The Time Turner
“That's another year under our belts, eh, Al?” laughed James Potter, elbowing his younger brother in the shoulder. The smaller boy grinned appreciatively, and began to eat.
Albus Potter had just completed his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, with good marks in all of his exams. The relief for James was far greater, for he had just finished his Ordinary Wizarding Levels. Though Albus did not believe half of what James told him about the infamous fifth year exams—for instance, that each student had to slay a Hungarian Horntail single-handed to pass their Care of Magical Creatures O.W.L.—the stress that James had had to endure was obvious. What was more, he would have to wait another month to find out his results.
Albus looked down the Gryffindor House table—at his older brother James, and his younger sister Lily, who had just finished her first year; at his cousins and best friends, Rose and Hugo, chatting animatedly; at his other cousin, Victoire Weasley, who was tossing back her sheet of silvery-blond hair; at Humphrey Longbottom, son of the Hogwarts Herbology teacher, talking to Nearly Headless Nick, the ghost of Gryffindor Tower; at Johnny Thomas, reading a copy of The Quibbler...
He then turned his head to view the entire Great Hall. Many of his friends from other houses were talking and laughing. The teachers all sat at the end of the hall, enjoying the feast, just like the students.
Albus was going to miss Hogwarts a great deal. And yet, he reminded himself, his father had had it far worse. At least Albus had living parents, and friendly relatives. He would still see all of his friends over the summer holidays. Not like the stories his father had told him about being raised by Muggles who feared and hated magic.
At the center of the staff table, the headmaster cleared his throat and gestured to the stern, aged witch sitting beside him. Albus perked up—he had never actually seen her before, but knew who she was. Everyone at Hogwarts knew. She had returned today to deliver a speech. Despite her retirement a few years before Albus had first come to the school, she still had a brisk, authoritative glare in her eyes that projected her wisdom and confidence for all to see.
Professor McGonagall, Headmistress Emeritus, rose to her feet. The Great Hall fell silent...
A short while later, Albus, James, Lily, Rose, and Hugo were making their way across the castle grounds. They had said goodbye to their friends, but planned to get back together with them on the Hogwarts Express. They had twenty minutes before it was time to head for the thestral-drawn carriages that would take them to Hogsmeade station.
“I was really worried for a bit, you know.” Hugo was saying, as he jogged to keep up with his older sister and cousins. “Pretty close this year, wasn't it?”
“Ah, Slytherin never had a chance for the House Cup.” scoffed James. “Especially not after all the points we earned in the final Quidditch match.”
“Yeah,” said Hugo, a triumphant smile on his face. “We flattened 'em!”
“All thanks to my fine Quaffle moves and Al's first-class Seeking,” grinned James, twirling his wand absentmindedly in his hand, so that red and gold sparks shot out of the tip.
“Hey, you lot.” came a soft, drawling voice from behind the group.
The five of them wheeled around. Standing in front of them was a boy with a pale, pointed face and long, sleek, blond hair almost covering his eyes, his arms crossed.
“What are you up to?” demanded James, eyes narrowed with suspicion and dislike.
“I've got something to show you,” said Scorpius Malfoy, gazing around at all five of them. “It won't be long.”
“What?” said Albus, blinking confusedly.
“There's something I have to show you,” repeated Malfoy. “In the Forbidden Forest. Unless, that is, you aren't brave enough to handle it.”
“You've got some nerve, challenging a Gryffindor's bravery!” snapped James indignantly. “Just be quick...there's only twenty minutes left.”
“I've got a bad feeling about this.” whispered Lily, as James set off after Malfoy and the others followed suit.
“Relax.” said James. “There's five of us and one of him. If that little runt is planning anything funny, we can overpower him.”
The five Gryffindors continued to hurry after Malfoy, past the greenhouses and across the grounds. They passed by Hagrid's hut, and set off down the path leading into the Forest.
Nobody said anything for several minutes. Albus felt distinctly uneasy; what was it that Malfoy wanted to show them? He had a funny feeling that it could be nothing good, but knew that it was pointless to try dissuading James. His older brother could be so stubborn and reckless sometimes.
Finally stopping in the shade of several gnarled trees, Malfoy turned to face the group. “What have you got in the Forest?” said Rose apprehensively.
“Nothing.” said Malfoy. “I just didn't want to show you this in the castle grounds. Couldn't risk any teachers seeing it.”
Albus's heart sank. He was liking this less and less by the second.
Malfoy reached into his cloak pocket and withdrew what looked like a small, ornate hourglass on a fine, gold chain. “Do you know what this is?” he asked softly.
Rose gasped. “Where did you get that?” she demanded sharply.
“Ministry.” said Malfoy indifferently. “On the day they took us to the Auror Office for that Defense Against the Dark Arts workshop. They've got a whole cabinet of these in the Department of Mysteries.”
“We didn't go into the Department of Mysteries!” said Hugo.
“You didn't; I did.” said Malfoy, smirking. “I gave you lot the slip and went down there. Then, I went a half-hour back in time and caught up with you. Nobody knew I had left.”
“You little sneak-thief!” exclaimed James angrily, fingering the wand in his back pocket.
“But why steal a Time-Turner?” asked Lily, bewildered.
“It's no ordinary Time-Turner; not anymore.” said Malfoy, running the gold chain of the magical hourglass through his fingers. “I've been experimenting on it all year in the Room of Requirement; I found a way to make it much stronger, among other things.”
Albus felt a sick swoop in his stomach. He had a nasty feeling that he knew exactly what Malfoy was planning, and the thought of it made him want to turn around and run away. But he couldn't abandon his siblings and cousins. How could he warn them of the danger they were in without drawing Malfoy's attention?
“But what are you doing with it?” asked Rose in a quavering, dread-laden voice that made Albus suspect that she was thinking exactly the same as he was.
“It's all led up to this.” said Malfoy with an evil gleam in his eye. “You self-satisfied upstarts are going to get what's coming to you. See you later...much later!”
With a sweep of his arm, Malfoy sent the Time-Turner flying through the air. When it landed on the damp forest floor, it emitted a golden glow and began to shake.
“RUN!” Albus shouted, but it was too late. As Albus and his friends wheeled around and sprinted away, the world seemed to twist and blur. The ground vanished beneath Albus's feet, and the sound of Malfoy's malicious laughter filled his ears. Everything went black. And then...
The world came back into focus. Albus, James, Lily, Rose, and Hugo were lying on the forest floor, in near total darkness.
“What happened?” cried Lily in terror, leaping to her feet.
“That stupid little brat sent us through time!” shouted James, springing up just like his little sister, his eyes blazing and his face white.
“Mum told me how Time-Turners work.” said Rose, sitting up and looking frightened. “Judging from the way he spun it, we traveled forward in time.”
“Oh, we've definitely missed the train!” said Hugo, looking up through the tree branches at the night sky.
“Missed the train?” said Albus quietly. “I think that's the least of our worries.”
Everyone spun around to look at him. “What do you mean?” asked James swiftly.
“Look.” said Albus, pointing around at the vast trunks surrounding them. “These aren't the same trees.”
Alarmed, James, Lily, Rose, and Hugo looked around. Sure enough, these trees looked older and larger than the ones Malfoy had stopped under, and they were spaced differently.
“There's only one explanation.” said Albus. “Malfoy didn't send us ahead by a few hours...he sent us ahead by a few centuries.”