Chapter 1: Prologue
Hermione coughed roughly as her fingers tightened into fists on the cold wood floor. Her chest ached and the area just behind her eyes throbbed. She squinted her eyes shut against the light overhead and willed her ears to fall deaf for a short while if only to avoid the mingled shrieks of shock and alarm from the men and women surrounding her.
They yelled words across the hall at one another, some directed their inquirers directly to her. Only one was smart enough to kick her wand out of her hand and haul her up, gripping her upper arms as they did so. The man, she knew from the strength of his grip and the tenor of his voice as he shouted in her face, shook her brutally when she didn’t respond to his words, didn’t open her clenched eyes to look at him.
In her defence, she made a mental note to inform them all, she had just been tortured and flung 20 years into the past.
A voice she hadn’t heard in 2 years bellowed above the others. A single word quieted the throng of witches and wizards that shouted for her blood, her head, her information.
She could feel the hand go slack on her arms, but she wasn’t prepared for supporting her own weight and fell in a heap at the man’s feet. Her hair was a curtain, shielding her face from the light and the unknown eyes, as she slowly pried her eyes open and focused on the shoes in front of her. Familiar. They at least were familiar. Albus Dumbledore had a penchant for dramatics and an eclectic taste in fashion. His bright yellow slippers, complete with silver stars and the odd, curled tip were just as she remembered them when she had last seen them. Third year, sleeping in the Great Hall because Sirius Black was loose in the castle. Listening to Dumbledore walking through the aisles of students was not something she would forget.
“What is the date, Albus?” Her voice was croaky, probably from misuse, and Professor Dumbledore’s given name felt foreign on her tongue.
“My dear, I do not know how you know my -“
“THE DATE, DAMN YOU’ The violence in her voice, the way she reminded herself of Sirius Black that night in third year, was startling. She physically lunged at the man, slightly younger than she remembered, and was pushed back by a shield. She took a deep breath and repeated, softer this time, while placing her hands against the unyielding wall of air ‘Please, Albus. The date.”
There was a beat of silence before she heard the old man take a measured breath.
“August 1st, 1980”
Hermione looked up then. She met Dumbledore’s eyes immediately. Confusion, concern, and beneath it all Hermione knew there was an unrelenting desire for power. Blood began to rush in her ears and she had to clench her hands into fists where they lay against the shield in an effort to keep from clawing his brilliant blue eyes out. She started to laugh.
Chapter 2: The Interrogation
She was still laughing, cackling madly if she were honest when two men stepped forward and lifted her between them. She was too far gone to take note of who they might be, but they smelled like sweat and sulfur - there had been a battle recently, then. Her laughter reminded her of how Bellatrix would laugh, uncontrollable and insane, but she couldn’t find it within her to care. She made it.
It had worked.
She couldn’t believe it had actually worked.
The foursome passed through doors, strode down hallways, and turned corners before the two men gripping her threw her into a chair and cast a body bind. Dumbledore swept into the room and waved his hand at the area in front of her, causing a large armchair to appear in the previously vacant spot. It was plush and pink, and Dumbledore was the picture of innocence as he summoned tea and cakes. A cup levitated from the tray and the kettle poured tea before two sugars were deposited inside and a small spoon stirred the drink. He gestured to the tray, eyes twinkling.
Still playing the friendly Grandfather, then. You can work with that.
Hermione’s laugher had died somewhat, though she was still grinning like a maniac. Her teeth, once pristine and white, were caked with plague and chipped from one too many punches. The skin beneath her eyes was black, she was sure, and as she breathed in she was sure she had broken ribs. A small price to pay.
“Child, tell me who you are.” Dumbledore’s voice was grave as he stared into her eyes, she felt his mind brush against hers and immediately, unconsciously threw up her walls. The effort it took was staggering and she dug her nails into the unyielding wood of the chair. She felt them splinter and break, but the effort it was taking to keep him out, to make it known that she was not unfamiliar with his game, it almost undid her.
Dumbledore’s posture betrayed no shock, though his eyes looked somewhat taken aback. Her manic grin slipped into a knowing smirk, one bushy eyebrow-raising in a challenge as she cocked her head to the side.
“You may look, Albus, but on my terms.' She waited for his nod before continuing 'Much of what you will see must be kept between us two, you understand. There is some... disturbing information.”
Dumbledore looked into her eyes, curiosity was the overwhelming emotion hiding there, and Hermione let her walls fall.
She sat quietly as she felt him poke her most recent memories, brief flashes of her numerous tortures came to her mind unwillingly and she flinched at each. Dumbledore’s eyes raked over her with pity now.
I don't want your pity, old man. A voice in her head snarled.
He watched her capture and the 6 months of hiding and researching that preceded it. He watched as each member of the Weasley clan died screaming, though Hermione flinched back when the Death Eaters grabbed Ron and threw him on the fire. He watched Harry fight bravely, then he watched Harry die.
Finally, he watched the 11 years that had come before all of that.
When it was all said and done Dumbledore looked as if he was terrified of himself, for becoming the man who would willingly lead children to their deaths. He looked as if he wanted nothing more than to apologize for everything she had been through.
“There is no need, Professor. I know you did what you thought was right.”
He met her eyes, tears forming there, and nodded his thanks. She saw it for what it was, an act. Dumbledore had played his cards and he played them wrong the first time. The regret she saw in his eyes was regret that none of his plans had worked, she was sure.
“I suppose you do not need to tell me your purpose in coming to this time, do you Miss. Granger?”
Her smile was small, but relieved “No, Professor. I don’t believe I do.”
“He was born yesterday, you know.”
Hermione’s heart spasmed in her chest and tears welled in her eyes. “H-… have you seen him?”
Brown met blue as she silently pleaded with the old man to tell her he was safe, that he was a normal, happy baby who would grow to be a normal, happy child with a bedroom and parents who loved him. She hated herself for it, but she was willing to beg, plead, and make an unbreakable vow to Dumbledore right there if it meant he'd tell her what she wanted to know.
Dumbledore shook his head slowly, sighing softly before the twinkle returned to his eye. “But I do believe there is someone here who has.”
Remus Lupin was distrustful by nature. He had spent 6 of the 8 months of his first year sending his new roommates suspicious looks before he realized that these boys were not plotting some elaborate ruse that would expose his secret to the world, they just wanted to be his friends. Remus had never had friends before.
So when a woman appeared in the middle of an Order safe house, unwilling to open her eyes or speak to anyone but Albus Dumbledore, he had immediately set to mentally calculating the number of escape routes in the building and how he could get as many members to them as possible. When the woman began laughing hysterically, that was when he began tallying how many offensive spells he could reasonably expect to hit her within less than a minute. If she smelled wonderful and the sight of her made the werewolf stir beneath his skin, that was a matter to be dealt with at a later time.
He had been pulled from the field just that week. James and Lily had gone into hiding in early July, though he couldn’t be sure that it was really hiding when the two had simply barricaded themselves in Potter manner under the pretense that Lily was quite ill throughout the pregnancy. Now that Harry was born the plan was that they would choose their Secret Keeper and the charm would be performed tonight before the little family moved to a new, less conspicuous location.
Remus sighed softly as he lowered himself into a chair opposite Sirius. The two locked eyes briefly and Remus’ heart ached. The war had taken a great many things from him, now it had taken one of his closest friends.
The entire Order knew there was a mole. How could there not be? Too many of their top secret plans had fallen apart when Death Eaters seemed to know what obscure route they were taking, or the exact time Order members would apparate somewhere. Remus had been living with the werewolves for months, it was only natural that Sirius suspected him. His heart had been trying to rationalize how the war had made one of his closest friends turn against him so, but the voice in his head told him that they should all be suspicious of him. He was a monster, and monsters deserve no less than absolute suspicion.
He was jolted from his thoughts by the soft voice of his former Headmaster.
“The girl is no threat to us.”
Sirius was up from his chair and across the room in a flash.
“How do you know, Dumbledore? She pops into an Order house, no one recognizes her, she looks like she's been tortured, and she starts laughing like a maniac. How can we trust her?”
Blue met grey and Remus could see from where he sat across the room that Dumbledore was analyzing the best approach to convincing the young man. Dumbledore had done so much for Remus, he owed the older man his gratitude and loyalty but...
There was a nagging voice in the back of his head that told him something wasn't right whenever Dumbledore got that twinkle in his eye.
“If Dumbledore says she isn’t a threat, Sirius, we have to trust him. Did you use Veritiserum, Professor?” Remus’ voice was soft as he tried to coax his friend into thinking rationally, though that was a losing battle on a good day.
“No, my boy, I have much more reliable methods of learning the truth” If Remus hadn’t been watching closely, he probably wouldn’t have noticed the way Dumbledore’s eyes lingered on Peter.
“…How?” Sirius was calm again, curious.
“I have looked into her mind, my boy. She is no threat to us, or to young Harry. In fact, I think she may be his most staunch supporter.”
Sirius laughed loudly at that, a bark reminiscent of his animal form.
“How’s that possible Albus, the pup was only born yesterday.”
Dumbledore’s eyes locked with Sirius’ once more.
“I think, Mr. Black, that you should come with me for a moment.” With that, Dumbledore turned on his heel and left the room. Sirius, hesitated a beat to turn his head and share a confused look with Remus and Peter, followed him a moment later.
Hermione was grateful that Dumbledore had lifted the body bind before he left the room, though she had little energy to do more than sit in her chair and run her hands over her extremities and catalogue the variety of scars that marred her flesh.
There was mudblood, carved into her skin once while Harry lived, then hundreds of times after his death. She had burns on her hands from pulling at logs that were still burning in an effort to collect the bodies of a red-headed clan who had treated her as their own daughter and hidden her when the Death Eaters came to call. She had a jagged lightning bolt carved into her forearm, a gift from Bellatrix to remind her of all she lost.
When Dumbledore opened the heavy wooden door hiding her from the rest of the Order, he was no longer alone.
She hadn’t seen this man in 4 years, and she had certainly never seen him this youthful. Sirius Black was tall, as he always had been, with long raven locks and sharp grey eyes. His body didn’t tell a tale of betrayal yet, and it was still youthful and muscular. He had his denim shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and his black trousers were significantly tighter than he had worn in her time, though he hadn’t dressed so deliberately muggle during her time period, either.
“Miss Granger, I believe you know this man?”
Her smile, the first real one she had worn since... well, a very long time, was soft as if she was stuck in a memory, as she looked up at the charismatic man who wanted nothing more than to keep Harry safe. He will do nicely.
“I do indeed, Professor. Sirius of the Ancient and Most Noble House of Black, correct?” Her head tilted to the side and a small smirk played on her lips. Her eyes dragged up and down his form, obviously sizing up the imposing male.
His eyes narrowed into slits as he surveyed the woman, Miss Granger, his mind dwelled momentarily on her name before dismissing it. He had never met this woman before.
Hermione saw the switch flip in Sirius, he was suspicious and stand-offish one moment and friendly and flirting the next. This was the Sirius she knew, the one who was raised to use his charm to get what he wanted. He may have been blasted off the family tree, but, as he told her over tea one quiet morning the summer between 4th and 5th year, you never forget the lessons family teaches you.
“How is it that I don’t know such a ravishing creature?’ He strutted to her chair and lifted her hand to his lips, where a grin she was positive had made many a woman swoon slowly grew ‘Miss. Granger, was it?”
She dropped the smirk, smiling softly at him, marveling at the youthful face that time and circumstance had not yet mared.
“Yes, Hermione. Pleasure.” She reached her hand forward, the one with mudblood carved into her arm, and Sirius took it. She was filthy, she realized, but his manners were impeccable as he raised her knuckles to his lips and brushed a soft kiss against them.
“Oh, kitten. The pleasure is all mine.”
A soft cough from Dumbledore was enough to break Sirius' intent focus. “As flattered as I’m sure Miss. Granger is, Mr. Black, I have called you in here for a reason.”
“And what reason would that be, Albus? Need me to mind this beautiful creature for a few hours? I’m sure I could be persuaded” With that, he sent a roguish wink her way. Hermione chuckled softly and shook her head.
“He hasn’t changed at all. No, Sirius. The reason Professor Dumbledore has called you in here is that you are the only one who can give me the answers I need.”
His face lost its casual, carefree look and his eyes became hard as they bore into her own. “And what might those answers pertain to, Miss. Granger?”
She flinched at his tone. It was cold and calculated and entirely too similar to Bellatrix’s. Her hands clenched as her mind flashed to the basement she was held in.
Chapter 3: The Mole
The effect was immediate, as she knew it would be. Sirius’ wand was pulled from his sleeve and pressed against her jugular as his eyes flashed dangerously. His body pressed against her, which in turn pressed her back into the chair, as he loomed over her. The tip of his wand dug into her flesh uncomfortably. Hermione was unmoved, though, her face a mask of steel as she tilted her chin upwards to meet his eyes.
But she was bellatrix LeStrange there.
Her face became devoid of emotion as she slipped inside herself, reliving nights in the common room with her best friends, holidays spent skiing with her parents and dinners around the Weasley’s table. She felt her spine curl and her chin tuck and, fight as she did, she couldn't stop her body's response.
Sirius watched, completely awestruck, as the girl with the steel spine shrunk within herself. His momentary start allowed Dumbledore to silently summon his wand, leaving the young man clenching his fist leaning over the woman who looked a child at the moment.
Jesus, he thought, she's not much more than a child.
It was true. With the grime and dirt covering her features, Hermione Granger looked old and weathered. Her attitude played into that impression. But now, the way she curled into herself reminded him of a kicked dog, or mistreated child. Gods, she can't have been out of Hogwarts 2 years?
Dumbledore stood and swept around Sirius, clucking his tongue disapprovingly as he did so. He stooped over the girl and began speaking to her in soothing tones, calling her back from whatever darkened corner of her mind that she had retreated to.
When Hermione opened her eyes her gaze locked on the sad blue of her old Headmaster’s. She coughed roughly and straightened herself in the chair, squaring her shoulders and setting her jaw before nodding slightly to the old man, permitting him to step back so she could lock eyes with Sirius. “You mistake me for a Death Eater, Sirius’ Her voice was soft as she pulled up her sleeve and revealed the ugly scar beneath. ‘Your cousin’s handiwork. We were captured and H-… my friends were brought to the dungeons while she had her fun with me. I am the furthest thing from a Death Eater, Sirius. I am the greatest ally Harry has, all I want is to know if he’s safe.”
She watched as Sirius looked helplessly between her, her scar, and Dumbledore. After a few moments he appeared to gather his wits and kneel before her, gently taking her wrist in his hands.
“Bella did this?” His voice was soft, broken, and Hermione saw the man she had known. This man who hated his family so much he had gone and found himself a new one at 11, who boasted of his hatred for the Most Ancient and Noble House of Black, was also a man who longed for his family to just be normal.
“Yes. We were captured. My friend, he was so headstrong, so brave. He refused to call Voldemort by anything but his name and they caught us because of a slip…’ She locked eyes with him ‘Please, Sirius. I just need to know he’s safe.”
Confusion clouded his gaze then.
“Why? How did you even know he was born?”
Hermione shifted her gaze to Dumbledore, who looked resigned to accept whatever she chose to reveal. She inhaled deeply, drawing on everything she knew of the Marauders.
“Your nickname is Padfoot. Your friends are James Potter, Peter Pettigrew, and Remus Lupin. They are called Messers Prongs, Wormtail, and Moony, respectfully. Prongs because James’ animagus is a stag, Wormtail because Peter is a rat, Padfoot because you’re a great, black dog — quite similar to a grimm, if you don’t mind my saying so — and Moony because Remus was bitten by Fenier Greenback when he was 4. You all met on the train in first year and became fast friends. You figured out Remus’ secret in third year and spent the following 2 years trying to figure out how to make the transformations easier on him, so you became illegal animagi. You ran away from home in 6th year and ran to the Potter’s, who took you in and treated you as if you were their own. Lily finally gave James a chance in seventh year. Severus Snape, a childhood friend of Lily’s, overheard a prophecy pertaining to a child born as the seventh month dies. Voldemort thinks that child is Harry, who was born to Lily and James just last night, so you are all intending to preform the charm to make you secret keeper tonight.'
Sirius stared at her, completely shocked as she riddled off information no one knew. How did she know?
'But you’ve been thinking, haven’t you? Thinking that it would make more sense to make Peter secret keeper? Little Peter Pettigrew would never be suspected, but you, you would be a prize for Voldemort to catch and torture until you gave away their location or died protecting it. No one would think that Lily and James would place their faith in anyone but you. You’re also becoming suspicious of Remus, because you know there is a mole, don’t you? And you think its him, since he’s spent the past few months with the werewolf packs.”
Sirius was staring slack jawed at her. His mind was moving at a break neck speed trying to discern how this stranger knew more about him than anyone but the Marauders.
“I know all of this because you told me, Sirius. You and Remus. You both thought it was important for us to understand how everything happened. You… you wanted Harry to understand.”
“I… I wanted Harry to understand?”
She nodded, tears building in her eyes.
“He… he grew up with Lily’s sister. They… oh god, Sirius. They were awful to him. He didn’t know what it was to be loved until he met Ron and I… he hadn’t received Christmas presents before his first year because they didn’t care enough to get him anything. He slept in a cupboard for 11 years… I… I can’t let that happen again, Sirius. I can’t let any of it happen.”
“Any… any of what?”
She was sobbing now, the horrors of his future and her past playing before her eyes like a film.
“I know, I’ve changed everything already just being here. But the future… its so much worse than any of you can possibly imagine. I can’t let it happen. Harry needs a family. He needs to be loved. He deserves it. I would do anything for him, Sirius. He was my brother in all but blood. I have laid down my life for him, time and time again. I begged him’ She broke off as a sob tore through her chest ‘I begged him not to. I told him I would go with him, we’d face it together, just like we’d done everything before, but he took that blasted invisibility cloak and disappeared into the forest. Then he was dead and Death Eaters were everywhere. Hogwarts fell and we hid, but they came for us all.”
Dumbledore’s soft voice broke her from her stream of consciousness. “Miss Granger, I believe you have gotten ahead of yourself.”
She sniffled softly, wiping her eyes before straightening her back once more.
“You’re right, Professor. My apologies, Sirius, I’m getting ahead of myself. My name is Hermione Granger, my birthday is September 19, 1979. My best friend is Harry Potter. I will die to protect him Sirius, I just need to know he’s alright.”
Sirius was in shock. The information was coming at him in a rapid fire fashion and the best he could do was let it shoot around inside his brain and attempt to make some sense of it.
“Harry… Harry is… He’s dead in your time?”
Hermione paled and began to wring her hands.
“It was the final battle. We only had one horcrux left when Harry realized that he was one too, so he went to face Voldemort. He had to sacrifice himself so we could have a fighting chance, but we didn’t have a chance without him… None of us did.”
Sirius gripped her hand suddenly.
“He’s safe. The pup… the pup’s beautiful. Lily’s eyes and a mop of hair that—“
“Sticks up in every direction no matter what Lily does” Hermione’s smile was small as she spoke, Sirius’ grin was wide and toothy as he chuckled.
“Yes, yes it does”
Hermione looked between Dumbledore and Sirius for a moment before standing abruptly, her hand reaching out to Sirius’
“May I borrow your wand, please?”
Sirius briefly looked to Dumbledore before nodding his assent and handing the piece of wood over to the teenager before him.
“Animagum revelo… homeo revelo…”
When nothing happened after she muttered the spells Hermione quickly warded the room before turning back to the two men.
“You have a spy in your midst.”
“Yes, my dear. We know.”
“I know who it is.”
“Yes, my dear. I know.”
Her eyes shifted to Sirius then, locking with his grey orbs and staring into them for a minute before she forced herself to give him the earth-shattering news.
“Its Peter. Peter Pettigrew.”
Chapter 4: The Unforgivable
Thank you so much for all the comments and kudos and subscriptions! I've read each of them and you have no idea how much they mean to me!
I'm in the middle of law school finals right now, but I'm going to do my best to update at least once a week! After the 19th I'll be able to update much more frequently!
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Peter Pettigrew hadn’t always been this way. He fondly remembered himself at 15 years old, when he underwent the dangerous and painful process of become an animagi to help one of his closest friends. He often looked in the mirror and couldn’t reconcile the man he became with the 15 year old he had been.
He had joined the Order after Hogwarts, just like the other Marauders, but a distance quickly emerged between the 4 friends. Remus was immediately thrown into the wild with the werewolf packs, James and Sirius were partners in Auror training and on missions, Peter only had his ailing mother.
It was well after midnight the night they came for him.
He had been out drinking with James and Sirius, a regular occurrence at the time, and had stumbled through the front door. His eyes were unfocused, but he knew his mother was not that tall, her hair was not that wild, and her face never looked so malevolent.
The woman looked surprisingly similar to Sirius. She had the tell tale Black family cheekbones, as well as their madness glinting behind her eyes. Though Peter had never met her, he knew in his heart that this was Bellatrix LeStrange.
Sirius’ older cousin was “mental”, as he so eloquently phrased it. When he was deep enough in his cups, Sirius could be persuaded to outline the extent of her madness through his personal experiences at the other end of her wand. Bellatrix was 8 years older than Sirius, and was frequently called upon by Walburga to punish the insolent Black family heir.
“‘Lo Petey’ her voice was low and dangerous, Peter’s eyes had flicked to the windows on either side of her as he attempted to find an escape route ‘no need to worry about Mummy… she’s perfectly safe so long as this conversation goes the way I envisioned it.”
Peter was never a brave boy. He had been lucky when he was placed in the same dorm as James, Sirius, and Remus. They were the brave ones, the ones who could look Grindelwald right in the eye and tell him to fuck himself. Peter… well Peter was just along for the ride.
“Please…’ His hands were held out in front of him, begging her silently as he fell to his knees ‘I’ll… I’ll do whatever you want… Just please don’t hurt me…”
Bellatrix’s grin was sinister as she reached forward and gripped his forearm, apparating them away.
Now Peter’s hands were shaking and there were beads of sweat pooling at his hairline. The Dark Lord wouldn’t be pleased with this development. The girl was a wild card, one that may change everything.
The Dark Lord had been delighted when Peter had arrived weeks ago with the news that Sirius thought Remus was the mole and that he would be suggesting James and Lily make Peter their secret keeper. In Sirius’ words “no one would suspect you, Pete. Bella would love the chance to come after me, but you’ll all be hidden and safe”. The Dark Lord had cackled and rewarded Peter handsomely, promising that he would live in the lap of luxury once he delivered the Potters.
Everything was falling apart, he just knew it. He saw Dumbledore’s look when he came to collect Sirius, the girl knew something. How she knew it was another matter entirely.
Peter looked around anxiously, locking eyes with Remus who sized him up quickly before settling in the seat next to him.
“There’s nothing to worry about, Pete. Everything is going to be fine. Dumbledore already said the girl isn’t a threat to us.”
“Y-yeah, of course. You’re right, mate. You know how I get… always nervous.” Peter forced himself to chuckle awkwardly as he wiped his hands on his trousers and made to stand up. “I suppose I’ll head out. I want to check on Mum before the meeting tonight. See you in a few hours, Moony!”
As Peter hurried to the door he heard Remus’ soft goodbye, followed by quick footsteps. Just as his hand touched the door handle he felt a wand tip press into the base of his skull.
Hermione was no stranger to unforgivable curses, she had been the victim of them countless times, but she had not cast one before now.
Think of Harry. This man would see Harry grow up alone. This man would see Harry die.
She walked in front of Peter, staring into his eyes. Through the glassy look that revealed her recently cast Imperio, she could see the fear.
“Hello, Peter. You don’t know me… but I know you. I know everything, Peter.” The fear grew, she could feel him trying to fight the curse through her magic, but she held fast “You and I are going to have a chat, Peter. Walk.”
Peter immediately walked back the way he had came and into the room that now held Dumbledore, Sirius, and a horror struck Remus.
4 wizards crept down the path that led to the small cottage. They had apparated all around Europe to ensure they weren’t being followed before they had finally arrived in the small wizarding town of Godric’s Hallow. The air was crisp for August, which had the foursome hurrying their steps.
The oldest waved his wand at the door, making it swing open to reveal a quaint living room.
“Hello, you lot!” The dark-haired wizard’s voice was deep, and his face was joyful as he crossed from the couch where a red-headed woman sat holding a bundle.
Greetings were exchanged and they all embraced like the old friends they were. The woman stood slowly before her husband rushed over to her and forced her to take a seat as he ushered the group into the living room where his wife could comfortably enjoy the company.
James Potter was overjoyed that Remus was home, he had spent the past 6 months spending half of his time worrying over his pregnant wife and the other half worrying about his friend living in the cold and being forced to change without his pack.
Lily Potter glowed. Her hair was pulled back in a bun and her fingers stroked the thick hair on her son’s head.
The group sat, their faces grim as Dumbledore launched into an explanation of everything the couple had missed that day.
“So… this girl… she knows who the mole is?” James’ voice was eager, it was plain to see how stir crazy he was.
Dumbledore nodded gravely.
“But before we launch into the tale any further, I believe it is imperative that she reveals herself”
The couple looked around eagerly, failing to catch the glimmer of magic that covered Peter.
Suddenly, Peter grew, his hair lengthened and his waist became slim. Within moments, Peter was replaced with Hermione.
“My apologies for hiding, but it was imperative that anyone who saw us know that Peter arrived here tonight.” Hermione’s voice was casual as she brushed dirt from Peter’s shirt, her face twisted in revulsion. She smelled like him and it disgusted her more than the fact that the clothes she had previously worn hadn't been washed in nearly a year.
“Pete stayed at headquarters?” James’ voice was confused, Hermione could see his son in him then. He wanted to see the best in the people he chose to protect. It was Harry.
“James… Lily… I have… I have so much to tell you bu—“ Hermione was cut off by a sharp cry from the blanket that she hadn’t really noticed until now. Odd, considering why she had come in the first place.
His fist was shaking and his mouth was open in a wail. His hair was jet black and as messy as it always had been and, though she couldn’t see them at the moment, Hermione knew his eyes would be emerald green.
She stepped around the coffee table, gently reaching down to finger the blanket before she fell to her knees and sobbed into her best friend’s baby blanket.
Chapter 5: The Explination
James looked at his wife, confusion dancing across his features. Lily, for her part, didn't allow her instincts to let her rip her son away from the crying stranger, and instead shifted his eyes around the room then back to the sobbing girl at her feet. Dumbledore’s eyes were sad, his mouth turned down in a small, pitying frown. Sirius was looking anywhere but the girl, his hands clenching and unclenching on his legs and Remus looked just as confused as James and Lily did, which James took comfort in. At least they weren’t the last to know what the hell was going on.
“Miss Granger’ Dumbledore’s voice was softer than James had ever heard, as if he was talking to a frightened animal ‘Do you need anything?”
The girl’s sobbing subsided after a moment, leaving her eyes rimmed with red and tear tracks down her cheeks. She looked up, blushing profusely.
“I… I’m so sorry… I shouldn’t… I shouldn’t have behaved so. I’m sure you’re both very confused.” James watched as her eyes fell on his son again, her face relaxed for a moment before screwing up as if she was in pain. In a moment she was across the room, pacing in front of their fireplace and mumbling to herself in a stream of consciousness.
Sirius watched her before he stood and gripped her upper arms, holding her slightly away from his body and bending so he could make eye contact. He spoke so softly, and with such kindness, that James was taken aback. Sirius was loud, boisterous, and had a wit to match anyone’s, but he was uncomfortable with intimacy, and this interaction was significantly more intimate than any James had witnessed between his friend and a member of the opposite sex.
The girl nodded sharply before turning back to the group and moving to sit in the chair she had vacated. Sirius gripped her shoulder as he passed, taking his seat once more before nodding encouragingly at her. James' eyes shifted to Remus, seeking clarification, but was shocked to see the forest green of his eyes flash yellow as they tracked Sirius back to his seat.
“My name is Hermione Granger. I was born September 19, 1979. I’m 19 years old and for the past seven years I’ve been fighting a war alongside my best friend.”
The group was silent, awestruck. James looked at Dumbledore, who nodded. If Dumbledore was confirming her story, it had to be true.
“Wait! If you’re from the future… you can’t tell us anything. It would damage the timeline…” Lily trailed off as she watched the girl’s face crumple.
“We lost. Everything is lost.” The girl, Hermione, clenched her hands into fists.
James and Lily exchanged a look. They were aware of the prophecy, they were aware that Voldemort thought it was their son. They knew what Hermione’s statement meant.
“I’m so sorry” Her voice was small, so small and broken that James’ heart broke at the thought of what she must have endured. “I’m so sorry… I tried… I tried so hard to protect him. It’s all I ever wanted, I just wanted him safe and happy. He above all else deserves it. It was the final battle, at Hogwarts, and Voldemort wanted him alone so… so he went.”
James gripped Lily’s hand, knowing that she was silently crying along with the girl. Hermione looked up, a small smile playing across her face and a far-away look in her eyes.
“He was like that, you see. We became friends because he saved me from a troll in the Hogwarts lavatory first year. He was always willing to sacrifice himself to protect others, so when Voldemort called him I don’t think he hesitated for a moment. He walked into the Forbidden Forest and Hagrid carried him out. Voldemort won and everyone… everyone was gone. I was on the run with the Weasleys, but we were caught. They… they thought that their blood status would be enough to save them, so they hid me instead of themselves, but…”
“Go on, Hermione, it's alright.” Sirius’ voice was soft, mournful.
The girl, Hermione, James’ mind supplied, took a deep breath.
“The Death Eaters were everywhere. They built a pyre for each of them and then they lit them on fire one at a time.” The faraway look was back again, but this time there was no smile, just a haunted look that James had seen in Sirius’ eyes when he was pulled from his nightmares. “Ginny and Ron… they were last.”
Lily sobbed then, gripping her baby tighter and bringing her hand to stifle the sound.
It took a few moments, but eventually Lily calmed. James nodded at Hermione, silently beseeching her to continue.
“I was on the run alone after that. Everyone I knew and loved was gone. The Death Eaters found me eventually, I had gone back to Grimmauld and scoured the library for any dark magic I could find. I found a spell… I had no idea if it would work or tear me apart but I… I needed to try to fix it. Bellatrix found me before I could speak the incantation… she held me for months, tortured me every day. Everyone else had a quick death… but me… she wouldn’t give me the relief, no matter how often I begged for it. Greyback… she brought him in right before the moon. He wasn’t allowed to scratch or bite, but everything else… she let him do whatever he wanted.”
