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ATTENTION: I KNOW that Tom Riddle and Minerva didn’t go to school with Harry’s parents in the real books, but this is fanfiction, so I say they did! I do not need a million letters telling me this in inaccurate—I know it is, and I don’t mind being inaccurate, as all fanfiction stretches the actual story a bit. Thank you!

Hermione and Minerva

Part One: The Necklace

By Mena Baines

“ I'm so glad to have you,

and I'm getting worse.

I'm so mad to love you

and your evil curse,”

~from “Blindfold” by Morcheeba~

Hermione stood on the platform, watching the Hogwarts Express pull into the station. It was late in the evening, and she and Nail were standing beside each other, very still. Hermione didn’t want to move. Harry was across the way saying goodbye to Clio with Ron. Nail turned to her, the wind pushing his dark but sun-stained hair up off his forehead. Hermione counted his earrings. Five. She noticed he had some light freckles on his nose.

“ Okay,” he said, “ Okay. This is it, right? From here on out we’ve got to be careful.”

“ We?” Hermione squeaked. But he was leaving. After the fire in the courtyard the other night, Hermione didn’t think McGonagall and Dumbledore would ever let the O’Ryan’s anywhere near Hogwarts again. She noticed Harry was looking at them.

“ I mean we… as wizards, well, in my case—look, just be careful, okay? The fact that Ter- Magdala, I mean, was able to squeeze her way into Hogwarts is kind of unsettling. And that fire…” he trailed off. His sister could have died—Hermione could see that it affected him. The whole thing was so mysterious—and it had definitely been set by a wizard, as a waterproof charm had been put on it. Fortunately Dumbledore had been able to put it out before too much damage was caused. Hermione looked up at Nail.

“ So, you’re nervous about…us, here at Hogwarts?” Hermione looked at her shoes. It was too breezy out tonight, it seemed pleasant, but here was something awry, and she could feel it in the air.

“ Us,” Nail rolled his eyes, “ Hermione I’m worried about you.” He looked over at Harry, “ This place is full of double-agents—I should know. Just watch your back, you hear? Everything’s going to come down on top of this school at once, and they’re not going to know what to do, but you’ve got to keep your head. Are you listening? Why are you looking at me like that?”

“ I want to go with you!” Hermione whispered so small that she hardly thought he’d heard her. Clio, Ron and Harry picked that moment to walk over. She and Nail gave each other a look, like, Okay, quick and shut up.

“ Hey,” Clio put a hand on Hermione’s shoulder. She still looked kind of shaken from her near-death adventure in the courtyard. “ Can we have a quick word?”

Hermione nodded, and walked off with the Clio, leaving the boys to chat awkwardly with Nail. Clio waited until they were out of earshot.

“ Hermione,” she whispered, “ Please consider coming with us.”

Hermione reeled backwards, “ What? I can’t! Why would I?” Clio sighed.

“ You’ve got to get away from here. You and Rosa, too. And Ron. You’re in danger.”

Hermione immediately noticed she hadn’t mentioned Harry’s name. “ What are you saying?” she asked.

Clio licked her lips, “ I have to tell you something, but you’re not going to like it.”

“ Okay.”

“ When Ron and I were…trapped, in the Garden,” she began slowly, “ I think… I mean, I’m almost positively sure, that I saw who set the fire.”

“ What?” Hermione exclaimed, “ Why didn’t you tell Dumbledore? Or at least McGonagall!”

Clio frowned, and looked sad. “ I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, I guess.”

“ WHO?”

“ Harry.” Clio said it flatly, and the word struck Hermione like a hard, final blow. She had suspected that this was something about him—but claiming he had deliberately set a fire to try and harm Ron—it was just too much.

“ Y-you saw him do it?” Hermione knew it couldn’t be true. There was smoke… it was almost dark outside when it happened. Dusk certainly brought about hallucinations…

Clio nodded, her eyes steady, truthful. Hermione suddenly hated that she trusted Nail’s sister so much.

“ I saw him, behind the flames, just STANDING there, staring at us.” She shook her head. “ He looked so eerie—just watching us, like…” Hermione saw Clio shiver. “ You have to get away from this place—away from HIM.”

Hermione’s knees were shaking. No. She wouldn’t leave Harry—not now.

“ Did Ron see him?” she asked, skeptical. Clio shook her head.

“ He… didn’t, and I didn’t tell him. You’re the only person I’ve told.”

