A/N: It's been a very long while since I did anything about this fic, and I'm almost afraid to put this beast of a chapter up now. However, this is what I have at the moment and while I appreciate the fact that people may like it, there are precious few comments that could make me work harder with new updates. I'm sorry. Let me just say that I have the main idea of the whole plot nicely finished in my mind, but not very much time to write it all down. Anyway, I don't know how much people remember of this fic, but actually it might be nicer for you if you don't remember anything at all..
Disclaimer: I don't own anything you recognize.
for Mili, although she will never read it
It must have been just past noon when I woke up. Quite clearly, it was a bright summer day, though truthfully I could not know, because I was lying in bed and there was a big screen in front of the window blocking the view. The room I found myself in was big and light and I was covered up my nose with sheets. I had no idea where I was or how I had ended up there, no more did I have a clue as to where I had come from and, more importantly, who I was. Somewhere far back in my mind I realized that I should have known the place, but I could not remember right then.
My head was remarkably empty, as a matter of fact. I looked around the room and wondered who the woman at the other end of it was. When she turned towards me, I realized for the second time in only a few moments that I should have known her as well, but I did not. It was a frustrating thought, really.
"Where am I? What happened?" I asked when she came to my bed. It seemed the most logical questions to ask, since I did not quite want to admit that I did not know who I was – just yet, at least.
The woman smiled at me, and answered carefully:"You were found unconscious in the students' potions lab." She looked like if she wanted to add something, but she held it back with a worried look. However, when she continued, she sounded glad:"Now that you have woken up, I'm sure the headmaster would like to talk to you."
"The headmaster?" What headmaster? Was this a school then?
"Yes, Professor Albus Dumbledore. I suppose you know him, miss…"
"Albus Dumbledore… yes, I think I've heard his name..." However, I was frustrated. The woman seemed to hide something from me, something important, but I did not know what. "I'm afraid I won't be of much help", I said. "It seems I don't really remember much… anything at all, actually…"
"When the headmaster arrives, I'm sure we'll think of something", was the woman's brisk answer.
The hour I spent waiting for this professor Dumbledore was used to some of the woman's examinations – and it was with a relief I understood that she was a witch, and likewise, it was a relief to know that I was one, too. Perhaps the greatest relief of them all was the fact that I actually knew something for sure – that I was a witch. And in the world of magic, though almost anything can happen, there might just be a way to correct it.
Just when a tall, white bearded man entered the room, the woman was finished with her experiments, and kindly told me there was nothing amiss with me, except for my memory. No doubt the nurse, because I was sure she was one, had discussed my situation with the headmaster before, because when he talked to me, it was clear that he only wanted to help.
"It seems to me, that there was a potions accident. Does that say anything to you?"
I slowly bowed my head. If anything, it seemed logical since I had been found in a potions lab.
"Then maybe something at least could be solved by a potion. Poppy, do you have any memory recalling potion left?"
"I'm sorry, headmaster", the woman said, shaking her head. "I ran out of it when those four marauders happened to put dementia potion in old Slughorn's goblet…"
"Oh yes – quite amusing, really… But that means we'll have to wait. I guess we could ask the boy to brew it, since Horace left for the holydays. It's not that hard to brew and –"
"Do you really trust the boy to brew it correctly? I mean, I know he can, but will he?"
"I would trust him with my life, Poppy."
The headmaster's words were final, and I would remember his tone for years. I would hear him say those words many times, and I would do my best to simply believe him just because I wanted to. I did not yet know who the boy was, but the headmaster left with an assuring smile and a promise to return with the potion as soon as he had found the boy and made him brew it.
That took three days and I still do not know why. That potion they were talking about would not take more than three hours and a half to brew. I recall that I was very happy to remember that little piece of information without the help of a potion.
On the second day, the nurse, who at last had introduced herself as Madame Pomfrey, brought me a notebook and a quill, and asked me to kindly write down anything that I knew or thought that I knew. She had also told me that I was at a place called Hogwarts, and at the moment I was residing in the hospital wing. It was not the most inspiring environment to research one's own mind, but I did my best.
The name Hogwarts did actually sound vaguely familiar to me, as well as the names of the two persons I had met so far – Poppy Pomfrey and Albus Dumbledore. I even jotted down the names Horace and Slughorn – for some reason my mind was set on seeing those names together and that turned out to be just right – and the word marauder.
That word spoke a lot to me, though I could not for my life understand why.
