Summary: Dumbledore finds Hermione's latest educational endeavor and remembers.
Rating: PG-13, for some intense themes.
This story is my entry in Remix/Redux VIII-the original story is "The Verbs and Times of Albus Dumbledore" by Kirby, which can be found at:
HERMIONE'S LESSON (THE CONTINUING EDUCATION REMIX)
Albus Dumbledore drifted quietly through the halls of Hogwarts, unnoticed by the students he passed. He was quite adept at casting disillusionment charms, and these daily journeys helped him keep a sense of how Hogwarts was doing without inhibiting his charges. The fact that he would not be making many more of these journeys before his time came made each trip more precious to him.
Dumbledore saw a small stack of papers on a nearby bench and walked over—the spot was away from the main hallways and was a quiet study nook. He was mildly surprised to see the ballpoint pen sitting on the stack, but the surprise faded when he recognized the neat, efficient writing on the front page—unmistakably Hermione Granger's. He picked up the papers and looked at them for a moment before confirming his assumption that this was not a Hogwarts assignment—it was a list of words, apparently in Spanish. Dumbledore smiled: it would be a trivial exercise for Hermione to cast a spell to understand conversational Spanish when she needed it, yet she took the time out of her busy schedule to learn it without magic, as she had French and Italian. Quite the thirst for knowledge, that one.
Dumbledore silently cast a translation spell and looked at the list, which now clearly revealed itself as a list of verbs. He blinked: as his death approached, he found himself contemplating the past more and more, and even a simple list of words could send his mind soaring into memories. The rest of the world faded out, and he remembered what had been as moisture gathered in the corners of his eyes.
"There's nothing more I can do—you'll be dead in a year or less."
Severus Snape's voice was uncharacteristically gentle as he spoke, and Albus took a moment to appreciate it before his mind went to the message conveyed: he had very little time left and much to do. He turned painfully to the Potions Master and replied, "You did your best, Severus—I thank you." Snape nodded briefly in acknowledgment, and the Headmaster continued, "But time is short, and I believe you had other news to pass on to me."
Albus watched as the gray-eyed girl in front of him transformed into a small cat, ran across the room onto a desk, and transformed back into the gray-eyed girl, who now watched her Transfiguration Professor with a nervous expression. Albus forced himself not to smile as he walked over to the girl, and was silent for fully five seconds before beginning to clap loudly. The girl flushed slightly as Dumbledore continued to applaud, then exclaimed, "Magnificent, Miss McGonagall—that level of control and speed is well beyond expectations for N.E.W.T. level Animagus examinations—much less those for someone who has attempted the mastery in her fifth year! At this rate, you'll have my job in no time!"
Minerva blushed again, and this time it was not subtle. "No one could replace you, Professor Dumbledore."
"Let us hope you are wrong, Miss McGonagall." Dumbledore's tone was calm, but intense enough to make Minerva shiver as the professor continued, "We all have a limited time in this world, and one of the comforts that help us bear that is the hope that we may be fortunate enough to see those who will follow us prove they are worthy of that task." Minerva nodded reluctantly, and Albus smiled at her and added, "For the moment, let us retire to the kitchen—you'll be rather hungry after that series of Animagus transformations."
As if in answer, Minerva's stomach growled, and both of them laughed before leaving the classroom.
"Do you think this is wise, Albus?" Professor McGonagall frowned as she looked across the Headmaster's desk at Dumbledore. "Hermione knows Time Turners exist, but she doesn't know yet that a student can be entrusted with one for educational purposes. She is already an obsessive worker—I fear she may use this option to a point where she becomes completely exhausted. We can consider other options if she really wants to take all of those extra courses."
"This is the best time for her to try this, Minerva." Dumbledore replied as he looked up at Fawkes sitting on his perch, then turned back to his Deputy Headmistress as he continued, "She still has two years left before her O.W.L.s—if her grades slip or she shows signs of stress we can intervene before it does any real damage to her record or her well-being. However, she is ultimately as sensible as she is bright—if she has taken on too much, I suspect she will let us know when the time is right."
McGonagall nodded, then chuckled as a thought occurred to her: "Can you imagine what it would have been like if the Marauders had gotten their hands on a Time Turner?"
Both professors shuddered, then laughed as Fawkes chimed in with a cheerful, amused trill.
