Chapter 1: This Is The World We Live In

"It's the first time turner ever made!"

Considered the greatest enchanter in the wizarding world, and most definitely the richest, Blaise Zabini stood in the middle of his shop, turning the heavy ancient time turner over in his hands. "And exactly how can you be certain of that," he asked Millicent Bulstrode skeptically.

She currently paced back and forth in front of him to expel her nervous energy. "Doesn't it look old," she demanded.

He nodded. "It does, but..."

"What," she pressed, interrupting. "Don't you think you can do it?"

The taunting challenge in her voice was obviously intended to bate him, but Blaise's icy blood was unmoved. "I don't know," he admitted shamelessly. He took immense pride in his work, in his achievements, but he never bragged without cause and time was a tricky and dangerous thing. "There are many risks."

"And staying here like sitting ducks, just waiting for her to eventually kill us for not being down with her cray-cray works for you," Millicent demanded. "What about our families, Blaise? Our parents? No one is going to fucking save us! We've got to do it because no one else is going to. *HE* isn't going to. She killed him... took him from you! From all of us, and I truly believe with this, we can fix it." She gestured to the time turner in his hands with a short sharp motion. The anger in Millicent's tone faded as her voice cracked on the last few words.

"For god's sake, Millie, don't cry," Blaise said. He wasn't comfortable with people's tears. He hadn't even cried over losing...*HIM*. Insane as it may sound the loss was too devastating for tears.

Millicent sniffed, then kicked out at his shin, causing him to dodge lazily aside. "Don't fucking call me Millie," she muttered resentfully. "You know how much I hate it."

She sighed. "The wizard we bought it from said it's thousands of years old," she explained, redirecting the conversation back to the time turner in Blaise's long slender hands. "I gave him a truth scan and Wolfgang cast an age test spell on it that he always uses on any antiques he buys. So no, we don't know if it is truly the oldest in the world, but it quite likely is and if not, it's still ancient."

Blaise nodded. Her words had finally gotten to him in spite of his better judgment and he was considering how to go about it. Setting a time turner to a specific year rather than skipping back an hour was not only risky, but dangerous. There were so very many ways it could go wrong if the spell was even off by a fraction. Unlike Blaise's other enchantments, there were likely no do-overs if this turned out to be the case. The magical mechanism used to turn time back an hour would need to be magnified thousands fold to make this happen. That was when it clicked. Suddenly it seemed that simple, and the rusted iron time turner in his hands with a clear crystal on one side and a rough shard of black obsidian on the other practically hummed with power.

"Fine. I'll try it," he said and Millicent shrieked with relieved glee.

"YES! Don't start until I get back with Kereston and Wolfgang. I need to pack our things. I'll tell Bramble to pack yours." She apparated from the shop before he could respond.

Sighing he shook his head at the empty air. Bramble, the Zabini house elf, was going to be so difficult as to make Blaise's own reluctance seem a mere trifle. Millicent had no idea what she was in for. Moving to the stool behind the counter of the shop, Blaise settled down to study the time turner more closely.

He would use the natural amplifying power of the crystal set into one side of the device to magnify his time turning spell. Hopefully the stone could hold up and not shatter under the weight of the enchantment. Yes, he would need to fortify it with a strengthening charm first. And he would have to do the same for the obsidian set into the other side. Together the stones made the hour glass shape. The crystal was clear so one could easily see the sand of the time turner through that side, but the black obsidian only had a slight translucence, so on that side the sand inside was only a mere hint.

Why the black and the white, the clear and the opaque, he wondered silently as he turned the thing around and around in his hands with slow thoughtful motions. Yes, the clear turned time forward and the black turned it back... yes, the motion was right to left and widdershins, not upright and upside-down as in the modern versions. Why had it changed, and was the change an improvement or a reconstruction to a lost art? Did he hold a better time turner in his hands or a flawed attempt that may just send he and his friends only the Gods knew where... If there were any Gods, a thing he was strongly beginning to doubt of late.

Of late the world seemed much like a wasteland. Everyone hopeless and terrified or brainwashed, wizards and Muggles alike. Muggles had no true idea what was going on, yet they were still under Delphini's influence and her control. Those few wizards with strong enough minds to resist were pretending to play along mostly by not openly protesting against her.

