Chapter 1: 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.
Chapter 2: Chapter One
Being pushed through her mother's birth canal out into the world was extremely disconcerting. It took Hermione several panicked moments to get her bearings, and then she really wished she hadn't.
At least the hourglass had worked, she comforted herself, as she closed her eyes and tried not to think about what was happening. Feeling cold air on her bare, wrinkled, overheated skin, she opened her eyes again as her infant body was handed to a nurse so she could be cleaned then swaddled.
Her parents cradling her in their arms, looking down at her with adoring eyes, made her feel a touch on the guilty side because Helen and Richard Granger thought they had just created an innocent, perfect little baby girl. Instead, they had a thirty-two year old woman trapped in the body of an infant. Hermione comforted herself with the thought that she would charm their minds so they'd decide to have another baby so they could have the child they wanted and deserved.
After all, Helen and Richard hadn't been awful parents. A touch on the absentee side, yes, but not awful.
Being an infant was very trying of Hermione's patience. Being an infant meant she couldn't talk, she couldn't consume anything other then her mother's breast milk for months (the less said about that the better), she couldn't control any of her fine motor skills...
Practicing her wandless magic was her only salvation. While her body had been reduced to horrifically meager levels, her magic levels were just as powerful as they had always been, and learning wandless, wordless magic became a way to pass the hours and hours, days and days, weeks and weeks (and months and months) of inhabiting the useless body. Well, that and sleeping.
By the time she was two months old, she'd managed to confund both her parents into thinking they wanted another child, and the twins Emilia and Paulina (her mother really, really adored 'A Winter's Tale') were born, a mere eleven months after her own birth. Her parents now busy caring for the newborn twins gave Hermione the privacy she needed to practice writing until she was able to create a fairly eligible script.
By the time she was two, Helen and Richard had grown aware of their eldest daughter's higher then average intelligence for a child her age, and they started hiring private tutors for her, thinking she was too young for school, but not wanting to let her talent go to waste. This made the time passing slightly more bearable (or, at least, she tried to convince herself that while being taught lower primary school level division), and on occasion her two bushy-haired baby sisters made her smile.
As her third birthday drew nearer, Hermione became aware of the fact that Halloween was approaching- no, not just any Halloween, The Halloween.
Now able to write a perfectly eligible letter, Hermione wrote an Owl Order form and (thanking Merlin, Morpheus and Morgana that a two, almost three-year-old owl was bigger then a two, almost three-year-old child) used her owl animagus form to fly to Diagon Alley, hitching a ride atop a bus for a majority of the way as her weak muscles simply weren't used to the exercise.
The return flight was just as hard, and she near about fell into a coma she slept so deeply all day the following day, but her efforts had paid off and an owl arrived outside her window the next evening, delivering her Aging Potion.
Having the body of a witch in her twenties was incredibly refreshing, and Hermione easily navigated her way to the Leaky Cauldron. The atmosphere in Diagon Alley was tense, and Hermione worked quickly, using money she had gradually been stealing from Helen and Richard's purse and wallet to buy all the ingredients she needed for her plan to work, as well as a second-hand wand from Knockturn Alley and all the Aging Potion she could afford (it was much more time efficient buying it pre-prepared, then to make it on her own).
She was slightly perturbed to run into a much younger Severus Snape in the Apothecary, and tried not to think about the last time she saw him, bleeding to death from Nagini's fangs, with the memories spelling Harry's death.
As she turned away from him her eyes stung with tears. Curse Lily Potter for being such a- a- a bitch! If she'd forgiven Snape, back in their fifth year, maybe he wouldn't have been driven to being a Death Eater. Maybe then he wouldn't have overheard that blasted prophecy and taken it to Voldemort. Maybe Harry wouldn't have been hunted down like a dog by a crazed, mass-murdering sociopath all his life. Maybe she wouldn't have had to kill her first and best friend, after watching the love of her life burn to death. Maybe everything could have been different.
Maybe, maybe, maybe.
She couldn't do anything to change that, though. What she could do, what she was doing, was her best to change everything she could, here and now.
She booked a room in the Leaky Cauldron and, knowing the wandless charms she cast on her parents would ensure they wouldn't look for her at least for the next twenty-four hours, started brewing.
With her treasured prize, an exhausted but triumphant Hermione apparated back to her house and buried the phials in the garden, after casting several charms over them to preserve and protect them.
Halloween drew closer, and as it did, Hermione's nerves grew and her temper shortened.
A week before the 'big day', Hermione tracked down Peter Pettigrew and held him under the Cruciatus Curse until he gave up the location of the Potters, as their house was under the Fidelius. It took less then a minute for the rat to squeal, though another few minutes after that for Hermione to let up on the curse, and she wiped the traitor's mind afterwards.
The day of Halloween, Hermione entered the Potters home, briefly dueled first James then Lily, subduing and stunning them both before pouring the potions she'd brewed down their throats.
The potion was one of her own creations, the one she'd used for her Potion's Mastery- a potion that protected against the magic of the Unforgiveables. The magic of the Unforgiveable curses was... complicated, but they all had the same base line, as did several of the Darker curses, and it was that she had capitulated upon. The effects would last seventy-two hours. When Voldemort came tonight, the Killing Curse would see Lily and James on the ground, unconscious, but alive.
Hermione wiped both their memories of her invasion and attack, and transformed into her cat form, curling up in the backyard, up a tree, hidden but watching (occasionally having to change back to top up on the Aging Potion).
Everything played out like Harry had once described it to her. James told Lily to grab Harry and run. He tried to duel Voldemort and was felled by the sickly green curse. Lily begged for Harry's life, pleading for him to kill her instead. Voldemort ordered her to step aside, and when he agreed to kill her, he signed his death warrant.
Lily's sacrificial spell worked, and even as the red-haired witch fell, Hermione could basically feel the Ancient magic humming in the air. She wondered how Voldemort could possibly have missed it, fighting her every instinct as Voldemort pointed his wand at Harry and said the curse.
She forced herself to watch the jet of green rush at her best friend, unable to breathe until it rebounded, hitting Voldemort.
Part of the house exploded, and Hermione changed back to human form, knowing she had mere moments to act. She took Voldemort's wand, she edited James and Lily's memories, so they'd think Voldemort hit them with a stunning spell, not the Killing Curse, and then she apparated away.
Frank and Alice Longbottom hadn't hidden under a Fidelius, which meant finding them was far easier, and she didn't have to torture a Secret Keeper- this one presumably actually one of the 'good guys'- for the location. Hermione once again hid, this time under a Disillusionment spell, waiting for Bellatrix, Rabastan, Rodolphus and Barty Jr to arrive. They did, after eleven hours of waiting and four Aging Potion top-ups later, but she'd never known what time they attacked and tortured the Longbottoms into insanity, only that it had happened the day after Halloween.
The fight was over before it began, if you could even call it that. She was annoyed that Bellatrix wasn't present, but she didn't wait for the mad witch to arrive, not wanting to risk it. She hit them from behind, three quick cutting curses decapitating them all, making sure Rodolphus, the biggest threat, was first to die. Barty Jr, the last one she hit, had time to fire off one spell, which she neatly dodged, before his head rolled from his shoulders to the ground.
It was a simple matter to transfigure their bodies into bones, vanish the blood, and then she took the bones with her, apparating to the park near her house and throwing them in the sluggishly moving river.
Satisfied with her work, Hermione returned home to her parents, who were still under a spell to forget she existed, and went to sleep.
Chapter 3: Chapter Two
"Magic is real," Richard Granger said, weakly, looking up at the Scottish professor. Hermione tried not to smile as she took in the sight of Minerva McGonagall. The stern, black-haired witch was one of the few who had survived the Final Battle, and one of the even fewer Hermione had kept up correspondence with.
Like last time, it was Minerva who visited her and her parents to tell them what was happening. Hermione had, though, made a rather erroneous miscalculation. Because Minerva wasn't just coming for her- Emilia and Paulina were witches too, and because they'd been born only eleven months after Hermione, they'd be joining her at Hogwarts.
This had definitely not been Hermione's intention. In fact, she was rather miffed about it.
These last nine years had passed, in Hermione's opinion, rather slowly, and with only a moderate amount of success. The soul fragments in the Ring and Locket were destroyed, but all of the other Horcruxes lay frustratingly out of reach. Her research had uncovered that with both Lestrange brothers dead, Bellatrix, who was in Azkaban, was in control of the vault. When she died ownership would go to Sirius, which meant the easiest way to get the Cup would be to kill Bellatrix.
Hermione wanted to avoid bringing others into her hunt for Horcruxes, but it looked increasingly like that was going to be her only option, unless she planned on breaking into the bank again- not an idea she was a fan of. It would be much easier to accompany Sirius down to the vault and recover it.
The Diadem she would be able to retrieve when she arrived at Hogwarts, so she wasn't worried about that one. The Diary she suspected she'd have to wait until her second year, when Lucius gave it to Ginny, to retrieve, though if he didn't in this timeline, then she'd have to break into Malfoy Manor, something else she was hoping to avoid.
Finally, there was Harry. One of the first things she'd researched when she'd started in the Department of Mysteries was the process of removing Horcruxes from their 'soul jars' into other objects, a method which would have saved Harry's life. This was how she had the Ring and Slytherin's Locket still in one piece, and after Voldemort was permanently gone, she planned on either auctioning off all the Founders objects to the highest bidder or donating them to Hogwarts. To remove the Horcrux she would need to... well, knock Harry out and perform an incredibly complicated ritual and then wipe his memory after so he had no recollection.
"My daughters are witches?" Helen said, faintly, drawing Hermione from her thoughts, back into the present. Emilia and Paulina both looked mind-blown, and Hermione hoped that she looked similarly shocked.
Apparently she didn't, because Minerva turned to her, a bit surprised. "You don't seem very surprised, Miss Granger." She said.
"Please call me Hermione, ma'am, and I'm not," Hermione answered, truthfully. "I realised there was something... different about me a while ago. I researched what I could do, of course, and came up with the solution that there is some sort of mutation in my DNA strand, probably one shared by my relations. I admit the idea of a whole separate society never dawned on me, but I did suspect that I- and most likely my sisters- would be contacted by someone else who possessed the same DNA mutation one day."
"You knew?" Emilia asked, indignantly.
Emilia and Paulina were identical twins, and extremely close. If Hermione was actually twelve, she'd be jealous of the bond the two shared, but Hermione wasn't twelve, she was actually closer to forty-five.
The twins were shorter then her, both slightly round-faced with the same bushy hair as her, though theirs was cut to their chin, making it far more manageable. They also shared the same button noses and chocolate brown eyes the shape of almonds. Hermione's face was thinner, though, her eyes older, tired (haunted), and she kept her hair long, down past her shoulder blades.
"Yes," Hermione said, answering her sister.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Paulina asked, just as indignant as her twin.
"Well surely you noticed strange things happening around you when your emotions were running high," Hermione pointed out.
"Well, yeah, but-"
"But you didn't tell me." Hermione interrupted, "so I don't see how it's any different."
Paulina and Emilia both scowled at her, but Hermione was unperturbed, simply turning back to Minerva. "So, is Hogwarts the only Magical school?" she asked.
"It's the only Magical school in Britain," Minerva said, confirming what Hermione already knew, "there's several other schools across the globe, mostly smaller ones, though there are three other large schools like Hogwarts- one in Salem, America, one in the France Pyrenees and a third somewhere in Bulgaria."
"Somewhere?" Hermione raised an eyebrow.
"The location of Durmstrang is a closely guarded secret." Minerva said, with a slight smile, "they pride themselves on it."
"Well that's a rather ridiculous thing to take pride in." Hermione said, bluntly. Minerva's slight smile widened.
At this point, Helen and Richard seemed to get over their shock enough to start asking Minerva a hundred and one questions, and Hermione sat back, letting her parents and sisters speak.
Several times, Minerva glanced at her, and Hermione wondered if she should be showing more interest or excitement, but really, no expression she summoned would be genuine enough to pass under the sharp gaze of her old head of house.
Minerva organized with her parents for them all to meet at Charring Cross to take place in the Muggleborn orientation day, and Hermione retired to her bedroom, which she had placed several charms on so that her parents and sisters wouldn't bother her while she was in there.
She had been to Diagon Alley countless times since her return to the past, for both research and pleasure. For instance, she knew that Harry was growing up with his parents this time round, and that Lily and James had done an admirable job protecting him from the fame. Harry also had a brother, Holden, and a sister, Ivy. Holden, turning ten, would also be attending Hogwarts this year.
Holden's birth was a surprise to Hermione, but she supposed it shouldn't be. One gene varies, one neuron fires, one butterfly flaps its wings, and everything is completely different. Put simply, perhaps one night James and Lily got 'busy' that they hadn't before, some small decision was made differently, a sperm swam a different way, hitting the jackpot, and Holden Potter was conceived. While the Potters were in hiding with baby Harry, Sirius Black had been baby Holden's caretaker.
Speaking of the Marauders, Sirius Black and James Potter were Head Aurors, Lily Potter worked at St Mungos, and Hermione wasn't sure what Remus Lupin's job was currently. Pettigrew was 'enjoying' a nice, cozy cell in Casa de Azkaban.
She couldn't wait to cut Pettigrew's stay short. And cut a few other things of his while she was at it.
