Chapter 1: Prologue
Hermione Jane Granger was a very intelligent woman. She was, in fact, a genius. A prodigy. Her power, talent and mind rivalled those of the greatest sorcerers and sorceresses that had ever lived.
Hermione had been hired by the Department of Mysteries at age eighteen, after completing her NEWTs and blitzing all recorded results. She'd apprenticed under Old Croaker himself, gone on to gain a Mastery in Ancient Runes, Arithmancy and Arcane Magic and in less then a decade was Head of the Department. In her time there she performed astounding magic, one of the most impressive been the creation of a runic array that nullified the magic of the Unforgiveable Curses.
The main focus of her studies, however, had always been Time. Time was a strange, wonderful thing, something all Unspeakables knew; the fifth dimension in a three dimensional world, Time was unknowable and infinite and held the entire Universe together. Hermione was the only Unspeakable who had done more then scratch the surface of Time's secrets, yet even she had barely dinted the knowledge— but she knew enough for what she needed to do, as for the last decade Hermione had been planning one thing and one thing only; to travel back in time.
She wasn't planning on going back a few hours, no, she planned to travel all the way back to the very beginning of her life, to her own birth, and she planned on changing everything. Why? Because her best friends were dead and Harry had been slain by her own hand.
Discovering Harry was a Horcrux had been the most awful thing 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 hours dead by then, he'd burned up in the flames in the Room of Requirement, and Harry... Harry had looked up at her with those beautiful green eyes, kissed her cheek then told her he loved her and she'd pushed the basilisk 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 what remained of the Order of the Phoenix and the DA, storming the Forbidden Forest where Voldemort and his army resided. Neville had succeeded in slaying Nagini, the last Horcrux, 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'd waited until the Order and the DA were out of the forest and then she'd set it all alight with Fiendfyre— for Harry and Ron. After all, only the Headmaster or Headmistress and Mediwitch of Hogwarts could apparate inside her grounds and there was a reason why Umbridge had never been able to enter the Headmaster's office— Snape had been allowed entrance for he'd had Dumbledore's blessing, as well as the students' welfare as his top priority; Hogwarts would accept no Death Eater, and she certainly would not accept Voldemort.
And so Voldemort, along with his followers, had burned, and Hermione, kneeling on the ground, sobbing and heartbroken, had waited for the cursed flames to claim her life too, only for Fawkes to appear and carry her to safety.
The Forbidden Forest had 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 ending the reign of terror and they had celebrated her as their saviour; the Woman Who Won.
Hermione hadn't cared. 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 then cloistered herself in the depths of the Department of Mysteries. For many long, lonely years, she shied away from society and concentrated on her studies, pushing the boundaries of magical knowledge beyond the point that anyone had pushed them before.
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 in her creation.
Her masterpiece resembled an hourglass; a silver, interlocked chain with thousands of tiny runes carved into all available surfaces looped around her neck and the silver hourglass with the rune for 'Time' carved into the top hung directly over her heart. The product of years and years of labor, if it worked then her soul would be ripped from her body, be sent back 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 the backlash would kill her— she just couldn't bring herself to give a fuck. Not anymore.
She would never get her Harry and Ron back, but goddamnit she would make sure Harry 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 centre, and activated the hourglass.
There was a blinding flash of light, an infinite moment of pain and then the body of Hermione Jane Granger appeared to disintegrate into nothingness as every molecule that made up her being split apart. The air pulsed and crackled with a violent surge of magical energy that spanned across the entire globe.
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 scrunched her eyes closed and tried not to think about what was happening. Feeling cold air on her slimy, 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 and looking down at her with adoring eyes made her feel a pang of guilt, for Helen and Richard Granger thought they had just created an innocent, perfect little baby girl and instead their daughter was a thirty-two year old woman trapped in the body of an infant. Hermione comforted herself with the thought that she could 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 and they deserved the child they’d longed for.
Being an infant was very trying of Hermione's patience. It meant she couldn't talk, couldn't consume anything other then her mother's breast milk for months (the less said about that the better) and couldn't control any of her fine motor skills. Practicing wandless magic was her only salvation as while her body had been reduced to something pathetic and reliant on the mercy of those around her, her magic levels were just as strong as they had always been. Training herself to use 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 Cordelia Joy Granger was born a mere eleven months after her own birth. Her parents now busy caring for the newborn 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 much higher then average intelligence and they started hiring private tutors for her, having decided that she was too young for school but not wanting to let her talent go to waste. Hermione really wished they hadn’t as it didn’t make the time passing more bearable, not when she was being taught a lower primary school level curriculum.
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 Hecate, Circe and Morgana that a two, almost three-year-old owl was bigger then a two, almost three-year-old child) shifted into 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 Ageing 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 an illegal wand from Knockturn Alley and all the Ageing 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. If only Lily Evans Potter had 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.
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 duelled first James then Lily, subduing and stunning them both before using pure magic to trace out the runic triskaidecagon array she’d created years ago over their hearts, watching with satisfaction as it blazed to life before sinking under their skin where it would brand itself into their very soul.
Runes created directly from pure magic were much more powerful then those drawn out with ink or blood, though the risk involved increased dramatically— only Masters of Arithmancy dared to attempt such an undertaking, as a rune drawn out directly with magic could leech the magic from a witch or wizard entirely, should they lose control.
Magic that involved the soul, however, was the most powerful, complex magic of all and neither ink or blood would have worked— the magic of the Unforgiveable curses was... complicated, to say the least, but all three had the same baseline magic, as did several other of the Darkest curses known to wizardkind, and it was that baseline magic she had capitulated upon when created the array to nullify the Unforgiveables.
While she’d love to publish her creation, there were maybe three people alive other then herself who would be capable of drawing out then activating the triskaidecagon array, and despite having created it in an effort to protect the magical population, she knew it would end up killing more people then it saved when people failed to draw it out correctly.
Lily and James Potter, however, would both have the rare protection the triskaidecagon array offered and when Voldemort cast the Killing Curse on them tonight, the Unforgiveable would see Lily and James unconscious in a state that mimicked death but left them alive (it had taken only an adjustment to the array to make that so, considering that it was intended to simply nullify the Unforgiveables entirely with no effect whatsoever on the recipient— she’d had two years, however, to figure it out).
Hermione wiped both of the Potters’ memories of her invasion and attack and then shifted into her animagus form and purching up in a tree in the backyard, hidden but watching (and occasionally having to shift back to top up on the Ageing Potion).
Everything played out that night 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.
Despite popular opinion, it hadn’t been Lily’s sacrifice, her love for her infant son, that had caused Voldemort’s “death” when he tried to murder Harry. However selfless and commendable as Lily’s actions were, she was not the first witch, or wizard, for that matter, to die for their child. No, it was during Hermione’s research into the Unforgiveable Curses combined with her memories of viewing Snape’s memories following the Battle of Hogwarts that she had uncovered what had really caused Voldemort’s spell to backfire that night. Lily’s sacrifice had certainly played a significant role, but it had ultimately been Snape’s love that had saved Harry.
The Dark Mark was more then just a symbol, more then just a tattoo that Voldemort used to summon his Death Eaters— the magic that made up the Mark was tied to the magic of those he’d branded with it; it was what allowed his Death Eaters to apparate to his side, wherever he was, what allowed them to notify their Lord to where they were and call him to them.
With how closely the magic of his followers was thus tied to Voldemort’s own magic, when Snape had asked for Voldemort to spare Lily and he had agreed, they had unintentionally made the equivalent to an Unbreakable Vow. And when Lily had begged Voldemort to kill her instead of Harry and he had once again agreed, the magic of the Vow had shifted— and when Voldemort then attempted to kill Harry, he’d broken that Vow and paid the price.
Hermione’s heart was in her throat and she had to fight her every instinct as Voldemort pointed his wand at Harry and spoke the damning words— “Avada Kedavra!”— but just as it had in her original time-line, the Killing Curse backfired in an explosion of raw magic so strong part of the house collapsed around the nursery.
Hermione shifted back to human form, knowing she had mere moments to act. She took Voldemort's wand, edited James and Lily's memories so they'd think Voldemort hit them with a stunning spell instead of the Killing Curse and then she apparated away, though not to her home and her bed to sleep off the exhaustion and emotional drain of the last twenty-four hours— sadly, her night wasn’t over yet.
Frank and Alice Longbottom hadn't hidden under a Fidelius, which meant finding them had been far easier and Hermione hadn’t had to torture a Secret Keeper who was actually one of the 'good guys’ for the location. She’d never known what time Bellatrix, Rabastan and Rodolphus Lestrange and Barty Crouch Junior had attacked and tortured the Longbottoms into insanity, only that it had happened the day after Halloween and so she once again hid, this time under a Disillusionment spell, and settled in to wait for them to arrive.
Eleven hours and four Ageing Potions later, the Lestrange brothers and Barty Crouch Junior arrived. The fight was over before it began, if it could even be called a fight. Bellatrix hadn’t arrived with them, much to Hermione’s frustration, but she hadn’t dared to wait for the mad witch to arrive, not wanting to risk the Longbottoms coming to harm.
She hit the three wizards from behind with a series of quick cutting curses to decapitate them all, making sure Barty Crouch Junior, who she’d gladly admit to holding a grudge against, was first to die. Rabastan Lestrange, the last to die, had time to fire off one spell which she neatly deflected before his head rolled from his shoulders to the ground. It was then a simple matter to vanish the blood transfigure each of their bodies into a bone that when she left, she’d take with her to remove any evidence from the scene— it was a trick that Barty Crouch Junior had unintentionally taught her, back in her fourth year when he’d killed his father and hidden the body right under the nose of Albus Dumbledore himself.
Hermione waited several more hours for Bellatrix to arrive but after a full day had passed and the mad witch didn’t show, Hermione resigned herself to the fact that the bitch wasn’t going to turn up. As frustrating as it was, the butterfly effect was something she’d already resigned herself to— the ripples caused by Lily and James’s survival might as well be tsunamis for how drastically it would change the future from the one she’d known. Maybe Bellatrix had gone after the Potters, maybe a Sirius Black who was not stricken with grief, guilt and betrayal had hunted down his cousin in the aftermath of Voldemort’s death, maybe a single butterfly had flapped its wings and caused a hurricane on the other side of the world.
The more she changed things, the less accurate her knowledge from the previous timeline would be. It was a fact both fortunate and unfortunate and there was nothing she could do but accept it and adapt.
With nothing else she could do in that moment, Hermione returned home to her parents, taking a momentary detour to bury the transfigured bones in a park near her house. Thoroughly exhausted from being awake close to forty-eight hours at that point, she collapsed in her bed and went to sleep.
Chapter 3: Chapter Two
Hermione hadn’t been looking for love, when she travelled back in time. Romance had, in fact, been the very last thing on her mind. But considering how much she’d already changed things and had found herself having to readjust her plans accordingly, perhaps it shouldn’t have been quite as much of a surprise as it was.
Since the Halloween that had changed everything, Hermione had been to Diagon Alley countless times, for both research and pleasure— play-acting as a child, even a prodigious genius child, was dull and tiresome and she welcomed every chance she got to escape the tedium.
Her frequent visits meant she was up to date with what was happening in the Wizarding World, information she valued immensely. For instance, she knew that Harry was growing up with both his parents this time round and that Lily and James had done an admirable job of protecting him from the fame.
She’d felt sick to her stomach when she learned that seven months after the Halloween, Lily had given birth to a baby girl, Ivy Potter— it meant that in the original timeline, Lily had been pregnant when Voldemort had murdered her; a third, unknown and unacknowledged victim of that terrible night. It also meant, much to her horror, that Hermione’s choice to let Voldemort attack the Potters could have resulted in Ivy’s death when the pregnant Lily was hit with the Killing Curse.
For obvious reasons, Hermione had never tested if the runic array worked to protect a growing fetus from an Unforgiveable cast on its mother— it was pure luck that the death of Harry’s unborn sister hadn’t ended up on her conscience (she didn’t think she could bear sharing the responsibility of another dead Potter, one had already been enough to nearly drive her to suicide).
