Conjoining of Paragons
Chapter 3: Enigmatic Encounters
Disclaimer: This is a work of fanfiction based on the Harry Potter universe. All recognizable characters, plots, and settings are the exclusive property of J.K Rowling. I make no claim to ownership.
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August 9, 1942
The Home of Horace Slughorn
The sound of utensils clinking against plates slowly died at the lavishly decorated table that dominated Horace Slughorn’s dining room. The man in question had finished his meal some time ago, but his young charge was a rather slow eater. He never did eat much, either — Horace usually needed to coax him into eating three meals at all. Considering this, he was more than willing to wait for the young boy before him to finish, so long as he did indeed consume his meal at some point.
The young boy in question, Harry Potter — now Hadrian Pavonis — reflected on the last nine days spent at Horace’s not-so-humble abode.
After the conversation that followed the attack on Diagon Alley, Horace had agreed to house Harry for a short period of time. During which, he would be searching for a more suitable home for him long-term while he wasn’t at Hogwarts.
And Merlin was Harry happy that Horace had somehow gotten him into Hogwarts. He had no idea how the man had done it; all he knew was that his Hadrian Pavonis alias was now a full-blown identity that could withstand a thorough, legal investigation. He hadn’t asked many questions. Horace had given a vague answer about the perks of having friends in high places and Harry wisely hadn’t inquired any further.
He was skeptical though. He had been adopted once before and that hadn’t gone at all well. Being starved and shut up in a cupboard for most of the time spent in the home of that adopted family wasn’t exactly a great precedent. He didn’t tell any of this to Horace, but the man had still picked up on Harry’s nervousness early on and assured him he would make sure he trusted the family Harry was sent to.
That was another thing he was skeptical of.
Why would a wizarding family want to take in some random teenager who they knew nothing about? The Dursleys certainly hadn’t been pleased to care for him, and they were actually family. Petunia was, at the very least. Harry failed to see why any unrelated wizarding family would be at all interested in housing him. Horace had never shared these concerns. If half of what the man said was true, he was easily the most well-connected person the former Boy-Who-Lived had ever met. He seemed more than sure he would easily find a family that would be all too willing to take Harry in.
According to him, the difficult part wasn’t going to be finding a family who was willing to take Harry. The difficult part would be deciding which family would best suit Harry, both personally and politically.
Harry had looked dumbly back at him the first time the man had mentioned politics, but Slughorn had given him a sort of crash course on the subject.
He was still largely ignorant, but he knew the absolute basics.
The Wizengamot was the governing body of Magical Britain. Wizengamot seats were largely hereditary and there was a complex hierarchy in Magical Britain. Depending on how old and influential a family was, the seatholder for a family would have a designated number of votes. Founding Twelve Houses were at the top of the ladder, with Ancient and Most Noble Houses, Ancient and Noble Houses, Ancient Houses, and simple Houses ranked below them, in that order.
The Founding Twelve families were the descendents of the group credited for the founding of the Wizengamot in 1066 A.D. The body predated the Ministry of Magic by several centuries and it was apparently considered the true founding of Magical Britain. Ancient Houses were families that had been in the country for a designated amount of time, and the two rungs in between were even more complicated. Any family in those groupings had spent the necessary time in the country to be considered an Ancient House, but they had also had a certain number of Order of Merlin recipients, Ministers for Magic, or Hogwarts Headmasters in their history.
Houses were more simple. If a family had the money to pay the exorbitant fees that would annually be required to keep their seat active, they could petition the court to be given status as a House. The petitioning was really just a formality. It almost never failed to pass, since the Wizengamot wasn’t exactly shy about collecting more galleons.
Harry had also learned that the Wizengamot was divided into factions, much like most muggle nations. He’d heard Vernon say something one time about how people were always going to divide into factions when given the opportunity. It was apparently in their nature, at least speaking in political terms. Harry had no idea whether or not that was actually true, since he hadn’t known a damn thing about politics before arriving here, but he supposed the wizards of Britain were evidence supporting his uncle’s argument.
The next major component of the Wizengamot was fairly simple, though Horace had heavily stressed to Harry that he shouldn’t just look at the common, uneducated summary. That summary was that there were three factions. The Liberals, the Neutrals, and the Conservatives. Respectively, they were viewed by many as the Light, the Grey, and the Dark.
Horace encouraged Harry to look deeper into the matter. He said that such black and white categorizations were foolish and that they only told a tiny bit of the complex story. Harry was going to stay out of it for the time being, but if it ever became necessary to know more, Horace had given him a book on the matter.
And one on etiquette…
Merlin, Horace had drilled etiquette into him like no other. He implored Harry to continue the practices and progression while at his new family’s home over the summer, and he stressed not only how important it would be at Hogwarts, but also that he would likely still be rather far behind his peers.
Harry wondered how different Hogwarts was now as opposed to his own time. He couldn’t remember any of that being overly relevant, though perhaps it was a Gryffindor thing. Slughorn was the Head of Slytherin House, after all; something that had made Harry more than a little bit suspicious of the man early in their relationship. Since arriving at his home though, Harry had grown to appreciate Horace greatly and it forced him to somewhat rethink his narrow-minded beliefs surrounding the Hogwarts house system.
Perhaps it wasn’t quite as black and white as he had always imagined. Perhaps his dealings with Slytherins like Malfoy, his stooges, Parkinson, and the Quidditch team had been the exceptions, not the norm.
The thought of his own reality sent a sharp pang of sadness through Harry, ripping vigorously through his stomach and clawing viciously at his chest.
Merlin… had he ever botched his former reality.
He would have to make a very conscious effort not to do that this time around. He only hoped that all of this extra nonsense Horace was forcing him to do would be conducive to this goal.
He needed to be better.
He had mostly accepted the fact that his timeline was lost and he would never get it back. That didn’t mean he liked it, nor that he was okay with it. But he had very begrudgingly accepted it. In a warped, twisted sense, he was almost grateful for the reset.