“ Don’t tell your brother,” Hermione said quickly, “ Not that I believe you…” she added. “ Because I don’t.”

Clio nodded, “ I didn’t think that you would, Hermione. I just wanted you to have it in the back of your mind, to make you perhaps the least bit wary.” She sighed. “ That family… there are things about James Potter that you don’t know.”

“ What things?”

“ Rumors… probably nothing. Look, Nail and I are going to be gone for awhile. I have a theory… it’s abstract, but I’m going to look into it. It requires time travel—so I won’t be able to check up on you for awhile.” Clio explained. Hermione hardly cared. How could she accuse Harry of such a thing?

“ But,” she continued, “ Afterwards we’re returning to Niebilhiem—you can reach me there by owl. And Nail has friends in Costa Del Sol. I’ll give you the address for my Post Office box in Midgar, too.”

Hermione nodded. She did want to keep in touch—mostly with Nail.

“ I’ve never heard of any of those places,” she said. Clio laughed.

“ I’m not surprised,” she said, handing Hermione a slip of paper with her address on it. “ There are things you don’t know about, Hermione—places you won’t be able to reach until you’ve graduated.” She smiled kindly, “ It’s a big, wonderful world.”

Clio apologized again for what she’d told her, and said that she hoped it wasn’t true. Hermione now had a horrible mental picture of Harry standing behind a wall of fire, stoically watching Clio and Ron struggle to escape the flames, standing still, the orange blaze reflected in his glasses. It just couldn’t be true—not her Harry. No matter how twisted his judgement became, he would never hurt Ron, or any other innocent person.

Nail and Clio left as the sun was going down, the night coming on like doom as their train pulled out of the station, away from Hogwarts.

_________________________

“ Get your invisibility cloak,” Hermione said to Harry, under her breath, as they headed back toward the castle.

“ What? Why?” he asked, looking at Ron, who just seemed depressed.

“ McGonagall has got to know something about this fire,” Hermione said, “ I will not sit back while they muddle things up, trying to figure it all out. I want the facts.” Harry gave her a look.

“ You think spying on them is the answer?”

“ Yes.”

“ Why don’t you just try asking?” he suggested, and Hermione thought it was awfully hypocritical of him to imply that the teachers would tell them the truth.

“ I’ve tried,” she said, climbing the stairs to Gryffindor tower, “ You tried, too, and you know where it got us.”

Harry sighed, and Hermione took that as a sign that he had given in. But before they got a chance to creep up to Gryffindor Tower and grab the cloak, they crashed into Professor Lupin in the hall.

“ There you are,” he said, looking at Hermione, “ Come with me—quickly. Minerva is having a panic attack.”

“ I’ll only come if you agree to tell me everything!” Hermione exclaimed, flustered, and fed-up with McGonagall expecting her to blindly follow orders.

Lupin nodded. “ That’s exactly what she plans to do,” he said, and Hermione was shocked into silence for a few moments. Lupin looked at Ron and Harry.

“ This doesn’t concern you, boys,” he told them. Harry scoffed.

“ Sure,” he said, narrowing his eyes. Hermione thought it was awfully self-centered of him; assuming that every emergency at Hogwarts have something to do with him. Of course she was also almost sure that it did.

“ Whatever,” Ron muttered, “ Let’s just go, Harry.” Hermione nodded to them, and started to follow Lupin away when Harry grabbed her arm.

Hermione gasped without thinking—what Clio had said earlier had gotten to her, no matter how she was trying to ignore it. Harry frowned.

“ Hey,” he said, looking hurt, “ Don’t forget—if this is for my sake… you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. You can still bail out if you want—I’ll forgive you, I swear.”

“ Like hell I can,” Hermione said, holding up her hand, the slash she’d made in her pact with Harry streaked across her palm. “ And I don’t want your forgiveness. This is my battle, too—I wouldn’t be seeing ghosts and having these dreams if it wasn’t.”

Harry nodded, “ Right.” She was surprised to see a tear suddenly run down his cheek. Embarrassed, he quickly wiped it away.

“ Harry,” Hermione whispered, taking his hand carefully in hers, and wishing Ron and Lupin would disappear for a moment. “ What’s wrong?”

“ They’re going to take you away from me,” he whispered.

________________________

Hermione didn’t realize how right he was until she received McGonagall’s instructions. She flopped down into the familiar red leather chair in front of her Professor’s desk. Lupin stood at the window, hands folded nervously at his stomach.

