Hey! So, I am back with another story. This one has been rolling around in my mind for a long while. This story is dedicated to an amazing author and friend, Jenni.

Hope you all enjoy!

Time's Secret

Chapter 1

~x~

August, 1999

The squeal of a car's brakes and the heated, angry exchange that quickly followed dragged Severus from his dreamless sleep. He muttered to himself, annoyed that he'd forgotten the shut the window again. Within another hour, Brick Lane would be alive with market vendors and punters and sleep would be nearly impossible. He sighed, raking his hands through his black hair, pushing it away from his face. Turning over in the bed, a tender smile touched his lips as he stared at the woman sleeping next to him. Her skin was smooth, silken to the touch. The bed sheets sculpted her slender body and Severus allowed his gaze to wander along it, once more asking himself what he had done to deserve her.

Quietly sliding from the bed, Severus lifted a pair of faded jeans from the floor. Pulling them on and buttoning them, he then shrugged a navy t-shirt down over his lean frame. He found his trainers where he'd kicked them off by the door the night before and slipped his feet into them. After tucking his wand safely into his belt he covered it with his t-shirt. He crossed the room and opening his backpack, he unzipped one of the inner pockets. A shaft of light streaming in from a gap in the curtains glinted off a piece of metal. Severus carefully lifted the modified time-turner from the pocket, now knowing without a doubt what he wanted to do. Looping the chain of the time-turner around his neck, he quietly crept back to the bed. He wanted so much to wake Hermione up, to tell her what he was about to do…to tell her the truth. But he couldn't, at least, not yet.

Leaning down, he kissed her pouted lips softly, then whispered. "I love you, Hermione."

With one last lingering look he turned and left the room without a noise. As he crossed the small living room, still shrouded in darkness, Severus thought to leave her a note, but quickly decided against it. Besides, he would be back before she awakened. The front door to Hermione's flat closed with a soft click, and taking the stairs, he was soon standing out on the street. Several vendors were already setting up their stalls, but none of them took any notice of a greasy haired young man. Severus shoved his hands into his pockets, picking up his pace as he strode along Brick Lane. He didn't have much time. Cars would soon be bumper to bumper on the roads and for what he was about to do he needed them devoid of traffic.

Up ahead, Severus saw a few teenagers in hoodies, lurking in the doorway of a vacant shop. He kept his head down, knowing better than to make eye contact with them. Even if Hermione hadn't warned him in the past not to aggravate them, he'd had enough unpleasant experiences of his own to know that it didn't take much to become the victim of some cruel sport. Bitter memories forced their way into his mind, as did the faces of the Marauders – his tormentors.

"Here, mate," one of the scruffy youths called. "You got a light?"

An unlit cigarette hung from the teenager's lips. Severus simply shook his head and kept walking. Rounding the corner, he hurried along the street. It wasn't far now, only another quarter mile or so. As he walked his thoughts drifted to Hermione, and to the day he first met her.

In a small, dingy flat he'd rented on the outskirts of central London, Severus began experimenting with a time-turner he'd managed to acquire in Knockturn Alley. He had left Hogwarts for good that June, and he had no intentions of returning to Spinner's End. He wanted nothing more to do with that place. After all, he was eighteen now and he could do whatever he pleased. For several weeks, he made detailed notes and diagrams before finally making slight modifications to the time-turner. On the morning of January twenty first, Severus stood in his pokey living room and moved the time-turner…forward.

BEEP!

"Get off the road you bloody idiot!" a man shouted from his car window.

Severus leapt back from the bonnet of the car in horror. Where in Merlin's name was his flat? As the car drove off, Severus felt for the time-turner, only to realise it was gone. Panic set in and his heart pounded in his chest as he saw it lying on the ground, all but crushed by the car's wheel.

"Damn it," he said.

Scooping up the damaged time-tuner, Severus hurried off the road. He looked about the street but only the park behind him was familiar. A road now ran through the exact place where his flat should have been. Realising that some people were openly gawking at him, he retreated into the park. Raking his hands through his hair, he tried to calm his roiling thoughts. What had he done? How could he have been so stupid? But, more importantly, how in hell was he supposed to get back to his own time?

Slumping down on a park bench, he placed his head in his hands, once more cursing himself for being so reckless.

"Excuse me, are you ok?"

Severus lifted his head, groaning inwardly. This was not what he needed right now. His mind worked, trying to think of an excuse to send the young muggle woman on her way.

"I'm fine," he said, a little sharper than he'd intended.

His answer didn't seem to satisfy her as she remained rooted to the spot and continued to stare at him. "I don't mean to be rude, but it's the middle of January and you're sitting on a park bench wearing a t-shirt…"

"So that's a crime now, is it?" he snapped.

"No, but clearly you have some sort of insane death wish," she said curtly, "So, I'll leave you to it."

Severus saw her arms tighten around the books clutched against her chest. And just before she turned, he read one word that made his heart start pounding again: potions.

