Written for Looneylunafan at the 2012 HP_porninthesun exchange. She requested a Tudor-era fic. That's what she got. ;) I played fast and loose with some characters in history (Marlowe, Kyd), but not too much. The Christmas in July theme is deliberate, as the crime described in the beginning is based on actual fact. Credit goes to Bo Burnham for If Shakespeare Wrote Porn - Fred's sonnet, and a line of dialogue from Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Massive thanks to my betas, D J M, who kept me out of historical and grammatical trouble. Any remaining mistakes are my own. Disclaimer: All Harry Potter characters and canon Potter Verse belong to JK Rowling and associates. I am in no way affiliated with Warner Brothers JK Rowling or Scholastic. I do not make any money from the publishing or writing of this story or creation of artwork.
Hermione Granger regretted the Muggle Studies field trip the moment she and the class stepped into the Muggle London Science Museum.
The Slytherins—what few had deigned to come on the trip—were predictable in their snide comments concerning the futility of the contraptions on display. The Gryffindors were huddled together, discussing how to make various items come alive and scare the Muggles that were visiting that day. The Ravenclaws all had their noses practically pressed against the glass, studying each object and its usefulness, and taking notes, of course. The Hufflepuffs just loitered and looked unsure of everything.
"Class, your attention, please." She wished she could cast a Sonorus Charm, but that might shatter some of the more delicate things on display. "We'll be making our way to the Fifth Floor, where some of John Dee's artefacts are being exhibited."
"I thought you didn't believe in Divination, Professor Granger?"
Hermione internally bemoaned the fact that Susan Kinard was in her Muggle Studies class, as were most Third Year students. She had heard rumours before the girl was even sorted that she would put Hermione's pedantic nature to shame. And the rumours were true. Sorted into Ravenclaw, Susan was sharp, blunt-speaking and had a terrible habit of trying to correct her professors… during the lesson. "I never said I didn't believe in it, Miss Kinard. I just happen to think that one should pursue other academic interests—ones that are grounded in fact and sound theory, not the dregs at the bottom of your tea cup."
Most of the students sniggered, for Trelawney was still teaching Divination at Hogwarts, and subjected them all to daily bouts of doom-mongering.
Susan gave Hermione a sly look. "Then why are we going to look at the John Dee exhibit? Wouldn't it be more prudent to study—"
"Miss Kinard. This is the fourth time this week I've had to remind you that iI/i am the teacher here, and you are the student. If I need to remind you again, you will need to explain to your parents why you are staying at Hogwarts over the Christmas holiday. Do we understand each other?"
The teen-aged witch narrowed her eyes and nodded. Hermione noted that this pure-blood distant cousin of the Malfoys did not look one bit remorseful, and she would bet ten Galleons that the girl would just try the tactic on her Head of House, who seemed fond of her.
"It just so happens that John Dee is considered to be one of the founding fathers of Arithmancy. That is why we're studying his methods. Now, if there are no more questions, we can proceed to the Fifth floor."
It was a monumental task getting the twenty students to said floor, but once there, their attention was captured by the artefacts sheltered behind thick safety glass and the monotonous drone of the Muggle museum guide.
The group stopped in front of an object on a pedestal: a round reflective disk nestled in a compact case. The guide pointed to it.
"Stored in a sharkskin case and thought to have once belonged to John Dee, this object is known as a Claude glass. Associated with Claude Lorrain, a French landscape painter, the base is made from a convex piece of glass with a black backing. They were normally used by artists to look at landscapes. Dee is said to have used this object to predict the future by looking into the glass as if it were a crystal ball. This practice is known as scrying, a form of divination. Divination is the attempt to predict the future from signs and symbols and has been used for thousands of years in an effort to forecast the course of an illness, or find the best treatment."
