Hermione Granger and the Alternate Universe

Chapter 24 The Wheel has Come Full Circle

And Lady MacBeth wandered off, wailing "What is done cannot be undone". And I thought, "That's what you think, sister" - Fritz Leiber, NO GREAT MAGIC.

Hermione kept the communicator on so that she could keep track of what was going on. It sounded like the invaders were smashing things up, pretty much at random, in a vague quest to disable CERN from matching their magic powers. It was horrible. Mark – Hermione started crying at the memory – had once commented that something that took centuries to build could be destroyed in an hour. CERN depended on near-unique machinery with incredible precision. If destroyed, they may cost hundreds of millions of euros to rebuild – which meant that they may never get rebuilt, and the barbarians would have won. Hermione wiped away her tears and wondered if she was up to the mission; it was hard to feel optimistic about the result. Fortunately there was somebody she could ask, to confirm her guesses.

"Else, I have two crucial questions. Do you know the name Voldemort?"

"He is the fuehrer of the dark wizards. It is dangerous to even speak his name – but that is OK, because we are in danger already."

"And is there some connection between Voldemort and the legend of the Philosopher's Stone?"

"Supposedly his minions used the stone to revive him in the 1990s, after he had been dormant for more than a decade."

"Thank you." But there was another worry. Hermione knew that the combination of pregnancy, witch power, and the Flu Force raised her blood pressure dangerously. She was willing to take the medical risk, but suppose she was in the middle of her plan, and got too dizzy to carry it out – or even fainted? She needed backup.

"Elsa, I may need your help. I don't have time to explain the plan, but I need to warn you, it's very dangerous."

Elsa hesitated long enough for Hermione to know that she was seriously thinking over the warning. Finally – "I'll trust you."

"All right. Once the Flu Field develops, meditate on the date "11 June, 1991", and grab my arm so that we can Apparate together."

"I'll meditate in deutsch. I can probably do it better."

Almost time. Hermione tried to keep grief at bay and meditate on the destination so the Flu Field would pick it up. 18 o'clock, 11 June, 1991. 18 o'clock, 11 June, 1991-

The Universe vanished, everything but Elsa, who was grasping Hermione's arm.

Then it reappeared, in the form of a quiet British suburb.

"Did we just travel in time?" asked Elsa, awed.

"I think so. Yes, there's the store that burnt down in 1993. Best of all, it's still daylight, so I've beaten my previous arrival."

"Bitte?"

"I've time-travelled here once before, to ensure that I would get a scientific education instead of being sent to Hogwarts. It seemed like the best idea at the time, but now I don't think so. All my life I've dreamed of an alternate universe where I was educated as a witch. I think that universe exists somewhere, and I'm the key to it."

"Viel egoistisch," Elsa muttered.

"I know, but I think I know what happened. At one point two schoolboys named Ron Weasley and Harry Potter tried to steal the Philosopher's Stone to keep Voldemort from getting it, but they were blocked by the magic protections. I think if I were there with them, they might have made it, and Voldemort would have stayed dormant for a while. Long enough to make a difference. You see, in my most recent vision, Harry Potter killed Voldemort."

"It is all speculative. Do you think you can change time?"

"I don't know. I was hoping to research the matter, but I never had time. We'll be working in the dark, in a double sense."

They waited. Hermione carefully positioned herself so that when her earlier self materialized, she would be standing nearby but behind her out of sight.

Suddenly the earlier Hermione materialized, and promptly fell on her posterior. The older Hermione winced, having forgotten that detail.

She got out her wand, but was intimidated by the sheer perversity of the situation. Attack herself, when there was no memory of the attack in her own past?

"Stupefy!" called Elsa, and the earlier Hermione, trying to get back to her feet, went slack.

"Thank you, I think," said Hermione, still thinking that this situation was too weird. "Now let's get her – me – out of the way before somebody sees us and calls Scotland Yard. Those bushes over there."

She picked her former self up by the arms while Elsa took the feet. Irrevelantly, she found herself thinking Is that what my hair really looks like in back?

The three ended up in the bushes. "Now what?" asked Elsa.

"We let McGonagall talk my Mum into sending me to Hogwarts. Then I'll be in the right place to help Harry Potter eliminate Voldemort."

"Then what?"

"Within a few minutes the three of us will return to 2012. But I don't know what timeline."

Elsa went pale as she realized the implications. Meanwhile McGonagall came to the door and was admitted. Hermione spoke again when the teacher was out of earshot.

"It could be that we appear in the new timeline, with Voldemort and his minions gone. Or it could be that our own timeline still exists on a sort of parallel track, and we can still go back to there. Or it could be that our own timeline no longer exists, in which case -"

"We may no longer exist," finished Elsa.

"Yes. And I'll have eliminated not only myself, but my poor baby. I SAID this was dangerous."

Elsa thought about it. "My mutter was religious in a way, and told me that even if I died, my soul would survive. But if my very history was erased-?"

"I don't know." Hermione waited, and added reluctantly, "you can prevent it, you know. Go in and convince my mother to let me go to Muggle school."

Elsa settled back, looking worried, but did not cry out.

Hermione sat, and waited, and watched, and tried not to break down in tears at her loss. A few minutes and this would be over, one way or another -

0-0-0-0

Minnie Granger had spent the night with a school friend. The friend's Mum dropped her by her house the next day. Getting out of the car, she was surprised to see the shrubbery messed up, as if somebody had been hiding there.

She went to look at the area. All she could see was a piece of notebook paper, with three mysterious words written on it.

She unlocked the front door and walked in. "I'm home, Mum."

"That's good, Minnie. Because there's something we need to talk about. We've received an offer from a very unusual school. But what's that paper you're holding?

Minnie looked down again at the paper, with the odd words:

Find HARRY POTTER.

THE END

(AUTHOR'S NOTE: The epilogue on the chapter is from Fritz Leiber's CHANGE WAR series, which in my opinion is one of the cleverest set of time-travel stories ever written.)