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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54. Chapter 45: Abendessen

Dinner

 

Authors’ Note: A pet peeve of mine is long authors’ notes, so I will try to keep this short.

First – apologies for taking so long to update. I’ve had a few stressful life events recently.

Second – When I first started writing this story, I had a different plan for the ending and the chapters I wrote then for the ending are now obsolete. So, rewriting everything is taking far longer than expected.

Thirdly – even though I’ve been terrible with updates, could you find it in your heart to read and comment?

 

 

It had been several weeks since Hermione had collapsed into Remus’ outstretched arms and she hated herself every day for it.

 

‘It was a moment of weakness,’ she kept repeating to herself, hoping that one day she would actually believe it.

 

Despite the continuous mental berating that she was living with, Hermione still managed to put it to one side and get on with her day-to-day activities. Tonight, that included a six-thirty dinner with the Potter family. It was the first of its kind since Harry had been born. Lily and James had finally emerged from the cocoon that was parenting, realising that life had not stopped around them whilst they were feeding, changing and adoring their son.

 

Living so close, Hermione had found it easy to visit them quite regularly since Harry had been born. At first it had mostly been to check that the Fidelius charm was working and that they were safe, but it was easy to forget about that when Harry gave her his first smile and would lift his pudgy hands to her for a cuddle.

 

The summer had been blissfully warm, but now that Halloween was approaching the nights were cooling down quite dramatically from the daytime sun. Hermione wrapped a thin cloak around her shoulders before checking her wand was in her pocket and jogging down the paths and alleys that created Godric’s Hollow.

 

Their home came into view as she rounded the last corner, and she smiled when she saw the warm glow of light coming from behind James as he opened the door for his guests, unseen to anyone else in the street. Sirius had already arrived, and Hermione’s heart gave a lurch in her chest when she saw Remus was beside him.

 

He looked less gaunt than the previous times she had seen him, but was now unsure of how to deal with the situation. Obviously she expected him to be there, but it was still slightly unsettling given the face that the last time she had seen him she had been sobbing into his chest. It was not exactly the look that she had been going for.

 

Now her brain was crowded with thoughts of what the appropriate course of action was. A part of her brain had engaged the fight or flight response, and she was definitely considering the ‘flight’ part of that.

 

“Hermione!” James peered around Sirius and Remus to greet her, giving her a brief hug when she approached him. Forcing a smile onto her face, Hermione hoped that she fooled them for long enough to get through the dinner.

 

James ushered them all inside, ready to ply them with food and drink.

 

Hermione entered the small home to find that it was the neatest it had been in months. Lily emerged from the kitchen glowing with self-pride. Hermione marveled at how she had the energy to accomplish this with a two-and-a-half month old baby.

 

They crowded around the table, and took to their seats with their drinks in hand. There was laughter and nobody commented on the fact that Marlene was missing. No one brought up the latest war news from ‘The Prophet’ or that Severus had been notably absent from several meetings held by the Order of the Phoenix. Not one person asked Hermione why there were several priceless magical artifacts under lock and key in Aberforth’s bar.

 

“Look at us!” exclaimed Sirius at one point, grinning as he balanced on the back legs of his chair. “Who would’ve thought that one day we would be grown up enough to be holding a dinner party.”

 

James chuckled as he took another swig of his wine. “Pads, don’t go getting all soppy on me. I don’t think I could bear another emotional woman in this house.”

 

Instead of getting angry with her husband, Lily only shook her head and topped his glass up with more drink. If he was going to drink, he may as well do it properly and for the both of them.

 

“Shush James,” she said to him. “I think that’s a lovely sentiment, Sirius. We ought to do this more often.”

 

A little more laughter accompanied the banter until Harry’s cries woke them from overhead. Hermione volunteered to check on the baby.

 

When she entered his room, she found him lying on his back, squirming around in the blankets.  Being extra careful to support his head, she lifted him from the bed, cradling him to her chest.

 

His cries momentarily escalated to shrieks before he sensed familiarity and settled down. Hermione placed herself in the rocking chair that had been donated to Lily several months before. It had belonged to an elderly lady who was no longer able to bear weight on her legs to be able to walk from her bed to the chair.  It was beautifully crafted and very comfortable, therefore Hermione did not realize that she had been with Harry for over half and hour when she heard Remus’ footsteps ascend the stairs.

