This is another one of those crazy ideas that just recently came upon me. I can only hope you are up for a different kind of adventure in the magical world created by Ms. Rowling... A quick clarification: what you are about to read could be described as characters' journeys in self-discovery, not so much as an adventure full of dueling and fighting. And of course, knowing myself, I can tell you now that it will become a love story, eventually...
One last note... I am, obviously, not from the wonderful land of England. Therefore I have no idea about the distance between one geographic location to another. Although I have always tried to stay close to reality in my stories, I know I am making some serious assumptions here. As you will soon realize, the locations mentioned in this story are all "magically" close to each other. But hey, after all, it's fiction, fanfiction, about a magical world... So... I hope my modification to the map of Magical England won't bother you too much.
All characters belong to the brilliant J. K. Rowling.
The Past, The Future, and The Present
Chapter One - Spinner's End
Hermione Granger sat nervously on the edge of the back seat in a taxi cab. As she had instructed, the taxi driver kept a careful distance from the cab in front of them, while following it into a small and quiet neighborhood.
The neighborhood was filled with heavy smog that was tinted with a light shade of brown, casting a depressing sensation over the modest-looking brick buildings along the street. The dirty street that they had been on for a little while slowly began to make Hermione's stomach churn. She took note of the trash littered along the sidewalk, and the graffiti painted on the walls outside a neighborhood store. It was just as they passed a dirty river when Hermione noticed the cab in the distance began to slow down. Could this be the destination of their journey?
"Excuse me Sir, do you know where we are?" she asked in a small voice.
"Oh yes Miss, as a matter of fact, I do!" the middle-aged man in the driver seat answered politely, "They call this place Spinner's End, an old neighborhood that used to house textile factory workers. Quite a nasty neighborhood if you ask me..."
Hermione frowned at the information. She had never heard of such a place from Harry. Why was his aunt taking him here? Could this have anything to do with what she had done the night before?
Fear rose inside of her. For the first time since yesterday, Hermione realized she might have made a terrible mistake. Perhaps, there was indeed another rule about using the time turner; perhaps, seeing her own self while traveling to the past was not as bad as meddling with time!
... Twenty-four Hours Ago
Hermione was sitting in a hanging chair under an apple tree in the backyard at her parents' house, enjoying another warm afternoon of the summer holiday. It was still early in the day, and her parents had not yet returned from their dentistry practice.
Since she discovered she was a witch five years ago, Hermione could feel the distance slowly grow between her and her parents. They still loved her as their little girl, just like she love them dearly. However, it became painfully apparent to her that they could not comprehend the events that were happening in the wizarding world, the world that she now called her own.
She had tried to explain to them the return of Lord Voldemort last summer. However, other than thinking the dark wizard as some sort of a gangster, her parents only advised that she stick with her study and stay focused. She thought about explaining to them about the war, but held her tongue thinking it would only worry them.
When she returned from Hogwarts this year, she didn't even mention the battle at Ministry of Magic. She knew by telling them about it, she would simply give her dad a heart attack, and send her mum into hysteria. To make everything worse, if she shared the detail of the events with them, she was sure that they would never let her return to the wizarding world again. Her parents would do anything to keep their little girl away from harm, just like any good parents would.
As she sat in her mother's garden she thought about the past few months, remembering the terrible night at the Ministry, the death of Sirius Black, and the sadness on Harry's face when they were on their way home on Hogwarts Express.
Could there be a better way to get rid of Voldemort? She thought to herself. Subconsciously, her hand slowly reached up to the time turner dangling on a golden chain on her neck. This was a question she had been pondering for days.
To the contrary of what Harry and Ron had thought, Hermione never returned her time turner after their third year. She didn't use it again to take more classes; but since Professor McGonagall never asked for her to give it back, Hermione "conveniently" forgot about it too. The thought of why no wizards had used the time turner to go back in time and fix the problems before they could start had always intrigued her. Most recently, Hermione began to wonder just why no one came up with the idea to go back in time and destroy the Dark Lord before he could come into power.
