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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60. Chapter 51: Däemon

Long update today. I’m very excited to share this chapter with you – it’s been a long time coming!

 

Chapter 51: Demon

Dämonen

 

“Bit of a departure from tradition?” smirked Remus as Hermione led him along the winding laneways near her home. “Usually I’m the one that has to plan and prepare for our dates, not to mention practically drag you along to it.”

 

Hermione chose to ignore the last part of his comment.

 

“When you see where I am taking you, it may not be so much a departure from tradition, as you so put it. Also, there are a couple of others who I have invited, so it may not be quite the romantic getaway you had hoped for.”

 

Her tone was light-hearted and jovial, but her stomach was squirming. She wondered if it was too early in their new relationship for her to be doing this, but then it occurred to her that this was important, and she may not have much longer to do it.

 

Snape had done the unthinkable and revealed the prophecy to Voldemort. Apparently, he had also begged for Dumbledore’s mercy, and Dumbledore had given it. Still, it was now September, and Voldemort would strike at any moment. He must me made mortal, immediately.

 

“Right,” said Hermione, coming to an abrupt stop at an alleyway with a dead end. “We need to apparate to Hogsmeade, ready?”

 

Remus gave her a quizzical look before following her instructions and turning on the spot.

 

HPHPHPHPHPHPHP

 

Remus barely had the time to regain his balance before Hermione had grasped his shoulders from behind, and was pushing him towards the Hog’s Head Inn.

 

“You two are late,” Aberfroth waved to the pair as they passed through the bar and up towards the annex. “Albus was ‘ere a good twenty minutes ago with them two other lads, but they already left. I can call ‘em again if you want.”

 

Hermione shook her head as she stopped pushing against Remus for a moment.

 

“I just need a few minutes on my own first, thanks Ab. I’ll call down if we need anything.”

 

Aberforth nodded in understanding, and went around the bar out of sight to his own sitting room.

 

“Good,” replied Hermione, once he had left. “That keeps them out of the way. I just hope they left behind what I asked of them.”

 

“What are we doing?” Remus thought he had been very patient and uncomplaining until this point, but his patience was wearing thin.

 

“Hopefully I’ll be able to show you when we get upstairs,” replied Hermione, ascending the stairs to the annex two at a time, with Remus jogging slightly out of breath behind her.

 

‘Or rather, before I lose my nerve,’ thought Hermione as she opened the door into the familiar room.

 

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Remus flop down onto one of the couches.

 

“I just need to check something quickly,” she called out to him as she rushed over to the cupboard that contained all the horcruxes that had been collected so long ago.

 

She could feel their magic even before she had opened the cupboard. The room seemed to hum with it. Focusing on closing her mind, she opened the door and counted them.

 

The cup, the diadem, the locket, the diary and the ring.

 

They threatened to pull her in, but she firmly closed the door. It wouldn’t be long now and they would be gone forever. There was just one thing that she had to do first.

 

Pulling her wand from her pocket, she wordlessly waved it at the cupboard at the opposite end of the room. It’s doors swung open to reveal a shallow stone basin on the middle shelf.

 

Remus’ eyes almost popped out of their sockets as he watched Hermione levitate the basin across the room so that it came to a rest on the coffee table where he had his feet propped up.

 

“Hermione, what are you doing? What is that?”

 

Hermione walked across the room in slow, measured steps. The time had come.

 

“That is a pensieve. Specifically, it is Dumbledore’s pensieve. He has lent it to me so that I can use it to show you a few things. My memories to be specific…I want you to know the truth.”

 

Remus sat up a little straighter, putting his feet firmly on the ground.

 

“You’ve already told me you are from the ‘future’; what more is there to know?”

 

“You know the bare bones of the situation. There may be a few surprises in there, but you know all the important details already. I can’t quite put what I know into words, but I want to be honest with you. As much as we acknowledge it, we’ve never quite seemed to work around the fact that honesty is not one of our strengths. I’m trying to let you in, Remus.”

 

With that, Hermione took her wand and put it to her temple. From there she withdrew a long silvery strand, and gently floated it to the surface of the pensieve.

 

Remus took one long look at Hermione, not sure what to make of the situation. Would this make or break their relationship?

 

Taking a deep breath, he plunged his head forward into the now glowing basin.

 

Hermione was eleven and she was terribly excited to be going to Hogwarts. She had ready all the books and hoped that she wasn’t too far behind all the others who had come from all-magic families.

 

The other students seemed friendly enough, although one boy had lost his toad. Eager to please, Hermione was helping him to find it. There were two boys in the compartment that she opened. One with red hair, and one with black.

