Here we are again...
I've written 20k in like 4 days. And I'm just going to ride this train until
PAIRINGS: Are currently undecided, but I will admit to leaning towards the following:
Tom Riddle / Hermione Granger
Ron Weasley / Slytherin Girls
I am easily swayed however, and welcome all of your imput as we begin this journey together.
Magic exists both as part of the world's cycles and as the catalyst for change. It is both influenced by and influences the paths of history and the state of existence.
By this I mean this simple precept:
Nature requires balance. Every darkness has an equal light, every spell a counter, or balance. Magic will always bring balance, for darkness cannot exist without light, and light cannot shine without darkness.
Throughout history there have always been highly powerful, talented, magical beings. Each of them is met with a counter, a foil, a balance. Often if a balance is removed, another will be brought into being.
- Excerpt from 'The Balance of Magic' by Rhiannon Moreland
Chapter 1: Dissindere Temporalis
Hermione Granger was in a Library.
If you asked any of her friends, their looks of amusement and shrugs would suggest that this was a common occurrence. So common, so familiar was it that it seemed innocuous, almost inconceivable that anything unusual could happen around it.
Slowly her finger traced down the lines of ancient script, touch light and reverent so as not to damage the tome she'd spent so long hunting down.
In the years since Voldemort's defeat at the hands of her best friend, the Wizarding World had notionally been at peace, and in a state of recovery from the disaster that had befallen it. However Hermione had begun to notice problems, at first inconsequential and then slowly growing at the corners of the new society being built. At first it had just been her, noticing and worrying, but then a year or two ago Harry and Ron had come to see her, and their concern was the same.
"The Wizarding World is broken," Harry pointed out to her bluntly, and beside him Ron reluctantly nodded, "The Ministry is the same as it's always been: inefficient and not going to change."
Ron sighed, "And…much as I hate to say it, there is a problem with the old Pureblood Families. It'd be easy just to blame the Slytherins…" his voice was wistful, "Kinda miss the days when it was as simple as Gryffindor Good and Slytherin Evil."
Harry nodded but Hermione's lips pursed slightly. The world had never been that simple, but it was easy to fall into the trap of it. Especially when they'd been young, innocent and society was hiding from ugly truths.
"Voldemort had some points," Harry said, voice quiet, and both Ron and Hermione knew just how much it cost him to say it, "God it's so easy just to blanket him as 'evil' and ignore it all but… I mean he was wrong about Muggleborns, obviously." He added hurriedly and seemed relieved when Hermione simply nodded, obviously unoffended, "And the way he went about it all was..."
"Bloody idiotic? Pure evil? Utterly deranged and psychopathic?" Ron offered, and Harry shot him a weak smile.
"Yeah. But it doesn't change the fact that, at least at the beginning…he had some points."
Harry's face twisted, clearly uncomfortable with voicing that opinion, one that seemed almost disrespectful to all those they'd lost along the way fighting the madman Voldemort had become.
And Hermione was forced to agree.
She'd taken up a position with the Department of Mysteries after finally finishing her last year at Hogwarts, and had settled in like she was born to it. There were no rules in the Department, no bureaucracy. In fact the only guideline was that they were to ask the questions that others feared to ask. And they were to seek the truth, no matter where it took them.
After the grief faded, Hermione couldn't help but look over the Second Wizarding War with the eye of an Unspeakable.
And she hadn't liked what she found.
Now Harry was echoing her own thoughts, having come to them on his own. And Ron was with him.
Out of all of them Ron was the most resistant to change, having grown up in the wizarding world and thus having been innocently raised to accept most of the institutionalised points of view. If even he was agreeing with Harry then the problem was far direr than she'd initially thought.
The Wizarding World had been built, for centuries, around the people in power. The old Families. And since Magic was hereditary, or so it seemed, they had sought to consolidate it, to strengthen the bloodlines and thus, strengthen the magical world. Unfortunately this policy seemed to have been concocted when Feudalism was popular, and had not evolved with the modern world.
Inbreeding was now unequivocally proven to be a terrible idea. It promoted mental instability and didn't guarantee magic was passed along to the children. Curious about the theories of magical inheritance, Hermione had looked to the Muggle world for their genetic research and had found herself fascinated by their discoveries.
She'd passed them along to Harry and Ron, summarising what she'd found and had ended up with both young men on her living room floor, blissfully drunk.
"Everything is a lie." Ron lamented, cradling his firewhiskey while Harry looked up at the ceiling moodily, "Muggle-borns come from Squibs. Cast out, unwanted, forgotten…Squibs."
