A/N: Okay, so when I write it helps to have more than one project. That way when I'm stuck on one, I can work on something else for a bit. I even prefer it if the projects are as different as possible because it allows me to completely shift gears. Thank you every body for the feedback. I am working on another story too, and so I'm trying to update them at the same time. That forces me to not neglect the other story…that's my plan anyway.
Now I apologize for this next bit, but the reviewer was a guest, and I can't PM them.
Juicylover09: Wow. I'm honored. Thank you for suggesting it. I'm truly tempted because fanfiction's restrictions are getting to be really annoying. I'm actively trying to figure out where to post future stories. What am I willing to write about? Oh, honey. I like Hermione because she's a strong female character, so she's my go-to-girl. I'm willing to read and/or write her with almost anyone. I enjoy polyamorous/polyfidelitous stories—especially if they attempt to address the realities of the relationships in between all the fabulous sex scenes. Not Voldemort because I insist that the major love interest have a nose. And I admit that Hermione/Arthur has a major squick factor for me.
Standing around in a room, waiting to spill her guts about the future had not been on Hermione's list that night. Sleep had been on there. Maybe some girl bonding. Definitely not traveling to the past to hang out with a bunch of dead people. Although at the moment, they all seemed pretty alive, which was giving the whole evening a sort of surreal quality that unnerved her slightly. Especially when you added in the fact that two of the dead people seemed to be sort of flirting with her. The Marauders were sort of huddled in on each other, which she understood since they'd just lost a friend. They probably weren't feeling all that friendly about her, and she couldn't blame them. They'd known Peter Pettigrew for nine years, been dorm mates with him, and she just dropped out of the sky and turned their whole world upside down. Perhaps she might have been more subtle if she weren't still fairly buzzed off the alcohol she'd had that night. Perhaps not. She was watching Dumbledore out of the corner of her eye. It wasn't that she didn't trust him…she just didn't completely trust him. Maybe it was the whole 'let's not tell this poor orphan kid that he's really an accidental horcrux, and that I'm setting him up—via this elaborate ruse—so that he'll kill himself for the greater good'.
"That's a very serious looking face."
"Mmm. Must be thinking very deep thoughts."
"Do you know how weird it is for me to look at you two," she asked curiously, turning to look at the Prewett twins. They were both tall and incredibly handsome, with leaner frames similar to Bill, but they had broader shoulders. Their hair was a darker red than the Weasley twins, again more like Bill, and they had eyes that were a deep, dark blue. Just watching them made her heart beat a little faster in confused appreciation. She'd never felt this attracted to any of the Weasley boys. It was weird. They grinned at her. "Like that. Those naughty boy smiles are so Fred and George, but you don't quite look like them. It's just….it's odd."
"So how close are you with our nephews?" They asked with identical frowns. She smirked. That sounded almost…jealous.
"Which ones?" She asked dryly.
"All of them." One of them said firmly. She thought it was Fabian.
"Well, Bill's a lot older than I am, so I don't hang out with him much, but he's always been nice to me. Charlie's in Romania, so I hardly ever see him, but he's a total teddy bear. Percy never wanted anything to do with us. Fred and George have always been well…Fred and George, but for the most part they've been supportive, protective…good friends, I guess. Ron…well…we tried to make a go of it, but it just wasn't meant to be," she said as diplomatically as she could. Their frowns became a little more pronounced.
"So…you dated then?" That was Gideon. She hid a smile.
"I suppose you could call it that," she muttered. They both just looked at her, and she sighed. "Ron and I were friends for a very long time, we were in the same year and the same house. When we got older…he made it clear that he liked me and I just sort of went along with it. I mean, I was this quiet bookworm, and it wasn't like I had to beat the boys off with a stick."
"Pull the other one then." That was Fabian for sure. He was rolling his eyes at her. Gideon looked just as disbelieving. It made her stomach flutter oddly, that these two men, who honestly were rather scrummy, couldn't believe that men weren't after her.
"Erm, I was sort of busy, and Ron was the only guy readily available that I knew well enough to feel comfortable around? Oh!" Hermione clapped a hand over her own mouth. She didn't really say that, did she? They smiled smugly at her, and she felt fluttery again.
