Author's Note:

» ᴾᴾParseltongueᴾᴾ

» The response I've received to this story has been amazing. Thanks to everyone who reviewed.

.o.O.o.

CHAPTER 7

Finally the day had come. Peter Pettigrew had been interrogated under Veritaserum and had provided a wealth of information. The traitor to the Light had made it very clear that the Dark Mark could not be taken under the Imperius Curse. Pettigrew had also admitted what he had done in the Dark Lord's service. That, and most especially what he had done to be awarded the Dark Mark, meant that if he survived the ritual, he was heading for a lifetime in Azkaban at the very least and, quite possibly, a Dementor's Kiss. Pettigrew had also provided further names of Death Eaters to add to those Hermione had provided. Death Eaters were not supposed to know who each other was but, like the rat he was, Wormtail had snooped around to gain whatever useful information on his fellow Death Eaters he could find. Wormtail had also explained that while he did not know where the Dark Lord would be at any given time, Voldemort was always at one of five specific locations and those locations were discreetly put under surveillance.

Towards the end of the winter term, Hermione, with the help of Lady Hogwarts and the castle, created a simulation of a bad potions explosion. With this, it was required that all staff and students return home for the holidays while 'repairs' could be undertaken. Arrangements were made for those who were unable to go home to go with friends. Hermione went to the Burrow and Severus, not wanting to return to his home in Spinner's End, had been invited by Frank to Longbottom Manor. The Slytherin's relationship with the Marauders was still shaky, but he and Frank did not have the antagonistic history that Severus shared with the Marauders, and so Severus and Frank had begun to form a genuine friendship. Severus, Frank and Alice duelled each other regularly in the Room of Requirement, more often than not together with Hermione, in order to improve their reflexes, and their defensive and offensive skills. Frank and Alice still wanted to become Aurors and this training was standing them in good stead. Frank had invited Sirius and James to join them, knowing the two boys also wanted to become Aurors, but was privately grateful when they refused—he did not want to invite them to throw spells at Severus.

On the eve of the Winter Solstice, Severus flooed to Headmaster Dumbledore's office from Longbottom Manor, together with the Longbottoms. While the Founders of Hogwarts had chosen to build the castle where two powerful ley lines met, they had wisely decided not to situate the castle right on top of the covergence. This meant that rituals could take place at the precise point without the resultant power surge reducing the castle to rubble. The ritual was to take place in a walled and specially warded courtyard, which was at the end of a tunnel accessible only from the Headmaster's tower. Only the Headmaster and Deputy Head knew where the single entrance to this tunnel was. While the ritual was taking place, the Order of the Phoenix would assemble in the Great Hall of Hogwarts, ready to take the fight to Voldemort as soon as the ritual was complete. It appeared that Voldemort would be imposing his own warped brand of festivities on Malfoy Manor, but all five locations were under watch, just in case the Dark Lord should leave the Manor. Kingsley, an Auror who was a member of the Order and therefore knew what was happening, was in charge of the team watching Malfoy Manor, while Amelia and Moody awaited the results of the ritual to activate the rest of the Auror Corps.

The Headmaster showed Hermione, Pomona, Flilus, Minerva and Severus into the warded courtyard. Despite the bitter cold, the five participants in the ritual were all barefoot and dressed in simple, natural linen shifts. There was a gutter running in a circle around the courtyard, incorporated into the paving stones when the courtyard had first been built. Indented bowls were built into the gutter at each compass point, with further gutters running from each to a fifth bowl at the centre of the circle. Hermione stepped over the gutter to the pedestal and placed the diadem in the central bowl, while the other four positioned themselves on the outer edge of the gutter, at the appropriate compass points.

"I call upon the Spirits of the North: the Earth, the New Moon, the Winter and Midnight," Pomona intoned as she scattered earth in the bowl in front her.

"I call upon the Spirits of the South: the Fire, the Full Moon, the Summer and the Noon," Minerva chanted in turn, igniting a fire in her bowl.

"I call upon the Spirits of the East: the Air, the Waxing Moon, the Spring and the Sunrise," Filius continued, burning incense in his bowl.

"I call upon the Spirits of the West: the Water, the Waning Moon, the Autumn and the Sunset," Severus completed the invocation by casting a silent Aguamenti and filling his bowl with water.

The four of them then recited together, "I do summon and call you forth to witness my rites and to guard this circle."

With that, a pure, bright, white light shot out from each bowl, streaming around the gutter to link each element. Four shimmery, Patronus-like figures then came into being: a badger standing next to Pomona, an eagle hovering over Filius' head, a lion sitting beside Minerva and a snake curling around Severus' feet. With that indication that the circle had been successfully cast, it was now Hermione's turn to take her part in the ritual.

"I call upon the Spirit, the Bridge between the Physical and the Celestial Realms, the Bridge between the Physical and the Spiritual, the Bridge between Body and Soul. We seek your Intervention. We seek your Judgement. We seek your Justice. We seek your Retribution. We beseech you to reunite into this vessel, the shattered soul which has willingly, zealously and arrogantly been tainted and corrupted by evil. We beseech you to pass sentence upon it and upon those linked to it by magic."

When Hermione finished her invocation, she was joined by the Patronus-like representation of Lady Hogwarts. Winds began to swirl around them, while thunder and lightening cracked above their heads. The five participants in the ritual stood firm, all pointing their wands at the diadem and focusing their magic upon it. Suddenly streams of black mist came shooting through the air towards them and, shrieking with an eldritch anger, were pulled into the diadem. Counting them, Hermione realised that they were the soul shards from the diary, ring, locket and cup and that, as she had feared, the remaining piece of soul within Voldemort's body had fought against the summons. The expenditure of magic in the ritual was great and after the arrival of these four soul pieces, the other four participants in the ritual all began to falter. Hermione could feel herself weakening too, but was determined to finish this once and for all and therefore stayed focused, as the soul piece within Voldemort himself had not yet arrived. She poured more magic into the ritual, sweat beading on her forehead with the effort, until finally a fifth piece of mist came screaming along and plummeted towards the diadem. At that, the weary participants roused themselves enough to complete the ritual.

"Fire smite thee," intoned Minerva.
"Air blight thee," continued Filius.
"Water blind thee," added Severus.
"Earth bind thee," finished Pomona.¹

"I commend thy soul and that of those linked to it by Magic to her judgement and sentencing," Hermione's voice rang out resolutely.

It was that last plea that had caused those involved to balk when they first heard the full details of the ritual. It was clear that not only was Voldemort being judged but so were all those who had taken the Dark Mark. Even executing Voldemort and his Death Eaters seemed more merciful than condemning their souls. Hermione and Lady Hogwarts, however, had both been adamant. This was the true reason why it was necessary that Hermione represent Spirit instead of the Headmaster. With his tendency to give second chances ad infinitum, Albus would never have been able to bring himself to condemn so many. Having seen the future, having lived through it, Hermione understood far better than Dumbledore that the innocent should not be sacrificed for the sake of evil.

