Disclaimer: I do not own any of Ms. Rowling's wonderful creations. Nor do I own any of the various songs that may be presented throughout the length of this fanfiction. The various songs will be named at the end of the fic, as well as in the chapter within which they lie.
Alright, kiddies, you can stop biting your fingernails down to the bone waiting for this! To those of you who reviewed, praising me and such, I must say this: Thank you. Those of you who write your own stories know exactly how much each good review means to an author. I am no exception. If I seem snappy, I apologize. It is my nature, and I cannot change it. And now, without further adieu, I give you Spinning Bottles, the next installment in Hermione's life.
"Learn from the Past
Live in the Present
Look to the Future" Maya Gurgeon
I have traveled both far and wide in my short musical career with Snake's Halo. Those were some of the happiest times of my life, though they were set in the middle of a war. I can recall the smile on Lucius' face and the twinkle in his eye as he set eyes on his beloved Narcissa...and I can recall my own happiness to meet the mischievous chocolate stare of my own beloved. The very thought of him makes my blood rush even now...now that I know that he has died.
Or has he?
I can no longer seem to separate dream from reality as it pertains to the life that I lived a month ago...though to me the time-span was actually that of four years. I always knew that I could not remain where I was. To be honest, I thought myself dead. Now that I know I'm not dead, I do not know how to proceed. Albus has given me a job for as long as I may need it, to reorient myself. For obvious reasons, I cannot simply finish school as I should. I have already been through my Seventh Year at Hogwarts, and to be quite frank, I've no great desire to relive it.
I would see Lily's glittering green eyes in Ginny's brown ones...James' laughter on Harry's face. Draco? How would I survive with the son, knowing that I once knew the father's deepest secrets? Knowing that Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy were not only acquaintances of mine...but my Godsons as well? Perhaps, if this was all, I would be able to survive. But to attend Professor Severus Snape's potions class...when I tutored him in potions? When I was the one to give him his ever-so-famous first-year induction speech? And Remus...oh Remus! How he must hate me, now! Knowing that I could have prevented the entire thing long before it happened! Knowing that, even if I hadn't told a soul, I could have murdered Pudge in his sleep?
The anguish tears at my heart, just thinking of it.
...And then there is Bellatrix. Bellatrix Lestrange. The woman who killed my Heart. Albus tells me that the wretched woman bragged openly about defeating me. I daresay that the ink has yet to dry on this entry in this particular journal entry- inside of the journal which I purchased, incidentally, only yesterday- and I still live. Take that, Bellatrix.
Sirius...oh, Sirius. My love. Would that the dream I had the day before my accident were truth. That you lived, despite it all! Albus has "borrowed" the memory of your death from Harry. I have viewed it in its entirity...I wish that I had been there to guard your back that day, my beloved. Mark my words, Sirius Nazerus Black. Lestrange will rue the day that she lifted wand against the beloved of Maya Gurgeon. This I swear, on my wand, on my magic, on my honor as a witch.
Harry, Ron, and Ginny sat down at the Gryffindor Table to the din of students calling welcomes. They had skipped the Welcoming Feast the night before to finish Hermione's story, and now they were met with calls of merriment all around. Harry sat by Neville, Ron, and across from Seamus and Dean.
"Hey. Who's the new Defense teacher?" Harry asked Neville.
"We don't know." Neville shrugged.
"Dumbledore didn't introduce the new Defence teacher." Seamus said, shrugging. The hall fell silent as Dumbledore stood up.
"Students...I would like to introduce you to your new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor." He motioned with one age-withered hand and a middle-aged professor whose face- though wrinkled- was very familiar. "Professor Grant." There was a smattering of applause as the woman stood quietly, giving a reserved smile and nodding in acknowledgement. Sitting down, she turned back to her dinner.
"What do we have first?" Harry asked. "We don't have Hermione here to remind us, remember..."
"Right." Ron said quietly.
"Where is Hermione, anyway?" Dean asked. Harry and Ron looked at each other sadly for a long time before turning back to their dormmates. "Nevermind..." Dean said quietly, seeing the other two's expressions.
