Just a little idea that wouldn't leave me alone. Though I must be mad to add something else to my plate, I thought I'd have a go and see how it turned out. Thus; Quantum Entanglement.
Chapter One: Turning Through the Veil
"Your turn today Granger," Lucius Malfoy said, unlocking the cell door.
"Really? I thought it might have been somebody else."
In the beginning, the Ministry dungeons had been crammed. But numbers had been dwindling lately. Actually, Hermione was the last one left. Quite inconvenient the way it had all worked out.
Rumour had it that they were being taken up for some kind of public execution - proof that Lord Voldemort had nothing to fear anymore. Maybe a gallows outside the ministry; perhaps gawking people, and children shrieking with horror and glee.
Hermione's only problem had been deciding what to do about it: Live, or die. Living didn't hold much appeal. Escape was theoretically possible. But it had been a long war, and death was tempting.
She had her wand, concealed the way muggle whores had done it for centuries. Around her neck, the choking chain of her invisible time turner. Although it was impossible to go back more than twenty four hours, she could still make an escape attempt. If it failed, go back and try over and over again until it worked. Harry would have done that, but Harry was different. Hermione was exhausted. It had been a long war.
"Up you get," Malfoy said, leaning down and tapping the magic shackles with his wand. They fell away, and Hermione rubbed her wrists.
"In case I never get the chance to say it again, I just wanted to let you know I always thought your hair was a bit too feminine," she said.
Malfoy yanked Hermione to her feet. Her robes were so tattered that she felt exposed, but she pushed the thought away. It was all in the mind. If she couldn't have her life, she would at least keep her dignity.
"You've got an awful lot of words for a dead witch," Malfoy said, dragging her out of the cell.
They were in the bowels of the Ministry of Magic, and Hermione was surprised when she realised they were heading for the Department of Mysteries. The image of the gallows outside the Ministry had grown too strong in her mind to shake it off immediately.
"How do you do it...is it the death veil?"
"Every last one of you. No need to see the filthy blood."
The room was packed with onlookers. Many were Death Eaters Hermione recognised, but there were vast swathes of faces she didn't. And children too, scattered here and there, undoubtedly present to learn what happened when you disobeyed.
"How very medieval."
Malfoy shoved Hermione in the back, and she stumbled. The noise level went up as they entered the room. People were shouting, and something sharp smacked into the back of her head.
They were throwing things at her. Stoning the witch.
The voice was gentle and humorous, but silence fell instantly.
Lord Voldemort leaned forward on the granite throne, studying the latest prisoner. Hermione suspected he had made this room his power base because he enjoyed the easy convenience of the Veil. Should he wish to remove someone from their mortal coil, there were less bodies.
Since assigning himself Minister of Magic, Lord Voldemort had taken to wearing glamour's that disguised his true nature. Like any politician, he recognised the need for a pleasant face to present to the public. He resembled a distinguished gentlemen of around fifty, with thick dark hair, going slightly grey at the temples. Hermione glanced at him once, and looked away. No need to remind herself again.
Distantly, Hermione heard Malfoy announcing her crimes to the public. It was taking a while. There seemed to be a great deal of them. Should she live or die? Hermione hadn't decided yet.
"Therefore we announce that for the crimes committed, the only possible sentence is death!"
Her arm was being grabbed again, and they were dragging her towards the veil. But she still hadn't made up her mind. The slavering crowed roared approval, anticipating the kill.
"Ready to see the chosen one again?" Malfoy said.
A non-existent breeze made the veil flutter; black silky cloth draped below a stone archway.
Hermione put her hand to the hollow of her throat where the time turner nestled. No-one else could see it, not since fourth year when she had used a permanent concealment charm on it. Her heartbeat pulsed against her fingers.
Harry would have wanted her to live. Malfoy wanted her to die.
Hermione turned the hourglass. As she did so, she felt an almighty shove in the small of her back. The veil was rushing towards her...and the time turner was spinning...people were screaming and cheering...and the black curtain was upon her...