Predictably, Susan's hand shot up. Hermione sent her a stern glare and shook her head. The girl actually sneered at her! Hermione was about to utter another reprimand when she noticed a man at the back of the group, sporting a long coat akin to a wizarding cloak. He looked very out of place, with odd eyes and a weathered face. He peered at her intently, as if he knew her. Then he gave her a snide look and moved away towards another artefact.
Hermione, disconcerted, followed his movements with her eyes, forgetting her students. The shabby man stopped before John Dee's crystal ball, studying it while rubbing his grizzled chin. The next instant, with an abrupt motion, the man smashed through the glass case, snatched the crystal ball and took off for the stairs.
Pandemonium broke out. Shouts and screams of panic sent the guides and all the museum workers after the thief. Hermione was torn between helping to apprehend the burglar and seeing to the safety of her students, but her responsibility as a Hogwarts professor won out in the end, and she handed each child a Muggle British £2 coin.
"On my mark, you will press the figurehead of Queen Elizabeth II, and we'll be transported back to the gates of Hogwarts." She looked around to determine if there were any Muggles left in the area, congratulating herself for her foresight regarding a situation just like this. Seeing no one, she counted backwards from three...
"I want a two-foot parchment on why the reign of Elizabeth I was considered the Golden Age and her possible reasoning for adopting the mottos Video Et Taceo and Semper Eadem, by your return from Christmas break."
A chorus of groans issued from the seated students. Today marked the end of the autumn term, of which Hermione was heartily glad, particularly after the dramatic incident at the museum the day before. She had tried to hide how disheartened she felt at her students' lack of interest—they only wanted to talk about the theft, not the era or the items in the exhibit—but knew she had failed miserably.
The school bell tolled, letting everyone know that the lesson was over, and it was like a mass desertion, so quickly did everyone leave her classroom. Sitting on the edge of her desk, Hermione sighed and crossed her arms, studying the room while she thought of possible ways to make the lessons less boring and more involved, so that her students could really grasp Muggle history. That they were currently studying her favourite era was a plus, but her hopes of reaching their young minds and instilling a love of learning were dwindling fast.
Chewing on her thumbnail, she tried to think of any re-enactment charms that Flitwick might have, or any potions Draco Malfoy could brew that would allow the class to experience life during the Tudor dynasty. Having both been teaching for well over three years, she and Draco had reached an amicable, if occasionally irascible, relationship as professors. If any of her students got out of hand or required punishment, she would threaten to send them to Draco—who loved to inflict torture upon her poor Gryffindors—so it was rare that they crossed the line and tested her patience. Except, of course, Susan Kinard.
Resolving to find a way to spice up her teaching, for even she had to admit that her methods left much to be desired, Hermione went about closing up her classroom for the holiday break. When she arrived in her chambers, there was a Times newspaper on her side table, dated December 9th, 2004. The main article described, in great detail, the theft of John Dee's 'shew stone', or crystal ball. A smaller boxed section below contained a transcription of notes by Nicholas Culpeper, a 17th century pharmacist, about how the glass might be used. Culpeper's notes had been found scribbled on the reverse of an ancient deed manuscript.
Hermione didn't have time to think about why she had received that particular copy of The Times, as she had never subscribed to their paper. Since she was Flooing home to London in just a few hours, she filed it away, intending to examine it more closely once the rush of the holidays was over.
"It's almost Christmas, mate," George cajoled, worry evident in his voice. "Let me find you a bird to spend the hols with."
Fred placed a box of Extendable Ears on the shelf above him. "Bugger off," he groused. "I told you, I'm just not in the mood this year."
"That's what you said last year. And the year before that. Oh, and don't forget, you said that in 2000 as well."
"I didn't in 2001, now, did I?" Fred reminded his twin as he made his way down off the ladder.
"Only because Alice Weathersby turned out to be a bloody good shag." George shook his head. "Too bad she turned into a right stalker. Who knew she had a thing for war heroes?"
"Is she still in St Mungo's?"
George nodded and handed him another box to shelve. "Right in there with Lockhart. Last I heard, she'd become fixated on him and was offering to polish his knob, not that he knew who she was or that he even had a knob."
