Third Time's a Soul Bond?

BY : Wilde_Guess
Category: Harry Potter > Slash - Male/Male > Harry/Ron
Dragon prints: 3645
Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter franchise, nor the characters from it. I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Chapter 2, "Parabellum, Fundamenta" where Ron lays the foundations…

Once I had half a handle on reading again, which was actually before I got Lucky Boy, I started reading almost everything I could get my hands on. Now, no one will ever mix me up with Hermione, and I still found many things I enjoyed far more than reading books. But, especially in these younger years where "neuroplasticity" (see Hermione, I can use the big words, too!) was in full-bloom, these were not months and years to be wasted.

I did read the occasional fiction book so that I had some background cultural exposure, but I concentrated mostly on non-fiction books, both magical and Muggle. I paid particular attention to the Muggle textbooks at the local lending library in Ottery St. Mary.

But that is getting a little bit ahead of myself. I started with the textbooks we actually had at home. I worked through those first. I also had to set up for my first "major" Christmas or birthday gift.

While walking certainly works, and magical forms of transport do as well, they just don't work all that well for an enterprising young magical boy who wants to interact more with the Muggle world. For that, you need Muggle methods. And for a young boy of five who lives in the country, the most appropriate form of transportation is the bicycle.

So, once Lucky Boy was a little more independent, I let Mum and Dad know that I wanted a Muggle bicycle for my Christmas present in 1995. Dad held his peace, Mum wasn't particularly amused, and all the older brothers took the Mickey when they could. They were rather cautious though when my temper started looking frayed.

Even with all the wandless magic I was throwing around without notice, and even with Lucky Boy absorbing my magic while he grew for his first six months, I was still a child, and still had bouts of genuine accidental magic. Some bouts were cute, and some were rather frightening, but all of them were powerful.

The one that most quickly comes to mind is when Fred and George transfigured my stuffed bear into a large spider this time around. Even expecting it, I was frightened. But this time, I subconsciously took control of the damn thing and it had both Twins treed and screaming before Mum came out and cancelled the Transfiguration.

Dad finally intervened in October. He brought me out to his work shed. He didn't have the Anglia yet, but he did have a huge shed full of Muggle "stuff." His shed was off limits, unless he brought one of us in. While he did bring us boys out there to punish us on the rare occasions when Mum thought she was being too thoroughly ignored, he would also bring us out there occasionally as a "treat," though only Ginny was truly fascinated with the stuff in my previous timelines.

But this time, I was also interested, and not just for the bike. Anyway, it was the first Saturday in October, and Dad took me out to the shed.

"So, Ronnie, you keep saying you want a Muggle bicycle. Why?"

"To ride it, Daddy" I answered. I wasn't being 'cheeky,' and he understood that I was being honest.

"Where do you want to ride it?"

"Around the area, Daddy. I want to make some 'extra' money, and I can't do that here at home. I also want to go to the Muggle library, but with all of us kids, Mum can't just drop what she's doing to take me there. And walking takes so much more time."

"You've walked to the library?"

"Yes, Daddy. Two months ago, I asked Mummy if I could go find a book and read it for a while, and she said I could. So, I walked to the library in town, found a nice book on how to improve my grammar, and read it for a while. But I spent much more time walking than reading."

Dad shook his head in bemusement, with just a hint of frustration. He took a slightly different tack. "Ronnie, don't you already have enough 'pocket money' for when you go with your Mum to the Alley or Hogsmeade?"

"Mummy and you are generous with all of us kids, Daddy. But I want extra, or at least almost extra money, not to make you work harder or make Ginny and my brothers jealous or mad at me.

"Right now, Mummy and Percy take care of the chickens. The chickens lay eggs for us to eat. I could help make the chicken coop larger and help take care of more chickens. More chickens would make more eggs.

"But I can't sell the eggs here at home, Daddy. With a bicycle, I could find a Muggle Marysider or a Squib Catchpoler who could sell the eggs; maybe even the Muggle store in town. After Mummy or you make sure they aren't going to cheat me, I could then take my bicycle every morning to deliver the eggs for sale. The people selling the eggs would want to make money too. So I would have to make sure the eggs cost us less than we sold them for. Since the people selling them for us could only charge so much and still get people to buy them, I'd have to be sure to keep our cost down. That is 'almost extra´ money, Daddy. We would be getting more eggs than we make now just for us to eat. Mummy and you would keep some of the money I made, since they are your chickens, coop, and feed. But it's money we don't have right now, and it would not make you work harder at the Ministry to get it.

"Really extra money won't come until I'm a little bigger. After I can prove to Mummy and you that I am responsible without you having to watch me that closely, and after I'm actually physically big enough to do it, I can mow lawns.

