Categories > Books > Harry Potter > The World Without You

The Truth Hurts

by Try_This 2 reviews

In which there is a lot of light.

Category: Harry Potter - Rating: R - Genres: Action/Adventure, Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Arthur Weasley, Bill Weasley, Dumbledore, Fred, George, Ginny, Harry, Hermione, Lupin, Molly Weasley, Moody, Professor McGonagall, Ron, Snape, Tonks - Warnings: [!!!] [V] - Published: 2006-07-30 - Updated: 2006-07-30 - 8756 words

A/N: Hello all! I just wanted to give all of my readers one big, giant, mega hug! I love you all sooooooooo much!

Anyway, here's chapter 2! We have contact! Whoot!!!!!!!!!

Disclaimer: As much as I wish it to happen, my name is not J. K. Rowling, and I am not making any money off of this, as much as I need it. (rolls eyes)

Chapter 2: The Truth Hurts.

"The Truth Will Ouch"

Hermione stretched languidly in her bed, enjoying the sensation of the cotton sheets rubbing against her. It was summer, she was relaxed and for once, everything felt like it was going to be ok. Just as Dumbledore had suggested, Hermione was staying at Hogwarts for the rest of the summer. It was too risky to have all of the Weasley's staying there as well, as Voldemort might get suspicious if no one was living at the Burrow, so Ron and his family had reluctantly agreed to go without her. Hermione was sad of course, but she would be seeing them every time there was an Order meeting so that took some of the sting away.

Harry was thankfully allowed to stay with her. Hermione didn't think that she would be able to go through with it without him. She loved Ron and Harry equally of course, but Ron was fairly callus when it came to other people's emotions. Harry on the other hand, well, he was better at being understanding when people were upset, Merlin knew that he was upset enough times in his life to know what it felt like. The two of them were just like the brothers she never had and Hermione wouldn't have it any way.

She sighed and rolled onto her back, laying a hand gingerly on her stomach. It seemed so surreal, that there was a new life growing inside of her. That her child would be coming into the world. Hermione knew that she had been forewarned so there was no reason for her to feel so shocked, she had two years to come to terms with her possible destiny but she felt as if it had just been sprung upon her yesterday.

When Dumbledore had first told her Hermione had thrown a fit, one of the few she ever had in her life. Her parents were furious and had tried to force her away from the wizarding world entirely, but with an uncanny ease Dumbledore had calmed them all down and made them see things rationally. If it did happen, he said, Hermione would be protected completely, as would the child. After an hour or two of convincing them, her parents finally gave up trying to get her to leave the magical world and Hermione had started to consider her position very carefully. She didn't tell Harry or Ron because she was afraid that they would abandon her, and if she lost them Hermione didn't think that she could continue on living. It was impossible to express how relieved she was when Harry had asked to teach her child how to fly when they were old enough; it just illustrated how strong their friendship really was.

She had sent her parents a letter the day after the attack to let them know that she was pregnant but safe from Voldemort. That had been two days ago and Hermione was awaiting a response, would they be happy? Sad? Disappointed in her? Hermione just didn't know.

"'Mione?" Harry's voice sounded through the door of her room "Are you awake?"

Hermione sat up in her bed and yawned, "Yes Harry, you can come in."

She watched as Harry's familiar mop of black hair poked in before the rest of his body followed. He was finally starting to go through one of the growth spurts that Ron had already experienced, and was now quite a lot taller than she was, with lean muscles from doing physical labour for the Dursleys. He still wore his hair somewhat long so that he could disguise the scar on his forehead but instead of looking like an unruly mop, it seemed much more stylish. Harry flashed her one of his shy boyish smiles and closed the door behind him.

"Do you want to go for breakfast now?" He asked, sitting down on the side of her bed. Hermione noticed that he was fully dressed, something that he rarely was so early in the morning.

Hermione smiled "What's gotten you up so early?" She questioned slyly as she got up and walked to her trunk that rested at the foot of her bed.

"There's a meeting this morning!" Harry said brightly. Hermione waved at him, indicating that he should turn around while she changed out of her pyjamas into a t-shirt and jeans. He turned obligingly, focusing his attention on the window. "Ron's coming today and I've wanted to go flying for so long and since you wont go with me...." He trailed off.

"It is not my fault that I am afraid of heights Harry!" She scolded, pulling the black t-shirt over her head. "Honestly!"

Harry chuckled; a sound that Hermione had feared she would never hear again after Sirius died, and shoved his hands into the pockets of his baggy jeans. "What about facing your fears, 'Mione? You never know, you might like it!"

Hermione sighed, this was an argument that she, Harry and Ron had had since first year and it always turned out the same way. "Harry, no. I will not use one of those death-trap broomsticks even if you pay me!" She tapped him on the shoulder to let him know that she was done and he turned around with a downcast look on his face. She scowled at him "None of that! You have Ron to do all of that crazy flying stuff with; so don't drag me into it. So, do you want to go to breakfast or not?" She asked.

