Harry Potter stared dismayed at his two best friends, trying once again to convince them otherwise. “You don’t really have to do this with me, you know . . . to find it. You should spend what time left together. Only one of us needs to go back.”
Ronald Weasley, brown eyes tinted with determination, retorted, “We’re not going to let you go alone. You’re not that special, that you don’t need friends. Stop bloody trying to be!”
The last member of their trio, a witch with bushy hair, interrupted their bickering. “For once I agree with Ron. You can’t keep pushing your friends away, Harry. You’ll need us if you want to survive. If you want to know how . . . how Voldemort did it. I know you just want to protect us, to be all noble, but that’s not what friendship is about. And you of all people should know that! How could we call ourselves your friends if we abandoned you for this last, most important part of your journey?”
Harry shook his head at the female. “It’s not that Hermione!” he paused then said furiously, “let’s just say I’m a selfish prat who doesn’t deserve your friendship, then. After all this . . . how’d you think I’d feel if you guys dropped dead in front of me again, just ‘cause Voldemort found that we were looking for them before that time? Anyway, the future needs you to help, and I wonder . . .”
Hermione scowled at him, and said, rather hypocritically. “Shut up, and stop being selfish then. The future isn’t set in stone. Look at how we helped Sirius! We can help better by going to the past, and looking. Then we might be able to change the future.” She smiled slightly. “And I’d never thought it would happen . . .”
“If you go back we’ll probably disappear once this future doesn’t exist any longer.” Said Harry, still refusing.
“Look mate,” said Ron, “Look at it this way. Hermione and me know that already. And anyway, if this future changes we’ll still disappear. It’s better to just go back, then come back once it’s done so you can finally fulfil your prophecy or whatever. It’s up to us to help you now.”
“Hermione and I.” Hermione corrected, her eyes still fixed on Harry. “Just remember, we volunteered to come and look for you . . . maybe the reason you don’t have it now is because we helped you destroy it in the past. Then everything changes, and you can come back to help fight him. You need us.” She hesitated, then said in a quiet voice, “Don’t you remember what Dumbledore said? I don’t want to be the one to remind you, but—‘You are protected by . . . by your power to love’. And since you’re not going to bring Ginny along, it’s up to me and Ron to do it.”
Ron stared at her. “Isn’t it ‘Ron and I’?” he asked.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “I’ll give you a grammar lesson once Harry lets us go with him back to the past.”
“Who says I’m not coming?” Ginny Weasley said sharply, eyes darting around. She ignored the looks from both Harry and her brother; Hermione was all right, she knew that Ginny was capable. Harry had dropped her because he did not want her to be hurt—which she did not accept readily. They’d been together again for weeks, and despite all the danger from their relationship Ginny was honestly happy.
“I’m not going to let—“
“Fine.” Ron snapped at Ginny, before he rounded on Harry. “You’ll need us to keep you from doing something stupid. Like killing Pettigrew, or Snape . . . though what I wouldn’t give to wring his neck.” His face was almost maniacal, eyes glowing eagerly.
“Look who’s talking.” Harry muttered. But before the other three could protest any longer, he raised his eyes and nodded. “So we agree we think it was in Hogwarts . . . or at least somewhere close to it. And that we’re going to find it.”
Hermione smiled. “We.”
Suddenly, Hermione was all business again. “Don’t forget the properties of the potion. It’s safer than a time turner, at least. Take a gulp now so that it can trigger all the reactants in your body and the charms and spells cast inside it, then take off everything around you to do with time—clocks, and the like, and calendars and watches. You’ll get sent to the past then.”
All four of them took a drink out of a bottle Hermione had procured, which she had made herself.
“And then we’ll have to stay in the past for at least six months. Maybe even a year until I can make the potion again.” She lifted her eyes suddenly, anxiously. “And we’ll have to tell Dumbledore, won’t we?”
Harry frowned, but nodded. “I think so. We’ll need allies, and not just what we can do.”
“We’re placing our trust on someone who watched Lord Voldemort grow up and didn’t realise he’d become the most evil wizard in centuries.” Ron whispered. “And hope he doesn’t throw us out of the castle and send us to Azkaban thinking that we’re Death Eaters in disguise. Not to mention how much you look like James Potter.”
“I’ll deal with it.” Harry said shortly. He asked Hermione, “Do you think you can find all the fresh ingredients alright in the past? I know you have some dried things . . .”
Ginny shook her head, and interrupted. “No. That’s a sign of time. She’ll need to get everything from the past. But don’t worry. Now, everyone ready?”
The four looked at each other, then simultaneously downed the rest of their potions.
- - - - -
- - - - -
Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore had lived for longer than he cared to name and had seen many—not to mention experienced—interesting happenings in his time, but never had he been more surprised than when four teenagers appeared simultaneously in front of his desk the day before the students would start arriving once more, wobbling desperately before simply falling over on the floor. He watched, wand out at ready in case they meant him harm.
When the first one rose his hand twitched, and he drew his wand into plain display, rising. Fawkes, his beautiful phoenix, did not hesitate to fly onto his shoulder. When he looked at the face, Dumbledore almost asked “what is the meaning of this, Mr Potter?” but that was before his eyes focused on the green eyes. After that his old, but nevertheless sharp eyes, noticed several differences which were carefully stored in his sharper mind.
The next one had a head full of red hair, and Dumbledore might have thought him to be a Weasley, but he was sure that, at the moment, there were no Weasleys his age at Hogwarts; in fact, he did not believe that there was one this age at all. Yet the bright crimson hair was seldom mistaken. Even the vivacious Lily Evans’ hair was a rusty shade of auburn, not something flaming. The late morning light only enhanced that.
The third one was very similar to the second; they were probably related. She shared his flaming hair, even though her eyes were a slightly darker shade of brown. She accepted the first’s hand to haul her up; up close, Dumbledore could see that her eyes were full of determination. It was just as obvious that she and the black-haired boy had some kind of relationship, even though he looked almost furious at her.
The last one he did not recognise, even with the unusually keen eyes, betraying a studious and sharp mind, and front teeth that were slightly—only slightly, hardly enough to be noticed at all; in fact, she looked almost normal—larger than the ordinary. She, and the James-look-alike rose almost immediately, leaving the Weasley-look-alike to groan on the floor. She looked a little older than the other girl.
It was the Potter look-alike who spoke, staring at him as if he was a late Christmas present—and the red-haired girl wasn’t any better, really, her eyes amazingly big—“I look like James Potter don’t I, Professor Dumbledore?”
