She was dead.
The world was in flames. Voldemort sat on the Queen's throne in Westminster Abbey. Hogwarts was rubble. Diagon Alley was a collection point for muggleborns to be shipped to concentration camps. Continental Europe was on the verge of collapsing as the magical and mundane armies of Emperor Voldemort savaged those who stood against them. The Americans, Australians and the Brazilians had warded their continents. No one could come in.
It didn't matter.
She was dead.
Harry Potter, last surviving member of the Order of the Phoenix lay in a ditch in western Cornwall, a gentle rain soaking him. He was cuddling the corpse of his wife. Hermione Potter had died not even five minutes ago.
"Please God, don't let her be dead. I need her. Please, I'll do anything. Please God, don't let her be dead."
They had taken to stealing food from abandoned markets. The canned goods lasted nigh on forever and with a quick twist of the can opener, "Viola, a main course of Vienna Sausages complemented by Mandarin Oranges and French Cut Green Beans." They'd had that meal on their wedding night.
"Please God, don't let her be dead."
It all went to shit after Sirius died. Dumbledore had been poisoned in the Great Hall the next day. Harry was still reeling from the dual impact of Sirius' death and the disclosure of The Prophecy, so the twitching, foaming corpse of the Headmaster didn't make the impression on him that he thought it would. Hermione came to him that night in bed.
Harry looked around wildly as his curtains silently opened. "What the…?"
"Harry, it's just me. Budge over, we need to talk."
As he scooted over, she gingerly climbed in bed with him. Apparently, her wounds from the previous day were not as healed as Madam Pomfrey had declared. A few spells later, they were able to speak in privacy.
"I think we should leave school tonight," she began. When Harry's eyebrows almost reached his hairline, she waved him off and continued, "With Dumbledore dead, Voldemort will probably be here tomorrow. No one can stop him now. He'll come for you. After he kills you, he'll kill all the muggleborns."
She paused and let that sink in. Watching his eyes focus on the canopy of his four poster she saw him make his decision and sighed in relief. "Ok, where do we go?"
In the end, they had decided to leave Ron behind. They regretted the error for the rest of their lives. Four years later, they'd found a picture of him – or rather what was left of him. He had been drawn and quartered on his beloved Quidditch Pitch. Voldemort had indeed come the next day and his wrath was great.
Their broom ride had ended at her parents' home. They later thanked God many times that Steven and Alice had listened to them and fled the country. Today they were safe in St. Louis. Even Americans need dentists.
After a stop at Gringotts, the duo walked out with over a million pounds in cash and ten thousand galleons. Hermione made two purchases, a library trunk and a copy of every book in Flourish and Blott's inventory. Harry made three purchases; an invisibility cloak for Hermione, a Firebolt for her and a written copy of a charm that would remove the infamous 'Trace' from their wands. The charm had been the most expensive.
They went to Cardiff and rented a flat, theorizing that going muggle would protect and hide them. Not raising wards in order to avoid attracting attention, they set up their cover as a young married couple. They studied, laughed and cried. Reading the papers, they could interpret the magical events in the mundane news. Mass murders were taking place. The werewolves and vampires were on a rampage. Giants and dragons were attacking with impunity.
Times were becoming tough. Rationing was put in place. Petrol, food, and clothes were all limited in availability. The economy fell like a stone and a full scale depression hit Britain. Lines began to form outside employment offices.
The magical Ministry had fallen first. They found out later that Fudge had lasted a mere week and a half after Hogwarts fell. The mundane Government lasted three more years. Unprepared for the insidious attack via Imperius, midnight assassination and blackmail, Voldemort strode into the Houses of Parliament in early 1999.
Their studying had been fast paced. Not needing to slow their education for the lowest common denominator, Hermione taught Harry and, where possible, Harry taught Hermione.
Their studying far exceeded the standard Hogwarts curriculum. Harry had taken the lead on their combat training. Power spells, creative Transfiguration, offensive wards and battlefield healing were all covered in detail. When Hermione had asked Harry why they were having their intensive training, Harry had replied, "I've got to kill him."