Immediately his expression cleared and he nodded, allowing her to go ahead of him out of her room and into the common room that they shared. Madame Pomfrey had left for the summer yesterday and Dumbledore had thought it best to give them the Head Boy and Head Girls dorm for the summer. It was all pleasantly decorated in deep reds and golds with surprising cream and green accents. All the furniture was large and overstuffed, making everything incredibly comfortable. Hermione supposed she would need that when her ankles started swelling.

They made their way to the Great Hall in companionable silence, Hermione savouring the quiet of Hogwarts' halls that could never be found during the school year. It was really a place of opposites she supposed, during the summer when the outside world was brimming with life and energy, the school was quiet. And in winter, when everything was sleeping, Hogwarts was a honeycomb of activity. Fascinating.

"Have you thought of names?" Harry's voice broke the silence and Hermione had to blink a few times to register what he had said.

"For what?" What on earth was Harry talking about?

Harry gave her a look that asked 'Are you an idiot?' "For the baby, Hermione." He said, like she was slow or something.

"Oh, that!" Hermione said "Don't you think it's a bit early to be picking out names, Harry?" She asked, not wanting to admit that picking out a name would make her realize that all of it was real and she actually was going to have a baby.

Harry shrugged "I guess. I mean there's still, like, six months before the baby's born right?"

Hermione couldn't help but laugh "Nine months Harry, not six." She did a brief mental calculation in her head "I'm due in March and hopefully the baby won't come any sooner than it has to."

Harry grinned at her as they rounded the last corner to the Great Hall "Not looking forward to motherhood, Hermione?"

She shook her head and whacked his arm playfully "Of course I am you prat, I'm just not looking forward to the hours of labour pains that come with it!"

They opened the doors to the Great Hall and found that most of the Order was already there eating breakfast. The only ones missing were Kingsley Shacklebolt, who Hermione had heard was on a mission that week, and Mugundus Fletcher, who probably wouldn't show up anyway. There were two seats left at the High Table, one at one end of the table beside Ron and Fred in the midst of all the Weasleys, and another at the other end near Dumbledore and in between McGonagall and, Hermione felt her heart begin to race slightly, Snape.

Harry sent her a pleading look that Hermione could easily decipher; he didn't want to sit near Snape. Harry had told her in a letter before all of the chaos, that he wanted to try and make some sort of peace with Snape but the staunch Potions Master wouldn't make it any easier for him and Harry was quite nervous about approaching him. Hermione nodded to Harry that he was free to take the seat beside Ron, no matter how uncomfortable sitting next to Snape would make her.

There was something about him, something that Hermione just couldn't place. He berated and belittled her, never gave her a compliment for obviously perfect work, never gave her any ounce of approval of any kind and yet Hermione couldn't find any scrap of hatred toward him. She respected him immensely; his work for the Order, his knowledge of Potions and Defence Against the Dark Arts. He was a powerful and intelligent wizard with a voice that (and Hermione would rather die than tell anyone this) was so smooth and silky that it could make her melt with just a simple phrase.

Hermione didn't hate him, but then again neither did she like him as a person, he was rude and stubborn and infuriatingly prudish and completely bigoted and incredibly talented and magnificently honourable........ Wait, no, she needed to try that again. She respected him, but anxiously knew that the seeds were there for something more if she tended to them, but she would never. He was her teacher for Merlin's sake! Her teacher that absolutely hated her!

Although, if, and she wasn't saying that she did mind you, if she did happen to like him, she wouldn't be alone. Many of the other female populous at Hogwarts were enamoured with him. Mainly the academically minded of course, as he wasn't a stud by any means, but still he had quite a few admirers. Hermione wouldn't go so far as to name herself in that number though, no, not at all. Not yet anyway...

"Good morning Hermione." Before Hermione knew it, she was sliding into the chair at the table and McGonagall was smiling kindly at her.

Hermione smiled back at her favourite teacher "Good morning Professor McGonagall." She returned and shyly turned to her other side, to be polite "Professor Snape."

Snape inclined his head stiffly "Miss Granger." He said and returned to the paper he was reading.

Hermione inwardly breathed a sigh of relief that no one had commented on her pounding heart, she was sure everyone around her would be able to hear it, and quietly grabbed an apple and some toast from the mountains of food set out before her.

"So Hermione," McGonagall began kindly "what do you plan on doing during the summer? Studying for your NEWT's I suppose?"

Hermione felt herself blush slightly. Yes, of course she would be studying for an exam that was two years away when she had a pregnancy and a million other things to deal with. Honestly, had she made that much of an impression that she was a bookworm? She loved to learn, but her priorities had definitely straightened out since first year!

"I'm really not sure what I'll be doing for the summer, professor." Hermione admitted "Everything has sort of turned upside down for me, I'd love to study for the NEWT's but with the baby, now....." she sighed and smiled wanly "I guess I'll just have to deal with things as they come."

"An admirable idea!" Said Dumbledore enthusiastically "You have much to consider and prepare for, my dear. Best to take it all one step at a time, I say."

