A/N: Hermione may appear a little darker in this story, but I don't think anyone could go through what they did and still be the same person. For the benefit of this story I'm going along with Emma Watson's hair cut it will make sense later in the story.
Disclaimer: Do not own characters and no money has been made from this.
Blistering heat. The jingling muggle contraption known as Ice cream van rolls through the small cul de sac. Sunbathers, children playing and birds singing is sign that summer is in full swing. One house among the dozen lies dormant, curtains shut and doors bolted. The inhabitants long since gone left for abroad.
In the joyful roar of laughter, they do not hear the pop! As a witch apparates out of sight. She strides towards the house. No longer the image of the child who had left a year ago, now a fully-grown adult. Hair cut short, not the same person who left for war. The horror and wonders to last her a lifetime. Yet she returns just as lonely to the house as she had left.
Slowing to a stop outside the building, she tries to recollect her thoughts. So many emotions swimming just below the surface, but a year of war has taught her to hide her emotions.
"Hermione?" An old voice calls she turns fixing a smile to her face. "Oh it is you; you've cut your hair."
Self-consciously she runs her hand through her hair, she still remembers the night where she lost control. In a fit of rage, she takes a drastic action, a new start, a new: life.
"Mrs Mystrey how are you?" Hermione asks hoping the nosy neighbour would leave her to her thoughts.
"Fine, fine my knee is playing up as you can imagine. And John's gone and got married."
Married? Her neighbour the boy she grew up with was now married. He was living in joy while they spent the year tracking Horocruxes. Camping, arguing and fighting. John although a couple years older was always there for her.
"Pass him my congratulations." The girl says stepping towards the house key in hand.
"Oh." The woman seems put out by the dismissal but accepts it anyway. "Give my love to your parents they must be having a great time."
That did it. Quickly she enters the house closing the door behind her. Tears threaten to spill forth. Hitting her head against the door, she repeats her mantra of the last few months. I shall not cry. I shall not cry.
It is enough to stop the rainfall not enough to stop her soul releasing one lone salty tear. The house itself has developed a gloomy state no longer the happy childhood home. With the curtains closed, the gloom lingers in every room. A darkness hovers above the landing. This was no longer her home.
She remembers leaving the Burrow only hours before. The warm atmosphere tainted with a sorrow over the deceased family members. For weeks, she stayed at the Burrow no longer a family of her own to go home to. She put of returning to the real world, happy to live in the land of magic. She could no longer put off returning home.
Glancing down she realises that her letters swamp her feet. Hundreds line the corridor. Not one to stand a mess she flicks her wand sorting the letters neatly next to the phone. She would check on them later.
Moving through the house, she opens curtains and windows. Trying to relieve the atmosphere.
Satisfied with the now breathing house she turns back to the sofa. Settling down with her enchanted bad, she summons all the books she collected spreading them out on the table. She begins the odious task of searching for information.
The sun slowly creeps from view the warm summer night approaches a cooling breeze brings fresh air into the house. The young witch does not notice the change she glances from book to book. Reference to reference. A quick look to the letter she received from Professor McGonagall informs her which book to concentrate.
There must be a way to reverse the affects! For half the summer, she spends her time searching for a way to fix her parents memory. Library after library tells her the same thing. There is no way to fix the spells affects. She could not accept this there must be something or someone.
That night among a dozen of books, she sleeps. Forever restless. Head rested on the book of spells she dreams. Dreams of her parents until the nightmares set in. The glint of silver. Black eyes. Pain. Cold endless pain. She wakes to her own screams that fall silent ears. Painting tired eyes search the room.
Morning has arrived and she is still alone. While she cooks breakfast, an owl arrives. Surprise make her stop and pull the small parchment from the owl. Seconds of reading sees her jump across the room in search of a book. It is then she finds half the answer she already knew. Someone knows how to reverse the effect of the spell. The letter from Professor McGonagall lies on the table.
Researching this new information the smile falls from her lips. Only one has reversed the effects of Oblivate. The Black's.
Sinking her heart takes hope with it. All the Blacks were gone. Sirius was the last one. Andromeda and Narcissa were Black's. She could speak to Andromeda but she looks too much like Bellatrix so that was out of the question.
