Yesterday is Tomorrow (everything is connected) - 2
Rita: Sometimes I wish I had a thousand lifetimes. I don't know, Phil. Maybe it's not a curse. Just depends on how you look at it.
- Groundhog Day (1993)
When anyone asked Leo Evans about his daughters, or Rose Evans, his wife, they would have this to say about them:
Petunia, their eldest, was as curly-haired and blonde as Leo, but as lithe as her mother. She had green eyes and was a proper little girl, always wearing freshly pressed pinafores and and shiny black Mary Janes. She had proper manners, "yes sir," and "yes, ma'am," and could be as sweet as pie. However, their eldest daughter, burdened with responsibility as the eldest, also had a mean streak as large as the English Channel, and could hold a grudge forever. She might forgive, but she never forgot.
Lily, their middle child and two years younger than Petunia, was bright and inquisitive. She spoke her mind and had a fiery temper that matched her mother's Irish red hair, green eyes, and thin body. She had the grace of a dancer, the spirit of a fey, and the gumption to back it all up. She was polite, to a point, until she thought someone was stepping on her toes and then she made her opinion known.
Hermione, however… well… she was a bit odd. Their youngest daughter was a surprise - where Lily was born in January of 1959, Hermione was due for December but was born prematurely on September 19. Their youngest had her father's brown eyes and curly hair, but a shade of dark brown that was streaked with undertones of Rose's red. She too, took after Rose in body shape but whereas Petunia aimed to please, and Lily aimed to change the world, Hermione aimed to do… nothing. Ever since she was a toddler, the child had been grumpy, despondent, or in the throes of grief.
Leo and Rose had taken her to her pediatrician on a weekly basis and then eventually a child psychologist, who, completely befuddled, had announced that "Hermione seems to be in the middle of the stages of grief," but no one knew why.
Hermione knew, of course.
She was a forty-seven year old woman trapped in the body of a two year old. Upon realizing what had happened - although she still wasn't entirely sure, but she blamed Harry and the Potter luck - Hermione railed against being stuck in a toddler's body.
Well, first she was in denial. She was in her forties! Not two. Surely that miscast spell didn't send her back in time - rather, it killed her. And this was a horrific form of the afterlife.
Two years of thinking that swiftly turned into anger: anger at Harry, for casting his signature spell in the first place that struck the shelf of artifacts in the Department of Mysteries without thinking of the consequences of spellfire in a dangerous area; anger at Hermione's situation for having to relive childhood; and then anger at realizing it was the bloody 1960s and she had her magic and Voldemort was still alive.
By the time Hermione started nursery, a year after Lily, she was firmly settled into the "bargaining" stage. She prayed to God in church on Sundays at her mother's side; she then prayed to Merlin. Neither heard or answered her prayers, so she got creative: she prayed to Morgana, and Hectate, and then Circe, Isis, Diana, Freyja.
None answered, and she slid into depression, one so deep she knew her parents worried for her mental state and Lily and Petunia were sometimes near tears trying to cheer their youngest sister up.
And then, Lily's Hogwarts letter came.
Hermione was impatiently tapping the solid end of her quill against the desk she had claimed as her own back in her first year the first time around, and the one that she used this time around as well. It was a tiny alcove off to the main library area, still visible to some but secluded enough that most didn't infringe on her when she was trying to do work.
Lily knew where she sat, and given that she sat on the other side of the desk - visible to all who walked into the library and looked around - Hermione knew that James Potter wouldn't be able to miss her.
Except for the fact that he was already twenty minutes later to their first - and if this kept up, only - tutoring session.
Harry would've shown up on time. Hermione ruthlessly smothered her ire. Did she honestly expect anything different from James Potter? From the four years she had been at Hogwarts in this time, she knew what the teenager was like. And, over the years, when Harry could spare the time to tell her about what he saw in Snape's pensieve, she had a good idea that that was an accurate representation of him. But comparing him - even unfavourably - to Harry would only dredge up memories better left forgotten.
Instead, she grit her teeth and her hand clenched around her quill, neatly snapping it in two. This is for Harry. For Harry. HAR-REE. Remember, Hermione - for Harry. So you can kill him later.