Hermione nodded, taking a bite of her apple. Dumbledore had no idea how right he was, or maybe he did, well in any case Hermione had a very good idea as to what she needed to get to prepare for this. She and her mother had had many chats about it, awkward talks that Hermione never wanted to repeat no matter how valuable they were. She had been given the "Talk" more times than she had fingers and had heard pregnancy horror stories over and over again, enough to now make her cringe at the thought of procreation. Not exactly what an expectant mother should be feeling.

"Well, feel free to ask for anything you might need in terms of furniture Hermione. I'm sure that I'll be able to transfigure whatever you want." McGonagall said frankly "I know that it is difficult to find inexpensive nursery sets in the muggle world, my sister-in-law had the hardest time when she was expecting!"

Hermione nearly choked on her apple when she heard McGonagall's tone, it seemed so..... girlish! Not at all like how she sounded during the school year!

"Oh yeah!" Tonks exclaimed from a little ways down the table, her hair was a nice honey blonde today but she had dark brown eyes. "I think I can get some of my cousin's baby clothes if you need them too!" Tonks' eyes were shining in excitement, "Oh this is so exciting! I just love babies!"

Hermione blinked a few times, not her too! Tonks was the tomboyish Auror! Not the squealing, baby loving puddle that Hermione was looking at now! Goodness, it was like 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'!

From beside her, Hermione heard Snape give a low sound of disgust "What in Merlin's name possesses women when they are around an expectant mother?" he sneered as he folded up his paper "They turn into gushing fountains of imbecilic stupidity! Personally, I do not see the need for such idiotic behaviour. A pregnant woman is just that, a pregnant woman. There is nothing remarkable about it."

"True, women do get a bit silly" said Remus with a smile "But it's the miracle of life Severus! You can't help but be a little impressed. I remember James turned into a grinning idiot when he found out that Lily was pregnant." Hermione looked over and saw that Harry had that faraway look in his eyes that he got whenever someone mentioned his parents, or Sirius, now that he was gone as well. At the mention of 'grinning idiot', Hermione saw Snape smirk almost evilly.

Mr. Weasley laughed "Just you wait Severus. It's always the toughest men that turn into the biggest idiots when their children are going to be born. Right Bill?" The oldest Weasley boy rolled his eyes. Bill had married his girlfriend of 13 months, Fleur Delacour, 6 months ago in a ceremony in France and they were expecting a baby in August, it was all Hermione had heard him talk about. Mr Weasley continued "I have a feeling that you'll be one of the worst when your time comes!"

Snape looked as if he had swallowed a lemon, and funnily enough, Hermione saw an identical expression on Ron and the twins' faces. "I should think not." Snape said firmly "'My time', as you so asininely call it, will not be arriving in this lifetime. Children are not to be a fixture in my future."

Hermione frowned, did he mean that he didn't want children, or that he didn't think anyone would want children with him? Hermione had the names of quite a few girls in the school that could definitely disprove that theory but she didn't think that the breakfast table was neither the time nor the place to talk about that.

Sensing that the topic was now definitely off-limits now, the chatter at the table turned to other things. Simple things, idle things. The things that got Hermione's thoughts away from everything else that was going on around her. She talked with McGonagall about a new Transfiguration paper that she had read, to Remus about the weather and to Ginny and Ron about a few random things that had gone on at the Burrow the past few days.

It was when Hermione had just downed the last of her glass of pumpkin juice and placed the goblet back down on the table that it happened.

It was Ginny's gasp that made them look up and get their first glimpse of the strange phenomenon. Hermione watched, slack jawed, as small pinpoints of white light began to appear at the walls of the Great Hall and move toward the centre of the room, right in the centre aisle between two of the tables and about 20 feet up. There was a pause, and then the loud noise of chairs scraping as everyone stood while they drew their wands. Hermione cursed herself for leaving hers in her bedroom and did her best to get out of McGonagall and Snape's way as they moved to the forefront.

"Get ready to stun!" commanded Moody who was stationed next to Dumbledore.

There was another pause as the lights began to brighten and more and more of it began to shoot toward the growing mass in the middle of the room. Hermione's eyes widened upon noticing that the light was condensing and was beginning to take some sort of shape.... but what was it? It took only a few more moments before Hermione realized what it was.

"It's a person!" She exclaimed. It was indeed a person, or at least the shape of one, hovering 20 feet up in the air. No one seemed to take note of her call though, and continued to train their wands on the glowing form.

Suddenly it was as if the sun itself had lent its light to whatever it was that was in front of them. It flashed pure, brilliant white light that burned Hermione's eyes to look at, and exploded outward, sending rays of itself out to the furthest reaches of the room. Hermione vaguely registered people calling out in surprise but was too busy preparing herself for the impact of the explosion to care. Was it a bomb? A Death Eater attack? It couldn't be, on one could apperate in or out of Hogwarts! It was impossible!

But if it wasn't Voldemort....... Who else would want to destroy Hogwarts?

Hermione waited for the impact of the explosion with tightly shut eyes, waited for her body to be thrown back, to feel the flames...... she waited, and waited.... and nothing came. Nothing?

Confused, Hermione opened her eyes. The light was no longer filling the Great Hall, but was now in a sort of dome shape on the floor, like it was covering something...

Or someone..... A small voice in her mind whispered.

