Hogwarts in the eleventh century wasn’t what Luna was expecting. Not that she had been expecting anything per se, because when she woke up that morning it wasn’t as though she thought to herself I’m going to Hogwarts in the eleventh century today, I wonder what shoes I should wear. That would have been silly. What she actually thought to herself was that she was planning on going to Hogsmeade and there was going to be rain, so she should make sure that Hermione had Luna’s wellies packed in her beaded bag. Luna had been meaning to make one of her own for ages, but she kept getting distracted by the extradimensional figures that called her attention to other matters. Besides, given their close quarters and the minimal amount of time they spent apart, it was quite simple to just have Hermione be in charge of carrying the majority of their possessions for the time being.
As things turned out, Luna didn’t end up needing her wellies. Luna didn’t need most of the clothes that Hermione had set aside for her in the beaded bag because they would actually look quite out of place where, or rather, when they had ended up. Hogwarts in the eleventh century was a strange place, where the familiar had become quite, unfamiliar and as a consequence, the trio knew that as soon as Slytherin made the suggestion of sorting, that getting sorted into separate houses was not an option. They couldn’t risk being separated when they were already out of the depth to such a degree. From a personal perspective, how well they would do with being separated from one another was also a serious question. The three of them had formed a level of codependency that was perhaps slightly unhealthy, but completely logical given what they had gone through. The war had been an incredibly traumatic experience, and the trio was in the unique position of having gone through some of the worst parts of it together.
In fairness to the eleventh century Hogwarts, their current Hogwarts was different from what it had been for them in years previous. One example was that all the 8th years had individual rooms, mostly as a privilege afforded because there were doubles of that year, so they were put in separate housing that was more individualized because it was meant for visitors, but as a trio the three of them just shared a room and even though it made McGonagall blush, she didn’t try to stop them. They were adults and Harry had defeated Voldemort. No one would stop him even if he wanted to piss on Dumbledore’s grave, which he didn’t particularly feel like doing, despite everything that had happened.
(Hermione, though, much to everyone who knew’s shock, had actually poured a vial of urine on the old man’s grave upon realizing that he had set Harry up to sacrifice himself. She said that she would have pissed on it directly but didn’t have the right equipment to do so comfortably and that while there were transfiguration work arounds those were for people seeking more permanent transitions and not revenge over meddling bastards.)
All the same, even though there were many changes to the Hogwarts they knew after the war, the differences had nothing on the differences to Hogwarts in the eleventh century. Hogwarts in the eleventh century was an odd place, because while it had some of the same features, the great hall, houses, etc, the way things were structured was completely different. For one thing, once they were sorted (all into Slytherin — it didn’t fit them all exactly, but it’s where the Doctor decided to set up camp so it’s where the trio set themselves up in turn) they lived in a dorm with other Slytherins, but it wasn’t one where they got separated by gender or by year. Rather, because they were apprentices of the Doctor, they lived in a suite with him. The students native to the timeline all had individual rooms as well, also in suites, but theirs were separated by gender and rough age boundaries, though it wasn’t exactly by year as they knew it, because of the smaller class sizes and because the ages at which one attended Hogwarts had yet to be fully standardized.
Theirs wasn’t a normal arrangement, but something that the Doctor had worked out with the founders when he had a meeting with them. The thing of it was, though, that he didn’t really seem to do anything having to do with regular magic. The classes that he taught — runes — were unlike anything that any of the contemporary students or professors had ever seen before, and Hermione privately suspected that he was teaching them things that were against what was properly supposed to be known in this time period, but when she tried to question him about time paradoxes he simply waved her off and said that it was too early in her education about temporal mechanics to be worrying about little issues like that.
This infuriated her of course, but Harry was able to talk her down, and Luna was able to talk her down again once Harry’s efforts had worn off. In the end, it was really a matter of the Doctor constantly avoiding Hermione and her questions because he couldn’t stand to have her question him, and he constantly just evaded actually giving her a straight answer until she literally glued him to a chair with a sticking charm and talked his ear off for half an hour, ranting, before finally getting him to give her some answers.
