Welcome to my first venture in HP fanfiction. This prologue was written long before DH came out, and was intended to ignore book 6 as well, in protest for the contents, but would likely have sat on my hard drive forever had not someone on CaerAzkaban brought up the absolutely wonderful idea of Hermione attending St Trinian's, a parody of English schools where everything is as screwed up as it is possible to imagine, and it might even be more dangerous than Hogwarts. And I thought, 'you know? I've got the perfect intro for that, one harsh enough to make her *want* to disrespect all authority figures, to where she'd actually fit in at St. Trinian's'. But I had enough other ideas going so that wouldn't dominate.
So here you go.
Starts with the standard blend of cliches, then quickly gets folded, spindled and mutilated.
P.S. I positively HATE 'Hermione betrays Harry' stories, and never willingly read them. So I apologize in advance for the first chapter, but it was actually written in protest to those kind of stories, showing how bankrupt they are. Also, it was an excellent way to get the sort of emotional response necessary to bring about the character change needed.
Hermione Granger felt flushed with pride. Never had she felt so important, and her life was more or less devoted to feeling that way, as her parents had been very strict with her growing up that she should use her abilities to their fullest and make the most out of her remarkable mental talents. They'd planned that she should attend Oxford, but she was happier where she was - Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, just entering the great hall for the start of term feast for her sixth year.
Ron was also flushed with excitement, and Hermione laughed with him. Over the summer Headmaster Dumbledore had introduced them, along with the rest of the Ministry Crew, into the Order of The Phoenix. Ginny, Luna and Neville had been hesitant at first, their job from the start had been to spy on Harry, report any of his misdeeds, and help Headmaster Dumbledore to control him so they could use The Boy Who Lived more effectively against You-Know-Who.
Harry trailed along behind, obviously still feeling sorry for himself. Honestly! Hermione didn't know why they put up with him sometimes. It was outrageous! Didn't he ever feel anything but gloom and despair?
She privately agreed with what Dumbledore had whispered to her alone on the night they had joined the Order, that Harry was in danger of going dark, and that was why they had to keep an extra close eye on him this year. Well, Hermione would see to that!
Ron agreed with her, but the rest of the Ministry Crew were looking like they felt bad about it, shooting guilty looks toward Harry when they glanced his way at all. Hermione huffed in self-important pride, knowing that SHE wouldn't be so weak!
The feast began once they'd taken their accustomed places, all but Harry who took a plate away from the Gryffindor table to go and sit by the fireplace on the floor. Hermione thought of the scathing things she could tell Dumbledore about that.
So the feast continued until the end, when the Headmaster stood up to gain the attention of his school. Hermione smirked inwardly, knowing what this announcement was to be. Lucius Malfoy had been pardoned by the Ministry and was going to be their new DADA teacher this year. The school gasped, yet the bushy-haired Granger knew it was because Draco's father had offered to turn spy for Dumbledore in return for being released and given this position.
Then the Headmaster got to the interesting part, announcing a duel was to take place there in the great hall. No one else had warning, but Hermione and Ron had been practicing for this, tutored all summer long for it by Snape, Minerva, Tonks and Dumbledore. This was where they'd show the school there was more to the Side of Light than just Harry Potter!
Professor McGonagall got up to announce the pattern of the duels. The best four from each house would fight one contest against each other in-house, then the winners would go on to duel against each other to show who was the best in the school.
Hermione's duel was first, against Harry Potter. It was her job to eliminate him quickly so that the rest of the students would lose some of their worshipful respect for him, not that they still had many whose senses were clouded by the fame of The Boy Who Lived, but according to Dumbledore it was best if those who still gazed starry-eyed at Harry stopped, and got woken up to his flaws. Hermione assumed her position in the center of the room with wand raised and face cool and poised, thinking she looked every inch the professional.
Harry uncurled from his seat on the stone hearth of the fireplace, depressed as always. For a long second, watching him slouch his way, dragging himself around the Gryffindor table to the cleared space in the center of the room for his duel, Hermione had a pang of doubt. This was Harry? Her best friend? She attempted to squash an impulse to go over and hug him to try and make things alright, but a tiny flicker still nagged her.