"We're not murdering them, nor are we condemning their souls. Magic is judging them. If there are any Death Eaters who are truly remorseful and repentant, or who are even capable of such, magic will know and will take that into account," Hermione had told Dumbldore firmly and he had reluctantly acquiesced.

After one final push from Hermione, the white light linking the four elements shot into the centre of the circle and encased the diadem. The light flared brightly—too bright to look at and the five people standing in the courtyard all screwed their eyes shut in response. A dense black mist, comprised of all the reunited soul shards, rose above them, before exploding into nothingness. The Patronus-like lion, badger, snake and eagle all roared, grunted, hissed and cawed in unison, giving testament to what had taken place. With a final flare, the light was extinguished and the participants in the ritual all sagged with exhaustion. Although those in authority would need to see Tom Riddle's body before they would be absolutely certain of the outcome of the ritual, nevertheless, Hermione knew deep within her that Voldemort was no more.

"You have done well," spoke Lady Hogwarts. "Tom Riddle has been judged and condemned. His soul has been destroyed."

"And the marked Death Eaters?" asked Hermione wearily.

"I know not," admitted Lady Hogwarts.

Fortunately, it would not be long until that question would be answered. Peter Pettigrew had been brought to the Great Hall, with magic inhibiting cuffs on his wrists to prevent him from transforming into his animagus form and escaping, and would provide the answer. With a quick scourgify to clean the ritual area, the five participants in the ritual trudged back to the Headmaster's office, whence they made their way to the Great Hall. There they saw people crowding around the fallen form of Peter Pettigrew.

"Is he?" asked Minerva warily.

"Dead," confirmed Poppy.

Hermione collapsed onto a bench and Ditsy popped up with a Pepperup Potion for the tired girl. "All five soul pieces, including the one that was within Voldemort, came to join the piece in the diadem," Hermione wearily informed the assembled Order members and sympathisers. "They were all destroyed completely. I wasn't sure if Voldemort would be left a souless husk, like one who has been Kissed by a Dementor but if Peter has died, I would imagine that Voldemort has too. He would have been the conduit to Peter and the other Death Eaters—he couldn't have survived if they didn't."

Dumbledore nodded and sent off his Patronus. "The team watching Malfoy Manor will go in and check," he said. This team was all Aurors and they had a warrant allowing them to demand entry.

There was no chatter as they all sat tensely waiting. Eventually, a lynx Patronus came flying in and spoke in Kingsley Shacklebolt's voice. "Voldemort is dead, as are Lucius Malfoy and a number of other Marked Death Eaters who were at Malfoy Manor tonight."

Everyone gathered in the Great Hall sagged with relief. "Well, that was anti-climactic," joked Sirius as the tension bled from him.

Shaking his head at the irrepressible boy, Dumbledore spoke. "I suspect that it will not be so anti-climactic once the news of the deaths of so many is broken. We shall have a busy few days ahead with the clean-up."

"Actually," said Amelia. "We're sending teams of Aurors tonight to the home of every Death Eater we know about, to collect the bodies. We don't want the reason for their deaths to be brushed under the carpet. It's important that everyone knows these people all died because Voldemort tied their magic and their life-force to him. In the future, perhaps it will make people think twice before tying themselves to another in such a manner."

Dumbledore nodded as Amelia, Moody and the Prewett twins strode out. "Thank you all for coming here tonight and for being prepared to fight, should it have been necessary," he said, looking round at the people assembled. "I imagine many of us will have a busy time of it in the next few days but I hope you will all be able to enjoy your festive break nonetheless."

With that dismissal, the members of the Order began to make their way home. Molly and Arthur paused by Hermione, who was half asleep. She had used more energy and magic than the other participants in the ritual and she was exhausted.

"I think I'll stay in my chambers here tonight and come back to the Burrow tomorrow," Hermione said to the kindly couple. "I don't seem to have the energy to move right now."

"That's all right," said Molly, patting Hermione's shoulder. "You're welcome whenever you want to come."

As Hermione nodded with a weary smile, Ditsy popped back. "Mistress needs to go to bed," the little elf said firmly, to the amusement of the few people still remaining. Ditsy popped Hermione away to her rooms and with a snap of the little elf's fingers, Hermione was in bed, dressed in her pyjamas. Hermione was asleep even before Ditsy had popped away.

.o.O.o.

Hermione's eyes fluttered open and she stretched lazily. With a yawn, she gazed round the room, puzzled as to why she was in her bedroom in Hogwarts instead of at the Burrow. Suddenly the petite witch sat bolt upright as she remembered what had happened the previous night.

'Merlin! We did it! Voldemort's gone!' With that, the excited witch tumbled out of bed, eager for news.

Entering her sitting room at a run, Hermione skidded to a stop at the sight of her owl, Charis, sitting on her perch, having deposited Hermione's copy of the Daily Prophet on the small dining table in Hermione's rooms.

"Thank you, Charis!" Hermione exclaimed, giving the pretty owl a gentle rub on her head. Snatching up the Daily Prophet, Hermione unrolled it and looked at the front page. Not surprisingly, the newpaperled with the multitude of Deaths. Scanning the list of the dead, Hermoine suddenly realised that Pureblood society had been changed beyond all recognition; she had been so focused on what needed to be done to end the war that she had not previously considered this consequence. Many of the people she had been at school with would now not be born, as their fathers had all died before their children could be conceived. This would affect Fred and George Weasley's school year, down to her own and beyond. On the other hand, there were many in the previous timeline who had been killed by the Death Eaters, either together with their entire families including their children, or else before they could even have children. The children of the families that had been saved by their actions the previous night would now take the place of those who would not be born to the Dark families, such as Draco Malfoy, Gregory Goyle and Vincent Crabbe. Her younger self would be attending a very different Hogwarts to the one she had attended. Harry and Neville would now grow up with their parents, and might even have siblings.

The furore over the sudden deaths of so many prominent citizens carried on for several weeks. As Hermione had privately hoped, even Barty Crouch Jr was included in the list of the dead. Although still at school and only just of age, he had taken the Dark Mark as soon as he left Hogwarts for the Christmas holidays. Severus Snape and Regulus Black were the only ones to avoid the carnage, because Hermione had arrived in this era in sufficient time to prevent their taking the Mark. Even better, as far as Hermione was concerned, Bellatrix Lestrange was amongst the dead; now Hermione would never again have to face the insane and sadistic witch who had tortured her.

Amelia Bones, who was making quite an impact in the DMLE, had done as she had promised and had made sure the wizarding world was aware that the reason for the deaths of so many was that they had chosen to tie themselves to a man who made sure that if he died, his followers would all die with him. That gave many of Voldemort's unMarked sympathisers pause, as they realised just how close they had come to dying too.

