August 7th, 1991
Harry Potter's earliest, most solid memory, was of Hermione waking him up when he was very young. She'd stayed the night at what used to be just his and his dad's home, and woke up early to make him eggs, and then read him stories all morning while he played with Crookshanks and Pretzel. She would kiss his forehead, quietly whisper in his ear that it was time to get up, and then, when he pretended to still be sleeping, she would tickle him until he laughed himself fully awake.
Harry missed that Hermione sometimes.
"Harry Potter, I have been calling you downstairs for the last forty minutes. If you don't get out of that bed right now, we're going to be late!"
Harry groaned into his pillow. "Muuuum!"
"Don't mum me!" Hermione snapped, stepping into the room and tugging his blankets off of him, giving him a good swat on the arse. When Harry yelped in shock, rolling over and glaring up at her in indignation, she giggled down at the boy. "C'mon," she said and ran her hand affectionately through his messy hair. As though he could fix it, Harry mussed his fingers back through it the other way. "Draco and Theo are nervous enough and you know they'd feel better if they had a friend with them."
Sighing, Harry nodded. "Can we go to Diagon Alley after?" he asked. "We didn't get to last week, and I'm afraid that someone else might have bought her."
She reached out, adjusting his glasses with a tender smile. "What did I promise you that you could have before you go to Hogwarts?"
Harry smiled. "An owl."
"And which owl?"
His smile widened. "Hedwig."
She beamed down at him. "And do I ever break my promises to you, Harry?"
"Never," he said and then jumped up, nearly tripping as he grabbed a pair of trousers that were hanging out of a half-opened dresser drawer.
Hermione sighed. "Those better be clean."
"What if he doesn't like me?" Theo whispered to Harry nervously as they stood in the Atrium of the Ministry, toeing the marble floor beneath them. "What if . . . what if he makes Mum send me back?"
"There's nowhere to go back to," Draco said, looking flustered, but less emotional than Theo as he stared into the distance, occasionally looking up at his mother who was tapping her finely made heel impatiently. "And it won't matter what he says, we're going to Hogwarts in a few weeks. If he says you can't stay, then I'll refuse to come home as well. We'll live in the dungeons."
"Or the tower," Harry chimed in.
Draco scoffed. "Not on your life, Potter."
Hermione looked down the length of the corridor and watched as Frank and Allie stepped out of the D.M.L.E., a freshly showered but exhausted looking Lucius Malfoy standing between them, hands free, but very clearly had recently been cuffed since he was rubbing the soreness out of them.
Narcissa sucked in a deep breath and stood absolutely still.
Harry grinned up at his aunt and then looked at Hermione who shared a smile with him before touching Narcissa's shoulders. "Let me guess," she said teasingly. "Malfoys don't run?"
Tears sprung to Narcissa's eyes and she picked up the hem of her robes. "Sod that," she said and then sprinted down the corridor, much to Draco and Theo's surprise, the click of her heels rang hard against the marble.
Lucius shortened the distance between them just as his wife flung herself into his arms.
September 1st, 1991
Autumn seemed to arrive early that year. The morning of the first of September was crisp and golden as an apple. Harry was more excited than he'd ever been as he pushed his trolley down the pavement and toward the wall separating Platforms Nine and Ten. An owl cage sat on the top of his trunk carrying Hedwig, who had been a late birthday gift from Hagrid. James took Hermione's hand as they followed Harry through onto the Platform, both smiling at the way he grinned at the sight of the train.
"Woah," he said in awe.
"Harry!" Neville shouted from across the way.
As Harry ran to catch up with Neville, he passed the Malfoys on his way, tossing a grin to Draco and Theo, who were both cringing as Narcissa peppered their faces with kisses while Lucius looked on, decidedly uncomfortable in the large crowd.
"Thank Merlin you're here," Sirius said as he approached James and Hermione, a black-haired little witch hanging from his hand like a ragdoll, sobbing hysterically. "She's been screaming all bloody morning."
Hermione laughed and pulled Ariel up into her arms and the little girl hiccoughed. "I - want - to - go - to - Hogwarts - it's - not - fair."
