Summary: Voldemort has won and Hermione has lost everything. She decides to go back in time and destroy the horcruxes in secret. But that proves to be harder than she thought, especially now that she's caught Tom Riddle's interest.
"We've lost. It's over," moaned Ginny, sinking to her knees before Harry's lifeless body. Behind her stood Hermione, white as a ghost. Around her, the Hogwarts she had grown up with lay in ruins as well as the people who had inhabited it.
Soon, Voldemort would be commanding his forces to take hold of the survivors officially. Somewhere in the distance, Hermione dimly registered Bellatrix's infamous cackle, and she turned and left Ginny, picking her way through the crumbling stone and bloodied flesh. It's over. You'll never see Harry or Ron or anyone you loved ever again. What would happen now? Would she become a slave of the Death Eaters? Would they simply torture her to death?
She couldn't bear Ginny's sobs so she walked away faster, thinking only of the various dignified ways she could end her life. It's over, it's over, she kept hearing in her head. No need for bravery now; everything is lost.
Finding a secluded spot near the Forbidden Forest, Hermione leaned against a tree to stare out at the great lake. Her beaded bag clutched in her clammy palm, she mentally listed the things in it that could be used as a means for suicide. She was shocked to realize that there were quite a few options, and her blood turned to ice.
There is my wand...a knife...poison... It was only right that she die with Harry and Ron, and yet, something, somewhere within her, cried out to her: no! It's not over yet!
She wanted to tell her damned Gryffindor spirit to quiet itself as she began searching for the poison, her arm digging all the way into the little beaded bag, when her fingertips brushed something smooth, cold, and small.
The time turner. Stupid thing, really, she thought bitterly, remembering with pain worse than the Crucio curse how happy they had all been, in spite of everything. It seemed so long ago—had it really been a mere four years?
If only I could go back and tell my past self to enjoy it more while it lasted, she thought bitterly as she viciously wiped away the tears spilling down her cheeks. Why did I ever have the nerve to be unhappy about anything? At least I still had my friends then.
If only I could go back and destroy Voldemort without affecting my time with Harry and Ron. If only the Horcruxes could have already been taken care of...
And then, her Gryffindor spirit roared to life within her as her keen mind began forming a plan. Disgusted with her previous self-pitying thoughts, Hermione wrenched the time-turner from her bag and held it up in the pale dusty light of dawn. Distantly were the familiar calls and whoops of triumphant Death Eaters, and the shrieks of the piteous survivors.
"It's not over," she spoke aloud, and despite everything, she grinned. It was so perfect—and even if she failed...well, nothing could be worse than this.
She turned it round and round, the sand hissing as it rolled in the glass, and with that peculiar swooping sound not unlike a portkey, Hermione was yanked from her own hellish time and sent back to what she hoped was October thirty first, 1947.
Time-traveling was painful. With a groan, Hermione felt around her on the ground, searching for her bag and the time-turner, which she had stupidly dropped. Her hands came in contact with wet grass and she determined that she was on the castle grounds, at least. It was dawn and heavy mist shrouded both her and the castle, its form strangely menacing in the purple morning light.
No, it's only menacing because you just saw it in ruins, she chided herself. Standing up shakily, she clutched the beaded bag. The time-turner was nowhere to be found.
Damn. That was bad. They weren't exactly the kinds of things that were fine to leave lying around. Panicking, she began combing the grass around her, the dew sopping the knees and shins of her jeans as she pawed around. She was so busy panicking she didn't notice a figure approaching through the mist.
"Students out of bed! Students out of bed!" A thin, reedy voice cackled, a lantern swinging and settingh the mist around it aglow with yellowed light. Hermione's head shot up and immediately she rose to her feet. She could search for the time-turner later.
"E-er, hello," she greeted in an unconvincing casual tone, running a hand over her hair. She knew she looked a nightmare, and as the figure slowed to a stop, shock was evident on his face.
He wasn't Filch, but he may as well have been, with his leathery skin and missing teeth. "I'm Hermione," she stammered, trying to think fast. Good thing it's my brains I'm known for, she thought wryly. "I just took a portkey here and I'm a bit lost," she continued.
"...Headmaster Dippet won't like this," the caretaker finally said, baring his remaining teeth in an unsettling grin. "Come with me, Miss..."
"Macmillian," she replied with the first non-magical name that popped into her head. With a distinct sense of foreboding, she followed the caretaker, frantically trying to remember this place so she could return to search for the time-turner. At the same time, she had to come up with a convincing cover story. At least Voldemort's graduated already, she thought, wiping her brow. This was her only comfort for her situation.
Unfortunately she was soon to find out that her hands had shaken and she had taken herself to September first, 1944, instead.