As Hermione watched events from the sidelines, she began to understand just how much Britain's wizarding world had changed. Barty Crouch Sr did not survive as Head of the DMLE once it became known his son had been a Marked Death Eater and, as in the previous timeline, he was moved sideways into the Department of International Magical Cooperation. Much to Hermione's satisfaction, Crouch was succeeded by Charlus Potter, who immediately began to mentor Amelia Bones with the intention of preparing her to take over from him when he retired. Hermione was not sure when or how Charlus and Dorea Potter had died in the previous timeline²—if it was due to Death Eaters and had now been averted, or if it had been natural causes—but Charlus was a good interim appointee as Head of the DMLE, until such time as Amelia would be ready to take on the role.

The soul pieces having been removed from the Horcruxes, the items were all retrieved.

The Malfoy holdings were inherited by Xenophilius Lovegood, who was a very distant cousin of Lucius. Xenophilius had no interest in the Malfoy properties and happily settled a grand town house in Budapest on Narcissa, where she later remarried. Before leaving the Manor, Narcissa led the Aurors to Lucius' hidden cache of Dark artefacts. The diary was identified and burned.

The goblins allowed entry to the Lestrange vault for the retrieval of Hufflepuff's cup, after it was proven that this item had been stolen. The cup and the other former Horcruxes—the locket, ring and diadem—all underwent cleansing rituals, and with the agreement of the Smith family, the Founders' items were gifted to Hogwarts in perpetuity.

Hermione refused to allow Dumbledore to go anywhere near the ring—"Just because it's no longer a Horcrux, that doesn't mean it's not still cursed and I'm sure Ariana would prefer that you live, Headmaster. Mourn her, but don't obsess," she said firmly—and as there were no direct heirs entitled to claim it, the ring was deemed to belong jointly to the Pevensies and the Potters, as descendants of its creator's brothers. After ensuring that all curses on it had been removed, Charlus and Hermione agreed that the ring should be placed in a special vault and set up entrance requirements so strict that it was only in the direst need that anyone would be able access the Hallows vault in the future. Not liking to use it, Hermione also placed into the Hallows vault the Elder Wand that she had brought back with her from the future, additionally securing Dumbledore's agreement that the Elder Wand in his possession would join those items on his death, whenever that would be—although he still did not know that the Elder Wand from Hermione's previous timeline was now also present in this time. The only Hallows that would not be placed in the special Hallows Vault were the invisibility cloaks—both the one from this time and the one from Hermione's original timeline, which was in her possession—as they were the sole Hallows that Hermione and Charlus deemed safe, even useful, to use. With the stringent entry requirements, this was one vault that the Ministry would be unable to claim should the Pevensie and Potter lines completely die out in the future.

This done, Hermione threw herself into her Mastery studies. She took up her seat in the Wizengamot but, apart from that, stayed out of politics for now, trusting people like the Bones family, the Longbottoms, the Potters, the Abbotts and the Diggorys to bring about change in their society now that the supporters of the Dark had been decimated. That was not to say that those who sympathised with the Dark had been completely wiped out, but having seen the devastation caused by Voldemort's death, those who remained were more circumspect and lacking in real support. After Peter Pettigrew had been interrogated some months previously, his memories of all that he had seen and done as a Death Eater had been extracted and after a select few had been published, which had done much to damage the Dark cause. Care would of course need to be taken, but there was unlikely to be another Dark uprising for a very long time to come. As Hermione cynically pointed out, with peace the economy would improve, and those who sought wealth and influence would surely see the advantages in that. Why enslave yourself when you can gain power for yourself?

.o.O.o.

With Voldemort and the Horcruxes safely taken care of, it was now time to deal with the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets and the acromantula colony in the Forbidden Forest. No one knew how long the basilisk would remain dormant or if it could get in and out of the Chamber of Secrets by itself, without an heir of Slytherin to assist it. Therefore, with no descendants of Slytherin's bloodline alive to control the basilisk, it was deemed best to kill it. Hermione privately regretted the need to kill the thousand year old beast but understood the necessity.

'What gives us, whose lives are so fleeting in comparison, the right to decide whether it should live or die?' she thought. Of course, they could not take the risk of the basilisk leaving the Chamber once more. With no one to control it, there was every possibility it might kill the entire school population before leaving Hogwarts and wreaking havoc on the general population, both magical and Muggle.

Unfortunately, there was no portrait of Salazar Slytherin available to assist but after much heated debate, Hermione logically pointed out, "We regard Parselmouths as being evil because of their association with Salazar Slytherin and Voldemort, but the magical communities in countries with large concentrations of dangerous and poisonous snakes, might not feel the same way." Word was sent out to India, Australia, Brazil and other countries, and eventually a Parselmouth who was willing to assist was found in India, through connections of the Patils, whose twin daughters had been in Hermione's year in Hogwarts.

Again at Hermione's suggestion since she was the most familiar with the Muggle world, welders' goggles with the densest available filters against ultra-violet and infrared light were sourced. Hermione had run off a series of arithmantic calculations, which indicated that these would provide the best possible defence against the gaze of the basilisk, although it was uncertain if the goggles would provide full protection or merely filter the basilisk's gaze enough to guarantee petrification instead of death. Just in case, the Mandrake Restorative Draught was prepared in advance.

It was the beginning of the summer holidays when Prakash Patil opened the outer and inner doors to the Chamber. He was accompanied by Dumbledore, Alastor Moody and the Prewett twins, all of whom had excellent reflexes and advanced duelling skills. Albus had insisted that only those with proven ability to take care of themselves in dangerous situations would be allowed to enter. Gideon and Fabian were each carrying a cage with a sleeping rooster inside. The Headmaster had invited Hermione, who had been given permission to reside in Hogwarts all year round, to join them but she had politely declined, having no desire to face the basilisk a second time. Prakash had watched the memory of Harry's experiences in the Chamber and knew how to summon the basilisk.

ᴾᴾSpeak to me, Salazar Slytherin, greatest of the Founders four,ᴾᴾ Prakash hissed and the mouth of the statue of Salazar Slytherin opened.

After what seemed like an interminable wait, Prakash heard the basilisk speak. ᴾᴾWho summons me?ᴾᴾ it asked sleepily, sounding like it was just coming out of a deep slumber.

Prakash immediately nodded to Dumbledore and Gideon and Fabian removed the sleeping spells from the roosters and prodded them awake. Both roosters immediately loudly crowed in indignation. An inhuman screeching was immediately heard, together with the sound of a large creature thrashing around. When silence had fallen, Prakash spoke again, to try and determine if the basilisk had indeed died at the sound of the roosters.

ᴾᴾOh, mighty basilisk, king of the serpents, we invite you to join us,ᴾᴾ he hissed, figuring that the snake would respond to the same kind of obsequious flattery as its Master; however, there was no response.

"I believe it has died," Prakash informed the wizards who had accompanied him. "However, without actually entering the inner sanctum, we can't be certain."

"I can't imagine this is the entirety of the Chamber of Secrets," Dumbledore observed, gazing sharply round the room, which did in fact look more like an antechamber. "I would have expected a work area, potions lab, library… anything other than a large and empty space."

