Chapter 11- The Portrait

Time to go.

Sneaking at night wasn't difficult for Hermione anymore. She did it for the last two months; she was getting used to it. Except right now Hermione was being extra careful by putting disillusionment charm while still in dormitories, which truly was Sirius' fault.

He already saw her yesterday and, even though she didn't think he would cause a lot of trouble, Hermione still didn't want him catching her two mornings in a row; definitely not on a Sunday night when classes were about to start in just under nine hours.

Hermione just couldn't figure out what his problem was. Honestly, it could have been anything from insomnia to studying in secret. In any case, she had to figure out how to predict his moves; especially if he was serious about figuring her out.

Ugh, I could really use the map.

She thought she wouldn't need it because of the disillusionment charm, but it was starting to look like it could be a valuable asset after all. Too bad Hermione asked neither Sirius nor Remus about the spells used for the Marauder's map in her previous life. It probably wouldn't be that difficult, though, because she had quite a few theories about the process, but it would still take a lot of time and research.

Was it worth it?

Hermione was almost near the Room of Requirement when her thoughts were interrupted by voices that seemed to be coming closer.

Remembering that she was invisible, she pushed herself against the wall and tried not to make noise.

"Would it really be that bad to just tell your family about us and be done with it?" A male asked.

"Are you kidding?" The girl let out a sarcastic laugh. "Did you hear about the howler my aunt sent to Sirius? Even Narcissa said he brought shame to the Black name. All he did was get into the wrong house, Ted! Imagine what would happen if I told them I was in love with a muggleborn," she hissed the last word and Hermione realized she was listening to Andromeda and Ted Tonks. Oh, please no.

"Well, I imagine they would at least stop caring about Sirius' house problem." The boy tried to joke.

"Not funny, Ted." Hermione could almost hear Andromeda rolling her eyes.

"What are we going to do then, Dromeda? Hide our relationship until we die?" Ted began to sound irritated.

"I just- I need time to figure out the best way to tell them, Teddy." Andromeda said in a whisper. "Give me until graduation."

"You know there is no best way." Ted sighed. "Narcissa probably won't care enough to fight, but you know your parents will. And Bellatrix will probably hunt me down and try to Avada me. Eight months won't change any of that."

"You're probably right, but I still want to wait until all hell breaks loose. Please." Andromeda hugged Ted and Hermione was sure they were about to start making out in front of her destination.

Okay, that's enough. Hermione didn't want to disturb them, but there was no way she was going to witness their love for each other.

She wanted to use magic, but the only spell she could think of was Bombarda and she wasn't sure that would be wise. Therefore, as silently as she could, Hermione took off her shoe and threw it to the other side of the corridor.

"What was that?" Andromeda whisper-shouted to Ted.

"Could be Filch." Ted answered. "Let's go." He took her hand and they ran in the opposite direction.

Yeah, okay. The Map might be worth it.

Making sure nobody else was coming her way she finally retrieved her shoe and went inside her training room to get her bag; then repeated the action to call for the room of hidden things.

Once again Hermione was stunned by the sheer size of it. It really could take years to find anything in there without help.

Hopefully, my theory is correct.

She retrieved the compass that the room had given her and started to work.

The idea was simple. As were all of my ideas. If she could charm it to react to the Basilisk venom instead of the earth's magnetic fields, she might be able to detect the horcrux. From what Harry told her, when he jumped into the lake to get the sword, the locket tried to go in the opposite direction, showing the magical relationship that the two objects had. They were complete opposites.

She knew how to search for the similar things already. Wizards have done that numerous times using the attraction spell. It helped to find books on the same subject, animals of the same species and even the paintings of the same person. Magic force would work just as well.

She wasn't sure if the opposite spell existed, but it didn't really matter in this case, because she had an arrow that pointed south. She would make it work.

The only problem with the attraction spell was that the charm itself was rather simple and didn't perform properly on spell-protected items, which she was sure the horcrux was, since Accio was useless.