"When I'm big enough to do it, I can take a Muggle reel lawn mower and cut lawns in town for money. I might need Mummy and you to charm the blades to keep them extra sharp, but the Muggles would never notice that. That money would be completely extra for us, since other than the charms, I would take care of the mower too, as well as do the work. Since it wouldn't use petrol, it would just be Muggle grease, and 'elbow grease' to keep the mower in good shape so that Mummy and you wouldn't have to pump it full of magic.

"And since it's extra money that I worked for, none of my brothers can complain to Mummy and you that I have it and they don't. They can either work or not, whatever they want."

Dad had already mostly made up his mind before bringing me out to the shed, anyway. But, to be fair, he wanted to hear me out first, which he did. Of course, since I wanted a Muggle bicycle, I had that going for me. After making me sweat it out for a minute, he spoke.

"First, no more sneaking off to town. You are only five, and you could get hurt without Mummy or me knowing."

"Yes, Daddy, I won't 'sneak off' like that. But don't get mad at Mummy. She had Billy follow behind me so I wouldn't get in trouble. See, Mummy's smart like you are, Daddy, and she remembers all of us kids from before we could talk, and she had to figure out what we needed by looking at our faces. She knew I wanted to sneak off to the library in town, but she really didn't think I'd make it, since I'm little.

"So she had Billy 'play Auror,' and follow me where I couldn't sense him. That way, 'when' I got too tired, Billy could carry me home and she could scold me. Billy did follow far enough back, but I knew he was there anyway, 'cause I could feel him. I didn't try to 'lose' him, because if I did have trouble, I really wanted Billy to help me. Mum and Billy were so surprised that I actually made it to the library, read without causing trouble, and made it home again in time for supper that they forgot to say anything to me."

"Just the same, Ronnie, no more sneaking off. If you ask to go somewhere, say where you are asking to go."

"Yes, Daddy." I was five, in body at least, and this was not a battle I was looking to fight here and now, anyway.

"Second, Ronnie, your bike is already here in the shed." I looked around at all of the Muggle stuff. At first, I didn't 'get it.' But looking more carefully, I could see a frame 'here,' a seat 'over there,' and so on. That was fine with me. I hadn't asked for a new bicycle, after all. If Dad was willing to help me put one together from the stuff in the shed, that would be an even better present anyway.

"Okay, Daddy. Are you going to show me how to put it together, or do you have a book on doing it? I can see some of the pieces. But I don't see all of them, even if they are in here, somewhere."

Dad's face brightened just a bit. "Just so, Ronnie. I have a book or two laying around, and I know a thing or two about Muggle things. I'm also going to tell you a secret, just between you and me. Well, Mummy knows just like you said, but Ginny and your brothers don't, and you won't be telling them, right?"

"Right, Daddy!" I answered enthusiastically. What can I say? This was Dad talking, here. If he was making time to share something, even if it was otherwise garbage, this was time with Dad, who never seemed to have enough time, though he managed his time quite well, thank you very much, and didn't waste it.

"I know much more about Muggle stuff than I let on to most people, Ronnie. You want to be a Field Auror when you grow up, right?"

"Right, Daddy!"

"Just so. Running my office, I have to know a lot about Muggle stuff to do my job right. But, some people higher up in the Ministry don't like Muggle stuff. Others who want to do bad things with Muggle stuff would be harder to catch if they thought that I, the guy that is supposed to catch them, actually understood the Muggle stuff enough to know when they were doing bad things with it.

"So, even though I don't know as much about Muggle stuff as some Muggles, I pretend to know less than some wizards. I say the names of the stuff wrong; I act like I don't understand how some thing work when I really do, and the like."

I stood there quietly, thinking that over. This might be new. But, I honestly couldn't say. Both of my previous times growing up, Dad's fascination with "Muggle stuff" just faded into the background. And Dad, if you actually paid attention, did keep his own counsel on more than a few things.

But, he had to know more than a little "something" to do all the things he did do. He got the Anglia both times when I was eight. Both times, he had a Squib tow truck driver deliver it. It didn't "run" for the first six months he had it. But after that, it did run, and quite well, too. And, I know for a fact that he hadn't the money to hire anything out.

When "first Harry" and I were twenty-seven, we decided to get Dad another Anglia as an "extra" birthday present. After all, it was the two of us (though mostly me) that trashed out his first one. Though I was already much handier with a wrench than Harry, who had actually grown up with the stuff was, neither one of us had the time to work on the stuff even if we did have the talent, which we didn't. So, while Harry and I handled the spell work once everything else was done, the "Muggle" side of getting a 1961 Ford Anglia 105E two-door saloon "cherried-out" had to be hired-out and paid for.

