delphi: Mod icon for the HP Beholder exchange. (HP Beholder)
[personal profile] delphi posting in [community profile] hp_beholder
Recipient: [personal profile] pyttan
Author/Artist: ???
Title: A Living Memory
Rating: 16
Pairings: Viktor Krum/Harry Potter
Word Count: 41 000
Warnings/Content Information (Highlight to View): *Violence, very minor character death, book I is not in chronological order*.
Summary:Harry thought that life after the war would be calmer, but the new Minister has a vendetta and has evoked an old law that threatens the lives of any who stand in his way. His latest victim, Viktor Krum. No one thinks much on it until all the people who've been arrested start disappearing without a trace from their cells. Harry is put on a task force to hunt him down, but when the group turns on him, Krum is the one to save him. Trapped in a time not their own with only cryptic clues from an even more cryptic Unspeakable, they have to work together to figure out the mystery of the TimeLoop.
Author's/Artist's Notes: First and foremost, I want to thank O. for helping me not only with a beta, but also with my plot, title, editing and summary. Without her story would not be the same. I also want to give a shoutout to my other beta and Britpicker, L. Thank you dear, you have been fantastic spotting all my little mistakes.


Book I
June 27, 1998
A set of swift footfalls echoed through the empty corridor as the two hooded figures made their way over to the guarded door at the end. Their breathing was as shallow as their steps, their haste pertinent. Upon arrival the first figure took off his hood, far enough for the guards to confirm his identity with a quick and simple spell, not yet far enough for anybody else to see. As the door opened, he gave one last look over his shoulder and entered.

All light left them the moment the door closed and they both stood still for a moment, not moving, just listening. There was not a sound to be heard apart from the occasional drop of water hitting the floor and the sound of the wind blowing through the tunnels. A nonverbal spell was cast to detect any other presence in the underground maze. They were alone. For now.

The first figure sighed exasperatedly as he took off his hood. "We have to move, time is of the essence."

The second figure followed his movements, also taking off his hood, but instead of sighing, he swallowed audibly.

"No need to be nervous, Valo," the first man said as he continued his steps, lighting his wand. "Neither you nor any of the other Unspeakables will be harmed or carry any responsibility concerning the Turners."

"It is not harm I am worried about, Minister," said Valo as he followed and continued, "it is the magic we're touching. The other Unspeakables… they're also of the opinion that it is too powerful to control, better to be left alone. We agreed that it is magic; powerful magic - magic that should not have been touched in the first place. It is not for the minds of men to understand such complicated energy. Albus –"

"Albus Dumbledore is gone. He is dead, He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is dead and young Mister Potter is, contrary to popular belief, neither strong nor wise enough to help us decide on this matter. So spare me your arguments about powerful wizards and their opinions, Mister Boulstridge." Pius Thicknesse raised his chin, looking down his nose at the somewhat shorter man. Valo Boulstridge was middle-aged, probably around his fifties. His hair was shoulder-length, dark as the night and curly and his eyes were a deep dark brown. His skin was glowing a soft bronze in the Lumos charm Pius had cast earlier. His English was fluent, his accent heavy. He was an attractive man.

"Very well, Minister." Valo nodded his head once, looking away and turning a right corner. The Minister followed. "It is not our decision to make, after all, but mark my words: only ill omens can be seen when touching time."

"Consider them marked." The Minister gave Valo a last stern stare and ended the argument.

The two men continued their steady walk down the many corridors. The ceilings were so high they were invisible to the human eye, even with the extra light. They passed more doors than they turned corners and the temperature dropped steadily. When their breaths started showing, they'd reached their destination.

Valo reached inside of his robe and pulled on the fine chain around his neck until a single, shimmering stone appeared, swinging at the end. Upon closer inspection by the Minister's curious eye, the stone seemed to not be a stone at all, but a tiny glass sphere filled with some kind of ominous, dark liquid. Valo broke the chain by tugging on it once and carefully reached up and pressed the sphere steadily in the middle of the wall they were facing.

"Sanguis aperit ianuam veritas," he softly whispered as patterns started appearing on and in the wall. They continued up as far as the Minister could see, higher than even the Lumos could reach as it shot up into the air. Pius looked at the patterns for a moment, realising that while they stretched down to the ground and upward out of sight, the same was not true for either side. At most, they stretched five feet. It’s a door, his mind supplied in wondering awe. He stared at it, noticing the glass sphere was now empty and the patterns intricately etched into the stone matched the colour of the liquid that had been inside it not mere seconds ago, then at Valo, who had his stare fixed on the door in front of them.

When it opened, the sound of metal on stone echoed loudly off the walls, making the Minister wince in pain and cover his ears with his hands. It seemed to go on forever, and worse, his companion did not seem to be bothered by it at all. Pius had never had much respect for the Unspeakables and their talk about being the only people able to handle the core of all magic. He saw them as nothing more than an arrogant lot who were unwilling to share their secrets and, more importantly, their power. He was determined to bring a stop to this, but was not in a hurry, yet. What they were doing now should come first, would come first. He'd make sure of that.

The sound stopped and Valo walked inside, closely followed by the Minister, and with a single raising of his hand towards the door, had it close again. However, this time there was no agonizing sound. No screeches of metal on rock, no loud echoing of hinges creaking or corners scraping. Nothing.

"Welcome, Minister, to the core of all magic." Valo turned and looked at the Minister, his stare cold, his face pale and an odd shade of green, as if he was about to pass out.

Pius’ lips twisted into a very satisfied grin. "Welcome indeed."

October 3, 2001
The parchment crunched softly as it was unrolled by one of the Minister's personal guards. Pius extended a single gloved hand to his right and accepted it without even so much as looking at it. Instead, his stare was fixed on the crowd in front of him, which was as silent as the grave. Ever since the Ministry had made public their wish to bring back certain ways of punishment, the Wizarding world had been in complete turmoil. It had been over 500 years since any Minister of Magic had requested such a thing, as Wizarding Law was not amended without reason. A Minister going against said reason was, up until now, unheard of.

Pius reached into his pocket with his free hand and retrieved his wand, putting the tip firmly against the flesh of his throat. He cleared it once and as he cast the Sonorus Charm, his eyes fell on the Boy-Who-Lived, whispering softly but animatedly with the Muggle-born girl next to him, Hermione Granger. His eyes lingered for a moment, but he decided not to postpone this any longer, faked a smile and welcomed his people back into the Ministry of Magic.

oO0~0Oo


"As of the third of October, 2001, the Ministry will, under the right of the one hundred and fourteenth book of Wizarding Law, article seven hundred and forty-nine, paragraph one, subsection C, bring back the Penalty of Death for anybody, human or no, who commits a crime against the House of Magic, being the Ministry of Magic, effective immediately and retroactively."

Harry looked to his left and saw the face of a very confused Ron looking up at their current Minister of Magic. He then looked to his right and saw a worried-looking Hermione shaking her head. In front of him he could recognise Seamus, Dean and Ginny and even closer to the stage on which the Minister was talking he could faintly make out the shapes of what appeared to be Molly and Arthur Weasley. Harry stood on the tips of his toes to be able to get a better view of them, only half listening to what Thicknesse had to say, when he was roughly pushed down again by Hermione, who gave him a very stern glare before turning back to the Minister.

"Crimes against the House of Magic will include: help to overthrow, attempt to overthrow or overthrowing the House of Magic; making or attempting war against the House of Magic; using any of the Unforgivables on an employee of the House of Magic, this being the Imperius Curse, the Cruciatus Curse and the Killing Curse; breaking and entering into the House of Magic after hours without the written permission of the Head of the House of Magic, this being the Minister of Magic, at the time of entering; and the theft of documents and items officially claimed and owned by the House of Magic."

"Meaning we should probably all be executed…" Ron mumbled softly. Harry snickered; Ron was right, they had broken more than one of those rules in the past.

"If you think this is a laughing matter, you are mistaken," Hermione whispered angrily. "These rules are serious, Harry, do you have any idea of the power the Ministry will be holding once these new laws are made effective?!" She waited for Harry to answer, but when that didn't happen she gave a frustrated sigh, crossed her arms and looked away. Harry turned to Ron without really knowing why, for support, maybe, but noticed that Ron now had his stare fixed on the Minister as if he was about to perform a magic trick. Harry smiled, a 'magic trick'.

"An arrest for any of the aforementioned crimes will result in a two to three week stay at the Azkaban prison. During this time the accused will have the possibility to contact a lawyer if they wish to do so, and prepare his defence. The accused will have a three trial streak, meaning he can reject the verdict of the court two times. By the third time he'll either be cleared of all charges or charged with the Penalty of Death, which is either the Dementor’s Kiss or death by Mors Liquida."

Harry saw the Minister pause and look around the crowd. Nobody said anything. Pius then turned, first to look over his left shoulder and then his right. He nodded once. Immediately, four more hooded men of the Minister's Personal Guard came walking up on the stage. They took on a defensive position; the first two got down on one knee, their wand arms resting on the other knee for stability, wands aimed at the crowd. The two behind them stayed upright, legs spread, and took on the same defensive position with their arms.

Surrounding the crowd, a group of at least twenty Aurors appeared, taking on the same position as their comrades on the stage. Harry reached for his wand in his back pocket, but was stopped by Hermione, once again, in mid-air. She softly shook her head and gestured towards the stage with a nod as she slowly let go of his arm. When Harry looked into the direction she had gestured into, his eyes met Thicknesse's, whose dark glare was piercing. Harry glared back, not breaking the eye contact, but let his wand be. There was no need to cause a riot. Not yet.

Thicknesse once again put his wand against his throat, casting the Sonorus Charm.

"My fellow wizards and witches, men, women, children and creatures alike." Thicknesse paused and the crowd shuffled. There was something big to come, something bad, everybody could feel it.

"Long enough have we been at war. Long enough have our families been separated, our relatives and friends butchered, our children kidnapped, all by the hands of those who call themselves Death Eaters. I say, we have been scared long enough! It is time to take back the control over our lives!" Thicknesse raised his chin as an approving hum travelled through the crowd.

"For this reason, the Ministry of Magic has set treason by Death Eater practices apart from the rest of the aforementioned crimes." The Minister paused.

"These practices include having accepted the mark from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named at the time of his rise or accepting a mark from another powerful dark wizard or witch at any given time; having followed He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named at the time of his rise, or following another dark wizard or witch at any given time; hunting Muggle-borns, half-bloods or any other human being or creature based on their blood, and sharing and spreading former pure-blood beliefs."

Another pause. This time the Aurors were the ones shuffling nervously.

"Anybody found guilty of Death Eater practices by any member of the Court of the House of Magic shall be put to trial immediately, after which he or she shall be executed if found guilty. The Ministry of Magic shall not support time before trial or a lawyer and the accused will be stripped of all basic human rights until the trial, to ensure maximum optimisation of interrogation and protection of the Wizarding society. The Court of the House of Magic may accuse, arrest and interrogate any person at any given time if they believe there is reason to do so." At this, Thicknesse bowed, shortly and stiffly, to the crowd and, escorted by his guard, found his way back to his quarters.

"Oh no," Harry heard Hermione say. "Oh no, oh no, oh no." Ron turned and walked up to her, putting a reassuring arm around her shoulders.

"It is the least they deserve, I think," he said, squeezing Hermione maybe a little bit too roughly in the process.

"You really, really have no idea, do you?" she said as she looked from her boyfriend to Harry and back. "Do you understand what this means for us? For any normal wizard or witch? They have now, legally, the power to pick up anyone, anyone, from the streets and execute them. Anybody who is considered a thorn in the eye of the Ministry can be… will be –"

"Not if they have no proof, the people –"

"They control everything, Harry: the Prophet, the Ministry, the Aurors. If they want to make people believe somebody is guilty of being a Death Eater, they can."

Hermione turned around as not the Minister, but the head of his Personal Guard stepped forward and cast the same charm as his superior had. He cleared his throat and unrolled another piece of parchment, shorter and smaller than the first. Most of the attendees didn't even notice it, too busy approving or disapproving of what the Minister had previously announced.

The man, however, had no intention of waiting out the tumult, but raised the parchment in front of him so he could read it, and started.

"The following people are suspected of Treason and Death Eater practices against the House of Magic, by the House of Magic and shall be escorted out by our Aurors. Any form of resistance from the accused or anybody else will not be tolerated. Velma Hophard, -"

A scream echoed from the back as the woman's wand got snapped in two before she was roughly dragged away. The Head Guard wasted no time on her and read on while Aurors closed in on the strangers in the crowd. "Harold von Dusenberg, Karin von Dusenberg, Brandon von Dusenberg, Michelle Hanks, Thomas Moore, Maxx King, -"

The crowd was spreading; people were panicking and pushing, trying to find their way out. Chaos was everywhere. Hermione was roughly pressed against another woman's back as the three of them tried to keep themselves up on their feet. Falling would be suicide with this madness going on. Ron grabbed her arm and pulled her close, trying to keep her from being pushed by and squished in between even more people. "Harry," he screamed, "we need to get out!" Harry, by then, was already separated from them by a good distance. He ducked his head and tried to force his way back to his friends. He took his invisibility cloak out of his rucksack, holding it at the ready, grabbed Ron's hand, who, in turn, grabbed Hermione's, and tried pulling them to the safest exit.

The closer they got, the greater the pressure of the crowd became. On their side, people were pushing for safety, trying to get to the exit, any exit, as fast as possible, keeping their relatives close and safe. On the other side, stunning spells were flying and people were pushing back to get back into the crowd as not to get stunned and locked away as well. When a man, probably not much older than them, fell, Harry grabbed his hand and pulled him up and away, creating a gap. He swung his Invisibility Cloak around himself and his friends and managed to get through the menacing group of people.

They crouched so as not to show their feet and slowly moved towards the empty corridor behind the Aurors from which they would be able to Floo, hopefully without too much trouble. When they moved past one of the Guard members still protecting the crowd he turned swiftly, but upon seeing nobody, turned back and fired another Stunning Spell into the masses.

Once they'd turned a safe corner, Harry pulled off the Invisibility Cloak and, without saying anything, the three of them swiftly moved towards the first available office.

The door opened with a simple Alohomora Charm, which told them the little room was probably not guarded by any other spells. Harry moved forward and grabbed some of the Floo Powder out of a white pot while Ron and Hermione stepped inside the fireplace. Harry followed, spoke the name of the Order's Headquarters and disappeared.

As green flames engulfed them, a group of Aurors came bursting into the room, wands raised and at the ready.

January 12, 2002
He opened his eyes as the first soft touch of the wind caught his face, immediately wide awake but still weak from starvation and despair. He crawled towards the bars of the small cell that held him, cocked his head in the direction from which it came and took a deep breath. The ocean, he could almost taste it. He pressed his face against the cold metal, as hard as humanly possible, desperate to catch what might very well be his last breath of fresh air.

The guards didn't open the doors often. Or maybe they did, he couldn't be sure. For all he knew they opened them every day, but keeping track of time in this place was impossible. He shivered, not because he was cold - he was always cold these days and his body had long ago given up on trying to warm itself back up. No, he shivered because of what was to come. The fresh air, the only sign of life in a place where Death reigned, despair lived and all hope was long lost, did not come without a price. They were coming.

Whether the doors merely opened to let them in, he didn't know, although he had the feeling it was meant to make their coming even more torturous. Give them a whiff of hope, a taste of the outside world, of freedom, only to be sucked back into the void of imprisonment and fear moments after.

He took another deep breath, trying to suck in as much air as he could, and looked over his shoulder. His cell was narrow, not even three feet wide, but very long. It wasn’t long enough to avoid all contact with the creatures, but enough to avoid most if he concentrated. Once again worse than the punishment itself was the hope that he felt every time he crawled back into that dark corner with the last bit of strength his broken body possessed. It was their strongest weapon. A weapon he was going to use to his own advantage tonight.

In the distance he could make out the first shriek and immediately flinched away from the bars. He resisted the urge to curl up into a ball and hide in his corner right away, making himself as small and unnoticeable as possible. But he knew, had known for a while, that if he wanted to escape he needed to give them exactly what they wanted. Pain. The more you fear, the more you scream, the more they want you to. Many before him had gone insane, whispers travelling from cell to cell told their stories, but even in insanity they'd be nothing more than the perfect midnight snack.

Another shriek. He closed his eyes and rested his back against the wall, breathing slowly in and out. As they got closer he opened his eyes again, swallowed the lump in his throat and thought of every bad thing, every painful emotion, memory filled with despair and tear he'd ever shed.

April 9, 2002
"Follow him," he said, his voice raw with anger as he slammed both of his hands on his desk. "Follow him, find him, bring him in and I'll execute him myself."

The Head Guard looked at the Minister in front of him, neither impressed nor moved by this display of emotions. Logic was what needed to be used and depended upon, what would bring them success. Emotions would be mere obstacles along the way.

"Is there something unclear about my order, Corvus?" Pius rounded his desk and took two angry steps towards him, but managed to keep somewhat of a distance between them. Corvus Mustow was Russian by origin and at least two heads taller than the Minister. He did not appreciate being looked down upon.

They were standing in the Minister's office, a spacious room with a large, dark-wooden desk in the middle. The back wall was rounded and adorned with several ceiling-high windows, spelled to give an excellent view of one of the more beautiful parks in London. The dark wood of the desk almost seemed to flow into the same dark wooden floor. A big, pompous chandelier hung over their heads and two beautiful plants stood proudly on each side of the double door that led back into the corridor.

"Not at all, Minister," Corvus spoke calmly, "but haste will not only be of no use in this particular situation, it will just work against us. As we speak my personal team is researching how and why exactly Mister Krum was able to escape, enter the –"

"I don't care how Mister Krum did what he did, or why he did it. The only thing I do care for at this particular time is him, six feet under the ground, dead," Pius spat.

"– enter the Ministry, disarm and Imperius an Unspeakable and get his hands on one of the more complicated and dangerous Time-Turners, Minister. Without so much as a concept of why Mister Krum would've gone to where he's gone, which can be anywhere, at any time, we have nothing."

The Minister's eyes shifted back and forth over Corvus’ face, trying to detect a lie, possibly an excuse. Corvus stayed unmoved, showing nothing, staring the smaller man directly in the eyes. He was not afraid of the Minister, and the Minister knew that. However, Corvus was one of his more successful and strong Aurors. Pius could not afford to let the man walk away.

"Fine," Pius breathed, "but I want results before the end of the week." He then turned his back on Corvus and told him to get out. Corvus obliged gladly.

oO0~0Oo


Viktor Krum crawled over some of the bigger boulders and, when he hit the top, stopped and sat down, breathing heavily. It'd been a long climb. He looked around to see if he could find a place to find shelter where he wouldn't be noticed as easily. He saw an alcove closer to the mountainside and decided that another 100 feet or so wouldn't kill him. He got up, groaned at the pain in his knees and back and started walking. He'd made it this far, and he'd make it even further. He had to.

He slipped between the rocks, sat down and tried to get as comfortable as possible, wrapping his coat a little bit tighter around himself, and felt his pocket.

His eyes widened and he cursed inwardly. It wasn't there! He frantically searched all of his pockets, even looked inside his shoes and socks, but couldn't find anything.

It was gone.

oO0~0Oo


"Found anything interesting?" Corvus asked as he approached his team. One of the Aurors, who was talking to two others, turned around and levitated a tiny gold necklace towards him. Corvus cast the same spell, wandless, and let it hover close to his face. Holding up his hand, not quite touching it, he made it turn slowly, examining it closely. "Whose is it?" he asked without so much as looking up at Swansea, the Auror who'd brought him the necklace, or any of the others.

"We're not sure yet," Swansea said. "There are definitely traces of magic on it, but they're neither Krum's nor any of the other identifiable members of the Ministry."

"It's foreign then," Corvus said, more to himself than anybody else. He waved his hand towards Swansea, forcing the necklace back to him. "I want to know who they are, where they are, what they know, when they gave it to our escapee, why they gave it to him and what it means," he said loudly. "This necklace probably is the key to mister Krum's whereabouts."

June 2, 1998
Thicknesse sat down at his desk and rested his palms on its cool surface. It was over. The last remaining powerful wizard had been defeated, and by a boy, no less. It didn't matter much, though, not for the success of his plan. He took a deep and calming breath, the smell of the newly painted wood filling his nose, and looked around his freshly decorated office. His. Still his, as it should be.

'Always stay on the winning side,' his father had told him when he was still a boy,' and if the winning side changes, change sides with it.' And so he had. And then he had again. For years he'd been the Minister's lapdog, staying as close to him as possible, as safe as possible, running errands, giving nods of approval, doing all his dirty work. But the Minister had resigned, and his successor had been killed. Perhaps by him, perhaps not. It had been time for that Minister to resign anyway, because a new one had already been waiting; new blood would reign the Wizarding World.

It had looked like the Dark Lord was going to win the war, and so Pius had changed sides, but without leaving the first. If only the Malfoys had been as smart. He smiled and turned in his chair, his own cleverness almost entertaining, and looked at his windows. They were huge, going from floor to ceiling and, upon his request, had been made to only ever show the most beautiful views of downtown London. At the moment they were showing the London eye. Very muggle, but also very beautiful. Grand, just like himself, he thought.

Of course, the changing of sides hadn't gone without a solid plan. He'd put himself in such a position that the Dark Lord and any of his followers would think him close enough to the Minister, easily impressed, intimidated and scared, and he'd been put in a very powerful position, controlled for the time being, but he knew, whether the Dark Lord would win the war or not, he'd have his safe spot. If the Dark Lord won, he'd have his power and if not, well, being in the position he was, controlled and watched, a simple lie about an Imperius curse would be easily told.

His smile disappeared and his face twisted into a grimace. Those filthy pure-bloods with their pure-blood beliefs. They thought they were so much better, so much smarter than he was. He'd get them all, one by one, he'd simply wait and have them plucked out of their timeloop as if they were nothing more than vermin. Because once his plan would start, there'd be no going back, not for anybody, not even for those who'd, perhaps, realise what he was really doing. They'd all die, because soon, soon he'd be the master of Time.

He spun his chair around as a knock sounded on the door. It opened and a young, somewhat skinny looking, dark-haired, green-eyed man walked in. "Ah, young Mister Potter, how nice of you to see me on such short notice."

July 4, 1998
Once more he traced his finger over the numerous luminous glass orbs, phials and spheres. This room was sacred to the Unspeakables and Valo treated it as such. The core of all magic, of all beings, of all that was, is and has ever been. He walked further along the endless shelves, as high as his eyes could reach and beyond, bathing in the light of memories and happenings all neatly sorted, stored and labeled.

Deciding it was time to move on, he walked to the middle of the circular room. A column of light in every colour imaginable was finding its way up to the roof and back to the ground: the Timeloop. Valo took a step forward, entering the column, closed his eyes and opened his mind.

Valo saw everything. He saw what had happened, he saw what was happening, he saw everything that could happen or would happen, the inevitable, the interchangeable, the future, the Universe. He breathed magic, he saw magic, he was magic. He calmed his brain and focussed on future events.

oO0~0Oo


He adjusted his robes as he walked back into the Ministry, turned a corner and entered the office of the head of the Unspeakables.

It was a dark room, the only light coming from the candles on the desk and the torches on the wall. It was circular, much like the one the Timeloop was in. Papers, parchment, books and files adorned the windowless walls, the occasional feather perched on top. A man was sitting behind the desk, upon which more parchment rested. He put down his quill as he looked up and smiled.

"Valo, what an unexpected surprise," the old man said. His hair and beard were white as snow, his eyes a bright hazel. They shimmered behind the glasses he wore to read. A dark yellow cloak hung over his shoulders. He reached for his glasses, took them off with one shaking hand and put them on top of the parchment he had been writing on when Valo had entered.

