Chapter 1 : A Rousing Start
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July, Alexandria, Egypt. 1997 AD.
"Mum, Dad!" Hermione yelled as she ran to the dilapidated, half-covered in sand structure, a bead of sweat rolling down her back beneath her white tank top. Her bushy brown hair was tied up in a knot at the crown of her head, her lips were dry, and she had a deep tan from wandering through the desert for a month. "I think this is it! I think we've finally found it!"
She stopped infront of the structure, gazing up at it with a grin as she waited for her parents to catch up. For weeks she'd trekked through Egypt, not for riches or treasures, no but an ancient tomb - the tomb of Cleopatra and Mark Antony. Adrenaline pumped vigorously through her veins as she stared up at it, grateful for being the first to find it. She pulled her wand out.
"Stand back," She warned, pulling her sun glasses down over her eyes as she aimed her wand at the door. "Diffindo!" With a quick flash of light, a large hole was blasted into the structure where the door had been.
Only rubble and a thick cloud of smoke remained.
"Wow," Mrs Granger whistled, clapping her hands together, before taking a sip from her canteen.
"Outstanding," Mr Granger clapped his hand on his daughter's shoulder proudly, marvelling at her fascinating handiwork.
Pushing her sunglasses back up ontop of her head, Hermione looked up at him and smiled warmly. Her parents were both muggles, and just about any act of magic she did in their presence never ceased to amaze them. It was just nice to feel appreciated for her hard work sometimes.
"Oh, hon, I think your father and I are gonna have to sit this one out," Mrs Granger smiled. "We think that this should be your find, and your find alone."
Hermione smiled back before giving her dad her bag. She had everything she needed - her wand, canteen, walkie-talkie, and all of her knowledge on Ancient Egyptian catacombs. He then joined her mum, helping her set up camp a few feet away. They waved to her and with that, Hermione climbed through the hole in the wall of the structure murmuring, "Lumos."
The smell of mold and rotting flesh assualted her nose two steps in. Hermione coughed into the crook of her arm, squinting in the semi-darkness as she proceeded through the passageway. In here, her hearing was much sharper - she heard the skittering of beetles on the floor and walls around her, and the faint whisper of something - a voice?
She looked over her shoulder. There was no one at the entrance, as far as she could tell from such a distance. It looked like a gradually diminishing speck of light in the darkness.
Well, that was reassuring.
Hermione turned around, and jumped violently, dropping her canteen. The metal container clanked against the ground and water sloshed around inside. There was a boy - no, more like the ghost of a boy - standing in her path. The boy was dark-skinned, with wide and foreboding eyes. Hermione remembered him from the next town over.
Hermione shut her eyes and shook her head, trying to clear the memory from her head. When she opened them again, her eyes had to readjust to the darkness, but the boy was long gone. It had only been a few minutes and she was already starting to see things.
She panned her slender beam of wand light around the small enclosure, some of its light reflecting off of something at the end of the tunnel. She recognized some of the hieroglyphics on the door.
It said Cleopatra.
Her face brightened and Hermione took a step forward. Almost immediately the floor gave way and her feet came out from under her, sending her down... down... down into the darkness of whatever lay below. Eventually, she found solid ground on a pile of rubble and sand. Hermione coughed violently - there was so much dust and sand in the air now.
Pushing herself upright, she touched her throbbing head, and found that it was coated with a wet and sticky substance. Great. Now she was trapped, wandless, and bleeding out of her head - and she was probably never going to excavate Cleopatra's tomb.
Just bloody wonderful.
She stood up now, squinting around the room in the darkness, and then looking up at the hole in the floor- or rather ceiling. "Accio Wand!" Hermione called out loud and clear. She heard a woosh from the right, and held up her hand to catch her wand before it could smack her in the face. It smelled faintly of sulfur.
Hermione followed the smell, setting the tip of her wand alight once more to light the way. She found the source of the smell. It looked like an old-fashioned light source, something she'd read about a few months ago in a book about pyramids. "Incendio!" She muttered, pointing her wand at the sulfur mixture. It burst into flames, and the fire spread all the way around the new room, revealing the contents of it.
At the center of the room there was a sarcophagus, and on the walls were paintings of various things in hieroglyphic symbols and pictures. Hermione walked up to the closest one, running her fingertips over the paintings. "'Princess Chione - the lost sister of Cleopatra'." It read.
She touched the picture of her, and then the timeturner she kept tucked in her shirt at all times, feeling somehow... connected. But that couldn't be possible. Their times were centuries apart.
Hermione turned and walked over towards the sarcophagus slowly taking in every aspect of it as she approached it. Something felt wrong. She felt like there were a million eyes on her, watching her every move. But she only had eyes for the sarcophagus before her.
