Author's Note: I haven't read book six yet because of so many factors but I think it'll have not much bearing in this story since Hermione's gone before sixth year really was at its height. But if it does have a bearing, well, I suppose this means this is a bit AU-ish now. Anyway, moving on. Lots of thanks to Rane2920072, BlackPaintedWhite (the exams were horrible! I can't even remember how aspirin can cause Reye's Syndrome! And I mixed up the antihypertensives with each other!), Blossom1098, SilentConfession (hm, we'll just wait and see if you hit jackpot. Lol. Wouldn't want to spoil the fun this early.), and Wind-Guardian.
Disclaimer: JKR owns the characters and I am not making money out of this.
Summary: When they discovered a supposed murder in Hogwarts some twenty years ago while searching for a link to Sirius, Hermione, plagued by weird dreams, never expected to end up in the past, dealing with many things like prejudice and love. (SiriusHermione)
CHAPTER 5: The Light of Awareness
Twelfth of August 1995
Hermione tapped her fingers impatiently on top of the table in the kitchen. When is that the hearing going to end? She had had enough of the cleaning and had wanted to be alone to think of Harry. "I wonder how Harry is," she asked to no one in particular.
"He'll be alright."
She looked across from her at Sirius who was looking rather distant again. She observed him for a while and came into the conclusion that he may be tired. Lupin had left a while back after he merely stayed for some thoughtful staring at both her and Sirius.
"Do you want something?" She asked, standing up to get a drink for him.
He shook his head. "No. Just sit down."
She sighed and sat down, looking at the table and again wondering about Harry. They were in a peaceful silence for a while and she did not really mind.
"Yes?" She asked, wondering at the thoughtful look on his face.
"Hermione," he said again. "I've always liked the sound of it."
She wasn't sure what he was on to but she just nodded. "I like it too."
"Why?" He looked at her in an evaluating manner that she found rather odd.
"Because my parents gave it to me."
He nodded. "Just that?"
"Do I need more reason to like what my parents gave me?"
"No, I suppose not." He grinned slightly. "Do you want to dance?"
Hermione looked at him bemusedly.
He seemed wistful somehow. "There used to be many balls I had to attend as a Black. I guess that's what purebloods do best, socialize and think of themselves."
"Not all," she said. "I don't think that's what you do best. Nor do I think that's what Harry's father did best. Besides, even the Weasleys–"
"Let's dance," he said then, standing up and walking around the table and extending a hand at her.
She cringed slightly. "I don't dance."
He shook his head. "Sure you do."
"I meant I can't dance."
He grinned. "Let me be the judge of that." And he pulled her to her feet and whisked her around the kitchen in long sweeping steps.
There had been no way for her to determine where she would end up; the Time Turner seemed to have malfunctioned somehow. Perhaps it was damaged all along before Dumbledore gave it to her; he couldn't have known as it was in the box.
After so much spinning of events around her – they were too fast for her to really see – she found herself appearing in the middle of the air, some ten feet high, and falling down so quickly that she wasn't able to brace herself for the impact of the fall.
A loud thud was heard as she hit the ground and she barely had time to reorient herself with her surroundings as something swooped down at her and hit her rather brutally. She felt the cut on her shoulder and she looked up to realize that the Whomping Willow was attacking her.
As fast as she could, she reached for her pocket and realized that she was wearing the hospital issued clothing. Her wand was nowhere. She immediately started to scramble away but had unfortunately not managed to dodge an attack that struck her perfectly on her back as she turned away. She stumbled on the ground but her instincts to survive made her try to crawl away in her roughed up state and ignore every painful cut that was added to her battered body.
But then, she heard someone stunning the rampaging tree. In relief and exhaustion, she allowed her body to collapse on the ground. Hurried footsteps approached her but she paid no heed to the sound. It was so tempting to sleep even just for a few minutes. However, just as her eyes were closing, she felt herself being yanked up harshly. She groaned involuntarily at the pain and closed her eyes tightly, trying to ignore everything.
A few minutes later and she noticed that she was, in actuality, pressed to something warm and hard and that she was being moved at a fast pace. Cracking her eyes open, she peered up and saw that someone was carrying her, his jaw clenched. She moved in his arms and tried to get a better view of him but he held her tighter and ran even faster. No doubt he thought that she was dying.
Her head began to pound and her surroundings started to spin. She clutched at the fabric covering his chest and felt him slow down before finally stopping. Peering up again, she finally saw his face as he was now looking down at her.
The last thing she remembered in the midst of her splitting headache and dizziness was that he looked too familiar for comfort; he had grey eyes.
The sun was shining brightly and there were plenty of people outside, enjoying the warmth. She sighed and walked towards the Great Hall, wanting to get herself something to eat; people were always telling her that she was too thin.
She walked slowly, her shoes in one hand and her other hand grazing the rough stone wall. A small smile was playing on her lips; she rarely was this happy. But today, it just felt nice to wake up and not see anyone sneering at her.
"My, my," a female voice said. "Aren't we a bit too primitive to walk around without shoes?"