At which Dumbledore replied, most fittingly, not lowering his wand, “I’m afraid I don’t recall you among one of my pupils. Now kindly tell me who you are.”
“We can’t do that.” It was the brown-haired witch, her voice high from nervousness.
He raised a silvery eyebrow. “May I ask why not?”
The younger girl looked as though she was going to reply, but it had already hit Dumbledore. It was impossible to Apparate or Disapparate in Hogwarts. Centuries upon centuries of fortified charms made sure of that, and no one—or, indeed, three or four—wizard had the power to ignore the protections, not even he or Tom’s combined efforts. The only other possible explanation was not a trip through space—but one through time, as Muggles had guessed.
Yet not one of them seemed to have a time turner.
“Because,” said the James-look-alike said, cutting off the witch with a pointed look, which immediately made her shut her mouth, Dumbledore noted, “I’ll put it bluntly. We come from the future, and anyone knowing about it could probably change everything. I’d rather it not come to that.”
Dumbledore frowned almost indiscernibly. Eyes staying long enough on the witch only to see her help her red-headed friend up before focusing on the one in the best position to grasp his wand. It had been but a decade since he last turned Tom away; caution was very necessary now that his old student was gaining so much power in the darkness. He asked, very reasonably, “Do you have any proof?”
The boy—approaching manhood now—hesitated, then told Dumbledore, “You’ll believe me if you examine my wand. And you could always get the hat to examine me, couldn’t you?” He jerked his head towards the shelf where the sorting hat resided. “Just summon it from my pocket. I won’t fight your magic.”
The Headmaster of the school complied. He flicked his wand and a long stick of holly flew out. Dumbledore did not touch it; he laid it in front of his desk, then looked up again. His voice was cheerful as he ordered: “Touch it. No more than a finger, prove it is not cursed.” Yet his eyes were still wary, flickering over to the witch, who’d draped the Weasley-look-alike’s arm around her shoulder.
The black-haired boy complied, gently pushing a single finger down, eyes reproachful, yet not quite. He pressed down a little harder, then told Dumbledore, “She’d do it as well. And you’ve seen my wrist—“ the boy pushed his jumper up to his elbow, and the bushy-haired witch did the same with her own and the red-haired boy’s clothing, to reveal clear skin. “We’re not Death Eaters under Voldemort’s command.”
“Not many would mention the name that lightly,” said Dumbledore, swayed despite himself by the use of the word. Not even the Dark Lord’s followers dared speak so casually. Looking down, one eye still on the quartet, he tapped the wand smartly with is own. Focusing on the aura it gave out, he muttered, “Holly—phoenix feather—what’s this? Fawkes’ feather? But he has shed only one so far.”
Yet still he remained unconvinced. “Take the hat.” He ordered.
The boy did so instantly, and jammed it on his head.
“Gryffindor!” the hat called out through the rip in its seam. It seemed to turn inwards for a moment, then added, “Good luck on that, then. Fine, I’ll tell him. To the present head of Hogwarts: Harr—“ it broke off for a moment, and after a moment continued—“this young lad who does not wish to say his name means you no animosity.”
The boy took it off and handed it to the red-haired witch. Once again it was the hat which spoke. “Weasley, eh? This young lady wishes to say the same thing—ah. Ah. Gryffindor as well, then.” The girl grinned, and gave it to the bushy-haired girl, who was sorted into the same house.
The girl also tugged off the hat and helped it onto her friend’s head. Dumbledore watched with no little amusement as the hat barely touched the boy’s head before it said clearly, “Another Weasley, eh, to help him? Gryffindor as well!”
The witch said, with a little smile, “I’m Muggle-born.” To no little bemusement, she jerked herself from under the red-haired boy’s grip, and snapped, “Honestly, Ronald, it’s not that bad! Just because you’ve never travelled in time, it doesn’t make you sensitive to this stuff or anything! Look at your sister. She’s up already by herself, and she’s younger than you.”
The James-look-alike gave the other two a warning look, whereas they promptly stood up and faced Dumbledore. He silently took his wand again. Dumbledore looked over the three, and said, “I suppose you had a reason for coming back to now? Or was it an accident—which I highly doubt—and you wish to get back to your own time?”
“You’re right.” Said the jet-haired boy, shaking his fringe to cover his forehead. It looked as though someone had layered makeup onto it, until whatever was beneath had been hidden thoroughly underneath rock. “It wasn’t an accident. I can’t tell you my name, but you can call me Harry, er, Harry Volt. This is—“
The red-haired witch simply shrugged, and said coolly, “Just call me Ginny. It’s short for Virginia, by the way, but I think it’s best if my name was changed to something less conspicuous. What about Virginia Flame?”
Despite the ease with which she spoke, Dumbledore was a sufficiently enough accomplished Legilimens to tell that she was lying. However, he did not press her for information as someone with lesser understanding might have, and catch her in a lie. She had lied—but how could he not expect her to about the future, if she had secrets about the future to keep? “I understand.” Said he mildly.
“I’m Hermione.” Said the other girl, her bushy hair tumbling down her back as she shook the boy beside her gently. After a moment she continued, “And this is Ron, as you have heard. Weasley, as the hat told you so graciously. Ron Flame now, I suppose.” The four teens glared at it simultaneously before turning back to him. Hermione continued, “We can’t tell you why we’re here, but we were hoping that you would allow us to stay here, and . . . and perhaps carry on with our mission.”
He nodded, and fixed each of them with a grave eye, and told them solemnly, “As long as what you have planned does not involve harm towards the students.” He said seriously. A thought occurred to him suddenly. “How good are you at Defence Against the Dark Arts?”
Harry paused. “You need a teacher don’t you?”
All three of the others exchanged looks. “He’s good enough.” The three chimed earnestly, earning themselves a rough scowl. “He taught us, you know. I don’t think he’s mental enough to deny that.”
It was Ron who asked, nervously, “What about the rest of us? We can’t all co-teach defence or something. It’ll look suspicious.”
“Students, then?” Dumbledore suggested. He saw Ginny about to protest, and added calmly, “I understand you might have to take trips outside Hogwarts. You shall be allowed as long as you have a teacher with you. Mr Volt will fulfil that requirement.” His face hardened, even as his tone stayed mild. “You have my warnings; the school is my first priority. I shall acquaint you to your rooms personally, and introduce you to the staff, Harry.”