Looking into Hermione’s and Sirius’s unseeing stares had been far too much. He had intuitively known no matter what he did, he would be unable to change that most unfortunate event. After a ridiculous amount of reflection over the past nine days, Harry had realized that a reality in which he had to suffer the consequences of that fateful night wasn’t a reality he would look forward to living in.
Not that he was grateful for being thrown fifty years back in time.
He was going to miss much from the world he knew. Ron, for example, would be a loss he mourned, probably for the rest of his life.
And there were other things he would miss as well.
The exhilarating thrill of victory alongside his Gryffindor teammates, who would likely have been his lifelong friends. He would miss summers at the Burrow and the smell of the polish he ritually applied to his Firebolt. He would greatly miss the feel of his invisibility cloak, its liquid-like texture flowing effortlessly down his skin, consuming him in an impenetrable current of protection.
But Hermione and Sirius… their losses had very nearly broken him. He had realized some time ago that if not for the exceptional circumstances that had seen him thrown headlong into the past, it might well have driven him to madness.
None of this was to say he was over being thrown back in time. He still dreamt horrible dreams about the future that could have been. He saw horrible visions every time he closed his eyes. Visions of a resurrected Voldemort running roughshod over all of his friends, whispering to Harry that he and he alone could have prevented it. He saw Professor Dumbledore’s broken body fall from the astronomy tower. He saw Professor Lupin fall to a purple blur of a spell, one that he did not rise from. He also saw the vision that had haunted him for most of the year; the vision that had served as his dementor-induced hellscape until he had finally and mercifully gotten a handle on the Patronus Charm.
His mother pleaded with Voldemort before Harry’s world was consumed in the same green light that had cruelly taken her away from him.
“Are you alright, m’boy?”
Harry’s head snapped up, hardly registering what the man across from him had said. He blinked several times, trying not to look nearly as dazed as he felt. “Sorry,” he mumbled. “I was lost in thought. What was it you said?”
Slughorn frowned. “I was simply asking whether or not you were alright.”
“Oh, I’m fine, sir. Thanks for asking.”
Slughorn‘s frown deepened as his beady eyes narrowed, but he didn’t press Harry on it either. “I have news,” he said in a businesslike tone of voice.
Harry could have rolled his eyes.
Along with etiquette and politics, Horace had spent a very large amount of time tutoring Harry in Potions since his arrival in his home. Harry had mentioned his disdain for the subject during one of their first conversations and the Hogwarts Potions Master had been suitably appalled. He’d since taken it upon himself to not only ensure that Harry was actually competent in the subject — something he most certainly wasn’t before the beginning of his most recent bit of instruction — but also to put at least a dent in the dense wall of disdain he held for the branch of magic.
Much of which could admittedly be solely blamed upon a tall, greasy-haired man who wasn’t even born yet.
With a tinge of utter revulsion, Harry wondered whether or not Snape’s parents might be attending Hogwarts. Not that he knew if Snape’s parents were even wizards, but he somehow had a hard time imagining the overgrown bat as anything less than a pureblood.
Harry had learned one very important detail about Horace Slughorn during his crash course in potions. One important detail that was blatantly obvious as the man drew out his announcement unnecessarily, a gleam of unmasked amusement sparkling in his dark eyes.
Horace Slughorn had a flair for dramatics, and he had no qualms about flaunting it for the entire world to see.
“What is it, sir?”
“I’ve found you a foster family.”
Harry’s mind blanked at the proclamation, hardly even registering Slughorn’s grandiose delivery.
He had already found a family willing to take in a complete stranger? What on earth had he bribed them with? What kind of connections could he possibly have? Which family was this? Merlin, imagine if it was the Malfoys. No, it surely couldn’t be the Malfoys — anything but the Malfoys.
“W-who is it, sir?” Harry hated the fact his voice shook and he hated even more how the Head of Slytherin House obviously took a savage sort of pleasure in the fact. It validated him and his gift for overdramatizing any given situation to absolutely ludicrous levels.
“The Fawleys,” Slughorn said with obvious satisfaction.
Harry’s mind quickly raced over the names he knew.
There had been a Fawley during his first year at Hogwarts; a Slytherin whom he was fairly sure had been Head Girl. That was the only Fawley he’d known of in his own time, but he hastily tried to remember anything and everything Horace had taught him about the family.
“They’re an… Ancient and Most Noble House, right?”
Slughorn grinned. “Quite a new one, actually. Lord Hector Fawley served as the Minister for Magic for quite some time. Lost the race for re-election three years ago; still a poor vote by the public, in my opinion. Him becoming Minister was the tipping point. It was the last feather they needed to call themselves an Ancient and Most Noble House. Their wealth might not compare to the Malfoys, Notts, or Lestranges — and certainly not the Blacks — but they are well-respected by all. They’re part of the Neutral Party, and they aren’t viewed too poorly by either the Liberals or the Conservatives. It’s a great foundation for you.
“It will give you plenty of resources without drawing too much attention. It will introduce you to some important people but not alienate you to one of the major factions before you’ve decided which set of beliefs best line up with your own worldview .” Slughorn winked. “They also have a daughter who’s in your year. Elena is her name. One of my Slytherins. Quiet girl, but she’s quite good at Potions. Not a standout, but consistently on point. I have a feeling the two of you would get on swimmingly.”
Harry wasn’t too sure about that, but he nodded along. He was really going to try to treat Slytherins fairly and try to give them an honest crack. Not that he was going to ignore their track record. He hadn’t exactly gotten on with them particularly well in the past.
Or… was it the future?
This time, at least he wouldn’t have to contend with being the Boy-Who-Lived — and wasn’t that the greatest thing about this new timeline — but he still wasn’t going to allow his hopes to rise too high.
People, in general, had never been his area of expertise. Not that he’d had many of those areas. Quidditch and maybe Defence Against the Dark Arts, he supposed, but that had really been it.
He didn’t say any of that to Horace.
Doing so wouldn’t be productive. From the very limited amount of reading he’d done, the Neutrals didn’t seem too bad. As long as it wasn’t the Malfoys or a family of suitably comparable morality, he would have taken it.
