A/N: This story was originally written in Swedish for a challange at The Swedish Rowling Fan Club, and the rules were simple – it had to take place on September 1st, at Hogwarts or on the way to Hogwarts. Characters could be chosen freely, but the word maximum was 3000 – completely impossible for me. But, I managed to get it down to 2980 or something once I had decided to write an "extended version", possibly in English, and here you are.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize belongs to J.K.Rowling. I don't intend to make you believe otherwise, although I still dislike HBP, thank you very much.
Harry only had to wait a few minutes for Hermione and Professor McGonagall that one time when the Tranfiguration teacher had wanted to talk to the two of them as soon as they had arrived at Hogwarts, but he did not know how much those few minutes actually contained. For Remus Lupin those minutes were pain. Where he was sitting between the Professors Vectra and Sinistra he could not pay any attentiona at all to the Sorting. He only had one thought in his head: it was her, best friend of James's son, and – it probably happened right now. He remembered her as if it had been yesterday; she had looked just the same then as she had now, and what little he had seen of her today told him that she was the same person. But how could that be possible?
While these thoughts were wandering through his mind, the Sorting Hat was doing its annual job in the same slow speed as usually. It took a while, but Lupin did not notice the minutes passing. It was only when the little wizard Flitwick picked up the stool with the hat on, that he realized that the ceremony was over. At the same moment, the two Gryffindors came into the Great Hall, followed by their Head of House.
He could not help his heart beating a little faster when he saw the girl, who was so much like his lost sunshine, but no matter how much he looked at her, he could not see any sign of her just having been part of something very strange indeed.
Could McGonagall have cast a memory spell at her?
Or had nothing happened at all?
The year that Remus Lupin would begin his fourth year at Hogwarts school of wizardry and witchcraft, he had spent a great part of the summer holydays at James Potter's, his best friend. Sirius Black and Peter Pettigrew had also been there. The others had stayed on until the end of the holydays and would go to King's Cross together, but not Remus. The full moon had forced him to leave for home four days before the Hogwarts Express would leave, and that was why he stepped onto platform nine and three quarters alone. He was there in good time, but since he knew James and Sirius, he knew they would only arrive with only seconds left, and Peter would be with them.
That's why he also got on the train alone, with the goal of reserving a compartment for the marauders, but they never turned up. Time passed with no mercy, and for each minute gone he turned more and more impatient. Where the hell were they? And then it was eleven o'clock and the train began to pull out of the station.
"They just haven't found me yet", Remus thought, "because if they got on the train with only seconds to spare, they must have got on in the last carriage". He was sitting in the first carriage himself, so it would take some time for them to find him. Pleased with that explanation, Remus stepped out into the corridor. He would go to find his friends; however little he would have minded just reading a good book while waiting for them, they would find it awfully irritating if he did not try to find them, although they knew how tired he was.
He had just reached the end of the first carriage when he saw her, or run into her, more literally. She came out from the girls' toilet and she was wearing a very puzzled look on her face. Before Remus could think more about it, he felt his heart skipping one beat as their eyes met. He knew immediately that there was something special about this girl. He did not have much experience with girls; it was James and Sirius who took care of that part of their teenage life while Remus and Peter were normally standing in the shadows. He was befriended with Lily Evans, but this was something else entierly. He had never felt any need to protect Lily, no matter how much Snape insulted her parentage. This bewildered girl was different. She looked around herself with big eyes and frowned when she again put her eyes on Remus.
"Excuse me", she said, "but…" She did not seem to know what to say. "I think I'm… lost?"
"Lost? On a train?" Remus smiled. She was cute when she blushed, even though her front teeth might have been a little too big.
"Yes", she said with a nervous tremble in her voice. "I don't know how else to put it."
"Perhaps I could help you?"
"I don't know." But she looked so helpless that Remus just forgot about his plans for finding his marauder friends. Instead, he took her hand and showed the way to the compartment he had chosen for himself and his friends.
"My friends should be here any time", he said, "but it won't matter, although they can be a bit impulsive." He smiled again and looked examiningly at her. She had honey brown eyes with an intelligent, however a little wondering and worried expression. Her hair was long, and could most accurately be described as a big mass of brown, fizzy curls. Others might sigh and consider it neglected, but Remus thought there were more important things in life of this girl than what her hair looked like. He liked that thought – there were far too many girls who gave their priority just the other way round.
