Dear Miss Granger,
If you ever receive this letter, either I am dead or unable to return to hand you this letter in person. In the former case – which would be more likely, as you are close with young Harry – the world is a dark and terrible place. You, my dear, have gone through much as both a child and young adult. I cannot change those things that have happened, but now you can.
I once believed, in my earlier years, that muggleborns and muggles themselves had their place, and that was always below wizardry in my case. But, when I first met a young Lily Evans and later on yourself, I began to see that the world was not as Lord Voldemort believes. So, I spurred myself onward to find out how to change the way the world around you has turned out.
Following the Potter's death I worked harder than ever, speaking with the Department of Mystery's Unspeakables about time travel. Now, in my death, I believe I have found a way to alter the course of your future.
Hermione, I believe you are the witch that can put things right. You are both intelligent and fiercely loyal, as well as intensely brave. You have stood by Harry through things that most would run away from even as an eleven year old and later, also. You are amazingly powerful for someone so young and innocent.
So, here comes the big question I wish to ask you – will you take this task like the Gryffindor you were named all those years ago? The future, as it seems if you receive this, is a dark place, far darker than the past was. If you succeed in this, you will be sent back to the year 1977 on August 31st, the day before Hogwarts started for James and Lily Potter's seventh year.
With your knowledge and wisdom, I believe you can change things to be the way they would have been without Lord Voldemort. I think, with your knowledge of where the Horcruxes are, you may defeat the Dark Lord before he has properly risen.
But, Miss Granger, there is a catch. Once you have gone back, there is no return; for if you change even a little thing, the future you love will not exist. You may find friendship, love, and loyalty you have never known before there.
When, and if, you arrive, I will know who you are. Before my death or disappearance, I contacted my younger self in the year 1976 to inform him that if a young Miss Granger arrived to trust her immediately and let her both continue her Hogwarts years and join the Order of the Phoenix as an original member and a valuable asset.
My younger self does not know how far from the future you might have come, but if you tell him about it, I believe that he will believe you.
So, on the full moon, go up to my office and touch the mirror on the right of my desk. It will take you where you want to go, but to activate it you must say "Brucia," and tap your wand upon the glass four times.
Good luck, Miss Granger.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
When the letter had arrived like any other, Hermione had thought nothing of it as she took her breakfast in the Burrow's kitchen. She had expected, after the end of the war the previous day, that mail would arrive sooner rather than later.
But when she had recognised the cursive, neat handwriting of her deceased Headmaster, she had spat her pumpkin juice in her cereal. Both Harry and Mrs Weasley had harried over to read over her shoulder after that.
As soon as her eyes touched the third paragraph, she knew that she would do it. Neither Harry nor the Weasley can had deserved the terrible fates they had received. Fred, Lupin, and Tonks would be alive and taking breakfast with them that morning. Harry would be living with his parents and would have no lightning scar on his forehead. And that thought spurred her to read on.
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
"It's a trick, Hermione," said Harry immediately, sitting back in his seat opposite her and taking the letter to study the handwriting again. She sighed and shook her head. "You can't honestly believe that he has found a way to send a letter beyond the grave?" He scoffed, shaking his head.
Mrs Weasley nodded and bustled back over to the sink, her arms elbow-deep in soapy suds once more as she shot over her shoulder, "Albus was a brilliant wizard, but now spell can bring back the dead, Hermione."
"He's not back, Mrs Weasley," mumbled Hermione, snatching the letter back. "He was a brilliant wizard, and I have full confidence that he was brilliant enough to defy death for long enough to send a letter. And even if it wasn't him, they say they have developed a way to travel back in time. After that third paragraph, thinking about the family you'd all have and the carefree lives you'd been living, my mind was made up and I'm not about to change it."
Harry shook his head, blinking incredulously at her. "I should have known you'd think about it like that, 'Mione. But how are we supposed to know that it is a sort of time travel device and not a trap set up by the Death Eaters. They know that you're pretty much the reason that we survived that long…"
Hermione shook her head, a smile tugging at her lips as Ginny and Ron descended into the kitchen, both looking as though they hadn't slept at all. "Harry, why would they have put it up in Dumbledore's office? They couldn't have got in if they wanted to. I fully believe that Snape wouldn't have betrayed Dumbledore like that and neither would McGonagall; without them, how would they know the password?"