Lily had given birth to two more children after Ivy, another daughter that the Potters had named Mariposa and a son they’d named Fleamont— though the children appeared to more commonly be referred to as “Posey” and “Monty”, going by Teen Witch and Witch Weekly.
Speaking of Witch Weekly, according to the gossip magazine Sirius Black was still famously single and a successful Auror, alongside his best friends James Potter and Remus Lupin. It was briefly mentioned that Remus had married a witch named Marlene McKinnon and the two of them had a daughter, Diana Lupin, who was most well-known for the fact that she was best friends with Posey Potter and both girls would be attending Hogwarts at the same time.
(Pettigrew was “enjoying” a nice, cozy cell in Casa de Azkaban and Hermione couldn't wait to cut the rat’s stay there short— and cut off a few other things while she was at it)
Despite the fact she’d obsessively tracked the lives of the Potters, and by default the other two Marauders, Hermione hadn’t looked up anyone else from her past— future?— and it was quite by chance that her unlikely romance came to be with one of the wizards from her past that she’d have least expected.
Hermione had been shopping at the Apothecary and buying her usual supply of Ageing Potions when someone had startled her from behind, asking her, “have you ever considered just brewing it?"
In response, she turned around sharply, her hand moving automatically to her wand only for her to find herself face-to-face with an amused-looking Severus Snape. Upon seeing and processing who it was, she relaxed slightly and gave her ex-Potion's professor a droll look.
"Do I look like an idiot?" she demanded, enjoying the fact she could actually speak back to the dour Potions Master— only, Snape didn't look as dour as he had in her timeline; not nearly so tired and bitter. Lily surviving that Halloween night meant the guilt he'd once permanently suffered wasn't there, and he seemed... happy. Hermione thought happiness suited him.
“You don’t give off the impression of an idiot, but every time I see you in here, you're buying Ageing Potion by the bulk,” Snape pointed out. “Surely you’ve considered brewing it yourself?”
“Brewing is time-consuming,” she admitted, “and it requires both space and equipment I currently don’t have. It’s much simpler to just buy it ready-made and the difference in pricing isn’t overly extravagant."
“Fair enough,” Snape agreed easily enough. “My name’s Severus, by the way.” He introduced himself and Hermione blinked, wondering what alternate universe she'd just fallen into where Snape was actually halfway sociable. “I’m the one who brews all those Ageing Potions you’re always buying up.” He added with a smile and Hermione wondered if she’d sniffed some dodgy potion ingredients, because she was fairly certain she was hallucinating.
“Sorry about that,” she apologised faintly, before adding, “I’m Maia.”
Maia, she’d decided while thinking up an alternate name to introduce herself as in her aged-up form should anyone ever ask, was close enough to her real name that it would be easy for her to remember to respond to it considering it was basically the second and third syllables of ‘Hermione’.
"Maia," Snape repeated. “That’s a beautiful name.”
“Thank you… Severus.” Hermione smiled back at him, internally marvelling over the fact that she was using Severus Snape’s given name.
“I should be thanking you,” Snape said with a teasing smile, “you’re almost single-handedly paying my rent with all the Ageing Potions I’m being commissioned for.”
Hermione couldn't help her laughter at that and found herself oddly charmed by the pleased look on Severus’s face.
Much to her shock, she found that she liked this friendly, playful Snape. Would wonders never cease?
One meeting between them quickly became two, then three, four, five and so on, until it felt like every time she visited the Apothecary Snape was there (which made sense considering he worked there part-time, supplying the potions).
To her great surprise, Hermione found herself looking forward to talking with him— perhaps it was because he was the only person she spoke to who treated her like an actual adult, perhaps it was because he was an excellent conversationalist; it mattered little to her either way, she just enjoyed conversing with him and at some point had even stopped referring to him in her mind as ‘Snape’, instead changing to 'Severus'.
It was around that time that he asked her if she wanted to go get coffee with him.
And yes, it was definitely a date.
"So how old are you really?" Severus asked, after one coffee date had become four. They were well matched, both academics at heart with a great love of knowledge and learning. Severus was fascinated by her knowledge of Arcane Magic in particular while Hermione easily conceded to the fact Severus was a truly astounding potioneer.
"What makes you think this isn't my actual age?" She countered, not really bothered by his question— considering how it was they’d met, she’d been expecting him to ask sooner.
"Because, Maia, I'm not some dunderheaded, brain-dead fool," Severus pointed out and her lips twitched into a smile at his dry tone. "I see you drink it if we spend more then three hours together."
"Alright, so I possibly look younger then I am,” she freely admitted, "but my chronological age is my late thirties, my body is just... not quite there."
"I suppose asking how would be a waste?" Severus said, already resigned to the answer and she nodded with an apologetic grimace.
"Maybe one day," she said honestly, "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 slept together was after he invited her out for dinner for the first time— their coffee dates had always been a morning or afternoon affair. They went to his house afterwards and Hermione was briefly surprised to learn he lived in a muggle area before she became very pleasingly distracted. She didn't spend the night, they both knew she wouldn’t considering the potion would fade from her system as she slept, but they arranged to meet up again before she kissed him goodbye.
And meet up again they did. After all the time they'd spent chatting and getting to know 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 met and when they said goodbye.
When Hermione turned "seven", their relationship went through a second major change as Severus was hired as the Potions Master at Hogwarts. Now they wrote to each other multiple times a week, but could only really see each other in person over the school holidays.
Hermione had no issue with the arrangement for the foreseeable future, as when she started at Hogwarts she knew she would be in the same boat and this way she didn't have to go thinking up excuses. Still, she found herself missing Severus and looked forward to the time they spent together. For not having looked for romance in her past-made-present, she was more grateful then she could have ever imagined to have found it.
Chapter 4: Chapter Three
"Magic is real," Richard Granger said weakly, looking up at the Scottish professor with wide eyes. 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— Cordelia was a witch too and because she’d been born only eleven months after Hermione, she’d be joining her at Hogwarts which had definitely not been Hermione's intention. In fact, she was rather miffed about it.
The nine years that had passed since the Halloween had only been met with a moderate amount of success in regards to her mission. 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, the currently imprisoned Bellatrix, was in control of the Lestrange vault. When Bellatrix 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, breaking into Azkaban to kill Bellatrix was a much more appealing thought and it would be a simple(ish) matter to then 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.
And finally, there was Harry.
One of the very first things she'd ever researched when she'd started out in the Department of Mysteries was the process of transferring immensely powerful spells anchored on a single artefact to a different object. While she hadn’t known for certain before travelling back in time that it would work to transfer Horcruxes from their ‘soul jars’ into other objects, a process that would have saved Harry’s life in her original timeline, her calculations had indicated that it would— and when she’d tested the process on the Gaunt Ring and Slytherin’s Locket, she’d been successful on her first attempts with both.
When Voldemort was permanently gone, Hermione was considering either auctioning off the Founders’ heirlooms to the highest bidder to build herself up a nest egg or donate them to Hogwarts. She’d probably sell them— she wasn’t the moralistic little Gryffindor she’d once been and she’d never be that girl again.
"My daughters are witches?" Helen said faintly, drawing Hermione back from her thoughts and into the present. Her parents and Cordelia all looked mind-blown and Hermione hoped that she appeared similarly shocked.
Apparently she didn't, because Minerva turned to her, apparently surprised. "You don't seem very surprised, Miss Granger." She observed.
"Please call me Hermione, ma'am, and I'm not," Hermione answered truthfully. "I realised there was something... different about me a while ago and while I admit the idea of a whole separate society never dawned on me, but I did suspect that I would be contacted one day by someone with knowledge of my unusual abilities."
"You knew?" Cordelia asked with all the indignation of an eleven-year-old child. At just eleven years old to Hermione’s twelve, Cordelia was shorter then her and slightly round-faced with the same bushy hair, though hers was cut to her chin, making it far more manageable. She and Cordelia also shared the same button noses and chocolate brown eyes, but Hermione’s eyes were older, tireder (haunted), her face thinner and she kept her hair long, down past her mid-back.
“I didn’t know, I suspected,” Hermione corrected her sister.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Cordelia demanded upset.
"Well surely you noticed strange things happening around you when your emotions were running high," Hermione pointed out.
"Well, yes, but—“
"But you didn't tell me,” Hermione interrupted, "so I don't see how it's any different." Cordelia 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 located across the globe, mostly smaller ones, though there are four other large schools like Hogwarts— two in America; one in Salem and one on Mount Greylock, a third in the France Pyrenees and a fourth somewhere in Bulgaria."
"Somewhere?" Hermione raised an eyebrow.
"The location of Durmstrang is a closely guarded secret." Minerva said with a slight smile, “I believe 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 that 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 sister speak.
Several times, Minerva glanced over 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 organised with her parents for them all to meet at Charring Cross to take place in the Muggleborn orientation day, which mostly went the same as Hermione remembered from the first time around. The muggle parents all had hundreds of questions poor Minerva had to try and answer while the children chatted together excitedly. Cordelia 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 fond smile 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.
Their wands came last. Hermione wasn't surprised by her sister's wand— vinewood, with a unicorn tail hair core— as siblings often had similar wands and hers was also vinewood, though with a dragon heart-string core.
She was the last of the group to get her wand and unlike the others who’d taken around five to ten minutes, half an hour later Hermione was still in the shop, trying wand after wand. She’d been shocked, and had hidden it badly, when her old wand had quickly made its way into the discarded pile.
Finally, frustrated and shaken, 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 shelves and into her hand was... an understatement.
"Holly and phoenix feather, eleven inches." Ollivander murmured, eyeing her shrewdly, "not the wand I would have expected for you, Miss Granger.”
"No," Hermione said faintly, 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 after having collected it from the Potter's house that Halloween and it had worked fairly well for her, better then the second-hand Knockturn Alley 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 to him in thanks before leaving the shop, her confused parents trailing after her.
In the two months leading up to September 1st, 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 in return for being taught some slightly more questionable magic, and they both made the most of each other's company.
It had taken years into their relationship 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 had moved to a new level and she’d begun to then 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, about being tortured and about how some nights she couldn't sleep from the guilt and sorrow that strangled her, making it hard to even breathe.
On August 30th, she and Severus said their goodbyes, as Severus was leaving early the following day, and on September 1st Hermione, her parents and sister set off for Kings Cross station.
She was finally off to Hogwarts.
Hermione said her farewells to Helen and Richard, and then boarded the train with Cordelia. Her little sister was uncharacteristically quiet as they found a compartment together and as they waited Hermione tried to make conversation with her to settle her nerves.
The Hogwarts Express had just set off when a familiar dark-haired, bespectacled boy knocked on their compartment door. Hermione’s breath caught in her throat as for the first time in ten years she saw Harry in person (or twenty seven years, if she didn’t count that Halloween).
There were stark differences between this Harry and the one she remembered— without years of malnourishment and growing up in a cupboard, Harry was a little taller and a little broader and wearing gold-framed glasses instead of wire frames stuck together with sticky-tape. His messy hair looked the same as it did in her timeline, though, and so did his vibrant green eyes and his signature lightning bolt scar. He was wearing expensive-looking robes and was carrying a cage holding a speckled owl. Hermione felt a sudden pang for Hedwig and wondered who was blessed with owning the beautiful snowy owl in this time.
“Is it okay if I sit here?” Harry asked cheerfully, no trace of the shy, self-conscious boy she remembered in the happy, confident child.
“Sure,” Cordelia said with a smile that was only slightly wobbly. “Is it your first year at Hogwarts too?”
“Yeah,” Harry said, looking a little surprised— Hermione imagined he was used to everyone knowing exactly who he was and Witch Weekly, Teen Witch and even the Daily Prophet had all contained articles about how the Harry Potter was starting his first year at Hogwarts.
“My name’s Cordelia Granger,” Cordelia introduced herself, “but I like being called Cordie.”
