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From the Diaries of Minerva McGonagall: July 14, 1985

Dear Diary,

None of this was supposed to happen. It was unimaginable.


Time spins on while I stand still, stuck, lost.


Elphinstone has been dead for nine days now. I thought I would not write about it because I could not, how could I write about the great love of my life being dead, why is he dead, IT’S NOT FAIR, but the words keep forming themselves in my mind like screams and I have to put them somewhere.


He was bitten by a Venomous Tentacula, the sort of thing that is never supposed to happen, Pomona teaches children how to evade the Tentacula every year. You cast Diffindo, which he did, but it was too late.

They aren’t even supposed to bite humans. They eat insects, tiny chizpurfules, and when they do cause trouble for humans they trap them in their vines, and you cast Diffindo and the vines fall off and you’re fine.


Here is the worst part. We were on holiday and when it happened I apparated myself as close to Hogwarts I could get and then ran inside, searching for Professor Dumbledore. He met me on the stairs, as if he knew I was coming.

How much did he know? He gave me the Time-Turner when I asked for it. “If I refuse you,” he said, “you’ll always wonder what might have been—and so you may have it, to do with as you wish.”

When I returned to Elphinstone he was two hours dead. I held the Time-Turner in my hand and swore I would turn it, and then I had to think about what I would do after it was turned. How had it happened, and what events could I change? Elphinstone had gone ahead of me, stepped off the path, while I had stayed behind to look at a clump of aconite in full flower. I had wanted to take a photograph and show Pomona.

If I turned myself back three hours, I could hide near the venomous plant, close enough that I could hoot at him, perhaps, like an owl. I could not warn my past self to warn Elphinstone, nor allow her to see me, nor allow Elphinstone to see me. I could not cut down the Tentacula before Elphinstone found it. I could shout, put on a voice, possibly transfigure into a cat and climb a tree, find some nut that was about to detach from a branch and drop it onto Elphinstone’s head, anything to stop him from walking into the Venomous Tentacula’s arms.

But it might not work. I might be forced to watch him die again. If my past self saw my current self, heard me cry out as she also cried, we might find ourselves paradoxed into an eternal loop, the two of us watching each other watch Elphinstone die until the end of time.

I sat by his body with the Time-Turner in my hand and the night grew dark.

It’s not fair. I should have been clever enough, or brave enough, to save him. I’ve always been clever and brave enough for everything.

I’ve taken to wearing the Time-Turner around my neck, on a chain. Professor Dumbledore has not yet asked for its return, even though it is of no more use to me.

I feel like the world itself is no more use to me, although I carry on. There are students to teach, lives to be made better by my small influence.

Elphinstone is dead, but I cannot turn back time. I must keep moving forward.

I miss him so much.

Yours faithfully,


Previously in The Diaries of Minerva McGonagall