A rueful smirk played across Fred's face. "Then I'm better off, aren't I?"
"Come on," George whinged. "I can't stay here in London this year and I'd feel loads better if—"
"Nobody asked you to stay, did they?"
"Well, no, but—"
"Then go!" Fred stomped off towards the storeroom in the back of their shop. "I know Angelina and the kids have wanted to see the U. S. of A, and this doubles as a business trip." He looked over his shoulder at George before disappearing amongst the endless supply of their wares. "Someone has to mind the shop."
George stared at the spot where his brother had disappeared and sighed. "Someone's got to mind you, mate."
Deciding that another heated argument, as in years prior, would not rouse Fred Weasley from his apathetic funk, George made his way to the entrance of the store. Opening the door, he exited and ran right into Hermione Granger.
"I'm so sorry, George!" She'd known it was him by the misshapen ear, of course.
He grinned at her as she brushed snow from his chest and shoulders, even as her hair was being continuously covered with snowflakes from the wintry weather. "No harm, no foul, Granger." He stepped back to let her into the shop. "What brings you by after closing time?"
Her eyes widened. "Oh, no! I forgot about your hours. I'm still on Hogwarts time, and the days tend to run together when I'm teaching, and—"
She was effectively silenced by George pinching her lips together with his forefinger and thumb. "Love to stay and have a natter, but I'm late." He released her mouth and nodded towards the back storeroom. "Fred's here, though he's in a bit of a snit."
"Don't have time to say, but be a love and spend the hols with him, would you?" Without waiting on her answer, he stepped out into the blowing snow and Apparated away.
"Figures," Hermione muttered and unwound her Gryffindor scarf. Laying her coat, scarf, mittens, and wellies behind the cash counter, she walked through the rows of products.
"I said, sod off!" roared a voice off to her left.
"Is this how you treat all your customers?" Hermione asked as she poked her head around a display of Punching Telescopes. Having once been on the receiving end of that particular product, she tried to steer well clear of them.
An audible groan issued from somewhere behind her. "Sorry about that."
She looked in all possible directions before she spotted the familiar red hair between spaces in the shelving. "Fred? Are you all right?"
The head moved to the left and came around to stand in front of her. "Never better," he said with a forced smile.
For the most part, as it had always been, Fred and George were inseparable... until George married Angelina Johnson, Fred's one-time girlfriend. Things had become a bit strained after that, though the twins still did a great deal together in addition to running the shop. But Fred never seemed to want to date much.
Hermione suspected it was because of the thin, longish scar that marred his handsome visage. It ran the length of the right side of his face, from eyebrow to just below the apple of his cheek. Towards the end of the final battle, while defending Hogwart's passageways with Percy, Fred had been hit by flying debris when an explosion from a curse struck and killed his older brother. Buried under the rubble, Percy's injuries had been too severe to survive while Fred's, though not life-threatening, were debilitating and had caused permanent scarring that couldn't be magically healed.
Those who formerly couldn't tell the twins apart surely could do so now—with George's missing ear and Fred's scar, they were easily distinguishable. But Hermione had known the difference several years beforehand. Fred tended to be a tad crueller than George, though he never resorted to anything blatantly sinister. He was also the more arrogant of the twins, and gave credence to the Gryffindor reputation for daring, nerve and recklessness. There was also a dimple on his left cheek when he smiled lopsidedly, which was reportedly rare these days. Not that she'd been around much to notice, but she was kept informed by Ginny Potter on the infrequent occasions she left the Hogwarts grounds.
To be honest, Hermione knew she was no better when it came to the dating scene. She'd dated Ron for a while, but quickly realised that one-sided conversations about the alternation of masculine and feminine rhymes in classical French poetry did nothing to stimulate her intellect, and so she had ended things on a somewhat awkward note. Of course, they remained friends, and after several months of not seeing one another, they'd returned to the relationship they'd shared back in their early Hogwarts days—best friends who looked out for each other.