Her faith in Dumbledore held her firm, but she winced as she saw fresh bruises on Harry's neck and cheek. He'd been left with those relatives of his all summer, and she suspected that they'd learned those threats of Moody and the others had been all bluffs. They hadn't been meant to be so, but Dumbledore had protected the Dursleys from any reprisals for their actions when they'd started beating and starving Harry again.
The Granger girl swallowed, suddenly no longer feeling quite so good about herself. She could tell that Harry had suffered badly this summer from the stiff way he moved his arms. In fact, she suspected they'd been broken and hadn't healed right, and felt guilty that she and Ron had stayed in the Prefect's carriage and avoided him on the train.
Harry got to where McGonagall told him to stand and finally raised his gaze from the floor. Hermione felt rooted to the spot. He knew! She could see it in his eyes, the unfriendliness and distrust. Somehow he'd been told. Someone must have informed him, because he knew! He knew that she'd chosen Dumbledore and the Order over him.
His eyed stripped away her self-important pretensions, and she knew that she'd betrayed him. She'd done it because she'd trusted Dumbledore, and that's what the headmaster had wanted, but it was no less a betrayal for all of that. A tiny corner of her winced, knowing that her job as spy was compromised. But the rest of her just felt awful.
Harry walked stiffly, like a zombie, and Hermione had to wonder how many of his bones had been broken over that summer. Probably fixed up by Madam Pomfrey on the train, too. Hermione had known she'd been there, but hadn't thought to question the Headmaster as to why.
Hermione stood frozen stiff and sick to her stomach, unable to move because of what she realized. That Harry had been her friend once, her first one actually, and now she had joined the side that had caused this to happen to him, had promised to help them do more of this to him, and by doing so she now shared some of responsibility for the abuse he'd suffered as a product of their actions.
It made her feel ugly and worthless.
Professor McGonagall signaled for the duel to begin but Hermione couldn't move, fixed by those eyes of Harry's like a bird seeing a snake, paralyzed by her own realization of guilt.
Harry began to laugh.
Then, as if he wasn't even in a duel (which, since Hermione couldn't move, he wasn't) The Boy Who Lived proceeded to give an account of his summer, then his whole life. He went on at length about how he had been tortured and brutalized, betrayed and shunned. Not only had he been mocked and ridiculed by his aunt and uncle, but by the wizarding world. He spilled the whole tale of how Dumbledore had arranged for The Boy Who Lived to never live a day in his life without fear. First there was his relatives who openly hated him, but even here at school Snape abused him beyond what any rational Headmaster could have allowed. Then there were of course the yearly attempts on his life, but those came as almost a relief to the daily contempt and hate. Over summers his keepers, his jailers to use his term, forced him into contact with those who abused him, protected them and punished him so they could get away with cruel abuse most people wouldn't tolerate for animals.
Hermione knew the stories, most of them anyway, but to hear this broken young man lay those tales of horror out one after another she realized something that had never struck her before - this was Harry's life! He didn't get to go home from this! He had no refuge from it. There weren't ever any breaks!
He had to live this all of the time. He had no one could he talk to or rely on, no parents or friends to make it better or understand him, no place he could go for safety, no time off and any attempt to escape was punished by those who supposedly protected him. Yet those 'protectors' actually spent their efforts making sure those who hurt him got away with it!
Those like Snape and the Dursleys, and now including her.
She'd despised him for being weak! However, that life he led would've broken her within days! The school was sitting stunned, in various degrees of shock and revulsion. Hermione's wand arm fell to her side and her knees felt weak. She'd participated in this? She done what she had power to do to make this worse ever since Dumbledore started to recruit her to his cause.
Her loyalty and trust of her Headmaster wavered over her sense of revulsion at being a part of this, having planned and acted to make this worse than it already was.
Harry did nothing to show that he cared. At that moment, seeing how he stood and how bad and broken he appeared, Hermione suddenly realized what he looked like. Harry looked exactly like Sirius Black after escaping from Azkaban. And she'd been appointed one of the guardians over Harry's private hell to keep her former best friend chained to it; to aid Dumbledore in making certain Harry never escaped from the suffering they gave him.
Hermione wanted to throw up.
