Gryffindor Common Room had always been drafty. Despite the cozy fire and the warm colors of red and gold adorning every decoration in the room, there always seemed to be a slight breeze from the windows. To Hermione Jean Granger, it always felt like a sudden looming figure over her shoulder, their breath at her ear. In light of recent events, namely the death of Sirius Black just some months ago, and the oncoming winter, Hermione was used to carrying her wand on her at all times. Whoever was watching her every movement - or so it seemed - she'd be ready for. She had already tried a stinging hex, but there had been no noise from the breeze. It had still remained.
After that attempt failed, she enlisted the help of Peeves the Poltergeist. Normally her and Peeves were anything but on civil terms - him often making fun of her for her one miscalculation in Polyjuice Potion brewing, or her teeth growing much too large in third year because of Malfoy. Yet, the poltergeist seemed more surprised by her admission of help and her constant fear that appeared in her eyes whenever she looked over her shoulder, that he allowed himself to forget the reputation he had built up as 'Peeves the Poltergeist' (and only behind closed doors) that he had begun to search the castle for any signs of something suspicious.
Now halfway into November, there had been no such sighting. Hermione shivered as she felt the breeze again. She glanced discreetly to her left and her nose wrinkled in disgust as she saw her ex-best friend, Ron, and his girlfriend of a sickening month, Lavender Brown, snogging quite heavily in the far corner of the Common Room. Others around them were snickering, making bets that Ron would 'get it in' tonight. Hermione, however, felt bile rising in her throat. They were disgusting. Lavender's hands were running through Ron's short red hair. And his own hands were at her thin little waist that Hermoine wanted to snap off. Either it be his wrists or her back, she didn't know, nor care.
"Just don't look at them, 'Mione," Harry's voice said gently. Her gaze snapped from the couple to the boy sitting beside her on the couch. Harry Potter was a rather skinny boy, tall in the regards that he wasn't shorter than a few years below him, but most boys in their year towered over him. His green eyes were watching her in concern from behind his round, black framed glasses. When Hermione didn't respond right away, he sighed and ran a hand through his messy, raven hair. "They won't last long. I give them until Christmas."
Hermione still hated the thought of another month with Won-Won. Her brown eyes darted to the fire, the book in her hands forgotten. "I don't even know why it still hurts. I just..." She shrugged lightly, shutting the book carefully. "I just feel a little betrayed that he'd just forget about us so easily."
"You know that's not the reason."
Hermione glanced at Harry, but he understood. Dean and Ginny had been together since the summer and while they fought constantly, they always seemed to gravitate towards one another. "I'm not going to be foolish." She reached across the table in front of her and grabbed the Evening Prophet. "There's been another attack."
She didn't know when Harry had joined her, but she assumed he hadn't heard. "Where?" Harry asked, taking the paper from her and spreading it out across both of their laps. She was right in that he hadn't.
"Close to Little Whinging." Harry's head shot up to look at her. "Close as in twenty miles," she corrected. "Dumbledore suspects that they still don't know where your Aunt and Uncle are." But they probably already knew. How could they not notice a heavily warded house in the middle of a Muggle neighborhood? The same with her parent's own home. It was noticeeable if they were looking.
"How many people died?" Harry asked.
"Forty seven," Hermione admitted. "That's three hundred and eighty nine today. Muggles say it was a gas explosion that took out an entire block." Harry's hand clenched at his side, the paper shaking with his other. "I'm sorry, Harry... There was no way the Order could have stopped it. Or even suspected it-"
"It's not that, Hermione. He's getting stronger. And there's nothing we can do about it. We have to do something. We need to stop him. I don't know how, but we have to try-" Harry began rambling. She cut him off with a soft shake of her head.
