Disclaimer: Anything that you recognize from the Harry Potter books is not mine - it belongs to J.K. Rowling, the brilliant mastermind behind all of the Harry Potter books.
Times Like These, Times Like Those
"Harry Potter is dead. He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him. We bring his body as proof that your hero is gone."
Hermione Granger bit her lip to hold back the sobs that Voldemort's words meant to provoke. She wouldn't give him the pleasure of witnessing her pain and torment. She owed it to Harry to defy him until the end. Her sorrowful eyes turned to those around her, landing on the girl to her right. She looked as though the world had ended. Hermione reached down and squeezed her hand, hoping to comfort her. Because in many ways, Ginny Weasley's world had indeed ended.
"The battle is won. You have lost half of your fighters. My Death Eaters outnumber you and the Boy Who Lived is finished. There must be no more war. Anyone who continues to resist, man, woman or child, will be slaughtered, as will every member of their family. Come out of the castle, now, kneel before me, and you shall be spared. Your parents and children, your brothers and sisters will live, and be forgiven, and you will join me in the new world we shall build together."
The grounds went completely still, silent but for the sobs of Hagrid, who cradled Harry's limp body in his massive arms. He rocked the boy like a baby, but instead of willing for the boy to sleep he whispered and pleaded for him to wake. Harry did no such thing.
"No," a firm voice said from her left. The entire contents of the gathering turned to stare. Hermione screwed her eyes shut for the slightest of seconds before staring at him. He was so brave, yet foolish. If only he had learned to think before speaking as Hermione had urged him a million times in their Hogwarts days.
"Ronald Weasley, not now! You heard the man," a terrified Molly Weasley warned. She had already lost one son, and it was clear that she was not prepared to lose another, let alone her entire family. She knew it was wrong not to protest, but she couldn't watch her family die before her either. From all she knew of the Dark Lord, he always went through with his threats.
Voldemort laughed eerily, his dark red eyes taking an insane glint. "I knew I could count on a Weasely to volunteer," he said, imitating a schoolteacher. "Oh yes, you filthy little blood traitors will do well as an example. Bring me him," he ordered, "and his family immediately. And bring me his precious mudblood too."
The Death Eaters moved towards them and Hermione sprung into action. "Run," she screamed, tugging Ginny and Ron behind her. They sprinted in the direction of the castle, followed closely. Hermione heard screams and turned to see a pair of burly Death Eaters grabbing Mrs. Weasley by each of her plump arms. She tore her eyes away, knowing it was too late to go back now.
"Hermione, which way?" Ginny gasped. Hermione didn't waste her breath but rather sprinted up the stairs to her left. The other two followed her, their breathing ragged from panic and exertion. They could hear the Death Eaters' pause at the base of the steps, unsure of the direction they went. Hermione continued climbing and winding throughout the halls of the castle, trying her best to avoid the bodies that littered the wreckage.
"Quick, the room of requirements," she instructed, racing down the corridor only to be met by the deeply scarred face of Fenreir Greyback.
"Come to me, my pretty," he called out to her, licking his lips hungrily. "The Dark Lord has promised me you once he's through with you."
"Back off scum," Ron threatened before launching himself at the werewolf. He was quickly pinned to the wall by the much larger man. "Hermione, Ginny, run! Save yourselves!"
Ginny took off, intent on reaching the room and opening it as soon as she could. She knew without it open, they would never escape the Death Eaters. Hermione, however, stood frozen, caught between her own safety and that of her lover. "No," she said darkly, before throwing a curse at the werewolf's back. "Come on Ron, let's go," she called.
Ron scrambled behind her, and the two sprinted to where Ginny stood pacing back and forth. "Come on, come on, work!" she muttered under her breath. She had already paced the correct amount of times, yet the door still was not opening. She was beginning to panic. What if the door didn't appear? What if it had been destroyed during the battle? Despite her frantic thoughts, she continued pacing, concentrating on a safe place from which she would have the resources to save her family and friends.
The door suddenly appeared, although something was different. Ginny couldn't quite place it, but knew not to linger. She climbed through quickly, beckoning for Hermione and Ron to follow. Ron, however, did not follow, and stood a few feet away staring out the window. Hermione approached him carefully, and tugged on his arm.