When the third day slowly faded into evening, I had managed to make Pomfrey talk a little. She was not a stupid woman, but I guess she was a bit lonely – this was supposed to be a school, after all, and at the moment it was summer holydays, so I guess there were neither a lot of people left in the building to talk to, nor a lot of work to do. I am not surprised she was happy to talk to me, although she could not quite hide the fact that she was… hiding something from me. However, she told me that Hogwarts was situated in Scotland – and I was surprised and worried, because I could not for my life figure out how I had landed in Scotland as I knew that I lived in Cambridge.
I did not know how I could be so sure that I lived in Cambridge, though.
As the evening had almost turned into night, Dumbledore returned with a little vial in his hand. I immediately knew that it was the memory recalling potion and so proud of being able to point out the evidences of this; the colour, the smell and the thickness of the potion were all just right.
Before I drank it, Dumbledore told me not to be shocked when all the memories came rushing back to me; he had asked the brewer to make the potion strong, and he was afraid he might have exaggerated.
"There is no danger in drinking it, though. It will just be a bit distressing. But first, I would like to ask you what you know already."
I told him all the facts I had written down in the notebook, and after I had had the potion, I went straight to bed. Dumbledore promised me a tiresome morning when I woke up, but first the potion would have to do some work on its own.
I woke up again before dawn; at half past four in the morning. It was a refreshing feeling to know who I was: Hermione Granger, prefect at Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry, muggleborn daughter of two dentists, best friend of Harry Potter and perhaps girlfriend of Ron Weasly, and the best student in my year. I wrote all those things down in the notebook as quickly as I could – for the first time in my life, I did not care what my notes looked like.
So far, so good, but I still did not understand what I did at Hogwarts now, and how Dumbledore could be alive when I knew he was dead. I did not understand how everything could seem so bloody normal when it should have been chaos, and I did not even understand who the boy who had brewed my potion was. How stupid of me, really.
I wrote down stick words for every memory that popped back into my head and just let my thoughts wander freely. I did not dwell on anything special too long; there was too much of it and I supposed there would be time for it later. Most important right now was that I did not lose my memory again. I knew from one of those books I had picked for some light reading – much to Harry and Ron's dismay – that that could sometimes occur when the potions hade been too strong and – indeed – Dumbledore had told me that the boy might have exaggerated.
Ah yes, the boy.
That mysterious boy that I did not know the identity of. Through all the memories that came rushing back to my mind, he kept haunting my thoughts and popped up every now and then when I least expected it.
I found it ridiculously disturbing not being able to figure out who he was. From being a prefect I knew almost everyone in this school by their names, even most of the Slytherins. Ron had never cared to get to know anyone outside the walls of the Gryffindor tower, but I thought being a prefect was too good an opportunity to waste. I did not necessarily befriend people, but knowing people can be so very useful.
I knew there was no boy in Gryffindor that would stay in school over the summer holydays – not in normal times and at least of all now after that had happened – and above all, none that would brew a flawless memory recalling potions – no less be able to alter it to suit the needs. Then for a moment I thought about Hufflepuffs, but a second later I discarded that whole house. There had not been but one of them in my potions NEWT:s class and that was Ernie McMillan. I remembered him going home on the Hogwarts Express with the rest of us – and those who had not been on the train had been taken home before that, like the Patil – twins.
That was evidence as good as anything to prove that something here was terribly wrong. In those wee morning hours of confusion, before the sun had even risen, I did not know what, though.
Then my thoughts returned to the boy. A Ravenclaw, perhaps? That was about as likely as a Hufflepuff, and Slytherins were even more unlikely. The only Slytherin male with the ability to brew this potion was Draco Malfoy, but the thought merely made me snort in a very unladylike way. Now that was a disturbing thought! If Draco Malfoy would have brewed a potion and I had drunk it, I would indeed have had to doubt my sanity.
It was impossible. Still, deep down I knew that the potions had been brewed by a Slytherin. It all went so very well with Dumbledore's fondness of giving people a second chance. I did not know then, that the brewer had not yet even spoiled his first. Thinking of Slytherin potion makers, why did I limit myself to the Malfoy brat? Why did I not think further… back?
After a few hours of feverish writing, thinking, and wondering, I decided to get back to sleep. Madame Pomfrey had not got up yet – it was only dawn and she knew that I would need time on my own when I woke up – and I was exhausted. It surprised me to a great extent that I was able to relax and fall asleep within only a few moments, but I was relieved that I did. Despite all uncertainty, despite knowing that something very basic was wrong, I felt safe.