"What, Harry? What can we do? We can't leave the school, we can't fight them without ... without going into this battle blind. We only know a taste of what they're capable of. They could so much more than we anticipate. If we leave and go to them, there's no guarantee that we'll make any difference." Hermione clutched the book in her hand tighter. It was the only way she could think of to save the Wizarding World today, and to escape the burden of this damn shadow. Harry couldn't know. She'd figure out a way to replace herself, but he couldn't- "Besides," Hermione continued. "We aren't ready to take on Death Eaters. Not really. We still need to learn so much more-"
"You know enough-"
"In theory. I've never applied it-" Hermione argued back. It had to be tonight. She had to do it tonight. She cut herself off with a sigh. "Not now. We'll talk about it later. But we can't talk about this now, Harry." She noticed his look of fire, his readiness to keep going despite the warning. "I'll see you at breakfast, Harry..." Probably not. "I need to go to bed, though. There's a massive Arithmancy practice-exam tomorrow and I need to study in the morning."
Harry nodded, ducking out of the way as her fifty pound backpack swung and narrowly missed his head. "Alright. Night, 'Mione." But when Hermione Granger reached her dorm room, she only checked to make sure that it wasn't occupied before she locked the door and opened up the book she had been reading. The spell. She had read the book nearly twenty times before, but this was what she had to do perfectly. One mess up and she could go in the wrong direction.
But she'd never be able to come back. That would hurt them the most.
The essay she had been pretending to revise for hours on end in the library, hadn't been an essay at all. It was a letter. A letter to all those she'd have to leave behind. She hadn't been able to stop herself from not writing one. They wouldn't even know she was gone, if she could help it, but in case things didn't go as planned... In case she died on the way, or while she was there... They'd need to know what happened. She clutched her purple bag full of items she had just managed to stuff into it, and then took one last look at the spell. As she slid it into her bag, she felt a breeze. She turned to look towards the window, where it came from, but the window was shut and sealed. Hermione had even placed sealing charms on it at the beginning of the year.
"I'm sorry," Hermione murmured, turning away and letting the letter float to the foot of her bed. As she unwrapped the Time Turner in her hands, she said the spell and then put it on. Twenty-one times was all Hermione needed to turn it. She had done the math extensively and even went as far as asking Professor McGonagall some questions, but the old woman hadn't suspected why.
Suddenly the breeze was strong, blowing Hermione's hair as she finished the last spin of the small sand glass. Hermione glanced sharply to her left, but nothing was there. There never seemed to be. Then the breeze came again, but this time in a spiraling motion. She was being spun around and around, her hair blocking her eye sight. She hadn't read this in the book. Was this a normal side effect? Merlin, did she do something wrong?
It was just blackness and then all of the sudden, she was jolted and then fell to the ground. Her hands hit a smooth surface, much too warm to be stone. As her knees crashed to the ground, she let out a cry of pain. That wasn't as smooth as she hoped her landing would be. Her eyes opened and she spotted the dark wood of the floors. A fire was lit at the end of the stretch of wood and she was surrounded by the beds of a Gryffindor dorm. She quickly tucked her time turner into her shirt as she heard a creak coming from one of the beds. Hermione barely had time to react before a wand was level with her eyes.
"Who are you and what are you doing?" Her accent was difficult to distinguish, but Hermione definitely detected some Scottish. She was a gorgeous girl about her age, her hair a dark brown and curled down her shoulders, barely mussed with sleep. Her bright eyes were watching Hermione's movements closely, waiting for a slight misstep in her actions.
"I'm Hermione Granger," the time-traveler spoke quietly. "I... I don't know what I'm doing here."
"Where are you from?" the woman continued. "Oi, Evans, search her bag. Longbottom-"
"It's Pevernell, Meadowes," a voice shot from the bed to Hermione's left. Hermione glanced over to see a small, petite woman with a pixie cut hairdo and a scowl about her lips as she poked her wand towards Hermione. "Just because Frank and I are together doesn't mean we're getting married. Who's she?"
"No idea. Harmony something," Meadowes, the woman before her, shot back. "What are you doing here, again?"