The light pulsed once, then twice, growing smaller and losing brightness with each throb.

"Albus!" Hermione jumped when she heard Snape call out from in front of her "There is something there!" she squinted, he was right! There was a faint dark shape in the middle of the dome, which was still shrinking.

They all waited with baited breath as the light dissipated more and more. Hermione was so caught up in the silence that she nearly jumped out of her skin when Harry snuck up behind her and put his hand on her shoulder. His face was an intense mask of concentration, and Hermione could see him clutching his wand tightly in his hand, making his knuckles turn white. She looked over his shoulder to see Ron, Ginny and the twins as well, all looking grave and slightly worried, positioned in such a way that is was impossible not to notice that they were backing Harry up in case anything happened.

Silently Harry jerked his head to the side and gave her shoulder a little push, indicating that she should move in that direction. She acquiesced and nervously let him lead her and the others off to the side so that they could get a better view of the dark object while still behind the human barrier that the Order had formed.

From her new angle there was no doubt in Hermione's mind that the dark bundle on the floor was a person. Whoever it was was wearing a long black hooded cloak that covered their body from head to toe. The person was on their stomach, a large bag putting pressure on their shoulder, one arm outstretched and holding a piece of parchment along with something else that Hermione couldn't make out in their hand. Wait!...... was that? Hermione's stomach churned uncomfortably as she looked more closely at the crumpled form on the ground. It was.

Blood. The persons other arm was lying on the ground beside them at an angle that seemed like it had been snapped clean in multiple places. Even as the dome of light fizzled out completely, Hermione could see the pools of blood seeping out and away from the body following the lines of mortar in the floor, forming a gruesome spider's web. Whoever it was lying on the floor was seriously injured, possibly dying.

Dumbledore must have realized that as well. "Tonks, Arthur, Bill and Charlie, shield charms. Severus, Alastor, stunners only if necessary. Molly, heal whatever you can, you are with me," he commanded. His manner was calm but Hermione could hear the urgency in the commands he issued, it left no room for questions. "Everyone else, stay back."

Almost immediately everyone set to work, the shield charms were cast, creating a hazy barrier and Severus and Moody both took up duelling stances. Hermione bit her lip as Dumbledore and Mrs.Weasley made their way cautiously toward the prone and bleeding figure.

"Mum..." Hermione heard Ginny mutter worriedly.

"She's with Dumbledore, she'll be fine besides, she's the only one here with any training in healing, she was going to be a mediwitch before she married Dad." one of the twins reassured the littlest Weasley. Hermione couldn't tell who it was just by his voice, they were just too alike.

Dumbledore was the first to reach the person and with a few deft flicks of his wand, cast a number of spells that Hermione couldn't make out but obviously the results were what he wanted to see as he visibly relaxed. "Stand down everyone." he commanded "There are no traps on them."

The shields were dropped, but true to their suspicious nature Moody and Snape both remained stiff and alert to the slightest movement. Mrs.Weasley went straight to work after Dumbledore's announcement and everyone watched as she quickly fired spell after spell at the figure, her face knit with concentration. It seemed that with every spell she cast though, her look of worry grew until she finally looked almost.....frantic!

"Albus," she said, a jet of purple light hitting the figures broken arm, snapping the bones together with a loud crack. "This isn't working! There are too many injuries for me to deal with without access to healing potions. Almost all of the bones in their body are broken, someone's used multiple cutting hexes on them and that's just what I can see! I need a diagnostic potion Albus! Now!" Mrs.Weasley's eyes were blazing and she cast another purple coloured spell at the broken arm, healing a second break it seemed. Her eyes narrowed though, as she noticed the parchment and other object clutched in the person's hand. "Albus..."

In one quick motion, Dumbledore knelt down and pried the objects out of the persons grip but as soon as he looked at the item that was still blocked from Hermione's vision by the billowing sleeve of his robes, he did something so un-Dumbledore like that Hermione knew that he had been shocked down to his very core. He gasped. Dumbledore never gasped! He smiled benignly, his eyes shining merrily in a way that assured you that he already knew about whatever situation had shocked you!

"Dobby!" Dumbledore called out and almost immediately there was a POP signalling the small house-elf's arrival. "You will transport Mrs.Weasley and her patient directly to the Hospital Wing and retrieve a diagnostic potion for Mrs.Weasley once you are there."

There was barely time to register hearing Dobby's squeak of obedience before he POPped away with Mrs.Weasley and the stranger, bag and all, leaving only the pool of blood behind. Hermione wrinkled her nose up at the smell of it and was very grateful when Tonks vanished it away with a flick of her wand.

"What the bloody hell is going on?" Moody's magical eye was swirling around in in its socket wildly.