Then I woke up with the feeling of being watched. I did not open my eyes, but I knew the room was brighter than it had been when I had fallen asleep. I realized that at least three or four hours had passed and it was probably about eleven o'clock. My notebook was still clutched in my hand but I did not find the pencil. I tried to, but gave up, thinking it must have fallen from the bed. Without opening my eyes, I would not find it, and that was something I was deliberately putting off – Merlin knows why. I reckon I just did not want to face whomever it was watching me.
It was inevitable, of course. Within a few minutes, I heard Madame Pomfrey's voice: "Is she really still asleep?"
"No", a male voice said – Malfoy, I thought and panicked for a second but then I realized it was not his voice. I could vaguely recognize it, though; dark, but still young; however I could not quite place it. "No, Madame, she is no longer asleep."
Damn you, I thought to myself, whoever you are. But I opened my eyes and only blinked a little at the bright light. "Good morning, Madame Pomfrey", I smiled at the witch who stood bent over my bed, examining my face.
"Good morning, dear", she said. "Slept well, have we? It's time for breakfast now." With that she stepped away from my bedside to give me a tray with my food, and that was when I saw the boy.
My heart stopped beating and my mouth went dry. Naturally I recognized him, those black, deep eyes, although admittedly, they were not as bitter as I had always seen them – well, almost always, but those few exceptions did not count. And of course I recognized the raven black hair and pale skin and crooked nose. That morning I had been watched by none other than Severus Snape. To make things worse, it was a young Severus Snape, and slowly I began to realize what had happened.
But how? I had quite forgot all about my breakfast, and Madame Pomfrey had to raise her voice to wake me from my first shock. I began to eat, but it tasted nothing and I did everything mechanically. I was thinking, and a glance at the mediwitch only confirmed my suspicions. She looked younger than I had ever seen her, so much younger. And thinking about what I had last seen of Dumbledore, I knew that he too was younger than he should have been. His face was less wrinkled, his walk brisker, his voice steadier – by all means, he was alive.
How come I had not realized it before?
My questions had got their answers. I had been sent back through time – of course, that raised countless other questions, because I recalled nothing of what had happened that could possibly have started something like that – and the boy who had brewed my potion was Severus Snape.
Slytherin, indeed. I snorted again, much to the surprise of said Slytherin and the nurse.
As I had finished breakfast, Madame Pomfrey took the tray away from me, and told me: "I thought you might be interested… This is Severus Snape", head bowed towards the boy – "he's the one who found you a few days ago. He's been very eager to see you."
Snape had looked at me with an interested look on his face – curious and not unfriendly, but at the nurse's words, he turned his head with embarrassment. And I thought the news delivered by the nurse were interesting. What other student would have found me in a students' potions lab if not Severus Snape? For a moment, I let myself imagine he had carried me all the way to the hospital wing – and I had nothing against that idea – but dismissed it immediately. He had probably used a Mobilo Corpus – presumably just as carelessly as Sirius Black had used it on him that night in the shrieking shack in our third year – or would, from this viewpoint.
I realized I was expected to say something, so I smiled, and told myself it was against my will – I did not want to smile at a future murderer! "Then I guess I have to thank you… Severus." To my annoyance it did not feel strange to say that name, not even though I knew what I knew about his future. But then again, this recent incident had not caused me to forget about my doubts and I was, admittedly, perhaps not as angry with him as people would have expected.
However, that was back in the future and did nothing to help me now. I just needed to get back… Talk with Dumbledore! my mind told me, and I was suddenly irritated with Madame Pomfrey's chicken mother behaviour and Snape's mere presence.
"Never mind", he said and I was again reminded of how many thoughts can be fitted into only a few moments. He did not smile, but I did not expect him to.
My hand touched the notebook that I had put beside me in the bed, and I remembered the pencil and looked around. That was when I first received a soft, teasing smile from Severus Snape. "Looking for this?" he said and twirled the pencil in his fingers.
"Yes", I said. "Were did you find it?"
"On the floor", he told me and handed me the pencil. I thanked him, and then I noticed he did not quite know what to say, and neither did I. Madame Pomfrey did, though, and shooed him out after saying something about the headmaster wanting to see me.