Together, Dumbledore and Moody began scanning for any indications that there were more rooms, while Prakash Patil simply hissed, ᴾᴾOpen,ᴾᴾ in the direction of the statue, just as he had done to open the entrance in Moaning Myrtle's bathroom, figuring that Slytherin would hardly have climbed through the statue's mouth to enter the inner sanctum. Sure enough, a door opened at the base of the statue and the wizards cautiously made their way up the stairs. There they were stunned by the sight of the enormous basilisk, whose head was fortunately trapped in the tunnel leading down to the statue's mouth, where it had died on its way out of the sanctum.

Dumbledore hastily cast some diagnostics. "Dead," he said and everyone breathed in relief. "We don't know if the creature's eyes are open so we should take extreme caution when rendering the serpent into potions ingredients."

"You're not just going to leave it here?" asked Gideon in surprise.

Dumbledore shook his head. "This basilisk is worth a fortune. I propose donating the hide to the DMLE to make protective clothing for the Aurors. Apart from a sum as yet to be determined, which will be given to any remaining relatives of Myrtle, the rest of the basilisk will be sold and the proceeds split between Hogwarts, St Mungo's and a charitable fund, to be administered by the Head of Hogwarts—either myself or my successor at a later date—the Director of St Mungo's and two others; anyone will be able to apply for funding, for whatever purpose, and it will be up to the administrators to decide whether or not to grant the application. A part of the fund will, of course, have to be invested wisely so that the fund can continue. Mr Patil," he continued, turning to the Indian wizard, "we will also offer you a share of the basilisk for your assistance."

"Thank you, Headmaster; that is very honourable of you," the Indian wizard replied with a slight bow. This was unexpected, since he was after all being paid for his services.

"I'd suggest you involve Miss Pevensie in the charitable fund, Albus" suggested Moody. "Her Arithmancy skills are excellent and her knowledge of the Muggle world and upcoming trends is better than that of anyone else in the wizarding world right now; it would be worthwhile investing some of that money in the Muggle world as well."

Albus merely nodded in acknowledgement, not wanting to go into detail in front of Prakash Patil. The knowledge that Maia Pevensie was from the future was being closely guarded—the majority of those who knew were unable to talk about it and those few who could speak of it could only do so only in the presence of the Headmaster or Hermione herself. However, Alastor was right: Hermione's knowledge of the future would be of great assistance when investing the funds.

The five wizards made their way out of the Chamber, with Prakash resetting all the passwords on the way so that Albus would be able to gain access without the services of a Parselmouth.

Once back in Myrtle's bathroom, Gideon and Fabian made their farewells, taking the roosters back to Hagrid on their way out of the castle. Alastor escorted Prakash to the Headmaster's office while Albus paused for a quick word with the ghost who haunted the bathroom.

"I just wanted to let you know that the monster that killed you has itself been killed, Myrtle," said Dumbledore kindly. "You'll never be troubled by it again."

Myrtle dived into her toilet, too overcome to speak, and with a sigh and a sympathetic shake of his head, Albus followed the other wizards to his office, where he proceeded to make arrangements with Prakash regarding exploring the Chamber more thoroughly once the basilisk had been harvested and removed. That done, Albus contemplated the mammoth task of harvesting the basilisk and selling it without flooding the market and causing prices for basilisk ingredients and parts to drop like a stone. He did not think that such a large basilisk had ever been seen before.

A week later, a specially picked team of Magical Creatures experts and Aurors entered the Forbidden Forest to clear out the acromantula colony, much to Hagrid's dismay. Dumbledore had used a memory of Myrtle's death supplied by Lady Hogwarts to prove that Hagrid had not been responsible for releasing Slytherin's monster previously, the fact that Hagrid did not speak Parseltongue being a decisive factor in clearing him. Hagrid was allowed to use magic again and the Hogwarts staff were giving him a refresher course. They hoped to get him to OWL level in the core subjects and then the Care of Magical Creatures Professor would advance Hagrid's studies in that subject at least to NEWT level, as everyone felt the more Hagrid knew about the safe handling of magical creatures the better.

"Hagrid," said Hermione gently, when Albus told the large man that the acromantula were going to be eradicated from the Forbidden Forest. "You're a half giant. That makes you invulnerable to a lot of the creatures you like. I'm not discriminating against you because of your heritage, Hagrid—I really don't care about that—but I'm not sure you realise that those of us who don't have your mixed heritage are smaller and more fragile than you. I know you feel these creatures are misunderstood but, Hagrid, the average witch and wizard is at far greater risk from them than you are. You wouldn't want something to happen to the young students, would you?" Hermione had insisted on being involved as she was not sure any of the staff had ever actually discussed with Hagrid his fondness for dangerous creatures or understood that he genuinely believed they were harmless, simply because he himself was not at risk and therefore could not comprehend the danger. Hermione, Harry and Ron, however, had come up against this belief of Hagrid's many times and she knew how to approach the subject with him.

"Well, no. But…"

Hagrid looked ready to cry so Hermione moved his mind onto other things. "Hagrid, I've heard that you love dragons, is that true?" As Hagrid's face lit up, she continued. "If you would like it, perhaps Professor Dumbledore can arrange for you to spend your summers helping out at a dragon reserve?"

Hagrid was delighted with that offer and allowed himself to be distracted from his distress over the eradication of the acromantula colony—Hermione suspected that Dumbledore may have sent a few discreet charms in Hagrid's direction to persuade the large man to cooperate without fuss, but she remained silent; the other alternative would have been to obliviate Hagrid of all memory of the acromantula, and that would have been worse than a few mild persuasion charms that would wear off before long. The arrangements were made and the clearing out of the Forbidden Forest took place while Hagrid was safely in Romania, so that he would not need to witness the decimation of Aragog and his family. It was not possible to relocate the giant spiders as there was nowhere that could contain them safely away from humankind.

.o.O.o.

Hermione spent the next few years living more peacefully than she could remember since before she started Hogwarts at the age of eleven. She completed her Charms Mastery and then undertook a second Mastery in Arithmancy. With her double Mastery, Hermione was quickly snapped up by the Department of Mysteries and rapidly rose in the ranks.

Severus Snape took Hermione up on her offer for a loan and allowed her to fund his Mastery in Potions. Despite his misgivings, he chose to pursue this in Hogwarts under the tutelage of Horace Slughorn, mainly to be close to Hermione, for whom Severus had begun to develop feelings. Fortunately for Severus, Hermione returned those feelings and after they completed their first Masteries, the pair married, with Hermione flooing to work from Hogwarts every day. Severus again took up the mantle of Head of Slytherin House and Potions Professor, while at the same time pursing a second Mastery in Defence Against the Dark Arts. Severus and Hermione had two children, Selene and Marcus³, both of whom were too young to be in the same school year as young Hermione, Harry or Ron, much to Hermione's great relief. 'It would be too bizarre for my child to be in the same school year as my younger self,' she thought. In fact, Selene was in the same school year as Dennis Creevey and Marcus was a year younger.