"Whoa, Evans," a voice said above her, making her jerk her head up in surprise. "Anger issues, much?" He then paused, looked at her, and asked, skeptically, "It is Hermione Evans, right?"
Hermione took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and counted to ten. In ancient Greek. And then she opened them and impassively surveyed James Potter.
He was mildly attractive, she supposed, wrinkling her nose just a bit, if one ignored his personality or when he opened his mouth.
He was tall, and broad-shouldered, and he had an easy grin and charm that fell off him. His Gryffindor jumper fit well, and his tie was neatly knotted, and his trousers were pressed perfectly. If it weren't for his black, wind-swept hair, Hermione wouldn't even peg Harry as a relative - they were too different, too fundamentally different.
Where James held his shoulders back in confidence, Harry had slouched. Where James' hazel eyes gleamed with mischief, Harry's sparkled with danger. The cockiness in James' voice was as different as the wariness in Harry's.
Separating them into two different people is going to be ridiculously easy, thought Hermione, almost in surprise. All she - and Harry, in retrospect - had ever heard was how like his father he was… lies.
"Yeah, I'm Hermione," said Hermione eventually. She loosened her grip on the two pieces of snapped quill, and glanced at it. Letting the pieces fall from her hand, she then casually waved her palm above it, and nonverbally cast a reparo. Potter's eyes went wide.
"Whoa," he muttered, his eyes darting from the quill to her. "Wait, you're a fourth year?"
"Correct," she muttered. "Also: you're late."
"What? Wait, no -"
"Wait, no," she mimicked nastily in a slightly higher voice than her normal one. "Actually, yes you are. Our tutoring session was scheduled to begin at four o'clock, sharp. It is now four-thirty, and we are thirty minutes behind. Sit your arse down, open your book, and show me your most recent homework."
Potter's mouth, which had dropped open when she interrupted him, snapped shut. His eyes blazed in fury, and, although he fell in the seat opposite her, he leaned forward and snarled across the table, "Who the hell are you to talk to me like that?"
Hermione gazed back at him, nonplussed by the threat in his voice. "I thought we covered that already, or do you have short-term memory problems? That could explain your inability to learn arithmancy. I'm Hermione Evans. Remember? Your arithmancy tutor?"
He rocked back in his seat, staring at her.
She waited patiently, almost as though she could hear the rusty cogs in his brain going tick-tick-tick. "You're nothing like your sister."
"Yep," replied Hermione with forced, false cheerfulness. "Now. Arithmancy. Let's get this over with so I can tell Pythas that I tried, but you weren't interested and we can both end this sham of a wasted Friday night. I'm sure you have better things to do, because I sure as hell do."
There was something odd in Potter's eyes that Hermione couldn't read - another difference to Harry; her best friend had been an open book - but the fifth year Gryffindor yanked his battered arithmancy text from his bag, slammed it on the table. Inside the front cover were several hastily shoved in loose parchment, which Hermione discovered was his homework for the past three weeks of September, covered in the red ink Pythas favoured for marking things incorrectly.
She grimaced and carefully pinched one piece of parchment between two fingers, edging it towards her like it was the skinny version of the Monster Book of Monsters. Her nose wrinkled. "Is that - is that pumpkin juice on your homework?"
Potter rocked the chair back on its two legs and crossed his arms as he gazed at her from behind his glasses. "Yep."
"Did you - did you spill it before or after you did your homework?" she looked sick just thinking about the runny ink on the page, and what potential answer Potter would give her.
There was something devilish in his eyes and his smile when he purred out, "Before."
Hermione entered the Ravenclaw Common Room ten minutes to curfew - which was normal for her, any day of the week. Barty, as usual, was waiting for her on the couch facing the door. He didn't look up as he called, "So, how was it? Did you make Potter beg for your help?"
When she didn't reply, he looked up and then nearly flew off the couch.
"Merlin, Hermione!" She stood just inside the door, pale and wide-eyed. It was almost like she was shell shocked. Barty frantically raced over and, forgetting he was a wizard, began to run his hands up and down her arms, shoulders, neck.
"Were you pranked? Did they prank you? Are you hurt?"
His questions came fast and furious, but it wasn't until one of his hands grazed her breast that she snapped out of it and began slapping his hands away.
"Well, excuse me," he said sniffly, stepping back.
