- Discussion-Child Abuse
- Explicit Sex
- Canon Divergent
- Established Relationship
- Time Travel
The pop of apparition was a welcome surprise, so Harry rolled over to his back expecting to see Dobby and got a face full of goblin, dressed mostly leather with a sword strapped to his back. Harry stumbled off the narrow, uncomfortable bed with a hiss of shock, his wand snapped into his hand where he’d left it tossed on his trunk.
“Easy,” the goblin held both hands out in supplication. “I might have been…a little zealous about my arrival.”
“A little?” Harry questioned. “You didn’t even knock.”
“I was excited,” the goblin said with a huff. “I’ve never been to the Muggle world before.” He looked around the small room and grimaced. “I expected it to be nicer.”
“Some parts are, and some are worse,” Harry muttered but kept his wand pointed toward the goblin. “Who are you?”
“Razel, son of Ragnok of the Blacklock clan at your service.”
“Ragnok,” Harry squinted at him and snatched his glasses up from the window ledge. He shoved them on his face. “The goblin chieftain?”
Razel made a face at him but nodded. “Yes.”
“What does the bank want with me?” Harry asked.
“I’ve brought you a letter.”
Harry watched Razel rummage through the pouch tied to at his waist and pulled out a folded piece of parchment. He took it after a few moments of obvious hesitation and opened it. “This is Hermione’s handwriting. Why are you delivering a letter from Hermione Granger?” His wand started to glow at the tip.
“If you’d read it—all would be clear,” Razel said dryly.
Harry glared at him. “If she’s been hurt…” He focused on the letter but kept his wand pointed at the goblin.
I’m sorry for the lack of warning regarding your visitor. I’m kind of hoping he scares the crap out of your relatives. He promised to wear his big sword! His name is Razel, and he is the son of Chieftain Ragnok of the Dverger Horde. Please don’t call him a goblin; it’s a racial slur! I had no idea until Bill Weasley told me. Why didn’t anyone ever tell us?
I’m at the bank, and I’ll be staying here with the dverger the rest of the summer. I’ve been given leave to invite one friend to join me so, of course, I chose you. I know you hate being at that house, and Dumbledore doesn’t plan to remove you until he has no choice this year. I don’t know why but it is very vexing! I’ve been trying really hard for weeks to get someone to make him see reason, but no one in the Order understands. Or they don’t care!
Regardless, please come quickly. I’ve missed you very much.
Harry flushed and cleared his throat. “Hmmm, sorry about calling you a goblin. Apparently, that’s ugly?”
“We don’t blame the uneducated for their mistakes,” Razel said. “I was instructed by my father to bring all of your things as you won’t return here this summer. He’d honestly prefer you never return here, but he knows he can’t control that at present. He’d like to because he’s used to being the boss of everyone and everything around him.”
Harry laughed a little at that, and Razel just shrugged. “I…Dumbledore won’t like this at all.”
“Dumbledore can kiss my arse,” Razel said. “In fact, there is a whole line of dverger at the bank waiting to line up so he can kiss their arses, too.”
Hedwig barked from her cage.
“Your owl agrees with me.”
“She’s got an attitude problem from way back,” Harry said roughly and slid his wand down into the holster Hermione had charmed into the seam of his jeans.
He pulled up the floorboard then removed his album and cloak. “Can you tell my trunk to pack, or would it set off the ministry’s alarm?”
“Those alarms can’t track wandless magic unless the castor purposefully sets them off.”
Harry huffed and figured that Dobby had done exactly that before his second year. He watched the dverger flick his fingers toward his trunk, and everything started to sail into it—including his album and cloak. It snapped shut when it was finished, lifted off the floor, shrank and size and dropped into Razel’s hand.
Razel passed the trunk to him. “Nothing you can’t learn if we can break the condition the school has worked into your brain regarding the requirement for a wand. They work hard to make you think you need a wand.”
“But we don’t?”
