A/N: Welcome to my newest fic, In His Rooms! As always, this fic is written in full and new chapters will be posted every 2-4 days. You need never fear this will be abandoned.
This is compliant through to the end of DH, but epilogue ignored. Rated M for a reason! Later chapters get very angsty/gory/sexy. You've been warned.
A big thank you goes to my beta AdelaideArcher, without whom I would still be spelling McGonagall's name incorrectly. Any errors are my own. Normal disclaimers apply (I don't make money from this; JKR owns anything you recognize).
As with most writers, I appreciate your reviews. Thank you in advance for your support. I hope you enjoy this one.
In His Rooms
Chapter 1: A little more trouble
"And quite honestly, I've had enough trouble for a lifetime," said Harry.
The war is over, I thought, suddenly filled with a lightness I'd not felt in years. I turned to my best friends, Harry and Ron, standing next to me in the headmaster's office.
"Oh, Harry, it's finally over, isn't it?" I said with delight, giving Harry the biggest hug I could muster, before turning to Ron and hugging him too. And there we stood, smiling and exhausted, letting the calm wash over us, when Dumbledore cleared his throat.
I looked up at the old wizard's portrait, wondering if he was going to congratulate us again, or pass on some wisdom that would help us in repairing the world now that the war was over.
But instead, he said, "I wonder if one of you might be troubled for just a little bit longer."
"Excuse me?" said Ron. "Harry here just killed You-Know-Who. What else is there to do?" I wondered the same thing. We'd destroyed all the Horcruxes, hadn't we? Vanquished the Dark Lord once and for all? What else could there be?
"In your third year, you were able to save the life of an innocent man. I am hoping you might be willing to save another who did not deserve to die last night," said Dumbledore solemnly.
"Fred?" asked Ron, his blue eyes growing hopeful.
"No, Mister Weasley, I'm afraid not," said Dumbledore sadly. "Though I wish I could say otherwise."
"Snape," said Harry then, his green eyes staring at the pensieve.
"Yes, Harry, Professor Snape," said Dumbledore with a nod.
I suddenly remembered the man dying in the Shrieking Shack. It was only hours ago, but it seemed like a lifetime away. At the time, I still thought he was a traitor as I conjured the small vial for Harry to scoop up his memories, wondering what on earth he might have to tell us. But there was something in his dark eyes as he lay there, choking and dying, that told me perhaps I'd had him all wrong. Harry, of course, confirmed my suspicions before we'd run up to the headmaster's office. But I had no idea saving him was possible. He was dead, after all, wasn't he?
"But he died, Professor, we saw him die," I said to Dumbledore, deciding to voice my concerns. "If we go back and try to save him, won't that disrupt time?"
I'd received quite the lecture in third year before getting my Time Turner about the consequences of playing with time. There were strict rules. Time wasn't something you messed with; you could fuck it all up badly if you weren't careful. Sometimes I remembered what we did at the end of third year and thought were were crazy and naive, but then, Dumbledore had put us up to it then too.
"You believe you saw him die, yes," said Dumbledore, his eyes twinkling.
"You mean he's still alive?" asked Harry, his eyes looking hopeful.
"That is up to you," said Dumbledore.
"Let's go," said Harry firmly, looking at me and Ron.
"No," I said firmly, the pieces of the puzzle falling together in my mind as they so often did. It had to be me, didn't it? Dumbledore had said one of us, and I was the one with the experience, I was the one who wouldn't be missed if something went wrong.
"Hermione's right, Harry," said Ron. "He's not worth it."
Harry just looked at me with a shocked expression at my instant refusal.
"Did you not hear what Harry told us? He is worth it, Ronald," I said crossly. "And that's not what I meant."
"What did you mean, Hermione?" asked Harry, before Ron could argue.
"I meant I'll go alone," I said, looking at them both in turn.
"But Hermione, you can't!" said Harry, shaking his head.
"I can, Harry. You need to rest, and people will freak out if they find out you've gone," I said sternly, using my best do-not-question-me voice. No way would Molly Weasley let me live if she found out I let Harry or Ron get involved in some other adventure so soon after the last; it was bad enough she'd already lost Fred to this damn war.