They were fortunate that she was able to learn on her own from books. Toward the end of their time in Cardiff, two things happened that changed everything for them. First, Harry passed his practice NEWTs for Defence, Transfiguration, Charms, Runes, Arithmancy and even Potions. He'd given her quite a hard time for having the practice tests for a seventh year exam during their fifth year. The second happening was far more important.
He kissed her.
And she kissed him back.
They made love that night and didn't leave the bedroom for an entire day.
Their time in Cardiff had lasted three years. During that time they exchanged letters with her parents. In each one, Steven and Alice had begged the teens to come to America. They wanted to go. They talked about it time and again, but something neither could identify tethered them to Britain. They couldn't leave.
"We still don't know what 'the power the Dark Lord knows not' is!" Harry had raged one night. Having worked their way through a bottle of wine, they were half pissed and both were venting their frustrations.
"You feel obligated to do something because of this prophecy."
Nodding at her observation, he responded, "Yeah. I do."
Taking him in her arms, she gave him a hug. "Let's go see if Grimmauld Place is still the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix."
It was. Or rather, it was the headquarters of Minerva McGonagall, Filius Flitwick, Alastor Moody and Arthur Weasley. They were all that was left.
The reunion was subdued. Arthur enveloped them both in a long hug. His entire family was dead and he was a changed man because of it. Minerva, too, hugged them while Filius just watched them with a thousand yard stare.
Harry gave his former Transfiguration teacher a questioning look. "Filius has killed so many…" Minerva whispered.
Moody grunted as he took a swig from his flask. Nothing really changed there.
The group of six began to conduct raids on Death Eater supply depots. Potion supplies, body armour, food, medicines and clothing were all taken. They knew they weren't really making a dent in Voldemort's activities, but they needed what was stolen. For the first time in years, they all ate until full.
Two years after Harry and Hermione returned to the magical world, Moody was killed on a raid and again, things went downhill fast.
They'd taken to raiding Death Eater 'Entertainment Houses'. Torture chambers, brothels and casinos were other names for them.
The mercy and capture attitude that the Order had adhered to when Dumbledore had led them was a thing of the past. Killing fast and quick was de rigueur.
Moody had been killed in a raid on an Entertainment House. They'd expected a dozen Death Eaters to be inside but had run into three dozen. Harry had personally killed ten Death Eaters and Hermione twelve before they realized that Moody had bled to death.
The loss of the seemingly indestructible Moody hit them all hard. Flitwick had wandered off after that. He'd been increasingly erratic and it seemed that the last loss had been one too many
Arthur became more reckless and violent. He'd been crossing the line between engaging the enemy and killing for pleasure for quite a while. Harry and Hermione had a long talk with Minerva about it, but never had the opportunity to act. He died when he walked into Diagon Alley, killing everyone he saw. For all intents and purposes, it was suicide. Twenty seven Death Eaters died by his wand before he was cut down by no less than seven Killing curses.
Minerva pulled them aside after they lost Arthur. "I want you both to know that I love you like the children I've never had." The usually reserved woman was almost gushing and it took the young couple by surprise. Recognizing their expression, she smiled wryly and murmured, "I don't know how much time we have left together. I wanted you to know how much you mean to me."
A little teary eyed, Hermione gave the elderly Scot a hug while Harry bussed her cheek. "Thanks, Minerva. We love you too."
A runaway lorry hit her the next day.
Harry and Hermione had no hope of victory and they knew it. Moving to a small cottage in Cornwall, they tried to live their lives in obscurity, hidden from the red eye of Voldemort in the tall grass of the muggle world. It was too late to try and flee. Now, no one got out of Britain-that-was.
They had another five years of bliss alternating with fear. Finally, they'd formalized their relationship and the local Vicar had married them in their lounge. Their neighbours, John and Leigh St. James, had stood up with them.
Two years later, they'd been on a scrounging mission when they'd bumped into their worst nightmare. A Death Eater squad walked in on them at the remains of the local grocers. It had been a quick fight. The seven Death Eaters were dead within thirty seconds, but not before Hermione was hit by a Killing curse.
"Please God, don't let her be dead."
But she was.
