There are a staggering number of Harry Potter fanfictions out there that are centric on the idea of time travel. As in… a staggering number. Seriously, there are probably more stories written for this one trope than any other. Speaking of tropes, it has been said by some readers and even fellow authors that I follow too many of them. Some of these authors also employ magical cores as a key component of their magical theory system, so there is also that bit of hypocrisy, but oh well — we march on. Anyway, tropes… some people say I follow too many of them. That is certainly one way to look at it, but some tropes do exist for a reason. Most of them are also written with the skill of a seventy-year-old man trying in vain to browse the internet. The point is, some tropes exist because they are genuinely compelling to read. Oftentimes, they are just written very poorly.
This is in large part why Harry Potter and the Conjoining of Paragons exists. Both to add what I hope will at least be a half-decent fic to the frankly butchered trope that is time travel, as well as writing something different and intriguing for an odd pairing that I am strangely fascinated by. One with so few quality stories that I could very easily count them on one hand. This also doesn’t follow the most used trope in terms of time travel — Harry travels back in time to his first year and fixes everything that has ever gone wrong. This is not one of those stories. It will never be one of those stories.
For one thing, Harry is sent back fifty-two years in time as opposed to less than ten. This already makes it nearly impossible for me to follow many of the commonly associated tropes, seeing as the entire plot is one I must come up with on my own, in addition to many of the characters. This alone should dissuade fears that this is going to be a trope-filled story that follows a vast number of common cliches. Many of these stories still somehow end up having Harry being a vastly overpowered character who somehow fixes all of the world’s problems within a year or two of arriving back in the past. Again, this is not one of those stories.
In this story, Harry is thrown fifty years into the past at the end of his third year. At this point, he has all of the same information canon-Harry had at the end of that same year, and nothing more than that. This should pretty much prove he won’t immediately be an obscenely powerful character straight off the bat because, let’s be honest, Harry at the end of his third year was an idiot. This Harry will be starting from a rather low point, and there will be a lot of character development where he is involved. This is the main problem with most time travel stories. There is zero character development whatsoever. Harry lands back in the past as an overpowered terminator of a character who just solves all the world’s problems. As a result, most time travel stories are stagnant and feel unnatural, sloppily written, and choreographed.
In CoP, Harry lands back in time as largely a naive character who is the furthest thing from overpowered, in addition to being traumatized by losing his best friend and godfather just hours earlier… or fifty years later, depending on how you define a concept as nebulous as time travel. After being indoctrinated by a kind-hearted yet very opportunistic snake in waiting, Harry meets the enigmatic prodigy named Emily Riddle. This is where this story will take a bit of a darker tone. Without spoiling too much, Harry isn’t going to turn Emily into a shining beacon of light. Nor will he completely escape her manipulations. This isn’t a Harry who will solve all the world’s problems, as I have said, partly because his view on many of those problems will shift in the coming years. Unlike most fanfictions that focus on time travel as a key plot component, this one will see a drastically different Harry by the end than the one we see at the beginning. In saying that, there will most definitely be changes in Emily Riddle as well. Changes that will have effects just as far-reaching as those made to our primary protagonist.
Speaking of Emily Riddle… wow, am I ever excited to write Emily Riddle. I loved Tom Riddle in canon. I cannot specify this enough. Most people despised Half Blood Prince because of the admittedly pathetic attempt at poorly setup romance. It is actually my second favourite book in the series, despite the horrid attempt at romance. The memories and characterization in that book was more than enough to carry it in my eyes and again — I really enjoy TMR. I should also clarify this statement. I loved Tom Riddle. I did not love Voldemort. Riddle was a genius, a manipulative mastermind, and a cold-blooded snake with all the potential in the world. Lord Voldemort is a psychopathic character who is about as deep as his nose is three dimensional. I will be writing Emily Riddle very much how JKR could have written Tom Riddle, but if she didn’t have to hold back because Harry Potter was/is a series geared towards children. Emily Riddle will be just as cold and manipulative as Tom Riddle, but she will be a deeper character than even canon Riddle. That’s my goal, at least. A character with motivations more numerous than “gain power” and “escape death”. She is a character who I am beyond excited to work with, and I think it will be fascinating to explore her dynamic with Harry. She might be miles ahead of him in magical ability — at least for now — but for all the numerous grievances we all have with canon Harry, he sure does have a penchant for making things interesting. Throw a lot of character development and some slow-forming competency into the equation and I think we’re in for a very wild ride.
I also look forward to this fic because it is set in the 1940s. This means that I basically have nothing to work with in terms of canon. This might seem very daunting to some authors, but I personally very much await the challenge. For one thing, not having to work within JKR’s massacred timeline is, quite frankly, refreshing. For another, I am beginning to work on my own original novel. Working with original plots and characters is rather good practice for that. While I will be leaning on JKR’s world and ideas, as well as the very limited information we have about the decade in question, I will mostly have to work from scratch, which I am very excited to do. Not just in regards to the plot, but the characters as well.
