Oh, know the perils, read the signs, the warning history shows,
For our Hogwarts is in danger from external, deadly foes...
I have told you, I have warned you--let the Sorting now begin.
-Sorting Hat, Order of the Phoenix
Chapter Five: I Will Tell You Where You Ought To Be
It really was quite a shame that Dumbledore hadn’t gone into the restaurant business, Hermione decided. Though she had absolutely no intention of confessing this to Molly Weasley—I wonder where she and Arthur are in 1977?—the breakfast that her current and future headmaster had conjured up for them was the best she’d ever tasted. The only possible problem with it was that she was almost too busy arguing with the man to properly enjoy the food. Furthermore, she discovered that it was extremely dissatisfying to argue with someone when they wouldn’t argue back. She never figured going back in time would make her appreciate Ron so much… Memories of past spats with her red headed friend played through her mind for a moment until they gave her an idea.
“Couldn’t you take out the memories that could be dangerous here and store them in a pensieve?”
“The spells involved in completely removing memories to contain them in a device like that are quite complex,” he said carefully, “and even then, there would remain the possibility that someone might find the pensieve and experience what you were trying to conceal.” As her face fell, Dumbledore smiled at her gently, no doubt glad that she hadn’t decided to press this issue as she had about hiding away somewhere for the intervening months. “After all, we already know that magical items aren’t always safe, even in my own office,” he said mildly, his eyes twinkling at her from atop his half-moon spectacles. Blushing slightly, Hermione conceded the point. She decided to change the subject; remembering past rule breaking—not that she’d done a lot of that, mind—made her uncomfortable, especially around an authority figure like Dumbledore.
“Well, if you’re dead set on my remaining here and attending classes…” she paused, dangling her comment before him as if she hoped he would change his mind at the last minute. He merely nodded. “I ought to—well, the thing is…” she was at a loss to explain what she meant without somehow implying her knowledge of the future. Rather than supplying her with guesses as to what she was attempting to say, like Harry and Ron did sometimes—it drove her crazy—he just let her fumble on a bit until she’d managed to convey her meaning. “Is there a way to… conceal my appearance? So no one recognizes me—in the future, that is.”
“Illusion charms would be unequal to that task—the energy required would drain you of the focus you’d need to sustain them for longer than a week,” he said with a firm shake of his head. “I wouldn’t worry too much about it—after all, I know you in the future, and I don’t seem to be suffering any ill effects.” She missed the teasing smile on his face, too busy pouring herself another generous glass of pumpkin juice.
“But, I wouldn’t know if it had done anything until I—”
Something that sounded an awful lot like a chuckle was emanating from behind his white beard.
“Oh!” she fumed, more frustrated that he’d guessed how to push her buttons than by his teasing.
“I apologize, Miss Granger—you are quite amusing when you are righteously indignant, you see.”
“I’ll have to use a different name,” she said primly, deciding that a change of subject was the best way of saving face. “Nothing too different, though—I’m not very good at paying attention when I’m busy anyway, much less answering to a name that’s not really mine.” The librarian at Hogwarts could attest to that—she’d had to throw Hermione out after hours many times, after finding her ensconced in piles of books and completely oblivious to her surroundings. She wondered if Madam Pince had held her job for longer than twenty years.
“Might I ask what your middle name is?”
“Jane,” Hermione said, making a face. It was almost as if her father had endeavored to give her the most common name possible after the oddity her mother had chosen for her first name. Although, she seemed to recall that ‘Jane’ was somewhat of a family name… Somewhere in the very back of her memory, she could hear an older, female voice saying, “Come here, Miss Jane!” She focused on the memory, not realizing her eyes were shut until she’d opened them in delight, having placed the voice with its owner. She saw that Dumbledore was watching her patiently, clearly having recognized her look of intense thought.
“You seem to have come to an important conclusion of some sort,” he observed with a smile.
“My Nana—” she broke off, slightly embarrassed at the childish nickname. “Grandmother used to call me ‘Miss Jane.’”
“Family names are nothing to be ashamed of,” he said, tipping his head back in laughter at an ancient memory of his own— “Why, my brother Aberforth called me ‘Owlbuzz’ for years, although that may have had more to do with one of our great uncles being unable to speak his s’s without them sounding like z’s…”
Hermione tried to block out an image of Dumbledore as a bearded owl animagus, rather like Pigwidgeon, flying around his brother’s head and hooting madly. She decided to store up the memory in case she ever needed to give a speech—it seemed much more useful than picturing everyone in the audience in their knickers. Before her traitorous mind could combine the two images into some sort of horrid abomination, the wizard across from her spoke again.