The Anglia Harry and I bought was in much better shape than Dad's, and actually ran rather nicely when we bought it. And, we did pull out all the stops to have the car restored to "like-new" in every way before the first spell was cast. Harry and I still dumped over seventeen thousand pounds each into that damned car between buying it and finishing it up, before we cast the first spell! I had scrimped and saved for about three years to have my share, and had thought that I had gone overboard. But I barely covered my share without Hermione noticing.

Back to "here and now, though." I answered, "That makes sense, Daddy. Are we starting on my bicycle today?"

"Sure, Ronnie. Can you pick out the frame?

Dad and I picked the frame out, and we built the bicycle together over the next several weekends. This was also me re-learning one of my less well-known skills and "tricks" as a Field Auror and later a Battle Mage.

In both previous lifetimes, I almost always had a good inexpensive bicycle shrunken down and carried on my person. Since this is the UK, there are plenty of areas where if you are in decent physical condition, that a bicycle is "perfect" transport.

So, the criminals expect you to Apparate in within a block or two? Not tonight, you lot. I'll pop in a little bit further out, where you don't expect me, and just pedal in the rest of the way under a Disillusionment spell.

And if a chav makes off with my "ride" while I'm collaring you? No problem there, either. The Summoning runes on the inside of the frame will bring it right back, before they even figure out how to strip it down for parts! What are they going to do about it? File a police report that a stolen bicycle was stolen from them?

§§§

So, 1985 ended up being a fairly productive year, and 1986 was as well. I had already set up my "first" confidence course in the early spring of 1985, so my actual Field Auror training was coming along nicely.

My bicycle was followed up immediately by the push-mower. While I wasn't quite big enough or strong enough yet to work with it, Dad had said he would also put "booster charms" into it along with an "eversharp" charm on the blades. We'd even rigged a towing bracket for the mower so I could tow it with my bike to get from job to job.

The egg business turned out nicely as well. While it was a bit of a "bother" to take over the "chore" of taking care of the chickens completely, I also got lucky, and Dad and I were able to set things up with the Muggle grocer in town to sell all the eggs we could sell him. Since Mum had already set things up to borrow a rooster as needed to hatch our own chicks for laying, and she also learned the charm to make rooster chicks into capons for the table, expanding the coop and increasing the number of chickens laying wasn't that big of a deal.

Dad and I had "saddle" baskets on the bike for the eggs with cushioning charms set on them for the eggs. The baskets also doubled for newspaper baskets when I got a morning paper route when I was seven.

I was able to sell the eggs to the grocer for fifty-five pence per dozen, with the grocer supplying the packaging. Mum and Dad in turn kept five pence per dozen to help offset the additional feed, with my taking care of the chickens "earning" the difference. I got my chicks for free. I got to sell most of the capons to the grocer and keep all the money from that. Mum and Dad, in turn, claimed the occasional capon and all the "retired" hens for the table.

Fred and George pitched a fit, of course, that "little Ronnie" had pocket money coming in that they didn't. This lasted until Mum actually made them live a day like "little Ronnie" did, starting with running my confidence course, taking care of the chickens, washing and packing the eggs for sale, attempting to walk the eggs to market (like hell was I letting them borrow my bike when they didn't even know how to ride one.) They didn't quite make eight o'clock in the morning until they gave it up as a bad job. Mum ended up Apparating the eggs to the store, and I carried on with my life.

§§§

Home schooling isn't what it's cracked up to be. Of course, it wasn't as bad for me, since I had already learned some of the stuff before, and was motivated to learn it better this time around. But still, it was a fair amount of work, especially since I was trying to get as much stuff done as I could in as small a period of time as possible.

Most of the books Mum had for us kids were actually good. Once I had my "extra" money coming in, I was able to get additional books in the Muggle sciences and "social studies" to round out what we hadn't done the first two times around, though only Ginny showed any interest in the Muggle science and "social studies" books when I had worked through them.

But Mum had insisted that we use the same maths book that she had learned from, and that book was the maths equivalent of "Defensive Magical Theory" by Wilbert Slinkhard. And in defence of "Slinkhard," he was a marked Death Eater toady who wrote the text on commission for Delores Umbridge. Slinkhard would not be writing his crap this time, at least not with Umbridge's signature of the cheque. But Mum's maths book had actually been written for use by people who tried to actually use it.

Things finally came to a head on a hot Wednesday in late May of 1986. While I normally did my "class work" either in mid morning or mid evening, Mum decided to make me work on my maths right after lunch, in the hottest part of the day.

Despite having learned maths (more or less, I hadn't been that good,) I was getting frustrated. The book was as clear as mud, and the exercises (or rather, the incorrect solutions to those exercises,) made no sense at all. Mum tried to explain it, but since she had learned maths incorrectly from the book, wasn't making any progress either. Finally, in total frustration, I accidentally banished the book without wand or incantation, or even realizing that I had done so.