- - - - -
“This is going to be the year Lily falls in love with me.” James Potter decided, boarding the train with his three best friends. Remus Lupin, who looked slightly peaky—the full moon was in a few days, bad luck—Peter Pettigrew, who hadn’t grown an inch for three years, had certainly grown sideways, and Sirius Black, who attracted the gazes of girls wherever he roamed, even if they were just walking through the corridor. “I’m Head Boy. She’ll have to notice me!”
“She’ll probably think more of the size of your head than your position, mate,” Sirius replied, not sounding the least sympathetic to his friend’s plight. James noticed him gazing slyly into a carriage full of girls, most of whom were unusually attractive, before looking back and adding, “though it’s not as big as usual this year, it seems. You’ve forgotten how to have fun! You were bad enough last year after she threatened you about Snivellus the year before that.”
“But she’s Evans.” James said dreamily, ignoring the sniggers from his friends behind him. He drew open one of the sliding compartment doors and threw his trunk into one of the holds, sitting immediately down on the bench. When a group of pretty girls passed, sneaking glances at he and his friends, he actively resisted from ruffling his hair. Lily did not like it . . . and that summer he had actually wondered if she had a valid point. Cool—she seemed to like the cool former captain of the Quidditch team well enough, who James thought was not boring either.
He stared out the window while the train began to move, then grudgingly rose with Remus Lupin. “C’mon. We’re supposed to sit in the prefect’s carriage now, aren’t we Moony, since the other compartments aren’t good enough?”
Sirius Black, who had stored his (and Peter’s) trunk up with a casual flick of his wand, scowled at him; the girls who were giggling outside sighed. “Just you wait, Prongs. I’ll make sure that the compartments are ‘nice and pretty’ for you and Evans. Just wait and see!”
“You wish,” said Sirius with a smirk, “though I don’t care much for the company they keep, ‘cept you and Moony, ‘course.” He waved and grinned at James. “Too bad Jones is gone, she wasn’t bad-looking at all. Say hi to Meadowes for me! She’ll want to hear that.”
James returned the smirk and followed Lupin out, shutting the door behind him. “I bet she’d like to hear that,” he muttered to his friend, “So that she’ll have something else to jinx him for! Can’t believe Evans puts up with her since she’s as trigger-happy as Padfoot. How she and Marlene McKinnon and Lily stay together. Well, they say opposites attract . . .”
“I’d say that you’re too hopeful for your own good,” said Lupin dryly, negotiating through another clique of fourth years, who immediately got out of their respective ways. In their last year the Marauders were as infamous as ever. It was not long before Lupin paused before the door, and looked around. His raised eyebrow almost took away all signs of lingering illness from his face as he turned sidelong, as if letting James go through first.
Potter grimaced in return. “I hope you’re not bowing down to rank or something. You go first so Evans can’t accuse me of pushing you out of the way or something like she did last time. If I remember correctly, she said ‘swaggering in and jinxing a clear path for myself’. . .”
Remus frowned at him. “You’re not going to let her dictate your life, are you? She’ll probably hate you even more than that. Take my word for it. I know her better than you do, after being her fellow prefect for two years.”
“Therefore she’ll be less likely to hex you if you go first,” finished James, pointing out what he thought was a very valid point. “don’t worry, I’m not trying to impress her.” He lowered his voice slightly and looked away. “After what happened last time . . . I don’t really think she’ll attack me just because she saw me, because I won’t be able to react. I saw, I felt what it was like. And I’m. . . as hard as it is to believe, I’m not—“
Lupin nodded, relieving him from saying anything further. Said the werewolf simply, “I understand.” Before pushing open the door and entering in quickly.
James hesitated, resisting that same urge to ruffle his hair, before following slowly inside, earning a few surprised glances. Only one was openly hostile—the one he’d fallen in love with since fourth year, Lily Evans. The rest looked slightly apprehensive, yet eager, no doubt wondering how he’d managed to secure a position when his notorious pranks were as infamous as he. Most of them, James reasoned, turned away when they remembered that Remus was almost as notorious as he, and he’d managed to be prefect as well.
“Just waiting for the Hufflepuff prefects to get here,” Lily informed the two as they each took seats, Remus at the spot where he and the new Gryffindor Prefect was going to sit, and James across from Lily. Professor McGonagall, as the deputy Headmistress, sat at the head of the table, between James and Lily. The Head Girl shot a scowl across at him, which only disheartened him slightly.
When the Hufflepuff Prefects arrived—a fifth-year girl named Tess Johnson and a seventh-year boy named “something” Smith (James couldn’t quite recall his name any more than he wished to memorise the plain-featured face)—McGonagall tapped the table for silence. She said, in her ringing tones, “Welcome to your new year at Hogwarts. I believe the faces around you should be familiar, however there are three new arrivals. It would be wise to introduce yourselves.”
“Lily Evans, Gryffindor, Head Girl.”
The next person, who sat beside her, said, “Tess Johnson, Hufflepuff.”
There was a pause in between, as everyone remembered the last prefect from Hufflepuff, Julia Bones, who’d been murdered along with the rest of her family. It had been a shock . . . but not completely unexpected. Her father, Edgar Bones, had been a great wizard who refused to join Voldemort’s side. James shuddered to even think that that name—then steeled himself. When he went out into the world, hopefully with Lily as his wife, he’d have to face horrors as well.
“Izaea Smith, Hufflepuff.” Apparently, they were going in a clockwise direction.
So that was his name, James realised. This time he tried to fix that name to memory; it would be a big blow if he could memorise complex spells but not even a single name! But it was difficult, largely because Izaea had no significant details where he could attach a name to the face. His teeth were white and reasonably straight, his skin the slightly tanned paleness of many Englishmen, his head of hair brown. With streaks of blonde, which actually stood out. Ah. There was something to remember after all.
“Dorcas Meadowes, Ravenclaw.”
“Muhammad Patil, Ravenclaw.”
“Narcissa Black,” said a palely blonde girl, scowling directly at James, “Slytherin.”
“McNair,” said the boy next to her, adding to that scowl so that, if looks could kill, James would have been six feet under with the combined power of Narcissa and McNair, who seemed to have no first name. “Slytherin.”
“Remus Lupin, Gryffindor.”
There was a pause, since the other Gryffindor prefect did not seem to be present. James took it upon himself to say, “James Potter, Gryffindor, Head Boy.”
