Disclaimer: JKR owns the Harry Potter characters within. Audrey Niffenegger's book Time Traveller's Wife is my inspiration for the concepts regarding time and time travel. If you haven't read this book, then please do (right after reading and reviewing this story of course!)
Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
She finds the Time Turner in a dusty old thrift shop she had wandered into while Harry and Ron drool over the latest racing broom. Her hand hesitates over it; she thought they had all been destroyed. She ventures to guess that the owner of the shop doesn't even know it's here, tucked away in a moldy old box with what looked like some old costume jewelry.
She hasn't used one since her disastrous third year. Flashes of fatigue, the constant scrambling to make sure she wasn't seen, and desperate attempts to remember where she was supposed to be when haunts her even as she stares down at the precious item before her.
Many times, she had wondered why she hadn't used it in the evening to finish her homework or catch a few extra hours of sleep. Surely, she could have used an empty classroom to do her Potions essays while her other self sat laughing while Harry and Ron invented dire deaths for their Divination homework. She knew why; it had been against the rules and the rules had been something she was loathe to break back then. Now, however, is a different story altogether.
Seeing it, sparkling before her now, she thinks of OWLs, of the war against Voldemort, and the time she misses being with friends because of the other two. Her hand stays suspended over the box for several minutes before she makes her decision. Shutting the lid firmly, she turns and starts to walk away. But it calls to her. No one would have to know.
"How much for that box there and everything in it?" she asks the ancient shopkeeper. He sits slumped over a copy of the Daily Prophet. He had barely acknowledged her presence when she entered the shop. He looks up at her now with a thinly disguised look of impatience.
"That box there?" he asks.
"Yes, I need something to store my quills and other things in." She doesn't know why she invents the lie, but she feels compelled to explain her interest in the old thing. But the shopkeeper seems not to care.
"Fine." She hands him the money, grabs the box and leaves. She endures the latest Quidditch news from Harry and Ron on the way back to the castle, all the while thinking of the treasure she has discovered. Once safely ensconced in her room, she draws it out of the box and gingerly places it around her neck, tucking it out of sight under her sweater.
'I'll only use it for legitimate purposes," she promises herself. She can't let things get out of hand, not like last time. And she can't get caught.
The first time it happens, she is caught off guard. She only meant to go back 2 hours, not 20 years. Hermione wonders how far back she has traveled, when someone comes barreling through the door. She barely has time to register that it is a boy, tall, with dark hair, before he descends upon her, grabbing her to him. He crushes her to him in a tight embrace and then kisses her with an intensity that startles her.
"I'm so glad to see you," he says, when he finally lifts his head.
"Who are you? What do you think you're doing?" she demands.
"Holly, it's me Severus," he says, looking at her strangely. She stares at him in disbelief. Severus? She only knows one man named Severus, and he is not a spotty teenage boy.
He certainly resembles Professor Snape, slightly taller than her with greasy black hair. This can't be happening, she thinks in a panic, but then Professor McGonagall's words echo in her head as the blood pounds in her ears.
More powerful witches and wizards than you or I, dear girl, have ended up stuck in the past or worse yet, changed their own futures. You must be careful not to be seen by anyone!
Black and green blur her vision, and her knees sway. Strong arms support her, and she finds herself being helped into a chair.
"This is the first time for you, isn't it?" the boy asks. She nods vaguely, unaware of what he really means. It certainly is the first time she has ever traveled back this far.
"Is your family name Snape?" she asks, her head finally clearing. He looks at her surprised, but nods. Her stomach turns uncomfortably as she realizes the implications of what she has done.
"So you do remember," her future professor says with a shy smile. He reaches down and brushes the hair from her face, tucking an errant lock behind her ear. "Do you want some Pepperup Potion? You look a little pale." She shakes her head, trying to decide what to do next.
"I need to get back," she says weakly.
"So soon? I wanted to show you something," he says, taking her hands and pulling her up. He leads her through the halls and she prays that no one else sees her. Enough damage has been done already.
"Here it is," he says finally, stopping in a deserted hallway. They stand staring at an empty wall while a suit of armor snickers nearby. "Ouvra." He taps his wand on the third stone from the right. Inside there is a long table with several bubbling cauldrons.
"What is all this?" she asks, her curiosity getting the better of her.
