Disclaimer- *le sigh* I own nothing of this magical world you are about to enter.
Hermione woke up the next morning, and she was surprised how much better she felt. She needed the day to grieve and gave it to herself. It didn't mean that she wasn't going to miss her old life or her friends and family, because she missed them desperately. However, this was an opportunity to change. How often do you get to do things over? To fix the mistakes that have been made- or prevent them from even happening. The idea of beginning again was what was keeping her going.
Taking a deep breath, Hermione slowly got up off the couch, grabbed some clothing from her beaded bag, and walked into the bathroom. When she came out she caught a look of herself in the mirror, she saw it indeed had been a bad decision to go to bed with wet hair. It looked even more wild than usual, and she had a funny dent in one side from where her head had been resting on the pillow. She threw it up into a messy knot. She grabbed her wand and put it in her pocket and secured her beaded bag to her wrist. She took one last look around the Burrow. She knew that it would be a long time before she saw it again, if she ever did, and she took that last time and commit every detail to memory.
Hermione was going to go meet Professor Dumbledore today about what was going to happen to her. She needed to earn some money so she could buy her books and uniforms and such. Hermione was bummed that she didn't pack any of her old uniforms in her beaded bag, but she hadn't needed them. And even though Hermione was going to be repeating her sixth year, she didn't think that any of the books that she had already used were going to be part of the required reading.
Remembering to ask these questions to Dumbledore when she saw him, she stopped in the kitchen on the way down to the Entrance Hall to grab some breakfast and say Good Morning to Mitzy. It was early in the morning, so Hermione took her time eating breakfast, and then just walked along the corridors slowly. It was a nice time to take everything in and get ready for what was sure to be busy day.
When she finally reached the Entrance Hall, she saw that Professor Dumbledore was already waiting for her.
"Ah! Good morning Miss. Granger. Are you ready to set off?" He asked her.
"Yes, sir," she replied.
They walked out of the school and down towards the front gates. Hermione didn't know where they were going, and part of her wanted to ask, but the other part of her was really enjoying the silence between to two of them. She felt like she had done so much explaining the last few days, it was nice to enjoy silence with someone else.
They continued to walk until they reached the entrance of Hogsmede.
"Miss. Granger, I have made a few contacts and I have found someone who is willing to take you in. The story is that you are her niece, and you have come to stay with her because you parents have passed away, and as your mothers sister she was your next of kin. This woman also owns her own business, so I have arranged for you to work part time when your schedule permits it, in order for you to earn money for your expenses. She is a lovely person and I think you will find your time living here quite enjoyable.
As for your back story, this is what I have come up with. You grew up in the UK, but when you were 10 your family moved to France and you have been attending Beauxbatons for your education. The Headmistress is a dear friend of mine, and has owled over some papers that have all of your affairs in order for the upcoming school year. Anyway, you have no next of kin when your parents died in a car accident, and it's a dangerous time for a muggleborn witch to be alone. When I heard about your story, I started looking for ways to help and that's how I thought to contact Rosmerta. We are going to tell everyone that she is your mother's sister and you have now been placed in her care." Dumbledore explained.
Hermione listened as they walked. It was a good story, and it covered the lies that they needed to tell Rosmerta, and the ones that she would need to tell the other students at Hogwarts about her sudden appearance. She also couldn't help but find a lot of similarities between the stories that they were going tell everyone, and what was told to Harry for the first 10 years of his life with the Dursleys. When Dumbledore finished talking, they were right outside The Three Broomsticks. He pulled open the door and allowed Hermione to walk in first before following her inside.
It looked just the same. The tables were more or less in the same places, and the mirror behind the bar looked just the same as it did in her time. Even the glasses that were lines up on top of the bar looked to be the same glasses that were served in the future. Even down to the woman behind the bar, who was wiping down bottles of firewhisky, looked exactly like Madam Rosmerta
Hermione's eyes flew open when the woman behind the bar looked up to the door in greeting, and saw that it was in fact Madam Rosmerta.
Dumbledore lead the way over to the bar, greeting Rosmerta as he approached. When Hermione made her way over, Rosmerta looked up and smiled.
"Miss. Granger, this is Madam Rosmerta Rhone. She owns this fine establishment, and has agreed to act as your guardian while you are attending Hogwarts. Rosmerta, this is Hermione Granger."
"Oh, it's lovely to meet you dear. I know that this is under horrid circumstances, but I'm happy to have you." Rosmerta greeted.
