Warning: This is the first story I've ever written where none of the good guys receives a happy ending. (There is no torture or gore, just no happy ending. Oh, and a few character deaths.)
The Dangers With Time Travel
Walking around the diagram painted on the floor, Harry James Potter made sure that every line, every squiggle, every rune to the last detail was copied down correctly.
What he was about to do was not only extremely dangerous but illegal as hell. Harry shuddered to think what the magical world would do to him if they ever found out about his plans, but as the saying goes, beggars can't be picky. And after everything that had happened, Harry was desperate, desperate enough to attempt this dangerous ritual in hopes he'd be able to changes things for the better.
Because the life of the Boy Who Lived sucked.
Sirius was dead, thanks to Voldemort's trickery and Harry's stupidity.
Remus was still alive but absent, Harry hadn't seen or heard from him since that fateful battle when Sirius was killed. The werewolf probably blamed Harry for what had happened but was too honourable, or possible too cowardly, to say it to Harry's face.
Voldemort was back at full strength, spreading terror and fear among the magical population.
The new Minister of Magic, what's-his-name, was hounding Harry to become the Ministry's lapdog, not caring a whit about Harry's thoughts or his feelings, simply wanting a figurehead he could rally support around.
Professor Dumbledore refused to teach him, despite his earlier promise of training, contenting himself with showing Harry memories detailing the life on one Tom Riddle. Just how was that supposed to help Harry defeat the menace?
As if that wasn't enough to boggle anyone down, Draco bloody Malfoy was up to something but no one wanted to believe him. Not the teachers, although that was hardly shocking considering his past history of asking them for help. No what truly pissed Harry off was that his friends didn't believe him either, brushing his concerns off as inconsequential.
And that was why Harry had hatched this crazy plan in hopes of making changes that would ensure that he never again ended up in this hopeless situation.
Because Harry Potter, the darling of the magical world who everyone put their hopes to no longer had any hope himself. He had given up.
He had given up on his fellow man, the only one he still trusted to be there for him was Sirius Black.
Who was, most inconveniently, dead.
But Harry was going to change all that.
The moment the clock struck midnight.
Fortunately he only had to be patient for ten more minutes. Ten measly minutes before his life would be put back on track.
"Why are we doing this again, Hermione?" Ron hissed as his bushy haired friend dragged him through deserted corridors, glancing nervously over his shoulder. "It's the middle of the night. What if Filch catches us? Or worse, Snape?"
"The chance of us getting caught would be decidedly less if you would just. Stop. Talking," Hermione hissed, quickly reaching the end of her rope. "And I told you already, Harry is up to something; it is our duty to stop the prat before he lands himself in hot water, again. So would you kindly stop dragging your feet and hurry up?!"
"But there's someone here, Hermione. I can feel their eyes glaring holes in my back," Ron whined, casting another glance over his shoulder. Someone was following them, he was sure of it.
"Honestly, Ron, who would be spying on us? You said it yourself, it is the middle of the night; everyone should be in their beds now."
"Yeah? We aren't," Ron pointed out waspishly, "and neither is Harry."
Hermione rolled her eyes in annoyance, consulting her tracking spell before heading down a new corridor. "Harry is out of bed because he is plotting something stupid. We are out of bed so we can stop whatever idiotic notion Harry has taking into his head this time. How likely do you think it is that someone else is up and about at this time of the night, doing the exact same thing we are? Stop being so paranoid and come on."
Grumbling under his breath, Ron allowed Hermione to drag him to wherever Harry had holed up, thinking longingly of his bed where he could be curled up now, fast asleep if it wasn't for Hermione and her paranoia.
Yes, Harry had been a bit... absent of late, not that Ron had really noticed, he'd been too busy with Lavender to really take any notice of his best friend, but that was only natural considering his new relationship. Girlfriends did come before best mates, after all. Harry knew that and that was why he no longer pestered Ron for games of chess or wanted to talk about Quidditch at all hours. Harry was a great mate who understood. Now if only Hermione could be as understanding as Harry was.
Hermione for her part was fuming that Ron refused to take her seriously. Harry had proven over and over again that he could not be trusted. The Philosopher's Stone, the Chamber of Secrets, the whole mess at the Department of Mysteries, the list just went on and on.
No, Harry clearly needed a guiding hand and she was just the witch to extend that hand, with the help of Headmaster Dumbledore, of course. Now all she had to do was ram that knowledge deeply into Harry's stubborn head.
"Aha! Here he is, I knew that spell wouldn't let me down," Hermione cried in triumph, glaring angrily at the door when it refused to open.
"Hmph, we'll see about that," Hermione muttered angrily, using the override Professor Dumbledore had provided her in anticipation of a situation just like this one.
