Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns Harry Potter.
A/N: Well, it had to happen eventually, didn't it. I wrote a time-travel story. However, I hope this one comes off with a bit of a different angle. Amongst the many, many time-travel stories I've seen on this site, I haven't come across this idea before, even though I think it's one of the most logical ones. Should be 5-7 chapters total. Off-screen Harry/Hermione, for those who are interested.
The little girl awoke and wondered where on earth she was. Things didn't seem right here. Her body didn't feel right, for one: all the wrong shape—a good deal thicker, but somehow a lot lighter than it had been before. She was also lying on something huge and very thick and soft, not like a normal bed at all, and her head was lying on a pillow, but a huge one. Was she even on planet Earth? The gravity didn't feel right. But no, that was a question only a muggle-born could have thought up. There was no reason (and probably no way) for magic to take her to another planet.
She tried to move her limbs, and her hands gripped something big and soft and fluffy. She fumbled with her hands a little. They felt awkward and clumsy and much less nimble than she was used to, but she started feeling around, trying to take stock of her body. She realised with a start that her head felt too big, and her hair was short and curly, not even reaching her chin, not the long, bushy mane she was used to. Something was very wrong.
The girl opened her eyes, blinking in the morning light. The room was a familiar one—the one she had slept in for most of the first twelve years of her childhood plus summers afterwards. But it looked different—bigger than it did before. She looked down at her hands. The soft thing she was holding turned out to be an enormous stuffed otter, nearly as big as she was. Her hands looked fatter than they should be and oddly smooth and unwrinkled, even delicate-looking.
On closer inspection, she found she was in a bed after all, but an impossibly large one…and why were there safety rails on the sides?
Then, in a flash, she remembered.
Her name was Hermione Granger. She had been through seven years of increasingly insane and dangerous fights, culminating in a battle in which fifty-four good people, many of them friends, had died. And so had one very bad person in particular.
Voldemort was dead, and the nation had felt like celebrating, but to those who had lost so much, there was no cause for celebration. They buried their dead and did their best to move on with their lives, only that turned out to be the hardest part of all.
She had survived the war, and against all odds, so had Harry Potter, the love of her life. When they finally got a chance to hold each other after that battle, they never wanted to let go. Now that it was over, they thought they could finally give their relationship a real try and actually act on all those feelings they had pushed aside for so long for the sake of the war. And they had tried, and it was good a lot of the time, but after all that, a year after the final battle, Harry wasn't happy. She wasn't happy. They truth was, they were broken. Both of them had lost too many people—good people—family, friends, and mentors, all the way back to Harry's parents.
And it was that last part that had really got her thinking.
What if it didn't have to be that way?
She had worked on it, to some degree, almost from when the bodies were still warm on the battlefield, as if she knew instinctively that it would come to this.
She had walked into the Department of Mysteries (there were perks to being a war hero) and asked the Unspeakables if there might be a way to change what had happened. Of course, the answer was no. They had tried long-distance time travel before, and it hadn't ended well. But Hermione had asked to see their files anyway, and, working together, they had come up with the idea of possibly sending a message instead of a person, which, with some further refinement, led to the plan they had ultimately tried. It was stupid and dangerous and crazy, not to mention a one-way trip, but she had to do it. She had to do it for him—for all of them, but especially for Harry.
The ritual required a young mind to undergo it—something about the plasticity of the brain. The older a person was, the higher the risk that it would drive them insane. By twenty-five, they were plum out of luck. But whoever did it had to go back so far; they would have to have been alive and able to communicate in the fall of 1981. At twenty, Hermione was the only person capable of making the trip who was crazy enough (or desperate enough) to do it, and realistically, there was a good chance she would fail.
And even if she succeeded, it's not easy to convince your parents that you've suddenly woken up with eighteen years' worth of memories from the future on your second birthday.
Hermione was pretty sure she wasn't insane, unless this was all some big hallucination, so that was a good sign to start out. The next step was to talk to her parents and convince them that she wasn't insane. Well, nothing for it. It was early enough that they would probably still be in bed. She crawled out of her own bed and planted her feet on the floor.
And promptly fell flat on her face.