Narcissa lives at the Malfoy manor. Could she really set foot back at that place? Could she willingly go back to hell? She knew seeing the witch would not be a problem due to the fact the woman was housebound. No one could enter or leave without the ministry knowing. She could message the ministry they knew of her research. They supported her to an extent, her research cold be invaluable in curing hundreds of witch's and wizards.
They gave her grants and funding. She knew of their ulterior motive. Many people convicted of crimes many death eaters used Oblivate. How could they prosecute someone who did not remember a thing? Many people intended for Azkaban end up free or at St Mungo's hospital. The cure would heal witnesses.
Not only was she searching for a cure to her parents but for the world. She explained to the Ministry she would be returning for her final year. A part of her knew that the answer lay there.
She sent word to the Ministry that day and they answered. She would see Narcissa tomorrow.
Apparating outside of Malfoy manor, fear instantly registered in her mind. Pushing it aside, she knew there was nothing left in the house that could harm her. Only Narcissa remained, her husband resided in Azkaban and Draco was under house watch elsewhere. Nodding to the Aurors on guard outside the manor, she steps through the opening gate.
The house still kept its haunting presence; she could still hear her screams. Sure though that this was in fact just her memories taunting her. An elf greets her at the door, before she can even say hello the creature is leading her through the house.
She finds herself stepping into the room where Bellatrix tortured her.
Silver of a knife.
"I thought it would be prudent to speak in here." A voice snaps her from her thoughts.
Turning disgusted eyes to the woman standing by the window, Hermione walks the rest of the way into the room hiding her fear.
"How very thoughtful of you." Hermione sneers.
Elegantly twirling from the window the older witch slinks across the room to settle into a chair. Right where I was tortured "Despite the circumstances of my house arrest I would not like you to forget where you stand."
Fuming, Hermione resists the urge to curse the woman sitting so elegantly. Instead, she sinks to the woman's level, literally. Wandering across the room, the younger witch settles into a chair crossing her legs she raises an eyebrow daring the older witch to say something.
Clearly bristling with the impudence of the girl's behaviour, Narcissa eyes her scarred arm covered by her long sleeved t-shirt. "It won't heal, but then I think you know this."
"I'm not here for that." Hermione answers.
"No? Clearly, you have grown comfy with the brand. I assumed you had come in search of my help."
"Stronger witches and wizards than you have tried." Hermione replies tersely.
"Then why are you in my home once more."
Unable to refrain from scoring her own points Hermione slips in an insult. "Must be lonely now."
Jaw clenching, Narcissa openly counts before repeating her question. "Why are you here?"
Reaching into her bag, Hermione draws the book out and hands it Narcissa with the page already open. "This is the answer I seek."
"I see," Narcissa, says analysing the book in her hand before regarding her guest. "Why have you not asked my Andromeda?"
"She is busy."
"Is she now?" Contemplating the girl, she finally takes a good look at her. She was slim, her stance projected she had lost her innocence long a time ago. Haunting eyes guarded by a thousand barriers, but the obvious change is the haircut. Yet the haircut does not wholly interest her, because she knows the reason behind it.
"I suppose she is." Narcissa agrees handing the book back.
"Do you know the spell?" Hermione asks slipping the book back into the bag.
"I'm assuming you are looking for the spell to heal your parents?" Hermione sits back slightly guarded. How does she know? "You don't think the Dark Lord didn't try tracking Potter down through you?"
So at least it was not for nothing. Hermione thinks guiltily. "Voldemort found them?"
Flinching at the use of the name, Narcissa shoots the girl a glare before continuing. "No Bellatrix did."
This time Hermione flinches involuntarily.
"They were not harmed after she discovered they knew nothing of your existence."
"She let them live?" Why would she leave her parents alive?
"Despite common belief my sister is not a monster."
"Could have fooled me." Hermione grumbles. "And she's dead so past tense is more appropriate."
She knew it was a cold blow, but the hate for the dead woman was so great she could not stop herself. The cruel, cold smile that spread across Narcissa face threw Hermione from her high perch.
"Yes she is." Hermione was not certain but she could have sworn the youngest Black sister said it with relief.