Remus stood so quickly the chair flipped. There was an animalistic glint in his eyes and a sneer on his face. James was once again staring at his best friend as if he'd never even met him; this was not the man he knew. Remus' chest heaved once, twice, and his hands clenched and unclenched at his sides. His nostrils were flaring as he locked eyes with the bushy-haired woman curled into the hard-back wooden chair. She whimpered, staring at him with tear-filled eyes, and he stormed out of the house and into the back garden. Sirius jumped up to follow him.
Hermione choked out a sob at the scene.
“Professor… Remus won’t look at me the same again… Oh god.” Her head dropped to her hands and her shoulders shook with the weight of her sobbing.
James watched in silence as Lily handed him their son, the son who was dead, who this girl seemed to love more than life. The red head stood and collected Hermione into her arms, falling to the ground with the girl and rocking her. She stroked her hair and whispered soothing words, humming the lullaby that she sang to Harry until the sobbing subsided.
“Dumbledore… what do we do?”
Hermione was asleep and Lily had a steel like resolve in her eyes.
“Miss Granger helped your son in his efforts to defeat Voldemort in her timeline. She intends to defeat Voldemort before Harry is ever required to.”
“Why was he required to, Dumbledore? Why was such a task left to children?!”
Dumbledore looked ashamed of himself.
“Lily… I am ashamed of who I became in Miss Granger’s timeline. I am not privy to the memories of my older self, but at present I am unsure of why I allowed any of it to happen.”
Lily looked ready to rip Dumbledore to shreds.
“Evans’ The old nickname fell from his lips before James could stop it ‘we don’t know what happened to Harry… we just… we just know he’s dead and that this girl loved him. We can’t blame Dumbledore for mistakes he hasn’t made yet. Harry’s waking up, would you mind changing him while I check on Remus?”
Lily nodded, extracting herself from Hermione and waving her hand at the girl. As she collected Harry and moved up the stairs towards his nursery, the sleeping body of Hermione Granger floated along behind her.
James’ eyes levelled on Dumbledore.
“I don’t know what she’s been through, Dumbledore. I do know that if you can’t protect us from whatever is coming I need to know now. I’ll take them to the ends of the earth to keep my family safe.”
Dumbledore looked mournful.
“Mr Potter, I think the time for movement has passed. From what I have seen of what Miss Granger has been through, she is our only hope.”
James felt his rage boil over as he turned away from the old man and stepped into the back garden where Remus was raging.
Remus’ world had never been so small. When Hermione Granger fell into the Order safe house he had been suspicious, there were so many scents and so many sounds and he just couldn’t think. Then Sirius was collected and Peter tried to leave and then she was there.
She called to him, everything about her. He felt her magic radiating in her body, he felt her pain, he felt her sorrow, he felt her rage when she saw Peter trying to flee and he felt the satisfaction she felt when Peter’s mind slipped under her control.
When she had told them of Greyback and what had been done to her Remus had seen red. The idea of anyone touching her without her consent would drive him to commit murder if she asked, but Greyback. He knew what Greyback did to the willing females of his pack, and it was so much worse for the women who were fought back.
He sank to his knees in the flower bed, hands coming to grip his hair. He wanted to feel pain, the wolf wanted to feel pain. He needed to punish himself.
He was weak.
He couldn’t protect her.
He wasn’t there.
Sirius was approaching his slowly, Remus knew that Sirius had only seem him this irate after the incident in fifth year with Snape.
“Moony, what was that? The girl has been through so much, mate, for all of us… the least you could do is sit there and listen to it”
The wolf growled and Remus felt the sound reverberate in his chest.
Sirius stepped back when he heard the growl, confusion passed over his face before the realization did.
“Moony… is it… is she-?”
“Yes” His voice was like gravel in his throat, the wolf was so close.
“Mate… I’m… I… I don’t know what to say.”
Remus whirled around, eyes completely yellow as the wolf took over, and pinned Sirius to the fence.
“You say I’m a monster, you say I can’t have her, you say that she’s already been through enough at the hands of MY KIND!” Remus pushed away from Sirius’ chest, shaking her head as he forced the wolf back.
It was quiet for a moment.
“Greyback…” James’ voice was soft.
“What?” Remus growled at the name.
“Greyback is the monster, Moony, not you. When you left… she broke, man. Started sobbing about how you’ll never look at her the same again… She doesn’t think you’re a monster, mate. I don't know who you are to her in the future, but you're anything but a monster.”
Remus hung his head, one hand bracing again the fence. He felt his friend’s hand grip his shoulder tightly.
“Now, you want to tell us what that little scene was about?” James had settled his back against the fence, arms crossed over his chest.
Remus took a shaky breath, his eyes glistening with tears.
“She’s your mate, isn’t she?”
Lily Potter was always the more observant one.
Chapter 6: The Plan
Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays, all! I love getting reviews, so please keep 'em coming! One of the most recent ones requested longer chapters, and, as promised, this one is the longest yet!
From now on the updates will be weekly and the chapters will be 3000-5000 words long!
His mate was screaming and there was nothing he could do. She wouldn't wake. Why won't she wake, the wolf growled inside his mind. The wails full of terror and agony and heartbreak ripped through his very being, and there was nothing he could do for her. There was no spell, no antidote to fix a broken heart and his presence would not help her. She had been through so much and his instincts were screaming at him that he should have been there. He should have stopped it all.
James and Sirius sat with him, pouring glasses of fire whiskey and dropping their heads into their hands as her screams rose and fell in volume, her dreams overtaking her. Sometimes they heard her begging, sometimes it was a scream garbled by a sob that tore from her throat, but it was horrible to hear her scream and whimper the names of her loved ones as she relived their deaths over and over.
James had nearly broken the table when she started crying out for Harry.
It took two days and an enraged Lily for him to see sense. Their heads — Sirius’ and Remus’, that is, as James had a son and “couldn’t very well expect his wife to handle a baby and a sick woman” — were resting on their arms, which were extended towards the glasses once filled to the brim with fire whiskey. They had been snapped awake by the bottle smashing against the wall.
“How dare you” When Lily was like this it was usually best to leave the room, for all she was soft-spoken and sweet, her temper was a thing to behold. “How dare you sit here and drink yourselves to death while she screams and cries… How dare you sit here wallowing because you couldn’t save her.”
Remus had blinked up at her for a moment before the indignation rose in his chest like a fire. “How dare I? She’s my mate, Lily! The one thing I’m supposed to do is protect her and I —“
“SHE DOESN’T NEED YOU TO SAVE HER, REMUS!” Lily’s screech woke Harry, they could hear him crying in his bassinet. “SHE’S FOUGHT A WAR, FOR MERLIN’S SAKE! That girl…”
Lily paused, reigning herself in. It wouldn’t do for tears to well in her eyes now, not now.
“That girl has sacrificed everything, Remus. She’s fought since she was eleven. Eleven. She’s seen things, Remus. Its heartbreaking, but everything that has happened to her, everything she’s done, she’s done to survive it. She’s survived because she is strong and she doesn’t need your goddamn self-sacrificing bullshit!”
Lily had turned on her heel then, her hair a vicious whirlwind of fire in her wake, and strode out of the room. “Clean up that bottle and get a fucking shower before you come up.”
When Hermione Granger blinked into consciousness three days had passed. The room spun, but it was a room.
She bolted upright in the bed (a bed?), eyes unfocused and reaching for her wand.
“Woah, woah, woah. You need to take it easy, Hermione.”
The voice was soothing, she had heard it before. Where had she heard it before?
“Professor McGonagall! S-she said I failed everything!” The last word came out as a wail and a young Hermione Granger buried her face in her hands, her body wracking with sobs.
“Sh, Hermione.You’re a brilliant witch. It was only a bogart. Professor McGonagall couldn’t possibly fail her best student, could she?”
13-year-old Hermione ran along the corridor, frustration evident on her face as she muttered to herself. She was gripping her texts tightly as she wound the corner and collided with a solid chest, promptly falling onto her behind.
“Oh, Miss Granger! I’m terribly sorry, wasn’t watching where I was going” Professor Lupin smiled in a self-deprecating fashion as she helped her stand and magically collected her texts and parchments from where they had scattered along the floor.
She noticed him appraising her quickly as he handed the books to her. His tone was soft, careful when he asked after her health. She had unloaded her frustrations with Harry and Ron onto him, admittedly not her proudest moment.
Professor Lupin had only chuckled softly, shaking his head.
“His father was the same way, honestly. Mad about Quidditch.” His tone changed then as if he realized he had said something that he ought not to have, to one of the caring adult “Hermione, you did the right thing. They will come to realize it eventually. I speak from personal experience when I say that boys their age — even some men my age — are too proud by half. I have no doubt that you are the brains behind the many endeavors I have heard of… Ron and Harry will realize their stupidity eventually, you need only wait for it.”
Remus Lupin lay dead in the Great Hall, his hand reaching toward his wife. His eyes were vacant and staring at Hermione, she could feel it.
Why didn’t you save us? You’re supposed to be the brightest witch of your age. You’re a failure, Hermione Granger.
Hermione turned towards the voice. His face was less lined that she remembered, and he didn’t have the grey at his temples. Her hand unconsciously reached for him.
“Are you… are you real?” Her voice was small, she drew her hand back just before it made contact with his face. If this was a dream… if this was death… she didn’t want to know.
The possible-Remus smiled softly and reached up to grip her hand. “Yes, Hermione. I’m real.”
It was surreal. Hermione laughed joyfully, eyes dancing.
“Who else is here?! Oh, Remus, I had the most awful dream. Did we win? Were there any casualties? Where is Harry?” She peaked her head around his shoulder towards the door, eyes alight with hope.
Remus’ face fell. Hermione’s eyes caught it.
“He’s not? Not Harry… Please, Remus. Not Harry...”
The door opened at that moment and James burst in, he was smiling and looked as if he was about to say something hilarious when he was brought up short by the look in Hermione’s eyes.
“Harry…” the name left her lips in a breathy whisper and it wasn’t a moment later she was launching herself across the room at him. Her arms wrapped around his neck and she burried her face in the crook between his jaw and collarbone, just as she had every night for nearly a year.
But Harry's jaw was different and he smelled different. He was taller too, and his shoulders were much too muscled. Hermione stepped back, eyes squinting as she analyzed his face.
Harry’s eyes were green, not brown.
It all came back in a rush then. The battle, Harry’s body, the Weasley’s, the months on the run, Grimmauld Place, Bellatrix, the spell, falling out of the sky, everything.
A low moan left her before she could catch it, and her knees buckled. Remus, with reflexes only a werewolf could possess, reached out and gripped her waist. Her hands fell to his biceps and she clung on, squeezing her eyes shut in an attempt to will away the tears.
“I passed out?” She opened her eyes and stared at Remus' chin. It was a nice chin. He had a sharp square jawline that was decorated with tiny, iridescent scars. That jaw moved up and down just slightly, Remus nodding “For how long?”
Hermione’s heart felt as if it would explode. Surely this was the moment some higher power would finally dein to take her. Put her out of her misery. Just... make the pain stop.
She waited a moment, breathing deeply through her nose. Chocolate, books, and mint. Her eyes trailed up Remus' chest to his face. He was a handsome man in her time, to be sure, but here before his friends were taken from him... Remus was like the sun. His face was smooth and clear, the occasional scars marring its surface hardened the soft eyes that stared back at her. He had laugh lines in this timeline. And his hair was golden, which matched his complexion nicely. She felt something deep inside her click into place as she stood there in his arms. She felt safe here. For the first time in so, so long.
The door clicked shut and Hermione spun around. She glanced around the room before recognizing it from one night in Godric's Hollow.
"Godric's Hollow?" She turned back to look at him, one brow raising slightly.
"Yes, we came here after...' He trailed off, eyes growing sad "You... didn't react well and when you fell asleep we moved you to one of the spare rooms."
She folded her arms across her chest, seemingly curling in on herself. "Thank you... I appreciate it."
Remus offered her what he hoped was a reassuring smile before moving her hand from his knee.
He didn't expect her reaction. Hermione's stance fell into a practiced dueling form, her wand was in her hand in an instance and her eyes were wary, if not somewhat crazed. He stopped. "Hermione' he called to her, drawing her attention from his hand to his eyes 'Would you mind reaching into my pocket? I have something I hope might make you feel better?"
She slunk forward, wariness etched on her face and a battle-hardened grace pouring from her being. Swiftly she reached into his pocket and wrapped her hand around the rectangular object she found.
"Eat, you'll feel better"
Hermione shook herself and as if for the first time, realized what she had done. Her fingers released the wand, allowing it to drop to Remus' lap. Her other hand clutched the Honeydukes chocolate as she stumbled back two steps.
"I'm... I'm so sorry, Remus, I don't know what-"
He was there in an instant, holding her hand to his chest and directing her to breathe with him in a tone that brokered no argument.
"You don't need to apologize for anything, Hermione. Would you like to be left alone?" She nodded, a small movement, but the wolf noted everything about her. "Okay, I'll be just downstairs. Take your time, we'll be here when you're ready."
His wolf howled as he moved past the shaking figure of Hermione and gripped the door handle.
"Remus,' Her voice was small, and there were tears in her eyes as she looked at him with a gratefulness he hadn't seen before 'Thank you and... it's good to see you."
A ball of emotion and desire to protect, protect, protect rose in his throat, so all he could do was give her a small smile and a stiff nod as he hurried from the room. Damned wolf.
Fresh from the shower and fitted out in one of James’ sweaters and Lily’s jeans, Hermione paced the kitchen. Her thumb nail was chewed to the quick and she was honestly surprised she hadn’t tasted blood yet.
Her mind was so jumbled. The first rule of time travel was that you couldn’t change anything and she had botched that up quite spectacularly, though, her mind supplied, you really had no other option, now did you?
She couldn’t allow Voldemort to win, that much she knew. Everything had started with Lily and James, their downfall was the catalyst for the events that would follow, but would to due to dispose of a resource such as Peter? No. No, of course not. He supplies information, but perhaps he receives information in return?
Peter Pettigrew was, for the moment, indispensable. Dumbledore, on the other hand, would have to be dealt with and kept at a distance. He would be crucial for the time being but... she needed allies.
Footsteps drew her attention to the doorway and away from her internal monologue. Harry was cuddled in a red blanket, his onesie was green with yellow hippogriffs and his full head of dark hair was, as always, perpetually messy. Her heart stuttered in her chest as James stepped forward and carefully arranged his son in her arms. Her best friend was alive.
“D-do you mind if I have a moment alone with him, James? I-I understand if you’d prefer to stay… I just have so much I need to tell him…”
James’ eyes were soft, but there was no pity in his gaze and for that she was grateful.
“Of course, Hermione. As long as you’re up for it, this little tyke has some impressive lungs… Take as long as you need with him. We’ll be in the living room when you’re ready.” With that James backed out of the room, leaving her alone with an infant only days old.
Hermione’s fingers rose to Harry’s hair, stroking through the think strands there. It was a comforting gesture, something she had taken up during their months on the run, especially after Ron had left. They would alternate shifts, but it was often too cold to actually sit outside the tent. On these nights they would sit together, it was easier to wake one another up that way. This was the case a week after Ron left, Harry’s head had fallen into her lap as he slept peacefully and she had begun to absentmindedly run her fingers through his hair. At the time he had leaned into the touch, basking in the comfort it brought him.
Now it was different. The gesture was to comfort her. The strands, though significantly shorter than she had ever remembered them being, felt the same. This was her Harry.
“I’m so sorry, Harry. I’m not going to let it happen, I promise you. I’ll find them all. I’ll destroy them and I’ll end him before you ever have to. You’ll have your parents, Harry. You’ll have a family and you’ll be so, so loved, Harry. You’ve always been loved though, you know that don’t you? You knew that when you went into the forest that night… I have to believe you knew. You’re my brother, Harry, and you’ll never remember it.” Her voice was quiet as she spoke to the sleeping infant, rocking him gently in her arms. “I’ll remember it for the both of us. You made me… you made me who I am, Harry James Potter. I’ll never forget that, I’ll never forget everything you sacrificed; but you won’t need to sacrifice anymore, Harry. I love you, Harry.”
She had kissed the top of his head then, forcing the tears back as she gazed down at his sleeping form. He shifted, craning his neck once, twice, a third time (Hermione had this particular sleeping pattern memorized), before his tiny hand shot out and gripped her finger tightly. Harry James Potter appeared to be communicating with his best friend, Hermione liked to think he was telling her he loved her too.
The Marauders, Dumbledore, and Lily were seated in the exact same seats they had settled in less than a week ago when Hermione had literally dropped into their lives. Lily was gripping James’ hand tightly in her own, Sirius was stretched casually over the love seat, Remus was biting his thumb nail and bouncing his leg nervously, Dumbledore was the only one who seemed completely at home with the current situation.
“How can you be so calm?” Remus finally broke the silence, settling his gaze on the peculiar wizard with the canary yellow robes and baby blue pointed hat.
Dumbledore’s spectacles slid down his nose slightly as he tucked his chin and met Remus’ gaze.
“I have seen inside her mind, Remus. I know everything she knows, and she knows a significant amount. I have complete faith in Miss Granger’s abilities.”
“Thank you, Professor.” Her voice floated from the doorway that led to the kitchen. She looked a vision, Remus noticed, even dressed in his best friend’s sweater and drowning in Harry’s scent. “While it was not easy to allow you complete access, it needed to be done. Given my mental state at the time of arrival, I would have been completely unable to articulate the importance of Peter’s capture.”
She had moved through the room, depositing Harry in his mother’s arms before directing a soft kick to Sirius’ leg, gesturing with a tilt of her head for him to adjust himself so she could sit next to him. The man quickly complied and Remus had the nagging feeling that this was not the first time Hermione Granger had dealt with Sirius Black.
She folded her hands primly in her lap, her spine was ramrod straight and her face had a detached look that was a stark contrast from the emotionally raw woman they witnessed days before.
“Now… I recall discussing how I came to be here briefly before my… well lets call it my episode, shall we? I don’t believe I spoke of why I made the decision to come back, did I? That’s really the most important thing to understand, I think. I mean, of course there is everything that happened in my time to consider, but really I’m not sure how my presence here has affected—“
Her rant was cut off my Dumbledore raising his hand and sending a silent, bemused look her way.
“Miss Granger, when I am having trouble pinpointing the most important information I find that the beginning is always the best place to start…”
Hermione laughed softly, running her hand through her hair quickly, an act that only served to make it more wild. “Of course, Professor. My apologies. I suppose the beginning is the prophecy. On October 31st, 1981 Voldemort arrived in Godric’s Hollow and murdered James and Lily Potter.”
James and Lily both looked confused, as if they wanted to interrupt and ask how that was possible, but were silenced by a single look from Dumbledore.
“James…’ Hermione’s eyes turned to him ‘you died first. You didn’t have your wand, but you told Lily to take Harry and run. You died protecting them. Lily, you… you went to Harry’s nursery. You barricaded yourself in there and put Harry in his crib. Voldemort came for you next and offered you the chance to live if you stood aside and let him kill Harry, you refused. There was an ancient blood magic invoked then, I'm sure this wasn't by accident, and Harry was protected by your sacrifice. When Voldemort turned his wand on Harry, the killing curse backfired and he was temporarily destroyed. Harry was an orphan and was sent to live with the Dursley’s, where he remained for the next 11 years.”
At this point it was impossible for James to remain silent. “But Sirius is his godfather? If anything happens to us, he’s supposed to go to Sirius?”
Hermione was unfazed as she turned to Sirius.
“You thought Remus was the traitor and you knew you would be the obvious choice for secret keeper, so you convinced James to change the plan. You intended to have Lily and James make you the secret keeper, then switch it to Peter…”
Hermione faded out as Sirius stared at her, completely dumbstruck.
“I wanted to be bait…”
She nodded her head.
“It backfired, Sirius. Remus was never the traitor… it was Peter. Everyone thought you were the secret keeper, only you knew the truth, and when you arrived it was already too late. You went after Peter and he framed you. You spent the next 12 years in Azkaban and he lived as a pet.”
Sirius let out a shaky breath, his hands moving to grip his hair tightly.
“Tell us everything…” Lily’s voice was soft, so soft Remus barely heard her, but Hermione heard her clearly and told them everything.
The years of abuse Harry endured. How they became friends. Their adventures throughout their years at Hogwarts. Meeting Remus. Sirius’ escape. Sirius’ death. The first battle of Hogwarts. The horcruxes. The final battle.
When she told them how Severus died Lily sobbed into her hand. When she told them about Harry’s final goodbye, James let out a broken sound. By the time she had reached the end of her tale, Harry’s parents were clutching their son tightly and clinging to one another.
“How do we stop it?”
It was Remus who broke the silence. His eyes were determined, with a fire burning behind them, and his mouth was set in a firm line.
“I know you all want to kill Peter for this betrayal. But its not possible. We need him. He’s valuable, we can win. Voldemort has already started, by now he should have the diary, the ring, the cup, the diadem. I’m not sure about the locket. We need to destroy them, but we need to make Voldemort think nothing has changed.”
Hermione’s eyes glinted dangerously as she plotted Voldemort’s demise. Remus knew she was a true Gryffindor but also he knew that, if the situation were different, there was no doubt Hermione would have done well in Slytherin.
Sirius Black was reeling. There was so much information to process. His thoughts were preoccupied with what if and in another life, but it wasn’t in another life, it was this life; rather, it would have been this life if Hermione had not arrived in 1980.
His eyes trailed to the young witch, whose body was angled towards Dumbledore as her hands moved erratically through the air. She was saying something, something important, but he couldn’t find the will to focus on anything but his gratitude. In that moment he knew he would do anything for Hermione Granger.
James was doing little better than he friend. His eyes were glazed as he thought on everything he owed this woman. His life, his wife’s life, their son. Everything she had done for their son, all the years she had been a sister to their boy, every birthday and Christmas that he spent with her, James owed her for all of it.
Staring across the room at her, moving her hands in such an animated fashions as she spoke of horcruxes (what?) and Basilisks and the sword of Gryffindor, James came to the conclusion that he would die for this girl. He would die for her without a second thought.
The pull of his mate was strong, so much stronger than Remus ever expected it to be. Werewolves rarely met their mate, it was more a folktale among packs than a proven occurrence. The wolf mothers (female werewolves who took care of the youth) would tell the young children — the ones who, like him, had been turned in their early years, but were not fortunate enough to have Hope Lupin in their corner fighting for them to remain with their families — of wolves who found their partner, their equal, their mate; these wolves lived long, happy lives and their transformations, even if they hadn’t accepted the curse as a gift, were easier, less painful.
During his time with the packs, Remus had scoffed at the tales. No partner would make this pain easier, and he would never wish for a mate. He was a werewolf, a half-breed, he was looked upon as scum in the wizarding world, how could he subject a woman to that kind of life?
But now, now that he had met his mate, everything was different. His very being called for her, his instincts were fine tuned to her presence. He knew the beat of her pulse and how it changed with her emotions. He knew her scent, cinnamon and evergreen trees, and he didn’t think it would ever stop causing his heart to race. He was intimately aware of how her scent mingled with fear and sorrow, for this was the scent that had been pouring off her for days; now though, now that fear had all but disappeared as her hands moved wildly, hair nearly crackling with magic. Her eyes were alight as she shared her knowledge with Dumbledore and Remus, unlike his fellow Marauders, listened to every word that poured from her mouth with a reverent awe.
He would gladly die for this woman, for his other half. She had lived a life of such pain, losing too many at such a young age. He resolved himself to his fate. If Hermione Granger were to die, so too would he.
Albus Dumbledore had been called the greatest wizard to ever live since his legendary duel with Grindelwald. Next to the death of his sister, watching the man he loved being dragged away in chains was the most painful moment of his life. Staring at the girl sitting across from him he knew that in less than a year she would be a household name, there would be no child in their world that didn’t know her name.
The diary. The ring. The cup. The diadem. The locket.
There were two more, she said, in her time. But they had yet to be made, and she intended for them to never be created.
She told him of the Chamber of Secrets, the monster that lay within, and the sword of Gryffindor. She outlined her entire plan and he marvelled at the speed at which her mind worked. He rivalled her knowledge, and he hated himself for it.
This is what led to you Gellert, he reprimanded himself, this thirst for power. The girl has suffered for her knowledge, for her power, just as you have. Do not lust after what she has acquired through pain and sacrifice.
But he did. Oh, how he wanted the knowledge this girl possessed, no matter how she acquired it. That kind of knowledge was dangerous, though, especially in his hands. Knowledge was power, and power did not sit well with Albus Dumbledore.
She laid out the entire plan as she envisioned it, and Albus couldn’t help but see the brilliance in each step she explained. Peter Pettigrew was to be kept imprisoned in an Order safe house, under a permanent stasis charm and locked in Alastor Moody’s expanded chest — it had served as a formidable prison that had kept Alastor locked inside for a full school year, she saw no reason why it wouldn’t serve as a holding cell for Peter in the interim.
Severus Snape would brew polyjuice potion, which she would take to assume the form of Peter Pettigrew. She would gain access to Voldemort’s inner ranks through Peter’s traitorous role, effectively turning the tables on Tom Riddle.
Sirius Black would be made the Potter’s secret keeper and be placed into hiding with them, along with Remus and herself. Hermione would be virtually non-existent in this world, and ensuring her access to the Potters was vital for her plan to succeed.
She would collect the horcruxes and destroy them then, when the time was right, she would lure Voldemort out and she would destroy him.
The all agreed to the plan, though James and Sirius had no idea what they were agreeing to. The necessary wards were already in place, effectively making the cottage as impenetrable and unplottable as Grimmauld Place, so all that was required was the fidelius charm. As Dumbledore set to work entrusting Sirius with the location of the cottage, Hermione moved to Remus’ side.
“I owe you my life, you know’ She smiled up at him softly (Remus would later swear that his heart had not, in fact, jumped to his throat upon hearing her speaking directly to him) ‘You taught Harry pretty well everything he knew, he was brilliant in DADA, and in our fifth year we started a… club, of sorts… He taught us all so much that year, things that would save all our lives.”
Remus looked down at his hands, smiling softly at the thought of being there for Harry when so few of them were able to.
“Was he… did he understand?” His question hung in the air between them, sour and unpleasant.
“Did he understand why you couldn’t take him?” Hermione’s eyes were soft, but devoid of the pity that often clouded people’s eyes when they spoke to him. “Remus, he loved you immediately, even before he knew your relationship with his parents. When he found out… when he found out you are a werewolf he didn’t waver in the slightest. The summer before our fifth year we were all staying at headquarters together and you took him to the library, you and Sirius, and you told him everything. He… Remus he never faulted you for his situation.”
Remus nodded, meeting her eyes and giving her a look of thanks. Her hand gripped his upper arm briefly, squeezing slightly, before she brushed past him.
His breath was stolen by her.
Lily Potter, unlike her male counterparts, was not resigning herself to dying for the woman who sat before her. Her mind was focused on ensuring the girl lived. She desperately wanted Hermione to survive this fight, to watch Harry grow, to fall in love with the man who was cosmically designed for her.
But Lily Potter was also gifted with intellect to rival Remus’ (the top of their NEWT class, to her chagrin), she was able to follow Hermione’s fast speech and quick gestures to see the underlying assumption. Hermione Granger intended to change the timeline completely and, if she was successful, Lily knew that the timeline where Hermione Granger had been kidnapped, tortured, and raped would no longer exist. Hermione Granger as they knew her would no longer exist.
So as the Marauders were resigning themselves to dying for this girl, Lily was internally promising her son’s best friend that she would not allow them to sacrifice themselves for a dead girl. Hours later, when they were settled in their new cottage, Lily wrapped Hermione in a hug and told her she would keep them safe for her.
Hermione’s embrace was tight as she buried her head into Lily’s shoulder. Lily felt her breathe in deeply, but said nothing.
Hermione didn’t tell Lily that she smelt of cloves, one of the scents she had come to associate with Harry.
Chapter 7: The Infiltration
So I caught a mistake in an earlier chapter with Hermione's age! In this pic she's currently 19. She was 18 during the Battle of Hogwarts, was on the run for 6 months, then held captive for 6 months. She'll be turning 20 in the next couple of chapters, so I wanted to clarify that!
It was a stormy night one week later that brought Dumbledore to their doorstep once more. James opened the door and, when Hermione held her wand to Dumbledore’s throat, it was Remus who asked him what he always wanted for Christmas.
“I’ve always delighted in a good pair of knitted socks; alas, I never receive them.”
Hermione dropped her wand arm swiftly, a grin passing over her face.
“Sorry, Professor, but I had to be sure.” Her smile was bright, eyes focused, Dumbledore marvelled at the affect a few days rest had on the girl. His eyes, as always, twinkled brightly when he nodded towards his future student.
“Oh course, Miss Granger. I would be remiss in finding fault in your actions.” Hermione nodded before swiftly turning her back on her future Headmaster and settling herself between Remus and Sirius on the couch, she had discarded her book (Hogwarts: A History) on Remus’ lap when Dumbledore’s knock rang through the house.
No one seemed to notice, but Remus was in a daze. Hermione was sitting so close, her scent everywhere. She had briefly let her head rest on his shoulder as she read and he marvelled at the domestic interaction. He had yet to speak with her about their relationship in the future in any significant detail and often found himself wondering if her comfort with him was because of her past relations with him, or if she was just as affected by the bond between them. There was a voice, albeit a quiet one, that whispered it might be both. Maybe they had some sort of relationship in the future, maybe she already knew what she was to him?
But those thoughts were doused by a bucket of cold water when she would get that far away look in her eyes, usually when he played with Harry; it was as if watching him around children physically hurt her. It was in those moments that a sliver of self-doubt peaked through the otherwise bright psyche she had caused: what if she really thought him a monster?
Lily stepped out of the kitchen, Harry wrapped in a sling and strapped tightly to her chest. Though he was only a week or so old, he seemed to be growing at a rapid pace. Hermione was astounded, to be frank, at just how much Harry could eat. She had told Lily in confidence that, though he could certainly pack away the Trecle Tart, her Harry wasn’t one to indulge himself with mass amounts of food.