She could see over Sirius's shoulder, Edward, who was dropping off Emma for the first time as well, was having similar troubles with Romilda, who was on the ground, kicking her feet against a nearby bench. "Oh sweetie," Hermione said, kissing Ariel's wet cheek. "It's just a few more years. And with the boys all gone this year, you and Charlotte can finally play by yourselves."
Allie and Frank approached after helping the boys load their trunks onto the train, just as Molly ushered her group through the wall, Percy ahead of the pack and wearing his shiny prefect badge, followed by Fred and George, and eventually Ron and a pouting Ginny. "All the girls are upset today," Allie remarked with a laugh. "I remember being thrilled when my brother went to Hogwarts ahead of me. I took over his room and turned it into a dollhouse."
Neville's eyes widened and he turned and glared at Charlotte, who snorted and rolled her eyes at her older brother.
"Right then," James said, pulling Ariel into his arms. "So when we write you all owls tonight, should we just send them straight to Gryffindor Tower?"
Hermione and Allie rolled their eyes.
"I'll be proud no matter where Neville ends up," Frank said, ruffling his son's hair.
Harry laughed. "It's not as if it's a surprise. Mum told me years ago that we all end up in—mphf!"
Hermione clamped a hand over Harry's mouth and then laughed as the others smirked at her. She leant down and whispered in his ear, "Anything I've told you about the future has been changed with everything else. So keep that our little secret, okay?" Harry groaned under her hand and nodded. "And don't pick on any of your friends if they end up anywhere other than Gryffindor?" He nodded again. "And you know that we'll love you even if you let the Sorting Hat put you somewhere else, right?" Harry let out a dramatic sigh through his nose and gave a final nod.
The train whistle blew once and Hermione's heart jumped within her chest, overcome with the strange feeling like she should be getting on the train with him. "Please write to us," she pleaded.
"And stay safe," James added.
"And don't get into trouble," James added with a wink, knowing full well that Harry had packed the Invisibility Cloak in his trunk.
"And have fun!" Sirius insisted.
Hermione wiped a tear from her eye and leant down, kissing Harry's cheek. "And give Remus and Mary our love."
Harry winced and looked around to make sure no one heard her. "Mum . . . they're professors! I can't give professors love!"
"Hedwig's here!" Hermione shouted from the kitchen, running up the stairs and nearly stumbling into James's small home office. She waved the letter in his face teasingly and then pulled it away just in time for him to miss snatching it out of her hands. "Too slow," she said with a grin. "I thought you played Quidditch?"
James stood. "I did. I was a Chaser," he said, devious glint in his eyes. "What do you think I'm gonna do now?"
She squealed and darted out of the office, making her way upstairs only to be caught in his grasp just as she entered the bedroom. James lifted her against his side, holding her in one arm off of the ground while she laughed. He stole the letter from her hands and cleared his throat.
"Dear Mum and Dad," he read aloud and then laughed triumphantly. "I got into Gryffindor! The Sorting Hat said that I had many options and that both of my mothers could have ended up in Ravenclaw as well. But I asked it to put me in Gryffindor because you were all Gryffindors and I was dying to see the tower! Ron and I have already made a bunch of friends. Emma and Neville's weird cousin ended up in Gryffindor too. Draco went to Slytherin like everyone knew, but Theo ended up in Ravenclaw. Can you believe it? I remembered what you said, Mum, about being nice even if my friends ended up in other Houses. And I'm going to do my best but I'm a little sad that Neville ended up in Hufflepuff. But it's okay, because their common room is by the kitchens! Uncle Remus and Aunt Mary said to say hello, and they're expecting to see you both for lunch in Hogsmeade next week. Love, Harry."
James sighed happily and tossed the letter on his bedside table before tossing his wife onto the bed.
July 20th, 1994
"You can't get mad at me," James said, standing in Lupin and Howells in front of his wife who was staring at him with wide brown eyes that had the faintest lines in the corners, likely more from stress than age. She had a stack of orders she'd just completed, which usually put her in a good mood. Harry's fourteenth birthday was just over a week, and he'd waited until Hermione was over the preparations stages for the party so she would be the least stressed when he had to tell her his news. "Promise you won't get mad at me."
Hermione raised a brow. "I can never get mad at you when you wear your Ministry robes," she said with a smirk.