"Do you know how to reverse the effects or not?" Hermione demands steering the conversation from Bellatrix.
Sighing, hers shoulders slump a little, I suppose I will have to face my fear and visit Andromeda.
Standing, Hermione smiles coldly at the woman still sitting.
"Thank you for your time."
"Leaving so soon?"
"There is no reason to stay."
"And where will you go next to see my sister perhaps?" She hears the woman glide to her feet behind her. Stopping Hermione turns her attention to the older witch.
"She may know the answer."
"Has it ever crossed your mind to read the passage correctly? It does not say the Black family know but one of the Black's know."
"What is it you're trying to tell me?"
"That maybe you should ask who is it that knows the answer to the question you have."
"Please Mrs Malfoy can we finish this cat and mouse game and get down to business." Hermione asks.
"Very well, the only person who knew how to reverse the effects of the spell is…"
Smiling cruelly Narcissa steps across the room so they are but two feet away from one another. "My dear sister Bella."
Hermione freezes, her hope rested with the woman who tortured her. The witch who had died in a puff of ashes at the hands of Molly Weasely. Her hand self-consciously traces the scar on her forearm. Slim fingers curl around her scared arm, lifting it up to examine, Narcissa pulls back the fabric of her t-shirt to examine the markings.
"It will never heal you know." The older witch says gently.
"It might in time." Hermione cannot help but hope it will.
"It won't, the knife she used is cursed. The only way to fix it is if the one who dealt you the curse to lift it."
"There's no cure?"
"No, my sister was never the forgiving type."
Pulling her arm away, she slides the sleeve back down. Not only had the woman cursed her for life, but also she took the most valuable piece of information to her death. Deciding she had out lived her stay, she goes to leave when Narcissa speaks once more.
"I know why you did it."
Pivoting round, she eyes the older woman warily. "Did what?"
"I know why you came to speak to me." Small flash behind her eyes told Hermione there was another motive at work here. "I know why you also cut your hair."
"I fancied a change."
"I'm sure that's the reason." Slowly the older witch starts to circle the girl. "It couldn't possibly for another reason."
"There is no other reason." Hermione spits watching the witch.
"No? How many nightmares does my sister give you? How long does she spend taunting you? It is foolish isn't it, that you cannot even visit Andromeda because of Bellatrix."
"That's not true!" Hermione hisses.
"When did you decide to cut your hair? How many times did you look in the mirror before you realised you looked like her. That you jumped every time you saw your image in the morning because of your hair?"
"That's not it at all."
"Please I see my sister haunting your eyes, you think she's dead she's living inside you, haunting your every thought."
It happens so fast, Hermione has trouble understanding. Her wand drawn pressing tightly into the throat of Narcissa, the older witch cowering against a bookcase. Angry eyes flash as her grip on her wand tightens.
"You should learn when to shut up!" Hermione warns, stepping back from the woman, wand still pointed. "You know out of everyone there that night. Everyone including Bellatrix, she was not the person I hated most. No out of everyone in that room I hated you!"
"Me?" Narcissa asks unsure.
"Yes you, you know why? Because your son had the good grace to look ashamed of his aunts behaviour. The look in your sister's eyes spoke only of fear she did what she had to, but you. You stood there and you watched everything without even a hint of remorse. Not once were you ashamed, if there was anyone guilty in that room, it was you. As for your husband he spineless coward cringing in the corner."
The slap left a stinging red imprint on her cheek, but Hermione knew she had won the war. Smirking she lowers her wand from the fuming witch, time to leave.
"You can still find your answers."
"Unless someone else knew your sisters answer, there is no way."
"You have a time turner."
"How could you possibly know that?"
"You can still get your answer." Narcissa tempts.
"You're crazy to even consider that." Hermione states inching from the woman.
"Why not? How badly do you need to find your answers? Just one trip."
"Your sister would kill me if I go to her."
"Not if you go to her before she became a Lestrange."
"When she was at Hogwarts?" Hermione asks in disbelief, Narcissa nods. "That's crazy I would be stuck there."
"It's the only answer." Narcissa says simply returning to staring out the window, dismissing the girl.
"Turn Time…" The youngest Black sister whispers.
Turning on the spot, she apparates out of the manor back to her haunted house.