After that, she had become involved in her studies, to the point that she had forgotten what the opposite sex looked like. After leaving university, she had immediately obtained a position at Hogwarts teaching Muggle Studies. Headmistress McGonagall had pleaded that they hadn't been able to find a competent professor for the subject since the Charity Burbage tragedy. Given the opportunity to challenge ideals and long-ingrained prejudices, Hermione had accepted the position without really thinking about what it entailed.
Her first year had been a disaster and she was sure she would have been let go, but McGonagall had insisted that she stay at least another year to find her footing. She did, albeit reluctantly, and had found that her former Head of House had been right: find your niche and excel. Now she had all manner of students in her class, and she had broken down and cried during the Sorting ceremony when, two years ago, the first Muggle-born boy had been sorted into Slytherin.
All their sacrifices had not been in vain.
This brought her back to the man standing before her. Though he smiled, Hermione could tell that he would rather have been somewhere else. She decided to take pity on him. "You're a horrible liar, you know." She wouldn't take that much pity on him.
A genuine smile graced his lips. "Ah, then I must not be trying hard enough."
"Don't try too hard, wouldn't want you to grow too comfortable with the absurd notion that you're doing well."
He frowned and leaned close. "Did my brother send you here?"
She never realised how many freckles Fred had across the bridge of his nose. "Why would your brother send me here?"
"To console me, to chat me up, to spend the hols with poor, depressed Fred."
"How do you know that it wasn't me he was trying to set up, hmm?" Though she hated it, it was hardly a secret that she hadn't been in a relationship in almost three years. "Maybe he thought you'd give poor Granger a pity shag."
Eyes suddenly gleaming at the thought, Fred laid his warm cheek against hers, still cool from the wintry chill. "Is that what you want, Granger? A little bit of slap and tickle?"
She stepped back and almost slapped him. Gritting her teeth, she crossed her arms to keep from doing so. "If I decide to indulge myself, it would be because that person actually cared for me, and not for some quick, meaningless rut against the wall."
Fred waggled his eyebrows. "You don't know what you're missing." He turned away and walked towards a set of double doors in the back of the shop.
Oh, that man! She gave in to the urge to stamp her foot. Still fuming, she shouted, "Wait! I actually need to buy something!"
He stopped and waited for her to catch up to him. "Late Christmas shopping? Only fourteen more days, Granger. And here I thought you would've already had everything wrapped and under the tree."
"Normally I would... and I have. I think." She couldn't remember if she had bought Ron the blue jumper or the dragon-hide Qudditch gloves. "This is for school."
"Doesn't that brain of yours ever shut off?" Fred complained good-naturedly as he opened the door to the storeroom and experimentation centre. "I think someday, it will become too large for you to carry on your delicate shoulders, and it will roll off your neck and down the alley."
"That's a cheerful image, thank you very much."
"Just trying to be helpful." He turned and gave her a small bow from the waist. "So, what can Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes do for you?"
She tilted her head and studied him. "You're very mercurial."
"You don't know the half of it," he said, winking at her. "George isn't nearly so moody. It's why I let him do the negotiating. Though I still say we would have more suppliers if I was allowed to persuade them."
Shaking her head, she laughed lightly. "You're also incorrigible."
"As the day is long." He picked up what she assumed was some new invention—a fearsome contraption that looked like a cross between a toothbrush and a Muggle hand-mixer—and tossed it back and forth in his hands. "So... that item for school that you wanted? Don't tell me you want Skiving Snackboxes or Smart Answer Quills."
"Hardly," she said with a wave of her hand. "No, I want to know if you have anything that could let someone re-enact a moment in the past."
"You mean like a Pensieve?"
"Well, yes, except that requires actual memories from a real person. I haven't got anyone's actual memories I can use for this, since I want to go much further back than a single lifetime."
He frowned heavily. "Why would you want to do that?"
