Author's Note: This story begins in year six, during the Half-Blood Prince. I have done extensive research for this fic, and I truly hope it shows. This chapter will stick to the original story as much as possible; you'll know when this changes. Parts of THIS CHAPTER may feel rushed, as I do not want to write chapters from the actual book on here (HELLO copyright infringement!), but there will be summaries so you know what part of the book everything is taking place. (Hope that made sense….) The rest of the chapters will not be so boring lol
Harry was just exiting Dumbledore's office after witnessing Katie Bell being cursed with a strange, dark necklace. It had been a very peculiar day, and it only got more bizarre when the Headmaster had asked for Harry to send Hermione to his office.
Entering the Great Hall during a Hogsmeade weekend was eerie. With most students visiting the nearby village, the vast room was much less vibrant and boisterous. Harry spotted his two friends at the Gryffindor table, picking at the food on their plates half-heartedly. He took a seat next to Hermione, across from Ron. Secluded from the other Gryffindors, whom mostly consisted of first and second year students, Harry didn't feel the need to whisper.
"Dumbledore wants to speak with you, Hermione," he said, grasping a nearby goblet of pumpkin juice.
The odd looks he received made him shrug. Harry explained what he and Professor Dumbledore had spoken of, sure not to leave anything out. When he finished, Hermione excused herself and made her way to the gargoyle guard.
She didn't know the password; she could count the number of times she had been to the Headmaster's office, and as any protected room would be, the password would have changed from the last she knew it to be.
"Acid Pop? Canary Cream? Fudge Flies? Ice Mice? Pixie Puffs?" At last, the gargoyle sprang to life, permitting her entrance to the grand office. The door was slightly ajar, and she wasn't sure if she should knock. Deciding he was expecting her, she slipped into the Headmaster's office.
Upon entering, she noticed Dumbledore was pacing a wicked track into the stone floor. Shoe scuffs had made worn-marks on the spot in front of his Pensieve, and Hermione was sure he had gone through several pairs of shoes this way.
His warm purple robes billowed behind him, his white beard tucked into his belt and he stroked his chin in deep thought. Hermione caught a look of worry in his normally-twinkling eyes. As he turned to repeat the steps he just made, she quietly cleared her throat.
"Oh, Miss Granger! So glad you could join me at such short notice. Please, do sit down." He said, extending his hand towards the seat in front of his desk. Hermione complied at his request, and he sat in front of her, holding a Sugar Quill in his hand.
"Would you like anything, Miss Granger? Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Bean? Licorice Wand?" he offered.
She smiled politely and declined. "No thank you, Professor. I don't think-… I don't think I could possibly stomach anything at a time like this." She said, nervously. Poor Katie, she thought. "Harry said you wanted to speak with me?"
The elderly man nodded, seeming almost grim. "Yes, Hermione, I do. It appears we need to have a discussion."
The bushy-haired girl waited for him to elaborate. Had she done something wrong? Did Dumbledore know about Harry's dangerous Potions book and, in turn, know who it belonged to? With a thousand questions running through her mind, the Headmaster finally spoke again.
"Miss Granger, you are a Gryffindor. While you are incredibly brilliant as a Ravenclaw, and as loyal as a Hufflepuff, the Sorting Hat chose Gryffindor. I have no doubt that it chose correctly, and I must ask if you feel the same."
Hermione had thought of this many times in her years at Hogwarts; through all her experiences, good and bad, surely the Sorting Hat was right? Studying immensely, standing by her friends… None of it measured up to the bravery she must harness inside her?
"Professor, I don't understand why this is suddenly a topic of discussion-"
"Please, Hermione, indulge an old man for a moment, won't you?" he said, the twinkle in his blue eyes returning behind those half-moon glasses, a smile forming on his wrinkled face.
She nodded, "Yes, sir. I-" she paused, needing to organize her thoughts before opening her mouth again. "I have always wondered what the Sorting Hat saw in me. Then again, other students must hold qualities of other houses as well? I think the wise old Hat knows what it's doing. It knows its job." She finished, content with her choice of elaboration.