There was another spot of silence before McGonagall spoke again. “The new Gryffindor Prefect isn’t coming on the train. Virginia Flame is an exchange student from another academy, and is already waiting at Hogwarts, since she needed to sort out her affairs. I believe she is speaking with Professor Dumbledore at the moment about her N.E.W.T studies.” Seeing the surprised looks on the faces of the other students, McGonagall added, “Professor Dumbledore was most adamant about it, I’m afraid, instead of the usual fifth-years. I expect you to show her around while you can.”
“I’ll do it.” Lily volunteered immediately.
Narcissa Black tossed her blonde hair over her shoulder with a rather nasty look on her face that Lily plainly spotted, even though the Slytherin did not say anything in front of a teacher. With the deputy headmistress present she would not imply, with her usual look of scornfulness, that Lily was so good she could probably spin sugar out of acid pops, or something, without the use of magic. James disagreed. He’d seen that Lily had strange . . . tendencies . . . when she was very angry.
He listened carefully to the rest of the speech McGonagall gave, even put his name on the rosters, but spent most of his time staring at Lily and wondering. He’d had a tremendous crush on her since the end of their fourth year at Hogwarts, but whenever he tried to impress her with his usual tactics she seemed to get angry. The worst, when she’d expressed her hatred for the first time, had been at the end of the school year, after their Charms O.W.L., when he jinxed Snape. Before that it had just been . . . well, dislike, with the occasional side of amusement at some of their pranks.
After that, even in their sixth year when James tried, and often failed, to regulate how many jinxes and hexes he cast each month outside of studying, she’d avoided him like the plague. He’d asked her out on every Hogsmeade trip he could remember, to take a date to the only wizard-only inhabited village in Britain for fun, but she’d turned him down. This year . . . he had no doubt that he’d ask her again. Maybe his position as Head Boy would help.
But he could not resort too low, and completely change his character and beg. That would brush away what respect she still had for him. Even if it was only a tattered bit. He wondered if he would be able to do that at all.
“. . . and I wish you a good year.” McGonagall finished, her eyes on him, James suddenly realised uncomfortably.
He nodded back politely. “Thank you, Professor McGonagall.”
James doubted, personally, that his remark had shaken off her suspicions of his daydreaming—but he’d been listening! It was a skill he and Sirius had perfected long ago, so they could scribble notes between classes while absorbing what their teachers said. Moony could probably do it too, but he usually listened instead. Speaking of which, now that the speech was over, Remus was waiting impatiently. James merely shook his head, indicating Lily.
“Lily.” He said quickly, before she could leave.
To his surprise, she stopped from going out, and turned around. Her eyes were as beautiful as always, and her face pretty even when she did not look very pleased. “Potter—“ she began.
Suddenly, James felt very weary of all the fighting. Friends. Friendship was the first step for any relationship. Friendship, trust; he could not expect her to see him in a romantic light immediately, just as she had no right to expect him to change. It had been his choice on that part. “Look, Lily, I’m tired of all this. We’re Head Boy and Head Girl now. Can’t you just put all the squabbles behind us, just on a professional basis?”
He was not sure what to expect, but when Lily looked unconvinced, he plodded on.
“Just for the sake of our responsibilities, Lily, call me James.” Said he, meeting her squarely in the eyes. “There are more . . . I mean, Gryffindor isn’t going to benefit from their leaders fighting all the time, even when we’re on patrol of the corridors.”
“They never benefited from the points you lost by playing practical jokes.” Pointed out Lily, raising an eyebrow. But her face did not look quite so hard or edgy.
He sighed. “Just for the responsibilities. It’ll just be hell if we can’t get together, since we’re going to share a common room. I’ll even stop hexing Snape.”
She scowled, then just shrugged. “I’ll think about it. . .” she paused, then added, “James.”
James Potter, Head Boy, could not help but grin as he followed Lily out the door to patrol the compartments of the train.
- - - - -
With the morning light edging slowly into the room, Ginny Weasley took her chance to sit on a bed and examine the package in disbelief. “You’ve got to be bloody joking!”
Her cry brought the other three over but she did not care. Holding up the package, the redhead gestured, “Read this! Dumbledore’s making me the Prefect this year. And all that stuff about not attracting attention’s gone down the drain has it?” Her bag, of the materials she’d brought with her back in time, fell to the floor forgotten as she stared. “So much for not standing out. If the others notice us . . . if they remember that there was someone who looked very much like a Weasley called Ginny . . .”
Ginny noticed that her ‘oh so brave’ men gave way to Hermione, who had more patience than the other two.
“Maybe,” Hermione mused, adding reasonably “there is a good reason for this. If you’re prefect, Ginny, then that means you have permission to look around the school without anyone questioning your orders.” She sat on the bed beside Ginny, and plucked the badge out of her hands. “Hm. Not much different from mine. I’d take it as a compliment that Dumbledore trusts you enough to give you a badge, as concerned as he is about the safety of the school.”
The younger witch smiled bitterly, “He doesn’t know what danger he’ll put the school in if someone notices I’m from another time. You guys won’t even have to pretend to be responsible—“
“Which reminds me, don’t put your hand up for every question,” said Ron reasonably, though Hermione shot him a look of purely poisoned honey, reminding him forcibly of Umbridge.
“—but I’ll have to pretend to know so much, since Dumbledore doesn’t normally pick others in their first year at this school!” Ginny continued, ignoring Ron, her voice rising, “AND HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO ACT AS THOUGH I’M SMART OR SOMETHING, LIKE YOU ARE?”
For some reason, Ginny noted angrily, Harry looked slightly amused. When she shot him a look not unlike Hermione’s, he cringed, but still sat down on her other side, a gesture that touched her, and explained, “I don’t think you’ll ever be at a loss for anything. Remember how you managed to find time for me to see Sirius? Or how you managed to play Seeker for me when I was off all the time? Face it, Gin, you’re more resourceful than the rest of us put together.”
She protested, saying that the rest of them were just as good, but they were interrupted by a knock on the door that made them jump. They were in Harry’s suite, spelled firmly by Hermione and Ron. Even the password on the outer door was ‘I am Lord Voldemort’, which would be difficult for many to say, even if they figured it out. She, Ron and Hermione would be sleeping in the dormitories.
Hermione waved her wand at the door, and let Harry say clearly, “Come in, sir.”