Whenever Valo was around him he felt like a young boy, despite him being 52 years old. This man had seen more than many could dream of, maybe the most of all. He knew things nobody would ever know. He was wise, extremely so.

The old man's name was Maximus Evander Graham Gaspar. He'd been working at the Ministry as an Unspeakable for over 80 years, had been the Head for more than twenty and had no intention to stop any time soon. "Unless time comes for me earlier than is expected, of course, but for now it is not in the cards," Maximus had told him a couple of years back. Of course it was unheard of to look into one's own future when in the Timeloop; it showed you what it wanted you to see, but the elder might not even need that anymore.

Valo looked up to Unspeakable Gaspar. He'd been like a father to him since he had started working at the Ministry, and Valo couldn't imagine a time without the man. Who would he go to once that would happen? The other Unspeakables were, without a doubt, as skilled as himself, but even he wasn't sure of what to do on rare occasions like these. He sometimes thought that might be the sole reason Maximus was still there.

"My coming is not without reason, Unspeakable Gaspar." Valo bowed slightly. "I have seen."

The Unspeakable rested his elbows upon his desk and folded his hands, smiling crookedly. "My dear Valo, there's no need for formalities. Take a seat." When Valo looked, a chair that had not been there moments before stood pointed in the direction of the desk. It was a big, soft, brown-leather chair; simple but probably very comfortable. Valo sat down and rested his face in his hands, his arms leaning heavily on his thighs.

"Terrible things are about to happen Maximus, the Timeloop itself might even be in danger. And there's nothing we can do to stop it."

"There's nothing we should do to stop it," Gaspar said and Valo looked up. "All things can be prevented when the necessary steps and actions are taken. However, one should never interfere with Time, as Time heals not only the wounds of others. What needs to happen will happen. Who are we to interfere with the decisions of the Universe?" The old man's eyes twinkled.

"You know…"

Gaspar nodded. "Yes, I have seen." He sighed. "There are reasons worthy of our worry, of course, Valo." He paused, his gaze fixated on nothing, lost in thought for a short moment. "For now, the path to take is the one that's laid out for you. Do what you're here for, and most importantly, follow the Minister's orders." He cleared his throat at that and smiled once more. "But for now it's time to have a nice lunch. Have you already eaten, Valo?"

"Yes. But Maxiumus, we can't just let him –"

"I'm thinking of fish."

Unspeakable Gaspar was making his way over to the door, so Valo stood up in a last attempt to get his attention once more.

"If we let him do what he wants he will destroy the whole of th-"

"Bouillabaisse sounds nice. I know a very nice little lunchroom in Diagon Alley that serves the best you've ever had. If only I could remember the name…"

"How can you stay so calm?" Valo threw out in a last attempt.

"Well, are you joining me or not? There's no thinking on an empty stomach."

Valo looked his elder in the eyes. "You know." This time it was not a suggestion, he knew the Unspeakable knew. He'd seen, not only what was going to happen, but what their future would be.

"You know. But how?" Valo said. The two men stared at each other for a long time, one seriously, the other affectionately.

"Well," Gaspar sighed, "I guess it's a lunch for one then." He looked at the younger man one last time and before he turned around and disappeared around the corner, Valo could have sworn he saw the old man wink at him.

Book II
June 3, 1998
"An Auror?" Ron sat up and stared at Harry in disbelief. "How'd you do that?"

"I'm sure what Harry meant to say was Auror training, Ron," Hermione said, "nobody can skip that. Harry was just invited so the Minister could tell him himself he got accepted into the program." She nodded once to emphasise her point. She and Ron had been hanging out in Harry's sitting room, as they did more often, when he had come home.

"Actually," Harry began, "he did not mention the training once. I can start on January first of next year…" Harry looked first at Hermione and then at Ron. Hermione scrunched her brow and Ron just gaped at him.

"You don't think they'd have another spot free for me, now do you?" Ron said as he walked up to Harry and gave him a hug and a pat on his shoulder. "Well done, mate."

"Thanks." Harry smiled. He had thought he had been in trouble when he had been called into the Minister’s office. That or that he would get another request to 'support' the Ministry one way or another. So when Minister Thicknesse had told him the news he hadn't been sure how to respond, which apparently had given Thicknesse the wrong idea. He had immediately asked if he could put a good word out for Harry in another department. What did he want anyway?

After Voldemort's demise in May he had been trying to stay away from the public as much as possible, questioning everything he thought he was and wanted, including becoming an Auror. But the Minister had been right. It was who he was, what he was good at and what he'd wanted to do since he’d been fifteen years old. It'd be stupid to let a chance like this slip.

So he had accepted it. Signed a contract for January and gone home in a bit of a daze.

And now that Ron was congratulating him, it all came back. He was finally getting lucky for once, or so he hoped. He decided he was happy about it, forced a smile and hugged his best friend back.

oO0~0Oo


The night was cold despite it being mid June. Harry wrapped his jacket a little bit tighter around himself and rested his head against the wall he was sitting against. He sighed and watched as his breath formed clouds, drifting up and disappearing into the night air. It was a clear night, no cloud to be seen, just stars. He followed the patterns with his eyes, trying to recognise the constellations. He felt a stab in his stomach when he found Remus, and then Sirius, lone stars separated by millions of kilometers of space. So lonely, singled out, but picked out to serve a bigger purpose, a higher goal. Just like him.

"I thought you might be here." Hermione sat down next to him, pulling the blanket she was wearing tighter around herself, an almost futile attempt at trying to keep the warmth in. "Harry-"

"I just need time." He turned his head and looked at her. "Just time, Hermione. I don't need to talk, I need to think."

Hermione shuffled a little bit closer and leaned her head on his shoulder. "What happened... It's affected all of us. We can't go on pretending it was all just a bad dream."

He didn't answer. Instead, he turned his head back and kept staring at the stars. She didn't know anything. Not about what it had felt like, seeing him lying there, the happiness and relief of newfound freedom clashing with the gut-crushing feeling of being a murderer, not about the conversation with Dumbledore and the choice he had been presented with, not about everything he had given up, even his own life, his friends and his family, all to follow a path he hadn't chosen, but one that had been laid out for him before he had even been born. He had changed. He hated to admit it, but he had. It was as if all naivety had left him, and even though all seemed peaceful right now, he knew a new storm was coming.

The worst times were also the best times, the times he was with his two best friends; during those moments he felt a little bit like his old self again. Not the murderer he was, but the boy he used to be. Chained to a fate, but free in mind and spirit.

He felt Hermione's eyes on him, still waiting for an answer.

He turned his head and looked at her once more, scanning her face, going from that small, almost unnoticeable dimple in her chin to her freckles, her nose, eyebrows, forehead and back to her eyes. They were searching him, he knew, almost desperately, trying to read him, trying to find an answer in his cold eyes.

Hermione stood up and turned around. She was about to walk away when she seemed to change her mind. Turning back, she crouched down and hugged him intently.

"Don't forget you're surrounded by people that love you, Harry,” she said quietly into his ear. “You have never been alone, and you never will be."

December 18, 1998
Valo stood before the Timeloop, watching its colours go up and come back down again, lighting up his face in the dark room. He reached out with his free hand, the other still holding on to the chain he had pulled off earlier. The flashes started filling his mind the moment his hand entered the stream. Living in memories as if he was really there, seeing lives begin and end within seconds, prophecies ignored and fulfilled. His head filled slowly as patterns started forming and once again it took him to the end, the end of Time. There was nothing after that, no future events, no flashes, nothing, just nothing, filled with absolute darkness. Valo pulled out his hand and stared at the gigantic column in front of him. No matter how many times he had come back, no matter how much he focussed on anything else but that event, the Timeloop refused to take him anywhere else. He sighed and his shoulders slumped; he had never felt so burdened before with the task that had been given to him.

“An interesting being, isn’t it?”

Valo whirled around in surprise and confusion as Unspeakable Gaspar walked towards him slowly. The elderly man smiled a kind smile, then focused on the lights as Valo had earlier. “Oh yes,” Gaspar continued, “I do think it’s alive, as everything that holds magic is alive.”

Valo didn’t say anything.

“A troubled mind will often cloud the seeing eye.” Valo wasn’t sure if those words were intended for him, or if the Unspeakable was talking to himself. He opened his mouth to speak, but Gaspar raised his hand. “Not until one can see without judgement, not until one can see and accept, can one truly see. We are not here to alter events, my dear boy, we are merely its translators.” He turned his face and rested his hand on Valo’s shoulder, patted it twice and walked away. A shiver ran down Valo’s spine as the doors closed behind the other man. He rubbed his shoulder, gave one last worried glance at the Timeloop and followed Gaspar’s footsteps out of the room, through the corridors and into the dungeon.

January 1, 1999
“You have to eat something.” Hermione looked up from the paper she was reading. She’d come over earlier that morning with fresh coffee from the shop down the block and warm buns, but Harry hadn’t taken a sip or bite from it yet.

“I’m sorry, I’m just not hungry.” He threw the crumb he’d been twirling between his finger and thumb on his plate and stood up. “I should probably go, don’t want to be late on my first day.” He feigned a smile, swallowed audibly and grabbed his cloak from one of the chairs.

Hermione sighed. “I’ll wrap these up for you then,” she said as she grabbed the untouched bun from Harry’s plate and an extra one from the box on the counter. Harry’s kitchen was nice and spacious. There was a cooking island in the middle with high chairs on one side of it for people to sit and eat, looking out to the big windows covering most of the kitchen’s wall and into the yard. It wasn’t a big yard, nor a very impressive one, but it was his and that made Harry like it. Most of the yard was grass, except for one big apple tree standing in the exact middle of it. Harry found it almost magical, it’d been what had made him fall in love with the place.

“Thanks,” Harry said as he accepted the wrapped buns.

She smiled and walked up to him, brushing invisible fuzz off his shoulders and straightening his already straight cloak. “You’ll do fine.” She nodded. “Off you go, then.”

He looked at her and thought of something to say, but couldn’t think of anything, so he turned and walked to the fireplace, grabbed a handful of Floo Powder and disappeared.

oO0~0Oo


Harry stepped out of one of the fireplaces at the Ministry of Magic, was immediately bumped into by a random man who didn’t even seem to notice him, tripped over a stash of newspapers and fell down, sprawling them all over the floor in the process. He groaned and got up on his knees when a dark shadow appeared over him. As he looked up he looked into the face of the Minister of Magic himself and turned scarlet as he struggled in an attempt to get up without slipping on any of the newspapers.

“Ah, Mister Potter, how glad I am to see you here, how glad indeed. Not your best entrance, I must admit,” he chuckled, “but one cannot always be flawless, can one? Now, if you’ll follow me I’ll get you started.” He gestured for Harry to walk with him. “We’ll meet up with the head of the Auror department in a minute, but first I’d like you to sign some papers for me, as it is your first day and all. Ah Belinda,” he reached out to stop a woman who was about to pass them, “dearest, could you go down to the department of Mysteries for me and tell Unspeakable Gaspar he’ll be awaited in my office at 10? Thank you.” Harry did his best to keep up with the Minister’s hasty steps, sidestepping any and everybody who came in his path. The crowd was overwhelming, the floods of people came in waves and everything happened at once, leaving him a bit baffled. He looked to his left and saw the crowd waiting for the lifts, even more hurrying to get to the stairs; there were people circling the fountain, going in and out of doors and hallways, consumed in paperwork, conversations, thoughts and haste.

“Here we are, if you would be so kind and give the gentleman your wand for registration then we can begin.”

Harry got his wand out of his pocket and handed it over to the man behind the counter, who scanned it with a quick spell, asked him to confirm the length, wood and core, made him sign and gave him a form of what to do would he get or start using another wand. Harry mumbled a quick ‘thank you’ before having to jog after the Minister, who had started walking again before Harry had even had the chance to put his wand away.

The further they came into the Ministry the quieter it became and by the time the Minister opened the double doors into his office Harry’s head had calmed down a bit and his nerves had returned.

A single dark brown feather was lying atop of a document; it was big, definitely pompous, the tip so sharp he was convinced he would be able to easily cut himself with it. Pius walked behind his desk and sat down. He took a scroll from one of the drawers, unrolled it and presented it to him. Harry sat down in one of the chairs, too, and started reading. He wished he could have taken this back to show Hermione, just to make sure he wasn’t signing up for anything he did not agree to, but so far it looked okay.

He had to admit that he had never liked nor trusted Pius Thicknesse much, due to him changing sides twice during the war. He had claimed he had been put under the Imperius Curse and had sworn he would make it right by accepting the dangerous position as Minister of Magic. Nobody had stopped him, and Harry didn’t blame them. Being Minister wasn’t a desirable post, not in times like these, having to clean up after the war.

Harry sighed and realised he had just read an entire paragraph without taking in a single word, and started over.

oO0~0Oo


The first thing Harry noticed about the head of the Auror department was his size. He was huge, at least 6’4’, broad-shouldered and dark. As Harry shook the man’s hand he winced. Not only was the man big, he was also strong, and Harry’s hand felt bruised. “Corvus Mustow,” the man said as Harry introduced himself. “Head of the Auror Department. It is a great honor to have you here.” He bowed his head slightly and smiled what seemed to Harry like a very fake smile.

“Auror Mustow will be showing you the Auror department.” The Minister nodded once towards the bigger man standing in front of Harry. “Well, good luck.” With that he walked away. Harry wouldn’t see the Minister again until the third of October, two years later.

oO0~0Oo


“Auror Mustow, how can I help you?” Pius looked up from his work as the Auror walked in.

“With due respect, Minister,” Corvus paused, considering his words wisely. “I understand your reasoning of wanting to have Potter around and observed, I can even see some potential, however,” Corvus paused again as he carefully studied the Minister’s reaction. “However, he’ll be nothing but a burden. The boy has had no training, no skills, no insight into what he can and can’t do, he’s an absolute mess.”

“Then teach him.” The answer was short but implied so much more. Corvus gnashed his teeth.

“I hardly think, Minister, that it is my job to brainwash mister Potter so he won’t stand in our way.”

Pius pinched the bridge of his nose, leaned back in his chair and sighed. “No need to do that, Corvus.” He gestured to the chair opposite of him. “Sit down.” Corvus sat. “We’ve been over this, the only thing we need to do is make Mister Potter feel important once again. Give him another cause and he’ll get attached, once he gets attached it’ll be harder for him to oppose us might he find out. It is an absolute necessity that this happens.”

Corvus leaned forward and rested his arms on his knees, hanging his head down for a moment in order to think. Taking a deep breath, he looked back up, nodded to the Minister once and got up.

The Minister smiled. “Patience, my dear Corvus, it’ll all work itself out in the end.”

January 28, 1999
Valo once again pointed his wand towards the Timeloop, closed his eyes, reached in with his other hand and focussed, trying to find a string, something, anything. On his right one of his colleagues whipped out one of the Loop’s strings and stopped it there, in midair, for a moment, studying its patterns, the lives, the time and role it played. On his left he heard another colleague chant an old spell before pulling out a string looking identical to the one on his right. Valo focussed, felt a lifeline and pulled on it, ripping it away from its origin. It hung above him like a rainbow, circled him like a ribbon and lit him up as if he were surrounded by millions of fireflies. He twirled once and shot up a good 5 feet off the ground so he could study the line where it was still attached to the Timeloop. Slowly tracing his free hand over the string, not yet touching it, but close enough to absorb its energy, he let the flashes fill his head.

As he landed back on the ground softly he waved his wand once and sent the string back into the Timeloop, immediately shooting upwards.

“Any progress so far?” One of his fellow Unspeakables asked, walking up to him.

“None so far. The strings seem to be attached to the Timeloop in such a way that separating a certain event seems impossible, never mind the life-string of a single person. Did you get any further?” He put his wand away and grabbed a mug. It automatically filled itself with water.

His co-worker, named Michael Hammington, did the same thing. They stood there for a moment, exhausted from the hard work, sipping their drinks. Valo looked up and watched the others work on the loop, some on the ground like himself, others higher up, some even so high he could only still faintly spot their silhouettes when they pulled out a string or shot one back.

“It feels wrong,” Michael said and put his mug down. “It feels as if we’re hurting it.”

“It’s because we are,” Valo answered. “We’re damaging it with every attempt we make to separate its magic from itself. We’re splitting it in parts. Look!” He gestured up to where one of his colleagues was working. “See that? It has its regular speed down here, but the moment it hits that point it speeds up, as if it’s trying to work against us.”

“Do you think we need to inform Unspeakable Gaspar?” Michael asked, crossing his arms. “It seems only logical that every change should be reported, as it might be of importance or influence the results.”

“I logged it,” Valo said and looked at Michael.

“When?”

“Couple of hours ago, why?”

“Oh,” Michael nodded once towards the doors. “I saw Gaspar leave with the scrolls not too long ago.”

Valo nodded, then grabbed another mug, which also filled itself with water, as he saw Annika walk towards them. She was the newest and the youngest of the group, but definitely not the least talented.

“Hey, kiddo.” Valo smiled and was about to hand her the mug when she said something that nearly made him drop it.

She was breathing heavily as if she had just run a marathon and ran a hand through the strands of hair that had come loose from her ponytail.

“I’ve found a lifestring, and I have it open.”

March 17, 2000
The echo of his footsteps reminded Pius of the first walk he had taken down the cold corridors almost two years ago. He smiled and praised himself for managing to get this far. However, he wasn’t there yet, he had to keep reminding himself of that. He was close, though. They all were.

A small select group of Aurors stood in the large room, awaiting the Minister’s arrival together with the Unspeakables. Unspeakable Gaspar was the first to greet and welcome the Minister, Auror Mustow was second.

He spared neither of them much attention. It didn’t matter how many times he would walk into this room, he would always be baffled by the power the column, or the Timeloop - as the Unspeakables called it - emitted. Just standing in its light already made him feel stronger. He slowly walked around it, observing the colours shooting up and down with admirable speed. When he had finished his round, he cleared his throat and turned to the Unspeakables.

“I was very pleased when I was informed of your progress.” He smiled and spread his arms. “Especially when my request for a demonstration was approved of. Gentlemen, Unspeakable Gaspar,” he gestured to Gaspar once as to acknowledge his work and status, “we have gone where no man has gone before. Not only will we travel through time, we will control it. Unspeakable Gaspar, if you’d be so kind...”

“Gaspar smiled and tapped the young Unspeakable Hill on her shoulder. As she had been the one to discover the separation of string and Timeloop first, she controlled it best at the moment, and a demonstration in front of the Minister could not go wrong, not when it was announced as ‘under control’.

Annika stepped forward, held out her hand as to feel the stream of strings shooting up and down, raised her wand and pointed it to where her hand was resting on the Timeloop. She closed her eyes to let the images fill her head, breathed once and whipped out a string.

Some of the Aurors gasped, others shuffled, and Annika couldn’t blame them. She still remembered the first time she had walked in here, and it had blown her mind as well. A huge column, holding all of Time, the power to grasp, see, follow, travel through it - it was too much to take in all at once.

She looked up at the string above her, flowing and shimmering, reflecting on her face. She had found the lifeline of one of the present Aurors, on request of Gaspar himself. Instead of flying to the top of the string, however, she traced her hand alongside it close to where she was standing. She let her hand follow it all the way to the ground and back up, until she felt she had it under control, then stopped it from flowing with a flick from her wand.

The Auror in question choked once, eyes open wide in shock, but moved no muscle. Annika however, was focussing on the string. One slip and she would lose control. She hated missing out on the surprised yelps and reactions from the Aurors, though.

The Minister walked forward first to Annika, studying the string and what she was doing, then to the frozen woman. He stood before her for a while before snapping his fingers in front of her face once, then waving and prodding her shoulder.

“Is she dead?” he asked curiously. It would be so easy if this were it, however, he doubted it was, she didn’t feel dead. It was as if her body was frozen, or rather, stuck. He turned and looked at the Timeloop, then at Annika still focussing on the string and back at the Auror. Stuck outside of Time. Stopped. He gasped. “Amazing.”

Gaspar stepped forward, too, joining the Minister. “Dead? No, Minister, we’re not able to do that. Not by stopping her time, at least. For now she’s just placed out of Time, not part of anything for a while. We need to put her back soon though, Annika?” He turned and gave the girl a nod.

“Yes, sir,” she said before letting out a breath she realised she had been holding, releasing the string and it’s movement. It automatically got sucked back in by the Timeloop, shooting upwards, as per usual.

The woman collapsed and was caught by one of the Aurors standing behind her, who helped her back on her feet. Pius noted she looked a sickly shade of green, and he was satisfied to see this. Even if one of his Aurors were to mess up, at least the person in question would still be weakened by their first, failed attempt.

“I think an explanation would be welcome, Unspeakable Gaspar. After all, my Aurors will have to be able to do the same thing your colleague was so kind to show us.”

“Well, what we did,” Annika cleared her throat; she had not once stood in front of a Minister of Magic, let alone spoken to one. However, Maximus had given her specific orders to answer each and every one of the Minister’s questions, and so she would. “We connected with the Timeloop by letting our magic flow out through our hand, and letting the Timeloop’s magic flow in.” She nervously put some of her hair behind her ears and smiled awkwardly. “Minister.” She bowed her head slightly. “Then we wait until we feel a certain person’s energy, which is only possible if that person is close by, preferably in the room, or so we’ve found out. You see, when that person is in the room the magic of that person will automatically try and connect with its magic inside of the Timeloop by-”

“Just the basics will do, Miss...?” Pius raised his eyebrows.

“Hill, Unspeakable Hill, sir, Minister. And of course. My apologies,” she stammered.

“That’s quite alright, continue.”

“So when we feel that person’s magic we whip it out and stop it, enabling that person to exist out of time for a short while,” she finished, disappointed she hadn’t been able to give all the details she’d hoped to give as it had been her discovery, freezing one of her co-workers accidentally, but also glad it was over.

“And what exactly would happen,” Pius asked as he slowly made his way over to the Timeloop and turned to where Annika was standing, “if you kept them frozen for longer than a... while?”

“Then we’d lose control; we can only keep it still for so long, Minister.”

“Hmm. How interesting. And say, what would happen if you permanently separated the two?” He twirled around and looked at Gaspar, then at the other Unspeakables, then back at Annika. “As you’ve been so kind to answer all of my questions, Miss Hill, would you do me the honor,” he said and smiled a cold smile, “to answer this one for me, too?”

Annika looked up at the Minister, his intense gaze fixated on her eyes. It creeped her out, made her shiver with an unexplainable fear and break out in a cold sweat. She opened her mouth but no sound came out at first, making her swallow and clear her throat audibly. “I... I’m not sure, Minister, but the logical,” she swallowed again, trying to get rid of the lump in her throat, “the only logical explanation would be that the magic that got separated from the Timeloop would try and find another host, as it cannot go without. It’ll seek the one closest to it, being the person it originates from and... and destroy them.” She looked around nervously to the Aurors, then to her fellow Unspeakables. Gaspar nodded and smiled at her, his kind eyes calming her a bit. She smiled a weak smile back at him.

“Excellent!” the Minister proclaimed. “Of course, that is all theoretical.” As for the Aurors present, Unspeakable Gaspar will explain the rest. I have an appointment in five minutes, so I’ll have to leave you now. It was an honour.” Pius bowed to the Unspeakables, turned around and left the room.

March 18, 2000
“Through close examination and evaluation we have come to the conclusion that you,” Pius Thicknesse nodded to the five men in front of him, six if you counted the Head Auror, too, “are all very much suited to be in my Personal Guard.” He watched the men for a minute or so, to see what their reactions would be. None seemed too impressed, nobody protested. Good. He tilted his chin.