“Nice to meet you, Cordie,” Harry replied happily. “I’m, um, I’m Harry.”
“It’s nice to meet you too,” Cordelia beamed at Harry, clearly relieved to be making a friend.
“I’m Hermione Granger,” Hermione said softly when Harry turned questioningly towards her. She had to look down at the book in her lap to hide how she was blinking back tears and abruptly, she wanted to leave, to run as far and fast as she could from the compartment. It was torture, being so close to a Harry she couldn’t touch, couldn’t cling onto and cry on the shoulder of and tell how much she loved him. It was worse then torture, to look into Harry’s green eyes and see no recognition there at all.
The sound of the compartment door opening again had her glancing up automatically, too twitchy about being in an enclosed space to not be aware of every movement of those around her, and it felt like a dagger had been thrust into her heart as she took in the sight of a nervous-looking gangly redhead with happy blue eyes and dirt on his nose.
“Mind if I sit here? Every other compartment I’ve passed so far is full.” Ron mumbled, with a hesitant smile.
“Sure,” Cordelia beamed at him and Harry stood up to help Ron with his trunk. Ron then gasped dramatically.
“You’re Harry Potter!” He exclaimed and Harry’s cheeks went pink but he still smiled at Ron.
“Yeah, I am, but I’m kind of keeping it quiet?” he said and Ron hastily nodded, his eyes as wide as galleons. Cordelia looked between them both in confusion.
“Are you… are you famous, Harry?” she asked, her voice hushed.
“It’s a long story,” Harry admitted and Hermione had to close her eyes as he explained about Voldemort and the war to Cordelia with Ron occasionally chiming in. She felt as if she was dying inside; her heart ached and the guilt and grief was so thick she could barely breathe, let alone speak.
Thankfully nobody tried talking to her until the snack trolley arrived and by then she’d managed to strengthen her Occlumency shields to reduce the intensity of her emotions. “Do you want anything?” Cordelia asked her, after nudging her in the ribs with her elbow to ‘get her attention’ from her book (Hermione hadn’t actually taken in a single word of her book for the last three hours).
“Just a sugar quill please,” she murmured, belatedly realising she shouldn’t have any idea about what wizarding candy existed. Thankfully, the three children didn’t notice her slip-up and Cordelia bought her three sugar quills.
As everyone munched on their treats, the conversation turned, of course, to the upcoming Sorting.
“What House do you think you’ll be in?” Cordelia asked Harry and Ron excitedly. “I hope I’m in Gryffindor!”
“Gryffindor; the House of Curse-First-And-Ask-Questions-Later-If-There-Are-Any-Intelligible-Bits-Left,” Hermione muttered to herself, wincing slightly when Harry laughed and she realised she hadn’t quite been quiet enough.
“You sound like my Mum,” he told her, his green eyes bright with amusement, “that’s probably one of the most accurate description of Gryffindor I've ever heard.”
“I’m definitely going to be a Gryffindor,” Ron said confidently. “All Weasleys are in Gryffindor.”
“What about you, Hermione?” Harry asked.
“She’s definitely going to be a Ravenclaw,” Cordelia said before Hermione could answer and Hermione didn’t try to correct her, nor did she bother to try and insert herself in the conversation as Cordelia, Ron and Harry chatted excitedly about the classes they were looking forward to, instead attempting to immerse herself in her book until they arrived at Hogwarts.
She stayed with Cordelia, Harry and Ron for the boat ride then edged away from them as they were greeted by Minerva in the Entrance Hall before being led into the Great Hall to be Sorted. All eyes were on them and Hermione had to use a deep breathing exercise to calm herself down.
The start of the Sorting went the way Hermione remembered until Minerva reached, "Granger, Cordelia!" She 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,
And then it was, “Granger, Hermione!”
Ignoring all the eyes on her, Hermione walked calmly over to the stool and sat down on the stool, lowering her Occlumency shields and then waiting. "Oh my goodness," the expected small voice exclaimed, shocked, "this is unusual!”
"Hello Aethelred," Hermione quietly greeted the Hat by its true 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, amused.
"And selfless too... though not afraid to do what has to be done," Aethelred muttered to itself as it rifled through her memories, pausing on the memories of her watching Voldemort cast the Killing Curse at an infant Harry, torturing Pettigrew and killing Rodolphus, Rabastan and Barty Jr from behind.
"You could fit into any of the Houses, really,” Aethelred finally 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 more then ambitious enough, wanting to change an entire future. I have no idea where to place you.”
"May I choose then?" She 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," she 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," it added.
"Thank you Aethelred," Hermione murmured, 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. 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!" Hermione had to duck her chin as her mouth curled into a small smile.
After the Sorting was complete and Dumbledore had given his "speech" (Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!) Hermione cast a subtle Notice-Me Not charm to turn the attention of her new housemates away from her then ate her dinner in relative peace. Once everyone had finished eating Dumbledore made his announcement about the third floor corridor which reminded Hermione that she needed to steal the Stone as soon as possible, wanting to make sure it was far out of reach of Voldemort— she didn’t want to risk the changes she’d made resulting in him to attempting to steal the Stone earlier then he had in her original timeline.
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, gave a short but concise and informative introduction to the new Ravenclaw first years before sending them all off to their dorms for the night. Hermione was sharing a 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 made sure to cast silencing charms over her bed, knowing she was in for a restless night filled with nightmares.
Chapter 5: Chapter Four
Stealing the Stone wasn't that difficult, considering three first years had been capable of getting past the defences. Hermione completed that task before breakfast. Honestly, if Voldemort wasn't such a coward, he wouldn't have had to wait around until June. The Mirror of Erised wasn’t even set up in the last room yet, instead the Stone was contained in a heavily warded pouch. It only 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 animagus and flew back out of the chambers.
After locking the Stone in her trunk, the inside of which was covered with enough runic arrays that her trunk could be hit by a nuclear missile without receiving a single scratch, Hermione made her way to the Great Hall where Filius was already handing out schedules, and the small professor giving her a bright, beaming smile as she accepted hers.
The first week of classes passed the same way as Hermione remembered it, though her schedule was slightly different considering 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 painfully simple. Even Potions failed to break the monotonous routine, though Hermione was gratified that Severus didn't appear to recognise her.
Astronomy and History of Magic were the only two classes she shared with Harry (and Ron and Cordelia). Harry already appeared to have made fast friends with Ron and Cordelia and Hermione wasn't exactly sure why that had surprised her. It just… it felt like she’d been replaced and that hurt. To stop feeling like she’d been stabbed in the heart every time she saw the three of them she had to remind herself of the fact that her Harry and Ron didn't exist outside her memories anymore and that her purpose was to make sure that Harry was raised right this time, that his childhood was as safe and as normal as possible.
Flying lessons with the 'Puffs passed peacefully and without interruption. She heard later that Harry, once again, made it onto the Gryffindor Quidditch team, thanks to Draco Malfoy and she tried not to cry (her heart ached just as much at everything that stayed the same as it did the things that she’d changed).
Hermione took care to perform above average in classes, but not to stand out. Easily and swiftly completing any homework and tasks given to her, she spent a majority of her time planning what to do about the Death Eaters. After much consideration she’d decided the best move would be to get rid of them and gave herself the deadline of the last day of the Christmas holidays to deal with the inner circle then 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 (she would definitely be making sure Umbridge met a sticky end).
With how occupied she was planning out the assassinations of multiple high-profile targets she didn't even realise 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 in order to avoid having to join the Great Hall and all the children within it during meals 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 without hesitation 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 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, calm and matter-of-fact. The two professors stared wide-eyed at her.
“That’s-- that's very advanced transfiguration for a first year," Minerva finally said in amazement, and Hermione shrugged, feeling uncomfortable.
"I've always been an advanced student." She admitted.
"You haven't shown this skill in classes," argued Minerva. "You're clearly an above average student, and your essays are always perfect, but you've never shown this sort of affinity!”
“I don’t like standing out,” Hermione confessed with a slight wince. “So I make an effort to ensure I don’t.”
"Hermione!" Several voices called out in relief and Hermione turned to see Harry, Cordelia and Ron rushing around the corner accompanied by Severus. Brief confusion filtered through her, before she concentrated on Cordelia yanking her into a hug.
“Oh thank god,” she breathed before 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 your first years as they were running through the corridors," Severus drawled, "they said he was looking for Miss Granger’s sister, who has a habit of skipping meals and apparently was not safely located inside the Ravenclaw Tower."
How did they—? Oh, the Map, she realised. She hadn’t realised Cordelia had been watching her close enough to know her habit of avoiding the Great Hall but it warmed her slightly to realise her sister had been concerned for her.
"I was so worried!" Cordelia shivered slightly, genuinely looking pale. She then glanced down at the dead troll and turned green. “Thank god the professors got here on time!”
"Actually, the troll was Miss Granger's work." Filius squeaked, looking excited. "She used advanced transfiguration to defeat the beast!"
“Yeah, she’s a genius," Cordelia said, not even slightly surprised. Severus, Hermione had to grudgingly admit, didn't look surprised either. Slytherins were harder to fool, she consoled herself, and while Severus apparently hadn’t fallen for her average student act, he hadn't called her out for it 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, “we don’t know for sure that this troll was the only one."
“Yes sir," Hermione agreed without fuss, saying a quick (and slightly awkward) goodbye to Coredelia (and avoiding meeting either Harry or Ron’s eyes). She and Severus 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.
“I must admit it’s a surprise to see you here, Maia.”
Hermione blinked at Severus and wondered if she should act confused but realised 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 recognise you?"
"Well, I had hoped my acting skills had improved," she admitted.
"Am I going to hear that story now?" Severus asked, arching a dark brow, and Hermione sighed, absently waving her hand to conjure up two seats.
"I suppose I do owe you an explanation," she agreed. Severus was visibly shocked by her use of advanced wandless, wordless magic, but he silently sat down on one of the newly provided seats. "In about four years from now, Voldemort is resurrected." Hermione stated, deciding to dive right into the matter, “and in the three years that follow everyone I love is killed in the war against him. So I spent fifteen years creating a way to send my soul back in time— and I succeeded, sending myself back to my own birth. Which was very unpleasant, let me tell you, and being an infant was bloody awful, but it’s been worth it, I've already managed to change so much and for the better.
"Originally, Harry Potter was my best friend and his childhood was heartbreaking. His parents were murdered by Voldemort when he was fifteen months old and he was left to be raised in an abusive household, every year he was at Hogwarts he suffered a near death experience and from the moment he was resurrected to the moment he was killed Voldemort did his very best to find and kill him— all the while Harry was being told he was the world’s only hope for defeating Voldemort, putting the weight of stopping him on a schoolboy’s shoulders!
“I decided that 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!” She finished fiercely.
Severus was staring at her at her in open shock, the sudden onslaught of her unbelievable claims apparently overriding even his perfected Slytherin mask. Hermione smiled sadly at him, blinking back tears. “I am so fucked up,” she told him honestly. “The war… it changed me, it changed all of us.” She gave a shaky laugh. “I wasn’t always like I am now,” she confessed, “once upon a time, I was a teacher's pet and a ‘know-it-all— an 'annoyingly cheerful little chit' as I believe you once called me at an Order meeting…
“Once upon a time I would have loved Cordelia, would have leapt at the chance to reach out and befriend everyone I spent so many years mourning… but that girl is dead." She whispered, wet and ragged, no longer able to hold back the tears that started trickling down her cheeks. “That girl died the moment she killed her best friend— the moment I killed Harry.” A sob tore from her chest. “Oh Severus— I killed him, I killed him and I had to, there was no other choice for either of us, but it killed me!”
She lost the ability to continue talking at that point and buried her head in her hands as she started crying unconsolably. She heard Severus stand and felt him push something into her hands. Through her tear-blurred sight she recognised the Ageing Potion and took a second to drink it. Less then thirty seconds later she was in her adult form and Severus pulled her into his arms, let her bury her face against his chest and cry herself to exhaustion.
When her tears finally slowed, Severus quietly asked, “did I die?”
