“We are breaking so many rules right now,” Hermione fretted. “Out after curfew, out of bounds, walking around in the Forbidden Forest…”
Ron rolled his eyes. “Don’t be such a stick in the mud, Hermione.”
“This is a real problem, Ronald!” she cried. “Oh, and that isn’t even getting into the morality of this…”
“We’re hunting unicorns,” I said. “What could possibly be immoral about that?”
“Hunting,” she said grimly as we trudged through the forest.
“Well, it’s not like we’re killing them. Would you feel better if I said we were looking for unicorns?”
She huffed. “I don’t know why we’re doing this in the first place.”
I heaved a heavy sigh. “We’ve been over this. Hagrid burned down half of the Forbidden Forest a couple of years ago with his evil dragon. That means we’re twice as likely to find unicorns.”
I abruptly stopped walking. Ron oafishly bumped into me, possibly because I was once again using my invisibility cloak as a regular cloak. I stared at my favorite minion. “Are you telling me you don’t want a unicorn? Dear Merlin, Hermione, what kind of little girl are you? Do you even have a soul?”
She seemed unsure of how to respond, descending into sullen silence. I grinned as we continued our walk through the forest. “Now, let’s go over the plan. Ron, you’ll be bait.”
“I don’t think I like being bait,” Ron said, glancing at the shadows in search of man-eating spiders.
“It’s only a unicorn. Don’t be a Hufflepuff,” I said.
Attempting to lend some degree of comfort, I reached over to pat him on the shoulder. He shrieked. Ah right, my arm was still invisible because of the cloak. I’d take it off, but it was bound to wear down before graduation, so I hoped to get some use from it while I still could.
“Can’t Hermione be bait?” Ron whined.
“No, unicorns only come to the pure of heart. She doesn’t have a soul, remember?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Hermione snapped. “Really, why is having a unicorn so important, anyway?”
I sighed and reminded myself once again that my companions were still very young and naïve. “One day, Hermione, you’re going to wake up and realize that you’re nothing but an angry old man lashing out at everyone who reminds you of how miserable you are. And you’ll think to yourself: If only I had seen just one beautiful thing. If only I could have found proof that the world wasn’t entirely horrible and corrupt. If only I had seen a unicorn.”
“…Okay, we can look for unicorns,” Hermione mumbled.
I beamed, slinging a still-invisible arm around her shoulder. “I knew you would see things my way. Now, all we have to do is –”
“Stop!” a voice shouted from behind us. “Don’t go any farther.”
I cursed as Professor Lupin jogged over to us. The werewolf had followed us into the forest. At this rate, we would never find a unicorn.
“I told you we shouldn’t do this,” Hermione hissed.
“Oh, we’ll be fine.” I’d have disappeared under my cloak and continued the search, but I didn’t trust Hermione to cover for me. Besides, I couldn’t leave without my unicorn bait.
Lupin said, “I’ve finally found you. Now, where’s Miss Weasley?”
“Ron’s right over there,” I said, pointing at him with an invisible arm.
“Hey, I’m not a girl!” Ron shouted at Lupin.
“Yeah!” I agreed.
Lupin chuckled. “I do know that, Mr. Weasley. I was talking about your younger sister. I assume she’s hiding somewhere among the trees?”
I snorted and said, “Professor, we’re trying to capture a unicorn. We can’t afford to be slowed down by some Second Year girl who probably still plays with dolls and puts flowers in her hair.”
Things were progressing slowly enough with two third years.
“She’s been missing for a few hours now,” Lupin said thoughtfully. “And she was last spotted leaving the castle. None of the portraits saw her come back in.”
I shrugged. That didn’t seem too odd for her, considering the whole Chamber of Secrets incident. “She’s probably performing some sort of Dark ritual. It is the night of the full moon, after all.”
Lupin suddenly became very pale. “Oh Merlin. It is.”
“Professor,” Hermione said slowly. “You didn’t forget to take your potion today…Did you?”
Ron yelped, “You don’t think Snape’s out here?”
“He probably is,” I said. “Right now, he’s prowling through the forest, mad with animalistic rage…Werewolves are well known for their thirst for virgin blood. Your sister is likely lost to us.”