The orientation day went as planned. Emilia and Paulina quickly became friendly with Sally-Anne Perks and Sophie Roper, one a future Hufflepuff, and one a future Gryffindor, while Hermione walked ahead.
As they entered the apothecary, Hermione didn't bother hiding a smile. It was in that very apothecary that she'd first interacted with Severus Snape.
( "Have you ever considered just brewing it?" Hermione turned around sharply, hand moving automatically to her wand, to face an amused Severus Snape. Upon seeing and processing who it was, she relaxed, and gave her ex-Potion's professor a droll look.
"Do I look like an idiot?" she asked, enjoying the fact she could actually speak back to the dour Potions Master.
"No, but every time I see you in here, you're buying Aging Potion by the bulk." Snape pointed out. Snape didn't look as tired and bitter as he had in her time-line. Lily surviving that night meant the guilt he'd suffered wasn't there, and he seemed... happier. Hermione thought happiness suited him.
"Yes, but time-consuming." She pulled a face. "Much simpler to just buy it ready-made."
"I'm Severus," Snape introduced himself, and Hermione blinked, wondering what alternate world she'd fallen into where Snape was halfway sociable.
"I'm My." She replied to him, once she'd kicked her brain back into gear.
"My," Snape said thoughtfully, "Is that short for anything?"
"It's short for Mya," Hermione said, thinking of the awful nickname Emilia and Paulina had used for her when she was younger- she had dissuaded them from it sternly and strictly, "but that sounds like something a stripper would use." Snape snorted, looking amused.
"You must be a halfblood or muggleborn," he said, "no pureblood would ever be able to say something like that." Hermione couldn't help her grin.
She liked this Snape.
One meeting became two, and soon what felt like every time she visited the Apothecary Snape was there. She eventually learnt the reason for this was because he worked part-time there, supplying the potions, and the rest of his time researching, but she didn't really care why, only that he did.
At some point she stopped referring to him in her mind as 'Snape' and changed to 'Severus'. It was around that time that she asked him to go get coffee with her.
"So how old are you really?" he asked, when one coffee date became three. They were both well matched, Hermione had quickly discovered, both academics at heart, with a great love of potions and knowledge and learning. But especially potions.
"What makes you think this isn't my actual age?" countered Hermione.
"Because, My, I'm not a dunderheaded, brain-dead fool," Severus pointed out, "I see you drink it if we spend more then three hours together."
"Okay, so maybe I look younger then I am," admitted Hermione, "but my chronological age is in my late thirties, my body is just... far younger."
"I suppose asking how would be a waste?" Severus said, and Hermione nodded.
"Maybe one day," she told him, "but right now it's a secret I'm guarding with my life." Severus was astute enough to know she wasn't joking, and he never asked her again.
The first time they had sex was after he invited her out for dinner. They went back to his house afterwards, and Hermione was surprised to learn he lived in a muggle area, but then she became distracted.
She didn't spend the night, they both knew she wouldn't, as the potion would fade from her system as she slept, but she kissed him goodbye, and they arranged to meet up again.
And meet up again they did. After the time they'd known each other, the growing intimacy of their relationship seemed so natural that it barely changed their interactions at all, except now they kissed when they said goodbye.
When Hermione turned "seven", their relationship changed as Severus was hired as the Potions Master at Hogwarts. Now they wrote to each other, but could only see each other on the school holidays.
Hermione didn't mind, as when she started Hogwarts she knew she would be in the same boat and this way she didn't have to go thinking up excuses, but still, she found herself missing Severus, and looking forward to the time they spent together. )
Hermione pulled herself out of her memories as she quickly and proficiently stocked up her first year potion supplies, easily being the first to finish. After all, she knew this shop like the back of her hand- perhaps even better.
Wands came last. Hermione wasn't surprised by the twins' wands- both vinewood, with a unicorn tail hair core, both from the same unicorn. Twin wands, for twin girls.
Hermione was the last to get her wand. Unlike the others, who took around five to ten minutes, half an hour later Hermione was still in the shop, trying wand after wand. Somewhat to her surprise, her old wand had quickly made its way into the discarded pile.
Finally, sick of all the pomp and circumstance, Hermione held out her hand and felt with her magic for the pull of the wand that was hers. To say she was surprised by the wand that flew off the shelf and into her hand was... an understatement.
"Holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches." Ollivander said, eyeing her shrewdly, "not the wand I expected for you, Miss Granger."
"No," Hermione said, as she ran her fingers up and down the polished wood, feeling it warm under her touch, "I really can't say I was expecting it either." Of course, she'd used Voldemort's wand on more then one occasion, having collected it from the Potter's house that Halloween, and it had worked fairly well for her, better then the second-hand wand she more frequently used, but still...
"Good luck with your quest, Miss Granger." Ollivander said, quietly, making her wonder how much he knew, or had guessed. Hermione nodded at him, before leaving the shop, her confused parents trailing after her (a subtle confundus removed any confusion, and allowed her to avoid any questions about the strange encounter).
It was two months until September 1st, and Hermione spent a majority of her time either reading or with Severus. The relationship they shared was more then just sex, though the sex was also very good. They brewed together, debated magical topics together, she was teaching him Mermish and Gobbledegook, he was teaching her some of the more questionable, Darker magic, and they genuinely enjoyed each other's company.
It had taken years for Severus to open up to her about his past as a Death Eater. Hermione had pointed out that his trial was a matter of public record, and she already knew. She'd then proceeded to trail kisses from his faded Dark Mark, which he removed the glamour over, up his arm, along his jaw to his mouth, and they had some very satisfying sex.
After his revelation, their relationship moved to a new level and she began to open up to him. She told him about her best friends being killed in the War against Voldemort, which wasn't a lie, she just didn't correct his assumption that it was the recent War they'd died in; she told him about the deaths of her parents and how some nights she couldn't sleep, with guilt and sorrow strangling her, making it hard to breathe.
On August 31st, she and Severus said their goodbyes, with Severus leaving early September 1st. Hermione returned home, to where she was fully packed, and travelled with her parents to Kings Cross station.
She was finally off to Hogwarts.
Chapter 4: Chapter Three
Hermione said her farewells to Helen and Richard, and then boarded the train. She didn't bother waiting for Emilia and Paulina, knowing they weren't expecting her to anyway, and instead found a compartment.
The train set off, and they were around an hour into the drive when a young, messy-haired boy knocked on her compartment door. "Yes?" she said, surprised, opening the door.
She could instantly tell that this was one of the Potter boys. The lack of glasses and scar told her it wasn't Harry, though the shy disposition and deep green eyes was all Harry, all her best friend. The boy was wearing expensive looking robes and he was carrying a cage holding a speckled owl.
"Hi, can I sit with you?" the boy, who she assumed must be Holden, asked, shyly.
"Of course," Hermione nodded, and the grateful boy stepped in, closing the compartment door behind him. "I'm Hermione Granger."
"Um, I'm Holden," the boy introduced himself, blinking across at her with those deep green eyes. "Holden Potter."
"Well, hello Holden." Hermione told him. Holden blinked.
"You- you aren't going to ask me about my brother?" the boy asked, surprised.
"Harry Potter, I presume." Hermione said, and Holden nodded. "There's no need. If I want to find out, I'll go straight to the source." She shrugged, "but as it happens, I don't really care."
Oh but she did, she did care, she cared more then words could possibly describe...
"Oh," Holden said, looking like he'd cheered up exponentially, "well... that's certainly new. Everyone I meet wants to know all about Harry."
"I can imagine that gets tiring," Hermione agreed, before returning to her book.
Holden pulled out his own book, and they read in peace for a few hours, before the snack trolley arrived.
"Do you want anything?" Holden asked, and Hermione hummed thoughtfully.
"I'd like a sugar quill, please." Holden bought three licorice wands, four chocolate frogs and three sugar quills, before returning. He placed two chocolate frogs and the sugar quills beside her, and she smiled at him. "Thank you, Holden."
"You're welcome," Holden said, his cheeks going pink. "So, um, do you know which house you want to be in?"
"Well," Hermione said, as she licked her sugar quill, "I presume I'll end up in either Ravenclaw or Gryffindor, though I really wouldn't mind any of them."
"I'm worried I'll be sorted into Slytherin." Holden confessed, looking worried. "All Potters have been in Gryffindor, and I don't know what mum and dad will say if I don't go in there."
"Your grandmother Dorea Potter née Black was a Slytherin," pointed out Hermione, internally wincing as she quickly reflected it could perhaps be considered a touch creepy for her to know that, though thankfully Holden didn't seem to mind or comment on it (perhaps the ten-year-old hadn't even noticed it? He was awfully young, but her sisters had only just turned eleven so she supposed he wasn't that young), "and you can ask the Hat to place you in a specific house." She added.
"You can?" Holden asked, eyes widening.
"Oh yes, the Hat does take your choices into account." Hermione nodded. Holden looked relieved, and he gave her another shy smile.
"I hope we're in the same house."
"That would be pleasant." Hermione agreed. She unwrapped her chocolate frog, and was surprised by the card. "Your brother has a chocolate frog card?" she asked, thinking about how much her Harry would have hated this, "how... utterly inane." Holden laughed.
"Yeah," he agreed, "Harry's honestly a pretty good brother. He's not that into his fame, though he can be really pig-headed at times, and tends to not exactly think first."
"Sounds like he'll fit right in with Gryffindor then." Hermione said, amused, "the House of Curse-First-And-Ask-Questions-Later-If-There-Are-Any-Intelligible-Bits-Left."
"That is the most accurate description of Gryffindor I've ever heard." Holden laughed again.
The rest of the train ride passed in companionable silence. When they arrived at Hogwarts, Hermione and Holden walked next to each other to the boats, where they shared a ride with Susan Bones and Hannah Abbott.
Minerva greeted them in the Entrance Hall, and then led them into the Great Hall. All eyes were on them, and Hermione had to use a deep breathing exercise to calm herself down.
The sorting went the way she remembered it until it reached, "Granger, Emilia!"
Hermione watched as her sister, looking pale and nervous, made her way up to the stool. The Hat was barely on her head for fifteen seconds before it yelled out, "GRYFFINDOR!"
Hermione wasn't surprised when Paulina followed Emilia into Gryffindor, and then it was her turn.
Ignoring all the eyes on her, Hermione gracefully lowered herself into her seat, lowered her Occlumency shields and waited for the voice. "Oh my goodness," the expected small voice said, shocked, "this is unusual!"
"Hello Aethelred," Hermione greeted the Hat by its name, "I suppose this is a bit unusual."
"A bit?" Aethelred chuckled, "It's more then a bit- I've never sorted a time traveller before! I didn't even know it was possible- you really are a genius, aren't you?"
"I have been called one on more then one occasion," Hermione agreed quite easily.
"And selfless too... though not afraid to do what has to be done," Aethelred said, rifling through her memories, reliving her watching Voldemort cast the Killing Curse at an infant Harry, watching as she tortured Pettigrew and killed Rodolphus, Rabastan and Barty Jr from behind... "You could really fit in any of the Houses," the Hat told her, "you're definitely brave and noble enough for Gryffindor, the selfless way you've applied your entire being towards this, all for your friends to live the life they should have, even if you can't be part of it, is pure Helga... Ravenclaw, I believe, is self-explanatory, and Slytherin... well, your cunning seems to know no bounds, and you're certainly ambitious, wanting to change an entire future. I have no idea where to place you."
"Can I choose then?" Hermione asked.
"I believe that would be fair," Aethelred said, after a short, considering pause. "Where would you like to go, Hermione?"
"Well, I don't think I can face being in Gryffindor," Hermione admitted, "and being a muggleborn in Slytherin would make my life very hard. Which leaves Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw... honestly, I think I'll be left to myself more if I'm Sorted into Ravenclaw. Hufflepuffs would try to pull me out of my seclusion."
"Very well," Aethelred said, "RAVENCLAW! Good luck, Hermione," the Hat added.
"Thank you Aethelred," Hermione said, rising gracefully as passing the Sorting Hat back to Minerva before walking over to the Ravenclaw table. She greeted her housemates politely, and then turned back to the Sorting.
When "Potter, Harry!" was called, Hermione wasn't surprised by the whispers that filled the Hall, though she was a little surprised by the far more confident boy who walked over to the Hat.
This Harry was more filled out then her Harry- without years of malnourishment and growing up in a cupboard, he was a little taller and a little broader and the glasses he was wearing weren't stuck together with sticky-tape- Hermione was actually quite certain they were gold-framed. His messy hair looked the same as it did in her time-line, though, and so did his vibrant green eyes and his signature lightning bolt scar.
Like last time, Harry was under the Sorting Hat for approximately a minute and a half before it called out "GRYFFINDOR!"
The table of red and gold burst out into loud cheers, and the Weasley twins jumped up and shouted, "We got Potter! We got Potter!"
"Potter, Holden!" Was the next name called, and Hermione was a touch surprised by the way Holden's eyes turned to her. She gave him what she hoped was an encouraging smile, and the nervous boy walked up to the Hat. He sat down on the stool for maybe thirty seconds before Aethelred yelled,
A touch startled by the turn of events, Hermione moved across so Holden could sit next to her, and he gave her a shaky smile. "You were right," he said, after the Sorting was over, and Dumbledore had given his "speech" (Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!). "The Hat did let me choose."
"And you chose Ravenclaw, not Gryffindor?" Hermione asked, confused. Holden's cheeks went pink.
