A Dance Through Thyme [Harry Potter]

There are no strangers here; only friends you haven't met. An unknown man sends Hermione back to the Marauder's Era as revenge, however, the consequences are far more disastrous than what even he imagines when Hermione loses her memory of the past. Why did that man do this to her, and what secrets will be spilled? Who is the guilty party?

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48. Chapter 39: Familie

Chapter 39: Familie

Family

"When will you realise that they are just spies!" Hermione cried out. Her exasperation with Dumbledore knew no bounds. It was almost as though he took some kind of sick enjoyment in making her as furious as possible.

As much as Hermione failed to realise it at times, Dumbledore did not take her open hostility towards his plans all that well.

"We can not do anything without proof, Hermione," he stated, endeavouring to keep his voice calm although it was now nearing midnight and the pair had been cooped up in his study for the best part of four hours. "The Rowle family are very powerful, whether they are death eaters or not. It would be foolish to single them out and anger them. They have strong allies. Even if what you are saying is true, it would be inviting a death wish upon ourselves to act towards your assumptions."

Hermione's mouth gaped at Dumbledore's response. It was like all her arguments had just gone straight over his head without a single impression.

"Assumptions?" she protested. "Let us not forget that Conrad Rowle is the very reason that I am sitting here in this office speaking with you. He bullied Remus to the point of hospitalisation. In fact, it barely constituted bullying - it was an outright vicious attack! The Albus Dumbledore that I knew is dead in every sense of the word, and I would think that this Dumbledore before me would have quite a different view on the matter. Obviously I was mistaken."

"Indeed you are, Miss Granger," Dumbledore replied in a grave tone. "We reached an impasse on these matters well over a year ago, and yet here you sit before me making demands. I am well aware of the consequences of my actions. Lily and James may end up dead, and it would be a tragic loss for us all; but there is every chance of my plan succeeding. Think of it, Hermione; to live in a world free of Voldemort. We are halfway there. All we need to do is destroy the horcruxes before destroying him. It is all for the greater good."

Hermione snorted in derision. Folding her arms defiantly across her chest, she puffed herself up in her seat as though that action in itself would make her argument more convincing. Surely Dumbledore would have learned his lesson by now when it came to acting on 'the greater good'.

"I have lived in a world without the influence of Voldemort, and it is a glorious sight to behold, I won't argue with you on that; but the fact remains that I have already put myself in irrefutable danger for it. I watched my family and friends be slaughtered when put at the mercy of his followers; and I have been the subject of it as well. Death Eaters have infiltrated the ministry; they are within the school. I have given you a list of exactly who these people are, and you still do not act on it."

The clock chimed midnight, signalling the beginning of a new day. A couple of the portraits sniffled and turned in their sleep. Hermione was sure that she saw Phineas Nigellus blink a couple of times before recommencing his loud and obnoxious snores.

"I think that we should take that as our cue to end this meeting, Hermione," Dumbledore said, standing to guide Hermione out of the office. "Perhaps we could reconvene at another time when it is convenient for you?"

Hermione collected her belongings and followed the Headmaster to the door.

"I suppose that I am obliged to do so, for all the good that it would do for me and my point of view," she sighed. Not forgetting her manners, she bid Professor Dumbledore a good night and set off towards her home.

It would be another lonely evening; sitting alone in the dark with books as her only entertainment.

That was not entirely true - the marauders would occasionally drop by as time would permit, with James and Sirius bringing their significant others; but this was not the same as having someone to chat with all the time. Often, Hermione would find herself turning on the wireless just to hear the sound of new voices; but she quickly found that Celestina Warbeck was not always the best company that she could have.

It was impossible for her to make news friends. Anyone she brought home would immediately know the secret of the Fidelius charm, thereby greatly diluting it. Dumbledore intended this house to be a safe house as needed by members of the Order, and Hermione suspected that he would not take its unveiling as very welcome news.

Remus was the only person who had not come to visit. From Sirius she learned that Remus was angry about something, although he was under the impression that it was only exacerbated by the fact that the full moon was approaching. Lily was completely oblivious, choosing to live in her own bubble of happiness that involved her and the fact that the baby within her was still strong and healthy. James was the only person who had information that held any significance to Hermione; and he mostly refused to speak.

Quite understandably, Remus was still furious with Hermione and he hated that he had been kept out of the loop for so long. They had been a couple for a period of time, and had grown close. He had known all along that there was more to her story. A person did not simply turn up at Hogwarts with a mission from Dumbledore.

Sadness had permeated through Hermione's body as she heard this from James - it had taken a good few sessions of her tying to get information from him to get even that much out of him. Her only intention was to protect Remus at all costs, and if that meant withholding some information then so be it. It was all for the greater good - to keep them all safe, and healthy and whole human beings.

