Disclaimer: The characters and scenes are lovingly borrowed from the world of JK Rowling. I do not own.
Warnings: Mild language and smut scenes in later chapters. Also, as it says in my description, while this is a time turner piece it does not take place in the Marauder time period.
oOo Chemistry & Timing oOo
"Story is our only boat for sailing on the river of time, but in the great rapids and the winding shallows, no boat is safe." — Ursula K. Le Guin
She mustn't be seen.
It was the oldest rule of time travel, the simplest in definition and yet one of the hardest to follow. It was a rule that came down to measuring one's own influence on a time and place, interacting with absolute discretion, and never letting anyone—anyone—know where you were from. And from her first day with the time-turner as a third-year to her training within the Department of Mysteries, Hermione Granger had understood this.
Her heart threatened to beat from her chest but she didn't dare stop running. The Hall of Time was long, longer than a quidditch pitch, and the dark walls were lined with clocks, their ticking serenading her as she ran. She passed offices on her left and right but they were all empty. Panic chased after her like a wall of fire.
Reaching the large bell jar that stood in the center of the hall, the diamond-bright light a beacon in the darkness, Hermione stopped and pulled out her antique pocket watch. She flipped it open. As the jeweled egg hatched in a sea of glittering wind beside her, she stared at the watch face and frowned. The runes were glowing but were still shifting and sputtering, impossible to decipher.
How could she have been so stupid?
All it had taken was an unseen cup of tea and her elbow hitting it just right. The milky brown liquid quickly spread, discoloring the parchment and ruining weeks worth of calculations, and in her panic Hermione ripped the papers away, somehow forgetting the delicate mechanisms that sat on her desk. Bell jars and time-turners crashed to the floor at her feet and the room vanished around her.
She had awoken on the floor of her office, cold and disoriented, her head feeling like it was about to split in two. It took a few moments for the room to stop spinning and for Hermione to realize it was not as she had left it. Her work desk was pushed against the far wall, chairs stacked on top of it and collecting cobwebs, while her large bookcase, usually stuffed with books and pictures of Ron and Harry, was nowhere to be seen.
She knew instantly that she'd fallen back in time, and panic had crept upon her like devil's snare.
It had always been a risk, an occupational hazard, but as Hermione searched in her pockets for a time-turner, finding nothing but her wand and her small beaded handbag, she felt ill. Mistakes happened, but in her field mistakes could mean years. It could mean centuries. And she was alone. Hermione had tried, desperately, the other offices in her department, but they were also abandoned. Even in Guillaume's office, which he always kept quite scarce, she could tell no one had been there for quite some time.
Hermione closed the pocket watch with a snap, and pushed her hair from her eyes, wincing as she accidentally brushed the gash on the side of her head. She didn't know how long she had been knocked out, but blood had dried and caked on the side of her face. She needed a healer, but that was the least of her concerns at the moment.
She had to get out of the ministry.
Her life had always been full of ups and downs, times where she was safe and times when she was hunted. Hermione couldn't take the chance she had fallen back into a time where Voldemort was in power and a bounty was still on her head. She continued on, running down the long corridor, the act hauntingly familiar to the night they had snuck into the Department of Mysteries in her fifth year.
Finally reaching the end of the corridor, she pulled a heavy, black door open and stepped into the next room. The walls were lined with a dozen similar doors and the floor a disorienting sea of black marble. Stepping further into the room, the door slammed behind her and the room began to spin. She closed her eyes. After so many years Hermione knew this room well, but still, she was already dizzy enough. The revolving stopped, the enchantment completed, and Hermione opened her eyes. A quick, well practiced flick of her wand and a door across from her opened. Through it and at the end of another long corridor, she saw the soft glow of the elevators.
Almost to the gilded doors, Hermione suddenly stopped as a low, hushed sound of voices began to grow. The hall was lined with small alcoves, and Hermione tucked into one, casting a quick disillusionment charm on herself as several witches and wizards appeared around the corner. She listened to their voices, straining for anything familiar, as they awaited the elevators. The only other room down here was courtroom ten, a space used only during large trials or during desperate times—a fact that didn't reassure her. No, from her angle she couldn't really see who it was and their voices were too muddled together. A moment later, the elevator chimed its arrival. She heard the metal gate slide open as they climbed inside, and then shut with another soft ding.
The lift rose and the hall was once again quiet. She rushed forward. However, the foyer wasn't quite as empty as she thought, and Hermione didn't see him until it was too late.
They ran into each other hard. She stumbled, Hermione's vision spinning once again as her footing went out from underneath her. She gasped in shock, reaching out desperately as the ground rushed towards her, when a hand quickly grabbed her own and she was pulled to her feet.
She looked up at the wizard. Relief flooded her. She stepped forward and threw herself into his arms.
He almost lost his balance as her arms wrapped around his neck but Hermione didn't care. Of all the faces to see, he was one she knew she could trust. If Remus Lupin was here, her fall back through time couldn't have been as bad as she feared, a year or two at the worst.
"Oh, am I glad to see you!" Hermione gasped as she withdrew her arms and put her hand to her head. "I've had the most terrible accident—"
"You're bleeding, do you need—"
"That's not important," Hermione interrupted as she walked to the elevator. "I can't believe I've been so stupid!"
She mashed the up-button impatiently, watching as the dial slowly moved back to their level. She turned to Remus, a million questions still buzzing in her head. She couldn't tell him what had happened, but Hermione knew she would at least get honest answers.
"Remus, please—this may sound strange, but I need to know," she stepped forward, "who is in control of the ministry?"
"Who is Minister of Magic?"
While it was unlikely Remus would be here during that year Voldemort had infiltrated the Ministry, Hermione couldn't take chances. If it was during the time Kingsley was minister, that would be ideal.
"Fudge of course."
It took a moment for the name to sink in. At first she was relieved he hadn't said Pius Thicknesse, which would have meant that the Ministry was under Voldemort's control, but still; Fudge was much earlier than she expected. Hermione turned to him.
"Look," Remus said, stepping forward. "That cut looks pretty bad—"
"It's fine," she brushed him off, "Remus—"
"I can show you to the healer's desk if you want, " he continued. "I'm sorry, I didn't catch your name."
Hermione looked at him, her blood turning cold as the realization began to set in. Remus was dressed in his old traveling cloak, the light brown one he had finally replaced five years ago. His face was much smoother behind the scars, and even his hair had less grey than she remembered. The elevator chimed its arrival and the doors slid open. Hermione turned and stepped into the lift, her eyes flickering over the posters that lined the walls.
"What is today's date?" she asked.
"Um—" he paused "—August 31st."
"Yes, of course," Remus replied, following her into the lift. "I'm sorry, do I know you?"
No, he didn't know her. Hermione hadn't gone back a few months; she had gone back almost ten years. Ten years to a time where this Remus had no idea who she was. However, that was about to change. Tomorrow, Remus would drive the dementors from their compartment on the train and they would meet for the first time. Again.
A/N: "That's right, folks! She's been sent back to her third year! Please feel free to Review!" – E