DISCLAIMER: Harry Potter and its respective characters belong to J.K. Rowling. This plot line, however, belongs to me.
This fic picks up near the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix during the scene at the Department of Mysteries. The rest is self-explanatory.
5/2017: This fic won the Resurrection Stone Award in the Lasting Love category! Thanks everyone who voted for this story xx
Beyond The Veil Again
The last thing Hermione saw before collapsing was a wand pointed in her direction, and a jet of purple flames hitting her chest.
"Oh," she breathed, and her eyes rolled in the back of her head. Blackness swarmed around her, engulfing her in darkness. Her mind flailed wildly, trying desperately to remain conscious while the rest of her body failed her.
She could vaguely hear Harry's voice cutting through the fog engulfing her skull.
"Hermione, wake up…."
I'm trying, her mind said irritably.
"Dat's a pulse, Harry, I'b sure id is…."
"Yeah, I dink so…."
And that was all.
She did not know how long she swam in the darkness, did not know when she regained the ability to move. Was she ever unconscious at all? It all came back slowly, though; first the sound of spells ricocheting off the walls, then the wretched sound of screams. When she finally cracked her eyes open, she nearly wished she hadn't.
"SIRIUS!" she heard a voice bellow, and she grew frightened at the overwhelming amount of emotion behind it. "SIRIUS!"
Horror began bubbling inside of her when she recognized them to be Harry's hoarse screams. Her eyes adjusted to her surroundings, and she groaned. Her entire body was stiff, a burning sensation still on her chest where the Death Eater had shot his curse at her.
Hermione struggled to sit up, and saw a pair of legs beside her head, but they were jittering uncontrollably. She looked up to see Neville standing next to her, his nose bleeding profusely and his wand at the ready. He noticed that she was awake and relief flooded his face.
"Dank god you're awake," Neville said distractedly, and they both turned to where Harry stood.
"HE—IS—NOT—DEAD!" roared Harry. "SIRIUS!"
Dread filled her. Sirius had…somehow he…Hermione scrambled to her feet and whipped out her wand. "Finite," she said quickly, and Neville's dancing legs ceased.
"Dank you," he said gratefully, wiping the blood from his nose. She turned back just in time to see Lupin dragging Harry with him forcefully as anger reflected in Harry's piercing, green eyes, now overlaid with agony. Hermione's gaze whipped to the archway where the silvery veil fluttered, where Harry and Lupin had stood only moments ago, and sadness dawned on her when it all fell into place of what had happened there.
"No," she whispered.
Lupin looked over at her, realizing she was there. "Are you alright Hermione?"
It said something of his character that despite all the chaos, despite the immortally distraught young man in his arms, Lupin had noticed her at all. "Yes," Hermione answered, a little shakily. "I'm alright." Her eyes slid to Harry. His face was still as stone.
"Lets—let's find the others," Lupin forced out, as if every word was inflicting pain on him. "Neville, where are the rest?"
Neville explained where Luna, Ginny, and Ron were. Good lord. Above it all, amidst this battle scene, Hermione had been all of zero percent useful. A wave of shame hit her. She'd been knocked out cold, unconscious next to Neville's jitterleg curse, while friends of hers got seriously injured. While someone on their side died. The naiveté of her conviction of Dumbledore's Army now sat at the forefront of her mind. She felt small here in the Department of Mystery. She felt all of her fifteen years. Was it only a few hours ago, they'd been in the Room of Requirement cheerily practicing spells? Was it only an hour ago when she'd witnessed a new level of horror of Professor Umbridge's cruelty?
Determination set in her face.
This needed to be fixed.
In the corner of her eye she saw the swish of Dumbledore's cloak, and the form of Bellatrix Lestrange who had bolted into a run, bounding up the staircase.
"Harry—no!" cried Lupin, but it was too late. Harry had wrenched free of his grip and followed Bellatrix up the stairs.
Panic began settling inside Hermione. She looked down at her hands, her wand shaking slightly in her tight grip. Sirius Black was dead. Harry's screams echoed in her mind, remembering the rage in his body when he wrenched out of Lupin's hold and ran after Bellatrix Lestrange. An image of Sirius's lazy smile flashed in her mind and she squeezed her eyes shut.
This needed to be fixed.
"Herbione, where are you going?" Neville said in alarm as she bolted off, trailing hot on her heels. She paused and pointed her wand to Neville's nose, and his eyes went wide. Muttering a spell, she watched face clear back to normal.