Now Hermione was faced with the fact that there were more people who knew of her secret. There was Dumbledore, Poppy, Minerva, Severus, James and Remus. Sooner or later, someone was bound to let a detail slip and they would all be in danger. Hermione could only guess at what Voldemort might do to get a hold of her. She would be an invaluable source of information to him; and even if she gave nothing away to him, he would be sure to find a way to stop her from giving information to the Order.

Despite Hermione's reluctance, it was less than a week before she found herself back in Dumbledore's office more a meeting instead of indulging on another lonely glass of wine at home. It was with a sigh of frustration and feeling utterly resigned that she knocked on the door to the Headmaster's study.

The heavy wood of the door swung open of its own accord to reveal that Dumbledore was not alone.

"Hello, Hermione," he chirruped with a smile on his face. "Excuse me for being rude and not rising to greet you, I was just chatting with Severus."

Hermione's eyes widened as she took in the sight. There chair where she was usually seated was indeed occupied by Severus Snape.

"I don't mean to be the rude one," she spoke in a clipped tone, "but why is Severus here?"

"He will be joining us," replied Dumbledore simply as he raised his wand to conjure another chair for Hermione.

"We have a few matters to discuss," continued Dumbledore, gazing at Hermione's horrified expression through his half-moon spectacles as they slipped down his nose slightly.

Hermione entered the room slowly, only taking her eyes off Severus to glance quickly at Dumbledore's still blackened hand. It did not look as bad as it once had, but Hermione could not stop the guilt from running through her as she saw it. She had known that Dumbledore would be tempted, but she couldn't help but trust his judgement when he insisted on seeking the ring on his own.

Shaking these thoughts from her head, she sat down in the newly magicked chair, looking directly into Dumbledore's face, wondering what would become of this meeting. Snape had yet to say a single word to her; his face was impassive. Did he elect to be a part of this meeting, or had Dumbledore influenced his input in some way or another?

"Now that I have you both here," Dumbledore spoke with renewed vigour. "We can get to work. I invited you here -"

"You haven't yet answered my question. Why is Severus here?" Hermione interrupted. Dumbledore blinked several times in her direction, wondering what may have promoted the outburst.

"Feeling threatened?" Snape sneered at Hermione, his eyes narrowing. It was not quite an expression of glee, but Hermione could see that he was not forcing himself to look unhappy or inconvenienced.

"No," replied Hermione coolly, staring directly back into Severus' obsidian eyes. "I was just wondering why you needed to be here specifically today."

"I am here at Professor Dumbledore's instance. I have been doing some very important work for the Order recently, and he felt that you ought to hear it."

Hermione ignored the obvious stab Severus made to inflate his self-importance, instead choosing the watch the air rush out of him when he realised that he was not going to get as big a rise out of her as what he had initially hoped.

Dumbledore watched their exchange with intrigue. He was not sure what to make of it. At least they were being remotely being openly hostile.

"I hope that Albus has put you to good use, at the very least. You may be a part of the Order but you are also within Voldemort's inner sanctum. Spill!"

Severus' eyebrows furrowed, not quite understanding Hermione's sudden change in attitude. He may have not been her close friend, but he was not entirely unobservant to Hermione's moods. She was never this curt with anybody. Clearly this was an example of still waters running deep.

"I am not sure that I understand you, Hermione," he said to her, genuinely perplexed by her haughty demeanour.

"Who are the primary Death Eaters? Who do we need to watch out for? Are there any attacks being planned?"

Snape looked at Hermione with scorn, and a little condescension.

"Surely, you wouldn't need me to tell you that the Dark Lord is continually planning the demise of the Order, and all the people within in. At the moment, he does not have a focus. He is using his followers for smaller attacks. Events which are less traceable back to the perpetrators of the crimes."

Hermione looked over at the Headmaster with a smug expression on her face. Dumbledore, however, ignored her repeated attempts to get his attention; instead choosing to focus on what Severus' words.

"There has been some discussion regarding the McKinnon family…"

Severus continued to ramble on; however at the mention of the name 'McKinnon', Hermione's blood ran cold. Her grip tightened on the armrest of the chair that she was sitting in. A distant memory told her of how the entire McKinnon family had been slaughtered in 1981. Marlene was a part of that family, and Hermione could not let her friend be killed. Sirius would be devastated, and she would never be able to forgive herself. Not when she knew it was going to happen, and had every chance of stopping it.

"We have to stop him," said Hermione, interrupting the flow of conversation that was pouring out of both Severus and Dumbledore.

Dumbledore's eyes lost their sparkle, whilst Severus looked on with disdain.

"Really Hermione, how do you propose we do that?" Hermione could not miss the sarcasm in his voice.