Ron frowned as he sat down beside Harry, taking the coffee his mother handed him thankfully and taking a sip, wincing at the warmth of it before taking the letter out of her hands. Ginny gave a small sniffle as she took the mug from Mrs Weasley and sat down gingerly on Hermione's left with a wince.
They had all been sore after the war had ended; George had broken three bones in his leg, Harry had fractured three ribs, Ginny had a concussion and a sprained ankle, Ron had his knees turned back-to-front so powerfully that even Mr Weasley couldn't change it back for two hours, Bill's left eye had almost been gouged out, Fleur's neck was cut in three places and she had almost died, Charlie's cheek bones were shattered, Percy's skin was black and blue, and Hermione herself had almost paralysed herself from the waist down. Fred had been crushed by a wall and had been rushed to St Mungo's the day before for critical surgeries.
"You're not going, 'Mione," said Ron firmly, throwing down the letter as Ginny reached for it. Hermione rolled her eyes and sipped her tea calmly. "You can't risk everything for something as risky as this. You don't know if it's true or not."
"As I told Harry," she said calmly, "there is no one who could have successfully forged Albus Dumbledore's handwriting nor accessed his office. I know you're still prejudiced against Snape and that's alright, but because of his memories I know he wouldn't have set up a trap for us there and neither would McGonagall. Mrs Weasley said herself that Dumbledore was a brilliant wizard and I believe he was brilliant enough to defy death for long enough to send a letter and find a way to send me back in time."
Ginny's eyes widened and she almost spat out her tea. "You can't believe this, Hermione Jean Granger. You're not going."
Hermione huffed and set down her mug of tea, standing up and putting her hands on her hips. "My mind was made up for me when I read that letter. Voldemort would be gone sooner, you'd lead happier lives. I'd do anything for you, you know that, right? And that includes walking into some weird plan to change time."
"But – but, if you did, Hermione," said Ron, spluttering slightly, "you can't come back. You know that!"
"I know," said Hermione quietly, sitting back down as Bill, Fleur, and Charlie descended into the kitchen. She watched Charlie as he grabbed some coffee and sat down in his chair, her eyes flickering briefly over Fleur, who was wincing as she sat down and bent down her neck and Bill, who was gingerly grabbing the sideboard to steady him. "But – but, if I did, none of you would go through this! I have to do it."
Fleur looked up at her, looking hopeful yet stern. "Hermione," she said, her French accent not as prominent as it had once been at aged seventeen. Bill frowned half-heartedly at her as he took a seat by his wife. "You're not going to do anything dangerous, are you? I don't know what we do without you?"
Hermione sighed as she felt tears prick her eyes. "This," she said, passing the letter to Fleur so Charlie and Bill would read over her shoulder, "arrived in the post this morning. I'm still trying to convince Harry, Ron, and Ginny to let me do it, Fleur. Don't get started on me about this, please."
"You can't honestly think this is genuine, 'Mione!" said Bill loudly, dropping the letter and glaring at her. "We can't lose you over something as stupid as this. Not today, not ever – you're not going."
Charlie nodded firmly, picking up the letter and scanning it. "You're not leaving us again, Hermione. It was scary enough when you, Ron, and Harry disappeared in the middle of the night last year."
"Dumbledore was a great wizard," said Molly, taking the mug from Hermione and staring her down sternly. "But, no matter how great he was and how intelligent and wise he was, no wizard or witch can defy death. Unless you count Harry, and right now, Harry doesn't count. You're not going, sweetheart. You have made up your mind, yes, but we have too; we're not letting you go."
Hermione stood up again, showing them her tear-stained face. "So you're not going to let me change things for the better? You're not going to let me give Harry his family? You're not going to let me give you brothers, Molly? You're not going to let me bring Fred back to you? You're not going to let me give you happier lives? Because, if you want all this pain and suffering on those you love and yourselves, go ahead – I'm not going to say I didn't try."
She pushed past Ron, who had stood up to protest, and harried up the stairs, letting out a single dry sob.
Mrs Weasley sat down heavily where Hermione had sat before, the mug laying forgotten in the draining board. "I know she means well," she said quietly, putting her head in her hands, "but she doesn't realise how much she means to us."