“It’s just a focus,” Razel said. “Which is required for higher magical arts, but the magic comes from you, not the wand, so why would you need it for the small stuff?” He offered his hand. “Have you ever apparated?”
“No, but it can’t be any worse than the floo,” Harry said but frowned at his hand. “I’m not sure…”
“I swear on my magic that I will take you from this room, straight to the Diagon Alley branch of the Gringotts where Hermione Granger is waiting on you,” Razel said, and the oath settled with a flash of golden light.
“Thank you…I’m sorry.”
“You were tortured by Voldemort a few months ago, kid, I would be appalled if you weren’t a little leery of everyone and everything around you.” Razel paused. “But you’ve got an excited little witch waiting on you at the bank, and I would hate to disappoint her.”
Harry swallowed hard because he really wanted to see Hermione. He’d missed her so much since they’d parted ways on the train platform. Finally, because of the oath, he could really find no reason not to take Razel’s hand, so he picked up Hedwig’s change and wrapped the trembling fingers of his free hand around the dverger’s palm. The apparition felt sharp and so tight that he was breathless as they reappeared in a bare stone room.
Razel released his hand and patted him on the shoulder. “Thanks for not throwing up.”
Hedwig barked sharply in what was probably fury. Harry winced and shrugged at Razel.
“I came close with the portkey last summer, but this wasn’t bad.” Harry looked toward the door. “Where’s Hermione?”
“Probably with my mother,” Razel said as he opened the door and motioned Harry to follow him. “They were discussing dinner options when my father was giving me instructions regarding your retrieval. Despite Hermione’s preferences, it was decided that I shouldn’t interact with your Muggle relatives if it could be avoided.”
“They aren’t worth meeting anyway,” Harry admitted. “When I was younger, I was pretty sure that I would want to curse them silly after I turned seventeen, but now I realize they aren’t worth my magic.”
“You’ll find that few people are,” Razel said. “I’m not sure what my parents have decided about your lodging for the summer, but I can take you to a place where you can dress for dinner.”
He really didn’t have much in the way of clothing to meet that burden, Harry thought, but then considered the dress robes he wore to the Yule Ball. At the very least, the shirt and pants would be appropriate. Perhaps the vest as well but not that silly bowtie. He sighed.
“Is there a problem?”
“I don’t have much in the way of dress clothes,” Harry admitted. “Most of my clothes that aren’t uniforms are cast-offs from my cousin, and he’s three times my size.”
“I’ll mention that to my mother—she’ll arrange for a tailor,” Razel said and opened a heavy wooden door. “Do the best you can, lad, and my mother will appreciate the effort. You can use magic here without the ministry noticing if that is a concern.”
Harry nodded and took a deep breath as he was shut inside the room. He placed Hedwig’s cage on the empty desk, and she chuffed at him before sticking her head under her wing. He put his trunk on the ground, and it resized with a flush of magic. In the end, he wore the slacks from his dress robes, a button-down from his school uniform, which he color-charmed to a black, and a jade green jumper that Dudley had hated and thrown in Harry’s room earlier in the summer that he sized to fit.
His tailoring charms normally lasted about six hours, so he figured that was plenty enough time for dinner and whatever conversation he was in store for. The dress shoes from the ball pinched a little, but the loafers from his school uniform had grown with him all year, so they fit well.
A quick little knock on the door knocked him out of his worry regarding his charm work. “Come in.”
The door opened immediately, and Hermione darted in. She glomped onto him like she always did, and he accepted the embrace far more quickly than he ever had before. No matter what else was going on, Hermione had gotten him out of that terrible house on Privet Drive before his birthday, and he was so relieved.
“Harry,” she whispered against his cheek and stepped back a little to focus on his face. “I’m so glad you came.”
“You asked,” he admitted and felt his face heat in a blush when she smiled brightly. “I don’t have a lot of clothes—will this be okay? Your dress is pretty.”