"Hermione Granger," Hermione repeated. "I don't know what I'm doing here. This is Hogwarts, isn't it?" The consequences of them knowing she was from a different time... she didn't know what they'd be... She needed to talk to Dumbledore.
"Yes," a voice from Hermione's right said carefully. Hermione turned her head towards the ginger girl that was getting out, reaching for Hermione's bag. Hermione handed it over carefully, knowing that she kept all of her pictures and things behind. She had nothing that would give away her travel to anyone. "How did you get up in the dorms?"
"I don't know," Hermione said carefully. She saw her wand under 'Meadowes' feet, and knew she wouldn't be able to defend herself. They were obviously Gryffindor's, but did she make it to the right point in time? "I need to talk to Professor Dumbledore."
"I'm afraid we're going to need a reason first," Meadowes spoke harshly. She glanced at the ginger girl that was going through Hermione's bag. "Find anything?"
Hermione glanced towards the girl as well, seeing her pulling out a plastic card about the size of Hermione's pocket. "Hermione Granger," the girl read aloud. "Age 17, Date of Birth-" The ginger's eyes widened. "That's not possible-"
"What?" Pevernell demanded. "What did she do?"
"She was born in 1979," the red-head answer. "Cas, that's not possible-"
"Who issued the ID?" Meadowes demanded. She narrowed her eyes at Hermione. "Are you a time-traveler?"
"The Ministry, but it's not a signature I recognize-"
"The war," Hermione started, figuring it was the best place. "The war is unbearable. Hundreds of people are dying a day, Muggle or Wizard. I had to do something. I have to stop it here before anything can happen then-"
"So you do know what you're doing here," Meadowes spoke sharply, cutting off the traveler. "What time are you from?"
"When I left it was 1997," Hermione answered. She glanced at the three women surrounding her. "I tried to make it back to 1976. Am I in the right time?"
"Why now?" Meadowes demanded. "Why not a few years earlier when the war first started?"
"I need to - to blend in with my age. In my time, the people here... the people here are my friend's parents and such. I know their children, I figured it'd be best. The best time because then I'd be able to be close to the catalysts that escalate the war."
"And that's one of us?" the red-haired girl asked. "One of us is a catalyst?"
"There are multiple catalysts," Hermione admitted. "Both from the Order, and the Death Eaters." She glanced between them again. "I need to save my friends lives. I need to save all of your lives." She shook her head. "I need to talk to Dumbledore. I can't say more without breaking the barriers of time."
"Are any of us your parents? Not us specificially, but in this school?" Meadowes questioned.
"I'm Muggleborn," Hermione admitted quietly. "I don't have any relation to any of you."
Meadowes had already lowered her wand at the Muggleborn bit. "Alice, get McGonagall. Evans, watch her. I'm going to wake up the boys."
Alice Pevernell ran from the room immediately, and Meadowes was soon to follow. Evans, the red-head that had taken her bag, silently passed it back and picked up the girls wand. "I don't trust you right yet, so you aren't getting it. Cas will get the boys and they'll make sure you're trustworthy-"
"I mean none of you any harm," Hermione told the girl sincerely. "You're Lily, aren't you? Lily Evans?"
Lily jolted suddenly, as though she was surprised. "Do I know you in the future?"
"No, but I know you," Hermione admitted. She was meeting Harry's mum. Merlin, her eyes were the exact same shade.
"Come on, we're going to the Common Room. I trust you'll not run off? It's too late to chase after people," Lily warned.
"I won't." Her knees hurt too much to try anyways. She got to her feet shakily, sucking in a breath as pain splintered up her leg. But they weren't hurt too much. She could walk. The Common Room was exactly as she rememebered, though it was different at the same time. The colors were brighter, newer. The air was warm and there was no breeze, despite the window being opened. It was as though the wind had disappeared with her.
