She supposed in hindsight it all began on the day Voldemort fell. On the day that Harry defeated him at Hogwarts for the entire world to see. All of a sudden, it was all over; the war that had been raging in the public light for the better part of the last two years, but behind the scenes from a time before she was even born.
Voldemort was dead, and that should have been the end of it. It should have been over when he fell. That’s what they all thought would happen. That the only thing left would be to clean up the mess that was left behind. To round up all the rogue Death Eaters, and toss them in Azkaban to rot for the rest of their lives. To repair the damage done to the wizarding world. To rebuild the school, the Ministry of Magic, and all the other places that had been badly damaged through all the fighting and battles. To re-elect a new Minister of Magic, one who was not a puppet as those behind him had been. Fudge to those with the deepest pockets. Scrimgeour to the public who tried to keep the Death Eater population by any means necessary, even recruiting a barely legal teenager to be the official mascot of the Ministry. Or Thicknesse, who was nothing more than a puppet for Voldemort, whose strings were pulled in any direction he so chose.
But now should have been a time for change, with a Minister who restored peace, and let their world heal together. A minister who opposed the way that things had been before, and who wanted the wizarding world to try and recover from the horrors they had endured under Voldemort’s reign and terror.
Except that was the opposite of what happened, except, she supposed, for the structural repairs the world underwent. Those were unavoidable, regardless of how the outcome of the war went.
No Death Eaters were thrown into Azkaban. Instead, they weaselled their ways out. They feigned innocence, claiming to have done the things they did out of fear that if they did not, it would have been far worse for them. They claimed their families and bloodlines were threatened. They claimed that they were horrified, and had no idea why Voldemort went as far as he did. And they had all the proof they needed of Voldemort’s crimes. For where once stood nearly two hundred wizarding families, now stood less than a quarter of that number. The wizarding population had declined rapidly, and it was the most troubling thing of all.
In hindsight, she knew that was the basis of the war that was to come.
The new Minister of Magic was not the one she had hoped. She had hoped Kingsley would take over, denouncing the actions of Voldemort, and trying to reunite them all. She had hoped that once he took office, he would begin to push legislation to save them, to make it so that such a thing never happened again.
Instead, to her utter disbelief, it was Lucius Malfoy who took office. Lucius Malfoy, who had all but forced his son to become a Death Eater, by him and Voldemort holding Narcissa as a hostage. Lucius Malfoy who dropped a horcrux in the cauldron of a girl who was eleven. Lucius, who fought them at fifteen and sixteen at the Ministry of Magic openly. Who had housed Voldemort in his home for nearly two years. Who had watched her be tortured in his own home, only encouraging it further. Lucius Malfoy, who was a Death Eater to his very core. He was the one who became the Minister of Magic, claiming that he knew how dark the old ways had been and that he would bring them into a new era of peace.
It had disgusted her to no end.
She had been vocally opposed to the appointment. But she was barely nineteen years old. She had no family influence, and hadn’t even completed her NEWTs. She was Hermione Granger, a no body with no education, and her words were not taken seriously.
She had hoped that Harry’s would, for he was the one who saved them all for Voldemort. He was the one who defeated him in the end. The wizarding world had to listen to the Chosen One, didn’t they? But they didn’t. They told him Lucius had reformed. That he never wanted any part in the war. That none of the Death Eaters did. But it was either join, or face death.
Hermione still thought that personally, given the choice, she would have chosen death.
And so, they rose from the ashes. They didn’t have to hide behind Voldemort’s shadow any longer. The Death Eaters reclaimed their former places in the world, and somehow, it felt as if nothing had changed. That Voldemort hadn’t been around for the last three years, killing everyone and anyone who opposed them. As if she hadn’t spent the last year of her life on the run, not sure if she would ever see the end of the war.
Now they held those positions, and pretended it was a time of peace. They pretended that the legislation they were pushing was for the benefit of the wizarding world.
And maybe in the beginning it had been. The legislation started off small. If a person in the wizarding world joined from the muggle world, as in a muggleborn, their parents were not to be told that their child was magical.
It was meant to strengthen the statute of secrecy, they claimed. For given the devastation they had just faced, they needed to preserve their numbers. And the members of Wizengamot used the excuses of muggle war tactics.
Which, she could hardly argue against. Given nuclear bombs, the muggle world could easily wipe out the wizarding world with a single drop of a bomb. She knew it was unlikely to happen. The statute had been preserved for years. What difference did it make if some muggleborn’s parents knew about their child and their abilities?