"It's nice to meet you too," Hermione said. It's not that it wasn't nice to see Rosmerta, but she had already met her before. Hermione didn't really have much of an opinion of the Rosmerta from her time. The woman had seemed friendly and welcoming, but Hermione was instantly filled with a dislike for the woman every time Ron would attempt at flirting with her.
It's not her fault that Ron could be completely ignorant, Hermione thought to herself.
"Thank you so much for doing this. It's really wonderful of you to take in a stranger," Hermione said in small voice.
"Oh it's nothing! I think this will work out wonderfully, and I really want to help after all that you have been through. I have an extra room, and you won't be here for too long seeing as you're still in school. I was also thinking that you could help out around here and earn some money. You can work during the holidays, and I've arranged it with Albus for you to come down a couple of weekend days a month and work. Merlin knows I need the help. I meant to order 9 cases of butterbeer last week and accidentally ordered 19!" Madam Rosmerta said.
"I would absolutely love to work here. It's the least I can do." Hermione said.
"Well, it sounds like my work here is finished. Why don't I leave you ladies alone and you can get everything settled. I'll check in later on this week and see how everything is going. Don't hesitate to send an owl if you need anything. Rosmerta, I'll see you at the usual time on Thursday evening. Oh! And here Miss. Granger," Dumbledore said, handing Hermione an envelope with the Hogwarts seal on the back before leaving through the front doors.
"Oooh, is that your list of books! We'll have to make sure that we go to Diagon Alley next week and get everything. As nice as it is living in Hogsmede, one does get tired of the same stores day after day. I haven't had a day out shopping in Diagon Alley in too long!" Rosmerta announced. "Now, let's get you settled. Need any help with your trunk?" She looked around for the usual Hogwarts Trunk.
"I didn't have a trunk, I just carried everything in this," she said. Hermione help up her beaded bag. "Undetectable Extension Charm," she answered with a note of pride in her voice.
Rosmerta looked impressed. "Smart girl," she replied, "Okay. We'll have to get you one when we go out, than."
Rosmerta lead the way up stairs. When they reached the landing at the top and went through the door. Inside was a small but nicely furnished flat. It was decorated in warm colors and had a homey feel to it. There was a living room, kitchen, and dining room all connected in the main living area, and Hermione could make out a small corridor off of the living room that she assumed lead towards the bedrooms.
"Here is the main living area. Make yourself at home. Here's never food in the fridge, because I'm always working, but I'll try to do better at that." She started walking down the hall towards the bedrooms. "This one is mine," she said pointing to the door on the right." I've got a bathroom connected. This one is yours on the left and the last one all the way to the end of the hall is the bathroom, which will be yours to use. Check everything out and start to get settled in. I'll be downstairs when you're done. Today will be a crash course orientation for you."
Hermione opened the door of her bedroom and saw that is was simple, but welcoming. There was what looked like a queen sized bed with side tables on the side, a dresser, wardrobe, a tall bookshelf, and a roll top desk. In one corner there were a couple of bins of stuff that looked like they were there for storage, but Hermione didn't mind. She backed out into the hall and checked out the bathroom. It was a good size and plenty of storage for Hermione, who wasn't one to accumulate beauty products.
Hermione opened her beaded bag and took her time unpacking all of her stuff. She folded or hung up all of the clothes that she had, and put her books on the bookshelf (In alphabetical order by subject) and stowed away her toiletries in the bathroom. When she was done she went downstairs and received her first day of training as an employee of The Three Broomsticks.
The day went by fast, with Hermione working at various tasks. She wasn't old enough to be able to serve alcohol (at the age that she was pretending to be), but she was handing out food from the kitchen, clearing and wiping down tables, and restocking anything and everything that need to be restocked. By the time it was 9 o'clock, Rosmerta had sent her upstairs for the evening. She said that she didn't need the help, what with only 4 people in the bar. Hermione was happy to be relieved of her duties. Not that she didn't like it the job, because she did. It was good work, and it kept her mind busy, and she genuinely liked meeting more people from the wizarding community. But she was exhausted from her day of training, and was glad to have some time to herself on her first night there.
Hermione took a shower and dried her hair before getting into bed with a book. She didn't even get through one page before her eyes were closing and she fell asleep.
The next few days passed in much of the same way. Hermione liked living with Rosmerta. She was great balance of having someone around to talk, but also knowing when to give someone their space. They had made a tradition of having lunch together every day and it was becoming one of her favorite times of the day. She loved hearing all of the funny stories about when Rosmerta went to Hogwarts, and about all of the interesting customers she has had come to the Three Broomsticks. Hermione shared a little, but preferred to listen. She had a feeling that Rosmerta knew that, but she was one of those people who had more than enough stories to fill in any silence.
