This is chapter nineteen 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.
Author’s Note: The prodigal author has returned! I’m sorry y’all, I have lots of excuses, but I don’t really think that they are useful to get into right now. I hope that you enjoy the new chapter, and I’m sorry it took so long to get here. Thanks, as always, to Transreal_Clouden.
Chapter Nineteen: Junctures
Tiffy had been the head house elf at Hogwarts for 60 years. She had been the de facto leader of the house elf resistance network for considerably less time, only the past 30. Before her, their leader had been Morris, her father, or at least the closest thing she had as she had been bequeathed to Hogwarts in the will of her previous master when she was an incredibly young elf, while the rest of her family went to serve other members of the master’s family and were unable to keep in close contact with her.
She had been raised at Hogwarts ever since, with Morris taking on the role of a parent as her guiding mentor. He was not a Hogwarts elf, but he was well-liked among them, and tolerated because his brother was head elf, and so he could visit quite frequently. Tiffy soon rose through the ranks as a Hogwarts elf, and studied under Morris’ brother Jacks for 13 years before he finally declared her ready to take over for him, and she became head elf in his place. Headmaster Dippet, who was fond of elves in a way few wixen were, granted his request to step down from such taking work without question.
Previous to going it alone, Morris had managed the network with his partner in all things, Perry. The two of them were a rare thing to find among house elves: free. That freedom allowed them many privileges, but also liabilities. They could go wherever they pleased but were treated very harshly by wixen who found that there was no master they had to answer to. Still, Morris, Perry, and others like them had found a way to survive as free elves, planning to found a small community for themselves and for others once they could be freed.
The largest issue with free elves, of course, was the fear that they would break the statute of secrecy. Wixen, by their nature of being human, could pass for muggles. House elves could not, nor could goblins, centaurs, selkie, fairies, and many other magical beings and creatures. Their very existence broke the statute of secrecy, and therefore was highly regulated by the ministry’s department for the regulation and control of magical creatures. This was where the various house elf agencies got their permits to breed and barter house elves.
Perry had registered herself there, as an educator for house elves, several times over the years. Each time wearing a different glamour and choosing a different name. While there she taught many young elves, and while she was supposed to be teaching them according to the rules that her supposed master had ordered her to follow, she in fact was recruiting young elves to the resistance cause.
The trouble came when one young elf slipped up and said too much in front of a wixen, and it was all over. Perry was found out and interrogated, and she ended her own life rather than give up Morris and the others. Still, the young elves were all obliviated, their wixen sympathizers, including the wixen who had all posed as masters to various iterations of Perry, were all tried by the ministry and taken to Azkaban, their families scared into silence. It seemed ludicrous to Tiffy, when just a year previous the Chamber of Secrets had been opened, and many students had been injured, one of them even dying. No one had been sent to Azkaban for that. She had been almost certain then who had done it, and she was even more certain now.
As head house elf at Hogwarts, she had seen many pass through its halls, and she was well aware of what students got up to when they thought no one was watching. Tom Riddle was bad news, and she told Dumbledore, who she knew thought of himself as a house-elf ally, what she knew of the boy, but he still did nothing. Or at the least not enough to stop what the boy would become.
So Tiffy kept watching. Kept an eye on the students, on the castle, and worked with Morris to try and repair what they could of the house elf resistance network, which was in shambles after Perry’s demise, and betrayal by supposed allies among the wixen, who were all desperate to evade Azkaban. It was only Tiffy’s feigned ignorance and Hogwarts affiliation that kept her safe, while Morris was completely on the run. By the time Perry was twenty years gone, the old elf was tired, and told Tiffy that he could not bear the burden of leading, especially when he could not rest easy.
So, with Dumbledore’s tacit approval, Tiffy began running the resistance out of Hogwarts. They were still small, not even a dozen of them left in 1965, but over time they grew slightly larger, until about half the Hogwarts elf population, about fifty, formed their core membership. As the war with Voldemort began to truly rage throughout the 1970s, they became more active, working to try and protect and rescue elves in unsafe living conditions, those who were being continually abused by masters who practiced the dark arts in particular.
Tiffy made an agreement with Dumbledore that he would free a small majority of the elves within the network from the bond with Hogwarts, and they would continue to work for the school, some of them also working as spies for his Order of the Phoenix, a secret that not even other, wixen, members of the Order knew. She herself could not be freed — as head house elf of the castle, the bond was necessary for her to stay connected to the school, a fact that she bitterly resented. Other elves, she knew, chose to stay enslaved in order that Dumbledore would not know their true numbers. He was an ally, but not one that they trusted.