“Let’s see…’Miss Jane,’ eh? How about ‘James’ as a last name? Close enough, do you think?”
She thought about it, and nodded. ‘James’ was close enough to ‘Jane’ that she thought it wouldn’t be too terribly difficult to train herself to respond to it.
“You wouldn’t be familiar with Shakespeare, by any chance,” the Headmaster was asking now, his eyes alight with what she hoped wasn’t a horrible suggestion like ‘Portia.’ As much as the name had the potential to be lovely, all she could think about with her Muggle upbringing was a rather expensive car.
“Yes, actually—I quite enjoy—”
“A Midsummer Night’s Dream?”
“Yes, that’s one of my favorites,” she said with genuine pleasure. But which name could he be—of course! “Hermia?” she asked, losing some of the wide smile she had adopted when he’d mentioned the play she liked.
“It is quite similar to your own,” he said almost apologetically when he saw her face.
“Yes, it is,” she said, slowly. At his raised eyebrow, she continued almost defensively, “I’d sort of hoped to pick something less…‘Hermy,’” she said, a little sadly. “Something more…” exotic and feminine, she thought to herself, feeling almost as if she were disappointing her mother.
“Do you think you’d be able to answer to a name like ‘Rhiannon’ or ‘Diana?’” he asked her in a serious tone. ‘Rhiannon Granger’ sounded so amusing that she gave up feeling sorry for herself and her odd name and laughed with him.
“I suppose not,” she admitted ruefully.
“It’s settled, then,” he said, standing and performing a complex wand wave with a muttered incantation that cleaned the desk of their shared breakfast. “I shall send a note to Professor McGonagall that a new transfer student named Hermia James is to be sorted tonight along with the first years.”
Hermione’s jaw dropped open.
“But—I thought I would just join my house—”
“It would seem very odd for a new student to be able to arbitrarily choose what house she belonged to, would it not?”
She hadn’t thought of that. Besides, it wasn’t as if it were much of a question, anyway. Even Professor Snape had been known to make the odd snide comment on how very Gryffindor she was. Oh, that’s right, she realized with no small shock. Professor Snape is in his seventh year now, too. She hoped she didn’t have run into him very much—after spending six years addressing him as ‘Professor’ she’d find it very difficult to refer to him as anything else. She wondered if he’d begun his habit of sneering by now, and pictured him sitting at the Slytherin table, coldly watching her don the Sorting Hat—
“What is it, child?” Dumbledore came to stand by the (still frighteningly hideous, Hermione thought idly) chair she was seated in, and she looked up at him in almost mock distress.
“I have to be sorted again!”
“Oh, I don’t think it will be that bad,” he said, moving away from her to regard the quiescent Hat in its resting place on the bookshelf. “You know what to expect, now.”
“Exactly!” she exclaimed as she stood, meaning to walk over to him but instead pacing in a little circle, gesturing with her hands. “Now I know what they’re probably saying about everyone while we stand there, petrified!” Although, come to think of it, she thought with grudging amusement, I don’t know if anyone could be as bad as Fred and George. The Weasley twins weren’t cruel, exactly, but they did seem to have an amusing and clever observation on nearly everyone who sat on the stool at the Welcoming Feast.
She had conveniently forgotten who else’s seventh year it was, however, as the hours slipped by to suppertime.
Sirius Black watched as the boy next to him reached up and mussed his own hair absently, his eyes on a pretty redheaded witch that was stepping down from the Hogwarts Express. James studiously ignored the whispered comments and nudges from the three Gryffindors standing behind him, however. His hand lifted again, the third time in five minutes, and Sirius stretched his own hand up and tousled the black hair for him.
“You know, Prongs, it would serve you right if I cast a spell on your hair to lay flat, for a change,” Padfoot said in a teasing voice. He and the other two roared in laughter. Sirius felt no remorse, even as James turned and glared at his friend for a few seconds, unable to hold the look for long at the sight of all three of them in stitches. Both Remus and Peter had been waiting for him to say it ever since he’d threatened to do so while watching the last Quidditch game during their sixth year. James was almost the opposite of vain—taking pride in his tousled appearance as if he wanted everyone to think he’d only just now hopped off of his broom.
“Are you afraid she’s gone and found someone else in the three days since you last saw each other, James?” Remus teased the frowning young man lightly. They were rewarded with more glaring, interrupted almost immediately by a soft female voice.
“Hello, James, Sirius, Remus, Peter.”
They each inclined their heads to the speaker, Lily Evans. James’ smile broadened considerably, and he reached out a hand to take hers. In a very Lily-ish move, she looked blankly at his hand and cocked an eyebrow. She looked for all the world like a queen who had been addressed inappropriately by a stable lad. James looked completely crushed. Sirius tried to keep his face calm and detached, but inside he was delighted—Lily had taken his dare.