Hermione said, “First of all, werewolves don’t drink blood: That’s vampires. Second of all, that virgin thing is a myth. Third of all, the moon isn’t even out as it’s still cloudy. Finally –”
Hermione was interrupted when Lupin rasped, “Run.”
He was hunched over, fur sprouting from the back of his hands. Loud cracking sounds echoed through the forest, and Hermione’s eyes widened.
“Professor, are you okay?”
“Forget about me. I didn’t take Wolfsbane. You’re all in danger,” he said – though I could hardly hear the words amid his growls. His face appeared to be twisting into a snout.
Ron said, “You mean Lupin was the werewolf the whole time?!”
“Obviously,” I said. “Really, Snape spent several classes talking about them. You think you’d know the signs by now.”
“But you said –”
“Ron, you really ought to know not to take me at my word. Don’t you remember how I promised to feed Scabbers when you were in the Hospital Wing last year?”
In my defense, the rat did survive, and its recently declining health was almost certainly not my fault.
There was a girlish shriek – probably Ron – then a loud growl. Ah, yes, the ravenous werewolf. I’d forgotten.
I grabbed Hermione’s hand and started running. What? I might be an incredibly powerful wizard, but I’m no Lockhart.
The werewolf pursued us, snapping at our cloaks and leaving deep gashes in the forest floor.
I cursed. I couldn’t find a unicorn, I was in the middle of the woods, and a professor was trying to eat me…Come to think of it, this was a lot like the first time I went through Third Year.
Through some small fortune, the moon provided enough light to navigate through the trees. Hermione still occasionally stumbled on a shadowed root, but my steadying hand kept her on her feet. I found myself wishing that the werewolf would trip over one as well and give us a head start to escape.
I then realized that I was thinking like a Hufflepuff and cast a Tripping Jinx.
As usual, my quick-thinking had saved our lives. We emerged from the forest shortly afterwards and hid in Hagrid’s abandoned hut. I barricaded the door with one of his comically-oversized chairs and a plank that was propped beside it for the purpose. Then, I added several locking and strengthening spells because I’m not a squib.
Hermione collapsed against the wall, still breathing heavily from our dash. I wasn’t doing too well myself. It’s unfortunate how academic mindedness may lead one to neglect their physical strength.
“Well, thankfully that’s over,” I said.
“Y-yeah,” Hermione murmured.
“This actually went fairly well. We were only caught sneaking out because of the Weasley girl…”
Hermione’s eyes widened as she contemplated the girl’s grisly demise. “Wait a –”
“…We managed to defeat a werewolf, which is pretty impressive for three Third Years…”
“…Sure, we didn’t find a unicorn, but that was clearly Ron’s fault” – I paused –”Galloping gargoyles, we forgot Ron! Hermione, why didn’t you inform me of this?”
“I tried to –”
“Enough of your excuses,” I said. “You’ve once again recklessly endangered our friend through your horrible apathy.”
I bowed my head. It was a pity. I’d liked Ron…or at least he’d liked me. Something like that. My disappointment over his loss nearly equaled my disappointment over his failure to attract a unicorn.
“We can still save him,” Hermione said. She stood up, her eyes gleaming with Gryffindor determination.
“No, Hermione. It’s too late to go back for him now. He’s already dead. And he wouldn’t want us to tarnish his sacrifice by getting eaten by werewolves.”
She bit her lip, seeming to argue with herself for a moment before pulling something from beneath her cloak. I couldn’t see in the dim light of the derelict hut, so I cast Lumos. A small hourglass dangled at the end of a chain.
I gaped in a very Weasley fashion. “Hermione, why do you have a time turner? Are you a Department of Mysteries spy?”
That would explain everything. Hermione was always unsettlingly mature and had never blended in with real children. She understood magic in a primarily academic sense, as if she’d learned it already. She was an adept liar, as I’d learned early on in our friendship. Finally, it couldn’t be a coincidence that she’d ended up in the same year and house as the famous Harry Potter, even though she was clearly a Ravenclaw.
Hermione frowned. “No, of course not. I got it from McGonagall so that I could take all the electives.”
“Hold on, you’re telling me that – if you take two extra classes – the school will give you power over time? Why don’t they advertise these things?” I grumbled.
