Chapter Two - Recreating Fate
Disclaimer: I own nothing except this miserable plot line. Everything else is J.K. Rowling's.
In the moment after stepping into the void, Hermione felt formless. Yet, she could almost feel hands touching her and voices whispering. Later, she would swear that she had heard Dumbledore's voice saying, "Good luck, Hermione." After what seemed to be either an instant or hours, her newly reformed feet settled on something solid.
Upon glancing around, she found herself in the Hogwarts Library, in the doorway of the restricted section. The setting sun was shining through the windows illuminating the floating dust.
Hermione looked around hopefully. The library was empty, just as it had been the last hundred times she had entered it. She was silent, waiting for a sign that something besides the equivalent of Apparation within Hogwarts had occurred. It was in vain. She began walking through the shelves, not noticing the lack of dust or the scent of freshly varnished wood. At the end of an aisle, she collapsed to the floor, shuddering and taking in deep, gasping breaths.
"Could you please be quiet out there, some people use the library to study instead of a place to sob after getting their stupid selves lost," a voice said exasperatedly from behind a bookshelf.
"Who are you?" she asked, hoping to discover something about her situation.
"Obviously you are a new transfer student or a first-year who was held back until they demonstrated enough maturity to handle living away from home. Otherwise, you would know that I am Head Boy and not someone accustomed to being yelled at by idiots who can't find their way to the Great Hall for the Sorting Ceremony" the voice replied scornfully.
Hermione leaped to her feet. "Where are you? Let me see you," she ordered with a voice hoarse from lack of use as she drew her wand from her robes. She heard footsteps approaching her from behind the shelf.
A tall boy with black hair and glacial grey eyes appeared before her.
"Can you see me?" he asked caustically.
Hermione could not believe that she was in the presence of a living human being after the endless days of solitude. She reached out her hand as if to touch him, but he grabbed it, forced it down, and stepped away from her.
"You are real," she murmured.
"Why would you think that I am not real?" he asked coolly.
"No reason, I just didn't expect anyone to be in here," she answered somewhat honestly, rather obviously avoiding eye contact.
"As you know, since you appear to be a student, school started today. The library is technically open, though you are supposed to be in the Great Hall."
"School started today?" Hermione said to herself, turning away from the Head Boy.
"How stupid are you, exactly?" he asked. "Why else would you be here?"
Hermione ignored his comment, thoughts churning in her head. One floated to the surface. She turned around again.
"Is Dumbledore here?" she asked desperately.
"Yes, but he is in the Great Hall with everyone else," he replied, exasperation evident in his every gesture. He looked over her appearance and noticed the Gryffindor crest on the clasp of her cloak. "Since you've been Sorted, you ought to know where it is. Now follow me."
Hermione walked mechanically toward the entrance to the library behind the Head Boy. She followed him through the halls that she knew so well. Her dread increased as they drew nearer to the place where she had burned the corpses. She could almost smell the burning flesh, stinging her nose. Right before they entered the Great Hall, she turned to the student next to her, hoping to distract herself from the memories.
"What is your name?" She almost cringed at such an inane question.
"Tom Riddle." He opened the doors just in time for the entire student body to see Hermione collapse and Tom Marvolo Riddle, Head Boy, catch her against himself before she reached the stone floor.
Hermione started upon waking in a white hospital bed, but she relaxed when she saw Dumbledore's twinkling blue eyes.
"How are you feeling, Miss…?"
"Granger, Hermione Granger, sir. I'm fine," she answered.
"Are you sure about that Miss Granger?" he asked gently. "According to Madam Flager you are severely undernourished and show symptoms of a few curses that were not properly removed. You are completely safe here," he assured her.
"What is the date?" she asked, staring at his auburn hair and beard, face filled with confusion.
"It is September 4, 1944, a Monday and the first day of the term."
"How did I get here?" she whispered, never expecting that changing her fate would involve so much.
"Mr. Riddle was kind enough to carry you here after you fainted in the Great Hall. You gave everyone quite a shock, our Head Boy included, I daresay."