“Have a good summer?” she continued in the same polite, distant voice.
“Smashing,” winked Sirius, taking her arm. His inward grin broadened as James’ jaw dropped, watching him lead Lily off towards the castle with Peter and Remus in tow. James had to run to catch up, which suited Sirius just fine—his friend wasn’t anywhere near as graceful on foot as he was in the air.
“I think she heard me,” Remus said, grinning. “Shut your mouth, Prongs.”
“Moony—you git!” James said in disgust.
Sirius’ barking laughter was cut short by a resounding thump on the back of his head as Remus expressed his displeasure for having to take the blame for yet another of his stunts.
“Watch it, Avery!”
A tall boy in Slytherin robes snapped at the burly boy who had tripped over the cane he was holding. A third young man frowned slightly behind the other two, for he’d seen his housemate Lucius Malfoy deliberately thrust his cane into their friend’s path, clearly intending to trip him.
Severus Snape’s mind blanched at his seemingly instinctive term of ‘friend’ as a description of Epimetheus Avery. He supposed Avery was his friend—no one in their right mind called the tough youngster ‘Epimetheus;’ he was simply ‘Avery’—as far as someone such as himself had friends, that was. Snape experienced a rare moment of self-doubt as he pondered whether his questioning his friends was due to his own reticence, or their casual disregard for him. Shaking his head at his unworthy thoughts, he watched as Lucius ordered Avery to carry his leather satchel into the Great Hall, no doubt having intended that very result when he’d tripped the dark-haired sixth year in the first place.
Malfoy had no finesse, however. Avery wasn’t a brilliant mind by any stretch of the imagination, but when the patrician snob called him Epimetheus in a mocking voice before stalking away, Snape saw that their group’s designated bully had hefted Lucius’ bag with a speculative gleam in his eye.
Severus knew better than to insult someone holding his valuables, but Malfoy, it appeared, did not.
He didn’t bother to speak to Avery as he walked past the younger man who was now inspecting the contents of their fellow Slytherin’s attaché case with grim determination. In truth, he was finding it extremely difficult to maintain a blank facial expression as he remembered that ‘Epimetheus’ was the one responsible for opening Pandora’s Box in Greek Mythology.
Snape swept through the huge doorway to Hogwarts feeling annoyed with himself for the pleasant feeling of homecoming he'd felt the second he had arrived.
Hermione paced the floor in Dumbledore’s office anxiously, trying to calm herself of what the older wizard had causally termed as ‘stage fright.’ It was a lot more than that, she knew. In less than an hour, she’d be in front of a room full of strangers—some more dear than others—perpetuating a charade that could ruin more than just her future, with just one slip.
Dumbledore seemed to believe that nothing could go wrong.
She dearly wished she could subscribe to his blind faith, but maybe that was just the point. Maybe…it wasn’t blind, after all, but his subtle way of telling her that it really was meant to be, though he couldn’t come right out and say it. Perhaps—perhaps she was here for a reason, maybe she was supposed to change things not with her words, but her very existence—Or maybe I’m taking blind faith a tad too far, she thought, scathingly, trying to rid herself of those kinds of thoughts--the kind Professor Trelawney would love to dissect into a thousand stupid meanings until Hermione was willing to do or say anything to get out of her stuffy classroom.
Just then, Dumbledore appeared at the doorway and spoke to her. She felt as though she’d almost jumped out of her skin—so deep in thought was she that she’d almost forgotten her reasons for concentrating so hard. The Headmaster lifted an eyebrow at her and she flushed, angry with herself for getting so caught up in her thoughts. She watched him retrieve the Sorting Hat from its place, cradling it gently in his arms as he beckoned to her to follow him down to the Great Hall, still looking slightly amused at her reaction.
As they walked through the hallways that were at once familiar and strange to her, she felt an odd sort of excitement rising within her. It was her adventure—this time, she wasn’t merely following after Harry and Ron to prevent catastrophe. Of course, with that thought came the one that pointed out that any catastrophe this time would be solely her fault, as well.
As they passed classrooms she recognized, she realized that one of the things that frustrated her most about herself right now was an entirely different kind of excitement—and, try as she might, she couldn’t see it as a bad thing: She’d get to learn a third of the curriculum over again, which could do nothing but help her preparation for her NEWTs.
If she made it back home, that was.
“Treacle Tart?” James offered the sweet to Sirius first, in what his friend was sure was an attempt to punish Miss Evans for ignoring him earlier. Unfortunately, such punishment does no good when one is still being ignored—Lily was now engaged in an animated conversation with Lupin.
