The sound of his death was so unfulfilling. It was anticlimatic, as if the very forces of physics were as tired of this war as she was. Or perhaps the death of Voldemort would have meant more to her if she been focused on it, had truly cared about it. At the moment, just a single thought consumed every inch of space in her mind.
She looked up, her heart for a moment not believing what her eyes could see. Harry was alive! He was alive!
Everyone else was already running for him, holding him. Ron was much faster than she was, but even the man she loved did not matter to her in that moment. She hardly saw him. Her body moved of its own accord. When she reached him, she wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him.
It was a fierce, unforgiving kiss, a kiss that felt angry even though she was happy. There was simply so much passion, so much pent-up insecurity and confusion and doubt and love, simple love. Without hesitation, when he put his arms around her and kissed her back, just as fiercely and strongly, she loved Harry Potter.
It took more than a moment to realize just what she was doing. Rational thoughts flooded back into her mind, bringing with them a deep sense of shame. She pulled away from the kiss as far as she could with Harry's arms holding her so tightly. She felt a profound wrongness, a guilt. And looking over Harry's strong shoulders, the mix of shock, horror, and anger in Ron's face inspired in her one singular emotion: it was regret. Exactly what she regretted, she didn't know, but the thought stung her deeply enough to physically ache. She closed her eyes and buried her head into Harry's neck, as if to hide.
She felt nothing but that regret, only moments after feeling nothing but joy. And then the world started to fade around her.
Suddely she felt squeezed, but not by Harry's arms - it was as if her magical core was being abused and compressed. Painful, it made her breath uneven. She was being taken somewhere, her soul was, she looked around in fright, clutching Harry tightly and the last thing she saw before leaving her body was that blended expression of shock, horror, and anger on Ron's face.
She was somewhere else and moving quickly - she didn't know how she knew that. She could see nothing, not even an expanse of white or black. It was an emptiness she could not describe or understand - but she was not alone. In the same way she sensed movement, she sensed Harry. Felt his presence more intimately than by touch, sound, sight, or scent.
He called out.
She answered, "I'm all right."
"What's going on? Where are we? Hermione."
The way he said her name felt desparate, like the whisper of breeze deep underground. Strangled. He was struggling for her, so she struggled back, moving through the impossible space to be close to him.
Her being, essence, whatever it could be called was insubstantial. When she met Harry, she joined him. They were breezes in this place, they were the wind. They were uniting in finding comfort in each other.
But before they could acheive this, they were ripped apart. It felt to Hermione like having her heart ripped out.
She was alone for a moment in an icy cold space, but then found another presence. It was hard for her to define. This presence was familiar, but just a little different. It was like going into a smelly room and staying there until it didn't seem like anything smelled at all. Being almost alone in emptiness made her feel blind.
She touched the strange presense and discovered it was herself. As she almost had with Harry, she combined with this almost-self. She felt younger, older, weaker, and stronger all at once.
She awoke in her bed.
In her bedroom.
Slowly, Hermione sat up in bed. Her confusion was so profound, she felt naseaous. What on earth had happened? Her memories seemed fuzzy, like they'd happened a long time ago. Both of them. What was real?
She scooted her feet around to the floor and stood, wavering unsteadily. Her body seemed to agree with half of her mind: she was ten, she looked it, certainly. She hadn't been home for longer than a year... and yesterday.
The room was hers, she felt at home here, but also lost. These posters and the bedspread, they were old, replaced. She'd moved on to far more advanced reading material than the children's books littered around the room. But she had read at least two of the books only yesterday... ?
"This can't be..." Hermione said aloud. She touched her forehead, feeling a headache coming on.
Going slowly, so as not to trip, she crossed the floor to her bedroom door and opened it out into the hallway. As if they would somehow confirm if what she was feeling was real, she went to her parents room and pushed open the door. They were sleeping.
Hermione felt tears well up in her eyes.
"Mom! Dad!" She cried, running to them. She remembered, although unevenly, how she had erased herself from their memories and sent to Australia. She had thought she might never see them again. More than that, maybe, she was a little girl, and frightened.
Dan and Emma Granger awoke groggily to their crying little girl, then moved rapidly upon realizing her distress.
"Hermione? Sweetheart, what's wrong?" Emma asked, being held tightly around the waist by her daughter.
Hermione sputtered, "I think I had a nightmare! It was scary! Or maybe not, I don't know! I missed you!"
Dan and Emma shared a quick glance. Hermione had rarely had nightmares and certainly not for several years. Still, they held her tightly and whispered comforting words until her crying calmed.