I was looking at Mum, who was trying to explain that 2048 divided by 64 equalled 36 with a remainder of nine, and how to write this out in long division, when I saw her eyes grow wide. I looked at where the book no longer was, and could only say, "At least the book is clear now, even if it's still wrong. Can we get a different one after you make the old one come back, Mummy?"

Things actually turned out much better than they could have. Mum decided to 'play it off,' since it actually was accidental magic. She bought a different book, and not a replacement copy of the garbage we had been using later on in the week. I got to go swimming, which I had wanted to do instead anyhow. Mum didn't try teaching me schoolwork in the heat of the day after that, and Ginny actually got to learn maths from a maths book that actually "added up."

§§§

When I worked, I worked as hard and as effectively as I could. Earning Muggle money allowed me to buy more and better Muggle textbooks to study from than we already had. My ultimate plan was to pass my Muggle "GCSEs" before entering Hogwarts.

This would be tough, since with being "home-schooled," I would receive the "tougher" versions of the tests, and have NO Primary and Secondary school grades to "round-out" my test scores. But, I was smart enough to keep up with Hermione in my first life, and didn't slack off in my second one. So, tough as it might be, I could do this!

I also needed to read regional and world history and culture books to cover for "quirks" I had picked up over my two previous lifetimes, namely a fondness for Japanese Cuisine and alcohol. During my first lifetime, Harry and I had worked a series of stakeouts in one of the Japanese neighbourhoods of London. We both developed a fondness for sushi, sashimi, and sake, because our target was almost directly across the street from a small sushi restaurant. In order to "blend in," as well as keep in the good graces of the people running the restaurant, we ate what they had on offer.

It turned out that there were very few Japanese dishes that I couldn't cook and enjoy, providing I was able to get the ingredients. Hugo and Rosie also liked Japanese food. Hermione was indifferent to it on her better days, so I didn't cook that way every day. But, the one breakfast where the kids and I enjoyed miso soup, rice, grilled salmon, tsukemono, nori, and natto was the breakfast that finally convinced Hermione to learn how to cook.

Hugo and Rosie had also gotten very interested in manga after a vacation we took in France when they were nine and seven. They got into the various series hard enough that they basically taught themselves the language with the aid of computer programs, and some tutoring.

Unlike the kids, I never learned the language in my first lifetime. I did pick up some when I competed in the Asian magical duelling circuit during my second lifetime, but never got fluent. I did learn enough about the culture that I could have been the houseguest of a Japanese family without causing offence, provided their English was better than my Japanese.

Fortunately, the library in the Ottery was very good, and I was able to check out Japanese recipe cookbooks just as easily as the English ones. Even better, there was a sushi stand across from the bookstore in Exeter where we bought the Muggle textbooks that I actually needed to have and that we couldn't find used. Mum was very reluctant to let me go in the first time, even with it being my money that would be spent. She didn't want me "wasting" my money on food she didn't think I would eat. After seeing me clear a "sushi sampler" that was large enough to be a meal in its own right, she didn't argue again, other than reminding me not to blow my money.

§§§

I got up every morning at around five o'clock to take care of the chickens, collect the eggs, wash and pack the ones for sale, and pedal them into town to the grocer's. I also had things set up once I started my paper route that I would also pick up the newspapers at the grocer's as well. I made sure that I had the papers delivered no later than six forty-five, so I could be home by seven to eat breakfast with Dad.

Starting in the spring of 1987, I managed to talk both Mum and Dad, and Garrick Ollivander himself, into allowing me to work in Ollivander's wand shop as a junior apprentice. He paid me well enough though not that much. He provided the occasional snack, and allowed me to use his Floo to return home. I worked for him from 7:30 in the morning until 12:30 in the afternoon.

From there, I would return home and eat lunch. As soon as I had eaten, if I had a lawn or two that day (in the summer,) I would hitch the mower up to the bike and be off again. After mowing, I returned home, and finished my "workout" with two laps of my confidence course along with push-ups, pull-ups, and "crunches."

After supper is when I would sit down and "crack the books." I would work on maths on Mondays, English on Tuesdays, Science on Wednesdays, and Muggle "Social Studies" (History, Geography, Cultures, and Politics) on Thursdays. Fridays would be studying GCSE study guides in the various subjects, along with the "odd-duck" GCSE subjects like "art," and "musical appreciation." When I was eight, I would take up the guitar again. I would round that into my "music" GCSE should I need and decide to take that one.

I devoted Saturdays and Sundays more to playing with Luna and Ginny. In order to be able to save Pandora Lovegood, I had to be there. I also needed time off to actually be the kid my body kept reminding me that I was. And, even with the "boys and girls" divide of childhood, Luna and Ginny were fun kids to play with. They could swim, run around, and "roughhouse" as well as a boy could, they saved the dolls and stuff for when I was at work, and if they had a "pretend" tea party with their stuffed toy animals, they served me real tea and biscuits. They also thought it was cool when I made the occasional animal come to life and dance for them.