Weeping now, he closed her eyes and apparated them to their home. The rain continued as he lovingly lay her on the chaise lounge and conjured a shovel. His hair matted to his head, rain running in his eyes, he dug his wife's grave amidst her much-loved flowers. After burying her in their garden, he fashioned a headstone for her and laid it atop her final resting place.
Hermione Jane Potter
Born September 19, 1979
Died November 22, 2006
Beloved Wife and Daughter
The Smartest Witch of the Age
Harry didn't leave the house for over a year. John and Leigh brought him food. Vicar Smythe stopped by weekly for a half hour. Otherwise, he saw no one and no one saw him.
The first month he drank himself into torpor and stayed there. John St. James took all of Harry's whiskey after that and forced the young widower to sober up. With nothing left, he studied and read. There was one purpose in his pursuits: find a way to save Hermione.
He realized he'd gone a little crazy. She was dead. He had buried her with his own hands after all. First he'd pursued an answer in Necromancy, but the rituals were either ineffective at restoring her (such as creating an Inferius) or so morally repugnant that he knew she'd hate him if he successfully brought her back with it.
Time turners were an interesting but eventually fruitless path. He found quite a few overviews of the devices, but since they were highly restricted artefacts, there was no detailed information on the mechanics of the device. Four times he'd failed in trying to build time turners, although the last had generated quite a powerful explosion that had levelled his workshop.
He chuckled as he lay in bed reading Essays in Advanced Theoretical Thaumaturgy, vol. MMCXII by Viridian Starkan. "If only Hermione could see me now." Snorting and shaking his head, he corrected himself, "If only Ron could see me now."
What he was reading banished all thoughts of his old friend far from his mind.
… conjuring the balanced spatial tensions required to create a temporal shift. The focus of the dynamic interface would be a curved field, the parameters of which would be dependent of the magnitudes of the forces involved. Any object that crossed through this curved field would experience a temporal translation, the magnitude of which would also be varied as the interacting forces were altered.
"Dear God. It's time travel."
Hermione had taught him well and it was immediately apparent to Harry that he was in a quandary. The temporal translation described would allow a 'steerable' opening in the temporal timeline. This would allow him to select the target time to which he wished to return. However, no material would be able to be sent through the field. No material unless one was able to channel all the natural magical energy in the planet. Since that wasn't possible, what could be sent?
To most persons, the natural conclusion of the line of thought would have been horrifying. To Harry, who was half crazed with loss and despair, the idea of killing himself in the hopes that his spirit would go back in time was not horrifying at all.
"Even if it doesn't work, I still get to see her again. At least, if Luna was right I'll see her again."
So began his calculations. Seven different times he calculated his 'trip' as he began to call it. The first five all came up with different answers. Not inspiring. The sixth and seventh calculations had the same results.
He felt far from confident in his figuring. If the gemstones that were to be used to generate and focus the temporal field were slightly off angle, his spirit would explode and he'd cease to exist.
He polished off another stale can of stout and threw the can in the bin. "Fuck it. What have I got to lose?"
The next morning, he did something he'd never done before. He went to the local church to pray. He wasn't a believer in the Anglican faith, but he sure needed something now.
Staring at the altar, he murmured, "Please, God. Help me."
He didn't even realize that it was Christmas day.
After an hour of pleading with the Deity, he returned home. He'd needed a dozen diamonds, so he'd stolen them from a jewellery store two days before. Not many people could afford such luxuries nowadays. He doubted if the theft would be noticed.
Calculations in hand he went to the only place it made sense to him to perform the ritual and begin his trip. He dumped the diamonds on Hermione's grave and began to lay them in the required pentagonal shape.
Three hours later, he'd laid out the stones and verified their positions four times. Stripping off his clothes, he shivered as he knelt in the centre of the diamond pentagram. There was no turning back. He incinerated his notes.
Muttering the charging spell, he first felt drained, then saw the diamonds begin to glow a dull blue. The temporal translation field was charged. Tears began to drip down his face as he sat on the ground. A full five minutes passed as he sat there, naked in the dirt. Rain began to fall, mixing with his tears. It was as if the heavens were weeping with him. For him.