"It's better not to know." Ron said, quietly. "It's a long, sad story."
"Alright, Mate..." Seamus said, quietly.
"So. What do we have first?" Harry asked Ron again. Ron pulled out his timetable and studied it.
"Great! We'll see if Professor Grant is any good." Harry grinned.
"Right." Ron grinned, beginning to eat.
As they walked into the Defense Classroom, they stopped short. "Do we have the right class?" Harry asked.
"I don't know...it almost looks like...History...to me." Ron said. Inside of the classroom, there were paintings of famous wizards surrounding the room- starting with Merlin Himself- and ending with a picture of Tom Riddle. Glancing at their time-tables again, they shrugged and sat down quietly as the Slytherins began trickling in.
Draco walked in with Blaise and their friend Pansy Parkinson. Glancing around, Draco looked at the Gryffindors and moved over to them. "Potter. Weasley." He nodded cordially before glancing around again. "Professor Binns finally retire or something?"
"If only." Harry said. "How's it going, Malfoy?" There was a bit of an uneasy, unspoken truce between the boys since they'd found out that they shared a Godmother.
"It's going." Malfoy said, glancing around at the looks that they were getting. "My godfather's been unnaturally...nice...lately." He warned. "That usually means that he's out for blood."
"Thanks for the warning." Harry's voice was low. "I'll keep it in mind."
"Good." Malfoy said. "See you Harry. Weasley." He nodded to Ron, who nodded in return, and moved off with Pansy and Blaise. As soon as the last student was sitting, their teacher swooped in. Her robes were a dark blue, emphasizing what must have once been beautiful brown hair. Now, however, it was a pale tan, if that, from the grayness that had seeped into it. She looked out across the room and seemed to be imagining something, for she smiled faintly as she continued down the stairs to her desk.
"Right, then." She said, softly. Her voice had that same quality that the Professors McGonagall and Snape had...the ability to silence entire crowds simply by speaking. "Let us first take roll. I do not know all of you, as your other teachers might, so bear with me." She lifted a sheet of parchment from her desk. "Please raise your hand as I call out your name. Lavender Brown." Lavender raised her hand silently in the back of the room.
"Hermione Granger." Silence engulfed the room. Harry and Ron had gone white as sheets, as had Draco- though that was his normal pallor. "No Hermione? Okay." The professor made a flourishing checkmark on the paper and moved on down the list.
Once the role was finished, the teacher tapped it with her wand and it disappeared in a puff of glittering smoke. She then sat on her desk. "What all did you learn last year?" When nobody spoke up, she nodded silently before standing up. "I suppose I'll just have to test you, then. Wands out, class...and stand up so that I can clear some space." When nobody moved, she sighed and drew her own wand, making a quick gesture. The tables and chairs disappeared in a similar puff of glittering smoke, leaving the class to land rather painfully on the stone floor.
"I want you all to show me what you remember from your previous years in a miniature duel. I will be moving among you, studying the way you do things. Once I've determined where your learning has been left off, we will spend the remainder of this week doing a quick review of previous years, and next week, we will begin moving on to some new material. Any questions?" When nobody moved, she nodded. "Right, then. Begin."
That night, Harry and Ron looked around their common room before sitting down to miserably begin their homework. They would normally never be caught dead doing homework on the same day that it was given, but as Harry had pointed out to Ron during dinner, they no longer had Hermione to bail them out if they got behind. Thus, they missed the fact that their new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor was calmly knocking on the door to Professor Dumbledore's office.
"Enter." Came the soft call from behind the door, and the woman stepped into the room, closing the door behind her. "Ah, Maya. How was your first day of classes?"
"Albus. I don't see why I have to remain in hiding." The woman complained, reaching up and pulling her wig and mask off, looking at him unhappily.
"My dear, we agreed that it would be prudent for you to remain unknown until we were certain that Voldemort had no knowledge of your little...journey." He was, of course, speaking of the trip into the past that the witch had taken- quite unexpectedly- not a month before. By her reckoning, however, the trip had lasted for very nearly four years...ending just before her younger Godson's first birthday. Upon her return to her own time, the young woman had been unable to resume normal studies with her classmates for obvious reasons. After all, it was hardly a normal occurance when a seventeen year old disappeared in August, just to reapper in September at the age of twenty-one.