“Yes," she whispered hoarsely into the heavy material of his teaching robes, “You did. You died a hero."
"How very... Gryffindor of me." Severus grimaced and Hermione laughed weakly.
"Yes, I suppose it was." She cupped his face in her hands and kissed him then, tasting the salt of her tears on their lips. "Take me to your bed," she breathed against his mouth and he didn't argue.
Severus’s personal quarters were guarded by a portrait of a snake by the name of 'Nefertiti' and Hermione felt herself warm when Severus didn't bother hiding his password from her. His rooms were coloured in neutral shades and decorated in a minimalistic fashion and Hermione thought they suited him. She quickly located the door leading to the bedroom and headed for it, tugged him after her.
Her now much too small school robes were quickly scattered on the floor, along with Severus's teaching robes, and the warmth and sensuality of their love-making had a new depth to it that wasn't there before. Honesty, she decided, really did wonderful things to a relationship.
While they enjoyed the afterglow, lazing in Severus’s bed together, Severus started asking more questions about her and her future. "You're an Ancient Runes Mistress?" he clarified, at one point.
"And an Arithmancy and Arcane Magic Mistress." Hermione said playfully, feeling a pride in her achievements in the face of his approval that she didn't usually allow herself to feel.
"Amazing," Severus praised, and his smile was a proud one.
Unfortunately, as it must, their conversation moved from the lighter topics to the grimness of war and Hermione told him about the Horcruxes and just what they meant— the thought of a functionally immortal Voldemort had Severus paling dramatically.
"Have you destroyed the Diadem yet?" he asked, face tight with fear.
"I transferred the soul piece into a book and destroyed the book." Hermione told him— she was getting all the practice she could with changing the containers of a Horcrux. "The Diadem itself is still in one piece.”
"So now you need the Cup, the Diary and Potter." Severus recalled with a frown 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 can help you with retrieving the Diary,” Severus told her immediately, “I've been to Malfoy Manor several times and I know where they keep their Dark artefacts."
"In the secret room under their drawing room floor?" Hermione asked with a smile and Severus laughed.
"Is there anything you don't know?" He asked teasingly.
"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 sister's voice, a touch surprised. She had barely spoken three words to Cordelia since the troll incident, avoiding her because of her friendship with Harry and Ron. Seeing Cordelia standing with the two boys who had once been her best friends sent a jagged pain through her heart and she had to wait a few seconds before answering to avoid her voice cracking.
"Yes?" she asked with a light (fake) smile. Cordelia smiled back at her, as warm and loving as she always was, despite not understanding her older sister. Their parents thought Hermione's inability to emotionally connect with them was due to a form of autism, not an unreasonable assumption considering they were unaware of her severe PTSD that had been augmented by nearly fifteen years of social isolation— she was fairly sure that Cordelia saw herself as needing to protect Hermione, which Hermione honestly found amusing.
"I know you love reading," Cordelia said, "plus I'm pretty sure you know everything—" Hermione couldn't help her smile and Cordelia beamed in response to it, "—so I was wondering if you knew who Nicholas Flamel was?"
"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 Cordelia, and Harry and Ron, after a brief internal debate.
"How the heck can someone live for over six hundred years?" Cordelia asked, her jaw dropping open.
"And what's the Philosopher's Stone?" Harry added.
"The Philosopher's Stone in an alchemy masterpiece," Hermione answered, keeping her voice carefully neutral as she addressed Harry. "It can turn metal into gold, and is the key ingredient in a potion known as the Elixir of Life. While drinking the Elixir, a witch or wizard cannot die from natural means."
The trio traded significant looks, not at all subtle despite what they probably thought, and Ron grinned at her.
"Thanks 'Mione," he said and Hermione froze. Next to Ron, Cordelia looked like she wanted to face-palm.
"Ron, you idiot," she groaned and Hermione finally thawed enough to hiss in an icy voice,
"Don't call me that!"
Ron looked confused, but Cordelia linked her arm with his and started pulling him away, giving Hermione an apologetic look over her shoulder. "Thank you so much for the help!" She called out and Harry hurried after them, giving her a quick smile as he did so.
Hermione had to concentrate on her breathing, shards of ice in her lungs from where heart and frozen and then shattered. Only her Ron had ever called her 'Mione and she'd be damned before she let anyone else do it.
"I've had an idea,"
Hermione twisted around in the bed so she was looking at Severus, a curious look on her face. "Oh? What about?" she asked.
"Getting the Diary," he told her, looking immensely pleased with himself. "The Malfoys just sent my invitation to their annual Yuletide Ball and I was hoping that 'Maia' wanted to accompany me as my plus one."
"That... that could really work," Hermione said, her heart speeding up with excitement at the thought of another Horcrux within reach. Severus rolled his eyes in a fondly exasperated manner.
"Could you sound any more surprised?" he asked with a mock-glare and she smiled sheepishly.
"I do really like that idea," she admitted. "It's clever and sneaky— very befitting of a Slytherin." She added with a cheeky grin. Severus looked smug.
"I know," he said. "I'll write back to Narcissa and tell her I'm bringing my partner."
Hermione wasn't surprised that Severus didn't use the word 'girlfriend'. He just wasn't that sort of man– and she wasn't that type of girl. 'Partners' suited their relationship far better.
The Christmas holidays arrived and after the train-ride back to Kings Cross, Hermione and Cordelia reunited with Helen and Richard.
The first half of the holidays passed quickly. Helen and Richard were extremely interested in learning everything they could about the Wizarding World and Hogwarts and the classes and the friends their daughters had made and Cordelia was thrilled to tell them everything she could possibly remember.
When Christmas arrived, Hermione faked an illness and cast a strong Notice-Me Not charm on her door so her parents and sister wouldn't think to check on her before dressing for the evening.
Hermione had invested wisely after her return to the past once she'd managed to get her hands on a sum of muggle money (could she call herself 'Robin Hood' if the hypothetical 'poor person' she was robbing the rich for was herself? Either way, the Dunland family certainly wouldn't be suing her parents' dental practice this time around). The investments had paid off as she'd known they would, leaving her well provided for financially and able to comfortably afford having a dress tailored for the occasion.
For the evening, 'Maia' had dressed in a beautiful, eye-catching silver gown cut sharply from raw silk. The dress had a tight bodice decorated with icicle patterns created from sparkling diamonds and pulled taut across her thighs before it gathered and swept in short tiers of silk and tulle skirts at her knees. She'd woven several braids together in a thick crown around her head and the only piece of jewellery she was wearing was a pair of long, spear-like diamond earrings that glittered in the light.
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 silk, greeted them with a tight-lipped smile on red painted lips. Next to his wife, Lucius looked similarly striking in his heavy charcoal dress-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 on where her dress was pulled tight over her hips and breasts. "Narcissa and I were very surprised when you replied with a plus one."
"This is my partner Maia Wells," Severus said, smoothly, "Maia, this is Lucius and 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.
"It's a pleasure to meet you," Hermione greeted the Malfoys politely.
"It's a pleasure to meet you too, Miss Wells." Narcissa replied just as politely. "Welcome our home."
"Please call me Maia," Hermione said with a sweet smile. "And thank you."
"So how long have you and the lovely Miss Maia been in a relationship, Severus? And why haven't we heard of her until now?" Lucius asked.
"Maia and I have been together for nine years now," Severus told Lucius, "and we are both private people. We didn't see the need to advertise our relationship."
"What changed your mind?" Lucius questioned, apparently intrigued.
"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 coldly polite witch seemed to have thawed towards her slightly.
"I would love that, Mrs Malfoy."
"Call me Narcissa, please," Narcissa offered graciously.
"And call me Lucius. Severus and I are old friends, after all. We ran in the same circles for many years." Lucius laughed and Hermione felt Severus stiffen beside her at the thinly 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 at her.
"I'm killing most of them," she explained, "all the Death Eaters that bought their way out of Azkaban, who thought that their gold could wash away their crimes." Her lip curled in disgust. "They're going to pay for their crimes— I've seen what they do when Voldemort regains power and he won't be resurrected this time, I'll make sure of it, but that doesn't change how I know they'll have responded to his return. Their days are numbered." She finished coldly.
"I suppose that fair enough," Severus said, after a pause in which he contemplated her words, and Hermione smiled at him, unable to help but feel relieved by his understanding.
"Shall we enjoy the party first, or go steal the Horcrux?" She asked, slipping her arm gratefully through his.
"Horcrux first," decided Severus with a grimace. "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 them for her and Severus 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 her 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 murmured, looking down at the malevolent object, and Hermione shuddered, able to feel the Dark magic emanating from the leather clad pages, the familiar twisted malice of Voldemort's torn soul reaching out to try and worm its way into her head.
"What are you doing?" a sudden sharp voice demanded, and Hermione let the wards drop back into place and she turned sharply in place so as to face Lucius.
He looked furious, face pale and taut and eyes dark. His wand was pointed at them, but Hermione was amused to see it trained on Severus— the fact he thought that Severus was the bigger threat was a mistake; she was much more dangerous then her lover and much more angry, Lucius's mistake would be his last.
She 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 as he was slashed open like a pig for slaughter, the bones of his ribcage visible through the torn flesh left by the curse and his hands doing very little good in keeping his intestines where they belonged. Hermione watched with cold indifference 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 pale and unnerved.
"Can you really claim that he didn't deserve it, that his monstrous acts should have had him Kissed or imprisoned over a decade ago?" She asked coolly and Severus touched her arm gently.
"I'm not condemning your actions, love," he said softly and Hermione relaxed, tension she hadn't realised she was carrying loosening its grip.
"We should go back to the party." She murmured, leaning into her partner and he wrapped his arm around her waist in turn.
"Do we leave the body?" He asked and Hermione glanced back down at Lucius's corpse then flicked her wand, transfiguring it into a stick which she set on fire. They both watched as the body-turned-stick was reduced to ashes then Hermione vanished the ashes and the blood before they returned to mingle with the Ball attendants.
It was after they'd returned to Severus's house, both of them slightly drunk on elf wine and the thrill of getting away with stealing the Horcrux and disposing of Lucius, that Severus lowered himself onto one knee before her.
"Severus?" She asked surprised, "what are you doing?"
"I'm asking you to marry me," Severus said simply as he pulled from his pocket a slim gold band, with a sparkling diamond, "Hermione, Maia; I love you, something I wasn't sure was even possible for me to do with another person and yet you proved me wrong for I do love you, I love every complicated, beautiful, brilliant part of you, and I want you to keep proving me wrong for the rest of my life. Will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?"
Hermione stared blankly at Severus in shock, before manAgeing to pull herself out of her daze. "Of course," she told, blinking back tears and giving a choked laugh, "of course I'll marry you, love!"
Severus smiled at her as he slid the ring onto 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.
"After just half 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, Maia, 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 Cordelia, for a sleepover with the Potter family. Harry, Cordelia and Ron seemed determined to involve her in their friendship, Cordelia likely worrying about her lack of friends and wanting to help her sister however she could.
Hermione wanted to refuse, she really did, but she was too weak to say no, to resist seeing Harry safe and loved and happy, and so she agreed and found herself being portkeyed to the Potter's ancestral 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.
"Cordie! Hermione!" Harry greeted them both happily and Cordelia threw her arms around him in a hug.
"Harry!" She exclaimed, "did you have a good Christmas?"
"It was great," Harry smiled widely at her, "I've missed mum and dad and Uncle Moony and Uncle Padfoot so much!"
"It's a pleasure to meet you both," a beautiful red-haired woman greeted them. Hermione recognised 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 whole 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 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.
"You must be Mrs. Potter," Hermione greeted the woman politely.
"It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Potter," Cordelia added shyly.
"Oh please call me Lily! Harry's told us all about you both," Lily said with a warm smile, "welcome to our home, girls."
Hermione followed the excitedly chattering Harry and Cordelia into the house, where the rest of the children all seemed to be gathered, all the Potter offspring and Ron and Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood, Diana Lupin, Neville and his little sister Nora, a small pink-cheeked, round-faced girl with thick plaits.