 

“We’ve already told him we haven’t seen it,” said Ron, but Hermione wasn’t listening, she was looking at the wand in his hand.

 

“Oh, are you doing magic? Let’s see it, then.”

 

She sat down. Ron looked taken aback.

 

“Er – all right.”

 

He cleared his throat.

 

“Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow,

Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.”

 

He waved his wand, but nothing happened. Scabbers stayed grey and fast asleep.

 

“Are you sure that’s a real spell?” said Hermione. “Well, it’s not very good, is it? I’ve tried a few simple spells just for practice and it’s all worked for me. Nobody in my family’s magic at all, it was ever such a surprise when I got my letter, but I was ever so pleased, of course, I mean, it’s the very best school of witchcraft there is, I’ve heard – I’ve learnt all our set books off by heart, of course, I just hope it will be enough – I’m Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?”

 

She said this all very fast.

 

Harry looked at Ron and was relieved to see by his stunned face that he hadn’t learnt all the set books off by heart either.

“I’m Ron Weasley,” Ron muttered.

 

“Harry Potter,” said Harry.

 

“Are you really?” said Hermione. “I know all about you, of course – I got a few extra books for background reading, and you’re in Modern Magical History and The Rise and Fall of the Dark Arts and Great Wizarding Events of the Twentieth Century.”

 

“Am I?” said Harry, feeling dazed.

 

“Goodness, didn’t you know, I’d have found out everything I could if it was me,” said Hermione. “Do either of you know what house you’ll be in? I’ve been asking around and I hope I’m in Gryffindor, it sounds by far the best, I hear Dumbledore himself was one, but I suppose Ravenclaw wouldn’t be too bad… Anyway, we’d better go and look for Neville’s toad. You two had better change, you know, I expect we’ll be there soon.”

 

The scene dissolved, and suddenly all the sunshine had gone from the image.

 

Hermione was sitting alone in the library late at night. Her eyes itched and struggled to focus on the book in front of her.

 

It was imperative that she figure this out.

 

Tonight.

 

She allowed her head to fall onto the dusty pages of the book.

 

How could a basilisk manage to make its way through the castle from a chamber underneath the school? The castle was enormous. It was no wonder that no one had ever managed to find anything.

 

Rolling her head to the side slightly, she wondered how long she would be able to stay hidden here until Madam Pince found her and kicked her out. The woman was ghastly, even Hermione had to admit that.

 

She looked like she had emerged straight from a Dickens’ novel; a ghost, clanging and banging against lead pipes of old houses, disturbing the occupants within.

 

Her thoughts stopped, catching on just one word: pipes.

 

Blackness surrounded Remus once more as the scene changed.

 

“Harry,” whispered Pettigrew, shuffling towards him, hands outstretched, “Harry, James wouldn’t have wanted me killed…James would have understood, Harry…he would have shown me mercy…”

 

Both Lupin and Black strode forwards, seized Pettigrew’s shoulders and threw him backwards onto the floor. He sat there, twitching in terror, staring up at them.

 

“You sold Lily and James to Voldemort,” said Black, who was shaking too. “Do you deny it?”

 

Pettigrew burst into tears. It was horrible to watch: he looked like an oversized, balding baby, cowering on the floor.

 

“Sirius, Sirius what could I have done? The Dark Lord…you have no idea… he has weapons you can’t imagine…I was scared, Sirius, I was never brave like you and Remus and James. I never meant it to happen… He Who Must Not Be Named forced me – “

 

“DON’T LIE!” bellowed Black. “YOU’D BEEN PASSING INFORMATION TO HIM FOR A YEAR BEFORE LILY AND JAMES DIED! YOU WERE HIS SPY!”

 

“He- he was taking over everywhere!” gasped Pettigrew. “Wh-what was there to be gained by refusing him?”

 

“What was there to be gained by fighting the most evil wizard who has ever existed?” said Black, with a terrible fury in his face. “Only innocent lives, Peter!”

 

“You don’t understand!” whined Pettigrew. “He would have killed me, Sirius!”

 

“THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE DIED!” roared Black. “DIED RATHER THAN BETRAY YOUR FRIENDS, AS WE WOULD HAVE DONE FOR YOU!”

 

Black and Lupin stood shoulder to shoulder, wands raised.

 

“You should have realised,” said Lupin quietly. “If Voldemort didn’t kill you, we would. Goodbye, Peter.”

 

This time the scene swirled and it was only Dumbledore’s voice that could be heard.

 

“ – in the light of Lord Voldemort’s return, we are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”

 

Then the scene evolved into something far more frightening and terrible. A mix of scenes played. They were many memories, jumbled together.