“Especially if he just came from his Aunt and Uncle’s… He found it difficult to eat large portions after those months.”
Lily had heard the resentment in Hermione’s words and instantly felt her own resentment toward Petunia amplify. They had not truly spoken in quite some time. Tuney had married in Lily’s last year of Hogwarts and refused to have Lily in her bridal party, it was only through their mother’s intervention that Lily was invited to the wedding at all. Their parents died shortly after graduation and Lily, in an attempt to cling to the only family she had left, had invited Tuney and her great oaf of a husband on a double date. She had planned on asking Tuney to be a bridesmaid in her upcoming wedding, but the quickly failing interactions between James and Vernon had put that thought to a quick halt. The whole thing had been a disaster and the sisters had not spoken since. Lily had sent a birth announcement, but was not expecting to receive a reply.
After learning what little she had from Hermione Lily was seething with rage whenever her sister was brought up in conversation. Magic crackled through her body and the first time James had tried to speak with her about it she had accidentally set the drapes in their bedroom aflame. James didn’t speak of it to her after that.
“Hello Albus! Will you be joining us for supper? James was just finishing the steaks, he can throw another on?” James grumbled good-naturedly at Lily’s volunteering him, but smiled at Albus, indicating that he wouldn’t have a problem doing so.
“Oh, no. Thank you, my dear. I had just come to speak with Miss Granger about something quite important, then I shall be off again.”
“Of course! The dining room is empty, will that suffice?” Lily smiled softly, looking between the two for any indication that the room would be unsuitable for their purposes.
Hermione slipped a ribbon between the pages of Hogwarts: A History and stood, tossing the volume behind her to rest in the space she had just occupied, and moved toward the room with Dumbledore following closely behind.
She silenced the room quickly and turned to the older man.
“You’ve brought him, then?” Her tone was no nonsense, but Dumbledore could see the anxiety crinkling around the corners of her eyes.
“Yes, he’s been called, so this must be quick. Are you sure you’re able to do this, my child?”
Brown met blue, Dumbledore noted the steely glint in her eye that told him she was ready for anything.
“I’m positive, sir. Sirius… he’s been a wealth of information. Says I’m the best actress he’s ever seen and, though I doubt that’s at all true, he’s the best critic I have.”
Dumbledore nodded gravely before withdrawing a flask, a vial, and a crate the size of a thimble from his robes. He dropped the crate on the ground, none too gently, and waved his wand in an intricate pattern. Slowly, then faster and faster, the crate grew to the size of a school trunk and, when Dumbledore unlatched the top and peered inside, Peter Pettigrew’s still form could be seen all the way at the bottom.
“How long with this last me?” Hermione gripped the flask as Dumbledore summoned the hairs from Peter’s head and floated them into the small metal container. The vial was also handed over to her, allowing her to begin the complicated pattern of spells to ensure the glowing fragments of Peter’s memory remained separate from her own.
“The effects will last for 2 hours. According to Severus, this should be more than enough time. You will return to the Hog’s Head after the meeting. I shall meet you there.” Dumbledore’s voice was grave as he watched her movements over the top of his spectacles. She was efficient, he would give her that. Her wand movements were effortless and her face betrayed none of the concentration he knew she was employing.
Hermione nodded, distracted as she placed the memories inside her own mind. It was an odd feeling, to have someone else’s memories floating inside her brain, but a necessary one. Voldemort was a power legilimens, and Pettigrew was not competent with occulemcy, if Voldemort looked into her mind he needed to see Peter’s memories. She took a deep breath and threw back the contents of the flask, grimacing as the taste of (what she imagined was) rotting flesh and onions slid down her throat. She gagged loudly, but forced herself to finish the entire bottle.
The transformation was happening fast, as it had when she had taken Harry’s form that night in July. She shrunk slightly, her middle expanded rapidly, and she could feel the bones morphing under her skin. She felt her hair receding back into her skull and she felt her face become far more pudgy than it had ever been. It was a painful process, to be sure, but she wasn’t sure if it was made more painful by the fact that she was becoming Peter Pettigrew.
The door swung open and her eyes snapped open to find Remus standing in the doorway, wand drawn and pointing at her heart. His face was a mask of rage and her mind’s eye was instantly thrown back to that night in the Shrieking Shack.
“Just one moment, Sirius, Harry has the right to know why…”
Remus wasn’t the rational one this time, though, he was entirely possessed by the wolf. But why? She tilted her head in confusion, eyes that were no longer her own scanned the man she did not truly know anymore. He had never behaved this way in the future.
But that was a lie, there was one time, just once. It was just before the final battle when the Order was facing off against Snape. Remus had moved towards her. It was discrete, and she hadn’t noticed it at the time, but now… now she recognized the look in his eyes and the straightness of his back. What made him so possessive? So protective?
It was then that she felt a searing pain in her forearm and looked down to where the dark mark lay on Peter’s skin. After Peter was placed under a permanent stasis charm Dumbledore himself had preformed a series of counter curses and charms on his frozen form, only to discover that there had been a powerful glamour charm placed on his forearm to hide the dark mark. He was devastated that he hadn’t thought it is, completely devastated that his negligence almost caused the downfall of two… no, four, according to Hermione Granger… of the brightest students to ever walk the halls of Hogwarts.
Voldemort was calling. Remus was shouting. Sirius was pushing the werewolf from the room. Hermione threw up walls in her mind, blocking her own memories from Peter’s. Hermione was no longer herself, she allowed herself to slip into the carefully constructed persona she had developed over the past week; she became Peter Pettigrew.
Dumbledore watched in utter amazement as the physical changes overtook his future pupil. Yes, she looked like Peter Pettigrew, but in the split second between Remus’ enraged shouts for Sirius to let me go, damnit! I’ll kill the bastard! and James joining the fray to pull his nearly deranged friend away by the elbows Dumbledore had witnessed her fall gracefully into Pettigrew’s very essence. Her proud posture, the posture of a warrior, shrunk to replicate the meekly sloped spine that was characteristic of the young man. Her hands, once clenched by her sides, were quivering in front of Peter’s protruding belly. Her face, that was where the real change occurred. The determined look in her eyes faded, and they became the watery, ever-shifting gaze of Peter Pettigrew in an instant.
Dumbledore, to say the least, was in awe.
Remus’ shouts continued. He was gripping the doorframe with all his might, trying to pull himself past Sirius. His face was blood red and none present in the house that night could recall any instance, save for the morning after he nearly killed Severus Snape, that Remus was so completely out of control. Peter watched, and in the recesses of her mind Hermione fought to stay, explain herself, but the burning grew stronger with every passing second. Peter’s gaze shifted to look helplessly at Dumbledore before he apparated away with a resounding crack!.
Remus fought against the hold on his arms, just as he pushed back against the force against his chest that sought to propel him backwards and away from the scent of the traitor. Voices were shouting at him, familiar ones shouting familiar sounds; he couldn’t make himself understand, not when she was there, right there, and then she just wasn’t. His mind worked, his arms flexed, and his mouth pulled up into a vicious snarl.
He was smacked across the face.
Remus felt himself regain control, he understood the words now (Moony, mate! No! Remus! Stop, Remus!), understood the panic in their voices and in the air. He stopped struggling against the hands that pulled his arms and the force against his chest — James and Sirius, respectfully. He looked down at the tiny ginger witch, who had deposited Harry in his bassinet before storming up to the raging werewolf and slapping him hard across the face.
“Shut it.’ Lily’s voice was a growl and Remus felt his spine straighten and a snarl rip across his features. Moony was too close, too near the surface for Lily to be challenging him. The tiny witch only stepped forward, her eyes were fire and her face was stern. Hands on her hips, Remus saw the Head Girl that had struck fear into the Marauder’s hearts when she happened upon one of the schemes. They were nose to nose, though it was really nose to chest — Remus being so much taller —, but Lily didn’t waver in her stance. ‘Sit down.”
She had pointed one finger to the couch, and Remus was instantly cowed. He moved from his friends’ embraces and sat on the couch, eyes downcast and hands fidgeting in his lap. Dumbledore stepped from the room, eyes as bright and merry as always.
“Now, Lily, you mentioned steak?” The group turned to him, shock written across their faces.
“Albus…” James’ voice was soft, placating almost. Trying to butter the old man up enough to get a confession out of him; what the hell just happened? was the silent plea in his voice. Lily was not of the mind for placating.
“You will tell us what in Merlin’s beard is going on, Albus. I will not be left in the dark.” If the woman was a werewolf, Remus had no doubt she would be the alpha, regardless of her sex.
Dumbledore sighed softly, looking at each face before resting his eyes on Remus. Though the boy was clearly unaware, Remus looked equal parts distraught and disgusted.
“My boy,’ Dumbledore began softly, moving forward to sit across from the young werewolf ‘I apologies for what you have been put through tonight, but you must no that Peter Pettigrew is in custody, there is virtually no possibility for his escape… even with his, shall we say, rat-like tendencies?”
Dumbledore’s eyes shifted from Remus to James and then to Sirius briefly before falling back on the disheveled werewolf, who was staring fiercely ahead very nearly growling at the old man. “Then who was it, Albus? I smelt him, he was in there with Hermione and now they’re both gone!’ Lily gasped softly, looking to James before moving towards her son ‘Where are they, Albus?”
Albus sighed, waving his wand to conjure some tea. “If you would all gather round, please. This may be difficult to explain.”
Hermione’s — no, Peter’s — feet met rough dirt flooring and his knees instantly buckled. Whimpering slightly, he looked up from his place in the dirt. Death Eaters surrounded him, their masks made sparkling ghoulish faces amidst a sea of black. Peter cowered away from a boot aimed at his face.
They all laughed and, in the recesses of her mind where she watched from afar, Hermione felt sorry for the boy who seemed to have had potential at one point (so his memories told her) but had fallen so far short of his potential.
Bellatrix strode towards the blubbering heap that was Peter Pettigrew. Her chin was jutted forward, as it always seemed to be, and her eyes shone with absolute madness.
“Ickle Petey… I certainly hope you’ve brought good news… we would hate for you to have to learn another lesson, wouldn’t we?” The smile that twisted across her undeniably beautiful face was grotesque, already her teeth were rotten, and Hermione felt herself shying away — and not because it was what Peter would have done in this particular situation.
Bellatrix LeStrange… she knew this was a strong possibility. She had watched the memory of Peter’s home, she knew who had recruited him for Voldemort’s purposes. Yet… to see her here.
Hermione felt her heart — Peter’s heart — speed up. She felt her eyes — Peter’s eyes — shift fearfully around the room, searching for an exit, a way out.
Get ahold of yourself, ‘Mione. It was Harry’s voice that spoke inside her head… she was well and truly losing her mind.
She hadn’t realized. Bellatrix asked a question.
What did she ask?!
Panic clenched her heart, and she questioned why she thought herself capable of this level of deception against the woman who carved mudblood into her skin, who had ordered her rapes.
The curse hit her like a truck and she felt her chest tighten painfully, but it was not unfamiliar. This she recognized, this she could work with.
Peter screamed, he begged, he cried out pitifully. It felt as if it went on for hours before the curse was lifted and a cold voice rang throughout the chamber.
“Bellatrix, Pettigrew is my… guest. We mustn’t treat such important persons so harshly, my child.”
To the side of Peter’s heaving body Bellatrix fell to her knees, crawling forward to kiss the feet of Voldemort himself. She begged his forgiveness, which he obliged with an oddly tender touch to her cheek.
Voldemort’s feet were walking closer now now and Peter crawled forward, meeting the dark wizard halfway, to kiss them. (Hermione turned her mind’s eye away, chanting that it was Peter kissing Voldemort’s feet, it was not her.)
“Wormtail…’ His voice was silky smooth, nothing at all like the breathy, half dead voice Hermione remembered from the battle. Peter’s gaze turned up, but never met the Dark Lord’s eye. Tom Voldemort was surprisingly handsome. He was tall with a long straight nose, flawless alabaster skin, and dark hair that was artfully pushed back from his face and parted to the side. Hermione understood how he had lured Horace Slughorn into discussing horcruxes now. ‘Have you brought me good news, my child?”
Peter’s eyes went to the ground, his hands were rising in a beseeching movement, shaking all the while.
“M-my lord…” His voice wavered perfectly and Hermione congratulated herself on her performance, though she would never admit that it wasn’t a performance, she was well and truly terrified. If she faltered Voldemort could easily discover her, she would be right back where she started…
“Wormy, Wormy, Butter turdy!’ Bellatrix was taunting in a sing song voice from her place behind Voldemort ‘No information? Pity.”
Voldemort’s head turned a fraction of an inch and Bellatrix was writhing on the ground, screaming. Peter watched in horrified fascination, Hermione watched in glee, all the other Death Eaters averted their eyes. Voldemort tutted softly, pushed his finger through Peter’s hair, and promptly turned to walk to Bellatrix’s heaving form.
He bent down at the knees, coming to a crouching position beside the woman’s head. From the angle Hermione couldn’t be sure, but she thought she saw him whispering tenderly to the woman, who eagerly sat up and clutched at his offered hand, stammering her apologies all the while. For a moment, just a moment, Hermione felt a pluck of sorrow for the half-mad woman.
“Now,’ Voldemort said as he concluded his business with Bellatrix and turned to face Peter once more ‘you were saying, my child?”
“M-my l-l-lord… Dumbledore… H-he’s planning to move the Longbottoms in two weeks, more information… I-I’ll be provided m-more i-information next week.’ Voldemort was nodding. His arms were folded, his wand arm, the right one, was supporting his left. His left hand held his chin between his forefinger and thumb while his right silently stroked his wand, as one might stroke a lover’s flesh. ‘A-and the M-Mc-McKinnons, he’s moving them next month.”
“And the Potters?”
Peter’s eyes widened comically, they shifted side to side as his hands fiddled with one another. “T-the Potters, m-my lord?”
Voldemort’s chuckle was cold. “Yes, my boy. The Potters, what of them? They were to be moved last week, were they not? Were you named secret keeper, boy?”
Peter looked up at the dark wizard fearfully, shaking his head in the negative. Hermione was prepared for the pain, she was, but she wasn’t prepared for the bellow of rage and the rock that flew across the circle to crunch against her nose. The curse hit her second, causing Peter’s body to contort painfully for minutes on end. Hermione found herself counting the seconds from her safe position behind the barrier, as she had done when her own mind was the one experiencing all the pain.
When it was finally over Peter heard the crunch that indicated someone was walking towards him and his breaths came out in short, panting sobs when Voldemort leaned over him.
“Wormtail… I am not a patient Lord. You will be the secret keeper, won’t you, Peter?”
Peter was sobbing in earnest now, his whole body was shaking and tears were mingling with blood and snot. Voldemort looked disgusted. With a crack! the dark wizard was gone, and so followed his supporters until it was only Peter left.
He stood, still shaking, and wiped the blood from his eyes before he too turned and apparated away.
When Peter Pettigrew apparated into the back room of the Hogg’s Head covered in blood, Aberforth knew better than to ask questions. Albus was good at getting people killed, he didn’t much bother trying to stop him. He simply opened the passageway between Hogwarts and the pub and sent the lad on his way, shaking his head and mumbling about fools and their errands.
Albus Dumbledore controlled his expression as Peter Pettigrew stepped into his office covered in blood and looking as if he had been tortured for information. He kept his tongue as the portly young man became the brilliant but sad Hermione Granger. He silently offered the jar of candy and, after she shook her head silently, set them back on the desk before folding his hands in anticipation.
When Hermione Granger finally opened her mouth, Dumbledore listened intently to her report and marvelled at how similar Tom and Gellert really were.
When Hermione stumbled through the door she was clean and her broken nose had been fixed, but she still reeked of fear. Remus felt his heart constrict painfully and his feet moved faster than his conscious mind could stop. He collected her in his arms and held her tightly, as tightly as she clung to him. His knees gave way and they sunk to the floor in a heap just as James and Sirius reached them.
He didn’t see the look Sirius and Hermione exchanged, nor did he feel his mate give a short nod. James, however, saw everything. He saw how his best mate clung to this girl and saw how she gripped him, as if she needed to remind herself that he was real. He saw the concern in his other best mate’s face, but he also saw the guilt lingering behind his eyes.
As Lily moved and wrapped her hands around his bicep James thought to the last time he had seen that look in Sirius’ eyes and concluded that, whatever they were up to, it would not bode well for any involved.
Chapter 8: The Explosion
I know I'm late updating! I'm so sorry! This week was application week for on campus interviews, so I was dealing with that on top of school. But its over now and I'm hoping to have another chapter up on Thursday then its back to our regularly scheduled programming of every Sunday!
Thank you all for your feedback, it means a lot! P.S. I love reviews, so keep 'em coming! :) <3
“Everything must remain the exact same, Miss Granger. I trust you know that?” Dumbledore’s words, spoken in such a soft tone, rang in her head.
“I…’ She thought of fighting it, telling the old wizard that none need die, certainly not with the knowledge she possessed, but then she thought of her Harry. ‘I know, sir.” Her hands were clasped in her lap, head hung low, shoulders slouched under the weight of her decision.
“Miss Granger, I know it will be difficult. But each and every one of these people would happily give their lives to defeat Voldemort and, as I understand it, in your time they already have.’ Hermione nodded silently, eyes still fixed firmly on her lap. ‘Miss Granger, your presence… it has changed an indeterminable number of things, but, for the moment, one thing is certain: Tom does not know of your existence. It is vital that everything remain exactly as it happened in your time, it is the only way to ensure that events unfold exactly as you have described. We must destroy the horcruxes; Tom has done unspeakable things to split his soul as many time as he has… unspeakable… a soul such as his… it is so tainted, Miss Granger, that it destroys everything it touches. These deaths, they are a necessary aspect of war.”
“You would have me do this either way, wouldn’t you?” Her eyes lifted from her lap for a moment, catching the flicker of pain that danced across Dumbledore’s face as she spoke.
“Miss Granger, I see no other way. We cannot allow him to lead children to the slaughter, children who do not deserve to have their souls tainted by what he shall require of them.”
She took a deep, shuddering breath before her eyes turned up and met Dumbledore’s with a fierce glare.
“And what of my soul, Albus?” Her words rang loud and clear in the otherwise silent room, but as she spoke them she knew they were the wrong thing to say. Fawkes gave a mournful cry and burst into flames just to the right of where Hermione sat. Hermione’s eyes didn’t leave Dumbledore’s as the burst of heat hit her face. She continued to watch him, fixated on his eyes, as he stood and made his way to Fawkes’ stand, peering cautiously into the ashes as a tiny Fawkes poked its head through.
Dumbledore sighed softly, lowering his head for a moment before turning to look at her. Hermione had never seen the Headmaster so… mournful.
“Miss Granger, please do not think me fool enough to believe your soul to be untainted.”
Run. Faster, Hermione. Go.
Run. Faster, Hermione! Move!
Molly. Arthur. Remus. Tonks.
Hermione jolted awake. Her flesh was clammy and her hair was plastered to her face with blood and sweat. Bellatrix cackled, Hermione could hear her making her way down the stairs to the dungeon. One set of footsteps.
Hermione took a breath.
Now, Hermione! Now!
Go, Granger! What are you waiting for?!
Closer now. Just wait. Out.
Her eyes flashed as the door to her cage was pushed open. Hermione jumped.
If there is one thing to be said about constant torture is that you have nothing to lose. There is no escalation that Bellatrix could resort to that Hermione wouldn’t welcome with open arms. At least this way she would die fighting, like everyone she loved.
She gripped Bellatrix’s wand arm from behind, slamming the woman’s arm on the corner of the dungeon wall. The wand fell to the ground with a clatter and Hermione scrambled for it. Her knees were bloody, and her hands were scraping against the cold rock as she clawed her way over the Death Eater to grip the smooth black wood between her fingers. She cast a silent silenco over Bellatrix, who was gritting her teeth clutching her broken and bleeding arm.
The bone was protruding through the soft skin of her forearm, the jagged edge stabbing through the skull of her Dark Mark. The amount of blood was nauseating, Hermione resisted the urge to vomit up the non-existent contents of her stomach. Bellatrix was getting paler by the second and Hermione wanted her to suffer.
She had never felt such uninhibited hatred towards anyone. This feeling, to be the one holding the wand over her enemy, it was liberating. A voice in her head told her to turn away, to bind Bellatrix and cast the spell, it was Harry’s voice.
She closed her eyes and shook Harry’s voice from her mind, focusing on her hatred, focusing on the gleeful cry of Bellatrix when she killed Sirius, when she strung Ginny up, when she lit the flames under the Weasleys.
You have to mean it.
Hermione meant it.
She meant it.
She wanted to see Bellatrix suffer, more than she had ever wanted anything.
Bellatrix was still silently gagged, still glaring up at Hermione with defiant, hateful eyes.
“I’m going to kill you, Bellatrix LeStrange. I’m going to watch you die and I want you to die knowing that you were bested by a mudblood.”
Bellatrix screamed in rage, but there was no sound. Hermione smirked in satisfaction.
Severing charm after severing charm was cast, Bellatrix writhed on the floor in pain. She never begged, but it was as close as Hermione could imagine the woman had ever come to doing so. The glee was undeniable, watching the life drain from Bellatrix’s mangled body made Hermione happier than she could remember being since Harry walked into the Forbidden Forest.
Harry wouldn’t want this. He wouldn’t want her to do this.
I don’t want you to do this, Mione.
No. She shook her head wildly, her matted curls stinging her eyes. Not you. Not now. I can’t listen to you now.
Mione, you’re better than this.
Ron. Her free hand was in her hair, gripping the blood-soaked strains tightly. No.
Hermione, dear, you don’t need to do this. You can still walk away, please dear girl.
Molly. Arthur. A sob tore from her throat. I WANT to do this!
Her wand was levelled at Bellatrix, who was barely conscious. The voices were louder now, screaming at her. She screamed back. The flash of green was blinding and then Bellatrix’s lifeless eyes were staring up at her and Hermione’s mind was silent.
Sirius Black was eccentric, loud, annoying — though he didn’t see how, it was Lily and Mary that had always told him these were his faults — but he was nothing if not an observant man. Hermione had seen something tonight, done something perhaps? Whatever it was it had terrified her. He felt his heart clench and pity for the poor girl flooded his entire being. He had spent virtually every waking hour helping her perfect Peter’s mannerisms and, despite his most persuasive puppy-dog-eyes, Hermione had adamantly refused his repeated requests to fill in the rest of the house on her activities; “It puts them in danger, Sirius, they can’t know”, well, he thought as his eyes scanned the panic stricken faces of Lily and James before moving to the terrified form of Remus, they knew something now.
He watched Hermione’s face twist, the effort it was taking her to maintain in control was plain to Sirius. It was the same look he had mastered hiding from his friends early in their school years. The questions about his family, the mysterious bruises, why Sirius wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone during the summers, they led him to quickly learn to hide his truth. Sirius didn’t like pity.
But he didn’t pity Hermione. She was war-hardened and aloof at the best of times, the past week she had barely spoken to Remus and James, choosing to occupy her time with Lily — because of the “stimulating conversation”, according to Hermione (Sirius had an inclination that it had to — and Sirius — because she had no choice. He had asked her on the third day of her Peter-cation (what he had taken to calling their daily lessons in Peter’s mannerisms) what her problem was with the two men who, from Sirius’ vantage point, had done nothing to warrant her less-than-warm reception when they entered a room. Her face had taken this stoney expression, but it was her eyes that had given him pause. Dark brown orbs peered just over his shoulder with reaffirmed determination, yet She had seemed to age 20 years in 10 second.
Sirius didn’t ask again.
“Hermione’ his voice surprised him. She looked at him, eyes blazing in defiance. She knew what he was about to do, she was trying to tell him not to, perhaps she was trying to beg him, but Sirius did it anyway. ‘They deserve to know.”
The shift in the room was instantaneous. Remus looked up from where his face was buried in Hermione’s hair, face contorted with confusion. James leaned against the doorframe with his arms crossed over his chest and a distinctly disapproving look on his face. Lily was the biggest surprise, to Sirius anyway, as she immediately launched herself between him and Hermione, digging her finger into his chest and spouting off about “scruffy dogs sticking their big noses in where they don’t belong”.
Amidst the commotion Lily was causing no one but Remus noticed Hermione shifting. He let her go immediately, his face flushed and his mouth trying to form some semblance of an explanation for his behaviour.
It didn’t seem that Hermione cared though. She untangled their limbs with an unparalleled efficiency before rising to her feet gracefully. She stood for a moment, waiting for someone to acknowledge her presence, but James had been pulled into the argument as well.
“OI!” Remus finally yelled from his place on the floor, casting a pointed look at each of his friends before turning his attention to the nervous woman to his left who was shifting her weight from foot to foot.
“I’ll tell you… I’ll tell you everything that I can.”
Sirius grinned, the sharp, toothy smile of a man who had everything he wanted in life. James nodded his head, seemingly resigned to whatever horrors he would hear. Lily’s eyes stared into the dark brown orbs of Hermione Granger, silently scanning for the pain she was certain would be there. There was no pain, though, just a fierce determination.
From his position on the floor Remus gazed up at his unknowing mate. Her shoulders were pushed back, her face was set into the stoney expression it too often took on when he entered the room, and her mouth was set in a grim line. To everyone else Remus was sure she looked ready to march into battle. To Remus, though, to the man who was instinctually tuned to her every feeling, he knew she was terrified.
Terrified of what, that was the question.
The Marauders settled onto the couch, Lily folded herself into the arm chair, Hermione remained standing. She felt braver this way, she felt in a position of power. She knew she had no power, not really. She was resigned to her fate, it was these people who sat in front of her that she worried about.
Lily, she was so much like Harry, yet so different. His eyes stared back at Hermione whenever she spoke with Lily, maybe that was why Hermione had started to seek the young mother out. But no, that wasn’t right. Lily was brilliant, in a way that Harry had been, yet in a way he hadn’t been able to grasp as well. When faced with injustice it was clear that Lily possessed the same infectious righteousness that Harry had, she was a strategic marvel and Hermione found herself blown away at the number of times Lily had not only pointed out the flaws of Hermione’s horcrux plans, but had been able to supply alternative means to accomplish her task. It was interactions such as these that found Hermione greedily soaking up any time Lily could make for her, the bold tenacity of the redhead allowed Hermione to bask in her memories for a precious few hours.
Hermione’s eyes fell on James and the pain swept through her, taking her breath with it as it always did. They were different, to be sure. Harry’s lips were fuller and his jaw less pronounced, but James’ hair stuck up in the back at the exact same angles Harry’s used to, his eyebrows were just as expressive as Harry’s had been, and his eyes — though an entirely different colour — lit up with the same spark as Harry’s had when he spoke of Quidditch, or when he laughed. They had the same smile, too. It hurt Hermione too much to watch James smile like that, but know that it wasn’t the smile her Harry had given her. She had seen that smile after he bested the troll in first year, when she was healed in second, when they had saved Sirius in third, when they went to the Quidditch World Cup in fourth, when they formed the DA in fifth, when he had finally worked up the courage to kiss Ginny in sixth, and when they danced in their tent their final year together. It hurt knowing that it wasn’t his smile.
Sirius was Sirius. He was just the same but… lighter, she supposed. He wasn't drowning under the guilt of his best friend’s murder now the way he had been in her time.
Remus. Looking at Remus pained her, yet it elated her at the same time. Hermione wasn’t sure what this meant, only that it was horrible for everyone involved. Teddy, she would think whenever she watched Remus from the corner of her eye and fell in love with the way his tongue stuck out from between his teeth as he read, sweet, innocent Teddy. Tonks, she would think as she prepared his tea in the morning, setting a single piece of chocolate beside it on the saucer (he liked it to be just a bit melted, said it made the all the more rich) before she handed it off to Lily to give him, Tonks loves him.
But Hermione loved him too. She wasn't sure when it happened, but at some point in their years of knowing one another Hermione’s crush had grown and she had fallen in love with a married man. When he took that step towards her just before the final battle her heart had soared. When she walked through the Great Hall and saw him reaching for Tonks even in death her heart shattered, not only for the man she had loved and lost, but for the love of his life. They had deserved the happiness they had found together, they had deserved to watch their son grow.
When she opened her eyes in the past and had seen Remus she had closed herself off immediately. Surely, she though, this man is different, except he wasn’t. He took his tea with chocolate, his smile was wide and full and made her heart clench inside her chest, when he opened his mouth the most brilliant things poured from his tongue. He was Remus, her Remus. Tonks’ Remus, she corrected herself, he was never yours.
“I came back to stop Voldemort.”
She was met with dull eyes staring back at her.
“We know that, love” Remus’ voice was soft, husky. She had never heard him like that before.
“You don’t know how though. When I found the spell that brought me back I needed to calculate everything exactly. Too early and it’d be near impossible to keep my arrival a secret, too late and everything would be for nothing. I decided a little more than a year would be perfect, enough time for me to do everything that I needed to do.’
The silent question lingered: What do you need to do?
‘You all know he has horcruxes… but you don’t know what they are yet, do you?”
Hermione was unsurprised to see Lily’s eyes avert themselves. She already knew.
“They’re dark magic. A witch or wizard commits an unspeakable horror and splits their soul. They can then hide that portion of their soul in an object. It keeps them tethered to this world… so that if their mortal body dies they can continue to live on.” Sirius’ voice was soft, his eyes trained on his clenched fists.
Hermione waited a beat before taking a deep breath. “That is exactly right, Sirius. Most… most dark witches and wizards only create one… maybe two. Voldemort though… in my time he created seven.’ The group didn’t make a sound. ‘I have to destroy them before I can kill him.”
“What does this have to do with where you were tonight?” James was suspicious, as she would have expected Harry to be.
“Its… its important for this mission that I am in Voldemort’s circle. Peter… Peter was my way in. I took a modified Polyjuice… it was me you saw apparating out of here tonight, Remus. Peter was called, so Dumbledore called on me.’
‘Voldemort… his meetings… they’re horrible. Bellatrix was there… it was so… so hard to see her. She tortured me, then Voldemort tortured her. I… I have to keep the timeline the same.”
The group was silent for a moment, glances were exchanged.