However close he looked at her, though, he could not for his life recognize her. He did not think he had ever seen her, and that confused him because she – he could not put his finger on it, but she… was so – engaging? – that he thought he could not have overlooked her before.
"What's your name?" he asked.
She made an automatic move to answer, stopped and looked uncertainly at him. "Hermione", she said then. "But I don't think I should… Oh well." She seemed to have composed herself a it after her confusion, and shook her head firmly as if she had decided something. "So what's your name?"
"Remus", he said. "Lupin…" he added as she had not nodded knowingly. When he said his family name, her eyes grew wide with surprise.
"Lupin?" It was much more an exhalation than real talking, and Remus thought it seemed as if she had just understood something really important. Then she seemd to recall something else, at least equally important, and she seemed to tell herself to relax. However, Remus realised that what she had understood was something far more important than who his friends happened to be.
And a moment later she was on pins and needles again although she had just seemed to force herself to relax, and in spite of just having made up her mind, she seemed just as indecisive as before. "I don't understand what I'm doing here", she said. And then she yawned. "I'd love to explain it all, but I'm really terribly tired and there's a long journy in front of us yet…"
"Sure", Remus said. "You can sleep a while, and I'll wake you up when the food trolley comes by."
Hermione smiled her thanks and took off her shoes. Then she pulled her robes more tightly around herself and with closed eyes, she let her head rest against the wall. She concentrated on her breathing, and forced herself to breath more slowly, more calmly. But she did not sleep.
Because she was just every bit as surprised, puzzled, and… lost as Remus Lupin had conceived her. Lost was just the word, she mused. She had not had time to grasp every little detail of time travelling – Professor McGonagall had just been about to explain it all when she had put the little time turner around her best pupil's neck and something had happened.
But she knew the most important there was to know: under no circumstances was she allowed to alter what had been. But, if you were sent back twenty something years, how were you supposed to know how to behave not to alter anything? She realized that this was a bit like the egg and the hen; had McGonagall remembered that she, twenty years prior, had met a foreign Gryffindor girl, and realized she had to send back Hermione in time to make the things she remembered happen? Or had she been sent back by mistake, and the people she met now would suddenly remember new things in her own time – above all, would Professor Lupin recognize her on the train – had he recognized her?
Hermione realized that she could have developed those thoughts for forever, and decided to try to find a solution to another problem instead. Like, for instance, what to tell Remus when he'd wake her up. She had promised to tell him about her problem, but she could not tell him the truth.
Or could she? Actually, she was in a big trouble, and she needed help. On the other hand, she knew were she was going; the train was heading for Hogwarts, and she knew, after all the times she had read "Hogwarts – A History", that both Dumbledore and McGonagall would be there. They would be able to help her, that much was certain – whereas it was also rather safe to say that a boy of her own age could not, no matter how kind Remus was.
At the same time as she was worried about her situation, she realized how lucky she was. Had she not met Remus Lupin, she would not have had a chance to know in what time she was. Actually, it was quite an unbelievable, improbable coincidence. How in the world could she first have travelled by the Hogwarts Express in the same compartment as the new teacher of Defence Against the Dark Arts, only to be sent back in time to make the same journey again, in the same company, only twenty years – or how many it might be – earlier. What was the probability for something like that to happen? Hermione wished she had had more time to read her new school books – and especially the Arithmancy book.
Trying to sleep felt perfectly useless, although she was so tired that her eyes had fallen shut without her conscious permission. Beside that, she was hungry, too, and that was something that Remus could hardly fail to notice as her stomach did its best to make that fact known. But she remained sitting with her eyes shut, head against the wall, thinking.
The young Remus seemed just as ill and tired as the grown Professor Lupin had. But he seemed to be a calm and kind person, both as a teenager and as an adult; that was something that Hermione had learned in the time of mere hours. And young Remus might have been tired and a little ill, but he was not as worn as the Professor. As a matter of fact, he was quite cute.
And she told her brains to stop thinking about things like that, because she had no help of such thoughts now. Instead, she made up a somewhat believable explanation as to why she was there when she had already shown that she clearly should not be there.
Hermione was, as a rule, bad at lying, but she had to try although she did not like the thought of telling lies to Remus. However, she was so pleased with herself when she had come up with a story to tell Remus and perhaps his friends, too (although, she had to admit that she'd rather not have his friends there at all) that she eventually fell asleep in that little train compartment.
