Chapter 14: Got A Secret

Jean, Lily and the Marauder's next meeting with Professor Kinshield landed on the day after the full moon and the group couldn't be less prepared for their secret session. Frazzled, Jean rushed down corridor after corridor, turning up her sleeve to look at her watch. Se had ninety minutes to collect her friends who were scattered about Hogwarts. Jean turned sharply on her heel and skidded into the Hospital Wing, presently unwatched by its ward. Halfway down the room Remus was propped up on a stack of pillows, the undone buttons of his nightshirt exposing the bandaged ribs Moony had cracked during his transformation, with Lily in a chair beside him, using his covered legs as a table. Lily looked up upon Jean's entry. "Hey," she said, placing her quill on the nightstand. "You finish that potions essay?"

Jean patted her satchel, "just now, along with every other bit of homework they've assigned us."

Lily chuckled, nodding her head in agreement. "Well look at you for being on the ball. I'm nowhere near finished with what needs to be done. I feel like I'm about to drop."

"Finals and N.E.W.T.s are only a few weeks away; and then it's all downhill from there," Remus quipped, thumbing through his textbook. The room was quiet for a moment and Lily picked up her quill.

"Lily," said Jean, "you know what day it is right?"

Lily nodded, her head still bent to her work. "It's Friday." Lily gasped, her hand flying to her mouth. "Oh no," she said, her emerald eyes widening. "I completely forgot." Lily glanced up at Jean. "I can't go."

Jean deflated slightly, hoping she didn't show it. "You sure?"

"Jean," said Lily, splaying her hands to showcase what was spread across the lower half of Remus' body. "I'm sorry, but I'm up to my eyeballs in graduation invitations and Remus is bedridden."

"Why don't you go out to the pitch and get James and Sirius," interjected Remus. "You three and Peter can go together and we can come next week."

Jean nodded. "Where is Peter by the way? I haven't seen him all day."

Remus shrugged his shoulders. "I don't know. I assumed he was with you."

"Try looking for him down at the pitch," offered Lily, sealing an envelope and stamping it with the Hogwarts seal.

"I will," said Jean, retreating out of the room. "See you tonight."

"See you tonight. Have a good session." Lily's voice echoed down the corridor after Jean.

Jean checked her watch twice more before she reached the pitch. In the fading light, Jean spied in the sky the Gryffindor team, this time paired with Hufflepuff, their golden windbreakers holding the last remnants of sunlight. Jean leaned out over the railing. "Liz," she called out to the Gryffindor seeker as she flew by. "Liz, can you get James and Sirius for me? It's important. Kostova nodded, looping backwards and up to the clump of players.

James and Sirius broke from the group and glided down to Jean, slowing breaking to a halt but not dismounting. "Hey," said James, adjusting the sports glasses that wrapped around his face, "everything all right?"

"Yeah," said Jean, "I just wanted to remind you that it was Friday."

James exhaled long and hard through his nose while Sirius drummed his fingers over the wooden railing. "It is Friday, isn't it," murmured James to himself. He turned his head. "Sirius, we're going to have to miss today."

Sirius wilted. "Do we have to," he asked, his digits still tittering over the planks as if he could worry out an answer from them. Jean placed her palm over Sirius' hand and, although his fingers were still curved, he stilled. "We're the ones that asked him to do this for us."

"I know," James conceded, "but we have other priorities right now. Slytherin is practicing every day, too." Sirius was silent for a moment. "It's not for too much longer," James coaxed.

Sirius nodded once. "Alright," he turned to look at Jean. "You, Lily and Peter are going to have to go without us."

"Lily can't go either," said Jean, "she's writing out the graduation invitations."

James huffed, running a hand through his hair. "I feel bad she has to do that all by herself. Head Boy and Head Girl should be splitting that responsibility."

"Remus and Lily are keeping each other company in the Hospital Wing so she's not that miserable."

James seemed placated by that. "Well," said James, "go find Peter then give Professor Kinshield our apologies."

"You mean Peter isn't here?" said Jean, her head on a swivel around the pitch.

Sirius shook his head. "We haven't seen him all afternoon."