"Harry James Potter, what in the world do you think you are doing?!" Hermione shouted, rushing into the room, taking in the various runes and symbols, suddenly realising that she had only moments to stop the ritual Harry had enacted.
"Yeah, Scarhead, whatever are you up to?" a gleeful voice asked.
Whirling around, Hermione was dismayed to find Draco Malfoy standing in the doorway, his wand in hand, a most unpleasant look on his face.
"Bloody hell! See, I told you someone was spying on us. Bloody ferret!" Ron shouted, pointing an accusing finger at the blond, adding a sneer for good measure.
"We don't have time to deal with Malfoy now, we need to stop Harry first," Hermione stated with authority, moving forward with the intent to yank Harry out of the diagram, thus ending this foolishness.
"Are you daft?!" Draco exclaimed, lurching forward to stop the foolish Mudblood.
"We have to stop him!" Hermione cried, not really paying any attention to the other boy.
"Of course we do, but if we aren't careful the magical backlash could kill us," Draco hissed, grabbing hold of the girl's arm to make sure that she couldn't step into the diagram.
"Let go of her, Malfoy!" Ron shouted, pointing his wand squarely at the Slytherin.
"Don't be a fool," Draco hissed, glaring daggers at the redhead. "Any additional magic at this point could spell ruin for us all."
"As if I'd believe you, you... ferret, now let Hermione go!"
"Potter, stop the bloody ritual, you have no hope of finishing it correctly now you fool," Draco shouted, holding on to the struggling Hermione while keeping a weary on Ron. They needed to stop this now but he didn't trust the Gryffindorks to do it correctly.
Harry was not happy to have his private sanctum invaded, especially not after he had already begun the ritual. The idiots that posed as his friends were going to get him killed if they didn't step back and shut the hell up.
But with Malfoy added to the mix, not to mention Hermione's usual I-always-know-best attitude, Harry held no hope of being able to finish this in peace. But he'd be damned if he stopped now. He was so close, so very, very close.
Keeping up his chanting, Harry watched in disbelief as the three teens struggled and fought, ending up tripping each other, falling into the pentagram just as Harry uttered the last syllables of the spell, pushing him out of the pentagram as they landed in a heap on the floor.
There was a bright flash of light and then there was only darkness.
"We need to know what happened and we need to know now," a voice shouted angrily causing lances of pain to shoot through his skull.
"Now, now, Severus, I understand that you are worried about young Mr Malfoy but we will not receive out answers any faster if we endanger Mr Potter's health, now will we?" an amused voice chided gently, causing his teeth to ace for some reason.
"Albus, you can't protect the boy forever. Three students are gone, missing from the castle, and the only one who can tell us what happened is your precious golden boy," the first voice sneered. Yet, even as it was filled with scorn, he rather liked that voice, it was deep and rather soothing, and suddenly he was overcome with curiosity to see what the body the voice belonged to looked like.
Forcing his eyes open, he groaned as bright light hit his retinas. Slamming them shut, he buried his face in the pillow, mentally apologising to his poor, abused eyes.
"Ah, I see that you are awake, my boy. How do you feel?" the soothing voice that rose his hackles asked and he wished it would just. Go. Away. Didn't they realise he was in pain here?
"You can open your eyes now, Potter," the first voice stated, sounding snarky now rather than scornful.
Suddenly filled with a wish to see Mr Snarky, he carefully opened one eye. Feeling relieved to find the room suitable dimmed, he rolled over and opened both his eyes, taking a curious look around.
"Now then, Harry, please tell us what happened," the pretending-to-be-soothing voice said and he briefly turned to look at the old man, wrinkling his nose at the sight of the colourful robes. Honestly, didn't the man have any taste?
"Um, what happened where? And when?" he asked, turning his attention to the other man in the room. This had to be Mr Snarky, and, mmm, didn't he look yummy?
"Don't pretend to be stupid, Potter, we already know of your lack of intelligence," Snarky snapped.
"Well, hello Handsome," he purred, throwing back the covers and carefully getting out of the bed, grinning triumphantly when there seemed to be nothing wrong with his limbs.
"Mr Potter!" Snarky cried indignantly, his black eyes practically shooting daggers at the teen.
"Please, no need to be so formal for my sake," he purred, moving closer to the taller man, taking in his fine shape with appreciative eyes, feeling extremely glad that the pounding headache he had woken with was swiftly diminishing. Must be the delicious company he was keeping.
"Now, now, Harry, there is no need to be teasing poor Severus. Please tell us what happened to cause you to be found unconscious with an extreme case of magical fatigue," the old man said, attempting to assert his authority.
He merely snorted and kept on staring at Snarky. No, his name was Severus, wasn't it? "Severus... I like that name, it suits you," he said with a soft smile, dropping the teasing for now as Snaky didn't seem to respond well to it.
