The Problems of Time Travel
The elegant blond woman looked up at the clock for the fifth time. The two cups of coffee that she brewed were on the table, and she debated whether she should use a heating charm. The French had long held that such magic could disrupt the taste of food, but the French detested cold coffee more. The door opened and her guest sat down. He was an older gentleman, but still hale and hearty. He had a slight limp for which he carried an ebony cane set with rubies. It was a touch of vanity for she knew he kept himself as fit as men twenty years younger. He gently touched her hand, and for a moment, she was overcome with emotion. If the letter was correct, this would be the last time she would see her father.
"Don't cry, Apolline. It is for the best." He sipped the coffee. "Delicious as always."
Apolline Delacour dried her eyes. She had known this meeting was possible in theory but it had been five years since he had first set on this quest. Her father, the Comte de Montesquieu, was a talented wizard but more importantly, a senior official in the magical BCRA, the Bureau Central de Renseignements et D'Action. The mundane equivalent had been dissolved after the Second World War but the magicals had continued their work on national security and espionage. The Comte had been on the front lines of the Resistance but now he was in charge of research, the French equivalent of the Unspeakables. That was why he called on her. He was sure the ritual would work.
"How are Fleur and Gabrielle?"
"Fleur is preparing for the Triwizard Tournament. Gabrielle complains that she should be the contestant." The two laughed at the picture of a 8 year old competing against nearly adult wizards. "They will miss their grand-pere."
"Do not make me feel guilty. I must do this." Her father was a stubborn man.
"Can you not let the past stay the past?" He stood up. The Comte paced often when he thought. "It is impossible. I see them, all the dead. He murdered so many. Thousands in France. Tens of thousands over Europe. He killed Oriane."
Her mother had died when she was very young, in a bombing at the very end of the War. Apolline was barely two, and she only had pictures to remember her by. Her father had never forgotten, and despite being still young, had never remarried afterwards. Some gossips had whispered it was due to Oriane de Crecy's veela heritage but she doubted that very much. Her father was simply loyal to her memory, even 50 years later.
The Comte took out a folder. It should have been marked Top Secret, but the folder would unlock only to his magical signature. Any attempt to force it open would destroy the files within. There were photos and handwritten notes. The largest photo was a blond blue eyed boy, perhaps 19 years old. He looked arrogant and imposing, and that was before his ascension to the most feared wizard of the 20th century. There was a young Albus Dumbledore next to him, but the photo was dominated by the staring blond boy. Gellert Grindelwald.
Apolline looked through the other notes. There were pictures of a small cottage and Hogwarts Castle. "So you chose this time?"
The Comte clenched his fists. "Yes, the monster had been expelled from Durmstrang a year ago. He was taking a vacation to England, and he lived in Hogsmeade. I didn't want to kill him as a student. But he didn't have the Wand, then." Her father took out a pensive. "This is important, Apolline." She took out her wand and began to transfer her memories. Her father had explained that the world would change. Like everyone, she would forget the events of this time line but the pensive was charmed to remain true to this past. Her father had instructed her to use it only in dire circumstances.
He smiled sadly at her when they had finished. The two of them embraced, and this time, Apolline did not bother to hide her tears. The Comte said "It will be this afternoon. I have prepared everything." She was certain that he had not. There were always things that were forgotten - gifts never bought, words that should have been said. In a crazy world though, you could not do anything about that.
"Good bye Papa." She watched as he walked away on an his mad mission to kill Gellert Grindelwald in 1899.
The Comte activated the time turner. The ritual would make it a thousand times more powerful than a regular one, but would also consume his life energy. He was more than ready to pay that price. He appeared in a small village next to the Hogshead Inn. There was a young girl, barely a teenager fetching water. "Excuse me, Miss, do you know where I can find Albus Dumbledore?"
The girl shrank away at first, but then gulped and replied. "That's my brother. He is usually at the graveyard at Godric's Hollow. My parents passed away, and Abeforth and Albus go there on Sundays. I can take you, if you want."
The older man smiled. "Thank you very much, Ms?"
"Ariana, my lord."
"You are very kind." As they walked, he noticed her shuffling limp. It was clear that the young girl had been injured somehow in the past. He slowed her down. "Miss Ariana, can you tell me how you got hurt?"
She flushed a pale pink, and like a rabbit, was ready to bolt. "It was seven years ago, my lord. I was …." She blinked back tears. The file had been focused on Albus and Gellert but he had carefully researched the whole family. When she was 6, Ariana had been attacked by several muggle boys. The attack had been vicious enough that her father had retaliated and been sent to Azkaban.