Jean worried her lower lip, thinking. "He wasn't with Remus and Lily either."

James nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders. "You'll find him. He doesn't have that many hiding places." James twisted his head to look over his shoulder. "We need to head back. Come on, Sirius."

"I'll be up in a minute," said Sirius. James nodded once, turned and flew away. Sirius swerved to the side and lined himself up with the railing, slipping off his broom to settle on it. Sirius bounced the handle of his broomstick against the wood akin to drumming his fingers. "Something's worrying you," Sirius said.

Jean folded her arms, letting the tension within her stretch like a sore muscle. "Professor Kinshield wouldn't be here if Professor Dumbledore wasn't worried."

Sirius twisted his body to face her, his fingers gently encircling her arm. "I know you feel anxious about why Professor Kinshield and the others are here, and you have every right to be." Sirius ran his finger over the raised skin of Jean's scar hidden beneath her sleeve. Jean found the movement oddly soothing. "But, Professor Dumbledore brought Professor Kinshield here. They're thinking about it, planning for whatever they think is coming. Isn't that worth anything?"

Jean shifted, her thumbs slowing spinning around themselves. "A little," she relented, allowing Sirius' words to comfort her in spite of the evidence in her memory stacked against them. "I just…" She drifted off, her mind going back to all of Dumbledore's planning, all of his contingencies and how sometimes they weren't enough. As she thought about it, Jean realized that nothing in Dumbledore's lifetime was enough to stop Voldemort. Jean shuddered.

"What?" Sirius prompted.

"Nothing." Jean shucked her dark thoughts off like a wet cloak. She turned up her sleeve and looked at her watch. "I need to leave now if I'm going to find Peter and get to Kinshield on time."

"Alright," said Sirius. He drew her to him by her arm and kissed her.

"Sirius," said Jean, pulling away from him, "not here."

"Oh, this again," said Sirius laughingly, not relinquishing his hold or the closeness of their bodies. "Honestly Jean, you're the only woman who's never actively advertized I was dating them."

"I'm not trying to keep in a secret," replied Jean playfully, "I just don't want to cause a circus by the whole school seeing us snog on the side of the stadium."

Sirius let out a bark like laugh, gently pulling on Jean's arm until she was practically in his lap, his other arm wrapping around her shoulders. "One day you won't care if I kiss you in front of the entire school." Sirius' voice was low and gravelly but at the same time velvet and smooth. Jean licked her flushed lips. "One day I am going to kiss you in front of the entire school."

"And until that time," said Jean at last unwrapping Sirius' arm to free herself, leaving her statement open ended. She pecked him quickly on the cheek in her movement. "Bye Sirius," she said softly, standing at the same time.

Sirius held up his hand until the tips of his fingers could no longer touch her. "Bye sweetheart," he said, "see you later tonight." Sirius swung onto his broom as Jean descended the stadium steps. Suddenly, Jean felt a strong gust of wind, the soft slap of broomstick bristles against her shoulder, and warm wet lips on her own. Jean looked up, bemused, holding a hand over her eyes as Sirius shot towards the sun.

Once inside the castle, Jean found Peter unexpectedly, almost running into him as he turned a corner. "Jean," said Peter, looking quite surprised. "I thought you and the others would be at Kinshield's by now."

"Yeah, that's why I've been looking for you. Come on, we're going to be late…"

"Jean," said Peter trying to interrupt.

"…The other's couldn't make it. Lily's doing Head Girl stuff and James and Sirius are both at quidditch practice…"

"Jean, wait. I don't want to go."

It wasn't what he said but rather how he said it that made Jean pause and look at Peter. Sirius, James and Lily had all said that they couldn't go. Peter, on the other hand, said that he didn't want to. "When you say that," said Jean, "you mean…"

"That I don't want to," answered Peter, "anymore."

Jean cocked her head slightly, folding her fingers together, a saddened look falling onto her face. "Why?"