With the death of Voldemort, much changed at Hogwarts. Albus took to heart all that Hermione had to say about how the school was run in her time, and he withdrew from his public positions as Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and Supreme Mugwump of the International Confederation of Wizards to focus on Hogwarts. The Headmaster involved his Deputy Head and the other Heads of House more in the day-to-day running of the school, making it clear that they should second-guess him and question his actions whenever they felt it necessary; he even began meeting with the prefects twice a term in order to get feedback from the students as to what they felt needed to be improved.

Amos Diggory beat Cornelius Fudge to the position of Minister for Magic and Augusta Longbottom was unanimously voted in as Chief Witch of the Wizengamot, with her son, Frank, taking up the hereditary Longbottom seat in her place once he finished school. Together, Augusta and Amos spearheaded the introduction of much new and fairer legislation. Amos proved to be a very popular Minister and, under his tenure, Dolores Umbridge was soon fired for her prejudiced attitudes and for using blackmail to rise in the Ministry ranks—she managed to avoid charges being pressed as long as she left quietly. With no respectable business being willing to employ the toad-like woman, she was reduced to working in the betting shop in Knockturn Alley. True to form, Umbridge subsequently tried to use her knowledge of people's gambling habits to blackmail some of the betting shop regulars, but came up against some rather powerful and influential members of society, whereupon she soon found herself sentenced to rather a long stay in Azkaban—to the regret of none who knew the despicable woman. When reading in the Daily Prophet about the sentence that had been passed, Hermione doubted that Umbridge would have the strength of mind to survive there for long.

In addition, mysterious accidents stopped happening to the Defence Professors and the Prewett twins jointly took over that position, choosing to leave the Auror Office because, as they put it, "We want to live long enough to get married and have families." Fabian and Gideon also instituted a duelling club, which they ran with the help of Hermione, Severus and Filius Flitwick, who was an accomplished Duelling Master. The students were in awe of the skill they saw from the adults and the club became extremely popular.

Albus now turned his attention solely to Hogwarts. Rules were introduced—and enforced!—regarding bullying and acceptable behaviour. Together, Hermione and Severus codified what constituted bullying and developed an appropriate policy to tackle the issue. This was sent out to the students every year with their book lists, so that they would have no excuse for not being aware of the school's policy with regard to bullying.

While at Hogwarts studying for her Masteries, Hermione also helped to bring about important changes in the curriculum. After intense discussions with Hermione and three of the Heads of House—Filius, Pomona and Minerva—Professor Dumbledore recruited Ted and Andromeda Tonks to the staff of Hogwarts, with Ted teaching Muggle Studies and Andromeda teaching Wizarding Culture and Customs. (Horace Slughorn was not consulted because he truly only cared about those students who were influential and not about the student body as a whole; Albus was just waiting for Severus to complete his Potions Mastery so that Horace would retire.)

Muggles Studies and Wizarding Culture and Customs were both added to the core classes for the first and second years, before the subjects then became electives from third year onwards. This helped the Muggleborn and Muggle-raised students integrate into the wizarding world, and helped the children of magical heritage learn about the Muggle world. Hermione pointed out that she had seen at the Quidditch World Cup when she was fourteen how badly many magicals blended into the Muggle world and that if the wizarding world wished to keep the existence of magic secret, then they would need to learn to blend in better, given that Muggle technology was improving and that there would come a time when there were cameras on every street corner and when instant, global, mass communication would be available to flash those pictures and recordings around the world.

Hermione also sponsored a Chess Cup and encouraged the development of a chess competition in Hogwarts. This did not have the feverish excitement of Quidditch matches but it was popular nonetheless. Hermione, Severus, Andromeda and Ted also introduced several more Muggle board and strategy games and even some Muggle sports. Sports that could be played indoors became particularly popular, given the climate for a large part of the year in the north of Scotland where Hogwarts was located; several unused classrooms were joined together and adapted into sports rooms. Ted also recommended that music and art clubs be added, with teachers coming once or twice a week from outside to run the clubs; he pointed out that Albus could do what many Muggle schools did and charge these as extras, thereby not straining the Hogwarts budget.

The entire staff agreed that Professor Binns had to be replaced. "Binns doesn't teach about anything other than the Goblin and Giant wars and the witch burnings," Severus pointed out. "He doesn't even teach about the founding of Hogwarts or the introduction of the Statute of Secrecy, never mind more recent events, such as Grindelwald or Voldemort."

"Not to mention that it's almost impossible to stay awake in his classes," Hermione added.

Albus sighed and caved in to his united staff. Remus Lupin was recruited to the position, with the assurance from Lady Hogwarts that the castle would make arrangements for Remus during his transformation every full moon. An area of the grounds on the boundary of the Forbidden Forest was walled off so that no werewolf could escape over the walls and wards were added to prevent any human from entering or leaving once they had been activated. This gave Moony somewhere to run about safely outside. Prongs, Padfoot and Minnow (Hermione in her animagus form) usually joined him. With the creation of this special area in the grounds, it was now possible to offer more werewolf children the chance of an education, although with the death of Fenrir Greyback, who had been a Marked Death Eater, the numbers of werewolves being created had dropped dramatically.

The secure area in Hogwarts caught the interest of the werewolf population in general and Xenophilius Lovegood donated Malfoy Manor to the Ministry to create a werewolf sanctuary. As Hermione and her allies on the Wizengamot pointed out to the Ministry, this sanctuary was in everyone's best interests since it safeguarded the general population, in addition to the werewolves themselves. The Manor was razed to the ground and a village was built in its place. This gave the werewolves homes, livelihoods due to the businesses they opened to sustain the village, and secure, warded land to run around in when transformed. This made it possible for the werewolves to have families and the creation of the Wolfsbane potion in the late 1980s was the final step towards acceptance of the lycanthrope community.

Hermione had a quiet word with Arthur Weasley when Xeno donated Malfoy Manor to make the werewolf sanctuary—something that afforded Hermione great amusement as she imagined generations of Malfoys all turning in their graves—and Arthur managed to persuade Xeno to keep the Malfoy house elves. Dobby went to the Quibbler with Xeno everyday and Tissy ran the Lovegood home. 'With a bit of luck, Tissy will be around when Pandora Lovegood has her accident and will be able to save her,' thought Hermione in satisfaction, not having imagined that this could be a further result of the Death Eaters dying along with their Master.

.o.O.o.

It was the summer of 1978. Hermione had completed her first year of her Mastery studies and was on holiday until the new academic year would begin. Despite that, she was still living in Hogwarts, as the Pevensie home, which she would otherwise have inherited, had been destroyed when the family was killed and Hermione was not yet ready to buy a home of her own; even though the war was over and Voldemort and his followers were dead, it was taking time for her to get over her previous experiences and she still felt safer behind the wards of Hogwarts.

Hermione was standing in a street in a Muggle neighbourhood, looking apprehensively at the home belonging to Lilias Puckle. Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders and marched resolutely up to the door. Hermione rang the doorbell and waited. A few moments later, she heard footsteps coming towards the door.