It was the first time Hermione had seen the Potter children in person. Fleamont "Monty" Potter had his mother's colouring; all red hair, milky skin and freckles, and his father's height, messy style of hair and hazel eyes. The pretty dark-haired, hazel-eyed girl chatting with Ginny and Luna had to be Ivy Potter and the tiny red haired, green-eyed miniature version of Lily was most certainly Mariposa "Posey" Potter. Also present were three very familiar adults— Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and James Potter.
Hermione wasn't sure what to feel when she looked at them. Sirius she felt mixed feelings for, having witnessed Severus's final memories in the pensieve, back in the original timeline. She loved who he was to Harry, but there was a part of her who hated what he'd done to her lover.
She felt much less conflicted about Remus; she was delighted to see him happy and well, though it had her heart ache to think of Teddy; dear, sweet, precious 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 Lune. It really did hurt to think of all the lives she'd undone, too, not just the ones of those she'd lost.
She and Cordelia were introduced around to everyone before all the kids spilled excitedly out of the house and down to the Potter's private Quidditch Pitch. Hermione went with the flow despite her lack of interest in the sport and though she didn't join in, she volunteered to referee the game.
Ron and Harry had given her badly hidden looks of doubt, both apparently aware enough of her indifference to the game to question if she knew the rules well enough to referee. Cordelia, of course, knew better then to doubt her (she had dated an International Quidditch sensation and had had two Quidditch mad best friends, of bloody course she knew the bloody rules).
"Not a Quidditch fan?" Lily asked her in a friendly voice.
"I don't mind watching," Hermione answered 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... a double shot of vodka?)
"Hey Hermione," he greeted her cheerfully and Hermione managed to keep her face blank as jagged pain ripped through her through sheer will alone.
"Hello Harry," she said softly, her calm voice a sharp juxtaposition to the turbulent emotions rAgeing inside her.
"Are you enjoying your stay here?" he asked her in his usual kind, friendly manner and she managed to force her trembling lips into a smile.
"It's been lovely."
Harry surveyed her with serious eyes, and his expression made Hermione's heart hurt like someone had shoved their hand inside her chest and squeezed it until it burst because for one beautiful, heartbreaking 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 upset you?" Harry asked, suddenly, dragging her forcibly from her memories.
"Pardon?" She asked.
"You always seem so... guarded around me," Harry said, his cheeks reddening slightly though his eyes were still concerned, "have I upset you in some way?"
"You remind me of someone I knew," Hermione said quietly, after a pause.
"Someone you didn't like?" guessed Harry and Hermione shook her head.
"Someone I loved," she whispered, "with my entire 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 tiredly, "He died."
"I'm so sorry." Harry said looking horrified, and Hermione gave a soft sigh.
"You didn't know." She murmured.
"Cordie never mentioned him," Harry said and Hermione shook her head.
"She 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 several years ago."
"Murdered?" Harry looked pale. "Merlin! I thought he'd gotten sick or was in an accident— who did it?"
Hermione couldn't stop the sudden sob that escaped her at the unknowingly cruel question, the sound of it almost unnaturally loud in the quiet kitchen. "I— I'm sorry, I can't talk about this," she choked out, nearly dropping her glass of water in her haste to place it in the sink.
She couldn't stop herself, however, from pausing beside her once-best friend as she went to flee the kitchen and kiss his cheek, inhaling the scent that was Harry. "Goodnight Harry," she whispered before stepping back and turning away.
(Lips pressed to a still-warm cheek, not yet made cold by death; "Goodbye Harry")
Hermione watched silently, made invisible by a disillusionment charm, as Yaxley led the small muggle boy he was holding under the Imperius out of the crowded market area. She slipped after them, her body trembling with anger, waiting until they were in one of the alleys off the street to make her move. "Imperio," she murmured and Yaxley's face went blank, the spell on the young boy broke leaving the near-toddler confused before running off, back into the crowd.
Hermione grasped Yaxley's arm and apparated them to an overpass that overlooked a busy road, leading him to the edge where, still invisible, she gave him a single, ruthless command. "Jump." She snarled.
People screamed and cars beeped their horns as Yaxley plummeted over the edge, hitting the ground underneath with a sickening crack. Hermione gave a vicious smile before apparating away.
That made two Death Eaters and all round scumbags 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 their offspring left alive.
MacNair had cut off his legs with his own axe and bled to death. Crabbe and Goyle Senior drowned in their toilet bowls. The Notts were trapped in their house after it caught fire. Rowle was electrocuted in his bath. The Parkinsons overdosed on the muggle drug heroin (and hadn't that been a bitch to get her hands on). The bodies of the Carrow twins had been 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 (Hermione suspected no-one had wanted to get close enough to the twins to actually find out). The Selwyns broke their necks falling down stairs. Greyback had been reduced to chunks no bigger then a child's fist. Even Umbridge had met her sticky end— Hermione had hung her from a noose of barbed wire and watched her die.
The cold part of Hermione that felt as if it was drowning every day in hatred had enjoyed exploring her creative juices and finding new and interesting ways to end the lives of the murdering, raping, torturing, pillAgeing, sadistic pigs— they hadn't deserved the mercy of the Killing Curse, she'd needed them to suffer like their victims had, like Harry had.
The Death Eaters, of course, caught on quickly to the fact that someone, or several 'someones', were going around killing 'Imperiused' Death Eaters but all the wards and safeguards in the world weren't enough to keep her out when she set her mind to it.
Two days before the return to Hogwarts, Hermione put into action her most ambitious plan yet— breaking into Azkaban.
She apparated to Azkaban Pier at half past nine in the morning— everyone expected break ins to happen at dawn or twilight or under the cover of darkness, they were never prepared for someone to break into their secure buildings at mid-morning.
From the pier she flew in her owl form to the fortress, her animagus form dulling the effects of the Dementors until she'd landed on the uppermost level of Azkaban where she hastily cast her patronus, the otter swimming gracefully through the air and sending the Dementors fleeing.
Knowing she wouldn't have long until the Dementors would alert the guards but taking advantage of the fact that nobody could apparate in Azkaban, Hermione moved swiftly. The scum of the earth Death Eaters were trapped in their cells and it was a simple matter to hit them all with reductors to the head, painting the walls of the cells red and leaving headless corpses discarded in pools of blood, bone and grey brain matter. Even the rat that cowered in Pettigrew's cell exploded into a small mess of fur and guts.
When she reached the last cell, she desperately wished she could alter her routine as she found herself face-to-face with Bellatrix Lestrange's twisted smirk, a dark rage boiling under her skin. She didn't have the time, though, so she settled for the madwoman's inglorious death before shifting into her animagus form to fly back through the draughty corridors until she was diving out of the fortress and into the sky, leaving Azkaban and the evidence of its slaughter far, far behind.
Chapter 7: Chapter Six
"Sometimes I forget what you've lived through," Severus told her, the night before the students were scheduled to return to Hogwarts, a day after her Azkaban ‘adventure’. "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 reasonably which had her pausing.
"Would you... would you like to see?" She asked hesitantly and when Severus raised an eyebrow Hermione grasped his hands with her own, lifting them so they were cupping her face and met his eyes. It took Severus a moment to realise what she was offering and his expression turned to shock followed by awe.
“Legilimens.” He said hoarsely.
Memories flittered through her mind, snapshots of her life shared willingly with the man she loved. And when she cried afterwards, he held her in his arms and rocked her until the tears slowed.
"I love you, Maia," he murmured to her as he pressed kisses to the top of her head, "I love who you are. I love everything about you. We both have our darkness, but together we can get through it to find the light. I know we can.”
"I love you too, Severus." Hermione whispered back.
And it was true.
On the Hogwarts Express, all anyone could talk about were the murders she’d committed over the holidays, both the slaughter of the Death Eaters who had escaped conviction and what had become known as 'The Massacre of Azkaban’. Students chattered excitedly about how the person who’d done it had to be as powerful as Dumbledore was and Voldemort had been.
Hermione would have paid a small fortune in gold to have been able to witness how Voldemort had reacted to the news of the culling of his Death Eaters, both in and out of Azkaban— judging by Quirrell's new and seemingly permanent pallor, it would have been quite the entertainment and Hermione was finding a good deal of wicked amusement in the man’s suffering.
Other then all the chatter about dead Death Eaters and the students mourning their now-dead parents and relatives, nothing had really changed at Hogwarts. The classes were just as mind-numbingly dull as before Christmas and the kids were just as infuriatingly moronic as she remembered.
She could really sympathise with Severus— dealing with her classmates alone 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 Hermione accompanying him disguised as Maia Wells, Severus had a goblin accompany them to his vault. Along the way, she used the Imperius Curse on the goblin and had him change paths and head down to the Lestrange vault instead.
When the goblin opened the vault, Severus levitated Hermione over to the Cup which she carefully knocked into a leather pouch. He then levitated her back and they put the second part of their plan into action, having the goblin take them back to the dragon they'd passed where Hermione hit its chains with several weakening charms, before setting off a multitude of sharp bangs.
The dragon roared its rage and fear, rearing up and causing the now-weakened chains to snap. A jet of boiling fire narrowly missed them and Hermione hastily obliviated the goblin then hit him in the head with a weak blasting curse, sending him flying from the cart over into the wall of the tunnel. To the best of the goblin’s knowledge, when he woke up and couldn't recall the journey to 'Severus's' vault, he'd consider it the result of a head injury.
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, apologising in their usual surly manner.
Horcrux safely procured and hidden away, Hermione and Severus made their way into Diagon Alley, their bank robbery successfully carried off.
"We should celebrate," Hermione told Severus. 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 and she pouted up at him only to grimace at the sound of a voice that was not welcome.
“Severus!" Lily Potter called out, sounding surprised. Hermione felt Severus stiffen next to her, appearing about as uncomfortable as she felt when Lily and James Potter approached them. Hermione considered just apparating away, rudeness be damned, but instead resigned herself to the awkward interaction.
“Potter… Lily,” Severus greeted them stiffly.
“Severus, it’s such a surprise to see you out and about during the school term,” Lily said brightly, beaming at him. “And who’s your companion?”
"This is Maia Wells," Severus introduced her, wrapping his arm around her waist, "Maia is my fiancée."
"Your fiancée?" James sounded shocked. "She looks half your age!"
"James!" Lily elbowed her husband, looking scandalised at his poor manners, before shooting Hermione an apologetic look. "It's lovely to meet you, Maia." She said, politely.
“It’s a pleasure," Hermione smiled stiffly back at the redhead. Severus squeezed her hip gently and she relaxed somewhat, leaning into him.
"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. Again.
"At the Apothecary, back when I was still working there." Severus answered Lily, who looked surprised by the answer.
"Oh," she said, startled, "you've been together for a while then!”
"Over nine years," Hermione said, turning her head slightly to press her lips against Severus’s cheek. He seemed amused by her actions, but she ignored it, focusing instead on the way Lily's eyes narrowed slightly. She tried not to make her 'sweet' smile too obviously smug.
"So did you go to Hogwarts?" James asked, apparently oblivious to the strain between her and his wife, "I can’t say I remember you."
"I would have been far past your time," Hermione said in a subtle reminder that Severus was dating 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 said quietly.
“Oh. I'm sorry." Lily said stiffly.
"It was a long time ago." Hermione dismissed. "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 mentally swore, 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," he said smoothly, "We already have reservations."
"Oh," Lily looked disappointed, "Another time then, Sev?"
"Another time," Severus answered for them, and Hermione let him lead them away, into the Apothecary so she could rant— like she said, her man knew her so well.
“That— that jealous shrew!" She hissed. “What the hell did she think she was playing at!? I—”
"Maia," Severus interrupted her and when she paused, looking over at him, and he spoke firmly. "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 over 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, Maia. You are my one and only." Hermione couldn't help but beam.
"You're my one and only too," she told him before kissing him— hard.