“Gentlemen, we live in a fragile society, about to collapse if we don’t do something to protect it.” Two nodded, one hummed in approval. “The Ministry, at the moment, is no more than a house of cards about to be blown over by the big, bad wolf.” He looked around the room into the eyes of each and every single one of the chosen men. “And if we don’t do something about it, if we don’t take action today, if we leave it be and go unprotected it will surely collapse and wither.” He paused. “We have to take action, we have to protect the Ministry.”

He smiled, pleased by their responses so far. Nothing negative, that was good. This meant fast progress. “Yesterday you were shown a rather peculiar piece of magic,” he continued, “one that, if I’m correct, you haven’t been shown before. What I want is for you to get familiar with this magic, train and learn how to control it.” He looked to his right at his Head Auror. “Auror Mustow, along with some of the Unspeakables, of course chosen by myself, will guide you through this process. You’ll report back to him and not me, nor any of the other Aurors. The information of this training and practises will stay within this group.” His gaze hardened. “Nothing is to leak, and if it does, you’ll be treated as an official enemy of the state.”

He turned and slowly started walking around his desk, his fingers tracing the edge. “Of course,” he said, looking up, still moving, “there’ll be certain advantages to assisting me in this task. First of all, there will be a decent compensation for each and every one of you, all stated clearly in the contracts.” He was standing behind his desk now and waved his wand once, making five identical contracts and feathers appear. “By signing this you’ll be bound to me, obeying my every command, but you’ll also be the most powerful and influential wizards in the Wizarding world. Except, of course, for me.”

oO0~0Oo


“Make sure to start testing as soon as possible, Corvus.” The Minister looked up from one of the contracts he had been examining, making sure the signatures were real and the magic that was cast upon the contract activated. He put down the parchment and his wand and looked up at the Head Auror, now Head Guard.

“And on whom will the tests be performed? Even if we succeed at extracting strings completely I am sure we’ll not find any volunteers easily.” He pulled back a chair and sat down, crossing his arms and facing the Minister.

“Oh, but we have volunteers, my dear Corvus.” The Minister smiled sweetly. “We have a whole prison full of them.”

August 4, 2000
The moment Harry stepped through the old door the memories hit him. He looked down the hall and saw the stairs leading up to the bedrooms he had once shared with Ron and Hermione. Then he looked further down the hallway and saw the door that lead to the kitchen. He walked up to it almost in a daze and opened it, half expecting to see Sirius sitting on one of the chairs, discussing Order business with Remus and Tonks. He expected to hear the sarcastic drawl of Snape’s voice coming from behind him, telling him what a pleasant surprise it was to see him here. He expected to hear Fred and George pop into the kitchen, Molly chasing them with a newspaper, screaming that even though they were now of age it didn’t mean they had to Apparate everywhere. But when the door opened there was no Sirius, no Remus and Tonks, no Fred and George popping in and no screaming Molly. There was no Snape acting suspicious, no Mad-Eye Moody making everything sound worse and more dangerous than it really was. Instead there was an almost empty kitchen. Kingsley Shacklebolt was sitting at the head of the table, discussing something with Arthur Weasley. Ron was standing over scrolls and papers spread over the table, face scrunched, lost in thought. Hermione was opposite him, angrily going through a huge stack of documents. It was different, as everything was different now, and he didn’t like it. He wanted to go back.

“Harry, my dear boy!” Molly Weasley walked up to him and hugged him tight. “You look starved as always, come, have some dinner, we still have some leftovers from earlier. Oh, you should’ve told me you still needed to eat, I would have cooked something extra for you.” Mrs Weasley started to busy around with pots and pans. Harry smiled. Now that he thought about it, he was hungry. When was the last time he’d had a decent meal anyway?

He looked to his left to see Ron look at him, who smiled and sighed, then let himself fall down in his chair. “That bad?” Harry said as Ron pinched the bridge of his nose, letting his head fall back.

“We’ve been here all night, going over the forms, trying to find some kind of pattern, at least,” Hermione answered. “But so far we’ve not been lucky. Most of the Order members have gone home, too, to get some rest, as it’s pretty much a dead end right now.”

Harry looked from Hermione to Shacklebolt and from him to Mister Weasley. “If it’s a dead end already, then why am I here, and what exactly is going on? Patterns? Patterns in what?”

“Here, Harry dear, sit down and eat this,” Molly Weasley said as she put mashed potatoes, boiled carrots and some chicken breast in front of him, all covered, of course, in gravy. Harry smiled and took a deep breath before sitting down and diving in. It was delicious.

“There have been disappearances from Azkaban recently,” Shacklebolt started, “strange disappearances. People have gone missing, their cells empty, and nobody seems to be searching for them. On top of that, The Prophet did not once mention anything about Azkaban slowly running dry.”

“On top of that the Minister denies any knowledge of the fact, even goes as far as to deny the fact itself.” Arthur Weasley pushed his finger angrily down on the table to emphasize his point.

“Afkafan’s wunnin’ dwy?” Harry swallowed his food. “Azkaban’s running dry? What you do mean, dry?”

“I mean,” Mister Weasley continued, “that there aren’t many prisoners left in there. It’s so bad that the whole upper floors are empty. We’re even thinking that the storms might have something to do with it.”

“The storms?” Harry asked and put down his fork.

“Haven’t you ever wondered if there could be something behind them?” Hermione said. “The strange lightning, random thunder, the mist, it is as if nature is fighting something.”

“Or someone,” Arthur pointed out. “We’re not yet sure what or who is causing it yet.”

“The fact remains that those storms we’ve been having aren’t normal, nor natural; something is getting in the way and nature isn’t liking it,” Shacklebolt added.

“And then of course you have those strange disappearances from Azkaban,” Hermione said. “It just doesn’t make sense.”

“What’s so strange about them, then?” Harry asked. “Just the fact that people have gone missing and nobody cares? Because if they’re all Death Eaters I’ll let you know now that I don’t care much eith- “

“They are strange because they do not exist,” Ron said, his voice soft. “The people that have gone missing, those cells that are now empty. They belong to somebody, but that somebody is nobody. Nobody is missing, Harry.”

“Wait, that’s impossible.”

“That’s what we thought,” said Hermione, “however, what Ron says is right. There’s not a single document holding their name, nothing. As far as we know they never even existed.”

“Then what do you need me for? Do you think Voldemort has returned? Because I haven’t felt a thing sin- “

“No, no, we don’t think it might be You-Know-Who,” Arthur answered him. “But you have been working for the Ministry for over a year now. In the Auror Department no less, and we were wondering if you maybe heard something that you didn’t think about twice until you got this information. It might be a dead end now, but so many things could change that, and if the Ministry refuses to take action, well, then we’ll have to.”

Harry looked around the table. First at Hermione, then at Ron, Arthur and Kingsley and finally at Molly, standing against the counter. “I’m sorry, I’ve heard nothing; so far we’ve only been doing standard cases. There’s the obvious tracing of the last free Death Eaters, but so far even we have got little to go by. The last bit of news we got is that the Malfoys have been sighted in France, but even that’s only hearsay.”

“So nothing out of the ordinary?” Shacklebolt asked. Harry shook his head and Arthur sighed, letting himself fall back in his chair. It creaked heavily and for a moment Harry was worried the old chair would snap in two.

“That’s it, then,” Ron said. “It’s a dead end, nothing we can do about it.”

“I’ll keep the tabs open for now, though,” Shacklebolt added. “There might be some clues we have been missing.”

Mister Weasley stood up with a heavy sigh and rubbed his hands on his trousers. “Well, for now this is all we can do.” He looked over at his wife. “Come on, dear, let’s go home. Children.” He nodded once in their direction. “Kingsley,” he said as he shook the man’s hand. “If there’s any news don’t hesitate to contact us, Bill is coming over next week, maybe he’ll have some ideas that could help us.”

November 7, 2000
Hestia Jones walked into the kitchen, dropping two heavy books and a pile of scrolls on the table. “This is all we have been able to find about the odd storms.” She opened one of the heavy books. “Here,” she said as she pointed out a certain paragraph to them. “From 1769 until 1784, there were sightings of the exact same weather circumstances. This book,” she opened the other one she had brought with her, “tells about the invention of the Time-Turners in 1765, four years prior to the storms.”

“This one is about what a Time-Turner does,” Hermione said as she unrolled one of the scrolls.

“So you think these storms could be linked to Time-Turners?” Ron said. “I thought we had destroyed them all.”

“Not so much Time-Turners per se, I think,” Hestia said. “But probably time travelling.”

“Listen to this,” Hermione said. “A Time-Turner will rip open a hole in the time and space continuum, allowing the traveller to stay still while it seems as if time travels back around them. The carrier of the Time-Turner will go untouched as they are transported from one era to the other. However, once stepped through, the hole created will never close, leaving a permanent scarring and possible disruption of Time around the area where it was used.”

“That sounds gruesome,” Ron said, scrunching up his nose.

“It is gruesome,” Hermione confirmed.

“Do you think Time will try and heal itself?” Ron asked.

“We’ve been thinking about the same thing, but we don’t know. There was not one scroll or book that had any further information about it.”

“Is there anything else you did find?” Bill asked as he sat down to join the others. He’d been pacing the kitchen for the past half hour or so, lost in thought.

“I have, actually.” Hestia opened a scroll, then closed it again and opened another. “Here it is. In 1783 the Ministry confiscated all Time-Turners, restricting the use of them to authorised personnel only.”

“1783? So let me get this straight,” Ron said. “In 1765 the Time-Turner is invented and people start using it willy-nilly, ripping holes in the time and space constontontu- “

“Continuum,” Hermione said patiently. “The time and space continuum.”

Ron turned his head to glare at her. “Ripping holes in Time. Then in 1769 the exact same storms that have been threatening us start, the Ministry stops people from using them in 1783, and in 1784 the storms stop, too?”

“Exactly,” Hestia said.

“Is there any chance it could be a coincidence? Like Ron said, the Ministry has no Time-Turners at hand; it is even unclear if they can be remade at all,” Arthur Weasley said.

“We don’t know,” Hestia said.

“What about those disappearances?” Harry had been waiting for Hestia or Hermione to mention them, hoping for some kind of clue about the missing John Does.

“We’ve found nothing,” said Hermione. “No book mentions them, I’ve even gone so far as to go back to the Restricted Section at Hogwarts, hoping I might find something there.”

“So there is a good chance the two are completely unrelated?” Arthur asked.

Hermione nodded, and Hestia closed the book still lying open in front of her.

“So, we’ve got nothing, then,” Harry said.

“We’ve found more information about the storms,” Hermione said. “If there is a relation between them and time travelling we- “

“We still don’t know anything,” Kinsley said. “Harry is right, even if the storms are being caused by time travel, there is no guarantee that it has anything to do with the missing prisoners. And even if the Ministry had found a way to recreate the Time-Turners, I hardly think that it is our concern.”

“Not unless the storms start killing random people, too,” Harry said tiredly.

oO0~0Oo


They were all equally tired when dinner was served. They had discussed possible scenarios for hours, but one seemed as unlikely as the other. There was no logical connection to be found between the storms and the possible time travelling and the disappearances, and it annoyed him quite a bit. When he had been younger the Order had seemed so shiny, bustling with energy, always at the ready to take action. Had it been like this back then, too? Sitting around, discussing possible options and scenarios about Voldemort?

Harry decided he wasn’t hungry, stuffed his mouth with a couple of big bites as to not be impolite to Mrs Weasley and excused himself. He needed a dreamless sleep potion and a good night’s sleep.

November 11, 2000
After the war, Percy Weasley had left the Minister’s side and decided that he would pursue his interest in the law. He had gotten into the program without too much trouble. ‘Probably because of a positive reference here and there,’ he thought proudly as he adjusted his tie and jacket while he made his way over to the Minister of Magic’s office. He had started at the bottom, but had worked his way up easily enough, proving once again that he would give what it would take. At the moment he was the head of the Department of Wizarding Law, and he was content.

The double doors were opened for him by two men he thought he had seen before in the Auror Department and he wondered what they were doing here, guarding the Minister’s door.

When he entered, he saw the Minister put down the cup he had been drinking from and made his way over to the desk the man was sitting behind. Percy gladly accepted the hand that was offered to him. “Minister Thicknesse, it is an honour and a privilege,” Percy said as he waited for the Minister to sit down, before sitting down himself. “What is it I can do for you?”

The Minister smiled and took another sip from his cup before putting it down again. It was coffee, Percy could see that now. He had always thought a morning drink could tell you a lot about a person, and the darker the coffee, the stronger the man. However, this coffee was more a caramel sort of colour, he noted sadly.

“The honour is all mine, young Mister Weasley. I have heard many stories about your successes within the Ministry.”

Percy raised his chin and grinned widely. “I do what I can, sir.”

“So it would seem.” The Minister gave him a sweet smile. “Anyway, I have something to ask of you.”

“Of course, Minister,” Percy answered, pride almost overwhelming him.

Pius raised the cup to his lips once again, but hesitated for a moment before taking another sip. He smacked his lips before slowly tracing them with his tongue. His eyes were fixed on his desk, lost in thought.

“Minister?” Percy asked.

“Ah, yes,” Pius said. “What I would like for you to do is to research the Death Laws.”

“Death Laws?” Percy answered. “I’m sorry to inform you, Minister, sir, but those have been abolished for some years. 581 to be exact.”

Another sip from the cup. “Oh, I know this. But I’d like you to research the possibility of bringing them back into use.”

“Back into use?” Percy eyed the Minister warily. “They were abolished for a reason, Minister, bringing them back would be almost unheard of.”

“Special times require special laws and circumstances, Mister Weasley.” He took another small sip from his cup. “The war might have ended, but the threat to the Ministry has not grown any less, if it’s not actually bigger in these dark times. You of all people should know the importance of protecting it.”

Percy fell silent. Minister Thicknesse was right, the Ministry was everything and it needed to be protected. Research wouldn’t do any harm, and the Minister was a responsible man, Percy was sure he could be trusted with a big responsibility like that. And he hadn’t asked just anybody, but had asked him, Percy Weasley, to help him out.

“I’ll have the results ready within a month.” Percy stood up, shook the Minister’s hand, thanked him again and walked away.

As the doors closed behind him Pius took another small sip from his cup, adjusted the position his feather was lying in and took a deep breath. Everything was going according to plan. Mister Weasley had been so easy to persuade it had almost been a joke. He threw his head back, drained his cup, stood up and decided to take a little walk down into the dungeons to see how the training of his Guard was progressing.

November 13, 2000
Tea was just being served when Harry walked into Grimmauld place once again. He hadn’t looked forward to another afternoon of only talking and discussing without getting anywhere, but he also didn’t feel like he could just walk away from it. Something strange was going on, so he wanted to help. Only, preferably, not like this.

“Any news?” he asked as he sat down and poured himself a cup. Winter had come early, or maybe the storms had caused that, he didn’t know. All he knew was that he was cold, and a cup of tea was very welcome.

“Some,” Mister Weasley said. “Which might or might not matter to our investigation.”

Harry noted Mister Weasley looked pale and very tired. The bags under his eyes were dark and his cheeks hollow.

“No need to look so worried, son,” Mister Weasley said and Harry looked up in surprise. “Bill and I have been up all night trying to find traces of magic in the storm. As it’s our only clue right now, we might as well go with it.”

“I’ve been telling him to go to bed.” Mrs Weasley patted her husband on the shoulder. “But he outright refuses.”

Harry took a large swig from his mug and started coughing immediately as the tea was still way too hot to drink. He looked up and saw Hermione raise her eyebrows at him rather unimpressed, before starting off.

“The Minister has ordered an investigation considering the Death Laws.”

“Death Laws?” Harry asked. He hadn’t heard of them before.

“Yes, Death Laws.” Harry’s head turned to where the voice had come from. Percy Weasley was sitting next to Kingsley, who in turn was sitting next to Hermione, facing Harry. He looked as tired as his father, maybe even more so, as he ran a shaking hand through his messy, red curls. “They were banned in 1419, when fair trial was put in the law as ‘A basic right of the Wizard’. Minister Thicknesse has asked for me to research the possibility of them being put back into use.”

“And this is possible?” Harry could see they had been talking about the topic for some time already, almost everybody in the room looked glum.

“It is very possible. It can even coexist with the Right to Fair Trial,” Percy continued. He grabbed the spoon between his thumb and finger and started fumbling with it, not meeting Harry’s eyes, but rather focussing on a spot on the wall behind him. “As long as a person can be seen as a direct enemy to the Ministry, anything is possible.”

“Can’t you refuse researching it, then? Or tell him it’s not possible?” Harry asked.

Percy shook his head and Arthur answered. “He could, but this way we have direct tabs into the Minister’s head, which could be crucial at this point in time.”

Harry blew into his mug and carefully tried sipping his tea again. “Okay, but could this Death Law be a direct threat?”

“We aren’t sure yet,” Kingsley answered him. “It could go both ways. We will have to wait and see, I’m afraid.”

October 1, 2001
Pius turned as he heard the double doors leading into his office open. He had been standing, facing his windows, looking out onto one of the meadows just outside of London. However, instead of the weather he had been expecting, the windows had shown him lightning, thunder and hail. It did not improve his mood. Not at all.

He watched his Head of Guard walk over to his desk and put down the scroll he had been issued to prepare. “Is it ready?” he asked stiffly.

“Of course, Minister.” Mustow acknowledged with a small nod. “All the names are on there, as requested.”

“Good,” Pius said and he let one gloved hand trace the paper scroll before unrolling it and skimming it quickly. “Very good.” He waved his wand and a big pot of coffee raised itself and poured one mug. “Coffee?” he asked in a dry tone, not bothering to look up from the scroll.

“No, thank you, Minister.”

With another flick of his wand he put the pot down and let the mug float into his outstretched hand. He took a sip and ran a finger over one of the names, then tapped it twice. “Did you manage to find any other information about his wife?”

Corvus looked down at the name. “Yes, Minister, she has been working in a Muggle flower shop down at Piccadilly Circus. If she was involved in anything suspicious or threatening, we have been unable to find it.”

“What about her family?”

“As far as we know they’re either half-blooded or less.”

Pius hummed approvingly and took a sip from his coffee, small as always, before smacking his lips.

“Very well, get the rest of the Guard in here.”

Corvus bowed his head slightly, turned and went to summon them.

oO0~0Oo


Pius watched as his Personal Guard formed a straight line front of him. “Gentlemen, welcome,” he said and walked away from behind his desk.

“As you might know I had Mister Weasley investigate the possibility of the return of the Death Laws last year. By now the investigation has been closed, invitations have been sent out to the right people to attend this event and the preparations have been completed. However, there will be a small change of plans.” Pius reached over his desk and picked up the scroll Corvus had brought in earlier, handing it to the first Guard in line. “I had you investigate certain... individuals who might or might not have made the list I am presenting to you now. These individuals,” he watched as the first member handed the scroll to the second, who skimmed it just like the Minister himself had done earlier, “might pose a danger to the Ministry and therefore need to be... eliminated.” He smiled.
“I do not expect things to go smoothly, though, and that’s why I’ll not only need you, but a group of trusted Aurors to help in the transport of the individuals to the Azkaban prison, where they will stay until their trial.”

He paused as he accepted back the scroll from the last Guard and put it back on his desk. “You’ll be presented a copy of the list and will single out these people before their names will be called. They’ll be taken into custody as quickly as possible to make sure things go as smoothly as possible.”

He looked at Corvus, who took over. “Resistance will not be tolerated. The Aurors are to stun anybody who tries. You are to escort the Minister to safety the moment there is any sign of a turmoil.”

October 4, 2001
Kingsley burst into the kitchen where Harry, Ron and Hermione were already sitting, joined by three Aurors. Arthur, closely followed by George, Charlie, Bill, Ginny and Percy, came in behind him. Hestia was next, as were Fleur and Hagrid and even Aberforth and Mrs Figg had come. It had never been so full in the tiny kitchen as it was at that particular moment.

“This is disastrous!” Kingsley said angrily as he rounded the table and slammed his hands on it. “We should have anticipated this, we should have seen it coming.”

“Now, now, Kingsley, there is no way we could have. The way Percy’s research went and based on the reaction from the Minister, all signs pointed in the opposite direction.” Arthur pulled back a chair and sat down heavily as Charlie stopped behind him and put his hands on his father’s shoulders.

“The thing that bothers me most is that I wasn’t informed.” Harry stood up angrily from his chair.

“We haven’t been informed either, Harry,” Caroline said. Caroline and he had been placed on the same Auror team together with Jessie and Hank when Harry had first started as an Auror. Caroline was his age, she had graduated from Hogwarts early and had flown through the Auror program. She often reminded him of Hermione. Then there was Jessie, who was 14 years older than him, and Hank, who was nearing his forties. Jessie and Hank had worked together before already, as partners, so the team worked out well.

Caroline might be younger than Jessie, but she was at least a head or two taller than her and as blonde as Jessie was dark. Hank’s chestnut coloured hair already started showing grey strands in it and he always looked like he was thinking about something very important. Like him Caroline had green eyes, however not as bright, and both Jessie’s and Hank’s were blue.

“Do we know who has been taken?” Hank asked. “If we are able to find all the names we might just find the pattern.”

“Before they disappear, too,” Hestia said.

“I’ll go back to the Ministry and have somebody put on that task,” Kingsley said. “For now it is best if we keep our heads down. Harry, it is of great importance that you go back to the Ministry and do your job. Same goes for Caroline, Jessie and Hank. Don’t let anybody know we oppose or are against anything that happened yesterday, nor that we are paying attention to what they’re doing. We need eyes within the Ministry, and having anybody else disappear would be bad. Very, very bad.”

“I’ll ask P’fessor Mcgonagall if she can keep an eye open for yeh,” said Hagrid. “Maybe she knows more ‘bout them disappearances. She’s the headmistress after all, she hears things.”

“Good thinking, Rubeus,” said Kingsley, “but don’t just ask Minerva, ask all the teachers at Hogwarts. Any notice of a disappearance should be noted down. Also, make sure to check if there are any students missing.”

“I’ll get right on it,” Hagrid said as he moved around the kitchen, careful not to knock anything over, obviously failing. Not that anybody cared, there were more pressing matters at hand.

“I’ll let yeh all know more when I know more.”

Kingsley nodded once to confirm he had heard Hagrid. “Rubeus will cover Hogwarts together with the other teachers. Arthur, if you could try and find out if anybody from your department has been missing, then I’ll do the same. We need to keep our eyes and ears open and if anybody feels like they are in danger themselves, get back here as soon as possible. Understood?”

“I will ask the goblins at Gringotts if they’ve had any disappearances, just in case it’s not only humans who are in danger,” Bill suggested.

“Don’t forget Diagon Alley,” George said. “If there are any rumours easy to catch it’s there. When will we check back here, Kings?”

“As soon as anybody hears anything, I’d say,” he said. “There is no use in discussing this when we have no news. Also, time is of the essence, we shouldn’t waste it.”

“You’re sure these arrests go hand in hand with the disappearances from Azkaban, then?” Hermione asked.

“Oh, I don’t doubt it,” Arthur answered her. “Okay, let’s get going then.”

October 30, 2001
The moment Harry apparated on the small field of grass the hailstones started hitting him. He pulled his jacket over his head and, wand in hand, ran as fast to the front door of number 12 as he could. He opened and closed the door quickly, so as not to let any of the hail inside.

“Why has the Floo been disconnected?” he asked as he stepped into the kitchen.

