Author's Notes: I don't own HP. There's plenty of Harry to go around!

Chapter 2: Contemplating Mortality

Harry woke up first with a dull headache. Looking around, he couldn't see anything at all, being enveloped in total darkness. Trying to resist the urge to panic, he searched his pockets for his wand, and muttered, "Lumos." The wand illuminated his surroundings, and he quickly remembered where he was. The Chamber of Secrets. Right... He was doing something down here, working on some project with Hermione...

Hermione! His eyes darted back and forth across the chamber in search of his friend. Whipping around, he finally saw her laying unconscious behind him. Rushing to her side, Harry knelt beside her, with one hand cradling her head and the other squeezing her hand. "Hermione! Are you alright? Hermione!"

He was getting desperate. He knew he couldn't lose her now. He had spent ages working with Hermione on this project, and he couldn't bear to see her die because of it. He knew they had shared their lives together, spending a good part of a decade at each other's side, keeping each other's secrets... Wait a minute, thought Harry. Where did that thought come from? I only met Hermione less than three years ago. Why does it feel like I've known her for so much longer? And... the project. He scrunched up his face, looking at the now-empty floor of the chamber. Well, it looks like it worked. The runes have anchored themselves into a specific moment in time... wait, how do I know what happened?

In his confusion, he started pacing around the Chamber. Ok, I've got to figure this out. What's happening to me? Oh, forget that, I have to take care of Hermione! She needs to go to the infirmary... He didn't have much time to think about it, however, as Hermione began to stir. Quickly running back to her, he conjured a glass and filled it with water. "Here you go, Hermione. How are you feeling?"

"Thanks, Harry." Taking the cup into her hands, she sipped the water, and immediately spat it into Harry's face. "Harry! Where did you get this water?"

Dripping wet with a thoroughly unamused look on his face, he replied, "I conjured it for you, Hermione. Jeez, did you think I scooped up some of that sewer water from the Chamber or something? Honestly."

"Um... sorry, Harry. That was the first thought that came to mind. I didn't know you learned the Aguamenti spell already."

Looking at her blankly, he began to say, "No, I haven't learned..." but then stopped himself. That was the spell he used. He had learned it ages ago... but when? Aguamenti was a conjuration, albeit one of the simplest ones. But they didn't even begin the simple conjuring spells in Transfiguration class until 4th or 5th year at least. Did Remus teach him that? No, he spent all the extra time mastering the Patronus spell... hm...

"What did you say, Harry?" Hermione looked up at him expectantly.

"I... err... I think I did learn the spell, but I don't remember when," Harry stated. That wasn't even half of it- he didn't just learn it, he had become so comfortable with the spell he performed it without thinking as he was running towards Hermione.

"Hm... that's odd. Well, thanks, anyways. I'm just glad I'm not drinking sewer water." Hermione grinned as she took another sip, clearly swallowing it. "Where'd you find this cup, anyways? It's really nice."

"I... I think I may have conjured that one as well."

"WHAT? Harry, this is a solid conjuration! This has got to be sixth year material!" Hermione held up the glass to her face, studying it while slowly turning it in her hands. "It's not just a simple glass, either. It's really nicely detailed. You've got the base a bit thicker so it balances really well, and there's these ridges around the sides so it's really easy to grip... When did you learn this?"

"I don't remember! Wait, no, I do remember... I think..." Harry strained as he tried to recall when exactly he got his lessons in conjuration, when an image struck him. "Err... Hermione... I think you taught me."

"What? I didn't..." Hermione looked up at Harry as she seemed to remember the same memory that Harry had. She giggled as she remembered Harry's first attempt at conjuration, a simple glass sphere, which ended up being slightly more oblong and squishy than a glass sphere had any right to be. "Oh, wait... I guess I did help you with it... back in sixth year."

Both Harry and Hermione paused, stunned at her words. Back in sixth year? They were both even more stunned when they realized that was the truth.

Staring at each other, both of them said at the same time, "We need to talk about this."

Looking around the dark chamber, which was still only being lit by Harry's wand, he stood up and held his hand out to Hermione. "Well, let's not do it here. This isn't exactly the most comfortable place to have some headache-inducing discussions."

Grabbing her hand and helping herself up, she said, "You're right, Harry. Do you have a place in mind?"