"It's my own private lab. Isn't it great?" he tells her. Letting go of her hands, he picks up a long spoon and begins stirring one of the potions, a bright purple concoction. "I'm working on a potion that makes the drinker very, shall we say, desirable."
She looks at him surprised, "I thought love potions were illegal?"
"It's not a love potion. It makes the drinker more interesting, more exciting to the people around them."
"I can teach you how to bottle fame," she quotes without thinking.
"Exactly! Except that I haven't perfected it yet."
"You would want to make sure that the drinker becomes famous, not infamous," she says with a smile.
"A subtle yet very important difference," he agrees. "I slipped a trial sample into Avery's tea the other morning and by lunchtime no one could stop talking about how he had fallen from his broom from a height of fifty meters during Quidditch the week before. Not quite the kind of exposure I'm looking for."
"What are you looking for?"
"Fame, fortune, a beautiful girl," he says softly, moving closer. Hermione can feel his breath on her cheek as his arms move up to encircle her. "I've missed you," he whispers into her ear before burying his face in her hair. She tenses, searching for the right words, but a loud ruckus from the other side of the wall interrupts her thoughts. Snape pulls away from her, and points his wand at the entrance.
"Open up, Snivellus, we know you're in there!"
"Black," he says to her in the way of explanation. "You should go now. I'll deal with them." She stands staring at him. How was she to return home without him seeing her use the Time Turner?
"But…," she protests.
"Go, Holly," he orders her, sounding more like the Snape she knew from Potions classes. He turns back to her, kissing her lightly on the lips and at the same time pulls her Time Turner from under her blouse.
"B-but how do you…?" she stammers. He doesn't give her time to finish the question. With a quick flick of his finger, he twirls the Time Turner, and then steps back.
Hermione arrives back in her own time, more nauseous than ever, and wondering what has just happened.
The second time she goes back that far it is with a purpose. She has seen Professor Snape over the Christmas hols, bloody and broken, yelling at Moody and Lupin about sparing him during battles with Death Eaters. It gives her pause. And she begins to see him in a completely new light. He deserves better than to be mistreated by both sides in this war. If only had someone to guide him, to warn him, when he was younger.
And then she thinks of Holly and how enamored of her he seemed to be. And so she develops a plan. She will be the one to tell him. She will be the one to guide him. Locking herself in a quiet classroom, she turns the hourglass back.
Just like before the ground beneath her spins away. When the classroom finally comes back into focus, she realizes that she isn't alone.
"Right on time," the younger Snape says.
"What time is that?"
"Immediately following dinner on March 8th."
"Oh," she answers weakly. Traveling this far is hard on her equilibrium.
"Here." He shoves a vial into her hands. "Drink this, you'll feel better." She sips at the blue liquid, then gulps it down when she realizes that it is a stomach potion.
"Better?" She nods.
"How is the private lab progressing?" she asks, trying to be conversational. She suddenly realizes that she has little to no plan on how to proceed. She decided that she was going to 'save' Snape from his future bad decision, but she has no idea how to go about it.
"Lab?" He raises one eyebrow. She frowns. Apparently, she has come back earlier than the last time. "I love it when you do that."
"Tell me something inadvertently. You are so careful most of the time not to reveal my future or any personal information about yourself. It makes for a nice change."
"Is that so?" He nods. Grabbing her hand, he leads her from the room.
"Where are we going?" she asks.
"To my new private lab." She stops, pulling her hand from his.
"No, we're not. You don't know where it is yet."
"You won't show me?" His expression is crestfallen. She shakes her head. He is right, she shouldn't be giving him too much information about the future. It's too dangerous. She needs to give him just enough to convince him not to join Voldemort. But it will be trickier than she had first thought. She is coming back to random times in his past. She doesn't think it wise to show up out of nowhere and just announce that he should avoid any men with snakelike eyes with delusions of grandeur. Lord Voldemort tricked Snape. He lured and seduced him to his side. Hermione would have to have equal finesse to convince him to work against him.
"How about a walk around the lake instead?" He nods in agreement.
"So you were expecting me tonight?" she asks nonchalantly as they walk.
"Of course I was," Snape answers. "You told me most every date you would appear when I was eleven, although you show up other times too. And then there were the rules."
"Oh, yes of course," she says, feigning complete understanding. "Let's review the rules shall we." She hopes she didn't offend him with her highhanded manner, but she doesn't want to appear unknowledgeable about the rules she has set herself.