Dumbledore's smile grew, "I'm glad you say that, Miss Granger." His lips slowly, slowly faded into a thin line. He sighed, hoping never to have to elaborate on this subject ever again.
"I must ask something of you, Hermione, and I do hope you will not reiterate this to anyone."
A shock ran through her, and she knew what he meant. Tell no one? Not Harry? Not Ron? A secret from the two people she trusted most in the world… With the quiet seeping into her, Hermione nodded.
"Yes, Professor. I will repeat this to no one."
The Headmaster closed his eyes, softly sighing through his nose. The Sugar Quill in his fingers becoming an annoyance and he set it down atop a stack of parchment.
His voice was slow, soft, and dripping with worry. "There may come a time when I ask something of you. I may ask something very, very difficult. I need to know-" he stopped, gathering his logic, "I need to know if you will do it. Do you trust me, Hermione? Do you trust a weary old man, at his wits end, and do what needs to be done? No matter the task? No matter the consequences?"
Hermione felt as though she couldn't breathe. She was drowning, she was sure of it. Her blood was like ice coursing through her veins, and Hermione wondered if this was how Harry felt after a meeting with Dumbledore.
Mouth gaping, she quickly shut it to keep from looking like a fish. It must be something he can't trust Harry with…but why can't he trust Harry? What would keep Harry from being the one to do this task? And then logic hit her. Death. If Harry dies, she will be the one to continue the mission, whatever the mission was.
"You are the only one who could do it. You are the only one smart enough to figure out the best course of action, logical enough to put your feelings aside to get it right, and although I am sure young Mister Weasley would do his best, I cannot fully be sure he would do it right." Dumbledore added, hoping to get some sort of response.
Hermione swallowed her fear and gathered her Gryffindor courage. "Of course, Professor. I would do anything you ask of me. I trust you." She said simply.
A sad smile formed on the Headmaster's lips and he nodded. "I knew I could count on you, Miss Granger. I know-" he sighed again, more tired now, "I know this is very cryptic and confusing, and I truly hope I never have to touch this topic again. I hate to put such pressure on you, and Harry as well of course, but the world needs to escape this havoc and destruction. It has been far too long since this world has known true peace.
"I wish I could do it myself," he continued, "but I am only a man, after all, and an old one at that." His blue eyes had lost the twinkle again, and the silence was deafening.
Questions buzzed through Hermione's mind, but none of them would sit still long enough for her to voice them. She swallowed her fear and confusion, for now.
Dumbledore cleared his throat and stood, a forced smile forming on his tired face. "No more of this cagey conversation, I'm sure you have something better to be doing. But please, if you ever feel the need to speak to someone, I do hope you will come to me. My doors are always open. Figuratively speaking, of course." He said, his eyes twinkling once more.
Hermione understood a dismissal when she saw one, and stood up to leave. At the door, Dumbledore politely reminded her of one thing.
"Remember, Miss Granger. This conversation is to be kept private." She turned to him and nodded silently before exiting.
Weeks went by and time was filled with homework, studying, Quidditch, and Harry's obsession with Draco Malfoy's strange behavior.
A few days after New Year's, Dumbledore asked Harry to retrieve a memory from the Potions professor. The rest of January and all of February passed with little excitement, and when March finally set in, things were getting dark.
The Hogsmeade weekend set for Ron's birthday had been canceled. The only interesting events occurring were Apparition lessons. On March 1st, a small stack of presents were opened by Ron, including a watch from his parents and new Quidditch gloves from Harry. While the raven-haired boy studied the Marauder's Map, Ron had begun enjoying a box of chocolates, and suddenly he was obsessed with Romilda Vane.
The fact that it was a Saturday, Harry had to wake Slughorn for help. A quick antidote, followed by a drink to Ron's birthday, and the three men found themselves in quite a trite. Ron was on the floor, contorting in unnatural ways, foam puddled in his mouth before dripping out the sides.
Ron was still in the Hospital Wing when the Quidditch match against Hufflepuff occurred. Harry cracked his skull and the Gryffindor team lost, 320 to 60.