“Thanks. You look fine,” she assured. “Is this a new jumper?”
“Not really, Dudley gave it to me when I came home because he hated it. Not sure if he ever wore it. I sized it to fit.”
“Great charm work then,” she said and smiled at him like he’d just gotten an O on a test. Hermione took a deep breath. “Things are going to be…hard, Harry. You’re going to have to make some pretty big decisions very soon. I’m not trying to scare you, but I need you to make really careful choices and not lose your temper.”
Harry took a deep breath but nodded his agreement. “That bad, huh?”
“Probably worse than you can imagine, but right now we’re both very safe. No one, who is a threat to us, knows where we are. I saw Sirius, and he’s in pretty good shape. I’m sorry you can’t be with him right now, but you’ll understand pretty soon why.”
“Dumbledore is keeping us apart so he can control me,” Harry said flatly. “I know that already, Hermione. He uses me and a potential relationship with me to manipulate Sirius and allows us minimal contact as a reward for us both. Whatever Dumbledore is up to requires money, and Sirius has the ability to use money from the Black estate.”
Hermione blinked in surprise. “I…”
“I’m not actually an idiot, you know.”
“I’ve never thought you were dumb,” Hermione protested. “Sometimes, you let Ron’s laziness infect you, and I hate that, but it’s not because you’re dumb. Honestly, Ron’s such…it’s easier to give into him than endure his temper tantrum when you don’t. I know. I do it as well.”
Harry’s stomach lurched a little at the way her eyes brightened with tears. “What did he do?”
“Oh, he was just himself,” Hermione said with a huff. “He got really mad at me because I wouldn’t play chess with him and said I was boring so I told him how boring I thought all of his…life…is and he told me he wished that troll had killed me, but then Bill came in and Ron went off to pout.”
“He actually…” Harry trailed off as fury made his chest tighten. “Remind me to send that git a howler after dinner.”
“Oh, he’s not worth the time it would take to create it,” Hermione said. “It’s hardly the first time he’s said something ugly to me like that. He’s very jealous of you and anyone else who exhibits a single bit of…” She huffed and waved a hand. “I don’t know.”
“Potential,” Harry supplied. “Ambition. Talent. Ability.”
Hermione laughed weakly. “Yeah, exactly, all of that. It’s pitiful actually, but I don’t pity him at all, and I’m not sure I can ever have anything to do with him ever again.”
“What else has he done?” Harry questioned. “Or was the pseudo-death threat your final straw?”
“It really should’ve been,” Hermione admitted. “There’s something else, but we don’t have time to talk about it, and I don’t enough to really explain it, so we should go to dinner and let Chieftain Ragnok and High Priestess Lenore explain. Don’t bow, they don’t do that sort of thing. Take their hands firmly if they offer you a greeting, make eye contact, and be respectful.” She paused and sighed. “Right, you’re not Ron, so you wouldn’t act like a bigot anyways but…sorry. I’m nervous. Things are really kind of tenuous right now, and you know I ramble.”
“It’ll be fine,” he said and took her hand. “Do you know what’s for dinner?”
“No clue, but I was promised that we’d be able recognize it.” She blushed. “I mean I don’t know if the dverger diet is all that different of our own despite their terrible attachment to really bitter tea.” She swallowed and motioned toward the door. “Let’s go—just please trust him.”
Harry nodded. “If you think I should, then I will.”
She gave him that same bright smile he’d been gifted with earlier. “You shouldn’t give me that kind of power. It’ll go to my head.”
“You’ve pretty much always had that kind of power over me,” Harry admitted and flushed when she gaped at him. “What? There’s no one I trust more than you, Hermione, and it’s not all to do with your brilliant mind.”
“Harry Potter,” Hermione said and shook her head. She pressed a quick kiss to his cheek and pulled him toward the door.
