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Chapter 3 : iii.
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Chapter Image by TreacleTart@TDA
1st September 1976
Hermione woke the following day, and for a moment, completely forgot where she was. It took her a few seconds to remember that she had slept in the Ravenclaw dormitories, twenty-two years in the past. She sat up, wiped her eyes sleepily and felt her heart rate pick up, as she thought of the evening ahead of her. It was the first of September, which meant that a train full of students, who were adults in her time, would be arriving at Hogwarts. James Potter, Lily Evans, Remus Lupin, Sirius Black, Peter Pettigrew and – the person who she was the most apprehensive about seeing – Severus Snape would be on that train. As her pulse accelerated even more at the thought, she heard and felt her stomach rumble, despite her nerves. She had not eaten since she, Ron and Harry were taken into the Hog’s Head, by Aberforth Dumbledore, the night of the battle.
She got out of bed slowly, put back on the clothing she had worn for the last two days, and thought it was a good thing Dumbledore had cleaned them for her. Hermione looked down at the hooded sweatshirt and jeans ensemble she was wearing and thought that she did not look too inappropriate for the time period she was currently in, which was comforting since she would have to venture into town to purchase things she would need. The clothing and other items Dumbledore was not able to provide her with.
As she walked over to her trunk, to retrieve the pouch of money Dumbledore had given her, her stomach growled once more and she placed her hand on it. Where do I go to eat? I don’t think The Great Hall would work, as there are no students except me here. Maybe I’ll just get something in Hogsmeade, she thought.
Still having her beaded bag with her, she put the pouch inside it, stuffed her wand in her front pocket and walked out of the dorm, through the common room and out onto the stairs. As she walked down them she realized, judging by the position of the sun in the sky, she had slept in quite late. It must had been early afternoon at that point. She walked through the silent castle, not seeing anyone on her journey out of the entrance hall, and into the grounds. Upon arriving outside, she stopped for a moment, to take in her surroundings. The sky was mostly cloudy, the sun barely peeked out through breaks in the clouds and the wind blew softly, throwing off the musky scents of late summer. She looked around at the scenery in front of her, still amazed that, for her, everything here was just blown apart and destroyed.
Shaking the thoughts of war from her head, Hermione took a deep breath and started her walk towards Hogsmeade. The journey down seemed to take twice as long alone, which was not a good thing for her. It gave her more time to get lost inside her head.
Okay, so this evening… Don’t speak to anyone unless they speak to you first. Do not bring attention to yourself. She kicked a rock in frustration. Oh, of course people are going to speak to you! You’re new. Different. An object of curiosity. How are you not going to draw attention to yourself? Just simply being here will be enough for everyone to notice you.
As the skyline of the familiar village grew nearer, her anxiety reached its highest point yet. She knew that it would be best if she did not stand out, but she honestly couldn’t figure out a way to achieve that. There was simply no way that she would be able to stop herself from being remembered by some of those students. Surely the girls who she would share a dorm with would recognize her in the future? Should she change her appearance?
No, that won’t work. Madam Pomfrey has already seen me. How in the world would I explain that? If only Dumbledore didn’t bring me to the Hospital Wing…
While she entered the village, and made her way to The Three Broomsticks, she tried to think of any way she could alter herself, without making it too obvious to Madam Pomfrey, but enough to look a bit different.
Girls dye their hair all the time. I could, perhaps, change the color of my hair, she considered as she opened the door to the pub.
When she walked inside, Hermione’s shoulders immediately relaxed and she exhaled in relief. The pub was relatively empty. Only a handful of witches and wizards were scattered around at different tables. She looked behind the bar and saw a very young and – as much as she hated to admit it – extremely beautiful, Madam Rosmerta cleaning a glass and smiling kindly at her. Hermione gave a tight grin in return and briskly made her way to an empty table in the back corner of the room.
She pulled out a chair and sat against the wall, facing the entrance. So many months on the run and constantly looking over her shoulder left her with the feeling of not keeping her back to a door. She slouched down low in her seat, tried to remain unseen and continued thinking of ways she could keep her identity concealed. Her concentration broke when she was approached by the statuesque barmaid, who was basically just walking, talking legs and breast. Old habits die hard, and Hermione couldn’t help but feel a slight twinge of jealously while she took in the friendly smile of the woman in front of her.