Still, Dumbledore did not go back on his word — not exactly. Once Harry Potter defeated Lord Voldemort, the house elves were not re-enslaved. But they had nowhere else to go. No one else would take them in to work for pay. Tiffy began working to reignite Morris and Perry’s old plan. They would try to find a place just for house elves. Away from muggles and wixen. The more they looked, however, the more impossible it seemed to find anywhere like that in the British Isles. Wixen and muggles and other magical beings and creatures had claimed every scrap of land there was, or at the very least were monitoring it. They would have to seek the help of wixen again, they would have to trust them. She could not go with anyone too brash, anyone who would not listen to their wants and needs. Someone who wanted to impose their vision of what house elves wanted was not someone she thought could really help them, only cause further harm. She did not want what happened to Perry, to all the others, to happen to anyone else.
It was part of why she was startled, and fearful, to see the young elf Dobby so boldly asking for wages, to be paid for his work. When she first heard the whispers of it, she was astonished, that there was an elf who was putting himself forward and not being obliviated or killed for his needs and demands. When she found out that he had found paid work — that was when she knew she had to get someone from the network in contact with these people at Ivory Innovations.
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Luna was grateful for Hermione. Her wife was nothing if not organized, and she had long since lost her zealous belief in authority. Something plainly evidenced by her easily planning their departure from the castle to meet with Meredith, blatantly disregarding the orders of Dumbledore and McGonagall. Luna or Harry could have probably arranged the same, but Hermione did so with a speed and efficiency that was to be admired, and if there was one thing that Luna enjoyed it was admiring her wife.
She was grateful for the fact that Hermione had done so in a way that would be entirely defensible should they be questioned. By way of a quick call with Sirius, the ‘official’ reason that the trio were leaving the castle was because Sirius was renegotiating the legal details of their junior ambassadorship with Ivory Innovations, and he wanted them onsite for the final signing. It was amazing, and slightly frightening, how accommodating Sirius had been lately. She worried about him, but without having him at Hogwarts with them, the trio was not able to check in on Sirius as much as they had been before.
“Hey there kiddos, ready to go?” Sirius asked with a jovial smile as he joined Harry, Hermione, and Luna, who were waiting by the Hogwarts gates with Professor McGonagall.
“Yes dad,” Harry said, with a small smile. Almost any other twenty-something stuck in the body of a thirteen-year-old would probably be embarrassed to be so publicly greeted by their parent, but Harry nothing if not atypical, and gave his father a big hug. “Good to see you. How’s Remus?”
“Fussing over me insisting he stay at Grimmauld. As usual. Right, let’s be off then!”
“And you’ll return my students on time I trust?” Professor McGonagall pressed, looking at them with a raised eyebrow.
“Of course, Professor,” Sirius said, with a charming smile.
McGonagall huffed. “Well, I won’t keep you. Potter, Lovegood, Granger, I expect you back in the castle and in in your dormitories by curfew is that clear? ”
“Crystal, Professor,” they chimed. Her mouth twitched with a smile before she turned to go back up to the castle.
Hesitating, she turned back. “I don’t know what you’re really up to. But just be careful,” she said softly. Before any of them could say anything in response or catch the expression on her face she had turned her back to them and was walking apace.
“Hermione, do you have the coordinates for us to apparate to the meeting place?” Harry asked, as they exited the grounds.
“Yes, but we still have to take the portkey, Sirius can’t apparate us all,” Hermione emphasized.
Looking around, Harry realized that while there were not a whole lot of people within obvious hearing distance, you never knew who had advanced hearing. Without a muffling charm, they were vulnerable.
“Of course, sorry dad. I still haven’t figured out how apparition works quite yet,” Harry said sheepishly, hoping to cover his mistake.
“It’s all right son. You’ve got time,” Sirius laughed. “Ready? Three, Two, One, Athena.”
And then they were off.
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Meredith Greengrass was not sure exactly what was going to happen at this meeting. She had reserved a room at The Crow’s Nest, an inn located in Cardiff that prided itself on discretion and at which she paid a hefty sum for the innkeeper to forget she had. Literally. She had been curious when she first felt the disturbances in the timestream, and when they continued her feelings went from slightly disturbed to fully alarmed. For over a decade she had been living a double life, living every day twice, learning time inside and out, a living experiment who conducted experiments.
She also kept extensive personal notes, theories, thoughts, postulations about what the future, what the past might hold. So much went wrong in the last war. So much death, so much destruction, and the world had not seemed to get any better. Part of her was seeking a way, and thought she might have found it, was near to doing so, even. She had hopes that if she were correct, she would be able to go back and fix everything that had gone wrong. In her plans she even designed it so that the ritual could work with multiple people, so that she could take Andromeda and Amelia with her, so that they could go together, so that they could fix everything.
The only horror that held her back was all the lives she would unmake, or at the very least never see again, semantics, all the children — her child — that would be sacrificed in her creation of a new world, left behind in her old universe. Would it, could it, really be a better world that she was escaping to? And so, Meredith was sitting on the research. She stopped it, she started it, she worked on other aspects of becoming the foremost expert on time, such as creating time dilation nap pods where you could go in, take a 3-hour nap, and come out only having spent 5 minutes of your 15-minute coffee break. She thought it would make an excellent profit on the market, but unfortunately her supervisors did not care about her wanting to conquer capitalism for herself. Pity.