Minerva McGonagall tapped a quill on her desk several times, staring at Hermione across her desk. She’s sizing me up, Hermione thought, staring back. Trying to decide if I can take it.

“ Nothing will surprise me anymore,” she said quickly, and McGonagall pressed her lips together. “ Just say it.”

McGonagall sighed, “ Dumbledore is in the hospital,” she said, leaning back. Hermione was a bit crestfallen—that was the big news? The old man had practically been on his death-bed for years.

“ Okay.”

“ So I’m in charge, for now.”

“ That’s good,” Hermione said, and McGonagall laughed.

“ Minnie,” Lupin said, his tone serious, “ Don’t you want to send her off before it gets too late?” McGonagall gave him a look.

“ You can’t just SAY a thing like this, Remus,” she snapped. Lupin rolled his eyes.

“ Bloody hell, Minerva,” he said, “ She’s not the one you have to worry about.”

“ Well I’d rather that she told him,” McGonagall said, “ Eventually.”

“ Told…him?” Hermione was confused—she hated it when people around her spoke like she wasn’t in the room. “ What?”

McGonagall looked at her. “ I hate to burden you with this,” she said, “ But I don’t want to send you back not knowing…. And furthermore, I need you to help me keep it from Harry for awhile.”

“ Keep what from Harry?” she asked, “ That’s not fair.”

“ It’s for his own good,” Lupin said, “ I’ve been keeping it from him for four years, Hermione. It’s the best thing for everyone.”

“ WHAT?”

“ James Potter,” McGonagall said, her eyes heavy, “ Is alive.”

Hermione fell back farther into her chair. Harry’s father? That James Potter? But….

“ How?”

McGonagall and Lupin gave each other a shifty-eyed look.

“ We…don’t know,” Lupin said, “ The….er, crime scene, was so burnt up and destroyed… well he was GONE, so we just assumed he’d died with Lily.”

“ But Lily is…?”

“ Yes, definitely,” McGonagall said, “ Her body was… well you could see the outline of where the necklace she wore had laid on her neck, right up until the moment he struck her.”

“ And that was the mystery,” Lupin said, “ Only a few of us knew about it—where did Lily’s necklace go?”

“ It was enchanted,” McGonagall explained, “ James fixed it with a protection charm—amethyst is a sort of guard against evil in the old school of magic. But she was wearing it when she died… I suppose it didn’t work.”

Hermione’s hand went to the amethyst crystal she wore around her neck. Lily’s necklace… Voldemort’s magic had touched this little trinket that hung around her neck. Hermione shuddered.

“ Harry gave it to me,” she whispered, “ He said he got it in the pocket of the Invisibility Cloak.”

“ The cloak that James arranged for him to have,” Lupin said, “ The cloak that James slipped his wife’s necklace into.”

“ When I saw you wearing it…” McGonagall trailed off, and covered her face with her hand. “ Of course you’re nothing like Lily was. But…it was hers. So strange.”

“ You may not know it,” Lupin said, “ But we’ve studied that necklace. It’s lost all it’s original powers, but that doesn’t mean James didn’t know what he was doing when he made it for her.”

“ We have reason to believe that the previous version of Lily’s necklace—the one that existed before the night that they were murdered, before Tom—Voldemort—blasted it, had something to do with the fact that Harry survived.”

Hermione squeezed the arms of the chair. “ You want me to go back?” she asked. They’re going to take you away from me…

McGonagall nodded. “ But there’s only one way that you can get close enough—“

“ Wait a minute, wait a minute,” Hermione held up a hand. “ What about James? Where is he? How… I mean, why hasn’t he told Harry he’s alive? And why can’t Harry know about him now that you’re sure?”

“ Oh, Hermione,” Lupin said in a sigh, “ If only… He’s not the man he was. Not at all. He was too weak… Voldemort beat him and then killed his wife. And his baby.”

“ What?”

Lupin and McGonagall looked at each other quickly.

“ That is, James THOUGHT Harry was killed.” Lupin said. “ He ran. And became a hermit, preferring that we thought him dead, rather than thinking he wasn’t strong enough to protect his family. By the time he found out Harry was still alive…why, he was just too ashamed. Too ashamed for leaving him, for letting Lily down.”

“ So WHERE is he?” Hermione demanded.