Being so short, it didn't really hurt, but she definitely didn't have her grown-up legs that had carried her all over Britain on the run from Death Eaters for a solid year. Her proportionally thicker two-year-old body wasn't used to heavy exertion and didn't have the muscle control and coordination she was used to. Still, she was a girl on a mission. She picked herself up and toddled to her parents' room, where she climbed up on their bed.
Dan and Emma Granger slowly blinked away to find their daughter sitting quietly on their bed, watching them intently. Oddly, to them, Hermione looked like she was struggling to hold back tears. They looked so young, she thought. Predictably enough, she didn't have any memories of them looking that young. It was also weird to see them looking that big, though neither was unexpected.
"Er…hi…" she said, trying her voice for the first time. It was high and squeaky, but hopefully not too hard to understand.
"Hi," her mother said with a smile, no doubt thinking Hermione was in one of her strange toddler moods. "Happy birthday, sweetie."
"Happy birthday," her father repeated.
"Thank you," she said, a little dismissively. "Mummy, Daddy, we need to talk."
Her parents giggled at what they must have thought was a two-year-old trying to sound like a grown-up. This wasn't going to be easy. How could she to explain to them that she wasn't the same little girl they had tucked into bed last night, but a much older, wiser, and more troubled version of herself, who had seen things no little girl should see?
"Now, Hermione, just because it's your birthday doesn't mean we're going to change your nap time," Mum said patronisingly.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Not about that, Mummy…Listen…This is going to sound completely insane, but…" She took a deep breath. Might as well just dive in: "I'm actually Hermione from the year 1999. I'm a witch, and I went to a school for witches and wizards for seven years, and I sent my memories back in time to stop an evil wizard from killing my boyfriend's parents."
Despite being away from the muggle world for so long, she was well aware of how ridiculous that sounded. What she hadn't been prepared for was that it sounded even crazier in her squeaky two-year-old voice. Sure enough, her parents started laughing. Even though it was possible no twenty-four-month-old in history could have strung together sentences like that, they couldn't think of anything but their daughter playing a very bizarre little game.
"That's really very clever, Hermione," Dad said. "You weren't talking nearly that well yesterday. How did you ever come up with all of that? And who's this boyfriend you mentioned?" he teased.
Hermione gave a heavy sigh that she hoped got the frustrated twenty-year-old attitude across: "His name's Harry Potter, and he's rich and good-looking and really nice, and he's got this annoyingly noble saving people thing, and he was famous for defeating the evil wizard, but now he's not because it hasn't happened yet."
Mum giggled again. "Well, it sounds like you've got your fairy tale ending all figured out."
"I will have done if I save his parents. Can we go to London today? Pleeease?"
"London? Why do you want to go to London?"
"To change some pounds to galleons, buy my wand if Ollivander's made it yet, and catch the bus to Hogwarts—that's the magical school—so I can tell Professor Dumbledore how to beat Lord Voldemort."
"Well…well…well, we can't go to London today," Mum said through her laughter, surprised that her daughter was keeping this up for so long. "All of our family and friends are coming for your birthday party."
And now, Hermione realised her first miscalculation. "Oh, no. Mummy, Daddy, do they have to?"
"What? Don't you want to have a birthday party?" ask Dad.
"But now I'll have to pretend to be two all day."
"But you are two, sweetie," Mum said. "That's what your birthday means."
"I know that, Mummy. But my body is two. My mind is twenty. That's what I keep telling you. I don't even remember how to be two."
"Whatever you say, dear."
"But I'm telling the truth! Oh, if only I had my wand, or I was old enough to do accidental magic. Stupid two-year-old body."
"Hey, now, there's nothing wrong with being two years old, Hermione," Dad said. "You'll grow up soon enough."
"But I only have till Halloween to save Harry's parents!"
"Well, that's a long way away then. If you're good, maybe we can go to London tomorrow."
"It's only forty-two days, Daddy, and I…Oh, fine," she grumbled. "We can go tomorrow, then, or…what day of the week is it today?"
Mum started up her little-kid-teaching tone: "Well, yesterday was Friday, so…"
"Right. Well, Sunday's probably the best, anyway." Hermione took a deep breath to calm herself. "I mean, we've got until Halloween. We'll probably meet fewer students roaming the halls on a Sunday, and—"
"Hold on," Dad switched gears. "Hermione, did you just count the number of days until Halloween in your head a minute ago?"