"Thanks," he said in surprise, gingerly touching his nose.
"You need to stay here," Hermione commanded. "Look after Ron and the others, keep the Death Eaters off from my trail if you can."
"Your trail? What's your trail?" Neville said unsurely. "Where are you going?" But Hermione did not hear as she whirled around and went up the staircase—but where Harry had followed after Bellatrix, Hermione darted somewhere else.
She barely flinched when a Death Eater appeared before her, and expertly hurled a curse his way, watching in satisfaction as he sank to the floor.
Just a bit further.
Suddenly she stopped. Licking her lips, she took a deep breath.
Hermione knew she was stretching in vain hope, that there was a fraction of a chance that any of this could be fixed, truly fixed, none the less by her. But she had to hope. She had to believe things could change.
She entered the room cautiously. It was overrun with wreckage from their previous battle; hundreds of shelves that once towered to the ceiling were now knocked over, shards of glass and debris littering the floor. There didn't seem to be any Death Eaters anymore, not even unconscious ones; they were likely still fighting the rest of the Order. Her eyes scanned the room frantically as her head buzzed with adrenaline. This could be it. She could change it. It was foolish, but there was a one in a million chance it could work. She could prevent this, prevent the horrors that had happened.
But how would you change it? a voice whispered in her mind. What could you do?
Hermione sucked in a breath as she caught a glimmer on the floor. Her shoes squelched painfully as she darted towards it and she dropped to her knees, pushing aside bits and pieces of rubbish. She was vaguely aware of something sharply stinging her knee, but pushed the thought aside.
Her eyes fell to the broken mess she'd been digging for, and her heart spiraled in despair.
"No!" she said vehemently, gripping her hair in anger. She'd already known, already guessed of course, but seeing the reality of it and having her hopes dashed was still painful.
All of the Time-Turners were irreversibly destroyed.
The cabinet in which they lay in was repairing then destroying itself repeatedly. Hermione could see through the drawer the Time-Turners whizzing out of control, though she could not detect where exactly the sand was. For her to reach into it would be far too dangerous. Either way, she knew that the sand had escaped from the time-turning device, as the ones she could see through the cabinet no longer held sand in their hourglasses. As if to further the proof, an empty one lay by her knees.
She traced the chain of the pendant delicately, tears welling in her eyes, though it took much restraint to prevent them from falling. Taking a steadying breath, she continued to watch with quiet despair as the cabinet repaired and destroyed itself in an interminable dance.
She did not know how long she sat there until a gentle hand brushed against her shoulder. She jumped and turned around, only to see the kind blue eyes of Dumbledore.
"It is over," Dumbledore stated, his blue eyes staring sadly down at her. He offered her a hand and she stood up slowly from the broken Time-Turners. "At least, for now."
"All returned to Hogwarts. I will be meeting with Harry soon, in fact. Unsurprisingly, Voldemort has fled yet again. As for the Ministry..." He shook his head. In true Dumbledore fashion, his tone was exceedingly calm. She wondered why he was bothering to explain to her at all.
Her thoughts were interrupted when Dumbledore continued, "You are injured, Miss Granger."
Looking down distractedly to where Dumbledore indicated, Hermione saw a shard of glass embedded in her knee. Dumbledore flicked his wand gently and the shard zoomed out of sight, and with another wave the skin that was torn healed. A pale, gentle scar was all that remained.
"I didn't think it would scar," she wondered aloud.
Dumbledore looked at her for a long moment. "You came here, I presume, to repair what has been done this night." Silently, they observed the glitching cabinet that continued breaking and reforming.
"I did, sir."
"Not all things can be fixed this way. You know this already, Miss Granger."
"Yet you thought—"
"I had to try, sir. I've done it before." She looked imploringly at the headmaster. "I had to try."
If she'd known any better, if she'd paid a bit more attention, she might have thought that a thread of sadness had found its way in Dumbledore's watery blue eyes. As it was, she could only stare at the damaged Time-Turners with not a small amount of defeat.
The quiet tone made Hermione look up sharply at Dumbledore. He regarded her seriously. "There may come a time when I will ask something of you. If it was something you must do to protect the ones you love, would you do it?"
