This is chapter twenty-one 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.
A/N: Thanks, as always, to Transreal_Clouden. You know I don’t own Harry Potter because HOUSE ELVES DESERVE BETTER!
Chapter Twenty-One: Seeds of Rebellion
Draco Malfoy was not exactly known for being patient. He could be, when the situation warranted. And yet it was not something he was known for. So when Draco did appear to let something go and bide his time before acting, he often caught people by surprise. It always amused him, because people really should not forget that for all his immaturity and teenage impulsivity, the hat chose to put him in Slytherin for a reason.
Draco knew that something odd had happened on the day that the Dementors were destroyed. Potter, Granger, and Lovegood were up to something, and they had been all year. Following them never seemed to work, as they always seemed to know whenever they were being followed. He realized after some careful consideration that they must have some way to tell when they were being tracked — it was too efficient a system otherwise.
Deciding to take a step back and evaluate the situation, Draco spent some time waiting and watching from afar, noticing Potter and his circle of friends. As he noticed and watched, he also watched the watchers. There were of course many people who watched Potter. He was a world-famous wizard at only thirteen years old, and how many of those were there at the school?
And yet there were a few with particularly keen eyes. He noticed that the Professors were paying particular attention to not just Potter, but also Granger and Lovegood, on more days than not. From his own house, he noticed that Greengrass and Zabini would also occasionally have eyes for the three, as well as the two youngest Weasleys and Longbottom. It was not an easy catch, they were careful about it, but not so careful that he did not notice.
Greengrass and Zabini were inordinately interested in Potter, Granger, and Lovegood, but they were also interested in Weasley, Weasley, and Longbottom. This lead to a second realization, which was that those were two different circles of people.
Continuing his survey of the school, Draco noticed that of the Hufflepuffs, Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott also had a distinct interest in Potter, above that of the normal fangirls that oscillated around the famous wizard. Calculating. Considering. More so than he might expect of a Hufflepuff, but then again, his mother had warned him not to underestimate Hufflepuffs. She had warned him not to underestimate anyone, something that he needed to get better at remembering.
Draco observed the others in Potter’s circles as well. He spent a great deal of time with the Gryffindor Quidditch team, which made sense considering he was their seeker. It was through Draco’s observation of the Quidditch team that he discovered that the Head Boy was dating the Gryffindor team captain which was… interesting news. He didn’t think it was a secret, but he would have thought the Head Boy was above snogging behind a tapestry.
Draco would forever remember the shade of red his face went, and while a part of him was tempted to lord it over the older boy, for some reason he instead blurted out “I saw nothing,” before walking in the other direction.
He had no idea what was wrong with him. He hated Weasleys. He hated Potter. But sometimes he would catch Potter looking at him with a kind of softness to his expression that he couldn’t quite explain away. And Potter never responded to him the way that he used to, the way that they traded barbs against each other wasn’t the same anymore. And Draco needed to know .
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For a long time, Dobby had thought that he was unusual for a house elf. He had believed that he, alone among elves, was one who had struck out to find freedom, that his fellow elves were too firmly entrenched in their dependency on the families that they served. He knew that there were many of his fellow elves who were unhappy with their oppressed state, but all of the elves in the small circle he knew were resigned to it. This, he believed, was a result of the training the elves received from the agency that raised them. And yet he could not help but remember Perry, the elf that he only by slim chance remembered.
Whether Perry was part of a resistance or acting alone, Dobby knew because of her that he was not truly alone. There were other elves, it was possible for elves, to be free.
Dobby’s social circle was small, and so when Mary had asked him to find other elves to work at Ivory Innovations there were not many he personally knew. Yet there was a web to be woven in the elven network, and it eventually passed through the grapevine that there were some elves who would be open to work, who had been cast out of families, or whose families could perhaps be convinced to free them.
Soon, Ivory Innovations had a small contingent of elves, free elves, and Dobby felt that he had a community. The six of them all lived together in the same flat which was rented for them by Mary, though one of the elves, Truffle, soon admitted that they were uncomfortable with living in a place at the will of their employer, mentioning that they had often been exiled to sleeping outside of the manor where they worked when their master was displeased with them as punishment.
“While I know it is not the same,” Truffle explained to Mary one afternoon. “It is a difficult situation to always be dependent on you, the fear that once we are no longer employed, or if you are dissatisfied we will have no home.”
Mary nodded as she considered their words. “I can clearly see the problem. We did it this way because of the clause that you were not allowed to rent or own in your own right, as house elves have no rights under wixen law. Something that obviously needs to be changed. I’ll talk to Elizabeth about it as soon as possible.”