– – – –
Ragnok took the glass of wine his wife poured him with a sigh. He didn’t know if he was entirely prepared to see Potter, but there was no putting it off. His son entered first, and the two humans followed. Razel had taken the news of their time travel about as well as could be expected—a mixture of shock, horror, and no small amount of fury. Fortunately, Razel’s temper was more like Lenore’s than his own. It burned quick and hot, but he also calmed down quickly enough. His son inclined his head just slightly as he went to greet his mother—no issues in retrieving Potter then.
Ragnok sat his glass down on the table and focused on Harry Potter. The boy was thin, and his magical aura was resonating with pain. It brought him up short. He pushed deeper with his mage sight, but there were no obvious physical injuries other than a recently healed cut on his arm. It was healed enough not to be responsible for the pain the kid was in. He shared a look with his wife who was regarding Potter with intense concentration.
He offered the boy his hands. “Mr. Potter, Miss Granger speaks highly of you.”
The boy’s cheeks flushed as he released the witch’s hand and stepped forward to greet him. “Chieftain, it’s an honor. Thank you for having me despite whatever you might have read in the Prophet.”
“I have someone read that trash for me,” Ragnok said. “Then I get a report on anything that is true. It’s usually only about ten inches long.”
The boy laughed briefly. “I’m surprised it’s even that long, sir.”
“The classified section is fairly large,” Lenore said dryly. “Mr. Potter, we’re pleased with your trust. Your position in the magical world is quite precarious.” She offered him her hands in greeting.
“I was told once that the bank was the most secure place in Britain,” he confessed as he took her hands.
Lenore’s fingers whitened as she clenched on Potter’s hands, and she frowned. “You were crucio’d?”
“Yes…yes.” The boy nodded. “Can you feel that?” He tugged at his hands. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know it would hurt you.”
“You’re not hurting me,” Lenore said tartly. “But my magic is telling me that you’re in a great deal of pain. Why weren’t you treated for the curse?”
“Harry,” Hermione whispered in shock. “You were cursed during the third task.”
“I told you,” he said and relaxed only slightly when Lenore released him. “I don’t know how many times he…I don’t know. Madam Pomfrey took care of the cut on my arm that Pettigrew did, but Dumbledore said I would have to let the curse effects of the crucio run their course.”
The girl’s face was a dramatic shade of white as she turned to Lenore. “That’s not true, is it?”
“Treating the damage would’ve been beyond the skill of the mediwitch at your school. He should’ve been sent to St. Mungo’s and placed under a healer’s care.”
“It’s just a headache,” Harry said quietly. “The tremors and the muscle pain were gone before I left Hogwarts.”
“It’s not just a headache,” Ragnok said. “Your magical channels are damaged, and it’s merely manifesting as a headache.” He shared a glance with his son. “Razel, retrieve him a pain potion so he can enjoy his meal at least. Then we’ll arrange for a healer’s exam.”
“I wouldn’t want to be trouble,” Potter protested.
It was night and day, Ragnok thought, and he felt all the more guilty for it. He wondered how many terrible things had to have happened to Harry Potter to turn him to the bitter little arsehole he’d known in the future. He watched the boy retreat to Hermione’s side, and his hand slipped back into hers. Maybe just one, he considered.
“It’s no trouble, Mr. Potter, you’re our guest for the rest of the summer, and we’re due a very stressful conversation. It’s best for everyone if you’re clear-headed during the course of it.” Ragnok motioned them to the table. “Please, everyone sit, and dinner will be served.”
He noted that Potter pulled out Hermione’s chair, which was better than he expected since he knew he hadn’t been raised properly, and Hogwarts didn’t offer any sort of instruction on basic manners. Razel took the seat across from Potter after getting his mother settled at the table, and Ragnok sat last.
He sat back with his wine and watched both humans closely as the food was magically delivered to the table already plated. He refrained from laughing as they both looked on the baked chicken with relief.
“You should tell them about the resurrection, Harry,” Hermione announced as she buttered her dinner roll.