“Hello, dear!” Rosmerta greeted warmly.
“Hello,” Hermione mumbled.
“Can I get you something?” She flashed a brilliant smile while holding a quill and pad.
Hermione, who tried to avoid eye contact, ordered a Butterbeer and a sandwich. After Rosmerta took her order and sashayed away – with a few of the wizards’ eyes following her short black skirt – Hermione reached into her beaded bag and pulled out a book to read.
Her eyes didn’t really take in the words as they scrolled across the page. She was distracted by the sounds of whispered conversations, glasses slammed onto tables and silverware clanging on plates. She peered over the top of her book and looked around at the patrons in front of her. It was a painfully familiar scene. The way the people were conversing; quietly, looking over their shoulders, sideways glancing. It was obvious; the first Wizarding War was in its infancy.
As she observed the tense atmosphere around her, Rosmerta returned with her food and drink.
“Here you go,” she said as she placed them in front of Hermione.
Hermione gently placed her book on the table and chanced looking her in the eye. “Thank you,” she replied softly.
Rosmerta eyed Hermione curiously. “You look a bit young to be on your own, dear. Like you could still be at Hogwarts,” she said.
Being taken aback by her bluntness, Hermione wasn’t sure what to say.
“I – er – Well.”
“I don’t mean to pry,” Rosmerta said, smiling. “It’s just not exactly safe to be travelling alone at the moment.”
Hermione couldn’t help but notice that there was nothing but compassion in Rosmerta’s eyes.
She shook her head. “No it’s alright. I understand,” Hermione reassured her. “I am at Hogwarts, actually.”
“Oh!” Rosmerta looked confused and a bit surprised. “I assumed the students still arrived on the train.”
“They – I mean – we do,” Hermione confirmed. Rosmerta’s eyebrows knitted together. “I arrived yesterday,” Hermione continued. “I’ve never attended Hogwarts before - I was home-schooled - but I will be finishing my final two years there. My uncle is the Headmaster and has agreed to admit me. I wanted to have the opportunity to take my NEWTs.”
Hermione felt her face heat up as she lied and wished that Rosmerta would just leave her to eat in peace. Sadly, the opposite happened. Rosmerta pulled out a chair and sat down with her.
“Oh, you’re Dumbledore’s niece? How lovely!” she exclaimed and held out her hand. “I’m Rosmerta, dear. Your uncle is a wonderful man.”
Hermione took her hand and returned her handshake. “Nice to meet you,” she muttered. “I’m Hermione Devereux.”
Rosmerta remained at the table with her while Hermione ate her lunch. She told Hermione how her father owned the pub and would one day leave it to her, gave her advice about Hogwarts – as Rosmerta had only left the school two years ago – told her stories of some of the students. She went on for nearly ten minutes about two young trouble makers – Sirius Black and James Potter. Hermione noticed Rosmerta blush a bit as she spoke about Sirius, which made her almost choke on her Butterbeer. It seemed the curvy barmaid harbored a sweet spot for her best friend’s godfather and it made her wonder if Sirius really was as charming as he was rumored to be, when he was young. Before Azkaban hollowed him and death claimed him. Hermione shivered at the thought.
When Hermione had finished eating and pulled out money to pay for her meal, Rosmerta waved her off.
“No, no, Hermione! It has been such a pleasure speaking with you. It’s on me!” she insisted.
“I couldn’t possibly-“
“Really. It’s nothing at all. Your money is no good here,” Rosmerta winked.
Hermione, who never really liked Rosmerta – mostly due to Ron’s infatuation with her – was touched by her kind generosity. She smiled a genuinely thankful one and put her money back in her beaded bag.
“Thank you, Rosmerta. That is truly very nice of you.”
“Don’t mention it. Just make sure during your next Hogsmeade visit, you stop in and visit. I really enjoyed speaking with you,” Rosmerta told her, as she started to gather Hermione’s empty plate and cup.
So much for not leaving an impression on anyone, Hermione internally grumbled. “Absolutely. It was really lovely speaking with you as well,” she replied, a bit more cheerfully than usual for her.
