Chapter 24: The Plot Thickens
"Where've you been?" James hissed when Hermione stumbled into the common room the following morning. She, Sirius and Dumbledore had arrived back at Hogwarts at almost six o'clock that morning and after they'd seen Sirius to the Hospital Wing, Hermione had been dragged to Dumbledore's office and interrogated some more by the headmaster.
It had been an extensive discussion, which was why she'd missed breakfast in the Great Hall and was looking like she would be late for class since it was now quarter to nine.
"With Dumbledore. Sirius will be ok. He's at the Hopstial Wing. When we left you last night we found some trouble. Aurors were called and we've been at the Ministry being interrogated by Mad-Eye Moody. Then Albus wanted to have a lengthy discussion with me." Hermione replied without thinking about how her friends would react to hearing that without having all the facts.
"What?" James demanded while Lily gasped in horror and Peter paled drastically. Remus watched her as well, looking pale and tired after his transformations and being awake all night.
"James I don't really have time for this right now. I need to shower or I'm going to be late for class" Hermione told him.
"Class can wait. What happened? Why is Sirius at the infirmary?" he demanded.
Hermione growled grumpily.
"We ran into some Death Eater's torturing a muggle family last night. We managed to catch them all, while the Order of the Pheonix was still on their way. But Sirius rushed into a room to stop a man torturing a little girl and he got hit with a curse called Cicatrix Aperiens, which re-opened every wound or scars he's ever had. Since it re-opened all the wounds from when he saved me, he almost bled to death but Albus got there in time to seal him back up and he's been guzzling Blood Replenishment potions. Madame Pomfrey said he has to stay in the Hospital Wing today, but he should be fine by tomorrow."
"You two ran off and fought Death Eaters last night?" Lily whispered, sounding horrified and intrigued.
"It was more like we snuck up on them, but yes. We managed to stun them all and bind them so they couldn't escape before they really even had a clue that we were there. Then Albus and the Order showed up and everything was brought back under control. We had to admit to Dumbledore and Moody that we're both Animagi but since it might be useful for the Order of the Pheonix later, we're staying unregistered for now. We were interrogated to make sure we weren't in league with the Death Eaters but everything is taken care of now and those Death Eaters will never be released from Azkaban since they all committed Unforgivables."
"Merlin" James breathed, dropping into an armchair as though staying on his feet was too much after learning all of this.
"Everything's going to be fine, but we need to get to class. Sirius and I got back here around six this morning, but Albus wanted to talk with me and I've been in his office since. He's not overly pleased with me, as you can imagine." Hermione said, making sure to keep her secret about being from the future covered since she didn't need her other friends beside Sirius to ever know that she was from the future and certainly didn't need to try explaining to them that if she couldn't fix things here James and Lily were going to marry and have a son that Peter was going to sell out to Voldemort and Sirius was going to rot in Azkaban, wrongly accused of the murder of three of the people who meant more to him than anything else in the world, leaving Remus alone and at the mercy of the Wizarding world that was, as she sat there, drafting a legislator demanding the registration of werewolves.
"I'm going to run upstairs and shower. Don't wait for me, I'll see you all in class I promise" Hermione told them all before dashing up the stairs, stripping out of her heavy jacket and jumper as she went.
She felt mentally exhausted, not just from lack of sleep or from the trauma of seeing children tortured and almost murdered. Hermione sighed as she stepped under the warm spray of the shower, letting it soak into her body, slowly unravelling the tension in her neck and shoulders. She knew she needed to hurry, but in spite of that Hermione found herself taking a few moments to just be.
It had been a long night to be sure, but it was the stress of this morning that had made Hermione feel even more worn out than she thought physically possible. Her discussions with Dumbledore had been extensive. She'd decided the best option would be to make sure Dumbledore knew absolutely everything and since she had what was practically a photographic memory, Hermione had been able to provide an extensive list of names to the headmaster. Essentially Hermione had given him a rundown of everything she had known of the future, the people who had died, how and why they had done so. Everything that she had researched about the first war had come flooding back to her and she'd made sure Dumbledore knew all of it.