"Have you lost your mind, Dumbledore? We can't allow a werewolf to attend Hogwarts!" Abraxas Malfoy wasn't quite shouting, but his voice echoed loudly in the Great Hall as he addressed the Board of Governors of Hogwarts. "Think of the risk to the children!"
"I have precautions prepared, Abraxas." Dumbledore's reply was calm and ordered, and the Board listened raptly as he continued, "Remus Lupin can be quietly segregated from the other students during his dangerous times, and his record and talents suggest that he will be a credit to the student body the rest of the time. Remus' time here at Hogwarts may allow us to develop a working routine for infected students. . .one that will let us turn a would-be undereducated threat to our society to a productive, well-adjusted asset to that society. I am prepared to stake my position on the outcome."
"You will be, Dumbledore." Malfoy muttered—but his vote was the only one in opposition: Remus Lupin would attend Hogwarts that fall.
Dumbledore walked quietly through the gardens at Hogwarts, smiling as he saw the just-graduated students walking by, clearly excited. He nodded to Sirius Black as he turned a corner around a hedge—then stopped short as he saw something he knew he would long remember.
James Potter was kneeling in front of Lily Evans about fifty feet away from Dumbledore—the redheaded witch's eyes were wide as she stared at the small box in his hand. James' lips were moving, but Dumbledore had the feeling that he had not yet finished his sentence before Lily burst out, "YES, YES, YES!" and literally tackled the startled young wizard, hugging him energetically as they fell to the ground.
Dumbledore cleared his throat, and the couple froze as they looked over at the Headmaster. Dumbledore smiled gently and commented, "You should be careful, Lily—he can't marry you if you break him in half before the ceremony." The new Hogwarts graduates laughed nervously, and Dumbledore winked and turned away—this was one time where his further assistance was definitely unnecessary.
Dumbledore watched the small boy walk up to the Sorting Hat, and studied his expression as the Hat did its work. He was so thin, thinner than his father had been at the same age—he wondered how well Harry had been eating, and why he seemed so timid. I will have to keep an eye on him—if he ends up in Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff he might not be ready for the hazards that await him-"
Dumbledore smiled gently in relief as a cheer went up from the red and gold table and Harry walked over to his new home.
Dumbledore sighed as the door to his office closed behind Harry. Clearly, the boy was hiding something, though he sensed no malice in the deception. Something has him frightened, and with the Chamber of Secrets open, I'd bet Galleons to Knuts that it has something to do with Tom and the fact that Harry is a Parseltongue.
Dumbledore walked to the window and looked out over the grounds. Harry may have crucial knowledge, but if I press too hard he may cease to trust me at all, and that would be too high a cost for even resolving this crisis to justify. He frowned and nodded slowly—he would wait, and hope that Harry would confide in him, or that the young wizard would once again manage to do something marvelous without organized assistance.
Dumbledore bowed his head as the clergyman spoke. Cedric's body lay in a closed cedar casket in the front of the hall, which was full with mourners. Dumbledore looked over to where Cho Chang sat with her parents, and had another pang of regret that Harry could not attend. He needs to be protected from the public backlash—they are not yet ready to admit that Voldemort is back. . .and Harry would not react well to the fact that this service is not acknowledging what killed Cedric.
Dumbledore looked over his shoulder, in the direction he knew Little Whinging lay. I will remember this day for you, Harry—and when the time comes I will share it with you. He turned back to the clergyman, and sat in still silence for the rest of the memorial service.
Dumbledore stirred from his reverie, and turned around to see Hermione looking at him with an odd expression. Apparently, his act of picking up the papers and holding them in midair had disrupted the disillusionment spell enough for her to have noticed him. He smiled at the Gryffindor prefect and said, "I found these papers and was examining them to see who they belonged to—it didn't take much work on my part, given the subject matter." Hermione flushed slightly at the implicit compliment, and Dumbledore handed her the papers and pen, adding, "You've saved me a trip to Professor McGonagall's office—have a pleasant evening."
Dumbledore turned to leave and was surprised when Hermione called out: "Professor. . .are you all right?"
Dumbledore smiled again, and turned back to the brilliant young witch before replying, "Knowledge is a rare treasure, Miss Granger—but if you are fated to live as long as I have, you will find that your attention is increasingly focused on memories. Don't forget to collect them in the meantime."
Hermione smiled politely—not understanding the cryptic words—and nodded to the Headmaster before departing. Dumbledore sighed, recast the disillusionment spell, and continued on his walk. He had much left to do on this day.
As always, comments are welcomed and desired.