After Hermione and Rosmerta said their final goodbyes, Hermione gathered her things and started to leave the pub. When she opened the door her bag dropped to the floor and bent down to pick it up. As she stood up, she ran right into a woman who made the hairs on her arms stand up and bile rise in her throat. A young Bellatrix Lestrange. Azkaban had really done a number on the stunning young woman in front of her, she realized. Bellatrix’s hair was long, jet black, shiny and full. Her teeth – as she bared them at Hermione – were white and straight. Her face was full and flush, the sunken in cheeks and dark circles under her eyes missing. She was tall, lean and dressed impeccably. The woman was as gorgeous as she was terrifying.
“Watch where you’re going, filth!” Bellatrix spat at her. She looked like her hand was reaching for her wand.
“I – I’m so sorry,” Hermione barely choked out.
Just as Bellatrix looked like she was about to rip Hermione apart – either verbally or magically – a pale hand with long slender fingers gripped her upper arm. Hermione truly felt like she was about to lose her lunch upon hearing the smooth silky voice that belonged to the man holding onto Bellatrix.
“Now, now, Bella. Surely we mustn’t lose our temper at every small incident,” Lucius Malfoy gently scolded.
Bellatrix snorted in disagreement and ripped her arm out of his hold. She walked past Hermione, and made sure she slammed her shoulder into Hermione as she passed. An identical replica of Draco then stood before her; blond hair, straight nose, grey eyes, pointed chin and an unmistakable aura of wealth. The only difference between Draco and his father was Lucius’ long, shoulder-length hair. Hermione was still frozen.
“Please excuse my sister-in-law,” his lip curled around the title, as if it highly displeased him.
“N-No problem,” Hermione said softly. “If you’ll excuse me.”
She ducked around Lucius and hurried out of the pub as quickly as she could, without flat out running.
She nearly jogged down the street, and took a turn between two buildings. As she stood with her back against a wall and tried to catch her breath, she unconsciously cupped the inside of her left forearm with her right hand. It was where Mudblood had been carved into Hermione’s arm – by Bellatrix – just a few short weeks before. Seeing Bellatrix, or Lucius Malfoy, was nothing she anticipated. She was aware they were a few years older than Harry’s parents and Professor Snape, so she knew there would be no chance of running into them at the school. She felt foolish for not even thinking about them being in Hogsmeade. Of course there was the possibility of running into them there – or any of the Death Eaters.
Hermione remained in that spot for nearly five minutes while she calmed herself down. She figured she should get her shopping done as quickly as possible, so she didn’t run into them once more. Something told her that Bellatrix may not be as lenient with her a second time.
With an hour to spare – before the students arrived – Hermione was back in the Ravenclaw dormitories, changing into her school robes. She took the miniature boxes, which she had transfigured to a tenth of their actual size, out of her bag and returned them to normal. She was very surprised to find a specialty shop in Hogsmeade which sold Muggle clothing – it did not exist in her time. She was able to find a few time-appropriate outfits, undergarments and a few accessories for her stay here. There was also a shop that sold school uniforms that she had purchased some items from.
As she put her new clothing away in her wardrobe, her stomach was in knots. It would not be much longer until she would see so many people she had known. People who had died. She had been through a lot in her short life, but she knew nothing would compare with what was to come. Her nerves began to overwhelm her. Her palms were sweating, her heart felt like it was beating in her throat, she shook from head to toe, and she started to feel a bit dizzy. She sat down on the edge of her bed and placed her head in her hands.
Breathe, Hermione. Just breathe. She began to give herself a pep-talk. You can do this. Yes, it will be quite a shock seeing James and Lily. You know that is going to be the biggest shock of them all. And seeing a young Professor Snape is going to be just…odd. But you can do this.
Hermione got up and walked into the bathroom. She took out her wand, and using a Glamour Charm, she changed her hair to be long, poker-straight and a deep black. After that, she lifted up her left sleeve and made her scar disappear. If she were to pretend she was not a Muggle-born, it would not be ideal for someone to see what was carved into her arm. She looked into the mirror and was pleased with the results of the charm. She still looked like herself, but not quite; exactly what she hoped to achieve. After one last glance at herself she squared her shoulders and left the bathroom.
She continued to repeat her mantra of, You can do this, as she forced herself to walk out of the dorm and through the common room. When she reached the bottom of the stairs she wasn’t sure if she should arrive into the Great Hall with Dumbledore, or try to filter in with the rest of the students. She stood in the corridor and shifted her weight back and forth, each time she changed her decision. Finally she made up her mind and walked towards the Great Hall on her own. On her way down she began to hear the excited babble from the students who now just arrived. She stopped dead at the sound. Fear paralyzed her.