The real payoff in apprenticing for Master Garrick was that after the first week he actually had me help in the shop beyond cleaning. I was learning the trade of wand-crafting, and all this at the age of "just seven." Since he was related to Pandora Lovegood, and thus Luna, he would occasionally give me the morning off during the summer weeks so I could play with Luna during the mornings, and then write him an assignment about wand lore, wand crafting, or wand rehabilitation to turn in the following week. While Ollivander's never sold used wands, he did recondition wands for customers, which brought in a fair number of galleons in its own right.

Master Garrick was also the first person to realize that I had time-travelled. I had worked for and learned from him for only a week before he asked me about it. Typical for him, he asked directly.

"Ron Weasley, why did you travel back in time?" he asked.

By then, I knew that he saw far more than he let on. I also knew that he was very good at keeping his own counsel. Lying was obviously out of the question. Master Garrick hated being lied to. He could easily tell if he was being lied to. He would also explain said lies to Mum and Dad when he told them I was no longer welcome.

Knowing Master Garrick though, telling the truth was not nearly as unpleasant an option as it could have been. I had also learned in my second go-round, that I would need to trust someone who actually understood this timeline, or dimension, or whatever it was.

"Master Garrick, I was cast back into time, or possibly into a different dimension against my will.

"This is actually 'life number three,' in either a second, or possibly a third dimension when compared to when and where I originally was born.

"My first time living lasted for fifty-six years, before I accidentally got caught in a time vortex and was moved to dimension number two, to the point of my conception in that world.

"That time lasted for just over twenty-five years when a deranged person deliberately cast me into another time vortex, which sent me back to my point of conception in this world.

"Fair enough, Ron. Why are you interested in my niece?"

"Luna, or Pandora?"

"Both, Ron."

"Luna and Pandora Lovegood are both wonderful people. Pandora makes time for her child's friends, and Luna is a good friend and fun person. In my first lifetime, I barely knew Luna, even though she and Ginny were close friends. In that timeline, Pandora had an accident while spell crafting, when Luna was nine. Pandora died before Luna's very eyes. The daughter couldn't save the Mother, and the Mother couldn't comfort her daughter. Luna never really recovered from that.

"In my second timeline, I managed to save Pandora's life. While that created complications of its own, I would have rather dealt with even harsher 'complications' to see Luna smiling and whole, with her living Mother at her side."

"Will Pandora be most at risk in the morning, or in the afternoon?"

"Life is often a crapshoot, to borrow a pair of Muggle phrases, and dice have no memory. But if this timeline is like the other two, I would suspect the morning. If you have any capacity to see clearly, I would defer to your judgment."

"Why do you work your other jobs? What use do you have for money at your age?"

"I have several reasons. First, in my first life especially, I had the unpleasant tendency to occasionally get envious of money and possessions other people had, not realizing the wealth of familial love that I possessed. This was not as much a problem in my second life, but I still have the need of money.

"That need is to provide for my education prior to entering Hogwarts in the fall of 1991. I need to learn about this world, both magical and Muggle. Working the Muggle jobs gives me some greater insight and exposure to the Muggle world. It also allows me to buy better textbooks for learning in general, both magical and Muggle.

"I intend to pass my Muggle "GCSEs" before entering Hogwarts. This learning will serve me well later in life. Earning Muggle money makes it easier for me to buy Muggle books."

"Why do you work so hard? You show proper reverence for the trade and craft you learn from me, and your work had been amazingly good for any age. Yet, you also make no secret of the fact that you intend to become a Field Auror and later a Battle Mage, and not a wand crafter. Why do you insist on learning a trade you will never use?"

"Master Garrick, my 'destiny' is to be the Mirror, Sword, and Shield of another. That person has a destiny as well – one where he must prevail in order to allow our freedom and way of life, as we know it, to continue. My failing that person is an option I must not allow to come to pass.

"In my first lifetime, in the time when my efforts were most desperately needed, I succeeded far more by extraordinary luck rather than proper skill or effort. In my second lifetime, I also prevailed, but the person who cast me into this world hampered my ability to do so. That person was 'fallen,' but not evil.

"This lifetime, if not my original dimension, is close enough that my skills and efforts may well be employed for their best and greatest effect. I hope, and work, so that I may not only assure victory for the person I'm destined to help, but that I may also obtain as deep a discount as possible on the final butcher's bill for that victory.

"As for learning the art of wand-crafting, it is more useful than many would think. In the Muggle world, the Muggle equivalents of Field Aurors and Battle Mages have a better grasp of how their firearms work than many, though few could craft a firearm, and almost none take a firearm and convert it from idea to a usable weapon.