"Hello," Hermione said when the door was answered and her Granny was standing in front of her. "Mrs Lilias Puckle? My name is Maia Pevensie." Lilias took a sharp breath and Hermione continued nervously. "Please may I come in? I'd like to speak to you and it would be best not to have this conversation on the doorstep."

Lilias stepped back and allowed Hermione entry. Hermione followed her beloved grandmother to the well-remembered kitchen and sat at the table while Lilias pottered about making tea. Once they were both sitting, Hermione spoke again.

"Mrs Puckle, what I'm about to tell you will be unbelievable but I promise I'm telling you the truth. I'm your yet-to-be-born granddaughter; I was sent back to this time to prevent the destruction of the wizarding world."

"My, that is quite fantastic," said Lilias placidly as she eyed Hermione shewdly, noting just how much the young woman sitting at her kitchen table looked like a combination of her daughter and son-in-law. However, Lilias was also well aware that a glamour charm could also achieve that effect and wanted reassurance. "I assume you can prove this?"

Hermione nodded. "I'm willing to make a magical oath, if you would like? I know you left the wizarding world a long time ago but I assume you're aware what that means?"

"That you'll lose your magic if you lie, yes," Lilias nodded in turn. "Go ahead then."

Hermione pulled out her wand. "I declare on my magic that I am the granddaughter of Lilias Puckle née Pevensie and that I was sent back to this time from the future." Upon completion of her oath, Hermione muttered a quiet Lumos and her wand lit up.

Lilias nodded decisively. "All right then, granddaughter, why don't you tell me all about yourself?"

Hermione did just that. She told her Granny when she would be born, what her name would be and about her childhood. The young woman did not go into detail about her Hogwarts years but she did explain in general about the two Voldemort wars and the changes she had made in the timeline, and why.

"You didn't know I was magical in the last timeline, " Hermione explained. Lilias raised an eyebrow at that but Hermione refused to elaborate. "I never learned that I had a magical heritage. When Lady Hogwarts brought me back to the past, she summoned you from the Afterlife to tell me about the family. The Pevensies were all murdered—I'm so sorry, Granny!—but I was able to claim the Pevensie name and holdings. If they weren't claimed within a year and a day, they would have gone to the Ministry. That must have happened in the last timeline. Even if I'd known about my heritage back then, I wasn't yet born when the family holdings would have been appropriated. I claimed them now because there was no time to wait; I've made arrangements for when my younger self reaches Hogwarts age, though.

"Once we learned I was a witch, Mum, Dad and I looked back to see if we could remember when I first did accidental magic. Mum and Dad thought I was three—they remembered putting me to bed for a nap and I wanted to carry on reading my book, so I summoned it down from the shelf and into my bed. Once my younger self does her first accidental magic, we'll be able to explain about the wizarding world. Normally, Muggleborns don't receive an explanation until they're old enough to receive their Hogwarts letters but with both Mum and Dad being descended from Squibs, that changes the rules somewhat."

"Who was the magical in your father's line?" asked Lilias curiously.

"My great-great-grandfather was a Dagworth-Granger. He was disowned for being a Squib and dropped the Dagworth from his name when he entered the Muggle world," Hermione explained. "The magical connection is more distant but it's there. It'll save Mum and Dad a lot of heartache if they know as early as possible the reason why my younger self can do the all strange things I know she'll be doing. Hopefully, Mini-Me won't have to face the kind of prejudice I did for being a Muggleborn when she goes to Hogwarts, but it'll definitely be easier for her if she knows she has magical ancestry."

"Are we to tell my future granddaughter that she's your younger self? Or her parents?" asked Lilias.

Hermione shook her head. "Not at first. It's not commonly known that I came back from the future and I'd like to keep it that way. Mini-Me will have to be told eventually so that when she's older and hopefully gets married, she'll know her family can't inter-marry with mine."

"Oh? Do you have a young man?" asked Lilias with interest.

"Not yet but I hope I will do, one day. I've spent the last year or so mourning and, well, wallowing in misery basically, and I need to start living again. Don't worry, Granny. You'll be invited to my wedding when it happens," Hermione replied cheekily.

Lilias smiled at her granddaughter. She had found Hermione's story hard to believe at first, but the combination of a magical oath and some irrefutable proof had convinced her. "And what about your parents? Will they be invited?"

Hermione shrugged. "It depends if I get married before or after they learn about magic. The chances are it'll be a fully wizarding wedding," the younger woman said wistfully.

Hermione stayed talking to Lilias for several hours that day. By the time she left to return to Hogwarts, it had been agreed that Hermione would address Lilias as "Cousin" since Lilias was not yet old enough to have a twenty year old granddaughter. Hermione would also have to call her parents by their names, instead of Mum and Dad, after she met them. This was hard for Hermione because she desperately wanted her parents back, however, she knew that circumstances were no longer the same and that the John and Helen Granger of this time were not her parents but the parents of her younger self, and sadly accepted this as the price of one day having the Grangers back in her life.

When attending her granddaughter's fourth birthday party, Lilias addressed the subject with her daughter and son-in-law, after the other guests had all gone.

"Have you by any chance noticed anything strange happening around Hermione?" Lilias carefully asked and noticed with satisfaction the uneasy look shared by Helen and John. "Good!" she said cheerfully.

Helen and John gaped at Lilias in shock. "Why? Why would you say that? What's good about Hermione doing strange things?" Helen stuttered.

"I need to make a phone call and then I'll explain," said Lilias reassuringly. She walked over to the telephone and dialled the number of a local café where Hermione was waiting. Helen and John listened to the conversation in bemusement.

"Is that The Coffee Shoppe? Oh, good. I'm looking for a Maia Snape. She'll be sitting on her own—probably with her nose buried in a book! May I speak to her please? All right, thank you. Maia? Yes? Yes, now please. Yes. Yes, all right. Yes, see you soon." Hermione and Severus had married two years earlier—with Granny Lilias in attendance—and their first child had been born a few months previously.

"The lady who's coming, Maia Pevensie-Snape, is a distant relation of mine. She's going to help me explain," Lilias said after she had hung up. She and Hermione had realised that the story would be too fantastical to believe without someone who could actually demonstrate magic to provide proof.

A couple of minutes later, they all heard a crack outside the house. "That'll be Maia now," said Lilias happily.

"How did she get here from The Coffee Shoppe so quickly?" asked Helen in surprise.

"And what was that noise?" asked John?

"Don't worry, all will be revealed," said Lilias insouciantly, as she went to get the door.

Hermione walked in, wearing appropriate Muggle clothing for the time period. She had applied a glamour so that while she still looked recognisably like herself, she did not look like an older Hermione Granger. The differences were subtle but sufficient that John and Helen would not look at her and easily see a mixture of themselves in her features. Introductions made, Hermione sat next to Lilias, ready to explain magic to her parents.