Eventually he was rescued by a concerned Helga coming to look for them after not being able to find them when they didn’t show up for dinner. There was a bit of confusion, actually, because she thought it was some kind of weird sex thing and had a lot of reprimands about how a student shouldn’t be involved with their teacher in that way, and trying to explain the whole awkward situation eventually led her to believe that, actually, not only was there nothing sexual going on, but actually the Doctor was Hermione’s uncle, and responsible for her general wellbeing, and the whole interrogation scene had been because Hermione wanted to know more about her dead parents because she thought that he might have a role in their deaths, which was a quite frankly preposterous assumption, but she wasn’t really sure what else to say.
Needless to say, Harry thought that the entire thing was ridiculously hilarious, and could not hold in the slightest bit of laughter when he found out, giggling like a lunatic, and he had to be administered an anti-cheering charm just to gather his composure enough to be capable of proper speech. Luna, meanwhile, was as calm as ever on the surface, but had a twinkle in her eye as she accepted a galleon from Harry once he had calmed down enough to pay her dues from her correctly betting that it would be Helga who disrupted Hermione’s routine.
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It had been a week since Hermione’s failed attempt to get answers from the Doctor, and three weeks total spent in the year 1015, when Harry finally managed to win his way into the full confidence of his head of house. He had been working steadily to befriend Salazar since he had realized their trip to the past would be an extensive one, because he wanted to know the person behind the myths and legends, wanted to know what could prompt someone to leave a monster in a school full of children.
As it happened, Harry simply couldn’t imagine Salazar as leaving a monster in a school full of children. At least not one that was meant to harm said children. Salazar could be harsh, and was a strict instructor, one who brooked no nonsense in the classroom. But the founder was also kind, to all students, and never discriminated against anyone with an honest desire to learn. And Harry learned a great deal from the one whose house he once rejected. The two of them became close, bonding over how they had each of them lost their parents and come in to responsibility young — Salazar was decades younger than the other founders, joining with them because of sheer magical power and unique skill rather than experience. Both of them also felt quite out of place at Hogwarts -- Harry because of his time travel, and Salazar for another reason.
“I haven’t told anyone but Helga or Rowena yet,” Salazar began hesitantly as the two of them settled down in their usual study spot in the currently deserted Slytherin common room. It was early in the morning on one of the free days, and so all of the other house members were most likely resting. “But there is something you should know.”
“What is it?” Harry asked.
Salazar paused, hesitant, before pushing forward. “I’m planning on making a transition from being a wizard to a witch.”
“Oh,” Harry said, surprised. He hadn’t realized that there were transsexuals in the eleventh century.
“I’ll be leaving Hogwarts — I can’t stay here as Salazar Slytherin, and I don’t think I could convincingly be anyone else around the people and magic that know me so well. I’m not sure where I’ll go yet, but I know that staying here won’t be an option much longer.”
“Well, perhaps you could come with us?” Harry Potter had never been short on wild ideas. He had robbed a bank and escaped on a dragon. He had defeated a dark lord. Proposing that the founder of his alma mater join him and his girlfriends to travel in a time machine that was apparently also a spaceship didn’t seem all that preposterous.
Before Salazar could say anything in response, however, there was a crash as Rowena Ravenclaw stumbled into their common room.
“Salazar! It’s hatching!”
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“Oh no. Tell me you didn’t. No no no no no, you didn’t," Hermione moaned, her head cradled in her hands.
“I just wanted to see what would happen!” the Doctor protested. Rowena looked on, somewhat guilty as Helga frowned at them, appearing increasingly disappointed.
“ History is what is happening, history is what is happening,” Luna hummed.
Meanwhile, Salazar was cradling a baby basilisk, freshly hatched. “Ah, little one. I shall create a space for you where you can’t hurt anyone. And you will protect the school for us, won’t you my sweet?” she cooed at the small snake, who hissed an assenting reply. Not that anyone but Harry understood them of course.
Rowena and Helga conferred together, while the Doctor, Harry, Hermione, and Luna began to speak to one another.
“Now, I’ve been down to the TARDIS, I’m still working on trying to fix the randomizer, just so that we can get you back to your proper time. I think that we’re going to have to drain it of its juice, which means staying here for just a teensy bit longer.”
“How much longer?” Hermione frowned. “It’s already been three weeks.”
“Well, just a bit more than that,” the Doctor twisted his hands together. “Perhaps more like, three to six months?”