"I don't know. Let's just get out of here first, though."

When they stepped into Myrtle's bathroom, their stomachs rumbled. He looked over to Hermione, who was avoiding his gaze and looking to the floor with embarrassment. Grinning, he grabbed her hand and led her out of the bathroom. "Well, that settles it. We'll talk about this in the kitchens. Come on."

On their way to the basement, Harry noticed the halls were empty and dark. It was clearly past curfew. How long were they out? He muttered with his wand "Tempus". 12:30. Just after midnight. They should have finished their project well after dinner, but before curfew... around 9:00 or so. They must have been out for a few hours. Another thought struck him. What if they were unconscious for more than a day? Quickly, he said "Calendata". June 19th, 1994. It was still Sunday of the Hogsmeade weekend. Harry let out a long breath in relief. They were only unconscious for a few hours. Hopefully nobody would miss them, other than their dorm mates, since it was still a weekend.

Hermione watched Harry verify the date and time. "You know, you could just combine the two with the Calentempa spell. That'll show you the date and time."

Harry looked at her and asked, "Is this another piece of that future knowledge you have?"

Hermione shook her head and smiled. "Nope, this is one I actually learned back in first year. It helps keep me organized, you know."

Harry chuckled. Of course, he thought. Typical Hermione.

When they arrived at the fruity painting in the cellars, Harry tickled the pear and made his way into the kitchens. Hermione asked, "How did you know to do that?"

Harry replied, "Freaky future knowledge." Hermione nodded, as that seemed to be a perfectly acceptable answer for their actions in the past half hour.

"Dobby! We're feeling kind of hungry, would you mind getting us some food?" With a pop, the crazy house-elf appeared in front of Harry and saluted.

"Yes, Dobby is seeing Master Harry is not being at dinner! Dobby is getting food for Master Harry and friend Herm-nee!" With another pop, he disappeared again.

"Master Harry? When did this happen?" Hermione looked at Harry inquisitively.

"Err... I don't know, honestly. I think it was probably when I freed him from Malfoy last year... but I didn't know that he made me his master."

"Harry, you've got to free him! This is slave labour, you know. Those elves work tirelessly every day and people don't even bother acknowledging them." Hermione was getting rather worked up. This was clearly something she was passionate about.

"Don't try that Spew campaign again, Hermione! You found out why they need to have masters, after all!" Harry retorted. "Besides, you know I'll treat Dobby with all the dignity and respect he deserves for all his hard work."

"Spew? What do you mean, Spew?" Hermione was taken aback, but clearly remembered something along those lines.

"S.P.E.W. You know, where you tried to free the house elves, but then they ended up refusing to clean Gryffindor tower afterwards? You tried that... next year." Harry trailed off as the conversation drifted into confusing waters once again.

"Oh, right. S.P.E.W. Well, why not? It was..." Hermione fell silent quickly as the memories came back to her. The house-elf bond, she thought. I forgot about that... they do need masters to stay alive.

Their silence was short-lived, however, as Dobby and a dozen other Hogwarts House Elves came running up to them with plates of salad, mashed potatoes, grilled chicken, ribs, pasta, and other goodies, as well as pitchers of pumpkin juice. Their hunger overrode their argument as they quickly loaded up food onto their plates and began to eat. After a few minutes, Harry spoke up first. "You know, Hermione... mm... seeing as how confusing all this is... nom nom... I think we should start at the beginning."

"Harry! Swallow you food before you talk!" scolded Hermione. "Honestly! You're as bad as Ron!"

Gulping down the mashed potatoes in his mouth, Harry grinned sheepishly. "I'm sorry, Hermione. I think it's the first time I've had as much of an appetite as him, though."

Hermione smiled as she speared another piece of chicken with her fork. "Well, let's start then. You remember the glowing runes in the chamber, right?"

Harry nodded. "Yeah, they were getting brighter and brighter. I was standing right beside you."

Hermione continued, "I remember that pretty clearly too. Then there was a flash..."

Harry interrupted, "...and that knocked us out, didn't it? It looked like it was going so well, and I thought the runework was perfectly fine..."

Hermione tilted her head and stared at him. "You were sure? You haven't even taken runes yet... oh wait, this must be the future stuff again."

