A/N. HERE'S MY NEW STORY! I have no clue how long this story will end up being, but I'm guessing long. For a while, I will be updating maybe every other day, possibly every three days, but once the baby comes I imagine it will be once a week (but never fear, we still have a little less than seven months until that happens haha)
This story is rated M for language, some violence, and future smut.
DISCLAIMER: I do NOT own Harry Potter or make money from doing this.
NOTE: This story is in the process of being beta'd by the lovely Anne Bonham-Knightley and wonderful Kennilworthy Thisp.
Chapter One: Dumbledore's Favor
Wandering aimlessly down a corridor, Hermione admired how far Hogwarts had come in terms of reconstruction in only a month. Most of the rubble had been cleared and the stone walls were beginning to be rebuilt. She ran her hand over the obvious deviation between new and old stone as she walked towards her destination.
That morning Hermione received a letter from McGonagall requesting to meet her for tea in Dumbledore's old office, which was now Minerva's with her new position as Headmistress. Hermione quickly sent an owl back agreeing to the time and place, but her heart was heavy to return to a place that she both loved and detested.
For years she thrived in classes here, made friends here, half of the memories of her life were here. But so was the death of many friends and the sorrow that came with war.
Hermione could only guess that the sudden meeting from McGonagall was the discuss Harry. Harry was riddled with survivor's guilt, as most of them were, but Harry hadn't left Grimmauld in weeks. It was becoming an illness and everyone was concerned and Hermione imagined McGonagall was no different.
It seemed like the only reason these days anyone wanted to meet with her was to ask about Harry.
Hermione came to the gargoyle outside the office and smirked as she gave the password, "New Beginnings." McGonagall was definitely one of the more optimistic ones.
But once she entered the office, her old Transfiguration teacher was nowhere in sight.
The office was just as Hermione remembered it, full of books and artifacts and Fawkes's little house and sitting rod. The Phoenix himself was standing there, looking young and pretty with his flame-colored feathers that flickered and glistening healthily in the light of the room.
"Hello?" Hermione called out tentatively as she slowly stepped further into the room. "Professor? Minerva, are you here?" She checked the note she'd folded in her pocket from McGonagall to double check that she had the right place and time.
"You've made no mistake, dear, I promise you that," a voice Hermione knew very well intoned.
Turning so fast her head jarred, Hermione looked to Albus Dumbledore's portrait. The man was sitting there with that same twinkle in his eyes, his half-moon glasses sitting on his nose, and his beard long and white. He just radiated this wisdom and sense of all-knowing that Hermione always hoped that she herself would possess once she was a hundred and fifteen years old.
"Professor," Hermione said with a small smile. "Do you know where McGonagall is?"
"I'm afraid," Dumbledore said, "that Minerva is busy currently, doing some preparation for your journey."
"Journey?" Hermione said, her brow furrowing in confusion. "What do you mean, sir?"
"Minerva sent you the letter for tea under my advisement," Dumbledore confessed. "I did not mean to trick you, my dear, but I did not feel the need to scare you unnecessarily before you arrived."
Hermione's head throbbed nervously. "I appreciate that, I suppose. But still, sir, what type of journey? I must admit, I'm quite exhausted from all the journeying I've been doing," she added with dry amusement.
Even Dumbledore grinned down from his frame at that. "I suppose you must be. I'm sorry to say, though, that I must ask you a favor, Hermione. A favor I cannot ask anyone else - something only you can do. A favor like this can change the path of history itself. It is a burdensome favor, one that I have no right to ask you, and will leave you lost, alone, and afraid. But still, I hope you understand why I must ask it of you." He paused. "Perhaps you should take a seat."
Fear rising in her chest, she pushed it down, and walked toward the chairs in front of the Headmaster's desk.
Dumbledore grinned. "Perhaps you'd like to sit in the Headmistress's chair?"
Hermione felt her eyes widen incredulously. "But, sir -"
"I insist, Hermione," Dumbledore said, holding up a hand to gently cut her off. "After all, I have a suspicion that you will be sitting there more often than not, given a few decades."
Blushing at the praise and at the concept that she could ever be a Headmistress, she slowly stood and walked around the desk to lower herself into the velvet-lined high-backed chair. Sitting in it made a surge of confidence and power surge up through Hermione, starting in her toes.
"It's brilliant, isn't it?" Dumbledore said with a knowing smile and a wink.