“I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone, and I think it was sort of a special allowance for me,” Hermione said.
“That makes it worse!”
Hermione rolled her eyes but knew better than to argue when I was obviously correct. She walked over and gestured for me to take hold of the time turner.
With a well-practiced hand, she turned the hourglass twice and we fell into the past.
I landed on my back. It seemed that I would have to get used to magical travel all over again. As I waited for my head to stop spinning, I stared up at the ceiling of Hagrid’s dilapidated hut. There was a hole in it already, I noted, which was odd considering it had only been empty for a year. Perhaps the groundskeeper’s home shared the castle’s dramatic tendencies.
The sky was tinted orange and pink with the setting sun, and warm sunlight fell across my face from a dingy window.
“Why is the sun setting?” I asked.
Hermione bit her lip as she glanced down and said carefully, “We went back in time. You do remember, don’t you? You didn’t hit your –”
“I am aware that we traveled through time. I am not an idiot,” I said. “Just how far back did you take us?”
“Three hours,” Hermione said.
I sat up abruptly. “Why?”
“We have to plan of course.” She sniffed haughtily, reaching out a hand to help me up.
I attempted to stand on my own, fell, and repeated the process until I was shakily on my feet. “What’s to plan? We grab Ron and run away.”
“Harry! We can’t face down a werewolf without proper preparation,” she chided as we made our way to the door. It was locked, so Hermione cast Alohomora. We left the door slightly open as we walked towards the forest.
“We don’t have to, though. It’ll be too busy trying to eat us.”
“Past us, Hermione, keep up.” I sighed. Was no one my intellectual equal?
“But it won’t be chasing us for more than a few minutes…” Hermione said.
“Yes, that’s why we run. We’ve already been over this. But stop distracting from the issue: You took us three hours back in time, which means that I’m three hours older and three hours closer to death…You’re killing me, Hermione, just as you killed Ron,” I finished with a smirk.
She smacked me on the arm, snapping, “I did not kill Ron!”
“No, that won’t happen for three hours,” I said. “Also, his killer is technically Lupin.”
“He’s not going to die,” Hermione said. “We’re saving him.”
“Can I come?”
I whirled around in surprise as the Weasley girl stood behind us.
“I’m sorry?” Hermione squeaked, stuffing her time turner under her robes.
The Weasley’s chin tilted defiantly. “You traveled back in time to save Ron from Professor Lupin’s werewolf form, and I want to help.”
“How did you know that?!” I demanded. “Are you using Legilimency right now? Hermione, don’t look at her eyes.”
The redhead frowned, brow wrinkling in a very Weasley confusion. “Uh, no, I just heard you talking. You do realize that your invisibility cloak doesn’t shield sound, right?”
“No, it unfortunately does not,” I sighed, glancing down at my beloved cloak – or at least the space where I was pretty sure it was, since it was invisible at the moment.
“So, can I come then?” she asked brightly.
“We are short a Weasley…” I said. “I don’t suppose you know your family’s Dark Magic?”
Her eyes shone fervently. “No, but I think I’m getting close.”
“Good, you’re doing better than Ron, then.” That made sense considering she was their only daughter and the seventh child. Seven is a magical number. There’s no point having seven children if you aren’t going to empower the last of them.
Hermione stood gaping at us.
“I’m in then?”
I hummed thoughtfully. “How’s your stunner?”
“I don’t know that spell,” she admitted.
“Then you’ll be a reasonable substitute for Ron,” I assured her.
Hermione had successfully recovered from her earlier shock. Her voice was flat. “Your parents actually told you they have Dark Magic.”
The Weasley girl shrugged. “Not exactly, though they leave some pretty obvious hints. I don’t think I would have caught on if a friend of mine hadn’t told me about it.”
“Was that friend Harry?” Hermione asked with a skeptical eyebrow buried beneath her enormous hair.
“It wasn’t me,” I said.
“It wasn’t him,” she agreed.
“Then who was it?”
The redhead blushed brightly, stuttering, “I-It was an older boy. He graduated. You wouldn’t know him.”
“See, Hermione, even the upperclassmen agree with me,” I said.
She sighed, rolling her eyes. The Weasley girl asked, “So, what do we do now?”