“ Nowhere near here,” McGonagall said, placing a small cauldron and some bottled liquids onto her desk. “ He’s in a place called Wutai. It’s a very spiritual place in the Orient. He’s still a practicing wizard… mostly just so he can monitor Harry’s progress from so far away.”

“ Will he ever try to return to Harry?” Hermione wondered, feeling sad. What a coward Harry’s father had turned out to be!

“ He wants to see him before he dies,” Lupin spat out, and then cringed.

“ Bugger!” McGonagall shouted at him. “ Lousy git! Can you put your foot in your mouth a few more times?”

“ Just tell me what I have to do,” Hermione said, not wanting to hear any more. McGonagall dumped half a bottle of a thick purple liquid into her cauldron. She plucked a feather from a drawer near the top of her desk, and tossed it in. It disintegrated, and the potion began to bubble.

“ Harry doesn’t have to die the way the prophecy predicts,” McGonagall said, “ That’s why we’re messing with the forces of time. But we can’t risk sending you back personally—you’d never get anywhere near that necklace.”

“ I don’t understand…”

“ You’ll go back as me,” McGonagall said curtly, not looking at her. “ A younger version of me, of course. Put this on,” she threw her the time turner.

“ Wha—“

“ It’s a complicated spell, but don’t worry, I’ll do all the work.” McGonagall put her hand over the potion she’d mixed and cooled it. “ Get Lily’s necklace and come back at once. Don’t just grab it off her neck—try to be sneaky about it. We don’t want too mess to much with the events of the past.”

“ Of course not,” Hermione muttered, her head spinning. “ So what will this necklace do?”

“ Whatever spell James used on the necklace, we think it’s the only thing that can do physical harm to Lord Voldemort,” McGonagall said, pouring some of the potion into a drinking glass. “ We’ve determined that only the strongest dark magic can harm him… and teaching Harry that would mean that he’d never be the same—be filled with so much hate that he’d likely just join Voldemort anyway. So we have to go after him physically—with magically enhanced weapons…if that makes any sense.”

“ Oh, criminy,” Hermione rubbed her temples. “ Okay.”

“ Now here,” McGonagall said, handing her a glass of the potion she’d made. “ It’s important that we drink at the same time.” Hermione took the glass in a shaking hand. A strange train of thoughts was running through her mind. Harry setting fires… James Potter alive and hiding from him….filled with so much hate… McGonagall lifted the glass to her lips, and Hermione did the same.

“ You’re going to feel a bit strange,” McGonagall said, “ Don’t worry about the time turner—Remus will turn it for you once the spell takes effect.”

“ WAIT,” Hermione said, a weird thought suddenly popping into her mind. “ If I’m going to become you…won’t you become…me?” McGonagall sighed.

“ I was hoping you wouldn’t ask,” she said, “ But yes.”

“ Well,” Hermione said, trying to keep a sense of humor, “ No living out your fantasies about James through Harry, okay?”

“ Hermione!” Lupin said, blushing. McGonagall burst out laughing.

“ Don’t worry,” she said, “ Just to be on the safe side, I’m going to stay away from the castle until you get back.” Just the thought of some other version of herself wandering around in the present while her mind was in the past gave Hermione a headache, so she choose not to think about it.

“ Remus,” McGonagall then said with a big sigh, “ Count us down?” Lupin nodded.

“ Good luck,” McGonagall whispered, looking at Hermione and raising her glass. “ I’m sorry, darling—I’d do this myself, but…it would be so hard…seeing everyone…”

“ 3….” Lupin began.

“….Knowing everything I know…”

Hermione nodded. It was hard enough for her, and she barely knew these figures in the past.

“ 2…..1….”

________________

Hermione stood in the infirmary with Harry, fingering the time turner.

“ Harry, come here,” she said, hoping he wouldn’t detect the shake in her voice, “ Quick!”

He moved toward her, and her cheeks turned pink from being so close to him. She nervously yanked the chain of her necklace out and held up the hourglass for him to see.

Just do it, she thought, her hands shaking.

She reached up and threw the chain over his neck. He stepped closer to her.

“ Ready?” she asked breathlessly. She wondered if she should tell him he had to hold her hand… the very thought made her knees weak and her heart race.