"But the fact that I can't even tell Severus or Lucius!" She protested, speaking of her two surviving oldest friends. "Or Harry and Ron! For God's sake, Albus!"
"Someone's coming." The headmaster warned. Brown eyes widened as she lifted the mask over her carefully pinned up hair, settling the wig and the mask into place moments before Severus Snape burst in. "Ah, Severus." Albus said, smiling. "What can I do for you?"
"I have several students in detention, Albus." The potions professor snapped, his black eyes narrowed. They were just as she remembered...only older, crueller. She was truly back.
"Indeed. The little wretches thought that it would be amusing to explode four cauldrons simultaneously." Dumbledore's smile fell from his face, the twinkle in his eye winking out. He felt the witch beside him shift, and he fought to keep from smiling in amusement at the dark look that slid across her brow before she regained control. She was, indeed, the young witch who had turned Hogwarts into a battleground in her seventh year when she'd realized who had killed the man that she loved.
"I see. I am sure that you are more than capable of taking care of this, Severus...why are you coming to me?"
"A few of the students, I could easily handle, Albus. However, there are ten of them in the detention."
"Ten?" Albus asked, keeping his voice mild...the surprise in it barely noticeable.
"Yes, Albus. Ten." Severus sneered. "The four whose potions exploded and the six who sabotaged them."
"I see." Albus settled back in his chair and looked at the witch still standing silently to the side. As if his gaze was a magnet, Severus found himself following the Headmaster's look to the mysterious Defense Professor, who had her arms crossed and an expression of strict neutrality on her face. She almost looked like...but no. Severus forced himself to stop considering it. She had died. He was only jumpy because of Hermione Granger's disappearance, the month before.
"I will be glad to take a few of the students off of Professor Snape's hands." The voice was familiar as well...but no, it was too high to have been Maya's.
"Excellent, Helen." Albus smiled like a delighted child and clapped. "It's settled then. When do the students have detention, Severus?"
"Every Monday through Friday for the next two weeks. Will this be a problem?" Severus had noted Helen's slight shift of weight.
"Of course not." The soft inflections were filled with amusement this time. "I shall tell the House Elves to prepare a room in accord to their detention. If you'll excuse me...Albus, Professor Snape." She nodded to each of them.
"Severus." The Head of Slytherin found himself correcting her, automatically. She stopped, her brown eyes sweeping along him in an appraising look.
"Severus." She replied, sweeping out the doorway. Once it had closed behind her, Albus turned to the man standing before his desk.
"Has there been any word on Bellatrix Lestrange's activities?" Albus asked. "Has she indicated any knowledge of Hermione's disappearance?"
"None." Severus said, rubbing his temples...the only sign of his agitation. "Albus...are you certain Maya will return? It's been sixteen years, for Heaven's sake!"
"Nothing is certain, Severus." Albus said, quietly. "However, the letter that she sent both myself and Sirius left no indication whatsoever that she would not see us again. I find it hard to believe that a duellist as accomplished as Maya Gurgeon could be bested by the likes of Bellatrix Lestrange."
"Nothing is certain in a duel, Albus...you know that." Severus was openly pacing by now. "Bella could have gotten off a lucky Avada..."
"Nothing accounts for the fact that no trace of Maya's body was ever recovered, Severus." Albus interrupted. "Not even a muggle forensics expert was able to find anything." This stole the younger wizard's agitation.
"What? You brought in Muggles?"
"Yes. When the Ministry could find no trace, they consulted me and I felt it might be wise to employ...unusual...means to find out what had happened to the Order's strongest member. Keep in mind...when Secret-Keepers die, those that they are protecting are no longer protected." Albus said. "Lucius tells me that the Hidden Manor is still, in fact, hidden."
"What?" Severus asked, looking up. "I wondered where he disappeared from time to time...and how he kept Narcissa safe, of course...but the Hidden Manor is still protected by a secret-keeper?" At Albus' nod, Severus sat down heavily. "That means that Maya...that she's..."
