Disclaimer: All characters in Harry Potter belong to JKRowling, Bloomsbury, Warner Bros, etc... No infringement intended and no monetary benefits made.
Hermione Granger stared unseeingly at the sickeningly dark green potion bubbling in front of her. She was lost in the thoughts of her past, which now seemed like a faraway dream.
A voice from the doorway pulled her out of her thoughts.
"Okay Hermione?" Tonks asked her, her eyes wandering over to the potion in front of Hermione.
"Yeah… I'm fine, Tonks. The potion will be ready in a few hours," Hermione informed emotionlessly.
A disturbed look flashed over the Metamorphagus' face and she walked into the dark, tiny room towards Hermione. "I don't want you to do it, Hermione. It's very risky."
"I have to do it, Tonks. You don't understand," Hermione replied blankly, her face still emotionless.
"Hermione, you're not the only one who has lost their loved ones. I lost my parents and Remus... and a lot of other important people to me. But we've got to move on and do what has to be done."
"No, Tonks, there's nothing left to be done."
"What do you mean there's nothing left to be done?!" Tonks almost screamed. "What about Ken? What if your potion fails and you die instead? Are you going to leave Ken alone?"
"Ken is a lot more mature and independent than I was when I was his age. He'll be fine. Besides, he has the rest of you to look after him," Hermione stated.
"But it isn't the same as having his own parents!" Tonks exclaimed, frustrated at Hermione's stubbornness.
"If Harry could survive all those years of his life without his parents, so can Ken. Besides, he'll be twelve soon and he would have been already in Hogwarts had it been open," Hermione retorted.
"Ken is not his father!" Tonks exploded. She took calming breaths, trying to get her anger under control while Hermione continued to look nonchalantly at her. "Hermione, why won't you see reason? Harry is dead and you can't do anything about it. You have to let him go and concentrate on your future with your son."
"Tonks… before I take the potion tonight, I need to tell you something very important... something I've kept secret for a long time. You won't stop me after you hear what I have to say," Hermione said, sadness shadowing her hardened face for the first time since the conversation began.
"Then tell me!"
"Can you go and get Fred please? I'll tell the two of you together. I don't want to have to repeat," Hermione requested.
Releasing a long sigh, Tonks left the dim basement in search of Fred, leaving Hermione alone with her thoughts again.
"Even if I die because of the potion, it won't make much difference. Voldemort's dark reign will continue with or without me," she thought darkly.
Her mind reeled back to twelve years ago when Harry was murdered during their honeymoon by Voldemort who had possessed Draco Malfoy's body. She could not help but think of it constantly and blamed herself for Harry's death.
"Hermione?" Fred's voice startled her from her musings. "Tonks said you have something to tell us?" he inquired.
"Yes... what I'm going to tell you two is very important. You must promise me that both of you will keep it a secret," Hermione demanded. Fred and Tonks nodded their consent, "I think you both should take a seat," Hermione said.
"Do you remember the prophecy that Voldemort lured Harry to steal for him? It broke during the fight with the Death Eaters at the Ministry, but the contents were not lost to us," she started. And then she told them… she told them everything from the prophecy to the horcruxes and they listened raptly, their faces becoming more horror-struck as her story went on.
"You're saying Harry's scar was an unintentional eighth horcrux?" Tonks asked seriously.
"Yes, Voldemort was gloating about it before he killed Harry," Hermione said bitterly.
"But why did Voldemort have to possess Malfoy? Wouldn't it be easier to possess Harry since his soul fragment was already inside Harry?" Fred asked.
"My theory is that Harry fought it out of his body… after all, Harry had his completely intact soul whereas it was only a fragment of Voldemort's. So, the host has to be willing in order for the soul to take possession of the body. I'm sure Malfoy was more than willing," Hermione told them.
"We thought Harry had finished him off during the battle at Hogwarts," Tonks stated sadly.
"We all did Tonks… we all did," Hermione muttered more to herself than to Tonks.
