Falling Leaves

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How in Circe's name had Remus managed to find himself in this situation?

He had gone to the garden to unwind. Pumpkins were exploding all over the castle, showering any hapless passerby in seedy, clumpy guts. The school term had barely begun, and Mr. Filch was already haunting the corridors–running to and from like a lizard on its hind legs–in an attempt to catch one of the students in the act. It had been Sirius' idea, a warm-up for what was to come.

A twinge of guilt sometimes warred with Remus' actual enjoyment of their more creative plans, more so whenever Professor McGonagall cast disapproving looks in their direction. Their Head of House always knew how to identify which pranks her cubs had pulled, pursed lips and a look over her spectacles conveying her displeasure from afar.

This time, some Gryffindors hadn't taken kindly to it either – Lily, in particular, had her clothes covered in orange goo as the boys were first testing it out earlier, and matters were made worse when James told her it complimented her ginger hair.

As Sirius and Peter dragged a dejected James to the Quidditch pitch, Remus mumbled an excuse and made his way to the West Wing, towards the silent haven he had yet to share with the others, dreading it wouldn't be quite so silent if he did.

A few moments of peace, and then more trouble had barreled its way in. Remus stalked through the garden now, never going beyond the pink chrysanthemums and circling back again whenever he reached the round patches of thyme. Fresh, earthy, and sweet scents grated his senses with each step, hindering somewhat his ability to think. It had been thirty minutes since the witch passed out cold before him. He had made the unknown fellow Gryffindor as comfortable as he could, casting a warming spell on the stone floor to counter the cold and folding his wool scarf underneath her head. As time passed and she remained unconscious, the belief that she needed proper care urged him.

He had glanced at the open doorway time and again, both hoping and worrying that someone would appear. The arrival of a teacher–or even Mr. Filch–would mean she would be taken to the Hospital Wing immediately, thus taking the decision of disregarding her personal wishes from Remus. On the other hand, Amra had, for all her willingness to help, thought he had killed the girl, so who knew what conclusions someone else would reach? Saying that she had fallen in, taking a massive door along for the ride, and spoken just enough to claim to know him and refuse help seemed too surreal an explanation even to himself, who had witnessed it. Nonetheless, no one came. Remus considered calling his friends, but the ensuing ruckus and teasing to which they would subject him afterward far outweighed the prospect of not having to justify himself. That, after all, was the nature of their friendship: the truest, most loyal friends in times of need, and the most exasperating individuals when not.

"Of course you know me," He spoke to the garden at large and pinched the bridge of his nose as self-deprecating mockery bled into his voice, "I'm a Marauder, we're a famous lot."

"You're not," His head snapped back towards the place he had left her, startled at the sound of her voice. From her half-propped up position on the floor, chocolate-brown eyes stared straight at him. Her gaze seemed more focused than before, and the Dittany had done its job – no new blood oozed from the gash on her forehead. The pallor of her skin, however, remained. "Famous, that is. Not when I'm from."

"Well... that's just-" Remus stopped. "Did you just say when?"

A faint smile graced her lips. "Did I?"

Her non-answer mystified him further. Who was she? Or, far more importantly, should he worry about a concussion?

She struggled to lift herself up, and Remus crossed the distance between them and offered her his hand, only to recall she hadn't seemed keen on having him touch her.

It rooted him to the spot. A dull feeling spread from his fingers towards his arms. Obliviousness didn't suit him: Moony was not a nickname to reflect his absent-mindedness. Like pieces of a puzzle, her earlier words fell into place and nausea swirled in his stomach. The girl had been specific, too much so: I know you, Remus J. Lupin. Not I have heard about you, which would likely be the case for someone he had only just met. And, at his attempt to pick her up, she had uttered a clear-ringing Don't. Well, since he was already at it, neither did I'll need something far stronger convey a fear of white, sterile rooms, now, did it? It had been naive of him to assume he could relate to her terror. If her words couldn't be attributed to the befuddlement of someone with a head injury, they could instead indicate a more sobering thought: that she knew him. Which made him the nightmare.

Opposing his lungs' inability to draw enough oxygen, Remus' heart raced to the point he could feel his vein pulsing below his clenched jaw, hear the fast, incessant drumming in his ears, and he racked his brain, trying to remember any neighboring children who could have found out about his curse. His parents had been wary and cautious as far as his earliest memories went, locking him in a dungeon once a month, restricting his interactions so that his presence wouldn't be missed whenever the moon changed, his self-inflicted wounds wouldn't be noticed. Muggles never suspected a thing, but a witch? Or, worse still, an entire magical family. On looks alone, he couldn't place the girl, but it wouldn't be that surprising, would it? Secrets such as his tended to out, and he had managed three years learning the wondrousness of magic and belonging, living under the illusion of normality. Eventually, the farce would be put to an end.

And he would plead and beg and grovel because what was the harm to anyone but himself to let him believe it a little longer?

