That which does not make sense must be researched! (TM)

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Hermione watched them—Professor Snape, Professor Lupin, and Sirius. Tonks had named them the 'Hottie Try-us-virate', because all their names ended in "us" and she thought they were all sexy (even her cousin!) and so she wanted to "try them out". Hermione didn't really get it. The reason, that is—not the silly name. Professors Snape and Lupin were... well, professors, you know? (Even if one of them wasn't anymore.) She hadn't had a crush on a professor since she was 13! She was nearly 16 now. As for Sirius... well, he just wasn't quite... well, right either... mentally, she meant. Besides—Tonks fancied her cousin? Ewww!

But Hermione watched them more now, now that Tonks had brought them into that light—like they were... you know... men, and not just... "adults", "teachers", or "crazies". Still, she couldn't see what Tonks saw. Instead, what she saw was... well, they all looked old. And the more that she thought of it, the more she realised that them looking old was really strange. Off, even. Professor McGonagall was around 60, but still looked like she was 20 years younger—not a single silver hair in her jet-black bun. Professor Dumbledore was 114, but looked like he was in his 80s or 90s with the physical and mental agility of someone in their 60s or 70s.

But the Tryusvirate were only... what? 35 or there abouts? They should still look like they were in their 20s at least, but instead they looked older than her muggle parents! And Mum and Dad were old when she was born! Well, older than Harry's parents were, which made them older than the Tryusvirate If her mum saw them, she'd probably guess that they were all in their late 40s or even in their 50s. It just didn't make sense to Hermione, and 'that which does not make sense must be researched!' -TM. (She'd once doodled her own "Granger" family crest with that as the motto, but she hadn't yet got up the nerve to ask Dean to draw it out properly.)

Not too long ago, while she was helping in the cleanup of 12 Grimmauld Place Hermione found an old copy of Tending Our Magical Garden, which was apparently a co-ed wizarding version of Our Bodies, Ourselves. After going through scores of books in the Black Library searching out information on how wizards age and if premature aging is possible, it was actually in the introductory chapter of Magical Garden that she found her answer:

"A young witch or wizard is a resilient creature. Not only will the accidental magic of pre-wand children often protect them from serious injuries with actions such as harmlessly bouncing from great falls, or apparating to a place of safety when caught in a conflict, their magic will also heal their bodies at an accelerated rate. This is why magical children rarely show signs malnutrition or abuse—a fact which made them prime candidates for some of the darker experiments conducted in the late 10th century. Incidentally, it was these experiments which lead to the founding of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and the abolition of magical orphanages.

The accelerated healing rate of young magicals is tied to their growth hormones. It helps synchronise the development of their bodies with the expansion of their magic so that neither may eclipse the other. Once a witch or wizard reaches maturity (something which varies between individuals, but is typically attained by the age of 25), the natural healing and rejuvenating ability they possess will starkly decline and then level off. Overexposure to environments of extreme stress during the final growing stage (commencing at approximately 17 years of age and completing once maturity has been achieved) may shorten this time period, with the individual in question reaching their physical adulthood prematurely.

Witches and wizards who have completed their growth period will still possess natural healing and rejuvenating ability far above the average muggle, which facilitates the capacity to receive healing treatments such as spells and potions, and which also accounts for the greater life-span and resiliency of magical humans compared to muggles. However, just as abnormal physical, emotional, and mental stress can cut short the final growing stage, so too can stress impact negatively on an adult witch or wizard's ability to naturally heal and repair their mind, magic, and bodies. In some cases, such as those suffering from lingering illness and curse damage, the aging process may appear to accelerate, with the witch or wizard in question looking older than their muggle contemporaries.

In cases of premature aging in magical folk, a cessation of external stress will often halt the deterioration. Reversing the damage is only possible after the causes of the damage have been thoroughly removed, and even then only with a lengthy and expensive combination of regimented potions and mind healing sessions. As such, many sufferers of premature aging choose to simply wait until their chronological age catches up to their physical appearance. The unfortunate downside to this tactic is that uninformed colleagues may over time become cautious or even hostile, suspecting dark magic at work with the subject's apparent immortality."

Hermione closed the book making a mental note to go back to it later that night for a more in-depth look at the illustrations near the back. What? She was curious!

"Well, that was interesting," she muttered to herself. It certainly explained Professor Lupin's grey hair, Professor Snape's sallow complexion and harsh lines, and Sirius' papery skin. There probably wasn't any help for Professor Lupin—he was always going to be a werewolf. It certainly made her wonder about his life expectancy, though. She shuddered. Even if she was able to see him as a potentially handsome man, she wouldn't want to attach herself to someone who was aging three times faster than she was and already had an almost 20 year head-start. Tonks was bonkers, that much was clear.

