A young brunette woman sat slouched in the small blue seat that pressed against the wall of the plane, and twisted her fingers idly in the chain around her neck. One of the thin complimentary blankets was tucked around her shoulders, but as she leaned against the wall it slipped and bunched down around her elbows. A soft click-clacking from her nails against the golden chain irked the weighty man seated beside her and he rubbed his balding head to dispel his frustration.
Farther up the plane a man was stepping sideways through the aisle, on the return from the loo, one hand stuffed into the pocket of his cardigan. He apologized in muted tones to the man on the aisle of his row as he scooted back into his seat in the middle, and anyone else would only have seen the movement of his lips. The reason was revealed when a large snort came down the subdued aisle from the other side of the man with graying brown hair; the old woman next to him was sleeping.
The only other sound in the quiet plane was the sound of rustling papers and magazine pages over the dull roar of the jets and engines. One initiator of said extra sound was a particularly haggard man sitting in the second to last row on the right side of the airplane. The dark khaki trench that hung over the arm of the end seat was most likely his as he had no problems propping his elbow up on it as he read the paper. Though he'd removed his coat for a more comfortable flight, he'd left his hat on. It was a sharp looking hat of charcoal material – one that you would expect someone to be wearing with such a coat – and he'd pulled the brim down low over his eyes. A young mother with a small child in her arms sat beside him, and the little girl, who could have been no more than six seasons old, played gurglingly with his long black hair. That didn't seem to bother him as much as simply being on the plane did, for he made such a calming thing as reading the paper look like it was a triathlon.
That was why his furious page turning was more pinpoint-able than the others reading.
The young brunette woman, who seemed more concerned with her jewelry than the fact that she was thousands of feet above the ground in nothing more than a tin can, braced her palm on the head of her chair and raised up a bit to give the annoying dark-haired man an annoyed look. The large man beside her thought it was rather hypocritical of her, but as long as it kept her from making that aggravating tapping noise he wasn't going to comment.
The man in the back of the plane sunk beneath his paper until only the top of his hat was visible over the black-printed papers. Giving a satisfied 'hmph' the girl dropped back down into her seat with a flop of her bushy curls and a disgruntled grunt from the passenger behind her as her chair bounced backwards.
The plane had just again settled into a quiet rhythm and the stewardesses had struggled the loaded snack cart into the aisle, when one of the black dressed ladies gave an undignified shriek. Heads poked out into the middle of the aisle, and eyes appeared over the headrests of the ugly blue chairs.
A blur of white and denim came streaking by in the shape of someone decidedly female, though the face was nothing more than a smear in the air above the dim-lighted floor. Behind her, there was the sound of breaking glass and a nearly overturned snack cart. Faces turned to follow her as she passed until she burst through the curtain separating coach from first class and disappeared out of sight.
"That's the problem with today's generation," the large man blustered. "Always rushing around like they own the place—"
But the young brunette, who'd been so blithely occupied only a moment before, fell half on top of him in her haste to get out into the alleyway. Coughing and flailing in his seat, the fat man made a big scene, but the young woman was already shoving past the already traumatized stewardesses, one hand clenched around her necklace, and into the bathroom.
Like a cricket stuffed into a matchbox, the young woman collided into the far wall before she could stop herself and banged into her shoulder against the sink with a curse. Frantically she yanked on her chain, pulling a small hourglass from beneath her white jumper.
Then the floor dropped out from underneath her and she was flung up into the ceiling with a crash. The light fixture exploded showering the tiny room with sparks and deadly shrapnel of glass. Suddenly there was screams, loud and frightened from the other side of the flimsy door and the entire plane was shaking violently back and forth. The young woman, bleeding from a long gash in her cheek, desperately fumbled with the bobble on her necklace, but bouncing back and forth in the tiny room like a pinball she was unable to get a proper grip on it.
Something exploded outside the bathroom and light flickered brightly through the cracks. Combating the dangerously swooping plane, the young woman shoved herself down against the floor and wedged her body between the wall and the sink counter. Teeth chattering in her jaw, she scooped the long chain out from where it had pooled down at her stomach and held the hourglass tightly in her hands. Like a rosary she lifted it close to her face and turned it over in her hands, murmuring with her eyes closed. The shattered light above her sparked wildly as the plane took a nose dive, the sheer steepness of its downturn pulling at her stomach. Her head slammed into the door and the force knocked it open.
It froze halfway through unfolding.
Slowly, but picking up speed, the loo door closed and the floor leveled off again. The young woman released the chain she'd clutched so tightly and turned onto her side trying not to retch. As the plane reversed through its earlier quakes and shakings, she was mercifully in another place psychologically as she tried to quell her lurching breakfast. When she finally stood again, the loo around her was blurring into a whirling circle with its tremors and shakes and the light above her reformed itself from the broken shards. The plane rose back up to its original elevation and then everything slowed back down to its original time.