He had grown to trust Horace. Not absolutely, by any stretch, but trust nonetheless. He was far more educated on the matter than Harry would likely ever be. He would defer to his judgement and hope beyond hope that Horace didn’t lead him astray.
“Do you actually know them, sir?”
“Not closely, but we chat at the odd Wizengamot meeting and have always had a positive relationship. They will treat you well.”
Harry nodded solemnly.
He supposed he was going to live with the Fawleys.
August 10, 1942
A Large Home in the Suburbs
The night was warm and dry and the summer breeze was faint, little more than a whisper across the prosperous green lands that stretched on for many miles. Except for this whispering, plus the occasional rustle of the trees it inspired, all was quiet.
Until a loud crack disturbed the silence and Harry Potter very nearly spilled the contents of his stomach. He fortunately managed to avoid that incident, for the rather vile-looking sick would have completely ruined the picturesque image of tranquillity that his dry heaving had already somewhat fractured.
Horace patted him hard on the back and Harry nearly jumped out of his skin.
He did not like being touched.
After he regained his composure a minute or so later, he straightened up with some trepidation and cast his eyes around the land.
The property he now stood directly in front of was mostly dominated by a very large house. It couldn’t quite be called a manor, but ‘house’ didn’t seem entirely right either. The Dursleys — for all of their numerous faults — had been rather well off, but the tasteful structure laid out before Harry dwarfed Privet Drive completely. It would have effortlessly cast any home on the street into shadow and shame by its size and beauty, even if it would be unable to stand alongside many of the manors frequented by the most elite of Magical Britain’s politics.
This was the second-largest property owned by House Fawley, though only by a small margin. Their premier property, just barely larger than this one, was the home of Lord Fawley and former Minister for Magic, Hector, along with his wife, Hellen. This place, the same place Harry would soon be calling home, was home to Hector’s son — Marshall. Marshall’s wife, Melody, also called it home, as did their daughter, Elena.
“Nice place, isn’t it?” Horace remarked, leisurely strolling up towards the front door.
Wards would supposedly prevent them from doing that, most of the time, but apparently not tonight. They must have been granted a pass, or something. Harry hadn’t known that wards were even a thing until Horace had educated him when discussing homes in the magical world. He still knew next to nothing about them, but he did at least now know they existed, which he considered a drastic improvement from complete and total ignorance.
Harry had also learned that most prestigious families had fairly impressive libraries. Horace had assumed the Fawley’s main library would be located at their ancestral family home as opposed to this one, but he had said it was likely that a large portion of their collection was stored here, since the house was home to the family’s youngest member. Harry really hoped this was true, and he hoped they would let him read those books if they were indeed there. He wasn’t Hermione by any means, but lately he had truly begun to realize exactly how far behind he was.
It was actually quite terrifying.
“It is nice, yeah,” admitted Harry, allowing his vivid eyes to roam cautiously over the property.
Slughorn chuckled. “Loosen up, m’boy. Anybody worth anything in this country could tell exactly what you were thinking right about now. At least make them use Legilimency.”
Harry paused in mid-stride. “Use what, sir?”
Slughorn suddenly looked rather tired as he rubbed at his temple. “I shouldn’t have said that. Put it out of your mind, dear boy. Not something I should be letting slip around students. Highly-regulated magic, it is.”
When he had first arrived in the past, Harry would have easily been fooled. Now, he wasn’t sure. He was far from positive that Slughorn had just manipulated him, but he thought he might have. The look in his eyes hadn’t been appropriate for the situation. It had almost looked as though he was satisfied. As if he wanted Harry to look into Legilimency.
He supposed it didn’t matter.
He was definitely going to do that now, whether Slughorn liked it or not.
Much of dinner with Horace and the Fawleys was more awkward than Harry would have liked. There wasn’t any one thing that made it awkward, aside from the obvious; he just wasn’t an overly social person. Meeting new people had always been difficult. Horace had admittedly been an exception, but it had been vaguely similar to the incident with Hermione and the troll back in first year. Escaping mortal peril alongside another person tended to forge a deep connection that was hard to quantify.
Even then, Harry hadn’t opened up beyond the absolute necessities, for the most part, and he was still very cautious while in conversation with Slughorn.
These Fawleys were completely new to the equation and they hadn’t had anything suitably exciting happen that quickly bonded them to Harry.
All three of them were brunettes. Marshall had dark brown hair and sea-green eyes. Melody possessed light brown hair with warm brown eyes. Elena — who was apparently in the same year as Harry — had soft features, pale skin, her mother’s hair and her father’s eyes. Just as Horace had observed, she seemed quiet. She had scarcely said a word to Harry since he had arrived, though it wasn’t exactly as though he could say much differently about himself.
“Hogwarts letters should be arriving soon,” Marshall commented, glancing meaningfully in Slughorn’s general direction.
The man nodded, an obvious smile tugging at the corners of his lips. “I dare say they’ll arrive shortly, yes.”
“Do you have a favourite class in school, Harry?” asked Melody.
Harry was immensely grateful the Fawleys weren’t calling him Hadrian. They were an Ancient and Most Noble House and he hadn’t been sure how stuck up they were going to be. He was thankful though, for he wasn’t entirely sure he would be able to resist the inevitably intoxicating urge to punch the first person to call him Hadrian in the face.
“Definitely Defence Against the Dark Arts,” he replied. “So long as Hogwarts is anything like Ilvermorny, that is.”
That was the story. He was a European-born wizard who had spent much of his youth in America. His parents were initially British — hence his accent — but had raised him in America. In the last year, they had moved to Scandinavia for work, but both of them had died during a raid in Helsinki orchestrated by Grindelwald and his forces.
That attack had actually happened, and there were enough unidentified victims that his story was viable.
It was a good story, Harry thought. The only downside was that he’d needed to read up on his supposed school.
Ilvermorny had four houses to compare to Hogwarts’ four. The Horned Serpent represented the mind and Harry liked to think of it as Ilvermorny’s Ravenclaw. The sharper minds seemed to end up there, judging by what he had read.
Wampus was the house associated with the body, and it was said to be the house of warriors. This seemed the most like Gryffindor to Harry, and it was the house Horace had chosen for him. He was supposedly going to be branding Harry as an extremely talented Defence Against the Dark Arts student who had shown aptitude on the battlefield, whatever the hell that meant.
