Title: Overclocking, an experiment in canon AU
Pairing: Hermione Granger/Remus Lupin (with various other pairings mentioned)
Warnings: A/U (although I do explain why/how eventually), lemons (of various sorts), death (canon and minor made-up characters), rape (mentioned only, involving a minor character), time-travel, fluff, and friendly portrayals of characters the fan fiction community tends to hate (like Ron; I'm sorry, but I like him.)
Summary: Hermione Granger is an Unspeakable specializing in time. After collaborating with co-worker Percy Weasley to decrease the number of casualties from the war, she is in a constant battle against the Keeper of Time, who wishes to restore the original timeline. Her final test involves traveling back to 1979, where her mission is horrifying yet hilariously simple.
Author's Note: Hi and welcome to another of my Harry Potter stories. It's been a long time since I've tackled a project of this caliber, but I was inspired by a particularly good Remus/Hermione story I read. Keep in mind that the time travel has changed certain events of canon (such as the reversal of character deaths, changing when certain things occur, etc.), but it is all explained by the end.
So without further adieu, here is the prologue to Overclocking, an experiment in canon AU.
Prologue: Day -4/180
"Absolutely not," she said without hesitation, ignoring the groans she heard around the room. "I'm twenty-two years old. I'm an Unspeakable at the Ministry of Magic. I'm quite satisfied going into work every morning, taking that same old lift to the Department of Mysteries, and working on... well, that's classified, obviously. But the point is that I am not looking for any sort of added excitement or complication in my life, especially one that has to do with time travel, especially since I've already dealt so much with the subject. Send someone else."
"Miss Granger, you should know the complications that can arise from a shift in the timeline, precisely because of your line of work and your 'dealings' with the subject," Professor McGonagall said sternly, the etchings carved into her aging skin pulled taught because of the frown currently plastered across her thin lips.
"Let's talk about it then," Hermione snapped, causing Harry and Ron on either side of her to flinch, curving away from her as if trying to avoid being in the line of fire of a curse they must have thought would come hurling toward her at any moment from the irate Headmistress.
The rest of the room, including the Weasley twins, who normally would have taken the occasion to start a betting pool on the outcome of this altercation, looked unusually somber because of the topic at hand and the statement they all knew was coming.
"Let's talk about the timeline. In fact, let's narrow the scope specifically to the people in this room, the Order of the Phoenix. Let's talk about Fred Weasley, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, Lavender Brown, Nymphadora Tonks, and Severus Snape," she challenged, pointing to each person in the room in turn.
"Hermione Granger," Mrs. Weasley reprimanded shrilly, throwing her arm around Fred, who had paled considerably.
She pulled him into her arms as if he was a child, which seemed appropriate considering his current state. He was visibly shaking in her embrace, his girlfriend and twin brother taking on a similar pallor.
The rest of the room temporarily settled into silence, and Hermione felt slightly guilty when she looked around the room again to survey its occupants. Sirius looked unfazed, Lavender looked on the verge of tears, Snape looked at her with a newfound hatred, Tonks looked uncomfortable, and Lupin looked anywhere but at her.
"The girl has a point," Sirius said evenly. "We should all be dead."
There it was – the thing that no one talked about was said, the unspoken agreement to never mention it shattered into a million pieces and filtering through the already thick air to hang over their heads as a grave reminder of the bloody effects of war.
"She's done more than enough," Lupin agreed with a sigh, his eyes fixated on the table, then on his hands, then finally casting a sidelong gaze at Sirius when the darker man clasped his shoulder. "It would be hypocritical to preach the timeline to her when the people most at risk wouldn't even be here were it not for her initial interference."
"Yes," Snape dryly agreed, standing up from the cramped bench where he was seated. "Let Miss Granger play with the timeline at her whim. We're dead, then we're alive, and then we're dead again. We'll be none-the-wiser, and it will be her and Mr. Weasley's burden to bear. This meeting is irrelevant to my interests, so I'm going to return to my work."