"What happened, Mr Potter?" Severus asked, eyeing the teen worriedly, not liking the look in the boy's oh so green eyes. The look was most... disturbing.
"Beats me," he responded cheerfully with a careless shrug of his shoulders. "In fact, I don't think I recall anything of what happened before waking up here. Where am I anyway?" he asked, turning around in a slow circle as he took a better look at the room they were standing in. It seemed to be a medical room but he didn't recognise it.
"You don't remember being involved in a dangerous magical ritual?" Severus asked in disbelief, wondering if the brat would try and weasel out of trouble by claiming amnesia.
"A ritual you say? That's strange. I'm a skilled wizard, I won't deny that, but my strengths do not lie with magical rituals. Are you positive I am the one who performed it?" he asked, turning back to Severus for answers, continuing to ignore the old man who appeared to be slowly turning a lovely shade of purple.
Severus paused, but found himself telling the truth. "We are not absolutely certain what happened, but three students are missing, you were found unconscious, and this book was lying next to you."
He accepted the book and searched out the bookmarked page. "Hmm... a time displacement ritual. A very daring attempt on whoever's part; daring or desperate. Which one would you pick, Severus?" he asked with a purr, enjoying the way the dark man's name rolled off his tongue.
Severus hesitated before reluctantly replying, "Desperate."
"I thought so," he hummed with a nod, turning back to the book. "Well, my guess is that the ritual was interrupted and the three missing students were sent back in time. Hopefully, they ended up back in their younger bodies since the few notes scribbled in the margin seems to indicate that was the caster's wish."
"And if they didn't?" Dumbledore asked with some dread.
"Then they could be anywhere in history. The easiest way to check is to search through the historical archive for their names," he replied with a shrug, closing the book with a snap. "So, care to tell me where I am?"
"You are at Hogwarts, School of Whitchcraft-"
"And Wizardry," he finished Severus' reply before crying out in pain, clutching his head as he dropped to his knees.
"Potter!" Severus cried out in alarm, grabbing hold of the brat and supporting his descent towards the floor.
"Urgh, bloody hell, well I hope the little beast will have a grand time dealing with the three menaces that used to be my friends."
"Harry?" Severus asked with some dread, somehow knowing that the boy he was holding was not the Golden Boy of Gryffindor.
"Nope, sorry to disappoint you, old chap, but my name is Salazar, Salazar Slytherin. A pleasure to meet you, sir. Did I happen to mention that your voice sounds like pure sin?" Salazar purred, licking his lips in anticipation. It had been a long time since he'd met someone worthy of his attention.
"Bloody hell!" Severus exclaimed, letting go of the teen and leaping to his feet, backing away as far as he could while he had the chance. Harry Potter was now Salazar Slytherin? One of the founders of Hogwarts? And the brat was hitting on him?
"Oh dear," Albus murmured in shock, finding it difficult to believe that Harry's soul had somehow been replaced with the soul of Salazar Slytherin. Who was repudiated to being the Dark Lord of his time.
"The Dark Lord!" Albus exclaimed with a happy grin. "Sir Salazar, I am sorry to inform you that we are having a bit of a problem with one of your descendants. Do you think you could help us with him before you return to your own time?"
"Albus!" Severus hissed, glaring angrily at his employer, could the man be anymore insensitive? They were talking about the man's great grandson. You did not ask a displaced time traveller to take out the only living relative he has left.
"I will need more information before granting you my aid. I am sure that Severus can fill me on what mischief my relative has been up to. Killing off ones heir is rather unpleasant business, it simply isn't done on a whim, you understand," Salazar said, his entire focus on Severus much to Dumbledore's chagrin.
"Of course, I do understand, Mr Slytherin. Severus, why don't you take our guest down to the kitchen? I am certain he must be famished by now. I am positive you can give Mr Slytherin all the information he needs. After all," Albus added with a chuckle, "you are the current Head of his House."
Severus levelled his most potent Death Glare at the Headmaster who had the audacity to twinkle his eyes merrily before leaving the infirmary.
Gritting his teeth, promising a most gruesome revenge, Severus plastered on a courteous smile and said, "Shall we?"
"Oh we shall, Severus, we shall," Salazar purred over his shoulder as he sauntered out of the hospital room, curious to see how the castle had held up over the years. That reminded him, "Tell me, Severus, what year am I in? And why would this Potter be so desperate that he attempted such a dangerous ritual? For that matter, why didn't the Ritual master stop him before he could complete the spell?"
Sighing, Severus resigned himself to a long, difficult day. Hopefully, they would be able to send the founder back soon, he wasn't sure how much more of this... blatant flirting he could deal with.
"By the way, Severus, the ritual, once enacted, cannot be undone."
A horrified look came over the Potions master's face.
"Yes, handsome, I am here to stay," Salazar said with a wicked laugh.
