Title: Future’s Past (Graphics Version) – Prologue
Series: The Future Is My Past; The Past Is My Future
Warnings/Notes: See the Series or Story page for all notes and warnings.
August 2, 2007
Ministry of Magic
There were a dozen wizards and witches discussing her like a problem to be solved and it was irritating.
“I’m sure Ianthe will be quite comfortable with the Weasleys. This is a difficult time, and the comfort of friends is important,” Albus Dumbledore of the many names and titles twinkled.
“With all respect,” Lucius Malfoy said with anything but, “she will be better served in a household which can look after her interests. A witch of some means and of marriageable age is uniquely vulnerable.”
“Says the fox of the hen,” Amelia Bones snapped. “Your only interest is in getting ahold of the Black Trust and, if you can, marrying your son into it and the Ravensmoor title.”
“My wife and son are Blacks.”
“And not eligible to inherit the titles or entailed properties as they belong to another House. No doubt you intend to see one of your grandchildren as the next Lord Black, by hook or by crook!”
Rufus Scrimgeour, the current Minister, glared at Malfoy, then eyed Dumbledore balefully. “He’s not the only one who wants to control the girl.” He turned a stare that he probably believed was intimidating on Bones. “She must go somewhere safe, Madam; the girl needs protecting.”
Ianthe managed, barely, from drawing her wand when he referred to her as ‘girl’. Idly, she plotted how best to ruin his political career and which untraceable hexes would most humiliate him. Severe flatulence was winning so far. She’d save rapid hair loss — full body — for Malfoy. The list of spells she’d like to curse Dumbledore with was a long-running effort. So far it took up two feet of parchment, and was a group effort between her and Siri…
Not now. Not here.
The Minister’s office and it’s occupants had descended once more into arguing over each other. Bones, the current DMLE Head, wanted Ianthe under Auror guard while they made sure there were no more Death Eaters lurking, looking for revenge. Considering there was one in the room with them, it was a legitimate concern. But the Ministry had never yet managed to deal effectively with the Death Eaters — as proved by the ‘innocent’ one in the room, meddling in ministry business again — and the second downfall of Voldemort made that no more likely than the first had. Dumbledore wanted what he always had — control of her. Malfoy wanted her vaults; Scrimgeour wanted neither man to have anything they wanted, ever, and would be satisfied with anything that made them unhappy. Augusta Longbottom wanted them all to the devil and wouldn’t settle for anything less than Ianthe in a noble household under the care of a proper witch. Three Ministry wizards and a witch who hadn’t bothered to introduce themselves weighed in as well. Minerva McGonagall sat stiff-backed and glaring at all of them.
They’d been talking — bickering — for an hour, and not once asked her opinion or even spoken to her except to offer her tea. The grownups, talking about a little girl they needed to deal with.
Voldemort was dead. The masses were already celebrating his defeat — and just like last time, they had already forgotten the cost.
Ianthe Eleanor Potter set her teacup down with a loud click. No one heard it, or the sound of her temper breaking. She was done.
Silence fell, and office looked at her, surprised. Some of them appeared to have actually forgotten she was there. “I will thank you all to mind your own business, not mine.”
“I beg your pardon,” Malfoy demanded.
A nameless wizard blustered, “Mind your manners, girl!”
“I have not given you leave to speak to me; nor does anyone in this room have the right to decide anything on my behalf. No!” she snapped before several open mouths could speak. “No one here is a relative of mine. Not one of you is in the position to legally decide anything on my behalf. Besides the simple fact that I am seventeen and of age,” she stressed, “No one here is in a position to dictate to the House and estate of a noble Peer. I outrank every one of you.”
“Dear girl — “
“I am not your dear anything, Headmaster, and my name is Lady Potter or Viscountess Glamorgan. This is not Hogwarts and school is not in session.” She glared at the Ministry employees. “As for the lot of you — have you forgotten the last time the Ministry overstepped itself?”
They all winced. In her first year, Sirius had learned just how much time had passed from a Daily Prophet discarded by then-Minister Fudge. The announcement that the Girl-Who-Lived had entered Hogwarts had seen her godfather do the impossible and escape Azkaban. Even as the Ministry scrambled a manhunt — complete with Dementors — and the public panicked, Sirius had sought Sanctuary with the Goblin Horde and set out to use years of accumulated favors, debts and blackmail to get a trial before a full Wizengamot. The innocence of Lord Black, and the fact that a Peer had been imprisoned without even a hearing, had sparked a furor around the world. The ensuing investigations by the ICW, World Court, the Wizard’s Council and the Crown had seen nearly half the Ministry fired for everything to lack of qualifications to corruption. Two dozen people had been imprisoned.
“When my parents died, their will and wishes were ignored and overlooked. My godfather learned from what happened then. Ragnok himself witnessed his will and was made executor. Please do continue to court war with the Horde.” Ianthe stood, shaking the skirt of her robe straight. “I am going home. None of you are welcome to follow me.”
“Lady Potter, you need protection.”