It was also nice to spend time with another woman. For the last year she had been living with Harry and Ron, and didn't have the time or energy to care what her hair looked like, as long as it was out of her face. Rosmerta, however, delighted in everything feminine. One morning Hermione was trying to tame her bushy mane of hair when Rosmerta came out of her room. She took pity on the young witch after hearing her curses of annoyance.
"Crispum," Rosmerta pointer her wand at Hermione and said. Instantly Hermione's hair was tamed into submission. It was still voluminous, but the curls were more defined and natural looking. It suited Hermione's style perfectly and had adapted it as part of her morning routine. Rosmerta told Hermione that she could repeat the spell multiple times to get the curl the way she wanted it, but Hermione liked the look of only casting the charm one, it was casual and easy.
Dumbledore stopped by on Thursday, just like he said, and Hermione found out that it was a tradition of some of the Hogwarts staff to come by on Thursday to have a drink. Hermione was introduced to Professor McGonagall, Flitwick, Slughorn, and the Gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid. It felt weird being introduced to people that you already knew, but she smiled and made small talk. Seeing all of these familiar faces made her excited to get back to Hogwarts, but it was also very disconcerting to see these teachers that she had known for the last seven years and there being no sign of recognition in their eyes. Especially from Hagrid. Hermione had made sure to ask him about all of the animals that he looked after, and Hagrid warmed up to Hermione right away. She promised that when the term started she would make a visit down to his hut for some tea, and let him know how she was settling in.
One afternoon the following week found Hermione crouched down behind the bar. She had a pile of rags to fold and put away and a couple stacks of glasses that were just washed and needed to be restocked. Hermione was humming along to a song that was playing from the radio in the corner. The bell on the door dinged, signaling that someone had just walked in.
"Come on in, I'll be with you in a sec," Hermione hollered from her crouched position.
"Well don't keep me waiting too long, love," a deep male voice replied. It sounded like the person had just come up to the counter.
"Leave her alone Padfoot," said another male voice. "Let the poor girl get her work done."
Hermione froze. "Padfoot" she whispered to herself. She knew she would see him and the other Marauders eventually, but Hermione thought that she has until at least September 1st. She took a deep breath and slowly rose to see over the bar. Two young men were sitting at the bar in front of her. One of them had long black hair that almost reached passed his ears, and a strikingly handsome face full of angles that were both hard and soft at the same time. Young Sirius Black was sitting in front of her. Although in her time she didn't know him for too long, there was no mistaking it. When she had met him, his face was more hollowed and his eyes held the lingering darkness from his time spent in Azkaban, but he had an aura of life and laughter around him. This younger version was even more striking, and the good time vibes almost knocking her over. When he saw her, he gave her one of his most charming smiles and a wink.
She looked over to his companion and was met with a young Professor Lupin. Remus, she thought to herself. It was going to be a long time before he was ever her professor. He looked much younger here, his sandy blonde hair had more shine and luster to it than it had when she met him. His face was handsome, and though there were a few scars that lingered there, it didn't take away from his overall look. He smiled at her and offered his apologies for his friend.
"Sorry about him. We tried obedience training, but it never stuck," Remus said with a troublemaking grin.
"Moony, I'm hurt. You know that I ace every test put before me," Sirius said with a note of smugness. Turning back to Hermione he asked, "New girl, eh?"
Before Hermione could answer, Rosmerta came out from the back office and yelled clear across the bar. "Sirius Black, you better behave yourself," as she made her way toward the bar.
"Rosmerta, darling- you look ravishing. I just stopped by to see if you have finally decided the hell with it and accept my proposal to run away with me, when I met your new hire. With as much time as I you and I spend together, I think I should make myself acquainted." He said with smirk to Rosmerta, and a bow to Hermione. "Sirius Black, at your service."
Hermione was a little taken aback by this Sirius. She had known that he was quite the troublemaker when he was in school, but she wasn't expecting this. While he was staying at 12 Grimmauld Place he had his bouts of merriment and enjoyed a joke or a funny story, and if this was him at the prime of his life, Hermione was coming to understand the toll that Azkaban actually had on him.
"Erm… Hermione Granger," she said. Then, just curious to see his reaction, she asked "So you know my Aunt Rosmerta?"
"Your Aunt?" Sirius sputtered. Hermione didn't know what came over her at this point, but she felt like he needed to be taken down a bit.
"Yes, and by the sounds of it, are you to be my new uncle?" She asked, fighting very hard to not to smile.