"Merlin help me, just kill me now," Severus moaned as he realised that he was doomed, just... doomed.
Draco Malfoy shot up in his bed screaming in anger.
"Drakie poo, are you alright? Did you have a bad dream?" Narcissa asked appearing by her son's bed, rushing forward to take her distraught child into her arms, shushing him gently.
Draco looked at the woman hugging him, wondering just when his mother had lost her mind. Drakie poo? What the hell kind of nick name was that?!
"Draco? Are you alright, son?"
Glancing over his mother's shoulder Draco couldn't help but sag in relief. His father was home and safe.
Wait a minute, his father was home?!
"When did you get out of Azkaban, Father, and why didn't you tell me?" Draco asked, feeling hurt that his parents would keep something like that from him.
"Azkaban? Oh my poor baby, what a horrible nightmare you must have had. But everything is fine now, see? Your father is here and he is not going anywhere," Narcissa said soothingly, pressing a loving kiss to her baby's temple.
Draco twitched, it had been years since his parents had been so openly demonstrative of their affection. It had begun to taper off when he turned seven and had ended when he was around ten when he was considered a big boy who no longer needed hugs and kisses from his parents.
"Wait a minute," Draco whispered, suddenly remembering the ritual Potter had been performing. He had never managed to find out just what Scarhead had been trying to do. The Weasel and his Mudblood had insisted on getting in the way.
"What year is it?" Draco asked urgently, a pit of dread forming in his stomach.
"It is 1986, Drakie poo," Narcissa replied, lovingly stroking his hair.
Draco felt his eye twitch at the hated nickname, it sounded even worse when his mother said it than when Pansy did. Mother must have told her, Draco suddenly realised. Mother must have told her and Pansy picked it up, thinking it would 'endear' me to her or something. Well, I'm not going to put up with it this time, Draco vowed fiercely.
"Wait a minute, did you say 1986?" Draco asked incredulous once his brain had registered just what his mother had said.
"Yes, are you worried about your birthday? There is no need for you to be, your sixth birthday is next week and your mother and I have a wonderful surprise planned for you," Lucius said, giving his wife a worried look.
"Bloody Hell!" Draco whispered as the horror of his situation sank in. He was six years old.
"Mind your language, Draco," Lucius said sternly, not about to allow his heir to use such crude language.
Draco could only stare at his father in horror. He was. Six. Years. Old. He would have to live his life all over again. It would be ages and ages before he gained any freedom from his parents again.
This meant... that he would have to go back and redo all the years at Hogwarts. "Damn you, Potter! I curse you to the deepest pit in hell, do you hear me? To the deepest pit in hell!" Draco shouted at the ceiling, whishing he had the blasted boy within reach just so he could wring the sod's neck. How dare Potter do this to him? How dare Potter curse him like this?
"Draco, I think you need to lie down for a bit. Lucius, please call the Healers. And see if Severus are available, I fear our poor little angel is not feeling very well," Narcissa said, taking charge of the situation.
"No, Mother, you don't understand, Potter cursed me," Draco said earnestly, watching in dismay as his parents shared a look before Lucius swiftly conjured some parchment and ink, scribbling a quick note sending it off with a house-elf to summon the Healers.
"Don't you worry, baby, Mother will look after you, and your father will too," Narcissa soothed, tucking her baby in firmly, determined to find out what had happened to her boy and ensure that they paid for what they had done to her son.
"Kindly get your hands off me, Mother. I am not cursed, well, I am, but not in the way you think," Draco said in exasperation.
His parents shared another worried look.
"Potter was attempting some kind of ritual, I never got the chance to find out which one. Weasel and his Mudblood were hunting him down and I followed them to find out what the Scarhead was up to. The utter idiots interrupted the ritual somehow and I guess I was caught in the backlash," Draco said, trying his utmost to explain to his parents what had happened.
"Don't worry, Draco darling, your father will put everything right again," Narcissa said soothingly.
"No! You don't understand. I'm not six years old! I'm really sixteen! I've somehow travelled from the future," Draco said desperately.
"I'm getting the Healers," Lucius stated and Apparated away leaving a distraught Narcissa to try and calm an equally distraught Draco.
Draco groaned and banged his head against the pillow. He would get Potter back for this. One way or the other, he would make sure that Harry Potter paid for doing this to him. Revenge would be so sweet, and enemies of the Malfoys would shudder for years when they whispered of the fate that would befall the one who dared to mess with the Malfoy heir.
Ronald Weasley opened his eyes and blinked in confusion when the world around him turned out to be blurry. Blinking rapidly did nothing to change the blurriness so Ron decided to go for help, only to find that his limbs didn't want to obey him.
Letting out a yell of alarm, Ron was dismayed to hear a loud wail instead of the words he'd meant to say. Trying again, another wail came out of his mouth.