Dumbledore's expression seemed strangely vacant for a moment, but it was replaced by a grim look very quickly afterwards. He looked everyone in the room in the eye and Hermione felt chills run up her spine when the bright blue eyes met hers. "I am afraid that there is little time for a true explanation, as whomever it is that appeared here is gravely injured and Molly will undoubtedly need assistance attending to them, but I will do my best to condense the information." he paused, closing his eyes before beginning again. "When I formed the Order of the Phoenix I needed to take certain precautions, should the Order ever fail to prevent the spread of Darkness and the needless genocide of muggles and muggleborns. If the forces of the Dark should ever succeed with their plans, I am sure that it would mean the end of the world. I decided to craft a device that would be given to the leader of the Order to prevent that from happening. This was just at the time when the first time-turner prototypes were being developed, and provided me with the perfect answer. I created an incredibly powerful time-turner, one that would be able to take the user back entire years, back to a time when mistakes of the past might still be corrected. It would be charmed only to respond to the leader of the Order."

He paused then held out his hand, palm facing upward. Hermione saw it then, clear as day, resting on top of the weathered palm was what appeared to be a pocket watch. The gold casing was stained with random splatters of the stranger's blood and Hermione could see that the face of the clock had one large crack through the centre. There were three large dials on the side as well, most likely to set the time and date you wished to journey to. No one said anything, in too much shock but knowing that every word that Dumbledore said must be true.

"Our guest is undoubtedly from the future," continued Dumbledore, putting the broken time-turner gently in his pocket and sighing heavily. " Or should I say, our future. I had truly hoped that it would never come to this, but it seems that it was beyond even my control."

They lost to Voldemort. They would loose to Voldemort, and not even the all-powerful Albus Dumbledore would be able to stop it. Hermione had to swallow down the bile that rose in her throat at the thought of it. The memory of how much blood had come out of the stranger was fresh in Hermione's mind, and it made her wonder how they had come to be in such a state.... had they been in the Last Battle before coming here? Had they been defending Hogwarts all alone?

Hermione turned to Harry and the others, they all looked just as pale as she thought she probably was, but Harry seemed twice as horrified by it than anyone else. His eyes, which had slowly been gaining back the light that they had lost over the years of traumatic events, were now completely dark and blank. His face was hard and cold like stone and he wasn't moving. It was like with those few words, Harry Potter had just... shut down.

"Harry," Hermione said cautiously, she knew all too well how emotional and volatile her friend could get when he was like this "Harry, listen to me. This will change everything! By doing this, the person from the future is changing the outcome of what will happen, just by letting us know that in the future that she knows we lost. We can change it Harry, it doesn't have to turn out like we think it did, the future isn't set in stone!" she assured him, her own train of though actually soothing her own worries. If her adventures with her own time-turner in third year had taught her anything it was that the future was a very delicate thing, changing with the drop of a coin.

"Quite correct, Hermione." said Dumbledore "Now that we are aware of the future that our guest has lived in it is possible to change the outcome to something quite different. There will be time to discuss that later though," he said firmly "After we have prevented the death of the future leader of the Order. They seemed to be in rather bad shape, don't you agree?" he asked wryly, and then the orders started flowing "Severus, Hermione, Harry and Remus, you will accompany me up to the Infirmary and assist Molly with the patient. The rest of you should go on your way, the meeting will be postponed until further notice, and I promise I will keep you all informed on the condition of our visitor regularly, but this may take a while."

Hermione saw that Ron, Ginny and the twins were about to complain about being left out so she sent them a look that almost immediately made them close their mouths. Ron sighed, shooting a glance at her. "Just tell us everything when you can, all right mate?" he asked Harry.

"All right." said Harry, his expression clearing somewhat.

"We'll tell you soon, Ron." Hermione
smiled reassuringly at him. Dumbledore was already heading to the small side door that the teachers used and McGonagall was giving her and Harry an impatient stare, feeling herself blush Hermione ducked her head and grabbed Harry's arm, steering them both quickly after the teachers.

Hermione found it taxing as she tried to keep up with everyone else's long strides as they walked swiftly up to the Infirmary, her legs were simply just not as long as theirs! She would be damned, however, if she was going to be left behind just due to a lack of height! The trek to the Hospital Wing was shorter than Hermione remembered, or maybe it was the excess adrenaline in her system from the mornings exciting events, she couldn't be sure. She didn't dare make any motion to speak along the way as Harry still looked closed off and neither Remus nor McGonagall seemed open to discussion either.

They walked into the Infirmary to find the stranger occupying one of the middle beds, Hermione recognized it as the one that Madame Pomfrey always put Harry in whenever he was injured. It was directly across from one of the windows, providing an awesome view of the Quidditch pitch. The person's heavy looking black bag was on a nearby chair. Mrs.Weasley didn't notice them at first; she was completely focused on a long piece of parchment that she held in her hands.

"Molly?" Dumbledore asked as they all moved closer to the bed. "How are they?"

Mrs.Weasley shook her head heavily and brought the parchment over to him. "I had to put a complete Stall on them, Albus." she said. "It halted all of the bleeding, internal and external, and made sure that no more bones could break, but I just didn't have enough hands to heal them on my own! They would have bled to death if I didn't put the Stall on, and quite frankly I'm afraid to take it off to heal them! Just look at those injuries, I'm fairly astonished that they have held on this long." she gestured to the parchment.

Dumbledore hmmed and nodded gravely as he read.

"Who are they Albus?" Mrs.Weasley asked worriedly. "I haven't had the heart to pull their hood back yet."