She sighed and was about to stop when she felt an arm go around her shoulder, urging her to continue walking. She was surprised as she looked up and found one of the last persons she expected. "I–"
"Shut up and continue walking," he hissed, urging her to go even faster with his hurried steps.
There was laughter from behind them; its sound was disturbing that the hair on her arms stood.
"Playing hero, aren't we? Always the Gryffindor. How wretched."
The arm around her tightened and she looked up to see his jaw tighten. He was on the verge of losing his temper and she was sure he'd hex someone; she'd get him in trouble.
"Lost your tongue?"
He didn't say anything but she could sense the growing tension in his body by the way his jaws clenched and by the way he was holding her tighter.
"Go; she only wants to talk to me," she said softly, looking at him.
His eyes were still fixed ahead and his hold did not loosen.
"Just shut up and walk," he snapped in a voice only audible enough for the two of them.
"She's still asleep."
"I see. Perhaps I had misjudged her waking once more."
"No. I think she's just too tired. Apart from her injuries, she had shown great signs of stress."
She could hear familiar voices and she realized with a start that it was Dumbledore's and Madam Pomfrey's. Hastily, she opened her eyes and saw to her irritation that she was in the Hospital Wing once more. Her heart began to thump at a faster rate. Did she get the right time? Did it work?
"I see she has awakened," Dumbledore said, peering at her through his half-moon glasses.
Madam Pomfrey rushed towards her and began to check on her. Hermione stared at Dumbledore and wondered if her eyes were working properly. He looked younger to her.
He smiled at her, looking please at the acknowledgement. "Welcome back to Hogwarts."
Her eyes widened at the implication. She failed, hadn't she? She was still at her own time and had only somewhat Apparated within the Whomping Willow's reach.
"Do you want to tell us about what happened?" Madam Pomfrey asked.
She closed her eyes to prevent herself from crying in her desperation at her failure. Of all the things to fail, it just had to be something that would matter most – saving many people's lives.
"Perhaps I should return when you are well enough…"
She didn't bother to listen to whatever Dumbledore was saying; she was just eager to be alone.
"She's back," he muttered, his eyes fixed grimly ahead as they strode towards the Great Hall.
James Potter, a boy with messy raven hair, was in the middle of drinking the butterbeer they had sneaked in from their latest sneaking conquest to Hogsmeade when he heard what his best friend said. His reaction was to cough fitfully. "What?"
"She's back," Sirius Black repeated.
James stopped walking and pulled his best friend to a stop. "Hold it. Have you been having another one of your insane guilt trips? Did the latest girl you dated somewhat mentioned something about–"
"I'm telling you," Sirius said with irritation. "She's back."
"Okay," James said slowly as if talking to a child on the verge of a temper tantrum. "I think I saw one Ravenclaw eyeing you–"
Sirius looked annoyed as he pulled James towards the Hospital Wing. "Two weeks ago, do you remember it?"
"Of course I do! You stood Remus, Peter, and I up."
"I saw the Whomping Willow attacking someone and I brought her to the Hospital Wing. And I'm telling you–"
"Padfoot," James said in a resigned voice. "I think you promised a girl a snogging session–"
"I shall see her tomorrow perhaps?"
They both stopped and looked on ahead as Madam Pomfrey gave Dumbledore a nod before going back inside the infirmary. The Headmaster smiled and turned away, walking towards their direction.
"Ah, Mr. Potter, Mr. Black," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling knowingly at the two boys.
"We were just taking a stroll," James said, pulling his arm free from his best friend's hold.
"Of course," said Dumbledore but he smiled wider. "Thank you for bringing her here, Mr. Black." And he walked away, his eyes still twinkling as if he knew what was going on in their minds.
James pulled out his wand and aimed it at the butterbeer container he had been carrying around behind his back while being pulled along, intending on transfiguring it to dust. "What is really going on, Padfoot?
His tone was casual but Sirius knew that James was probably cooking something up in his mind.
"It's like I told you," Sirius answered dully. "Getting denser by the day, aren't you mate? Evans sure does great hypnotism."
James scowled. "Well, if I didn't know any better–"
He was cut off as Sirius pulled him away from the Hospital Wing and towards the Gryffindor Tower. "We'll sneak in later tonight."
"Don't do that!"
Hermione stirred in her sleep. Honestly, if Harry snuck our of the dormitories again and brought Ron along too just to make this much noise, I will personally push them off the stairs, she ranted, still half-asleep yet drifting closer to consciousness.
When she opened her eyes, it was dark and for a moment, she thought that she was still dreaming. Until she remembered that she was in the Hospital Wing, having failed her attempt to go to their fourth year.
"Harry," she began to scold, although her voice was so choked up that she barely could understand it. "Potter," she finished in a far better audible voice.
Everything became quiet and she frowned. But then, Madam Pomfrey's voice came drifting out of her office and she thought she saw a mass of raven hair following someone out of the Hospital Wing.
Remus' eyes widened slightly and he put his book aside. He looked suspicious. "Are you certain?"
"We saw her," James said. "And she called me Potter. Seems strange though. Potter?"