The good news, however, was that Hermione didn't need it to actually work; she just needed it to be strong enough to point her in the right direction. She was sure a bit of meddling would be able to give her that.

The importance of the compass working wasn't lost on her. If Hermione was successful in finding the diadem, she could find other horcruxes just as easily when she was in close proximity to them. Finding the ring, diary and, especially, the cup would be so much faster than she previously thought.

Oh, Merlin, please let this work.

20 minutes later the charm on the compass was complete and ready for testing.

Hermione also managed to install a small container in the middle of it that would hold the Basilisk venom. She made it hard to break, so not a single drop of the poisonous liquid would be wasted.

She dropped a few drops of the venom inside and almost instantly got a reaction. It was working! The arrows spun for ten seconds straight before stopping. She followed the south arrow, constantly checking her progress. It took about half an hour, but she reached a cabinet with glass doors. Inside of it, on a decorative green pillow, was the diadem she came here to destroy.

Really, she expected it to be protected better; or at least not to be on display. Then again, Voldemort was nothing if not a show-off. And she had to be honest, it's not like she found it when she was actually looking for it. There might have been a few distraction charms placed on it.

Not that she cared about that anymore. There were other things on her mind. First of all, Hermione was about to destroy the first horcrux and she only got her memories back six months ago. Second of all, the compass actually worked. She couldn't wait to use it again.

First things first.

Hermione was reluctant to touch the diadem for the fear of dark curses, but then she realised that her fear was irrational. She already knew that it wasn't going to cause her harm, so after a quick talk with herself she finally had the horcrux in her hands.

And wanted to throw it away almost instantly.

She felt similar, yet lesser, uneasiness than when she wore the Slytherin's locket; probably because she actually wore that damned thing for weeks. Not this time.

Hermione put the horcrux on the ground and reached in her bag for the basilisk fang. She wondered if she would see any visions, before she aimed it.

"You shouldn't do it." A familiar voice said.

She turned around faster than ever before looking for the wizard, wand already aimed, but instead found herself looking at a painting.

"What the- Merlin?!"

"In the flesh," the wizard's portrait said. "Or rather, in the canvas." He chuckled.

"How are you here? I thought there were no portraits made of you." Hermione was too confused to focus on his words.

"This is the only one, actually. I asked it to be put where nobody would disturb me once I passed." Merlin answered.

She wasn't sure what was the point of a painting that nobody could talk to or admire, but she wasn't about to question Merlin.

"I'm so happy you're here." She sighed. "I wasn't sure I would see you again."

"I'm sorry," the portrait image furrowed his brows. "Have we met?"

"Yes, my name is Hermione. You don't know who I am?" She questioned.

"Should I?"

"But you-I-oh, of course you don't know." She said and almost slapped herself. He was a portrait. Just a representation. He didn't have any memories of what happened after the painting was finished. "I used the box you created." She offered.

"You did?"

"Yes, the last one." She answered and noted his surprised look. "And it brought me here." She continued. "I even spoke to you in a dream- Doesn't matter." She shook her head. "I don't know how much you know about the outside world, but I'm here to stop an extremely evil wizard named Voldemort. That's why I need to destroy this diadem," she pointed to the ground.

"It was Rowena Ravenclaw's." He said as if it was sacred. "The legacy of one of the founders. A piece of history that the world will never be able to get back if you destroy it."

"I know, but it is also a horcrux." She pointed out, even though she suspected he already knew that. "I don't want to destroy it either, trust me, but the piece of soul inside of it needs to go. I made my peace with it long ago. Destroying the object that the soul is in is the only way."

"The only way you're aware of." Was all Merlin said.

"Excuse me?"

"There is- how much do you know about me?" The wizard asked suddenly. "Of my personal life story? Did I tell you about the Celts in your dream?"

"About the four treasures?" She questioned. "Yes. You said I should look for them and create more boxes. And I will, I promise. But I still need to get rid of the horcruxes first."

"Hermione. There is a potion."

"A potion?" She repeated dumfounded.