Sighing shakily, the young woman wiped at the sick sweat that had beaded across her face and when she pulled her hand back it was covered with a coppery smear that seeped into the embedded grooves from the links on her chain. Absently, she wiped the red hand on the side of her jeans and ripped a hastily grabbed towel from the dispenser to rub across her cheek.
Doing nothing more to care for herself, the brown-haired woman crept to the door of the loo and inched it open. A bun of blonde hair nearly found its way into her mouth; one of the stewardesses had taken up a position in front of the loo to adjust her trim black dress. She held her breath and shifted to see past the woman and up the aisle of the plane.
The stewardesses moved away.
From back here the rustling of the long-haired man's papers was even more aggravating and apparent. Lips quirking she watched herself appear over one of the seats farther up and mirror her pursed lips. "You're such an idiot, Sirius," she whispered to herself, shaking her head.
When, from behind the paper, the head of the man in question turned sharply back in her direction, she nearly choked on her tongue and ducked back into the loo, all but closing the door completely. Heart hammering in her chest she waited the span of a few nervous breaths before letting open a hairline crack. He was still looking back, paper starting to droop from lack of attention, his dark blue eyes looking black beneath the shadowing brim of his hat.
From the corner of her eye, the young woman saw the three stewardesses chattering and trying to lift the large snack cart into the aisle. Her hand automatically went to her necklace as she willed Sirius to turn back around, fearing she'd have to use it again. The cart was already pushed between the first row of passengers...she was running out of time.
With bated breath she watched Sirius give one last long look across the back of the plane and turn back to his paper. Dropping her necklace beneath her jumper, she kicked open the bathroom door and threw one of the stewardesses clear out of her way. The blonde screamed.
She had to step onto one of the seat's armrests to get past the cart, but she didn't bother apologizing focusing instead on what she was about to encounter.
There was a rule that you had to stay out of sight when time traveling, else risk the mental breakdown of those who'd spotted you; that was before the war. Nowadays, she couldn't count how many times she'd seen herself. She did as well as she could to keep her face out of sight, but there was no where else to look on the cramped plane; she knew there'd be more than a few 'oblivates' needed when this was all over.
When she finally made it to the first class compartment, she looked back to make sure her past self had gotten the message while fumbling out the curtain that had gotten caught in her hair. When she turned around it was to come face to face with a man in black robes that hadn't been there before. He whirled around away from her and ran for the pilots' cockpit. Before Hermione could shout a warning the plane dropped out from underneath her for the second time in the last ten minutes.
Anyone who wasn't buckled in hit the ceiling.
Gritting her teeth, the bushy-haired time traveler picked herself up off the ground and, nursing her already bruised shoulder, followed after the plane's would-be-hijacker wand in hand.
A few minutes later the plane leveled back off and the confused loud conversation coming from behind the first-class curtain died off. The dark-haired man in his hat walked casually back to his seat from the front of the plane, looking far more at ease than he had been since the start of the trip, though he was fussing with his sleeve a bit. He clapped the slight man in his cardigan on the shoulder, who'd come back from his own seat to help the flustered stewardesses put their snack cart back to rights. The two men shared a smile, and the man in the hat, Sirius, sat back down in his seat and looked right away to the baby girl sitting in her mother's arms. Reaching out a broad finger to the child, she clutched her tiny hand around it and with a gurgling giggle shook the digit happily up and down.
When a soft white light rippled down the length of the plane, the two men didn't think much of it; though, the tiny baby blinked dumbly a bit and the red-haired third of the stewardess team froze half-way through lifting a glass back onto the cart before she shook her head and finished picking everything up.
When the light receded, the lull that had come in the chatter of the plane picked back up and the pilot came on over the intercom informing them that the stewardesses would begin "serving drinks momentarily".
Quietly pushing aside the heavy blue curtain, the brunette woman walked back to her seat, passing the kind-voiced man in his gunmetal sweater-vest with a smile so wide appearing on her face that she looked as though she'd just passed a friend. But neither stopped; though, the man had a smile of his own when he returned to his seat.
The rest of the plane ride was as uneventful as the first part – at least the part the passengers remembered – and, to the balding man's relief, the young woman had stopped looking blandly out the window with her click-clacking and had instead turned to quietly reading a book.
When the plane landed half an hour later in Devonshire, the warm-faced man stepped off to the side of the gate and leaned back against one of the columns, stuffing his hands into the deep pockets of his cardigan and provided a sharp contrast for all those around him rushing off with screaming children and frantic businessmen trying to find their next flight or catch a taxi.
