Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. The title of this story comes from an episode of the TV series Angel (which I of course also don't own).
Hermione Granger groggily opened her eyes. She tried to focus on her surroundings, but her head was pounding and her eyes blurry. She was lying on a floor, head cradled under a robe and she could make out several shadowy figures. One had glasses and messy black hair.
"Harry?" she said hoarsely. "What happened? Did I fall?" She looked at her friend. Harry was slowing sliding into focus. He looked at her strangely but didn't answer. She looked past him, searching for Ron, but the only red hair she saw was long and silky.
"Ginny? What are you doing here?"
"I don't think she knows where she is," a voice said. Hermione's ears perked at this. The voice was both strange and familiar to her. She looked for its owner and saw a handsome black haired boy. She gasped.
"Sirius?" She tried to sit up, but winced at the pain in her head. She looked at Sirius. A seventeen-year-old Sirius. His eyes widened at her address and he looked at Harry for guidance. Hermione followed his gaze. Her eyes slid from Harry to Ginny. Not Harry and Ginny, she realized with growing panic. James and Lily. And that meant… She looked to the last boy.
"Professor Lupin. I don't know what happened."
"Professor!" Sirius laughed. "You hear that, Moony?"
Lupin looked back at Sirius, frowning. "Padfoot, how does this girl know us? Have you ever seen her before?"
Lily knelt beside a shaking Hermione. "Honey, do you know where you are? What's your name?" Hermione looked into her concerned eyes. Harry's eyes. She had heard countless people say this, and here she was, confirming with her own eyes. She looked back at James. He did look like Harry, she thought, but there really was no mistaking the two. She found it odd that she could form these thoughts right now, when all she really wanted to do was scream. She reached in her pocket. It was empty. No Time Turner. No wand.
"Oh God," she breathed, trying to sit up again. "I don't have the Time Turner. I'm in Marauder time and I can't get back. Oh God." She spoke to herself, rocking back and forth. She knew she needed to calm down and assess the situation, but for once, she gave into panic. She tried to remember the events leading up to this, but her mind was blank.
"She said Marauders," Sirius said. "Who the hell is this girl? Evans! Are you sure you don't know her? Is she one of your muggle friends?"
"I've never seen her before, Sirius. You're the one she knows; she called me Ginny. She knows Remus, too." Hermione continued to rock on the floor as they spoke over and about her. Their voices faded to a low buzz as she considered an actual breakdown. All those times she had remained brave and helped Harry, never flinching from danger and now she was broken on the floor. Malfoy and Snape would love this, she thought weakly. That roused her a bit. Snape. He was probably here, too. And Wormtail. She jerked up, looking at the Marauders again. The implications of the situation hit her full force.
I can stop them. I can change what happens. She looked at James and Lily. I can save Harry's parents. And Sirius. Damn it, am I a Gryffindor or not?
This thought pushed the panic back down. "Can you help me up?" she asked Lily. Warily, Lily held the girl as she rose. She was reluctant to let go; obviously the girl's recent ordeal had been terrible. Hermione smiled gratefully at Lily, then swept her eyes over the Marauders once more, seeing them fully for the first time. Professor Lupin was staring openly at her. Already aged beyond his years, he nonetheless had a twinkle in his eyes that had not been present when he taught her at Hogwarts. He's cute, too, she thought mildly, as her eyes flickered over to Sirius. He too was watching Hermione, his handsome face bewildered. Her eyes started to tear up the longer she looked at him and without warning, she suddenly flung herself in his arms.
"Sirius," she sobbed. "I'm so glad to see you; Harry will be so happy." She clung to him as he looked at his friends for support. She knew she needed to get a grip on herself, but seeing Sirius again was too much.
"Prongs? A little assistance?" Sirius let Hermione hug him, awkwardly patting her back. At last she drew back.
"Sorry," she whispered.
"S'okay," he said. "I enjoy getting hugged by strange, pretty, crying girls. We're just back to the little issue of who are you, and how do you know us?"
"Yes." Hermione wiped her tears away and stood up straight. "A valid question. Actually-" she broke off. Obviously it wouldn't do to immediately divulge her story. She couldn't appear out of nowhere, declare their friend a traitor and expect their belief and support. Then, of course, there was the tricky little problem of how to get home. Perhaps, for the time being, discretion would be best.