"Helen, sweetheart. I haven't exactly been honest with you about my background," Lilias began nervously. "This is going to sound unbelievable, but what would you say if I told you that magic is real? There's a whole magical world that runs parallel to ours. It's hidden, though, so non-magicals aren't aware of it. I was born to a magical family but didn't have magic myself and so it was better for me to leave. When you didn't have magic either, Helen, I didn't see the point in telling you about it. Hermione, though… Hermione's magical and Maia here will be able to guide her in the magical world because she's magical, too."

"You don't seriously expect us to believe this, do you?" scoffed John. "I thought you were really going to help us!"

Hermione withdrew her wand and gave it a flick and a swish. "Wingardium Leviosa," she intoned and a number of objects began levitating around the room.

Returning them to their place, Hermione then transfigured a cushion into a glass jar and intoned "Caeruleum Igne!" With that, Bluebell Flames lit up in the jar. "Don't worry, it's cold fire. It won't hurt anyone, nor is it uncontrolled."

Watching out of the corner of her eye as her father stuck a finger in the jar to feel the flames, Hermione then rolled out her pièce de résistance and transformed into Minnow. As her parents gaped at the jaguarundi sitting on their sofa, Lilias reached over to stroke her. Minnow licked her Granny's cheek, much to Lilias' amusement, and transformed back into her human form, glamours and all.

"Magic is real," Hermione repeated what Lilias had said. "It's not magician sleight of hand and illusions, it's real. Think Merlin and Morgana real. Normally, the children of non-magicals who show magical abilities aren't told about magic until their eleventh birthday, and the parents are left to struggle, not knowing what's happening. In some countries, families are approached as soon as children start showing magical ability but Britain's a bit hidebound and parochial and tends to wait as long as possible. That's something I'm trying to change," she added dryly. "In this instance, not only is Cousin Lilias the daughter of magicals, but, John, your great-grandfather was like Cousin Lilias: the non-magical son of magical parents. Unlike Cousin Lilias, however, he was disowned for not being magical. Despite this, the fact that both you and Helen have magical ancestry—and even more to the point, the fact that Cousin Lilias grew up in the magical world—gives us a little bit more leeway in telling you about the magical world now."

The conversation stretched long into the evening as Hermione and Lilias told John and Helen all about the magical world. Hermione also explained that she would be taking her younger self—not that she referred to Young Hermione as such—under her protection. Lilias had not been disowned and so Young Hermione was entitled to the protection of the family name and to an inheritance in the magical world. Lilias and Hermione would also continue to teach the Grangers about the magical world and help Helen and John cope with being the non-magical parents of a magical child.

"I know it sounds positively archaic, but magicals contact each other through owl post. We have specially trained, highly intelligent, magical owls who deliver mail. Obviously, it would be awkward for you to keep a pet owl in a non-magical neighbourhood, so I have these for you instead." Hermione withdrew a package with a pair of mirrors. She had received the help of Remus Lupin in enchanting these. "These are communication mirrors, like walkie-talkies with infinite range and visual as well as audio. Even non-magicals can use them as they're enchanted to respond to a password, not to a magical signature. They're part of a set. My husband and I have the third. All you need to do is say, Granger, Puckle or Snape, and you'll be able to talk through the mirrors to whoever you call. For a three-way conversation, the password is Pevensie Network. Here, try it." Hermione handed one mirror to her parents and the other to her Granny.

Not surprisingly, Lilias, who had grown up in the magical world, was more comfortable with the idea than her daughter and son-in-law and was therefore more willing to try the mirrors. She went into another room and activated her mirror. "Granger," she said and John and Helen's mirror lit up. To their surprise they could see and hear Lilias quite clearly.

After a brief word with each other, Lilias deactivated the mirrors and returned to the living room. "Oh, I wish I'd had one of these when I was younger," she said wistfully. "I would have been able to stay in touch with my family even from the Muggle world."

"What's the Muggle world?" asked Helen curiously.

"Muggle is the wizarding term for non-magicals. Something else I hope to change, as it's quite derogatory. The wizarding world has a bit of a superiority complex." Lilias snorted in amusement as Hermione said that and Hermione continued with a wry smile. "I don't believe non-magicals are in any way inferior to magicals but as long as magicals refer to non-magicals by terms such as Muggles, then the magicals will never respect you. We recently had a civil war in the wizarding world based around that self-same superiority complex. Fortunately, the right side won, but it'll take time to change attitudes. Perhaps by the time your Hermione starts Hogwarts, things will be better."

"Will she be discriminated upon because her parents aren't magical?" asked John sharply.

"It's entirely possible, if attitudes haven't changed sufficiently by then. That's partly why I want to take her under my protection—that and she's entitled to it. At worst, with the acknowledgement that she has known magical ancestors within recent generations, she'll be regarded as a Half-blood, or of mixed heritage, rather a Muggleborn, which will put her in a better position than she would have been in if you hadn't known about Cousin Lilias being the daughter of magicals. My sponsorship will also help, as the Pevensies are an old family and the name carries weight in the wizarding world. I know it's all a bit strange to you, but think of it as the Pevensies being wizarding aristocracy."

Hermione had made a point of using as many non-magical analogies as possible in her explanations and this had helped her parents understand much better than Minerva McGonagall's explanations in the previous timeline. Feeling that her parents were somewhat overwhelmed, Hermione took her leave, feeling that they would be more comfortable addressing any immediate questions to Lilias.

"You can call me on the mirror at any time if you want any help or further explanations. Accidental magic is powered by emotion, so if Hermione should happen to turn someone's hair blue in a temper or anything like that, just call me and either my husband or I will come and fix it straightaway. Any time, day or night," Hermione assured her parents before taking her leave.

.o.O.o.

It took time but with the loss of most of Britain's Dark families and the introduction of compulsory Muggle Studies in Hogwarts, attitudes had indeed changed by the time young Hermione Granger started Hogwarts. When it became clear that young Hermione was not going to fit in at primary school any more than the older Hemione had, Hermione had introduced the Grangers to the Abbott, Bones, Longbottom, Lovegood, Patil, Potter and Weasley families. Together with the Snapes, these families joined forces and created a magical primary school. Muggle relatives of Muggleborn witches and wizards, who had trained as primary school teachers, were recruited to teach English, Maths and other important Muggle subjects, while a couple of the parents joined the staff to teach introductory magical studies. The school was soon regarded as obligatory for pupils wishing to attend Hogwarts and with this, informing Muggleborn students of their magic at a younger age came about automatically.

Older Hermione found it difficult to be around the Weasley children and Harry Potter. Although she was extremely grateful that they were all growing up safe and happy, it was hard for her to watch the children, knowing that they were not her Ron and Harry, or her Fred, George and Ginny—or anyone else, for that matter. Although Hermione had moved on with her life and was no longer mired in the depths of her grief, these children were nevertheless a constant reminder of her losses from her previous timeline. Despite this, Hermione remained on friendly terms with Molly and Arthur; they were simply too important to Hermione for her to lose contact with them, no matter how painful spending time in the Burrow with their family may be.