 

It was the Ministry of Magic. It was difficult to know exactly what was happening, but it was war.

 

Dumbledore had fallen from the Astronomy tower.

 

A broken ring.

 

Gringotts.

 

Dragons.

 

Slytherin’s locket.

 

Hufflepuff’s cup.

 

Ravenclaw’s diadem.

 

They were all there, and they continued to twist and morph creating a dizzy concoction of colour and sound, until the picture suddenly became clear once more. It was clearer than any of the other memories, and Remus knew that this one would be particularly painful.

"What are you doing here?"

The gravelly voice was coming from behind her, and Hermione had to resist the urge to jump into the air when she heard it. She must not show weakness.

Instead, Hermione stood up to her full height, and with her wand clenched tightly in her right hand, she spoke with the most authority that she could muster.

"What you're doing is wrong!"

Her voice reverberated across the room, mingling with the brilliant white light that seemed to be emanating from the bell jar at the far end of the room.

She felt the firm pressure of his hand grasping her around the wrist. In one fluid movement, he spun her around so that he had the advantage of being able to tower of her.

"Wrong, is it? Wrong to serve my master? To prove myself loyal? I'll be rewarded above all the others, because I would be the one to reverse all the damage!"

He spat on the ground, and Hermione had to move her foot away, swiftly, before the foul-smelling slime could hit it.

Hermione, however, did not back down. He may have been a foot taller than what she was, but she had not let him know that his strength on her left arm was futile. She lifted her other arm, so that her wand was pointed directly at the self-confessed Death Eater, and he did not even have the chance to blink.

"Incarcerous!"

Thin cords shot out of Hermione's wand, and the Death Eater was bound to floor, effectively severing his grip from Hermione.

"The aurors are on their way," she said, wand still pointing at the head of the man.

The more the man wriggled, the more the stench rolled off him and into Hermione's nostrils.

"You think that Harry Potter, the Golden Boy with his cronies, will be able to stop me?"

Hermione looked down at his oversized frame with contempt one last time, ears pricked for other sounds that she might be able to use as clues.

All that could be heard was the monotonous sound of many ticking clocks. Each of them hung on the wall; each giving no more information than the one next to it.

Her eyes kept swivelling around the room, looking for something she could use to distract him.

Finally, the sound of many feet running invaded her ears. They stopped abruptly just outside of the door, and it swung open to reveal Harry and Ron, wands aloft.

"Mione, you're ok..." Ron breathed as he rushed forward to help with the arrest of the man.

Hermione stood back, contemplating what a close call it had been.

Harry stood with her, watching closely as his students worked.

"You'll pay for this!" shouted the man, as Harry hooked his arm around Hermione's waist to lead her out of the Department of Mysteries.

"He was sick..." said Hermione, who up until that point not realised that she had been trembling.

She did, however, feel Ron move up beside her and take her hand in his.

"It's ok...you're safe now."

"He was using muggles as guinea pigs for his experiments."

"What kind of experiments?" asked Harry, suddenly looking very serious. "Did it have anything to do with what he was doing in that room tonight?"

Hermione nodded.

"He was sending the muggles back in time... trying to... it didn't work...they've been dying... Harry... torture..."

Her speech came out in gasps as the enormity of what this man had been doing hit her.

Harry took one look at her and knew that they would not be getting any answers out of her tonight.

"We'll take her to your mum's" he said to Ron, as he wrapped his travelling cloak over her now visibly trembling frame.

With a resounding pop they were gone, entirely unaware of the revulsion brewing inside Conrad Rowle.

A new memory this time, although Remus could see the connection between this and the previous one.

"Yeah, I hear you...I'm coming! I just have to find the key."

Hermione hauled herself out of bed, before stumbling over to her desk. She groped around, on and in it, before managing to find her keys in the Bermuda of a top drawer; however, her success was short-lived as she managed to tangle herself in her bathrobe.

She hopped across her flat, attempting to detangle herself, only to knock over part of her collection of herbs in pots. The smell of rosemary and thyme permeated the air as she finally made it to the front door, mentally cursing herself for having lost the keys in the first place.

She pushed the key into the lock and turned it, internally muttering ceasing the moment that she opened the door wide enough. A burly wizard was standing there, arms ramrod straight, wand pointing directly at her head.

His voice was gravelly and full of anger, but even through her fear, Hermione was able to detect what he must have thought was a sense of achievement.

"I told you that you would pay for what you did!"

With that, a bolt of brilliant light was ejected from the tip of his wand, hitting Hermione square in the face.

