Author's Note: Re-edit. Despite my promise to never write a multi-chapter piece again, I'm doing it. I love lying to myself. But I was completely inspired by the works of Rurouni Star, who got me hooked on SB/HG. She writes some amazing stuff kiddos, check it out for yourself.
Please remember that this is an AU storyline! Haha, obviously, right?
Panic. Absolute, heart-wrenching fear. It filled Hermione's heart as she realized she had run straight into a dead end. The men behind her had nearly caught up, laughing and teasing her as they knew they had won.
"Come on, sweetie, don't run so fast!" chuckled a tall, bald wizard close behind. "There's nowhere to hide! Make it easy on yourself!"
He was right; the room she had run into had no exits or places to hide. Just a few scattered tables cluttered with dark, glittering objects and a huge shelf that covered the back wall of the room. Hermione could hardly breathe as she ran to the back corner of the room, searching the shelves desperately for some weapon or distraction or anything. She cursed as her pale hands pushed aside an enchanted violin and jewel-studded hairbrush.
"Oh, Goddamn it, don't do this," she cursed breathlessly. She'd been here before, only two years ago, in this place that held the Ministry's darkest secrets and possessions. This room had held an assortment of weapons then, she remembered! All she could see here were ancient baubles and artifacts that perhaps belonged to famous witches and wizards.
The men, three of them dressed in billowing black robes, appeared at the large doorway behind her. Hermione was searching the shelves just above her on her tiptoes, hoping to find a wand or glass object that she could throw, have it shatter at their feet, giving her a moment to get away. Her fingertips grasped the edge of something large and heavy…
Hermione gasped as she felt the object above her head slip off the edge and crash to the ground. The Death Eater's spell should have knocked her off her feet, but the impact never came.
The glassy-eyed girl looked down at the ground in amazement, mindlessly picking up the enormous black shield that had saved her. Heavy, but apparently effective in blocking spells. Too perfect. With effort she raised the shield to cover her head and torso and ran to the other corner of the room. The four men overcame their surprise and began to head for her again. The young witch fought to think, but fear had numbed her senses.
I will not die here. I will not die here, not now, not on our graduation night. Harry, where's Harry? Did he get the Horcrux? Where is everybody? Oh no, I'm not going to die here, not here, no, no, no, no…
Something large and golden glittered on the wall before her, just beyond her reach. Her heart leapt and she reached out to snatch it, hoping feverishly it was a sword of weapon of some kind. But, as Fate would have it, she never got the chance. The large, bald Death Eater suddenly slammed into her shield and knocked her off balance into a large glass display case. It shattered beneath her head, causing spots and stars to burst before her eyes.
Blood rubies scattered across the floor in every which way. Hermione pushed blindly at the strong hands that had grabbed her arms and pulled her up off the floor.
"You're a load of trouble, you filthy little mudblood. Seems a shame to waste such pretty flesh, though," spoke a short man with spiked blonde hair. A dramatic sigh escaped him as his fingers twisted in her hair. Hermione flinched.
"You're disgusting," she hissed. His fingers tightened in her hair, pulling hard on her scalp. The young witch bit down on her lip, refusing to cry out.
"Say, Anthony, what do ya' think mudblood tastes like?" he asked with a smile.
"Like dirt. Just get this over with." The older man muttered, hiding his face carefully beneath his hood.
"We've got all the time in the world," the blonde crooned, his fingers moving to the collar of her school robes. "Crabbe and Charles have the little red-head and her two friends. I expect Goyle has already taken care of that ratty wolf-man. Been looking for him for a while, haven't we darling?"
Hermione stiffened, eyes narrowing. Lupin, Ginny, Neville, Luna… She prayed silently they were alright. But Harry, they obviously hadn't gotten Harry yet. They wouldn't be able to, not with Tonks and Kingsley and Moody there protecting him.
"Got something to say, love?" he whispered, lips brushing against her cheek. The poor girl shuttered, fury pulsing through her veins. The bald man grinned, turning to whisper something to 'Anthony'.
"Go to Hell." Hermione spat viciously, holding her head a little higher and giving the blonde man a very level look. Like in the chess games she was so used to playing, the powerless girl had reviewed every possible move she could make. There was no way to escape these four armed and dangerous wizards alone, Death Eaters no less, one of whom was carrying her wand in his pocket. Whatever tortures they were planning, Hermione knew too well that she'd rather be dead than discover them. No, she wanted to die bravely fighting until the end, not crying and begging for death at the feet of these filthy bastards. The world would expect no less from one of Harry Potter's closest friends. It didn't even matter that they probably wouldn't care. She expected no less from herself.
The spiky-haired blonde spat on her and grinned madly as the saliva slipped down her neck and disappeared beneath her school robes, leaving tiny droplets of spittle on the lion emblem on her chest.