"You have trouble controlling your magic?"
The girl nodded miserably. It all came out in a furious rush "I get angry. Then it flows out. My brother - he says I can use occlumency, but I can't. I can't close my mind."
Comte de Montesquieu looked at her gravely. He took out a heavy necklace of gold and rubies. "My wife, Oriane - she had a similar problem. This necklace will help you. It is charmed to keep the wearer's control."
Ariana looked stunned. "Sir, I can't accept. It looks awfully valuable."
He sighed. "It is. My wife died a long time ago. Please." The girl took it gently like it was some cursed object. "You can have your brothers inspect it, if you wish. But I will swear on my wand that I will not harm you." The Comte took out his yew and manticore feather wand. She carefully placed it on before he could swear. The necklace soothed her magic, and she felt much more at peace. "Shall we continue?"
The young girl and the old man arrived at the graveyard. There were three boys quarreling, and the heated tones suggested that it had been going on for a while. Two of them were clearly related to each other but the third boy stood by, sneering at this obvious waste of his time.
"I can't believe you would be so selfish, Albus!"
"I want to explore, to visit Europe. I am tired of being stuck in this village. There are so many things that need to be done for the Greater Good."
The Comte de Montesquieu had no time to waste. Already his energy was dropping and in a hour, he would be far too weak to duel even a normal teenage wizard. He shouted "Gellert Grindelwald!"
The blond boy turned quizzically to the old man. His disdain was still on his face when his head was blown off by a powerful blasting charm. For a moment, the three other bystanders were shocked silent. The Comte fell to his knees as his heart gave out completely. I got him, Oriane. I will be with you soon. The world blacked out and as he died, the Comte felt and heard nothing — not the screams of Albus Dumbledore, the call for the aurors of Abeforth Dumbledore, or the attempts to revive the man who had saved her magic of Ariana Dumbledore.
October 31, 1994
Hermione carefully brushed her bushy hair and checked her plain brown robes for ink stains. Normally she didn't care about her appearance but angering her headmistress was not advisable today. It wasn't a good thing at any time but this day was special. The spiteful woman had been even more on edge recently, reprimanding them for their laziness and exhorting them to be grateful. The truth was that today, she was grateful. Today, assuming all went well, she would go to Hogwarts. Hermione lined up with the other 15 students in the Society. The girls wore drab brown robes and the boys were in gray shirts and flannel pants. They ranged in age from 11 to 15, and Hermione was one of the older ones. Most Muggleborn had given up hope by their fourth year but Hermione and her friend Sally-Anne Perks had vowed to stay the course. Their headmistress marched out, ready to inspect her charges.
"Good morning, Mrs. Umbridge."
The head of the Society for the Treatment of the Muggleborn wore pink all over - a pink skirt, a pink cardigan, and a pink and black bow on top of her head. She waddled in front of them, her critical eye on any possible offense. She ruled the Society with an iron fist and Hermione had suffered from it before, many times. Hermione stood as straight as she could, and looked ahead. She had learned that attracting any attention from Delores Umbridge would be a painful experience. "You look less slovenly than usual." Umbridge was addressing all 16 students. "You will have a chance - thank your lucky stars - to encounter your betters today. The Minister of Magic has been Extremely generous to allow you to attend the ceremonies tonight. It is more than you deserve. It is almost like you are not stained by the muggle world. You all shall be on your best behavior. You will do absolutely nothing to upset our hosts or any other school."
"Yes, Mrs. Umbridge." The toad walked away into her carriage. She was traveling with Lord Malfoy and Senior Undersecretary Fudge. Hermione gave a sigh of relief. She knew that they were going by the Knight Bus, an insane contraption that looked like it would collapse and collide at the same time, but it was far better than watching every word in front of their Headmistress. She headed into the bus and put on several seat belts.
They arrived in time to see the other schools arriving. Hermione was amazed by the twelve enormous Abraxans that hauled the carriage holding the delegation from Beauxbatons. The Durmstrang ship was impressive but the Muggleborn had seen various carriages and vehicles. The Society had a small building and there was no space at all for a Care of Magical Creatures class. The rumor was that Headmistress Umbridge had destroyed several magical beasts after a niffler got loose in her office.
