Chapter 1 : Time Is On Your Side
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now I know in part, but then shall I know even as also I am known.”
-First Corinthians, The Bible
THEN SHALL I KNOW
Part I: Weep Not For the Memories
Professor Dumbledore walked away from his Pensieve and sat down at his desk, shaking his head in amazement. The experience he’d just had was—well, extraordinary. He hadn’t even thought himself capable of such a thing, but just as he was reflecting on a matter for the fledgling Order of the Phoenix, a figure had spoken to him from the wall of his office—from a painting of himself.
The portrait had informed him that an unusual and unexpected event was about to take place. A student from twenty years in the future would be appearing in this very room at some point that day, having discovered the Desideria in his office at exactly the right—or wrong, as the case may be—time. Albus wondered exactly what events had transpired between then and now, that a Seventh Year student’s heart’s desire would be to travel twenty years into the past…
Chapter One: Time is on Your Side
Come here, oh my star is fading, and I swerve out of control
And I swear I waited and waited, I've got to get out of this hole
But time is on your side, it's on your side now...
December 20, 1997
Hermione Granger was frustrated. If she admitted the truth, she was more frustrated by the fact that she wanted to stop working on her essay than by the fact that she couldn’t think of anything else to write. For the first time in almost seven years, she actually felt like putting off her work until after the holidays. Of course, she couldn’t mention her dilemma to the others in the Gryffindor common room, or she’d be tormented and teased to within an inch of her life.
“Oh, give it up, Hermione,” called Ron from across the room. His words made Harry look away from the chessboard where they were engaged in a spirited game, leaving Ron enough time to make a spectacular move without his friend’s notice. Hermione saw the move and scowled—she hated it when Ron used teasing her as a distraction in his and Harry’s matches. The look had no effect on Ron, however—he just grinned and continued to pester her.
“You’ve been looking at the same spot on your parchment for the past ten minutes!”
“I thought you were playing chess,” she replied primly.
“It’s only Harry that needs to pay attention,” Ron said, earning himself a green-eyed glare that turned into a smack when Harry realized his queen was cornered.
“You know, I don’t resort to cheap tricks to win chess games,” Harry said crossly.
“Yeah, well, maybe you should try it,” Ron quipped.
“Don’t let him bait you, Harry,” Ginny said, perching herself on the edge of his chair. “He almost drove Percy mad—he hated to lose.”
“Speaking of distractions, can you please not do that around me?” Ron said in a pained voice, as Ginny consoled Harry with a kiss on the cheek.
“Get used to it,” she sassed back.
“Ginny, don’t antagonize Ron,” Hermione said, channeling Molly Weasley for a moment. She gave her essay a dark look and then packed up her things. It was (almost) Christmas, after all.
“Don’t bother, Hermione,” Ron said, pretending to ignore Ginny, “she was born to do it.”
“I thought I was born so mum could have a girl to dress up, instead of you,” Ginny said spiritedly. Ron shuddered, as did Harry.
“Now, there’s a thought to drown out all creativity,” Hermione observed, coming over to sit with them by the fire. “So,” she said brightly, “everyone finished with their Christmas shopping?” A chorus of groans answered her question.
“Don’t tell me you do that weeks in advance, as well?” Ron said incredulously. Ginny looked at Hermione and rolled her eyes. Hermione sighed. She actually hated shopping, but she hated being unprepared even more.
“For your information, Mr. Weasley, your brother’s fiancé dragged Ginny and I all through London two weeks ago to get everything ready for the holiday.”
“You went shopping with Fleur?” Harry shuddered. “I’m sorry.”
“It wasn’t that bad,” Hermione tried to say.
“Yes it was!” Ginny declared. “You don’t have to be in the wedding, so you don’t have to be fussed over. She still wants me to be a flower girl,” she huffed. “I’m almost seventeen years old!”
“Fleur just wants this Christmas to be perfect—it is the first one since Bill was bitten,” Hermione offered.
“I wonder when the full moon is, this month,” Harry mused.
