"Messing with Time"
(A/N: Anybody who knows where I got the "Somebody Else's Problem"
Charm deserves a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster. Or I can whack them with
a lemon wrapped around a gold brick, its much the same thing.)
Disclaimer: This is Rowling's world with my odd little additions. I
It was Sirius' idea. Of course it was. Ideas like that don't come to
sane people. They come to Sirius. And it was most definitely his idea.
It started when Remus did an extra-credit essay for Professor Binns,
chronicling the effects of time-altering artifacts and spells in different
historical instances. His three best friends always insisted that Remus
did NOT need to do any sort of extra-credit essay, as he never failed
to have excellent grades, but Remus felt guilty when he missed a day once
a month and he therefore did quite a few extra-credit essays. For this
essay, he chose a very obscure event in the eighth century when a warlock
accidentally invented a complex charm that sent a person through time.
It was meant to be a charm to keep chickens from aging, but some things
just don't turn out the way they're supposed to. Sirius immediately latched
onto the idea of recreating the charm. He thought it was brilliant, going
back and forth through time for the fun of it. For instance, he said,
one could go a year into the future, find out who would win the next World
Cup, return to one's ordinary time, and use that knowledge to extensive
gambling benefit. James, Peter, and Remus ignored him on this one: the
charm was immensely difficult, and charms altogether were not Sirius'
area of expertise. But he didn't give up. In the end, he borrowed James'
Invisibility Cloak, snuck down to the library, stole a book from the Restricted
Section on Rare and Dangerous Charms, and started studying. This was in
the Marauders' second year.
By their fifth year, they'd all forgotten about this.
"Alright, Padfoot, what did you cook up this time?" James watched
with some amusement as Sirius scampered about the Gryffindor common room,
arranging some very odd looking objects. He had been doing this for the
"I'll tell you in a minute," said Sirius, excited and quite
"Looks like some odd treasure hunt," observed Peter, "except
we can all see where you're putting stuff, and its not even hidden."
"It’s a charm," said Remus, camped out in a corner with a good
book, and knowing that whatever Sirius was up to, it was no good, and
likely very dangerous.
"Spot on!" exclaimed Sirius, standing in the center
of the room and checking a detailed diagram that looked painstakingly
copied. It was about three in the morning--no one but they were awake.
"I think I've got it. No..." He picked up a small wooden carving
and moved it an almost imperceptible distance. He squinted at it. "Yeah,
I've got it."
"What," said James, "have you got?"
"The circle. Its ready. Which means we can go!" Sirius looked
up, his face flushed.
"Go? Where?" James wrinkled his brow.
Sirius grinned wickedly, and Peter took two steps back. "Why, my
dear Prongs, the only place it is interesting to go: through time!"
"Oh, c'mon!" said Peter, recovering. "You
"Don't say it," said Remus. "He's bad enough
as it is. And I do believe he is s--, er, I mean, he knows what he's doing.
I mean, he means it."
James grinned. "You mean he's serious." But before
Sirius could say anything, he went on. "Do you honestly think this
will work? Going through time?"
"I followed the book to the letter!" said Sirius
proudly. "Of course, its only succeeded once before, and that was
when a chicken farmer was trying to get his chickens to live longer."
"Is that where this is from?" James said, impressed.
"Sirius, that was three years ago! You've been at this for three
"Yes, my dear Prongs, I have," admitted Sirius,
not at all embarrassed. "Took me ages to figure it all out. And I'm
sure it'll work. Did all the research and everything."
"Sirius did research. There's a new one," said
Remus, looking up from his book, interested in spite of himself. "May
I ask why?"
"I wanted to get it exactly right, that's why. This
isn't just any Animagus spell or anything. This is time we're talking
about!" Sirius flung out his arms, making an expansive gesture.
"So... lets assume this works--" began James.
"Which it will," put in Sirius.