“What do you mean ‘keep the timeline the same’, Hermione?” Remus’ voice was cautious.
Hermione’s eyes were brimming with tears. “I… I have to lead him to people… t-the same people Peter led him to in my time. I can’t risk changing anything until next October, there’s too much that could go wrong and everything I’ve done could be pointless.” Her voice was rising as the calamity in the room began. Remus was growling, Lily was stammering and shaking her head, James stood up and threw a decorative plate at the adjacent wall causing all eyes to turn to him.
His breathing was heavy and his fists were clenched at his sides.
“You’re killing people, Hermione. Whatever way you want to rationalize it, you’re killing them just as much as Peter did in your time and just as must as Voldemort will. If you do this, you’re just as bad as they are.”
Remus stood quickly, growling deep in his chest. “How can you say that to her, Prongs?! She’s here to save you! To save your wife! She’s trying to stop your son from ever having to live the life she watched him lead!”
James’ eyes flashed to Remus, then down to Sirius who was staring up at his friend with a horror-stricken look on his face.
“I can say that because its what she’s doing, Moony. You might not be able to see it, but I can. Clear as day.’ His eyes turned back to Hermione then, and they hated ‘You’re dark, Hermione. Have you even tried to think of another way? You’re just going to lead people to the slaughter. How many of them have you heard about, Hermione? How many of their family members do you go to school with? Who will it be, huh? The Prewitt brothers? The McDonalds? The Longbottoms?”
“Stop” Her voice was soft, her eyes pleaded with him to understand. “Please, stop.”
“The Bones’? WHO ARE THEY HERMIONE?! WHO ARE THE PEOPLE YOU SOLD TO VOLDEMORT?!”
“Shut it Moony, just because you’re bound to the murderer doesn’t mean we all are.’ James’ voice was so cold, he looked so much like Harry that the different tenors of their voices didn’t matter. Hermione’s eyes blurred and she fought with every ounce of self control that she had to not break down. ‘Who are they, Hermione? You call yourself a Gryffindor, my ancestor would be ashamed that you were placed in his house. TELL ME WHO THEY ARE!”
“You’re too late.’ Her voice was quiet, a deadly whisper that was entirely void of emotion ‘You’re too late to save them, James.”
“WHO ARE THEY! SAY THEIR NAMES!”
Another plate shattered, Hermione flinched as a shard struck her face. James moved with a speed she hadn’t realized he possessed when he crossed the room and grabbed her by the arms. He hoisted her out of the chair and pushed her against the wall, a murderous look in his eyes.
He was gone the next moment. Remus was on top of him, fists were flying, Lily was screaming, Sirius jumped in to pull the men apart.
Remus was shoved towards Hermione and James towards Lily. Sirius stood in the middle of the room, the physical embodiment of the line that had divided the house.
“So thats it then?” James was wiping blood from his lip.
Lily made a noise of protest, eyes wide and staring at Hermione. “James, she can’t—“
“Thats it.” Remus’ posture was tense, protective. He didn’t pay any mind to the blood flowing from his eyebrow.
James looked at Sirius, who adamantly avoided his gaze, before glaring one final time at Hermione and storming up the stairs.
“I’ll talk to him… Hermione… we know you don’t want this…” Lily’s voice was soft, pleading with the girl to understand her husband’s emotional outburst. Hermione understood it, but for the wrong reasons.
“I’m a monster, Lily. I know that.” Hermione’s voice didn’t break, though her heart did.
Chapter 9: The Morning After
I know, I know! I said I'd update weekly and I have been a failure!
BUT mooting season is OVER, so I'll have significantly more time to dedicate to fun things (like this fic) instead of not so fun things (like adverse possession and easements).
I've got to give a shout out to TempletonRex, who wrote an amazingly long, wonderful review that got me back in the mind set for finishing this chapter! <3
As always, reviews give me life and I love them a whole lot <3
James’ hands were still shaking, though it had been hours since he stormed from the room. His fingered pushed through the black locks of hair, tugging roughly as he groaned and shook his head. I haven’t done anything wrong.
I don’t think you believe that.
The voice was right. He didn’t believe it. James Potter wasn’t stupid. He understood how deeply Hermione Granger loved his son, even if he wasn’t sure whether that love was platonic, and he understood that she would do anything to keep Harry safe. He just never thought he would have to wait for his friends to die for her to keep his son safe.
“You’re a right prat, you know that?” He hadn’t heard Lily come in but there she was, hands on her hips, hair thrown back over her right shoulder, and one perfectly shaped eyebrow delicately arched.
“Lil…” His voice was tired, so much more tired than it had ever been. He sounded old. The though sent a shiver down his spine.
“Potter.” Her reply was curt and so cold it cut through him. His hands went to his hair again.
“I know…” Air whooshed from his chest as he heaved a sigh, flopping back on the bed and pressing the heels of his hands into his eyes. Stars exploded behind his lids and he thought of how simple his life was at Hogwarts. “I fucked up, Lil.”
He felt her weight settle on the bed next to him and breathed a sigh of relief when her fingers carded through his hair. It was a soothing motion, something she had taken to doing to Harry when he was particularly fussy. James wasn’t entirely sure she wasn’t patronizing him in that moment.
“Yes… yes, you did, James.” She paused, he cracked an eye open to look up at her. Green eyes locked with his own, her stare was fierce and unforgiving. “Now, what are you going to do about it?”
Hermione settled on her bed. Her heart was still thundering and tears were pressing behind her eyes, but she wouldn't cry. Hermione Granger had cried too many times in recent weeks.
James, he was so much like Harry that it pained her to look at him, but to see such unmitigated hatred in his eyes? Hermione was convinced that the only thing that had allowed her to keep her sanity was the fact that it wasn’t Harry’s eyes looking at her that way.
It might be his face, her mind whispered, but it wasn’t his eyes.
There was a knock on the door and Remus’ soft voice floated through the wood. He was checking in on her and the gesture made her fight down a smile. How long had it been since someone tended to her so carefully? Never? Never.
But that wasn’t precisely true, she recalled as Remus entered the room, he had always tended to her. When she was 13 and cast out of the Golden Trio it was Remus who had arranged tea with her to talk everything through; at 15, when she was tip-toeing around Walburga’s portrait, it had been Remus who came to her with a box of chocolates in the library and tried to help her understand Walburga; at 17, just before the trio set off on their hunt, he had pulled her aside and hugged her tightly, letting her cry into his shoulder, before he handed her volume after volume of dark magic texts. Remus had always looked out for her.
Looking at him now she wondered whether anyone ever looked out for him after James was murdered and Sirius imprisoned. This Remus’ hair was thick and shone golden in the light, it looked effortless and she was immediately jealous. He still had three long scratches across his face, but his eyes were less haunted and his grin highlighted the dimples that she hadn’t noticed. He wasn’t nearly as thin, he was actually quite muscular, and his clothing wasn’t tattered and torn.
It was lovely to see him so completely whole.
“You won’t experience it.” She hadn’t realized she spoke until his eyes turned questioning and he settled himself in a crouching position in front of her.
“What do you mean, love?”
That struck a chord.
“Don’t call me that.” Her voice was clipped, cold, but she was sure he could tell she was hanging on by a thread. “You can’t call me that, Remus.”
He tilted his head to the side, a curious expression on his face. “Why not?”
Hermione felt a fire grow in her. Defiance. “Because that’s not a mantle I’m prepared to take up, Remus. I know everything about each of you. I know who you become, what happens to you, Remus you can’t sit here and call me love when I know I’m not that. You can’t be so protective of me when I know… when I know everything…”
Her voice trailed off and she felt something break inside her.
“What do you know, Hermione?” His voice was soft, but it sounded broken to her ears. It made her want to reach for him… why?
She looked up from her hands, finally locking eyes with him.
“You… Remus, you have a wife… and… and a child… and… Merlin, Remus! You died with her! You died holding her and I cried over your bodies! You can’t act this way… I… it feels like I’ve stolen something from her.”
Remus grazed at her intently, a fire burned in Hermione’s stomach.
“You haven’t stolen anything from anyone, Hermione. You know these things because of your circumstance, but your very presence may have changed any number of things. I— I don’t know who this woman is but… well, I doubt I loved her as much as you say.”
Hermione smiled softly, eyes trailing away from Remus’ to fixate on the door handle just behind his head.
“You loved her, Remus. It took a while for you to realize you were worthy of it though…’ When she flicked her eyes back to him she saw the confusion ‘Worthy of loving someone… worthy of being loved… worthy of happiness, I suppose. You had gone… years. Years without anyone. I think you were alone so long, without anyone to talk you out of it, that you built up walls. So many walls, Remus. When I first met you, you saved Harry. Have I told you that?… No, no I suppose I hadn’t. It was our third year and you were on the train. Professor R. J. Lupin. Dementors came onto the train and Harry… Harry collapsed. You were awake in an instant, though, and your patronus flew across the compartment and then you gave us chocolate.”
“Chocolate makes everything better” His voice was so low she barely heard it, but she felt so atuned to him in that moment that she was sure she could hear the thoughts buzzing around his head. She smiled at him, a real one, and Remus felt his heart implode.
“Chocolate makes everything better.”
“What… what do you plan to do?” Looking up at her from under his lashes, Remus felt impossibly young and foolish. She was strong, had seen so much in such a short time, and he was terrified for her, of her.
She sighed, a long heavy sigh that seemed to only increase the weight resting on her shoulders.
“I suppose I start with the horcruxes. They’ll need to be collected and stored somewhere safe, far away from any of us. I’ll continue to feed him information… Lily and James will make me the secret keeper eventually, it’ll have to be closer to next October, though, if not the entire timeline will be thrown off. I’ll have Dumbledore destroy the horcruxes on Halloween night, when he arrives. There’s no telling how losing all of them at once will affect him and I can’t risk him not being in the one place I know for sure he will be.”
Hermione locked eyes with Remus, confusion dancing across her face. “We?”
Remus’ hand slipped into hers, gripping it tightly.
Hermione stared at their hands for a moment, a feeling of euphoria filling her. It took a moment, but eventually her fingers tightened around his.
The next morning dawned bright, but crisp. Winter was fast approaching, it seemed, and Hermione clutched her blanket tighter around her shoulders. She was in the backyard, kneeling in front of a large rosebush that was slowly but surely dying.
Harry’s favourite flowers were roses. Few knew, since they were caught up in a war and who really had time for flowers when your life was on the line? But Hermione knew. She thought back to that Christmas Eve spent in Godric’s Hallow and Harry’s grief-stricken face when he saw his parent’s graves for the first time. A wreath of roses was all she could think to produce and he has whispered to her later that they were his very favourite, reminded him that red wasn’t always a horrid colour to see. (She hadn’t asked what he meant, she had known he was thinking on how often blood was spilt during this war.)
Hermione plucked one from the bush, this one seemed to be hanging on when all the others had died or given up. She scoffed slightly, twisting the stem in her fingers and clipping herself with the thorns.
“Mione?” Her head turned and there he was. She pushed off the ground, barely feeling the thorns digging deeper into her palm, and made to move towards him.
But he was wrong.
Not Harry. Her mind whispered. Harry’s gone.
Not gone. She whispered back fiercely. He’s a baby…
It was James standing on the small porch, his eyes were soft and sad and he shifted from foot to foot, scuffing each shoe along the wood.
“Harry used to do that, you know” She supplied, eager to break the awkward silence. “You do… You do a lot of things he used to.”
“You say he used to, but he’s here, Mione. He’s just a baby and you’re saving him… you’re saving Lily… you’re — you’re saving me. I—I know you aren’t dark, Hermione. I know that everything you’re doing is for him, and I should be grateful, I know that. I—I’m asking you’re forgiveness, I suppose, for all the things I said last night…” James reminded her so much of Harry it broke her heart.
“Do you know why I avoid you?” He opened his mouth to protest, but she held up a hand to stop him. “Its because you’re so like him, James. I can’t… I don’t want to trick myself into believing my Harry is still here and you, you remind me so much of him. Lily does too, but its not as painful with her… he had her eyes, and her lips, and her ears, and her sense of righteousness but everything else is you, and it hurts. It hurts so much that you’re not him. He was supposed to live, James. He was supposed to come back, he promised he’d come back.”
James was silent as he watched his son’s best friend fall to pieces over his death. She wasn’t crying, but Hermione Granger was on the edge. He moved forward quickly, wrapping his arms around her tightly and allowing her to bury her head in his shoulder.
“Roses were his favourite…” She whispered into his shirt.
“Then we’ll plant an entire garden of roses in the spring’ He whispered back, gently unwrapping her fingers from around the rose, sucking in a breath at how deep the cuts were ‘You’ll help, won’t you? Lily is pants at herbology, and Sirius doesn’t give a rat’s ass.”
She laughed softly, pulling away from him.
“What about Remus?”
James sent her a saucy wink. “Well I suppose he can join if you really want him to, Ms. Granger.”
Hermione felt herself choke on air. Her eyes widened and turned to meet James’, a frantic gleam in them. For his part, James only laughed loudly. His arm swung around her shoulders and jostled her against him as he took his first steps towards the house, steering her alongside him.
“Come on now, Granger. You think we didn’t notice? Been best mates with Moony since we were 11, theres very little I don’t notice about him. You, however, you’re an open book.”
Her left eyebrow rose and her eyes scrutinized James’ carefully composed expression.
“You like him, Hermione. I know it. Lily knows it. Sirius knows it. I think you know it too… don’t you?”
Hermione sighed heavily, eyes trailing to the window. Lily was inside, sitting with a fussy Harry who was adamantly refusing to nurse. Sirius was at the stove, his hair pulled up in a bun and a wide grin plastered on his face. Remus was at the cooling cabinet, peering inside and pulling out eggs, bacon, juice and milk, even a couple grapes — though those were promptly thrown at the back of Sirius’ head. She found herself laughing openly, watching how Remus’ eyes crinkled as his smiled. He held his stomach when he laughed, and his head tipped back. He never did that in her time.
“I… James… There are so many… so many things. Harry, I have to protect Harry, James. I don’t have time to focus on anything but that.”
James smiled down at her softly. “I like to think that my son would want you to be happy, Hermione.”
And because she couldn't deny his statement Hermione shook off her best friend’s father’s arm and walked back inside.
“HERMIONE!” Sirius’ voice was loud and full of more happiness than she could ever remember it being “Save me!” Sirius had grabbed her from where she was kicking off her shoes and shoved her in front of him like a shield.
She quirked an eyebrow at Remus, who leaned against the cooling cabinet with his arms crossed over his chest and a mocking-ly befuddled look on his face. “And what exactly am I saving you from, Sirius?”
Sirius leaned close to her, his breath tickled the side of her neck as he spoke “Moony, love, he’s gone mental. Pelting me with food all morning.”
Remus’ eyes went from gleaming wickedly to narrowed slits. He took in the interaction between his friend and Hermione, scrutinized every detail. Sirius’ hands were on her hips, there was colour rising in her cheeks, his best mate’s lips were so close to her throat he could probably feel her heartbeat.
“Remus,’ Hermione’s voice broke Remus from his thoughts, she smiled at him broadly — she hadn’t seen his narrowed gaze — ‘what do you have to say for yourself? Aren’t you supposed to be setting an example for Harry? He’s already got these two teaching him to be a poorly behaved cad, I don’t think he needs your help there.”
Her laughter sent a light through his entire being.
Lily smiled at the group. Harry was relentless in his refusal to latch and James made a passing comment as he settled beside her that his son was a fool. His fingers slid between her own as they watched their friends.
Sirius did this, he flirted. He didn’t intend it, it just happened sometimes. He knew there could never be anything between himself and Hermione, James had made it perfectly clear. Knowing it didn’t stop him from flirting around Remus, though. They had all seen how Hermione was with Remus. Her eyes lit up and her laughter was just a little louder. They all knew Remus’ feelings on the matter, so Sirius’ intervention could mean only one thing.
“He’s trying to instigate something, isn’t he?” Lily’s voice was so low James could barely hear it.
“My dear wife, whatever are you implying?” James’ hand flew to his chest and a horror-stricken look set itself firmly on his features. It was a look he had significant practice with and, though it used to work on his mother, Lily never fell for it.
“She laughing with him, even with Sirius literally breathing down her neck, her eyes turned to Remus.” Lily turned herself back to the group. “How long until they realize it?”
“Hopefully sooner than you.” Lily’s hand softly smacked against her husband’s chest. James caught it and gripped the digest firmly, kissing them softly. “He’ll make a move… or she will… or we’ll force them together… or they’ll never speak of it… or they’ll die in each other’s arms… we can’t know whats going to happen this year.”
Lily’s brow furrowed, she gently placed on finger on Harry’s forehead, tracing where Hermione had traced a lightening bolt so many times before. It seemed to pacify Harry.
“What do you know?”
Her eyes lifted to her husbands and she bit her lip.
“I don’t think this is the kind of love story that has a happy ending, James.”
James’ smile dropped as he pulled his wife closer to him, Harry was nestled between them. James buried his face in Lily’s hair, breathing in the scent of cloves. This was home.
“You’ve always been a bit blind when it comes to love, Evans.”
“There’s been an attack.”
The words echoed in her head and she stared at the spot Sirius had stood for minutes after he left. She knew this was coming. Voldemort wouldn’t wait long to move on the information she provided, but she thought they had more time.
Time, as it happened, was catching up with her.
Hermione moved down the stairs and paused on the bottom step. James was pacing the length of the living room, periodically running his hand through his hair. Lily was perched on the sofa with tears in her eyes and Harry cradled in her lap. Remus was leaning against the kitchen door frame with his arms crossed over his chest. Sirius was staring out the front window.
“How bad was it?” Her voice sounded like a scream in the quiet house, and everyone’s heads swivelled towards her at once.
“It…’ Remus sighed heavily, his eyes tracing over to Sirius ‘It was bad. Mary… Jesus. Dumbledore said she was barely recognizable.”
“Greyback?” Remus had cut her off, there was an edge to his voice and a tenseness in his stance that she had only seen once in her time, when Lavender Brown had been mauled and murdered by his sire. “Yes. She… She…” Remus’ voice broke slightly as he thought about what was done to Mary McDonald.
“She didn’t die until the end.” Sirius spoke softly, so softly Hermione had to strain to hear him. “Greyback had his fun before she died…”
When Sirius turned to look at her she saw his eyes were red and there were tear tracks down his cheeks, something she hadn’t noticed when he had come to collect her.
“You need to tell me, Hermione. I need to know. I… I need to know she didn’t die for nothing.” Sirius’ eyes were hard, determined, and Hermione was hard-pressed to deny him anything in this moment.
“She didn’t, Sirius. She died so so many could live. If… If what I’ve been told about her is true then she died fighting and she died knowing her death would mean something. We’re going to get them, Sirius… we’re going to find all of them and then we’re going to destroy them.”
“When?” It was Lily, her voice was hoarse, like she had stood in the backyard screaming for her dead friend. (She had, but no one was going to mention it.)
Hermione cast her eyes around the group, straightening her shoulders as she did so.
“We start tomorrow. Remus, Sirius, you’ll both be coming with me. There’s… some things we’ll need first.”
Remus and Sirius locked eyes before turning back to her, determination in their eyes.
Tomorrow they’d open the chamber.
Chapter 10: The Chamber
I'm so sorry about the massive wait between chapters! School got really hectic, really fast and then I just lost motivation for awhile. But I'm back and I've got the next 3 chapters written so there will be an update a week from here on out! :)
Also, starting NEXT CHAPTER its going to be VERY IMPORTANT to read these little do-hickeys. The chapters will be getting super dark, super fast and I'm going to be saying what to be aware of and how you can avoid it if you want to!
Hermione wanted to scream. How had she been so stupid? He had said the word right in front of her, how could she forget it?
Argna… Akna… Atna…
She huffed out a breath and threw herself back onto the bed, punching the mattress roughly in an effort to release the pent-up frustration.
By rights she shouldn’t have involved them at all, it was a stupid mistake. It was even more stupid of her to confirm they’d begin the following morning. They needed time to prepare. She needed to be sure they were ready for this.
Of course they’re ready for this, they’ve fought a war just as you have.
But was it the same, really? Hermione had been battling dark magic since her first year, she had taken on monsters (of the human and non-human variety) since she was 11, she had completely defied the odds more times than she could count. And now she had to do it again, but without Harry and Ron.
Hermione Granger was doubting herself. It hadn't been her who had killed that Basilisk, it was Harry. It hadn’t been her to take down hundreds of Dementors, it had been Harry. It hadn’t been her, even in first year, it had always been Harry.
She wasn’t Harry. Harry was brave and cunning and daring. He had the ability to look death and danger straight in the face and remain cool and collected.
Could she do that? No. Yes? Maybe.
“Hermione?” Remus was outside her door, his knock was so soft she hadn’t heard it amidst her internal monologue.
“Y-yes? Yes, come in, Remus.” Her voice progressively grew stronger, but she hands still shook fiercely.
Remus’ head popped into the room, his brow was furrowed in concentration or confusion and, when she cast her eyes around the room she could easily see why. The place was disastrous. She had come upstairs and immediately dumped the contents of her beaded bag onto the bed and began sorting through them. For all the tomes she had packed, there was virtually no information about Parseltongue.
“I-I’m sorry about the mess’ She waved her wand silently and sent the mess of books, scrolls, potions, and clothing flying back into the tiny bag. ‘There. That’s better, wouldn’t you say?”
His grin nearly took her breath away. It was confusing, this connection she had with him. It had always been there though, hadn’t it? Yes, ever since the train ride in 3rd year. At the time, and for years after, she had simply passed it off as a school girl crush. Remus rarely paid her any mind in the years following his position as her professor, so she had eventually grown out of the attraction, but it was always there. Sometimes it pushed and nagged at her from the back of her mind, on other occasions it was a dull ache in her chest, and occasionally, when he was in danger, it was a pounding in her ears and senses in overdrive and the sheer need to protect.
Watching him fall in love with Tonks had hurt, but she had never stood a chance. She was a girl, and Remus was a man. Tonks was a woman and appropriate. Hermione was his former student and young enough to be his daughter. It never could have amounted to anything.
So why did she feel as if her chest was ripping open when he died during the battle?
She hadn’t seen it, of course. She had been with Ron, collecting fangs and kissing him as if her life depended on it, when her chest exploded and she knew instinctively that Remus was gone.
He was staring at her, the same grin on his face, and she felt it again. Her heart was racing and her palms were sweating. She needed to be close to him, so she took a step forward.
Remus took one back.
Hermione’s heart fell. Her hands, hands she hadn’t realized were reaching for him, clenched and gathered in front of her stomach. She looked away from him then, down to watch her fingers intertwine and fidget, it had always been a nervous tick. Harry had always poked her when she did it.
“You feel it, don’t you?” She seemed to take him off guard, as when she looked up again his brow was furrowed in concentration. Remus’ left hand rose and his fingers pushed through his hair quickly, followed by a frustrated groan.
“You… I… I don’t know what you mean.” He was stalling, avoiding her question, avoiding her gaze.
“I’ve always felt it, you know. Its like… its like a nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something, or missing something. My senses, they go into overdrive when you're in danger and when you… when you died it hurt. It hurt so much. My chest was exploding and I knew in an instant that you were gone. What… what is this, Remus?”
Remus felt the world close in on him. She was getting too close, he had no idea that she had felt it with his older self. He didn’t have nearly as much time as he had hoped.
“Hermione… I still don’t understand…” Playing dumb usually worked for Sirius. He should have known better though, Hermione Granger was not a woman to be trifled with. Her eyebrows rose and her eyes hardened, she was every inch the war-hardened soldier, seeking vital information.
“You understand perfectly well, Remus. I know you feel it because I can feel you, you… you toerag! I feel everything, Remus. Every breath, every emotion, every heartbeat, I feel it all and I nearly died when you were killed. I watched you fall in love with Tonks and I tried, Remus, I tried so hard to be okay with everything because you were old enough to be my father, but I always wondered and then you died and I didn’t know why I felt like a piece of me died too. You’re here, Remus, and I’m here and I know you know what this is…’ Hermione held his gaze as she moved forward, gripping his hand in her own and squeezing it. ‘Please…”
Remus looked panicked, his heart rate was accelerating and there was a faint sheen of sweat on his forehead. His eyes though, were shifting back and forth between their normal hazel colour and a bright amber. He pulled his hand out of her grip and stumbled towards the door, not looking back as he pulled it open and threw himself out of the room and all but running down the stairs.
Hermione felt the white hot pain of rejection seep through her body. Her knees nearly buckled from beneath her as her chest exploded with a familiar pain, though it wasn’t as pronounced this time.
She sunk onto the bed, still staring at the door, as the pains rocked her body.
“So, what do we need to do here?” Sirius was utterly oblivious to the tension resonating between Hermione and Remus as they entered Hogwarts through the one-eyed witch passageway.
“You’ll find out soon enough, just… Jesus, Sirius! Be careful with that!” Hermione grabbed for the rustling bag she had entrusted to Sirius, only just catching hold of it and pushing it more securely into Sirius’ arms.
Sirius only grinned back at her, without even having the decency to look affronted at her reprimand.
They continued along the empty corridor towards the girl’s bathroom. The halls were completely empty this close to dawn, shadows danced along the walls and Hermione forced back the memories that flooded to the forefront of her mind. Kingsley had died right there, Luna was tortured and murdered just beyond that turn, and McGonagall had brought the corridor down on top of her, 3 other Order members, and 30 Death Eaters just past that tapestry. The tremors shook her body again and she felt herself sway slightly before she reached her hand out and gripped the cold stone. With deep breaths and closed eyes, she tried to lock the memories behind a door, bury them deep as she had done all those months ago; but no, there they were.
“Hermione?” A hand gripped her shoulder and another painful jolt reverberated through her system. She squeezed her eyes shut, inhaling through her nose sharply before she reopened them and focused on the face swimming before her. Remus was concerned, his face was inches from her own and his eyes were swimming with fear. Sirius stood at her side, arms braced on either side of her prepared to catch her should she collapse.
“Yes,’ she finally responded as she straightened, pulling her shoulders back ‘yes, lets… lets move.” She brushed past Remus, squeezing her eyes as another spasm of pain wracked her body.
It took them 20 minutes of careful skulking and slinking through the shadows of the castle to ensure they avoided any unwanted interactions, Hermione had been particularly worried about Peeves and his tendency to wreak havoc where she was concerned but the poltergeist was no where to be found.
The girls bathroom was just as she remembered it. Well, not just, as it was still standing. But it was as she remembered it from second year. Both Sirius and Remus exchanged a confused glance as Hermione carefully opened the door and peaked her head in before motioning the two men inside and sealing the door.
Moaning Myrtle was no where to be found, so Hermione sealed the toilets and sink drains for good measure. It wouldn’t do for her to swoop in and alert the school at an inopportune moment.
“Is there a reason you’re plugging up the toilets, Mione?” Sirius chuckled, leaning against the sinks and gripping the burlap bag as she had instructed. Hermione glanced back at him, smirking slightly as she made her way to him. She bent down, focusing on the faucet of the sink Sirius was leaning against.
“Yes, yes there is.' She stepped back, pulling and pushing Sirius until he bent to look at the faucet. A small snake was carved there, and had obviously been there since the school was built. 'Moaning Myrtle frequents this bathroom... it won't do to have her popping in for a look while we're here."
“Is this…” Sirius trailed off, turning to look at her.
“Would either of you mind telling me what the relevance of the spout is?” Remus was bent over, close to Sirius’ face (though neither Sirius nor Hermione had noticed) and was tracing the tiny snake.
“Its the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets” Sirius had supplied, staring between Hermione and the sinks in wonder.
The Marauders, while creating the map, has scoured the school for the Chamber of Secrets and, by their seventh year, were convinced the legendary lair was just that — legend. Then they had lost the map and in their final months at the school the group’s priorities had just… changed.
“How do we open it?” Remus was stooped at the waist, examining the surrounding sinks for some way to open the chamber.
It came to Hermione, a quiet whisper that progressively grew louder until it was like thunder in her mind. It was what Ron had said when they opened the Chamber.
“Abna.” Her voice slid over the word, not doing it the justice that Ron’s memorization had, but the effect was instantaneous. The sinks lurched into motion, turning and rising as the one marked by a serpent sunk into the floor.
Hermione stood at the edge of the tunnel, staring down into the abyss, as Remus and Sirius moved to stand on either side of her.
“Now we jump.”
“We what? Hermione, you can’t be serious? We have no idea how long that fall is, what if—“
A raised hand silenced the werewolf’s rambling. “I know exactly how long the fall is, Remus. Nothing to worry about, it turns into a slide at the end. Sirius’ She turned to catch the young aristocrat’s eye ‘don’t lose the bird.”
Then she jumped.
Hermione’s feet collided with stone and bone when she shot out of the slide and into the long tunnel that preceded the Chamber. Quickly she rose to her feet, taking in the surroundings she hadn’t seen since the final battle. Everything looked… exactly the same. Of course, there were the obvious signs that less time had passed, the bones weren’t piled quite as high, for one thing.
An echoing yell behind her indicated that Remus was close behind, the whoop of exuberance could only be Sirius as he shot down the slide. Hermione only hoped he hadn’t let go of the bird in his excitement.
Remus tumbled from the slide, filthy from head to toe, and rolled onto the bed of bones. His eyes were wide and wild with terror as they sought her in the darkness. Green locked with brown and Hermione saw him let out a shuddering breath before letting his head fall back against the crushed bones, a hand falling over his eyes as he took deep, steadying breaths.
Sirius joined the duo moment later, rolling onto the bones just as Remus had done, but jumping to his feet quickly. His hair was covered in dirt and dust, making it a dingy grey as opposed to its normal shining black, but his eyes were bright and his grin was infectious.
“That was bloody brilliant!”
Hermione offered a small smile before directing her attention back down the tunnel, waiting for the inevitable.
A short yell, the clatter of feet and arms pushing against the unsteady floor, and a gag that unmistakably came from Remus.
“We’re… Hermione! Hermione, these are bones…” The two men were standing back to back, staring down at their feet with twin looks of terror.