"Yes." He confirmed. "One of the original ten. I cannot tell you what it does, but it would help you save Rowena's diadem."

"But would it destroy the piece of Voldemort's soul inside of it?" Hermione questioned, still full of doubts.

"It would."

Oh, Merlin.

On one hand, she could save part of the history. After the war, she always hated Voldemort for using something so important for his horcruxes and all but forcing the trio to destroy them. The only thing that made her feel better was that it was the only way. Not anymore, however. On the other hand, the diadem was here. She could finish with this horcrux once and for all right now and cross it off her list. She had the tools; it would take seconds.

Yes, she could do it now; she could also destroy it at any point. Plus, would she really be able to forgive herself for not at least trying to find the potion first? And she didn't need to have the diadem with her at all times; she could keep it here and draw a map for Dumbledore just in case.

"Okay, I'll do it. I'll look for the Cauldron." She stated and saw Merlin begin to smile. "But I'm taking your portrait to my training room so you can help me." Hermione smirked.

Where was that stupid book?

Merlin, both the paining and the dream version, told her that it was in the library.

It wasn't.

Obviously, the things changed since the last time Merlin was here. Either that, or she was both blind and stupid. She searched the whole place numerous times; including the restricted section, which she risked entering during the day with the disillusionment charm.

The book was still nowhere to be found. She wasn't even sure anymore if wizards knew about the Celts.

"You're a pureblood, right?" She asked Leo as soon as he sat down next to her on Monday night.

"And hello to you too, Rosie." He said raising his eyebrows. "And yes, I am. Why?"

"Well, you must know more about the magical history then, right? Have you heard about the Celts?" She questioned.

"Uhm, sure." Leo answered confused. "Lived in this area way back, were called druids instead of wizards, practiced more of an element related magic." He finished. "Why are you interested? I don't remember that being on the syllabus."

"It's not." Hermione answered. "I just wanted to compare muggle and wizarding literature on the topic and I can't find any actual books on them, just references. It's really annoying." She huffed.

"You're more of a geek than I am." Leo laughed. "You should ask professor Binns about that."

"Of course! Cannot believe I didn't think to ask him. You're a genius. Thanks!" She smiled.

"You're welcome." He nodded and Hermione could swear there was a slight blush on his cheeks. "So, have you got any ideas for the potions essay?"


Professor Binns was more than surprised to get a question. He actually ignored Hermione for a minute, thinking that she wasn't speaking to him. After that awkward moment, he finally said that he didn't have any books on the subject, since Celts were only briefly mentioned in his classes, and, therefore, weren't important to him. However, he still managed to be useful, since he knew someone who had a collection of books about the early history of magic.

Professor Dumbledore. Figures.

She was a bit afraid to talk to the old man. He might figure her out. And there was also the fact that she went behind her friends' backs and didn't tell him anything in the first place. She didn't know if that was the right choice and she was scared to find out she made a mistake.

She still had to go, however. The headmaster probably had the book and she needed it. There was no time for fear; she was a Gryffindor for a reason.

Hermione went to the gargoyle and asked to see the headmaster on an academic matter. She never had to ask to see him before, so she wasn't sure of the protocol. However, she must have done something right since the gargoyle moved, leaving a passage that she knew all too well.

It took less than a minute to enter his actual chamber, which looked almost identical to the one she knew from the future and could only be described as organized chaos. Or simply chaos. She honestly wasn't sure how he could ever find anything in here. Of course, when you have magic, who cares about putting things in their places?

"Miss Evans. How can I help?" The headmaster asked from behind his desk. Did he know everyone's names?

"Hello, professor." Hermione greeted the headmaster. "I was talking to Professor Binns and he said that you might have some books on a subject I am interested in." She went straight to the point.

"And what would that be?"

"Celtic culture." She answered and the headmaster raised his eyebrows in question.

"I wanted to compare magical and muggle world research about them. I find them and their culture fascinating. And the library doesn't really have books about them for some reason." She didn't let her frustration show.

