This story begins at chapter thirty-one of Pride of Time. It is recommended you read at least up to that point in the story before reading Divide of Time, which is a derivative companion piece that explores a future where Hermione does not de-age herself. It is, however, possible to read this story without reading Pride of Time first, but I suspect that might greatly reduce your enjoyment and understanding.
This is why I had a difficult time writing the Epilogue for Pride of Time. I was still wrestling with myself over making a set-in-stone ending for all of the characters, when I still had this idea bouncing around in my head.
I've decided to start posting on FFnet again. For an explanation, please see my profile.
The reason I am posting this is because after six months of searching— yes, six months— I was not able to find a beta. After posting this story, I came across the fabulous Meladara and That Crazy Hippie Girl who have both agreed to step up to the plate.
Next chapter will be posted directly after Thanksgiving Break, and will then begin a once-a-week posting schedule.
Anti-Litigation Charm: I do not own.
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
The conversation with Selenius concerning Voldemort had gone significantly better than Hermione could have ever expected. Selenius was not terrified out of his wits that Voldemort was going to hunt him down, but he wasn't refusing to take the situation seriously, either. In fact, if anything, he seemed to grow thoughtful over the next few days, as he continued to absorb and mull over this new information in his head.
Occasionally, he would ask her further questions about it out of the blue, but if it were not for that, Hermione might have thought he had abandoned all concern about the conversation. Later that day, Severus stopped by for the nine o'clock Order meeting, where he gave them all his report on the Dark Lord's movements.
"Not only has he added ten Death Eaters to his ranks, but among them is Augustus Rookwood," he told them silkily, "formerly of the Department of Mysteries. He has told the Dark Lord how to obtain the Weapon."
There was a murmur of alarm, followed by a ripple of unease through the assembled Order members.
"Now I don't quite understand here, but if you'll just give me a sec," Tonks spoke up, "I thought you had to be the one a prophecy was made about in order to take it?"
"That leaves him with two options," Moody growled. "He can either go in himself—"
"—or manipulate Potter into doing so," Severus finished smoothly. "Yes, I know."
"Severus?" Dumbledore asked calmly. For all his tone indicated, he might have been reading the newspaper and discussing the weather. "How is Harry's Occlumency coming along?"
Severus stiffened visibly for a moment. After the debacle in which Trelawney had been sacked, Severus had returned in more foul a mood than Hermione could have ever predicted. Harry had breached Severus's defences during their lesson and reversed the Legilimency on him quite by accident. Nothing truly incriminating had been seen—Severus as a child while his parents were fighting, Severus attempting to get on a bucking broomstick, Severus as a teenager…
"Very badly, Headmaster," Severus sneered. "He has no talent, no discipline, no real understanding of just how serious his situation is. His progress is stilted, and the boy wears his heart on his sleeve for all to see—he has only a modicum of self-restraint. And he does not practice as he should."
"Keep working with him, then," Dumbledore said with a sigh.
The meeting broke up, and they dispersed. Severus and Hermione left to return to Hogwarts. Hagrid on probation, Harry continuing to see a dark corridor, the interview with the Quibbler… everything was starting to come to a head once more, and Hermione could not help but wring her hands in anxiety as she felt the clock nearing midnight for her. Soon—very soon—her younger self would be barrelling down the corridor that would take her flying back nineteen years in time. The time for that was drawing alarmingly close, like a great black shadow that she had only seen out of the corner of her eye before—
"Wha—oh, yes, Headmaster?" Hermione said, rubbing her temple, snapping out of her contemplation. "I—er—you were saying?"
Dumbledore's gaze was serious enough to stop Hermione in her tracks as they approached the fireplace that would Floo them back to Hogwarts. "Your younger self will be tripping down the stairs into 1977 in just two weeks," he said, resting a hand on the mantle. "We have not found a way to slip you back into your old shoes, and stopping the accident from occurring is hardly the answer."
Hermione chewed on the side of her lip. "I've been thinking about that a lot," she said at last. "I can't go back as I am now—that would cause irreparable damage to the Order, by giving the Ministry ammunition to arrest and investigate us, the school—everyone, really—for mismanagement of a Time-Turner. There would be no realistic explanation for my sudden aging, not even if we staged a potions accident—" and here, she turned around to glance at her husband, who was eyeing her grimly, but she saw his lips quirk up in slight amusement at this. "The only solution, it seems, is to not go back at all."
