Hermione Granger adjusted the strap of her school bag to alleviate the pressure on her shoulders. She had just finished double Arithmancy and was looking forward to a nice quiet evening with Harry and Ron. She thought their fifth year had been tough, but as it turned out, it was mere child’s play in comparison to their seventh. She trudged up the long staircase on her way to Gryffindor tower when she felt the familiar lurch that signaled a moving staircase.
Hermione groaned. She was too tired to play with the staircases tonight. She hurried up the staircase she was on and turned to make her way up the left one, but it shifted just as she was about to jump on. With an exasperated sigh she turned right. At the top of this staircase the same thing happened and at the top of the next it happened again. Finally, Hermione was staring at a door at what she thought was the seventh floor. She was about to turn and make her way back down the staircase she had just come up when it moved away. She had no choice but to go through the door. She opened the door and glimpsed down a long corridor, with another door at the end. An overwhelming sense of curiosity gripped her.
“I think Harry and Ron have been a bad influence on me,” she muttered to herself as she made her way down to the end of the corridor. Over the door was writing in a language she couldn’t make out. Tsap strawgoh seil rood siht hguorht. She opened the door cautiously but could see nothing past its black expanse. “Lumos,” she whispered and immediately her wand lit. She held out her wand in front of her and stepped into the room. All at once the door slammed behind her and her wand went out and Hermione knew no more.
Hermione felt rather than saw a presence standing over her. She jerked her head up and collided with something hard. “Ow!” a voice cried. Hermione blinked against the stars in her eyes and glimpsed a black haired bespectacled boy, sprawled on his back side a few feet in front of her.
“Harry, you scared me half to death. What do you mean by standing over me like that?” Hermione rubbed her forehead where she felt the beginnings of a lump.
“I was trying to figure out if you were ok,” came back an unfamiliar voice. “And my names not Harry. It’s James, James Potter.”
“James,” Hermione whispered in awe. She jumped to her feet, her whole body tingling with fright. “It can’t be.” She immediately regretted standing up so fast. Her head was spinning. James jumped to his feet too steadying Hermione.
“Are you ok?” He asked.
“Yeah,” she replied. “I think so.”
“I don’t mean to be rude or anything, but who are you?”
“My name’s Hermione Gr..., uh Hermione,” she finished lamely. If this was really James Potter, Hermione knew she would have to be careful what she said. She racked her brain, but even with all the information she had crammed into it, she was at a loss to explain what was going on. She needed help.
“You’re wearing Gryffindor robes,” observed James.
Hermione glanced down at herself and pulled at her collar uncomfortably. “Umm… Yeah I…” Panic began to well up in Hermione and she began to have trouble breathing.
“Maybe I should take you to the hospital wing,” James said, noticing how pale she was getting.
“No, I’m ok,” she said, she said taking a deep breath. And then like a bolt of lightning a thought struck her. “Dumbledore, I need to see Dumbledore.”
“Ok, I’ll take you.” James took Hermione’s arm and walked her down the corridor. They reached the entrance to the Headmaster’s office and James said, “Fizzing Whizbee’s.”
As they reached his office they spotted Dumbledore sitting at a desk looking over a stack of parchment. He selected a lemon drop from a dish in front of him and popped it in his mouth.
“Excuse me, professor.”
Dumbledore looked up smiling, “Yes, Mr. Potter.”
James led Hermione into the room. “This is Hermione,” he began. “I found her upstairs.”
If Dumbledore was surprised he didn’t show it. He regarded Hermione seriously. “Are you visiting a student here? I wasn’t aware that anyone was having any visitors this week.”
“No, um… I… could I speak to you privately, sir?” Hermione asked timidly shooting a sideways glance at James.
Taking the hint, James moved toward the door, “I’ll just wait outside,” he said.
“Thank you, Mr. Potter.” Dumbledore said. “Please close the door.”
Hermione waited until the door closed then gripped the edges of the Headmaster’s desk. “Sir, I need your help.” She was beginning to feel panic rising up her body.
He nodded, “please sit.” He said waving his wand and literally drawing up a chair. She sat and he waited.
“I don’t know where to begin,” she said.