"I…I don't really understand." Hermione looked at the Headmaster in confusion as he turned to face away from her. He jingled something in his cloak lightly, but then turned around to gaze directly at her.
"Dark times are not ahead of us anymore, Miss Granger, they are here. Within these walls, and spreading like flames outside. It will infiltrate Hogwarts, and it will test us in its most cruelest, its most unmerciful. I am afraid, as I have been for quite some time, that you and your friends will reach this point in the near future." He looked at her gravely. "There may come a day when I will ask you of something, and it will be your choice whether to accept or not."
Hermione nodded. She still didn't fully understand what was going on, but Dumbledore raised his hand, and she hesitantly took it. "To Hogwarts, now. I'm afraid I am late for a meeting with a young Mr. Potter."
He gripped her fingers tightly and they Apparated back to Hogwarts' grounds. She looked up when Dumbledore turned to her with twinkling eyes. "Do not give up hope just yet, Miss Granger. All shall be well in time."
And in time, much would change.
Hermione's sixth year began, and she worked diligently. Her concern for Harry grew even more as he would often disappear with Dumbledore, including today. Even Ron had stopped becoming a prominent presence in her life (if not an irritable wart that she found herself still battling fond feelings for), as he had entered-and sustained-a relationship with Lavender Brown.
So much had happened, and yet nothing had happened at all.
It was a lush June evening when Hermione decided to quit the common room start early on her prefect rounds. Thoughts swirled in her mind; images of Harry, his eyes saddened; Ron's beaming smile after winning another match of Wizard's Chess; Ginny's raucous laughter as she linked her arms with Fred and George's, pelting dungbombs down the dungeons...
She could feel it in her bones, curling into her skin and wrapping around her abdomen like a vice. Things were changing, something had felt off throughout the entirety of the year. She growled when she couldn't discern why she felt this way, and increased her pace down the halls.
A pop! resounded against the corridor, and Hermione had her wand at the ready instantly. Her eyes scoured the hallway. She turned to her left when a shriek left her mouth.
"Professor!" she squeaked and lowered her wand immediately upon meeting a pair of twinkling blue eyes. "I-I thought you were with Harry? Is he here?" she hastily stuffed her wand back in her pocket. Realizing her forwardness, she cleared her throat. "Sorry, sir."
Dumbledore smiled brightly. "No, I'm afraid he's still with me. Well, the present me. Though I am also the present me, but won't be for long. Would you come to my office please, Miss Granger?"
Hermione stared at him in confusion and nodded her head. Dumbledore smiled, leading her to the winged gargoyle that led to his office.
"Licorice wand," he said lightly, and the gargoyle sprang to life, leading the pair to a staircase. Once they reached his office, Hermione stood unsurely near his desk as Dumbledore sat in his armchair.
"Please Miss Granger, take a seat," Dumbledore said kindly, motioning to the seat opposite him. Obediently, she sat down.
They were quiet for several moments when Hermione cleared her throat. "Professor, why did you say Harry was—er—still with you, only not with you?"
Dumbledore nodded with a small smile. "It is because, my dear girl, I have broken the most detrimental rule of the universe by sitting here before you."
Hermione's eyes widened slightly. "I'm afraid I don't understand."
Dumbledore steepled his fingers and leaned against the mahogany desk. "The night that Sirius Black died, you had gone back to the Department of Mysteries, yes?" Hermione nodded uncertainly, not sure where he was going with this. Dumbledore smiled. "You went looking for the Time-Turners stored there, but they had already been destroyed in the cabinet."
"Yes," Hermione affirmed slowly, but then slowly her eyes grew wide. "Professor, did you—"
"No," Dumbledore said quietly, and Hermione wilted in disappointment. "I do not wish for you needlessly raise your hopes on that matter, Miss Granger. The Time-Turners in the Ministry of Magic are irreparably gone from our world. But that does not mean there is no hope."
Hermione nodded and kept silent. He sighed deeply and closed his eyes, before opening them again and gazing at her sadly.
"In your third year, Miss Granger, you used a Time-Turner to manage the extra classes you had signed up for. Naturally, you know how it works by now. You understand the consequences of having your past self come in contact with your present self. The outcome of such a thing would be astronomical.
"However, the Time-Turner's properties were very limited. Its time-traveling abilities were for the immediate past, which was all the sands of time allowed. The night you helped Sirius Black escape with Buckbeak, you turned the device three times to go back three hours. When you returned to the present—which was when you turned back time to rescue Sirius—your past self vanished and you became the present once more. The process itself is cyclical, repetitive."