"Tom Riddle?"she asked. She hoped that she had misheard.
"Yes, he is our Head Boy and a member of Slytherin House. I think he is still here if you would like to meet him."
Hermione closed her eyes, trying to make sense of her situation.
Footsteps sounded on the tile floor.
"Professor, may I return to my rooms?" Tom asked as he stepped into view around the curtains when Dumbledore mentioned him. "I need to prepare for my classes tomorrow."
Hermione's eyes snapped open at the voice of the person who would become the murderer of everything she had ever loved. She frantically cast her eyes about searching for her wand.
Failing to spot it, she watched him with the fear and hatred of a cornered wolf, crazed by pain from its wounds.
Tom's face was emotionless as he waited for Dumbledore's response, though he definitely noticed Hermione's reaction to him.
"Go ahead, Mr. Riddle. I will see you in Transfiguration tomorrow." Tom turned and left the room silently.
"Though I would have preferred to wait until you were better rested, I must ask you what you are doing here, Miss Granger," Dumbledore continued once Tom was gone. "You are obviously a witch and appear to be a sixth or seventh year. You are even wearing Gryffindor robes. Yet, I have never seen you before, and I am the Head of Gryffindor House."
"I don't think that I can tell you…I mean, I shouldn't," she rambled. "…I am in Gryffindor but…well, it's very difficult to explain."
"Very well then. I will give you time to think and talk to you again tomorrow. Madam Flager says that you are to stay here overnight to give her time to fully reverse the curses you suffered and make sure that you are physically well enough for classes. Good night, Miss Granger."
Hermione was woken up the next morning by the cheerful voice of the school nurse.
"Wake up, dear. You're well enough to be up and about and Professor Dumbledore is here to see you. I've brought you a fresh set of robes and your bag is on that chair. Just come up to the front of the ward when you're dressed," she said.
Hermione took her time, not looking forward to what she was afraid would become an interrogation.
"Good morning, Miss Granger. Why don't we go to my office for a bit more privacy?"
Hermione nodded in agreement and followed her former Headmaster office, completely oblivious to her surroundings as she fretted about what she was going to say.
"Is there anything you would like to tell me, Miss Granger?" he asked after they were seated, he behind his desk and she in an overstuffed red chair.
"Not reall…" Her voice dropped off. "What is that?" she asked, trying to hide her shock as she pointed to the stone arch against the back wall.
"It is just a curiosity piece. I take it that you have seen it before?" he asked, looking at her intently.
"Yes, well, not here, but somewhere else," she replied, uncomfortable lying to her form Headmaster.
"Most curious, as I have been in possession of it for several years. That is the Portal of Thwarted Fate. Supposedly, it can rescue a witch or wizard from their fate, though the means by which it achieves this aim are not known. Unfortunately, the instructions to it have been lost for centuries. According to legend, they are found only by those that the portal chooses to help on their way. It is also said to be completely irreversible by any magical means or otherwise," he said. At this, Hermione turned pale.
"Completely irreversible?" she inquired weakly.
"If one desired so strongly to remove themselves from their situation, why would they want to be able to undo their choice? Do you truly want to return to the place from whence you came?" he asked.
"No," she answered, "but I never expected anything like this to happen."
"What exactly happened, Miss Granger?"
"I seem to have been sent back fifty years."
At this Dumbledore's eyebrows rose upon his forehead. "Perhaps you ought to explain why you felt the need to use the portal in the first place, Miss Granger," he suggested. "I assure you that anything you choose to tell me will not leave this room."
With this reassurance, Hermione began to tell Dumbledore the events of the past several months, though not in great detail, only revealing that she had been a student at Hogwarts when a dark wizard destroyed the school and left her trapped inside, completely alone with no options other than to use the portal.
"In light of your situation, I think it would be best for you to finish out your schooling here at Hogwarts. If you feel well enough, I will speak with Headmaster Dippet and the other professors about Sorting you and testing your aptitude to determine your dormitory and schedule," he spoke after she finished her narrative.
Hermione nodded her assent. Dumbledore smiled compassionately before disappearing through the fireplace, presumable to speak with the Headmaster. He returned only moments later.
