Wow, I thought, trying to process that I was sitting in a whole different century than I had been in that morning. And now that I knew where- or rather when- I was and what was happening, it wasn't difficult to figure out how it must've happened. The strange doorway I had opened earlier then, had probably been quite a bit more than just a hole in the wall.
The Marauders were still staring at me, though now with considerably less hostility and more curiosity. Clearly they were expecting me to say something, but I didn't and for a while all that could be heard was the crackling of the now dying flames.
"So it's not just a coincidence, is it?" James finally asked.
"Er, what's not a coincidence?" I said, though I knew what he was was talking about; I had suddenly realized the full complexity of the situation, and I really needed to buy myself time to think. After all, wasn't there some sort of obvious and generally accepted rule about not messing things up when time traveling? I knew it was one of the most well-regulated forms of magic; it wasn't even legal without express permission from the Ministry. Of course that didn't stop Dad and Aunt Hermione back in their third year, but they had only gone back a few hours, and from what I remembered of their story, not being seen was rather key.
But it was a bit late to be thinking of hiding as I was already in mid-conversation with my future grandfather. And with everything I had already revealed, it didn't seem possible to wiggle myself out of the situation by lying.
"Well," James leaned forward in his armchair, ticking off fingers as he listed. "There's that we've never seen you before, the two of us share a surname, somehow you know about the Map even though no one but us four should, and then there's your first name.. It's not just a coincidence that your first name's Lily, is it?"
"Uh, that's just what my parents named me." I said. Really, it was getting difficult avoiding his questions.
"Well do you know Lily Evans?" Peter asked. "She's our Head Girl and Prongs here fancies her. That's why he's asking."
Lily Evans was my grandmother of course, and thinking back I realized she must've been the girl that James had come in with. Obviously I wasn't going to tell them that, indeed, it wasn't a coincidence. So I ignored the question and instead considered what my chances of getting away were if I were to simply make a run for the portrait hole.
But clearly the boys weren't about to let me be.
"Bloody hell!" Sirius gave an exasperated sigh. "Do you want to do this the easy way or the hard way?"
"Padfoot." hissed Remus. "You can't just threaten her."
"What? Why?" Sirius gave a small frown. "Oh, sorry if she's your relative or something, Prongs, but she's being a twat, so.."
"Hey!" I exclaimed indignantly. "I'm not being a twat."
"Er, don't mind him." said Remus giving me an apologetic look. "He's a bit socially challenged."
"Yeah, no, you are being a twat. We've been sitting here for how long now? And you haven't given us a single straightforward answer!"
Obviously, keeping mute was not an option. They've all as good as realized that I was from a different time anyway, and if they hadn't yet, they weren't thick and all the dots were there to be connected. Was there anything I could still do to fix things? Surely there was something..
"Alright." I said. "I'll be straightforward. It's not a coincidence. But now, before I go back home, I'll have to erase all your memories of tonight."
Sirius and Remus exchanged meaningful looks while James' eyes remained glued to me.
"Why would you want to do that when you haven't told us anything in the first place?" Peter frowned.
"Because you wanker," said James. "She's my relative from the future."
I bit my lip. "..I don't think I should keep answering your questions."
"Why not, if you're planning to erase our memories?" asked James, his voice just as intense as his gaze.
"Because," I explained, "if a Memory Charm's not done right, it can do quite a bit of damage, and the more intense the memory, the harder it is to wipe it."
Remus nodded slowly, "So the less we find out now the better."
"Wait, quite a bit of damage?" Peter sounded uncomfortable. "Are you sure you're qualified then? And it's not like you even told us all that much, so do you even have to wipe it?"
I sighed, "Haven't you ever heard of the butterfly effect? Even a small change can lead to a chain of events and make all the difference in the end, altering the course of the future."
"Hm." Sirius nodded solemnly. "So you're saying that because I now know that this git with stupid hair-" James' eyes left my face for a brief moment to give Sirius a glare "-is going to go on to reproduce and make a twat with similarly stupid hair-"
"Hey! It's not my fault; it's genetic." I said, though they obviously already knew that. It was an automatic response.