"It's a theory," Hermione reminded him, but not too forcefully. Yes it was a theory, but an exceptionally likely one, "It backs up the idea that magic is hereditary…"
"Means they've been destroying themselves," Harry sighed, " We've been destroying ourselves. Seeing Muggles as the enemy. Seeing Squibs as a shame... Pure blood…"
"Got nothing to do with Blood," Rob moaned, "It's like my red hair."
Hermione giggled, since she'd used their hair colours as an example for how genes worked. It had, needless to say, struck a chord with Ron.
Harry meanwhile was quiet, sad.
"Can we even fix this?" he asked into the quiet, and both Ron and Hermione glanced at each other, unsure, "I don't think we can."
"Depends on if the Wizarding World wants to change," Hermione said tactfully, voice soft, and Ron snorted with derision.
"Yeah, so no hope there."
Harry sighed in irritation, "Why is it whenever someone wants to take over the world, they cause so much death, any good points they had are lost."
"Riddle might actually have been decent, you know…if he hadn't chosen to follow Grindelwald's path." Ron scoffed quietly and Hermione snorted, making both look at her.
"Yeah…?" Ron eyed her with confusion, "Obviously…"
"You're joking right?" Hermione rolled over onto her belly, and took in Ron's genuine confusion and Harry's arched eyebrow, "He wasn't following Grindelwald's footsteps… Obviously!"
"Course he was," Ron shook his head, "Dark wizard, taking over the Wizarding World…?"
Hermione shrugged, "You're looking at it so literally. Riddle was raised in the Muggle world, he had to go back to that Orphanage every summer right? He didn't leave the Muggle world behind until he was of age."
"So?" Ron rolled over as well, and Harry followed, but his face was thoughtful.
"You think he was inspired by Hitler? Really?"
"Who the hell is Hitler?" Ron frowned at them both.
Hermione frowned too and glanced at Harry, who looked thoughtful.
"And there is one of the biggest problems." He mused quietly, "The separation of the Muggle world, and ours. The History of both, unknown to the other. But, Ron, Hitler was basically the worst."
Hermione nodded, "He was the Muggle World's version of a Dark Lord. Rose to power in 1933, and caused a full scale World War from 1939-1945. Millions died…and he rose to power off the basis of the country being subjugated with taxes after an earlier conflict. The resentment and poverty was so strong that a lot of people sympathised… and even agreed… when he blamed the Jewish citizens for their troubles. It was complicated, this is a simplified version of it but yes…"
Ron stared at her, "So… the Purebloods, blaming the Muggleborns."
Hermione nodded, "He led his nation in… " cleansing "… them from society. They were murdered. They estimate about 6 million of them."
Ron choked, eyes boggling as he dropped the whiskey bottle, sending it clattering against the rug, "6 Million ?!" he hissed, horrified, "How, why? Why didn't anyone stop him? Like we stopped Voldemort!"
"Because he was in power," Hermione shrugged, "Because he was charming and charismatic and compelling. Because they were desperate. They did stop him, in the end, but he caused a lot of damage. A lot of death. The Muggles call it World War II. Because it really did involve almost the entire globe"
Ron gaped at her, obviously horrified.
"I can see Riddle being inspired by Hitler," Harry mused thoughtfully, "Using hatred of a race and nationalism to climb to power, forcing them to accept your point of view once you're there. But I'm sure he saw himself as the…improved version. Born to succeed."
The three of them lay there, the alcohol taking the edge off the dark subject matter.
"Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it," Hermione whispered blearily, rubbing her face.
Ron groaned, "This is seriously messed up."
Harry nodded, looking thoroughly unhappy.
"Why is life so hard?" Hermione sighed, "It used to feel simpler. Right?"
Harry nodded wistfully "Remember when our biggest problem was sneaking around Hogwarts under the cloak?"
"Quidditch tryouts…" Ron mused with a smile.
"Trying to do all those classes." Hermione grinned as the pair laughed, "Using the time-turner. It's funny now but I remember how it was so serious back then." She smiled and knew her own smile was just as wistful as the boy's. "Doing the day over."
"Hermione, that's it," Harry rolled over, and suddenly his green eyes were bright, "A do-over."
Hermione stared at him, and Ron scoffed, "Mate we can't."
"You think you're the first one to want to do things over?" Ron scoffed.
"Ron's right, Harry. Time doesn't work like that." Hermione reminded him, "Time is only meant to flow one way. If someone goes back it means they already had done so, and history remains preserved."
"And what happens if they don't preserve it?" Harry asked, eyes glinting in that way they always did when he had a madcap idea.