And thus the gears were set in motion. Dobby was incredibly proud of Truffle, and he was incredibly pleased when, only a few months later, Elizabeth and Mary were able to take their cause to the Wizengamot. What he could not have expected was how on the eve of the first court date they would all be approached by another group of elves about which he had no knowledge that would turn his entire world upside down.
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As it happened, the first Ivory Innovations elf that Tiffy came across was not the infamous Dobby, but an elf by the name of Kreacher.
As the head elf of the castle, she was always aware whenever students or staff brought with them a personal elf, as all elves were required to check in with her when on the premises. Or they were supposed to, anyway. She had plans to speak with Dobby at length when they finally met about his behavior in the previous year, when he visited the castle and wrecked havoc while cloaked. Kreacher, on the other hand, was courteous enough to introduce himself to the other elves, perhaps knowing that he couldn’t remain cloaked for much longer, and opting to be an open secret.
“Kreacher will not be around very much. It is only that Harry Potter works as a junior ambassador to Ivory Innovations, and has certain stock in the company and sometimes has company business to attend to. Kreacher has been hired as Harry Potter’s personal assistant to also help him in legal matters and is responsible for ferrying confidential correspondence. Is this permitted, Head Elf Tiffy?” Kreacher asked openly.
Tiffy got the sense that Kreacher was not telling the entire truth. And if she were to follow the spirit of things, she should run this situation past Professor Dumbledore. And yet, house elves were firmly in Tiffy’s domain, so strictly speaking Dumbledore did not need to be informed. Besides that, this was the perfect time to learn more about Ivory Innovations.
“Tiffy can allow that Kreacher, so long as Kreacher and Harry Potter make sure to follow the rules of Hogwarts. If any professor finds out about rule-breaking or if Professor Dumbledore decides to counteract my decision, permission shall be withdrawn.”
“Many thanks, Tiffy,” Kreacher nodded.
“You’re welcome, Kreacher. Before you go, can you tell me how you came to be a free elf? What made you decide to work for Ivory Innovations?” Tiffy asked, making sure to keep her voice light with only mild curiosity. Still, Kreacher’s voice sounded somewhat guarded when he replied.
“Kreacher was an elf for the Black family. Sirius Black, Kreacher’s former master, is one of the father’s of Harry Potter. When Sirius Black offered Kreacher freedom, citing Kreacher’s poor treatment by the Black family and the fact that neither he nor Harry Potter thought that Kreacher should be enslaved, Harry Potter offered Kreacher a job for payment so that Kreacher would have a way to live and support himself without the bond.”
“I see,” Tiffy nodded. “Did you want freedom, Kreacher, before Sirius Black offered it to you?”
“I wanted to die until Dobby came. And I had no hope of freedom. But now I am happy to be free,” Kreacher and Tiffy hardly noticed how they started to slip into the first and second person with each other. It was something that elves often only did when they were feeling especially comfortable with a person, and Kreacher and Tiffy, despite themselves, felt a kinship growing between them for a reason they couldn’t discern.
“I do wish to be free, but I have a need to protect the elves of Hogwarts, and the head elf is bound to the castle.”
“Not to the headmaster?”
“No, to the magic of the castle herself, though I answer to the headmaster… when I want to,” Tiffy smirked and despite himself Kreacher laughed, which was quite unlike him. He hardly ever laughed unless he was with Dobby.
“You are a rebellious elf then?” Kreacher asked.
“Yes,” Tiffy said, serious, but again with a light tone. “Would you like to meet some?”
“Meet who?” Kreacher asked, confused.
“Some rebellious elves.”
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The thing that most upset Dobby, at the core of it, was that no one had told him sooner about the house elf rebellion brewing underneath everyone’s noses. He would have been the first in line to sign up! Though, he reflected, that was precisely what had stopped them from approaching him. He was loud, they were determined to be quiet; silent actors in the movement.
He would never forget how, on that first day he met Tiffy, she looked him up and down as if sizing him up and said: “So you’re that Dobby, are you then? Nice to meet you properly, when you’re not terrorizing students at my school and we’re actually working toward the same cause.”
Kreacher had prepared him for Tiffy being blunt, but perhaps not that blunt.
They were having this meeting in the first place not to talk about Dobby’s transgressions, however, but to talk about how they could work together to make the world a better place for elves.
“I think that your plan to try and get elves land rights is great, but it will never work. We’ve been trying to get elvish rights for ages and it’s never been something that we’ve been able to achieve,” Tiffy sighed, shaking her head.