"Now, that, we might believe," Gideon said thoughtfully.
"Busy how?" Moody asked, approaching their group. Hermione bit her lip. Just then the Longbottoms returned. She stood up, squared her shoulder unconsciously, and began to pace.
"Right," she said firmly, chewing her lip and furrowing her brow in thought. "There are just a few teensy weensy things you need to know. Well, Pettigrew you know about now. So that's one less."
"How did you know about him?" James asked in a subdued voice. Hermione didn't realize it, but the look on her face spoke volumes. It was pained, and wary, but finally resolve won out.
"He betrayed Harry's parents," she said finally. "He was made an orphan before his second birthday."
"That's how he came to live at my mother's house?" Sirius asked uncertainly. Hermione shook her head.
"No, that came much later, but it's how I know that Pettigrew was a traitor," Hermione said firmly.
"You said you were busy," Moody said flatly. "You look like you're barely out of Hogwarts. What were you doing?"
"Fighting," she said in a hard voice.
"We don't induct children into the Order," Dedalus Diggle said in a shocked voice. She snorted.
"Funnily enough, the Death Eaters don't give a fuck. They still tried their best to kill us," she snapped. "When the adults didn't do a damn thing to protect us, we took matters into our own hands."
"What does that mean?" Dorcas Meadows asked quietly, her face grave and pale. Bitterness twisted Hermione's features for a moment making her look much older than her years.
"We weren't being taught Defense Against the Dark Arts," she said in a low, hard voice. "The Ministry was afraid we'd rebel, or something. We were only being taught theory, no practicum. So Harry started a secret DADA group. We met in the room of requirement, and I used the Protean Charm on a bunch of fake galleons so everyone would know when to meet."
"How old were you?" Benjy Fenwick asked, concerned. Hermione's face tightened for a second.
"Fifth year," she muttered.
"What's the room of requirement?" Frank Longbottom asked in confusion. A flicker of amusement shone in Hermione's eyes.
"It's a room at Hogwarts that will appear when the user has need of it, and it will try to fulfill all of the user's requirements, excluding Gamp's exceptions, of course," she said fondly, thinking of Neville and his band of freedom fighters who'd made it their base camp.
"So Death Eaters have taken to attacking children?" Moody pressed her, frowning slightly. Hermione frowned back.
"It's not like they're overflowing with compunction and morals," she said slowly, and her eyes went flat and hard. "We're talking about a group of people who like to torture human beings for fun. Hell, they attack children now as far as I know."
Fabian and Gideon frowned at one another. If they didn't know any better, and they didn't, they would hazard a bet that she'd been tortured at some point. Fabian shifted in his seat. He'd known this woman for a matter of hours, but the idea that someone had tortured her, upset him. He knew by the look on his twin's face that he was thinking the same thing. He felt protective of her, and he didn't even know her. She was tiny, but she had attitude and power. Anyone who got along with Augusta Longbottom would have to be a strong woman. It didn't hurt that she was beautiful: masses of wild brown curls, those whiskey-colored eyes, and that delicate face. Soft lips that were begging to be kissed, and a firm little chin that told him she was probably stubborn. The Quidditch jersey and the sweats didn't really accentuate anything, but he could tell that she had ample curves where it counted. He grinned to himself, and Gideon elbowed him sharply and shot him a look. Stop drooling over her, and pay attention! He flushed and sat up.
"Really, the most important things that you all need to know are pretty simple. First of all, Lord Voldemort is really a half-blood with major issues named Tom Marvolo Riddle," Hermione said flatly, her arms wrapped around her middle in a protective gesture.
"Riddle's not a wizarding name," Gideon said with a slight frown. Hermione nodded.
"Hence him being a half-blood. His mother was a Gaunt," she explained. Her nose scrunched for a second, and Gideon thought she was adorable. "I think maybe because he was an orphan, he put a lot of significance on important cultural touchstones of wizarding culture. Through the Gaunts he was a direct lineal descendent of Salazar Slytherin, and I think he may have found his heritage endorsed by his sorting into Slytherin house. He chose to prove that heritage by opening the Chamber of Secrets, for which poor Hagrid was blamed and punished. Riddle would continue to seek these connections to wizarding culture throughout his career."