Dumbledore paused, waiting for Hermione to let the information sink in. She already knew all of this, of course, as it had been explained to her when Professor McGonagall gave her the Time-Turner in her third year. She kept her lips pressed together, though, knowing Dumbledore would explain why this was important to know and why he was telling her this.
"However, that is not the only kind of Time-Turner in existence."
Hermione blinked. "What do you mean?"
"There are the Sands of Time, which were used inside of your Time-Turner. And then, there are the Sands of Destiny, which historically have never been found."
The Sands of Destiny? Hermione's impatience increased, and she threw all regards of impudence aside. "Professor, that is one of the oldest myths of witchcraft, and no such object has ever been proven to exist. What use is there of telling me of something that is impossible?"
"Because, my dear girl, such a device hasn't been found because no one went looking for it. The little grains of sand with such properties made one, and only one, Time-Turner. The Sands of Time allow a person to go back, at most, a day. But the Sands of Destiny can change history."
"But we did change history," Hermione interjected. "We saved Buckbeak from his death sentence when he ought to have been killed. We changed that. We saved Sirius from returning to Azkaban."
"You had done what your future had already created," Dumbledore said with excitement in his eyes. "Hermione, I am sitting here because I have damaged and broken the laws of nature, and will be thusly punished. I shall die tonight, as it had been predicted, and as I have recently discovered." Hermione's mouth opened in astonishment, but Dumbledore continued relentlessly. "I have a question for you, Hermione Granger, one that I am deeply remorseful to ask of you. Exactly one year ago I warned you of this. Do you remember?"
How could she forget? It was only the single-most mystifying conversation she'd ever had with the Headmaster.
"Professor…?" Hermione looked with apprehension as Dumbledore reached in the back of his neck and pulled off a necklace with a round pendant dangling gently. With utmost care, Dumbledore took her hand and placed the pendant on her palm.
A shock went through her when she gazed at it. It was a Time-Turner…only the sand was not golden as it should have been.
It was a deep, ruby red.
Her hand quivered, and fear coursed through her. Frightened eyes met sad blue ones. She had read about such an object in passing, only once, and not in great detail. But the fact that it actually existed, that Dumbledore had it in his possession…
"Professor Dumbledore," Hermione said shakily, "you used this tonight, didn't you."
"I did," he replied solemnly. "And though I regret it, there is a much larger picture to focus on. I have broken the rules of the universe by attempting to return to the present time…speaking of which, I don't think I'll be sitting here much longer. My aura, as Professor Trelawney has formidably said to me over the years, is passing quickly."
She began shaking her head, but Dumbledore smiled gently. "Do not be afraid, my dear Hermione."
"How could I not?" she said with almost a shrill voice.
"Because with that Time-Turner you have the power to save everyone you care about," Dumbledore replied without hesitance. "Because I have seen a glimpse of the future from which I have travelled, and it is far more grim than I thought."
He told her of the horcruxes, which he and Harry had been hunting for this year; he told her of the battle at Hogwarts, of Voldemort killing not only Voldemort's soul that was embedded in Harry but quickly killing Harry as well with a swift and wandless snap of his neck. He told her of Fred, Tonks, Lupin, and all the other casualties of the war. He told her of the rise of the Death Eaters on the Ministry of Magic, and the horrors that plagued the Wizarding world in what should have been Hermione's seventh year of Hogwarts.
Hermione sat back in her seat, her mind exhausted and her eyes tear-filled. Too much, this was too much…"Why are you telling me all this, sir? Why me?"
Dumbledore regarded her seriously. "You, Hermione Granger, are not like the rest of your peers. I don't say this to flatter, or to shape you into what I want you to do. When I saw you in the Department of Mysteries kneeling before the damaged Time-Turners, seeking to fix rather than destroy…I knew then that there was no other who could complete this task in the chance that I failed."
Hermione absorbed this with both awe and trepidation. Yet despite this, a new determination bloomed inside her, a quiet voice that urged her on. She met Dumbledore's gaze directly.
"Tell me what I have to do."
"I have not asked anything of you yet, Miss Granger."
"I know. You don't need to."
He gazed at her sadly. "You brave, brave girl."
She shook her head. "I would do anything to save the people that I love."