"Understanding how and why wands choose their wizards, why some wands behave as they do, and how to extend the life of a wand as long as possible are all important. Knowing the opposite can also come in handy. Can you convince the wand of your adversary to un-choose them in mid-battle, while preventing them from doing the same to you? Learning the Craft may not help me find all of the answers directly. But it will give me a greater chance of at least finding more of the questions.

"Since my family doesn't have a lot of money, I have a fairly high chance of starting my magical education with an heirloom wand. How do I persuade that wand to choose me completely? How do I bring it back to its best possible condition, seeing that if I had the sums of money to hire the job out, I'd be close enough to buying a new wand in the first place? Should I become competent in evaluating and reconditioning wands, I will personally profit by my labours here for that alone."

Master Garrick asked, "I suppose at some point, you are going to try to get an Auror Wand Holster from me. You know these are restricted items, and not generally available to civilians, right?"

"I do, Master Garrick."

"I will ask a question. Suppose I either give you one, two, or three Auror Holsters. How many would you take? Where would they go to? Why? You can not resell any, nor can you trade them for anything beyond a token favour."

I didn't have to think at all to answer that. "Master Garrick, my answer will sound greedy at first, but if it proves to truly be greedy, I would wish for that to be shown. I would accept three holsters.

"The first two I would keep for myself. In both the later part of my first lifetime, and most of my second lifetime, I was proficient if not expert in the dual-wielding and casting of wands, as well as casting wanded and wordlessly at the same time. In this lifetime, I only lack the wands and practice to become such again.

"The third holster would be for the person I am destined to help. That person, so far as I am aware, never learned the skill of dual-wielding, and while they did carry two wands in their first lifetime, that time was well beyond the time of great peril, and by that time, they could easily acquire a second holster.

"There is another person who would also require a holster. However, I will be proficient with dual-wielding far more quickly than they will be ready for battle. Thus, I would still be obliged to find them a good holster, whether Auror grade or not."

Master Garrick thought for a moment, and asked, "Name your King."

"Master Garrick, I don't understand."

"Ron, in my experience, only Kings need a Mirror, Sword, and Shield. I ask again, who is your King?"

Ok, so what if he is. "Harry Potter."

"Did your King send you back here?"

"No in both cases."

"What do you know of Harry Potter?"

"I believe I know where he lives, though I must not say. If this dimension is different, I'll look a fool. If I'm right, speaking of this location could potentially hazard him. Though I trust you completely, you either know yourself or don't, and both for better reason than I'll gainsay with what little I know.

"I hope I have proven my trust in you in admitting that I might know in this time and place and absolutely knew in the others. In my first time, I was actually in the place where he lives three times.

"If my knowledge holds true, I also know that his circumstances, while safe from magical hazard, are not even remotely pleasant, and that I am also powerless in changing them. Thus, I work as I do, and try to learn as much as I can, so that I may render the greatest aid once I am able to render aid in the first place.

"If my day leaves me weary, it is no matter. His days leave him weary as well, with far less respite or comfort than I enjoy. I cannot aid him now, as much as I wish it were not so. So, I work to be ready come the day I can actually help him."

"Who is the third person, Ron?"

"Neville Longbottom. If my first lifetime holds true, Neville Longbottom will become a courageous and powerful wizard. However, though for different reasons than with Harry, I cannot help him right now. Were I to send him an owl, he would likely not receive it, and even if he did, he would likely ignore it if not become frightened by it. But my learning your noble Craft, to the extent that I can, will actually help him far sooner than it will Harry."

"What magical learning would allow you to help Harry Potter most easily?"

I thought, and as I framed my answer, I hoped that I didn't end up in the dimension where Garrick Ollivander was Voldemort's 'right-hand man.'

"The greatest need Harry will have will be for a friend to help him overcome the trauma he should not have suffered between Halloween of 1981 and when he enters Hogwarts in the fall of 1991. But as far as academic knowledge?

"As you know, Mum and Dad are home-schooling me. In a year or two, Mum will have me writing assignments similar in form to what the Hogwarts Professors will expect turned in for homework assignments. If I can, I want to write these papers on the Grindelwald and Voldemort wars. By knowing, as well as can be known the circumstances and happenings of those wars, Harry and I can hopefully make the best decisions possible, along with the best preparations possible, to win victory at the lowest cost."

"You say He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's name?"

"I do, though I won't say it in front of the customers. Voldemort is gone, for now. No one is maintaining a Taboo on that name, and can't gather together to do anything about it yet were they still maintaining one."

"You believe that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is not dead."

"I do. He did not die in either of my past lifetimes. If there is any reason that he should have died in this one, I'm not aware of it."

"Surely, having your own killing curse reflected back to you would kill anyone?"

"One would think so, Master Garrick. But I fought in multiple battles in both of my previous lifetimes that proved otherwise."