While the girl was sleeping, Remus sat by the window, reading, just as he had wished to do. He could not fully concentrate on the book, however interesting it was. Every now and then, his eyes wandered over to the sleeping Hermione. He still wondered who she was. He also wondered were his mad friends were hiding away, but he no longer thought of trying to find them. If they were going to complain, he would have a reason not to wander through the whole train looking for them.
An hour and a half had passed when the which with the food trolley knocked the door. The marauders had not yet made their appearances, but Remus awoke Hermione. He had heard her stomach rumbling, and bought many more pies than he knew he needed for himself when the girl only bought a couple of sandwhiches and a big bottle of pumpkin juice.
"So", Remus said, once they had eaten a little. "How was it, again?"
"I live in Scotland", Hermione mumbled, still eating a sandwich. "My father got tired of driving me down to London since we actually live farther north than Hogwarts, and that's why he arranged with Dumbledore for me to take a portkey directly to Hogwarts."
"Then what are you doing here?"
Hermione shrugged and wiped her mouth with a napkin. "No idea. That's just what I don't understand."
"Perhaps there was a misunderstanding and someone just thought youd dad didn't want to go to London?"
Remus observed how her hand did not quite want to leave the area around her lips, and he had a diffuse feeling that it meant something. But he smiled and continued his questioning: "I'm sorry, but I don't have any memory of ever seeing you at Hogwarts, and still you're wearing the Gryffindor emblem on your robes…"
Hermione looked down on her chest, and Remus could swear that all the colour had left her face. Then she looked up at him again. "You're in Gryffindor?"
"I'm in Ravenclaw", she said trying to sound persuasive, but in Remus's ears, she was overdoing it. "My… my sister was in Gryffindor when she went to Hogwarts many years ago and I use her old clothes – mum must have missed this emblem when she prepared them for me…"
And again her hand was by her mouth although she had long since stopped eating – actually, she was pinching her lips – and Remus just knew that she was lying. At least, his werewolf instinct told him so. He sat down beside her and carefully opened the hook on her robes so that he could se her neck.
"You're wearing a red and yellow tie…"
This time Hermione found her voice immediately. "My bloody idiot of a brother!" she swore. "He must have seen the emblem and tranfigured the tie just before I took the portkey – I thought he looked far too damn smug for his own good!"
Remus raised his eyebrows at her swearing, but smiled when he clasped the hook on her robes. "Sounds like something my friends would do", he said and saw, much to his relief that she relaxed and smiled. His hands rested on her shoulders a little longer than necessary before he let go of her. But he didn't move back to his own place.
"He was in Gryffindor, too. It was a bit of chock for the two of them when I was sorted into Ravenclaw."
"That can happen sometimes", he said with a little smile. He thought about Sirius who had been placed into Gryffindor despite his family having been proud and wholehearted Slytherins for centuries.
After that, they were quiet for quite a while. They were both waiting for the rest of the marauders; one of them impatient and worried, the other merely worried. After another half an hour, which Hermione had spent looking out of the window on the bright sunshine, and Remus reading a book, they had yet not arrived.
"Something must've happened", Remus said. "They would have found me by now otherwise. Probably they overslept and missed the train. That wouldn't be surprising. I suppose they celebrated the last day of the summer holydays the whole night or something equally silly." But he said it with warmth in his voice and saw that Hermione wondered why he had not been there. He gave her a sad smile: "I've been ill", he explained. It did not matter if she did not believe him, but he would not tell her the truth – yet.
"Then how will they get to Hogwarts?"
"They always manage so it will be arranged somehow", again Remus smiled, but definitely more happily. Just then, her stomach made itself known again and she blushed. "Didn't you have time to eat before you came?"
"No. I wasn't meant to leave just yet."
"Do you want a pie? I happened to by a few more than I can eat myself." He hoped he sounded nonchalant.
"Thank you." Hermione accepted the offered pie with a smile. "You said your name was Lupin?", she asked then.
"Yes. I'm afraid you cannot have missed me, at least not my friends. Everyone know them…"
"Just like my one of my friends at home", Hermione smiled. "But you can't possibly know anything about them so I won't bother you with that. I just wanted to check again, because I thought I'd heard your name at some point. I'm glad to make your acaintance."