In her parents arms, Hermione felt her soul, singular, being to calm down as well. She had been thoroughly comfused, combining with herself, but was starting to understand. Embarrassed, she dried her tears and apologized to her parents, then hurried back to bed.
It seemed like she had been sent back in time, somehow.
Her father knocked on the door to anounce he was coming in. Very quietly, he walked over to Hermione's bed and sat down next to her.
"Your mother is making some cocoa. Do you want to talk about your dream? You seemed very frightened."
"I'm okay now." She said, "I'm sorry about waking you. I don't know what came over me. Just a nightmare."
She forced herself to smile at her father.
"I don't need cocoa." She said.
Her father hugged her as he spoke, "Well, we're making some anyway."
Dan held her like that for a while, then let himself be shooed away when his wife came in juggling three mugs of cocoa.
Alone again, Hermione pondered the mug in her hand. It seemed she was really home. With that confirmed, her thoughts could only stray to Harry.
Had he come with her? It was only logical. After she'd kissed him...
She remembered kissing him and it made her blush. Why on earth had she done that? She'd never before felt a need to kiss someone as she found out they were safe, not even Ron.
But that wasn't important right now, so she shook the thoughts from her head. If Harry had come with her, she needed to find him. Maybe find Dumbledore too, tell him about what was going on. All the fore-knowledge she possessed would be of infinite use to the upcoming war, probably even enough to prevent the war altogether. She thought about that for a moment. Everyone who had died in the battle of Hogwarts or died before then was alive again now. If she was careful, she could prevent their deaths from ever happening.
Hermione didn't consider herself a strategist. She was smart, but academically and logically. Defeat of Voldemort without any casualties would take a great effort. She had no time to lose. Had Quirrel even been possessed yet?
Moving as quietly as possibe with cocoa in hand, Hermione scurried to her desk and started writing into a notebook. The first step when you're unsure of something is to write out what you do know. Hermione documented the locations of the Horcruxes as they would be in the current year, who was trust-worthy, who had or would side with the Death-eaters, and any information on disasterous events that could be prevented. Once she managed to meet with Dumbledore, she'd show him all this information. The thought of telling the old man about his own death chilled her, but she again pushed thoughts from her head. First came Harry.
She couldn't call him - didn't know his number. She didn't have an owl to send him a letter. She had no floo powder, no way to call the night-bus, no broomstick or flying mount, and she didn't feel confident enough in her apparition skills to apparate wandlessly. Without missing a beat, her mind turned to muggle methods. She'd catch a train to Surrey.
With all the plans flowing through her head, Hermione knew she would not be able to sleep that night. Instead, she gathered neseccary items into her backpack and worked on excuse ideas for her parents. It was summer. They trusted her to stay at home and read or walk to the library, in any case, not do anything drastic or stupid. Surrey wasn't terribly far from London. She could make it there and back in a day. But if she did that, she and Harry would still have no method of communication. Harry had never said too much about his relatives, but she knew enough to realize they likely wouldn't let him use their phone. Could she get to Surrey, then to Diagon Alley for magical supplies, then send Harry back to Surrey while she returned home, all before her parents arrived home and noticed her missing? Did she have enough saved-up allowance for that many train rides? Her stomach turned at the guilty thought of stealing money from her parents, she couldn't do that. But she couldn't just ask them for money either.
Of course! Once she and Harry got to Diagon Alley, they could purchase wands. With her wand, she could apparate, and Harry too. Money wouldn't be an issue, she could rely on Harry's vault. The goblins had methods of determining a person's identity, they wouldn't need a key. Oh, but if Harry showed up without one, they'd activate the magic to disintegrate the current key and give him a new one. Hagrid would know it was missing. She loved her friend, but didn't really trust in his ability to keep secrets. Hagrid realizing something was up would surely cause the world to become aware of Harry Potter. Or would he simply think he had lost it? Hagrid was messy, did displace things. Whatever the case, she needed to act on her current plan. It was nearly sun-up.
Hermione grabbed a quick breakfast with her parents and hurried on her way to 'the library'. Hopefully Harry hadn't had the same idea and wasn't trying to find her. It was unlikely, he didn't know exactly where she lived and let Hedwig's wizard owl instincts do the finding work. Hermione, on the other hand, had been to Privet Drive and stood inside the very house.
Her train ride was uneventful, though a little exhausting, considering the amount of things she was carrying around in her muggle bag. Was the baseball bat really neseccary? Weightless bags had spoiled her, she'd forgotten what it was like to actually carry her baggage.
The cab driver she flagged down seemed skeptical about escorting a child, but did so anyway when she insisted. Soon she found herself on Privet Drive. She had the taxi trop her off at the far end of the street, so as not to overtly arrive in taxi at her destination.