"--then, where--or should I say 'when'--do you want
"Why, the only time in time worth going to: the future!
Think of it: we can get all sorts of Quidditch scores to bet on, or find
out what we'll do for a living someday, get answers to our NEWTs... who
knows? We could even find out about some great catastrophe, avert it,
and be made heroes! It'll be great!"
Peter piped up then. "Couldn't that mess things up?
You know, change things that shouldn't be changed?"
"Since when were you the voice of reason in this group?"
said Sirius. "The future hasn't been written, so, it doesn't matter
if we change it."
"Actually, Peter's got a point," said Remus. "It’s
all over the history books. Somebody found out about a future event, tried
to change it, and ended up in worse trouble. How do you think the Black
Plague got started?"
Sirius waved this off. "Oh, c'mon Remus! Where's your
sense of fun?"
James snorted. "Last time you said that, Peter had fins
for a week."
"No," said Sirius. "Last time I said that,
Snapeykins developed an unreasoning fear of kippers. C'mon, you three!
I promise, if we mess things up, we'll go back in time and stop ourselves
from doing this. How 'bout that?"
"Only if you promise to listen to yourself if your future
self comes back to warn you about doing this before you can do it,"
replied Remus. He paused. "Did that make sense?"
"Not remotely," said Sirius. "But I promise
anyway. So... Shall we try it?"
James looked at Remus. "Why not?" he said. "Could
"Honestly, Moony, we won't try anything dangerous."
Remus bit his lip. "We should use that 'Somebody Else's
Problem Charm' before we go," he said.
"That's the spirit!" said Sirius enthusiastically,
"but why the charm?"
"So we don't get accidentally noticed by anyone in the
future unless we want to," said James. "Sounds like a great
idea. And we should keep this first trip simple. No big 'let's change
history' plans. Nothing we can really mess up."
"So what time do we want to go to? How far?" said
Sirius, as Remus administered Somebody Else's Problem charms. (The Somebody
Else's Problem charm is stronger than the average distraction charm. It
works best on people, and tricks the mind into totally ignoring, rather
than simply not seeing, the charmed object, unless the mind is told specifically
what to look (or listen) for and is aware of the charm. Very useful for
"How about here, in about twenty-five years?" suggested
"What good would that do?" asked Sirius. "Things
don't change much here."
"One of us might have kids here. Or maybe all of us
will. It might be fun, and we can't hurt anything." said Peter.
"We could at least teach a few of our trademark tricks
to future students. Maybe spread nasty tales of teachers' pasts, especially
if we know them as students." James smiled evilly. "Sounds like
"I suppose it does," said Remus, sounding tired.
"When do we go?" he asked Sirius.
"Now, if you like," said Sirius with a shrug. "Twenty-five
years, did you say? That would be, what, 1995? And we can even return
at the time we left, and we won't age a bit. Quite a charm, don't you
think?" He gazed lovingly at his handiwork. James threw an arm about
"Yes, Padfoot, quite a charm. Now let's get to it!"
As Sirius prepared to finish the charm with an incantation,
Peter stopped him. "But how do we get back to this time?" he
"Easy," said Sirius. "I say the incantation
"Assuming you got the spell exactly right," said
"Of course he has. He even did research," said
James. "Nothing's going to go wrong."
And Sirius said the incantation.
The common room seemed to flicker a moment, but besides the
sudden disappearance of Sirius' circle, and a rearrangement of the logs
on the Common room fire, nothing seemed to change.
"Very impressive," said Remus sarcastically. "Nice trick
with the fire."
"It should have worked..." said Sirius slowly.
"I'm sure it worked."
"Of course it worked!" said James. "Look!"
He pointed to a copy of the Daily Prophet, laying on a table.
Peter picked it up. "Wow..." he said, scanning
the headlines. "See the date?"
Sirius looked over his shoulder and grinned. "What
d'you know... 3 October 1995! Exactly twenty-five years!" He passed
the paper to James and Remus.