"Well, you're in Ravenclaw." He said, and Hermione was oddly touched.
Poor Holden had to answer everyone's questions as all their housemates started speaking to him about Harry, wanting to know everything from Harry's favorite food to his favorite color, and it took Hermione covering them both with a Notice-Me Not charm for them to turn their attention away.
"Mum casts this charm whenever we go outside," Holden told her, looking relieved that the questioning was over.
"Mm, it's a handy charm." Hermione nodded, and the two ate their dinner in relative peace.
After everyone had finished eating, Dumbledore made his announcement about the third floor corridor, and Hermione noted down to steal the Stone tomorrow, to make sure it was far out of reach of Voldemort.
After dinner, the prefects led the way the Ravenclaw Tower and demonstrated how to open the common room by answering a riddle.
The inside of the Ravenclaw Tower was really quite lovely. The room had a nice air flow, reminiscent of a nest. There were so many arched windows that one would feel as though they were outside. Of course there were bookcases filled to the brim everywhere; Hermione wouldn't be surprised if these books were rare and wouldn't be found in the Hogwarts library.
All the furniture in the Gryffindor common room was made of wood, but here it was all made of white marble, making it seem more like a place of worship then a den. Obviously there were bronze and blue banners hanging everywhere... though Ravenclaws weren't renowned for being proud, there was no doubt that they loved their house fiercely.
The Ravenclaw prefects, Penelope Clearwater and Joe Boot, had finished giving a short but concise introduction speech to the new Ravenclaw first years, and then Holden said goodnight to her and they all went to their dorm rooms.
Hermione was sharing a dorm room with Morag MacDougal, Padma Patil, Mandy Brocklehurst, Sue Li and Sabrina Fawcett. Morag, Sabrina and Mandy appeared to already know each other, and Hermione couldn't help but be reminded of Lavender and Parvati as the three girls talked and giggled and gossiped, while Parvati's twin Padma seemed quiet and happy to go straight to sleep, as did Sue Li.
Hermione fell asleep quickly, and slept without dreaming.
Chapter 5: Chapter Four
Stealing the Stone wasn't that difficult. Hermione completed that task before breakfast. Honestly, if Riddle wasn't such a coward, he wouldn't have had to wait around until June. There wasn't even the Mirror of Erised set up in the last room yet, instead the Stone was contained in a heavily warded pouch. It took her around twenty minutes to lift the wards long enough to replace the Stone with a replica, and then she turned into her owl form and flew back out of the chambers.
After locking the Stone in her heavily warded trunk (the wards were her own creation), Hermione met Holden down in the common room and accompanied him to breakfast. Filius was already handing out schedules, and the small professor gave an excited squeak as he gave Holden his. Holden looked a touch fed-up, and Hermione gave him an encouraging smile.
"Cheer up," she said, "they'll get used to you soon enough."
"At least I don't have it as bad as Harry," Holden agreed, after a considering pause. She smiled.
"Looking for the positive." She told him approvingly, "That's good." Holden looked pleased with her praise.
Their first week of classes passed the same way as Hermione remembered it, though the schedule was slightly different, seeing as she was in a different House. History of Magic was as dull and uninteresting as ever, she spent all of Defense Against the Dark Arts talking herself out of killing one of her professors (the last time she'd had to do this was in fifth year, with Umbridge), Astronomy and Herbology were tedious and Charms and Transfiguration were far too simple.
Even Potions failed to break the monotonous routine, though Hermione was gratified that Severus didn't appear to recognize her, nor did he try the same rotten trick with Holden as he had with Harry in her first year. She suspected that Holden wouldn't have had a problem answering any questions fired his way- except perhaps the Draught of Living Death one (the fourth-year-level question having made far more sense to her after having read the Victorian Flower-Language dictionary), but she was still glad. She wasn't sure whether the fact that Lily was alive that had spared Holden from Severus's wrath, but she didn't really care, as long as he left Holden (and Harry) alone.
Astronomy and History of Magic were the only two classes she shared with Harry. Harry had already appeared to have made friends with Ron and Neville, though perhaps he already knew them from before Hogwarts, and, Hermione was a touch surprised to see, Emilia and Paulina. She wasn't exactly sure why the friendship surprised her, and a small part of her was jealous, but she concentrated instead on the fact that her Harry didn't exist outside her memories anymore, and it was her purpose to make sure this time Harry was raised right; that he had a safe and as normal as possible childhood, without Voldemort's influence.
Holden had befriended their fellow Ravenclaws Wayne Hopkins and Terry Boot, though he surprised her by constantly returning to pair with her in classes, or study with her, or even just sit and read with her. He didn't seem to mind her silence, and was never dissuaded by it. It occurred to Hermione that Holden actually liked her. Perhaps even thought of her as a... friend.
It was an odd sort of thought to have- she was well aware she was not approachable to people in her "age group", but Holden seemed to like her company.
Flying lessons with the 'Puffs passed peacefully and without interruption. Holden was a natural on a broom, just like Harry, and Hermione wouldn't be surprised if he ended up on the House team the following year. She heard later that Harry, once again, made it onto the Gryffindor Quidditch team, thanks to Draco Malfoy and she tried not to cry (reminders hurt).
Hermione took care to perform above average, but not to stand out. Quickly completing any homework and tasks given to her, she spent a majority of her time thinking about what to do about the Death Eaters. After a long consideration, she decided the best move would be to kill them. She gave herself the deadline until the completion of the Christmas holidays to deal with the inner circle, and the rest of the year for the senior Death Eaters, as well as any unmarked Blood Purists who had committed terrible crimes during the War, such as Umbridge and, possibly, Fudge (yes, she would certainly make sure Umbridge met her end).
She didn't even realize it was Halloween until she turned a corner and found herself face-to-face with a twelve-foot mountain troll.
She'd gotten into the habit of going to the kitchens for food, mostly so she didn't have to join the Great Hall and all the children within it, and had been making her way there from the library when she'd come across the beast.
Eyeing it calmly, she raised her wand as the troll bellowed what loosely translated to 'kill! Kill squishy!' in its native tongue, and transfigured the cartilage in its nose to white phosphorus. When the troll took it's next breath, it proved to be its final, the oxygen triggering the phosphorus's pyrophoric properties. The entire mass of phosphorus flashed to flame and the burning mass was somewhat contained by the tough hide of the troll, certainly long enough for a thermal pulse to push inward into softer tissues. The resulting explosion reduced the creature's head to a fine mist. The troll collapsed to the floor with an echoing thud.
A bit under a minute later, not enough time for her to flee the 'scene of the crime', Minerva and Filius rounded the corner, wands out. The two professors froze, seeing the headless troll, and both looked at her with similar expressions of disbelief.
"Hermione!" Minerva finally managed to gasp out, and Hermione blamed her old Head of House's startled use of her actual name on the acute shock the older woman was currently processing (I do miss you, Minerva; you were one of my only confidants, one of my only friends), "what on earth- when did- how?"
"I transfigured the cartilage in its nose to white phosphorus." Hermione said, calmly and matter-of-factly. The two professors stared at her.
"That's- that's very advanced transfiguration for a first year," Minerva said, finally, and Hermione shrugged.
"I've always been an advanced student."
"You haven't shown this skill in classes," frowned Minerva. "You're clearly an above average student, and your essays are always perfect, but you've never shown this sort of affinity."
"Why stick out?" Hermione pointed out.
"Hermione!" Hermione turned around to see a relieved looking Holden, who was accompanied by Severus. Brief confusion filtered through Hermione, before she concentrated on the small boy- who was still annoyingly larger then her twelve-year-old form- as he pulled her into his arms, hugging her tight. "Oh thank Merlin!" Holden exclaimed, stepping back to look her up and down as if to make sure she was in one piece.
"Severus, what is the meaning of this?" Minerva demanded.
"I ran into Mr. Potter here as he was running through the corridors," Severus said silkily, "he said he was looking for a friend who was missing from both the feast and wasn't at the Ravenclaw Tower."
"I was so worried!" Holden said, looking pale. He glanced at the troll and turned green. "Thank Merlin the professors got here on time!" he exclaimed, with a shudder.
"Actually, the troll was Miss Granger's work." Filius squeaked, looking excited. "She used advanced transfiguration to defeat the beast!"
"She is a genius," Holden said, unsurprised, which was a bit annoying. Really, she must improve on her deception skills- Holden should be having the same reaction as Minerva and Filius.
Severus, she also had to grudgingly admit, didn't look surprised either. Slytherins were harder to fool, she consoled herself, and she really was a poor liar. And while Severus didn't believe in her status as an average student, he hadn't called her out on her act either.
"May I be excused?" she asked, politely, "there's still an hour until curfew, and I was going to the kitchens to get something to eat."
"I'll accompany you," Severus said, smoothly, "in case this troll isn't the only one."
"Okay professor," Hermione agreed, easily. They walked in silence until they were in a relatively secluded corridor with no portraits. Hermione wasn't sure why Severus had led them this way, but she hadn't pointed out that it was quicker going along her original route- after all, how could a first year, and one who'd only been in the castle a few weeks at that, possibly know that? It was enough of a stretch that she knew her way to the kitchens!
And then Severus stopped, turned to face her, and said something that actually managed to shock her out of her general apathy.
Hermione blinked at Severus and wondered if she should act confused, then realized there wasn't much point, and she wasn't really inclined to anyway.
"Hello Severus," she greeted him amiably, "What gave me away?"
"We've known each other for nine years," pointed out Severus, "you think I wouldn't recognize you?"
"Well, I had hoped my acting skills had improved," admitted Hermione.
"Am I going to hear that story now?" Severus asked, arching a dark brow, and Hermione sighed, waving her hand, conjuring two seats.
"I suppose I do owe you an explanation," she agreed. Severus blinked, startled by her use of advanced wandless, wordless magic, but accepted it with relative ease and sat in one of the provided seats. "In about four years from now, Voldemort is resurrected." Hermione stated, deciding to dive right into the matter, "in the following three years, everyone I care about is killed in the War against him. So I studied for nearly two decades to create a way to send my mind back in time. I succeeded, and managed to send my mind back to my own birth. Very unpleasant. Being an infant was awful, but I've already managed to change so much and for the better." She finished, quietly.
Severus was staring at her, unable to cover his shock, and Hermione smiled sadly at him. "Originally, Harry Potter was my best friend. His parents were killed by Voldemort, and he grew up in an abusive household. Every year he was at Hogwarts, something tried to kill him. Even if I couldn't be his friend, even if he'd never know me, the real me, I vowed that I wouldn't let his life turn out like that again. So I saved his parents, and now I'm making sure that Voldemort will never be able to bother him, or anyone else I love, ever again."
Severus looked like he still couldn't speak, and Hermione sighed. "I wasn't always this... cold, you know." She confessed, needing to get this off her chest to someone who actually knew the truth, "once upon a time, I was a teacher's pet, a 'know-it-all, an 'annoyingly cheerful little chit' as I believe you once called me at an Order meeting... now I feel like there's a barrier between me and the world." She blinked back the tears that threatened to fall. "I haven't been right since I did it," she whispered, "since I killed my best friend- since I killed Harry. But I had to- I had to! There was no other choice!"
The tears that were threatening to fall did, sliding down her cheeks, and Severus pulled her into his arms. She rested her head against his chest and cried into his robes.
At some point, he passed her an Aging Potion, and being in an adult body certainly made half sitting in her "professor's" lap more comfortable, though it did make her wonder just how long ago he had figured out who she was.
"Did I die?" Severus asked, when her tears had finally slowed.
"You did." Hermione whispered into the heavy material of his teaching robes, "You died a hero."
"How very... Gryffindor of me." Severus grimaced. Hermione laughed weakly.
"Yes, I suppose it was." She cupped his face in her hands and kissed him, for several long moments. "Take me back to your quarters," she said, and he didn't argue.
His personal quarters were guarded by a portrait of a snake by the name of 'Nefertiti', and Hermione was slightly touched when Severus didn't bother hiding his password from her. Severus's quarters were a touch on the barren side, and dark in coloring, but they were warm and they suited him.
Hermione scanned the room and located the door leading to the bedroom and tugged him after her. Her school robes, the size of which had been hastily adjusted after her consumption of the Aging Potion, were quickly scattered on the floor, along with Severus's teaching robes. They made love, and this time there was a depth to it that wasn't there before.
Honesty, Hermione decided, really did wonderful things to a relationship.
Afterwards, they cuddled, Hermione taking another dose of an Aging Potion, and Severus asked more questions about her and about the future. "You're a Potions Mistress?" he clarified, at one point.
"And an Arithmancy, Ancient Runes and Transfiguration Mistress." Hermione said, feeling a pride in her achievements in the face of his approval that she didn't usually allow herself to feel.
"Amazing," Severus said, and his smile was a proud one. Their conversation moved from lighter things to the War, and Hermione told him about the Horcruxes.
"Have you destroyed the Diadem yet?" Severus asked, grimly.
"I transferred the soul piece into a book and destroyed the book." Hermione corrected him lightly, but just as seriously. "The Diadem itself is still in one piece."
"So now you need the Cup, the Diary and Potter." Severus said, and Hermione nodded.
"I have no idea how I'm supposed to get the Cup," she admitted, "but if Lucius doesn't give Ginny the Diary then I'll have to break into his Manor to get it. I may have to do that anyway- if possible, I'd really rather deal with Voldemort this year, while I know exactly where he is."