Peter twisted his foot and fidgeted, his hands settling in one place and then fluttering to another. His small, watery eyes looked everywhere but at Jean. "Lily," he began, "Moony, Padfoot, and Prongs are good, and your really good, training with Professor Kinshield, and I'm just not." The pad of his pudgy thumb stirred his wand in his pocket. "I've never been great with magic and I've always been okay with that. I've always been okay with Remus, Sirius and James taking care of all the things I couldn't. But, ever since you moved here and these secret meetings with an undercover auror…It's just embarrassing and I'm tired. I'm tired with trying to keep up. I'm tired of trying to be something that I'm not."

Jean stood there silent for a long time, watching Peter's stringy hair fall into his face as he trembled before her. Once again, Peter reminded Jean of Harry before he found out he was a wizard and how lonely and out of place he always said he was, how no matter what he did, no matter how hard he tried, he never seemed to fit the mold others expected of him and at one point he expected of himself. "Peter," said Jean gently. Peter flinched as he looked up, his eyes almost expecting a reprimand. "I think this is something you really need to talk about with the boys."

"No," said Peter sharply, "I can't tell them, and you can't either. Promise me. I don't want them to be more disappointed in me than they already are."

"You know that's not true Peter. You've been friends since first year. You've been friends this long because of who you are not because of what you can and can't do."

"Just promise me you won't say anything Jean, please." Peter looked up at her and for the first time she saw how Peter looked at Sirius and James and Remus pointed in her direction; a look of undiluted respect, hero-worship. It unsettled her. "I won't tell," she said, "but I still think you should."

Peter sighed, looking away. He adjusted the straps on his pack. "I've gotta go Jean. I've got that potions paper to write."

Jean glanced guiltily at her satchel, knowing that Peter's essay would take twice as along and double the effort for him. "Okay. See you tonight then?"

"Yeah," said Peter simply, and shuffled away. Jean watched Peter's receding form with a pang in her heart but also an uncomfortable twist in her stomach. For the first time in a long time Jean had to remind herself that in her past Peter Pettigrew was a Death Eater.

Jean was already late by the time she skidded to a stop in front of the door to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. She knocked quickly on the door, but when she didn't hear anything she pushed the door open. "Professor," she called out. "Professor Kinshield?" The room looked like it had this afternoon. The desks were arranged in a neat grid. Kinshield's desk was clean and bare. The undercover Auror was not in his usual position perched on the edge of his desk and the flames in the braziers of the wall were low, as if the room was not to be used until Monday morning. "Professor," said Jean again stepping in to the room, the door swinging shut behind her, "are you there?"

"I'm here," Kinshield's tenor voice bounced around the cavernous room. "I'm in my office."

Jean's eyes drifted up to the slivers of light that slipped around the edges of the door atop the stone staircase that scaled the back wall. Jean leaned against Kinshield's desk waiting for her professor to emerge. "It's just me tonight, professor," said Jean. "The others couldn't make it. They asked me to send their apologies."

"That's fine," Kinshield answered, his voice sounding strangely smooth. "Come up to my office and then we'll start."

Jean arched her eyebrow, wondering how they were supposed to train in Kinshield's office, but did as she was told and ascended the stairs to the smaller room. Magnus Kinshield's office looked similar to how Harry described Professor Lupin's office was, if Lupin was less mobile and had the finances to afford better stuff. Bookshelves were almost uncomfortably squeezed around the walls of the room like members in an over crowded elevator. Books were stacked on shelves and stacked on each other within those shelves. Even from the books hung unraveled rolls of parchment and strings of herbs, dangling on their cords between their makeshift anchors. Any bare space that was left was wallpapered in newspaper clippings and wanted posters over lapping in a papier-mâché of newsprint and snarling, haunted faces trickling onto the ceiling and floor. On the mantelpiece above a crackling fire was a row a glass domes that contained skills of magical creatures. The only one Jean was able to recognize was a mountain troll. In the middle of the room, Kinshield stood leaning over his desk. His outer robes were haphazardly tossed over his chair, leaving him in only his shirt and pants. His hair was pulled back in messy ponytail, some strands hanging about his ears. "Professor," Jean prompted.

Kinshield looked up. "Miss Granger," he said straightening, "good evening." Kinshield stepped away from his desk. "You'll have to forgive me, you caught me in an engaging read."