"You sound like a bloody textbook," Sirius muttered under his breath. Hermione's eyes narrowed on him briefly, then she turned her attention back to Moody who was frowning.
"Why is his heritage significant?" Moody asked sharply. Hermione gifted him with a tight smile.
"Riddle decided to use our common cultural heritage for his own ends," she said carefully, trying to watch both Moody and Dumbledore at the same time. "He created Horcruxes, seven of them, and most were made out of important artifacts."
"He made Horcruxes? Seven of them?" Moody sounded faint. Dumbledore was frowning to himself, and she thought she saw him mouth 'seven' to himself.
"Yes, but it's important to understand Riddle's pathological need to belong to the wizarding world, to the exclusion of his muggle heritage. At this time, he's only got five made, which is good, but I'm not sure where all of them are right now, which is not so good," Hermione said thoughtfully.
"Only five Horcruxes?" Sirius said faintly, a horrified look on his face. "Do you even know what kind of magic we're talking about? This is the most foul sort of magic possible."
"Yes, I'm well aware," Hermione said almost coldly.
"What did he choose to make them out of?" Frank Longbottom asked almost against his better judgment. Hermione frowned slightly.
"You must understand that I have seen all of Voldemort's Horcruxes, and I helped destroy most of them," she said slowly, cautiously. "These aren't a joke, they really do exist."
"What are they?" Benjy Fenwick asked with a frown. Hermione took a deep breath.
"Two of them are Slytherin related, and they were family heirlooms that belonged to the Gaunts. One was a Gaunt ring that had come down through the Peverells," her gaze flicked to James Potter who's eyes widened in surprise. "The other was a locket that came down from Salazar himself."
"You seem to be remarkably acquainted with our bloodlines for a muggleborn," James observed carefully. Hermione shrugged.
"Let us just say that if I had an ancient family heirloom, I would never let it leave my possession. Not even for an elder that I respected greatly. Especially not if I had Peverell blood running through my veins," she observed to the room at large while she looked away from James Potter. He blinked in surprise, and glanced at Sirius.
"What's so unbelievable about a ring and a locket?" Dedalus Diggle asked in confusion. Hermione looked at Moody again. He was one of the only people in the room she really trusted.
"The Gaunt ring held a Peverell family heirloom…," Hermione began to explain, when Dumbledore gasped softly. Her eyes narrowed on him, and she turned back to Moody. "which many people refer to as the Resurrection Stone, or one of the Deathly Hallows."
"Ha! See, Remus, I told you they were real. You owe me a galleon!" Sirius said with a bark of laughter.
"Ridiculous!" Marlene McKinnon was snorting in derision. Remus was nodding in agreement. "Fairy tales for gullible idiots!"
"I would have agreed with you," Hermione said with a bittersweet smile. "If I hadn't seen them with my own eyes."
"Them? You've seen the Deathly Hallows?" Dumbledore asked avidly. Hermione's eyes were cold when she looked at him. Her gaze strayed to his wand, and then back up to his face.
"Yes," she replied.
"What are the other Horcruxes?" Moody asked sharply, not willing to let the meeting go to some sort of rhapsodizing about the bloody Deathly Hallows.
"A cup that belonged to Helga Hufflepuff, a diary that belonged to Tom Riddle as a student at Hogwarts…and the diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw," she muttered the last bit.
"The diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw?" Benjy Fenwick's voice rose in disbelief. "It's been lost for centuries! How did he find it?"
"The Grey Lady is Rowena's daughter," Hermione said quietly, looking at her hands for a moment. "She stole it, and she told Tom Riddle where she'd hidden it. She had no idea what he'd do with the information eventually."
"Do you have any idea where these items currently are?" Moody asked her. She bit her lower lip and frowned in concentration.
"What's the exact date?" She asked curiously.
"February 11, 1979." Moody waited impatiently.
"I think…I think he started hiding them this year," she mused aloud. "I know that the diary ends up with Lucius Malfoy, the Cup ends up in the LeStrange Vault at Gringott's, the ring is hidden at the old Gaunt place, and the necklace is hidden in a secret cave. I know the necklace is hidden very soon."
"How do you know that?" Marlene McKinnon asked curiously. Hermione took a deep breath, and looked at her feet.