"I can't, Hermione," he said, a pained expression on his face. "I got us all into this bloody mess and I'll get us out of it."
"Don't you see, Ron? This is our way out."
Ron shook his head. "What about everyone else? Are we just supposed to abandon them and never look back? This is all my fault, if I had just kept my damn mouth shut then we'd all be all right."
"Ron, it's too late now, come on!"
"No, I've got to save them, Hermione. I'm a Gryffindor, not a bloody Slytherin, and I refuse to hide here in safety while innocent people die because of me."
A high-pitched cackle interrupted their argument, and the pair spun around. Before them stood Bellatrix Lestrange.
"Poor little baby," she mocked gleefully, stepping forward to pinch Ron's cheeks painfully. "It's too late for them. They're dead, all gloriously, wonderfully, dead."
Ron jerked his head away from her cold hands, her long nails scratching him as he shook her off. "You're a liar," he spat. "They're alive, I know it."
Bellatrix cackled again and turned to Hermione.
"How interesting that a supposedly smart little girl like you would fall for such a fool. I suppose that shows your true intelligence: that of mud. Oh wait, you are mud." Bellatrix laughed cruelly at her own joke. Ron snarled and pointed his wand at her, drawing her attention back to himself. "Now, now, no need to act as a hero. You'll both die, and with you, the Weasley name shall die too. The whole family gone, exterminated, oh yes that is what you deserve, filthy scum! Avada Kedavra!"
Ron's eyes went wide as a blinding green flash came from Bellatrix's wand, and he crumpled before them. "Hermione, save them," he mustered, before his eyes glazed over and his heart stopped.
Hermione screamed in shock, causing Bellatrix to smile gleefully. "All dead, all dead!" She sung. "Finally all the filthy Weasley scum are dead!"
"No, they're not," Ginny snarled, coming out from the room. "I'm still here, aren't I?"
Bellatrix grinned and made to speak, but before she could utter a word Ginny killed her.
"Come on," Hermione said softly to the other girl, who had frozen in shock after committing her first murder. "Let's get to safety." Ginny nodded numbly and followed the brunette through the door. Before either had a chance to look around, the room began to spin, the lights flickering on and off, and the temperature changing sporadically.
Ginny sat up with a groan. Her entire body ached. Despite the pain, she twisted around to see the contents of the room. It was entirely empty besides herself and Hermione, who was slumped against the wall sleeping. Ginny shook her friend awake. "Hermione, where are we?"
Hermione surveyed the room and her mouth fell open. "I-I've no clue. Last thing I remember you had just killed Bellatrix Lestrange and we had gone into the room of requirements and it started spinning." Hermione frowned and turned to the other girl. "It's never done that before."
"I've never seen it empty before," Ginny said, her voice masked with confusion.
"Me neither. What did you wish for when you were trying to get it to open?"
"I wished for a place where we could hide out and stay safe. But I also wished that we could go someplace where we could do something to save everyone. That's before I found out that they were dead," Ginny said, her voice cracking at the mention of her family's fate. She began sobbing and Hermione hugged her tightly, tears pouring from her own eyes as well. She had momentarily forgotten about all the deaths and now it hit her just how many were gone forever.
"Ginny, we've got to help them. We can't just sit here crying," she said bravely, and helped the younger girl to stand. "Let's go into the hallway." They grasped their wands, and slowly eased the door open. Moonlight from the window across the way streamed in, illuminating the corridor, which was more or less empty. It was quiet except for the snores of Sir Barnabas the Barmy and his trolls, and was in the same condition as it had been during Hermione's many years at Hogwarts. Nowhere in the hall was evidence that any sort of battle had taken place. Ron and Bellatrix Lestrange's bodies were gone, and any damage appeared to have been repaired.
"This is... odd," Hermione murmured, taking in the sight before her.
"I didn't think the Death Eaters would clean up for awhile, if ever," Ginny said grimly. "I suppose they must have found the cooperation they needed pretty quickly if they had time to fix the place up."