"You're upset that I wanted to see the lab," he accuses, stopping as they reached the front door of the castle.
"A little, but I understand. It's hard."
"Yes it is," he says sullenly.
"Does this mean you don't want to walk around the lake?" He sulks for a few moments more, but finally turns in the direction of the door.
"So, the rules?" she prompts.
"Fine," he huffs. "No asking questions about the future. No asking questions about you. No telling anyone about your visits. And lastly no trying to find you."
Those seem reasonable enough to her. It appears that sometime in her near future she would travel back to see Severus and relate these rules to him. The thought boggles her mind. Has she really made up these rules then? He has been the one to relay them to her, but he has gotten them from her.
She decides not to think too hard about it. She has a mission to fulfill. If her future is to change it would be because his had.
"Who's this? Finally found a girlfriend, have we?" a haughty voice says from behind them. Snape wheels around, drawing out his wand. Hermione turns to see two girls—one with long white-blond hair, the other darker, but they both have the same nose, the same shape of eyes.
"Just because you wouldn't have me, doesn't mean no one would, Narcissa," Snape spits. Hermione stifles a gasp as she realized who she is looking at. This is Narcissa and Bellatrix Black.
"Some of us will settle only for the very best. Others aren't as lucky," Narcissa says, looking Hermione up and down and wrinkling her nose.
"Snape's lucky to have anyone," Bellatrix says with a harsh laugh.
"Let's go, Severus," she says, pulling at his hand. He turns reluctantly and follows her. They walk away quickly, the silence heavy and tense between them. They finally stop at a bend in the lake to sit on a nearby bench.
"You're not really my girlfriend," he says, breaking the silence. She looks over at him cautiously.
"I'd like you to be. He turns to her. She gulps. This is more than she has planned for, but nothing less than she should have expected after her last visit.
"But," he interrupts her.
"But it would be difficult. You must see that." She tries to be gentle. He has just faced severe rejection by the Black sisters. She doesn't wish to compound that with one of her own.
"Difficult but not impossible," he says, taking her hand and running his thumb over her knuckles. She looks down at their hands and then back up at him.
"I don't know…." But he stills her statement by covering her mouth with his. It's all wrong, and in her gut, she realizes she is his first kiss.
"I should go," she says when he pulls away, not knowing what else to say. His smile falters.
"You'll come back?"
She reaches for the Time Turner. What has she gotten herself into?
The third and fourth time she goes back, she finds an empty classroom. It isn't until three days later that it hits her, sitting in Potions class, listening as Professor Snape lectures on boomslang skin, that she thinks of a Tracking Charm. As long as she is at Hogwarts, it should allow her to make sure she arrives in his vicinity when she travels back. All she needs is a strand of hair to cast the charm.
Luckily, for her, his hair is long and sheds. She finds just what she needs on the foot of his chair. Unluckily for her, he catches her snooping.
"What are you doing in here?" a voice demands from the doorway. Hermione looks up to see Professor Snape standing there looking furious. He has his wand out and pointed at her.
"I forgot my bag," she lies.
"Behind my desk?"
"It wasn't at mine. I—I thought perhaps you had found it and put it up here for safekeeping."
"I did find it," he says silkily as he comes closer. She straightens up, taking a small step back.
"It's on your shoulder." He points at her. She gulps. It is a stupid lie and he has caught her in it.
"Do you want to know what I think, Miss Granger?"
"You are a cheater. You're a sneak. I won't stand for it."
"Sir, I can explain—"
"I'd rather not hear any more of your lies. Detention with me tomorrow at 8:00 sharp."
"Yes, professor," she says with her head bowed.
She does not argue.
Her detention is predictably horrible, but in the end, it is worth the trouble. She goes back at least once a week after that. A later Snape gives her the dates that she then relays to a quivering first year while he waits to be Sorted.
"What House do you want to be in?" she asks.
"I don't care," he says sullenly and she wonders if he has ever been happy.
"Gryffindor is a nice House," she offers, thinking this is a chance to change his future. "Or Ravenclaw."
"Who are you again?"
"A friend. My name is Holly," she tells him. "Did you write down the dates? I'll be dropping in now and then to see you and make sure you're doing okay."
He doesn't respond. Professor McGonagall calls them away before he can. Hermione crosses her fingers and hopes for the best, watching from a hidden corner.
Her heart drops when the Hat calls out Slytherin almost the moment it is dropped on his head.