"I hit my head," she finished lamely. "I can't remember." None of them looked convinced, least of all Lupin, but it would have to do for now. "Lily? Is Professor Dumbledore here?"
She trembled with excitement at the thought of seeing her Headmaster again. I'll save him, too, she said to herself with conviction.
Lily raised her eyebrow. "So you do know who I am," she said. "Do you know James, too? You called him Harry. And you know the headmaster; why? Who are you?"
Hermione waved the question away. "I do know you all, but I can't remember any more than that right now. Did anyone see how I got here?"
"No, we didn't," James answered her. "We were coming back from the Great Hall together, and you were lying in here, unconscious. Moon- Remus put his robe under your head and Lily enervated you. Do you think you apparated here?"
"You can't apparate or disapparate inside Hogwarts; how many times do I have to tell you guys that?" Lupin said crossly. Hermione looked at him, surprised. How many times had she said the exact same thing to Harry and Ron? "I don't know how I got here. Please, I need to see Professor Dumbledore."
"I'll take her," Lupin stepped forward. "Lily, you go and see if you can find something else for her to wear. She's already going to create a stir; I don't want Snape or any of those Slytherins seeing her in muggle clothes."
"Snivellus," Sirius sneered. "I don't know why you're concerned about him, Moony. He might get some grease on her or something." Hermione smiled inwardly at this. "Do you want me and James to go with you? Should we get Wormtail? Lord only knows where he is, anyway."
"No!" Hermione protested. They looked at her, shocked. "I mean, please don't get anyone else. I'll go with Pr- with Lupin. Thank you all." She took Lupin's outstretched hand and allowed him to lead her away.
For the first time, Hermione took in her surroundings. She was in the Gryffindor common room. It must be the weekend, or the Marauders would be in class. Well, at least she was back on familiar grounds. She should be there anyway. Harry, Ron and Hermione had not returned to Hogwarts for their seventh year; instead the friends were tracking down Lord Voldemort's horcruxes, the splinters of his evil soul. Just last week, they had found and destroyed one. Her heart twinged at the thought of her friends. I hope they're okay. This cannot distract them. She knew it was imperative that she return to them as soon as possible.
Hermione and Lupin walked in silence for several minutes. She could feel his eyes on her, sizing her up. Her mind was a jumble. It was just too weird to see her former professor as a teenager, not to mention Sirius, James and Lily. She hoped she was back in her own time before she encountered Snape.
"What's your name?" Lupin asked her, breaking the silence. "Can you remember that, or did you hit your head too hard?
She ignored the sarcasm in his voice. "Hermione. My name is Hermione Granger."
"Nice to meet you, Hermione." He paused. Hermione could tell he was wrestling with whether or not to question her again. His curiosity got the better of him.
"Look, I really think you owe us an explanation. I mean, you just appeared out of nowhere, and you've not exactly been forthcoming. Why did you call everyone else by their first name, but me Professor Lupin? How do you know the name Marauders?"
"I told you I don't-"
"Hogwash," Lupin snapped. "You know exactly who we are and you haven't forgotten anything."
Hermione stopped and turned to him. "Okay. I did hit my head and I'm not really sure how I got here, but everything else I remember. I'm not able to tell you right now. Please don't ask any more questions, and please don't tell the others anything. I need to talk to Professor Dumbledore, and then I'll know how to proceed. Okay?"
"Okay," Lupin said, "but after you talk to Dumbledore, we're going to need some answers."
"I'll tell you everything I can." She knew this wasn't much of a promise, but it was all she could offer right now. Hopefully, Dumbledore would quickly straighten everything out. She expected to have Wormtail exposed and herself back with Ron within the day. Hermione and Lupin traveled the rest of the way in silence. They stopped outside the stone gargoyles that led to the Headmaster's office.
"Peppermint Toads." The gargoyles leapt aside and a winding staircase appeared before them. Hermione realized that she had never been in Dumbledore's office before, but merely heard about it from Harry. She was surprised to find herself pleased in spite of everything.
Lupin climbed the stairs with her and knocked on Professor Dumbledore's door. "Enter."
Hermione's breath caught in her throat as she opened the door and stood looking at her beloved Headmaster again. His eyes held their familiar twinkle as he looked at her questioningly. He looked exactly as she remembered him.
"Ahh, Mr. Lupin. Who is your charming friend?"