A rather bemused Professor Dumbledore told them, “Harry, you are expected to be at the feast at the high table tonight. And Ms Flame shall need to meet with Professor McGonagall and the rest of the Prefects, I’m afraid, for a long discussion—“ Ginny winced, “—on the patrolling of the corridors. I am sure you have prior knowledge to the dormitories, but the password, as Professor McGonagall will kindly tell you, is Veritaserum. Now, do you have any queries?”
It was Hermione who asked, hesitantly, “Do you mind if I make the room Unplottable, and, uh, use the F—“
“May I ask why you wish to have this room charmed,” said Dumbledore in his calm, though tight voice, looking at them severely, “so only a Secret Keeper can reveal its location? Or so it cannot possibly be drawn on a map? I imagine Hogwarts is safe enough without such precautions.”
“Look, Professor Dumbledore,” Harry said hotly, “I don’t want to protest against your assumptions, but . . .” he returned Dumbledore’s gaze, “the reason we’re here is for the safety of the school as well. I can’t tell you much about it, though, it’ll reveal too much about the future. I understand your trust has been broken before, but believe me, your students will come of more harm if you do not let us.”
Dumbledore raised an eyebrow.
Before Harry could continue, Ginny placed a hand on his arm and continued, “It isn’t a threat, Professor Dumbledore. It’s a warning. I think—we all think—you deserve that much.”
There was a moment of silence before Dumbledore said, with a slight smile playing on his mouth, “In all my years I have never met students quite like you. At the moment I wonder if this revelation is a positive benefit in my life, or if your presence may assure my health. Very well, Ms Flame, and Ms—“
“—um, Hermione Gardener, sir,”
“Ms Gardener, then.” Dumbledore accepted. The way he looked at them . . . Ginny had a feeling that he’d known all of this all along. The sly man! But better he than anyone else, she mused. “As long as you extend the courtesy to me and allow me entrance. You do, of course, have access to the supplies for potions of the school. May I ask if you are planning to make the potion Chrono Averto? It has, surprisingly, never been achieved before . . .”
Hermione nodded, almost eagerly. “It’s a variation of it that, er, the Potions Professor helped with.”
Understanding seemed to click on Dumbledore’s face. “Ah. I see.” He waited for a second, then said, “You are obliged to take lessons, or the other students should find it strange.”
“Of course.” Said Hermione.
Ron, on the other hand, opened his mouth to protest, but Hermione glared at him and he shut it with a snap. “Of course, sir.” Said he, looking a little faint.
“And your schedules,” said Dumbledore, flicking his wand. A small stack of papers appeared on a desk at a wall, which, Ginny reasoned, were probably the study periods for all of them, and classes for Harry, “Are there. Now I must take my leave to pressing matters.” He nodded to the four and strode out, but before he passed the door, he told them, “Good luck on your quest. Whatever it may be.”
The door swung closed behind him.
“So, Secret Keeper?” asked Harry, raising an eyebrow.
Hermione blushed. “Well, maybe it shouldn’t be me, but I thought . . . if Voldemort gets wind of what we are doing . . . do you think it should be me? I mean, Ron, or you, Harry, maybe even Dumbledore or Ginny. I don’t know who’ll they’ll suspect. And I need to make it Unplottable because someone might find it out anyway, and try and place it on a map.” She paused, and frowned. Suddenly, the blood drained out of her face. “A map.”
“What about it?” Harry asked.
Ginny caught on, even though she had not had much experience with them. “The Marauder’s Map.” She whispered, knowing that a look of horror had swept across her face. But something occurred to her, “But didn’t we learn that charm against it, Hermione, that you showed us? So that no one would notice you as long as you don’t move, or speak or make some noise or something? Not even on a map, you said.”
“Blimey!” Ron scratched his ear, “Well, it’ll be annoying if we have to stand like we’re Petrified. Won’t get anything done.”
“You’ll have to get it Ginny.” Said Hermione decisively.
Harry nodded, looking thoughtful. “Yes. You’re the only one who won’t be suspected. Apart from me, but I can’t exactly sneak in or something. No one will wonder if you go look for the Head Girl and Head Boy . . . but one of you will have to provide a distraction with it. Or—it might be with Sirius or Lupin, or Pettigrew, which might make your job easier. Then it’ll need to be you and Hermione and Ron looking for it at the same time.”
“We’ll be safe here if I can perform the charms now,” said Hermione, “so we should focus on that first, and on your teaching course as well. You can’t expect to impersonate a teacher without studying for the job. And you need that position to gain access while we look for the last one of them. The reason we came back in the first place. Here are each of our schedules. We’ll have to work it out then.”
Ginny glanced at it and sighed. Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad. She’d taken on this role when she went back in time with the others, and she could not give up now. Grimly, she memorised her schedule. The students would be arriving tonight, and she could not afford to mess up. None of them could.
- - - - -
As always before a feast, the Great Hall was decorated beautifully. Hermione Granger looked up to see a clear sky with winking stars. In her pocket was a tiny book with a Protean Charm hidden under ones that shielded the magic gaze. It was a way to transmit messages without being too suspicious; she needed merely to write on it. Harry, Ron and Ginny all kept one at hand at all times as well, in case something big happened.
Hopefully, they would check it more carefully than the D.A. members had in their sixth year, at the battle where . . . where—Hermione could hardly think about it, remembering that Dumbledore had died. But of course, Ginny, Ron and Harry would. They’d been at the fight. They were cautious; they had to be, to come back in time, a remarkable feat indeed. It was ironic that they’d come back in time to study in the seventh year and sixth year, which they left while in the future—Hermione had just turned eighteen.
Ginny sat beside her, looking as calm and collected as she always was (Hermione wished fervently that she was half as good at pretending as Ginny was), and Ron, who was sitting on her other side, looking a little edgy, as the doors swung open to admit a stream of Hogwarts students, each settling in their respective houses. Hermione wrung her robes, hoping that they would not notice the additional three. They had enough trouble as it was, looking in Hogwarts and the surrounding area for the last piece of the puzzle.
Noise erupted into the hall as chattering students took their seats, though it was much quieter in the Gryffindor table, as the stream had ebbed; they were the farthest away from the doors. Her gaze was immediately drawn to a group of four people who looked very familiar, and then to a girl she had only seen in pictures as a woman.
“Do you see them?” she hissed to Ginny, who was conveniently closer to the two distinct groups. Ginny also happened to be the only one who’d met the prefects, and therefore was more likely to understand whom she was talking about. She’d already told Hermione about them, and described them to she and Ron for their benefit. “Do you have any idea where they’re going to put the map? I don’t know if I can get to the portrait quickly enough to find it.”