Curious, Jean moved when Kinshield waved her over to his desk. In the cleared space on his cluttered desk there was a book bound in leather that looked like weathered brass. It almost seemed to be emanating its own light. She touched the tome and the pages were as thin as onionskins, almost transparent when she turned them. Written on the pages was column after column of names written in the smallest script Jean had ever seen. "Do you know what this is?" asked Kinshield, standing just behind Jean.

Jean nodded. "It's the book that the names of all magical children are written in the moment they are born." To confirm her own assumption a small but brilliant light appeared at the bottom of an unfinished column. As if being written by a quill tipped with liquid light, a name wrote itself in small, swift strokes of cursive. The words shined for a moment more in a conglomeration of yellows and whites before it faded to a shiny black, like obsidian, looking more like the name had been burned into the page rather than written. Jean ran her finger over the name, Olivia Warren, the lettering comfortingly warm.

"Names in this book can be traced back as far as we can trace back magic; no way of writing has ever made an impression on the pages and, despite certain efforts, this book is indestructible. Do you want to know what the most interesting thing is?"

"What?" said Jean, still enchanted by the name of the magical infant born somewhere in the world.

Kinshield leaned close to Jean's ear. "You're not in it."

The warmth of the room was sucked away like a vacuum, leaving cold, crippling tension. Jean's eyes were rooted on her betrayer, the language on its pages twisting itself into nonsensical symbols as Kinshield continued speaking. "You fight too well for an auror not be curious about you. It was your biggest give away. I know someone who's fought for their life when I see them. I know what eyes look like that have seen death." Jean twisted around sharply and moved away from Kinshield to keep from getting pinned between him and the desk. She backed pedaled until her spine his the bookshelf. Kinshield's eyes followed her retreat. "What's even more interesting," Kinshield continued, stepping forward, causing Jean to shrink away from him and inch farther down the wall, "is that you're not anywhere. You have no birth records, magical or muggle. I checked with the Salem Witch Academy and you have no school records either. It's as if you popped into existence the moment you stepped into this castle." Jean jolted away from a flowerpot hanging in an iron brace by the fireplace. She stared at it and the floo powder within. Kinshield's words drew Jean's eyes away from her prize. "Is Voldemort recruiting children now?"

Jean reacted so fast that upon recollection it seemed a blur to her. She seized a fistful of floo powder, but instead of tossing it into the fireplace beside her she threw it with all the force she could muster into Kinshield's face. Professor Kinshield reeled back, rubbing the grey grainy substance out of his eyes. Jean took a smaller handful and dove into the emerald flames shouting through the smoke the only sanctuary that should could think of. Jean tumbled out unceremoniously into Dumbledore's office. The headmaster looked up from his desk, any surprise at Jean's sudden appearance shown only through the slight raising of his eyebrows. "Miss Granger," said Dumbledore pleasantly, "to what do I owe this unexpected visit?"

Jean hastily picked herself off the floor, trailing ash behind her feet. "He knows," she said quickly dashing to his side. "Kinshield knows."

The emerald flames erupted in the fireplace again and out stepped Magnus Kinshield. For the first time Jean didn't see an excellent Defense Against the Dark Arts professor, or an undercover auror secretly working with Dumbledore, but a fully realized auror, tall and intimidating, in pursuit of someone he deemed a threat. Kinshield threw up his wand. "Stupefy!" The crimson bolt of magic shot towards Jean, but before Jean could lift her wand to deflect it, the spell veered off course, bouncing away from her as if it had been hit with a racket and slammed into the wall with such force that it knocked the Sorting Hat off of its shelf and onto the floor and startled all of the portraits awake with various cries of alarm.

"What is the meaning of this, Magnus," Dumbledore thundered, now standing, his wand extended towards the assailant. Now, but not for the first time, Jean saw Dumbledore not as a wizened old headmaster, but the most powerful wizard in the world.

Kinshield lowered his wand slightly, but did not back down. "What's the meaning of this?" Kinshield repeated through clenched teeth. "What's your meaning for all of this?" Kinshield pointed a finger at Jean, who was hovering by the desk. "Who is she Dumbledore? Where did she come from?"