Hermione and Severus were also close friends of Frank and Alice Longbottoms, Marsali McGonagall and her husband, and Regulus Black and his wife, Kingsley Shacklebolt and Amelia Bones. Based on her past experiences with them, Hermione got on well with Sirius and Remus but did not become particularly close to them in this timeline because of their previously antagonistic relationship with Severus. Similarly, they did were never more than politely cordial with James and Lily, since Severus did not like James and Hermione did not like Lily.

Fortunately, Harry never became the arrogant prat that James had been in his youth but, while young Hermione was friendly enough with Harry and Ron, she did not become nearly as close to them as older Hermione had been to the Harry and Ron of her time. 'There was no troll in this timeline to bring them together,' thought Hermione ruefully.

Instead, young Hermione, who had been encouraged by her older self to be more tactful about her intelligence, was best friends with Padma Patil and both girls were sorted into Ravenclaw, where they took Luna Lovegood under their wing the following year.

Hermione had told her younger self that, "Despite the former reputation of Slytherin, there is no good or bad House. Every House has had wizards who went bad and every House has had very good and honourable people in it. The war is over, those who supported the ideals of Tom Riddle are gone and the reputation of Slytherin House has been rebilitated. Don't obsess over what House you think is best, focus on what House is best for you."

Young Hermione had listened to her older self's advice and was far happier in Ravenclaw than she would have been in the Gryffindor of the new timeline. It helped that young Hermione had already spent the last several years in the wizarding world, and also had a known magical heritage, and therefore did not feel as much of a need to prove her herself as older Hermione had done. In fact, young Hermione and Padma built a good group of friends around themselves, mainly girls who, in the previous timeline, had either not been born or else had not survived the first war.

Indeed, Slytherin's improved reputation owed itself to the hard work and effort of both Severus and Hermione.

"The idea that there isn't a single witch or wizard who went Dark who didn't come from Slytherin is utter nonsense. When Voldemort was killed and all his followers died with him, people from every House were found to have been marked Death Eaters. There may have been more Slytherin Death Eaters than Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Gryffindor but, make no mistake: the Death Eaters were not all Slytherins. And if another Dark Lord or Lady should rise, which House they came from won't be of any relevance, rather the important thing will be who will be willing to stand up to them," one would regularly remind the students.

"And don't forget that during the time of the Founders, religion played a far more prominent part in the lives of Muggles than it does now. The average Muggle would never see a King or Queen but they'd see their local priest every day. Religion dominated their lives, but that same religion disapproved of witchcraft, hence the witch burnings. The families of the Muggleborns tended to think that their children were possessed by the devil. It was very dangerous to share the knowledge of magic with Muggles at that time. Salazar Slytherin didn't necessarily have anything against Muggleborns per se, but most likely thought that for the safety of the wizarding world, it would be best to wait until a less superstitious time to invite Muggleborns to Hogwarts," the other always added.

Selene and Marcus were both also Ravenclaws, to no one's surprise given the intelligence of their parents. Selene married the son of Marsali McGonagall and Marcus married a daughter of Frank and Alice Longbottom.

Fortunately, Hermione's hope had come true and Tissy the house-elf had indeed been available when Pandora Lovegood had her accident and got her Mistress to St Mungo's immediately. It took time, but Pandora eventually recovered, and this made an enormous difference to young Luna, who did not retreat into her imaginary creatures and therefore fitted in much better with her peers this time round. Harry married Ginny Weasley, Neville married Hannah Abbott, Luna married magizoologist, Rolf Scamander, and Ron married a sweet Hufflepuff from their year, Megan Jones, who was a housewife and cook to rival even Molly.

Young Hermione, surprisingly, married Cedric Diggory. Cedric had dated Cho Chang during his sixth and seventh years at Hogwarts but the relationship did not last. Cho and her best friend, Marietta Edgecombe, were very popular girls who regarded themselves as the queens of Ravenclaw. The girls were bullies just like in the previous timeline and, again, their main victim was Luna Lovegood. Young Hermione, who disliked Cho and her gang immensely, tended to ignore them as much as possible and so, because Luna had kept quiet about being bullied, it was not until her fourth year—Luna's third year—that young Hermione had realised what happening. Ashamed that it had taken her so long to notice, young Hermione went charging off as soon as she found out to face Cho and Marietta. A very loud and very public argument ensued, in the main entrance hall of the castle, just outside the Great Hall.

Cedric had been appalled to learn that not only was Cho a bully, but that she showed no signs of remorse. On the contrary, Cho would not accept that there was anything wrong in what she had been doing—as far as she was concerned, being one of the popular girls gave her the right to do whatever she wanted, especially when her main victim was as eccentric as Luna Lovegood. Cedric had broken up with Cho on the spot and none of the Chinese girl's importuning had made him change his mind. Bullying was not the Hufflepuff way.

Cedric knew that Cho was the leader of a large gang and realised it could not have been easy for Hermione, who had a good group of friends but was not regarded as one of the school's leaders, to stand up to Cho and her gang. Cedric did not pursue a relationship with Hermione at that time, preferring to take a break from dating after his experience with Cho, but young Hermione had come to Cedric's attention at that point and he kept an eye on her thereafter, admiring her for having the integrity to stand up for what was right, despite being someone who normally preferred to remain in the background.

That incident had also brought Young Hermione to the attention of the staff, and she was made prefect the following year and Head Girl in her seventh year. Young Hermione followed in her older self's footsteps and was recruited by the Department of Mysteries almost before she had finished school. Cedric also worked at the Ministry and the first time he saw her in the cafeteria, asked if he could share her table. By the time they had finished lunch, Cedric had invited Hermione on a date and she had happily agreed. The young couple fell deeply in love and it was not long before they were engaged to be married.

Harry followed his father into the Auror Office and Ron, as older Hermione had suggested, was encouraged to develop his chess skills and followed Fred and George's example in opening his own games shop, which became just as successful as the joke shop.

Older Hermione sometimes regretted that young Hermione did not have the same relationship with Harry and Ron that she had had in her own timeline but when she saw how happy her younger self was, the regrets faded almost as soon as they arose. Instead, once a year, on the anniversary of the Final Battle, the older Hermione privately remembered those she had lost in her timeline, and the rest of the time, she happily lived her life to the full.

.o.O.o.

¹ Fortune's Fool by Mercedes Lackey. I couldn't resist including this, as it seemed perfect for the ritual.

² Supposedly James was a late baby born to older parents who died of illness when they were elderly, but I'm blurring that somewhat—given that Harry didn't know anything about his grandparents, other than the fact that they took in Sirius after he left home, there's no reason Hermione would have known how they died.

³ It took me a long time to realise that Hermione and Ron's children are named in part with their parents in mind: Rose begins with R for Ron and Hugo begins with H for Hermione. (I'm slow, I know!) There were a number of reasons why I chose the names I did but I also decided to keep to that theme and so Severus and Hermione's children are Selene, beginning with S for Severus, and Marcus, beginning with M for Maia.