Potions lessons that involved both Gryffindor and Slytherin students were always tense, and that morning was no different. There seemed to be an invisible line that divided the red and green ties, the only form of communication they shared were insults, and Severus Snape found it one of his most trusted forms of entertainment. He had set the fifth years on a task to create an ageing potion that, when consumed, should increase one's age by ten years. He did it specifically so that any of his students who considered marrying one of their peers, would face what they would look like in a decade, he much enjoyed playing God in his students' lives.
"Very well" he stood from his chair and slowly began evaluating the colours forming in the cauldrons, all seemed well. "Take one spoonful each, if you take any more you will be stuck as a twenty five year old" he lied- an increase in portion would merely increase the effects to twenty years, but he didn't wish to deal with that in his classroom.
Slowly each student began to hesitantly consume the potion, and their faces screwed in pain as their gangly limbs became muscular and in proportion, some began to clap and cheer as their acne disappeared, Lavender Brown let out a cry of aggravation and Snape could only guess that it was because her flat chest had barely changed at all.
"Um... Professor" came the ever nervous voice of Neville Longbottom, Snape turned on his heel, nose already upturned in annoyance.
"Yes" he drawled, enjoying watching as the now 6 foot boy looked even more awkward in his body than usual.
"Hermione... she's gone... I - I made her disappear" his low voice cracked in fear as the Potions Master's eyes went black
"You did what ?!" He demanded sharply, taking long strides to the desk that Mr Longbottom had shared with Miss Granger, in the girl's place were her robes, which lay in a heap on the stone floor. For a blind moment Snape was at a loss for words. Not for the first time he wondered how a boy born to such incredibly gifted parents be incompetent enough to vanish a girl from an ageing spell? Severus had been the first Potions Master to not be responsible for any long lasting fatalities in his classroom- an achievement he was determined to maintain.
Suddenly a small, solemn whimper could be heard coming from the disregarded cloth on the floor, and a lump that slowly grew made itself known until a stark naked child appeared, causing shrieks of manic laughter. Snape would have laughed cruelly at the bazaar situation, however now that a Professor Umbridge had been sent from the Ministry to spy on Hogwarts and its inhabitants, he realised it would not exactly look appropriate if he and his students were seen snickering at a naked toddler.
"Granger" he demanded the girl's attention, "are you in any pain?"
His worst fears were confirmed when the brunette merely stared at him in fear. He could feel a headache forming in the front of his temple, it seemed that the potion had regressed Granger's mental abilities too. He kneeled down and quickly wrapped the too-big robes round the child and guided her in the direction of the door.
To the surprise of many, Severus Snape did not hate children; it was teenagers who he had no patience for, and being surrounded by the endless petty drama of hormonal adolescence had undoubtedly contributed to the bitterness in his demeanours. Small children (such as what Hermione had become) could not be held responsible for their annoyances and could be raised out of their bad habits.
"Silence!" He barked at his students, who were chattering loudly, he felt the little child jump slightly and mentally cursed himself "You will work in complete silence until I return from taking Miss Granger to the hospital ward" he softened his tone only slightly before striding in the direction of help.
Minerva McGonagall also had a headache; school had only begun two weeks ago yet the scrutinising gaze of a particular pompous pink squeaking ministry worker brought an awful tension between her temples, thus why she had decided to take a stroll through the corridors and ensure that Professor Umbridge was not seeing things she shouldn't.
"Morning Severus" she said instinctively, having seen the billowing black robes from the corner of her eye, a small bundle of brown curly hair followed him and for a few more steps Minerva thought nothing of it, until she remembered that Professor Flitwick was teaching, as should Snape be! She retraced her steps until she was standing opposite the Potion's Master, and glanced at - yes, it was a child- scandalously.
"Severus, is that a child you have with you?" she could barely keep the shrill tone in her voice from escalating.