The issue at hand was that things had been taken out of her hands. Or at least the hands of her present self. Because this present? Was someone else’s past. The future had come to her. The only question was how. And Meredith was determined to find out.
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“So, in this alternate future, I really get murdered by my husband?”
“According to what we know from Draco —” Hermione started to answer but got cut off.
“And my daughter is dead from trying to take revenge?”
“She was part of the resistance, yes, so we think —” Harry’s reply was truncated as well.
“And even though he-who-must-not-be-named is dead the pure blood supremacists have explicitly taken over the government instead of giving the faux progressives the illusion of power.”
“That’s a neat summary but the more complicated —” Hermione was not allowed to finish then either.
“And my son-in-law sacrificed his life to send you three to the past using my research so you could fix all that.”
“Draco did so much for us he —” Harry was unable to complete his sentence before Meredith spoke again.
“And your solution was to use your access to time turners to open a tea shop and a clothing store?”
“It’s not just —” Hermione began and was once again interrupted.
“Look,” Meredith sighed and rubbed her forehead as she leaned heavily forward onto their shared table in the cozy private dining room. They had no service because no one else at the inn knew it existed, but they brought their own snacks, so it was fine. “The thing is, you’re doing great, for people who were thrown into this with so little experience and training. And I can tell that you’ve put thought into this — I know you have! But your travel in time — it has consequences. There are cracks, ripples. This isn’t the universe you know, even if things seem similar at first glance. When you look, when you really, really look. There are differences. Some you have caused, some that are rippling back. Even — time is delicate, and so is the universe. There is a price to everything.”
“Do you think we shouldn’t have done it?” Harry demanded angrily, standing up. “Do you think we should have sat there and done nothing? Do you really think we are doing nothing now?”
“Harry!” Hermione admonished, tugging him to sit back down.
“Son, I don’t think she’s saying that at all,” Sirius said, looking not at Harry, but at Meredith. For a moment, as they looked into each other’s eyes they saw themselves, and all that they had lost, and were forced to look away.
“I am glad you came back,” Meredith replied. “The people of that universe are dead. Oh yes, it still exists, you have not fixed it, merely escaped it to fix another one heading along the same trajectory. Like I said, time is complicated. I think there is something different about this time that was different from yours. You have to figure out what it is.”
“Will you help us?” Hermione asked.
“Of course, she will,” Luna answered, before Meredith could open her mouth.
The older woman looked at her, unimpressed, with a raised eyebrow. “Oh, and how are you so sure of that?”
“You created a ritual to travel back decades in time,” Luna shrugged. “You created that. It took years and years of design work, we barely had to alter it at all, even when we wanted to change it from two to three people. There were possible configurations for one to seven travelers. You’ve been planning to travel through time for years, at that point decades. Not helping us, when you did all that, all of it to try and stop the death eaters, to fix the course that pure blood supremacy has set us on,” Luna paused “I apologize for presuming, but you helping us seemed like the most natural thing in the world.”
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Sirius kept the smile on his face for approximately five seconds after he finished his mirror call with Elizabeth Mirkwood. Groaning, he cradled his head in his hands as he leaned on his desk in the study of Grimmauld Place. He appreciated the non-nonsense lawyer and all that she had done for them, including things like pretending to rewrite a contract that did not exist, but he was tired. Tired of people. Tired of pretending that he was okay, when he really, really was not. He knew that there was a function where they did not have to show their faces on calls, he only wished he could have asked for that option without seeming impolite. Showing his face every day sometimes felt like a Herculean task.
Sure, he had passed the checks that the Healers at St. Mungo’s had screened for. Physically, was perfectly fit for a 34-year-old wizard, better than they expected, considering his years in Azkaban. Magically, he was glowing, his magic having bounced back from its starvation on the Island while he was on the run, and his time being sheltered at Hogwarts allowing his core to recharge. They even declared him mentally sound, saying that his focus on his son was admirable, that he showed no obvious signs of damage from prison, that he was free to go.
On that front, the healers were a bit rubbish, because Sirius was not okay. In the slightest. He eyed the bottle of firewhisky on the other side of the room and wondered if he could afford to get drunk tonight considering the tasks, he had the next morning. He knew that getting drunk to stifle his longing was not a real option. Or at least it was not a good option. But who was there to stop him? Who was there to make sure that he did not go too far?
He looked down at his left hand, where he wore his ring as the head of the house of Black, and next to it a thin gold band.
Sirius pressed his eyes closed, and as a single tear escaped, he whispered something that sounded suspiciously like “I miss you.”
A/N2: So about that not updating for four months *hides* I’m real sorry y’all! But I hope that you enjoyed this chapter. A large part of why I have not updated is because I’ve started a fanfiction podcast. If any of you are interested in listening, please visit https://intothearchivespod.com/listen.
Fic Recommendation: No Trains on Sundays by Welcome_to_Illyria on Ao3. It’s a 1980s no magic WolfStar AU, and it’s really freaking cute. Tugs on all the heartstrings.