Harry raised an eyebrow. “That’s not exactly great dinner conversation, you know.”
“Honestly, Harry, it’s probably going to be the most pleasant part of the evening.”
He huffed a little. “Wow.”
A member of staff entered the room then and placed a small vial by Potter’s plate without a word and left. Ragnok watched the boy exchange a look with Hermione, who gave him a sharp nod. Potter took the potion without any discussion. Ragnok wondered if Dumbledore had any clue at all how much power Hermione Granger had over Harry Potter. Maybe that was the root of their being charmed into compliance in the other timeline. Dumbledore probably didn’t want anyone influencing his weapon more than he did.
“My first year, I met Voldemort.” Harry focused on Ragnok then. “We fought over the philosopher’s stone and when I touched the person who was hosting his spirit—he burned alive. Dumbledore told me that it was my mother’s protection working to protect me. Protection I was granted because of her magical sacrifice.”
Ragnok couldn’t help but make a face at that. “Did he really?”
“I asked him then why Voldemort tried to kill me when I was a baby and why he hated me so much. He told me I was too young to hear it.”
“You were almost twelve,” Ragnok murmured. “It could be said he was merely trying to protect you.”
“But you don’t think so?”
“I think Dumbledore is very enamored with the idea that he knows best, and no one is entitled to know more than him about anything,” Ragnok said dryly. “He has a history of such behavior, Mr. Potter.”
“Please call me Harry, Chieftain,” Harry said and focused on his chicken. “During my second year, there was an enchanted diary at Hogwarts—Tom Riddle’s diary. I didn’t know who Tom Riddle was when I had the diary. Eventually, the spirit in the diary convinced Ginny Weasley to help him out of it. When I got down into the Chamber of Secrets—Riddle was almost solid. There was a basilisk that I had to kill, and I eventually used a fang from the creature to destroy the diary which caused the spirit to disappear.”
Ragnok glanced toward his wife and found her pale. She was clearly furious to hear about the events from Potter’s mouth. They’d read about the events in Hermione’s journal, but her telling had more of an overview with an intense focus on the diary, and it’s properties as a horcrux.
“You skipped the part where the basilisk bit you, Harry,” Hermione said and touched his arm. “And Fawkes.”
Potter made a face. “It’s not all that important in the big scheme of things, Mi. I survived.”
“Getting bit by a thousand-year-old basilisk is a fairly important part,” Hermione protested with a huff and stabbed her chicken pointedly with her fork.
Potter winced and focused on Ragnok. “The giant snake bit me, and the headmaster’s phoenix cried in the wound. He also brought me the Sword of Gryffindor which I used to stab the basilisk in the mouth.”
Ragnok smiled into his wine glass as the girl huffed again. “It’s certainly one of the more interesting parts. Do you know what a pensive is, Harry?”
“No, sir, I’m sorry.”
“No matter, it’s certainly not come up in your studies at Hogwarts. A pensive is a magical device that allows you to share your memories with others. I’d like you to share your memories of Tom Riddle with me, so please consider it and give me an answer regarding that in the morning.” He held up a hand when Harry started to respond. “Memory sharing is a very intimate thing, Mr. Potter, so please consider it until morning.”
Harry nodded and focused on his plate. “In my third year, near the end, I met my godfather, Sirius Black, and I also met the man he was accused of killing—Peter Pettigrew. I discovered that Pettigrew was my parent’s Secret Keeper, and he’s also a Death Eater. He’s the reason that Voldemort was able to come to our home in Godric’s Hollow and…do what he did. Pettigrew got away, and the minister didn’t believe me.
“In May, Peter Pettigrew murdered Cedric Diggory and resurrected Voldemort using my blood.” He touched his arm. “I barely managed to escape that with Cedric’s body. The minister called me a liar and attention seeker. He’s spent most of the summer telling everyone I’m crazy because he’s a coward and refuses to believe that Voldemort has returned.”
