Disclaimer: All belongs to JK Rowling except what I made up.
A/N: Well, I said there would be an epilogue, and here it is. Hermione gets her fairy-tale ending at last. Thank you all for reading.
The six-year-old Hermione Granger had one of the strangest lives of any child in Britain, magical or not. Apparently, she had once come back in time to save the world, but she didn't remember it and wouldn't for a long time. But it must be true, though, because every few months, her parents would take her up to a magic castle where all the young witches and wizards went to school, and an old man with a long, white beard restored some of her memories. She was told it had been her own idea to lock her memories away in little bottles so that she could still grow up like a normal child. That might have made sense to the adult Hermione, but the young Hermione, who like many children would have preferred to grow up faster, was still uncertain about it.
So far, the memories hadn't been all that interesting, but the system was handy. She could read all different books and still remember the ones she read in her first life. It also gave her time to take up other pursuits—or so her parents insisted. She preferred reading, but her older self had told Mum and Dad that now that she didn't have to fight a war, she should try to be more well-rounded the second time around. Adult Hermione recommended that at the very least, she should learn Latin early, which would help with magic, learn to sing or play some musical instrument, and be more physically active. Hermione was starting to do all of these things casually, without overburdening her schedule (that was another thing her grown-up self had warned about), but they were overridden by a new passion that neither she nor her parents had ever expected.
Even without her memories, the time travel had changed her. It was more than just living her life in parallel. Those three and a half months of imprinting an adult consciousness onto a two-year-old brain had done things to it, pushed it in ways never before seen, and forced it to make new connections to try to keep up with the adult thoughts. As a result, if Hermione had been a genius in her first life, the second time around, she was even smarter. Yet that wasn't the important bit. It mattered little whether her IQ was a hundred and fifty or a hundred and sixty. She was also more mature, precocious, and outgoing as a results of her brain being forced to develop faster emotionally and socially, but even that wasn't the most notable effect.
The really interesting change had been in her physical skills. Her body had been inhabited for several months by a mind that knew how to walk and move like an adult—really only knew how to walk and move that way. Several months of trying to force her body to obey her old habits, her little feet to walk a straight line, her little hands to grasp a pencil (even with a Dictaquill available), to dress herself, feed herself, and do all her other little daily tasks on her own, had been like an intense training course for her developing nervous system every hour of every day, building up muscle memory, improving coordination, and kicking her cerebellum into high gear. She came out of those months considerably more coordinated than her peers, and like all of her natural talents, she embraced it and developed it to the best of her ability. Nearly four years later, the result was that Hermione Granger was a brilliant dancer.
For now, it was just the traditional ballet, but she was starting to express interest in ballroom dance and other forms, and she was at the top of her class in her dancing lessons just like her academic work. She could go far in that area, although they didn't know how much use there would be for it in the magical world, but mostly, she really enjoyed it. And if Hogwarts didn't have any resources for that, well, she'd just have to do it herself.
Today, however, she wasn't thinking about that. Today was her sixth birthday party, when she would finally meet all of the friends she had met in her first life. She was meeting them years earlier than the first time around—years that her older self had wanted her to cherish. Naturally, she was nervous, but she was also very excited as she re-read the letter she'd written to herself, carefully saved for four years for this very occasion. Her older self had used a lot of big words that she didn't understand yet, but she understood enough, and she enjoyed reading it:
If everything went according to plan, you should be close to six years old when you read this, and you'll soon be meeting your friends for what from your perspective is the first time. No, you don't have to be friends with them if you don't want to, but I think you'll like them. After all, I did all through school.
I wanted you to know a little about them first, though. If the Potters and the Longbottoms took my advice and got to know each other and the Weasleys, they'll probably be friends already, so you'll have a bit of catching up to do.