His wand would be snapped. His registration, demanded. And Professor Dumbledore would be made to expel him.

A cool, small hand closed around his still outstretched one, cutting off his thoughts. Blood jump-started in his veins as if changing directions, and when he focused his gaze through the wetness in his eyes, he noticed that she wasn't even looking back at him. There was no challenge in her features, no unpleasant expression at all. She was staring at their joined hands, brows a bit furrowed as if it were something new. That was when it hit him: whatever she had meant, she didn't know. Couldn't, even. She wouldn't be touching him otherwise, the thought itself was unthinkable. His friends had treated everything as an adventure, and he loved them for their easy acceptance, but women were far more sensible. He let go of her once she was seated and shrunk away. If the girl had felt the tremble of his hand as he had helped her, she kept it to herself. Though he wouldn't have noticed if she had called him out on it, his eyes already closed.

In, one. Two. Three. Four…

Hold, one. Two. Three. Four…

Out, one. Two. Three. Four.

That's it, sweetheart. Now again, his mum's soft tone chimed in his mind, and Remus tried to remember the weight of her arms around him when he was enveloped in her hug.

Nothing had changed: he was safe. His life at Hogwarts was safe.

So why the bleeding hell did his mind have to torture him?

Something was wrong. Hermione didn't quite know what, however–the constant pulsing and throbbing in her head were unhelpful, to say the least, but having someone, who thus far had been friendly and considerate, recoil and turn away from you penetrated even the harshest migraine. Had she upset him? She could barely recall her words to determine one way or another, so she waited.

A beat.


Okay, Hermione, dreadful plan.

His back remained turned, and Hermione surveyed her surroundings, searching for a topic. She didn't know much about flowers. "I guess this place was closed off for a reason."

Closed off? Remus did raise his head at that, though he didn't face her. It wasn't advertised, certainly, but, ever since its creation a few years before, any student could come and go as they pleased. And earlier, if she hadn't meant she was someone from the past, his past… No, he wouldn't do it again. Whatever her real meaning was, he was horrible at interpreting it. "This place isn't. Believe me, I would know."

She was glad, really, that she managed to catch his attention. Except for the fact that attention meant talking, and talking implied thinking, and silence both mental and actual would've been welcome at the moment. "I suppose it will be after this. Sending people back in time makes for a quite reasonable motive."

His posture stiffened. Remus shifted his head to the side, chin lowered. Now that he was searching for it, the clothing she wore underneath his robe–which had him both blushing and wanting to purr like a cat lying in the sun–was rather odd. Not that he was all that familiar with female fashion, but none of his few female friends wore trousers quite so tight. Yet, from what he'd seen, there was no time-turner hanging around her neck. And clothing could be altered, after all, perhaps even be from a different country altogether. A concussion seemed more logical. That, or… A sliver of suspicion crept into his mind. Enlisting the help of an unknown girl was perhaps a step too far, even for Sirius and James. On top of that, sending her tumbling down the stairs certainly wasn't their style, though it could have been an unfortunate accident. No, their pranks tended to target Slytherins, not their own friends, unless an all-out war had been declared. That is, assuming they were involved at all – the Marauders weren't the only ones up to mischief. Curiosity lit him up like a Lumos spell. Perhaps, if it was indeed a prank, he should entertain it. Remus knew more about Time Travel than the average student, had read all about it once he came to Hogwarts. Given the chance, anyone who wished to change the past would have. He could catch her at it, how well-rehearsed could her tale be? "I suppose so. Would you mind enlightening me? When exactly is your time?"

"It was September 5th, 1994 when I woke up this morning."

Ah, yes. Too far into the future for it to be true. And far enough to justify her not knowing enough about his time to prove it. Convenient, yet ill-thought out. "And is there anything you can tell me? About your time or mine?"

"You mean, something to confirm I am, in fact, a time-traveler? I will try to think of something in a moment." Hermione could, in fact, think of several things. Somehow she didn't think the conversation would go well if she started with 'You're a werewolf'... Or even 'Your best friends are Animagi, and when magic itself reveals one as a rat, you should probably wonder why.' So she settled for, "Time-traveling is dangerous. If I were to tell you—"

"You could potentially disrupt your present, I'm aware."

"Of course you are." The same smile from before returned. It made her look lovely and smug all at once. It was, if he was honest, rather endearing. Even though she was lying to him.

"Not a single little thing? Other than knowing me, I mean."

"No. Except…" Oh, so he would know it would happen, but she couldn't see the harm in it. "There is going to be a Triwizard Tournament. That's why I'm here, really."

"A Triwizard Tournament? I thought they had been banned since—"

"1792, yes," She held in a sigh. The distraction worked, though not for the reason she had expected. For Harry or Ron, the danger and excitement of the tournament would have caught their attention. As it had, she presumed. Hermione ought to have known that the history of it would be what did it for Remus. "It's barbaric if you ask me. But there it is."