Sirius' neck started to turn pink, and she knew that she had won that round. However, it was Remus who her attention turned too. He was hanging onto the bar to keep himself up from laughing.
"Oh Sirius, that was priceless," he said. When he calmed himself down he extended his hand. "Remus Lupin and it is an honor to meet you. I can't believe James and Peter missed that," he said.
"Missed what?" Asked a voice by the door.
In walked James Potter and it took Hermione's breath away. He looked so much like Harry. Considering the fact that Harry Potter was her best friend- she could tell that there were subtle differences between the two; the color and shape of their eyes, the length of the nose, and the angle of the chin. However, there was no mistaking the mop of untamable black hair that lay on the top of his head. He walked over with a smile on his face, followed by a shorter boy with mousy blonde hair.
Sirius cleared his throat. "Nothing, Prongs. Just meeting the new help," he said. "This is Hermione- Rosmerta's niece. Hermione this is James Potter and Peter Pettigrew." He introduced them.
While she should have known that Pettigrew wouldn't be far behind them, it still didn't stop her from being momentarily shocked at seeing him. In her mind, he was probably one of the biggest reasons as to why she was here. His betrayal started a domino effect of death and destruction of innocent lives. However, she was here to right wrongs that had been done. If he happened to be one of them, she would do it.
Extending her hand to Peter, first, she shook his in greeting. He looked a little taken a back at being noticed before James, and his ears went a bit pink at the attention. She then turned her attention to James Potter. She shook his hand as well, but held on a little longer than she did with Pettigrew. She couldn't help it, because he looked so much like Harry. It was like being introduced to an old friend.
"What can I get you, guys? Butterbeer?" Hermione asked. When she heard four yes's, she grabbed four bottles, flipped off the tops, and set them on the counter where each boy sat.
"Now what are you four doing here? School hasn't started, and I thought the deal was that I put up with you lot for 10 months of the year and you give me the last two in peace," Rosmerta said with a teasing smile.
"Oh come now, Rosmerta. You miss us when were gone. Plus, we're out doing our school shopping and we had to stop by The Three Broomsticks when we're in town." James explained.
"Well if you're doing you school shopping, why aren't you in Diagon Alley bothering Tom at the Leaky instead?" Rosmerta prodded.
"As any good students, we need to stock up on quills and ink, but a restock of our Marauding materials is a must. How else will we keep up our reputations? Besides, Gambol and Japes doesn't hold a candle to Zonko's. I wish a new pranking supply store would move into Diagon Alley. It would make it so much more convenient to have access to Dungbombs wherever we are." Sirius rebutted.
Hermione hid a smile. She knew that Fred and George would be moving into a storefront during her time, and they would be wildly successful in Diagon Alley. She didn't know if the twins had made the connection that Sirius was the Padfoot of the Marauders. Sirius had been beyond the Veil when their joke shop had taken off, and never got to see his wish come to fruition.
"That's funny, dear. I've see your list of required school materials and I didn't see any Zonko's products listed," Rosmerta said to Hermione.
"You're going to Hogwarts?" Remus asked.
Rosmerta took this moment to wander back into her office and leave the young people to talk. She was happy to see Hermione relaxing and hanging out with the boys. While they could be troublemakers, she knew they were very nice and trusted that they would look out for her adoptive niece.
"Mmmhmm. I got everything all sorted out with Professor Dumbledore. He even told me that if I wanted too, my aunt could apparate me to Kings Cross Station and I could take the Hogwarts Express. I live so close to the school, but it might be a nice time to meet some new people before classes start," Hermione explained.
"You should. The train ride there is always fun. It helps build up the excitement, especially if it's your first year. Well, not being a first year, but it being your first year of attendance. What year will you be?" James asked.
"I'm a sixth year," Hermione said.
"Wicked! Us too!" piped up Peter, who looked like he had surprised himself at the outburst.
"Do you know which house you will be in, or do you have to wait until the sorting?" Remus asked.
Hermione shook her head. "Professor Dumbledore asked me if I wanted to be a part of the sorting ceremony. He said something about it being tradition and making sure every student had the chance to partake, but I would stick out like a sour thumb surrounded by a bunch of 11 year olds." The boys snicker a bit at this. "I went to see Dumbledore about my transfer and he sorted me there. I'm in Gryffindor," she said with a smile. She awaited the reactions that she knew would come.
Sirius just whooped and hollered in approval. Pretending to hold a sword over his head and yelling "Where dwell the brave at heart!"
James started asking her if she played Quidditch because the team was looking for a new seeker.
Remus started talking about the classes that were offered for sixth years.
Peter just stood there smiling like he was excited that his new friend was going to be in the same house as him.