She felt worse when Ron began laughing from the Gryffindor table. The redhead really had an amused sound to his voice when he called out to Harry, "So what?" Ron stood and pelted his former friend with a bread roll. Hermione wanted to die with shame when Ron taunted. "So who cares, Harry? So what if you're the most messed up sleezeball this side of a mortuary? You look like you belong in a tomb, anyway. Who cares if Dumbledore has given you a messed up life, or if your parents are dead? Boo Hoo! If I had your kind of cash there's no way I'd let it bother me. Stop feeling so sorry for yourself and trying to make us pity you for being so famous, rich and so on. Sheesh, you'd think you'd never had a good day in your life from the way you're whining!"
"He hasn't," Hermione whispered, thinking at that moment that all she'd want was to sink down into the stones of the floor and hide from how ashamed she felt.
Harry's smile was both grim and scary as he let the bread roll hit him without reaction. "You know something, Ron?" Even Ronald Weasley looked scared at how demented Harry's expression became. He looked like a lunatic.
~And who can blame him?~ Hermione thought.
Harry pointed to his scar, emphasizing what he tried so often to hide. "Do you see this? It isn't some decorative mark, you know. Do you want to know what this really is?" Harry turned around so that he could see the faces of the entire school. They were frightened, and with good reason. This wasn't some meek Harry like they were used to dealing with, this was something awfully similar to a demented, mass killer.
~We've finally broken him at last,~ Hermione thought guiltily. ~He really did have a breaking point, and by turning on him and joining his enemies I helped push him over it.~ Because she could no longer kid herself, Dumbledore and his friends were no friends of Harry's.
Harry went on, ignoring her as if she didn't exist, talking so his words spread over the crowd. "This mark on my face isn't a scar, that's just the outward sign. This is a curse, specifically, it is the Avada Kedavra curse that Voldemort tried to kill me with when I was one year old. It has lodged there, a fragment getting stuck inside me when most of that spell got reflected and destroyed Voldemort's body. A fraction always lingered on in here. And you know what else? For fifteen years that bit of Avada Kedavra has been growing stronger, feeding off my magic until a hundred wizards all casting it together couldn't be as powerful as this spell stuck in my forehead. It can reach anywhere, go through anything."
People were shrinking back in their seats, even Draco looked terrified.
Harry didn't care. He laughed. "And you know what else? I've learned that I can release it at any time, just by deciding to. I can hit Voldemort from miles away - anywhere on this earth! There's no way that he can hide, no where he can run, nothing can protect him. All I have to do is decide to kill him and he's gone forever, and not all of his spells or immortality rituals could save him."
Dumbledore stood up from his chair at the high table, eyes twinkling. "Then please do so, Harry. After all, we could use a cause for celebration."
Harry's laugh was bitter, and he spat. "No doubt." He laughed bitterly until his weakened body shook. "No doubt you could, old man. But you are missing something." Harry put a finger to his scar and tapped it, once. "This has only a single shot. It can't miss, and it can't be blocked, nothing can escape it, but I don't want to use it on anything less than my most important target."
Dumbledore looked confused. "But surely the man who killed your parents, who has terrorized the whole wizarding world, should be your most important foe, should he not? I can't think of any other priority you should be considering, Harry."
Harry shook his head, and Hermione realized that he really was insane. He'd been driven mad by all that had been done to him. A wounded animal tormented until its mind broke.
"No, old man." Harry ground out between his teeth, body shaking from both weakness and rage. "No. You see, I've experienced what you wizards call gratitude." He motioned in disgust towards Ron, but his wave took in Malfoy and all of the rest of those present. "And I have to say Voldemort would have treated me kinder. All he wanted to do was kill me. A quick death. You, however, have seen to it that I've never lived a day without fear. You put me where I was openly hated, gave your blessing to those that abused me, mocked and ridiculed me for being nothing more than a boy you all owed your lives to. No, old man..."
Hermione had never seen Harry hate anyone before. She saw it now as he pieced the Headmaster with a demented gaze.
Dumbledore sat down carefully, looking white. "Harry, everything I did for you I chose for your best interests, for the greatest good..."