"Do you know how pleased he'll be? The master's been waiting for Harry Potter for some time now, you know. With all the damage you've been doing, the master's been so angry. It's a shame he doesn't have his full strength back, but that'll change, won't it?"
The Horcruxes. Tell me Harry got this one. Tell me he's destroyed the fourth one. Oh my God, don't tell me they've got him. I don't believe it. I won't believe it. This isn't how I wanted my graduation night to go…
This time his tongue slid over her ear, teeth pulling gently on her earlobe. Hermione struggled vainly against his hold on her and felt her stomach turn and knot in terrible ways.
"He's all tied up, right there in the room of prophecies. Do you want to see him? Perhaps we'll make him watch as I torture you slowly. Cut off a few fingers, a little Crucio, maybe mangle you up to a point where they won't be able to recognize your body." The blonde purred, eyes alight with insanity as he pulled on her hair again. Hermione gasped, but held still. If she got out of this, somehow, she was going to kill him. She would kill all of them. Harry needed her now, and Lupin, and Ginny. They needed her and she couldn't reach them.
"And I-" he began, looking as if he had some particularly disgusting something to whisper into her ear. But the bald man suddenly laid a hand on his shoulder, turning to look out the doorway into the darkened hall. He opened his mouth to speak, but no sound came.
The room echoed with a sickening crunch as the bald man fell to his knees and collapsed lifelessly to the ground. A shadow reared up behind him and let out a wild cry as it lunged forward.
The Death Eater holding her paled and threw her to the side, pulling his wand out with quick and stumbling fingers. There was barely a second's pause before a stone tablet collided with his head as well, sending him sprawling across the floor. Hermione froze as the shadow moved towards her, dropping the half-broken tablet to the floor and reaching a hand out towards her neck…
A soft, tattered robe sleeve wiped away the spittle from her cheek and neck. Hermione almost cried in relief, squeezing Lupin's hand as he pulled her away from the two unconscious bodies on the floor. Anthony had disappeared amidst the confusion.
"Are you alright?" she whispered, stopping to reach into the bald man's pocket for her wand. Lupin nodded slowly, his eyes smoldering and muscles twitching. Deep inside her heart, she could see the werewolf in him clawing to get out. Four days too early.
It was an effect of heavy stress, activated as a very painful survival instinct. But now wasn't a time to worry about that; it was giving him that extra boost of energy he needed, if nothing else. Hermione felt a smile tugging on her lips as she found her wand, feeling just a little relieved.
"Remus, where is everyone else?"
He remained silent. And it occurred to Hermione then that he hadn't spoken a word to her yet, and that they weren't flying down the hallway to rescue Harry or Ginny's band yet. Either something was finally going their way, or something had gone horribly, horribly wrong.
To be honest, the last two years had been 'horribly wrong'. Dumbledore's death, Snape and Malfoy's disappearance, Harry running off on his own with Moody to train, her own desperate search for the Horcruxes with Lupin and what remained of the D.A., the deaths of more and more of their comrades…
"Hermione, this is unfair of me, but I need you to get out of here."
"Get out? I'm not going anywhere. They've got Ginny, Luna, and Neville just down the hall. If that hooded Death Eater hasn't got their attention already we can…"
Hermione stopped, staring at the awful, distressed look on his face. That once-handsome face now drained of all color, scarred and weary and old beyond all his years. Lupin shook his head now, staring deeply into her eyes.
"There's nothing we can do for them. Please Hermione, leave now."
The young witch opened her mouth in protest, but the tired man before her seemed ready for it.
"I'm sorry. I am so sorry, but you must understand. W-we'll collect the bodies afterwards. You know how battles go, my dear, dear girl." The words were spoken so softly that Hermione feared she might have heard him wrong.
"Harry?" the young witch breathed, trying to process the information in her mind. It was too unreal.
"Alive. I can't say for sure about the others, but this is out of my control now. A worn-out wizard and a young witch, no matter how bright, cannot take on a full congregation of Death Eaters. The Ministry may have given us a few hours to search here, but they'll seal us up in here without a moment's hesitation if we're still here. I need you to get out, Hermione."
"To go where? To get help?" she choked out, a few tears falling unbidden down her face. "Did you forget, Professor? The Ministry is neutral to our struggle! They won't waste reinforcements on us, not when they've already gone to the trouble of letting us in here. There's nobody left alive to get help from!"
The older man twitched a little more, but his amber eyes were locked in deadly calm. "No, my dear, I haven't forgotten. But Arthur and Molly's boys, they'll take care of you until I get back."
"I'm not going anywhere," she gritted out. "I don't think they'll want to see me, what with Ron missing and their parents and sister dead. I'm not leaving you, Lupin. If you're going to rescue Harry, I'll be going with you."