“That’s exactly what the problem is, the wixen don’t see us as having rights, they don’t see us as beings who have a say and have a voice. We have to get our foot in the door somehow, which is why we’ve sent the wixen into the Wizengamot to fight for our right to fight for ourselves,” Dobby insisted.
“Do you really think that the wixen can be convinced into giving us the rights we deserve?” Tiffy said. “Do you really think you can do what generations of elves were not able to do before you?”
“I think,” said Dobby “that we can build on what you have done, that we can work together. I wouldn’t be where I am today without Perry, and neither would you. And there are wixen that we can rely on to do the right thing, even though many of them have failed us. It is hard, and we shouldn’t have to do it, it should already be done, but we can accomplish this,” Dobby insisted.
“I believe you Dobby,” Kreacher reached for Dobby’s hand. “I think you’re absolutely mad, but I must be too because I am starting to believe we can all get our freedom.”
“We’ll see how this case goes. But with a capacity for speeches like that, I think you could get anyone to believe you,” Tiffy shook her head.
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If someone had come to Mary Cattermole at this time last year and told her she would be testifying in front of the wizengamot on the behalf of house elves in the role of a senior executive at one of the most profitable companies in the wixen world she would have seriously considered taking them to a mind healer. As it was, she and Elizabeth Mirkwood were stood in front of Albus Dumbledore and the rest of that august body arguing the case that the workforce of elves who helped staff Ivory Innovations — who now numbered about a half dozen, should be allowed to take out a lease in their own names with the wages she paid them.
Currently the elves lived in an apartment in Horizont Alley, the residential offshoot of Diagon. The apartment was leased by Ivory Innovations, but neither the elves nor the company felt comfortable with the elves dependent on their employer for housing. An arrangement like that replicated the situation that house elves found themselves in where they were dependent on their “masters,” which was something that the previously enslaved elves wished to avoid.
Unfortunately, not many wixen saw it that way.
“They’re just house elves!”
“Not even human!”
Elizabeth and Mary resisted the urge to give each other weary looks. This was a time to put up a strong and united front, one that did not show any weaknesses.
“Silence!” called Dumbledore. “The fact of the matter is that these elves are earning a living wage. They are sapient beings —”
“Are they beings, headmaster?” Lucius Malfoy brought up silkily. “They do not appear to be classified as such, according to the ledger, these creatures —”
“Well now Lucius, you may just be correct, let me see, ah! Here we are!” with a flourish Dumbledore pulled out a list. “The most updated list of Beings, Creatures, and Spirits from our official classification, last updated,” Dumbledore peered over his glasses, “1862. Dear me, this list is long, no matter, I’ll do a scan for the term ‘house elf’ and see where on the list they appear, being or creature.” Dumbledore cast the spell, but no term lit up. “Hmmm, perhaps they catalogued differently, perhaps simply ‘elf’?” Casting the spell again, there was no response from the paper. “Interesting, let’s check the spell against something I know is on here, ‘human’?” Instantly the word ‘human’ lit up under ‘being.’
“Perhaps I can clarify Chief Warlock,” Elizabeth interjected.
“Yes, Attorney Mirkwood,” Dumbledore nodded.
“When I reviewed the records, I found no mention of any kind of house elf under the restriction of being, creature, or spirit in any of the records, 1862 or prior. I would then suggest, if I may be so bold, that this august body classify that house elves are beings, given that they are forms of sapient life capable of powerful magic,” Elizabeth remarked firmly. “I have the records here for your review.”
“Thank you, Attorney Mirkwood.”
While it took an additional two weeks for the Wizengamot to deliberate, and it passed by only a slim vote, with the Chief Warlock acting as a tiebreaker, house elves were declared beings by the wizengamot.
And the wixen world hardly knew what was coming for it.
A/N: I think that Horizont Alley is something used in the HPEU through the Wizarding World Theme Park, but please ignore that. My Horizont Alley is different; it’s a residential area of magical London that contains apartments and houses, as well as a few business offices.
Fic recommendation: Come Together by corvidae9 on Ao3. “Remus and Tonks cause trouble mischief used to shag should never be allowed to plot have a problem solemnly swear they are up to no good. Ron has issues with his sister his best friends a pointy Ferret that can’t leave anything well enough alone life that leave him frustrated cranky unpleasant in need of alcohol a good shag something elusive that continues to escape him. Fortunately, things have a way of coming together conveniently in twenty forty-some thousand words or less. Would that real life were so accomodating. (RL/SS, GW/NT, RW/DM, HP/NL, RL/NT :D)”