"Well, at least we know it worked. I'm pretty sure we sent back memories from the future, and that's how we know all this stuff."

"I agree. At least we know the project is a success... although I didn't anticipate it being so confusing."

Finishing up their meal, they thanked all the house elves, who bowed to them profusely. Dobby was nearly letting his nose hit the floor. Waving goodbye, they stepped back out to the hall.

"We should talk about this tomorrow, Harry. Let's just sleep on it tonight, and we'll talk about it at breakfast, alright?"

Harry agreed with her. They were already pretty tired, and it was getting late. It was a shame he had left his invisibility cloak in his trunk, but at least he still had the Marauder's Map with him. Opening it up and speaking the password, they made sure Filch was at the opposite end of the castle before quickly making their way up to Gryffindor tower. Thankfully, everyone else was in bed already, as they quietly bade each other goodbye in the common room and made their way up to their respective beds.

Both of them dreamed dreams of the future. An international competition, where Harry was forced to participate. The return of Voldemort, at the hands of Peter Pettigrew. Cedric was dead. Was he really? He remembered Cedric standing in the second-place position on the podium, clapping as Harry held a trophy. Voldemort holding the trophy? How was that possible? Another new teacher who seemed to be hell-bent on hunting down muggle-borns. Hermione wasn't safe! Sirius! Sirius was dead! Wait, no... he wasn't dead, he was at home, punishing Kreacher for lying. Where was his home again? There were Horcruxes! Dumbledore dying... and Snape killing him. Or was Dumbledore alive, and Snape dying? What was all of this?

Harry got out of bed early, as soon as the first rays of sunlight entered through the windows. He couldn't sleep. While his dreams weren't exactly nightmares, he needed to really sit and think about them. No, not dreams, thought Harry. Memories. He walked down to the common room and sat on the couch in front of the fireplace. I wish I could discuss this with Hermione, thought Harry.

As if his wish was granted, Hermione was quietly creeping down the stairs in her pyjamas. Seeing Harry, she picked up her pace, quickly rushing down the steps and joining him on the couch. "Couldn't sleep?" she asked.

"No, but the memories are getting clearer," he replied.

"Same with me. Do you remember when we went back in time from?"

Harry scrunched up his face in thought. "Hm... I think it was in fifth year, but it seems a bit confusing. I'm getting conflicting memories for some reason."

Hermione spoke slowly next. "Um, Harry... do you remember going back in time just before our OWLs?"

Harry looked at Hermione, more confused than ever. "What? No, that can't be right, Hermione. I definitely remember sixth year. I found an interesting potions textbook... and you helped teach me conjuration! That was definitely sixth year, you remembered that one, too!"

Hermione nodded. "But you remember fifth year too, right? I wanted to do a final test to see if the beacon was really working... so we made the Time travel runes to send our memories back. And it worked, don't you remember?"

Harry sorted through his memories again. Fifth year... fifth year... I remember a big pink toad not teaching anything... right! Hermione's project came up again!

"Yeah... I do remember going back now. But how does that explain how I remember sixth year happening?"

"Before you ask that... let me ask you... what electives did you take in fourth year?"

"Care of Magical Creatures and Divination, of course. Those are the ones I'm taking this year, and it's not as if I could just pick up something like Ancient Runes when I'm already a year behind..." Harry paused. Didn't he? This was odd. He had definitely learned Ancient Runes. Hermione helped him work through the third-year material and he caught up with the fourth years. He was in class with Hermione! But he also remembered being in Divination with Ron. And how could he possibly forget Hagrid's Blast-Ended skrewts? "Hermione... I remember taking Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Care of Magical Creatures and Divination. I don't suppose I got a time turner like you did this year, did I?"

Hermione shook her head. "I don't think that's what happened, Harry. I think... we went back in time more than once."

Harry's eyes bulged out of their sockets at the revelation. "Really? That definitely explains all the weird conflicting memories I have, for one..."

"Like what?" Hermione asked cautiously.

"Like... well, Voldemort gets resurrected at the end of the tournament next year..."

"The Triwizard Tournament?"

"Yeah... that's the one. But Cedric was killed in the process..." Harry's voice cracked as the painful memory made his heart jump.