"I'd be able to help you with retrieving the Diary," Severus said, "I've been to Malfoy Manor several times. For instance, I know where they keep their Dark artifacts."
"In the secret room under their drawing room floor?" Hermione raised an eyebrow. Severus laughed.
"Is there anything you don't know?" He asked.
"Not much, I'd like to think." Hermione admitted with a light smirk, before leaning forwards and kissing him again.
Chapter 6: Chapter Five
Hermione turned to the sound of her sisters' voices, surprised. She had barely spoken three words to them since they'd arrived at Hogwarts, though she'd taken care to keep a careful eye on them. They were standing a bit away from her, with Ron, Neville and Harry a step or two behind them.
"Yes?" she asked, politely. Paulina and Emilia traded looks, before Emilia spoke up.
"Hermione, do you know who Nicholas Flamel is?"
"Nicholas Flamel is a six hundred and sixty four year old wizard who is responsible for the creation of the Philosopher's Stone." Hermione told them after a brief internal debate.
"What's the Philosopher's Stone? And how can someone live that long?" demanded Emilia.
"The Philosopher's Stone in an alchemy masterpiece. It can turn metal into gold, and is the key ingredient in a potion known as the Elixir of Life. While drinking the Elixir, you cannot die from natural means." Hermione informed them.
The five traded significant looks, and Emilia gave a sort of half smile.
"Thanks 'Mione." Hermione froze.
"Don't call me that." Her voice was icy. Emilia looked startled, and then traded exasperated, knowing looks with Paulina.
"Fine, Hermione," she said, and Hermione nodded slightly, before turning back to her book.
Only Ron and Harry had ever called her "'Mione" and she'd be damned before she let anyone else.
"I've had an idea,"
Hermione twisted around in the bed so she was looking at Severus. "What about?" she asked him.
"Getting the Diary," said Severus, "the Malfoys just sent my invitation to their annual Yuletide Ball. I was wondering if 'My' wanted to come as my plus one."
"That... that could really work," Hermione said. Severus rolled his eyes.
"Could you sound any more surprised?" he asked, sarcastically. She gave an apologetic smile.
"I really like that idea," she told him.
"Then I'll RSVP I'm bringing my partner." Severus said.
Hermione wasn't surprised that Severus didn't use the word 'girlfriend'. He just wasn't that sort of man. And to be honest, she wasn't that sort of girl. 'Partners' suited them much better.
The Christmas holidays arrived, and after the train-ride back to Kings Cross, Hermione said farewell to Holden before joining Emilia and Paulina to find their parents.
The first half of the holidays passed quickly. Emilia and Paulina whispered a lot and Helen and Richard were extremely interested in learning everything they could about the Wizarding World and Hogwarts and the classes and friends, etc. Nothing surprising in either case.
When Christmas arrived, Hermione faked an illness and cast a strong Notice-Me Not charm on her door so her parents and sisters wouldn't think to check on her, before dressing in the dress-robes she'd bought.
She'd invested wisely since she managed to get her hands on a small sum of muggle money (could she call herself 'Robin Hood' if the hypothetical 'poor person' she was robbing the rich for was herself? Oh well, either way the Dunland family certainly wouldn't try suing her parents' dental practice this time around), and now had a considerable amount of money to her name- definitely more then enough to dress nicely. 'My' was dressed in a satin silver gown, embroidered with crystal snowflakes that flickered different colors every time she moved. Her hair had been curled into ringlets that escaped from her silver hairpin to cascade down her naked shoulders.
Hermione felt a certain amount of satisfaction when Severus's eyes widened at the sight of her. She didn't dress up often, but she thought she might do it a bit more if it got this sort of reaction from her lover.
The Malfoy Manor looked magnificent. The white peacocks paraded around, the lawn was lit up by real live fairies, the guests swilled around the lawn as well as the ballroom.
Narcissa looked every part the lady of the Manor, dressed elegantly in deep red-dyed silk and greeting them with a tight-lipped smile.
Lucius looked similarly striking, dressed in heavy charcoal robes embroidered with a shimmering silver thread.
"Ah Severus," Lucius greeted them, his eyes flicking over to scan Hermione. Hermione was disgusted by the naked desire she saw in his eyes, and the way his gaze lingered over her hips and breasts. "Narcissa and I were very surprised when you replied with a plus one."
"This is my partner My Wells," Severus said, smoothly, "My, this is Lord Lucius Malfoy and Lady Narcissa Malfoy."
(Choosing 'Wells' as her surname had been a spot of amusement- a muggle author H.G. Wells wrote one of the earliest works of fiction depicting time-travel, back in 1895, and 'H.G.'? Well, really, it just couldn't fit more perfectly.)
"A pleasure to meet you, my Lord, my Lady," Hermione greeted them, politely.
"A pleasure to meet you, Miss Wells." Narcissa said, just as politely.
"Oh please call me My," Hermione replied.
"So how long have you and My been in a relationship, Severus? And why haven't we heard of her until now?" Lucius questioned.
"My and I have been together for nine years now," Severus said, calmly, "and we are both private people. We didn't see the need to advertise our relationship."
"What changed your mind?" questioned Lucius.
"We decided it was time." Hermione said, simply.
"Well, we'll have to catch up for tea some time," Narcissa said, and Hermione noted that the frosty ice-queen seemed to have warmed up to her slightly.
"I would love that, my Lady."
"Call me Narcissa, please," Narcissa smiled, beautifully.
"And call me Lucius. Severus and I are old friends, after all. We ran in the same circles for many years." Lucius laughed. Hermione felt Severus stiffen beside her slightly, at the veiled mention of their time spent together as Death Eaters, but otherwise he didn't react.
"I'm going to kill him, you know," Hermione told Severus, after they'd moved away from the Malfoys. Severus arched an eyebrow. "I'm killing most of them," Hermione explained, "the Death Eaters that bought their way to freedom. They'll pay for their crimes. I've seen what they do when Voldemort comes back- he might not be coming back this time, but that doesn't change the fact they reacted the way they did to his return. Their days are numbered."
"Fair enough," Severus said, after a pause, in which he contemplated her words. Hermione smiled.
"Shall we enjoy the party first, or go steal the Horcrux?"
"Horcrux first," decided Severus. "Let's get it over with."
Slipping away from the crowds was easy. Some light wards were set up to dissuade guests from leaving the designated areas, but Hermione had no trouble lifting the wards for them to get around.
The secret room under the Drawing Room was more challenging to get into. The wards were strong, bound to Lucius by his blood, and it took Hermione nearly a half hour to break into it.
Sweat was running down the sides of her face by the time she managed to open it, and she held the wards up while Severus went inside to get the Diary- she had explained what it looked like, and it only took him a few minutes to return with the Horcrux.
"It looks so... inconspicuous." Severus said, looking down at the malevolent object. Hermione shuddered, feeling the Dark magic leaking from the leather clad pages.
"What are you doing?" a sharp voice demanded, and Hermione turned, letting the wards drop to face Lucius.
He looked furious, face taut, eyes dark. His wand was pointed at them, trained on Severus. Hermione was actually amused by the fact he thought that Severus was the bigger threat.
That was his mistake.
Hermione flicked her wand with a silent 'sectumsempra' and the curse collided with the blond, sending blood spraying everywhere. He dropped to the ground, a puppet with his strings cut, and twitched, jerking around in a rapidly expanding pool of blood.
Lucius had been slashed open, his jaw attached merely by a flab of skin, the bones of his ribcage visible through the torn flesh left by the curse and his hands were doing very little good in keeping his intestines where they belonged. Hermione watched with a cool, emotionless stare as the light faded out of Lucius's eyes and what was once a living, breathing person was reduced to a mass of broken flesh and bone.
"I've never seen my spell used to that level of destruction before." Severus said quietly, and Hermione turned to see her lover looked a touch on the pale, unnerved side.
"Can you really say he didn't deserve it?" Hermione raised an eyebrow, and Severus sighed and nodded.
"He did," he admitted, and Hermione gave a sort of half-smile.
"We should go back to the party."
"Do we leave the body?" Severus asked. Hermione thought for a moment, then flicked her wand, transfiguring the corpse into a stick, which she set on fire. They watched as the body-turned-stick burned to ashes, then Hermione vanished the ashes and the blood, before they returned to the ball.
That night, back at Severus's house, Hermione was shocked when her lover lowered himself to one knee in front of her. "Severus?" she asked, surprised.
"Hermione Jean Granger," Severus said, as he pulled from his pocket a slim gold band, with a sparkling diamond, "My, I love you, something I wasn't sure was even possible for me to do with another person. But I do, I love you, every complicated, beautiful, brilliant part of you. Will you be my wife?"
Hermione stared at Severus, shocked, before pulling herself out of her daze. "Of course," she said, blinking back tears, and he smiled, sliding the ring on her finger. It resized, automatically, and Hermione couldn't help but stare at the shining band on her finger.
"I... wasn't expecting this," she said, slightly breathless, and Severus chuckled.
"I wasn't sure you'd say yes, but after a year short of a decade together, I decided that I knew for a fact I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Well, I think I knew it from the first time you called me a 'dunderhead', but I know, My, I know that you are the one person for me."
"We're not going to be able to live together properly for a few years," Hermione warned, and Severus shrugged.
"I don't care. I want you to be my wife." He said, simply.
"Well that's good, because I want to be your wife too." Hermione replied, before leaning forwards and kissing him, deeply.
They barely left his- no, their bed for the next two days.
Hermione couldn't say she wasn't surprised by the invitation she received, along with Paulina and Emilia, to spend two days with the Potters. After careful consideration, she agreed, and found herself being portkeyed to Potter Manor.
It was a tall, grand building, with pillars and marble, and was extremely ostentatious. It wasn't quite to Hermione's taste, but it was a lovely place.
"Hermione," Holden greeted her happily, and she smiled at him.
"Hello," she greeted the boy, "had a good Christmas?"
"It was okay," Holden shrugged, "it's been great seeing mum and dad again, as well as Uncle Moony and Uncle Padfoot."
Hermione's lips twitched slightly at the sound of the Marauders' nicknames.
"You must be Hermione," a beautiful red-haired woman greeted her. Hermione recognized Lily Potter née Evans from Harry's photo album, which she had flicked through more times then she could count, especially after his d-
No, she told herself sternly; she would not think about that. Harry was alive and happier then he'd ever been.
Hermione felt mixed emotions when faced with Lily. On one hand, she did place at least part of blame on the redhead's shoulders for the events of Halloween, prompted majorly by Lily's treatment of Severus (and no, that certainly wasn't personal bias- no really, it wasn't... okay; mostly, it wasn't. Mostly.). On the other hand, everyone always spoke about what a wonderful mother Lily was and the woman had sacrificed her life for her son, so for Harry's sake, she'd be polite.
"And you must be Mrs. Potter," she greeted the woman nicely.
"Please call me Lily! Holden's told us all about you," Lily said happily, "come inside!"
Hermione followed Lily and Holden into the house, where the rest of the children all seemed to be gathered. Ron and Neville were also present, along with Ginny, who was chatting to a pretty red-haired, hazel-eyed girl Hermione assumed was Iris.
Also in the room were three very familiar adults- Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and James Potter.
Hermione wasn't sure what to think at the sight of them. Remus she was happy to see, though the sight of him made her heart ache, thinking of Teddy, dear, sweet, sweet Teddy.
Andromeda had raised the boy, and the last Hermione knew was that he had married Victoire and they'd had their first child, a daughter- Dora Aimee.
(It hurt thinking about all the lives she'd undone, too, not just the ones of those she'd lost.)
Paulina, Emilia and Hermione were introduced around to everyone, and they all whisked off to the Quidditch pitch, Hermione going with the flow, where a game of Quidditch was started. Hermione refereed, having no interest in actually playing the sport.
Altogether, they had a rather pleasant time, with Harry, Iris, Ginny and Emilia winning by thirty points, against Holden, Paulina, Ron and Neville.
"Not a Quidditch fan?" Lily asked Hermione, and she turned to face the woman.
"I don't mind watching," she said, honestly, "I'm just not interested in playing."
"Me too," Lily said, with a light laugh. Hermione gave a tight sort of smile, and turned away.
(She really did not like Lily Potter.)
It was that night that Hermione ran into Harry in the kitchen, at around eleven in the evening when she went downstairs to pour herself a glass of water (wishing it was a glass of something stronger, like, say, off the top of her head... vodka? Mm, a Bloody Mary would really hit the spot...).
"Hello Hermione," Harry greeted her, and Hermione had to fight the urge to stiffen. This was the first time she and Harry had been alone in a room, and had talked to each other, one-on-one.
"Hello Harry," she replied, her voice calm, as opposed to the turbulent emotions raging inside her.
"Are you enjoying your stay here?" he asked her, politely, and she managed a smile.
"It's been pleasant." Harry surveyed her with serious eyes, and his expression made Hermione's heart hurt like someone had just ripped it out of her chest, because for a moment, he looked like her Harry ("I love you, Hermione- you're my best friend, and I'm so sorry I have to ask you to do this, but you're the one I trust the most- please forgive me").
(Of course she forgave him; she forgave him with tears in her eyes and love in her heart, and they held each other tight, the very best of friends, right until his heart stopped beating and he lay dead in her arms)
"Have I done something to you?" Harry asked, suddenly, and Hermione blinked.