“Last week, I checked.” Hermione sighed. “I do miss him as our Defense professor, though. Professor Snape is good, although-“ a fresh chorus of groans interrupted her.
“I had always thought he was so cross all the time because he couldn’t have the position he wanted, but…” Ron trailed off.
“That’s definitely not it.” Harry was adamant.
“Anything’s better than Umbridge,” Ginny observed.
“I used to think so,” Harry said, darkly. “I don’t think he’s ever quite forgiven me for preventing him from getting his revenge on Sirius.” Harry’s voice was steady until it reached the name of his godfather, where it broke slightly. Hermione reached out and touched his shoulder comfortingly; none of them had really gotten over the loss of Sirius.
“Not like it mattered, in the end,” Ron said in matching tones. “Snape sure does like to take house points from you, though.”
“Oh, that reminds me,” Harry said, cheering slightly. His sudden movement dislodged Ginny from his chair and interrupted Hermione’s reflexive correction of, “Professor Snape, Ron.” The three of them watched as Harry tore up the stairs to the boys’ dormitory, taking them two or three at a time. They had barely enough time to look at each other in confusion before Harry returned with what looked like a book in his hands. He settled himself down on one of the couches behind them and placed the book on the table before him.
“Well,” Ron said as he got up to investigate, “it’s definitely not Hogwarts, a History.” This earned him a giggle from Ginny and a vexed look from Hermione.
“Not like you would know,” she said.
“Oh, I’d know.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow.
“You carry that thing with you everywhere,” he said, dancing out of the way as she slapped at him in disgust.
“Oh!” Ginny said, reminding them of why they’d begun arguing. “A scrapbook!”
It was the photo album that Dumbledore had given Harry all those years ago. Hermione had seen it only a few times; looking at the images was understandably a bittersweet experience for her friend. She sat down on the couch next to Harry, glad for a chance to see his treasured pictures again.
“I’d nearly forgotten about this,” Ron said excitedly, kneeling to get a better look only to be kicked ‘accidentally’ by his sister, who had claimed the seat on Harry’s other side. He scowled at her only to back away as she made as if to retrieve her wand.
“Be glad you two don’t have siblings.”
Ginny stuck out her tongue at him.
“The grass is always greener, Ronald,” Hermione said, thinking that Ron would probably have hated being an only child. “—Oh,” she said, looking back at the album. “How lovely!”
Harry had turned the page for them, revealing a large photo of his parents’ wedding. James was beaming, Lily radiant in her white dress, namesake flowers in her hair. The four of them spent the next minutes exclaiming with pleasure at the sight of the almost-familiar faces of the wedding party and guests. Dumbledore looked very merry, as did a round-faced couple Hermione recognized as Neville’s parents. Alice Longbottom was holding her husband’s hand, and she wondered with a pang of sadness if the madness brought on by the Cruciatus curse had robbed her of that simple pleasure. She hoped not. Edging closer to the scrapbook, she met Harry’s eyes and recognized the same sort of melancholy in them. She guessed that he was probably thinking the same thing—would it ever be possible to enjoy these pictures without thinking of the fate that awaited their subjects?
“Well, speak of the devil,” Ginny said, pointing at Sirius in a casual way that Hermione discerned was intended to lighten the mood. “Is that firewhiskey?”
“Probably,” said Ron, “judging from the grin.”
They all laughed. Sirius did indeed look very happy; his dazzling smile and handsome features showed no inkling of the wasted, gaunt creature he was to become. Hermione shook her head, frustrated with herself. What ever was making her focus on the negative, when she was looking at pictures of a wedding? On an impulse she asked Harry if the album had earlier snapshots of his parents—perhaps from their time at Hogwarts.
“Yeah, want me to start from the beginning?” Harry looked around at his friends, the slight smile he wore breaking into a grin—they looked as eager as first years. “All right, then.”
He flipped back to the first page of the album, making Hermione slightly dizzy, as the images scrolling past weren’t stationary like the ones in her family album. The first photograph was of James, smiling toothily and waving at them from beneath the caption, ‘Prongs, the day he earned his nickname.’ He looked to be about fifteen.