“It is generally best to start at the beginning.”
She took a deep breath and told Dumbledore everything she could remember. Dumbledore didn’t say anything for a few minutes. He was quiet so long that Hermione burst out. “You do believe me, don’t you professor?”
“I do,” he said simply. Hermione must have looked taken aback because he continued. “I am a sufficiently accomplished Legilimens. I would be able to tell if you were lying.”
“Oh please sir, how am I supposed to get back?” She asked.
“Well that is the question. I will have to give it some serious thought. Until then…”
“You mean you don’t know how to send me back,” Hermione interrupted.
“I’m afraid not, Miss…”
“Miss Granger. Until I can find a way to send you back, you’ll have to stay here. I see that you’re a Gryffindor,” he said pointing at her robe. “I’ll explain your situation to your Head of House, Professor McGonagall and have Mr. Potter escort you to Gryffindor tower.”
This wasn’t at all what Hermione wanted to hear. She was so certain that Dumbledore would be able to send her back to her own time. “One more thing Miss Granger. Please do not discuss your situation with anyone else. It would be best if the students believed you were an exchange student to avoid awkward questions.”
“Yes sir.” Hermione said.
Dumbledore stood up. “Please don’t worry, Miss Granger. Everything will be all right. Just keep in mind that even the smallest information about the future told to the wrong person could change things. You must be careful.”
“I understand, sir.”
Meanwhile outside of Dumbledore’s office, James leaned casually against the wall hoping to catch a bit of information. He wasn’t really a malicious eavesdropper. He just had an overabundant sense of curiosity. It was a family characteristic and it is certain that James wouldn’t be the last Potter afflicted with it.
He wasn’t having much luck with his latest covert operation. He inclined his head more toward the door and listened intently. He didn’t notice the three boys who strolled around the corner and quietly crept up on him.
“What ya doing, James,” said the tallest boy loudly.
James jumped and whirled around. “Sirius, you scared the hell out of me,” James shouted. The three boys snickered.
“Well, what are you doing skulking around Dumbledore’s office?” Sirius asked.
“I was waiting for someone.”
“Who?” Asked the short round boy called Peter.
“Just some girl,” James mumbled going red in the face.
“Oooh, don’t tell Lily,” giggled Peter.
“Shut it,” said James and all the boys snickered again. “It’s not like that. She’s new or something. I found her upstairs unconscious and brought her to Dumbledore.”
The rest of the boy’s curiosity was peaked, but before they could ask further questions the door to Dumbledore’s office opened.
“Ah, Mr. Potter, Mr. Black, Mr. Lupin, and Mr. Pettigrew. Seeing as you’re all here, I wonder if you wouldn’t mind escorting Miss Granger to Gryffindor tower. She will be staying with us for awhile as a visiting exchange student in the seventh year dormitories.”
“Yes, sir,” the boys said eagerly. They were all curious about this new girl.
“And please see that she makes it to dinner as well.” Professor Dumbledore said. “Oh and Mr. Lupin, please meet me in front of my office after dinner.”
“Yes, sir,” said a slight brown haired boy who looked a bit pale.
Hermione turned and looked at Remus Lupin and was startled to see a younger version of one of her favorite professors. His face was smooth, but pale and his robes weren’t ragged. She caught his eye and smiled shyly. He averted his gaze with a pained expression on his face. Hermione was willing to bet that there was a full moon tonight. A covert grin between James and the boy who she knew had to be Sirius confirmed her suspicion.
Hermione was beginning to feel excited. It might be cool to hang out with Harry’s dad and Godfather for a bit. She could report back to Harry everything she found out when she got back to her own time. ‘If you get back,’ a nagging voice in the back of her brain said.
When they reached the Gryffindor common room, James stood at the bottom of the girls stairway and bellowed, “Lily, come down here.” A beautiful girl with dark auburn hair and striking green eyes, Harry’s eyes, came bounding down the staircase.
“My God James, do you have to shout like that every time you want me to come down?”
“Yes,” said James simply. “The last time I tried to get you myself that staircase pitched me back down.”
The three boys and Lily snickered and even Hermione had to grin remembering a time two years ago when Ron had tried the exact same thing.