Ginny shrugged in return, her eyes focusing on the boy who had to be James Potter, before swinging back to Harry, who was seated with his face composed. Hermione had no doubt she was comparing them. When her eyes lingered on Harry, Hermione knew that Ginny decided Harry was better. When she examined them, she too felt that James looked only as if he was Harry, but with deliberate mistakes.
To her alarm, the four of them sat across from them—and Lily Evans and one of her friends sat beside Ginny, talking animatedly. Hermione drew a deep breath, wondering what would happen when Dumbledore pulled Harry up and displayed him to the audience. Would they mistake him for James? She and Ginny had cut his hair shorter, and had used magic to carefully change how he looked, but the thin face and the blade of their noses were still very much the same.
Harry’s lightening-shaped scar was hidden too; that was one less detail to distinguish them by!
“Hello, Ginny,” someone said, close to Hermione.
She looked around to see Lily Evans smiling at the Prefect. Hermione had to admit that she was pretty: thick locks of auburn hair, not quite as fiery as the Weasley’s; bottle green eyes that reminded her instantly of Harry’s; the elegant shape of her jawbone and her high cheekbones; they all added up to a lovely face, which meant, with her looks, she had to be very popular. A badge with ‘HG’ was pinned on her robes, indicating her position as the Head Girl of Hogwarts, and Hermione found herself staring at it enviously. She had a feeling that, if she’d stayed at Hogwarts, she might have taken that position.
“Hi Lily.” Said Ginny, smiling very widely at Lily, tearing her eyes away from Harry. She acted like the perfect new Prefect, asking innocent questions. “Is it always this loud at Hogwarts? I know there are heaps of schools which have Silenco charms to keep them quiet.”
Lily returned that smile. “Oh, no, Dumbledore’s enough. Though I have to wonder which school you attended if you’re not used to noise. I hear you’re one of the three exchange students from that school.” She peered around Ginny to see Hermione, and Ron, who was gazing sadly at the dinner plate, Hermione noticed with embarrassment. “You must be Hermione Gardener.” She said, sticking her hand out behind Ginny’s back, “I’m Lily Evans, the Head Girl. On behalf of Gryffindor, welcome to Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
Now I have to act, Hermione remembered. She poked Ron in the ribs, at which he reverted to glaring across the hall at Severus Snape, then shook Lily’s hand, and trying not to blush, asked in a casual voice, “Is the ceiling enchanted? I don’t know much about the outside sky . . .”
“Oh yes,” said Lily, straightening up again and looking up at the ceiling, “it was a charm cast by the four founders. It reflects the night sky, whatever it may be at the moment. You know, it’s in Hogwarts: A History, though I don’t think you’ll be bothered to read it. A thousand pages, you know, but learning it is very useful. You might be asked in History of Magic. That’s if you’re doing it for N.E.W.T.s, of course. We have a teacher who is, er, knowledgeable beyond the grave.”
Glad despite herself that she was not doing the subject any longer—the knowledge was not required for her chosen profession—Hermione shook her head, “I’m not taking it this year I’m afraid.” Before she could talk further, she noticed the Marauders looking curiously at she, Ginny and Ron, with James staring blindly at Lily. She asked the Head girl, “Do you know those four?”
Lily glanced over—James only just tore his eyes off her in time to start speaking gibberish with Peter Pettigrew—and rolled her eyes. “I’d watch out for them, Hermione. They love pranks and all kinds of practical jokes. The one in black hair and hazel eyes, the less good-looking one, is the Head Boy James Potter, but I’m not sure how he’ll act, really. He’s been notorious for his trigger-happy attitude, but maybe he’ll get himself together his year. Ginny’s met him. What do you think, Ginny?”
“Hm?” murmured Ginny, too busy frowning down at her plate about something, “Oh, James? He’s interesting. Not too bad at the moment. And Remus is a bit better. Different, but with that same sense of humour.”
Lily nodded dismissively, “Yeah, that’s him. But you’ll probably get to know them soon enough.” She turned back to resume a conversation with her friend, who Hermione thought looked very like Marlene McKinnon, who she’d seen in a photo Mad-Eye Moody had shown everyone.
Ron, who was showing great restraint, whispered in a strained voice, “Let me go under the Invisibility Cloak and jinx Snape. It’s the least we could do after him . . . what he’s done in the future. He might have given us clues, whether he realises it or not that helped us destroy the other three horcruxes, but he’s still a bloody git. He won’t even be able to guess who it is! He’ll think it’s James. James! Then he won’t suspect a thing.”
“I don’t know,” said Hermione dubiously, putting a hand on his arm to keep him from jumping straight up and running across the hall or doing something else extraordinarily stupid. “Snape might be, as you say, a git, but if James is suspected Lily might never really like him. And then Harry won’t exist in the first place. Remember, we can’t change the past in any way. We just have to do our job, then get in and out.”
Ron sighed, “But it was so tempting! Just to see him squirm, after all he’s done to us. Don’t tell me you don’t want to do it as well. If we’re under the Invisibility Cloak he might not realise who it is at all!”
Hermione shook her head, “But Dumbledore might kick us out, since he’ll probably suspect it’s us. If you have so much spare time you can go with me to the library to do research.” She bit her lip. “First for a charm that can make you unnoticed even if you’re moving, and then for where the last one is. We need a weapon as well, and some way to destroy it. . . we don’t even know what it is right now! And on top of all of that, we have exams. . .”
She felt a pressure around her hand, which felt remarkably like Ron’s. Looking, she noticed that he had taken it automatically and squeezed, reassuring her. With effort she smiled in return. Ron was like that: he tried to act tough all the time, but he could be very kind (if somewhat blunt) when he wanted to be. Ron was a strategist, really; if anyone could think of a plan, he could. “I’m glad you’re here. I couldn’t do it alone.”
“And Harry’s mental thinking he could either.” Replied Ron, with a convincing smile.
But by that time the doors had swung open to reveal two rows of terrified-looking first year students being led by a witch in a tall top hat and a tight bun. Minerva McGonagall, deputy Headmistress of Hogwarts and Head of Gryffindor strode swiftly up an aisle between two of the tables, carrying a stool, while the new students trailed behind like the ribbons on a kite. Upon reaching the platform where the Sorting Hat was put down—Hermione grinned at the thought of being sorted twice—and pulled out a long scroll. With a frown, Hermione noticed that the Headmaster did not call for a song from the Sorting Hat.
