A Secret is Meant to be Kept

When Ron lashes out at Hermione and gets them into a sticky situation, Hermione transports herself back in time. But the Marauders Era was a bit farther than she expected. She must figure out how to reverse the spell, deal with falling in love all over again and fight against some of the most notorious Death Eaters, who are inside the castle's walls. Not as intruders, but as classmates.

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27. Stay Hidden

“Oh, just a few drops will do it,” Lily said brightly, pulling through Hermione’s matted hair, now resigning to using a bit of Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion.  Hermione, however, knew it would take more than just a ‘few drops’.  This, of course, was no issue, as there was a load of it in the house.  As the brush made its way through Hermione’s hair much more smoothly, Hermione made a mental note to thank her ‘father’ for his genius invention.

As Lily proceeded to braid Hermione’s hair, Lily made attempts to create small talk with Hermione, but as she was hit with short responses, she just braided in silence.  When she finished, Hermione stood and turned to the mirror that hung on the wall beside her.  Her features were worn and her eyes were tired.  Still reminiscent of a regular student, but she had seen such hard times.  Did she look like this in her past life … no … her life, her real life?  She had to stop thinking of this arrangement as something permanent.  She had to help what she could in this time and find her way home.

Lily stood quietly in the doorway and watched Hermione closely.  The brunette girl seemed much more distant these days and Lily’s heart sank every time she looked at her.  She only wished to help Hermione in any way she could, but each time her care was rejected.  A half smile formed on Lily’s lips as Hermione’s body became noticeably looser.

“When will you be back?” Lily asked softly.  As Hermione turned to her, her features seemed much more relaxed.  

“We’ll only be out for the day,” Hermione said, almost whispering.

“Tea’s ready!” a voice could be heard from somewhere outside the room.  At this, Hermione tensed up once more.

“Coming, Mum!”

Those were the last words Hermione spoke to her real mother before erasing her and Hermione’s father’s memories.  Gone, completely, any memory of their one and only daughter.  All for a battle that Hermione couldn’t win.  She never did make it back to her real family, and that’s all she wished she could do at this moment.

Lily grabbed Hermione’s hand and gave her a reassuring smile.  The girls exited the room and made their way down the stairs to meet Euphemia in the family room, who was waiting with tea and biscuits.

“We’ll be back later tonight,” Remus informed Ma Eu.  

“Where are you off to?” the woman asked her almost-son.  Remus began wringing his hands together as he looked at the worry etched across Euphemia’s face.

“Carressa is having a small birthday dinner, invited us over,” Hermione said, attempting to act cheery.  “It was short notice, and we’ve got to go pick up a hosting gift, which is why we’re leaving so early.”

“Of course!” Euphemia said, excitedly.  “It’s great to know she’s feeling better, and that she got to spend her birthday with her family.  Give her our best and find out when we’re to be expecting her!”

Remus cringed at this.  He couldn’t be sure if they could expect Carressa at all.  No one had heard from her in nearly three weeks, and once he was fully recovered from his monthly transformation, he enlisted Hermione’s help in searching for her.

“See you soon,” Hermione said, hugging Euphemia.  

As the pair and Lily exited the family room, they crossed paths with James and Sirius coming in from the gardens.  Lily broke from the pair to stand beside James, and Sirius seemed standoffish.

“We’ll see you lot soon.  Don’t have too much fun,” James said, waving them off.  When Sirius caught sight of James winking at Remus, his eyes grew wide.  They then narrowed as he looked at Hermione.  She stood close to Remus and they both looked more tired than usual.  Despite that, she exhibited a glow that was hardly contestable.

Taking a deep breath, Hermione assured James that they wouldn’t go crazy, causing a scoff to rise from Sirius’ throat.  When the pair had reached the end of the driveway, Hermione extended an arm to Remus.  As he took it, they nodded and disapparated from the spot, appearing in the shadows of Knockturn Alley.  Remus looked unfazed by the apparition, determined to get on with their mission.

“You seem more chipper than most their first time doing that,” Hermione said sarcastically.

“You’re not the only underage who can apparate.  If you thought for a moment that we hadn’t at least tried it, you’re kidding yourself,” Remus said, finally cracking a smile.  “Do you really think we’ll find her here?”

“Where else do you start hunting for a dark wizard?” Hermione said, pushing Remus to think about the situation logically.

“She’s not a dark -” he began, defensively.

“I didn’t say witch.”

Hermione began in the direction of the first store she could think of, Borgin and Burkes.  Feeling as if there was no better place to start, she intended on entering the storefront but was cut off by three hooded figures entering the shop before her.  She backed away from the door, holding an arm out to stop Remus.  As they stuck tight to the brick wall next to them, another pair of cloaked figures passed them.  This pair, however, had white blond locks peeking out of their cloaks.

“Lucius and Abraxas, I assume,” Remus commented.  “But who are the other three?”  Hermione searched for a familiar peak in which she decided they would get a better vantage point from.  After climbing up to the roof of an opposite shop, the pair gazed into the dark windows of the shady shop.  

“He’s going to take the mark …” Hermione muttered, feeling a sense of deja vu once more.

“What?” Remus said, perplexed by what Hermione meant.