Starting to get truly worried, Ron yelled as loudly as he could, sighing in relief as the door to his room opened, at last, someone had come to help him.
"My, my, someone is hungry tonight, aren't you baby? Yes you are, yes you are."
Ron could only stare in disbelief as his mother, at least he assumed it was his mother, the voice sounded about right and the red blur that he guessed was his mother's hair appeared to be the right shade of red too.
Doing his best to wave his arms, Ron tried to tell his mother what was wrong but she didn't seem to understand him.
"Now, now, Ronnie, there is no need to be impatient, I'm right here," Molly said soothingly, settling into the rocking chair, preparing to feed her latest bundle of joy.
Ron could only stare in horror as his mother bared one of her breasts. She didn't... She couldn't... Did she really expect him to...?
Ron shuddered in horror as he realised that, yes, his mother expected him to breastfeed.
"I'd rather die first!" Ron yelled, fighting to get away from his deranged mother, turning his head in disgust when nothing he did worked.
I refuse to do anything so revolting, so disgusting, Ron thought rebelliously. He was sixteen years old, for Merlin's sake, not a bloody baby. His mother better start feeding him real food, on a plate, thank you very much, because he absolutely, positively refused to get that close to his naked mother. Didn't the woman understand how bloody obscene this was?
I will never forgive Harry for this. That ritual... It must have been that blasted spell Harry was chanting. Somehow I ended up in the bloody past. As a baby. I will have to live through my entire life. I don't care what my parents or Dumbledore say, I will never, ever be friends with Harry bloody Potter again, Ron fumed as he fought off his mother's attempt to breastfeed him yet again.
No, I will never forgive you for this, Potter, never!
"I don't know what to do, Arthur," Molly cried in distress. "Ron won't eat! I don't understand what happened. He was fine one day, a happy baby with a strapping appetite, just as his brothers, and then, suddenly, just over night, Ron refuses eat. He cries every time I place him at my breast, and nothing I do can make him change his mind. I simply don't know what to do," Molly wailed.
"There, there, Molly love, I'm sure it is simply a phase he is going through. I am sure that St Mungo's can help set him right again," Arthur said soothingly, rubbing comforting circles on his distraught wife's back.
It truly was puzzling, but he was sure that everything would work out just fine in the end. They might not have much money, but they did have plenty of love, a love strong enough to get them through anything life might chose to throw at them.
Hermione blinked in confusion as she found herself crying in a bathroom stall.
Whait... What am I doing here? I haven't been crying in a bathroom since my first year. I never dared to seek refuge there again after the troll incident, so why am I crying in a toilet?
Doing her best to dry her tears, Hermione jumped when she heard a strange sound. Wiping her face off a last time, Hermione opened the door to the bathroom stall she was apparently hiding in and peeked outside.
Right into a pair of yellow eyes and then the world turned dark.
Coming too, it took Hermione a while to figure out what had happened. They had interrupted Harry's spell/ritual/whatever and she had somehow been transported into the past.
Somehow, she had changed places with Moaning Myrtle and had been the one gazing into the eyes of the bloody Basilisk, meaning that she was now dead and a bloody ghost.
Hermione spent quite a while fuming over that fact, inventing painful things to do to one Harry Potter when she saw him again.
Then realisation hit.
She was in the past.
She could change things.
Dashing out of the bathroom, Hermione set out to locate Professor Dumbledore, surely he could help her? If she exposed Tom Riddle, Hagrid wouldn't have to be expelled. If Riddle was stopped now, before he could start the war, why think of all the lives that could be saved.
Maybe she could be the one exalted as the saviour of the wizarding world instead of Harry. Not that she had anything against Harry being the Boy Who Lived, but there was so much that could be done with such fame, things that Harry simply refused to do.
If she was the saviour of the wizarding world...
If she had that power, why she could finally do something about the house-elves. And the unfair treatment of the Muggleborns. Not to mention that it was about time the wizarding world was dragged into the twenty-first century.
Before she could get lost in her dreams of what she could do to better the magical world - honestly, if Binns could teach History of Magic despite being a ghost, then she could act as Minister of Magic - Hermione spotted her favourite authority figure.
"Professor Dumbledore, Professor Dumbledore, you have to help me," Hermione cried, accidentally running through the professor, much to her consternation. Clearly, being a ghost wasn't as easy as it seemed.
"My dear child, are you quite all right?" Dumbledore asked, peering at the ghost with concerned eyes.
"I'm quite fine, thank you, Professor, apart from the fact that Tom Riddle killed me," Hermione sniffed, overcome with emotion as she realised that she'd been killed.