He hadn’t questioned it; it was far easier not to.
Pukwudgie was associated with the heart, and many of the healers who graduated Ilvermorny had come from that house. From what he had read, Pukwudgie seemed to be comparable to Hufflepuff, in many ways. When first reading about the Ilvermorny houses, Harry had remarked that even the two ridiculous names — Hufflepuff and Pukwudgie — were equally comical.
The house Harry thought he probably would have been sorted into had he actually attended Ilvermorny was the house of the Thunderbird. The house represented one’s soul, and it was said to be the destination for adventurers. Judging by Harry’s first three years at Hogwarts and his intense, natural curiosity, that was most certainly where he thought he would have landed. Which was ironic, because he guessed his previous groupings meant this was Ilvermorny’s version of Slytherin.
He told the Fawleys all of this, except for his own reflections on where he thought he fit, as Melody used the opportunity to ask him about Ilvermorny. He had to try very hard not to look nervous, but Horace gently guided the topic of conversation away from that particular line of questioning.
Which was good, as both Marshall and Melody were watching him very intently. Not that he could blame them, given the current set of circumstances.
So was Elena, for that matter.
She hadn’t been at first, but ever since Harry had mentioned his interest in Defence Against the Dark Arts, and particularly since Slughorn had gushed about his natural ability, she had watched him with obvious interest and blatant curiosity.
It had been quite the shift from the shy, resigned-looking girl before the comment.
August 11, 1942
The Secondary Library of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Fawley
Harry had lost track of time.
He must have, for he could not remember the sun rising.
When he’d first entered the spacious library… he wasn’t sure how long ago, the sun was most certainly not up.
The dinner had stretched on for quite some time. They had been served a three-course meal, plus dessert. This might not have been the Fawley’s main property, but it was still staffed by a house-elf. Harry was quickly getting the feeling that though Horace might not have cited them as being obscenely rich, the family still probably put anyone he had ever called a friend to shame in the department of monetary holdings. And Hermione’s parents had both been dentists, so that was a fairly significant statement.
When dinner had ended, Harry had been given a brief tour and was assigned a large room overlooking the lush green lawns. It was more space than he had ever imagined having and he frankly had no idea what to do with any of it. Especially now that he had no possessions aside from his wand and numerous clothes Horace had bought for him the day after he had landed in the past. This wasn’t at all suspicious to the Fawleys as — according to his story — his home had been destroyed in the Grindelwald raid whilst he had been out with friends. They said they would be giving him gold to get a full wardrobe when he and their daughter, Elena, went to Diagon Alley after receiving their Hogwarts letters.
He hadn’t stayed up long after dinner. He wasn’t a social person, and trying to trick himself into thinking he was one for several hours had exhausted him more effectively than he would ever care to admit. Being an early riser as it was, going to bed earlier had only meant he rose that next morning at a time that, if you asked most people, would be classified as more than a little bit preposterous.
After getting dressed and showering, he made a beeline for the library. It had been his goal to do just that last night, but he had been entirely too fatigued to reliably absorb any new information.
The room containing numerous shelves was spacious, if not admittedly jaw-dropping. It paled in comparison to the Hogwarts library, though that was to be expected. Hermione had said more times than Harry could count in the three years he’d known her that more books were housed at Hogwarts than anywhere else in the country. This room wasn’t anywhere close to being as large as the one in the fabled castle, but it did contain an extremely impressive collection of books and it would more than keep Harry busy for the rest of the summer, even if he did nothing else but read.
He had searched the shelves for some time before settling on a book on defensive magic. It was one he had never seen before, though he supposed that was hardly surprising. It wasn’t exactly as though he had ever put a whole lot of time into extracurricular studies.
Evidently, he had become more fixated on the book than he’d initially realized.
When the soft clearing of a throat from nearby jolted him, drawing his attention away from the page in front of him, Harry winced and was forced to blink spots from his eyes as sunlight suddenly accosted him, streaming freely through the large window nearby. He hadn’t even noticed the sun had risen.
Upon a brief glance up to the large clock on display, he realized that it was just past a quarter to nine. That meant he’d been in the library and taking notes for more than three hours.
“What are you reading?”
Elena’s voice was very soft, but he noticed right away it wasn’t timid. That was interesting, for he had pegged her as being quite shy when first meeting her last night.
“Just a book on Defence,” he answered, holding it up for her inspection.
Her eyebrows knit together. “You’ve gotten pretty far into it.”
Harry suddenly looked rather bashful. “I’ve… er, been down here for a while.”
“How long is a while?”
He shrugged. “About three hours, give or take.”
He had to suppress a grin as the girl’s eyes looked as though they might bulge out of her head in surprise. “Three hours?” she asked faintly. “That means you were up before six! People say I get up ridiculously early and I never get out of bed before seven-thirty.”
“I was actually up before five.”
Harry had literally no reason for admitting this other than to see her reaction, but he thought it would likely be amusing enough to validate his lone justification. It didn’t disappoint, and he found himself cracking up at the gobsmacked expression upon her face. It was as though she had come to the unexpected revelation that she was looking at an alien with multiple heads and green skin.
Given that he was from fifty-plus years in the future, he supposed it wouldn’t have been too far off; though he didn’t think green skin would suit him.
“Something has to be wrong with you,” muttered Elena. Her words had the odd effect of causing Harry to sober almost at once. Oh, if this naive girl only knew… “You said you were interested in Defence, right?”
The question caught him a bit off guard, but he recovered quickly enough. “Uh… yeah, I am; it’s my favourite subject. Why do you ask?” Elena blushed slightly but muttered something about it being hers as well. “You’re going into fourth year, right? Same as me?” She nodded. “Have you read this, then?”
“Part of it.”
“How far did you get?”
“Not as far as you. I stopped pretty early on and was trying to get the Protego Shield Charm to work. I never quite got it, but I haven’t tried in a couple of days.”