"Good," Severus said breathlessly, when they broke apart, "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 was fully confident about the removal process by this point— she'd practiced on the five other Horcruxes, after all, and had had complete success with all of them. With no reason to put it off any longer, she and Severus settled on completing the process before the easter holidays.
It was a simple enough 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. Hermione kept him unconscious as she smuggled him back down to Severus's quarters and she was in the process of drawing out the runes on Harry's bare chest directly with her magic when the fireplace turned green and Albus bloody Dumbledore stuck his head out.
"Severus, I was—“ Dumbledore's voice broke off as he took in the scene and stared at her in shock. Hermione could only imagine what it looked like from his perspective— Harry, his boy hero, unconscious with glowing runes blazing on his skin and an unknown threat (admittedly a ‘threat’ that looked like twelve-year-old, though all witches and wizards knew that appearances could be deceiving in the magical world) standing over him, holding a wand.
"Albus, wait—“ Severus said hastily, as Dumbledore shook himself out of his state of shock and leapt through the floo in a surprisingly sprightly manner for such an old man, wand out and ready to curse her, to protect Harry. She slashed her wand through the air in an abrupt movement, conjuring a shimmering golden shield that she knew was capable of reflecting every spell other then an Unforgiveable but kept her wand trained warily on the powerful wizard in case he 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 so afraid by the ageing 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 visibly 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 already fractured soul tore further and a sliver broke off to latch onto the closest living being," Hermione said calmly, keeping the shield up between them.
"Harry," whispered Dumbledore, weakly. He slowly lowered his wand, a quick flick conjuring a chintz armchair for him to sit on, a wise choice considering how shaky he looked.
"Yes. Harry." Hermione agreed.
“I— I suspected, but... how could you possibly know this?" Dumbledore asked her.
"I'm from the future." She told him, deciding not to bother trying to hide it— the cat was already out of the bag, so to speak. Dumbledore blinked— twice.
"You're from the future." He repeated, almost blankly.
"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 was intending to defeat Voldemort before he regained power, she just wasn’t mentioning that he had already been defeated and the reasons for her return to the past were more of the selfish sort.
"She's already done so much good, Albus," Severus said strongly. "She saved the Lily and James Potter's lives, the night the Dark Lord tried to kill them and Harry— she created a rune array that nullifies that magic of the Unforgiveables.”
"In my world, Harry Potter was raised an orphan and I wasn't going to let that happen again. This time he gets to grow up happy.” She said fiercely and 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 whispered, voice thick with emotion. "I loved him, more then nearly anything else. And then I had to kill 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." She murmured.
"I'm so very sorry, my dear girl." Dumbledore said sorrowfully and Hermione took a shaky breath.
"He gets to grow up happy this time." She repeated. “That’s all that matters.”
(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 quietly. 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."
"Several?" Dumbledore asked in horror. “How many of those monstrosities did Tom create?”
"Six, including Pot-Harry." Severus told him.
It would have been seven, eight including the original soul, but Nagini hadn’t been made a Horcrux yet— and she never would be.
Hermione tuned out their conversation as she turned back to the task at hand. It took nearly fifteen minutes to write out the runic array before she finally activated it, the runes all blazing to life as a malevolent smoke tore out of Harry's scar and rushed down into the new container she had provided.
She immediately turned her attention to the scroll of parchment she'd just transferred the soul-piece into and steeled herself. As if sensing the malevolent intent directed towards it, the malevolent smoke drifted up from the Horcrux and from it, two familiar gleaming scarlet eyes were revealed.
"Hermione Granger..." hissed the Horcrux, and Hermione immediately recognised the voice as Voldemort's, "I have seen your heart and it is mine... you selfish, foolish girl— you think that killing me will ever make up for what you did to Harry Potter? You're a murderer, and you'll burn in hell—“
"At least I'll have company there!” Hermione spat.
"You think you're so clever!” hissed the Horcrux angrily, clearly not pleased with being interrupted by a ‘lowly Mudblood’. “Where was that cleverness, though, when it really mattered? What good was that famous brain of yours when it was needed most? You killed your best friend... you killed Harry, you killed 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 his 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 last 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, and Hermione hated how the foul abomination used Harry's mouth, Harry's face, Harry's voice, to spew its 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§ She hissed and, seeing that fakeHarry/the Horcrux was struck speechless with fury, she 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.
Both men gave her her time to mourn and recover and after a few minutes, her tears slowed and Hermione was able to move past her anger and grief for the moment, knowing she’d revisit all the old wounds made fresh later, in the privacy of the quarters she and Severus at this point basically shared between them.
She stepped back from Severus, giving him a sincere if shaky smile and vanished the mess of tears on her face with a quick flick of her wrist. "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, obviously shaken by the Horcrux. “You speak Parseltongue?” Dumbledore finally asked and Hermione gave a quiet laugh.
“Yes, Harry taught me— the Horcrux in his head allowed him to speak it and we spent a year on the run, living in a tent with next to no human interaction other then each other. I asked Harry to teach me to pass the time.”
"I hadn't realised that was even possible," admitted Dumbledore, looking intrigued.
"Oh my!" Hermione gasped, widening her eyes in faux-shock, "the great Albus Dumbledore didn't know something! Quick, Severus— call the Prophet!"
"Very amusing," Dumbledore chuckled and Hermione smiled back at him before both their expressions turned back to serious.
“Can I inquire as to why you felt you could not reach out to myself or the Order for help with the herculean task you set yourself?” He asked.
"I wasn't planning on telling anyone— not even Severus." Hermione admitted, "he only knows because I accidentally became well acquainted to him while under the influence of an Ageing Potion and using an alias. After I started to attend Hogwarts this year, he connected the alias to Hermione Granger.”
"Ah, Lily and James did mention Severus's newly intended to me, a young lady who goes by the name of Maia Wells." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. "They seemed to think that Miss Wells should be looked into.”
“That’s because Lily and James are still stuck on the preconceptions they built up around Severus during their Hogwarts years," Hermione said dismissively and with no shortage of impatience. “They can’t correlate the image they had of him then to the reality of who he is now— to put it simply, they need to grow the hell up.”
"Perhaps," chuckled Dumbledore, before he turned serious again. “I have to ask, was there any reason why you didn't feel you could approach me?" he asked. “Surely you must know that I would do everything in my power to assist you in hunting down Tom’s Horcruxes.”
Hermione hesitated for a moment then sighed. “For a very long time, I have been very angry with you,” she told him quietly. “I needed someone to blame for Harry’s death and his blood on my hands, and as the person responsible for Harry’s revelation that he was a Horcrux, you became that someone. For many years I raged against you and your memory and I very nearly hated you.”
"Ah," Dumbledore said softly, a nonjudgmental understanding in his gentle blue eyes. "I see. You appear to have done a wonderful job by yourself, anyhow.”
"Severus did help me with two of them," Hermione admitted and Severus looked smug, prompting her to nudge him playfully with her elbow. Dumbledore chuckled at their antics before his laughter abruptly silenced, a realisation dawning on his aged face.
“You are the one responsible for the recent deaths of Tom’s followers, aren’t you?” He asked gravely. Hermione narrowed her eyes, her hands clenching into fists at her sides.
"Don't worry," she told him, her voice dark, "I only executed the ones beyond any sort of redemption, the ones who committed the most reprehensible and unforgivable of crimes after Voldemort was resurrected.”
"I suppose that is the most I can ask for," Dumbledore said, after a tense pause, "and... I thank you for your leniency. Perhaps if I could have a list of lesser Death Eaters, the ones you believe 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, feeling suddenly of kilter, "though I admit I’m surprised you accepted the executions so easily." And she was— the Albus Dumbledore she’d once known had always been an advocate for forgiveness, redemption and second chances.
“Miss Granger," Dumbledore said, his blue eyes meeting hers, "you have lived in the world created through my choices. I am old enough and wise enough to understand that if one path has proven to lead only to ruin and defeat, then we must choose a new path to tread.”
"Thank you, Dumbledore," Hermione said, her voice thick with emotion— his support meant more to her then she’d ever have guessed it would and she was now fully decisive in her decsion to never reveal to a living soul that in the timeline she’d destroyed, the war against Voldemort had been won.
“No, thank you, Miss Granger,” Dumbledore said as he rose to his feet with a surprising grace for a man so old, "and please— when we are in private or you are in your adult form, I would be honoured if you would call me Albus."
“Then please call me Hermione," she replied warmly, surprising herself with the pride she felt at his request— after all, not everyone got to call the famous ageing Headmaster by his first name.
"I believe I should return our young Mr. Potter to his bed. Please feel free to tell me if there is anything I can do to assist you in any way.” Albus said, just as warmly.
"Actually," she said slowly, her mind starting to pencil out a plan, "there is something you can do to help— could you announce to the staff that the Philosopher's Stone will be moved from the castle the day after tomorrow, that it will be returned to Nicholas and Perenelle?”
“Of course, but may I ask why?" Albus questioned, looking puzzled.
"Oh, I thought you would have figured it out," she said in surprise, "Quirrell is currently playing the loyal host to Voldemort’s current parasitic wraith form."
"What?" roared Albus, leaping to his feet. Feeling the magic crackling in the air, Hermione found herself suddenly very glad that that fury wasn't directed at her. "Tom is in my school?! With my students?!"
"I'm sorry, I thought you knew," she said, genuine in her apology. "Voldemort has been possessing Quirrell since he botched the attempted Gringotts robbery. I haven't revealed him because the more changes I make, the less useful my knowledge is and as far as I’m aware, he doesn’t hurt anyone while possessing Quirrell and it’s strategically better to know exactly where he was.”
"Now that's something I’d like to rub into the Dark Lord's face," Severus said suddenly, a slow, dark smirk spreading across his face, "we succeeded in breaking into Gringotts where he failed."
"You broke into Gringotts?" Albus sounded impressed, appearing to calm slightly though his eyes were still hard as chips of ice.
"One of the Horcruxes was in the Lestrange vault," explained Severus.
“Oh Tom," Albus said, shaking his head again, looking genuinely sorrowful before he pulled himself out of his daze, focusing his attention back on her. "I assume you plan on tricking Tom, leading him into a trap." He stated and she nodded.
"Yes," she agreed, “Tom knows that his chances of getting his hands on the Stone decrease dramatically when it’s in Flamel’s possession and tomorrow will be his last chance to get his hands on 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 added.
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 Ageing Potion," he said, speaking a touch hesitantly, but Hermione's interest was immediately piqued.
"What does it do?" she asked eagerly and Severus relaxed again, turning his head so as to press his lips briefly to her temple.
"It has a much longer life-span then a normal Ageing Potion– nearly a month." He murmured and she smiled.
"That would be wonderful," she admitted, "constantly wearing the body of the child I'm really not... it's exhausting, truly. And I honestly loathe having to take the Ageing Potion every three hours– it hurts like buggery, and tastes like... well, it tastes like I imagine licking a bed pan would taste like."
"Thank you for enlightening me to that fact," Severus said dryly.
"You're welcome, Sev." She said sweetly, twisting in the bed so she could bat her eyelashes at him. Severus shuddered.
"Maia, I swear on Salazar’s name that if I ever, ever hear that god awful version of my name again, I will slip the one who said it a potion that will permanently alter their anatomy!”
"Oh you wouldn't," Hermione laughed giving him a playful wink, "you like my anatomy far too much.”
"Perhaps," Severus easily admitted before leaning over to kiss her. Hermione responded eagerly, running her fingers through his silky hair as she deepened the kiss before hooking a leg around his waist and rolling them both over so she was straddling his waist.
"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 their love making, as they both laid on top of the silken sheets, Severus brought up the topic he’d originally broached before they’d become… distracted.
"If you use the modified Ageing Potion with the extended life, you realise you won’t be able to remain as Hermione Granger." He pointed out, appearing to be choosing his words carefully.
"Or I can tell my parents I'm transferring to a different school," Hermione said lightly, "a muggle boarding school would be the best cover— it would be a simple matter to fake the records, and when I'm required to make an appearance, I can use a glamour.”
