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Rachel lead the way, and went through what she thought was the door to the correct corridor. The pair found themselves in a small room.
“Oops, wrong turn,” Rachel quipped, embarrassed. “This castle is so huge.”
“What is this place?” Lily asked, glancing around the dim room.
“An old classroom?” Rachel guessed, running her fingers along one wall to find huge clumps of dust.
“There’s no windows though,” Lily raised her eyebrows at Rachel, and they both giggled nervously. “And it’s so cold.”
“Maybe it’s cursed and that’s why they abandoned it,” Rachel said, pulling her fingers away from the wall as though she’d had an electric shock. “I think we should leave.”
“How can a whole room be cursed?” Lily asked, curious as to whether it was even possible, and not wanting to leave just yet.
“You never know what things may be cursed,” Rachel shrugged.
“But what if we never find it again?”
“Who cares? Hogwarts is probably filled to the brim with creepy, old, abandoned, haunted and dusty rooms. Plenty more where this came from,” she shuddered. “Come on, let’s go.”
They headed back to the door, which was ornate looking, when suddenly Lily cried out and bent down.
“What? What’s wrong?” Rachel asked, her heart beating faster as she started to panic. She felt a strong urge to leave the room and shut Lily inside it with whatever dark curses there were. Shaking her head to clear the unwelcome thought she ran over to her best friend.
“Nothing, nothing, calm down,” Lily answered, waving her hand. “I just noticed something gleaming from the floor.”
“That doesn’t sound good,” Rachel’s voice was higher than normal as her heartbeat pounded. She imagined the sound was so loud it was echoing around the room.
“Jeez, would you calm done? It’s just a necklace or something,” Lily held up the chain with the small pendant to show Rachel.
Rachel forced herself to take several deep breaths. She wasn’t usually so jittery, but her excitement to get to Hogwarts and explore had suddenly turned into fear of the mysterious, huge, unsafe castle. (She added unsafe to the list in her thoughts as she pictured the small, concerned crowd at the side of the lake and remembered the tragedy that had happened earlier.)
“It’s a time turner,” Lily said suddenly, her face lighting up with a huge grin.
“Really?” Rachel forgot her fears and leaned in closer, smiling as well. “And it was here in Hogwarts the whole time? That’s insane; they’re supposed to have been destroyed since before I was born!”
“I know, my parents were the ones that destroyed them,” Lily shook her head. “Small world.”
“Coincidence. Not small world. I think,” Rachel shrugged.
“Whatever,” Lily said, slipping the time turner over her head. Suddenly she jumped. “Oh my God, I could save Scorpius! I just have to go back in time and stop him from going in the lake!”
Rachel suddenly became sceptical.
“Are you sure you can? What if you go back thousands of years accidentally? What if the time turners cursed?” Suddenly she gasped. “What if fate or something makes you die in his place?”
“Yeah, something like that happened to me once,” Lily mumbled, not looking so certain of herself anymore.
“Never mind. Um, stay here. We don’t want to lose the room. I’ll go and get a professor or something,” with that, she headed to the door. “I’ll be back in a few minutes, okay?”
“Um, okay,” Rachel said, not sure about being left alone in the room, but not wanting to look cowardly, especially after the way she had panicked earlier.
Lily darted out the room, trying to get her bearings. She glanced at the paintings and tapestries and coats of arms, and had just decided that she was on the fifth floor, when she saw something that made her heart jump into her throat.
It was herself. Crouched behind a small statue, staring intently at her. The other Lily waved her hands and mouthed ‘go’. Lily didn’t hesitate, if she couldn’t trust herself, who could she trust? She spun the time turner half way around, and suddenly fell back to the wall as she found herself surrounded by people. No one seemed to have noticed her sudden appearance.
She took a second to take a breath, then ran towards the lake.
Scorpius was standing, shirtless, next to a large tree. He folded his shirt and placed it on top of his folded cloak, next to his book bag at the base of the tree. As he leaned over Lily noticed the patterns on his back caused by the light filtering through the trees leaves. She felt a sudden pang of grief, knowing his untimely death was about to happen, and ran up to him, determined to stop it.