"Hermione has always been like that, Mum," said Ginny soothingly, sniffling herself. "She thinks everyone around her deserves better than herself and she's always been willing to take the fall for anything for anyone she loves, even if it meant self-inflicted pain. She's too nice for her own good."
Ron collapsed into his seat. "Even in first year when we saved her from that troll, she took the blame for that as if we were best friends. Afterwards, I felt so bad I'd insulted her for being who she was but she forgave me in the blink of an eye and no matter how much I did to make it up to her, I did more things that made her distance herself and nothing I could do seemed to make up for it even when she forgave me so easily."
Harry nodded, blinking rapidly. "She's brilliant – but all she seems to do is give and give and give until there's nothing left for her. Hermione told me herself she'd give us the world if she could."
"That's why we love her," said Bill sadly, shaking his head. "She's our 'Mione, and we wouldn't change her even if we could. When Charlie thought he was gay she didn't think much of it and was so happy for him. Said she didn't mind who he was with as long as they made him happy. She truly is brilliant."
"Too brilliant," said the room collectively, each eye turning to the letter that lay, almost forgotten, on the table top.
Hermione stayed awake that night until she heard Ginny's snores fill the room and the last floorboard creak. She slipped out of her bed, sniffling as she sat down on the desk chair and began to write.
To the Weasley's,
I don't know if I can really go through with this. I know that if I looked back when I touch that mirror that I'll come running straight back. That's why I'm not going to look back when I touch that mirror, because I need to do this - for you. I'd walk of the edge of the earth if it made you happy, for any of you. Because I love you so, so much that it's too incredible for words.
Harry, you've stood by me through everything. I never left your side and you never left mine. Even when you planned to run away by yourself, you knew that Ron and I would never allow it. You're my big brother, Harry - don't you forget it. Maybe you'll have an Auntie 'Mione one day.
Ron, even when you teased me when we were younger, I knew you were a good person. You were sweet - even you have your moments - and kind and concerned. I always admired you for your bravery. You would put yourself in danger for your family even if it meant you died yourself. When I met you, the real you, I couldn't help but forgive you all those times.
Bill, when I knew you as we grew up, you were always the cool, older man with the fanged earring and easy-going nature. I admired you because you were so tall, and brave, and chivalrous, and funny when I first met you. I was so happy when I was invited to your wedding I ran around my house for days. Just ask Wendell and Monica Wilkins if you ever meet them.
Fleur, you're the most beautiful, loving person I have ever met. You looked after me after my stay in Malfoy Manor and when, in the Triwizard Tournament, Harry was ignoring me and Ron was treating me like a bloody owl for God's sake, you were the one who took the time to get to know the real me that I hid from everyone else. Thank you for that.
Charlie, when Ron first told me about you, I pictured someone tall, handsome, and strong. You were all of those things, but when I got to know you, I realised there was a wonderful person underneath all that muscle. I respected you because you - as an almost-stereotypical dragon keeper - were nice to me even when Ron was angry with me after the Quidditch World Cup.
Mr and Mrs Weasley, you were so kind to me whenever I stayed here. I love you like second parents and, in a way, you were that to me. You kept me well-fed and you forced me into bed on those nights when I wanted to read into God knows what hour in the morning. Thank you so, so much - I can only hope I've brought you as much happiness as you've brought me.
George, you were the person who irritated me most - but I loved you because of that. You made me laugh, smile, and giggle when I felt as if the world was going to end. Don't stop smiling. Don't stop causing other people laughter. Don't stop making Ginny giggle hysterically, because Merlin knows the world needs a brighter sound than my laughter caused. Thank you for causing me some light in these dark times.
Fred... if you ever make it out of this alive, I want you to make your family laugh more than anything. You always did a good job of that; I'll visit you in St Mungo's before I go, I promise. You've always been so full of life and laughter and love - don't stop for anyone, or anything.
And Ginny. You were my first girlfriend who really understood me. Lavender and Parvarti and Luna were brilliant and they were like sisters, but you've been my best friend for as long as I remember. I didn't have a very happy childhood, you know that, but you made it brighter. You laughed with me and cried with me when Viktor and I broke it off and you yelled at Ron and Harry were being idiots about Crookshanks and I can't thank you enough for it.