Hermione wearily trudged over to the couch Barty vacated and fell heavily into the plush blue fabric.
Sighing, Barty followed and then sat next to her. "That bad?"
"I - I honestly don't know," replied Hermione, eventually, still wide-eyed. "He was late. By thirty minutes. His homework is - is atrocious. I don't even think he knows what he's supposed to be doing." She shook her head. "I don't even know how he passed his fourth year."
Barty was silent, so Hermione glanced over at him and saw he was nervously licking his lips - the very same bad habit that outed him to his father once upon a future time.
"What?" she asked.
"Are you still going to tutor him?" he eventually asked.
Hermione half-shook her head, then nodded, and then settled on a shrug. "I don't think so," she finally said, chewing on her bottom lip. "He didn't seem that interested in learning anyway - he kept asking me about my sister. I think after tonight he'll forget all about me."
Barty looked skeptical, but they parted ways for their separate beds and Hermione, firmly, repeated to herself before falling asleep: James Potter won't even remember me. See? Everything is fine. Everything will be fine.
Elsewhere, James Potter returned to the Gryffindor Common Room. Sirius Black, his best friend, looked up from here he was sitting on the floor in front of the fireplace, playing Exploding Snap with Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew. It was late, it was dark, and James hastily stuffed his invisibility cloak in his bag.
"Well, mate?" asked Sirius. "How was it? Who's the 'Claw tutoring you?"
James fell into a vacant armchair and grinned. "Hermione Evans."
"Evans?" repeated Sirius, gapping.
Remus frowned. "Lily's younger sister?"
James whipped his head around to face his friend. "You knew she has a sister?"
Remus stared at him. "You didn't?"
Sirius snorted a laugh loudly, thinking it hilarious that Remus knew something about his precious "Lily-flower" that he didn't know.
James flushed and pulled at his collar. "Yes, well -"
"Whatever," dismissed Sirius, turning back to his cards, "Now that Jimmy did his duty, we can get our Friday nights back and he won't be going to these stupid tutoring sessions anymore." There was silence, so Sirius slowly raised his head and looked at James. "Right?"
James shrugged. "I thought I could ask her more about her sister, you know?"
Remus shot him a disapproving look, and Peter asked, quietly, "You're going to ask Lily's sister about Lily… so you... know more about Lily?"
James nodded emphatically.
Sirius was caught between grinning at the great idea and frowning at the loss of his friend. "Well…"
"Also," continued James, "She's hilarious to wind up. Angrier than a wet nundu. It'll be great. After all, what harm can a puny little fourth year do?"
On weekends, Hermione disappeared from Ravenclaw and Hogwarts life completely. The first few months in her first year, Barty - who trailed after her like some silent, puppyish Neville Longbottom - attempted to follow but Hermione knew the passageways in and out of Hogwarts, and had access to the Room of Requirements. It was easy to give him the slip.
Then, of course, once Barty had told Regulus what was going on, the sneaky Slytherin tagged her with a locator charm and the two cornered her when she returned to the Great Hall for dinner Sunday evening.
Busted, their collectively disapproving eleven-year-old eyes seemed to say.
In hindsight, Hermione's plans were tossed out of the window the moment Barty bumped into her. There was no way they were going to let her disappear - a Muggleborn who was more secretive than the sneakiest of Slytherins? More knowledgeable on material than any Ravenclaw? She was walking catnip to both of them: Regulus who was interested in her and her secrets, and Barty, who was curious about her abilities. (Regretfully, Hermione wondered if maybe being a swotty know-it-all would've been a better cover than silent-but-deadly-smart-nobody. Ah well, too late to change now.)
Hermione didn't give up all her secrets, but she knew of an abandoned set of rooms underneath a staircase by the dungeons that she had… "claimed" when she (returned?) first arrived at Hogwarts. She was using it to conduct her experiments.
First year, it was going through her textbooks nonverbally. While she could do most of those spells as an adult, she was no longer in her forties. She no longer had settled magic, or a fully-grown body. She had to relearn things, like her magical muscle memory. Barty and Regulus joined, because she was well-read and her explanations - honed over years of dumbing things down for Harry, Ron, and Neville - meant that she could explain the theory-heavy texts behind things in ways that were easier to grasp.