"Actually, I'm not sure, Headmaster," Lupin answered him. "She's come to us quite unannounced."
"Indeed?" Dumbledore smiled at Hermione. "Please have a seat, Miss - ?"
"Granger, sir. Hermione Granger. Thank you, Professor Dumbledore," she said. "Pro- I mean, Lupin and his friends have been very kind. I need to speak with you about some important things, however, and it would be better to do so in private." She looked apologetically at Lupin. "I'm sorry, Lupin, you don't mind, do you?"
"Not at all," he answered stiffly. "Although I wish you would call me Remus. I'll check to see that Lily has found you some robes."
She nodded her thanks. Lupin inclined his head at Dumbledore and left the room.
"Professor," she said breathlessly, the moment he was gone, "thank God you're here. The worse thing possible has happened. Harry, Ron and I were searching for Voldemort. We're working on defeating him, well, Harry is, really, but Ron and I are helping. I don't even know how this happened. I thought all the Time Turners had been destroyed at the Department of Mysteries, but I found one at Grimmauld Place. We had an idea about the locket, so we returned there. Lord only knows how we missed a Time Turner as many times as we'd been there, but I found it. I think Kreacher must have stowed it away somewhere. I didn't mean to use it, I didn't even think I had, but it must have brought me here! I have no idea what happened, Professor." She finished speaking and looked at him expectantly. Hermione forgot, for the moment, that Professor Dumbledore hadn't traveled back in time with her and therefore probably had no idea what she was talking about.
Dumbledore looked at her, still smiling faintly. If he was at all confused by her tale, he didn't let on.
"Well, Miss Granger, this is a rather interesting story. I'm frankly impressed with your use of the name Voldemort, if nothing else. Could you elaborate at all? If you used a Time Turner, in what time should you reside?"
"1997," she said miserably.
"Oh, dear. And how do you know Mr. Lupin? Are you acquainted in your time period?"
"He was our Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. And a member of the Order."
Dumbledore started at this and looked at her shrewdly. "Miss Granger, are you a member of the Order of the Phoenix in your time?"
"No," she said. "Harry, Ron and I were too young, everyone said. Bullocks, in my opinion, considering what we had already accomplished, but there's no arguing with Mrs. Weasley. "
"Indeed," Dumbledore said, twinkling again.
"Professor, I need to tell you some things. I know I'm not making much sense, but since I'm here, I can fix some things. Terrible things happen, and I can change them. I can help Harry."
"Harry is your friend?"
"He and Ron are my best friends. And Voldemort is after Harry, and Harry can stop him, but I can help him, I can change-"
"Miss Granger," Dumbledore interrupted her. "You are in Gryffindor, are you not?" At her nod, he continued, "Then I already know that you are very brave. You also strike me as an exceptionally bright witch. You've been put in an extraordinary position. I understand your impulse to right the wrongs of your time. Unfortunately, this cannot happen."
"What? Professor, why?" Hermione stared at him incredulously. "All I have to do is warn James, Sirius and Lupin-"
"It's not that simple, I'm afraid. Hermione, you cannot tell anyone the events of the future, not even me."
"You cannot change your past, Miss Granger," Professor Dumbledore stated simply. "You cannot tell your new friends their future, because in your time, they do not know it. If you told them now, these events of which you speak would not have taken place. Since they did, it means that you did not tell them."
"I don't understand." Tears were starting down her cheeks. This was impossible. She could not be here, in this time, and not change what happened. Wormtail could not betray his friends on her watch. Voldemort could not kill Harry's parents.
"I'm sorry, Miss Granger, but we cannot change our past, no matter how much we might wish to. I will work on getting you back to your own time. This may take some time, but I do believe we can manage. In the mean time, you must carry on as normal."
"Normal?" She was crying in earnest now. "How can I carry on as normal, knowing these things? I don't belong here, Professor Dumbledore! No one knows me, why would I be here at this school? What am I supposed to tell everyone? I called them by name; I wept over Sirius and called Lupin 'Professor!' How can I explain this away?"
"You will be a transfer student. I'll tell the other Professors the truth, as much as they need to know, at least, but you cannot tell your new friends."
"But they already know something! They're going to want to know who I am! Please, Professor, this can't be the way; I have to be able to tell everyone what's going to happen!"