Hermione watched Snape glide out the door with a grace she would have assumed impossible for anyone else, given how cramped the room was. She stared at the doorway he'd exited out, feeling less brazen and more shaken than she had seconds ago.
"That's not what we meant," Lupin said quietly. "Your place in this world is guaranteed, and you've already risked your life to bring us into this world as well, without changing the outcome of the war. If you don't want to do it again, it's not unreasonable."
Hermione was grateful that everyone else in the room remained silent, giving her an opportunity to think about the implications that refusing to take this mission would have. She needed the time to think, even though she knew that the consequences were simple. If she didn't go, a third of the occupants of the room, and several others not currently present, would disappear into thin air, and the people whose lives they were a part of would go on living just as they had before, feeling a void but unsure of the reason why.
Hermione sighed, ignoring a myriad of different expressions on the faces of her comrades and searching the eyes of the man across from her, the only person who would meet her gaze at the moment. He looked tired, like she probably did. He had dark, blue, sunken bags underneath his eyes which were especially obvious because of his fair skin, fiery stubbles piercing through his normally shaven face, his sharp eyes already confirming the answers to everything she was about to ask.
"The timeline's going to keep trying to restore itself, isn't it?" she asked him, exhaustion sweeping over her as she locked eyes with her partner.
"Yes," he affirmed, nodding almost imperceptibly.
"And if we refuse to maintain it, they're all going to die again, aren't they?" she asked.
"Yes," he repeated, causing his sister next to him to sniffle as tears welled up in her eyes.
"How long are they going to keep trying to punish us?" she asked vaguely, as several of the other occupants of the room blinked in confusion.
"You remember what Harley said," Percy answered carefully.
"Right," she said, nodding, trying not to think about her own question too much.
"At least you have some concrete truths this time around," he said blandly. "Unlike last time."
"That's true," she agreed, nodding, and sighing. "I'm being unreasonable."
"You are, and you aren't," he said, one corner of his mouth quirking upward.
"Thanks, Perce," she said sarcastically, letting the man across from her take her hand.
"You're quite welcome," he replied smartly, the smile on his face growing.
She sighed dramatically and looked at her old head of house. "Alright. Lay it on me, Professor. What's my mission?"
She heard various sighs of relief, and Harry and Ron both put their arms around her proudly.
Oh. So now they were going to be protective of her, when moments prior, they were plotting their escape routes.
"You're going back to June of 1979, to the original Order of the Phoenix," Professor McGonagall said, as stiffly as she could, even though a smile threatened to spill onto her lips at the mention of the old Order.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at the new leader of the Order, who was looking atypically amused. Her eyes shot toward Sirius, who also seemed to be struggling to contain his laughter. Lupin, to his credit, managed the feat substantially better than his fellow Marauder, although she could still see a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.
"You'll be arriving at the old headquarters one day before the Potters get back from their honeymoon, and you will stay until December, via an amulet of Mr. Black's, which will also serve as a means for you to gain our trust. During this time, you will be sent on various missions as a member of the Order, but it is vitally important for you to remember your primary purpose," Professor McGonagall said, her voice breaking for a second, as she continued to struggle to maintain her composure. "Do you understand, Miss Granger? You must remember your primary purpose."
"Yes, Professor," Hermione answered, furrowing her eyebrows as she waited on her mentor to elaborate. "But what's my primary purpose?"
To her surprise, it was Sirius who answered, simultaneously answering her verbalized question as well as the one she'd been withholding until now, despite the fact that her curiosity and confusion were both mounting. "Your goal, love, will be to make sure James impregnates Lily."
Author's Note: There you have it, the short prologue. Chapter 1 is a bit but not much longer (the bulkier chapters come in a bit) and gives you a bit of background on Hermione's life as an Unspeakable. As the story progresses, more will be revealed, and by the epilogue, all questions about the timeline shift should be answered.