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Fanfic / crawlersout

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crawlersout (AO3 Link) by slexenskee is a Harry Potter Alternate Universe Time Travel fic where Harry adopts a young Tom Riddle a few years before he is set to go to Hogwarts.

Summary on FanFiction.Net: Harry is the girl who wanders in and out of time. Tom knows nothing about her, and despite the fact she has whisked him away from the orphanage to live with her, he's starting to think he never really will either. Regardless, he is determined to never let her go, not even in the face of time, space, or dark lords. timetravel

Summary on Archive of Our Own: femHarry/tom. the girl who wanders in and out of space and time.

(Tom doesn’t need to see her to know she’s there. As if a part of him intrinsically feels her presence when it shimmers in the air; matter and energy emerging from time and space. He knows nothing of her transient, peregrine existence, but she is still the indomitable center of his universe)


  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Inverted — Dark Lords apparently all have a thing for Harry Potter.
  • All-Loving Hero: Harry. So much so that she absolutely refuses to kill anyone, even Grindelwald. The one person she did kill, she ended giving up her life for so he could have a second chance at happiness.
  • Alternate Universe: Invoked. The house Harry and Tom live in is connected to two different universes. One is connected to the 1930s, where Harry adopted Tom, and the other is Harry's original universe, years after the defeat of Voldemort. Obviously, Tom is unaware of this — the only people who are aware of what Harry is doing are select members of the Government (for taxes), and Ron and Hermione.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Several historical figures are outright stated to be wizards, including two of America's founding fathers, George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, the sitting President in the 1930s (presumably Franklin D. Roosevelt), Austrian symbolist painter Gustav Klimt, and Czech artist Alphonse Mucha.
  • Betty and Veronica: In a normal setting, they would both be the Veronica. In this setting, Tom is the Betty and Grindelwald is the Veronica.
  • Big Bad: Gellert Grindelwald. Or maybe not.
  • Blood Magic: One of the magics classified under The Dark Arts that actually lives up to the reputation. Blood magic is so imprecise and dangerous that even Gellert Grindelwald was unwilling to practice it. Studying it, like Albus Dumbledore did in canon, is fair game, but actually performing it was a step too far. It's a true sign of desperation when he's willing to search out a master of this particular branch of magic just to find Harry.
  • The Charmer: Grindelwald, to the point that even the normally unflappable Harry is slightly flustered when she first meets him. Once she learns his true identity, however, she's one of the few to see past his mask for the Dark Lord he really is.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: The Deathly Hallows, for Harry. The wand won't break, the stone will always find her no matter how hard she tries to get rid of it, and the cloak has been in her family for generations. Even far back in the past, the items still belong to her — the Killing Curse Grindelwald fired failed to take effect because Harry is immune to it, but it rebounded because the Elder Wand cast it, and the wand is still hers no matter who wields it.
  • Complete Immortality: Harry might have this. She's immune to the Killing Curse, at the very least. The realization causes her a lot of stress, because it basically makes her the closest equivalent the world has to God.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Harry failing to straighten out her taxes in the 1930s somehow leads to her meeting Gellert Grindelwald. Later chapters suggest that the meeting was not a coincidence at all.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Tom hates the idea of Harry ever marrying and being forced to share her with another man. Of course, he doesn't realize the romantic implications of his thoughts, being a child and all. It's heavily implied that his future alternate counterpart Lord Voldemort was the same way with Harry, and she was just deliberately and selectively oblivious to the romantic/sexual aspect of his obsession.
  • The Dark Arts: As it turns out, it is perfectly legal to learn dark magic. It's just heavily frowned upon in Western Europe, which is considerably more conservative than the rest of the magical world. That being said, there is dark magic even the most liberal of magical practitioners won't touch, such as blood and soul magicks. Grindelwald has to trek through a dirty sewer just to find a master of blood magic, as even he, a Dark Lord, wouldn't dare to practice it himself.