“ What are we doing?” Harry asked, completely confused, but more calm than she was. Hermione didn’t even have the voice to explain—she’d never been so close to falling into Harry’s arms. She reached up and turned the time turner. Once…twice…three times…

____________________

Hermione opened her eyes. She’d been dreaming about the time they’d saved the hippogriff Buckbeak, and Siris Black, back in their third year. The best and worst day of her life—she’d even got to stand in a dark closet with Harry for a few minutes. Of course back then, he was totally oblivious.

Where am I? She wondered, opening her eyes.

She was in a bed, and it was dark. Had she gone back in time? Was she McGonagall now? Hermione didn’t remember anything after the number “one”.

She tried to sit up, but she felt…funny. Her back was heavier, somehow. And her waist…it was too small. She managed, though, and looked over to the bed beside hers. She was in a dorm at Hogwarts—but not her dorm. The girl in the bed was chubby with wavy brown hair. She looked like Ron’s mom. Bullocks, Hermione thought, kicking her covers off, I don’t even remember her first name. She didn’t suppose Mrs. Weasley would do.

Hermione stepped out of bed and tried shakily to take a step. But it was no good—she came crashing to the floor the moment she tried to stand. I’ll never get the necklace at this rate! Hermione thought. She had no idea walking in someone else’s body would be this difficult.

By daybreak, though, she had almost perfected it. Hermione patted herself on the back. You always were good at everything, she thought happily peeking into the mirror to give herself a reassuring grin.

Hermione fell down again. Seeing McGonagall’s youthful face peering back at her was not easy to take at first. She stood up again, slowly, and studied this new face in the mirror.

Long, messy blond hair fell around her shoulders. Dark blue eyes peeked out from under thin eyebrows and light brown lashes. Well this is nothing like me, Hermione thought, she’s gorgeous. Hair needs a bit of keeping, though.

“ Minny?” Hermione heard a sleepy little voice behind her. She gasped like she’d been caught, and whirled around. That was Ron’s mother, alright. Now what on earth was her name? Betty? Dolores?

“ Y….yes?” It wasn’t Hermione’s voice. It was deeper, more even-faced, and refined.

“ What are you doing up?” Ron’s mother’s accent was heavier than Hermione remembered.

“ Oh…just…” Hermione suddenly wanted to get out of the past as quickly as possible. “ I had a bad dream,” she said quickly, with a false laugh.

“ Oh, no,” Ron’s mom whispered. “ You haven’t been dreaming about the Forrest again, have you?”

Hermione’s—or, Minerva’s—eyes practically fell out of their sockets. “ WHAT?” she couldn’t resist exclaiming. Ron’s mom was taken aback.

“ Sorry…I just thought…”

“ No, no,” Hermione shut McGonagall’s blue eyes and held up a hand, “ It’s okay. I’m just…half asleep. I don’t remember what I was dreaming about.” Ron’s mom nodded.

I’ve got to find something with her name on it, Hermione thought, heading for the bathroom. Maybe it would come to her in the shower.

By breakfast time Hermione was starting to worry. How was she going to get this necklace—she hadn’t seen James OR Lily all morning. She was sitting in the Great Hall at a Gryffindor table, eating with Lupin, Arthur Weasley, and Ron’s future mother.

Arthur was a dead ringer for Percy, but he acted more like Ron. Not quite as outrageous as the twins, but a bit cynical and teasing. Ron’s mother was perfectly pleasant, and trying very hard not to appear like she was in love with Arthur.

Lupin was different than the version of him Hermione remembered from the night Harry’s parents died. He was slimmer, and sharper, and obviously had his eye on McGonagall, which was awkward.

“ You look like you had a rough night,” Arthur said with a grin. Hermione sighed.

“ Yeah…”

“ You’re awfully quiet today,” Ron’s mom said, “ What’sa matter?”

“ Where’s James?” Hermione asked, deciding to cut to the chase. Arthur snickered.

“ You’ve got a real one-track mind, Minny,” he said, reminding her further of Ron.

“ He’s around,” Lupin muttered, “ I saw him on the Quidditch court this morning.”

“ He’s bloody obsessed!” Ron’s mom said, “ Don think he thinks about anythin’ else!”

“ Molly!” Hermione shouted suddenly, beaming. Finally, Ron’s mother’s name had come to her.

“ Yes?” Molly said, glancing at her suspiciously.

“ There’s James now,” Arthur said, pointing across the cafeteria. Hermione whirled around. Surely Lily—and the necklace—would be with him.