Ragnok couldn’t disagree with the boy’s opinion regarding Minister Fudge. “It’s been my experience that politicians are far more interested in lining their pockets than actually serving their people.”
Potter nodded and frowned. “Did you…” He frowned. “Did you lure Hermione here because of me? People in the magical world see me as…this famous thing they should be able to use ever how they wish to further themselves. Dumbledore has plans for me; Fudge would certainly like to gain control over me. I’m not sure if it’s about Voldemort or about my parent’s money…regardless…I can’t control any of that, but I’m not going to tolerate anyone using Hermione to get to me.”
“Harry.” Hermione put her hand on his arm, and her fingers clenched on his sleeve. “It’s not like that.”
“No, it’s not,” Ragnok murmured. “But he’s not wrong to question it, Hermione. His fame is obscene, and there are plenty of people who would certainly use you to get to him if they knew how much influence you have over him.” He watched emotions flicker over Potter’s face. The boy hadn’t yet learned to hide a damn thing from the world. “Fudge is working to destroy Potter’s political and social worth as a method of control. If only he’d known all he had to do was take you into custody and use you as leverage to have Potter comply with his agenda. Or alternatively, he could’ve gone completely off the rails, making it even easier to convince everyone is crazy and a liar.”
Potter blew out a surprised breath. “I can’t say I would’ve behaved well in such circumstances.”
“Hermione says I should trust you, Chieftain,” Harry said. “So, I will.” He sat back in his chair.
“But?” Ragnok questioned.
“No buts,” Potter said simply. “In the end, if you betray me in word or deed—you won’t even be the first to do it this month. I can’t even say I’ll be particularly angry about it because I’m used to it. I’ve rarely met an adult in my life who had my best interest in mind. But hurting her won’t end well for anyone. I don’t suspect you’d be an exception.”
Ragnok couldn’t help but grin. “I agree to your terms.”
Harry turned to Hermione. “Is he patronizing me?”
“Surely,” Hermione said. “He’s over two hundred years old, Harry. He’s probably forgotten more magic than you know.”
“Yes, but Adad’s never killed a thousand-year-old basilisk,” Razel offered cheerfully from across the table. “That’s some outrageous shite. I hope you share the memory because I’d love to see that.”
“It wasn’t all that fun in the moment,” Harry said. “But it’s not the worst memory I have all things said and done.”
“Your friend has a better grasp of his personal power than you do, Hermione,” Ragnok said finally. “Right now, the wizarding public doesn’t know what to think of their Boy-Who-Lived due to Fudge’s smear campaign, but we both know that perception will shift and change with the wind due to Riddle.
“Riddle will reveal himself and those sheep currently wondering if Harry Potter is crazy will turn to him, and they’ll start to recognize the truth Harry has carried in him for years.”
“What’s that truth?” Hermione asked.
“Riddle might fear Albus Dumbledore, but he’s only ever known defeat at the hands of one.” Ragnok saluted Harry with his wine. “So, yes, young Harry I was a little patronizing, but I would be remiss to ignore how much damage you could do to the Horde and me if I made you an enemy.” He sat down his wife. “After all, I’ve already experienced it.”
He watched the boy frown and exhale.
“I don’t understand,” Potter admitted. “I’ve never…” He pursed his lips. “I’m always very polite to Griphook when I come to my vault despite how…surly he is in return.”
“Ah, don’t take anything Griphook says seriously, he’s just peeved to still be on cart duty,” Razel interjected.
“There are…less than satisfactory members of every society,” Ragnok said. “Dumbledore removed the account manager for the Potter accounts shortly after your parent’s death using his power as the executor of their will. Your accounts have been in limbo ever since. However, you’ll turn fifteen in just a few short days and will be able to claim them all in full. Your spending will be limited per the terms of your trust, but we’ll be able to start investing on your behalf again and assign you a new account manager.”
“Is the account manager my parents used available?” Harry questioned.