“What are you doing?” She asked, walking over to him. He looked surprised to see her. She had never spoken to him before. Of course he knew who she was but still had never paid much attention to her.
“Thought I’d go for a dip while it’s still so hot,” he said in a cold voice, still clearly confused as to why she had approached him.
“You can’t go swimming in the lake, its poison!” She cried out, getting an incredulous look from Scorpius.
“The algae, it’ll give you a terrible rash, they told us about in Herbology,” she improvised.
“What algae?” Scorpius peered at the clear, clean looking lake.
“It’s below the surface.”
“Hm, whatever,” he mumbled, pulling his shirt back on and heading back up to the castle.
Lily leaned against a tree and took several deep breaths. She felt like she’d run a mile, adrenaline was pumping through her body. She didn’t know it at the time, but it was the typical result of knowing you’ve saved someone’s life. After a moment she drummed her hands slightly against the tree she was leaning on and forced herself to stand up. She squared her shoulders, and walked back to the mysterious room to meet Rachel. She found it very weird, looking around at all the bright, happy faces of the students running around, enjoying the last drops of the summer sun, when just an hour ago they’d been stricken with shock and horror at Scorpius’ drowning.
Lily shook her head. It wasn’t an hour ago, it was now. An hour ago they’d been in their classes.
she thought. I’m already completely confused.
She resolved it was easier just to not think about it.
She started heading up slowly to the castle, then her heart jolted as she realised she was running out of time. She wasn’t sure how time turner’s worked but she thought she’d better get back to where she had been when she’d turned back time.
She ran, heart pounding, up to where the door was, just in time to see herself standing there with the time turner, looking at it curiously, and then looking around the corridor. Lily started to worry, there wasn’t going to be much time. Suddenly, the past-Lily spotted her, and stared. Lily gestured wildly, and mouthed ‘go!’. Suddenly the past Lily was turning the time turner, and disappeared.
Lily went back into the secret room. Rachel was just about to come out of the door, so they both left, and the door disappeared behind them.
“You weren’t gone long,” Rachel commented.
“Wasn’t I?” Lily closed her eyes tightly, suddenly very confused.
“No, like, thirty seconds!” Rachel said as though it was obvious. “What’s up? Did you change your mind about finding a professor?”
“It’s impossible to explain everything that just happened,” she said, shaking her head, and running one finger along the time turner’s chain.
“You went back in time and saved Scorpius’ life, didn’t you?” Rachel spoke as though it were a statement, not a question.
“Well I guess I don’t need to explain, seeing as you just did.”
“Do you think...that was the best idea?” Rachel asked gently.
“I think it’s what my mum would have done.”
Rachel nodded. It was a good enough explanation for her. They continued walking up the corridor, students milling around them, all heading back in as the evening grew darker. Suddenly one particular student, who was striding down the stone hallway, caught their eye.
Scorpius Malfoy walked right past them down the corridor, disappearing into doorways which lead to the grand staircase. Lily and Rachel stopped where they were and watched him close the doors behind him.
“Dead man walking,” breathed Rachel, running her hands through her hair. “That’s got to be the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“Yeah,” Lily mumbled, not looking up. She was looking at the time turner secreted in the palm of her hand.
“What are you going to do with it?” Rachel asked her, looking at the tiny, delicate time turner as though it was a bomb.
“I don’t know,” Lily answered honestly.
“Do you have any idea how much I love you?” Albus asked, kissing Rachel’s neck. Rachel smiled and ran her hand over his thick black hair.
“I didn’t know you loved me,” she said evenly. Albus laughed.
“Yeah, right,” he said, pulling back to study her face. He ran his finger tips over her mouth. “I do love you. But I don’t have the advantage you do. I don’t know if you love me?”
“I told you, I don’t listen in on your thoughts anymore,” she kissed him swiftly. “And I love you, too.”
“Good,” he said smoothly, smiling at her widely. “That’s a relief.”