It was a scare tactic, but the problem was that it worked. All it took was some devastating post world war two pictures in the Daily Prophet, and all of a sudden there was a widespread acceptance of the law. It didn’t matter that she opposed it. It didn’t matter that Harry tried to argue against it. It didn’t matter.
The next stage, she supposed, happened in small steps. She had barely begun to notice the pattern before it had happened to her. At twenty years old, she was working in the Department of Mysteries. At twenty-one she was well on her way to working herself up the ranks, already as a Junior Unspeakable. It would have been a few more years before she was given the rank of Unspeakable at all.
But that was before the Ministry started dismissing muggleborns in any positions that were high up. They didn’t give any official reasoning, just giving the standard “failure to meet guidelines” or other garbage they came up to justify why they were doing so. It was absolute shite. It was their way, the Death Eater’s way, of officially making sure muggleborns were kept in their place; well below purebloods, and even half-bloods.
She didn’t blame the faction of muggleborns that rebelled afterwards. How could she, when all she wanted to do was join them on the streets. All she wanted to do was protest loudly, hoping someone would finally hear them.
She wasn’t allowed to give her parents their memory back, not unless she was also oblivated and joined them in the muggle world. She wasn’t allowed to work. She wasn’t allowed to speak out, and let her voice be heard, because no one was listening. Or perhaps they just didn’t care. That’s what happens, she supposed, when the majority of Wizengamot seats were held by former Death Eaters, who despite what they claimed, still very much believed in blood purity, and making sure those they believed were below them stayed in their place.
It was why a few of them started riots on the streets. And when the Aurors were dispatched, it led to a bloody battle. And while the number of muggleborns that were killed, despite how high it was, it was insignificant. Not when the number of pure and halfblood deaths were in the double digits.
Not when the wizarding world was already facing so many losses to their numbers.
It was why the Wizengamot had pushed the emergency legislation to make it such that Aurors had the power to arrest anyone they believed to be conspiring to ruin the peace, especially when they used fear mongering that they would expose them to the muggle world, when the muggles eventually noticed the blasts each day, and the other acts of terror the muggleborns and rebelling factions were accused of.
The only jobs available were jobs she never would have dreamed of holding as a child. The jobs were the lowest of the low; cleaning wizards, wizards who were essentially no more than house-elves, working for families, for less than a galleon a day, well beyond any sort of minimum wage that was needed to survive. They got jobs which magic easily could be used to complete, but they were not allowed to use to earn their keep. And those were the ones that were pleasant. Of course, if any muggleborns wanted to make more, they could always serve as a personal whore for any of those of worthy statuses. And it broke her heart how many of them turned to that option, just hoping to make enough to survive.
It was meant to drive them out. To drive out anyone without any wizarding family or name to fall back on. For people like her who did not have a vault in Gringotts full of a fortune left to her by generations of family before her. To show her that she did not belong in this new world, of what was essentially slavery.
Ron had offered to marry her, trying to be helpful, for it would mean that she could use the Weasley name to try and sustain herself, but she refused. She loved her friend too much to make him give up a life of genuine happiness with someone he would actually love.
It didn’t turn into a war until a few months later, when the newest law was passed. One which prevented muggleborns from entering the wizarding world all together. They had claimed muggleborns to be too dangerous to their fragile society, citing the recent examples of muggleborns just trying to make sure they had the bare minimum resources to survive. Muggleborns were all but slaves to their pureblood counterparts, working for their amusement.
She wanted to leave it all behind, to go to the muggle world and give up. But her friends wouldn’t let her. The Order wouldn’t let her. Because it wasn’t just muggleborns who had a lot to lose in this war. It was the entire wizarding world. There was already such a low population, and with all the inbreeding that would occur without new additions of blood into old lines, or even just marrying those of lesser statuses, the wizarding world would die out. Maybe not now, or in a decade, but easily within a few generations.
So, they fought. They fought back every day, for the last year. But if anything, they were losing more and more ground every day. Those muggleborns that remained were now being paid mot with money, but with housing and food, despite the living conditions being deplorable, and were facing malnutrition.
And anyone, even of being suspected of being a threat to the peace, was immediately locked up. Or so they claimed. Hermione was pretty sure they were just being Avada-ed and their bodies vanished.