"Then I'll go with you," said Ron. "And we'll save Fred too."
"No, Ron," I said. "I know it hurts—It hurts me too—but we can't save Fred. We were all right there when the explosion happened. It's just not possible. And you need to stay with your family Ron." I silently willed him not to fight with me just this once. Miraculously, he seemed to get the message, as I heard no angry response. Instead, his blue eyes grew exceptionally sad as he stared at me.
"I don't understand," he said. "Why do you have to go alone?"
As always, it seemed I'd have to explain things to my boys.
"It makes sense for me to go. I know how to work the Time Turner, I have no family to go home to—don't give me that look Harry, I know you haven't either, but you have the Weasleys—and Professor Dumbledore said one of us," I finished. I am the most experienced, and the most expendable, I thought.
"He—what?" asked Ron, looking confused. I sighed, wondering for the millionth time if I was the only one who ever listened, and saw Dumbledore nod in affirmation above me.
"Yes, it should only be one of you," said Dumbledore. "And I agree that Miss Granger is the best fit for this mission."
Told you, I thought.
"I still don't like it," said Ron. "You deserve a break like the rest of us."
"I'll get it, Ron, just not right now," I said firmly. It surely couldn't take that long. Professor Snape had only been dead a few hours at most. I could last that long, especially if it meant saving him.
"And besides," I said, voicing my next thought, "if I somehow fuck up, and Professor Snape dies, the worst that happens is I end up right back here." Or I could get myself killed, but best not to mention that.
"You don't fuck things up, Hermione, it's not in you," said Ron, and I couldn't help but blush at his confidence in me. "You'll do it."
"Thanks, Hermione, I—" said Harry, looking torn. I gave him a hug so he wouldn't have to finish his thought. I knew it would be hard for him to let me go; he was used to taking the lead in situations like this. But this time it was going to be Hermione, not Harry, who was the hero.
"I'll be all right, Harry. Please, don't feel bad. I want to do this. I can do this," I said, trying to reassure him. At least I knew he'd listen to Dumbledore.
"Miss Granger, you'll find a Time Turner in a compartment hidden below the top right drawer—it's locked," said Dumbledore.
Apparently there was no time to wait, so I followed his instructions, going to the desk and flicking my wand at the drawer. It popped open, and inside looked like a completely normal drawer, filled with scrolls and quills and bottles of ink. I took the pile of stationary out and placed it on the desk, but could only see flat wood—certainly nothing that looked like a secret compartment was below. Thinking quickly, I cast a Revealing Charm and an Unlocking Charm in rapid succession, and was pleased to see the dark wood melt away to reveal a black velvet box. I plucked it out of the drawer and opened it, uncovering a gold Time Turner that looked like the one I had as a third year student. I thought they'd all been destroyed in our flight from the Department of Mysteries, but maybe Dumbledore had been hiding this one away as a Plan B. And now here I was about to enact his plan.
"This one is a bit different, you'll find, if you look closely, Miss Granger," said Dumbledore, so I investigated the gold loops and the tiny hourglass, and found that indeed there was a difference: the sand that filled the hourglass was a dark green, and the runes around the edges were not the same as my old Time Turner. I took a moment to decipher them.
"Sir, this doesn't go back by hours, but by months?" I asked, stunned. That couldn't be right, could it? Snape had only died three hours ago, and I was told explicitly in third year…
"But, sir," I said, voicing my concerns, "I was told that five hours is the maximum one can go back without harming oneself."
"Under normal circumstances, with a normal Time Turner, that is true," said Dumbledore, with that twinkle in his eye that said he knew something everyone else did not. Gods, how often I wished I had half the brain power of that wizard.
"But this isn't a normal situation or a normal Time Turner," I said, following his train of thought for a moment, and then stopping when I realized I had no idea why I would have to go back a month—or would it be months?
"How far back do I have to go?" I asked the portrait.
"Eight months should do it, I believe," said Dumbledore, and I couldn't stop myself from flinching.
"Eight months? Hermione you can't!" shouted Ron, turning towards with me and grabbing my arm, as if he could stop me.