Instead of responding, Hermione continued to peer into the adjacent window, trying to make out the murky figures, attempting to put names to the silhouettes that inhabited the store at that moment.  When she caught sight of the back of a girl with fiery red locks, though, she realized she was in the right place at the right time.  Her intuition had once again failed her not.

“Sheer dumb luck,”  Remus laughed, exhaling noticeably as he realized Carressa was at least alive.

“Remus, what do you know of Carressa’s family?” Hermione asked softly.

Remus swallowed, suddenly feeling a dryness in his throat.

“No.  That’s not possible … She comes from a respected family that -” Remus’ voice cracked.

“I’m not definitely saying that -” Hermione began, cut off by Remus raising a finger to silence her.  Two more cloaked figures entered the shop, followed from a distance by one final figure.  “Remus, we have to go … now.”

Remus’ eyes got wide as he looked at Hermione.

“We can’t leave, we have to go get her,” he said, completely uncharacteristically.

“Remus, we have to go.  We can’t be found interrupting this,”  she said softly, trying to make Remus understand the severity of the situation without startling him.

“Hermione, you knew me, didn’t you?” Remus said, an unfamiliar look in his eye.  He knew Hermione couldn’t tell him this information if she were even able to grasp what he meant by this question, but the moment he caught a flicker of positive light in Hermione’s eyes, he began to descend from the rooftop.

“What are you doing?” Hermione barked at him.  “Are you mad?  We need a plan!”

“Never stopped anyone before!” Remus said, running on pure courage and the few moments of disregard for logic that he could muster.  He ran past each window until he reached a boarded up door with a padlock securing it.  After attempting a simple unlocking charm, Remus was able to make it past the lock and rolled his eyes as he tried to pry the boards off the opening.

“Bombarda!” he said, causing a small explosion that allowed him to pass through the door successfully.  “So much for a subtle entrance.”

This time, Remus was taking the lead, silencing Hermione as they walked through the opening, on the lookout for anyone who could potentially be in place to take out people just like Remus and Hermione: intruders.  The pair split, weaving their way through the dusty artefacts that had made a home of the dark shop.  The lined rows of fragile pieces brought Hermione back to her time in the Department of Mysteries; the night her best friend’s godfather died.  Killed by someone she suspected to be in this room at that very moment.  She made her way around the second level of the musty store, sensing no hint of another movement, other than that coming from below them; she had yet to spot the girl they had come to find.  

“Carressa,” Remus said, blankly.  Hermione spun around to see him standing face to face with her redheaded counterpart, wands at each other's throats.  Remus lowered his first, but there was a distinct look of hesitation in Carressa’s eyes.  Hermione swept in toward the pair, forcing her voice into a soothing whisper.

“You really are alive,” she smiled.  Carressa averted her eyes toward Hermione, still firmly holding her wand to Remus.  Her eyes glimmered, smiling all on their own, but the look on her face was grim.

“How did you track me?” she asked in a hurried whisper, worried it had been simple to find her, a supreme flaw in her idea of “disappearing”.

“Luck,” Hermione said, “purely luck, but we need to get you out of here before this begins.”

Carressa began to step away from them.

“You shouldn’t have come looking for me.  That’s only going to make this harder,” the redhead began, forcing Hermione to defensively raise her wand.  “I’m not going to hurt you, but you have to go,” she pleaded, lowering her own wand, simply taking a few more steps away, backing into the ledge that overlooked the first floor of the shop.  Carressa took one glance before closing her eyes tightly.

Unsure of what was happening, Remus reached out to Carressa, to get a hold on her.  Carressa opened her eyes once more and attempted to keep an eye on both what was happening below, as well as what Remus and Hermione were anticipating, ducking away from Remus’ advance and stealthily moving along the ledge to get a better view.  After what seemed like only a short moment, Carressa narrowed her eyes at the scene below the trio, leaning into what was about to happen.  When she looked satisfied with whatever she had gathered by gazing upon the meeting below, she took one final look at Remus and shook her head.  

“I’ll see you soon,” she said, remaining grounded where she stood.  The boy made one final attempt to reach out to her, taking hold of one hand.

“Some things need to stay hidden,” she said, ripping her hand back, disapparating from the spot.

Hermione looked down, refusing to look at Remus’ face.  If Carressa wasn’t a part of the ceremony, where had she been all this time, and who was she hiding from?  Hermione cringed at the thought of what Carressa was running from.  As she glanced over the ledge, she only thought of the destruction that the people below her caused in her own lifetime.  Bellatrix, Lucius, countless others - each having their hand in the downward spiral of her future.  Not every person standing in the room below her was inherently bad, but none deserved the choice they were being forced to make.  Maybe she was inherently bad, or perhaps crazy, no, she was crazy.  Hermione held onto that thought as she held her wand out to the throw rug below herself.

“Incendio,” she said, setting fire to the rug, then lighting various objects that surrounded her.  As they quickly caught onto other items, Hermione was sure someone would notice the smell soon, and it was better that they leave before they’re seen.  She latched onto Remus’ arm, looping hers through his.  “Let them burn together, and with them, your woes as well.  We’ll find her.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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