"You always seem so... guarded around me," Harry said, "have I upset you in some way?"
"You remind me of someone I knew," Hermione said, after a pause.
"Someone you didn't like?" guessed Harry. Hermione smiled sadly.
"On the contrary, he was someone I loved, with my whole being, every single part of me. I would have done anything for him."
(She would have died for him, but instead he died for her, and for the world)
"What happened to him?" Harry asked, quietly, those green, green eyes searching hers.
"Very perceptive." Hermione replied, just as quietly, "He's dead."
"I'm sorry." Harry said. Hermione gave a tired smile.
"You didn't know."
"Em and Paulie never mentioned him," Harry said, and Hermione shook her head.
"They wouldn't know him. He was... shy. Quiet. My only real friend growing up. We met at the local library, and saw each other every day. He was murdered when I was eleven."
"Murdered?" Harry looked pale. "Merlin! I thought- who did it?" Hermione shook her head.
"I'm sorry, but I'd rather not talk about this." She said. She finished her glass of water in one long swallow, and placed it in the sink. Unable to resist the impulse, she kissed Harry's cheek, inhaling the scent that was Harry. "Goodnight Harry." She said, as she stepped back, turning away.
(Lips pressed to a still-warm cheek; "Goodbye Harry")
"Goodnight Hermione." Harry said, and Hermione walked away, wondering how much the red-haired woman, hiding in the corner of the room under a Disillusionment charm, had heard.
Hermione watched, silently, invisible, as Yaxley led the young muggle boy under the Imperius out of the crowded market area. She slipped after them, body trembling with anger, waiting until they were in one of the alleys off the street to make her move.
"Imperio," Yaxley's face went blank, and the spell on the young boy broke leaving the six-year-old child confused before running off, back into the crowd. Hermione grasped Yaxley's arm and apparated them to the bridge of London.
She led him to the edge, still invisible, and gave him a single, ruthless command. "Jump."
People screamed as Yaxley plummeted over the edge, hitting the ground underneath with a sickening crack. Hermione smiled before apparating away.
That made two down.
Over that last week of the Christmas holidays, nineteen 'Imperiused' Death Eaters and a handful of Death Eater sympathizers died, in a variety of bizarre, terrible ways, with only offspring left alive.
MacNair cut off his legs with his own axe and bled to death. Crabbe and Goyle Senior walked in front of muggle trains. The Notts were trapped in their house, after it caught fire. Rowle was electrocuted in his bath. The Parkinsons had overdosed on the muggle drug heroin (and hadn't that been a bitch to get her hands on). The Selwyns were found hung in their manors (...from barbed wire, but the Prophet didn't report that part). Greyback had been scattered in pieces, the biggest being about the size of a child's fist. The bodies of the Carrow twins were found together naked in a double bed surrounded by hardcore BDSM and erotic asphyxiation equipment (and hadn't that been just nauseating to set up)- the exact cause of death was unknown (she suspected no-one had wanted to get close enough to the twins to actually find out).
Hermione actually enjoyed exploring her creative juices, finding new and interesting ways to end the lives of the murdering, raping, torturing, pillaging, sadistic pigs- they didn't deserve the mercy of the Killing Curse; they needed to suffer, like their victims had, like Harry had.
The Death Eaters caught on quickly that someone or several 'someones' were going around killing 'Imperiused' Death Eaters, but the wards and guards they put up weren't enough to keep out Hermione, and the ones who tried to hide behind a Fidelius found themselves dead on their way to work, or shopping, or whenever they left the house.
Even Fudge and Umbridge met their somewhat sticky ends. Umbridge was given a blood quill and Hermione cursed her so that she wouldn't stop writing until she bled out- the phrases used included 'bitch' and 'toad' and 'Death Eater'. Fudge was granted the mercy of a quick cutting curse to the throat (she wasn't merciful enough, however, to not make it shallow enough for Fudge to be conscious and aware for nearly two and a half minutes as he drowned in his own blood).
Two days before the return to Hogwarts, Hermione put into action her most ambitious plan yet- breaking into Azkaban.
She apparated to Azkaban Pier then flew in her owl form to the fortress. Around her neck she wore the amulet she'd created which kept away the Dementors, negating their effects, and made her way to the top floor.
It worked better then she could have hoped. The scum of the earth Death Eaters were trapped in their cells, and it was a simple matter to hit them all with reductos to the head, leaving the walls of the cells painted red, and the headless corpses slumped to the ground in a puddle of blood, bone and grey brain matter- even the rat that cowered in Pwttigrew'a cell exploded into a small mess of fur and guts.
It was only faced with the last cell that she altered her routine.
A huddled lump in one corner stirred, and a voice she recognized oh-so well crooned, "and who's come to visit little Bella?"
A surge of memories overtook Hermione as he looked at the face of the mad woman, insanity glittering in her sunken eyes. The foul woman straddling her, knife in hand, carving the word 'Mudblood' into Hermione's arm. The memory of her screaming 'CRUCIO!', leaving Hermione writhing on the ground in unimaginable pain, a smile of such disgustingly fierce delight twisting her once attractive features-
Hermione shook her head quickly bringing herself out of those memories even as she felt a surge of anger rise inside of her again, that seeing Bellatrix's hated face caused her. She felt the magic inside her respond, boiling with her anger and the clamor for release got louder.
"Crucio!" she hissed, and the jet of red light collided with Bellatrix's huddled form. The woman screamed and screamed, thrashing on the ground, foaming at the mouth. Her bladder and bowel released, spreading more filth on the floor of the cell, and Bellatrix convulsed madly.
Hermione ruthlessly and stone-faced held Bellatrix under the curse until the bitch stopped moving, having suffered a massive stroke, quickly bleeding out internally.
Hermione released a breath, feeling a certain calmness wash over her. She had avenged herself.
She had avenged everyone.
With that, Hermione transformed back into her owl animagus form and flew out of the fortress, away from Azkaban.
Chapter 7: Chapter Six
On the Hogwarts Express, heading back to Hogwarts, all anyone could talk about were the murders, both the slaughter of the Death Eaters who had escaped conviction and what had become known as 'The Massacre of Azkaban'.
Severus was reluctantly impressed. "Sometimes I forget what you've lived through," he told her, the night before the return to Hogwarts, "you seem so... well adjusted."
"Well adjusted?" Hermione asked, incredulously, eyeing her lover like he'd just grown a second or third head. "Me? Well adjusted?"
"Well, I didn't know you before the War, so I don't really know the differences." Severus pointed out.
"Would... would you like to see?" Hermione asked, after a moment's contemplation. Severus raised an eyebrow, and Hermione touched her wand to her head, drawing out strands of silvery memory.
Together, they watched Hermione, Harry and Ron laughing by the lake, playing Exploding Snap at the Burrow, cleaning out Grimmauld Place... Hermione felt tears sliding down her cheeks as she watched the innocence playing out before her eyes, and when they exited the memories, Severus pulled her into his arms.
"I love you, My," he told her, "I love who you are. I love everything about you. We both have our darkness, but together we can get through it. I know we can."
"I love you too, Severus." Hermione had responded.
And it was true.
Holden found her on the train, looking excited. "Did you hear about it?" he asked.
"Hear about what?" Hermione pretended to be ignorant, like she should be- after all, she was a muggleborn, and had no real link of communication with the Wizarding World while on holidays to the best of Holden's knowledge.
"Someone broke into the wizard prison and killed all the Death Eaters!" Holden exclaimed, green eyes bright with the thrill. "It's all dad and Uncle Padfoot can talk about! Dad and Uncle Padfoot I think are happy about it, but mum tells them off when they try saying that." Holden snickered a bit at that.
"People break in and out of prison all the time," pointed out Hermione.
"Not the British wizard prison," Holden said, eyes wide. "Not Azkaban- nobody's ever done it before!"
"Really?" Hermione asked, widening her eyes in fake shock.
"Uh huh," nodded Holden, eagerly, "They reckon whoever did it is as powerful as Dumbledore and You-Know-Who!"
"Oh my word!" Hermione shook her head as if in amazement, smirking internally. Really, that was quite flattering.
Hermione wasn't sure how Voldemort had reacted to the news of the massacre of the Death Eaters in and out of Azkaban, but judging by Quirrell's new and seemingly permanent pallor, it couldn't have been well. Personally, Hermione found a wicked amount of amusement in it.
Nothing had really changed over the holidays. Schoolwork was just as mind-numbingly dull as before, with History of Magic being the worst, and the kids were as immature and bratty as ever.
Hermione could really sympathize with Severus. Dealing with the brats was exhausting, and she didn't even have to teach the brainless dunderheads.
It was a few weeks after their return to Hogwarts that Severus and Hermione put into action a break-in that was possibly even more challenging and dangerous then her adventure in Azkaban- the robbing of Gringotts.
To both of their surprise, it went smoothly. With her disguised as My Wells, a goblin accompanied them to the cart then started steering them to Severus's vault. Hermione used the Imperius Curse on the goblin, and he changed paths, heading down to the Lestrange vault.
The goblin opened the vault, and Severus levitated Hermione over to the Cup, which she carefully knocked into a leather pouch. Severus then levitated her back, and the second part of their plan was put into action. The goblin took them back to the dragon they'd passed, and Hermione hit the chains with several weakening charms, before setting off a multitude of sharp bangs.
The dragon roared, rearing up, causing the chains to break. Fire narrowly missed them, and Hermione obliviated then hit the goblin in the head with a weak blasting curse, sending him flying from the cart, over into the wall of the tunnel. Now when he couldn't recall the journey to 'Severus's' vault, he'd think it was the result of a head wound from the dragon.
It didn't take long for a small army of goblins to arrive, and when they did, they found Hermione, Severus and the unconscious goblin trapped in a corner, protected by several shield charms, but pinned in place.
The goblins subdued the dragon, and then accompanied them back to the surface, apologizing in their usual surly manner.
Horcrux safely procured and hidden away, the two made their way into Diagon Alley.
"We should celebrate," Hermione said. Her body was still shaking slightly with adrenaline, and she found she was smiling widely.
"Adrenaline junky," teased Severus, tugging the ends of her hair gently. She pouted up at him, only to spin around, at the sound of a voice that was not welcome.
"Severus," Lily Potter called out, sounding surprised. Hermione felt Severus stiffen next to her, uncomfortable, as Lily and James Potter approached them. If they weren't in the middle of Diagon Alley, Hermione would have considered cursing the Potters to kingdom come- then wiping their memories, of course. But still cursing them.
"Potter, Lily," Severus said, stiffly.
"Who's this?" Lily asked, brightly.
"This is Mya Wells," Severus introduced her, "My is my fiancée."
"Your fiancée?" James sounded shocked. "She looks half your age!"
"James!" Lily elbowed her husband, looking scandalized, before shooting Hermione an apologetic look. "It's lovely to meet you, Mya." She said, politely.
"I prefer My, actually," Hermione smiled stiffly at the redhead. Severus squeezed her hand, gently, and she relaxed somewhat, leaning into him.
Hermione was considered by most standards 'young and attractive'- she knew that. She was aesthetically appealing, with her heavy chestnut curls, large hazel eyes, framed with dark lashes and set in a heart-shaped face. Her body was slim and willowy, though a touch on the short side. She looked very sprite-like, she'd been told before, but with undeniable curves. Either or, she was a beautiful woman, and both James and Lily Potter had noticed this, and were reacting similarly to the fact, though for two very different reasons.
"So where did you two meet?" Lily asked, after shooting James a stern look when he went to open his mouth again, probably to stick his foot in it. He quickly shut it.
"At the Apothecary, back when I was still working there." Severus answered.
"Oh," Lily said, surprised, "you've been together for a while then!"
"Over nine years," Hermione said, proudly, wrapping an arm possessively around Severus's waist, staking her claim on her man. Severus seemed amused by her actions, but she ignored it, knowing that as a man, Severus wouldn't understand- this was between women. Lily's eyes narrowed slightly and Hermione tried not to make her 'sweet' smile too smug.
"So did you go to Hogwarts?" James asked, even more oblivious then Severus as to the currents running between her and his wife, "I don't remember seeing you, at all."
"I would have been far past your time," Hermione said, subtly reminding the arse that Severus had bagged a hot, younger woman (actually, she was technically the oldest one there, but she certainly looked younger, and she would for quite some time!). "But no, I lived in America for a few years, and went to Salem Witches Academy."
"You don't sound American," Lily pointed out, her tone verging on antagonistic.
"I lived in England until I was ten, then moved back here after my parents passed away." Hermione shrugged.
"I'm sorry." Lily said, stiffly.
"It was a long time ago." Hermione said, with a light wave of a hand. "I'm awfully sorry, but we do need to go. We don't have much time left today for dinner until Severus has to return to Hogwarts."
"Why don't you have dinner with us?" Lily suggested, smiling brightly at Severus. "It would be wonderful catching up with you again, Severus, and to get to know your lovely fiancée."
Oh fuck no, Hermione swore, mentally, though she worked to keep the fake smile on her face. She was about to concede with well-faked good grace, when Severus spoke up, reminding her why she loved him.
"We'll have to take a rain-check on that, I'm afraid," Severus said, smoothly, "We already have reservations."
"Oh," Lily looked disappointed, "Another time then, Sev?" Hermione felt her body tense at Lily's use of the abbreviation of her Severus's name.
