Hermione Jean Granger jolted upright in bed, panting heavily, as the details of her dream or rather nightmare melted away into nothingness. She gasped for air, her mouth having opened in a scream that remained soundless, and cold sweat pearling on her forehead; it had been so… realistic.
As her heartbeat and intakes of air finally slowed, she managed to close her mouth and intuitively turn her head to look at the window. No light seemed to be peeking from behind the red velvet-like material yet, and thus she assumed it still must be night or only very early in the morning. She slid from the bed and padded over to it, pushing the heavy fabric to the side, revealing a slowly rising sun behind the green hills of Scotland between which the castle lay: not that early after all then.
Letting go of the fabric and turning again, Hermione seized her wand from the night table and then went for the staircase that would lead her to the common room, whispering, "Lumos!" on the way there. This was ridiculous enough… Hermione had made sure twice to see if all information of relevance was contained in her essay, and she had been satisfied enough. However, her heart hammered at that point while walking over to the table she had occupied the night before, reaching for her three-foot-long parchment on animal transfiguration. She would read through it again and conclude it was just fine as it was, and that it would not end her up with an F, regardless of how busy the girl was lately, and how much stress all those classes caused – the chances of making mistakes somewhere were of course larger when you had no two seconds to rub together.
Carrying the roll of parchment to the nearest armchair, she settled down quietly, her teeth taking hold of her wand as she carefully unrolled it, letting her hazel eyes sweep over it fleetingly. Oh to be able to read fast could be such luxury… The further she read, the harder her heart hammered in her throat, though. As she reached the end of the parchment, she was in a panic, realizing that she seemed to have forgotten about a rather essential part of it all: a comparison between animal transfiguration and Animagi. She hadn't. She could so cry right then and there. Her hand intuitively reached between her bosoms, moving over the pendant hanging there, hidden underneath her nightgown. For safety measures she never took it off. A charm ensured that the chain wouldn't strangle her at night upon tossing and turning.
She knew using the Time-Turner for this was not allowed, but still it was for educational purposes as well at least. She had no other choice basically. Hand sliding up until fingers wrapped around the chain, then dragging the thing from under her nightgown, she revealed the little Time-Turner. A glance at the gigantic clock above the fireplace indicated a little to six… She had been the last one to go to bed the night before, having been alone in the common room from eleven-thirty onwards. Taking firmly hold of the essay and clutching her wand even tighter between white even teeth, she turned the hourglass five times until she again stood alone in the common room. A glance to the gigantic clock indicated nearly one in the morning, and thus confirmed that she had successfully travelled back in time by five hours.
She could try and steal Harry's Invisibility Cloak… but she could use every minute to work on that comparison with Animagi, too… She needed to get going. She quietly stuffed the pendant underneath her nightgown again, reaching for her wand, already walking over to the portrait hole. She had no time to lose… She would have rather used it to get some more sleep, though…
Barely having escaped Filch and Mrs. Norris by hiding behind an armor first and then in a darker corner, Hermione finally thought she would make it to the library. However… The sound of slightly familiar footsteps alarmed Hermione as she turned into the hallway that would lead to the library. "Nox!"
There were no dark corners or statues she could hide behind this time… She looked about herself desperately, but that one familiar, clipped voice that belonged to the steady footsteps halted her. "Miss Granger!"
She quietly turned to look at her Head of House, biting down on her lower lip in fear of what she might do or say, catching her out of bed hours after curfew. What was she herself doing there? Hermione wondered. How terribly unlucky mustn't she be to be caught right there at that exact same moment? Surely enough, Minerva's thin lips were pursed, and her eyes appeared all but kind – even less so than in class, Hermione saw by the light of her wand.
"What are you doing here in the middle of the night, positively traipsing over school rules I'm sure you better than anyone else should know? You should be in your dormitories!"
Hermione had lied to her Head of House before: two years ago with the troll. She had disappointed her gravely. She was most likely disappointing her even more now, and somehow that was not something she could bear then. She was truly exhausted, and if it actually mattered, she was just having her period (pains included) as well, causing her to be much more emotional than she usually was. Tears pricked in her eyes at the thought of disappointing her role model again, possibly being sent back to Gryffindor Tower… with no chance of finishing her essay for Transfiguration and then maybe her nightmare coming true: an F! The worst was that McGonagall didn't even know the worst of it: she couldn't return to her rooms. She was already there as well. "I… I can't," she stuttered.