Ah yes, the headmaster. I wanted very much to see him, too. I had interesting news to tell him. I only waited for a few minutes before he came, and the first thing he asked me was if I wanted a lemon drop. How very like him! I smiled and thanked him, and then he wanted to know whether the potion had worked.
"Yes, it has", I said.
"So you remember everything now?"
"Most of it, but not all the details. I have no idea how I've ended up here…" I must have looked lost because he asked me to forget about those details. "The problem is, sir…" I cast a glance at Madame Pomfrey, and Dumbledore asked her to leave us. The nurse bowed her head and went out to her office, but I had time to see a glimpse of a sour face.
"What is the problem?" He had an air of security around him, as if there could be no problems.
"What date is it today, sir?"
"5th of July." As I looked at him beggingly he added: "1977".
"That's what I thought then", I sighed. But I could not tell him just yet, because I did not want to admit that it was true. Despite the fact that he had told me the exact date and, more importantly, the year, I still felt that telling him I was from 1997 was like giving up hope. "How long was I unconscious? When did Mr Snape find me?"
"He found you on the 28th of June, that is, a week ago. You were unconscious for quite a while and we were really worried."
"You see, headmaster" – I could no longer deny it – "there must have been an accident with… time…" I paused to see his reaction but he showed none, just nodded his head at me to continue. "This is were I don't remember the details, but years before this happened, I used a timeturner, and perhaps… But as I said, I don't remember." I realized I was babbling and stopped.
"So, what you are trying to tell me, is that you… have been thrown back through time?"
There it was. I nodded my head. "Yes."
"How far? I mean, when do you come from?"
At that he showed a first faint sign of surprise. He was quiet for a while. "Oh. I admit that was a bit more than I would have thought." Then he remained silent for many minutes, I though his face was passive, I knew he was thinking. "I must admit I do not quite know what to do right away", he said at last. "Would you give me a few hours to think this over? We must be very careful with what you tell me, or anyone, while you are here. Since you are accustomed to time turners, I presume you are well aware of the law considering time travelling?"
"Yes, sir. I must not try to alter anything, because that could have disastrous effects – but isn't this bad enough? I mean, I'm already here, and I shouldn't…"
"As long as you don't tell anyone anything about their future – I suppose you are a Hogwarts student in the future? – if you stay here long enough, no doubt you will meet some people you will have met in you own time. I don't think you will do much harm if we can only get you home quickly enough and I'm sure there will be a way to get that done. But you must be patient – I don't think anything happens without a reason, and since you're here – it might look like a mistake to you, but I'm afraid there might be something behind it…"
With that he left me, and I did not even want to think about staying that long in the past that I would meet many more people that I already knew. That would probably mean I'd have to stay until school began – and that was almost two months ahead!
Dumbledore returned to the hospital wing that evening with a sombre look on his face. "It seems to me that there will be some troubles in sending you back before the term starts again", he told me. "The Ministry must be involved, since they supervise everything that has anything to do with time travelling. I suppose you know your history, so you know that we have some problems with a dark wizard lurking out there?"
"Yes", I said, and to myself I thought that I could tell him even more about that dark wizard, but I held my tongue.
"So what I want to say is, that the Ministry is turned completely upside down and your case will be taken into consideration as soon as possible, but I cannot promise you when. Additionally, the unspeakables might have to be informed but since that would inevitably cause a lot of unnecessary paper work I wish to avoid it…"
"Then what shall I do while I wait?" I asked when he said no more.
"Unless you wish to spend a month or two inside this magnificent room" – his eyes glittered in a way I had not seen since perhaps our first year as he motioned with his hand around the hospital wing and cast an amused glance towards Madame Pomfrey's office – "I suppose we could prepare a guest chamber for you somewhere in the castle."
"I would prefer that to the hospital wing", I smiled, although inside I felt drained at the thought of having to stay at Hogwarts. However nice a break in the fight against Lord Voldemort, I wanted to get back home and continue doing just that, fighting the Dark Lord together with Harry and Ron.
"Well, miss… oh, in all this mess I've quite forgotten to ask your name."
"Should I really tell you?"
"It feels very uncomfortable to have a person close to oneself and not know even their name – especially at times like these… I don't think it will hurt much if I know your name."
"I'm Hermione Granger", I said. "Sir, the others – I mean, Madame Pomfrey and whoever else that I might meet – should I tell them who I am?"
"No. I think you should perhaps use a cover name – a foreign one, perhaps. Feel free to chose whatever you wish."