“I suppose we can look for unicorns again…”
“Well, that was a dismal failure,” I grumbled as we walked through the forest towards the spot where Lupin attacked us. “I told you we needed Ron.”
“Sorry, Harry,” the youngest Weasley said.
“Consider yourself begrudgingly forgiven,” I said magnanimously.
“It wasn’t all bad though, was it?” she continued. “I still can’t believe that your first reaction to seeing a grim is to hex it!”
“Yes,” I said. “That was pretty great.”
“Oh, I hope we’re not too late. That meadow was awfully far out, and it wasn’t even bathed in moonlight. So I’m not certain what the point even” – Hermione gasped – “That’s us! Hide, we can’t let them see us.”
She crouched among the shrubbery while the Weasley and I stood and watched through the trees.
“…in the Hospital Wing last year?” one of the figures finished arrogantly – probably Hermione.
I raised my wand and incanted, “Accio Weasley.”
The Weasley girl fell against me with a startled shriek, and Ron flew backwards, occasionally hitting a tree. He skidded to a halt a foot in front of me. In the distance, Hermione and I fled from Lupin.
Ron stared up at us stupidly. “Harry?”
“Obviously,” I said. “Were you expecting a unicorn?”
He laughed weakly. “Oh, good, for a second there I’d thought you guys had just left me there.”
I said, “Ron, we would never do that. You are our dearest friend, and, frankly, I think worse of you for saying something so disloyal.”
Hermione flung her arms around him and began sniffling against his shoulder.
I scowled. “See, you’ve upset Hermione.”
He turned towards our substitute Weasley. “Wait, how’d you get here?”
“She’s been with us for three hours. Pay attention.”
“I have,” the youngest Weasley agreed.
Ron’s face twisted in confusion. “But –”
“Enough of this. We have to get out of here before the werewolf comes back.”
I think we all felt a little better once we entered the castle and our odds of being maimed fell to their usual, slightly less alarming level.
Ron grinned. “Glad that’s over.”
“Yes,” I said. “Though we never did find that unicorn.”
“I said I was sorry about that,” the Weasley girl muttered with a tone worryingly close to rebellion.
Ron slung an arm around Hermione’s shoulders. “See? We didn’t even get in trouble.”
It was at that moment that Severus descended from the shadows beneath the staircase, eyes gleaming. He always was overdramatic. “My, my, what have we here? Has the lost little lion decided to grace us with her presence? Oh, and of course you’re in the thick of this, Potter.”
He gestured towards me with a sweep of his black-robed arm.
Hermione immediately came up with a cover story. “You have to understand, Professor, we were just worried about Ginny –”
“So you decided to go after her yourselves, rather than let the professors handle the situation. Twenty points for typical Gryffindor foolishness.”
“In retrospect, it was a bad idea,” she said hurriedly, “but we did find her before anyone else.”
“And then Lupin found us,” I said. “Sir, I’m not sure if you were aware of this, but it turns out he was the werewolf all along. He tried to eat us.”
Severus was clearly pleased. He said, “Continue.”
“He forgot to take his Wolfsbane because he is an idiot. Fortunately, I cast a Tripping Jinx and threw him off balance.”
Severus spoke approvingly. “Attacking his feet. It seems you were paying attention after all. For applying your class knowledge to a real life situation…Thirty points to Slytherin.”
“Hey, you can’t…” – I paused – “Did you just say Slytherin?”
Severus quirked an eyebrow and drawled, “I’m on to you, Potter.”
Dumbledore sighed heavily. “I’m very disappointed in you, Harry.”
He had once again summoned me to his office, but this time it seemed I was actually in trouble. I kept my eyes downcast so that he couldn’t steal my thoughts. Come to think of it, I really needed to learn Occlumency at some point…and I still hadn’t made that Horcrux.
Seeing that I wasn’t going to answer, Dumbledore continued, “Why did you tell everyone about Professor Lupin’s condition? Surely, you realized how much trouble that would cause him.”
“I didn’t tell everyone,” I muttered. “I only told Snape. Though I admittedly should have suspected he couldn’t be trusted with sensitive information considering he couldn’t even keep his own lycanthropy secret.”
“Professor Snape is not a werewolf,” he said with a grandfatherly smile.