"No Minerva, I told Filius to try some anti-wrinkle cream and it seems to have worked wonders" He answered in his usual sarcastic drawl
"Don't get sharp with me Severus!" Occasionally she could not help but see her colleague as the student he once was to her, and it still felt odd when he spoke to her in such a casual manner. "Where did you get her?" yet before he could answer, she crouched so that she was eye level with the little girl, who looked positively terrified, "and what is your name, wee one?" she asked in her softest voice. The child looked hesitant, and waited a few moments before answering,
McGonagall froze, and slowly stood until she was staring straight in Snape's pained eyes.
"Severus, are you telling me that somehow Hermione, MY Hermione has been regressed to a child?" Her tone was deathly calm, as she did not wish to frighten the child.
"Blame Mr Longbottom, he is responsible for making a royal mess of what should have been a simple potion" he said sharply, "I was attempting to solve the issue by taking her to Poppy"
"Good grief! Never have I seen the likes of it!" Minerva half shrieked, however seeing the little Hermione begin to tremble, she wavered, "Hermione, come here sweetheart, we're going to make you better" she said, taking the infant in her arms. It felt rather odd to be holding such a small child, as she had not done so in many years, however the impressionability of the little one brought out something that could only be described as maternal instinct.
"Am I sick?" Hermione asked in a solemn voice, it was clear she had the same maturity from a young age from how her hazel coloured eyes filled with knowledge.
"No sweetheart, not exactly, but it's time to visit a very lovely nurse"
When they arrived at the medical station, Poppy Pomphrey repeated much the same sentiments as McGonagall, "In all my years: never have I heard of such a thing happening, the- the ingredients are completely different in regression spells!" she vented as she wracked through her cupboards of medicine. By this point, Albus had been informed of the incident and the four adults remained in the hospital wing with a rather helpless child, who had not relaxed in the fifteen minutes that she had been there.
"Severus, surely you know of a potion to aid Miss Granger?" The headmaster said in his ever relaxed, light tone as he sat next to the child on the hospital bed and placed an arm around her shoulders.
"You do understand the gravity and complexity of Hermione's condition, Headmaster?" Snape said incredulously, "the potion has essentially eradicated ten years of life from her mental and physical form, meaning that her mind at a high point of stress in battling the first memories she made a child to the ones she is making now. Any attempt to heal her would as dangerous as it is time consuming; an anecdote would take upwards of six months.
"But she has her O.W.L.S this year!" Minerva fretted
"Our Hermione is years ahead of her peers, you know that Minerva" Dumbledore responded easily, before turning to the child who was gazing up at him in wonder, "say Hermione, you wouldn't happen to know how old you are, my dear?" he asked kindly.
"Four" she replied with a hint of pride in her voice.
"She must be confused. Hermione turned 15 but a week ago, the potion was made to regress her by ten years" Minerva pointed out,
"Ah" He never thought he would have to share this, and dearest Minerva was likely to be more than irked that she was kept in the dark, "Miss Granger was placed ahead of her year at her primary education, thus making her a year younger than her current peers"
Snape raised an eyebrow, and McGonagall flailed her long arms in the air as a means of exasperation, "did you ever think to tell me this Albus? That one of my Cubs was a year younger, so that I could keep an extra eye on her! What about in her first year? She was only ten!" The head of Gryffindor House seemed horrified.
"You know as well as I do how mature our Hermione is, she handles herself well" Dumbledore was about to continue when he felt someone tug at his sleeve, and he turned to face the small child with only kindness written in the lines of his face.
"Excuse me" she said in her polite, childlike tone, "are you Father Christmas?"
All the adults in the room shared looks of amusement at the little Hermione's innocence. Any responsible, mature man in his right mind would respond honestly, and say that they were not Santa, that Santa lived in the North Pole. Unfortunately, Albus Dumbledore was neither of these things, at least not today, and his blue eyes twinkled from behind his moon spectacles, and he gave a cry of utter elation,
"How clever you are! Why, I am as a matter of fact!" He scooted closer to the girl, who was looking up at him as if he held the answers to the universe, and clung to every word he said, "So you must tell me Hermione, what do you want for Christmas?" He smiled, enjoying as his student's usually serious face broke into one of innocent thought.