“We wanted to introduce you to Hermione. She’s an exchange student from…”
“Beauxbaton,” Hermione said, providing the first name that came into her head.
“She’s a seventh year like us so she’ll be staying in your dorm room.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” said Lily extending her hand.
“Nice to meet you too,” Hermione returned, shaking the offered hand.
“Hadn’t we ought to be heading for dinner,” piped up Peter.
“Yeah, I’m starved,” said Sirius, clapping Peter on the back and leading the way out the door. James took Lily’s hand and the two followed leaving Hermione to walk with Remus.
“So, you’re from Beauxbaton?” Remus asked.
“You don’t sound French.”
“I’m not. I’m English. Born just outside of London.”
“Then why were you going to Beauxbaton?”
Hermione thought quickly. “My mother is friends with the headmistress.”
“Oh.” They walked in silence for awhile. “So umm…” Remus stuttered. “What classes are you taking?”
Hermione grinned. “Practically all of them. Everything except Divination and Muggle Studies.”
“Really,” said Remus smiling for the first time? “Same here. Which is your favorite?”
“That’s easy, Arithmancy.”
“The hardest,” he said admiringly. “Mine’s Defense against the Dark Arts.” They reached the dining hall and sat without skipping a beat in their conversation. “What made you decide not to take Divination and Muggle Studies?” Remus asked.
“I did try them during my third year, but the schedule was so overwhelming that I dropped them. Besides,” continued Hermione, not wanting to sound lazy. “Our Divination teacher was a bit of an old fraud and since I’m Muggle born, Muggle Studies was a bit unnecessary.”
“Muggle born?” Remus questioned. “I thought you said your mum was old friends with the Headmistress of Beauxbaton.”
Hermione reddened. ‘Damn it,’ she thought. ‘I’m going to have to keep all the lies straight in my head.’ “She was,” she said slowly. “I meant I’m half Muggle. My dad’s a Muggle.”
“Oh.” Remus wasn’t convinced, ‘but perhaps,’ he thought ‘she has a secret.’ And he himself was no stranger to secrets.
Dinner went on uneventfully mostly because Hermione was enjoying listening to the four marauders laughing and joking and generally trying to amuse Lily and herself. At the end of dinner Remus got up and mumbled that he had to meet Dumbledore. As he walked past, James grabbed his arm and whispered, “see ya later, Moony.” Remus returned the grin and strolled out of the Dining Hall. Peter, Sirius, and James hurriedly finished their pie and got up almost in unison and practically ran out of the Dining Hall. Lily turned to Hermione and smiled shyly, “shall we go up,” she asked. Hermione nodded, feeling thoroughly exhausted from the long eventful day.
The next morning Hermione woke to find clean robes at the foot of her bed. She and Lily dressed and went down to breakfast. James, Sirius, and Peter were staring bleary eyed at their breakfast, none of them eating very much. Lily took the available seat next to James and Hermione sat next to Peter.
For the first time Hermione looked closely at the marauders. She had seen pictures of Harry’s father, but they really didn’t do him justice. She now completely understood why everyone who was introduced to Harry commented on how much he looked like his father. The resemblance was striking. Even the way he carried himself reminded her of Harry.
Sirius was somewhat different than what she would have expected. There was no trace of the deadened expression twelve years in Azkaban had left in his eyes. The seventeen–year-old Sirius reminded Hermione of Bill Weasley in the way that he seemed to just radiate coolness. The younger Sirius, though it caused her to blush to think it, was extremely handsome.
Peter was another surprise. Though she had only seen him for an hour or so during her third year, she could still recollect every feature. The boy sitting in front of her didn’t have the sunken terrified look of his future self. He looked young and small. About the only thing that remained the same was the slightly elongated nose. She wondered what choices he would make in the next few years that would turn him into a traitor and murderer. The boy in front of her didn’t look like he had the nerve to kill a fly.