"I love you Hermione."
He placed his wand to his chest over his heart and whispered, "Diffindo."
With a jarring thud, he stopped falling. Opening his eyes, he gasped for air. Once. Twice. Franticly, he looked around, trying to determine when he had shown up. Had he travelled through time, or had the experiment ended badly? Perhaps he was in hell and didn't know it yet. Colours swirled and melded together. Later he would describe it like an exploding rainbow. Shapes began to form.
He was staring at the strangest thing. It was familiar but he just couldn't place it.
Grey feathers. Orange eyes.
First things first, Harry quickly bowed. He maintained eye contact with the regal hybrid creature for a long moment. When the half eagle, half horse bowed in return, Harry let go the breath he'd been holding and approached his old friend with a little tear in his eye. Gently patting the Hippogriff's beak, he barely heard Hagrid's congratulations and follow on instruction to the class.
She's behind me.
He almost burst into tears at the thought. His head swirled and his guts clenched. Hermione is right behind me. Maybe ten or fifteen feet away. Please God, let her be behind me.
The murmur of the class seemed a cacophony. Hagrid's voice boomed a bass tone that reverberated in his chest. None of the words meant anything. She's behind me.
After a steadying breath, he turned.
She was there.
Before he could scream for joy, he noticed her face was in a grimace and she was holding her chest as if she'd been kicked. Her eyes darted left, then right. Locking onto his face, she looked like she didn't know him at first. Then, the largest smile she'd ever had blossomed on her face and she ran to him.
It was the first time he'd ever experienced a complete loss of control of his limbs. He ran to her. Unknowingly, unthinkingly, he ran to her. Desperately embracing his once and future wife, she in turn crushed him to her. He didn't even realize it but he was murmuring her name over and over in a half sob.
He pulled back and almost fell down in shock.
Right after their wedding, they'd been working in the garden of their home in Cornwall, building a trellis. Hermione had slipped and split her brow open on a small boulder they used as a seat. Feeling embarrassed about her clumsiness, she wouldn't heal it with magic nor let Harry heal it either. "It's an object lesson for me to be more careful."
She developed a scar that made a small line through her right eyebrow.
Looking at her thirteen year old self, the blood ran into his toes. She had the same scar.
Tentatively reaching out to her, toward her scar, he asked in a whisper, "Hermione?"
Fingering her brow, she teared up and nodded. "Yes, love. It's me," She answered in a similar whisper.
She shrugged and then smiled through her tears. "I'm sure you screwed something up."
He laughed, "I'm sure I did." Pulling her close, he almost broke down from happiness. He was back and by some miracle of heaven, so too was she.
"So, er, what was going on back there?" asked Ron. They were heading back to the castle after the 'exciting' Care of Magical Creatures class. The whole class had been so agog with Harry and Hermione's display of affection that Malfoy had forgotten to be his normal prickish self. The altercation with Buckbeak never happened.
His arm around Hermione's shoulders, a smiling Harry asked, "What do you mean mate?"
With red-tipped ears, Ron waved his hands and sputtered. "What do I mean? I mean you two!" he waved his hand at his best friends.
Harry glanced at his wife? Girlfriend? Best Friend? She gave him a nod. "We're together," he answered Ron.
Ron's face froze, then began to fill up with red.
Harry and Hermione were both confused. They were excited to have another chance with their red headed friend but didn't understand his upset. They stood there, bemused, while their old friend showed all the typical Weasley signs for an impending temper tantrum.
Setting his jaw, Ron nodded and said, "I see. I'll just leave you lovebirds to it so you can go snog, right?" and he jogged up the trail to the castle.
"What the fuck was that about?" Harry mused aloud.
Watching Ron run away, Hermione absently reproved, "Language, love. Beats me. You said he had a crush on me fourth year, right?"
"Maybe it started third year?"
"Maybe." He stopped, pulling her up as he let the rest of class pass them by. Malfoy sneered as he passed but the Potters didn't even notice.
After the other third years had passed, he placed his arms around her waist in their accustomed place to which she responded with her arms around his neck. "So are you still my wife?" he asked a little tongue in cheek.