“No, I’m quite certain he is,” I insisted. “He told me so himself. I asked if he’d been attacked by a werewolf, and he said yes.”
Dumbledore coughed, no doubt trying to hide his shock at my brilliant deductions. “That aside, I have it on good authority that you announced Professor Lupin’s secret to the Gryffindor Common Room.”
“That’s not my fault. They were asking where I’d been. What was I supposed to do: Lie? Lie, like a dirty Slytherin?”
Dumbledore accepted the insult without comment, which I assure you he never would have done when I was still Tom Riddle. “You still did not need to ruin a good man’s reputation.”
I stared at him incredulously. Usually, I would have meekly agreed and hoped to escape Dumbledore’s wrath for one more day. However, he was acting even more insane than he usually pretended to be. “Headmaster, he turns into a ravenous monster that attacks students.”
I had done many terrible things in my two lives, but I’d never accidently murdered children.
Dumbledore shook his head wearily. “You have to understand that he would normally never harm a student. So long as he takes his Wolfsbane –”
“But he didn’t take it,” I pointed out. “How do you even forget something like that?”
“It was a very stressful night. Miss Weasley had just gone missing, and with Sirius Black still on the loose…”
“You can’t just panic every time a student goes missing!” I cried. “We would never get anything done, if we did that. We still haven’t found those two Hufflepuffs.”
I personally suspected the dementors.
“Be that as it may,” Dumbledore said. “It was not your secret to tell. You could have spoken to me or Professor McGonagall.”
“Right, because the staff handles murderous professors so well,” I grumbled. “That’s why the Ministry stopped Hagrid’s reign of terror, and I had to take down Quirrel.”
Admittedly, both of them were entirely innocent, but Dumbledore didn’t know that.
“Perhaps I’ve been too lenient.” Dumbledore suddenly looked very old. One of these days, he was going to die, and I would finally be safe.
“So, can I go now?” I asked. “I think some of the other Gryffindors are having a pick-up game of Quidditch on the grounds.”
He said, “One last thing, try not to stray too far from your Aunt’s house this summer. Sirius Black is still on the loose, after all.”
Dumbledore waved me away with a strained smile. “Enjoy your Quidditch.”
I burst into the Gryffindor common room and approached my best minions.
“Ron,” I barked. “I need you to organize a Quidditch game.”
Ron jumped up from the couch, like a proper minion. He then ruined the effect by questioning me. “But I thought you hated Quidditch.”
“This is a matter of vital importance.”
“What could possibly be important about Quidditch?” Hermione asked.
“Dumbledore,” I said, voice flat.
Ron scratched his head thoughtfully. “I guess I can get Dean, Seamus, and Neville. Ginny’s always up for a game. The twins would usually be, too, but they’re pretty focused on catching some master prankster, right now.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow and asked, “Master prankster?”
Ron gestured towards the wall, where Fred and George were analyzing a tapestry with a variety of spells. “Yeah, apparently somebody tossed them into the wall last night. Percy got hit, too.”
“I’m surprised no one did this earlier” – I sniffed disdainfully – “They’re completely insufferable.”
“Harry,” Hermione said, “you do realize that was you, right?”
“Last night, when you waved your wand and said ‘accio Weasley…’”
She mimed the motion with her wand, and Ron fell into her with a startled squeak. Meanwhile, the twins stumbled and looked around the room with narrowed eyes. Hermione hastily lowered her arm, mumbling, “I probably shouldn’t gesture with my wand.”
“Don’t be a Muggle, Hermione,” I said, “and, Ron, assemble our Quidditch team. I’ve had enough of your procrastination.”
“It was then that Lupin’s fur exploded outwards, his skin bursting and bloody underneath…”
I had to shout to be heard above the excited chattering of my fellow students. The Great Hall was always cacophonous during the End of the Year Feast, and Gryffindors have painfully short attention spans.
I said, “…Lupin got Ron, but we valiantly saved his life.”
Ron frowned. “Mate, you’ve got to stop saying it like that. People are going to think I’m a werewolf.”
“Ron, our classmates aren’t idiots. That rumor will go away after a couple of moons. Now, what was I saying?”
“Lupin was maiming Ron,” one of my classmates said helpfully.