Lily forced her eyes open, not wanting to see anymore. The room was lit with a pinkish light – the sun had just started to rise. She was glad she hadn’t had a violent dream of Albus murdering James again – which, she told herself forcefully, was a prediction of Albus and James faking a duel for some reason. However, the thought of Albus and Rachel together was just as absurd – they hadn’t even met, not really. Certain that some day they would be in love, Lily wondered how on earth it would come to be.
“Well, this will be an entertaining year,” she mumbled to herself.
“Why?” Asked Rachel, who was getting dressed nearby.
Rachel felt curious and wanted to read Lily’s mind but it was easy for her to resist. She still firmly believed that reading minds was wrong and that she shouldn’t do it unless absolutely necessary. Although, even as that thought hit her, she let her mind search for Albus’s thoughts. He was asleep with no dreams.
“Hello? Earth to Rachel? Where’s your mind, a million miles away?” Lily stretched and got out of bed slowly.
“No, just right next door,” Rachel answered under her breath.
“Sometimes you drift off you know, like your mind really is somewhere else,” Lily said carefully. Rachel shrugged.
“I’m just vague, I guess,” Rachel turned away from her best friend and exhaled, looking up to the ceiling. What the hell am I doing?
She thought. She shook her head as though she could shake the desire to listen to Albus’s mind out of her ears.
“I’ve got a free period first up,” Lily said brightly, pulling herself out of bed.
“I’ve got Divination,” Rachel shrugged. “Wish we could hang though.”
“Yeah, me too, but I thought I might go to the library and look up, you know, travel,”
she winked. “As in the time kind? Just to try to get my head around what happened yesterday afternoon.”
Rachel nodded as she picked up her bag and headed out.
“Tell me what you find out,” she called over her shoulder.
Lily browsed through the tall shelves of the nearly empty library, not able to find anything on time travel. She went to the wide front desk and looked it up in the index. There were severel books in the restricted section. The notation next to them in the library index said ‘moved due to being outdated’.
“Outdated,” Lily whispered to herself. “I guess because time travel isn’t possible anymore.”
She smiled as she thought of the time turner upstairs in her trunk and headed to the iron gate that barred the way to the restricted section.
The gate to the restricted section was not able to be opened by the usual unlocking spells. Keys were fitted to it, and charms put upon them. Few people had keys to the restricted section, Lily, in being one of the most diligent students at Hogwarts, was one of them.
Pulling the medium sized key from her pocket, she held it in front of the keyhole and let go. It hovered in the air for a moment, before moving forward and turning counter clockwise slowly. With a small click, the door opened and the key then floated back out of the lock. With a quick, guilty look over her shoulder – although she was doing nothing wrong – she headed in.
Lily found the most recently written text on time travel. . The book had been published before the time turners had all been destroyed at the Ministry – though, she figured she needed one in which they assumed time turners were still around. After all, she thought, they were. Well, at least one was. She turned to the index of the enormous volume .It was sorted into a list of questions, with the chapter number in which supposedly the answer to the question was. ‘Why don’t we go back in time to save people’s lives?’ was one of the questions – Lily turned to the chapter number marked next to it, twenty seven.
Chapter Twenty Seven - Time Travel Philosophy and Experiments (Understanding Deeper Magic)
What if I went back in time and killed my grandfather? Would I stop existing? My answer would be to try it and see. In theory, you will not stop existing. If you travelled back in time far enough to kill your grandfather before he sired your parent (which, by the way, is considered way too far back in time by the Ministry, that is, beyond the reasonable need for the manipulation of time and is illegal – but, in all honesty, how would they even catch you?) you would still be living in that time period for the rest of your life. You cannot travel forward in time with a time turner, only backward. If you chose, nobly, not to kill anyone, you probably wouldn’t live long enough to see yourself as a baby – though you may meet your parents. Perhaps even as children. What would happen if you adopted a parent and raised it? Would it change how they raised you, change your personality? Would it change who one of your parents was? Wouldn’t that create some sort of horrible time loop messiness?