"Indeed," Hermione said admiringly. "But…sir. What exactly have you brought me here to do? The war is over and reconstruction has begun. As far as I know there are no especially dangerous Death Eaters loose. The only thing I can really think I could do was research something in the library for you." She grinned, because it was true. She was the bookworm, it was the only reason why anyone ever really needed her.
"You are worth far more than research, Hermione," Dumbledore said wisely. "You are the only one who can complete my task because you are so much more. You are the brightest witch of your age…and many other ages, I promise you. Brighter than any of the witches in my own, I'd say."
Hermione flushed again and smiled.
"Hermione," Dumbledore continued, "please open the top drawer of on the left side of the desk and pull out the wooden box there. I want you to open it up and look inside."
She obeyed, sliding open the ancient drawer and looking inside where she found a very pretty cherry wood jewelry box with intricate carvings of horses and ballerinas all around it. She lifted the beautiful box carefully and set it on the bare-topped desk in front of her. There was a small golden clasp at the front of it.
Carefully lifting the clasp and lid, inside the box was a maroon silk handkerchief. She glanced up at Dumbledore curiously, but lifted it out and placed it in the palm of her hand. She unfolded the cloth like the petals of a flower and inside found a small golden device that she was very familiar with.
"The Time-Turner?" Hermione gasped quietly, holding the little hourglass delicately between her fingers. She looked up at her old headmaster, confused. "But…sir, what am I to do with this? The war is over and no offense, sir, I really would not want to go back to it."
Albus Dumbledore gave Hermione a sad little smile. "I do not wish for you to go back to the war last month, my dear. But to a different war altogether - the first war. Or, more specifically, a few years before it."
"I'm afraid I don't quite understand."
"Hermione, I want you to prevent either wars from ever happening."
Eyes bulging, Hermione gasped. "But, Professor! Tampering with time is highly dangerous and extremely illegal! If I were to make one tiny mistake, it could mean Armageddon!"
Dumbledore laughed softly, his eyes still holding that sage sparkle. "I do not believe you would be able to end the world, Hermione. Quite the opposite, I believe you could save it. The war is far from over, you see. Harry has played his part and completed his own task, but the victory is naught. Because unbeknownst to even the Death Eaters is…there's another Horcrux."
With a big intake of breath, Hermione let out a small, but horrified noise, like a choke. "No," she murmured. "No, no, no."
"I'm sorry to say it, but yes, there is."
"What is it, then?" Hermione demanded. "I'll find it and destroy it and -"
"I'm afraid I don't know what the Horcrux is," Dumbledore said with a little bit of shame. "Only Tom Riddle knows that. But I know there is another. And because we cannot find it, you must prevent him from ever making it. By going back in time to James Potter's Third Year at Hogwarts."
"Why the Third Year, sir?" she inquired.
"Because it was the year Minerva came to acquire the Time-Turner," Dumbledore explained, "and the Time-Turner would not be in existence before then, which would create issues unknown to even the creators of the Time-Turner. No one's dared experimenting. With it, though, you will use it to go to James's Third Year and become friends with him, and Sirius and Remus of course. That trio was quite inseparable if I remember correctly." He grinned, thinking back to the days of the Marauders' schooling. He winked at Hermione. "Much like another trio I am familiar with."
"I'll be much older than them," Hermione pointed out, trying to reason with him that this would never work. "Thirteen-year-olds don't trust eighteen-year-olds."
"Look into the box again, my dear."
Hermione looked back into the jewelry box and saw something that she had either missed before or had just appeared. A small vial of thick, purplish liquid, a cork stuck in its top.
"By drinking that potion," Dumbledore explained, "you will decrease in age by five years. I'd recommend drinking it before using the turner, though."
She rolled the vial in her palm, examining it closely. It certainly didn't look very pleasant. It moved like syrup in the glass container.
"What would I need to accomplish?" Hermione inquired softly.
"Become friends with the Marauders, make sure they never trust Peter Pettigrew in the way that they did," Dumbledore outlined, "and once the time comes… destroy every Horcrux in that timeline and kill Voldemort yourself before Harry can become one as well."
Hermione's head was whirring like clockwork. "But… that would mean… in this timeline that James and Lily… "
"Will be alive, yes," Dumbledore confirmed.
"Sirius and Snape, as well." She looked at the Time-Turner with new eyes now.