Perhaps no one would volunteer for such a dangerous task? She first wondered. But after recalling the Order members' bravery fighting the Death Eaters, she seriously doubted that was the reason. Could it be because if someone had gone back into time, they would not be able to return? She frowned as she continued to explore the possibilities in her head. It would indeed become a terrible sacrifice if one was to go back in time and then get stuck in the past.
She had read the instruction manual for the time turner front to back many times when she first received it from Professor McGonagall. She knew the time turner could not bring one forward in time. But the manual never said that after one was sent backwards, the wizard or the witch could not fast forward the time turner to return to the present.
It had always been Hermione's complaint when someone purposely omitted certain information in instruction manuals. And this seemed just like one of those cases. As she always did when she encountered a problem, Hermione set out and performed some experiments, determined to find the answer to her hypothesis.
She started out by turning the time turner one hour back. Instead of reliving that one hour, she turned the locket towards the opposite direction to see if the "fast forward" function existed. To her pleasant surprise, it worked. But Hermione was always careful with her research. So she tried a few more times. One time she sent herself back a week and returned to the present day within a minute.
Now that Hermione tested the functionality of the time turner, she was even further confused. If a time turner allowed one to go back in time and return to the present, why didn't anyone think of using it? Could it really be possible that she was the first one who ever thought of this? Or... Unless... there was some other limitations of the magical gadget.
Hermione looked down at her wrist watch. Her parents wouldn't be home for another couple of hours. Drawing a deep breath, she decided to try something else... and see if she had guessed it right about the limitation of the time turner.
Pulling it out from under her T-shirt she carefully held the time turner in her hand. She pulled the knob out to the farthest it could go, so that each turn would not be for an hour, but for an entire month. As she turned the golden knob she counted quietly. And finally, a smile spread across her face. She was right, there was a limit as how far the time turner could go. If her count was correct, she should be heading towards exactly fourteen years into the past.
Letting go of the golden knob, Hermione waited. There was only one way to find the answer of an experiment: experience it yourself.
When the world around her stopped spinning, Hermione found herself standing in the middle of a patch of tall grass.
"Hey! What are you doing in my yard? Get out!" An unfriendly voice from the second floor window startled Hermione.
Hermione looked up quickly and saw the face of a grumpy old man. He looked at her irritably and tried to wave her away with his bony hands.
Sticking her tongue out briefly, she murmured a quick "sorry" before running out of the yard. Silently she was cursing herself for not remembering, that her parents only moved to this place about ten years ago. She had completely overlooked the possibility of her trespassing as she sent herself so far back into the past.
Standing in the street corner outside the house that would become her home in four more years, Hermione thought about her options. She could simply fast forward the time turner and go home. But what a waste of magic if she did that! After all, it was not like she would be sending herself so far back into the past every other day. She quickly concluded that she should at least do a little bit of sightseeing. It might just be pure fun to see her best friends in their adorable little toddler outfits.
She had no idea how to get to Ron's house without using Magic. She was still under age by the Ministry's standard, although she looked quite a bit older thanks to her frequent usage of the time turner in her third year and during her other experimental trips into the past. Without aparation, she could only think of taking the typical muggle transportation. She was thankful for the little muggle money she had in her jeans pocket. Waving down a cab, she was soon on her way to the neighborhood of Little Whinging.
It didn't take her long to find Number Four Privet Drive. Harry's aunt and uncle had a habit of keeping their front yard perfectly neat. They had the greenest grass and the most organized flowerbed in the neighborhood. It was a nice looking house.
Hermione always knew that Harry didn't like to be back to his aunt and uncle's place. Since he never gave her a lot of the specific reasons, Hermione could only guess that they didn't get along very well. Could it be some teenage boy issues with grownups? She wasn't sure. But she was sure that a little boy that was barely two-years-old would get plenty of affection from his relatives.
Walking quietly in front of Number Four Privet Drive, Hermione casually looked towards the window. She quickly spotted a young woman standing by the window, who she presumed to be Harry's Aunt Petunia. The young woman was carrying a large blond boy in her arms. From the look of the boy's face, he had to be just about two or three. Looking at the boy's size however, Hermione frowned. She had babysat a couple of small children living in her parents' neighborhood in the past couple of summer holidays. None of them looked so huge when they turned two or three.
