J.K. Rowling owns—I just play.
She ran through her child hood home, activating previously set runes and wards with a simple brush of her hand even as she ducked and evaded the spells they were firing at her.
Her throat was dry and her mouth gasping, not enough air in her even to shout at her betrayers or scream at the futility of it all. She had been expecting this, she reasoned with herself, she shouldn't have to scream because she saw it coming. She prepared and researched and schemed for the worst possible outcome.
But, somehow, Hermione still hurt.
Choking on plaster dust and evading shattering glass she managed to slip into the basement door as shouts and anger and magic erupted around her.
She would have laughed if she could have, but there was dust in her throat and no air in her lungs for even a chuckle. They'd thought that by destroying her wand they could destroy her, and she'd showed them.
For all she was muggle, she was magic.
An absent piece of wood could never change that.
And they would have to accept it like it was—she was always better at magic anyway.
A scream finally did manage to make its way out her throat—more a choking squeak due to the environmental conditions—as the door splintered and then exploded around her.
She fell down the stairs into the basement, rolling in the debris from the bombarda that was cast.
Bruised and cut, her wide eyes spotted the last spell only in time for her to duck her head again and cover her neck with her arms—her home collapsed down on top of her.
Hermione looked up as best she could when the dust settled; a very dour and almost feral expression on her face as every muscle in her body tensed. She would have to do it. Her fall back plan hadn't been discussed with anyone, but Hermione was one to be prepared for every opportunity—she had thought this would happen, somewhat.
—But had never expected to be betrayed so badly. And her body was going into shock as her heart and brain couldn't process this. She had to talk herself up out of a mounting depressed feeling of futility; because she had planned. And no matter how it had happened she knew it had and she'd been as prepared as one could be.
She firmed and carefully twisted on her belly, trying to rearrange her body even as it was trapped in the wreckage and debris—nothing would stop her, her years of research would be put to good use.
The sounds of disapparition echoed strangely through dust and a perverse silence; that was fine. They could leave. She wouldn't panic, even if she was alone. She was planning.
Hermione coughed on some plaster dust, her tired eyes taking in broken beams and shattered walls.
She would make things better.
After carefully clearing a circular area as far as she could reach, she settled down on her collarbone to allow her hands free reign. She needed to make runes in the dust as she let a steady chant crescendo from her lips—this magic would bond with the remaining wards and runes she'd carefully crafted through her years at Hogwarts and carved into the very foundation of her house.
As she lost herself in the chant her eyes lit with her magic, her hair swayed with the movement of her breath and her frantic fingers.
Hours later, when her voice was hoarse and she was forcing it to shout out her chant, she finally felt her magic bond with the earth. A relieved cry came from her throat as her runes glowed, the ashes hissing as they were blown away by the power of her magical array.
Her last sighing breath of liberation was lost to magic and time as the earth did what it did best—heal.
Harry, paranoid and twitchy since the war (a condition that had successfully ended his relationship with one Ginevra Molly Weasley) was growing more paranoid and worried by the day.
While Hermione had gone to recover her parents (a process that might as well take months, like it seemed to have, due to all the safeguards she'd set up, some even against herself should she fall to the imperious) Harry had not heard from her in over three months. Though he recognized her need for independent closure with her parents, they'd both agreed to keep in contact.
Harry knew that, for Hermione, contact meant at least one letter every two weeks.
So he started digging around—no one really so involved in his life to pay attention and catch how hyper-focused he was becoming.
He sleuthed and investigated and forgot to eat and forgot to live.
Hermione was missing.
Harry wasn't used to her lacking presence. There was something lost viscerally—she had always been there, somehow, since their first year. Especially since The Hunt, Harry needed to know she was safe.
Somehow, he ended up at her old address.
Except he wasn't prepared for what he saw.
He'd never actually been to Hermione's home, but just seeing the skeletal remains of what had once sheltered her was like a blow to the gut. There was no roof or supporting walls—simply charred remnants of obvious spell damage and the sickly feeling left over from violent magic.
He fell to his knees, his eyes wide and his throat choked as he tried to take it all in. Anger grew in him—they'd destroyed her home—and its mounting presence gave him the energy to storm through the remains. Everywhere traces of magic assaulted him, evidence and emotion of a futile fight—maybe even more than three against one.
Harry hoped it was simple destruction, but he couldn't ignore the evidence of defensive spells.
With a hard swallow he apparated directly to Kingsley.
In a flurry of activity—two weeks that felt like years—they'd finally limited down the dominant magical signatures to two families. One was new blood—Hermione Granger. The other, hauntingly, held traces of a much familiar pureblood family: the Weasleys.
Harry tried to reason that a Weasley had been there defending Hermione, helping her escape. But he had started seeing enemies in every shadow.
Kingsley and Harry quietly sleuthed out alibis for all the Weasleys except one. In those two weeks of hell Harry learned more than he'd ever need to about wand lore and family magic, and he was horrified to recognize the utter truth he was faced with. Ronald Billius Weasley had attacked their friend, their other third.
It made him physically sick.
The next two weeks after that they were searching for any possible sign of Hermione or Ron or the Grangers—they all proved elusive, and questions kept on building.
After that Harry dove into research. He had half thoughts sometimes, of how excited Hermione would be reading these strange texts, but then he shook himself into reality. Hermione wasn't here, might never be here again.
She'd never have a comforting hug or ready answer again.
He had to discover this one on his own.
Finally, another few weeks ended in exasperation. Kingsley even admitting that he hadn't the foggiest what to do. In a desperate bid, he solemnly handed Harry a golden chain—a familiar hourglass encircled with runes.
"Catch them Harry, find our answers. We need to know why this happened after the war was over." They worked out safety signals in case something occurred, a password for the truth, and a password for lies in case of a deeper conspiracy. The clapped each other's back for luck, as two war weary men would, and then nodded at each other in a silent pact.
They would fix this.
Harry, setting his shoulders back, released a great sigh and nodded again before apparating back to the Granger's skeletal home. There he took one last glance at the property before counting out the necessary twists to take him back to the night that Hermione's childhood home became something of his living nightmares.
I don't know where this is going. I was inspired by so many other time stories, but wanted them to go in different directions. So this is my attempt at a time travel story. As I have no concrete plans, please bear with me and the long pauses between updates (if you're interested). I vaguely have a plan for three chapters, but I need to work out the details before I get my game on.
Thank you for your patience.