“Abbot, Samantha,” she called in a loud voice. A tiny girl who seemed no taller than Ron’s waist stepped up.
Hermione looked down, only to see Sirius Black staring at her thoughtfully. When she stared back, he just asked, “You’re new aren’t you. Ginny Flame?”
Ginny stared at him with as much force as Hermione did. “That’s me,” while Hermione tried not to stare to hard at his younger face. “And that’s Hermione, and that’s Ron, my brother. Who’re you?”
Again, Hermione wished she could lie as blatantly as Ginny, but she was more suited to telling truths. She turned back uncomfortably to stare at the front as the hat sorted a boy who did not look any taller than Samantha into Slytherin. Dumbledore, as far as she could see, was fixated on the new students, but something told her that he was not quite as unwary as he seemed. Hermione scanned the staff table for faces she might recognise. There was McGonagall, reading her names out, and Dumbledore, of course. Horace Slughorn, slightly less fat and with a few tuffs of hair at the back of his head, was staring down at the students as well.
The caretaker, Argus Filch, but with a full head of hair, lurked in the shadows with a cat that looked as though it might have been Mrs Norris’s mother. Professor Binns and Professor Flitwick, teachers of History of Magic and Charms respectively, were quite the same as always. Professor Vector, who taught Arithmancy looked younger than Hermione had expected—had so much time passed?—while Hagrid looked unchanged. Professor Sprout looked unusually clean to Hermione, her hair still streaked with brown instead of the cloud of grey she was used to seeing, but nevertheless her fingers were dotted with dirt as she tapped them on the table. When her eyes rested on Harry, Hermione grinned. He was young and looked oddly out of place.
Indeed, the more perceptive students around Hermione was frowning at him already, then looking wonderingly at James Potter, who in turn was staring at Lily. Hermione could not help but look down and ignore the rest of the sorting or she feared she might burst into laughter—she’d never been as good at hiding her emotions as Ginny, especially while lying.
When the sorting finished with, “Zwanzig, Rhodes,” Hermione finally looked up at Professor Dumbledore, who had risen.
“Welcome to another year at Hogwarts,” said Dumbledore, voice clear and booming, his presence silencing what chatter taking place among the students, “The words of advice I give you are simple: Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus! Never tickle a sleeping dragon. Tuck in.”
Hermione stared disapproving as food appeared suddenly before her—House Elves, really!—but she could not leave any trace of unusualness about her, so she began eating. As she expected, it was not until the pudding had disappeared that Dumbledore started talking properly. He rose once more, eyes serious to his twinkle. Talk died down instantly in a wave; it was as if Dumbledore was a pebble and the silence ripples in a pond.
“Now that our bellies are full of good food,” began Dumbledore, “I must ask for a few minutes of your attention to repeat the usual start-of-term notices. First years ought to know that the forest in the grounds is out of bounds to students—and some of our older students ought to remember by now too. The caretaker has asked me to remind you that magic is forbidden in the corridors between classes, as well as all of the Zonko’s products from the new ‘Vivid Vamps’ line, particularly Fanged Frisbees.”
Hermione frowned. This speech was very familiar, extremely similar to the one he’d given in their fifth year, especially the part about the forest. But this time he was eyeing James and Sirius, rather than she, Harry or Ron. If Harry realised it, he gave no indication.
“—those who wish to try for the Quidditch teams should see their Head of Houses. This year we have two staff changes; we are proud to welcome Mr Argus Filch, our new caretaker,” there was only scattered applause when Filch stepped out of the shadows for a moment, “and Mr Harry Volt, who will be teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts, and judging by his credentials it will be a full and intensive course this year. I expect both to be given full courtesy from you.” More scattered applause, since Harry merely nodded his head rather than rising.
Hermione rolled her eyes, wondering if it was the right thing to do.
“—wish you all a good year,” Dumbledore finished.
Instantly Hermione rose, tugging Ron up and muttering to Ginny, “I’ll need to go to get the map. Keep them busy.”
They rushed off, brushing quickly through the crowds. The moment they were out of the doors and up the stairs Hermione muttered a Disillusionment Charm over herself, Ron doing the same. After their adventures, destroying three Horcruxes, all three of them, and Ginny as well, had learnt enough to teach classes—in practical lessons, at the very least. They raced to the door, muttered “Veritaserum”, and entered the room, going directly to the boy’s dormitories.
“Do you think summoning will work?” asked Hermione anxiously. “I know it did in the future, but they might have spells against it . . .”
Ron shrugged and whipped out his wand, pointing it at the trunk and bed that was obviously Sirius’s, frowning as he tried to get the complicated spell non-verbally. It was no use, so he muttered it out loud, “Locomotor!”. For a moment nothing happened; then the trunk opened and all the clothes burst out, strewn across the dormitory in piles. He frowned and said sheepishly, “Nope, nothing.”
“Honestly, Ronald,” sighed Hermione, looking around at the mess, flicking her wand to shift some of the clothing so she could see down the piles. There were many interesting objects, sure, including several photos of Dorcas Meadowes, one of the Ravenclaw Prefects, but they were not quite as useful as Hermione might have hoped. Finding nothing, she waved her wand in a long sweeping motion, muttering out loud, just so the packing would be neater than normal, “Pack!”
Eyes widened as all the garments and possessions flew back into the trunk, packed neatly and tidily. Another flick of her wand was enough to push it back under Sirius’s bed and straighten the blankets. Homely spells came easily enough to Hermione, since her willpower was considerable. Ron could do it—if he concentrated, but if the look on his face was any indication Hermione would not wager that he was focused in the least.
Surprisingly, however, when Hermione was done clearing Sirius’s possessions, Ron shifted Pettigrew’s trunk from out under the bed, muttered, “Alohomora!” to open the trunk, then “Locomotor Possessions.” To guide everything out. He twirled his wand, the possessions following suit until it looked like a whirlwind of clothes and books above his head while he squinted to see inside.
Hermione sighed, and pointed at it. “Accio. No, the map’s not there, Ron. Pack!”
“Please tell me it’s in the last one!” begged Ron, looking annoyed. He raised his hand towards Lupin’s bed, but a shake from Hermione lowered it again.
Footsteps clattered outside; people were coming up.