“Yes, yes they are. The basilisk has been here for centuries and it needs to eat, boys. I imagine we’ll find its shed skin while we’re down here, as well.” Her voice sounded flippant, even to her ears, but she was terrified. She had discovered what it was, she had seen its reflection, she didn’t want to come across the beast again in its lifetime. “If you see movement, you close your eyes straight away, yes?” She had turned back to look at them now, staring the two men in the eye with a fierceness that could rival any lioness. “And… if… if this doesn’t work —“
“Hermione, its going to work’ Remus cut her off, stepping close to her and wrapping his hands around her upper arms. His forehead pressed against hers and their eyes locked together. The pain in her chest lessened, and judging by the loosening tightness in his eyes, Remus had been feeling the same pain. ‘It’s going to work.”
“But if it doesn’t. If something happens. You both have to get out, do you understand me? Obliviate Peter and put him under the imperious curse. It won’t be as effective as someone taking his place, but it will buy you time. You find the horcruxes — the diary, the diadem, Hufflepuff’s cup, the ring — and you destroy them. Sirius needs to contact his brother, mend the relationship, its our only chance if he’s made the locket one already. Fiendfyre destroys them, basilisk venom, they need to be destroyed beyond repair, Remus, do you understand? Then you can kill Voldemort, you can’t do it until you're absolutely sure they’re all gone, do yo understand me?” She was panicking now. She felt it in her bones, the familiar battle high, the need to tell loved ones everything, everything, just in case you never made it out alive.
“ANSWER ME, REMUS!” Her voice was desperate, threatening to break.
Remus looked resigned, his eyes lost some of their shine.
“I understand, Hermione.”
She nodded promptly, turned to Sirius and held out her hands. Sirius, for his part, didn’t hesitate in handing over the squirming sack; Remus looked on with a resigned look in his eyes.
They walked through the tunnels that made up the Chamber, Hermione briefly explaining her second year, her first time in the Chamber, destroying the horcrux. She left out her kiss with Ron, it seemed too personal to share; a moment of fire and passion with a man she could have loved, a man who gave his life so she’d have a chance. It was theirs, no one else’s.
They arrived at the door to the Chamber, the metal snakes holding the lock in place seemed to glare out at her. Maybe they were sentient, like the paintings, and knew precisely what she was about to do to their charge. But her imaginings mattered little as she whispered the parseltongue that sent the locking mechanism in motion. The snakes drew back one by one and the door swung wide, revealing the long winding tunnel within.
Hermione’s steps were slow, but sure, as she navigated the wet stone, leading the way for Sirius and Remus to fall in behind her. The steady drip, drip, drip of falling water echoed through the tunnels and the air smelled stale and damp. Her hair was frizzing around her face with each step, eventually prompting her to tug it back in a haphazard bun at the crown of her head. It wouldn’t do to miss movement because her mane blocked it.
“Hermione…” Sirius’ whisper sounded like a scream in the quiet, echoing through the tunnels around them.
“Sh!’ Her hush was swift and harsh, but her feet paused and her ears strained. ‘I thought I heard something…”
No sound came, though. Just the steady drip, drip, drip of water in the distance.
She cocked her head, straining to hear something… anything.
Her hand flew up, a silent disillusion charm settled over the boys, followed swiftly by a silencio. Hermione didn’t doubt that the squak of outrage from Sirius and the steady stream of protests from Remus would have deafened her.
She stepped forward slowly, wand at the ready and eyes straining against the darkness of the tunnels.
The basilisk lunged from the tunnel just ahead, to the left. Hermione threw rapid slicing hexes at its eyes before diving past it and sprinting down the tunnel. The snake hissed in pain, its head thrashing against the tunnel walls as Hermione ran. The rooster, previously silent, was cawing its protests to the jostling movements, much to Hermione’s chargin.
Its only got its hearing, ‘Mione! You need to shut that bird up!
She silenced the bird, now it was only the slapping of her feet against the stone that would bring the basilisk down on her. No one to blame but herself.
She veered right.
She ran past the next 3 possible turns.
Her feet slipped on the wet tiles, sending her crashing into the wall. Blinding pain erupted in her wand arm, but she pushed herself off the floor and barrelled head first down the passageway to the left.
One more right, ‘Mione. Almost there.
There was no way a snake of its size could be following her down these turns. No way. She hoped.
After she took a sharp right once again she found herself in the innermost chamber. The faces of Salazar Slytherin stared down at her from every angle. She felt bile rise in her throat; her head was spinning, though that may have been caused by her own spinning as she surveyed each entrance point.
She felt it in her bones. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end and her hands were shaking as they fumbled to open the bag. She checked her watch, 10 minutes to sunrise…
That won’t do, Miss Granger.
She could hear the slither of the basilisk’s skin against the wet floor. It was close, too close to buy any time. She dumped the rooster onto the ground and lifted the silencing charm. Its indignant squak only served to quicken the basilisk’s pace.
She immobilized the rooster.
She gripped her wand tighter in her fist.
The basilisk burst into the room in a shower of water and blood. Its mouth was wide, fangs glistening in the dim light.
Her wand shot a stream of sunlight into the atrium above her. The rooster looked up, ruffled its feathers, and crowed loud and clear.
The next moment was entirely silent.
The basilisk swayed. It attempted to slither away but faltered. Its mouth gaped as its neck stretched towards the largest statue of its master. Then it died.
A resounding crash echoed throughout the room. The rooster cawed uselessly, finding itself unable to move, as the great snake’s head fell soundly against the stone, mouth agape and eyes blooded.
Hermione’s knees faltered then, sending her careening towards the stone alongside the beast, but arms wrapped around her waist and clutched her to a firm, though invisible, chest. With the last of her energy she lifted the spells on Remus and Sirius, letting her head fall against Remus’ shoulder. She breathed him in, the scent of musk and chocolate and Remus calming her and lulling her into a sense of security.
“Hermione… Hermione?!” Remus was gripping her arms. She was supposed to do something… wasn’t she? What was it? She just couldn’t remember, her whole body felt… exhausted.
“Just… let me sleep, Remus…” Her words were mumbled, and muffled further by her pressing her face against his neck.
“Hermione… No, Hermione, you can’t sleep yet…” His head was angled to look at her, eyes wide in alarm.
“Shhh, Remus’ Her finger came up to rest on his lips, lightly tracing the soft contours there. She couldn’t for her life remember why she hadn’t kissed him before now. ‘Everything’s all right. They’re all here, Remus… Everyone is here now.”
Sure enough, she closed her eyes and there they were. Harry, youthful and bright like the goddamn star he so vehemently denied being. Ron, with his shock of red hair and none of the burnt skin. Ginny, beautiful and whole and laughing. Behind them were everyone she had ever loved. Even Professor Snape was there, smiling at her…
Her lips were pressed against the corner of Remus’ mouth, an error on her part. She had been aiming for his mouth in its entirety. Then she drifted off into the ether, oblivious to Remus shouting and shaking her and Sirius ridded the basilisk’s mouth of its fangs.
Chapter 11: The First Time
Okay all, I couldn't stay away. I got excited about this chapter so its out early!
Now, this chapter gets a bit dark and a lot sexy, if I do say so myself. There are mentions of past rape, so if thats triggering to you you can skip the part thats marked with:
The same mark indicates the end of the section!
Also, this is the chapter where we earn that explicit rating cause sex. So keep an eye out and if thats something you wanna skip then you can just move to the next section after when Remus asks Hermione what she wants.
As always, I don't own anything! Hope you all love the chapter and pretty please review! <3
The weight of her in his arms should have been comforting. The feel of her pressed against his chest, her face buried in his neck should have set his heart alight. Breathing in the scent of her hair should have calmed Moony; but she was unconscious, had been since they were in the Chamber, so everything that should have been right was wrong. His entire world had shifted on its axis and he was barely holding on.
Sirius gripped his shoulder, tugging him out of his thoughts and into his embrace. Remus felt himself clinging to his best friend, felt the tears soaking into the dirt-covered shirt, heard Sirius whispering that everything would be alright.
But how would everything be alright if she wasn’t alright? Nothing could be fine if she wasn’t, didn’t he see? Didn’t he understand?
“Pads, nothing will be alright if she’s not. I… I can’t… She can’t be…’ He couldn't actually vocalize the fears that had taken root in his gut, they had buried themselves so deep that he didn’t think he’d ever be able to put them into words. ‘She told me what it felt like when I… when I died, Pads. I could never keep going if I… if she—”
A figure swathed in black shoved the men aside and swept to Hermione’s bedside. Poppy, who had been working diligently since they brought her up from the Chamber, locked eyes with the man and immediately set to informing him of everything she had already tried. Within moments the man was pulling potions from his robes, coaxing them down Hermione’s throat, and setting ingredients aside to be chopped, crushed, and diced for additional treatments.
The man surveyed Hermione from head to toe and ran his hands along the length of her body, mere inches from her skin. Remus growled softly, eyes golden and fixated on the unknown male. An inch to the right and his profile was clear; the long nose of Severus Snape was unmistakable after years of classes together. But before Remus could start towards him, a firm hand gripped his shoulder.
“Severus is the best Potions Master Europe has to offer, my boy. If anyone can restore Miss Granger to her former glory, it is he. She is safe with him.”
Dumbledore was serious, his eyes not twinkling at all as he stared past Remus to Hermione’s small form. He looked lost.
Severus was holding Hermione’s head back, massaging her throat with long, pale fingers as he poured potion after potion down her throat. Slowly, ever so slowly, she was regaining her colouring. The dark circles under her eyes were receding. But she wasn’t waking up.
After what felt like hours, Severus retreated a step from the hospital bed. He pushed his hair back and ran the same hand down his face before turning to look at the trio behind him. Sirius couldn't recall a time when he had seen Snape look so… defeated.
“She’s been through… a tremendous ordeal, Albus. Did she not receive medical attention when she arrived?”
“No, my boy. She was quite adamant that she was fine and that there were more important things to attend to. Why do you ask?”
Snape sighed, his shoulders dropping as he cast a look behind him. Dumbledore had told him everything, of course. Who better to look out for the newest undercover operative than Dumbledore’s own spy? No one could know, he had said, and Dumbledore submitted to never revealing what he dubbed “the best” of Severus; but she had saved Lily. Severus never would have known… no one would have if not for the girl lying in the hospital bed. He owed her everything.
“She has fallen victim to… to some of the darkest magic I have ever dealt with, Albus. I’ve never seen the likes of it and cannot imagine where she could have come across such darkness… Its equal, Albus… I have never seen anything like it.” Severus was at a loss. This was magic at its darkest, magic that required not only a blood sacrifice, but a physical, emotional, and magical sacrifice as well. The horcruxes were childs play in comparison.
“What is its effect, my boy?”
Severus looked up and locked eyes with Dumbledore before he turned to the two men alongside him. Black was a subspecies that he could barely tolerate, his cruelty knowing no bounds. Lupin was not overtly cruel, but had never raised a hand to stop the cruelty of his friends, which, Severus surmised, made him equally guilty. But judging by the look on Lupin’s face the man was either besotted or…
“Its draining her, sir.”
“Draining her? What… what do you mean? I don’t understand?”
“Did she tell either of you anything about how she returned to this time?”
“She just… she just said that it was a spell. She found the book in Grimmauld Place. Why? Whats happening?”
Severus looked between the three men before him. He hated two of them with such a passion it was exhausting, but he could never imagine being in Remus’ position.
“The spell she used, I have never seen its equal. Horcruxes are often considered to be the darkest of magic, because they require an act so evil that the soul is split; this spell, however, it requires a much more… significant sacrifice. Not only has her soul be affected, but so too has the physical carrier and the magical ability connected to it. Its blood magic in its oldest form, its been allowed to go unchecked and is ravaging her. I have contained it as best I can, but I will need the specifics of the spell if I can hope to stop its effects permanently or restore her to her full power, for that matter.”
Remus staggered passed Severus then, gripping Hermione’s hand and resting his head against the bed next to her arm. Sirius stared after his friend, the thought of losing Hermione, though he had been with them less than a month, was unbearable. He couldn’t think on how much pain Remus was in.
“So what do we do?’ He turned and locked eyes with Severus ‘You’re our best hope, right? What do we do? We’ll do anything, Snape.”
It was the first time Sirius had ever referred to Severus by his name and the shock was evident in his eyes as he took in the aristocrat before him. This was the picture of a man begging mercy from his greatest enemy and, if the circumstances were any different, Severus would relish in it; as it was, though…
The hospital wing door burst open then and a flash of red hair darted past before bending over Remus, hugging the shaking man close.
It was the first time Severus had seen Lily since their graduation and she had only gotten more beautiful as the years passed. Severus felt his breath catch as his eyes followed her and his nose caught her scent. She still wore the same perfume, she still smelled of cloves.
“What happened?” James Potter appeared next to Sirius and was looking between the two men with confusion written on his face, a babe on his hip.
Severus’ breath caught again as he took in the face of James Potter with Lily Evan’s eyes.
“The spell Hermione used to get here it was dark magic… the darkest of dark magic, according to Snape. Its… its draining her.”
Lily’s ears had perked up at the mention of Severus and she dislodged herself from Remus’ tight hold to turn and look at her old friend.
Severus turned to look at Lily. His face was closed off, but it had not been so long that he was capable of hiding from Lily Evans. She took a few steps towards him, tears dancing in her eyes.
“Sev… you… you saved her?”
He didn’t actually get the opportunity to clarify that no, he hadn’t saved her. He had merely restored her to such a point that she’d be able to function until he could garner more information. Lily had seen the nod of assent from Dumbledore and launched herself at her childhood friend. She was sobbing and clinging to him and he could do nothing but clench his hands into fists at his side, no matter that he wanted to wrap his arms around her and allow their weight to send them crashing to the ground.
“I’m… Lily I-“
“I know, Sev. I know.”
And, for a moment, everything in Severus Snape’s world was right.
Hermione settled into the winged back armchair in front of the fireplace. Number 12 Grimmauld Place was freezing and she wasn’t entirely sure if that should be attributed to the winter months or the cold weight of death that had settled over the house.
Kreacher was long gone, perished in the Final Battle alongside so many of the Hogwarts elves, so there was no one to keep the many grates lit when the sun fell as the already drafty house was smothered in darkness.
Hermione had arrive 6 months prior, disillusioned and silenced she moved through the house casting her wards. Nothing would stop a Black from getting in if they desired, especially now that Harry was gone, but she hoped that they wouldn’t think of it. Her strategy was not a particularly good one, but it had worked thus far.
She had spent the past 6 months pouring over the Black family library. Every single volume had been read through thoroughly, spells and curses memorized, potions tested, charms mastered; only one remained. It had taken her her entire stay to crack the curses that protected the book from muggleborn eyes, she had to be diligent in taking apart the wards surrounding the book, then even more diligent in dismantling the curses. She was already in rough shape, such dark curses would do nothing but guarantee her a swifter and far more painful death than anything currently in store for her.
Hermione Granger was looking for something. There was a spell, a curse really, that should help her restore everything. It was risky, and she wasn’t entirely sure it existed, but this volume was her last hope. The world’s last hope.
She poured over it for hours before stumbling on the bit of magic she needed.
KILANIGUN RESTORIATE TIMENTIOUS LEGIENTUS
Known as The Return, Kilanigun Restoriate Timentious Legientus is an ancient power that requires both a blood and physical sacrifice. The blood sacrifice must claim a victim of magical decent, as only their blood will allow for the necessary power to complete the ritual. The longer the magical line, the more powerful the ritual is capable of becoming. The blood sacrifice must also result in the initiate’s soul ripping. Such a rip serves a dual purpose. Initially it will allow the initiate the necessary edge to be transported by the ritual. Subsequently, the rip will be a point from which the ritual will drain the necessary power to continue its purpose.
There is little known of the effects of The Return on the initiate. However, speculation points to the blurring of the line between the living and dead. Initiates have reported the ability to sense the dead on some level. In some cases, where the initiate does not possess the necessary physical, emotional, or magical energies the ritual will result in the initiate’s death.
Yes, she thought, yes.
The incantation followed. It was shorter than she expected, though, from what she understood to be required it was not entirely surprising. Such a long ritual would undoubtably be draining, both physically and magically, on the initiate. An unnecessarily long incantation would be counterintuitive to the ritual’s purpose, she supposed.
She reached for her teacup, gripping the delicate porcelain with two fingers as she brought it to her lips and drank deep.
The lights are too damn bright. Fuck. Shut them off. Holy fuck.
Her head hurt so much. Her body ached so badly.
Did Remus had Sirius get out?
Her eyes flew open and she sat up, head whipping from side to side and hands pushing at the hands that came to push her back down.
No. Not again.
She screamed, thrashing against the arms that held her down. They were on her shoulders, her arms, four hands held her thighs and she squeezed her eyes shut remembering the burning pain when the Death Eaters had first pulled her thighs open and forced their way inside her.
Not again. Not again.
She wasn’t screaming words, just unintelligible shrieks escaped her as she kicked and screamed against the hands pushing her back into the mattress.
Not again. Not again. Please.
She pissed herself.
“LET HER GO!”
She knew that voice! But he was dead? Maybe they had come for him after the battle? Maybe he survived? He’d come to help. He had to have.
Her eyes shot open and locked with the onyx eyes of Severus Snape. He was deathly pale; his face was screwed up in terror or disgust, she wasn’t sure which. The hands, mercifully, let her go. She wasted no time in launching herself at her former Professor, clinging to him and whimpering.
“Please… please Professor. Don’t… don’t let them. N-not… not again. Professor I can’t… please not again.”
Severus was frozen beneath her hands. His eyes were wide, staring at the four people surrounding her bed. He locked eyes with Lupin as he brought his hands up, patting the girls back as she wept into his lapels.
“Shh, shh. Hermione? Do you know where you are? Hermione, do you know who I am?”
“Y-you’re Professor Snape. I.. I didn’t think you were still… You… how did you find me?”
“Hermione… Hermione, do you know where you are?”
“Bellatrix… she… Professor, please, please don’t let them…”
“Shh, child. You’re safe. You’re safe.’ He gripped her arms, pushed her a step back and locked eyes with her ‘Hermione, do I look as you remember?”
She searched his face for a moment. No… no he didn’t look as she remembered. There were fewer lines on his face. His hair was longer. He had a scruff.
He was 20 years younger than she remembered. She was in the past. The chamber. She passed out.
She took a step back, moving her grip from her former Professor’s lapels to the railings at the foot of the hospital bed.
Breathe, Hermione. In.
She closed her eyes and inhaled. It smelled of Hogwarts. And cloves. And juniper trees. And Remus.
She turned and locked eyes with Remus. She staggered towards him and pulled him tight to her. His arms wound around her waist and pulled her flush against him, his face falling to her shoulder as he whimpered and whispered his apologies into her hair.
“We didn’t think.”
“We’re so sorry, Hermione.”
“How did you know?” That was James. He wasn’t looking at Hermione, like the rest of the group, but at Severus. His gaze wasn’t accusatory, but thankful.
“Legilimency’ Hermione supplied, casting a look at Severus ‘He’s a gifted legimens, he’s also the greatest occlumens in the world.”
Severus sputtered for a moment, compliments being as foreign as they were.
“You needn't be modest, Professor. You keep Voldemort—“
“Don’t speak his name”
“—out of your head on a daily basis, and he’s the greatest legimens who ever lived. You deserve the praise.” Hermione had settled into Remus’ arms, though her nose scrunched upon remembering that she had soiled herself in her fear.
“Hermione?’ Lily was at her elbow, a bundle of clothing shoved beneath her arm. Her hair was slightly greasy and there were bags under her eyes. Looking at each of her friends in turn it was clear none of them had been sleeping well. ‘I brought you some clothes, would you like to change?”
Hermione smiled thankfully at her friend and moved to link their arms. If she leaned a significant portion of her weight against Lily as they hobbled their way to the lavatory, Lily didn’t let on.
“Thank you, Severus.” The silence that followed the women’s departure was thick and Remus’ voice, scratchy from disuse, was a shock to all four men.
Severus sputtered slightly, clearly thrown off kilter by these new Marauders.
“I owe you… I owe you everything. I’m sorry we were so cruel to you. I’m sorry I didn’t do anything to stop it. You’re a great man, Severus; I’m only sorry we didn’t see it before now.’ Remus’ eyes stayed locked with Severus’ as he spoke, but his hands shook. He had come close, too close, to losing her. The notion of being without her took his breath away and this man, who he had been so cruel to, was the only reason she was still with him. ‘Thank you for realizing what… what she thought. I… god it kills me. It kills me to know what they did to her and I don’t even know what they did.” Remus let out a angry bark of laughter then, clutching his hair between his fingers and pulling. When he raised his head again the golden locks stood on end.
The men were quiet for a beat, Severus looked between the three Marauders and took a deep breath.
“Yes, well, don’t let Miss Granger get herself in another situation where my services are needed. I am much to busy to constantly attend her needs.” Hermione and Lily would later tell the three men that it was Severus’ way, he would sneer and snark and make his displeasure known at every opportunity, nothing to be offended by. At the time, however, Sirius’ hands clenched into fists, James glared hard at the man’s back, and Remus felt the overwhelming urge to pummel the gargantuan nose until it was more reminiscent of a pug’s.
The final flap of a black cloak around the doors to the hospital wing seemed summon Dumbledore and the two women. Dumbledore, along with Poppy Pomfrey, stepped from the latter’s office where they had been vehemently arguing in hushed tones. Hermione and Lily emerged from the lavatory, Hermione’s weight still being supported by the redhead, but she was wearing jeans and a soft sweater as opposed to the hospital issue gown she had been wearing previously.
“My dear, its wonderful to see you walking. You gave us all quite a fright.” Dumbledore looked every bit the loving grandfather as he spoke to Hermione, hands folded delicately under her robes and eyes twinkling.
“Yes sir, I believe I overtaxed myself in the Chamber… it won’t happen again, sir.” Hermione settled back onto the bed, staring meaningfully at Dumbledore as she spoke.
“Overtaxed yourself?’ Remus sputtered ‘Hermione, you passed out! You were muttering about everyone being here? Everything being okay? I thought I lost you, Hermione! Do you understand how… terrified I was? How terrified we all were?! Do you care?!”
“Don’t be daft, Remus! Of course I care. I simply overtaxed my magic. I was under tremendous stress and—“
Remus stepped into her space then, completely cutting off her train of thought as his hands cupped her jaw.
“I couldn’t breathe, Hermione. I could hear your heart beating, but it was so slow and so faint. I’ve never felt that kind of fear. You want to explain it away by stress? Snape said that… he said its draining you, Hermione. Whatever you did to get here… what if it kills you? You need to worry about yourself for once, please.”
His words were whispers, meant only for her, and his eyes were shining slightly with unshed tears; but as Hermione stared back, mouth agape, she could feel Dumbledore’s eyes glaring a hole in the back of her head. Her mind reached out to his and flashes of Pettigrew and Voldemort met her, followed by an imagine taken from her very own mind — Harry, laughing and happy. Dumbledore was sending a very clear message.
“I… Remus, I’m—“
“Miss Granger.” Dumbledore’s tone was clipped, unimpressed.
“I need to go.”
This time it was Hermione who fled the room; If she stumbled, clutching her chest as she rounded the corner beyond the hospital wing, well there was no one there to witness it.
Pain. There was so much pain and she was too weak to fight it, too weak and tired and sick to lock herself away until Voldemort grew bored.
Peter had no information for him and Voldemort was disgusted with his pet rat.
“What good is a spy with no information?”
Severus was there this time. His shields were strong, and Hermione could only notice the rage that lingered behind his eyes because she was the subject of it.
How dare she? The insufferable know-it-all at it again; thinking she knows better than I?
Hermione’s consciousness scoffed, her mind supplying Professor Snape’s voice for her inner musings.
Now Miss Granger, I hardly think it wise to ponder in the presence of the Dark Lord.
Peter could breath again. He was gasping on the stone floor at Voldemort’s feet, tears streaming down his cheeks and piss soaking the front of his trousers.
“I’m sorry, my Lord. Forgive me, my Lord” His voice was broken, wracked with sniffles and sobs. Snot was trailing from his nose.
Voldemort’s lip pulled up in a sneer, his nose wrinkled when he caught sight of the evidence of Peter’s fear soaking the floor.
“You will do better, Wormtail.”
“Yes, my Lord. I— The… The McKinnons! I will get information on the McKinnons, my Lord!”
“And the Potters, Wormtail”
“The Potters, my Lord?”
“Do not forget why you are here, Wormtail. You will be their secret keeper, Wormtail. Plant whatever seeds of doubt you must, but you will tell me their location.”
“Yes, my Lord. Of course, my Lord.”
Voldemort disapparated, followed by most of the Death Eaters, and Peter sunk to his knees. His hands worried in front of his stomach and he refused to make eye contact as the remaining Death Eaters disappeared from the room.
Too dangerous, stay in character.
When the room was empty Peter took a great breath and stood. His knees were shaking and his joints protested with each move. Spinning hurt the most, wrenching his back and sides painfully.
The squeeze of apparition constricted his airways and caused pain to blood behind his eyes. When he appeared in the back room of the Hogs Head it only took moments for his skin to mutate, his form to reshape. With a swish kick to the walls she had built in her mind Hermione Granger groaned back into existence before trekking slowly up to Hogwarts.
Her meeting with Dumbledore was more badgering than meeting, as he repeatedly scolded her for fraternizing with Remus — “frivolous notions of love are not the goal, Miss Granger. I thought better of you than this… what of Voldemort? Harry?”.
It had taken everything in Hermione not to launch herself across the desk at the old man at that moment. How dare he question her devotion, her loyalty? She had endured unspeakable things and still returned. She was the last member of the Order of the Phenoix, for Merlin’s sake. Still, her devotion to the cause had never wavered; yet Dumbledore had the audacity, the gall, to imply her motivations were not up to his standards?
He had trained her for this. He had trained them all for this. Since their first year he had been testing Harry and, by association, those closest to him. Hadn’t she surpassed his expectations? Hadn’t she helped Harry through the obstacles surrounding the Philosopher’s Stone? Hadn’t she determined what, exactly, hunted muggle-borns? Hadn’t she helped Harry save Sirius? Time and time again she had laid down her life for her best friend, and time and time again it had been orchestrated by Dumbledore.
She was starting to think it was about time to go off script.
The cold reception upon arriving back at Godric’s Hollow was unexpected. Harry was asleep, being as late in the night as it was, so the house was quiet, but it wasn’t the pleasant quiet she had become accustomed to in recent days. This was a cold, detected quiet. The kind of quiet that resonated and sunk deep into your gut, forewarning you that something was terribly wrong.
The majority of her housemates sat in the living room, clutching cups of tea that had long since gone cold and staring at random points on the floor. Lily and James turned to the door as she let it fall shut behind her.
She was she she looked a fright. Her hair had to look a fright. She knew she had blood on her shirt, as well as a bloody nose. Her eyes were probably still bloodshot.
Lily moved to rush to her, but James gripped her knee and shook his head, prompting the red head to nod and settle back into the couch.
“Where were you?” Sirius was still staring at the floor, hands folded on his chin and elbows resting on his knees.
“Voldemort.’ The reply gave them all the information they needed. ‘Did you get the fangs?”
Sirius scoffed, his eyes finally moving to meet her own. Hermione had to stop herself from stumbling back from the anger, the madness, that resonated in those eyes.
Sirius looked so like Bellatrix in that moment that he frightened her.
“Did I get the fangs?’ His voice was deadly calm, and Hermione knew he was seconds from exploding. ‘Did I get the fangs? Hermione, you almost died, and then you run off to Voldemort. Do you have any idea, any idea whatsoever, how terrified we were?”
“I have to stop hi—“
“YOU HAVE TO LISTEN TO ME, HERMIONE! YOU HAVE TO WORK WITH US, HERMIONE!’ Sirius had jumped up from the chair, pacing and dragging his hands through his hair as he screamed. He stopped abruptly in front of her, moving swiftly and gripping her upper arms, bending at the waist to lock eyes with her. ‘You have to trust us, Hermione. You trusted us in the future. You trusted us to protect him in the future. Trust us now. Trust us to protect him now, Hermione. You can’t do this all on your own.”
Hermione stared at him and, for all her had looked like Bellatrix moments before, he looked nothing like his family at that moment. She took a breath and closed her eyes. How long had it been since she trusted someone? Really trusted them?
She knew the answer. Ron. Ginny. The Weasleys.
She needed help. She had never been completely on her own in her plots before, and she knew why she was so reluctant to let the three people in front of her (and the one who was surely lurking in the house somewhere) help. The idea of replacing Harry and Ron burned deep in her chest. It was wrong, so very wrong. They were the Golden Trio, how could everything go so horribly wrong?
They would want her to have help; she knew that, consciously, but the act of asking for help… it felt so much like replacing them.
“I… I can’t… I can’t replace them, Sirius.” Her voice was small, broken, and she moved her eyes from Sirius’ to the floor.
“Hermione, we’ll never replace them. We know that. But… maybe you can make room for us.”
She stared at the floor for a moment before she turned her gaze to the man who looked exactly like her best friend. She remembered the way Harry would pull her hair when she was so engrossed in her books that she forgot dinner. Her gaze drifted to Lily, whose eyes were the exact shape and colour of Harry’s, and remembered the look of determination in them when he said his final goodbyes. Then she turned her eyes to Sirius and remembered the devastation on Harry’s face when he finally realized that Sirius was gone.
Harry had Lily’s grin too.
She knocked on the door and waited for the muffled shout of assent before stepping into the room and closing the door.
“Just leave the tea on the dresser, Sirius.” Remus was stood at the window with his back to the door, arms crossed over his chest. He didn’t realize who had come knocking.
‘I don’t have any tea…” Hermione’s voice was soft, unsure, as she shifted from foot to foot and wrung her hands. “But I did bring chocolate?”
Remus whirled around and stood facing her. The moonlight was to his back, so she had no way to judge how this conversation was going to go.
He must be furious.
His fists were clenched at his sides and she felt it in her bones that he was staring her down, waiting for an explanation.
“I’m sorry, Remus.” It was a start.
He remained silent. She sighed heavily, pushing a hand through her tangled hair and fluttering her hands. She didn’t know what to do, so she started rambling.