"Wait," he said, scrambling to his feet, then lowered his voice. "You're a…a witch?"

Her brown eyes widened slightly. "And you are?"

Severus had covered this eventuality; that he might have to speak with someone from the future. "Septimius Parr," he said, raising his t-shirt slightly to show her his wand.

"I don't remember you from Hogwarts," she said.

Severus noted the suspicion in her voice.

"I attended Drumstrang," he replied, hoping she wouldn't ask any probing questions on his time there.

"I see," she said, then frowned. "Have we met before? It's just, you seem awfully familiar."

"No, I don't think we have, Miss…uh…"

"Hermione Granger," she said as concern filled her face again. "Mr Parr, do you have somewhere to go? I'm going to a little café on the other side of the park. It's a muggle café, though, but it's usually rather quiet…and it's warm."

A small voice in his head warned him that he should walk away that moment.

Severus shrugged his shoulders. "Sure, why not."

It was only a coffee, and besides, when was the last time a pretty girl had asked him anywhere.

After a short walk, they both settled themselves in to a booth at the back of the quaint little café. Hermione had been right, it wasn't busy, and it was warm. He hadn't realised how cold he was until he had been hit by a blast of warm air upon entering the café. Glancing at the books Hermione had set down on the table, he ran his gaze along their spines, somewhat taken aback by the titles. Apart from himself, he didn't know anyone else who'd read these particular books.

"So, Mr Parr…" she began.

"Call me Septimius," he said. The name sounded funny on his lips. Nevertheless, Severus silently congratulated himself on the ingeniousness of his 'name'. Septimius Severus was a ruthless Roman Emperor, while Katherine Parr was the sixth wife of Henry VIII and overseer of Snape Castle.

Hermione gave him a half smile before continuing. "Have you got somewhere to stay in London, Septimius?"

Masking his nervousness, Severus decided that vague answers would be best. "I thought I did, but everything's changed so much."

Grief clouded Hermione's eyes and Severus wondered what he had said wrong.

"I know what you mean…the War…" Her mouth trembled slightly as her voice trailed off.

The War, what war? Severus' stomach tightened and the small voice seemed to grow louder. He shouldn't be talking with Hermione; he should be trying to find a way to fix his bloody time-turner. And now she'd gone and mentioned a war…a war with who? His curiosity was like a ravenous wolf, but Severus knew he could not feed it.

"Yeah, the War," he said softly. "I don't really want to talk about it."

Hermione wiped a tear from her eye. "No, me neither."

Wanting to change the subject, Severus picked up one of her books: 'Beyond Advanced Potions'. "Have you read this yet? It's fascinating, although I don't agree with Lockfort's methodology for brewing a Draught of Peace."

The slightly shocked expression on her face, accompanied by her silence made Severus wonder if she even had any intention of reading these books.

"You've…you've read that?" she finally asked.

"Yes."

A smile slowly crept onto her face. "It is a fascinating read, and I agree with your views on the Draught of Peace. After adding the powdered moonstone, the potion should be allowed to simmer for seven minutes before adding the hellebore. Not directly after the moonstone as Professor Lockfort suggests."

"My thoughts exactly!" Severus said.

"We brewed a Draught of Peace in fifth year at school. Our Potions professor instructed us in the 'revised' version." She laughed softly. "Although, that didn't stop half the class making a mess of their draughts."

Severus' lips curved in a smirk. He was beginning to like Hermione Granger.

Snapped from his thoughts by the roar of a lorry as it drove by, Severus realised he was almost there. He knew he shouldn't have met Hermione again after that afternoon they had spent drinking coffee and discussing potions books. He should have avoided her at all costs. But he hadn't been able to stop thinking about her. Hermione was, in a word, brilliant. She could not only hold her own in their discussions, but she challenged him, and sometimes left him grappling for answers. At first he convinced himself that he needed to keep seeing her; she would be able to get him what he required from Diagon Alley to fix his time-turner. He couldn't risk being seen there, especially by Professor Dumbledore. Soon, however, Severus' need to keep seeing her outstripped any excuse he could conjure up.

He had fallen in love with her.

Severus wasn't sure he would ever understand why Hermione had returned his feelings. He had practically nothing to offer her and he was far from what many would consider handsome. His pale skin, hooked nose and thin lips had never earned him a second glance from any girl. Nevertheless, Hermione loved him and the last eight months had been the happiest of his life.

Severus finally reached his destination – the middle of a road. He was certain if anyone saw him standing there they would think him mad. But, if Severus wished to return to his dingy flat this is where he needed to be. He had made up his mind that he wanted to remain with Hermione. It hadn't been an easy decision, and for weeks he had battled with the argument that he could do irrevocable damage to the time-line if he chose to remain with her. However, it was a risk Severus was willing to take. He was a loner after all; no one would miss him. And what purpose would he have served? Becoming the Potions professor at Hogwarts was hardly the future he envisioned for himself.