“Oh, brilliant!” Harry exclaimed. “This must be around the time they first managed their animagus transformations!”
“’Shame he can’t transfigure himself in the picture,” said Ron.
“Yeah, well, they have no way of knowing who is looking at the photographs, do they?” Hermione pointed out.
“I’d have loved to see what it looked like, though,” Harry mused. They turned their attention to the next picture, which was slightly confusing, at first. After turning the book this way and that a few times (and Ron muttering crossly that someone had forgotten the caption), Ginny exclaimed, “Food fight!”
As soon as she said it, the picture’s participants began enthusiastically throwing everything within reach at anyone in sight, and a stylized caption appeared underneath.
The un-pictured Gryffindors howled with laughter as they watched their predecessors’ antics, particularly as a food-splattered Sirius Black and James Potter simultaneously tossed full pumpkin pies at each other. Sirius’ hit his mark, while Harry’s father missed terribly, hitting their Head of House—Minerva McGonagall. The scene faded away just as the look of horror on her face began to give way to anger. None of them were coherent enough to notice the enchanted page resetting itself for the next time it would reveal its secrets—all four of them were collapsed in hysterics.
“I’m beginning to see why they called themselves ‘Marauders,’” Hermione gasped out.
“Can’t…breathe…” choked Ron.
“That was great,” Harry agreed. Ginny just nodded, holding her stomach with a pleased but pained expression.
“You know,” Ron managed, “it’s a shame it’s too late to carry on that particular tradition…” The boys beamed at each other, as the girls rolled their eyes.
“I doubt McGonagall’d let either of you near a pie, judging by the look on her face just then,” Ginny said.
“Too right,” Ron agreed.
“I don’t even want to think about how many house points that cost them,” Harry said, and they all shuddered.
The next page earned excited whoops of pleasure from Harry, Ron, and Ginny—it was designed to look like a Quidditch player card, featuring James in a spectacular photo apparently taken just as he scored a goal. The caption read:
The letters flashed red and gold, and Hermione admired the expert charm work, albeit privately. She wasn’t as keen on Quidditch as her companions, although she did enjoy watching the matches. She knew them well enough to know that complimenting a charm on the page when confronted by equally expert flying—James Potter was indeed amazing, as Professor McGonagall had once remarked—would probably start a row.
“Great Merlin!” Ron remarked, “I wonder how long it took them to get that picture?”
“It does seem to have been taken at an odd angle,” Ginny noticed. They all looked more closely at the setting of the picture, although it was hard not to watch James executing an amazing loop around the Hufflepuff Keeper to score.
“You know, now that you mention it, I don’t recall there being an observation tower with that view,” Hermione said thoughtfully.
“Not unless the Quidditch pitch has changed a lot since then,” Harry agreed. He broke into a wide smile. “I think I’ll ask Professor Lupin about this—there’s bound to be a pretty good story behind it.”
“Yeah, knowing them,” Ron grinned.
“There’s no picture on the opposite page,” Hermione noticed.
“Well, not even photographs want to be outdone,” Harry said with annoying superiority. Hermione suppressed a sigh—she just didn’t understand their fascination with Quidditch.
The next batch of photos was pretty tame (Hermione groaned at her mental pun, considering the subjects of the pictures were animagi), showing James, Sirius, Lupin, and Pettigrew in various familiar scenes about the school. Each time Wormtail’s face appeared they all seemed to flinch, almost as if they expected the representation of the man to reach out and harm them from the confines of his frame.
“You know,” Ginny said, her gaze lingering on the four young men in grinning camaraderie, “time really wasn’t on their side, was it?” They all looked at her, and Hermione thought to herself that what the youngest Weasley had said was an almost poetic way to look at it—and the bitter truth. It just…was, she thought, in a way that wasn’t judging, or even tragedic.
“I wonder,” she said, looking at her three closest friends, “if it is on ours.”