“You know,’ she giggled ‘I failed part of my DADA final in 3rd year under your instruction. The boggart turned into Professor McGonagall and she told me I had failed everything. I started crying right there, fell to my knees and sobbed my heart out. You — well, future you, I suppose? — had to bring me out and… and you gave me chocolate. I… Remus I know I scared you but… I can’t let it end like it did, Remus. I can’t let them die when I can do something and… and if it means I die then I die. But I want to die knowing I did something to save everyone I love. I want Harry to grow up in this house with James and Lily. I want him to have Christmas morning and birthday parties and I want him to learn to fly a broom with his dad and not at a magical boarding school! I want Ron and his family to grow up and not have to fear for their lives! I want Neville to have his parents! I want Sirius to spend the next 12 years whoring his way across Europe. I want… I want to keep you from 12 years of loneliness and solitary full moons and knowing that your entire pack is gone.”
Remus stood, completely motionless for a moment. She took a step forward, reaching for him, but hesitated and dropped her hand a second later.
She was cut off by Remus’ swift movements. The length of his body pressed against hers, crowding her back two steps into the door. His hands cupped her face the way they had in the hospital wing and his eyes were bright green and locked with hers.
She couldn’t breath without his scent filling her entire being. Her hands moved of their own accord, traveling from their place by her sides up his stomach, over his chest, to rest on his shoulders. Her fingers clutched in the t-shirt he wore. Her eyes flickered to his mouth and she own mouth gaped. Open, closed. Open. She was helpless under his scrutiny and met his eyes once more.
“Tell me what you want, Hermione.” His voice was soft, breathy even, but there was a dominant undertone. It was a request and an order all wrapped in one and it set her body alight.
His lips crashed against her own. The kiss was full of passion. One of the hands cupping her jaw moved down to her neck, thumb tilting her head up just so until he could slant his mouth against her own. His tongue trailed over her lip and her mouth opened to him. His other hand slid into her hair, gripping the strands lightly at the scalp.
Hermione’s hands delved into his hair as she matched his passion with her own. The kiss was a flash of lips, tongue, and teeth. Remus growled when she nipped his bottom lip before moving the hand in her hair to her hip, pressing her bum back into the door and grinding his erection against her public bone.
She moaned at the contact, arching into him, using her foot to push herself off the door and further into his arms. Remus, for his part, was unsurprised by the movement and caught her quickly, lifting her high onto his hips and urging her to wrap her legs around his waist. She clutched his shoulders and ground herself against the length of him, nestling right there, and moaned into the kiss.
Remus, upon feeling her grinding against him, squeezed her ass and pulled her tighter against him. He broke the kiss and sucked down her neck, nibbling at a spot just below her ear that sent her back arching and caused her to tilt her head back and moan.
In the back of her mind she recognized the submissive position she had unwittingly assumed, neck bared to Remus as it was. She felt her nipples tighten and panties grow wet at the goan Remus emitted before he turned and threw her on the bed.
Hermione ripped her shirt off and propped herself up on her elbows, surveying Remus for a moment. He, too, had divested himself of his shirt and stood in between her splayed legs bathed in moonlight. His chest was scarred, of course, but the heat rushing in her blood led her to focus primarily on the wide shoulders, muscled torso, and thick hair running along his chest and down below his low-riding denims. Hermione grabbed his hand and pulled him down on top of her, gripping his neck and kissing his fiercely as he pinned the hand that had pulled him down to the bed next to her head. His other hand settled over her hip, pushing her down onto the thigh he had nestled between her legs. Hermione broke away from kiss, moaning as she arched and fell against his thigh.
His fingers moved to the button on her jeans, unfastening them swiftly and playing with the skin along the hem of her underwear.
“Off, Remus. Take them off.”
Remus, for his part, obliged her. He tugged the denim down her legs, trailing his lips along her calf as he did. He moved from his position on the bed to the floor between her legs. Gripping her ankles, Remus tugged her down the bed and slid his lips along the inside of her knee to her inner thigh. His fingers splayed on her hips, fingering the material lightly as he looked up at her. Hermione, resting on her elbows, nodded enthusiastically and cantered her hips upward. The motion was unnecessary, though, as Remus ripped the black panties along the seems, leaving her bare to him.
He moaned and dove at her pussy. His tongue swiped along the length of her folds, settling on the little bundle of nerves she had been so vigorously stimulating against his leg moments before.
Hermione moaned, collapsing onto her back as her finger wound into Remus’ hair, tugging lightly. The growl Remus let out as his lips latched onto her clit had her swinging one leg over his shoulder and throwing her head back against the bedding.
“Please, Remus… y-your — your fingers.” Remus immediately set to pushing one long finger into her sex, crooking it just so as he did. He pumped once, twice, three times, before adding a second finger. Hermione’s moans grew louder, Remus suckled her clit, tongue flicking against the hood quickly, matching the pace set by his fingers. The grip Hermione had on his hair tightened and her back arched as she came, moaning his name long and low. Remus lapped her juices greedily, moaning at the taste of her.
When she lay boneless, the aftershocks of her orgasm wracking her body, Remus rose. He stared down at her, unsure if she wanted to continue, waiting for her to make the first move. Hermione rose onto her elbows and arched a single eyebrow at the man in front of her. His jeans displayed a prominent bulge, his cheeks were tinted red and his lips and chin were shiny with her juices. Her rose on shaky legs, kissing him soundly and trailing a hand down his chest, over his stomach, to rest of the top of his jeans. She pulled back, one hand gripping the back of his neck, as she played with the button for a moment, waiting for him to say it.
She unbuttoned the denims quickly, pushing the offending garment to the floor. His erection sprung free and she immediately dropped to her knees, gripping it in her hand. Remus’ gaze followed her, mouth falling open as she licked the tip of his cock. His hand settled on her head, winding through her hair as she took the length of him in her mouth. Her fingers trailed over one thigh, grazing the inner thigh, before dipping to cup his balls. She massaged them softly, relishing the groan Remus let out at the contact.
Remus watched her mouth suckle at his cock and struggled to maintain control of his senses. Gasping as she swiped her tongue over the ridge of his cock he bent, gripping Hermione’s upper arms and lifting her to her feet.
“I… Hermione… How do I… How can I…” He couldn’t properly word it. He wanted this to be perfect for her.
She smiled softly, fingers running through his hair before she turned him around and pushed him gently onto the bed. Remus sat, hand resting on Hermione’s hips as she straddled him. His other hand gripped his cock, lining it up with her entrance. The wet heat of her made him gasp, his eyes locked with hers as she slowly sunk down onto his length.
Hermione moaned when he was finally seated deep inside her. Her walls gripped him tightly as she rose and fell above him, gripping his shoulders. Remus’ hands moved to unfasten her bra, discarding it quickly, before they settled back on her hips, helping her ride him. He took a nipple in his mouth and she arched into him, throwing her head back and moaning.
“Please Remus… God…”
He smirked, a twinkle of mischief dancing in his eyes.
“Remus’ll do, love.”
With that he wrapped one arm around her waist, the other across her back so his hand gripped her shoulder. He pushed and pulled her down onto his cock, thrusting up as he did. Hermione gripped his shoulders, doing her best to match his thrusting, but ultimately failing and instead allowing her head to fall against his shoulder so she could suck and nip at his neck as he drove them both to their peaks.
Her thighs were shaking as they bracketed his hips, their bodies were meeting with sharp smacks, Hermione was moaning into his neck and he was barely controlling the volume of his grunts.
Three more thrusts and Hermione was cumming. Light was exploding behind her eyes as Remus filled her, cock hitting the spot deep inside her that sent her toes curling and public bone grinding against her clit. Her back arched and her head rolled back, baring her throat to him. As her walls tightened around him he felt his balls being to tighten.
Remus felt the world shift on its axis, he groaned loudly and latched onto her shoulder, barely surpassing the animalistic urge to bite her, mark her as his. Instead, he sucked sharply on the skin at the juncture of her shoulder and neck, where his mating mark would ordinarily go. Hermione moaned loudly, fucking herself relentlessly on his pumping cock. His fingers quickly delved between their bodies, swiping along the cum that collected there and rubbing her clit in quick, circular motions. Her body went taught and she latched her teeth onto his shoulder as she came again. He felt her teeth break skin and moaned her name, burying his face in her hair.
The pair collapsed on the bed, Hermione still on top. She was kissing and nuzzling his neck, fingers trailing over his chest. His hands were wrapped around her waist, clutching her to him.
“You marked me.” His words were soft, smile wide.
Her head popped up, eyes wide and moving rapidly between his face and his neck, where his mating mark now lay.
“I… I did… what?” Her confusion was adorable, he thought as he kissed her head.
“The reason we’re so connected… what… what you asked me the other day. You’re my mate, Hermione. I may have been married to Tonks but… you have always been my mate. I knew when I first smelt you… you… Merlin, this is coming out all wrong, isn’t it?”
The busy hair shook rapidly.
“No. No, Remus. It’s… Merlin… Everything feels… it feel better. Not… not right, not yet. But it will be. Do you know what I mean?”
Remus smiled, kissing her soundly and delighting in the way she crawled up his body to get closer.
“I know exactly what you mean.”
Hermione rose early the next morning, 3AM to be precise. She pulled on Remus’ shirt, which fell to her mid-thigh, before slouching down the stairs to the kitchen.
Sticking her head in the cooling cabinet, she searched through the items before grabbing Lily’s orange juice and moving across the kitchen.
James Potter had seemingly appeared out of no where and Hermione, for all her war-trained reflexes, let out a short scream and dropped the orange juice. She clutched her chest and glared half-heartedly at the dark hair wizard leaning against the kitchen door.
“What on earth are you doing, James?!”
“Well, Sirius and Lily went off to sleep just after you went to Remus’ room but, of course, I couldn’t sleep. Which is lucky, since there was someone awake to throw up the silencing charms you all forgot before your fuck fest” His eyebrows waggled suggestively as he moved across the kitchen.
Hermione felt herself blushing.
“Oh, I know. You were both very busy!” A rude hand gesture accompanied his statement and Hermione let out a bark of laughter. “I see Moony left his mark.” James was still smiling at her as he gestured to her neck.
Her hand flew up, brushing against what she would later discover was a rather large hickey sticking out of the collar of Remus’ shirt.
James let out a bark of laughter, pulling a glass out of the cabinet and pouring her a glass of the juice her dropped.
“I’m happy for you both, you know. If anyone deserves happiness its you two.”
Hermione blushed, taking the juice and gulping messily from the glass.
“He… he makes me happy. I don’t think I’ve been happy in…”
Her eyes went glassy when she was remembering her past life, James noticed.
“Come outside with me.”
They moved outside and James began casting warming charms on the backyard before launching into a complicated explanation for magically planting rose bushes. The two set to work just before 3:30 and by 5 the back garden was teeming with rose bushes.
“When was the last time you were happy?”
Hermione smiled softly.
“We never finished 7th year. Harry had to hunt horcruxes and Ron and I weren’t about to let him go off half cocked alone. A few months in we had exhausted our hiding places and were camping. Ron… he couldn’t take the not knowing. We didn’t have any information, you see. Dumbledore didn’t tell Harry what the horcruxes were or hot to destroy them. And one day… Ron left. I was a disaster… I loved Ron, you see. Had since, hmm… 4th year? We moved around some more, setting up wards and camping all around Britain. One night Harry turned up the radio and pulled me away from my books and we danced the night away. He is… he will be… amazing.”
James smiled at her, he flicked his wand at the radio and a song began to play.
“I know I’m a poor substitute for my son but, until he wakes up, lets have a dance?”
Hermione laughed and took James’ hand, allowing him to spin her around.
“You’re a much better dancer than he is.”
James barked a laugh. “Well I know one thing I’m going to have to teach him.”
Hermione looked up at her best friend’s father then, and saw every memory Harry would get to have.
“You’ll teach him so many things. I promise.”
James looked at the girl who had gotten that far away look in her eyes again.
“Did you…’ He cleared his throat. ‘Did you and Harry ever…?”
“Oh merlin no!’ Hermione squaked, cheeks reddening. ‘No. No, no, no. Harry is my best friend. I couldn’t… I mean, objectively, he’s an attractive bloke but… no.”
An alarm sounded from James’ pocket then and he broke away from the witch.
“Speak of the devil. I’ll go get him, see if I can get him to sleep. Don’t stay out here too long, okay?”
Hermione smiled softly at him, “Okay, James.”
James moved towards the house, pausing briefly to turn back to Hermione, “He’s lucky to have you, you know.”
Hermione gave him a confused look, but James just turned on his heel, whistling a tune, and jogged into the house.
Chapter 12: The Drink
A month passed with little activity. Hermione read books on the dark arts, potions, and charms. She helped Lily in the kitchen and tended the rose garden with James. She played Exploding Snap with Sirius and tried her best to learn Wizard’s Chess under Remus’ kindhearted tutelage; but her favourite thing — her absolute favourite thing— to do was dance with baby Harry.
It had become routine for Hermione to crawl out from under Remus’ arm in the early morning, prompted by the cries of her best friend. The first week she would meet Lily or James in the hall and usher them back into bed before entering Harry’s nursery. The walls were light green with snitches flying in patterns along the top 8 inches of each wall. Harry had stuffed hippogriffs and dragons piled in a small toy box, along with other baby-approved wizarding and muggle toys. The crib was against the wall opposite the door and that was where Harry lay each morning, kicking tiny feet and flailing tiny arms as his toothless mouth screamed his protests at the world.
The first few days when Hermione had entered and picked him up he continued to scream. She threw up silencing charms on the room and, after feeding him, paced and rocked and sang to him. Nothing worked, of course, and she eventually fell into the comforting habit of dancing with her tiny best friend.
Harry quieted immediately, clutching onto strands of Hermione’s hair and she spun them around the room. She laughed loudly when his tiny mouth opened and turned up in a wide grin. One morning she had finished a dance only to look up and see James and Lily holding one another close in the doorway. Hermione had blushed, tucking her hair behind her ear, and moved to hand Harry over. She was stopped by Lily holding up her hands and shaking her head softly; Lily’s eyes — Harry’s eyes — were brimming over with tears as she smiled at the woman who would move heaven and earth for her child.
“If he was alone as long as you say, I’m glad he found you.”
The couple left and Hermione stayed, swinging Harry around the room in a waltz that she wasn’t particularly good at.
“No. We need to get into Hogwarts now, Remus. We need to get in, get the diadem, and get out while we have the chance.”
“No, Remus. I know the children are back in school, I know that it’ll put them in danger, but not getting the diadem? Remus, that’s dark magic. Truly dark magic. Neither of you have felt it before but… Merlin, it tears at you. It finds the dark place inside your mind and it stokes the flames until its an inferno and its all you can do to not murder everyone who has ever vexed you. It needs to be out of the castle, Remus. Safe, with us, until it can be disposed of.”
Hermione’s gaze was hot, her cheeks and neck flushed with the passion of her conviction. Remus heaved a sigh, a hand rubbing over his face and back through his hair. He had never met a woman quite so… vexing.
Yes, he thought, vexing was the word for it.
She was brilliant. Utterly, undeniably brilliant. And her brilliance sparkled in her eyes whenever they spoke, though they hadn’t spoken much recently — wizard’s chess lessons surely didn’t count —, not since that night. She had managed to avoid him quite spectacularly, really. Something he was equal parts grateful for and irritated by. He had no idea what to say, what to do. They hadn’t been friends before, and certainly weren’t now; but it was Hermione, and she was everything. All encompassing, hot headed, and utterly brilliant.
“So we go in.’ Sirius’ hands were braced against the kitchen table, his head swivelling back and forth between his companions. ‘We can’t leave it there. And we can’t leave it here, either. So… where does it go? Do we destroy it?”
“No.” Hermione was firm, eyes cutting to Sirius. Her fingers played with the hem of the jumper she was wearing, an overly-large knitted red one with a golden H on the front. It was frayed, patchy in places, but she would play with the hem, sniff the collar sometimes. Lily whispered that it had been Harry’s, pulled from the depths of that bloody beaded bag one morning before Hermione had hurried to his crib and danced him around the bedroom.
Remus tried very hard to hide his jealousy of a toddler.
“Then where, Hermione? What do we do?”
“We keep them safe. We keep them secure until its almost over. He can’t know… and if we destroy them one at a time he’ll eventually feel it. October 31st of next year, Sirius will go to Hogwarts with Dumbledore and destroy them just before Voldemort arrives. Then it’ll be just him.”
“You mean to end him, don’t you?” Sirius’ voice was quiet, deadly, and there was a fierce glint in his eye.
Hermione turned her head to look at the grey-eyed man.
“I intend to burn him alive for what he’s done.”
Remus knew that she would, too. She would burn the world for Harry James Potter, and he would burn the world to ensure she got the chance.
“Its peppermint, supposed to be calming or some rubbish like that.”
Hermione was jerked from her thoughts by Lily’s gentle voice, merely a whisper to her left, and the soft chime of a teacup and saucer being placed on the coffee table. Lily settled on the couch next to her, gripping her own cup and staring out into the yard where the boys laughed with Harry, swooping him through the air, or holding him under the arms as Sirius carried him on his back in his animagus form.
Hermione leaned forward, lifting the china from the saucer and holding it in both hands on her lap. The heat seeped through the cup and into her hands, warming them pleasantly.
“Will you tell me?” Lily’s voice was still soft, patient. She was an excellent mother.
“Remus and I…” Hermione trailed off, staring down into the mug on her lap.
“Ah, I was wondering when you’d want to talk about that.’ Lily deftly pulled a flask of Ogden’s Finest from the waistband of her jeans and poured generous portions into both teacups before she reclined back in her seat, an expectant look on her face. ‘Well?”
Hermione cast her a sidelong look, briefly catching a glimpse of Ginny in the arched brow and smug expression on her new friend’s face. It made her heart twinge painfully.
“Theres always been this… I don’t know how to describe it, exactly… a connection? I suppose? He was our DADA professor in our third year and I already had a tendency to develop crushes on my teachers’ She looked at Lily, who had a wide eyes, excited look on her face ‘But that’s an entirely different story. Anyway, he was always kind to me… kind to everyone, really. When I figured out he was a werewolf, he was so good to Harry, so good in general, I kept my mouth shut. After everything that year… with Sirius, I mean… a Slytherin outed him and he resigned. But he always wrote me back, recommending books and offering advice. Then he got married and I told myself it was so irrational, so stupid to be upset. I should have been happy for him… and for Tonks, she had been at him long enough to come to his senses, and she was always kind to me… but I just… couldn’t. There was a hole in my chest and it was gaping and raw and I had no idea why. Then the Ministry fell and we were running, always running. Remus found us at Grimmauld Place months later, told us he wanted to come with us… offer his services. Said it was what James would have wanted. I thought he had Harry hook, line, and sinker with that line and I think he did too… probably almost did, but Harry saw through it. Tonks was pregnant and Harry called him a coward before he drove him off. The next time I saw him, he and Tonks were climbing into the Room of Requirement holding hands and beaming about Teddy. I had been unconscious when Remus found us and told us about the birth. Then, just before the battle, he… he shifted towards me.”
Lily had been listening intently, and confusion had marred her face at the final statement. “Shifted towards you?”
Hermione took a slow sip of tea, nodding and staring off at some unknown point on the wall.
“Yes. He took a step towards me, blocked the majority of my body from Snape. I always found it odd… but I never had time to question him about it. He and Tonks died and I felt him go. My chest exploded and then I was kissing Ron… anything to dull the ache, but my mind was reeling. And then I come back here and he’s young and whole and happy and suddenly I’m his mate? I just… he must have felt it in my time too.”
Lily rested her hand on Hermione’s squeezing slightly.
“Remus has never been close with a woman. Not emotionally, anyway. Have you… talked? Since your late night escapades?” Lily’s eyebrows waggled playfully, a smirk dancing across her features that caused Hermione to blush.
“No? But… you sleep with him every night?”
“I… I wait until he’s asleep and then go in. I— Lily, I don’t know what to say…”
Hermione lifted her eyes, an exasperated look on her face.
“We both know how this ends, Lily. Terrible things happen to those who play with time. I’m not… I don’t think I’ll make it out of this time alive.”
Lily couldn’t speak… wouldn’t speak. She refused to voice the concerns she had since Hermione’s arrival in their time. Saying it made it real, and Lily Potter refused to acknowledge this woman, who gave everything for her boy, wouldn’t get her happy ending. She gripped Hermione’s hand tighter, the silence between them heavy.
“You’ll be a wonderful mother to him, you know? He’ll be loved and safe and happy and thats all I’ve ever wanted.”
Lily tipped her head, using her fingers to raise Hermione’s chin so their eyes met.
“He would want you to be loved and safe and happy, you know. My son is… was… will be everything you’ve told us and I know he would want you to be happy, even if it cost him everything.”
Hermione smiled weakly, nodding.
“I know he would. I know. But he gave enough. Its someone else's turn now.”
Marlene McKinnon’s mutilated body was found a week later dumped just outside the gates of Hogwarts. Her family, who had been in hiding with her, had been killed quickly, but Marlene had information valuable to Voldemort’s plans. He tortured her for days, calling his Death Eaters to watch the poor girl suffer.
When Peter’s mark had burned Hermione quickly drank the vile potion down and went to the manor home that served as Voldemort’s base. The ballroom was void of all furniture, Death Eaters in dark hood stood along the walls staring into the centre of the room where Voldemort stood over Marlene’s crumpled body.
She cried and screamed for Peter to run, save himself, before she realized who had sold her to the Dark Lord. Voldemort’s laugh was high and mad as he watched the realization pass over her beautiful features, replacing to devastation with a righteous fury.
She screamed and clawed at the ground, trying to pull her half mangled body closer to Peter, to grip him, tear at him, destroy him. Peter, for his part, whimpered and cowered in the corner, as was expected of a cowardly traitor.
Marlene McKinnon died looking into Peter’s eyes. She didn’t die screaming. She died staring into his soul, branding it, memorizing it, so she could hunt him through all the hells that may exist.
Hermione fell into the chair across from Dumbledore’s desk, her head lolling into her hands as she tore her fingers through her hair, pulling roughly on the strands and grinding her teeth together.
She wanted it to go away. She didn’t want to see Marlene McKinnon’s eyes every time she closed her own. She didn’t want to relive how the girl had clawed her way across the marble floor, fingernails cracking as she fought her way towards the traitor.
“I know it is not easy, my dear, this burden. But it is one we must bare, for the sake of the world and everyone we love.”
She lifted her head, a coldness filling her eyes.
“There is no we, Albus.”
Hermione stood and left.
Sirius was drunk. Hermione was drunk. Remus had a harder time getting drunk, but he did his best. Lily was drunk. James was sober, but only because someone needed to be in their right mind if Harry woke up screaming, as he had recently started doing.
“I wuz go’na marry that witch.” Sirius slurred, head resting against the table. His left hand gripped a near empty bottle of Ogden’s.
He had been repeating that since news of Marlene’s death broke earlier that day, since he turned his eyes on Hermione and asked that burning question, the question she couldn’t answer without breaking down. Sirius had stormed from the room, threw open the liquor cabinet, and began the arduous process of drinking himself to death. Hermione was the second one to grab a bottle, chugging half its contents before slumping back in her chair. She hadn’t spoken.
“How d’you drink so much, Remmy? You’re st-hic-ill standin’ up straight ’n ev’rythin’.” Hermione’s eyes were half closed, her weight primarily supported by the werewolf as they stumbled down the hall to their bedroom.
Remus smiled down at the girl softly, taking pity on her and hoisting her into his arms. She shrieked, drunkenly gripping onto his neck as her head lolled back. Her eyes were glassy as she stared up at the popcorn ceiling.
“I’m bad, Remus. Bad, bad, bad. No good, Remmy. No good, nope’ She clicked her tongue as she reached a hand to run through Remus’ hair ‘Done some bad things, yes I have. I’m no’ she yawned loudly ‘no better than’ another yawn ‘Bellatrix.”
Remus set her on the bed, brushing her hair back from her face as he struggled to meet her eye.
“No Hermione, you’re good.” His voice carried such conviction, his gaze so fierce as it bore into her own.
She sighed, her hands flopping onto her shoulders as her gaze turned back up to the ceiling.
“Bad witch. I’m a bad witch, Remus. I’m dark… to dark fer you, Remmy. You des’rve a good witch! I’m not a good witch, Remmy. Done stuff… saw things… can’t even… stay here…”
Remus’ ears perked up, eyes widening slightly. He gripped her shoulders, shaking her lightly and pulling a sleepy groan from the girl.
“What do you mean you can’t stay here? Where would you go?”
Hermione giggled, eyes opening a crack as her fingers played with the ends of Remus’ hair.
“Terrible things hap’n to people playin’ with time, Remmy”
Chapter 13: The Plot
The following week ushered in November, along with the chill and damp that it brought. Severus always hated November the most. September brought school, which meant time away from him drunkard of a father. October brought with it Halloween and the candy that Severus would go to his grave denying his love for. December heralded in Christmas and, well, Severus may have been many things, but he was not a monster who denied the joy of Christmas.
November, though, was just a place holder. An irritating pest that brought dreadful weather and gloomy skies. No, Severus did not like November. Not one bit.
He had accepted a position at Hogwarts — Potions Master, to be precise — under the guise of infiltrating Dumbledore’s defences for the Dark Lord. Of course, Severus mused as he sloshed through the muck around the Black Lake, this was not the real reason, though the Dark Lord need not know.
Truly, Severus had turned cloak and ran after the Dark Lord decided it was Lily he wanted. Went right to Dumbledore, who bartered the information and a promise to protect his best friend against Severus’ services.
That was fine. Lily was alive, would remain alive. Severus didn’t want anything more than that.
And then the curly haired witch had been carried into the Hospital Wing completely unconscious. Only then had Dumbledore told him anything of significance — the woman was a future student, best friend of Lily’s son, she had come back because everything had gone horribly wrong.
Horribly wrong, he mused, kicking a stone as he turned his path back to the castle.
Lily would be dead this time next year if not for the witch and her untamed curls. Dumbledore’s promise did nothing, nothing to help her. Nothing to stop the train wreck Severus could see in his minds eye.
But the girl…
The girl would stop it.
His musings were interrupted and he rounded the corner of the Entrance Hall only to nearly collide with a halo of curls, and the small woman they belonged to. A small oof left the woman’s mouth and she teetered slightly onto her heels, prompting Severus to grip her upper arms tightly, steadying her.
“Speak of the Devil…”
“And he shall appear, sir.” Hermione Granger brushed off the jumper she wore under an oversized green jacket before meeting his eye — though he had to tilt her head back considerably to do so. “I apologize for not properly introducing myself before now, Professor. Hermione Granger.”
She thrust her hand out, staring up at him expectantly as she waited for him to reciprocate the gesture.
Severus merely raised an eyebrow at her. A small huff left the woman and she let her hand drop.
“Lovely to see that you won’t change too much in the coming years. Lets get on with it then.”
The chit had the nerve to turn on her heel and begin leading him to the dungeons. As if he needed her guidance.
“Come along, Professor. We haven’t much time to waste.”
Severus gaped slightly as she rounded the corner and began her decent before shaking his head sharply and stalking off after her. His robes got caught around his feet, tripping him slightly and Hermione Granger was too far ahead for him to see the slight smirk on her face as he struggled to maintain his balance.
She let herself into his office. She let herself into his office.
Severus was fuming. His lip curled in a snarl as he watched her pour herself a cup of tea and swipe a biscuit from the tray. She was completely oblivious to his presence, or pretending to be, as she settled herself into the high-backed chair behind the wide expanse of oak.
The desk was a mess. Papers were throw across its surface containing modified potions and new combinations for indigents. She lifted one page to her nose, scanning it quickly, before she set it down on the desk and picked up the quill laying to her right.
He stared at her, eyes gaping in complete disbelief, as she began jotting something down on one of the pages. He continued staring for a few seconds longer than he liked to admit.
“What are you doing, exactly?!” He tried, he tried so hard to maintain the cool exterior Hermione had come to know in her time. But he wasn’t quite there yet. Cracks of a kind-hearted, confused boy shun through the carefully erected walls he established.
“In this one. You’re looking to add monkshood before the spotted liver, not after. Before will give you the calming effect you’re looking for.’ Hermione finally turned her gaze to the dark figure still looming by the door ‘You get better at it, you know. This whole facade you’re trying to maintain.”
She had waved her hand at him in a general fashion, indicating his entire person.
“There is no facade, Miss Granger, I assure you.” He sneered, looking down at her with all the contempt he could muster. She may be his only hope, but she was making a nuisance of herself quickly.
She chuckled, leaning back in the chair and smoothing her hands along the surface of the desk, “You get better that that too. The Miss Granger bit, I don’t think it was quite as difficult for you then though. You only knew me as the Gryffindor know-it-all then. Now, though, you know me as the woman who is trying to save Lily. Was it difficult for you? To have put such blind faith in Dumbledore only to find his work did nothing?”
“So you say. How do I know you’re telling the truth though? Dumbledore claims to have looked through your mind and yet…”
Hermione felt him prod her mental shields and smiled at him over her teacup.
“I always thought that, if my hopes for the Ministry didn’t pan out as I planned, that I would want to do a potions apprenticeship. I wanted the apprenticeship with the best and, even though you hated me and made my life hell, I wanted to work with the best. You would have been my choice then and you’re my choice now.”
“You came to Hogwarts in the middle of term, interrupted me during a brief period of solitude, to train as a potions mistress?” His tone was incredulous, face twisted in confusion. Hermione only smiled softly.
“Severus, I am in need of assistance. Assistance no one but the best can provide.”
“Assistance.’ Hermione nodded gravely, “I have some things to show you.”
And he was pulled into her mind.
He saw everything, flying by in flashes. Dumbledore leaving a door unprotected, for three children to happen across in their search for an escape. Dumbledore allowing a 14 year old boy to participate in an incredibly dangerous tournament. Dumbledore watching as children trained for war without so much as a flicker of concern. Dumbledore leading Harry away by the shoulder to hunt a horcrux. Dumbledore leaving three 17 year old the riddles, but not the answers, for their fight ahead. Dumbledore telling Snape he raised a child for the slaughter.
Then he saw the war. The death and destruction was imaginable. The Dark Lord had conquered Wizarding Britain swiftly and brutally. He saw what awaited them, what awaited her.