“Don’t tell me you’ve somehow managed to sneak food from the kitchens the first day,” Sirius said, admiringly.
“I wish—” James grinned. “Nah, mum sent them with me for the train ride, but I forgot they were in my robes until I put them on coming into the station,” he explained. His hazel eyes looked past his best friend and glazed over slightly, causing Sirius to assume that Lily had deigned to glance in his direction. The next words to be spoken confirmed his suspicion.
“James Potter—there’s a reason why the house elves don’t have food out so early,” she scolded the young man. “Where in Merlin’s name did you find—“
“Mum sent them along for us,” James said, deliberately raising his voice slightly so that the other Gryffindors at the table could hear their argument. Sirius leaned back slightly, partly to watch the two of them row, and partly to remove himself from the line of fire should it get ugly. Lily Evans was pretty damn good at Charms, after all. “You know, my mum, the woman you’ve spent the past week talking to instead of me?” Prongs crossed his arms smugly, proud that he’d managed to announce that Lily had spent a substantial amount of time in his company—well, his family’s company—recently. The pretty redhead blushed, properly chastised but refusing to give in.
“I can’t help it that I find your mum more interesting to talk to than you are,” she pointed out in the same raised tone.
Sirius looked around. Pretty much the whole table had given up their earlier pretence of private discussions and were gaping at the pair of seventh years bickering. The fact that Lily was wearing her brand-new Head Girl badge was making this a particularly interesting bit of live cinema.
“Well, you know what they always say,” James drawled. “Men always marry women like their own mothers.” At that, he leaned over Sirius and snatched her hand from the table, kissing it fervently, and quickly letting go before his friend could come up with a suitable punishment for crushing his legs.
Both Gryffindor House and Sirius Black found themselves disappointed when the only retort the usually dependable Lily Evans could come up with was to point out that there seemed to be a transfer student among the group of students trooping in to be sorted.
“I’ve come up with a new curse,” Lucius said pompously, looking around at the two students sitting nearby. Snape sat about five feet away, near the end of the long Slytherin table, but near enough that he could hear his fellow seventh years plotting. Though they periodically studied together and often spent time in their corner of Slytherin common room discussing current and past events, Malfoy, Wilkes, and Avery all respected his desire to sit alone during meals. What they didn’t suspect was the reason—that, after years of watching the ringleader Lucius and his spoiled displays of power, Snape knew that the blonde boy was at his most vicious during mealtimes. He had no intention of being bullied into their plots against fellow students—not out of any soft-hearted desire to protect anyone, mind, but because it seemed a petty way to get what he wanted.
Besides, it was far more interesting to listen to Lucius’ boasts and simple plots—he himself had come up with countless hexes, curses, and charms during his time at Hogwarts—without the need to school his face into the same vapid interest that was now displayed on Avery’s and Frank’s faces.
“Of course, it’ll be useless after tonight,” Malfoy was saying, reaching into his robes for his wand, “but it will be quite interesting to see what comes of it.” At this, the pureblood leaned closer to his two companions, and whispered more about his newly created curse. Snape almost regretted his known habit of solitude, because it had sounded as though Lucius had plans that might cause trouble for his house. He couldn’t think of anything good the other boy could come up with that would only apply on the night of the Welcome Feast.
All too soon, a quivering black haired girl with the last name of Wallaby was sorted to Hufflepuff, and Hermione heard her new name being briskly called out by Professor McGonagall. She felt the curious eyes of the whole room resting on her, more so than she ever had when she’d been one of the nervous eleven year olds waiting their turn. She moved forward with a confidence she did not feel, and was comforted a little by the wry look McGonagall gave her as they both eyed the rickety little stool usually used by the new students. It certainly wasn’t regularly sat upon by eighteen year olds.
This thought reminded Hermione that she could celebrate her birthday twice this year, as September 19th wasn’t far away. Then again, with all the Time Turner had added, along with her (hopefully only) four extra months spent here, a second birthday this year might not be so far-fetched after all. What as farfetched was the realization that she wouldn’t be born for two more years…
She perched herself carefully on the stool, simultaneously wanting to look to Gryffindor table for reassurance and deliberately not looking there—she didn’t know what sort of reaction she would have when she saw the Marauders, and she certainly didn’t want to have that unknown reaction while the entire student body and teachers were gawping at her.
McGonagall started to lower the Sorting Hat to her head, and Hermione’s eyes were caught by a sudden movement on the far right of the hall, from the Slytherin table. Just as she narrowed her eyes to focus on whatever it was, the Hat’s descent tickled the very top of her head and it shouted in a very clear voice,
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