Harry felt thoroughly bewildered and his expression reflected this quite perfectly. “A few days ago? I thought you couldn’t cast magic during the summer holidays?”
“That’s sort of complicated.” Elena seemed to consider how best to explain when Harry’s look of intense confusion and curiosity did not so much as falter. “How did it work in America, just so I can compare?”
Thank Merlin Horace had forced Harry to look into that. The Statute of Secrecy was enforced very strictly in America. So much so that they made the English protocols look positively lacklustre in comparison. They had suffered horrible conflicts between wizards and muggles far more recently than Magical Britain. Because of this, their restrictions were as numerous as rabbits and as rigid as a board.
“We were never allowed to use any magic out of school until we were of age. Wizards and muggles weren’t even supposed to know each other.”
Harry suddenly realized that he had no idea how that worked concerning muggleborns and really hoped Elena didn’t ask. That was something he was desperately going to need to look into, at some point.
Mercifully for him, she just began her explanation. “Well, that’s what they tell you here, as well. At the end of every year, we all get notes saying not to cast any magic outside of school or the Ministry of Magic will know.” Harry could sense the ‘but’ coming. “Well, England has something called the Trace, but it isn’t that great at its job.”
Now Harry was extremely confused.
He knew exactly what the Trace was. He had even suffered its wrath back during the summer before his second year when Dobby had tried so very hard to prevent his return to Hogwarts. On that occasion, the Trace had been very successful in instantly alerting the Ministry of Magic that underage sorcery had been performed.
Though, he supposed it had failed in its identification of exactly who had cast the magic.
Come to think of it, how did that work?
He really needed to think things through sometimes. It was a wonder he hadn’t gotten himself killed before now, even ignoring the spectacular sets of circumstances he always seemed to find himself in.
“What do you mean by that?” he asked with an extreme amount of caution and curiosity.
“Well, the Ministry can’t track whether or not a specific person is casting magic. That’s literally impossible.” That would certainly explain how they had incorrectly assumed him the perpetrator of the Hover Charm, though it still didn’t explain how the Trace actually worked. “It works on areas. So if a spell is cast in a mostly muggle area where a muggleborn lives, the Ministry obviously knows who did it.”
Ah… yeah, that would do it alright.
“It doesn’t work too well with purebloods though,” Elena continued. “They only know that magic is being cast. The problem is that when there’s more than one person there who can cast magic, they can’t be sure who it is; and it’s not as if they can just send a notice any time Mother or Father cast a spell. They sort of just rely on pureblood parents to enforce the rule.”
Dear Merlin, that was an awful system.
“Isn’t there like… a lot of problems with that system?” asked Harry.
“If you’re not a pureblood or at least a halfblood, then yes, there are a lot of problems.”
“Couldn’t you like… frame somebody for underage magic? Or just kill in a muggle area and get away with it?”
“Well, you can challenge an underage magic claim. If you get to the Ministry quickly enough, they’ll be able to put your wand through Priori Incantato.”
“Put it through what?”
“Priori Incantato. It’s a spell that makes a wand show all of the spells it’s recently cast. Most wizards can only make the spell show magic over the last few hours, though. You could submit a pensieve memory, but there’s a verification process you need to pay for that is ridiculously expensive. I’m not even sure my family could afford it, and we’re pretty well off. Apparently, they make it so expensive because it’s a pain to do and they don’t want to use it in every trial because of that. Plenty of people say it’s just because the Wizengamot is so corrupt. Honestly, they have a point.”
Harry might have been an idiot when it came to most things — politics very much included — but he certainly thought the entire system screamed of corruption. “So your parents let you cast magic?”
“As far as I know, most pureblood parents let their kids cast magic. All of the traditional ones, at least.”
Harry wondered if by ‘traditional’ she meant old families like the Blacks. Or whether she meant the families who were blood purists.
“So… I could practice magic, then? Or are your parents only going to let you do it?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Elena chided. “If they’re going to let me do it, of course they’ll let you do it. It would be unfair if they didn’t.”
It was a testament to just how horrible his childhood had been that she instinctively rebuffed the idea as if it were foolish. In reality, it was an accurate summary of how Harry had lived ten of his first eleven years.
“What was the spell you were having trouble with?” he questioned, wanting to switch the topic away from one that might force troubling memories to the surface of his mind. “The Protego Charm, you said?”
“Yeah, it’s a late fifth-year spell, I think. It’s a pretty powerful shield charm. A lot of Aurors even use it.”
Harry had actually just read about that spell a few pages back, so finding it again wasn’t particularly difficult. The incantation was Protego and the wand movement was a tight, circular motion in front of one’s own body. Shrugging, he stood and raised his wand, drawing the movement in the air a few times before properly committing to an attempt.
The air shimmered weakly, though it looked more as though whatever he had just tried to do had sparked right out.
Despite this, Elena looked surprised. “You almost did it?”
Harry shrugged. “Did I? I have no idea.”
“Yes, you did. You were closer than I ever got, at least. I never got that effect.” She eyed him critically. “How good are you at Defence? I know you said you were interested in it, but I got an O in the class last year and even I didn’t do as well as you, and that was your first try.”
Harry suddenly looked rather uncomfortable. He had never been particularly fond of talking about himself. “Uh… I’m pretty good, I think? We had an obstacle course as our final exam and I was the first in my year to finish.”
Elena glanced from Harry to the clock. “Would-would you like to practice later?”
Harry’s ears perked up. “I’ll practice now if you’d like,” he said excitedly.
She smiled. “It will have to be a bit later. Mother wants us at breakfast because these just came in.”
She held up a familiar-looking envelope and Harry had to try very hard not to grin like a madman. Given his alleged backstory, it might have been a bit out-of-character.
The envelope she held was one composed of yellowish parchment and Harry immediately knew what would be inside.
Sure enough, his suspicions were confirmed as soon as he ripped open the letter on the way to the house’s main dining room.
Dear Master Pavonis,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted
at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment. Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than August 20.
Oh… wow — Dumbledore wasn’t even the Headmaster yet.
Merlin, this was going to all be very odd.
August 15, 1942
Harry and Elena had formed an odd sort of bond ever since that first morning in the library.