Hermione realized that Dumbledore was worried Harry might choose to target him with that spell. And glancing to and fro in fright she saw that he had a reason to be so afraid. Harry might. In fact it looked probable.
Harry was still shaking with anger. "No. I've only waited this long so I could tell you why, so that you could know what chose my target for me. You see, I know that I could save you all. I could kill this dark wizard you're all so scared of just by deciding to. But then what would happen to me? I've been through that before, old man. You might party for a week, or even two. You'd hold me up for a hero for a month or so. But then some inept creep in the Ministry would be jealous of me once more, scared of my fleeting popularity, and you'd go ahead doing all you've done before, and the articles would start eating away at any lingering good will people held toward me. It wouldn't be even a year before you'd all decide that I was too much of a threat to live, and I'd either be sent off to Azkaban or Obliviated and sent back to live among my magic-hating muggle relatives forever. You'd take away everything I am just so that you could sleep feeling safe - that I'd never be able to seek revenge for all you've done to me." Harry shook his head. "No, old man. I realized this summer that your plan has always been to use me up and throw me away."
Dumbledore was showing iron control as he tried to soothe Harry. "Now Harry, however much you hate me, there are your friends to consider. Do you want them to live a life under Voldemort's reign? Do you want to live there yourself? I guarantee it would be much more terrible than anything you've suffered before."
~No.~ Hermione thought, looking at her broken former friend. ~It couldn't. How could it? Dumbledore had just said that to a small boy who'd had all three Unforgivable curses cast on him already by that same Dark Wizard he was supposed to fear. His daily life was out of a horror story and he had no one and nothing on his side.~
~What was left to do to him?~
"Friends." Harry ground out the word. "What friends?" He stalked a menacing step forward and slashed an arm to indicate Ron. "Don't you mean that? And that?" He slashed another arm toward Hermione, who was cringing on the dueling platform where she stood. "I used to have friends. Now all I have are spies, informers. You took my friends and made them your agents. Now, just like Snape pretends loyalty to Voldemort so he can spy for you, I have those who pretend friendship so they can help you control me. They have betrayed me, become my jailers. They are yours, not mine. So they mean NOTHING to me!"
Hermione blanched, the school looking at her. She knew they saw the truth of Harry's words and never could have guessed how ugly and worthless that made her feel. All of a sudden she didn't have the respect or admiration of anyone, anyone at all, least of all herself.
~Dumbledore used me,~ she realized, when the Headmaster said nothing in her defense. ~He used me up and now he is throwing me away, just as he's doing to Harry.~
~I was a fool,~ she realized, grief and doubt sickening her insides. The old man had used her own pride in her intelligence to turn her into both a traitor and a fool.
And now she had nothing to be proud of.
Snape had reacted as if stunned by Harry's words. ~Perhaps he was,~ Hermione thought. ~If he was at all sincere about spying for the Light, then it was secrecy that he'd depended on for preserving his life. Now, with Draco and all those other junior Death Eaters there to hear his secret would be in Voldemort's ear inside of an hour.~ In a few choice words Harry had his revenge on Severus Snape. The teacher who had spent years teaching Harry to hate him now had his reward. If Voldemort survived this night then their potions master was doomed. That is, if he was working for the Light. But if he wasn't, if Snape had been working for the Dark all along (which actually seemed far more likely to her), then his cover would be blown just by his mere survival, and then Voldemort might kill him anyway as a pawn that'd outlived its usefulness. That was, if some auror or other didn't get to him first.
And, Hermione had to admit, he'd done everything he could to earn that. Harry had done nothing to him at first, Snape had tortured him verbally for fun. It had amused their sick and twisted professor to hurt the boy whose father had once saved his own worthless life. And now he got to pay by losing that life. It was appropriate.
Hermione wondered what would come when it came her turn.
"Do you honestly believe that I should spend my time caring for a world that has never cared a bit about me?" Harry asked the room bitterly.