Dumbledore grew serious. "The one who uses this Time-Turner has only two chances. This is a clear departure from the Time-Turners you're accustomed to. When you turn a knob, you do not turn hours, but years. When you turn another, you may go decades. Another, centuries. You must be careful when using it, and precision is of utmost importance. You may very well end up in a time when humanity did not exist yet. And that would be most problematic.
"One of the most crucial laws of this device, as you may have already guessed, is that once you turn back time, you are there permanently. You may never return to the present. Your presence in a certain part of history changes its course dramatically. And if you are ever to attempt to return to the present, then the paradox is created between you and your present self, and both forms die immediately." At her stunned expression, Dumbledore smiled gently. "Do you see now why I meant it when I said you have a choice?"
A lump formed in Hermione's throat, but she nodded. "I suppose this is what you did tonight. Used the Sands of Destiny and came back to your present. It's why you're going to die."
He smiled brightly. "Yes, I am afraid it is. I was the selfish old man and decided to peak into the future, rather than do what was right. For that, I beg you for forgiveness."
"No," she shook her head, "there is nothing to forgive. If I…I can't say I wouldn't have done the same." Licking her lips, she set her jaw with determination. "Tell me what I have to do, Professor Dumbledore. It has to be done."
He nodded with remorse. "You truly are the cleverest witch of your age." He removed his half-moon glasses and peered at her thoughtfully. "I believe three turns should still do it."
Her eyes grew wide with understanding and she gazed at the Time-Turner still in her hand. The red sand inside made her stomach turn into a knot, and there were several knobs on this Time-Turner. The possibilities were infinite.
"Should—should I take something with me?" she asked hesitantly.
His eyes twinkled, but this time it was not from the light. "That is a remarkable idea, Hermione, and you should heed it. Though, even I do not know the consequences if you were to bring part of the present to the past. Nevertheless…if the myth is true, you will be given your own life in the past you are going to."
"Time will rewrite itself to place me in the past."
She nodded carefully, and stood.
"Goodbye, Professor," she said quietly, eyes glistening. She took several deep, trembling breaths. But when she looked up, he was no longer there.
Tears fell on their own accord at his disappearance. She glanced at the Time-Turner in her hand. Alone. I am utterly alone.
She quickly swiped her eyes and ran up the staircase until she reached the seventh floor.
"Dilligrout!" she nearly shouted at the Fat Lady, and the door swung open. She clambered inside and crossed the common room. She paused at Ron's sleeping form on the sofa.
"You really are insufferable," she said, a fond smile tugging at her lips. "I am sorry." Gently, she touched her fingertips to the curve of his cheek. Then, she ran up to the girls' dormitory.
Once reaching her bed, she began by taking out her purse and swinging her wand fervently in the air, casting and Undetectable Extension Charm on the bag. Once completed, she began going through her things—her copy of Hogwarts, A History, Potions, Transfiguration, and Defense against the Dark Arts were quickly thrown in, along with her clothes, quills, ink bottles, and several other textbooks she deemed important. She scoured her school trunk, and her heart stopped when she found the small leather-bound photograph book she had made over the years, filled with pictures of Hermione with Harry and Ron, among with pictures of the Order members and nearly everyone she loved. With a small hesitation, she put it inside as well.
Her hand grasped the Time-Turner once again, and stared at it anxiously.
Her eyes closed and a shaky breath escaped her lips. She didn't want to say it, but she'd rather the empty air hear it than nothing. "Goodbye Harry. Goodbye Ron." Her lower lip quivered, and she whispered, "Mum, Dad..." Merlin, this was all wrong. All wrong. It had to be done.
Carefully, she draped the chain of the Time-Turner around her neck. She grasped the pendant, and carefully grabbed one of the knobs.
She faintly heard a cackle that strikingly resembled Bellatrix Lestrange. The Death Eaters had invaded Hogwarts, Hermione realized. She grabbed another knob.
A single tear slid down her cheek.
The dormitory door slammed open and Hermione jumped, her finger slipping slightly on one of the knobs.
"No!" Hermione cried out desperately, but the deed was already done. She had slipped and moved the knob when she shouldn't have. Angrily she looked up and saw Lavender Brown staring at her.
"I..." Lavender's voice faltered when she saw the chain around Hermione's neck.
White-hot, blinding despair overtook her body, but Hermione disappeared before she could utter a word.