Finally he saw the most recent official meeting, where Hermione Granger kneeled before the Dark Lord disguised as Peter Pettigrew and fed him the necessary information to find the McKinnons. The vision blurred before settling on Dumbledore, a younger version of the previous Dumbledore, the one from her time. Severus’ mind clung to the words he whispered to Hermione. The information she had just fed to the Dark Lord.
He clutched his chest, breathing heavily as she pushed him from her mind and slammed her shields back down.
“What was that?”, but he knew. In his heart, he knew exactly what it was.
Hermione didn’t answer, brushing over the topic instead. “I need your unique skillset, Severus. There are forces at play in this way beyond our enemy, and they work under our bloody noses.”
“You can’t expect me to—“
“I expect nothing. I hope your undying allegiance has shifted these last few months, perhaps more than once, but I expect nothing. I merely ask that you assist me in certain… matters when the time comes.”
“What kind of matters?” His voice nearly failed him and his response came as a whisper.
“I need you to become close with Regulus Black. He begins to doubt Voldemort in the coming months and I need to know when that happens. I’m hoping you might also be able to encourage it, if at all possible.”
“You want me to reveal my allegiance to him?” Hermione nodded deftly. “What else?”
“There are items — don’t ask me what they are, I will not tell you until I have your oath — items that need collecting. He can’t know about them. Not until its time.”
“He cannot be trusted, Severus, not wholeheartedly. I believe you know that now. He couldn’t save Lily, Severus, I did by coming back. She’d be gone without me.”
His eyes glazed at the thought of his best friend dead. Her green eyes vacant and unseeing, vibrant red hair somehow dimmed in the glow of death. He never thought her hair could dim.
“He asked for your allegiance. He asked you to do terrible things. All I’m asking for is your help in dealing with some things that are too sensitive for him to know about.”
Severus scanned the woman before him. Her face was a mask, completely cold and devoid of emotion. Her eyes stared into his own with a heavy intensity he had seen somewhere before.
But she saved Lily.
Hermione grinned and Severus realized he had seen the same look on the Dark Lord’s face.
Hermione strolled down the halls of Hogwarts, purposefully taking the long way to the 7th floor. Fred died less than 50 feet from the entrance to the Room of Requirement. She couldn’t walk past there, not right now.
She was counting her steps, the turns, the classrooms, anything to keep herself distracted and disengaged. She didn’t want to look around and see the bodies of her friends, classmates, and fellow soldiers.
When she crested the top of the final staircase she took a sharp right, not turning her head to the left at all as she passed the alcove where Lavender had been ravaged. Sirius and Remus were just ahead. She could make it.
A movement in the corner of her eye caught her attention and she head swivelled towards the familiar red hair. Ron and Ginny jogged towards her with brilliant smiles splitting their faces. Her senses left her and all she could see where her friends. They came closer, she moved towards them. With each inch she could see them better, more details coming over their features.
And then… the stench of burnt flesh. The screaming and sobbing of Mrs Weasley. Ginny spitting in the face of the Death Eater who tied her to the stake.
Hermione looked at them closer. The red hair wasn’t hair at all, but flames burning away the strands. Their faces, once flawlessly pale, were blistered and burning red in some parts. But it was their hands and lower bodies that had Hermione choking back a scream and stumbling back into strong arms.
They were charred pits of bone, just as they had been when she collected the largest pieces she could find and deposited them in a single grave.
She clung to Remus, taking in deep, shaky breaths. Her face was buried in his sweater, his scent surrounding her. Hermione’s hand gripped his sides, anchoring herself.
The past, Hermione. You’re in the past. It sounded like Harry.
Remus stroked her hair, whispering in her ear that she was alright, she was safe.
Not safe. Not safe. Never safe. That sounded like her.
Hermione tore herself out of his arms, eyes wide and mouth gaping. She whirled around, wand trained at the spot where Ron and Ginny had just stood. There was no one there.
Sirius had his wand out a second later, pointing down the corridor to the left, Remus’ was already out and trained in the opposite direction.
“What was it?”
Sirius hadn’t spoken to her before now, not in the week since Marlene’s body was found. James and Lily said he needed time and Hermione was willing to give him that. Remus… well, that was a whole other issue. One she didn’t have the stamina to deal with at the moment.
“I thought I saw… Nevermind.” Her wand dropped and, casting one final look down the hall, Hermione spun around, marching to the Room of Requirement. Her two sidekicks trailed behind her quietly, though they kept shooting uncertain glances every few paces.
That was fine. Hermione knew the Marauders were skeptical that she knew another Hogwarts secret, one that they hadn’t even known to look for, but she didn’t anticipate the looks in their eyes as they watched her pace back and forth in front of a blank stretch of wall.
“Hermione, what are you…” Remus’ unfinished question hung in the air as a door materialized where there was once solid stone. Hermione turned her head, reaching for the handle as she did.
“This is the room of requirement, gentlemen” and with a flourish, she threw open the door.
The sight that greeted the two Marauders made their jaws drop. An entire room — a room! — magically hidden. It was astounding. And the items in that room — well, that fell a bit flat, if they were being completely honest.
“Erm, Hermione?’ Sirius ducked under a coat rack, following her confident footsteps through the towering piles of junk, ‘what is all this?”
She didn’t turn as she responded, “This is the room of forgotten things. The school’s magic, when things need disposing of they come here.”
“And you think Voldemort put a horcrux amongst a pile of junk?” Remus’ tone was incredulous, a bit mocking really.
Hermione spun on her heel, hair a whirlwind around her and eyes blazing at the werewolf. “I know he did, Remus.”
Remus couldn’t pinpoint what it was in her gaze that had him nodding sharply and turning his eyes towards the floor, but he knew it burned his soul to see that look in her eyes.
They picked their way through the piles, navigating a vague path that Hermione seemed to know by heart. Finally, finally, Remus felt a tug at the base of his stomach. He pushed ahead, slipping past Hermione and down the right fork ahead of them. There, it was there. His eyes glazed over, turning amber as he frantically looked for the source of the tugging, the nagging.
Then he found it.
A diadem, resplendent with sapphires and diamonds forming the shape of an eagle, was perched precariously atop a mannequin. He moved to grab it.
But he was frozen.
He pushed against the force keeping him there, Moony attempting to claw his way free and to the object. He wanted it. Needed it.
“I’m sorry, Remus.’ Hermione spoke softly as she pushed past him and stared up at the piece of finery, ‘I can’t let you touch it.”
He growled, actually growled at her, his mate.
“Get ahold of yourself, Remus.” Hermione’s voice was clipped, entirely unimpressed with his current predicament. She reached up, gripping the cabinet to her right as she did, and grabbed the tiara. Quick as lightening she had produced a box from her beaded bag, waved her wand over it, and placed the tiara inside before sealing the box shut once more.
Remus felt the fog lift. He blinked, once, twice, at Hermione before giving her a short nod. He was in control again.
“Its dark magic, Remus. It calls to Moony on some level. He wants it, doesn’t he?”
“I… I needed it.” Remus’ voice was gravelly, as if he hadn’t spoken in weeks, or had been screaming.
Hermione only nodded, placing a hand lightly on her shoulder. She removed her hadn't quickly, though, and turned back to the cabinet.
“While we’re here…” She raised her wand and fire erupted, engulfing the cabinet.
“You got it?” James met them at the front door, Harry balanced on his hip.
“We got it, mate.” Sirius clapped James on the shoulder, nuzzled against Harry, and moved into the living room to drown himself in Firewhiskey.
Hermione stepped into the house and discarded her coat and boots before she followed Sirius. She reached him as he finally unstopped the latest flask, but her reflexes were fast. She grabbed the bottle from him, threw open the window, and upended it into the flower bed outside.
Sirius’ shout of rage startled Harry, prompting the boy to burst into tears that James would have to soothe later.
“You can’t keep doing this to yourself.” Hermione’s voice was firm, the tone she would use with the boys when they needed to finish their Potions homework before taking to the pitch.
“You did this to me.” Sirius snarled, looking up at her from under his lashes.
“She died either way, Sirius. I know it hurts—“
“You don’t know anything!” Sirius exploded, standing so quickly the chair upended. Sirius Black was erratic, an unstoppable force in his grief.
“I know better than you care to remember, Sirius.” Deadly quiet, completely calm. Hermione Granger was a mountain, standing firm. “I’ve lost everyone. Everyone, Sirius. Don’t act like I can’t understand.”
“Were you going to marry one of them?” The snarling was back and Hermione realized it was Remus, being kept out of the scuffle by Lily.
“Maybe.” Silence. Complete and utter silence. “We didn’t have time to explore that… anything like that, really.”
They stared at each other.
This, James thought, is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.
“I understand your grief better than anyone here, Sirius. I understand it. But you’ve lived through this once before, so I know you can do it again.”
Sirius sagged, his shoulders shook and tears streamed down his face.
“I don’t know how, Hermione.”
Hermione moved on instinct, crossing the room and wrapping her arms around the sobbing man. She stroked his hair as he fell apart in her arms.
“You just keep moving, Sirius. That’s all any of us can do.”
Two weeks later saw the final week of November arriving. The winds battered the small house from all sides, but inside the occupants were battering against each other.
Hermione and Remus avoided one another — like the sun and moon — only coming together on brief occasions that resulted in all the light being snuffed from the room.
They fought constantly. Screamed at one another until Hermione’s hair was crackling with magic and Remus stalked off to gripe and snarl over whatever petty argument they had had.
They slept entwined with one another each night. Hermione, as she had been doing since their first night together, would wait until the house was asleep before toeing open Remus’ door and slipping under the covers and into his arms
It was a confusing dynamic, one that had Lily leaning over a strong cup of coffee in the early hours of the morning.
“You want him.” Hermione was sitting across from her, head in her hands and breathing in the calming scent of roasted coffee beans.
“Yes.” She supplied weakly, eyes looking up through her lashes at the redhead.
“And you’re worried about what this means with everything else…”
“Well, it seems you’ve got yourself into quite a pickle.” Lily chuckled softly, her laugh morphing into something that resembled a Santa Claus at one of the muggle malls as Hermione’s glare fixated on her.
“Well you tell me what I should be doing, oh wise romantic guru. Go on.” Hermione had leaned back in her chair now, arms crossed over her chest.
Lily picked up her mug, coming around the table to sit next to her new friend.
“I spent 2 years denying my feelings for James.” Her fingers played with the edge of her mug, her mind lost in memories of happier, simpler times.
“And you don’t think I should waste whatever time I have with him…”
“I think you should let him in. Talk to him. You can talk to all of us, but I know you’re always worried about our reactions. If there is anyone you can open up to about everything… it’ll be him.”
Hermione sipped her coffee, nearly burning her tongue as she swished it in her mouth to buy herself time.
Remus was always someone she could talk to, even when they hadn’t been aware of this… force pushing them together. Maybe…
“We need to talk.” Remus’ voice was low, a rumble in his chest, and coming from directly behind her. She turned her head, glancing over her shoulder, and swallowed the mouthful of coffee.
“So talk.” Damnit. Every time she tried to speak to him… actually have a conversation with the man who was once a close confidant… it was like walls shot up. Hermione Granger knew many things, many, many things. But, in her lifetime it seemed she had pushed unnecessary skills like tact and a sweet disposition to the wayside. Now she was cold, harsh, direct in everything she did.
She saw the flash of hurt in Remus’ eyes before he rose to the challenge.
“Why do you do this, Hermione?” His bark stung, narrowing in on the one question she herself could not, or would not, answer. “Why do you shut me out? I just… I just want to talk” By the end of his statement his voice was merely a whisper, sinking into her body and weighing in her stomach like lead.
“Why do you incessantly try to get in is the better question, Remus. One would think that you’d have gotten the hint by now.” Her tone was cold and she could have hit herself.
Remus was silent for a beat, two and then a heavy sigh, filled with exhaustion.
“Fine, Hermione. I’ll leave you be.”
Hermione didn’t turn as he left the room, merely peered into her coffee mug once more. Lily’s harsh breath of air shook her from her revere, forcing her to lock eyes with the redhead.
“Well, that could have gone better.”
“You think? I don’t know how to do this Lily… I never did even before the war. How am I supposed to do this now?”
Lily wrapped her arm around her friend’s shoulders, tucking her into her side tightly.
“You keep moving, Hermione, but I think you’ve forgotten that moving isn't enough in life. Going through the motions will never be enough. You need to try, Hermione, and if you crash and burn then we’ll be here to put you back together. But you need to try.”
Hermione rested her head on her friend’s shoulder, gripping the mug tightly in her hands as she thought on all that trying might entail. There were so many demons living in her mind now. So many facets of her very self that she never imagined could exist now made up a substantial part of her psyche. Opening up about that… any of it… it was unthinkable.
Hermione didn’t crawl into bed with Remus that night, nor for the rest of November.
Useless month, really, she thought as she drifted to sleep that one only to scream herself awake hours later.
Chapter 14: The Book
I'm sorry I've been so MIA!! Here's an exceptionally long chapter that I've been working on all semester. Hope you like it!
“I want to know about you.”
Remus’ head lifted from the novel in his lap, his eyes darting from the printed words to the muggleborn witch fidgeting in the doorway. One look at her standing there, wringing her hands and worrying her lip, had him desperate to cling to her. But Hermione was, for lack of a better comparison, like an injured animal. Approaching too quickly, eagerly, would send her skittering away or, even worse, rile her enough that she would pick a fight.
He wasn’t interested in either of those options, not after what happened last month. Everything had been going so well… granted, she didn’t really give information about herself freely — about Harry, about Regulus, about the future, yes — but never herself. If Remus thought long and hard, he might be able to make a guess at her favourite colour. But it’d be a blind guess, and likely not correct at all, because of Hermione Granger — what made her, her — was an enigma to them all.
And Remus wanted that information. He wanted to know everything about her. He wanted her to give him all the information he could ever want, need, and then give him more. He wanted to tell her everything, too. Wanted her to trail her hands over each and every scar while he told her how he got each of them. He wanted to tell her about his father, his mother, their constant fear (though their fear was for wildly different reasons, he realized years later).
He didn’t want secrets from her, from his mate. But she needed to want the same thing… and Remus was not about to push her for anything more than she was willing to give.
He raised a sardonic eyebrow at her. She began to crack the knuckles on his left hand, methodically, he realized. Base, middle, tip. Base, middle, tip. On and on it went, from her pinky finger to the thumb and then to the other hand.
“And I want you to know about me.”
It was everything he wanted, standing right there and tied up with a pretty red ribbon. He patted the bed beside him and shifting over a few inches, giving her enough room to cross the space between the door and the bed in three quick strides and settle beside him, perched on her knees as if she was ready to take flight at any moment.
“Tea?” She nodded and Remus raised his wand, giving it a lazy flick before a tea service appeared at the foot of the bed.
“How did you…? Food is the—“
“First principles of exceptions to Gamp’s Law, I know.”
“So how did you…?”
Remus sent a lazy smile her way, and he hoped it was lust that he saw bloom in her eyes. Adoration, maybe. He wouldn’t hope for more, wouldn’t hope to ever see love blossom in her eyes when she looked at him. The thought of letting himself think about it and then it never coming to fruition hurt deep in his chest so… no.
“I had it already prepared in the kitchen.” he laughed softly, nervously, as colour spreading across his cheeks. One hand rose, letting go of his book completely, and rubbed the back of his neck.
Hermione’s face broke into a wide grin, eyes dancing. “You… knew I wanted to talk to you?”
“Oh Merlin no!’ Remus’ exclamation was loud, louder than he expected, and he quickly adjusted his volume. ‘But I hoped… I’ve… well, I’ve been preparing extra tea every day… just in case, you understand.”
Hermione’s smile widened, a glint in her eye as she took in Remus’ nervous expression. “You were waiting for me”, her smile dimmed a fraction, ‘I don’t think anyone’s ever waited for me. It… its incredibly sweet.”
They stared at each other for a moment, the world falling away as they took one another in. There was a connection, Hermione felt it, running between them. She could feel him when she tried, just as she could see him with her own two eyes. His emotions would barrel down that chord between them and tug hard at her heartstrings. She wondered if this was the bond between mates.
Accurate depictions of lycanthropy were few and far between, adequate coverage of their mating process was even less reliable, but there had been a few books, scavenged from old family libraries and Grimmauld Place, that spoke of the bond between mates.
Only true mates, a partner that both the wolf and man could recognize as their other half — the part of the soul that joined the two halves, experienced such a phenomenon. Theoretically, Hermione supposed, the bond could work as a connection, a bridge, between the two entities. Practice, she thought, it’ll need practice.
It could prove a reliable channel in the coming months.
Hermione stopped. This wasn’t the time.
“I think of everything like I’m marching off to war in the morning. Everything, every day. I assess it, and I catalogue it based on its use to me. To what I need to do.”
Remus only stared back at her, his gaze unbroken. He may not have understood — the war was just beginning here and, while Remus had killed, he hadn’t done the things she had done, survived the way she survived — but he could sit there and listen to her. Give her the time she needed to wade through the tsunami of thoughts and emotions inside her mind.
His hand moved slowly, reaching to her knee and gripping the slight, tanned, fingers between his own. He squeezed it once.
Hermione felt the tidal wave break in her as his hand clung to her own. He would be her life preserver, for now. The one she could cling to in these quiet moments when her reality came flooding back, threatening to drown her in her grief, her sorrow. He wouldn’t let her give into her desire to let herself be drowned, and not just because she was instrumental to the plan, but because she didn’t want to let herself drown, no matter how much she wanted to stop fighting it.
And she told him everything. Her family, the vacations they took, the story of her first case of accidental magic in a small restaurant in Paris had him roaring with laughter. She told him about Hogwarts, everything, not just the monumental things like fighting the troll and being petrified, but how it felt when Harry and Ron would ignore her for months on end and how much fun they had throwing snow at one another in Hogsmeade.
When she got to the war, she didn’t focus on every strategic point she could think on, but on how it felt when someone died by her hand and how she had been shaking herself from sleep the past week because when she woke she didn’t know where she was or when she was.
He told her everything, too. He told her about the family he remembered from before the attack, and how it never really fit after his bite. His father, a devoted father prior to Remus’ transformation, began to drink heavily and ignore his son entirely. Hope Lupin, on the other hand, was devastated over the pain her son went through and was constantly terrified for his safety. It devastated young Remus, though, to have an absent father and a mother who shook when he entered the room.
Hermione smiled at him softly, gripping his hand as he had done for her.
He told her of Hogwarts, of finding friends and, later, a new family. She bristled at the pranks they pulled but laughed loudly when he told her of Christmas’ spent with the Marauders at Potter Manor.
He told her of his hopes and dreams, she told him about S.P.E.W. and the work she wanted to do for magical creatures. He could have kissed her when she finished her tirade about the barbaric treatment of werewolves, the outrageous markup on Wolfsbane, and how — if she had her way — the whole system would have been abolished long ago.
“I… I want to try. Whatever this is… I want it… with you.” Hermione’s voice was soft now, unsure.
Remus felt his chest explode, it was a good feeling.
“I want that too, Hermione.”
“Right then… so… we’re… I don’t actually know what I’m supposed to do now?”
“Well, we’ve honestly gone about this quite backwards from how I understand most couples do it… not that I’ve met many, of course, but—“
“What do you mean?”
Remus forgot that, for all Hermione’s brilliance and knowledge, she hadn’t lived amongst them. “Well… I’ve only met one other mated couple, but they’ve known others in their time. Most acknowledge the mating prior to sealing it, but when—“
“What do you mean sealing it?”
Remus gave her a pointed look, “If you’d let me finish, love, I’ll tell you.”
Hermione gave him a look, one full of sheer stubbornness, but settled in for the information nonetheless. Remus twisted his hands nervously.
“When you —” He gestured vaguely to his neck.
“Bit you. You can say it, Remus” She giggled softly at his flushed face, and his great soared.
“Well, humph, yes. When you bit me, you… on some primal level, acknowledged the bond. When you bit me… Hermione there was no one else for me after that. You… you still have a choice in this though. I haven’t bitten you. You can still walk away whenever you choose, but… once I bite you, we’ll be connected. Forever.”
Hermione sat silently for a moment, cataloguing the information. “So… since I bit you… your end of the bond is established?’ Remus nodded ‘but mine isn’t?”
“Not yet, no. And it won’t be until you want it to be… if you ever want it to be.
Hermione stared up at him. She could love this man. She could, easily. On some level she already did. She would die for him, without question… if that wasn’t love, Hermione didn’t know what was.
“I… I want to try this… with you, Remus. And… if I ever do want the bond, I want you to know that there will be no walking away for me either.”
Remus smiled softly at her, long arms reaching over and tugging her firmly to his side. Her arms wrapped around him and she clung to his form, breathing in his scent.
It was hours later, the tea service long since vanished back to the kitchen, when Hermione looked away from Remus’ face, from his eyes, and fixed her gaze on the book he had been reading when she entered.
It was a hardcover, soft green wrapping around the bindings. There was no title on the front, which made Hermione think it had a paper wrapping poked away somewhere. Her hand moved towards it, wrapping around the soft binding as Remus moved to grab the book back. She was faster, though, pulling it away and dancing off the bed, out of his reach. She looked at the side face, at the title there and —
“You’re reading a werewolf romance novel, Remus?” Hermione’s face was split wide with her grin, her eyes were dancing, and Remus didn’t think she had ever looked for beautiful.
“I —“ His face flushed bright red, a small smile dancing on his lips as she laughed out loud. He heard that sound so often tonight, it was a sound he would never grow tired of.
“You give Lily all that grief, you and Sirius both, and you’re sitting up here reading about Giselle and Lucian, hm? Looking for pointers, then?”
He laughed loudly, winking at the witch standing between him and the door.
“I don’t recall you complaining.”
Hermione’s mouth gaped open, fond indignation rising over her features. She gripped the book tightly, smirking in his direction.
“Oh James!” She sang out, loudly enough for their friends to hear from their places at the bottom of the stairs.
“No!” Remus lunged out of the bed, tripping over his feet in his haste. Hermione merely winked at him and danced out the door and down the hall, rounding the stairs with the book held high above her head.
“Look what I’ve got here!”
Remus darted after, laughing loudly all the way.
Muggle Christmas tunes played loudly over the radio. Sirius was singing “God Bless Ye Merry Hippogriff” poorly as he moved from room to room decorating the house with ghastly garland and glittering lights. Hermione, for her part, hadn’t lost herself in memories of her Christmas at Grimmauld Place. Instead, she was curled into Remus’ side, clutching a mug of steaming hot cocoa and watching a 5-month hold Harry playing on the floor near the Christmas tree.
Lily’s cat, Smoosh, was slinking around the corner. The cat had already been batted away from the tree 3 times, but Hermione was secretly rooting for her. She missed Crookshanks more than she could put into words. The old half-kneazle had survived so much in its long life… she didn’t even know what had happened to him after the war. She hoped he was safe…
“Hermione!’ Lily called from where she was stringing popcorn onto the tree ‘come help me!”
Hermione chuckled softly and handed her cup to Remus as she stood to make her way to her friend. Lily hip checked her gently when she took her place next to the redhead, accepting the offered strings of popcorn.
“You both look happy” The redhead was grinning madly, a delighted glint in her eye
Christmas Eve had always been Hermione’s favourite time of year. The boys, when they hadn’t been fighting with her, had always been especially nice around this time. Usually, because Hermione always gave them the best presents, but they were nice all the same.
Hermione was currently settled on the floor before the Christmas tree, her hands were wrapped tightly around baby Harry’s middle as he hovered on the toy broom Sirius had procured.
“He’s a baby, Sirius!” Lily had scolded as her husband tore open the box and began setting up the broom to support Harry.
“He’s going the be the youngest seeker in a century, Lils! We’ve got to start him young!”
Lily had looked to Hermione then, hands settled on her hips waiting for her friend to weigh in on how unsafe this would be for her baby best friend. But Hermione was already waving her wand around the toy, helping James add more protective charms and spells than he currently had in his arsenal.
“Looks like I won this round, Evans” Sirius had whispered.
He had spent the next few hours in his animagius form limping from room to room whining softly whenever he put his weight on the arm Lily had punched.
It was midnight before Sirius finally changed back, prompted primarily by the Firewhiskey James has procured from somewhere Hermione refused to guess on and the challenge that James and Sirius could easily drink Remus under the table. Remus whispered about the time in 7th year when James had hid a small flask of the stuff in a place where the sun didn’t shine and Hermione immediately elected to join Lily as she sipped her glass of wine.
The boys laughed loudly, the reverse silencing charms around the room sufficient to ensure little Harry wouldn’t be bothered by their rowdiness, and poured up shot after shot for one another. Hermione smiled over the rim of her glass, watching as Remus’ eyes remained clear and bright, his hands strong and steady as he threw back shot after shot. James and Sirius, on the other hand, were an entirely different story.
“They do know that Remus has a high tolerance for alcohol, right?” Hermione whispered to Lily, her eyes never leaving the golden-haired man. His eyes slid to her, and a smirk played across his lips as he downed another shot. He slammed the small glass on the table and winked at her. Moony. Moony was coming out to play tonight.
“Oh they know. They haven't gotten him properly plastered since the wedding, and never before that. They’re just too stubborn to admit that by the time he’s drunk, they won’t be able to feel their faces.” Lily sipped daintily at her wine, a sly smirk playing across her features “Pity its James’ turn to rise with Harry in the morning, isn’t it?”
Hermione threw her head back, laughing. She hadn’t been rising with the sun for a month now, though she had still been taking care of Harry’s middle of the night feedings. She was awake every 3 hours anyway. It worked out well for everyone, honestly.
“OI!” Sirius slurred, pointing at the two woman “Why aren’t you two drinking with us?”
Hermione sent Lily an amused glance as the two rose from their places on the love seat, moving to their respective partners and sliding into their laps. Hermione’s fingers played with the ends of Remus’ hair, his hand settled low on her hip. His mouth was hot as it ghosted over her neck, a low whine rising from his throat.
Hermione reached across the table, plucking the shot from Sirius’ fingers and throwing it back. Her throat burned and her eyes watered, but she relished the feeling. She felt alive. The glass slammed down on the table, her smile was a mile wide as she leaned into Remus, planting a kiss firmly on his cheek before she turned back to the raven-haired wizard.
“I’ve apparently got some catching up to do, boys.”
Sirius laughed loudly, pouring her another and sliding it across the table into her waiting hand before he turned to Lily.
Hermione saw the irritation flash in Lily’s eyes. Her friend threw back the remaining wine in her glass with one hand, flicking the fingers on her other at the same time. The shot that Sirius had just poured flew back across the table and into Lily’s waiting fingers. She threw it back quickly, sighing loudly at the burn, before handing it back to Sirius.
“I suppose I’ve got to show you babies how its really done, don’t I?”
The next morning dawned bright, too bright. Hermione groaned and buried her face further in Remus’ neck.
Her mate, for his part, chuckled loudly at her misfortune before flicking his wrist at the drapes, snapping them shut with a muffled crack. Again, Hermione groaned.
“Merry Christmas, love” He plopped a kiss on top of her curls, breathing in the scent of her. “I’ll get you a potion, yeah?”
She nodded weakly, burying her face in the pillow and stifling another groan.
Remus rose, grabbing a shirt from the floor as he did, and made his way to the door. The rest of the house was silent. Harry was too young to know what today was and, mercifully, hadn’t woken the adults yet. Remus pushed his hair back over his forehead with one hand as he trudged down the hall. Being a werewolf had some perks, he supposed. Being able to drink everyone under the table was one of those.
He opened Harry’s door and saw the small boy standing in his crib, clutching the railing and waving his other hand happily at his Uncle Moony.
“‘Lo, pup” Remus’ voice was still gravelly from sleep, but Harry’s face lit up, his hands making grabby motions at the older man. “I know, pup. I know. Time for breakfast. Let's get everyone potions first, huh?”
Remus lifted Harry, balancing him on one hip as he moved silently through the house to the kitchen. Plopping Harry down in his high chair, Remus moved to the potions cabinet and collected four hangover potions. Harry’s indignant shriek let him know that the child was not content to sit idly by as his uncle distributed the potions, so Remus plucked the child from his seat and moved, the potions clutched in one hand, back upstairs.
He knocked on each door, Lily and James’, Sirius’, and left their potions outside the frame before moving to his own room.
Hermione’s hair was massive and Harry’s eyes immediately lit up, his hands making grabby motions as the duo approached the bed.
“‘Mione, wake up love” Remus placed Harry gently on bed before he sat near Hermione’s hip, shaking her sleeping form lightly. Her groan was the only reply. “I’ve got your potion”
A hand reached up, shaking aggressively at him until he placed the unstoppered bottle in her hand. Immediately the hand disappeared back into the pile of blankets as Hermione swallowed it down.
The groan that followed sent a stabbing pain through Remus’ heart. He clutched her calf, watching as Harry crawled up the blankets and onto Hermione’s backside.
“Harry,” she said, as she manoeuvred her way out of the blanket fort she had made for herself and swooped the child up in her arms “you’ve never been that close to my bum, and you never will, young man”
Remus chuckled softly, plopping a kiss on Hermione’s head before putting his face close to Harry’s. “I don’t think I could compete with you, pup. I’m gonna need you to not make this more difficult for me, okay mate?”
Harry’s answer giggle and Hermione’s bark of laughter sent a pleasant shock through Remus. He had never imagined this, any of it. The war, a family, being… happy despite it all. And Hermione…
She lit up his life.
“Come on then, boys. I reckon there are some presents downstairs for Harry, hmm? Father Christmas couldn’t possibly forget someone as adorable as you!” Hermione nuzzled Harry’s nose with her own and Remus could tell by the flicker of pain that fell across her face that she was remembering something of her Harry. He reached across the bed and gripped her hand, pulling her up and smiling softly at her. She met his eyes, matched his soft smile and gave him a little nod before she left the room.
She wasn’t okay, but she was healing. She didn’t have nightmares as often anymore. She rarely got that look on her face anymore, the one that broke Remus’ heart into a thousand pieces. She rarely spoke of it when Remus would catch her staring off into space, her fingers idly stroking her wand. It looked like she was having a conversation with herself or with someone in her own mind. But she smiled more often, took great joy in playing with Harry and laughing with the Marauders and attempting to bake with Lily. Remus supposed that was all he could hope for.