"Why would learning about the Grindelwald War help you understand the war with He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"

"Some of the same people were involved in both wars, Albus Dumbledore in particular. Voldemort himself grew up in the later part of the Grindelwald War, and that, along with the Muggle Second World War both shaped his personality."

"How would I aid you in those studies?"

"If you could recommend those books and sources that would hold the most truth and least chaff, while still being available to a young boy, that would help. Of equal importance would by your good agency in helping persuade my Mum and Dad to draw copies of these books from the library, or to allow me to purchase those books. Both wars were particularly violent, and they are not normally common 'light reading' for one of my apparently 'tender' years."

"What do you think is the most important thing you need to do before starting Hogwarts?"

"Saving the life of Pandora Lovegood, without any doubt. In August of 1991, Grindelwald will still be imprisoned at Nurmengard. Voldemort will still be a wraith. Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom will still be out of my scope of ability to help, no matter what I do or fail to do.

"However, the fate of Pandora Lovegood is in my hands, Her life will be hazarded by some misadventure in her home spell-crafting lab sometime in 1990 Luna was not able to render aid in either of my past lifetimes, though in my second lifetime, I was. But by whomever's hand her life is preserved intact and in good health, that is the most important thing that I can influence between now and then.

"In this lifetime, after her own daughter and husband, I will be the most affected by Pandora Lovegood's demise – because I knew what would happen, though not the certainty of the hour, and failed to prevent it."

"How certain are you of the day of Pandora's difficulty," he asked.

"Short of being a seer of some form, I have only my past experience. Going by that, it will not happen before 1990. The time will be in the morning, but after the hour many people have their breakfast; she will be alive or dead before the noon hour."

"Should your lawn mowing suffer in 1990?" he enquired.

"Even the people who must place a price tag on a human life would not set it so low. I would sooner eat my mower than see Pandora Lovegood come to harm."

"Pandora Lovegood is not a destitute woman by any means..."

"Pandora Lovegood's money belongs to Pandora Lovegood. I owe Pandora and Luna Lovegood a great debt – the delivery of Pandora Lovegood alive and sound until no earlier than September the First of 1991. I owe this debt because it is in my power to make good on it. Should I succeed in doing so, they owe me nothing, and I will have repaid my debt.

"Should she insist on giving me gifts for whatever reason afterward, I will accept them to the degree that courtesy requires, but will not seek or demand them. As for Luna, I have never been more than a friend to her. I would continue to be her friend in this lifetime should she have me; she is a nice person.

"In my first lifetime, I didn't know Pandora was in any danger until after she was dead, and with my circumstances as they were, I never really knew Pandora herself that well. In both my second lifetime and this one, I know both Luna and Pandora much better.

"In my second lifetime, by the time romantic attachment was seemly, I had been long since attached to someone else. In this lifetime, should Luna and I develop those feelings for each other, it will be because we both develop those feeling, not because I will expect anything from the continued life of Pandora Lovegood beyond her to continue as a good parent and spouse, as she would anyway."

"You have given me much to think about in your answers, Apprentice Ronald Bilius Weasley, and this reflects well on you. We will now start in earnest in your learning the Craft of the wand-crafter."

As we started working, I thought to myself, "Oh, kay… I guess I passed the post-hire job interview?"

True to his word, Master Garrick taught me as a true apprentice from that moment on. He taught me about the selection of woods based on their magical properties. He taught me about the various cores, whether he routinely used them or not. I also learned why some cores worked better than others did with each given wood. I learned how to apply and remove the finish from a wand when needed. In short, he started teaching me the Craft as his father had taught him, and his father before.

He taught me the steps needed to craft wands, and had me practice them relentlessly. I graduated for pieces of scrap, to wands that were truly scrap, eventually working my way up to actual work on actual wands. By the age of nine, I could actually make wands of sufficient quality that Master Garrick sold it from his shop as if they were his own work. I also performed simpler, and even not so simple wand reconditioning work too.

The philosopher Lao Tzu is famously paraphrased as stating, "The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I took at least a single step if not many each day I worked under Master Garrick. The original measure Lao Tzu used was roughly 570 kilometers, which would be a more apt description of learning the Craft.

§§§

While rewarding, my life through the rest of 1987 wasn't particularly exciting, which was fine with me. Other than apprenticing to Master Garrick, my only other excitement was getting Hector Smith as one of my mowing customers.

He was a Lycanthrope, or to be blunt, a Werewolf. He had attended one of the hedge academies before he was infected at the age of fourteen, which also cost him his leg. Since he was Muggle-born, he was able to play the Lycanthropy off as a side effect of having his leg chewed off by a wild animal, and was drawing a partial disability pension from the Muggle government, plus they also required his Muggle employer to give him time off for the full moons without fail.

