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Hermione started to stir the next morning, but her body still felt so heavy. She turned onto her other side and winced. She didn't know how long she slept, but it must have been a long time. You know that realization that you have when you slept in the same position the whole night? She definitely had that, and the sore right hip to prove it.
Suddenly, Hermione flung herself up in the bed, disoriented about where she was. Slowly, and painfully, all of those memories started flooding back. The battle. Harry. Ron. The Time-Turner. 1976. The hospital wing.
The clicking on heels on the floor brought Hermione back from her thoughts.
"There you are! You are finally awake. How are you feeling dear?" Madam Pomfrey asked.
"Err… okay, I guess," Hermione answered. She knew she was feeling the after effects of the battle, and while it was uncomfortable, Hermione knew that it would be even more uncomfortable to tell the nurse about it or give her a reason to try and examine her further.
"Well, all the same I think you should stay here in bed for a few more hours. You clearly need the rest. Lay back down. And I will have some breakfast sent up. Any requests?" Madam Pomfrey asked.
"Toast. Just toast would be fine, thank you." Hermione answered. She didn't think that her stomach could handle anything else, and she was secretly glad that she didn't have to get up yet. "Can I read while I stay in bed?" Hermione asked the nurse.
"I don't see why not. I might have some back issues of Witch Weekly that might interest you." Madam Pomfrey said, heading for the office in search of some reading material for Hermione.
"Oh, I have some books. Could you please pass me my bag on the chair?" Hermione directed.
Madam Pomfrey picked up the back and passed it to Hermione. She took it with her left hand and she head Madam Pomfrey take a small gasp. When Hermione looked up she saw the nurse looking down at her arm. She quickly brought her arm back down, murmuring thank you, and folded it against her stomach, the other arm folding over it protectively. Suddenly, she didn't want to stay in bed. She wanted to leave and not have to deal with the pity in everyone's eyes when they seem the scar.
However, she was relieved of dealing with this situation any longer when Professor Dumbledore walked into the room. "Hello, Poppy. How is our patient doing this afternoon?" Dumbledore asked.
"Afternoon?" Hermione asked.
"Yes, it's just after one o'clock. I came to check on you earlier, but you were still asleep. Are you feeling rested enough to finish our arrangements?" Dumbledore asked patiently.
"Yes, I would like to figure everything out for the time being. I hate leaving things unresolved."
"Well, I think we should decide which house to place you in." Dumbledore started
"Gryffindor. That's where I was and where I want to be."
"Are you sure? You wouldn't like a change? We can easily sort you again."
"If it's okay Professor, I think I've had enough change for a while. I think it would be a source of comfort to be able to stay in Gryffindor tower and eat at the Gryffindor table. Some consistency to my inconsistency," Hermione explained. Then, acting on a hunch, Hermione asked Dumbledore to tell her about the current Gryffindor students.
"Oh, probably not too much different from the student you left. They are teenagers. Although the years change, and so do fashions and current trends, teenagers do not change. Some study, some do not. They make friendships and have fights. They are romantically involved, and then they are not. They earn accomplishments, and then they earn detentions. Some, might I say, more than others." Dumbledore said this, and added a little chuckle at the end.
"I had a friend who seemed to accumulate detentions, too." Hermione said quietly, thinking about Harry. How strong willed he was and stupidly self-sacrificing to stand up and help those who needed help. She loved him for that.
"Well than, Miss. Granger, you might get along very well with the group of four Gryffindor sixth years. I don't think there will ever be bigger group of troublemakers in this school!" Hermione smiled that this and thought of Fred and George during her fifth year making their getaway from Umbridge. The last time she had seen them, Fred was dead, and George was sobbing over his brother body.
She shook her head. This isn't the time for her to get lost in these thoughts. She will have time later to think about the-
Did he just say four Gryffindor boys? Hermione thought.
"Did you say four Gryffindor boys?" Hermione asked, nervously.
"Yes, it was a rather small number for the Gryffindor boys that year, but they don't let us forget them."
Hermione felt like her heart had jumped into the air; swan dived back down into her stomach and was left beating a mile and minute. But, she was torn. She had a hunch as to who those boys were, and she was both afraid an answer in the affirmative and the negative. She also didn't want to completely ignore the topic, but didn't want to focus on it too strongly. Finally, she thought about a response.
"They sound like quite the little Marauders." She said with a small but clearly guilty smile.
Dumbledore look at her for a moment with a twinkle in his eye. "That was very clever, Miss. Granger. I take it that you know these boys? Or rather, men, in your time."