"Of course not, Daddy. I made sure I knew before I came back. Anyway, on a Sunday, Dumbledore will be able to call in McGonagall, Hagrid, and…Snape…anytime. Hmm…I'll have to think about what to do about Snape."
"Wait, what?" Dad said. "Who's Snape? And…and Hagrid…and…?"
"They're teachers at the magic school," Hermione said. "Dumbledore is the Headmaster, McGonagall teaches Transfiguration. Snape teaches Potions, but he's also a double agent in the war, and Hagrid—well, right now, he's the groundskeeper, but he started teaching Magical Creatures after the whole Chamber of Secrets incident…Merlin's beard, I'm gonna have to tell Dumbledore to clear Hagrid's name, too…I'd better start a to-do list. Is there a pen here?" She climbed off the bed, toddled to the bedside table, and stood on tip-toe to look in the drawer.
"Merlin's beard?" Mum said in confusion.
"Aha!" She fished out a notepad and pen from the drawer and climbed back up on the bed with a grunt. Flipping open the notepad, she began to write: "To…do…" She frowned when the letters came out as a barely legible scribble, like she was trying to write left-handed, at best, but she pressed on. "Go…to…Diagon…Alley…" The letters started to run together. "Augh! Stupid two-year-old motor skills. Here, could you write this down for me please, Mummy?"
Mum took the notepad with that same patronising smile, but it was quickly wiped off her face when she saw the letters. Hermione could have smacked herself. She should have thought of that to start with. "Dan…" Mum whispered, showing him the pad. His eyes grew as wide as hers. "Hermione…you can write?" she said.
"Yeah, well I could write a lot better if I had a fully-developed cerebellum," Hermione grumbled and crossed her arms.
"I told you. Magic and time travel."
"Magic and time travel?" Dad said incredulously.
"Yes—You don't believe me, do you?"
"Well, it's just that…uh, we really wouldn't think you could do either of those things, Hermione."
"Well, I can. I'm not lying, Daddy. And I'm not crazy. I'm a witch, and I can do real magic."
"I'm sure you can."
"I'm not playing a game! I could show you if I had a wand."
"Oh, and where would get a wand?"
"At Mr. Ollivander's shop in London. I already told you," she said exasperatedly. "Why won't you believe me? Oh, I wish I could just do some accidental magic. It would make things so much easier." She wondered if she was actually capable of it at this age. She tried to concentrate on doing something—levitating the bedside lamp maybe.
"Sweetie, we want to believe you," Dad said soothingly. She had to question the truth of that. "But you're not making any sense."
"I'm making perfect sense," she snapped angrily. "You just don't want to believe me. I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. I used magic to come back in time from the year 1999. You have to believe me!"
"Hermione, please calm down," Mum said. Hermione had noticed that Mum had become very quiet, trying to figure out how she could write on the notepad and use the big words she'd been using.
She didn't let up. "I will not calm down!" she cried shrilly. "I'm trying to save my boyfriend's parents! There's an evil wizard who wants to kill them because of a prophecy, and I'm the only one who can stop him!" Actually, she was starting to think maybe it wouldn't be that hard to be two. It must be her two-year-old limbic system, which was not yet developed enough to properly handle adult emotions.
Her mother's voice hardened: "Hermione, I think maybe you need a time out."
Hermione grew angrier still: "I do not need a time out. I'm twenty bloody years old! I'm trying to save the world here, and you two are acting like a couple of bloody idiots!"
"That's it," Mum said. "You are definitely getting a time out. You are not to call names or use that kind of language." She picked Hermione up to carry her out of the room.
Hermione started flailing and kicking. "NO I WON'T!" she screamed. "WON'T! WON'T! WON'T! WON'T—!"
And then it happened. The bedside lamp rose up into the air. It vibrated for a moment, and then the light bulb exploded. (Thankfully, the shade blocked the flying glass.) Then, the whole thing crashed to the floor.
Mum and Dad both gasped, and Hermione suddenly went limp with exhaustion. She felt like she'd just run a marathon, or whatever the two-year-old equivalent happened to be.
"Wh-what was that?" Mum said fearfully.