Which brings me to original characters. Another wonderful thing about writing a story in the 1940s. Seeing as we know but a handful of characters from this time, it gives me an excuse to work with quite a large number of original ones, something I am rather excited for. I quite enjoy using original characters, which is one of the reasons I am ecstatic to start building my own sandbox to explore. I also know that a large number of HP fanfic readers hate the existence of OCs on principle. No matter how they are written, many readers seem to detest the mere idea of an original character. As somebody who uses fanfiction largely to practice crafting characters, I find this extremely taxing. If you don’t think I’ve written an OC well, that is one thing. To immediately cast shade upon an author simply for trying to be creative and take on a more complex story element has always been ridiculous to me. Seeing as I literally have no choice but to use OCs in this story, I should hopefully get a very small number of narrow-minded complaints regarding them, which is something I am rather excited for.
Now, to address what I am sure to many is considered the elephant in the room — the pairing. I am truthfully quite nervous about how this is going to go over. There are many reasons why in all of my stories thus far I have chosen not to reveal the pairings prior to their in-story reveals. One of them is that frankly, you can never win as an author. No matter who you pair who with, you can never win. Readers will ruthlessly attack you for whatever pairing you choose, and they all have an opinion. Usually, their opinions are viewed by themselves as being much more valid than yours, for entirely subjective reasons. The point is that you will never make everybody happy when writing romance. It just isn’t possible. I know that and have accepted that, but it is in large part why I dread romance quite a bit in a story as popular as Ashes of Chaos. Given how obscenely popular time travel stories tend to be, this might also fall into that category of popular stories, if I am particularly fortunate, so we shall see how the masses react.
Now, enough rambling about personal feelings and onto the pairing itself.
I must say, I seem to have a thing for rare pairings, and this one in particular is one of my favourites. I entirely blame TheEndless7 for his excellent story Limpieza de Sangre, which probably ranks as a top three all-time favourite fanfiction of mine.
As for the pairing itself… there isn’t a whole lot to say without spoiling things, really. I think the parallels between the two characters are extremely interesting, and every single one of them drip with potential that I can’t help but greedily salivate over. I have always loved the scene in the Chamber of Secrets when Riddle pointed out the similarities between himself and Harry. There was so much JKR could have done with that scene. The stuff in DH where Harry could actually see things from Riddle’s perspective was great, but I would have loved more of it. It is a dynamic that I am truly looking forward to exploring in depth, as well as a number of other factors. I just think the character dynamic will be extremely interesting, especially seeing as Emily will be starting out with a massive advantage over Harry, one that our young protagonist is far too stubborn not to resent and seek to narrow. Their relationship also poses a rather interesting question — when two opposing paragons collide, what exactly happens? That, my friends, is what I shall be doing my best to answer for you.
Speaking of the complex relationship the two of them will share, I think it prudent for me to speak on a rather… unorthodox approach to the way I have set them up. Unlike how many doubtlessly would have expected me to do it, I have chosen to set Harry as going into his fourth year at Hogwarts upon landing in the past. Emily, on the other hand, will be entering her fifth. Largely, I did this to limit their initial interactions. That might sound counterproductive, but I assure you I have good reasons for doing this.
Mainly, I want this story to at least have a small mystery element. Without spoiling exactly how he ends up in the past — though many of you have surely read the first chapter already — he isn’t thrown into the exact past we all know. By example, Riddle was male in his original reality. It has been said on Pottermore before that travelling back long periods of time is very finicky at best. It’s consequences are unknown, and they are very complex. I have taken that idea to introduce a bit of a monkey wrench. That being subtle changes between the past Harry knows and the past he lands in. In many ways, Harry entered a new reality when landing. It is still 1942 in the Harry Potter universe. Armando Dippet is the Headmaster of Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore is the Transfiguration Professor, and Gellert Grindelwald is at large. Tom Riddle is also a girl now named Emily, and subtle changes have occurred.
Largely, I am choosing to separate the two of them early on because Harry is going to be rather conflicted. Is this the same Riddle from his timeline? Do subtle differences lead to a drastic warping of her character? Is he being overly harsh on her? Should he be more cautious? What about the butterfly effect? All of these questions will be things Harry struggles with in the early goings, so keeping them slightly separated only adds to the mystery.
Don’t worry — I will make sure the two of them have plenty of interesting encounters, even while not being in the same year. I already have a plot point that will force them together, just not as frequently as they would spend in each other’s presence otherwise.
Regardless of how popular this story becomes, I do just hope my core readers enjoy it. It is a concept I have been toying with since reading Limpieza de Sangre all the way back in 2019. I could just never quite get it figured out.
This is the part where I need to give a massive shoutout to my friend and beta Raven0900. She helped me immensely with this story. We sat down one night and were discussing this pairing. I brought up the fact I’d always wanted to write a story for it and mentioned what I sort of had in mind. Six hours later, we had a very vague outline, and things sort of blossomed from there. I have greatly enjoyed every minute spent working on this story with her and others, as well as all the time I have spent thus far writing the first four chapters. I just hope my readers enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
I should also point out that while this story will stretch over several hundred thousand words, it will be much shorter than Ashes of Chaos when all is said and done, and it will be paced quite a bit faster; though the main focus of the first year or two will largely be placed on characterization as oppose to heavy action sequences and the like.
I do hope you all enjoy the upcoming holidays in spite of the rather grim circumstances this year. The holidays are a time to come together and spread positivity. It is a time to enjoy those closest to you and treasure the things we do have, not to dwell on the things we have lost. To my readers, I hope this story might brighten your holiday season, despite its rather shady tone. Whether it does or doesn’t, I advise each and every one of you to keep the above message in mind during the upcoming holidays, as I think it will help you to enjoy them to the absolute best of your abilities.
Happy holidays and happy reading!
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