"The Headmaster is willing to see you now for Sorting. I have told him that you are the daughter of some family friends who died in the Muggle War, so he will not question you about your past. Since you have been Sorted before, you have nothing to worry about. Follow me, please."
Hermione walked with Dumbledore to the gargoyle that hid the spiral staircase to the Headmaster's office. He murmured the password and walked up the stairs, gesturing for her to follow.
"I will wait outside. Good luck," he offered, opening, then closing the door behind her.
The Headmaster was crouched over his desk, his bald head shining and nose twitching like a rabbit's.
She cleared her throat and he jumped up.
"You must be Miss Granger, here to be Sorted. I am Headmaster Dippet. Welcome to Hogwarts. Well, just slip on the hat over there on the stool and we'll see where you belong."
Hermione pulled the hat onto her head and waited for the voice of the hat to speak.
"Miss Granger, being Sorted once wasn't enough for you? But I can see that you have changed a great deal since I last looked through your head."
"Yes, but I belong in Gryffindor," Hermione thought.
"Now you do. Remember I wanted to put you in Ravenclaw," the hat reminded her. "You are more than suited for Godric's house, though you have put a bit too much effort into the Dark Arts than he would have preferred, now that I look more closely. Hmm… What's that? A hint of Slytherin? Buried ambition, perhaps? Or maybe cunning, not unexpected with your history. But overall, I have to say GRYFFINDOR!" the hat shouted.
"Congratulations, Miss Granger," Professor Dippet said feebly. "I'm sure Professor Dumbledore, your Head of House, will show you to your dormitory. Dumbledore will give you your schedule."
Hermione left the office.
"Am I correct that I have a new student in my house?" Dumbledore asked, eyes twinkling.
"Yes," Hermione answered, smiling tiredly.
"Then I will show you to your room. You are seventeen years old?"
"Yes, and I turn eighteen in a few weeks."
"Then I shall put you in with seventh year girls. I am sure that you will prove yourself capable of continuing your education where you left off. I will have several uniforms, school items and a trunk sent up to you, since you appear to have none."
"I think I have enough to pay for them myself, sir," Hermione said as they walked through the very familiar halls toward the Gryffindor common room.
"Perhaps, but you may need your money once you have graduated, since you have no family here to help you. It is no problem. Hogwarts has funds set aside to help students with great financial need. You are not the first to have availed yourself of it and you will not be the last. Here we are, your common room. The password is 'Valor.' Go up the left staircase to the end of the hall. Your dormitory is the last door on the right. I will see you in the Great Hall at dinner. Then I would like to meet with you to discuss the courses you plan on taking this year."
Hermione flinched at the mention of seeing the Great Hall again. "Do you think I could take my dinner in the room for tonight? I want to get accustomed to my room," she lied.
He looked at her intently, seeming to see through her untruth, but agreed. "Very well, but only tonight."
Hermione walked slowly to her new room. The beds were not yet made, so she easily found the unclaimed one. She curled up on top of the covers, hugging her bag to her chest and fell into an uneasy sleep.
"Is she sleeping?" Hermione heard someone whisper.
"I think so," another answered. Someone walked toward to door and left just as someone else entered.
"Why are you whispering, Minnie?" a third girl giggled loudly.
"Because the new girl is here sleeping," the girl called Minnie whispered furiously.
"Really? She's in our room?" the loud girl shrieked.
Hermione rubbed her eyes and sat up. As soon as the girl noticed, she began talking.
"Hi, I'm Louisa Brown, so pleased to meet you, we were all wondering who you were during the feast, there are so few transfer students, especially in the higher years. Did you say what your name is yet? Oh, I haven't given you a chance, sorry." With that, she became completely silent.
"Um…Hi. I'm Hermione Granger," replied Hermione, glancing about nervously.
"Oh, that's wonderful, what a neat name, isn't that from a myth or something?" Louisa asked.
