I do not own Harry Potter or any recognised characters, places etc. they deservedly belong to J. K. Rowling.
-Chapter Twelve -
"Come back here you toad!"
Draco and Hermione turned toward one another, bewilderment clear upon their features, then turned down the hall where the insults raged on.
They were just entering the Great Hall for breakfast when they saw Dolores Umbridge walking fast paced away from an older woman. Older, but still an apparent concern for the pink clothed witch.
"Did you hear me, I said come back here!"
"Thank you for coming in, Ms. Longbottom however, I'm afraid I really must see to the students"
Hermione recognised the woman. Augusta Longbottom, Neville's grandmother. She remembered seeing them together a few times and had often thought she was a formidable woman. It seemed Umbridge agreed as she picked up the pace.
"Whatever students are left!" she yelled angrily "Don't think I'll allow you to get away with this! I'll sooner go to Azkaban than see you walk free!" she threatened.
Umbridge was about to enter the Great Hall when Draco said "She's right you know. You killed five people, do you really think anyone will let you get away with that?"
Umbridge glared at Draco but kept her lips tight as she continued through the doors.
Hermione frowned "Poor Ms. Longbottom. She lost her husband, her son and now her grandson"
"Are we still going to the library today?"
"Yes. We can't just sit back and do nothing. We've waited too long already. What if there was a time-limit? We should have looked into it before, instead we've been preoccupied with D-"
"-etention" Draco finished, before she could reveal the Army to the spies placed stealthily around the castle.
Hermione's eyes flicked towards him, then widened slightly and she nodded "Yes, detention"
After breakfast the pair made their way to the library.
"Do you think we can talk about what we're doing here?" Draco whispered
"I don't see any reason why not. Surely she knows that we won't just take it lying down. That we're going to do whatever it takes to bring our friends back. In fact she's probably wondering what took us so long" she added, bitterly.
"We've been a little pre-occupied"
"It isn't an excuse"
"I'm not saying it's an excuse but it's certainly a reason"
"Where do we start?"
"Let's go through our options. Any option at this stage and then we refine to more plausible"
"Process of elimination" Hermione said, remembering the words she always tells Harry and Ronald.
"So, any thoughts?"
Draco stood and walked further into the library. Hermione craned her neck to see where he was going. He came back, book in hand and already on the page he needed.
"This is it" Draco said, sitting next to her "Here,
Simply wave your wand in a circular motion pointed north towards the sky, whilst performing the spell.
We recommend that you only use this spell for emergencies. If you simply want to show off to the new neighbour or that co-worker who's always bragging about their new acquisitions - we suggest you let it slide. We also recommend you not use the spell on any building older than 500 years.
When was Hogwarts founded?" Draco asked
"According to Hogwarts - A History it was founded in 990 A.D." she replied, lips pursed.
They shared a worried glance before he continued.
'If there is someone in the room when the spell is cast they will disappear'.
Well, we already knew that, any reversals?"
Hermione suppressed a laugh and cleared her throat "Hoping the book will give you the answers if you ask nicely enough?"
Draco smirked "All this time in the Library, and you've never come across a talking book?"
"You know, if Professor McGonagall knew what spell she was using it would make sense that she was so worried about the structure"
"Still doesn't help us. What about, no I don't suppose we could get our hands on one"
Hermione looked at him "How would a time-turner help?"
"We could go back, warn them. Tell them 'Hey, just popped in from the future. Do us a favour and don't go into the common room, 'cause otherwise you're done for, thanks'"
"But- We couldn't" Hermione said, suddenly emphatic "Even if we used a time-turner we can't use it because we might run into ourselves. That would be bad"
"Isn't it worth the risk?"
"It would also change our time-line"
"Isn't that what we want? To change it, to bring back our friends"
"Well, yes of course but-"
"But what, Hermione?"
Hermione turned away and leant her forearms on the table, picking at the strands of fabric loose from her cardigan. "Nothing"
"Clearly" he replied dryly.
"No, you're right. I'm being selfish. Let's ask Professor McGonagall, she may still have one"
Hermione grabbed her bag and set to leave but was whirled back by Draco "Hang on a minute, I never said you were selfish. Why in the name of Merlin would I think that?"
"Because" she replied, but made no effort to elaborate.
"Because I want you" she fumed, tearing herself away from him.