 

It was several moments before his face appeared at the door, seemingly anxious at what he might find within.

 

“Hi,” he whispered, not wanting to wake the now sleeping Harry. “You hadn’t come back down. I was just checking to see if you were okay. It’s getting late.”

 

Even in the dim light, he could see the beginnings of a contented smile of Hermione’s face.

 

“I’m alright,” she replied, carefully getting up so as not to wake Harry. “Just lost track of time.”

 

She placed him back in his cot to sleep, and gently pulled the blankets up to keep him warm for the rest of the night.

 

“I should probably head off though,” she continued, turning to face Remus. “I have an early meeting with Albus in the morning.”

 

Remus immediately began to look shy. His face was pointed down towards his feet, and Hermione was sure that he was using the sleeping baby as an excuse to quietly mumble what he said next.

 

“I’m happy to walk you home,” he whispered, still not looking up. “Like I said, it’s getting late and it is very dark outside.”

 

Hermione was slightly taken aback by his offer, but not nearly as taken aback as her lack of resistance to the request.

 

“That’s very kind of you, Remus. I’ll get my bag from downstairs and we can go – if you’re ready, that is.”

 

Remus nodded, finally looking Hermione in the eyes. “I’ll be waiting out the front.”

 

Quickly going back downstairs, Hermione said her thanks and goodbye’s before being true to her word and meeting Remus at the front of the house in record time.

 

The first thing she noticed when she got past the front door was how nervous Remus seemed to be looking. Perhaps he regretted his decision to walk her home? The second thing that Hermione noticed was a massive drop in the temperature. James and Lily’s house had been incredibly warm, and Hermione’s cardigan now seemed very thin against the cool autumn breeze.

 

Crossing her arms over her chest, Hermione put on a brave face as she joined Remus. With one last wave to the others, and a promise from Remus to Sirius that he would indeed by home soon, the pair set off into the dim lamplight.

 

“Tonight was lovely,” said Hermione, endeavouring to stop her teeth chattering as she attempted small talk.

 

“Cold?” asked Remus, seeing right through Hermione’s façade.

 

“I’ll be okay, we’re almost there,” replied Hermione, wanting to fill up as much of the silence between them that she possibly could. Silence between her and Remus had not been a thing she considered until recently. She decided that she didn’t like it. It was far too uncomfortable because it gave her time to think of past times where silence hadn’t been so awkward between them.

 

Remus laughed, and in one swift move had put his arm around Hermione’s shoulders, pulling her into the warmth of his jacket. Hermione’s shivering slowly ceased, but she couldn’t help but feel the prickliness of the situation. Remus’ body had become far more defined since she had last felt it, and right now she was able to feel it right through the jacket. Insides squirming she looked for a distraction. Remus beat her to it.

 

“Tonight was lovely. It’s good to see everyone. I hardly get to see you anymore, Hermione. I can’t help but feel that you’re deliberately hiding yourself away from me.”

 

Hermione’s insides had turned into a different kind of uncomfortable now. It was a nagging tightness that hadn’t gone away since she had moved to Godric’s Hollow.

 

“I’m not hiding away from you.” Hermione hoped that Remus wouldn’t be able to see through her fib. Her personality was far too guilty for her to excel at any kind of lying.

 

“Then let’s get together again some time. Just for dinner, nothing else.”

 

It was a statement, not a request. Hermione had no excuses. After all, what was a dinner between two friends?

 

HPHPHPHPH

 

Hermione’s eyes widened as Dumbledore pointed at the world map he had spread out on his desk.

 

“Marbach is a commune in Alsace. A holiday destination for muggles, however they can not see where we are going.”

 

Hermione momentarily closed her eyes as she attempted to digest the information.

 

“Where exactly are we going?’ she warily asked of the Headmaster as she opened her eyes. Fortunately for her, Dumbledore was only too happy to ply her with more information.