“Yes, thank you. I hit it with a stinging hex as a distraction. This gave Hermione and I time to grab Ron and run. The werewolf followed, of course, but a well-aimed curse knocked it off its feet.”
“Where was Ginny?” Longbottom asked.
I looked across the table where the Weasley girl was gazing dreamily at me. “Wait, is that your name?”
“Yes,” she said.
I snorted. “That’s a house-elf name.”
“It’s short for Ginevra,” she reassured me.
“Oh, that makes more sense,” I said. “Yes, well, it turns out that Ginevra had fallen asleep by the groundskeeper’s haunted hut, and we found her on the way out. Without our help, she surely would have died.”
Dumbledore’s voice echoed through the Hall. “It’s once again time to award the House Cup. This year’s totals are: Gryffindor, two hundred points; Hufflepuff, three-hundred and thirty points; Ravenclaw, four hundred and thirteen points; and Slytherin, five hundred points. Congratulations, Slytherin.”
Dumbledore gestured so that the banners changed to Slytherin green and silver. I clapped along with the rest of the Slytherins, earning unhappy looks from my Gryffindor housemates. The only thing that saved me from a tirade was my heavy frown. This victory was a bitter one.
“This is terrible,” I declared. “We lost to_ Hufflepuff_. What is wrong with you people?”
It was not the first time in my life that two hundred people simultaneously glared at me, but it was the first occasion I can recall that was not preceded by murder.
I stared out of the Hogwarts Express’s window. While I had absolutely no intention of joining Ron and Ginevra’s game of exploding snap, the loud banging made it impossible to read any of the tomes I’d stolen from the library.
That didn’t keep Hermione from her latest book, of course. Nothing ever does. Therefore, we were all surprised when, with a frustrated huff, she shut it and exclaimed, “I just don’t understand!”
“Wait, there’s something the Great Hermione Granger doesn’t understand?” Ron said, clutching his chest in mock horror.
Ginevra giggled. “Impossible.”
“I believe that’s a sign of the apocalypse,” I said gravely.
Hermione shot us an annoyed look. “Stop being ridiculous. I was just thinking about the, um…”
With a nervous glance at Ron, she said, “…the you-know-what that helped me get to class on time.”
“It’s called a time turner, Hermione,” I said.
Hermione stood up angrily, once again trying to use her height advantage against me. “I know what it’s called! I just wasn’t supposed to tell anyone else, and you promised to be discreet…”
“Hermione, I never promised that.” I was quite certain of it. I avoid promises on principle – notably the principle of not being held accountable for things.
“I still wasn’t supposed to tell anyone,” Hermione mumbled.
I dismissed the Weasley kneeling on the train car floor with a flick of my wand. “It’s not like he has any idea what we’re talking about.”
“What’s a time spinner?” Ron asked.
“See? Completely clueless,” I assured her. “You were saying?”
Hermione sat back down, though with more of a thud than was strictly necessary. “It’s just this whole business with Lupin. We had to use the turner to save Ron from Lupin. But Lupin only forgot his potion because he was looking for Ginny. But Ginny was only missing because we took her with us to save Ron. So…how did it all start?”
I chuckled. “Oh, Hermione. This is time travel. These things never start. They just happen.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,” she said flatly.
“Sure it does. You just haven’t spent enough time in the magical world yet,” I reassured her.
“Wait, you guys time traveled?” Ron yelped. “Was that what happened?”
It was really no surprise that Ginevra was making better progress in acquiring her family’s Dark Magic. Ron simply had no cunning. “Yes, Hermione time travels to attend all her classes.”
“Not anymore,” Hermione quickly said. “I’ve given up Divination and Muggle Studies – they were useless anyway – and returned the time turner to Professor McGonagall.”
My jaw dropped in a very Weasley fashion. “You returned the time turner? But Hermione, we had the power to bend time to our will. We could have done so many things.”
“That’s why I returned it,” Hermione said primly.
Traitorous, selfish, and unrepentantly evil…Yes, she was exactly like me at that age.
A/N: Just a quick reminder that the full fic (with periodic omake updates) is available on SpaceBattles and linked in my profile. This version has gone through some minor edits, but I’m mostly posting here so that it has a more permanent (and less forum-y) position.< Previous Next >