"I'm sorry, Harry..." Hermione reached around Harry's back, soothing him. "I didn't mean to bring up such a bad memory for you."

"No, it's alright. In fact, I think it's better than alright... because I also remember pushing him out of the way and grabbing the cup by myself, and he was still alive when I got back."

"He's not the only one who died, though, is he?" asked Hermione, already knowing the answer.

"No... you remember it too, didn't you? Professor Dumbledore was murdered at the end of sixth year... I think that was a pretty big reason for us to travel back in time. Without him, the war against Voldemort would be... tough, to say the least. " Harry growled in frustration. "Ugh! I didn't think that helping you with your Runes OWL would lead to such a frustrating life, you know."

Hermione hugged Harry and buried her head in his shoulders. "I'm so sorry, Harry! I didn't mean to do this to you..."

Harry hugged her back, and quietly spoke into her ear. "I didn't mean it like that, Hermione. This thing you made seems to let us have second chances! Not many people get to have do-overs with their lives, right? I mean, if I ever get these memories sorted and figure out what to do with them, I think it's quite a blessing."

Hermione lifted her head from Harry's shoulders. "Really? You mean that?"

Smiling, Harry told her, "Yes. Your idea's brilliant! I honestly can't say it enough, but you're the most brilliant witch of our age. No, wait... you're the most brilliant witch ever. I'm pretty sure nobody else has ever figured out how to travel years backwards in time."

"Thanks, Harry." Hermione's eyelids were drooping, as she shifted to a more comfortable position on the couch. "I'll get this all figured out. I think I just need another nap before breakfast. We can talk about this all day."

"Yeah, that sounds good." Harry lowered his head against the armrest. A quick tempus told him it was still 7:00 AM. They could sleep for another two hours and still be in time for breakfast.

Ron woke up to an empty dorm. It was just past 9:30. Breakfast was being served, and he wasn't in the Great Hall? He quickly got up and went over to Harry's bed to wake him, but it was empty. What? He's already gone down to breakfast and he didn't wake me up? Sunday breakfast during a Hogsmeade weekend were Ron's favourite, and quite possibly the only reason he would ever wake up before noon on a weekend. The chocolate chip waffles are probably almost gone by now! I've got to get down there, fast!

Quickly swapping his pyjamas for the nearest t-shirt and pair of pants he could grab, he rushed out the door and thundered down the stairs. He was quickly stopped before he got to the bottom by his brothers, Fred and George. "Hey!" shouted Ron. "What's the big idea?"

"Quiet, dear Ronniekins," began one of the twins.

"This is a momentous occasion here."

"You'd better sit still and enjoy."

"Unless you've got a masterful prank planned..."

"...which we doubt, but miracles do happen..."

"...but don't you dare ruin our betting pool."

"Pranks? Betting? What are you two talking about?" asked Ron.

"Keep it down, Ron! We can't wake them up now..."

" have a gander yourself while they're still napping, yeah?"

His view was blocked by a crowd of Gryffindors who were all encircling the couch in front of the fireplace. Most of them were girls, whispering to each other and giggling, especially Parvati and Lavender. A very hushed murmur was going through the entire group. Pushing his way through, he could see a mop of messy black hair on the side of the couch. Is that Harry? He turned to Neville and asked him, "Is that Harry? Why's he sleeping down here?"

Neville looked at him and replied, "Oh... uh... maybe you should take a closer look... but before you do, I have to ask you something."

"Huh? What do you want to know?"

"Did you see Harry come up to bed last night?"

"Uh... no, I didn't," Ron answered. He must have come back to the tower really late... good thing he had the map handy. "He must have been doing something late last night, sneaking around the castle or something."

"Ohhh, so Harry didn't come up to bed, either?" Lavender cut in. "Well, I think that confirms it." She turned to Parvati, giggling like mad. Whispering to the group of girls behind her, most of them suddenly squealed in delight... except for one Ginny Weasley, who looked shocked, and quickly bolted towards the girls' dorm stairs.

Why do those girls keep giggling so much? Ron took another step closer, and saw a large, bushy mass of brown hair snuggled right in Harry's lap.