Hermione sits on the steps to Hagrids house staring up to Hogwarts. The school still in repairs for the upcoming start of term. She wishes she could visit the library it always brought her comfort. Yet it was in one of the damaged wings and it would be sometime before she could return. Therefore, she chose Hagrid is a place of comfort for all of them. The Forbidden Forest whispers to her, but she ignores it. She tries to come to terms with her situation. She would not be able to help the ministry; she would not tell them about Bellatrix, if they knew they might send someone back in time for answers.
She could not let that happen there was too much at stake. In her trance her fingers tap against the Time Turner, she is not foolish enough to twist any dials. It brought her comfort to hold the device that had helped to save Sirius's life. Killed by Bellatrix. Why do you haunt everything I do?
The crunching of dried mud beneath feet, announces Ron's presence. He wanders over to her before plonking down next to her on the step. They sit in silence for which she is grateful. She knew the reason for Ron's being here at Hogwarts's he had decided to help fix the school before starting his Auror training in the New Year. This was his way of giving his thanks to the school to his friends and to those who lost their life during the fight.
"You didn't respond to my owl." He says after a while.
She steals a glance at him, he looks good, healthy and she wonders when she became the fallout of the golden trio. They had started to date, but she could not commit. Something changed and she was not sure if it was on her side or his. Harry had spent his summer with Ginny and she was grateful out of the most tortured of the three souls he could find some happiness.
"I know." She sighs.
"I'm worried about you 'Mione,"
"You don't respond to owls you spend your time reading, you barely eat your going to kill yourself."
He is upset she can tell. His hurt about the rejection of his feelings, that she had ignored his owls. Nevertheless, he was still her friend and was concerned about this new obsession. What he does not realise is that she was always this obsessed; always searching for knowledge she spent half her life reading. The only reason he notices now is that there is no Voldemort no one trying to kill them. No Harry distracting them – no school.
Somewhere in the depths of her mind she considers the idea of Narcissa, although crazy she could save people's lives. She could have her parents back. She could not possibly visit the witch when she was a death eater, she would not be able to utter one word before dying. If she went back in time, her knowledge of present day could affect everything. She could be responsible for the deaths of all her friends.
If she went too far back she would not be able to return could she. There was no mention of travelling to the future just to the past. No, she would be forever trying to find her own way of fixing the effects of the spell. Her mind wonders what would Bellatrix be like at Hogwarts was she smart? Evil? Who was the woman behind her nightmares?
"Is that all you have to say?" He snaps standing up.
"What do you want me to say Ron?" She asks getting to her feet in front of him.
"Something other than I know! Anything, how about a little bit of emotion? Would it hurt to not to be so heartless? You're not the only person who has suffered you know?"
"How dare you? You don't think I don't know the horrors people have suffered. Ted will grow up without parents! Hundreds have died Ron! However, there is a chance I can still help. I can bring some happiness to some people is that too hard to understand?"
"Why you? Hey let someone else do the dirty work haven't we suffered enough?"
"This isn't about you!" Hermione shouts in response. "For once Ron this is not about you, this is me. I chose to do this and nothing you can say will change my mind. My actions I have to fix them."
"About me, nothing in the last godforsaken years have been about me. It's always Harry this our chance Hermione, our chance to start a fresh."
"No one asked us to stand by Harry we did what we had too. As his friends, so don't turn this on him! If you're so tired of not having the limelight on you, I am sure Harry would have given it to you. I do not want that Ron! I don't want to be in the spotlight I just want to live! So you throw your tantrums because no one pays you that extra attention. If you want the spot light then do something worthwhile!"
If she could turn back time, she would have chosen this moment however fate had another idea entirely. In blind rage, Ron pushes Hermione away from him, as he fumes at the top of the steps. The time turner spins and flies from her grip as she falls to the dirt at the bottom of the steps.
Breath knocked out of her, her mind whirls. How had this happened? They were friends. Hogwarts use to be her sanctuary now it was nothing but bad memories. There was no home to go to she had nothing, her only hope lied with Bellatrix Black.
A glint of light above her causes her to look up. She sees the time turner tumbling towards her. She reaches out not wanting the incredible device to break against the dry ground.