He laughed nervously, which was never a good sign. "So you know how I'm the Head of the Department of Magical Sports and Games?"
She stared at him incredulously. "I recall the promotion two years ago, yes."
Clearing his throat, James laughed again. "So . . . and keep in mind that I had no control over whether or not it would happen . . . I've been meeting the last six months or so with the people from the Department of International Magical Cooperation and—"
"You didn't?!" she shrieked.
"Calm down," he said, holding his hands up and mentally wondering why he hadn't pulled a wand into one of them before telling her. "I knew you'd get upset but I'm completely in charge no matter what that idiot Ludo Bagman says, and I've double-checked the damn Cup myself like . . . twenty times—"
"Check it again!"
December 13th, 1994
Harry did not, in fact, end up as a Champion for Hogwarts in the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Hermione had actually accompanied James, much to Harry's utter embarrassment, to Hogwarts for the drawing of the names just to make certain. When Viktor—who got a brief glare from James before Hermione smacked him in the arm—was followed shortly by Fleur and then Cedric, Hermione squeezed James's hand tight enough to hurt as she stared at the Cup. When Minerva dismissed everyone to their rooms and the Cup was left standing there, doing nothing, Hermione almost fainted with relief.
The greatest shock of the visit, however, was being introduced to the Headmaster of Durmstrang, Severus Snape. James and Snape shook hands while glaring at one another as though nothing had changed through the years, and the former Death Eater sneered at Hermione upon greeting, clearly remembering that she'd once knocked him unconscious in the back alley behind the Leaky Cauldron.
"Harry's asked Emma to the Yule Ball," Mary confessed when she met up with Hermione and Allie at the Three Broomsticks during a free period. She'd taken over for Slughorn when the man finally retired, and both she and Remus had finally married a year earlier at Christmas.
"That rotten little . . ." Hermione pouted. "I got a letter from him just last night and he didn't say a word."
Allie laughed. "He's more likely to tell James about girls than you."
Sighing, Hermione sipped her butterbeer, remembering a time when Harry Potter had, in fact, went to her for advice about girls, though he'd shown absolutely zero interest in either Ginny or Cho Chang in this timeline. She looked up at Allie. "What about Neville? Has he asked Ginny yet?"
Allie raised a brow and Mary choked on her drink. "Ginny?" The two witches shared a look before turning and smiling at Hermione. "Oh, sweetie . . . no, Neville's not going with Ginny."
Hermione furrowed her brow in confusion. "But he . . . I don't . . . well then who is he going with?"
December 29th, 1994
Hermione pouted as she stared at the photographs in her hand. "Oh, look how handsome Harry is in his robes," she said with a slight sniffle as Molly handed her more photographs, the next ones of Ron dancing with Pansy Parkinson, an arrangement made by Harry and Draco when Ron waited too long to ask anyone and panicked at the last minute.
"They grow up too fast," Molly said, dabbing at her eyes. "I don't know what he's complaining about," she added. "Ron looks very smart in those robes."
Hermione said nothing.
"Are you done crying?" James asked as he, Sirius, and Arthur joined the witches in the kitchen, snagging a biscuit of two when Molly held the plate out to them. "Oh, look at that," he said with a grin, pulling a photograph. "You'll have to get a copy of this one made for Allie and Frank," he said, looking at Neville awkwardly shift on the dance floor next to his date.
Hermione nodded. "Another for Narcissa and Lucius, too," she said and watched as, in the photograph, Theo reached out and laced his fingers through Neville's.
Sirius smirked. "Speaking of Narcissa. Have you any photographs of Draco in there?"
Molly flipped through the stack. "Why yes, here's one just—Oh!"
Hermione's eyes widened. "What? What is it?"
James snickered. "He wrote to Sirius asking his advice on how to ask a girl to the dance. He mistakenly assumed that Sirius spoke french."
Reaching for the photograph, Hermione scoffed. "He asked a little French witch from Beauxbatons?"
"No," James said. "He asked a little British girl from Beauxbatons."
Staring down at the photograph, Hermione nearly choked at the sight of Draco Malfoy, dancing with a young Hermione Granger.
"Sirius!" she screamed and turned, just in time to watch a large, black dog, bolt out the door.