“Alohomora! Accio!” Hermione breathed a sigh of relief as a piece of parchment flew out from the trunk, upending several stacks of clothes and books suck as ‘The Lure of the Moon”’ and “The Standard Book of Spells Grade Seven”. She closed the trunk with her foot, locked it and pushed it out from under the bed. Tapping the parchment with her wand, Hermione murmured, “I solemnly swear I am up to no good—though I’m not sure if it’s true.”
Sure enough lines of ink began to crawl on the surface, starting the front, but Hermione had no time to keep looking. She tapped the map again, muttered “mischief managed”, and stuffed it into her pocket before Disillusioning herself once more. A quick glance back showed a transparent-looking Ron, the outline barely flickering. Hermione knew she could always pretend they’d been making out inside the dormitory, but that would attract unnecessary attention.
“When we have time,” muttered Hermione into Ron’s ear as the two ran out quickly, carefully avoiding a group of third-year boys who almost spotted them, “we’re going to have to research this in the library. Something that will make sure they don’t notice us even if they’re looking on the map, something better than a Disillusionment spell. I wish we’d thought to learn from Fred and George what they did with those cloaks of theirs; invisibility cloaks are useful, but we need one that can make them forget us the moment we leave, rather than true invisibility.”
She tapped both her and Ron’s heads, breaking the charm.
Ron shrugged, “Right, ‘mione.”
- - - - -
As far as Ginny Weasley was concerned, research was not a good way to spend a free night (especially straight after the welcome-back feast), but at Hermione’s insistence she drew away from a group of sixth-years (really, they were so shallow; how could anyone possibly stand listening to discussions about love spells to put on Sirius Black and James Potter for a whole night, especially when they probably wouldn’t even work?) and followed the two’s harried steps.
“Did you find it?” she inquired, straightening her badge so that she would not be given detention for moving at night. She knew Hermione could just procure a note from Harry saying that he’d summoned them to talk about their classes, but she’d rather not talk with Filch at all. He was too suspicious, and although she loved cats Mrs Norris had soon become one of the few exceptions. She’d been heartbroken that they could not bring Cookshanks, who was too busy in the future since it could detect Polyjuice Potion and Animagus transformations, and Arnold the Pygmy Puff would just draw attention.
Hermione nodded, looking flustered. She looked behind her, probably checking for people, then tapped it and muttered something. Immediately, lines of ink crawled across the page; Ginny frowned as she looked at it over Hermione’s shoulder, but it was the older witch who said, looking panicked, “They’re already searching for the map—they have to be, to be looking around the dormitory like that! The full moon’s in two days! I need to charm this so ‘Accio’ can’t get it or it’ll just cause too much trouble.”
“Why don’t we just burn it?” Ron suggested, trying to come up with something acceptable.
Hermione scowled at him, “No, that’ll mean it won’t exist in the future, and I’m not exactly prepared to make one myself. It’ll take as long as the potion. I’ll need to gather the ingredients tonight and start brewing in Harry’s bedroom. Meanwhile, we’ll have to find a spell which can make us unseen—I know Professor Dumbledore is able to—even if they have the map. But we still can’t keep it on all the time. What to do, what to do?” She shook the map and tapped it again, wiping it clean instantly just as they reached Harry’s suite.
“I’ll do it,” said Ginny. She tapped a complicated sequence of spaces on the wall with certain charms, looked around quickly to make sure no one was in the immediately vicinity, even though they could not see it as Hermione was the Secret Keeper, then murmured, “I am Lord Voldemort.” As they entered, she said to Hermione, “Isn’t it strange that we have so many precautions now? It’s more enchanted than Grimmauld Place!”
Hermione made a beeline for a large stack of books at the table, behind which only a few strange of Harry’s black hair was visible, and selected a specific book. Ginny had to strain to hear her say, “We’ll, there’s only four of us and none of us have passed our N.E.W.T.s even if we’re of age; anyway, we’re not even supposed to be here, and if Voldemort finds out we won’t even have a chance to destroy it.” Sliding the book out of the pile, she opened it to a page she seemed to have marked earlier, spread the map out, and started muttering incantations over it.
Ginny, for her part, threw herself onto the couch, leaning against the wall, beside Harry, and wearily picked up a book. She hardly glanced at the title (The Art of Magical Disguise, Volume X) before looking into the index for something that might work. She turned and murmured, “I’m guessing you don’t want to do this either, Harry.”
He glanced at her, looking away from his book ‘ Ways to Hide What You Do From Muggles’ and retorted, “You wouldn’t have to if you’d just stayed in the future. It’s not really safe here.”
“I’m safer here than I am when Voldemort has us all in his grip,” said Ginny defiantly, glaring back. She loved Harry, but he could be so frustrating sometimes. “Someone needs to keep that big head of yours in check. I’m surprised that you can get fly a broom the way you act sometimes, that it doesn’t weigh you down!” As she tossed her red hair over her shoulder she caught a glimpse of surprise in the way his eyes opened.
She did not expect him to start chuckling merrily. “What’s so funny?” she demanded.
Harry shrugged, struggling to gain control of himself. “It’s just something I heard my mother say in Snape’s worst memory to my father, and you know she has red hair as well. If I remember correctly, it was, I dunno, something along the lines of ‘I’m surprised your broomstick can get off the ground with that fat head on it.’ Or something.”
Ginny stared at him. “She didn’t shout at him while we were having a Prefect’s meeting. Maybe it was something else.” Sighing, she leaned against his shoulder, and opened her book. “Maybe you should give them assignments to do together or something. Ron and Hermione bicker a lot but it doesn’t mean they aren’t friends. Maybe you should give them an assignment together instead so my hypocritical brother can finally realise that she’s the only one for him.”
“Nah,” said Harry, “Hermione’d do all the work.”
Without looking up, Ginny replied, “When hasn’t she done all the work? I seem to recall both you and Ron asking her to look over your essays for you . . .”
She pretended to focus very hard on the text in front of her, though she was exhausted with everything which had happened. But one entry made her bolt up. Whipping out her wand, she memorised the movements and the words, then waved it in the right procedure, before stepping away from Harry.
He was looking around. “Ginny?”
Apparently, he had not spotted her.
- - - - -
To be continued . . .
- - - - -
A/N: From what I understand it takes three years to train to become an Auror. The Longbottoms were already well-respected Aurors by the time they were . . . dealt with . . . so it is not unreasonable to think that they might have graduated before Lily and James. I’ll say two or three years, maybe even just one, but that’s why neither of the two will have much of a direct role on this story, at least as far as I have planned.