"Professor Dumbledore, please explain," said Harry, looking concerned. I knew Harry trusted the old wizard, and I was trying my hardest to trust him as well with the knowledge I'd have to live the last eight months all over again in order to save Severus Snape.
"This is not a simple prison break scenario as with Sirius and Buckbeak," said Dumbledore calmly. "You will need to make plans, Hermione, and Severus will not be easily swayed to alter course—or to trust you."
I nodded. He was right, of course. It wasn't as if I could simply barge in and swoop Snape away before Voldemort killed him in the shack—doing so would likely mean my death as well, and maybe even the victory of Voldemort. I'd have to find a way for Snape to die, without him actually dying…
Suddenly I wasn't sure that eight months was really long enough.
"I don't need to remind you, Miss Granger, that no one must know you have gone back, and no one, not even Professor Snape, must know about your search for Horcruxes—it would put you, Mr. Potter, and Mr. Weasley in great danger. You must stay hidden to all but Severus," said Dumbledore seriously. "The past cannot be altered, Miss Granger. Your memories must stay intact or I'm afraid I cannot guarantee a positive outcome."
"I understand, sir," I said, rummaging up my memories of Snape's death, as terrible as they were. I'd have to go through it all again… but at least the next time he would live, wouldn't he?
"You're really going to do this, Hermione?" asked Harry, pulling me from my thoughts.
"Yes," I admitted with a sigh. "If he really did all those things you said he did, then he deserves a chance, don't you think?"
"You're right," said Harry. "He definitely deserves a chance."
"Do you need to leave right away?" asked Ron, looking worried, his hand still clamped to my arm. I glanced up at Dumbledore to be sure, but given the speed he gave me the Time Turner, I had a feeling I knew what his answer would be.
"Time is of the essence, as they say, when a life is on the line," he said.
I put the gold chain around my neck, an oddly familiar feeling coming over me as I did so. The Time Turner settled against my robes, and I turned to Ron, giving him a hug and kiss on the cheek.
"I'll see you soon, Ron, I promise," I said.
"Take this," said Harry, handing me his Invisibility Cloak. "Just promise me you'll return it."
"I promise," I said, and I understood he also meant 'promise me you'll come back.'
"Sir, I have one more question," I said, looking at Dumbledore, who nodded in response. "How am I supposed to make it look like Professor Snape has died, without him really dying?"
Dumbledore chuckled. "Severus will give you that answer," he said simply. Well, I only hoped he was right. I guessed if not, I had eight months to come up with something.
"Well then, I supposed that's it," I said, putting the Invisibility Cloak in my pocket along with my wand and beaded bag. I looked at my two best friends, suddenly not wanting to leave them, but forced myself to nod at them confidently as I picked up the Time Turner.
"I believe you may want to go into the next room to avoid any unfortunate encounters," said Dumbledore, before I could spin the hourglass. "By the bookshelf, Miss Granger."
I turned my head to the bookshelf behind the desk and there it was: a door I never realised was there, carefully concealed with a charm to blend it in with the surrounding shelves.
"Eight turns, Miss Granger," said Dumbledore.
"I'll be back before you realise I'm gone," I said, hugging my friends one last time, trying to ignore the forlorn looks on their faces.
"Good luck, Hermione," said Ron sadly as he watched me approach the door.
"Be safe, Hermione," said Harry.
"I will," I said, pulling open the door. Beyond it was another set of spiral stairs, similar the the ones that led to the headmaster's office. I put my foot on the first step and felt it begin to move, spiralling me upwards and away from my friends, away from rest for another eight long months.
You can do this, Hermione, I told myself.
At the top of the staircase was a solid mahogany door carved with the Hogwarts' coat of arms, which I opened carefully to reveal a room that I could instantly tell belonged to Snape: dark green couches flanked the stone fireplace and a small potions lab was set up in one corner. There were two other doors in the room, which I could only assume led to a bathroom and bedroom, but I didn't bother to check.
Time is of the essence when a life is on the line.
Taking a deep breath, I picked up the Time Turner once more from my robes. I had no idea what to expect, but I knew what I had to do: Severus Snape could not die.
I spun the hourglass eight times.