I did not need to think long before I said: "Myriam… Myriam Gaillard…" I had an older friend in France that I used to write to at times – she was a muggle but a very nice woman and it was her name I immediately thought of. My parents and I had visited her a few times during the summer breaks, even before I learnt that I was a witch and went to Hogwarts, and that was how I had learned French. My French was nowhere near perfect but I hoped I could pass for French if I really tried. There were not that many ordinary people in the wizarding world who knew many languages, and besides, I did not plan to socialize that much.
Dumbledore told me to stay in the hospital wing during the night and then I would move into my own chambers the next day. In the meanwhile I would come up with a believable story about what I was doing at Hogwarts in the middle of the summer. He did not say it, but I knew he thought it: if I met Snape again, he would not be easy to fool.
That night I dreamt strange dreams about time turners, Snape, and the Ministry of Magic, but in the morning I remembered nothing of what had happened in the dream beside that I had been running around in the Department of Mysteries.
When I had had my breakfast, Madame Pomfrey gave me back my clothes and I was relieved that I had been wearing normal jeans – not too much 90's, and a knitted pullover that Mrs Weasly had given me (without any letters, though, so it was not a real Weasly shirt) when I… was flung back. They were modest and not really giving anything away. I was more than relieved to see that I had used my Hogwarts uniform shoes and not the sneakers my mother had bought me, and the t-shirt was helplessly muggle, but there was no picture nor any text on it, so nothing was given away that way either.
Once I had dressed, Professor Dumbledore brought me to my room. It was close to McGonagall's office, although I had not mentioned I was a Gryffindor, and the interiors of the room were very… Gryffindor. The walls were white, but the carpets and almost all of the furniture were red and mahogany, and there were golden details all around the room. It was a bit too Gryffindor even for me, but I did not complain. The greatest surprise was a very practical set of clothes for several occasions – not that I would need much, but it was good to have something to wear anyway.
Dumbledore was pleased with the story about my eccentric brother experimenting with a new kind of portkeys, and that was the reason as to why I suddenly had found myself unconscious in a potions lab at Hogwarts. Still, we agreed not to lie just yet; we did not know how I had got there and that was something we would have to figure out before I could get home.
As for my family story I was supposed to be an almost pureblood witch living in the French Alps, but with a few relatives in Britain; therefore my perfect English. He thought my attempt at a French accent very funny, but I promised myself to practice – if I was going to fool Snape, then I was going to do it properly. I found it a bit disturbing that the boy had already heard me speaking perfect, British English, but if that ever became a matter of importance for him, I would simply say it had been one of my better moments.
Just when I had installed myself in my new rooms, there was a knock on the door. As professor Dumbledore opened, McGonagall looked inside. She did not look much younger than I knew her, only less troubled. She was still the strict, stern transfiguration professor and even in the summer holydays she wore the same green tartan robes that she would in the next twenty years.
I smiled carefully at her, but when she spoke, she addressed Dumbledore.
"So this is the girl you've been so secretive about, Albus?"
"Yes", said Dumbledore cheerfully. "And only yesterday she was able to remember everything – well, almost everything. May I introduce – Miss Myriam Gaillard – Professor Minerva McGonagall, our most respected transfigurations professor."
I bowed my head at the Scottish woman, and received something close to a smile as she welcomed me to Hogwarts. "You do speak English, don't you?"
"Oh yes, perhaps not perfectly, but yes, I do", I said, and did not forget to at least try to sound somewhat French.
"Good, good… how long do you think you will have to stay here?"
"I'm sorry, Professor, but I do not know. As I don't remember exactly how I got here… " I ended the sentence as vaguely as I could; there was no need to lie, nor was there any need to tell her everything.
"Well, we appreciate a fresh wind here", McGonagall said. "It's such a pity it's holydays so you won't meet our students. Oh, there's one, but I don't know if he's the best possible company you could find…:"
"So, so, Minerva, don't let house rivalry get the better of you", Dumbledore smiled. "There's nothing very wrong with the boy – Madame Pomfrey told me you already met him?"
"Severus Snape? Yes, I met him. He seemed all right." I thought the situation was rather embarrassing; I did not quite enjoy discussing one of my future teachers with two of my other teachers, and then of course there were a lot of other matters to be considered. Like how the subject of this conversation would kill one of us…
I stopped my thoughts there. That was something I would think more about once I got home, not now. I did not plan to spend a lot of time with Snape, anyway.
However, the infuriating man called Albus Dumbledore had other plans.