"He's right," said James, grinning. "We're
in the future."
"So where is everyone?" said Peter.
"In bed, like normal people are at 3 AM," replied
"How do you know its 3 AM?" Peter asked.
"The charm probably sent us exactly twenty-five years
into the future," said James, "not 'twenty-five years and some
odd hours' or 'twenty-five years give or take a week.' Am I right, Padfoot?"
"That you are, Prongs. Which is why its also still
October 3rd. Or 4th, by now. And we have time to take a nap before facing
this brave new world." Sirius stretched out in one of the squashy
armchairs. "Still comfortable!"
"I was thinking that a corner might be better,"
said James. "Someone might sit on you."
"That doesn't mean they'll notice me," returned
Sirius, folding his hands behind his head.
"No, but I can't imagine it would be terribly comfortable,"
said James. "Some whale-sized seventh-year might snap your bony
self in half."
"'Bony self'? You should talk, Mr. I-Can-Hide-Behind-My-Broom-If-I-Turn-Sideways."
said Sirius, but he got out of the chair. After further discussion, they
hid themselves in the secret passageway behind a mirror on the fourth
floor and waited until morning.
The Great Hall was already filling with students when the four drowsy
Marauders snuck in for breakfast. No one noticed the sudden disappearance
of a plate of bacon and several pancakes. Sirius also managed to nick
a jug of pumpkin juice, and so they made quite a nice breakfast in the
corner. They watched the students with interest, guessing and joking
"How about that Hufflepuff?" said James, pointing
to a small girl who was probably in her second year. "Melinda Berkey
and Calvin Saunders?"
"Nah, not Saunders," said Sirius. "I was
thinking Sean Jacobs."
"Berkey and Jacobs. I just got the worst image in my
head," said Remus. "Though I'm positive that Ravenclaw is a
relative of Ryan Adair."
"Yeah, him and Agatha Kraybill," said James.
"Always thought they'd make a cute couple."
"Sure, after Adair sent you into the lake for flirting
with Kraybill," said Sirius.
"He sent you right afterwards. Nice splash you made,"
"He didn't 'send' me anywhere," protested Sirius.
"To escape his left hook--" began Remus before
he saw something that made his jaw drop. Then he smiled.
"Remus, what's up?" said James. He followed Remus'
gaze and nearly lost his lunch. Or breakfast, as the case was. Peter
gasped. Sirius grinned.
"Who'd have guessed... Wow, James, I'm impressed!"
A boy of their own age had just entered the hall with two
others. He had untidy black hair, glasses, and was very much on the skinny
end of things. In other words, he bore an exact resemblance to James,
except that his eyes were green, not grey.
"Oh no..." croaked James, whose stomach had spontaneously
decided to twist itself into small knots.
"C'mon!" said Sirius, jumping up from their place
and darting towards the Gryffindor table. "This is too good to miss.
I'm going in for a closer look!"
"Wait! Come back!" James was up in a moment,
but Sirius was already standing right behind the look-alike boy, listening
in on his conversation. He beckoned to his friends. Remus followed immediately,
curious in his own right. Peter and James exchanged glances, Peter shrugged,
and they followed as well.
"...no, Alicia's not on this year. She says she's too
busy studying for her NEWTs, so that's a Chaser and a Keeper we need,"
said the boy. "You could try out, Ron. You'd be brilliant."
The red-headed kid beside him, who was obviously a Weasley, shook his
"And have Fred and George sabotoge me at every turn?
"But you love Quidditch!" put in a bushy-haired
girl sitting across from them. "I'm sure Fred and George will treat
you all right if you're on the team. C'mon, Harry, you're captain. Tell
"Harry?" mouthed James. It wasn't a bad name,
but didn't seem to be one he'd choose.
"Hermione's right, Ron," said Harry. "Fred
and George would never miss out on a chance for the Cup. You know that.