Her jaw dropped when she saw James Potter walking over to their table. It was like watching a slightly taller version of Harry strut through the Great Hall. Oh, great, Hermione thought. This is not going to be easy. The only difference between them was James’ lack of a lightening-shaped scar on his forehead.

James sauntered over to their table and took a seat near Lupin. He was a little more sloppy than Harry was—his top buttons were all undone, and his hair was mussed like Harry had kept his when he was younger.

“ I’m going to kill Tom Riddle,” James said, upon sitting down. Hermione choked on her banana muffin. Great Wizards, she thought, I don’t think I can take this…

“ You okay, Minny?” James asked. He seemed a bit cautious with her. Hermione held up a hand and coughed, to let him know she was alright.

“ What has the old bloke done now?” Molly asked.

“ Somehow all our broom are flying backwards,” James said, “ The whole team—and I just KNOW Tom is responsible. He had this LOOK this morning, when I saw him on the way down here.”

“ Can’t you fix it?” Arthur asked.

“ Sure, I already have,” James said, “ It’s the principle of the thing, Arthur.”

“ I did see Lucius and his little assistant in the supply room the other day,” Lupin said, “ I was wondering what a girlie like Snape was doing messing around with the equipment.”

“ Blimey!” James said, angry. “ Why can’t they just play fair?”

Molly laughed out loud, “ Ain’t you a good person?” she teased, pinching his cheek.

Suddenly someone slapped James hard on the back, and Hermione jumped. It was only Siris Black, though. Hermione still melted when she saw him—few boys paralleled his rugged good looks.

“ Don’t worry,” Siris said, sitting down with a wicked grin. “ I’ve got a little something up my sleeve for our favorite Slytherins.”

“ Oh, bugger!” a chubby little guy with a baby face sat down next to Siris, “ I forgot my Arithmancy homework! Minny, can I borrow yours?”

“ You most certainly can not!” Hermione snapped, recognizing the dreadful Peter Pettigrew. She glanced around the table, still looking for the barer of the necklace. “ Where’s Lily?” she asked. Everyone looked at her strangely, and James’ cheeks turned a deep red.

“ She’s where she always is, Minny,” Molly said, looking a bit confused. She pointed behind her, and Hermione turned.

The Slytherin table? But… She scanned the people eating on the other side of the room. There was Snape—good God, he was even more greasy and miserable-looking in his teenage years. And then there was Lucius—very sharp and sophisticated-looking in an evil way. And then… Hermione shuddered. Was that Tom Riddle? Harry had said he had black hair and had looked something like his father. But wait…the girl he was with…he had her arm around her…

Lily! Hermione wanted to shout it out, but by now she’d learned to restrain herself.

“ Yep,” Siris said, “ With her ‘dream guy’ over there,” he scoffed. “ Serpent-woman of Hogwarts, that’s Lily.”

“ How’d she ever get mixed up with a rotter like Tom?” Molly asked, “ She was so nice when we were kids.”

“ Maybe she’s still nice,” James said quickly, “ I mean….just cause she’s going out with Tom… you know. Doesn’t mean she’s all that bad.”

“ Are you off your rocker?” Lupin asked with a disbelieving scoff. “ Lily Andrews would sell her own son to gypsies for a sickle!”

“ THAT IS NOT TRUE,” Hermione screamed, without meaning to. She couldn’t believe this—LILY, Harry’s sweet and innocent mother, was in Slytherin and dating the King of the Netherworld? What kind of demented past WAS this? She looked over at James, who was staring at her after her sudden outburst on Lily’s behalf.

Now what am I going to do? Hermione wondered, quietly eating her oatmeal as James and Siris worked out a plan to get revenge on the Slytherin Quidditch team. She noticed Lupin was watching her eat.

“ WHAT?”

“ You’re sure in a weird mood today,” he said.

“ Forgive me,” Hermione muttered. She liked the sound of McGonagall’s voice—it was much more authoritative and bossy than her own.

______________________

Hermione ran into a dilemma when they went to Herbology class with Slytherin that day. They all had assigned lab partners—and McGonagall hadn’t bothered to brief her on who she should work with. Hermione stood awkwardly at the front of the class, waiting for all the lab counters to fill up, except whichever one she was supposed to work at.

“ Hey, Minerva,” came a voice from the back of the classroom, “ Hurray up.” She turned to see a frowning Lily, hands on her hips, waiting for McGonagall to get with it.