“Doctor!” Hermione shouted in outrage. “How dare you! Kidnap us! Trap us in the eleventh century! What kind of alien are you!?”
“Oi! I didn’t mean to kidnap you, eh? Blame Luna and the TARDIS. And I’m a Time Lord, thank you.”
“Time lord. What kind of species calls themselves lords?” Hermione scoffed.
“What kind of species calls themselves sapiens?" the Doctor shot back.
Hermione sniffed, but didn’t actually have a proper response to this, so moved on. “And what about after these three to six months? Will we be able to go home?”
“Probably. I mean yes, of course, we will get you home. Obviously. Eventually. But there’s a whole world out there, worlds. There’s so much more than this one planet. Don’t you want to see it? I know you Hermione, you’ve been soaking up everything you can about this time period, about the lives lived here. Don’t you want to see more? Because there is so much more to learn and see and do about life beyond this place.”
“And if there is so much more to ‘learn and see and do’ why are we going to be stuck in the eleventh century for three to six months?” Hermione retorted, though she was intrigued by the Doctor’s offer. She couldn’t deny that she was interested. She had always wanted to explore the world, and more than that she wondered what was beyond the stars. In their astronomy classes they had learned that there were energies that came to them from the stars themselves, and she had always wondered what made those star systems tick.
“There’s something I need to do here. Well, some things. It’s complicated. There are events in motion, things I haven’t told you. There’s a reason we came here, and it’s not just to witness Hogwarts at its beginning, though that is an exciting bit, isn’t it? Though I am curious about that basilisk, I’ll need to talk to Salazar about studying it a bit further, I’d like to know more about such a beautiful creature….” the Doctor trailed off, clearly deep in thought, and Hermione shook her head, realizing that she probably wasn’t going to get much more out of the time lord once he had started muttering about cross-speciation and how sentience born from magic differed from artificial intelligence.
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Over the next two months the Doctor spent a great deal of time with Salazar and the basilisk, who had been named Jessamine. He still occasionally taught his runes classes, but what he taught was so esoteric and advanced that only a handful of Ravenclaws and Slytherins, and a lone Hufflepuff, even wanted to attend the lectures that were held at entirely random intervals, from holding some at dawn to holding others at midnight. He claimed that this was because certain languages were better invoked at certain times of day, but Harry and Hermione suspected he just had trouble keeping track of what time it was, and was too distracted with whatever his secret mission was to consistently remember he was supposed to be a teacher. Luna, if she had an opinion, didn’t share it with them. She was, however, the reason that they were able to attend all of his classes, because she had an uncanny knowledge of where the Doctor was at virtually any time. If one wanted to find the Doctor, they really need only find Luna, and she could find him in heart beats.
It was coming up upon midwinter, the shortest and coldest day of the year, and they had been in the past for almost three months when the trio finally discovered what had been consuming the Doctor so completely. They had been visiting with Salazar and the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets, explaining to her what their time was like, and trying again to convince her that she should ask the Doctor to come with them when they left the school to travel through time and space. They had just convinced her that she should approach the Doctor about it when the Doctor himself came into the chamber, scrambling through the mouth of the statue of Salazar’s father, the image of whom she decided would make an excellent guard for Jessamine, as he had always nurtured his daughter’s love of snakes before his untimely death at the hands of muggles intent on a witch burning.
“I found them! I finally found them!”
“Found who, Doctor?” Harry asked, puzzled.
“I knew there was a reason we were here. She told me, she said that she always takes me where I need to go, and so I had to find out, why did we need to be here? And I thought there was something fishy, and there was. It’s the diadem!”
“What? You mean Rowena’s diadem?” Salazar asked, bewildered.
“Yes! I knew there was something here, but there was a perception filter, and a strong one if it blocked me too. But they’re here, and they want Rowena, and they’re using the diadem, and we don’t have very much time. And I’m wasting it by even bothering to tell you all so come on! I’ll explain on the way!” The Doctor scrambled outside of the room again, and giving each other bewildered looks, the four of them bid Jessamine farewell and followed the Doctor.