Dumbledore began to explain everything to Mrs.Weasley but Hermione tuned him out, instead focusing her attention on the still figure lying on the bed. Cautiously Hermione moved toward the cot, wanting to get a closer look but at the same time terrified of who she might see underneath the cloak. What if it was the future version of someone she knew? Ginny or Ron or Harry? What if it was her? Or could it be that they were all dead, and this person was someone she had yet to meet?

"I suggest you stop where you are Miss Granger." Hermione whirled around to come face to, well, chest, with Severus Snape. Her eyes immediately snapped up to meet his, only to find that they were glaring at her condescendingly. "Before that unendurable curiosity you are so renowned for gets you killed."

"Sir?" Hermione cursed the high pitched squeak of her voice, she cursed how wide her eyes became with surprise and she cursed the way she could feel the pit of her stomach drop out when he said her name.

Snape sneered, making Hermione's surprise dwindle and her frustration mount. He was looking at her as if she were an incompetent first year! "As much as the Headmaster trusts that our guest means no harm, it is still advised that you keep your distance." his voice was low and held an undercurrent that made Hermione swallow compulsively.

Hermione forced herself to meet his stare openly. She was determined to show him that she was not merely the Gryffindor know-it-all that he had labelled her, and that her thoughts and opinions were just as valid as his, thank you very much! "I was just wondering who the next leader of the Order might be, sir. It could be someone we know who is in the Order now." She let that hang in the air for a moment, flicking her gaze to the completely hidden figure then did something quite out of character and smirked at him! Well, it was completely fair, he was always doing it to her! She saw his dark eyes narrow for a moment when she looked back at him. Her smirk grew at a thought that popped into her mind and she decided to vocalise it. "With the way they're dressed all in black, it could be you, sir."

Oh, what on earth was possessing her! Snape was going to eat her alive for that! Snape opened his mouth and Hermione steeled herself for the verbal assault but thankfully Mrs.Weasley decided at that moment to let out a mighty gasp, letting everyone know that she had finally been informed of what was going on.

"Merlin!" Mrs.Weasley exclaimed, quickly moving over to the stranger's bedside, practically shoving Remus and Harry aside in her haste. She frowned down at the figure, moving her hand to throw back the hood but hesitating. She turned to Dumbledore "What do you suggest we do, Albus?" she asked.

The headmaster frowned slightly "It would be best to deal with the injuries first, I believe. Do your best to think of them only as a patient for now, we will deal with their identity when they are in less delicate condition. Severus, Remus," the two men nodded "As you two have the most medical experience aside from Molly, I will leave you here to assist."

"What will Hermione and I be doing sir?" Harry questioned, earning an undeserved glare from Snape. Goodness, Harry was right in saying Snape would never let him apologize! That man was truly incorrigible!

Dumbledore smiled, it was one of his trademark smiles with his eyes glittering and his face fully animated like a small child who had just discovered something they thought was marvellous. He held up the piece of parchment that the person had been holding. "You and Hermione will be aiding me in reading the message that our guest has apparently left for us."

The three of them settled into Madame Pomfrey's office as Mrs.Weasley, Snape and Remus conferred on how to start healing. Dumbledore took Madame Pomfrey's rather gaudy pink armchair letting Harry and Hermione to sit on the two less comfortable, but also less pink chairs in the room.

"Now," said Dumbledore, laying the folded parchment on the desk. "Who wants to read?"

"I will, sir." Hermione volunteered, knowing that her 'unendurable curiosity' as Snape had put it was getting the better of her. Really though, who wouldn't be curious? At Dumbledore's nod, Hermione picked up the parchment and unfolded it carefully. It's edges were worn, she noticed as only one familiar with the aging of books could, as if it had been handled a lot or was very old. She cleared her throat and began to slowly speak the words on the paper.