“Disruptions in the magic,” George sighed. “It’s been like that for days.”

Harry was about to answer when Kingsley started talking. “We think we have completed the list. The first part is of the people that have been arrested on October third, the second part is of the people that have gone missing this past month.”

“Is there a pattern?” Harry asked as he took off his scarf and coat and hung them on one of the free chairs.

Kingsley pushed the parchment his way and said nothing. Harry pulled it closer to him as he sat down and roughly raked a hand through his hair. He went over the first list, skipped to the second, went back to the first and so on. After a while he looked up at Kingsley and George in confusion. “They’re all pure-bloods,” he said in disbelief.

“Most of them are, yes,” Kingsley said. “The ones that aren’t either come really close or had strong connections with other pure-blood families.”

Harry looked from Kingsley to George and back again. “Wait, where’s Mister Weasley?”

Kingsley and Arthur had taken up the role of ‘Head’ of the Order after Dumbledore had died, and so they were always present when a meeting started.

“He got arrested this morning,” George said. “He sent me a Patronus telling me to get Ginny and Ron, and warn Bill, Charlie and Percy, so I did.”

“Molly is upstairs, she said she wasn’t ready to face another meeting right now,” Shacklebolt added.

“Since when are pure-bloods a direct threat to the Ministry?” Harry asked.

“They aren’t,” George answered. “But I think we have a pure-blood-hating Minister, one who’s now able to get his revenge legally.”

Harry looked at both of them in shock. “Then what are we waiting for?” he demanded. “We have to warn the others, anybody who is a pure-blood, we have to get them here! Neville, has anybody heard of him?”

He looked at Kingsley, who nodded towards the list once. Harry hesitated but looked down and scanned the lists again, this time more carefully. And there it was, indeed. One lonely little name.

Neville Longbottom

December 21, 2001
“Viktor Krum,” Pius read off his paper. “Not only a pure-blood, also moving in pure-blood circles. To add to that Mister Krum’s headmaster at the Durmstrang Institute was Igor Karkaroff, known as a former Death Eater. This proves that we can assume Mister Krum has come into close contact with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named’s followers, and might even be one himself. It is of great importance that this man is captured and brought in as soon as possible.”

“Do we know his whereabouts?” one of the Guards asked. His hair was white-blonde and short, his eyes cold. He had a scar going from his left eye crossing his entire face.

“He’s currently travelling with the Bulgarian National Quidditch Team, he shouldn’t be too hard to find,” Pius answered.

He grabbed his quill off the desk, dipped it in his jar of ink and put his curly, almost grotesque autograph under Viktor Krum’s Order of Arrest. He cast a drying spell, let the parchment roll itself back up and handed it to Corvus, who turned around and made his way out of the Minister’s office, closely followed by two other Guard members.

oO0~0Oo


Outside of the Ministry the three men shot upward and flew towards Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria and the city Krum had last been spotted in. With the speed they were travelling at, it didn’t take them too long to get to their destination, and they were able to enter the hotel the man was supposedly staying at before nightfall.

They spent no time on the warden, taking him out with a quick stunning spell, nor on the doorman who met with the same fate. The scarred man, named Dominique, shot a Bombarda Maxima at the hotel door, catapulting it inwards and crumbling a big part of the wall surrounding it. Corvus and the third man in the party walked past him and put up a protective shield so they wouldn’t be hit while they made their way over to the stairs.

It turned out it hadn’t been necessary. Most people standing in the lobby fled, some screaming, others silent and pale. Corvus smiled in satisfaction. He reached inside his robe and took out a hand of Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder. They climbed the big stairs, stopped on the first floor and cast a detection charm, leading them up another floor.

Halfway up the stairs a member of the Bulgarian Quidditch team shot down, probably to check out the tumult, closely followed by two other team members. When they saw the three Guards standing in front of them they pulled out their wands, but it was already too late. Corvus threw the hand of Darkness Powder on the ground, put his left foot forward and hit the younger man below his chin with the palm of his right hand, shattering his jaw. He heard his victim crash to the ground, sidestepped and avoided a curse shot at him, punched the second man in his stomach and kneed his head. Moving two steps forward he twirled around and was able to grab the third one by his hair. He kicked him in the hollow of his knee, making him topple over, head back, throat exposed. Corvus then pulled his knife from around his waist and put it against the man’s throat as Dominique spelled the Darkness Powder away.

The third man in their party, Janus, checked the two other men. “One down, one dead,” he said as he finished casting a spell on one of them.

“Leave them,” Corvus said and focussed his attention back on the man he was holding. He pulled his head back further and dug the knife deeper into his throat, making him squirm and tear up.

“Is Viktor Krum upstairs?” Corvus asked and when the younger man didn’t answer, he pressed the tip of the knife in his throat, making a trickle of blood run down his neck.

“Isn’t he pretty?” Dominique drawled. “Such a pretty neck on display... so many options... so many possibilit- “

“Not now, Dominique,” Corvus said. “Save it for the full moon.”

Dominique grinned, showing a row of ugly, yellow, pointy teeth. “You see what your friend’s friends have done to me, boy?” He licked his lips. “See what they’ve turned me into? With their filthy pure-blood games?” He gurgled and spat in the man’s face.

“Is Krum upstairs?” Corvus asked again, neither moved nor shocked by anything Dominique had done or said.

“Yes, yes he is,” he stammered. “Second door to your right. But please, please let me live pl-” His pleading was cut short as Corvus swiftly pulled his knife from left to right, slitting his throat. He fell to the ground with a soft thud when Corvus released his hair, twitched once and moved no more.

oO0~0Oo


Viktor walked out of the bathroom the moment his door was shot out of its hinges. He covered his face with his arm to prevent any flying parts and pieces of the wall from cutting him. When he lowered it he saw the biggest and darkest of the three men who were attacking reach inside its robe and get out what looked like Peruvian Instant Darkness Powder. He remembered it from the war, he had heard the Death Eaters had used it to surprise anybody they wanted to take... or worse. He summoned his wand from his bedside table and cast a protective charm around him, then shot a stunning spell their way the moment everything around him went dark.

He was slammed against the bedroom wall as one of the spells cast by the Guard hit his protective spell, sending a shockwave his way. He shook his head and jumped out of the way, dodging a stunning spell shot at the place he’d been lying mere moments ago. He got to his feet, cast another Protego and hit one that got too close with a strong Confundus. The man stumbled, Krum caught him, held him upright and used him as a shield when another stunning spell was shot his way.

He let go of the man, who was now stiff as a board. He dodged another spell, send a Tarantallegra into the darkness, missed and was hit in the neck with a hard blow. As everything went dark inside his head he saw the darkness around him lift and was just able to recognise the face of the man who had just captured him.

oO0~0Oo


He opened his eyes and groaned as he tried to sit up. His body was still sore from the blow he had received earlier. He rubbed his neck and looked around. He was in a tiny cell, he was dirty, he was cold and he was naked, the only thing still with him a tiny golden necklace hanging around his neck. He touched it, tracing his fingers slowly over the links.

His head turned when he heard a door open at the end of the hallway his cell was facing. There were two voices to be heard, both male, both whispering. He crouched and tried to listen in, but failed as the two stopped whispering when they reached his cell. One pulled his wand out of his pocket as the other inserted a key into the lock. “No funny business, boy,” one of them said. The door to his cell opened and a platter with what looked like a loaf of bread and a glass of water was pushed in and shoved his way. “Bon appetit,” the second one said sarcastically with a thick English accent as he closed the door, nudged the first man and chuckled as they walked away.

Where was he? Who were the men who had taken him, and why had he been taken in the first place? He hoped he would get some answers soon, but doubted it. He crawled towards the plate and grabbed the loaf of bread, realising exactly how hungry he was. He sniffed it first, sighed and accepted that whatever potion they could have put in there, he probably wouldn’t smell it, and took a bite.

Januari 12, 2002
He had been locked in the tiny cell for a week, living on bread and water, before he was moved again. The bread turned out to be drugged, but only with a sleeping draught, and he hadn’t cared much. Sleeping made time go faster and his suffering less, as they had refused to give him any clothing whatsoever.

The morning of his move they had roughly pulled him up from the ground, still half-asleep, and pushed a big needle into his neck. He had immediately lost consciousness and figured, when he’d woken up, that it had probably been the same thing they’d been putting in the bread, most likely to keep him from attempting an escape.

The first days after the move had been horrible. He’d realised he had been put in Azkaban the moment he had woken up on the cold floor, screaming, opening his eyes and directly looking into the face of a Dementor. This had continued for some days until he felt completely broken, bordering on insanity. He had crawled as far back into his cell as he could, falling down every now and then, face covered with tears. He had clung to the tiny golden necklace, still around his neck, like a lifeline every time one of them came near. It helped him escape the madness created from within, no escape from reality, nothing. There was no heat, barely any food and little water. They only gave them what they needed to stay alive, if that was what one could call this state.

He had lost track of days, but the longer he spent in Azkaban the less he was bothered by Dementors. New meat was brought in often enough for the Dementors not to go too hungry to resolve going back to him or others. As he was able to control the despair that had filled him over time he was able to catch whispers and rumours about a way to get out. Maybe it was nothing more than wishful thinking, but at the moment he would take what he could get.

The rumours spoke of controlling the creatures, controlling them not with wand or magic, but with the mind. They spoke about emotions, and how they could make a Dementor do what you wanted it to do, as long as you did it right, almost like a Patronus charm. However, were it to go wrong the creature would probably kiss you, angered, lured and hungry. Viktor would take it, he would take anything, as long as there was a chance that he could escape.

oO0~0Oo


He smiled a crooked smile as the door was ripped open and flung away. A Dementor floated in the doorway of his cell for a while, its breath rasping, the smell of death filling Viktor’s nostrils. He breathed slowly in an out, his gaze fixed intently on the creature in front of him so as to not lose his focus. With every breath he took he let despair flood into him, with every breath he let go he pushed it out again. The Dementor slowly made his way over to Viktor, angrily clawing at the wall, making bits and pieces of it fall off and crumble. Stretching out its long neck towards him, it let out an agonizing screech that made shivers run down his spine. He swallowed around the lump in his throat, waited until it was so close he nearly passed out from the smell, and let every feeling of hope, of life, of freedom and love fill his being. He closed his eyes, scared he had made a mistake, scared this was indeed the end, but when he opened them again he saw a Dementor, as angry as he had ever seen one, feverishly trying to reach him. However, it didn’t, as a small, what looked like a, forcefield was protecting him. It lashed out but got shot back as a result.

He waited until he heard two men, probably guards, come running towards his cell, charged forward with the last bit of strength he possessed and tackled one. They fell to the ground, Viktor on top, and struggled as the second man jumped on his back, trying to get him off his colleague. However, Viktor was tall, and even though he had been starved for a few weeks he was still strong and muscled. He felt adrenaline run through his veins as he tried to disarm the smaller man lying beneath him.

Elbowing the guard still clinging to his back in the stomach, he got rid of him. The man lost hold of his wand and crawled after it. Viktor pulled back his right arm and smashed his fist against the man’s nose as hard as he could, knocking him out. He grabbed hold of the wand, turned around, and was able to hex the second guard just as he cast a Patronus Charm to keep the Dementor away. The man’s Patronus, a fox, disappeared when Viktor hit him with a stunning hex, but was easily replaced with one of his own. As the Dementor fled, Viktor wasted no time and dragged the two men towards the cell he’d been locked away in.

He took the first man’s robes and spelled them to fit him, fixed the door, grabbed the extra wand and ran. He ran down two, three, four, five flights of stairs, feeling they’d never end, almost fearing it was a trap, and took a sprint when he saw the big front doors appear. He shot a spell at it and it opened slowly while he made his way towards it. He was barely able to squeeze through, took a leap and jumped off the cliff.

January 13, 2002
“Gone?” The Minister choked out as the head of the Azkaban prison stood before him. “Just... gone?” He blinked rapidly a couple of times and forced a smile on his face, anger slowly filling him. “And how exactly did Mister Krum disappear if I may ask?”

The man standing before him was grey, balding on the back of his head, had sagging cheeks and looked incredibly nervous. ‘Good’, thought Pius, ‘it serves him right’.

“We...” the man began saying, “we had O’Brian and Murrel on guard; the prisoner must have found a way to overpower them.” He swallowed audibly, tiny drops of sweat forming on his forehead. “We found them later that evening in the prisoner’s cell, both knocked out. Murrel’s nose was badly broken.”

“So a starved prisoner, locked away on the top floor of the best guarded prison in the Wizarding world, escapes Dementors and guards, wandless?!” the Minister said. “That seems highly unlikely, don’t you think, Silvester?” He didn’t wait for the old man to answer him and continued. “It would almost seem as if you had let Mister Krum out on purpose.” The old man started shaking his head. “Oh, but I think you did. Mister Mustow, if you’d be so kind?”

The double doors opened and the grey-haired man was hexed before he was able to turn around and face his attacker.

“Mister Hawksword is, as of today, an official enemy of the House and shall be treated as such,” Pius instructed Corvus. “I also want you to start an official investigation about the whereabouts of Mister Krum, and keep it silent.” He turned his back to the head of his Guard, showing him it was time for him to leave and walked over to his windows. He breathed heavily for a couple of minutes, trying to get rid of the anger.

He heard the double doors close behind him and nodded to nobody in particular. His shoulders were stiff, his body rigid and if he’d been a dragon, he thought to himself, the whole Ministry would already be going up in flames.

But they would find Viktor Krum, oh they would, and when they did, he would crush him.

April 8, 2002
He added another glamour. It was unnecessary, but it settled his nerves a bit. He would go into the Ministry, find Harry Potter, and try and convince him he had done nothing wrong. It was his only hope, for now, the only person he knew how to reach who knew him and would, hopefully, be willing to help.

Viktor had been breaking into empty houses, hiding out, stealing small bits of food and clothing. It had not been pleasant, but he had survived, always making sure to get rid of most traces of magic after he left a place. He had worked out a plan in the meantime, studied the patterns of Harry’s working hours and decided to go in. He looked at his hands, which were shaking, and willed them to stop. Nerves could not get in the way of his plan. He had to reach Harry Potter.

oO0~0Oo


He entered the Ministry and forced himself to put his wand away. It would make him too noticeable, stiff and nervous as he was already. He walked towards the fountain, stood beneath the shadow of the centaur’s body and waited.

An hour had passed and he hadn’t spotted a sign of the man he was looking for yet. He started wondering if he could have missed him, however unlikely that would be, he had been there an hour prior to Harry’s estimated arrival. He nervously shifted from one foot to the other as one of the Aurors noticed him and made his way over to him.

“Anything I can help you with?” the Auror asked him.

He hadn’t expected to be approached as he hadn’t expected to have to wait so long. “Yes, maybe, yes,” he started. “I was looking for Mister... Auror Potter for an.. for an interview.” He felt a trickle of sweat run down his spine and prayed to whoever was listening that his glamours would hold.

“And does Mister...?

“Mister Babikov,” Krum answered, telling him the first name that came to mind, that of his mother.

“And does Mister Babikov have an appointment for said interview?” The Auror raised his eyebrows at him.

When Krum didn’t answer, the Auror continued. “All interview requests have to be submitted to Head Auror Mustow. Good day, Mister Babikov.” He nodded his head once and left Krum alone, shaking.

He looked past the fountain to the registration desk and wondered if perhaps, in case Harry was inside, he could fake an appointment? It was worth a try. After all, if the appointment were to be checked, he could always say it was a mistake on their part.

He took a deep breath, looked over his shoulder to see if he could still spot the Auror who had approached him, decided he was probably long gone by now and approached the man behind the desk. Said man looked up at him and, in a bored tone, said: “Purpose, name and wand, please.” Viktor hadn’t been daft. He had disarmed a random man in the middle of the night and taken his wand, so as to not be recognised when entering the Ministry.

The man accepted Viktor’s wand and scanned it. “Elmswood, 9,5 inches, unicorn hair?” The man looked up and, like the Auror had before him, cocked an eyebrow at Viktor, awaiting a response. Viktor nodded.

“Yes, that’s correct.” He had no idea if it was correct, as the wand was stolen and he had had no desire to go to a Wandmaker and risk being found out as a thief. However it seemed unlikely the man would be trying to trick him.

“Name and purpose please,” the man repeated equally bored as before.

“Mister Babikov, I have an interview with Mister Potter at four.” His heart was pounding in his throat, his hands felt sticky and he was pretty sure his glamours were vibrating with anticipation and nerves.

The man scanned a list with his feather. “Well, Mister Babikov, you’re not on here. What did you say you were writing for again?”

Viktor swallowed. “I vrite for the Prophet. Started today.”

The man scanned the list again and shook his head. “Well m’boy, you’re not on here, but tell you what. I’ll go and ask Head Auror Mustow, there might’ve been a mistake.”

Viktor forced a smile on his face. “Thank you.”

The man handed Viktor his wand, turned around and walked away to check with the Head Auror. Once he did that, Viktor would be in trouble, so he decided to take his chances and slip in while he had a chance, as it might very well be his only one.

He looked around nervously and walked past the counter. He took a left turn, not really knowing where he was going, and entered one of the lifts. He pressed all the buttons and waited for the doors to close. When a kind voice welcomed him to ‘Level two, Auror Headquarters’, he got out. He walked through a doorway emitting some kind of strange mist. He looked back and wondered what it was for, or if it was simply a malfunction. He followed the voices leading to small cubicles when an Auror came out of one, holding a stack of papers, and turned to him. He mumbled a quick ‘afternoon’ and was about to continue his search when he heard the sound of something heavy falling on the ground and toppling over, a swish of clothing and a surprised gasp. He turned around to face a very surprised looking red-headed woman, aiming her wand at him.

He took a couple of steps back in surprise and got out his own, not aiming it at her but keeping it in his hand just in case.

“It would be better if you cooperated,” she said stiffly. He noted that she looked just as surprised as he felt and looked to his left to see a reflection of himself in one of the enchanted windows. His glamour was gone.

He cursed under his breath and looked over his shoulder to see two other Aurors approach. Making a quick decision, he turned to look back at her. Staying here wouldn’t do him any good. He’d get arrested and put in prison again. Running deeper into the Ministry would most definitely get him stuck. That only left one option. He mentally apologised and charged forward, bending down and lifting her up easily with one move over his shoulder. He dropped her on the ground, dodged a curse and made a run for it.

He ran back through the misty arch and jumped into one of the lifts that was about to close, catching the Auror standing in it by surprise. He forced the man back against the wall and kneed him in the stomach. When the man doubled over, Krum pushed him to the ground and held him there. Once again, he was bigger and more muscled than the other, and he thanked his coach for the heavy training.

The lift went down, but before it had reached its destination the Auror lying under his knee stopped struggling. Viktor jumped back, afraid he had killed the man and checked his pulse with a shaking hand. Alive. He watched as the light behind the number nine on the lift’s display lit up, and straightened when the kind voice spoke: “Level nine, Department of Mysteries”.

He walked out of the lift into a plain corridor, leading to a black door. He carefully stepped inside the corridor, expecting somebody to jump out at him at any moment. He turned and looked back at the lift and the unconscious Auror, then up at the ceiling as if he could see the tumult happening above. He figured the Aurors would probably think he had gone up, so he’d have a couple of minutes head start.

Deciding it wouldn’t do him any good to stay here and watch the ceiling, he moved towards the black door at the end. It opened with a simple Alohomora and he stepped through it into a circular room with a highly polished floor that almost looked like he was standing on water. The walls were covered with twelve handleless doors which started spinning the moment the door behind him closed. He stumbled into the middle of the room, slightly panicking. He had taken a wand from somebody working for the Ministry, he had broken into the Auror Department, tackled one Auror and knocked another one out. He was in more trouble than he wanted to admit.

The doors stopped and he looked around. He walked up to a random one and wondered how to open it. He cast another Alohomora, but the door stayed closed. He tried opening it by sheer force, kicking it, pulling the edges and pushing it with his shoulder. Then he tried another door, and another. None opened. He kicked the door in front of him in anger and cursed. He was stuck. He was stuck and they’d get him and put him back in that hellhole. He fell to his knees, feeling tired and weak now that the adrenaline was wearing off and breathed heavily. This was it, the end, it was over. He started tearing up.

“Please, please let me out,” he choked out.

He looked up when he heard a single door click in front of him. He straightened slowly and carefully walked towards it, afraid that it might close again if he approached it too fast. The door was standing slightly ajar, and he carefully opened it further with his foot, peering into the dark corridor it opened up to. He whirled back around when he heard multiple hurried footsteps approaching the room he was in, although he wasn’t sure from which direction they were coming. He swallowed once and stepped into the corridor, taking his chances.

The light of the torches followed him as he ran through it, lighting up when he approached and extinguishing after he had passed. He turned a sharp corner and stopped when he came to face a dark wooden double door. Noticing the two men guarding it, he gripped his wand tighter and moved towards them slowly.

The first man didn’t see the stunning spell coming. The second turned to see who was attacking them and was hit by another. Krum checked their pulses, just to be sure, and opened one of the doors.

As it fell shut behind him, a set of six torches lit up a corridor. It looked like the entrance to some kind of... dungeon. The walls arched up towards the ceiling, three torches on either side. He noticed his breath was coming out as a white mist and shivered. It was cold. He continued to run and tried to open every single door he saw, but they were all locked. Breathing heavily, he decided it was probably better to save at least some of his energy in case he ran into somebody else. So he kept on moving, but at a less frantic pace.

The multiple corridors, closed doors and twists and turns were slowly driving him insane. He turned a corner and stopped, looking behind him first and then ahead. Had he already been here? He twirled around slowly, took a couple of steps, stopped again and turned back. He could hear voices in the distance, but, once again, he had no idea where they were coming from. He looked around one more time and started walking again, determined to get out somehow.

He sighed when he turned another corner. Another corridor. He threw his arms up in frustration, kicked the wall and was just about to scream at the unfairness of it all when he heard a loud aggravating noise. It made him cover his ears and screw his eyes shut in pain. It sounded like something heavy, something metal, was scraping against stone, as if it was trying to cut it. Wincing, he followed the noise to where he believed it to be coming from. As he turned the last corner, he saw the robes of a man disappear behind a door so high it seemed like it was endless. He walked up to it and tried to stop it from closing, but as he did, the etched patterns were slowly disappearing again, turning the door back into the same cold grey stone he had been looking at for the past hour or so.

He traced his hand slowly over the wall, wondering what exactly he had just witnessed. His hand stopped when it hit a little indentation almost in the middle. He cocked his head and scowled. This was no ordinary indentation. It was surrounded by traces of magic. He looked up at the stone wall and back at the ground, put his wand away and started feeling the stone, its edges, where it hit the floor and as far up as he could reach. He gasped and took a step back, staring at it in awe. This wall, or door, or whatever it was... there were not just traces of magic on it, it was magic.

He jumped when he heard a single pair of footsteps coming his way and fumbled for the wand he had just put away. He grabbed it and raised it, expecting another Auror. However, the man he saw appear around the corner was not somebody he would have expected to see in a place like this, at all.

The man was old, very old, almost as old as he remembered Albus Dumbledore had looked. He had a long white beard and hazel eyes, matching the colour of his robes. The man stopped when he saw Viktor standing in the empty corridor, wand raised and pointed at him, and smiled.

“Right on time,” Gaspar said as he pulled a chain around his neck and inserted what looked like a pebble into the indentation Viktor had been previously exploring. “I hope you didn’t have to go through too much trouble to get here?” His eyes twinkled as he looked at the confused man now next to him.

Viktor slowly lowered his wand. “You know me?”