The Society for Treatment of the Muggleborn was not mentioned or introduced. Umbridge had promptly abandoned them, preferring to hobnob with the other school heads. Several of the Hogwarts professors clearly snubbed her, although Umbridge pretended not to notice as Dumbledore and Karkaroff were civil. Most of the Hogwarts students barely noticed them, although she detected some disdain from the Slytherins in attendance. Hermione wondered how they could not be noticed. Their brown and gray attire was far plainer than all the dress robes in sight. The Muggleborn students looked like medieval servants at a banquet, and if it were not for the presence of House Elves scurrying about, they might have been asked to carry back and forth trays of food and drink.
They had two hours before the banquet. Hermione had hoped to see the outside of the Hogwarts library and classrooms. She would have attended classes but they were suspended given the start of the Tournament. As she walked out of the Great Hall, it all went wrong, immediately. Several students had already cornered Dennis Creevy. The first year Muggleborn was surrounded by a pale blond boy accompanied by two large oafs, "Watch where you are going. How dare you bump into me. Do you know who I am?" The blond boy pulled out his wand and then sent a stinging hex at the 11 year old. Dennis' brother Colin rushed to protect him, but was promptly tripped by Oaf One.
Hermione saw red. She was never good at staying silent in front of mistreatment. Despite Sally-Anne's tug on her sleeve, she faced the blond twit. 'Leave him alone!" The boy, clearly a Slytherin by the serpent adorned on his robe, was initially surprised but then snorted.
"Well, well. Another uppity muggleborn. We all know what muggle women are good for." He raised his wand, while the pug nosed girl clinging to his elbow jeered at Hermione. She braced herself. She had been hexed several times by Umbridge. She would have loved to punch him in the nose but knew that would get her into more trouble, and quite possible all her classmates as well. Before the spell that could land, she heard the crackle of another wand as a boy with wild black hair and glasses deflected the hex. She noticed that he didn't bother with a Protego but simply redirected the spell harmlessly into the wall. That was very good technique but usually not learnt until older.
"Making trouble again, Draco?" The black haired boy was accompanied by several students, boys and girls, and the Slytherins were significantly outnumbered.
"These louts pushed me." Malfoy pointed at Dennis Creevy and his brother. A red head snorted in the background. "Shove off, Weasley."
The black haired boy stared Draco down. "You know that we are supposed to be polite to the other schools."
Draco smirked. "The Society for Muggleborn. Pull the other one. My father… "
"Your father will listen to Lord Black. He doesn't like misbehavior from his relatives."
There was a gasp from the Slytherins. Whoever this Lord Black was, the blond boy and his entourage did not want to upset him. Grumbling, Draco and his cronies left.
"Are you alright?" he said to Dennis Creevy. The younger boy sniffled a bit, and had a bruise on his arm. He turned to other muggleborn. "Hi, I am Harry. Sorry for my classmates. We are not like that, well at least not mostly. How do you guys like Hogwarts?"
The other Hogwart students introduced themselves. There were several red heads, who were all Weasleys, three boys and a girl. There was a Neville, and a Seamus who hit it off with Dean Thomas, another 4th year Society member. Hermione didn't catch many of the other names, but there was also two pretty Indian sisters who were possibly twins. While introductions were made, Harry cast an Episkey on Dennis, and the bruise disappeared. Hermione was busy watching the spell motions, and realized too late that she had not introduced herself. The boys were all eager to start a game of quidditch, Hermione had never understood the fanatical attachment to the game, but clearly muggleborn or pureblood, everyone loved quidditch. Even the girls were excited to see the game.
"Sorry guys, I can't play today." There were some groans of dismay and good natured ribbing but Harry told them he needed to do research in the library. As he walked away, he let the red haired boy called Ron borrow his broom. Hermione hastened to catch him. She asked hesitantly whether he could show her the way. "Of course. And you are?"
"Wait, you are Harry Potter!"
"Uh, I guess…"
"Your mum is Lily Evans! I have read her papers!"
"You have? Which ones?"
"All of them. Haven't you? I would have read all my mum's writings if I were you."
"Well, some of her research is hard to understand. Her latest work on…."
"Phoenixes and why travel isn't blocked by anti apparition wards!"
Harry blinked. Clearly this girl was very bright. "Err, yes. I didn't understand that one."
Hermione wondered if she had gone too far. "Oh, I am sorry. I am just so excited. Lily Evans is my role model. She was .."
"I know." Harry smiled. "She was the last muggleborn Head Girl. Mum is brilliant. You should meet her." Hermione gawped. "Do you think I can?"
Harry sigh. "Well, not today. She asked me to research some runes for her. Difference between Mesopotamia cuneiform and hieroglyphics. I need to finish before i see her. That's why I can't play quidditch."