"Because information came to us, irrefutable intelligence, that Regulus Black found out what Voldemort had done—that he'd created at least one horcrux—and gave his life to try and obtain the horcrux and destroy it. The tapestry in the parlor records his death date as 1979. I can only assume it was after he graduated Hogwarts that he would attempt to find the locket and destroy it," Hermione said softly. She didn't look near the Marauders.
"He was successful?" Moody demanded. Hermione shook her head.
"The locket was hidden, in a basin with a potion that was on an island in the cave, surrounded by a lake. He ordered Kreacher to force feed him the potion, and once they got the locket, he tried to drink from the lake…," she trailed off, her voice strained.
"How did my brother die?" Sirius's asked in a choked voice. She looked up at him, to see his face deathly pale. He was obviously holding himself under rigid control that was rapidly crumbling.
"Inferi," she whispered. Sirius closed his eyes. "Regulus had ordered Kreacher to return home, and the order saved Kreacher's life. He was forced to return with the locket, but Regulus' death deeply affected him. Regulus had also forbidden Kreacher to ever speak of it to anyone in the family. Sirius never knew what really happened. He thought that Regulus tried to quit, and was killed by fellow Death Eaters."
"Why wouldn't you tell me this? Obviously you knew me well enough—you're friends with my bloody godson." Sirius demanded, his eyes blazing. Hermione's eyes were grief-stricken.
"We didn't know…until after," she whispered brokenly. Sirius stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him. Hermione flinched as though she'd been struck. The Marauders, and Lily, trailed after him.
"Not your fault, girl," Moody said gruffly and patted her awkwardly on the shoulder.
"Thank you, sir, but that doesn't help much," she muttered. He nodded.
"No, it doesn't," Moody agreed with a slightly sad air. "I think we've gotten enough information tonight. If the Longbottoms are willing to put you up, that's all for the better. You do have a wand, yes?"
Hermione held up her hand, flicked her wrist, and her wand slid out of her arm holster. Moody blinked in surprise and then nodded in grudging approval.
"Constant vigilance," she said with a cheeky grin. Frank Longbottom rolled his eyes behind Moody.
"Please don't encourage him," Frank muttered. Hermione shrugged.
"So…side-along?" Hermione asked.
"Well, I was going to floo," Frank said in surprise. Hermione stared at him.
"You do know the Ministry's probably monitoring the floo systems, right?" She asked him as politely as she could. Frank groaned. His wife, Alice, walked over and slid an arm around his waist.
"What's wrong, love?" She asked him. He glared at her.
"I've figured out who Hermione's soul mate is," Frank sighed dramatically. He was loud enough that several people heard him.
"What's that Longbottom?" Benjy walked over, curiosity on his face.
"She keeps preaching about constant vigilance, and she's just told me we can't floo because the Ministry might be monitoring," Frank told his friend. The people close enough to hear hid smiles. A couple snickered.
"Listen," Hermione said, tossing her curls over her shoulder. "Mad-Eye has a lot of good ideas. He certainly lived longer than any of….um….quite a few people. He's right to be paranoid. They are watching."
"Mad-Eye?" Fabian and Gideon had come up behind her.
"Well, I guess he isn't…yet," she said with a sheepish grin and a shrug. "The entire time I've known him he has been…it's hard to remember that he isn't to you lot."
"Are there any other odd nicknames we should know about?" Fabian asked curiously. "Maybe Pegleg Gideon? Or Half-hand Fabian?"
"No," Hermione got out through her giggles. She noticed the Marauders standing in a subdued group in the corner, and sighed sadly. It wasn't her place to reveal any of their secrets that she didn't need to. "No."
"Come along then, Hermione. We'll need to introduce you to Mother," Frank said with a long-suffering sigh. Alice rolled her eyes.
"Brilliant," Hermione said cheerfully, not noticing the strange looks. "I wonder if she'd be up for a cuppa. Maybe tomorrow she'd duel with me. If she's not too busy, of course."
"You are the strangest girl," Frank said slowly, shaking his head.
"What?" Hermione asked in surprise. "She's a busy woman, she might not have time for some random time-travelling girl who wants to duel with her. I mean, she doesn't remember me, or any of Nev—er, um, never mind. Let's go!"