"Still alive. Do you see, now, why it is important that Bellatrix not catch word of Hermione's disappearance?" At Severus' nod, Albus sighed and motioned for the man to go. The potion's master walked quickly for the door, assuming his normal sneer and stride. As he stepped off of the last of the gargoyle's round steps and turned towards the dungeons, he thought he saw a flash of purple robe. Shrugging it off, the man silently continued down to his hole...the one that he'd thrown himself into shortly after Maya's disappearance.
My Dearest Sirius,
Do not fret. I know how you are, don't you dare glare at me. Inside is my ring. I do not believe it would be prudent for me to wear it at the moment. However, if you still wish to marry me, ask me again when next you see me. I guarantee my answer will be a shouted, resounding "YES!" There...see? I knew I could get you to smile. Oh Siri. I never got to tell you everything about me. I do not know if I will ever have the chance, now.
Sirius' eyes read the slightly faded first paragraph of the simultaneously most loving and most hurtful letter that he'd ever recieved in his life. The beloved, elegant scrawl that composed it was imprinted in his mind. Every letter, every dot on every "I" and every cross on every "T" had been branded into his memory. Even in Azkaban, he'd read it- recited it, really, from memory- every year on the anniversary of his beloved Maya's disappearance. And sometimes, when he just felt like it.
It's been a fun run, I'll give it that. I wouldn't trade these past four years for the world, Siri. Padfoot. Snuffles. You're everything I've ever dreamed of...everything I never knew existed until we met. But I have to say goodbye for a while, my dearest. I swear to you, we will meet again...though you may not know it is me. Listen to your heart, Sirius. That bitch cousin of yours is probably even now gloating about my death to her bed-buddy, Voldemort. Don't believe it. Unless there is actual evidence of my death, I wouldn't believe me dead if I were you. I've seen Lestrange in a duel, remember? I know her style. She'd be painfully easy to defeat, under normal circumstances.
Sirius didn't look up as a shadowy figure walked to the open door of the room within which he was sitting. "Lucius." He stated, quietly. "You've done a wonderful job of restoring everything..."
"I didn't think Maya would enjoy returning to a house touched in any way by Bellatrix." Lucius said, sitting on the bed beside Sirius. "Is that the letter that she gave you?"
"Yes..." Sirius said, quietly.
"Do you want company?" Lucius asked, hesitantly. They weren't exactly on the best of terms anymore...even with the knowledge of who Maya Gurgeon had been before she'd shown up out of the blue in their seventh year.
"Company...would be great." Sirius said, quietly. He turned his eyes back to the letter as Lucius stretched out on the bed behind him, providing a silent link to the present.
As you may have guessed by now, my love, the circumstances under which I go into this duel are far from normal. Yes, I know of this duel. I know that Bellatrix Lestrange is going to accost me in my own home. It was I who set the battleground. I, who know the territory. I, who will be calling the shots- no matter what Bellatrix may think. No doubt Lucius will hear of my "death" in one way or another. Perhaps when I do not show up with the supplies that I have promised. I wish for you to be the one to tell him, Sirius, though you may not be on the best terms with him. Lucius is like my twin. He will feel my disappearance as if he himself were the one disappearing. Therefore, I ask you to commit this address to memory. Do not worry...once it is in your memory, the ink will know what to do...
There was a space where the address had once been penned. Now, there was only a detailed sketch of the Hogwarts Crest. Lucius had, indeed, taken the news better from Sirius than he would have from anyone else. Not that that had been saying much. The blonde wizard had nearly leveled the entire Hidden Manor.
I know that nothing will be the same after this. Believe me, I know. I am sorry that I have not been able to fulfill all of my promises, Siri. I know I do not have the right...but please, my love, please take care of Harry. I love Lily like a sister- I believe she, too, will know when I am gone- and I do not want her legacy to end with Harry.
