"We have no other choice," Minerva McGonagall said gravely. "We lost too many in the battle. Potter is gone. Albus is gone. I see no other options." The wind howled around the Burrow, the cold night's storm echoing the gravity of Minerva's words, making the houses occupants shiver as it's windows shuddered. She was right of course. Harry's loss at the Battle of Hogwarts had cost them dearly, but they had to continue fighting. Voldemorts reign of fury had begun, and the resistance was running out of options.
"We have to go back to the beginning," McGonagall said. "It's the only way." She looked tired, battle worn. For the first time Hermione thought that the old witch looked her age. The stress of the past year showed in the deep lines of her face, and in the increasing amount of grey in her once rich brown hair. Even her bright eyes had lost their shine.
"I agree," she said quietly, speaking up for the first time that evening. Ron looked sadly at her from across the table. Harry's death had affected them both. He had been the tape that had bound them together, the peacekeeper, and they hadn't fully appreciated this until he was gone.
"You can't be serious," Molly said incredulously. "Even if we could send someone back, which by the way is almost impossible, we have no way of getting them back let alone to a precise date and in one piece. It's too risky." She finished stubbornly.
"It's the only chance we've got," Minerva snapped.
"But who knows what we might change!" Molly cried desperately. "Minerva you of all people know how dangerous time travel is."
"But Molly, look around you, change is what we need," Kingsley said calmly. Molly folded her arm indignantly and scowled at the rest of the table.
"Fine. But who?" A heavy silence settled over the kitchen. The occupants of the Burrow eyed each other sadly, each and everyone of them praying that someone else would offer them selves up for the challenge.
"I'll do it." Hermione said at last.
"What!" Molly and Ginny exclaimed simultaneously. Startled looks adorned the faces of everyone in the room as all eyes turned to her.
"Are you sure?" Neville asked.
"You can't. Not Hermione." Hermione sighed and looked at Mrs Weasely across the table, her face a mixture of fear and love for the brunet who was once to be her daughter in law. "You can't." she said again. "Hermione it's far to dangerous."
"I've had experience with time travel." She said matter-of-factly. "I know the rules. And it can't be anyone who was at Hogwarts at the time as you will be certain to run into your younger selves." Molly looked at her imploringly from across the table. "I can be placed in Slytherine. Then I can work from the inside." She continued. "Unless of course, any one else wants to volunteer." She added, looking hopefully around her fellow Order members. Ron, Ginny, Fred, Bill, Charlie, Neville, Fleur, they all kept silent. "I didn't think so."
"But…" Molly looked hopelessly around the table, desperately trying to find a way out of this. She was only nineteen. But they were right, this was the only option left.
"You must try to turn to the weaker ones first." Minerva said. "People like Narcissa Malfoy. People who never wanted it in the first place. Work on her. If you can turn her, you have a chance at getting to Lucius, Bellatrix, and if you have Bellatrix, then we have at least one great advantage. Narcissa is more important than you realise. If she turns, she can influence others." Hermione nodded. It was a long shot, which they knew, but it would be worth it if it worked.
Hermione sat in the room she had shared with Ginny for the past year, looking blindly out of the window. She looked around at the posters on the walls, watched as the Holly-Head Harpies smiled and waved at her as they whizzed about their poster, wandering when she would next see all of it again. She shoved her school robes (which had been transfigured into the Slytherine colours, along with her tie and scarf) into her trunk, and closed the lid. It felt odd to be going back to Hogwarts at all after she had seen it's near utter destruction not a year ago, let alone going back without her friends.
She walked into the living room, where the Weasleys, Neville, McGonagall and the rest of the remaining Order were waiting for her. Mrs Weasley hugged her tightly, fighting back tears.
"Be careful dear," she said, kissing her cheek. Ginny threw her arms around her best friend.
"I swear if you don't come back in one piece I am going to kill you," she said, trying to smile. Hermione tried to return the smile and looked round at all her friends one last time. McGonagall looked down at her, her eyes full of pride.
"This is a very brave thing that you are doing Miss Granger," she said. Then, out of her pocket she pulled a small sliver time turner. "I have set it. You know what to do."
"What will my cover be?" Hermione asked curiously. McGonagall took out her wand and drew up a set of official looking papers and handed them over. Hermione smiled. False Identification.
"I never knew you knew this sort of magic." She smiled mischievously. McGonagall smirked.
"Of course I do Granger." Hermione scanned the papers in her hand.
"Hermione Song?" she asked, raising an eyebrow and looking up at her old transfiguration teacher. McGonagall smiled.
"Well we could hardly have a person, looking exactly like you, with the same name as you, walking into Hogwarts twenty years later could we? Too many of the teachers stayed on that long. You will tell people that your parents work for the foreign office at the ministry so you have travelled a lot, which is why you are only joining for a year. No one will know of your muggle heritage. As far as they are concerned you are a pure blood like them. You have nothing to worry about." Mrs Weasely huffed loudly. McGonagall rolled her eyes.
"Good luck Miss Granger." She smiled. Hermione took a deep breath, and span the time turner.
She found herself standing in a large empty cornfield. It was dark, and a cool breeze swept through the night air, making her shiver. It seemed that the Weasely's were yet to build their great towering home. Suddenly Hermione heard a rustling noise. She pulled out her wand and looked around the darkness, tense and alert. Minerva McGonagall appeared in the clearing, looking as tense as Hermione felt, her wand drawn like hers, and younger than Hermione had ever seen her.
"Hermione Song?" she asked.
"Take my hand." Hermione did as she was told and they vanished.
Hermione smiled as she looked around to find herself in McGonagall's cosy little office grinning to herself when she saw the tartan biscuit tin.
"Sit." The teacher commanded. Again she did as she was told. Hermione smiled when the teacher offered her the tin, and politely declined.
"What?" the teacher asked.
"It's just nice to know that some things never change." Hermione smiled. McGonagall looked at her curiously for a moment, before sitting down behind her desk and regarding her with the cool stern gaze that Hermione found so familiar.
"Lets get down to business then. She said briskly, pulling out a clean red journal. "I have been in communication with my older self." She said. "And I have been assured that I know every thing that I need to know and absolutely no more, so firstly I must state how important it is that you never speak to me, or anyone else of your mission, and that if you find that you must, you give away no more information than is absolutely necessary." She nodded, and the witch continued. "This is my journal. I have whipped it blank, and anything you write in it will be able to be seen by my older self, but it is a one-way portal. I will not be able to communicate back. Any messages that are sent for you I will give you my self." She passed Hermione the diary and she took it in her hands, examining it for a moment before looking up again.
"Might I ask what year you are from?" McGonagall asked her.
"1997" she said. The witch nodded and looked at her gravely.
"I know I must not ask questions," she began,
"Then you shouldn't." Hermione interrupted simply. "Yes it is bad. That is why I am here. But the fact that I am here means that perhaps it wont end up like that." She was determined to make a difference, how ever small. Merlin knows they needed it.