“No, he’s retired, but his son is available and was groomed to take his place with the Potter account,” Ragnok explained. “We’ll arrange for you to meet him.”
“Is that how my fame was used against you? Dumbledore and the account manager thing?”
“People were put off by it,” Ragnok said. “But it spoke more to his own disapproval than anything else. Dumbledore doesn’t trust the Horde. He believes us savage little creatures who don’t show him the respect he believes himself due. What do you know about time travel?”
“I’ve seen a time turner,” the boy said hesitantly. “And Hermione told me once that ritual time travel is illegal. I told her I wished I could go back in time and save my parents. She said the event was too far in the past, and even if we could do it—it would require a sacrifice which made it dark magic.” He pursed his lips. “I don’t suppose I’m too bothered by the dark magic part of it, but I wouldn’t want to kill anyone if I could help it.”
“What she neglected to tell you is that it can be self-sacrifice,” Ragnok said and raised an eyebrow when Hermione huffed dramatically. “Honesty is our only recourse in the days to come.”
“He’s hard-headed and prone to going off doing things without even thinking about it,” Hermione said hotly.
“In 1998, Harry, you defeated Tom Riddle in a duel on the grounds of Hogwarts,” Ragnok said simply and watched the blood drain from the boy’s face. “For a bit, everything was just as it should be. A good wizard became the Minister for Magic, and he started to make sweeping changes to create a better society for all magicals in Britain. Unfortunately, there were far too many purebloods who wanted no part of his agenda, and he was ousted from office and replaced by a man named Amos Diggory.
“Diggory hates you, even now, for the death of his son. When he became minister, he dedicated himself to ruining your life. He passed laws just to make your life more difficult and used magical contracts to force you to work for ministry until the day you died. He stole your entire estate, and to my shame I allowed it.”
“Why?” Harry asked.
“During the war, for reasons unknown to me until recently, you robbed my ban. I was…vexed.”
“Does that make us even or do I owe you an apology?” Harry questioned and winced when Hermione huffed.
“You were both insufferable,” Lenore announced. “It ruined a relationship the Horde had enjoyed with the House of Gryffindor for thousands of years.”
“House of…” Harry trailed off. “I don’t understand. I ruined your relationship with my Hogwarts house?”
Ragnok laughed a little. “No, lad, your mother descended directly through a squib daughter from Godric Gryffindor himself. Godric was our wizarding patron—he worked on our behalf the world over. His line followed suit until they fell entirely to squibs, and we have languished without a patron since. Your birth woke that legacy, but we chose not to seek your mother out due to the war. It is unclear if Dumbledore knows about your heritage, but if he did, he would do everything in his power to prevent you from accepting the role of patron.”
“Why?” Hermione questioned.
“Because it would give me allies he can’t control, Mi,” Harry said roughly. “If the war was won, why did you kill yourself to time travel?”
“Because the cost was obscene,” Ragnok said after a moment. The boy had better intuition than he’d thought, which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it did give him cause to rethink several of his opinions about Potter. “Dumbledore put you on a course, Potter, that tainted Lady Magic herself beyond repair. While she certainly would’ve survived, the darkness Riddle left behind was spreading like a virus, and it would have eventually exposed the magical world to Muggles.”
“I can see that evolving into another world war,” Harry said. “Many Muggles hate what they fear or don’t understand—just like purebloods. Of course, the Muggles have weapons the likes of which a magical person could not fathom.”
“I saw an immense explosion,” Lenore interjected. “In my visions—fire, smoke, and a dark cloud that lingered high in the sky.”
“Sounds like a nuclear weapon,” Hermione said. “Whatever they used it on, in your vision, would’ve been utterly destroyed. The fall-out would’ve tainted the ground and life exposed to it for hundreds of years after it was detonated. The Muggles have many of these weapons across several countries. There have other weapons as well-biological agents that can be used to poison the air and water. There are laws against their use, but I think if exposed to giants or dragons—those laws would no longer hold a lot of weight with them.”