"Another time," Severus answered for them, and she let him lead them away, into the Apothecary so she could rant- like she said, her man knew her so well.
"That- that shrew!" She growled, "She called you Sev! She doesn't get to call her that! If that harpy dares calls you that again, I'll tear out all her stupid, pretty red hair and-!"
"My," Severus interrupted her angry threats. She paused momentarily, looking over at him, and he spoke slowly. "I prefer brunettes." Hermione felt herself perk up, the little bits of insecurity she had to admit she was feeling being chased away.
"Really?" she said, hopefully.
"I was friends with Lily for a little under six years, and most of that time was when we were just young children," Severus said, gently, "I've been in love with you for nine years, as an adult. I love you, I've made love to you, and I want to marry and spend the rest of my life with you. There's no comparison, My. You are my one and only." Hermione couldn't help but beam.
"You're my one and only too," she said, happily, before kissing him- hard.
"Good," Severus said, when they broke away to breathe, "because I don't think I can make myself say something so... Hufflepuff-ish again." Hermione laughed.
"Oh Severus," she said, with a smile, "I wouldn't dream of making you."
With the Cup now dealt with, the only Horcrux that remained was Harry. Hermione felt confident with the removal process- she'd practiced on the five other Horcruxes, after all, and hadn't had a problem. She and Severus had decided on completing the process before exams.
It had been a simple matter to sneak into the Gryffindor Tower (as a Head of House Severus knew the passwords to all the Common Rooms) and kidnap Harry from his bed. She kept him unconscious as she smuggled him back down to Severus's quarters.
She was in the process of drawing out the runes on Harry's naked chest with his blood when the fireplace turned green and Albus bloody Dumbledore stuck his head out. "Severus, I was-" Dumbledore's voice broke off as he stared at her, shocked. Hermione could imagine what he was seeing- his boy hero unconscious, covered in runes drawn with blood, and an unknown (admittedly apparent twelve-year-old, but looks could be deceiving in the magical world) element standing over him, holding a wand.
"Albus, wait-" Severus said hastily, as Dumbledore shook himself out of his shocked stupor and leapt through the floo, wand out, ready to curse her, to protect Harry. Hermione slashed her wand in an abrupt movement, summoning a shimmering golden shield that reflected every spell but the Unforgiveables, holding her wand warily in case the headmaster decided that the situation warranted an Unforgiveable.
"Step away from the boy!" roared Dumbledore, and the look on his face was so terrifying, so fierce, that Hermione understood implicitly why Voldemort was scared by the aging Headmaster.
"Albus!" Severus repeated, louder this time, almost shouting. "Trust me Albus! She is not a threat! She's saving him! She's taking the Horcrux out of his head!"
Dumbledore froze at the word 'Horcrux', and his reaction was almost comical as he gaped at them. "What?" he finally managed to croak.
"The night Voldemort attacked Godric's Hollow and fired the Killing Curse at Harry, his fractured soul tore further, and a sliver broke off and latched onto the closest living being," Hermione said, calmly, keeping up the shield.
"Harry," whispered Dumbledore, weakly. He had lowered his wand, though a quick twitch conjured a chintz armchair for him to sit on, seeing as he looked quite shaky on his feet.
"Yes. Harry." Hermione nodded.
"I- I suspected but... How- how do you know this?" Dumbledore asked.
"I'm from the future." Hermione said, deciding not to bother beating around the bush- the cat was out of the bag. Dumbledore blinked- twice.
"You're from the future." He repeated.
"Yes. I came back in time to defeat Voldemort before he could regain full power." Hermione lied, smoothly. Well, it wasn't exactly a lie- more of an omission. She purposefully just didn't mention that he had been defeated, and the reasons for her return to the past were on the more... selfish side.
"She's done so much good, Albus," Severus said, quietly. "She saved the Lily and James Potter's lives. She's created a potion that works as a temporary shield against the Unforgiveables and she drugged them with it that night, so when Voldemort attacked and hit them with the Killing Curse, they didn't die."
"In my world, Harry Potter was raised an orphan." Hermione explained, "I wasn't going to let that happen again."
The passion in her voice seemed to pique Dumbledore's interest. "You and Harry... you were friends?" he asked.
("You're my best friend too, Harry- I love you, I love you so much... say hello to Ron for me, okay? He'll be waiting up there for you- for us. Tell him that one day we'll be together again, the three of us reunited at last.")
"The very best of." Hermione said, quietly, painfully. "I loved him, more then nearly anything else. And I... I killed him."
"What?" Dumbledore's eyes widened, before understanding dawned on him. "Because he was a Horcrux."
"We didn't know it was possible to remove a Horcrux without destroying its container. I didn't find out how until some time later, years and years after his death." Hermione murmured.
"I'm so very sorry, my dear girl." Dumbledore said, and Hermione shrugged.
"He grew up happy this time. That's all that matters." She said, firmly.
(You're happy, Harry, and even though you and Ron aren't up there waiting for me, you're down here and you're alive and that's worth it, even though I'll never see you again. If there's one thing your mum got right, Harry, it's that we sacrifice ourselves for those we love, and we do it with no hesitation and without a single regret)
"Harry is lucky to have a friend like you." Dumbledore said. Hermione smiled weakly.
"Yes. And now I have to get the parasite out of his head."
"Just watch her work," Severus told Dumbledore, "I've seen her do this before, several times."
"More?" Dumbledore asked, horrified. "Tom created more of these things?"
"Six, including Pot-Harry." Severus told him.
Hermione tuned out their conversation, turning back to the task at hand. It took nearly fifteen minutes to set up the ritual, before she activated it. Malevolent smoke swirled out of Harry's scar and into the new container she had provided.
Hermione, relieved that it had worked- she'd never tried this particular ritual on a live being, after all- turned to the scroll of parchment, the container she'd transferred the soul-piece into and steeled herself. As if sensing the malevolent will towards it, grey smoke rose from the Horcrux, and from it, two gleaming scarlet eyes.
"Hermione Granger..." hissed the Horcrux, and Hermione recognized the voice instantly as Voldemort's, "I have seen your heart, and it is mine... you selfish, foolish girl- you think killing me will ever make up for what you did to Harry? You're a murderer, and you'll burn in hell-"
"At least I'll have company there," Hermione interrupted the Horcrux, coolly.
"You think you're so clever," hissed the Horcrux, angrily, not happy with being interrupted by a lowly 'Mudblood', "but where were those brains when it really mattered? You killed your best friend... you killed Harry Potter, the man you loved..." From out of the smoke, seventeen-year-old Harry formed. Hermione's breath hitched slightly, because although he looked otherworldly, with his glowing, luminescent skin, and those hints of scarlet swimming in those vibrant, vibrant green eyes, it was still him, it was still HarryHarryHarry...
("There has to be another way! Harry, please! Please! You can't leave me too, Harry, I love you, please, there has to be another way!")
"I hate you," sneered fakeHarry, "you murderer- I never loved you! How could I have ever loved someone as insignificant and pathetic as you, Mudblood?" Hermione felt something shift inside her, the same dark rage boiling under her skin that she'd faced Bellatrix with.
§Oh Tom§ Hermione hissed, condescendingly, §you just made your biggest mistake. I will never believe Harry could say anything like that§
§Lord Voldemort doesn't make mistakes, you filthy mudblood whore§ hissed back the Horcrux, furiously, and Hermione hated how the foul abomination used Harry's mouth, Harry's face, Harry's voice, to spew his vile vitriol.
§You are pathetic, Tom. Your mother was a rapist, your father couldn't give a damn about his bastard, illegitimate son, and the so-called Noble line of Slytherin is nothing but inbred drunkards§
Seeing that fakeHarry/the Horcrux was struck speechless with fury, Hermione switched back to English. "I love you," she told fakeHarry, her voice low and aching with loss, "I'll always love you, Harry. I miss you- every day I miss you."
And then she raised her wand and sent a bolt of fiendfyre at the scroll of parchment. High-pitched screams echoed around the room, the fakeHarry writhing in pain, before fading into nothing.
Once she'd forced out the flames, Severus pulled her into his arms, and she buried her face in his chest, disregarding the fact her body was currently twelve. Severus rubbed soothing circles on her back, and she let her tears flow.
Through an impressive application of Occlumency, Hermione pushed her anger, her grief, into a small box, which she buried in the back of her mind. She stepped away from Severus, and a quick flick of her wrist cleared all evidence of her tears from her face.
"Horcruxes don't go quietly," she said, proud that her voice was steady, though hoarse, "though they do get repetitive over time, and you learn how to hit them where it hurts right back."
Both Dumbledore and Severus looked pale, and Hermione schooled her expression, controlling it, keeping it calm, keeping it blank.
"You speak Parseltongue?" Dumbledore asked, finally. Hermione smiled sadly.
"Harry, Ron and I spent a year on the run, with next to no human interaction. We lived in a tent, which meant we were trapped in close contact with each other nearly permanently. The Horcrux in Harry's head allowed him to speak Parseltongue, and I made him teach me it."
"I hadn't realized that was possible," admitted Dumbledore.
"Oh my!" Hermione widened her eyes, teasingly, "the great Albus Dumbledore didn't know something- quick, Severus- call the press!"
"Very funny," huffed Dumbledore, and Hermione smiled, before the smile faded as Dumbledore's face turned serious and unhappy. "I am upset that you didn't think to include me in this secret," he said, sadly.
"I wasn't planning on telling anyone- not even Severus." Hermione admitted, "he only knows because I dated him in my adult form, and he managed to connect My Wells with Hermione Granger."
"Yes, Lily and James did talk to me about Severus's newly intended, a young lady who goes by the name of My." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "They seemed to think that the Order should investigate you."
"That harpy Lily's just a jealous shrew," huffed Hermione, "and James can't wrap his mind around the fact that Severus happens to be quite the catch, with a gorgeous, smart, younger fiancée!"
"Perhaps," chuckled Dumbledore, before he turned serious again. "Is there any reason why you didn't feel you could talk to me?" he asked.
"For a long time, I was very angry with you," admitted Hermione, after a brief pause, "very, very angry. I needed someone to blame, and as the person who told Harry he was a Horcrux, you became that someone."
"Ah," Dumbledore said, softly, "I understand. You appear to have done a wonderful job by yourself, anyhow."
"Severus did help me with two of them," Hermione said, before giving Severus a playful glare. "I could have done it myself, of course, but he insisted on helping." Severus smirked back at her.
"You're responsible for the deaths of all the Death Eaters," Dumbledore said, suddenly, appearing to have just connected the dots. Hermione narrowed her eyes, her hands clenching into fists.
"Don't worry," she told Dumbledore, her voice dark, "I only disposed of the ones beyond any sort of redemption, the ones who committed the most reprehensible and unforgivable of crimes."
"I suppose that is the most I can ask for," Dumbledore said, after a pause, "and... I thank you for your leniency. Perhaps if I could have a list of lesser Death Eaters, the ones you think are capable of being redeemed, I can do my best to ensure that they do not stray down the path of Darkness."
"I can do that," agreed Hermione, now a touch on the shocked side, "though I am surprised you accepted my assassinations that easily." And she was- the Albus Dumbledore she knew had always been about forgiving, redemption and second chances.
"Hermione," Dumbledore said, seriously, "you have lived in the world that would be created through my choices. I am old enough and wise enough to know that since that way didn't succeed, a new way must be tried."
"Thank you, Dumbledore," Hermione said with a small smile, now even more determined not to reveal the fact that in her time, the War had been won.
"There is no problem, Hermione," Dumbledore rose gracefully, "and please- when we are in private or you are in your adult form, call me Albus."
"Thank you Albus, then," Hermione repeated, feeling proud of this accomplishment- after all, not everyone got to call the famous aging Headmaster by his first name.
"I will go return the young Mr. Potter to his bed. Is there anything I can assist you with?" Albus asked.
"Actually," Hermione said, slowly, "there is one thing. Can you announce to the staff that the Philosopher's Stone will be moved the day after tomorrow?" Albus looked confused.
"I can do that, but can I ask why?" he questioned.
"Oh, I thought you would have figured it out," Hermione said, surprised, "Quirrell is playing the loyal host to the spirit form of Tom Riddle."
"What?" roared Albus, leaping to his feet. Feeling the magic crackling in the air, Hermione found herself very glad that Albus's fury wasn't directed at her. "Tom is in my school?! With my students?!"
"I'm sorry, I thought you had realized," she apologized, genuinely, "Tom has been possessing Quirrell since the botched Gringotts robbery. I know that he doesn't harm any students throughout the year, which is why I haven't made an effort to reveal him."
"Oh that's something we have to rub into the Dark Lord's face," Severus smirked suddenly, looking extremely smug on one-upping his former master, "We succeeded in breaking into Gringotts where he failed."
"You broke into Gringotts?" Albus looked impressed and seemed to have calmed down slightly, though his eyes were still hard as chips of ice.
"One of the Horcruxes was in the Lestrange vault," explained Severus.
"Gracious Rowena," Albus said, shaking his head again. "Oh Tom..." He pulled himself out of his daze, concentrating on her again. "I assume you plan on tricking Tom, leading him into a trap." He stated, his blue eyes fixed on hers.
"Yes," Hermione nodded, "tell the staff that Nicholas Flamel will be taking back his Stone. Tom knows that he won't be able to get the Stone from Flamel, which means tomorrow night will be his last chance to get it before it's out of his reach."