The weather was beginning to turn, and Harry could feel the beginnings of summer approach. While Ron avoided any female that even looked like Lavender, a tearful letter came, and Hagrid's scrawled handwriting shared the news of Aragog's death. Harry, taking a swig of the Felix Felicis he won in the first Potions class of the year, went to the funeral that evening. He ran into Professor Slughorn on the way, attempting to swipe some leaves of a plant from the Herbology greenhouses, and they attended the burial together, offering Hagrid another body to lean on during his sobs.
They drank to the arachnid's life and memory, and after thoroughly becoming pissed, the Potions professor gave Harry the memory Dumbledore requested him to retrieve. They relived the memory from the Pensieve.
The Headmaster explained all he was willing to share; the Horcruxes, their uses and even some of their identities were finally revealed to Harry. He left the grand office feeling enlightened yet confused, exhilarated and yet exhausted.
The morning shed more news for the raven-haired boy, as he learned Ron and Lavender broke up, but only after he explained everything that Professor Dumbledore had detailed.
The trio looked up to see Katie Bell entering the Great Hall, and they welcomed her back to the school. Granted, the older girl could not recall the events of the horrible day she was cursed, but she looked much healthier than when they saw her last, and they were glad for it.
Classes were slow and boring that day, although the bookworm would never agree to that.
Harry and Malfoy got into a duel in the loo, and Malfoy was taken to the infirmary. Snape did all that he could for the blond Slytherin, but Madam Pomfrey was a much better healer.
Harry had to hide his book, hide it where he no one would ever find it. Using such a curse on someone, even his enemy, was a dangerous move. If he didn't get rid of the evidence, he would certainly be expelled. Throwing it in the Room of Requirement, Harry took Ron's book to Professor Snape, and claimed it as his own. His actions in the bathroom racked him weeks of Saturday detentions.
Friday. June 20, 1997.
A very warm June evening crept upon quickly and tomorrow was the summer solstice.
"Miss Granger?" Someone was tapping her shoulder. "Miss Granger." More forceful now, and quite irritating… "Miss Granger, the Headmaster wishes to speak with you. Don't make me deduct points from my own House." The Scottish Transfiguration professor threatened.
Hermione's eyes opened, albeit dry and unwillingly, to the older woman. "Okay, Professor McGonagall. Yes, I'm up." The young girl stood and put her bed robe over her pajamas, slipping into her house shoes and following her Head of House to the familiar gargoyle.
It felt like just days ago she was here, but Hermione knew it had been quite a while. Was it weeks? No, it had been months… Well, weeks turn into months when you calculate it out, she thought to herself.
"Lemon Drops." McGonagall said, and the guard sprang aside for them. They climbed the swirling stairs to Dumbledore's office, and he kindly dismissed the Scottish professor.
"Miss Granger, I am so sorry to wake up from your slumber. I hope you realize I would never do such a thing unless absolutely necessary."
Hermione nodded, wiping the last of the sleep from her eyes and stifled a yawn as well as she could. "No worries, Professor Dumbledore, I am sure this is important."
The old man took a deep breath and twiddled his thumbs for a moment, before setting his hands in his lap and leaning back.
"I am sure you remember our conversation a while back..?"
"Yes, sir. And as promised, I haven't spoken a word of it to anyone." Hermione said, hoping he would sense her truthfulness.
"Of course, Miss Granger, I imagine nothing but loyalty from you. Now, this is where things have become very, ah, difficult for me." He paused, and she wasn't sure if he anticipated a response. Another moment of silence and she gave him a tired smile.
"Miss Granger, I must caution you." The Headmaster's voice was serious now, and Hermione's face fell into a concentration at his words. "You remember your third year, when you used a Time-Turner to take more classes?"
She nodded. "Yes, the Time-Turner can take one back up to twenty-four hours in the past." Hermione said, and the Headmaster's smile told her to stop before she needed to insert her foot into her mouth.