"Terrible things," Ron and Hermione chorused together, before looking at each other in surprise, "That's what they always said," Hermione added, "Terrible things happen to those who meddle with time."
"But imagine if we could," Harry said eagerly, "Fix things, help the wizarding world survive."
"By what, killing Voldemort?" Ron snorted, "We don't know what would happen."
"It's true," Hermione agreed earnestly, "Apart from the fact we could inadvertently make things far worse…magic, time…everything I've seen on them shows loops and patterns. Gelda Gladhorn even had a theory on it, based on her observations about Seers. She believed that history is made up of small chunks, and are separated by what she calls Crossroads. "
The boys blinked at her cluelessly and she huffed, shifting a little until she was sitting in her 'lecturing' position, which made them share a small, fond, secret smile.
"She believed that the Future would follow a certain kind of pattern, small variations in place but with the main players remaining relatively unchanged, should people make different choices. The details would change but the overarching story, the overarching narrative of History would remain the same."
"Okay…" Harry mused, "So like Trelawney predicting about the Chosen One, Voldemort still could have chosen Neville."
"Exactly," Hermione nodded, "And if Gladhorn's theory is correct, then he still would have been defeated, maybe not by the same means but defeated none-the-less, and still returned years later. The details surrounding it may have varied, but…"
"The overarching story remains." Ron mused, "Huh, makes sense… Does that mean Harry was always predestined to defeat him?"
"Could have just relaxed then." Harry snarked dryly, "If it was just going to land in my lap."
Hermione shook her head, rolling her eyes a little as she did, "No that's where the Crossroads come in."
"What are Crossroads?" Ron propped his chin on his hand, "Gotta say Hermione this is actually more interesting than our usual drunk conversations."
Harry snickered and Hermione rolled her eyes yet again.
"Crossroads are a point where all the threads of History come together in a point. All the detail variances all the pieces, and all the choices determine the outcome of History. I think the Battle of Hogwarts was a Crossroad. Where the choices you, and Professor Snape, and Draco's mother, and Voldemort made, all led to that outcome. Not guaranteed but undetermined. As in it was predestined that you would meet in a showdown…but not how, where, or how it would end."
The three pondered the idea.
"So if we went back and murdered baby Voldemort, theoretically-" Ron hurriedly added when Hermione frowned at him, "You think that wouldn't change the arch of History?"
"No…" Hermione murmured, "I think there always would have been an ascendant Dark Lord at this point in History. Maybe Grindelwald, maybe… maybe someone else in the void of no Voldemort. I don't think the Wizarding World would have been at peace… It may not have been Harry fighting whoever it was…but there would have been a dark power rising."
"Does that mean the Wizarding World is doomed?" Harry asked quietly, "If there was always going to be a War…"
They were silent for a long moment before Ron spoke, "No. I don't think so. See, I think it's like Chess. Either side can win, and when they do there can still be any number of pieces on the board. I think…maybe we needed the conflict to look at how things are." He shifted uncomfortably, "I keep hearing myself say, 'It's always been that way,'. Lately I've started asking myself why."
Harry and Hermione stared at him and he shifted uncomfortably, "It's not so bad," Hermione said, but even she didn't sound sure, "At least Voldemort is now dead…"
"And the Wizarding World is so weakened and the two sides so stuck in their view that no one's ever going to change," Harry snarled quietly, "It's peaceful now… but there will be another war. It's inevitable. The Purebloods and others who agreed with him, who are now being ostracised and ridiculed, building resentment and an almost tribal fanaticism to their point of view…and the other side, so bitter and furious at them for the constant conflict, the corruption of their own government and news and all the rest… they're never going to come back together. It's too… it's too fractured."
"Do you think Riddle always believed in the Pureblood supremacy thing?" Hermione asked him quietly. "Or do you think it was a tool to get what he wanted…"
"I think…" Harry paused, and then sighed, "I think he believed he was special, that his sufferings were because he was destined for greatness. I think he was desperate to claim his place in this world, for no one to look down on him. I think he looked at the Black Family, the Malfoy's and the rest…and he wanted what they had. And thought if he made them follow him it meant he was just as good."
"But he was a Half-Blood." Ron grumbled, "Hypocrite."
"He hated that side of himself," Harry murmured, "He rejected it utterly, saw it as common and unworthy. So he focused on his Gaunt bloodline, and when he found out he was Slytherin's heir… well I think that solidified him on his position. That he was special, and that Muggles and muggle-borns were the problem."
"So… hypothetically," Hermione asked, intrigued despite herself, "If you would try and correct Riddle. How would you do it?"