Severus gave her a long, assessing look that made her feel like his dark eyes were dissecting her. Surprisingly, it didn’t make her feel uncomfortable. "You've thought this through," he observed out loud and she nodded.
"I prepared for every eventuality." She told him easily. "There was always a chance I'd need to disappear.”
"Do you think the Dark Lord will go for the Stone tomorrow?" Severus asked, quieter now, and Hermione observed the planes of his face, the tightening features of his stress and the fresh worry lines around his eyes.
He was worried for her.
In response to his fear, she caressed his face and smiled warmly. "I'm one of the only people on this planet who can say that they truly know and understand Tom Marvolo Riddle, Severus." She said. "I've seen his childhood, I've studied his descent into Darkness and insanity, and I've witnessed his death. I know that he will go for the Stone tonight.”
"I want to be there with you," her lover argued stubbornly and Hermione shook her head.
"He's not so weak as to be unable to sense another magical presence in the room,” she reminded him, softly but firm. "Wait with Albus. I'll have a two-way mirror on my person at all times so you can hear every spoken word between us."
Severus hesitated, visibly reluctant, before he sighed heavily. "Nothing I say will make you change your mind, will it?" He asked, resigned.
"No," Hermione admitted and he sighed again.
"I'm marrying the most stubborn person on this planet." He muttered.
"It took you awhile to realise that." Hermione said, amused, and he just rolled his eyes and kissed her.
The chamber was dark, muted. Hermione waited, unsurprised by the arrival of Quirrell– Similarly, he seemed unsurprised by her presence.
"Miss Granger," he greeted her in a deceptively pleasant voice, not a trace of stutter present.
"Quirinus," Hermione smiled blandly back at him.
"I assume you're here to stop me?"
"You?" Hermione arched a condescending eyebrow, "why would I waste my time or energy on someone as insignificant and pathetic as you? No," she continued, watching in cold amusement as Quirrell's eyes narrowed in rage, "I'm far more interested in the parasite attached to the back of your head."
"Reveal me," hissed an all-too familiar voice that sent shivers of loathing down her spine, a dark simmering rage boiling to life inside her veins.
"Master," Quirrell looked frightened– as he should. "You are not strong enough!"
"I'm strong enough for this, you fool," Voldemort hissed furiously and with trembling fingers, Quirrell unwrapped the heavy material of his turban and turned around.
"Hello Tom," Hermione greeted the terrible, twisted parasite on the back of Quirrell's skull, an all too familiar face with gleaming crimson eyes that haunted her dreams even two and a half decades after his final defeat, with a calm she did not feel.
"Hermione Granger," Voldemort's lipless mouth twisted into a hideous smile. "I'm assuming I won?"
"You assume too much," she told him, still speaking with a calm she did not feel, and Voldemort laughed, the sound high-pitched and cackling.
"Why else would you travel back in time?" he demanded, once his twisted laughter had faded, "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 with cruel dismissal, “not 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 far more interested in the Potters, who somehow survived the Killing Curse, but I still paid attention.”
"Ah the Potters," Hermione said, her mouth curving with cold amusement, "That would be my work there— a maddeningly complicated runic array I created a decade or two ago now that nullifies the magic of the Unforgiveables. Of course, Harry’s survival was something else entirely— it was powerful old magic, based on love so of course you wouldn't understand it. I must admit that having to watch you strike 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 sadistically amused and Hermione’s smile turned even sharper as he fell straight for the verbal trap she’d laid out, an opening to a perfect segue.
§That's the true reason 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, the Chosen One who you’d quite unintentionally turned into a Horcrux that night you tried to kill him§ Hermione hissed and Voldemort made a sound of pure shock, looking wary for the first time in their encounter.
§How do you know about Horcruxes?§ he demanded and Hermione could hear the fear in his fury §And what do you mean the Potter boy is a Horcrux?§
§Not 'a' Horcrux, 'your' Horcrux§ Hermione corrected, still smiling like her smile was a knife in his throat and she was twisting the blade, §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 enraged, and Quirrell made a low sound of pain. Hermione's eyes glittered with vindictive pleasure and she casually produced from her pocket each of the previously mentioned items— bar Harry, of course— using wandless magic to return them to their proper size as she tossed them on the ground between her and the Dark Lord. "LIES! FAKES!" he shrieked, banishing them across the chamber in a fit of rage, at the same time as Hermione took advantage of his distraction and snarled,
“Expelliarmus! Maledictus flammae!” Quirrell's wand flew across the gap between them, into her hand, just as the cursed fire billowed into existence; dark, gambolling flames twisting into the terrible forms of fiery chimeras, wyverns, a cockatrice—
"You foolish girl! You cannot apparate in Hogwarts! You will burn with me!" shrieked Voldemort, a perfect look of raw terror on his ugly, deformed face. Quirrell was screaming and screaming and Hermione felt an intense sense of déjà vu to that night in the forest, two and a half decades ago— and she knew exactly what she needed to do.
"FAWKES!" she shouted, and the phoenix appeared in a burst of flame and a joyful trill.
"NOOOO!" screamed Voldemort and Hermione, feeling the heat of the flames sear her skin even from the distance between her and the violent, dancing fiery beasts, grasped tightly onto Fawkes’ tail feathers, catching just a glimpse of the flesh melting off Voldemort's twisted, parasitic face before she was transported to the antechamber where Albus and Severus were waiting.
She doubled over, her breath coming in hacking coughs as her abused lungs tried to empty themselves of the thick, strangling smoke. Severus carefully pulled her into his arms, gripping onto her with desperate hands and she leaned against him, let him support her as she gasped and choked for breath.
"It's done," he told her, rubbing soothing circles on her back, "it's done, you did it, he’s dead—”
"I did it," Hermione choked out, curling into Severus's arms but not seeing him in that moment, instead seeing her best friend with his loving smile, his warm green eyes... "I did it, Harry, I saved everyone— all for you.”
"You did," Albus said quietly, resting a gentle hand spotted with age on her shoulder. "You have accomplished what I thought to be impossible and now young Harry will lead a normal life and this generation will be spared the horrors of war.”
"Yes." Hermione whispered, closing her eyes. "Yes."
Later that night, after a visit to Madam Pomfrey who looked questioningly at her burn injuries as she healed them but considering both Albus and Severus were present with her did not comment on or question how she received them, 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 feeling sick and exhausted and drained. Her purpose for the last two and a half decades, the purpose she'd had since she was twelve years old if she was honest, had finally been fulfilled— Harry was safe, Voldemort was gone, and she felt... empty.
Seemingly sensing her distress, Severus pulled her tighter to his body and she let him hold her, let him keep her together when she felt moments from falling apart. "After the year is over, 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 hear in his voice the emotion he'd tried to keep hidden. "As in... in a romantic sense?”
"I did," Hermione answered truthfully, knowing exactly who Severus was referring to. Harry Potter, her Harry Potter, her wonderful, darling, sweet, brave, brave, brave Harry. "I loved him so much, I would have done anything for him— I would have died for him. But I didn’t love him the way that 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 slept with 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 want and desire... with Harry, it was need; a need for closeness, for contact, for comfort, to make the other feel as happy, as good, as was possible. Do you... do you understand?"
"I think I do," Severus said quietly. "Harry will always have a place in your heart, but not the place I hold. He means something else to you, something else entirely. Like... a sibling, but not quite. More.”
"Yes," Hermione agreed, turning in his arms so she was facing him, reaching up to trace her fingertips over the curve of his jaw. "Just until the end of this school year, you say?”
"Pardon?" Severus asked, confused, before comprehension dawned as he realised what she was referring to. "Now that the Dark Lo— ouch, Maia! Fine, now that Voldemort is gone," he gave her a flat look which she returned with an innocent one, as if she hadn't just sent 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 and Hermione laughed.
"Teaching does seem like a complete pain in the arse," she agreed and Severus pulled a mock-affronted expression.
"Miss Granger!" He scolded, "how dare you use such language? That will be five points from Gryffindor!"
"But professor," Hermione said, pouting playfully at him, "I'm in Ravenclaw."
Severus smirked wickedly at her. "And?"
Hermione laughed, before peering up at him from under her eyelashes. "How about I... convince you to give me back those points, professor?" she murmured, lightly brushing her hands down Severus's body. Severus shuddered slightly in pleasure, pulling her forwards into a heated kiss that allowed her to forget her grief and heartbreak, if just for a moment.
Chapter 9: Chapter Eight
"Do you, Maia Peregrine Wells, take thee, Severus Tobias Snape, to be your lawfully wedded husband, to be bound together in love, magic and matrimony from this day until your last?”
Setting up an official identity for Maia had been far simpler then she’d expected. For a generous sum of galleons, the goblins were capable of creating excellent forgeries and with Albus applying the right amount of pressure to the right Ministry Departments, 'Maia' was officially a twenty-eight year old halfblood witch who’d been born in England, educated in America and then moved back to Britain following the tragic deaths of her parents in a muggle car accident.
As soon as Maia officially existed, Hermione and Severus wasted no time in holding a very small, very private wedding— and by that, she meant that the only guest in attendance was Albus, and he was only invited because they required a witness. Other then Albus and themselves, the only other person present was the minister, a witch by the name of Wendelyn; having a female minister had been Hermione's only request for her wedding.
As Wendelyn asked if she took Severus to be her husband, Hermione could feel the love she felt finally cool the dark rage and hate boiling in her veins. Her vendetta had been fulfilled, her journey had reached its completion and it was time for her to take a step towards her new, shining future.
”I do," she said, softly, reverently, smiling up at her almost-husband, who was looking very handsome in his dress-robes.
They’d decided to dress formally, despite the lack of guests and a reception. Severus had ordered a pair of tailored dress-robes and had tied his hair back with a piece of dark velvet and Hermione had tamed her characteristic bushy curls, twisting her chestnut locks into 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, Maia Peregrine Wells, to be your lawfully wedded wife, to be bound together in love, magic and matrimony from this day until your last?”
For a single moment of madness, Hermione was abruptly terrified that Severus would back out, that he'd run, bolt, leaving her alone and with nothing, like she had existed for so many years, in a time bereft of those she loved.
As if sensing her fear, Severus gently squeezed her hands, looking down at her with such love that all her doubts and insecurities were swept away. "I do." He said and Hermione blinked away the tears that briefly blinded her.
"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 kissing her. Hermione kissed him back, deeply and passionately and filled with so much love it felt as if she might float away.
It took Albus clearing his throat for them to break apart several minutes later, both turning a touch sheepishly towards their single guest. 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 at long last found herself letting go of her anger and forgiving him.
"Of course you may, Albus." She said with a smile and Severus laughed.
"You'll be the only person to offer their congratulations," he reminded the headmaster.
"Nonsense," Albus declared, "Minerva will be thrilled by the news!"
“Good Merlin," Severus grumbled good-naturedly, "must you tell her?”
"Well she is bound to ask about that ring on your finger," pointed out Albus, "and considering she is my Deputy, I will have to inform her that you will be leaving us at the end of the year to go off cavorting around the globe with your beautiful new bride."
"Albus!" Severus exclaimed, red spots of embarrassment forming on his cheeks, but Albus just chuckled, his eyes twinkling madly behind his half-moon spectacles, and Hermione felt so filled with joy that she couldn’t help but laugh along with him.
Their honeymoon lasted for two weeks, the duration which Hermione was said to be laid up in the Hospital Wing with a particularly nasty case of Spattergroit, while Severus was away due to 'family matters'. Poppy, as per the Headmaster's request, backed up the story and kept a cot quarantined off where Hermione supposedly was bedridden while nobody, not even the staff, dared inquire into what exactly Severus’s 'family matters' referred to.
Hermione understood that Albus must have 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 reveal information about her patients and she trusted Poppy as she trusted Albus. Besides, having Poppy on board gave her access to a series of fantastic alibis.
It was after their honeymoon, nearly a week after she and Severus had returned to their lives at Hogwarts, that Albus approached them.