Dear Headmaster Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore (Order of Merlin, First Class, Grand Sorc., Chf. Warlock, Supreme Mugwump, International Confed. of Wizards)
If your reputation has proceeded you throughout the ages correctly, then I do not doubt that you have surmised the basic facts about who I am and where (and when) I am coming to you from. This letter is to elaborate slightly on what you already know. The year as I know it is 2012, the Dark Lord has been in power for 9 years and the last of who you know to be in the Order fell one year ago.
My name is Cara Eden Leilani ............ . My last name will be revealed to you later, as I know that it would cause much more shock than is entirely necessary at this point. I am the leader of the Phoenix Brigade (a reworked version of your Order) and to assure you that the body you have found with this letter is truly me, I have three freckles underneath my left eye evenly spaced out in a upward curving line. Myself and the rest of the brigade have been planning this little trip for months now and I am willing to take complete responsibility for what I have set into motion.
I was given leadership of the Order last year by Ex-Auror Alastor (Mad-Eye) Moody just before his death. I have little over 15 people under my care in England and just fewer than 140 worldwide. As you will undoubtedly be able to tell, Voldemort's sphere of power now contains the whole world. The oldest I have in England is 18 and the youngest is 6. After the last of the 'Adults' died last year, my main objective has been to keep all of them safe, but I have also been leading raids and ambushes whenever possible, I refuse to hide away. Voldemort and his Death Eaters do not know me as 'The Chimera' for nothing.
When Voldemort came into power he claimed Hogwarts as his stronghold, so I have no doubt that I will be wounded when I appear in your time (possibly dead if Voldemort and his guards have their way) but know that I am prepared to die if that is what it takes to change the future that you will know. You must put your faith in me when I say that you want nothing to do with the world your children and grandchildren will be exposed to.
In the bag that I have brought with me there are many items that will be of invaluable use to you. One such item is the large, clouded glass sphere with the swirling grey smoke inside of it. It is an invention of someone in the Brigade, called a Memorandus. Place it in front of a large blank wall and speak the incantation 'Memorandus Visularae' and memories selected from members of the Brigade will be displayed for you just like a muggle video. These memories will show you more than any letter of mine could tell, and should be able to help you foresee future events so that you may stop them. Everything else that you might wish to use in upcoming battles have been labelled and have directions attached to them. There is a comprehensive list of spells and potions that have yet to be invented, if you would like to look at that as well.
Other items include a few of my things (in case you are actually able to keep me alive) and a few items that members of the Brigade wanted me to bring to you. Keepsakes if you will, they have small letters and notes attached to explain them and who they are for and from. Mostly they're from the younger kids, little things that they want their parents to have. Please don't worry about letting anyone know that they will be having children, we are changing the future already, so it can't hurt.
You also don't need to worry about causing a paradox, I have made certain that this is the first loop and if all goes as I hope, we will have no need for a second expedition to the past.
I think that's it. I have faith that you will do the right thing if I am unable to be there myself. I hope this finds you happy and healthy, and that you will keep all that I have said in mind. May the Phoenix guide your path.
Cara Eden Leilani ........... Commanding officer of the Phoenix Brigade.

"Nine years," Harry muttered when Hermione was done. "No one could stop him..." his eyes were dark again, stirring with emotions that Hermione couldn't understand.

Dumbledore was thoughtful as well "So we are all gone within 14 years." he said sadly "That future holds everything that I have fought so hard to prevent, leaving the battle to be fought by children!" he sighed "Well, no matter. It will be changed. I must admit, Cara has been quite thorough in her preparations of all this. Going so far as to give us a list of future spells is quite ingenious, we shall have to let you and Severus take a look at it, correct Hermione?"

Dumbledore was looking at her expectantly and Hermione could only gape like a fish when the words registered in her mind. Her and Severus? Oh, she could hear the caustic remarks already! But... it was so tempting! Spells that no one had ever seen or done or even thought of yet! So, even if Snape was double the sarcastic monster that he was usually, it would be worth it.

"Of course sir!" Hermione responded eagerly.

"Excellent." said Dumbledore "That will be all for now Hermione, you may go now. If it is not too much trouble, could you stay in the Infirmary and inform Severus, Molly and Remus of what was in the letter?" he asked, though Hermione could see the veiled order in it. Dumbledore's eyes grew focused "Harry and I will be having a discussion and I would appreciate privacy if at all possible." There was no room for argument.

Hermione nodded and rose from her chair, giving Harry a questioning look as she left. He was always having 'talks' and 'discussions' with Dumbledore now, and part of Hermione was just a little put off that she had no idea what they were talking about. Logically she knew that it had to be something that happened at the Department of Mysteries, because the talks started right after that, but Harry hadn't told her or Ron anything!

She closed the door to the office behind her and re-entered the Infirmary quietly. Mrs.Weasley was stationed on Cara's left, Snape on her right with Remus darting between the potions cupboard and the bed with phials. Hermione sat on a chair not to far away and watched intently as they worked.

Healing and medi-wizardry had always interested her, ever since her eventful second year where she was both turned into a half-cat half-girl and petrified. Even if she had been a muggle, she supposed that she would have become a doctor. She had never been truly squeamish when it came to blood and the human anatomy had always interested her....

She watched as bones snapped back together, as cut after cut was healed and numerous potions and salves were applied to the patients skin. Someone must have taken the heavy black cloak off of her finally, Hermione mused, but from where she was sitting she couldn't see much of the patient. It was all done with surprisingly good timing. Each person had their own area to work on, Snape was potions and salves, Mrs.Weasley was broken bones and Remus healed as many of the non-life threatening cuts as he could. There was a lot of blood, and Hermione was just a little worried that the patient was going to bleed out, but she trusted that Mrs.Weasley wouldn't let that happen.

An hour passed by. Harry and Dumbledore were still holed up in Madame Pomfrey's office, but Mrs.Weasley's spell casting was slowing down to less than a quarter of the speed it had been. Hermione waited patiently, proud of her skill of being completely silent when it was needed. Finally, Mrs. Weasley cast what appeared to be her last spell, looking exhausted as she sat down heavily on the bed next to her patient. Remus sat next to her, rubbing his neck tiredly.

"Will she be alright?" Hermione asked

All three of the adults started, Hermione fought off a smirk when she realized that Snape's hand nearly made it all the way to his wand before he realized that it was only her.