It turned out that Elena actually was shy, but not in the way Harry had suspected. She had a hard time meeting new people, largely because she hadn’t had many friends before. Not so much because she couldn’t make them as much as because she’d chosen not to. She had been altogether quite elusive on the subject and Harry hadn’t pressed. Still, he had put together some things.
The best he could work out was that her parents were very busy people and, though she had always been treated well, she had never been given a whole lot of attention when she was young. Harry thought she might have grown fond of her quiet sort of peacefulness and intentionally done nothing to rupture it up until now.
Once the ice had been broken between the two of them, their relationship had formed with surprising swiftness. Harry was very far from trusting her completely, and he knew all too well the same could be said in reverse. But they’d definitely struck up a friendship, one nurtured by a very large number of hours spent practicing defensive magic. During that time, Harry had actually mastered the Protego Shield, something he was very proud of. Elena hadn’t quite gotten it yet, but she was fairly close, and would unquestionably have it mastered by the time they arrived at Hogwarts.
It turned out that, like him, she was most interested in Defence Against the Dark Arts. For her, it was because she one day wanted to become a professional duellist. Harry would never have guessed it from her demeanour, but he could see why. He was unmistakably the more talented out of the two of them, in the sense that he could master spells faster, but their duels were very close despite that. The first few times they’d duelled, Harry had lost. This wasn’t that surprising, as the only experience he ever had duelling was against Malfoy at the only meeting of the briefly reformed Hogwarts Duelling Club.
After he had gotten the hang of duelling and learned the Protego Shield, the tides had turned. He had progressively started winning more and more of their duels and he beat her more often than she beat him now. Their duels were still extremely competitive and oftentimes, they were spent mostly in a deadlock. The shield helped him greatly and Elena said that Harry just had a ‘scary aptitude’ for duelling. She predicted that once he got the hang of it, he would be beating her and everybody else in their year easily. This didn’t deter her career aspirations in the slightest. In her mind, it just meant she would have to work harder.
She also seemed to view him as being some sort of prodigy not to compare herself to, which he personally thought was preposterous. He also thought — rather painfully — that Hermione would have laughed herself to sleep if she ever heard anyone call Harry a prodigy, whether it only be in one subject or not.
By the time the two of them touched down in Diagon Alley after taking the floo — an experience Harry was only mildly more comfortable with than the last time he’d used it — he could easily say she was the closest friend he’d ever had outside of Ron and Hermione. Seeing as they’d known each other for all of five days, that was actually very depressing, but Harry didn’t think about it too long. As he had learned of late, dwelling on dark, unpleasant thoughts was not at all conducive to one’s mental health or stability.
Elena had even voluntarily waited for his eyesight to be fixed, a process they had no idea as to the duration of.
Horace had been insistent that Harry get it fixed. There were apparently ways of fixing it; they were just very obscure and very expensive. He’d said one of the ways to fix it was through Alchemy, but one had to be obscenely skilled to make that happen. He had been sure he would find somebody who could do it though and he had come through. The Fawleys would even cover the cost of it, as well as all his school things, clothes and any books he wanted to buy whilst he was out.
He really did like the Fawleys. They were remarkably kind, if somewhat distant guardians, especially compared to the Dursleys. He didn’t even so much mind the distant part. Distance had always meant safety for much of his life, after all.
As the procedure had been going on, Harry had barely been keeping track. It was very complex and rather confusing. The only thing that baffled him and Elena more than the procedure was the man who had carried it out.
They had walked into a room in the Leaky Cauldron that had apparently been rented out for the man. He was supposedly from America, so he would need somewhere to practice out of.
When they walked in, they both blinked at the sight.
The room had been altered by a very powerful Spatial-Expansion Charm and it was full of all sorts of things.
But that wasn’t the baffling part.
The baffling part was the man who stood in the middle of it, scratching his head as he mumbled to himself.
“Job, fun, job fun, job or fun. Hm… money or freedom, money or freedom.” Then, he seemed to perk up. “Ha! Oh Reginald, you foolish man. You’ve been thinking about it all wrong! Money and freedom! Nobody will be able to contain you! Those idiots won’t know what hit them if they try—” then he spotted Harry and Elena. Harry had expected him to look embarrassed, but this couldn’t have been further from the truth.
His countenance shifted so suddenly, Harry wondered whether this strangely muttering man might have suffered from some sort of multiple-personality disorder. Instead of his muttering and scheming, as well as an overall mad-scientist sort of demeanour, he was suddenly stone-cold and deadly serious.
Granted, the latter image was ruined by his attire, which leant itself much more naturally to the former.
He was wearing a comically large, shining white lab coat that was obviously several sizes too big for him. He wore tight pants underneath and rather expensive looking dress shoes as if he wanted to show off.
The man himself was about six-feet tall. He had a lean, lanky sort of build with short black hair and light blue eyes. Eyes that narrowed upon Harry and Elena as he closed the door with a lazy flick of his wand, stepping closer to the pair of them while he spoke in a comically serious voice.
“My name is Reginald Edward Gress,” he began. “Your name is apparently Hadrian James Pavonis, which is completely and totally absurd!” The man scoffed. “Hadrian? What kind of name is Hadrian? Damn you Brits, adding to the utter ridiculousness that has plagued our world. Honestly, Hadrian.” He sounded as if the fact genuinely offended him, and Harry had to try very hard not to blush.
“This is exactly why this world would be so much better if everybody would just shut up and ask me for advice. We would be so much further ahead if people just started asking me for advice.” He paused. “I wasn’t going anywhere with that, I just find the name Hadrian hilariously ridiculous.”
The man’s posture suddenly stiffened as his attention refocused on Harry, as though he had spaced out and suddenly been brought back down to earth.
“Right, you — Hadrian James Pavonis.” He chuckled. “Hadrian, honestly, the idiocy of some people.” He shook his head as if to clear it. “Well you, Hadrian,” his lips twitched but at least this time he didn’t laugh, “had the common sense to come to me for help. So I shall prove the validity of my ramblings by making all of your problems disappear!”