"You want us to what?" Hermione loudly demanded, looking at the Headmaster like he'd just suggested the moon was made of cheese or requested that she go fornicate with the mouth of a donkey.
"I would like you to address the Order," Albus repeated, "and let them know that, for once and for all, the threat of Voldemort has been dealt with.”
“I understand they need to be told he’s no longer a threat, but why in Circe’s name do you want me to make the announcement?" protested Hermione.
“Because Maia Wells is a prodigy who graduated early from her class and trained as American magical Special Forces,” Albus said calmly. “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 Maia Wells became Maia Snape." Finished Hermione, before frowning at the old man. "I don't like it.”
"I didn't think you would," admitted Albus, "but the Order does deserve closure."
“I don’t have any proof to show them, why would they ever trust a complete stranger with something so important?” she pointed out.
“The backing of my word should be proof enough, but should they require more, perhaps a magical oath could be sworn that Voldemort is fully deceased and unable to be resurrected in any way, shape or form." Suggested Albus.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. "I really don't like it." She said warningly. Albus smiled affably at her.
"Sherbet lemon?" he offered and Hermione let out a strangled sound before storming from the room. Severus gave Albus a reluctantly amused look before following after her and chuckled to himself, Albus cheerily popped a sherbet lemon into his mouth.
The Order gathered at the Potter’s manor home and Hermione had to concentrate on not shifting uncomfortably in her seat next to Severus. She felt odd, sitting in this living graveyard of people she’d loved and lost, strangers that she knew so well. Under the table, Severus held her hand in his and she took comfort in his touch.
"I'm glad to see everyone has arrived," Albus greeted the room warmly, once the entire Order had gathered.
“Why are we all meeting, Albus?" James asked uncertainly, fear evident in his eyes. "Harry's okay, right?”
“Young Harry is more then okay," Albus assured the worried father, "and it is good news that I bring you— the best, in fact! I can now state with absolute certainty that Voldemort is dead and will never be returning.”
There was dead silence following his words, the entire room apparently in a state of shock that Lily ended up breaking. "What?" she gasped, her familiar green eyes wide. "I thought you said that he wasn't gone— that he’d cheated death and would one day return!"
“And I was right," Albus said gravely. “Until three weeks ago, Voldemort was in fact alive and attempting to regain his power by possessing Quirinus Quirrell, the Hogwarts Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor, in an attempt to steal the Philosopher’s Stone." Gasps and exclamations of horror and fear sounded around the table, the Order looking at each other fearfully before Sirius spoke up.
"Quirrell disappeared," he pointed out, "nobody knows where he vanished to.”
"A little fib to the DMLE on my behalf, I'm afraid," admitted Albus, "Maia, my dear, why don't you explain?" he said giving her an encourAgeing look and Hermione resisted the urge to grimace as all eyes turned to her.
”Albus, who is she?" Kingsley asked while Lily gave her a narrow-eyed look.
“Maia here is the one responsible for the permanent demise of Voldemort." Albus said gravely and the looks turned from amazed to disbelieving.
"What?" Lily demanded shrilly. “How could she kill V-Voldemort?”
"Does anyone here know what a Horcrux is?" Hermione asked sharply, not bothering with dancing around the truth.
Several faces around the table 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,” Hermione said calmly. “I'm saying he made six— the first five intentional and the sixth quite the opposite, an accident as the result of an unstable soul already ripped apart so many times. The sixth the unintentional one was Harry Potter— or he used to be, anyway. The Horcrux is destroyed.”
“What did you do to Harry!?" Lily shouted, her pretty face twisted with fear and fury as she sprang to her feet, brandishing her now-sparking wand dangerously.
“What did I do? I bloody saved his life!” Hermione snapped, sharply slashing her own wand through the air to deflect Lily’s curse into the wall. "I transferred the Horcrux from his scar and destroyed it, just like I destroyed the other five. Voldemort— oh all of you go grow a pair; he's dead, you can say his bloody name! Voldemort was possessing Quirrell so I engineered a confrontation between us, after the Horcruxes were all destroyed. I killed him, which killed his host in the process but Quirrell was dead regardless the moment he let Voldemort into him."
"How did you even know about the Horcruxes?” Mad-Eye asked suspiciously, magical eyeball dancing around in its socket. “And how can we trust your word?"
"You don't have to trust my word," Hermione responded coolly, not answering the first part of his demand. "You just have to trust Albus’s."
"I witnessed the destruction of the Horcrux in young Harry’s scar and Voldemort’s true death. I swear on my magic that she is not lying about either." Albus said gravely, causing the air to briefly pulse with magic. He then cast a lumos, lighting the tip of his wand.
"Albus!" Kingsley looked shaken, “you— you just risked your magic!”
"No I did not,” Albus said calmly, “because I knew Mrs. Snape was speaking the truth.”
"Mrs. Snape?" Lily asked flatly.
"I met Severus after I moved back to Britain in order to enact my plan to end Voldemort." Hermione lied without a single hesitation. "We've spent the last nine and a half years working together to bring about an end to Voldemort's reign of terror and once he was finally dead, we decided to make our love official.”
Hermione ignored Lily’s childish jealousy, instead focusing on Minerva who was smiling warmly at both her and Severus.
"Congratulations Severus,” she said, clearly happy for her colleague and sometimes-friend.
"Thank you, Minerva," Severus told her, looking pleased.
"I already knew you’d recently exchanged wedding vows, Albus told me when he passed on your letter of resignation stating that you were leaving us at the end of the year to go travelling with your new bride, but he made me wait to congratulate you until you felt comfortable to announce it to everyone,” Minerva continued, still smiling.
“Of course," Severus sighed, throwing a quick scowl in the direction of the cheerfully whistling Albus. "He did tell me 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 asked, "perhaps if I offered the lovely Mrs. Snape the position of Defence Against the Dark Arts professor?"
"I'm sorry, Ms. McGonagall, but teaching isn't my passion," Hermione told her favourite professor, "now that this part of my life is over, I want to leave Britain and see the world.”
Minerva sighed softly. “I knew it would be a long shot,” she admitted. “But please, call me Minerva. And I’m quite sure you’ll enjoy your travels very much… Hermione.”
Her name had been uttered soft enough that only Hermione and Severus could hear and Hermione smiled, not exactly surprised the astute Deputy Headmistress had figured her out. Minerva was many things and unintelligent was not one of them.
"I think I will, Minerva." She murmured, "It's been decades since I was able to relax."
“You have my dearest thanks for the sacrifices you have made for us all,” Minerva said quietly, reaching across to gently squeeze her hands. "I wish you the best of luck for your future, Hermione— you as well, Severus."
"For a Gryffindor, Minerva's quite sneaky." Severus admitted lately, sounding slightly annoyed by the fact but mostly amused.
"You're forgetting that I'm a Gryffindor too,” Hermione reminded him with a smile and Severus shuddered.
"Don't remind me! The shame!”
"Oh hush," Hermione rolled her eyes, nudging him playfully in the side with her elbow, "you know you love me.”
"I do," Severus admitted, "I really do."
Chapter 10: Epilogue
"I don't want to go," Maia groaned.
“It’s a Christmas party, love,” Severus said, amused, "not an execution.”
"A Christmas party hosted by the harpy herself," Maia pointed out, 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, Ron and Cordelia," coaxed Severus and, just like every year, Maia instantly folded.
"Oh alright," she sighed and her husband kissed her softly.
“It will be fine,” he promised, “it always is.”
"Yes, Harrison?" Maia smiled fondly down at their eldest child as he ran into the room, his eyes bright with excitement. Harrison Ronald Snape was fourteen now and looked just like his father, with his shoulder-length dark hair, dark eyes and pale skin— and from her, Harrison had inherited a deep love of Ancient Runes.
"I finished my runic pentagon!" Harrison told her eagerly. “Can you come supervise me activating it?”
“Of course, darling!” Maia beamed at him, proud of her son for completing a task that most NEWT students would struggle with, before she noted her husband's expression and sighed. "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 the most introverted of their children and enjoyed social gatherings about as much as he enjoyed drinking Skelegrow.
"Sorry darling," Maia told him regretfully, though anything further she might have said was interrupted by the loud, dramatic entrance of her daughters.
"Mum! Dad! Elly took my wand!" An indignant Rosalind shouted as she stormed into the room. Eileen followed at a slower pace, a smug look on her face. Both girls had Maia’s wild, somewhat bushy curls, but only Rosalind had the chestnut colouring— Eileen’s hair was as dark as her father’s and Harrison’s.
"Rosa 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 archly informed them both. "And it's warded against being summoned." She added smugly— Eileen had also inherited Maia’s skill with Ancient Runes, while Rosalind had followed in Severus’s footsteps and was a true Potions Mistress in the making.
“Apparently I've taught you too well," Maia told Eileen, amused, before she turned to Severus. "You're better at choosing punishments, love,” she told her husband, who looked just as amused as she felt. “What do you think would be appropriate in these circumstances?”
Rosalind and Eileen both looked dismayed at the turn of events and Maia didn’t blame them— Severus really did pick the best punishments, any Hogwarts student who’d survived his class back when he’d taught Potions could confirm that.
Rosalind “Rosa” and Eileen “Elly” were her and Severus’s oldest daughters, aged eleven and thirteen respectfully, while their youngest, Ophelia “Fee”, was eight, and Maia considered her children to be the best thing that had ever happened to her.
She and Severus had been travelling the world for five, almost six, years before Maia found out she was pregnant and they’d headed returned to Britain. They’d both been more then ready to start a family and the arrival of their son had been one of the happiest moments of Maia’s life. A year and a half later, Eileen had entered the world, followed two years later by Rosalind, and finally, three years after Rosalind’s birth, little Ophelia came into the world.
Of course, Maia wasn't the only one with a family now. Harry Potter, now thirty-one, had married Cordelia almost as soon as he’d graduated from Hogwarts and they'd popped out three children, while Ron had surprised her by marrying Lavender Brown and producing a pair of progeny of their own.
Maia(Hermione)’s heart still ached when she thought of Harry and while she mostly avoided thinking or talking about him, occasionally she couldn't resist which was why when Lily insisted on inviting the entire Order, Severus included, to her Christmas parties each year, Maia usually went along— after putting up a token fuss, of course. Besides, she always enjoyed seeing Cordelia and the small corner of the Potter family she and Harry had carved out between them.
Not many people were able to connect Maia Snape with Hermione Granger, the quiet, Muggleborn prodigy who disappeared from the Wizarding world after her first year of Hogwarts. Even her parents and sister didn't know the true circumstances behind their daughter and older sister's disappearance, and certain subtle compulsions Maia had buried deep in their psyches had permanently ensured that they wouldn't look too deeply.
The people who did know the truth about Maia Snape’s true identity and origins consisted of a list that she only needed one hand to count on, and not even all her fingers at that— 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 and 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—
"Maia," Severus's voice broke her from her thoughts and she inhaled shakily before slowly releasing her breath, knowing without needing to ask that she must have gotten that look on her face again, the one Severus described as her expression turning shadowed while her eyes aged decades before him. Her husband touched her arm gently, his expression soft as he looked down at her. “We don’t have to go, love,” he told her quietly but Maia shook her head.
“No, I do want to see them,” she said, and she meant it— seeing Harry and Cordelia with their children, James Jr “Jimmy”, Beatrice and Bianca (Cordelia had apparently gone with the Shakespeare theme Helen Granger had started with her two daughters— even Maia had named her two youngest daughters after the Bard’s characters) and Ron and Lavender’s Indigo and Hugo always reaffirmed to her that she'd made the right choice, those almost four decades ago now when she’d unwritten an entire future for the sake of one person.
Severus smiled at her with love and warmth, holding out his hand. "Let's go then," he said, and Maia slipped her fingers through his and smiled back at him.
"Yes." She agreed. "Let's go."
Chapter 11: REWRITTEN
HOURGLASS has officially been rewritten as of 16/05/2018, with an extra 5,000 words in content.