"What was that?" Dad echoed.
"Magic," Hermione said wearily.
"Magic?" Mum said. She sat back down on the bed with her.
"But then…it's all true?" Dad said.
"Every word—about the magic, I mean," Hermione said tearfully. "I'm really, really sorry. I didn't want to call you names. I didn't mean any of it. I don't think you're idiots. It's just that I needed to work myself into enough of a tantrum to do accidental magic."
"Accidental magic? That's what that was?" Dad said. "But how…why…?"
"Young children can do accidental magic before they can control it with a wand," Hermione said sleepily. She was suddenly aware of how nice it felt lying in her mother's arms, even if she was trying to give her a time out. "It's powered by strong emotions. That's why I had to throw a massive temper tantrum in order to do it. I really am sorry. I didn't want to hurt you."
"But then…the boyfriend? The evil wizard? The time travel?" Mum said in horror.
"But then you're really—" Dad said.
"Twenty years old, yes."
"Oh, my baby," Mum said, hugging her tight. "Eighteen years? We've missed eighteen years?"
"Mummy, please try to keep it together," Hermione said quickly. "I promise you both of you were wonderful parents for the next eighteen years, and once we get this sorted out, I hope we can find a way to get those years back, but we need to deal with the evil wizard first." Then, she yawned with a squeak. "I need a nap, now."
"Wh-what?" Mum said in confusion. "A nap? B-but you just got up. Are—are you feeling alright?" Her maternal instincts reasserted themselves, and she felt Hermione's forehead.
"I'm fine," she said. "It's just that accidental magic took a lot out of me."
"Huh? How's that?" Dad said.
"It's hard to do magic before age eleven and a lot harder before age five. My body's really not ready for it."
"Well…do you need to see a doctor?" Mum asked.
"No! No. Magic needs to be kept secret."
"But if it's hurting you—"
"It's not hurting me. I'm just tired. Really. Please don't call the doctor. He'll just start asking questions I can't answer. It's only magical exhaustion. I've had a lot worse."
"Mummy, Daddy, please trust me on this. I promise I'll explain everything later, but right now, I really need that nap."
Her parents finally acquiesced, and Hermione rolled over, curled into her mother's side, and went to sleep.
Hermione woke again, still in her parents' bed. Mum was lying down beside her with one arm wrapped around her. It was surprisingly comforting waking up in that position. She had a lot of complaints about her two-year-old body, but that was one perk to it. Mum was awake, but looked dazed. Hermione could see she'd been crying. She pushed herself up, leaned over and kissed her on the cheek.
Mum blinked back to awareness, sat up, and sat Hermione on her lap. Hermione freely cuddled into her side. It seemed strange to do that at her mental age, but she really felt like she was picking up some natural two-year-old mannerisms. It must be her limbic system again. That was probably why she kept calling them Mummy and Daddy, too. Dad was sitting in a chair by the bed, looking tired and concerned.
"Okay, Hermione," Mum said softly, though she struggled to keep her voice even, "we're all a little calmer now, so can you please start at the beginning and tell us exactly what's going on?"
Hermione was a bit more on top of things, herself. "That depends," she said. "How long do we have before the guests arrive?"
"Oh, goodness, the guests, I forgot." Mum laid a hand to her forehead and checked the clock. "About an hour, and we still need to get ready. But what am I saying? How can we have a party at a time like this? I'll just call it off." She started to rise.
"No, Mummy, wait," Hermione stopped her. "You were right before. We can't just call it off. Magic has to be kept a secret. There's something called the Statute of Secrecy. I'm going to have to do my best to act two, and you'll have to cover for me."
"But you…you're…you said you were…" she started to choke up again.
"I know, but there's nothing we can do. It could cause a lot of trouble if anyone else finds out about magic. You two are allowed to know because you're my parents, but that's it…And besides, it is technically my birthday. It was my birthday when I came back."
"Oh…well…well, then, happy birthday," she replied uncomfortably, then muttering to herself, "We can do this. We can make this work."
"Er, thanks," Hermione said. "Don't worry. It'll be okay."
"Okay, Hermione," Dad finally spoke, "but we still need to know what's going on, especially with that evil wizard you were talking about."