~Actually, they once cared for you quite a bit.~ Hermione thought inwardly. ~The wizarding world loved you, until Fudge and Rita Skeeter changed their minds. Of course Dumbledore did nothing to help you, and it seemed he might even have gone along with them. It looks that way now, from how carefully he's always worked to isolate you.~
Harry gave a last laugh at how scared Dumbledore had become. "Oh, don't worry, old man. I have better uses for this curse than to kill you. You see, having this thing lodged in my skull has toughened my body, made me every bit as hard to kill as Voldemort. I don't want to live under his tortures any more than I've liked living under yours, and there's only one thing that can take my life. I get to decide who dies, Dumbledore, and it's either Voldemort or me. And you know what? I hope he reigns for a hundred years. I lay my dying wish as a plague on you all. I curse you that no one who is able to spark a wand will survive Voldemort's reign, and that by the time he dies there won't be a drop of wizarding blood left in Britain, and that no where on this earth will be found even one pureblooded witch or wizard! I leave you all to rot in Hell, and spit my last breath at you!"
And, with that, Harry exploded in a burst of green light over six feet across, consuming that half of the dueling platform and carving a crater in the stone floor.
It was whole seconds before Hermione's stunned brain could comprehend that Harry had used that one-shot unstoppable death curse to kill himself!
~That was how he was to escape the pain and get his revenge on us, all at the same time,~ Hermione thought with a start. ~And it would work. Nothing could stop Voldemort now.~ From the pasty white look of shock on the Headmaster's face it was obvious that Harry's words about nothing else being able to stop Voldemort were true, and that by using that curse on himself Harry had deliberately brought about the worst possible world for the rest of them to live in. ~Now we all get to live with that same fear and horror that had always haunted Harry.~
~Harry's life of torture and fear is over, but ours has only just begun.~
~No!~ Something in Hermione screamed out, looking for support. ~Okay, Dumbledore has lost it, the look on his face is quickly fading to despair and hopelessness.~ It became clear to the girl her mentor, the man she'd trusted to save and protect them all, had planned for everything but this; and now the heart of his schemes was obvious.
~This had never been about Dumbledore's fight against Voldemort! The Headmaster hadn't mattered at all,~ Hermione suddenly realized. It was all about Harry. Harry Potter had always been the one, and Dumbledore had used and abused him like Malfoy treated house elves. She watched, shocked, as the old wizard crumpled in on himself, suddenly feeling disgust at the old man herself. There wasn't anything that had changed! He still had the Order, and Hogwarts, and the ministry, and everything he'd had before! Every resource she'd once admired Dumbledore for controlling was still at his command. Yet with the loss of Harry her once beloved Headmaster was collapsing like a ruptured balloon!
~If he'd meant that much you could have treated him nicely!~ Hermione thought in a rage. ~Would it really have been so hard?~
Realizing her own part in this was far from blameless, Hermione suddenly hated that old man Dumbledore, knowing that her own betrayal was only because of his. She'd trusted him! The Headmaster had used her, just like he'd used Harry. She'd been nothing more to him than a way that he could keep an eye on a boy. He should have left Harry Potter alone! All Dumbledore had ever had to do was let Harry live a nice and pleasant life and he would have chosen to slay Voldemort instead of himself! But the bastard couldn't stop meddling! And every time he did something to Harry it ended up causing more pain to him!
Dumbledore didn't have to stick him with a family that openly hated him, give him teachers that abused and hated or tried to kill him, or what was almost worse, all of those others who sat at the sidelines, who might have done something to help Harry if Dumbledore hadn't constantly been holding their leashes so they couldn't. Then at last he'd convinced Harry's friends to desert him, to turn into spies and traitors acting against him.
Why had he been so cruel and unfair?
Shaking herself at his stupidity, which she had unfortunately shared, Hermione gave the first conscious movement since she'd seen Harry's eyes, and reached inside of her blouse to pull out a Time Turner on a long, silver chain. Dumbledore had given them to her and Ron so they could spy more effectively on Harry, who'd taken fewer classes than either of them.
Well, if all hope was lost, it hadn't been that way an hour ago.
Hermione gave her Time Turner enough rotations to bring her back to eleven o'clock that morning. She could run down to Hogsmead and Apparate onto the Hogwarts train, a skill that she had been secretly taught that summer in her Order training. If she spent all that ride with Harry instead of avoiding him maybe she could apologize enough to make a difference - and, realizing that her other option was to live in a world ruled by Voldemort, maybe letting Harry see some forbidden skin was in order, if things came to that.