"Miss Granger, there are dire consequences with changing one's past. It's possible that you may bring about your own demise. It simply cannot be done. Tell the other Gryffindors that they came to you in a dream. Perhaps a vision? It's the only thing that can be done, until we get you safely back in your own time. I trust I have your word on this?"
"Yes, Professor," she said meekly, still quietly crying.
"Hermione," he said kindly. "I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you. But I'm sure you can imagine the horror that would occur if everyone was able to change the past. The world would be chaos, if it could even exist. All things happen for a reason. Take this time to appreciate what was, and I will work diligently to get you back to what is."
"Yes, Professor," she said again. Listlessly, she got to her feet and wiped her eyes. Her mind had not yet completely processed what had just occurred. She felt as if she had briefly held victory in her hands, and now all was lost. She was also sure the Marauders were not going to buy her "dream" story. She certainly wouldn't believe that rubbish. She opened the door and walked slowly down the spiral staircase. Each step felt like she was sinking into quicksand. Her breath was short and her head felt like it was going to split in half.
"I'm sorry, Harry," she whispered miserably. "I'm so sorry." Would he believe that she couldn't help them? How would he react to knowing she allowed his parents and godfather to be betrayed and murdered? Would she even see him again? And Ron. She and Ron had just started working out their feelings for one another. She couldn't bear to think she might never get to be with him again. When she finally opened the door to the hallway, she was unsurprised to find Lupin waiting for her.
"Hey," he greeted her, taking in her tear-streaked face. "Are you okay? Hermione, did Professor Dumbledore help you?"
"Yes," she said dully. "Yes, he was very helpful. Can you walk me back to Gryffindor tower, Lupin? I'm going to be staying here awhile, and Professor Dumbledore felt I was best suited there."
"Of course," he said. "Hermione-"
"I'll explain when we get there," she cut him off. "I can speak to all of your friends together." She allowed him to lead her through Hogwarts once more. The familiarity of her school comforted her somewhat and she did trust Dumbledore to help her. And she was brave. She knew that she must face whatever came her way - even that rat Wormtail. She would have to simply swallow her feelings around him and carry on as best she could. At least I'll get some of my N.E.W.T. level classes, she thought. Might as well stay as positive as possible. It would be nice to spend some time with Lupin and Sirius again, too. Her mind could not yet wrap itself around James and Lily. Seeing her best friend's dead parents, seeing him reflected in their faces was simply more than she could manage right now. She would almost have to think of them as completely different people.
Hermione and Lupin found the rest of the Marauders waiting for them in the Gryffindor common room. Her heart lurched unpleasantly when she saw Peter Pettigrew was with them. He looked at her with interest, smiling shyly, and it was all she could do to keep from screaming at him.
"Boys, Lily, this is Hermione Granger. Do you know Peter as well?" Lupin asked her.
"Yes," Hermione answered. "I know him as Wormtail."
Even though the friends had used their nicknames in front of her, it was still bit odd for them to know Hermione was already familiar with them.
"And yes, I know you are all unregistered animagi," she answered their unspoken question. Their faces went pale at her revelation. "Except you, Lily, I believe. Don't worry, I won't tell anyone."
"Fair enough," Sirius said bracingly. "We'll hold you to that. Now of course the real question is, how in the bloody hell do you know all of this? Hermione, is it? Obviously you're a witch. Why don't you already go to Hogwarts? Who are Harry and Ginny? Why did you call Moony Professor and, well, really, just who are you?"
Hermione looked at them all. Being back in the Gryffindor common room rallied her spirits a bit. She had some experience lying, after all - one does not spend time with George and Fred Weasley and not learn how to lie, or with Harry and Ron, for that matter.
"I understand my arrival here was a bit of a shock to you all. I don't have all the answers for you yet. I'm still a little confused myself. I'm actually a transfer student from Beauxbatons."
"You're obviously British," Professor Lupin (Remus, she thought to herself, I must call him Remus) stated the obvious. "Why would you transfer to Hogwarts your final year of school?"
"That's where it gets a bit complicated," Hermione admitted. "I'm actually muggle-born. My parents moved to France when I was ten, so when it was time for me to go to school, I was sent to Beauxbatons. Last month, I had a dream. I was in a forest at night and there were four animals with me - a stag, a dog, a rat and a - a werewolf." She avoided looking at Lupin as she said this, but she could hear him draw in breath and could feel them all exchange worried glances. Animagi were one thing, but for Hermione to know Moony's secret - that was a bit more serious.