After a long moment of gazing, and once she was about an arm's length away, she saw it. Her mouth formed a little 'o' in disbelief. The sarcophagus of Princess Chione was already open and, once Hermione had pushed the top off of it, she found that there was no princess inside.
"What fresh hell?" She breathed.
Then there was the sound of running footsteps.
"Hermione, dear! Can you hear us? Are you alright?" It was the frantic voice of her mum, calling down to her from the hole in the ceiling. "Your father's gone to find some rope, I think."
"Mum," Hermione replied, walking over to the hole and where her mum was shining her flashlight down. "You'll never guess what I found."
September, 12 Abner Lane, Surrey. 1997 AD.
Hermione flew down the stairs taking them two at a time, clutching the strap of her satchel in one hand and the handle of her school trunk with the other as she dragged it along behind her.
It was the morning of September first, and she was already getting off to a dreadful start. She glanced out of a window in the foyer - at least it wasn't raining. The reason she was so late to breakfast was because she had decided to straighten her hair for her first day back - mind you, which had taken forever (It'll only take a few minutes, she'd told herself) given that she had to do it the muggle way - and she didn't need it curling back up again.
"There she is!" Mr Granger said brightly, looking up from his newspaper. He didn't have to be at work until tomorrow morning.
Hermione smiled, rushing over to her Dad and kissing him on the cheek. "Sorry I took so long," She told him, already heading over to her Mum, who was slicing an apple at the kitchen counter.
"Breakfast?" Mrs Granger asked as her daughter kissed her on the cheek, too.
"No time," Hermione explained, stealing a slice of apple and popping it into her mouth nonetheless, recieving a chuckle from her Mum that said she understood. Hermione headed for the foyer.
Mrs Granger called after her. "Your hair looks nice, dear!" She said, just as Hermione spun on her heel and disappeared with a loud crack.
A moment later, Hermione apparated into a stall in the women's room of King's Cross. She looked down, finding her right foot was in the toilet. "Oh, bugger." She grimaced and removed it making herself a mental note of taking care of that the minute she was on the train.
She opened the door with much difficulty (for she had two bags in her hands), before stumbling out into the main part of the loo. A woman was standing by the sinks, her lipstick smeared from the corner of her mouth up the side of her cheek. Her eyes were wide, her cheeks scarlet.
Hermione gave her an apologetic look, before bolting for the door as quick as her legs would carry her. She'd probably startled her because a) she'd made a loud crack when she had appeared, and b) she had not been in that stall before.
She hurried through King's Cross station, weaving expertly through the crowded mix of tourists and impatient businessmen and -women talking hurriedly into their cell phones. Hermione didn't slow down her pace even as she crossed through the barrier between Platforms 9 and 10, not bothering to check if anyone was watching.
If the Ministry was going to get on her case for anything, they probably would have done so back when she'd apparated into an occupied loo. But she wasn't worried the way she might have been a year ago. Her two best friends had left her behind, and a summer in Egypt had really put things in perspective for her. Things had changed.
She had changed.
Hermione crossed the platform with ease - there was no one left, except for some parents still waving goodbye to their kids and some smaller children staring longingly up at the scarlet train before them. Smoke billowed above it and she climbed aboard just as the train lurched forward.
Hermione slumped against the wall for a moment, rocking gently with the train, finally catching her breath. Once the moment had passed, she headed down the corridor in search of a vacant compartment. She stopped short when she saw a familiar face lurking ahead. She tried to turn and get out of there before he noticed her, but it was too late.
"Oi, Mud-" He stopped himself before he said the wrong thing, approaching her. "Granger." She turned back around, feeling caught. "It's been a while. I would say it was a pleasure seeing you again, but..." The corner of his mouth turned up slightly, in that dreadful smirk she knew all too well.
"I can't believe the words are actually going to come from my mouth," Hermione began. "But I'm going to have to agree with you there."
She just stared at him. Had Draco Malfoy just given her a compliment? As she stared at him, she had a strong feeling of deja vu... and then a vaguely familiar voice filled her mind. He had blonde hair and nice grey eyes, and a smile that could make any girl do just about anything.
Hermione blinked, coming back to reality.
"Granger?" He asked tentatively, trying his best to look concerned, although his best wasn't very impressive. In fact, it seemed a bit mocking. "You alright? You look like you've just seen a ghost," Draco snickered, "Almost like that time when Potter had his first run in with a dementor."