Hermione nodded sadly. She had been hoping to see Ron's body, as much as it pained her, and she knew Ginny had hoped to as well. It would have provided some closure, a last moment of peace with him that they had never gotten. Hermione's heart sank, and she sat numbly against the wall. Ginny joined her, and the two sat in utter silence, just remembering what had passed. They didn't cry; they had already released all their tears while within the room of requirement. They remained frozen and staring for hours, letting the horror of the night sink in.
The moon had been rising when they had first emerged, and now it began to sink, yet Ginny and Hermione still had not moved. It was not until they heard footsteps that they were startled from their grieving, and returned to their minds. It was clearly unsafe for them to have stayed there for so long, and now they were going to pay for their stupidity. They tried to reach the room of requirement, but it was too late. The door did not open, and they were trapped. The footsteps were around the corner, and they tried to run but a barrier appeared between them and their escape.
The two turned to see Albus Dumbledore, dressed in a light blue nightgown, peering over his half-moon glasses at them. They exchanged a glance; what was he doing here? He had died the previous year, they had witnessed his funeral, and Harry had witnessed his death. There was no way he was still alive.
"Professor Dumbledore, what are you doing here? I thought you were, well, you know," Ginny trailed off, looking sad.
"What am I doing here? I believe you should rather explain your reasons for being in my castle," he said, his sharp blue eyes staring intently at them.
"What do you mean, professor? Don't you remember us? Hermione Granger and Ginny Weasley?"
Dumbledore looked surprised, and then was struck with a knowing look. "I do not know your names, however I do know a William Weasely. You do resemble him," he said, looking at Ginny thoughtfully.
"William Weasely? That's my grandfather," Ginny said, shocked.
"Interesting," Dumbledore said, before motioning for them to follow him. "I think, perhaps, we should take this conversation somewhere a bit more private."
Ginny looked around the office, and was pleased to see that it was the same way she remembered it. Hermione, too, had a look of recognition, as she surveyed the room. The portraits of the previous headmasters yawned sleepily, looking at them, some with annoyance, others with interest. Various tools and unknown objects sat on shelves, spinning and whirring curiously.
"Please sit," Dumbledore said. The two sat down in the armchairs before his desk, looking at him expectantly. Hermione frowned; Dumbledore looked younger than she had remembered. His face was not nearly as lined, and his hair still had traces of auburn, although it was mostly gray. "Lemon drop?" He offered, and Hermione and Ginny shook their heads, both smiling. "I take it we have met before? Or I suppose after," Dumbledore said with a kind smile.
"Yes, professor, of course we've met before. And what exactly do you mean by after?"
"Ah, yes, you yourselves have not yet figured it out. You see, due to Ms. Weasley's comment earlier, I am quite certain that something rather odd has happened."
"And what is that, sir?" questioned Ginny, wishing he would just say it already.
"What, Ms. Weasley, is today's date?"
Ginny's eyes narrowed. She didn't have time for silly questions, even if he was the greatest wizard ever. She was tired, hungry, and she had lost all that she lived for. She wanted answers now.
"May 2nd, sir," she replied, hoping for an answer immediately.
"Indeed. And what year?"
"So it is what I believed," the headmaster said with a smile. He held up a hand to stop Hermione's questioning, providing her with a gentle smile instead. "I shall let you discover it yourselves. Here, read this," he said, handing them a copy of the Daily Prophet.
Hermione and Ginny exchanged a glance, shrugged, and began to read the paper. It was the typical reports of attacks, and misleading information that it had always been. It was not until Hermione read an article on the disappearance of a wizard whom which she'd read about before that she realized something was very wrong. The man, Bartheby Bunt, had been mentioned in a history book. How was it possible that this man's story was being reported in the news, when much more important things had happened, not to mention more recent? Hermione frowned, and looked to the top of the paper at the date. She froze in shock. The paper clearly read May 2nd, 1961.
At last everything was beginning to make sense. The repaired hallway, the mention of Ginny's grandfather, and even Dumbledore's more youthful appearance. Somehow they had travelled back in time.
"Ginny," she said softly, pointing at the date, her hand shaking slightly from shock. The red head looked closer and gasped, her brown eyes wide.