June 24th, 1995
Hermione sat in the stands, one hand clutching Harry's tightly as he sat beside her, staring up at her with sad eyes. "It's going to be fine, Mum. I'm right here, I'm not going anywhere," he reassured her as she stared down into the large hedge that had taken up the whole pitch. He didn't even complain when he felt her cast a Shielding Charm every few minutes.
James sat a few rows down, needing to work alongside the others who had helped put together the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Both he, Harry, and Remus had kept Hermione aware of everything happening within the tournament, and she was unsurprised to hear that Viktor had come out ahead in the dragon challenge, but was unable to rescue his best friend Anton in time from the mermaids and had lost points there, giving Cedric a little advantage when he'd arrived to the surface of the Black Lake first with Cho.
Red sparks flew up in the air once and then again, and Hermione held her breath until the Portkeyed Cup reappeared in the middle of the clearing with a triumphant Fleur Delacour standing with a grin on her face, Tri-Wizard Champion.
March 30th, 1997
"I don't care that she's dating Ron," Hermione insisted when Sirius and James teased her. "And be quiet. The poor girl might hear you and she's got enough to worry about with that horrible necklace she's making Ron wear," she added with a small laugh. "I just can't stand her mother. The woman is practically planning their wedding. I don't care if she is married to Allie's brother, I will not help that witch plan a wedding between two sixteen-year-olds."
"Seventeen," James corrected with a laugh and kissed her cheek, stealing a sandwich off of the tray that she was helping put together for Easter dinner.
When he reached to steal another, she slapped his hand and smirked. "That's it, now you're in charge."
James smirked and stuck half of the sandwich in his mouth. "Fine," he mumbled through his bite. "I put together a bloody amazing sandwich platter."
She rolled her eyes and turned, smiling brightly as Emmeline walked into the kitchen looking miserable at nearly nine months pregnant. "Oh, look at you."
"Call me fat and see what happens," Emmie said, stopping to glare at Sirius. "That goes for you as well."
Hermione helped her friend into a chair while Sirius knelt down and rubbed the witch's foot. "Oh, sweetheart, I would never call you fat. You look gloriously beautiful. Are you sure that's not my kid in there?"
Emmeline rolled her eyes. "Pretty damn since I haven't shagged you since school, prat. You looking for another kid?"
There was a loud yell from the other room and Lavender screamed, "Won-Won! Make those rotten little snakes leave me alone!"
Charlotte and Ariel rushed into the kitchen, green and silver scarfs around their necks. When all the adults looked at them, the girls smiled innocently and Ariel batted her large grey eyes at her father. "There was a bug in her hair," she said. "I was just trying to pull it out. I can't help that her hair got caught in my fist, now can I?"
Hermione pursed her lips while Sirius pinched the bridge of his nose. "Girls, leave Lavender alone. Charlotte, she's your cousin for Merlin's sake."
Charlotte scoffed. "She called Ariel's sister a slag."
"Emma?!" Hermione gasped in shock, horrified more considering that the little Ravenclaw and Harry had been dating since the Yule Ball years earlier.
Ariel laughed. "No, Romilda."
"Oh," Hermione said and then, when Emmeline elbowed her in the ribs, she widened her eyes. "Oh! Yes, that's terrible, awful . . . but . . . no violence," she added.
The girls left and Emmeline sighed, putting her feet up in Sirius's lap. "Rub them until Kingsley gets here," she ordered and Sirius did so, but then sniffed them from time to time and made gagging noises that both witches ignored.
"So did you hear that Minister Bagnold is retiring," Emmeline said with a smile.
Hermione raised a brow. "I did not. Where was it announced?"
"It hasn't been. I know because I have insider information."
James turned around from the kitchen counter, licking mustard from his fingers. "What insider information? You went on leave from the Ministry a month ago. I haven't heard anything."
Emmeline grinned. "Well, it just so happens, I know the person that Minister Bagnold is supporting in the next election," she said smugly.
August 1st, 1997
"It's weird," Remus said, Hermione's hand held gently with his as the two swayed on the dance floor. "She's thirteen years younger than me."
Hermione laughed. "I swear it, Remus. And you were the one who wanted to know."