"Tom Riddle, you say? Are you quite certain it was him? I would hate to accuse an innocent student of murder, I'm sure you understand," Dumbledore said with a slight chuckle, reaching into his pocket for his lemon drops before remembering that he was talking to a ghost.
"Of course I'm sure who killed me!" Hermione snapped. "Tom Riddle is the heir of Salazar Slytherin. He is a Parselmouth and it is he who has been opening the Chamber of Secrets, letting Slytherin's Basilisk loose on the school.
"It just killed me, Professor. You have to stop him before he tries to blame poor Hagrid. He never opened the Chamber, all he did was rise an Acromantulas inside the school. Not that I think that is a good idea, but that's Hagrid for you. He loves deadly critters, calls them 'misunderstood'," Hermione said, rolling her eyes in annoyance.
"How do you know that Mr Riddle will blame Hagrid?" Dumbledore asked, curiously.
"I'm from the future, Professor. Somehow I ended up in the past. I'm not totally sure how it happened, but I think it has to do with a spell that Harry was casting. We were trying to stop him, but I guess we failed."
"From the future you say? Come with me, dear, I think we better take this conversation to the Headmaster's office," Dumbledore said, leading the way.
"Oh, of course," Hermione said, nodding her head in agreement. It wouldn't do to tip off Riddle before they could capture him, who knew what tricks that man had up his sleeve?
"Come in, Albus, I wasn't expecting you."
Hermione blinked, then realisation hit. Of course, Dumbledore wasn't Headmaster in this time. Well, it didn't really matter, he could still help her.
"I have come upon a most peculiar situation," Dumbledore replied, gesturing towards the ghost that was floating next to him.
"Oh my, you must be new, I don't think I recognise you," Dippet said, looking troubled.
"No, I just arrived here," Hermione said, launching into a somewhat jumbled explanation as to what had happened to send her here to the past.
"I think this is very dangerous information, Headmaster. We should let one of the Unspeakables handle this matter," Dumbledore said, giving the ghost a worried look. Yes, he wouldn't mind knowing what happened to him in the future, what achievements he had reached, and yet... Such knowledge was dangerous. Very, very dangerous.
"I believe that you are correct, Albus, let me call the Ministry of Magic," Dippet said, making his way over to the fireplace.
"But... What about Tom Riddle? Aren't you going to stop him?" Hermione asked, wringing her hands nervously.
"Of course we are, but we will leave that to the Ministry of Magic. I really do not have the power to deal with these matters," Dippet said with a kindly smile, feeling sorry for the ghost who clearly had been through a very traumatic ordeal.
"But..." Hermione protested feebly, but before she knew it she was within the bowls of the Department of Mysteries.
"Now then, you say you are from the future?" a cloaked figure asked. Hermione couldn't see his face, but he sounded warm and sympathetic, so she nodded her head, still wringing her hands nervously.
"How extraordinary. It isn't often we see time travellers. It is quite an honour to meet you, miss. Now then, for the records, could you please tell me your name, date of birth, and everything you can remember of what happened in the magical world during your time there?"
Swelling up with importance, Hermione launched into as detailed description of her adventures as she was able. The Unspeakable interrupted her frequently for clarifications, which was somewhat annoying, but Hermione did her best to answer his questions as thoroughly as she was capable. Finally, someone was appreciating her intellect and her superb memory.
"I'm impressed," the Unspeakable said once the ghost had come to a halt. "You have lived a most impressive life. Is there anything you'd like to add to your chronicle?"
"No, I don't think so," Hermione said thoughtfully. "I think I've mentioned everything of importance.
"Good," the Unspeakable said with a smirk, drawing his wand.
"What...?" Hermione managed to squeak before she was captured inside a small cube that was swiftly placed inside one of the Unspeakable's numerous pockets.
"Uncle, I come to you with important information. Information that can very well change the future of our world."
"So formal, nephew?" the current Lord Black asked, arching an eyebrow.
The Unspeakable didn't answer, merely handing over the transcript of the interview he had performed earlier that day.
The head of the Black family accepted the papers and began to read, a look on incredulity creeping over his features the further he got.
"I shan't insult your intellect by asking if this is the truth," Lord Black said once he had finished reading and had some time to think about this new information. "No matter how much I wish to doubt it.
"If this is indeed what the future holds for us...
"Where is the ghost now?"
"Here," the Unspeakable replied, fishing the capturing cube out of his pocket. "I considered exorcising her, but we might need her for further elucidations so I did not dare risk it just yet."
"Well reasoned, nephew, I always knew you were a bright lad," Lord Black said, bestowing a rare smile upon his relative.
Glancing through the transcript once more, the elderly wizard came to a decision. "I have heard whispers of this Lord Voldemort. My own son is quite taken with him, and I know the same is true for the Malfoy heir.
"I do not like taking the life of the heir of such a prestigious family as Slytherin, but this future simply cannot be allowed to come to pass."