As Hermione was asked to sit in the high back chair, she heard the thundering of footsteps and the protectiveness seemed to permeate the room in a thick rug. Hermione recognized them immediately, of course, although there seemed to me more of them. James was a carbon copy of Harry, his hair as mussed and his classes as askew. His own body was lanky and tall, but the other boys still towered over him. The man to his left had sandy blonde hair, thin and pale, with scars littering his skin. Remus, of course. His wand was tight in his hand and Hermione saw lean muscles rippling in his arms. Beside them all was Sirius. The man seemed brighter, more mischevieous, than Hermione had ever seen him. His black hair was to his shoulders and wavy, his gray eyes looking her over in interest, and his wand was aimed directly at her in a menacing manner.
THe round boy behind them all was yawning, his wand stuck in his robes as he struggled to get it out. Peter Pettigrew. And the man besides James's right was someone she didn't recognize. His cheeks were round, despite his lean physique, and his cardigan seemed to be tugged on in haste to get downstairs. His face reminded her of someone, but she couldn't figure out who. "Where's Alice?" he asked Lily, his eyes darting around the Common Room before giving Hermione an accusitory look.
"McGonagall," Lily answered. "I have her wand. She won't do anything."
"She could have killed you," James warned. He glanced at Lily and looked away as Lily shot him a glare. "That's not what I meant. You guys were asleep and she just appears? She could have killed you in your sleep-"
"If she was, then crying out because she hurt herself wouldn't be the best way to do it," Lily retorted. Hermione bit her lip. It was true, at least. And with the war threatening them, she couldn't blame them for being cautious.
"What's your name?" Remus asked. "Blood status?" She didn't see how the blood status mattered, but she didn't know how things were... how bad they were.
So she was honest. "Hermione Granger. Muggleborn."
"She's a time-traveler. She came from 1997. She says the wars bad there, and she had to come back to save her friends."
"Tell me, do I keep my good looks in the future?" Sirius asked, but before Hermione could respond with an "I can't say," the door to the Common Room opened and a furious looking McGonagall was standing there.
"What is the meaning of this?" the Scottish woman drawled. "Do you have any idea what hour it is?"
"We caught an intruder, Gonnie," Sirius informed her. "In the girls dorms-"
"We did," Meadowes cut in, appearing from the stairs. "Time traveler. Future time traveler. She wants to talk to Dumbledore, but we got to you first." Perhaps Hermione shouldn't have mentioned time-travel right off the bat. Well, she didn't, but she could have been more careful with her ID. "We found her ID." Hermione didn't even realize that Lily still had it and watched as Lily handed it to Hermione's old Head of House.
"Gryffindor in your sixth year," the Scottish woman stated. "Seventeen. You can apparate?"
"Yes," Hermione nodded. Apparation liscenses weren't distributed at the age of seventeen until 1983. Before, it was the age of eighteen, when the student graduated from Hogwarts. "The law changed-"
"Not necessary information, Miss Granger. It says here, also, that you have a dependency?"
"My little sister," Hermione answered as eyebrows raised. "Before I left, I made sure she was placed in someone's care-"
"You've given up a lot to come back here," the woman observed. Hermione swallowed. "Why did you come here?"
"My friends are dying... The Ministry is falling right before our eyes." She glanced at them all. "I know the laws of time. I can't say much detail, but I swear to you that I mean no harm. I'd perform any vow you wish, drink the truth serum, if it makes you trust me. You're all in terrible danger-"
"Yes, we are at war, Miss Granger. The only safe havens in the world right now are the schools." Merlin, how bad was it? The Order - well, Sirius and Remus - had always told her and Harry and Ron that it wasn't too bad. But if it was as bad as they made it sound now... She could only imagine what it would be when the prophecy was made. "What makes you think that where you live, Voldemort is any worse?"