Of course, these were Pureblood boys from houses that already taught them these spells, so they knew the material - but Hermione was an inventor. She made changes. Not to potions - like Snape - or even to the actual material in the way that he did, writing in his textbooks and the like. No, Hermione took the spells, the results, and wondered what if?
Once upon a time, she was content to leave things as they were - 'if it's not broke, don't fix it' was practically thirteen-year-old Hermione's motto - but in the Ministry, Hermione discovered tiny variations of spells and their histories that were kept separate from the general public. Saw what variations could do in the field when Harry and Ron would return from an Auror mission with new cuts and scars. And she wondered - what if I changed something too?
In the future - her past or present, whatever - Hermione was working on transmutations. She was brilliant at transfiguration, always picking up McGonagall's spells first in the class. She wasn't quite the prodigy, because she analyzed things too much, but her love for her favourite class at Hogwarts, Arithmancy, meant that she could combine the two into transmutation - something never really covered academically.
Transfiguration was the change in something's appearance or form; transmutation was the subatomic change of one item into another form completely. The Philosopher's Stone was a transmutation, of sorts. Its alchemical properties allowed for coal to become gold; for someone mortal to become immortal by changing their cellular structure.
Hermione didn't want to create a Philosopher's Stone. Immortality was boring. She wanted to be challenged - she wanted to transmute things that would hold weight, relevance, that would stay and not fade after the transfiguration wore off or was forced back to its original appearance.
Hence, combining the arithmetic structure of spells with transfiguration. It was a work in progress, but she was getting there. Sort of.
Barty and Regulus benefitted from Hermione's research, as their own academic interests began to branch out and vary into fields most ignored. Unfortunately, Hermione was certain that their abilities and interest in transmutation and more esoteric magic meant they were shiny baubles Voldemort was going to want, but… well… she'd get to that eventually.
Instead, they plied her and her research with books from their libraries, carefully snuck out over holidays, and she - well, she educated them by taking them into Muggle London, showing the the things science could do. It might not have been, but it was a kind of magic.
Their friendship worked.
That weekend, following her first (and hopefully, only) tutoring session with James Potter, saw Hermione in that appropriated classroom, dutifully copying out a hand-drawn transmutation circle in her notebook with chalk on the classroom floor. In the center of the circle was a dead flower, picked by Regulus to give to Calypso Fawcett for the upcoming Hogsmeade weekend. When she turned him down, Hermione took the flower.
Regulus leaned against a desk that they had pushed up against a far wall, arms and legs crossed. Barty was seated cross-legged on top, next to him. Both were eyeing Hermione.
"Are you sure this is going to work?" drawled Regulus.
Hermione glanced over her shoulder at him, a glare to her brown eyes. Luckily, those hadn't changed. She snapped her notebook, held open in one hand, shut with a loud snap. "Yes," she replied snippily.
"Only," continued Regulus, "You said it would work the last time, and it didn't."
"And the one before that," added Barty helpfully. He had a sugar quill sticking out of the corner of his mouth, sucking on it hard.
"I made some adjustments on my calculations," replied Hermione hotly.
"Uh huh," said Regulus.
Hermione squared her shoulders and planted her hands on her hips. "No one asked you to be here, Black." She made a waving motion with her hand. "Shoo. Begone."
"Nah," he said, leaning further back. "I'm looking forward to seeing you fail again."
"It's not failure," snarled Hermione, "It's a learning experience."
Barty didn't even try stifling his snickers.
Grumbling to herself, Hermione turned her back on her two friends. She carefully looked over the chalk circle on the floor. It was small, no bigger than a dinner plate. The flower was on the inside of the circle, and there was another circle outside it, with a square between the two layers. In the gaps between the outer circle and the square were numerology markings - equations and symbols of power - that provided the basic molecular structure of the flower and its components.
She took a deep breath, and knelt in front of the transmutation circle. She used to be able to do tiny little parlour tricks like bringing flowers and small insects back to life when she was older, but she never got further in her research for more. This test - her sixth that first month back at Hogwarts - would determine if her magic was finally starting to settle.
From her understanding, most transmutation circles required to be planned out in advance. Hermione wanted to understand the theory behind it first and then - ideally - once she had that down, she could all on transmutation circles without pre-planning or marking them out in chalk. But that would come later.