Voldemort may have devastated the wizarding world, but it was the actions of his Death Eaters using politics and dirty tricks which they never would recover from. Even now, she feared it was too late.
They had already suffered so many losses, fighting each day, and honestly, Hermione was surprised they had lasted anywhere near as long as they did.
They had lost so many people they cared about in such a short time. Those who had survived Voldemort’s reign, had all but fallen during this new supremacy state of government.
She had lost Andromeda, Teddy, as he was the son of a halfbreed, Kingsley, who she was pretty sure was killed in a political assassination before this all began, McGonagall who had been very vocal about her displeasure of this all, and so many others she had considered to be family.
But what had hurt the most, was Ron. It still broke her heart, just thinking about it, seeing his body sprawled out on the ground, broken and mangled. All because he had disagreed with the Ministry. All because he was fighting for people like her.
In the end, it wasn’t about her anyways. It was about pureblood supremacists believing they were at the top, and at the end of the day the rest of them were below them.
She wanted to believe that they had a chance to fight against this. That they would be able to recover.
But she knew it was too late. The point of no return was that battle of May 1998. On that day, they could have gone two different ways. They could have saved the world, and tried to heal and recover. Or they could have gone down the path they did now.
“You don’t have to do this, Hermione,” she heard a voice call to her, and she was broken out of the rumination she was in.
She looked up at Harry, watching him limp through the room, as she felt her throat tighten. She stood in front of the cauldron, which was bubbling a vivid green colour, as it waited on its final ingredients.
“You and I both know that we need to, Harry,” she said softly, “The war is all but over. There’s no one left to fight against this. It’s just us now. And when we’re gone, there’s no one to oppose this new world we’re living in. There’s no one who will fight the injustice. They’re all dead, or have given up. We can’t give up not. Not when we fought for so long against this. Not when we all know that none of us, wizarding population alike, will survive if we go down this current path.”
“I know,” Harry let out a deep sigh, as he ran his hand through his hair. “I know. I just wish it didn’t have to come to this.”
“It should be you, you know,” she said softly, looking up at him. “It’s your family. It’s not fair for me to go back, and live among them. Not when you never had to chance to grow up with your parents.”
He smiled at her, in a heartbreaking kind of way, “I don’t know if I could. How do I live among my father and his friends, knowing the things that I do? How do I see Peter Pettigrew every day, and not kill him on the spot for the things he did to my parents, and to Sirius and Remus? I can’t do it, Hermione. We both know my emotions would get in the way, and ruin the entire mission. But you’ve always been the logical one. The one who could see pat things like that and do what needed to be done when it came down to it. You need to be the one who goes back and changes the past.”
“I know,” she said, looking down, filled with pain and with dread. It wasn’t an easy decision to come to, that they only solution would be to go back in time and change the outcome of the war. To stop the things that had happened from happening. It wasn’t enough to go back to May 1998, for the seed of hate was already deeply imbued, and the damage of the war was too much to recover from. No, they needed to go back even further, to the time of the height of Voldemort’s power, during the first world war, and stop it then itself.
“All that’s missing is the drops of blood, to tie us to the families we will be returning to,” Hermione murmured. “You could have cast it too, you know. Your grandmother was a Black.”
“I know,” he said. “But it won’t be my blood we’re using. Are you sure that he’s the right choice for this? After everything that’s happened?”
She looked up, to see Harry gesturing to Draco Malfoy, who was entering the room, holding the knife they needed to cut their hands.
“Still having doubts, Potter?” Malfoy drawled, looking more annoyed than anything else. “For Salazar’s sake, Potter. We both know why I’m going back. We both know I’ve been on your side fighting against my Father and his regime for the better part of this war.”
“What if you’re a spy?” Harry snapped. “What if you’re the one who has been reporting to your father this entire time. What if this is your attempt to sabotage the last chance we have of saving us all?”
“You wouldn’t even have this bloody ritual if it weren’t for me!” Malfoy spat. “I’m the one who got it for you from the Black family library! It’s my family magic that will allow it to work! We both know I am not a spy for my father! Not after Bellatrix killed my mother for telling Voldmort you were not dead in that forest. Not after my father stood back and watched it, only saying he was glad to be rid of a traitor after it was over. I want nothing to do with my father, Potter.”
“We know,” Hermione said quickly, giving Harry a dirty look. It would do no good to alienate Malfoy now. He was right, he was the one who brought the ritual to them. He was the one who had suggested it. He was the one who fought by her side in their battles of rebellion against his father’s system. She may not like him, but she trusted he was on their side.