"A cat please, if it's not too much trouble, and- and a letter explaining to mother and father that we must keep the cat under any circumstanceses" she stumbled on the long word but remained oblivious, "or maybe...maybe Magic the cat so it goes invisible 'cept I can see him" she suggested rather solemnly
"I will do my very best to get you a cat as soon as I can, one which you can call your own" the old wizard promised.
"And on the topic of Mothers and Fathers?" Snape prompted, and the Headmaster sighed.
"She cannot return to her home in this state. You said it yourself; soon her brain will begin to flicker and struggle against the sudden changes, she will begin to remember things that have happened to her, and at one point I wouldn't be surprised if she saw the future"
"The future, Albus? That is absurd" Madame Pomphrey said, aghast.
"I am quite serious, Poppy" he deliberately looked straight into the eyes of those around him, "The mind will stretch and constrict again, and whilst of course the future may change, the mind will play images of things that have not yet happened" he said gravely, and we cannot risk the chance of muggles hearing any ghastly event that takes place here"
"maybe they should, maybe they should take her away from the castle, from the war before it's too late" Minerva spoke semi seriously as she sat on the other side of her favourite student and brought her closer to her instinctively.
Albus sighed, "it's already too late, as much as it pains me to admit. Ronald and Harry very much depend on Hermione, and will not make it without her"
"So where will she go?" Asked Minerva almost accusingly, the question caught Hermione's attention also, and she looked with great interest as to what the adults were saying.
"There is only one place safe enough; I can't imagine Sirius and Remus would object to have something to keep them occupied while under lockdown in Grimmauld Place"
"You'll have her stay with a wolf and an ex convict? Is this a scheme to build her survival skills, Albus?" Snape said sarcastically, but McGonagall interjected.
"You know as well as I do that Remus is only ever a threat to himself, as for Sirius - he was wrongfully accused of those murders" she said stiffly, guilt setting into her bones as she remembered all the years she spent believing that Sirius Black had murdered the Potter's.
"Very well" Snape rebuked, his lips curled into a sneer. "Who do you suppose travels with her to Grimmauld Place? Unless you wish to invite Lupin and Black to the castle for a reunion over dinner"
Mr and Mrs Weasley bustled into Hogwarts castle as soon as they could, and strode through the familiar corridors of their teenage years until they arrived at Albus Dumbledore's office. Immediately they spotted her, the charming, intelligent girl they had known for five years, was now barely 40 inches tall and staring idly at the grand case of books the old wizard kept.
"Oh Hermione!" Molly couldn't help gasp, she was so little! It had been such a long time since any of her kids had been so small, and she remembered that stage of their life with a mournful smile. Hermione, however, was looking slightly alarmed, and stood as if she were ready to run away should she need to.
"My name is Molly, you know me but might not remember me quite yet" The plump red head woman confessed, and Hermione nodded slowly. Arthur had already begun to talk about contracts and guardianship laws with Albus, and it had been specified that Hermione was not to leave Grimmauld Place for long, she was already known by Voldemort and his followers as a friend of Harry Potter's and could easily be used as bait. Molly shuddered at the thought.
"Where am I going?" Hermione asked innocently, "can't I stay with Santa?"
Both the Weasley's chuckled, before Albus began to explain,
"My dear girl, I have much work to do before Christmas, it's only a few months away you know! So you're going to stay with two dear friends of mine, and if you're good, you may even get you Christmas present early" he winked.
"I'll be good! I promise!" Hermione said eagerly, making the adults smile.
"I know you will be, my dear" Dumbledore confessed as he guided his guests to the grand fireplace that resided on the left wall. Molly nodded, holding the child so her weight rested against her hip.