A moment later, a bushy head of chocolate curls separated from the pack of jostling passengers stepping off the connecting ramp and the young woman with her strange necklace came walking up to him. She'd cleaned up her face, but there was still a thin, angry red line that stretched from the corner of her eye to the dimple in her smiling cheek. She'd taken off her attractive white jumper to conceal the blood smear on her jeans, though it looked as if she'd just grown too hot and casually tied it around her waist.
Going up on her toes to peck him on the lips the brunette moved to lean on the column beside him, though the cold marble through her thin tank top made her shiver. "Did everything go alright, Remus?" She asked, shifting her jumper off her thigh a bit to survey the damage to her pants.
"All but your little stunt through the aisle," he commented with a smile.
"It's a plane," she informed him pointedly, as if he'd forgotten. "How else was I supposed to get the cockpit?"
Sirius walked up to the pair in his long trench coat, but swept off his hat to give the woman a quick kiss. Grinning at her exasperated sigh, he dropped his hat back onto his head and tugged down the front.
"Oh, yes, of course. Why don't I try and translocate myself onto something moving eleventy billion miles an hour," she replied sarcastically.
"I don't think 'eleventy' is a word, honey," Remus teased in his soft voice and he and Sirius shared a chuckle at her expense.
"Don't even start," she warned with a pointed finger. "I can't believe Voldemort even got someone to attempt it."
"There was supposed to be half a dozen weren't there?" Sirius asked, mostly directing his question to Remus for clarification.
He nodded. "That's what our sources said. I'm guessing the other four got splinched or ended up falling a very long way."
"Four?" the woman asked, tilting her head to the side as she often did when she was thinking. "I only saw the one that was in first class."
"Another accidentally apparated into the loo," Sirius told her, filling in the blanks. "Remus took care of him, while I cleaned up your mess in first class."
The woman scowled at him.
"Did you really have to pull your wand in the middle of all those muggles, Hermione?" Remus shook his head. "You're as bad as Sirius, really."
Over Sirius outbursts of affront, Hermione glowered at Remus. "They'd just seen a man come out of thin air, Remus. And there was no way I was going into that cockpit without a weapon in hand."
Remus merely smiled that secret smile that told Hermione she'd just been goaded into a rant for his amusement. For some sick reason he liked to see her get all flustered. She jabbed him in the stomach with her elbow and looked haughtily off to the side at the satisfying 'oomph!'.
"I hate undercover missions," Sirius griped, and Hermione snorted.
"How can you when you've never been undercover," she told him sharply. "You were so obvious I thought the Death Eaters were never going to show."
"I could hear that annoying newspaper all the way in the front of the plane," Remus told him blithely. He pushed off the column, motioning that they should continue their conversation as they walked.
"And you just had to have the aisle," Hermione shook her bushy head at him and fell into step beside Remus, the disbelieving Sirius tagging along her other side.
"I was perfectly at ease," he insisted, and this time it was Hermione and Remus who laughed.
"Whatever, Black," the brunette chuckled. "It's a wonder you passed Auror training."
Looking utterly ridiculous pouting as an adult, Sirius shuffled glumly alongside them looking like a dejected puppy dog that they liked to kick for fun.
"Damn," Hermione cursed suddenly. "What time is it?"
Remus pulled a small watch out of his pocket and flipped it open to read the magically whirling hands. "Quarter of one, why?"
She pulled the three of them behind a grouping of large potted plants in the corner of some uninhabited gate and checked to make sure no one could see them clearly. "I've got to get back to Hogwarts. If cranky old Severus has to teach my class again he'll feed me to a hippogriff."
"I should get to the Ministry too – let Kingsley know we completed the mission. I'll file our reports through him so our memory modifications won't be questioned," Remus explained, tucking the antique watch away again. "You'll tell Dumbledore?"
"Of course," Hermione agreed automatically. Taking a step back she gave a little wave. "See you guys at home. Chicken dumplings, please Sirius?" Then she disappeared with a scarcely audible CRACK!
"I'll floo Harry and Ron and let them know everything went okay," Sirius told Remus.
"Thanks," The werewolf grinned in relief at one less thing he had to do before the day was over, and kissed Sirius on the cheek. "Make it spaghetti and I won't make fun of your hat," Remus propositioned with a soft grin before he too disapparated.
Looking up at his hat, Sirius' eyes involuntarily crossed at the odd angle and he frowned. Hermione had said it was 'sexy'. Swearing to himself that they'd both be sleeping on the couch for daring to mock his stealth maneuvers, Sirius apparated back to their flat and started a batch of grilled cheese sandwiches – his favorite.