Author's Note: This chapter and the next will show the story leading up to Hermione's and Sirius' relationship, and probably answer a few questions about how the timetravel situation worked out. Point: The next two chapters take place in the past.
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Hermione rushed into her dorm room and emptied her bag, voiding it of all books. She stole a few more from beneath her bed, and quickly shoved them in the bag. She then proceeded to toss it over her shoulder.
She gave Crooks a quick scruff behind the ears, and turned around to lift an apple off of the tray on her desk. McGonagall had admonished her eating habits a few days prior, so Hermione made a point to attempt to make time for food, but it was tough. There were so many classes, and there were so many assignments; food became secondary to her schoolwork.
She quickly took a few bites out of the apple, and placed it back on the tray. She checked one last time to make sure that her books were all tucked away in her bag, and lifted her hands to the golden chain around her neck.
Hermione did the math in her head quickly – determining that she needed to go back four hours – and carefully moved the small knob back until it clicked four times.
And then Crookshanks pounced on her, jerking her hand backward, and she felt the knob slide out of her grasp, quickly losing track of the amount of clicks with a growing amount of horror. The knob eventually stopped clicking, because its spins were so out of control. It became a constant whirring sound, and it showed no intentions of stopping, She hardly had enough time to throw a glance in Crooks' direction before she felt the air around her confine itself, almost as if it were attempting to squeeze her out of it.
She struggled to breathe for a few minutes, and then landed rather suddenly with a harsh crash in her very same room.
But Hermione was not foolish enough to believe that she was in the very same time.
Some girls were climbing the stairs – only two or so, Hermione judged by their footfalls – and after a quick assessment of the situation, she threw herself into the bathroom and jumped behind a shower curtain.
"Really, Mira," an exasperated girl sighed, "I can't understand why you would want to be with him; he's already had mostly everyone in school!"
"Just because you've got your sights set on James Potter doesn't mean the rest of us haven't got the right to ogle his mates," the girl called Mira responded cheekily. "And besides, Sirius is much better looking."
"The rest of the female population agrees with you," the other girl murmured, having given up long ago on protesting the infatuation that her friends all assumed that she secretly harbored for James Potter.
"Lily, really, I'm not looking for a long-lasting love. I want a casual fling, and Sirius is just the bloke for it."
Lily sighed again, clearly disgruntled with her friend's low standards.
Hermione could hear them rustling about, but she wasn't paying attention. Her blood ran cold. She was at school with Harry's parents. Dread settled in the pit of her stomach. She forced her breaths to even out before she had a full blown panic attack.
That would have to wait until they left.
"Do you have my Astronomy text, Lily? Thanks. You know, you've really got to stop taking my books, Lils. I know you've got some strange affinity for learning, but you know McGonagall's only looking out for you by putting a limit on your classes. I think you should respect that, and maybe consider lightening your load a bit."
"I'm fine," Lily insisted. "I just enjoy reading about the other courses that I brushed off, is all."
Hermione heard the pair of them laugh, and soon after their voices trailed off as they traveled down the steps and back into the common room.
Finally allowing a small amount of panic to settle in, Hermione paced the floor of the loo. What was she supposed to do? Timeturners didn't turn time forward! The only record of twisting time back for longer than a week previous was from a man who was, in her time, three centuries old. He had never returned to his proper generation, and had lived onward from the point that he had traveled back to in the past. It was not common to travel back for more than a few hours, and even worse – it was not approved of. There was a reason that all timeturners were kept within the Ministry, and it was to keep things like this from happening.
So how would she get back? They'd never exactly trained her for "in case of emergency" situations. She had no one to go to, no one to harass for answers. And she hated not having answers.
She inhaled slowly, ebbing the panic away with patience and logic.
She surely would not allow herself to be stuck in this time period, if only because she knew how it turned out, and knew that it wasn't pretty. She couldn't change the past, she knew, although she was sorely tempted to try it. But there was no telling what that would do for the future.
And she was getting ahead of herself, anyway. She hopefully wouldn't be here for that long. And she hopefully wouldn't become close enough to anyone for it to make a difference.
But she needed a step-by-step plan. Hermione Granger was a very intelligent, logical being; her mind was not settled until she knew what she was doing and what she was dealing with. Right now, she knew the situation, but she needed some sort of solid, feasible strategy.
Appearance first, then. She knew for a fact that she'd be seeing Remus and Sirius sometime in the future, and neither of them had ever given any indication that they'd seen her before, so it would remain that way. Glamour charms were a must.