"Fine, uh, let me just give you the quick version. You'll learn the long version tomorrow if all goes well, alright?" Her parents nodded. "Okay, so magic exists. Most humans have no magic powers, but a few do. People with magic are called witches and wizards, and people without magic are called muggles. Don't ask me why; they just are."
She cursed her squeaky two-year-old voice again. She just couldn't sound serious with that voice, and she wasn't sure how long she could keep up talking. "Now, there are about ten thousand witches and wizards in Britain," she continued. "They have their own society that's cut off from the muggle world, but about ten percent of them are muggle-born, which specifically means that they have no magical parents or grandparents—people like me.
"The problem is that some witches and wizards think muggle-borns are inferior to everybody else, and there's this terrorist group called the Death Eaters who want to get rid of us, and Magical Britain is basically fighting a civil war against them. Their leader calls himself Lord Voldemort, and he's so evil and powerful than most people are afraid to say his name."
That probably wasn't what her parents were hoping to hear. They were both staring at her with their mouths hanging open. Hermione reached up with one hand and pushed Mum's mouth closed. She couldn't help but giggle.
"I don't think this is a laughing matter, Hermione," Dad said. "Are we in danger here?"
"No, we're fine, Daddy. My accidental magical from earlier would have registered at the Ministry, but the Death Eaters wouldn't bother with that kind of thing until I turn eleven, even if they have access. But that's not the important thing. The important thing is that there's a baby boy named Harry Potter who lives in…in…come on, I know where he lives…" she said to herself, but she really couldn't think of it. "Wow, I really don't remember where he lives…oh, but that's a good thing! It means the Fidelius Charm is working. Okay, so his location is magically protected from anyone but a few trusted people knowing it."
"And Harry Potter is this boyfriend you mentioned?" Dad clarified.
"Yes, and he's absolutely wonderful, Daddy, so you don't have to worry. But he and his family are in hiding right now because Harry is prophesied to be the one to defeat Voldemort…well, actually, it's a lot more complicated than that, and the prophesy doesn't actually have to be fulfilled, but that's basically it."
"Prophesied?" Mum said incredulously.
"Magic," Hermione reminded her. "Anyway, what they don't know is that the person they entrusted their location to is a traitor. And on Halloween night…" The pain started to come back to her. "This is what's going to happen if I don't stop it. On Halloween night, Voldemort is going to kill Harry's parents. And then he's going to try to kill Harry, but because his mum will die to save him, Voldemort's curse will reflect back on him. It'll destroy his body, but it won't kill him completely. And then…" Her voice choked briefly. "And then he'll come back to life in 1995—the end of my fourth year at Hogwarts, the magic school."
"He can do that?" Mum gasped.
"Yes, he can. Long story—really gruesome, honestly. I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. After that, the war will start up again. Harry and I and some other students will join the effort to fight Voldemort—yes, I know we'll only be kids, but there won't be much else we can do—another long story. The upshot is that Harry will kill Voldemort for good in 1998, but by then, a lot of good people will die—far too many."
"And you…you already lived through all that once?" Mum said in horror.
"I did, Mummy," Hermione said, her voice cracking.
Mum just held her close to her chest and started crying again, words failing her.
"Mummy—Mummy, please don't cry," Hermione said. "If you start crying, then I'll start crying, and the whole afternoon will be a wash." Unfortunately, Mum didn't seem ready to let up, and Hermione was starting to break down, too. "M-Mummy, p-please, I can't do this," she said. "I need to stay focused. I only have a two-year-old's amygdala. Please don't cry. I got out of it fine, and so did you two. It was Harry—he was hurting so much after…But it was all of us really. We'd lost so many, I had to come back."
"So you—you used magic to time travel?" Dad said. "Or to send your memories back rather? To save the people who died in war?"
"Yes. That's why I came back—to stop it—stop it as early as possible. I have the knowledge of how to get rid of Voldemort now, or at least soon, and I can save Harry's parents, hamstring the Death Eaters, and end the war before many more people have to die. But I need to tell it all to Albus Dumbledore as soon as possible—he's leading the war effort against Voldemort. He's very powerful, and he's the only one Voldemort's afraid of. And he's also Headmaster of Hogwarts."
"He's a schoolteacher?" Dad said.