“Of course not,” Gaspar answered. “But I surely know of you.”

Viktor opened his mouth to ask this strange man another question, but forgot about it the moment he saw what was happening to the wall. His mouth opened in awe instead as he followed the patterns appearing and reached out to touch them. When the door had taken shape it opened with the same agonising sound he had heard before. Gaspar walked in first, Viktor followed. He took one last look back over his shoulder and his eyes grew wide as he saw, just before the door closed itself behind him, a group of Aurors storming around the corner.

Gaspar put the chain back around his neck, pebble once again hidden beneath thick layers of clothing. The old man smiled when he saw the younger man staring at the column of light in front of them, mouth still gaping. He turned and walked to one of the shelves filled with vials, spheres and Time-Turners. Gaspar reached into his pocket and took out one tiny, golden key, which he inserted in the lock of a wooden box standing on one of the shelves. The box opened with a soft click when the key was inserted and Maximus took out one of the two Time-Turners inside. He then took out his wand, put it in the box and closed it, put the key back into his pocket and patted it twice when he felt it fall against his leg. He turned back towards Viktor.

“What are you waiting for, my dear boy? Off you go now, and don’t forget this.” He took Viktor’s free hand, turned it so his palm was facing upwards, and carefully laid the Time-Turner in his hand.

“Off I go, vhere?” Krum asked, still somewhat in a daze.

“Whenever you will be needed,” Gaspar answered and put his hand on Viktor’s back. “Good luck,” he said, tone now serious, before he gave the man one steady push. Viktor tripped, not expecting the shove, which made him fall head first, Time-Turner in hand, into the Timeloop.

oO0~0Oo


Gaspar took one last solemn look at the column, bid his old friend goodbye and turned, opening the door and walking back out. The moment he did he was greeted by at least eight wands aimed at him. He raised his hands in defense. “I don’t think that will be necessary, gentlemen. The young man you are probably looking for is long gone.”

Corvus Mustow stepped forward, no wand in hand. “And where to, exactly?” he asked, not trusting the Unspeakable.

“I would not lie if I were to tell you that I do not know.”

Corvus raised his chin. “Janus, Dominique, take Unspeakable Gaspar away for interrogation. I will join you shortly.”

The two men walked forward and reached for the Unspeakable, who took a step back. “I can assure you both that force will not be necessary. As you can see, I have no wand.” He turned to Corvus. “And could you bring some tea with you, later. I could really use a good, strong cup.”

oO0~0Oo


“How did Mister Krum open the door?” Corvus asked as he sat, facing Gaspar.

“He didn’t. I did,” Gaspar answered as he sipped his tea. He had refused to speak and in the end had forced the Head Auror to send somebody to get him his tea.

“And why, exactly, did you help a fugitive run from the law?”

“I had no choice.” Gaspar put his cup down and looked at Corvus, his eyes twinkling once again.

“No choice...” Corvus repeated.

“No choice,” Gaspar said.

Corvus stood up and paced back and forth a couple of times. They were sitting in a small, dark square room without any windows. There were two simple, wooden chairs in the middle, facing each other. The room was magic proof, meaning no magic and no wands were allowed in, or out.

“And you’re trying to tell me,” Corvus turned back to the Unspeakable, “that you had no way to stop Mister Krum from entering the Timeloop?” He raised his eyebrows as Gaspar smiled at him.

“None at all.”

“Do you think this is funny?!” Corvus said angrily. “I’ll let you know that Mister Krum is an official enemy of the Ministry, suspected of Death Eater practices and therefore a direct threat to the Wizarding world.”

“I hardly think it is funny, Corvus.” Gaspar sipped the last of his tea and stood up, putting the cup on the chair he had been sitting on. “But let me tell you something,” he said as he slowly walked to where the Auror was standing. “I have been working with that Timeloop and for the Ministry since you were in nappies. I have seen more than you will ever see, my dear boy.” Once again he smiled. “I had no say in the matter of Mister Krum entering the Loop, nor did I have any control over him taking one of my Time-Turners. That control, I’m afraid, was not in my hands.” He turned and opened the door with one wave of his hand, left the room and went back to his office.

Corvus was fuming. Not only had he nothing, he had no way of making the Unspeakable talk, and as the man had obviously said what he wanted to say, he needed to think of something else, and fast.

He called for Dominique, who entered the room. “Note down the fugitive has disarmed and Imperiused Unspeakable Gaspar.” He fell silent, needing to think. “And write a letter to the Minister for an emergency meeting. Start an official investigation on how Mister Krum was able to enter the Ministry. I want to know what he was doing in the Auror Department and who he was looking for. Also search for any people who might have been involved, he probably wasn’t operating alone.”

April 19, 2002
There was a soft knock on his door as Corvus opened Viktor Krum’s file. “Come in,” he said in a stiff voice. Auror Swansea opened the door and walked in, a small box containing the necklace and an official document in hand. He put both on top of the Head Auror’s desk without speaking. Corvus looked up, raised an eyebrow and scanned the document. A crooked grin appeared on his face. He put the document down and looked back up at Swansea. “Bring her in,” he said. Swansea nodded, bowed and walked away.

oO0~0Oo


Dominique joined him as he turned a corner, on his way for another interrogation. “Any news?” Corvus asked his fellow Guard.

“There is,” Dominique said. “We found two years in which our suspect could’ve given Mister Krum the necklace.” Corvus stopped walking and so Dominique did, too.

“And those years are?” Corvus asked.

“Miss Granger her fourth year at Hogwarts, school for Witchcraft and Wizardry. Starting in the autumn of 1994 and ending in the spring of 1995.”

“Get a team put together,” Corvus called over his shoulder as he marched towards the interrogation chamber. “I’ll tell the Minister the good news myself.”

oO0~0Oo


Hermione looked from one man to the other. She recognised the taller of the two, Head Auror Corvus Mustow, Russian.

“Welcome, Miss Granger,” the shorter man said. My name is Auror Wigan, but you may call me Janus. This here is Auror Mustow.” Mustow grunted. “We’re here to ask you a couple of questions.”

Hermione nodded. The Order had gone over the list time and again, most of the people on it were pure-bloods, others had respectable contact with pure-blood families. She swallowed, trying to get rid of the lump in her throat. Would she follow Arthur Weasley’s fate today? She smiled a nervous smile at the two men. “Of course,” she said. She guessed that staying polite and working with them instead of against them would be her best bet for now.

“We have come into the possession of a certain piece of jewellery,” Janus said as he retrieved a small glass box from under the table and put it on it, opening the lid. “We were wondering if you recognised it.”

She looked from the necklace to the Auror, up to Corvus and back at the necklace again. She did recognise it, it used to be hers, given to Viktor when they had said goodbye after the Triwizard Tournament. She nodded. “Yes, I do. This used to be mine.”

“Used to be?” Janus asked. “Are you saying you lost possession of it?”

She looked the man in his eyes. Viktor Krum had been put on the list after his disappearance and the murder of two of his teammates had caused an uproar in a hotel in Sofia. They had found Krum and if they’d found the necklace, they knew he had been carrying it. What were they suggesting?

“I gave it away. To Viktor Krum,” she said. “We befriended each other during the TriWizard Tournament. I gave it to him so he would remember me.” She looked to the left at the bigger Auror. He hadn’t said a word since she had entered yet.

“You gave this necklace away willingly?”

Of course she had, Viktor was not a criminal. Was that what they wanted? Proof that Viktor had done something wrong?

“You see, Miss Granger,” Janus continued, “this necklace was found in one of the Ministry lifts, after Mister Krum broke into the Auror Department and made an attempt to flee. We were able to trace the necklace back to you and were hoping you would be able to give us some answers.”

Broken into the Ministry? So he had escaped from Azkaban? “Of course,” she said. “Whatever I can help you with.” She forced another smile on her face.

The man sitting in front of her seemed to be struggling to find his words. “Mister Krum was able to get his hands one one of our Time-Turners and disappear.”

“Oh?”

“We are of the opinion, based on the discovery of your necklace, Miss Granger,” Corvus said, making Hermione look up at him rather surprised as she had assumed the man had merely been there for backup, or protection, “that Mister Krum has gone back in time to contact your past self. Would you have any idea why he’d want to do so?”

oO0~0Oo


The interrogation had gone on for hours. Hermione was exhausted, her back hurt from sitting on the hard wooden chair and she was cold. She was ready to go home.

“I’ve told you already, I don’t know!” she said one more time, almost desperate. “I don’t know when he would contact me, or how, I don’t know why or what he’d ask of me. I’ve told you this. I don’t know!”

Book III
September 3, 1994
The rain immediately hit him the moment his body hit the cold rock he was now lying on, face down. He scrambled up on his knees and looked up, wondering where he had fallen from and if anybody had seen him. He checked his surroundings. It looked like he was in some kind of forest on the side of a mountain. He took out his wand and realised he was still holding the Time-Turner the older man had given him in his other hand. He must have travelled through time, somehow, then, he figured. He put the chain around his neck and the Time-Turner safely beneath his shirt. He cast a protective charm against the rain and when he had done so, spelled himself and his clothes dry, immediately feeling a little bit better. Now he just had to figure out what year he was in, where exactly he was... and why. He decided that none of those questions would be answered if he stayed where he was sitting now, so he stood up and started walking. The first thing he decided to do was find shelter. Proper shelter. He had no idea if he was being followed already and if so, if he was in any danger.

The walk was long and, as the sun slowly disappeared behind the mountain he was nearing, it was getting colder. He had decided he’d only use magic if absolutely necessary to prevent detection. When he reached a big boulder in front of him, he stopped. He could either stay on the ground, where he was now, and risk being found easily, or he could start climbing, be a little bit colder, but also a lot safer.

He looked back at where he had come from, then up at the mountain before him. It was going to be a long climb.

September 4, 1994
His eyes shot open as realisation hit him. In his dreams he had gone back to the Ministry and was once again struggling with the Auror in the lift, and he had known, right then, where he had lost his necklace. He sighed as he realised he was still lying on the hard floor of the tiny cave he had decided to hide in the night before and got up slowly. His knees hurt, he was cold and he was hungry. Deciding it was now necessary to keep him going, he cast a warming charm over himself and sighed happily as his whole body started to tingle. He let himself slowly slide back to the ground against the now warm-feeling wall of his hideout and let himself enjoy the relaxing feeling for a while.

His eyes opened slowly as he felt his stomach growl at him. He wondered what he should do to get his hands on food, as there seemed to be nobody around. Since he didn’t know what country he was in, he had no idea if the berries he would probably find on bushes and in trees would be edible at all. Maybe he should get some of them just in case he felt the need to end it all. No, he decided. He was not going to give up. What had the old man told him again? He would go when he was needed, when he needed to be? That sounded vague. Who needed him here? Or did he need to be here for himself? He rubbed his face with his hands angrily. He had so many questions, but no answers, he was stuck on some kind of mountain in a cold cave in an unknown country, no less, with no idea of where to get food, or how to get food.

He stood up and walked to the entrance of his little hiding place. His jacket started flapping angrily in the wind and he had to protect his eyes from the leaves and dust. He bent down and picked up a single golden leaf. It was, in all probability, autumn. That was at least good to know. Or not, he thought, because after autumn came winter, and even though he had lived through some very cold ones, he was not looking forward to spending one in a cave.

Even though the warming charm was still in place he closed his jacket just in case he would run into another person. It was probably best not to look any more suspicious than he already did, might he bump into somebody. He couldn’t risk scaring somebody off now, he needed all the help he could get.

He looked around. There was a slope to his right that wasn’t too steep and looked climbable, going back into some of the higher parts of the forest. If he couldn’t eat berries he would have to resort to eating meat, and for that, he needed to hunt.

oO0~0Oo


The moment the green light hit the animal it stopped moving and fell to the ground, eyes open so wide it looked like it had died of fear. And maybe it had, Viktor wouldn’t know. Maybe the Killing Curse really was frightening. He carefully picked up the rabbit. “Sorry,” he said softly. The tiny animal felt soft in his hands. He had hated to do it, but had seen no other way as he had no idea how to set traps. He had thought about stunning, but then he would have had to kill it with his hands, something he wouldn’t be able to do either.

oO0~0Oo


Viktor sighed contently after he’d swallowed the last bit of his rabbit. When he had gone back to his hideout the first thing he had done was make a fire out of the firewood he had collected prior to his hunt. It had taken him some time to figure out how to get the skin of the rabbit to separate from its body, and he’d been gagging and retching along the way. But he had managed, and he’d successfully managed to disembowel the animal - more retching - and roast the meat. It was a bit burnt, but he didn’t care; his stomach was full, he had a fire and he was still warm. He cast a cushioning charm on the ground, figuring that if they would find him it would be because of the Killing Curse he had fired earlier, not because of a cushioning charm. He took off his jacket, rested his head on top of it and fell asleep almost immediately.

September 7, 2002
Viktor had gotten used to and into the rhythm of waking up, hunting, eating, walking and finding a new hideout. His primary meal had thus far been rabbits, but he had also found some berries he had recognised that hadn’t killed him yet, and because of that were regarded as safe. He had plucked as many as he could carry and stuffed his pockets. They were for emergencies, though, as he wasn’t sure yet he’d be able to find food every day, or even some form of society, soon.

He angrily pushed a branch out of the way that had cut his cheek. He hadn’t been paying enough attention as he had been walking, on the outlook for people or another form of life, and had walked right into it in the process. Hearing streaming water not too far away, he thought it a good idea to clean the cut. As he was washing his face in the cold water he realised he hadn’t taken a bath once since he had fallen through... what was that thing he had fallen through anyway? Some sort of gigantic Time-Turner? He touched the one still hanging around his neck before he looked at the stream in front of him and followed it downriver.

After a steady twenty minute or so walk he reached a lake. Not waiting for anything he threw off his jacket, shirt, shoes, socks and trousers and jumped in, figuring he would simply spell his underwear dry later. Even though he was still protected by a now almost permanent warming charm, the water still felt cold. Not that he cared much. He washed, splashed and dived down, trying to swim as far without having to go back up as he could. When he did, he shook his head and pushed his hair out of his face with a smile. It wasn’t all that bad, being stuck here. Here, he was at least free.

Not only was the water clear and refreshing, the view was also amazing. To his left the forest stretched as far as he could see, to his right there were mountains and in front of him was a castle, grand and beautiful in its... a castle! There was a castle, right in front of him, on the other side of the lake! He had been so absorbed in his thoughts that he had completely forgotten he was looking for people. He hurried back to the shore, dried and dressed himself and practically ran around the lake.

oO0~0Oo


The moment he felt the electrical shock go through his body he knew it wasn’t just any castle. He got up, cursing at the dirt and tear on his jeans. Once more he walked up to the huge gate he had tried to open so eagerly earlier. He carefully let his hand hover near it, not quite touching it. The spells immediately started buzzing and he gasped. This was no ordinary castle, he recognised these spells.

This was Hogwarts.

oO0~0Oo


Viktor tried to think of what to do as he paced the room he had rented at one of the inns in Hogsmeade. After the shocking realisation of being close to Hogwarts, he had put glamour charms on himself, just in case, and walked to Hogsmeade where he had used the Floo to get to Diagon Alley. After finding out the date and year, he had walked into Gringotts, dropped the glamours and had taken some of his money. Ten galleons. Not enough for his younger self from this time to notice, but enough to use, for now.

He stopped walking and let himself fall back on the old bed. It creaked and he wondered just how old it was. Rubbing his face with his hands he tried to think. It was 1994, the year he had come to Hogwarts, the year of the Triwizard Tournament. He thought again of what the Unspeakable had told him.

Whenever you will be needed, he had said. But what did ‘needed’ mean? Was he needed to solve something here, or was he here because he needed to be... to be what?

He wondered what to do next. September 1994. There wasn’t much he could do. When he had first seen the date his thought immediately had gone to the outcome of the Tournament, but the more he thought about it the more he was convinced he was not here to either save Diggory, or have himself win, if that was even possible. It was public knowledge what had happened when Harry had touched the cup that evening, he wasn’t going to have himself go through that. If there’d be a ‘him’ left, after. He shook his head - he didn’t want to think about it anymore, it wasn’t why he was here.

Then why? The only person he could think of was Hermione and he wondered if he should contact her. And then he wondered how. Without the necklace she had given him there was no convincing her he was who he said he was. His younger self would even hex him if he were to pop up out of nowhere. No, contacting either of them, him, her... them, wasn’t an option.

He sighed and decided that tonight would not be the night to make any rash decisions. He would wait for the morning, have his first real breakfast in what felt like months, and would try to think of a plan.

September 10, 1994
It had been several days since he had discovered Hogwarts and had decided on making the inn he was staying in his permanent hideout. At least for now. There was, apparently, a reason he had landed in 1994, and so there must also be a reason he had landed so close to Hogwarts. So he would stay here and pay attention.

He waved his wand once to cancel the glamours he had put up for breakfast. They were hard to keep in place and so very tiring. He grabbed the notebook he had purchased and went over his notes. It was 1994, he was going to participate in the Triwizard Tournament. He would lose. You-Know-Who would return, Cedric Diggory would die, Karkaroff would disappear, Dementors would suck the soul out of that escaped Death Eater pretending to be a teacher, he had been sent here by an old man he didn’t know anything about and apparently he was ‘needed’.

He read them again, and again, and again, but nothing sprang to mind. For a moment he had thought of You-Know-Who, but decided against that fast enough. He was in no way strong enough to face such a powerful wizard.

He closed the notebook and decided it was time to go out to Diagon Alley and get himself a newspaper. Maybe that would get him somewhere.

September 20, 1994
Viktor walked up the flight of stairs, strode through the corridor leading towards his room and angrily slammed his door open. It bounced back against the edge of the somewhat empty wardrobe. Viktor took his wand from his pocket, cast a fire, grabbed his notebook from his nightstand and fell to his knees in front of the fireplace. He opened the notebook and starting ripping out the pages. One by one they were thrown into the flames. When there was nothing left of the notes he had so carefully taken he flung the leather cover after them. He bent double, nose nearly touching the ground, arms around his waist, and cried. He was alone, stuck in the past, wanted for crimes he had not committed in the future. And he had nothing. Not a clue of why he was where he was, what he had to do. The only thing he could do was wait it out, but he was tired of waiting. He was tired of hiding, fleeing when he thought he saw somebody that might know him, staying away from places he’d gotten so familiar with in a country that wasn’t even his own. He wanted to go back to his team, to his mates, to his coach who would yell at him ‘FASTER, BETTER, MORE!’. He missed having a home and being surrounded by family. He missed his own time.

Why had this happened in the first place? Why was he here, and more importantly, what should he do with that stupid Time-Turner? He had tried making it spin forward, but it hadn’t worked. So his only option was to go even further back in time, which he really didn’t want to do.

He sniffled and wiped his nose on the sleeve of the shirt he was wearing. He felt like a ten-year-old boy again, lost and alone, with nobody to protect him. The fire crackled and spat a small piece of the burnt paper back out. Viktor picked it up and saw it wither and turn to ash in his hand. He sighed. All those notes, all for nothing. The cold wind was blowing through his open window, so he stood up, arched his back and closed it with a soft thud. He raked a frustrated hand through his hair, which had grown longer. He hadn’t bothered to get it cut or to cut it himself, and looking at himself in the mirror he decided he liked the new look. He ruffled his hair up a bit more and a watery smile appeared on his face. The door to the bathroom creaked loudly as he opened it. He turned on the tap and splashed some water in his face. The image staring back at him in the dimly lit bathroom mirror grimaced as he saw the golden chain disappearing beneath his shirt. It rattled softly as he retrieved and turned it in his hands once more, observing it, staring at it as if it would open a tiny little mouth and let out all its dark secrets.

However, nothing of the sort happened and he put the thing away again.

oO0~0Oo


It wasn’t the best dinner he had ever eaten, but it was warm and filled him up, so he wasn’t complaining. Viktor put the last forkful of mashed potatoes in his mouth as three apparently very scared men came stumbling into the inn. They gathered in front of one of the dirty windows and looked outside, mumbling softly to each other. Viktor, curious, wiped his mouth with the napkin lying on the table, threw it on his plate carelessly and slowly made his way over to the window next to the one the men were looking through, also peeking into the streets of Hogsmeade, trying to catch some of what they were saying.

“So fast... couldn’t even be stopped... very threatening, yes... what about them? Do you think... Maybe it is You-Know...Impossible... so we should... what if we could just... weird storms, yes, yes indeed... find shelter... not normal...”

Not much wiser he scanned the street but saw nothing out of the ordinary: there were men and women running from the downpour, trying to find shelter to keep themselves dry.

Viktor stumbled back a few steps and nearly fell down when a heavy thunderclap made the whole inn shake. Glasses rattled, bottles fell off the shelves behind the bar and people let out surprised screams. When the shaking stopped he moved towards the door and opened it. The rain immediately soaked his front and blurred his vision. He held a hand above his eyes to shield them somewhat and tried to look up. Huge black clouds were moving fast above them, creating thunder and lightning as he had never witnessed before. The whole sky lit up as one of the thunderbolts shot down and hit the ground a couple of meters away from where he was standing, leaving a huge gaping, smoking hole in the ground. He closed the door and locked it with the bolt and walked upstairs. He planned to gather and pack the most important things in case the need to flee would arise.

He scowled as he jogged up the stairs into his room. He couldn’t remember a storm like this hitting Hogsmeade or getting so close to Hogwarts in 1994, and he was sure he’d have remembered.

Maybe this meant... He shook his head, it was probably better not to assume anything.

April 20, 2002
“The problem is, he could be anywhere, the Timeloop doesn’t send you to a set location... ever,” Valo told the Minister. “And we have no way of seeing where he was sent.”

“So it is like a loose cannon?” Pius shot a look at the Unspeakable before him in confusion. “I have to admit that doesn’t sound too likely.”

Valo hesitated a moment before answering. “Well, it does tend to send you to a familiar or preferred location, which, in Mister Krum’s case should be the area around Hogwarts, however, it doesn’t guarantee anything.”

“Meaning?” Pius impatiently tapped his fingers on his desk.

“Meaning that Bulgaria in 1994 is as familiar to him - or probably even more so - as Hogwarts in 1994.” He watched as he saw the Minister’s face scrunch up, look towards the doors and back at his desk.

“So he could be anywhere.” It wasn’t a question. The Minister had come to the same conclusion Valo had when given the order to investigate where Krum had jumped to.

“That’s what I’m saying,” Valo confirmed.

The Minister nodded to himself and rubbed his chin in thought. He stood up from behind his desk and walked over to his windows, looking out. Valo didn’t know what to do, so he stayed where he was and said nothing until the Minister turned around, thanked him and told him he could leave.

oO0~0Oo


As Corvus walked into the Minister’s office, he saw the man in question turn around and face him.

“We need somebody to trace his steps,” Pius said.

Corvus, momentarily confused, said nothing.

“Somebody who can predict Mister Krum’s steps,” Pius continued as if he hadn’t noticed. “Somebody who knows Mister Krum and knows where to look.” He rounded his desk and handed Corvus a scroll. “Your team for this mission,” he said.

Corvus furrowed his brow and opened the scroll. The first names were familiar ones: his own, followed by Dominique’s and Janus’s and...

He looked up at the Minister, who nodded at him once, then back at the scroll.

“Harry Potter,” he said. “Harry Potter?”

“Yes, like I said, we need somebody who knows Mister Krum and as Auror Potter is the only person in the department capable of that without screwing up, I already sent Mister Krum’s file over to him earlier today.”