Smiling, she answered with a passionate kiss that curled his toes and increased his heart rate. A minute later, she was backed up to a tree, her legs around his waist.
Collecting himself, he pulled back and took a deep breath. "Sorry, it's been a while and I think the teenage hormones are kicking in something fierce."
She smiled as she straightened her skirt. There was something predatory about her smile that made Harry's own smile broaden. She grabbed his tie and pulled him close, "We've been married for over two years and been intimate for almost ten. When we have some privacy, I'm going to shag you rotten. Just not here in the open, Ok?"
He smiled and gave her a tender kiss. She saw a tear on his cheek and wiped it away with the pad of her thumb. "Hey now. We're together. We've got another chance, why the tears?"
Hugging her tight, he sobbed, "I missed you so much."
Holding him close, she let his storm pass. Finally, she asked, "How long?"
"When I woke up this morning, you'd been gone for over a year."
She shuddered, "I don't remember anything. Last thing before showing up in class was those Death Eaters at the grocers."
He nodded and they started to amble to the castle, hand-in-hand. With a small smile, she cast a spell on his face to clean him up. Grateful, he squeezed her hand. "Should we tell anyone?"
She scowled, "Not Dumbledore. I trust him about as far as you could throw him."
In the years after Hogwarts, they'd had many discussions about Harry's life. With all the danger, pain and heartache Harry had in his life, they kept coming back to Albus Dumbledore. Being taken from Sirius and deposited in the loving embrace of his 'relatives'. The Stone. The Chamber. Sirius' imprisonment. The Tournament. The Ministry misadventure. All of it circled back to Albus Dumbledore's manipulations and secrets.
"Agreed. I was thinking about McGonagall and Sirius, when we make contact with him, that is.
Hermione made a face. "I know you loved, or rather love him. But Sirius isn't really stable right now, sweetie."
Sighing, he nodded, "True. Maybe later?"
Conceding his desire, she nodded back. "Sure. We'll get him with some mind healers and nutritionists to help heal his mind and body. From there, we can talk. Ok?"
He shrugged his acceptance and squeezed her hand. "What about Remus?" he asked.
She pursed her lips. "My first reaction is no. He owes a lot to Dumbledore and the old man may call in his markers. Remus is too honourable and this would put him in quite a bind. I'd rather not tell him just yet."
He nodded. Glancing at her, he got a goofy grin, "Are you really gonna shag me senseless?"
Smiling in return, she answered, "Men."
"Hey! I get to play Quidditch again!"
"And take Divination again."
Dropping his head to his chest, he muttered, "Way to kill the buzz dear."
Hermione laughed in her musical way before she kissed him on the cheek. "I'm sure I can make it up to you."
He gave her a lecherous leer saying, "I'm sure you can." He reached across the Gryffindor table for the fixings for his lunch.
Wiggling her eyebrows, she finished making her own sandwich. Digging into their lunch, they both were overcome with waves of nostalgia. Hundreds of people around them were alive, when just yesterday –to them - they were dead. Even Ron sitting at the other end of the table where he was glaring at them was a very welcome sight.
It was like a kick to the gut when he looked to the front table. There, deep in discussion was a healthy looking Minerva McGonagall and a chuckling Filius Flitwick. Harry's head spun a bit as faces of the dead flashed at him. Dumbledore. Hagrid. Oliver Wood. Fred and George. Luna. Neville.
Looking over at the Slytherin table, he saw some whom they had helped when the world went in the crapper. Daphne and Astoria Greengrass. Tracy Davis.
Of course, his blood began to boil when he saw Draco Malfoy. The baby fat hadn't yet melted off the blond boy's cheeks and yet the fucker sat at the Slytherin table, smirking at Harry from across the hall.
He glanced at his wife and saw the same sad expression he was sure he must have as well and offered, "Pretty intense."
She nodded and sniffed, "Yeah, it is."
Taking a big bite of his sandwich, he heard her breath catch. Looking up, he saw Severus Snape stride in the hall for lunch.
Harry swallowed and reached for his wand. His instantaneous rage pounded in his ears like the drums calling to war.