He snapped his fingers theatrically before suddenly looking puzzled. “That is, of course, as soon as you tell me why it is you’re here? It seems to have slipped my mind.”
“Right piece of work he was, huh?” Harry asked as he and Elena once more circled back to the enigmatic Reginald Edward Gress in a conversation several hours later.
They had just exited Flourish and Blotts. Harry now also had a new trunk that was enchanted to hold far more on the inside than the out but to still be featherlight. It wasn’t obscenely spacious inside. You couldn’t live in it, or any such nonsense, but it did hold a lot of things. Thankfully, books were one of them, because he had bought a lot of books. He had been a bit reluctant to spend the Fawleys’ money, but he really wanted books, and Elena’s coaxing had been really convincing.
“He was… something,” Elena noted. “I have no idea what that thing was, and I sort of hope we never see it again, but he did at least fix your eyes.”
“Yeah,” said Harry, running a hand over his face.
He was still in complete and utter awe that he could now see the world around him without his glasses. Even more so by the fact it seemed sharper now than ever before. And still, he was even more shocked that the person who’d cured it seemed to be some lunatic in a lab coat who had truly turned out to be every bit the mad scientist he appeared as.
“What’s next?” asked Harry.
“Madam Malkin’s,” answered Elena. “I’ve grown a bit over the summer and need new robes and you pretty much need a full wardrobe. We’ll get you an owl after that. The family one is used by my Grandfather, so I have a personal one. There’s really no reason why you shouldn’t have an owl of your own. I’m sure Mother and Father won’t mind.”
“You’re positive of that, right? They’ve already spent a lot of money on me, and I would hate to make them upset.”
Elena gave him an odd yet exasperated look. “Honestly, Harry, it will be fine. I have no idea why you’re so paranoid. It’s like you expect them to curse you for the smallest things.”
Oh, if only she knew.
The cynical part of him wanted to spout out exactly why he thought that and see her reaction. The other, more rational ninety-five percent of his brain never wanted anybody to know about that, so he held his tongue.
When they entered Madam Malkin’s, they were greeted by the woman whom Harry thought likely owned the shop. She wasn’t the same one as the woman he had met in his timeline. “Anything I can help you with, dears?”
“He needs to be fitted for Hogwarts robes,” Elena told the woman without preamble. “I need new robes too, but I have my measurements already. I’ll just browse while he gets fitted, if that’s okay?”
She sounded rather unsure near the end, which didn’t surprise Harry. She did not like talking to strangers. In the short time she’d known Harry though, she had learned he detested it far more. Where she disliked it and found it mildly unpleasant, she could tell it made him nervous and uncomfortable, so she had taken the metaphorical bludger for him on this one.
“Of course, dear,” the woman replied. “Just do let us know if you find anything you’d like to take with you. We’ll get this one sorted in no time. Follow me, dear. Another student is being fitted for new robes as we speak.”
Indeed there was, as Harry saw when he stepped up onto the stool next to her.
She was a very tall girl with pale, perfect skin, long, straight dark hair and dark blue eyes. Not a hair seemed out of place on her head, and her countenance was completely and totally blank before he stepped up beside her, at which point he realized just how tall she was, and suddenly hoped she was a lot older than him. She was taller than any girl he’d seen at Hogwarts and the difference between the two of them was rather embarrassing.
“Are you a Hogwarts student?”
Even her voice seemed perfect. Was she just a robot? She had no obvious flaws, whatsoever. Seriously, there wasn’t a blemish nor a hair out of place. Even her robes looked pristine. Her voice was soft and smooth, and it seemed to have a naturally cool undertone. Despite this, it was perfectly modulated and conveyed the perfectly appropriate amount of polite interest. It still somehow sent a shiver up Harry’s spine, even if he didn’t quite know why.
It took him a minute to remember she had asked him a question, but he hastened to answer once he did so. “Uh… yeah, Hogwarts. You?”
She nodded slightly. “I go to Hogwarts, yes. I’m a fifth-year student, how about you?”
“I’m going into my fourth year.”
She tilted her head, obviously wanting a better look at him. He shuddered. Her eyes seemed to be x-raying him in a way not even Snape’s had been capable of. They were as calculating as they were intense and Harry instinctively looked away from them.
“I don’t believe we’ve ever met,” the girl said slowly. “I have a rather good memory, and I don’t remember ever seeing you at Hogwarts.”
“This is my first year at Hogwarts,” Harry explained quickly, supposing this was as good a time as any to begin rehearsing this explanation. “I went to school at Ilvermorny in America. My parents were born in Britain but did a lot of travelling for work. We ended up back in Europe but they… didn’t make it out of a raid.”
The older girl’s expression softened and those eyes suddenly looked more compassionate than calculating. “I’m sorry to hear that,” she said, and she truly did sound it. “Was it a muggle or magical raid, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Magical,” said Harry, noticing how the woman fitting his robes seemed to tense at the confession. Hardly a surprise after Grindelwald’s forces had terrorized the alley barely more than two weeks ago. “Why do you ask?”
This was similar to the conversation he had shared with Draco two years ago in this establishment… wait, was it forty-nine years in the future?
Gah! This time shit was brain-numbing.
Nevertheless. Draco had also subtly asked him about blood status. Well, what the blond had considered subtly, at least. This girl’s probe was far less obvious in hindsight, and Harry would never have realized it might be a probe at all if not for that previous encounter.
“I was only curious because I’ve experienced the muggle raids.” That had not been the answer Harry was expecting to hear. “I meant no disrespect by the question, and I’m sorry if it came across that way. I wasn’t trying to learn your blood status and look down on you for it, or any such nonsense. I was just curious whether or not we might be able to relate to one another.”
She sounded so innocent that Harry felt guilty for suspecting her. “No, it’s okay,” he said hastily. “There’s no need to apologize. Are you a muggleborn, then?”
The girl stiffened for what must have been only a fraction of a second, but her voice lost none of its confidence as it answered. “Halfblood. Both of my parents are dead.”
Oh, wow… the two of them seemed to have a peculiar amount in common. A seemingly mutual distaste for blood purity and similar backgrounds. That was interesting. “I’m… sorry about that.”