"That will create quite a different uproar," Dumbledore mused. "A student missing isn't something we take lightly."
"But," Hermione said, holding up her hand, "when I go missing, you won't be in charge—the Ministry will have enough evidence at their disposal that they'll probably find a way to oust you. That means I'll go missing on their watch."
For the first time since the sobering discussion had begun, Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "That doesn't bode well for them, it seems."
"And," Hermione continued, now warming up to the idea, "I'll be able to take a more active role in the Order—as soon as Granger disappears, I won't have to worry about doing something that might interfere with my timeline. I'm much more useful as an adult, rather than masquerading as a student."
"You've overlooked something important," Severus interjected, his voice low.
Hermione closed her eyes, and sighed. "Yes. My friends—Harry and Ron, especially…"
"They won't know what to make of your sudden disappearance," Dumbledore murmured.
"We'll have to handle that, somehow," Hermione said, folding her arms across her chest and tucking in her chin, the way she did when she was deep in thought, and didn't have a quill to chew on. "Harry's demoralized enough as it is, and after the fiasco with our Defense group being discovered—" she wasn't quite ready to let it slip that they were called Dumbledore's Army, "—my disappearance might make him do something reckless. Dangerous, even. I tried to be the voice of reason—" Severus snorted at this "—and encouragement when we were students, but with me gone, he might think there's nothing left to lose." She glanced at Dumbledore. "With you gone, especially, he might try to leave Hogwarts."
"We can't allow that to happen," Dumbledore said simply, but there was a note of tight finality to his words. "If Hermione Granger disappears, and I am gone, then you must step in."
Hermione froze. "Are you…" She narrowed her eyes at him. "You're not—you're not suggesting I reveal myself to him, are you?"
"When would be a better time for you?" Severus sneered. "He knows he's got a godmother out there, he's been dying to meet her for years. Whether you reveal yourself to him now or later no longer makes any difference. If you can't slot yourself back into place, and if there's no further risk of changing the timeline, we've got nothing to lose and everything to gain."
"You're right," Hermione said slowly, surprising even herself with the admission. Staying hidden from Harry had been a priority for so long, that she had continued doing it out of pure habit, like a knee-jerk reaction rather than as part of a well-crafted plan. But in two weeks' time, new options would be open for her. "Of course…"
An odd smile overcame her, as she lifted a thumb to her lips, chewing on it thoughtfully as she began to gnaw on a strange, new idea.
"I could show him who I am," she muttered, more to herself than to either of the other occupants in the room. "I can't tell him that I'm Hermione Granger, of course, but that I'm his godmother—that could work…"
She locked eyes with the headmaster, and at once, both knew they had come to an understanding.
"I'll do it."
"You're distracted, mum."
Hermione's head snapped up. "Hmm?" she glanced back at the chessboard, and didn't immediately register anything amiss. "Why do you say that?"
Selenius pointed to her white queen, which lay on the side of the board, looking rather miserable in its beaten-up state. "You weren't even watching," he complained. "That was too easy."
Hermione grimaced. "Sorry. You caught me."
"What are you thinking about?" Selenius asked, as his mother shifted in her seat and looked over at her pieces, considering her next move much more carefully than the last. "You've been really off for days. Even Sirius thinks so," he added, after a moment's consideration, "because it's more than usual."
Hermione allowed herself a small smile as she moved her rook across three spaces, and took a black pawn as a paltry victory. "It's just work for the Order," she said, sitting back. Her son was old enough to be aware of the world around him, and the unusual number—and sensitive nature—of their visitors. There was no hiding it from him. "After tonight, I'll be stationed at Hogwarts, so I won't get to see you quite as often, among other things."
Selenius wilted visibly at this. "And dad?"
"He'll still stop by when he can," Hermione reassured him. "And Sirius will always be here."
Selenius chewed on his lower lip in a manner that was extraordinarily reminiscent of Hermione's younger self, and she could see him carefully calculating what kind of effect this would have on his day-to-day life. "Will we still get to visit Tine Cottage?"