Potter was frowning and staring at his plate.
“You have a question, Harry?” Ragnok prodded.
“I guess…I don’t understand why I didn’t apologize for breaking into the bank. I’m sure I had a good reason because I wouldn’t do something like that if I didn’t.”
“As it turns out, you had a very good reason,” Ragnok agreed. “You couldn’t have won the war if you hadn’t. Though I didn’t find that out until shortly before Lenore and I time traveled.”
Harry frowned at him. “You let your wife kill herself in a ritual?”
Ragnok frowned right back at him. “One day, you’re going to realize that marrying a woman in no single way gives you power over her. You asked that question like I even had a choice in the matter.”
“Don’t pout, Husband,” Lenore said serenely and refilled his wine glass. “It’s childish.”
Ragnok took a long sip of wine and wondered if he should seek therapy. He didn’t even know how he’d accomplish that considering the secrets he had to keep.
“Shortly after you married, in the other timeline, I invited you to the bank to apologize for your behavior. Miss Granger had already graciously done so and even offered money for the repairs if needed. You came with your wife, and she was…furious that I would dare ask you for an apology. After all, you’d defeated Riddle, and I should be grateful for that. She called me a foul, ungrateful creature and demanded to leave.
“In retrospect, I should’ve realized something was wrong, but I didn’t. You didn’t argue with her, and when I threatened to close your accounts outright you told me to go fuck myself.”
Harry’s eyes widened in shock.
“Harry Potter!” Hermione said in a huff. “Your language.”
“That wasn’t…I never…that’s really unfair, Hermione. I’ve never said that to anyone ever. It’s not my fault future-me was being…lead around the… nose by the witch he married.” He slouched back in his chair. “Who is this terrible person, by the way? I’d like to avoid them.”
“Ginny Weasley,” Hermione said flatly. “And she did more than lead you around by the nose, Harry. Dumbledore charmed us both, probably sometime before or during sixth year, to be loyal to the Weasley family. We were both manipulated into horrible, abusive marriages as a result. By the time the future version of myself found the loyalty charms, they were entrenched and couldn’t be removed.”
Potter scooted back from the table abruptly and left it. He walked over to the one window in the room. The lights from Muggle London flickered across his face.
“Do you remember the traps protecting the stone?”
“Yes,” Hermione said. “Of course.”
“Traps so easy get through that three first-years did it,” Harry murmured. “Surely they offered no protection against Voldemort.”
“It has recently crossed my mind that he….” The girl trailed off with a frown.
“Dumbledore was testing me, or perhaps he was testing my mother’s protection to see if Riddle had the ability to actually kill me.” Potter exhaled sharply. “During second year, Dumbledore let things spiral completely out of control to see what I would do. Also, are the twins just really totally uninterested in their younger brother to the point where they never noticed he was sharing a bed with a dead man?” He turned and faced Hermione. “The map showed Peter’s name, Hermione. How long did they have the map? Did they have it during second year when their sister was regularly visiting the Chamber of Secrets? Did Dumbledore charm them to ignore things he didn’t want to be seen? Did he know about the diary?”
“I have to think Dumbledore has always known more than he was willing to share,” Hermione said.
“Yes,” Potter murmured. “Just that—more than he’s willing to share. I’m not sure if it’s a power play or something else entirely. His desire to control events borders on some kind of psychological problem.” He cleared his throat. “So, which one did you end up married to?”
“Of course,” Potter muttered. “The brightest witch of the age marries the laziest wizard to ever live. I can’t just imagine how that was going.” He rubbed his face. “I really need some time to myself, Mi, before I break that promise about not losing my temper.”
“You will be seen to your rooms then,” Ragnok said and stood. “In the morning, we will endeavor to ruin breakfast by discussing more terrible things from a future that will no longer be.”
Potter nodded. “Sounds great.”