Disclaimer: I do not own any characters or events.
Chapter 1: Mission Impossible
Summer was arriving.
The towers filled with enthusiastic chatter of students, all who were eager to go back home. Final exams were a passable breeze, although the blank look that sat on a few faces proved otherwise. Sunlight poured through the open windows of the stone walls, illuminating the hallways with life.
Hermione stood in front of the large griffin gargoyle on the third floor, her heart beating with excitement. Her third year was finally coming to a close, and after every dramatic turn of meeting Harry's godfather to saving Buckbeak, she was ready for summer.
Clearing her throat, she spoke, "Pixie Puffs."
She watched with childish glee as gargoyle moved aside, revealing a spiraling staircase that would lead to the Headmaster's office. She walked in, trying not to think about the odd choice of password—a breakfast cereal that was often served in the Great Hall.
After stepping out of the stone staircase, she approached the large wooden doors and knocked loudly. The right door opened on its own, allowing Hermione to walk inside.
She gave herself a moment to admire the large circular room. One side was filled from floor to ceiling with thick books, pressed against each other on shelves. She would have probably given her left arm to be able to read through the collection. There was an old, broken looking hat that sat on top of a shelf—she smiled, recognizing it as the old sorting hat made by Godric Gryffindor himself. The high walls were filled with windows, letting the sunlight leak through the glass. Portraits of previous Headmasters and Headmistresses lined the wall underneath—they appeared to be sleeping, a few of them quietly snoring away in their frames. Near the back of the room, perched on a wooden stand was the most beautiful bird Hermione had ever seen; it was covered in fire red feathers, and brilliant gold lined its tail. She gazed at its black eyes with awe, admiring the sheer majestic quality of the magical creature.
"Miss Granger," Dumbledore's voice cut through. She turned quickly and spotted her headmaster sitting at his desk, filled with strange devices that puffed out colorful smoke.
"Professor Dumbledore," she greeted, smiling. "I hope I'm not bothering you…"
"Not at all. Please sit." He smiled warmly. "I presume Professor McGonagall sent you?"
She nodded, taking the cushiony red chair that reminded her of the one in the common room. She slid the rather light necklace off her head and placed it on his desk. "I came to return the Time Turner. I'll be dropping Divination and Muggle Studies next year, so I won't be needing it anymore."
There was a soft glint in Dumbledore's blue eyes. He didn't take the instrument from the desk, but rather, regarded her with a curious expression.
"Actually, there is a sudden opportunity that revealed itself, so I was hoping you would hold onto it."
Hermione raised her eyebrows in surprise. "Sir?"
"You see Miss Granger," Dumbledore explained. "I know that you are a talented young witch, seeing as Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley are constantly in one piece—" she blushed lightly. "—However, there is great danger that looms in the near future, and time is something we all need."
She was still confused. "What are you suggesting, sir?"
He smiled. "I happen to know of a young man who is in need of more time. Specifically, time to reevaluate his beliefs and find the position that he wants for himself. As of now, he is trapped between two walls, walking on the only path that was carved for him. He is in need of a helping hand, you see, and I believe that you are capable of doing so."
Hermione's mind whirled with possibilities. Her first thought automatically went to Harry, but his explanation didn't describe her green-eyed friend at all. She then thought of Ron, but quickly dismissed the idea. Biting the inside of her cheek, she frowned and titled her head in thought.
"Who is this young man that needs more time?" she inquired.
"I believe you know him quite well," Dumbledore paused. "His name is Draco Malfoy."
Her body went stiff and her eyes widened with shock. She had not expected to hear the evil cockroach's name from her Headmaster's mouth.
"So…" she breathed, trying not to jump to conclusions. "You want me to give Malfoy the Time Turner?"
He shook his head softly, confirming her worst fears. "No, Miss Granger. I want you to use the Time Turner to help Mr. Malfoy."
She leaned back in disbelief. She would have to die and then be raised from death before ever thinking about willingly helping Malfoy. Her vision blurred with momentary rage as she thought about his horrible attitude for the past three years. She took a steadying breath. It didn't work.
"Professor, I can't," she stressed. "He hates me. And I hate him. We'll kill each other! He's the most egotistical, despicable little—"
Dumbledore cut her off with a hand and gave her a stern look. Hermione groaned silently.
"Mr. Malfoy has his own set of issues he deals with. Whether you choose to see it or not, he is a complex young man just like Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley. When approaching him, you must put aside your differences and try to see him for the person he is, not the person he thinks he is. There is much more to this assignment than it may seem."
"Secondly, You must understand this," he said with a softer tone. "Mr. Malfoy was taught to hate you. He knows of nothing else. From the moment he was born, it's been driven into his head that anything other than a pureblood is lower than him. Now, do you really believe that to be true?"
She furiously shook her head.
"Precisely, Miss Granger. This is the root of blood supremacy. He must be shown that his views are illogical if he is to change."
"Professor, I just… can't," she whispered, trying to hold back the sudden rush of feelings. "The things he says to me… it's terrible. I know it shouldn't let it bother me… but I really can't stand him..."