To Hermione's delight she found a small raised flowerbed right across the street from Number Four Privet Drive. Quietly she sat down, pretending to be taking a rest after a long walk. When she looked up and saw Harry's aunt casting a curious look towards her. Quickly Hermione looked away as if enjoying the view of the neighborhood.
Harry's aunt soon lost her interest in the teenage girl sitting in the street, and went on about her business. Hermione frowned again after a while, failing to see any evidence of the existence of Harry. Could she have counted the years wrong? If this was fourteen years ago, Harry should have been living with his aunt and uncle for almost a year. Where could a little two-year-old be?
By the time when a car pulled up to the driveway of Number Four Privet Drive, Hermione found herself hiding behind the bushes next to the house. She could hear Harry's uncle greeted his wife and his son cheerfully. Her frown deepened when she still could not spot a single glance or hear a single mention of Harry.
When Hermione still couldn't hear or see anything after dinner, she was about to give up and take her journey back to the future. Suddenly, she heard a cry coming out from inside the house. It was certainly not the unusually big boy, as he was still making a huge mess with an ice-cream cone at the dinner table.
"Shut up!" Harry's uncle bellowed towards another corner of the house.
Hermione's heart skipped a beat. Was it Harry that the man was addressing?
It didn't take long before the Dursleys went back to their business and eventually retired to their bedrooms upstairs. Throughout the entire evening, not once did another boy appear in the living room or dining room as far as Hermione could see. Feeling the curiosity consuming her, Hermione waited until the last light was out before quietly pushed open the backdoor leading to the kitchen and tiptoed into the house.
As she walked by the staircase, Hermione suddenly heard a little whimpering sound coming from the cupboard. What was that? A sick puppy? She couldn't tell. Quietly she opened the cupboard door and was shocked by what was in front of her.
In the deem light from the streetlamp, she could see a large cardboard box inside the cupboard. Inside the box, among a worn-out blanket, was a small boy with messy black hair. He was sitting in the corner of the box holding the blanket tight in his arms. Tear stains ran through his abnormally red cheeks. His bright green eyes looked almost haunted because of the dark circles underneath them. Seeing Hermione in front of him, the little boy gave out another whimper, "milky? wawa? Harry want mama."
Hermione drew a sharp breath to keep herself from crying out. "Oh Harry!" She reached over and the boy quickly climbed into her arms. It was obvious that he had not been held for a long time.
Looking around the cupboard Hermione saw two empty cups and a piece of half-eaten toast. "Are you hungry?" She asked quietly.
"Wawa... Harry thirsty." The boy in her arms answered in a timid little voice.
Trying her best not to make any noise Hermione found a cup in the kitchen. Harry sat quietly in her arms while watching her getting the water ready. When she finally handed the cup to him the boy drank it greedily. Frowning at the boy's bright read cheek, Hermione touch his forehead briefly, only to find herself letting out a small gasp.
"You are running a fever Harry!" Her whisper almost sounded too loud.
When Harry finished his water she didn't know what to do. Hermione held the boy in her arms for a long time until she thought he had fallen asleep. She wanted to comfort him and hold him longer. But she also knew she would be in very deep trouble if she was discovered.
Taking a few deep breaths she finally made up her mind, and walked back to the cupboard where she first found the little boy. Gently she put the boy down on top of the blanket, hoping he would stay asleep.
But Harry immediately looked up at her as she lowered him down. He reached out for her again with his little arms and he began to cry, "Huggy... huggy... mommy!"
"No," Hermione could feel tears burning in her eyes, "I'm not your mommy. I'm so sorry Harry. Please don't cry. I have to go!"
But the boy continued to cry as Hermione put him down into the box. Her eyes widened in fear when she suddenly heard footsteps coming down from upstairs. Quickly she closed the cupboard door and hid in the dark hallway.
"I swear Petunia! The little freak is going to kill me one of these days. He can stay quiet during the day but not at night? What's his problem? Doesn't he know that I have to work in the morning!"
The scurrying footsteps turned out to belong to Aunt Petunia. She was obviously very irritated that her nephew's cry had woken up the entire house in the middle of the night. She opened the cupboard door quickly and turned on the light. The sudden brightness surprised Harry and briefly stopped his cry.