With that single blow, Hermione knew no more.

A new memory. Remus knew this because he had picked out the very pyjamas that Hermione was wearing in it.

 

A furious tapping sounded at Hermione’s bedroom window. It was certainly loud enough to drag her from the depths of sleep.

 

Her body jolted as her brain attempted to simulate consciousness. She was beyond exhausted. It was that kind of exhaustion where you feel like breathing is a struggle.

 

The tapping continued, louder than ever, and Hermione could not get away with ignoring it any longer.

 

Swinging her legs over the side of the bed, she hauled her head off the pillow and waited for the giddiness to disappear before standing and making her way over the window.

 

Fortunately the moon was very bright and when she pulled back the curtains it was easy to see that she was faced with a tawny barn owl. It was the very species that was used by Hogwarts. Seeing Hermione behind the glass, it hooted three times in quick succession.

 

Hermione opened the window, allowing the warm summer breeze to enter the room. The owl lifted its leg, patiently waiting for Hermione to untie the message it had brought for her.

 

Recognising the emerald green ink and slanted handwriting, she did not hesitate in ripping open the envelope. Eyes darted about in circles across the page, not quite knowing where to start reading. Lighting her wand with a whisper of an incantation, she felt her heart begin working in overdrive.

 

No one was safe.

 

Remus pulled his head out of the pensieve. His body was shaking, and his eyes were darting across the room to the cupboard that currently held the horcruxes.

 

“You lied to us.”

 

The statement was simple but it held more power than what Hermione dared to think.

 

“I did it to protect you,” replied Hermione, knowing that the conversation was turning downhill very quickly.

 

Remus sighed, not meeting Hermione’s eyes. Elbows resting on his knees, he used his palms to rub circles into his eye sockets.

 

“We’re not really going to achieve anything by discussing this, are we?” he said. “I just really want to know why you didn’t tell me it was Rowle. You must have known it was the same man – after your memory came back, that is.”

 

Hermione was at a loss.

 

“I don’t know,” she admitted, moving close enough to Remus to be able to pull him into a one-armed hug. “He hurt the both of us in unspeakable ways, but I believe that one day he will get what he deserves. Karma will catch on.”

 

Remus looked up at Hermione, a wry smile on his face.

 

“Karma?”

 

“Karma’s only a bitch if you are,” replied Hermione with a sly grin.

 

Despite himself, Remus let out a quiet chuckle.

 

“Oh, Hermione, you are absolutely incorrigible.”

 

They were silent for several minutes as they sat side by side. Remus still looked a little pale, and Hermione wondered whether she would be asking too much of him with her next request.

 

“I want you to be able to destroy one of the horcruxes. Here. Today.”

 

Remus’ brown eyes contrasted magnificently with his pale skin, as he looked Hermione straight in the eye. Yet, he did not reply.

 

“Remus? What do you think?”

 

Remus blinked several times, looking as though he had made him mind present in the room once more.

 

“Yes,” he replied in a low, quiet voice. “I’ll do it.”

 

Hermione let out a sigh of relief.

 

“A few weeks ago, Dumbledore and I took a little trip down to the Chamber of Secrets. Long story short, we managed to get some basilisk fangs and venom to be able to destroy the horcruxes. He’s bringing it with him… but there are a couple of other people that I have asked to help us…”

 

Hermione knew that Remus would not be pleased with what she was about to tell him, but she had gone this far, and was not about to back out now.

 

“The other people are Severus and Regulus…” her voice trailed off, allowing the information to sink in.

 

Remus swallowed thickly, wondering if Hermione was about to drop any more bombshells onto him. His breakfast was soon to make a reappearance if she wasn’t cautious.

 

“Does Sirius know?” he heard himself ask, voice hoarse.

 

Hermione replied quickly.

 

“No, Sirius is the only person who does not know anything. I couldn’t do it to him. Not even James and Lily know about their potential demise.”

 

Hermione stopped, willing the tears behind her eyes to dissipate. She had always spoken of their situation in anger, and for the first time in her life she acknowledged her grief for others.

 

She remembered a lonely evening several years prior where she had sat at her kitchen table, banging her fist against the hard wood with one hand whilst tearing out her hair with the other. She had acknowledged her grief of herself, and the life she might have had; but never had she stopped to think of what she may have lost in this new life.

 

“I spent the last fourteen years of my life fighting. That’s longer than the time I’ve spent out of war, and I’m tired Remus…”

 

Remus continued to stay silent, knowing that Hermione didn’t want advice or answers. All she needed was his presence: the knowledge that he would be there for her, no matter what.

 

Finally, it was Hermione that broke the calm.