"WHAT?" Ron couldn't help but shout at the top of his lungs at the sight. Of course, given where he was standing, he was practically yelling that into Harry's ear. That caused him to jerk awake flailing his limbs, throwing Hermione off his lap. Hermione, of course, did very nearly the same thing, and the two of them tumbled off the couch in a messy pile.

The questions descended on them before they even knew what was going on. Ron was swept aside in the wave of gossipmongers.

"So, Harry, how long has this been going on?"

"Hermione! Tell us everything! Is Harry a good kisser?"

"How late were the two of you up last night?"

"Where were you two doing it? I didn't- I mean, nobody saw you at the Astronomy tower."

"Couldn't you two have hooked up next year? Bollocks, I was only a few months off... never figured the two of you would have moved so quickly."

Harry realized he was being gawked at by about half of Gryffindor tower at that moment. To his left were dozens of girls from second, third, and fourth year, and a few older ones as well. The looks on their faces ranged from delight to disappointment, and most of them seemed to be very talkative. On his right were Seamus, Dean, and Neville, his dorm-mates; the Weasley twins, grinning maniacally as usual; Ron, looking stunned; and Colin Creevy, clicking away at his camera.

"Colin! What are you doing? Why are you taking pictures of me?"

"Actually, Harry, he's not taking pictures of you... well, not only you," George answered for Colin, as the little boy scrambled away to avoid Harry's wrath.

Hermione, who had been completely silent up to this point, let out a small "eep." She was blushing furiously. Harry turned to face her when he heard the squeak. Looking back at George, he asked, "You haven't answered my question. Why are you taking pictures of us?"

"Well, that's obvious," answered Fred.

"We need evidence."



"We can't have people disputing the fact that the two of you are together, can we?"

"WHAT?" Harry and Hermione managed to shout in unison. "What makes you think that we're together?" asked Harry. Hermione managed to keep quiet, her eyes darting from the people, to the couch, to Harry, to Colin's camera, back to Harry...

"Well, Harry. You and Hermione were both up late last night, weren't you?" asked George.

"Err... yes..."

"And you were together, weren't you? Where were you to spending such a lovely evening?" asked Fred.

Harry looked at Hermione. He couldn't possibly tell everyone here about the Chamber. And he was such a horrible liar, especially under pressure like this. He replied with the only thing he can think of. "Um... we can't tell you."

"Perfectly understandable, Harry. There's no reason to share all the fine details with us. But do tell, how did the two of you end up on the couch here?" Back to George again. How did they keep coordinating things like this?

"We didn't sleep together here!"

"It sure looked like sleeping to us, Harry. You looked pretty comfortable there. We're pretty sure you just got up from an episode of sleep, not fainting."

"Unless you got really comfortable with Hermione here and she was nice enough to you to make you faint." The twins looked at each other, then back to Harry and Hermione, wiggling their eyebrows. "Anything you'd care to share,

"Huh?" Harry didn't quite catch that last one. People were staring at him with a keen interest. Oh nuts, thought Harry. This is even worse than the whole Heir of Slytherin thing last year. I've got to get out of here. Harry got up quickly, pulling Hermione up with him. "Let's go, Hermione. We should get away from everyone... let's go to Hogsmeade, alright?"

Hermione didn't have time to protest as Harry pulled her through the passageway out of Gryffindor Tower.

"Well, I think that settles it."

"It certainly does, my dear brother."

"Two dates in as many days."

"Not to mention a night on the couch, too. I didn't even think that would happen until the third date, at least."

"Well, you know Harry. He's a man of action, isn't he?"

"Certainly is. Never a dull year with Harry around."

"Let's go down to the Great Hall and make our announcement. Most of the school should be at breakfast by now."

The Gryffindor common room quickly emptied, save for Ron, who was still slumped on a couch, looking completely shocked. He had completely forgotten about the last chocolate waffles of the year.

"Hear ye, Hear ye!" Fred and George stood at the front of the Great hall. One of them was ringing a bell, while the other was holding a large piece of parchment, much like a scroll. "The results of the Harry Potter's Precious Person Pool have been compiled. Drumroll, please."

The bell was quickly transfigured into a drum set, and George (or was it Fred?) began drumming.