“We should cast this soon,” Malfoy said glancing around the room. “It’s only a matter of time before they track us to this location. And if they do before we’re gone, it’s over. This is our only chance of casting it.”
“Did you decide which side of your family you’re returning to?” Hermione asked him softly. It was different for her, she didn’t have a non-extinct pureblood family line to return to. It was why she and Harry had performed a blood ritual earlier, one which allowed her to be formally adopted into the Potter family. It wasn’t an uncommon ritual, often used by pureblood families to adopt children into their family, to be able to maintain their bloodlines and purity. So for all intents and purposes, Hermione was a Potter. Which she would need to be, for the ritual to work, and for her to be sent back to the Potter family as their daughter.
“The Blacks,” Draco said quietly. “My father is beyond saving. I don’t think anything will sway him from the path he chose. But as a Black I can save more people. I can stop my mother from marrying him. I can stop the tragic fate of the Black family from dying out as they did.”
Hermione nodded, agreeing with his choice. It would be easier too, given that Draco’s future (or past, she supposed) cousin, Sirius, would be the best friend of her soon to be brother. They would need to communicate, and the simpler the lie, the better.
She thought about it, how insane it was, when Malfoy had found but dismissed thoughts of the ritual. But how she and Harry had fought for it, knowing it was their only chance.
“So what,” Malfoy had said, incredulously. The offer for the ritual was a long shot, never meant to actually come to pass. And it was clear that Malfoy could not believe that she and Harry actually going along with the plan. “We just go back to 1972 and wait around for a decade for Voldemort to try and kill your boyfriend’s parents?”
Hermione rolled her eyes, not bothering to rise to the taunt. She knew he was more scared than anything else.
“No, we be smart. The war ended in 1981, but it reached its peak in the 1970s. It was when Voldemort rallied his followers, half of whom are causing the damage out there right now. So, we be smart, we gain friendships and alliances, making sure he doesn’t get half the support he did have the first time. We make sure he doesn’t get half the political advantage he had. Obviously, the only thing that will bring him down is making sure his horcruxes are destroyed. And while not all of those are created, the ones that already have been made will not be in circulation until the late 1970s when everyone has made their stance already. So, we use the beginning to make sure his numbers never reach what they were. We make sure certain friendships are never severed, and make sure others are exposed for the lies they are. And we make sure when Voldemort goes down, this time for good, so do his Death Eaters.”
“It’s time,” Harry said, looking out the window, and Hermione sensed the wards around the place slowly being breached.
“You know,” Hermione said with a watery laugh, looking at her friend. “If this works, the next time I see you, I’ll be your aunt.”
And it was true. If she succeeded, and Voldmort fell before James and Lily died, she would see Harry the next time when he was born in 1980.
There was no coming back from this; she would be there to stay, alongside Malfoy. And it should have hurt her more, knowing she would be losing her best friend. But they would all be dead if she stayed, and it drove her forward.
“I’m sure you’ll be my favourite Aunt,” Harry smiled, hugging her tightly. “I believe in you, Hermione. If anyone can succeed at this brilliant and completely insane plan, it would be you.”
She nodded, unable to say anything else. When she pulled away, she saw Malfoy handing her the blade which had been in his family for many generations. The very knife that had carved those horrid words into her skin. If she succeeded and they went back, she knew the words would be removed from her body.
She took the knife gingerly, and sliced her palm, pouring a few drops of blood into the boiling cauldron.
Malfoy took the knife from her and started to cut his pale while palm.
“Hurry,” Harry urged, “The wards are nearly down. They’ll be inside the building any minute now.”
She heard the walls beginning to rattle, and she knew that the Aurors would be inside the building soon, and if she was still there when they came in, it would mean their instant death.
He took his hand and poured his blood into the cauldron.
She pressed her cut palm to Malfoy’s, and closed her eyes.
“Tergum in Tempus,” she chanted, as Malfoy chanted simultaneously. She felt the magic begin to circle around her, encompassing her. She repeated the words, as she saw golden strands begin to circle them both.
She heard a loud bang, as the door was blasted open, Aurors filling into the room, wands pointed at them. She was grateful for the brief moment of surprise on their faces, unsure of what to make of the scene in front of them. But once they came to, it was too late. Hermione and Draco had gone back to 1972, and hopefully this time, things would go far differently. The fate of the Wizarding world depended on it.