Nodding to himself, Lord Black made his decision. "I shall gather Lord Malfoy and a few others and inform them of this. Tom Riddle cannot be allowed to bring ruin to our world.
"We shall also discuss Albus Dumbledore and the role he will play in forming the future. I never approved of the way the Wizengamot handled the matters concerning the Dumbledore family.
"The father shouldn't have been sent to Azkaban. He was well within his rights to defend his family honour. Then again, he was a fool subjecting his family to those filthy Muggles. Nothing good will ever come from mixing our world with theirs, mark my words, nephew, nothing good will ever come from exposing our world to the Muggles," Lord Black stated with a sneer.
"Still, it surprises me that Albus Dumbledore has embraced the Muggles and the Muggleborns to such a degree. I would have thought..."
Rising his hand to dismiss the younger man, he suddenly paused. "I do not mean to doubt you, but I am surprised you managed to get the girl to tell you all this. Wasn't she at all concerned about spilling such secrets?"
The Unspeakable chuckled. "She was a bit hesitant at first, but it was remarkable easy to get her to speak. A few reassuring words of my rank put her to ease immediately. All that was needed after that was a few flattering words concerning her intelligence and the chit couldn't speak fast enough.
"The little fool," the younger Black added under his breath with a sneer. "Then again, you can hardly expect better from a Mudblood, now can you?"
"Indeed," Lord Black agreed. "Well, I'm off to see Lord Malfoy. Together we should have little problems putting an end to this Lord Voldemort nonsense."
"Thank you, Uncle, may fortune favour your endeavours. Tojour Pure."
"Tojour Pure, nephew, Tojour Pure."
Blinking his eyes open, Harry swiftly stumbled backwards with a cry of alarm. There was a maniac with a bloody sword charging at him. A sword. Clearly he hadn't ended up back with the Dursleys as he'd expected, and Harry mentally cursed the three bumbling idiots – two who used to be his best friends – for bungling this up for him.
So… If he wasn't at the Dursleys, then were in the world was he? Scanning his surroundings frantically while keeping a wary eye on the maniac with the sword, thankfully the idiot had stopped attacking him and was now just standing there, looking like an idiot, Harry could have cried when his eyes landed on the castle standing so majestically a few yards away. How he could have missed seeing it Harry didn't know, and right now he really didn't care. He was at Hogwarts and surely Dumbledore could help him sort out what had gone wrong.
"Salazar, are you all right? Do you need aid?"
Blinking, Harry turned towards the maniac who appeared to be speaking to him although he couldn't quite make out the words. Opening his mouth to tell the idiot off, Harry realized with a start that he couldn't breathe. Reaching instinctually for his throat, nearly taking his eye out as he hadn't realized that he was holding a sword too, Harry frantically gasped for breath, but no oxygen reached his starving lungs.
Looking at the maniac beseechingly, Harry prayed that he would know what to do to help him, since Harry sure had no idea what was wrong, but before he could find out if the maniac was willing to aid him or not, the ground was smacking him in the face and then the world turned black.
"I don't know what happened, Helga! How could this have happened? Salazar knows, he knows, Helga, that I always combine that charge attack with a choking hex. How many times has he been griping at me about my predictability? How I should come up with new strategies once in a while? How it wasn't good for the students to always know what their teachers would do?
"So tell me, tell me, why in Merlin's name didn't he cancel the hex?" Godric Gryffindor cried, tears streaming down his face as he looked at the lifeless body of his friend and fellow founder.
"I don't know, Ric, I simply do not know. My scans have come up with nothing, but it is clear to me that something must have happened to him," Helga Hufflepuff said, doing his best to sooth the distraught man.
"He was looking at me, Helga, with such pleading in his eyes. And I just stood there and did nothing. But not even in my wildest ideas could I have guessed that he was being slowly killed by my own choking hex. Why didn't he cancel it, Helga? Why?"
"I don't know, Ric," Helga sighed sadly. "I don't know, and… I fear that we never will."
"Ah, Severus my boy, have you had any luck finding our wayward students?" Albus asked, all but giving his Potions master a pleading look.
Sighing heavily, Severus slowly, reluctantly shook his head no. "I'm sorry, Albus, but there is no mention of them that I can find. Potter obviously ended up in the Founders time, but there are no mention of a time traveller landing among them. In fact, there is no reliable source detailing what happened to Salazar Slytherin anywhere where I could find it," Severus reported, hating to see the light in the Headmaster's eyes dim yet again.
Which was understandable considering just how important Harry Potter was to the war. What would happen to them now that the prophecy child was gone? Could they still defeat the Dark Lord or had the war already been lost? Severus hated not knowing and yet there simply was nothing more he could do, other than taking a time turner and go back and attempt to stop the foolish child from doing the ritual in the first place.