"Right, it wouldn't." He nodded thoughtfully. "We concentrate more on the more recent magic practices so most of the books were taken out. I do have a small collection over there that I kept, however," he pointed to the bookshelf. "Please take what you like. They seem to only be collecting dust over there."

"Thank you, sir." Her heart was beating faster as she went to look for the one book she wanted.

It wasn't like she necessarily needed the book. She could live without it and just destroy the diadem. But Merlin was right; it was a piece of history. She hated Voldemort even more in her past for making her destroy something so intertwined with the history of magic itself. She felt than even when the pieces were destroyed, Voldemort still won, because he made the magic world lose something just as precious as a soul. She would love to see his face if she managed to save the pieces while still being able to destroy him. Not the diary, though. She wouldn't save the diary. No, she would stab it. Repeatedly.

She browsed the books while she was having her inner monologue. There were a lot of great works in here; some muggle literature as well, which wasn't expected, but not that shocking either.

In the middle of the bookshelf she finally saw the book and had to wonder why she didn't see it before. It was a huge tome and the title was written in a particularly large shrift on the spine.

"I'll take this one, if that's alright." She struggled a bit with the weight of it.

"That's a great choice." The headmaster smiled. "I hope you enjoy it."

She was about to leave when she thought that maybe her friends were right. Maybe letting Dumbledore in on her story would help. He had connections, after all. With his help, they could collect the horcruxes faster. He had some manipulative tendencies, yes, but maybe hearing her story would make him let her in? Make him learn from the mistakes he hasn't made yet.

"Sir, I was wondering," she turned to his desk. "I read some myths about devices that allow you to go back in time. Is it possible?" She decided to start vaguely.

"Why, yes, Miss Evans, it is." He answered excitedly, probably impressed by her interest. "We have only actually created time turners, however, which allow you to travel back twenty four hours. They have their uses, of course, but you have to be extremely careful not to change anything."

"Of course," she nodded. "But, sir, if you had an opportunity to go back further and actually change something significant, would you do it?" She questioned. "We just learned in history of magic that you defeated Grindelwald. If you didn't, would you want to go back in time and try again?"

"I would be tempted to, sure, but I have to believe I would stop myself from that mistake." He waited a moment before continuing. "Time should never be disturbed, for it can destroy all the good that happened before it was changed. Selfish motivations should not disrupt something that is greater that the person." He finished and Hermione almost called him a hypocrite. He encouraged her to change time to save Sirius, did he not? Well not yet, but he would. Yes, one could argue that time wasn't necessarily already set then like it was in her case and that no consequences had time to occur, but he still encouraged her to use time turned to change something quite significant.

"Even if it was for the greater good?" She emphasized the word.

He looked up evaluating her, probably wondering how much she knew of his past.

"Greater good definition might differ between different people." He said slowly. "So yes, even if it was for the greater good, I would still not dare to defy time. If somebody wanted to save the world, they ought to do so in the present."

"What if that wasn't possible?" Hermione asked, but already knew what he was going to say.

"There is always a way for those who search for it."

Yes, and time travel was that way. Anger was building up inside of her. She tried everything! Nothing worked. There was no stopping anyone, no possible solution. How dare he judge me. Well, he didn't know, but still. She tried so hard to find something that would work in the present. She did it for years. And he just died as part of his own scheme before Voldemort was even dead. They were children, for crying out loud. He just left all of them without any actual information, just clues. He left her a book; a book that she wasted so much time on. And she knew he knew about everything they figured out in that year. He had to know. Hell, he knew the cloak was a hallow. Hermione argued with Harry for ages about their existence. And all he did was leave a drawing. Skeeter's book about him turned out to be more useful than his clues. Why, so that Harry would die at the right time?

They suffered for so long; without knowing what the horcruxes were, without knowing that Harry was one of them, that Snape loved Lily and so was sort of helping them. And, oh Merlin, Snape. Was it to crazy for Hermione to think that Dumbledore knew Voldemort would figure out about the wand allegiance and kill Snape? Is that why he insisted Snape should be the one to kill him? That had to be a coincidence. He couldn't have known Voldemort would figure it out before his demise. He would never actually sacrifice one of his own for the greater good, would he? No, he would've at least told him.