"And you think he will go for it?" Albus asked.
"Oh I know he will," Hermione's dark smile was sharp as a blade, "and I'll be waiting for him."
"We'll be waiting for him," corrected Severus.
"And Fawkes and I will be a flame away." Albus said, firmly.
Chapter 8: Chapter Seven
"I've been working on something," Severus said. Hermione, who was curled up next to him, half-tangled in his sheets, turned her head slightly so she could look him in the eye.
"It's a modified Aging Potion," Severus said, and Hermione's interest was immediately piqued.
"What does it do?" she asked, eagerly. Severus smiled.
"It has a much longer life-span then a normal Aging Potion- nearly a month." He told her.
"Oh," Hermione sighed, relieved, "oh that would be heavenly- I really do hate having to take the Aging Potion every three hours- it hurts like buggery, and tastes like... well, absolute shit."
"Thank you for enlightening me to that fact," Severus said, dryly, and she smirked at him.
"You're welcome, Sev," Severus shuddered.
"I swear to Merlin, if I ever, ever hear that god awful version of my name again, I will slip that person a potion that will permanently alter their anatomy!"
"Oh you wouldn't," Hermione said, cheekily, "you like my anatomy far too much."
"Perhaps," Severus admitted, before kissing her. Hermione ran her fingers through his silky hair, deepening the kiss. She hooked a leg around his waist, rolling them both over so she was on top of him.
"Today, I'm in charge," she told him playfully, "all you have to do is sit back and enjoy."
Severus seemed more then happy to oblige.
After riding her fiancé raw, Hermione snogged Severus senseless then made her way into his living room, where she'd set up her homework. It was a simple enough matter to recall in perfect detail her original essays, marked and graded (thank you, Occlumency!) and quickly copy them down onto fresh parchment.
Severus was the only professor who actually set her any sort of interesting work, as he was the only one who didn't set her the same work as the rest of the staff and instead found obscure potions and theories which she had to improve or debate. Her last essay Severus advised that she submit it to a Potion's Journal.
Once Voldemort was dealt with, Hermione, as 'My Wells, intended on applying for her Potions Mastery. She realized she would most likely have to sit a Potions NEWT first, which would be dull, but she knew her Mastery wouldn't take more then three months to complete- and it would only take that long because there were a required amount of potions you were tasked to brew to earn your Mastery, as well as the creation of at least one original potion- something she wasn't going to have a problem with, obviously.
"If you use the improved Aging Potion, you realize you can't be Hermione Granger anymore." Severus said, suddenly.
"Or I can tell my parents I'm transferring to a different school," Hermione said, "probably a muggle boarding school. It would be easy enough to fake the records, and when I'm required to make an appearance, I can use a temporary de-aging potion."
"You've thought this through," Severus noted.
"I prepared for every eventuality. There was always a chance I'd need to disappear."
"Do you think the Dark Lord will go for the Stone tomorrow?" Severus asked, quietly. Hermione observed the planes of his face, the tightening features of his stress, the worry lines around his eyes.
He was worried for her.
She caressed his face and smiled warmly. "I'm one of the only people on this planet who can say that they truly know Tom Riddle. I've seen his childhood, I've seen his descent into Darkness and insanity, and I've seen his death. I know that he will go for the Stone tonight."
"I want to be there with you," Severus said, stubbornly.
"He's not so weak as to be unable to sense another magical presence in the room." Hermione reminded him softly. "Wait with Albus. I'll have a two-way mirror on my person at all times so you can hear every word."
Severus hesitated, before sighing. "Nothing I say will make you change your mind, will it?"
"No," Hermione said, and he sighed again.
"I'm marrying the most stubborn person on this planet."
"It took you awhile to realize that." Hermione laughed.
The chamber was dark, muted. Hermione waited in the shadows, unsurprised by the arrival of Quirrell. Similarly, he seemed unsurprised by her presence.
"Miss Granger," he greeted her, in a pleasant voice, not a trace of stutter present.
"Quirinus," Hermione smiled at him.
"I assume you're here to stop me?"
"You?" Hermione raised an eyebrow, "why would I be bothered by someone as insignificant and pathetic as you?" Quirrell's eyes narrowed. "No," Hermione continued, "I'm far more interested in the entity attached to the back of your head."
"Reveal me," hissed an all-too familiar voice.
"Master," Quirrell looked frightened, "you are not strong enough!"
"I'm strong enough for this, you fool," Voldemort hissed, and with trembling fingers, Quirrell undid his turban and turned around.
"Hello Tom," Hermione greeted the apparition, the terrible parasite formed on the back of Quirrell's skull, an all too familiar face, with those awful, awful gleaming crimson eyes.
"Hello Hermione Granger," Voldemort's lipless mouth twisted into a hideous smile. "I'm assuming I won?"
"You assume too much," Hermione said, and Voldemort laughed, the sound high-pitched and cackling.
"Why else would you travel back in time?" he asked her, once his laughter died, "if not to prevent my victory?"
"Maybe I'm just selfish," she said, lightly, "though I am curious- when did you figure it out?"
"No Mudblood is as talented as you," Voldemort said, dismissively, "even a prodigy. You have muscle memory and the instincts of a witch, not a Muggle. I admit, it did take me a while to figure you out- I was much more interested in the Potters, who somehow survived the Killing Curse, but I still paid attention."
"Ah the Potters," Hermione said, smugly, "That would be my work there- a clever little potion I created a decade or two ago. It protects the drinker from the Unforgiveables for up to seventy-two hours. Of course, Harry was all Lily's doing- that was old magic, very powerful stuff. Love based, so of course you wouldn't understand it. I will admit, though, that sitting back and watching you hit Harry with the Killing Curse was one of the most painful things I've ever had to do- bar killing him, of course."
"Killing him?" Voldemort asked, sounding surprised and amused (bastard) by the revelation. Hermione decided to use this as a perfect segue.
§That's why I travelled back in time. Not because you won- you lost.
No, I travelled back in time because I had to kill my best friend, because he was a Horcrux§ Hermione hissed. Voldemort jerked, and for the first time in their encounter, he looked... wary.
§How do you know about Horcruxes?§ he demanded. §And what do you mean the Potter boy is a Horcrux?§
§Not 'a' Horcrux, 'your' Horcrux§ corrected Hermione, §and 'was', not 'is'. I removed and destroyed the parasite of your soul from him. Just like I did the Cup, the Diary, the Diadem, the Locket and the Ring§
§IMPOSSIBLE! YOU LIE§ hissed Voldemort, suddenly furious, and Quirrell made a sound of pain. Hermione's eyes glittered with fierce joy, and she pulled from her pocket each of the previously mentioned items- bar Harry, of course- using wandless magic to make them grow to their proper size as she threw them on the ground between her and the Dark Lord. "LIES! FAKES!" shrieked Voldemort, banishing them across the chamber, at the same time as Hermione took advantage of his distraction and yelled,
"EXPELLIARMUS! FIENDFYRE!" Quirrell's wand flew across the gap between them, into her hand, just as flames exploded in the room; gamboling flames in the forms of fiery chimeras, dragons, harpies, basilisks-
"You foolish girl! You can't apparate in Hogwarts! You will burn with me!" shrieked Voldemort, a look of raw terror on his face. Quirrell was screaming and screaming, and Hermione felt a sense of déjà vu, to that night in the forest. And she knew what she had to do.
"FAWKES!" she shouted, and the phoenix appeared in a burst of flame, and a trill.
"NOOOO!" screamed Voldemort, and Hermione, feeling the heat of the flames burn her skin even from the distance between her and the violent, dancing fiery beasts, grasped tight onto Fawkes, catching a glimpse of the flesh melting off Voldemort's twisted, parasitic face and the fire beasts swallowing Quirinus' body, before she was transported to the antechamber where Albus and Severus were waiting.
Severus pulled her into his arms, holding her, hugging her tight. She buried her face in his chest.
"It's done," he told her, rubbing circles on her back, "it's done- he's dead."
"I did it Harry," Hermione choked out, into Severus's robes, not seeing him, her lover, her fiancé, instead seeing her best friend, with his soft smile, his warm green eyes... "I saved everyone, Harry- for you."
"You did," Albus said, quietly, "you have accomplished what I thought was impossible. Now young Mr. Potter will lead a normal life, and this generation will be spared the horrors of war."
"Yes." Hermione whispered. "Yes."
Later that night, after a visit to Madam Pomfrey who looked questioningly at her burn injuries as she healed them but didn't say anything, seeing as both Albus and Severus were with her, Hermione and Severus retired to his quarters.
"Albus wants me to teach until the end of the year," Severus told her, as she curled into his side. She felt sick and tired and drained. Her purpose for the last thirty years, the purpose she'd had since she was twelve years old if she was honest, was complete. Harry was safe, Voldemort was gone, and she felt... empty. Confused. Uncertain.
Seemingly sensing her distress, Severus pulled her tighter to his body. "After that, we can do anything you want," he murmured into her ear, "we can go travelling, see the world, explore remote villages, learn new magic..."
"You really are my soul mate, aren't you?" Hermione said, with a watery laugh. "You know exactly what to say- you always do."
"Did you... did you love him?" Severus asked her, hesitantly, and Hermione could read the emotion he'd tried to keep hidden in his voice. "As in... in a romantic sense?"
"I don't know," Hermione answered, truthfully, knowing exactly who Severus was referring to. Harry Potter, her Harry Potter, her wonderful, darling, sweet, brave, brave, brave Harry. "I would have done anything for him- I would have died for him." She said, honestly, "I loved him so much, I really did, but... not in the same way as I love you. Not romantically. Maybe one day I could have loved him like that. If he hadn't died, I think we would have gone down that path. It would have been a... natural progression. I lost my virginity to him. As friends. We were alone in a tent, with prices on our heads, and no promise that tomorrow would come. So we made love- more then once. But it was never like it is with you. With you, when we make love, there's passion and desire... with Harry, it was need, a need for human contact and the wish, the desire to make the other as happy, to feel as good, as possible. Do you... do you understand?"
"I think I do," Severus said, cradling her gently, "Harry will always have a place in your heart, but not the place I fill. He means something else to you, something else entirely. Like... a sibling, but not quite. More."
"That's right," Hermione ran her fingers over the curve of Severus's jaw. "Just until the end of this school year, you say?"
"What?" Severus frowned, confused, before realizing what she was talking about, comprehension dawning, "now that the Dark Lo- ouch! Now that Voldemort is gone," he gave her a droll look, which she returned with an innocent one, as if she hadn't just fired a wandless stinging charm his way, "my safety doesn't rely on me having the post. I can go back to being a Potion's Master, not a professor," at the last word he pulled a disgusted face. Hermione laughed.
"Teaching seems like a complete pain in the arse," she said.
"Miss Granger!" Severus pulled a mock-affronted expression, "how dare you use such language! That will be five points from Gryffindor!"
"But professor," purred Hermione, "I'm in Ravenclaw." Severus smirked.
Hermione giggled, before looking up at him from under her eyelashes. "How about I... convince you to give me back those points, professor?" she murmured, seductively, hands moving down Severus's body. Severus shuddered slightly in pleasure.
"I don't know if you deserve those points, Miss Granger, you naughty witch," he groaned, as her hands rubbed him through the material of his pants. Hermione's expression turned downright wicked.
"Well then, professor, I guess you'll have to punish me." She said, shucking her skirt and shimmying over so she was lying across Severus's lap. Hermione smirked down at the bed sheets in front of her face as she felt Severus's arousal growing under her.
Sex was always a good distraction, and had the pleasant side effects of cheering her up, making her feel better, and producing a shit-load of delicious endorphins. And Severus was always willing to try whatever new, wicked ideas she came up with. She wiggled in anticipation as she heard him say, "accio paddle!"
Yes, sex was brilliant, and her lover even more so.
Chapter 9: Chapter Eight
"Do you, Mya Hope Wells, take thee, Severus Tobias Snape, to be your lawfully wedded husband?"
Setting up 'Mya Wells's' official I.D. had been simple. For the right amount of galleons, the goblins were capable of creating excellent forgeries, and with Albus applying the right amount of pressure in the right departments, 'Mya' was a halfblood, twenty-eight year old prodigy, born in England, educated in America, before moving back to Britain following the deaths of her parents in a muggle car accident.
Now that her fake identity now actually existed in the legal pathways, Hermione and Severus wasted no time in planning a small, very private wedding. And by that, she meant that the only guest in attendance was Albus, and that was because they needed a witness. And the minister, of course, a witch they'd hired called Wendelyn something- having a female minister was one of Hermione's only stipulations.
"I do," Hermione said, smiling softly at her almost-husband. Severus looked very handsome in his muggle tuxedo, and personally Hermione thought she looked very pretty.
Her characteristic bushy curls were gone, instead her chestnut locks were twisted in an elegant knot, held in place by a floral comb that had belonged to Eileen Prince, Severus's deceased mother. A single curl hung dark between her shoulder blades, a startling contrast to the sweeping white dress and Hermione's creamy skin.
"Do you, Severus Tobias Snape, take thee, Mya Hope Wells, to be your lawfully wedded wife?"
For one awful moment, Hermione was afraid that Severus would back out, that he'd run, bolt, leaving her alone, with nothing, like she had been, for so many years.