"Woah, how many of me do you think there are? Okay, yes I'm happy to be in Gryffindor. I've read about it in Hogwarts; A History and I think I'll like there. No, I don't play Quidditch but I enjoy watching it. I'll be taking Potions, Charms, Transfiguration, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Ancient Runes, Arithmancy, Herbology, History of Magic, and Astronomy."
"You've read Hogwarts; A History?" Remus asked.
"Not now Remus. You two can moon" Sirius wiggled his eyebrows at this word, "about books later. It seems we have a new classmate. Chances are, love, you will be spending a lot of time with us."
"Don't pay any attention to him, Hermione. His bark is worse than his bite," Remus replied, wiggling his own eyebrows back at Sirius. Sirius barked with laughter at the rebuttal.
"So Hermione, you said that you were transferring. Where did you go to school before?" James asked politely.
"I was at Beauxbatons," Hermione answered.
"Oooh, 'ze French girls. Ju know vat 'zey say?" Sirius said with a poorly executed French accent and a seductive smile.
Hermione had to laugh at that. Although it was very unsettling to be surrounded by people who were dead when she left her time, she was also surprisingly relaxed.
"Padfoot, that was awful. Don't quit your morning job," James said.
"Morning job? Don't you mean your day job?" Hermione corrected. All of the boys laughed at this, even James.
"Yeah, probably. I think all those muggle clichés are so funny, but I can never remember how to say them quite right." He explained.
"Yeah, he's horrible at them. What was the one that you said to our dear Lily-flower last year? You were walking to class when Snape sent a tripping jinx at your feet. Lily started to laugh and you were trying to tell her that if she had tripped you wouldn't be laughing. What was it? If the broomstick was on the other foot…" Sirius said laughing while James face was turning pink.
Remus grinned. "Then she started yelling at him for only talking about Quidditch and being so arrogant and self-centered."
"Mates, now what kind of impression are we giving our new friend about me?" James looked around and asked.
"The right one," Peter said. This sent a whole new wave of laughter from everyone; even Hermione couldn't resist a small chuckle. She felt bad for James, but she knew that he got the girl in the end.
"Well everyone, as much fun as this has been" James glared at his mates, "we've got a bunch of shopping to finish. Hermione, you really have been a dear but we must bid you adieu." James said with a little snicker at the word 'dear'.
"It's been an absolute pleasure to meet you. Will we see you on the Hogwarts Express? If you decided to, let me extend to you the exclusive invitation to sit with the most handsome and eligible bachelor in the whole school?" Sirius said, standing up tall and puffing out his chest impressively.
"Sure. Are you going to introduce me?" Hermione said with a cheeky grin.
"Oh man, Hermione you have to sit with us!" Remus said though his laughter.
"Serves you right for embarrassing me, Sirius," James added.
"What he means is that you can sit with us, if you want," Peter added with a shy smile.
Hermione looked over at him. Although the thought of how Peter Pettigrew ruined so many lives, she didn't feel like she was talking to the same person. This boy was sweet and shy and eager to be accepted. If that was what it was going to take to keep bad things from happening and reset events from the past, then she would do it. "Of course Peter. I would love to sit with you."
The boys left their money on the counter for their butterbeers and waved goodbye. They left with promises to keep a look out for her on September 1st and save her a seat.
When they left, she went back to the task that she had been working on before her brief but welcome interruption. Her emotions were all over the place. Seeing loved ones come back to life, and being in the company of the one who she hated. On top of that… there was James.
He looked so much like Harry that there was a dull ache in her chest every time she looked at him. From the brief meeting she saw that there were some similarities between the two, but James seemed a lot more confident in himself. His presence was noticed and he knew it. Harry always seemed like all he wanted to do was pass by unseen. Is James a version of Harry that he would become if given the chance to grow up with his parents in his life?
There were also other emotions, too, about all of them.
She couldn't help but notice how handsome Sirius was. Although she he was just flirting with her to get a reaction, she couldn't help but be pleased that he did it at all. She couldn't wait to get to know them better. She wanted to talk to James and find out more about Lily, talk to Remus about books and encourage him into teaching, and talk to Peter just to get his confidence a rise.
Hermione hadn't forgotten about why she was sent back to this time. She knew that there were things that needed to change, and she had things to do. She needed to find all of those Horcruxes again and destroy them. However, there were only five at this time. But Dumbledore's portrait had told her to come back to this time for a reason. Plus, if she was going to be here and go through all of this again, it was only fair that she had some fun along the way. She earned it.
She was definitely going to ride the Hogwarts Express.