They were all huddled around the tree, each gripping cups of coffee as James helped Harry tear through wrapping paper until there was a large pile pushed against one side of the tree. Harry let out delighted shrieks as James lifted him around the room, showing him all his spoils.
Oddly though, there were very few wizard toys. Hermione carefully looked at each item from her spot curled against Remus’ arm. There was the jolly jumper she had purchased some weeks ago in muggle London. Sirius had gotten the boy an array of toys, both educational and merely for fun, which surprised Hermione the most.
“Muggles have cool stuff” Sirius remarked with a dismissive shrug of his shoulders, but there was something there. Something just behind his eyes that Hermione was sure reflected back at him through hers.
He was alone for so long, Sirius had said in one of his drunken ramblings shortly after Marlene had killed, and even after I couldn’t help him.
Hermione looked away from the dark haired man before anyone noticed their lingering glance. She painted a big smile on her face, laughing merrily as James tried to pull Harry away from the books Sirius had gifted him and towards the baby-sized toy broom.
“Potter, if one hair on my son’s head is out of place you won’t be able to sit for a week!” Lily had a death grip on her mug, eyes trained on Harry as James settled him in the padded seat of the broom.
“It’s the nursery model, Evans! Relax a bit, won’t you?” James shoved his hand through his hair and sighed loudly as Harry shrieked loudly and reached his chubby arms towards the books again. His fingers were making grabby hands when one of the books slowly floated from deep within the pile. Hermione stood, smiling broadly at the baby.
“Would you like a story Harry? I’ve been telling you for nearly 10 years that Quidditch is dangerous and now you finally start listening, hm?” She reached down and scooped the giggling baby into her arms as the boys squeaked their offence at her remarks.
“QUIDDITCH IS AN INSTITUTION!”, “YOUNGEST SEEKER IN A CENTURY, HERMIONE!”
Hermione chucked, making a face at the baby in her arms as she settled against Remus again. The book was still floating towards her, albeit slowly, when Remus put his lips close to her ear and whispered: “you know I play a mean chaser?”
Smoothly, without taking her eyes off the baby in her arms, Hermione cocked one eyebrow at the werewolf next to her.
“Really? I couldn’t tell by the way you were chasing my tale for the past few months.”
Amused shouts left the boys while Lily nearly spat her tea across the room. Remus narrowed his eyes at the witch, softly pinching the skin near her hip. A silent promise.
Harry’s magic had finally settled the book before Hermione, but when her attention turned to it she could only feel her chest constricting. The edges of her vision went dark and she couldn’t breathe. There wasn’t enough air, never enough air. She was weak, the beatings made her so weak. The lashes on her back stung. She smelled burning flesh, watched the walls of Hogwarts, her home, crumble. She saw the light drain from Harry’s eyes and through it all, through all the fog and screams, the flashes of green light sending the lifeless bodies of her friends to the ground, there was that damn book. The Tales of the Beadle and the Bard.
Remus felt something change in her before he saw the shadow fall over her face and had the forethought to snatch Harry from his mate’s arms. Her hands never moved though, still wrapped around an invisible baby. The pages of the book lying in her lap caught fire and burned. The fire swirled up, up, up, taking the pages with it. Hermione’s hair was sparking with electricity and the vacant look in her eyes told him she was not there in the cottage with them anymore.
Silently Remus rose and handed Lily her son, shuffling her out of the room, keeping himself between the duo and Hermione at all times. Harry was shrieking, his tiny face screwed up and fists flailing.
Hermione’s head snapped to him, but her eyes were unseeing. Her face was blank and where a smile had danced across her mouth before, there was a feral snarl. The fire was still burning bright, and James was battling back into the fireplace. Sirius moved to stand next to Remus, both men moving slowly with their hands well away from their wands.
Hermione wasn’t Hermione anymore. Hermione was a war-hardened soldier. She tortured when the situation required it. She dealt with black magic. She killed without mercy.
And her wrath was turned on them.
Death Eaters. Four. One preoccupied. Two standing between her and Harry. One holding Harry.
Protect him. Protect him. Protect him.
She didn’t recognize where she was, but she heard him and she would recognize Harry’s screams anywhere. She quickly stunned the one battling her fire, she’d keep him for questioning. How did they find them? They hadn’t used Voldemort’s name in months…
The other two pulled their wands. Their stances were inexperienced. They broadcasted their next move on their faces too clearly. This wouldn’t be difficult.
They knew her name. They were screaming at her as she sent curses and jinxes at such a rapid-fire pace, it clearly took everything they had to deflect. They weren’t capable of offence attacks, and any attempt would open them up to one of her, for more painful, curses.
Hermione was focused, in her element. This was what she had trained for. Moody. Lupin. Black. Dumbledore. She is Harry’s protector. Harry lives. Harry lives. Harry lives.
Harry… that was Harry. But he was screaming. She could still hear him. He was screaming for her.
Its okay, Mione. I’m okay.
Her curses were still leaving her wand rapidly. She was blasting apart furniture as the Death Eaters dodged behind it. She wanted to bring the whole decrepit house down on top of them. End it all. She would do it too, if only she knew where Harry was and could shield him long enough for the debris to take care of the Death Eaters. She…
A whispered jinx. A sharp pain right between her shoulder blades. Her vision flickered. The house wasn’t decrepit at all. The walls were a cheerful yellow. The Christmas lights twinkled and ashes of book and wrapping paper fell around them like snow.
Hermione’s vision narrowed to a beautiful red head. Ginny. Hermione fell into the darkness.
“What the bloody hell was that?!” Sirius was lying on his back, arms splayed at his sides and hair singed short on one side where he had barely dodged one Hermione’s curses.
Lily leaned over Hermione, feeling at the woman’s neck. Remus was staring intently at his mate’s face, shock, awe, and fear dancing across his face.
“She’s alive.” Lily looked up at the duo “I already checked James… she stunned him. But she was cursing you two to kill… what happened?”
Remus locked eyes with the redhead. “It was the book. I’m sure of it.”
“The book? Bu-“ Lily’s face was confused, but Sirius cut her off before she could finish.
“You mean to tell me all THAT was over a ruddy book?! Jesus, I’d hate to see her when she’s actually got motivation.” His head thudded against the floorboards as he fell back against them, eyes trained on the ceiling.
“It… I can’t explain it, okay? She saw the book and I felt it in her. There was a shift. She wasn’t here anymore. I don’t think she recognized any of us…”
Lily looked stricken, her eyes moved back to the girl lying on her living room floor.
“She’s a soldier.” She whispered.
“That much is obvious, Evans. Put your brilliant mind to the task and that's what you come up with? How were you top in our year?” Sirius’ sardonic comments continued, though neither Lily nor Remus was listening.
“She’s a soldier. She told us. She told us she’s been training since she was 11 for a war and everything she does is to protect Harry. There was one night, when she first arrived, I heard Harry crying and took a few minutes to get to him. She was already there though, running her fingers through his hair and twirling him around the floor. I… I asked her why she was here and she looked at me. I’ve never seen… never seen determination like that. Conviction. Devotion. ‘Harry lives’ that's what she told me. If that book prompted this… then it was enough to make her think Harry was in danger.”
Lily turned to her friends, the sounds of her husband shuffling to his feet echoed behind her.
“I think there is something she’s not telling us.”
Hermione woke hours later. Her mind felt foggy. Her limbs were heavy. She… she couldn’t move her arms. She couldn’t move her legs.
“I’m sorry about the ties, Mione.” Sirius was the one speaking and, once her vision cleared enough to see properly, she turned her furious gaze on him.
“Who the bloody hell do you think you are Sirius Orion Black? You will untie me this second or so help me — what happened to your hair?”
Sirius growled softly, his biceps flexing and his hands gripped the arms crossed over he chest. “You.”
“Me? What would I have done? I… I don’t remember anything? What time is it? Why am I tied up? Sirius —“ Hermione’s voice broke “what’s going on?”
Sirius’ gaze softened, but he stayed where he was. “You… something happened and we couldn’t snap you out of it. Lily snuck up behind you and stunned you. I… I don’t know if Remus and I would have made it out if she hadn’t.”
Hermione gasped, mouth opening and closing in shock. Her eyes teared up.
“Oh god… did I? Are they?”
“We’re all fine” It was Remus.
“Remus —“ Hermione’s voice broke as she sobbed, taking in his form. Her eyes scanned him through her tears, cataloguing his injuries and committing them to memory.
I did that.
Lily was unscathed, but her face was hard.
“You haven’t told us everything, Hermione.” Her voice… it was the tone Harry used when he faced down Lucius Malfoy in 5th year, full of disgust.
Hermione’s eyes lowered, shame dancing across her features as she clenched and unclenched her hands.
“I… I couldn’t risk…”
“WE’RE LOCKED IN A HOUSE TOGETHER, HERMIONE! WE NEED TO KNOW EVERYTHING. HE’S MY SON! I HAVE A RIGHT TO-“
“You have a right to what, Lily? You all could barely handle Harry’s childhood. Do you really want me to give you a detailed account of how he died?! I saw it, Lily. I promised time and time again. I promised Remus in 3rd year. I promised Sirius in 4th year. I promised you and James when I found your graves. Harry lives, Lily. That's my mission. And if you all want to be tainted by all my memories then tell me right now and I’ll give you all access. But don’t you dare stand there a judge me when you haven’t seen the things I’ve seen or done the things I’ve done. You don’t have a right to these, Lily. These are my burden to bare. I failed. We lost. I couldn’t risk any of you stopping me or trying to find another way. I’m sorry that I put you all in danger… I never foresaw the effects…”
Everyone was silent. Staring at Hermione with open mouths.
“I want to see it.” It was Remus. Hermione’s eyes snapped to him, her mouth open and ready to protest. “Harry lives, Hermione. That's what you said. If it's your mission, it's my mission. You don’t do this alone. You don’t have to do anything alone anymore.”
Tears flooded her eyes and a short, jerky nod was all she could manage.
“I want to see, too.” Sirius.
All eyes turned to Lily and Hermione opened her mouth.
“Lily… I don’t want you to see. James, I don’t want you to see it either. Neither of you should… you shouldn’t see him like that.”
Lily’s eyes hardened.
“Harry lives, Hermione. I want to see my son.”
And so, Hermione opened her mind to four rudimentary magical beings who were rudimentary at legimacy.
Memories dances across Hermione’s mind. She briefly touched on the first time she met Harry. Took them through the battle with the troll. She showed them the train ride when they sat with a poorly acting Remus. She showed them Harry and Ron’s rage when she told on them. Showed them Harry’s quidditch matches. The Triwizard Tournament and Harry coming back covered in blood and clutching a dead boy’s body. She showed them 6th year when Harry comforted her and she asked him about Ginny. She showed them Harry falling in love. She showed them the first battle. She showed them when they ran from the wedding and how they lived for months. She showed them Ron leaving and replayed the memory of Harry spinning her around their tent more than once. She showed them the memory of her finding the grave and Harry’s face when he saw them for the first time. She showed them the Lovegood residence, where they heard the story of the 3 brothers for the first time. She showed them Harry becoming the master of death and she showed them the final battle. She couldn’t watch as Harry’s body was unceremoniously dumped at her feet, she only thought that being Master of Death did little to help him.
When Hermione came out, when she was in her physical body again, she leaned over the side of the chair and vomited on the floor.
“You didn’t know who we were, did you?” Lily had tears streaming down her face, her hair was messy from her hands pulling at it as she screamed when her son’s lifeless body crashed to the ground.
“No.” Hermione’s voice was raw. Her memory was coming back, slowly. She remembered the narrowed vision, seeing Death Eaters, and hearing Harry’s screams. “I… I thought you were all Death Eaters and I heard Harry screaming. I thought you were torturing him. I had to protect him. I was going to bring the whole house down on top of us if I had been able to figure out where he was so I could shield him.”
“You have PTSD.” Hermione’s eyes snapped to Lily, who was kneeling at her side untying the ropes. “My uncle had it after World War Two. Sometimes he thought he was still fighting…”
The door was blasted off the hinges. The clattering rocked the group from their stunned silence and pushed them into action. Four wands were on the two dark figures standing in the doorway.
“Severus?” Lily rushed forward to meet Severus Snape in the door of the cottage. At his side, he dragged a limp figure. Lily swung the second man’s arm over her shoulder and, with Severus’ help, moved him to the couch.
The redhead immediately began casting diagnostic spells and, in short order, ripped the man’s dark shirt away from his body to reveal deep lashes across his chest and neck. He was losing blood fast and Lily’s voice rose an octave as she pushed her magic into the boy. As she worked, Severus collapsed on the floor and locked eyes with Hermione.
“The Dark Lord knows. You cannot go back, Hermione. He believes Pettigrew has betrayed him. He knows we have betrayed him. He thinks we’re all working for Dumbledore.”
It was James who spoke, casting his eyes between Severus and Hermione. “Are you?”
Severus looked at his childhood bully, then back at his future student. “No. We both work for her.”
All eyes turned to the couch as dark, curly hair fell away from a handsome youth’s face and his head lolled to the side.
Chapter 15: The Elf
Sorry for the delay. I've been having a really rough go mentally since the last update.
Thank you to every single one of you who has commented on any of these chapters. I read each and every comment and I am absolutely floored by your support <3 I promise, I'm going to try and stick to a much more regular schedule in the coming months. Right now, I'm shooting for a chapter a month but I have my midterm break next week, so I might be able to swing a couple chapters in the next month or so!
Severus pushed dark hairs away from his eyes. It had been two, no, three days since his last shower and he could feel the grime working under his fingernails as he nervously tugged and scratched at his scalp. He had been pulled into the kitchen by an irate Hermione shortly after his arrival, her hands were flying about her head as she berated him for God only knew what. He had stopped listening 20 minutes ago.
Remus and James leaned against the kitchen door, barring Severus from seeing the living room, from seeing Lily as she bent over Regulus and attempted to force the life back into the boy. Severus had been forced to watch the torture. Regulus had arrived at the meeting, shooting off curses like a madman and shouting about his elf - a phrase that had peaked Severus’ attention. The boy was supposed to remain silent, hidden. They were supposed to wait and report back with the information Hermione needed. They weren’t supposed to do… whatever this was.
But desperate times.
Severus had watched, a mask of calm control over his face, as the boy was seized on either side and held as Bella tortured him. He may have been her blood, something he shouted in her face repeatedly as she dragged her wand down his pale flesh, but her allegiance was to the Dark Lord. Regulus was foolhardy in his reactionary state, that made him a dangerous ally.
When she was done, and Regulus was nothing more than a barely breathing husk, the Dark Lord had chuckled. He push his foot against the boy’s face, twisting it this way and that as he examined his most devoted follower’s work. Satisfied, he bent to whisper in Regulus’ ear - Severus could not hear the conversation, but the way the boy’s pupils had blown wide with terror had told him everything he needed to know. Severus knew the killing blow would come. He knew the pain Regulus felt up to this point would be nothing in comparison. He knew Regulus was important, too important, to die in this decrepit basement so he showed his hand; he had begun firing off curses at any Death Eater in his path, even the Dark Lord himself, before apparating to Regulus’ side and just as quickly vanishing. He had… oh, Gods, he had cursed the Dark Lord.
“Are you listening to me, Severus? Do you have any idea what you’ve done?!” Hermione’s eyes were burning, and a growl ripped from Remus’ throat as she pushed at Severus’ chest.
“I know what I’ve done, Granger, but he’s important to you, is he not?” Hermione’s face set in a grim line, though her eyes betrayed her - Regulus was vital. “Well I got him out. The Dark Lord will think I have been spying for Dumbledore, Dumbledore will be irate when he discovers what has happened but —“
“You let me deal with Albus” Hermione’s voice was vicious and Severus, for all that he had stared down one of the most powerful dark wizards in history, was terrified.
A shout echoed from the adjoining room, pained and desperate and full of regret. Lily’s scream reverberated off the walls, a sound that embodied all the stress she was feeling. James shot from the room, leaving Hermione, Remus, and Severus to stumble from the kitchen. The sight that met them caused Remus to stumble a step as he moved to pull his friend away from his brother’s body.
Sirius was clutching Regulus’ shoulders, his forehead resting against his brother’s and tears were clearly streaming down his face. Lily’s face was nightmarish, blood was splashed across her cheeks and caused her hair to cling to her neck. She was shoving potions and elixirs down Regulus’ throat with one hand as she desperately tried to staunch the flow of blood with the other.
“It was a cursed blade” she babbled “I can’t… it won’t stop bleeding… he’s gone through my stock of potions” Her eyes trailed to Severus “James, get Sev my cauldron and set him up in my lab. I need blood replenishing, pain, sleeping draught, anything you can think of, Sev.”
A strangled sob tore from Regulus’ throat, a silent scream followed as his body convulsed. Sirius, who clutched his brother’s hand and whispered fond memories in his ear, had started screaming, eyes wide and wild. Hermione, who was well versed in death, had leapt into action and pulled Sirius away from his brother’s shaking form and shoved him into Remus’ waiting arms. Lily was already turning the boy, her eyes tightly closed as she whispered a prayer under her breath. Regulus’ dark hair, damn and leaving bloodstains on the yellow couch in the Potter living room, was jostling wildly one moment, then utterly still the next.
Regulus Black had stopped breathing. Sirius was fighting Remus, crying and begging for someone, anyone to help his baby brother. Lily stared into the lifeless grey eyes of her friend’s baby brother and every bit of knowledge left her completely. Someone was screaming her name, far off in the distance. She was underwater and fighting to get to them, but she couldn’t pull herself together, couldn’t pull her eyes away from the boy in front of her.
Harry looked like that in Hermione’s memories.
Lily was shoved to the side as Hermione crowded Regulus, shifting his lifeless body onto his back once more as she began compressing his chest and forcing air into his lungs. Seconds, minutes, hours passed… Hermione wasn’t sure how long she breathed life into the boy; how long Sirius sobbed into her mate’s shoulder; but Regulus Black breathed again. It was shallow and shaky, but it was a breath.
She fell back on her heels, eyes wild. Lily was next to her, gripping her hand tightly and whispering to her in soft, soothing tones. Hermione couldn’t listen, couldn’t understand words.
“Kretcher!” Her voice was hoarse. She wasn’t even sure this would work - was the magic of house elves bound my space and time? Would she have any control over him if he did come? Perhaps he would listen if she showed him? No. Kretcher loved Regulus more than anything, if she had learned anything at the final battle, it was that. She couldn’t show him the near-dead body of his master.
A sharp crack echoed through the house and her thoughts had been for nought. Kretcher appeared right in front of her and the first thing his large eyes saw was Regulus’ near-dead body. The wail that left the elf was heartbreaking and Hermione found herself reaching for the creature before she caught herself - she still wasn’t sure he would recognize her or Harry’s future orders pertaining to her.
“Kretcher’ Sirius’ voice was raw, soft ‘stop crying”
The effect was immediate. Kretcher’s tears stopped and his body turned the 180 degrees to stare at the elder brother.
“Yes, Master Sirius.”
Sirius was silent, his eyes wide with confusion. “He’s never addressed me with any respect… I…”
“Kretcher,’ Hermione spoke softly, catching the wide blue eye of the elf ‘do you know who I am?”
The elf’s eyes were wide and watery as they trailed over her hair, scanned her face, and perused down the length of her body before meeting her eyes once again. “Kretcher has not seen Mistress Hermione for some time.”
“Elf magic works… differently, doesn’t it Kretcher? You remember my younger self, don’t you?”
“Yes, Mistress. Kretcher is not forgetting you and Masters Harry and Ronald never returned for your soup. Kretcher will make more.”
A genuine smile spread across Hermione’s lips. She could hear Sirius sputtering his confusion and Remus’ attempts to explain elf magic to him (“They aren’t bound by the same constraints wizards are, Sirius. Kretcher must remember Hermione because the timeline’s change hasn’t affected his memories of her. He still knows her, he’s experienced her timeline with her.” “This is bloody exhausting, mate.”)
“Kretcher, we would love nothing more than some of your soup. I’m sure it will speed Master Regulus’ recovery as well; but first’ Hermione settled herself in a seated position in front of the elf, eyes beseeching ‘I need you to tell me about the cave.”
It had taken nearly an hour to navigate the shaking and sobbing of the elf, but by the time Regulus’ blood was replenished with Severus’ potions and he was sleeping peacefully thanks to Lily’s continuous monitoring, Hermione had gathered all the information she needed from Kretcher and had sent him into the kitchen. The group sat huddled around the fire, Sirius’ hand clutching his brother’s.
“I leave tomorrow” Hermione said, eyes firmly on Remus. He’d fight her on this, she knew he would.
“We go, Hermione.” His tone was exhausted and his hand weakly clutched at his forehead, as if he was fending off a headache.
“No, Remus. I go with Kretcher. Voldemort —“
Snape shot her a scathing look, one that had made her tremble in another life, as he hissed: “Do not speak his name, Granger.”
Her eyes blazed as they locked with the Potions Mater’s dark iris’. “Fear of a name, Severus, only increases the fear. I have faced him, do not forget that Snape.”
The two stared at one another for seconds, minutes, in complete silence. A battle of wills the likes of which James hadn’t seen before. He coughed roughly and gestured towards the curly haired witch, “You were saying, Hermione?”
She snapped out of her daze and the fire in her eyes died as she cast her gaze on each person. “Voldemort has enchantments placed on the cave. Only one of age witch or wizard can enter; the test is… Harry said it wasn’t pretty. I’ll go and I’ll take Kretcher with me. He can direct me to where I need to go and I’ll retrieve the locket. It should go smoothly.”
Remus scoffed and rolled his eyes at her nonchalance.
“You’re expecting us to sit here and do what? Twiddle our thumbs and wait for you to come back? No. I’m going with you.” His words had a hint of a growl to them, which caused heat to pool in Hermione’s stomach, but just as the heat pooled, her temper flared.
“I am perfectly capable of doing this on my own, Remus. I don’t need a babysitter.” Her words were biting, cold, and completely devoid of any trace of the affection she held for him. Her face, too, was a mask of pure steel. Hermione Granger would not be swayed in this.
Remus’ eyes flashed, a brief glimpse of the wolf prowling beneath the surface, the one that chanted protect, protect, protect in his ear constantly. “I never said you weren’t capable, Hermione. I know you’re capable. But I won’t send you in there alone. I’m coming.”
Kretcher called from the kitchen, summoning the group for the supper he prepared.
“No, you’re not Remus.” Hermione’s eyes were locked with her mate’s. It was a battle of wills at this point: who would cave?
He rose, dusting imaginary lint off his pants and shoving his hands in his pockets. There was a glint in his eye as his lips formed a feral grin, wolfish and terrifying to behold. “I’d like to see you stop me, little girl.”
Indignation flared in Hermione’s eyes and her mouth opened to retort, but Remus had already prowled from the room.
Tomorrow they would go to the cave. Tonight…
Tonight she wasn’t sure what kind of battle to expect.
Chapter 16: The Locket
Here it is! Shorter than I wanted, but I've got plans for the next chapter to be much longer AND you'll get to see what actually happened in the cave!
As always, thanks for the kudos, reviews, and for reading! I appreciate each and every one of you so much!
This place felt… uncomfortable. Like a heavy weight was pressing in on all sides. It suffocated, snuffing out all light, all life.
The salty spray of the sea hit Hermione’s face and chills ran down her spine. When was the last time she had felt this feeling of impending doom? Like something just… wasn’t right?
She had to shake her head and squeeze her eyes against the onslaught of memories, against the terror, and the resonating crack of Harry’s wand as they apparated away from what was now her home.
Her eyes slid along the rocky face of the outlet, landing on Remus’ form.
Had she ever noticed how imposing he was? Certainly not in her time. He was too friendly, too father-like, to beaten down and broken after years of loneliness and poverty to ever command respect as he did now. Or maybe that was the mating bond?
The Hermione she had been would have spent weeks researching this complicated web-like relationship she had gotten herself into. The Hermione she was now?
She reached out and gripped his hand, squeezing it tightly against her palm and willing every ounce of feeling she had left to pour from her body into the man standing next to her. He fought tooth and nail the night before to be here and she was grateful, for all she had cursed his name. She knew, somewhere deep in her soul that whatever this was between them, the energy that thrummed through her very being when they locked eyes or touched, it was beyond this world as she understood it.
She scoffed softly, smiling to herself. Hermione Granger, who had absorbed every piece of information the wizarding world had to offer since she was 10 years old, was accepting a gift as it was presented to her with no regard for its roots or how to control it.
Remus’ fingers tightened around her own and when she looked at him his eyes were sparkling with unconcealed delight. It was rare to see Hermione smile. The demons she battled in her mind often stole her joy, and Remus felt a growl grow in his throat at the thought. He pushed it down, though, and focused on her smile. It was dazzling.
“What? Do I have something on my-“ Her other hand reached up, touching her cheek gently and Remus’ mouth broke into a wide grin.
“No, love” He continued to stare at her, the song of the sea a soundtrack and the scent of brine and salt twinging his nose.
Hermione coughed, colour flooding her cheeks as she ducked her head and looked to Kretcher, who was fiddling with his tea towel and staring at the rock wall before them. It didn’t look odd. There was no obvious sign of anything that would distinguish this particular rock face from any other, but the way Kretcher’s mournfully eyed the surface, Hermione knew something horrific was inside.
“Kretcher can bring only one.” He spoke softly, eyes trailing back up to Hermione before they moved to Remus.
“I’ll go.” Both spoke at once and Hermione felt icy rage settle in her bones. He was good, so damned good. Whatever the potion was… it had left Dumbledore a shell. She couldn’t… wouldn’t allow him, of all people, to drink it.
“No, Remus.” His eyes met hers and flashed gold, a silent snarl pulled up his lip, but Hermione held her ground. “You aren’’t a wolf, Remus, and I’m not your beta. I’m the reason we’re here. This is my mission.”
Immediately his eyes were the soft, forest green she was familiar with, but his posture was still stiff. His hands gripped hers and slid up her arms. “You have to promise me, Hermione. Promise you’ll come back out.”
His eyes were desperate as they bore into hers and the hands clutching her neck and intwining in the hair at its base were clammy. Hermione gripped his wrists, turning her cheek to kiss one palm. “I promise, Remus. Kretcher will bring me in, we’ll get the locket, and he’ll bring me back out. Then we’ll go home.”
The desperation in his eyes didn’t dissipate as Remus’ eyes bore into her own. It was like her was trying to search her soul, but just as she was about to turn and take Kretcher’s offered hand Remus surprised her.
For all the sex they had, for all the talking they managed to do, he had never kissed her like this. His mouth worked over her own, desperately licking into it. He wanted to, needed to, consume her, take everything she offered, everything she was, and store it deep within himself. He wanted to give her everything and hold nothing back. This beautiful, selfless woman. She was prepared to fight for another 20 years if necessary, she would fight and die, and before her, Remus was prepared to do the same. Now though, now he wanted a live with her. He wanted the opportunity to love her without Voldemort hanging over their heads.
He pulled away reluctantly, resting his forehead against hers and made an effort to slow his racing heart. Her eyes remained closed for a moment, before opening slowly. He swore, for a moment, she had tears in her eyes.
“I’ll be right back”
Kretcher whisked her away before he could breathe.
The crack of apparation shook him from his constant pacing. Kretcher was levitating a convulsing Hermione and shaking.
“What happened?” Remus rushed to her side, ghosting fingers over her face.
“We must leave” Kretcher reached for his hand, but Remus ripped it away and glared down at the elf.
“What happened?” His tone was deathly quiet, but vicious in a way he had never heard himself speak before, not even when Sirius sent Snape into the Whomping Willow.
Kretcher’s eyes hardened and he snapped his fingers, immobilizing the werewolf.
“We must leave.”
A crack and they trio was gone.
The Ancient and Most Noble House of Black had stood for centuries, Walburga noted with pride as another cup of tea levitated into her hand, and it would stand for centuries more with Regulus at its helm.
The scorch marks that marked her eldest’s space on the family tree caused her lips to spread into a wide, terrible grin. Her teeth were yellows and browns, crooked, one was even missing.
Sirius hadn’t deserved to be the heir. That had been all that had saved him in his youth; if he’d been born the spare he would have drowned tragically over Christmas holidays his first year at Hogwarts. Pity how it had all worked out, that.
But Regulus, he was her triumph. A perfect pure-blood heir for the most respected pure-blood house and she had birthed him. Her cousins had always looked down on her, primarily for her unfortunate appearance.
Well, Walburga sneered at the thought of her cousins, funny how the pieces fell.
After Dorea ran off with Charlus Potter and found herself quite unable to carry a child to term — for a decade or so anyway, then that squalling brat of hers came into the world and helped corrupt the stain on her house — Alfreda had an unfortunate… accident. She had found herself in St. Mungo’s with no memory of the incident that had stolen her ability to give birth and Walburga, being the next eldest member of the family, had taken her place at Alfreda’s betrothed’s side.
Yes, Walburga Black had done well for herself.
Until the tips of her fingers began to burn, the liquid in her cup boiling with the heat. Her eyes widened as the skin slowly but surely withered and turned black as coal. A scream left her throat, raw and terrified. Kretcher popped into the room and gaped at his mistress, horror blossoming in his huge eyes. His mistress screamed as her nerve endings erupted in pain.
Walburga’s arm was black, charred and horrifying. The skin was melted, more closely resembling a burnt marshmallow than the pale ivory flesh it had once been.
It was spreading, up, up, up to her shoulder and across to the other side of her body. Her feet, too, were charred. The woman was gasping now, clutching at her throat with those horrific hands. Her eyes were wide and bloodshot, tears streaming down her face. Her mouth had long since stopped producing any sound, and was now opening and closing as she gulped for air. Her lungs were withering, dying. Her heart stuttered in her chest as what were once fingers clawed at the high neckline of her dress.
Her lips were blue when the black began creeping up the sides of her neck.
Walburge gave one last horrific gasp before her hands fell away from her throat. Kretcher immediately ceasing his mothering to stare at the woman with tear-filled eyes. He screamed for his mistress to wake up, screamed for Master Regulus, screamed for Master Sirius, someone, anyone, to save his poor mistress.
But Walburga Black was gone.
And so death claimed her for his own.