A fretful-looking Harry was weeding the front garden when she arrived. Seeing him young again was very odd - after growing together with him, he looked like a stranger, not the Harry she was used to knowing, until he noticed her and looked up. In his eyes, along with all the mess of emotions he must be currently feeling, was that familiar expression she had yet to truly define. Affection, maybe. But she didn't let herself think that.
Harry immediately threw down his trowel and ran to her. He was a little shorter than she was at this stage of their growth, he buried his nose into her shoulder and held her tightly around her waist. He surprised her, doing that, but she hugged him back, finally feeling at ease.
"Oh, thank anyone you're all right, Hermione. I was so worried." He said.
"I'm just glad you're all right. Harry, I've come to the conclusion we've gone back in time."
Harry laughed at her, "You think?" He said.
She blushed. Maybe it was rather obvious in retrospect. "Right. It's just so bewildering. But that's all right, I've got a plan. I think we can make this whole situation turn out for the better."
Harry nodded. "I'm all ears."
Naturally, Harry agreed with her plan in its entirity. He made only two comments: "I didn't know Gringotts did that," and "I didn't know what to do at all. I was locked in the cupboard all night worrying about you."
On the train, they talked together, but conversation was odd, a little bit stilted, because of the crowd around them. They couldn't talk about what they really wanted to in the presence of so many muggles and only came up with the topic of weather, which was rather uninteresting to both of them.
Upon arriving in front of the Leaky Cauldron, Hermione supplied Harry with a cap she'd brought along for the purpose of covering his scar and familiar Potter-family hair. As the pub was a route into Diagon Alley, children passed through fairly often and were not remarked upon. Harry and Hermione made it through without being recognized.
At the wall, Hermione focused her magic into her finger to tap out the pattern.
Harry looked impressed, "I didn't know you could do that."
Hermione only blushed.
"Goblins are known for their discretion." She whispered as they made fast headway for the bank, "If we ask for it, they'll show us into a back room so we can conduct our business in secret. An extra fee, but it's that way with everything."
They waited until the bank's lobby was fairly empty before moving in and quickly addressed the nearest goblin, who, at their request, rolled his eyes as if humoring two children. Which, Hermione supposed, was exactly what he was doing.
"And how can I help you?" The goblin asked in a very sarcastic tone.
Harry removed his cap before he spoke, "I'm Harry Potter. I would like to access my vault and have misplaced my key. If you could, I'd rather no one know I was here."
The goblin, even at mention of Harry Potter, only rolled his eyes again, "Yes, I would expect that's why you requested a private room, Mr. Potter. Allow me to fetch the dagger and parchment to verify your identity."
The goblin returned with an ordinary-looking cut piece of parchment and a somewhat frightening dagger. Harry turned to Hermione with a raised eyebrow.
"Slice your palm over the parchment and let the blood fall onto it. Just a little, you don't need much." She whispered to him.
He nodded and did so, not cutting too deeply. Harry had once painstakingly scratched lines into the back of his hand with a magic quill, he did not even wince at slicing open his palm. The wound healed almost instantly after the drops of blood hit the parchment.
Together, they watched the curious lines begin to form, drawn out from his own blood, as if dragged across the paper by an invisible brush.
Harry James Potter
Heir to House Potter
Holder of Vault #687
The goblin merely nodded and withdrew the dagger from Harry's hand.
"I shall show you to your vault, Mr. Potter. As you are here, would you like to confirm your Lordship?"
Lordship? Harry again silently asked Hermione with a look, but she could only shrug, not knowing any better than he did.
The goblin sighed and pinched his nose between his fingers. "You are Heir to House Potter, the parchement has just made me aware of the fact. Affirming your Lordship would allow you access to the full Potter vaults and properties, along with other privledges."
"What other privledges?" Asked Hermione, before Harry had a chance to.
"Change of title, from Mr. Potter to Lord Potter. A seat on the Wizengamot. Legal status as an adult, for you and your wife. The right to wear the Potter Family ring and the honor and prestige that come with it."
Hermione bit her lip. She'd never heard of any of this before, but it sounded useful. Why hadn't Dumbledore ever told Harry he was allowed these rights?
"Would Harry's status be public knowledge?" Hermione asked.
"It is expected his Lordship announces the affirmation himself, at which time Gringotts will confirm at his Lordship's request."
Hermione took a moment to consider as Harry waited patiently, the goblin again sighing.
"I think you should do it, Harry. Status as an adult would be very useful, you could choose your own lodging. Does the affirmation process take long?" She directed at the goblin.