  • Defector from Decadence: While attending Ruth's birthday party, Tom comes to the startlingly realization that Harry is this. As a halfblood orphan (with the only aspect of his lineage worth acknowledging is his ancestry from Salazar Slytherin, a fact that neither he nor Harry advertise) Tom does not come from high society, and having grown up in an orphanage, is painfully aware of the hardships of life. Thus, it makes sense for him to be disgusted with excessive spending the rich get up to. Harry, however, is from the Potter family, prominent purebloods that are almost as rich as Ruth's family and are rumored to claim ownership over one of the most elusive and fabled magical artifacts in the world. Yet Harry is every bit of disgusted by the excess as Tom is, even though she views most of the people at the party as harmless. In truth, it's averted — while Harry was born a Potter, she certainly did not grow up as one, having been raised in an abusive, middle-class muggle household and then spending her free time during her Hogwarts years with loving, magical, working-class Weasleys.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: One of the running themes in the story is what it means to be a woman in the time of the 1930s. While the idea of Harry having a job isn't that foreign during that time, the idea of her occupation being something like venture capitalism turns many heads, almost as much as the fact that she's basically a young, single mom that's raising Tom. Margaret, the far more independent of Tom's two female friends, slightly idolizes her because of this, as Harry is the modern representation of the idea that a woman can do any job as well or even better than a man can.
  • The Dreaded: Grindelwald. As Margaret puts it to Tom, there are just some people in the magical community you just cannot say 'no' to, specifically using Grindelwald as an example. When Tom asks why, all she has to say is that he's the "dark lord" for him to clam up, as even Tom knows what that means.
  • Dude Magnet: Being a very beautiful young woman of marriageable age in the middle of the 1930s attracts Harry a lot of male attention. No less than Gellert Grindelwald is absolutely fascinated with her.
  • Exact Words: When Grindelwald promises to leave Tom alone as long Harry gives him some answers about her mysterious origins, Ron deftly points out that he never said anything about leaving her alone.
  • Fantastic Racism: Refreshingly subverted. America is far more liberal than Magical Britain, and as a result blood purity is a non-issue. Tom's exposure to this means he is now unlikely to develop those prejudices and become a Boomerang Bigot.
  • The Fashionista: Harry loves fashion, something Tom's friend Margaret bonds with her over. Tom even manages to cheer her up during their trip to Japan by suggesting she should get a nice kimono and yukata to wear.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Harry's relationship with Lord Voldemort, which incidentally translates into her relationship with Tom.
  • Generation Xerox: Unlike in most other Fem!Harry fics, where Harry is usally a Gender Flip of her canon self or looks like Lily but with James' eyes, Harry is the spitting image of Lily in this reality, down to the green eyes.
  • The Ghost: Despite being slated as one of the major characters (at least, according to the Archive of Our Own version), Albus Dumbledore has yet to appear, mainly because the story is still in Tom's pre-Hogwarts years. His influence is felt, however, as Harry is still quite fond of him and her slight interest in Grindelwald is due to seeing what her headmaster saw to become so enamored with the man.
  • Has a Type: Harry's is Tall, Dark, and Handsome. She has yet to realize that this is what Tom will grow up to be as long as he doesn't mutilate himself with dark magic.
  • Hate at First Sight: While Tom dislikes any man who shows any romantic interest in Harry on principle, he hates Grindelwald the first time he sees him, mainly because Harry shows discomfort in his presence unlike the others. When they officially meet in Chapter 10, it seems the feeling is mutual. A person could cut the tension with a knife.
  • Hates Being Touched: Tom despises the touch of everyone except Harry.
  • Heir Club for Men: Margaret admits her father wanted a son to pass on the family business to. However, the fact that Margaret was a muggleborn witch made up for that, as she became their key into American aristocracy (which is predominantly magical). Thus, they're reluctant to have another child because there's no guarantee that the son they want will be magical like Margaret is.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Harry wonders if this is the case for Grindelwald. She concludes that while his concerns (the stagnation of magical society) were legitimate, it didn't justify the methodology he used (read: atrocities he committed) to remedy them.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Grindelwald's...fascination with Harry is partially stemmed from the fact that she doesn't fall for his charms like nearly everyone else. Even Albus Dumbledore, the only person in the world he ever viewed as an equal until he met Harry, fell for him when they first met, and only wised up after Grindelwald all but destroyed his family.