"What do you want!" Petunia Dursley spat coldly. "Go to sleep!"
Before she could finish the last word, a new cry reached her ears from upstairs. "Oh Dudders!" She yelped, before slamming the cupboard door and running upstairs.
The slamming of the cupboard door obviously frightened the little boy inside. Hermione soon heard Harry begin to cry again. However, the two boys' echoing cries were soon swamped by a bellowing shout coming out of an upstairs bedroom.
"I've had enough! Petunia! I need him gone! Send him back where he came from! You choose, either him, or Dudder and me!"
Hermione could hear Petunia's whispering words. She was first speaking rather quietly, but eventually she also raised her voice, "Oh believe me! I've had enough of this too! Don't worry Dudders. I will take care of that little freak in the morning! He'll be gone by the time daddy comes home tomorrow night. I promise!"
Terrified at what she had heard, Hermione didn't dare to leave until she could find out what Petunia meant by "taking care of that little freak". For the rest of the night she hid behind the bushes, couldn't stop worrying about the consequences of her visit.
Petunia was up bright and early. Hermione was surprised to see Harry in the living-room with his cousin, and was further surprised as Harry's aunt began to dress him in some apparently new clothes.
After dressing the two boys, Petunia picked up her son and asked Harry to follow her. Hermione followed them as they came to a neighbor's house. Petunia exchanged a few words with an old woman before handing the blond boy over. It took at least ten minutes before Petunia and the old woman could calm the blond boy down from his tantrum. Pressing her lips tight, Petunia took Harry's hand and called a cab.
And that was the beginning of Hermione's journey to the neighborhood called Spinner's End.
"Miss, are you sure you want to get off here? Do you want me to wait for you?" The taxi driver's question pulled Hermione back from her thoughts.
Looking ahead, Hermione saw Petunia talking to her cab driver as well, apparently asking him to wait. "Yes please," Hermione paid the driver and answered quickly, "Hopefully this is just a quick stop. I may need your help when she decides to leave."
Quietly Hermione walked along the dusty brick buildings and soon caught up with Petunia and Harry. The brown smog gave her a good cover. Petunia was completely not aware of being followed.
Petunia stopped in front of a small house at the end of the road and began knocking on the door impatiently. When the door finally opened, a tall man with shoulder-long black hair dressed in a black coat appeared in the door way.
Hermione covered her mouth quickly to muffle her surprised gasp. Age didn't change him much, at least not from a distance. Apparently, Severus Snape had always looked the same!
"Petunia Evans..." Hermione could hear the surprise in Snape's cold voice. "What are you doing here?"
"You! And all of you lot!" It was obvious that Petunia had prepared her harsh statement way ahead of time, "You need to take responsibility for this. We've had enough! We've never asked for a boy to be dropped off at the front door of our house. We have no interest in raising him. He is a freak like you and he belongs with people like you. I have no way of finding Dumbledore or anyone else. But I know where to find you! Severus Snape! This is entirely your fault! If you didn't get Lily all excited about those stupid magic tricks, if you didn't encourage her to go to that freak school with you, if she didn't meet that loser husband of hers from school, none of this would have happened. This kid should have never been pushed into our lives!"
Without waiting for a response Petunia shoved the little boy into the arms of a dumbfounded Severus Snape, before turning on her heels and began to run.
It took a couple seconds for Snape to register what had just happened. He gave the boy a quick stare and began to go after Petunia. "But... Wait!"
"He is your problem. Not mine!" Petunia screamed before she hopped into the cab waiting by the curb side. The car breaks screeched as the driver stepped on the gas driving away, leaving the wizard in black standing alone in the middle of the street.
Still hiding in a small alley way next to Snape's house, Hermione watched as Snape walked past her with Harry still in his arms. She couldn't hear what he was grunting as he walked up the steps leading to his front door. But as he turned and looked back towards the street before getting inside, Hermione could have sworn she saw fear in the man's dark eyes, as if that was even remotely possible...
The first chapter is a little longer than my liking. But I thought there was a premise that must be set. Having a twenty-some-year-old Snape dealing with a two-year-old Harry is going to be interesting to watch. That is the least I can promise for our next chapter.
I hope to hear from you. Thanks for reading!