"Minerva," she called across the room, "What is the name Hermione from? That's Minerva McGonagall" Louisa commented to Hermione. "She knows practically everything. She should have been Head Girl, but some snob in Ravenclaw got it. We all swear that her father paid Dippet to choose her." Hermione was too astonished at seeing her future Tranfigurations professor in a tartan nightgown to pay close attention to the chatter.
"Pleased to meet you," said Minerva as she walked up to shake Hermione's hand. "I hope for your own sake that you know how to make a Silencing Potion," she added with a quirky grin.
"Louisa," she continued, "Hermione was the daughter of Helen of Troy and Menelaus, remember, the witch who gave Paris a love potion?"
"Oh, how romantic, I love that story. I've always thought that Paris must have looked a lot like Tom Riddle. Have you met him yet? Don't you think he's the most handsome boy you've ever seen?" Louisa said with a sigh, somehow maintaining her two-hundred words per minute speed.
"Yes, I've met him," Hermione said coolly, trying to keep her hatred of the boy who would become Lord Voldemort from her voice. Based on what the girl had already said, Hermione didn't think she would appreciate it. "He seems just like any other arrogant Slytherin to me. He managed to call me silly, stupid, and immature in the first three minutes of our conversation."
"Oooooh, you've already spoken to him? You are so lucky!" Louisa squealed. "I've been trying to get him to speak to me for two years!"
"Yes, we know, Louisa," said Minerva. "It's time for dinner," she changed the subject. "Are you going, Hermione?"
"No, I'm having dinner here tonight.
"We'll see you later, then. Come on, Louisa," Minerva said, rolling her eyes at Louisa's continuing prattle.
Hermione looked at the grandfather clock against the wall. It was a quarter after six. She heard a pop as a house elf appeared with a heaping tray of food.
"Here is Miss's dinner," the elf said timidly.
"Thank you," Hermione replied kindly. "What is your name?"
"You is wanting to know Lorry's name?" the elf asked disbelievingly.
"Your name is Lorry? I'm Hermione."
"Hello, Miss Hermynee. I hopes Miss enjoys her dinner. You can call Lorry if you needs anything," the elf said before disappearing.
"Good-bye," Hermione said to the empty room.
Hermione stepped out of the Gryffindor common room into the hallway. She looked both ways and tried to remember how to get to Dumbledore's office. She hadn't been paying attention when he led her there earlier. She heard someone approaching. Her hand went to her wand reflexively. Tom Riddle appeared around the corner.
"Dumbledore asked me to show you the way to his office after dinner, since I am Head Boy. Follow me," he commanded.
Deciding that silence was the best course of action, she followed him without a word, though she didn't hesitate to allow her hatred for him to show on her face, since she was unobserved.
When they arrived at the office, Tom turned to her and said, "Have a nice term, I probably won't see you again since I doubt that you and I will have any of the same classes, even if you are a seventh-year." He walked off without another word, leaving her to glare after him.
"So Miss Granger, what classes have you had in the future?" Dumbledore said, smiling as she seated herself in his office.
Schooling her face, Hermione began listing them off: "NEWT-level Potions, Arithmancy, Charms, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Transfiguration, Ancient Runes, Herbology and History of Magic."
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows and looked at her over his half-moon glasses. "Are those all of them, Miss Granger?" he asked, eyes twinkling.
"Yes," she said somewhat defensively.
"You misunderstand me, Miss Granger, your schedule is very impressive. Do you mind if I ask what your O.W.L. scores were?"
"I got ten O.W.L.s, all Os except in Defense Against the Dark Arts, where I got an E, but I'm confident that my extra study over the last year and a half more than makes up for it. I dropped Astronomy and Care of Magical Creatures last year. That's why I only have eight classes instead of ten," she explained.
"It appears that you will have the same schedule as our Head Boy for this term. In order not to arouse suspicion about your knowledge of the castle, I will have him show you to your classes tomorrow from the Great Hall. I expect to see you there for breakfast," he said seriously, looking over his glasses.
"Yes, sir, I'll be there," she answered quietly. A small portion of the dread she felt at the prospect appeared on her face.
"Very good. Good night, Miss Granger."
"Good night, Professor."