"Indeed." The old dotty-eyed man nodded. "This timeline would become an undoubtedly brighter one. Harry might even have younger siblings, Sirius would have never gone to Azkaban and perhaps have a family of his own, and Remus will never have lost his friends and maybe take young Nymphadora Tonks as a wife, because she would be alive as well."
Hermione could see the possibilities all laid out for her. Harry would never go through the hell his life had been. He'd never be an orphan or have to live with the Dursleys, and Harry could have younger siblings!
Everything would be for the better.
Except for one tiny detail…
"Professor," Hermione said, looking up into the portrait's shining blue eyes, "there is one problem. The Time-Turner only goes back in time, not forward. So when I finish the task…how am I to return?"
The light in Dumbledore's eye dull and the wrinkles of his face deepened along with his frown. "I'm afraid the answer to that is regrettably simple… you will not return to this timeline."
Hermione's head fell forward with the impact of the statement. If she were to accept the deed, she would have to stay in that time and live it out, only to hope to see her friends and family again once she was nearly forty. Even then, none of them would know who she was.
"Fear not, my friend," Dumbledore said. "You still have the chance at a happy life. As long as you've performed the needed tasks of bringing down the Dark Lord and make sure everyone who is alive now remains so, you are free to live your life as you wish. Start a career. Raise a family. Be happy."
Take a deep breath and hard swallow, trying to dampen her cotton-dry throat, Hermione raised her head and shifted her shoulders back. "What am I to do?"
"It's rather simple. In precisely three hours, the moment the clock strikes four in the afternoon, you drink the potion and then turn the Time-Turner. In the wooden box is a slip of parchment with the number of necessary turns. And once you've arrived at Hogwarts and begin as a Third Year, destroy the Time-Turner and proceed with your task," Dumbledore listed solemnly.
"But this is the last Time-Turner in existence, what with the Time Room in the Department of Mysteries being destroyed," Hermione said, reluctant to kill such an artifact.
"It cannot fall into the wrong hands. You will be tampering with time enough without Tom getting his hands on it and reversing all the work you'll have done."
Standing from the desk, Hermione placed the potion, Turner, and handkerchief back into the jewelry box over the folded slip of parchment. She fastened the gold clasp and walked over to be face to face with Albus Dumbledore's portrait, the frame holding one of the most powerful wizards of all time, who defeated Gellert Grindelwald and played a key part in the destruction of Voldemort.
And he was asking her to change time. How could she refuse such a vital deed? How could she turn her nose up at making a difference in the same way Dumbledore had?
"Anything else, Professor?" she asked.
"Yes. I'd recommend bringing nothing with you apart from your wand and that jewelry box. It is a different era, after all. There is a second parchment with the number of turns that you should give to my past self upon arrival. Also…you should probably go to Grimmauld, to Sirius Black's bedroom when you do the turns."
This was a peculiar request but she nodded nonetheless.
"Farewell, Professor," she said slowly. "I suppose… I will see you soon." She gave a half-hearted smirk and lifted the box, acknowledging.
"Farewell, Miss Granger," he said somberly. "And good luck."
The young girl began walked towards the exit when she heard her old professor's voice say, "One last thing. When you get to Mr. Black's childhood bedroom, I'd suggest locking the door."
Hermione nodded very slowly and walked out of the office, the box containing both her future and past between her hands.
The call for an Order meeting at McGonagall's request was abrupt and worried many of the members. Especially one Remus John Lupin who was enjoying the conclusion of all the funerals he had to attend. It'd been thoroughly exhausting and insanely depressing and the oncoming full moon was doing nothing to help it.
So when he was called for an Order meeting at Hogwarts, he could not help but be reluctant to return to the battleground where he lost so many comrades and the girl he had found himself slowly falling for.
But he checked his watch; seeing that it was three-thirty and stood from his place on the couch and walked to the Floo. The green flames erupted around him and before he knew it, he was standing in Dumbledore's - now Minerva's - office. In the room were Molly, Arthur, George, Bill, and Ron Weasley, Harry Potter, Luna Lovegood, Neville Longbottom, and McGonagall herself.
"Oh, good, everyone's here. Hello, Remus." She cleared her throat. "I suppose you all are wondering what's brought on such a sudden meeting," McGonagall began. "But it must be now or else it will never happen."
Everyone looked at her curiously.
"Dumbledore, since before he died, had a sort of plan…" McGonagall began.
"Excuse me, Professor," Ron Weasley said politely. "But we're actually missing someone. Hermione hasn't gotten here yet." Harry nodded in agreement.