"And you remember the rules of Time Travel, of course…"
"A Time Traveler cannot be seen by their present self, or others who know them, in fear of causing a catastrophic hole in the timeline, ultimately causing havoc and usually death."
There was no gleam in the old professor's eyes, no smile on his face, and Hermione was sure that the next words that escaped his mouth would change the world she knew forever.
"There is another kind of Time Travel, unknown to all of the Wizarding World. It is more powerful than all of the Time-Turners in existence, and also more dangerous. It can send someone back thousands of years if they so wish, although it has never been used that far back." Hermione's eyes must've expanded to the size of tea saucers, but Dumbledore continued. "I am asking you, begging you, to consider using this when the time comes."
There was that feeling again. Had she not been staring at the Headmaster, Hermione would be sure that she was drowning in the icy Black Lake - no one to hear her, no one to save her.
"P-Professor?" she stuttered, unsure of what to say. What could she say?
If Dumbledore heard her, he showed no sign of it. Instead, a black and shriveled hand pulled a necklace from his right robe pocket. The gold chain glimmered in the candlelight, a large Time-Turner hanging from it. No, that was much larger than a Time-Turner. It was at least twice the size, and would take up her entire palm. The substance inside was like nothing she had ever seen before. Where her old Time-Turner had crystal-white sand, this device had none. Instead, it seemed there was liquid gold inside the hourglass charm.
"The Hands of Fate can take one back farther than our mind can even imagine; days, weeks, months, years, decades, or centuries. With power like this, certainly you can understand why very few know such a thing even exists. In the wrong hands, the entire world could collapse. A man could go back to the time of the cavemen, and what would happen then? The infrastructure of our world breakdown, bit by bit, and everything mankind created would cease to be. No, no, its power is too great to share."
Hermione could tell, by the way the Headmaster spoke, this was no joke. When the time came, he was requesting her to go back in time. Farther than anyone had ever done before.
Swallowing this bit of information, she spoke, "But Professor, how did this device come to be? I thought it was impossible to go back further than a day? Magical law strictly states no human can change occurrences past twenty-four-"
"Miss Granger," he interrupted, "In all politeness, I am aware of the laws, having written quite a few of them myself… but only two people know of this item in question is in existence, and I would like it to stay that way."
"Who…Who knows about it, sir?"
"You, and me." He said simply. Hermione's mouth made an O and she bit back any more questions.
The Headmaster handed her a small envelope, thin enough for only one slip of parchment. The wax seal was different than she'd ever seen before; expecting the red Hogwarts seal, Hermione was taken back at the loopy cursive of A.P.W.B.D. seal impressed on golden wax. Although it was a trivial thing, she never thought of the fact that Dumbledore would have his own seal. She pushed the menial point away and placed the envelope into her night robe.
"There are other changes as well, Miss Granger. This kind of Time Travel is tricky. A single person can only use this device once; there are no second chances. Also, the Hands of Fate will fit you into the era you travel to. You'll have a history there - a family, a home, a life of your own.
"You would have all the memories from this life," he continued, using his finger to point at the present, "and discovering what the new ones are will prove to be a difficult task, but I know you could do it. Every action you make will change the course of time."
"But Professor, how will I know when to use it?" she asked, desperate for more solutions.
The elderly man gave a soft smile and let her question linger in the warm evening air. "Hermione, my dear Hermione. You are the brightest witch I have met in a very long time. When all hope seems lost…when it seems only darkness has clouded this world – I'm sure you will know exactly when."
Her eyes went to her lap, and she nodded silently. "I'm sorry for all the questions, Professor, but-"
"Oh, Miss Granger, please do not apologize for needing answers. I am putting a great weight on your shoulders, more than, I daresay, Harry himself. Please, ask anything."
Hermione bit the inside of her cheek, thinking of exactly how to word her next inquiry. "Sir, what will happen to, well, now? The present?"
Dumbledore nodded, the twinkle in his eyes gleaming through his half-moon glasses. "The events you remember, your memories from the present, will change with your every action. Every life you save, every obstacle you overcome, will alter the passage of time."