 

“I’ll get Aberforth to owl Albus, and tell him to come along with the others. The horcruxes tend to put up a bit of a fight, but we may as well get this over and done with.”

 

Hermione disappeared down the stairs, and Remus could hear the soft rumble of voices beneath him.

 

Finally, everything made sense to him. She had known more about him than what he knew himself. She had kept herself hidden so that he and his friends would be safe. She sacrificed her safety every waking moment of her life so that he could have a better life. She had given him everything, and Remus suddenly understood James and Lily, Sirius and Marlene.

 

He couldn’t begin to imagine the grief that Sirius felt when Marlene was murdered with her family. His chest was contracting painfully at the thought that Hermione might be killed, and yet he knew that she was just downstairs, safe and sound.

 

He wondered if she would ever consent to a life with him. Married. Perhaps a child or two like James and Lily. The thought seemed foolishly impossible.

 

Hearing her footsteps ascending the stairs, Remus put away his thoughts for another time, smiling brightly as Hermione stepped back into the room.

 

“Albus is on his way. I suppose we had better get the horcruxes ready for them when they arrive.”

 

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHPHP

 

“Oh my goodness, Severus! What happened to your face?” Hermione’s voice became more high-pitched as her speech progressed.

 

Several jagged pink lines stood out against the pale white skin of Severus’ face.

 

Severus shrugged, stepping past Hermione and into the annex. Hermione noticed that he chose to ignore the presence of Remus instead of starting a new argument. Hermione could not help but feel a little proud at his display of self-control.

 

“The Dark Lord was angry, and I happened to be the person in the firing line.”

 

Hermione shivered. She knew enough about Voldemort to know that Severus was most likely lucky to even be alive.

 

“He doesn’t know, does he?” Hermione could not help but ask, even though she was fearful of the answer.

 

“About the Order, yes, he has known that for a long while. About what we are doing today, I would think not. Speaking of, shall we get started?”

 

Regulus had trooped in behind Severus, nodding a quick hello to Hermione. The past few months had taken a toll on him, not least because he had slowly been disengaging from his family, and other Death Eaters. He had Dumbledore’s protection, but each person in this room had experience with how far that really went.

 

Dumbledore strode into the room last. He gave an almost imperceptible nod to Hermione and Remus before joining the others, waiting for Hermione’s instruction.

 

“Yes!” Hermione called out to the occupants of the room. “We’ll get started. We literally do not have any time to lose. For future reference, this annex is a point of safety, as is my home. The Potters have the Fidelius charm on their home, as does Sirius and Remus. However, the protection of these homes is reliant on us keeping our mouths shut. Yes?”

 

“What about Hogwarts?” Regulus piped up from where he was now standing next to Remus.

 

Hermione’s eyes narrowed slightly before she responded.

 

“Hogwarts has never truly been safe…now, I will just lay out the objects and we can get started.”

 

From the cupboard in the corner she used her wand to levitate each of the objects, one-by-one, and deposit them on the floor.

 

The Gaunt family ring was at the feet of Dumbledore.

Slytherin’s locket was resting in from of Severus.

 

Regulus has Ravenclaw’s diadem.

 

Remus had Hufflepuff’s cup.

 

Hermione had Riddle’s diary. She hoped it would not fight back too much.

 

Moving her wand in the direction of the cupboard once more, Hermione levitated a basilisk fang to each person.

 

“If you want to do this with your hand, there are some dragon-hide gloves sitting on the table with the pink crochet table cloth. However, I suggest that you use magic for what we are about to do… or, have your wand ready. I’m not quite sure how these objects are going to react.”

 

Hermione paused, using the moment to gather her thoughts.

 

“The instructions are simple. Use the fang to pierce through the object; thereby killing whatever is inside. There is no easy way to do this, so…”

 

Hermione picked up a glove from the table, and once it was securely on, she used her gloved hand to hold the basilisk fang. Raising it above her head, she looked around the room to see that the others had done the same.

 

“One…two…three!”

 

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHP

 

Aberforth looked up towards the annex as he felt the entire pub shake. Dust fell from the ceiling into a pile of freshly polished glasses.

 

Wondering what Hermione and Albus were doing up there, he made to climb the stairs and have a look for himself; however, something stopped him.

 

“Secrets and lies, that’s how we grew up, and Albus…he was a natural.”

 

HPHPHPHPHPHPHPHP

 

Hermione could feel the itch of sweat on her brow, but she knew that it was over. A distant scream became more remote, and she was left wondering if Voldemort had enough life left in him to feel what they had done.

 

It was no matter now. All they could do was wait.

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