Hermione deflated. "Yes. Well, some of them, "she admitted. "And some better than others. Which makes me think that cannot be a coincidence. You said that they are in sixth year?" Even though she knew she heard him, she hoped he would correct himself and say Oops! I meant seventh year!
"Yes. Do you think they are part of the reason you were sent back?"
"I think… I think that it starts with them." Hermione answered. If James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew were indeed at Hogwarts during this time, then it stands to reason that there were a lot of other people there at the same time. Harry's mother, Lily, would be there. And Snape. Hermione remembered what she had seen in the pensive from last night. Although she was angry about what happened to him, she promised herself that it wouldn't end like that again.
But, in order to do that, she needed to get close to them. Even become friends with them, if she could. However, that would mean repeating her sixth year again. Hermione let out a frustrated sigh, knowing that she would do it, but it would be like taking two steps forward, and then one step back.
"Miss. Granger, is there something you wish to talk about?" Dumbledore volunteered.
"No, it's just that I have already completed my sixth year and should move onto seventh, but I think… no, I know… that I should stay with the current sixth years. " Hermione explained.
"As important as I think academia is, I believe that you have a rather important job ahead of you. Already knowing most of the material might be good for you. It will allow you a little bit of extra time to concentrate on the task at hand." He said.
"I agree, Professor."
"Now then, to your living accommodations. I would like for you to meet me at 10 o'clock in the morning in the Entrance Hall and I will let you in on my findings. I think the day after tomorrow should give me enough time to make all the arrangements."
"Thank you, Professor Dumbledore." Hermione said quietly.
"Well, than. If I know Poppy like I think I do, I believe that she would prefer if you stay here one more night. It will give me time to get everything straightened out for your upcoming school year. I have also talked to her and she would be delighted if you would assist in some potion making for the upcoming school year. Speaking of which, I must be off in order to get everything ready for our new student." He said.
"Thank you, Professor." Hermione whispered.
"Not a problem, Miss. Granger. I believe the wizarding world already owes you a great deal, and even more with what is to come." Dumbledore said with a gentle smile. At that moment, Madam Pomfrey came back into the room with a tray of breakfast food and beverage.
"You know, Miss. Granger, I would feel better if I had you stay here one more night. You need the rest and healing. "
Hermione had seen enough of Madam Pomfrey to know when to argue and when to not. She accepted that she was going to be staying her until the following morning.
Hermione spent the day reading and dozing. Madam Pomfrey checked in on her from time to time. She always looked like there was more that she wanted to say, but she held herself back. Hermione never asked her about it, because she was afraid the nurse was going to ask her about her scar, and while Hermione had accepted it as a part of her and what she had been through, she hadn't accepted the idea of the reactions of others.
Madam Pomfrey gave her another Dreamless Sleep potion that night, and Hermione woke up ready to leave the hospital wing. She got some clothing out of her beaded bag (a pair of her jeans and one of Harry's t-shirts) and was ready to go when the nurse came to check on her the next morning.
"Well, you look much better today, dear. I think that extra night really helped. Now, if you need anything you come back and see me. I don't know what you have been through, but for someone your age, it must have been something quite… well anyway. I just wanted to let you know that if you need anything my door is always open." When she had finished that, she put her arms around Hermione and gave her a motherly embrace. Hermione stiffened at first, but she than let herself be comforted. They stayed like that for a minute, and when they let go Madam Pomfrey became the nurse again. "Make sure you take it easy," she said before she turned around and walked back into the office.
Hermione hadn't decided what she wanted to do first today, but her stomach decided for her. She headed down to the kitchens to get some breakfast. She walked until she found herself standing in front of the painting of the bowl of fruit. She reached out and tickled the pear, and when it turned into a door knob, she entered and walked down the stairs. Because the students were gone for the summer, there were only a few house-elves in the kitchen. Hermione assumed it was because they were doing some kinds of summer cleaning while the castle was mostly empty. One of the house-elves greeted her at the bottom of the stairs.
"Hello Miss! I is Mitzy. Can I get Miss something for breakfast?" The house-elf asked.
"Hi Mitzy! It's nice to meet you. My name is Hermione. I was wondering if I could get a couple pieces of toast and some tea, please?" Hermione asked.
"Right away, Miss. Hermione," Mitzy replied.
It seemed like it was only 2 minutes later that she was sitting at a small table in the kitchen with a plate of toast and a warm mug of tea. Hermione chatted happily with the house-elf. She asked Mitzy things like how long has she worked here, did she have any family, and how she came to work at Hogwarts. The house-elf was very nice and answered her questions. It was a pleasant morning spent with enjoyable company. She thanked the house-elf and told her she would probably be seeing her around quite a bit when the school year started.