  • I Owe You My Life: After Harry saves him from a rebounded Killing Curse, Grindelwald owes her a life debt. It seems that he is yet to be aware of it, however.
  • Insistent Terminology:
    • Harry refuses to call herself Tom's "mother" (preferring "guardian"), and insists that Tom is not her son but her "ward". The significance of this has yet to fully dawn on her.
    • Margaret calls Grindelwald "Lord Grindelwald" and insists that Tom do the same.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Harry is more than just Tom's loving guardians — she's literally his everything, and he will never let her go, even if the world itself tried to tear her away from him.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Deliberately. Harry purposely kept herself ignorant of what her status as the Master of Death entailed. However, several considerably older magic practitioners are aware of who and what she is, which she unwillingly learns during her World Tour with Tom. Not to mention the huge swathes of the undead in a Mongolian desert that bowed before her like she was a deity, much to both her and Tom's bewilderment.
  • Love Transcends Space Time: Or at least, obsession. It seems no matter what universe, Tom Riddle will always be drawn to Harry Potter.
  • Love Triangle: One is developing between Tom and Grindelwald with Harry in the middle.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Grindelwald, and he fully acknowledges it. He also acknowledges that Dumbledore is one too, the difference being that Dumbledore actually gives a damn about people whether he's using them or not, and probably wouldn't do any manipulating if it wasn't necessary.
  • The Masquerade: When explaining his motives and ideals to Harry, Grindelwald stresses that the Statute of Secrecy is not only cumbersome, but also unnecessary, citing America as an example. The magical and muggle government are essentially one and the same, with the sitting President also being a wizard — and judging by how George Washington's descendants are a prominent pureblood family, his predecessors were also likely also wizards.
  • Morality Chain: Harry, for Tom. Tom would do anything for Harry.
  • Necromancer: As it turns out, necromancy is still a legal form of magic, if rather dark. Tom (unsurprisingly) has an aptitude for it. It's implied Harry does to, and that's most likely because she is the master of all forms of the dead.
  • Neutral Good: In-Universe example. Harry knows World War II, and thus Grindelwald's Wizarding War, will start soon and hopes to have this status. She fears, however, that Grindelwald's obsession with her and her own Chronic Hero Syndrome will force her to be Neutral No Longer.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: After deeming Harry to be a threat, Grindelwald tries to murder her with the Killing Curse. It fails because Harry is immune to the curse as the Master of Death. Worse, it rebounds because Grindelwald used the Elder Wand to cast it, and the wand will always belong to Harry no matter who wields it. The only reason Grindelwald didn't die is because Harry managed to save him in time, making Grindelwald indebted to the woman he just tried to kill and losing any leeway he had with her due to the botched assassination attempt. Fineshine points out that trying to kill Harry may have been the biggest miscalculation of Grindelwald's life.
  • Official Couple: Harry and Tom are the main pairing, but since Tom is a child who hasn't even hit puberty yet, it will be a long way's off until they get together.
  • Old Money: Ruth's family. Harry also comes from Old Money, but she also has a well-paying job to supplement her and Tom.
  • Original Character: Several, since the beginning of the story takes place pre-Hogwarts and Tom is attending another magic school in America in the meantime.
    • Tom's four major friends at Wolcroft's:
      • Ruth, a muggleborn with two older muggleborn brothers. She's from Old Money.
      • Her best friend Margaret, another muggleborn, whose parents are the current President of General Motors and a movie star.
      • John Wesley, aka Wesley, a halfblood.
      • His best friend James "Washy" Washington, a direct descendant of George Washington himself and pureblood royalty.
    • Spot, an Anaconda and Tom's familiar.
    • Oswald Lestrange, a boy Tom meets while visiting Knockturn Alley, and a relative of (alternate) future Death Eaters, Rodolphus and Rabastan Lestrange — possibly their father or grandfather.
  • Properly Paranoid: Harry was reluctant to go to Tom's first graduation at Wolcroft's. She was right to be, as Grindelwald showed up during the ceremony and admitted to stalking her.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: Harry's ultimate goal.
  • Recursive Fan Fiction: Two, both Harry/Grindelwald, with Grindelwald's POV. One is by the original author, called begin again. The other is by Tsume Yuki, called Fineshine.