"Her name is Jean Granger," said Dumbledore as if he and Kinshield were chatting over tea and didn't have their wands pointed at each other, "and she's from the Salem Witch Academy in Massachusetts."

"That's not true and you know it, Albus," retorted Kinshield. "How could you let a girl with no records what so ever into Hogwarts? You and I are on the front lines fighting what may be a terrorist cell that we have slim to none information about and you may have let one of their number inside—"

"I'm not a Death Eater!" Jean's cheeks were tinged with pink and her arms were trembling. Both men turned and looked at her. Kinshield lowered his wand completely. "Not many people know that name," he said softly, "and that you know it does not help your case with me. So please, if you are not a Death Eater, tell me who are you?"

Jean chewed on her tongue, knowing no lie she could spin would deceive him for long. She heard a noise clatter in her ear and she turned towards it, letting out a small gasp in surprise. Fawkes had glided down from his pedestal and settled onto Dumbledore's desk. He was nowhere near his burning day as his feathers were bright, brilliant shades of orange and crimson as if his feathers held the fire that would one day regenerate him. Fawkes fluffed his wings and, with a fluttering hop, he crossed the width of the desk, dragging his great plume behind him. He tilted his head, his eyes round and curious, alit with a hidden light Jean could not see. Almost acting of its own will, Jean's arm reached out and Fawkes pushed his purpled beak into her palm, her fingers gently running over the feathers at the crown of his head. The phoenix warbled and the warm note settled in Jean's heart. She glanced up at Dumbledore who stood slightly behind Kinshield, his face impassive but not despondent. "My names is Hermione," Jean whispered, her name sounding foreign to her, "Hermione Jean Granger," Jean's eyes shifted over to Kinshield, "and I'm from the future."

Jean's words hung in the air like a low-lying fog. Kinshield blinked at her deliberately, his head swinging between Jean and Dumbledore, who watched the pair somewhat cautiously. "You can't be serious, Albus," said Kinshield, "You can't seriously believe what she is saying." Jean let out a huff of air the moment Kinshield's attention was turned away from her. The overstretched rubber band of tension that wrapped around the room relaxed, leaving Jean boneless. Jean's knees wobbled and she crumpled into one of the chairs in front of Dumbledore's desk. She dropped her face into her hand; her heart pounding in her temple, unable to comprehend her secret had been discovered. Would Kinshield tell? Would he attempt to arrest her as a Death Eater? Was Kinshield the top of a slippery slope leading to everyone she knew knowing the truth about her past hidden somewhere in their future? Jean thought about being forced to tell Sirius that someone he called a friend would send him to prison, or telling James and Lily that their son would be left an orphan before he turned two and would be left in the care of relatives that abused him. Jean shuddered. Jean felt Fawkes alight from the desk and settle on her knee, warmth spreading through her body from his weight. Jean tuned back into the conversation a few feet away from her.

"I believe what Miss Granger has told me," continued Dumbledore mildly.

"How can you," said Kinshield, "Dumbledore, she should be in St. Mungo's if she believes what she says is true. Instead, you give her a space in a dormitory. Why? What proof do you have?"

"I have none."

Kinshield crossed his arms, his face stony. "You have none." Kinshield ran a weary hand over his face. "Albus," he said quietly, "I know of your propensity to take in…pariahs…like Rubeus Hagrid and Remus Lupin, and I have respected you for doing so, but Hogwarts cannot be a safe haven for every lost and lonely soul you feel sorry for. I cannot condone it, especially if you give me no evidence to make me believe what this girl has to say."

"I can give you evidence," said Jean suddenly.

Dumbledore turned to Jean faster than Kinshield. "Jean," said Dumbledore, his tone changing, "we discussed this."

"Dumbledore," Kinshield interrupted, "you're the Headmaster of this school, but undercover or not I'm still the Head of Magical Law Enforcement. I will hear what she has to say."

"Professor Dumbledore," said Jean eyeing her headmaster, "I know things that would prove what I say is true that wouldn't tell you anything about the future," she paused, "if that's alright," she added.

"Speak then," snapped Kinshield

Jean continued to look at Dumbledore, trying to read any hidden message he had for her. "It's your decision, Miss Granger," he said.