I guess I'll start with Harry Potter. What can I say about Harry? It's hard to know where to start. I remember him as an absolutely wonderful boy—so kind and caring. (And with his mum's gorgeous green eyes.) I'm not sure he ever realised just how much he cares for people. He's always there to help you out if you need it, even if he's having bigger problems than you are. And he's not shy about risking his neck for someone who's in trouble—sometimes literally. In the war, I told him he had a saving people thing—even for people he didn't like. It could get annoying, and it ended badly or nearly did several times, but it's actually very sweet, looking back.
The most amazing thing, though, is that in my time line, Harry turned out to be such a good and selfless person despite being raised by really nasty relatives. It's a really deep part of who he is. He may look like his dad, but he definitely has him mum's heart. Granted, I don't know how being raised by his parents will affect him Maybe he'll be more like his dad, now. James was cocky, self-centred, and kind of a jerk when he was in school, but I think Harry has too much of Lily in him for that to happen, although he might turn out a bit cheekier with her around, not to mention Sirius.
But above all, if Harry doesn't show all of those things at age five, don't worry about it. Just be patient with him. James grew up eventually, and Harry will, too, and I'm sure you'll come to love him as much as I did the first time around, especially after you see the memories of our time in school together.
Neville Longbottom is a much bigger wild card than Harry is. In my time, he was raised by his grandmother, living in his dad's shadow, and didn't have very much self-confidence, but even then, with the right motivation, he grew into the toughest fighter in our year. I'm hoping that, being raised by his parents this time, he'll get there a lot faster, but I really don't know. Either way, you can trust him to stand up for what's right and to help those who can't help themselves.
Mum and Dad should have asked Harry and Neville to invite their friends, in which case, the Weasleys will probably be there. There are seven of them, but the first two are in school already, and they're a great family. They don't have a lot of money, but they more than make up for it in heart.
Percy is the oldest one you'll meet. He's nine, and he's already so ambitious that he probably deserves to be in Slytherin. He wants to be Minister for Magic someday. That got him in trouble in my time because he wanted to follow the Ministry, right or wrong. He's all about following rules, so much so that if you ever find yourself starting to talk like him, you should probably tell Ginny to smack you. Unfortunately, there's probably not much short of utter calamity that will get him to change, but he does have a brave, noble Gryffindor in him if you can encourage him to use it.
Fred and George are seven, and they're twins. (Don't bother trying to tell them apart. They'll only confuse you.) Those two are Percy's opposites. They always push the rules as far as they can get away with, and they love to prank people. Don't turn your back on them, and don't trust anything they give you, but remember those things, and they can give you a good laugh.
Ron is a real character. (He's in your year.) He's one of those people who's somehow loveable and annoying at the same time. I admit I had a crush on him for a while, but he was just too immature for too long. He wouldn't grow up, so I had to move on. He's actually pretty smart, but he only cares enough to apply it to a few things. He has a short temper and likes to argue a lot (which can be fun because I could argue circles around him), but if there's danger around, he's a good person to have by your side. And while he'll get angry and storm out of the room sometimes, he'll always come back and apologise in the end.
Actually, when I put it that way, I think what he really needs is some counselling. Anyway, even if he grates on you sometimes, you shouldn't give up on him.
Ginny's another one whom I'm not sure how the new time line will affect. I know that she's bold, adventurous, and outgoing; she can cause as much trouble as the Twins when she wants to and get away with it; and she's really good at all sorts of hexes, so watch out later on. I can only imagine how wild she is at age four, but she'll be a really good girlfriend to have to get you out of your shell. The thing is, in my time, she came into Hogwarts with a massive, paralysing crush on Harry because he was famous. Now that he's not famous anymore (and yes, that's a good thing), I hope she'll be able to get closer to you sooner.
If all goes well, Luna Lovegood should be there, too. (She's in Ginny's year.) She'll have been told that she was invited because she's the Weasleys' neighbour, but you should really try to be friends with her. One of my biggest regrets at Hogwarts is that I never talked to her before fifth year. She's really a brilliant, sweet, adorable girl. Don't get me wrong, she's also completely insane, but she's the most loyal friend you'll ever meet, tough as nails, and very insightful when she's making sense.