"It is, in fact, the proper date," Dumbledore said gently, cementing the fact that it was not a fake and they truly were in the past. "I believe you have time travelled, although I do not know how."
"Neither do we, sir. One minute we had gone into the room of requirements, and then next thing we know, we woke up in it and it looked odd. It was empty sir, well besides us. And then, when we exited, the hallway was," Hermione paused, looking distant, "well, sir, it was different."
"Hmm, interesting. What happened before you entered the room?"
Dumbledore continued to question the girls for the better part of two hours, and they were beginning to tire. The headmaster had not shared any theories with them, yet, but Hermione was sure that he had some. The man was brilliant, and always seemed to have a sense of what was going on even if he did not know for sure.
Their talking was interrupted when a flash of light appeared from nowhere, and the desk was caught up in flames. "Aguamenti," Hermione cried, dowsing the flames with water. The flames continued however, until a loud pop was heard. Out of nowhere, a baby phoenix appeared, and the flames were gone. The desk had sustained no damages, and Dumbledore looked amused at the shock that played through both girls' eyes.
"Good thinking, Ms. Granger, however I assure you that Fawkes' flame will do no harm." Hermione nodded, relieved.
"Professor, what's on his leg?" Ginny asked, looking at the capsule in bewilderment. Dumbledore leaned forward to view the object more closely.
"How odd," he muttered, before removing it. "Please, excuse me for a moment," he said, standing and walking to a shelf behind him.
"What do you think it is?" Ginny asked.
"I've got no idea," Hermione replied, biting her lip. She didn't like not knowing.
Ginny fake gasped, and pretended to look surprised. "Are you saying," she paused, with a small grin to show that she was teasing, "that the smartest witch of our time doesn't know the answer to something?"
Hermione giggled quietly, and smacked her friend's arm lightly. They're conversation halted, though, when Dumbledore returned.
"The container held a letter," he said, waving the parchment carelessly in front of him. "And I believe that it is important for you to know the contents of this letter. It is from myself, oddly enough, and it-"
"Wait, sorry, sir, but from yourself? I don't know how to put this, but in our time you're, well, dead," Ginny said, and then covered her mouth. "Sorry, I don't know if I should have said that, what if it ruins things?"
Dumbledore waved her off. "Don't worry, Ms. Weasley, I will make no effort to stop my future death. As for the matter of a dead man sending me a letter, that I can explain. You see, Fawkes is no ordinary Phoenix. When he burns, he essentially dies. This allows him to interact with those who have passed. Him travelling through time, though, I cannot explain with full certainty." He paused, a twinkle in his eye. It was clear that this topic interested him, but then again, the man was interested in nearly everything. "Fawkes has been at Hogwarts for many years. He originally belonged to Godric Gryffindor, and has been passed through the headmasters for many years. He is, as I mentioned before, not an ordinary phoenix. I believe that perhaps the founders enchanted him to have certain abilities. This is, of course, a theory, so I am not sure."
"Wow," Hermione said in awe. Ginny reached out to stroke the bird's wing, and instead Fawkes climbed into her hand. He had just been reborn, and was the size of her palm.
"It looks as though Fawkes has taken a liking to you," Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling once more.
"Professor, if you don't mind me asking, what exactly did the letter say?" asked Hermione curiously. She didn't want to intrude, but she had a feeling the letter contained information about their recent arrival in the past.
"Ah, yes, of course. This note instructed me in what to do upon your arrival. It appears as though you have been sent back for a reason that is unknown to my future self, but he trusts you both with his life, or lack there of," Dumbledore said with a small chuckle. "Although he is not sure of the reason for your excursion, future me believes that you were meant to attend Hogwarts, not now, but in a few years. And for that reason he recommends that you take a de-aging potion so that you may grow up and adjust to this time. It is, unfortunately, unlikely that you will go back, however I shall look into it. Until then, I think it best to follow the instructions within this letter."
The girls sat silently, shocked. They would never return to their world. Their broken, defeated, Voldemort run world. It provided them with both a sense of safety and one of deep sadness. While it had become a hellhole, it was still their only home. Their lives were in the future, not in the past. At least they were safe for the time being, though.