"It was a very vivid dream, but I thought that was all it was - a dream," she continued, the lies falling from her lips. "But then I had it again the following night, and then the next and the next. Each night I had more details. I watched you change back into your human forms, and I learned your names. Lily was there, as well. I learned you went to Hogwarts. I tried to dismiss it, but finally I shared my dreams with my Divination professor." She blanched a bit at that lie - she was embarrassed to have people think she was taking Divination. "He thought it was important to share the dreams with Professor Dumbledore, and he invited me here, to learn about you all."
She had kept her eyes averted as she told her tale, and now snuck a look at her audience. Wormtail looked convinced, but the rest of them were looking at her skeptically.
"You told your Divination Professor and Dumbledore we're animagi?" Sirius asked.
"No!" Hermione protested. Merlin, this story was going to be hard to keep straight. "In my dreams, I knew it was a secret. It's hard to explain how they were - I felt protective of you all, and a part of something. I don't know where the dreams came from, but I thought it was important that I come here and find out."
"Hermione," Lupin looked at her suspiciously. "I don't mean to question you, but… Well, if you knew who we were, why did you call James and Lily Harry and Ginny? Why did you freak out and run to Dumbledore? If you came here for us, why did you act so surprised to see us?"
Hermione sighed. "Harry and Ginny are my friends from Beauxbatons. You both look a little bit like them. I really did hit my head. I fell in the common room and slammed my head on the floor. When I woke up, I didn't know where I was, and then it was just shocking to actually see you all. I panicked a bit; it was just so surreal. I went to Dumbledore to let him know I got here alright, and to see about my schedule." She knew this last lie was weak, but she didn't know what else to say. She longed to shout out the truth, but since that was out of the question, she would just have to carry the tale as best she could.
Obviously, the Marauders didn't believe her story, but Hermione could tell they were going to accept it for now. She knew they would confirm it with Dumbledore and then, whether they bought it or not, they would have to at least pretend to trust her. In the meantime, she would learn more about the Marauders and perhaps bring Harry and Ron back some stories.
"Well, you've had a long day, Hermione," Lily said. "Let me take you to bed. I've got some robes for you to borrow. Did you bring anything with you?"
"I didn't," Hermione said, embarrassed. Way to make the story sound convincing, she thought ruefully. Who travels without any clothes?
"Well, we'll get you set up tomorrow," Lily said, not challenging her. She led Hermione up the stairs into the girls' dormitory and showed her to a bed. Lulled by the familiarity, and thoroughly drained, Hermione fell asleep moments after her head hit the pillow.
Down in the common room, the boys were discussing their new housemate.
"She's full of it," Lupin said bluntly. "Completely and utterly. I think she's nutters, too."
"I think we're all in agreement with that, Moony," Sirius said. "But what are we supposed to do about it? Do you think she's bad; that she's been sent here to spy or something?"
"Who'd want to spy on you, Padfoot?" asked James. "Has she been sent by one of your many female admirers?"
"My mum, more likely," said Sirius darkly. "Although she'd have to be lying about being a muggle-born, then. Mama Black's not employing any mudbloods." He spat out the ugly word and scowled at the thought of his mother.
"Your mum doesn't know all that information about us," James said confidently. "No, if she's lying, she's coming from another source. What do you think, Wormtail?"
"I think she's pretty."
"Well, I think we're all in agreement with that, too, Wormtail," said Sirius, laughing. "If I really featured in her dreams, I would hope you guys wouldn't be there mucking it up. Moony?"
"I like her hair," he said, without thinking. Ignoring the other boys' smirks, he continued, "but I think that's beside the point. Anyone with that much information about us is dangerous, period. If this got into the wrong hands, we'd all be expelled. I'll reserve judgment on whether or not she actually means us harm, but we need to watch her closely."
"And so we shall," said James. "After all, according to her story, she's mad about us anyway. She can't refuse to hang out with us when she told us she came for us in the first place. She about had conniptions over Padfoot, too. And she still hasn't said why she called Moony 'Professor.'"
"She probably saw his Prefect badge, Prongs," Wormtail offered. "Maybe her dream self can't read."
"Brilliant," Lupin said sarcastically. "That must be it." He rose abruptly, and without another word, stalked off to the boys' dormitory. The remaining Marauders looked at one another, shrugged, and followed him.