Corvus didn’t know what to say. Potter wasn’t exactly somebody he would want to deal with while looking for a fugitive. He trusted the man as far as he could throw him. He grunted and turned around, but was stopped by the Minister’s voice as he walked through the doorway.

“Four will be enough,” the Minister said with a knowing look.

“Four will be enough?” Corvus repeated.

“Yes, Mister Mustow. You go there with four, you come back with four, is that clear?”

Corvus raised his chin and wanted to answer, but changed his mind and nodded instead before walking out. So he was to get rid of Harry Potter. The mission, all of a sudden, was looking a lot more interesting.

April 28, 2002
Hermione sighed. “I really can’t see Viktor doing any of these things.” She slowly browsed the pages of the file Harry had brought home with him. “Really.” She shook her head and looked at Harry. “I really wouldn’t want to doubt the Ministry, not again, but do you think this is legit?”

“I could see him doing that,” Ron said as he walked into the sitting room. He handed Hermione a cup of tea and Harry a cup of coffee and looked at Hermione. “Really,” he repeated after her, raising his eyebrows as if to emphasise this.

“I hadn’t expected it, but...” Harry stopped, considering his words. “But I also don’t think he’d be unable to do it.”

“Well, you obviously didn’t know him very well,” Hermione said. “He was a kind guy when I got to know him.”

“So was Malfoy, probably, at one point in his life, but boys grow up, Hermione,” Ron said. “I mean, look at us, we’re not the same as we were five years ago. Let alone eight.”

Hermione nodded. “We might not be the same, but we didn’t exactly accept the Mark, either,” Harry said.

“You still doubting, then?” Ron asked.

“I just don’t know what to think.” He put his cup down and let himself fall back on the couch. He rubbed his face. “If he is really a Death Eater, which...” He held up a finger when he saw Hermione wanted to interrupt him. “Which is very possible if you look at what kind of people he grew up with. I will help them catch him.” He paused and leaned forward. “It’s my job, after all, Hermione.”

“Harry is right,” Ron said. “His headmaster was Karkaroff, after all.”

“Who was killed because he quit,” Hermione reminded them.

“I have to bring him in, though,” said Harry quietly. “Even if there’s only a small chance he’s done what his file says he’s done.”

“Accept the Mark?” Ron said.

“Kill two Muggle-borns,” Harry answered.

“Oh.” Ron nodded.

Hermione looked from Harry to Ron, and back at Harry. “Well,” she said, “if you have to, do it. But Harry, you know as well as me what’s going on at the Ministry right now. Don’t let him be another victim.”

oO0~0Oo


Harry carefully studied the necklace he was wearing: a gold chain with a somewhat moss-green pendant hanging from it. He looked at his hands, which didn’t look all that different, and felt his face.

“The pendants will give you all a slightly altered look using glamour-like magic. You will be able to recognise each other and yourself, but others won’t,” Unspeakable Gaspar said with a wink. “You will also,” he opened the box he had been carrying, “all carry a Time-Turner with you. These particular ones are quite hard to create and very rare.”

“They look like ordinary Time-Turners to me,” Janus said in a bored tone.

“Oh, they do, but they aren’t,” Gaspar answered. “You see, these particular Time-Turners do not only go back in time, they also go into the future.” He looked down into the box and hesitated for a moment before giving one to Auror Mustow, Auror Ravensdale and Auror Wigan, but stopped before Harry.

Find him.

Harry gasped and took a step back.

“Something wrong, Auror Potter?” Corvus said with an annoyed drawl.

“No,” Harry answered. “No, I just...” He accepted the Time-Turner and quickly added it to the chain already hanging around his neck. “Thank you,” he said to Unspeakable Gaspar.

Had he really just heard what he thought he had heard? It had sounded as if somebody had said something, but nobody had spoken. He shook his head a couple of times. The last time he had heard voices things hadn’t gone well for him. He swallowed audibly. Maybe he had just imagined it. Probably. Hopefully.

oO0~0Oo


He turned his head as he felt a hand on his back and looked into the eyes of the old Unspeakable.

It is of grave importance that you will find him, Harry.

Harry’s eyes went wide as he, unmistakably this time, heard the man’s voice inside his head. He nervously looked to the three men walking in front of him, but none of them were paying any attention to Harry or the Unspeakable.

The Time-Turner I gave you is a special one. Do not give it up, no matter what happens. It will lead you to him, but you will have to trust it.

Harry looked into the Unspeakable’s eyes again and nodded once, making sure the man knew that he understood.

They were guided towards one of the lifts.

“You only have to turn it once,” Gaspar instructed. “I already made sure they’re on the right date and year. When you arrive in 1994 make your way over to the exit of the Ministry. Do not hesitate. Run in case of identification. If you don’t, things could end up ugly.”

“Understood,” Corvus said.

The old Unspeakable looked Harry in the eyes one more time, urging him to understand the importance of this matter.

September 27, 1994
The doors of the lift opened with a soft ping and a woman’s voice telling them they had reached the Atrium. They got off and made their way over to the fountain. Harry looked around. 1994, the year he had entered the Triwizard Tournament and the year Voldemort had returned. He knew he shouldn’t change anything, but there was so much he wanted to tell his younger self, so much that could have helped him. Don’t touch the cup, save Cedric Diggory, don’t forget about the two-way mirror, the location of the Horcruxes. He choked up. Save Dumbledore.

His face turned into a grimace. It was impossible.

The group reached the fireplaces going in and out of the Ministry and as they walked up to one, Harry’s grimace turned into a look of surprise as Nymphadora Tonks came walking their way. He’d nearly have stumbled and fallen if it hadn’t been for Dominique standing in the way, who let out an angry snarl when Harry bumped into him.

“Stay focussed, Potter!” he said as Corvus disappeared in front of him.

Harry nodded and looked back, but Tonks had already disappeared.

oO0~0Oo


They had set up a camping site in one of the woods surrounding Hogwarts castle. Harry opened his rucksack and got out his map, hoping that even though they weren’t in the right year, it would still work. He touched the Time-Turner hanging around his neck again. It had got warmer as they had walked towards the castle and considering what the Unspeakable had told him, had led the group onwards.

Apparently, finding Krum even concerned the Unspeakables. Or maybe it only concerned them because it concerned the Ministry. Harry ran a hand through his hair. Did that mean Krum was indeed guilty? He sighed and walked back out of their tent.

He sat down on one of the logs they had moved to serve as chairs in front of a fire and opened the Marauder’s Map. He tapped it once, but thought the words ‘I solemnly swear that I am up to no good’ instead of speaking them out loud, as he didn’t trust any of the men he was with. The Minister had chosen them, amongst others, to be members of what he called his Personal Guard. They were supposedly the Minister’s ‘Hit-Team’, collecting everybody who was on the wanted list.

The map started colouring itself in and footsteps appeared, so Harry started looking.

October 9, 1994
Krum wasn’t at Hogwarts. The group of Aurors stayed where they were for a couple of days, and each day, several times a day, Harry would take out his map and search for a set of footsteps named ‘Viktor Krum’. Harry had told the others that it was unlikely Krum would be hiding inside of the castle, but they had insisted and, as Harry’s Time-Turner was still glowing with warmth, he didn’t want to risk it.

They had moved, though, this time closer to the double gates of the castle. The Krum of 1994 would arrive at Hogwarts on the 30th of October, and the Aurors were positive Krum would stay close to Hogwarts, if he was there at all, to wait out his own arrival. One evening, while they had been hiding out in the tent from the storms outside, Dominique had even gone as far as suggesting Krum would want to replace his own self from 1994, so he could stay in the past. Harry had refuted that theory quickly, explaining that even if Krum succeeded in killing his younger self, he, too, would disappear. Dominique had merely grunted at that, so Harry had decided to call it a night and go to bed.

October 10, 1994
Harry was sent to explore the Hogsmeade area, so he had grabbed the small leather rucksack he had been carrying and headed out. Mustow was supposed to see if he could get access to the Hogwarts grounds so he could see if anything could be found in the Forbidden Forest, which was, according to him, the perfect hiding spot for ‘scum like Krum’. The scarred Auror, Dominique Ravensdale, was to Apparate to Diagon Alley and Wigan would explore the mountains around Hogwarts to see if Krum was maybe hiding in one of the caves.

They cast a charm on their tent to prevent it from being found and headed out.

The first thing Harry noticed as he walked into Hogsmeade was that it was different than he remembered it. The streets were empty and the sky was dark and dangerous looking. He checked his pendant, prayed to whoever was listening that it worked and walked into the Three Broomsticks. He had decided that his best course of action was to check the local pub first. Rumours spread fast, even more so in a small town like Hogsmeade, so he was more likely to hear anything inside rather than out.

He ordered a butterbeer and sat down, pulled out a book he had taken with him and pretended to read, listening sharply.

oO0~0Oo


Harry sighed heavily as he closed the door of the last pub in Hogsmeade behind him. He had sat, drinking butterbeers, for hours in various pubs, and the only thing he knew was that people here were drunk, gossiping bastards, and apparently the storms scared them. Harry adjusted his rucksack and looked up at the sky. He had to admit the storms were oddly resembling the storms they were having in 2002.

He had been so engrossed in what was happening above him while he was walking that he hadn’t noticed the door to his right opening, or the man stepping out, making them bump into each other. The man grunted a quick apology before walking around Harry and continuing on his path. Harry, however, didn’t pay attention. Instead he was trying his best to get his Time-Turner off his chest as fast as he could. The thing had gone so hot, he was sure he could already smell his burning flesh.

When he had finally managed to save his poor skin, he gasped and turned around sharply, nearly knocking into another person. This time it was Harry who apologised before sprinting into the direction Krum, or so he suspected, had walked. He ran until he reached the end of the village and cursed: Krum was nowhere to be seen. To top it off, his Time-Turner now felt cold again, so he had probably Apparated, too. Harry hoped it wasn’t permanent, and decided to walk back to their camping spot to inform the others.

oO0~0Oo


“Are you sure it was Krum?” Corvus inquired as they went over what had happened one more time. Harry had told them everything, everything except for what had happened to his Time-Turner. He had figured out early on that it wasn’t information that was to be shared, otherwise Unspeakable Gaspar would not have gone through a method like telepathy to ensure Harry alone knew his message. If he had wanted the others to know, he’d have told them, or even better, given them scorching Time-Turners, too. Harry rubbed the spot on his chest where the Time-Turner had been lying and winced. It was still sensitive.

“Well, no,” Harry answered. “Like I said, I wasn’t paying attention, but it definitely looked like him.

None of the others spoke until Dominique said: “We can’t risk it.” Corvus shook his head. “No, we can’t. We’ll move towards Hogsmeade tomorrow.”

October 23, 1994
They had walked to Hogsmeade first thing in the morning after Krum’s possible discovery, and taken two rooms at the inn Harry had seen him come out of. Every morning, another member of the group would go downstairs to observe the man Harry had pointed out had looked like Krum, even though he looked nothing like it. Harry was sure it was him, though, and had suggested Krum might be using glamours, too. Janus had immediately offered to capture the man for questioning, but Corvus had decided against it, in case it turned out to be a native. So they had taken to observing and shadowing the man.
He would come out of his room each morning around 8:30am, would order breakfast at the inn’s bar, eat it, Apparate to Diagon Alley and get a newspaper. What he would do next changed every day, but it looked like he was waiting for someone, or something.

Harry made sure the Time-Turner never touched his skin anymore while close to what was Krum, often putting it in a pocket of his jacket, or even his rucksack.

That night Corvus came up with a new plan.

“I want you to wait until he falls asleep and enter his room,” he said to Harry. “If he is indeed Viktor Krum the glamours will have disappeared by the time you get there.”

“Why him?” Janus had asked. “Let me do it. I wouldn’t mind getting my hands dirty.” He licked his lips and looked eagerly at his superior.

“Because we cannot afford to lose him again,” Corvus answered. “We were lucky to find him in the first place. Who knows where he’ll Apparate to if he wakes up and sees you?” He looked at Harry. “No, we need Auror Potter to do this so that if Krum were to wake up, he could be convinced Potter is here to help.”

Janus didn’t answer, but instead looked at Harry with a disgusted look on his face. “Fine,” he said. The Guard member stood up and walked out of the room.

“So what do I do if it turns out to be him?” Harry asked. “Arrest him?”

“No, you let him walk away,” Corvus answered sarcastically. “Now get ready, it is 11pm and he is about to come back and call it a night. When he does, you’re on, understood?”

Harry nodded. “Understood,” he said as he grabbed his wand and walked out.

oO0~0Oo


Harry took a deep breath and hoped Krum, or who he hoped to be Krum, hadn’t been smart enough to put wards on his door. He cast a silencing charm to prevent any creaking and whispered an Alohomora. The lock clicked once and Harry pushed it open carefully before peeking inside.

The man lying in the bed had his back turned to the door, so Harry still couldn’t see if it was really Krum or not. He softly closed the door behind him and tiptoed over to the bed, wand at the ready. The first thing he needed to do was make sure the man was indeed Viktor Krum, so he grabbed a shoulder and pulled.

The moment the man turned a fist came Harry’s way and collided with his jaw. Harry stumbled and fell back, turned and cast a stinging hex in Krum’s direction. He loudly called out for assistance as Krum, still in his normal clothes, grabbed his wand and tried to make for the door. Harry cast another charm and locked it before having to jump out of the way. He cast a Protego, took one step to the right, avoided another hex and tried to stun Krum.

The door flew open and Corvus, Dominique and Janus stormed in. Dominique grabbed one arm, Janus the other. Corvus grabbed Krum’s neck and forced him, still struggling, down on his knees.

“Viktor Krum,” he said, slightly out of breath, “you are hereby officially arrested. As a Death Eater suspect and official enemy of the country you have lost your rights and shall be executed upon arrival at the Ministry.”

Krum kept on struggling and screaming, cursing in what was probably Bulgarian. He looked at Harry and gave him a nasty glare before he was pricked by one of Corvus’ needles. He closed his eyes and his body went limp only seconds after the liquid had entered his body.

Corvus, the biggest of the team, grabbed Krum and swung him over a shoulder.

“We have to move,” he said. As the others followed him out, Harry took one last look around the room and, without really knowing why he did it, picked Krum’s wand up off the floor, put it in the bag he had wanted to escape with, put that bag into his own rucksack, and left the room.

oO0~0Oo


Harry had been nervous the whole way back into the forest. Corvus had decided they would put up the tent and rest for a night and try and get back to the future the next day. They’d each take turns drugging Krum, which needed to happen every two hours. The needles were lying on the table, Krum was lying, still unconscious, on the ground.

Harry hadn’t said a word since they’d captured Krum. He had been thinking, a lot, instead. Krum hadn’t been wearing a long-sleeved shirt and even though Harry hated to admit it, there was no mark on his left arm. Which meant what? That he was innocent? Harry didn’t know. What he did know, though, was that this whole situation just didn’t feel right. Something felt off.

When it was his turn he got up out of his bed and grabbed the last needle on the table, pressing it slowly, testing for air. A drop of liquid came out and Harry couldn’t resist letting this chance slip. He got out his wand and cast a charm on it that would help him identify the ingredients that were in it. The first charm was negative, so he cast another, and another. A sleeping draught, then. Simple, but efficient. He walked over to where Krum was lying and pressed the tip of the needle against the skin of Krum’s throat, but instead of pushing in, he looked down, into the open eyes of their prisoner.

Krum said nothing, he just looked at him, eyes filled with rage and something else Harry couldn’t quite place. He took the needle away from Krum’s neck and saw the look change. There was confusion in it, now, too. Harry softly spilled the draught on the ground and put the needle back on the table. When he looked back he saw Krum look at him, still lying on the ground. The man nodded once and closed his eyes again, feigning sleep.

He wasn’t sure why he had done what he had done, or what he hoped would happen. All he knew was that it had felt like the right thing to do. He returned to his bed and got in, trying to get a couple of hours more rest before dawn.

oO0~0Oo


Harry was roughly woken up by the heavy voice of Corvus, telling them to get up and get ready to leave. His back cracked as he yawned and stretched. He brushed his hand through his hair a couple of times, hoping he didn’t look like a complete idiot, and got up. Krum was still lying on the ground with his eyes closed. Harry looked over to the table, where four empty needles were lying. Good, they hadn’t given him another dose of the potion then.

Corvus came back in and, grabbing the ropes Krum was tied with, roughly pulled him off the ground.

“Time to leave,” he grunted as he shook Krum back and forth a couple of times. Harry saw him open his eyes slowly, pretending to wake up. However, even though Krum’s body language was that of a drugged man, his eyes were alert and awake. They connected with Harry’s for a moment before carefully looking over his shoulder. Corvus pushed his head back down as he saw what Krum was trying to do, told him not to speak and dragged him outside.

Harry swung his rucksack over his shoulder and made sure to check if he had forgotten anything. He walked a last round in the tent, checked under his bed and went outside.

The sun shone brightly in his face and he had to close his eyes momentarily, blinded. He blinked and his vision slowly returned.

“Drop the rucksack and show me your hands,” he heard Corvus say. He blinked a couple of more times and looked at the three men, one still holding on to Krum, wands raised, pointing at... him.

Harry didn’t move, so Corvus repeated himself. “Drop the rucksack and show me your hands!”

He looked at all three men, then at Krum, who looked back. He swallowed nervously and slowly let his rucksack, which contained his wand, fall on the ground. Everything seemed to move in slow-motion as he raised his hands. He saw Corvus smile, Dominique ready to cast a curse, Krum elbow the bigger Russian still holding on to him and dodging the hand grabbing for his hair.

Harry’s Auror training immediately kicked in. He fell to his knees and let himself fall back to the ground, dodging what seemed like Dominique’s’ Killing Curse. His eyes widened as he realised the danger he was in. He rolled over, dodging something else, and sat up in a crouch. He saw Krum evading Corvus’s attempt to get a hold on him again. Krum kicked, hitting the Auror in the stomach, making him fall back. As Janus turned to come to Corvus’ aid, Dominique raised his wand to cast again. Harry summoned his wand from his rucksack and shielded himself. The hex bounced off it and nearly missed Dominique. Harry waved it and hit him in the stomach, disarming him, and cast a stunner. He had to dive as Janus had decided to stop helping Corvus and focus once more on Harry. He cast another shield charm, threw a stinging hex through that and was able to stun the second Auror, making him topple over. The moment he did it, he was hit by Corvus jumping him. They fell to the ground, Harry on his stomach, Corvus on top of him. He tried to crawl away from under Corvus, turned and kicked him full in the face. Corvus screamed, covering his nose with his hand. Krum then kicked him hard against the head, hands still bound.

“Thanks,” Harry mumbled as he struggled to get up, still partly covered by the now unconscious man.

Krum just looked at him and nodded.

“So vhat do ve do now?” Krum asked. “Ve leave them here?”

Harry shook his head. “I don’t think that’s smart. Unless you care for killing them, they’ll wake up and definitely come after us again.”

“So vhat then?” Krum said. “Vhere do ve go?”

“Back to the future. We got Time-Turners from one of the Unspeakables.” Harry answered. He walked over to his back and opened it, taking his Time-Turner out. It was cold. “Huh,” he said, surprised. Turning the little wheel he walked back over to Krum.

“Put the chain over your head, too,” he said. Krum nodded and did what he was told. Harry cast a nervous look at the three men lying on the still damp grass and let go of the little bud controlling the Turner.”

“Nothing is happening,” Krum said as he looked at Harry in confusion. “I thought you said ve vould go back to the future.”

“That’s what I thought, too.” Harry started shaking the Time-Turner and sighed. “I think it broke somehow. I’ll get another.”

He walked over to Dominique’s body, wand in hand, and pulled the Time-Turner from around his neck. “Okay, so this one is definitely broken,” he said as he turned to Krum and threw the little hourglass his way. Krum examined it slowly. “Vat is broken about it?” He heard him ask as he turned Corvus around.

“There’s no sand in it, anymore.” He nodded towards it. “Look at it, there’s a tiny crack in the glass. Must’ve happened when I hit him with the stunner.” Krum turned it around in his hands a couple of times.

“I had one, too, but I don’t think it vas to go back to the future,” he said, looking solemn. “I tried, but nothing happened.”

Harry scowled as he walked back over to Krum, two Time-Turners in his hand, all three men now bound with magical ropes. “You had one?” He stopped in front of Krum and put one of the chains over both of their heads. “Where did you get it?” He had been told Krum had stolen the Time-Turner before jumping back in time, but after what had just happened Harry started to doubt everything he had been told.

“And old man gave it to me before I ended up here.”

Harry looked up from turning the bud around. “An old man?” he asked. He wondered...

“Yes, he had a long beard and reminded me a bit of Dumbledore.”

Harry cursed. “This one isn’t doing anything either,” he said, voice sounding somewhat desperate. They hadn’t broken all the Time-Turners, now had they?

He pulled the chain over his head and threw the second Time-Turner in the grass, next to the first two. He sighed nervously. “Last one,” he said as he held it up. It didn’t look broken, but the others didn't either, so he really couldn’t know for sure.

Once again he put the chain around both of their heads and started turning. As he did so he noticed he was holding his breath, so he let it go right before letting go of the third little bud he’d been turning that morning.

Nothing.

Harry rubbed his face with both hands. “Maybe it needs some kind of spell?” Krum suggested, but Harry shook his head.

“No, Unspeakable Gaspar explained to us how they work. Just turn the bud.” He sighed and pulled it off their necks, picked up the other ones and put them all in his rucksack. When he picked it up he realised that one: Krum’s hands were still tied, and two: that Harry was still carrying his wand and bag around.

“If I untie you, will you attack me and run?”

Krum shook his head.

“Would you tell me if you would?” Harry asked.

Krum smiled this time, and shook his head again. “No, I vouldn’t.”

Harry fumbled with his wand nervously. “Well,” he said, coming to a decision. “We sort of saved each other, so if you want to run...” He raised his wand and spelled the bonds away, but Krum didn’t move.

“Thank you,” he said instead.

Harry smiled. “You’re welcome.” He reached inside his rucksack and pulled out Krum’s bag. “Your wand is inside it,” he said as he handed it over. “I, err...” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I took them with me when we... you know. I don’t know why I did it, though.”

Krum looked inside the sand-coloured cotton bag and took out his wand as Harry walked over to him.

“I know we already met, officially, during the Tournament, but I don’t think we ever got properly introduced,” he said and offered his hand. Krum shook it.

“Harry.”

“Viktor,” Krum answered. “So, vat do ve do vith them?” He nodded towards the Guards. “I don’t think it is vise leaving them here. They’ll surely find us again.”

Harry thought for a moment. “Can you produce a Patronus?” Krum nodded. “I’d send one myself but they would know it was me... and that would problematic, I think,” Harry said.

“Okay,” Krum said, “vere do I send it to?”

Harry pondered that question for a bit, then nodded to himself before he answered softly. “Send it to Severus Snape, tell him...” He stopped, not sure what to say. “Tell him where we are and that we,” he searched in his bag and got the broken Time-Turner back out, throwing it on the ground, “travelled back in time with them, but that they tried to kill us. Ask him to notify the Order of the Phoenix and by extension the Aurors.”

“Okay,” Krum said, then concentrated and send his Patronus towards the castle.

Harry wasn’t sure why he had said Severus’ name. Maybe because he had the feeling Dumbledore was needed at the castle, and Snape was the closest thing to him. He shrugged off the feeling. It wasn’t because he trusted the man, he never would.

“So vat do ve do now?” Krum asked.

“I’m not sure,” Harry said. “Travel, hide? We should take the tent with us, just in case, until we figure out what to do next.”

He looked at Viktor. “Let’s go,” he said with a sigh.