"-right, so you're saying that my knowledge of Prongs' future life affairs can change important stuff like who'll be the next Minister, or who'll win the war against Voldemort or something?"
"Padfoot!" Remus full-out elbowed him this time.
"Ow- bloody- what?"
"You can't talk about that."
"I wasn't talking about it; I only mentioned it, and I don't think that makes me deserving of being hit with your very sharp elbow."
Of course, I thought, Sirius didn't know just how tied up "Prongs' future life affairs" would be with the defeat of Lord Voldemort, but I only answered, "Yeah, that's the idea of the butterfly effect."
"Hey." said James suddenly. "Did you say something about having brothers? When we first started talking, didn't you say that I look like your brother? And when I told you my name is James-"
"Prongs!" Remus interrupted him. "Thinking about a memory in your head makes it more intense as well."
"So I can't even ask for clarification?"
"Well you probably shouldn't. Actually, the sooner we forget all this, the better. When are you planning on leaving?" Remus asked me.
Well I wasn't exactly sure what I was planning at the moment, but Remus' suggestion of cutting things short sounded like a good idea. It was well past one according to my watch, and the conversation I had just had had been a rather demanding one. I didn't much like the feeling of being afraid to speak and say the wrong thing. It felt like walking in a minefield where if you take a wrong step, poof, you've never been born. Even though there was something pretty amazing about seeing the Marauders, right there, in front of me, in person.
I did hope the stone doorway was still there..and I also hoped it would be gone soon, because Merlin knows things could get messed up if there was to be a permanent portal to 1977 right in the middle of the third floor corridor.
"Right, I suppose I really should get going now." I quickly pulled on my socks, stood up and grabbed my bag, which still contained a few sandwiches and some probably very goopy ice cream. Then I took a deep breath, and turned to point my wand at Peter "Alright then-"
"Wait!" he squeaked. "So exactly how good are you with Memory Charms?"
"Good enough." I said. Which really meant that yeah, I'm alright at Charms in general, though I was a bit out of practice with doing memory wipes. Maybe that's why I felt that Peter should go first. But as I was about to cast the spell, James suddenly spoke up.
"Wait. You do know how to get back, yeah?"
"Er, I think so." Honestly I wasn't sure what I would do if I couldn't find the doorway. Owl the Ministry, probably. This seemed like the sort of thing for the Department of Mysteries to sort out.
"Alright. And you're not gonna be wandering around the castle all alone right? I mean, these days and at this time of night.."
I hadn't thought about that, but I was sure it would be fine. I'd been out sneaking around the castle past curfew too many times to count. "Don't worry." I said, "I won't get lost or anything."
James only looked more concerned. "So you are going out there alone?"
"Well I have the Map, don't I?"
"James, she'll be fine." said Sirius.
"Yeah, well, that Hufflepuff's not fine, is he? Been in the hospital wing for over a week now." I had no idea what that was supposed to mean until James continued after a heavy pause. "It's not safe wandering alone out there, with all that's been going on. Don't you remember Dumbledore saying we should try to avoid being out alone after dinner?"
"What are you getting at, Prongs?"
"I think we should come with you." James addressed me, adding quickly, "Not all the way to the future, obviously. I mean to wherever you're going that's in the castle. It can't hurt for us to walk you there, right?"
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" asked Remus, giving James a slightly worried look. "I mean, the longer you're exposed to-"
"I'll be fine, Remus."
Of course I wasn't too familiar with what my grandfather was talking about, but it did remind me that the year I was in was a time of war. Perhaps I should avoid unnecessary carelessness.
"Alright, I'm going down to the Trophy Room. If any of you four want to escort me, I'm fine with that. I'll have to wipe your memories either way. We have to go soon though." I wanted to hurry up in case the door had an expiration time.
So the five of us exited the portrait hole, earning a few angry mumbles from the mostly-sleeping Fat Lady, and made our way down to the third floor.
A/N:I'm still posting chapters as fast as I can for now (and currently working on ch7), but I'll be going to Russia for a couple weeks on July 20th, so I dunno how much I'll get up by then (won't have internet access for a while).
But yeah, so what do ya'll think so far?
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