"Because he came back to life," Hermione answered calmly. "He died in this time frame and then came back to life twelve years later." She glanced around. "The Ministry will soon... in my time, that is, be under his grasp. He's gotten into Hogwarts in my time. He's possessed my friends... He's killed them inches from us all. We had no other choice. We have to stop it before it can start."
"Has he set fire to fields? Has he blown up entire cities?"
"Yes," Hermione replied quietly. "Like I told them... He kills hundreds a day... The Order only has maybe twenty members left now. And he has close to two thousand. We've reached a point where there's more submission than resisitance. And we're going to lose-"
"I'll retrieve Dumbledore. It's best the rest of you return to your dorms."
"No way," James returned. "This concerns me now. If she's talking about the future being ruined, then we have to help-"
"Mr. Potter. I suggest you lower your voice before I'm forced to return you to your rooms. You're welcome to stay and keep an eye on Miss Granger. If I come back and see spellfire, I will ensure that none of you go to Hogsmeade-"
"Understood," Sirius smiled pleasantly. He tucked his wand into his robes and strode forward, extending his hand towards Hermione. "Sirius Black. I trust you knew that."
Hermione nodded. "Hermione Granger." She took his hand carefully, as though it would not be real. He seemed to notice.
"Fuck, I die, don't I?"
She bubbled out a laugh. She knew she couldn't answer that question, but she found just actually touching him, seeing that he was alive and breathing, was the greatest relief she found. If only Harry were here. "It's so great to see you again. I mean, obviously you don't remember me, but- Merlin, it's fantastic." For a split second she considered hugging him. But by the obvious grin on his face, she didn't think that was a good idea. "I just mean... I'm glad to see you."
"Okay, what is this?" A voice interrupted. "Obviously, there's a party going on with some new girl. And I'm starting to think you purposely didn't invite me." The girl was standing at the stairs, staring down at them with arms crossed and her pajamas rumpled. "Yes, Marlene gets good grades. That doesn't mean she's walking around with a stick up her arse. Like, bloody hell, you invited Evans, for Merlin's sake-"
"Oi," James cried.
"Oh, sod off," the woman muttered.
"Do you know who all of us are?" Lily asked Hermione.
Hermione shook her head, not feeling the need to elaborate on just who she knew. "Just a few."
"Well, then," Sirius winked. "I feel elated to be one of the select few. I'm Sirius Orion Black. These are my men in arms and pranks, James Potter, Remus Lupin, Peter Pettigrew, and Frank Longbottom. These deliciously fine young ladies are Dorcas Meadowes, Remus's girlfriend," Sirius kissed the cheek of the woman that had first spotted Hermione. She remembered him mentioning her in her own time. Blown to pieces... They had never found a body. She had been an extremely adept fighter, as well. Just in the few moments Hermione knew her, she knew that was the case. She was gorgeous as well. Her eyes a misty color and her teeth white, straight. Merlin, Remus never mentioned dating her. "Marlene McKinnon, Peter's girlfriend-"
"Sirius, don't you dare-" Marlene began to warn, but it seemed to be too late. Sirius planted a kiss right on her lips, causing the Irish woman to squawk and whack Sirius in the head. "How dare you?"
"Easy," Sirius winked. "Want a repeat?"
"Not in years," Marlene returned icily.
"You know dear Lily Evans, I'm assuming. And then there's the gorgeous Alice Pevernell. Frankie's girlfriend."
"It's nice to meet all of you," Hermione admitted. And it truly was. She didn't realize how spectacular this moment was. She was with Neville's parents. Harry's parents. It was spectacular. She could see everything. Every moment that was lost with their deaths. The trains of thought Hermion'e was having disappeared as a new figure emerged from the wall. Nearly Headless Nick. She had never been so happy to see a ghost that hadn't changed in age or appearance. She almost expected Harry or Ron to emerge from the portrait hole next, but she was filled with disappointment when she knew that wouldn't happen.
"Miss Granger, if you'll please follow me," Nearly Headless Nick stated, bowing slightly towards her. "The Headmaster would like to speak with you privately."