Because of what she and Sirius had achieved last night the Beech family was going to survive and had been taken into protective custody by the Ministry. It seemed that the Beech's -though both muggles- had produced two magical children. They'd been targeted as being mudbloods, and the Death Eaters had been demanding answers about how it was that they'd stolen magic from wizards and forced it into their own 'filthy-blooded children'.
As a result the five Death Eaters that had been captured would be taken to Azkaban never to be released. They would never have the chance to commit more evil and the Beech family would survive. Between them, Hermione and Dumbledore had managed to put together a list of names and dates regarding people who were supposed to be attacked and Hermione had suggested that perhaps the best approach would be to notify the families that would be targeted and discuss tactics to ensure that Death Eaters could continue to be caught. Is was something of a dilemma since the safest option was to have Order members masquerade as the targets.
Hermione didn't like the idea of sending Order members disguised with Polyjuice potion to be on the receiving end of Unforgivable Curses. Dumbledore had argued that if the Death Eaters weren't caught for such things they wouldn't serve life sentences in Azkaban prison and so would risk everything and everyone by being released after their trials. When she'd heard that Hermione had told him that while he was opposed to the idea of her working for the Order, she would like to participate in the apprehension of the criminals.
Hermione leant her forehead against the shower wall as she thought about the argument that had followed. Since she was of age she was legally allowed to make her own choices, including risking her life for the Order. Dumbledore had opposed it so strongly and they had argued so heatedly that it was only the threat of being kicked out of Hogwarts that had silenced Hermione. She understood his reasoning, since she had made fast friends with the Marauders and Lily and didn't want to risk them following in her footsteps and joining too young and before they had the chance to live.
She also understood that it would place an undue burden on her to try and balance a life of crime-fighting and homework responsibilities. She understood the risks of joining, better than most, but Hermione was determined to do it. Dumbledore had told her that as long as she was a student at Hogwarts she wouldn't be joining and that if she wanted to so badly she would have to drop out. As much as she yearned to stop Death Eaters, she also wanted her education and since she had no way of returning to her own time, she knew she needed to finish school and protect the people she cared about here. A proper education and entrance into Auror training would go a long way with that.
Hermione thought about the friends she had made here. About her relationship with Sirius and how she'd fallen broom over wand in love with him. Even as she'd considered the idea of having her friends join the Order with her, her mind recoiled violently from the very idea. She knew that they were all incredibly capable young wizards and witches, but that didn't mean they were ready for a life of fighting Death Eaters. Merlin, she wasn't ready for that either and she'd had an additional five years of helping Harry muddle his way through the wizarding world and getting the three of them out of the trouble they always found themselves in.
But as she thought about the way her heart had jumped into her throat to see Sirius struck by and spell and stumble backwards, about the way she'd lost her breath as she saw blood soak through his clothing, Hermione knew that she needed to keep them safe. She had two ways to do that. She was going to make sure that their ME meetings stepped up a notch so that they would all be ready, so that they wouldn't go rushing in headlong and unaware of the danger as Sirius had done last night. She was also going to make sure that they didn't join the Order until absolutely necessary, if at all.
They would all fight her on it, but Hermione wasn't going to let them risk their lives. She was tragically aware of the reality that if she didn't fix things here the people she loved would die, and so she was going to fix them. And if Dumbledore wouldn't let her do that as an Order member, active in the field, she would do so from the relative safety of the classroom.
He'd given her a job.
When Hermione had listed the known Death Eater's she'd been aware of in her own time, some of whom were her peers, he'd instructed her to do what she could to ensure that they were swayed from the Dark Path. And Hermione knew who her first target was going to be, even though her friends would be baffled and confused as to why she would even speak to him at all.
Hermione almost groaned as she imagined the way James and Sirius would react to the idea of her befriending Severus Snape. It would be no easy feat to convince Snape that she meant no harm, and a mammoth task to somehow sway his affections from Lily to anyone else. But with James and Lily being very much in love with each other and destined to be together she was going to have to try, especially if she wanted any hope at getting him to see past his hatred of James and Sirius. She had no idea how to do it, since she wasn't about to volunteer to have him fancy her instead, not to mention that Sirius wouldn't stand for it; and since Lily and James were together and Hermione suspected that even if they were to someday part on mutual, friendship terms, the idea of Lily and Snape would drive James barmy.