 

“Centuries ago, a Knight built the beautiful Abbey of Marbach. Unfortunately, due to political unrest the majority of the Abbey was destroyed until the very gifted Madam Evangeline rebuilt it and made it functional. I say she is gifted because of her efforts, but also because she is a witch. Not only is she a witch, she is one of the very few witches who is able to speak Parseltongue.”

 

Hermione’s eyes widened. She had not heard of someone other than Harry or He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named being able to speak Parseltongue.

 

“She’s agreed to help?” Hermione could not help but be more than a little cautious when it came to Professor Dumbledore.

 

“Indeed, she has,” Dumbledore smiled brightly, rolling up the map with a tap of his wand. “I have agreed to meet with her, very soon in fact, and I would much appreciate that you join me.”

 

Numerous questions flitted in and out of Hermione’s mind before she even had the chance to acknowledge half of them.

 

“I will, but only if you tell me why we need to see her. Why is being able to speak Parseltongue so important?” she demanded of Dumbledore.

 

“Why, how else would we be able to get into the Chamber of Secrets?”

 

Hermione felt her stomach drop to the floor. He was mad. He must be. There was no other explanation for his foolishness.

 

“What do you suppose we do once we get into the chamber?” Hermione scoffed. She could feel her temper rising as she spoke. “Shall we pop in and ask the Basilisk if he would kindly donate a fang to ensure the destruction of his master? I think not.”

 

“Minor details,” Dumbledore dismissed her concerns with a wave of his hand. “Especially now that we have Madam Evangeline on our side. Did I mention that she has a few other pieces that would be of use to us?”

 

Having heard enough, Hermione’s brain temporarily switched off.

 

“Fine,” she said. “I’ll go with you, but I’ll be damned before I set foot into that Chamber. I don’t care what information that lady-friend of yours has. We are no use to one another, if we are dead.”

 

“That’s fine,” hummed Dumbledore as he rose from his chair and began to fiddle about with the items on his desk, straightening some up whilst putting others away in drawers. “I will apparate us momentarily.”

 

Hermione’s mouth had already opened to protest, but Dumbledore beat her to it.

 

“I know that you can not apparate in and out of Hogwarts, Miss Granger, but being Headmaster certainly has its privileges.”

 

Hermione closed her mouth as soon as she saw a flash out of the corner of her eye. It seemed that one of the portraits was not as adept as the others at faking sleep. Hermione glared as she refastened her cloak around her shoulders, in preparation for the journey.

 

Turning back to Dumbledore, she saw him place a few empty glass vials into his robes before he joined her at the opposite side of his desk, ready for action.

 

“If you could take my arm,” he said to Hermione, holding out said limb, “we can be off.”

 

Hermione pursed her lips in frustration before taking his arm, and feeling the familiar tug of apparition from her navel. It had been quite a while since Hermione had last travelled in this way, and the bile rising in her throat was nothing more than a testament to the fact.

 

Feeling her feet firmly plant themselves on solid ground, she swallowed down the contents of her stomach, and refocused her eyes to the picturesque commune of Marbach.

 

The smell of earth and sweet fruit permeated the air, and for miles all Hermione could see were vineyards. The sun looked as though it had been up for several hours, but it did not bring the warmth that Hermione sought. Shrugging herself further into her cloak, Hermione managed to regain control of her balance, and together with Dumbledore they followed the only path that their eyes could see.

 

Hermione could hardly consider it a path; it was more of a track that had been beaten down and trampled on by nearby farmers. Still, with her hand closed firmly around the wand inside her cloak she walked behind Dumbledore, wishing that she had eyes in the back of her skull.

 

Despite the beauty of the landscape and her ever-present disdain with Dumbledore’s plans, Hermione found her attention wandering off to her upcoming dinner with Remus.

 

Was it a date? Or perhaps just a dinner as friends?

 

Hermione could never tell if she was overthinking the issue, or not thinking it through enough. The tension raged on in her head so much so that she did not notice that Dumbledore had stopped in front of her, and she had a one-way ticket onto the ground via Dumbledore’s backside.

 

“Perhaps, I should have given you more warning,” chuckled Dumbledore as he extended a hand towards Hermione so that she could lever herself from the ground.

 

Hermione did not say anything to the Headmaster. She only grumbled and muttered quietly to herself as she dusted bits of grass and dead flower petals from her clothes, not quite noticing the reason for which Dumbledore had stopped.