December 25, 1994
Harry was sitting in one of the chairs in their tent, reading about Time-Turners in one of the books they had purchased, and sighed. He was tired. Krum and he had started out fairly well. It had been a little bit awkward at first, but soon enough they had started talking. They had started with the Triwizard Tournament and laughed when Krum confessed that Karkaroff had forced him to take a girl with him to the dance. He had then picked the smartest, sweetest-looking girl he could find and explained his problem to her. Hermione had, obviously, agreed. Harry wondered why she’d never told him. Viktor had told him that Karkaroff had said that a true champion needed a true woman, and, insecure as he had been, he had listened to the man. Karkaroff had been his headmaster, after all.

Harry had asked him about Karkaroff and Viktor said he really hadn’t been a bad man. Viktor believed people could change, and Karkaroff had seemed to only want the best for him. Viktor had said that he missed the man, and so Harry had left it at that, not wanting to push the matter.

They had moved on to Harry, talking about his struggle with Malfoy, about the war, about how hard it must be now, to find somebody. Harry had told him he hadn’t been with anybody in a while. His last partner had used him for his fame. Krum had asked about the word ‘partner’, but Harry had ignored that.

It had continued for a while. They woke up, decided if they should stay or move, moved if necessary, bought a paper somewhere with money out of one of their vaults, read books, got new ones, ate, talked more and slept.

However, after a month it had become tedious. They had decided something had to be wrong with the Time-Turners, and so they had bought books concerning them. It felt as if they’d read every single book available, but so far nothing they had tried had worked. They had started fighting, blaming each other for the situation they were in. They weren’t talking right now either, hadn’t been for days. Harry didn’t even know where Krum had gone to.

He put his book down and stretched his back. It was snowing outside, he knew. He needed no newspaper to tell him that, because he still remembered. He opened the tent and leaned against the side. Thick white flakes were slowly falling out of the air, covering the entire forest floor. Harry smiled and looked up at the grey sky. It had been him who had suggested to move around with the tent, as he thought inns and hotels would be too expensive and dangerous. Their former selves could notice money being taken, at least if it were in bulks like that, or they could be discovered, which would be really bad. As for moving around, well, Harry wasn’t sure what happened to the Aurors. Had Snape ever responded to their Patronus? For all he knew they might already be coming after them, and so they couldn’t risk staying in one place for too long.

He wiped his nose as a single snowflake landed on it and looked back over his shoulder into the tent. It reminded him of his search for the Horcruxes. He laughed wryly as he let the canvas fall back again. Was he forever doomed, then? Would his fate keep sending him around in circles? He should be back at the Weasleys’ right now, celebrating Christmas, but instead he was here, in a tent, in the cold, again, trying to do something that seemed impossible.

His face hardened as the tent opened and a snow-covered Krum walked in. He took off his coat and flung it in a corner, then took a little wrapped box out of his pocket and handed it to Harry.

“Merry Christmas,” he said quietly.

Of all the things Harry had expected him to say and do, this hadn’t been one of them.

“It’s nothing big,” Viktor continued, “as ve decided not to spend too much money. I hope you vill like it”

“I didn’t get you anything,” Harry said, feeling incredibly guilty. “We weren’t talking, so I guessed...”

Viktor smiled. “That is okay, I don’t need presents anyway.”

Harry, not convinced, pulled at the small bow that was around the box and opened it. There was a small golden ring inside.

Harry looked from the box to Viktor, then back at the box.

“...A ring?”

“What?” Viktor said, blushing scarlet. “No, it is not a ring! It is for your vand.”

“My... oh!” Harry said, getting it. “Right. I mean... I didn’t.”

“Of course you didn’t,” Viktor said quickly as he walked towards Harry and took the box out of his hands. “Give me your vand.”

Harry handed it over and watched Viktor get out the tiny golden hoop and slide it around it carefully. He blushed and looked away, then cursed himself for doing so. It was his magic-wand, and the little hoop was there to make it look prettier, not imply anything.

Harry mumbled a thank you when he gave it back. The ring looked really pretty around his wand, he had to admit.

“I picked gold because of Gryffindor,” Viktor said. “I thought you’d like it.”

Harry looked at him in surprise. “I do like it!” He smiled. “It’s very pretty. I had no idea they existed, though.”

“Me either, I saw it ven I vas strolling through Diagon Alley,” Viktor said.

Harry looked up at him. He might’ve disliked him during the Tournament, but Harry had started to grow fond of the man. And he really didn’t want to argue, not if he was the only one he had around . “So... we’re cool again, then?”

“Cool... again?” Viktor asked, a confused look on his face.

This had happened before. Viktor’s English might be good, but there were still certain phrases he didn’t know the meaning of. “It means that we stopped arguing.”

“Oh, yes, I think ve are ‘cool’.”

Harry smiled and looked at his wand, the tiny golden hoop shimmering in the light of the torches they had lit in their tent. It really was a nice gift.

“Next time we’re in Diagon Alley, I’ll buy you something nice, too,” he said. “So what do you think of a nice Christmas dinner?

December 31, 1994 - January 1, 1995
They were sitting against the cold canvas of their tent, watching fireworks explode in the sky. It had been a clear night for once, and their view was spectacular.

“You know, Ron quite hated you in fourth year,” Harry said with a smile.

Viktor turned to him. “Huh, vat do you mean?”

Harry laughed at his confused face. “He thought you were going to steal Hermione from him.”

That didn’t help Viktor at all. “Steal? But they veren’t together.”

“No, they weren’t,” Harry said, “but he did like her, a lot.”

“Vell, I didn’t know,” Viktor answered. “And I told everybody that I only vanted to be friends vith her.”

Harry nodded. “Hermione told him that, but he wasn’t listening.”

“Vell, then that is not my fault.” Viktor looked back at the fireworks for a bit, then back at Harry.

“What?” Harry asked, smiling. Viktor had been staring at him for a while now.

However, Viktor shook his head. “Never mind,” he said. “It isn’t my business.”

Harry nudged him. “C’mon, you can ask. There are only so many things to talk about that aren’t personal, after all, and it’s just the two of us, we need to keep ourselves entertained until we figure out what to do.”

Viktor sighed heavily. “I have already accepted ve vill have to vait.”

Harry didn’t understand what he meant and quite frankly had enough of all the waiting. He wanted to go home. “Wait for what?” He asked.

“Vait for the future. The Time-Turners don’t vork, and I am sure ve von’t be able to fix them.”

Harry nodded as another piece of fireworks exploded above their heads. It was red and when he looked at Viktor, it reflected on his face. Viktor noticed him looking and looked back. This time it was his turn to nudge Harry. “It vill be okay,” he said. “Ve von’t be alone.”

January 2, 1995
Harry was putting on his second sock as the canvas of their shower area opened, letting the steam float freely into their ‘bedroom’. He looked up and his eyes grew wide as a half-naked Viktor walked out. “Forgot my undervear,” he said before walking back in to get dressed.

Harry swallowed loudly, cleared his throat and raked a shaking hand through his hair. He really shouldn’t let Viktor get to him this much. Yes, he had noticed the man was attractive, he had in his fourth year already. However, back then he’d still been convinced he was straight and hadn’t really thought about it. Now, however... No, he had decided Viktor was off limits until this whole thing was over. And even when it was over, who said Viktor would want to go out with him anyway?

That stupid gift, Harry thought as he angrily put on his shoe. That stupid gift had done it. His brain had convinced him that the blush Viktor had had on his cheeks when he had come back was not because of the cold weather, it had been because he had been happy that Harry had liked his gift. It had told him that Viktor’s comment last night had meant a whole lot more than it probably would ever truly mean, and that the glances he got when Viktor didn’t know Harry was watching him from the corner of his eyes held some kind of secret meaning.

Harry stomped his foot on the ground to get his shoe on, as he had no patience to completely untie it. Outside the storm was raging once again, and it was getting heavier. It worried him quite a bit. Ever since he had arrived in 1994 the storms had been getting worse.

Viktor came out of their ‘bathroom’, this time fully clothed, and grabbed his shoes as well. “Vere are ve moving to today?”

Harry thought about that for a moment. They had been in the same spot for about a week, so it was indeed time to pack up and go somewhere else; however, he had no idea where to go.

“Ve could go to Hogwarts...” Viktor said. “I mean, not really Hogwarts, but I found a really beautiful spot next to a lake from vich you can see the castle.”

After all the forests, lakes and mountains they had seen Harry really did feel like something familiar.

“Sure,” he said. “Why not?”

They packed up the tent in record time as the rain was pouring down heavily. Harry spelled away the wards he had put around their camping spot and ran back to Viktor.

“GRAB MY HAND!” Viktor screamed over the sound of the wind. Not hesitating, Harry grabbed his hand tight and felt his body get squeezed almost immediately.

They Apparated at the edge of the lake Viktor had talked about earlier. The sky was dark because of the huge clouds, which thundered loudly, but at least it was dry. Harry took off his hood and shook the water that had got in his hair partly out of it. As he turned around he saw the castle, standing proud on the edge of a cliff, looking dangerous. He felt a soft tug on his hand as he did so, and he looked down to see that their hands were still linked. He looked up at Viktor, shocked, and tried to pull his hand away.

Viktor stopped him. “No, it’s fine,” he said and squeezed Harry’s hand softly. He came to stand next to Harry. “It is beautiful, isn’t it?”

Harry nodded. “It is,” he breathed. “I really do miss it, sometimes. Even though times were darker back then, at least they made sense.”

Viktor squeezed Harry’s hand again. “Then vhy don’t you go back? Teach.”

Harry laughed and shook his head, squeezing back. “No, I was meant to be an Auror, I think.”

Viktor looked him up and down. “Who said that?”

“Hmm?” Harry said and looked back. “Oh, nobody did. Or I did, I guess.”

They didn’t speak for a while, instead they just stood there, at the edge of a lake, looking at one of the most beautiful and grand castles in the world, two lone souls, lost in time and space, but at that moment, Harry didn’t mind it as much anymore.

“Do you still have those pendants?” Viktor asked without looking his way. Harry had shown the necklace to Viktor as he had told him how they had found him. He had told him about Gaspar, the Time-Turner, Viktor’s file and thus also the pendants. Viktor had been intrigued and had put one on right away.

“Do you recognise me?” he had asked and Harry had nearly answered that he would recognise him anywhere, but had stopped himself. “I recognise you because I know it’s you. You look like you, but you also look different.” he had said instead. “I guess that’s what they do.”

“I do,” Harry now said as let go of Viktor’s hand. He sighed at the loss of the heat, dropped his rucksack on the ground and rummaged through it. When he found them, he handed one to Viktor. He had put them safely away as they didn’t need to wear them in the woods and didn’t want to lose them.

Viktor held it up in the light and watched the colours in it change slowly.

“Let’s go to Hogwarts,” he said. Harry looked at him, baffled. Viktor just smiled down at Harry, who was still on his knees in front of his rucksack. “I think it is a fun idea. Ve vear these so nobody vill recognise us, and have a look around.” Harry wanted to say no, he really did, but he just couldn’t. Not when the other man was smiling like he was at that moment.

January 16, 1995
Their walk over the Hogwarts grounds had been amazing, but also quite shocking. They had gone to Diagon Alley and Flooed in, with permission of the Headmaster, to look around to see if this was the right school for their ‘children’’. Dumbledore had kindly welcomed them into his study and had shown them around. At one point of their tour he had left them because he had, apparently, pressing matters to attend to.

They had walked first towards the Gryffindor Tower. Harry had really wanted to show Viktor around but had realised, when already in front of the painting of the Fat Lady, that he had no idea what the password had been at this time of the year, in this year. So they had walked back, tried every flight of stairs, every shortcut, every corridor and every door that didn’t lead to a classroom. Harry had shown him the Room of Requirement and even, surprisingly, the Chamber of Secrets. Viktor had gasped when he had seen the huge skeleton of the Basilisk Harry had killed in his second year, had put his arm around Harry’s shoulder and had squeezed, hard.

After coming back up they had decided to go the library. Harry, closely followed by Viktor, had been talking over his shoulder. He hadn’t turned around until he had seen Viktor’s eyes go wide. He had turned, had seen what caused it, and had stopped short. He had turned back to Viktor.

“We can’t be here,” he said. “We have to go.”

However, Viktor was still looking, baffled, at his younger self. He was wearing the dark-red coloured uniform of his school and was reading a book, stealing glances at - and now it was Harry’s eyes growing wide - a bushy-haired 14-year-old girl.

“Hermione,” he whispered.

“This is not right,” he heard Viktor say and he shook his head. “No, it’s not,” he answered, but when he looked at the other man he saw that he was no longer looking at himself, he was looking outside. As Harry did the same a thunderclap sounded and lightning hit the side of the wall, making the library shake with the intensity of the blow. Books fell out of their cases and children screamed, while Madam Pince was desperately trying to maintain order.

Sudden realisation hit Harry. “We are causing this!” he screamed over the sound of the storm raging outside. “We have to leave!.”

“Vat?!” Viktor screamed back at him.

Harry didn’t hesitate, grabbed Viktor’s hand and pulled him out of the library, through the corridors and back towards the door. They passed Albus Dumbledore, who gave them a puzzled look as they flew by, out of the castle.

They ran all the way back to Hogsmeade, where Harry stopped, got out his wand, and Apparated them away.

oO0~0Oo


Viktor looked around as he brushed the sand off his knees. He had stumbled and fallen on the ground when they had arrived at... “Vere are ve?” he asked.

“I think we are in the Forest of Dean,” Harry answered. “But I’m not sure.”

“How can you not be sure?” Viktor asked as he straightened the jacket he had been wearing, reached under his shirt and took off the pendant.

Harry sighed. He had been thinking about the younger version of Hermione when he had run towards Hogsmeade, which probably had influenced where they had apparated to. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “We need to apparate back to our tent anyway.”

oO0~0Oo


Harry felt happy and confused at the same time as he thought back to what had happened at the castle. He was standing in the ‘kitchen’ of their tent, waiting for the vegetables they had bought to boil.

He smiled when he saw Viktor walk his way. “Ve need to talk,” Viktor said. Harry stirred the food one more time, tapped the spoon once on the edge of the pan and and turned. “Sure,” he said. “What’s wrong?”

“I’ve been thinking about Hogvards,” Viktor started and Harry nodded. He had expected questions. “You said,” Viktor continued, “that ve vere causing it.”

Harry sighed as he turned the fire down a bit. “Better sit down,” he said as he walked past Viktor into their sitting area and pulled two seats closer to each other. He sat down in one. Viktor followed him and did the same. Harry raked a hand through his hair and started.

“Around July, two years ago . . .” Harry stopped, thought, and corrected himself. “Around July 2000,” he said, “strange things started happening to the weather in Britain. At first we, the Order of the Phoenix I mean, didn’t think much of it, until we started noticing strange disappearances from Azkaban.” Viktor nodded at him. “These people simply disappeared. They didn’t escape, they didn’t turn up anywhere, and their names couldn’t be found in any record or document. One day they were there, the next day they weren’t.” Harry rubbed his hand over his chin, thinking. “We started to investigate the two phenomena and concluded that they might be linked.”

“The disappearances and the storms?” Viktor asked.

Harry nodded. “Yes. Although, we didn’t know what was causing it, whenever people disappeared the storms would get worse. The odd thing was that they would disappear again after some time, granted that nothing happened during that time.”

Harry paused again, trying to choose his next words carefully. He had been thinking on this theory for days, and the longer he did, the more fishy it sounded, even to him. “Wherever we go, whenever we go there, you and me, I mean.” Harry looked up at Viktor and smiled a small smile. “Storms will start appearing. I think... I think we caused it, by stepping into a time that wasn’t ours, and by walking into your younger self, we might have created a little... explosion, if you want to call it that.”

Viktor nodded again, so Harry continued.

“Hermione said she had read about these exact same storms happening before. During that time people were allowed to travel through time whenever they pleased, which, according to her, left scars.”

“Scars? In vhat?” Viktor asked.

Harry rubbed the back of his neck. “Erm, well, in Time.” Hermione had given it a name, but Harry wasn’t able to remember it right then. “Apparently nature tried to mend itself by creating the storms, or maybe the storms were there because it was healing.” He shook his head. “I don’t know. What I do know, though, is that when you saw yourself something went really wrong. I also think, however strange it might sound, that I know where the missing people went.”

oO0~0Oo


Harry had kept on talking, explaining his theory based on what had happened during their trip and what the Order had been able to find out. Viktor had gone to make tea, their food forgotten on the stove. Harry had started pacing, trying to disprove his own theory, but however much he tried they always came back to the same conclusion. Time travelling was linked to the storms, the storms to the disappearances and so the disappearances to time travelling. Harry wasn’t sure where exactly the John Does had gone to, but they had gone somewhere beyond or out of time, that much was obvious to him now.

“I read books about things like that,” Harry said as he crossed his legs. They had ended up on the ground, neither of them being able to sit in the same position for too long. “During my job as an Auror, I mean.” He rubbed his hands on his knees. “I had never seriously thought about them before, though, until this all happened.”

“Vell, it is the perfect vay to get rid of people,” Viktor said and Harry looked up at him in surprise. Viktor held up his hands in defence. “I’m not saying I approve,” he continued, “but you have to admit it is smart.”
Harry leaned back against the edge of the seat and nodded. “It is smart.” He looked towards the opening of the tent. It was moving. The wind had picked up a couple of hours ago again.

Viktor leaned forward and put one hand on Harry's leg. “Are you okay?” He asked. Harry turned his head back and blushed scarlet as their noses touched. He had been thinking about Neville. He had lost his case against the Wizengamot and had been found guilty as an enemy of the State a couple of days before his trip here. Arthur was next. Harry was afraid the two might disappear as well. And what had happened to the other people he now couldn’t remember? How many of his friends had already gone without him knowing?

He stammered as he looked Viktor in the eyes. “Y... yes, I’m fine. I, erm...” He swallowed audibly, then nodded towards the entrance of their tent. “The wind is picking up. We should move.”

Viktor looked into the direction Harry had nodded towards and stood up. “Yes, you are right. Ve should pack.”

Harry groaned and fell forward, hiding his face in his hands when Viktor had disappeared into the kitchen to take the forgotten food off the fire. Why did this always have to happen to him?

January 24, 1995
Harry smiled as he caught the tent Viktor threw his way. He saw the other man look up into the sky.

“I vish the veather vould stay like this,” Viktor said. “It is so nice.”

Harry looked up too and saw the sun shine brightly in the cold, blue winter sky. He wished the weather would stay like this, too. “Well,” he said, “if we really have to wait until our times sync and our other selves go back in time, we’ll have a long time of harsh weather ahead of us.”

“I don’t really get that,” Viktor said as he put Harry’s rucksack down on the ground and walked his way. Harry’s heart started beating loudly and he sighed inwardly. He was going to have to admit he had started to fall for the man, and he really didn’t want to. Not because he didn’t want to like him, absolutely not. No, it was because he was afraid of what would happen when he accepted those feelings. Would he have to act on them, or should he ignore them, hide them away like he usually did? He was also frustrated. Frustrated because he was tired of being alone, frustrated that when he was together with somebody, he usually found out they were fake soon enough. He looked at Viktor sadly, then shook his head and forced himself to answer the question.

“What don’t you get?” Harry asked.

“Vhy the bad veather is following us.” He helped Harry unfold the tent as he said it. “Ve are not a scar, are we?”

They threw the tent on the ground, now unfolded, and Harry swished his wand to have it pop up. He held out his hand and his rucksack flew to him. He swung it over his shoulder and entered the tent.

Viktor followed him in. Harry threw his rucksack on one of the chairs and walked towards one of the beds. He took off his shirt and was about to grab a warmer sweater when he saw the other man look at him. He blushed and pulled the hoodie over his head and straightened it quickly.

“I think we’re leaving scars as we move around,” he said without looking at Viktor, then turned. “Or maybe we’re just unwanted.”

February 8, 1995
“I don’t like to be here any more than you do, Viktor,” Harry said loudly. “You’re the one who felt it was necessary to jump back in time, not me!’
They had been arguing again, and in the end the argument had turned into a fight. They had been about to move again when Viktor had said he’d had it, and that he refused to run away from it again. Harry had tried to talk him out of that decision, since the last time they had stayed in one place long enough for the storm to break out it had nearly ripped a hole into one of Hogwarts’ walls. He was sure their tent wasn’t strong enough to withstand something like that.

“It vasn’t exactly a free choice!” Viktor screamed back. “What should I have done, then?! Let myself get arrested again?”

“Maybe you should have!” Harry shot back. “Then we wouldn’t be in this mess right now.” He was fuming. He had not only saved Viktor, he had tried to help him in every way possible, and this was how the man repaid him? “What happened to your whole ‘I don’t mind waiting’ attitude, anyway?!”

Harry glared at Viktor, who looked back at him with the eyes of a beaten dog.

“You really have no idea, do you?” he said softly as he walked out, into the rain.

February 11, 1995
When Viktor had finally made an appearance again Harry was ready to throw something at his head. He had opened the tent’s canvas, shirt soaked with what seemed like never-ending rain, shoulders slumped and face emotionless.

Harry was still fuming. He had gone after Viktor in the rain after a while, but had been unable to find him. Even his tracking charm had done nothing, since he had been out of range.

“Do you have any idea how worried I was?!” Harry demanded. “You could’ve been hurt, or worse.”

Viktor looked up and Harry saw a look of confusion spread over his face. “You vere vorried.” It wasn’t a question.

“Of course I was,” Harry said as he raked his hands through his hair. “I mean…” he paused, trying to find words to explain it. “I am sure you are able to take care of yourself, but we have no idea if Mustow and the others are still after us. And what if the storm had got out of control? I’d have had to leave you behind.”

Viktor smiled and seemed to completely ignore what Harry had just said. “You vere vorried.” He raised a singular eyebrow and Harry blushed.

“Well, yes, I was. I mean, we’re travelling together and all, it’s only logical that I would be.” Harry swallowed the lump in his throat.

“Uh-huh,” Viktor said as he walked towards Harry, who took a couple of steps back, locking himself between the wall and Viktor.

“You vere vorried,” Viktor repeated and he smiled softly. He raised his hand but hesitated for a moment, looking Harry in the eye before gently stroking his cheek. “I vas, too,” he said as he leaned forward.

He stopped when their lips were almost touching, breathing heavily for several long moments. Neither of them moved and Harry felt a blush spread over his face once again.

He could see and smell everything. He could see the lighter spots in Viktor’s dark-brown eyes and the soft shadow of stubble on his cheeks. He smelled the rain on his clothes and his scent... He breathed it in for a moment.

Harry pushed himself off the wall with his right hand and let his left glide towards the back of Viktor’s neck as he leaned forward, standing on the tip of his toes, and kissed him.

oO0~0Oo


“A column of light? You came here... through a column... of light?” Harry said as he raised his eyebrows.

They had been kissing, snogging, nibbling and frotting for hours, in every single corner of every room. They had ended up on Viktor’s bed, sleepy and satisfied, and started talking again. Viktor had asked about Harry, but the topic had soon come back to their situation. Harry had sat up straight in bed when Viktor had told him exactly how he had ended up here.

Viktor nodded. “Yes, it vas very odd.”

“What did it look like?” Harry asked, wide awake again.

“Vell, like I said, it looked like a big column and it was made out of light,” Viktor said. “All colours, too, and they vere going up and down as if they vere following a stream.”

“Then why did you take a Time-Turner with you?” Harry said. He’d believed that Viktor had travelled back using his Time-Turner, but now that he thought about it, Viktor had never mentioned anything of the sort.