Hermione opened her eyes to total darkness, and wondered if this was death. If it was, it wasn't so bad. Very peaceful actually. She closed her eyes, which made no difference, and decided to rest for a while. Being dead was tiring.
"Up. Get up girl!"
Hermione awoke to find herself being poked by a dirty foot. There was a burning sensation around her throat, but she pushed the pain to the back of her mind.
"Causing mayhem everywhere, wandering the corridors at night, filthy little beasts! But I don't think I recognise you...?"
Hermione's head felt oddly spongy. She blinked a few times, and her vision became clearer. Then she looked up into a looming face and recoiled. It was a face that she'd seen hundreds of times before, and it was grimy and grizzled. Of course, it didn't help that he was supposed to be dead.
"What the fuck!"
"Be quiet!" Argus Filch growled.
"Oh dear fucking god I've died and gone to Hell. An eternity with Filch, fuck me…"
Hermione buried her head in her hands, and wondered if she should have put more effort into being a good person.
"Shut yer cakehole before you wake the whole castle! Always hated hysterical women…"
"Thank god Riddle can't die, I don't want to end up with him too..."
"Always bleedin' sobbing in the corridors, clogging up the toilets with tissues…fer Merlin's sake girl, get up!"
A few words filtered in. Hermione hadn't been spoken to with so much energy since before her incarceration, and it was almost invigorating. She scrambled to her feet, her back pressed against a wall that certainly felt solid. As Hermione's vision adjusted, the afterlife began to look rather like the inside of a cleaning closet.
"Is this Hell?"
Argus Filch peered at Hermione with deep suspicion.
"Near enough. Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
"But you're...well, dead."
Hermione's mind was racing at a million miles an hour. Now she came to think of it, Filch actually looked younger. Less frown lines, more hair.
"I bleedin' well am not."
Filch scowled at Hermione. Then he grabbed her by the arm. He seemed to have decided she was mad.
"We're going to the headmaster."
Outside the cleaning closet it certainly looked like Hogwarts. Which of course wasn't possible. Hogwarts didn't exist anymore.
As they walked through the school, Hermione's mind began to slow to its normal pace, and she looked around properly. Filch looked very solid. Hogwarts looked real too, down to the last gleaming suit of armour. It was dark, and seemed to be very early in the morning.
Hermione had been pushing aside a burning sensation around her neck since she awoke, and doing it quite well. Ignoring pain had been a necessary skill in the Ministry dungeons, but this was getting worse.
She raised a hand to her throat, and immediately snatched back her fingers. The little golden time turner was blazing hot; sizzling her flesh like steak on an open grill.
"How do you know my name?"
"Lucky guess. I know it's an...odd question, but what's the date?"
"Third of October," Filch grunted.
"Nineteen seventy-six," he said, giving her a look that suggested she was madder than he'd thought.
Hermione's head began to spin. The time turner couldn't possibly go back more than twenty four hours - she had been told never to try. The pain around her neck was getting harder to ignore, and she felt as though she was underwater, drowning.
"You alright there girl?" Filch said.
The pain was worse. Hermione's vision was going blurry, and she reached a hand out to try and grab something, anything...
When Hermione awoke the second time, her mind was clearer.
The unyielding surface beneath her felt more like a floor than a bed, and there were voices nearby. It wasn't the first time she had woken from unconsciousness in uncertain territory. Hermione ignored the voices, and focussed on the matter at hand.
Through cataclysmic disaster or cosmic joke, something had gone very wrong with her execution. If Filch wasn't insane, or lying, there was a chance she had just monumentally buggered an attempt to go back in time.
If Filch wasn't shit at dates, which was also quite an assumption, she had gone back a long way. More than two decades.
"And she was just lyin' there, Professor, among the mops!"
"Yes, thank you Argus. I believe I can handle the matter from here."