Hermione laughed. "That won't change, I promise you."
Comforted, Selenius resumed their game without further pursuit of the topic. Hermione, however, fell back into her inner thoughts. The last thirteen days had flown by far too quickly for her liking, and soon—all too soon—tonight, in fact, would be the night everything changed.
It was so hard to forget the incident that had sent her sprawling back two decades in time. The rush through the corridors, the sudden stumble that shattered her world, the pain of a Time-Turner that had become too hot to handle; the emotional roller-coaster when, after discovering that she had landed in April 1st of 1977, she realized she would never be able to wholly fix this. There had been no way to fast-forward through time. And there had been no conceivable way to permanently de-age her.
It still made her mind swirl with disbelief whenever she reminisced about the life she'd had after being sent back in time. Sometimes, even she had trouble believing her own tale—if it weren't for the memories and consequences, she might have eventually written it off as a bad dream.
There was a sudden flash of fire, and the crackle of something bursting into existence; Hermione shot up from the table as the Headmaster arrived, still holding onto Fawkes' red-and-gold plumage, and wearing an oddly cheerful, if slightly dotty, expression on his face.
"Albus!" Hermione shoved her chair in, nearly knocking over the abandoned chessboard. "What happened?"
"Oh, nothing extraordinary, I assure you," Dumbledore said, dusting off his robes and kicking the heel of his boots against the ground. He pulled out a scroll, whose title clearly read Dumbledore's Army, and held it out to Selenius. "My dear boy, would you do me a favour and fetch this off to Sirius? He should be in Buckbeak's room, at this hour."
"He is." Selenius was still grinning at the Headmaster's flashy entrance, chess match forgotten, as he snatched up the scroll and scampered out of the room. Hermione waited until his footsteps died away to address the Headmaster, hands on her hips.
"Professor, what did you do?"
"A little bit of damage control here and there," Dumbledore said cheerfully, as Fawkes settled on the back of one of the abandoned chairs. "I diverted their attention from Harry by pointing out that their group, as you very clearly wrote out at the top of your manifest, was named for me."
There was a shout of laughter from somewhere upstairs. Hermione pinched the bridge of her nose. "I haven't forgotten that. Do go on."
"I'm a wanted man now, Hermione," Dumbledore said, sounding entirely unconcerned. "This might finally boot me off the Chocolate Frog cards, mind, but nevertheless, it could be worse—this way, I'll be free to take care of several important errands that looking after Hogwarts inevitably delayed."
"So that's it?" Hermione asked, worry creeping into her voice. "But Albus, who's going to take your place? Surely the Ministry won't let Minerva…?"
"Oh, they surely won't," Dumbledore agreed. The thump of descending footsteps drummed the stairs. "But my office is quite safe from Professor Umbridge's excessively-bejewelled hands—"
"—and I trust the teachers to hold the fort down in my absence," Dumbledore finished.
At that moment, Sirius strode into the room, Selenius practically skipping close behind. He held up the parchment with the DA's manifesto written upon it, and Hermione could plainly see that it was taking everything he had not to double over laughing.
"Hermione, did you really?"
She allowed herself a sheepish half-smile. "We wanted to stick it to the Ministry."
Sirius clapped her on the back, and let out a bark of laughter. "That's our girl!"
"Although in hindsight, I probably shouldn't have," Hermione admitted, not quite meeting the Headmaster's eyes.
To her surprise, though, Dumbledore merely beamed at her. "On the contrary, I couldn't have been more honoured."
"Well," Hermione said bracingly, altogether flattered, but deciding to move things along, "that's all very well now, but you're no longer there, Granger's absence will soon be noticed, and Harry's just had the one thing that kept him going swept out from beneath his feet. We need to decide what to do next."
"I know that tone," Sirius said, as he walked over to the cupboard to pin the list of Dumbledore's Army to it, before leaning against the counter and folding his arms. "You've already got something in mind."
Hermione looked down at Selenius, who took the hint, and headed for the door.
"I'm going, I'm going," he muttered.
As soon as she heard the stairs creak, and his footsteps could be heard on the topmost landing, Hermione spoke.
"I want to reveal myself to him," she said. "And I want to use him to retrieve the Weapon."
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