"Daddy, when there's only one school in the country, it's a huge strategic asset."
"Okay. Okay…so that's why you need to go to London?"
"Mm hmm. It's complicated, but I have some stuff I need to do there tomorrow. But that's not important right now. I can walk you through it just fine tomorrow. Right now, the important thing is to get through the party without making anyone suspicious. Mummy, are you gonna be okay?"
Mum started inexplicably laughing and crying at the same time. "Y-you—you're asking me?" she said. "After everything you've been through? And I—I've missed so much of your life, now—"
Hermione stood up on Mum's lap and put her arms around her neck. "Mummy, it's going to be okay," she said. "I'm still your daughter, I'm still the same Hermione. I've just grown up a bit."
"Okay, more than a bit. But I promise it's gonna be okay. We'll find a way through this. Believe me, I want to get those eighteen years back as much as you do. I can't very well grow up with my boyfriend being nineteen years younger than I am." Mum and Dad both sputtered at this point. "And I don't want to hurt you like this either. I do have a vague idea on how to do it, but I'll need to ask Dumbledore, and we really need to get rid of Voldemort first. Okay? We should really get ready."
Finally, and with difficulty, Mum collected herself, and she and Dad did their best to put the party together. Hermione asked a few questions about how she had been talking and acting and tried to adjust her speech patterns to something believable. It wasn't easy. Even being a very bright child, she had to try to limit her vocabulary to a hundred words or so, to not speak in any sentences longer than three words, and to use fewer pronouns and very sloppy grammar. They only hoped the natural unpredictability of two-year-olds would be enough to cover up any slips.
Her parents' emotional states, especially her Mum's, were the hardest things to cover up. Mum had pretty obviously been crying all morning, but she managed to pass it off as tears of joy at seeing her little baby growing up. Hermione was just spotty on the point. When the guests arrived—her grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and a couple of family friends—her reaction was actually pretty realistic. It had been so long since she had seen most of her muggle family that, embarrassingly, she didn't know them a whole lot better than on a two-year-old level anymore. On the other hand, even with her underdeveloped limbic system, it was hard for her to act properly enthusiastic about her birthday presents, and the politeness drilled into her in her later years made her seem implausibly courteous, thanking everyone for their gifts without being prompted. And that bit was after the meal, where she had been so careful with the silverware that the only mess that she made eating the cake was due to her poor hand-eye coordination, not childish sloppiness.
But still, her parents managed to pass her off as her usual intelligent self, and by the time all the guests had left, not one of them had asked a question they couldn't answer, though it left them all exhausted.
"Phew," Mum said when she had shown the last guests out. "And I thought regular birthday parties could be tiring. If this goes on for long, we may need to cut back on our social life."
"Speak for yourself, Mummy," Hermione said. "All of my friends are babies." She yawned and curled up on a single couch cushion. "Wake me in time for dinner." She heard Mum apparently chuckling at her cuteness as she drifted off to sleep.
Once again, one thing Hermione wasn't complaining about at this age was quality time with her parents. The three of them sat together on the sofa that evening, having a very, very odd chat. She'd seen so little of them since…well, since she started at Hogwarts, really—she'd only gone home for Christmas in her first year—it was good to be able to talk to them again, even if a lot of it was giving horrifying highlights of all the times she had nearly died at school.
"Third year?" she said uncomfortably. "Third year was dementors…er, you don't want to know. Just…trust me on that. You don't want to know. Some things are better off left buried."
"Worse than a giant snake that can kill with a look?" Dad said incredulously.
"And you still liked this magical world of yours? I'm sorry, Hermione, but you make it sound like a really awful place."
"Oh, no, Daddy. The magical world is a beautiful place. I've seen wonders there you can't even imagine. I've…I've slept under the stars indoors in the Great Hall. I've ridden across the country on the back of a dragon. I've seen sports played on broomsticks at a hundred miles an hour. I've turned invisible. I've made friends with giants and elves and werewolves and Veela. It's so beautiful there—you'll see tomorrow. I want you to see—oh, I should've tried to bring you into the magical world more the first time around. I want to make it up to you. You'll see—you'll see tomorrow."
"Okay, Hermione," he said, albeit sceptically. "I'm sure we will."