Setting out to complete that seemingly minor task was more difficult that one might've imagined. Hermione spent a moment of regret before following through with it. She'd never been much into make up or clothes; she was a firm believer in the fact that personality outshone appearances, and that although looks were nice, if you weren't fortunate enough to be graced with them then it was safer and better to just use what you had. In her case, that was her intelligence, and that was the one thing that she'd always been confident in.
Perhaps her hair wasn't the most attractive, and her teeth had once been a bit too large for what was considered average. And maybe she wasn't terribly interested in fashion or the latest trends. But no one denied her intelligence. That was her forte, her strong suit, and she'd stuck close by it.
It felt a bit like self-betrayal to change her image, and more than a bit hypocritical of her. It took a moment of persuasion in order to convince herself that this was not the same, because this matter – this traveling back in time and potentially mucking up the future – was far bigger and reached far beyond where she stood.
With one final grimace at herself in the mirror, Hermione sighed and took her wand out from the pockets of her robes. She charmed her hair so that it was more of a sunkissed blonde than brunette, but managed it in a tasteful manner – in other words, one that didn't make her look like the stereotype a muggle cheerleader – and she moderated her curls until they were waves, instead.
It took a lot of coaxing to change her eyes. It wasn't that they were special or unique, it was more that they described her. She'd always held an above-average capacity for knowledge, and perhaps an above-average capacity for caring. She'd learned, however, to temper how much compassion and intelligence she could visibly express.
People tended to abuse common kindness and manipulate those who possessed it, and her cleverness had always seemed to aggravate people. She'd acknowledge and accepted that. So she'd buried those traits inside of her, but they always escaped through her eyes, no matter what she tried. And she'd always been slightly pleased with it.
It was very difficult to take a wand and conjure a pair of color contacts – quite a feat, considering she'd never really studied a pair of them before – and placed the seagreen-colored lenses in her eyes.
There wasn't much that she could do to change her body shape, or the contours of her face, but she did endeavor to change her stance to give herself a taller appearance, and arranged her hair in a different manner to make herself a bit more unrecognizable.
And she could hardly recognize herself.
Scrunching her nose in distaste, Hermione sighed. She didn't want this. She didn't want to change herself, she didn't want to deal with new classmates and questions, and most of all she didn't want to be here. She loved her stupid, fat, lazy cat, but right at that moment, Hermione wanted nothing more than to lock the feline in his most hated crate and keep him there for a month.
That was unethical, of course, and she would never do that to poor Crooks, but it was a fleeting thought that she had trouble suppressing.
Frowning, Hermione sat on the edge of the tub and dropped her head into her hands. A disgruntled thought passed through her mind that her pseudo-hair felt like straw between her fingers, even if it did perhaps look nice.
She brushed the thought away. She'd managed the first part of the plan; now she needed more steps. She needed to talk to Dumbledore. What would she say?
"Hello, sir. I'm a timetraveler, see, and I was hoping that perhaps you might have a space available for me in your classes. Any possible openings?"
Hermione snorted. No, that wouldn't do at all. She needed a legit story – and preferably one where she wouldn't entirely have to lie, but perhaps only bend the truth a bit. She did, after all, have to keep in mind that this was Dumbledore, and he had a strange talent for knowing what was right and wrong, even if he wasn't entirely aware of the backdrop of the situations.
She could afford to be vague, she thought. Perhaps she could tell him that she'd been at a fifth year level elsewhere. She would have to rid of her Gryffindor robe, of course, and temporarily transfigure her school uniform into something more suitable – like jeans, maybe. That would take care of both the lack of clothing and the acknowledgment of her presence here.
But how would she explain her presence here?
This question posed the most difficulty for her. She could say that she was a transfer student, but she had no parents to verify and sign for it, let alone the recommendations of her "former teachers."
It might be possible to tell the headmaster that she'd been homeschooled by a godparent, who had been killed in a recent accident. She felt guilty for making up the scenario, but there was no truth that she could bend that would allow for a new student without a parent's consent. A lie would have to suffice, despite the discontent that immediately started gnawing and nibbling at her insides.
Settled on her course of action, despite the obvious lack of detail, she stood to transfigure her clothing and discard her robes. She could've thought for hours longer about a proper story and situation, but she simply didn't have the time. She didn't want the dorms' inhabitants to find a random stranger mulling over the cruelties of life and cats in their restroom, and quite frankly, the sooner she spoke to Dumbledore the more at peace she felt she could be.
Not that she was expecting the duration of her time in this generation to be peaceful.