A decidedly fervent gleam crept into her eyes. "I want the students to really get a grip on what the past was like. To see first-hand the decisions that shaped our world, to understand what factors influenced the way we do things in the present. To gain an appreciation for history that they couldn't have if they just read about it."
"To see people die," Fred stated bitterly.
"What?" This brought her up short. "No! I mean, yes, people dying is a part of our history and Muggle history as well, but not that. Not specifically. I just want to observe certain events as they take place."
"You'd have your students witness the worst of humankind to gain an appreciation for the way things are, because you lack certain skills as a teacher?" He arched a brow. "What is it they say? Those who can, do, and those that cannot, teach."
"That was harsh," she muttered, looking away. "I only want them to—"
"Calm down, Granger," Fred interrupted with a slow grin. "I didn't say I didn't like the idea. In fact, I think it's brilliant. Just wondered if you'd really considered the ramifications of such a method."
"I think so," she said hesitantly. His quick changes of mood were making her feel off-balance around him, and his smile did funny things to her stomach. "I've researched several theories, but the paradoxes related to causality issues can't be solved with a Time-Turner."
"Ah, yes." He laid the convoluted invention on a worktable and approached until he was nose to nose with her. "You'd know all about that, wouldn't you? Just how many twists of the turner did you take?"
"A fair few," she murmured. Were his eyes always that soft honey brown? And did he always smell like a forest just after a spring rain? Wait... did he say something? A knowing smirk from him gave her the answer. "I'm sorry, what did you say?"
Chuckling, he stepped back and went to one of the tables that held several cauldrons of steaming potions in an array that Professor Snape would've envied. "I said we're testing something along those lines."
"Oh?" She made her way to stand on the other side, watching him with rapt fascination. "What does it do?"
He looked her up and down. "Don't happen to have any school books with you by chance?"
"Erm, yes," she admitted, embarrassed. Reaching into the pocket of her long brown broom skirt, she withdrew the book that she had been using during the last class and removed the charm that had miniaturised it. "A biography of Elizabeth the First." She placed it on the table in front of him.
"You know her?"
"Not personally, seeing how she's dead and all."
She gave him an exasperated look. "Ha ha." Peeking over the edge of the bubbling caldron in front of him, she could only hold her curiosity—and her tongue—in check for so long. "So, what's this?"
Ladling a healthy amount into a cobalt-blue jar, Fred then stoppered it and handed it to her. "That, dear Granger, is Vivo Historia."
"'Living history'," she said with some awe. "How does it work?"
Taking a siphon bulb, he took off the cork and withdrew a tiny amount. "A dab on any object will show you the history of said object, such as who owned something or handled it recently. The Aurors are dead keen on this for investigations into unsolved crimes."
She frowned. "And how will this help me?"
"You, dear witch, need to learn the art of patience. Turn to a section in your book and place your hand on the page." She complied, and Fred placed his hand atop hers. "If the potion is used on a piece of text or book, that person is able to watch the story unfold. Observe."
He released two drops of the viscous fluid, watching them land on the passage of text Hermione had chosen. The next moment, both were screaming, being pulled this way and that.
When the swirling stopped, Hermione came to a hard landing on top of Fred.
"Oof! Watch it, Granger, those are my bits!"
She groaned and rolled over onto a stone floor, fully prepared to lose her stomach.
"What?" she muttered, ready to tell the redhead exactly what she thought of his little experiment.
"It worked." He sounded extremely worried. "Maybe a little too well."
She turned to Fred and glared. "You mean this is the first time you've actually tested it? Why you—"
"By all the angels in Heaven! What a most auspicious sign!"
Fred and Hermione slowly turned their attention to the elderly gentleman before them, dressed nearly head to toe in black. There was an elaborate, monstrous white ruff around his neck that offset the severe colour, and the man bore an uncanny resemblance to Albus Dumbledore.
"Master John Dee, at your service." The man bowed from the waist.
Hermione's eyes rolled to the back of her head and she fainted dead away.