Silence stifled Hermione, and she sighed through her nose, feeling the enormous pressure upon her. She spoke up after a few moments of quiet, "There's just one thing that confuses me, sir. How do I go back in time if I exist in this time? How does my presence in the past change anything if it's already been done?"
Dumbledore's hands were clasped together in front of his face; if his eyes had been closed, Hermione would think he was praying. Worried he didn't understand her question, Hermione elaborated. "I just mean… When I used a Time-Turner in my third year to save Buckbeak and Sirius, it had already had already happened. Harry had already conjured his Patronus theh first time, and then we went back to do it again…" This was all very confusing, and Hermione's head began to spin…
"This will be a different kind of magic, Miss Granger; an alternate timeline, so to speak. I can assure you, I have never met you before."
This seemed to be a good enough answer, because the young witch nodded. Her voice seemed to be lost, and she coughed lightly to find it again. "How do you… How do you know all of this, Professor?"
A knowing smile broke his unusually sad face. "I know it, because I've used it. And yes, I changed the world, but not nearly enough. No, not nearly enough…"
Dumbledore continued, "When the- If the time comes, and you must use this element, you will need to be prepared." The Headmaster's tone was serious and foreboding. The tension in the air was palpable, and there was an intense strain on Hermione's heart. "Books, newspaper articles, anything you can think of that would point you in the right direction, take it with you. I cannot stress this enough, Miss Granger: the world as we know it will be in your hands."
The Headmaster handed her the overgrown Time-Turner, gave her a single nod, picked up a quill, and began scratching away at a stack of parchment. Another dismissal, she thought, standing to leave.
Monday. June 30, 1997
Hermione was stressed to the brim. Her gold and brown hair was even more matted and chaotic than it had ever been before. Frizz nearly stuck on its ends, and she fought tooth and nail to tame it to its normal wild look.
Before she knew it, the end of the school year was approaching. Gryffindor had won the Quidditch Cup, beating their opponents 450 to 140. She had witnessed Harry and Ginny's first kiss, though they hadn't been able to enjoy their relationship long. Reality always found a way to kick everyone in the gut.
Harry had disappeared. With Professor Dumbledore, probably… Hopefully. Hermione thought to herself, worrying for both of the men's safety. Evening had fallen quicker than she cared for, and there was a strange feeling in the back of her mind that something terrible was going to happen.
Heeding the Headmaster's warnings, Hermione waited until her dorm mates were in a deep sleep to go over the contents she would take with her, Just in case she told herself.
She reached into her trunk and grabbed the small clutch she planned to take with her, placing it on her four-poster bed to examine.
Using an Undetectable Extension Charm, she'd been able to pack the most important Daily Prophet clippings, up-to-date textbooks, and a few personal trinkets (including the small photo album she started in her second year, thankful to Collin Creevey and his silly camera). The massive Time-Turner and envelope sat carefully near the top.
A strange ruckus startled her, and her hand instantly went to her wand on the nightstand. Crookshanks was startled out of his sleep, curling his back and hissing at the dormitory door. The hairs on Hermione's neck raised, goosebumps crawled across her skin and she knew something terrible was happening.
Snatching her bag, Hermione rushed down the stairs, out of the Common Room and down to the Great Hall faster than she even thought possible. People were rushing past her, cries were echoing through the large entrance and students were clutching at each other as they exited the castle.
Dumbledore was dead.
She was wrong before. It wasn't when Harry died, it was now. She knew it was time. She reached into her clutch, grasped the two items she required, and stepped away from everyone, so as not to be seen.
Nervous hands wouldn't agree with her as she fumbled with the envelope. It ripped open, revealing the sliver of parchment inside.
Loopy handwriting carefully scrawled out her instructions.
Days, weeks, months, years, decades, centuries… she recalled. Hermione turned the dials accordingly, whispering the count aloud, careful to do it properly.
Dumbledore's voice rang in her ears. "There are no second chances."
Hermione saw colors swirl, everything melded into one and she was thrust into a world she had never imagined she would.