A marred and shaking hand settled on her shoulder, pulling her closely into a tight hug. A long hug filled with 'thank you' and 'goodbye' and 'I'm so sorry' and so many other words.
"It's unfair of me, Hermione," he whispered, his head resting on her shoulder. The witch trembled, stubbornly unwilling to put her arms around him. They'd hugged so many times before, getting her through the nightmares and the funerals and the hopeless research that never seemed to fix their problems. But now that he needed her, she was unwilling to give.
"I just need you to be safe. Just one person, safe. Please do this for me. If I don't come back, I just need to know you're there, alive, and safe."
"Someone to carry on the fight when no one else is left," she whispered back, feeling his grip on her loosen. They'd spent too long in the room talking already, and now they needed to move, just the two of them, to get what nine had originally come for.
"Go, Hermione. I'll follow shortly behind, I promise." Remus said softly, releasing her slowly and backing away.
Hermione's attention was completely concentrated on the sudden plans she was furiously trying to come up with, trying to find a way around her old Professor or maybe someone else she could turn to for help. It was almost understandable, then, that she didn't see the five shadows coming down the hallway until it was too late.
One large wizard's stunning spell could have knocked her off her feet. Three powerful stunning spells sent her flying backwards, slamming with incredible force into the wall. It disrupted a hanging rack on the wall, the one that glittered brightly with gold, and it came crashing down over her head.
When the first shard of glass touched its edge to the cold floor, Time did a very cowardly thing. It covered its eyes, held its breath, and stood very still.
For one glorious, abstract moment, Hermione could see from behind the messy curtain of her curly hair the horrified expression on Lupin's face. He was turning towards her, ignoring the furious Death Eaters at his back, and was reaching out a hand to catch her. The two stunning spells that had been sent his way had bounced off his body, hardly affecting him the way they were intended to. Werewolves had always posessed an uncanny ability to deflect spells, and it was more evident than ever that Remus Lupin was quickly returning to that inhuman form.
Untimely werewolves were terribly dangerous creatures, even more so than their regular counterparts, and these bastards would realize that soon enough. She could see them, too; all five were only inches from her old mentor, their intentions painfully clear.
Perfectly. Utterly. Useless.
It was a fleeting thought that raced through her mind as she fell to the ground for a second time, glass and gold overwhelming her vision.
We graduated and died today. Oh God, I'm so useless…
Amidst this sudden, suffocating chaos, Hermione was aware of something falling softly about her hair and neck. Long, looping chains of gold. Some fell to the floor, some shattered. One wrapped itself along the tips of her fingers, over the hand she had lifted upwards to shield her face.
Time started to breathe slowly again, beginning to peek between its fingers to see if it was okay to look. And when it did, it snapped back to attention and had a long, hard laugh at Miss Hermione Granger, Hogwart's most prized seventh year student and almost-savior of the wizarding world.
What then filled her senses was not the sound of Lupin's bewildered cry, nor the sensation of glass embedding itself into her skin. Instead, it was something much more strange and familiar.
It was the rush of time. And it came crashing down over her in a way far different from what she had ever remembered. It was folding and pushing against itself in an unnatural way, pulling at her in two separate directions with the strongest force she had ever experienced. Invisible lines cut through her where there should have been solid flesh and bone, locking into place and pulling apart as if they'd were razor sharp. Part of her was falling endlessly backwards, pushing her stomach up into her throat and sending her head reeling in shock and panic. Another part was flying forward, crying out in a silent scream for mercy.
For one terrifying second, or perhaps for a terrifying eternity, Hermione was lost in a sea of nothingness. Outside and inside her mind and body there was a deep, muffled blast that stripped her of her senses. And when the blast ended, solid ground slipped beneath her shaking legs. Glass-less, blood-less marble, accompanied by a very familiar and very empty room.
Hermione Granger was out cold before she hit the floor.
Time is a very dangerous thing.
That is the reality of things, so you'd better get over whatever romantic notions you had about it. Time travel is science, not history…
Now, there are three things that you must remember before you explore time: mass cannot be created or destroyed. So no matter what happens, you will not disappear into oblivion when you flip that little timeturner in your hands. If you left from one place, you will indefinitely return to that same exact place no matter how far back in time you try to go.
Also, time can be traveled only so far into the past, and never, ever the future. Any attempts to travel too far back will result in a fourth-dimensional whiplash that will most likely kill you.
Lastly, at all costs, avoid trying to change the past. Bad things happen to people who meddle with it. If you can, drop this book and burry your time travel devise. It isn't worth the repercussions. An attempt to save an old friend or get rich will more likely than not unravel into your demise.
The past should be left well alone…
-Introduction of "Dunce's Guide to Time Travel" by John Amos