You've got to try out."
"That'd be three Weasleys on a team!" added a smaller
red-headed girl, also a Weasley. "That'd be great! Mum and Dad
would be so proud."
"There, see? Even Ginny thinks you'll do well,"
"I said it'd be great to have three Weasleys. I didn't
say he'd do well," said Ginny mischieviously. When Ron shot her
a look, she grinned and said, "Kidding, Ron. You'd be a great Chaser,
and you know it."
"All right, all right," said Ron. "If my
own sister and the great Harry Potter think I should try out, I will.
But you know I haven't got a decent broom."
Sirius grinned at James over Ron's head. James didn't see
it, as he was rather fascinated by the whole thing. This was, indeed,
a Potter who was good at Quidditch. Team captain, even. James started
to think this was kind of cool.
"Know what, Sirius?" James said as they followed the Gryffindors
out of the Hall.
"When I have kids, I can go around bragging how Harry'll
be a Quidditch captain, and if anybody doesn't believe me, I'll know for
a fact they'll be proved wrong."
"Hadn't thought of that," Sirius admitted. "Now
I'll know not to bet you on it. By the way, who's the lucky young lady?"
"I don't know, and I don't want to find out," said
James, his expression turning sour. "It would probably ruin the
romance, knowing where its going."
"That," said Remus, chuckling, "is a very
good point. Saying you're destined for each other would be one thing..."
Sirius laughed out loud. "I don't see how you two haven't
figured it out already."
"What do you mean by that, Padfoot?"
Sirius gave James a great equivalent of a shocked expression.
"You mean you can't tell? Spare me from the awful shock that Remus
the Infinitely Intelligent and James the Extremely Talented missed it
entirely! I mean, come on! Who else in Gryffindor has green eyes?"
The other three Marauders froze in their tracks, staring
"Not–" began Remus.
"–Lily Evans!" finished James, Peter, and Sirius,
who was grinning like an idiot.
"Sirius, I don't think she even realizes I exist!"
said James, incredulous. Smart and well-liked, but patently unimpressed
by dangerous hijinx, Lily Evans was a Gryffindor prefect with whom James
and the other Marauders had absolutely nothing to do with. She ignored
them. They ignored her. It was a very efficient system.
"Perhaps not, but you can't ignore the eyes," said
"Carmen Arenas has green eyes: it could be her,"
suggested James, finding no other possible escape.
"Carmen Arenas is four years younger than you, Jimmykins,"
"You went out with that first year, Mandy Bucket,"
"Amanda Bouquet is very mature for her age," said
"Yeah, and she has a very nice–" began Remus, but
Sirius elbowed him. "What?" said Remus, "You said it yourself:
'She has a great–'"
"Will you two adolescents get your minds out of the
gutter!" yelled James, exasperated. "Everyone's going to class.
Do you want to follow, or snoop out more of the school?"
"Why would we want to follow anybody?" said Peter.
"It'll just be our regular classes."
"We can see who's teaching," explained James.
"And make fun of them behind their backs," added
Sirius brightly. "Let's follow Harry. That's bound to be most interesting."
"By the way, Sirius," said Remus confidentially
as they trailed the Gryffindor fifth years, "I was going to say 'she
has a nice sense of humour.'"
The first class they visited was only Transfiguration, where
they were not surprised to find that McGonagall was not only teaching,
but that it seemed they were on the very same lesson on October 4, 1995
as they would have been on October 4, 1970. Remus actually considered
taking notes until he noticed the dangerous gleam in James' eyes as he
watched McGonagall go on about advanced interspecies transformations.
"An idea, my dear Prongs?" inquired Sirius, raising
"What else would it be, a haddock?" replied James,
his gaze following McGonagall's every move. "Remember, my fellow
Marauders, what we wrote on the blackboard with Re-Appearing Chalk last
"Oh, you mean the one about "It takes more than-Mmph!"