"Oh Draco, don't you know better than to converse with this filth?" Astoria Greengrass assessed Hermione's appearance, focusing in on her hair as she slipped her arm through Draco's. Then she wrinkled her nose in distaste. "I see old dogs really can learn new tricks, but who are you kidding? The hair doesn't define the person. You're still a Mudblood to me,"
Hermione's ears went red in embarrassment. She didn't know what to say. Draco's face drained of color. He shot Astoria a look.
Her eyebrow shot up the minute she looked away from him, the corners of her thin lips turning up a little. "Well won't you look at that, wishes really do come true." She smirked, making Draco look up, finding that Hermione was long gone.
At the other end of the train - and far, far away from Malfoy and his latest eye candy - Hermione threw open the door to an empty compartment. She stowed her school trunk away in the luggage rack, and inadvertently left her satchel to slip from her shoulder, its contents spilling out onto the floor. She dropped to her knees in an attempt to pick everything up, but she broke out into tears instead.
She had never felt so alone.
Maybe Astoria had been right. Who was she kidding? Who was she trying to impress with this new hairstyle? She'd just woken up and decided that she wanted to wear it straight today. Maybe she was just trying to distract herself from how vulnerable she felt without Ron and Harry at her side, protecting her from the likes of Malfoy. After a moment, Hermione mentally shook herself.
She could protect herself.
Hermione finished cleaning up relatively quickly, and then pushed herself up from the floor, wiping away the last of her tears and sniffling a bit. She noticed something out of the corner of her eye; a piece of parchment, it seemed, wedged between the floor and one of the seats.
She knelt down to retrieve it, finding that it wasn't just a piece of parchment when she turned it over. It was a picture, a portrait of a girl with long dark hair, brown eyes, and a deep tan, whom she thought she remembered seeing before. Hermione touched the spot where her old timeturner rested beneath her blouse, the picture somehow calling out to her.
"You are never alone, Hermione," It said. "Not really..."
Hermione stared at the picture in bewilderment, trying to figure out what that meant, and trying to figure out why the picture was calling out to her in the first place.
Then there was a flash, and she spun around.
"Hey, she kind of looks like you." Colin Creevey pointed out, removing his ever-present camera from his face, noticing the picture in Hermione's hand.
She sighed, standing up again. "Colin, what have I told you about taking pictures of me without my permission?" He stared at her blankly. "Personal space?" When he still said nothing, Hermione sighed, exasperated. He just shrugged and wandered off, leaving her alone again. There was no way of getting through to that kid.
Hermione shut the door to her compartment, shoving the picture into her back pocket. She sat down, pulling from her satchel a tattered and aged journal she'd found in Chione's hidden tomb, gingerly dusting off the cover with her fingertips. With an exhale she opened it carefully to the page she'd stopped at a few days prior, and began to read the faded, Ancient Greek text.
I have always felt eclipsed by my sister, and her Majesty the Queen, Cleopatra. All anyone has ever had eyes for were her various accomplishments, her outstanding beauty, her intelligence and cleverness. I have overheard commoners in the market speaking ill of our Queen you see, accusing her of having had something to do with our latest King's death ("Poisoned him," they say!), but even so they still respect her, even as she blatantly denies it.
Do I believe the stern words that leave her lips when she claims that she had nothing to do with it, that she swears on her life? Well I have no choice. It is either accept her side of the story as a good and loyal sister would, or reject it and be locked away for treason. I couldn't have that.
A tall and broad-shouldered man clad in a golden linen loincloth and matching collar - one of our guards - has shown up in my bedroom. I raise a hand and the servants that had been combing my long, black hair (100 times, every night) scurry away, chattering amongst themselves. The guard says there will be a party tonight, and that our great Queen Cleopatra expects me to be in attendance, gracing our guests with my acrobatic talents. Then he turns and leaves before I have a chance to give him a response.
Perhaps she had instructed him not to wait for one, knowing what my answer would be. I had never been one for parties, but Cleopatra adored them. There was at least one every month, each hosted without much of a cause or reason. If the Queen wanted a party, a party there would be.
She always treated me as her pet, but when she requested that I perform for her party guests, I always smiled. Cleopatra may have been the most clever and beautiful, but she envied me for my the one thing that she no longer had - youth. I was twenty-four, lithe, and lively.
She was thirty-five.
With a faint smile on my face now, I raise my hand again, and the servant girls come scurrying back. I stand and allow them to dress me: one holds my hair up while another ties my special-occasion turqoise encrusted gold collar around my neck, and a third busies herself with putting matching bracelets onto my wrists. Once my collar is secure, the one with my hair lets it fall, cascading down over my shoulders and concealing my chest.
They then touch up the kohl around my eyes and add more ochre on my cheeks, before I make my way to the celebration hall where my sister shall be waiting. The servant girls coo and fawn over my beauty and figure as I leave my bedroom, meeting two tall guards on the other side of the curtain that separates it from the rest of the palace. They both bow low.