Jean swallowed, her heart still trying to push its way up her throat. She closed her eyes and breathed a long breath through her nose. Fawkes' readjusted himself and settled on her thigh a wave of comforting heat washing over her. "I know about the Order of the Phoenix."

Kinshield moved towards her so quickly that Jean leaned back in her chair. "How do you know about the Order? How does anyone know that we haven't specifically told, Dumbledore?" Kinshield ran a hand through his hair and Jean saw the frayed edges of his person that Kinshield kept hidden so well that Jean didn't know they existed until now. "We were so careful."

"I know about the Order because I'm a part of it," said Jean, "in the future alongside Kingsley Shaklebolt, Dedalus Diggle, Arabella Figg," Jean paused for a moment, "Alastor Moody, and Albus Dumbledore."

"I hadn't thought about Arabella," said Dumbledore lightly. "Magnus, remind me to send her an owl."

Kinshield didn't acknowledge that Dumbledore said anything. He squatted down in front of Jean, his hands resting on the arms of her chair. Jean saw a look of curiosity and marvel blended together on his countenance. "How did you get here?" he whispered.

"Almost exactly how I told you, Magnus," supplied Dumbledore. "Miss Granger was attacked by Death Eaters."

"Only," continued Jean, "when the Death Eater fired the curse that," Jean swallowed audibly, "that killed my friend, a part of it went inside me. I blacked out and when I came to I was here." Jean stopped speaking and she glanced down at her arm. She folded up her sleeve, exposing her arm and extended it to Kinshield. "A Death Eater did this to me before I was rescued."

Kinshield sucked in a breath, cradling her arm in his hands. Gingerly, he ran his finger over the lettering of the scar. Despite his gentleness, an uncomfortable pang pulsed through her arm and she grit her teeth. "Have you ever heard of this," Albus?" asked Kinshield, relinquishing Jean's arm.

Dumbledore shook his head. "Never," he answered, "and I know of no way to send her back." Jean shifted in her seat, Dumbledore's words still stinging her even though she had long accepted them. Jean crossed her arms and looked down at Fawkes, who was preening his wings.

Jean jolted when the dam broke behind Kinshield's mouth. "How much is the Ministry working with the Order? What are the names of the Death Eaters you know of?"

"Magnus," said Dumbledore stepping forward and placing a hand on Kinshield's shoulder. "No."

Kinshield spun around and stood in the same potion, pushing Dumbledore's hand off of him. "How can you say that?" he shouted, eyes wild. "We have the greatest tool we could ever ask for tossed into our laps."

"And what if our enemies learned about that tool?" countered Dumbledore, his voice still calm and mellow. "What if Voldemort took her? Our greatest tool would turn into his greatest weapon. We need to keep Jean safe and to do that we need to keep her secret no matter how tempting what she knows may be."

Jean's eyes dilated, imagining being stolen away in the night and given over to Voldemort. She thought about all of the information hidden inside her head the Dark Lord had the skill and the will power to draw out and could be used to hurt her friends and help her foes: she knew who the members of the Order were, she knew about Voldemort's Horcruxes, she knew about the prophecy. Jean drew her knees into her chest, Fawkes flying from her legs to the back of the chair. "You can't let them take me," she said, her eyes unseeing. "You can't."

Kinshield knelt down in front of her again, approaching her as if she were a frightened animal caught in a corner. "We won't," he coached, "we won't let them hurt you again, but you don't want to have anyone else go through what you did, do you?"

"No," said Jean, tears spilling over her eyes, seeing once again Dumbledore's broken and spread eagled in the courtyard below the Astronomy Tower, Remus holding Harry back, even in his own grief, as Harry fought to pursue his godfather through the Veil, and Ron's still form slumping over her shoulder, his arm still protectively draped across her abdomen.

"Magnus, stop," said Dumbledore, but Kinshield ignored him.

"Then how does Voldemort rise to power? What are his methods? Can you tell me, please?" Kinshield's eyes were hopeful and desperate.

"I can't," murmured Jean into her kneecaps.

"You can't or you won't," said Kinshield shortly.