As for Professor Snape, well he probably reached his maturity early from his three years or so as a Death Eater and then spy, but that should have at least given him a clean slate from that point on. Even with an early maturity, he was only 21 or so when You-Know-Who was defeated, so even if he wasn't supposed to reach maturity until the maximum age of 25, that's only 4 years early, which wouldn't be enough to cause his current state. Looking at him, Professor Snape had certainly continued to deteriorate during that decade of peace, so whatever was literally eating at him couldn't just be the evil-spy-thing, which meant that there probably wasn't any hope for him, either.

And Sirius... well nearly 12 years in a dementor-patrolled prison would kill anyone's natural healing powers while they were in it, and it's not like he'd been stress-free since—worried about Wormtail, worried about Harry and eating rats, and now... well it was no secret that he hated this house and everything in it, and there was no news on when he might be free to leave it. So she guessed he was a lost cause, too. It was too bad, really. Even if he never regained his youthful good looks, it would be nice if he could at least grow up a little. Honestly! Sometimes when it was just her, Harry, Ron and Sirius, she felt like she was the adult! And the way Professor Snape acted too- well, it certainly made her wonder if magical healing abilities weren't the only thing that could be stunted by trauma. It was a wonder that Professor Lupin was as level-headed as he was!

Hermione sighed. The whole thing was ever so sad. All these people were young once—in school together and everything! As much as she hated the ferret, she couldn't really bring herself to wish Professor Snape's fate on him.

Wait a minute...

...if Malfoy was the Professor Snape of this generation...

...then what about her and Ron and Harry?

It was sort of easy to focus on Harry's temper and missing out on Order stuff and having fun in the kitchen and trying to clear out all of the crazy stuff in this crazy house and girl-talk with Tonks and avoiding the twins and trying to figure out if Mrs. Weasley really had forgiven her for Rita Skeeter's articles...

But the reality was still there, lurking. You-Know-Who was back and he'd already killed people. Malfoy had said it himself—"They'll be the first to go, now the Dark Lord's back! Mudbloods and Muggle-lovers first!" Well that's her and Ron sorted, then. Really, she'd never taken it very seriously, even with the Chamber of Secrets and the hate mail this past year. "Mudblood" was sort of like combining "know-it-all" with "bitch"—something nasty and vulgar and personal, too. But hearing Mrs. Black's furious screams and Kreacher's murderous grumblings, and seeing those names blasted off the family tree—well it really brought it home to her that for a lot of the magical people in Britain (and who knew, really, just how many people felt that way under a veneer of polite aloofness?) that she—was—not—wanted.

So what did it all mean? You know, to her and her friends and their future? Would they end up like the Tryusvirate? If war really came, would they be tortured? Imprisoned? In twenty years, if she was still alive, would she look older than her own mother? Hermione shuddered again. And she didn't even want to think about the possible fates for Ron and Harry—especially Harry, who somehow and for some reason seemed to always be at the centre of the whirlwind. C'mon—dementors in Surrey? Only Harry.

No, she didn't want to think about it, and it really didn't matter anyway. Whatever happened would happen, and all she could do was just try to be as prepared as possible- and that meant studying harder than ever before. With OWLs coming up, it was a good excuse to just cram-cram-cram!

In the meantime, she'd definitely be checking out page 157 of Magical Garden tonight. She had no idea a wand could do that.

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AN- So, one of my pet-peeves with the movies is that they were just made too late. Alan Rickman as the Sherriff in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves? Perfect Snape. Alan Rickman 20 years later? Not so much. Gary Oldman in Bram Stoker's Dracula? Absolutely (at least with some grey contacts)! Now? Meh. David Thewlis in Naked? Okay, well, maybe.

Anyway, this got me thinking about the similarity in the three characters, and how they were all supposed to be somewhat ravaged by hard living (though not quite enough to account for the movies, imho). Also, now that I'm Maurader-aged myself, it's given me a slightly different perspective on the various cross-generation relationships in canon (Remus/Tonks) and fanon (HG/SS). Put the two of these together and filter them through Hermione's pre-DoM book/people barrier (which she uses in much the same way as many smokers use cigarettes) and control mechanism, and this fic is what you end up with.

The motto to Hermione's new Granger Family Crest, by the way, is a take on the old adage, "that which does not kill you, makes you stronger". It's an attempt to draw a comparison between adolescent Harry and Hermione and how they deal with the unknown.**

**[The "need to know" so that she can process events often causes her to cross boundaries as her need overrides the needs of the person in question. Also, though relying on outside sources to confront difficulties allows her a more objective view than Harry, who relies on intuition (and thus inadvertently makes every problem about himself), it also creates barriers and distance whereby people become subjects and their problems become puzzles.]

Thanks for reading and please review!