one already?” Harry laughed. “My head’s just been a consistent throb.”
“We should have known she’d find us, given that she is alive in this time period. Especially now that we know how conspicuous our time travel with the ministry turner has been,” Luna pointed out, her voice purposefully light. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there are trackers on it that even the professors didn’t know about, that even we didn’t, see.” Luna looked pointedly at where the time turner was hidden underneath Hermione’s sweater.
“You think she knows?” Hermione asked.
“I think we shouldn’t assume that there isn’t anything that she doesn’t know,” Harry said grimly.
Hermione screwed up her face. “Please refrain from triple negatives, they make my head hurt.”
“The fact of the matter is ,” Luna pressed on. “We should have better prepared for the fact that Meredith Greengrass might notice we modified her time travel research to travel back in time. The fact that we didn’t is our current problem to deal with.”
“Do we really think she is going to cause too many problems for us?” Harry ran a hand through his hair.
“I don’t know,” Hermione bit her lip. “Meredith is a bit of a wild card. She died just after Astoria and Draco got serious, he mostly smuggled us her research to keep it out of the hands of Death Eaters after Astoria and Daphne’s deaths. Do we even know what she was like?”
“Well, we know she wanted her research out of the hands of Death Eaters and blood purists, that’s a good start,” Luna pointed out.
“That doesn’t mean we can trust her,” Harry cautioned.
“I know that, I’m just trying to see the positives,” Luna hummed.
“Should we arrange a meeting with her? I mean, obviously we will have to, but how soon?” Harry wondered.
“Soon,” Hermione replied shortly. “And the sooner the better. We’re underprepared, certainly, but we need to get to her before she approaches us again — it might already be too late.”
Author’s Note: I only posted this a couple of hours ago, but this has already come up a couple times in the comments, so a quick edit: In Meredith’s letter to Harry she says that she isn’t going to tell them her name, but then signs with her name, which has been a little confusing for some folks. What she meant was that she wasn’t going to tell them her name at that point in the letter — as in she wasn’t going to tell them her name until they had read the entire thing and got to the end, and only then they would realize who she was. I hope that clears things up!
Fic recommendation: Honey and Magic by JustARatherVerySillyWriter and White_Squirrel. The premise is that Matilda gets her Hogwarts letter, with her first year taking place during Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. It’s basically canon except for Matilda is there, and I like it quite a lot, there are a bunch of small changes that make the story an absolute delight.