As his hand dove in his pocket, a slim hand from his right grabbed his arm and Hermione hissed in his ear, "No! You can't kill him here in the Great Hall."
"I'm gonna fucking kill him." His fury was roiling his magic into a maelstrom and it pulsed in time with his heartbeat.
Panting like a racehorse, Harry glanced down at his plate when Snape looked at him. He'd become fairly proficient in Occlumency after they left Hogwarts, but he had no idea if that ability transferred back in time with him. After some mental exercises this evening, he felt that he'd know where he stood. Until then, he'd just avoid eye contact.
Nodding to her, he relaxed his body. She rubbed his back and murmured, "I know he killed Neville and Luna. Probably Dumbledore as well. Who knows how many others he destroyed as the head of the camps. I want his head on a pike too, but we really need to talk about this. Are we going to execute people for things they did before? Things they have yet to do?"
"Him and that little shite Malfoy I have no problem killing."
"Come on. Let's get out of here. We need to cool off and talk for a bit."
Grabbing his hand, she half dragged him from the hall and out on the grounds. By now, Harry's rage had passed and after a few deep breaths, he was under control again. "Thanks, love."
Nodding to him, she smiled and replied, "I love you."
"Love you too. So, the real question is how much do we change?"
"Well, what was your plan?"
Looking at his feet, he muttered, "Didn't have one."
Knowing she was waiting for more, he looked at her. She moved closer to see her normally reserved husband in tears again. "My only plan was to see you again. I didn't think about anything else for a year."
Moving close and gently taking him in her arms, she nodded and murmured, "I understand. I'd do the same."
Wiping his face, he laughed wetly. "Like hell. You'd have a plan tattooed to your hand."
She smiled and then put on a mock-affronted look. "If you're going to be insulting about it Mr. Potter."
"Not at all, Mrs. Potter. All in good fun."
She leaned on him and cocked an eyebrow, "Your swearing has become of the dockyard variety."
He grimaced. She truly did not like foul language. It made her uncomfortable and he'd made a real effort to eliminate his cursing. "Sorry. I was alone for a while and it just got out of hand."
Nodding, she smiled impishly, "I'll give you suitable encouragement to reform your behaviour."
"Now?" he asked with a leering grin.
She laughed and took off toward the lake, "Catch me if you can!" she shouted over her shoulder.
They lay in the tall grass on a short strip of grass between the lake and the Forbidden Forest, screened from the school by a stand of boulders. He caught her and they'd kissed for quite a while. "Been a while since we've had a good snog."
She rolled her eyes at him before he burst into laughter. "I know how much you hate that word," he teased, "I'm just having a bit of fun."
Poking him in the ribs, she said, "Enough funning. Let's get down to work. What is it that we could change and what should we change?"
"Agreed," she said as she conjured parchment and quill. "Barty Crouch Jr?"
"Hmm," she stroked her chin with the quill. Turning to her spouse, she had a bit of grimace when she said, "We may need to leave him in place."
Harry began to get angry when he saw her point. "Let the Tournament happen then kill Voldemort in the graveyard. But what about Wormtail then? That's how the bastard gets to the graveyard in the first place."
"Crap." She lay back in the grass and stared at the clouds.
After a long moment in contemplation, Hermione asked, "What's our number one priority? Killing Voldemort, right?"
With a sigh of resignation, Harry agreed. "Yeah. Sirius gets the shaft."
Rising up to her elbow, Hermione scooted closer to her husband, "Not necessarily. If we capture the traitor in the graveyard, we can exonerate Sirius then." Sitting up fully, she began to think aloud, "Or, we could convince the DMLE to get a Veritaserum questioning for him."
"Sorry, love, the Dementors are already here. That means that fonging idiot Fudge has ordered the Kiss for ol' Padfoot."
Right before they'd married, he'd started using the term 'fong' instead of other curse words so as to be able to curse in front of his wife, but not be upbraided for it. Harry thought it was very clever of him. She tolerated his lunacy. He was male, after all.