Luna (along with her parents) believes in a lot of strange things that probably aren't true, but some of them are. She eventually decided the crumple-horned snorkack almost certainly doesn't exist, for example, but gulping plimpies do. I've seen them. So be sure to keep an open mind with her.
Well, I think that's enough to get you started. I hope you become as good of friends with all of them as I was.
Well, one thing was sure: after a description like that (from herself, no less), Hermione was eager to meet all of her new-old friends. Soon enough, the guests began to arrive. The Grangers' new house was plenty big enough to host that many people (thank you, tech stocks), and the party promised to be a good one.
The Lovegoods arrived first—something about wanting to be "fashionably early". All three of them looked quite strange, dressed in so many colours that it looked like they'd had an accident in a paint shop. Little Luna, a tiny girl with silver eyes and long, blond hair, really was adorable. She seemed so carefree—enjoying skipping, giggling a lot, and chasing after creatures nobody else could see. She seemed very sweet, but Hermione (along with her parents) wasn't sure how much of her she could take.
A flock of ginger heads announced the arrival of the Weasleys. Predictably, Ginny was the first to run up and greet Hermione. The round of introductions with them took long enough that the Potters and Longbottoms had arrived by the time they were done. It was then that Hermione realised that there were two people her older self hadn't been able to tell her about: three-year-old Daisy Potter and three-year-old Winston Longbottom. Well, she'd just have to get to know them the old-fashioned way.
What really drew her eye, though, was the five-year-old Harry Potter. He stood about her height; he seemed naturally skinny; and his face was half hidden behind a mop of scruffy black hair and round glasses, both of which were rather too big for him. But what she really noticed were his eyes. Even at six, she already agreed with her old self that she liked those eyes.
When Harry saw her staring at him, he seemed to sense her nervousness and approached her, hand extended. "Hi, I'm Harry," he said.
"Hi, I'm Hermione," she replied, shaking his hand.
"Happy birthday, Hermione."
Yes, this looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
The fourteen-year-old Hermione Granger jerked awake on the cot after reliving the memories of the end of her first pass through third year at Hogwarts. She could feel she was shaking. The aftermath of restoring her memories always felt like coming back after a three-month holiday, but it was much more pronounced this time, as it had been in several recent sessions. She remembered vividly, right at the end of the block of time, how she, Harry, and Harry's godfather had been attacked by a swarm of about a hundred dementors and nearly Kissed. But then, she and Harry had gone back in time, and she saw Harry cast a Patronus worthy of Professor Dumbledore himself to drive the swarm away. He'd saved her life, and it wasn't the first time in the old time line. It was amazing to think that the Harry she knew—even as good as he was—was capable of things like that.
She got her bearings and saw her own Harry looking down at her worriedly. In her first year, Professor Dumbledore had suggested that she might bring along those of her friends who figured heavily in her memories during her sessions to restore them. Since Harry, Daisy, and Luna were the only people her own age whom she had told about her time travel thus far (she didn't quite trust the Weasleys' discretion yet), that meant just Harry for now, and of course Dumbledore.
"Was it a bad one?" Harry asked.
Hermione just nodded, still in a daze. She tried to remind herself that she was safe at Hogwarts in a world where there was no Voldemort or Wormtail or dementors swarming around the castle. She was comforted upon seeing the concern in her friend's eyes. She wasn't sure if he'd ever be able to understand the things she'd seen, but it meant a lot to her that he was there for her every time.
Harry looked more worried that she still wasn't speaking. "Hermione, are you okay?" he asked.
"Oh, Harry!" she cried. She lunged up, threw his arms around his neck, and, for the first time, kissed him full on the mouth.
Dumbledore gave them a few seconds. "Ah, young love," he said with a grin, causing them to break apart, blushing furiously.
But Hermione was certain then that her older self had had the right idea. Harry, in the meantime, was thinking, Wow, I should save the day in an alternate time line more often.