No matter what happens to me or any of you, know that I love you so, so much - you're my family, for God's sake! - and that that won't change as long as we shall live. I like to think that, even when I'm nowhere near home, that you're always with me.
In my heart.
Tears had smeared the ink into the parchment but she sponged most of the blotches away from the letter with her sleeve. Hermione stood up and folded the letter carefully, moving over to her trunk so she could dress. She dressed quickly in a pair of combat-worthy jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, tucking her wand into knee-length boots.
The letter had been tucked carefully into her favourite book - Hogwarts, A History - and placed onto the kitchen table as she slipped out of the front door. Hermione paused and looked up at the window she knew Ginny would be sleeping in and sighed, blinking back tears. She cast her gaze down to the dirt track as she turned and ran away, away from the Burrow and the people she loved.
When she reached the nearest Apparation point, just beyond the wards on the Burrow, she collapsed onto her knees and began to sob. Hermione put her head in her hands as her body wracked with sobs.
How long she stayed like that, she had no idea, but it was three in the morning when she looked up. Hermione sniffled as she stood up, the wall behind her supporting her long enough to wipe her cheeks with the handkerchief she had tucked up her sleeve and pull herself together. "Come on, Granger," she hissed to herself, shaking her head. "You'll see them again. Someday."
So she turned on her heel, thinking wildly of St Mungo's. She had promised Fred she would visit him, after all.
Hermione landed with a small thud in the hallway, rushing past the night-nurse, who glared at her. "Fred Weasley," she said hurriedly to the nearest desk witch, who smiled at her and handed her a card.
"Room 403, sweetheart," she said, making Hermione rush off down the corridor and up three flights of steps.
Stopping suddenly outside Fred's door, she braced herself. "You can say goodbye," whispered Hermione determinedly, looking upon Fred's tired place as she closed it behind her. "You owe it to him this much." Hermione raised her voice slightly, her tone trembling. "Freddie?"
His eyes opened and he looked at her sleepily, blinking away the sleep from his eyes before he cracked a weak grin at her and waved her over. She took his hand and collapsed into the chair that was usually occupied by his twin. "Hey, little 'Mione."
"Hey, Fred," she said, running her thumb over his knuckles as he looked at him questioningly. "I've come to say goodbye."
"Goodbye?" said Fred slowly, his eyes narrowing as he shifted, wincing. "You can't be leaving, Hermione. You can't do that to the family. You can't do that to me."
Hermione gave him a small, tentative smile as she released a breath. "A letter arrived earlier, Freddie. It was from Dumbledore. He says he has found a way for me to travel back in time to save you all, to save thousands of lives. I'm not putting this up for discussion," she raised a hand, stopping him from protesting,, "and I'm leaving tonight. I've left a letter for them all, because I knew, if I said goodbye face-to-face, that I would run back to them if they so much as told me to. But I knew that I owed it to you because you saved my life two days ago. So... goodbye, Fred."
"Please don't go, Hermione," he whispered, clutching herself as she stood up. "We need you. I need two sisters, not one."
"I have to go now, Fred." She tugged her hand out of his, and, giving him one last, soulful glance, and left.
The Headmaster's office was just as she remembered it. Snape hadn't moved a thing while he had his brief spell at playing Dumbledore, probably in tribute to the late older man. Hermione stepped into the office, breathing heavily as she remembered the times she, Ron, and Harry had been sent up here so many times before.
Steadying herself, she approached the mirror to the left of Dumbledore's desk - it would always be his, no matter who sat at it - and drew her wand. Her reflection blinked back at her.
Her face was pale and circles lay under her eyes, her eyes red-rimmed and puffy. Hermione blinked and looked upon the top of the mirror, where it read 08-31-1977; she smiled weakly: it would be where the Mirror of Erised's writing would have been.
Raising her wand, she tapped the glass four times and whispered, "Brucia."
Like a Portkey, she felt a tug behind her navel before she was sucked through the mirror's glass.
From now on, this story is my main priority. I will be continuing my other stories and maybe continuing Ava Miranda Dakedavra's - who is a brilliant writer, might I add - story, 'The Return Trip', so that'll be fun to do. My other story, 'Second Chances', will be very long and I am still writing up the last chapter. I will be continuing soon, though, so none of you who are fans will have to worry.