She would need to find someone else to have him fancy, but that would be difficult since he was a broody, grumpy loner with an insatiable love for a girl who was dating someone else. James and Sirius making him the butt of every joke and bullying him didn't help either and though she'd managed to keep them from it all year since her arrival when she'd gone off on them, he was still weird. He was a Slytherin, which didn't help matters since house rivalry was still rife at Hogwarts, and few girls wanted to date a Slytherin. Fewer still were interested in a guy carrying a torch for Lily Evans, hated by the Marauders and infatuated with the Dark Arts.
Befriending him would be hard and finding a girl for him to fancy would be even harder, but she was going to try. Hermione lifted her head as she had a thought. Lily had been his friend for five years before they'd had a falling out, maybe she would have some ideas on how to sway him from the Dark Arts and about who might make a decent girlfriend for him….
Jumping out of the shower, Hermione dried herself and dressed quickly. Dumbledore had made sure she was fed while they'd been in his office all morning so she didn't need to worry about breakfast. As she sprinted through the halls on the way to charms class, Hermione's mind was in turmoil, trying to figure out how to broach the topic of Snape with her best friend and how to go about getting Snape to trust her; not to mention how to explain all of this to the Marauders, especially Sirius.
As she ran Hermione thought again about the night she'd had, wondering if there was anything else she could do to drastically change the future of wizardkind. She thought about the promise she'd made to Moody about the fact that he would someday need to come looking for her if she could ever manage to kill Voldemort. The thought festered in her mind and she wondered if it were wise to advertise her intentions like that.
At the present time Voldemort presented only a mild threat and was apparently still a charismatic and persuasive young wizard. Hermione narrowed her eyes as she thought about that. If that were true, he would not only be harder to kill, but it would be harder to get away with. She would need to do further research on the topic and as she raced towards the door Hermione decided that perhaps it was time to face the foe in the shadows. If he was supposedly still giving speeches and such things as Dorea Potter had mentioned, then perhaps it would be in her interests to attend one. After all, such a time would make him easier to pick off and Hermione wondered if there was some way she would be able to kill the monster without getting caught since it seemed that at this stage murdering him would land her in Azkaban for the rest of her life.
Resolving to look into it further and to work out a way to effectively wield the Killing Curse, Hermione put it out of her mind temporarily to focus on the tasks at hand, namely, getting to class.
The lecture had almost begun as Hermione slipped inside the door. She scanned the desks quickly. Normally she would sit with Sirius, since he was her boyfriend and seemed utterly incapable of going more than five minutes without touching her in some way. When he was busy with James she usually sat with Lily or one of the other Marauders. But with him in the Hospital Wing, Hermione was the fifth and therefore odd one out and since the desks were arranged so that they would sit in pairs, James was sitting with Lily and Remus sat with Peter.
Hermione sighed, knowing Flitwick's rules about being seated in pairs whenever possible. There were several empty desks left, but Hermione knew that if she sat in one she would just be asked to move to sit in a pair. All four of her friends shot her apologetic looks as they caught sight of her and Hermione watched James's expression turn to one of horror when he realised that there was only one desk available that would allow her to be seated in a pair.
One right next to a scowling and incredibly angry looking Severus Snape.
A/N: CLIFFHANGER! Hey cherubs, sorry it's been so long and that this chapter is so short after I've kept you waiting ages. The next one is going to be fun though huh? More Snape! And Marauders drama. I've been thinking about it and I don't want this story to get too out of control chapters wise so I'm going to try and limit to to 40 at an absolute maximum. I hope y'all are still enjoying this and haven't gotten bored or wandered off. I know some of y'all were impatient with how long it took to get Hermione and Sirius together but I hate stories where people just jump right into things without even getting to know each other. That might work for Rose and Scorp in TtT bed-wise but relationships take time and last the longest if they have a basis is friendship... and I'm rambling. Pretty please leave me a review and tell me what you think, i love hearing the ideas y'all have of where i should take it, it's fun to try and incorporate them with the general plotline I have going =) Much love. xx-Kitten.