"I can't!" Jean's voice broke into a sour noted screech as she yelled at her professor, more images passing through her vision from the too close future, of Lily and James lying dead, of Alice and Frank Longbottom being wheeled into their new home at St. Mungo's, of Sirius, laughing manically in a street full of dead bodies, being hauled off to Azkaban. Jean clapped her hands over her ears, almost rocking back and forth in her seat. "I don't know. I wasn't even born yet."

The uncomfortably long quiet in front of her drew Jean's head up. Kinshield was balanced on the balls of his feet and was completely still, a pallid color crawling into his skin. "You weren't even born?" he said, as if he was trying to decode the meaning of her words, "but you're eighteen. How…how…" His half sentences devolved into nothingness. "How many years from now did you come from?"

Jean slapped her hand over her mouth, realizing her unintentional error, afraid to say more due to how it could affect the people both in and outside the room. "I shouldn't say, professor," she spoke through her fingers, "I've already said too much. Please don't make me."

"Tell me," said Kinshield, his voice as rough and mis-pitched as Jean's was a moment ago. Dumbledore remained silent, blue eyes behind silver trimmed glasses closed, his hands steeped against his lips. "How many years?" Kinshield repeated.

"Twenty," said Jean, letting is slide slowly from her mouth.

Kinshield fell off his feet and sat on the ground, staring at Jean. He pressed the heels of his hands into his eyes and braced his elbows on his thighs. "Twenty years," Kinshield repeated over and over again. "Twenty years." Jean lost track of how many minutes Kinshield stayed on the floor mumbling and drifting off into silence in turn. He stood smoothly, combing back the wild pieces of his hair and tucked in the tail of his shirt. "Our worst feats have been realized then," said Kinshield so coolly it was almost robotic. Kinshield moved towards the door. "Dumbledore," he said.

"Magnus," Dumbledore replied.

Kinshield's hand jittered on the handle. "We'll speak later."

"Of course." Jean suspected that Kinshield didn't want the conversation to end, but rather he couldn't cope with anything else she could say.

Kinshield stepped halfway through the exit before he turned back. "Miss Granger."

"Yes, professor," said Jean.

"I expect you and your friends same time next week."

"Yes, sir," Jean answered. Kinshield lingered for a moment, his hand flexing over the brass before he firmly shut the door. With the click of the latch, Jean felt like she breathed a full breath of air for the first time in hours.

Dumbledore moved away from where he had been standing during the entire session, pulling out his wand and levitating the Sorting Hat back onto its shelf as he walked.

"You're not going to ask about what he said to me," Jean asked after her headmaster had settled himself into his desk chair.

"Professor Kinshield is entitled to his secrets the same as you and I." Dumbledore looked up, his eyes absent of their usual twinkle. "I hope this reaffirmed what I said about the dangers of telling the future both for what you may or may not know about the past. The future may be altered simply by speaking about it and it may change for the better, but most often for the worst, and the road to whatever end is a hard one, especially for those living it for the first time and I fear even harder for those living it a second."

"Yes, sir," said Jean.

Dumbledore smiled, the twinkle in his eyes returning light a bright star on a dark night. He opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a roll of parchment. "Now what is Arabella's address," he said to himself.

Jean took her cue of dismissal. Fawkes glided from the chair to the top of Dumbledore's desk. "Professor," said Jean, pausing by the door. "I never gave you a reason to believe what I said, that day we first met. Why did you?"

"Fawkes seems to like you," said Dumbledore and for a moment Jean wondered if he had heard her. "I've always had a high regard for his judge of character."

Jean smiled softly and nodded. "Goodnight, professor."

"Goodnight, Miss Granger."

Jean closed the door behind her as Dumbledore reached out and ran his long, withered fingers through Fawkes' soft orange down nestled at the base of his throat. The phoenix let out another note, which followed Jean all the way back to Gryffindor Tower.

Yay, new chapter! And lots of new drama in Jean's life. Hope you liked it! Review if you do :) :) Also, my journey with Peter is this story has been parallel to Hermione's. I literally had to remind myself that he was a Death Eater so he's becoming a very interesting character to write for me. Anywho thank you so much your support means everything to me. Happy Halloween!