“ Right, sorry.” Hermione rushed over quickly. Lily was the sort of girl that you wanted to please—she was VERY beautiful, with that long red hair and a cute little up-turned nose. And very demanding, as well.

“ Come on, we have to cut up all these rat tails,” she said, boldly taking up a handful of them, as if it were nothing. Hermione, disgusted, carefully picked one up. She glanced over at Lily. Sure enough, hanging at the hollow of her neck, was the amethyst necklace. For a moment Hermione worried that she was still wearing it herself, and then remembered that she was in McGonagall’s body. The older version of the necklace was different than the one Harry had given her—it seemed to glow from deep within the crystal.

Well, she thought, I might as well get down to the brass tacks.

“ That’s a lovely necklace,” she said, “ Where’d you get it?”

Lily suddenly glared at her. She glanced over to the other side of the room, where Tom and Lucius were throwing rat’s tails at someone named Danny Longbottum.

“ What do you know about this necklace?” she hissed under her breath. Hermione’s heart skipped a beat—her green eyes blazed the same way Harry’s did when he was mad. Suddenly her heart ached, and she missed him.

“ I…er,” Hermione didn’t really have an answer, other than ‘ Just give me the damn thing’.

“ Come on, MINNY,” Lily said, grabbing her arm, “ We need to take a trip to the ladies room.”

----

____________________________

Lily managed to get them out of class with a little white lie about the rat tails making them sick to their delicate female stomachs. She yanked Hermione back into the building, and into the nearest bathroom.

Hermione stood awkwardly near the door while Lily lit a cigarette and started pacing back and forth beside the sink. Finally she looked up at Hermione.

“ The lying scoundrel told you, didn’t he?” she asked.

“ Wha—no…” Hermione had no idea what she meant, but McGonagall might have…it was difficult to respond to anything.

Lily blew a ring of smoke into the air. “Oh, sorry,” she said, holding out her cigarette “ You want a drag?” Hermione shook her head.

“ That’s not very good for you, you know,” she said, “ If you were to someday have a baby, I hope you’d quit.” Lily gave her a look.

“ Don’t try to change the subject, Minerva,” she said, “ I’m no idiot. I know you’ve had your eye on James for years.”

“ Well…I…” Hermione certainly couldn’t disagree with that, especially since she felt like Lily was talking about Harry.

“ You must have been watching him so hard that you figured it out,” Lily said, looking half angry and half satisfied. “ I’m not really surprised.”

“ Uh-huh.” Hermione was completely lost.

“ Wanna see a neat trick?” Lily asked with a grin.

“ Um…sure.”

Lily put out her cigarette in the sink, and held up the smashed white stick.

“ Octidavianis!” she said, and with a poof of smoke the cigarette butt became a little white flower. Hermione smiled at her. She didn’t understand any of this, but Harry’s mom did seem like a decent person. She walked over to Hermione and tucked the little flower behind her ear, reminding her of Rosa.

“ You won’t tell anyone, will you?” she asked softly. Hermione frowned.

“ Tell anyone…what?”

“ Who really gave me the necklace,” Lily said. She laughed to herself, “ I told Tom it was a present from my grandmother… I don’t think he believed me.” She looked at the floor. “ Sometimes I’m really scared of him…its like he can read my mind.”

“ Wait…” Hermione said, not even wanting to get into the Tom issue—it was just too sad. “ Who DID give you the necklace?”

“ You mean you haven’t figured it out on your own?” Lily asked.

“ No,” Hermione said, taking the little white flower out of her hair and playing with it’s petals.

“ Well I might as well tell you, now,” Lily said, a tiny smile finding it’s way onto her lips, “ I’m going to tell everyone soon.”

“ What?”

“ James Potter gave me this necklace,” she whispered. “ I don’t know how we became friends—it just HAPPENED, and then we got to talking about Tom, and what we both think about him…sometimes. I told him that Tom sometimes really gives me reasons to be frightened of him, so James hates him now.” She smiled, “ Oh, Minny, he’s so GOOD, he’s just the kindest person you’ll ever meet!”

“ So why don’t you dump Tom then, and stick with James?” Hermione knew this would happen anyway, but the sooner the better.

“ It’s just that I’m scared about how the other Slytherins will treat me…its like Tom has them all under his command, I swear.” Lily explained. She giggled, “ And anyway it’s more fun to meet in the garden at night…in secret.” She beamed. “ James Potter, my secret love—it’s awfully romantic.”