"And you're here researching a task?"

"No, I'm not of age to join, not that I would care to if I were. It's barbaric, as I said. Eternal glory hardly seems like a good enough excuse to endanger someone's life. That the Ministry sanctioned it at all... Well, I came here because it's likely the only quiet place in the castle. There is twice the amount of students walking the halls, now."

"And you need silence to read Janet Boyman's book. I see. At least some things never change."

"No, they don't," She hissed as she felt a particularly strong twinge of pain. "I'm sorry, my head hurts and the flowery smell isn't helping."

He winced in sympathy, "Perhaps it would be best if we left?"

"Would you mind helping me up? I think my ankle is hurt as well."

He was at her side in a second, "You should have said so earlier."

"Oh, I'll be fine. Madam Pomfrey will fix me in no time, she always does with Harry. But I do need to see Professor Dumbledore first, my lack of time-turner is more than a bit concerning."

Remus frowned – it was unusual for someone pulling a prank to ask for the Headmaster. But she was in pain, and Remus should've known better than to assume the cut was her only injury, so he pushed any irrelevant thoughts aside. He helped her stand and climb up the steps, and, as soon as they crossed the now-doorless threshold, the girl vanished from under his fingertips.

Hermione didn't know whether she had just dreamt–or hallucinated–the whole thing. She had stumbled and caught herself on the wet stone wall–fingers tangling on the vines surrounding it – only later realizing the reason why: her handsome, warm, and rather cozy human crutch had disappeared. Which was only fair, considering her sanity had left her a while ago. She limped around, peering into the garden from the doorway. The fallen door remained on the ground as they'd left it, her book was nowhere to be seen, and she had to wonder if she even had it with her before in the first place.

She cast a Reparo on the door, a Ferula on her foot, and made her way to the castle's entrance, the rain and her injuries likely making even more of a fright out of her appearance than usual. The state of her hair alone...

If she blushed as she limped to the Infirmary, Hermione blamed it entirely on her head wound. She had tried so very hard to squash whatever crush she felt for Professor Lupin after the fiasco with Lockhart. As a matter of fact, she had quite deliberately convinced herself that the warm feeling she got whenever she was at a Defense Against the Dark Arts class the year before was due to excitement for the lesson. He was a talented and competent teacher. And the reason she figured out he was a werewolf had nothing to do with being attuned to his schedule even outside of classes or sneaking glances every meal to see if he was there. It was a genuine concern for a teacher, is all. And if the betrayal when she thought he was colluding with a criminal to kill her best friend stung deeper than it should have, it was because she admired him. Or so she had told herself. Apparently, her efforts were for naught if her subconscious had taken to conjure a more attainable version of the wizard.

It didn't change the fact, however, that the robe she wore was a good two sizes larger. But she wouldn't notice it until later when her head no longer hurt and she was ensconced in the girl's dorm room. She let out a gasp, choked, incredulous laughter escaping her chest. She had traveled back in time–years! not hours–with magic she couldn't begin to understand and met a younger version of her former professor.

After that, and amidst Harry and Ron's idiotic behavior, Hermione found herself returning, nearly every day, to check the garden. Remus Lupin was never there.

Throughout that year, Hermione did not hear a word from her former professor. She had searched for any information on spontaneous time travel to no avail. Harry's letters to Snuffles continued, and she felt a herd of Cornish Pixies in her stomach whenever Harry mentioned their correspondence, waiting for some hint of Professor Lupin, but the feeling dwindled as they focused on the more pressing matters of Harry's champion tasks and the slanderous publications of Skeeter regarding Hermione.

A/N: Hey everyone, I come bearing another chapter :)

I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful support you guys showed to the first chapter, it made me even more excited to work on this story! Also, remember when I said this would be about four chapters-long, tops? Well, I'm a lying liar who lies – it'll be more around ten, so please stick with me. I have some parts already written, but my muse showed up and said, "Huh, why don't you do this instead?" and it upended most of my earlier plans (but it does make things more interesting, so I'm not really upset).

I hope you enjoy, and let me know what you think!

To: KoverKat08: thank you, I hope it doesn't disappoint :)

Lots of love to… jocillyria, badadder1, Zorak23, caprubia, and KoverKat08 for the reviews. To taylorjaninedick, nshaikh281, nityasweet249, badadder1, SereniteRose, Lili1994, CarolineGoldilocks, and BellaAmorEterno for adding the story to their favorites. And to BellaAmorEterno, CarolineGoldilocks, Chantal9, JennC30, KittyKatlovesbooks41810, Lili1994, Sabrequeen1822, SereniteRose, badadder1, beckyboo88, beclem19, bunnyobelenus, candygood1, caprubia, jocillyria, krislea15, nityasweet249, nshaikh281, sashaann88, .dick, and traceytree for following the story.

You rock! :)