"Your highness," They say in unison, and I simply nod, letting them lead the way as was custom, my hips swaying to a silent rhythm. As we grew nearer to the location of the party, I could hear the upbeat music and the excited chatter of the guests. We stop on the threshold and, noticing us, the crowd parts appropriately down the center. I do a few flips in the space they had given me, twisting my body in ways other women only dreamed of, showing off.
At the end of my entrance, I kneel to our new King (my nephew, Caesarian) and our Queen, my cheeks hot and my heart racing. The hall erupts in applause, and I look up. Cleopatra sips from her glass of wine, with the hint of a smile on her lips. To her left Caesarian claps happily, but to her right sits a man I've never seen before. He had blonde hair and nice grey eyes, and a smile that could make any girl do just about anything. Suddenly, I felt extremely shy under his steady gaze.
"Well done, my sister," Cleopatra praises. "If I only I were as fit as you. Now," She extends her arm welcomingly, "Eat, drink, and be merry. There is plenty for everyone, and not a drop shall go to waste tonight,"
I bow and then stand, taking the glass of wine a servant offered me. I glance at the mystery man next to her and murmur, "As you wish" before turning away from them and joining in on the festivities...
The entry ended there, and there was no date or signature, save for a large, curled C in the bottom right corner of the worn page. Hermione's heart raced as though she had done a few cartwheels herself, and there was a bitter taste in her mouth that reminded her of... wine?
She promptly shut the journal and shoved it back into the depths of her satchel, a chill running from her fingertips, up her arms and down her spine. She hadn't had wine in two years at least, not since her Dad let her have a tiny taste on Christmas when her Mum wasn't looking, so why was she tasting it now? Something just did not feel right.
Hermione stared at her bag, at the place where she knew the journal was now. She remembered what she had read about Chione drinking the wine at the end. What if... She began to think, but mentally shook herself before she could start coming up with even crazier theories.
No, Hermione told herself firmly. It just was not possible. She absently touched her time turner again. If having the ability to go back in time on a whim was possible, surely anything could be.
The sky was rapidly darkening outside, and mountains were beginning to rise up on the horizon. They were almost to Hogsmeade station. She stood and drew the curtain over the door to her compartment, before pulling out her school uniform and changing. Just as she was packing her muggle clothes away in her school trunk, a voice called out from the other side of the door.
"Granger!" Hermione inwardly groaned. It was Draco. "I know you're in there, so don't try and pretend you're not."
Hermione crossed to the door, pushed the curtain aside, and then opened the door. "What do you want?" She demanded, folding her arms and standing in the doorway - a clear sign that he wasn't welcome to come inside. He didn't seem to notice.
"McGonagall was asking for you," He explained, and her brows shot up questioningly. "Head Girl and Boy mandatory meeting in the front compartment? 1 pm sharp? Ring any bells?"
"Oh my God." Hermione's brown eyes went wide and she ran a hand through her hair. "I forgot about that! Shit!" She had recieved her letter the day after she'd gotten back from Egypt but since then, she had totally spaced about it. "McGonagall's probably deciding on a replacement right as we speak." She moaned as she collapsed on the seat.
Draco laughed, and she glared up at him through her fingers. "She'd never replace you, Granger."
"How do you know?" She sighed.
"Oh I don't know. Maybe because you are the brightest witch of our age and everyone can see it?" Draco reminded her. "You're so perfect for the position of Head Girl it's almost scary,"
Had she imagined it, or had Draco Malfoy really just called her perfect?
Hermione's brows furrowed. "Er... thank you?" She said tentatively, her cheeks flushing. "Why are you being so nice to me?"
He started to leave, but turned back at the last moment. "Everyone wants to feel appreciated every once in a while," Draco told her, shrugging as though it were that simple. And with that, Draco was gone. The corners of her mouth pulled down. Now she was the unlucky victim of a Slytherin community service project.
AN Thank you to soliloquy at the forums for suggesting the title for this story. :) Other than the fact that Harry and Ron are gone and Snape is not the new Headmaster, everything up to this point remains canon. A quickie explanation for Draco's actions follows: this is after he attempted to murder Dumbledore, and due to the inner turmoil and disappointed looks from his father, he is trying to become a better person (I hope you noticed the contrast between him and Astoria ^_^). Please let me know how I did with the sudden change of character for him. If he's a bit too OOC to believe, I can give him a tweak for the next few chapters.
edit//: I went in and changed up Hermione's first encounter with Draco. Let me know if that works better, with him a bit more pompous and snarky :)
Thanks for reading!