"I'm glad to meet you, too", Remus said. "Your friends at home… do they also cause a havoc all the time?"
"No. But trouble always finds them anyway." She tried to stifle a yawn, and Remus chuckled.
"Still tired? Why don't you sleep a bit more?"
"Yeah. I guess I'd better do that." This time, she laid down on her side across the seats, and she took the liberty to put her head in his lap. Again, his heart did something funny before he told it to behave itself, and to be able to think about something else than the sweet face that was currently in his lap, he took out his wand.
"Accio defence book", he said and started reading. Ah, it was good to be ahead of your class and already know half the spells you were supposed to learn in fourth year. However, it is unnecessary to mention that later on, he did not remember much of what he read that day.
The sight that would have greeted anyone passing by was absolutely lovely, but unfortunately, the only one who ever was lucky enough to see it, was someone that did not appreciate it. Almost an hour had passed since the girl had fallen asleep, when a snarky voice penetrated its way to Remus's ears.
"Well, well, well, isn't that a sight", a voice that Remus knew all too well drawled. Hermione stirred but did not wake up before Remus answered:
"Get out of here." He did not use any of the names the other marauders had come up with for the greasy Slytherin boy – not that he did not feel like it.
"Gotten yourself a girlfriend, have you, Lupin? Bet she's a mudblood like you and that other girl you hang out with…" Severus Snape leaned casually against the door frame, cold black eyes staring at the girl beside Remus.
To Remus's great surprise, the words that Snape said sparked a fire inside the girl and within half a second, she was wide awake, and angry.
"Get your sodding arse out of here, Snape", she hissed.
Snape did not show any reaction – at least if merely lifting an eyebrow does not count. "Watch your temper", was all he drawled before Remus softly interrupted:
"Quite sure of ourselves, aren't we, when my friends aren't here?"
"I was just about to ask why they've left you?"
"None of your business." Remus did not feel for a fight now, and definitely not this silly bickering with Snape. He should have known that he'd come running at some point, he always did. But somehow he had hoped that the presence of Hermione would drive him away. Alas, he had been wrong.
"Is she a mudblood?" he smirked.
That was it, Remus saw it. Hermione stood up and walked over to Snape, having drawn her wand. Perhaps not the most tactical thing to do, since Snape also noticed and drew his own, but that did obviously nothing to frighten Hermione. "No one calls me a mudblood!" She whispered and Remus had to admit that he was impressed with her tone.
"So you are one, then?"
"And your point is, Snape?" Hermione asked. "Not that I want to hear it – get your bloody arse and overly large nose out – of – here!" She waved a bit with her wand, not uttering any spell, though, but Snape still backed away.
"See you in Potions, Lupin", he said before turning his back towards the girl. Remus sighed – that sodding brat certainly knew how terrible he was at Potions…
Once he had disappeared, Hermione turned towards Remus who smiled wickedly at her. "Brilliant, Hermione, just brilliant!"
"Thanks." She smiled, but then a horrified look crossed her face. "Oh no – he's going to hate me! Why did I do that? Hermione, stupid cow, why didn't you think?"
"What does it matter if Snape hates you?" Remus was still smiling. "It's not as if you'd like to be friends with him anyway." He did not question her how she knew Snape but not him, although he found that a bit disturbing.
"Well, no, it's just that…" But she never said what was up and he did not want to press her either, though she did indeed look unhappy.
"Just remember, just because you aren't a Gryffindor, it doesn't mean you wouldn't have made Godric Gryffindor proud with that show. I'd say you'd make a wonderful Gryffindor."
"That's basically what the Sorting Hat told me."
"And it still put you in Ravenclaw?"
"If you need to know, people say I'm terribly brainy. I fit very well into my house." And Remus knew she was not lying – at the most, she was bending the truth and that was something Sirius had taught him to live with.
At that moment, the food trolley rolled past their compartment again.
"Would you like something more from the trolley, dears?" the witch asked.
"No thanks", Remus said after casting a questioning look at Hermione. "But could you tell me, Madame, if you've seen some of my friends?"
"The two ones who are too tall for their age and who always cause trouble and the little fat one? No, now that you mention it, my day has been quite uneventful. I'm sorry, lad, but I don't think they're here."
"Ok", Remus sighed. "Thanks anyway."