Anything to make him want to live!
She spun her device the required number of times, and was shocked when, after the spinning and the dizziness, she appeared inside of a Great Hall that was still packed full of students. There was her other self from a few minutes before on her way to the dueling platform where the girl who'd just traveled through time stood! Both Hermione Grangers stood astonished as they stated at each other.
The one from the future realized she must have gone minutes into the past instead of hours. Never mind, Harry was still alive, it was enough. She jumped off of the platform to rush over to Harry Potter, where she flung herself on to his chest and begged him though her tears to forgive her.
The younger Hermione's jaw dropped open in shock.
The Hermione from the future did everything she could think of. She railed against Ron before he could say those hateful things. She defied Dumbledore and criticized herself. She gave away Snape's cover personally and admitted to having betrayed Harry, pleading on her knees that he live for her. But it was all useless, Harry must have made up his mind long before. Not even promising her body to him gave him the slightest pause. He just called her the next Percy Weasley and went on, ignoring how bitterly she cried that he was right. She had turned on him because of her love for authority, just exactly like Percy had turned against all those that loved him because he loved the Ministry more.
The Hermione from the future was only saved from Harry's self-destructive explosion by a summoning charm from McGonagall as the teacher realized at the last moment what was about to happen.
That Hermione hardly cared, weeping bitterly, wishing she'd died.
At last the future girl was approached by her younger self, who seemed amazed to find her older double crying on the floor. The girl from the future looked up at her past self and gave her a hate-filled gaze, much to her younger double's surprise. "He had to live. That's all it took. We would have won if only Harry'd had something, anything to live for! But Dumbledore had to make his life so miserable that he'd rather DIE than save us!"
The Hermione from the past was still shocked, and the older one saw and understood that this one had not gone through those same moments of discovery as she'd realized what she'd done to participate in destroying all hope for their world. This one had been too busy paying attention to her future self and being shocked by her behavior to have really seen Harry, or what he was going through. Or how she'd helped to kill him.
"Surely, he's not all that important." Her younger self doubted in self-important tones.
"Look at Dumbledore," her older double told her in a despairing, strain-filled voice, "And tell me he doesn't think our cause is lost." She watched her younger duplicate get frightened as she studied her Headmaster and realized at last that things were worse than she'd feared.
"Harry was the one, the only one who could stop this. Now the war will go on forever until our side must unavoidably lose. Surely," now she mocked her younger double's self-important tones. "You think that's important?"
Hermione's younger self seemed torn, obviously distressed with how brazenly her older double had thrown herself at Harry, propositioning him before the whole school! But at the same time she was discovering through Dumbledore's despair that her future self's actions may just have been the tiniest bit justified. The older Hermione smirked bitterly as she saw her past self suddenly realize that the war was lost, and what that meant to her personally as well as to her future and all of her friends.
"We've got to stop this!" The younger girl declared desperately.
"How?" Her older self mocked with a sarcastic smirk. "Go back in time?"
The younger girl stared at the older one, suddenly seeing many things at once: Why her older self was there, and that her plot hadn't worked. She steeled herself and spoke. "If I go back to an earlier time..."
"Forget it." Older Hermione's tones were bitter as she stood up. "Do you think I planned for a desperate, last second appeal to Harry in the middle of a hall crowded with his enemies? I tried to set my Time Turner to bring me back to ride the train with him this morning. It sent me back minutes instead of hours and I had to improvise. There's something about how he died that's like an anchor. It's too significant an event for our Time Turners to travel through easily. After all, the fate of our whole world has just been decided, hasn't it? That's not going to be easy to undo. Strictly speaking, it's illegal to even try."
"Hang the law!" Younger Hermione shouted, drawing a brief moment of shocked attention from half the room. "We can't just give up and let this happen! Our whole world is doomed!"
"And what do you propose we do?" Her older double asked of her angrily.
"We'll have to try time travel again," her younger self concluded after a second's deliberation and chewing on her lower lip. "Right now Harry is dead, and there's no magic that can fix that directly. There's no option but to try to go back before it happened."
"Well, you have my script. You saw what good it did me." Her future self mocked.