"Sir, do you think perhaps we can have some time to think about this? I'm sorry, but I'm rather overwhelmed."
"Yes, of course, Ms. Granger. Why don't you and Ms. Weasley head down to the kitchens and grab a bite to eat. Afterwards, please return here and I will lead you to some quarters so that you may rest. I would invite you to rest in your previous dorm rooms, however it is the middle of the term and I do not want to make your presence known to my students, nor scare them."
"Yes sir, of course. Thank you, you've been very helpful and accepting, as always," Hermione said with a smile. Ginny, too, thanked him, before exiting and heading off towards the kitchens for a meal.
Hermione and Ginny sat at the table, staring glumly at their food. They had been hungry before, but after walking through the castle they couldn't eat. There had been too many reminders of the battle and too many reminders of the deaths.
"Hermione, what are we going to do?" asked Ginny, her voice filled with emotion.
"I don't know, I suppose listen to Dumbledore. There's nothing else we can do. We can't go back, even if we wanted, and I'm not sure I'd want to. Everything in our world is gone. I don't think I can stand it," Hermione said, her eyes watering slightly.
"Without Harry," Ginny began, but she couldn't finish. Tears streamed down her face and she reached for Hermione. "Without him, I'm not even sure I want to live anymore." Hermione nodded grimly. She felt the same way without Ron.
"I know, but we have to keep living. Harry and Ron would never forgive us if we didn't, you know that," Hermione said quietly. Ginny nodded, and released her friend. They sat in silence for a few moments, both engaged in their own thoughts.
"I'm sorry, Hermione. I'm just so shook up, you know, after that battle. I think it will do us some good to go back to being kids. It'll give us some time to heal, and I think we could both use that."
Hermione couldn't help but agree, and the two returned to Dumbledore with their answer.
"Are you sure?" Both girls nodded, and Dumbledore smiled. "Very well, then. I suppose I should inform you about what will happen after you take the potion. You will be changed to the age of one, and I will be placing you with a family. Ms. Weasley, because of your red hair and because of a hint my future self made, I've decided to place you in the Evan's household. I believe you should recognize that name."
Ginny smiled softly, and nodded. It was Harry's mother's last name. "So I'll be staying with Lily, then?"
Dumbledore smiled. "Yes, as her sister, in fact. As for you, Ms. Granger, you will be staying with the Snapes." Hermione opened her mouth to protest, but Dumbledore held up a hand. "While I am aware that there may be conflict in the future, I assure you that this is a good idea. Young Severus will soon need the love that only you can provide, and also this way Ms. Weasley and yourself may stay in contact. The Evans and the Snapes live close to each other, and I have no doubt that you will see each other often. Now, one last thing. Although you will be very young, you will have the memories you possess now. You must be careful to only share with those whom you trust, and only when it is necessary, as you could seriously skew the path this world is destined to take."
Hermione and Ginny nodded gravely before swearing to protect the information they held. With that, they each were given a small goblet filled with a blue, swirling potion, which they drank quickly. Dumbledore smiled at them one last time, and then levitated them to the beds he had transfigured. Within minutes, two baby girls laid in their places, one with shocking red locks, and the other with soft brunette fuzz.
A/N: Well, I hope everyone liked it. Please let me know your thoughts on it with a review, and if you have anything negative please let me know as well, but don't be too harsh! Anyways, I should really mention that Voldemort's first two little speeches in italics are both from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and can be found on pages 583-584. Also, I believe the dates are correct in this because I checked an online timeline on the Harry Potter Lexicon, but if they are incorrect feel free to correct me. I will not, however, be changing the date of May 2nd, because not only is it the day that the timeline says the dark lord falls, it's also my birthday, and quite honestly I think that's pretty cool... Yep, I'm a Harry Potter nerd :)
Also, the title of this chapter is named after the song Times Like These by Jack Johnson. It's a good song, so if you haven't heard it, then check it out! I thought it fit their predicament rather well.
P.S. Pleaaaase review. I'll give you a cookie! Well not literally, but you know what I mean... :)