Peter found himself suddenly muffled by Sirius' hand, but the other Marauders
had already started sniggering with mirth at the memory.
"Prongs," admonished Remus, "You know we never
repeat the same prank twice. McGonagall would recognize it."
"The Scholarly Moony," said James, incredulous,
"has forgotten a very important part of this adventure. It's this:
we're twenty-five years into the future! Can you imagine the déja-vu
she's going to get from this?"
"Ah, but Remus has a point," put in Sirius. "What
if Harry's already pulled that prank, or one very like it?"
James, for about the tenth time that day, flinched ever-so-slightly
at the mention of Harry. "I guess we'll just have to find out, won't
we?" He got up and set off resolutely for the front of the class.
But when he got there, he didn't write anything right away. Unable to
avoid the temptation, he did a few extremely convincing McGonagall impressions
behind her back first. The other Marauders had quite a time covering
their laughter. McGonagall might get suspicious if she realised she was
raising her voice to be heard over laughter that a spell was trying to
keep her from noticing. Finishing off the routine with a ghostly image
of large cat-ears conjured to hover over McGonagall's head for a moment,
James finally picked up a piece of chalk, faced the board, and wrote his
comment with a flourish. He turned and bowed, and marched off to the
back of the room, removing any vestiges of the Somebody Else's Problem
charm from obscuring the students' view of the board.
"Bravo! Bravo! Brilliant!" applauded Sirius as
James sat next to him, grinning.
"Now, let the show begin," said Remus, leaning
back with his hands behind his head, and they waited patiently for someone
to notice what they'd done.
There was a sudden choke from the other side of the room,
courtesy of Dean Thomas, who promptly tried to disappear under his desk
lest he laugh aloud. Three other Gryffindors looked his way and saw his
right hand still on top of the desk, pointing shakily at the board. James
watched Harry glance up at the board, clap a hand to his mouth, and jab
Ron with an elbow to show him what was going on. Remus started a countdown.
"Five... four... three... two..."
The class erupted into gales of laughter. Dean had re-emerged
from his refuge and had his head thrown back, laughing uncontrollably.
Ron was pounding his desk, and Harry had tears running down his cheeks,
barely able to keep himself upright in his seat. Lavender and Parvati
had collapsed in hysterical giggles, Neville at first had a sort of wild,
terrified grin on his face before he gave up on dignity and laughed himself
silly. Seamus had actually fallen out of his chair and didn't seem to
mind at all that his books had fallen on top of him. Only Hermione was
scandalised, staring at the board with wide eyes, though it became evident
that she, too, was trying not to laugh, her face turning an interesting
shade of purple with the effort.
At the commencement of such hysteria, McGonagall spun about
to see what was going on. She took one look at the board and gasped,
then shut her mouth again, her lips becoming an impossibly thin line.
With a wave of her wand, she erased the offending statement from the board
and turned a steely eye on her class, which had dissolved into uncontrollable
hysteria. The Marauders were quite glad when her withering gaze passed
over them completely; they were still laughing too hard.
"Enough of this!" she commanded, but no one heard
"Stop this at once!" They still didn't hear her.
"I said, ENOUGH!"
They heard her. Neville gave out a nervous squeak of a giggle.
There was silence for about two seconds, at the end of which, every student
in the room suddenly recalled what they'd been laughing about, and started
laughing again. After a moment, McGonagall reached the end of her rope
and threatened detentions for a month on them all if they didn't quit.
"As amusing as such a statement must surely seem to
you all," she said sternly, "such things are not to be tolerated
in a classroom. I advise the student who wrote it to admit his infraction
immediately, and I may be merciful."
But no one admitted it. Now rather intimidated, the students
kept quiet and glanced from person to person, silently asking the same
question: who did it? No one had left their seats. McGonagall would
have noticed. After a few more threats, McGonagall acknowledged that
the whole thing was pointless for the time being, and dismissed the class.