In the distance someone thumped a tome against a wooden desk and the sound echoed through the hallowed stone corridors, startling Hermione out of her thoughts and memories. It was easy to slip back into the thoughts on how this all had begun, especially now they were so close to their goal.
She looked around her, making sure that she was unobserved, tapping her wand lightly against the tome as she whispered " Effingo ."
Silver light covered the book before it floated beside it, creating a perfect duplicate, down to the wear and tear, and the flecks of dust on the bookmark ribbon.
It had taken her years to perfect the spell, the Duplication spell being one that was easy to cast but took refinement and skill to perfect. It was easy to make a copy, but the devil was in the details.
That and the book had had a complicated little charm on it which was designed to stop people doing exactly what she'd just done. Silently she blessed Ron, who had studied curse breaking and creative counter spellwork from both Bill and George. He'd had a natural aptitude for it, that strategic mind of his working out angles of attack once he learned how to analyse a spell correctly. She didn't have his natural talent in this area, but she'd learned a few tricks under his tutelage.
Sometimes it was hard to believe that the Ron from Hogwarts was the same as this one… but they'd all had to grow up so fast… and the last few years had been far from kind.
Quickly she tucked her newly copied book into her beaded bag and left the ancient library, eager to meet with the boys, and begin the next phase in their plan.
It was still another six months later that the three gathered in Hermione's small flat once more, nervous but ready.
Nearby their fourth co-conspirator watched with a sneer on his pale pointed face.
"I still think this is insane."
Ron rolled his eyes, and Hermione grinned quietly to herself. The trio had a bet going amongst themselves for how many times Malfoy would say this before they went back.
Harry shot the pale Slytherin a look, "We think it's the best option."
"You think ripping time and space apart to jump into a new timeline is the best option? This world isn't so bad, surely. You won after all." There was a note of bitterness in his voice. Although the Malfoys had avoided prison sentences, society had not been kind to them. The Dark Mark on their skin meant they would never be able to hold a position in the Ministry, their name was forever tarnished by association.
It was why they'd gone to him instead of someone else.
"We've been through all this," Ron groaned, "You're not going to change our minds Malfoy."
Draco subsided and watched them silently for a few moments, before asking quietly, "You're sure this timeline will remain intact? That we won't be snuffed out by your… excursion."
Hermione looked up at him, and saw the genuine unease on his face, and her pithy response died on her lips, "I can't give you absolute guarantees Draco, but… I am sure."
The blond pursed his lips, and shrugged, feigning unconcern, "Suppose if you're sure I have to believe it. It is you after all Granger."
Accepting the compliment with a warm smile, Hermione turned back to her preparations.
Harry, however, turned to face Malfoy with a small frown, "You sure you won't come with us?" He offered hesitantly, "We could use your help…"
It wasn't the first time he'd offered, but Malfoy had always declined.
Draco looked at him, and there was an intense war on his face, wanting mixed with fear, "I don't think I can. I don't think I can do what you want to do…I don't think I can… with Him."
Considering what he'd suffered, directly, at Voldemort's hands, Harry understood.
"If we succeed, we'll be gone. Forever." He reminded the blond quietly, "You've been seen with us, I don't want you to be blamed for our disappearance."
"I already thought of that," Hermione informed him idly, waving her wand carefully over the instruments before her, "I gave him a note, signed in blood. It is impossible to call it a forgery and it indemnifies him."
"Always thinking ahead," Ron grinned at her fondly, "That's our Hermione."
Malfoy patted his breast pocket, but he still looked uneasy, maybe even longing.
"It would be harder with me anyway. Any familial spell would reveal me having Malfoy blood. And that would raise questions, considering how meticulously every Malfoy is documented." He drawled, shrugging like it didn't matter.
Hermione glanced over at him.
He'd clearly considered the offer if he'd had that thought.
"As far as my studies go, those family tapestries would simply add you as soon as we appeared in the timeline." Hermione mused, "It simply wouldn't know who to connect you with, so would create a new branch so to speak, as Lucius doesn't yet exist. Either way, we have to contact the Weasley Family and Potter Family when we go back, so we might as well add Malfoy to the list."
Malfoy sneered at her haughtily, but there was no bite behind it, "Yes but those mongrel lines aren't the same as a Malfoy. And I mean that is how they will see it. The Potter Family weren't put on the Sacred Twenty Eight list for a reason, and the Weasleys have been Blood-traitors since I was small, if not before. I don't mean that nastily… I just mean that the Malfoys have been jealously guarding their 'Pure' status for centuries…"
"And your blood will speak for itself no?" Hermione reminded him sweetly. Draco scowled in her direction, but the corner of his lips curved up.