"For bets on 'June of Third Year', which pays out at four to one odds- congratulations to Susan Bones, Penelope Clearwater, Parvati Patil, Lavender Brown, and Alex Stebbings. Next, for bets on 'June of Third Year with Hermione Granger', which pays out at ten to one odds- congratulations to Madam Pomfrey and Luna Lovegood! Winners, please contact us this evening to collect your winnings."

Rolling up the scroll of parchment and putting away the drum set, the twins marched out of the Great Hall. As soon as they were out the doors, pandemonium ensued at three of the four tables.

Harry and Hermione used the secret passage into Honeydukes, since he still didn't have a permission slip to enter Hogsmeade. Most of the students didn't remember that small detail, however, so they only had to be careful not to be spotted by staff members. Having missed breakfast, the two of them quickly made their way to Three Broomsticks, where Harry ordered a full English breakfast, while Hermione had two eggies in the basket.

"You know, everyone thinks we're a couple, now." Hermione was glancing back and forth between her breakfast and Harry.

"Yeah, that much is obvious," said Harry, stirring his hash browns with his fork. "We can't let that rumour spread, right?"

"No, we can't. Can you imagine? You're the Boy-Who-Lived! Going out with a plain muggleborn girl... the press would have a field day with you..." Hermione seemed to have lost her appetite, and wasn't touching the remaining pieces of toast on her plate.

"What? You're thinking that's the problem? Hermione, we have to stop them just because it's not the truth! I wouldn't mind if you were my girlfriend, but you aren't, right? You're just my best friend." Harry replied. He thought he saw Hermione's expression brighten for a split second, but she was quickly looking down at her plate again.

"...Right. Of course. We're just friends. This whole situation is one big misunderstanding." Hermione straightened up and looked at Harry. Taking a deep breath and exhaling, calming her nerves, she seemed to want to say something else, but held off. They finished their breakfast in silence, after which Harry paid and they left the inn to walk around town.

They spent the rest of the day discussing what they could remember of the future. It was difficult, but the most poignant memories were also the most emotionally intense ones. They both concluded that the first time they went back, Voldemort had returned at the end of Harry's fourth year, at the end of the tournament. At the end of fifth year, Hermione decided to test out her beacon once and for all and go back in time. That started the next two trips, but they were unsure of which one was which. In one, Professor Snape suddenly dropped dead at the staff table at the end of sixth year, and Dumbledore died just before the train ride home. In another, Professor Dumbledore died earlier, killed by Professor Snape. All three, however, featured Voldemort returning in fourth year. He couldn't quite remember how it happened each time, but it did have something to do with a trophy cup.

As Hermione helped Harry piece together the answers, she seemed to grow more and more distracted by her thoughts. Harry tried to cheer her up by buying her some sweets at Honeydukes, but quickly remembered that she was raised by dentists, and didn't have much of a sweet tooth. Zonko's was definitely not her thing, but they finally settled on browsing the bookstore for a few hours. Not wanting to dine at the same restaurant twice in one day, they inadvertently wandered into Madam Puddifoot's tea shop, but left as quickly as they could. Eventually, they managed to find Cleavican's Fine Meats, the local butcher who also sold sandwiches, and bought some simple smoked meat sandwiches for lunch.

Throughout the day, they had to avoid as many familiar faces as possible, since Harry forgot to bring his invisibility cloak with him in his haste to get out of Gryffindor Tower. Every time Hermione saw a staff member, she and Harry had to quickly duck into an alleyway to hide. When it was nearing dinnertime, they felt they had avoided their classmates long enough that, at the very least, they wouldn't fuel any more rumours. They made their way back to Honeydukes, and took the secret passage back to the castle.

As they sat down for dinner, the twins flanked them on either side. "Well, Harry, Hermione. The two of you have made us a lot of money today. We'd like to thank you."

Harry was completely flummoxed. "What are you talking about? What did we do?"

"Well, you see, many people were unsatisfied with your performance on the couch this morning," said George, sitting to Harry's left.

"Then again, we can't speak for Hermione, and she's really the only one that counts, eh, Harry?"

Fred, on Hermione's right, winked at him. Hermione scowled at him.

"Even photographic evidence wasn't enough for a few of them." At this, both Harry and Hermione glared down the table at Colin Creevy, who spilled his pumpkin juice.

"But nobody could deny your second date with Hermione."