 

“Bonjour, Evangeline!” he called out, and Hermione thought he had truly gone mad until she noticed a frail, elderly lady emerging from behind a large stone wall.

 

The lady walked with a stick, but Hermione noticed that she preferred to grip the wall with her free hand and wave back with her stick in the air.

 

“Bonjour, Albus. Que c’est beau de vous voir! Comment ça va?”

 

Despite the woman’s age and her apparently delicate constitution, her voice was strong and relayed a great sense of might and power beneath the bony exterior.

“Ca va bien Madame, merci. Il est merveilleux de vous revoir,” chuckled Dumbledore as he walked over to embrace her in a hug.

 

Hermione’s French was rudimentary from having spent holidays in France with her parents, and she could only guess that pleasantries were being exchanged in this situation. Although there seemed to be some German also thrown into the conversation that followed this. Hermione patiently waited while they spoke, and chose to take in the beautiful scenery until invited to be in the conversation once more.

 

“Albus, who is this young lady you have brought with you?” Madam Evangeline changed to English, and Hermione was glad to be included in the conversation once more.

 

“Evangeline, I would like for you to meet Hermione. She is currently assisting my research, which would be better discussed in a closed room and not in the middle of a field.”

 

Madam Evangeline took the hint and used her walking stick to beckon them forward past the stone wall from which she had first been seen. All at once, Hermione was greeted by a beautiful stone building, almost like a small cathedral.

 

Evangeline must have seen Hermione looking awestruck. She chuckled and pulled Hermione along slightly with her arm.

 

“Didn’t Albus tell you that you would be coming here to the Abbey, dear girl?”

 

Hermione continued to gaze up in wonder. It was a breathtaking structure, and not the ruins that Hermione expected to see.

 

“He did tell me. I just wanted expecting something so…”

 

Hermione could not find the words to describe it, but it seemed that Madam Evangeline took it in her stride.

 

“I rebuilt the Abbey from the ruins a number of decades ago, and have since used it as a sort of safe house for witches and wizards in peril. It is invisible to the non-magic folk, but that does not matter. They do not understand our ways anyway.”

 

Hermione followed both Dumbledore and Madam Evangeline through an enormous wooden door, and down a stone archway until they came to point where the walkway split into two.

 

“That is where the dormitories are,” said Madam pointing to the passageway on the right. “You are most welcome to spend the night, should you need to. I have plenty of spare beds to keep you.”

 

Dumbledore nodded, however declined her offer.

 

“Our meeting shouldn’t take too long, and we’ll be on our way again. I have a number of matters to attend to in London and back at Hogwarts. Your hospitality, however, is appreciated.”

 

The left corridor opened out into an enormous lounge room with vaulted ceilings and dozens of candles floating along the walls casting a warm glow around the room. A fire blazed at one end, cutting out any cold draughts.

 

Madam quickly bustled about the room offering tea and desserts from a tray. Hermione politely accepted one of each, and her mouth was soon watering as she bit into the delicate flakiness of a pastry. Another quickly followed it; and Hermione marveled at how fresh the fruit was on her tart and how it must have come from the surrounding fields. It was so absorbing that she had temporarily lost hold of the conversation between Dumbledore and Madam.

 

“Well, I do not see how I can help in that situation Dumbledore. I am well over one hundred years old now, and I can not keep up with that pace anymore. Not to mention the girl. Why are you risking her life and well as your own.”

 

Dumbledore had lost the gaiety he possessed moments ago.

 

“Evangeline, I beseech you to reconsider. I trust Hermione’s instincts among other things. Your gifts with language would be of enormous assistance to us. It would be for only a day, and then you would be free to come back to the Abbey.”

 

Madam Evangeline seemed to waver. The tea sloshed around slightly in her cup as her hands quivered ever so slightly.

 

“There is a legend, although I would call it more of a rumour that may be able to help this situation. I would need a rooster for it, and even then I can not guarantee that either of you would make it out alive.”

 

“Merci beaucoup, Madam,” said Dumbledore, his voice relieved. Although Hermione was once again left wondering what on Earth he had just agreed to.

 

 

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