"No, Mrs. Potter, he need only put on the ring. Would you, too, like to affirm your Ladyship?"
Harry and Hermione were both shocked. "Oh, no, no, no, I'm not his wife. I'm his friend, just his friend."
The goblin raised an eyebrow. "We can easily confirm your status with a simple parchment test, Mrs. Potter. The dagger is already right here."
"Um, right, but why would you even think that? We are not married." Hermione said, feeling terribly flustered, especially by the way Harry was blushing. Was her face that red?
The goblin presented the knife and parchment as he spoke, "I am a trained Gringotts goblin, Mrs. Potter. It was without saying I am adept at recognizing magical contracts, those of wizarding marriage included."
Already feeling lightheaded before the cut, Hermione let her blood fall onto the parchment. It spread, confirming the goblin's words with each stroke.
Hermione Jane Potter nee. Granger
Heir to House Potter by Marriage
Hermione felt quesy. She looked over to Harry, whose expression mirrored her feelings. How on earth had they become married? Sometime when they traveled back in time.
"Forgive me, sir." Hermione said to the goblin, "But I don't know when this could have happened. I, um, well I have no memory of ever getting married."
"An arranged marriage by your parents? It might have happened when you were too young to realize what you were doing." The goblin offered.
Harry shook his head. "Our parents didn't know each other and Hermione is muggle-born to boot."
The goblin was silent for a moment in thought. "But the two of you have, at some point, kissed? It is with a kiss that a magical contract of this sort is sealed."
Hermione blushed anew, "Yes, we have kissed." She admitted.
"Then perhaps you are soul-bonded. We have no way of knowing." The goblin said, "In any case, the rings?"
"Yes." Said Harry, "Please fetch them and we'll be on our way."
When they were fitted with the identical rings, nothing appeared to have changed. There was no magic feeling or sudden light, but upon a second parchment test, results differed.
Lord Harry James Potter, Head of House Potter
Holder of Vaults #686-687
Lady Hermione Jane Potter nee Granger, Wife of Harry Potter, Head of House Potter
Holder of Vaults #686-687
"I don't know what to make of this." Said Hermione.
"It is not of my concern." Said the goblin, "Shall I show you to your vaults?"
Harry and Hermione looked at each other. At once, they nodded.
Vault #687, as it turned out, was a single vault dedicated only to Harry's school years. A trust fund, more or less. Upon becoming an adult, Harry was given access to the greater Potter vault.
Gold. Piles and piles of it, and not in coins. Goblets. Gold-hilted swords. Works of art and elegant old clothing. Ridiculous amounts of jewelry.
"I would have expected my parents to have sold these things to finance the war." Harry whispered to Hermione, who clung to his arm, still unsteady from shock.
"I bet they couldn't find any buyers. A lot of these things are probably worth millions of galleons. As if you weren't rich before, Harry Potter."
"Should we take anything?" Harry asked. "We have money aplenty in my 'school vault'. Would anything here be of use to us?"
Hermione pursed her lip. "Let me see. I'll cast a spell to look for enchanted items."
Nearly everything in the room was enchanted, but for durability or shine, nothing useful. Aside from a few clothing pieces.
"Armor," Said Hermione, "Made to look ordinary. It's durable. We wouldn't have to worry about damaging it and it'll size to fit us. We should wear these."
The outfits were rather grand. House Potter was fond of the color red, gold, and rubies. They packed into Hermione's already heavy backpack extra clothes to wear at school, including a set of uniforms that were clearly made for Harry to wear at school.
"Why weren't these in the school vault?" Harry asked, looking quizzically at the uniforms.
"I expect - " Hermione stopped herself. She was so blunt. "Your, um... I expect they expected to with you, to give them to you."
Harry understood and nodded a little sadly.
"It's a shame there aren't any for you. Perhaps we could have some made."
Hermione shook her head. "Enchantments like those are ridiculously expensive and difficult to get ahold of. I'll just wear a shift under my uniform. Look, we have some here." She indicated.
The clothing was the only immediately useful thing in the vault. After changing clothes and taking what they needed, they turned back and packed away a considerable amount of galleons from Harry's school vault.
"We should hurry." Hermione said, "We've lingered here for a while."
Once they were able to apparate, they could return to Diagon Alley much more easily, so their only goal currently was a wand.
The fine wizarding clothing made Hermione feel uncomfortably out-of-place, but no one in Alley gave her a second look, nor Harry, who wore the hood on his outer robe up to hid his scar and hair. The clothes were very comfortable, at least, Hermione had to give them that.