The hourglass turns and cracks in her hand.
Her head spins.
Eyes wide she stares at her friend.
With gut wrenching speed, she hurtles backwards through time.
Turn Time… The words echo in the tunnel of light.
Everything stops. The sky is dark no longer the beautiful clear day it was. Mud claws at her back as she rolls in the boggy ground. Rolling onto her front, head spinning she feels shards of glass in her hand. In her horror, during the fall the hourglass lodged itself into her bloody hands. Nausea peeks its ugly head and she fights the urge to haul.
Digging fingers into the wet earth below her, she tries to will her mind to stop spinning. Something catch me!
"I tell you, there was a flash of light!" A girl's voice grows closer; she hears the squelching of mud, the rustling of cloaks.
"Look I told you!"
Quick reflexes has Hermione turning wand pointed at the voice metres from her. One young girl stares at her in wonder and fear. She hides behind an older witch, the same age as Hermione. The black curly hair, fierce dark eyes is enough for Hermione's heart to stop in fear. Her eyes must have betrayed her because the older girl is scrutinising her.
"Are you okay?" The young asks from behind her sister.
"Really Cissy does she look okay?" The older sister says softly.
"How did you get here?" The older witch asks Hermione who still has not lowered her wand.
"Apparate." Is her quick answer they cannot learn she is from the future.
"You can apparate!" Cissy asks excitedly.
"Yes," Hermione replies slowly sitting up.
"Not very well by the looks of it." The other sister growls.
"Bella!" Cissy reprimands her.
"Accident." Hermione answers just as aggressively.
"Perhaps we should get teachers help." Cissy says.
"Don't be foolish, if they find me out here at this time of night I'll get detention for the rest of the week." Bella replies.
"She's injured." Cissy argues.
"I'm fine," Hermione waves her hand at them, slowly moving to get up. "You girls run along."
She misses the anger that flashes in Bella's eyes. "Girls? Look sweetheart!" She threatens taking a step forward.
"Take step further and you'll regret the day you were born!" Hermione voice is low, her stance aggressive, eyes flash in anger at the frozen Bellatrix.
Bella freezes not sure how to react. No one had ever threatened her before not like that.
"DO you have any idea who you are speaking to?"
"Black." The word rolls from Hermione's tongue not as acknowledgement but as though the word itself is disgusting.
"Oh my god you're bleeding!" Cissy exclaims pointing to her hand.
Breaking the staring contest, Hermione looks down to her hand. Fascinated by the droplets of blood that drip to the ground. Smiling reassuringly at the young girl – how could you hate someone so cute? She speaks her tone losing its bite.
"Its fine I've had worse."
"You need to see Madam Pomfrey!" The girl answers.
"Wow she's still here?" Hermione asks looking at the building how many of her professors were here.
"You're not a pupil are you?" Bella demands shifting her younger sister behind her, becoming defensive.
"Sort of." Hermione answers she needs to leave.
"Sort of?" Bella parrots.
"It doesn't matter," Hermione takes one-step forward.
The world spins and she falls to her knees, grasping her spinning mind.
"Oh shit." She murmurs to herself, not hundred percent sure what the effects of travelling so far back in time.
"Bella we should do something."
"Miss Black!" The cold Scottish voice causes all the girls to jump at the sound of Professor McGonagall's voice. "Out here at this time of the night! What on earth are you…" She stops mid rant spotting the young girl on her knees in front of the Black sisters.
"Dare I ask?" She demands rushing to Hermione's side.
"I didn't do anything!" Bella protests.
"She didn't Cissy!" Defends.
"I will get to you next Miss Narcissa!" McGonagall warns.
Helping Hermione to a sitting position, she scrutinises the young girl. She was not a student then why was she on the grounds. Her vision blurring Hermione is happy to see a familiar face, cracking a small smile surprising McGonagall who smiles slightly in return.
"Sorry Minerva" She whispers hoping Bellatrix did not hear her. She did.
Lifting her injured hand with the shards of glass still imbedded she holds the Professors broken timepiece out for the witch to see. A sharp gasp is enough to tell Hermione that the Professor understands just what has transpired.
"Oh my dear child." McGonagall says sadly eyeing her future young student.