She saw the looks of incredulity on the other's faces that they wouldn't be allowed to hear the story of how she got here. She didn't want them to ever know. The less people that knew about it, the better. And Dumbledore could be trusted above all others. She stepped around Lily and moved towards the ghost. "We'll be waiting for your return," Lily stated. It was almost a warning. Hermione nodded and manuvered after the transparent figure towards the familiar office of Albus Dumbledore.
The interior of the castle was exactly the same as she remembered. Hermione doubted they redecorated every year, but the familiarity of it all made her think of her own years in Hogwarts. It wasn't as though she would be returning. The spell had been quite clear in the extent of that reverse travel. It was impossible. And by impossible they truly meant impossible. She had done extensive calculations since the end of fifth year, when the idea had first occurred to her. Now... Now was the only future she'd ever know.
"Miss Granger?" Hermione glanced up at the sound of her name to see the ghost hovering in front of the stone statues. "We're here."
"Oh, thank you for walking me," Hermione informed the being. She eyed the gargoyles when they didn't move. "I don't know the password, I'm afraid."
"Sugar Quills." The simple words spoken by the ghost caused the magic to spring the stone creature to life and stairs began to appear. Hermione herself couldn't remember the last time she had been to the Headmaster's office. Surely when she was in third year, and again in Fourth for the Triwizard Tournament, but she doubted another time beyond that.
"Thank you," Hermione said in parting to the ghost, who tipped his head in departure as well, showing Hermione his sliced neck. She shivered as she looked away, her legs already pulling her towards the elderly man that was contained up the tower. Before she had even approached, she could hear voices arguing.
"-a trap. If the Dark Lord has discovered that the best way to infiltrate the school is through students-"
"She has an identification card that clearly states that she is from the future. There can be no replecations of those. I've thoroughly examined it and there was no magic that tampered with it. I suggest, Minerva, that you instead let our guest in so I may talk to her."
Hermione was quiet sure they were talking about her and stepped in front of the door, giving two sharp knocks before letting her hand drop to her side. The door was pulled open by a frazzled Professor McGonagall, the hair in her tight bun frizzy and hanging from pieces it had been pulled from its proper position. Hermione noticed that the elderly woman was younger, less severe, and her dress was much like the nightgown she had entered the Common Room in once before.
"I believe we can have you resume your studies. Do you have supplies?"
I nodded, elated, "Yes, sir, I have everything that should be required on the book list."
"Now, thank you very much. I suggest you claim your bed before the train arrives." He made his way to the door before stopping and turning, his hand in his robes. "Oh, and before I forget, this came to me earlier today and a feeling told me to keep it on my person until I should need to give it away."
"Hey, look! Evans has a new friend!" I heard a familiar voice shout. I turned and saw two boys walking towards us. Another boy, who looked nearly identical to Harry – assuming he was James – was right behind the duo, and a boy with grungy looking skin had to be Peter. That made the two boys in front Sirius and Remus. Sirius had wavy black hair that was short, but seemed to suit him. He had a wolfish grin on his face and he obviously had spoken, for Remus – who looked nearly identical as he did in my time – elbowed him roughly. Sirius's gray eyes, unwavering as they met my own brown, seemed to twinkle in interest. Holy Merlin's Mustache!
"Oi, what as that for, Moony?"
"Already talk trash about us, Dork?" Remus laughed, seeing the look on my face.
"Alright, this is where I take my leave. Guys, I believe Peeves has ordered a meeting-"
"Don't you dare!" Lily whispered furiously.
"What are you going to do, Evans?" Sirius challenged.
"Take away twenty points," Lily threatened. "Each."
Sirius rolled his eyes, "Like to see you try."
"Twenty points from Gryffindor for even thinking up a silly prank that will get you expelled!"
"Bloody hell, Evans," Sirius muttered. "Taking points from your own house is just making everyone hate you."