Again, the Ministry has strong limits on legal time travel – Ministry issued time turners have a limit of 24 hours backwards travelling on them. Just to avoid such unpleasantness.
To understand time travel, one must take Magical Theory during their magical education and focus their studies on the time travel module, spending hundreds of hours, using countless resources (no doubt this book included) to write their thesis. Unless it becomes illegalised in the future (which many parties are trying to achieve relentlessly) you’ll probably spend quite a bit of time nipping back a few hours and documenting what happens. Although we must keep in mind that great quote from Ametta Smoot, the philosopher of intricate magic – ‘Time travel is not understandable, nor will it ever be. A new logic must be created simply to explain its consequences, and its existence will remain unexplained eternally. Therefore, I must conclude that travelling through time is not something to be understood, it is just something to accept.’ Many texts leave out the next line of his essay on time travel – ‘And, in my personal opinion, it is something to be avoided, for terrible evils and accidents have happened due to its severity of oddness.’
That’s certainly true. There are many, many people that have killed themselves by using a time turner without proper planning or experience – although that is not my focus in this chapter.
What about going back in time to save someone’s life? This is illegal, by order of the Ministry, and apparently it was made illegal after they did ‘research’, which they lovingly have not released the details of. If it were not illegal, I suppose no one would ever die. Someone would gallantly travel back and save them in the nick of time. And no one ever dying is an unnatural concept. But what would happen if you did this? I can only speculate.
Did the person ever really die? Well, of course they did, even though they do not know it. You would remember their death, it would have happened in your past and it certainly, would have happened. However, on going back in time to save this person’s life, their death no longer happens.
So, it happened, however, you have made changes so it didn’t happen. This is where Smoot’s ‘You will never understand it, just deal with it’ train of thought comes in. It is a complete paradox, and yet, speculative thinking must say it exists. What would the consequences be? If you saw them die, then went back and saved them, would you be able to remember their death? Yes. Would you be able to see thestrals? Yes. (Presumably – although, magic can surprise you.) Would the people who first witnessed the death, but now due to the changes made, no longer witnessed the death, see the thestral? No. They would have no recollection of seeing the death, and therefore would not be able to see them. Their past has completely changed, yours hasn’t. They witnessed the death in your past, but not in their past. And with time travel, it is our individual timelines which affect us.
What consequences would it have for the victim (well, the former victim)? My speculation (and it is, of course speculation, as this kind of event has never been documented) would be that they would have no changes apparent to them. You would know they were dead and now you have saved their life – they would be none the wiser (if you saved their life subtly) or feeling very lucky (if you say, pushed them out of the path of a killing curse). I doubt they would have any ‘feeling’ that something odd had happened. Though, of course, we don’t know for sure. Perhaps they would turn into a zombie. As I said before, magic can surprise you.
Now – for a bit more critical thinking – say you ate a huge amount of food, whipped out your time turner, went back in time and took the food away from yourself (whether secretly, or by saying ‘oh hi’ and having a chat with yourself as you did it – some time travellers get used to this sort of thing). Would the food disappear from your stomach? Well, it’s actually quite interesting, because...
Lily shut the book as the subject matter of the chapter changed. She hadn’t really thought about seeing thestrals and things like that. She realised that it hadn’t occurred to her that Scorpius still died. She thought she’d erased that completely from history – though of course she hadn’t as she could remember it. She put her hand to her head as the thoughts churned around in her brain. She wandered around, looking through the shelves, until she came upon a thin book with an intriguing title. I Saved Your Life, You Owe Me One!
She pulled the book out and began to read.
Not much research has been done on the mysterious Life Debt charm, as it was not necessary. This charm, which is easier to understand if you think about like a spell cast by nature instead of by a person, is one of the most infallible charms known to magical kind. Different situations of saving lives have been documented; the person didn’t know they were being saved, the person didn’t want to be saved, it was set up as an experiment and both parties were aware that the saving was going to take place (so there was never any danger of someone dying) – and in all these strange situations, the Life Debt charm was instilled.