Hermione felt faint. If she wasn't very much mistaken, that was the voice of Professor Dumbledore.
A door closed somewhere, and Hermione sensed that Filch had left.
Hermione's eyes snapped open. Professor Dumbledore was sitting at his desk looking exactly the same as before, his little half-moon spectacles still perched on the end of his nose, as he regarded her over them. She staggered to her feet and stared at him.
"Professor Dumbledore, sir."
"I'm afraid you have me at a disadvantage. You seem to know my name, but I do not know yours."
Professor Dumbledore inclined his silvery head. Lying on the desk before him was Hermione's time turner, glinting gold in the lamplight.
"I've just been examining this remarkable time turner of yours. Tell me, where have you come from?"
Hermione wondered whether she ought to answer, but old habits ran deep.
"Amazing," Professor Dumbledore breathed. "Amazing."
Hermione looked at Dumbledore askance. A strange woman had just appeared in his school, and all he could say was 'amazing.'
"May I ask your full name?"
Hermione opened her mouth to answer, and then hesitated.
"I'm not sure if I should tell you. Wouldn't the best thing be for me to leave, without making changes?"
"I would entirely agree with you, if only that were at all possible."
"What do you mean?"
"I do not believe there is any way we can return you to your time," Professor Dumbledore said after a long moment, looking at Hermione with such pity that she felt a lump rise in her throat.
"We could, of course, petition the ministry for their assistance. But considering the current state of political affairs...should the news of your, ah, condition get out, I suspect you may become a target."
"For my knowledge of the future."
Hermione stared at the time turner on the wooden desk. So many adventures they had been on together.
"Exactly Miss Black. Which is why I believe it may be safer to merely integrate you back into the student population."
Hermione stared at Dumbledore, taken aback. She felt as though she had not merely gone back in time, but stepped into a parallel universe. During the Great Siege, she had spun the time turner three times. Scavenged three lives. Each time, she had craved further un-doing; to prevent the ravages of war, instead of merely picking through the wreckage.
"You mean I can stay here? Start...start my life over?"
"I know this must seem very hard. I am more sorry than I can say, Hermione."
Outside the arched window, the first golden rays of the dawn broke over the indigo horizon.
"Become...a student, here, in nineteen seventy-six?"
"I believe it is the only way your knowledge of the future can be kept safe. You were a Hogwarts student, weren't you?"
Opportunity didn't knock very often. In fact true opportunity, real ground-breaking change-the-world opportunity, probably never knocked at all for most people. Hermione wasn't most people, but she wasn't going to throw a chance like this away. She made a split second decision.
"Yes, I was."
And death itself would start working backward. Harry and Ron would live again.
Four years of guerrilla warfare had taught Hermione that the most savage kill was the dagger in the back from the person supposed to be watching it. If she was here again, this time she would do it from the inside.
"Professor, my name is Hermione Black."
Professor Dumbledore's eyebrows raised, but he gave no other sign that she had surprised him.
"An odd question, Miss Black, but could you share the name of your father with me?"
Hermione allowed a brief spasm of confusion to pass across her face. "I don't remember. Why can't I remember?"
"Do not trouble yourself Miss Black," Professor Dumbledore said soothingly. "You have suffered an injury to the head - it is expected that your memories may be affected. Perhaps it is for the best."
Hermione prodded gingerly. The back of her head was sticky with blood.
Professor Dumbledore looked out the window, where the sun was rising. He seemed to be thinking very deeply about something. At last, he picked up the little golden time turner from his desk, and turned it over in his hands without spinning the hourglass.
"I do not want to hear anything about your time. Meddling with the past is dangerous," he said regretfully.
"Yes," Hermione said.
The less Professor Dumbledore knew, the better. Easiest to let him think she had been a normal student.
"I understand though, that the days ahead will be hard while you grieve. Please be assured that my office door is always open to you, should you wish for an understanding ear."