"Why are we standing in the fire place?" Hermione's voice was distinctively nervous
"This is called the Floo Network, Hermione" Arthur replied enthusiastically, "it's a way of transportation!"
She nodded, but didn't sound too sure.
"Don't worry, it doesn't hurt a bit" Molly assured her, with one hand she grabbed a large amount of green sand like powder.
"Bye Santa!" Hermione exclaimed with a sudden burst of confidence
The bearded man waved a hand, his blue eyes sparking behind his crescent glasses.
Yet the sight of Santa was soon lost in a swirl of luminous green flames, and Hermione clung to Mrs Weasley instinctively, the whirling and loud noise went in for barely three seconds before they came to an abrupt halt, and once Hermione was placed on the floor again she felt quite dizzy. The blurry dark colours and somewhat dismal green furniture seemed to blend into the off white walls, and it smelled of smoke. The door that presumably led to a hall was open, and, after looking at Mrs Weasley for permission she slowly made her way into the dim, narrow corridor. Somewhere in the distance a door slammed, making her jump, but then to Hermione's horror, two small curtains pulled open revealing a pale, beaky woman who instantly began to screech at the top of her voice,
"MUDBLOOD! FLITHY MUDBLOOD IN MY HOME! DISGUSTING"
From the other direction; a tall, tanned man with messy brown hair stormed into the landing and pointed a stick at the portrait, his face red with anger.
"Honestly Mother give it a fucking re-"
"Sirius!" Mrs Weasley yelled, and Hermione hurriedly hid behind the woman's legs, to be sure that the angry man didn't notice her.
"Shit, Molly I'm sorry I completely forgot you were coming here with- "
Hermione froze as the man looked down at her, his features had instantly melted from anger to compassion, which though it made her relax a fair bit, she remained rooted behind Mrs Weasley, even as he crouched to meet her gaze.
"Very sorry about that Hermione, I didn't mean to frighten you" he said sincerely, and instantly fear was replaced with abject curiosity, and she felt a hundred questions bubble in her chest.
"How do you know my name?" She asked almost indignantly
"You've stayed here at my house before, twice actually"
"Mm" The child was clearly dissatisfied with the information she had been provided with, and she felt her confusion rise in intangible clouds of smoke in her head.
"What's your name?" she asked
"Sirirus, no ... um"
"You can call me Padfoot" he said in a kinder tone. It was rather amusing to see the generally all knowing teenager Hermione in the form of a young infant.
"Hermione dear, why don't you let Padfoot show you where the kitchen is, and I'll try and get the painting to be quiet" Mrs Weasley offered, one hand clutched the curtains determinedly. Although Hermione wasn't sure of many things; like where she was or who all these people were, she knew that she didn't want to hear that awful painting scream again. So she took Padfoot's hand and followed him as he led her through the darkened hallway.
"I didn't know paintings could talk" she said accusingly, hoping to mask the fear she felt for the supernatural occurrence.
"Only magic ones can" Padfoot told her, "and most portraits aren't horrible like the woman in that one"
"Good. I don't like that woman" Hermione said confidently, liking it when Padfoot grinned in approval.
"You and me both Poppet" He replied easily, and Hermione decided that she liked Padfoot.
She was brought into a very bright, long room with faded orange walls and a rectangular table consuming most of the space, and most fearfully of all there were many, many people watching her. She wanted to hide behind Padfoot, but to her mortification he lifted her up effortlessly and spoke to the table of grown ups.
"Introducing Hermione junior" he joked, and she didn't understand that either.
"Careful Sirius, you're going to overwhelm her" said a man from the far end of the table. Hermione said nothing, but kept her eyes wide and made sure to note everyone's appearances.
"Why don't you take her Moony?"
She felt herself being carried in quick strides, to be passed to another person that she didn't know.
