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Hourglass

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PROLOGUE:

 

Hermione Jane Granger was a very intelligent woman. She was a genius, in fact. A prodigy. Her power, talent and mind rivaled those of the greatest sorcerers and sorceresses that ever lived. Her lists of achievements didn't stop with a Mastery in Potions, Transfiguration, Ancient Runes and Arithmancy. She was fluent in a multitude of languages, including Parseltongue, Gobbledegook, Mermish and Troll, as well as Latin and the more conventional French, Mandarin and Spanish. She also was as fluent as you could be in Ancient Runes and fully capable of translating Sumarian, Phoenician and Akkadian. 

Hermione had been hired by the Department of Mysteries at age eighteen, after completing her NEWTs and blitzing all recorded results, and in less then a decade was the Head of the Department. She had created strange and wonderful things, such as a potion that provided a temporary protection against the Unforgiveable Curses, a spell that made it possible to achieve more then one animagus form- she currently had two- and an amulet that protected one from the effects of a Dementor. 

The main focus of her studies, though, was Time. Time was a strange, wonderful thing. This was something any Unspeakable knew. The fifth dimension in a three dimensional world; Time was unknowable. It was sentient and held the Universe together. Hermione was the only Unspeakable who had done more then scratch the surface of Time's secrets, but even she had barely dinted the knowledge.

But she knew enough. Because for the last ten years, Hermione had been planning one thing- to travel back in time. 

Not a few hours, no, she wanted to travel back to the very beginning of her life, her own birth, and she wanted to change everything. Why? Because her best friends were dead. And Harry? He had been slayed by her own hand. 

Discovering Harry was a Horcrux had been the most awful things that had ever happened to her. And Harry had turned to her, had held out the basilisk fang, and told her to do it.

Ron was already dead, by then. He had died in the flames in the Room of Requirement. 

Harry... Harry had looked up at her with those calm green eyes, kissed her cheek and told her he loved her, and then she pushed the fang into his heart.

After all, a basilisk fang was one of the only sure methods for destroying a Horcrux.

In her grief, Hermione had stepped away from the body of her last best friend and joined the remainders of the Order of the Phoenix and DA, storming the Forbidden Forest. Neville had slain Nagini, but a retreat had been called when McGonagall, Flitwick and Kingsley were felled by a furious Voldemort; McGonagall had survived, just, but she was too badly injured to keep fighting, and both Flitwick and Kingsley were killed instantly. 

Hermione hadn't joined those retreated, though; instead she waited until they were out of the forest and then set it all alight with Fiendfyre- for Harry, for Ron. 

After all, only the Headmaster or Headmistress can apparate in and out of Hogwarts grounds, and there was a reason why Umbridge had never been able to enter the Headmaster's office- Snape had been allowed in, because he had Dumbledore's blessing, as well as the students' welfare as his priority; Hogwarts would accept no Death Eater, and she certainly would not accept Voldemort. 

So Voldemort, along with his followers, had burned. Hermione, kneeling on the ground, sobbing and heartbroken, had waited for the cursed flames to claim her life, but Fawkes had appeared, and he had taken her to safety.

The Forbidden Forest burned and burned, until there was nothing left but ashes. Voldemort's demise had been celebrated by the Wizarding World, and everyone knew Hermione had dealt the killing blow responsible for the end of the reign of terror.

Hermione didn't care. She didn't show up to her Order of Merlin presentation, she didn't make any public appearances, and she didn't return to Hogwarts. Instead, she travelled abroad to finish her last year of education. For long, long, lonely years, she shied away from society and concentrated on her studies, pushing the boundaries of magical knowledge. 

But she never forgot the reason she decided to become an Unspeakable. And it was almost a decade and a half after she started out in the Department of Mysteries that she was confident enough with her creation.

It resembled an hourglass. A silver, interlocked chain with thousands of tiny runes carved into all available surfaces was looped around her neck, and a silver hourglass, with the rune for 'Time' carved into the top, hanging in the center. The product of years of labor, if it worked, her soul would be ripped from her body, travel along the time stream, and integrate with the soul of her infant self as it dawned into awareness.

If it didn't work, Hermione was fully aware that it would kill her. She just couldn't bring herself to give a damn. Not anymore. 

She would never get her Harry back, but goddamn she would make sure he didn't have to live through the hell that had been his childhood ever again. This time it would be her who was sacrificed for the Greater Good.

With that thought in mind, Hermione reached out with her wand, pressed the tip against the rune in the center, and activated the hourglass.

There was a blinding flash of light and the body of Hermione Jane Granger crumpled to the ground, a marionette with its strings cut. The air pulsed with magical energy for several long moments.

And then Time froze.