The corners of the girl’s mouth twitched. “In four years of hearing that over and over again, you might be the first person to say it and it actually mean something.”
He could relate to that… Merlin, could he relate to that. “Same here, actually.”
The girl smiled as both of them stepped down from the stool, just as Elena walked around the corner and froze at the sight of them. Harry thought her reaction was odd, but his attention was caught by the girl in front of him when she began to speak once more. He looked up at her, and that was even more disconcerting now that he was on flat ground. Girls did hit their growth spurts first though, and she was older than him. Still, it made him more uncomfortable than he would care to admit. He disliked feeling as though he was at a disadvantage.
“Hogwarts is a chaotic place, and I’m sure it will be an adjustment getting used to the castle and all that comes with it.” She smiled warmly as she held out her hand. “I would be happy to help you settle in, if you would let me.”
Harry suspected Elena would do that just fine and he felt an odd sense of foreboding around this girl. Despite it, he didn’t want to be rude, so he took her offered hand and shook. Her grip was shockingly firm.
“I’ll keep that in mind, thanks.”
She nodded. “Please do. I’m always happy to help…” she trailed off. “I don’t believe I ever got your name.”
He had to try hard not to bite his lip. She was watching him much too carefully.
“Hadrian Pavonis,” he said through a sigh, remembering to his dismay the way Reginald Gress had ruthlessly mocked his name. If only he disagreed with the man, it would have bothered him slightly less. “For the love of Merlin though, just call me Harry.”
She laughed a soft, chilling laugh that seemed to be otherworldly in an odd sort of way as she finally released her vice-like grip on his hand, much to his relief. Handshakes were manageable, but he didn’t love being touched, and she hadn’t released his appendage for quite some time.
“I’ll keep it in mind,” she quoted him. “My name is Emily Riddle. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
Riddle… oh… FUCK!
WHAT THE FUCK!!?
WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK!!?
If he weren’t in public, he likely would have allowed himself to give into shock. In his current setting, he did everything he could to not look dumbstruck, but he wasn’t sure to what degree, if any, he had succeeded.
And could anyone blame him?
Riddle… as in Tom Marvolo Riddle? Otherwise known as the monster who would later become Lord Voldemort?
Not necessarily, he supposed.
Riddle wasn’t a common name, but it wasn’t too out there, either. There could be more than one Riddle.
After all, the Riddle he knew of was male…
He was also pale, dark-haired and obscenely tall for his age, at least when they’d met in the Chamber of Secrets.
This reality also seemed to mirror his own in many ways, with small, subtle changes.
Could this be one of them?
Could this be the female version of Tom Riddle?
It had to be; he just had that feeling.
There were so many other possibilities, but they were similar both in appearance and mannerisms. They were equal parts measured and angelic, and they even seemed to speak in a similar manner.
The problem was, he hadn’t yet answered the first true question he’d had upon arriving in this new, altered reality.
Was the butterfly effect real and if so, what sort of impact could it have on this reality?
He had no idea.
This Riddle could be different. She could apply the genius she likely still possessed in other areas and turn out to be the next Dumbledore, for all he knew.
Or she could be infinitely worse than Lord Voldemort, more evil and powerful in ways he couldn’t even imagine.
Oh, he was so fucked.
This was going to be the biggest mind-fuck of all time and he might well die before it was all said and done.
… or prosper.
GAH! This was impossible!
“Is everything alright, Harry?”
Her damned voice again… why did it pull him so effortlessly from his thoughts? Why did it draw his attention seemingly without any real effort on her part? Why did that concerned look in her dark blue eyes make his heart skip a beat?
“It’s… nothing. Just had an… odd thought, that’s all.”
She looked at him with obvious concern, but now he really had no idea whether or not it was real. “You’re quite sure it’s nothing? You suddenly look quite pale and a bit faint. If there’s anything I can help you with, just let me know.”
“It’s nothing,” said a rather hurried-sounding voice from nearby. Elena suddenly stepped up beside Harry, wrapping an oddly protective arm around him and making him tense.
She didn’t seem to notice.
She just continued looking up at Emily Riddle. “He hasn’t felt well for the past few days.”
Emily’s eyebrow rose. “Elena? You know Harry already?”
“My family is fostering him.”
Emily hummed to herself. “How interesting. Well, if he really isn’t feeling well, I would suggest you get him home. I wouldn’t want him to suffer any longer on my behalf.”
Elena hardly waited for a heartbeat before doing just that. Her rush to get out of the store — quickly telling one of the shopkeepers to have their things mailed on the way out — only made Harry even more nervous.
And still, he heard Emily Riddle’s parting words clear as day. “I’ll see you at Hogwarts, Harry. I look forward to becoming more acquainted.”
This is quite a long AN, but first, a friendly reminder that — as stated in the AN of chapter 1 — there is no upload schedule for this story. The next chapter is available on my Discord server for those most eager among you, and the next three are up on my Patreon page. But again, these are posted on site only when the audio versions are done as well. Seeing as both my narrator and my video editor are university students, that can take some time. I promise, I am writing this during the breaks.
Now, a few things to clear up:
Firstly, Master Pavonis was not a typo. Back in the 40s, males in British boarding schools would have been exclusively referred to by this. Some older professors still do this today, according to several people I know that have actually attended these schools recently.
Now, because I know the names Liberal and Conservative are going to trigger people, let me explain this. That way if you still try and make this about politics, it just makes you look foolish and I can just not respond to you.
The political connotations of those words have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW I CHOSE THEM! I really could not care less about politics.
Liberals and Conservatives were chosen because of how they are defined in the English language. According to their definitions, Liberal means progressive and Conservative means traditionalist. Seeing as one faction is trying to maintain the old ways and keep themselves primarily in power, whereas the other is campaigning for change and equal rights for all, I think these definitions are apt.
It has nothing to do with politics, so please don’t make it a political conversation. That would be saying more about you than the story.
Thank you to my lovely Discord Editors Asmodeus Stahl, Dorian Grey, and Varum for their corrections/contributions on this chapter.
Please read and review.
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