Deep breaths. Come on. You know you can do this! She forced her feet to move again and continued her slow walk towards the oncoming students.
As she turned a corner, she saw them – the students. She almost stopped once more, but something inside her forced her to keep moving. A few girls stopped at the sight of her, whispered to one another, and continued on their way, giggling. Hermione kept her head down and marched straight into the hall, right behind them. She spotted the Ravenclaw table and quickly sat down all the way at the end, and took the nearest seat to the exit.
Even though she planned on not looking around, her curiosity got the best of her. She watched the students as they filed in and began to recognize some faces. Her eyes nearly bugged out of her head as she saw a very young, extremely handsome, blond wizard with a wide, gorgeous smile and sparkling blue eyes strut in and sit down, a few spaces away from her at the Ravenclaw table. It was Professor Lockhart.
Wow… Hermione thought as she looked at him.
Lockhart caught her staring and offered her a wink and a smile. Hermione blushed and put her head down, then suddenly remembered how he looked when she, Harry, Ron and Ginny saw him at St. Mungo’s on Christmas their fifth year. Her smile quickly disappeared.
More and more students filtered in, all laughing and catching up from the summer apart from one another. Ravenclaw table was nearly full, as were the rest of the tables, yet she still hadn’t seen the people she was the most nervous about.
After a few more moments she heard loud laughter behind her, then the sound of someone falling to the ground. Four boys stood around a huddled figure, who was sprawled out on the floor in front of them, his things scattered everywhere.
“Oops! Sorry, Snivelly! Didn’t see you there,” a gorgeous young man, who Hermione immediately recognized, yelled and let out a bark-like laugh. It was obvious, by the tone of his voice, that he absolutely did see the boy he knocked to the ground.
Two of the other boys laughed, one of which – who was wearing glasses and looked strikingly like her best friend – clapped his hand on the handsome boy’s shoulder. They were both extremely good-looking, Hermione thought. Sirius was tall, tan, muscular, had playful grey eyes, and a mischievous grin. The Harry lookalike she knew was James. The only differences were his hair was a bit longer, he had hazel eyes and he was obviously missing a scar. James was a bit more built than Harry and maybe a tad taller.
The other boy who laughed she knew was Peter. He was every bit as unremarkable in his youth as he was as an adult. He was short and chubby with messy, sandy hair and watery brown eyes. He had a very unattractive laugh; it was more like a cackle. It made Hermione’s skin crawl.
The only one who wasn’t laughing was Remus. Hermione thought that James would have been a bigger shock for her, but now that she was looking at him, it was Remus who surprised her the most. He had some scars on his face, but nowhere near as many as he did in her time. His blond hair was thick, shiny and down to his shoulders. But what was most different about him was his eyes. They were wide, golden and full of life. She never realized how dead his eyes had looked in her time, until she saw them then, while he was young.
Hermione couldn’t take her eyes from them all.
“He probably slipped on the grease that’s falling from his hair,” James laughed as he kicked the boy on the floor’s wand away.
“James…” Remus warned.
“James Potter!” a girl shrieked from behind them.
James went rigid; his eyes wide and fearful.
“Uh oh. Warden’s here,” Sirius joked and walked quickly towards the Gryffindor table.
Peter took off after him and Remus shook his head, then followed the other two boys.
“James!” the girl yelled again.
“Bloody hell,” Hermione heard James mutter. She watched him turn around slowly. “Yes Lily?”
Lily? Really? All of them at once?! Hermione complained in her head.
While Hermione stared at the beautiful red-headed girl - who was berating James for bullying yet another student - she almost forgot about the boy on the floor, until he stirred and stood up.
Hermione stopped breathing.
Lily’s eyes narrowed when she seemed to recognized the boy. “Oh…never mind, James,” she said coolly before she turned her back on the two of them and went to join the rest of the Gryffindors.
“Lily! Wait!” James yelled and ran after Lily, but Hermione’s eyes were still on the boy who just stood up.
There was no mistaking him. Long curtains of black hair, a long, hooked nose and deep black eyes, with a look of utter loathing in them as they followed James' and Lily’s retreating figures.
It was Snape.
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