"Sirius I never meant that-" Lupin' pleas were interrupted by the small girl that he could easily identify to be his star pupil Hermione Granger. It was rather odd to see her in such a state, and the confusion and fear in her young eyes pained him.
"I don't know who you are" Hermione whispered nervously, and he could see the emotion building up in her eyes.
"I know you don't sweetheart. My name is Remus" he said calmly, watching as she nodded slowly, and also how her chest rose in an irregular rhythm and her pupils displayed in panic as she's slowly looked at those around her. It was an outright foolish idea to bring her to Grimmauld Place in his opinion, where the most commotion went on. "Hermione" he said quietly, but her wide eyes met his in an instant, "do you want to go upstairs, where there's fewer people?" he asked, and she nodded quickly. Somehow he found himself holding the child close as she buried her face in his chest, Molly and Tonks were positively beaming in their seats, but Lupin did not care to look.
While he was entirely against the idea of Hermione residing in Grimmauld Place - he felt that himself and Sirius were the least capable caregivers to a small child, he knew that in some way or another he had to play with the cards that he had been dealt; and for him that meant that while under his care; Hermione felt safe and content.
"Keep quiet or you'll wake the portrait" he whispered, the last thing she needed was another racial attack. He decided to take Hermione to the music room, which had only a sofa, a book shelf and a rusting piano in its walls. He left the door partially open and carefully sat on the ugly green sofa (Sirius's mother had awful taste) only to find that the little girl still clung to him. "You can let go, there's no one else here" he told her with a slight smile, she slowly sat up and looked around the room with the same curiosity he saw in Hermione when he first met her, back when she was thirteen.
"Hermione, has anyone explained to you what's happened?" he asked her carefully.
"Santa explained a bit, but I didn't understand and was too scared to ask again" she admitted, he laughed at the Headmaster being seen as Father Christmas, admittedly he did look the part, but mentally sighed at how the child had been kept in the dark. This was Hermione after all, she was incredibly intelligent and inquisitive, it wouldn't be right to keep her in the dark over a matter that impacted her so severely.
"Well" he began, "a few hours ago you were at secondary school, you were fifteen. But a potion went wrong and that's why you're a four year old again, and why you don't remember anything quite yet" he explained slowly, he could practically hear her little brain ticking away at the information.
"I was fifteen?" she exclaimed, as if it were the most magical age to be, "that's old!" her eyes however, were filled with glitters of curiosity. "And- and I went to big school?!"
"Yes, you went to big school, you're top of the class" Remus was glad to inform her, and her face filled with joy.
"Me?" she squealed, utterly delighted, and he couldn't help but match her joy, yet there was another question that needed to be answered.
"Hermione, what was the last thing you remembered before being at the castle?" he asked, looking directly at her, deciding that gauging her mental state would be the next key aspect in stabilising her.
"I- I don't know" she said, seeming rather troubled by the fact.
"You know who your mummy and daddy are don't you?" he encouraged, fingers crossed that the potion hasn't altered those parts of her memories.
"Yes" Hermione answered fairly quickly, but looked troubled again.
"Hopefully you'll be able to visit them soon. Until then, how do you feel about staying here for a while with me and Padfoot?" he asked in a therapist-like tone, the little Hermione tugged at the sleeves of her shirt and shrugged. He could hardly blame her, it was a lot for anyone to deal with in one day, let alone a four year old.
"It's okay to feel scared" he comforted. He had remembered when, after her near death experience (which was his fault) he had asked how she felt, she had shrugged it off, and even after Harry had openly admitted he had been terrified, Hermione had insisted that she was fine.
Before they could continue their conversation, Mrs Weasley stuck her head through the gap of the door and informed them that it was time for supper.
Hi guys, I know a lot of you liked the Remus and Sirius chapters with Hermione in my other story so I thought I would dedicate a fluffy mess to you all, I hope you enjoyed this chapter, let me know! x