If I were McGonagall, Hermione thought, I’d be burning with jealousy. She almost was anyway, thinking of James as a sort of different version of Harry.

“ Well your secret’s safe with me,” Hermione said. She took the little flower Lily had made in her hand, “ Want to see a neat trick?” she asked.

“ Sure,” Lily said with a grin.

“ Flinidicioutus!” Hermione said, and the flower turned into a little white butterfly. It walked daintily to the tip of Hermione’s hand. Lily went over to the window and opened it, so the tiny creature could fly out.

Hermione smiled at Harry’s future mother as the butterfly took off, heading for the bright sunlight outside. She felt tears welling up in her eyes, and quickly told Lily that she had to get back to class.

It’s not fair, Hermione thought. She began to have fantasies about accidentally killing Tom Riddle that night at dinner. Meanwhile, she had no idea how she’d get that necklace, a gift from Lily’s beloved James. She knew she sure wouldn’t have given her own necklace up for anything.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fin felt tired, and lonely. He’d been in the cabin for almost a week, without and instructions or words from his Master. He slept most of the day, having nightmares about things that took place in Shinra mansion. Across the way and up the hill, Hogwarts was quiet and noble. Sometimes he almost felt as if the big old schoolhouse was watching him.

Sometimes he could see centaurs from his window in the evening, but that was the closet he’d gotten to any people. Teresa had said it was okay to let students and teachers at Hogwarts see him during his missions, but otherwise it would be dangerous to go near the castle. Fin didn’t understand any of it. He’d look up at the castle, often at night, and see it peering back at him with warm, bright lights, and think that maybe these straight-up blokes wouldn’t have it in for him. Sometimes he felt he could just walk up to the door; that they’d welcome him with open arms. Fin knew it was only wishful thinking, though.

The afternoon when Voldemort finally called for him, he was almost relieved to hear his Master’s voice, even in his mind. He’d been practicing transfiguring weapons from sticks, mushrooms, and other things he’d found in the old garden behind the hut. It wasn’t very easy, and he had been getting a bit frustrated with it.

Finley, a gruff, angry voice barked, creeping in through the corners of his mind. Get up off the floor, boy. Pay attention.

Fin was paying attention—he was ready for anything. He wished he could somehow ask his Master if his last mission had been successful. Had Teresa’s sister died? He had no idea, and there was no way to communicate thoughts back to Voldemort. Fin wasn’t powerful enough to get inside his Master’s brain.

Voldemort relayed his instructions, and Fin trotted out of the hut, up the hill toward Hogwarts. The big castle looked down at him as he headed toward it, gathering his energy: How could you? it seemed to say.

Take a right here, Voldemort hissed in his brain as he moved around the castle’s grounds. Fin could see his shape fading in and out of view, and realized Voldemort was controlling his body’s ability to be invisible, somewhat. Fin shuddered, and tried not to let it get to him.

Here! Voldemort shouted, as Fin passed a window on the lower level. Do it here. Fin looked inside—and old man with a broom was mopping up the floor, and a gray cat was grooming himself on the window sill. Oh, no, Fin thought, I can’t hurt the cat. He used his mind to gently shove the feline off the ledge. The confused animal fell to the ground inside, and walked over to the janitor, looking annoyed.

The old man looked up at the window, and Fin realized in horror that he was visible. What do I do? he wondered, panicked.

“ You!” the old man shouted, scowling, “ What are you—“

DO IT NOW! Voldemort roared through his head.

“ Unh!” Fin winced in pain as his Master sent a spell that felt like shards of glass in his brain. Fin pinched his eyes shut and threw out his hands. “ Brintickoulois!” He screamed—he couldn’t even do the spell in his head, he was so shaken from the blow.

Then shards of glass WERE flying everywhere—the window had smashed into bits like his Master had wanted. Fin saw the old man running away, looking terrified, with a gash on his cheek from a piece of broken glass. The cat followed him out of the room, casting a nervousing glance back.

Fin fell to the ground, shaking. Stop, stop, stop, he thought—I can’t get away if you keep attacking me from the inside…!

Voldemort was laughing in his head.

“ You are as disappointingly weak as ever, Finley,” he croaked, sending another strike of pain through his body, “ But what would I do without my secret weapon?” He laughed loudly again, the sound like nails scratching through Fin’s mind.