Hermione was gone.
Gone, disappeared, missing, whatever you call it when someone clears away their entire life and vanishes.
No one knew what had made her leave, but there was no doubt that they would not expect her back. All of the possessions in her flat had been donated to charity and all her bank accounts closed. She turned in her notice at work unexpectedly and disconnected her fireplace from the Floo network the very next morning. There were no tearful goodbyes, no apologies. There was not a trace of her to be found anywhere. It was as if this "Hermione Granger" simply did not exist.
All that was left was a small book wedged in the crack of stone between the stones of her fireplace. In her careful planning and hasty departure, it had slipped her mind. And so as all things ironic go, it would be this very book which spelled the undoing of her flawless plan.
No one could understand why a woman of twenty-five would suddenly vanish as she had, just as she meant for it to be. After all, no one can begin to look for you if they did not know why you'd left. Apparation only took you so far so her closest friends could only search all trains and buses for any record of her having traveled, but to their dismay, none were to be found. Harry Potter suggested the theory that she had traveled by broom, but that was quickly turned down for the absurdity of Hermione ever being on a broom.
Then again, perhaps it was possible, given the absurdity of the situation itself.
It was a fair afternoon when Ronald Weasley ran his hands over the mantle and unearthed the little book. It was just an ordinary book, void of spells and charms. His heart swam in his chest when he saw Hermione's neat and slanted writing. He missed her terribly.
I hate diaries. I hate the very idea, but I have encountered something which will suffocate me if I do not pass it onto the calm of parchment. It made me obsess with such a strong compulsion that I cannot ignore it for even a second.
I shook a pair of beautiful hands today.
They were large and clumsy with a certain charm to the squarely jointed with rounded flat fingertips. These hands had fingers too long, but moved with a collective grace that excused them. Hands of an artist, my grandmother would have said perhaps. He motioned with them in such a way that there was always a rigidity between his fingers. I could not help but follow this pair of hands with my eyes."
Hermione's writing was frenzied, much like the way she had felt when she wrote the words. Perhaps she was writing of his hands. Ron immediately held up his hand and studied his fingers. He could call them the hands of an artist-provided that "artist" meant someone who did not have square joints and flat fingertips.
"They were of paradoxical beauty, much like the man they belonged to.
It is fascinating how easily influence a person can be. I always thought myself as a strong person of solid conviction, but upon shaking hands with this man, all that I ever knew suddenly paled to sepia shades in comparison to the world which I glimpsed through him.
He called me by a name which I did not recognize, but told me he'd known me all his life. Apparently we are quite familiar, which shocked me greatly since we were never on any terms at all. What he told me was completely absurd.
It is as if everything is drawing around this singular source of melancholy and indescribable truth without warning. I cannot stop thinking about him. Everything is different now."
Ronald Weasley slammed the book against the wall.
The small book's paper spine could not take the crushing pressure of impact and the cover hinge tore. Ron slumped against the wall of Hermione's vacant room and allowed himself to slide to the floor. He glanced at the damaged little book and felt his blood boil. How dare she be with another man? This was what he had feared. She had left him for someone else. Granted, they weren't officially together, but the betrayal still felt the same. He sat on the floor fuming for a few moments before he crawled forward to retrieve the book.
Perhaps there was a better explanation, he had only read the first bit after all. He smoothed the broken part of the book and opened it again, searching the pages for a date in hopes that this was extremely dated. To his dismay, there was not a single page with any sort of time stamp. It was all unanchored and floating in time.
Now that the book was back in his hands, Ron could not help but read ahead. Maybe there were some clues. He flipped past a few pages and stopped.
"I've seen him again, many times actually.
I cannot explain it. He was young, and then old, joyful one moment then suddenly furious the next. It is as though I kept walking into the middle of a conversation. When I spoke to him today, he told me that life was just one joy after another taken away. That is such a terrible attitude to have. He really believes that we are born with a steady state of happiness which gradually degrades over time. Believe it! And not to mention his stance on school.
Apparently everything we learn from school was absolutely trivial because it disclosed none of the beauty that was in magic. I told him that beauty lies in desire and that it could not be taught. He told me I thought that way because no one taught it to me.
His presence is difficult to describe. It is frustrating, calming, beautiful, and heartbreaking. If you did not know him, he would be so easy to describe. Dark, acerbic, frightening. For the longest time that is what I thought too, but the way I know him now, he is so odd, so strange, but yet so certain in his translation of truth."
Ron was growing impatient. When did Hermione start making so little sense? He was really beginning to think that working in the Department of Mysteries had rattled her mind. Ever logical and rational Hermione was speaking about utter nonsense. He didn't care for any of this poetic drivel that was being spouted on the page. All he wanted to know was who this was. He didn't care how deeply and intellectually touched she was by the bloke.
With a flurry, he flipped forward toward the end of the book and stopped at a random page.
"We went to visit my grandmother's garden today. She just recently passed away and I meant to keep some of her flowers before I sold the place but didn't remember in time."
Here was something useful at last! A time frame! Ron racked his brains for when Hermione's grandmother died, but found that he could not remember. It was in the past year, he was sure, but he could not recall the exact date. She hadn't been terribly sad about it, something about it being better anyway. Disappointed in himself, he read on.
"I didn't think he would accompany me when I asked. How does a man who shows no kindness agree because anyone asked kindly?"
What surprised me more was that he allowed me to take his picture. He resisted at first, of course. He turned his face and waved me away every time I tried. He said he took terrible photographs and that it was better for the world and small children if he was never to be seen, but I told him it was only a Muggle camera and that nothing but a shadowy still would be recorded and he made no move to cover his face..."
Exasperated, Ron flipped some more pages. He stopped on the last one when he saw a name, the first name he'd read yet.
"Oh, Ron and Harry would to be so tickled by the irony of this. But it is just the way the coin fell.
Some of us were meant to live in this day, some of us not.
Everything I see around me is worth so little to me. It is all so inconsequential and futile. Only when I speak to him does the detachment go away. My mind is clearest then and I can smile at the beauty of the world. Life suddenly becomes meaningful when it comes through him. And for that, I love him. I Love Him as Orpheus loved Eurydice. I have thought about this for weeks now, and it has finally become clear to me.
This was never a choice because I already made the decision before the question was asked. Time is so perfectly circular and we were, we are, we always have been. I loved him before I ever knew him, because our story plays out again and again. I cannot let him be lost so easily.
I must go back right before everything ended.
I must save Severus."
Ron reread the page again and again. Severus? He knew only one wizard by the name of Severus. It was beyond his comprehension; the man was despicable and rotten and hideous, and worst of all, much too old. He simply could not fathom what had happened. It couldn't have been, maybe it was another Severus. No, he was just trying to make himself feel better. Severus Snape...it tasted bitter like saw-dust to concede that he'd lost to that greasy and downright unpleasant bastard.
There were just too many things that did not make sense. It infuriated Ron that he had not seen what was happening. She had been abusing her privileges from the ministry, travelling through time unregistered. How did he not suspect? It seemed obvious now, the way she had always been fatigued-the way she seemed to change much faster than anyone else. Completely gone mad this time. Snape! He knew that he would have to read the entire book in detail if he were to help her. He was not looking forward to all the disgusting details of their little affair. It sickened him just to think about.
But he didn't need to read anymore to know precisely where Hermione had gone.
She was absolutely out of her mind to go back in time permanently to the war. Why, she could be killed. 1998 was not exactly a friendly time for anyone. And so he decided that it was up to him to bring her back. Plus, the world was not exactly missing Severus Snape.
Ron stood up and stretched the stiffness in his knees. He placed the book in his robe pocket and headed for home.