"Hermione, there's just one problem," Harry said, "Olivander is sure to recogize me. He knew me right away last time around."
Shoot. She hadn't thought of that. What should they do?
"I know! Harry describe your wand to me, in detail. I know lots of wizards who purchase two - I'll get my wand and yours. In the meantime, you can head to the petshop and find Hedwig."
Harry smiled widely, glad that she had remembered. "Should I find Crookshanks too?" He asked.
Hermione laughed, "I purchased Crookshanks in my third year! I doubt the cat was there the entire time, but feel free to have a look."
After their conversation, Hermione stepped into Olivander's only a little nervously. It was surprisingly bright inside, not dark and mystical as Harry had described it and Olivander was sitting cheerfully behind the counter.
"Hello!" He called to her when the door jingled, "How can I help you today? Lookin for your first wand, miss?"
Hermione smiled. He was a very friendly old man, "Yes, sir! Though, I'm actually looking for two. I've been told it's good to learn with a wand you are less adept with, so that you are more powerful working with your proper wand."
The man chuckled, "Sounds like advice right out of an auror's handbook. In any case, I'll be happy to find you a second wand, young lady. Let's find your proper wand first, shall we?"
The experience was easy and Hermione ended up with the exact wand she had used in the other timeline.
"Now how about this for your practise wand?" Olivander asked, presenting a wand with a unicorn hair core.
Hermione shook her head, "Actually, for my second wand, I was hoping for a phoenix feather core."
Olivander merely shrugged, "Any wand you like, miss."
He showed her several phoenix feather wands, all of which is declined for one reason or another. After all while, Olivander began to express frustration.
"Young lady, I'm afraid that's all the pheonix feather wands we have! You'll have to choose now."
"Are you sure?" Hermione asked, "I'd heard the Olivander family was famous for their holly and pheonix feather wands. Don't you have any?"
Olivander huffed. "Yes, I suppose there is one." He muttered under his breath, "Though you'll probably refuse that too."
What he showed her was definitely Harry's wand. She recognized it, as familiar as Harry was.
After waving it she exclaimed, "That's perfect!"
Olivander was clearly startled. "Are you certain, miss? Why not one of these, this willow-wood and pheonix feather is very elegant."
"No, this is perfect and I would like to buy it. Two holdsters too please."
Olivander hesitated, but allowed her to buy the wand.
Hermione lingered in the door as she exited, just a little confused on his attatchment to Harry's wand.
"Oh, well." Olivander muttered quietly, "I can always make another for him."
Him. That could only mean Harry. What was Olivander's motive? She frowned in thought, but smiled and forgot her worries when seeing Harry. He was holding Hedwig in her small cage and a cat carrier - surely not!
But it was! Harry had managed to find Crookshanks, in the blood. Hermione immediately took him out and hugged her cat.
"I can't believe you found him! Thank you, Harry!"
Harry laughed, "The man there said no one would buy, he was too ugly for posher wizards."
Hermione cooed, "How could anyone ever think you were ugly, Crookshanks?" Hermione was sure her cat was the cutest being in the world, fat and short-limbed, with a squashed face and murky orange color.
"Ah, whatever you think. What you should be worrying about is explaining your new pet to your parents."
"That's no trouble." Said Hermione, "I got him last time around, didn't I? My parents don't mind at all - they want me to have a pet, but I never wanted one. Until you! Crookshanks!"
Harry seemed very happy that she was happy, "Anyway, did you get my wand?"
Hermione frowned. She tucked Crookshanks back into his carrier and turned to speak to Harry seriously. She explained in detail Olivander's actions.
"That is suspicious, but not condemnably so. Maybe he thought it was phrophetic, my wand matching my enemy's?"
Hermione wasn't sure, so she only shrugged. They could worry about it later. For now, they both needed to head home.
"Do you have muggle money for train fare, Harry?"
"Oh, don't worry about that - I'm staying here. I'll rent a room above the Leaky Cauldron, like I did that summer I ran away. I... don't want to go back to the Dursley's. Now that I don't have to, and now that I've seen the world, I'm never going back there."
Hermione was fretful, "But Harry! If you do that, people will know you know about magic. You can't stay here, even if you are lawfully an adult."
Harry bit his lip. "I see, but I'm still not going back. Where should I stay."
Hermione thought for a while. She thought and thought and thought, just to make sure, even though she knew the answer from the start.
"It's fine," She said, "You'll just have to stay with us."
I know my writing and self-editing are terrible, so any advice on spelling, grammar, style, or anything else is welcome. Also feel free to tell me anywhere you think the story should go, I'm open to ideas.