Hermione just stood there, her mind racing miles per minute.

"Is there something you wish to tell me, Miss Evans?" The headmaster looked deeply into her eyes.

"No, sir," she said after a pause, putting on her Occlumency shields just in case . "Of course not," she even managed a smile. "Time travel is just a topic that I'm passionate about. Thank you for discussing it with me."

"No problem, Miss Evans." He looked at the Celts book. "Will that be all?"

"Yes, sir. Goodbye."

She left.

He was such a contradictory wizard.

Hermione was happy she didn't tell him her story, though. For months she felt guilty about not listening to her friends, felt like she betrayed them. She was happy she did it now. While he was a master planner, it seemed he still would have tried to stop her from trying to alter the past.

Maybe he was right. Hermione was scared about the consequences too. She had a plan, but who knew whether it would stop the Death Eaters even if Voldemort was destroyed for the first and only time. However, she couldn't let Dumbledore stop her from trying. Everything else has failed. And, for better or for worse, the timeline she came from didn't even exist anymore. The only way to go was forward.

She was flipping through the book in anger, which she hated herself for doing, but couldn't stop. Dumbledore's words hit quite close to home and she wanted a distraction.

She finally found the chapter about the treasures.

"And so, to prevent their enemies from using the relics to their advantage, the four most trusted druids divided them amongst themselves and travelled in four different directions, guided by the elements that ruled them.

The first druid carrying the sword traveled west and reached his destination at the most important time of the fall. He hid the relic at the highest peak of the biggest hill, praying for the Winds to protect it when the magic left him. The Winds agreed.

The second druid carrying the stone traveled up north and reached her destination in winter, when the dark ruled the light. She hid the stone under the magical tree that she prayed for the Earth to protect when the magic left her. The Earth agreed.

The third druid carrying the cauldron traveled east and reached his destination at the very beginning of the spring. He hid the relic in the amber palace of the waters and prayed for the Seas to protect it when the magic left him. The Seas agreed.

The fourth druid carrying the spear traveled down south and was ready to hide the treasure when the light took over the dark. She left the relic in the harshest of heats and prayed for the Fire to protect it when the magic left her. The Fire agreed."

Scholars argue about the validity of information provided in the tale of the Treasures of the Tuatha Dé Danann, since generations exchanged the information before it was written down. The agreed upon components include the theory that the relics only become available at specific times of the year and can be found at the places that can easily be deduced from the tale (See page 394).

Why then nobody has claimed to have found them yet?

This question seems to ignite arguments in the wizard scholars the most. Some claim that the relics are only used as a metaphor to describe an accomplished druid, while others continue to believe their existence and suggest that the magical protection and challenges surrounding them require significant power to break through.

They suggest that all relics are protected by different branch of magic. For example,…

The explanation went for another twenty pages.

From what she gathered, she could only get the cauldron in the spring; most likely on the spring equinox. Since it was only November, she had almost five months to prepare a plan. And, probably, enough time to try and look for the ring as well.

A/N: Surprise, my dear readers! I hope you liked the new chapter. I know it included a lot of random stuff I just created in my head, but I hope it wasn't too crazy and actually made sense. I always felt like they (Hermione more than others) should have been angrier about the fact that they were destroying pieces of Hogwarts' history. Let me know what you thought. Oh, I also know that there are some fans of Dumbledore out there and I just want to say that I wasn't trying to make him particularly bad in this story, but I still needed Hermione to not reveal her secret. I hope you understand. (By the way, the part about Snape and the elder wand stuff is actually something I think about from time to time irl and tend to lean towards the 'greater good' stuff)

As per usual, please follow, favourite and/or review. Constructive criticism, suggestions and praise are always appreciated by me. Thank you and I hope you have a fantastic day!x