“I didn’t,” Viktor answered. “I never even used it. Not that it matters anymore, it is broken.”

“Broken?”

Viktor nodded. “It got warm at really random times, so I put it away.”

Harry scowled and reached for Viktor’s bag, pulled it up on the bed and opened it. He reached inside and felt around until he touched an, as expected, glowing hourglass-shaped object.

Harry hissed as he quickly pulled his hand back out. He got off the bed, grabbed a glove and tried again. As he pulled the Time-Turner out of the bag he kept scowling. Not only was it glowing with heat, it was also emitting a strange, white-golden light. He let it fall on Viktor’s bed and walked to his own rucksack, rummaging through it with his gloved hand until he found his own.

He walked back to the bed and put them next to each other. They both started glowing brighter than they had before and even with his gloved hand Harry couldn’t touch either.

He cursed and waved his hand back and forth angrily. “Are you okay?” Viktor asked.

“Yes, yes, I’m fine,” he answered. “Just a bit hot, s’all.”

Viktor stretched out a hand and let it hover over the Time-Turners. “It feels like fire,” he said in wonder.

Harry just scowled at them. “Oh!” he said, suddenly thinking of something. “Did you ever try yours?”

“My Time-Turner?” Viktor shook his head. “No, I turned the little bud but nothing happened.”

“So you did try it, it just didn’t work,” Harry said.

Viktor shrugged “I guess, but vhat does it matter?”

“Well,” Harry said, “when the Unspeakable I talked about, Unspeakable Gaspar, the one you met before you fell into the column?”

Viktor nodded.

“When Unspeakable Gaspar gave me that Time-Turner he told me to find you, and that I should trust it.” Harry wrapped an extra towel around his hand. “It turned warmer and warmer the closer I came to you, that’s how we were able to find you.” He took a step closer. “What if they were never supposed to work? What if...” He carefully pushed them against each other.

Harry heard a soft click when they connected. He saw the light inside them grow stronger... and stronger, and stronger, and stronger. The glass burst and Viktor made sure to crawl off the bed as fast as he could. Harry shielded his eyes, the light now emitted by the Turners as bright as the midday sun. He heard one, or maybe both of them, break and felt splinters of glass hit him.

“Harry,” Viktor said, “I think ve need to get out of here.”

Harry cast a worried glance at the ball of light hanging above Viktor’s bed. “Wait a minute,” he said. “I want to know what’s going to happen.”

The ball slowly floated up into the middle of the tent and, without a warning, shot up into the air, creating a hole in the tent, still smoldering at the edges. Viktor ran outside and Harry followed him.

“It’s gone,” Viktor said.

“Oh, I’m sure it is...” Harry said and Viktor turned to see what he was looking at, then gasped. Huge clouds as dark as the night were forming high above their clearing. The wind picked up steadily and started ripping away at the tent.

“My vand is still inside!” Viktor yelled as he sprinted in. A huge lightning bolt hit the ground near where Harry was standing and slowly made its way over to the tent, leaving a burnt patch of grass in its wake.

“Viktor!” Harry screamed as he dashed after him and jumped inside the tent.

“IMPEDIMENTA!”

The curse hit the lightning bolt but didn’t seem to do anything. It hit the tent, which caught fire, locking them both inside.

Harry turned around, trying to think of another way out as the bolt was slowly closing in on them. Viktor pulled out his wand, shot several cutting hexes at the canvas of the tent, grabbed Harry’s hand in his and pulled him through the hole.

They sprinted down the hillside, wand in hand, dodging the strange lightning bolts that appeared to be aiming for them. Harry jumped over a tree that was lying on the ground, blocking their path, pulling Viktor along with him. Viktor stumbled and Harry had to pull him back up. He started to panic. The storm was getting worse and the clouds were so dark it felt like it was nighttime. They could barely see where they were running, the only light guiding them that of the lightning bolts, which they really didn’t want to get close to.

They ran on until Harry stepped into water, making him realise they’d arrived at the edge of a body of water - a lake, as they could see when another lightning bolt hit the ground uncomfortably close.

“Can you see the other side?” Harry asked. They couldn’t cross the lake, it would be too dangerous, but maybe they would be able to run around it.

“I can’t,” Viktor said. “Let’s go this way.” He tugged on Harry’s hand and started running again. Sand flew up under their feet and around them as they found their way through the many trees and bushes.

oO0~0Oo


There was a surprised gasp travelling like a wave through the Atrium of the Ministry of Magic as a ball of light shot through it, and down through the floor of one of the lift. Its hinges creaked and the man and woman standing in it jumped out right before the hinges broke and the lift plunged down into the depths. The ball travelled all the way to the Department of Mysteries, burnt its way through the Entrance Chamber and into the empty, cold corridors.

The moment it hit the column it started to crackle, shooting beams of light in every colour through the room, splashing on the walls. Drops and whiffs of it rained down as the Time-Turners on the shelves started rattling and as the light in the column grew stronger and stronger.

People outside of the Ministry screamed and pointed as a huge beam of light shot up out of the building, into the sky.

oO0~0Oo


“Vhere do ve go?!” Viktor screamed over the loud wind and the gushing of rain.

Harry jumped to the side, avoiding another bolt, nearly falling over. “I don’t know! But we have to keep moving!”

The two men sprinted alongside each other, running towards the only safety they knew. The city. They had been in a forest close to London, and it wasn’t long before they had reached the edge. They had to jump back when another bolt prevented them from exiting the forest.

“That wasn’t lightning,” Harry gasped, out of breath.

Viktor turned to answer him but failed as another beam of light hit them both.

The last thing Harry heard as he felt himself being pulled back was Viktor screaming his name.

Book IV
April 22, 2002
The air was knocked out of his lungs as Harry crashed into the ground. He heard Viktor groan next to him as he scrambled back up on his feet, disoriented. The last thing he remembered was getting hit by a ray of light so bright it had completely blinded him, and the feeling of Side-Along Apparition. And now they were... Harry turned around to look at his surroundings. The Ministry. Of all places they could’ve landed, they had landed inside of the Ministry.

“Viktor,” he said, tapping the man still sitting on the ground on his shoulder. “We need to go.” Harry slowly pulled out his wand as people started mumbling at pointing at them. He heard some of the people watching them gasp, and wished he knew what they were gasping at. Him, still the ‘Chosen One’ in 1994, or Viktor, an escaped criminal in 2002. Or maybe they had been moved to another time completely, and they were gasping because two men had appeared in the middle of the Atrium.

He wanted to turn around to get Viktor off the ground so they could get moving again but was stopped by two huge men jumping him. He fell to the ground once more and heard an angry scream behind him - they had caught Viktor, too. Harry kicked back and managed to hit one of the two Aurors, who scrambled back with an angry hiss. Wand still in hand he poked the tip of it in the second man’s eye and pushed him off, too.

He raised his wand as he stood up, pointing it at the struggling trio on the ground not too far away from him. He saw one of the two men raise his fist, about to punch Viktor.

The hex that hit the Auror made him fly a solid couple of metres through the air.

“Let him go,” Harry said, voice raw, as he pointed his wand at the other Auror still on Viktor.

“Let him go!” he demanded again, this time louder.

The man stopped moving when he saw the wand aimed at him.

“Get off him. NOW!” Harry snapped. The man did so, slowly scrambling back and up on his feet, raising his hands.

“Give me your wand,” Harry said as he walked over to Viktor and pulled him off the ground before pushing the man behind himself, never taking his wand off the unknown Auror standing in front of him.

Harry put the Auror’s wand away as Viktor softly bumped his shoulder against Harry’s and whispered his name, nodding towards the right. Harry gave the Auror one last glare before looking into the direction Viktor had indicated and noticed Minister Thicknesse slowly making his way over to them.

He was about to move his wand away from the Auror and to the Minister, when Viktor pulled out his own wand and did it for him.

“Harry, Harry, Harry,” Pius said as he kept closing in on them. “I’d thought better of you, I must say.”

“The feeling is mutual,” Harry said as his gaze shifted between Thicknesse and the Auror, who was backing off.

“Stay where you are!” Harry hissed at him.

“My dear boy, look at what you’re doing,” Pius said, ignoring Harry’s earlier response. “Disarming and hexing my Guards...”

Harry’s nostrils flared at the mention of the three men. They must’ve found their way back into the future, then, too, Harry thought. He wondered how they had done it.

“Helping a fugitive,” Pius continued. “One would almost think you are a threat to the Ministry, too.”

Harry snarled. “So what, you’re going to get rid of me, too?” He breathed angrily through his nose. “You’re going to lock me up in Azkaban, let me get tortured by Dementors before sucking me out of time?” That last part had been a quick guess. Harry had been thinking about what could have happened with the John Does to turn them into John Does and had come to the conclusion that the only way to really do that was to prevent them from existing in the first place.

The Minister’s eyes shifted as he smiled nervously. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, Harry. I’m merely trying to make you see.” Pius spread his arms. “You’re making the wrong choices.”

Thicknesse took one step forward and Harry raised his wand higher, now directly pointing it at the Minister’s face.

“Stay away from us,” he said.

The Minister’s facial expression hardened. “Fine. If that’s how you want it to be.” He looked Harry straight in the eyes as he ordered: “Arrest them!”

Harry swallowed audibly. He knew the number of Aurors in the Auror department and he knew how strong and well trained the Minister’s personal guard was. There was little chance Viktor and he would manage to get out of here unscathed.

He reached behind him and found Viktor’s hand and grabbed it, squeezing it softly. Viktor squeezed back, then let go of Harry’s hand and turned as the crowd behind them split in two.

“I think not, Minister.”

Kingsley Shacklebolt stood, surrounded by Order members and Aurors, facing the Minister, his wand raised.

Harry smiled as relief flooded him. They were going to be okay after all.

He turned back as he saw Corvus spit out an angry hex. He cast a Protego Charm and dodged it, but at that moment all hell broke loose. The Minister raised his wand and started chanting a hex but was hit in the stomach by a beam of white light coming from Kinsley. He was catapulted back and hit the fountain, falling to the ground. The members of Thicknesse’s Guard moved and started throwing curses around, aimed at the Order members, who were moving fast.

Harry focussed on an angry looking Dominique who had closed in on him, blocked a spell and shot one of his own, disarming the man. He shot another one, not as strong as Kingsley’s had been before, but was able to knock him out nonetheless.

He turned and looked for Viktor in the chaos and found him duelling a dark-skinned Guard member not far off. Harry jumped and dodged a curse, sidestepped Jessie, who was fighting Janus, and cast a Stupefy. The man fell, and Harry was about to make his way over to Viktor when he heard Arthur Weasley call out for him. “Harry! Get out of here, get Viktor to safety, we will settle this!”

He looked at Mister Weasley who had to quickly turn, bend and dodge as he was attacked by two different Aurors at once.

“Go, Harry!” he yelled over his shoulder and cast a red beam of light, hitting one of the two.

Harry looked at Viktor, grabbed his hand once more and pulled him towards one of the large fireplaces of the Atrium. They sprinted, dodging flying curses and hexes, but made it to one of the exits in one piece. Harry jumped in and pulled Viktor with him, screaming the address of the Order of the Phoenix.

They were shot out of the fireplace and landed on the ground. Harry sighed and rubbed his knees as he got up; he was getting real tired of falling down all the time.

“Vere are ve?” Viktor asked him as he, too, got up.

“Order of the Phoenix’ headquarters,” Harry said as he took of his jacket and threw it on one of the kitchen chairs.

“Order of the Phoenix?” Viktor asked as he looked around. “Vat is the Order of the Phoenix?”

“C’mon,” Harry answered and made his way into the sitting room. Viktor followed him. “Sit,” he said and Viktor sat on the couch. Harry sat down next to him and leaned back, sighing happily at the softness of the couch. Oh, it had been so, so long.

“The Order of the Phoenix,” he started, “is a group of people, founded by Albus Dumbledore during the first war...”

oO0~0Oo


“How did you know where we were?” Harry asked. “That couldn’t have been just a coincidence...” Harry had been talking about the Order of the Phoenix with Viktor when they had heard the others come back. Kingsley had been hurt, so they had moved back into the kitchen.

“It wasn’t,” Kingsley answered. He was holding a pack of ice against his cheek, trying to prevent it from
swelling up. “We received an odd package at the Ministry a couple of hours after you had left.” He groaned softly as he pushed harder on the ice. “It contained a Time-Turner. We tried using it, but,-”

“It didn’t vork,” Viktor butted in.

Kingsley looked at him, not answering and Viktor cleared his throat. “It is because Harry and I both got one, too, and they didn’t vork either.”

Harry nodded. “The only thing they did was glow when we got near each other.”

“Ours glowed,” Hestia said. “Then it shot up and into the fireplace, leaving the connection with the Ministry open and leading us to you.”

Harry furrowed his brow.

“I think we all find it equally strange.” Hank nodded as he looked at Harry’s facial expression.

“So what happened to the Minister?” Harry changed the subject, deciding it was enough for now.

“Arthur is still at the Ministry with some of the Aurors who are on our side,” Kingsley said. “We have taken over, for now, and will decide later what the appropriate steps are.”

May 28, 2002
Harry put down the knife he had been cutting the vegetables with and lit a small fire with his wand on the stove. He and Viktor had moved to stay at Harry’s place on advice of the Order, hiding from the press and chaos of the outside world.

The first thing the Order had done was put Kingsley in the position of Minister of Magic. He had issued an order to empty the Azkaban prison of any people charged with being an enemy of the country, and to get rid of the Dementors as fast as possible. The old Minister had been questioned and after thorough interrogation had confessed to his hatred for pure-bloods. Obviously, there had been the necessary steps and so Pius Thicknesse had been put in the tiniest, darkest cell of Azkaban, awaiting his trial.

Harry slowly let the cut vegetables slide off the cutting board and into the hot oil of the pan. They started sizzling immediately.

He turned as he heard the heavy footsteps of Viktor come down the stairs and immediately got butterflies in his stomach. It had been one thing to snog around in a tent, on the run from time, another thing to share a bed and live in the same house. Harry didn’t know what would happen once the Wizarding world had calmed down again and right now, he really didn’t want to know. He just wanted to enjoy his time together with Viktor.

He was still surprised how easy, relatively speaking, things had gone after they had got back to 2002. There had been no awkward silences, no weird looks or unspoken words. Instead, they would cuddle while watching a film on Harry’s telly, which Viktor had found extremely extraordinary. He had circled the device, tapping it with his wand, looking confused and making Harry laugh. They had talked and sat in the early spring sun.

Viktor had been told the fate two of his teammates had suffered, and had needed to mourn them, which had brought them even closer together. He would tell stories about their Quidditch matches and how they had worked together. What kind of people they had been, how he had laughed and shared good times with them. Viktor had cried. He had cursed the world and the unfairness of it. He had screamed. He had hugged Harry close and just stood there, breathing in his scent.

The storms had disappeared. It had taken some weeks, but now that no Time-Turners or any other device meddling with time were in use anymore, nature had calmed down.

Harry smiled at the dark man as he stepped into the kitchen. Viktor walked up to him and stood behind him, hands around his waist. He softly kissed his neck and Harry let his head fall back.

“Smells nice,” he heard Viktor say.

“Thanks, it’s all fresh,” he answered and sighed happily as the other man started to nibble softly.

“I vasn’t talking about the food,” he heard and felt Viktor mumble against his throat. A wide grin spread over his face as he turned around and kissed the man softly on his lips.

“Had a nice nap?” he asked.

Viktor hummed in confirmation and raked a hand through Harry’s hair, making it stick up.

“I have been thinking,” he said, before looking away from Harry’s hair and into his eyes. Harry looked up, back at the man, but had to turn back around when he heard his food sizzle loudly.

“About vhat happened,” Viktor said and leaned against the counter, watching Harry stir and apply seasoning. “I vould like to go and speak to the old man.”

“Unspeakable Gaspar?” Harry asked as he turned the fire down.

Viktor nodded. “I vant to understand.”

oO0~0Oo


It was late when Harry and Viktor walked into the Ministry, towards the lifts. Harry had sent Kingsley a message asking permission to talk to Unspeakable Gaspar, who had been notified of their visit. Upon arrival, the two men had been told the man in question was down in the Department of Mysteries.

Harry pressed the lift button and felt it go down slowly. Neither of them spoke. Not when the doors opened, not when they walked through the long corridor leading up to the single black door, not when they stepped through and waited for the room to stop spinning. They didn’t even say anything when one of the doors opened by itself, letting them through.

They were both thinking of what to ask the old man and about the answers they might be given. Harry, as much as he wanted an explanation, was afraid he might not like them at all.

Unspeakable Gaspar turned when they entered through the amazingly large door. The Auror who had guided them there nodded to them once, turned around and left, leaving them alone.

“I had expected you sooner,” Gaspar said and smiled.

Harry looked around himself. The room looked sombre. The shelves on the walls were empty and there was a huge open space in the middle of it, without anything there. He wondered what had happened to the column Viktor had told him about.

“Vhy 1994?” The man turned from looking at Harry and was now looking at Viktor. “Vhat did I have to do in 1994 that vas so important?”

Unspeakable Gaspar frowned, then answered. “I don’t know why it sent you to 1994, nor why it led you, specifically, here. I guess only Time could answer that question, but alas.” He raised one arm and held it up in the direction of the empty space, as if he was trying to imply Time being gone.

“I suppose,” Gaspar continued, “that all things have a beginning and an end, even something as strong and massive as Time Magic.” He smiled at the two men.

“I am afraid I cannot answer any of the questions you have considering your purpose, but I can tell you this: what had to happen, happened. Time does not make mistakes.”

Viktor nodded, looking somewhat defeated.

The Unspeakable walked up to him and rested a hand on his shoulder, making Viktor look up at him. “You have done something extraordinary, my boy.” Viktor smiled a bit.

“Why did you give us the Time-Turners?” Harry asked all of a sudden. “How did you know I would help him?”

Gaspar looked back at Harry. “I knew because I had been shown, I had seen.”

Harry was confused. Seen how? He was about to ask when Viktor asked the man another question.

“Vhat happened to the prisoners?”

The look on Maximus’ face was solemn. “They are gone, I’m afraid. Taken out of time into nothing, victims of the hatred of one man.” He paused. “It sounds oddly familiar, don’t you think?” His gaze rested on Harry’s.

Gaspar was about to walk away, but turned back around one last time. “I know both of you had hoped for more answers, but I am sorry, I do not have them.”

“Where will you go?” Harry had no idea why he had asked that question, it had just felt right.

The old man smiled. “As with so many things, my time has come to move on. I am tired.” He then turned and left the room.

It would be the last time anybody would see the old Unspeakable.

July 2, 2002
They hugged once more, holding tightly onto each other, hesitant to let go. Viktor had decided to go back to his team, at least for now. They would have a month, separated from each other, to think about what it was they wanted to do.

Viktor pulled back slightly and kissed Harry, softly tracing his fingers alongside the shorter man’s jaw. “You need to shave,” he said.

Harry felt the man’s lips move against his and smiled. “Nah, you like it that way,” he said before pushing up, standing on his toes, deepening the kiss.

They just stood there, kissing and touching each other, delaying what could possibly be a final goodbye.

“I have to go,” Viktor said at last and Harry nodded. “Don’t be sad,” he said, pulling Harry’s head up by his chin. “Ve vill see each other again.”

He reached inside his shirt and pulled out a single, tiny golden necklace, which he took off and put around Harry’s neck.

“I got it to remember a person I cared for a lot,” Viktor said and he smiled. “Now I vill give it to you, so you vill be able to remember me, too.”

Harry smiled as he touched the necklace. “Thank you.”

“Don’t mention it,” Viktor said as touched Harry’s cheek one more time, turned and left.

As Harry walked up the steps he thought the house had never felt as cold as it did right then.

August 17, 2002
A month had passed and Harry hadn’t heard a word from the man he thought had cared for him the same way he did. Harry had cursed himself, kicked his wall in anger and cried. It always ended the same way. They would think they liked him, not for who he was, but for who they thought he was. When he turned out not to be as exciting and exotic as they had pictured him to be, they left. They always left.

He walked down the stairs and opened the Prophet of that day. It had a picture of him in it, of Viktor, after another successful match. Harry read the interview attached to the picture.

The moment he read it his eyes went wide. He stood up so fast he knocked over his chair, grabbed his wand and Disapparated.

Q: Is there anybody special out there?
A: No. There was, but I don’t think he wants to be with me anymore


The words spun through his head as he walked over the Quidditch Pitch. He had Apparated to where the Prophet had said Viktor would be training and, being Harry Potter, he had been let in without another question. Just this once Harry didn’t curse his fame.

The pitch had been empty, but Harry had spotted the changing rooms on the other side of it and had made his way over to them. When he was about halfway one of the doors opened and seven men came walking out. Harry was still too far away to see them clearly, but he recognised the bulkiness that was Viktor right away. He saw one of Viktor’s teammates tap him on the shoulder and point towards where Harry was standing. He saw the man turn and stop as they stared at each other, neither of them moving.

Another of Viktor’s teammates gave him what looked like a soft push and Viktor seemed to stumble forward a couple of steps. He turned around and Harry could imagine the glare he would give them. It had been meant for him more often than he would like to admit during their stay in 1994 and 1995.

Harry got a bit nervous as Viktor started to walk towards him in earnest. What if he had misinterpreted the words? What if the interviewer had exaggerated? Or worse, what if Viktor hadn’t meant Harry?

Viktor stopped in front of him and looked at Harry, a puzzled look on his face. “Hello,” he said as Harry nervously rubbed the back of his neck.

“Hi,” Harry said back, rather softly. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Hi.”

“You could have called,” Viktor said and Harry looked up. He had been staring at his feet without realising it.

As he did so, Viktor took a solid step forward, let his hand slide in Harry’s hair and kissed him in one fluent movement.

Harry immediately pushed back, hungry and desperate for more. His arms slid over Viktor’s broad shoulders as he deepened the kiss. Harry heard random voices cheer and shout at them as they stood there, in the middle of the Quidditch pitch, kissing as if their lives depended on it.

Harry stepped back as he heard the team move towards the field. “You could have called,” Harry breathed.

Viktor looked at him, a small smile gracing his features. “I thought I vould give you some space, to think. I didn’t vant to force anything.”

“Force?” Harry nearly choked out. “I thought you had forgotten about me! I thought you had left!!”

“Left?” Viktor said. “Why would I leave you?” He paused. “I love you.”

31 July, 2005
The room was bustling with people as Harry walked in. He was immediately greeted by Viktor, who gave him a quick peck on the lips, and Hermione and Ron, who both hugged him tightly.

“Happy birthday, Harry,” Hermione said as she handed him his gift. “This one is from Ron and me.”

Harry unwrapped it and smiled as he saw an antique pocket watch.

“It’s so you’ll never lose track of ‘time’ again,” Hermione said with a wink.

“Happy birthday, mate,” Ron said. “I hope you like it.”

“I love it,” Harry said, grinning wider. He took the pocket watch out of its box and put it in one of his trouser pockets.

oO0~0Oo


Harry had talked to every single person in the room, and talked to them again. Everybody he cared for was there, even his former Auror team, Jessie, Caroline and Hank. He turned when he heard his boyfriend tap a glass with his knife and clear his throat to gather attention.

“Harry,” he said, “can I have your vand for a moment?”

Harry, confused, walked over to where Viktor was standing and handed him his wand. Viktor took it and twisted the golden ring still on it, sliding it off, and gave the wand back to Harry.

Harry tucked it away again, his eyes going wide when he saw his boyfriend getting down on one knee, the golden glint of the ring sparkling in Viktor’s hand.

THE END



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