The Scottish woman let out a long sigh. "I'm afraid she is the reason we are having this meeting."
Everyone immediately began speaking urgently.
"Hermione? What's wrong with Hermione?" Ron sputtered.
"Oh, dear Merlin, she isn't dead, is she?" Harry demanded coldly.
"Oh, my dear girl," Molly sobbed while Arthur rubbed her back.
"Has she been hurt?" Luna inquired nervously. "Or injured? Has she fallen ill?"
McGonagall raised a single hand into the air that brought a halt to everyone's panicking chatter.
"Miss Granger," Minerva said carefully, "as of right now is perfectly safe, healthy, and alive."
"You say 'as of right now'," Remus said from the back of the room. His arms were crossed and he was leaning against a bookcase. "Are you implying that she will be in harm's way soon?" He was already worried for the girl who he'd developed a deep fondness and appreciation for. If anything were to happen to her… he'd be absolutely distraught.
"Possibly," McGonagall said tentatively.
"Professor," George said, "I think things would be considerably less tense if you stopped speaking in code." He had dark, sleepless rims beneath his eyes and his cheeks were thinner.
McGonagall nodded reluctantly, moving to sit in her chair behind her new desk. "Dumbledore always had a plan," McGonagall repeated, "that in the wake of a war, depending on its outcome and casualties, he would send a trusted and talented wizard or witch back in time to prevent it all from ever happening. Dumbledore - his portrait, that is - revealed to me a final Horcrux that he doesn't know the location of or what form it is in."
Harry dropped his head into the palms of his hands while a few gasped and Remus rested his fist to his forehead, eyes shut in despair.
"However, there should be no reason to worry about the final piece of Voldemort's soul," McGonagall said morosely, "because Miss Granger will be transporting herself back in time to stop it from ever being created."
The silence in the room was thick and harsh like a fog encasing all of them.
Remus shook his head. "No. No way did Dumbledore cook up such an insane plan. It's against nature, it's illegal, and nothing good comes from tampering with time. Even if Albus managed to order this from beyond his grave, Hermione is smarter than to accept a suicide mission like this."
Dumbledore's portrait spoke, "I'm sorry, Remus, but it is all true. I spoke with Miss Granger herself only a few hours ago. She accepted the mission and will be completing it soon."
"You can't do this, Albus!" Remus snapped, pointing at the portrait of his old headmaster. "She is only a girl! A child! How dare you ask so much of her just after she's lost everything!"
"She is not a child, Remus," Dumbledore said carefully. "She is the smartest witch I've ever met and a young woman who has survived war. She is not the girl you maker her out to be."
"You do not realize what you've done!" Remus shouted as everyone looked on with sadness and horror. "You've signed her death warrant! Tampering with time results in indeterminable amounts of deaths! I thought you smarter than that!"
"It can also end in many lives saved," Dumbledore continued sagely.
"Is that why you've sent her away?" Remus demanded coldly. "Because you're sick of being dead and figure she can save your life by doing this?"
"Not only my own," the old bearded man said. "But many. James, Lily, Sirius, Regulus, and everyone lost in the war. Surely that outweighs the consequences?"
"Sacrifice Hermione for all those lives, is that what you're saying?" Remus spat, the Wolf inside him howling.
"She could very well live."
"People die for a reason, Dumbledore!" Remus bellowed. "By taking it upon yourself - playing God once again - you could unravel the fabric of time! We could all be dead because of this!"
"Do you give Miss Granger any credit?" Dumbledore asked casually, not affronted at all.
"I give her all the credit in the world!" Remus hissed. "And I give you none for such a foolish move!" He spun around to face McGonagall and march up to her desk, smacking his hands down on the word to look her eye-to-eye. "Where. Is. She?" he growled.
McGonagall kept her chin high and didn't even blink at the werewolf. "Preparing for her journey."
"I mean specifically!"
"Remus…" Harry said softly.
"Quiet, Harry!" Remus snapped and then turned back to the Headmistress. "Tell me. Now."
"You won't be able to stop her, even if you got there in time. She is a stubborn girl and is loyal to Dumbledore and her mission," McGonagall quipped.
"Then you should have nothing to worry about, then," Remus snarled. "Just answer the damn question, Minerva."
Looking mildly offended, McGonagall sneered delicately, but answered, "Grimmauld Place. She will be gone from this timeline in less than ten minutes."
~ So Long And Thanks For All The Fish ~