Waving her hands at his negativity, she glowered, "As I said. If we get a Veritaserum questioning of him…or maybe we redo the Quibbler article but this time they interview Padfoot and not you? That could throw enough public doubt on the situation to warrant a real investigation and questioning."
Eyes wide and mouth curled in a smile, Harry jumped on Hermione. Laughing, they rolled about in the grass. She shrieked when he began to tickle her. Her retaliation caused squeals of laughter. They ended up entwined and lips pressed together in a passionate embrace that's usually not seen by couples a decade their senior.
Breaking apart, he whispered, "I love you so much.
"And I you, beloved." Running her hand through his hair in an affectionate, proprietary manner, she then kissed him on the forehead. "What class are we missing?"
Rolling off her, he exhaled. "No clue." His face scrunched up as a thought occurred to him. "Love, why are we staying in school? We both can pass our NEWTs today, much less OWLs."
Rolling over toward her, he propped his head on his hand and traced imaginary designs on her flat stomach. "We have plenty of money with my inheritance. We never have to work another day in our lives and we'd still leave our children a fortune. What do you say we kill Voldemort, free Sirius and then tell the world to bugger off?"
She smiled and rolled her eyes. "If I had any doubts that the person in your body was my husband, they've all been erased." Chuckling she said, "Love, if the Ministry ever found out that we've time travelled, do you really think they'd ever let us out of the Department of Mysteries? We have to play the part."
He scowled and nodded. "Too right. Fong."
Rolling on her side to face him. She played with the buttons on his shirt. "However, we can still be extremely mature teenagers who study hard and score exceptionally in their courses."
"Yes, you." She poked him in the chest. "After the incredible trauma of the Chamber and the Basilisk, you've realized that you really should apply yourself in your studies so you don't have to rely on luck." He looked at her blankly, "Or at least that's what we'll tell everyone."
He laughed and leaned in for a kiss. Afterwards he mentioned, "I'll need to see Minerva tonight. I'm not taking fonging Divination with that anointed sovereign of sighs and groans. I'll sign up for Runes and Arithmancy with you."
"And sit in the back and snog?"
He smiled widely, "If you insist, Mrs. Potter."
She sat up and looked about. Seeing no one, she Disillusioned both of them and then pulled him close. "I find us completely alone Mr. Potter."
"I have need of you husband."
Two hours later, Harry and Hermione knocked on Professor McGonagall's office door.
Hearing her smooth burr again, they couldn't help smiling to each other as they entered the room.
Earlier, after picking grass and burrs out of each other's hair, they'd had quite a long discussion about the advisability of trusting anyone with their secret, even their old friend.
"Are you sure we should confide in Minerva?"
She frowned and replied, "Yes, I think so."
"She's Dumbledore's deputy right now. The woman who became a surrogate mother to us was very different than the woman who is up in the castle right now."
They went back and forth until Harry finally settled the discussion. "We'll tell her but if she reacts badly, I'll Obliviate her."
With a bit of a surprised expression, Hermione asked, "Do you really think that you can get the drop on her?"
His only response was a feral grin.
Back in the hallway, Hermione preceded Harry into the Gryffindor Head of House's quarters.
"Mr. Potter, Miss Granger, what is amiss?"
Smiling at her, Harry couldn't help himself, "Amiss? Professor, why would you think that I'm here because something is amiss?"
The middle aged Scot merely cocked an eyebrow, which was tantamount to a belly laugh for her.
Hermione gave Harry a playful tap in the ribs and scolded, "Behave."
This comfortable, intimate interaction from two of her favourite students caused the other eyebrow to rise.
Settling back in her chair, Minerva Fraser McGonagall decided to let them explain to her what was happening.
Harry didn't keep her in suspense too long. "Minerva, we've an explanation for you that will explain our newfound attitudes and why I feel it appropriate to address you by your Christian name."
"This should be good," the Transfiguration Mistress muttered.
Two hours later, they'd opened a fifty year old Glenmorangie and were halfway down the bottle. Minerva's small pensieve had been liberally used and on many occasions, tears had been shed by all three.
Wiping her face of wetness after watching Filius' spiral into depression and assumed death, she asked, "What's your plan?"