“Doctor, what is going on?” Harry demanded, panting, as he caught up with the Doctor, running up the stairs of one of the passageways that led to the main area of the school. Hermione had called them pipes in their second year, but that was her muggleborn upbringing talking; these had never been used for sewage — magical people had magical ways of removing waste.
“There are these aliens, well, they’re not aliens, they’re humans, well, it depends on what you call human, anyway, they have this way of… converting humans to be like them. And Rowena is the brightest witch of the century. The advantage she could give them, if she was converted… they’ve been using the diadem to shape her mind, so that she will come to them willingly. We have to get it away from her. I just hope we aren’t too late. I needed all of you, well, because I’m not really a proper wizard, am I? Rowena is powerful, and only young time lords can learn human magic. My magical pathways are too stagnated. I’m too old. It’s going to take all of us, she is very possessive. I don’t know how this is going to work. I’ll come up with a plan. I always do.”
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The Doctor did come up with a half-decent plan, which completely fell apart when Rowena announced to them that her daughter, Helena, had stolen the diadem from her earlier that day. This was a prime opportunity for the trio, who had been keeping their knowledge secret for the sake of history, to share information with the Doctor that was directly relevant to the current conversation, and so, finding a secluded classroom, they laid out for him (and Salazar, who they decided there was no harm in telling since she already knew about their time traveling ways) all that they knew about the story of the Grey Lady and the Bloody Baron.
“Ah, well, that does complicate things a bit. You say the diadem gets left in a tree in Albania? No one finds it until this Tom Riddle, in your present day?” the Doctor asked Harry.
“That’s what Helena’s ghost told me. I see no reason why she would lie,” Harry shrugged.
“I suppose then, all we have to do is take care of the cybermen themselves. With the diadem out of the way Rowena should return to her natural state, and once the cybermen are defeated, we can be on our way.”
“Could I come with you?” Salazar asked.
The Doctor paused, looking at the four of them. “You’ve thought about this, talked about it.” At their nods, the Doctor sighed. “Salazar, do you have children?”
Taken aback, Salazar started before saying: “I beg your pardon. Why is that relevant?”
“Your descendants are powerful, and your legacy looms throughout history. The Slytherin line is well known. If you don’t have children, history will be forever changed. It’s a fixed point,” the Doctor explained.
Salazar’s face turned scarlet, and the first impression was of embarrassment, but the Doctor belatedly realized it was anger. “You listen here Doctor. I don’t give a damn about your history. That is my future and I decide what I want for myself and what I want my family to look like. You don’t get to tell me what I have to do about my life, especially when you don’t know a damn thing about my life!”
“Salazar, it’s not that simple. You’re an established figure and people the world over know your name. You don’t get to decide who lives, who dies, and who tells your story! Wait, no, that’s a Hamilton quote.” The Doctor frowned. “But the point stands!” He continued “You have a place here.”
“No I don’t! I don’t have a place anywhere! My family wants nothing to do with me! My wife rejected me when she found out that I — that I am not really a wizard. She said there was no space for two mothers in the lives of our sons and she kicked me out! Why do you think I ran away to start a school? But she’ll never send our kids here, not while she knows I am a professor. I have to leave if I want my son and daughter to get a proper education. Don’t you see, Doctor? I don’t belong here. I don’t belong anywhere. There is no place for witches who used to be wizards in this time.”
Seeing the angry yet hopeful expression on Salazar’s face, the Doctor nodded, “OK, you can come with us. But no wandering off! And we still have to deal with these cybermen first. Come along to the TARDIS. We have to find their ship, and the unplottability matrix of the castle scrambles the locator fields.”
“What’s a TARDIS?” Salazar asked with a confused look on her face.
“How did you think I travelled?” The Doctor asked. “On a motorbike?”
“What’s a motorbike?” Salazar asked.
“We don’t have time for this,” Hermione snapped. “Not if there are apparently not-human not-aliens trying to do some kind of weird conversion process that the Doctor refuses to explain.”
“Hermione,” Harry said reprovingly, “Give her a break, it’s not Salazar’s fault she doesn’t —”
“I’m not talking about Salazar I’m talking about the overgrown manchild currently waxing poetic when we don’t have time."
“You should always waste time when you don’t have any,” the Doctor scoffed. “But Hermione’s right. Allons-y! Oh, look at me, falling into old habits all over the place.”