Clapping her hands together until her palms touched, Hermione centered herself - pushing her annoyance at her friends away, at James Potter and tutoring him, pushing away her fears of failing again - and then slammed her hands flat on either side of the circle.
Her eyes opened and blazed with power.
The circle glowed white, and the wilted flower in the middle of the circle reversed from brown, brittle petals to blushing pink; its dull, grey stem turned healthy green and the sickly, cloying scent of rotting plants was replaced with the fresh scent of roses.
It worked, she thought breathlessly.
"Sweet Merlin!" gasped Barty, pushing up off the desk and kneeling next to her. Regulus carefully approached and, at her nod, reached into the circle and plucked the freshly-plucked flower from within, holding it and twirling it between his fingers.
He eyed it curiously for several moments, and then, turned to Hermione. He gave the most beautiful and sincere smile she had ever seen on him, and said, "Congratulations, Hermione."
"You know what this means, don't you?" said an eager Barty.
Hermione shook her head. "No, what?"
"You're going to change the world," he replied, beaming at her. She was painfully aware that once, he wore a similar expression when talking about his devotion to the Dark Lord. "And we're going to be right beside you."
Swallowing thickly, and pushing past the dangers that her memories were flinging at her, Hermione grinned. "Well, that's only if Potter doesn't want me tutoring anymore. Because I'm pretty sure if we have another tutoring session, it might just kill me."
"From what you said," began Regulus, standing up, still holding the flower. "It'll be unlikely."
"Well, he is a glutton for punishment," argued Barty, as Hermione brought her wand out and cast scourgify to erase the chalk. "After all, he's only confessed his love to Hermione's sister how many times now?"
With the chalk vanished, Hermione sat back on her heels and wiped her hands on her skirt. Regulus made a face at the action, but Hermione ignored it and said, "Well… in that case, he might want to take the punishment of dealing with me. But I'm not Lily - it'll be a waste of time. Honestly, he should just ask her for help."
"He wouldn't be able to get through a full sentence without an 'I love you,' somewhere," laughed Barty.
Hermione's lips twitched. "Too right."
Standing, she collected her book bag and joined the other two, leaving the classroom. Transmutation always made her hungry. "Kitchens?"
"Sure," agreed Barty happily for them both. He bounced beside her with nervous, vibrant energy. "Say, do you think you can show me your notes? I want to give that a try."
"No," replied Hermione at once, thinking of the incredibe damage Barty could potentially cause with knowledge of transmutation circles. She amended herself when she saw the crestfallen look on his face, "Not until you have your nonverbal spells down."
He pouted but nodded.
Regulus, on Hermione's other side, was strolling along with a hand in his pocket and the other, thoughtfully twirling the flower around and around. "Do you think I could try again with Calypso?"
"Not with the same flower," replied Hermione, "It would look tacky."
Regulus scoffed. "She'd never know."
The look Hermione sent back was scathing. "Of course women will know-"
A large curtain of icy water crashed over Hermione, raining heavily down on her from above, in the middle of a nondescript hallway. Regulus and Barty immediately leaped sideways to avoid the water, and had cast an umbrella charm to keep the water from splashing up on them. Hermione, however, was drenched.
She stood shock still, her shoulders up and her arms held away from her body, like a frozen statue as her brown hair heavily hung forward and her soaked Ravenclaw jumper and skirt clung to her body and thighs.
There was loud laughter in front of her, and she shakily pushed her lanky wet hair out from her eyes to stare at James and Sirius, who were supporting each other as they laughed, so hard they were nearly on the floor.
"L-Like I s-said, P-Padfoot!" hiccuped James, wheezing. "W-W-Wet nundu!"
Fourteen year old Hermione Evans felt like crying, standing there soaked while Barty began shouting something at the two in her defense and Regulus silently began casting warming charms - although that was going to fluff her hair up something terrible.
Four years. She had lasted four years without James Potter knowing who she was, without becoming a victim of his pranks. She wasn't even a blip on the Marauders radar.
Her impressive mind began to race. She had to fix this. And soon. Everything relied on her being invisible and unimportant. People took notice of who James Potter pranked. Whom he spoke to.
This wouldn't do.
Note: Yes, I'm heavily influenced by Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood for the transmutation circles.