As if sensing her fear, Severus gently squeezed her hands, and looked at her, lovingly.
"I do." He said, strongly, and Hermione tried to blink back her tears, but was largely unsuccessful.
"Then I declare you bonded for life. You may kiss the bride," the minister said, raising her wand, letting a shower of golden stars rain down on them. Severus reached forwards, gently cradling her head in his hands, then kissed her.
Hermione kissed him back, deeply and passionately. It took Albus clearing his throat for them to break apart, a few minutes later. Albus's cheeks were a touch pink, but the old wizard looked delighted.
"May I be the first to offer my congratulations to the new couple," he said, and Hermione smiled fondly at him.
"Of course you may, Albus." She said. Severus laughed.
"You'll be the only person to offer their congratulations," he said.
"Nonsense," Albus declared, "Minerva will be thrilled by the news!" Severus pulled a face.
"Salazar," he grumbled, good-naturedly, "must you tell her?"
"Well she is bound to ask about that ring on your finger," pointed out Albus, "and seeing as she is my Deputy I will have to tell her about you leaving at the end of the year to go off cavorting around the globe with your beautiful bride."
"Albus!" groaned Severus, but Albus just smiled innocently, eyes twinkling madly behind his half-moon spectacles.
Their honeymoon lasted for two weeks, in which Hermione was said to be laid up in the Hospital Wing with a particularly nasty case of Spattergroit, and Severus was away due to 'family matters'. Nobody, not even the staff, dared inquire into what exactly 'family matters' specified to, and Poppy, as per the Headmaster's request, backed up the story, and kept a cot quarantined off where Hermione supposedly was bedridden.
Hermione knew that Albus had told Poppy a fair bit about her true origins, but she didn't really mind. She knew that Poppy was bound by her Healer's Oath not to tell anyone, and she trusted the woman, and she trusted Albus. Besides, having Poppy on board gave her access to a series of fantastic alibies.
It was after their honeymoon, and a week after they'd returned to Hogwarts, that Albus approached them.
"You want us to what?" Hermione asked, loudly, looking at the Headmaster like he'd just suggested the moon was made of cheese, or requested that she go make love to a donkey.
"I would like you to address the Order," Albus said, "and let them know that, for once and for all, the threat of Voldemort has been dealt with."
"But- but- me?" protested Hermione.
"My Wells is a prodigy who graduated early from her class and trained as American magical Special Forces. Upon her return to Britain, she teamed up with ex-Death Eater turned spy Severus Snape to hunt down Voldemort's Horcruxes and destroy the Dark Lord, permanently. Along the way, the pair of you fell in love, and after Voldemort's death, you married."
"And My Wells became My Snape." Finished Hermione, before practically pouting at the old man. "I don't like it."
"I didn't think you would," admitted Albus, "but the Order does deserve closure."
"I'm going to have to provide proof!" complained Hermione.
"My word should be proof enough, but should they require more, perhaps we could all swear magical oaths that Voldemort is completely dead, and unable to be resurrected in any way, shape or form." Suggested Albus. Hermione growled under her breath.
"I really don't like it."
"Sherbet lemon?" offered Albus. Hermione let out a frustrated sound and flounced from the room. Severus gave Albus an amused look before following after her. Albus cheerily popped a sherbet lemon into his mouth and sucked happily.
The Order gathered at Potter Manor, and Hermione shifted uncomfortably in her seat next to Severus. She felt odd, sitting before all these people who she knew so well, but were complete strangers. Under the table, Severus held her hand, and she took comfort in his touch.
"I'm glad to see everyone has arrived," Albus said, cheerfully, once the entire Order had gathered.
"Is there a reason you've called us all together, Albus?" asked an uncertain James, "Harry's okay, right?"
"Harry's more then okay," Albus assured the worried father, "and it's good news I bring you- the best, in fact! Voldemort is no longer a problem."
There was dead silence following his words, and then Lily spoke up. "What?" she gasped, green eyes wide. "I thought you said that he wasn't gone- that he was a- a spirit, or a wraith or something!"
"He was," Albus nodded, "in fact, he was possessing Quirinus Quirrell, the Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, up until three weeks ago." There were gasps and exclamations around the table.
"Quirrell disappeared," James said, slowly, "nobody knows where he vanished to."
"A little fib to the DMLE on my behalf, I'm afraid," admitted Albus, "My, dear girl, why don't you speak up?" he said, and Hermione resisted the urge to grimace as all eyes turned to her, some noticing her presence for the first time.
"Albus, who is she?" Kingsley asked, while Lily gave her an angry look.
"My is the one responsible for the permanent demise of Voldemort." Albus said.
"What?" demanded Lily, shrilly.
"Does anyone here know what a Horcrux is?" Hermione decided to cut straight to the chase.
Several faces paled. "That's Dark magic," Mad-Eye said, roughly.
"Are you saying You-Know-Who made a Horcrux?" demanded Sirius, "That's why he didn't die?"
"I'm not saying he made a Horcrux- I'm saying he made six." Hermione said, calmly, "Well, he intentionally made five- the sixth was an accident, the result of an unstable soul, ripped apart so many times. The sixth Horcrux, the unintentional one was Harry Potter- or he used to be, anyway. The Horcrux is destroyed."
"Did you hurt my baby!?" screeched Lily, leaping to her feet and brandishing her wand dangerously.
"No, I saved his fucking life, you bloody harpy!" Hermione shouted back at the redhead, flicking her wand, almost absently, to deflect Lily's curse, "I took the Horcrux out of his scar and destroyed it, like I destroyed the others! Voldemort- oh grow a pair all of you, he's dead, you can say his bloody name!- was possessing Quirrell so I engineered a confrontation between us, once the Horcruxes were disposed of. I killed him, unfortunately destroying his host in the process, but Quirrell was dead the moment he let Voldemort's spirit into his heart and mind."
"How did you even know about the Horcruxes? And how can we trust your word?" demanded Mad-Eye.
"You don't have to trust my word," Hermione said, coolly, "You just have to trust Albus's."
"I witnessed Voldemort's true death and the destruction of the Horcruxes. I swear on my magic that she is not lying about either." Albus said gravely, and his magic flashed. Albus then cast a lumos, causing the tip of the Elder Wand to light up with a brilliant beam.
"Albus!" Minerva looked shaken, "you- you just risked your magic!"
"No I didn't, Minerva, because I know that which I am saying is true." Albus said, "and I know that which Mrs. Snape here is saying is true."
"Mrs. Snape?" this was Lily again, her green eyes narrowed dangerously.
"I met Severus after I moved back to Britain with my plan to end Voldemort." Hermione lied, flawlessly, "we've worked together to bring about Voldemort's death since. After he was finally finished, we decided to tie the knot. We have been dating for almost a decade, after all."
Lily, Hermione was viciously pleased to see, looked angry, the redhead obviously extremely peeved about not being the most important girl in Severus's life anymore, and apparently having not been for quite some time.
"Congratulations Severus," Minerva said, looking the opposite of Lily, happy and proud of her colleague, and sometimes-friend.
"Thank you, Minerva," Severus said.
"I already knew you had married, but Albus made me wait to congratulate you until you'd announced it to everyone." Minerva continued, "he told me when he announced you would be leaving at the end of the year to travel with your new wife."
"I know," Severus scowled at the whistling headmaster, "he said he was going to, and I was only half sure he was joking at the time."
"Is there no way I can convince you to stay?" Minerva said, hopefully, "perhaps if I offered the lovely Mrs. Snape the position of Defense Against the Dark Arts professor?"
"I'm sorry, Ms. McGonagall, but teaching isn't my passion," Hermione told her favorite professor, "now that this part of my life is over, I want to leave Britain and see the world."
"Call me Minerva, and I'm sure you will enjoy it very much... Hermione."
This last word was uttered soft enough that only Hermione and Severus could hear. Hermione smiled, not exactly surprised the astute Deputy Headmistress had figured it out.
"I think I will, Minerva." She said, "It's been decades since I was able to relax."
"Good luck." Minerva reached across and gently squeezed her hands. "And good luck to you too, Severus."
"For a Gryffindor, Minerva's quite sneaky." Severus grumbled later, good-naturedly, as they lay on their bed.
"You're forgetting that I'm a Gryffindor." Hermione reminded him. Severus shuddered.
"Don't remind me! The shame!"
"Oh hush," Hermione rolled her eyes, "you know you love me."
"I do," Severus admitted, "I really do."
Chapter 10: Epilogue
"I don't want to go," Hermione mumbled, petulantly.
"My," Severus said, amused, "it's a Christmas party, not an execution."
"A Christmas party thrown by the shrew," pointed out Hermione, not pleased at all by the idea of attending the Potter's annual event, and hence her throwing her annual argument.
"You'll get to see Harry and Holden," coaxed Severus and, like every year, Hermione instantly folded.
"Oh all right," she sighed.
"Mum! Mum!" Her son skidded into the room, his eyes bright.
"Yes, Harrison?" Hermione smiled fondly at her eldest child. Harrison Ronald Snape had dark hair that fell to his shoulders and long, thin fingers like his father, but he had her slight build and hazel eyes.
"I think I finished my runic pentagon!" Harrison said, gleefully, eyes shining brightly. "Do you think you could check it?"
Hermione smiled proudly at her fourteen year old son completing a task that most NEWT Ancient Runes students struggled with. "Of course, love," she said, before noting her husband's expression and sighing. "But you have to get ready for the Potter's Christmas party first."
Harrison looked dismayed. "Really?" He asked, his tone almost a perfect copy of hers, minutes before. "We're going to that thing again?" Harrison was about as fond of the Potters as she was. Sure, he didn't mind Holden, and his wife Luna and their four children; Selina, Ipomoea, Lorcan and Lysander, but the rest of the Potters irritated him as much as they irritated her.
"Sorry Harrison," Hermione told him, regretfully.
"Mum! Dad! Elly took my wand!" Shouted an indignant Rosaline, as she charged into the room. Eileen followed at a slower pace, a smug look on her face.
The sisters both had Hermione's wild, somewhat bushy curls, though Eileen had the same black hair as her father, and Rosaline had the same shade of chestnut as Hermione.
"Rosie won't admit that she's the one who released a niffler in Fee's room. I'll give it back when she does." Eileen informed them. "And it's warded against being summoned." She added, smugly.
"I've taught you well," Hermione smiled proudly at her daughter, before turning to Severus. "You're better at choosing punishments, love." She told him, easily able to catch the amused glint in his eyes, "what do you think will be appropriate in these circumstances?"
Rosaline and Eileen both looked dismayed at this turn of events- Severus really did pick the best punishments- and Hermione bit back the urge to laugh.
Rosaline 'Rosie' and Eileen 'Elly' were her older daughters, aged eleven and thirteen respectfully, while her youngest daughter, Ophelia 'Fee', was eight.
Hermione's family was the best thing that had ever happened to her. She and Severus had been travelling the world for five, almost six, years before Hermione found out she was pregnant and they headed back to the motherland; good old Britain. They were both more then ready to start a family, and the arrival of their son had been one of the happiest moments of Hermione's life.
A year and a half later, Eileen entered the world, another two years then Rosaline, and finally, three years after Rosaline's birth, little Ophelia came into the world.
Of course, Hermione wasn't the only one with a family now. Harry Potter, now thirty-one, had married Hermione's sister Emilia almost as soon as he graduated from Hogwarts and they'd popped out three children, while Ron and her other sister, Paulina, got hitched and produced a pair of progeny of their own.
Hermione's heart still ached when she thought of Harry, and she avoided thinking or talking about him, though occasionally she couldn't resist looking. Which was why when the harpy- er, Lily- invited Severus to Christmas parties, she usually went along- after putting up a token fuss, of course. Besides, she always enjoyed seeing Holden, and his small corner of the Potter family.
Not many people could connect My Snape with Hermione Granger, the quiet, Muggleborn prodigy who disappeared from the Wizarding world after her first year of Hogwarts. Even her parents, Emilia and Paulina didn't know the true circumstances behind their daughter and older sister's disappearance, and the charms layered over them, certain subtle compulsions buried deep in their psyches, insured that they wouldn't look too deep.
The people who did know the truth about 'My Snape', her true identity and origins, consisted of a list that didn't even fill one hand- Albus, Minerva, Poppy and her husband, Severus. Not even her children knew that she had travelled back from the future to destroy Voldemort, all in the name of her best friend, her first real love, Harry Potter. And she'd done it. She'd saved the world, defeated Voldemort- oh, did he count as someone who knew her secret? Because he had figured it out... of course, he was dead now, killed by her own hand in fact...
"My," Severus's voice broke her from her thoughts. She supposed she was getting that look again, as he described it, when her face shadowed and her eyes aged decades before him.
"Yes?" She asked her husband, and he touched her arm gently, expression soft.
"We don't have to go," he told her. Hermione shook her head.
"No, I do want to see him." She said. And she meant it- seeing Harry, happy, healthy, married and with a family of his own- James Jr 'Jimmy' and the twins Beatrice and Bianca (going with the Shakespeare theme Helen Granger had started with her three daughters- even Hermione had named her two youngest daughters after characters of the bard), made her heart sing, and reaffirmed to her that she'd made the right choice, those few decades ago.
Severus smiled at her, softly, warmly, and held out his hand. "Let's go," he said, and Hermione slipped her fingers through his and smiled back at him.
"Yes." She agreed. "Let's go."