Draco's eyes widened in surprise, but not in understanding "You have me-"
"And I would rather find another way than choose this way, a way that could actually work, because I'm so selfish that I don't want to lose you"
"You're not going to lose me"
"I might if we change the time-line" she admitted, eyes downcast and arms crossed.
Draco sat on the edge of the table, a dawning in his eyes.
"That was the day we walked out of class"
Hermione nodded "Would you have done that? Would you have been that angry as to walk out after she gave you the option?" she asked, hopefully.
"I don't know" he answered honestly.
Hermione sucked in a deep breath and nodded "Let's go find Professor McGona-mph"
His arms encircled her waist as he stooped and brought her lips up to meet his own. Hermione reciprocated almost immediately.
"No" he mumbled against her, not bothering to remove his mouth from hers, which caused a slight tingling sensation that made her shiver.
"We're not going to see McGonagall"
"We can't ignore this solution" she said, quietly.
Draco brought his hand up to remove some strands of hair from her face "I hadn't even considered a time-line without us ending up here"
Hermione shrugged "I had to use a time-turner third year, so.."
"We'll figure something else out"
"We're being selfish"
Draco chuckled lightly "I am. I'm selfish and I'm a coward" Hermione was about to interrupt when he took the opportunity to kiss her once again "And I'm not about to give you up either. Let's get back to work"
Hermione breathed a small sigh of relief, a light smile on her face. Suddenly she had a thought "Who's the author of the spell?"
"Elliot Smethwyck" Draco replied, having returned to the book "He created it in 1820 along with the Cushioning Charm"
"It looks like we may need the time-turner after all"
"I told you, we're not messing with our time-line"
"I know, I'm not suggesting we do. I am suggesting that perhaps we go a little further back"
"You want to talk to Elliot"
"You want to travel back in time to 1820?" Draco questioned, palms flat on the table he looked her directly in the eyes.
She mimicked his actions "Yes"
"You're bloody mad you are"
Hermione grinned "Yes"
"Alright, let's go find ourselves a time-turner"
"I suppose I ought to remind you that you were not supposed to reveal your knowledge or usage of these devices" Professor McGonagall said with a stern look "But let me see if I understand you correctly, Miss Granger. You want to use a time-turner. A device which already comes with it's own risks and instability and you want to take this device back to 1820"
"That's about the gist of it" said Draco.
"Well I'm afraid you're out of luck. Time-turners, as they stand, are only able to travel back a maximum of five hours"
"Is there no other way?"
"I'm afraid not, Miss Granger. Even if I could help you, Dolores took all time-turners away at the beginning of the year. I'm afraid I really cannot help at all"
Draco and Hermione sat dejected during lunch, barely picking at the food laid out in front of them.
"So, even if we were willing to go back in our own time-line, we couldn't" Hermione noted
"I stand by our decision"
"Me too" she said, then her eyes crinkled.
"I can hear your brain working"
"Why is it limited to five hours?"
Draco shrugged "I've never used one. Though I think we have one stored away at the Manor or Gringotts somewhere, perhaps?"
"You don't remember?"
"Well it's around. I only saw it once, though I assume it's limited because of the dials you turn to take you back"
"How does this help?"
"Well, the casing is purely to control the magic within"
"You want to release it from its shell? That's extremely unstable. How would it work without the casing anyway?"
"I'm not sure" she admitted "But I can research it while you acquire the device"
Draco choked on his pumpkin juice "Just how am I supposed to do that? I'm here"
"Can't you write home?"
"Sure, that'll go down swell.
I know we're not seeing eye-to-eye at the moment, and we probably never will again because you're a narrow-minded, Dark Lord sympathiser.
But hey, wanna send me our valuable family time-turner? If you're interested I want to use it to save a blood-traitor - you remember the Longbottoms? Auntie Bellatrix met his parents.
While I'm writing I should probably also tell you I'm dating Hermione Granger. Yes, the Hermione Granger, the muggle-born and best friend of Harry Potter.
Anyway, write back soon.
Love, your disappointment of a son, Draco.
P.S. Tell Mum I say 'Hi'"
Hermione's mouth twitched upwards, but narrowed her eyes "A simple 'no' would have sufficed"
"What are our other options?"
"We find where Umbridge is hiding her stash and use one of those"
"I suppose I'll fetch the parchment to write home then, shall I?"
"Oh no, you've made your case and a pretty strong one. No, looks like this is the only option left"
"Am I still supposed to be the one to acquire it?"
Draco pushed his plate away, not having touched a thing "Bugger"