There were several sentences penned after that, but they were all scratched out furiously...as if Maya had decided that her own pain was unimportant compared to Sirius'. Lily had known the moment that Maya had disappeared. She hadn't known exactly what had happened...but mid-way through the spell that would bind Peter "Pudge" Pettigrew as their Secret Keeper, Lily had turned to James- who was holding Harry- and said softly, "I feel like a piece of my heart and soul just disappeared."
James- mistaking it for nerves, had held her closer and kissed her temple as the spell was finished, sealing their fate.
All will be well, my dear one. Cry as you need to. It is not a weakness to cry. Rather, it is a weakness to bottle everything within you and refuse to show a sign of weakness. Remember this, if you remember nothing else that I have told or taught you. I know that you- in all of your infuriating stubbornness- will not listen to me when I say this...but please do not hate the Slytherins. They could not have known, any more than you did. I sent Severus away, just as I sent you and Remus away. All of my affairs are in order. Dumbledore holds the deed to my Mansion...I ask that you have Remus tell him that I desire the house kept under my name. It can be used for a home for whomever needs it until my return to it...or it can be boarded up. It is really up to You, Remus, and Albus.
Sirius sighed and looked around the dust-ridden room. The mansion had been boarded up. Even with Maya gone, he'd been unable to see others living in her home.
I guess this brings me to the end of my penned monologue. Remember, Siri, my motto: Learn from the Past, Live in the Present, Look to the Future. It has served me well while I was here...with you...and I believe it may serve you as well, in the next few years. You are my life, my hope, my heart, my love, Sirius Black. I truly look forward to the day when I can change my name, officially, to Maya Elizabeth Black. I love you.
Her name had been signed with the same flourish that she'd used to write the rest of the letter...despite her own pain. Sirius sighed softly and folded the letter, slipping it back into its envelope and pulling out the ring within, studying the worn band with a wan smile. He'd spent so much time picking it out with James and Lucius' help...
"She loved you, you know." Lucius said. Sirius had almost forgotten that the other man was there. "You were her everything."
"Then why did she leave me, Lucius?" Sirius tried- and failed- to keep the dispair out of his voice.
"Sometimes, when we love someone, we must let them go." Lucius said, softly. He, too, was remembering a chocolate-eyed witch with honey-brown hair whose lips curled upwards into a beautiful, mischievous smile. "If they truly love us...they will return. They will fight hell itself to return."
"She hasn't come back." Sirius said, quietly. "I'm beginning to lose hope."
"Never lose hope, Black." Lucius said, his voice going hard. "If she had died, then the Hidden Manor would be revealed to all the world. It isn't, so she isn't. We must believe this. Whatever else happens. Maya has never let us down before."
"Yes she has." The new voice came from the door, and the men looked up to see Remus Lupin in the doorway.
"What are you talking about, Moony?" Sirius demanded.
"Maya could have saved Lily and James." Remus stated, simply. "She could have warned us about Pudge. She could have done a number of things that she did not do. And because of that, Lily and James are dead, twelve years of your life were wasted, and Maya herself has been lost to us."
"Lupin, you know as well as I do about her theories on changing history." Lucius snapped. "She does not believe it can be done!"
"If Hermione had never gone back, Maya never would have existed. I give you that." Remus said, angrily. "But she could have made a difference!"
"Think of the recoil of her actions though, Moony." Sirius said, slowly. The other two men looked at him. It wasn't usual for Sirius Black to play peacemaker. "Had she changed the fact that Peter betrayed Lily and James, Voldemort would either have been completely defeated, or he would have won the first war. Had she changed the fact that Peter betrayed Lily and James...Hermione Granger would have never had a reason to be in Grimmauld. I would have never 'died.' And Maya Gurgeon would have never gone back in time." He could tell immediately that he'd stunned the werewolf.
"I...hadn't thought of that." Remus said, slowly.
"Black's point remains..." Lucius said, softly. "Maya was helpless. And as angry as you are at her now, Lupin...how much must she hate herself for sitting back and watching those things happen?"
Remus stared at Lucius silently for a long time before bowing his head, conceding defeat. The Slytherin sighed, staring at the ceiling. Remus moved to the bed and sat on it, looking around at the room. "I wish we knew what became of her, after it all."