Since Delores Umbridge removed herself from political life in such a dramatic fashion, she never got the anti-Werewolf laws passed as she did in my previous timelines. Being dead tends to do that to you, after all. Her memory caused anti-Werewolf-discrimination laws to become en-vogue. Now, the Ministry had to pay Hector Smith to take the night-school courses he needed to complete his OWLs and NEWTs. They also had to replace the wand they snapped when they forced him out of school back in the day.

If you're wondering about Remus Lupin; despite being infected at the age of five, his family managed to keep his "furry little problem" a secret until after he'd graduated from Hogwarts and passed his NEWTs! Since they couldn't really prove he had been infected before he had taken his NEWTs, they couldn't even void his scores.

Back to Mr. Smith. Nineteen eighty-seven was the last year that the Werewolf Office fell under Magical Creatures. I was going door-to-door looking for clients, and Mr. Smith's lawn looked long enough that I would need to bag it. But since it was long, I had a shot at getting the job, so I rang the bell.

It was a Saturday in early April, and Mr. Smith had slept in. He was still in pyjamas, but had already put his leg on. I could also see the handle of his wand just above his left wrist. He was of average size and weight for a man in his mid-thirties, and his black hair was greying. Despite having just gotten up not too long ago, he was at least polite.

He asked, "What are you selling, kid?"

"Lawn mowing service, sir. My name is Ron Weasley."

"Are you a Catchpoler?" That told me that he was accepted as a 'local,' as well as him being a wizard.

"Yes, sir. My rate is ten pounds for the first mow, five additional for a second mow per week. This is payable after each mow, based on the grass being short enough to mulch. Bagging is five pounds extra, plus the cost of the Kraft Paper bags for your bin-man to remove. Since you know about Catchpolers, unless you work as a musical conductor, I can waive the surcharge on the first mow if you don't pay too much attention to the bagging attachment of my mower.

"My name's Hector Smith. Do you know Amos Diggory?"

"Not that well, sir, Dad knows him much better since they both work at the Ministry."

"You need Mr. Diggory's permission as well as your dad's to mow my lawn."

That was when I put the pieces together. There was a small sticker on his screen door with a "no" type slashed circle over a smaller circle. That smaller circle would be a "full moon."

After that pause, I asked, "I hope I'm not being too nosy, sir. But how bad is the Ministry now?"

He answered, "Whether you knew it or not, they're actually almost decent now, and I have you to thank for it!"

"Ok, sir, that sounds like a tale for after I get the form signed by Dad and Mr. Diggory. If I don't get the form today, when should I bring it by?"

"Saturday and Sunday are the only days that come close to good. When I'm not ill, I work long hours through the week."

"Ok, sir. If I can get the form back before mid-afternoon, I'll see you then. Otherwise, next Saturday Morning?"

"That will work, kid. Are you also the new paperboy for The Mirror?"

"And The Times, too. With my Dad's help, I'm fairly 'clever' packing a side basket without being too noticeable about it."

"No problem, kid. And no newspaper before after the sun is fully up either, ever. My locks are solid, but I won't take the chance, or have it said I did just the same. Make sure both papers are on your form, in case I decide on one for home delivery."

"Will do, Mr. Smith. I'll see you when I get the forms signed?"

He nodded and closed the door. Instead of continuing my route looking for customers, I rode straight home. Although he was slightly reluctant, Dad Floo'ed Mr. Diggory at home, and I had the properly signed and registered forms delivered to Mr. Smith two hours later. I also managed to sell a subscription to both the Mirror and the Times. Mr. Smith's restriction on delivery didn't affect my schedule, since I was only allowed to go as far as the grocer's and no further until after first light on most days, and on post-full-moon days I couldn't leave The Burrow until then.

§§§

I managed to get eight lawns to mow through the summer, along with the delivery of the Mirror and the Times. The Muggle newspapers were also good for my Muggle studies, to allow me to keep up on current events. Dad also liked them, though Mum didn't care either way. Since my delivery driver always gave me a few 'extras' 'just in case you have one messed up,' they were basically free.

My four Muggle and two Squib mowing customers also became my sidewalk and driveway-shovelling customers in the winter. Provided that I didn't make too big a show of being the only seven-year-old in the Ottery who was able to bike before the snowploughs got out, I was ok. It was the Ottery, after all.

While I didn't have 'grades at primary' to keep up as such, I still had to also study like mad. Even with being on my third time growing up, and having enough intellectual experience to work through the natural childish immaturity, it was hard. I hadn't studied a LOT of this stuff before, and it was even harder since a lot of the Muggle stuff was well beyond what Mum had studied. And unlike the Muggle kids, I didn't really have a teacher to help me figure it out! But, I worked at it, and I learned. Not bad for a seven-year-old, even if I had an extra eighty-one years behind that.



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