Holding the time-tuner in his hand, Severus turned it backwards. In a split second he was standing back in his dimly lit living room. Nothing had changed. He had come back just moments after the time he had left. Steam was still rising from his coffee cup and the butter was still melting over his toasted crumpets. Hurrying into his bedroom, he grabbed four books from a shelf and stuffed them into a bag. He gathered up several other items; things he was unwilling to leave in the past.

Once he was back with Hermione he would tell her the truth of who he was, and when he was from. He was under no illusions, though, that it was something she would be able to accept lightly. But, he hoped that she of all people would understand why he wasn't able to tell her the truth from the beginning. Slinging his backpack over his shoulder, Severus decided that this time he would go to the park to use the time-turner.

CRACK!

Severus froze.

"Severus Snape!" a voice called from the living room.

The bedroom door creaked on its hinges as he emerged out into the living room. Severus' pulse hammered in his throat and his mouth went dry. Two Unspeakables loomed ominously before him – did they already know what he had done?

"Y-Yes?" Severus said, trying to control his fear.

One of the Unspeakables walked towards him and grabbed the time-turner hanging around Severus' neck, snapping the chain. "You are under arrest, Mr Snape, for the illegal use of a time-turner."

Before he could protest, the Unspeakable took hold of his arm and disapparated. Severus' stomach heaved as they apparated at the Ministry of Magic. He was then half-dragged through corridors, his fear tinged with mortification at the curious stares of other wizards and witches. The Unspeakables stopped outside a door motioning for Severus to enter the room. A table and two chairs were the only things in the room.

"Sit!" the Unspeakable said.

Severus had never been so afraid in his life. Never for one moment had he thought he would be caught using a time-turner. He swallowed hard. He knew the punishment for illegal time-travelling: life imprisonment in Azkaban. His throat tightened with emotion; he was never going to see Hermione again. Suddenly he wished he had told her the truth from the beginning. She was going to wake up and think that he had simply abandoned her.

"Don't I get to make a call or something?" he said lamely, remembering something he'd heard on a muggle television programme.

"No."

The other Unspeakable stepped forward. "Mr Snape, do you realise the seriousness of your reckless actions?"

Severus lowered his gaze. He did.

"You're going to be spending a very long time in Azkaban, Mr Snape…"

"No, I don't think he will be."

Severus snapped his head towards the door, relief flooding him. Professor Dumbledore had never been such a welcoming sight. The Hogwart's headmaster, however, didn't meet his gaze, but Severus could feel his disappointment and anger towards him.

"This is a Ministry matter, Dumbledore," the Unspeakable said tersely.

"It was a Ministry matter." Dumbledore held up a scroll. "Severus is to be handed over to me."

The two Unspeakables shared an uncertain glance before one of them took the scroll from Dumbledore. He tore open the seal and quickly scanned through the release form. "Very well," he said. "But what you are proposing to do will be carried out in this room, under our supervision."

Dumbledore nodded. "Agreed, but first I want a word with Severus. Alone, if you will."

There was a sense of finality with the slamming of the interrogation room's door. Suddenly Severus didn't want to be left alone with Dumbledore. He didn't want the full force of his disappointment boring into him.

"Professor," Severus said, his lip trembling slightly. "What is going to happen to me?"

Dumbledore stood silently with his hands clasped in front of him. "The Ministry is very clear on the laws concerning time-travel, Severus," he finally said.

Severus couldn't be sure, but somehow Dumbledore didn't seem overly surprised by what he had done.

"I have, however, managed to convince the Ministry not to send you to Azkaban. On one condition."

"What condition, Professor?" Severus asked, his throat tightening again.

"That you agree to have all the memories from your time-travelling obliviated."

Severus' heart dropped to his stomach. He couldn't do it. His memories were all he had left of Hermione. "Professor, I…can't…"

"Severus!" Dumbledore's voice took on a strength Severus had seldom heard. "I will not stand back and allow you to throw your life away. Obliviating your memories is the only way. Don't think, my boy the Dementors won't feed off every happy thought you have, until you're nothing more than an empty shell."

Severus closed his eyes and hung his head in defeat. Dumbledore was right. Either way he was going to lose all his memories of Hermione. Better then to have them removed instantly than to have them slowly harvested by Dementors. Severus felt the light touch of Dumbledore's hand on his shoulder and heard him whispering something that sent a tingling sensation across his forehead. After a moment, the old wizard straightened and called out for the Unspeakables to re-enter the room.

"We're ready," Dumbledore said as the two men opened the door.

Opening his eyes, Severus took a deep breath. He wasn't ready; he didn't think he ever would be. Once more Dumbledore stood beside him, and removing his wand, he held it close to Severus' head.

"It's for the best, Severus," Dumbledore said.

A single tear slipped down Severus' cheek. "I love you, Hermione," he whispered.

"Obliviate!"