Hermione smiled sadly at Professor Dumbledore.
"You once said 'Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.'"
For a moment the Headmaster looked startled, and then he relaxed into a smile.
"I am glad to hear that I still say that in twenty years time Miss Black. Now, I know this is painful ground for you, but in order for you to have a life in our world, we must cover some details."
"Of course, sir."
"Firstly, what house were you sorted into at Hogwarts?"
"Slytherin," Hermione lied, meeting the headmaster's gaze calmly.
"And what year were you in when you, shall we say, arrived?"
"Sixth year sir."
That should sandwich her in tightly between the current and future Death Eaters.
"I see. In that case, if you have no objection, I would prefer to move you into the Slytherin dormitory tonight, and begin classes tomorrow. The Black family is a large one, and a distant cousin appearing suddenly will be strange, but not impossible. Do you have any preference to your new history?"
"Obviously I have to be an orphan," Hermione said slowly, as though hearing the words for the first time. "I sound British, so I can't have transferred from overseas. Do many purebloods home-school their children?"
"It's not unheard of, although unusual. That you're female, forgive me, makes it more likely."
"Wife material," Hermione said wryly. "No need to waste an education."
Professor Dumbledore sighed, and began scribbling out notes on parchment.
Outside, the forbidden forest sprawled, dark and foreboding by the lake. As the sun cast ripples across the water, Hermione saw several silhouettes fly over the trees. Thestrals, frolicking in the morning sunshine. She smiled.
This time, the war was already won. Voldemort was already dead. It was just that nobody knew it yet.
"I think I'd like to get settled in, if I can," Hermione said after a moment. Professor Dumbledore looked up from the notes he was writing, and nodded.
"Of course my dear. I will have Professor Slughorn - our head of Slytherin - show you to your dormitory, and your new companions. I'm sure I do not have to warn you to keep all, and any future knowledge to yourself. If anyone ever discovered the truth..."
"I know sir. Never."
"Also sir - I have no supplies. And no money."
Professor Dumbledore frowned. He clapped his hands sharply. A house elf appeared, dressed in a clean pillowcase. It bowed deferentially to Professor Dumbledore.
"What can I do for the great master?"
"Miss Black needs some school supplies for a sixth year taking...?"
"Arithmancy, Ancient Runes, Defence Against The Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Potions and Charms," Hermione said. She had, in fact, studied more subjects than that - but since her free time was to be spent winning a war, there was really no point in filling up her schedule.
Professor Dumbledore blinked.
"Very well then. And also a full wardrobe for a female student please, self-sizing. Do you have any preference for non-uniform clothing, Miss Black?"
"No muggle clothes," Hermione said firmly. "Just what the other pureblood Slytherin girls wear. "
The house elf vanished. Professor Dumbledore clapped his hands together.
"Excellent. I believe that is everything covered for the moment."
Professor Slughorn arrived at the office a few minutes later. He was as large as he had been in Hermione's time, and his thick thatch of hair had clearly just begun to thin, leaving a bald patch on the top of his head.
"Did I hear you correctly Albus? A new student?"
"This is Miss Hermione Black," Professor Dumbledore introduced, his tone casual, as though sixth year students appeared in his office every day.
"Black? A relation of Regulus's, perhaps?"
The large man's greedy little eyes lit up at the name.
"I don't know sir. My parents weren't in touch with the rest of our family. But we were purebloods, so its a possibility," Hermione invented.
Professor Slughorn looked as though he were about to start rubbing his pudgy hands together with glee, but restrained himself under Professor Dumbledore's disapproving eye.
"Err, anyway Miss Black. Shall we get you settled in?"
"Thank you, I'd like that."
Prisoner Hermione Granger, war criminal and formerly third-in-command to Harry Potter, stepped out of Professor Dumbledore's office and prepared to shed her skin.
Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed. Updates may be sporadic, as I'm working on The Butterfly Effect for the most part right now. But shouldn't be too long.