"They'll probably be waiting for you at Hogwarts, you'll see", the witch smiled and walked away.
After that, the journey went by quickly, almost too quickly in Remus's opinion. He noticed that Hermione was intelligent, despite the fact that she was a year younger than him, and they had many interests in common. They were both a bit of swotters, although Remus normally tried to deny that he was one, and the fact that his mother was a Muggle helped him understand her whose both parents were Muggles. They talked about books; Hermione seemed to prefer old Muggle classics when it came to fiction, but she also had a charming preference for books on facts on the most obscure kinds.
The weirdest part of the journy must have been when Hermione found an almost finished packet of chocolate and wondered if Remus would like some. He accepted, and he saw that she thought it utterly funny, but she would not tell him why.
"You will understand, in time", she said, her eyes glistening with humor. Then she laughed, and it made Remus's stomach flutter, and he found himself wishing that she had really been a Gryffindor instead of just being dressed as one. Future contacts had been so much easier had that been the case, although, for one of the four marauders, nothing would be impossible.
But he never saw her again after they had arrived at Hogwarts. They had shared a carriage and were among the first ones to reach the castle, and there they had run into Professor Dumbledore as he was about to enter the Great Hall.
Hermione had turned to Remus with a smile that was completely unintelligible. It had been thankful, happy and sad at the same time, and then she had leaned towards him and kissed him on the cheak.
"Thank you for a wonderful, absolutely lovely day", she whispered. "Now you go in there, I'm sure your friends are waiting, but I need to have a word with the headmaster. I'm sure we'll meet again." She winked, and gone she was, having walked over to Dumbledore.
Remus had not thought of anything to say, but gone into the Great Hall and been caught up by the three marauders who were, actually, already sitting at the Gryffindor table. They had overslept, just as he had thought, and only been halfway to King's Cross at the time of eleven o'clock, and then they had come to Hogwarts hours ago by the Knightbus. Not to mention that they had started on their latest plan to make life a living hell for Filch.
Now, nineteen years later, Remus finally understood it all. In vain had he looked for a Ravenclawgirl by the name Hermione, and in vain he had searched the Great Hall and the corridors for her face. He had never told his friends about her, and they often wondered why he was always staring at the Ravenclaw table.
The question was, of course, if it really could be that way. When he sat picking at his food during this Welcome feast, he made up his mind: he needed to know. He could have asked the Headmaster, but when he saw the grim, hateful looks that Snape were giving him, he decided he deserved to learn the truth from the girl herself. And, well, if she was not the same girl, then he'd live with it, but he did not want to hear it from Dumbledore. So when the feast was over, he managed to reach the three Gryffindor friends with whom he had shared the compartment and asked Harry if he was feeling all right. It seemed most logical to begin with addressing the boy who had actually got unconscious.
"Yes, Professor", answered the boy, who was so much like his father that it hurt to see, "I'm all right."
"Good to hear, Harry – and if you don't feel well, just have some more chocolate." Then he turned to the red head: "And you, – " Hell, he didn't remember the boy's name, if he had even heard it.
"Ron Weasly. Yes, I'm fine."
Ah, he should have guessed that it was a Weasly. And that left – "Hermione?"
She gave him a smile as secretive as the girl had just before leaving him nineteen years ago. "Yes, Professor, I'm a bit tired but beside that, I'm pefectly fine. But I'm afraid there's no chocolate left."
And the last, silly part of it all became clear. That nerve of a Gryffindor girl had actually offered him his own chocolate! He could not help but smile widely, though he refrained from commenting on the whole chocolate business, and instead he urged them to go to their Gryffindor tower. Just as they were about to leave, he could swear that Hermione whispered something that was only meant for him to hear: "Thanks again, Remus."
He smiled to himself when he was on his way to his quarters – not even the disgusted looks that Snape had given him as he passed him on his way out of the Great Hall could lower his spirits. He really looked forward to the lessons with the third year Gryffindors. The sunshine he had missed so much was back and now it was where it belonged. Certainly, that was way out of reach for him, but it was there and that was enough.
- Fin -
A/N: Those of you who know me, are aware that I normally prefer kind! Snape, but what is a train ride to Hogwarts without a snarky Slytherin interrupting? Besides, for your information, this is and will remain a one shot, although I could fancy writing a sequel. But mind you, I'm promising absolutely nothing!