They didn't make waves, and that served them for now, but for how much longer? Not to mention Delphini quite likely knew where her non-supporters truly stood anyway. Not just because she was a strong seer either. Also because *HE* had stood openly against her with Blaise and many others backing him and enough of those not following her had stood with him as well.

And now *HE* was dead and she'd done that. For days Blaise had clung to his body, striking out violently with magic at anyone who attempted to rest the body of the only person he'd ever romantically loved from his arms. Blaise had clung to that body until his preservation spells gave way to the body's natural decomposition. Gods but he'd never wanted to see him like that... a dead and slowly rotting body, that beautiful laughing face forever still, the blond locks somehow limp and faded.

For nearly five days after Blaise finally allowed his family to put the body to rest, he had survived in a daze. He'd have taken his own life to be with his other half if not for the fact his mother had promised that they'd somehow fix it. Had she some twisted necromancy in mind? He hadn't even bothered to ask, only telling her she had three weeks.

He loved his mother very much, but killing was her specialty, not healing death. Blaise's specialty was not feeling, and this pain was too much to stand for much longer. Gods he missed him so much! Missed him to the point of feeling crazy with the pain. Lowering his face, he raised his hands to cover it, then realized they still held the time turner. The potential key to bringing him back.

"Please," he breathed, half to himself, half to the contraption in his hands, and perhaps also to HIM. Yes to him. "You've got to come back to me." Back... that was the operative word. To go back and fix it.

He must have lost himself in thought then, or merely allowed himself to go adrift in mental emptiness to escape the pain, for after what only seemed an instant the shop door sprang open. Millicent hurried in with her husband, Wolfgang Adler hurrying behind. Kereston Boxwood followed with Bramble, the Zabini house elf, bringing up the rear. He had three trunks floating behind him and a determined look on his face.

"Bramble has decided to come along," he said and Blaise's jaw momentarily dropped. Bramble never wanted to leave Blaise's parents... as if the two couldn't manage to take proper care of themselves... which Blaise had to admit could very well be the case.

"The parents," he asked dully. "Delphini killed him. As Millicent has remarked more than once, we all stood with him against her so we are basically sitting ducks likely only still alive because she is bloody toying with us."

At Blaise's words Millicent shuddered, making a slight sound of distress. Her husband Wolfgang, a rather sophisticated looking half giant put an arm around her which served to calm her to a degree.

Bramble nodded. "Yes, but whatever we do in the past will change all of that so it hardly matters. You and he were always saying that Bramble is too powerful to stay home and polish the silver, so he is coming to help bring him back home."

At that Blaise swallowed, for the first time feeling tears spring to his eyes at this open admission that Bramble missed HIM as much as did everyone else. Bramble was even more stoic with his feelings than the icy Blaise so this meant a lot.

"Very well," Blaise said, drawing in a deep fortifying breath before slowly releasing it. "I need to place a few enhancements on the time turner, then we will do this. The crystal turns it forward and the obsidian turns it back, I believe. I shall enhance both so that it takes us far enough back to fix all of this."

Everyone nodded nearly as one. The mood was silent and grim in the shop as Blaise worked. It was a mood of waiting, as heavy and thick as pea soup London fog. Blaise sat behind the counter, and used his wand to engrave more numbers around the edge of the time turner. Years rather than hours. Then he enhanced the quartz crystal and the black obsidian. As he often did when working, he lost track of time, and when he was done, the night outside the shop's windows was dark.

"Should Bramble bring dinner," the elf asked and Blaise shrugged.

"You could... Or we could just see what the food is like in the nineteen-twenties."

"We're ready then," Kereston asked breathlessly. The small blonde was currently Minister For Magic, but to Blaise she would always simply be Kereston. The girl he'd grown up with, and who had graduated from Hogwarts a year ahead of him. Also from Slytherin house, she was far more social than Blaise, yet still they had similar views on most things for all that.

"Yes," Blaise replied with a smile as he rose from the stool and headed around the counter to join the others.

That was the first time he'd smiled in... quite some time. The last time Blaise had smiled...*HE* still lived.

"We're doing this, bitches," Millicent said excitedly. "Hopefully it won't kill us or something."

"Hopefully," Blaise said dryly, wondering idly if he cared either way.