"Then we'll have to try something earlier! You said the train ride, that was a good idea. Let's try and set some runes to boost the power of our Time Turners so that we can get past the interference of..." the girl swallowed around the lump in her throat as she finally saw just some of what she'd been involved in, "Harry's suicide."
The two girls, one a few minutes older than the other, otherwise identical except for those precious few moments of insight and experiences, set to work laying out the most powerful magic circle Arithmancy had ever taught them, liberally sprinkling that with every rune for time or travel or magical boosting they could think of. They used the widest clear area they could find, which was ironically the crater on the floor left by the blast that had killed Harry. But it was convenient and round, and made for a good base for their circle. Other students and teachers were too distressed or jubilant in their own personal reactions to Harry's death to either interfere or help the pair, and soon both Hermiones stood facing each other in a highly experimental magic ring of questionable sanity. The older one took out her Time Turner and put the long chain over the head of her younger self as well.
"I have my own, you know." Younger Hermione scolded.
"Yes, I do. Now take it out at once and put it on over my head so we're both double-linked. That way the chains can form a figure-eight, which when viewed from the side is the symbol of infinity. If we turn them both at the exact same instant it should boost the spell enough to get one of us back to this morning."
"And if this doesn't work?" The younger girl asked dubiously even as she linked her chain as directed.
"If we die the present will remain unchanged and someone else can give it a go." The older girl stated dispassionately. "In any case, we'll either get this to work or we don't have to live in a world that's lost a war and is going to be enslaved under the worst Dark Wizard in a century. Either way we win. And if we die, but someone else can get our past to change and bring back Harry, then we won't have been driven to this extreme so won't take the risk and so we'll probably be alive in that altered present anyway."
Both girls took a deep breath, and the older one used her wand to spin both their Time Turners in unison to the maximum extent of their abilities.
The flash of light from the circle and wrenching sensations that followed this act were horrible. Hermione saw the last few minutes creep passed backwards in sluglike slowness, passed when Harry died, to see herself trying to save him, then how they'd all entered the hall - herself with that insufferably smug, superior look on her face, then suddenly everything went racing by at lightning speed. She braced for arriving in time for the train, only to see the students leaving the room from the last year's going home feast filling the room in reverse.
The events of the past year raced by in reverse at an increasing rate until finally everything was just a blur that landed with a wet lurch.
Hermione opened her eyes. Why was the world pink? And wet? She turned her head and saw another face looking back at her. It was a baby's, yet somehow managed to express astonishment at seeing her. Holding up her own hand Hermione realized that she was an infant as well. Then something squeezed.
Half an hour later, Helen Granger finished giving birth to beautiful twin girls. Sweaty and breathless, the lady got to hold her darling infants and looked proudly up to her husband. "What do we call them?"
"We'd promised each other that if we had a girl she'd be named Hermione." Her husband's middle name was Menelaus (his parents had been incurable Shakespeare buffs) though he thankfully went by his first name of Richard. Helen of Troy and Menelaus of Sparta were the parents of Hermione in a Shakespearean play, and they'd decided months ago to carry on the naming tradition to a point. The mother did insist her daughter have a normal middle name to fall back on in case schoolyard teasing got too mean.
"They can't both be Hermione." Helen giggled to her beloved, tired yet full of joy.
"Why not?" Her husband teased, pointing first to one and then the other baby girl. "This one can be Hermione Ann Granger and that one can be Hermione Jane Granger." He bent low and kissed both infants held tight to their mother's chest. "Welcome to the world, my dears."
Two Hermiones' eyes met across their mother's belly and both girls thought, ~Oh boy.~
When everything is lost is the best time to risk it all, because you've got nothing to lose. But that doesn't mean that anything would turn out normally, especially when you mix in experimental rune circles and guess at magic that no one truly understands.
Hermione basically tore Time, but it is quite resilient, and has a tendency to heal itself, adapting to incorporate changes. The first tear was a comparatively small one, Hermione going back to create a past that led to her not going back to her past in the same way. But the next one was a doozy.
To repair itself, Time simply went ahead and rewrote itself according to a plan where the extras had been there all along. But two Hermiones won't be the only surprise. Tearing Time has a tendency to leave scars.