It was only much later when she realised why the comment had seemed so
familiar. Had Harry's godfather been teaching him old school tricks?
The four Marauders followed the still-giggling class out
of the castle, quickly realising that the next class was Care of Magical
Creatures. And they were positively dumbstruck when they saw who was
"That isn't-" started James.
"Couldn't be-" stuttered Sirius.
"What do you know?" said Remus. "It's Hagrid!"
"Can you imagine? Hagrid teaching Care of Magical Creatures?"
said James in wonder. "With his idea of harmless creatures, this
ought to be more than interesting."
"Hope he isn't trying to raise Augureys again,"
He wasn't, and in fact, the class was an extremely interesting
one involving a treefull of clabberts. The students had a lot of fun
feeding them, though the Marauders saw that it was a class combined with
the Slytherins, and that the Slytherins were doing quite a bit to disrupt
things. Especially a blonde boy whom they were all quite sure was the
son of Lucius Malfoy. "Seems you're not the only one with a carbon
copy, James," remarked Sirius as he tugged ever-so-slightly on the
tail of a clabbert that the younger Malfoy was trying to feed. Surprised
and enraged, the clabbert immediately attacked
Malfoy, nearly clawing his eyes out. The Marauders laughed and the Gryffindors
cheered as Malfoy wrestled with the clabbert, trying to extricate it from
his face. He eventually succeeded, throwing the little monkeyish creature
halfway to the lake in his anger. But when he started threatening Hagrid
with his father's wrath, Hagrid just shot him a knowing look and said
he always wondered what Malfoy would look like as a parakeet. That shut
Malfoy up instantly.
"Wonder what that was about?" said Peter, seeing
the suppressed rage in Malfoy's pale face, and the way the Gryffindors
had started snickering.
"No idea," said Sirius. "But now Hagrid's
got me curious. What would a Malfoy look like as a parakeet?"
After an excellent lunch, the highlight of the day promised
to be Potions when the Marauders discovered who was teaching. They entered
the dungeon behind the Gryffindors and the Slytherins to find it quite
empty. Everyone took their seats and waited. James noted that everyone
was a minute or two early, and that several of the Gryffindors looked
mildly apprehensive to be in the class. "Must be a new teacher,"
observed Remus. Sirius agreed. "Freese never minded when we were
The door creaked open. Four Marauder jaws dropped to the
ground as they all recognized the teacher.
"Oh, no," said Peter. "It can't be."
"Ah, but it is," said Sirius in an odd voice.
"Certainly didn't age well, did he?" remarked James,
cocking his head to one side. They stared at the elder Snape in disbelief.
He was even uglier than they remembered.
"You would think," said Remus after a moment, "that
they'd require all Hogwarts teachers to wash their hair once in a while."
James, Sirius, and Peter all looked at the observant werewolf for a minute
before bursting into hysterics.
They were rather less amused to see that Snape was most unfair
towards the Gryffindors. When Snape took five points from Gryffindor
for a botched potion by (who else?) Neville, James came very close to
dropping a dungbomb he had in his pocket into Snape's own cauldron. Remus
held him back. "He'd probably blame it on a Gryffindor," he
"Lousy git..." muttered Sirius, fingering his own
stash of dungbombs. "Don't see why Dumbledore would hire his kind."
"Oh, don't worry," said James. "We'll let
him have it before we get back."
"And let him have it good," Sirius agreed. "Something
so the whole school can view him in a completely new light."
"Or a new wardrobe," James added.
"Did I ever tell you that you two scare me?" said
"Did you hear that, James? We scare a werewolf!"
exclaimed Sirius, looking quite pleased.
"Are you kidding?" said James, "Sirius, you'd
put a Chimaera off its lunch."
Divination was last, but when the Marauders realized where
the Gryffindor fifth-years were heading, they returned to the common room,
slipping in after a gaggle of second-years. They needed to do a serious
bit of talking.