  • The Rival: Albus Dumbledore to Gellert Grindelwald. The thought of Dumbledore...Albus outdoing him in anything is enough to spurn him into acting. Even if it is something that he is woefully unprepared for, like comforting a crying young woman.
  • Rule 63: Harry is female in this story.
  • Ship Tease: While Harry/Tom is the Official Couple, it will be a long time before that happens due to Tom's age. In the meantime, Harry has some with Gellert Grindelwald, and evidently had a thing for Oliver Wood and Cedric Diggory back when she was a Hogwarts student.
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Of the "Old Money vs New Money" variant. Ruth and Margaret are best friends, but their respective parents hold a deep dislike for one another. Ruth's parents are Old Money who have sprawling estates that date back at least a century, ascribe to Simple, yet Opulent spending, and put a lot of stock in old bloodlines. Margaret's father is a Self-Made Man that lacks the sort of status markers Ruth's family has and their spending is considerably more garish in comparison — Margaret herself is obsessed with fashion. The dislike between their families is so great that Margaret is basically banned from attending her best friend's birthday party.
  • Slumming It: Harry, though not to the point where people think she's dirt poor. Wolcroft's is an extremely expensive and prestigious school, so all the parents who send their kids there are upper class. Harry allows others to believe that she is in the middle to lower end of the spectrum by maintaining a job — which is the case in modern times. In the 1930s, she is obscenely wealthy thanks to the lack of inflation, and could probably buy out most of the school if she wanted to. Noticeably, she is no way worried about paying off her taxes to the Goblins in the 1930s. The real cause of her headache is trying to avoid government attention.
  • The Sociopath: Despite Harry's best efforts, Tom still shows signs of this, as the reason he likes his friends in the neighborhood better than his friends at Wolcroft's is because the former are easier to manipulate. The only other two living beings he shows any genuine affection for are Harry and Spot — everyone else is tolerated at best. That being said, enough progress has been made that the chances of him becoming a dark lord have gone down significantly.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Follows Harry to an appointment about her ward's possible admittance to a foreign school, attends her ward's first graduation at his school, and then searches for masters of forbidden magic to find her while she's on vacation and is guaranteed to return home for the start of the new school term. Grindelwald's got it bad.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Grindelwald deems Harry to be a threat, and tries to kill her. Unfortunately for him, since Harry is not well-known in this time period, he has no idea how much of a threat she actually is. His attempt to kill her fails, and the only reason he doesn't die is because Harry spares his life.
  • Undead Tax Exemption: Averted, despite being a time traveler in the 1930s Harry still has to make sure she pays her taxes to not draw government attention to herself.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Gellert Grindelwald is very popular with the magical high society in America. He's an odd case though, as he's popular in spite of his ideals, goals, and alleged methods, something that his contemporaries are aware of, thanks to being The Charmer. The only people who are truly aware of how terrible he actually is are Harry (thanks to her future knowledge) and the Dumbledore brothers (who have yet to appear) thanks to having experienced his cruelty firsthand.
  • Villainous Crush:
    • Lord Voldemort, up until his death, was evidently obsessed with Harry, and ruined's Harry's love life as a result. Harry believes he never wanted to date her, however, but considering how Tom acts in her presence that may have not been the entire truth.
    • Much to Harry's distress, Gellert Grindelwald promptly develops an interest in her after just one meeting. When she survives the Killing Curse and saves his life is when that interest becomes an obsession.
  • Wicked Cultured: Gellert Grindelwald is remarkably well-versed in both magical and muggle culture, much to Harry's surprise.
  • Worldbuilding: Part of the story's appeal is the large amount of world building the author does. Rather than rely on official sources such as Pottermore, the author crafts their own universe, with numerous references to other magical institutes and the magical governments of other countries besides Western Europe.
  • World Tour: Harry and Tom spend a month of Tom's summer vacation touring Afghanistan, Mongolia, and Japan, with plans to do a similar tour every year from now on. Ostensibly it's to relax and to help Tom learn new things and figure out a future vocation. And while it is, the primary motivating factor for both Tom and Harry is to avoid Grindelwald. Which fails due to Grindelwald finding a blood magic practitioner that relays to him her future location.