"I…I don't know," she admitted, feeling a flush of embarrassment suffuse her cheeks. Acknowledging that she needed to think her thoughts through a little better before opening her mouth, Hermione spread her hands out to either side of her body in a gesture of surrender.

"Thank you for your insight, but if you have nothing of value to add then perhaps you would prefer to leave?"

To an outsider, Snape may well have been smiling at Hermione, but only she could see the malice that was ticking away in his brain. Her eyes widened in a mixture of shock, and indignation.

"Are you insinuating that I do not have any input on the matter which is valid?" Hermione demanded of Snape.

"I am not insinuating anything. I am only stating fact," Severus haughtily replied.

"If we are stating fact, then I would like to remind the pair of you that there are Death Eaters present within our society; and between us we know who they all are! We have the upper hand here; and between the two of you, I can't use that advantage."

Hermione was sure that she heard Dumbledore sigh at this point, and Severus very clearly rolled his eyes.

"What do you suppose we do?" Snape began to round on Hermione, but Dumbledore held a hand up to silence him.

"I know who gets to live and who gets to die, Severus, and I want to help all those that I can. You know this as well as I do. The McKinnons, the Bones', Prewett's, Potter's…"

Hermione waited for Severus' reaction at the last name that she gave him, and she was instantly rewarded. First his eyes widened; then what little colour there was in his cheeks faded as his mouth dropped open.

"Which Potters?" he demanded of Hermione, fists clenching at his sides, hardly able to contain his emotion.

"Enough!" bellowed Dumbledore, effectively stopping all sound that was emanating from the pair. "I have to admit that I expected better from you Hermione."

Hermione had the decency to look ashamed. She had allowed Severus to rile her up, and get the better of her. Managing to keep her emotions in check for the best part of two years had been a challenge, but she managed. She didn't want to ruin all of that hard work for the sake of a feud that really had been brewing for the best part of a decade, even if Severus didn't know it at this point in time.

"Fine," replied Hermione coolly, attempting to restore her inner sense of equilibrium. "I just don't believe that sitting around all day, waiting for Voldemort to make his move will be of any use to use. The longer we wait, the more people there will be to defend, and the less people we will have helping us fight back.

"Everything will all work out in the end," said Dumbledore, his voice demanding Hermione's assent.

Hermione bristled at this comment, not quite sure how he could assert such an opinion. There was no way that he could be sure of that.

"Even in the next few months my statement will be true…" Hermione hesitated before stating the next idea which she knew to be fact. It may very well be Severus' undoing.

"Lily won't be able to fight. Indefinitely."

Dumbledore's incandescent blue eyes turned to face Hermione, giving her his full attention.

"Why is that?" he asked of her, genuinely curious as to why Hermione would make such a statement.

"Lily is pregnant. This is the baby that fulfils the prophecy that was made in my time. The same prophecy that has not been made by Sybil Trelawney in this time, that we must not implicitly trust. There is every chance that things will not go to plan, according to the prophecy."

Recognition flared in Dumbledore's face. Hermione did not have the courage to look at Severus, but she could hear his breath as it stopped in his throat. She could feel the heat of the rage which was rolling off him. He did not say a word as he stood from his seat. Robes billowing behind him, he left the Headmaster's study so swiftly it was almost at a run.

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHP

The thin nostrils that made a petty excuse of a nose in Voldemort's face flared for an infinitesimal space of time. A person who was not so accustomed to looking directly into his pale face may not have recognised the subtle change; but Severus knew.

Severus knew that Voldemort's insides would be screaming with white-hot anger. Every cell in his body would be protesting.

It did not matter that Voldemort had slashed his wand in the air several times, and instantly killed the others in the room. Severus stood still. He wouldn't have minded if Voldemort had turned and used the Killing Curse on him as well. Indeed it would be preferable to what Severus was feeling now.

He needed to make Lily pay. He needed her to see how much she had hurt him. He needed her to see what he would go through for her. Potter was far too arrogant to risk even his haircut for such important matters. She needed to see the mistake that she made by going for him. Severus would have been able to offer her far more protection.

In spite of how much Severus would have welcomed death, he flinched slightly as he felt Voldemort's ice-cold face near his. He could feel the tip of Voldemort's wand pressing firmly into his side.

"Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you right now?" the Dark Lord sneered, pushing the wand deeper into Snape's flesh.

Severus fought to keep his voice steady as he answered. This war was now personal. His Lily was in danger. His sweet, beautiful Lily who believed only the best in everyone; except for him. The day that she had turned her back on him in fifth-year was the very worst day of his life, although today was close to ruing him completely. He regretted it more than anything else. He couldn't sleep, nor hardly eat because the memory of it was constantly on replay. Wishing for nothing more than to be able to remove that memory out of his head, he looked directly into the deep red of the Dark Lord's eyes as he answered him.

"I can be of use to you, my lord."

 

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