"Why?" Minerva McGonagall immediately questioned, eyebrow quirking.
"I… I'm already there as well," she said.
A few seconds of silence ensued until Minerva spoke up. "Miss Granger! I'm very disappointed in you! If there was one of my pupils I would have imagined keeping her promises and especially with regard to something… so essential as this, it would have been you. It seems that I was mistaken, and you know what I told you."
Oh yes, Hermione did recall her professor's exact words upon receiving her Time-Turner: if McGonagall ever knew of improper use of the Time-Turner, it would be confiscated, and then she would have to drop a number of classes. That was the last straw for Hermione, and she burst into a flood of tears, the essay dropping to the floor, followed by herself as she sank down on her knees. In fact, due to the stress and exhaustion she had already been on the verge of collapsing for weeks… Harry and Ron didn't get it, and they were not the type one could get a comfort inducing hug from that would keep her going just a bit longer. Ginny did, but not even she understood, always telling her to just tell her Head of House she couldn't take it anymore and drop a few of her classes. Besides, she had been rather busy with lovers as of late, too. Sobs wracked her body, and tears blurred her vision as she curled up on the cold stone floor. The girl was unaware of her Head of House squatting down by her and calling for the help of a House-Elf to take them both to the professor's rooms.
After having ensured Miss Granger her essay would be splendid as usual and a comparison with Animagi would not raise her score above the maximum, for the Gryffindor Head of House was certain that that would be reached either way, the pupil had agreed to remain in Professor McGonagall's rooms until at least six in the morning, both of them getting that she couldn't return before and that wandering was no option.
She had offered the girl her bed for the time being as she finished marking fourth year essays. She rarely went to her bed before one or two in the morning. She couldn't fall asleep before that time either. Of course Hermione had argued, saying that she couldn't possibly take the bed of her professor, but she had eventually convinced her, saying that a transfigured bed wouldn't be half as comfortable and that she really looked tired and seemed like she could use the sleep... Not having wanted to argue with her professor, she had given in.
When she walked into the bedroom, which was about one in the morning, having finished earlier than she would have expected and guessing that she might be tired enough to fall asleep, she found the girl still lying there in the very same position as when she had left the bedroom, her eyes wide-open despite the dark bruises slowly forming underneath. Minerva suspected that the girl must have found how Glamor Charms worked then. This was not from just one night...
"Professor," a soft voice suddenly sounded, and the hollow creaking of a mattress could be heard as she slowly moved to sit upright and made to rise, stopped short by her professor.
"Where are you going, Miss Granger?"
"I'm going to..." Well, she didn't know where she was going to really, but she certainly wasn't going to stay. She couldn't take the elder woman's bed and most certainly couldn't share the bed with her. How odd would that be? She was a pupil there, and Minerva McGonagall was her teacher, her Head of House and the Deputy Headmistress... and possibly the harshest you could find in that category. The chance of seeing her smile was nearly smaller than winning the lottery. You could not just jump into bed with her – even if only to sleep. "Well, I assume you're going to bed, so I thought I just..."
"I know I don't exactly seem like the very approachable type, but regardless of the rumours, I don't really bite," Minerva said, eyebrow quirking while she walked over to the other side of the bed. She quietly took off her glasses and transfigured her robes into a nightdress before putting her wand upon the night table and flipping the covers back.
Hermione looked at her over her shoulder. "You mean it is... okay?"
"Yes, Hermione," Minerva said, using her pupil's first name as she crawled under the covers and settled, just waiting and smiling lightly as Hermione rather awkwardly crawled back into the position that she had taken on earlier.
At first, they remained on their respective sides of the bed. Hermione at one point, however, settled closer to the other's warmth and cuddled into her like one spoon into another. When Minerva woke her to return to the common room around six, Hermione realized she hadn't slept so well and actually felt so safe in ages.