So far Albus had refused that option, but Severus was reaching the end of his rope and if things didn't change he would steal a time turner and go back, with or without the Headmaster's approval.
"Ah, Lord Slytherin, thank you for joining us. Have you had any luck unravelling what went wrong with the ritual?" Albus asked, the twinkle in his returning as his eyes landed on the misplaced Founder.
Severus gritted his teeth and resisted the urge to hex the insufferable man who insisted on stalking him everywhere he went. Not even the prospect of learning forgotten potions from the man made his situation even remotely tolerable.
"Headmaster," Salazar said with a slight nod, moving his chair so that he was sitting as close to his yummy target as possible, ignoring with ease the dark glower sent his way by said target.
"As promised I have examined the diagram and analyzed the residual magic left in the room where the ritual took place. I have also conversed with Hogwarts herself and I am sorry to report that the Potter boy did not survive his arrival in the past long. Apparently the two of us swapped bodies during a duel with Godric Gryffindor.
"The man is boringly predictable when duelling with a sword, but there is no denying that he is, was, one of the most skilled duellers of our time. Only I was better," Salazar said matter-of-factly, having never bothered with false modesty. "Unless the boy knew his way around a sword I fear he stood no chance."
"I see," Albus said with a sad sigh, feeling his heart clench with grief and regret. Grief that such a bright, brilliant boy had been taken from them, and regret that he had failed Harry so much that the boy had felt that such a dangerous ritual was his only option to deal with his task.
"And the other missing students?" Albus asked with dread.
"They too were sent to the past, but no to our past I fear," Salazar said slowly, pulling thoughtfully on his lower lip.
"Not our past?" His audience echoed in disbelief.
"No. The ritual was interrupted, obviously, and while I was examining the residual magics still floating around the room, I found surprisingly strong traces of transdimensional energies.
"In other words, Mr Potter, the initiator of the ritual, was sent into the past, our past, as he planned, just further back than he had intended I would surmise, while the other three students, as far as I can tell, was sent into a side dimension.
"In truth, it is quite possible that all three of them ended up in three different side dimension," Salazar concluded with a small shrug of his shoulders. It was a nice mystery, but like he had stated when he first arrived to the present, this type of magic was not his forte, not to mention that he had little patience for rituals, preferring the subtle since that was Potions. No, this had been Rowena's area of expertise and Salazar knew that he would get no further with this investigation.
"Then there is no hope getting the children back?" Albus asked with a heavy sigh.
"I fear not, Headmaster," Salazar replied with a small bow.
"Oh dear. I fear that young Harry had a rather important role to fill in the war. What will happen to the prophecy now? An initiated prophecy are never unfulfilled, magic herself will not allow it," Albus stated with a worried frown.
Salazar rolled his eyes in annoyance. "You said it yourself, Headmaster. An initiated prophecy never goes unfulfilled. Since Mr Potter was successful sending himself to the past, would this not indicate that the prophecy was already fulfilled?"
"But that is impossible!" Albus cried in astonishment. "Tom Riddle has not been defeated yet. We need Harry to fight him, and yet the boy is no longer with us!"
Sneering disdainfully at the old man, Salazar rose to his feet, forcing Severus to do the same. "I am well aware how history has blackened my name, Albus Dumbledore, but at least I would never force a child to fight my battles for me. It does not speak well of you that you are so eager to push this duty onto a young boy's shoulders. I wonder… how will history depict you in a thousand years? As a grand benevolent Headmaster of Hogwarts? Or as a cruel despot that used your position to mould the children of our world into your private army? Why don't you ponder that while sucking on those wile things you seem to enjoy so much? Come Severus, the air in here is turning rank. Why Hogwarts hasn't already kicked the old man out on his rear end I will never know. Perhaps the castle and I will need to have another long chat. Do you wish to accompany me?" Salazar asked, dragging the Potions master with him as he exited the office, leaving a flabbergast Headmaster behind.
He supposed that he would have to deal with his idiot offspring eventually, but he would never fight in the name of Albus Dumbledore. The old man had helped create this mess and did not deserve any respect from him. And he would make sure to extract Severus from the old man's grasp, the poor boy did not deserve the fate Dumbledore was doing his best to foist upon him.
He would always regret what had happened to the children, none of them deserved whatever fate had befallen them, but he couldn't help but feel grateful to Harry Potter for giving him this second chance at life. Maybe, just maybe, he had finally found the happiness he had been searching for his entire life.
Glancing at his fuming companion, Salazar couldn't hold back the smug smile that stretched his lips. Severus Snape would be his. And once this Tom Riddle had been dealt with, he would reclaim Hogwarts, become her master and return the castle to the former glory she had once held.
Yes, life was most definitely looking good for the Founder of Slytherin House.