"Look Malfoy, this is… beyond anything we've ever done." Harry sighed, "But we've planned for this. And if it works, we won't be back, or here to see what happens. But we wouldn't be going if we didn't honestly think it would be better."
"That's what scares me." Malfoy admitted quietly, "You think this, ripping time open, changing history, is better. And you won ."
"No one won." Ron reminded them all bluntly.
That made everyone fall silent, working away at the preparations until Hermione straightened up with a sigh.
"I need to know now, if you're coming, Malfoy. I need to make the exact calculations and it will be different if it's three or four of us."
The three turned to look at him, and Malfoy stared back, uncertain.
Then he slowly nodded.
Harry smiled, offering his hand, feeling oddly symbolic as he remembered the blond offering his own hand so many years ago. And he remembered how they'd begun this journey, standing on the doorstep of Malfoy's countryside estate.
Malfoy too seemed to recognise the gesture, and a crooked smile curved up his lips before he took the hand, clasping it firmly for a few moments before letting go, and turning to Ron, who had also extended his hand.
"We're all on the same side," the redhead said seriously, "I never thought I'd say this but… I'm glad you're with us Malfoy."
The blond stared at the hand, and then reached out to clasp it firmly, just as he had Harry's.
"I may not agree with everything you do." He warned the two boys.
"We'll always try to listen to what you say before we disagree with it." Ron informed him and the three grinned.
Hermione meanwhile simply rolled her eyes and continued with her work.
It was another three hours later that she finished, and turned, exhausted, to find the three young men watching her, dressed in 1930's wizarding attire, and with bags on their shoulders. The bags were extended, much like hers was, and contained important things. Mementos, objects, money, and in her case, knowledge.
She'd given Draco a bag like the others, and it only slightly surprised her to see him so prepared. He'd obviously been tempted, teetering on the edge before finally choosing to go with them.
She'd raided the Black and Malfoy libraries, aided by Draco, who had unlocked hidden caches and vaults to give her access to boundless knowledge, and taken as many tomes as she could, the beautiful first editions and the dark grimoires full of forbidden knowledge. She'd created a path into her bag as well, refining the Undetectable Extension Charm into an actual space. Inside she'd made her own version of the Room of Requirement, a huge library with a small bedroom off the side.
It was good to know she'd have a sanctuary, somewhere she didn't need to be anything other than Hermione.
What the others had done with their bags, well, she wasn't sure.
She knew Draco had also taken a lot of books, there had been gaps in the shelves and a strangely defiant look on his pale face when he'd shown her the ancient vaults, as though he was daring her to ask.
"We ready?" she asked quietly, "No going back after this point."
The three young men nodded at her seriously, and she let out a soft breath before passing out the potion bottles, each with their names on the label. Malfoy looked at his in surprise, before meeting her gaze once more. She shrugged, "I had a hunch."
He gave her another crooked smile, "You were always smarter than the rest."
"Bottoms up," Ron raised his flask and the quartet drank their potions, pulling faces of surprise at the taste. "Taste's like…I don't know… some kind of hearty stew? Or roast?"
Malfoy scoffed, "What are you talking about? It was like lemon, something clean and sharp."
Harry shook his head at both of them, "It was sweet. I didn't taste any citrus or stew at all."
Malfoy sneered, "Well then we've gotten that much right. The potion is supposed to echo our innermost selves. Makes sense it would taste different to each of us."
They waited, quiet with nerves until Hermione's wand chimed, letting them know that thirty minutes had passed and the potion was fully in their systems.
"Here we go," Harry murmured, and they moved to the huge object in the centre of the room.
The Tempus Orb, or so the Unspeakables had been calling it, was an object that had been confounding them for decades. It had been recovered back in 1930, from the estate of a wizarding family, and classified as something the Unspeakables should study.
It had been resisting exactly that for decades now.
All they knew was that it was connected with Time.
Hermione, however, had read the notes by the previous Unspeakables who had studied the object and with her own time-turner knowledge and experience, saw it for what it could be.
She'd smuggled it out of the Ministry yesterday and had brought it to Grimmauld Place. The basement to be exact, and now, here they were.
Malfoy gripped Harry's arm, and Hermione silently stuck it there. Ron grabbed onto Harry's other arm, and she repeated the gesture a second, and then a third time to connect her to Ron. Then she raised her arm, heart in her mouth as she cast her spell.
" Dissindere Temporalis ."