"Why didn't you tell us earlier Hermione? You shouldn't have carried the burden alone. You should've told us… didn't you trust us?" Fred said.
"I trust you but I was afraid if I told you, you would all lose hope and I couldn't let that happen. As dire as the situation is, we still need brave people to stand up against Voldemort especially for those who can't stand up for themselves," Hermione explained solemnly.
"Maybe you're right. We've been fighting in this war for eighteen years… we've lost more loved ones than we can count and now we learn that there's no chance of ever winning," Fred said. His once playful personality disappeared completely when George died ten years ago.
"I think now I can understand why you're so adamant about this potion," Tonks said, her face as serious and grim as her two companions.
"Yes, Tonks, I have to do this. I spent the last eight years finding the ingredients and finally, it's ready now. But you must promise me something… both of you," she implored. "Should I fail, the magic overload will kill me. Please take care of Ken if such things happen. But if I succeed, this plane of existence should no longer exist," she said the last part in a whisper.
"We will protect him with our lives," Tonks promised and Fred nodded.
"I've already explained things to him and said goodbye yeste-"
"You told him everything?" Tonks gasped.
"Not everything but enough for him to understand why I need to do this. I told you Ken is very mature."
"Hermione… you do realize that you will still lose him even if the potion is a success, don't you?" Fred asked tentatively.
"I know, Fred. But I must do this. It's for the best… even for Ken since his life as it is right now is bleak and without any prospects," Hermione replied, sighing as she thought of her twelve-year-old son who, with messy raven hair and green eyes, looked like an exact replica of his father. "Well... I've said all that needs to be said. Can you guys leave me with my thoughts until the potion is ready?"
"Hermione, are you absolutely sure you want to do this?" Fred asked for the hundredth time that night.
"Fred… Tonks has been discouraging me not to do it ever since she found out about the potion months ago. I'm not changing my mind now," she asserted firmly.
Fred signed in defeat and nodded. "Very well. I should know... once you put your mind to something, nobody can stop you. Just how far will the potion take you back anyway?"
"Technically, it won't take me back. Instead it takes my memory back and my younger self at that time will have all the knowledge I possess now. I can't say exactly how far back but definitely more than ten years… it depends on how powerful I am. The potion had only been done twice before… at least that's what was recorded in the book I found. Once in the 900's and the other one was in the 1100's. In the first one, the drinker was sent 25 years back in time; the second one, 17 years."
Fred and Tonks contemplated what Hermione said in silence until she broke it.
After placing locking, silencing and shield charms on the basement of their hide-out, Fred and Tonks stood at one corner with their own protective bubble around themselves.
Hermione took out the phoenix ash from her robes; it was one of the most difficult ingredients to obtain because phoenixes were rare creatures and not only that, she also had to find one on its burning day and take the ash quickly before it could be reborn. Afterwards the ash had to be put under a difficult stasis charm to prevent rebirth of the phoenix.
Taking a deep breath, she added the phoenix ash before stirring the potion clockwise. It began to sizzle and turned from dark green to blue. She muttered a long string of difficult Latin words waving her wand in intricate patterns over the potion and soon enough, a bright white beam slowly emerged from the tip of her wand and entered the potion. A counter-clockwise stir followed before Hermione took out a knife and cut her wrist, allowing blood to fall into the potion drip by drip.
She whispered the last incantation and a burst of magic flowed out of her and into the potion, which started to shimmer with white light. Hermione wasted no time in filling up a goblet. Her eyes landed on her long-time friend and with a nod, she drank the sparkling potion.
Tonks and Fred waited with bated breath as Hermione downed the potion in one gulp. She staggered a few steps before her whole body shimmered and started to shine like a bulb. The air crackled with the rising levels of magic as Tonks and Fred speechlessly watched Hermione grow brighter and brighter in front of them. Before they could move, a pulse of magical energy hit them, throwing them into the wall.
Trying to get up onto their feet, they could feel life force sapping and the light had partially blinded their eyes. They couldn't move and they couldn't see… darkness had consumed them.
A second later, they knew no more of the world.
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