"So do I, Moony..." Sirius sighed and put the letter up, crawling beneath the blankets on the bed and closing his eyes. "So do I."
"What you must remember about Griffens is that their Venom is very, very potent. So much so, in fact, that distilled Griffen Venom has become illegal in most countries, though there is always a cult here and there that uses it for a hallucinogen." The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor's voice held the attention of the classroom as she lectured on the creature that stood on her desk, looking up at her in slight adoration. "This little guy is a Carlton Griffen...named after the fool who discovered them...and since he's young, his venom isn't quite as potent as it will be as a full-grown adult." She explained, one hand resting on the baby Griffen's back. "It is still potent enough, however, to kill anything smaller than an adult centaur. Which is why we've very carefully removed her venom-sacs."
She displayed this by opening the creature's beak and pointing to the place in the beak that the venom sac would normally fit. "It was sent to Professor Snape, who is one of the leading brewers of the antivenom. He will be lecturing on that particular subject, as he seems to enjoy doom and gloom." Professor Grant's voice turned wry with the last sentence, making her seventh-year Hufflepuffs and Ravenclaws laugh. The subject of her statement swept in at that moment, making the students stop mid-laugh.
"Helen, the Headmaster tells me that you are a Griffen Expert." He said in his silky voice.
"Yes, I am." She stated. "What do you need, Severus?" She gave a small cue to the young Griffen and the babe flew from her desk to its perch in one corner...the small house that it slept in at night opening as it landed and closing once it was inside. He glanced around at the students, hesitating. Getting the point, she turned to her class. "Dismissed. I want an essay naming each breed of Griffen and their defining characteristics. No less than three feet, no longer than seven. Due next week." The class groaned softly as they began to pack up. She then turned to the Potions Master. "Perhaps we should retire to my office, Severus?" At his nod, she turned and walked up the stairs and into her office.
Closing the door behind him, Severus turned and sat across from her. "Would a nest of Griffens ally themselves with a wizard?"
"It's been done." She said, after a short pause. "The only breed that would do any good in combat for a wizard would be Babylonian Griffens. They are the size, roughly, of a horse, and their venom flows through hollow claws instead of their beak." When he nodded, encouraging her to continue, she reached under her desk and pulled out a photograph of a giant eagle-lion-like creature, handing it to him. "Babylonian Griffens work in nests, like most of the breeds, but there is also a center-figure in their society."
"They have a King." Snape said, his voice reflecting his dumbfounded thoughts.
"Close." The Defense Professor smiled. "They have a Queen. She chooses her successor, and she's actually very intelligent. I've met her."
"Yes, indeed." The Defense Professor sat back. It had been a few months ago by the reckoning of this time-span...though it had been about four and a half years ago by hers.
"Is there a chance of her allying with Voldemort?" Severus asked. Ah... Maya thought Now we come to the real reason for his visit.
"Very little to none at all." She stated. "Griffens, though they seem to be mindless creatures, actually have very high standards for good and evil. They see the shades of gray in between as well, but their standards are still higher than most wizards' about what they consider to be 'good' and what they consider to be 'evil.' Therefore, there is very little chance in hell that Queen Miliano will even consider an alliance with Voldemort."
"Is there a way to get them to be double-agents?" Severus asked.
"There is...but I wouldn't trust them." Helen stated. "Queen Miliano may see your attempt to get her to play a double-agent as 'evil.' She could very well turn on us."
"Severus...is Voldemort asking you to employ the Griffens?" She asked, hesitantly. He stiffened, his face closing down as he stood up.
"Thank you for your time, Helen." He said, swooping out. Dark brown eyes lingered on the door as it slammed shut before she stood up and walked to the window, looking out. It was so hard not to be known...not to seek out Lucius- who had been her closest friend- and Remus...who was all that remained of the Mauraders. It was hard enough seeing Harry and Draco in class...mocking her of what she could have done but didn't. The tortured soul of the young woman felt as if a hot iron was thrust into her gut every time she saw Harry and remembered that she had- as surely as Peter had been the one to tell Voldemort where the Potters resided- killed the woman that had been like a sister to her.