“Where was your protection yesterday?” she hissed, enraged. Two of the bespelled windows cracked. “Where were the auror’s when my godfather died doing what the Ministry and Albus-fucking-Dumbledore had decades to do — kill Tom Riddle. The Ministry is utterly useless and alway has been. It’s a reflection of Wizarding Britain — corrupt, incompetent, ignorant, and more interested in appearance than action. The next person to speak to me,” Ianthe continued as several people looked to do so, “will loose their tongue.”
The Floo sparked green and ejected a fierce looking Goblin. He looked about the room and smiled, baring all his teeth. “I see.”
“Ironfist, I’m going home. Please explain to these people how they’ve managed to irritate the Chieftain of the Horde today by not immediately executing Lord Black’s will.”
The door closed behind her, and Ianthe’s grip over her magic faltered. She ignored the breaking glass, shattered lights, and cracking plaster that followed in her wake as she made for the library of her godfather’s renovated home. The wards locked down tightly; not even Remus, keyed into them, could enter.
Her eyes were dry. Her magic flared around her, and the air held the taste of tears she didn’t shed.
Dobby and Winky appeared, wringing hands and ears. “Lady Ianthe… “
“Some people,” she mused aloud, “would say that one man dying to end a dark lord is acceptable.” The book she sought was exactly where she remembered. Hexes weren’t the only thing she had spent time planning today.
“Lord Black would be being happy Lady Ianthe is safe,” Dobby said.
“Winky, Dobby, make sure the ritual room is pristine, please.”
“What is Lady Ianthe planning on doing?”
“Offering my magic and life in exchange for the chance to reorder time.”
Dobby tugged an ear. “Dobby is being afraid of that,” and popped away.
Winky huffed. “Lady is having her tea first.
It was an old ritual, rarely used despite how powerful it was. Ianthe had asked Sirius why when she’d first found it.
“Well, for one thing you intention must be pure and in line with the sacrificial aspect of the ritual,” Sirius said dryly. “And since many people willing to offer their magic for a single moment are in a rather vengeful frame of mind, it has something of a reputation.”
“You can’t wish someone dead then.”
“The last person to try wished that a man he was feuding with had never been born. All that was left of him was his wand and a bloody smear.”
“Ouch.” She tapped a finger on the book. “So I couldn’t use it against Riddle.”
Sirius shook his head. “The only way magic of this kind could be used against him is if you wished he’d never become Voldemort. You’d have to want him to have had changed circumstances, such that he never walk such a dark path. You don’t have it in you to wish him well.” Grey eyes gazed at her solemnly. “Neither of us do. We want him to pay for all he’s done.”
“I wish him dead.” Ianthe admitted. “I can’t even pity the boy he was once. His circumstances weren’t great, but they hardly justified even the least of his actions. Besides, considering the things he did as a child, such a wish might come to nothing. He was tormenting other children at seven. Muggles now would label him a sociopath.”
“True enough.” Sirius paged through the ritual again. “No, I doubt this is of any use to us. The main thing to consider with these kind of ritual magic is that you have very little control.” Seeing her confusion, he elaborated. “Most modern ritual magic is very regimented. They’re also less powerful. You either succeed, or you don’t. Old magicks like this are one part offering, one part wish, and one part faith. They leave the mechanism and the result up to Lady Magic and the gods. They judge your intentions, yes, but they also choose the how of the outcome.”
“‘You can’t always get what you want’,” she quoted.
“‘You just might find you get what you need’,” Sirius finished with a laugh. “Exactly.”
Three days after Ianthe’s godfather allowed the Dark Wanker’s wraith to possess him and killed the both of them with Fiendfyre, she stood in the heavily fortified ritual room of Grimmauld Place. She’d spent her time preparing for the ritual and writing a letter to leave behind in case she failed. Well, it had started as a letter but had become something of a manifesto of the countless faults of the Ministry, Magical Britain, and a laundry list of the people she’d as soon curse as look at and why. If she did end up as a bloodied smear, she wanted to leave behind one more ‘fuck you’ to the wizarding world.
“Mother Magic, bless your child. You have seen my trials and my triumphs; granted me victory, wisdom, and luck. You have given me your Gift, and I have tried to honor it. I ask you to guide me, to let me choose the right path.”
Ianthe knelt in the circle she’d cast in salt and magic which contained nothing but a lethally sharp blade. There was a faint prickle along her skin, a gentle building of power. It would smite her like the wrath of the Old Ones if she erred.
“My father offered his life for those he loved. My mother offered her own blood to shield mine. My godfather offered his soul to destroy his enemy’s. I do the same, with a willing heart.” The air weighed down on her like a building storm. “I will walk the path my kin have followed and die for what I believe is right, and for those I love.”
She raised the blade. “I offer all I am — body, blood, magic and soul — for a single boon. Unmake me and all I am for a single moment in time remade.” She’d chosen carefully; chosen just one thing that might have the repercussions she hoped. All Sirius’s stories and family history, all she’s read on Voldemort’s first rise, of the Ministry’s decline into corruption. A single moment that might change all that came after.
“Take all I have and all I am — and let Orion Arcturus Black, Duke of Ravensmoor, survive his wife’s attempt to murder him.”
“As I will, so mote it be.”
Ianthe released the knife hilt; it drove through the air and straight through her heart.
“You’ve always been terribly dramatic.”