Summary: Why didn't I change anything? After he asked me, it was all I could think about. Why hadn't I saved them? But sir, you have left this war to our generation, and by God and Merlin I, at least, am going to fight. Hermione-centric, time-turner based. By Aerin.

AN: So this was inspired by several things; the one-shot "The Problems With Cupboards" by Opalish, and especially the way that a lot of time-turner fics seem to have Hermione coming back with no repercussions. Most of all, it was randomly inspired by the muses, who decided to visit little old me for no apparent reason other than to write this. And yes, there are hints of SBHG.

Disclaimer: Harry Potter belongs to J.K. Rowling, as does everything else he entails. In fact, the only thing in this story that's mine are the words, but at least they belong to me through and through.

Why

Why didn't I change anything? After he asked me, it was all I could think about. Why hadn't I saved Lily and James, sent Peter to Azkaban, saved Sirius from hell and Remus from being alone forever? Why hadn't I?

As odd as it sounded, I had never thought of it before. It seemed more like the kind of thing you'd lose serious sleep over than the kind you wouldn't, so why had I slept peacefully at night? How the hell had I been so sure of myself, so confident in what I was doing, positive that I was right?

I had learned about the past, so I knew I was meant to be there, but why didn't I even consider that I was meant to change things? There was a simple answer, though.

Because I already knew I wouldn't.

I didn't have to worry about changing things because I knew the way they would happen, I knew that Lily and James would die saving Harry, Sirius would be unfairly accused, Peter would walk free and be thought dead, and Remus would lose all. I knew this would happen, so I did nothing.

I knew that I would be in their Seventh Year. I was remembered by those who had been there, and they'd sent me back. They said that I told them to, so I knew I would have to. I didn't know that I would fall in love, but it didn't change anything. I knew the basic events, and that they'd already happened, so they did. I was just a watcher on the sidelines.

I hadn't expected the question, though I should have. I didn't think he'd ask me, but I might have known. He never was the type to shy away from the cold, hard truth. He thinks I could have changed everything. He thinks that since I'd known, I could have saved everyone, I should have saved everyone.

I think he's wrong.

I know myself, and I know that I am incapable of something like that. If I was meant to change the past, I would have been strong enough to do it. I may be a Gryffindor, but sometimes the biggest part of bravery is knowing when to give in and how to be strong, to give in to what you know will happen and pray that there's a light at the end of the tunnel, to stand through the death and pain and stare the darkness in the eyes and say "My name is Hermione Granger. I'm ready for you, but can you handle me?"

Sometimes, you have to be the one to know what must be done and do it, hard as it is, because that takes bravery.

"I have traveled through every task set for me. I have given up everything I loved because I knew it would happen. I lost the love of my life because I knew I would, knew that there was no way for us to last when I could not save his as-good-as brother, my friends. I have already faced down everything you've thrown at me, and now I am here at the source of it all, and you are going to have to fight me, because I am more than ready to fight you."

There is only one problem in all this. Sometimes, to be truly brave, you have to remember that in the grand scheme of things your happiness doesn't matter, and the only thing that does is the world.

The world, Sirius. I hope he know that's why I gave him up.

So I have an answer to his question, now. There is a reason for my writing this. I know why I couldn't save them.

Because I am Hermione Jane Granger, and I am strong in my way. I am not strong in his, in Sirius'.

I can not change the past for my friends, fracture my reality to the point where, perhaps, I do not even exist.

I am incapable of saving those I love if it means I'd never get the chance to love them in the first place.

As intelligent as I am, I can not comprehend the idea of the paradox that would arise if I changed time.

He could, and would, do all of these things. I know this. And I know, now, the way that I am brave. I have finally realized why I am a Gryffindor, not a Ravenclaw, or even a Hufflepuff or Slytherin.

I can and will change the present for my friends, one day, one moment at a time, so that they can live in a world without the darkness, even if it means I will die and never see it.

I can and will save those I love even if it means I will never get the chance to love them again.

And as intelligent as I am, I can comprehend the reality that is this world, that is my here and now, and I can work through it and see what is really there, not changing time, but changing the time that hasn't happened yet, giving the children that haven't been born yet the chance to be. To exist, because I think that existing is a marvelous thing.

I realize that I wasn't the one that should have been sent to the past if it was meant to be changed. If destiny wanted the world to be different, she should have sent Sirius.

But if destiny wanted to build a warrior, one who will never give up, never surrender, one who will spit in the eye of darkness until it lets her pass, then I was the right choice. Then I should have been sent, and it was a good thing I was.

So I might not survive this. Maybe it's a suicide mission. But Headmaster, it's my suicide mission to take. This world, the earth, the life that we have been blessed with, is given to use to make of it what we will.

There is a Muggle saying: "A life or death situation."

That's what this is, Headmaster. It's my choice between life and death. And for this world, for everyone on it, for anyone that I can save, I choose life.

Please tell Sirius I love him.

Tell Harry that he's my best friend in the world.

Tell Ron that I'm sorry that we fought.

Tell Ginny she's a sister to me.

Tell Neville I wished I had helped him more with his Potions work.

And tell me, if I live through this, that there was a reason. Tell me that I am right, because if I do not die in the here and now, and if I find that I was wrong, then I think it would be the worst thing imaginable.

And remember most of all, sir, that with all your manipulations, your cupboards under the stairs, your freedom fighters, your prophecies, with everything you have done, you have only accomplished one true thing:

You have left this war to our generation, and by God and Merlin I, at least, am going to fight.

-Hemione Jane Granger