He peered over Hermione's shoulder at Nymphadora, who was giggling as Charlie Weasley attempted to dance with her, nearly knocking over the wedding cake in the process, which briefly caused Fleur to show more of her veela side than she'd intended, shrieking in fright as the cake wobbled. Fred and George flicked their wands, stabilising it and, when Bill distracted his wife with a kiss, the twins turned the cake bright magenta.
"Hands where I can see them, Lupin," James said as he danced with Mary, moving up beside their spouses. "She's got the world's greatest arse, but only I can touch it."
Mary laughed and both Hermione and Remus rolled their eyes. "Do you think they're going to run off with one another?" Mary asked James, gasping loudly.
James shook his head. "You can never tell with these two. Did you know that she used to write his name all over her school books?"
Hermione scoffed. "As though I'd write in a book," she muttered.
December 24th, 1997
It was Harry's idea.
They'd gone to Godric's Hollow many times over the years to visit his mother's grave and to pay respect. Once they even attended one of the Halloween celebrations, but only to get the press off of their backs, considering they'd started following Harry around Hogsmeade the closer it got to the anniversary of Voldemort's original defeat.
"If they want to celebrate Voldemort's defeat, tell them to go to Little Hangleton," Harry would bitterly say. "Or the back of the Burrow. That's where the last bit of the bastard died."
"Language," Hermione would softly remind him, and both he and James would smile fondly at the fact that she had lost the bite to the reproach years ago.
Godric's Hollow looked different in winter, Harry noted, as they approached the cemetery, Hermione's hand held tightly within his own. He could feel the tension rolling off of her and she was shivering despite the fact that his father had cast a Warming Charm on the lot of them as they Apparated into the small village.
"I don't want her to be afraid anymore," Harry had told James in confidence earlier that year. "I want to go back. I want her to see that nothing's going to happen. But it has to be Christmas. Otherwise, she might always wonder 'what if?'."
They stopped in to see Bathilda Bagshot and the old woman pinched Harry's cheeks and offered him biscuits which Hermione politely declined on his behalf, never having been able to learn to trust the woman, all these years later after finding her withered corpse long ago. Despite logic, Hermione always made a point to stare at the older witch, as if searching for a sign of Nagini. From Bathilda's house, they walked to the old Potter Cottage, still a memorial of what had once been there; what had taken place there.
It didn't frighten or sadden Harry to see it, but he took notice of the way that his father swallowed hard as they stepped inside and approached what used to be the stairs.
He'd heard the story his entire life. Of how Peter Pettigrew betrayed his parents, gave away their secret to Voldemort. About how Voldemort burst through the door and his father stood bravely, wandless even, as his mother took him and ran upstairs. Plenty of books detailed the final moments of the famous Muggle-born hero, Lily Potter, and how she died in sacrifice for her son, taking He-Who-Should-Not-Be-Named down with her.
But Harry knew that the story went on further.
About how another Muggle-born, broken hearted over the death of her best friend, Apparated through time with the last of his Death Magic, and saved his father's life. How she'd made an Unbreakable Vow to his godfather to protect, and spent years learning Fiendfyre, running a bookshop, making eggs, and buying pet snakes, all while falling in love.
"I don't want you to be afraid anymore, Hermione," he said.
She turned and gaped at him, eyes wide. Harry knew that he never called her that anymore, but he was making a point. She'd long since gotten over her fear of flying after his father insisted on nightly romantic broom rides. Facing her fears seemed to be the trick, or at least Harry hoped so.
"I love you, Hermione," he said and frowned when she tensed.
James put a hand on her shoulder and stepped close, kissing the top of her head. After a few deep breaths and a few stray tears, she whispered, "I love you, Harry."
"It's okay, Mum," he promised her, smiling brightly. "Everything is okay."
They waited. And waited.
Nothing happened and an hour or so passed. Hermione looked him over, turning his head this way and that, checking for signs of injuries or failing health. Harry grinned at her. "See? You saved me," he told her.
Hermione reached out and wrapped her arms around him tightly, hugging him close. "You saved me, too."
She released the boy and reached out for James, taking both his and Harry's hands in her own. "Let's go home," she whispered with a smile, feeling the fear evaporate away like early morning fog.
"Happy Christmas, love," James said with a smile.
"Happy Christmas, boys,"
And Harry lived.