As they were eating, the mail arrived in usual Hogwart’s fashion. Hermione was surprised when a tawny owl landed in front of her. She took the note tied to the owl’s leg and read:
Please accompany your fellow Gryffindor seventh years to Charms and Potions today. Copies of your needed texts are in your dorm room. As we don’t know how long you will be staying with us, please provide me with a complete list of the classes you are taking and I will see that you get all the appropriate materials.
Professor A. Dumbledore.
Hermione turned to see Sirius glancing at the parchment. She quickly folded it over and said, “can I borrow a quill?” Sirius pulled one out of his bag and handed it to her with a smile. Hermione thanked him thinking what a different smile it was from the one she remembered. The smile she remembered never quite reached his eyes. A small chill ran through her when she remembered that in her time James and Sirius were dead, Peter was a murderer and Remus was a mere shell of a man. She shook the unpleasant thoughts from her head and drank the last bit of her orange juice and stood up to go. She had to go back to the dorm room to get her books. “See you guys in Charms,” she said as she ran off.
“But you don’t even know where it is,” Lily called to her retreating back.
“She seems nice,” Sirius said to Lily once Hermione had gone.
“She is,” answered Lily. “I like her already. I thought we could invite her to hang out with us at Hogsmeade tomorrow.”
“I don’t know Lily,” said James. “We have to be careful who we let hang out with us. Anyway, Remus will be back and he’s usually tired after.”
“You worry too much,” Sirius said. “She’s kinda cute, even if her hair is a bit mad. I wouldn’t mind taking a stroll with her through Hogsmeade.”
“I’m not worried,” said James. “I just have a weird feeling about her. She was just lying in the middle of the floor when I found her and why would she all of a sudden transfer to Hogwarts. It doesn’t make any sense.”
“I don’t care,” said Lily. “I’m going to ask her and if you guys don’t want to join us, then fine.
Sirius laughed. “Yeah right, like James will be able to spend a whole day away from you.” James punched him in the shoulder and the four friends got up and went to Charms.
The day went fairly smoothly. Hermione was beginning to feel comfortable around the Marauders and Lily. Harry’s mother was one of the kindest people Hermione had ever met.
Remus never made it to any classes that day. When he finally did come back to Gryffindor tower, Hermione was the only one left in the common room. She was trying to finish a three roll essay for Potions.
“Hi,” said Hermione.
“Hi,” said Remus.
“You look tired.”
“I’m ok,” he said. “What are you doing up so late?”
“My potions essay. It’s due Monday.”
“Don’t remind me. I haven’t even started.” He said flopping down on the couch.
“I could help you with it later,” Hermione offered.
“We can work on it tomorrow night if you want. Right now I think you ought to go to bed.”
“I’m ok,” he said through a yawn. “I’ll keep you company until you go up.”
“Suit yourself,” said Hermione smiling and returning to her essay. A few minutes later she glanced up and saw Remus stretched out on the couch fast asleep. She stood up and grabbed a throw that was lying on an armchair near the fire. She draped it over him pulling it up to just under his chin. As she did this, her hand brushed his cheek. It was soft and smooth. She sat back in her chair staring at him. She wondered if the lines that seemed to define the face of his older self were the results of years of living as a werewolf or the trauma of losing his three best friends in the span of twenty-four hours.
Hermione gathered all her books and rolls of parchment and went up to bed, but didn’t fall asleep right away. She lay in bed wide awake for hours. Mostly she thought about Harry. In the year and a half since Sirius had died he had been a different person. She and Ron had had many conversations about the change in him but any time they tried to talk to him about it he changed the subject or denied anything was wrong.
Another change, even more alarming than his depressed moods, was his sudden academic drive. Hermione could remember when she would have to nag both boys into doing their homework. Now, Harry approached schoolwork with a zeal that surpassed even Hermione’s, especially in Defense against the Dark Arts. He was studying things no other Hogwarts student studied. He had even surpassed some of their professors in his knowledge of the subject.
Once during a summer stay at the Weasley’s after their sixth year, Ron and Hermione heard Mrs. Weasley remark to her husband that Harry had seemed to have left his childhood behind in the Department of Mysteries.
Lying in her bed, Hermione cried thinking of all her best friend had suffered and all her new friends would suffer and for the first time she began to contemplate the possibility of stopping the horror before it happened.