Dumbledore regarded her for a moment. "Listen carefully," he folded his hands together and lowered them on the desk. "Insults can only hurt you if you believe them to be true. You told me that you do not believe the pureblood ideology. It may be difficult to hear them now, but if you can understand this, those insults will become nothing but mere words. Opinions. Words that hold no meaning because they cannot apply to you once you set your mind on this."
It made perfect sense.
Hermione felt her eyes rim with tears. The moments she stepped into Hogwarts, she wanted nothing more than to prove her worth, to show that she was no different even if she was muggle-born. Why did she feel the need to justify her worth in the first place? She never wanted to admit it. To face her weakness. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she had believed herself to be lower than them. The insults stung because some part of her thought it was true.
Horrified at the discovery, she closed her eyes, letting the tears spill over. She had thought she was strong, holding her ground against everything Harry and Ron could never fully understand. But in reality, she had fell right into their hands.
The old Headmaster waited patiently for her to recover, sliding over a box of tissues, which she took gratefully.
"I—I thought I didn't believe it," she choked, wiping her cheek. "What is wrong with me?"
"Nothing is wrong with you," he corrected softly. "The pressure is immense, but you have held your head high and preformed remarkably. And now is the time to let it go. Self assurance does not come overnight, you must consistently ground yourself to your beliefs, it will take time."
She sighed and nodded slowly. Her mind flashed to every moment in class that she raised her hand eager to prove herself, every insult to her blood status, and every time she ran to the bathroom, letting the tears slip out and making a silent oath to prove them all wrong. There would be no need for any of that anymore.
"So what exactly should I do?" she asked quietly, feeling rather tired. "I can't start acting cheerful towards him all of a sudden. Harry and Ron won't have any of it. They hate Malfoy too."
"The Time Turner, Miss Granger," he replied. "No one will see you, and no one will know of your actions other than Mr. Malfoy. There is no specific way to do this, but understand that it will take time and effort, both of which you have mastered to great success. Believe in yourself."
"I just…" she started. "What's the point in trying to help Malfoy change his beliefs in the first place?"
Dumbledore's face turned serious. "It is a matter of life and death my dear. Maybe not entirely physically, but you must try to save his soul."
She wanted to scoff and reply that his soul wasn't worth saving. Shaking her head, she dismissed the evil thought.
"Are you suggesting that Malfoy could—" she stopped her words, not wanting to accuse him of turning into another Voldemort, even if he was Malfoy. "…Well, do something he will regret?"
His eyes sparkled as if she had answered correctly, but his face remained somewhat serious.
"I know a man who was much like Mr. Malfoy in his younger days," Dumbledore revealed. "He didn't have the opportunity to learn the true consequences of his actions until it was too late, and now he lives every day trying to reverse his previous endeavors. You must prevent this. Even if it's just a hint of doubt, you must plant that hesitation in his mind."
Her mind began slowing down. As much as she wanted to shriek in disgust about having to try and talk to Malfoy, and get him make better choices in life, she simply couldn't find it in herself to refuse him. Dumbledore was the wisest wizard she knew, and if he suspected something to happen in the future, it wouldn't do her well to ignore his request.
"How long do I have exactly?" she gulped. "To… help Malfoy?"
His lips thinned. "Not long, Miss Granger."
Hermione sighed through her nose and picked up the Time Turner again. She gave it an accusatory glance before nodding at Professor Dumbledore.
"I'll try," she whispered, feeling a bit dazed. "Though I don't think I can guarantee much success."
The old wizard gave her a warm smile. "You can. Don't doubt your abilities. And most of all, don't doubt your beliefs."
"I won't," she replied resolutely.
"Now, I'm sure you want to finish packing so you can make it to the end-of-the-year feast. Know that I am very proud of you for taking this mission and I will always be here if you are in need of assistance—or sherbet lemons."
Hermione gave him a small smile and stood from the chair. She slid the Time Turner back on her neck again and tucked it under her robes. It now felt like a heavy weight, constantly reminding her of Malfoy. She bid the headmaster farewell and turned to push the large wooden door open.
"Oh, and Professor?" she turned around, curiosity eating through her chest. "The man you were talking about before, who was in a similar situation to Malfoy... was he able to countermand his mistakes?"
There was a gleam in his eyes, as he seemed to think for a moment. "He was. But I'm afraid; his story will not have a happy ending. Don't allow Mr. Malfoy to follow the same path. He is now depending on you, Miss Granger."
There were bubbles of dread in her chest. She simply nodded and continued her way out of his office.
Excited shouts and conversations filled the hallways, but Hermione felt numb. She mindlessly made her way to the seventh floor and into the Gryffindor Common Room.
She would have to do a lot of thinking this summer.
A/N: Short first chapter, I know.
Hello dear readers! I hope you enjoyed the first chapter, don't fret, the other chapters will be much longer—about twice as long, actually. This is going to be a pretty long multi-chapter fic, seeing as I have four sodding books to go through, probably be in the high double digits. Anywho, I've been playing with the Time Turner idea for a while, and now I've started the first step to a hundred mile journey.
Do note, the build up between Hermione and Draco will be slow and steady. I'm not going to have him fall in love with her by the fifth chapter—we all know Draco is far too stubborn for that.
In any case, please review and tell me what you think!