Both of them looked at each other, and then at the twins sitting beside them, speechless. Hermione recovered first. "...Date? What date? Wait, what do you mean by second date?"

"We couldn't imagine a more perfect day for a young couple."

"Yes, with breakfast at Three Broomsticks, jaunts to every which shop around Hogsmeade..."

"...including a notable visit to Madam Puddingfoot's..."

"...followed by a picnic lunch..."

"Don't forget the snogging."

"Oh, of course. The most important part of any date. The secretive, back-alley snogging sessions."

Both Harry and Hermione blushed furiously at this. "We weren't snogging!" Harry declared. "We didn't even have anything at Madam Puddingfoot's!"

Hermione continued for him. "And we weren't snogging in the alleys! In case you forgot, Harry isn't allowed in Hogsmeade!" she continued in an angry, but hushed, whisper. "Look, Harry and I aren't a couple, right, Harry?"

"No... we're just friends," he confirmed. "Is everyone going to be bothering us about this tonight?"

The twins looked at each other. "Well, the betting pool did involve nearly two hundred people in total... I think they'd be expecting some answers. The others might just be curious, though."

"Betting pool? What's this all about?" asked Hermione.

"Who and when Harry's first love would be."

"You were taking bets on Harry's love life? I can't believe the nerve of you two!" screeched Hermione. "What would the professors say?"

"Well... Professor McGonagall said 'Five Galleons on December, Fourth Year.'"

Hermione didn't know if she should feel defeated, or angrier. Grabbing Harry, she quickly said, "We're not going to deal with this mess. Look, we're not a couple, all bets are off, and we're leaving." The two of them quickly left, quickly heading for the second floor bathroom.

Hermione was still pacing back and forth, muttering to herself, half an hour after leaving dinner. Harry decided to interrupt her by asking, "Hermione? Can you tell me what was bothering you today?"

She stopped pacing and stared at him. "Isn't it obvious? The twins, and that stupid pool they had on your love life!"

"No, I meant earlier in the day, back in Hogsmeade. When we started to figure out what was going on with the future." He gestured to Hermione to sit down beside him. "Well, in all three cases, it seems like Voldemort's returning. I don't think we can stop that. Is that what got you down?"

"What? No, it's not V-Vo-Voldemort. I'm not too worried about him... not at the moment, anyways."

"What? Really? You've got bigger things to worry about than Voldemort?" Harry was amazed. Was there anything scarier out there than Voldemort being resurrected and returning to power? Asking a girl out on a date, maybe.

"Yes... sort of. Tell me, Harry, have you ever heard of the Anthropic Principle?"

Harry didn't bother replying, instead only frown slightly with a questioning look on his face.

"Oh, right. Of course not. Well, basically, what it says is that for the universe to be observed, there has to be something there to observe it. And it works the other way around, too. The observer has to be able to exist in that particular universe to observe it."

"That sounds kind of... obvious. And circular. How is that scarier than Voldemort?"

"I'm getting to that! Um, next question... do you remember how V-Voldemort was doing right before we jumped back each time?"

"From what I remember, he was gaining power. Things weren't looking good. That's probably why we went back in time, right?"

"Yes, I think so too. Which brings me to my next point. Why did we stop?"

"Stop? What do you mean?"

"Well, when we activated the beacon, all our past trips flooded our memories all at once, right? We managed to figure out that we took three trips backwards in time."


"So, that means... This time around, it's our last trip, isn't it? We're not going back again, or else we would have the memory of it."

"No, we might be... wait, no, that wouldn't make sense. If it all comes back at once... huh, you're right. That's why you asked me about that principle-thingy right?"

"Anthropic Principle. And the worst part is, I don't remember us getting any closer to defeating Voldemort on all our trips back. I don't think we'll have any kind of major advantage this time around, either." Hermione was shaking as she said this, and nearly crying.

"What are you saying, Hermione?" Harry could sense her fear, and it made him feel afraid as well.

"I'm saying that... we're experiencing this as our... our last trip... because I don't think... we might not... survive to go back again," she answered quietly. Crying, she hugged Harry, and he held her. Neither one could think of an alternative explanation.

Author's Chapter End Notes:

- Chapter revised. I've made a few minor changes here to possibly help vague-ify things. I might need to revise again as the story develops, but there's nothing major that will change in the plot.