Peter looked confused, his chubby face scrunched up slightly. "Doesn't she call everyone with a Mister or a Miss?"
"She does," said Remus, looking as if he was thinking about something. "She does."
Sirius ran a hand through his now messy hair and collapsed on his bed. "We come to school two weeks earlier than everybody to have fun and just a week into it, she just had to lose her sanity and walk up to the Whomping Willow. And since a week since school started up is almost over, I'm sure by next week everyone would know that she's here. Just great. She comes back strange and it's entirely my fault."
James laughed. "Look on the bright side, Padfoot. Maybe the Whomping Willow hit her hard enough to change her. You can't actually think that she'd change because of some words from other people."
Peter followed James in laughing but Remus merely shook his head, now looking thoughtful as ever.
She had been stuck there for days, Dumbledore never even coming back. She was thankful for that to some extent, after all, she did not want to be expelled soon. But her best friends were not even visiting her that she was absolutely about to lose her sanity.
Did the staff know of Harry and Ron's sneaking about, too?
One way to find out, she thought as she swung her legs to the side and carefully got out of bed.
As quietly as she could, she walked out of the Hospital Wing and headed for the Gryffindor Tower. It was still in the middle of the morning and she did not doubt that the students were in their respective classrooms. Somehow, after all that has happened, she did not feel excited about classes. Was that because she subconsciously accepted that she would be expelled? She could not be certain, but as she walked resolutely towards her destination, all she could think about was Harry and Ron.
Sirius ran as fast as he could. He was sure as the sun rose every morning that McGonagall would give them detentions for running late… again. And it was only the start of the second week of school. "James, hurry up would you?"
James grinned and ran after his best friend. "Ready to quit detentions?"
He grinned back, looking at James while running. "Not really. I just had this whole week booked on something rather important."
The other boy pretended to think. "Hm, like snogging different girls for instance?"
Sirius never got the chance to answer because when he turned around the corner, he collided with someone.
Hermione just rounded the corner when someone knocked her off her feet and sent her sprawling on the floor some few feet away. The wind got knocked out of her lungs and she closed her eyes as pain assaulted her skull.
Someone is definitely wishing for my early death.
"Are you alright?"
She was pulled to her feet and she looked up to see a familiar mass of messy raven hair. "Harry!" And she hugged him before any second passed. She was just too relieved to see a familiar face that she knew she could trust. "I was just heading to the Gryffindor Tower."
"Is there something you're not telling me?" Another voice asked with irritation.
She pulled away and saw that a boy with black hair and grey eyes were dusting himself while approaching them. He looked familiar…
Harry extricated himself from her and stepped away that she felt a surge of irritation. Was he ashamed of her because she was a soon-to-be-expelled student?
She looked at him and glared. "Harry! Who is this? Where is Ron? And what are you doing out of classes?"
Harry looked at her with confusion and held up his hands. "I know you're injured but what are you talking about? … And just to remind you, I'm not Harry, whoever that is."
"Of course you are," she insisted, glaring at him for a while until she realized that this Harry did not have green eyes. In fact, he had hazel-colored ones… Oh my–"I have to talk to Professor Dumbledore," she said in a desperate voice and she began to walk away, holding her aching head with one hand while grimacing at the mess she did not want to think about. Her skull was burning from the physical damage of the fall and was also being plagued by what this mess could mean.
"Wait a minute," Harry – no, Harry's look-alike – called at her, jogging after her and pulling on her arm. "What–"
They froze and looked ahead to see a scowling Minerva McGonagall glaring at them.
"Professor," Hermione said with relief that soon turned to horror when she realized that McGonagall looked younger. "Oh Merlin," she uttered in horror. And she did the most undignified way of running away from the mess – she fainted.
"Very convenient, huh? This just had to be the nearest place to bring her in."
"She was heading here, James. Would you care to tell me why?" Suspicion was imminent in his voice. "Well? Are you two…?"
Hermione gritted her teeth angrily. Her head was throbbing and some people were just too dense to her plight that they just had to argue near her.
"Of course not!"
"So why did she practically jump on you?"
"Hey, are you jealous that I'm better-looking than you?"
"Hardly. I dated more girls."
She opened her eyes and glared. "Oh honestly I don't care if you dated boys!" She said loudly that the two arguing boys looked at her. "Could you both just please go away!"
The boy she was looking directly into frowned and crossed his arms in a familiar way that her eyes widened. She knew those features, had seen them in their diminished state. This was Sirius Black in his teenage years! She looked at the boy's companion – Harry's look-alike who'd she'd recognized earlier enough to make her panic and faint in front of McGonagall thereafter.
"Oh please, please, please," she groaned and covered her eyes with her hands in a frustrated manner. "This is just a dream! I am definitely not here!"
"I think she just officially lost it."
She pulled her hands away and glared at Harry – no, James. And again the weight of the situation dawned on her. Scrambling up and nearly falling off the couch in the process, she shoved past them and headed for the portrait hole.
"Where are you going?"
She ignored Sirius and walked out of the common room; she had to talk to Dumbledore before she changed something here and manage to distort her future beyond recognition.