Some research suggests that if the person is aware of the charm, they feel the Life Debt charm, and know they must save the person’s life if the situation arises. Some of these bonds have become so strong that they ‘stand guard’ over the person they owe their life to, or pledge to protect them. If the person does not know their life was saved, then the charm may not be felt by them but won’t be any weaker – they’ll just feel confused as to why they had an overwhelming desire to save the person’s life.
Lily put the book back. She didn’t like the way it kept saying ‘they’ and ‘this person’. She thought it would be better if they reffered to the two people as the ‘saver’ and the ‘savee’ or something. Putting the book back, she went back upstairs to get ready for her second period class.
“So the life debt will hold?” Rachel asked incredulously. It was much later that night; Lily had brought Rachel into the bathroom through the connecting door to the fifth year Gryffindor girl’s bedroom. Lily perched on the edge of the bathtub and Rachel hoisted herself up to sit on the bench beside the sink, her back leaning against the mirror.
“I think so,” Lily nodded. “There wasn’t anything about my specific situation, obviously, but it was pretty clear that life debts are infallible.”
“That’s a big word,” Rachel smiled, approving.
“Thanks,” Lily laughed. “Of course, it might never arise. A situation, I mean. Like, where Scorpius has to save my life.”
“Well, that’s certainly true,” Rachel said. “You don’t hang out with him much, do you?”
“Never talked to him before in my whole life,” Lily confirmed. “Oh, except for when I was saving his life.”
“Well yeah, except for that,” Rachel giggled. Lily giggled too.
“So, what about the time turner?” Rachel got on to what she considered the more interesting subject. Lily pulled the tiny time turner out of her shirt by the chain, and held it up to get a better look at it.
“It’s so complicated. Time travel, I mean. It made my head spin, and I didn’t even read that much about it,” she put the time turner away, then went to sit on the bench beside Rachel, to tell a story.
“My Aunt Hermione once told me about how she used a time tuner to save my dad’s life. He was being attacked by a werewolf, she ‘howled’ from the Forbidden Forest, and the werewolf went towards the sound.”
“Well, that’s exactly the same thing then!” Rachel said, excited.
“No, it’s not. Even during the first...timeline...she heard the wolf calling from the trees. It always happened. Like...she was always there, she never wasn’t there,” Lily scrunched up her face as she tried desperately to understand. “This is completely different. Once I saved him, once I didn’t. It’s not like I always saved him.”
“But you did always save him...from his perspective.”
“Yeah, but not from mine. And my Auntie never had that. She never had a time when they just got eaten by the werewolf. And I think what happened to her is more normal, for time travel I mean. It’s sort of like a circle. What happened to me is more like parallel lines,” Lily shook her head. “The book said that magic can surprise you. I don’t think what’s happened to me has ever happened before.
Something went weird when I turned back the time.”
“You know, I figured out something. You and I are the only two people that know about him drowning. I stayed in that creepy room while you went back in time, but it’s not like everything that happened was erased from my memory, like everyone else,” she waved her hands around, in a ‘oh, you know what I mean’ gesture, and continued. “Really, that doesn’t make sense. You are the only one that travelled, so only you should know what happened. I shouldn’t. Being in that room changed everything.”
“Yeah, I was thinking that, too. I would have told you anyway, of course, but you didn’t forget, it’s strange. I don’t get it. Urgh, I wish I could ask someone for help understanding all this, but going back in time to save someone’s life is illegal, not to mention all the time turners are meant to be gone,” she smiled. “Besides, what would I say? I haven’t a clue what’s happened.”
“Well, me neither,” Rachel answered, shrugging again. “But you know whatever. Everything’s fine now and life can just get back to normal. Don’t worry about it.”
“Yeah, I won’t. You’re right, Rach,” Lily quickly hugged her best friend before heading out of the bathroom to bed. It took her a long time to get to sleep that night. She dreamt of words made out of flame, dancing in front of her. Magic can surprise you.
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