Eyelids fell down over the brown orbs as tears threatened to spill over. Pain threatened to engulf her, but first she raised her wand, locking and warding her office until it would take Dumbledore himself hours to break in. Then she slowly dropped to her knees, holding onto her desk for its support before curling up, staring into space with tearless eyes, her mouth stretched wide into a scream so ridden with anguish that no sound was uttered. With each dry, empty sob that wracked her body, she felt a bit of her soul bleed away a little more until- when at last she lay still, her grief spent- her eyes had gone empty.
She didn't know how long she remained there, wig ascew and mask falling off, staring into space, but as she slowly came back to herself, she gathered herself together and slowly began to pick herself up, standing slowly and conjuring a mirror. Dejectedly, she cleaned up her face and charmed her eyes to hide the redness in them. This done, she cleared her throat quietly and fixed the wig. Undoing the wards on the door, she stepped out into her classroom to face Albus Dumbledore as he came in.
"I thought you could use a bit of tea." He stated.
"Thank you, Albus." She motioned to her office and went back in. As he sat across from her and conjured up some tea, she rubbed her temples. "It's much harder than I'd imagined."
"What I still don't understand, Maya, is why you did not make the potion before." Albus said.
"I did." He looked up at her, surprised. "I was researching it, even in Hogwarts. What, you thought all of my research on potions ingrediants, charms, and time travel was for fun? I'd made several smaller potions, and they took my experimental animals forwards in time for up to three days, but it took me the entire nearly four years to find a final ingrediant that would be strong enough to throw me sixteen years into the future." She sighed. "To be honest, I expected to die."
"I am quite surprised, frankly, that you did not." Albus said, quietly.
"Yes. So am I." Her answer was short this time...the discussion was quite clearly finished. Albus sighed and looked at the brilliant young woman, studying the light that was no longer in her eyes. The zest for living. What he found surprised him.
"You honestly believe that you have no reason to continue, don't you." He said. She froze, tea cup halfway to her lips. Icey brown eyes snapped to him.
The cup exploded, the tea fizzling and evaporating.
"LOOK at me, Albus! Look what I've become! I used to have it all! Twice now, I've had it all! Friends, Family, a future and twice now, I've had to let it all go. LOOK at me, Albus! In hiding like some coward, too afraid to know the world's reactions to come out of my shell." She was standing by this point, her voice cold and precise...more so than Severus' ever had been. At least he had his Godson to live for...at least his Godson knew him. "Look at me." She said, one last time. "And tell me- to my face- that there is a reason to continue. Harry and Ron are four years younger than I- they have not seen HALF of what I have...thank the gods for that- and Remus, Lucius, Trevor, and Severus are all nearly twenty years older than me, now. I've moved from one war straight into the middle of another! I embraced each generation for a short while, Albus...but because of that, now I am a part of neither one."
The Headmaster was stunned. He'd known that it would be difficult for her...but even he- the wise Dumbledore- hadn't anticipated even half of the problems that the young witch would face. Maya yanked off her mask and wig in frustration, yanking out the pins that held her hair up, and raked a hand through the long golden-brown locks.
"There will be a dance this year, for Halloween." Albus said, finally. "I've employed a band that you might know to play for it...their features transfigured to hide them from most of the students, of course. Now, normally I require teachers to attend...but perhaps the staff would not find it amiss if a young, twenty-one year old witch came with a mask hiding her face as a guest singer in the band?"
"I...what?" He'd lost her. Albus sighed.
"Snake's Halo has been hired to play at the Halloween Dance. They need a female singer for one of their songs. I told them I had just the person." Albus spelled it out for her. "So if I were you, I would start practicing." He handed her the song and walked away. "But you are not to give away your true face, Helen." He stressed her fake name and she sighed.
"Of course not, Albus." She stated, putting the mask on. With a flick of her wand, her hair was piled on the top of her head, and she settled the wig into place, pinning it, before walking the headmaster to the door.
No...musn't let them know that she was herself. She supposed that she should be used to it. After all, she'd spent the past four years living a lie, right?