Hermione walked out of the kitchens and was trying to decide where to go. She definitely didn't want to go back to the hospital wing, and the thought of going to the common when it was completely deserted was awful. She knew where she wanted to go, but knew she could never go back there. Unless-
She turned and ran down the corridor and up so many stair cases. One of them moved, and she was forced to take the long way. However, it was well worth it when she finally reached the 7th floor and was standing in front of the tapestry of Barnabus the Barmy teaching trolls ballet. She walked back and forth in front of the empty space of wall thinking there's no place like home.
When she had made her third pass the wall, her breath hitched in her throat. The door that was there was definitely recognizable. She didn't know if it would actually work the way she wanted it too, but seeing this gave her hope.
Slowly she walked up to the door and opened it. When she looked inside, she saw a sight that she never thought she would see again. Home.
She walked into the first floor of The Burrow. The home to the Weasley family. She knew that living room like the back of her own hand. How many times had she sat at the kitchen table and watched Ron and Harry play Wizard's Chess, where Ron inevitably won every game. And the memories of the three of them working on homework in front of the fireplace. She and Ginny huddled up at night talking and giggling about boys. It felt so real. Hermione wouldn't have been the least surprised to see someone walking in through the back door or hearing one of the usual explosions that came from Fred and George's room.
Slowly she walked over to the couch. From the back of the couch she grabbed one of the Afghans that had been knitted by Mrs. Weasley, and snuggled down into the couch. As if the room knew what she wanted, the fire place instantly came to life, and it made the whole room feel even warmer than it had before. From her spot on the couch she continued to look around the room, until she saw something that made her snap.
It was the clock. Mrs. Weasley's clock that hung on the wall and that communicated the locations and statuses of the family. It currently said that all of the residents were home. She knew this wasn't true. There were names on that clock that haven't been born yet, so Hermione knew that it was another addition of the room. She didn't know if she was happy or not to see it, but it didn't matter because either answer still would have resulted in the stream of tears that leaked from the corner of her eyes.
And so she cried. She cried for Harry and Ron and Fred and Lupin and Tonks and Lavender and Sirius and Hedwig and Dumbledore and Dobby and Snape. She cried for the entire Weasley family and everyone else that she was either leaving behind, or who had been taken from her. She cried for her parents, who didn't even know they had a daughter when she left. She cried for the wizarding world and how she left it. She cried for herself and everything that she had been through for the last six years. She cried for so long that she ran out of tears, but still cried. Her lips were cracked and her eyes were swollen and her throat was dry. Her stomach hurt from trying to inhale enough air through her sobs. Eventually, she fell asleep.
When she woke up, it was from a dream where her, Harry and Ron were back in the Lestrange vault at Gringotts. The gold was burning her skin and she was being suffocated by the weight of it all.
It took her a minute to realize where she was. Actually, she recognized where she was immediately, but it took her a minute to realize that this wasn't actually the Weasley house. It was too quite. Even in the dead of night, there were still sounds to be heard here and there. The chickens were roaming in the yard, or the floors were creaking, or you could head the ghoul in the attic moaning.
Hermione sat up on the couch and was just thinking that the only thing that this the first floor of the Burrow didn't have was a bathroom. And then pop! She looked behind her and there was another added door just off of the kitchen. She padded over and saw that there was a modest bathroom with all the necessities. Hermione pulled out a pair of Ron's pajama pants and an old warm jumper that Mrs. Weasley had knitted Ron one year for Christmas from her beaded bag and left them next to the sink. She shucked off her worn clothes and put them inside.
She let the warm water wash over her. It felt so good to be able to see beneath the dirt again. She washed her hair three times until it was clean enough, and then stayed in the shower for another 15, just because. It felt nice to have the warm water wash over her sore muscles and when she stepped out, she felt like a lot had been washed away by the shower. Not just the dirt and grime and blood, but feelings and fears and anxieties.
Hermione put on her pajamas that she had left out and walked back to the couch. She knew that her new life was going to start today. She needed to be rested and ready. She as much as she would miss everyone in the future, she knew that this was where she was needed and would make any sacrifice she needed too in order to keep the ones she loves safe. Or to make them safe this time- because she would. If she was going to do this all over again, she was going to make damn sure she could save everyone she could.
She had survived. If nothing else, she survived and she would survive again. She could handle this. Whatever was to come, she would handle it.