"Kill Voldemort, free Sirius, tell Dumbledore to bugger off and live happily ever after."
Minerva half-glared at Harry before she chuckled. "Seriously, what is your plan?"
Harry sighed and unthinkingly took Hermione's hand in his. "I was a bit…distraught…when I came back. To tell the truth, we really don't have much of a plan. We skived our afternoon classes to have a bit of a talk. I think we've agreed that we need to let this and next year happen in the same manner as last time. In substance at least." Turning to Hermione, he saw her nod.
Harry's expression suddenly hardened, "But I have to tell you Min, I'm going to kill Snape before the year is out."
Having seen their memories and heard the explanation, McGonagall contradicted Harry. "No you're not." When he glared at her, she finished, "I am."
After a long silence, the three erupted in laughter. To an outsider, they'd be calling the local sanatorium to pick up their newest inmates. To a soldier who'd seen the wars, he'd understand completely. This Minerva hadn't fought in the war to come, but she'd fought and lost in the wars that had been. A phrase that the veterans of the American Civil war used was, 'They've been in the tall grass and seen the elephant.' There is camaraderie amongst soldiers that others can't understand.
Through his laughter, Harry said, "Never fuck with a Highland woman or she'll likely tear off your balls and shove them down your throat."
"And make you like it," finished Hermione. It was a favourite saying of theirs and had come about in similar circumstances, though the whiskey hadn't been so fine.
Minerva saluted them both with her glass before downing the remains in one go.
"You can't tell Albus any of this," the older witch declared forcefully. "His heart is fully for the light, but he'd try to Obliviate you both to hell and back before you could finish your first sentence."
Hermione nodded, "We'd already come to that conclusion. On top of that, Albus isn't really our friend." She explained about their conclusions regarding the Headmaster and his manipulations.
Minerva sat back in her chair, nursing her refilled whiskey. "Damn." She stood a little unsteadily. Drawing her wand, she cast a Sobriety charm on herself before walking to the window. Looking out over the grounds, she told her abbreviated tale.
"Did I tell you about my husband…before?"
"No, you didn't."
She took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "I loved Jamie from my earliest memory. We grew up together, attended Hogwarts together and married shortly after graduation. He was killed by Death Eaters when we'd been married for four years.
"Albus came to me and asked me to teach Transfiguration. He'd been selected to be Headmaster and I'd just attained my Mastery. I had nothing at home so I came. I threw myself into teaching and the fight against Voldemort"
Bowing her head, she said, "Albus gave me a reason to go on. Teaching and the fight kept me going. What you've told me," she waved at her pensieve, "and shown me, shakes all I've ever believed about him at the very foundations."
Harry and Hermione watched their head of house reminisce with more than a bit of apprehension. Harry's wand was in his hand, lying in his lap.
Hermione saw what he was doing and elbowed him. When he looked over at her, she frowned and shook her head in negation. He could almost read her mind, Not yet.
Nodding, he turned back to the woman he respected above most else on the planet and waited.
After a long moment, Minerva acceded to the desires of her heart. "I'll protect your secrets and help you with what I am able. I can do no less for my children, can I?"
1. I own nothing.
2. Just like Harry and Gabi, this story wouldn't leave me alone until I put it on electronic paper. Also, just like Harry and Gabi, this story is very back burner until I finish up what's directly in front of me. Of note, I've begun to edit and re-write To Stand Against the Darkness. I will repost when the entire story is complete. Don't expect anything for a few months, but when it starts to repost, the story will be finished.
3. Obviously, I've stolen significant plot devices from Viridian's Harry Potter and the Nightmares of Future's Past. I like to consider it flattery, not theft. Why invent a device for a fan fiction when Matthew created a fantastic device already? The italicized quote from in the text is lifted directly from NoFP. The big difference between NoFP and The End and the Beginning is twofold: Harry came back for his love in my fic. Everyone else is gravy. In NoFP he came back for them all. It seems a small difference, but will show up with some larger effects. The other difference is that Harry hadn't won. As such, he doesn't know how to beat his nemesis.
4. Just like all my other stories: Ignore Horcurxes.