Mrs.Weasley nodded. "We've done everything we can for now. She'll have major bruising all over her body, but she'll live. Whoever she is, she's strong. Very strong."

"I don't know of anyone who could be alive after all of that." said Remus, his dark gold eyes were almost incredulous. "It looked like she had been tortured for hours on end then went back for more."

Snape scowled, but didn't comment on that. "What did the letter say, Miss Granger?" he asked, clearly expecting a direct and concise answer.

Hermione cleared her throat "Her name is Cara. She is the leader of the Phoenix Brigade, something like the Order in the future. All-" her voice faltered at the words "All of us will be dead within the next 14 years." There were gasps, but Hermione continued "Our children and possibly grandchildren will be left, 15 of them, to fight against Voldemort. We've lost Hogwarts to him, that's why Cara is in such rough shape; apparently she had to get into Hogwarts by getting past all of the guards. It- It was a suicide mission, and she knew it, but in her letter she spoke as if it was nothing!" she finished, not knowing what else to say.

Snape looked affronted. "Whoever this is cannot be this Cara woman you think!" he exclaimed and Hermione got up from her chair, her astonishment growing when she looked at the girl in the bed. "Use your head Granger! Merlin knows that it never shuts off in my class! This girl is no older than you!"

He was right.

The girl on the bed was definitely no more than 16, maybe even less if her height was any indication. The cloak had done miracles for hiding how small she really was. And thin! Goodness, there wasn't a bit of fat on her! Her entire body was lean, whipcord muscle, now almost all covered with thick bandages, most noticeably around her abdomen. Her form fitting black crop top and matching pants were almost all in shreds, looking like someone had taken shears to them in a fit of rage.

The girl's face was what held Hermione's attention the most though. Hidden slightly behind a large bandage wrapped around what apparently was a head wound, her hair was a shade darker than ebony, an unnatural colour that Hermione realized was created with muggle dye, and was pulled away from her face in a ponytail. There was a myriad of small silver coloured scars on the girls face, some larger and more raised than others which suggested that she had been using a potion to fade them away, but underneath all of them her skin was flawless. Her eyes were large without being dominating, her eyebrows thin and elegantly arched and her cheekbones sharp and high.

Hermione frowned; realizing who the girl reminded her of. Even if her hair was dyed, she looked like Snape.

A female Snape.

A beautiful, female Snape!

Hermione dared to look searchingly at her Potions Professor, then back to the girl. There was a definite similarity between the two of them! Couldn't he see it? Well he obviously didn't, because he kept shooting her glares to try and deny that the girl on the bed couldn't possibly be Cara whatever-her-surname-was. Besides, didn't Snape himself say that children were not to be a fixture in his future? Hermione was probably just imagining things... It took only a quick glance to the girls left cheek to find her answer.

"It's her sir." Hermione told him, her heart clenching involuntarily at the thought of how young she looked to be leading the Order. "In the letter she told us about a birthmark to identify her by. It's there sir, the freckles on her cheek."

Mrs.Weasley sniffled loudly "The dear!" she exclaimed "She's so young!"

"Yes she is, but she is the best our future had." Dumbledore emerged from Madame Pomfrey's office with a curious looking Harry in tow. When Harry saw the girl, Hermione noticed with a slight smirk that his mouth dropped open and he practically drooled. Eugh, boys!

Dumbledore approached Cara's bedside and sighed. "A child leading children in war. Well, I am eager to speak with her but I think it would be best to let her get her rest. Thank you for your assistance, Severus, Molly, Remus. I will put monitoring charms on her to let us know when she wakes."

Mrs.Weasley and Remus left, with goodbye hugs to her and Harry and promises to keep safe. Hermione felt exhausted, almost asleep on her feet after all this excitement, but more than that she felt the undeniable urge to learn as much as she could about Cara. Maybe Dumbledore would let her look in that bag........

"Harry, Hermione." She quickly came back to focus at Dumbeldore's voice. "There is nothing more that can be done here, so I suggest you find something to occupy yourselves with until Cara wakes. I would like for you two to be there when that occurs, so you will be keyed into my monitoring spell as well."

"Thank you sir." said Harry. With one long last look at the mysterious girl, she and Harry exited the Hospital Wing, not missing the look of annoyance that Snape sent to the both of them as they left.

Hermione's mind was whirling at one hundred miles an hour with questions and concerns and comments that she just somehow couldn't bring herself to speak.

All she did manage to get out to Harry was a squeaky "What are we going to do?"

She expected a shrug, or a quiet 'I don't know' from him. They were his usual responses and Hermione was counting on them to reassure her that Harry was just as anxious as she was.

Harry didn't shrug. He smiled. "We're going to change."

Hermione blinked. Change. It was definitely a good idea. She shot him a speculative look, "Since when did you get so wise?" she asked.

Harry feigned hurt. "I've always been wise! You've just now begun to notice my brilliance!" when she continued to stare at him he sighed, "Fine, Dumbledore told me that when I asked him the same thing. But it's good advice. We will change." his voice lowered and Hermione felt her heart tighten.

"We have to."

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