"You are lucky. We can't study runes at the Society. All we do is read Ministry textbooks, and prepare for the future. We don't even have our own wands."
"No wands? How do you do magic?"
"We have to share wands with the whole class. They are not very good. I think most of them are broken."
They had arrived at the library. Hermione looked with wonder. "Aren't you coming in?" She bit her lip. "Muggleborns aren't allowed." She pointed at the sign. In Hogwarts: A history, there apparently had been a small annex built for muggleborn to read but in 1994, that room had vanished.
Harry frowned. "You know, they don't enforce those rules. Hogwarts hasn't had a muggleborn student since my mum graduated."
Hermione hesitated. "I don't want to get in trouble, or expelled."
"Well, you don't attend here, so I wouldn't worry about that. Besides, I get into enough trouble for two." He smiled. He whispered to her. "My mum is the professor of Alchemy here. My godmother is the Nurse. And I am Lord Black's favorite, and he is the chair of Hogwarts board. Come on, let's get you in." Harry opened the door to the massive library. There were stacks and stacks of books, higher than Hermione ever imagined. The books ranged from ancient grimoires to thin pamphlets with the most recent Evans Potter's name featured quite prominently on those. Hermione's eyes went wide. She felt strangely like she was home.
Two hours later, Harry had to drag Hermione out of the library. "The Triwizard will start soon! We don't want to be late." Hermione had left reluctantly but Harry's promise to let her borrow some of his mother's journals had distracted her. She wondered how many books could she borrow at once!
She had to sit far from Harry in the Great Hall. Harry went to sit with the Lions. She noticed that a lot of his friends from earlier today were there, with Neville sitting at his right. The red heads, including the girl, definitely tried to keep Harry close to him.
Mrs. Umbridge was not sitting with them, which was a great relief. She sat at the very end of the Head Table, and looked like she would fall off in any minute. Delores Umbridge was put next to a huge giant of a man, and looked rather put out by it. In the center, was Headmaster Dumbledore in a purple and star festooned approximation of a muggle tuxedo. The other two headmasters, Madame Maxine and Igor Karkaroff, sat to Dumbledore's right but there was a seat empty next to his left. Immediately to that left was an old wizard, who looked rather annoyed to be there. Hermione had never seen him in any of the pictures of the Daily Prophet, but judging from the deference shown to him, she inferred that he was Arcturus Black, Lord of House Black. She looked through the teachers and she saw a red headed witch with green eyes just like Harry's. That must be Lily Evans Potter, she thought. Dumbledore rose and gave a short speech, welcoming the houses.
The grand hall opened again, and in walked the Minister of Magic. Thomas M Riddle had been Minister of Magic for the last decade. In the beginning of his reign, there had been whispers that there was no noble house named Riddle but the backing of various purebloods and Dumbledore had quelled those rumors. He was a debonair wizard and was known to be behave more pureblood than most purebloods. He also had been a Head Boy and his magic was considered quite powerful indeed. Umbridge had declared Riddle to be the greatest Minister of Magic in the last hundred years. She noticed that the Slytherins applauded quite vigorously for Riddle although he was not unpopular with any of the houses or even foreign schools.
The Goblet of Fire was lit by the three Headmasters. Umbridge had tried to wheedle her way into the picture but was blocked by Rubeus Hagrid, who had escorted Madame Maxine up. The hall went silent, as the papers in the Cup spun in the name. She knew that was full of names of older wizards, 6th and 7th years, who had volunteered for the Tournament. The names came out and Dumbledore read them. "From Durmstrang, Victor Krum." A muscular boy in a red cloak stood to applause. The person clapping the most oddly was Ron Weasley in Gryffindor. "From Beauxbatons, Fleur Delacour." A beautiful blond girl stood. Hermione stared - she was undoubtedly the most attractive witch in the room, and everyone knew it. "Lastly, from Hogwarts, Cedric Diggory." A mature brown haired boy stood up, to great applause. Even the Slytherins joined the other two houses in congratulating the popular Hufflepuff.
Dumbledore motioned with his wand, and the Goblet's fire dimmed. "And so begins the Triwizard Tournament. Contestants, come with me. I congratulate them on their selection." As he finished the last words, the Goblet turned back to life, and the fire roared. That was shocking but what followed next would stun the room into silence. A fourth piece of paper rose from the Cup, and then drifted down like a feather into Dumbledore's outstretched hand. The old man's hands shook and then he opened the paper, and called out a final name. "Harry Potter."